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him, which Pope probably remembered when he wrote the following:
From shelves to shelves, see greedy Vulcan roll,
Thus Jonson, speaking of a parcel of books,
These, hadst thou pleas'd either to dine or sup,
I should be sensibly touched at the injurious imputation of so ungenerous, and, indeed, impotent a design, as that of attempting to diminish or sully the reputation of so valuable a writer as Pope, by the most distant hint, or accusation of his being a plagiary; a writer to whom the English poesy, and the English language, is everlastingly indebted. But we may say of his imitations, what his poetical father, Dryden, said of another, who deserved not such a panegyric so justly as our author: "He Invades AuThors LIKE A MONARCH; AND WHAT WOULD
j- See Observations on the Faerie Queene of SrENSEn, by Thomas Warton, sect. vii. p. 166.
BE THEET IN OTHER POETS, IS ONLY VICTORY
In Him."* For, indeed, he never works on the same subject with another, without heightening the piece with more masterly strokes, and a more artful pencil. Those who flattered themselves, that they should diminish the reputation of Boileau, by printing, in the manner of a commentary at the bottom of each page of his works, the many lines he has borrowed from Horace and Juvenal, were grossly deceived. The verses of the ancients, which this poet hath turned into French with so much address, and which he hath kappily made so homogeneous, and of a piece with the rest of the work, that every thing seems to have been conceived in a continued train of thought by the very same person, confer as much honor on M. Despreaux as the verses which are purely his own. The original turn which he gives to his translations, the boldness of his expressions, so little forced and unnatural, that they seem to be born, as it were, with his thoughts, display almost as much iuvention as the first production of a thought entirely new.
* On Dram. Poesy, p. 61.
i / • • "T
96 ESSAY ON THE GENIUS
This induced La Bruyere to say, "Que Despreaux paroissoit creer les pensees d' autrui." Both he and Pope might have answered their* accusers, in the words with which Virgil is said to have replied to those who accused him of borrowing all that was valuable in his iEneid from Homer, " Cur Non Illi Quoque Eadem Furta
TENTARENT? VERUM INTELLECTUROS, FACILIUS ESSE HERCULI CLAVUM, Q.UAM HoMERO VER8UM, SURRIPERE."f
* The Jesuits, that wrote the journals of Trevoux, strongly object plagiarism to Boileau.
f Donat. in Vit. Virgil.
OP THE ESSAY ON CRITICISM.
We are now arrived at a poem of that species, for which our author's genius was particularly turned, the Didactic and the Moral; it is, i therefore, as might be expected, a master-piece in its kind. I have been sometimes inclined to think, that the praises Addison has bestowed on it, were a little partial and invidious. "The observations (says he) follow one another like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose writer."* It is, however, certain, that the poem before us is by no means destitute of a just integrity, and a lucid order: each of the precepts and remarks naturally introduce the sucVol. i. H ceeding
* Spectator, No. 253.
ceeding ones, so as to form an entire whole. The ingenious Dr. Hurd hath also endeavoured to shew, that Horace observed a strict method, and unity of design, in his Epistle to the Pisones; and that, although the connexions are delicately fine, and almost imperceptible, like the secret hinges of a well-wrought box, yet they artfully and closely unite each part together, and give coherence, uniformity and beauty to the work. The Spectator adds, "The observations in this essay are some of them uncommon." There is, I fear, a small mixture of ill-nature in these words: for this Essay, though on a beaten subject, abounds in many new remarks, and original rules, as well as in many happy and beautiful illustrations, and applications, of the old ones. We are, indeed, amazed to find such a knowledge of the world, such a maturity of judgment, and such a penetration into human nature, as are here displayed, in so very young a writer as was Pope when he produced this Essay, for he was not twenty years old. Correctness, and a just taste, are usually not attained but by long practice and experience in any art; but a clear head, and strong sense, were the characteristical 1 . qualities