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promised to produce beauties, to which the sweet, the gentle and the graceful Guido would never aspire,
The last piece that belongs to this section, is the Ode entitled The Dying Christian To His Soul, written in imitation of the well known
• sonnet of Hadrian, addressed to his departing spirit; concerning which it was our author's judicious opinion, that the diminutive epithets with which it. abounds, such as Vagula, Blandula, were by no means expressions of levity and indifference, but rather of endearment, of tenderness and concern. This ode was written; we find, at the desire of Steele; and our poet, in a letter to him on that occasion, says, "You have it, as Cowley calls it, just Warm from the brain; it came to me the first moment I waked this morning; yet you'll see it was not so absolutely
_ inspiration, but that I had in my head not only the verses of Hadrian, but the fine fragment of Sappho.''*
* In Longinus, sect. 10. quoted by him, as a model of that Sublime which combines together many various and opposite passions and sensations, "ha /*» h n 7ra8os lpdii^aih vaQun 5c 2TN0A02."
It is possible, however, that our author might have had another composition in his head, besides those he here refers to; for there is a close and surprising resemblance* between this ode of Pope, and one of an obscure and forgotten rhymer of the age of Charles the Second, namely, Thomas Flatman; from whose dunghill, as well as from the dregs of f Crashaw, of Carew, of Herbert, and others, (for it is well known he was a great reader of all those poets,) Pope has very judiciously collected gold. And the following stanza is perhaps the only valuable one jFlatman^ has produced:
When on my sick bed I languish,
* See The Adventurer, vol. II. 2d ed. p. 23Q.
f Crashaw has very well translated the Dies Irse, to which translation Roscommon is much indebted, in his Poem on the Pay of Judgment.
% Of whom says Lord Rochester,
.' < Not The third and fourth lines are eminently good and pathetic, and the climax well preserved; the very turn of them is closely copied by Pope; as is likewise the striking circumstance of the dying man's imagining he hears a voice calling him away:
Vital spark of heavenly flame,
I am sensible of the difficulty of distinguishing resemblances from thefts; and well know, that a want of seeming originality arises frequently, not from a barrenness and timidity of genius, but from invincible necessity, and the nature of things: that the works of those who profess an art, whose essence is imitation, must needs be stamped with a close resemblance to each other, since the objects material or animate, extraneous
Not that slow drudge in swift Pindaric strains,
or internal, which they all imitate, lie equally open to the observation of all, and are perfectly similar. Descriptions, therefore, that are faithful and just, Must Be Uniform And Alike: the first copier may be, perhaps, entitled to the praise of priority; but a succeeding one ought not certainly to be condemned for plagiarism.
These general observations, however true, do not, I think, extend to the case before us; because not only the thoughts, but even the words, are copied; and because the images, especially the last, are such as are not immediately impressed by sensible objects, and which, therefore, on account of their Singularity, did not lie in common for any poet to seize. Let us, however, moderate the matter, and say, what, perhaps, is the real fact, that Pope fell into the thoughts of Flatman unawares, and without design; and having formerly read him, imperceptibly adopted this passage, even without knowing that he had borrowed it. That this will frequently happen, is evident from the following curious particulars related by Menage, which, because much has been said of late on this head by many writers of
G 4 criticism, criticism, I shall here insert. "I have dfteti heard M. Chapelain, and M. Dandilly, declare, that they wrote the following line;
D' arbitres de Ja pai?, de foudres de la guerre,
without knowing it was in Malherbe; and the moment I am making this remark, recollect that the same thing happened to M. Furetire. I have often heard Corneille declare, that he inserted in his Polyeucte, two celebrated lines concerning fortune, without knowing they were the property of M. Godeau, Bishop of Vence;
Jit corome elle a 1* eclat du Verre
Godeau had inserted them in an ode to Cardinal Richlieu, fifteen years before Polyeucte was written. Porphyry, in a fragment of his book on Philology, quoted by Eusebius, in the tenth book of his Evangelical Preparation, makes mention of an author, named Aretades, who composed an entire treatise on this sort of resemblances. And St. Jerome relates, that his preceptor, Donatus, explaining that sensible passage in Terence,