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Milton however, and poets of a higher order, whose verses are of varied melody, the case is different, and here we doubt if any but the born reader will ever attain to complete success. Still improvement may be made, and the reading become tolerable.
The following observations may not prove useless :—
It is impossible in any language whatsoever to pronounce two consecutive syllables without placing an accent, that is elevating the tone, on one of them, forming thus an iamb or a trochee. We shall therefore find that consecutive dactyls'or anapaests, considered with regard to accent, really form a series of these feet, en. yr.
A‘t the close of the day whén the hamlet is still.
Words of more than two syllables have always more than one accent, of which the one is strong, the other (or others) weak, as in réyulhr, tra'nsit5ry. These sometimes form the foot named choriamb, as in téryiversdtion. A final syllable, as in this word, may either stand alone, or go to the formation of a new foot, with the initial syllable of the following word.
A good reader will never attempt to pronounce more than two of these feet, or two with a syllable, at a breath. Hence perhaps it was that the ancient Greeks termed their iambic and trochaic verses dimeters, trimeters, tetrameters, the line naturally dividing itself into two, three, or four portions.ale I Trimeters, for example, ran thus,—
between animated reading and chant. This is very much the Harrow style of reading. Hodgson has it; Lord Holland too (though not, I believe, a Harrow man), gives in to it considerably. Harness himself, I perceived, had it strongly, and by his own avowal he is without a musical ear, as is Lord Holland to a remarkable degree. Lord Byron, though he loved simple music, had no great organization that way.”——T. Moore, Diary, May 4, 1828.
* In dactylic and anapaestic verse the single foot was regarded as a metre.
In like manner our five-foot heroic and dramatic verse divides itself into three, or sometimes four, portions. Paradise Lost commences thus :—
Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of that I forbidden tree, II whose mortal taste
The pause indicated by the double line is called the czesura, and is frequently as long as that at the end of the verse ; that by the single line, which is usually much shorter, may be named the semiceeeura. The length of the pause at any of these places can only be determined
by the taste and judgement of the reader.
In arms I not worse, II in foresight I much advanced.
are examples of the occurrence of more than one semicaesura in a line.
The usual place of the caesura in the four-foot verse is the middle of the line. There is sometimes a semicwsura, or even two ; but this last is rare.
The six-foot verse with which Spenser concludes his stanzas, and which Milton also employs, is, like the French Alexandrine, a compound of two three-foot lines, and should therefore, like that verse, have the caesura exactly in the middle, as in
To wanton I with the sun, II her lusty I paramour.
This last line, it will be seen, is not quite accurate. But neither Spenser nor Milton adhered strictly to this rule, as the following examples will show.
She strikes I a universal I peace II through sea and land, While birds of calm I sit brooding II on I the charmed wave.
In all cases the voice should be somewhat elevated at the end of the third foot.
We will take this opportunity of reconsidering a line quoted some pages back_ from Macbeth. Our present opinion is that the whole passage should stand thus :—
If I say sooth, I must report they were
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.
The poet must have said what it is these cannons do; and there may be more than one line lost. As this scene was probably on the first page of the manuscript, it was peculiarly exposed to injury from friction, dirt, and such like; and it appears to us that elsewhere in it, lines or parts of lines have been efi'aced. In the same way He
has been manifestly efi'aced in the first line of As you Like it.
OF REFORMATION IN ENGLAND, AND THE CAUSES THAT HITHERTO HAVE HINDERED IT.
THIS, the earliest of Milton’s prose works, is addressed to a friend, and divided into two books. He commences by expressing his grief at the great and astonishing corruption of the pure doctrine taught by our Lord and his disciples, and then draws a picture of the sensuous material system which had usurped its place. He dwells on the pomp of vestments, “fetched from Aaron’s old wardrobe or the Flamen’s Vestry,” on baptism’s being made a kind of exorcism, and on “that feast of free grace and adoption, to which Christ invited his disciples to sit as brethren and coheirs of the happy covenant,” becoming “the subject of horror and gloating adoration, pageanted about like a dreadful idol.” He then passes to the consideration of what he terms “ the bright and blissful Reformation ;” at the thoughts of which, he exclaims,—
Methinks a sovereign and reviving joy must needs rush into the mind of him that reads or hears, and the sweet odour of the returning Gospel imbathe his soul with the fragrancy of heaven. Then was the sacred Bible sought out of the dusty corners where prophane falsehood and neglect had thrown it, the schools opened, divine and human learning raked out of the embers of forgotten tongues, the princes and cities trooping to the new-erected banner of salvation, the martyrs with the unresistible might of weakness shaking the powers of darkness and scorning the fiery rage of the old red dragon.
He next proceeds to consider how it was that England, which, he says, had in Wicklilfe been the first to “ set up a standard for the recovery of lost truth, and blow the first evangelic trumpet to the nations,” should have fallen from her eminence; and, while in purity of doctrine we agree with our brethren, yet in discipline “ we are no better than a schism from the Reformation.” This he ascribes to the holding of the principle, that ordination belongs only to bishops, and to the retention of “senseless ceremonies.”
In order to prove this, he 'gives a brief sketch of the progress of the Reformation in England, commencing with Henry VIII., whose only quarrel with the Papacy, he says, was about supremacy; while the bishops, “though they had renounced the Pope, still hugged the popedom, and shared the authority among themselves.” In the timeof Edward VI. the Reformation was impeded by rebellions, and by quarrels among the peers; while the bishops “ suffered themselves to be the common stales to countenance with their prostituted gravities every politic fetch that was then on foot.” He gives as instances, Cranmer and Ridley being employed to extort from the young King a toleration for the use of the Mass by his sister Mary; Latimer’s assertion of the truth of the charges against Lord Seymour of Sudley, and Cranmer and the other bishops joining in the attempt to deprive the two princesses of their right to the crown.* To
" On these matters see our History of England, where we shall be found to differ somewhat from Milton’s views.