Amelia, Tamerton church-tower, etc.,

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PREFATORY STUDY ON ENGLISH METRICAL LAW.” THE adoption, by Surrey and his immediate successors

in the subject of the mechanism of English verse. From that time to this, the nature of modern verse has been

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of the laws of metre, have supplied the deficiencies of the prosodians. The sum total of my inquiries in both

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 5 important fruit can be looked for in such investigations. George

Puttenham’s “Art of English Poesy” is by very much the most bulky and laborious of the early metrical essays

, that English verse is not properly measurable by the rules of Latin and Greek verse. Indeed, the early poetical

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attributed to long and short quantities in Greek and Latin, and that the metrical ictus or stress in English

; such, for instance, as Foster's assumption that the time of syllables in English keeps the proportion usually

the necessity of measuring pauses in minutely scanning English verse. He remarked the strong pause which

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 7 syllables, and without which the most beautiful verses must often be read

of metrical effect. The value of his work is further diminished by a singular unskilfulness in the mode

of the several elaborate essays on the same theme which have since appeared. Mr. Guest’s work on English Rhythms

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for the discovery of the philo- sophical grounds and primary laws of metrical ex- pression. No one, with any just

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 9 would rather be pronounced trivial than tiresome; for music being, at best

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;-in other words, the more vigorous and various the life, the more stringent and elaborate must be the law

by obedience to which life expresses itself. The co-ordination of life and law, in the matter and form

of its allegiance to law. The limits and decencies of ordinary speech will by no means declare high

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 11 thought and expression. “Bacon,” says Mr. Dallas, “regards metre as a curb

, have attained to write perfect metre with almost as little metrical effect as if it were prose. Now

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exorbitancies on the side of law. Milton and Shaks- peare are full of them ; and we may declare the excel- lence

con- flict between the law of the verse and the freedom of the language, and each is incessantly

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 13 other. The best poet is not he whose verses are the most easily scanned

metrical organisation, and who, in his verse, preserves everywhere the living sense of metre, not so much

a conviction that the musical and metrical expression of emotion is an instinct, and not an artifice. Were

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and metrical element in an easily appreciable degree, and as an integral part of language

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 15 S0 verse is but an additional degree of that metre which is inherent

, Quintilian, “Nihil est prosa scriptum quod non redigi possit in quaedam versicus lorum genera.” The metrical

difference gives rise to specific kinds of prose and of verse; and the prose of a common law report differs

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 17 ſaris it from being true that the time and tone of prose reading

and speaking are without law, that their laws are more strict than those of grammar itself. There are never two

spoken language, though quite as natural, necessary, and spontaneously observed as the laws of inflection

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. | catalectic,” we give the entire metrical effect in the ordinary reading. An argument of wider power

, while | it refuses to be read into verse, differs greatly from the ordinary character of English prose

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 19 one unpractised reader in ten but would feel slightly embarrassed

the metrical constitution of ordinary English phrases, which exhibit a great preponderance of emphatic

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spoken most clearly concerning its metrical functions. The word “accent” is notorious for the variety

of tone exclusively. With us, the places of the metrical accent or “ictus”—of the accent in the sense

- cerned in English and most modern European verse, and it is only in this regard that it is afflicted

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 21 was not only permissible, but sought after; and the ictus, accent

of the above diversity is sometimes even now shirked, or confusedly admitted, by metrical critics. Mitford

, is not greater than that which a Frenchman ordinarily finds in regard to English versification. It is also worth

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22 PREFATORY STUDY ON shifting the metrical ictus from one place in a word to another

the acute accent is always used as being, in English.

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 23 generally indicative of that which is most positive and characteristic

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it is, is certainly not pure tone. Some writers have identified our metrical accent with long quantity; others have

24 PREFATORY STUDY ON the word is commonly used in speaking of its function in English verse?—for I

of that accent upon which it is allowed, with more or less distinctness, by all, that English metre depends

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 25 metrical critics, it will probably seem a startling novelty. It is one

hold that English accent and long quantity are identical must bow. These are two indispensable

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music, of which the laws cannot be too strictly attended to, if we would arrive at really satisfactory

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 27 fancy they are employing a figure of speech when they talk of the music

with a combination of varied tone and measured time, must signify an abstraction of the merely metrical character

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, however, the original sounds, though monotonous, are far from being pure monotones; they are metrical

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 29 would rightly appreciate either, “The musical art,” says G. Weber

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 31 or transitions of feeling of which the human breast is cognisant

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 33 together that it is extremely difficult to disentangle them.” Mitford

, and other writers, who have treated of Latin and Greek verse as being “metrical” and “temporal,” and of our

; and that, although the non-coincidence of the grammatical with the metrical ictus, and other peculiarities of Greek

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 35 sequently, the trochee, “Lords of,” and the iambus, “ the world,” are both

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of the metrical value of the separate syllables of which feet and cadences are composed. The common notion

in the actual articulation of a syllable is not necessarily its metrical value. The time of a syllable

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 37 requiring five degrees of time for their articulation, may have precisely

of sound in a crotchet or a quaver note may be the same, the metrical value depending altogether

of metrical intervals between accent and accent is no more than general and approximate, and that expression

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. It is certain that such reading as this would ill bear me out in my assertion of the metrical iso- chronism

. Not only may metrical intervals differ thus from their nominal equality without destroying measure

38 PREFATORY STUDY ON great an expense of law, and the most approved style of reading is that which

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 39 A complete and truly satisfactory metrical analysis of any passage even

, appear rather as interruptions than subjects of metrical law. Campion, Joshua Steele, and O’Brien

, tetrameter, &c.) as constituting an entire metrical system in itself, which is obviously t

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. The idea of metrical sequence between verses is equally contra- dicted by the notion of “hypercatalectic

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 41 scanned without allowing for it. Caesura plays a less refined part

with this matter. The most common and injurious of such errors, is that of identifying metrical pauses

of metrical, as compared with grammatical pauses, seems not to have had so much notice as its curiosity

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, are rather marked by tone than time. Even in the reading of prose, the metrical pauses—for so the pauses

. Of this metrical sign Mr. Guest says, “No edition of Chaucer and his contemporaries can be com- plete without

of the “stops.” It is very questionable, indeed, whether English verse has gained by the entire disuse

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 43 as the following, which have been attributed to Surrey, and of the like

English metres, some very fine ones, which required it. Mr. Lettsom’s excellent version of the Nibelungen

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to speak only of that primary metrical division which is common to verse and prose. I have now to speak

, by prosodians, of final pauses could have prevented the observation of the great general law, which I believe

that I am now, for the first time, stating, that the elementary measure, or integer, of English verse

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 45 in triple cadence obey the same law, only their length never—except

in the Anglo-Saxon alliterative metre, of the peculiar laws of which I shall have to speak— exceeds

admeasure- ment of English verse beyond question. It has been rightly felt by Mitford and others

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English measures. It is scarcely fit for anything but a dirge; the reason being, that the final pause

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 47 slowest and most mournful, to the most rapid and high- spirited of all

English metres, the common eight-syllable quatrain; a measure particularly recommended by the early

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aids will make anything of this sort of verse but metrical non- sense—which it nearly always is, even

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 49 it by no means follows that the verse must begin or end

of the first syllable in the metrical sec- E

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, the most musical of writers, affords more examples of lines of this constitution than any other English

of referring the metre of verse and that of music to a common law, should have taught him that they exemplify

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 51 modulus. The lovely song in “Measure for Measure,” beginning— “Take, oh

marking of them. English poetry (including Anglo-Saxon) divides itself into three great classes

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ENGLISH METRICAL LAW. 53 “ ornament” of versification: it is a real and powerful metrical adjunct

, of marking essential metrical pauses, allitera- ----- tion is a very effective mode of conferring emphasis

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its metrical value, so alliteration is sometimes a real ornament when it is little else