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an ode extant without rhyme addressed to Evening, by the late Mr Collins, much more beautiful; and Mr Warton, with some others, has happily succeeded in divers occasional pieces, that are free of this restraint: but the number in all of these depends upon the syllables, and not upon the feet, which are unlimited. *
* That the reader may have an opportunity of judging for himself how far the genius of the English language is favourable to the admission of lyric blank verse where the number depends upon the syllables, and also to that closer imitation of the Greek and Latin measures, afterwards mentioned, where the number depends upon the feet, we subjoin some specimens in both kinds.
Measures where the rhythm depends upon the syllables.
Welcome Content! from roofs of fretted gold,
From courts, and camps, and crowds,
Meek virgin, wilt thou deign with me to sit,
As from the piny mountain's topmost cliff,
The thund'ring torrent burst! &c.
DR WARTON's Ode to Content.
Sweet are the harmonies of Spring,
And pleasant to the sober'd soul
SOUTHEY'S Lines, written on the First of December.
Fearful as when Lodona fled from Pan,
Her snowy bosom gave.
DR WARTON'S Ode on Shooting.
It is generally supposed that the genius of the English language will not admit of Greek or Latin measure; but this, we apprehend, is a mistake, owing to the prejudice of education. It is impossible that the same measure, composed of the same times, should have a good effect upon the ear in one language, and a bad effect in another. The truth is, we have been accustomed from our infancy to the
Measures where the rhythm depends upon the feet.
Weary way-wanderer, languid and sick at heart,
Sorely thy little one drags by thee barefooted;
Thy husband will never return from the war again;
Cold was the night-wind, drifting fast the snow fell,
Drear were the downs, more dreary her reflections;
Alfred, than whom no prince with loftier intellect gifted,
Made a throne twice hallow'd, and reign'd in the hearts of his people.
And Burke I beheld there,
Eloquent statesman and sage, who, though late, broke loose from his
Giving then to mankind what party too long had diverted. SOUTHEY'S Hexameters Vision of Judgment.
numbers of English poetry, and the very sound and signification of the words dispose the ear to receive them in a certain manner; so that its disappointment must be attended with a disagreeable sensation. In imbibing the first rudiments of education, we acquire, as it were, another ear for the numbers of Greek and Latin poetry, and this being reserved entirely for the sounds and significations of the words that constitute those dead languages, will not easily accommodate itself to the sounds of our vernacular tongue, though conveyed in the same time and measure. In a word, Latin and Greek have annexed to them the ideas of the ancient measure, from which they are not easily disjoined. But we will venture to say, this difficulty might be surmounted by an effort of attention and a little practice; and in that case we should in time be as well pleased with English as with Latin hexameters.
Sir Philip Sidney is said to have miscarried in his essays; but his miscarriage was no more than that of failing in an attempt to introduce a new fashion. The failure was not owing to any defect or imperfection in the scheme, but to the want of taste, to the irresolution and ignorance of the public. Without all doubt, the ancient measure, so different from that of modern poetry, must have appeared remarkably uncouth to people in general, who were ignorant of the classics; and nothing but the countenance and perseverance of the learned could reconcile them to the alteration. We have seen several late specimens of English hexameters and sapphics, so happily composed, that by attaching them to the idea of ancient measure, we found them in all respects as melodious and agreeable to the ear, as the works of Virgil and Anacreon, or Horace.
Though the number of syllables distinguishes the nature of the English verse from that of the Greek and Latin, it constitutes neither harmony, grace, nor expression. These must depend upon the choice of words, the seat of the accent, the pause, and the cadence. The accent or tone, is understood to be an elevation or sinking of the voice in reciting: the pause is a rest, that divides the verse into two parts, each of them called an hemistich. The pause and accent in English poetry vary occasionally, according to the meaning of the words; so that the hemistich does not always consist of an equal number of syllables: and this variety is agreeable, as it prevents a dull repetition of regular stops,
like those in the French versification, every line of which is divided by a pause exactly in the middle. The cadence comprehends that poetical style which animates every line, that propriety which gives strength and expression, that numerosity which renders the verse smooth, flowing, and harmonious, that significancy which marks the passions, and in many cases makes the sound an echo of the sense. The Greek and Latin languages, in being copious and ductile, are susceptible of a vast variety of cadences, which the living languages will not admit; and of these a reader of any ear will judge for himself.
SCHOOLS OF MUSIC.
A SCHOOL, in the polite arts, properly signifies that succession of artists, which has learned the principles of the art from some eminent master, either by hearing his lessons, or studying his works, and consequently who imitate his manner either through design or from habit. Musicians seem agreed in making only three principal schools in music; namely, the school of Pergolese in Italy, of Lully in France, and of Handel in England; though some are for making Rameau the founder of a new school, different from those of the former, as he is the inventor of beauties peculiarly his own.
Without all doubt, Pergolese's music deserves the first rank; though excelling neither in variety of movements, number of parts, nor unexpected flights, yet he is universally allowed to be the musical Raphael of Italy. This great master's principal art consisted in knowing how to excite our passions by sounds, which seem frequently opposite to the passion they would express: by slow solemn sounds he is sometimes known to throw us into all the rage of battle; and even by faster movements, he excites melancholy in every heart that sounds are capable of affecting. This is a talent which seems born with the artist. We are unable to tell why such sounds affect us: they seem no way imitative of the passion they would express, but operate upon us by an inexpressible sympathy; the original of which is as
inscrutable as the secret springs of life itself. To this excellence he adds another, in which he is superior to every other artist of the profession,-the happy transition from one passion to another. No dramatic poet better knows to prepare his incidents than he the audience are pleased in those intervals of passion with the delicate, the simple harmony, if I may so express it, in which the parts are all thrown into fugues, or often are barely unison. His melodies also, where no passion is expressed, give equal pleasure from this delicate simplicity and I need only instance that song in the Serva Padrona, which begins, "Lo conosco a quegl' occelli," as one of the finest instances of excellence in the duo.
The Italian artists in general have followed his manner, yet seem fond of embellishing the delicate simplicity of the original. Their style in music seems somewhat to resemble that of Seneca in writing, where there there are some beautiful starts of thought; but the whole is filled with studied elegance and unaffecting affectation.
Lully in France first attempted the improvement of their music, which in general resembled that of our old solemn chants in churches. It is worthy of remark, in general, that the music in every country is solemn in proportion as the inhabitants are merry; or, in other words, the merriest sprightliest nations are remarked for having the slowest music; and those whose character it is to be melancholy, are pleased with the most brisk and airy movements. Thus, in France, Poland, Ireland, and Switzerland, the national music is slow, melancholy, and solemn; in Italy, England, Spain, and Germany, it is faster, proportionably as the people are grave. Lully only changed a bad manner, which he found, for a bad one of his own. His drowsy pieces are played still to the most sprightly audience that can be conceived; and even though Rameau, who is at once a musician and a philosopher, has shewn, both by precept and example, what improvements French music may still admit of, yet his countrymen seem little convinced by his reasonings; and the Pont-neuf taste, as it is called, still prevails in their best performances.
The English school was first planned by Purcel: he attempted to unite the Italian manner, that prevailed in his time, with the ancient Celtic carol and the Scottish ballad, which probably had also its origin in Italy; for some of the