might not be supposed to prefer the rhythm in which it I do not, however, present the English hexameter as was written, abstractedly considered, to the regular something better than our established metres, but as blank verse, the noblest measure, in his judgment, of something different, and which therefore, for that reawhich our admirable language is capable: it was added, son, may sometimes advantageously be used. Take our that the measure which was there used, had, in that blank verse, for all in all, in all its gradations, from instance, been preferred, because it suited the character the elaborate rhythm of Milion, down to its loosest of the poem, being, as it were, the Arabesque ornament structure in the early dramatists, and I believe that of an Arabian tale. Notwithstanding this explicit de- there is no measure comparable to it, either in our claration, the duncery of that day attacked me as if I own or in any other language, for might and majesty, had considered the measure of Thalaba to be in itself and flexibility and compass. And this is affirmed, not essentially and absolutely better than blank verse. The as the predilection of a young writer, or the preference duncery of this day may probably pursue the same of one inexperienced in the difficulties of composition, course on the present occasion. With that body I wage but as an opinion formed and confirmed during the no war, and enter into no explanations. But to the long and diligent study, and the long and laborious great majority of my readers, who will take up the practice of the art. But I am satisfied also that the book without malevolence, and having a proper sense English hexameter is a legitimate and good measure, of honour in themselves, will believe the declarations with which our literature ought to be enriched. of a writer whose veracity they have no reason to first adventure ; follow me who list!» doubt, I will state what are the defects, and what the advantages, of the metre which is here submitted to

III. their judgment, as they appear to me after this fair Tam well aware that the publicare peculiarly intolerant experiment of its powers.

of such innovatious; not less so than the populace are It is not a legitimate inference, that because the of any foreign fashion, whether of foppery or convehexameter has been successfully introduced in the nience. Would that this literary intolerance were under German language, it can be naturalized as well in Eng- the influence of a saner judgment, and regarded the lish. The English is not so well adapted for it, because morals more than the manner of a composition ; the it does not abound in like manner with polysyllabic spirit rather than the form! Would that it were diwords. The feet, therefore, must too frequently be rected against those monstrous combinations of hormade up of monosyllables, and of distinct words, rors and mockery, lewdness and impiety, with which whereby the verse is resolved and decomposed into its English poetry bas, in our days, first been polluted! component feet, and the feet into their component For more than half a century English literature had syllables, instead of being articulated and inosculated | been distinguished by its moral purity, the effect, and throughout, as in the German, still more in the Greek, in its turn the cause, of an improvement in national and most in the Latin measure. This is certainly a

manners. A father might, without apprehension of great defect.

From the same cause the cæsura gene-evil, have put into the hands of his children any book rally coincides with a pause in the sentence; but, though which issued from the press, it if did not bear, either this breaks the continuity of the verse, it ought perhaps in its title-page or frontispiece, manifest signs that it rather to be considered as an advantage : for the mea

was intended as furniture for the brothel. There was sure, like blank verse, thus acquires greater variety. no danger in any work which bore the game of a reIt may possibly be objccted, that the four first feet are spectable publisher, or was to be procured at any repot metrical enough in their effect, and the two last spectable bookseller's. This was particularly the case too much so. I do not feel the objection; but it has with regard to our poetry. It is now no longer so; and been advanced by one, whose opinion upon any ques

woe to those by whom the offence cometh! The tion, and especially upon a question of poetry, would greater the talents of the offender, the greater is his make me distrust my own, where it happened to be guilt, and the more enduring will be his shame. Whether different. Lastly, the double-ending may be censured it be that the laws are in themseives unable to abate an as double rhymes used to be; but that objection be evil of this magnitude, or whether it be that they are longs to the duncery.

remissly administered, and with such injustice that the On the other hand, the range of the verse being from celebrity of an offender serves as a privilege whereby thirteen syllables to seventeen, it derives from that he obtains impunity, individuals are bound to consider range an advantage in the union of variety with regu- that such pernicious works would neither be published larity, which is peculiar to itself. The capability which nor written, if they were discouraged as they might, is thus gained, may perhaps be better appreciated by a

and ought to be, by public feeling; every person, there few readers from their own sense of power, than it is fore, who purchases such books, or admits them into exemplified in this experiment.

his house, promotes the mischief, and thereby, as far

as in him lies, becomes an aider and abetior of the " It leads also to this inconvenience, that the English line greatly

crime. exceeds the ancient oue in literal length, so that it is actually too The publication of a lascivious book is one of the long for any page, if printed in types of the ordinary proportion to worst offences which can be committed against the the size of the book, whatever that may be. The same inconvenience was formerly felt in that fine measure of the Elizabethan age, 1be well-being of society. It is a sin, to the consequences seven-footed couplet; which, to the diminution of its powers, was, for

of which no limits can be assigned, and those coosethat reason, divided into quatrains (the pauso generally falling upon quences no after repentance in the writer can counter the eighth syllable), and then converted into the common ballad Whatever remorse of conscience he may feel stanza. The hexameter cannot be thus divided, and iberefore must generally look neither like proso por poetry. This is noticed as

when his hour comes (and come it must!) will be of no merely a dissight, and of no moment, our poetry not being like that avail. The poigoancy of a death-bed repentance cannot of the Chinese, addresse. I to the eye instead of the ear.

cancel one copy of the thousands which are sent abroad;


and as long as it continues to be read, so long is he the in mercy prepare the kingdom to suffer, what He by pander of posterity, and so long is he heaping up guilt miracle only can prevent!» upon his soul in perpetual accumulation.

No apology is offered for these remarks. The subject These remarks are not more severe than the offence led to them; and the occasion of introducing them was deserves, even when applied to those immoral writers willingly taken, because it is the duty of every one, who have not been conscious of any evil intention in whose opinion may have any influence, to expose the their writinys, who would acknowledge a little levity, a drift and aim of those writers who are labouring to little warmth of colouring, and so forth, in that sort of subvert the foundations of human virtue, and of human language with which men gloss over their favourite happiness. vices, and deceive themselves. What then should be said

IV. of those for whom the thoughtlessness and inebriety of Returning to the point from whence I digressed, I am wanton youth can no longer be pleaded, but who have aware not only that any metrical innovation which meets written in sober manhood and with deliberate purpose ? the eye of the reader generally provokes his displeasure,

- Men of diseased hearts and depraved imaginations, but that there prevails a particular prejudice against the who, forming a system of opinions to suit their own introduction of hexameters in our language. The exunhappy course of conduct, have rebelled against the periment, it is alleged, was tried in the Elizabethan age, holiest ordinances of human society, and hating that and failed, though made under the greatest possible revealed religion which, with all their efforts and bra- advantages of favour, being encouraged by the great vadoes, they are unable entirely to disbelieve, labour to patron of literature, Sir Philip Sidney, (in letters, as make others as miserable as themselves, by infecting well as in all other accomplishments and all virtues, the them with a moral virus that eats into the soul! The most illustrious ornament of that illustrious court,) and school which they have set up may properly be called by the Queen herself. the Satanic school; for though their productions breathe That attempt failed, because it was made upon a the spirit of Belial in their lascivious parts, and the spirit scheme which inevitably prevented its success. No of Moloch in those loathsome images of atrocities and principle of adaption was tried. Sidney and his followhorrors which they delight to represent, they are more ers wished to subject the English pronunciation to the especially characterized by a Satanic spirit of pride and rules of Latin prosody: but if it be difficult to reconcile audacious impiety, which still betrays the wretched feel the public to a new tune in verse, it is plainly imposing of hopelessness wherewith it is allied.

sible to reconcile them to a new pronunciation. There This evil is political as well as moral, for indeed moral was the farther obstacle of unusual and violent elisions; and political evils are inseparably connected. Truly and, moreover, the easy and natural order of our speech has it been affirmed by one of our ablest and clearest was distorted by the frequent use of forced inversions, reasoners," that «the destruction of governments may be which are utterly improper in an uninflected language. proved and deduced from the general corruption of the Even if the subjects for the experiment had been judisubjects' manders, as a direct and natural cause thereof, ciously chosen, and well composed in all other respects, by a demonstration as certain as any in the mathema- these errors must have been fatal; but Sidney, whose tics. There is no maxim more frequently enforced by prose is so full of imagery and felicitous expressions Machiavelli, than that where the manners of a people that he is one of our greatest poets in prose, and whose are generally corrupted, there the government cannot other poems contain beauties of a high order, seems to Jong subsist,-a truth which all history exemplifies; and have lost all ear for rhythm, and all feeling of poetry, a there is no means whereby that corruption can be so when he was engaged in metrical experiments. surely and rapidly diffused, as by poisoning the waters What in Sidney's hands was uncouth and difficult, of literature.

was made ridiculous by Stanihurst, whose translation Let rulers of the state look to this, in time! But, to of the four first books of the Æneid into hexameters is use the words of South, if « our physicians think the one of the most portentous compositions in any

lanbest way of curing a disease is to pamper it,—the Lord guage. No satire could so effectually have exposed the

measure to derision. The specimens which Abraham 'Suomi poetæ in omni poetaram seculo viri fuerunt probi : in nostris id vidimus et videmus; neque alius est error a veritate lon- Fraunce produced were free from Stanihurst's eccentrigius quam magna ingenia magnis necessario corrumpi vitiis. Se- cities, and were much less awkward and constrained cundo plerique posibabent primum, hi malignitate, illi ignorantia ; than Sidney's. But the mistaken principle upon which et quum aliquem inveniunt styli morumque vitiis notatum, nec in- the metre was constructed was fatal, and would have ficetum tamen nec in libris edendis parcum, eum stipant, praedicant, occupant, amplectuntur. Si mores aliquantulùm vellet corrigere, si proved so even if Fraunce had possessed greater powers of stylum curare paululum, si ferrido ingenio temperare, si moræ lao- thought and of diction. The failure therefore was comtillam interponero, tùm ingens nescio quid et verè ac epicum, qua- plete, and for some generations it seems to have preventdraginta annos natus, procuderat. Ignorant verò febriculis non in- ed any thought of repeating the experiment. dicari vires, impatientiam ab imbecillitate non differre ; ignorant a levi homine et inconstante mulia fortasse scribi posse plus quam mo For example: diocria, nihil compositum, arduum, aternum.

Neither be benrs reverence to a prince, nor pity to a beggar. SAVAGTUS LANDOR, De Cultu atque Usu Latini Sermonis. That to my advancement their wisdoms have me a based. This essay, which is full of fine critical remarks and striking Well may a pastor plain ; but, alas! bis plaints be not esteemed. thoughts felicitously expressed, reached me from Pisa, while the opprest with ruidoùs conceits by the help of an outcry. proof of the present sheet was before me. Of its author (the author Despair most tragical clause to a deadly request, of Gebir and Count Julian), I will only say in this place, that, to Hard like a rich marble: hard but a fair diamond. have obtained his approbation as a poet, and possessed his friend * Tbat the reader may not suppose I have deprociated Sidney and ship as a man, will be remembered among the honours of my life, his followers, by imputing to the faults of their execution a failure when the petty enmities of this generation will be forgotten, and its which ibe nature of the metre itself might explain, I have added a ephemeral reputations will have past away.

fow fair samples at the end of the Notes.

A writer in the Censura Literaria (vol. iv, 386) bas said, that

2 South.


Goldsmith, in later days, delivered an opinion in its favour, observing, that all the feet of the ancient poetry

I. are still found in the versification of living languages,

THE TRANCE. and that it is impossible the same measure, composed of the same times, should have a good effect upon the / 'T was at that sober hour when the light of day is reear in one language, and a bad effect in another. He

ceding, had seen, he says, several late specimens of English And from surrounding things the hues wherewith day hexameters and sapphics, so happily composed, that

has adorn'd them they were, in all respects, as melodious and agreeable to Fade, like the hopes of youth, till the beauty of earth the ear as the works of Virgil and Horace. What these

is departed : specimens were I have not discovered ::—the sappbics Pensive, though not in thought, I stood at the window, may possibly have been those by Dr Watts. Proofs of

beholding the practicability of the hexameter were given about Mountain and lake and vale; the valley disrobed of its twenty years ago, by some translations from the Messiah

verdure; of Klopstock, which appeared in the Monthly Magazine; Derwent retaining yet from eve a glassy reflection and by an eclogue, entitled The Showman, printed in Where his expanded breast, then still and smooth as a the second volume of the Annual Anthology. These

mirror, were written by my old friend Mr William Taylor of Under the woods reposed: the hills that, calm and maNorwich, the translator of Burger's Lenora :-of whom

jestic, it would be difficult to say, whether he is more deserv- Lifted their heads in the silent sky, from far Glaramar, edly admired by all who know him for the variety of Bleacrag, and Maidenmawr, to Grizedal and westermost his talents, the richness and ingenuity of his discourse,

Withop. and the liveliness of his fancy, or loved and esteemed by Dark and distinct they rose. The clouds had gatherd them for the goodness of his heart. In repeating the

above them experiment upon a more adequate scale, and upon a High in the middle air, huge, purple, pillowy masses, subject suited to the movement, I have fulfilled one of while in the west beyond was the last pale tint of the the hopes and intentions of my early life.


Green as a stream in the glen whose pure and chrysolite hexameters were . much in vogue, owing to the pernicious example of Spenser and Gabriel Ilarvey.. They were never in vogue. There Flow o'er a schistous bed, 2 and serene as the age of the is no reason to believe, that Spenser ever wrote an English bexame

righteous. ter ;--and Gabriel llarvey's example only incurrad ridicule. With so little knowledge of facts, and so little regard to accuracy, are

Earth was hushed and still; all motion and sound were confident assertions sometimes made!

suspended : Gabriel Harvey was one of the great promoters of the attempt; Neither man was heard, bird, beast, nor humming of ond Spenser, who was his intimate friend, is believed to have sanc

insect, tioned it by his opinion-certainly not by his example. That great master of versification has left only one piece which is not written Only the voice of the Greta, heard only when all is in in rhyme. It was printed in Davison's Poetical Rhapsodie, and is

stillness. inserted in Warton's Observations on the Faery Queen, vol. ii, p. Pensive I stood and alone, the hour and the scene had 245,- The author bas called it an lambic Elegy, but neither by any

subdued me, rule of quantity, or violence of accentuation, can it be reduced 10

And as I gazed in the west, wliere lofinity seem'd to be iambics.

open, It is generally supposed," says Goldsmith, - that the genius of Yearn'd to be free from time, and felt that this life is a the English langoage will not admit of Greek or Latin measure; but

thraldom. this, we apprebend, is a mistake owing to the prejndice of education. It is impossible that the same measure, composed of the same times, should have a good effect upon the ear in one language, and Thus as I stood, the bell which awhile from its warua bad eflect in apother. The truth is, we have been accustomed

ing had rested, from our infancy to the numbers of English poetry, and the very sound and signification of the words dispose the car 10 receive them

Sent forth its note again, toll, toll, through the silence in a certain manner; so that its disappointment must be attended

of evening. with a disagreeable sensation. In imbibing, the first rudiments of T is a deep dull sound that is heavy and mournful at education, we acquire, as it were, another ear for the numbers of

all times, Greek and Latin poetry; and this being reserved entirely for the sounds and significations of the words that constitute ihose dead

For it tells of mortality always. But heavier this day languages, will pot easily accommodate itself to the sounds of our Fell on the conscious ear its deeper and mournfuller vernacular tongue, though conveyed in the same time and measure.

import, In a word, Latin and Greek base andered 10 them the ideas of tho Yca, in the heart it sunk; for this was the day when ancient measure, from which they are not easily disjoined. But we will venture to say, this difficulty might be surmounted by an effort

the herald of attention and a little practice; and, in that case, we should in Breaking his wand should proclaim, that George our lime be as well please I with Englisli, as with Latin boxameters,»

King was departed. Goldsálta's Essays, vol. ii, p. 265.

Thou art released! I cried : thy soul is deliver'd from 2 Mr Park (Censura Literaria. vol. iv, 233) mentions an attempt

bondage! to revive what he calls this obsolete whimsey, by an anonymous

Thou who hast lain so long in mental and visual darkwriter in 1737, who translated the first and fourth Eclogues of Virgil, etc. into hexametrical verse; and prefixed a vindication of bis ar

ness, lempt, with directions for the reader's pronunciation..

Thou art in yonder lieaven! thy place is in light and in I venture to hope that this excellent English scholar will no longer

glory. think the scheme of writing English hexameters a mere whimsey. Glad, indeed, should I be, if my old acquaintance were to be as well pleased with the present attempt, as I have been with some of his

Come, and behold !--methought a startling Voice Morning Thoughts and Midnight Musings.

from the twilighie


bereft me;

with prayer.

Answered; and therewithal I felt a stroke as of light- | Penetrate there. That low and subterranean chamber ping,

Saw not the living ray, nor felt the breeze ; but for ever With a sound like the rushing of winds, or the roaring Closely immured, was seal'd in perpetual silence and of waters.

darkness. If from without it came, I knew not, so sudden the Whence then this lovely light, calm, pure, and soft, and seizure;

cerulean, Or if the brain itself in that strong flash had expended Such as the sapphire sheds ? And whence this air that All its clectric stores. Of strength and of thought it


Strength while I breathe it in, and a sense of life, and a Hearing, and sight, and sense, were gone ; and when I

stillness, awaken'd,

Filling the heart with peace, and giving a joy that con"T was from a dream of death, in silence and utter most

tents it? darkness;

Not of the Earth chat light; and these paradisiacal breathKnowing not where or how, nor if I was rapt in the body,

ings, Nor if entranced, or dead, but all around me was black- Not of the Earth are they ! ness,

These thoughts were passing within me, Utterly blank and void, as if this ample creation When there arose around a strain of heavenly music, Had been blotted out, and I were alone in the chaos. Such as the hiermit liears when Angels visit his slumbers. Yet had I even then a living hope to sustain me Faintly it first began, scarce heard; and gentle its rising, Under that awful thought, and I strengthen'd my spirit Low as the softest breath that passes in summer at


O'er the Eolian strings, felt there when nothing is moving, Comfort I souglıt and support, and both were found | Save tlie thistle-down, liglater than air, and thie leaf of the in retiring

aspin. Toto that inner world, the soul's stronghold and her | Then as it swell'd and rose, the thrilling melody kingdom.

deepen'd; Then came again the Voice, but then no longer appalling, Such, methought, should the music be, which is heard Like the voice of a friend it came : 0) son of the Muses!

in the cloister, Be of good heart, it said, and think not that thou art By the sisterhood standing around the beatified Virgin, abandon'd;

Wlien with her dying eyes she sees the firmament open, For to thy mortal sight shall the Grave unshadow its Lists from the bed of dust her arms towards her secrets;

beloved, Such as of yore the Florentine saw, Hell's perilous cham-Ulters his name adored, and breathes out her soul in a bers

rapture. He who trod in his strength; and the arduous Mountain of Penance,

Well could I then believe such legends, and well

could I credit And the regions of Paradise, sphere within sphere intercircled.

All that the poets old relate of Amphion and Orpheus; Child of Earth, look up! and behold what passes before How to melodious sounds wild beasts their strength thee.

have surrender'd, Men were reclaim'd from the woods, and stones in har

monious order II.

Mov’d, as their atoms obey'd the mysterious attraction

of concord. THE VAULT.

This was a higher strain; a mightier, holier virtue

O'ercome by the piercSo by the unseen comforted, raised I my head in obe-Came with its powerful tones. dience,

ing emotion, And in a vault I found myself placed, arch'd over on all Dizzy I grew, and it seem'd as though my soul were sides.

dissolving. Narrow and low was that house of the dead. Around it How might I bear unmovd such sounds? For, like as were coffins,

the vapours Each in its niche, and palls, and urns, and funeral hatch: Melt on the mountain side, when the sun comes forth ments;

in his splendour, Velvets of Tyrian dye, retaining their hues unfaded;

Even so the vaulted roof and whatever was carthly Blazonry vivid sti!), as if fresh from the touch of the Faded away; the Grave was gone, and the dead was Jimner;

awaken'd. Nor was the golden fringe, nor the golden broidery tarnish u.

III. Whence came the liglit whereby that place of deathi was discover'd ?

THE AWAKENING. For there was there no lamp, whose wonderous flame inextinguish'd,

Then I beheld the King. From a cloud which cover'd As with a vital power endned, renewing its substance,

the pavement Age after age unchanged, endureth in self-subsistence : His reverend form uprose: heavenward his face was Nor did the cheerful beam of day, direct or reflected,



Heavenward his eyes were rais'd, and heavenward his Oh that my King could have known these things! could arms were extended.

have witness d how England Lord, it is past! he cried; the mist, and the weight and Check'd in its full career the force of her enemy's the darkness ;

empire, That long and weary night that long drear dream of Singly defied his arms and his arts, and baffled them desertion.

singly, Father, to Thee I come! My days have been many and Rous'd from their lethal sleep with the stirring example

the nations, Heavy my burthen of care, and grievous hath been my And the refluent tide swepe him and his fortune beaffliction.

fore it. Thou hast releas'd me at length. O Lord, in Thee have Oh that my King, ere be died, might have seen the fruit I trusted ;

of his counsels! Thou art my hope and my strength!- And then in profound adoration,

Nay, it is better thus, the Monarch piously answer'd; Crossing his arms on his breast, lie bent and worshippa Here I can bear the joy; it comes as an earnest of in silence.

Righteous art Thou, O Lord! long-suffering, but sure

are thy judgments.
Presently one approach'd to greet him with joyful

Then having paused awhile, like one in devotion Hle of whom in an hour of woe, the assassin bereavd us

abstracted, When his counsels most, and his resolute virtue were Earthward his thoughts recurred, so deeply tlie care of needed.

his country Thou, said the Monarch, here?- Thou, Perceval, sum

Lay in that royal soul reposed: and he said, Is the spirit mon'd before me?

Quell'd which hath troubled the land? and the multitude Then as his wakend mind to the weal of his country

freed from delusion, reverted,

Know they their blessings at last, and are they conWhat of his son, he ask'd, what course by the Prince

tented and thankful? had been follow'd. Right in his Father's steps hath the Regent trod, was Still is that fierce and restless spirit at work, was the

the answer: Firm batlı he proved and wise, at a time when weakness still it deceiveth the weak, and inflameth the rash and

the desperate. Would leave sunk us in shame, and to ruin have hurried

Even now, I ween, some dreadful deed is preparing; us headlong.

For the Souls of the Wicked are loose, and the Powers True to himself hath he been, and Heaven has rewarded

of Evil his counsels.

Move on the wing alert. Some nascent borror they

look for, Peace is obtain'd then at last, with safety and honour! Be sure! some accursed conception of filth and of the Monarch

darkness Cried, and lie clasp'd his hands;- thank Thee, o Ripe for its monstrous birth. Whether France or Bricain merciful Father!

be threaten d, Now is heart's desire fulfill d.

Soon will the issue show; or if both at once are enWith honour surpassing

danger'd :3 All that in elder time had adora'd the annals of England, For with the ghosts obscene of Robespierre, Danton, Peace hath been won by the sword, the faithful minister

and Hebert, answer'd.

Faux and Despard I saw, and the band of rabid fanatics, Paris hath seen once more the banners of England in They whom Venner led, who rising in frantic rebellion triumph

Made the Redeemer's pame their cry of slaughter and Wave within her walls, and the ancient line is esta

blish'd While that man of blood, the tyrani, faithless and

IV. godless, Render'd at length the sport, as long the minion of

THE GATE OF HEAVEN. Fortune, Far away, confined in a rocky isle of the ocean, Taus as he spake, methought the surrounding space Fights his battles again, and pleas'd to win in the

dilated, chamber

Over head i beheld the infinite ether; beneath us What he lost in the field, iu sancy conquers his con- Lay the solid expanse of the firmament spread like a queror.

pavement : There be reviles his foes, and there the ungrateful Wheresoever I look'd there was light and glory around


or error



[blocks in formation]


For his own defaults the men who too faithfully servd Brightest it seem'd in the East, where the New Jerusalem

glitter'd. Frets and complains and intrigues, and abuses the Eminent on a hill, there stood the Celestial City; mercy that spared liim.

Beaming afar it shone; ils towers and cupolas rising

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