Conjectures on Original Composition: In a Letter to the Author of Sir Charles Grandison

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A. Millar and R. and J. Dodsley, 1759 - Authorship - 112 pages

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Page 40 - ... to go beyond their predecessors ; in the former, to follow them. And since copies surpass not their originals, as streams rise not higher than their spring, rarely so high ; hence, while arts mechanic are in perpetual progress and increase, the liberal are in retrogradation...
Page 64 - I remember," says he, in that letter, speaking of Swift, " as I and others were taking with him an evening walk, about a mile out of Dublin, he stopped short; we passed on; but perceiving he did not follow us, I went back and found him fixed as a statue, and earnestly gazing upward at a noble elm, which in its uppermost branches was much withered and decayed. Pointing at it, he said, ' I shall be like that tree, I shall die at top.
Page 43 - Why receive they such a talent at imitation ? Is it not as the Spartan slaves received a licence for ebriety ; that their betters might be ashamed of it? " The third fault to be found with a spirit of imitation is, that with great incongruity it makes us poor, and proud ; makes us think little, and write much ; gives us huge folios, which are little better than more reputable cushions to promote our repose. Have not some seven-fold volumes put us in mind of Ovid's seven-fold channels of the Nile...
Page 66 - Imitation is inferiority confessed ; emulation is superiority contested or denied ; imitation is servile, emulation generous ; that fetters, this fires; that may give a name, this, a name immortal.
Page 9 - Imitations are of two kinds; one of ^nature, one of authors: The first we call Originals, and confine the term Imitation to the second.
Page 64 - On the contrary, being born amonst men, and, of consequence, piqued by many, and peevish at more, he has blasphemed a nature little lower than that of angels, and assumed by far higher than they: But surely the contempt of the world is not a greater virtue, than the contempt of mankind is a vice. Therefore I wonder that, though forborn by others, the laughter-loving Swift was not reproved by the venerable Dean, who could sometimes be very grave.
Page 101 - For, after a long, and manly, but vain struggle with his distemper, he dismissed his physicians, and with them all hopes of life: But with his hopes of life he dismissed not his concern for the living, but sent for a youth nearly related...
Page 80 - Jonson, he tells us, was very learned, as Sampson was very strong, to his own hurt. Blind to the nature of tragedy, he pulled down all antiquity on his head, and buried himself under it. " Is this ' care's incumbent cloud,' or ' the frozen obstructions of age?
Page 29 - If I might speak farther of learning, and genius, I would compare genius to virtue, and learning to riches. As riches are most wanted where there is least virtue; so learning where there is least genius. As virtue without much riches can give happiness, so genius without much learning can give renown. As it is said in Terence...
Page 23 - All eminence, and distinction, lies out of the beaten road; excursion, and deviation, are necessary to find it; and the more remote your path from the highway, the more reputable; if, like poor Gulliver (of whom anon) , you fall not into a ditch, in your way to glory.

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