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rhyme, or, in other words, from couplets, there is access to make every line run into another, p-ecisely as where the first line of a couplet runs into the second. There must be a musical pause at the end of every line; but this pause is so flight as not to require a pause in the fense: and accordingly the sense may be carried on with or' without pauses, till a period of the utmost extent be completed by a full close both in the sense and the sound: there is no restraint, other than that this full close be at the end of a line; and this restraint is necessary in order to preserve a coincidence between sense and sound, which ought to be aimed at in general, and is indispensable in the case of a full close, because it has a striking effect. Hence the aptitude of blank verse for inversion: and consequently the lustre of its pauses and accents; for which, as observed above, there is greater scope in inversion, than when words run in their natural order.
In the second section of this chapter it is shown, that nothing contributes more than inversion to the force and elevation of language: the couplets of rhyme confine inversion within narrow limits; nor would the elevation of inversion, were there access for it in rhyme, be extremely concordant with the humbler tone of that sort of verse. It is universally agreed, that the loftiness of Milton's style supports admirably the sublimity of his subject; and it is not less certain, that the loftiness of his style arises chiefly from inversion.
Shakespear deals little in inversion: but his blank verse, being a sort of measured prose, is perfectly well adapted to the stage, where laboured inversion is extremely improper, because in dialogue it never can appear natural.
Hitherto I have considered the advantage of laying aside rhyme, with respect to that superior power of expression which verse acquires thereby. But this is not the only advantage of blank verse: it has another not less signal of its kind; and that is, of a more extensive and more complete melody. Its music is not, like that of rhyme, confined to a single couplet; but takes in a great compass, so as in some measure to rival music properly so called. The interval between its cadences may be long or short at pleasure; and, by that means, its melody, with respect both to richness and variety, is superior far to that of rhyme; and superior even to that of the Greek and Latin Hexameter. Of this observation no person can doubt who is acquainted with the Paradise Loft: irt which work there are indeed many careless lines; but at every turn it shines out in the richest melody as well as in the sublimest sentiments. Take the following specimen *
Now Morn her rosy steps in th* eastern clime
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl;
"When Adam wak'd, so custom'd, for his sleep
Was aery light from pure digestion bred,
And temp'rate vapours bland, which th' only found •
Of leaves and fuming rills, Auror.i's fan,
Lightly dispers'd, aadthe flu-ill matin song
Of birds on every bough; so much the more
Book 5. i. if
Comparing Latin Hexameter with Engliih Heroic rhyme, the former has obviously the advantage in the following particulars. It is greatly preferable as to arrangement, by the latitude it admits in placing the long and short syllables. Secondly, the length of an Hexameter line hath a majestic air: ours, by its ihortnefs, is indeed more brisk and lively, but much less fitted for the sublime. And, thirdly, the long high-sounding words that Hexameter admits, add greatly to its majesty. To compensate these advantages, English rhyme possesses a greater number and greater variety both of pauses and of accents.
.These These two sorts of verse stand indeed prettymuch in opposition: in Hexameter, great variety of arrangement, none in the pauses nor accents: in English rhyme, great variety in the pauses and accents, very little in the arrangement.
In blank verse are united, in a good measure, the several properties of Latin Hexameter and English rhyme; and it poilesies beside many fig. nal properties of its own. It is not confined, like Hexameter, by a full close at the end of every line; nor, like rhj me, by a full close at the end of every couplet. Its form of construction, •which admits the lines to run into each other, gives it a still greater majesty than arises from the length ot a Hexameter line. By the fame means, it admits inversion even beyond the Latin or Greek Hexameter; for these suffer some confinement by the regular closes at the end of every line. In its music it is illustrious above all: the melody of Hexameter verse, is circumscribed to a line; and of Englilh rhyme, to a couplet: the melody of blank verse is under no confinement, but enjoys the utmost privilege that the melody of verse is susceptible of, which is, to run hand in hand with the fense. In a word, blank verse is superior to Hexameter in many articles ; and inferior to it in none, save in the latitude of arrangement, and in the use of long words.
In French Heroic verse, there are found, on $h# contrary, all the defects of Latin Hexame
L 5 ter
ter and English, rhyme, without the beauties of either: subjected to the bondage of rhyme, an4 to the full close at the end of every couplet, it it further peculiarly disgustful by the uniformity of its pauses and accents: the line invariably is divided by the pause into two equal parts, and the accent is invariably placed before the-pause:
Jeunc et vaillant her&s || dont la haute sagefle
Here every circumstance contributes to a most: tedious uniformity: a constant return of the fame pause and of the same accent, as well as an equal division of every line; which fatigue the ear without intermission or change. I cannot set this matter in a better light, than by presenting to the reader a French translation of the follow-; ing passage of Milton:
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,