Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

one of them taken singly; consequently, that the more things are thus added, the greater will be their effect.9

We have mentioned at the same time both accumulation and concatenation, because in painting, the objects, by existing at once, are accumulated; in poetry, as they exist by succession, they are not accumulated, but concatenated. Yet,

through memory and imagination,' even these also derive an accumulative force, being preserved from passing away by those admirable faculties, till, like many pieces of metal melted together, they collectively form one common magnitude.

It must be further remembered, there is an accumulation of things analogous, even when those things are the objects of different faculties. For example: as are passionate gestures to the eye, so are passionate tones to the ear; so are passionate ideas to the imagination. To feel the amazing force of an accumulation like this, we must see some capital actor acting the drama of some capital poet, where all the powers of both are assembled at the same instant.

And thus have we endeavoured, by a few obvious and easy examples, to explain what we mean by the words,“ seeking the cause, or reason, as often as we feel works of art and ingenuity to affect us.

If I might advise a beginner in this elegant pursuit, it should be, as far as possible, to recur for principles to the most plain and simple truths, and to extend every theorem, as he advances, to its utmost latitude, so as to make it suit and include the greatest number of possible cases.

I would advise him further, to avoid subtle and far-fetched refinement, which, as it is for the most part adverse to perspicuity and truth, may serve to make an able sophist, but never an able critic.

9 Quinctilian observes, that the man who By way of proof he quotes Homer on the tells us, “a city was stormed,” includes, in same subject, I mean the taking of a city what he says, “all things which such a by storm : disaster implies ;" and yet for all that, such Οσσα κακανθρώποισι πέλει, των άστυ a brief information less affects us than a

αλώη detail, because it is less striking, to deliver 'Ανδρας μέν κτείνουσι, πόλιν δέ τε πυρ the whole at once, than it is to enumerate άμαθύνει, , the several particulars. His words are, Mi- Τέκνα δέ τ' άλλοι άγουσι, βαθυζώνας τε nus est totum dicere, quam omnia. Quinct. γυναίκας.

Iliad. ix. 588. Institut. viii. 3.

The dire disasters of a city stormed; The whole is well worth reading, par- The men they massacre ; the toron they ticularly his detail of the various and horrid fire; events which befall the storming of a city. And others lead the children and the Sine dubio enim, qui dicit expugnatam esse wives civitatem, &c.

Into captivity. Aristotle reasons much after the same See Arist. Rhetor. lib. i. p. 29. edit. Sylb. manner: Και διαιρούμενα δέ εις τα μέρη, where the above lines of Homer are noted; τα αυτά μείζω φαίνεται πλειόνων γάρ and though with some variation from the υπεροχή φαίνεται : “ The same things, di- common reading, yet with none which afvided into parts, appear greater, for then fects the sense. there appears an excess or an abundance of

See Hermes, p. 219, &c. many things."

• See pages 388, 389, 401.

A word more; I would advise a young critic, in his contemplations, to turn his eye rather to the praiseworthy than the blameable; that is, to investigate the causes of praise rather than the causes of blame. For though an uninformed beginner may in a single instance happen to blame properly, it is more than probable that in the next he may fail, and incur the censure passed upon the criticising cobler, Ne sutor ultra crepidam.

We are now to inquire concerning numerous composition.

CHAPTER II.

NUMEROUS COMPOSITION, DERIVED FROM QUANTITY SYLLABIC, AN

CIENTLY ESSENTIAL BOTH TO VERSE AND PROSE. RHYTHM. PÆANS AND CRETICS, THE FEET FOR PROSE. QUANTITY ACCENTUAL-A DEGENERACY FROM THE SYLLABIC. INSTANCES OF IT, FIRST IN LATIN, THEN IN GREEK. VERSUS POLITICI-TRACES OF ACCENTUAL QUANTITY IN TERENCE-ESSENTIAL TO MODERN LANGUAGES, AND AMONG OTHERS TO ENGLISH, FROM WHICH LAST EXAMPLES ARE TAKEN.

As numerous composition arises from a just arrangement of words, so is that arrangement just, when formed upon their verbal quantity.

Now if we seek for this verbal quantity in Greek and Latin, we shall find, that while those two languages were in purity, their verbal quantity was in purity also. Every syllable had a measure of time, either long or short, defined with precision either by its constituent vowel, or by the relation of that vowel to other letters adjoining. Syllables thus characterized, when combined, made a foot; and feet thus characterized, when combined, made a verse; so that, while a particular harmony existed in every part, a general harmony was diffused through the whole.

Pronunciation at this period being, like other things, perfect, accent and quantity were accurately distinguished; of which distinction, familiar then, though now obscure, we venture to suggest the following explanation. We compare quantity to musical tones differing in long and short, as, upon whatever line they stand, a semibreve differs from a minim. We compare accent to musical tones differing in high and low, as D upon the third line differs from G upon the first, be its length the same, or be it longer or shorter.

And thus things continued for a succession of centuries, from Homer and Hesiod to Virgil and Horace; during which interval, if we add a trifle to its end, all the truly classical poets, both Greek and Latin, flourished.

* Those who wish to see the origin of Pliny, l. xxv. s. 12, and in Valerius Maxithis ingenious proverb, may find it in mus, 1. viii. c. 12.

Nor was prose at the same time neglected. Penetrating wits discovered this also to be capable of numerous composition, and founded their ideas upon the following reasonings.

Though they allowed that prose should not be strictly metrical, (for then it would be no longer prose, but poetry,) yet at the same time they asserted, if it had no rhythm at all, such a vague effusion would of course fatigue, and the reader would seek in vain for those returning pauses, so helpful to his reading, and so grateful to his ear."

Now as feet were found an essential to that rhythm, they were obliged, as well as poets, to consider feet under their several characters.

In this contemplation, they found the heroic foot (which includes the spondee, the dactyl, and the anapæst) to be majestic and grave, but yet improper for prose, because, if employed too frequently, the composition would appear epic.

On the contrary, in the iambic they found levity; it often made, though undesignedly, a part of common discourse, and could not, for that reason, but want a suitable dignity.*

What expedient then remained? They recommended a foot where the former two were blended; where the pomp of the heroic and the levity of the iambic were mutually to correct and temper one another.

But as this appears to require explanation, we shall endeavour, if we can, to render it intelligible, saying something previously upon the nature of rhythm.

Rhythm differs from metre, inasmuch as rhythm is proportion applied to any motion whatever; metre is proportion applied to the motion of words spoken. Thus in the drumming of a march, or the dancing of a hornpipe, there is rhythm though no metre; in Dryden's celebrated Ode, there is metre as well as rhythm, because the poet with the rhythm has associated certain words. And hence it follows, that though all metre is rhythm, yet all rhythm is not metre.

u See Aristot. Rhetor. l. iii. p. 129. edit. ται δε και χωρίς συλλαβής, και γαρ εν τω Sylb. Το δε σχήμα της λέξεως δεί μήτε κρότφ. Οταν μέν γάρ τους χαλκέας έμμετρον είναι, μήτε άρρυθμoν, κ. τ. λ. So ίδωμεν τας σφύρας καταφερόντας, άμα τινά Cicero: Numeris astrictam orationem esse και ρυθμών ακούομεν-μέτρον δε ουκ αν debere, carere versibus. Ad Brut. Orator. révoito xwpis néčews moiás kal rooms:

“ Metre differs from rhythm, because, with * See in the same treatise of Aristotle regard to metres, the subject matter is a what is said about these feet, just after the syllable, and without a syllable (that is, a passage above cited. Twv duouwv, o uèv sound articulate) no metre can exist. But špãos oeuvds, K. t. 1. All that follows is rhythm exists both in and without syllables; well worth reading.

for it may be perceived in mere pulsation Υ Διαφέρει δε μέτρον ρυθμού, ύλη μεν or striking. It is thus, when we see γάρ τοις μέτρους και συλλαβή, και χωρίς smiths hammering with their sledges, we oviraßîis our dy yévoito mét povo 8 de hear, at the same time, (in their strokes) a ρυθμός γίνεται μεν και εν συλλαβαίς, γίνε- certain rhythm ; but as to metre, there can

8. 187.

This being admitted, we proceed and say, that the rhythm of the heroic foot is one to one, which constitutes in music what we call common time; and in musical vibration what we call the unison. The rhythm of the iambic is one to two, which constitutes in music what we call triple time; and in musical vibration what we call the octave. The rhythm next to these is that . of two to three, or else its equivalent, three to two; a rhythm compounded of the two former times united, and which constitutes in musical vibration what we call the fifth.

It was here, then, they discovered the foot they wanted ; that foot, which being neither the heroic nor the iambic, was yet so far connected with them as to contain virtually within itself the rhythms of them both.

That this is fact is evident from the following reasoning, The proportion of two to three contains in two the rhythm of the heroic foot; in three, that of the iambic; therefore, in two and three united, a foot compounded out of the two.

Now the foot thus described is no other than the pæan; a foot constituted either by one long syllable and three short, and called the pæan a majori ; or else by three short syllables and one long, and called the pæan a minori. In either case, if we resolve the long syllable into two short, we shall find the sum of the syllables to be five; that is, two to three for the first pæan, three to two for the second, each being in what we call the sesquialter proportion.”

Those who ask for examples, may find the first pæan in the

be none, unless there be an articulate time in dancing, and in rowing, though no sound, or word, having a peculiar quality sound at all but what is quite incidental. and quantity,” (to distinguish it.) Longini 2 The sum of this speculation is thus Fragin. iii. s. 5. p. 162. edit. Pearce, 4to. shortly expressed by Cicero. Pes enim,

Metrum in verbis modo; rhythmus etiam qui adhibetur ad numeros, partitur in tria : in corporis motu est. Quinctil. Inst. ix. 4. ut necesse sit partem pedis aut æqualem p. 598. edit. Capper.

esse alteri parti ; aut altero tanto, aut segWhat these authors call rhythmus, Virgil qui esse majorem. Ita fit æqualis, daccalls numerus, or its plural numeri.

tylus ; duplex, iambus ; sesqui, pæon. Ad Numeros memini, si verba tenerem. Brut. Orat. s. 188.

Bucol. ix. 45. Aristotle reasons upon the same princiAnd, before that, speaking of the fauns and ples. Έστι δε τρίτος και παιάν, και έχόμενος wild beasts dancing, he informs us, των ειρημένων τρία γαρ προς δύο εστίν Tum vero in numerum faunosque feras- εκείνων δε, ο μεν έν προς έν' ο δε, δύο

έχεται δε των λόγων τούτων και ημιόλιος, Ludere.

Bucol. vi. 27. ούτος δ' έστιν ο παιάν, κ. τ. λ. Arist. So, too, speaking of the Cyclopes at their Rhet. 1. iii. c. 8. p. 129, 130. edit. Sylb. forge, he tells us,

Again ; Cicero, after having held much Illi inter sese magna vi brachia tollunt the same doctrine, adds--Probatur autem In numerum.

Geor. iv. 174. ab eodem illo (scil. Aristotele) maxime Which same verses are repeated in the pæan, qui est duplex ; nam aut a longa eighth Æneid. So Cicero, Numerus Latine; oritur, quam tres breves consequuntur, ut Græce pv@uós. Ad Brut. Orat. s. 170. hæc verba, dēsănătě, incžpitě, comprimitě ;

No English term seems to express rhyth- aut a brevibus deinceps tribus, extrema mus better than the word time; by which producta atque longa, sicut illa sunt, dowe denote every species of measured mo- mūěrānt, sónīpēdēs. De Orator. iii. 57, tion. Thus we say, there is time in beat- (183.) and in his Orator. ad M. Brutum, ing a drum, though but a single sound; s. 205. and before, s. 191-197.

que videres

b

words ñpăvoë, dēsănătě ; the second, in the words uětă dě tv, dómŭěrānt.

To the pæan may be added the cretic, a foot of one short syllable between two long, as in the words Ēy õuać, quòdě nunc ; a foot in power evidently equal to the pæan, because resolvable, like that, into five equal times.

We dwell no longer here; perhaps we have already dwelt too long. It is enough to observe, that by a discreet use of these pæans, the ancients obtained what they desired, that is, they enriched their prose without making it into verse ; and, while vague and vulgar prose flowed indefinitely, like a stream, theirs, like descending drops, became capable of being numbered."

It may give credit to these speculations, trivial as they may appear, when it is known they have merited the attention of the ablest critics, of Aristotle and Demetrius Phalereus, of Cicero and Quinctilian.

The productions still remaining of this golden period seem (if I may so say) to have been providentially preserved to humiliate modern vanity, and check the growth of bad taste.

But this classical era, though it lasted long, at length terminated. Many causes, and chiefly the irruption and mixture of Barbarians, contributed to the debasing both of Latin and Greek. As diction was corrupted, so also was pronunciation. Accent and quantity, which had been once accurately distinguished, began now to be blended. Nay, more, accent so far usurped quantity's place, as by a sort of tyranny to make short syllables long, and long syllables short. Thus, in poetry, as the accent fell upon de in deus, and upon i in ibi, the first syllables of these two words were considered as long. Again, where the accent did not fall, as in the ultimas of regnò or Saturno, and even in such ablatives as insulâ or Cretâ, there the poet assumed a licence, if he pleased, to make them short. In a word, the whole doctrine of prosody came to this—that, as anciently the quantity of the syllables established the rhythm of the verse, so now the rhythm of the verse established the quantity of the syllables.

There was an ancient poet, his name Commodianus, who dealt much in this illicit quantity, and is said to have written

* Numerus autem in continuatione nul- his tract De Elocut. hus est: distinctio, et æqualium et sæpe Cicero, in his De Oratore, introduces variorum intervallorum percussio, numerum Crassus using the same arguments ; those, conficit: quem in cadentibus guttis, quod I mean, which are grounded upon autho intervallis distinguuntur, notare possumus; rity, in omni præcipitante non possumus.

Cic. Atque hæc quidem ab iis philosophis, de Oratore, lib. iii. s. 186.

quos tu maxime diligis, Catule, dicta sunt: 6 See Aristotle and Cicero, as quoted quod eo sæpius testificor, ut auctoribus before, particularly the last in his Orator, laudandis ineptiarum crimen effugiam. De s. 189 to the end ; Quinctilian, 1. ix. c. 4. Oratore, lib. iii. s. 187. Demetrius Phalereus, at the beginning of

« PreviousContinue »