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On her white breast, a sparkling cross the wore,
Rape of the Lock.
In accounting for the remarkable liveliness of this passage, it will be acknowledged by every one who has an ear, that the melody must come in for a share. The lines, all of them, are of the first order ; a very unusual circumstance in the author of this poem, so eminent for variety in his versification. doubt, that he has been led by delicacy of taste to employ the first order preferably to the others ?
Our humble province is to tend the fair,
Tolivalfrom rainbows, cre they drop their thow'rs, &c. Again :
Oh thoughtless mortals! cver blind to fate,
To fifty chosen fylphs, of special note,
Oh say what stranger cause, yet unexplorid,
A plurality of lines of the fourth order would not have a good effect in succession ; because, by a remarkable tendency to rest, their proper office is to close a period. The reader, therefore, must be satisfied with instances where this order is mixed with others.
Not louder shrieks to pitying Heaven are cast,
Steel could the works of mortal pride confound,
She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill,
With earnest eyes, and round unthinking face,
And this suggests another experiment, which is to set the different orders more directly in opposition, by giving examples where they are mixed in the fáme passage.
First and second orders.
Sol through white curtains shot a tim'rous ray,
Not youthful kings in battle seiz'd alive,
First and third.
Think what an equipage thou hast in air,
What guards the purity of melting maids,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark
With tender billet-doux he lights the pyre,
Jove's thunder roars, heav'n trembles all around,
Second and third,
Sunk in Thalestris' arms, the nymph he found,
Her eyes dejected, and her hair unbound. Again :
On her heav'd bosom hung her drooping head,
Which with a ligh the raised ; and thus she said. Musing on the foregoing subject, I begin to doubt whether all this while I have not been in a reverie, and whether the scene before me, full of objects new and singular, be not mere fairy-land. Is there any truth in the appearance, or is it wholly a work of imagination? We cannot doubt of its reality; and we may with assurance pronounce, that great is the merit of English Heroic verse : for though uniformity prevails in the arrangement, in the equality of the lines, and in the resemblance of the final sounds ; variety is still more conspicuous in the pauses and in the aca cents, which are diversified in a surprising manner. Of the beauty that results from a due mixture of uniformity and variety,* many instances have already occurred, but none more illustrious than English versification ; however rude it may be in the lim. plicity of its arrangement, it is highly melodious by its pauses and accents, so as already to rival the molt perfect species known in Greece or Rome; and it is no disagreeable prospect to find it susceptible of still greater refinement,
We proceed to blank verse, which hath so many circumstances in common with rhyme, that its peculiarities may be brought within a narrow compass. With respect to form, it differs from rhyme in re
See chap. 9.
jecting the jingle of similar founds, which purifies it from a childish pleasure, but this improvement is a trifle compared with what follows. Our verse is extremely cramped by rhyme ; and the peculiar advantage
of blank versé is, that it is at liberty to attend the imagination in its boldest flights. Rhyme necessarily divides verse into couplets; cach couplet makes a complete musical period, the parts of which are divided by pauses, and the whole summed up by a full ciole at the end ; the melody begins anew with the next couplet : and in this manner a composition in rhyme proceeds couplet after couplet. I have often had occasion to mention the correspondence and concord that ought to fubfist between found and sense ; from which it is a plain inference, that if a couplet bea complete period with regard to melody, it ought regularly to be the same with regard to sense. As it is ex. tremely difficult to support such strictness of composition, licences are indulged, as explained above ; which, however, must be used with discretion, lo as to preserve some degree of concord between the fense and the music; there ought never to be a full close in the sense but at the end of a couplet ; and there ought always to be fome pause in the sense at the end of every couplet : the same period as to . sense may be extended through several couplets ; but each couplet ought to contain a diftin& member distinguished by a pause in the sense as well as in the found ; and the whole ought to be closed with a complete cadence.* Rules such as these, must confine rhyme within very narrow bounds : a thought of any extent, cannot be reduced within its com
* This rule is quite negle&ted in French versification. Even Boileau makes no difficulev; to close one subject with the first line of a couplee,' and to begin a new fubjeét wiih the second. Such licence, however fanctioned by practice, is unpleasant by the discordance between the pauses of the sense and of the melody,