Imágenes de páginas

Besides the capital pause now mentioned, inferior pauses will be discovered by a nice ear. Of these there are commonly two in each line: one before the capital pause, and one after The former comes invariably after the first long syllable, whether the line begin with a long syllable or a short one. The other in its variety imitates the capital pause: in some lines it comes after the 6th syllable, in some after the 7th, and in some after the 8th. Of these semipauses take the following examples.

1st and 8th:

Led through a sad | variety of wo.


1st and 7th:

Still on that breast || enamor'd | let me lie.

2d and 8th:

From storms a shelter || and from heat | a shade.

2d and 6th:

Let wealth | let honor I wait | the wedded dame.

2d and 7th:

Above all pain || all passion | and all pride.

Even from these few examples it appears, that the place of the last semipause, like that of the full pause, is directed in a good measure by the sense. Its proper place with respect to the melody is after the eighth syllable, so as to finish the line with an lambus distinctly pronounced, which, by a long syllable after a short, is a preparation for rest: but sometimes it comes after the 6th, and sometimes after the 7th syllable, in order to avoid a pause in the middle of a word, or between two words intimately connected; and so far melody is justly sacrificed to sense.

In discoursing of Hexameter verse, it was laid down as a rule, that a full pause ought never to divide a word: such licence deviates too far from the coincidence that ought to be between the pauses of sense and of melody. The same rule must obtain in an English line; and we shall support reason by experiments:

A noble superfluity it craves

Abhor, a perpelltuity should stand.

Are these lines distinguishable from prose? Scarcely, I think. The same rule is not applicable to a semipause, which being short and faint, is not sensibly disagreeable when it divides a word:

Relentless walls whose darksome round | contains
For her white virgins | hyme[neals sing

In these deep solitudes || and awful cells.

It must, however, be acknowledged, that the melody here suffers in some degree: a word ought to be pronounced without any rest between its component syllables: a semipause that bends to this rule, is scarcely perceived.

The capital pause is so essential to the melody, that one cannot be too nice in the choice of its place, in order to have it clear and d's

tinct. It cannot be in better company than with a pause in the sense; and if the sense require but a comma after the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh syllable, it is sufficient for the musical pause. But to make such coincidence essential, would cramp versification too much; and we have experience for our authority, that there may be a pause in the melody where the sense requires none. We must not, however, imagine, that a musical pause may come after any word indifferently: some words, like syllables of the same word, are so intimately connected, as not to bear a separation even by a pause. The separating, for example, of a substantive from its article would be harsh and unpleasant: witness the following line, which cannot be pronounced with a pause as marked,

If Delia smile, the Il flow'rs begin to spring.

But ought to be pronounced in the following manner,

If Delia smile, the flow'rs begin to spring.

If then it be not a matter of indifference where to make the pause, there ought to be rules for determining what words may be separated by a pause, and what are incapable of such separation. I shall endeavor to ascertain these rules; not chiefly for their utility, but in order to unfold some latent principles, that tend to regulate our taste even where we are scarcely sensible of them and to that end the method that appears the most promising, is to run over the verbal relations, beginning with the most intimate. The first that presents itself is that of adjective and substantive, being the relation of subject and quality, the most intimate of all: and with respect to such intimate companions, the question is, whether they can bear to be separated by a pause. What occurs is, that a quality cannot exist independent of a subject; nor are they separable even in imagination, because they make parts of the same idea: and for that reason, with respect to melody as well as sense, it must be disagreeable, to bestow upon the adjective a sort of independent existence, by interjecting a pause between it and its substantive. I cannot therefore approve the following lines, nor any of the sort; for to my taste they are harsh and unpleasant.

Of thousand bright | inhabitants of air
The sprites of fiery || termagants inflame
The rest, his many-colour'd I robe conceal'd
The same, his ancient || personage to deck
Ev'n here, where frozen || Chastity retires
I sit, with sad II civility, I read
Back to my native || moderation slide
Or shall we ev'ry | decency confound
Time was, a sober | Englishman would knoc
And place, on good l security, his gold
Taste, that eternal || wanderer, which flies
But ere the tenth || revolving day was run
First let the just || equivalent be paid.

Go, threat thy earth-born || Myrmidon out here
Haste to the fierce | Achilles' tent (he cries)
All but the ever-wakeful eyes of Jove
Your own resistless I eloquence employ.

I have upon this article multiplied examples, that in a case where I have the misfortune to dislike what passes current in practice, every man upon the spot may judge by his own taste. And to taste I appeal; for though the foregoing reasoning appears to me just, it is, however, too subtle to afford conviction in opposition to taste.

Considering this matter superficially, one might be apt to imagine, that it must be the same, whether the adjective go first, which is the natural order, or the substantive, which is indulged by the laws of inversion. But we soon discover this to be a mistake: color, for example, cannot be conceived independent of the surface colored; but a tree may be conceived, as growing in a certain spot, as of a certain kind, and as spreading its extended branches all around, without ever thinking of its color. In a word, a subject may be considered with some of its qualities independent of others; though we cannot form an image of any single quality independent of the subject. Thus then though an adjective named first be inseparable from the substantive, the proposition does not reciprocate: an image can be formed of the substantive independent of the adjective; and for that reason, they may be separated by a pause, when the sub stantive takes the lead.

For thee the fates II severely kind ordain

And curs'd with hearts || unknowing how to yield.

The verb and adverb are precisely in the same condition with the substantive and adjective. An adverb, which modifies the action expressed by the verb, is not separable from the verb even in imagination; and therefore I must also give up the following lines:

And which it much I becomes you to forget

'Tis one thing madly I to disperse my store.

But an action may be conceived with some of its modifications, leaving out others; precisely as a subject may be conceived with some of its qualities, leaving out others: and, therefore, when by inversion the verb is first introduced, it has no bad effect to interject a pause between it and the adverb that follows. This may be done at the close of a line, where the pause is at least as full as that is which divides the line:

While yet he spoke, the Prince advancing drew
Nigh to the lodge, &c.

The agent and its action come next, expressed in grammar by the active substantive and its verb. Between these, placed in their natural order, there is no difficulty of interjecting a pause: an active being is not always in motion, and therefore it is easily separable in idea from its action: when in a sentence the substantive takes the lead, we know not that action is to follow; and as rest must precede

the commencement of motion, this interval is a proper opportunity for a pause.

But when by inversion the verb is placed first, is it lawful to separate it by a pause from the active substantive? I answer, No; because an action is not an idea separable from the agent, more than a quality from the subject to which it belongs. Two lines of the first rate for beauty, have always appeared to me exceptionable, upon account of the pause thus interjected between the verb and the consequent substantive; and I have now discovered a reason to support my taste:

In these deep solitudes and awful cells,

Where heav'nly pensive | Contemplation dwells,
And ever musing || Melancholy reigns.

The point of the greatest delicacy regards the active verb and the passive substantive placed in their natural order. On the one hand, it will be observed, that these words signify things which are not separable in idea. Killing cannot be conceived without a being that is put to death, nor painting without a surface upon which the colors are spread. On the other hand, an action and the thing on which it is exerted, are not, like subject and quality, united in one individual objec: the active substantive is perfectly distinct from that which is passive; and they are connected by one circumstance only, that the action of the former is exerted upon the latter. This makes it possible to take the action to pieces, and to consider it first with relation to the agent, and next with relation to the patient. But after all, so intimately connected are the parts of the thought, that it requires an effort to make a separation even for a moment: the subtilizing to such a degree is not agreeable, especially in works of imagination. The best poets, however, taking advantage of this subtlety, scruple not to separate, by a pause, an active verb from the thing upon which it is exerted. Such pauses in a long work may be indulged; but taken singly, they certainly are not agreeable; and I appeal to the following examples:

The peer now spreads || the glitt'ring forfex wide
As ever sully'd the fair face of light

Repair'd to search | the gloomy cave of Spleen
Nothing, to make | Philosophy thy friend
Shou'd chance to make I the well dress'd rabble stare

Or cross, to plunder li provinces, the main

These madmen ever hurt II the church or state

How shall we fill Il a library with wit
What better teach | a foreigner the tongue

Sure, if I spare the minister, no rules
Of honour bind me, not to maul his tools.

On the other hand, when the passive substantive is by inversion first named, there is no difficulty of interjecting a pause between it and the verb, more than when the active substantive is first named. The same reason holds in both, that though a verb cannot be sepa

[ocr errors]

rated in idea from the substantive which governs it, and scarcely from the substantive it governs; yet a substantive may always be conceived independent of the verb: when the passive substantive is introduced before the verb, we know not that an action is to be exerted upon it; therefore we may rest till the action commences. For the sake of illustration take the following examples:

Shrines! where their vigils | pale-ey'd virgins keep
Soon as thy letters || trembling I unclose
No happier task II these faded eyes pursue.

What is said about the pause, leads to a general observation, that the natural order of placing the active substantive and its verb, is more friendly to a pause than the inverted order; but that in all the other connections, inversion affords a far better opportunity for a pause. And hence one great advantage of blank verse over rhyme; its privilege of inversion giving it a much greater choice of pauses than can be had in the natural order of arrangement.

We now proceed to the slighter connections, which shall be discussed in one general article. Words connected by conjunctions and prepositions admit freely a pause between them, which will be clear from the following instances:

Assume what sexes I and what shape they please

The light militia II of the lower sky.

Connecting particles were invented to unite in a period two substances signifying things occasionally united in the thought, but which have no natural union: and between two things not only separable in idea, but really distinct, the mind, for the sake of melody, cheerfully admits by a pause a momentary disjunction of their occasional union.

One capital branch of the subject is still upon hand, to which I am directed by what is just now said. It concerns those parts of speech which singly represent no idea, and which become not significant till they are joined to other words. I mean conjunctions, prepositions, articles, and such like accessories, passing under the name of particles. Upon these the question occurs, whether they can be separated by a pause from the words that make them significant? Whether, for example, in the following lines, the separation of the accessory preposition from the principal substantive be accord. ing to rule ?

The goddess with a discontented air

And heighten'd by the diamond's circling rays
When victims at II yon altar's foot we lay

So take it in the very words of Creech
An ensign of the delegates of Jove

Two ages o'er | his native realm he reign'd

While angels with their silver wings o'ershade.

Or the separation of the conjunction from the word that is connected by it with the antecedent word:

« AnteriorContinuar »