Page images
PDF
EPUB

To return to equality. Iis idea embraces those in the construction of words of iwo syllables, equalof similarity, proportion, identity, repetition, and ly accented. In corroboration of this idea we find adaptation or fitness. It might not be very diffi- that spondees most abound in the most ancient cult to go even behind the idea of equality, and tongues. The second step we can easily suppose show both how and why it is that the human nature to be the comparison, that is to say, the collocation, takes pleasure in it, but such an investigation would, of two spondees—of two words composed each of for any purpose now in view, be supererogatory. a spondee. The third step would be the juxta-påIt is sufficient that the fact is undeniable-lhe fact sition of three of these words. By this time the that man derives enjoyment from his perception of perception of monotone would induce farther conequality. Let us examine a crystal. We are at sideration : and thus arises what Leigh Hont so once interested by the equality between the sides flounders in discussing under the riile of "The and between the angles of one of its faces : the Principle of Variety in Uniformity." Of course equality of the sides pleases us; that of the angles there is no principle in the case--nor in maintaindoubles the pleasure. On bringing to view a second sing it. The “ Uniformity” is the principle :-the face in all respects similar to the first, this pleasure" Variety” is but the principle's natural safeguard seems to be squared ; on bringing to view a third from self-destruction by excess of self. “Unifor. it appears to be cubed, and so on. I have no doubt, miiy,” besides, is the very worst word that could indeed, ihat the delight experienced, if measurable, have been chosen for the expression of the general would be found to have exact mathematical rela- idea at which it aims. tions such as I suggest; that is to say, as far as a The perception of monotone having given rise certain point, beyond which there would be a de- to an attempt at its relief, the first thought in this crease in similar relations.

new direction would be that of collating two or The perception of pleasure in the equality of more words formed each of two syllables differsounds is the principle of Music. Unpractised ears ently accented (that is to say, short and long) but can appreciate only simple equalities, such as are having the same order in each word :-in other found in ballad-airs. While comparing one simple terms, of collating two or more iambuses, or two sound with another they are too much occupied 10 or more trochees. And here let me paose to asbe capable of coinparing the equality subsisting sert that more pitiable nonsense has been written between these iwo simple sounds, taken conjointly, on the topic of long and short syllables than on any and two other similar simple sounds taken conjoint- other subject under the sun. In general, a sylla

Practised ears, on the other hand, appreciate ble is long or short, just as it is difficult or easy of both equalities at the same instant-alihough it is enunciation. The natural long syllables are those absurd to suppose that both are heard at the same encumbered—the natural short ones are those uninstant. One is heard and appreciated from itself: encumbered, with consonants; all the rest is mere the other is heard by the memory; and the instant artificiality and jargon. The Latin Prosodies have glides into and is confounded with the secondary, a rule that" a vowel before two consonants is long." appreciation. Highly cultivated musical taste in This rule is deduced from "authority”--that is

, this manner enjoys not only these double equalities, from the observation that vowels so circumstanced, all appreciated at once, but takes pleasurable cog. in the ancient poems, are always in syllables inng nizance, through memory, of equalities the mem- by the laws of scansion. The philosophy of the bers of which occur at intervals so great that the rule is untouched, and lies simply in the physical uncultivated taste loses them altogether. That difficulty of giving voice to such syllables—of perthis latter can properly estimate or decide on the forming the lingual evolutions necessary for their meriis of what is called scientific music, is of course utterance. Of course, it is not the vowel that is impossible. But scientific music has no claim 10 long (although the rule says so, but the syllable of intrinsic excellence-it is fit for scientific ears which the vowel is a part. It will be seen that the alone. In its excess it is the triumph of the phy. length of a syllable, depending on the facility or sique over the morale of music. The sentiment is difficulty of its enunciation, must have great varioverwhelmed by the sense. On the whole, the ad- alion in various syllables: but for the purposes of vocates of the simpler melody and harmony have verse we suppose a long syllable equal to two short infinitely the best of the argument ;-although there ones :-and ihe natural deviation from this relativehas been very little of real argument on the subject. ness we correct in perosal. The more closely our In verse,

which cannot be heller designated than long syllables approach this relation with our short as an inferior or less capable Music, there is, hap- ones, the better, ceteris paribus, will be our verse : pily, little chance for complexity. Its rigidly sim- but if the relation does not exist of itself, we force ple character noi even Science-not even Pedan- it by emphasis, which can, of course, make any try can greatly pervert.

syllable as long as desired ;-or, by an effort we The rudiment of verse may, possibly, be found can pronounce with unnato al brevity a syllable in the spondee. The very germ of a thought seek that is naturally too long. Accented syllables are ing satisfaction in equality of sound, would result of course always long-—but, where urencombered

ly.

with consonants, must be classed among the un- ciple of equality being constantly at the bottom of naturally long. Mere costom has declared that the whole process, lines would naturally be made, we shall accent them that is to say, dwell upon in the first instance, equal in the number of their them; but no inevitable lingual difficulty forces us feet; in the second instance there would be variato do so. In fine, every long syllable must of its tion in the mere number ; one line would be twice own accord occupy in its utterance, or must be as long as another; then one would be some less made to occupy, precisely the time demanded for obvious multiple of another; then still less obvious two short ones. The only exception to this rule proportions would be adopted :-nevertheless there is found in the cæsura--of which more anon. would be proportion, that is to say a phase of equal

The success of the experiment with the trochees ity, still. or iambuses (the one would have suggested the Lines being once introduced, the necessity of other) must have led to a trial of dactyls or ana- distinctly defining these lines to the ear, (as yet pæsts-natural dactyls or anapæsts—dactylic or written verse does not exist.) would lead to a scrutianapæstic words. And now some degree of com- ny of their capabilities at their lerminations :-and plexity has been allained. There is an apprecia- now would spring op the idea of equality in sound betion, first, of the equality between the several dac.tween the final syllables—in other words, of rhyme. tyls, or a napæsis, and, secondly, of that between First, it would be used only in the iambic, anapæsthe long syllable and the iwo short conjointly. But tic, and spondaic rhythms, (granting that the latter here it may be said that step after step would have had not been thrown aside, long since, on account been taken, in continuation of this routine, until all of its tameness ;) because in these rhythms the the feet of the Greek Prosodies became exhausted. concluding syllable, being long, could best sustain Not so :—these remaining feet have no existence the necessary protection of the voice. No great except in the brains of the scholiasts. It is need. while could elapse, however, before the effect, found less to imagine men inventing these things, and pleasant as well as useful, would be applied to the folly to explain how and why they invented them. two remaining rhythms. But as the chief force of until it shall be first shown that they are acınally rhyme must lie in the accented syllable, the atinvented. All other" • feet" than those which I tempt to create rhyme at all in these iwo remainhave specified, are, if not impossible at first view, ing rhythms, the trochaic and dacıylic, would nemerely combinations of the specified ; and, although cessarily result in double and triple rhymes, such this assertion is rigidly true, I will, to avoid mis- as beauty with duly (trochaic) and beautiful with understanding, put it in a somewhat different shape. Jutiful (dactylic.) I will say, then, that at present I am aware of no It must be observed that in suggesting these prorhythm—nor do I believe that any one can be con- cesses I assign them no date ; nor do I even insist structed—which, in its last analysis, will not be upon their order. Rhyme is supposed 10 be of found to consist altogether of the feet I have men modern origin, and were this proved, my positions tioned, either existing in their individual and obvi- remain untouched. I may say, however, in passous condition, or interwoven with each other in ac- ing, that several instances of rhyme occur in the cordance with simple natural laws which I will en "Clouds” of Aristophanes, and that the Roman deavor to point out hereafter.

poets occasionally employ it. There is an effecWe have now gone so far as to snppose men con. tive species of ancient rhyming which has never structing indefinite sequences of spondaic, iambic, descended to the moderns ; that in which the ultitrochaic, dacıylic, or anapæstic words. In extend male and penultimate syllables rhyme with each ing these seqnences, they would be again arrested other. For example: by the sense of monotone. A succession of spondees would immediately have displeased; one of

Parturiunt montes et nascitur ridiculus mus. iambuses or of trochees, on account of the variety included within the foot itself, would have taken and againlonger to displease ; one of dactyls or anapæsts still longer : but even the last, if extended very

Litoreis ingens inventa sub ilicibus sus. far, must have become wearisome. The idea, first, of curtailing, and, secondly, of defining the length

The terminations of Hebrew verse, (as far as of a sequence, would thus at once have arisen understood,) show no signs of rhyme ; but what Here then is the line, or verse proper.* The prin- thinking person can doubt that it did actually ex

ist? That men have so obstinately and blindly in

sisted, in general, even op to the present day, in * Verse, from the Latin vertere, to turn, is so called on confining rhyme to the ends of lines, when its account of the turning or recommencement of the series of effect is even better applicable elsewhere, intimates, feet. Thus a verse, strictly speaking, is a line. In this sense, however, I have preferred using the latter word in my opinion, the sense of some necessity in the alone ; employing the foriner in the general acceptation connexion of the end with the rhyme--hints that given it in the heading of this paper.

the origin of rhyme lay in a necessity which con

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

nected it with the end-shows that neither mere ac- (which was also its best,) form, the stanza world cident nor mere fancy gave rise to the connexion- most probably have had absolute unity. In order points, in a word, at the very necessity which I words, the removal of any one of its lines would have suggested, (that of some mode of defining have rendered it imperfect; as in the case ahore, lines to the ear,) as the true origin of rhyme. Ad- where if the last line, for example, be taken away, mit this and we throw the origin far back in the there is left no rhyme to the “ dutiful" of the first night of Time-beyond the origin of written verse. Modern stanza is excessively loose, and where so,

But to resume. The amount of complexity 1 ineffective as a matter of course. have now supposed to be attained is very consid- Now, although in the deliberate written stateerable. Various systems of equalization are ap- ment which I have here given of these various preciated at once (or nearly so) in their respective systems of equalities, there seems to be an infinity values and in the value of each system with ref- of complexity—so much that it is hard to conceire erence to all the others. As our present ultima- the mind taking cognizance of them all in the brief tum of complexity we have arrived at triple period occupied by the perusal or recital of ibe rhymed, natural-dactylic lines, existing proportion- stanza-yet the difficulty is in fact apparent only

ht ally as well as equally with regard to other triple- when we will it to become so. Any one fond of rhymed, natural-dactylic lines. For example : mental experiment may satisfy bimself, by trial,

that, in listening to the lines, he does actually, (al. Virginal Lilian, rigidly, humblily dutiful;

though with a seeming unconsciousness, on account Saintlily, lowlily,

of the rapid evolutions of sensation.) recognize and Thrillingly, holily Beautiful!

instantaneously appreciate, (more or less intensely :}

as his ear is cultivated,) each and all of the equaliHere we appreciate, first, the absolute equality ceivable, has very much such progressive increase,

zations detailed. The pleasure received, or rebetween the long syllable of each dactyl and the and in very nearly such mathematical relations, as two short conjointly; secondly, the absolute equali- those which I have suggested in the case of the ty between each dactyl and any other dactyl-in

crystal. other words, among all the dactyls ; thirdly, the

It will be observed that I speak of merely a pros. absolute equality between the two middle lines ; fourthly, the absolute equality between the first ful" and that of “ beautiful ;“ and it may be asked

imate equality between the first syllable of " dutiline and all the others taken conjointly; fifthly, the why we cannot imagine the earliest rhymes to have absolute equality between the two last syllables of had absolute instead of proximate equality of sound. the respective words“ dutiful" and " beautiful ;" But absolute equality would have involved the use sixthly, the absolute eqnality between the two

of identical words; and it is the duplicate samelast syllables of the respective words "lowlily" and " holily ;” seventhly, the proximate equality sound—which would have caused these rhymes to

ness or monotony—that of sense as well as that of between the first syllable of " dutiful" and the first

be rejected in the very first instance. syllable of “beautiful ;" eighthly, the proximale

The narrowness of the limits within which verse equality between the first syllable of lowlily” and

composed of natural feet alone, must necessarily that of " holily ;" ninthly, the proportional equality, (that of five to one,) between the first line and have been confined, would have led, after a very each of its members, the dactyls ; tenthly, the pro- of artificial feel that is to say of feet not consti

brief interval, to the trial and immediate adoption portional equality, (that of two to one,) between cuted each of a single word, but two or even three each of the middle lines and its members, the dac- words; or of paris of words.

These feet would tyls; eleventhly, the proportional equality between be intermingled with natural ones. For examthe first line and each of the two middle-that of

ple : five to two; twelfthly, the proportional equality between the first line and the last—that of five to one;

ă brēath | căn māke I hěm ās ă breath | bằs måde. thirteenthly, the proportional equality between each of the middle lines and the last-ihat of two to This is an iambic line in which each iambas is one ; lastly, the proportional equality, as concerns formed of two words. Again : number, between all the lines, taken collectively, and any individual line-that of four lo one.

The ūn | imă | gìnā / blě might 1 of Jöre. ! The consideration of this last equality would give birth immediately to the idea of stanza*—that This is an iambic line in which the first foot is is to say, the insulation of lines into equal or ob- formed of a word and a part of a word; the seeviously proportional masses. In its primitive, ond and third of parts taken from the body or in

terior of a word ; the fourth of a part and a whole ; * A stanza is often vulgarly, and with gross impropriety, the fifth of iwo complete words. There are lo called a verse.

natural feet in either lines. Again :

Can it bě | sānciēd thăt | Dējy | ēvěr vín | dictively | sary to add here, first, that I believe the “processMade in his l image ă | männikin / iněrely tỏ | mädděn it? Ies" above detailed to be nearly if not accurately

those which did occur in the gradual creation of These are two dactylic lines in which we find nat. what we now call verse ; secondly, that, although ural feet, (** Deity,” “ mannikin ;”) feet composed I so believe, I yet urge neither the assumed of iwo words (** fancied that," " image a," "merely facı nor my belief in it, as a part of the true proto," * madden it ;") feet composed of three words position of this paper; thirdly, that in regard to (* can it be," "made in his ;") a foot composed of a the aim of this paper, it is of no consequence whethpart of a word ( dictively;") and a foot composed er these processes did occur either in the order ! of a word and a part of a word (“ever vin.") bave assigned them, or at all; my design being sim

And now, in our supposititious progress, we have ply, in presenting a general type of what such progone so far as to exhaust all the essentialities of cesses might have been and must have resembled, verse. What follows may, strictly speaking, be to help them, the “ some people,” to an easy underrecorded as embellishment merely-but even in standing of what I have farther to say on the topic this embellishment, the rudimental sense of equali- of Verse. ly would have been the never-ceasing impulse. It There is one point which, in my summary of the kould, for example, be simply in seeking farther processes, I have purposely forborne to touch; beadministration 10 this sense that men would come, cause this point, being the most important of all, in time, to think of the refrain, or burden, where, on account of the immensity of error usually inat the closes of the several stanzas of a poem, one volved in its consideration, would have led me into word or phrase is repeated; and of alliteration, in a series of detail inconsistent with the object of a whose simplest form a consonant is repeated in the

summary. commencements of various words. This effect

Every reader of verse must have observed how would be extended so as to embrace repetitions seldom it happens that even any one line proceeds both of vowels and of consonants, in the bodies uniformly with a succession, such as I have suppoas well as in the beginnings of words ; and, at a sed, of absolutely equal feet; that is to say, with later period, would be made to infringe on the prov- a succession of iambuses only, or of trochees only, iore of rhyme, by the introduction of general simi. or of dactyls only, or of anapæsts only, or of sponlarity of sound between whole feet occurring in dees only. Even in the most musical lines we find the body of a line :-all of which inodifications I the succession interrupted. The iambic pentamehave exemplified in the line above,

ters of Pope, for example, will be found on exam

ination, frequently varied by trochees in the beMade in his image a mannikin merely to madden it. ginning, or by (what seem to be) anapæsls in the

body, of the line. Farther cultivation would improve also the refrain by relieving its monotone in slighily varying the õh thõn I whătė | věr til tlé pleāse | thĩne eār! phrase at each repetition, or, (as I have allempted Děan Drā | piěr Bjck | ērsiäff I or Gulliver | to do in The Raven,") in retaining the phrase and Whēthěr I thou choose | Cěrvan | těs' sē | rìoŭs šir |

or laugh i and shāke | in Rab | ělass' eä / sy chair. I varving its application-although this latter point is not strictly a rliyihmical effect alone. Finally, poeis when fairly wearied with following prece. Were any one weak enough to refer to the Prosodent--following it the more closely the less they dies for a solution of the difficulty here, he would perceived it in company with Reason--would ad- find it solved as usual by a rule, stating the fact, venture so far as lo indulge in positive rhyme al (or what is, the rule, supposes to be the fact,) bat other points than the ends of lines. First, ihey without the slightest attempt at the rationale. “By would put it in the middle of the line ; then at some a synaresis of the two short syllables,” say the point where the multiple woul. be less obvious: then books, " an anapæst may sometimes be employed alarmed at their own audaciiy, they would undo all for an iambus, or a dactyl for a trochee. ... In their work by calling these lines in two. And here the beginning of a line a trochee is often used for is the fruitful source of the infinity of " short me- an jambus." tre," by which modern poetry, if not distinguished, Blending is the plain English for synæresis-but is at least disgraced. It would require a high de. there should be no blending ; neither is an anapæst gree, indeed, both of cultivation and of courage, on ever employed for an iambus, or a dactyl for a trothe part of any versifier, to enable him to place his chee. These feet differ in time; and no feet so rhymes—and let them remain-at unquestionably differing can ever be legitimately used in the same their best position, that of unusual and unanticipa- line. An anapæst is equal to four short syllablesled intervals.

an jambus only to three. Dactyls and trochees On account of the stupidity of some people, or, hold the same relation. The principle of equality, (if talent be a more respectable word.) on account in verse, admits, it is true, of variation al ceriai of their talent for misconception—I think it neces- points, for the relief of monotone, as I have al

What lishment.

ready shown, but the point of time is that point About eleven years ago, there appeared in " The which, being the rudimental one, must never be American Monthly Magazine," (ihen edited, I be. tampered with at all.

lieve, by Mess. Hoffman and Benjamin,) a review To explain :-In farther efforts for the relief of of Mr. Willis' Poems; the critic pulling forth his monotone than those to which I have alluded in strength, or his weakness, in an endeavor to show the summary, men soon came to see that there was that the poet was either absurdly affected. or grossno absolute necessiiy for adhering to the precisely ignorant of the laws of verse; the accusation number of syllables, provided the time required for being based altogether on the fact that Mr. W. the whole foot was preserved inviolate. They made occasional use of this very word "delicale." saw, for instance, that in such a line as

and other similar words, in the Heroic measore

which every one knew consisted of feet of two syl. or lāugh I ănd shāke | in Rāh | člais ēa / sy chair. I lables." Mr. W. has often, for example, such

lines as the equalization of the three syllables elais ea with the two syllables composing any of the other feet, That binds him to a woman's delicale losecould be readily effected by pronouncing the two

In the gay sunshine, reverent in the storm

With its invisible fingers toy loose hair. syllable elais in double quick time. By pronouncing each of the syllables e and lais twice as rapidly as Here, of course, the feet licate love, verent in, and the syllable sy, or the syllable in, or any other short sible fin, are bastard iambuses; are not anapæsts; syllable, they could bring the two of them, taken and are not improperly used. Their employment, together, to the length, that is to say to the time,

on the contrary, by Mr. Willis is but one of the of any one short syllable. This consideration en innumerable instances he has given of keen sensiabled them to effect the agreeable variation of three bility in all those matters of taste which may be syllables in place of the uniform two. And varia- classed under the general head of fanciful embeltion was the object-variation to the ear. sense is there, then, in supposing this object ren

It is also abont eleven years ago, if I am not dered null by the blending of the two syllables so

mistaken, since Mr. Horne, (of England, the auas to render them, in absolute effect, one ? Of

Thor of “ Orion," one of the nublest epics in any course, there must be no blending. Each syllable language, thought it necessary to preface his must be pronounced as distinctly as possible, cor - Chaucer Modernized” by a very long and evithe variation is lost,) but with iwice the rapidity in dently a very elaborate essay, of which the greater which the ordinary short syllable is enunciated. portion was occupied in a discussion of the seemThat the syllables elais ea do not compose an ana- ingly anomalous foot of which we have been speak. past is evident, and the signs (**) of their accent

ing Mr. Horne opholds Chaucer in its frequest uation are erroneous. The foot miglit be writer

use ; maintains his superiority, on account of his thus (---) the inverted crescents expressing double

so frequently using it, over all English versifers ; quick time ; and might be called a bastard iam- and, indignantly repelling the common idea of those bus.

who make verse on their fingers--that the superHere is a trochaic line :

fluous syllable is a roughness and an error-rery

chivalrously makes barile for it as “a grace." That SẼe thế | delicite | footă0 | rõin-deễr. |

a grace it is, there can be no doubı; and what I

complain of is, that the author of the most happily The prosodies—that is to say the most considerate versified long poem in existence, should have been of them-would here decide that delicate” is a under the necessity of discussing this grare merely dactyl used in place of a trochee, and would refer as a grace, through forty or filiy vague pages, solely to what they call their rule," for justification. because of his inability to show how and why it is a Others, varying the stupidity, would insist upon a grace-by which showing the question would hare Procrustean adjustment thus (delcate)—an adjust been seuiled in an instant. ment recommended to all such words as silvery,

About the trochee used for an iambus, as we see murmuring, etc., which, it is said, should be not it in the beginning of the line, only pronounced, but written silv'ry, murm'ring, and so on, whenever they find themselves in tro.

Whēthěr thou choose Cervantes' serious air, chaic predicament. I have only to say that “delicate," when circumstanced as above, is neither a there is litile that need be said. It brings me to the dactyl nor a dactyl's equivalent; that I would sag. general proposition that, in all rhythms, the prer. gest for it this (mm) accentuation ; that I think it alent or distinctive feet may be varied at will, and as well to call it a bastard trochee ; and that all nearly at random, by ihe occasional introduction of words, at all events, shoul be written and pro- equivalent feet-That is to say, feet the sum of nounced in full, and as nearly as possible as nature whose syllabic times is equal to the sum of the spl. intended them.

labic times of the distinctive feet. Thus the tro

« PreviousContinue »