Page images

works of Mr. Pope, particularly in his tranflation of Homer. The French and Italians frequently form their rhymes with words of four or five fyllables. On this account, they "drag "their flow length along," as Mr. Pope expreffes it," like a wounded fake."

In blank verfe, there are no corresponding founds at the end of the lines, yet a small stress on the final word is neceffary; first, because in this fpecies of verfification, as well as in rhyme, the accent ought to fall on the tenth syllable. Secondly, because it is necessary to shew, where the line terminates. However, in all cafes, where the fenfe of one line runs into another, and no point can be admitted at the end of the verse, the reader should make no formal pause, nor, by any means, DROP the voice in that place; but, after the flight ftrefs or accent above-mentioned, proceed, without interrup

* As a lottery-ticket, which is not entitled to any prize, and a piece of white paper, which contains no writing, or some vacant fpaces in a fentence, which are left for words or figures to be afterwards inferted, have been usually called blanks, fo it is probable, that verfes without rhyme have been styled blank verfes, because the lines have no correfponding found at the conclufion; and the want of that fort of harmony seems to difappoint the reader's expectation.

tion, to the next stop, or the poetical reft: as in the following lines.

He fpake; and, to confirm his word, outflew
Millions of flaming fwords, drawn from the thighs

Of mighty cherubim; the sudden blaze

Far round illumin'd hell.

P. L. i. 663.

So lovely feem'd

The landscape; and of

pure now purer


Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All fadnefs, but defpair. Now, gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, difpenfe
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them, who fail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mofambic, off at fea, north-eaft winds blow
Sabean odors, from the fpicy fhore

Of Araby the Bleft; with such delay

Well pleas'd they flack their courfe, and many a league, Chear'd with the grateful smell, old ocean fmiles. iv. 152.

Let it always be remembered, that, in reading, as well as in writing and printing, the different characteristics of profe and verse should be inviolably preferved; that verfe fhould be read as verfe, and profe as profe; and that if the laft word of any line is paffed over with the rapidity of an unaccented fyllable, the measure will be totally annihilated, and the poetry abfurdly reduced

B 5

reduced to mere profe. "There are," fays Dr. Johnson*, "only a few skilful and happy readers "of Milton, who enable their audience to per"ceive, where the lines end or begin."

It may be observed, that, in the foregoing paffages from the Paradife Loft, there is a pleafing variety in the pauses, a freedom from that general uniformity in the movement of the verse, which attends the precifion of the couplet. In this respect, blank verse appears to have an advantage over rhyme.

Life of Milton, p. 266.

$ III.

FOR the fake of variety, the line fometimes begins with an accented fyllable.


Afk' of thy mother earth, why óaks are made,
Táller, or ftrónger, than the wéeds they fháde.

Eff. on M. i. 39.

Pléas'd to the láft, he cróps the flów'ry food.

lb. 83.

Snátch from his hand the bálance and the ród.

Ib. 121.

Díe of a rófe in áromátic páin.

Ib. 200.

Plánets and fúns run lawless thro' the sky'.

lb. 252.

Fórm'd, and impéll'd its neighbour tó embrace.

Some in the fields of púrest éther play.

lb. iii. 12.

Rape of the L. ii. 77.

Snúff, or the fan, fupplies each paúse of chát.

Ib. iii. 17.

Féar the juft góds, and think of Scy'lla's fate.

[blocks in formation]

Plác'd at the hélm he fát, and márk'd the skíes.

Odyf. v. 345.

Shoots from the stárry váult, thro' fields of aír.
Ib. viii. 8.

As the fecond is generally the accented fyllable, many injudicious readers contract a habit of throwing the accent on that fyllable, without regard to the fall importance of the word, or the impropriety of the pronunciation. By this mechanical modification of the voice, the accent will be laid on of, to, from, and, in, or, the, at ; and on the latter fyllable, in the words taller and planets.

This abfurdity fhould be carefully avoided; and the following rule always obferved: “Not "to lay a ftrefs on an infignificant particle, or

[ocr errors]

any word or fyllable, which a correct and "regular pronunciation does not authorize." Some exceptions must be made, which will be hereafter explained*."

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »