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Et duræ quercus sudabunt rôscida mella. Again :
Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculûs mus.
Reflecting upon the melody of Hexameter verse, we find, that order or arrangement doth not consti, tute the whole of it ; for when we compare different lines, equally regular as to the succession of long and short fyllables, the melody is found in very different degrees of perfection ; which is not occasioned by any particular combination of Dactyles and Spondees, or of long and short syllables, because we find lines where Dactyles prevail, and lines where Spondees prevail, equally melodious. Of the former take the following instance :
Æneadum genitrix hominum divumque voluptas.
Of the latter :
Molli paulatim flavescet campus arista.
What can be more different as to melody than the two following lines, which, however, as to the succession of long and short fyllables, are constructed precisely in the same manner?
Sfond. Dact. Spond. Spond. Dałt. Spond.
Spond. Dact. Spord. Spond. Dact. Spond.
In the former, the pause falls in the middle of a word, which is a great blemish, and the accent is
disturbed by a harsh elision of the vowel a upon the participle et. In the latter, the pauses and the accent are all of them distinct and full : there is no elision; and the words are more liquid and founding. In these particulars consists the beauty of an Hexameter line with respect to melody : and by neglecting these, many lines in the Satires and Epistles of Horace are less agreeable than plain profe ; for they are neither the one nor the other in perfection. To draw melody from these lines, they must be pronouuced without relation to the fenfe : it must not be regarded, that words are divided by pauses, nor that harsh elisions are multiplied. To add to the ac* count prosaic low-founding words are introduced : and which is still worse, accents are laid on them. Of such faulty lines take the following instances.
Candida rectaque fit, munda hactenus fit neque longa.
Jupiter exclamat simul atque audirit ; at in se
Custodes, lectica, ciniflones, parasitæ
Optimus est modulator, ut Alfenus Vafer omni
Nunc illud tantum quæram, meritone tibi fit.
Next in order comes English Heroic verse, which shall be examined under the whole five heads, of number, quantity, arrangement, pause, and accent, This verse is of two kinds; one named rhyme or mea tre, and one blank verse. In the former, the lines are connected two and two by similarity of sound in the final syllables ; and two lines fo connected are termed a couplet : similarity of sound being avoided in the latter, couplets are banished. These two forts must be handled separately, because there are many
peculiarities in each. Beginning with rhyme or me. tre, the first article shall be discussed in a few words, Every line consists of ten fyllables, five short and five long ; from which there are but two exceptions, both of them rare. The first is, where each line of a couplet is made eleven fyllables, by an additional fyllable at the end :
There heroes' wits are kept in pond'rous vases,
The piece, you think, is incorrect? Why, take it ;
This licence is sufferable in a single couplet ; but if frequent, would give difguft.
The other exception concerns the second line of a couplet, which is sometimes stretched out to twelve fyllables, termed an Alexandrine line :
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its low length along. It doth extremely well when employed to close a period with a certain pomp and folemnity, where the subject makes that tone proper.
With regard to quantity it is unnecessary to mention a second time, that the quantities employed in verse are but two, the one double of the other ; that every syllable is reducible to one or other of these standards, and that a syllable of the larger quantity is termed long, and of the lesser quantity short. It belongs more to the present article, to examine what peculiarities there may be in the English language as to long and short fyllables. Every language has fyllables that may be pronounced long or short at pleasure; but the Engliih above all
abounds in fyllables of that kind : in words of three or more fyllables, the quantity for the most part is invariable: the exceptions are more frequent in diffyllables : but as to monosyllables, they may, without many exceptions, be pronounced either long or short ; nor is the ear hurt by a liberty that is rendered familiar, by custom. This shows, that the melo: dy of English verse must depend less upon quantity, than upon other circumstances : in which it differs widely from Latin verse, where every syllable, having but one sound, strikes the ear uniformly with its accustomed impression ; and a reader must be delighted to find a number of such fyllables, disposed fo artfully as to be highly melodious, Syllables variable in quantity cannot possess this power : for though custom may render familiar, both a long and a short pronunciation of the same word; yet the mind wavering between the two sounds, cannot be so much affected as where every syllable has one fixed sound. What I have further to say upon quantity, will come more properly under the following head, of arrange ment.
And with respect to arrangement, which may be brought within a narrow compass, the English Heroic line is commonly lambic, the first syllable short, the second long, and so on alternately through the whole line. One exception there is, pretty frequent, of lines commencing with a Trochæus, i. e. a long and a short syllable : but this affects not the order of the following syllables, which go on alternately as ufual, one short and one long. The following couplet affords an example of each kind.
It is a great imperfection in English verse, that it excludes the bulk of polyfyllables, which are the most founding words in our language; for very few of them have such alternation of long and short fyllables as to correspond to either of the arrangements mentioned. English verse accordingly is almost totally reduced to dilyHables and monofyllables : prognaniniry is a founding word totally excluded : impetunity is still a finer word, by the resemblance of the found and sense ; and yet a negative is put upon it, as well as upon nuinlerleis words of the same kind. Polvfyllables composed of fyllables long and short al ornately, make a good figure in verle ; for example, oljervance, opponent, ellenfee, pindaris, produtice, prolific, and fuch ohers of three fyllables. Inilation, imperfection, mijdencancr, mitigation, moderation, objervator, crnamental, regulator, and others fimilar of four fyllables, beginning with two short ful. lables, the third long, and the fourth short, may find a place in a line cominencing with a Trochæus. I know not if there be any of five fylables. One I know of fix, viz. misinterpretation : but words fo compofed are not frequent in our language.
One would not imagine without trial, how un. couth falle quantity appears in verse ; not less than a provincial tone or idiom. The article the is one of the few inonofyllabies that is invariably short : obferve how harsh it makes a line where it must be pronounced long;
This ný mph, iŭ the destru@livo of mănkind.
Th’ advēne'ious bāiön the bright lõeks ădmūr’d.
Let it be pronounced short, and it reduces the melody almost to nothing: better so however than falle