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evidences of transcription or imitation, must prove an instructive and entertaining research. It tends to regulate our ideas of the peculiar merit of any writer, by shewing what degree of genuine invention he possesses, and how far he has improved the materials of another by his own art and manner of application. In the mean time, it naturally gratifies every reader's inquisitive disposition. But where even the most apparent traces of likeness are found, how seldom can we determine with truth and justice, as the most sensible and ingenious of modern critics has finely proved, that an imitation was intended *? How commonly in this case, to use the precise and significant expressions of that delicate writer, do we mistake resemblances for thefts ? As this then is a business which does not always proceed on súre principles, often affording the amuse
* See a Discourse on Poetical Imitation, by Mr. Hurd.
ment of conjecture rather than the satisfaction of demonstration, it will be, perhaps, a more useful design to give Spenser's Imitations of Himself, as I have shewn Milton's in the preceding section. This kind of criticism will prove of service in the three following respects. It will discover and ascertain a poet's favourite images : It will teach us how variously he expresses the same thought; and will explain difficult passages and words.
B. i. Introduct. s. 3.
Fair Venus sonne that with thy cruell dart,
Like as Cupido on Idæan hill,
2. 8. 6.
And in the following, speaking of Cupid in the garden of Adonis.
Who when he hath with spoyles and crueltie
Thither resorts, and laying his sad darts
3. 6. 49.
And eke amongst them little Cupid plaid
From his fierce warres, and having from him layd His cruell bowe, wherewith he thousands hath dismayd.
2. 9. 34.
B. i. c. viii. s. xxix.
Prince Arthur enters Orgoglio's castle.
Then gan he loudly through the house to call,
There reign'd a solemne silence over all,
This affecting image of silence and soli
tude occurs again, after Britomart had surveyed the rich furniture of Busirane's house.
But more she marvail'd, that no footings trace,
3. 11. 53.
This is finely expressed : but the circumstance is common in romance. Thus when Sir Topas enters the land of Fairie.
Wherein he sought both north and south,
In many a forest wild;
Ne neither wife ne childe *.
But more appositely in the old metrical romance of Syr Degore.
He went aboute, and gan to calle
+ Sign. C. iii,
This romance is in the Bodleian library *, among the following pieces; which I mention for the sake of those who are making researches in ancient English literature. Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Clowdeslie. These were three famous arch
The former, as I observed before, (pag. 73. vol. i.] is mentioned by Shakespeare f. 2: The Knight of Courtesy and the Lady of Faguel. This, I think, is the story of Coucy's heart, related in Fauchet, and Howell's letters; which, as they tell us, was represented in tapestry, in Coucy castle, in France. 3. Jyl [Jyllian or Julian] of Brentforde's Testament. [4. Syr Degore.] 5. Syr Eglamoure of Artoys. This name occurs in the fourth act of Shakespeare's Gentlemen of Verona. 6. Syr Tryamore. These three last are in short verses, as most of the old metrical ro
* C. 39. 4to. Art. Selden.