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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 eafily happen without any communication, fince there are many occasions in which all reasonable men will nearly think alike. Writers of all ages have had the same fenti. ments, 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 uneffential and cafual varieties; and we muft, therefore, expect in the works of all those who attempt to describe them, such a likeness as we find in the pictures of the fame person drawn in different periods of his life.

It is necessary, therefore, that before an author be eharged with plagiarism, one of the most reproachful, though, perhaps, not the most attrocious of literary crimes, the subject on which he treats should be carefully confidered. We do not wonder, that hiftorians, relating the fame 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; fome will please by their style and others by their method; some by their embellishments and others by their fimplicity; fome by closeness and others by diffufion.

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The same indulgence is to be shewn 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 fame 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 alteration.

Yet it is not to be desired, that morality should be considered as interdicted to allfuture 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 public without

any

other claim than that it is new. There is likewise in composition, as in other things, a perpetual viciffitude of fashion ; and truth is recommend ed 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 contem. poraries, and kill 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 compofition, by which a moralist

may deserve the name of an original writer : he may familiarise his fyftem by dialogues af ter the manner of the ancients, or subtilize it. into a series of fyllogistic arguments ; he may enforce his doctrine by seriousness and folemnity, or enliven it by sprightliness and gaiety; he may deliver his sentiments in naked precepts, or illustrate them by historical exam. ples; he

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tenation of a continued discourse, or relieve the busy by short ftrictures, and unconnected effays.

To excel in any of these forms of writing, will rea quire 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 efe fects 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 obfervation : whoever bas been in love, will represent a lover impatient of every idea that interrupts his meditations on his mistress, retiring to shades and solitude, that he may amuse without disturbance on his approaching happiness, or affociating himself with fome friend that flatters his paffion, and talking away the hours of absence upon his darling subject. Whoever has been fo unhappy as to have felt the miseries of long continu. ed hatred, will, without any asistance from ancient volumes, be able to relate how the passions are kept in: perpetual agitation, by the recollection of injury and

meditations,

meditations of revenge ; how the blood boils at the name of the enemy, and life is worn away in contri. vances of mischief.

Every other passion is alike fimple 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, muft perpetually exhibit the same appearances ; though by the continued industry of successive inquirers, new movements will be from time to time difcov. ered, they can affect only the minuter parts, and are commonly of more curiosity than importance.

It will now be natural 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 al. terations 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 courtfbip is perpetually varying: the different arts of gallantry, which beauty has inspired, would of themselves be sufficient to fill a volume; sometimes balls and ferenades, 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 an.bitious man has at all times been eager of wealth and power; but these hopes have been gratified in some countries by fupplicating the people, and in others by flattering the prince : honour in some states has been only the reward of military atchievements in others it has been gained by noi. sy turbulence and popular clamours. Avarice has worn a different form, as she actuated the usurer of Rome, and the stock-jobber of England; and idleness itself,

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how little foever inclined to the trouble of invention, has been forced from time to time to change its amusements, and contrive different methods of wearing out the day.

Here then is the fund, from which those who study mankind may fill their compositions with an inexhaustible variety of images and allusions :- and he must be confessed to look with little attention upon

- scenes thus perpetually changing, who cannot catch some of the figures before they are made vulgar by reiterated des.. criptions.

It has been discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, that the distinct and primogenial colours are only seven ; but every eye can witness, that from various mixtures, in various proportions, infinite diversifications of tints may be produced. In like manner, the paffions of the mind, which put the world in motion, and produce all the bustle and eagerness of the busy crowds that swarm upon the earth ; the passions, from whence arise all the pleafures and pains that we fee and hear of, if we ana. lyse the mind of man, are very few; but those few agitated and combined, as external causes shall happen to: operate, and modified by prevailing opinions and acci. dental caprices, make such frequent alterations on the surface of life, that the shew, while we are bufied in delineating it, vanishes from the view, and a new set of objects fucceed, doomed to the same shortness of duration with the former ; thus curiosity may, always find. employment, and the busy part of mankind will furnish the contemplative with the materials of speculation to the end of time.

The complaint, therefore, that all the topics are preoccupied, is nothing more than the murmur of igs

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