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MANUSCRIPTS OF MELMOTH.
A lady who had been educated by manuscripts. Melancholy lot of an Melmoth (the translator, author of author-that, after a life of literary Fitzosbome's Letters, &c.), told me, toil, he must be destined to no better about the year 1813, that she had a fate than that of inflicting an emotion trunk full of his manuscripts. As an of pure disgust upon a literary man, article of literary gossip, this may as when he is told that he may have the well be made known: for some au- sight of “a great trunk-full" of his thor, writing a biographical dictio- manuscripts !-However the lady was nary, may be interested in knowing to some degree in the wrong for callall that can be now known of Mel- ing it “a great trunk:” if she had moth,—and may even wish to exa- said " a little trunk," I might permine his manuscripts, which (from haps have felt some curiosity. The the liberality of the lady) I am con- Sybil was the first literary person fident would be readily lent. For who understood the doctrine of market my part, I never looked into Fitz- price; and all authors, unless they osborne's Letters since my boyhood: write for money to meet an immedibut the impression I then derived ate purpose, should act upon her exfrom them-was that Melmoth was ample--and irritate the taste for a fribble in literature, and one of the whatever merit their works may have, “sons of the feeble.”. Accordingly by cautiously abstaining from overI shrunk myself even from the “ sad stocking the market. civility” of asking to look at the
SCRIPTURAL ALLUSION EXPLAINED.
In p. 50, of the “ Annotations” turned from Upper Egypt, &c. asupon Glanvill's * Lux Orientalis, the sures me that the moon does produce author (who was, I believe, Henry an effect on the skin which may as More the Platonist) having occasion accurately be expressed by the word to quote from the Psalms-" The burn' as any solar effect. By sun shall not burn thee by day, nei- sleeping a few hours under the light ther the moon by night,” in order to of a full moon, which is as much illustrate that class of cases where shunned in some parts of the East, as an ellipsis is to be suggested by the sleeping on the wet ground with us, sense rather than directly indicated, or standing bareheaded under the says—“ the word burn cannot be re- noon-day sun in Bengal,-my informpeated, but some other more suitable ant brought a severe complaint upon verb is to be supplied.”-A gentle- his eyes. man however, who has lately re
it to walk. Just as certain as it is that all human beings could never, by clubbing their visual powers together, have arrived at the power of seeing what the telescope discovers to the astronomer : just so certain it is that the human intellect would never have arrived at an analysis of the infinite or a Critical Analysis of the Pure Reason (the principal work of Kant), unless individuals had dismembered (as it were) and insulated this or that specific faculty, and had thus armed their intellectual sight by the keenest ab. straction and by the submersion of the other powers of their nature.--Extraordinary men are formed then by energetic and over-excited spasms as it were in the individual faculties ; though it is true that the equable exercise of all the faculties in harmony with each other can alone make happy and perfect men."-After this statement, from which it should seem that in the progress of society nature has made it necessary for man to sacrifice his own happiness to the attainment of her ends in the developement of his species, Schiller goes on to inquire whether this evil result cannot be remedied ; and whether “ the totality of our nature, which art has destroyed, might not be re-established by a higher art." --but this, as leading to a discussion beyond the limits of my own, I omit.
* This Tax Orientalis was first published about 1662; but republished, with Annotations, in 1682.
ON ENGLISH VERSIFICATION.
OF THE SPECIES OF POETRY WHICH ADMIT OF RĦIME.
Ruime is to be esteemed an orna- attempt in blank verse has been ment of verse, but not of the highest made with better acceptance, and order : it may therefore not merely well-deserved success; the translabe dispensed with as unnecessary, tion of Dante by Mr. Cary, for fidebut is to be rejected as improper in "lity to the original and good versome kinds of poetry. Other kinds sification, is not surpassed by any in there are in which it is required; to the English language. some of these it is suitable, and to Some of the lighter kinds admit some attached by custom. Blair says rhimes, either single or double, in of rhime “ that it finds its proper the middle of the line ; which King place in the middle, but not in the James, in his Treatise on Scottis higher ranges of poetry :” and he Poesie, calls broken verse, and gives suggests good reason for its exclu- this example. sion from these when he adds, that Lo, how that lytil God of love it is “ suitable to subjects where no Before me then appear'd ; particular vehemence is required in So myld-like and chyld-like, with bow the sentiments, nor sublimity in the three quarters skant ; style."
So moylie and coylie he lukit like a sant. The ornament of rhime is proper, But such rhimes are of so little reand required in the shorter pieces of pute that English critics have passed verse; as, epigrams, songs, madri- them by without name or notice. gals, sonnets, epitaphs, elegies, and It is further to be observed conthe like: and in general, all pieces cerning the kinds of poetry now that are written in stanzas, or in any mentioned, that in strictness of proother measure than the heroic. It is priety they require different mealikewise commonly thought necessary sures, according to the subjects to give to translations the embellish- treated of: The Elegy, for instance, ment of rhime; and this rather from being (as its name denotes) of a custom and compliance with the pub- mournful nature, is most fitly.com. lic taste, than for any reason that posed in a staid and grave kind of has been alleged. The translations verse; viz. the heroic. The same of Virgil and Homer into blank verse kind of verse is likewise best adapted failed, and are forgotten; though we to the epitaph. We have, indeed, have no translation of the latter epitaphs of great merit in other meawhich represents the Greek so faith- sures; such is that of Gray on Mrs. fully. In the present day another Clarke, beginning with these lines,
• The form in which English Elegy has most commonly appeared is the stanza of four lines in which the rhimes alternate. Br. Johnson seems to censure this form ; for he says, “Why Hammond or other writers have thought the quatrain of ten syllables elegiac, it is difficult to tell. The character of the elegy is gentleness and tenuity: but this stanze has been pronounced by Dryden, whose knowledge of English metre was not inconsiderable, to be the most magnificent of all the measures which our language affords.”—Life of Hammond.
In alleging the authority of Dryden, Dr. Johnson has not dealt fairly with his readers ; for, granting that Dryden' had a perfect knowledge of English metre, he did not always speak according to that knowledge: and this the Doctor knew ; for, in his Life of Dryden, he says of him, “his occasional and particular positions in criticism) were sometimes interested, sometimes negligent, and sometimes capricious. It is not without reason that Trapp says, novimus viri illius maximi non semper accuratissimas esse censuras, nec ad severissimam critices normam exactas : illo judice id plerumque optimum est, quod nunc præ manibus habet, et in quo nunc occupatur. He is therefore by no means consonant to himself.” Such, according to Dr. Johnson, was the judgment of Dryden in his occasional criticisms. It is needless, we think, to vindicate the practice of our elegywriters against 60 disputable an authority. When Dryden gave that high character to the quatrain, he was composing his Annus Mirabilis, which is written in that measure.
Lo, where this silent marble weeps, eight syllables only, want the gravity
A friend, a wife, a mother, sleeps : of the heroic line, and the solemnity which yet we cannot but consider as which is required by their subject.* defective, in that the verses, being of
OF THE DISPOSITION OF RHIMES.
Under this head rhimes will be manner of doing it, but only some of considered; first, as to the order in the most approved examples. which they stand; and 2d, the num To describe this verbally would at ber which rhime together.
least be tedious: we shall therefore The simple, and most natural or- borrow, from Puttenham's Art of der is that, when adjoining verses Poetry, his method of showing the rhime together, as in the couplet: disposition of rhimes, which is comthe next seems to be that of alternate 'pendious and clear, and applicable to rhimes in the stanza of four lines. every rhiming poem. But as rhimes are frequently disposed, It is a bracket, by the points of both in order and number, very dif- which the rhimes are represented ; ferently from the instances here and the part which connects those given, it is proper to notice how that points shows the connexion and place is done ; not indeed every licentious of the rhimes. By this method the couplet will be represented thus:
O parent of each lovely Muse,
How meanly dwells th’immortal mind !
How vile these bodies are !
The following stanzas, by Ben Jonson, are part of an epitaph on a child of Queen Elizabeth's chapel.
Weep with me, all you that read
This little story:
Death's self is sorry.
In grace and feature,
Which own'd the creature ; &c. &c. It would not be easy to frame any thing more different from what it ought to be, than the combination of short measures, double rhimes, and false thoughts, which enter into this epitaph.
We shall presume on the reader's patience to lay before him a Latin epitaph, of a most singular form; it being in Sapphic verse : in other respects of much propriety and beauty. It is that in Westminster Abbey, upon Carteret, a boy of the school. The device of the monument is a figure of Time, holding a scroll with these lines inscribed :
Quid breves Te delicias tuorum
A more complicated form of the bracket will be seen if applied to the sonnet:
I once may see when years shall wreck my wrong;
Then Beauty (now the burden of my song)
Then fade those flowers that deck d her pride so long.
Which then presents her winter-wither’d hue,
For what she was she best will find in you :
Daniel. By these brackets may be seen the place, as in the example above. In disposition of the rhimes : i. e. how the remaining six lines the composer they are connected and placed: and has liberty to arrange his rhimes at it is evident that such brackets may discretion. It may be added, that be formed as will show the same our early writers very seldom conthing in any poem by mere inspec- structed their sonnets upon the regution of them, independent of the words lar plan. Three quatrains with alwhich they represent. This we shall ternate rbimes, and a couplet in the have occasion to exemplify when we close was the most usual form of come to treat of lyric poetry. i their composition. Such are the son
The sonnet which is here given is nets of Lord Surrey, Gascoigne, Spenin the regular form of that species of cer, and Shakspeare; those of Sir poem. It came to us from the Ita- Thomas Wyat are an exception, for lians, and, aecording to Ellis, (Spe- they are all regular. cimens of English Poets, vol. ii. p. 3) Under the disposition of rhimes is who calls it a “difficult novelty,"* to be noted the distance at which was introduced here, probably by the they may stand apart, and the numcourt poets of the reign of Henry ber that may properly rhime toges VIII. But in that age the name of ther. Sonnet was very loosely applied. It has been already observed that " Some think, (says Gascoigne, in the quick return of rhime is inconhis Instruction concerning the making sistent with sublimity in verse : by of Verse in English,) that all poems, which was meant a return at the end being short, may be called sonnets; of every line of eight; or fewer, sylas indeed it is a diminutive word de lables ; but, on the other hand, the rived of sonare ; but yet I can be extent to which correspondent rhimes allow to call those sonnets which are may be separated, is not easy to deof fourteen lines, every line contain- termine. When three heroic lines ing ten syllables," p. 10.
intervene, they seem to be set as far Even this limitation is not strict asunder as can be allowed with proenough for the regular sonnet: for priety. The following verses, from there the rbimes of the first eight a sonnet of Milton, exhibit an exlines are to be such, in number and ample.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Although our poets in that century did not choose to encounter the difficulty of composing regular sonnets, they were not backward to contrive and execute various difficul. ties of composition in verse, of which some ridiculous specimens may be seen in Webbe's Discourse of English Poetry, edited by Haslewood, p. 64, 65.
- If rhimes should be set further verse, so a continuance of the same apart than in this instance, their cor- rhime, for many lines together, tends respondence on the ear, which is the to produce a similar effect. A very main purpose of rhime, would be licentious repetition of rhimes occurs lost.
in the following stanza of Cowley's As a quick return of rhime de- Ode, addressed to Brutus : stroys the gravity and dignity of
Virtue was thy life's centre, and from thence
And all the parts upon it lean'd so easily,
Each had his motion natural and free,
And the whole no more moved than the whole world could be. A rhime continued for three lines together is allowable, and often graceful if the last be an alexandrine, as here.
Waller was smooth, but Dryden taught to join
Pope's Imitations of Horace. Epist. 1. • It is not unlikely that the bracket which used to be set against such triplets as this, and which the printers have lately omitted to insert in our books, had the same origin with those adopted by Puttenham ; and that its design was to apprise the reader of the connexion of the rhimes. • The criticism contained in these celebrated lines seems to have been received by subsequent critics as a sentence of decisive authority. Dr. Johnson's account of Waller and Dryden is a sort of commentary upon them. He says, Waller “ certainly very much excelled in smoothness most of the writers, who were living when his poetry commenced. The poets of Elizabeth had attained an art of modulation, which was afterwards neglected or forgotten. Fairfax was acknowledged by him as his model ; and he might have studied with advantage the poem of Davies (on the Immortality of the Soul) which though merely philosophical, yet seldom leaves the ear ungratified.” Of Dryden he affirms that " veneration is paid to his name by every cultivator of English literature ; as he refined the language, improved the sentiments, and tuned the numbers, of English poetry: that after about half a century of forced thoughts, and ragged metre, some advances towards nature and harmony had been already made by Waller and Denham ; they had shown that long discourses in rhime grew more pleasing when they were broken into couplets, and that verse consisted not only in the number but the arrangement of syllables.”- Life of Dryden.
It is unpleasant to contradict such grave authors, when they are treating of a subject with which they must have been well acquainted : but unless we will suffer some of our chief poets to lie under the reproach of great ignorance and incapacity ; unless we are ready to acknowledge that the art of modulation which existed in Queen Elizabeth's age was neglected or forgotten ; that for half a century afterward nothing was produced but ragged metre; that our writers did not perceive, till Waller and Denham showed them, that the arrangement of syllables, as well as the number, was necessary to make a verse ; that till they were taught by Dryden, they knew not how to compose ; that neither energy nor majesty, nor sonorous lines, nor variation of numbers, is to be found in their works ; unless we will acquiesce in the justice of these injurious censures, we cannot permit them to pass without contradiction. In fact, they are altogether unfounded. Waller indeed was smooth ; yet not (as Pope would insinuate) the first by many who wrote smoothly in English verse; and some of them equally so with Waller himself, for example William Browne: but Dryden taught nothing of what is attributed to him. If the poets who wrote before him should be examined, there will be found, in some one or other of them, each particular quality for which he is here praised ; and all of them in Milton. Neither is it true that the art of modulation was ever forgotten by our poets. After the time of Queen Elizabeth it was preserved by many, besides William Browne above mentioned ; namely by the brothers Beaumont, by Giles and Phineas Fletcher, by Sandys, to whom others might be added : and when Dr. Johnson speaks of “ ragged metre," he must have had in his recollection only Donne, and Ben Jonson, and the disciples of their school.
We subjoin the following commendatory verses, not only as an authority for our cha