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Poetic Parallels

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The discussion about T. B. Aldrich plagiarizing from Swinburne mak es the following artide froui Chambers' Journal rather appropriate. It shows that there is a great deal of' "uoconecious saturation" in this world. The greateat poets have always been deemed the greatest oifenders by the public ; aml do niiin's idoas have been uiorc severely bcrutiniied by tho public than Shakespeare'. His contemporánea declared he had decked hiniself in their pluuiage ; and their successors have traced many of his golden opinions to another origio ; but uolike too many of his cralt, neariy all he touched he iuiproved. Shakespeare's similarities are too well known to cali forinstances. Gray's Jilegy bas afforded much occupation for the coincident-seekers, who declare it to be a mero pioco of mosaicwork, in whioh every idea may be traced to fornier writers ; and they prove their assertion. In sonie of the samo writrr's other poems, many eurious similarities have been detected. If Gray, however, beneíited by his predecessors' ideas, many of his tuccessors have resorted to him for theirs. The Koran spoke of the angel Isratel's heartstrings as "a lute;" the Elegy alluds to the heart as "the living lyre;" Moore likena it to " the harp of a thousand strings;" Edgar Poe to "the trembling living wire ; Charlotte Bronte to "the human lyre ;" and Beranger to "a lute." Scarcely second to Gray in these unlucky parallels was Pope ; indeed sorne one went n far as to assert that he was the greatest of all plagiarists. In support of this terrible accusation, much evidence can be adduoed. In Eloisa and Abelard is - Soft as the slurabers of a salut forgiven ; which is suspiciously like Davenant's Kind as tho wllling saints, and calmer far Than In the sleep forgiven hermits are. Pope's line, I have not yet forgot myself to marble, reads too like Milton's " Forcct thrafilf J;o marble," to be purely accidental; whilü Sir Thomas Browne's words, in his dear old "Religio Medici," "Nature is the Art of God," sounds suggestive of the Twickenham bard's, "All nature is but art." Young, it may be remarked, apparently preferred the old forni, as he reproduced it in his "Night Thoughts," verbatim. Denham spoko of The foul guilt Of Eaatern Klngs, who, to secure their relgn, Must have their brothers, sous and klndred slain. Phen Orrery followcd with the simile : Poets are sultans, lf they had the wlll : For every author wonld hls brother kill. Whereupon Pope wrote : Jhould such a man, too fond to rule alone, 3ear, Uke the brotlier near tlie throne. The closo resemblanoe of the lines beginning Vital spark of uoavenly flame, to some that were written by Flatman, an almoBt unknown versifier of Charles II. 's ;ime, has often been commented upon ; whilst the well-quoted words - The proper study of mankind is man, lave been traced to the French : La varáis scienoe est la varáis atude de l'huuime." From the French, from Boileau's " Art of Poetry," has also been derived from Pope's sarcastic line - Fools rush In where angels fear to tread ; Although some deern it suggested by Shakespeake's - Wrens may prey where eagles dare not perch . In explanation, lf not in extcnuation of Pope's adaptive proclivities, Thackeray urged that M he polished, he refined, he thought; he took thoughts from others' works to adorn and complete his own, borrowing an idea or cadenee from another poet as he would a figure or a simile from a flower, or a river, a stream, or any othêr object which struck him in his walk." Sir William Jones, who, by the way, detocted sumo close parallels in thought between Halix and Shakespeare, is credited with the poetic idea, of undoubted Oriental origin, that "the moon looks on many nignt-flowers, the night-flower secs but ooe moon." This fancy which bears some re semblance to an aphorjsin of Plato's, was probably in Moore's mind when he wrote The moon looks on many brooks. The brooks can soe uo moon but this. And the late Lord Lytton used a similar idea in the blind girl Nydia's song, whorc Tho Wind and the Beam loved the Rose, But the Rose loved one. But there is no need to go abroad for these transmission of thought. It is really surprising how many writers will use the same idea without anv material alteration one after the othor. A case in point is the oft-quoted line of Campbell, Llke angol visita, few and far between ; and which, unfortunately for the late poet's fame, the ancients said before him In Blair's " Gravo" is, lts vislU. Llke those of angels, short and far between ; which is at least bctter expressed ; althougl perhaps the originator - so far as we have as yet traced the idea - has expressed it in tho best way, as originators generally do : Llke angels' vlsits, short and brlght. One of Campbell's supposed borrowing was drawn attention to by Byron, who, no beyond suspiciou himself in such matter asked whethor the origin of the far-famec couplet, 'Tls distance leuds onchantment to the view Aiul robes the mouutulii lu lts a.ure hue. was not to be f'ound ia Dyer's? Ah yon bummils, solt and fair, Ciad In colore of the nlr, Whlcu, to thoso w1k juuruiy near, Harreu, brown und rougli ApptAT. Certainly the rendering by the author o " The Pleasures of' Hopo" is tuu most at tractive ; and it is more probable, if th idea was nol original with hiui, that h derivcd it ratliur froui a lino in Collins splendid ode on "The 1'u.smíoqs" : In noU-H )y dlstancc made ruuru sweet. As hinted, Byron has not been deemm free from all reproach in tliesc matturs but it must be confeased thut few wh C close parallelism are di.scoverablo betwee his ideas and those of' his pMtlsMMOfS he has been more sinned aguinst, in ihi respect, thau sinning. Probably he hm in mind Ghurehill's lines - Thogod, akliiclneo I wlth tliankH ropuy, tl tut ninñsd nu) Of imotltcL sorl oí cluy Whcn in " 'luido llarold" lic wroto- Because not altogether of suoh clay Ah rol lulo the sou Is of those whom Isurvey n his "prophecy of Dante" he uaed a 'avorito tbought: Many are the poets who have uever penned Their lngplratiou, and perclmnee the best. Vordsworth gave the idea as: O many are the poets that are sown By nature! mea endowed wlthhlghestgifts- The visión aml the faculty divine - Yet wuntiiiK tliu nccompllshment of verse. ind our genial trans-Atlantio friend lolmos, in the Voiceless, tells of Those that nevor sinsi, But die wllh all thelr ui them. No man less needed poetio co-operation han Burns ; but a few close coimtidenoes an be shown between some of' his best nown thoughts and certain of his predeessors'. Perhaps the most popular idea lie Scottish bard ever enunciated was : The rank Is bnt the guinea stamp, The man 's the gowd for a' that ; Jut it is closely paralloled in these word of Vycherley'a oíd coruedy of The Plain )ealer: "I weigh the man, not his title: tis not the king's stamp can make the metal botter, or heavier." A stilt eloser esemblance is seen between the linea - Her 'prentlce han' she tried on mini, And Uien she made the l)Win. ! And tliis passage in Cupid's Whiilwig, mblished in 1GÜ7 : "Man was made when lature was but an apprentice; but woman when she was a sUillful mistress of her art." So closely indeed have the ard's thoughts been scrutinizud, that even lis epitaph On Wee Johnny has been xaced to a Latín epigram of the seveneeuth century ! Yet he probably novcr aw ono of these productiqns. It is a noteworthy thing that when 'amous authors repeat wliat has been said efore, they do not resort to the works of ,heir well known contemporaries, but to 'orgotten or rare books. SuoTi an instance of unconscious accretion was doubtless VI oore's Canadian Boat Song - And all the way, to gulde thelr chime, With falling oars they keep the Urne. irave old Murvell's thoughts have been mercilessly pillaged; his trenchant satire n The Character of Holland supplied Jutier, the authorof Iludibras, with quite an army of invectives; and many later loets have found the patriot's verse a 'ruitful Bouroo for the supply of needed ancy. The Dial of Flowers, by Mr. Hotnans, owed its origin, in all probability, o some line in Marvell's Garden: How well the sklllful gardner drew Of flowers, and herbs, this dial new, Where, Irom above, the milder sun Does through a fragrant zodiac run, ABd, as it works, the lndustrlous bee Computes its time as wjll as we ! How could Huch sweet and wholesome hours Be recoued Dut wlth herbs and flowers? In the catalogue of unconscious parallels, .he following singular case must not be omitted. The Dropsical Man is the titlo of a piece in Dodaley's collection of poems, ontaining the line - With ajest in hlsmouth, and atear inhiseye; In Marmion, Scott varies the idea thus : Wlth a smlle on her lipa, and atear in her eye; Whilst Lover, in Rory O' More, furnishes his version : Keproof on her lip, but a smlle in her eye! Again, Sir Walter in his Lay has adopuulf une trom uoicnage s vifliMauci.jiiSi as it stood : Jesu Maria ; shield us well! Nicholas Grimoald, a name tofaine "unLnown," but not unknown to Herbert, as ie is quoted by hitn on the title-page of Che Temple, wrote: In working well, lf travail you sustain Into the wind shall llghlly pass the pain: But of the deed the glory shall reinain. rlerbert re-expressed the idea in bis 3hurch Porch : If thou do 111, the toy fades, not the pains; If well, the pain uotli fude, the Joy remalus ; Aod Sir Egerton Brydges, a man well read n old poetio lore, compressed the thought nto one line : The glory dies not, and the pain Is past. Whilst auiid our ancient bards, it may )e pointed out that the charmingly poetio sassage in Tate and Brady's version of the Psalms - The sweet remembranee of the Just öhallilourlsh wheu he sleeps In dust- Was evidently suggested by thiseouplet in Shirloy's magnificent Death's Final Conquest - Only the ashes of the just Sniell sweet and blossom lu the dust. There is a fine thought in James Montgomery's Home in the Heavens: Yet nlghtly pltch my movlng tent A day's murch nearer home. But a very similar idea was expressed two centuries ago by Henry King, bishop of Chicester : At nlsht, when I betake to rest, Next moni I rlse neart-r my West, Of Ufe al most by eight hour's all, Thfii when Sleep breated hls drowsy gale. But hark ! ray pulse, Uke a soft drum, Beats my approach, tells Thee I come ; And Blow howe'er my marches be, I shall at laat sit dowu by Thee. This fanoy of life marching hoineward to the sound of rauffled drum, is repeated in Longfellow's "Psalm of Life," where it is aaid our hearts Still, Uke muflied drums, are beatlng Funeral marches to the grave. Indeed, Longfellow's extensiva readinj and receptivo mind but too frequontly load him into these luckluss coincidoucea. The "Psalm of Life" is alniost as ruuch a piece of mosaic work as Gray's "Elegy." Art Is long, umi time Is fleetlug. Is a8 old as Groeit litorature, although Lord Houghton aüd Longfellow büth troat it as their owü property. Sir Philip Sidney has " "Fooi s:iid my muse to me, look in thy heart and write;" and in his prelude to "Voices of the Night" Longfellow says Look, then, Into thine heart, and wrlte. The "Village Blacksuiith" has been traood to an old poem by Wm. Holloway, running : Beneath yon elders, fnrred wlth blackenlng smoko, The slnewy smlth wlth many a labored strokt His cllnklng plled in ghed obscure, And truant hchoolboys loltered round the door Here the few slight changos aro artistioally made: "Klders" become the "spread ing chestnut tree;" "the sinewy smith' has "largo and sinewy hunds," and the "truant schoolboys," as botter ohildren, aro "coming home from school."


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