Puslapio vaizdai

Paradife Loft; but when twenty or thirty verfes are repeated fucceffively, the fuperiority of blank verfe becomes very apparent. I know not any equal number of hexameters which can be placed in competition with the following verfes from


the great Creator from his work
Defifting, tho' unweary'd, up return'd;
Up to the heav'n of heav'ns his high abode,
Thence to behold this new-created world,
Th' addition of his empire, how it fhew'd
In profpect from his throne; how good, how fair,
Anfwering his great idea. Up he rode,
Follow'd with acclamations, and the found
Symphonious, of ten thousand harps that tun'd
Angelic harmonies. The earth, the air,
Refounded; thou remember'ft, for thou heard'it;
The heav'ns and all the conftellations rung;
The planets in their ftations lift'ning ftood,
While the bright pomp afcended jubilant.
Open, ye everlafting gates, they fung;
Open, ye heav'ns, your living doors, let in
The great Creator, from his work return'd
Magnificent; his fix days work, a world.

The monotonous clofe of the hexameter, though it may be disguised in a great measure for a few lines, by the furprifing variety it is capable of in other refpects, cannot fail to ftrike, and in fome degree to disguft, the ear upon frequent repetition; and, in the recital of long paffages, to cause very unfeafonable and unpleasant interruptions to what Pope ftiles" the long refounding


"march and energy divine." To compare blank verfe with our own, or with the French heroic couplet, in this refpect were fuperfluous. But, 2dly, blank verfe, i. e. the blank verfe of Milton and Shakespeare, is no lefs remarkable for its melody than its majesty! This property of blank verse arises from the unbounded liberty the poet enjoys of varying his pauses, and extending his periods, fo as to produce the utmost fulness and harmony of cadence: and in this respect it has a manifeft advantage over the heroic couplet as well as the hexameter. It would be difficult to find any equal number of hexameters or couplets, fo melodious or grateful to the ear, as the paffage juft quoted from Milton. It indeed poffeffes the three great characteristics of that species of verse, majesty, melody, and variety, in a high degree of perfection. Upon the last of those characteristics, it is very unnecessary to expatiate. As oppofed to the hexameter measure and the heroic couplet, its variety evidently arifes from its happy exemption from the neceffity of an uniform clofe: and, as to myself, I must acknowledge, that however fuperior the hexameter may be to the heroic couplet in other refpects, the perpetual recurrence of the dactyl and fpondee is more fatiguing to my ear than what Dryden calls the tinkle in the clofe of the couplet. The couplet, however, though confeffedly inferior to hexameter, as well as blank verfe, is far from being deftitute of force or beauty: it is capable of fome degree of variety in its ac


cents, and very great diverfity in its paufes it is
lively, vigorous, and animated, and particularly
adapted to gay and airy fubjects, of which "the
Rape of the Lock" is a decifive proof. It feems
not to admit of any confiderable inverfion of lan-
guage; but Dryden, in numerous inftances, has
very happily indulged himself in the liberty of
running one couplet into another, by which means
he has added wonderfully to the fpirit, freedom,
and energy
of his verfe. Lord Kaims indeed af
ferts, that every couplet ought to finish with fome
close in the sense, for which he fails not as usual
to affign a reason. "Every couplet," fays his
Lordship, "muft of course conclude with a mufical
"pause; and if it is accompanied by a pause in the
"fenfe, the coincidence gratifies at the fame time
"the ear and understanding." This reafoning is
just if applied to a single couplet; but furely it
is not neceffary to have our ears purged by an
Archangel with euphrafy and rue, to be fenfible
how much the petty pleasure arifing from fuch
coincidence is overbalanced by the additional
delight we derive from that variety and ani-
mation which are the refult of occafional de-
viations from this rule. As a complete con-
futation of all fuch criticisms, I would con
fidently oppofe the initial paragraph of Dryden's
well-known poem of the Hind and Panther.

A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchang'd,
Fed on the lawns, or on the foreft rang'd;
Without unfpotted, innocent within,
She fear'd no danger, for fhe knew no fin;

Yet had fhe oft been chas'd with horns and hourids, And Scythian fhafts; and many winged wounds Aim'd at her heart; was often forc'd to fly, And doom'd to death, tho' fated not to die. But Lord Kaims is fo faftidious a critic, that he will not allow the flightest musical pause to intervene between an adjective and fubftantive, a fubftantive and verb, or a verb and adverb. Who would have imagined that the following lines of Pope were faulty:

In thefe deep folitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-penfive contemplation dwells,
And ever-mufing melancholy reigns-

They always, however, appeared to Lord Kaims exceptionable, on account of the pause interjected between the verb and confequent fubftantive; and his Lordship, after a great deal of deep thinking, was at laft fortunate enough, as he informs us, to discover a reafon in fupport of his taste. The cafe is ftated by his Lordship with all the accuracy and formality of the profeffion to which he belonged. "Between the active fubftantive and "the verb, placed in their natural order, there

is no difficulty of interjecting a paufe, because "an active being is not always in motion, and "therefore it is eafily feparable in idea from its "action: but when by inverfion the verb is placed firft, is it lateful to feparate it by a "paufe from the active fubftantive?" To this curious queftion his Lordfhip anfwers pofitively, "No, becaufe an action is not in idea feparable



"from the agent, more than a quality from the fubject to which it appertains." If Lord Kaims had not fo exprefsly affirmed the contrary, I own I should have fufpected that his Lordship's feelings on this as on other occafions had complaifantly accommodated themselves to the rule difcovered, or rather had yielded implicit obedience to the law promulgated by his Lordship.

I am of opinion that Pope has weakened the general effect of his poetry very confiderably, by adhering too clofely to the rule fpecified by Lord Kaims, respecting the propriety of concluding every couplet by a paufe in the fenfe as well as in the mufic. It has given his Verfification an air of tameness and uniformity, and in this as well as other characteristics of poetic genius, I cannot but regard him as very inferior to Dryden, though he perhaps more than compenfates for this inferiority by the " lima labor," which appears fo confpicuous throughout all his works. Dryden was a writer to the last degree negligent and incorrect; he was also often unhappy in the choice of his subjects, and his fentiments upon the subjects which he has chofen are frequently very exceptionable, and fometimes very abfurd. Pope was, as an elegant critic juftly ftiles him, the Poet of Reafon; and, in perufing his productions, the understanding is improved, while the imagination is delighted. But ftill it must be allowed, that the facred mantle which defcended from Shakespeare to Milton, and which Dryden sometimes wore with dignity, hung Q3 loofe

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