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The habit some writers indulge in of perpetual quotation is one it behooves lovers of good literature to protest against, for it is an insidious habit which in the end must cloud the stream of thought, or at least check spontaneity. If it be true that le style c'est l homme, what is likely to happen if l homme is for ever eking out his own personality with that of some other individual?
In 1673 he wrote his great work De Algebra Tractatus; Historicus & Practicus, of which an English edition appeared in 1685. In this there is seen the first serious attempt in England to write on the history of mathematics, and the result shows a wide range of reading of classical literature of the science. This work is also noteworthy because it contains the first of an effort to represent the imaginary number graphically by the method now used. The effort stopped short of success but was an ingenious beginning.
Maria Edgeworth grumbled against vandals who ruined immortal works by quoting the life out of them. "How far our literature may in future suffer from these blighting swarms, will best be conceived by a glance at what they have already withered and blasted of the favourite productions of our most popular poets." Shakespeare, Milton, and Dryden, scissored, patched, and frayed.