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SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS.
To insure systematic and thorough treatment, something like the following may be required of pupils in class exercises :
1. Read aloud, as well as you can, or repeat from memory, the passage assigned.
2. Translate into your own words all parts of the passage. 3. Explain any peculiarities, obscurities, or uncommon use of language.
4. What is the object of the author in the passage as a whole ? Is this object relevant to his general purpose in the composition ? Is the passage needful ? or superfluous ?
5. What particular thoughts or topics make up the passage ? Are the particulars well selected ? well arranged ? sufficient ? consistent with what he states elsewhere?
(6. Is the language characterized by grammatical purity or correctness? by clearness or perspicuity? by force or energy? by elegance or beauty ?)
.(7. What "figures of speech” are found ? Is the author happy in his use of figurative language ?)
(8. What of the poetical feet ? verse ? cæsura ? stanza ? harmony ?)
9. Point out any other merits or defects (anything else that is noteworthy as regards originality, insight, vividness, sublimity, grace, beauty, wit, wisdom, humor, pathos, logical force, principles illustrated, etc.).
THE VERSE. The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin ; rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause, therefore, some, botlı Italian and Spanish poets of prime note, have rejected rime, both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all ju
The Verse. Most of the copies of the first edition (published in 1667) did not contain this preface from the hand of the author. But in 1668 it was inserted in those which remained to be bound. There was added a statement by the printer as follows:-“ Courteous Reader: There was no Argument at first intended to the look ; but for the satisfaction of many that have desired it, I have procured it, and withal that which stumbled many others, why the poem rhymes not.” — Our best English tragedies. Those of Shakespeare ? In Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum, we are supposed to have Milton's judgment of Shakespeare's tragedies ; for Phillips was Milton's nephew and pupil, and his book bears seeming traces of Milton's hand. The language is, “In tragedy never any expressed a more lofty and tragic height; never any represented Nature more purely to the life.” — The invention of a barbarous age to set off wretched matter and lame metre, etc. In Roger Ascham's Schole-Master (1571), there is a passage which re
dicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another; not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect,
markably coincides with this preface of Milton's. He stigmatizes our rude beggarly rhyming, brought first into Italy by Goths and Huns, when all good verses, and all good learning too, were destroyed by them.' “Milton's invective against Rhyme, I suspect, is to be received cum grano. He was probably provoked to strength of statement by having heard of the 'stumbling 'of many of the first readers of Paradise Lost, and perhaps of the outcry of some critics at the novelty of the verse. Meaning mainly to defend his choice of Blank verse for a poem of such an order, he may have let his expression sweep beyond the exact bounds of his intention. For, though he had used Blank verse in his own earlier poetry, as in Comus, had not the bulk of that poetry been in rhyme ? Nay, though he was to persist in Blank Verse, with fresh liberties and variations, in the two remaining poems of his life — Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes — was he not in the choruses of Samson Agonistes, to revert occasionally to Rhyme, and to use it in a most conscious and most cunningly artistic manner ?” — Masson. — Apt numbers. By this expression is probably meant what Pope lays down as a rule,
“ The sound should seem an echo to the sense,” — the subtle sympathy which Cowper points out between souls and sounds. Dr. Edwin Guest remarks as follows : “ Perhaps no man ever paid the same attention to the quality of his rhythm as Milton. In the flow of his rhythm, in the quality of his letter sounds, in the disposition of his pauses, his verse almost ever fits the subject." – Fit quantity of syl. lables. By this is probably meant that he wished to discourage any strain upon the natural rhythm of the language ; he would have it adapted and not wrested to the purpose of metre.' — The sense variously drawn out from one verse into another. No blank verse ever surpassed Milton's in the variety of the pauses. The cosura of the verse (hy which is here meant not the so-called classical cæsura, but the rhetorical pause required by the sense at the end of a period or of some portion of a period, though not at the end of a line) may occur anywhere. It occurs oftenest at the end of the third foot (i. e. after the sixth syllable), as in Par. Lost, I. 1. 2. In the same book, 1. 509, it occurs after the 1st syllable ; in 573, after the 2d syl. ; in 5 and 56, after the 3d ; in 6, 41, 797, after the 4th ; in 71 and 533, after the
then, of rime, so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.
5th ; in 54 and 615, after the 6th ; in 53 and 309, after the 7th ; in 12 and 742, after the 8th ; in 386 and 443, Book I., and 547 and 573, Book II., after the 9th. Point out other instances of this cosura in each position. — An example set, the first in English, etc. Here we have a casual glimpse of Milton's boldness, amounting at times almost to audacity. It is a hint, too, of that passion for liberty which in one form or another appears in almost everything he wrote : yet the reader will observe with what reverent caution Milton shrinks from prying into the forbidden mysteries of God (see VII. 94, 95, 111, 120, 121 ; VIII. 167–8, 172-3, etc.); and how the poem emphasizes, most of all, obedience (see V. 611-12, 822, 900 ; VI. 36, 909 to 912 ; VIII. 633 to 643). — Bondage of riming. It will be interesting and profitable to study the advantages and disadvantages of rhyme, to collect choice passages illustrative of its beauty, and to balance against them the finest unrhymed lines. (See in Masson's Introduction to Paradise Lost, pp. 14, 15, an account of Dryden's interview with Milton, and Dryden's attempt 'to putt Paradise Lost into a drama in rhyme'! See the verses of Andrew Marvell prefixed to the 2d edition of Paradise Lost.) Says Keightley, “The verse of Milton and the great dramatists is not decasyllabic, but five-foot; ... besides the two dissyllabic feet it admits two trisyllabic, namely, the anapest (uu-) and the amphibrach (u-u), which feet may occupy any place and extend to any number. Thus in Shakespeare and Fletcher there are lines of fourteen syllables, four of the feet being trisyllabic. Of these Milton never admits more than two, so that his lines never go beyond twelve syllables ; like the dramatists he also uses the six-foot line.” The student should verify or disprove these statements by actual inspection.