Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Nos patria fines, et dulcia linquimus arva ;
Nos patriam fugimus : Tu, Tityre, lentus in umbra
Formosam resonare doces Amaryllida sylvas.

Ec. i. 3.
We leave our country's bounds, our much-lov'd plains ;
We from our country fly, unhappy swains !
You, Tit’rus, in the groves at leisure laid,
Teach Amaryllis' name to every shade.

WARTON.

His account of the difficulties of his journey, gives a very tender image of pastoral distress;

-En ipse capellas
Protenus ager ago: hanc etiam vix, Tityre, duco :
Hic inter densas corylos modo namque gemellos,
Spem gregis, ah! silice in nuda connira reliquit.

Ec, i. 12.
And lo! sad partner of the general care,
Weary and faint I drive my goats afar !
While scarcely this my leading hand sustains,
Tired with the way, and recent from her pains ;
For ’mid yon tangled hazels as we past,
On the bare flints her hapless twin she cast,
The hopes and promise of my ruin'd fold !

Warton. The description of Virgil's happiness in his little farm, combines almost all the images of rural pleasure ; and he, therefore, that can read it with indifference, has no sense of pastoral poetry:

Fortunate sener! ergo tua rura manebunt,
Et tibi magna satis ; quamvis lapis omnia nudus,
Limosoque palus obducat pascua junco :
Non insueta graves tentabunt pabula fætas,
Nec mula vicini pecoris contagia lædent.
Fortunate sener! hic inter flumina nota,
Et fontes sacrus, frigus captabis opacum.
Hinc tibi, quæ semper vicino ab limite sepes,
Hyblæis apibus florem depasta salicti,
Sæpe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro.
Hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras.
Nec tamen interea raucæ, tua cura, prlumbes,
Nec gemere aëria cessabit turtur ab ulmo.

Ec. i. 47.
Happy old man! then still thy farms restored,
Enough for thee, shall bless thy frugal board.
What tho' rough stones the naked soil o'erspread,
Or marshy bulrush rear its wat’ry head,
No foreign food thy teeming ewes shall fear,
No touch contagious spread its influence here.

Happy old man ! here 'mid th' accustom'd streams
And sacred springs, you'll shun the scorching beams;
While from yon willow-fence, thy picture's bound,
The bees that suck their flow'ry stores around,
Shall sweetly mingle with the whispering bonghs
Their lulling murmurs, and invite repose :
While from steep rocks the pruner's song is heard ;
Nor the soft-cooing dove, thy fav’rite bird,
Meanwhile shall cease to breathe her melting strain,
Nor turtles from th' aërial elm to 'plain.

WARTON. It may be observed, that these two poems were produced by events that really happened; and may, therefore, be of use to prove, that we can always feel more than we can imagine, and that the most artful fiction must give way to truth.

I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,

DUBIUS.

No. 95. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1753.

-Dulcique animos novitate tenebo. Ovid. Met. iv. 284. And with sweet novelty your soul detain.

It is often charged upon writers, that with all their pretensions to genius and discoveries, they do little more than copy one another; and that compositions obtruded upon the world with the pomp of novelty, contain only tedious repetitions of common sentiments, or at best exhibit a transposition of known images, and give a new appearance to truth only by some slight difference of dress and decoration.

The allegation of resemblance between authors is indisputably true; but the charge of plagiarism, which is raised upon it, is not to be allowed with equal readiness. A coincidence of sentiment may easily happen without any communication, since there are many occasions in which all reasonable men will nearly think alike. Writers of all ages have had the same sentiments, because they have in all ages had the same objects of speculation; the interests and passions, the virtues and vices of mankind, have been diversified in different times, only by unessential and casual varieties: and we must, therefore, expect in the works of all those who attempt to describe them, such a likeness as we find in the pictures of the same person drawn in different periods of his life.

It is necessary, therefore, that before an author be charged with plagiarism, one of the most reproachful, though, perhaps, not the most atrocious of literary crimes, the subject on which he treats should be carefully considered. We do not wonder, that historians, relating the same facts, agree in their narration; or that authors, delivering the elements of science, advance the same theorems, and lay down the same definitions : yet it is not wholly without use to mankind, that books are multiplied, and that different authors lay out their labours on the same subject; for there will always be some reason why one should on particular occasions, or to particular persons, be preferable to another; some will be clear where others are obscure, some will please by their style and others by their method, some by their embellishments and others by their simplicity, some by closeness and others by diffusion.

The same indulgence is to be shown to the writers of morality: right and wrong are immutable; and those, therefore, who teach us to distinguish them, if they all teach us right, must agree with one another. The relations of social life, and the duties resulting from them, must be the same at all times and in all nations : some petty differences may be, indeed, produced, by forms of government or arbitrary customs; but the general doctrine can receive no alterati n.

Yet it is not to be desired, that morality should be considered as interdicted to all future writers : men will always be tempted to deviate from their duty, and will, therefore, always want a monitor to recall them; and a new book often seizes the attention of the publick, without any other claim than that it is new. There is likewise in composition,

[ocr errors]

as in other things, a perpetual vicissitude of fashion ; and truth is recommended at one time to regard, by appearances which at another would expose it to neglect; the author, therefore, who has judgment to discern the taste of his contemporaries, and skill to gratify it, will have always an opportunity to deserve well of mankind, by conveying instruction to them in a grateful vehicle.

There are likewise many modes of composition, by which a moralist may deserve the name of an original writer: he may familiarize his system by dialogues after the manner of the ancients, or subtilize it into a series of syllogistick arguments: he may enforce his doctrine by seriousness and solemnity, or enliven it by sprightliness and gaiety: he may deliver his sentiments in naked precepts, or illustrate them by historical examples : he may detain the studious by the artful concatenation of a continued discourse, or relieve the busy by short strictures, and unconnected essays.

To excel in any of these forms of writing will require a particular cultivation of the genius : whoever can attain to excellence, will be certain to engage a set of readers, whom no other method would have equally allured; and he that communicates truth with success, must be numbered among the first benefactors to mankind.

The same observation may be extended likewise to the passions : their influence is uniform, and their effects nearly the same in every human breast: a man loves and hates, desires and avoids, exactly like his neighbour; resentment and ambition, avarice and indolence, discover themselves by the same symptoms in minds distant a thousand years from one another.

Nothing, therefore, can be more unjust, than to charge an author with plagiarism, merely because he assigns to every cause its natural effect; and makes his personages act, as others in like circumstances have always done. There are conceptions in which all men will agree, though each derives them from his own observation : whoever has been in love, will represent a lover impatient of every idea that inter

VOL. IV.

rupts his meditations on his mistress, retiring to shades and solitude, that he may muse without disturbance on his approaching happiness, or associating himself with some friend that flatters his passion, and talking away the hours of absence upon his darling subject. Whoever has been so unhappy as to have felt the miseries of long-continued hatred, will, without any assistance from ancient volumes, be able to relate how the passions are kept in perpetual agitation, by the recollection of injury and meditations of revenge; how the blood boils at the name of the enemy, and life is worn away in contrivances of mischief.

Every other passion is alike simple and limited, if it be considered only with regard to the breast which it inhabits; the anatomy of the mind, as that of the body, must perpetually exhibit the same appearances; and though by the continued industry of successive inquirers, new movements will be from time to time discovered, they can affect only the minuter parts, and are commonly of more curiosity than importance.

It will now be natnral to inquire, by what arts are the writers of the present and future ages to attract the notice and favour of mankind. They are to observe the alterations which time is always making in the modes of life, that they may gratify every generation with a picture of themselves. Thus love is uniform, but courtship is perpetually varying: the different arts of gallantry, which beauty has inspired, would of themselves be sufticient to fill a volume; sometimes balls and serenades, sometimes tournaments and adventures, have been employed to melt the hearts of ladies, who in another century have been sensible of scarce any other merit than that of riches, and listened only to jointures and pin-money. Thus the ambitious man has at all times been eager of wealth and power; but these hopes have been gratified in some countries by supplicating the people, and in others by flattering the prince: honour in some states has been only the reward of military achievements, in others it has been gained by noisy turbulence and popular clamours. Avarice has

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »