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~ . g. Spenser tells us of,
A little glooming light, much like a shade.
F. c. ii. s. i4.
Can you imagine that Milton did not take his idea from hence, when he said, in his Penseroso,
—glowing embers thro' the room
4. Again, in his description of Paradise,
Flow'rs of all hues, and without thorn the rose.
Every poet of every time is lavish of his flowers on such occasions. But the rose without thorn is a rarity; and, though it was fine to imagine such an one in Paradise, could only be an Italian refinement, Tasso, you will think, is the original, when you have read the following lines:
Senza quei suoi pungenti ilpidi dumi
5. Another instance, still more remarkable, may be taken from Mr. Pope. One of the most striking passages in the Essay on Man is the following:
Superior Beings, when of late they saw
Ep. ii. ver. 3i.
Can you doubt, from the singularity of this sentiment, that the great poet had his eye on Plato? who makes Socrates fay, in allusion 'to a remark of Heraclitus, "ot» cittipu*
The .application indeed is different. And it could not be otherwise. For the observation, which the Philosopher re'fers zrpk Ssiv, is in the Poet given to superior Beings only. The consequence is, that the Ape is an object of derision in the former cafe; of admiration, in the latter.
To conclude this head, I will just observe to you, that, though the fame uncommon sentiment in two writers be usually the
effect of imitation, yet we cannot affirm t;his of Actors in real life. The reason is, when the situation of two men is the fame, Nature will dictate the fame sentiments. more invariably than Genius. To give a, remarkable instance of what 1 mean.
Tacitus relates, in the first book of his. Annals, what passed in the senate on its first. meeting after the death of Augustus. His politic successor carried it for some time with much apparent moderation. He wished, besides other reasons, to get himself solemnly recognized for Emperor by that Body, before he entered on the exercise of his new dignity. Dabat fam<e, fays the historian, ut vocatus eleilufque potius a Republic a videretur, quam per uxorium ambitum et senili adoptione irrepjijse. One of his courtiers would not be wanting to himself on such an occasion. When therefore several motions had been made in the Senate, concerning the honours to be. paid to the memory of their late Prince, Valerius Messalla moved, Renovandum Per An
NOS SACRAMENTUM IN NOMEN. TlBERII J
other words, that the oath of allegiance
should ihould be taken to Tiberius. This was the very point that Tiberius drove at. And the consciousness of it made him suspect that this motion might be thought to proceed from himself. He therefore asked Messalla, "Nunt, se mandante, earn sententiam prom. "'sisfet?" His answer is in the following words: "Sponte dixisfe, respondit; neque ** in Us, qiia ad rempublicam pertinerent, "consilio nifi fuo usurum, vel cum periculo ** offenfionis." Ea, concludes the historian, sola species adulandi supererat.
Now it is very remarkable, that we find in Ludlow's memoirs one of Cromwell's officers, on the very fame occasion, answering the Protector in the very same species of flattery.
Colonel William Jephson moved in the House, that Cromwell might be made King. Cromwell took occasion soon after to reprove the Colonel for this proposition, telling iiim, that he wondered what he could mean by it. To which the other re.. plied, " That while he was permitted the honour of sitting in that House, he must desire the liberty to discharge his conscience,
though his opinion Jhould happen to displease."
Here we have a very striking coincidence of sentiment, without the least probability of imitation. For nobody, I dare say, suspects Colonel William Jephson of stealing this refined stroke of adulation from Valerius Messalla. The truth is, the fame situation, concurring with the fame corrupt disposition, dictated this peculiar sentiment to the two courtiers. Yet, had these similar thoughts been found in two dramatic poets of the Augustan and Oliverian ages, we should probably have cried out, " An Imi"tation." And with good reason. For, besides the possibility of an Oliverian poet's knowing something of Tacitus, the speakers had then been feigned, not real personages. And it is not so likely that two such should agree in this sentiment: I mean, considering how new and particular it is. For, as to the more common and obvious sentiments, even dramatic speakers will very frequently employ the same, without affording any just reason to conclude that their prompters had turned plagiaries.