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syllables ; or a trochee, where the first syllable is long, and the latter short: A happy intermixture of these will prevent that sameness of tone and cadence, which is tedious and painful to a judicious reader, and will please the ear with a greater variety of notes ; provided still that the iambic sound prevails. And here, according to the best observation I can make, a spondee may be placed in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth place. But a trochee usually finds no room, except in the first or ibird, where they are sometimes placed with much elegance of sound.
That a spoodce may be used in any part of the verse, appears from this consideration, that ten single words, which are all of long accents, will make a verse, though not a very graceful one :
“ Blue skies look fair, wbile stars shoot beams like gold.”
So that ingenious mimic line of Mr. Pope, in his Art of Criticism :
" Where ten low words creep on in one dull line."
In such verse every foot may be a spondee, or every syllable in the verse long,
Trochees are frequently used for the first foot. This sounds very agreeably, as in the first line of the famous poem called the Splendid Shilling, by Mr. Philips :
“ Hapry the man who void of care and strife.” And sometimes, though not often, for the third foot as well as the first : Milton describes the devils :
“ Hovering on wing, under the cope of hell.” The words happy in Philips, and under in Milton, are both Hrochees; but scarce any other place in the verse, besides the first and the third, will well endure a trochee, without endangering the harmony, spoiling the cadence of the verse, and offending the ear. There are some line's in our old poets faulty in this particu
“ None think rewards render'd worthy their worth.".
And—" Both lovers, both thy disciples were.”Davenant Where worthy in the fourth place, and lovers in the second, are very unbarmonious, and turn the line into perfect prose. Perhaps there may be some places found in Milton's works, where he has not been so nice an observer of this matter* ; but it is granted, even by his admirers, that his numbers are not always so accurate and tuneful as they should be. He bas ihdeed too much neglected this part of poesy, though he has in many places recompensed the pains of the reader's ear by the pleasure he gives in the dignity and sublimity of the sense, as
* Yet it may be allowed, that upon a special occasion, a trochee is found in the fourth place pot utterly disagreeable in Milton's poema...
lar ; as,
well as by the rich variety of his cadences, which are most times just and graceful.
Here let it be observed, that where double rhymes are used, there indeed a trochee comes last ; but it is not designed there to be a foot of the verse, for it stands only in the place of the last syllable, wbich is always long; and the short syllable following is but a sort of superfluous turn or flourish adued to the last long syllable, as in Dryden's Absalom, &c.
“ Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
« Besides ten thousand freaks that dy'd in thinking.
Note, These trochees, instead of the last long syllable, are very seldom admitted in grave poems in rhyme, but only for burlesque and ridicule, as in the lines now cited; nor doth Milton much use them in his blank verse, though they are frequently used in blank verse by more modern writers, and especially in dramatic poesy.
Mr. Pope, as well as Mr. Dryden, are more careful in their numbers, and never indulge such irregular licence, except where they design something comical; yet there is one instance in Mr. Pope's translation of Homer, wherein he has introduced a tro. chee for the fourth foot, but it is with a beautiful intent, and with equal success, when he represents a chariot's uneven motion in a rugged way, by the abrupt cadences and rugged sound of his verse :
" Jumping high o'er the routs of the rough ground,
“ Ratuled the clatt'ring cars, and the shock'd axles bound." In the first of these lines there is but one iambic, namely, the routs ;' the rest are spondees and trochees : and particularly the two trochees, namely, jumping,' and of the are inserted in the first and fourth places, to make the verse the rougher. The transposition of the clattering cars,' which is the nominative case after the verb rattled' adds something farther to the graceful coufusion which arises in the verse from the jumbling idea which the poet describes.
Thus much for the cadence of verse, as it depends upon long and short syllables.
“ Tbus much indeed (says Censorio, who read these five or six pages) and a great deal too much for any man to write upon, these triffes, whose profession calls him to sacred studies."
Uranio, who delighted to read divine poems, took up the cause, and forbid the reprover. Are all verses, said he, profane things? If so, how will the royal Psalmist escape ? But if verse may lawfully be written, there must be some knowledge of the rules of it, and some acquaintance with the elegance of sound as well as sense. The chearful and pious balf-hours which, have been spent in the closet as well as in the church, by the
help of devout poesy, give too much encouragement to this art, to have it for ever forbidden to christians.
Besides, if verse were but a mere recreation, may not a life devoted to divine offices be indulged in some sort of amusements in this animal and feeble state, to divert a beavy hour, and relieve the mind a little, when fatigued with intense labours of a superior kind? Was the character of that spiritual man, the Archbishop of Cambray, ever thought to be tarnished by his epistolary converse with De la Motte the French poet, on such subjects as these? Go home, Censorio, and subdue your snarling humour; or learn to employ your reproofs with more justice. For my part, I will proceed to gratify myself in reading the next four or five pages too; though I find by the title, that the argument is much the same. LXXII.-Of the different Stops and Cadences in Blank Verse.
Mr. Milton is esteemed the parent and author of blank verse among us: he has given us a noble example of it in bis incomparable poem called Paradise Lost, and has recommended it to the world in his preface. There be assures us,
16 that true musical delight does not consist in rhyme, or the jiogliog sound of like endings, but only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another." Yet however the sentence be often prolonged beyond the end of the line, this does by no means imply that no verse should have a period at the end of it, for that would be ruoning out of one extreme into another, and by' avoiding one error to fall into a worse ; as I shall make appear in what follows :
Where rhyme is used, there has too generally been placed a colon or a period at the end of every couplet, though without necessity; and thus the whole poem usually rubs on in the same pace, with such a perpetual return of the saine sort of numbers and the same cadences and pauses, that the constant uniformily has grown tiresome and offensive to every musical ear, and is contrary to the rules of true harmony; according to that kpowo remark of Horace,
" Ridetur chordâ qui semper oberrat eâdlem." But it does not follow from this observation, that blank verse should abandou all colons and periods at the end of the lines; but only that they should be disposed of with care and judgment in a greater variety through several parts of the line, as well as at the end of it. This will assist the poet in forming true harmony, and in making his different numbers, and the different cadences of the verse, appear more various and grateful: It will constrain the reader to give different rests to bis voice; and thus take away that dull uniformity of sound which too often overspreads a poem writ in rhyme.
Now these pauses in the sense, and consequently these rests in the voice, should be judiciously fixed through all the parts of the verse or line in such a manner, that no one sort of pause or cadence should return too often and offend the ear; and this may be happily performed in some measure in verse with rhyne, though not so well as where there is none.* To render blank verse .more perfect in this kind, what if one should propose the following rules?
1. Since there are ten syllables in a line of heroic measure, it follows that there are ten places where the sense may be finished, and a stop may be placed ; and therefore if we would observe any thing of proportion, there should be at least a colon or period at the end of one line in ten; but perhaps the ease and rest of the ear, the proper partition of the verses one from another, and the distinction of poesy from prose, would require it rather a little more frequent. This Milton himself has by no means observed, but has sometimes drawn out bis sense from one verse into another, as he expresses it, to such a length, as to run oo for sixteen or twenty lines together, without so large a stop as a semicolon at the end of a line; and in many places there is not so much as a comma for four or five lipes successively, or sometimes for six or seven. There are so many instances of this in his work, that I need not point to any particular page.
2. Though there are ten places in a line wherein the sense may end, or a strong stop may be fixed, yet I think a very strong stop should scarce ever be placed at the first syllable, or the ninth, without some very extraordinary reason for it; the gracefulness of sound will hardly admit it: it seems too abrupt, unless some peculiar beauty in the sense is supposed to be expressed thereby
3. Two lines should not very often come together, where the stop is placed at the same syllable of the line, whether it be comma, colon, or period ; three lines very seldom, and four pever; for this would bring in that unpleasing uniforinity, which it is the design and glory of blank verse to avoid. This Milton seems to bave observed almost every where with great care.
4. Where there is a very strong period, or the end of a paragraph, there the line should generally end with the sense; and an entire new scene, or episode, ought generally to begin a
5. The end of a line demands always some small pause of half a comma in the reading, whether there be any in the sense or no, that liereby the ear of the hearer may obtain a plain and
* In verse with rhyme, custom has almost made it necessary that there should be more colons and periods disposed at the end of couplets, thao blaok verse stands in need of, which knows no distinction of couplets, vor any sort of Stanzm.
distinct idea of the several verses, which the eye of the reader receives by looking on the book : And for this reason a line should never end with a word which is so closely connected in grammar with the word following, that it requires a continued voice to upite them; therefore an adjective ought scarce ever to be divided from its substantive; yet may I venture to say Milton bas done it too often: As Book VIII. Line 5, 6. in two verses together.
" What thanks sufficient, or what recompence
" Historian?" And io Book IX. Line 44.
unless an age too late, or cold
“ Climate, or years damp my intended wing." Book VII. Line 373, speaking of the sun,
“ Invested with bright rays, jocund to run
“ Dawn and the pleiades before him danc'd.” It must be confessed, where some important adjective of two or more syllables follows the substantive, they may be much better separated, as Book VII. Line 194.
“ Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd,
“ Immense, and all his father in him shone." And book IV. Line 8:14.
" So spake the cherub, and his grave rebuke,
“ Invincible." Where the adjective has any thing dependent upon it, then it may be very elegantly divided from the substantive, and begin a new line; as in the inidinost of the three last cited, Severe in youthful beauty.'
Milton has sometimes separated other words at the end of a line, whicla nature, and grammar, and music seem to unite to nearly for such a separation ; aş Book IV. Line 25.
« Now conscience wakes the bitter memory
“ Worse ; of worse deed, worse suffering must ensue." Book VIII. Line 419.
-No need that thou ". Should'st propagate, already infiníte.” Book VI. Line 452.
yet hard “ For gods, and too unequal work we find." Again Verse 462.
“ But pain is perfect misery, the worst
" Of evils.” And you may find a number of instances of this kind in this great poet, whereby he has sometimes reduced his verse too much