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same passage: "Aliena negotia centum ** per caput et centum sesiunt latus.' 1 A ** hundred businesses of other men fly con"tinually about his head and earsr.. and "strike him in the face like Dorres." Disc, os Liberty. And still more clearly fron* Mr. Pope's,
"A hundred other men's affairs,
'* Like bees, are humming in my ears,**
Learned writers of quick parts abound in these delicate allusions. It makes 4 principal part of modern elegancy to glance in this oblique manner at well-known paf. sages in the classics.
XV. I will trouble you with but one more note of imitated expression., and it shall be the very reverse of the last. When the passages glanced at are not familiar, the expression is frequently minute and circumstantial* corresponding to the original in the order, turn, and almost number of the words. . The reasons are, that, the imitated passage not being known, the imitator may give it, as he finds it, with safety, or at least without offence; and that,
besides, besides, the force and beauty of it would escape us in a brief and general allusion. The following are instances:
I. "Man never is, but always to be blest."
Essay on Man, Ep. I. ver. 6g.
Victuros agimus semper, nec vivimusunquain.
2. —" Hope never comes,
. . Milton, P. L. i. ver. 66.
from Euripdes in the Troad. ver. 676.
3. But above all, that in Jonson's Catiline, . .
"He shall die: ~ "Shall was too slowly said: He's dying; That "Is'still too slow: He's dead." . .
from Seneca's Hercules furens, A. in.
"Lycus Creonti debitas poenas dabit.:*' "Lentum est, dabit; dat: hoc quoque est "lentum; dedit." . .. . . •!
You have now, Sir, before you a specimen of those rules, which I have fancied might be fairly applied to the discovery of imitations, both in regard to the Sense and
Expression of great writers. I would not pretend that the fame stress is to be laid on all; but there may be something, at least, worth attending to in every one of them. It were easy, perhaps, to enumerate still more, and to illustrate these I have given with more agreeable citations. Yet I have spared you the disgust of considering those vulgar passages, which every body recollects and sets down for acknowledged imitations. And these I have used are taken from the most celebrated of the antient and modern writers. You may observe indeed that I have chiefly drawn from our own poets; which I did, not merely because I know you despise the pedantry of confining one's self to learned quotations, but because I think we are bet- . ter able to djscern those circumstances, j which betray an imitation, in our own • language than in any other. Amongst other reasons, an identity of :words and phrases, upon which so much depends, especially in the article of exprej/ien, is only to be had in the fame language. And you are not to be told with how much more
* . *
certainty ceftafitty we determine of the degre'i' <5F" evidence; which such identity affords for this purpose, iri a tongirige tfe speak, ttiiii' irf otic which Wd'oiity Tifp o'f spell'.
fcu* yo« wifl( BefE understand of wflalf'; importance this affirir of eitpteffiotf \t rb"tf\e^ discovery of irhitattOrisyBy considering now/' seldom we are able to fix an imitation"' bri; ;. Shakespeare. The reason is, not shifts there are not numberless passages iri nirtv very like to* others iri approved' author^,.or* that he had not read enough to grver'us *' fair' holtf'of hirn'; but rhat his exprefi1orir'S.!^ so; totally his own, that he almost: alWays &tif^ us, at defiance.
You will ask me, perhaps, riow'I am on' this" subject, how it happened' that Shakes speare's language is'every where'so rilucR''~_ his own as to secure his imitations', if theyiJ were such, from discovery? when I pro- ^ jiounce with such assurance of those of oils u' other poets? The answer* is given: fbr 'ri^°' in the Preface to Mr. Theobalds Shakespeare; though the observation, I thirik^ iaT' too 'good to come from that critifc. It' isj that, though his words, agreeably to the
stqjK of the English. tongue at that tarae^ be generally L*atin« hi* phraseology is perfectly. English: an. advantage, he owed m his. (lender acquaintance with. the. JLa&n idiom. 'Whereas the other. writers, of bi» age^. and. such. others. o€ an. older date. aa were likfily tp„ fall; into his; hands, had not only the most familiar acquaintance. with* the jUatin idiom, but affected on all occar sion^ to make use^ of. it. Hence k.Gomesv to. pas% thafj. though. he. might draw. some.*times from the Latin (Ben Jonlbn, yovk know, .tells us, He had less. Gretek). and.the learned. English writers, he takes nothing but the sentiment the expression comes of itselfj and'is.purely English.
I might indulge in other reflexions, and detain you still further with examples taken from his works. But we have lain, as the Poet speaks, on.these primrose beds\ too_ long. It is time that you now rife to your own nobler inventions; and that I return myself to those, less pleasing, perhaps, but/rhc«re useful studies* from which your friendty sollicitationsihave called me. Such as these amusements are, however,, L cannot '.' repenr