Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ing couplets ; and it is habit alone, render the help of rhymie necessary. whicb renders us insensible of the If it be true, that English verse is incongruity. Could we divest our- formed by accent, and not by quanselves of the prejudice arising from tity; it is at least as eafy to ascertain habit, it would be impossible to read which fyllables in a verse are accenttwo passages of nearly equal poetic ed or unaccented, as which are long merit, one in rhyme, the other in or short. If, from long habit, Enblank verse ;-fuch, for example, as glishmen have taught their ears to Pope's celebrated imitation of Ho- find no melody in English verse, mer's Night-Piece, at the end of the without the prevalence of that regueighth book of the Iliad, and Milton's lar recurrence of accented syllables, description of Night, in the fourth which answers either to the iambic, book of the Paradise Loits-with- the trochaic, or the anapæstic fout out feeling, that, while, in the latter, in ancient prosody; the difficulty of just and beautiful imagery appears fràming these, in verses and stanzas without alloy in all the dignity of of a given form, cannot be greater poetical language, the former loses than that of arranging words in all some portion of the effect of imagery the varieties of feet and measure, equally just and beautiful, by an un which the several kinds of Greek seasonable and incongruous mixture and Latin verse require. Though of the trivial and playful.

English poets have relied too much But, it will be said, that in esti- upon their accustomed auxiliary, to mating the value of rhyme, we ought make many experiments in blank 'not to consider the mere reiteration verse; we are not without successful of similar founds, but observe the examples to prove, that the Englik effect of this repetition, when com- language is capable of metrical melbined, at regular intervals, with ody without ryhme. What ear is metrical numbers. Thus combined, not charmed with Collins's Ode to rhyme is supposed to furnish an ad- Evening, or Mrs. Barbauld's Ode mirable expedient for constructing to Spring? harmonious verses in languages whose If it be allowed, that rhyme is metre is scanty and imperfect. Dr. not a “necessary help," it mult, at Johnson vindicates the use of rhyme, the same time, be admitted to be a in Englifh verfe, chiefly on this grievous incumbrance. ground : “ The music (lays he) of One obvious inconvenience ato the English heroic line strikes the tending the use of rhyme, is, that it ear fo faintly, that it is easily. lolt, puts a troublesome restraint upon the unless all the syllables of every

line writer in the construction of his peco-operate together : this co-opera- riods. Each couplet being, by ittion can only be obtained by the self, an entire structure of melody, preservation of every verse unmin- it is naturally expected, that it should gled with another, as a distină syl- terminate with a pause in the sense. tem of sounds : and this distinctness In stanzas where the rhyme is alteris obtained and preserved by the arti nate, or mixed, it is commonly fice of rhyme.”

thought neceffary that the sense and In this argument it is too confident. the melody should be completed ly affumed, that the English language together. Where these rules are is so defective in metrical power, as to frequently violated, the effect of the

rhyme

[ocr errors]

in

theme and numbers is impaired. each other at the close of the lines. The poet, in thus bringing every pe Whenever either of these cases hapriod to its proper dimensions, is pen, the poet, being determined sometimes obliged to stretch out a not to part with his rhymes, must sentence beyond its proper length, give up his poetical idea, and thus but much more frequently to restrain make a sacrifice of sense to found. his ideas, and contract his expres For the same reason that the fions, that both may be brought 'rhyming poet must drop many within the exact compass of his thoughts and expressions, which he measure. As lord Kaimes fays, might have withed to introduce, he " the sentence must be curtailed and must be often guided in the choice broken to pieces, to make it square and arrangement of his ideas by the with the curtness of rhyme.” In words which he finds it necessary to fome instances, this may produce place at the close of his verses. It will conciseness and energy, and Pope seldom happen, that both lines of a has often been mentioned as a hap- couplet will be entirely dictated by py example of this effect.

But fancy or sentiment ; a regard to the whatever real advantage is gained in rhyme will almost necessarily dietate this respect by rhyme, would be as the one or the other. A small dewell obtained in measured stanzas gree of attention to the train of ideas without it : and it is surely a sufficient many

of our most admired poems, check upon the flight of genius, to will show, that thoughts and exprestie it down to the laws of verse, fions are often introduced for the without, at the same time, loading it fake of the rhyme, which would not with the shackles of rhyme.

otherwise have been admitted. This An objection, of still greater is so manifest in every page of our weight, against the use of rhyme, modern rhyming versions of the anarises from the restraint which it un cient poets, that it is a perversion of avoidably lays upon the writer's con terms to call them translations. The ceptions and expression. It cannot experiment has been fairly tried, by be fuppofed, that, of the words two poets of acknowledged excelwhich are most proper to express the lence, in rendering into English verse poet's ideas, a sufficient number shall the first poem of antiquity : and have similar endings; and that these though some may be disposed to very words shall exactly fall into think Pope's Iliad a better poem that place which at once best suits than Cowper's, few persons will, I the numbers and grammatical con- believe, doubt, that, as a translation, struction, and is the proper inter- the former is inferior to the latter, val of the rhyme. In some instances, and chiefly because it is burdened it must happen, that of the proper with rhyme. The same effect is apwords in a couplet, no two-hall be parent in every other kind of serious so fortunate in their termination, as

poetry, Take an example from to tally with each other. In other Pope's Eloisa to Abelard : instances, though there should be two rhyming words within the re “ Ye rugged rocks, which holy knces have quired limit, it may not be possible, Ye grots and caverns

, thagi'd with horrid without the most awkward transpofi

thorn ! tion, or even with it, to bring these where their vigils pale-ey'd virtwo words to a proper distance from gins keep,

worn!

quaint verse,

And pitying faints, whofe statues learn to Another argument against the use

weep! Tho' cold, like you, unmov'd and filent omitted, is, that it produces a tire

of rhyme, of too much weight to be grown, I have not yet forgot myself to stone.”

some similarity of exprellion in difHere, probably, the word thorn, ferent poems. The rhyming vocabhappening to rhyme with worn, fug- ulary being, in every language, exgested the image of the second line ceedingly small, in comparison with

that of words proper for

verse, every the fourth line was conceived before

versifier neceffarily turns his thoughts the third, and led the poet into the trival expression, “keep their vigils ;” to the fame strings of rhyming words and the last line, also formed before

which have been hacknied by former its fellow, requiring a rhyme to the poets; and it is scarcely posible, elword stone, prompted the flat and in- pecially on fimilar fubjects, that the elegant 'phrase,

fame rhymes should not frequently grown unmou'd and filent.”—When Pope had fram- suggest to different writers similar ed the strong line,

ideas and expressions. Perhaps this

circumstance, more than any other, • An honeft man's the nobleft work of God,” has contributed to produce the aphe was, doubtless, resolved, at all pearance of imitation in the writings events, to make another line for its of modern English poets, and to enfake, and wrote, to preçede it, the courage an idea, by no means just, that

the subjects of poetry are almost ex. “ A wit's a feather, and a chief's a rod." hausted, and that genius will, in this Even writers of the first order

late
age,

in vain attempt any thing have fømetimes been betrayed, by the seduction of rhyme, into inhar

Rhyme, then, instead of being an monious and unpoetical composition, ornament; may be pronounced, in which could not have escaped them general, an incongruous appendage, in blank verse. Pope has hazarded and a troublesome incumbrance of the following couplets :

verse. In works of wit and hu. “ Unfinish'd things one knows not what ler and Swift, rhyme possesses its

mour, indeed, such as those of Butto call, Their generation's fo equivocal.

proper province, and may be advan“ Some beautics yet, no precepts can de- tageously retained, as

a source of clare,

unexpected and whimsical combinaFor there's a happiness, as well as carc.

tions :---but from every other kind And Dryden, in his rhyming trag- of poetical composition, however edy of Aurengzebe has written : bold the innovation, it might, per

-" Are you so loft to shame? haps, be a real improvement to dis. Morat, Morat, Morat, you love the name mils it altogether. The good sense, So well, your every question ends in that, and correct taste, of modern times, You force me fill to answer you, Morat.

has detected the absurdity of deckSuch miserable jingle as this, is ing tragedy in the trim dress of little better than Sternhold's eke also, rhyme ; what is wanting, but a due and almost deserves a place with the attention to the subject, to extend following notable stanza':

the proscription which has banished “ And Og the giant large,

rhyme from the English stage, to all And Bafan king also,

ferious poetry? Whose land, for heritage,

· Whether the English language He gave his people tho'." admits of any substitute for rhyme,

by

new.

by which the end of a verse may be favourable to the genuine spirit and as distinctly marked, as by the dactyl primary end of poetry, that metrical and fpondee in hexameters; wheth- melody should remain in the irreguer varieties of verse, composed of lar and defective state in which it regular feet, similar to those of the appears in our blank verse, are ques. ancient lyrics, can be successfully at tions still left subjudice. tempted ; or, whether it be more

BIO G R A P H Y.

THE LIFE OF MR. JOHN POMFRET. IT is a natural piece of justice still nets maintained by those people, both

due to the memory of our author, against our religious and civil rights. in the first place, by giving some ac This imputation, it feens, was cast count of his family, to clear him on him by there having been one of from the aspersions of fanaticism, his surname, though not any way rewhich have been generally cast on

lated to him, a dissenting teacher, him through a notorious mistake; who died not long ago ;* so far difand, in the next place, to defend the tant from the accusation were the genuineness of his writings from the principles of this excellent man. injurious treatment of those who have About the year 1703, Mr. Pomeither through malice or ignorance,af- fret came up to London for institucribed some of them to other persons. tion and induction into a very con

The true account of his family is fiderable living ; but was retarded as follows.. Mr. Pomfret's father for some time, by a disgust taken by was rector of Luton in Bedfordshire; Dr. Henry Compton, then bishop of and himself was preferred to the liv- London, at these four lines in the ing in Malden in the same county. close of his poem, entitled, The He was liberally educated at an em CHOICE, inent grammar school in the country; " And as I near approach'd the verge of life, from whence he was sent to the uni- , Some kind relation (for I'd have no wife) versity of Cambridge ; but of what Should take upon him all my worldly care, college he was entered I know not.

While I did for a better state prepare.", There he wrote most of his poetical The parenthesis in these verses was compositions, took the degree of fo maliciously represented to the bishMaster of Arts, and very early ac- op, that his lordship was given to uncomplished himself in most kinds of derstand, it could bear no other con, polite literature,

struction, than that Mr. Pomfret It was shortly after his leaving the preferred a mistress before a wife ; university, that he was preferred to though I think the contrary is selfthe living of Malden abovemention- evident; the verses implying no more ed: and so far was he fiom being than the preference of a single life the least tinctured with fanaticism, to marriage ; unless his brethren of that I have often heard him express the gown will assert, that an unmarhis abhorrence of the destructive te ried clergyman cannot live without

a mistress, * Mr. Samuel Pomfret, who publihed some rhymes upon spiritual subje&ts, as they are pleased to call them.

a mistress. But the worthy prelate the Earl of Roscommon's memory, was foon convinced of the prepense in telling us what things had been *malice of Mr. Pomfret's enemies to. published under his lordship’s name wards him, he being at that time by others, than by concealing the married ; yet their base opposition authors of any such gross impositions. of his deserved merit had in some Instead of which, he is fo much a measure its effect ; for by the ob- ftranger to impartiality, that he has structions he met with, and the small been guilty of the very crime he expox being at that time very rife, he claims against : for he has not only lickened of them, and died at Lon- attributed the prospect of Death to doo, in the twenty-sixth year of his the Earl of Roscommon, which was age.

wrote by Mr. Pomfret many years The ungenerous treatment he has after his lordship's decease ; but like. fince met with, in regard to his poet- wise another piece, entitled, The ical compositions, is in a book, en- Prayer of Jeremy paraphrased ; protitled, Poems by the Earl of Ros- phetically representing the passionate common and Mr. Duke ;* in the grief of the Jewish people for the preface to which the publisher has loss of their town and sanctuary ; peremptorily inserted the following written by Mr. Southcott, a worthy paragraph : “ In this Collection gentleman now living, who first pub(fays he) of my lord Roscommon's lished it himself in the year 1717.6 poems, care has been taken to inserţ So that it is to be hoped, in a future all that I could possibly procure that edition of the earl of Roscommon's are truly genuine ; there having been and Mr. Duke's poems, the same care several things published under his will be taken to do these gentlemen name, which were written by others, justice, as to prevent any other per. the authors of which I could fet fons from hereafter injuring the down, if it were material.” Now memory of his lordship. this arrogant editor would have been

PHILALETHES, more juft, both to the public, and to

Honor MEMOIRS OF FILANGIERI. GAETAN FILANGIERI was isters of the kingdom of Naples,

born at Naples, in the year Filii Angerii, from which the Ital1751. He was a son of the Prince ian name Filangieri was afterwards of Arianiello, descended of an illuf- compounded. This family is not at trious family, coeval with the orig- present very opulent, a circumftance, inal establifhment of the monarchy which such as are acquainted with of the Two Siciles. It appears that the history of Naples can easily achis ancestors passed over to Italy count for ; it being well known that from France with the Norman con about the year 1430, Jane, the fece querors, being in all probability na ond queen of Naples, to gratify the tives of Angers ; for the corrupt ambition of her favourite, Ser Gianni Latin nanie of the founder of the Caraciolo, High Chancellor of the family was Angerius, and his chil. kingdom, procured him a large indren were called, in the feudal reg- heritance, by enacting a law which

altered * Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1717. O&avo, + See Miscellancous Poems and Translations, printed for Bernard Lintot. O&ava

« ZurückWeiter »