1678. Wit Collectors : Some Things Never Change

No matter what year/era/circumstance or situation – Human Nature NEVER Changes.

The following was written in 1678 :

A gentleman now living ….

one who with the vulgar passes for a writer; though I hope he will pardon

me, if I rather style him in the number of wit-collectors; for I cannot

allow all his wit in his plays to be his own: I hope he will not be angry

for transcribing the character which he has given of Mr. Dryden and

which mutato nomine belongs to himself. ‘Tis not that I anyways abet Mr.

Dryden for his falling upon his Mammamouchi, but that I may maintain

the character of impartial, to which I pretend, I must pull off his disguise

and discover the politick plagiary that lurks under it. I know he has

endeavored to show himself master of the art of swift-writing, and would

persuade the world that what he writes is ex tempore wit and written currente

calamo. But I doubt not to show that though he would be thought to imitate

the silk-worm that spins its web from its own bowels, yet I shall make

him appear like the leech, that lives upon the blood of men, drawn from

the gums; and when he is rubbed with salt spues it up again. To prove

this I shall only give an account of his plays; and by that little of my own

knowledge which I shall discover, ’twill be manifest that this Ricketty-

Poet (though of so many years) cannot go without others’ assistance.

And yes, it’s a fact of life that all writers live aka are exposed to other people’s words and wit. Therefore ALL writers can be accused of plagiarism.

We all live off the past.

But some are more clever and/or subtle than others. Some use their own words/phrasing/syntax/punctuation etc.

Some touch on the UNTOUCHABLE subjects in ways never done before.

So where is that faint line between originality and plagiarism drawn?

More rhetoricals for y’all…..the unanswerable Q ?

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