Sivut kuvina

same usage, which is not uncommon in Milton, and which (if I may judge from the absence of equally strong Elizabethan examples in Dr. Abbott's Shakespearian Grammar) was more Miltonic than Elizabethan. It is the actual junction of the possessives, no less than of the nominatives or the objectives, in agreement with adjectives and participles: .g.:

"Wondering at my flight and change To this high exaltation, suddenly

My guide was gone."-P. L., v. 89-91.

Here it is not the "guide" that wonders, but Eve, the speaker; or, in other words, "wondering" agrees with my," just as if it had been "of me wondering." So in the following instances, and more strikingly :—


"these tidings from the Earth, Which your sincerest care could not prevent, Foretold so lately what would come to pass."

P. L., x. 36-38.

"Therefore so abject is their punishment,
Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own."—
P. L., XI. 520, 52I.

In Latin these would be quite normal; but, if met with in an exercise in English composition in the present day, they would be set down as examples of slip-shod of the "misrelated participle" variety. -By-the-bye, the nearest approach to an actual case of misrelated or unrelated participle that I have observed in Milton is the following in a speech of Dalila ::

"First granting, as I do, it was a weakness
In me, but incident to all our sex,
Curiosity, inquisitive, importune
Of secrets, then with like infirmity

To publish thein-both common female faults-
Was it not weakness also to make known

For importunity, that is for naught,

Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety?"

S. A. 773-780.

Granting, however, is one of a small group of participial forms (seeing, touching, concerning, respecting, judging, considering) to which custom concedes this slovenliness; and it says much for Milton's care that instances like the above

are rare in his verse. It may be taken as an elliptical caseabsolute.

PREPOSITIONS.—That multiplicity of meanings for the common prepositions of, to, etc., on which Dr. Abbott has commented as one of the characteristics of Elizabethan English persists in Milton, though not to the same extent, nor perhaps to an extent beyond the practice of poets of our own time. I will note but a few instances. "And of pure now purer air meets his approach" (Par. Lost, IV. 153, 154) seems to present of in a sense like from; "may of purest Spirits be found no ingrateful food" (Par. Lost, v. 406, 407) is one of the passages in which of serves for our present by; and "Greet her of a lovely son" (March. Winch. 23) gives of in the sense of on account of. In "to the twelve that shone in Aaron's breastplate" (Par. Lost, III. 597, 598) to is equivalent to through all the rest of, or to the complete number of; in "So much hath Hell debased, and pain enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven" (Par. Lost, IX. 487, 488), it has the sense of in comparison with (see also S. A. 950); and in "God will restore him eyesight to his strength" (S. A. 1503) it has the sense of in addition to. "Which, but herself, not all the Stygian powers" (Par. Lost, II. 875) is an example of but used prepositionally for except. An anomalous use of twixt, applying it to more than two objects, is found in "Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires" (Par. Lost, I. 346).

ADVERBS AND CONJUNCTIONS.-The most frequent difference from our present English here is the use of the conjunction that for so that. It was a transmitted Elizabethanism, well conserved by Milton: e.g.

"And lack of load made his life burdensome,

That, even to his last breath (there be that say't),

As he were pressed to death, he cried 'More weight.""-

Hobson, No. 2.

'Untwisting all the chains that tie

The hidden soul of harmony,

That Orpheus' self may heave his head."--L'All 143-145.

[ocr errors]

"Like Maia's son he stood

And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance filled
The circuit wide."-P. L., v. 285-287.

There are other now unusual senses of the conjunction that : e.g. Par. Lost, III. 278, where it seems to mean inasmuch as. In the lines On Shakespeare we have virtually whilst that for whilst; and elsewhere I think we have that redundant. It serves such as


As appears in several senses not now common. for that or as that: e.g. a stripling cherub in his face youth smiled celestial" (Par. Lost, III. 637, 638: compare Par. Reg., 11. 97, 98); also for as if: e.g. "into strange vagaries fell, as they would dance" (Par. Lost, VI. 614, 615); also for in proportion as: e.g. "For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss" (Par. Lost, IX. 879); also for such as (Il Pens. 163-165) and such that it or so that it (Od. Nat. 96-98).

Of but for than "No sooner blown but blasted” (D. F. I. 1) is an early example; and the idiom recurs (Par. Lost, III. 344, 347, XI. 822, 824, etc.) In Par. Lost, v. 674, and perhaps elsewhere, and has a sense of if or though.Milton uses the word both where the reference is to more objects than two: e.g. "The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven" (Par. Lost, IV. 722); and he takes the same liberty with neither: e.g. "Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire" (Par. Lost, II. 912).- -The variety of his uses of or, nor, neither, etc., may be inferred from these examples, in some of which, however, change of construction by change of thought bears a part :

"Or [either] envy, or what reserve, forbids to taste?"—
P. L., v. 61.

"Much less can bird with beast or fish with fowl
So well converse, nor with the ox the ape."—
P. L., VIII. 395, 396.

"Or [either] east or west." -P. L., x. 685.
"Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,
And he the future evil shall," etc.--P. L., XI. 773, 774.

"neither thus heartened or dismayed."-P. R., 1. 268.

"I bid not, or forbid."-P. R., I. 495.

TRANSPOSITIONS AND INVERSIONS,-Occasionally some very striking inversion or transposition of the usual order of words in a sentence is met with in Milton: e.g.—

"Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage."-P. L., II. 917-919.

"Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy

The Atheist crew."-P. L., VI. 369, 370.

"That whom they hit none on their feet might stand."-
P. L., VI. 592.

"For in their looks Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears." P. L., IX. 558, 559.

"Reject not, then, what offered means who knows
But God hath set before us to return thee
Home to thy country."-S. A. 516-518.

Such transpositions are sometimes instances merely of Milton's freedom in English, which led him, like other writers, into the word-figures called by the rhetoricians Hyperbaton, Anastrophe, Dialysis, etc.; but very often they are patent Latinisms. Without dwelling longer, however, on the effects of Milton's Latinism per se on the order of his syntax, let us briefly inquire how far another cause may have co-operated in forming that structure of sentence and style which we can recognise as Miltonic.

Few services of criticism to Literature have been greater than Wordsworth's famous onslaught on what he called Poetic Diction. Under this name, he denounced the notion, -made prevalent, as he maintained, by the practice of the English eighteenth-century poets, from Dryden onwards, with few exceptions,—that poetry consists in, or requires, an artificial mode of language, differing from the language of ordinary life, or of prose. The censure branched into several applications; but one of them concerned mere syntax. It was a mistake, Wordsworth contended, to suppose that Verse requires deviations from the natural prose order of words, or that such are legitimate in Verse. Unfortunately, the very name Verse had suggested the contrary; and, the difficulties of versifiers in adjusting their sense to the mechanical restraints of metre and rhyme having led to all kinds of syntactical tricks, such as the placing of an adjective after its noun, the tugging of a verb to the end of the line for the rhyme's sake, etc., these had been accepted, and Verse had come, in general, to be a kind of distorted

Prose. Here, as in other things, Wordsworth held, a reform was needed. It was necessary to teach people afresh that proper verse-syntax is not distorted prose-syntax, or syntax relieved from any of the conditions imposed upon good prose, but only syntax with all the conditions of good prose retained and certain other and more exquisite and difficult conditions superadded.So far Wordsworth; and certainly his precept and example, in this respect, were most wholesome. Some English poets, indeed, coevals of Wordsworth, and his partners in the general crusade against "Poetic Diction," could not emancipate themselves, as he did, from the custom of a syntax mechanically inverted to suit the mere exigencies of metre and rhyme. On the whole, however, nothing has been more remarkable in the best English poetry of the present century than the return to a natural syntax, or even to the ordinary prose order of the words. Tennyson is here conspicuous. No writer is more essentially and continually the poet than he; hardly a line of his but contains that very something that distinguishes the poet from the prosaist; and yet it is not in the syntax that this differentia appears, and often, for many lines together, the words fall exactly and punctiliously into their ordinary prose places. -Not the less does it appear, both from a theoretical consideration of the subject, and from a study of the actual syntax of our truest poets, Tennyson and Wordsworth himself included, that the precept, as it was first put forth by Wordsworth, was too absolute. Besides those illegitimate inversions of prose-syntax which arise from a lazy or slovenly forcing of the metre and rhyme, there certainly are other inversions natural to verse as such, and not illegitimate. These seem to be of two sorts :-(1) There are inversions natural to the peculiar elevation of mood or feeling which prompts to verse and which verse presupposes. After all, syntax has its root. in thought, and every state of mind has its own syntax. This is seen within prose itself. "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" is a different construction from "Diana of the Ephesians is great," simply because the thought is not the same. And so, in prose itself, there are all varieties of syntax, from the regularly-repeated concatenation of subject, copula, and predicate, natural to the coolest statement of facts and propositions, on to the irregular rhythm of complex meditation and emotion, verging on verse, and in fact

« EdellinenJatka »