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“ rhythmical, not metrical.” This they's. For we have seen that Souhardly self-explicating distinction of they's ground of distinction is the Dr Geo. Fred. Nott's, Southey in his number of syllables unrestrained or Life of Cowper has explained in set varying, as in Christabel. But Nott terms--a verse for which the number says repeatedly, that the number of of beats or accents is ruled is rhyth- syllables is fixed, namely, to ten; and mical--for example, the verse of Cole- of the five beats he says not a word. ridge's Christabel. In that beautiful To extricate Nott's argument (in poem, the verse is fixed at four beats his edition of Surrey) from entangleor accents, but is free syllabled, ment would not repay a tithe of having six, seven, ten, twelve, or the trouble ; suffice it to say that fourteen. Southey cannot believe he holds that as English verse, bethat the prudent and practical Chau- fore Chaucer, was rhythmical, it is cer would have placed his verse, in- not likely that Chaucer all at once tended for general reception, in the made it metrical. We answer firstjeopardy of a reader's discretion for the question is of a fact offering its determining when the verse required own evidence, not of an anterior likethe sounding, and when the silence, lihood. Secondly-Tyrwhitt's theory of a vowel, by its nature free to be that Chaucer, from his intimacy with sounded or left silent, as exigency the more advanced French and Italian might require. But he misapprehends poetry, adopted their measure, and the proposed remedy; and the discre- stamped art upon a poetry till then tion which he supposes is not given. rude and helpless, has high natural In the two languages from which ours probability, and agrees to the veheis immediately derived, the Anglo- ment early extollings of Chaucer as a Saxon and the Norman-French, there sovereign master of art. Thirdly-we are found many final syllables, entirely desire a better proof and explanation dropped in our pronunciation, and of the difference between rhythmical many of them in our writing, but and metrical verse than Dr Nott has which in the time of Chaucer were all given, who has placed some extracts still written, and all with the same from these anterior poets at the side vowel E. The metrical hypothesis, of some from Chaucer, which prove to which Tyrwhitt's labours gave a just nothing. Fourthly, there was lustre, much heightened by the Anglo- metrical verse in England before Saxon studies abroad and at home of Chaucer, eight-syllabled and fifteenthe present century, bears—first, that syllabled—if no others. Mr Hallam in the language of Chaucer's day (Introduction to the Literature of these syllables were still audible; and Europe) writes with more commendasecondly, that Chaucer consequently tion of Dr Nott's accomplishments employed them in his verse, like any than they merit; but in the following other syllables, with the due metrical excellent passage he shows his usual value :-herein not, as the Laureate knowledge of his subject, and his usual thought, overruling, but conforming judgment. himself to the use of his mother tongue. To this more than plausible
“ It had been supposed to be proved view, which, if the late studies that have by Tyrwhitt, that Chaucer's lines are been taken in the intelligence of Al
to be read metrically, in ten or eleven fred's speech had been made in Tyr- syllables, like the Italian, and, as I apwhitt's day, would not have waited prehend, the French of his time. For till now for its full establishment, no
this purpose, it is necessary to presume
that many terminations, now mute, were objection has yet been raised that
syllabically pronounced; and where seems to deserve the slightest attention. The Laureate's vanish upon deavours, Tyrwhitt has no scruple in
verses prove refractory after all our enthe mere statement. For Dr Nott, declaring them corrupt. It may be on whom he triumphantly builds, and added, that Gray, before the appearwhose proofs he seems to adopt—he is ance of Tyrwhitt's essay on the versifithe weakest and most wrongheaded cation of Chaucer, had adopted without of all possible prosers; and, what is hesitation the same hypothesis. But, more, his opinions, if they deserve according to Dr. Nott, the verses of the name, differ toto coelo from Sou- Chaucer, and of all his successors down
to Surrey, are merely rhythmical, to be aberrant lines are much more common read by cadence, and admitting of con in the dramatic blank verse of the sesiderable variety in the number of venteenth century. They are, doubtless, syllables, though ten may be the more vestiges of the old rhythmical forms; frequent. In the manuscripts of Chaucer, and we may readily allow that English the line is always broken by a cæsura versification had not, in the fifteenth or in the middle, which is pointed out by a even sixteenth centuries, the numerical virgule; and this is preserved in the regularity of classical or Italian metre. early editions down to that of 1532. In the ancient ballads, Scots and English, They come near, therefore, to the short the substitution of the anapaest for the Saxon line, differing chiefly by the iambic foot, is of perpetual recurrence, alternate rhyme, which converts two and gives them a remarkable elasticity verses into one. He maintains that a and animation ; but we never fail to great many lines of Chaucer cannot be recognize a uniformity of measure, read metrically, though harmonious as which the use of nearly equipollent verses of cadence.
This rhythmical feet cannot, on the strictest metrical measure he proceeds to show in Hoc principles, be thought to impair.” cleve, Lydgate, Hawes, Barclay, Skel
Mr Guest, in his work, of which ton, and even Wyatt; and thus concludes, that it was first abandoned by Surrey,
we hope erelong to give an account,
brings to the story of English verse in whom it very rarely occurs.
far more extensive research than hypothesis, it should be observed, de
had hitherto been bestowed upon rives some additional plausibility from a passage in Gascoyne's Notes of it;. and that special scholarship instruction concerning the making of
which was needed- the Anglo-Saxon verse or rhyme in English,' printed in
language, learned in the new continen1575. .' Whosoever do peruse and well
tal school of Rask and Grimm. His consider his (Chaucer's) works, he
examination of our subject merges in shall find that, although his lines are
a general history of the Language, not always of one selfsame number of viewed as a metrical element or masyllables, yet being read by one that terial; and hence his exposition, which hath understanding, the longest verse,
we rapidly collect seriatim, is plainly and that which hath most syllables in different in respect of both order and 'it, will fall (to the ear) correspondent fulness from what it would have been, unto that which bath fewest syllables ; had the illustration of Chaucer been his and likewise that which hath fewest main purpose. He follows down the syllables shall be found yet to consist of gradual Extinction of Syllables; and words that have such natural sound, as in this respect, our anciently syllamay seem equal in length to a verse bled, now mute E, takes high place. which hath many more syllables of and falls first under his consideration, lighter accents.
This now silent or vanished Vowel “A theory so ingeniously maintained,
occurred heretofore, with metrical and with so much induction of exam
power, in adopted FRENCH Substanples, has naturally gained a good deal tives, as-eloquenc-E, maladi-E; and of credit. I cannot, however, by any
in their plurals, as—maladi-Es. And means concur in the extension given
in Adjectives of the same origin, asit. Pages may be read in Chaucer, and
It remained from several parts of
-From labic; and though the cæsura may perhaps fall rather more uniformly than it A, E, U, endings of Anglo-Saxon subdoes in modern verse, it would be very
stantives—as nam-A, nam-E; tim-A, easy to find exceptions, which could
tim-E; mon-A, (the moon,) mon-E; not acquire a rhythmical cadence by any
sunn-E, (the sun,) sonn-E; heort-E, artifice of the reader. The deviations (the heart,) hert-E; ear-E, (the ear,) from the normal type, or decasyllable er-E; scol-u, (school,) scol-E ; luf-u, line, were they more numerous than, lov-E; sceam-u, sham-E;lag-a, law-E; after allowance for the license of pro sun-U, (a son,) son-E; wud-u, (a nunciation, as well as the probable cor wood,) wod-E.- (To Mr Guest's three ruption of the text, they appear to be, vowels, add 0:—as bræd-o (breadth) would not, I conceive, justify us in con bred-E.) — From the termination cluding that it was disregarded. These THE; as-streng-THE; yow-THE.
-From a few adjectives ending in E; Guest's particular regard ; but it is as-getrew-E, trew-E; new-E, new-E. easily understood that the Anglo--From adverbs, formed by the same Saxon hlaford, (lord,) gen. sing. vowel from adjectives; as from beorht, hlaford-es, had, in Chaucer's day, (bright,) is made, in Anglo-Saxon, become lord, lord-ES;—and that scur, beorht-E, (brightly,) remaining with (shower,) plural scur-As, of our disChaucer, as bright-E.-Inflexion pro tant progenitors had bequeathed to duces the final E. In substantives, his verse-sliour, shour-ES. the prevalent singular dative of the Legitimate scepticism surely ceases mother speech was in E. Chaucer, when it thus appears that ignorance now and then, seems to present us alone has hastily understood that this with a dative; as in the second verse vowel, extant in this or that word, of the Prologue to the Canterbury with a quite alien meaning and use, Tales, from rot, (root,) rot-E. And (e. g. for lengthening a foregoing Mr Guest thinks that he has found vowel-softening an antecedent conONE instance of a genitive plural E sonant,)—or with none, and through from A; namely, from the carlier ath, the pure casualty of negligence or (an oath,) genitive plural, ath-A ; withi of error, might at any time be pressed Chaucer-oth, oth-E.
irregularly into metrical service. The German family of lavguages Assuredly Chaucer never used such exhibits a fine and bold peculiarity- blind and wild license of straightening a double declension of its Adjectives, his mcasure; but an instructed eye depending on a condition of syntax. sees in the Canterbury Tales—and The Anglo-Saxon adjective, in its or in all his poetry of which the text is dinary (or, as grammarians have called incorrupt- the uniform application of it, Indefinite) declension, makes the an intricate and thoroughly critical nominative plural for all the genders rule, which fills up by scores, by hunin E; and this remains as the regular dreds, or by thousands, the timeplural termination of the adjective to wronged verses of "the Great FounChaucer. Thus we have, in the more an der” to true measure and true music, cient language-eald; plural, eald-E; To sum up in a few words our own with Chaucer-old; plural, old-k, &c. views—First, if you take no account
The rule of the extraordinary (or De- of the mute E, the great majority of finite)declension is thus generallygiven Chaucer's verses in the only justifiable by Mr Guest for Chaucer. “When the text-Tyrwhitt's Canterbury Tales adjective follows the definite article, or are in what we commonly call the TENthe definite pronoun, this, that, or any syllabled lambic metre. one of the possessive pronouns-his, Secondly, if you take account of the her, &c.-it takes what is called its de- metrical E, the great majority of them finite form.”—(Vol. i. p. 32.) From appear, if you choose so to call them, the Anglo-Saxon definite declension as ELEVEN-syllabled Iambic verses, (running through three genders, five or as the common heroic measure with cases, and two numbers,) remains, to a supernumerary terminal syllable. the language that arose after the Thirdly, if you take no account of Conquest, ONE final E. E. g. Inde- the disputed E, a very large number finite-strong; definite, strong-E;— of the verses, but less apparently than indefinite-high ; definite-high-E. the majority, appear as wanting in
The Verb ends the first person sin- ternally one or two syllables. gular, and the three persons plural, Fourthly, if you take account of the of the present tense, and makes im- said troublesome E, almost universally perative and infinitive, in E. The these deficient measures become filled past tense generally ends in DE or up to the due complement- become EDE; (Mr Guest has forgotten TE;) decasyllabic or hendecasyllabic, as sometimes in ED.
the case may be. As for those two principal endings,
you consent to take acthe genitive singular in ES, which is count of this grammatical metrical E, the Anglo-Saxon termination retain no inconsiderable number of the verses ed, and the plural in ES, which is --ten-syllabled or elevcn-syllabled, the Anglo-Saxon ending obscured by technical computation-acquire one they happen hardly to fall under Mr or two supernumerary syllables dis
tributed, if one may so speak, within relief from objections greater than the verse--and to be viewed as en those who should enquire concerning riching the harmony without distort, perhaps any other poet. In the foring or extending the measure, after mation of his verse, and the lifting up the manner of the Paradise Lost. of a rude language, more than Dante
Finally, (for the present,) whether himself, a creator ! What wonder, the verses in general fall under our then, if he should sometimes make usual English scheme of the one-syl- mistakes, and that some inconsistenlabled ending, or end, as the Italian cies remain at last irreducible? If for the most part do, dissyllabically, the method undertaken draws the has been disputed by those who agree irreducible cases into a narrower and in the recognition of the metrical E. a narrower compass, that sufficiently To wit-shall the final E of Mr justifies the theory of the method Guest's rule, ending the verse, and against all gainsayers. where it would, consequently, make This copious, and, possibly, tedious a hypercatalectic cleventh syllable, grammatical display of this once acstill be pronounced as Tyrwhitt, tive metrical elemente was forced from although not anxiously, contends ? us as the only proper answer to the If the grammatical rule is imperative doubt revived in our own day on the within the verse, as much, one would versification of Chaucer. We are too think, it be so at its termination. prone to believe that our forefathers That Chaucer admits the doubled were as rude as their speech, and their ending we see by numerous unequi- speech as they ; but this multitude of vocal instances from all moods of the grammatical delicacies, retained for verse, mirthful and solemn; these centuries after the subjection of the show a versification friendly to the native language by conquest, and sysdoubled ending; and must go far to tematically applied in the versification remove any scruple of admitting Tyr- of the great old poet, shows a feeling whitt's conception of it as generally of language, and an authentic stamp hendecasyllabic.
of art, that claim the most genial and Let the position of Chaucer in the sympathizing respect of a refined history of his art be considered, and posterity, to their not wholly unreit will be seen that those who main- fined, more heroic ancestors. tain a systematic art in him have a
INDEX TO VOL. LVII.
About a bonnet, 242.
I. concluded, The Palimpsest, 739—
Levana and our Ladies of Sorrow, 743
-Finale to Part I., Savannah-la-Mar,
-No. II. about a bonnet, 242—No. Critics, the British—see British.
Dance of death, from Goethe, 167.
Death trance, from Goethe, 177.
Delta, stanzas written after the funeral
Drama and the novel, the, 679.
Dress, æsthetics of, a case of hats, 51-
The cut of a coat and the good of a
Dryden as a critic, 133, 369, 503—as a
translator,511-on Chaucer, 617,771,
Egypt, sketches of, 286.
Englishwoman in Egypt, the, 286.
Etruria Celtica, review of, 474.
No. I. Dryden, 133_No. II. Dryden of, 529.
No. V. the same, concluded, 771. Fairest flower, the, from Goethe, 168.
Forced sale, the, 99—Chap. II., 103,
Chap. III., 107—Chap. IV., 111.
France, state of manners, &c., in, before
George III., review of Walpole's me-
moirs of, 353.
German-American romances -
Mexico in 1812-Part I., Introduc-
tion, 251-Chap. I., 257_Chap. XI,
262—Part II., 331 - Chap. XVIII.,
345~Chap., XXIII., 349—Part III.,
a sequel to. Introductory notice, 269 Glance at the Peninsula, 595.