Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Concerning the strict propriety of all these rules, as being exactly suitable to the genius of our language, I am not at all concerned : 'tis suffici ent. for my purpose if they are Shakespeare's rules. But one thing more still remains of no little consequence to our poet's honour, and that is the settling and adjusting his metre and rhythm. For the not duly attending to this, has occafion'd strange alterations in his plays : now prose hobbles into verse, now again verse is degraded into prose; here verses are broken, where they should be continued ; and there joined, where they should be broken. And the chief reason of these alterations of his verses seems to proceed from the same cause, as the changing his words and expressions; that is, the little regard we pay to our poet's art.

[ocr errors]

Dryden says that Milton acknowledged to him, that Spencer was his original: but his original in what, Mr. Dryden does not tell us: certainly he was not his original in throwing aside that Gothic bondage of jingle at the end of every line ; 'twas the example of our · Best ENGLISH TRAGEDIES here he followed ; 3 HIS HONOURED

i Dryden's preface to his Fables.
2 Milton's preface to his Paradise loft.
3 Milton's poem on Shakespeare, ann. 1630.

SHAKESPEARE.

SHAKESPEARE. And from him, as well as from Homer and Virgil, he saw what beauty would result from variety.

Our smoothest verses run in the iambic foot: pes citus, as Horace terms it ; because we haften from the first to the second syllable, that chiefly striking the ear. And our epic verse consists of five feet or measures, according to common scansion.

[ocr errors]

it fájděd on thě crowing of the cock

4 5 Verses all of this measure would soon tire the ear, for want of variety: he therefore mixes the * trochaic foot. Nature seems deadlånd wicked dreams būse

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

4 This Measure Milton uses in the second foot, B. X,

936.

66 The sentence from thy head remov'd may light
66 On me fole cause to thee of all this woe,
mē, mēsónly ljúft object of his īre.

3 4 15 The repetition me, me, as in Virgil [IX, 427.] Me, Me adfum, &c. is highly pathetic, and the trochaic following the fpondee makes the pathos more perceptible.--'Tis surprising how Dr. Bentley should think of any alteration.

[ocr errors]

-And

131

And how beautifully are trochees intermixed in the following, where lady Macbeth speaks in a hurry and agitation of mind ? Whích gives the ftērnest good night-Hé's a báut it

3

5 The tribrac is likewise used by our poets, as equivalent in time and measure to the iambic. So Milton I, 91.

Now misery hath join'd în ējquăl růín ínto whắt pīt thou feēsts 3 4

5 Again I, 499.

where the noise of riotläscēndslăbove their löf tičst tow'rs

evest

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2

4

[ocr errors]

2

I

2

4

5

And II, 302.

[ocr errors]

2

å pillårlof stāte déep on his front]čngrāv'n

3
4

5 And Shakespeare very poetically in K. Lear, AE IV. Edg. Ső mājný fālthỏm down{ précìpi tăting. which has the same effect as that in Virgil.

- Procumbit humi bos. And 66 Ruit oceano nox.”

But

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But the great art in Milton, of placing a spondee in the fifth place, ought not here to be omited; this occasions pause and delay, and calls for the reader's attention : so in the seventh book, where God speaks to Chaos, Silence yě troūbjled wāves and thou Deep, peāce

3

4 No spondee in the fifth place in Greek or Latin verses can equal this beauty ; and no poet did ever equal it, but Shakespeare. In Macbeth. What hāth quěnch'd thēm hăth gīv’nměfīrel.-Hārk! peāce!

thathique If the spondaic foot, then the anapest, as of equal time, may likewise be admitted.

Othello. And give thy worst. of thoughts the work of words lag. Good my Lord părdón mē.

/
3

4
Spčak tò mē whăt thou art thỹ ē vill spīrit|Brútūs

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2

3

5

[ocr errors]

2

5

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

3

[blocks in formation]

This passage is in Julius Caesar,, where Brutus speaks to the ghost : those anapests speak to , whăt thou ārt, have a beautiful effect, as they shew a certain confusion on a surprize. Spirit is constantly used in Milton as a monosyllable, whether 'tis fo here I leave to the reader.

[ocr errors][merged small]

SHAKESPEARE has several hemiftiques; a poetical licence that Virgil introduced into the Latin poetry : but there have not been wanting hands, to fill these broken verses

up

for both the poets. It may not be displeasing to the reader to point out such kind of workmanship in Virgil.

Æneas is thus address’d by one of Ulyffes' ship's crew, who had been unfortunately left behind in Sicily “ Sum patria ex Ithaca, comes infelicis Ulyssei, “ Nomen Achaemenides." III, 613. Achæmenides could very properly call himself, comes infelicis Ulyssei ; speaking with some pity on the long wanderings and misfortunes of his master. But Æneas with no poetical decorum could thus mention his name ; his epithet would be fcelerum inventor-dirus--and such like. When therefore Æneas soon after is led by the thread of his narration to speak of Achæmenides, I don't doubt but he mentions him without any notice of Ulysses at all : “ Talia monftrabat relegens errata retrorsum “ Litora Achaemenides.” III, 691. But a meddling critic (who thought that Virgil's verses should be all compleated) finding a

Bb

little

« AnteriorContinua »