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VOL. I. 

It is said, by such as professe the mathematical! sciences, that all things stand by 
proportion, and that without it nothing could stand to be good or beautiful. 

Puttenham, Arte of English Poerie, lib. ii. c. 1. 






' / 2. 

V V\ • c ' '- 


Owing to circumstances, which need not be de- 
tailed, the first Volume was printed off, two years 
before the greater part of the second Volume went 
to the press, and indeed before it was written. 
This may account for a seeming inaccuracy as 
regards dates ; and will make it necessary for the 
reader, when he meets with the phrases, " a short 
time since," " two or three years ago," &c. to allow 
for the time, which has elapsed since they were 
written. Perhaps too it may serve, in some 
measure^ as an apology for the additional notes at 
the end of each volume. Two years could hardly 
pass away, without the author seeing reason to 
modify much that he had advanced, upon a subject 
so novel and so extensive as the present one. 



Chap.. I. Rhythm defined, 1 . Verse measured either by time or 
accent, 2. General arrangement of the subject, ib. 

Chap. II. The voice, 4. The vocal letters, 6. The whisper- 
letters, 9. Imitative sounds, 12. 

Chap. III. A syllable denned, 22. The French e final, 24. The 
English e final, 26. The e of inflexion, 29. Initial syllables 
omitted, 35. The initial be, 36. The initial dis, 38. Vowel 
combinations, 39. The vowel before nasals and liquids, 47. 
The vowel before some one of the close letters, b,p f d, t, g, k, 
63. The vowel before dentals, 66. The vowel before sibi- 
lants, 67. Coalition of words, 69. 

Chap. IV. Accent defined, 76. Primary and secondary accent, 
78. Accent after a pause, 79. Verbal accent, how affected 
by construction, 81. Accent slurred over in construction, 
ib. Emphasis, 82. Accents of construction, 83. Verbal 
accent, foreign, 90. Verbal accent, English, 99. 

Chap. V. Quantity defined, 105. Length of English vowels, how 
indicated by their orthography, 106. Quantity, as an index 
of English rhythm, 111. Quantity, as an embellishment of 
rhythm, 114. 

Chap. VI. Rhime defined, 116. Rhime, perfect, alliterative, vowel, 
consonantal, late alliterative, and common, 117. Rhime, 
double and triple, 118. Final rhime, 1 1 9. Middle rhime, 
124. Sectional rhime, 125. Inverse rhime, 136. Alliter- 
ation, 140. Unaccented rhime, 144. Doubly accented 
rhime, 146. 

Chap. VII. The pauses, 148. The final pause, 149, The middle 
pause, 152. The sectional pause, 154. The stops final, 
middle, and sectional, 157. 


Chap. I. English rhythms, their origin, 163. The character of 
certain rhythms, and their fitness for poetical expression, 167. 
History of English rhythms, 174. Elision, 178. Arrange- 
ment of the subject, 183. 


Chap. II. Verses consisting of a single section, 185. Verse of 
two accents, 186. Verse of three accents, 188. 

Chap. III. Verse of four accents, 1 90. Verses beginning with 
section 1, 194 — with section 1 /, 196— -with section 2, 198 
— with section 2 /, 200 — with section 5, 203 — with section 
5 /, 207— with section 6, 208— with section 6 /, 210. 

Chap. IV. Verse of five accents, two in the first section, 214. 
Verses beginning with section 1, 216 — with section 2, 221. 
with section 5, 225 — with section 6, 231 — -with section 9, 

Chap. V. Verse of five accents, three in the first section, 234. 
Character of these rhythms, 235. Verses beginning with 
section 1, 238 — with section 2, 243 — with section 3, 5246 — 
with section 4, 248 — with section 5, 249— with section 6, 
252— with section 7, 253. 

Chap. VI. The verse of six accents, 255. Verses beginning with 
section 1, 258 — with section 2, 260 — with section 3, 263 — 
with section 5, ib. — with section 6, 267— with section 7, ib. 
— with section 8, 268 — with section 9, 269. 

Chap. VII. Verses containing a compound section, 270. Verses 
of six accents, with compound section, 271. Verses of seven 
accents, beginning with the compound section, 277. Verses 
of seven accents ending with the compound section, 279. 
Verses of eight accents, with compound section, 283. Verses 
of nine or more accents, with compound section, 286. 

Chap. VIII. The sectional pause, its origin, 287. How indicated, 
290. Verses containing the section 1 . p, of two accents, 291 
—the section 1 11. p, of two accents, 293— the section 5p, 
of two accents, 295— the section 5 /. p, of two accents — the 
section 5 ILp, of two accents, 299 — the section 1 p, of three 
accents — the section 1 /• p, of three accents — the section 3. 
p t of three accents— the section 5 p, of three accents — the 
section 7 p, of three accents — the section 7 /. p, of three 
accents. Writers upon u rhythmus." 

Note (A). The Letters, 3 J 3. 
Note (B). Accentuation, 314. 
Note (C). Secondary accents, 3 16. 
Note (D). Rhime, ib. 
Note ( E) . Versification, 317. 



Page line 
4, 20, for squeaking, read shrill. 
8, 7, for Europe, read Europe. 

8, 14, for ends, read edges. 

9, 25, see note (A). 
10, 5, see note (A). 

10, 31, «ee note (A). 

11, 17, for yardn, read yard. 
14, it for has, read is. 

SI , 28, dele the full stop after verses. 

25, • I, for ganto, read gan to. 

25, , IS f for we find this syllable preserved also in the plural, read we And 

also this termination furnished with two syllables in the plural. 
[28,. 20, after helle, read (the gen. of hel). 
30, . 7, dele and it seems to have been occasionally used as the accusative 

singular, just as the datives of the personal pronouns invaded 

the province of their accusatives. 
3 1 » 9, for knabe, read cnapa. 
34, 36, for in three words, read in three cases. 

37, * 9, for angynnan, read onginnan. 

38, 13, for twelfth, read thirteenth. 

38, S3, for subjec|tion|, read subjection. 

45, 24, after to, insert the mark of accentuation. 

50, 29,/or 

Faljlen cher|ub to be weak| : is mis|era|ble 

Faljlen cherjub : to be weak | is mis|era|ble. 
50, dele note * — a memorandum for the author'* own guidance, which, 

by some, blunder, found its way into the teat. 
55, 14, for meditation, read mediation. 

57, l f for seventeenth century read sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

58, 3, for In the Anglo-Saxon and early English dialects such a combi- 

nation was common, and in the latter was expressed by the 
French ending re,' read In some of our Old English dialects 
such a combination was common, and was expressed by the 
French ending re. 
€3, 12,/or 

Shot man|y at me | with| \fi\erce intent] 

Shot manjy at | me with :fl\erce intent] 

64, 19, for we have the same verb, &c. read the same verb seems to be,-&c. 

65, 32,/or 

For she | had great | doubts) : of his ssi|ety| 
: For she | had great| : doubts | of his saf|ety| 

66, 16, for eomth, read comth. 

67, 4, for She read The. 


Page line 

68, 9, for Sometimes s and t belong to different syllables, read Some- 

times the yowel was elided, in cases where, according to modern 
pronunciation, the s and / are given to different syllables. 

69, 33, for conrtsy read curtsy. 

78, 26, for two or more syllables, read three or more syllables. 
79> 4, for Temple Gode, read Tempel Gode. 

79, 10, for aeltmiht-ne, read selmiht-ne. 
84, 11, tee note (B.) 

86, 5, see note (B.) 
94, 28, for 

And U|na wan|dring : in | woods and \forrests\ 

And U|na wan|dring in| : woods | and forrests\ 
100, 24, for blackbirds|, read black birds|. 
102, 29, for sawykkytly, read sa wykkytly. 
107, 28, for tenth and twelfth, read eleventh and twelfth; 
109, 4, for all cases, read almost every case. 

109, 27, The asterisk referring to the note, should have followed thewortt 


1 10, 19, for upheld, read upholden; 

111, 1 8, see note (A.) 

113, 90, dele the same rhythm has been employed as above, but. See 

note (£). 

114, 17, /or Establishment, read Embellishment. 

116, IS, for may be divided into, read will be considered as made up of. 
1*19, 9 y for dip] adays, read dip\adays. 

119, 10, for Siag\yrite, read Stag\yrite. 

119, 22, for form, read adopt. 

120, 16, see note (D). 

121 , 30, for supposed to have been tampered with, read supposed to have' 

been a mere corruption. 

125, 24, for never, read seldom. 

131, 34, /or ad, read and; 

133, 13, for Ex MS. read The Grave-song. 

133, 22, for loud, read lond. 

134, 21, for Seafowl, read Seafola. 

135, 14, for " tinkMng," *m*" jingfiIIf;. ,, 
142* 1 1 , Jbr ntnthv rasd tenth. 

143, 1, dele on last |le£)aun : latWjnm lead | urn. Ail the best MS S. have 

lathum theodum. 
148, 28, for ninth; read tenth: 
143, 28, fitr reign, read sera: 
146* U\Jbr 

Fryndfstad hie min|e geornfe : heMeon h^ rahygfe^sceaftum 

Frynd | aim? hie ; minje ; geOrn|e 
Holde on hyra hyge-sceaftum. 
146, 20,/or Facundi, read Ptecumfi. 
154, 1, see note(E.) 
160, 1 1 , for Glories, read GItf jriei. 
1 64) % for sheaest, read sheetiest. 

164, 34, a third rule was omitted by mistake. See note (E). 

165, 2, #«» note (E.) 
165, 12, for are, read is. 

167, U t for it wotiM'have be^ifflptesible, read e^MX it'would have been 

173, 1 , for leodum, read theodum. 


Page line 

174, 35, for fourth, read fifth. 

175, 38, The authority of Bede, &c. The passage in Bede, referred to, is 

for several reasons obscure, but, on further consideration I would 
say, cannot possibly bear the inference which is here drawn 
from it. 

177, %for with the forms of metrical verse, read with the forms of a 

later and more artificial system. 

178, 31, fbr ballad stanza, read ballet-stanza. 

8, on the whole should have been printed in italics. 

8, The words or short should have been in Roman letters. 
20, dele Sweartle swogjan : sses | upstigjon. See note (B). 
30, dole Lifjes brytjta : leoht | forth cum | an. See note (B). 

1, dele thaegn|ra sinjra : thaer | mid wees | an. See note (B). 

16, dele stream | as stod|on : storm | up'gewat|. See note (B). 
19, see lathle cyrmldon : lyft | up geswearc|. See note (B). 
25, dele ferjede and ner|ede : fifftena stod| 

9, dele deop | ofer dun|um : see dren|ce flodj 

2, dele and Re|tie| : ricjes hirdje. See note (E). 

17, for fontome, read fantome. 
4,/or511: 6, read 511:9. 

1, dele In setjting and sow|ing : swonkef full sor'e 

18, see note (E). 
1 1 , fbr wh, read who. 

23, for siththau, read siththan. 

24, dele this and the following line. See note (C). 

2, dele this line. See note (C). 
20,ybr frwt | wum, read fret] wum. 

5, fbr 

Pipes trompes : nakers and clarionnes 
That | in the bat|aille : blow | en blodjy sowen|es 

Pip|es tromp|e8 : nakjers and clar|ion|nes 
That in the bataille : blowen blodysownes 
221, 23, for 

the | do | tid | gek>mp|, 

tha | sio tid | gelomp). 
223, 17, rf*J»gar|um agetfed : gumja northjema|. See note (C). 
223, 20, dele up|pe mid eng[lum : ec|e statn|elss|. See note (C). 

223, 25, dele this line fbr the same- reason. 

224, 9, dele the example from the Samson Agowistes; Its rhythm has 

for its index 21 1 51, not 21 : I. 
229, 10, dele Besloh | syn soeathjan : sig|6re and'| geweal|de.< See note (B) . 
229, 24, for 

The swerd flaw fra him : a furbreid on the land' 

Waljlae was glad) : and hynt | it sone | in hand), 

The swerd | flaw fra | him : a fur|breid on |the land| 

Wallas was glad, and hynt it sone in hand; 
232, 26, dele Which him | after cur|sed : for his | trangres|sion| 

232, 2%, fbr the sections 9 : 91, read the sections 9, 91. 

233, 8, dele 10 : 5 is a regular Terse of the triple measure. 
239, 1 and 4, fbr Wharton, read Warton. 

241, 20, dele si titan letje ic hin|e : with | me sylfjne. 

245, 23, after the words whose ear was so delicately sensitive, read unless 

it were that assigned in p. 227. 
253, 15, fbr Nud, read Mid. 


Page line 
356, 18, for generally, read always. At to the nature of the modem 

French alexandrine* eee note (G). 
257* Gtfor Described by all men, read Describing all men. 

262, 10, eee note (G). 

263, 1 1 , for iheot, read ibeot. 

272, It should have been noticed, that the examples, quoted in thie 

chapter, have been arranged generally according to the au- 
thors, as the number of varieties was too scanty to render the 
mode of subdivision, hitherto followed, advisable. The index 
51 : 1 c. : 5 should also have preceded the 5th, Sth, and 1th 
examples, quoted m this page, and 2 : 51 : 1 the ninth. 

272, 30, dele The sea | and un|frequen|ted desjerts : where | the snow 
dwells | . 

274, 13, for gewendam, read gewendan. 

275, 15, after the words But to bring in St. Peter, read (as Milton has 


278, 4, for other, read others. 

278, 11, for as yet wide | land, read as yet wide land. 

278, 19, for the last Terse, read the last verse bat one. 

281, 9, fori : 1 : 91c, read 71: 1 : 91c. 

283, 15, the notation, used in this chapter, readily adapts itself to verses 
of six or seven accents, but when a verse contains eight or 
more accents, the reader must be furnished with some further 
intimation than is given by the mere numerical index, before 
he can hope to follow its rhythm. Even in tracing the rhythm 
of a verse which contains only six or seven accents, he will 
require the like assistance, {f the middle pause of the com- 
pound section fall in the midst of a word. But, in both these 
cases, I believe the index, followed by such explanation, to 
afford the shortest and readiest means of pointing out tike 

283, 32,/br7 :3 : 611. c. read 81: 11: 71. c. 

284, 30,jfor2l: lie: 11: 11. c. read 21: lie: 11: I.e. 

286, 18, m this last example the accents are properly eleven, not twelve. 
Thses lean | eg the | he him on | thamleoh|te gescyr|ede : thon|ne 

letje he | his hin|e langje weal | dan. 
and there may even be a question, jf we should hot read thonjne 
letje- he his hinje, and, by this elision of the vowel, reduce the 
number to ten. 

294, 99, for O Troy j Troy | Troy|, read O Troy | Troy TroyJ. 

300, 3, for The section 1 . p. is occasionally found in Anglo-Saxon poems, 
of the first class, read The section 1 p, of the first class, is oc- 
casionally found in Anglo-Saxon poems. 

305, 27 f for lord ys, read lordys. 

307, 23, after the word verse put a Jull stop in place of the semicolon, 
and then read Owing to the license, which certain of our poets 
allow themselves in the management of their pauses, there is 
danger, etc. 

311 , I, for mor eattention, read more attention. 



in its widest sense may be defined as the law of succession. 
It is the regulating principle of every whole, that is made 
up of proportional parts, and is as necessary to the regu- 
lation of motion, or the arrangement of matter, as to the 
orderly succession of sounds. By applying it to the first 
of these purposes we have obtained the dance ; and sculp- 
ture and architecture are the results of its application to 
the second. The rhythmical arrangement of sounds not 
articulated produces music, while from the like arrange- 
ment of articulate sounds we get the cadences of prose and 
the measures of verse. 

Verse may be defined as a succession of articulate 
sounds regulated by a rhythm so definite, that we can 
readily foresee the results which follow from its application. 
Rhythm is also met with in prose, but in the latter its 
range is so wide, that we never can anticipate its flow, 
while the pleasure we derive from verse is founded on this 
very anticipation. 

As verse consists merely in the arrangement of certain 
sounds according to a certain rhythm, it is obvious, that 
neither poetry nor even sense can be essential to it. We 
may be alive to the beauty of a foreign rhythm, though we 
do not understand the language, and the burthen of many 
an English song has long yielded a certain pleasure, though 
every whit as unmeaning as the nonsense verses of the 

In considering the general character of any proposed 
metre, we should have especial regard to three circum- 

VOL. I. B 


2 RHYTHM. B. I. 

stances ; first to the elements, which are to be arranged ; 
secondly to the accidents, by which these elements are dis- 
tinguished ; and thirdly to the law of succession, by which 
the arrangement is effected. 

In making verse, the elements subjected to the rhythm, 
may be either syllables, or verses, or staves. The only 
accidents, which need be noticed as of rhythmical value, are 
three, the time or quantity, the accent, and the modifica- 
tion of the sound. 

Rhythm may be marked either by the time or the ac- 
cent. In the great family of languages which has been 
termed the Indo-European, and which spread from the 
Ganges to the Shannon, three made time the index of their 
rhythm, to wit the Sanscrit, Greek, and Latin ; all the 
the others adopted accent. It is remarkable that those 
dialects which now represent the Sanscrit, Greek, and 
Latin, have lost their temporal and possess merely an ac- 
centual rhythm. We are able in some measure to follow 
the progress of this change. So gradual was it in the 
Greek, that even as late as the eleventh century there 
were authors who wrote indifferently in either rhythm. 
The origin, however, of accentual verse, as it now prevails 
in those languages, is by no means clear. Whether it 
were borrowed from the northern invader, or were the na- 
tural growth of a mixed and broken language, or merely 
the revival of a vulgar rhythm, which had been heretofore 
kept under by the prevalence of one more fashionable and 
perhaps more perfect, are questions I shall pass by, as 
being at least as difficult as they are interesting. 


Having premised thus much as to the meaning of our 
terms, I will now lay before the reader the course I shall 
follow in tracing the progress of our English rhythms. In 
the second book we shall consider the rhythm of indivi 
dual verses; and in the third the rhythm of particular pas- 


sages, or, to speak more precisely, the flow of several 
verses in combination ; while the fourth book will be de- 
voted to the history of our staves, that is, of those regular 
combinations, which form as it were a second class of ele- 
ments to be regulated by the rhythm. 

The book which opens with the present chapter is little 
more than introductory, but the matters discussed in it are 
of high importance to the right understanding of the sub- 
ject. In the next chapter we shall consider the different 
modifications of sound, with a view to the aid they afford us 
in embellishing and perfecting the rhythm. In the third 
we shall inquire what constitutes a syllable, and discuss the 
nature of accent in the fourth, and of quantity in the fifth. 
The various kinds of rhime will be the subject of the sixth 
chapter, and in the seventh and last we shall treat of the 
rhythmical pauses. 

B 2 





If we drop a small heavy body into still water it forms 
a circular wave, which gradually enlarges and loses itself 
upon the surface. In like manner, if one hard body strike 
against another — as the cog of a metal wheel against a 
quill — a wave is formed in the air which expands on all 
sides round the point of contact. When this wave 
reaches the ear, it produces on that organ the sensation 
of sound. 

If now the wheel be turned round, so that the cogs 
strike against the quill in succession, several concentric 
waves are produced, following each other at equidistant 
periods of time ; and if the velocity be such that there are 
more than thirty sound-waves in a second, the sensation 
produced by one lasts till another enters the ear, and a 
continuous sound is the result. This continuous sound is 
called a tone or musical note. 

As we increase the number of sound-waves, the tone 
changes its character, and is said to become sharper. 
When more than six thousand enter the ear in a second, 
the tone becomes so sharp and squeaking as to be no 
longer perceptible by organs constituted like our own. 

The wave which thus produces the sensation of sound, 
differs widely in origin from that which moves along the 
surface of the water. The latter is formed by the vertical 
rising of the watery particles, and as these fall again in 
obedience to the force of gravity, they drive upwards those 
next adjoining. The motion of the particles is thus per- 
pendicular or nearly so to the direction of the wave's 
motion. The air-wave is formed by the condensation as 


well as by the displacing of the particles, and the moving 
power in this case is elasticity. The airy particles are 
driven on a heap, till the force of elasticity becomes 
greater than the impelling force, and they are driven back 
to their former station. The neighbouring particles are 
then similarly acted on, and a slight motion or vibration 
in the same line of direction as that in which the sound- 
wave is travelling, takes place in all the particles. On the 
size of this vibration depends the loudness of the sound. 

The tones of the human voice are produced by the vibra- 
tions of two membranes, which have been called the vocal 
ligaments. These are set in motion by a stream of air 
gushing from the lungs, and we can at pleasure regulate 
the sharpness and the loudness of the sound produced. 
The mechanism, by which this is effected, has been lately 
made the subject of some very interesting speculations.* 

If two elastic membranes stretched upon frames so as 
to leave one edge free, be placed opposite to each other, 
with the free edges uppermost, and a current of air pass 
between them from beneath, they will be differently 
affected according to their inclination towards each other. 
If they incline from each other, they will bulge inwards, if 
towards each other, they will bulge outwards, if they be 
parallel, they will vibrate. Now the wind-pipe is con- 
tracted near the mouth by a projecting mass of muscles 
called the Glottis. The edges of the Glottis are mem- 
branes, and form the vocal ligaments. Ordinarily these 
membranous edges are inclined from each other, and con- 
sequently no vibrations take place during the passage of 
the breath; but by the aid of certain muscles, we can 
place them parallel to each other, when they immediately 
vibrate and produce a tone. With the aid of other mus- 
cles, we can increase their tension, and thereby the sharp- 
ness of the tone, and by driving the air more forcibly from 
the lungs, we may increase its loudness. The tone thus 

* See Mr.. Willis's papers in the Cambridge Philosophical Transactions. 


formed is modified by the cavities of the throat, nose, and 
mouth, These modifications form the first elements of 
articulate language, or the letters. 


It has been shown * that the note of a common organ 
reed may take the qualities of all the vowel-sounds in 
succession. This is effected by merely lengthening the 
tube, which confines the vibrations. It would seem, there- 
fore, that the peculiar characters of the different vowels 
depend entirely on the length of the cavity, which modifies 
the voice. 

In pronouncing the long a in father, the cavity seems 
barely, if at all, extended beyond the throat; in pro- 
nouncing the au of aught, it reaches to the root of the 
tongue, and to the middle of the palate in pronouncing the 
long e of eat ; the sound of the long o in oat, requires the 
cavity to be extended to the lips, which must be stretched 
out to form a cavity long enough to pronounce the u in 

Every addition to the length of the tube or cavity, affects 
in a greater or less degree the character of the tone. The 
possible number of vowel-sounds therefore, can have no 
limit ; but as there are rarely more than seven or eight in 
any one language, we may conclude that the human ear is 
not readily sensible to the nicer distinctions. 

In pronouncing the vowels a and e, as they sound in ale 
and eel, we narrow the cavity by raising the tongue to- 
wards the palate, while in pronouncing a, au, o, as they 
sound in father, aught, oat, the cavity is broad and open. 
These two sets of vowels have accordingly been distin- 
guished as the narrow and the broad vowels. 

Next to the vowels, the letters which have spread most 
widely, are the three, 

b, d, g. 

• By Mr. Willis. 


as pronounced in ab, ad, ag. If we try to dwell upon the 
consonants which end these words, we find ourselves 
unable to do so but for a short time, and even then it 
requires some muscular exertion. In each of the three 
cases the tone seems to be modified by a closed cavity, no 
aperture being left for the breath to escape by. In pro- 
nouncing 4, the lips are closed, and the vibrations are con- 
fined to the throat and mouth; in pronouncing d, the 
tongue is raised to the palate, and the throat and hinder 
portion of the mouth are the only open cavities ; in pro- 
nouncing g, the tone seems to be modified merely by the 
hollow of the throat. We shall call these letters from the 
circumstances of their formation the close letters. 

The letters 4, tf, g have a very near connexion with the 

three nasals 

m,w, ng.* 
The only difference in their formation is, that in pro- 
nouncing the latter, the breath passes freely through the 
nostril. With this exception the organs are disposed pre- 
cisely in the same way for pronouncing wi, n, ng, as for pro- 
nouncing A, d 9 g. As the nostril affords a free passage for 
the breath, we may dwell on these letters during a whole 

v 9 dh.f 
have the strongest affinity to b and d. The peculiarity of 
their formation lies in the free passage of the breath 
through the interstices of the upper teeth. To the edge of 
these teeth we raise the lip in pronouncing v, and the 
tongue in pronouncing dh 9 instead of joining the lips, or 
raising the tongue to the palate. As these teeth form part 
of the enclosure which modifies the voice, the breath may 
pass between them, and we may dwell upon the letters 
during a whole respiration, as is seen in pronouncing the 
words av, adh. 

* This character represents the sound which ends such words as loving, 
telling, &c. 
t dh represents the vocal sound of th as heard in the, their, those, &c. 



are never heard in pronunciation except at the beginning 
of a syllable and before some other vowel. They seem 
merely to represent the short vowels i and u (as heard in 
put and pif), melting into their several dipthongs. They 
are generally considered as consonants; but if the y of 
your be a consonant, so must also be the e of Europe. 

I, r. 

The peculiarity in the formation of these letters is a 
certain trembling or vibration of the tongue, whence they 
may be called the trembling letters. In pronouncing / the 
tongue is raised to the palate, as in forming the letter rf, 
but the breath is allowed to escape between it and the side 
teeth, and thereby causes the loose ends of the tongue 
to vibrate. In pronouncing the letter r the tongue is 
raised towards the palate without touching it, and the 
breath in passing causes it to vibrate. 

These tremblings or vibrations of the tongue are quite 
distinct from the vibrations of the voice, and may be pro- 
duced during a whisper when the voice is absent. 

The only two vocal sounds which remain to be consi- 
dered are 

z 9 zh.* 

In pronouncing z the tongue is raised to the palate in 
nearly the same position it occupies in pronouncing e 9 save 
that, instead of lying hollow so as to form a tube or funnel 
for the voice, the surface rises in a convex shape and 
leaves but a narrow slit or aperture between it and the 
roof of the mouth. By lengthening the aperture we get 
the sound of zh. These letters may be called the sibilants 
or hissing letters. 

* By the character zA is represented the sound of zinaznrt. 



Hitherto we have spoken only of vocal letters, or, in 
other words, of the different modifications of the voice. 
If the vocal ligaments be so inclined to each other as not 
to vibrate, the emission of breath from the lungs produces 
merely a whisper. This whisper may be modified in like 
manner as the voice, by similar arrangements of the 
organs; and every vocal sound has its corresponding 
whisper-sound, that might, if custom had so willed it, have 
constituted a distinct letter. 

It is, however, doubtful if there ever was a language 
which had its whisper letters perfect. In our own the 
number of whisper letters is nine. The three close let- 
ters, the two dentals or teeth-breathing letters, the two 
sibilants, and the letter to, have each of them their whis- 
per letters, and the aspirate h is the ninth. 

Vocal letters. Whisper letters. 

b p 

d t 

g k 

v f 

dh th 

z s 

zh sh 

w wh 


We have lost all distinction between dh and th in our 
spelling, though we still distinguish them in pronunciation, 
as is seen at once in comparing the sound of th in this, 
then, clothes, to loathe — with its sound in thistle, thin, cloths, 

* The distinction here taken between vocal and whisper letters appears to 
me important. I once thought it was original ; but in conversing on this 
subject with a respected friend, to whose instructions I owe much, I found 
his views so nearly coinciding with my own, that I have now but little doubt 
the hint was borrowed. 


The distinction also between the connected letter 
sounds zh and sh does not appear in our orthography, 
though at once sensible to the ear in comparing the sound 
of azure with that of Ashur. 

That wh represents the whisper sound of w will, I 
think, be clear, if we compare the initial sounds of where, 
when, while, with those of were, wen, wile. It is probable 
that in the Anglo-Saxon hwcer, hwen, hurile, the w may 
have been vocal, and the h may have represented a distinct 
breathing; but it would be difficult to account for the 
change of hw into wh, which took place at so early a 
period (perhaps as early as the 12th century), unless it in- 
dicated a change in the pronunciation ; and this change 
would naturally be to the whisper sound of the w. 

In this view of the case w may put in a fair claim to the 
title of consonant. If the true definition of a vowel be, 
that it is a letter which makes any part of a word, into 
which it enters, a distinct syllable, then w has clearly no 
right to the title of vowel. Nor can we reasonably call 
the initial sounds of were, wen, wile dipthongal, unless we 
allow the initial sounds of where, when, while, to be dip- 
thongs also. But were this so, we should have part of a 
dipthong a mere whisper while the other part remained 
vocal. Our w then, amid a choice of difficulties, may, 
perhaps, be allowed the title of consonant; but the same 
reasoning does not apply to the y. The latter, I think, 
can only be considered as a letter indicating the initial 
sound of a dipthong. 

The whisper sounds of the two liquids I, r, constitute 
two distinct letters in Welsh, and in several other lan- 
guages. I am also inclined to think that the Latin rh, if 
not the Greek p, indicated merely the whisper sound of 
the r. 

That these letters p, t, k,f, &c. are the whisper sounds 
of b, d, g, v, &c. may, I think, be shown without much 
difficulty. If we try to pronounce the words ab, ad, ag, 
av, &c. in a whisper they cannot be distinguished from ap, 


at, ak, af, &c. Again, the vibrations of the organs, which 
are obvious while we are pronouncing a vocal letter, cease 
immediately we change to the whisper sound; but the 
disposition of the organs remains unchanged. Thus, in 
pronouncing the v of av, if we change to a whisper, the 
vibrations of the lips and teeth cease ; and without any 
change in the position of the organs we find ourselves 
pronouncing f. 

The number then of English consonantal sounds, if we 
consider w as one, amounts to twenty-two; whereof 
thirteen are vocal and nine mere whisper sounds. 

The vowels are eleven in number. The long a, e, o, u, 
as heard in father ', reel, roll, rule; au and a as heard in 
aught, ate ; and the short a, e, i, o, u, as heard in pat, pet, 
pit, pot, put. The dipthongs are twelve, ei, oi and ou, as 
heard in height, hoity, out ; and eleven others formed by 
prefixing y to the eleven vowels. These are heard in the 
following words, yardn, yean, yoke, yule, yawn, yare, yap, 
yell, yif, yon, young. 

Having said thus much on the formation of our ele- 
mentary sounds, we will now consider in what way and to 
what extent they may be rendered useful, in embellishing 
and perfecting the rhythm. 

If, as is often the case, besides the idea which the usage 
of language has connected with certain words, there are 
others which are naturally associated with the sounds or 
with the'peculiarities of their formation, it is obvious, that 
the impression on the mind must be the most vivid, when 
the natural associations can be made to coincide with 
such as are merely artificial and conventional. In all 
languages there are certain words in which this coinci- 
dence is perfect. In our own we have hiss, kaw, bah, and 
a few others, in which the natural sound so closely re- 
sembles the articulate sound which represents it, that 
many have fallen into the error of supposing the latter a 
mere imitation of thte former. The number, however, of 
these imitative sounds in any language is but scanty, and 


the assistance they render is both obvious and vulgar. 
The delicate perceptions of the poet demand the gratifica- 
tion more frequently than it is supplied by the ordinary 
resources of language. It is by the command which he 
possesses over this noblest of all gifts (after reason) that 
he seeks to obtain it. 

In the next section we shall trace some of the artifices 
which have been adopted to arrive at these imitative 
sounds ; and afterwards enquire how far the peculiarities 
which attend the formation of our letters, as regards the 
disposition and action of the organs, can assist us in the 
fit and suitable expression of the thought. 


" There is found," says Bacon, " a similitude between 
the sound, that is made by inanimate bodies, or by animate 
bodies that have no voice articulate, and divers letters 
of articulate voices ; and commonly men have given such 
names to those sounds as do allude unto the articulate 
letters; as trembling of water hath resemblance to the 
letter I ; quenching of hot metals to the letter z\ snarling 
of dogs with the letter r ; the noise of screech owls with 
the letter sh, voice of cats with the dipthong eu, voice of 
cuckoos with the dipthong ou, sounds of strings with the 
dipthong ng" — Century I. 

When we pronounce the letter /, the breath in escaping 
under the side teeth presses against the yielding tongue, 
which may be considered as fixed at its root and tip. 
The tongue, like other flaccid bodies in similar circum- 
stances, vibrates with a slow and uncertain trembling. 
This strongly resembles the motion of water. " Run- 
ning waters/' Bacon elsewhere observes, " represent 
to the ear a trembling noise, and in regals, where they 
have a pipe they call the nightingale pipe, which con- 
taineth water, the sound hath a continual trembling ; and 
children have also little things they call cocks, which have 


water in them, and when they blow or whistle in them 
they yield a trembling noise." It is in this inequality of 
trepidation, that the resemblance above alluded to seems 
chiefly to consist. Our great poets afford us many beau- 
tiful examples ; in the Witches' song we almost hear the 
bubbling of the cauldron ; 

For a charm of powerful trouble. 
Like a hell broth boil and bubble. 
All. Double, double toil and trouble, 
Fire burn and cauldron bubble. 

Not less happy are the following passages, 

Gloster stumbled, and in falling 
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard 
Into the tumbling billows of the main. R. 3. 

Fountains, and ye that warble as ye flow, 
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise. 


The hypothesis that has been ventured as to the origin 
of the resemblance, thus noticed by Bacon, is strengthened 
by observing, that our poets always affect this letter, 
whenever they have to describe a yielding wavy motion. 
The tye, which links such an association with the letter Z, 
is obvious. 

Part huge of bulk, 

Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait, 
Tempest the ocean. P. £. 7. 

Some of serpent kind, 
Wond'rous in length and corpulence, involved 
Their snaky folds. P. L. 7. 

The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair, 

But ended foul, in many a scaly fold 

Voluminous and vast. P. L. 2. 

JR, though a trembling letter, has a character of sound 
differing in many particulars from that of /. In the first 
place it has a narrow sound, not unlike e, while that of / 


has a decidedly broad one. In the second place the vi- 
brations, instead of being slow and uncertain like those 
of Z, are quick and decided. Its sound was likened, even 
by Roman critics, to the snarling of the dog ; but it has a 
resemblance to any narrow sound, which is broken in 
upon by short quick interruptions. Hence its power in 
expressing harsh, grating, and rattling noises. 

In the two first of the following examples, the roll of a 
liquid mass is beautifully contrasted with the harsh rattle 
of rock or shingle, on which it is supposed to act. 

As burning iEtna from his boiling stew 

Doth belch out flames, and rocks in pieces broke, 

And ragged ribs of mountains molten new, 

En wrapt in cole-black clouds. F. Q. 1 . 1 1. 44. 

As raging seas are wont to roar. 

When wintry storm his wrathful wreck does threat, 
The rolling billows beat the ragged shore. 

F. Q. I. 11 21. 

With clamour thence the rapid currents drive 
Towards the retreating sea their furious tide. 


As an aged tree 

Whose heart-strings with keen steel nigh hewen be, 

The mighty trunk, half rent with ragged rift, 

Doth ro// adown the rocks and fall with fearful drift. 

F. Q. 

And she whom once the semblance of a scar 
Appall'd, an owlet's larum chill'd with dread. 
Now views the column- scattering bay'net./ar. 

Childe Harold, 1. 

On a sudden open fly 

With impetuous recoil, and jarring sound 

Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate 

Harsh thunder. P* L. 2. 

The Wazen throat of war had ceas'd to roar, 

All now was turn'd to jollity and game. P. L. 1 1. 


The raven himself is hoarse, 

That croaks the fatal enterance of Duncan 

Under my battlements. Macbeth. 

< ' Such bursts of horrid thunder, 
Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never 
Remember to have heard. Lear. 

The sounds represented in the three last examples are 
not only harsh and grating, but deep and full; the narrow 
sound of the r is therefore corrected by the broad vowels 
in roar, hoarse, groans, &c. 

Bacon likens the sound of z to the quenching of hot 
metals, and that of sh to the noise of screech owls. The 
fact is that the sounds represented by z, zh, s, sh, are all 
more or less sibilant, and accordingly have a greater or 
less affinity to any sound of the like character. Now there 
are a variety of noises, which though not absolutely hisses, 
yet approach near to them in the sharpness and shrillness 
of their sound, as shrieks, screeches, the whistling of man 
or other animals. All these resemble more or less the 
hissing sound of the sibilants. 

They saw — but, other sight instead ! a crowd 

Of ugly serpents ; horror on them fell 

And horrid sympathy ; for what they saw 

They felt themselves now changing $ down their arms 

Down fell both spear and shield, down they as fast, 

And the dire hiss renewed. P. L. 10. 

Dreadful was the din 

Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now 

With complicated monsters, head and tail, 

Scorpion and asp, and amphisboena dire, 

Cerastes horn'd, hydras and elops drear, 

And dipsas, not so thick swarm d once the soil, 

Bedropt with blood of gorgon. P. L. 1 0. 

The hoarse night-raven, trump of doleful drere, 
The leather-winged bat, day's enemy, 
The rueful strich still waiting on the bier, 
The whistler shrill that whoso hears doth die. 

F. Q. 2. 12. 36. 


By whispering winds soon lull'd asleep. 

V Allegro. 

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, 
The swallow twittering from her tfrato-built shed, 

The cock's shrill clarioD, or the echoing horn, 
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. 


And with sharp shrilling shrieks do bootless cry. 

F. Q. 2. 12.36. 

Now air is hnsh'd, save where the weak-ey'd bat, 
With short shrill shriek flies by on leathern wing. 

Collins' 8 Evening. 

It will be observed that in several of these examples the 
sharp sound of the sibilant is strengthened by that of the 
narrow vowels, long e and short i. These vowels are 
sometimes used with effect even by themselves. 

The clonds were fled, 

Drivn by a keen north wind, that blowing dry 
Wrinkled the face of deluge. P. L. 10. 

The threaden sails, 

Borne with th' invisible and creeping wind, 
Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea. 

H 5. 3. Chorus. 

The broad vowel sounds on the contrary, long a, au, 
long and short o, together with the broad dipthong ou> are 
used to express deep and hollow sounds ; 

— A dreadful sound, 

Which through the wood loud bellowing did rebound. 

F.Q. 1. 7. 7. 

His thunders now had ceas'd 

To bellow through the vast and boundless deep. P. L. 

All these and thousand thousands many more, 

And more deformed monsters thousand fold, 

With dreadful noise and hollow rombling sound 

Came rushing. F. Q. 2. 12. 25. 


As the sound of waters deep, 

Hoarse murmurs echoed to his words applause. 

PL. 5. 

The very expression a hollow sound shows how close is 
the association of a hollow space with depth and fullness 
of sound. Hence the broad vowels are sometimes used to 
express mere breadth and concavity. 

So high as heav'd the tumid hills, so low 
Down sunk a hollow bottom, broad and deep. 

P. L. 7. 

Hell at last, 

Yawning received them whole, and on them clos'd. 

P. L. 7. 

The observation of Bacon relative to the sound of ng 
may be generalized in like manner. There is no doubt 
that all the three nasals have a close affinity to any deep 
low sound ; such as a hum, a murmur, or the twang of a 
musical string slowly vibrating. The reason I take to be 
the distinctness with which the vibrations of the voice are 
heard in pronouncing these letters, and the low deep tone 
in which they are generally spoken. 

Through the foul womb of night 

The hum of either army stilly sounds. 

H 5. 4. Chorus, 

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums 

Hath rung night's yawning peal. Macbeth. 

Where the beetle winds 

His small but sullen horn, 
As oft he rises mid the twilight path 
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum. Collins. 

The bum-cock hummd wi* lazy drone } 

The kve stood rowtin i' the loan. Burns. 

Where each old poetic mountain 

Inspiration breath'd around, 

Every shade and hallowed fountain 

Murmur d deep a solemn sound. Gray. 

VOL. I. C 


Even Johnson, notwithstanding the ridicule he has 
thrown upon enquiries of this nature, has admitted that 
particular images may be " adumbrated by an exact and 
perceptible resemblance of sound." But the law of 
resemblance — that first great law of association — is not 
to be confined thus narrowly. If the mere sound of the 
words hiss and bah recall the cry of the animal, so may the 
muscular action, which the organs exert in pronouncing the 
words struggle, wrestle, call up in the mind the play of 
muscle and sinew, usual in those encounters. Wherever 
there is resemblance there may be association. We will 
now enquire what means our poets have used to fix their 
associations in the reader's mind, more especially in those 
cases, in which the connecting link has been the disposition 
or the action of the organs. 

In the first place, we may observe that in making any 
continued muscular effort, we draw in the breath and com- 
press the lips firmly. Now this is the very position in 
which we place the organs^ when pronouncing the letters 
4, p. I have no doubt that to this source may be traced 
much of the beauty of the following verses. 

Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheavd 

His vastness — P. L. 7 

The mountains huge appear 
Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave 
Into the clouds. P. L. /. 

The envious flood 
Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth, 
But smother 'd it within my panting bulk, 
Which almost burst to belch in the sea. jR 3. 1.4. 

But first from inward grief 

His bursting passion into plaints thus pour d. 

P.L. 9. 

Who thrusting boldly twixt him and the blow, 
The burden of the deadly brunt did bear. 

F. Q. 4. 8. 42. 

A grievous burthen was thy birth to me. 

JK3. 4. 


When the mind is seiz'd with fear and amazement, the 
lips open and voice fails us. If the surprize be sudden, a 
whispered ejaculation escapes, suppress'd almost as soon 
as utter'd. In this way I would account for that combi- 
nation of letters st 9 which Spenser and others of our older 
poets affect, whenever they have to describe this feeling. 
Its fitness for the purpose seems to lie in the sudden stop, 
which is given by the t to the whisper sound of the s — 
letters, be it observed, which are formed without the 
agency of the lips. 

The giant self dismayed with that sound 
In haste came rushing forth from inner bow'r, 
With staring countnance stern, as one astound, 
And staggering steps, to weet what sudden stour 
Had wrought that horror strange and dared his dreaded pow'r. 

F. Q. 1. 8. 5. 

Stern was their look like wild amazed steers, 
Staring with hollow eyes and stiff upstanding hairs. 

F. Q. 2. 9. 13. 

He answer'd not at all, but adding new 

Fear to his first amazement, staring wide 

With stony eyes, and heartless hollow hue, 

Astonish" d stood. F. Q. 1.9. 24. 

When too the sinews are overstretched, or shaken with 
sharp and jerking efforts, the same kind of broken breath- 
ing generally follows the strain upon them. The sound 
too is harsh and grating. Hence, in part at least, the 
effect produced by the combinations st, str 9 in the follow- 
ing passages ; 

Staring full ghastly like a strangled man, 

His hair uprear'd, his nostrils stretched with struggling, 

His hands abroad display'd, as one that grasp'd 

And tugg'd for life. H 6. 

But th' heedful boatman strongly forth did stretch 
His brawny arms, and all his body strain. 

F. Q. 2. 12. 21. 

c 2 


There is little doubt, however, that the chief link of as- 
sociation in these passages is the difficult muscular action, 
which is call'd into play in the prounciation of ttr. 

Under the influence of fear the voice sinks into a whis- 
per. Hence in describing that passion, or such conduct 
as it generally accompanies — deceit or caution — we find 
the whisper-letters peculiarly effective. 

With sturdy steps came stalking on his sight 

A hideout giant, horrible and high. F. Q. 1. 7- S. 

The knight himself e'en trembled at his fall, 

Bo huge and horrible a mass it seem'd. 

F. Q. 1. 12.55. 
So daunted when the giant saw the knight. 
His heavy hand he heaved up on high. 

F.Q. 1.7.14. 
And pious awe, that fear'd to have offended. P. L. 

His fraud is then thy fear, which plain infers 
Thy equal fear that my firm faith and love 
Can by his fraud be shaken and seduc'd. P. L. 9. 

Fit vessel fittest imp of fraud in whom 
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide. P. L. 9. 

The whisper letters p, t, are sometimes used at the end 
of words with great effect, in representing an interrupted 
action. The impossibility of dwelling upon these letters, 
and the consequently sharp and sudden termination which 
they give to those words into which they enter, will suffi- 
ciently explain their influence. 

Till an unusual stop of sudden silence 

Gave respite. Corns. 

Sudden he stops, his eye is Jut'd, away ! 

Away ! thou heedless boy. Child* HmU, 1. 

All unawares 

tiering his pinions vain, pi*mk down he irapt 
thoMsad fathom deep Pur. Lost, 2. 

TV pilgrim oft 

head of might, said his orisons, beare 


Aghast the voice of time ! disparting tow' rs, * 

Tumbeling all precipitate, down dasKd, 
Rattling aloud, loud thundering to the moon. 

Dyer's Ruins of Rome. 

Little effort is wanted, as Johnson once observed, to 
make our language harsh and rough. It cost Milton no 
trouble to double his consonants, and load his line with 
rugged syllables, when he described the mighty conflict 
between his angels. 

But soon obscur'd with smoke allheav'n appear' d 

From those deep-throated engines belch'd, whose roar 

Embowell'd with outrageous noise the air 

And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul 

Their dev'lish glut, chain'd thunderbolts and hail 

Of iron globes. P. L. 6. 

But when he chose, he could also glide upon his vowels 
and make his language as smooth as the Italian. 

And all the while harmonious airs were heard. P.L.9. 

With all that earth or heaven could bestow 

To make her amiable, on she came. P. Z. 9. 

■ The serpent sly 
Insinuating wove with Gordian twine 
His braided train. P« •£. 

Milton's verses, however, lose half their beauty when thus 
insulated. It is a remark of Cowper, that a rough line 
seems to add a greater smoothness to the others ; and no 
one better knew the advantages of contrast than Milton, 
There can be little doubt that many of his harsher verses, 
some of which contain merely a bead-roll of names, were 
introduced for the sole purpose of heightening the melody 
of the lines which followed. 




The definition of a scientific term is seldom aided by its 
etymology. According to the Greek derivation, a syllable 
means a collection of letters, according to the Celtic* a ver- 
bal element. The first of these must have suggested to 
Priscian his well-known definition. The Latin gramma- 
rian pronounces a syllable, to be a collection of letters bear- 
ing the same accent, and formed by one impulse of the 
breath. Scaliger, more simply, and I think more sen- 
sibly, defines it to be a verbal element falling under one 

The objection which attaches to both these definitions 
is the vagueness of the word accent. Among the Greeks 
and Latins accent meant tone, with us it means something 
widely different. There are also Greek syllables which 
receive both a grave and a sharp tone. It is true we call 
this union of the tones a circumflex, but this is merely an 
evasion of the difficulty ; or rather, we should say, it is a 
loose expresssion, on which an erroneous definition has 
been grounded. I am also far from sure that our English 
accent in all cases pervades the syllable. On some letters 
the stress is certainly more obvious than on others. 
These difficulties might be avoided, by defining a syllable 
to be a word or verbal element, which for rythmical pur- 
poses is considered as having only one accent. 

* In Welsh, eb is an utterance ; fraetheb an oration, fraeth eloquent ; 
direb a proverb, dir true ; galareb a voice of mourning, galar mourning ; 
graetheb a climax, graeth a step ; silleb an elementary part of speech, a syl- 
lable, sill an element. Hence the Norman syllabe, and our English syllabi*. 


Properly, every syllable ought to have a distinct vowel 
sound. Such is the rule which prevailed in the Greek 
and Latin, and I believe also in our earlier dialect. At 
present it is different. Thus the word heaven is now con- 
sidered as of two syllables, though it has but one vowel, 
the second syllable consisting merely of a consonantal 

It is probable that in the earlier periods of our language 
there was no such thing as a syllable thus merely conso- 
nantal. It is certain that the critics of Elizabeth's reign 
thought a vowel essential, and though many syllables were 
held to be doubtful, yet in all such cases there prevailed a 
difference of pronunciation, as to the number of the vowel- 
sounds. At present we have many words, such as hea- 
ven, seven, &c. which are used in our poetry sometimes as 
monosyllables, sometimes as dissyllables, yet in neither 
case have more than one vowel- sound. The only differ 
ence in the pronunciation is, that we rest somewhat 
longer upon the final consonant, when we use them as dis- 
syllables. There can be little doubt that at an earlier pe- 
riod these words would, in such a case, have been pro- 
nounced with two vowel-sounds, heav-en, sev-en, &c. as 
they still are in some of our provincial dialects. 

It is not quite easy to say, why all the early systems of 
syllabification should be thus dependent upon the number 
of the vowel-sounds. Every letter, except p, t, k> may be 
dwelt upon during a finite portion of time, and if we also 
except b, d, g, the consonants may be lengthened just as 
readily as the vowels. There is therefore only a partial 
objection to the system, which should even divide a word 
into its literal elements. If we excepted the six letters 
by d> ff, p> tj kj and joined them in pronunciation to those 
immediately preceding or succeeding, I can see no a priori 
objection to a system even thus simple. Musical com- 
posers take this liberty without scruple in adapting words 
to music, and often split a monosyllable into as many 
parts as it has letters. 


The probable reason is the much greater importance of 
the vowel in the older dialects. In those languages which 
had a temporal rhythm, verse must have been spoken in 
a kind of recitative ; and such to this day is the manner in 
which the Hindoos recite their Sanscrit poemg. The more 
grateful sound of the vowels would naturally point them 
out a3 best fitted for musical expression, and on these the 
notes would chiefly rest. Again, the tendency of language 
is to shorten the vowels. Most of our present short 
vowels were pronounced by the Anglo-Saxons with the 
middle * quantity, and some with the long. Those knots 
of consonants too, which are so frequent in our language, 
unloose themselves as we trace them upwards. The 
vowels reappear one after the other, and as we advance 
we find their quantity gradually lengthening. There are 
dissyllables which expand themselves, even within the 
Anglo-Saxon period, tc six syllables, and the number 
might be doubled, if we traced them still further by the 
aid of the kindred dialects. This accumulation of conso- 
nants and shortening of the vowel made the voice rest the 
longer on the consonantal portion of the word, and seems 
at length to have paved the way for consonantal syllables. 

In tracing the gradual extinction of our syllables, I 
shall first call the reader's attention to the final e. The 
loss of the initial syllable will then be considered ; and 
afterwards the case of those vowels which have at any 
time melted into diphthongs, or have otherwise coalesced 
into one syllable. The loss of the vowel before different 
consonants will then be matter of investigation ; and we 
shall conclude the chapter by noticing such syllables as 
are formed by the coalition of two or more distinct words. 


The following are instances of French substantives 
which retained their final e after they were introduced 
into our language ; 

* See chap. v. 


Upon her knees she ganto falle, 

And with | sad cotm\tenan\ce : knel|eth 8 till |,* 
Till she had herd, what was the lordes will. 

Chau. The Clerkes Tale. 

As to my dome ther is non that is here 
Of Eloquen\cei that | shall be | thy pere|. 

Chau. The Frankeleins Prologue. 

Than had|de he spent]: all | his philos\ophi\e, 
Ay Questio quid juris ! wolde he crie. 

Chau. Prologue. 

And God that siteth hie in Magistee, 

Save all this com\payni\e : gret | and smalje, 

Thus have I quit the miller in his tale. 

Chau. The Reeves Tale. 

Till Erewyn wattir fysche to take he went, 
Sic fan \ tasi\e: fell | in his | intent. | 

Wallace, I. 370. 

We find this syllable preserved also in the plural, 

And min | ben al|so : the mal\adi\es col|de, 
The derke tresons and the castes olde. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

He was a jangler and a goliardeis, 

And that | was most| : of sin|ne and har|lotri|es, 

Wei coude he stelen corne and tollen thries.f 

Chau. Prologue. 

We also have the e, which closes the French adjective. 

This ilke noble quene 

On her shoulders gan sustene 
Both the armes, and the name 
Of tho | that had|de : larg\e fam|e. 

Chau. House of Fame. 

* The vertical line always follows an accented syllable, and the colon (:) 
indicates the place of the middle pause y of which we shall have to say 
more in Chapter VII. 

t Thries is always a dissyllable in Chaucer. 


A larg\e man| he was | : with ey|en 8tep|e, 
A fairer burgeis is ther non in Chepe. 

Chau. Prologue to Cant. Tales. 

His conferred sovereignty was like 

A larg\e sail] : fall j with a fore] right wind| 

That drowns a smaller bark. Fletcher, Prophetess. 

In rotten ribbed barck to passe the seas, 

The for|rajne landesj : and straung\ie sites | to see| 

Doth danngers dwell. Tuberville to his Friend P. 


The most frequent vowel endings of Anglo-Saxon 
substantives were a, e> u. All the three were, in the 
fourteenth century, represented by the e final. We 
meet, however, with substantives in e which have two, 
and in some cases three, Anglo-Saxon substantives cor- 
responding to them ; and when we find all the three end- 
ings in Anglo-Saxon, it is difficult to say which is repre- 
sented by the e. Even when we only know of one Anglo- 
Saxon ending, there is always a possibility of the others 
existing, though they may not have fallen within the com- 
pass of our reading. 1 shall first give examples of the e 
which answers to the Anglo-Saxon a. 

All the Anglo-Saxon nouns in a are masculine, and 
belong to what Rask terms the first declension, as nama a 
name, tima time, mona the moon. 

And hast bejaped here dnk Theseus, 

And falsjely chang|ed hast| : they nam\e thus] — 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

A knight ther was, and that a worthy man, 
That fro | the tim\e : that | he firste ] began | 
To riden out, he loved chivalrie, 
Trouth and honour, fredom and curtesie. 

Chau. Prologue. 
His sadel was of rewel bone, 
His bridel as the sonne shone. 

Or as | the mon\e light |. 

Chau. Sire Thopas. 


The Anglo-Saxon nouns in e belong to various genders 
and declensions. A great number of them are feminines 
and neuters belonging to the first declension. Among the 
feminine nouns are sunne the sun, heorte the heart, rose 
the rose ; eare the ear, is neuter. There are also mascu- 
line and neuter nouns in e, which belong to other declen- 

Thus the day they spende 

In rev | el, till| : the son\ne gan | descend |e. 

Chau. The Clerkes Tale. 

And thus | with good | hope : and | with hert\e blith| 

They taken their leave. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Fresher than the May with flowres newe 

For | with the ros\e col|our : strof | hire hew|e. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 
• He smote me ones with his fist, 
For that I rent out of his book a lefe, 
That | of the stroke| : myn er\e wex | al defe.| 

Chau. The Wifof Bathes Prol. 
Nouns in u were generally feminine, as scolu school, 
lufu love, sceamu shame, lagu law ; but there were also some 
masculines belonging to another declension, as sunu a son, 
tvudu a wood, &c. 

Full soth | is sayde] : that lov\e ne | lordship| 
Wol nat, his thankes, have no felawship. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 
It is | a sham\e : that | the pejple shal| 
So scornen thee. Chau. The Second Nunnes Tale. 

With empty womb of fasting many a day 
Receiv|ed he | the law\e : that | was writ | en 
With Goddes finger, and Eli wel ye witen — 
He fasted long. Chau. The Sompnoures Tale. 

No maister sire quod he, but servitour, 

Though | I have had | in schol\e : that | honour], 

Chau. The Sompnoures Tale. 

Beforje hire stood) : hire son\e Cup|ido| 
Upon his shoulders winges hadde he two. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 


And as she cast her eie aboute, 

She sigh clad in one suite a route 

Of ladies, wher they comen ride 

AjloDge unjder : the wood\de sid|e. Gower. 

We also have the Anglo-Saxon ending the, a distinct 

And wel 1 wot wi thou ten help or grace 

Of thee, | ne may | my streng\the : not | avail |le. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 
I preise wel thy wit, 
Quod | the Frank |elein : considering | thy you\the 
So felingly thou spekest, sire, I aloue thee 
As to my dome, ther is non that is here 
In eloquence that shall be thy pere. 

Chau. The Frankeleines Prol. 

Such of these endings as survived till the sixteenth cen- 
tury changed the e for y, and were gradually confounded 
with the adjectives of that termination. There can be 
little doubt that the Kelly and woody of the following 
extracts were the Anglo-Saxon helle and wudu. 

Free Helicon and franke Parnassus hylls 
Are hel\ly haunts | : and ranke | pernic|ious ylls|. 
Baldwin M.for M. Colling bourne, 2. 

The satjyrs scorn | their wood\y kind|, 

And henceforth nothing fair but her on earth they find. 

Fairy Queen. 
There were a few Anglo-Saxon adjectives, which ended 
in e, as ge-trewe true, newe new. 

A trew\e swink|er : and | a good | was he|, 

Living in pees and parnte charitee. Chau. Prologue. 

And swore | his oth| : as | he was trew\e knight). 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 
She was wel more blissful on to see 
Than is | the new\e : per|jenet|e tree. 

Chau. The Milleres Tale. 
An adverb was also formed from the adjective by the 
addition of an e\ a formation which flourished in the time 


of Chaucer, and cannot be considered even now as obso- 
lete. The e has indeed vanished, and the word, thus 
robbed of a syllable, is considered merely as the adjective 
used adverbially. It is, however, the legitimate though 
corrupt descendant of the present adverb, and such root 
has it taken in the language, that not all the efforts of our 
grammarians have been able to weed it out. 

And | in a cloth | of gold | : that brigh\te shone |, 
With a coroune of many a riche stone, 
Upon hire hed, they into hall hire broughte. 

Chau. The Clerkes Tale. 

Command]eth him| : and fas\te blewe | the nre|. 

Chau. Chanones Yemannes Tale. 

Wei | coude he sit|te on hors| : and/ayr|e rid|e. 

Chau. The Prologue. 

There is, however, one caution to be given. The super- 
lative of the adjective ends in ste, that of the adverb in st. 

A knight ther was, and that | a worthy man, 
That | fro the timje : that | hefirste | began | 
To riden out, he loved chivalrie. 

Chau. Prologue. 


In the history of literature there are few things more 
remarkable than the position which is now occupied by 
Chaucer. For the last three centuries he has been read 
and praised and criticised, yet neither reader, eulogist, or 
critic, have thought fit to investigate his language. When 
does he inflect his substantive ? when his adjective ? 
These are questions, which obtrude themselves in the 
study of every language, yet who has ventured to answer 
for our early English ? 

One of the difficulties in the way of this enquiry, is the 
number of dialects, which prevailed in the country from 
the eleventh to the fifteenth century. There is a wide 
distinction between the language of Layamon and of 
Chaucer, yet it is by no means easy to say whether this 


marks a difference of dialect, or is merely the change 
which our language underwent in the course of two cen- 
turies. I shall therefore confine myself to the dialect of our 
earliest classic, and notice the language of other writers, 
only as they serve for the purposes of illustration. 

In the time of Layamon the dative singular in e still 
survived, and it seems to have been occasionally used as 
the accusative singular, just as the datives of the personal 
pronouns invaded the province of their accusatives. I 
suspect this dative had become obsolete before the time of 
Chaucer ; yet there are lines which it is difficult to account 
for without its assistance. Thus, in the couplet which 
opens the poem, 

Whanne that April with his shoures sote 

The drought of March had perced to the rote — 

there is little doubt that rote is a dissyllable, for it 
rhymes with sote, which seems clearly to be the plural 
adjective agreeing with shoures. Now the common form 
of this substantive is a monosyllable rot, and unless rote 
be its dative we must conclude there is another substan- 
tive rote of two syllables — a conclusion which, though 
I would not contradict it, seems improbable. If however 
Chaucer used the dative, it must have been so rarely as 
much to lessen the value of this discussion. 

There seems to be no doubt that Chaucer used the 
old genitive plural in a, the final vowel being represented, 
as in other cases, by e. We find in old English menne, 
horse, othe, answering to the, Anglo-Saxon manna, horsa, 
cctha, the respective genitives plural of man, kors, and ath. 

Tueye feren he hadde 
That he with him ladde 
Al|le rich|e menn\e son|es, 
And alle suythe feyre gomes. 

Geste of King Horn. 
For ye aren men of this molde, that most wide walken 
And knowen countries and courtes, and men ye kinne places, 
Both princ|es paljeis : and pou|re men\ne cot|es. 

Piers Plowman. 


— — Everie year this fresbe Maie 
These lustie ladies ride aboute, 
And I must nedes sew her route 
In this manner, as ye nowe see, 
And trusse her hallters forth with me, 
And | am bat | her hars\e knavje. 

Gower. Confessio Amantis. 

That is, " and I am only their horses' groom." — in Anglo- 
Saxon, heora horsa knabe. 

We now come to a verse which both Urry and Tyrwhitt 
have done their best to spoil. Chaucer begins his exqui- 
site portrait of the Prioress with these lines ; 
Ther was also a nonne a Prioresse, 
That of hire smiling was ful simple and coy, 
Hire gret|est oth\e z n'as | but by | seint Loy. 
Where othe is the genitive plural after the superlative, 
" her greatest of oaths." The flow of the verse is as soft 
as the gentle being the poet is describing. But its beauty 
was lost on the Editors. They seem to have shrunk from 
making othe a dissyllable (a reluctance that would be per- 
fectly right if that word were in the nominative), and so, 
without the authority of a single manuscript, they intro- 
duced this jerking substitute ; 

Hire gret|est othe | : n'as | but by Seint | £loy| — 
a change which not only mars the rhythm of one of the 
sweetest passages that Chaucer ever wrote, but also brings 
us acquainted with a new saint. " Sweet Saint Loy" was 
well known, but I never met with St. Eloy in English 

The plural adjective takes e for its inflexion, as the 
Anglo-Saxon endings would lead us to expect. In illus- 
trating this and the following rules, I shall, as much as 
possible, select examples which contain the adjective both 

* When the English guns swept off the famished Frenchman as he was 
gathering his muscles, Churchyard tells us 

Some dearly bought their muscles evry week, 
Some sacrifisde their horse to swete Saint Loy. 

Siege of Leith, 7. 
Lindsay, indeed, in one of his poems, has written the word at full length 
Eloy, but, I have little doubt, elided the e in pronunciation. 


with and without its inflexion. The reason for so doing 
is obvious. 

Men loveden more derkneesis than light, for her werkis weren 
yvele, for ech man that doeth yvel hateth the light. 

Wiclif. Jon. 3. 
In these lay a gret multitude of syke men, blinde, crokid, and 
drye. Wiclif. Jon. 5. 

A frere there was, a wanton and a mery, 
A limitour, a ful solemne man, 
In all the orders foure is non that can 
So much of dalliance and fayre language — 
His tippet was ay farsed full of knives 
And pin|ne8 for to givjen :fagr\e wiv|es. 

Chau. Prologue. 
In ol\de day|es : of | the king | Artour, | 
Of which that Bretons speke gret honour. 

The Wif of Bathes Tale. 
When the adjective follows the definite article the, or 
the definite pronouns this, that, or any one of the posses- 
sive pronouns, it takes what is called its definite form. 
In the Anglo-Saxon, the definite adjective differs from the 
other in its mode of declension ; in the old English the 
only difference is the final e. 

How may ony man entre into the house of a strong man, and 
take awei his vessels, but first he bynde the stronge man, &c. 

Wiclif. Matt. 12. 

At Leyes was he, and at Satalie, 

Whan | they were won|ne : and in | the gret\e see| 

At many a noble armee had he be. Chau. Prologue. 

Wei | can the wis\e po|et : of | Florence, 
That highte Dant, speken of this sentence. 

Chau. Wif of Bathes Tale. 

And up | he rid|eth : to | the high\e bord|. 

Chau. The Squiers Tale. 

Sike lay this husbondinan, whos that the place is. 
— O der[e mais|ter : quod | this sik\e manj, 
How have ye faren sin that March began. 

Chau. The Sompnoures Tale. 


White was hire smok, and brouded all before, 
And eke behind, on hire colere aboute, 
Of coleblak silk, within and eke withoute. 
The top|es of | : hire whit\e vol|uper|e 
Were of the same suit of hire colere. 

Chau. The Milleres Tale. 

These rules prevail very widely in the Gothic dia- 
lects. They will not, however, explain all the cases in which 
the definite adjective is used, either in the Anglo-Saxon 
or in the old English dialect. The subject is too difficult 
and extensive to be discussed here. We will, however, no- 
tice one rule, which may be of importance to the gram- 
mar of both these languages. The passive participle, and 
those adjectives which partake of its character, may, I 
think, be treated at any time as indeclinable. We shall 
find many examples, when we examine the rhythms of our 
Anglo-Saxon poets. 

Of the old English verb, as used by Chaucer, it may be 
observed, that the first person singular and the three per- 
sons plural of the present tense end in e; so also the im- 
perative mood and the infinitive ; 

I put\te me | : in thy | protection, | 

Diane ! and in thy disposition. Chau. Knightes Tale. 

In olde dayes of the king Artour, 

Of which | that Bret | cms spek\e: gret | honour |. 

Chau. Wif of Bathes Prologue. 
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages, 
And palmers for to seken strange strondes, 
To ser\ve haljwes : couth | in sunjdry londjes. 

Chau. Prologue. 

The past tense generally ends in de or ede, but some- 
times it is the same as the participle in d or ed. I believe 
these two forms of the perfect to be independent, and not 
derived the one from the other. We shall not stop to discuss 
the question, but I cannot pass by the strange hypothesis 
of Tyrwhitt. That critic supposes the de to be the same 
as ed, with a transference of the vowel ; representing in 

VOL. I. D 


short the ending intermediate between the old termination 
and the present. Every one, who has opened an Anglo- 
Saxon grammar, knows, that de is the old and proper ter- 
mination of the perfect, and though I will not assert that 
the other was never used by the Anglo-Saxons {indeed, I 
think I have actually met with it in one or two instances), 
yet every English scholar is aware, that it was only a short 
time before Chaucer, that it played any considerable part 
in our language. 

As I have more than once spoken of Tyrwhitt, in terms 
very different from the eulogies which are commonly paid 
him, I would make one observation. I admit that when 
an art is in a state of advancement, such as is the present 
state of English criticism, it is disingenuous to dwell upon 
the casual blunders, or the minute inaccuracies of those 
who have preceded us. Tyrwhitt deserves our thanks for 
the manly experiment of editing our oldest classic, and 
for accumulating a decent share of general knowledge, to 
serve for his occasional elucidation. But what can we say 
of an editor who will not study the language of his author > 
— of one, who having the means of accuracy (at least to a 
great extent) within reach, passes them by, and judges of 
Chaucer's grammar in the fourteenth century by that of 
Pope in the eighteenth ? A Dane or Norwegian, with a 
competent knowledge of Anglo-Saxon, would have been a 
better judge of Chaucer's syntax than his English editor. 

That Chaucer sometimes dropt the e final is certain. 
Hire is always a monosyllable, whether it represents the 
A. S. hire (her) or the A. S. heora (their). It was also lost in 
other cases when it followed r, and perhaps when it fol- 
lowed other letters, though I would not assert as much, 
without the benefit of a better edition than Tyrwhitt's. 
Many French writers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centu- 
ries discarded their e final;, some more generally than 
others. Marotj who wrote in the reign of Francis, dropt 
it in three words, and in three only. The day will no 
doubt come, when we shall be able to give a list of all the 
words, in which Chaucer has taken the same liberty. 

cm. 35 


In the present section, we shall treat of such initial syl- 
lables as have occasionally disappeared from our language, 
and will begin with the initial vowel ; 

Hell woo | a thou [sand : % point | the day | of mar|riage, 

Make friends, invite, yes and proclaim the bands, 

Yet never means to wed. Taming of the Shrew, 3, 1. 

I'll not | be tied | to hours | : nor 'point\ed times|. 

Same, 3, 1 . 

And keep | the time | I 'point | you : for | I'll tell | you 
A strange way you must wade through. 

Fletcher. The Mad Lover, 4, 3. 

That I am guiltless of your father's death, 

It shall | as lev | el : to | your judg|ment y pear\, 

As death doth to your eye. Hamlet, 4, 4. 

No faith | so fast, [ quoth she | : but flesh | does % pair\, 
Flesh may impair, quoth he, but reason can repair. 

F. Q. 1. 7.41. 

The wrath | ful winjter: 'proch\ing on | apace|, 
With blustering blasts had all ybarde the treene. 

Sackville. M. for Mag. The Induction. 

His owne dear wife, whom as his life he loved, 
Hee durst | not trust, | : nor 'proche | unto | his bed). 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckingham, 53. 

When he had done the thing he sought, 

And as | he would | : *com\plisht and com | past all. 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckingham, 53. 

Therefore have done, and shortly spede your pace, 
To 'quaynt \ yourself [ : and com|pany | with grace |. 

Barclay. Schip of Foles. 

Lay fear aside, let nothing thee amaze, 

Ne have | despaire | : ne 'scuse | the want | of time]. 

Higgins. M. for Mag. King Albanact, 2. 

I shifted him away, 

And laid | good 'scuse | : upon | your ec|stacy|. 

Othello, 4. 1. 

D 2 


From temple's top where did Apollo dwell, 
I *sayd | to flye : | but on | the church | I fell). 

Higgins. M for Mag. King Bladud, 22. 

Several verbs, even at this day, are used sometimes 
with, and sometimes without the vowel, as to espy, to 
escape, to establish, &c. 

There are also substantives that throw away the vowel. 
Apprentice has been pronounced prentice from the days of 
Chaucer to the present ; apothecary, also, and imagination, 
not unfrequently lost their first syllables ; 

Be | not abused | with priests| : nor % poth\ecar\ies, 

They cannot help you. Fletcher. Valentinian, 5. 2. 

Thus time we waste and longest leagues make short, 

Sail seas in cockles, have and wish but for't, 

Mak|ing to take | : your *mag\ina\tions \ 

From bourn to bourn, region to region. Per. 4. 4. 

My brain, methinks, is as an hourglass, 
Wherein | my % mag\ma\tions : run | like sands). 

Ben Jonson. Every Man in his Humor, 3. 3. 

Words compounded with the old preposition a, often 
lost it in pronunciation ; 

My lord, I shall reply amazedly, 

Half sleep, \ half wakjing : but | as yet | I swear| 

I cannot truly say how 1 came here. M. N. D. 4. 1 . 

But home-bred broiles call back the conquering king, 
Warres thun|der 'bout | : the Brit|aine coasts | doth ring|. 
Niccols. M. for M. Arthur. The Argument. 


This prefix is found elided in the works of almost all 
our dramatists, but in some cases there is reason to be- 
lieve, that the word which is represented thus shorn of a 
syllable, is in fact the root of the compound, instead of 
being its remnant. We find 'long not unfrequently writ- 
ten for belong, and sometimes we have the word written 
at full length, although the rhythm requires but one 


syllable. Now, even in Chaucer's time, long was used in 
the same sense without the prefix, or any mark of elision ; 
and, as both Dutch and Germans have lang-en, to reach 
at, the probability is that long is an independent verb. 
Gin, though sedulously written 'gin, and sometimes begin 
by modern editors, may also be traced back to the times 
of Wiclif and Chaucer. I do not however recollect meet- 
ing with it in Anglo-Saxon ; another of its compounds, 
angynn-an, being generally used. The elisions which fol- 
low are among the least doubtful ; 

Let pitjy not | be believ\ed : there | she shook | 

The holy water from her heavenly eyes. Lear, 4, 3. 

And believe \ me, gen | tie youth) : tis I | weep for | her. 

Fletcher. Loyal Subject. 5, 2. 

Now, Sir, if ye have friends enow, 
Though re|al friends | : I Vlieve | are few|, 
Yet if your catalogue be fu', 

I*8e no insist ; 
But gif ye want ae friend that's true, 

I'm on your list. 
Burns Epistle to Lapraik. 

Those domestic traitors, bosom- thieves, 

Whom custom hath call'd wives ; the readiest helps 

To betray \ the head|y hus| bands : rob | the easjy. 

Ben Jonson. 

So Demophon, Duke of Athenes, 

How he forswore him falsely, 

And trai\ed Phil|lis wick|edly|. Chau, House of Fame. 

O belike \ his maj|esty | : hath some | intent | 
That you should be new christened in the Tow'r. 

Richard 3, 1 . 1 . 

Yet even in these cases there may be doubts as to the 
elision of any syllable. The Germans have trieg-en 9 to 
betray, why should not we have to tray? The b'lieve 
however of Burns points clearly to the loss of a syllable, 
supposing that the word is, as it ought to be, written ac- 
cording to the pronunciation. 


There are also certain adverbs and prepositions which 
are commonly written as though they had lost this prefix, 
fore, 'came, &c. These, however, are found as monosyl- 
lables in some of our earliest English authors, and it 
Would perhaps be safer to consider them as distinct words, 
and to write them accordingly. 

. We shall have less trouble with the prefix dis, than with 
the one we have just considered. Most of the words, into 
which it enters, have been derived from foreign sources, 
and their origin carefully traced and ascertained. Still, 
however, their is difficulty in fixing upon the date of the 
corruption. It is undoubtedly of a very early antiquity, 
and probably of the twelfth century. 


Each bush | a bar | : each spray | a ban|ner ' splay ed,\ 
Each house a fort our passage to have stayed. 

Mirr . for Mag .p. 414. 

■ A storm 

In | to a cloud | of dust | . 'sperst | in the air | 
The weak foundations of that city fair. 

Spenser. Visions of Bellay. 

And 'sdain\ful piide \ : and wil|ful ar|rogance. 

Spenser. Mother Hubbard? s Tale. 

I 'sdained | subj6c|tion | : and | thought one | step high|er 
Would set me highest. p. Ll 4. 50. 

And king Ardreus, tyrant vile ! 
His aged -father 'stroyde. 

Higgins . M for M. King Torres. 
When f he is 'strest | : than | can he swim | at will), 
Great strength he has, both wit and grace there till. 


Hee thought by cruell feare to bring 

His subjects under, as him liked best, 

But loe | the dread | : wherewith [ himself | was 'strest. 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckingham, 39. 
Labour had gien it up for good, 
Save swains their folds that beetling stood, 
While Echo, listning in the wood, 
Each knock | kept 'stinct\ly counting. Clare. 


Bat as be nigher drew he easily 
Might 'stern | that it | was niotf: his sweet | est sweetj.. 

F, Q, 3. JO. 22. 

I once thought that the disciple of the following verse 
fell under the present rule, and was to be pronounced 

And bitter penance with an iron whip 
Was wont him once to disciple every day. 

F< Q. 1. 10.27. 

but elsewhere, when used as a word of three syllables, 
Spenser accents it dis\ciple\, and we often find it written 
disple in the early part of the sixteenth century. Such 
was doubtless its pronunciation in the line before us. 

It may be observed here, though it does not strictly 
fall under the present head of our subject, that Shakespeare 
has used 'tide for decide, 

To 'tide | the quar|rel : are | impanjeled 

A host of thoughts. Sonnet 46. 

* * ' 


We are now to consider such syllables, as are rendered 
doubtful by the meeting of two vowel sounds. We will 
begin with those which contain the sounds represented by 
ay 9 and ow\ 

There were many dissyllables in the Anglo-Saxon, 
which contained in the first syllable the diphthong <g, fol- 
lowed by a g. All these have now lost the g y and become 
monosyllables, aafager fair, stager stair, snag el snail. 

We learn, from the mode of spelling that prevailed 
some centuries back, and from the pronunciation which 
still lingers in our provinces, that the first change was that 
of the g into a y > foyer, stayer, &c. &c. The next step 
seems to have been to drop the y, and pronounce the 
words for-ir, sta~ir, &c, and to this mode of pronunciation 
our present orthography was accommodated* They finally 
became monosyllables. 


There were other words which had also g for the mid- 
dle letter, and a or u in the first syllable ; these generally 
turned the g into w> as agen own, fugel fowl ; a use of 
the w which was already known to the Anglo-Saxon, for 
example, infeower four. By degrees the w was dropt, and 
after some farther time these words also became mono- 

The dissyllables containing y and w seem to have been 
once so numerous in our language, that many words, both 
English and foreign, were adapted to their pronunciation, 
and thus gained a syllable; scur, A. S. became shower, 
and fleur, Fr. became flower. Change of pronunciation 
has again reduced them to their original dimensions. 

And soft | unto | himself | : he say\ed fie ! | 
Upon a Lord, that woll have no mercie. 

Chau. The Knight es Tale. 

Beseech | ing him | : with pray\er and | with praise |. 

Spenser. F. Q. 1. 5. 41. 

Nor crab|bed oaths | : nor pray\ers make | him pause |. 

Hall. Satires 3. 6. 

She's com | ing up | the sta\irs : now | the mns|ic — 

Fletchers Valentinian, 2.5. 

The light whereof 

Such blaz|ing bright|ness : through | the a\er threw |, 
That eye mote not the same endure to view. 

F. Q. 1.8. 19. 

Save hazell for forks, save sallow for rake, 
Save hul|ver and thorn | : thereof Jla\il to make|. 

Tusser. April Husbandry. 

So spake | th T archan|gel : Mi\chael | then paus'd|. P. L. 12. 

Or on | each Mi\chael | : and La|dy day| 
Took he deep forfeits for each hour's delay. 

Hall. Sat. 5. 1 

Where | is thy pow\er thenj : to drive | him back|. 

R. III. 4. 4. 


End|ing in | : a show\er still | 
When the gust has blown its fill. 

// Penseroso. 

So man 
So man 

y ho 
y ho 

So man|y ho 

urs : must 1 1 tend | my flock |, 

urs : must 
urs : must 

I take | my rest|, 

I con | template). H 6,2. 4. 

Let evjery hiljlock : befo\uer feet wide|, 
The better to come to on every side. 

Tusser. March Husbandry. 

Yet where, how, and when ye intend to begin, 
Let evjer the fin | est be first | somen in|. 

Tusser. October Husbandry, 

I wol myselven gladly with you ride, 

Right | at min ow\en cost | : and be | your guid|e. 

Chau. Prol. 

When the long o or its equivalents, were followed by a 
short vowel, Milton often melted them into a diphthong, 
in cases which have not been sanctioned by subsequent 

Or if Sion's hill 

Delight | thee more | : or Sil\oas brook, | that flow'd| 
Fast by the oracles of God. P. L. 1 . 

And with more pleasing light 

Shad\owy sets off | the face | : of things], in vain| 

If none regard. P. L. 5. 

Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust, 
Knowing who | I am | : as I | know who | thou art| ? 

P. R. 1. 

The feljlows of | his crime | : the followers rathjer. 

P. L. 1. 

THE SYLLABLES «', e\ u\ 

When the long i is followed by a short vowel, the latter 
is elided among the vulgar even to this day. There is no 
mispronunciation which now strikes the ear more offen- 
sively; yet little more than a century ago, and it must have 
been general 


And all the prophets in their age shall sing, 

Of great | Messiah | shall sing| : That laws | and rights) 

Established, &c. P. L. 12. 

March | to your sevjeral homes) : by Nio\bes stone). 

Ben Jonson. Cyntkea's Revels, 5.11. 

> 'Tis worse than murder 

To do | upon | respect) : such vio\lent out | rage. 

Lear, 2. 1. 

■ ■ ' God in judgment just, 

Subjects | him from | without| : to vio\lent lords.) 

P. L. 12. 

The mouse | may some | time help | : the lion | at neede|, 
The lyttle bee once spilt the eagles breed. 

Dolman. M.forM. Hastings, 21. 

» Your several colours, Sir, 
Of | the pale cit|ron : the | green lion | the crow). 

B.Jons. The Alchemist, 22. 

Who tore | the lion\ : as | the lion tears | the kid). 

Samson Agon. 

■ ■■ Half on foot, 
Half flying \ behoves | him now| : both oar | and sailj. 

P. L. 2. 

With flowers fresh their heads bedeckt, 

The fairies dance in nelde, 
And wanton songs in mossye dennes, 

The Drids | and Satfyrs yielde|. 

Googe's Zodiake of Life. Taurus. 

His knights | grow rio\tous : and | himself | upbraids | us 
On every trifle. Lear, 1. 3. 

The noise 

Of riot | ascends | : above | their loft |iest tow'rs|. P. L. 1. 

Pluck the lin'd crutch from the old limping sire, 
With | it beat out | his brains) : pie\ty and fear) 
Decline, &c. T. of A. 4. 1. 

Is pie\ty thus | : and pure | devojtion paid) ? 



Thy words with grace divine 

Imbued | bring to | their sweet [ness : no | satie\ty 

P. L. 8. 

And | with satie\ty seeks | : to quench | his thirst | — 

T. of the Shrew, 1. I. 

■ Who, having seen me in my worst estate, 
Shunn'd | my abhorr'd | socie\ty : but | now findjing 
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms 
He fasten'd on my neck. Lear, 5.3. 

For so|litude | sometimes) : is best | socie\ty. P.L. 9. 

as well might recommend 

Such sol|itude | before] : choicjest socie\ty. 

P.R. 1 . 303. 

These verses of Milton have bewildered the critics. 
Mitford and Todd both give to society four syllables. 
The former reads the Verse with six accents, 

For sol|itude | sometimes | : is best | socijetyj 
the latter ends it with two unaccented syllables, 
For sol|itude | sometimes | : is best | soci]ety. 


Neither of these rhythms is to be found in the Par. 
Lost. There is little doubt that Tyrwhitt scanned these 
lines in the same way as Todd. He talks of Milton using 
the sdrucciolo ending in his heroic poems. These are 
the only verses which in any way countenance such a 

The elision of the vowel after the long e is rare. 

For when, alas ! I saw the tyrant king 

Content not only from his nephues twayne 

To rive | worlds bLsse| : but aljso all | worlds being\, 

Sans earthly gylt ycausing both be slayne, 

My heart agrisde that such a wretch should raigne. 

Sackville. M.forM. Buckingham, 49. 

As being | the con|trary| : to his | high will] 

Whom we resist — P* L 1. . 


Seeing too | much sad|ness : hath | congeal'd | your blood |. 

T. of the Shrew \ Induction^ 2. 

The elision after the long u is still more rare, 

Full many a yeare the world lookt for my fall, 

And when I fell I made as great a cracke 

As doth an oak, or mighty tot t ring wall, 

That whirl | in g wind | doth bring| : to ruin \ and wracke. 

Churchyarde. M.for M. fVolsey, 69. 

When the short i or short e was followed by a, as it 
sounds in pate, Milton and his contemporaries sometimes 
melted the vowels into a diphthong ya. In modern prac- 
tice we carefully distinguish between them. 

With tears 

Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air 
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign 
Of sor|row unfeign'd| : and hu\milia\tion ineek| — 

P. L. 10. 

To conquer Sin and Death, the two great foes, 

By hu\milia\tion : and | stong suf |fe ranee | — P. R. I . 

Let me 

Interpret for him, me his advocate 

And pro \ pitta \ Hon: all | his works | on me| 

Good or not good ingraft. P. L. 12. 

Instructed that to God is no access 

Without | mediator : whose | high of |fice now| 

Moses in figure bears. P. L. 12. 

Then | doth the thea\tre: ech|o all | aloud, | 
With glorious noise of that applauding crowd. 

HalVs Sat. 1.3. 

In the country, even to this day, the accent is thrown 
upon the middle syllable, thea\tre, but the word is always 
pronounced as having three syllables. 

When the short i or short e was followed by a short 
vowel, they often formed two syllables in cases where we 
now always melt them into a diphthong, or elide the first 


: — A broche of gold ful shene, 

On which was first y writen a crowned A, 

And af |ter, ajmor vinjcit : om\nia\. Chau. Prol. 

But | the captiv*d| : Acra\sia \ he sent], 

Because of travel long, a nigher way. F. Q. 3. 1. 2. 

Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece, 
Roam |ing clean through | the bounds | ; oi A\sia\. 

Com. of Errors, 1.1. 

The vines | and the o\siers : cut | and go set|, 
If grape be unpleasant, a better go get. 

Tusser. February Husbandry. 

Himself | goes patch'd| : like some | bare cot\tyer\, 
Lest he might aught the future stock appeire. 

Hall Sat. 2. 

He vaunts his voice upon a hired stage, 

With high | -set steps] : and prince |ly car\riage\. 

Hall Sat. 1.3. 

When the words end in ence, ent, or an> the additional 
syllable now sounds very uncouthly. 

Well coude he fortunen the ascendent 

Of | his imag|es : for | his pa\tient\. Chau Prol. 

TV nnskiljful leech | : murjdered his pa\tient\, 

By poison of some foul ingredient. Hall. Sat. 2. 4. 

Contrary to : the Rojman an\cients\> 

Whose words were short, and darksome was their sense. 

Hall. Sat. 3 book. Prol. 

Whose 8cep|ter guides[ : the flow|ing o|cea»|. 

B. Jon. Cynthia s Rev. 55. 

No airy fowl can take so high a flight — 
Nor fish can dive so deep in yielding sea — 
Nor fearful beast can dig his cave so low — 
As | that the air| : the earth | or o|ciaft,| 
Should shield them from the gorge of greedy man. 

Hall, Sat. 3. 1. 

But by far the most common instance of this resolution 
of syllables occurs in our substantival ending ion. From 


the 1 4th to the 17th century this termination expanded 
into two syllables whenever the verse required it. 

Full swe|tely| : herdje he confes\sion\, 

And pleas | ant was| : his ab\solu\tion\. Chau. ProL 

He can the man that moulds in secret cell 

Un|to her hap|py : man\sion | attain |. F. Q. 2.3. 4. J. 

Tis the list 

Of those that claim their offices this day 

By cusjtom of | : the cor \ona\tion\ . H 8, 4. 1. 

My muse would follow those that are foregone, 
But can | not with| : an Eng|lish pin\ion\. 

Hall. Sat 3. ProL 

Before we close this section I would add a word or two 
respecting the diphthong ea. This diphthong, though its 
representative still keeps its place in our orthography, 
has long since been obsolete. In our provinces, however, 
where it still lingers, we often hear it resolved into a 
dissyllable, e-at, gre-at, me-at 9 &c. I have watched with 
some care, to see if it ever held the place of a dissyllable 
in our poetry, as in such case Our Anglo-Saxon and early 
English rhythms might be seriously affected. My 
search has not been successful, and the result has been 
a strong conviction, that the ea 9 which so freqently occurs 
in our Anglo-Saxon poems, was strictly diphthongal. 

I think, however, that in one or two instances this reso- 
lution of the diphthong has actually taken place, as in the 
following stave, 

Now shall the wanton devils dance in rings, 

In ev|ery mead| : and ev|ery he\ath hore|, 
The elvish fairies and the gobelins, 

The hoofed satyrs silent heretofore. 

Hull Elegy on Dr. Wkitaker, 

This English diphthong will, of course, not be con- 
founded with the ea that occurs in certain French words, 
and which was not unfrequently resolved into two syl- 


That ther n* is erthe, water, fire, ne aire, 
Ne cre\atur\e : that of | hem uoa|ked is| 
That may me hele or don comfort in this. 

Chau. The Knight es Tale. 


The subjects of the present section are the nasals wi, n 9 
ng 9 and the liquids / and r. Of these letters two, namely, 
n and /, occasionally form consonantal syllables ; the re- 
maining three cannot form a syllable without a vowel. 
The following are instances of the vowel having been 
dropt and the syllable lost. 

But always wept, and wailed night and day 
As bias | ted blosm | thro heat] : doth lanjguish and | decay |. 

F. Q. 4. 8. 2. 

Amongst them all grows not a fairer flower 

Than is | the hloosm\ : of come|ly courjtesyj, 

Which, though it on a lowly stalk do bower, 

Yet brancheth forth in brave nobility. F. Q. 6. 4. 

The short vowel was sometimes elided before the m, 
even when the consonant was found in another syllable. 

Hewn | out of ad\amant rockj : with engjines keen|. 

F. Q. 1. 7.33. 

As if | in ad\amant rock | it had | been pight|. 

F. Q. 1. 11. 25. 

Legitimate Ed|gar : I | must have | your land|. L. 1.2. 

Far be the thought of this from Henry's heart, 

To make | a shamjbles : of I the parliament house |. 


They | were a feare| : un|to the en|myes* eye.| 

Churchyard. Siege of Leith, 

I profess 

Myself | an en\emy : to | all oth|er joy|. Lear, 4. 4. 

* This author always makes enemy a dissyllable, and spells it as in the 


So spake | the en\emy : of | mankind, | enclos'd) 

In serpent. P. L. 9. 

And next to him malicious Envy rode 
Upon a rav'nous wolf, and still did chaw 
Between | his cank|red teeth | : a ven\omous toad| 

F. Q. 1.4. 30. 

These things did sting 
His mind | so ven\omously\ : that burn|ing shame] 
Detains him. Lear, A. A. 

And what have kings that privates have not too, 
Save cer\emony\ : save gen|eral cer\emony\ y 
And what | art thoo| : thou i|dol cer\emony\ — 

Henry 5, 4. 1 . 

On the other hand we now always drop the penultimate 
e of French words in ment, which once formed an inde- 
pendent syllable. 

Thus by on assent 

We ben | accord |ed : to | his jug\ement\. Chau. ProL 

And who | that wol| : my jug\ement | withsay|, 

Shall pay for all we spenden by the way. Chau. ProL 

For of his hands he had no government, 

Ne car'd | for blood | : in his | aveng\ement\. 

F. Q. 1. 4. 34. 

Then many a Lollard would in forfeitinent, 

Bear pamper fag|gots : o'er | the pav\ement\. Hall. Sat. 

He came | at his| : command\ement | on hi|e, 
Tho* sente Theseus for Emilie. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

The wretched woman whom unhappy hour 

Hath now | made thrall | : to your | command\ement\. 

F. Q. 1. 2. 22. 

The word regiment is now also generally made a dis- 
syllable, though we occasionally hear it pronounced with 
three syllables, as in the verses, 

The re\giment\ : was willing and | advanc'dj. 

Fletcher. oadicea, 2. 4. 


The reg\iment\ : lies half | a mile | at least | 

South from the mighty power of the King. R 3, 5.3. 

M, we have said, cannot form a syllable without a vowel. 
This rule holds both as regards our spelling and our pro- 
nunciation ; but one or two centuries ago the termination 
sm was often pronounced som, as it is among the vulgar to 
this day. 

Great Solomon sings in the English quire, 

And is become a new-found sonnetist, 

Singing his love, the holy spouse of Christ, 

Like as she were some light-skirts of the East, 

In migh|tiest ink\hvrnis\ms : he | can thithjer wrest] . 

Hall Sat. 1. 8. 

All this | by syl\logis\m true! 

In mood and figure he would do. Butlers Hudibras. 

Enthu\sias\ms past | redemption 
Gone in a galloping consumption. 

Burns Letter to John Goudie. 

These words should have been written as pronounced, 
inkhornisom, syllogisom, &c. 

N is one of the two letters, which form consonantal 
syllables. It is difficult to say when it first obtained this 
privilege, but it could hardly have been so early as the 
reign of Elizabeth. In that reign, Gabriel Harvey ob- 
jected to Spenser's use of heaven, seven, &c. as dissyllables, 
the same not being " authorized by the ordinarie use 
and custom." He would have them written and spoken 
" as monosyllaba, thus, heavn, seavn, &c." I think there- 
fore that heaven, seven, &c. were commonly pronounced 
then, as now, with only one vowel ; and that when Spen- 
ser and his contemporaries made them dissyllables, they 
imitated an obsolete, or rather a provincial dialect, and 
pronounced them with two vowels. This latter mode 
of pronunciation has left traces behind it; even yet we 
may occasionally hear heav-en, sev-en, &c. among the 

vol. i. e 


There are four terminations into which n enters, an, en, 
in, on i of these en is now merely consonantal,* as in even ; 
an and on, sound like un, as in Roman, reason ; and in 
retains its proper sound as in griffin. Our poets use en 
as a syllable whenever it suits their convenience ; though, 
generally speaking, the only difference in the pronuncia- 
tion is a lengthening of the n. The terminations an, on, 
and in, are now commonly used as syllables; although 
Milton and some of his contemporaries elide the vowel, 
and tack, n to the preceding syllable, when their rhythm 
requires it. 

Heaven 8 | is the quar|rel : for | heaven's substitute) 
Hath caus'd his death. ft 2, 1.2. 

Ed | ward's seven sons| : whereof | thyself | art one,| 

Were | as seven phi|als : of | his sa|cred blood, | 

Or seven | fair branch |es : spring |ing from | one root| . 

R% 1.3. 

And Palamon, this woful prisoner, 

Was risen, | and romjed : in | a chambre | on high| . 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Seems another morn 

Risen | on mid noon| : some great | behest | from heaven | 
To us perhaps it brings. P. L. 5. 

In an|y case| : that migh\te fallen], or hap|pe. 

Chau. Prol. 

Fallen cher|ub to | be weak| : is mis|era|ble. P. L. 

One of our leading reviews scanned the last verse 

Fal|len cher|ub, to be weak] : is mis|era|ble. 

and Mitford almost laughs at the notion of heav'n and 
ffiv'n being pronounced as monosyllables ! 

The following are examples of the termination on, 

* This is too unqualified ; even educated men often pronounce risen, 
chosen, with two syllables, rizun, chozun, &c. 


— Fardest * from him is best 

Whom reason | hath e|qualTd : force | hath made | supreme) 
Above his equals. P. L. 1. 

Charon | was afraid) : lest thirs|ty Gul|lion| 

Should have drunk dry the river Acheron. Hall. Sat. 3. 6. 

There is sometimes the same elision of the vowel, and 
the same loss of a syllable, in the middle of a word ; 

And thereto had he ridden no man ferre, 

As wel | in Cristen\dom : as | in Heth|enes|se, 

And ever honoured for his worthinesse. Chau. Prol. 

Though | of their names) : in heaven\ly recjords now | 
Be no memorial. P. L. 1. 

My curse upon your whins tane hearts, 

Ye Edinburgh gen) try ! 

A tithe o' what ye waste at carts, 

Wad stow'd his pantry. 


It may be here observed, that the elision of the vowel 
is generally the first step towards corruption. Ed'nburg 
was merely introductory to E'enboro 9 . 

The short vowels were also very frequently elided before 
«, when that letter began the following syllable. 

Un|to ourselves : | it hap\neth oft | among|. 

Drayton. M.forM. Cromwell, 120. 

My council swaied all, 

For still | the king] : would | for the card\nall call). 

Drayton. M.for M. Wolsey, 35. 

They are but blinde that wake when fortune sleeps, 
They worke in vayne that strive with streame and tide, 
In doub|le guide | they dwell | : that dest\nye keeps). 

Drayton. M.forM. Wolsey ,17. . 

Dest\iny by death | : spoiled fee|ble na|ture's frame). 

Hall. Elegy on Dr. Whitaker. 

* Our Editors will not believe that even Milton could write English ; 
and "correct" his fardest, perfet, and other barbarisms of the like kind, 
without the least hint to the reader. 



Pride pricketh men to flatter for the prey, 
T'oppresse | and poll | : for maint\nance of | the same|. 

Chalm. M. for M. Northfolke, 8. 

And each 

In oth|er's countenance read | : his own | dismay. P. L. 2. 

I was despisde, and banisht from my bliss, 
Discount\naunste, fayne | : to hide | myself | for shame |. 

Higgins. M. for M. King Emerianus. 

Wisdom in discourse with her 

Los|e8 discount\enancd : and | like fol|ly shows |. P. L. 8. 

Ignom'ny was further corrupted into ignomy ; 

Thy ig\nomy | : sleep with | thee in | thy grave |. 

1 H4, 5. 4. 

Hence broth |er lackjey : ig\nomy | and shame] 

Pursue thy life. Tro. and Cress* 5. 

When the termination en followed r, it often formed a 
syllable* in cases where the vowel is now elided, as boren, 
toren, &c. 

Eke Zealand's pit|eous plaints | : and Hoi [land's tor\en hair. 

Spenser. Mourning Muse of Thestylis. 

When ng followed the short i at the end of a word or 
syllable, the vowel appears sometimes to have been elided 
among our dramatists ; 

Having nei|ther subjject : wealth, | nordi|adem|. 2 H 6, 4. 1. 

Sometimes he angers me 

With telling \ me of | the mold- | warp : and | the ant. 

H4, 3, I. 

Buckingham, doth York | : intend | no harm | to us | ? 

2H6, 5. 1. 

Humphjrey of Buckingham : 1 1 accept | thy greet |ing. 


Why Buckingham is | the traijtor : Cade | surpris'd | ? 

2 H 6, 4. 8. 

— — My Lord Cobham, 
With whom | the Ken|tish men | : will willing\ly rise|. 



This oath | I witting\ly take | : and will | perform |. 

3H6, 1.1. 

Our dramatists use a very irregular metre, and are 
therefore not the safest guides in a matter of this kind ; 
but when we find a word recurring again and again, in 
situations where our prevailing rhythms require the sub- 
traction of a syllable, I think we may fairly conclude such 
to have been the pronunciation of the poet. 

L, I believe, in pronunciation no longer follows any 
consonant at the end of a word or syllable excepting d, t, r. 
In the language of the present day, we generally hear a 
short u before it. The difference between it and the letter 
n in this respect must, I think, be obvious if the pronun- 
ciation of evil be compared with that of heaven. The first 
sounds clearly with two vowels e-vul> but if we were to 
pronounce the latter hev-un it would at once strike us 
uncouth and vulgar. 

In the Anglo-Saxon, 7 was very generally used without 
a vowel, as adl sickness, swegl the sky, susl sulphur. In 
the early English we changed this mode of spelling, and 
adopted the French ending U in the place of /, writing 
settle, for instance, instead of the A. S. setl. We have 
preserved this orthography, except in cases where I fol- 
lows r, although we have since changed the pronunciation 

We will first give examples in which the vowel has 
been elided, and a syllable lost in consequence ; 

What evil | is left | undone | ; when man | may have | his will | ? 
Man ever was a hypocrite, and ever will be still. 

Tussers Omnipotence of God, 
Each home-bred science percheth on the chair, 
While sa|cred arts | : grovel \ on the ground|sel bare|. 

Hall. Sat. 2. 3. 
Foul devil, | for God's | sake hence : | and trouble | us not|. 

R3, 1.2. 
But when to sin our biass'd nature Jeans, 
The care|ful devil \ : is still | at hand | for means|. 

Dryden. Abs. # Arch. 


This noble \ exam | pie : to | his shepe | he yaf|. Chau. ProL 

So noble | a mas|ter fallen | : all gone), and not| 

One friend to take his fortune by the arm, 

And go along ? T. of A. 4. 1. 

When this advice is free, I give, and honest, 

Pro\bal to thinkjing : and | indeed | the course | 

To win the Moor again. Othello, 2. 3. 

Probal is found in all the early editions, and is clearly 
a corruption of probable. It shows, if any proof were 
wanting, that the French ending able, was commonly used 
by our early English writers as one syllable. Such was it 
considered by Chaucer, who makes the word able corre- 
sponding to the French habile, a dissyllable. Milton 
made this ending one or two syllables, as best suited his 
verse, and such was the common practice of his contem- 
poraries. At present it is always pronounced abul, and of 
course fills the place of two syllables. When it was so 
used by our early English poets, they seem, at least in 
some cases, to have accommodated their spelling to it ; to 
have written, for example, fabitt for fable, and delectabill 
for delectable. This orthography, and in all probability 
the pronunciation which corresponded with it, prevailed 
chiefly in the North. 

And thus with fained flattery and japes 

tie made | the perjsone : and | the peple | his apes). 

Chau. ProL 
Anon | ther is | a noise | : of peple | begone | . Chau. ProL 

There was also a nonne, a prioresse, 

That | of her smil|ing : was | ful simple | and coy|. 

Chau. ProL 

The wisest heart 

Of Solomon he led by fraud to build 

His tem|ple right | against | : the temple | of God| P. L. 

And his next son, for wealth and wisdom fam'd, 
The clouded ark of God, till then in tents 
Wand|ering, shall in | a glo|rious : temple | enshrine]. 

P. L. \2. 


This house 

Is little, | the old | man : and | his peo|ple can | not 

Be well bestowed. Lear, 2. 4. 

Oft fire is without smoke, 

Peril | without show | : therefore your harjdy stroke|, 

Sir knight, withold. F. Q. 1. 1. 12. 

Of son|dry doujtes : thus they jangle | and tret|e. 

Chau. The Squieres Tale. 

Wer't | not all one | : an emp|ty eagle | were set | 

To guard the chicken from a hungry kite, 

As place Duke Humphrey for the Kings Protector ? 

2 #6, 3.1. 

And | for this tnir\acle : in | conclusion), 
And by Custance's meditation, 
The king, and many another in that place, 
Converted was, thanked be Cristes grace. 

Chau. Man ofj^awes Tale. 

Contempt, that doth incite 

Each single- |sol*d squire | : to set | you at | so light |. 

Halts Sat. 2. 1 . 

How, | Sir ! this gent [man : you | must bear | withal |. 

B.Jons. Alchemist, 1.1. 

Where nought but shadowy forms were seen to move, 

As Idle\ness fancjied in | her dream |ing moodj. Thomson. 

I 'd rath|er hear |: a braz|en candle\stick turn'd. 

1 H4,3,l. 

In the quartos we have can-stick, which appears to have 
been a common corruption in the time of Shakespear. 
In like manner, from ev'l and tfei?7come ill and deil; and 
there can be no doubt that genfman, by a further corrup- 
tion, has become our slang term gemman. Thomson 
seems to have made idleness a dissyllable, in imitation of 
Spenser, whose stanza he had adopted. 

The short vowels, when they formed independent sylla- 
bles before /, were frequently elided, and even at the pre- 
sent day the same license is occasionally taken. 


What can you say to draw 

A third | more op\ulent : than | your sis|ter ? Speak |. 

Lear, 1. I. 

Beef | that erst Herc\ule8* held] : for fin | est fare|. 

Hall. Sat. III. 3. 

Particular pains) : particular thanks | do ask|. 

B. Jons. Cynthia's Revels, V. 1 1. 

Thus was the building left 

Ridic\ulous, and | the work| : confu|sion nam'd). 

P.L. 12. 

And approve 

The fit | rebuke) : of so | ridic\ulaus heads |. 

B . Jons. Cynthia's Revels, V. 1 . 

Over there may flie no fowl but dyes 

Choakt | with the pest\lent sav|ours : that | arise|. 

Sackville. M.forM. Induction 3 1 . 


Keep 8afe|ly and war\ily : thy ut|ter most fence). 

Tusser. Sept. Husbandry. 

In worst | extremes | : and on | ike perilous] edge| 

Of battle. P.L.I. 

The sun who scarce uprisen 

Shot par\alell to | the earth | : his dew|y ray). P. L. 5. 

No ser|vant at ta|ble : use sauc\ly to talk|. Tusser. 

The shot was such there could no sound of drum me 
Be easily heard ) the time| : I you | assure |. 

Churchyard. Siege of Leith. 

For I in publique weal 

Lorde Chanc\lour was| : and had | the great | broad seal|. 

Drayton. M.for M. Wolsey, 37. 

His amner too he made mee all in haste, 
And threefolde giftes he threwe upon me still, 
His couns\lour straight | : like | wise was Wol|sey plaste). 

Drayton. M.forM. Wolsey, 15. 

• Hence Shakespeare's Ercles. 

f Hence parlous, so common among our Elizabethan writers. 


Some of our poets of the seventeenth century pro- 
nounced the vowel, in cases where it is now rejected. 
So neither this travell may seem to be lost, 
Nor thou | to repent | of this tri\fling cost|. Tusser. 

Tum\bling all| : precipitate | down dash'dj. 

Dyers Ruins of Rome. 
Which | when in vain| : he tride | with struggling ,\ 
Inflam'd with wrath his raging blade he heft. 

F.Q.I. 11.39. 
Let sec|ond broth jers : and | poor nes\tlings\ 
Whom more injurious nature later brings 
Into this naked world, let them assaine 
To get hard pennyworths. Hall. Sat. 2. 2. 

And as | it queinte| : it mad|e 2iwhis\teling\, 
As don these brondes wet in her brenning. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

My eiyes these lines with tears do steep, 

To think | how she| : through guile|ful hand\eling\, 
Is from her knight divorced in despair. 

F. Q. 1. 3. 2. 
Both star|ing fierce | : and hold|ing i\dely\ 
The broken reliques of their former cruelty. 

F. Q. 1. 2. 16. 
For half | so bold\ely\ : can ther ] no man) 
Sweren and lien as a woman can. 

Chau. The Wifof Bathes Prol. 
But trew\e ly\ : to tel|len at|te last|, 
He was in church a noble ecclesiast. Chau. Prol. 

For trew\ely\ : comfort | ne mirthje is non| 
To riden by the way, dumbe as a ston. Chau. Prol. 

Some words, in the North of England and in Scotland, re- 
tain the short vowel, when it follows an r, even to this day. 
That done | the ear \l : let|ters wrote| 
Unto each castle, fort, and hold, &c. 

Flodden Field. 475. 
Ye'll try | the war\ld : soon | my lad |. Burns, 

Twas e'en, the dew|y fields were green, 

On ev|ery blade | : the pear\ls hung|. Burns. 


In the modern pronunciation of our language, r follows 
no consonant at the end of a word or syllable. In the 
Anglo-Saxon and early English dialects such a combina- 
tion was common, and in the latter was expressed by the 
French ending re. In all these cases we now interpose a 
short u before the r, and though we retain the spelling in 
a few instances, as in acre, sepukre, mitre, &c. yet these 
words are always pronounced with the short vowel, akur, 
sepulkur, mitur, &c. 

We will, as before, begin with those cases in which the 
final syllable has been lost; 

And Palamon 

Was risen | and rom|ed : in | a chambre | on high|, 
In which he all the noble citee sigh. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

As Christ | I count | my head | : and I | a member | of his|, 
So God I trust for Christes sake shall settle me in bliss. 

Tusser's * Belief. 

Every tedious stride I make, 

Will | but remember | me : what | a deal | of world | 

I wander. R 2, 1.3. 

N' is creature living 

That ever | heard such | : anoth|er wai|menting|. 

Chau. Knightes Tale. 
I must j not suffer | this : yet | 'tis but | the lees | 
And settlings of a melancholy blood. Comus. 

Deliver J us out | of all : this be|sy drede|. Chau Clerkes Tah. 
Th' Allgiver | would be | unthank'd | : would be ) unprais*d|. 

And where | the river | of bliss | : through midst | of heav|en 
Rolls o'er Elysian fields. p. /,. 3. 

And he hadde be sometime in Chevachie 

In Flandres, | in Ar|tois : and | in Pic|ardi|e. 

Chau. Prol. 

* The extreme precision of Tusser's rhythm renders his authority, in a 
case of this kind, of great value. 


By water J he sent | tbein home | : to ev|ery land. { 

Chau. Prol. 

Her glor|ious glitter \ and light | : doth all | men's eyes | amaze). 

F. Q. 1. 4. 16. 

In proud rebellions arms 

Drew after | him the | third part | : of heav|en's sons). 

P.JL 2. 

And after into heaven ascend he did in sight, 
And sit|teth on | the right | hand there | : of God | the falker\ 
of might. Tusser's Belief. 

If | by yonr art, | : my dea|rest father, | you have|, 

Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. Tempest, 1 , 2- 

Three vollies let his memory crave 

O' pouth'r | an lead, | 

Till Echo answer from her cave, 

Tarn Samson's dead. Burns. 

Whether sayest | thou this | in er|nest : or | in play } | 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

See whe % r | their bas|est met|al : be | not moved|. 

Julius Caesar, 1. I. 

Either thou | or I | or both | : must go | with him|. 

12. and J. 3. I . 

And neither | by trea|son : nor | hostiljity | 
To seek to put you down. 

We have one of the best proofs of the elision, in the 
further corruptions such words have undergone, ov'r be- 
came o'er, ev'r ere, oth'r or 9 wheth'r whe'r; and in those 
dialects which are so intimately connected with our own, 
as almost to make part of the same language, we find 
these letters similarly affected. Thus in the Frisic faer is 
father, moar mother, broer brother, foer fodder. With a 
slight change in the orthography, we find the same words 
in the Dutch. This seems to point clearly to a similar 
cause of corruption in all these dialects. The elision of 
the vowel I believe to have been the first step. 

As this final syllable is so important an element in the 


regulation of our rhythms, one or two more instances of 
its loss may, I think, be useful ; 

— — In his rising seem'd 
A pillar | of state | : deep | in his front | engrav|en 
Deliberation sat. P. L. 2. 

Who shall go 

Before | them in | a cloud | : and pillar | of nre|. 

P.L. 12. 

Studjied the grammar | of state | : and all | the rules |. 

B. Jons. Cynthia's Revels, 3. 4. 


This hid|eous rashjness : or answer | my life, | my judg|ment. 

Lear, 1. 1. 

In the following examples the vowel is elided at the 
end of a syllable ; 
Tie | up the liber\tine : in | a field | of sweets |. 

A. and CI. 2. 1. 

What trowen ye that whiles I may preche, 
And winnen gold and silver for I teche, 
That | I wol liv|e in pover\te : wil|fully|. 

Chau. The Pardoneres Tale, 

Take poverties part | : and let | prowde for|tune go|. 

Sir T. More. Book of Fortune. 

My king|dom to | : a beggar\ly den|ier|, 

I do mistake my person all this while. R 3, 1.2. 

In the next examples the elided vowel is found in a 
different syllable from that of the r; 

Since ped\d\iug bar\barisms : gan | be in | request |. 

Hall. Sat. 2. 3. 

And specially from every shires ende 

Of Eng|lelond | : to Canterbury | they wend |e. 

Chau. Prol. 

So born I was to house and land by right, 
But in a bagg to court I brought the same, 
From Shrews\brye toune | : a seate | of an|cientfame|. 

Churchyard. Tragicall Discourse, 69. 


Des\perate revenge | : and bat | tie dan|gerous|. P. L. 2. 

And I | the while | : with sprits | welny | bereft |, 
Beheld the plight and pangs that did him strayne. 

Sackcille. M. for M. Buckingham, 87. 

The cap|tain notes | : what sol|dier hath | most spreet\. 

Churchyard. Trag. Disc. 64. 

Yon that could teach them to subdue their foes, 

Could orjder teach | : and their | high sprits | compose |. 

Waller. Panegyric. 

For this infernal pit shall never hold 

Celes|tial spirits | in bon|dage : nor | the abyss | 

Long under darkness cover. P. L. 1. 

Tendering the prec|ious safe|ty : of | my prince]. R. 2, 1. 1. 

Of daunt | less cour|age : and | considerate pride |. P. L. 1. 

On some apparent danger seen in him 

Aim'd | at your high |n ess : no inveterate mal|ice. R 2, 1.1. 

Turning our tortures into horrid arms 

Against | the tort\urer : when | to meet | the arms | 

Of his almighty engine he shall hear 

Infernal thunders. P. Z»» 

Of corm\rant kinde | : some cram|med ca|pons are|, 
The moer they eat the moer they may consuem. 

Churchyard. Tragicall Disc. 

Tim\orous and sloth |ful : yet | he pleas'd | the ear|. P. L. 2. 

Hum\ori$ts and hyp|ocrites | : it would | produce |, 
Whole Raymond families and tribes of Bruce. 

Dryden. Mac Flecknoe. 

A re|creant | : and most | degen\erate trai|tor. R 2, 1.1. 

The second verse quoted from Milton, is thus scanned 
by Tyrwhitt ; 

Celes|tial spirjits in bon|dage nor | the abyss |, 

and is produced to show that the third foot sometimes 
contained three syllables ! 

In several cases, however, the vowel was retained where 
we now reject it ; and so common must have been this 


mode of pronunciation, that we find it followed in many 
words which never properly contained an e. We find 
other words which inserted the short vowel after the long 
i or the long e, and thereby increased their dimensions by 
a syllable. 

As you liketh it sufficeth me, — 

Then | have I got | the mais\terie | quod she| . 

The Wif of Bathes T. 196. 

Here | may ye see | wel : how | that gen\teri\e 
Js not annexed to possession. 

Chau. The Wif of Bathes Prol. 

I here confess myself the king of Tyre, 

Who frigh|ted from| : his coun\try | did wed | 

The fair Thaessa. Per. 5. 3. 

Then to him stepping, from his arm did reach 
Those keys, | and made | himself) : free en\terance\ . 

F. Q. I. 8. 34. 

The raven himself is hoarse 
That croaks | the fa|tal : entrance | of Dun | can, 
Under my battlements. Macbeth. 

That he is dead, good Warwick, 'tis too true, 
But how | he died | God knows | : not Hen\ry\ . 

2H6, 3. 1. 

The Em\peress, | the mid|wife: and | myself) . 

Titus And. 4. 2. 

Crying with a loud voice, 

" Jesus maintain your royal Excellence," 
With " God | preserve | : the good | Duke Hum\phrey\ ." 

2H6, 1. 1. 

£xcep|ting none | : but good | Duke Hum\phrey\ . 

2 H6. I. 1. 

Courage yields 

No foot | to foe | : the flash |ing/|re flies|, 

As from a forge. F. Q. 1. 2. 17. 

The prattling things are just their pride, 

That sweet|ens all | : their fi\re side) . Burns. 


Sluttery to such neat excellence display 'd 
Should make | desi\re : vo|mit emp|tiness| . 

Cymbeline, 1. 7. 

A gen | tie man | of Tjy|re: my | name Per|icles. 

There *s many a soul 

Shall pay [ full de\arly j : for this | encoun|ter. 

1 HA, 5. 1. 

Arcite unto the temple walked is 
O(fi\eroe Mars | : to don | his sac|rifice| . 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Their God himself, griev'd at my liberty, 
Shot man|y at me | with | : fi\erce intent) . 

F. Q. 1. 9. 10. 


In the present section we shall discuss the remaining 
letters of our alphabet, and will begin with the close letters. 
Of these there are six, b 9 p, d, t, g, k. 

Adjectives in able and ible are sometimes pronounced 
as if the first vowel were elided. It is extremely difficult 
to say when this corruption first began. In the following 

Some time to increase his horrible cruelty 
The quicke with face to face engraved he. 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckingham, 43. 

Let fall 

Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave. 

Lear, 3. 2. 

it is clear that horrible is a dissyllable, but whether the i 
should be elided, and the word pronounced horr y ble 9 or 
ible should be pronounced as one syllable, may be doubted. 
As, however, we know that ible was often pronounced as 
one syllable, and have no distinct evidence that the pre- 
sent corrupt pronunciation was then prevalent, it would 
be safer, perhaps, to retain the vowel. 


The loss of the vowel before g or c is very rare, 

Nor the time nor place 

Will serve | our long | : inter\gator\ies. See | 
Posthumns, &c. Cymbeline, 5. 5. 

Thou ev|er young | : fresh, lov'd, | and del\kate woo|er. 

T. of A. 4. 3. 

And now and then an ample tear roll'd down 

Her dedicate cheek | : it seem'd | she was | a queen | 

Over her passion. Lear. 

Perfum|ed gloves | : and dedicate chains | of amjber. 

B. Jons. Every Man out of his H. 2. 4. 

The elision before d and t is far more common. 

The participle and preterite in ed> was often pronounced 
in our old English without the vowel. In Anglo-Saxon the 
participle ended sometimes in od or ed, sometimes in d 
simply. I do not, however, find that the elisions in our 
old English correspond with the latter class of Anglo- 
Saxon verbs ; on the contrary, in some couplets, as in the 
following, we have the same verb both a monosyllable and 
a dissyllable, 

For | in this world | : he lov 
And he | loved him | : as ten 

ed no | man so|, 
derly | again |. 
Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Good milch-cow and pasture good husbands provide, 
The residue good hus| wives : know best | how to guide | . 

Tusser. April Husb. 

The King, at length, sent me beyond the seas, 
Embas\tour then | : with mes|sage good | and greate| . 

Drayton. M.for M. Wolsey, 14. 

Know Cade | we come | : ambass\adours to | the Com|mons — 

2 H 6, 4.8. 

He|roes and her|oines shouts | : confusd\ly rose] . 

Popes Rape of the Lock. 

Edmund, I arrest thee 

On cap\ital treajson : and | in thy | arrest | 

This gilded serpent. Lear } 5. 3. 


I arrest thee, York, 

On cap\ital treajson : gainst | the King | and Crown |. 

2H6,5. 1. 

Needs | must the ser|pent now | : his cap\ital bruise) 
Expect with mortal pain. P. L. 12. 

They all are met again, 

And are | upon | : the Med\iterra\nean flotej 

Bound sadly home for Naples. Tempest, 1. 2. 

The rest | was mag\nanim\ity : to | remit |. 

Samson Agon. 

Pro|per deformity shows | not : in | the fiend| 

So horrid as in woman. Lear, 4. 2. 

Human\ity must | perforce | *. prey | on itself|. 

Lear, 4. 2. 

He knew not Caton, for his wit was rude, 

That bade | a man | shulde wed|e : his si\militude\. 

Chau. The Milleres Tale. 

Would | the nobil\ity : lay | aside | their ruth|, 

And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry. Cor. 1.1. 

Whose parents dear whilst equal destinies 

Did run aboute, and their felicities 

The favourable heavens did not envy, 

Did spread | their rule | : through all | the terr\itories\, 

Which Phison and Euphrates floweth by. 

F. Q. 1. 7. 43. 


Would be | &rar\ity : most | belov'd | if all | 

Could so become it. Lear, 4. 3. 

There is, however, one word in ty, which now always 
drops its penultimate vowel, though such vowel was re- 
tained as late as the 17th century. 

For she | had great | doubts | : of his saf\ety\. 

F.Q. 1. 11. 13. 

Nor fish can dive so deep in yielding sea, 
Though The|tis self | : should swear | her saf\ety\. 

Hall. Sat, 3. 1. 

VOL. I. P 

66 B. I. 


We now come to the dental letters, / and th. 

She's gone J a manifest ser|pent : by | her sting] — 

Sam. Agon. 

Scarf | up the pit\iful eye | : of ten|der day] — 

Macbeth, 3. 2. 

Hast thou, according to thy oath and bond, 
Brought hith|er Hen|ry Her\eford: thy | bold son| ? 

R 2, 1. 1. 

Eth, the ending of the third person singular, often lost 
its vowel. In the Anglo-Saxon the third person ended 
in ath, eth, or th, and the last ending was most prevalent. 
Many of our old English verbs, which formerly ended in 
ath, elided the vowel; though such pronunciation was 
more usual in those verbs, which took th for their Anglo- 
Saxon termination : think* th, hfth, gifth, eom'th, &c. 
were probably the direct descendants of the elder forms, 
thincth, lith, gifth, cymth, &c. 

Drowned in the depth 

Of depe desire to drinke the guiltlesse blond, 

Like | to the wolf j : with greedjy lookes, | that lepth\ 

Into the snare. 

Sackville. M. for M. Buckingham, 5. 

— — High God, in lieu of innocence, 
Imprinted hath that token of his wrath, 
To shew | how sore | : blood-guilt |iness | he hafth\. 

$. Q. 2. 2. 4. 

His 6ub]tle tongue | : like drop [ping hon|ey melfth\ 

Into the heart, and searcheth every vein, 

That ere he be aware, by secret stelth, 

His power is reft. F. Q. 1. 9. 31. 

This contraction prevailed very generally among the 
poets of the West. It occurs no less than five times in the 
following simile from Dolman, 


So mid the vale the greyhound seeing stert 
His fearful foe pursu % lh 9 before she flerfth, 
And where she turnth, he turn'th her there to beare, 
She one prey prick' th, the other safeties fear. 

M.for M. Hastings 24. 


In discussing the sibilants, the first question relates to 
the contraction of es, the ending of the plural and of the 
genitive singular. There is no doubt that this syllable 
was occasionally contracted before the time of Chaucer, 
and by that author frequently ; 

For him | was levjer ban | : at his | beddes head], 

A twenty bokes clothed in black or red 

Than robes rich, &c. Chau. Prol. 

In mor|tal bat\tailes : had|de he ben | fiften|e. 

Chau. Prol. 

It is still used when the substantive ends in a sibilant, 
and even in other cases was occasionally met with as late 
as the early part of the seventeenth century ; 

— • Arose the doughty knight 
All heal|ed of | his hurts | : and woun\des wide|. 

F. Q. 1.12.52. 

■ Were I great Sir Bevis, 
I would | not stay | his com|ing : by | your leav\es. 

B. and Fie t. Knight of the Burning Pestle. 

Farewell | madame | : my Lord\es worth|y moth|er. 

Sir Thomas More. 

Until he did a dying widow wed, 

Whiles | she lay dot|ing : on | her death\es bed|. 

Hall. Sat. 4, 1. 

No contraction was more common than that of th$ 

It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman 
That gives } the stern* st | good night | : he is | about | it. 

Macbeth, 2. 2. 



Or | when they meant | : to fare | the ftrist | of all | 
They lick'd oak-leaves besprent with honey-fall. 

Hall Sat 3. 1. 

Thus | the greafst man | : in £ng|land made ) his end|. 

Drayton. M.forM. Cromwell, 131 . 

So farre my princes prayse doth passe 
The fa\moust queene | : that ev|er was|. 

Puttenham. Parthenides, 16. 

Sometimes 8 and t belong to different syllables ; 

She has in her 

all the truth of Christians, 

And all | their constancy | ; mod\esty was made | 

When she was first intended . Fletcher Valentinian, 1 . I . 

Wilt | thou then serve | the Phil\istine : with | that strength |, 
That was expressly given thee to annoy them. Samson Agon. 

I* the dead of night 

The mm\isters for | the pur|pose : hur|ried thence | 

Me and thy crying self. Temp. 1 . 2. 

To plainness honour's bound 

When maj\8ty stoops | to fol|ly : reverse | thy doom|. 

Lear, 1. 1. 

In the following examples the vowel belongs to an in- 
dependent syllable ; 

I had | in house | ; so man|y of^sars still | 
Which were obayde and honourd for their place, 
That carelesse I might sleepe or walke at will. 

Drayton. M. for M. Wolsey, 26. 

A silver flood 

Full j of great vir|tues : and | for medicine good|. 

F. Q. 1.2. 29. 

■ ' Her grace is a lone woman 
And ve|ry rich | : and if | she take | &phant\sie 
She will do strange things. 

B. Jons. The Silent Woman, I. 2. 

Our pow'r 

Shall do | a court\esy : to | our wrath, f which men| 
May blame, but not control. Lear, 3. 7. 


— In his raging mind 

He curs'd | all court\sy : * and | unrujly wind). 

Hall Sat. 3. 5. 

With blood | of guiltjless babes | : and in\nocents true|. 

F. Q. 1. 8.35. 

The in\nocent prey | : in haste | he does | forsake). 

F. Q. I. 6. 10. 

In death | avowjing : the in\nocence of | her son). 

F. Q. 1. 5. 39. 

Sluic'd | out his in\nocent soul | : through streams | of blood). 

jR2, 1. 1. 

Bidding the dwarf with him to bring away 

The Sar\azens shield | : sign | of the con|qneror|. 

F. Q. 1.2.20. 

And Britjon fields | : with Sar\azens blood | bedy'd). 

F. Q. 1. 10. 7. 


We have now only to consider those cases in which a 
syllable has been lost by the meeting of two words. 

The synalaepha or coalition of two vowels, is now tole- 
rated in very few instances. We may elide the vowel of 
the definite article before its substantive, and sometimes, 
though more rarely, the vowel of to before its verb; but the 
ear is offended, if the to is made to coalesce with a narrow 
vowel as, f insist, or the article with a broad one, as in the 

So spake | the apostate an | gel : tho' | in pain). 

P. L. 1. 

The earth cum|ber'dand | the wing'd | air: dark | with plumes). 


Formerly this union of the vowels was far more general. 
Chaucer melts the final e into the following word without 

* As from phanVne came fancy , so from court 1 sy came courtly. 


scruple, and in some cases the Anglo-Saxons took the 
same license. We also find Chaucer occasionally using 
the same liberty in other cases. His successors (fully 
alive to the convenience) followed his example, till Milton 
pushed this, as every other license, to the utmost. So 
frequently does it occur in the works of this poet, that 
several critics, among others Johnson, have given him 
credit for its invention, or rather, we should say, its in- 
troduction, for they suppose it borrowed from the Latin. 
We will first give instances where the final vowel is 

It is | reprev|e : and con\trdry of | honour] 
For to be hold a common hasardour. 

Chau. The Pardoneres Tate. 

And thereto he was hardy, wise, and rich, 
And pitjousj : and just | and al\way ylich\e. 

The Squieres Tale. 

And yon that feel no woe when as the sound 

Of these my nightly cries ye hear apart, 

Let break | your sounjder sleep] : and pit\y augment]. 

Spenser. August. 

As marks | to which] : my % ndeav\ours steps | should bend|. 

B. Jons. Cynthia's Revels, 6..10. 

Stif |ly to stand | on this] : and proud\ly approve] 
The play, might tax the maker of self-love. 

B. Jons. Epil. to Cynthia's Revels. 

Pas|sion and ap|athy| : and glor\y and shame). P. L. 2. 
In the following examples the final vowel is broad, 

Then was gret shoving bothe to and fro, 
To lift him up and muckle care and wo, 
So unweil\dy was| : this se|ly pal|led gost|. 

The Manciples Prologue. 

And with | so exceeding fu|ry : at | him struck|, 
That foreed him to stoop upon his knee. 

F. Q. 1. 5. 12. 


Her doubtful words, made that redoubled knight 
Suspect | ber truth | : yet since | no untruth \ he knew] 
Her fawning love with foul disdainful sprite 
He would not shew. F. Q. 1. 1. 53. 

No ungrate] ful food] : and food | alike | those pure] 

Intelligentdal substances require, 

As doth your rational. P. L. 5. 

Angjuish and doubt | and fear| : and sor[row and pain|. 

P. I. I. 

■ Vouchsafe with us 
Two on\ly who yet| : by sov|ran gift | possess) 
This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower 
To rest. P. L. 5. 

The pronoun it not only coalesces with a vowel, as be't, 
o 9 t 9 &c. but sometimes also with a consonant, as is't 9 
tvith't, &c. 

If the ill spirit have so fair a, house, 

Good things | will strive | to dwell | tvith't. 

Tempest, 1. 2. 

You taught | me language : and | my prof |it orit \ 

Is I know how to curse. Tempest, 1. 2. 

■ If he may 

Find mercy in the law, 'tis his ; if none, 
Let | him not seek't | of us I : by day | and night | 
He's traitor to the height. H 8, 1. ?. 

I say | it is | not lost | : FetcKt | let me see | it.— 

Othello, 3. 4 

His sword 

Path | a sharp ed$e | : its long, \ and if may | be said | 
It reaches far. » if 8, 1. 1. 

We find 't before a vowel in 'tis, and even before a con- 
sonant in the passage— 

Which done, quoth he, u if outwardly you show 
Souad, | y not availsj : if injwardly | or noj;* 

Drayton, MJvrM* Growth J £7* 


To also coalesces very freely with the word that follows 
it, whether verb, substantive, or pronoun. 

When | she was dear | to us : we | did hold | her so|. 

Lear, 1. 1. 

— Married your roy|alty : was wife | to your place |, 
Abhorr*d your person. Cymbeline, 55. 

For | a short day | or two | : retire | to your own | bouse. 

Fletcher. Loyal Subject, 2 1. 

Who well them greeting, humbly did request, 
Andask'd | to what end | theyclomb | : that heav'n|ly height|. 

F. Q. 1. 10. 49. 

From whence to England afterward I brought, 

Those slights of state delivered unto me, 

Inf which | were then | : but verjy few | that sought]. 

Drayton. M.for M. Cromwell, 38. 

To whom thus | the por| tress : of | hell-gate | replied). 

P. L. 2. 

Since you prove so liberal 

To re/use | such means | as this | : maintain | your voice | still 
'T will prove your best friend. 

Fletcher. Loyal Subject, 2. 1. 
The frier low lowting, crossing with his hand, 
T speak ] with contri|tion, quoth | he : I | would crave'. 

Drayton. M.forM. Cromwell, 104. 

His is frequently joined to the preceding word, as are 
also the verb is and conjunction as. 

Pond|ering on his voy|age : for | no nar|row frith| 

He had to cross. p. L. 2. 

Go tell | the Duke | and Aw wife | : I'd speak | with them|. 

Lear, 2. 1. 
A blink | o' rest's | a sweet | enjoy|ment. Burns. 

They're nae | sae wretched' s: ane | wad think |, 
Though constantly on poortith's brink. Burns. 

Burns has more than once joined the verb to the word 
that followed instead of preceding it, 


I doubt na whiles that thou may thieve, 
What then ? poor beastie thou maun live, 
A daimen icker in a thrave 

'Sa sina I request,] 
I '11 get a blessin wi' the lave, 

And never miss't. Burns. 

Verbs beginning with w sometimes elided it, and coal- 
esced with the word preceding, thus, in old English, we 
have nas for ne was, not for ne wot, nere for ne were, &c. 

And by that Lord that cleped is St. Ive, 

Nere | thou our brojder : shuldjest thou | not thrivje. 

Chau. The Sompnoures Tale. 

I tell | you to | my grief | : he was base|ly mur|der*d. 

Fletcher. Valentinian, 4. 4. 

You were best | to go | to bed | : and dream | again |. 

2 H 6, 5.1. 

Make | it not strange | : I knew | you were one | could keep| 
The butt'ry hatch still lock'd. Alchemist, 1.1. 

Wit|ne8S these wounds | I do | : they were fair|ly giv'nj. 

Fletcher. Bonduca, 1. 1. 

/ would, we would, &c. are still commonly pronounced 
Td, we'd, &c. yet we often find them written at full length, 
in places where the rhythm only tolerates one syllable. 

It would be useless to point out the coalition of the 
verb have with the personal pronouns. We, however, are 
constantly meeting with these contractions written at full 
length, we have, you have, &c. for we've, you've, &c. 

The first personal pronoun seems to have been occa- 
sionally omitted before its verb, as in the phrases, 'pray 
thee, 'beseech thee, &c. I suspect it was omitted more 
frequently than the texts warrant us in asserting. 

1 honour him 

Even | out of your | report [ : But 'pray | you tell | me 
Is she sole child to the King ? Cymb. 1.1. 

Your voic|es, Lords, | 'beseech | you : let j her will| 
Have a free way. Oth. 1.3. 


I presume | ehe's still | the same | : I would | fain see | her. 

Fletcher. Loyal Subject, 5. 2. 

And, Father Card'nal, I have heard yea say. 
That we shall see and know our friends in heaven, 
If that | be so | : I shall see | my boy | again). 

King John, 3. 4. 

The article the was frequently pronounced tK, and 
more particularly when it followed a preposition. Hie 
same pronunciation still prevails in the north. In Can's 
Craven Dialogues, we meet with ith 9 , oth 9 , tofK, forth', 
byth 9 , &c. also anth 9 and auth\ &c. for and the, all the, &c. 

Amongst the rest rode that false lady f aire, 

The foul Duessa, next unto the chair 

Of proud | Lucif |era | : as one | oth* train|. 

F. Q. 1. 4. 37. 

And the Rom|ish rites | : that with | a clear|er sight| 
The wisest thought they justly did reject, 
They after saw that the received sight 
Not altogether free was from defect 

Drayton. M.for M. Cromwell, 97. 

— The flames 
Driven backwards slope their pointing spires, and roll'd 
In biljlows leave, | tthe * midst] : a hor|rid vale). P. L. 

While /A* jol|ly Hours | : lead on | propitious May]. 

Milton. Sonnet. 

Whose shrill saint's bell hangs in his lovery, 
While the rest | are dam|ned : to | the plumb|ery|. 

Hall Sat. 5. 1. 

The fox was howling on the hill, 

And the dis|tant ech|oing glens | reply]. Burns. 

Ith 9 and oth 9 are often written i'the, (/the, fim is a 
common but gross blunder. In the first place the vowel 
is not elided, and, secondly, the prepositions are written as 
if contracted from in and of; but i and o are independent 

* Th$s if, I believe, the only instance of such contraction in die P. L. 


prepositions, which may be traced back through every cen- 
tury to the times of the Heptarchy. • 

In giving the many extracts I have quoted, I have scru- 
pulously adhered to the spelling of my authors, or rather of 
their editors : Tyrwhitt's Chaucer, Steevens's Shakespeare, 
and Todd's Milton have been chiefly referred to, Tonson's 
Spenser, and either Gifford's or Tonson's Ben Jonson. 

76 ACCENT. B. I. 




As the word is now used, means the stress which is 
laid upon a syllable during pronunciation ; and in a more 
restricted sense, that particular stress, which defines the 
rhythm of a verse or sentence. The latter might perhaps 
be termed the rhythmical accent. It is of merely relative 
importance, and may be either one of the strong or one 
of the weak accents in the sentence ; but must be stronger 
than that of any syllable immediately adjoining. We 
shall mark the rhythmical accent, as in the last chapter, 
by placing a vertical line after the accented syllable. 

It has been matter of dispute, what constitutes the 
stress which thus distinguishes the accented syllable. 
Mitford, who deserves attention both as a musician and a 
man of sense, has entered deeply into this inquiry, and 
concludes with much confidence that it is merely an in- 
creased sharpness of tone. Wallis, who is at least an 
equal authority, assumes it to be an increase of loudness. 
I cannot help thinking that the latter opinion is the 
sounder one. 

There are two reasons, which weigh strongly in my 
mind against the conclusion of Mitford. It is admitted 
on all hands, that the Scots give to the accented syllable 
a grave tone. Now, if our English accent consisted 
merely in sharpness of tone, it would follow that in the 
mouth of a Scotchman our accents would be misplaced. 
This, however, is not so ; the accents follow in their pro- 
per place, and our verses still keep their rhythm, though 

C. IV. ACCENT. 77 

pronounced with the strange intonations of a Fifeshire 

Again, in a whisper there can be neither gravity nor 
sharpness of tone, as the voice is absent ; yet even in a 
whisper the rhythm of a verse or sentence may be distinctly 
traced. I do not see what answer can be given to either 
of these objections. 

But though an increase of loudness be the only thing 
essential to our English accent, yet it is in almost every 
instance accompanied by an increased sharpness of tone. 
This, of course, applies only to the prevailing dialect. 
The Scotchman, we have seen, pronounces his accented 
syllable with a grave tone, and in some of our counties 
I have met with what appeared to be the circumflex. 
But the Englishman of education marks the accented 
syllable with a sharp tone ; and that in all cases, excepting 
those in which the laws of emphasis require a different 

Besides the increase of loudness, and the sharper tone 
which distinguishes the accented syllable, there is also a 
tendency to dwell upon it, or, in other words, to lengthen 
its quantity. We cannot increase the loudness or the 
sharpness of a tone without a certain degree of muscular 
action ; and to put the muscles in motion requires time. 
It would seem, that the time required for producing a per- 
ceptible increase in the loudness or sharpness of a tone, is 
greater than that of pronouncing some of our shorter 
syllables. If we attempt, for instance, to throw the accent 
on the first syllable of the verb become, we must either 
lengthen the vowel, and pronounce the word bee\come 9 or 
add the adjoining consonant to the first syllable, and so 
pronounce the word bec\ome. We often find it covenient 
to lengthen the quantity even of the longer syllables, when 
we wish to give them a very strong and marked accent- 
Hence, no doubt, arose the vulgar notion, that accent al- 
ways lengthens the quantity of a syllable. 

It is astonishing how widely this notion has misled 

78 ACCENT. B. I. 

mtoit, Whose judgment, in most other matters of criticism, 
it would be very unsafe to question. Our earlier writers, 
almost to a man, confound accent with quantity; and 
Johnson could not have had much clearer views on the 
subject when he told his reader that in some of Milton's 
verses, " the accent is equally upon two syllables together 
and upon both strong, — as 

Thus at their shady lodge arrived, both Hood, 

Both tum'd, and nnder open sky adored 

The God that made both sky, air, earth and heaven/* 

Every reader of taste would pronounce the words stood, 
turndy with a greater stress, than that which falls upon 
the words preceding them. But these words are at 
least equal to them in quantity; and Johnson fell into 
the mistake, at that time so prevalent, of considering 
quantity as identical with accent. Even of late years, 
when sounder notions have prevailed, one who is both 
critic and poet, has declared the word Egypt to be the 
only spondee in our language. Surely every one would 
throw a stronger accent on the first syllable than on the 
second ! 

In every word of two or more syllables there is one, 
which receives a stronger accent than any of the others. 
This may be called the verbal accent , as upon it depends 
the accentual importance of the word. When the word 
contains two or more syllables there may be a second 
accent ; this, of course, must be subordinate to the first, 
and is commonly called the secondary accent. 

When a word of three syllables has its primary accent 
on the first, our poets have, in all ages, taken the liberty 
of giving a secondary accent to the third syllable, if their 
rhythm required it. Thus harmony, victory, and many 
others of the same kind, are often found in our poetry 
with the last syllable accented. The rule applies to words 
of any number of syllables, provided the chief accent falls 
on the last syllable but two. 

An ignorance of this principle has led the Danish phi- 

C. IV. ACCENT. 1 9 

lotogist Bask, into much false criticism. He objects to the 
Anglo-Saxon couplet* 

Getim|brede| He built 

Temple Gode. To God a temple. 

because the first verse has but one accent; and supposes 
that heahy or some such word, may have been omitted by 
the transcriber. The verse, however, has two accents, for 
a secondary one falls on the last syllable de. He pro- 
nounces another verse, consisting in like manner of one 
word, <eltmikt-ne> to be faulty, and for the same reason; he 
even ventures to deny the existence of such a word in the 
language, and would substitute almightig-ne. Now, in the 
first place, iel\might-ne\ may well form a verse of two ac- 
cents, supposing a secondary accent to fall on the last syl- 
lable ; and secondly, there are two adjectives almight and 
almighty ; the first is rare in Anglo-Saxon, but is often 
met with in old English, and beyond a doubt is used in the 
verse last quoted. 

A word of four syllables can hardly escape a secondary 
accent, unless the primary accent is on one of the middle 
syllables, when it falls under the same rule as the trisyl- 
lable. If it end in ble, it is occasionally pronounced with 
one accent, as disputable ; but I think the more general 
usage is, to place a secondary accent on the last syllable, 

A word of five syllables, if accented on the first, cannot 
have less than two, and may have three, accents. We 
may pronounce the following word with two accents, in\c<m- 
sol\able, or with three in\consol\abk\. When the accent 
falls on one of the middle syllables, the word may, in some 
instances, take only one accent, as indis\putable. 

When two syllables are separated by a pause, each of 
them may receive the accent, the pause filling the place of 
a syllable. In the verses 

Vir|tue, beau|tie and speech] : did strike |—wound| —charm 
My heartj— eyesj— ears| : with wonjder, love,| delight]. 

80 ACCENT. B. I. 

strike, wound, charm, heart, eyes and ears, are all of them 
accented, though only separated by a pause. 

It is probable, that at one time every stop, which sepa- 
rated the members of a sentence, was held, for rhythmical 
purposes, equivalent to a syllable. At present, however, 
it is only under certain circumstances that the pause 
takes a place so important to the rhythm. 

As no pause can intervene between the syllables of a 
word, it follows that no two of its adjacent syllables can 
be accented. There was however a period, when even this 
rule was violated. After the death of Chaucer, the final 
e, so commonly used *by that poet and his contemporaries, 
fell into disuse. Hence many dissyllables became words 
of one syllable, mone became moon, and sunne sun ; and 
the compounds, into which they entered, were curtailed 
of a syllable. The couplet, 

Ne was she darke, ne browne, but bright 
Andclere | as is | : the mon\e light]. 

Romaunt of the Rose. 

would be read, as if mone light were a dissyllable ; and as 
the metre required two accents in the compound, they 
would still be given to it, though less by a syllable. By 
degrees this barbarous rhythm became licensed, though 
it never obtained much favour, and has been long since 
exploded. Spenser has left us some examples of it. 

Per. All as the sunny beam so bright, 
Wil. Hey | ho J the sun\-beam\ ! 

Per. Glanceth from Phoebus' face outright, 
% Wil. So love into my heart did stream. 

Per. Or as Dame Cynthia's silver ray, 
Wil. Hey | ho | the moon\-ligkt\ ! 

Per. Upon the glittering wave doth play, 
Wil. Such love is a piteous sight ! 


We have said that the rhythmical accent must be 
stronger than that of any syllable immediately adjoining. 

-C. IV. ACCENT. 81 

When the verbal accent is both preceded and succeeded 
by an unaccented syllable in the same word, it is, of course, 
independent of the position such word may occupy in 
a sentence. But when the accent falls on the first or last 
syllable, it is not necessarily preserved, when the word 
is combined with others ; or — to vary the expression — the 
verbal accent is not necessarily the same as the accent of 
construction. Thus the word father has an accent on its 
first syllable, but in the lines 

Look], father, look|, and you'll laugh ) to see ] 

How he gapes | and glares | with his eyes | on thee]. 

such accented syllable adjoins a word, which has a 
stronger stress upon it, and consequently loses its accent. 
The verbal accent, however, can only be eclipsed by a 
stronger accent, thus immediately adjoining. The license, 
which is sometimes taken, of slurring over an accent, when 
it begins the verse, is opposed to the very first principles 
of accentual rhythm. In Moore's line, 

Shining on], shining on|, by no sliadjow made tenjder. 

The verbal accent of shining is eclipsed, in the second 
foot, by the stronger accent on the word on ; but in the 
first it adjoins only to an unaccented syllable, and there- 
fore remains unchanged. It is true, that by a rapid pro* 
nunciation, and by affixing a very strong accent to the 
third syllable, we may slur it over ; but, in such case, the 
rhythm is at the mercy of the reader ; and no poet has 
a right to a false accent, in order to help his rhythm. 
Neither length of usage, nor weight of authority, can 
justify this practice. 

When a verse is divided into two parts or sections, 
by what is called the middle pause, the syllable, which 
follows such pause, is in the same situation as if it began 
the verse, and cannot lose its accent, unless it be suc- 
ceeded by a more strongly accented syllable. In this 
case, however, the same license is often taken as in the 
last, particularly in the triple metre, 

VOL. I. G 


As Emphasis and Accent are too often confounded, I 
shall add a few words on the nature of the former, and 
endeavour to shew, in what particulars they resemble, 
and in what they are distinguished from each other. 

A very common method of pointing out an emphatic 
word or syllable is by placing a pause, or emphatic stop, 
before it. There is little doubt that this pause was 
known from the earliest periods of our language, and that 
it had a considerable influence in regulating the flow of our 
earlier rhythms. It is still common, and indeed in almost 
hourly use. 

When I burned in desire to question them further, they made 
themselves — air, into which they vanished. 

Macbeth, 1.5. 

If the accent be on the first syllable, our expectation is 
not only excited by the pause, but the accent becomes 
more marked ; and as the importance of a word depends 
on that of its accented syllable, the word itself stands the 
more prominently forward in the sentence. This method 
of heightening the accent is sometimes used, even when 
the first syllable is unaccented, and when consequently the 
pause must fall in the midst of the word. Thus we hear 
some persons who spell, as it were, the words pro-digious, 
di-rectly, in order to throw the greater stress on the second 
syllable. One result, that follows from this mis-pronun- 
ciation, is a tendency to fix, in some degree, the pause on 
the first syllable, and thereby to lengthen its vowel. 

Another method of marking the emphasis, is a strength- 
ening of the accent, without any precedent stop. We 
have seen, that under such circumstances the speaker is 
apt to dwell upon the accented word or syllable. Hence 
we sometimes find, that the emphatic word lengthens its 
quantity. When the vulgar wish to throw an emphasis 
on the word little, they pronounce it leetle. 

But the chief difficulty occurs, when the emphatic 


syllable adjoins upon one, which ought, according to the 
usual laws of construction, to be more strongly accented. 
In such a case, we very commonly have a transference of 
the accent. In Shakespeare's verse, 

Is | this the | Lord Tal|bot : uncjle Glos|ter ? 

1 H6 3.4. 


the emphasis, which is thrown on the article, gives it 
an accent, stronger than that of the word either preceding 
or succeeding. Sometimes, however, it would seem, that 
we distinguish the emphatic syllable by mere sharpness of 
tone ; and leave the stress of the voice, or in other words 
the essential part of the accent, on the ordinary syllable. 
Thus in Spenser's line, 

Flesh | may impair, | quoth she | : but reajson can | rtpahr\. 

F.Q.I. 7. 41. 

both the rhythm, and the common laws of accentuation 
will have the last syllable of repair accented ; but the pur- 
poses of contrast require that the first syllable should be 
emphatic. The stress therefore falls on the last syllable, 
and the sharp tone on the first. In the same way must* be 
read Milton's verses, 

Who made J our laws | to land | us : not | himself]. 

Sam. Agon* 

Knowing who | /am!: as I | know who | thorn art|. 

P.R. I. 

In some cases a very intimate acquaintance with a poet's 
rhythm is necessary, to know whether he intended to mark 
his emphasis by a transference of the accent, or by mere 
change of intonation. 


This branch of our subject may perhaps be treated most 

advantageously, if, in each case, we first state the law, 

which has been sanctioned by the general usage of our 

language ; and then notice such violations of it, as have 

arisen from making it yield, instead of adapting it, to the 

laws of metre. 

g 2 


Of all the words that may be used in the construction of 
an English sentence, the articles are the least important. 
In the greater number of cases, in which they are now met 
with, they are useless for any purposes of grammar, were 
unknown to our older dialects, and still sound strangely in 
the ears of our country population. The circumstances, 
which justify their accentuation, are accordingly rare ; yet 
by the poets of the 16th century they were sometimes ac- 
cented even more strongly than their substantive. 

Skill which practice small 
Will bring, | and short |ly make | you : a | maid Mar|tiall|. 

F. Q. 3. 3. 53. 

This man is great, 

Mighty and fear'd ; that lovd, and highly favour 'd ; 
A third | thought wise | and vir|tuous : a \ fourth rich[, 
And therefore hon|our'd : a | fifth rare|ly fea|tur'd. 

Ben Jonsons Every Man out of his Humour. 

Yet full | of val|our : the | which did | adorn | 
His meanness much — F. Q. 6. 3. 7. 

This is noted 

And generally | : whoevjer the | king fa|voure, 

The Cardinal will instantly find employment, 

And far enough from Court too. 


But a more common fault — one of which even Pope was 
guilty — is the accentuation of the article when it occurs 
before the adjective. 

Defence | is a \ good cause) : and heav'n | be for | us. 

■} See the heavy clouds down falling, 

Amd bright Hesperus down calling 

The | dead night | : from unjder ground |. 

Fletcher. Faithful Shep. 2. 2. 

The | poor wight] : is al|most dead| 
On the ground his wounds have bled. 

Fletcher. Faithful Shep. 3. 1. 

She | was not Me | prime cause | : but I | myself |. 



The treacherous col|ours: the | fair art | betray], 
And all the bright creations fade away. 

Pope. Essay on Criticism* 

In words | as fash | ions : the | same rule | will hold]. 

Pope, Essay on Criticism. 

There is, however, one position of the article, which 
seems to warrant its accentuation, even when not em- 
phatic. It is that, which leaves it adjacent only to un- 
accented syllables. In the language of ordinary life the 
article, even in this case, is seldom accented. The words 
a revol\ter would be pronounced with a stress of voice, re- 
gularly increasing to the third syllable. But, in the mea- 
sured language of composition, no words can be slurred 
over, or run the one into the other; and it seems not 
only venial, but even more correct and proper, to accent 
the article a \ revol\ter. For these reasons I would not ob- 
ject to the following verses, 

A murderer, a { revolver : and | a villain. 


I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness 
In wedjlock a \ reproach] : I gain'd | a son|. 


Still ] to the last | it rankles : a | disease] • 

Byron. Ch. Harold, 2. 

Who with the horror of her hapless fate 
Hastily starting up, like men dismay'd 
Ran af|ter fast | to res | cue : the | distressed maid|. 

F.Q. 6. 3. 24. 

The latter verse is however open to objection on another 
ground. When a verse, or section of a verse, begins with 
an accent, such accent should never be a weak one. 

A word must necessarily be of less importance than 
that whose relations it merely indicates; hence the ac- 
centuation of the preposition above its noun, is offensive. 


Opprest with hills of tyranny cast on virtue 

By | the light fancies of | fools : thus | transport|ed. 

Ben. Jons. Cynthia 8 Revels, 5. 4 

— Foretasted fruit, 

Profan'd | first | by the ser|pent : by | him first!, 
Made common. P. L. 9. 

Else had the spring 

Perpetual smil'd on earth, with verdant flow'rs, 
Equal in days and nights, except to those 
Beyond | the po|lar cir|cle : to | them day | 
Had unbenighted shone. P. L. 1 0. 

In the two extracts from Milton, the pronouns require 
an emphasis, which makes the false accentuation still 
more glaring. 

All words which qualify others, as adjectives, adverbs, 
and others of the same class, receive a fainter accent than 
the words qualified. 

It has been observed,* that when " a monosyllabic ad- 
jective and substantive are joined, the substantive has the 
acute, and the adjective the grave, unless the adjective be 
placed in antithesis, in which case the reverse happens." 
This rule might have been stated more generally. The 
primary accent of the adjective ought always, when not 
emphatic, to be weaker than that of the substantive. But 
when the reviewer states this law to have been " observed 
by all our best poets," and censures Darwin and his con- 
temporaries as its first violators, he is lauding our earlier 
writers most unfairly. If authority, in a case like this, 
were of any weight, it might easily be found ; 

Help'd | by the great | pow'r : of j the vir|tuous moon|. 

Fletcher. Faithful Shepherdess, 2. 2. 

Lest | the great | Pan : do | awake). Same, 1.1. 

— * - 

* Ed. Rev. No. 12. Art. JO. 


Thy chaster beams play on the heavy face 

Of all | the world) : mak|ing the blue | sea smile]. 

Fletcher. Faithful Sheph. 2. 1. 

I think a traitor — 

No ill | words ! let | his own | shame : first | revile | him. 

Fletcher. Bonduca, 2. 4. 

The dominations, royalties, and rights 

Of this | oppressed boy| : this | is thy el|dest son's j son, 

Unfortunate in nothing but in thee. K. John, 2. 1 . 

Hath any ram 

Slipt | from the fold] : or young | kid lost | its dam| ? 


The more correct schools of Dryden and Pope care- 
fully avoided this error, but our modern poets are not so 
scrupulous. The faults of the Elizabethan writers are 
more readily caught than their beauties ; 

Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile. 

The possessive pronoun falls of course under the same 
law as the adjective ; but when coupled with an adjective 
receives the weaker accent. The violation of this rule is 
but too common among those writers to whom allusion 
has been made. 

In wine | and oil | : they wash | en his | wounds wide|. 

F. Q. 1. 5. 17. 

And dark | some dens|, where Ti|tan : his \ face nev|er shows). 

F. Q. 2. 5. 27. 

That | I may sit| : and pour | out my | sad sprite | 

Like running water.* Fletcher. Faithful Shepherdess, 4. 4. 

The sweeping fierceness : which his soul betray *d, 
The skill | with which | he wield |ed : his | keen blade). 

Byron. Lara. 

* This verse of Fletcher has even more than his usual proportion of blun- 
ders. With proper accents it would belong to the triple measure. 
That j I may sit | and pour out | my sad sprite | . 


And then | as his | faint breathjing : wax|es low|. 

Byron. Lara. 

It is doubtless under the same law, that the word own 
takes the accent after the possessive pronouns; a rule which 
is violated by Pope in the very couplet in which he de- 
nounces the critics ; 

Against | the po|ets : their | own arms | they turn'd|, 
Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn d. 

Essay on Criticism. 

Another law of English accentuation is, that the per- 
sonal and relative pronoun take a fainter accent than the 

And mingling them with perfect vermily, 
That like | a lively sang|nine : it | seem'd to | the eye|. 

F. Q. 3. 8. 6. 

That sea beast 

Leviathan, which God of all his works 

Crea|ted hu|gest : that | swim th* o[cean's flood |. P. L. 

Such is certainly the right scanning of this puzzling line, 
for the first and all the early editions elide the vowel. We 
may hence see the danger of printing Milton without eli- 
sions. As the line stands in the modern editions, every 
reader would accent it thus, 

Creajted hujgest : that swim | the ojcean's flood |. 

No one would be bold enough to risk a false accent, in 
order to avoid an awkward and spiritless rhythm. 

It remains to consider the law, which regulates the 
accents of a sequence. 

When two or more words of the same kind follow each 
other consecutively, they all take an equal accent. If they 
are monosyllables, a pause intervenes between every two. 
It is probably for this reason, and on account of the great 
number of English monosyllables, that we find such fre- 
quent violations of a law so obvious and important. 


Fear, sick|ness, age | : loss, la|bour, sor|row, strife|, 
Pain, hun|ger, cold | : that makes | the heart | to quake, 
And ever fickle fortune rageth rife. F. Q. 1. 9. 44. 

So shall | wrath, jeal|ousy | 5 grief, love, | die and | decay). 

F. Q. 2. 4. 35. 

Infer) nal hags | : cen|taurs,^«Mfe, hip|podames|. 

F. Q. 2. 9. 50. 

The hectick, 

Gout, lep|rosie | ; or some | such loath'd | disease |. 

Ben Jon. Every Man out of his Humour, 1 . 3. 

I am | a man | : and | I have Y\mh$\, flesh, blood|, 

Bones, sin|ews and | a soul| : as well 1 as he|. Same, 2. 4. 

Where he gives her many a rose 

Sweeter than the breath that blows, 

The leaves | ; grapes, ber|ries : of | the best|. 

Fletcher. Faithful Shep. 1.3. 

High climbing rock, deep sunless dale, 
Sea, desjert, what | : do these | avail | } 

Wordsworth. White Doe of Ry 1st one. 

False accentuation very often leads to ambiguity. In 
the last passage, there might be a question, whether the au- 
thor did not mean the sea-desert, the waste of ocean. 

When the words are collected into groups, this law of 
sequence affects the groups only, and not the individuals. 
Thus I think there would be no fair objection to the mode 
in which Byron accents the verse, 

Young old |, high low |, at once | : the same | diversion share |. 

CA. Har. 1 . 

Nor to Milton's famous line, 

Rocks, caves\,lake8,fens\ t bogs, dens,\* : and shades | of death |. 

This last verse has been variously accented. Mitford 
accents the first six words, thus making it a verse of eight 
accents, though Milton wrote his poem in verses of five. 

* Den means alow woody bottom, such as often marks a stream or water 
course ; hence it is coupled with bog. 


The same law will hold when the words are in groups of 
three together. 

Before we close this section, it should be observed, that 
the rule, which we have applied to the article, is a general 
one. There is no word, however unimportant, which may 
not be accented, when it lies adjacent only to unaccented 
syllables. We have already given examples where the ar- 
ticle is accented ; to add others would be useless. 


The accentuation of foreign words, naturalized in our 
language, has always been varying ; one while inclining to 
the English usage, at another to the foreign. We will 
first treat of proper names, which have come to us, either 
mediately or immediately, from the Latin. At present, 
we give them Latin accents, when they have all their syl- 
lables complete ; and English accents when they are mu- 
tilated. But nothing was more common, down to the end 
of Elizabeth's reign, than to find the perfect Latin word 
wiih its accents distributed according to the English 
fashion ; 

Till | that the palje : Sat\umus | the col|de 
That knew so many of aventures olde. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Sat\umus thon|e : sund[-buende hetjon. 

Saturnus him sea-dwellers hight. Alfred. 

Such one was once, or once I was mistaught, 

A smith | at Vul\canus | : own forge | up brought |. 

Hall. Satires, 2. 1. 

In Sterres, many a winter ther beforen, 

Was writ | the deth | : of Hec|tor, Ach\illes\ — 

Chau. The Man of Laws Tale. 

Hit gesoelde gio : on same tide 
Thaet Au\lixes | : un|der-haef |de 
Thaem Caesere : cvnericu twa. 


It fell of yore, upon a time, 

That Aulixes * had under 

The Kaiser kingdoms two. Alfred. 

Befor|e hire stood | : hire sonje Cu\pido\, 
Upon his shoulders winges hadde he two. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Waer|on iE|gypte j eft | on-cyr|de. 

Again were the Egypte turned back. Ccedmon. 

These writers give us the Latin accents, whenever it 
suits their rhythm. 

During the 14th century we got even our Latin from 
the French. Latin names were, accordingly, often used 
with French accents, and that to the very end of the 16th 

Fayrjest of fayrje: o la|dy roiu | Venus\, 
Daughter of Jove and spouse of Vulcanus. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

The dreint | Lean|dre : for j his faire | Hero\, 

The teres of Helcine, and eke the wo 

Of Briseide, Chau. The Man of Lawes Tale. 

Hec|tor and Herfcnles | : with false | Juno\, 
Their minds did make them weave the webb of woe. 

Mhrr.for M. Egelred, 3. 

Of Lujcrece and \ : ofBabjylon | Thisbe\, 
The swerd of Dido, for the false Enee. 

Chau. . The Man of Lawes Prol. 

> A cranny 'd hole or chink, 

Through which | these lov|ers : Pyrjanurc and | Thisby\ * 
Did whisper often very secretly. M. N. Dream, 5.1. 

Shakespeare elsewhere accents it This\by\ he doubtless 
put the old and obsolete accent into the mouth of his 
" mechanicals," for the purposes of ridicule. 

French accent was particularly prevalent in such words, 
as had been robbed by our neighbours of one or more syl- 

■' ■ II ■ * ' ' \ ' ■ - '» * ■ » ■ ,■■■■■! , 

* That is, Ulisses. 


Thou glader of the mount Citheron, 

For thiljke lovje : thou had|dest to | Adon\, 

Have pitee. Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Ambitious Sylla : and stern Marius, 
High Css|sar, great | Pompey | : and fierce | Anton|ius|. 

F. Q. 1. 5. 39. 

Him thought | how that | : the wing|ed god | Mercu\ry 
Beforne him stood, and bad him to be mery. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

All such words we now accent after the English fashion, 
Pom\pey, Mer\cury 9 Di\an, &c. 

When the last syllable of a French word does not con- 
tain the e final, it almost invariably takes the accent; 
in English words, the accent is generally upon the first. 
Now the " makers" of the 14th century, in raising our lan- 
guage once more to the dignity of courtly verse, unhappily, 
but very naturally, had recourse to the dialect, which had 
so long been used for the purposes of poetical expression. 
In Skinner's phrase, " cart-loads " of French words were 
poured into the language. These for the most part had 
a doubtful accentuation, English or French, as best suited 
the convenience of the rhythm. This vicious and slovenly 
practice may be traced as late as to the reign of Elizabeth. 
In the following instances of French accentuation, I shall 
in each case take, first the words of two syllables, and 
then those of three or more ; 

A pren|tis whil|om dwelt | : in our | citee\, 

And of a craft of vitailers was he. Chau. The Cokes Tale. 

So meek a look hath she, 

I may | not you | devis|e : all hire | beautee], 

But thus much of hire beautee tell I may. Chaucer. 

For quhar | it fail|eys : na wertu\ 

May be | off price | : naoff | walu\. The Bruce, 371. 

For well thou wost thyselven veraily, 
That thou | and 1 | : be dam|ned to | prison] 
Perpet|uel | : us gain|eth no | raunson]. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 


And when that he well dronken had the win, 
Then | wold he spekjen : no | word but | Latin\. 

Chau, Prol. 

This ) was thin oath| : and min | also | certain], 
I wot it wel thou durst it not withsain. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

For which thy child was in a crois yrent, 
Thy bliss|ful ey|en saw| : all his | turment\. 

Chau. M. of Lawes Tale. 

And, sikerly, she was of fair disport, 
And fal | plesant\ : and a|miable | of port|. 

Chau. Prol. 

He durste make avaunt, 

He wi8|te that | a man| : was re\pentant\. Chau. Prol. 

Of all God's works, which do this world adorn, 

There is no one more fair and excellent, 

Than is man's body both for power and form, 

Whiles it is kept in sober government, 

But none | than it| : more foul | and in\decent\ 

Distemper'd through misrule. F. Q. 2. 9. 1. 

Some words in n still accent the last syllable, but in 
that case lengthen the vowel, as saloon, dragoon, cartoon, 
divine, &c. Many words too are spelt with the long i, 
though now pronounced with the short, as sanguine, 

Ther n* is | y wis| : no ser|pent so | cruel\, 
When man tredeth on his tail, ne half so fel. 

Chau. The Sompnoures Tale. 

The par | dale swift) : and | the ti|ger cruell\, 
The antelope and wolfe, both fierce and fell. 

F. Q. I. 6. 24. 

Caus'd | him agree | : they might | in parts | equal], 
Divide the realm, and promist him a gard 
Of sixty knights, on him attending still at call. 

Higgins. M.for M. Queen Cordila, 17. 


It were, | qtiod he| : to thee | no gre^t | honour]. 
For | to be false) : rie | for to be | traitour\. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Our governour, 

And | of our tal|es: jug|eand re\portour\. Chau. Prol. 

Beyond | all past | exam | pie: and \ future]. P. L. 

The other adjectives in ure are still accented on the last 
syllable, as obscure, seeure, mature, &c. 

She | was so charitable | : and so | pitous\, 

She wold wepe if that she saw a mons 

Caught in a trappe. Chau. Prol. 

Mighty Theseus, 

That | for to him | ten: is | so de\sirous\. 

Chau. Knightes Tale. 

Adjectives in ose, ise, use, still take the accent on the 
last syllable, as verbose, precise, obtuse, &c. 

That telleth in this cas, 

Tal|esof best | sentenc|e: and most | solas\. Chau. Prol, 

I you | forgevje all hol|ly : this | trespas\. 

Chau. Knightes Tale. 

- — How should, alas ! 

Silly old man that lives in hidden cell, 

Bid | ding his beads [ all day) ; for his | trespass], 

Tydings of war and worldly trouble tell } F. Q. 1.2. 20. 

By pol|icy| : and long | process | of time|. P. L. 2. 

But subtle Archimago when his guests 

He saw divided into double parts, 

And U|na wandering: in | woods and \/orrests\ 9 &c. 

F. Q. 1. 2. 9. 

If a French word end with the final e, the penultimate 
syllable is always accented. When such word was brought 
into our language, the final e was either dropt or changed 
into y. The accent fell accordingly either on the last, or 
the penultimate syllable* 

The ending ie once formed two syllables with an accent 


on the i. This accent long kept its place even when the e 
was lost ; 

Quod The|seus| : hav|e ye so gret | envi\e 
Of my honour, that thus complain and crie. 

Chuu. The Knightes Tale. 

Before | her stan|deth : dan|ger and | envy\, 
Flattery, desceyt, mischeife, and tyranny. 

Sir T. More. Boke of Fortune. 

There may minstrels maken melodie, 

To drive | away| : the dull | melan\choly\ . F. Q. 8. 5. 3. 

The following examples will be ranged in the like 
order ; first, those words which retained the e final, and 
afterwards those in which it had been lost ; 

Wei coud he play on a giterne, 

In all | the teun| : n' as brew|hous ne | tavern\e 

That he ne visited. Chau. Milleres Tale. 

In forme and reverence, 

And shorte | and quickej : and full | of high ] senten\ce, 

Chau. Prol. 

That this | Soudan | : hath caught | so gret | plesan\ce 

To han | hire ng|ure : in | his re\membran\ce, 

That all his lust, and all his besy care, 

Was for to love hire. Chau. Man of Lawes Tale. 

This se|ly car|penter| : had gret | merveil\le 
Of Nicholas, or what thing might him aile. 

Chau. Milleres Tale. 

And led | their life| : in gret | trawaill\, 
And oft | in hard) : stour off | bataill\. 

The Bruce, 1 , 23 . 

And ov|er his hed| : ther shin | en two \figur\es 
Of sterr|es, that | ben clepjed : in | scriptur\e$> 
That on Puella, that other Rubeus. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Thin | is the vic|torye : of | this av\entur\e, 
Full blisful in prison maest thou endure. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 



And do I that I | to mor|we: may ban | victor\ie, 
Min be the travaille, and thin be the glorie. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Ther saw I many another wonder storie, 

The which | we list|e : not draw | en to | memo\rie. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

To put in wryt a suthfast storie, 

That | it lest ay | furth : in | memo\ry. 

The Bruce, I. 14. 

For who|so mak|eth God| : his ad|versa|ry, 
As | for to werk|en : an|y thing in | contra\ry 
Of his will, certes, never shal he thrive. 

The Chanones Yeomannes Tale* 

Wei coude he rede a lesson or a story, 

But al|der-best | he sung| : an of\/erto\ry. Chau. Prol. 

And over all ther as profit shuld arise, 

Curjteis he was'| : and low|ly of | servis\e. Chau. Prol. 

For in the land ther n' as no craftes man, 
He por|treiour| : ne car|ver of | imag\es, 
That Theseus he gaf him mete and wages. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

A notched had|de he: with | a brown | visag\e, 
Of woodjcraft coud|e he wel| : all|e the usag\e. 

Chau. Prol. 

- : gret | is thin av\antag\e, 

More than is min that sterve here in a cage. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

And as thou art a rightful Lord and Jnge, 
Hegevje us ney|ther: mer|cie ne | refug\e. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

With us | ther was| : a doc|tour of | phisik\e, 

In all this world, ne was ther none him like 

To speke of phisike. Chau. Prol. 


Engendered of | humours): melan\cholik\e, 
Befornje his hed ( : in | his ce\le fan\tastik\e. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 


One of our souls had wander'd in the air, 

Ban|ish f d this frail | sepulchre : of | our fleshj. R 2, 1. 3. 

But all | be that | he was| : a phil\oso\phre, 

Yet hadde he but litel gold in coffre. Chau. Prol 

Again | his might : ther gain|en non | obstacles. 
He may | be clepjed : a god J for his | mira\cles. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

A the | at re | : a pub | lick re\cepta\cle 
For giddy humor and diseased riot. 

Ben Jon. E. Man in his Humour, 2. 1 . 

As | in a vault) : an an|cient re\cepta[cle. 

R. and J. 4. 3. 
Let par|adise| : a re\cepta\cle prove] 
To spirits foul. P. L 11. 

Chaucer generally makes the ending acle but one syl- 
lable ; and perhaps it may be a question if it ever fills the 
place of two syllables in his writings. The same remark 
applies to the endings able and ible ; but as it would be 
dangerous, without the assistance of a better edition, to 
lay down any positive rule upon the subject, I shall fol- 
low the usual practise in dividing them. 

I can | not saine| : if that | it be | possible, 

But Ve|nu8 had | him ma|ked : in\visi\ble, 

Thus sayth the booke. Chau* Legend* of Dido. 

Of his diete mesurable was he, 

For it was of no great superfluitee, 

But | of vast nourishing) : and di\gesti\ble. 

His study was but litel on the Bible. Chau. Prol. 

For all afore that semed fair and bright, 
Now base | and con\tempti\ble : did | appear]. 

F. Q. 4. 5. 14. 

For possible is, sin thou hast hire presence, 
And art a knight, a worthy and an able, 
That | by some cas|, sin For) tune is | changeable 
Thou maiest to thy desir sometime attaine. 

Chau. The Knight es Tale. 

VOL. i. H 


Stor|ys8 to rede| : are de\lita\bill, 

Supposs that thai be nocht bot fabillj. The Bruce, 1.1. 

Your fair discourse hath been as sugar, 
Mak|ing the hard | way : sweet | and de\lecta\ble. 

R 2, 2. S. 
It can | not bat | arrive | : most ac\cepta\ble. 

B. Jons. Ev. Man out of his Humour, 1.1. 

Let us not then pursue 

By force impossible, by leave obtained 

Un\accepta\ble : though | in heaven |, our state | 

Of splendid vassalage. P. L. 2. 

With huge | force and| : in\supporta\ble main|. F. Q. 1. 7. 11. 

And won | died at| : their im\placa\ble stoar|. F. Q. 4. 9. 22. 

There are also certain substantives in our language, 
which are closely connected with the past participle of the 
Latin ; these long retained their Latin accent on the last 


Law | and edict | on us| : who | without law | 

Err not. P. L. 5. 

Strongly drawn 

By this | new-felt | affec|tion : and | instinct\. P. L, 10. 

Wooing poor craftsmen with the craft of smiles 

As* t were | to ban|ish : their | affects | with him|. R2, 1. 4. 

Mostug|ly shapes | j and horr|ible [ aspects]* F. Q. 2. 12. 23. 

And | for our eyes| : do hate | the dire | aspect] 

Of civil wounds. jR 2, 1. 3. 

His words | here enjded : but | his meek | aspect t 

Silent yet spake. P. L. 3. 

Milton also accents the first syllable, as\pect, but the 
older writers, almost invariably, give us the Latin accent. 
Dr. Farmer at once declared against the genuineness of 
"The Double Falsehood," which Theobald and others had 
ascribed to Shakespeare, because this word was always 
found accented on the first syllable. This was bold, but 
warrantable criticism. 



One of the most important rules is that, which bids us 
accent the root, whether verb or substantive, more 
strongly than in its inflection ; as in the words, lov\est, 
lov\eth 9 lov\ing 9 lov\ed 9 smit\eth, smit\ing 9 smit\ten, fox\es, 
ox\en, children. 

The old ending of the present participle was occasionally 
accented, during the 14th and 15th centuries; and some- 
times, though more rarely, the modern termination ing. 

And | such thynjges : that are | likand \ 

Tyll man|nys her|ing: ar| plesand\. Bruce, 1. 10. 

The scaith 

That | toward thaim] : was ap\perand,\ 

For that at the King of England 

Held swylk freyndschip. Bruce, 1. 85. 

Wherefore laude and honour to such a king, 
From dole | ful daun|ger us so | defending], 

Dingley. M. for M. Flodden F. 

Under this head may be ranged our verbal substantives, 
whether denoting the agent, as lover, or the action, as 
loving. These endings, however, in old English, were not 
unfrequently accented. 

And knew well the tavernes in every towne, 

And ev|ery host|eler| : and gay | tapster]e, 

Betjter than a | lazer| : or a j hegger]e. Chau. Pral. 

For ther was he nat like a cloisterer*, 

With thred|bare cope| : as is | a poor | &choler\e, 

But he was like a maister or a pope. Chau. ProL 

The mount of Citheron, 

Ther Ve|nus hath|: hire principal | dwelling], 

Was shew|ed on | the wall| : in pur]treying\. Chau. 

A ! fredome is a noble thing, 

Fre|dome mayss man| : to haifF | liking]. Bruce, 1. 225. 

For na|ture hath | not ta|ken : his beginning | 
Of no partie, ne cantel of a thing. Chau Knlghtes Tale. 



To the same rule may be referred the adjectives of com- 
parison ; and such adjectives as are formed by adding the 
common terminations to a substantive, though Barbour 
has sometimes accented the last syllable of the adjective 

And gyff that ony man thaim by 

Had on|y thing| : that wes | worthy\. Bruce, 1. 206, 

That be othir will him chasty 

And wyss | men say|is : he is | happy], Bruce, 1. 123. 

The same rule and the same exception hold in respect 
to adverbs derived from adjectives. 

For aft feynying of rybbaldy 

Awail|yeit him| : and that | gretly\. Bruce, 1. 242. 

Ik hard never, in sang na ryme, 

Tell | of a man | : that swa | smertly \ 

Eschewyt swa gret chewalry. Bruce, 2. 574. 

The next law governs the accentuation of such com- 
pounds, as consist of a substantive and some word that 
qualifies it; whether it be an adjective, or a substantive, 
preposition, or other word used adjectively. This law is 
the reverse of that, which regulates the accents of a sen- 
tence. The latter requires the substantive to be accented, 
but in the compound the accent falls upon the adjective ; 
we should say for instance — all | blackbirds | are not black- 
birds. From the 14th to the 16th century this rule was fre- 
quently, and is still occasionally, violated. The only ex- 
ception, however, which has fixed itself in the language, is 
the word mankind. Milton accented it sometimes on the 
first, and at other times on the second syllable, but the latter 
now always takes the accent. The accent was most fre- 
quently transposed in those words which ended with a 
long syllable, especially if it contained the long i, as 
insight, moonlight, sun^rise. When the last syllable con- 
tained a short vowel sound, the accent was occasionally) 
but rarely, misplaced. In such cases, the false accentua- 
tion is now particularly offensive. 


The drooping night thus creepeth on them fast, 
And | the sad ha|mour: loading their | eyelids], 
As messenger of Morpheus, on them cast 
Sweet slumb'ring dew, the which to sleep them bids. 

F. Q. 1 1. 36. 

Trebly augmented was his furious mood 
With bitter sense of his deep-rooted ill, 
That flames | of fire | he threw | forth ; from | his large | nostril\. 

F.Q.I. 11. 22. 

As for | the thrice | three-an|gled : beech | nut-shell , 

Or ches| nuts arm [ed husk | : and hid | kernel\. Hall. Sat. 3. 1. 

Hire mouth full smale and thereto soft and red 

But sik|erly| : she had | a fayr \forehead\. Chau.Prol. 

The compounds ending in dom, hood, ship, ness, ess, 
also belong to the same rule. Most of these endings con- 
tained two syllables in our old English dialect, and often 
took the verbal accent. 

The angyr, na the wrechet dome, 

That | iscowp|lyt: tofoule | thyrldome\.* 

The Bruce, 1. 236. 

Ful soth | is sayed| : that lov|e ne | lordship \ 
Wol nat his thankes have no felawship. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

That | is to sayn| : trouth, honjour, and | manhe\de, 
Wisdom, humblesse, estat, and high kindrede. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Throw his douchti deed, 

And throw | his owt|rageous | manheid\. Bruce, 2. 557. 

Joy|e after wo|: and wo | af |ter gladnes\se 

And shewjed him | ensamjple : and | likenes\se. Chau. 

In'ot I whe'r she| : be worn | an or | goddes\se 9 

But Venus is it sothly, as I gesse. Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Another class of compounds consist of a noun, and a 
preposition, that governs and, as it were, overrides it; the 

* Barbour also accents this word on the first syllable. 


substantive underground, and adjective underhand, may 
afford us examples ; they differ widely in their character 
from such compounds as undergrowth and undershot. 
If we call the latter adjectival compounds, the others may 
be termed the prepositional. There can be little doubt 
that, at one period, the preposition only preceded and go- 
verned a substantive, but the analogy was soon extended 
to adjectives and even verbs. 

The rules, which regulate the accentuation of these 
compounds, are very irregular. The tendency of our 
language has been, of late years, to throw the accent on 
the noun, or word governed by the preposition ; though 
I suspect the latter generally received it, in our earlier and 
purer dialects. 

The prefix un, at present, is never accented by correct 
speakers ; but in the old English we find it far more ge- 
nerally accented than the following syllable. Shakespeare 
and Milton almost always accent uncouth on the first syl- 
lable, and we find its vulgar representative uncut, accented 
in like manner; while the modern uncouth accents the 
second syllable. Many other instances might be brought, 
to show the difference between the old and the modern 
pronunciation of these compounds. 

The prefix mis was, in all probability, at first a prepo- 
sition. In modern usage it is very seldom accented, but 
in our old writers frequently. 

— That folk, 

Throw thar | gret mis\chance : and | folly |, 

War tretyt than sawykkytly, 

That thar fays thar jugis war. Bruce, 1 . 221 . 

But who conjur'd — 

■ Rablais drunken revellings, 

To grace | the mis\rule : of | our tav|ernings| ? 

Hall Sat. 2. 1 . 

Verbs, compounded of a verb and preposition, accent 


the former; but in our older writers we find the rule 
often violated. 

The for\lorn maid| : did | with loves long|ing burn'. 

F. Q. 1. 6. 22. 

Speak, Cap] tain, shall [ I stab] : the for \lorn queen | ? 

2H6,4. I. 

If either salves, or oils, or herbs, or charms, 
AJbr\done wight | : from door | of death | mote raise |. 

F. Q. 1. 5.41. 


Take me for ever, if in my fell anger 

I do | not out\do : all | exam | pie ; where| 

Where are the ladies ? Fletcher. Bonduca, 3. 5. 

With plum|ed helm| : thy slayjer be\gins threats]. Lear, 4. 2. 

His obedience 

Impu[ted be\comes theirs|: by faith] ; his mer|its 

To save them, not their own, though legal, works. P. L. 1 2. 

We | do approve | thy cen|sure : be\loved Cri|tes. 

B. Jons. Cynthia s Reveh, 5. 1 1. 

Certain prepositions are compounded of a preposition 
and some other word which is governed by it. The verbal 
accent now always falls upon the latter, but in our older 
writers it often fell upon the preposition. 

A viscount's daughter, an earl's heir, 

Be\sides what| : her virjtues fair] 

Added to her noble birth. Milton. 

Sweet j is the coun|try : be\cause | full of rich|es. 


These declare 

Thy good | n ess be\yond thought] : and pow'r | divine]. 

P. L. 5. 

That make | no difference : be\twixt cer]tain dy|ing 

And dying well. Fletcher. Bonduca, 2. 1. 

And saw the shape 

Still glor|ious, be \ fore whomj : awake | I stood]. P. L. 8. 


We are strong enough, 

If | not too man|y : be\hind yon|der hill), 
The fellow tells me, she attends weak-guarded. 

Fl. Bonduca, 3. 5. 

Where val|iant Tal|bot : a\bove hu|man thought | 

Enacted wonders. 1 H 6, 1 . 1 . 

And evjer a\gainst : eatfing cares | 

Lap me in soft Lydian airs. & Allegro. 

Nor walk by noon, 

Nor glittering twi| light ; with\out thee | is sweet|. P. L. 4. 

The place unknown and wild 

Breeds dread | ful doubts | : oft fire | is mth\out smoke |. 

F.Q. 1. 1. 12. 

To answer thy desire 

Of knowledge with\in bounds] : beyond | abstain) 

To ask— P. L. 7. 

Adverbs which are formed by adding a preposition to 
the words where and there,, as wherein, whereby, &c. ; 
therein, thereby, thereof, &c, were often accented on the 
first syllable by Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton; but 
now take the accent on the last. 

The adverbs compounded with all, as always, also, &c., 
now take the accent on the first syllable, but were often 
accented by our old poets on the second. 

It should be mentioned before we close the chapter, 
that many words which accent the first syllable, when 
used as substantives, accent the last, when used as verbs, 
as fore\cast, up\start, overthrow, &c, toforecast\, to up- 
start], to overthrow], &c. 




It has been much disputed, if there be such a thing as 
quantity in the English language ; and more learning has 
been shown in the discussion, than either good sense or 
good temper. In matters of this kind, many a difficulty 
will give way before a clear definition. We will therefore 
first endeavour to fix the meaning of the word. 

The Greeks and Latins distinguished between the actual 
and the metrical quantity of a syllable. As far as regarded 
the purposes of metre, all their syllables were divided into 
two great classes, the long and the short. But when they 
looked to the actual quantity, they felt no difficulty in 
making nicer distinctions ; in holding for example the first 
syllable of in-clytus shorter than the first of in-felix, the 
first syllable of es-sem from sum, shorter than the first syl- 
lable of es-sem from edo. In all these cases the first 
syllables were metrically long ; but in one set of cases the 
vowel was long, in the other it was short. 

Now whether our metre depend upon quantity or not, 
we clearly have no metrical distribution of syllables ; and 
therefore can have no metrical quantity, in the sense in 
which these words have just been used. But the notion 
that is generally attached to the word quantity, is that 
which is connected with its metrical value. In this sense, 
therefore, it may fairly be said, that we have no quantity 
in the English language. 

On the other hand, nobody will deny that in English, 
as in every other language, there are some syllables which 

106 QUANTITY. B. I. 

are longer, that is, which usually require a longer time for 
pronunciation, than others. Every addition of a consonant 
must, of necessity, lengthen the syllable; whether the 
consonant be added at the beginning of the word, as in 
the examples ass, lass, glass, or at the end, as in ask, asks, 
ask'st. In both cases the last syllable is longer than the 
second, and the second than the first ; or, — if we choose so 
to express it — the latter syllables have each of them a 
longer quantity than the one preceding. 

Before we examine the connexion between quantity thus 
defined, and our English rhythms, it will be useful, if not 
necessary, to make a few remarks upon the quantities of 
our English vowels ; for though, strictly speaking, we have 
neither long nor short syllables, we have most certainly 
both long and short vowels. 


In all languages, custom must decide what increase of 
quantity shall constitute a distinct letter. Most languages 
range their vowels, as respects time, under two heads, the 
long vowels and the short; but others, as some of the 
Irish dialects, range them under three, the long, the mid- 
dle, and the short vowels. There are reasons for believ- 
ing, that this division prevailed, at least partially, in the 

The long quantity was marked by Anglo-Saxon writers 
in two ways ; either by placing over the vowel our present 
acute accent, as in g6d good, ful foul, which were thus 
distinguished from God God, and ful fall ; or by actually 
doubling the vowel, thus, god was sometimes written good. 
This latter mode of distinguishing the long quantity still 
remains, and even of the former some traces were left as 
late as the sixteenth century. Several writers, in Eliza- 
beth's reign, expressed the sound of the long e by ee, and 
wrote wee and feete for our modern we and feet. 

When the vowel had no such accent, and was followed 
by not more than a single consonant, it seems, in the 


Anglo-Saxon period, to have represented its ordinary or 
middle time ; when it was followed by a double consonant, 
or its equivalent,* it must have indicated its shortest 
time ; when followed by two different consonants, it was 
probably a matter of doubt, which of the two, the ordinary 
or the short time, was meant to be expressed. My rea- 
sons for believing that a double consonant was meant to 
indicate a short vowel, are the following. 

It has been a notion very widely entertained, that ac- 
cent lengthens the quantity of a syllable ; and to a certain 
extent, this notion may be well founded. We cannot 
accent the first syllable of bedight, without lengthening its 
vowel, or adding to it the following consonant bed\ight. 
If we wish to keep the short e, and also to preserve the 
last syllable entire, we must dwell on the d, or in effect 
double that consonant, and pronounce the word bed\dight. 
This, I take it, was the origin of the double consonant. 
Hence, I believe, came that important rule, one of the 
first established, and the longest retained in our ortho- 
graphy, which orders us to double the final consonant of 
an accented syllable, when the vowel is a short one. 

This rule, though for the most part well understood, 
and well observed by Anglo-Saxon writers, gave rise to a 
mode of spelling, which has worked sad confusion in 
our English orthography. As the short vowel of an ac- 
cented syllable doubled the final consonant, it came at 
length to be an established rule, that a double consonant 
always denoted a short vowel. Hence, in the tenth and 
twelfth centuries,f we find the consonant frequently 
doubled, even in unaccented syllables; and so firmly was 
the system established in the beginning of the thirteenth, 

* By the word equivalent, I mean any combination of letters, which 
serves as a substitute for a duplicated letter. Both in Anglo-Saxon and in 
modern English, there seems to have been an aversion to the doubling of 
certain consonants. In modern orthography, we represent a double k by 
ck, a double g or ch by dg or tch. 

f There are el few instances of such spelling in Anglo-Saxon MSS. 


that we have a long poem, called the Ormulum, in which 
the consonant is always doubled, whenever it follows a 
short vowel ; is and it being written iss and itt. 

This peculiar mode of spelling has been ascribed, by 
some to the ignorance of the writer, by others to the 
rudeness of a provincial dialect, by a third party to the 
harsh and rugged pronunciation of an East-English Dane! 
Whatever we may say to the charge of rudeness, that of 
ignorance must rest with the critic. The author adopted 
his system designedly, and warns his transcriber not to 
violate it. Though inconvenient, it is at least consistent ; 
in this particular, indeed, superior to any of those which 
have succeeded it. 

To the same principle may be traced the vicious spell- 
ing, that is found in many English words, and particularly 
in our monosyllables; for example, in sea-gull, set-off, 
bliss, dull, buff, &c. It is rather singular, that though we 
write full with two Fa, yet with something like an appre- 
ciation of the old rule, which limits the duplication to an 
accented syllable, we get rid of the superfluous I when the 
word is compounded, and write hopeful, sinful, &c. 

The law, we have just been examining, gave rise to a 
second, which has had, if possible, a still greater influence 
in deranging the orthography of our language. As the 
doubling of the consonant indicated a short vowel, so by 
the converse rule a single consonant must have indicated 
a long one ; and the vowels must have been long in the 
following dissyllables, mone the moon, time time, name a 
name. Now in the Anglo-Saxon there was a great num- 
ber of words, which had, as it were, two forms ; one end- 
ing in a consonant, the other in a vowel. In the time of 
Chaucer, all the different vowel-endings were represented 
by the e final, and so great is the number of words which 
this writer uses, sometimes as monosyllables, and some- 
times as dissyllables with the addition of the e, that he 
has been accused of adding to the number of his syllables, 
whenever it suited the convenience of his rhythm. In his 


works we find hert and herte, bed and bedde, erth and 
erthe, &c. In the Anglo-Saxon we find corresponding 
duplicates, the additional syllable giving to the noun, in 
all cases a new declension, and in most a new gender. 
In some few cases, the final e had become mute, even be- 
fore the time of Chaucer ; and was wholly lost in the 
period which elapsed between his death and the accession 
of the Tudors, Still, however, it held its ground in our 
manuscripts, and ure our, rose a rose, &c, though pro- 
nounced as monosyllables, were still written according to 
the old spelling. Hence it came gradually to be consi- 
dered as a rule, that when a syllable ended in a single 
consonant and mute e 9 the vowel was long. 

Such is clearly the origin of this very peculiar mode of 
indicating the long vowel ; and it seems to me so obvious, 
that I always felt surprise at the many and various opi- 
nions that have been hazarded upon the subject. We 
could not expect much information from men, who, like 
Tyrwhitt, were avowedly ignorant of the early state of our 
language; but even Hicks had his doubts, whether the 
final e of Anglo-Saxon words were mute or vocal ; and 
Rask, notwithstanding his triumph over that far superior 
scholar, has fallen into this, his greatest blunder. Price, 
whose good sense does not often fail him, supposes this 
mode oi spelling to be the work of the Norman, and the 
same as the " orthography that marked the long syllables 
of his native tongue." As if the e final were mute in 
Norman French !* 

One of the results, which followed the establishment of 
this second principle, was the saving of many of our mono- 
syllables from the duplication of the final consonant. If 
the presence of the mute e indicate a long vowel, by the 
converse rule its absence must indicate a short one. If 
the vowel be long in white, pate, and rote, it must be short 
in whit, pat, and rot. 

* Warton's History of English Poetry, Diss. 1. note p. ciL 


It appears, therefore, that there have been no less than 
four systems employed at different periods, to mark the 
quantity of our English vowels. In the first, the long time 
was marked by the acute accent; in the second, by a 
doubling of the vowel ; in the fourth, by the mute e; while 
the third system indicated the short time by a doubling of 
the consonant, and conversely, the long time by a single 
consonant. In modern practice, the three last systems 
are, to a certain degree, combined. It would be matter of 
rather curious inquiry, to trace the several classes of 
syllables which are subject to their respective laws; and 
the gradual steps by which the later systems have intruded 
on the older ones* 

These observations may show, how inapplicable to our 
tongue are the laws, which regulate the quantity of the 
Greek and Latin. Our earlier critics — a Sydney or a 
Spenser — talked as familiarly of vowels long by position, 
as though they were still scanning their hexameters and 
pentameters ; and would have upheld the first syllable of 
hilly as long, despite the evidence of their own senses. 
The same principles have been acquiesced in, though not 
openly avowed, by later writers ; and Mitford has even 
given us directions to distinguish a long syllable from a 
short one. His system is a mere application of Latin 
rules to English pronunciation, without regard to the 
spelling. So far it is an improvement upon that of his 
predecessors ; but it is forgotten that the laws of Greek 
and Latin quantity were for the most part conventional, 
and derived their authority from usage. Custom with us 
has laid down no rules upon the subject, and without her 
sanction all rules are valueless. 

We have hitherto denominated certain vowels long and 
short, as though we considered the only difference between 
them to be their time ; as though, for instance, the vowel 
in meet differed from that in met only in its being longer. 
The truth is, they are of widely different quality. The 
spelling of many words has remained unchanged, for a 


period, during which we have the strongest evidence of a 
great change in our pronunciation. When the ortho- 
graphy of the words meet and met was settled, the vowels 
in all probability differed only in respect of time ; but they 
have now been changing for some centuries, till they have 
nothing in common between them, but a similarity in their 

In the present state of our language, we have five vowel 
sounds, each of which furnishes us with two vowels. 
Though the vowels, thus related to each other, differ only 
in respect of time, the spelling but rarely shows us any 
connexion between them. 

Short Vowels. 

Long Vowels 











The vowels o and u 9 as they occur in note and nut stand 
alone, as do also the different dipthongs. 


It has been said that our English rhythms are governed 
by accent; I, moreover, believe this to be the sole prin- 
ciple that regulates them. Most of our modern writers 
on Versification are of a different opinion. I have seen 
the title of a book* which professed to give examples of 
verse measured solely by the quantity, but have been 
unable to procure it. Mitford, too, after dwelling on the 
great importance of accent, seems half to mistrust the 
conclusions he has come to ; for he adds, strangely enough, 
and not very intelligibly, " variety is allowed for the quan- 

* Verse measured with a regard solely to the length of time required in 
the pronunciation of syllables, the accent and emphasis being entirely 
unnoticed. Richard Edwards. 1813. 12mo. 


tities of syllables, too freely to be exactly limited by rule. 
A certain balance of quantities, however, throughout the 
the verse, is required, so that deficiency be no where 
striking. Long syllables, therefore, must predominate." 
I do not feel the force of this inference, and much less do 
I acknowledge it, as one of the essentials of our u heroic 
verse." Verses may be found in every poet that has 
written our language, which have neither a balance of 
quantities, nor a predominance of long syllables ; and it 
asks but little stretch of imagination to suppose a case, in 
which the predominance of short quantities, so far from 
being a defect, might be a beauty. 

One of our leading reviews has stated, that, " inde- 
pendent of accent, quantity neither is nor ought to be 
neglected in our versification." In this, if I understand 
it rightly, I agree. The time is, occasionally, of great im- 
portance to the beauty of a verse^ but never an index of 
its rhythm. I suspect, however, that the reviewer looked 
upon quantity in a more important light. He gives us the 
following stave, in which the " long syllables" are arranged 
as they would be in a Latin sapphic, with an accentual 
rhythm, such as is often met with in our dramatic poets. 
The object is to show, that such " coincidence of temporal 
metre" gives a peculiar character to the verse, notwith- 
standing the familiar arrangement of the accents. 

O liquid streamlets to the main returning, 
Murmuring waters that adown the mduntains, 
Rush unobstructed, never In the ocean, 

Hope to be tranquil. 

The following stave is then given with the same accen- 
tuation, and the same pauses, to show how " a difference 
of quantities will destroy the resemblance to Latin sap- 

The headldng torrent from its native caverns 
Bursting resistless, with destructive fury 
Roars through the valley, wasting with its deluge 

Forests and hamlets. 


I cannot help thinking, that the reviewer has deceived 
himself. I do not believe one man in a hundred would be 
sensible of the artful collocation of the long syllables in 
the first stave. True it is, that in both these staves, the 
verse has a peculiar character ; but one, I think, quite inde- 
pendent of the quantity. The sameness of the rhythm 
would alone be sufficient for this purpose. There is no 
doubt also a great difference in the flow of the two stanzas, 
but this too, I think, is in a very slight degree owing to 
the difference in their quantities. The first stave is made 
up of easy and flowing syllables, while the latter is clogged 
throughout with knots of the most rugged and unyielding 
consonants. The mere difficulty of pronunciation might 
account for that difference of flow, which the reviewer 
attributes solely to the difference of the quantities. 

It is not, however, denied, that the effect may be partly 
owing to the change in the quantity. There is no doubt 
that such a change will sometimes force itself upon our 
notice in a very striking manner. In the staves that fol- 
low, the same rhythm has been employed as above, but any 
jostling of consonants has been studiously avoided; 

The busy rivulet in humble valley 
Slippeth away in happiness ; it ever 
Hurrieth on, a solitude around, but 

Heaven above it. 

The lonely tarn that sleeps upon the mountain, 
Breathing a holy calm around, drinks ever 
Of the great presence, even in its slumber 

Deeply rej dicing : 

The striking difference in the flow of these two stanzas 
is almost entirely owing to the difference of their quantities. 

Before we close this section, I would make an observa- 
tion on a passage in the review last quoted, which, 
though it relate to a foreign language, has an indirect 
bearing on the question now before us. The law of French 
verse, as regards quantity, is stated to be — the thirteenth 

VOL. I. I 


syllable short, the sixth long. Now a French verse can 
never take a thirteenth syllable, unless it consist of the 
short vowel sound, which is usually indicated by the e 
final; and as this is the shortest syllable in the French 
language, the critic risked little, in laying down the first 
part of his canon. The latter part, I think, is not cor- 
rect. A strong accent indeed falls on the sixth syllable, 
but every page of French poetry contains syllables so 
situated, which cannot, with any show of reason, be 
classed among the long syllables of the language. 

This notice may be useful as showing that, as regards 
the French, no less than our own tongue, the rhythms 
that depend on accent are independent of quantity. I 
believe the same remark might be extended to every living 
language from India westward. 


Our great poets certainly have not paid the same atten- 
tion to the quantity of their syllables, as to the quality of 
their letter-sounds. Shakespeare, however, seems to have 
affected the short vowels, and particularly the short i, 
when he had to describe any quickness of motion. 
Therefore do nimble-pinion'd doves draw love, 
And, therefore, has the wind-swift Cupid wings. 

jR. # /. 2. 5. 

The nimble gunner 

With linstock now the dev'lish cannon touches — 

H 5. 3, Chorus. 

Milton also sometimes aided his rhythm by a like atten- 
tion to his quantities, 

And soon 

In order, quit of all impediment, 

Instant, without disturb they took alarm, P. L. 6. 

In the following verses long syllables predominate. 
A poor, infirm, weak and despised old man. Lear, 3. 2. 
Unweildy, slow, heavy and pale as lead. 12. Sf Jul. 

The lowing herds wind slowly o'er the lea. Gray* 


Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole, 
Or o'er some haunted stream with fond delay 

Round a holy calm diffusing, 

Love of peace, and lonely musing. 

In hollow murmurs died away. Collins. 

Where Meanders amber waves 

In lingering lab'rinths ereep. Gray. 

Lo ! where Moeotis sleeps, and hardly flows 
The freezing Tanais through a waste of snows. 

The last example is said to have been Pope's favourite 
couplet; but his reasons for the preference are by no 
means obvious. The voice, to be sure, lingers with the 
river; but why so many sibilants ? 


116* RHIME. B.I. 



is the correspondence, which exists between syllables, 
containing sounds similarly modified. 

When the same modification of sound recurs at definite 
intervals, the coincidence very readily strikes the ear; 
and when it is found in accented syllables, such syllables 
fix the attention more strongly, than if they merely received 
the accent. Hence we may perceive the importance of 
rhime in accentual verse. It is not, as is sometimes as- 
serted, a mere ornament; it marks and defines the ac- 
cent, and thereby strengthens and supports the rhythm. 
Its advantages have been felt so strongly, that no people 
have ever adopted an accentual rhythm, without also 
adopting rhime. 

Every accented syllable contains a vowel; hence a 
rhiming syllable may be divided into three parts — the 
initial consonants, or those which precede the vowel, the 
vowel itself, and lastly the final consonants. Rhime may 
be divided into different kinds, accordingly as one or more 
of these elements correspond. 

The first species is the perfect rhime, or that which 
requires a correspondence in all the three. It is called 
by the French the rich rhime, and by that people is not 
only tolerated but sought after. With us it has been very 
generally discountenanced. 

The second kind is alliteration, or that in which only 
the initial sounds correspond. It pervades all our earlier 
poetry, and long held control over our English rhythms. 
We do not, however, stop here to discuss its properties ; 

C. VI. RHTME. 117 

we shall content ourselves merely with one observation. 
Rask tells us, that when the rhiming syllables of an Anglo- 
Saxon verse began with vowels, such vowels were, if pos- 
sible, different. This rule, which was first laid down by 
Olaus Wormius, appears to be a sound one. It seems to 
me a simple deduction from one more general. The alli- 
terative syllables of an Anglo-Saxon verse rhimed, I be- 
lieve, only with the initial consonants. In very felv 
instances have I found the vowels corresponding. When 
the initial consonants were wanting, the law of alliteration 
was looked upon as satisfied, and the vowels, now become 
the initial letters, were found to be different. 

The third and fourth kinds of rhime are the vowel and 
consonantal. The former, which required only a corres- 
pondence in the vowels, was once common among the 
Irish ; but ha3 never been adopted into English verse. 
The latter rhimed only with the consonants. It was well 
known to our ancestors and the kindred races of the 
north : Olaus Wormius exemplifies it in the following quo- 
tation from Cicero : " non docti sed facti." When both 
the final and the initial consonants correspond, it may be 
called, for distinction's sake, the full consonantal rhime. 

In the fifth kind of rhime, the vowels correspond and 
also the initial consonants; in the sixth, the vowels and 
final consonants. The former has been generally con- 
founded with alliteration. It was principally affected by 
those poets, who wrote after the subversion of our regular 
alliterative rhythms, and may perhaps be conveniently de- 
signated as modern alliteration. The latter is our common 
rhime, of which we have too much to say elsewhere, to 
dwell upon it here. 

We have hitherto assumed the rhime to be confined to a 
single accented syllable. Sometimes, however, it reaches to 
the following syllable, and occasionally to the two following 
syllables. In such case the supernumerary syllable or syl- 
lables must be unaccented. The rhime, when thus ex- 
tended, takes the names of double and triple rhime. 

llti RHIME. B. I. 

It has ever been a rule in our prosody, that, when the 
rhime becomes double or triple, the unaccented syllables 
must rhime perfectly. King James, in his " Reulis and 
Cautelis," warns you " quhen there fallis any short syl- 
labis after the lang syllabe in the line, that ze repeit 
thame in the lyne quhilkrymis to the uther, even as ze set 
them downe in the first lyne, as for exempyll ze man not 


Then feir nocht 

Nor heir ocht. 

Then feir nocht 
Nor heir nocht. 

repeating the same nocht in baith lynis ; because this syl- 
labe nocht nather serving for cullour nor fute is bot a tayle 
to the lang fute preceding." The " Reule " is better 
than the reason. It is but too often violated. Even 
Chaucer, for the most part so careful in his rhimes, has 
sometimes broken it In his roguish apology for the in- 
discreet disclosures of his Sompnour, he tells us, 

Of cursing ought eche guilty man him drede, 

For curse wol sle right as assoiling saveth, 

And al|so war|e him : of | a signif|ica|t;iY.* Prologue. 

Clare, the Northamptonshire poet, whose poems in 
general show great facility, has tried his hand at the triple 
rhime ; 

Then come J ere a min\utes gone, 

For the long summer s day 
Puts her wings | swift as lin\nets on 

For hieing away; 
Then come | with no doublings near 

To fear a false love, 
For there's noth|ing withottf | thee, dear, 

Can please in Broomsgrove, &c. 

* A writ issuing out of Chancery to enforce obedience to the Ecclesiastical 



But one of the commonest and most offensive blunders 
is the misplacing of the accent, as in the following couplet 
of Swift, 

But as | to comjic A\ristoph\anes 

The rogue | too vicjious and too | prophane \ is. 

Another, almost as offensive, and perhaps more common, 
is the ending one of the rhimes with an accented syllable. 

Proceed | to Trag|ics : first | Eurip\ides 
(An au | th or where | : I some | times dip | adays,) 
Is r»ght|ly cen|sured: by | the Stag\yrhe 
Because | his num|bers : do | not fudge \ aright. 

The last syllables of the adverbs ought to be accented, 
adays\, aright\. If the reader wish for more examples of 
the triple rhime, he may consult Swift's letter to Sheridan, 
from which I have quoted. Out of more than a dozen 
couplets he may find two or three rhiming decently. 


or that which occurs at the end of a verse, is now almost 
the only one recognised in our language. It is, however, in. 
all probability, foreign in its origin, and made its way 
amongst us slowly and with difficulty. As this opinion 
has been controverted, I will lay the reasons, which led me 
to form it, briefly before the reader. 

In the first place, I know of no poem, written in a 
Gothic dialect with final rhime, before Otfrid's Evangely. 
This was written in Frankish, about the year 870. The 
rhiming Anglo-Saxon poem, which Conybeare discovered 
in the Exeter MS. can hardly be older than the close of 
the tenth century; and though other poems contain 
rhiming passages, I doubt if any of them existed before the 
ninth. Now we have many rhiming Latin poems written 
by Englishmen, some as early as the seventh century. 
This seems to show, that the use of final rhime was 
familiar to the scholar, before it was adopted into the 
vernacular language. It may be asked, whence the Latinist 


got his rhime, unless from the Gothic conquerors of the 
empire, as the Romans were confessedly ignorant of it. I 
would answer, in all probability from the Celtic races; who 
appear to have retained no small portion of their language, 
even amid all the degradation of Roman and Gothic 
servitude. The earliest poems of the Irish have final 
rhime, and we know that the Welsh used it, at least as 
early as the sixth century. Some of the Welsh poems 
have a rhythm strongly resembling that of the early Romance 
poems. Final rhime is found in both, and was in all pro- 
bability derived from one common source. 

A second reason, that has led me to this opinion, is the 
peculiar flow of Anglo-Saxon verse. Final rhime has been 
called a u time-beater ;" it separates each verse from the 
others by a strongly marked boundary, and has ever a ten- 
dency to make the sense accommodate itself to these arti- 
ficial pauses. We find this to be the case even in those 
alliterative poems, which were written after final rhime 
had been introduced among us. The verse generally ends 
with the line, as if the new rhythm had completely over- 
spread the language. But in the Anglo-Saxon rhythms, 
we find the sense running from line to line, and even pre- 
ferring a pause in the midst of a verse. I incline there- 
fore to think, though the subject is one of difficulty, that 
final rhime first originated with the Celtic races, that it 
was early transferred to the Latin, and from thence came 
gradually into our own language. 

The only final rhime, that has been tolerated in our 
language, is of the sixth kind, or that which requires a 
correspondence both in the vowels and final consonants. 
This law is not always observed in those specimens of 
final rhime, which have come down to us from the Anglo- 
Saxons. We do not always find the vowel sounds iden- 
tical, nor the final consonants always corresponding. But 
when, we remember that these verses have never more 
than three accents, that they are subject to the law of 
alliteration, and sometimes also contain internal rhime, 


that the rhiming syllables, moreover, are sometimes as 
many as eight or nine in number, we may see reason 
rather to admire the skill of the poet, than to blame his 
negligence. When, however, the verse was lengthened 
and alliteration banished, we had a fair right to expect 
greater caution, and very rarely indeed does Chancer 
disappoint us. His rhimes are, for the most part, strictly 
correct. The writers who succeeded him seem to have 
been misled by the spirit of imitation. Many syllables, 
which rhimed in the days of Chaucer and Gower, had no 
longer a sufficient correspondence, owing to change of 
pronunciation. Still, however, they were held to be legi- 
timate rhimes upon the authority of these poets. Hence 
arose a vast and increasing number of conventional rhimes, 
which have since continued to disfigure our poetry. Pope 
used them with such profusion, that even Swift remon- 
strated with him on his carelessness. 

Another source of these conventional rhimes was the 
number of dialects, which prevailed during the 15th and 
16th centuries. Some of the Elizabethan writers honestly 
confined themselves to one dialect, and wrote the same 
language that they spoke. Others, and among them some 
of our greatest, allowed themselves a wider license, and, 
when hard-pushed for a rhime, scrupled not at taking it 
from any dialect which could furnish it. Spenser sinned 
grievously in this respect, and grievously has he answered 
for it. He has been accused of altering his spelling to 
help his rhime ! The charge is silly enough, and to a 
sensible man carries its own refutation with it. In a large 
proportion of these cases, the word supposed to have 
been tampered with, is found to be still flourishing in our 
country dialects. His real offence, however, was a serious 
one. It introduced a vagueness into our pronunciation, 
under which the language is still suffering. 

The following passage from Puttenham may help to 
makfe this matter clearer. " There cannot be in a maker 
a fowler fault than to falsifie his accent to serve his 

122 FINAL BHIMfi. B. I. 

cadence, or by untrue orthographic to wrench his words 
to help his rime, for it is a sign that such a maker is not 
copious in his own language, or (as they are wont to say) 
not half his crafts maister ; as for example, if one should 
rime to this word restore, he may not match him with 
doore or poore, for neither of both are of like terminant 
either by good orthographie or by naturall sound, there- 
fore such rime is strained ; so is it to this word ram, to 
say came, or to beane, den, for they sound nor be written 
alike, and many other like cadences, which were superfluous 
to recite, and are usual with rude rimers, who observe 
not precisely the rules of prosodie. Neverthelesse in all 
such cases, if necessitie constrains, it is somewhat more 
tolerable to help the rime by false orthographie, then to 
leave an unpleasant dissonance to the ear, by keeping true 
orthographie and losing the rime ; as, for example, it is 
better to rime dore with restore, then in his truer ortho- 
graphie, which is doore, &c." 

Notwithstanding some inconsistency of expression, the 
critic's meaning is, on the whole, tolerably clear. He pre- 
fers a spelling and a pronunciation, different from those 
generally used, to a false rhime. He would have doore 
spelt and pronounced dore, though such spelling and pro- 
nunciation were vulgar and unfashionable, whenever it 
was made to rhime with restore. It is singular that the 
provincial pronunciation has now got the upper hand; 
although we still spell the word door, we pronounce it 

While upon this subject, it may be observed, that* 
and th are used in our language, to represent both a whis- 
per and a vocal sound; and these sounds often rhime 
conventionally. Such rhime may fully satisfy the eye, but 
it is most offensive to the ear. 

In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, 

Sprung the rank weed, and thrived with large increase. 

Pope. Essay on Criticism. 


Soft o'er the shrouds aerial whispers breathe, 
Which seem xi but zephyrs to the train beneath. 

Pope. Rape of the Lock. 

The rhiming syllables, we have seen, must have a cor- 
respondence between the vowels and the final consonants; 
but here the correspondence ceases; no perfect rhime 
can be allowed. Puttenham warns his reader against 
rhiming such words as constraine and restrained aspire and 
respire ; " which rule, neverthelesse, is not well observed 
by many makers for lacke of good judgment and a delicate 
ear." It was sometimes violated by Chaucer, and fre- 
quently by Pope. The blunders of no writer, however 
eminent, should weigh with us as authority. The perfect 
rhime always sounds strangely to the ear, and in some 
cases most offensively so. 

The final rhime may be single, double, ot triple. In 
the rhiming Anglo-Saxon poem, above alluded to, we have 
all the three. Chaucer seems to have preferred the double 
rhime ; the letter e, or some one of its combinations, form- 
ing, for the most part, the unaccented syllable. The 
poets of Elizabeth's reign had no objection to the double 
rhime ; but it was seldom used by Dryden, and still more 
rarely by Pope. The latter, in Johnson's opinion, was 
never happy in his double rhimes, excepting once in the 
Rape of the Lock. The following couplet is, no doubt, 
alluded to ; 

The meeting points the sacred hair dissever 
From the fair head for ever and for ever ! 

The triple rhime is properly an appurtenant to the 
triple measure. In our common measure it is hardly ever 
found, and seems opposed to the very nature of the 
rhythm. There are instances indeed, in which the triple 
rhime closes our common verse of five accents, but it is 
then always a professed imitation of a foreign model, the 
sdrucciolo rhime, — as in that stanza of Byron, 


Oh | ye immor|tal Gods| : what is | theog\ony? 

Oh | thou too mor|tal man| : what is | philanthropy ? 

Oh ! world | that was | and is| : what is | coamog\ony ? 

Some peo|ple have | accused | me : of | miBan\thropy, 

And yet | I know | no more| : than | the m&hog\any 

That forma | this desk| : of what | they mean| — \ycan\thropy 

I comprehend, for without transformation 

Men become wolvts on any slight occasion. 

Don Juan, 9. 20 

The affectation has no other merit than its difficulty. 


or that which exists between the last accented syllables 
of the two sections, may be considered as the direct off- 
spring of final rhime. In the Anglo-Saxon poem already 
mentioned, each section rhimes, and becomes to many 
purposes a distinct verse. But when the rhiming syl- 
lables were confined to the close of what had been the alli- 
terative couplet, this couplet became the verse, and it 
was then necessary to distinguish between the middle 
rhime, if any such were introduced, and the regular final 
rhime, which shut in the versei 

This middle rhime was most frequently introduced into 
verse of four accents. In the stanza of eight and $i#, as it 
has been termed, it was very common. In the ] 6th cen- 
tury it was employed by learned bishops, and on the most 
sacred subjects; but not with the approbation of Putten- 
ham. That critic was of opinion that " rime or concord 
is not commendably used both in the end and middle of 
a verse ; unlesse it be in toyes and trifling poesie, for it 
sheweth a certain lightness either of the matter or of the 
makers head, albeit these common rimers use it much." 
The poems of Burns show, that it still keeps its hold upon 
the people; and Coleridge, who wrote for the few, has used 
it, and with almost magical effect ; 


And now there came both mist and snow, 

And it grew wond'rous cold, 
And ice | ma8t-high\ : came floating by\ 

As green as emerald. 

The ice was here, the ice was there, 

The ice was all around, 
It crack'd | and growVd\ : and roar'd | and howVd\, 

Like noises in a s wound. 

When, as is sometimes the case, the middle rhime 
occurs regularly, it would perhaps be better to divide the 


is that which exists between syllables contained in the 
same section. It was well known to all the early dialects. 
According to Olaus Wormius, the consonantal rhime will 
suffice in the first section; but in the second, there must 
be a correspondence both between the vowels and the 
final consonants. The same rule applies to Anglo-Saxon 

The origin of this law will, I think, be obvious, when 
we recollect, that sectional rhime was not a substitute for 
alliteration, but merely an addition to it. Now in the first 
section, there was always a probability of finding two alli- 
terative syllables,* and as a section never contained more 
than three, and generally but two accented syllables, if the 
common sectional rhime were added to the alliteration, 
this could hardly be effected without a perfect rhime. In 
some few cases, such has really been the result of this 
union; but, in general, they avoided it by aiming only at 
consonantal rhime. In the second section, where there 
was generally but one alliterative syllable, a closer corres- 
pondence was required. 

In tracing the several kinds of sectional rhime, it will be 
convenient to class them according to the different sec- 
tions in which they occur. 

* See the section headed alliteration in the present chapter. 


When the section begins with an accent, it will be re- 
presented by the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, accordingly as each 
couple of adjacent accents are separated by one unaccented 
syllable, or the first, the second, or both couples are sepa- 
rated by two unaccented syllables. 

When the section begins with one unaccented syllable, it 
will, under the like circumstances, be designated by 5, 6,7, 
8; and by 9, 10, 11, 12, when it begins with two unac- 
cented syllables. 

When the section ends with one or two unaccented syl- 
lables, we shall represent such ending by subjoining / or 11 
to the figure, indicating such section, thus — 1/. 2lL 

We will now arrange our rhimes, and begin with such as 
are found in the section of two accents. 

The section 1. was at all times rare, it generally occurs 
as the last section of a verse. 

But he that in his deed was wiss, 
Wy8t thai assemblyt : war | and quhar\. 

The Bruce, 2. 268. 

Bat he has gotten to oar grief 

Ane to succeed him. 
A cliiel wha'U soundly : buff | our beef \, 

I muckle dread him. Burns* 

1/. was common, and often contained the sectional 
rhime in Anglo-Saxon. 

Sar | and *or|ge : susl throwedon. 

Pain and sorrow and sulphur bore they. Cad. 

Stunede seo brune 
Yth | with oth\re : ut feor adraf 
On wendel-sae : wigendra scola. 

Dash'd the brown 

Wave, one 'gainst other ; and far out drave 

On Wendel-sea, the warrior bands. Alfred* 

Strong waes and rethe 

Se the woetrum weold : wreak | and theah\te 
Manfaethu beam. 


Strong was he and fierce 

That wielded the waters ; he cover' d and o'erwhelm'd 
The children of wrath. Cadmon. 

According to rule, we find both vowels and final conso- 
nants rhiming in the second section. 

Section 2. is sometimes, but rarely, found containing 

Skill | mixt with will\ : is he that teaches best. Tusser. 

Will | stoode for skill\ : and law obeyed lust ; 

Might | trode down right] : of king there was no feare. 

Ferrers. M.for M. Somerset, 38. 

The section 2l. was very commonly rhimed, particu- 
larly by the Anglo-Saxon poets. The rhime was mostly 
double, and sometimes perfect, 

Frod\ne and god\ne : faeder Unwines. 

The wise and good father of Unwin. Traveller's Song. 

■ — Ac hi halig god 
Fer\ede and ner\ede : fiftena stod 
Deop ofer dunum : sae drence flod 
Monnes elna. 

But them holy God 

Led and rescued ; fifteen it stood 

Of man's ells, high o*er the downs — 

Sea-drenching flood. Cadmon. 

Fold waes adaeled 

Wat\er of wat\rum : tham the waniath gyt 
Under fsestenne. 

Earth was parted 

The waters from the waters, — those that yet won 
Under the firmament. Cadmon. 

Swil\cum and swil\cum : thu meant sweatole ongitan. 
By such and such things thou mayst plainly see, &c. 


Light\ly and bright\ly : breaks away 

The morning from her mantle grey. Byron. 


What will you have ? Me or your heart again ? 
Nei\ther of ei\ther: I remit both twain. 

±j. Lj» ±j. O. Z. 

/ ft 

This Aiming section not unfrequently closed the couplet 
in Anglo-Saxon verse. 

Tha wseron gesette : wid\e and sid\e. 

They were y-set wide and far. Cadmon. 

Garsecg theahte 

Sweart synnihte : wid\e and s%d\e 
Wonne wegas. 

Ocean cover'd 

% Black with lasting-night, wide and far 
Wan pathways. Ctedmon. 

Ofer lichoman : l#n\ne and san\ne. 

Over the body weak and sluggish. Alfred. 

The rhiming section wide and side became, like many of 
the others, a household phrase. It still survives in some 
of our northern dialects. 

The section 5 was often selected for the rhime by our 
later poets. 

By leave | and love\ : of God above, 

I mean to shew, in verses few, 

How through the breers my youthful years 

Have run their race. Tusser. 

Her look | was like\ : the morning's star. Burns. 

It is too much we daily hear 

To wive | and thrive\ : both in one year. Tusser. 

To feede | my neede\ : he will me leade 

To pastures green and fat ; 
He forth brought me, in libertie, 

To waters delicate. 
Yet though \ I go\ : through death his wo, &c. 

Archbishop Parker. 

He to 7 d | the gold] : upon the board. Heir of Linne. 


They rusKd \ and push' d\ : and blude outgush'd. 

Burns. Sheriff Muir. 
Let other poets raise a fracas 

'Bout vines j and wines\ : and drunken Bacchus. 

Burns. Scotch Drink. 

And then to see how ye're negleckit. 
How huff'd | and cuff % d\ : and disrepeckit. 


We will now proceed to the verse of five accents. 

Herein my foly vaine may plain appear 

What hap | they heape\ : which try out cunning slight. 

Higg. M. for M. King Bladud. 

He staid | his steed\ : for humble miser's sake. 

F. Q. 2. 1. 9. 
At last | when lust\ : of meat and drink had ceas'd. 

F. Q. 2. 2. 39. 

These kites 

That bate | and beat\ : and will not be obedient. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 3.1. 
I' 11 look | to like\ : if looking liking move. 

R. of J. \ . 3. 
The hous thai tuk, and Southeroun put to ded j 
Gat nane \ bot ane\ : with lyff out of that sted. 

Wallace, 9. 1 655. 
Yet none | but one\ : the scepter long did sway, 
Whose conquering name endures until this day. 

NiccoU. M.for M. Arthur, 5. 
Thus might \ not right\ : did thrust me to the crown. 

Blennerhas8et. M.for M. Vorttgern, J 3. 
They playde j not prayed\ : and did their God displease. 

Blennerhasset. M. for M. Vortigei n, \ 6. 

In fight | and flight] : nigh all their host was slayne. 

Higgins. M.for M. King Albanact 9 40. 

For hoape \ is sloape\ : and hold is hard to snatch, 
Where bloud embrues the hands that come to catch. 

Higgins. M. for M. King Forres, 1 8. 
VOL. I. K 


I made them all, that knew my name, aghast — 
To shrinke | and slinke\ : and shift away for fear. 

Higgins. King Morindas, 4. 

Their spite], their might] : their falsehood never restes. 

Baldwin. M.for M. Rivers, 34. 
Ne can | the man] : that moulds in secret cell, 
Unto her happy mansion attain. F. Q. 2. 3. 41. 

No reach | no breach] : that might him profit bring, 
But he the same did to his profit wring. 

Spens. Mother Hubbard's Tale. 

He hath won 

With fame | a name] : toCaius Marcius; these 

In honour follows Coriolanus. Cor. 2. 1 . 

With cuffs | and ruffs] : and farthingales and things. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 5. 3, 

All this division 

Shall seem \ & dream] : and fruitless vision. 

M. N. D. 3. 2. 

When shall you see me write a thing in rhime ? 
Or groan | for Joan] ? : or spend a minute's time 
In pruning me ? When shall you hear that I 
Will praise a hand, a foot, a face, an eye, 
A gait], a state] : a brow, a breast, a waist? 

L. L. L. 4. 3. 

The rhime is much less common in the last section of a 

Bid those beware : who weene ] to win | 

By bloudy deeds the crown, 
Lest from the height: theyfeele \ the fall | 

Of topsye turvye down. 

Higg. M.for M. King Porrex. 

Good husbandmen : must moil | and toil | . 


Then ye may tell : how pell \ and mell\, 

By red claymores and muskets knell, 

Wi dying yell, the tones fell 

And whigs, &c. Burns. Sheriff Muir. 


With foul reproaches and disdainful spight 
. He vilely entertains: and will | or nill\, 
Bears her away. F. Q. 1. 3. 43. 

51. was often rhimed by the Anglo-Saxon poets, but 
rarely by their successors. 

Gegrem\ed grym\me : grap or wrathe — 

Grimly enraged he seized in wrath— Cadmon. 

Ne maeg his aerende 

His bod\z beod\an : thy ic wat he inc abolgen wyrth. 

Nor may his herald, 
His errand do ; therefore, I wot, with you enrag'd he'll be. 


To rule the kingdom both wee left and fell, 
To war\ring, jar\ring: like two hounds of hell. 

Higgins. M.forM. King Forrex, 5. 

And will | you, nill \ you : I will marry you. 

Taming of the Shrew, 2. 1. 

Section 6. also was often rhimed by our old writers. 

With swordes \ and no wordes\ : wee tried our appeale. 

Ferrers. M.forM. Gloucester, 18. 

In the bed as I lay, 

What time \ strake the chime\ : of mine hour extreme, 
Opprest | was my rest : with mortal affray, 
My foes | did unclose\ : I know not which way, 
My chamber doors. 

Ferrers. M.for M. Gloucester, 60. 

Dredge with a plentiful hand, 

Lest weed \ stead of seed\ : overgroweth thy land 


A wand \ in thy hand\ : though thou fight not at all, 
Makes youth to their business better to fall. Tusser. 

Then up \ with your cup\ : till you stagger in speech, , 
And match | me this catch] : though you swagger and screech, 
Ad drink \ till you wink\ : my merry men each. . 

W. Scctt. 

k 2 


To teach and unteach\: in a school is unmeet, 

To do and undo\ ; to the parse is unsweet. Tusser. 

Both bear | and (orbear\ : now and then as ye may, 
Then " Wench ! God a mercy" thy husband will say. 


This rhiming section sometimes ends the verse. 

But hold to their tackling : there do \ but s.few\. 


Like a demigod here : sit / | in the sky\. L. L. L. 

To feel only looking : on fair est of fair\. 

X/. -L/« Ju» £l% L. 

The section 6/. seems to have been a very favourite 
one for the double rhime. It is only found in verse of the 
triple measure, or its predecessor the " tumbling verse." 

So many as love me, and use me aright, 

With treas\ure and pleas\ure : I richly requite. Tusser. 

Who car\eth nor spar\eth : till spent he hath all, 

Of bob\bing nor rob\bing : be careful he shall. Tusser. 

Not caring nor fear\ing : for hell nor for heaven. 


He noy\eth, destroy\eth : and all to this drift, 

To strip his poor tenant. Tusser. 

Tithe du\ly and true\ly : with hearty good will, 

That God and his blessing may rest with thee still. Tusser. 

So due\ly and true\ly : the laws alway to scan, 
That right may take his place. 

Ferrers. M.forM. Tresilian, 21. 

So catch\ers and snatch\ers : toil both night and day, 
Notntedy but greedy : still proUing for their prey. 

Ferrers. M.forM. Tresilian, 11. 

Then shak\ing and quak\ing : for fear of a dream, 
Hv\{wak\ed all nak\ed : in bed as I lay — 
My foes did unclose, I know not which way, 
My chamber dores. 

Ferrers. M.for M. Gloucester, 60. 


The Sections with three accents rhime much more rarely 
than those with two. They differ also from the latter in 
admitting various dispositions of the rhiming syllables. 
The rhime will be ranged under the first, second, or third 
class, accordingly as it exists between the two first ac- 
cented syllables, the two last, or the two extremes. 

Section 1. 

Sundry sorts of whips, 
As disagreement : healths | or wealths | decrease [. 

Baldwin. M.forM. Rivers, 18. 

The | wes bold \ gebyld\ : er thu eboren were. 
For thee was a dwelling built ere thou wert born. 

Ex MSS. 

Gasta weardum : haef |don gleam | and dream\. 

For the spirit-guards — : They had light and joy. Cadmon. 

For all our good descends from God's good will, 
And of our lewdnes : spring|eth all | oar ill\. 

Higgins. M.forM. Lord Irenglas, 10. 

Section 1/. 

Tha com ofer foldan : fus sithian 
Mcer\e mer\gen thridjda: nseron metode, 
Tha gyta wid loud, &c. 

Then gan o'er earth quickly advance, 

The great third morn, nor had the Maker 

As yet wide land, &c. Cadmon. 

Cweth se Hehsta : hat\an sceoljde Sat\an. 

Quoth the Highest, Satan he should hight. Cadmon. 

Section 2. 

Some magician's art, 

Armd \ thee or charm* d \ thee strong : which thou from heav'n, 
Feignd'st at thy birth was giv'n thee, in thy hair. 


If no mishap men's doings did assail, 

Or | that their acts | wdfact$\ : were innocent* 

Higgins. M.forM. King Malin, 1. 


Hapjly to wive | and thrive] : as best I may. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 1. 2. 

We | will have rings | aud Miji£r*| : and fine array. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 2. 1. 

Yet | she loves none | but oni| : that Marinel is hight. 

F. Q. 3. 5. 8. 

But Florimel with him : un|to his bow'r | he bore\. 

F. Q. 3. 8. 36. 

Section 2/. 

In sumptuous tire she joy'd herself to prank, 

But | of her love | to /av|ish : little have she thank. 

F. Q. 2. 2. 36. 

And said he wolde 

Hire lemman be : whethjer she wol\de or nol\de. 

Chan. Man of Lawes Tale. 

Section 3/. 

Thus | they tug\ged and rug\ged : till it was ner nyght. 

Turnament of Tottenham. 

Hav|e I twy\es or thry\es : redyn thurgh the route. Same. 

Sec\can soh|te ic and Bec\can : Seafolan and Theodoric, 
Secca sought I and Becca, Seafowl, and Theodric. 

Travellers Song. 

The section 5. is much more frequently used for this 
purpose, particularly with rhime of the third class. 

1st Class. 

This blade \ in bloud\y hand| : perdy I beare. 

Higg. M. for M. King Morindas, 1 . 

And fair\\y fare \ on foot) : however loth. 

F. Q. 2. 2. 12. 

But honour, virtue's meed, 

Doth bear | the /air | est flower | ; in honourable seed. 

F. Q. 2. 3. 10. 

We little have : and love | to live \ in peace |. 

Higgins. M.for M. King Morindas, 5. 


Still needes I must repented faults forerunne, 
Repent and tell : the fall | and foile | I felt]. 

Blenerhasset. M.forM. Vortigerti, 10. 

A faire persone : and strong | and yong | of ag|e, 

And full of honour, and of curtesie. Chau. Clerkes Tale. 

2nd Class. 

Rather let try extremities of chance, 
Than euter\priz\ed praise\ ; for dread to disavaunce. 

F.Q. 3. 11. 24. 

Rocks, caves | , lakes, j^w^l, bogs, dens\ : and shades of death. 

P. L. 2. 

Milton here uses rhime to strengthen his accent. His 
verse wanted such aid, and he has applied it skilfully. His 
contempt for these " tinkling" sounds never led him to 
reject them, where they could do good service. 

Traistis for trewth : thus was | thai ded \ in deed\. 

Wallace, 11. 184. 

What lucke had I : on such | a lot | to light], 

Higg. M.forM. King Locrinus, 18* 

I made thy heart to quake, 
When on thy crest : with migh|ty stroke | I strake\. 

Higg. M. for M. Lord Nennius, 24. 

So lightly leese they all : which all | do weene | to win\. 

Baldwin. M.forM. Tresilian, 1. 

3rd Class. 

He all their ammunition, 

And feats | of war | defeats. Samson. 

They broyles | at sea|, the toiles\ : I taken had on land. 

Higg. M.for M. King Brenners, 15. 

And I amongst my mates, the Romish fryers, felt, 
More joye \ and less | anoye\ ; than erst in Britain brave. 

Higg. M.forM. Cadwallader. 

And load \ upon | him laid\ : his life for to have had. 

F. Q. 3. 5. 22. 


Their armjonr help'd | their harm\ : crush'd in and bruised. 

P.L. 6. 

Seeing the state : un«featf|fast how | it stode\. 

SackvUle. M.for M. Buckingham* 12. 

My rule my riches, royal blood and all, 

When fortune frownde ; the/e/)ler made | my /all\. 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckingham, 108. 

What horse ? a roan, a crop- ear is it not? 

It is my lord ; That roan | shall be | my throne]. 

\H4,2. 3. 

Section 5/. is rarely rhimed. 

And do I bear my Jeanie own 

That equal transports move her ? 
I ask for dearest life alone, 

That I | may live | to love | her. Burns. 

Some apology may be due for such an overflow of au- 
thority. It should be remembered, that these rhiming 
sections are of the very essence of our vernacular poetry. 
They form the poetical idiom, the common stock— of 
which the Anglo-Saxon Scop and the Maker of Elizabeth's 
reign alike availed themselves. From the sixth to the six- 
teenth century, we find the same rhimes again and again 
recurring in our poetry; and even when banished from 
what, in courtesy, we call polite literature, we find them 
still lingering in the songs of the people. Some of them 
can boast an antiquity, which alone ought to secure them 
our respect; and others have sunk so deeply into our 
language, that all who pay attention to philology, must 
feel an interest in tracing their origin. 


is that which exists between the last accented syllable of 
the first section, and the first accented syllable of the se- 
cond. It appears to have flourished most in the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. I do not remember any instance 
of it in the Anglo-Saxon, but it is probably of native 


growth. A kindred dialect, the Icelandic, had, at an 
early period, a species of rhime closely resembling the 
present — the second verse always beginning with the last 
accented syllable of the first. It is singular that the 
French had, in the sixteenth century, a rhime like the Ice- 
landic, called by them la rime entrelassee. The present 
rhime differed from both, as it was contained in one verse. . 
The rhime was sometimes of the sixth kind, and sometimes 
consonantal ; but, in the great majority of instances, it was 
perfect. The inverse rhime is 5 I believe, the only one in 
our language that has ever affected a perfect correspond- 
ence between the rhiming syllables. 

We will begin with the verse of four accents. 

These steps | both reach] : and teach | thee shall | 

To come | by thrift\ ; to shift | withal|. Tusser. 

Some lucky find a flow'ry spot, 

For which they never toilM nor swat, 

They drink | the sweet\ : and eat | the fat|. 

Burns to J. S. 
Where with intention I have err* d, 

No other plea I have, 
But thou | art good\ ; and good\ness still | 
Delighteth to forgive. Burns. 

Take you my lord and master than, 

Unless | mischance] ; mischanc\eth me|, 

Such homely gift of me your man. Tusser to Lord W. Paget. 

The pi | per loud\ : and loud\er blew|, 

The dancers | qukk\ ; and quick\er flew|. Burns. 

O Henderson the man ! the brother ! 

And art | thou gone\ : and gone | for ev|er ! Burns. 

May prudence bless enjoyment's cup, 

Then rap|tur'd sip\ : and sip \ it np|. Burns. 

The rhime is generally double when the verse is in the 
triple measure. 

Be greedy in spending and careless to save, 
And shortjly be need\y : and read\y to crave|. 

Tusser. January Husbandry, 


His breast | fall of ran\cour : like can\ker to fret|, 
His heart like a lion his neighbour to eat. 

Tusser. Envious Neighbour. 

Your beauty's a flow'r in the morning that blows, 

And withjers the fas\ter : the fas\ter it grows). Bums. 

Come pleasure or pain, 

My worst | word is wel\come : and wel\come again |. 


In the verse of five accents the inverse rhime is most 
frequent, when there are two accents in the first section. 

In such | & plight\ ; what might | a la|dy doe |. 

Higg. M.for M. Queen Estride, 26. 

And let | report] ; your fort |itude | commend |. 

Higg. M.for M. King Brennus 9 85. 

His baser breast, but in his kestral kind, 

A pleasing vein of glory vain did find, 

To which his flowing tongue and troublous spright 

Gave | him great aid\ : and made \ him more | inclin'd|. 

F. Q.2.3. 4. 

She must | lie here\ : of mere | neces|sity|. 

L. L. Lost, 1.1. 

We plough | the deep\ : and reap \ whatoth|ers sow|. 


The following are instances of consonantal and perfect 

The rich and poor and evry one may see, 
Which way | to love\ ; and live | in due | degree j. 

Higgins. M.forM. King Albanact. 

When I am dead and rotten in my dust, 

Then gin | to live] : and leave | when oth|ers lust|. 

Hall to his Satires. 

For God | is just] ; in/ws|tice will | not thrive). 

Higg. M.for M. King Humber. 

Thus made | of might] : the rot^f|iest | to wring]. 

Baldwin. M.for Af. Rivers, 25. 


I fol|low' dfast\ i but/as*|er did | he fly|. M. N. D. 3. 2. 

For all | I did] : I did | but as | I ought|. F. Q. 2. 1. 33. 

For he | wasflesh\ : aXL flesh | doth frair,ty breed|. 

F. Q. 2. 1.52, 

Weak | she makes strong] • and strong | thing doth increase |. 

F. Q. 2. 2.31. 

If | you were men\ : as men | ye are | in show|; 

You would not use a gentle lady so. M. N. D.3. 1 . 

Vows | are but breath\ : and breath | a va|pour is|. 

Love's Labour Lost, 1. I. 

■ ■ Folly in wisdom hatcht 
Hath wisdom's warrant, and the help of school 
And wifs | own grace] : to grace \ a learn |ed fool|. 

L. L. Lost, 5. 1. 

O hap|py tove\ ; where love | like this | is found). 

Burns s Cottar's Saturday Night. 

This rhime is much more rare, when the first section 
contains three accents. 

Herein | my foljly vayne\ % did playne \ appear]. 

Higgins. M.for M. King Bladud. 

And | by my father's love\ : and leave \ am arm'd | 

With his good will and thy good company. T.oftheS. 1. 1. 

But wheth|er they | be taen\ : or slain | we hear | not. 

R 2, 5. 6. 
That brought [ into | this world] : a world | of woe|. 

P. L. 9. 

For | it is chaste | and pure] : as pur\est snow|. 

F. Q. 2. 2. 9. 
For | 'tis a sign | of love\ : and love \ to Rich|ard, 
Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world. R 2,5. 5. 

The double rhime is very rare in the verse of five 

The musis freedome graunted them of elde, 

Is barde^ | slye rea\sons: treasons high | are held|. 

M.for M. Collingbourn. 


The inverse rhime was not unfrequent in the verse of 
six accents. Spenser loved to close with it his beautiful 
and majestic stanza. 

Whereby | with eas\y payne] : great gayne | we did | outfetj. 

Baldwin. M.for M. Trisilian, 8. 

He nevjer meant | with voords\ : but swords | to plead | his right]. 

F. Q. 1. 4. 42. 

By sub|tilty | nor slight] : nor might \ nor might[iest eharm|. 

F. Q. 1. 11.36. 

And what | I can | not quite] ; requite | with u|sury|. 

F.Q. 1.8.27. 

So good|ly did | beguile] ; the gvil\er of | his prey]. 

F. Q. 2. 7. 44. 

Therefore | need mote | he live] : that liv\mg gives | to all). 

F. Q. 3. 6. 47* 

And made | that cap|tives thrall] ; the MraW | of wick|edness[. 

F.Q. 2.4. 16. 

■ Tried in heaviest plight 
Of la|bours huge | and hard] : too hard | for hujman wight|. 

Milton. The Passion. 


The laws which regulate the Anglo-Saxon verse, have 
been the subject of much speculation. Rask claims the 
merit of their discovery, and does not affect to hide his 
triumph over the blindness and stupidity of our country- 
men. The opinions of Hickes, Conybeare, and Turner, 
are submitted to review, and dismissed with an air of very 
superior scholarship. The extreme deference, with which 
these claims have been listened to, and the acquiescence 
which has been paid to them in this country, is the best 
proof I have met with of that ignorance, with which he 
and other foreigners have thought fit to charge us. 

According to Rask, the law of Anglo-Saxon alliteration 
is this. In every alliterative couplet, there must be three 
syllables (and no more) beginning with the same letters, 


two in the first section, and one in the second. If the 
rhiming syllables begin with vowels, such vowels should if 
possible be different. Each of the three syllables must 
take the accent. He gives for example the two couplets ; 

Tha wets after wiste There was after the feast 

Wbj> up a-hafen. A cry rais'd. 

J^otenas and ylfe, Giants, and elves, 

And orceas. And spectres. 

He adds that sometimes in short verses there is but one 
rhiming letter in the first section. 

Now the first thing that strikes us, is, that these are the 
rules which Olaus Wormius laid down for the regulation 
of Scandinavian verse. The passage is familiar to all who 
interest themselves in these matters, and was quoted by 
Hickes. The merit then of Rask must he in their appli- 
cation. Do the same rules apply to the Anglo-Saxon as 
to the Icelandic verse ? 

In the later poems — those of the tenth and eleventh 
century — these rules partially hold; and I think more 
closely in the old English poems, which were contempo- 
rary with the great mass of Icelandic literature. But the 
flower of Anglo-Saxon literature was of much earlier date, 
and here the rules fail in the majority of instances. More 
than two-thirds of the couplets with four accents, and of 
the couplets with five more than one-half, have only two 
rhiming syllables. Even of the couplets with six accents, 
there is a large proportion in the like predicament. We 
find also in many couplets more than three alliterative 
syllables. I cannot think that much merit was due for 
the application of a principle, that fits thus loosely. 

These rules had been long recognised as applicable to 
Icelandic verse. They were not only laid down by Olaus 
Wormius, but also in the Hattalykia or Metre-key, the 
well-known Icelandic prosody, composed in the thir- 
teenth century. Several writers had also recognised 
Anglo-Saxon verse as alliterative, though no one had dis- 


covered the laws which governed its alliteration. We 
have examined the rules which Rask has proposed for 
this purpose, and will now venture to lay down others, 
which we think may be trusted to with greater safety. 

1st. Every alliterative couplet had two accented sylla- 
bles, containing the same initial consonants, one in each 
of the two sections. 

2ndly. In a large proportion of instances, particularly 
in the longer couplets, the first section contained two 
such syllables. This custom gradually became so prevalent, 
that after the ninth century it may be considered as the 
general law. 

3rdly. Sometimes, though rarely, the second section had 
two rhiming syllables. 

4thly. The absence of initial consonants satisfied the 
alliteration. As a correspondence in the vowels seems to 
have been avoided, these syllables generally began with 
different vowels, when the initial consonants were wanting. 

Rask has broadly stated, that the second section cannot 
admit two rhiming syllables, and has ventured to impugn 
the conclusions of such a man as Conybeare, because they 
were opposed to this " law of alliteration." I therefore 
give the following examples in proof of the third rule. 

Cwaedon that hie rice : rece mode 

Ag\&n wol|dun : and | swa eath\e meahjton. 

Qnoth they in wrathful mood, that they the kingdom 

Would have, and that with ease they might. Cadmon. 

Tha Aulixes : leafe haefde 

Thrac\ea cyn|ing: that | he Mow | an mos|te. 

When Ulysses had leave 

Thracia's king that he might thence — Alfred. 

Rathe was gefylled 

Heah | cyning|es Jues\ : him | was ^a/|ig leoht. 

— * — Quick was fulfill 'd 
The high-king's hest : around him was holy light. Cadmon* 


On last | leg\d\m : Iath\um leod\xxm. 
. At foot they laid on the loathed bands. 

Brunanburgh War Song, 

The number might easily be increased ; but the reader 
can do this for himself, when we come to the considera- 
tion of our Anglo-Saxon rhythms. 

In the longer species of verse, when the couplet con- 
tained more than six accents, three rhiming syllables in 
one section were common, both in the first section, and in 
the second. 

Alfred used occasionally three rhiming syllables in the 
first section, when the couplet contained six, and even 
when it contained five accents. But such instances are rare. 

We also find couplets in which the alliteration is, as it 
were, double — the same two letters beginning accented 
syllables in the second section, as in the first. Such in- 
stances are far from unfrequent. The coincidence, how- 
ever, may be accidental. 

It should be observed, that in Csedmon and the earlier 
poets, the initial consonants are not always rhimed cor- 
rectly. They seem satisfied if the first consonants corres 
pond, and often make s rhime with sw or sc. After the 
ninth century, there was in general a more accurate cor- 

In the alliterative poems of the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries, we find the vowels corresponding much 
more frequently than in Anglo-Saxon. So much was this 
kind of rhime affected by the writers, who ushered in the 
reign of Elizabeth, that we have elsewhere called it " mo- 
dern alliteration/' Alliteration indeed, as a system, had 
long been banished to the North, but every " maker" 
was hunting after rhime, initial or final, and thus came 
the last improvement upon the simple alliteration of our 

But when ambition bleared both our eyes, 
And hasty hate\ : had brotherhode bereft. 

Higg. M.for M. King Forrex, 5. 


What hart | so hard] : but doth abhorre to hear. 

Francis Segar. M.forM. Richard,!. 

Not raign\mg but racing : as youth did him inticc. 

Baldwin, M.forM. Tresffian, 16. 

Enregister my mirrour to remaine, 

That princes may : my vic|es vile | refraye|. 

Higg. M.forM. Kinglago.S. 

Devydedwell: wejoint\\y did | enjoy\ 

The princely state. Higg. M.for M. King Forrex, 4. 

But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike, 

And that thy tongue : some say | of breeding breathes\. 

Lear, 5. 3. 

Wave | rolling afjter wave\ : where way j they found). 

P. L. 7. 


Hitherto we have assumed that the accent always falls 
upon the rhiming syllable. There is little doubt, that 
Olaus Wormius wished to provide against a violation of 
this rule, when he laid it down, that the rhiming syllables 
of a section must not follow each other immediately. 
There is, however, one exception, an exception which 
seems to have arisen from the slender dimensions of an 
Anglo-Saxon verse, or, as we have hitherto termed it, 
alliterative couplet. Into verses of this kind, containing 
only four accents, some poets managed to crowd final 
rhime, middle rhime, sectional rhime, and alliteration. 
This could hardly be effected unless the unaccented syl- 
lables were put in requisition, as in the following passage ; 

Flak | mah wit|eth : flan \ man hwitjeth 
Burg | sorg bit |eth : bald \ aid thwitjeth, 
Wrac | fate writhjath : wrath\ath smitjeth, &c. 

The javelin-man fighteth, the archer 
The borough-grief biteth, 

The vengeance-hour flout isheth, the anger-oath smiteth. 


We have one or two instances of this rhime even in 
Csedmon, which shews, that the difficulty of joining al- 
literation and sectional rhime had made the invention fami- 
liar at a very early period. 

on thone eagum onwlat 
Stihth\-/rihth cyn|ing; and tha stowe beheold 

On it with eyes glanced 
The stalwart king ; and the place beheld 
All j oyless . Cadmon . 

Frynd \ sind hie | min|e georn|e : holde on hyra hyge-sceaftum. 
Friends are they of mine right-truly, faithful in their heart's 
deep-councils. Ccedmon. 

In like manner, the narrow dimensions of their verse 
drove the Icelanders to a similar invention. The rhiming 
syllables, however, were differently disposed of. The first 
syllable bore the accent and the alliteration ; the second, 
which of course was unaccented, rhimed with some ac- 
cented syllable in the same section, and generally with the 
second alliterative syllable. The rhime was consonantal. 
This difference of the rhime, together with the different 
position of the syllables, must have produced effects 
widely different in the two languages. Perhaps we might 
infer, that the unaccented rhime was invented, at a period 
subsequent to the separation of the two races. 

In the early part of the sixteenth century, there were 
instances, in which writers — some of great merit — actually 
closed their verse with a rhime between unaccented sylla- 
bles. This arose, no doubt, from the prevalence of the 
" tumbling verse," of which we shall have more to say 
hereafter, and which at one time threatened to confound 
all our notions of rhythmical proportion. Of all our 
writers of reputation, Wyat most sinned in this way. In 
some of his smaller pieces, nearly one-fourth of the rhimes 
are of this nature. 

VOL. I. L. 


Right true it is and said full yore ago, 

Take heed | of him| : that by | the back | thee claw|eth, 

Foruone is worse than is a friendly foe. 

Though thee | seme good| : all thing | that thee | deli|teth, 

Yet know | it well| : that in | thy bosjome crepeth ; 

For man|y a man| : such fire | oft times | he kind|leth, 

That | with the blase] ; his beard | himself | he sing|eth. 

In the above stanza Wyat intended to rhime claweth, 
deliteth, crepeth ; and also the words kindleth and singeth. 

In the following stave he rhimes other with higher ; 

But one | thing yet| : there is | above | alloth|er, 

I gave him winges whereby he might upflye, 

To hon|onr and fame) : and if | he would | to high|er 

Than mortal things above the starry skye. 

There are also cases in which an unaccented syllable is 
made to rhime with one accented. 

She reft | my heart | : and I | a glove | from her\, 
Let us see then| : if one | be worth | the oth|er. Wyat, 

And Bacchus eke| : ensharps | the wit | of same], 
Facun|di cal|ices| : quern non | fece|re diser|/wm. 

Higg. M.for M. King Chirunus, 2. 


seems to owe its origin to the lavish use of the sub- 
stantives in ion. The facilities of rhime afforded by the 
endings ation, ition, &c, were too great to be resisted, 
and they were used with such a profusion, as to make a 
great and certainly not a favourable impression on the 
language. Now ion was sometimes used as one syllable, 
and then the rhime became double, a\tion; sometimes as 
two syllables, and then the rhime was thrown on the last, 
a|tfio»|. Sometimes the poet began his rhime with the first 
syllable, even when he resolved ion into two. 

What nedjeth gret|er ; d\\\a.ta\tion } 

I say by treatise and ambassatrie. 

And | by thepopjes : me|dia|/io»| 

They ben accorded. Chau. Man of Lawes Tale. 


A band | thai maid| : in prew|a \\lu\sion\, 
Al | thair powjer : to wyrk | his con/w|sio»|. 

Wallace, 11. 205. 

When | they next wake| : all this | diw's|to/i|, 
Shall seem | a dream | : and fruit [less vis\ion\. 

M. N. D. 3. 2. 

Ifgrajcious si|lence : sweet | ntten\tion\, 
Quick sight | and quic|ker : aj)pre\hen\sion, 
(The lights of judgment's throne) shine any where, 
' Our doubtful author hopes to find them here. 

B. Jons. Proh to Cynthia s Revels, 

The double accent quickly passed to other terminations. 

Her name was Agape, whose children werne, 
All three | as one| : the first | hight Pri\amond\, 
The8ec\ondDi\amond\ : the young | est Tri\amond . 

F.Q. 4.2.41. 

Skip|per, stand back| : 'tis age | that nour\ishefh\, 
But youth | in la|dies' eyes| : that Jlour\isheth\. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 2. 1. 

A serious blunder was sometimes the result of this prac- 
tice. There are examples, among the early Elizabethan 
writers and their immediate predecessors, where ion is 
resolved into two syllables in one line, while, in the one 
corresponding, it follows the last legitimate accent of the 
verse ; so that we must either increase the proper number 
of accents, or falsify the rhime. Even Spenser was guilty 
of this fault; 

, Who soon as he beheld that angel's face, 

Adorn 'd | with all : divine | per/ec|ft'o»|, 

His cheered heart eftsoons away gan chase 

Sad death | , revi|ved : with | her sad | inspection, 

And feelble spirjit : injly felt | refec\tion, 

As wither'd weed through cruel winter's tine, 

That feels | the warmth| : of sun|ny beams | reflection, 

Lifts up his head, that did before decline, 
And gins to spread his leaf before the fair sunshine 

F. Q. 4. 12.34. 






which serve for the regulation of the rhythm, are three 
in number; the finals middle, and sectional. The first 
occurs at the end of a verse, the second divides it into 
two sections, and the third is found in the midst of 
one of these sections. It is of great importance, that these 
pauses should not be confounded with such, as are only 
wanted for the purposes of grammar, or of emphasis. To 
keep them perfectly distinct, we shall always designate the 
latter as stops. 

There is no doubt, that our stops were at one time 
identical with our pauses. In the Anglo-Saxon poems, 
we find the close of every sentence, or member of a sen- 
tence, coincident with a middle or final pause. In the 
works of Ceedmon and other masters of the art, we find 
even the sectional pause so placed as to aid the sense ; 
though I never knew a regular division of a sentence, 
which thus fell in the midst of a section. 

In the present chapter, we shall first examine the 
pauses in their order — final, middle, and sectional — and 
endeavour to settle the limits, which mark out their posi- 
tion in a sentence. We will then ascertain in what places 
of the verse the stops may fall; or, in other words, how far 
the punctuation of a verse has, at different periods, been 
accommodated to its rhythm. 


In the Anglo-Saxon, there does not appear to have been 
any distinction niade between the middle and final pauses. 


The sections, whether connected by alliteration or not, 
were always separated by a dot, and were written continu- 
ously, like prose. In the old English alliterative poems, 
we find the alliterative couplet, or the two sections that 
contained the alliteration, written in one line, like a mo- 
dern verse. In these poems also we find a marked dis- 
tinction between the two pauses, but the Anglo-Saxons — 
so far at least as regarded the pause — appear to have con- 
sidered each section as a separate verse. 

As a general rule, we may lay it down, that the final and 
middle pauses ought always to coincide with the close of 
a sentence, or of some member of a sentence. This rule 
may be best illustrated, by noticing such violations of it, 
as have at different periods been tolerated in our poetry. 

Perhaps there never was a greater violation of those 
first principles, on which all rhythm must depend, than 
placing the final pause in the midst of a word. Yet of 
this gross fault Milton has been guilty more than once. 

Cries the stall-reader " Bless me ! what a word on 
A title page is this/' and some in file 
Stand spelling false, till one might walk to Mile- 
End Green. Sonnet. 

And fabled how the serpent, whom they call'd 
Opheon, with Eurynome the wide- 
Encroaching Eve perhaps, had first the rule 
Of high Olympus. P. L. 10. 

All must remember the ridicule, which was thrown upon 
this practice in the Anti- Jacobin ; but Creech, in the hap- 
less translation to which it is said the envy of Dryden 
urged him, had in sober earnest realized the absurdity. 

Pyrrhus, you tempt a danger high, 

When you would tear from angry /i- 

Oness her cubs. Hor. Odes, 3. 20. 

There are many verbs followed by prepositions, which 
must, for certain purposes, be considered as compounds ; 
and although, in some cases, words may be inserted be- 


tween such verbs and their prepositions, yet they will act 
admit the pause. 

With that he fiercely at him flew, and laid 

On hideous strokes, with most importune might. 

F. Q, 6. 1.20. 

Go to the Douglas, and deliver him 

Up to his pleasure, ransomless and free. 1 HA, 5. 4. 

Which from meane place in little time was grown 
Up unto him, that weight upon him laid ; 
And being got the nearest to the throne, 
He the more easly the great kingdom swaid. 

Drayton. M.forM. Wolsey, 43. 

Another serious fault is committed, when the final 
pause immediately follows and separates a qualifying word 
from the word qualified ; as when it thus separates the 
substantive from its adjective, or other word of like 

He joined to my brother John the olde 
Duches of Norfolk, notable of fame. 

Baldwin. M.for M. Rivers, 27. 

He answer d nought at all, but adding new 

Fear to his first amazement, staring wide 

Astonish'd stood. F- Q- 

Sir, if a servants 

Duty with faith may be called love, you are 
More than in hope, you are possess'd of it. 

B. Jons. Ev. Man in his H.2.3. 

More fool diseases than ere yet the hot 

Sun bred, thorough his burnings, while the dog 

Pursues the raging lion. 

Fletcher. Faithful Shepherdess, 1 . 2. 

As where smooth Zephirus plays on the fleet 

Face of the curled streams, with flow'rs as many 

As the young spring gives. Fl. Faithful Shepherdess. 

And God created the great whales, and each 

Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously 

The waters generated. P' ■£• ?• 


To judgment he proceeded on the accused 

Serpent y though brute ; unable to transfer 

The guilt on him who made him instrument 

Of mischief. P. L. 10. 

First in the East the glorious lamp was seen 

Invested with bright beams, jocund to run 

His longitude through Heav'ns high road 5 the gray 

Dawn, and the Pleiades before him dane'd. P. L. 7. 

Even the Anglo-Saxon poets occasionally placed the 
pause between the adjective and its substantive. 

Stunede seo brune 

Yth with othre : ut feor adraf 
On Windel sae : wigendra scola. 

Dash'd the brown 

Wave, one 'gainst other, and far out-drave 

On Wendel-sea the warrior bands. Alfred. 

Again, the pause should not occur immediately between 
the preposition and the words governed by it. 

What did this vanity, 

But minister communication of 

A most poor issue ? H 8, 1. 1 . 

Read o'er this, 

And after this, and then to breakfast with 
What appetite you have. H 8, 3. 2. 

When any of the personal pronouns immediately follow 
the verb, either in the dative or objective case, the con- 
nexion is too close to admit this pause between them. 

I more desirous humbly did request 

Him shew th' unhappy Albion princes yore. 

Higg. M.for M. Induction. 

At length I met a nobleman, they calVd 
Him Labienus, one of Caesar's friends. 

Higg. M. for M. Lord Nennius, 29 

At hand they spy 

That quicksand nigh, with water covered, 

But by the checked wave they did descry 

It plain, and by the sea discolored. F. Q. 2 12. 28, ' 


Much better 

She ne'er had known pomp ; though it be temporal, 

Yet if that quarrel fortune do divorce 

It from the bearer, 'tis a sufFrance panging 

As soul and body parting. H 8, 1.3. 

And did not manners and my love command 
Me to forbear, to make those understand, 

— — I would have shown 
To all the world, the art which thou alone 
Hast taught our language. 

Beaumont to B. Jons, on his Fox. 

Let it suffice thee that thou know'st 

Us happy, and without love no happiness. P. L. 8. 

For from my mother s womb this grace I have 

Me given by Eternal destiny. F. Q 2 3. 45. 

When, however, the pronoun becomes emphatic by- 
antithesis, or when it loses its character as pronoun, and 
has no reference to any antecedent, this position of the 
final pause is much less offensive. Yet even in this case 
caution is necessary. 

Here Nature, whether more intent to please 

Us, or herself with strange varieties — Denham. 

It is a walk thick set with many a tree, 
Whose arched bowes ore hed combined bee, 
That nor the golden eye of heaven can peepe 
Into that place, nor yet when heaven doth weepe, 
Can the thin drops of drizeling rain offend 
Him, that for succour to that place doth wend. 

Niccofs. M.for M. Induction. 


is, in great measure, under the control of the same laws, 
as regulate the position of the final pause. But as the 
former has long ceased to have any visible index, and as 
its very existence has been the subject of doubt and spe- 
culation, we find the violations of these laws proportion- 
ably more frequent. We have indicated the place of the 


middle pause by the colon (:), which must be familiar to 
the reader, as marking the divisions of our ecclesiastical 

Whether English verse of four accents ought, in every 
case, to have a middle pause, is a question of difficulty 
which may be considered hereafter. There can be little 
doubt, that every verse with more than four accents ought 
to have the pause. We find this to be the case with the 
alliterative couplets of the Anglo-Saxons, with the allite- 
rative verses of our old English poems, and with those 
more regular rhythms, which, chiefly under the patronage 
of Chaucer, were established in their room. It was not 
till the middle of the fifteenth century that the dot, which 
indicated the middle pause, began to be omitted in our 
manuscripts, and no edition of Chaucer or his contem- 
poraries can be perfect without it. 

There are many instances, and some of high authority, 
in which the middle pause falls in the midst of a word. 
These, however, should not be imitated. 

And negligent securitie and ease 
Unbrid|led sen\:sual\itie | begat |. 

Drayton. M.for M. 98. 

Thy angjer un\\appeas\able | still ragjes. 

Samson Agonistes. 

Some rousing motions in me which dispose 
To some | thing extraordinary | my thoughts |. 

Samson Agonistes. 

It would be easy to crowd the page with verses of six 
accents, in which this middle pause, if it exist at all, must 
divide a word. But the writers of the sixteenth century 
used a verse of six accents, formed on a very different 
model from the ordinary one — to wit, containing two sec- 
tions, one of four, the other of two accents. This dif- 
ference of origin will, of course, account for the different 
position of the middle pause. 

The following are instances in which the middle pause 
seems to be badly placed. 


And J2i|*tf | : ric\es hyrjde 

And of Retia's realm the ruler. Alfred. 

He for despit, and for his tyrannic. 
To don | the ded\ : bod\ies a vil|lani|e 
Of all oar lordes, which had been y&lavre, 
Hath all the bodies on an hepe ydrawe. Chau. Knightes Tale. 

O Pallas goddesse Soverayne 

Bred out | of great\ : Ju\piters braynej. 

Puttenham Parth. 1 6. 
And U|na wanjdring tn| : woods | and forrestsj. F. Q. 1, 2. 9. 

But Phlegeton is son of Herebus and Night * 

ButHer|ebus | son of\ : Eter\nity | is hight|. F. Q 2, 4. 41. 

Pleasure the daugh|ter of\ : Cu\pid and Psy|chelate|. 

F. Q. 3. 6. 50. 


We have said that, in Anglo-Saxon verse, the stops, 
which closed a sentence or a member of a sentence, were 
always coincident with a middle or final pause. We 
never meet with these stops in the midst of a section. 
The sectional pause had, in all probability, a very different 
origin. In Ceedmon we find it before words, on which it 
is evidently the poet's intention to throw a powerful em- 
phasis. Perhaps we may infer, that the sectional pause 
was originally a stop, that served the purposes of em- 
phasis, as the others were stops which served the pur- 
poses of construction. 

Whatever were its origin, we find the sectional pause 
well known and widely used in the earliest dawn of our 
literature. It is common in Ceedmon, and in Conybeare's 
rhiming poem it is found in many sections together. 

Treow | tel|gade : Tir | wel]gade 

Bla?d I Wis|sade ; — t 

Gold | gearjwade: Gim | hwear|fade. 

* This is not the only verse in the Faery Queen which has six accents 
when it ought to have five. Like the vEneid, this noble poem was left un- 

t A section missing. 


The tree shot forth branches 5 Glory abounded 5 

Fruit blessed us ; 

Gold deck'd us $ Gems enwrapt us. 

We shall not here range in order the sections, which 
have admitted the pause ; a chapter will be devoted to 
that purpose in the second book. At present we shall 
merely give one or two songs, in which the sectional 
pause has been studiously affected. The first is by Sir 
Philip Sydney. The verses are represented as having 
been " with some art curiously written." 

Vir|tue, beau|ty, and speech | ; did strike, | wound], charm], 

My heart I , eyes], ears] ; with won|der, love|, delight], 

First 1 , sec|ond, last] : did bind|, enforce], and arme|, 

His workes|, showes], suites] : with wit|, grace, and|* vows might |. 

Thus hon| our, lik|ing, trust| : much], /arre], and deep], 
Held I , pearst], possest] : my judg|ment, sense | and wili|, 
Till wrong|, contempt], deceit | ; didgrowe|, steal], creep], 
Bandes|,/a|vour, faith | ; to break |, defile |, and kill|. 

Then griefe], unkind |ness, proofe| ; tooke|, kind]\ed, taught |, 
Well ground I ed, no|ble, due| : spite |, rage], disdain |, 
But al I alass | in vayne| ; my mind|, sight], thought]. 
Doth him|, his face|, his words] : leave], shun], refrainej. 

For nothjing, timej, nor place] : can loose], quench], ease \ 
Mine own | embracjed, sought | : knot|, /fre|, disease |. 

Arcadia. Lib. 111. 

The curiosity of these verses is much greater than their 
merit. The "art" consists in transforming the stops, which 
separate the words of a sequence, into sectional pauses. 

This kind of experiment seems to have been a favourite 
one in the sixteenth eentury. Spenser, in one of his 
eclogues, had already written what he called a Roundle, 
in which the " under-song" had a sort of jerking liveli- 
ness imparted to it, by the free use of these sectional 
pauses. The piece has very little poetical merit, but is 
u curiously written." 

* False accentuation. 

156 THE STOPS. B. I* 

Per. It fell upon a holy Eve, 

Wil. Hey | bo| : hol|iday| ! 

Per. When holy Fathers wont to shrive, 

Wil. Now | gin|neth : this rounj delay ! 

Per. Sitting upon a hill so high, 

Wil. Hey | ho| : the high | hill| ! 

Per. The while my flock did feed thereby, 

Wil. The while the shepherds self did spill ! 

Per. I saw the bouncing Bonnibel, 

Wil. Hey | ho| : Bon|nibel|, &c. &c. 

Shakespeare has left us a happier specimen. 

Come away | come away | death] ! 
And in sad cypress let me be laid ; 
Fly away | fly away | breath\, 
I am slain by a fair cruel maid. 

Not a flower | not a flower | sweet \ 
On my black coffin let there be strown, 
Not a friend | not a friend | greet | 
My poor corpse where my bones shall be thrown. 

Twelfth Night, 2. 4. 


may be divided, like our pauses, into final, middle, and 

In Anglo-Saxon poems, the full stop falls indifferently 
at the end, or in the middle of an alliterative couplet. Of 
the two, the middle stop seems to have been preferred. 
In this particular, the Anglo-Saxon rhythms resemble the 
more ancient German, and are widely distinguished from 
the Icelandic. The latter, almost invariably, close their 
period with the couplet, like our own alliterative poems of 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. As no Icelandic 
poem can be satisfactorily traced to an earlier date than 
these English poems, we may conclude, that the northern 
rhythms were influenced by the same causes, and affected 
at the same time, and in the same manner, as those of 
the more southern dialects. 


In the metre, used by Chaucer and his school, we ge- 
nerally find the middle stop subordinate to the final ; but 
our dramatists, whose dialogue required frequent breaks 
in the rhythm, gave to the middle stop all its former im- 
portance. The poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries run their lines one into the other, even when 
they were writing what has been called the heroic couplet 
— a license that was very slowly corrected by the example 
of Waller, Denham, and above all of Dryden. The last 
poet, in his rhiming tragedies, broke his lines without 
scruple, and avowedly for the purposes of dramatic effect ; 
but in his other works he very rarely indulges in this 

Johnson lays it down as a rule, that, in the midst of a 
verse, a full stop ought not to follow an unaccented syl- 
lable ; but that a stop which merely suspends the sense, 
may. He would object therefore to the rhythm of the 
following passage. 

So sung 

The glorjious train j ascen\ding : He | through Heav*n| 

That open'd wide her blazing portals, led 

To God's eternal house direct the way. P. L. 7. 

But, amid all the license of the sectional stop, a rule like 
this is mere hypercriticism. 

It is not easy to trace the steps, by which the sectional 
stop obtruded itself so generally into English verse. It 
is probable, that when the alliterative system, upon which 
our rhythms had been so long modelled, was done away 
with, much license prevailed as to the position of the 
middle pause; and consequently of the stop, that was 
coincident with it. When a more settled rhythm again 
brought it under rule, the ear had been too much accus- 
tomed to such new termination of the period, to take 
offence at the occasional violation of a law which had 
been so long neglected. When our dramas came into 
vogue, the necessities of the dialogue must also have had 

158 THE STOPS. B. I. 

great influence. A single verse was sometimes parcelled 
out between three or four speakers, and frequently into as 
many sentences. Milton, therefore, had full range to 
gratify even ha passion for variety. Had he used this 
liberty with more discretion, he would have laid the litera- 
ture of his country under yet greater obligations. 

A very favourite stop with Shakespeare was the one 
before the last accented syllable of the verse. Under his 
sanction it has become familiar, though opposed to every 
principle of accentual rhythm, 

Rich conceit 

Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye 

On | thy low grave] : on faults | forgiv|en. Dead] 

Is noble Timon. T. of A. 5.5. 

And so his peers upon this evidence 

Have found | him gail|ty : of [ high trea[sou. Much] 

He spoke and learnedly for life, &c. H 8, 2. 1 , 

Load [ as from nnm]bers ; with|out Dnm]ber, sweet 

As from blest voices uttering joy. P. L. 3. 

The humble shrub 

And bush | with frizjzlcd hair| : implicit. Last] 

Rose as in dance the stately trees. P. L. 7. 

When there is a syllable between the stop and the last 
accent, it does not strike the ear so abruptly. 

1 such a fellow saw 

Which made | me think | a man| : a worm| ; my &in\ 

Came then into my mind. Lear, 4. 1. 

Pipes that charm'd 

Their pain |ful steps] : o'er | the burnt soil| , and now] 
Advanc'd in view they stand. P. L 1. 

Thai for joy and pite gret 

lai with thar falow met 

end had] ; bene dede] ; for tht 

nyt him mar hartfully. Bruce, 2. 904. 

€. VII. THE STOPS. 159 

A stop much favoured by Milton, is that which occurs 
after the first syllable, when it takes the accent. 
Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse, 
Meet,\ and ne'er part| ; till one | drop down | a corse |, 

\H4, 4. 1. 
Though need make many poets, and some such 

As art and nature have not better'd much, 

Yet ours for want, hath not so lov'd the stage 

As he dare serve th' ill customs of the age — 

To make a child, now swaddled, to proceed 

Man* | and then shoot | up : in | one beard | and weed|. 

Past threescore years. 

Ben Jons. Prol. to Every Man in his Humour. 

Had you, some ages past, this race of glory 

Run\, with amaze | men t: we | had heard | your sto|ry. 

Waller's Panegyric. 
Not to me returns 

Day\, or the sweet | approach! : of ev'n | or morn|. 

P. L. 3. 

Death his dart 

Shook], but delay'd | to strike] : though oft | invok'd). 

P. L. 9. 

Hypocrites austerely talk, 

Defaming as impure, what God declares 

Pure\, and commands j to somej : leaves free | to all). 


A stop, which is found in Chaucer, sometimes follows 
the second syllable when the verse begins with an accent. 

They weren nothing idel, 

The fomy stedes on the golden bridel 
Gnaw\ing, and fast| : the arm|urers | also J 
With file and hammer pricking to and fro. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

The statue of Mars upon a carte stood 
Arm\ed, and look|ed grim| : as he | were wood|. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

• This is the celebrated passage which contains, as is generally supposed, 
the sneer upon Shakespeare. 

160 THE STOPS. B. I. 

For the time I study 

Vtr]tue, and that | part: of | philosophy | 
Will I apply, that treats of happiness, 
By virtue specially to be atchieved. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 1.1. 

■ Night with her will bring 

Si]lence 9 and sleep | : listening to thee | will watch |. 

P. L. 7. 

His heart 

Distends with pride, and hardening in his strength 

Glories ; for nev|er since| : crea|ted man| 

Met such embodied force. P.L. I. 

This stop, however, like the last, can never close a 

When the first accent falls on the second syllable, it is 
very commonly followed by a stop. 

It were, quod he, to thee no gret honour 

For to be false, ne for to be traytour 

To me], that am| : thy cous|in and | thy broth |er. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

For it of honour and all virtue is 

The root], and brings | forth : glojrious flow'rs | of fame |. 

F. Q. 6. 2. 
With such an easy and unforc'd ascent, 

That no stupendous precipice denies 

Access], no hor|ror: turns | away | our eyes|. 

Denham. Coopers HilL 

Are there, among the females of our isle, 

Such faults | at which : | it is | a fault | to smile | ? 

There are]. Vice once| : by mod [est na|ture chain'd| 

And legal ties, expatiates unrestrained. Pope's Sat. 7. 

This stop was by no means rare in the verse of four 

Bot for pite I trow greting 

Be na thing bot ane opynnyng 

Off hart], that schaw|is : the tenjdernyss | 

Off rewth that in it closyt is. The Bruce, 2. 92G. 


When he gives her many a rose 

Sweeter than the breath, that blows 

The leaves], grapes, ber|ries *. of | the best|. 

Fletcher. Faithful Shepherdess. 

Nor let the water riding high, 

As thon wad'st in, make thee cry, 

And sob\, but ev|er : live | with me|, 

And not a wave shall trouble thee. Fletcher. Fa. Sh. 2. 1. 

Our poets sometimes place a stop after the third syl- 
lable, but I think never happily. 

The clotered blood for any leche craft 
Corrum\peth, and | : is ) in his bouk|e ylaft|. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Of the blod real 

Of The\bes, and | : of sus|tren two | yborne|. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

What in me is dark 

Illu\mine, what | is low| : raise | and support |. P.L.i. 

How he can 

Is doubt] ful, that | he nev|er : will|, is sure|. P. L. 2. 

■ If I can be to thee 
Apo\et, thou| : Parnas|sus art | to me|. 

Denham. Coopers Hill. 
Why then should I, encouraging the bad, 
Turn reb\el, and| • run pop|ular|ly mad| ? 

Dry den. Abs. &f Arch. 

This stop is also found in verse of four accents. 
The lord off Lome wounyt tharby, 
That wes capitale ennymy 
To the king for his emys sake 
Jhon Com\yn; and| : thoucht | for to tak| 
Wengeance. The Bruce, 2. 400. 

Mortals, that would follow me, 

Love Vir\tue, she| : alone | is free|. Comus. 

Oft in glimm'ring bow'rs and glades 

He met | her, and| : in se|cret shades | 

Of woody Ida's inmost grove. H Penseroso. 

VOL. I. M 

162 THE STOPS. B. I, 

When we see how nearly the freedom of our elder poets 
approached to license, we may appreciate, in some mea- 
sure, the obligations we are under to the school of Pope 
and Dryden. The attempts to revive the abuses, which 
they reformed, have happily, as yet, met with only partial 





Our Anglo-Saxon poems consist of certain versicles, 
or, as we have hitherto termed them, sections, bound 
together in pairs by the laws of alliteration. In some few 
instances, of comparatively modern date, the bond of 
union is the final rhime; but generally speaking, this 
rhime is an addition to the alliteration, and not a substi- 
tute for it. In Icelandic poems we sometimes find a 
section occurring without its feUow ; but I have never met 
with such a case in Anglo-Saxon verse, unless where 
there has evidently been a section missing. 

For the most part these sections contain two or three 
accents, but some are found containing four or even five. 
The greater number of these longer sections may be 
divided into two parts, which generally fulfil all the con- 
ditions of an alliterative couplet ; and in some manuscripts 
are actually found so divided. Whether every section of 
more than three accents be compound, may perhaps be 
matter of doubt. There are certainly many sections of 
four accents, which can have no middle pause, unless it 
fall in the midst of a word ; for example, 

M 2 


Tha spraec | se of |ermod|a cyn|iiig : the aer was engla scynost. 
Then spake the haughty king, that erewhile was of angels shenest. 


and in the Icelandic verse of four accents, the middle 
pause is of rare occurrence. But this is not decisive as 
to their origin ; for if a compound section were once ad- 
mitted, we cannot expect it would still retain all the pe- 
culiarities of an alliterative couplet. As many of these 
sections are obviously compound, it would perhaps be 
safer to refer them all to an origin, which is sufficient for 
the purpose, than to multiply the sources of our rhythms, 
without satisfactory authority. 

Such verses and alliterative couplets, as contain a com- 
pound section, may well furnish matter for a distinct 
chapter. We shall, at present, consider those only, which 
are composed of simple sections. 

We have seen, that two accented syllables may come 
together, if they have a pause between them. This pause, 
which has been termed the sectional pause, was admitted 
into the elementary versicle. The verses, however, or 
alliterative couplets, which contain the sectional pause, 
are of a character so peculiar, that they may be considered 
apart from the others, not only without injury to the ge- 
neral arrangement, but with much advantage to the clear 
understanding of the subject. We shall, at present, then 
consider only such verses, as are formed of two simple 
sections, and do not contain any sectional pause. Thus 
restricted, the elementary versicle or section is formed 
according to the following rules. 

1. Each couple of adjacent accents must be separated 
by one or two syllables which are unaccented, but not by 
more than two. 

2. No section can have more than three, or less than 
two accents. 

These rules are directly at variance with those which 
Rask has given. According to him, all the syllables be- 
fore that, which contains the alliteration, form merely " a 


complement," and take no accent. In the following sec- 
tion, to which Conybeare would have given five accents, 

(En[ne haef |de he swa | swithjne geworht|ne 
One had he so mighty wrought. 

no accent falls on the first six syllables, and the allitera- 
tive syllable smith is the first which is accented ! What, 
notion Rask attached to the word accent, I am at a loss 
to conjecture.* 

When the section begins with an accent, we shall repre- 
sent it by the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, accordingly as each couple 
of adjacent accents are separated by one unaccented syl- 
lable, or as the first, the second, or both couples are sepa- 
rated by two unaccented syllables. 

When the section begins with one unaccented syllable, 
we shall, under like circumstances, designate it as 5, 6, 
7, 8 ; and by 9, 10, 1 1, 12, when it begins with two unac- 
cented syllables. 

When the section ends with one or two unaccented 
syllables, we shall represent such ending by subjoining /, 
or //, to the figure indicating such section ; thus, 1 /, 2 //. 

The section of two accents is capable but of two forms, 
when it begins abruptly, to wit, 1 and 2 ; but as these 
may be lengthened, and doubly lengthened, they produce 
six varieties. It is capable of six other varieties, when it 
begins with one unaccented syllable, and of the like number 
when it begins with two. Hence the whole number of 
possible varieties is 18. 

The section of three accents may take all the twelve 
forms, and as these may be lengthened and doubly length- 
ened, its number of possible varieties is 36. 

Our verses of two and three accents consist merely of 
the simple sections ; but the verse of four accents is the 

* The attempt, which the same critic has made, to trace the early Gothic 
rhythms, and the Latin hexameter to a common source, appears to me 
equally fanciful. They that would follow Greek and Latin prosody to the 
fountain-head, must attack the Sanscrit. 


representative of the short alliterative couplet, containing 
two sections, each of two accents. The number then of 
all the possible varieties is the product of eighteen multi- 
plied into itself, or 324. In like manner, the verse of six 
accents is composed of two sections, each containing three; 
and the number of possible varieties is the product of 
thirty-six multiplied by itself, or 1296. The possible 
varieties of the verse with live accents is also 1296 ; to wit, 
648 when the first section has two accents, and the like 
number when it has three. 

Of this vast number, by far the larger portion has never 
yet been applied to the purposes of verse. Probably the 
rhythms, that would result from some of the combina- 
tions, would be too vague, and others too abrupt and un- 
even in their flow, to yield that pleasure which is always 
expected from measured language. But there are doubt- 
less many combinations, as yet untried, which would 
satisfy the ear; and it is matter of surprise, that at a 
time when novelty has been sought after with so much 
zeal, and often to the sacrifice of the highest principles, 
that a path so promising should have been adventured 
upon so seldom. 

When the accents of a section are separated by two un- 
accented syllables, the rhythm has been called the triple 
measure ; and the common measure, when they are only 
separated by a single syllable. It was a favourite hypo- 
thesis of Mitford, that these two were the roots, from 
whence had sprung all the varied measures of our lan- 
guage ; and that they were immediately connected with 
the common and triple times in music. Were the opinion 
as sound as it is ingenious, we should find these metres 
standing out in more distinct and bolder relief, the deeper 
we penetrated into the antiquity of our rhythms. But, on 
the contrary, we find all our older poems exhibiting a 
rhythm of a composite and intermediate character ; and it 
is not till a period comparatively modern, that the com- 
mon and triple measures disentangle themselves from the 


heap, and form, as it were, the two limits of our English 
rhythms. There can be no doubt — for we have contem- 
porary evidence of the fact — that Anglo-Saxon verse was 
sung to the harp ; perhaps it may be granted, that the 
common and triple times in music were then well-known 
and familiar, but Mitford's error lay in assuming, that 
every syllable had its own peculiar note. The musical 
composer of the present day does not confine each syl- 
lable to a single note, and we have no reason for sup- 
posing that the Anglo-Saxon was more scrupulous. Had 
he been so, it would have been impossible to have recited 
Anglo-Saxon verse with a musical accompaniment, whe- 
ther in the common, or in the triple time. 


As there is always a tendency to dwell upon the ac- 
cented syllable, coeteris paribus a verse will be pronounced 
the more rapidly, the smaller the number of its accents. 
Hence the triple metre is more suited to light themes, 
and the common metre to those of a more stately charac- 
ter. With the masters of the art, the rhythm ever accom- 
modates itself to the subject. We find it changing, as 
far as its range will allow, from the triple to the common 
measure, or from the common to the triple, as the subject 
changes from the lively to the sad, from motion to repose, 
or the contrary. The White Lady's song will afford us 
an example of the first change, 

Mer|rily swim | we, the moon | shines bright] , 

Down | ward we drift | through shad{ow and light |, 

Un|der yon rock | the edjdies sleep 

Calm | and si\lent, dark \ and deep\. W. Scott. 

and the song of " my delicate Ariel" of the second, 

Where | the bee | sucks, there | suck I|, 
In | a cows|lip's bell | I lie| ; 
There | I couch], when owls | do cry|. 
On | the bat's | back I | do 


Af|ter 8um|mer mer|rily|. 

Mer\rily, mer\rily, shall \ I livenow], 

Un\der the blos\som that hangs | on the bough\. 

Tempest, 5. 1. 

If there be & given number of accents, this change of 
rhythm will, of course, bring with it an increased number 
of syllables. This probably misled Pope. He seems to 
have thought, that, to represent rapid motion, it was suf- 
ficient to crowd his verse with syllables ; and for this pur- 
pose he even added to the number of his accents ! Who 
can wonder at his failure ? 

Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, 
Flies | o'er th' unben|ding corn| : and skims | along | the main). 

The character of the triple measure may, however, be 
best illustrated by an example, in which it has been mis- 
applied. A worthy and a pious man describes the guilt 
and fears of the sinner, in the following jingle ; 

My soul | is beset|. 
With grief | and dismay | ; 
I owe | a vast debt) 
And nothjing can pay|. 

I must | go to pris|on A 
Unless | that dear Lord|, 
Who died | and is ris|en, 
His mer|cy afford). 

With what a different rhythm does his " friend" clothe . 
the subject ! 

My for mer hopes | are fled] 
My ter ror now | begins | ; 
I feel | alas | : that I | am dead) 
In tres | passes | and sins|. 

Again, as the pronunciation of an accent requires some 
muscular exertion, a verse is generally the more energetic, 
the greater the number of its accents. Hence, other 
things being equal, a verse increases in energy, as its 
rhythm approaches the common measure, and a verse of 


the common measure is most energetic, when it begins 
and ends with an accented syllable. Hence in great 
measure the beauty of the following war-song ; 

Quit | the plough | : the loom|, the mine}. 
Quit | the joy 8 1 : the heart | en twine |, 
Join | our broth |ers : on | the brine), 
Arm|, ye brave|,: orslav|ery|. 

For | our homes | : our allj, our name|, 
Blast | again | : the ty|rant's aim|, 
Britain's wrongs | : swift ven|geance claim |, 
Rush | to arms | : or slav|ery|. 

Again, what stern energy has Cowper breathed over the 
spirit of the warrior queen ! 

When | the Britjish: warjrior queen |, 

Bleed|ing from] : the Ro 
Sought | with an | : iiidig 

man rods|, 
nant mien|, 
Coun|sel of | : her coun|try Gods|, &c. 

How different the rhythm from that, in which he intro- 
duces the heart-broken wretchedness of the slave, 

Wide o|ver the trem|ulous sea|, 
The moon | shed her man | tie of light], 
And the breeze | gently dy|ing away|, 
Breath'd soft | on the bos|om of night |, &c. 

Sometimes averse of the triple metre begins with an 
accented syllable, or as we shall hereafter term it, begins 
abruptly. If it be short, so that the accented syllables be 
equal, or nearly equal, in number to the unaccented, it 
combines considerable force and energy with great rapidity 
of utterance, and is in some cases wonderfully effective. 

Thus | said the ro|ver 
TVs | gallant crew|, 
Up | with the black | flag 
Down | with the blue|, 

Fire | on the main | -top, 

Fire | on the bow|, 

Fire | on the gun |- deck, 

Fire | down below |. W. Scott. 


When the verse increases in length, the energy with 
which it begins soon dies away into feebleness ; its rapi- 
dity, however, remains uninjured. Byron has chosen it, 
and not unhappily, to embody the tumultuous feelings 
and passions, and the sad forebodings, which hurried 
through the soul of Saul before his battle with the Phi- 

War|riors and chiefs | should the shaft | or the sword | 
Pierce | me in lead | in g the host | of the Lord|, 
Heed | not the corse |, though a king's |, in your path], 
Bur|y your steel | in the bos|oms of Gathj. 

Thou | who art bear|ing my buck|ler and bow|, 
Should the sol|diers of Saul | look away | from the foe|, 
Stretch | me that mo|ment in blood | at thy feet|, 
Mine | be the doom | which they dared | not to meet). 

Fare|well to oth|ers, but nev|er we part), 
Heir | to my roy|alty, son | of my heart), 
Bright | is the dijadem, bound [less the sway|, 
Or kingjly the death | that awaits | us to-day |. 

When a verse or section opens with an accent, followed 
by two unaccented syllables, the rapid utterance, imme- 
diately preceded by muscular exertioti, produces in some 
cases a very striking effect. Force, unless counteracted, 
always produces motion; the mind, almost instinctively, 
links the two together ; and such a flow of rhythm will fre- 
quently raise the idea, not merely of power, but of power 
in energetic action. Hence in great measure the beauty 
of the two examples last quoted. 

The effect, however, of this particular rhythm is more 
felt in those metres, which approach nearer to the com- 
mon measure, and so afford us the advantages of contrast. 

The gates that now 

Stood open wide: belch |ing outrage |ou a flame | 

Far into Chaos— P. L. 10. 

A sea of blood : gush'd j from the gajping wound). 

F. Q. 1.8. 16. 


Then shall this mount 

Of Paradise, by might of waves be mov'd 

Out | of his place | : push'd | by the horn|ed flood |. 

P.L. 11. 

So steers the prudent crane 

Her annual voyage, borne on winds ; the air 
Floats | as they pass| : fann'd | with unnum|ber'd plumes |. 

P. L. 7. 

In the common measure, this particular rhythm may 
also sometimes express, very happily, a sudden change of 
feeling or of situation. 

— — I '11 give thrice as much land 
To any well-deserving friend- 
But in the way of bargain, mark ye me 
I '11 cavil on the ninth part of a hair. 
Are | the indentures drawn| ) : shall | we be gone| ? 

l/f4,3. 1. 

O fairest of creation ! last and best 

Of all God's works, creature in whom excell'd 

Whatever can to sight or thought be form'd 

Holy, divine, good, amiable or sweet, 

How) art thou lost| : how | on a sud|den lost| ! P. L. 9. 

Occasionally, similar effects are produced by making 
two unaccented syllables follow the second accent in a 
section ; 

— — — On a sudden open fly 
With | impet|uous recoil] : and jarring sound 
Th* infernal doors. P.L. 2. 

Tis an unruly and a hard-mouth 'd horse — 

'Twill no unskilful touch endure, 

But flings | wri|ter and read|er too| : that sits not sure. 


Again, sameness or similarity of rhythm may be made 
to answer several important purposes. It may be used to 
bring out more forcibly the points of a contrast ; 

Ay | if thou wilt | say ay| : to my | request], 

No | if thou wilt | say no| : to my | demand). 3 H 6, 3. 2. 


Not sleeping to | engross) : his i|dle bodjy 

But prayjing to | enrich | : his watch|ful soul|. R 3, 3. 7. 

It will also aid in calling up in the mind the idea of 
succession ; 

So man|y ho|urs : must | I tend | my flock , 

So man y ho urs : must | I take | my rest), 

So man y ho urs : must | I con | template |, &c. 3 H 6, 2. 5. 

0|ver hill] : o|ver dale|, 

Tho|ro flood| : tho|ro fire|, 

0|ver park| : o|ver pale|, 

Tho|ro bush | : tho|ro brier |, 

I must wander, &c. M. N. D. 

Milton often represented in this way, a multitudinous 
succession. He used, for the same purpose, a recurrence 
of similar sounds, and sometimes mere alliteration ; 

An|guish and doubt | and fear| : and sor|row and pain|. 

P. L. 1. 
With ru|in up|on ru|in : rout | on rout|, 
Confu|sion worse | confoun|ded — P. L- 2. 

O'er shields | and helms | : and heljmed heads | he rode|. 

P. L. 6. 
Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale 
For|est and field | and flood | : tern | pie and tow'erj, 
Cut shorter many a league. P. R. 3. 

The peculiar nature of Anglo-Saxon poetry allowed 
great scope for the recurrence of the same rhythm, and 
the ear of the Anglo-Saxon poet seems to have been most 
sensitively alive to its beauty. In those parallelisms, as 
Conybeare has termed them, which form so striking a 
feature of their lyric poems, we find the rhythm evidently 
formed upon the same model. It often rises and falls, 
in the two passages, with a flow and with pauses almost 

When the accent is strongly marked, the rhythm has a 
precision, which often gives it much force and spirit. 
Alliteration is sometimes used for this purpose ; 


On last | legjdun : lath|um leod|um. 

At foot tbey laid on the loathed bands. 

The Brunanburgh war-song. 

Courage yields 

No foot | to foe | : the flash ing n|er flyes| 

As from a forge. F. Q. 1. 2. 17. 

When, on the contrary, the rhythm rests on weak and 
secondary accents, it has that character of languor and 
feebleness, which Milton seems to have affected, whenever 
he had to describe an object of overwhelming dimension 
or difficulty. 

Insu|pera|ble height) : of lofjtiest shade], 

Cedar and pine and fir — P. L. 4. 

— A dark 
lllim|ita|ble o|cean : with | out bound |. P. L. 2. 

Craggy cliff that overhung 

* Still | as it rose | : impossible | to climb] . P. L<> 4. 

Here | in perpet|ual: ag|ony | and painj. P.L. 2. 

So he | with dif |ficul|ty : and lajbour hard| 

Mov'd on|, with dif |ficul|ty : and la|bour he|. P. L. 2. 

Ceedmon and other Anglo-Saxon poets generally marked 
an emphatic word by means of the sectional pause. 
They generally prefaced in this way the name of the 

Tha woejron gesetjte : wid|e and sidje 

Thurh | ge weald | — god\es : wul|dres bearn|um. 

They were y-sct, wide and far, 

Through the power of God, for. the sons of Glory. Cadmon. 

Among later writers, we occasionally find the middle 
pause used for the like purposes ; 

With huge | force and| : t»|supporta|ble might |. 

F. Q. 1.7. 11. 

Firm they might have stood 

Yet fell) ; remem|ber and) : fear \ to transgress |. P. L. 6. 



It may be doubted, whether the earliest rhythms, that 
were known to our Race, were accentual or temporal. 
We have poems written by Englishmen as early as the 
seventh century, and others which were probably written 
in the fourth ; and in none of these are found the slightest 
traces of a temporal rhythm. But we must remember, 
that the Goths were a people very differently situated 
from those, which regulated their metres by the laws of 
quantity. The Hindoos, Greeks, and Latins, were settled 
races; and were not till a late period in their history, 
subject to any of those convulsions, which change the 
character and fortunes of a people. The other tribes, 
which formed the Indo-European family — the Celts, the 
Goths, the Slaves — appear almost from the first as migra- 
tory hordes ; and traversed one-fourth of the earth's cir- 
cuit as fugitives or invaders. It is possible, that these 
fearful changes may have wrought the same revolution in 
their poetry, that their own invasions seem afterwards to 
have effected in the prosodial systems of Greece and 

Again, there can be little doubt, that the Greek and 
Latin metres were mere varieties of the Sanscrit; and 
that the three races derived their rhythms from one com- 
mon source. Now the early Gothic dialects, in their syn- 
tax and their accidence, approach the Sanscrit full as 
nearly as do the Greek and Latin ; it is probable, there- 
fore, that they may at one time have no less resembled 
the Sanscrit in their prosody. 

As, however, no temporal rhythms are to be found in 
our literature, this is an inquiry rather curious than use- 
ful. A more important question is — what are the forms 
in which accentual rhythm made its first appearance 
amongst us. 

If the Song of the Traveller were composed in the 
fourth century, there must have been great variety of 


rhythm even at that early period ; as there certainly was 
in the seventh century, when Ceedmon wrote. It is, how- 
ever, probable, that the earliest rhythms were of a simpler 
and more uniform character. The short verses, which 
are found in the Anglo-Saxon war-songs, have at once a 
character of simplicity, and one which shows most strik- 
ingly the advantages of the initial rhime or alliteration. 
Most of the alliterative couplets have only four accents — 
very few indeed have so many as six. The second sec- 
tion, almost invariably, begins with an alliterative sylla- 
ble, and in most cases the first section also. Hence the 
flow of the rhythm is abrupt and forcible ; or, to use lan- 
guage more familiar than correct, it is generally trochaic 
or dactylic. 

The abrupt commencement of the second section was 
doubtless the chief reason, why the middle pause was so 
important in Anglo-Saxon poetry. The sharp and sud- 
den division between the two sections was well fitted for 
the termination of a period; and we accordingly find 
more sentences ending in the middle, than at the end of a 
couplet. This is a very striking peculiarity of Anglo- 
Saxon verse. 

When writing on more serious subjects, the Anglo- 
Saxon poet generally lengthened his rhythms, and fre- 
quently employed couplets of six or even seven accents. 
The sections also more commonly began with unaccented 
syllables ; but the middle pause still retained its impor- 

When a section contained three or more accents, it 
generally approached more nearly to the common measure, 
than to the triple ; but that the flow of the triple measure 
was neither unknown nor altogether disfavoured, is clear 
from several passages in the Song of the Traveller. In 
most cases, however, the rhythm was not sufficiently 
continuous, to give it that marked and peculiar character 
which is observable — and sometimes very obtrusively 
so — in modern versification. 
The authority of Bede seems to be decisive against 


Anglo-Saxon metre, meaning by that word any law, which 
confines the rhythm within narrow bounds, either as to 
the number of syllables or of accents. Our scholars were 
probably the first to bend the neck to the yoke ; and the 
ecclesiastical chants seem to have been the chief means 
of spreading it among the people. 

Accentual rhythms with four accents were in frequent 
use, among our latinists, at a very early period ; but were 
not adopted into our vernacular poetry till the twelfth 
century. The influence of this new metre was very 
widely felt, even in our alliterative poetry. One of the 
distinctions between the rhythm of Layamon and of his 
Anglo-Saxon predecessors, is the great number of rhiming 
couplets formed upon this model. 

But the accentual verse of fifteen syllables, formed after 
the Tetrameter Iambic Catalectic y and which overspread 
the Greek and Latin churches in the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries, worked the greatest changes in our English 
rhythms. The long verses of six or seven accents, in 
which were written the Lives of the Saints, and so many 
other works of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were 
,its direct descendants; and, through these, we may 
connect it with our psalm metres, and other varieties 
of what are sometimes called our Lyric Measures. Their 
influence also on our alliterative poetry produced, in the 
thirteenth century, that variety, which we have designated 
as the Old English alliterative metre. In this metre, the 
verses had seldom less than six, and generally seven ac- 
cents, of which the first section contained four ; whereas, 
in Anglo-Saxon verse, the section which contained the 
four accents was generally the second. The middle pause 
too, was invariably subordinate to the final. The rhythm 
inclined very generally to the triple measure. In this 
metre were written some of our best, though least known, 
romances, and some of our finest satires. It lingered in 
Scotland, and in the north of England, till the reign of 

After alliteration, as a system, had been lost, some 


writers wished to unite the utmost license of alliterative 
rhythm with the forms of metrical verse. Hence, we had 
lines of four, five, or six accents, and which contained 
every variety of rhythmical flow, arranged in staves, fre- 
quently of the most complex structure. I have bor- 
rowed a term used by a royal critic, and called these 
slovenly verses the " tumbling" metre. Skelton and 
many of his contemporaries patronised it. 

The short and rhiming couplets of four, five, or six 
accents, in which some of our earlier romances were writ- 
ten — King Horn, for example — seem to be the lineal de- 
scendants of the rhiming Anglo-Saxon poems. They differ 
from their predecessors, merely in dropping the allitera- 
tion, and confining the rhime within narrower limits ; the 
rhythm is but slightly changed. The same short verses 
are found, strongly affected by foreign influences, in the 
lays and virelays of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries ; 
and there can be little doubt that the " short measures" 
of Skelton, " pleasing only the popular eare," which Pufc- 
tenham so strongly inveighs against, were handed down 
by tradition, as the genuine representatives of the sam$ 
venerable stock. 

Our heroic verse, as it has been called of late, was for- 
merly known by the more homely appellation of riding 
rhime. It was familiarly used by our countrymen, in 
their French poems, as early as the 12th century ; but 
Hampole, or whoever was the author of the Pricke of 
Conscience, appears to have been the first who wrote in 
it any English poem of consequence. 

Chaucer strictly confined this rhythm to five accents, 
but certainly allowed himself great freedom in the number 
of his syllables. His rhythm, however, always approaches 
that of the common measure, and is widely different from 
the impudent license of the tumbling metre. The writers 
of Elizabeth's reign, though they introduced the Alexan- 
drine, tied the verse of five accents to greater precision ; 
and in this they were followed by Milton. . The school of 

VOL. I. N 


Dry del) atid Pope narrowed its rhythm yet more; and as 
they left it, it has since continued. 

This slight notice may prepare the reader for the aafe 
of certain terms, which it has been found convenient to 
employ in the following chapters. Before, however, we 
proceed, I would call his attention to a subject, very 
nearly connected with the one before us, and upon which, 
as it seems to me, very serious mistakes have prevailed of 
late years. 

From the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, the pro- 
nunciation of our language varied much in different coun- 
ties. In some the shorter vowels were very generally 
elided, in others they were scrupulously preserved. Some 
writers always pronounced the following words with twO 
syllables, enmye, destnye, victry, counshmr, &c. and wrote 
thern accordingly; while others, who sometimes gave 
them an additional syllable, wrote them either with a 
mark of elision en'toy, or in full enemy. The right to 
drop a syllable is claimed by our modern poets, m many 
hundreds of instances; but whether the spelling should 
warn the reader of their intention to exercise such right, 
has been doubted. 

As this is, in some degree, a question of orthography, 
which is so much a matter of convention, we will first 
inquire what has hitherto been the prevailing usage. 

During tbfe reign of Elizabeth, we find the orthography 

far more generally accommodated to the rhythm in poems 

of a strict and obvious metre, than in those where the 

rhythm was loose — in the poems of Churchyarde, Gafr- 

coigne, and other writers of the ballad stanza, than Hi the 

works of our dramatists. We may conclude, therefore, 

at that time ready to assist, afed, as 

went, actually did assist the reader 


ell known, never printed his works ; 

C. I. ELJSIOJtf. 179 

the first folk), now, in mope than one sense, dear to the 
collector, was edited by the players. We cannot expect 
that the lithography would be more attended to than the 
sense, which is often obscure and even unintelligible. We 
may find die same word spelt two and even three di£* 
ferent ways in the same page* the contracted word is 
often found written at full length, and the word which has 
its full quota of syllables, is found contracted. But, on 
the whole, there is evidently a wish to spell according to 
the pronunciation. 

The Paradise Lost was printed during the hkndaeas of 
Mikovi, under the supervision of his nephew. Some 
classes of words had their contractions indicated, and 
others not ; for instance, the elision of the final vowel is 
noticed in the article, but not in other words. Betitky 
observes that Milton * in thousands of places melts down 
die vowel aK the end of a word, if tike following word 
begins with a vowel. This poetical liberty he took from 
the Greeks and Latins ;* bwt he followed not the former, 
who strike the vowels quite oat of the text, bat die latter, 
who retain them in the fine, though they am absorbed in 
the speaking." Therefore to kelp "each readers as kmnr 
not, or not readily know where such elision is to take 
place/' he marks such vowels with an apostrophe* He 
aeeos also to have distinguished between words, that 
vtgukdy elMed the abort rowel, and time, which did ee 
only occasionally, writing Metering without an apostrophe, 
buft towfrvr with one. MQtoa's aaex* editor, Newton* 
aotnawhat varied the orthography. He warns the reader 
etf the elision of the short vewei after tiie long one, as i* 
nfc, 4<%, Ac-, nod wrote jotm&s, rarato, iwrtead of 
Bentley's pris'n and reas'n. Later editors " have endea- 
wtoed to deserve well of their country ," by bearing Mil- 
an's page of these deformities. The merit of the task 

cannot well be less than its difficulty. 

• ■• ■ - 1 ----■-*-- 1 , 1 ■ ... ■ 

* Be»% ^ a Or^ scholar, ^certainly f^ 



It would not be difficult to assign a motive for the 
strong feeling, that has prevailed during the last half cen- 
tury, against the old and " barbarous" orthography. Though 
Tyrwhitt objected to Urry's mode of marking the final e 
when vocal, sweti y halvi, &c, as " an innovation in ortho- 
graphy," and " apt to mislead the ignorant reader, for 
whom it only could be intended" he must have been con- 
scious, that upon this subject (perhaps the most difficult 
that can be submitted to an English scholar) no reader could 
be more ignorant than himself. But there was little fear of 
criticism, and who would volunteer a confession of igno- 
rance ? Even Gifford, whose stern good sense, and aus- 
tere honesty might, one would have thought, have stemm'd 
the current, boasts of rescuing Jonson from " the un- 
couth and antiquated garb of his age ;"* and when editing 
Massinger, prides himself upon the " removal of such 
barbarous contractions, as conq'ring, ad'mant, ranc'rous, 
ign'rant, &c." Yet it would be easy to point out many 
hundreds of verses, the right reading of which, owing to 
these " silent reforms," has ever since been a mystery to 
the general reader ; and some, which I suspect, it would 
have puzzled the editor himself to have scanned cor- 

Those who object to the " syncopes and apocopes," 
belong chiefly to two classes. In the first place, there are 
some, who presume upon the reader's knowledge, and 
think with Tyrwhitt, that he who knows not where to 
contract the es and the ed, that is, the terminations of the 
plural and of the perfect, " had better not trouble his 
head about the versification of Chaucer." There are 
others, who think the elision or the pronunciation of the 

* He proceeds with strange inconsistency, and a singular forgetfulness 
of what was the real usage of the time, to observe " The barbarous contrac- 
tions therefore, the syncopes and apocopes which deformed the old folios 
(for the quartos are remarkably free from them) have been regulated, and 
the appearance of the poet's page assimilated in a great degree to that of 
Mm t**tempor*ri** t who spoke and wrote the same language as himself." 

C. I. ELISION. 181 

vowel a matter of indifference, and that if the ear be not 
offended by any " cacophony," the rhythm must be 

I would submit to the first of these classes, the three 
following lines, which were once brought forward to show 
that our heroic verse would admit three syllables, in any 
one of the three first feet ; 

Ominous | conjecture on the whole success. 

P. L. 2. 123. 
A pil|Iar of stdte | deep on his front engraven. 

P. L. 2. 302. 

Celestial spirits in b6n|dage nor the abyss. 

P. L. 2. 658. 

and also the two lines, which Bishop Newton quotes, 
to prove that our heroic verse would admit either a 
"dactyle" or an u anapoest;"* 

Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky. P.L. 1. 45. 
Myriads though bright ! if he whom mutual league — 

P. L. 1, 87. 

Now, if the most admired of Milton's editors were 
ignorant of the real number of syllables contained in 
the words, ethereal and myriads ; if a critic of Tyrwhitt's 
reputation did not know that ominous, pillar, and spirit 
were to be pronounced om'nous, pUVr 9 and sp'rit ; can 
we fairly expect such knowledge to flash, as it were by 
intuition, upon the uninstructed reader ? 

Of late years, however, the fashionable opinion has 
been, that in such cases the vowel may be pronounced 
without injury to the rhythm. Thelwall discovered in 
Milton " an appogiatura, or syllable more than is counted 
in the bar," and was of opinion that such syllables " con- 
stitute an essential part of the expressive harmony of the 
best writers, and should never in typography or utterance 

* The reader need hardly be told how confused are the Editor's notions 
upon the subject, of accent and quantity. 

182 KLISIOX. B. II. 

be superseded by the barbarous expedient of elision." 
He marks them with the short quantity, and reads the 
following verses one with twelve, and the other with 
thirteen syllables ! 

Covering the beach, and blackening all the strand. Dry den. 
Ungrateful offering to the immortal powers. Pope. 

But there are men, entitled to our respect, whose writ- 
ings, to a certain extent, have countenanced this error. 
Both Wordsworth and Coleridge use certain words, 
as though they still contained the same number of sylla- 
bles, as in the time of Shakespeare. Thus they make 
delicate a dissyllable, yet would certainly shrink from 
pronouncing it deVcate. The associations connected with 
this Shakespearian dissyllable were doubtless the mo- 
tive; but they are purchased much too dearly if the 
rhythm be sacrificed. The pettiness of the delinquency 
cannot be pleaded; for if a short and "evanescent" syl- 
lable may be obtruded, so may also a long one. 

That the poets and critics of Elisabeth's reign did not 
entertain the same opinion on this subject, as their editors, 
Is certain. " This poetical license," Gascoigne observes, 
u is a shrewd© fellow, and covereth many faults in a verse, 
it maketh wordes longer, shorter* of mo syllables, of fewer 
— and to conolude, it turkeneth all things at pleasure ; for 
example—* or*0O?»t for overcome, tane for token, power for 
powre, heamn for heavn, &c." Gabriel Harvey, after en- 
tering his protest against the use of heavn, seavn, eleavn, 
torn, divl, &c., as dissyllables, the same being contrary to 
the received pronunciation of the day* proceeds, " Marry, 
I confesse, some wordes we have indeed, as fayer either 
for beautiful or for a marte, oyer both pro aere and pro 
hcerede, for we say not heire, but plaine aire* for him to, 

* The old English «yr a mid, answering to the Dutch oir an offspring, 
was first spelt with an h, during the 16th century ; the pedantry of the age, 
ef course, seeing nothing but a Latin original, hares. In like manner, our 
modern man of travel writes suit with an e, suite ; though the word has 
formed part of our vulgar tongue since the days of Alfred. 

€, I. EMMON, 1$0 

(or elw SsQggins'9 wer wfsre a poor jest), whiche *re ^01^- 
fiaonly an4 W>ye indifferently be used either wayes, Fot 
you shall as well and as ordinarily heare foyer as fair$ y 
and 9W as aire, and both alike, not only of dyvers and 
qundrie persons, but often of the very same ; otherwhiles 
using the one, otherwyles using the other; and so died or 
dyde, spied or spide, try ed or tryde, fyer or Jyre, myer <*r 
myre, with an infinite number of the same sorte, some- 
time monosyllaba, sometime polysyllaba." He also ob- 
jected to some of Spenser's "trimetra" (that is, English 
verses written on the model of the Trimeter Iambic) that 
they had a foot too many, unless it were " sawed off with 
a payre of syncopes, and then should the orthographie 
have testified so muche; and instead of heavenli vir- 
ginals, you should have written heavnli virgnals, and again, 
virgnals againe in the ninth, and should have made a cur- 
toll of immerito in the laste, &c." Hence it is clear that 
the " barbarous contractions " so much inveighed against, 
are not chargeable upon the ignorance of the printer; 
they form part of a system of orthography, deliberately 
adopted by men of education, to suit a particular state of 
our language ; and it seems to be as absurd, to exchange 
these peculiarities of spelling for those of modern date, 
as it would be to pare down the language of Homer to the 
Atticism of the Tragedians, The blunders of the trans- 
criber and printer consisted chiefly in misapplying the 
orthography of the day ; it is the duty of an editor (and 
sometimes net an easy duty) to correct these blunders, 
and not to shrink from the responsibility, under the pre- 
tence of purifying the text. The works of Burns have the 
spelling accommodated to the rhythm ; why not those of 
Shakespeare and his contemporaries ? 


In the next chapter we shall consider those verses 
which consist of a single section ; or, in other words, our 
verses of two and three accents. The third chapter will 


be devoted to the verse of four accents ; the fourth to 
such verses of five accents, as contain two in the first 
section ; and the fifth to such verses as contain three. 
The sixth chapter will discuss the verse of six accents. 
In the seventh we shall consider those verses which con- 
tain a compound section; and in the last, those which 
admit the sectional pause. 

c. n. 185 



In certain staves, we meet with lines containing only 
one accent. These in the 13th and 14th centuries seldom 
contained more than one or, at most, two syllables ; and 
seem to have been known by the expressive name of bobs, 
that is pendants. They will be noticed in the last book ; 
for in no point of view can they be considered as verses. 
The same may be said of the lines containing one accent 
and three syllables, which some of our modern poets have 
patronized ; 

Hearts beat|iug 
At mect|ing, 
Tears starting 
At part|ing. 

It would be absurd to call these lines verses. Two of 
them, if joined together, would form the section 6 /. with 
the double rhime — a rhiming section, which, for ages has 
been familiar to our poetry. They ought to have been 
written accordingly. 


The section 1. of two accents is rarely met with as an 
independent verse. The cause was Evidently its short- 
ness. Shakespeare, however, has adopted it into that 
peculiar rhythm, in which are expressed the wants and 
wishes of his fairy-land. This rhythm consists of abrupt 
verses of two, three, or four accents ; it belongs to the 
common measure, and abounds in the sectional pause. 


Under Shakespeare's sanction, it has become classical, and 
must now be considered as the fairy dialect of English 

On | the ground | 

Sleep sound, 

III lapplyj 

To | your eye), 
Gentle lover, remedy. 

When | thou w*k'st| f 

Thou tak'st 

True | delight) 

In | the sight | 
Of thy former lady's eye. M. N.D.3. 2. 

The section 1 /, was common in those short rhythms, 
which abounded in the 16th century under the patronage 
of Skelton, Drayton, and others their contemporaries. 
Campion actually wrote a madrigal in this measure, which 
he called the Anacreontic ; 

Fol,lowe, fol|lowe, 
though | with mis|chiefe 
arm'd | like whirlej-wiqd 
now | she flies | thee ; 
time | can con quer 
loves | unkind nes ; 
love | can aljtcr 
times | disgracjes ; 
till | death faint | not 
then, | but fol|lowe. 


Could | I catch | that 
nimb|le tray|ter 
skornjfull Lawjra, 
swift|-foote Lawjra, 
soone | then would | I 
seeke | avenge | men t ; 
what's | th* avenge|nieut ? 
cv'n | snbmissejly 
prosjtrate then | to 
beg | for lnerjcyc. 

C. II. 


Sections 2. 2 /. are not uncommon ; 

The steel we touch, 

Forc'd ne'er so much, 

Yet still removes 

To that it loves, 

Till there it stays ; 

So J to your praise|, 

I turn ever j 

And though never 

From you moving 

Hapjpy so lov|ing. Drayton. 

But the Section 5, was, as might have been expected, 
the chief staple of these short rhythms ; 

Most good 1 most fair) 

Or things | most rare) 

To call | you's lost], 

For all | the cost) 

Words can bestow 

So poor|ly show| 

Upon | your praise|, 

That all | the ways| 

Sense hath | come short). Drayton. 

Section 6. was sometimes met with \ 

Pleasure it ys 
To here I wys 
The birds syngynge ! 
The dere | in the dale|, 
The shepe | in the valej, 
The corne spryngyng, 

Gods purveyance 
For sustenance, 

It is for man ! 8cc. 

Ballet, written about 1300. 

188 B. II. 


The Sections 1 . and 1 /. with three accents are fre- 
quently met with. There is one kind of metre in which 
these verses occur alternately. It has been revived by 
Moore ; 

Fill the bumper fair, 
Ev'ry drop we sprinkle, 
O'er the brow of Care, 
Smooths away a wrinkle, &c. 

The Section 2. is not unfrequently mixed up with the 
other Sections of three accents ; 

Thus, while we are abroad, 

Shall | we not touch | our lyre| ? 

Shall | we not sing | an ode| ) 

Shall that holy fire. 

In us that strongly glow'd, 

In this cold air expire ? Drayton. 

Milton has given us one specimen of 3/. 

Sabrina fair 

Lis | ten where | thou art si t| ting 

Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave, 

In twisted braids of lilies knitting 

The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair. 


The Sections 5. and 5/. have been alternated; they form 
a very pleasing metre ; 

Ere God | had built | the moun| tains, 
Or rais'd | the fruit |ful hills], 
Before | he fill'd | the fountains, 
That feed | the run|ning rills , 
In me | from ev|erlas|ting 
The won|derful | I AM 
Found plea8|ure8 nev|er wastjing, 
And Wi8|dom is | my name|. 



When, like | a tent | to dwell | in, 

He spread | the skies | abroad |, 

And swath'd | about | the swelling 

Of ojcean's mighjty flood], 

He wrought | by weight | and measjure, 

And I | was with | him then , 

Myself | the Father's pleas |ure, 

And mine | the sons | of men|. Cowper. Prov. 8. 

The Section 51. was much favoured during the 16th 
century. We have songs, some of good length, entirely 
composed of it, though, generally speaking, it occurred at 

Section 9. is of constant occurrence in our old ballads 
and popular songs ; 

Over Otter cap hill they cam in, 

And so dowyn | by Rodjclyffe cragej, 
Upon Grene Leyton they lighted down, 

Styrande many a stage. Battle of Otterburn. 

Burns often used it, as in his humourous song on John 

They *ve taen a weapon long and sharp, 

An' cut him by the knee, 
Then tied him fast upon a cart 

Like a rogue | for for|geriej 

T will make a man forget his woe, 

'T will heighten all his joy, 
'T will make the widow's heart to sing 

Tho' the tear | be in | her eye|. 

This verse has very little to recommend it. 

190 vnus o* FOtrit accents. b. ft. 


Verse op four accents. 

Ik ifee present chapter, we shall consider otcr verses of 
four accents as made up of two sections, and range them 
fttcortfittg to the order of the combinations;. 

This is not an artificial law, invented for the mere pur- 
poses of arrangement ; it is the model upon which the 
great majority of these verses have been actually formed. 
The construction of the Anglo-Saxon couplet of four ac- 
cents is rendered obvious to the eye, by the use of the 
rhythmical dot; and &ftt the verse or couplet of four 
accents was formed in the same manner as late as the 
thirteenth century, is clear from Layamon* and other 
poets of that period. That the adoption of foreign 
metre brought with it into our language many verses, 
which neither had, nor were intended to have, the middle 
pause, may perhaps be granted ; but that our poetry quick- 
ly worked itself clear from such admixture is no less 
certain. The critics of Elisabeth'* reign ktfliat upon the 
middle pause almost unanimously* They differed some- 
times as to its position, and did not entertain the clearest 
notions as to its nature or its origin; btit all seem to 
have acknowledged it as a necessary adjunct of English 

Gascoigne tells us, there are " certain pauses or restes 
in a verse, which may be called ceasures, whereof I would 
be loth to stand long, since it is at the discretion of the 
writer, and they have beene first devised (as it would 
seem) by the musicians ; but yet thus much I will adven- 
ture to write, that in a verse of eight syllables the pause 


will stand best in the middest, &e." In like manner Sit 
Philip Sidney represents English verse, unlike the Italian 
of Spanish, as * never almost '* failing of the w c&aufa Or 
breathing place ;" and King James has urged its impor- 
tance on his reader, and with reasoning that good Sense 
might adopt even at the present day. tt Remember also 
to make a sectiotm in the middes of everie lyne, quhethir 
the line be long or zhvrt" If the verse be of twelve or 
fourteen syllables, the section ought specially to be w othiir 
a monosyllabe, or the hinmest syllabe of a word, always 
being lang," for if it be u the first syllabe of a polysyl- 
labe, the music schaU make zou sa to rest in the middes of 
that word, as it schall cut the ane half of the word fra the 
uther, and sa shall mak it seme twa different wordis, that 
is bot ane." He thinks indeed the same caution not neces- 
sary in the shorter fines, because rt the musique makes no 
rest in the midttes of thame f but would have " the see- 
ftotm in them kythe somettring longer nor any uther feit 
In that line, except the second and tire last.** His mis- 
take, in considering the middle pause merely as a rest ft* 
music, led him to confine his rule thus narrowly* The 
verse of four accents he divided like Gascoigne. 

It is dear, I think, that in the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries the middle pause was looked upon as essential ; 
and that the verse of four accents was still formed of two 
sections, as in the Anglo-Saxon period. When we meet 
with such verses as the following,^ 

Guiding the fiery : -wheeled throne 
The cherub Con : temptation. 

I do not see how we can treat them otherwise than as 
false rhythm ; or if the middle pause be disowned, at least 
require that they should not intrude among verses of a 
different character and origin. If the poet make no ac- 
count of the pause, let him be consistent, and reject its 
aid altogether. If he prefer the rhythm of the foreigner, 
let him shew his ingenuity in a correct imitation, and not 


fall back upon our English verse, when his skill is ex- 
hausted. Both foreign and English rhythm are injured, 
by being jumbled together in this slovenly and inartificial 

In ranging our verses of four accents, we shall take the 
different sections in their order, and place under each 
the verses, of which such section forms the commence- 
ment. We shall then take the section lengthened and 
doubly lengthened. The same order will regulate the 
secondjsections of each verse. Thus we shall begin with 
the verses 1:1, 1:1/, I: III-, 1:2, 1:2/, 1 : 2//, &c, 
and then proceed to 2:1, 2:1/, 2 : 1//; 2 : 2, 2 i 21, 
2:211, &c. 


The verse 1:1, is met with in our old romances; and 
occurs so often in the fairy dialect of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, as to form one of its most characteristic features. 
It is now obsolete, but was occasionally used during the 
last century. 

He bethought him nedely, 

How | he might | : veng|ed be| 

Of that lady fair and fre. The Squyr of low degre, 293. 

Where the place ? upon the heath, 

There | to meet) : with | Macbeth |. Macbeth, 1.1. 

0|ver hill| : o|ver dale|, 

Tho|ro bu8h| : tho|ro brier), 

0|ver park| : o|verpale|, 

Tho|ro flood| : tho|ro firej, 

I do wander ev'ry where, 

Swifter than the moon's sphere. M . N. D. 2. 1 . 

Yet | but three| : come | one more|, 
Two of both things make up four. 
Here | she comes | : curst | and sad| : 
Cupid is a knavish lad, 
Thus to make poor females sad. 

M. N. D. 3. 2. 


There be berries for a queen, 

Some | be red | : some | begreen|. Fletcher s F. Sh. 1.1. 

I | must go] : I | must run|, 

Swifter than the fiery sun. F. Sh. 1.1. 

There | I stop) : fly | away) 

Ev'ry thing, that loves the day ; 

Truth | that hath] : but | one face], 

Thus I charm thee from the place. F. Sh. 3. 1. 

Some | times swift | : some | times slo\v| 

Wave succeeding wave they go, 

A various journey to the deep, 

Like human life to endless sleep. Dyers Grongar Hill. 

In the last extract the verse rather pleases than offends, 
for the dreaminess of the reflection suits well with its asso- 
ciations. Indeed, the poet's whole landscape is mere 
fairy-land. In the following example, I am by no means 
sure that the line ought not to be read with three accents. 
But when we see the pronoun me accented in the seventh 
line; and remember the light imaginative style of the 
poetry ; and above all, how deeply Milton had drunk in 
the rhythms of Fletcher ; the balance will probably turn 
in favour of the four accents. 

O'er the smooth enamelTd green, 
Where no print of foot hath been, 
Fol|low me | : as | I sing], 

And touch the warbled string, 

Under the shady roof 

Of branching elm star-proof, 
Follow me ; 
I will bring you where she sits, &c. Arcades. 

This is the only instance of the rhythm in Milton. 
The verse 1 : 1 is rarely found lengthened; and then al- 
most always in our old romances. 
vol. i. o 


Welcum ertou Ring Arthoure 
Of al this world thou beres the floor 
*Lo|rd King| : of | all king|es 
And blessed be he that the bringes. Gwaine and Gaitin. 

1 : 2. and 1:2/. are rare. 

See the day begins to break, 

And | the light | : shoots | like a streak | 

Of subtle fire. Fl. Fa. Sheph. 4, 4. 

See his wound again is burst, 

Keep | him near| : here | in the wood|, 

Till I have stopp'd these streams of blood. Same, 5. 2. 

Barjons, knights | : squiers | one and alle|. 

Skeltons Elegy. 

Dior|-boren| : dys|iges folc|es. Alfred. 

In quoting from Anglo-Saxon poems, translated in the 
third book, no English version will be given. To make 
such version intelligible, it would often be necessary to 
quote long passages. 

1:5. has been used in English poetry, for the last six 


Haste | thee nymph | : and bring | with thee | 

Quips | and cranks|: and wan|ton wiles|, 

Nods | and becks| -. and wreath|ed smiles|, 

Such | as hang| : on Heb|e's cheek|, &c. U Allegro. 

Les|ser than| : Macbeth | and great|er Macbeth, 1. 3. 

Look | not thouj : on beau|ty*s charmjing, 

Sit | thou still | : when kings | are arm ing, 

Taste | not when| : the wine|-cup glis tens, 

Speak | not when| : the peo|ple lis|tens, 

Stop | thine ear| : against | the sing|er, 

From the red gold keep thy finger, 

Vacant heart, and hand, and eye, 

Easy live, and quiet die. Walter Scott. 

* Lord is here a dyssyttable, £awerd f A. S.. 


1:9. is occasionally found in our ballads and old ro- 

The queyne duelt thus in Kildromey, 

And [ the king] : and his com|pany| 

Wandryt emang the hey mountains. The Bruce, 2. 763. 

As the section 1. is rare in Anglo-Saxon verse, we have 
as yet met with few alliterative couplets ; but many are 
found beginning with the lengthened section 1 /. 


1 Z: 1. has for ages, been well-known to our poetry; 
when lengthened it forms one of the commonest couplets 
in our Anglo-Saxon poems. 

And | the milk | maid : singjeth blithe] 

And | the mow|er : wets | his scythe]. L Allegro. 

The Anglo-Saxon couplets will be classed according to 
the alliteration, beginning with one that rhimes all the four 
syllables. The number, ranged under each head, will give 
the reader some notion of the comparative frequency of 
their occurrence in Anglo-Saxon verse ; 

Sweart|e swog|an : saes | npstig|on. Cadmon. 

hel|le heof |as : heard |e nith|as. Cadtnon. 

wer|leas werjod : waljdend senjde. Cadtnon. 

graes | nngren|e : gar|seeg theahjte. Cadmon. 

Scir|um 8cim|an : scipjpend nr|e. Cadmon. 

hord | and ham [as : hetjtend cran|gon. 

Brunanburgh War-song. 

waeg | lidenjdum : wsejtres bro|gan. Cadmon. 

eorth|an tud|dor : eall | acwel|de. Cadtnon. 

heaf |od eal|ra : heah | gesceaf |ta. Cadmon. 

lifjes brytjta : leoht | forth cum Jan. Ctedmon. 

lif |es bryt|ta : leoht | waes aer|est Ctedmon. 

form | an sithje : fyl|de hel]le. Cadtnon. 

Crecja ric|es : cnth | waes wid|e. Alfred. 

Crecja drih|ten : camp|sted sec|an. Alfred. 

o 2 


tbsegn|ra sinjra : thaer | raid waes|an. Alfred. 

Tha | Aulex|es : leaf|e haef |de. Alfred. 

For | auld stor|ys : that | men redjyg, 

Represents to them the dedys 

Of stalwart folk. The Bruce, 1.19. 

Earth's increase, and foison plenty, 

Barns | and garnjers : nevjer emp|ty, 

Vines | with clns|tring : bunch |es grow|ing, 

Plants | with goodjly : burjden bow|ing. 

Spring | come to | yon : at | the farthest, 

In | the ver y : end | of har|vest* 

Scarcity and want shall shun you 

Cer|e8' bles|sing : so | is on | you. Tempest, 4. 1 . 

1 Z : 2. is found in Anglo-Saxon, but very rarely in 
English ; 

stream | as stodjon : storm | up gewat. Cad. 

yth | with oth|re : ut | feor adraf|. Alf. 

yth | a wraecjon : an jleasra feorh | . Cad. 

lath | e cyrm|don : lyft | up geswearc. Cad. 

for | mid fearmje : faer|e ne mos|ton. Cad. 

ham | and heahjsetl : heof|ona ric|es. Cad. 

wul|dre8 ethjel : wroht | waes asp rung | en. Cad. 

drig|e stow|e : dug|otha hyrdje. Cad. 

mon|na swithjost : man|egra thiodja. Alf. 

Will | he woo | her ? : ay | or Til hang | her. 

T of the Shrew, 1 . 2. 

1 / : 5. was a well-known couplet in Anglo-Saxon. It 
was very common in our old romances, and was still 
flourishing as late as Elizabeth's reign. It must now be 
considered as obsolete ; 

Oht | mid eng|lum : and or | leg nlth|. Cad. 

jEf |en aerjest : him am | on last]. Cad. 

wrath | um weorpjan : on wiljdra lic|. Alf. 

Ag|amem|non : se ealjles weold|. Alf 


Sceot|ta leod|a : and scip|-flotan|. 

Brunanburgh War-song. 

nym | the heo | waes 2 ahaf |en on'. Cad. 

Storyss to rede are delitabill, 

Supposs that thai be nocht but fabill. 

Than | suld stor|yss i that suth|fast wer|, 

And thai war said in gud maner, 

Haive doubill plesance in heryng j 

The first plesannce is the carpyng, 

And I the toth|ir : the suth[fastnes| 

That schawys the thing right as it wes ; 

And I such thing|is : that are | likandj 

Tyll manny8 heryng are plesand. The Bruce, 1.1. 

Set me a new robe bv an olde, 

And I coarse cop|par : by duck|ate gold|, 

An ape unto an elephante, 

Bruck|le byr|all : by di|amante|, 

Set I rich ru|by : to redd | emayle|, 

The raven's plume to peacoke's tayle, 

There shall no less an oddes be seene 

In myne, from everye other queene. Putt. Parth. 15. 

When I build castles in the air, 

Void I of sor|row : and void | of care|. 

Burton, Anat. of Mel. 

Weljcoine wel|come : ye dark | blue waves|. Byron. 

The lengthened verse is more rare ; 

Seow I and set|te : geond sef [an monjna. Ex. MSS. 

Wil|le burn|an : on wor|uld thring|an. Cad. 

Verses beginning with 1 //. are occasionally met with, but 
chiefly in the tumbling verse; for instance Iff: 1. ; 

With | him man|fully : for | to nght|. 

M.for M. Flodd. Fielde, 2. 

With | such ho|liness : can | you do | it. H 6,2. I. 

It would be useless to mark down every variety, which 
has been stumbled upon by the writers of such licentious 
metre as the tumbling verse. Those verses only, which 


occur often enough to give a character to the rhythm, will 
be noticed. 

Verses beginning with Section .2. 2L were always rare* 
The lengthened verse is found in Anglo-Saxon ; 

All the commownys went him fra, 

That | for thair liff| : war | full fain| 

To pass to the Inglis pes again. The Bruce, 2. 304. 

He that keeps nor crust nor crumb, 

Wear|y of all| : shall | want some|. Lear, 1. 4. 

Man|faehthu bearn| ; mid | dan geardjes. Cted. 

Au|lixes mid | : an | hund scip|a. Alf. 

Com | ane to| : ceolje lith|an. Alf. 


2. 2. is now seldom met with ; the lengthened verse is 
a common Anglo-Saxon couplet; 

We | did observe | : coujsin Aumerle|, 

How far brought you high Her'ford on his way ? 

R 2, 1. 6. 

Still | to be neat| : still | to be drest|, 
As you were going to a feast, 
Still to be powder'd, still perfum'd, 
Lady, it is to be presum'd, 
Though art's hid eauses are not found, 
All is not sweet, all is not sound. 

Give | me a look | : give | me a face|, 
That makes simplicity a grace ; 
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free, 
Such sweet neglect more taketh me 
Than all th' adulteries of art, 
They strike the eyes, but not the heart. 

B Jons. Epicotne, 1. 1. 

And | to the stack] : or | the barn door), 

Stoutly struts his dames before. L' Allegro. 


Come | to my bowl| : come j to my arms), 
My friends, my brothers. Burns. 

Wraecjlicne ham) : weorcje to leanje. Ced. 

Trojia burh| : til|um gesith|um. Alf. 

Thrie|rethre ceol| : thaet | bith that maesjte. Alf. 

Hoel|etha beam) : hoef|don tha moeg|tha. A If. 

The verse from L'Allegro is, I believe, the only one 
written by Milton in this rhythm. 

The verse 2 : 5, has long been one of the standard 

Where | the great sun| : begins [ his state |. 

U Allegro. 

Ere | the first cock| : his mat|in rings |. U Allegro. 

2 : 6. was very common in the tumbling verse. 

King | without real me | : lo now | where T stand |. 

M.forM. King James, 3. 

Now | am I bond| : sometime | I was free). Same, 5. 

Whom | should I blame | : I found J that I sought). 

Same f 7. 

Pray | we that God| t will grant | us his grace |. 

Flodden Field, 6. 

Sone J then the gunnes) : began | a new play|. Same. 

And | the vaunt-garde| : together are gone). Same. 

And | the luce-head) : that day | was full bent|. Same. 

This is one of those verses which belong to the triple 
measure; and though never used by Cowper, and those 
who have left us the happiest specimens of that rhythm, 
is far from uncommon in the works of our later poets. 
2 : 9. is only found in the tumbling verse ; 

In | the vaunt-garde) : forward fast | did hye). 

M.forM. Mod.F. 6. 

Give | the Scots grace) : by King Jem | yes fall). 

Same, 25. 


If | the whole quere : of the mus|es nine). 

Skelton's Elegy. 

2 : 10. is also found in the tumbling verse. It falls 
within the rhythm of the triple measure, and is constantly 
used by all the writers of that metre. 

And J the whole powre| : of the earle | of Darby |. 

M . for M. Flod. Field, 1 4. 

To | the French king| : yf he list | to take heed|. 

M.for M. Kg. James, 12. 

No | 'tis yourfool| : wherewith I | am so tak|en. 

Ben Jons. Fox, 1 . 2. 

The verse 21: 1. is very common. When lengthened 
it forms an Anglo-Saxon couplet. 

Un|der the haw) thorn : in | the dale |. L % Allegro. 

Drug|on and dydjon : driht|nes wiljlan. Cadmon. 

Theodjen his theg|nas : thrym|mas weoxjon. Cadmon. 

Dior|e gecep|te : drib | ten Crec|a. Alf. 

Cyn|inges theg|nas : cys|pan sithjthan. Alf. 

^|thelstan cyn|ing : eor|ladrih|ten. War Song. 

Mi n | ton forloet|an : leof|ne hlafjord. Alf. 

Yet | thou art bigjher : far | descen|ded. IlPenseroso. 

2 1 : 2. was very common in Anglo-Saxon, but always 
rare in English, and may now be considered as obsolete. 

Beorht | and geblaed|fast : bu|endra leasf. C<zd. 

Fer|ede and ner|ede : fif|tena stodj. C<ed. 

Her cheeke, her chinne, her neck, her nose, 
This | was a lyljye : that | was a rose|. 

Puttenham. Parth. 7. 

Terns easy for his easye tides, 
Built all along with mannours riche, 
Quin|borows salt | sea: brack |isli Grenewich|. 

Parth. 1 6. 


Through | the sharp haw | thorn : blows | the cold wind |. 

Lear, 3. 4. 

8eom|odon sweart|e : sith|e ne thorfjton Cad. 

maeg|en-craeft mic|el : mod|a gehwilc|es. Alf 

eal|de geguin|ge: ealjle forhwerf|de. Alf. 

haef|don hi mar|e : mon|nnm gelicjes. Alf. 

21: 5. is also common in Anglo-Saxon, but very rare in 

deop | ofer dun|um ; see dren|ce flod[. Cad. 

gief|eth atgu|the : thon gar|getram|. Ex. MSS. 

wearth | under wolcjnum : for wig|es heard. Alf. 

lath|wende her|e : on lang|e sith). Cad. 

cyn|inge8 doh|tor : sio Cir|ce waes|. Alf. 

Where | fore 1 fear | me: that now | I shall). 

M.forM. Kg. James 7. 

Leavinge the land thye bellsire wan 

Too the barbarous Ottoman, 

And | for grief chaung|ed : thy ho|ly haunt). 

Putt. Parth. 1 6. 

God | -bear n on grand] urn : his gief|e brytjtath. Ex. MSS. 

Tha | gyta wid | land : ne weg|as nyt|te. Cad. 

Andjreccan sprsec|e : gelic|ne ef|re. Alf. 

It is seldom we find, in such short rhythms as the present, 
the alliteration fall on the second accent of the last section. 
Rask's " complement " would assist but little in the scan- 
ning of such a verse. 

21:6. belongs to the triple measure, and, like all those 
verses which have the rhythm running continuously 
through both sections, is often met with in that metre. 
This verse was common in the tumbling metre ; and also, 
when lengthened, in the early English alliterative poems. 

Thus | for my fol|ly ; I feele | I do smarte). 

M.for M. Kg. James, 3. 


By | mine own foljly : I bad | a great fall). Same, 7. 

Which | for their mer|its : in field | with me fell). 

Same, 9. 

Adjjuva pa|ter : then fast | did they cry|. 

M.forM. Flod. Field, 6. 

Nesjtil ilocjed: hn long | hit the wer|e. 

The Death-song. 

Brougt | up a bul|le : wit bish|opes seel|es. P. Ploughman. 

Com | en op knel|ing : to kis|sen his bul|le. Same. 

Serjauntis it seemed : that serven at barre, 

Plet|en for pen | yes : and pound |es the law|e, 

And nougt for love of oure lord. P. Ploughman. 

Tis | a good hearjing: when chil|dren are to | ward, 
But | a harsh hear|ing : when worn | en are fro | ward. 

T. of the Shrew, 5. 2. 

21: 9. arid 2 /: 10. are also found in this rhythm. 

Yet | I beseech | you* of your char|ity|. 

M.for M. Kg. James, 15. 
With | the Lord Confers : of the north | country |. 

M.forM. Flod.FieH,7. 

Pres|ed forth boldjly : to withstand | the might), 

Skeltons Elegy. 

Eche | man may sor|row : in his in | ward thought]. 

Same, 24. 

That | a king crown |ed : an earle durst | not abide). 

M.forM. Flodd. Field, 5. 

And | our bolde bil|men : of them slewe | mony one). 

Same, 15. 

Fled | away from | him : let him lie | in the dust|. 

Skeltons Elegy. 

Of the verses beginning with 2 //. there is one, 2 //. : 2. 
which has been adopted into the triple measure. It was 
well known to our tumbling verse. . 

Conjtrary to | mine othe: solemnly made). 

M.for M. Kg. James, 6. 


Vanquished in fielde | I was : to | the rebuke |. Same, 7* 

Lord ) whom thou fajvourest : win|neth the game). 

Same, 8. 


The verse 5 : 1 . is often found in old English poems. It 
did not become obsolete till after the reign of Elizabeth. 

He warneth all and some 

Of everiche of hir aventures. 

By avisions, or by figures 

But that | our flesh | : hath | no might | 

To understand* it aright. Chau. House of Fame. 

And sum | thai put| : in j prisoun 

For owtyn causs or exchesoun. The Bruce, 1. 280. 

Her eyes, God wott, what stuff they arre, 

I durst be sworne eche ys a starre -, 

As clere | and brighte| : as | to guide | 

The pilot in his winter tide. Puttenham. Parth. 1 7. 

Gentle breath of yours my sails 

Must fill, or else my project fails, 

Which was | to please] : Now | I want | 

Sp'rits to enforce, &c. Tempest, Epilogue. 

Now my charms are all overthrown, 

And what strength I have 's my own, 

Which is | most faint) : now | t'is true | 

I must be here confined by you, 

Or sent to Naples. Tempest, Epilogue. 

The lengthened verse was common in Anglo-Saxon, but 
rare in the later dialects. 

stod deop | and dim| : driht|ne fremjde. Cad. 

thurh dright|nes word| : dceg | genemjned Cad. 

sum heard | geswincj : habjban sceoljdan Cad. 

thurh hand|-mo3gen| : hal|ig drih|ten. Cad. 

* Query understands. 


tha segjnade : self|a drih|ten Cad. 

and Re|tie| : ric|es hyrd|e. Alf. 

on fif|el 8tream| : fam|ig bos | ma. Alf. 

thaet Au[lixes| : un|derhaef|de. Alf 

ou mor|gen tid | : moer|e tunc|gol. War Song. 

For by Christ lo thus it fareth 

It is | not all] : gold | that glar eth. Chau. House of Fame. 

And mo curious portraitures, 

And queint manner of figures 

Of gold work, than I saw ever ; 

But cerjtainly) : I | n'ist nev|er 

Where that it was. Chau. House of Fame. 

Each byas was a little cherry, 
Or as | I think | : a | strawberjry. 

Puttenham. Prin. Paragon. 

The verse 5 : 2. was never common, and is now almost 

Of floesc|- homan| : flod | ealle wreahj. Cad. 

To gyr|wanne| : god|lecran stol|. Cad. 

Thow that besides forreine affayres, 

Canst tend| to make| : yere|ly repayres | 

By summer progresse, and by sporte, 

To shire | and towne| : cit|ye and porte| — 

Thow that canst tend to reade and write 

Dispute | , declame,| : ar|gewe, endyte,| 

In schoole and universitye, 

In prose and eke in poesye, — Puttenham. Parth. 1 6. 

And he | good prince) : hav|ing all lost) 

By waves from coast to coast is tost. Pericles, Prol. 2. 

By Pan ! I think she hath no sin 

She is | so light] : lie | on these leaves], 

Sleep that mortal sense deceives 

Crown thine eyes. Fl Faith. Sh. 5. 2. 

And from her fair unspotted side 

Two blis|sful twins | : are | to be born | 

Youth and Joy : so Love hath sworn. Comus. 


Of these | am I| : Coijla my name|. Burns. 
The lengthened verse is not more common. 

On foeg|e folk| : feow|ertig dag|a Cad. 

On wen|del soe[ : wig|cndra scol|a Alf. 

Se licjette | : lit[lum and micjlum Alf. 

— — — Advise 
Forthwith | how thou| ; oughtst | to receive | him. 

Sams. Agon. 

The king 

Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen 
Well-struck | in years | : fair | and not jealjous. 

22 3, 1. 1. 

The verse 5:5. has always been common in English 
poetry ; in Anglo-Saxon it is found but rarely. 

And as | I wake| : sweet Music breathe | 

Above, | about, | : or un|derneath|. // Penseroso. 

Ne wil|le ic leng| : his geon|gra weorth|an. Cad. 

Sweet bird | that shun*nst| : the noise | of foljly 

Most mu|sical| : most mel|ancholy. II Penseroso. 

5 : 6. is only met with in the tumbling verse. 

This no|ble earle] : full wisejly hath wrought]. 

M.for M. King James, 3. 

Whereof | the Scots] : were right | sore afrayde]. 

M.for M. Flodd.F. 19. 

Fy fy | for shame [ : their hearts | were too faint]. 

Skeltons Elegy. 

In the same licentious metre, we meet with the section 
5: 9. 

The Per|se out| : off Northum|berlande|, 

And a vow to God made he, 
That he wolde hunte in the Mountains 

Of Cheviat within dayes thre. Chevy Chase. 

In se|8ons pastj : who hath harde | or seene, 

Skeltons Elegy, 4. 


Tbe fa|mous erle| : of Northum|berland|. Same, 16. 

Also with 5 : 10. 

Hee cryde | as he| : had been stikt | with a swerd). 

M.for M. King James, 2. 

From high | degree) : to the lowjest of all|. Same, 7. 

Now go | thy ways) : thou hast tam'd | a curst shrew. | 

T. of tip Shrew, 5. 2. 


The verse 51: 1. is common. The lengthened verse is 
also found in Anglo-Saxon. 

In notes with many a winding bout 

Of lin|ked sweetjness : long | drawn out). L' Allegro. 

ge|gremmed grim | me : grap | on wrath |e. Cad. 

sceop nihjte nam | an : nirjgend ur|e. Cad. 

gestathjelodje : strang|um miht|um. Cad. 

on mer|e flod|e : middum weorthan. Cad. 

Thoet on | tba tidje : theodja aeg|hwilc. A If. 

That hie | with drihtjne : <lael|on miht|on. Cad. 

Ac him | se moer|a : mod | getwaef|de. Cad. 

But hail | thou Godjdess : sage | and ho|ly. 11 Penseroso. 

5 /: 2. occurs very rarely, except in our old romances 
and the tumbling verse. The lengthened verse may also 
be found in Anglo-Saxon. 

Tharfor thai went til Abyrdene 

Qhuar Nele the Bruyss come, and the queyn 

And othjir lad|yis : fayr 1 and farand | 

Ilkane for luff off thair husband. The Bruce, 2. 320. 

Both law | and na|ture : doth | me accusef. 

M. for M. King James, 4 

And in | fowle manjer : brake | their aray|. 

M.forM. Flod. Field, 14. 

What franjtick fren|sy : fyll | in youre brayne|. 

Skeltons Elegy, 8. 


To sum|um deorje : swilcjam he aer|or. Alf 

His with|er brec|can : wul|dor gesteal|dum. Cad. 

51: 5. was always rare, and may now be looked upon as 

geond foljeo fyr|e : and faer|-cyle|. Cad. 

A noble hart may haiff nane ess, 

Na ellys nocht that may him pless, 

Gyfffre|dome fail | yhe : for f re | liking | 

To yharnyt our all othir thing. The Bruce, 1. 232. 

He is promised to be wiv'd 

To fair | Mari|na : but in | no wise | 

Till he had done his sacrifice. Pericles, 5. 2. 

But I | will tar|ry : the fool | will stay | 

And let the wise man fly. Lear, 2. 4. 

Come hith|er, hithjer : my litjtle page| 

Why dost thou wail and weep } Byron. 

Why this | a fon|tome : why that | oracjles 

In'ot | but who | so : of these miracles 

The causes know, &c. Chan. House of Fame. 

5 1: 6. is only found in the tumbling verse. 

With four [score thousand : in good|ly array |. 

M. for M. King James, 2. 

That roy|all rel|ike : more prec|ious than golde|. Same, 6. 

Fulfyld | with mal|ice : pf fro|ward intente|. 

Skeltoris Elegy, 4. 

Let dou|ble del|inge : in the | have no place) Same, 25. 

In me | all one|ly : were sett | and comprisyde|. Same, 23. 

Alas | those pleas|ures : be stale | and forsak|en. 

Ben. Jons. Fox, 1. 2. 

5/ : 10. is also to be found in the same barbarous rhythm. 

St. Cut|berds ban|ner : with the bishjops men bolde|. 

M.for M. Flod. Field, 6. 


Sir Ed | ward Stan (ley : in the rearej-warde was he|. 

Same, 14. 

In this rhythm we may also find verses beginning with 
5 IL, for instance 5 11: 2. and 5 11: 6. 

I knew | not ve|rily : who | it should be|. 

M.for M. King James, 2. 

That vil aine hastjarddis : in their fu|rious tene|. 

Skelloris Elegy, 4. 

The first of these belongs to the triple measure, and is 

The class of verses beginning with the section 6, is now 
almost obsolete, and in none of the better periods of our 
literature did these rhythms meet with much favour. They 
are not often found in Anglo-Saxon ; and though they occur 
more frequently, they are still rare in the Old English 
alliterative metre. In our ballads they are common ; and, 
as might be expected, they abound in the tumbling verse. 
The few which belong to the triple measure, have alone 
survived in modern usage. 


The verse 6 : 1. though its rhythm be abrupt and awk- 
ward, was used both by Gower and Chaucer — doubtless 
because it fell within the orthodox number of eight sylla- 

And that his shipes dreint were 

Or el|es ylost| : he | n'ist where | Chau* Ho. of Fame. 

6 : 2. though of the triple measure, is only found in the 
tumbling verse and some of the later alliterative poems. 
The sharp and sudden stop between the two sections, is 
probably the cause why they have been so little favoured. 

Of Scotland he sayde| : late | I was king|. 

M. for M. King James, 2. 

Quhyt, 82em|lie and soft) : as | the sweet lil|ies. Dunbar. 


6 : 5. is also confined to our old romances and the 
tumbling verse. 

Durst nane of Wales in battle ride 

No yhet fra ewyn fell, abide 

Castell or wallyt town within 

That he | ne suld lyff | : and lymjmes tyne|. 

The Bruce, 1. 108. 

That us | to withstand | : he had | no might |. 

M.forM. Flod. Field, 1. 

The fajther of wit| : we call | him may|. Same, 1 1. 

Beseech |ing him there | : to show his might |. Same, 17. 

The verse 6 : 6. belongs to the triple measure, and is used 
without scruple even by the most careful writers of that 

With sorrowful sighes| : as ev|er man herdej. 

M./or M. King James, 2. 

With crowne | on my head| : and scepjter in hand|. 

M./or M. K. James, 2. 

The breatch | of myne oath| : I did | not regarde. 

Same, 10. 

That aef |re undon| : the wul|e tha dur|e. Death Song. 

For Py|thagores sake| : what bod|y then took | thee. 

Ben. Jons. Fox, 1. 2. 

The first of these verses was very common in the early 
half of the 16th century. Many short poems were en- 
tirely composed of it. It seems, however, to have fallen 
into disuse shortly afterwards ; for Gascoigne, who regrets 
the exclusive attention that was paid in his time to the 
common measure, tells his reader, " we have used in time 
past other kindes of meeters, as, for example, the fol- 

. No wight in this world : that wealth can attaine, 
Unless he believe : that all is in vain." 

VOL. I. P 


This metre was afterwards revived. 

6 : 9. was rarely met with except in the tumbling verse ; 

I purposed war| : yet I fain|ed truce|. 

M.for M. K. James, 4. 

Thus did | I Frenche Kingej : for the love | of thee|. 

Same, 4. 

To suf |fer him slain] : of his mor|tall foe|. 

Skelton. EL 6. 

Thus gat | levyt thai] : and in sic | thrillage|, 

Bath pur and thai of hey perage. The Bruce, 1. 275. 

6 : 10. and 6:11. are two of the commonest verses in 
the triple measure. They are also of constant occurrence 
in the tumbling verse ; 

In this | wretched world | : I may no | longer dwell|. 

M.for M. K. James, 14. 

Our her | aid at armes| : to King Jem | ye did say|. 

M.for M. Flodd. Field, 4. 

With all | the hole sorte| : of that glor|ious place |. 

Skelton s El. 31. 

Ab per I rightly as| : could be thought | or devys|ed. 

Same, 23. 


61: i. and 61:2. are extremely rare, but when lengthened 
are found both in Anglo-Saxon and in our later alliterative 
meters ; 

Thai kyssit thair luffis, at thair partyng, 

The King | wmbethocht | him : off | a thing|, 

That he fra thaim on fute wald ga. The Bruce, 2. 747 '. 

ge8log|on aet saecjce : sweord|a ecjgum. War Song. 

Of aed|ragehwaen|e : ego |r stream | as. C&d. 


In set | ting and sow|ing : swonke* | full sore). 

P. Ploughman. 

But japers and Jangjlers : jud|as chil|dren. Same. 

These verses of ten syllables are the shortest that are 
found in Piers Plowman. They are rarely met with in 
alliterative poems of a later date ; 

His sore | exclamations : made | me afferde|. 

M.for M. K. James, 2. 

And held | with the com|mons : un|der a cloke|. 

Skeltons El. 11. 

Tha waerjon geset|te : widje and sidje. Cad. 

And rawyt | with his ragjemen : ring|es and broch|es. 

P. Ploughman. 

In glotjenye God | wote : gon | they to bed|de. Same. 
61: 5. is almost peculiar to the tumbling verse; 

Yet were | we in nomjber : to his | one three |. 

M. for M. K. James y 8. 

I trowe | he doth neijther : God love | nor dread |. 

Same, 12. 

That buf |nt8 the Scots | bare : they lac Iked none|. 

M.for M. Flod. Field, 20. 

But by | them to know] lege : ye may | attayne|. 

Skeltons El. 19. 

61: 6. belongs to the triple measure, and as the rhythm 
runs continuously through the line, it has survived the 
tumbling verse, of which it once formed one of the most 
striking features. The lengthened verse is found in Piers 

In peac|eable man(er : I rul|ed my land|. 

M.for M. Kg. James, 2. 

* The e is, I believe, a blunder of the transcriber. 

P 2 


Full friendjly and faithjful : my subjjects I fand|. 

Same. 3. 

Fall boldjly their big | men : against | me did come|. 

Flod. Field. 17. 

Your hap | was unhapjpy : to ill | was your spedej. 

Skeltons EL 9. 

Twas I | won the wag|er : though you | hit the white], 
And bejing a win|ner : God give | you good night |. 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 5* 2. 

And len|eth it los|elles : that lech|erye haunjteth. 

P. Ploughman. 

There hov|ed an hund|red : in hoav|es of selkje. Same. 

Which soul | fast and loose | Sir : came first | from Apoljlo. 

B. Jons. Fos, 1. 2. 

61: 9. and 61: 10. are only found in the tumbling verse 
and some of the most slovenly specimens of the triple 
measure ; 

Ye had | not been a|ble : to have said | him Nay|. 

Skeltons EL 10. 

And could | not by falsjhode : either thrive | or thie|. 

M.for M. Kg. James, 9* 

For sorjrowe and pi|ty : 1 gan nere | to resortej. Same, 4. 

Now room | for fresh game |sters : who do will | you to know. | 

B. Jons. Fox, 1. 2. 

As blithe | and as art) less : as the lambs | on the lea|, 
And dear to my heart as the light to my ee. 

Burns. Auld Rob Morris. 

Of the verses beginning with 6 //. we have one 611: 2. 
which still keeps its station in our poetry. It belongs to 
that class of verses, which have the triple rhythm running 
through both sections. This was doubtless the cause of 
its surviving. It is found occasionally in the tumbling 
verse ; 


fiothe tem|poral and spiritual : for | to complayne|. 

Skeltoris EL 26. 

Why then | thy dogmat|ical ? sijlence hath left | thee — 
Of that | an obstreperous : lawjyer bereft | me. 

B. Jons. Fox, 1. 2. 

In the same loose metre, we sometimes meet with such 
a verse as 611: 10. 

The Barjon of Kil|lerton : and both As [tones were there]. 

M.for M. Flodd. Field, 10. 




Our verse of five accents may be divided into two sec- 
tions, whereof one contains two, and the other three ac- 
cents. Accordingly as it opens with one or other of these 
sections, the character of its rhythm varies materially. 
We shall in the present chapter pass under review those 
verses, which begin with the section of two accents. 

Before, however, we proceed, I would make one or two 
observations on a subject, which has already been touched 
upon in the opening of the last chapter. Gascoigne 
thought that in a verse of ten syllables, the pause would 
" be best placed at the ende of the first four syllables." 
He adds, however, soon afterwards, " In rithme royall it 
is at the writer's discretion, and forceth not where the 
pause be until the end of the line." Now as the stanza, 
known by the name of the rhythm royal, was borrowed 
from the French, this strengthens an opinion already 
mooted, that, with the other peculiarities of foreign 
metre, the flow of its rhythm was introduced into our 
poetry. But that it quickly yielded to the native rhythm 
of the language is clear, no less from the versification of 
such poets, as have survived to us, than from the silence 
of contemporary critics. Gascoigne is the only writer 
who alludes to this license — a strong proof that it was not 
generally recognised even as a peculiarity of the rhythm 


In most of the manuscripts I have seen, containing verse 
of five accents, the middle pause is marked; though not so 
carefully, as in the alliterative poems of the same age. 
Below are the first eighteen lines of Chaucer's Prologue, 
from MS. Harl. 1758, and MS. Harl. 7333. The first ma- 
nuscript gives both the middle and the final pauses. 

Whan that April . wit his shoures swote . 

The drought of Marche . hath perced to the rote . 

And bathed every veyne . in such licoure . 

Of whiche virtue . engendred is the floure . 

And Zephyrus eke . with his swete breth 

Expired hath • in everie holt and heth . 

The tender croppes . and the yong sonne. 

Into the ram . his half cours ronne . 

And sm ale fowles . maken melodye . 

That slepen all the nyght . with open eye . 

So pricketh hem nature . in here corages . 

Than longen folk . to gon on pilgrimages . 

And palmers for to seke . straunge strondes 

To serve halwes . couthe in sondry londes . 

And specialy • from everie schires ende . 

Of Englond . to Canterburye thei wende. 

The holy blissfull martyr for to seke. 

That hem hath holpen . when that they were seke. 

Whanne that Aperyll wit his shoures swoote 
The drowht of Marche hathe perced to the roote 
And bathed every veyne . in suche likoure 
Of wiche vertue . engcnderid is the floure 
Whenne Zephyrus eke . wit his swete brethe 
Enspiryd hathe in every holt and hethe 
The tendre croppes . and the yownge sonne 
Hathe in the rame . his halfe cours eronne 
And smale foules . maken melodye 
That slepen al the night wit open eye 
So prickethe hem nature . in thaire courages 
Thanne longer folkes to gon on pilgrimages 
And palmers eke . to seke straunge strondes 
To serve halwes . cowthe in sundrye landis 


And speciallye . frome every shyres ende 

Of England to Canterburye thei wende 

The hooly blyssfulle martyr, ffor to seke 

That hem hathe holpon . whanne that thei were seke. 

The occasional omission or misplacing of the dot, is 
perfectly in keeping with the general inaccuracy of these 
two copies. Indeed, in MS. Harl. 7333, the pause, when 
inserted, is often nothing more than a mere scratch of the 
pen. Still, as it seems to me, we can only come to one 
conclusion, in examining these manuscripts ; namely, that 
each verse was looked upon as made up of two sections, 
precisely in the same way as the alliterative couplet of 
the Anglo-Saxons. 


are of very rare occurrence. They are chiefly used by our 
dramatists. We shall begin with the verse 1 : 2, 

Have I not heard these islanders cry out, 

Vive | le roi| : as | I have bank'd | their towns|. 

King John, 2. 

O | that's well : fetch | me my cloke | my cloke|. 

B. Jons. Ev. M. in his Humor, 2, 3. 

Hold, shepherd, hold ! learn not to be a wronger 

Of | your word| : was | not your prom|ise laid) 

To break their loves first ? F. Faith. Sheph. 4. 3. 

1 : 5. is more common. 

Like a pilgrime which that goeth on foote, 

And hath none horse to relieve his travaile, 

Whote dry and wery, and may find no bote 

Of | wel cold | : whan thrust | doth him | assailej — 

Right so fare I. Lydgate. Fall of Prince*. 

Then as a bayte she bringeth forth her ware, 
Siljver, gold,| : riche perle|, and precjious stone). 

Sir T. More. Boke of Fortune. 


Barkloogbly castle call you this at hand ? 

Yea, | my lord| : how brook | your grace | the air|. 

R 2, 3. 2* 

Delights and jolly games 

That shepherds hold full dear, thns put I off; 

Now | no more) : shall these | smooth brows | be girt| 

With youthful coronals. Ft. Fa. Sheph. 

Thrice from the banks of Wye, 

And sandy-bottom'd Severn have I sent him 

Boot|less home| : and weath|er-beat|en back|. 1 H 4, 3. 1. 

Ja|el wh< | : with hos|pita|ble guile] 

Smote Sisera sleeping. Sampson Agon. 

Chaucer affords us a few instances of the same verse 
lengthened ; 

Ther n*as quicksilver, litarge, ne brimston, 

Boras, ceruse, ne oile of tartre non, 

Ne | ointinent| : that wol|de clen|se or bit|e, 

That him might helpen of his whelkes white. Chau. Prol. 

Verses beginning with the section 1 L abound in Anglo- 
Saxon ; they are also met with in Chaucer and the writers 
of the fifteenth century, but were rarely used after that 
period, except by our dramatists. 

sec|ga swat|e : sith|thausun|ne up|. War Song. 

won | nan waeg|e : wer|a eth|el-land|. Cad. 

wael|-grim wor|um : wul|dor cyn|inges. Cad. 

gasjtas geom|re : geofjon death |e hweop|. Cad. 

sid | and swegl|-torht : him | thser sar | gelampj. Cad. 

beot | forbors|ten : and | forbyg|ed thrym|. Cad. 

torhjte Tyr|e : and | his torn | gewraec|. Cad. 

wiht | gewor|den : ac | this wid|a grand). Cad. 

won|ne weg|as : tha | woes wuljdor torhtj. Cad. 

Up | from eorth|an : thurh | his ag|en word|. Cad. 

sid | aet som|ne : tha | gesund|rod waes|. Cad. 

micljum sped [urn : metjod eng|laheht|. Cad. 


mid | dan geard|es : met|od af|ter sceaf). Cad. 

stith | ferhth cyn|ing: stod | Lis hand] -geweorc|. Cad. 

or | gewordjen : ne | nu en)de cymth|- Cad. 

gas|ta weard|um : hse|don gleam | and dream). Cad. 

mon|nesel|na : that | is m»|rowyrd|. Cad. 

Wal|dend ur|e : and | geworh|te tha|. Cad. 

Ag|an woljde : tha | wearth ir|re God|. Cad, 

The grete clamour and the waimenting 

Which that the ladies made at the brenning 

Of | the bod|ies : and | the gretje honour | 

That Theseus the noble conqueror 

Doth to the ladies. Chau. Knight es Tale. 

Thou mightest wenen that this Palamon 

In | his fight |inge : wer|e a wood | leon|.* Knight es Tale. 

No more of this for Goddes dignitee 

Quod | oure hosjte : for | thou makjest me|. 

So weary, &c. Chau. ProL to Melibeus. 

Like | a Pil|grime : which | that goeth | on footej. 


Thus | fell Ju|lius : from | his mighjty pow'r|. 

Sir T. More. Soke of Fortune. 

■ Up the foresayle goes, 

We fall on knees, amid the happy gale, 
Whych | by God's | will : kind | and calmejly blowes|. 

Gascoigne. Journey into Holland. 

Tut ! | when struckst | thou ; one | blow in | the field] ? 

2H6, 4.7. 

The other again 

Is | my kin s | man : whom | the king | hath wrong'd|. 

R 2, 2. 2. 

When comes such another ? 

Nev|er ! nev|er ! ; come|, away away] ! Jul . Cos. 3. 2. 

* Tyrwhitt very unnecessarily inserts an a* to eke out the metre " were 
as a wood leon." 


But hast thou yet latched the Athenian's eyes, 

With I the love I juice : as I I bid | thee dol? 

1 M.N.D. 3. 2. 

O | this learn |ing : what | a thing | it is|. 

| this wood|cock : what | an ass | it is|. 

T. of the Shrew, 1. 2. 

1 thank my blessed angel, never, never, 
Laid | I pen|ny : bet|ter out | than this|. 

B. Jons. E. M. out of his Humor, 1.3. 

Let him that will ascend the tott'ring seat 
Of | our granjdeur : and j become | as great | 
As are his mounting wishes $ as for me 
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be. 

Sir M. Hale, from Seneca. 

O I that tor|ment: should | not be | confined | 

To the body's wounds and sores ! Samson. 

The lengthened verse is more rare. 
Ag|an wol|dun : and | swa eath|e meahjton. Cad. 

Wyrd I raid waeg|e : thaer | aer waeg|as lag]on Cad. 

Fus I on froet | wum : hcef|de foec|ne hyg|e. Cad. 

*— — Let me think we conquer d — 
Do|, but so I think : as | we may | be conjquer'd. 

Fl. Bonduca, 1.1. 

Hear ( me cap|tain : are | you not | at leis]ure. I H 6,5. 3. 
1 / : 2- is rarely met with after the 15th century, save in 
the works of our dramatists. 

baelc | forbig|de : tha | he gebolg|en wearth|. Cad, 

And ran with all thair mycht, 

To | the fecb[taris : or | thai com ner | that place'. 
Of thaim persawyt rycht weill was gud Wallace. 

Wallace, 11. 105. 

- That deemst of things divine, 

As | of hu|man,: that | they may aljter'd be], 
And chang'd at pleasure for those imps of thine. 

F.Q. 4.V. 51. 

Gas|ta weardjas : tha | he hit gearje wis|te. Cad. 


Spenn | mid spong|am : wis|te him spra|ca fel|e. Cad, 

Keep your words to-morrow, 

And | do 8ome|thing : wor|thy your meat| ; go guide | 'em 
And see 'em fairly onward. FL Bonduca, 2. 3. 

Pipes, trompes, : nakers and clarionnes 

That | in the bat|aille : blow | en blod|y sown|es. 

Chau. Knightes Tale. 

11: 5. seems at one time to have been recognised, as a 
standard verse of ten syllables. It fell, however, into 
almost total disuse, during the reign of Elizabeth. 

Fa|um foljmnm : and him | on faethm [ gebraec|. Cad. 

Scipjpend ns|ser: that he | that scip | beleac|. Cad. 

Nymph | es fann|es: and Am|adry|ades|. 

Chau. Knightes Tale. 

Ad|am el|dest : was grow] and in | courage |, 

Forthward rycht fayr, auchtene yer of age, 

Large of persone $ bath wiss worthi and wicht 

Gude I king Rob|ert : in his | time mad | him knycht | 

Lang I tyme ef|tir ; in Brucjes werris | he haid | 

On Engliss men mone gud iorne maid. Wallace, 3. 45. 

Foil I gret slauch|ter : at pit|te was | to se|, 

Of J trew Scotjtis : oursett | withsut[elte|. Same, 1. 110. 

His rebell children three, 

Henry and Richard, who bet him on the breast 
Jeff|rey one|ly : from that | offence | was free|, 
Hen ry dy|ed : of Eng|lands crown | possest|, 
Rich ard liv|ed : his fa|ther to | molest), 
John J the yonng|est: pect still | his fa|therVeye|. 
Whose deedes unkind the sooner made him die. 

Ferrers. M.for M. Glocester, 14, 

For having rule and riches in our hand, 
Who durst gaynesay the thing that we averd ? 
Will I was wis|dom : our lust | for law | did stand). 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckingham, 37. 


Idolatrye from deepe devotion, 

Vul|gaire wor|shippe : from worldes | promo 1 1 ion |. 

Puttenham. Parth. 

Mar|riage, uncjle : alass | my days | are young), 

And fitter is my study and my bookes. 1 H6, 5. 1. 

There is one verse in the P. L. which at first sight would 
seem to fall within the present Jaw. 

Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate, 
And | corpor|eal : to in|corpor|eal turn|. 

But when we remember the licence which Milton al- 
lowed himself in the position of his pauses, and also that 
an emphasis falls on the first syllable of incorporeal, I think 
there can be little doubt but he read it as the verse 3:5.* 

And | corpo|real to in | : corpo|real turn|. 

\li 6. is exceedingly rare, and seems to have ended its 
career in the tumbhng verse. 

A band thai maid in preua illusion 

At | thair pow|er : to work | his confu|sion|. 

Wallace, 11.205. 


2 : 1 is met within the writers of the 15th century, and 
in our dramatists. 

Ten | winter full| : the | sio|tid | gelomp|. Alf. 

Learne what is virtue, therein is great solace. 
v Learne | what is truth | : sad |n ess and | prudence). 

Barclay. Schip ofFoles. 

Rich|e8se, honour,) : welth | and aun|cestry[, 
Hath me forsaken, and lo now here I ly. 

Sir T. More. Ru/ul Lamentation. 

Poi|son'd, ill fare) ! : dead| ! forsook) ! cast off)! 

Kg. John, 5, 5. 

Nay | if you melt| : then | will she | run mad). 1 HA, 3. 1. 

* See ch. 5. 


Break | open doors | ; nothing can | yon steal |, 

Bnt thieves do lose it. T. of Athens, 4. 3. 

No more the company of fresh fair maids, 

And wanton shepherds be to me delightful, 

Nor the shrill pleasing sound of merry pipes, 

Under some shady dell, when the cool wind 

Plays | on the leaves | : all | be far | awayj 

Since thou art far away. Fl. Faithful Shep. 1. 1. 

Help'd by the great pow'r of the virtuous moon 

In | her full light| : oh | you sons' * | of earth |, 

You only brood unto whose happy birth 

Virtue was given, &c. Fl, Faithf. Shep. 2. 1 . 

In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cade 

Oppose himself unto a troop of kernes — 

And in the end, being rescued, I have seen him 

Cajper upright] ; like | a wild | Moris ]co. 2H6,3. 1. 

2 : 2. has always been one of the standard verses in the 
metre of 5 accents. 

Oth|ers apart] : sat | on a hill | retir'd|. P. L. 2. 

Cur|teis he was| ; low|ly and ser|visa|ble. 

Chau. Knightes Tale. 

2 : 3. was never used by Dryden and his school, nor 
indeed were any of those verses, which included the section 
3. I cannot help thinking that good taste was shown in 
rejecting them, even though sanctioned by Spenser and by 

But the good knight, soon as he them can spy 

For | the cool shade| : thith|er hasjtily got|. F. Q. 1 . 2. 29. 

Fee|bly she shriek'dj ; but | so feejbly indeed), 

That Britomart heard not. F. Q. 474. 

Thou with thy lusty crew 

False titled sons of gods, roaming the earth 
Cast | wanton eyes| : on | the daughjters of men |. 

P. R. 2. 180. 

* That is, the plants which the speaker had just gathered. 


He who receives 

Light | from above) : from | the fountain of light |, 

No other doctrine needs. P. R. 4. 289. 

2:5. has been one of our standard verses of five ac- 
cents since the days of Chaucer. 

But rich he was of holy thought and werk ; 

He | was also) : a lern|ed man | a clerk | 

That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche. Chau. Prol. 

Some | to whom Heav'n| : in wit ] has been | profuse |. 
Want | as much more| ; to turn | it to | its use|. Pope. 

Crea|ture so fair) : his rec|oncile|ment seek|ing. P. L. 10. 


2 1:1. has been common in our poetry from the earliest 
period, and is still counted among the standard verses of 
5 accents. 

Met|od on monjnum : mer|e swith|e grap|. Cad. 

garjum aget|ed : gum|a nor|therna|. War Song. 

glad | ofer grun|das : god|es con | del beorhtj. Same. 

up|pe mid eng|lum : ecje stath|elas|. Ex. MS. 

rod|or aroer|de : and | this rumje land|. Cad. 

som|od on sand|e : nysjton sorjga wiht|. Cad. 

dael | ongedwil|de ; nol|don dreog|an leng|. Cad. 

stselg|ne gestig|an : sum | msegstiljed sweord|. 

Ex. MS. 

sing] an and sec|gan : tham | beth snyt|tru-craeft. 

Ex. MS. 

word | c wit he writ|an : sum|um wigjes sped|. Same. 

leoht | setter thys|trum : heht | tha lifjes weard|. Cad. 

flot|an and sceot|ta : thaer | geflaem|ed wearth|. War-song. 

A clerk ther was of Oxenforde also 

That | unto log|ike: had|de long |'ygo|. The Knightes Tale. 


Whence | and what art | thou : exjecrajble shape |. P. L. 2. 
wlit|e gewem|mcd : heo | on wrac|e sith|than. Cad. 

gum|-rinca gydjen : cuth|e galjdra fel|a. Alf 

beorjnas forbred|an : and | mid bal|o craf|tam. Alf 

Thra|cia cyn|ing : thaet | hi thon|an mos|te. Alf. 

wid|e eteow|de : tha | se wul|dor cynjing. Cad. 

One | that lusts af|ter : ev|'ry sev|eral beaujty. 

Fl. Faith. Sh. 1.2. 
And with malicious fury stir them up 
Some | way or oth|er : still far |ther to | afflict | thee. 

Samson Agonistes. 

21 : 2. ijs met with chiefly in the works of our dramatists. 
It is not found in the " heroic verse " as used by Dryden 
and Pope. 

God liketh not that men us Rabbi call 
Nei|ther in mar | kef : ne | in your larg|e hall|. 

Ch. Sompnoures Tale. 
Know|and the wor|schip : and | the gret no]bilnace| 
Of him quhilk sprang that tym in mony place. 

Wallace, 1 1. 268. 
Whiles | I in Ire|land : nourjish a migh|ty band|. 

2H6, 3. 1. 
Keep | his brain funding : Ep|icure|an cooks | 
Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite. A. and C. 2. 1. 

Write | them together : yours | is as fair | a name|. 

Jul. Cas. 1. 1. 

If aught proposed — 

Of difficulty or danger could deter 

Me | from attempting : where | fore do I | assume |. 

These royalties ? p. x,. 2. 

Ic | the maeg eathje : ealjdum and leas | urn spel|lum. Alf. 

j^i|fter to al|dre : thaes | we herin ne mag|on. Cad. 

Let | me not think | on't : frail|ty thy name | is womjan. 

Hamlet, 1.1. 


Where | is our unjcle ? : what | is the matjter, Sufjfolk ? 

2H6, 3.2. 
Give | me the map | there : know | that I have | divid|ed 
In three our kingdom. Lear, 1.1. 

21 \ 5. like all those verses which had a supernumerary 
syllable between the sections, was rejected by Dryden and 
his imitators. 

Lag|o mid lanjde : geseah | tha lif|es weardj. Cad. 

God|es forgymjdon: hie hyr|a gal | beswaecj. Cad. 

Draw | near to for | tune : and lajbour her | to please |, 
If that ye thynke yourselfe to wel at ease. 

Sir T. More. Boke of Fortune. 

Give | me the dag|gers : the sleep |ing and | the dead | 

Are but as pictures. Macbeth, 2. 2. 

In vain thou striv'st to cover shame with shame, 

Or I by evasions : thy crime | uncov|er'st more|. Samson. 

Har|pie8or hy^dras ; or all | the monjstrous forms | 

Twixt Africa and Ind. Comus. 

Fyr|ena frem|man ; ac hie | on frith |e lif|don. Cad. 

I hear a knocking 

At | the south en ] try : retire | we to J our cham|bers. 



5 : 1 . is very rare. The cause is evidently the sharp and 
abrupt division between the two sections. 

Thaem Cae|sere] : cyn|e ricju twa|. Alf. 

And he that is approv'd in this offence, 

Though he hath twinn'd with me, both at a birth, 

Shall lose | me. What ! : in | a town | of war|, 

To manage private and domestic quarrels ! Olhello, 2.3. 

Shapes of grief 

Which, look'd on as it is, is nought but shadows 

Of what | is not. | : Then, | most gra|cious queen | 

More than your lord's departure weep not. R 2, 2. 2. 

And weor|thodon| : swa | swa wul|dres cyn|ing. Alf, 

Thahe|an lyft| : tha|se e|gor her|e. Cad. 

VOL. i. Q 


Yea, look'st | thou pale| ? let | me see | the writjing. 

R 2, 5. 2. 
The King of heav'n forbid our lord the king 
Should so with civil and uncivil arms 
. Be rush'd | upon) ! : thy | thrice no|ble cons | in 
Harry Bolingbroke doth humbly kiss thy hand. R 2, 3. 3. 

5 : 2 has been common in our verse of ten syllables from 
the days of Chaucer. 

This Pal'amon| : when | he these word|es herd|, 
Dispitiously he loked and answer'd. Knightes Tale. 

And Phoebus, fresh as bridegroom to his mate, 

Came danjcing forth | : shaking his dew|y hair). F. Q. 1. 5. 2. 

False eloquence | ; like | the prismatjic glass | 

Its gaudy colours spreads on every place. Pope, 

Self displeas'd 

For self | offence) : more | than for God | offenjded. Samson. 

Some of our later critics, and among others Johnson, 
have recorded their objections to any verse which ends 
with the section 2. Pemberton, the friend and panegyrist 
of Glover, considers the measure of the verse 

And tow'rd | the gate] : roll |ing her bes|tiall train |. 

as faulty ; because the third foot is €€ a trochee. ,, He would 
correct it thus, 

And roljling tow'rd | thegate| : her bes|tiall train|. 

The alteration seems to me anything but an improve- 
ment. The uneven flow of Milton's line, is far better 
adapted to express a " rolling " motion, than the continuous 
rhythm of his presumptuous critic. 

5 : 3. was last patronized by Milton. Its revival is 
hardly to be wished for. 

Ah bestiall thar rycht cours till endur 

Weyle helpit ar be wyrkyn of natur, 

On fute and weynge ascendand to the hycht 

Con8er|wed weill| : be | the ma|kar of mychtj. Wallace, 3. 

The par | dale swift] : and | the ty|ger cruelly 

The antelope and wolf both' fierce and fell. F. Q. 1. 6. 26. 


His book enjoys not what itself doth say, 
For it shall never find one resting day, 
A thousand hands shall toss each page and line, 
Which shall be scanned by a thousand eyne, 
That sab| bath's rest| : or | the sab {bath's unrest | 
Hard is to say, whether's the happiest. 

Hall, upon the " Book of the Sabbath. 19 

Tis true I am that sp'rit unfortunate 

Who leag'd with millions more in sad revolt 

Kept not my happy station, but was driven 

With them | from bliss) : to | the bot| torn less pit|. 

P. L. 12. 

Eternal wrath 

Burnt af|ter them| : to | the bot|tomless pit . P. L. 6. 

In his own image he 

Crea|ted thee| : in | the im|age of God | 

Express. P. L. 7. 

There can, I think, be little doubt, that Milton saw in 
this rhythm a certain fitness for his subject. 'The reader 
is almost forced to dwell on the preposition which begins 
the second section ; otherwise he may miss the accent, and 
sink the line into a miserable verse with only four accented 
syllables. This resting place serves the purpose of an 
emphatic stop, and seems to have been intended to give 
force to the words which follow, " the bottomless pit," " the 
image of God." 

5 : 5. is one of the standard verses of 5 accents. 

Fro cneo|-maecum| : that hie | on camjpe oft|. 

War Song. 

And wek|e ben| : the ox|en in | my plow|, 
The remenant of my tale is long enow. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

And hor|rid woods | : and si|lence of | this place | 
And ye | sad hours | : that move | a suljlen pace). 

Fl. Fa. Sheph. 44. 

And pi|ous awe| : that fear'd | to have | offenjded. P. L. 5. 



This verse is occasionally found doubly lengthened, in 
the works of our dramatists. 

He most | not live j : to t rum | pet forth | my in|famy. 

Per. I 1. 

And hence we do conclude 

That what|80*er| : hath flexjure and | humid |ity. 

B t Jon. E. M. out of Ms H. Prol. 

5 : 6. seems rarely to have been used after the 15th 
century, even by our dramatists. 

Schyr Ran | aid had| : the Perjcey's protec|tioun | 

As for all part to bear remissioun. Wallace, 1. 333, 

Twa yeris thus with myrth Wallace abaid 

Still un|to Frans| : and mon|y gud jorjnay maid|. 

Wallace, 11. 144. 

How n|ery| : and for | ward ourped|ant is|. 

T. of the Shrew, 3. 1. 

51: 1. has always been among the standard verses of 
five accents ; 

A merchant was | ther : with | a forked berd|, 

In mottelee, and high on hors he sat, 

And on his head a Flaundrish bever hat. Chau. ProL 

What 8trong|er breast|-plate : than | a heart | untain|ted. 

2 H 6, 3. 2. 

With all his host 

Of reb|el an | gels : by | whose aid | aspirjing 

He trusted to have equall'd the Most High. P. L. 1. 

The following is an instance of the verse doubly length- 
ened ; 

If that my cousin King be King of England, 

It must | be gran | ted : I | am Duke | of Lan| caster. 

R 2, 2. 3. 
5 /. 2. fell into disuse after Milton's death ; 

And with that word he caught a great mirrour, 
And saw that cbaunged was all his colour ; 


And saw | his vis | age i all | in anoth|er kind|, 

And right anon it ran him in his mind. The Knightes Tale. 

Sound drums | and trumjpets : bold|ly and cheer|fully|. 

R 3j 5. 3* 

The guiltjless damjsel : fly|ing the mad | pursuit] 

Of her enraged step-dame. Comtts. 

My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not fear'd. 

But still rejoic'd ; how is it now become 

So dread | fal to | thee ? : That | thou art na|ked, who| 

Hath told thee ? P. L. 10. 

Besloh | syn sceath|an : sig|ore and | geweal|de. Cad. 

Let grief 

Convert | to angjer, blunt | not the heart | enrage | it. 

Macb. 4. 3. 

When flame | and fu]ry : make | but one face | of hor|ror. 

Fletck. Loy. Subj. 1. 3. 

Gentle to me and affable hath been 

Thy condescension : and | shall be hon|our'd ev|er 

With grateful memory. P. L. 8. 

5 / : 5. did not survive Milton ; 

— — Sterres that ben cleped in scriptures 
That on | Pueljla : that othjer Ru]beus|. 
This God of armes was araied thus — 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

The swerd flaw fra him : a furbreid on the land, 

Wal|las was glad | : and hynt | it sone | in hand|. Wallace. 

Then mayst | thou boldjly : defy | her turn|ing chauncej, 
She can thee neither hinder nor advance. 

Sir T More. Boke of Fortune. 

Now, broth | er Rich|ard, : Lord Has | tings, and | the rest). 

3 H 6, 4. 7. 

And to the ground her threw ; yet n old she stent 
Herbitt|er railjing : and foul | revil|ement|. F. Q. 2. 4. 12. 

Or searched the hopeful thicks of hedgy rows 
For bri|ery ber|ries : or haws | or sowrjer sloes|. 

Hall Sat. 3. K 


How are yon join'd with hell in triple knot, 

Against the unarm'd weakness of one virgin, 

Alone | and help|less ! : is this | the con|ndence| 

You gave me, brother ? Comus. 

Ah ! fro | ward Clar|ence : how ev|il it | beseems | thee 

To flatter Henry. 3 H 6, 4. 7. 

Farewell my eagle ! when thou flew'st whole armies 

Have stoop'd | below | thee : at pas {sage I | have seen | thee 

Ruffle the Tartars. FL Loyal Subj. 1. 3. 

Byron has given us one instance of the verse 5 Z: 5. but 
rather through negligence than of set purpose ; 

I see | before | me : the glad |ia| tor lie]. Childe H. 4. 

5 1:6. is very rare. It prevailed chiefly in the 15th 
century ; 

Schyr Ran | aid C raw | ford : beho|wide that tyme | be tharj, 
For he throw rycht was born schirref of Air. Wallace, 4. 5. 

Verses beginning with 5 11. are occasionally found in 
Chaucer, and are not unfrequent in our dramatists. Mas- 
singer particularly affected this double lengthening of the 
first section. 

511: 1. 

They teach their teachers with their depth of judgment, 

And are | with arguments : a ble to | convert 

The enemies of our Gods. Mass. Virg. Martyr, 1.1. 

When that the Knight had thus his tale told 

In all | the com|paynie : n'as | ther yong J ne old|, 

That he ne said it was a noble storie. 

Chau. The Milleres ProL 

It is the Prince of Wales that threatens thee, 
Who nev|er prom|iseth : but | he means | to pay|. 

1 H 4, 5. 4. 

To meet | Northum|berland : and | the Preljate Scroop]. 

Same, 5. 5. 

Verses beginning with the sections 6. and 61. were 
certainly used by Chaucer ; though, in the present condi- 


tion of his works, it is difficult to say to what extent. They 
were very common in the century, which succeeded his 
death, but in the 16th century fell rapidly into disfavour. 
They are found but rarely even in the plays of our dra- 
matists, though I suspect that Shakespeare's editors have 
silently corrected the rhythm of many verses, which, as 
Shakespeare wrote them, contained the obnoxious section # 
The rare occurrence of these verses in Anglo-Saxon is 
matter of some surprise. 

6: 1. 
Me lif |es onlah] : se | this leoht | onwrah|, Rhiming Poem. 

6: 2. 
And as | he was wont| : whis|tered in | mine eare|. 

M./or M. Kg. James 1. 

Was not Richard of whom 1 spake before 

A rebell playne untill his father dyed, 

And John likewise an en 'my evermore 

To Richjarde againe| : and | for a rebjell tried | } 

Ferrers. M./or M. Gloucester, 8. 

Off cornekle qhuat suld I tarry long, 
To Wal|lace agayne| : now brief jly will | I gang). Wallace. 

Yet are mo fooles of this abusion, 
Whiche of wise men despiseth the doctrine, 
With mowes, mockes, scorne and collusion, 
Reward | ing rebukes | : for their | good dis|cipline|. 

Barclay. Schip of Foles. 

On Hol|yrood day) : the gal|lant Hot|spur there|, 

Young Harry Percy and brave Archibald 

At Holmedon met 

Lord Marshall command| : our officers | at arms|,* 

Be ready to direct these home alarmes. R 2, 1.1. 

6 : 6. is only found in very loose metre, like that of the 
tumbling verse ; 

* Fol* Ed. 1623. In the modern Editions the word Lord is omitted. 


Hereaf|ter by me| : my successors may | beware|. 

M.for M. Kg. James 6. 

Preserve | the red rose| : and be | his protec|tion|. Same. 

Verses beginning with the section 6 I. are occasionally 
met with, but rarely after the middle of the 16th century. 


— I wonder this time of the yere 
Whennes that swete savour cometh so, 
Of rosjes and liljies : that | I smel|le here). 

Chau. The second Nonnes Tale. 

O heartless fooles haste here to onr doctrine, 
For here | shall I she we | you : good | and veri|tie|, 
Encline | and ye find | shall : great | prosper |i tie |, 
Ensu|ing the docjtrine : of | our fa|thers olde|, 
And godly lawes in valour worth much gold. 

Barclay. Schip o/Foles. 

His soldiers spying his undaunted courage, 

A Tal|bot, a Tal|bot : cri.ed out | amain|. 1 H 6, I. 1. 


It also proved full often is certayne, 

That they | that on moc|kers : al|way their minjdes castj, 

Shall of all other be mocked at the last. 

Barclay. Schip of Foles. 

61: 5. 

Take ye example by Cham the son of Noy, 
Which laugh | ed his fa|ther : unjto deris|ion|, 
Which him | after cur|sed : for his | transgres|sion|. 

Barclay. Schip of Foles. 

Verses beginning with the sections 9:9/. are sometimes, 
though rarely, met with in our dramatists. 


We may boldjly spend] : upon | the hope | of what) 

Is to come in. H 4, 3. 1. 

■ The people of Rome, for whom we stand, 

A special party have by common voice, 


In election for| : the Rojman Em|pery|, 
> Chosen Andronicns. Tit. And. 1.1. 

In a char|iot of | : ines|tim|able val|ue. Pericles, 2. 4. 


Tell him, if he will, 

He shall ha* | the gro| grans : at | the rate | I told | him. 

B. Jons. E. M. in his Humour, 2. 1. 

10 : 5. is a regular verse of the triple measure. 

234 B . ii. 


We have now to consider those verses of five accents, 
which have three accented syllables in the first section ; 
and shall begin with observing upon certain peculiarities 
of their rhythm; more especially such as distinguish 
them from the class of verses, we have just passed under 

There was, at one time, much vague and unprofitable 

speculation as to the beat position of the middle pause 

an indeterminate problem, which admits of several an- 
swers. Gascoigne thought the pause would be "best 
placed'' after the fourth syllable ; King James preferred 
the sixth. The latter objects specially to the fifth, be- 
cause it is " odde, and everie odde fute is short." John- 
son's objection to the middle pause, when it follows an 
unaccented syllable, has been already noticed ; he would 
tolerate it when the sense was merely suspended, but not 
when it closed a period. 

There are certainly many sentences, which ought to 
end with a full and strongly marked rhythm; and, as 
certainly, others in which a feeble ending, so far from a 
defect, may be a beauty. I consider it a beauty in the 
very verse which Johnson has quoted to prove it the con- 
trary ; 

He with his horrid crew 

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulph 
Confounded though immortal. But his doom 
Reserved him to more wrath, &c. 

When we are told, that such " a period leaves the ear 
unsatisfied," we must remember, that Johnson's ear was 
educated to admire the precise, but cold and monotonous 


rhythm of Pope. As to its leaving the reader " in ex- 
pectation of the remaining part of the verse/' I cannot see 
in what consists the objection. 

There are also sentences, which ought to end slowly 
and with dignity ; but there are others, which may with 
equal propriety end abruptly. 

Whether the pause, then, be best placed after the sec- 
tion of two, or of three accents; whether after an ac- 
cented or an unaccented syllable; must depend entirely 
on the circumstances of each case. It may be granted, 
that the "noblest and most majectic pauses " are those 
which follow the fourth and sixth syllables, and more 
especially the sixth ; and though the latter ought not to 
be preferred, because it makes " a full and solemn close," 
yet it deserves our preference, whenever such a close is 
necessary. There is certainly something imposing in that 
" complete compass of sound," to which Johnson listened 
with so much pleasure, when the pause followed the sixth 
syllable. Those who are familiar with his favourite 
rhythms, will readily understand " the strong emotions 
of delight and admiration" with which he professes to 
have read the following passages ; 

Before the hills appear 'd or fountains flow'd, 
Thou with th' eternal wisdom didst converse, 
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play 
In presence of th' almighty Father, pleas'd 
With thy celestial song. 

Or other worlds they seem'd, or happy isles, 
Like those Hesperian gardens, fam'd of old, 
Fortunate fields and groves, and flow'ry vales, 
Thrice happy isles ! But who dwelt happy there 
He staid not to inquire. 

He blew 

His trumpet, heard in Oreb since, perhaps 
When God descended $ and perhaps once more 
To sound at gen'ral doom. 

From the importance which Milton attached to €i apt 
numbers," it is clear that the poet and his critic differed 


no less in theory than in practice. The former moved 
with majesty, whenever his subject required it ; the latter 
loved the pomp of words for its own sake. The one 
wished to suit his rhythm to his matter ; the other too 
often swelled out a thought, which could ill bear it, in 
order to fill a rolling and a stately period. 

We have seen that several of our modern critics, and 
among them Johnson, objected to any verse, whose 
second section began abruptly. As the objection is sup- 
ported by examples, which belong to the class of verses 
we are now considering, a few observations upon it will 
not, I think, be altogether out of place. It is said, that 
the injury to the measure is remarkably striking, when 
the " vicious verse" concludes a period. 

This delicious place 

For us too large $ where thy abundance wants 
Partakers, and uncropt : falls | to the ground |. 

His harmless life 

Does with substantial blessedness abound, 

And the soft wings of peace: cov|er him round], 

In the first of these verses, I can only see those " apt 
numbers/' which Milton affected beyond any other poet, 
that has written our language. But Cowley is indefensi- 
ble. Instead of accommodating the flow of his verse to 
the subject, he has expressed his beautiful thought in the 
most jerking line his measure would allow. Giving all 
his attention to the smoothness of his syllables, he seems 
to have forgotten his rhythm. 

The whole, however, of Johnson's criticism is founded 
on false premises. When he denounced the verses last 
quoted, as gross violations of " the law of metre/' he had 
set out with assuming, that the repetition of the accent 
" at equal times," was " the most complete harmony of 
which a single verse is capable." Our mixed rhythms 
were merely introduced for the purposes of variety ; to 
relieve us from the weariness induced by " the perpe- 


tual recurrence of the same cadence," and to make us 
" more sensible of the harmony of the pure measure." 
This notion is not of modern date ; for so early as the 
sixteenth century, Webbe had laid it down, that " the 
natural course" of English verse ran "upon the Iambicke 
stroke;" and that "by all likelihood it had the origin 
thereof." He might have been taught sounder doctrine 
by his contemporary Gascoigne. This critic laments that 
they were fallen into such u a plain and simple manner 
of writing, that there is none other foote used but one," 
and that such " sound or scanning continueth through 
the whole verse." He admires " the libertie in feete 
and measures" used by their Father Chaucer; and tells 
his reader, that " whosoever do peruse and well consider 
his works, he shall find, although his lines are not alwayes 
of one self-same number of syllables, yet being read by 
one who hath understanding, the longest verse, and that 
which hath most syllables in it, will fall to the eare cor- 
respondent to that which hath fewest syllables in it; 
and likewise that which hath in it fewest syllables, shall 
be founde yet to consist of wordes, that have such natu- 
ral! sounde, as may seeme equal in length to a verse, 
which hath majiy moe syllables of lighter accents." 

There can be no doubt, that our heroic metre was from 
the first a mixed one; and though, owing to various 
causes — chiefly to the prevalence of false accentuation — 
it has approached nearer and nearer to the common 
measure, yet to narrow its limits, beyond what is neces- 
sary for the security of the accent, is to impair its beauty 
no less than its efficiency. 

Our verses of five accents begin much more commonly 
with sections 1 . and 1 I. when the pause follows the third 
accent, than when it follows the second. The greater 
length of the section, and the more continuous flow of 
the rhythm, is doubtless the cause. 


1 : 1 /. is met with in Anglo-Saxon, but in English verse 
hardly ever. 

Se | the wae|trum weoldj : wreah J and theahjte. Cad. 

Tha | waes soth | swa eer| : sibb | on heof|nmn. Cad. 

sithjthan wid|e rad| : wolc|num nn|der. Cad. 

swang | that fyr | on twa| : feond|es craef|te. Cad. 

niht|a oth|er 8 wile | : nith | waes reth|e. Cad. 

1 : 2. is also rare. 

Hu|bert keep | this boy| : PhHjip make up|, 

My mother is assailed in her tent, 

And ta'en I fear. Kg. John, 3. 2. 

Wul|der-faes|ran wic| : werjodes thrym|me. Cad. 

8yn|nihte | be scald | : sus|le gein|nod. Cad. 

o|fer sealtjne sa?| : snndjwudu drif|an. Ex. MS. 

0|ferhyd|ig cyn| : engjla of heof|num. Cad. 

1:5. is not unfrequently used by the writers of the 
fifteenth century, and by our older dramatists. 

On | his lif|dagum| : gelic|ost waes| A If. 

On | thaem eg|londe| : the au|lixes|. Alf. 

Zeph|irus | began | : his mor|ow courss| ; 

The swete vapour thus fra the ground resourss. 

Wallace, 6. 8. 74. 

Serve | her day | and night] : as rev|erently| 
Upon thy knees as any servaunt may, 
And, in conclusion, that thou shalt win thereby, 
Shall not be worth thy service I dare say. 

Sir T. More. Boke of Fortune. 

Sound trumpets and set forwards combatants. 
Stay] ! the king | hath thrown] : his war|der down). 

22 2, 1.3. 
First that he lie upon the truckle bed, 
Whiles his young master lieth o'er his head, 
Secjond that | he do| : on no | default |, 
Ever presume to sit above the salt. Hall. Sat. 2. 6. 


Wharton reads the line thus, 
Second that he do, upon no default. 

I have nothing but a modern reprint at hand to refer 
to ; but have little doubt that Wharton has been tam- 
pering with his text. His motive for doing so is an 
obvious one. By changing the preposition he gets at 
once the orthodox number of syllables ; though the ac- 
cents still remain inflexible. 

Or | thon eng|la weard| : for of|erhyg|de. Cad. 

Gif|um grow|ende| : on god|es ric|e. Cad. 

Lif|es leoht | fruma| : on lidjes bos | me. Cad. 

On | tha hatjan hell| : thurh hyg|eleas|te. Cad. 

Hit | gesaeljde gio| : on sum|e tid|e. Alf. 

" I sometime lay here in Corioli, 
At | a poor | man's house) : he us'd | me kind|ly. 

Cor. I. 9, 

Let's to the sea-side, ho ! 

As well to see the vessel that's come in, 

As | throw out | our eyes] : for brave | Othel|lo. Oth. 2. 1. 

Examples that may nourish 

Neglect and disobedience in whole bodies — 

Must not be play'd withal $ nor out of pity 

Make | a gen|eral| : forget [ his du|ty. Fl. Bonduca, 4. 3. 

O | how come|ly' it is| : and how ] reviving. Samson. 

This lengthened verse forms the great staple of Cam- 
pion's "Trochaic measure/ * The following "epigram" 
will serve as a specimen. 

Cease | fond wretch [ to love| : so oft | delud|ed, 
Still | made ritch | with hopes | : still un|reliev|ed, 

* deferred 

Now | fly her | delaies| : she, that 

Feels | not true | desire | : he that 

Oth|ers time | attends | : his owne | betray |eth. 

Learn | t* affect | thyself] : thy cheekes | deform |ed 

With pale care, revive with timely pleasure $ 

* This is false accentuation, but was certainly intended by the author. 


Or with scarlet heate them, or by painting 
Make thee lovely, for such arte she useth, 
Whom | iu vayne | so long| : thy foljly lov|ed. 

1 /: 1. was used by Chaucer and his school, and also 
by our dramatists. The lengthened verse was common in 
Anglo-Saxon ; 

How longe Juno thurgh thy crueltee, 
Wilt | thou warjrein Theb|es : the | citeej. 

Chau. The Knightes Tale. 

Hath not two beares in their fury and rage, 
Two | and forjtie children : rent | and torn|, 
For they the prophete Heliseus did scorne ? 

Barclay. Schip of Foles. 

Al|exan|der l|den : that's | my name|. 2 H 6, 5. 1. 

And thus do we of wisdom and of reach, 

By indirections find directions out, 

So | by for | me r lec|ture : and | ad vice |, 

Shall you, my son. Hamlet, 2. 1 . 

Twelve | years since, | Mi ran | da : twelve | years since], 
Thy father was the Duke of Milan. Temp. 1. 2. 

Some late editors tell us to make the first years a dis- 
syllable ; 

Twelve ye|ars since, | Miranjda : twelve | years since| 

Thus | much for | your an|swer : for | yourselves |, 
Ye have lived the shame of women, die the better. 

Fletch. Valentinian, I. 2. 

Out ! 

Out | ye 8luts|, ye foljlies : from | our swords |, 

Filch our revenges basely ? Fletcher. Bonduca, 3. 5. 

Fletcher's editor, in 1778* adds a third out, which he 
has "no doubt was dropt by the compositor or trans, 
criber ; " 

Out ! 

Out, out | ye sluts | ye fol|lies, &c. 

While | their hearts | were jojcund : and | sublime), 

Drunk with idolatry, &c. Samson. 


How reviving 

To | the sp'rits | of just | men : long | oppress 'd I . 


flu|gon for|tigen|de : foer | onget|on. Cad. 

hyhtjlic heof |on tim|ber : hoi | mas dael|de. Cad. 

And | thurh of |ermet|to : eal|ra swithjost. Cad. 

And | be eac | swa samje : eal|le moeg|ne. Alf. 

Wul|dor sped | urn wel|ig : wid|e stodjan. Cad. 

Ac | hi for | thaem yrnVtlram r eard|es lys te. Alf. 

On | gesacjum swith|e : sel|fes mihjtum. Cced. 

heo|ra cyn|e cyn|nes : cuth | is wid|e. Alf. 

Of|er heof | on stol|as : heag|um thryin|mum. Cced. 

Wol|don her|e bleath|e : ham | as fin | dan. Cced. 

Ojfer la |go flod|e : leoht | with thys|trum. Cced. 

that | he God|e wol|de : geong|erdom|e. Cced. 

that | he God|e wol|de : geongjra weorth|an. Cced. 

Cwaed|on that | heo ric|e : reth|e mod|e. Cced. 

Oth|thaet him | gelyf |de : leod|a un|rim. Alf 

Oth|theet him | ne meahjte : mon|na ee|nig. Alf. 

sit | tan let|e ic hin|e : with | me sylf |ne. Cad. 

Is | this the | Lord Taljbot : uncjle Glos|ter } \H 6, 3. 4. 

He 8 hall not this day perish, if his passions 
May | be fed | with mujsic : are | they readjy? 

Fletch. Mad Lover, 4. 1. 

11:2. is common in Anglo-Saxon, but very rare in 
English ; 

un|der eorth|an neoth|an : sel|mihtig God|. Cced. 

thon|ne cymth | on uh|tan : aes[terne wind|. Cced* 

wees | thaes Job|es fae|der : God | eac swa he|. Alf. 
See | him pluck | Annd|ius : down | by the hairj. Cor. 1.3. 

heo w | on heath|olin|de : ham era lafjum. War Song. 
VOL. i. R 


Sithjthan her|ewos|an : heofjon orgaefjon. Cad. 

Of | them raod|e cumjath : mon|na gehwil|cum. Alf 

That | he to | his ear|de : aen|ige nys|te. Alf. 

Ac | he mid them wif|e : wun|ode sith|than. Alf. 

A large proportion of Alfred's verses have the alliterative 
syllables thrown back to the very end of the section. 
The same peculiarity is sometimes met with in the works 
of Ceedmon and other Anglo-Saxon poets. This appears 
to me fatal to Rask's theory. If all the syllables, which 
occur before the alliterative syllable, form merely " a compli- 
ment," and take no accent, we shall have some hundreds of 
sections with only one accented syllable ; a result which, 
according to Rask himself, is opposed to the very first 
principles of Anglo-Saxon verse. 

1 /: 5. was at no period common ; 

aelc|ne sefjter othjrum : for ecjne God|. Alf. 

What | an al|tera|tion : of honjour has| 

Desperate want made ! T. of Athens. 

Bat I am troubled here with them myself, 
The rebels have assay'd to win the Tow'r — 
Bat | get you | to Smith | field : and gathjer head). 

2 H 6, 4. 5. 

Thees | the heo | ongun|non : with Godje win | nan. Cad. 

The verse 2 : 1. is sometimes found lengthened in Anglo- 
Saxon, but is very rarely met with in English ; 

Thon|ne se hal[ga God| : habjban mih|te. Cad. 

Wel|come, ye war|like Goths, : wel|come Lujcius. 

Tit. And. 5. 3. 

2 : 2. is one of the standard verses of five accents, 
but was little favoured by Dryden and his school. Seldom 
as they use it, it is much more rarely that they use it 
happily. Its properties have been discussed at length 
in the opening of this chapter. 


For the love of God, that for us alle died, 

And as I may deserve, it unto you, 

What,} shall this rejceit cost*| ? : teljleth me now|. 

Chau. Chanones Yemannes Tale. 

This mighty man, quoth he, whom you have slain, 

Of | an huge gi|ante83| : whiljoin was bred|. F. Q. 4. 8. 47. 

And | for Mark An|thony| : think | not on him|. 

Jul. Cas- 2. 1. 

There to converse with everlasting groans — 

Ag|es of hope | less end| : this | would be worse [• P. L.2. 

He unobserved 

Home | to his mothjer's house | : priv|ate return'd|. P. R. 4. 

Is | the great charm | that draws | : all | to agree]. 

Pope. Essay. 

Brut | us is nojble, wise] : val|iant and hon]est, 
Caesar was migh|ty, bold] : royjal and lov|ing. 

Jul. Cas. 3. I. 

Where | may she waujder now] : whith|er betake | her ? 


2:5. was well known in Anglo-Saxon, and has always 
been among the standard verses of five accents. 

Laed|de ofer lag|u stream | : sat lan|ge thser]. Alf. 

He | tha gefer|ede| : thurh feon|des cr«ft|. Cad. 

A Frankelein was in this compaynie, 

White was. his berd ne as the dayesie, 

Of | his complexion | : he was | sanguin|, 

Wei loved he by the morwe a sop in win. Chau. Prol. 

And | the world's vic|tor stood] : subdued | by sound|. 


werjige wun|edon) : and we|an cuth|on. . Cad. 

hear | ran to hab|bane| : ic maeg | mid hanjdum. Cad. , 

Short was his goun, with sieves long and wide, 
Wei I coude he sitjte on hors| : and fairje rid[e. 

Chau. Prol. 

* Query, coste ? 
R 2 


One | that doth wear | himself) : away | in lonejness, 

Fl. Faith. Shep. 1. 2. 

Till | an unu|sual stop| : of sud|den si|lence. Comus. 

2:6. is found in the alliterative metre ; 

Lewjyd men lik|ed wel| : and lev|ed his spech|e. 

P. Ploughman* 

21: 1. is one of the standard verses of five accents. 

Whil|om as ol|de storjies : teljlen us|, 
Ther was a duk, that highte Theseus. 

Chan. Knightes Tale. 

Then | shall man's pride | and dul|ness : com|prehend| 
His action's, passion's, being's, use and end. Popes Essay. 

For | thaem he waes | mid rih|te : ric|es hyrjde. Alf. 

Give | not yourself | to lone|ness : and | those grac|es 
Hide from the eyes of men. Fl. Faith. Sheph. 1 . 2. 

21:2. seems to have been last patronised by Milton. 
Stath|olas eft | geset|te : swegl|-torhtan seld|. CW. 

We *re fellows still 

Serv|ing alike | in sor|row : leak'd | is our bark|, 

And we poor mates stand on the dying deck 

Hearing the surges threat. T* of A. 

I | shall remem|ber trujly : trust | me I shall). 

Fl. Lot/. Subj. 1. 1. 

But 1 for that damn'd ] magic |ian : let | him be girt| 

With all the grisly legions. Comus. 

Nyl|ehe aeng|um anjum: eal|le gefyl|lan. Ex. MSS. 

21:5. fell into disuse at the same time as the verse 
last mentioned. 

Bet | as your Gods | will have | it : it on|ly stands) 

Our lives upon to use our strongest hands. A. and C. 2. 1. 

Betjter at home | lie bed | -rid : not on|ly i|dle, Samson. 



Come, | for the third, | Laer|tes : you do | bat dal ly. 

Hamlet, 5. 2. 

Let other men 

Set up their bloods for sale, mine shall be ever 
Fair | as the soul | it car|ries : and un| chaste nevjer. 

Fl. Fa. Shep. 1. 2. 

21: 61. was not uncommon in our early English 

deer | thu bist fest | bedyt|e : and daeth | hefth tha caeg|e. 


Covjeyten nawt | to con|tre : to car|ien about |e. 

P. Ploughman. 

2 11: 1. may be found in some of our dramatists. 

Nor caves nor secret vaults, 

No nor the pow'r they serve, could keep these Christians 
Or | from my reach | or pun|ishment: but | thy magjic 
Still laid them open. Massinger, Virg. Martyr, 1.1. 

The verses beginning with the sections 3. and 3 /. de- 
serve attention, as being in the number of those which 
strikingly characterize the rhythm of Milton. To a mo- 
dern ear the flow of these verses is far from pleasing, nor 
can I readily see what was their recommendation to one, 
whose ear was so delicately sensitive. Whatever might 
be the motive, he certainly employed them more pro- 
fusely than any of his contemporaries. 

3: I. 

Tha | was waestjmum aweaht| : world | onsprehtj. 

Rhiming Poem. 


How | if when | I am laid| : in|to the tomb| 

I wake before the time ) R. and /. 4. 3. 

The mighty regencies 

Of seraphim and potentates and powers, 


In | their trip|le degrees) : re|gions to which | 

All thy dominion, Adam, is no more 

Than what this garden is to all the earth. P. L. 5. 

■ Both ascend 
In | the vis | ions of God| : It | was a hill) 
Of Paradise the highest P. L 11. 

Ir|recov|'rably blind | : to|tal eclipse). Samson. 

Fel|low, come | from the throng,) : look | upon Cae|sar. 

Jul. Cos 1. 2. 

3 : 5. and 3:5/. 

This god squier with Wallace bound to ryd, 
And Edward Litill his sister sone so der, 
Full | weill graith|it in till| : thar ar|mour clerj. 

Wallace, 3. 57. 

Or he decess, 

Man|y thou | sand in field) : shall make | thar end|. 

Wallace, 2. 348. 

Heg|eit of | an huge hicht) : with hawjthorne treejis. 


And eke wild roaring bulls he would him make 

To tame, and ride their backs, not made to bear, 

And | the roe|bucks in flight) : to o(vertake). F. Q. 1 . 6. 2.4. 

Who | then dares | to be half) : so kind | again) ? 
* For bounty that makes Gods, does still mar men. 

T. of A. 4. 2. 

Lead | me to | the revolts) : of £ng|land here). 

Kg. John x b.4. 

Dominion hold 

0|ver fish | of the sea| : and fowl | of th' air). P. L. 7. 533. 

And for the testimony of truth, hast borne 
U|niver|sal reproach| : far worse | to bear| 
Than violence. P. L. 6. 33. 

I come thy guide 

To | the gar|den of bliss) : thy seat | prepar'd). 

P. L. 8.299. 


Hoarse echo murmur'd to his words applause, 

Through | the infinite host| : nor less | for that| 

The flaming seraph fearless P. L 5. 872. 

From their blissful bow'rs 

Of amarantine shade, fountain or spring, 

By | the wa|ters of life | : wher'eer | they sat|, 

In fellowship of joy, the sons of light 

Hasted. P.L.ll. 78. 

True image of the Father, whether thron'd 

In | the bos|om of bliss| : and light | of light| 

Conceiving, or remote from Heav'n- P. R- 4. 595. 

U|niver|sally crown'd| : with highjest praisjes. 

Samson Agon. 

Milton used just as freely the verses that begin with the 
lengthened section. 

SI: 1. 

This | Valer|ian corrected : as | God wold|, 

Answer'd again. Chau. 2nd Nonnes Tale. 

Then to the desert takes with these his flight, 

Where still from shade to shade the son of God 

Afjter for|ty days' fasjting : had | remain'd|. P. R. 2. 240. 

Victory and triumph to the son of God, 

Now entr'ing his great duel, not of arms 

But I to vanlquish by wisldom : heljlish wiles|. 

1 ,n P. R. 1. 176. 

. Is this the man 

That | invin|cible Sam|son : far | renown d|, 

The dread of Israel's foes— Samson Agon. 

Can this be he, 

That heroic that renown d 
Ir|resis|tible Samjson : whom | unarm|ed| 
No strength of man or fiercest wild beast could withstand > 

Samson Agon. 

And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow, 

From the red gash full heavy one by one, 

Like | the first | of a thun|der :-show'r|, and now| 

The arena swims before him. Childe Harold. • C. 4. 


3/: 2. 

With gentle penetration, though unseen, 

Shoots | invisible virjtue : e'en | to the deep). P. L. 3. 

There are very few verses that begin with the section 
4. Not only is its length unwieldy, but the very marked 
character of its rhythm prevents it from uniting readily 
with other sections. It is sometimes found in our old 
English alliterative poems ; 


Lov|ely lay | it along] : in his lone|ly den|ne. 

William and the Werwolf. 
All 2. 

Frajgrant all nil | of fresche o|dours : fyn|est of smelle'. 

5:1. has always been rare. 

This yellow slave — 

Will knit and break religions — place thieves 
And give them title, knee, and approbation 
With 8en|'tors on ) the bench | : this ] Is 
Which makes the wappened widow wed again. 

T. of A. 4. 3. 

Whether to knock against the gates of Rome, 

Or rudely visit them in parts remote, 

To fright | them ere | destroy. | : Bat | come in|, 

Let me commend thee first to those, that may 

Say yea to thy desires. Cor. 4. 5. 

— ■ Love is not love, 

When it is mingled with respects, that stand 

Aloof | from th' en | tire point | : will | you have | her? 

Lear, 1. I. 

I defy thee, 

Thou mock | -made man | of straw | : charge | home, sir | rah. 

Fl. Bonduca, 4. 2. 

5 : 2. is one of the standard verses of five accents. 

A sher|eve had|de he been| : and | a contour], 

Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour. Chau. Prol. 


Instruct | rae, for | thou know'st,] : thou | from the nrst| 
Wast present. P. L. 1. 

We can | not blame | indeed | : but | we may sleep). 

Pope. Essay on Criticism. 

One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge called, 
Forbid | den them | to taste | : know | ledge forbid | den ! 

P. L. 4. 

At Sessions ther was he lord and sire 

Ful of | ten times | he was) : knight | of the shire]. 

Chau. ProL 

5:5. is also one of the standard verses of five accents. 

And though he holy were and vertuous, 

He was | to siujful men| : not disjpitonsj. Chau. ProL 

Learn hence | for an|cient rules] : a just | esteem]. 

Popes Ess. on Crit. 

He dies | and makes | no sign] : O God | forgive | him. 

The fel]lows of | his crime] : the fol|lovv'rs rath|er. P. L. 1. 

The following is an instance of the yerse 5 : 5 //. 

Will you permit that I shall stand condemn'd 

A wan | d'ring vagabond | : my rights | and royalties, 

Plucked from my arms perforce r R. 2, 2. 3. 

5 : 6. was seldom used after the fifteenth century. 

The faithful love that dyd us both combyne, 

In manage and peasable concorde, 

Into your handes here I cleane resigne 

To be | bestowed | upon] : your children and mine]. 

Sir T. More. Ruful Lament. 

And was | a big | bold barn] : and bremje of his ag|e. 

William and the Werwolf. 

And whan | it was | out went| : so wel | hit him likjed. 



5 : 10. is very rare. 

Kath'rine the curst, 

A tijtle for | a maidj : of all ti|tles the worst). 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 1. 2. 

5 / : 1. is one of the standard verses of five accents. 

Befelle that in that season, on a day 

In South|wark at | the Tab|ard: as | I lay|— Ch. Prol. 

These leave the sense, their learning to display, 
And those | explain | the mean | in g : quite | away|. 

Pope* 8 Ess. on Criticism. 

From every shires ende 

Of Englelond to Canterbury they wende 

The ho|ly blisjful mar|tyr : for | to sek|e. Chau. Prol. 

His greedy wish to find, 

His wish | and best | advantage : us ) asun[der. P. L. 9. 

5 / : 2. and 5 1 : 5. were seldom used after the time of 

You have gone on and filTd the time 

With most | licen|tious meas|ure : makjing your will] 

The scope of Justice. T.qf A. 5.4. 

I heard | thee in | the gar|den : and | of thy voice | 

Afraid, being naked hid myself — P. It. 10. 

Obey | and be | attentive : canst | thou rememjber 

A time before we came into this cell ? Temp. 1. 2. 

5/: 5. 

Thou and I 

Have for|ty miles | to ride | yet : ere din | tier time). 

I Hen. 4, 3. 3. 
For in | those days | might on|ly : shall be | admir'd|. 

P.L. 10. 

And from thy work 

Now res(ting bless'd | and hal|low'd: the sev|enth day|. 

P. L. 7. 

The morn|ing comes | upon | us: we'll leave | you, Bru|tus. 

Jul. Cats. 2. 1. 



To loathe | the taste | of sweet] ness : whereof | a litjtle. 
More than a little, is by much too much. Hen. 4, 5. 2. 

5 1 : 61: is met with in the old English alliterative 

For sonje thu | bist lad | lie : and lad | to iseon|ne. 

Death Song. 

' In ab|yte* as | an herfmlte : unho|ly of werk|es.' 

P. Ploughman. 

I slom|bred on | a slep|yng : it swy|ed so mer|y. 

P. Ploughman. 

Verses that begin with the section 5 11. are met with, 
not only in the tumbling verse, but occasionally also 
in our dramatists. They give a loose and slovenly cha- 
racter to the rhythrn, and were very properly rejected by 
Spenser, and by Milton. 


Who wears | my stripes | impressed | on him : who | must bear | 
My beating to the grave. Cor. 5. 5. 


It may | be I | will go | with you : but yet | I '11 pause |. 

Rk.'2, 2. 3. 

A sovereign shame | so eljbows him : his own | unkind] ness. 

Lear, 4. 4, 

Verses beginning with the sections 6. 61. 611. were 
rarely used even by our dramatists. Byron, whose neg- 
ligent versification has never yet been properly censured, 
has given us one or two examples of the verse 6:2. To 
slip a verse of this kind into a modern poem, is little 
better than laying a trap for the reader. 

* This is clearly a mistake for habyte, which gives us the proper alli- 


6 : 2. 

I have so much endur'd, so much endure, 

Look on ] me, the grave | hath not| : changjed thee inorje 

Than I am chang'd for thee. Manfred. 

6 : 5. 

And there | by the grace | of God| : he was | prostrate |. 

M . for M. Flodden Fielde, 8. 

He conquered all the reyne of feminie, 

That whilom was ycleped Scythia, 

And wed|ded the freshje quene| : Ippol|ita|. 

The Knightes Tale. 

The sen | ate hath sent | about| : three sev|eral quests | 

To search you out. Othello, 1. 2. 


And man|y a dead|ly stroke | : on him | there did light | 

M . for M. Flodd. Fielde, 8. 


Qui loq|uitur tur|piloq|uium : is Lu|cifer's hin|e. 

P. Ploughman. 

Verses beginning with the sections 7- and 7 '• are very 
rarely met with, except in the old English alliterative 

7 :6. 

With that | in haist | to the hege| : so hard | I inthrangj. 


Quhairon j ane bird | on a branch | : so birst | out her not | is. 



To hav|e a li| cense and leavje : at Lonjdon to dwel|le. 

Piers Ploughman. 

Upon | the midjsummer ev|en : mer|riest of nich|tis. 




The hel|ewag|as beoth lag|e : sid-wag|as unheg|e. 

Death Song. 

Verses beginning with the section 8. are no less rare 
than those which begin with section 4. They must of 
necessity approach close on the confines of the triple 
measure ; but verses belonging to that measure would, in 
most cases, be of a most unwieldy length, if they con- 
tained five accents. They are, however, occasionally 
found in the alliterative metre, and there are some very 
curious specimens in the Anglo-Saxon poem, called The 

8 1 : ill. 

Mid Wen|lum ic waes | and mid Waer|num : and | mid Wic|ingum. 

Song of the Traveller. 

Nud Seax|um ic waes | and mid Sycjgum : and | mid Swaerdj- 
werum. Song of the Trav 

Mid Fronc|um ic waes | and mid Frysjum : and mid Frum|- 
tingum. Song of the Trav. 

Mid £ng|lum ic waes | and mid Swaef|um : and | mid On|enum. 

Song of the Trav. 

Mid Rug | am ic waes | and mid G lorn | mum : and | mid Rum|- 
walum. Song of the Trav. 

Mid Creac|um ic waes | and mid Fin|num : and | mid Caes|ere. 

Song of the Trav. 

811: I U. 

Mid Gefjtham ic waes | and mid Win|edum : and | mid Gef|- 
legum. Song of the Trav. 

8 //,: 6. 

Of falsjnesse of fas | ting of lesjinges : of vow|es ybrokej. 

P. Ploughman. 

Verses beginning with the section 9. form a very 
slovenly rhythm, but are occasionally found in the works 
of our dramatists. 



Ti8 a wonjder by | your leave] : she will | be tam*d | so. 

T. of the Shrew, 5. 2. 

9/: I. 

As an arrow shot 

From a well-[experjienced arjcher: kits | the mark) 

His eye doth level at Per. 1.1. 

— — We gave way to your clusters 
Who did hunt | him out | o" th' citj : Bat | I feari 
They'll roar him in again. Cor 4. 6. 

c. VI. 255 



Formerly the verse of six accents was the one most 
commonly used in our language ; but for the last three 
centuries it has been losing ground, and is now merely 
tolerated, as affording a convenient pause in a stave, or as 
sometimes yielding the pleasure of variety. 

The place it once filled in English literature would give 
it some degree of importance, even though it had never 
been one of our classical rhythms ; but its importance is 
greatly increased, when we recollect the period when it 
most flourished, and the writers by whom it was chiefly 
cultivated. Poems in this metre ushered in the ©ra of 
Elizabeth ; and no one can look with other feelings than 
respect upon the favourite rhythm of a Howard, a Sid- 
ney, and a Drayton. 

The verse of six accents is frequently met with in our 
Anglo-Saxon poems, and also in the alliterative poems of 
the fourteenth century. But the psalm-metres were 
chiefly instrumental in rendering it familiar to the people ; 
and doubtless gave it that extraordinary popularity, which 
for a time threw into the shade all the other metres of 
our language. 

It must, however, be - acknowledged, that our verse of 
six accents is much inferior to the verse of five. Though 
of greater length, its rhythm has a narrower range, and a 
flow much more tame and monotonous. Its pause ad- 
mits little change of position, and though in the number 


of its possible varieties it equals the verse of five accents, 

yet many of these have a length so inconvenient, as to 

render them very unfit for any practical purpose. It is 

also more difficult to follow a diversified rhythm in the 

section of three, than in the shorter section of two accents. | 

A verse, therefore, which admits only the former, cannot 

safely allow the same license to the rhythm, as one which 

contains the latter. Accordingly, our metre of six accents 

departs in very few instances from the strictest law of the 

common measure. 

The name of Alexandrine has been given to this verse, 
not only in our own, but also in foreign countries. The 
origin of the term has been questioned ; but I see little j 

reason to doubt the common opinion, which traces it to 
the French Romance of Alexander. This once famous 
" Geste" was the work of several authors, some of whom 
were English. Its verse in many respects resembles the 
modern French Alexandrine, but generally contains six 

Of late years the Alexandrine has kept a place in Eng- 
lish literature, chiefly by its introduction into our heroic *\ 
verse. This intermixture of rhythms was unknown to 
Chaucer, and seems to have been mainly owing to the 
influence of the tumbling metre. The poets of the seven- 
teenth century introduced the Alexandrine, sometimes 
singly, sometimes in couplets or triplets, and in some 
cases used it for whole passages together. It would be 
difficult to defend this practice, on any sound principles 
of criticism; but the intrusive verses are occasionally 
introduced so happily, the change of rhythm is so well 
adapted to change of feeling or of subject, that criticism 
will probably be forgotten in the pleasure of the reader. 
On this ground, the following passage seems to me to 
have a fair claim on the forbearance of the critic, though 
it will hardly meet with his approval. Sheffield thus 
describes, or rather professes his inability to describe, the 
nature of genius. 


A spirit that inspires the work throughout, 
As that of nature moves the world about ; 
A flame that glows amidst conceptions fit 
Ev'n something of divine and more than wit ; 
Itself unseen, yet all things by it shown, 
Described by all men, but described by none. 
Where dost thou dwell ? What caverns of the brain 
Can such a vast and mighty thing contain ? 
When I, at vacant hours, in vain thy absence mourn, 
Oh, where dost thou retire ? And why dost thou return 
Sometimes with powerful charms to hurry me away, 
From pleasures of the night, and business of the day ? 

Essay on Poetry. 

The writers of our old English alliterative metre used 
the Alexandrine with the utmost freedom, as also did our 
dramatists ; but it was rejected by Milton, and has ever 
since been considered as alien to the spirit of English 
blank verse. 

Verses of six accents beginning with the section 1, are 
rarely found, except in our Anglo-Saxon poems, and the 
works of our dramatists ; Milton, however, has occasion- 
ally used them in his Samson. 

1 : 1. is well-known to the Anglo-Saxon, but is hardly 
ever met with in English verse. 

heah|-cyning|es haes| : him | waes haljig leoht]. Cad. 

thurh | his an|es craft | : of|er othjre ford|. Ex. MSS. 

him | seo win | geleah| : sethjthan waljdendhia. Cad. 

Hath ) he ask'd | for me| } Know | you not | he has| ? 

Macb. \. 7. 

of|er rumjne grand] : rathje waes | gefyljled. Cad. 

Tha | seo tid | gewatj : of|er tibjer sceac|an. Cad. 

Ne | waes her ) tha giet| : nym | the heol|ster scead|o. 


By alternating the verse 1:1. with the common heroic 
verse, Campion formed what he calls his elegiac metre. 
vol. i. s 


It seems to have been his intention to imitate the rhythm 
of Latin elegy ; if so, the attempt must be considered as a 

Comstant to none, but ever false to me ! 
Trai|ter still | to love| : through | thy false | desires |, 

Not hope of pittie now, nor vain redress 
Turns | my grief | to tears | : and | renu'd | laments], 

So well thy empty vowes and hollow thoughts 
Witjnes both | thy wrongs) ; and | remorse |les hart) — 

None canst thou long refuse, nor long affect, 
But | turn'stfeare | with hopes | : sor[row with | delight), 

Delaying and deluding ev'ry way 
Those | whose eyes | were once| : with | thy beau|ty charm'd|. 

1 : 2. is also rare. 

Whose mention were alike to thee as lieve 
As | a catch|polls fist) : un|to a bank|rupts sleeve). 

Hall. Sat. 

O | ye Gods | ye Gods) : must | I endure | all this) ? 

Jul. Cas. 4. 3. 

Well | what rem|edy| } : Fen|ton, Heav'n give | thee joy). 

M. TV. of Windsor, 5. 4r. 

The verse 1 ; 5. is somewhat more common. 

Take pomp from prelatis, magistee from kingis, 
SoVemne cir|cumstance| : from all | these world | lye thingisj, 
We walke awrye, and wander without light, 
Confoundinge all to make a chaos quite. 

Puttenham Parth. . 

O ) despite | fill love| : uncon|stant wom|ankind| ! 

T. of the Shrew, 4. 1. 

Saf|er shall | he be| : upon | the san|dy plains | 

Than where castles mounted stand. H. 6, 1 . 

We'll | along | ourselves| : and meet [ them at | £hilip(pi. 

Jul. Q<R8. 

Virjtue as | I thought) : truth, du|ty so | enjoining. 

Samson Ago*. 


Verses beginning with the lengthened section are more 
commonly met with. The verse 1 /. 1. was used as late 
as the 16th century. 

And | thurh of|ermet|to : soh|ton oth|er land|. Cad. 

— Gan enquire 

What stately building durst so high extend 
Her lofty tow'rs, unto the starry sphere, 
And | what un|known na|tion : there | empeo|pled were|. 

F. Q. 1. 10. 56. 

Let | me be | record|ed : by | the right|eous Gods|, 

I am as poor as you. T.of A. 4. 1. 

The Duke of Norfolk is the first, and claims 

To be high Steward ; next the Duke of Norfolk 

He I to be I Earl Marshall : you | may read | the re«t|. 

H. 8, 4. 1. 

Set|te sig|eleas|e : on | tha sweartjan hel|k. Cad. 

Gif | be to | tba&m ric|e : waes | on rih|te bor|en. Alfred* 

He | nom Sum|erset|e : and | he nom | Dorset|e. 


And | tha men | withinjnen : ohtfHche | agun|nen. 


These evils I deserve ; and more, 

Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me 
Just|ly, yet | despair | not : of | his fin|al parjdon. 

Samson Agon. 

I I 5. is met with in the Anglo-Saxon, and also in the 
old English alliterative poems. 

haef|don heor|a hlaf|ord : for thon|e heahjstan God|. Alfred. 

On | tha deop|an da|lu : th»r he | to deof|le wearth|. Cad, 

Hehjste with | tham her|ge : ne mih|ton hyg|eleas|e. Cad. 

R»d|an on | this ricje : swa me | that riht | ne thinc|eth. 


And | hi wil|tun scir|e : mid with|ere | igrafc[te, Layamon, 



Gif | me mot | ilas|ten : that lif | a rair|e breos|ten. 


Ther | lai the | Kaiser|e : and Col|grim his | iverje. 


Hiz|ed to | the hiz|e : bot het|erly | they werje. 

Gaw. and the Green Knight* 

In | a somjer ses|on : when sof|te was | the sunjne. 

P. Ploughman. 

Verses j which begin with the sections 2. and 2 1, have 
been widely used in English poetry. Some of their va- 
rieties have survived in modern usage. 

2 : 1. is found in our dramatists. 

Was | not that no|bly done| : ay | and wise|ly too|. 

Macb. 3. 6. 

How long should I be, ere I should put off 
To | the lord Chancellors tomb] : or | the She | riffs posts]. 

B. Jon. 3. 9. 

This young Prince had the ordering 

(To crown his father's hopes) of all the army — 

Fash|ion'd and drew ] em up| : but | alas | so poor|ly, 

So raggedly and loosely, so unsoldier'd, 

The good Duke blush'd. Fletcher. Loy. Subj. 1.1. 

If there can be virtue, if that name 

Be any thing but name, and empty title, 

If | it be so | as fools| : have | been pleas'd | to feign it, 

A pow'r that can preserve us after ashes 

Fletcher. Valentinian, 1. 2. 

2:2. is still common. 

Both | for her nojble blood | : and | for her ten|der youth |. 

F. Q. 1. 1.50. 

Throw out our eyes for brave Othello, 

Ev'n | till we make | the main| : and | the aer|ial blue| 

An indistinct regard. Othello, 2. 2. 


The verse 2 : 5, like the last, is used even at the present 

And | by his on|ly ayde| : preserv'de | our princ|es right|. 

M.for M. Flodd. Fielde, 24. 

Banjish'd from livjing wights | : our wear|y days | we waste). 

F. Q. 1. 2. 42. 

Whi|ther the souls | do fly : of men | that live | amiss |. 

F. Q. I. 2. 19. 

Where | they should live | inwoej : and die | in wretch |edness[. 

F. Q. 1.5.46. 

Then | by main force | pull'd up] : and on | his shoul|ders bore) 
The gates of Azza. Samson Agon. 

Knych|tisar cow|hybyis| : and com'ons pluk|kis crawis|. 

Gaw. Doug. Prol to 8 Eneid. 

So | did that squire | his foes) : disperse | and drive | asunjder. 

F. Q. 6. 5. 19. 

Yet | were her words | but . wind| : and all | her tears | but 
wat|er. F. Q. 6. 6. 42. 

Upon the British coast, what ship yet ever came, 
That not of Plymouth hears, where those brave navies lie, 
From cannons thund 'ring throats, that all the world defy, 
Which | to invasive, spoil | : when th* En|glish list | to draw], 
Have check'd Iberia's pride, and held her oft in awe } 

Drayton 8 Poty-olbion. 

The verse which follows appears to be doubly length- 

We have this hour a constant wish to publish 

Our daughters sev'ral dow'rs, that future strife 

May | be prevented now| : the princjes France | and Bur' gundy 

Long in our court have made their am'rous sojourn. 

Lear, 1. 1. 


Johnson has given it as his opinion that the Alexandrine 
" invariably requires a break at the sixth syllable." This, 
he tells us, is a rule which the modern French poets never 


-violate; and he censures Dryden's negligence in having 
so ill observed it. But the French and English Alexan- 
drines have little in common save the name, and to rea- 
son from the properties of the one to the properties of 
the other, is very unsafe criticism. The former may have 
four, five, or six accents ; the latter never has less than 
six. In the number of their syllables they approach 
more nearly to each other ; but their pauses are regulated 
by very different laws. The English pause* divides the 
accents equally, but the French pause has frequently two 
on one side, and three on the other. Again, in French 
the pause must divide the syllables equally, but not neces- 
sarily so in English. Johnson's acquaintance with the 
English Alexandrine seems to have been very limited; 
in one place he even represents it as the invention of 

Dryden only followed the last mentioned poet, in 
using Alexandrines beginning with a lengthened section. 
Such verses are also found in every page of our drama- 
tists ; and are fall as common in the works of our earlier 
poets. Pope seems to have imitated Drayton in rejecting 
them; and as Johnson formed all his notions of rhyth- 
mical proportion in the school of Pope, we have an easy 
clue to the criticism, which gave rise to these observa- 

21: 1. 

hwaet | sceal ic win | nan cwaeth | he : nis|me wihjte thearf. 


Rapt | in eter|nal sijlence : far | from en|emies|. 

F. Q. 1. 1.41. 

Up | to the hill | by Hejbron t seat | of gi|ants old|. 

Samson Agon, 

Lisjta and thajra lajra : he let | heo that | land bujan. Cad. 

* This observation does not apply to those verses of six accents, which 
contain a compound section ; see ch. 7. But such rhythms have long since 
been obsolete* 


The sections 3. and 3 I but seldom open an English 
verse, whatever be the number of its accents. When 
there are sice accents, such a verse is rarely, if ever, met 
with after the 15th century. 


Swa | mec hyht|-giefu heold| : hyg|e dryht | befeold|. 

Rhiming Poem. 


Wen|te forth | in here way| : with man|y wis|e tal|es. 

P. Ploughman. 

This | was heor|e iheot| : ar heo | to Bath|e com|en. 


SI ill. 

I | was wer|y forwanjdred : wen|te me | to resjte. 

P. Ploughman. 

SI: 3. 

Mon|y mar|vellus matjer : nev|er mark|it nor ment|. 

Oaw. Doug. Prol. to Eneid. 

He 1 nom al|le tha lon|des : ni | to tha|re sa stron|de. 


Verses beginning with the sections 5. and 5 I. are by 
far the most common of our modern Alexandrines. They 
are also well known in old English poetry, but are rare 
in Anglo-Saxon. 

5 : 1. 

I know I you re man | enough| : mould j it to | just ends|. 

Fletch. hoy. Subj. 1.3. 


Such one | was I|delness| : first | of that com|pany|. 

1 F. Q. 1. 4. 20. 

To gaze 1 on eartblly wight| : that 1 with the night I durst ride|. 
* ' • " jr. q; 1.5.32, 


Then gins | her griev|ed ghost) : thus | to lament | and moorn[. 

F. Q. 1.7.21. 

Or by the girdle grasp'd they practice with the hip, 
The forward, backward falls, the mar, the turn, the trip, 
When stript into their shirts each other they invade, 
Within ] a spa|cions ringj -. by | the behol|ders made|. 


Which men | enjoy |ing sight] : oft | without cause | complain |. 

Samson Agon, 

This and much more, much more than twice all this 
Condemns | you to | the death | : see | them delivjer'd o|ver 
To execution. R. 2, 3. 2. 

The dominations, royalties, and rights 

Of this | oppressed boy : This | is thy el|dest son's | son 

Unfortunate in nothing but in thee. K. John, 2. 1 . 

5 : 3 is only found in old English. 

I muv|it forth | alane| : qhen | as mid|nicht wes past[. 

Dunbar s Midsummer Eve. 

Quod he | and drew | me down) : derne ] in delf | by ane dyke|. 

Gaw. Doug. Prol. to Eneid 8. 

His seel | schul nat | be sent[ : to | dyssey|ve the pejple. 

P. Ploughman. 


O who | does know | the bent) : of worn | an 's fan[tasy| > 

F.Q.I. 4. 24. 

In shape | and life | more like] : a mon|ster than | aman|. 

F. Q. 1. 4. 22. 

He cast | about | andsearch'dj : his bale |ful books [ again |. 

F.Q. 1.2.2. 

And hel|mets hewjen deep| : shew marks | of eijthers might [. 

F.Q. 1.5.7. 

This is the verse, which Drayton used in the Poly- 
olbion. Other varieties are occasionally introduced, but 


rarely — too rarely, it may be thought, to diversify the 
tameness and monotony of the metre. Of the fifteen 
verses which open the poem, fourteen belong to the pre- 
sent rhythm ; yet, notwithstanding this iterated cadence, 
there is something very pleasing in their flow. Much of 
this, however, may arise from mere association. 

Of Al|bion's glojrious isle) : the won|ders whilst | I write |, 
The sun [dry var|ying soils [ : the pleasures in | finite |, 
Where heat | kills not | the cold | : nor cold | expels | the heat], 
The calms | too mildjly small] : nor winds j too rough |ly great |, 
Nor night | doth hin|der day| : nor day | the night | doth wrong |, 
The sum|mer not | too short | : the win|ter not | toolong| — 
What help | shall I | invoke] : to aid | my muse | the while | ? 

Thougen|ius of | the place! : this most | renown |ed isle], 
Which liv|edst long | before | : the all | -earth-drown |ing flood], 
Whilst yet | the earth | did swarm | : with her | gigan|tic brood |, 
Go thou | before | me still| : thy cir| cling shores | about], 
Direct | my course | so right] : as with | thy hand | to show] 
Which way | thy for]ests range |: which way | thy riv|ers flow] 
Wise gen |ius ! by | thyhelp| : that so | I may | descry] 
How thy fair mountains stand, and how thy vallies lie. 

Drayton's Poly-olbion. 

The lengthened verse was also common. 

So long | as these | two arms| : were a|ble to | be wrok|en. 

F.Q. 1.2.7. 

And drove | away | the stound] : which mor| tally | attack'd | him. 

F. Q. 6. 3. 10. 

Oft furnishing | our dames| : with In|dia's rar'st | devic|es, 
And lent J us gold | and pearl] : rich silks | and dain|ty spic|es. 


Verses beginning with the lenghtened section, were 
common till the end of the seventeenth century. Dray- 
ton, however, rejected them, and they were proscribed by 


Some spajris nowjthir spirit|ual : spousjit wyffe | nor ant|. 

Gaw. Doug. Prol. Eneid, 8. 

A may | n y of | rode viljlyans : made | him for | to bledej. 

Skeltont Elegy. 

Whose sem|blance she | did car|ry : nn|der feig|ned show|. 

F.Q. 1. 1.46. 

But pin'd | away | in ang|nish : and | self-will'd | annoy |. 

F. Q, 1. 6. 17. 

More ng|ly shape | yet nevjer : liv|ing crea|ture saw). 

F. Q. 1.8.48. 

And oft | to-beat | with bil|lows: beat|ing from | the main|. 

F.Q.I. 12.5. 

Whom unarm'd 

No strength | of man), or nerc|est : wild | beast could | withstand). 


And with | paternal thnn|der : vin|dicates his throne]. 


The last verse is the one specially objected to by 

51: 37. 

And wer|eden | tha rich|e: with | than stron|ge Childrichje. 


51:5. like all those verses, which have a supernume- 
rary syllable in the middle, was rarely used after the 
fifteenth century. It was, however, sometimes met with 
in our dramatists. 

Of drev|illing | and drem|ys : what do|ith to | endytej ? 

Gaw. Doug. Prol. Eneid 8. 

Fnl rode | and ry|ot res|ons : bath roun|dalis | and rymej. 


Na lau|bonr list | they lnik | till : thare lafjis are | burdlyme[. 


Yet 8hame|fully | they slew | him : that shame | mot them [ 
befall|. Skelions Elegy. 


And forth | he wuljde bugjen : and Bath|en al | belig|gen. 


Ah swa | me heljpen drih|ten : thae scop | thaes daijes lih|ten. 


Despise | me if | I do | not : Three great | ones of | the cit|y, 

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, 

Oft capp'd to him. Othello, 1.1. 

Verses beginning with the sections 6 and 6 /. are found 
in the old English alliterative metre. 
6: 1. 

Quha spor|tis thame on | the spray | : spar|is for | na space |. 

Gaw. Doug. 


As anjcres and her | metis | : that hol|de hem in | here seljles. 

P. Ploughman. 

That Na|ture ful no[bilie| : annam|ilit fine | with flou|ris. 



So glitjterit as | the gowd| : wer their glorjious | gylt tresjses. 



Syth Char|ite hat | be chap | man: and chef J to schriv|e lordjes. 

P. Ploughman. 

Unclosjed the ken | el dore| : and caljde hem | ther out|e. 

Gaw. and the Green Knight. 

In the same metre may also be found verses beginning 

with the sections 7 and 7 J« 

7: U 

The brem|e bukjkes also| : wit | her brod|e paum|es. 

Gaw. and the Green Knight. 

By that | that an|y day-lizt| : lem|ed up|on erth|e. 

Gaw. and the Green Knight. 

I say | a tour | in a toft) : trycjlyche | imaked. 

P. Ploughman. 



And get|en gold | wit here gle| : sin|fullich|e y trow|e. 

P. Ploughman. 

7 :5. 

So thoch|tis thretjis in thra| : our bres|tis o|ver thort|. 

Gaw. Doug. 

The schip|man schrenkjis the schour| : and set|tith to | the 
schore|. Gaxv. Doug. 

With such | a crakjkande cry| : as klif j fee had | den brus|ten|. 

Gaw. and the Green Knight. 

Of al|le man[er of men| : the men|e and | the richje. 

P. Ploughman. 

I drew | in derne | to the dyke | : to dirk | en af|ter myrth|is. 



I wene | thou bidjdis na bet|tir : bot | I breke | thy brow|. 

Gaw. Dougl. 

Ich woljle wurth|liche wrek|en : al|le his with|er-ded|en. 

7 I: SI. 

And sum | me put | hem to pryd|e : apar|ayleth | hem there afjtur. 

P. Ploughman. 


Bot in|compe|tabil clerjgy : that Chris jtendome | offend |dis. 

Gaw. Doug. 

Verses beginning with sections 8. and 8 /. are very rare. 
They are found, however, in the Song of the Traveller. 

That trav|yllis thus | with thy boistj : qwhen bern|is with | the 
bourdjis. Gaw. Doug. 

SI: 11. 

Mid Hron|um ic wses | and mid Deanjum: and | mid heath |o- 
Reom|um. Trav. Song. 


Mid Scot|tum ic wses | and mid Peohjtum : and | mid Scridje- 
Fin|nnm. Trav. Song. 

Verses beginning with sections 9. and 9 /. are also rare. 
Ben Jonson has used them once or twice in that strange 
medley of learning, coarseness, and extravagance, with 
which the three sycophants amuse the crafty epicure, 
their master. We have the verses 9 : 7- and 9 : 9. in the 
first four lines. 

Now room for fresh gamesters, who do will you to know, 
They do bring | you neither play| : nor U|niver|sity show| ; 
And therefore do intreat you, that whatsoever they rehearse 
May not fare | a whit | the worse | : for the false | pace of | the 
verse|. The Fox, 1. 2. 

There are also verses in Hers Ploughman, which may 
be read, as if they began with the section 9. But I have 
doubts, if the custom, now so prevalent, of slurring over 
an initial accent, were practised at so early a period. If 
this license be allowed, we may give to the following line 
the rhythm 91: 21. 

All in hop|e for | to hav|e : hevjene rich|e blis|se. 




The origin of those sections which have more than 
three accents, has already been matter of discussion ;* in 
the present chapter we shall consider them all as com- 
pound. This will enable us, at once, to double the range 
of our notation. 

Every section of four, five, or six accents, may be re- 
presented as an Anglo-Saxon couplet; and if we add a 
c to the figures, which denote the rhythm, we shall be in 
no danger of confounding a compound section, with the 
couplet to which it probably owes its origin. Thus we 
may represent the section 

Then|den heo | his hal|ige word| 

by the formula 1 : 6. c. — assuming that the middle pause 
of the couplet followed after the third syllable. I have 
already stated my belief, that the hypothesis, which has 
been started, as to the nature and origin of these com- 
pound sections is the true one; but whether true or 
false, there can be little doubt as to the convenience of the 


may be ranged under two heads, accordingly as they be- 

• See B. 2. ch. 1, 3, and 4. 


gin or end with the compound section. Those which 
belong to the latter class are rare in Anglo-Saxon ; but 
common in our psalm metres, and all those rhythms 
which were derived from, or influenced by them. They 
are, however, seldom met with after the sixteenth century. 

1 : 6. c : 1 /. 
Heo waeron leof gode 

Then | den heo | his hal|ige word] : heal | dan wol|don. 

They were dear to God, 

While they his holy word would keep. Gedmon. 

21: ULc : 6. 

No man ys wurthe to be ycluped kyng. 

Bot|e the hey|e kyng | of hev|ene : that wrog|te al thing|. 

R. Glou. 322. 

5 : 5.c : 6. 

About|e seint | Ambrosje day] : idp | was al this), 
Tuelf hundred in zer of grace, and foure and sixti iwis. 

R. Glou. 546. 

Lewelin prinee of Walis robbede mid is route 
The erl|es lond | of Glou|cetre| : in Walj'ts about|e. 

R. Glou. 551. 

5 : 6. c : 6 /. 

So ho|ly lyf | he lad|de and god| : so chast | and so clen[e 

That hey men of the lond wolde hem alday mene 

That hii nadde non eyr bytwene hem. R. Glou. 330. 

6 : 5. c : 6. 

And wel vaire is offringe to the hey weved* ber 
And suth|the ofte wan | he thudjer com| : he off|rede ther|. 

R. Glou. 545. 

* Weved is the Anglo-Saxon wigbed, an altar. 


5 : 5 L c : 61. 

And ris|en up | wit rib|audy|e : tho rob|erdes knav|es. 

P. Ploughman. 

5 1 : 5 /. c : 6 1. 

To syn|ge ther|e for sym|ony|e : for sil|ver is swet|e. 

P. Ploughman. 

Who with his wisdom won, him strait did chose 
Their king | and swore | him fe|alty| : to win | or lose|. 

F. Q. 2. 10. 37. 

Yet secret pleasure did offence impeach, 
And won|der of | antiq|uity| : long stop'd | his speech |. 

F. Q. 2. 10. 68. 
As well | in cur | ions in|struments| : as cunning lays). 

F. Q. 2. 10.59. 

They crown'd | the sec |ond Con |stan tine | : with joy |ous tears |. 

F. Q. 2. 10. 62. 

How he | that lady's libjertie] : might en |terprise|. 

F. Q. 4. 12. 28. 

Their hearts | were sick, | their eyes | were sore| : their feet 
were lame|. F. Q. 6. 5. 40. 

Gracious queen 

More | than your lord's | departure weep | not: more's | not 
seen | . R. 2, 2. 

Verses ending with section 2, are chiefly found in the 
works of our dramatists. 

1/ : 1. c : 21. 

Art | thou cerjtain this | is truej : is | it most cer[tain. 

Cor. 5. 4. 

The sea | and un|frequen|ted des|erts : where | the snowdwellsj^ 

Fletcher, Bonduca, 4. 3. 

Verses which end with the compound section are much 
more common in Anglo-Saxon, than in the later dialects. 
They yielded to the favourite rhythms of our psalm- 


metres; and though their popularity revived in some 
measure during the sixteenth century, they have since 
fallen into almost total neglect. 

C«dmon frequently made both his sections begin ab- 
ruptly, and for opening the couplet preferred the section 
2 1. 

1 1 : 5 I : I I.e. 
Hie habbath me to hearran gecorene, 

Rof|e rin|cas : mid swiljcum maeg | man red | ge then [can. 

They have me for Lord y-chosen, 

Warriors famous ! with such may man council take ! Cad. 

21:2 : 5. c. 

Gif 4rit eower aenig maege 

gewendan mid wihte : that hie word Godes 

lar|e forlae|ten: son|a hie him | the lath | ran beotli). 

If any of yon may 

Change this with aught — that they God's word 
And lore desert — soon they to him the more loath 'd will be. 


Thaem he getruwode wel 

Thaet hie his giongerscipe : fyligen wolden 

Wyr|cean his wil|lan : for | thon he him | gewit | forgeafj. 

In whom he trusted well 

That they his service would follow, 

And work his will— for that he gave them reason— Cad. 

2 1 : 2 : 5 /. c. 

Gif ic aeniguin thegnc : theoden madmas. 

Gear|a forgaef|e : thenjden we on | tham god|an ric|e 

Gescel|ige sjet|on : and h»f|don wje set|la geweald|. 

If I to any thane lordly treasures 

Gave of yore — while we in that good realm 

Sat happy and o'er our seats had sway Cad. 

The last of these verses has the rhythm 61: 51: 2c. 
It will be observed that in all these examples the allite- 
ration falls on the third accented syllable of the second 
vol. i. T 


section. According to Rask, all the preceding syllables 
form the t( complement ; " they are to be uttered in a 
softer and a lower tone, so that the first accent may al- 
ways fall on the alliterative syllable. Were this theory 
true, the rhythm of Anglo-Saxon verse would be poor 
indeed ! 

Sometimes, though rarely, we find the alliteration falling 
upon other syllables ; and occasionally we have even two 
alliterative syllables in the second section. 

21: 1 / : 1 /. c. 

Hyge hreoweth : that hie heofon rice 

Agjan to al|dre : gif | hit eo|wer ae|nig maeg|e 

Gewendam mid wihte. 

Rueth my heart, that they heaven's realm 

Possess for ever ! If any of you may 

This change by aught, &c. Cad. 

Though not unknown to the old English dialect, these 
verses are so barely met with in the interval which elapsed 
between the Anglo-Saxon period, and the sixteenth cen- 
tury, that we shall pass at once to the rhythms of the 
Faery Queen. 

You shame|fac'd are] : but shame |fac'dness | itself | is she|. 

F. Q. 2. 9. 43. 

By which she well perceiving what was done, 
Gan tear her hair, and all her garments rent, 
And beat | her breast | : and pit|eously | herself | torment |. 

F. Q. 6. 5. 4. 

For no demands he stay'd 
But first | him loos'dj : and afterwards | thus to | him said|. 

F. Q. 6. 1. 11. 

The common metre of six accents, which spread so 
widely during the sixteenth century, seldom tolerated a 
verse with a compound section. The reluctance to ad- 
mit these verses was strengthened by the example of 
Drayton, who rigidly excluded them from the Polyolbion. 


There ace, however, a few poems, in which they axe ad- 
mitted freely enough to give a peculiar character to the 
rhythm, One of. these poems is the Elegy written by 
Rrysket, (though generally ascribed to Spenser,) on the 
death of Sir Philip Sidney. It has very little poetical 
merit, but deserves attention, as having undoubtedly been 
in Milton's <eye, when he wrote his Lycidas. From it 
Milton borrowed his irregular rhknes, and that strange 
mixture of Christianity and Heathenism, which shocked 
the feelings and roused the indignation of Johnson. It 
may be questioned, if the peculiarity in the metre can 
fairly be considered as a blemish. Like endings, recur- 
ring at uncertain distances, impart a wildness and an ap- 
pearance of negligence to the verse, which suits well with 
the character of elegy. But to bring in St. Peter hand in 
in hand with a pagan deity is merely ludicrous ; it was 
the taste of the age, and that is all that can be urged in 
its excuse. Still, however, the beauties of this singular 
poem may well make us tolerant of even greater absurdity. 
No work of Milton has excited warmer admiration, or 
called forth more strongly the zeal of the partizan. The 
elegy on Sir Philip Sidney will afford us a specimen of 
rather a curious rhythm ; and at the same tune enable us 
to judge of Milton's skill in changing the baser metal 
into gold. It should be observed, that, in some editions, 
the sections are written in separate lines, as if they formed 
distinct verses. 


Come forth, ye Nymphs ! come forth, forsake your wat'ry bowers, 

Forsake your mossy caves, and help me to lament $ 

Help I me to tune | my dole|ful notes| 1 to gur|gling sound | 

Of Liffie's tumbling streams, come let salt tears of ours, 

Mix with his waters fresh : O come, let one consent 

Joyn I us to mourn | with wail|ful plaints] : the dead|ly wound | 

Which fatal clap had made, decreed by higher powers 

The drery day, in which they have from us yrent 

The noblest plant that might from cast to west be found, 

T 2 


Mourn, mourn great Philip's fall ! mourn we his woeful end, 
Whom spiteful death hath pluckt untimely from the tree, 
Whiles yet his years in flowre did promise worthy fruit, &c. 

Up | from his torabj : the mighjty Cor|ine|us rose|, 

Who cursing oft the Fates that his mishap had bred, 

His hoary locks he tare, calling the Heavens unkind ; 

The Thames was heard to roar, the Reyne and eke the Mose, 

The Schald, the Danow's self this great mischance did rue, 

With torment and with grief their fountains pure and clear 

Were troubled and | with s wel| ling floods | : declar'd | their woes |. 

The Muses comfortless, the Nymphs with pallid hue. 

The Sylvan Gods likewise came running far and near ; 

And, all with tears bedew'd and eyes cast up on high, 

O help, O help, ye Gods ! they ghastly gan to cry. 

O change the cruel fate of this so rare a wight, 

And grant that nature's course may measure out his age. 

The beasts their food forsook and trembled fearfully, 

Each sought his cave or den this cry did them so fright, 

Out from amid the waves by storm then stirr'd to rage, 

This cry did cause to rise th' old father Ocean hoar 5 

Who grave with eld and full of majesty in sight 

Spake | in this wise| : Refrain,] quoth he,| your tears | and plaints), 

Cease these your idle words, make vain requests no more ; 

No humble speech nor mone may move the fixed stint 

Of Destiny or Death ; such is his will that paints 

The earth with colours fresh, the darkest skyes with store 

Of star|ry lights | : and though j your tears | a heart | of flint| 

Might tender make, yet nought herein they will prevail. 

Whiles thus | he said] : the no|ble Knight | who gan | to feel| 

His vital force to faint, and death with cruel diut 

Of dire | ful dart] : his mor|tal bod|y to | assail |, 

With eyes lift up to Heav n, and courage frank as steel, 

With cheer | ful face| : where val|our live|ly was | exprest), 

But humble mind, he said, O Lord, if ought this frail 

And earthly carcass have thy service sought t'advance, 

If my desire hath been, still to relieve th' opprest ,• 

If justice to maintain, that valour I have spent r 

Which thou me gav'st : or if henceforth I might advance 

Thy name,| thy truth,| then spare | me, Lord] : if thou | think best] 


Forbear these unripe years. But if thy will be bent, 

If that j prefix | ed time | be come| : which thou | hast set|, 

Through pure and fervent faith I hope now to be placed 

In th* everlasting bliss, which with thy precious blood 

Thou purchase did for us. With that a sigh he fet, 

And straight a cloudy mist his senses over-cast $ 

His lips waxt pale and wan, like damask roses bud 

Cast from the stalk, or like in field to purple flowre, 

Which languisheth being shred by culter as it past. 

A trembling chilly cold ran through their veins, which were 

With eyes brimfull of tears, to see his fatal houre, &c. 


May be divided, like those of six, into two classes, ac- 
cordingly as they begin or end with the compound section. 
Both these classes were known to the Anglo-Saxons ; but 
under the influence of the psalm metres the latter gra- 
dually gave way, in the same manner as the corresponding 
rhythm in the metre of six accents. It was, however, 
very freely used by certain of our poets, during the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries ; more especially by 
Phaer and Chapman. 

We will first take the verses that begin with the com- 
pound section. Csedmon generally opened the first sec- 
tion with an accent, and the second with an unaccented 

lit \L c : 21L 

And moste ane tid : ute weorthan 

Wes|an an|e win | ter stun |de: thon|ne ic mid | this wer|ode 

And might I one season outfare 

And bide one winter's space ! then I with this host — Cad. 

1 : 6 /. c : 8. 

hael|eth helm | on heafjod aset|te 1 and thon|e full heard |e gebandj 

Hero's-helm on head he set, and it full hard y-bound. Cad. 

War|iath inc | with thon|e wa38tm| : ne wyrth | inc wil|nagaed| 
Be ye both ware of that fruit, ne let it goad your lust. Cad. 


21: 21. cz 51. 

Lag|on tha othjre fynd | on tham fy|re r the aer | swa fealfa haef|don 
Gewinnes with heora waldend. 

Lay the other fiends in fire, that erewhile had so fele 

Strife with their Ruler. Cad. 

NaeroH metode 

Tha | gyta widjtond ne weg|as nyt|te : ac stod | bewrig|en faes|te- 
Folde mid flode. 

• Nor had the Maker 

As yet wide | land,, nor pathways useful ; but fast beset 
With flood earth stood* CW. 

51 : \l. c : 5 I. 

Tha spraec | se ofjer modfa cynjing r the «f | w«s eng|la scyn|o§t. 

Then spake the haughty king, that erewhile was of angels sheenest. 

5 : 5 I. c : 4 1. 

Se feond | mid his | gefei>|um eal|lum : foal|lon thaujfon of heof|num- 
The fiend with aM his feres fell then on high from heaven. 

The last verse approaches very nearly to the favourite 
rhythm of Chapman ; of which we have no les» than five- 
examples in the first six lines of his Iliad, 

5 1: I. c. : 5. 

Achilles bane|ful wrath | resound] : O God|dess ! that | imposed) 
Infinite sorrows on the Greeks : and many brave souls los'd 
From breasts } herojique, sent | them, farre| i to that | invisible 

That no | light comjforts, and | their lime| : to dogs | and vul|ture» 

gave | . 
To all | which Jove's | will gave [ effect| r from whom | strife 

first | begunne| 
Betwixt | Atridjes, king of meri| r and Thesis' godjlike sonne). 

Iliad, 1. 

The same verse is also common in the translations of 
Phaer and Golding. Like Chapman also, these poets 
frecuently begin the first section abruptly, and sometimes 


even the second; but they never allow themselves the 
liberty, which the latter so often takes, of opening a verse 
with the section 5 : 2. c. 

This grace desir'd 
Vouchsafe [to me| ! paines | for my teares| : let these | rud* 

Greekes | repay | 
Forc'd with thy arrowes. Thus he pray'd, and Phoebus heard 

him pray. 
And Vext | at heart | down [ from the tops| : of steepe | heaven 

8toopt| ; his bow 
And quiver cover'd round his hands did on his shoulders throw 

And of the angrie deitye, the arrowes as he mov'd 

Ratl'd about him . Iliad, 1. 

o l Ji» c • Jt 

Jove's and Latona*s sonne, who fired against the king of men 
For contumelie shown his priest, infectious sicknesse sent 
To plague the armie ; and to death, by troopes the soldier went 
Occa|sion'd tbus| ; Chryjses the priest| : came [ to the fleete | to 

For presents of nnvalu'd price his daughter's liber tie, &c. 

Iliad, 1. 

5 : 2 /. c : 1 . 

Thus Xan|thus spake) $ a|blest Achil|les : now | at least | our 

care I 
Shall bring thee off 3 but not farre hence the fatal moments are 
Of thy grave mine. Iliad. 

This kind of verse is sometimes used in Layamon, but 
more rarely than might have been expected. Robert of 
Gloucester has made it the great staple of his Chronicle. 
He uses a very loose rhythm, one of his sections approach- 
ing to the triple measure, while the other not unfrequently 
belongs to the strictest law of the common measure. 

^ . o* c . o. 
Engjelond ys | a wel | god land| : ich wen|e of ech|e land best| 
Yset in the end of the world. R° b - Glouc ' P- *• 


6 : 6. c : 5 /. 

The Saxjonesand | the Eng|lisehe tho| : heo had|den ar|on hon|de, 
Five and thritty schiren heo maden in Engelonde. 

Rob. Glouc. p. 3. 

He seems to have preferred opening his verse abruptly, 
and, like Csedmon, generally began the second section with 
an unaccented syllable. 

Ev|erwyk | of fair | est wood|e : Lyn|colne of fair] est men|, 
Gran|tebrug|ge and Hon|tyndon|e : mest plen|te of | depfenf, 
Ely of fairest place, of fairest scyte Rochestre, 
Ev|ene ajgayn Den|emarc ston|de i the con|tre of | Chiches|tre. 

Rob. Glouc. p. 6. 

We have now to consider those verses which end with 
the compound section ; and will begin with some exam- 
ples furnished by Csedmon. 

1 tr . £ . %f (/• Cm- 

forth on he sculde grand gesecan 
Heard | es hel|le witjes : thaes | the he wann ] with heof[nes 

therefore must he seek th' abyss 
Of dread hell-torment, since he warr'd with heaven s-weilder. 


+* V * O • O %>• Cm 

God sylfa wearth 
Miht|ig on modje yr|re : wearp hin|e on | that mor|ther in|nan„ 

God's mighty self became 
At heart enraged y he hurl'd him to that murderer's den 


2t:5l: ll.c. 

tfcaer he haefth mon geworhtne 
fflt jter his on|licnis|se : mid tham | he wil|e eft | geset|tan 
Heofona rice mid hlutrum saulum. 


there he hath man y wrought 
After his likeness $ with whom he wills again to people 
Heaven's realm with shining souls. Cced. 

hchs|ta heofjones wal|dend : wearp hin|e of | than he|an sto|le. 

The highest Heaven-wielder hurl'dhim from the lofty seat. 


This kind of verse is to be found in Layamon. 

7 : 1 : 9 I. c. 
To Bath I e com | the Kaisejre : and | bilai | thene cas|tel therje, 
To Bath came the Kaiser, and beset the castle there. Lay. 

2:6:6. e. 
Ferjde geond al | Scotland] : and setjte it an [ his ag|ere hand). 

He went through all Scotland, and brought it under his own hand. 


Phaer and Chapman also used similar rhythms; the 
latter more sparingly than the former. 

*y • o • %} • c 

Then for disdaine, for on themselves their owne worke Jove did 

Their sis I ter craw | lyd furth| : both swift | of feete | and wight | of 


A mon|sterghast|ly great] : for evjery plume | her car|cas beares], 

Like number leering eyes she hath, like number harckning eares. 


Great Atreus' sonnes ! said he. 
And all | ye wellj-griev'd Greekes] : the Gods | whose hab|ita|tions 

In heavenly houses, grace your powers with Priam's razed town, 
And grant ye happy conduct home. Chapman. 

Seed of the Harpye ! in the charge ye undertake of us, 
Discharge | it not | as when | ; Patroc| | left dead | in field]. 


Verses of seven accents are not unfrequently met with 
in the loose metre used by our dramatists. Such as begin 


with the compound section appear to have been most 
favoured. There can be little doubt that Shakespeare's text 
has suffered from the attempts, which have been made by 
his editors, to remove these seeming anomalies. Some- 
times we find a word dropt, or altered, and at other times 
the verse broken up into fragments, in order to bring it 
within the limits of the ordinary rhythms. For example, 
in the folio of 1625, there is the following passage : 

We speak no treason man, we say the King 
Is wise and virtuous ; and his noble Queen 
Well struck in years ; fair, and not jealous , 
We say that Shore's wife hath a pretty foot, 
A cher|ry lip|, a bon|ny eye| : a passing pleas|ing tongue], 
And the Queen's kindred are called, gentlefolks. R 3, 1. 1. 

The difference in the flow of the two last verses was 
certainly not accidental. The libertine sneer upon the 
wretched mistress, was to be contrasted with the bitter 
sarcasm levelled at more formidable, and therefore more 
hated rivals. But in the text, as " corrected" by Steevens, 
this happy turn of the rhythm is lost ; 

Wc say that Shore's wife hath a pretty foot, 

A cherry lip, 

A bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue, 

And the Queen's kindred are called gentlefolks. 

In BoswelTs edition of Malone's Shakespeare we have 
the line written, as in the folio, with seven accents. But 
in neither of the editions do the notes give the reader the 
slightest hint of any interference with the text, either for 
the purposes of amendment or of restoration ! 

The poets of the seventeenth century occasionally intro- 
duced the verse of seven accents into their "heroic metre." 
But the change of rhythm was too violent. The license 
hardly survived the age of Dryden. 

Let such a man begin without delay, 
But he must do beyond what I can say, 


Must above Milton's lofty flight prevail, 
Succeed | where great | Torqua|to r and | where great |er Spen|ser 
fail | . Sheffield. Essay on Poetry, 1st edition. 

In the second edition this line was altered to give Mil- 
ton the preference, when it quietly settled down into an 

They meet, they lead to church, the priests invoke 
The pow'rs, and feed the flames with fragrant smoke, 
This done, they feast, and at the close of flight 
By kindled torches vary their delight, 
These | lead the livejly dance [ : and those | the brim|ming bowls | 
invite|. Cymon and Iphegenia. 

It will be observed that each of these verses ends with 
the compound section. 


The longest verse which has been used to form any 
English metre, is the one of eight accents. This unwieldy 
rhythm was not unknown in the seventeenth century, and 
according to Webbe " consisteth of sixteen syllables, each 
two verses ryming together, thus : 

Wher virtue wants and vice abounds, there wealth is but a baited 

To make men swallow down their bane, before on danger deepe 

they looke/' 

Even at that period this metre was " not very much used 
at length." The couplet was more commonly divided into 
the stave of eight and eighty in which shape it is still 
flourishing in our poetry. 

In his longer rhythms Credmon not unfrequently inserts 
a couplet of eight accents ; of which five, were sometimes 
given to the one section, and three to the other ; as, 

7 :S:6lLc. 

Big stand |ath me strangle geneat|as : tha | ne wiljlath me aet | tham 

strithje geswicjan, 
Haelethas hardmode. 


By me stand liegemen strong, they that will not at the strife fail 

Heroes stalwart. Cadmon. 

But in the great majority of cases the accents are equally 
divided, each section taking four. It is highly probable 
that this was owing to the ecclesiastical chaunts ; and that 
the Latin metre of four accents, which, if not invented, 
was chiefly cultivated by the celebrated Ambrose Bishop 
of Milan, had already begun to exercise an influence over 
our English rhythms. 

1:51. c: 11:11. c. 

Worh|teman | him hit | towit|e : hyr|awor|uld waes [ gehwyrf|ed. 
They wrought them this for punishment -, their world was changed I 

1 / : 1 /. c : 5 : 5 I. c. 

Deor|e waes | he drihtjne ur|e : ne mih|te him | bedyrnjed 

That his engyl ongan ofermod wesan. * 

Dear was he to our Lord, nor might from him be hidden, 
That his angel gan to wax o'er-proud. Cad. 

II: 111. c : 2:51. c. 

Gif | he brec|ath his | gebod|scipe : thon|ne he him | aboljgen 

If he break his commandment, then he gainst him enrag'd becomes. 

2 :6l : 5 I: 61. 
He let him swa micles wealdan, 
Hehst|ne to him | on heof |ona ric|e : haef |de he hinje swa hwit|ne 

He let him so mickle weild, 

Next to himself in heaven's realm j he had him so purely wrought 

21:11. c t 11:1 I.e. 

Hwy sceal ic aefter his hyldo theowian, 
Bug|an him swil|ces geong|ordom|es : ic | maeg wes|an God | swa 


Why must I for his favour serve — 
Bow to him with such obedience } I may be God as he. 


Frynd synd hie mine georne, 
Holjde on hyr|a hyg|e-sceaf|tum : ic | maeg hyr|a hear|ra wes'an. 

Friends are they of mine right truly, 
Faithful in their hearts deep councils j I may their liege lord be. 


Ac niot|ath inc | thaes oth|res ealjles ; forlaetjath thon|e aen|ne 

But enjoy ye all the other — leave ye that one tree. Cad. 

5 : 5 //. c : 1 : 6 I. c. 

Swa wyn|lic waes | his waestm | on heof|onum : that | him com | from 

wer|oda driht|ne. 
So precious was the meed in heaven, came to him from the Lord of 

Hosts. Cced. 

6:5 I. c. : 1 / : 5 /• c. 

JEnne haefde he swa swithne.gehworthtne, 
Swa miht|igne on | his mod | gethoh|te : he | let hinjeswa mic|les 

One had he so mighty wrought, 
So powerful in his mind's thought — he let him so mickle wield. 


These verses are also to be found in the psalm metres of 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Robert of Glou- 
cester used them very freely in his Chronicle. 

King Wyllam was to milde men debonere y nou, 
Ac to men that hym with sede to al sturnhede he drou, 
In chyrchje he was | devout y nou| : vorhym | ne ssoljde non day| 

That he | ne hur|de mas|se and mat|yns : and ev|eson | and ech|e 
tyd|e. R. Glou. 369. 



Cndmon occasionally uses couplets, which contain nine, 
or even wore than nine acce nts , 

1 1: 2JLc. : 1 : 5. c. 

Aad J heebie for sccop drih'tea todcofhn: for | theahee | kit 

dcd| udwoid; 
XoMoa weerthna. 

Aad Aea afl the Lord tnashaped to fieads* for that therhiidecd 

aad word, 
WbaM aot worehip- G*L 

S:6/.c : 1/: l//.r. 

He** hcfde he *t | h» War™, gewaaacn : hylda hxfde 

Hate ha* he 6a» hk Locd Y-w*a ; kb foiaar had 

In the iouowiiigr couplet we hare as many as iaaefar 

Aad xe«iae hs ferktae 
Ttos kaaesnW \ he has | <• J this kit* 
ktehe [ kbkcae 

Far the ■**»* he Ian it feht hat cm thee hal he k* 

a. G 

T*sese fccr AyrHrc* may be traced tfarreci cor Etna- 
tare,, till they ceded ca tfae &e*prel tosts* wisch 

pcs~rothe nasai rf ha Cfcwas* azsi Swift 

"£. - > 

n> fee wasted far. 




gives a character so very marked and peculiar to those 
rhythms into which it enters, as makes the consideration 
of them apart from the others, not only a matter of con- 
venience, but almost of necessity. We have, therefore, 
-reserved the present chapter for tracing the history, and 
noticing the peculiarities, of those sections which admit the 


As to the origin of this pause, I have already ventured 
an opinion. I think it owes its existence, in our poetry, 
to the emphatic stop ; but as the question is one of diffi- 
culty, and as I may have occasion hereafter to refer to 
some of the reasons, which lead me to this conclusion, I 
make no apology for laying those reasons at some length 
before the reader. 

In the earlier and primitive languages, we find the 
intonation of words a matter of very high importance. 
In the Greek and Latin, there are many words which have 
nothing else to distinguish them, but the tone ; thus the 
Latin ne> when it signified not, was pronounced with a 
sharp tone — when it signified lest, with a grave one ; or to 
speak with greater precision, it was pronounced, in the 
first case, more sharply than the ordinary pitch of the 
voice, and more gravely in the latter. In the Chinese, 
there are monosyllables, with no less than five distinct 
meanings, according to the tone which is given them ; 


and those, who have heard them pronounced by a native, 
will readily understand the immense resources, which may 
thus be placed within the reach of language. I am not, 
however, aware that these differences of tone have ever been 
applied to the purposes of construction. There does not 
seem to have been any relative and subordinate intona- 
tion in a sentence ; a word had its tone fixed, and this it 
retained, whatever its position. 

Whether the metrical arsis heightened the tone of the 
syllable on which it fell, has been doubted. Bentley 
thought it did ; but later critics have seen reason to ques- 
tion his opinion ; and as it must often interfere with the 
verbal tone, their objections are entitled to much weight. 
There are, however, passages in the old grammarians, which 
favour the notion of there having been some change in the 
voice. May not the arsis have been marked by a stress, 
resembling our modern accent? If this were so, the 
change from the temporal to the accentual rhythm, in the 
fourth century, would be natural and easy ; the same syl- 
lable taking the accent in the new rhythm, which (accord- 
ing to Bentley and Dawes) received the arsis in the old. 

With this exception (if it be one), I know no instance 
in the Greek and Latin, where an alteration either in the 
tone or loudness of the voice, has been used for pur- 
poses of construction or of rhythm. The tone seems to 
have been a mere accident of the word; and had no 
influence on the sentence, further than as it contributed 
to its harmony. The stress of the voice seems to have 
been employed solely for the purposes of emphasis ; and 
was certainly considered by Quintilian as reducible to no 
system, for he leaves the learner to gather from expe- 
rience, " quando attollenda vel submittenda sit vox." 
Had the stress of voice been in any way dependent on 
the construction, its laws might have been readily ex- 
plained ; and would have certainly fixed the attention of a 
people who scrutinized the peculiarities of their language 
with so much care. 


But though I can find no system of accents like our 
own, in these kindred languages, yet there are reasons 
for believing, that our present accentuation has been 
handed down to us from a very remote antiquity. We 
find it reduced to a system in our Anglo-Saxon rhythms ; 
and its wide prevalence in the other Gothic dialects, 
points clearly to an origin of even earlier date. The pre- 
cision of the laws, which regulated the accents in Anglo- 
Saxon verse, is one of the most striking features of their 
poetry. We find none of those licentious departures 
from rule,* which are so common in the old English, 
and are occasionally met with, even in our later dia- 
lect. It may be questioned, if any primary accent were 
doubtfulf in the Anglo-Saxon ; at any rate, the limits of 
uncertainty must have been extremely narrow. 

In modern usage, we sometimes hear a w'ord accented, 
though it immediately adjoin upon an accented syllable ; 
especially when it contains a long vowel-sound. The 
rhythm of Sackville's line, 

Their great | crujelty : and the deepe bloodshed 
Of friends 

is not without example, in the every-day conversation of 
many persons, who have accustomed themselves to a slow 
and emphatic mode of delivery. Were this practice generally 
sanctioned by that of our earlier and more perfect dialect, 
we might infer, with some plausibility, that our English ac- 
cents were at one time, like those of the Greek and Latin, 
strictly verbal ; and that the sectional pause was a conse- 
quence, which followed naturally from the system of ac- 
centuation, originally prevalent in our language. But 

* The widest departure from the common rhythm of the language which 
the Anglo-Saxon poet allowed himself, was owing to the frequent use of the 
sectional pause. We shall have more to say on this head shortly. 

f There are perhaps instances, in which the same sentence has been dif- 
ferently accentuated. But this may be owing to a difference of dialect. The 
Anglo-Saxon author is, I believe, always consistent with himself. 

VOL. I. U 


there are grounds for believing, that in the Anglo-Saxon 
the stress on the adjective was always subordinate to that 
on the substantive. In nine cases out of ten, it was 
clearly subordinate ; in no case is it found predominant;* 
and when with the aid of the sectional pause, it takes the 
accent, there is, in the great majority of cases, an evident 
intention on the part of the poet, to use the pause for 
the purposes of emphasis — the substantive, in all proba- 
bility, still keeping the stronger accent. There are, in- 
deed, instances of the sectional pause, where it is cer- 
tainly not used as an emphatic stop ; but these, I believe, 
are, for the most part, found in poems of inferior merit, 
or in those artificial rhythms f which were probably in- 
vented in the course of the ninth and tenth centuries. 
They may perhaps be laid to the account of carelessness 
or of incapacity, and ranked with those cases, where the 
ordinary rhythm of the language has been made to yield 
to the rhythm of its poetry. These exceptions may shake, 
but I do not think they are sufficiently numerous to over- 
turn, the hypothesis that has been started. 

Having thus given the reasons, which incline me to 
the opinion already stated as to the origin of the pause, I 
shall now proceed to range in order, those sections into 
which it enters. If we consider the pause as filling the 
place of an unaccented syllable, we may use nearly the 
same notation to indicate the rhythm, as hitherto. We 
have merely to show the presence of the pause, by the 
addition of a p. Thus the section we have already quoted 
from Sackville, 

Their great | crujeltie. 
would be represented by the formula, 5 11. p* 

* When the adjective has a stronger accent than its substantive, it always 
forms part of a compound, and is no longer subject to inflexion, 
f Conybeare's rhiming poem, for example. 



Sections, which admit the pause, may be divided into 
two classes, accordingly as they contain two or three 
accents. When the section contains only two, the pause 
cannot change its position, for it must fall between the 
accented syllables; but as the section may vary both its 
beginning and its end no less than three different ways, it 
admits of nine varieties. Of these six have established 
themselves in English literature, to wit, 1 I. p. 1 11. p. 
5. p. 5 Lp. 5 11. p. 

Whether the section I. p. were known in Anglo-Saxon, 
is a matter of some doubt. In Beowulf, there is the 

Spra&c|tha| : ides Scyldinga. 

Spake then the Scylding's Lady 

and in Csedmon, 148, we have, 

Thy laes him westengryre, 
Har | haethj : holmegum wederum 

Lest them the desert- horror — - 
The hoar heath— with deluging storms 

The lengthened section, 1 /. p. is somewhat more com- 

Tha on dunum gesaet — 
Earc | Nojes : the Armenia 
Hatene syndon. 

Then on the downs rested 
Noah's arc — they Armenia 
Are night Cad. 71. 

See also, 

Faer ) No|es. Cad. 66. 

The section 1 p. was never common. It was chiefly 
used by our dramatists ; and more particularly in their 
faery dialect. 

u 2 


On the ground 
Sleep | sound | ! 
I '11 apply 
To your eye, 
Gentle lover, remedy. 
When thou wak'st, 
Thou | tak'st| 
True delight 
In the sight 
Of thy former lady's eye. M. N. D. 3. 2. 

Up and down, every where, 

I strew these herbs to purge the air, 

Let vour odour : drive I hencel 

All | mists| : that dazzle seuse. FL Fa. Sh. 3. 1. 

Mark what radiant state she spreads 
In circle round her shining throne, 
Shooting her beams, like silver threads ; 
This | this | : is she alone, 

Sitting like a goddess bright, 

In the centre of her light. Arcades. 

This is the only instance of the section in Milton, who 
doubtless borrowed it from Fletcher. The propriety of 
Shakespeare's rhythm will be better understood, if we 
suppose (what was certainly intended) that the fairy is 
pouring the love-juice on the sleeper's eye, while be pro- 
nounces the words, "Thou tak'st." The words form, 
indeed, the fairy's " charm," and the rhythm is grave and 
emphatic as their import. I cannot think, with Tyrwhitt, 
that the line would be improved, "both in its measure 
and construction, if it were written thus : 

See | thou tak'st|."* 

I know not how the construction is bettered, and the 
correspondence, no less than the fitness of the numbers, 
is entirely lost. Seward, in like manner, took compassion 
upon the halting verses of Fletcher. His corrections af- 
ford, us an amusing specimen of conjectural criticism. 

Let your odour : drive | from henee| 
All | mistes : that dazzle sense ! 


Fletcher, like Shakespeare, had a charm to deal with; 
and, to gain the same object, he used the same rhythm. 

The sections 1. p. and 1 1, p. are both of them to be 
found in Spenser's August ; but the strange rhythm 
which he adopted in his roundle can only be considered as 
an experiment. It would be idle to trace out every variety 
he has stumbled upon, in writing a metre for which he had 
no precedent, and in which he has had no imitator. 

The section 1 //. p. is peculiar to the Anglo-Saxon. In 
that dialect it is met with, not only among the short and 
rapid rhythms of Beowulf, but also in the stately numbers 
of Ceedmon ; and of all the pausing sections known to our 
earliest dialect, was the one most widely used. It is sin- 
gular it should so completely have disappeared from the 
early English^ I do not recollect one single instance of 
it in that dialect. 

We will begin with the couplet of four accents. 

Tha | theah|tode : theoden ure. Cad. 

Deop | dream jaleas : drib ten are. Cad. 

Beorn | bland | en feax ; bill geslehtes. 

Battle of Brunanburgh. 

mod | msegjnade : mine fsegnade. Rhim. Poem. 

Har | Hil|derinc : hreman ne thorfte. War Song. 

Sweart | syn]nilite : wide and side. Cad. 

Sweart | swith|rian : geond sidne grand. Cad. 

Treow | tel|gade ; tel | weljgade. Rhim. Poem. 

Gold | gear|wade : gim | hwear|fade. Same. 

Sine | sear|wade : sib | near|wade. Rhim. Poem. 

Faege feollon : feld | dynjede. War Song. 

Sar and sorge : susl | throw|edon. Cad. 

Ellen eacnade : ead | beac|nade. Rhim. Poem. 

haten for herigum : heo | ric|sode. Alf. 

The following are instances of this section, when found 
in the couplet of five accents. 


Hof | herjgode : hyge teonan wraec. Cad. 

Word | weorth|ian : haefdon wite micel. Cad. 

Ofor holmes hrincg : hof | sel[este. Cad. 

Tha com ofer fold an : fas | sithjian. Cad. 

Wlite bcorhte gesceaft : wel | licjode. ' Cad. 

ealra feonda gehwilc : fyr | ed|neowe. Cad* 

The section 5. p. was used by our dramatists in their 
faery dialect. It was also found in Sackville, and must, 
at one time, have taken deep root in the language, for it 
forms a striking feature in the staves of several popular 

Troy | ! Troy| J : there is no bote but bale, 
The hugie horse within thy walls is brought, 

Thy turrets fall. ' 

Sackville. M. for M. Induction, 65. • 

Let her fly, let her scape, 

Give again : her own I shape), Fl. Fa. Sh. 3. 1. 

1 do wander every where, 

Swifter than : the moons | sphere^. M . N. Dream. 

Wajrton, in quoting Sackville, added a third Troy, 

* * * ■ • * 

without authority from the poet, or notice to the reader. 
O Troy | ! Troy| ! Troy[ ! there is no bote but bale. 

The passages* he has thus corrupted are more numerous, 
and the corruptions mom serious than his late able editor 
suspected. They. would have. fully satisfied even the 
spleen of a Ritson, had it been his good fortune to have 
lighted on them. Steevens also, with that mischievous in- 
genuity which called down the happy ridicule of Gifford, 
thought fit to improve the metre of Shakespeare. He 
reads the line thus : 

Swifter than the moon|cs sphere). 

But the quarto of 1600, and the folio of 1623, are both 
against him. The flow of Shakespeare's line is quite in 


keeping with the peculiar rhythm which he has devoted 
to his fairies. It wants nothing from the critic but his 


Burns, in his " Lucy," has used this section often 
enough to give a peculiar character to his metre. 

O wat ye wha's : in yon | town|, 

Ye see the e'enin sun upon ) 

The fairest dame's : in yon | town|, 

That e'enin sun is shining on. 

The sun blinks blithe : on yon | town|, 
And on yon bonie braes of Ayr 3 
But my delight : in yon | town], 
And dearest bliss is Lucy fair, &c. 

Moore also, in one of his beautiful melodies, has used 
a compound stanza, which opens with a stave like Burns'. 
His stanza contains also other specimens of this section. 

While gazing : on the moon's | light|, 
A. moment from her smile I turn d, 
To look at orbs : that, more | bright], 
In lone and distant glory burn'd -, 
But too I farf 
Each proud J star] 
For me to feel its warming flame, 
Much more 1 dearj 
That mild | sphere] 
Which near our planet smiling came ; 
Thus Mary dear ! be thou my own, 

While brighter eyes unheeded play, 
1 11 love those moonlight looks alone 
Which bless my home, and guide my way. 

The day haJ sunk : in dim \ showers], 
But midnight now, with lustre meek, 
Illumined all : the pale | flowers], 

Like hope that lights a mourner's cheek. 
I said|, (while] 
The moon's | smile] 
Play'd o'er a stream, in dimpling bliss) 


" The moon | looks] 
On many brooks ; 
*' The brook can see no moon but this : " 
And thus, I thought, our fortunes run, 

For many a lover looks on thee ; 
While, oh ! I feel there is but one, 
One Mary in the world for me ! 

Sir Jonah Barrington tells us, in his Memoirs, that this 
singular stanza belonged to a well-known Irish song, which 
was popular some fifty years since. 

The section 5 I. p. was used from the earliest period to 
which we can trace our literature, down to the close of the 
sixteenth century. It is found in the almost perfect 
rhythms of Credmon, and in the majestic stanza which we 
owe to the genius of a Spenser. Sackville used it with a 
profusion, which has given a very marked character to his 
metre ; and there are grounds for suspecting that it was 
not altogether unknown to Milton. My search, however, in 
the works of this poet has hitherto been without success. 

Verses of four accents. 

On last | leg|dun : lathum theodum. War Song. 

The King | ef|tir : that he wes gane, 

To Louch-lomond the way has tane. Bruce, 2. 800. 

Stowe gestaefnde : tha stod | rathje. Cad. 

Thaet hi that rice : gereht | ha?f|don. A If. 

He is dead : and gone), La|dy, 

He is dead and gone ; 
At his head a green grass turf, 

At his heels a stone. Hamlet. 

A year or two ago there was published a book of songs, 
written on the model of the exquisite little pieces, which 
are scattered through the works of our dramatists. Many 
of these songs are extremely beautiful ; but the author 
seems to have caught more happily the spirit* than the 

* Certainly a much more important matter ! 


form of his originals ; to have followed the flow of thought 
and feeling much better than the rhythm. He must have 
been thinking of Shakespeare's metre when he wrote. 

Lady sing no more, 

Science is in vain, 

Till | the heart | be tonch'd|, Lady, 

And give forth its pain. 

But in the one stave, Lady forms an essential part of 
the rhythm, while it may be rejected from the other with- 
out doing it the slightest injury. It is, in fact, a mere 
pendant; and might as well have been written between 
the verses, as at the end of one of them. 

The section 51. p. is also common in verses of five 

His freond | frith |o : and gefean ealle. Cad. 

Our prince | Da|wy : the erle of Han tyn town 

Thre dochtrys had. Wall 64. 45. 

Compleyne | Lord|ys : compleyne yhe Ladys brycht, 
Compleyne for him, that worthi was and wycht. 

Wall 2. 226. 

The deepe | daunjger : that he so soon did feare. 

Sackville. M.for M. Buckm. 45. 

Whom great Macedo vanquisht there in sight, 
With deepe | slaughter : despoiling all his pride. 

Sackville. M.for M. Induction, 58. 

When Hannibal, 
And worthy Scipio last in armes were sene, 
Before Carthago gate, to try for all 
The worlds | em|pire : to whom it should befall. 

Sackville. M.for M. Induction, 60. 

Her eyes | swoljlen : with flowing stremes aflote. 

Sackville. Induction, L 3. 

The hugie hostes, Darias and his power, 

His kings), princ|e8 : his peeres and all his flower. 

Sack. Induction. 


What could binde 
The vaine | peojple : but they will swerve and sway. 

Sack. Buckingham. 62. 

Yet ween'd by secret signs of manliness. 
Which close appear'd in that rude brutishness, 
That he | whi|lom : some gentle swain had been. 

F.Q. 4.7.45. 

His land | mort|gag'd : he sea-beat in the way 
Wishes for home a thousand sithes a day. 

Hall Sat. 4. 6. 

Which parted thence, 
As pearls from diamonds dropt : in brief |, sorjrow 
Would be a rarity most belov'd, if all 
Could so become it. Lear, 4. 3. 

With all my heart, good Thomas : I have), Thorn | as, 
A secret to impart unto you. 

B. Jons. Ev. M. in his H. 2.3. 

Make your own purpose 
How in my strength you please : for you|, Edjmund, 
Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant 
So much commend itself, you shall be ours. Lear, 2. 1 . 

Our dramatists very commonly placed a pause before 
the last accent, when they ended the verse with the name 
or title of the person addressed. There are three or four 
examples of this practice among the verses last quoted, 
and we shall meet with others as we proceed further. 

THE SECTION 5 11. p. 

is found in the old English metre of four accents, and in 
the works of our dramatists. It was also used by other 
writers of the sixteenth century, more especially by Sack- 
ville. In the Anglo-Saxon it is of very rare occurrence, 
but is occasionally met with ; 

Him tha secg hrathe: gewat | sith|ian. 

Then a soldier quickly gan speed him. Cad. 94. 


'■ Whan corn ripeth in every steode, 
Mury bit is in feld and hyde $ 
Synne hit is and schame to chide ; 
Knightis wolleth on huntyng ride ; 
Thedeor | gal|opith : by wodis side, &c. Alesaunder, 1. 460. 

Yet saw I Scilla and Marius where they stood 
Their greate | cru|eltee : and the deepe bloodshed 
Offrends. Sqck. M.forM. Induction. 

O Jove ! to thee, above the rest I make 
My humble playnt, guide me that what I speake 
May be thy will upon this wretch to fall, 
' On thee I ! Ban[istaire : wretch of wretches all. 
J v Sack. Buckingham, 92. 

> Remove | mys|terie : from religion, : 

From godly fear all superstition. Putt. Parth. 

Have you yourselves, Somerset, Buckingham, 
Brave York|, Salisbury : and victorious Warwick, 
Receiv'd deep scars, &c. 2 H. 6, 1. 1. 

O ) who hath done 
This<feed| } — ^Nojbody ? I myself, farewell! Othello, 5. 2. 

But room), fa|e"ry : here comes Oberon. ' ' 

And here my mistress,' would that he waagonej .. 

M.N. P. 2. 1. 

The verses 51. pi 5. anfl SlLipiU contain}, each of 
them, ten syllables. This, was doubtless -the reason of the 
forbearance shown to them by our classical writers of the 
sixteenth century. 


In the section of three accents th$ p$upe m&y fell be- 
tween the first and second accented syllables, between the 
second and third, or in froth these places. JW$ might 
provide for these three possible contingencies by dividing 
the pausing sections (like the rhiming sections,*) into 
three classes. But, in fact, the two first classes are alone 

* See page 133. 


met with in our literature, none of our sections containing 
two pauses.* 


is occasionally found in Angle-Saxon poems, of the first 
class ; 

Hremmas wundon, 
Earn | aesjes geornj : waes on eorthan cyrm. 

The ravens wheel'd around — 
The era, greedy for its prey ; their scream was on the earth. 

Battle of Malcion. 

and very commonly of the second class, when lengthened ; 

Thurh | geweald | Godjes : wuldres bearnum Cad. 

Waes | min dream | driht|lic : drohtad hihtlic. 

Riming Poem. 

Thurh | his word | wes|an : waeter gemsene. Cad. 

Ojfer scild | scot | en : swilce scottisc eac. War Song. 

Us | is riht | uric | el : thaet we rodera weard. Cced. 

geomregastas : waes | him gylp | for|od! Cced. 

modes mynlan : o|fer maegth | guin|ge. Alf. 

Sah to setle : thser | la?g secg | maen|ig. Cced* 

Godes ahwurfon : hsef|don gielp | mic|el Cad. 

gewendan mid wihte : that | hie word | God|es. Cad. 

And glosed his Gospel : as | hem good | lik|ed. P. P. 

Worching and wandring : as | the world | as|keth. P.P. 

* It is nought by the bishop : that [ the boy | prech|ed. 


O there are divers reasons : to | dissuade |, broth |er. 

B. Jons. Ev. M. in his H. 2. 1. 

* Sydney has used them in the song quoted at page 155. But he adopted 
this singular rhythm, avowedly, as an experiment. 


This section is sometimes, though but rarely, found 
doubly lengthened. 

Mennisces metes : ac | he ma | luf|edon. Alf. 


can only be of the second class. It is found both in Anglo- 
Saxon rhythms and in the old English alliterative metre. 

cwaeth | that bis lie | wer|e : leoht and scene. Cced. 

Her sire Typhaeus was, who mad with lust, 
And drunk with blood of men, slain by his might 
Through incest her of his own mother Earth 
Whil|om begot|, be|ing: but half | twin of | that birth|. 

F. Q. 3. 7. 47. 

I shop me into shrowdes : as | I a shepe | wer[e. P. P. 

There preched a pardonor : as | he a preoste | werje. 


And hadde leve to lize : al|le here lif | af|tur. 


Whatsays the other troop ! : They | are dissolv'dj, hang|'em. 

Cor. 1. 1. 


is more rare, but is occasionally met with 5 and, of course, 
must be of the first class. 

thrang | thrys|tre genip| : tham the se theoden self. 


heold I heof ona frea| : tha hine halig God. Cad. 

You shall close prisoner rest, 

Till that the nature of your fault be known 

To the Venetian state : come | bring | him along] . 

Oth. 5. 2. 

Where be these knaves ? What| ! no | man at door|, 
To hold my stirrup, nor to take my horse ? 

T. of the Shrew, 4. 1. 


The section 5 p. is rare. It is found, however, in the 
old romance of Sir Tristrem, and was not unknown to the 

The folk | stood | unfain | The folk stood sad 

Befor that levedi fre, Before that lady free, 

" Rowland my Lord is slain, « Roland my lord is slain, 
He speketh no more with me." He speaketh no more with me.*' 

Tristr. 1 . 22. 

TheDouke | an|swer'd then|, The Duke answer'd then, 
" I pray mi Lord so fre, * "I pray my Lord so free, 

Whether thou bless or ban, Whether thou bless or curse, 

Thin owen mot it be." Thine own may it be." 

Trist. 1.77. 

hseste hrinon : ac hie | hal|ig God|. Cad. 

hyge hreoweth : that hie | heof|on ric|e. Coed. 

A modern poet has used this section in one of those 
songs which have been already mentioned, and which re- 
call, so vividly, the lyrical outpourings of our dramatists. 
The propriety of doing so may, however, admit of some 
question. Even in the sixteenth century, when the sec- 
tional pause was common, it was seldom introduced into 
a sonff 9 unless its place in the rhythm was marked out by 
some regular law. To introduce it at random now, when 
the pause is obsolete, seems little better than throwing a 
needless difficulty in the way of the reader. How many 
persons would read the following lines, for the first time, 
without a blunder ? 

The brand is on thy brow, 
A dark and guilty spot, 
'Tis ne'er to be erased, 
'Tis ne'er to be forgot. 

The brand is on thy brow, 
Yet I must shade the spot, 
For who will love thee now 
If I | love | thee not| > 


Thy soul is dark, is stain'd, 

From out the bright world thrown, 

By God and man disdain'd, 

But not by me — thy own. The Felon's Wife. 

The section 5./?, when lengthened, is met with of the 
second class, not only in the Auglo-Saxon, but also in the 
old English alliterative metre, and the works of our dra- 
matists. In this last division of our literature, we occa- 
sionally find it without the lengthening syllable. 

In that it sav'd me, keep it. In like necessity, 
Which God protect thee from : it may | protect | thee|. 

Per. 2. h 

What shall I be appointed hours, as though belike 
I knew not which to take : and what | to leave, | ha| ? 

Tarn, of the S. ]. h 

— — Are bees 
Bound to keep life in drones : and i|dle moths ] ? No|. 

Ben Jons. Ev. M. out of his H. 1. 3. 

These examples, however, are very rare. The length- 
ened section is common. 

Duk Morgan was blithe Duke Morgan was blithe 

Tho Rouland Riis was doun, When Roland Riis was down, 

He sent | his sonde | swith|e, He sent his mesenger quickly, 

And bad all shuld be boun. And bade all should be boun. 

And to his lores lithe, And to his bests attend, 

Redi to his somoun, Ready at his summons, 

Durst non again him kithe, Durst none against him strive, 

Bot yalt him tour and town. But yielded him tow*r and town. 

Tristr. 1 . 24. 

To sek|e seint | Jam[e : and seintes at Rome. 

P. Ploughman. 

But on | a May | Mor|we ; upon Malverne hilles. 

P. Ploughman* 

Nay more | than this], brother : if I should speak, 

He would be ready, &c. B. Jons. Ev. M. in his H. 2. 1. 


beorhte blisse : waes heor'ablapd | micjel. Cad. 

gaestes snytru : thy laes | bim gielp | scetbjae. Ex. MSS. 

A love of mine ? I would : it were | no worse), broth |er. 

B. J. Ev. M. in his H. 2. 3. 

Hark what I say to you : I must | go forth |, Thorn | as. 

Same, 4. 3. 

It may here be observed, that if the section of an 
Anglo-Saxon couplet take the pause, the alliteration almost 
always falls on the syllable which precedes it. If the allite- 
ration be double, it falls also (with very few exceptions) 
upon the syllable which follows the pause. These obser- 
vations will also apply to the old English alliterative 


admits of only one form. From the peculiar nature of 
the rhythm, the pause must fall between the first and se- 
cond accented syllables. 

Of all those sections which contain the pause, this is 
the one which has played the most important part in our 
literature. It is rarely met with in the Anglo-Saxon, 
but was very generally used by our old English poets^ 
by the poets of the Elizabethan eera, by Shakespeare, 
and by Milton. It is the only one of our pausing sec- 
tions which survived the sixteenth century, and it is found 
occasionally re-appearing even after Milton's death. 
Burns has used it once — probably the last time it has 
been patronized by any of our classical writers. 

This section occurs so frequently, as to render necessary 
a more careful arrangement than we have hitherto found 
practicable. We shall begin with the verse of three ac- 
cents, of which several examples are found in the ro- 
mance of Tristrera. 



The forster, for his rihtes, ' The forester for his rights 

The left | shul|der yaf he|, The left shoulder gave he, 

Wit hert | liv|er and )igh|tes, With heart, liver and lights, 

And blod till he quirre. And blood for his share. 

Tristr. 1. 46. 

Mi fader me hath forlorn, My father hath me lost, 

Sir Rohant sikerly, Sir Rohant truly, 

The best | blow|er of horn |, The best blower of horn, 

And king of venery. And king of venery. 

Tristr. 1 . 49. 

" Your owhen soster him bare" Your own sister bare him, 
The king | lith|ed him then|, — The king listened then — 
I n'am sibbe him na mar, I am akin to him no more, 

Ich aught to ben his man. I ought to be his man. 

Tristr. 1. 

Among the verses of five accents^ which contain this 
section, 7j» : 5 is the one the most commonly met with in 
our poetry. The orthodox number of its syllables, is 
doubtless one of the causes of its popularity. 

1 have this day ben at your churche at messe, 

And said a sermon to my simple wit, 

Not all | af|ter the text, : of ho|ly writ]. Sompnoures Tale. 

The Mar | kep|yt the post| : of that | willagej 
Wallace knew weill, and send him his message. 

Wallace, 4. 360. 

He callyt Balyoune till answer for Scotland, 

The wyss | lord ys gert him| : sone brek | that band]. 

Wallace, 1. 75. 

And cry'd | mer|cy sir Knight; : and mer|cy Lord|. 

F. Q. 2. 1. 27. 

At last | turnjing her fear| : to fooljish wrath), 

She ask'd— F. Q. 3. 7. 8. 

Cupid their eldest brother, he enjoys 

The wide | kingjdom of love) : with lord|ly sway|. 

F. Q. 4. 1 0. 42. 

VOL. I. X 


So peace j be|ing confirm'dj : amongst | tbegi allj, 

They took their steed*— F. Q. f>. 4. 39. 

What man is he that boasts of fleshly might, 
And vain assurance of mortality, 
Which all so soon as it doth come to fight 
Against | spiritual foesj : yields by | and by], 

F. Q. 1. 10. 1. 

Let not light see my black and deep desires, 

The eye | wink | at the hand] : yet let | that bej, 

Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. Macb. 1.4. 

The owl | shriek'd | at thy birth : an e|vil sign|. 

3 H 6, 5. 6. 

Be a man ne'er so vile, 

If he can purchase but a silken cover, 

He shall not only pass, but pass regarded ; 

Whereas | let | htm be poor| : and meanlycladj, &c. 

B.J Ev. M. in his H. 3. 9. 

But far | be | it from me| : to spill | the blood | 

Of harmless maids. FL F. Sh. 3. 1 . 

None else can write so skilfully to shew 

Your praise] ; ag'es shall pay) : yet still | must owe. 

Geo. Lucy to Ben Jons* on the Alchemist. 

Anon | out | of the eartlij : a fa | brie huge| 

Rose like an exhalation. P. L. \ . 

A mind | not | to be chang'd| : by place | or time). P. L. 

Bird, beast | , injsect or worm| : durst en'ter none). P. L. 4. 

And when a beest is ded he hath no peine, 

But man | af|terhis deth| : mote we|pe and pleinje. 

Knightes Tale. 

Writings all tending to *he great opinion 

That Rome | holds | of his name| : wherein J obscure|ly 

Caesar's ambition shall be glanc'd at. /. Cas. 1 . 2. 

Bat since, | time | andthetruth| : have wak'd | myjudgjment. 

B.J.Ev. M.inhisH. 1. 1. 


The verse T p *• 2 is more rare. 

Yet saw 1 Silla and Marios where they stood 
Their greate crueltie, and the deepe bloudshed 
Of friends) -, Cyrjus I saw| : and | his host dead). 

Sackville. M.for M. Induction, 61 . 

Tis good, [ go | to the gate| : some j body knocks |. 

Jul. C&s. 2. 2 

In rage|,deep | as the sea| : ha«|ty as fire|. R. 2, 1. 1. 

So spake | Israel's true king| : and | to the fiend | 

Made answer meet. P. 22. 3. 440. 

He speaks, f let | us draw near| : matchjless in might|, 
The glory late of Israel, now the grief. Samson Agon. 

The section 7j>. is also found in the verse of six ac- 
cents ; 7jp : 5 was the most usual combination. 

She almost fell again into a swonnd, 
Ne wist I whethler above] : she were | or un|der ground|. 

F. Q. 4. 7. 9. 

I pray thee now, my son, 

Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand, 
Thy knee | buss|ing the stones| : for in | such bus|iness| 
Action is eloquence. C° r - 3 - l • 

Much care is sometimes necessary to discover this sec- 
tion, when it ends the verse ; owing to the license which 
certain of our poets allow themselves, in the management 
of their pauses. There is danger of confounding the mid- 
dle pause with the sectional. We shall first give exam- 
ples of the verse 2 : 7 P- and then of the verse 5 : 1 p. 

Waljlace scho said| : that full | worth|y has beyne|, 

Than wepyt scho that pete was to seyne. Wallace, 2. 335. 

Thre yer in pess the realme stude desolate, 

Guhairlfor thair raiss| : a full | grew ous debate|. 

H ! Wallace, 1. 43. 

When merchant-like I sell revenge, 

Broke I be my sword I ! : my arms | torn | and defaced) ! 

1 2H.6,4.]. 



5 : 7 P* 

Qhuasperd|, scho said| ; to Saint | Marg[ret thai socht| 
Qhua ser|wit hir|. Full gret | frendjschipe thai fand| 
With Sothran folk, for scho was of Ingland. 

Wallace, 1. 283. 
And next in order sad, old age wee found, 
His beard | all hoare] : his eyes | hol|Iow and bleared |, 
With drouping chere still poring on the ground. 

Sackville. M.forM. Induction, 43. 

Thrice happy mother, and thrice happy morn, 

That bore | three such | : three such | not | to be found. 

F. Q. 4. 2. 41. 
I should be still 

Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads : 

And every object that might make me fear 

Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt 

Would make | me sad|. Salar. — My wind | cooljing my broth| 

Would blow me to an ague, when I thought 

What harm a wind too great might do at sea. 

3f. of Venice, 1. I. 

The lengthened section 7 /. p. is as common as the one 
we have been considering* It has been used by Shake- 
spear as a complete verse. 

If you dare fight to-day, come to the field, 

If not | when | you have stom|achs. Jul. Cos. 5. 1. 

But it was the verse 7 l.p i 1 that spread it most 
widely through our literature. In this verse it was used 
by our dramatists, and by Milton : and may be traced far 
into the eighteenth century. 

For the dearth — 

The Gods, | not | the patricjians: make | it, and| 

Your knees to them, not arms must help. Cor. 1.1. 

Must I of force be married to the County, 

No, no|, this | shall forbid | it : lie | thou there |. 

Rom. and Jul. 4. 2. 
Your father were a fool 

To give thee all, and in his waning age 

Set foot | un|der thy ta|ble : tut | a toy| ! 

Tarn, of the Shrew, 2. 1. 


One that dares 

Do deeds | worth|y the hurjdle : or | the wheel |. 

B. Jons. Cynthia's Revels, 3* 4. 

More foul diseases than e'er yet the hot * 

Sun bred | , thorough his burajings : while | thedog| 

Pursues the raging lion. Fl. Fa. Sheph. 1. 2. 

Whose veins | like | a dull rivjer ; far | from springs | 

Is still the same, dull, heavy, and unfit, 

For stream or motion. Fl. Fa. Sheph. 1 . 2. 

And to despise, or envy, or suspect, 

Whom God | hath | of his spec|ial : fajvour rais*d[ 

As their deliverer. Sams. 

Light the day and darkness night, 

He nam'd|, thus | was the first [ day: ev'n | and mornf. 

P. L. 7. 252. 

That all 

The sentence, from thy head remov'd, may light 

On me, the cause to thee, of all this woe, 

Me, me | on]ly, just obpect : of | his ire|. P. L. 10. 936. 

Me also he hath judg'd, or rather 

Me not|, but | the brute ser|pent : in | whose shape | 

Man I deceiv'd. P. L. 10. 494. 

I go to judge 

On earth | these | thy transgressors : but | thou know'stj 
Whoever judg'd, the worst on me must light. P. L. 1 0. 72. 

Shall he | nurs'd | in the Peasant's : low|ly shed|, 
To hardy independence bravely bred, 
Shall he be guilty of these hireling crimes, 
The servile mercenary, Swiss of rhymes I 

Burns' Brig of Jyr. 

The following are instances of the same verse length- 

This ilke monk let olde thinges pace 

And held | af|tir the new|e : world | the tracje. Chau. ProL 


Sprung from the deep ; and from her native east 
To journey through the aery gloom began, 


Spher'd in a radiant cloud, for yet the son 
Was not| ; she | in adondjy : tab|en»a|€le 
Soj*cini*d the while. P. L. 7. 245. 

Wherever fountain or fresh current flw'd, 

1 drank), from | the fresh m*r|ky - juiee f aHay|tng 

Thirst. Samson Agon. 

Surrey luis given us an example of the verse * l.p i$. 

The fishes flete with newe repayred scale, 
The adder all her slough away she Hinges, 
The swift I swallow pursujeth : the fly|es smale|- 

Description of Spring. 

These are the principal combination in which the sec- 
tion 7 I' P* is met with. Others, however, have occasion- 
ally been found, more especially in the old English allite- 
rative metre. Thus Dunbar, in his " Twa mariit women 
and the wedo" gives ua an example of the verse 7 Upi2L 

I hard | un|der ane hoI|yn : hewm|rie green hew | it. 


Such examples, however, are rare. 

Before I close a book, which treats thus fufly of the 
rhythm of English verse, it may be expected that I should 
notice a series of works, which have been published dur- 
ing the last thirty years, on the same subject, by men^ 
some of whose names are not unknown to the public. 
These writers entertain a very humble opinion of those 
" prosodians," " who scan English verse, according to the 
laws of Greek metre," and they divide our heroic line, not 
into five feet, but into six cadences ! They are not, how- 
ever, so averse to foreign terms, as might have been looked 
for. With them rhythm is rkgthmus, and an elided syl- 
lable, an apogiatura. One of these critics assures us, 
that there are eight degrees of English quantity; and if 
the reader should " deny that there is any such thing as 
eight degrees of it, in our language, for tbia plain reason, 
because he cannot perceive them," it will be his duty to 
confide in the greater experience, and better educated ear 


of those, who have paid more attention to the subject ! 
I will not follow the example set by these gentlemen, 
when they speak of the poor c€ prosodian." It may be 
sufficient to say, that much which they advance, I do 
not understand, and much that I do understand, I cannot 
approve of. 

VOL. I, 


(A.) The Letters. 

In investigating the properties of our letter-sounds, I have wished to 
follow my own observations rather than the authority of grammarians. It 
is not, however, easy entirely to free oneself from the influence of pre- 
conceived notions, and they have, in one or two instances, led me into 
statements that require correction. 

Our grammarians tells us, that " r is never mute. 1 ' Now, if I may trust 
my ear, r is not pronounced at the end of a syllable, unless the following 
syllable open with a vowel. It is said, that at the end of a syllable r is 
obscurely pronounced ; but I have observed, that a very slight pronuncia- 
tion of this letter has been sufficient to convict the speaker of being an 
Irishman, and that many who insist upon its pronunciation, drop it, imme- 
diately their attention is diverted, or their vigilance relaxed. 

In ordinary speech, I believe the words burn, curb, hurt, lurk, 8fc. differ 
from bun, cub, hut, luck, 8fc. only in the greater length of the vowel-sound. 
If this be so, then instead of five (see p. Ill}, there are six vowel-sounds 
in our language, each of which furnishes us with two vowels, accordingly as 
the quantity is long or short. 

Again ; I would say that farther differs in pronunciation from father, 
only in the greater length of its first vowel. If so, there is one vowel- 
sound in our language, which furnishes us with three vowels. These are 
found respectively in the words fathom, father, farther. There are some 
languages, which thus form three vowels from almost every one of their 
vowel-sounds. See p. 106. 

In p. 9, I have considered h as a letter. Our grammarians differ on 
this point, but I must confess that usage is against me. There is little 
doubt, that its old and genuine pronunciation was much like the palatal 
breathing of the Germans ; and such is the power which some persons 
still give to it. But the people altogether neglect h, and others look 
upon it merely as the symbol of aspiration. In like manner, wh is usually 
treated as an aspirated v>. Such, however, is the unsettled state of our 
language, that I have known men who prided themselves on their accuracy 
and refinement in the pronunciation of these letters h, wh, &c, and who 
nevertheless gave them three or four different properties, ere they had well 
uttered as many sentences. 

There is a statement, too, in p. 10, which requires correction. The Latin 
rh and Greek' / were certainly aspirated letter-sounds. The accounts of 

S 14 NOTES. 

their pronunciation, handed down to us by the old grammarian!, are too 
explicit to leave any room for doubt upon the subject. 

(B.) Accentuation. 

The consideration of the laws, which regulate the accents of an English 
sentence, has occasioned the writer much difficulty. Instead of working his 
way gradually from results to principles, he has been obliged, owing to the 
nature of the materials he had to work with, first to assume principles, and 
then to deduce conclusions. The practice is common enough, though not 
the less dangerous on that account. The following notices will correct one 
or two mistakes, into which it has led him. 

In p. 84, the definite and indefinite articles are placed upon the same 
footing. Now the latter originally was nothing more than the first cardinal 
number, and must, when placed in construction, have obeyed the same law 
as regards its accentuation. As the cardinal numbers were accented more 
strongly than the accompanying substantive (see vol. ii. p. 52. n. 5.), it 
follows that the examples quoted from Spenser and Jonson are instances 
rather of an obsolete than of a false accentuation, though such a mixture of 
the old with the new system is still open to objection. 

The same observation will apply to the examples quoted in p. 86, from 
the Paradise Lost. Prepositions formerly took the accent before personal 
pronouns, and, indeed, still do so in some ef our provincial dialects ; the 
accentuation therefore is not, properly speaking, false, though it takes the 
reader by surprise, more particularly as an emphasis falls on the pronouns, 
in the two cases cited. 

Again, in an Anglo-Saxon sentence, an adverb generally, and a proposi- 
tion occasionally, was placed before the concluding word, which, for the 
most part, was a verb. When so placed, the adverb or proposition seems 
always to have taken a predominant accent. See Vol. ii. p. 54. n. 5. This 
rule has been generally observed in the text, though violated in the scansion 
of the following verses — here scanned according to what I conceive to be 
their true prosody. 

Lifjes bryt|ta : leoht | forth | cuman 

p. 193, 1. 30; and v. ii. p. 32, 1. 26. 
Sweart|e swog|an : sees | up | stigon 

p. 193, 1. 20. 
Thegnjra sin|ra : thaer | mid | wesan 

p. 144, 1. 1. 
Stream | as stod|on : storm | up | gewat| 

p. 196, 1. 16. 
Lath | e cyrm|don : lyft | up | geswearcj 

p. 194, 1. 19. 

With respect to the two last verses some doubt may be entertained whe- 

NOTES. 315 

ther the accent on the substantive did not eclipse that on the adverb, but I 

incline to think not. 

. In Beowulf, 1. 3637, is found the passage — 

wseron her tela 
Willum bewenede : thu us wel dohtest 

and in the translation, just published by Mr. Kemble, is the following note, 
" The alliteration is upon thu, and Thorpe therefore suggests bethenede." 
The proposed amendment is an ingenious one, but still I think it was some- 
what hastily adopted in the translation, for the chief alliterative syllable in 
the last verse is certainly wel not thu, 

Wil|lum bewen|ede : thu | us wel | dohtest 

In the preface (which exhibits much curious research and speculation, 
though I cannot agree in its conclusions) certain proper names are reduced, 
by a variety of hypotheses, to the following series ; 

























" And here we have the remarkable and pleasing fact, that of all the twenty- 
four names, two only (Beowa and Taetwa) do not stand in alliteration with 
one another, from which we may reasonably assume , that in times older than 
even these most ancient traditions, another and equivalent adjective stood in 
the place of T&twa." I have quoted this statement, respecting the allitera- 
tion, which, it will be seen, is made the ground-work of an important infer- 
ence, in order to point out two oversights, that seem to have escaped the 
author. There is certainly no alliteration between Wo\den and Bed\-Wiga, 
nor between I\ter-Mon and He\re-Mod. In the last case, indeed, secondary 
accents may fall on the syllables Mon and Mod, but such accents cannot 
support an alliteration. 

I know by experience how difficult it is altogether to avoid these over- 
sights. In the foregoing pages, I have (at least once) been guilty of the 
very same blunder. In p. 229. 1. 11, the accent of a common adjectival 
compound (see p. 102. 1. 4,) is misplaced. The verse should have been 
scanned thus, 

Besloh | sin | sceathan : sig|ore and | geweal|de 

316 NOTES. 

(C.) Secondary Accents. 

The rale, in p. 78, defining the syllables on which the secondary accent 
may fall, is, I have no doubt, a correct one. But it is difficult to say, nnder 
what circumstances the Anglo-Saxon poet availed himself of the privilege. 
I incline to think, that when a word, accented on the last syllable but 
two, closed an alliterative couplet, no secondary accent was made use of, 
unless wanted to make up the two accents, without which no English sec- 
tion can subsist. When such a word closed the first section, and the two 
necessary accents were provided for, I think there was no secondary accent, 
except in cases where the second section began with an unaccented syllable. 
These two rules have been deduced chiefly from an examination of Csedmon's 
rhythms. They are laid down with some degree of diffidence, but they seem 
to agree so well with the general character of Anglo-Saxon rhythm, that I 
have not hesitated to correct (in the Errata) the scansion of any verse, in 
which they have not been observed. 

(D.) Rhime. 

The vowel-rhime (see p. 117), or, as it is termed by French and Spanish 
critics, the assonant rhime was common in the Romance of Oc, and all the 
kindred Spanish dialects, and is found in one (I believe only one) of our 
Anglo-Norman poems. It is clearly the Irish comhardadh, though not sub- 
ject, in the Romance dialects, to the nice rules which regulate its assonances 
in the Gaelic. 

The fact of there having been two kinds of final rhime in the Celtic, both 
of which are found in the Romance dialects that arose out of its ruins, and 
only one of which was ever adopted in the Latin " rhythmus," is a strong 
argument in favour of the view taken in p. 120 as to the Celtic origin of 
final rhime. It must, however, be confessed, that one of the arguments 
there used is somewhat strained. The influence, which final rhime exerted 
over our English rhythms, is certainly overrated. See Vol. ii. p. 295. 

The perfect correspondence in the unaccented syllables of the double rhime 
(see p. 118) was sometimes dispensed with. The authors of the Alisaunder, 
of Havelok, and of other romances, written in the thirteenth century, occa- 
sionally contented themselves with a rhime between the last accented sylla- 
bles, and wholly neglected what King James calls the " tail." This must 
have been a recognised and legitimate kind of rhime, for the dullest ear 
would have been offended, if such correspondences as tent and deontis, car- 
peth and harpe, were palmed upon it as regular double rhimes. See Vol. ii. 
p. 142. 

It has been stated, in the course of this note, that the vowel or assonant 
rhime is the representative of the Irish comhardadh, I believe there is 
another peculiarity of modern versification, which may be traced to the 
sister dialect ; for I have little doubt that some species of the bob (see 
Vol. ii. p. 341) represent the Welsh cyrch. These correspondences be- 

NOTES. 317 

tween the original and derivative tongues are valuable, and should, in all 
cases, be carefully investigated. 

(E.) Versification. 

In p. 164. 1. 30. were given two rules, whereby to form the elementary 
versicle. A third should have been added. 

3. No section can begin or end with more than two unaccented syllables. 
It was to this third rule (by some mistake omitted in transcription) that the 
succeeding remarks were meant chiefly to apply. 

The elision of the final e is occasionally a matter of much doubt. Ormin 
elided it, both before a vowel, and also before the h. In Anglo-Saxon verse, 
it was sometimes elided, sometimes not ; but whether the elision were re- 
gulated by rule, or left to the caprice or convenience of the poet, I cannot 
say. When quoting the verse in p. 165. 1. 3. it escaped my recollection, 
that this verse had already been scanned by Conybeare, and (as he elides 
one of the ea) scanned differently from what appears in the text. The rea- 
soning, however, is but slightly affected by this oversight. 

In many compound sections, besides the regular alliteration, which binds 
together the couplet, there is a kind of subordinate alliteration, which is 
confined to the section, and may therefore be called the sectional. In the 
following examples, the syllables, which contain the sectional alliteration, 
are written in italics. 

Heardjes heljle wit|es : thses | the he wan | with heof|nes wa/jdend 

See p. 280. 
Migtjig on modje ir|re : wearp | hine on ] thset mor|ther tn|nan 

Worhjte man | him hit | to wit|e : hyr\& worjuld wses | geJiwyr\fe& 

p. 284. 
Hearm | on thisjse hel|le : wa\l& ah|te ic . min|ra han|da geweald\ 

p. 38. 

Ne J gelyf|e ic | me nu| . thses leohjtes fur|thor : thaes | the him thinc\eth 

lang|e niot|an. Vol. ii. p. 42. 

Forswapjen on | thas sweart|an misjtas : swa | he us | ne maeg <en|ige syn|ne 

gestael an. Vol. ii. p. 40. 

Swa migftigne on | his mod|gethoh|te : he \ let hin\e swa mic|les wealjdan. 

p. 285. 

This sectional alliteration is worthy of notice on two accounts. First, it 
strengthens the hypothesis, advanced in p. 270, as to the origin of the com- 
pound section ; for, in most cases, the alliterative syllables are so distri- 
buted, as to give the compound section all the properties of an alliterative 
couplet. And, secondly, it countenances the opinion thrown out in Vol. ii. 
p. 278, that the solitary section, sometimes met with in Icelandic poetry, is 
merely the concluding portion of a compound section. If we suppose the 

318 NOTES. 

sectional alliteration b to fall in the latter part of a compound section, and 
the regular alliteration a in the first part, we might divide the whole couplet, 
so as to get an alliterative couplet and supernumerary section — the allitera- 
tive syllables being thus distributed ; 

a a : a 
b b 

The student may sometimes be led, owing to the sectional alliteration, to 
consider a compound section as a regular alliterative couplet. Perhaps 
the verses in Vol. ii. p. 52. 1. 4. and Vol. ii. p. 60. L 1 . might have been 
better scanned, as follows, 

He | w«sThra|cia-theod|a al|dor : and Re|tie-ric|es hird|e 

Thset mod | mon|na «n|iges : eal|lunga to | him ssfjre m«g | onwen|dan 

The first of these couplets is bound together by a very weak alliteration 
(he and hirdt) ; but still I think such a scansion of the verse preferable to the 
one given in the text, inasmuch as the latter makes the middle pause fall in 
the midst of the compounds Thracia-thioda and Ret ie -rices — a mode of di- 
vision, which I believe is unexampled in Anglo-Saxon poetry. 

From an observation in p. 214. it might be inferred, that the French 
verse of five accents had no middle pause. This is incorrect ; the French 
verse of four accents, like the rhythmus of the Iambic Dimiter, had none, 
but the verse of five accents always divided after the fourth syllable. See 
Vol. ii. p. 366. n. * 

Before concluding this note it should be observed, that the stanzas in- 
serted in p. 113 have not " the same" rhythm as the stanzas quoted in 
p. 112. I shall not, however, trouble the reader with a second version of 
them. The reasoning, though certainly weakened, is still strong enough to 
bear the inference it was meant to support. 


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