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Title: Letters Concerning Poetical Translations - And Virgil's and Milton's Arts of Verse, &c.
Author: Benson, William, 1682-1754
Language: English
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LETTERS

CONCERNING

Poetical Translations, &c.

(Price One Shilling.)



LETTERS

CONCERNING

Poetical Translations,

AND

VIRGIL'S and MILTON'S

ARTS of VERSE, &c.



_LONDON_:
Printed for J. ROBERTS, near the _Oxford-Arms_
in _Warwick-Lane_. MDCCXXXIX.



LETTER I.


_SIR,_

I am now going to obey your Commands; but you must let me do it in my
own way, that is, write as much, or as little at a time as I may have
an Inclination to, and just as things offer themselves. After this
manner you may receive in a few Letters, all that I have said to you
about poetical Translations, and the resemblance there is between
_Virgil's_ and _Milton's_ Versification, and some other Matters of the
same nature.

To begin with the Business of Translation.

Whoever sits down to translate a Poet, ought in the first place to
consider his Author's peculiar _Stile_; for without this, tho' the
Translation may be very good in all other respects, it will hardly
deserve the Name of a Translation.

The two great Men amongst the Antients differ from each other as much
in this particular as in the Subjects they treat of. The Stile of
_Homer_, who sings the Anger or Rage of _Achilles_, is _rapid_. The
Stile of _Virgil_, who celebrates the Piety of _Æneas_, is
_majestick_. But it may be proper to explain in what this Difference
consists.

The Stile is _rapid_, when several Relatives, each at the head of a
separate Sentence, are governed by one Antecedent, or several Verbs by
one Nominative Case, to the close of the Period.

Thus in _Homer_:

  "Goddess, sing the pernicious Anger of _Achilles_, which brought
  infinite Woes to the _Grecians_, and sent many valiant Souls of
  Heroes to Hell, and gave their Bodies to the Dogs, and to the Fowls
  of the Air."

Here you see it is the Anger of _Achilles_, that does all that is
mentioned in three or four Lines. Now if the Translator does not
nicely observe _Homer's_ Stile in this Passage, all the Fire of
_Homer_ will be lost. For Example: "O Heavenly Goddess, sing the Wrath
of the Son of _Peleus_, the fatal Source of all the Woes of the
_Grecians_, that Wrath which sent the Souls of many Heroes to
_Pluto's_ gloomy Empire, while their Bodies lay upon the Shore, and
were torn by devouring Dogs, and hungry Vultures."

Here you see the Spirit of _Homer_ evaporates; and in what immediately
follows, if the Stile of _Homer_ is not nicely attended to, if any
great matter is added or left out, _Homer_ will be fought for in vain
in the Translation. He always hurries on as fast as possible, as
_Horace_ justly observes, _semper ad eventum festinat_; and that is
the reason why he introduces his first Speech without any Connection,
by a sudden Transition; and why he so often brings in his [Greek: ton
d' apameibomenos]: He has not patience to stay to work his Speeches
artfully into the Subject.

Here you see what is a _rapid_ Stile. I will now shew you what is
quite the contrary, that is, a _majestic one_. To instance in
_Virgil_: "Arms and the Man I sing; the first who from the Shores of
_Troy_ (the Fugitive of Heav'n) came to _Italy_ and the _Lavinian_
Coast." Here you perceive the Subject-matter is retarded by the
_Inversion of the Phrase_, and by that _Parenthesis_, the _Fugitive of
Heaven_ all which occasions _Delay_; and _Delay_ (as a learned Writer
upon a Passage of this nature in _Tasso_ observes) is the Property of
Majesty: For which Reason when _Virgil_ represents _Dido_ in her
greatest Pomp, it is,

  --_Reginam_ cunctantem _ad limina primi_
  _Poenorum expectant_.--

For the same Reason he introduces the most solemn and most important
Speech in the _Æneid_, with three Monosyllables, which causes great
Delay in the Speaker, and gives great Majesty to the Speech.

  --_O Qui Res_ Hominumq; Deumq;--

These three Syllables occasion three short Pauses. _O--Qui--Res_--How
slow and how stately is this Passage!

But it happens that I can set the Beginning of the _Æneid_ in a clear
Light for my purpose, by two Translations of that Passage, both by the
same Hand; one of which is exactly in the manner of _Virgil_, the
other in the manner of _Homer_: The two Translations are made by the
Reverend Mr. _Pitt_. He published the first among some Miscellany
Poems several Years since, the latter in his four Books of the _Æneid_
about two Years ago.

I.

  "Arms and the Man I sing; the first who driv'n
  From _Trojan_ Shores, the Fugitive of Heav'n,
  Came to th' _Italian_ and _Lavinian_ Coast;--

II.

  "Arms and the Man I sing, the first who bore
  His Course to _Latium_ from the _Trojan_ Shore.--

The first Translation is exact in every respect: You have in it the
Suspence and Majesty of _Virgil_. The second is a good Translation,
though not at all like _Virgil_, but exactly like _Homer_: There is no
Hesitation, but the Verse and the Matter hurry on together as fast as
possible.

I have now shown you what is a _rapid_, and what is a _majestick
Stile_. But a few more Lines of the Beginning both of the _Iliad_ and
of the _Æneid_ will make it still more plain.

  ILIAD.

  "The Anger of _Achilles_, Goddess, sing;
  Which to the _Greeks_ did endless Sorrows bring;
  And sent untimely, to the Realms of Night,
  The Souls of many Chiefs, renown'd in Fight:
  And gave their Bodies for the Dogs to tear,
  And every hungry Fowl that wings the Air.
  And thus accomplish'd was the Will of _Jove_,
  Since first _Atrides_ and _Achilles_ strove.
  What God the fatal Enmity begun?
  _Latonâ_'s, and great _Jove_'s immortal Son.
  He through the Camp a dire Contagion spread,
  The Prince offended, and the People bled:
  With publick Scorn, _Atrides_ had disgrac'd
  The Reverend _Chryses_, _Phoebus'_ chosen Priest.
  He to redeem his Daughter, sought the Shore,
  Where lay the _Greeks_, and mighty Presents bore:
  Deckt with the Ensigns of his God, he stands,
  The Crown, the golden Sceptre in his Hands;
  To all he su'd, but to the Princes most,
  Great _Atreus_'s Sons, the Leaders of the Host:
  Princes! and _Grecian_ Warriors! may the Gods
  (The Pow'rs that dwell in Heav'ns sublime Abodes)
  Give you to level _Priam_'s haughty Tow'rs,
  And safely to regain your native Shores.
  But my dear Daughter to her Sire restore,
  These Gifts accept, and dread _Apollo_'s Pow'r;
  The Son of _Jove_; he bears a mighty Bow,
  And from afar his Arrows gall the Foe.


  ÆNEID.

  Arms and the Man I sing, the first who driv'n
  From _Trojan_ Shores, the Fugitive of Heav'n,
  Came to th' _Italian_ and _Lavinian_ Coast;
  Much o'er the Earth was He, and Ocean tost,
  By Heavenly Powers, and _Juno_'s lasting Rage;
  Much too He bore, long Wars compell'd to wage;
  E'er He the Town could raise, and of his Gods,
  In _Latium_ settle the secure Abodes;
  Whence in a long Descent the _Latins_ come,
  The _Albine_ Fathers, and the Tow'rs of _Rome_.


Sept. 6. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._

I Should not part with the Passage in _Homer_ above-mentioned without
observing that the Speech of _Apollo_'s Priest is wonderfully
Peinturesque, and in Character. We plainly see the Priest holding up
his Hands, and pointing with his Crown and Sceptre to Heaven.

  "Princes! and _Grecian_ Warriors! may the Gods
  (The Pow'rs that dwell in Heav'ns sublime Abodes)

It is a Priest that speaks, and his Audience is composed of Soldiers
who had liv'd ten Years in a Camp. He does not only put them in mind
of the _Gods_, but likewise of the _Place_ where they dwelt, and at
the same time points up to it. Neither is the Conclusion of the Speech
less remarkable than the Beginning of it: The Priest of _Apollo_ does
not end in an humble supplicant manner like a common Suitor; but he
frankly offers his Presents, and threatens the Generals and Princes he
addresses himself to, with the Vengeance of his God if they refuse his
Request: And he very artfully lets them know that his God is not a
Deity of inferior Rank, but the Son of _Jove_; and that his Arrows
reach from a great Distance. The next Line to those last mentioned I
cannot omit taking notice of, because it contains, in my Opinion, one
of the most beautiful Expressions in all the poetical Language. _To
give to do a thing._

  "Princes! and _Grecian_ Warriors! may the Gods
  (The Pow'rs that dwell in Heav'ns sublime Abodes)
  _Give you to level Priam_'s haughty Tow'rs,
  And safely to regain your native Shores.

_Virgil_ was so sensible of this charming Expression, that he has used
it in the three following Passages, and I believe in one or two others
in the very first _Æneid_.

  "--_Tibi Divum paler atque hominum rex
  Et mulcere_ dedit _fluctus & tollere vento_.--

  "--_Tu_ das _epulis accumbere Divûm_.--

  "_O regina, novam cui condere Jupiter urbem
  Justitiaque_ dedit _gentes frænare superbas_:--

_Salvini_ in his _Italian_ Translation in 1723, dedicated to his late
Majesty, is attentive to all the Beauties of the Passage in _Homer_
last mentioned.

  "--_A voi gl' Iddii,
  Che l'Olimpie magioni abitan_, dieno
  _Espugnar ilio e a casa far ritorno_."



LETTER II.


_SIR_,

I Should now go upon the Comparison of _Virgil_'s and _Milton_'s
Versification, in which you will meet with that Paradox, as you
thought it at first, namely, that the principal Advantage _Virgil_ has
over _Milton_ is _Virgil_'s Rhyme. But I beg leave to postpone that
matter at present, because I have a mind to make some Remarks upon the
second Line in the Translation of the beginning of the _Iliad_
mentioned in my former Letter, in which the auxiliary Verb _did_ (as
our Grammarians call it) is made use of. The Line runs thus.

  "Which to the _Greeks did_ endless Sorrows bring.

It is commonly apprehended from a Passage in Mr. _Pope_'s _Essay on
Criticism_, that all auxiliary Verbs are mere _Expletives_.

  "While Expletives their feeble Aid _do_ join,
  And ten low Words oft creep in one dull Line.

But this I believe Mr. _Pope_ never intended to advance. _Milton_ has
used them in many Places, where he could have avoided it if he had
pleased. I will produce one.

  --"Him the most High
  Wrapt in a balmy Cloud with fiery Steeds
  _Did_, as thou saw'st, receive.--

_Milton_ might have said,

  "Receiv'd, as thou hast seen.--

But he thought the auxiliary Verb added Strength to the Expression, as
indeed it does. I own where the auxiliary Verb is brought close to its
principal, and _that_ a thin monosyllable, as in the Line just now
referred to, the Verse is very rude and disagreeable. But to prove
that the auxiliary Verb may be employed properly, I will produce an
Instance in rhym'd Verse, as strong as that of _Milton_ just
mentioned.

  "Then _did_ the roaring Waves their Rage compose,
  When the great Father of the Flood arose.

_Pit's_ 1st Æneid.

I believe it will not be disputed, but that this Line is as full, as
sonorous, and majestick as if the auxiliary Verb had been left out,
and the Author had used _compos'd_ instead of _did compose_. The
Expression is certainly more beautiful and more poetical; and the
reason of it is, that it occasions suspence, which raises the
attention; or in other Words the auxiliary Verb gives notice of
something coming, before the principal thing itself appears, which is
another Property of Majesty. Mr. _Dryden_'s authority might likewise
be added on this occasion; even in his celebrated Lines on _Milton_ it
is to be met with.

  "_Greece_, _Italy_, and _England did_ adorn.

In his Translation of the _Æneid_ there are many Instances of the same
nature, one of which I will mention;

  "The Queen of Heav'n _did_ thus her fury vent.

The Metre of this Line, as the Words are here rang'd, is not bad, as
the Ear can judge; but it would have been extremely so, if he had writ
it thus,

  "The Queen of Heaven her Fury thus _did_ vent.[A]

[Footnote A:
  His Heart, his Mistress and his Friends _did_ share.
                                                _Pope_, on _Voiture_.]

From whence it appears that the auxiliary Verb is not to be rejected
at all times; besides, it is a particular Idiom of the _English_
Language: and has a Majesty in it superior to the _Latin_ or _Greek_
Tongue, and I believe to any other Language whatsoever.

Many Instances might be brought to support this Assertion from Great
Authorities. I shall produce one from _Shakespear_.

  --_This to me
  In dreadful Secrecy impart they_ did.

The Auxiliary Verb is here very properly made use of; and it would be
a great loss to _English_ Poetry, if it were to be wholly laid aside.
In Translations from the _Greek_ and _Latin_, I believe it wou'd
sometimes be impossible to do justice to an Author without this Help:
I think the Passage in _Homer_ before us, I mean the two first Lines
of the _Iliad_, are an Instance of this kind. They have been
translated by many Persons of late, _Dryden_, _Manwaring_, Mr.
_Tickel_, and by Mr. _Pope_ twice, and not by any one of 'em, as I
apprehend, in the Spirit of _Homer_. As to Mr. _Pope_'s two
Translations, I don't understand why the latter ought to be preferr'd
to the former. Mr. _Pope_'s first Translation stood thus.

  The Wrath of _Peleus'_ Son, the direful Spring
  Of all the _Grecian_ Woes, _O_ Goddess sing.

Mr. _Pope_ had reason to be dissatisfy'd with the _O_ in the second
Line, and to reject it; for _Homer_ has nothing of it. But now let us
see how the Vacancy is supplied in Mr. _Pope_'s new Translation.

  _Achilles'_ Wrath, to _Greece_ the direful Spring
  Of Woes un-number'd, _Heav'nly_ Goddess, sing.

Is not _Heav'nly_ as much an Expletive as _O_, and can either of these
Couplets deserve to be plac'd in the Front of the Iliad? I could wish
Mr. _Pope_ would return these two Lines once more to the Anvil, and
dismiss all Expletives here at least. But enough of Expletives.

I shall now say something of _Monosyllables_, which seem to be
absolutely condemn'd in the second Line of the two Verses just
mention'd from Mr. _Pope's Essay on Criticism_.

  And ten low Words oft creep in one dull Line.

Mr. _Dryden_ indeed has said in several Places, that the vast Number
of _Monosyllables_ in our Language makes it barbarous and rough, and
unfit for Poetry. I am apt to think Mr. _Pope_ gave into Mr.
_Dryden_'s Sentiment a little too hastily. I own _ten low Words_ too
frequently _creep on in one dull line_, in a Poet's Works, whom Mr.
_Pope_ has formerly celebrated with no mean Encomiums.

The following Lines afford an Example in this respect.

At the beginning of the third Book of the _Davideis_, this is the
Description of _Goliah_'s Sword.

  "A Sword so great, that _it_ was only _fit_
  To take off his great Head, who came with _it_.
                                                             _Cowley._

Here are ten _dull_ Words most certainly in one _dull_ Line.

  "To take off his great Head, who came with _it_.

And miserable is the Metre in which they creep on. But hundreds of
_monosyllable_ Lines are to be found in _Milton_ that are as sublime,
as beautiful, and as harmonious as can possibly be written. Look only
into the Morning Hymn in the fifth Book.

  "Speak ye who best can tell, ye Sons of Light.

Again,

  "Thou Sun! of this great World both Eye and Soul.

Again,

  "And when high Noon hast gain'd, and when thou fall'st.

Again,

  "With the fixt Stars, fixt in their Orb that flies.

Again,

  "Breathe soft or loud; and wave your Tops, ye Pines.

Again,

  "Bear on your Wings and in your Notes his Praise.

Can it be said that ten dull Words creep on dully in any one of these
Lines? But Examples may likewise be given in rhym'd Verse, of the
Harmony of _Monosyllables_. Harmony consists in mixing rough and
smooth, soft and harsh Sounds. What Words can be rougher than such as
these, _Rides_, _Rapt_, _Throws_, _Storms_; or smoother than these,
_Wheel_, _Hush_, _Lull_?

  "Then mounted on his radiant Carr he _rides_,
  And _wheels_ along the level of the Tides.
                                                    _Pit_'s 1st Æneid.

How rough is the first Line, how soft the latter! As soft as the
Original, which is a Masterpiece.

  "_Rapt_ by his Steeds he flies in open Day,
  _Throws_ up the Reins, and skims the watry Way.

  "Has given to thee great _Æolus_ to raise
  _Storms_ at thy sov'reign Will, and _smooth_ the Seas.


  "He spake, and speaking chas'd the Clouds away,
  _Hush'd_ the loud Billows, and restor'd the Day.

  "Mean time the Goddess on _Ascanius_ throws,
  A balmy Slumber and a sweet Repose.
  _Lull'd_ in her Lap to Rest, the Queen of Love,
  Convey'd him to the soft _Idalian_ Grove.
                                                    _Pit_'s 1st Æneid.

Where can a smoother Line than this be found in our Language?

  "_Lull'd_ in her Lap to Rest, the Queen of Love.

And it may be observed that this Line is all Monosyllables.

_Monosyllables_ are likewise of great consequence on another account.
The Strength of the _English_ Language is greatly owing to them: For
to them it is principally obliged for its Conciseness; and Conciseness
is Strength. Now Conciseness is not only to express ourselves in as
few Words as we can, but the Excellency of the Language shews itself,
if those few Words are composed of few Syllables. And herein upon
Examination, the Strength of the _English_ Tongue will be found to
lye; and for this reason it may be said to be more concise than the
_Latin_; which will appear if _Virgil_ is turned into _English_, I
mean even _English_ Verse. For Example:

  "--_Ubi tot Simois correpta sub undas
  Scuta virum, Galeasq; & fortia Corpora volvit._

  "Where _Simois_ Streams incumber'd with the slain,
  Roll'd Shields, and Helms, and Heroes to the Main.
                                                    _Pit_'s 1st Æneid.

To discover which of these two Passages is the most concise, it is not
sufficient to shew, that there are two whole _English_ Lines, and but
one Line and three Parts of another in the _Latin_. _Latin_ and
_English_ Lines cannot be compared together, because in a _Latin_ Line
there are six Feet, and in an _English_ Line but five. Again, in
_Latin_ Verse there must be in every Line one Foot of three Syllables,
often three or four, or even five Feet of three Syllables, and
sometimes four or five Syllables in one Foot. Whereas in an _English_
Line, there is hardly ever more than two Syllables in a foot. So that
an _English_ Verse cannot be compared with the _Latin_ by the Line, or
by the Foot, but only by the Syllables of which the Words are
composed, which make the Feet in both the Languages. The Business then
is to enquire whether we write or pronounce more Syllables in the
_Latin_ or _English_ Verses here quoted: Upon Enquiry it appears that
there are twenty nine Syllables in the _Latin_, and but twenty one in
the _English_; so that the _English_ is almost one third part less
than the _Latin_; which certainly shews the former to be much more
concise than the latter, there being nothing left out in the
_English_, but the whole Thought is rather more fully expressed: And
this we see is owing to _Monosyllables_ both Verbs and Nouns,
_Streams_, _Slain_, _Shields_, _Roll'd_, _Helms_, _Main_. In short the
whole Passage is equal to the Original in Majesty and Harmony, and
superior in Conciseness.

To give another Example or two of the same nature.

  "_Urbs antiqua fuit, Tyrii tenuere Coloni,
  Carthago, Italiam contra, Tyberinaque longe
  Ostia, dives opum, studiisque Asperrima Belli._

  "Against the _Italian_ Coast, of ancient Fame
  A City rose, and _Carthage_ was the Name;
  A _Tyrian_ Colony, from _Tyber_ far,
  Rich, rough, and brave, and exercis'd in war.
                                                    Mr. _Pit_'s Æneid.

  "--_Facti de Nomine Byrsam,
  Sed vos, qui tandem, quibus aut venistis ab oris,
  Quove tenetis iter?_--

  "Hence _Byrsa_ nam'd.--But now ye Strangers, say,
  Who, whence you are, and whither lies your Way?

I have chosen here three Passages of three very different kinds, and
in all of them the _English_ appears to be much more concise than the
_Latin_; neither is there any thing wanting in the Fulness of the
Sense, or in Majesty, or in Harmony of Numbers, any more in the two
last Passages than in the former. Another Instance of this kind might
be produced out of _Virgil_'s most perfect Work, the _Georgick_,
although it wants the Advantage of being translated by such a Hand as
Mr. _Pit_'s.

  "_Si vero Viciamq; seres vitemq; Faselum,
  Nec Pelusiacoe curam aspernabere lentis._

  "But if the Vetch you sow, or meaner Tare,
  Nor shall disdain th' _Ægyptian_ Lentil's Care.

In the _Latin_ there are thirty Syllables in the two Lines, in the
_English_ but twenty one. So that the _English_ is almost one third
more concise than the _Latin_; and at the same time _Virgil_'s Sense
fully expressed.

I will conclude this Letter with the Opinion of a Foreigner concerning
our Monosyllables: A Person not at all prepossessed in favour of our
Language.

"The _English_ Language, besides the most significant Words borrowed
from the _Latin_, _Greek_, &c. and often shortned, hath a vast Stock
of its own, and being for the most part Monosyllables, no Speech is
capable of expressing Thought in Sounds so few as the _English_ does:
This is easily observed by the Translations of the _English_ into
Foreign Languages.

  "The Strength and Conciseness that Monosyllables (especially in
  Verbs) produce, are of wonderful Use in Lyrick Poetry, because they
  Enter into any Foot or Measure of Verses, by different
  Transpositions; so that I dare venture to assert, there is no
  _Italian_ or Foreign Song, which _English_ Words will not suit; the
  Variety of Feet and Metres producing equal Variety of Mode and
  Movements in Composition. The want of this is what makes the
  _French_ vocal Musick so confined and uniform; for I cannot
  recollect above two of their Verbs in use in the infinitive Mood,
  that are Monosyllables, and not one exact Dactile in all their
  Polysyllables."
                            _Röner_'s Preface to his _Melopeïa Sacra_.

Sept. 13. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._



LETTER III.


_SIR,_

In comparing _Virgil_'s and _Milton_'s Versification, I shall begin
with _Virgil_; and shew some of the principal Beauties of his Poetry
in this respect: And here I must own myself not a little indebted to
_La-Cerda_, _Pontanus_ and _Pierius_, but above all to the most
excellent _Erythræus_, who has not only considered every Paragraph,
every Line, every Foot, every Word, and every Syllable, but even every
Letter in _Virgil_; and it is not easy to conceive how much may depend
on a single Letter, very often the whole Harmony of a Line; and on
this Account we have vast Obligations to _Pierius_; to him we owe this
fine Verse, and many others.

  "_Atq; rotis summas levibus_ pellabitur _undas_.--

All the common Editions read _perlabitur_; which is horrid to the ear.
But to go on with the Matter in hand. The principal Excellencies of
_Virgil_'s Versification consist of the several following Particulars.

1st, The continual varying of the Pause.

2d, The Inversion of the Phrase.

3d, The adapting of the Sound to the Sense.

4th, The mixing of the singular and plural Numbers.

5th, The giving Majesty and Strength to his Verse with the connecting
Particles _Que_ and _Et_.

6th, The _Collocatio Verborum_, or artful way of placing Words.

7th, The changing the common Pronunciation of Words.

8th, Verses contrary to the common Measure.

9th, 10th, and 11th, His _Alliteratio_, _Allusio Verborum_, and
_Assonantia Syllabarum_.

As these three last Articles arise from Observations perfectly new at
the time they were written by _Erythræus_, namely, about 200 Years
ago; and as new at this time, having been almost quite lost by I know
not what Accident to the World; I must follow my Master, and use his
Terms for his Discoveries, except where I differ a little from him.


1st, To begin with the first Article mentioned in this Letter, _The
Varying of the Pause_. This Subject I have met with in several Books,
but not fully explained in any one of them to my Capacity; for I must
confess I should never have thoroughly apprehended the Varying of the
Pause in any Language, if I had not thought of an Expedient to
discover what is the common Pause in a Verse that each Language
naturally stops at, of which I have any Knowledge.

To find out this, I consulted the middling sort of Poets, or the first
Practicers in this Art: In this Enquiry I observ'd from _Hesiod_ and
_Ennius_ among the _Greek_ and _Latin_ Poets, and afterwards from
_Ovid_ with relation to the latter, and which I am now to speak of,
that the common Pause or Stop in all _Latin_ Heroick Verse (to say
nothing of the _Greek_, which agrees with it in this Respect) is upon
the 1st Syllable of the 3d Foot. For Example,

  "_Ante mare & tellus | & quod tegit omnia, cælum,
  Unus erat toto | Naturæ vultus in orbe,
  Quem dixêre Chaos | rudis indigestaque moles;
  Nec quicquam, nisi pondus, iners; | congestaque eodem
  Non bene junctarum | discordia semina rerum.
  Nullus adhuc mundo | præbebat lumina Titan;
  Nec nova crescendo | reparabat cornua Phoebe,
  Nec circumfuso | pendebat in aëre tellus_--

Here we have eight Lines all paused in the same Place, except one,
(the 4th); and in this kind of Measure the _Metamorphosis_ is
generally written; from whence I collected the natural Pause in the
_Latin_ Language to be as abovementioned: I then consulted the best
Poem of the best _Latin_ Poet, which begins with these Lines.

  "_Quid faciat lætas segetes, | quo Sydere Terram
  Vertere, | Mæcenas, | ulmisque adjungere Vites
  Conveniat, | quæ cura Boum, | qui cultus habendo
  Sit Pecori, | Apibus quanta experientia parcis
  Hinc canere incipiam |._--

Here I observed that this great Master had artfully avoided the common
Pause till he came to the fifth Line; and he takes care to do it as
much as possible throughout the whole Work; from whence arises one of
the most material Differences in the Versification of _Ovid_ and
_Virgil_; and to produce more Examples would be a needless Labour. In
this Place let me take Notice that it is on Account of Varying the
Pause that _Virgil_ makes his broken Lines in the _Æneid_, which
suspend all Pauses, and the Ear is relieved by this Means, and attends
with fresh Pleasure. Whoever intends to come up to _Virgil_ in Harmony
in Heroick Numbers in any long Work, must not omit this Art.


2d, The next thing to be attended to, is, _The Inversion of the
Phrase_. This flings the Stile out of Prose, and occasions that
Suspense which is the Life of Poetry. This _builds the lofty Rhyme_
(as _Milton_ expresses it) in such manner as to cause that Majesty in
Verse of which I have said so much before, that there is no need of
saying any thing more here.


3d. The third thing is, _The adapting the Sound to the Sense_.

Most People know such Instances of this Nature, as _Quadrupedante_,
&c. and _Illi inter sese_, &c. But few attend to an Infinity of other
Examples.

How is the Verse drawn out in length, and how does it labour when
strong heavy Land is to be ploughed!

  "--_Ergo, age terræ
  Pingue solum, primis extemplo a Mensibus Anni
  Fortes invortant tauri._--

How nimbly does the Verse move when the turning over very light Ground
is represented!

  "--_Sub ipsum
  Arcturum_, tenui s[=a]t erit _suspendere sulco_.--

How slow does the heavy Waggon proceed in this Line!

  "_Tardaque Eleusinæ Matris Volventïa Plaustra._--

How does the Boat bound over the _Po_ in these two Hemisticks!

  "--_Levis innatat alnus
  Missa Pado._--

See Feathers dancing on the Water in this!

  "--_In aqua colludere plumas._--

No Stem of the Crab-tree is more rough than this Verse.

  "_Inseritur vero ex foetu nucis arbutus horrida:_

Water is not more liquid than this.

  "_Speluncisque lacus Clausos, lucosque sonantis._--

_S. & L. liquescit Carmen instar aquarum_, says _Erythræus_ in his
Note on this Line.

How gently flow the Streams in this Verse!

  "_Unde pater Tiberinus, & unde Aniena fluenta._--

What a roaring do the _Hypanis_ and _Caicus_ make in the next!

  "_Sax[=o]sumque s[=o]nans Hypanis, Mysusque Caïcus._

But now observe how he raises his Song to honour his Favourite
_Eridanus_!

  "_Et gemina_ auratus _taurino cornua vultu_
  Eridanus; _quo non_ alius _Per Pinguia culta
  In mare purpureum v[=i]olent[=i]or [=i]nflu[=i]t amn[=i]s._

The former Line strikes the Ear with _Mysus_ and _Caïcus_; here you
have _Auratus_, _Eridanus_, and _Alius_. Then an Alliteration, _Per
Pinguia_, and at last the whole Passage rolls on in a Dactyl Line, and
rushes into the Sea with an _Assultus_ of the Vowel _i_, repeated five
times in three Words.

  "--_Violentior influit amnis._

The following Line tours into the Skies with the highest Mountain in
_Italy_.

  "--_Gaudetque nivali
  Vertice se attollens pater Appeninus, ad auras._--

This falls down as low as the deepest Valley.

  "_Saxa per, & scopulos, & depressas convalles._

In short there is nothing in Nature that _Virgil's_ Verse does not
convey to the _Ear_, and the _Eye_; so that this Subject is
inexhaustible, and must be left to every one's particular Observation.

The learned _Morhophius_ has a Passage relating to this Matter which
comes in too properly here to be omitted.

  "Solent Carminibus suæ esse a Numeris Veneres, & certa quædam
  Artificia, quæ mirifice ornant versum, quales apud Virgilium, mirum
  numeri Poetici Observatorem, frequenter occurrunt, e.g. cum versus
  terminantur Monosyllabis, ut: _procumbit humi bos: nascetur
  ridiculus mus_. Vel cum Spondæi multi adhibentur, ut; _media agmina
  circumspexit: Illi inter sese magnâ vi brachia tollunt_. Aut cum
  Dactyli & Spondæi ita miscentur, ut REI NATURAM EXPRIMANT, ut cum de
  turri ruente ait:

  "--_Convellimus altis
  Sedibus; impulimusq;, ea lapsa repente_ ruinam
  _Cum sonitu trahit_.--

  "Talia infinita apud Virgilium habentur quæ homo in iis non
  exercitatus contemnat, doctus vero & prudens admiretur.
                                                           _Polyhist._

There is also a Remark of the judicious _Columna_ on a celebrated Line
in _Virgil_, which is very much to the present Purpose.

  _Unus Homo Nobis Cunctando Restituit Rem._]

Virgilius de eodem loquens Æneid l. 6. integrum hoc carmen sumpsit,
ita tamen, ut _spondeorum tarditate Fabii moram referret_,

  --tu Maximus ille es,
  Unus, qui nobis cunctando restituis rem.
                                                          _Enn. Frag._

Sept. 21, 1736,

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._

The Passage in the learned _Muhlius_, which I should have inserted at
the beginning of this Letter, I send you in a Postscript. You have
seen it before, but it is worth reading more than once. You know it
belongs principally to the Article that treats of _the varying the
Pause_.

  "Neque potest unus idemque semper tenor in carmine usurpari, sed
  debet is pro varià periodorum Poeticarum ratione distingui. Et ut
  insurgat decore & intumescat aliquando, iterumque remittat, ubi opus
  est, consequimur cæsorum ac periodorum sola inæqualitate. Quod
  pulcerrime observat _Virgilius_, cujus alia mensura, alia pedum
  compositio est in narrationibus, descriptionibus, orationibus, &
  tanta periodorum numerorumque variatio, ut ad eam perfectionem nihil
  addi possit. Hujus rei quanta negligentia in _Statio_, _Lucano_,
  _Claudiano_, _Silio Italico_? Ubi admirabilis illa harmonia,
  suavitas, gravitas ipsorum pedum æqualiter, inæqualiter
  temperatorum, per clausulas verborum fractorum, ac intra regiones
  suas aliter aliterq; interceptorum? Ut de junctura illa literarum
  nihil addam, cum vocales ac consonantes ipsæque syllabæ ita
  miscentur, ut rei naturam tam apte jucundeque exprimant, ut ea
  _geri_ potius quam _cani_, _spectari_ magis quam _audiri_ videatur.
  Talia infinita sunt apud _Virgilium_, quæ captum imperitorum longe
  excedunt, doctiores vero & prudentiores impense admirantur; quæ
  nihil tritum, vulgare, hiuclum nihil elumbe ac contortum patiuntur,
  at nescio quid virile & stupendum plane, ac majus humana voce
  videntur sonare. _Claudianus_ certe istud fastigium non attingit, &
  quod in _Maroniana_ dictione, in illa periodorum ac numerorum
  varietate præclarum putamus, vix est, ut ejus vel levem umbram
  ostentet. Sic eadem semper oberrat chorda, quod ridiculum existimat
  magnus iste dicendi magister."



LETTER IV.


_SIR_,

[Sidenote: IV.]

The fourth thing to be consider'd is, _Virgil_'s _mixing the Singular
and Plural Numbers_. This has a wonderful Effect, and is very
diligently attended to by _Virgil_; but I believe never once thought
of by _Ovid_, or any other _Roman_ Writer in the Days of _Augustus_.

  "_Quid faciat lætas_ Segetes, _quo sidere_ terram
  _Vertere, Mæcenas, ulmisque adjungere_ vites,
  _Conveniat: quæ cura boum, qui cultus habendo
  Sit_ pecori, apibus _quanta experientia parcis_.

Here you have _segetes_ and _terram_, and then _vites_, and after that
_pecori_ and _apibus_.

Again,

  "--_Camposque, & flumina late
  Curva tenent: ut molle_ siler, _lentæque_ genistæ,
  Populus, & _glauca canentia fronde_ Salicta.
  _Pars autem posito surgunt de semine: ut altæ_
  Castaneæ; _nemorumq; Jovi quæ maxima frondet_
  Esculus, _atque habitæ Graiis oracula_ quercus.

Here are _Siler_ and _Genistæ_, _Populus_ and _Salicta_, _Castaneæ_
and _Esculus_, and _Quercus_.

Again,

  "Arma Virumque _cano, Trojæ qui primus ab oris_
  Italiam, _fato profugus_, Lavinaque _venit_
  Litora. _Multum ille &_ terris _jactatus &_ alto,
  _Vi_ Superum _sævæ memorem_ Junonis _ob iram.
  Multa quoq; & bello passus, dum conderet_ urbem,
  _Inferretque_ Deos _Latio_: genus _unde Latinum
  Albanique_ patres, _atque altæ moenia Romæ_.

These _two first Words_ of the _Æneid_ are an Example
of what I am taking notice of; and then we have in this Introduction
_Italiam_ and _Litora Lavina_, _Terris_ and _Alto_, _Superum_ and
_Junonis_, _Urbem_ and _Deos_, _Genus_ and _Patres_.

But the most beautiful Passage of this Nature is in the _Georgics_.
Here the thing to be done, and the Instrument with which it is to be
done, are varied alternately.

  "_Quod nisi & assiduis_ terram _insectabere_ rastris,
  _Et_ sonitu _terrebis_ aves, _& ruris opaci_
  Falce _premes_ umbras, votisq; _vocaveris_ imbrem.

Terram _rastris_, sonitu _aves_, falce _umbras_, votis _imbrem_.

Upon which _La Cerda_ makes this Remark:

  "_Placet_ Virgilius _semper, sed cur placeat sæpe ignoratur. In
  rebus quatuor recensendis numquam pluralem cum plurali, neque
  singularem cum singulari, quod minus ad varietatem: sed semper cum
  singulari pluralem. Unica terra multis rastris insectanda est, unica
  pluvia multis votis petenda. Contra, multæ aves terrendæ unico
  sonitu, multæ umbræ unica falce compescendæ._"

Now in _Ovid_ nothing of this Art is to be found.

  "_Ante_ mare & tellus, _& (quod tegit omnia)_ coelum,
  _Unus erat toto naturæ_ vultus _in orbe,
  Quem dixere_ chaos: _rudis indigestáque_ moles,
  _Nec quicquam nisi_ pondus _iners_.

Here are _Mare_, _Tellus_, _Coelum_, _Vultus_, _Chaos_, _Moles_, and
_Pondus_, without any one word of the Plural Number amongst them.


V. The next Particular to be taken notice of, is _Virgil_'s uncommon
Use of the Particles _Et_ and _Que_.

  "--_Multum ille_ et _terris jactatus_ et _alto_;
  _Multa quoque_ et _bello passus_--
  Et _premere_, et _laxas sciret dare jussus habenas_.

And more frequently in his most finish'd Piece.

  _Quid tibi odorato referam sudantia ligno.
  Balsama_que, et _Baccas_--
  _Quod nisi_ et _assiduis terram insectabere rastris_,
  Et _sonitu terrebis aves_, et _ruris opaci
  Falce premes umbras, votis_que _vocaveris imbrem.
  Si vero viciam_que _seres, vilem_que _Faselum_.

This Manner of using these connecting Particles, gives Majesty and
Strength to the Verse. It gives Majesty, because it occasions Suspense
and raises the Attention. For Example:

  _Si vero Viciam_que _seres_--

Here the _que_ hinders the Sense from being concluded, till you have
read the rest of the Line,

  --_Vilemque Faselum._

But if the Poet had writ (supposing the Verse would have allowed it)

  _Si vero Viciam seres_--

the Reader would have understood him without going any farther; and it
is easily perceiv'd the Verse would have been very flat to what it is
now. This double Use of the Particles gives Strength to the Verse;
because, as the Excellent _Erythræus_ observes, the copulative
Conjunctions are in Language of the same Use as Nerves in the Body,
they serve to connect the Parts together; so that these Sorts of
Verses which we are speaking of may be very properly called, Nervous
Lines.

This Art _Virgil_ most certainly learnt from _Homer_: for there is
nothing more remarkable in _Homer_'s Versification, nothing to which
the Majesty of it is more owing, than this very thing, and I wonder
none of his Commentators (that I have seen) have taken notice of it.
There are four in the 23 first Lines of the Iliad, of this Kind. I
will put the _Latin_ for the sake of the generality of Readers.

  _Atrides_que, _rex virorum,_ et _nobilis Achilles.
  Redempturus_que _filiam, ferens_que _infinitum pretium liberationis,
  Atridæ_que, et _alii bene ocreati Achivi,
  Reverendum_que _esse sacerdotem,_ et _splendidum accipiendum
  pretium_.
                                               Clarke's _Translation_.


VI. I come now to the _Collocatio Verborum_, of which there is no
occasion to give any more than one Instance:

  "_Vox quoque per lucos vulgo exaudita silentes_
  Ingens.--

The Reader cannot but perceive that the Manner of placing _Ingens_ has
a wonderful Effect; it makes him hear the melancholy Voice _groan
through the Grove_.


VII. The _changing the common Pronunciation of Words_, as thus:

  _"Fluvi[)o]rum Rex Eridanus._--

And

  _"Strid[)e]re apes utero & ruptis efferv[)e]re costis._


VIII. _Lines contrary to the common Measure_, or rather without any
Measure at all, _viz._

  "_Quod fieri ferro, liquidove potest electro,
  Saxa per & scopulos & depressas convalles._



IX, X, XI. These are the three Articles formerly mentioned, namely,
the _Alliteratio_, the _Allusio Verborum_, and the _Assonantia
Syllabarum_.


1. As to the _Alliteratio_. This is of several Kinds, it is _Initial_,
_Single_ and _Double_; sometimes _Treble_, or more frequent. It is
likewise _Mix'd_, that is, both in the first Letters of the Words, and
in the following Syllables. It is sometimes so often repeated, that it
may be term'd _Assultus_, or an Attack upon, or a storming of the Ear.

The following are Examples of the _Single Alliteratio_.

  "_Quid faciat lætas_ segetes, _quo_ sidere _terram_
  Vertere, _Mæcenas_, _ulmisque adjungere_ vites,
  Conveniat: _quæ_ cura _boum_, _qui_ cultus _habendo_.

Again,

  "--_Sed_ viva volare
  _Sideris in numerum_.--

And,

  "--_Asia longe_
  Pulia palus.--

Of the _Double_ initial _Alliteratio_, this is an Example:

  "_Totaque thuriferis Panchaia pinguis arenis._

Of the _Treble_ and more frequent initial _Alliteratio_, this is an
Instance:

  "_Et sola in siccâ secum spatiatur arena._

The _Mix'd Alliteratio_, and the _Assultus_ are to be found in these
two Lines:

  "Illas _ducit_ amor trans Gargara, transque sonantem
  Ascanium: superant _montes_, & flumina tranant.

In these two Lines the Vowel _a_ is repeated fourteen times, and what
an Effect this has upon the Ear, the Reader cannot but perceive.


2. Of the _Allusio Verborum_, the following are Examples:

  "_Nec nocturna quidem carpentes pensa puellæ._

Again,

  "_Hoc metuens; molemque & montes insuper altos._

Again,

  "_Stat sonipes, ac frena ferox spumantia mandit._

Again,

  "_Vitavisse vices Danaum._


3. Of the _Assonantia Syllabarum_ or _Rhyme_, there are in _Virgil_
the several following Sorts.

1. _The plain direct Rhyme_, which is of two Kinds, _Single_ or
_Double_.

2. _The intermediate_ or _casual plain Rhyme_.

3. _The scanning conclusive Rhyme_. So called, because it would hardly
be perceived by the Generality of Readers, unless they first scann'd
the Verse; but when they have done that in three or four Lines, the
Ear will afterwards make the necessary Distinction without any farther
trouble.

I will explain and give Examples of all these several sorts of _Rhyme_
in their Order.


1. To treat of the plain _Single_ direct _Rhyme_. The following Verses
are Examples of this sort of Rhyme: But to make them more like our
own, I will divide the Verse into two Parts.

  "_Poculaque inventis
  Acheloia miscuit uvis._

  "_Totaque Thuriferis
  Panchaia pinguis arenis._

  "_Et premere, & laxas
  Sciret dare, jussus habenas._

  "_Atque rotis summas
  Levibus pellabitur undas._

  "_O nimium coelo
  Et pelago confise sereno._

Many more of these Lines might be produced, but these are sufficient.

Of the plain direct _Double_ Rhyme (which is the Sort of Rhyme the
_Spectator_ speaks of No. 60, and which the Monks were in Love with)
the following are Instances.

  "_Hic labor extremus, lon_garum _hæc meta vi_arum.

Again,

  "_I nunc & verbis
  Virtutem illude superbis._

Again,

  "_Cornua veletarum
  Obvertimus Antennarum._


2. _Of the intermediate plain Rhyme_, the following are Examples.

  "Imposuit, _regemque_ dedit, _qui foedere certo_.

And,

  "_Descendo, ac ducente_ Deo _flammam inter & hostes_.

In this Passage _Virgil_ uses _Deus_ in speaking of a _Goddess_, for
no other Reason imaginable but to enrich his Verse with Rhyme.


3. Of the _scanning conclusive Rhyme_ the following are Instances.

  "_Sylvestrem tenui musam medi--taris [=a]--ven[=a]_.

  "_Nudus in ignota pali--nure j[=a]--cebis [=a]--ren[=a]_.

From whence it appears that _Virgil_'s Poetry is almost all Rhyme of
one kind or other; and it is evident beyond Dispute that he generally
concludes his strong, sounding, majestick Paragraphs with a full
Rhyme, for which I refer to that fine Line already more than once
mentioned, which sums up the Praises of _Italy_.

  "_Totaque thuriferis Panchaia pinguis arenis._

And to the Conclusion of his finest work.

  "_Hic vero subitum, ac dictu mirabile monstrum
  Aspiciunt: liquefacta boum per viscera toto
  Stridere apes utero, & ruptis effervere costis,
  Immensasque trahi nubes; jamque arbore summa
  Confluere, & lentis uvam demittere ramis._

And to this I will add the last Line of the Epilogue to the
_Georgicks_.

  "_Tytyre te patulæ cecini sub tegmine fagi._

Where the two several Hemisticks or Parts of the Verse Rhyme each to
itself.

I would observe here that both _Ovid_ and _Lucan_, for want of
Judgment, begin with a full Rhyme; the consequence of which is, that
the Conclusion of the Paragraph is less sonorous than the Beginning,
which must needs have a bad Effect.

  "_In nova fert animus muta_tas _discere for_mas.
                                                                 Ovid.

  "_Bella per Æmath_ios _plus quam Civilia Cam_pos.
                                                                Lucan.

But a modern Writer, and a much better Composer of _Latin_ Verses than
either _Ovid_ or _Lucan_, has with great Judgment taken care to follow
_Virgil_'s Example in this and many other Particulars. I mean
_Vanerius_. There are a great Number of Lines in his _Prædium
Rusticum_ which are worthy of _Virgil_ himself: I shall entertain you
with some of them.

In his Kitchen-Garden, the following Passage is a Description of all
the numerous Family of Colworts, or the Cabbage-kind.

  "_Quid dicam quanta jactat se Brassica laude?
  Sive volubilibus redit in se frondibus, Orbesque
  Orbibus agglomerans, capitis sub mole laborat;
  Tornato similes Ebori seu candida Flores
  Ediderit, seu Coniacas imitata Cupressus,
  Seque suas plicat in frondes, & acumen in album
  Desinit, & tenui venit haud ingloria Mensæ.
  Sive hieme in media cum cætera frigore torpent
  Loeta viret, Boreamque trucem, Caurosque malignos
  Despiciens, vacuis ultro Dominatur in hortis._"

In his Description of the Farm-yard, he paints the following several
Sorts of Fowls in this Manner:

  "_Se pictæ cervicis_ Anas | _& Garulus_ Anser
  _Tarda mole movent: | habitu_ Gallina _modesto
  Progreditur: | Caudam_ Gallus _Cristasque rubentes
  Erigit, | & motis sibi plaudit Lætior alis_."

And I cannot omit this most charming Verse which describes the
Courtship of a Pigeon.

  "_Sæpe solum verrens Pennâ pendente rotatur._"

  "Oft with his trailing Wing the wanton Dove
  Brushes the Ground, and wheels about his Love.

Such Verse as this must please in all Ages, and in all Countries,
where the Readers have any Taste and Delicacy of Ear. All the Beauties
of _Virgil_'s Poetry are in these Lines; and you may observe in the
four last mentioned,


1. How curiously the _Pause_ is varied.

In the first Line it is upon the first Syllable of the fourth Foot.

In the second Line it is upon the first Syllable of the third Foot.

In the third Line it is upon the first Syllable of the second Foot.

In the fourth Line it is upon the last Syllable of the first Foot.


2. Observe the _initial Alliteration_ in the first, second and third
Lines.

In the first, _Anas_ and _Anser_.

In the second, _Mole_, _Movent_, and _Modesto_.

In the third, _Caudam_, _Cristasque_.


The mixt Alliteration in the first Line where _Garrulus_ is placed
betwixt _Anser_ and _Anas_, makes the Verse very sonorous; but the
mixt Alliteration in the last Line where the Vowel _i_ is repeated
eight times in seven Words, is a very masterly Stroke;

  "_Er_i_g_i_t, & mot_i_s s_i_b_i _plaud_i_t loet_i_or al_i_s_."

  --I_lle h_i_nc concentus_ i_n omn_i
  _Carm_i_ne D_i_v_i_n_i _vat_i_s_.--

Which _extempore_ Remark is itself an Instance of what I am taking
notice of as imitated from _Virgil_.


3. You will perceive the _Allusio Verborum_ to have a very good Effect
in the second Line.

  "_Tarda m_o_le m_o_vent, habitu gallina m_o_dest_o."


4. The mixing the singular and plural Numbers in the third Line is
very judicious.

  "_Caudam_ Cristasque _rubentes_.

_Ovid_ would have said,

  "_Caudam_ Cristamque--


Lastly, The full Rhyme in the fourth Line makes the whole Paragraph
very harmonious. It is not improper to produce here the Conclusion of
the Description of _Æolus_'s Cave, which is one of the finest Passages
in the _Æneid_.

  "_Sed pater omnipotens spelunc_is _abdidit at_ris
  _Hoc metuens_, mo_lemque &_ mo_ntis insuper altos
  Imposu_it, _regemque ded_it, _qui foedere certo
  Et premere, & lax_as _sciret dare jussus haben_as.

Would not any body think that _Vanerius_ intended to vie with _Virgil_
in this Place?

October 2. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._

The Examples I have given in this Letter of _plain direct Rhyme_ are
only in _long_ or _heroic_ Verse, but I might have instanc'd in _Lyric
Lines_. _Horace_ abounds in Rhyme. In the first Ode we find

  _Metaque fervidis
  Evitata rotis
  Palmaque nobilis
  Illum si proprio
  Condidit horreo_

and several others.

In two of his finest Odes the following Lines are as full Rhymes as
can possibly be made,

  _Nec venenatis
  Gravida sagittis
  Pone me Pigris
  Ubi nulla campis
  Arbor æstiva
  Recreatur Aura
  Aut in umbrosis
  Heliconis Oris
  Aut super Pindo
  Gelidove in Hæmo._

The two last are doubly rhym'd.



LETTER V.


_SIR,_

I am now to consider _Milton_'s Versification under the same Heads as
I have considered _Virgil_'s, so far as there is Opportunity of doing
it.


I. To begin with _The Varying of the Pause_, which is the Soul of all
Versification in all Languages. Verse is Musick, and Musick is more or
less pleasing as the Notes are more or less varied, that is, raised or
sunk, prolonged or shortned. In order to judge of the varying of
_English_ Versification, I first endeavour'd (as I have already said,
with respect to the _Latin_) to find out the common Pause in _English_
Verse, that is, where the Voice naturally makes some sort of Stop when
a Verse is read. To this purpose I look'd into Mr. _Cowley_'s
_Davideis_ (for it would be of no use to quote such Authors as
_Quarles_ and _Ogilby_, who never had any Reputation for Poetry; but
this Gentleman has been stil'd, and is at present recorded in
_Westminster-Abbey_, as _Anglorum Pindarus_, _Maro_, _Flaccus_) and
there I soon found the common Pause to be upon the last Syllable of
the second Foot. For Example:

  "I sing the Man | who _Judah_'s Sceptre bore
  In that Right-hand, | which held the Crook before;
  Who from best Poet, | best of Kings _did_ grow:
  The two chief Gifts | Heav'n could on Man bestow.
  Much Dangers first, | much Toil did he sustain,
  Whilst _Saul_ and Hell | crost his strong Fate in vain.
  Nor did his Crown | less painful Work afford--

Here we have seven Lines, and all of them, except the third, paus'd in
the same place.

Thus I discovered from _Cowley_ in _English_ what I perceived from
_Ovid_ in _Latin_. I then turned to the _Paradise Lost_, and there I
found _Milton_ even surpasses _Virgil_ in this particular. _Virgil_
uses the common Pause at the fifth Line of the _Georgicks_, but
_Milton_ does not use it till he comes to the sixth Line in his
_Paradise Lost_.

  "Of Man's first Disobedience | and the Fruit
  Of that forbidden Tree | whose mortal Taste
  Brought Death into the World | and all our Woe,
  With Loss of _Eden_ | 'till one greater Man
  Restore us | and regain the blissful Seat,
  Sing Heavenly Muse |--

It would be needless to produce more Examples to this purpose; and I
believe I may venture to affirm that the Verse is varied at least with
as much Skill in the _Paradise Lost_, as even in the _Georgick_
itself: I am inclinable to think with more, because in this respect
the _English_ Language surpasses the _Latin_, by reason of its
Monosyllables, of which I have said enough for any body at all versed
in these Matters, to be able to make out what is here advanc'd. But
before I quit this Article, I will observe that it is to the artful
and uncommon varying the Pause, that the Harmony is owing in those two
celebrated Lines of Sir _John Denham_.

  "Tho' deep | yet clear; | tho' gentle | yet not dull.
  Strong | without Rage, | without o'erflowing | full.

This is one of those Mysteries in Versification which the late Duke of
_Bucks_ would not suffer Mr. _Dryden_ to communicate to the Publick.
To the same Art is owing the Delicacy of two of the finest Lines in
all the _Latin_ Tongue.

  "_Te | dulcis conjux | te | solo in littore | secum,
  Te | veniente die | te | decedente | canebat._

Of the same Nature are many Lines in _Milton_, of which this is one:

  "Him first | Him last | Him midst | and without End.


II. I come now to the second Particular: _The Inversion of the
Phrase_. Every Page affords Instances of this Nature.

  "--Him the Almighty Pow'r
  Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal Sky.

Again,

  "--Up stood the Corny Reed
  Embattell'd in her Field.--

Again,

  "--Him the most High
  Rapt in a balmy Cloud with winged Steeds
  Did, as thou saw'st, Receive.

And in one of _Milton_'s juvenile Poems we have

  "Trip the pert Fairies.--

And,

  "Revels the spruce jocund Spring.
                                                              _Comus._


III. The third thing to be consider'd, is, _The adapting the Sound to
the Sense_.

Who does not hear the Warbling of a _Brook_, the Rustling of _Wings_,
the rough Sound of _Trumpets_ and _Clarions_, and the soft one of
_Flutes_ and _Recorders_ in the following Lines?

  "Fountains, and ye that warble as ye flow
  Melodious Murmur warbling, tune his Praise.

Again,

  "--But Chief the spacious Hall
  Thick swarm'd, both on the Ground and in the Air,
  _Brush'd with the Hiss of rustling Wings_.

Again,

  "Then strait commands, that at the warlike Sound
  Of _Trumpets_ loud and _Clarions_, be uprear'd
  His mighty Standard.--

Again,

  "--Nor with less Dread, the loud
  Ethereal Trumpet from on High _'gan blow_.

Again,

  "--Thus they
  Breathing united Force with fixed Thought
  Mov'd on _in Silence to soft Pipes_.

Who does not see Porpoises and Dolphins tumbling about in the Ocean
when he reads this Line?

  "--On smooth the Seal,
  And bended Dolphins play: part huge of Bulk,
  Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their Gate,
  Tempest the Ocean.--

How variously the Rivers run in these Verses?

  "--So the watry Throng
  Wave rowling after Wave, where way they found,
  If steep, with Torrent rapture, if through plain
  Soft Ebbing.--

How is the Verse extended where the Whale lies at length upon the
Ocean!

  "--There Leviathan
  Hugest of living Creatures, on the Deep
  Stretch'd like a Promontory sleeps.--

How does the Line labour when the Elephant is working himself through
the stiff Clay, whilst the lesser Animals sprout up as it were in an
Instant!

  "--Scarce thro' his Mould
  _Behemoth_, biggest born of Earth, upheav'd
  His Vastness.--

And,

  "--Fleec'd the Flocks and bleating, rose
  As Plants.--

But I shall have occasion to take notice of this Subject hereafter.


IV. The fourth thing to be enquir'd into is, _The mixing of singular
and plural Numbers_, in which _Milton_ excels.

  "--Flowers were the Couch
  Pansies, and Violets, and _Asphodel_,
  And _Hyacinth_, Earth's freshest softest Lap.

Again,

  "--Through many a dark and dreary Vale
  They pass'd, and many a Region dolorous,
  O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,
  Rocks, Caves, Lakes, Fens, Bogs, Dens, and
  Shades of Death.

Again,

  "Sporting the _Lion_ ramp'd, and in his Paw
  Dandled the _Kid_; Bears, Tigers, Ounces, Pards,
  Gambol'd before them.--

Again,

  "--Sweet Interchange
  Of Hill and Valley, Rivers, Woods and Plains,
  Now Land, now Sea, and Shores with Forest crown'd
  Rocks, Dens and Caves.

Again,

  "The glittering Guard he pass'd, and now is come
  Into the blissful Field, thro' Groves of Myrrh,
  And flow'ry Odours, _Cassia_, _Nard_, and _Balm_.


V. As to the fifth Remark upon _Virgil_, which relates to his using
the Particles _Que_ and _Et_ in his Verse, there can be nothing of
that nature in _Milton_. So that I proceed to


VI. The sixth thing to be observed, which is, _The Collocatio
Verborum_.

_Milton_ often places the Adjective after the Substantive, which very
much raises the Stile.

  "Strait he commands that at the warlike Sound
  Of Trumpets _loud_, and Clarions, be uprear'd
  His mighty Standard. That proud Honour claim'd
  _Azazel_, as his Right; a Cherub _tall_.--

Again,

  "Thy Goodness beyond Thought and Pow'r _Divine_.--

And again,

  "Then from the Mountain hewing Timber _tall_.

But the utmost of his Art in this respect consists in his removing the
Adjective, the Substantive, and even the Verb, from the Line or Verse
in which the Sense is previously contained, and the grammatical
Construction inverted, to the Beginning of the next Line. This has a
wonderful Effect; especially when the Word is a Monosyllable.

  "Here finish'd he, and all that he had made
  _View'd_--and behold all was entirely good.

Again,

  "Over their Heads triumphant Death his Dart
  _Shook_--But refus'd to strike.

This artful Collocation commands the Attention, and makes the Reader
feel and see what is offer'd to him.

That this Effect is owing to the Collocation will appear by
considering any one of the Instances now produc'd. For Example:

  "Over their Heads triumphant Death his Dart
  _Shook_.--

This Passage makes the Reader see Death with his Dart in his Hand,
making it over the Heads of the unhappy Creatures describ'd in the
_Lazar-house_, as plainly as if the whole was painted upon Canvas. But
let this Line be alter'd thus:

  "Over their Heads Death shook his dreadful Dart.

How much of the Fire and Spirit of this Passage is lost, will be
easily perceiv'd.

I was long of Opinion that _Milton_ had invented this Art himself, for
I knew he had it not from _Virgil_: The _Latin_ Language is hardly
capable of it. But by Accident I found _Milton_ learn'd it from
_Homer_, though it is plain what is _Art_ in the former was _Chance_
in the latter; which cannot be disputed when it is considered that in
so many thousand Lines that we have of _Homer_'s, there is I believe
but one single Instance of this Monosyllable Collocation; but in
_Milton_ there are many, both Substantives, Adjectives and Verbs. The
single Instance in _Homer_ is in _Odysse_ 9. in the Story of
_Polyphemus_.

  [Greek: Sun de duô marpsas, hôs te phulakas poti gaiê / Kopt']
                                                   _Hom._ Odyss. _&c._

  "Two of my hapless Friends with all his Pow'r,
  Like Dogs, the Monster on the rocky Floor
  DASH'D.--

Can any body be insensible of the Power of this Word, _Dash'd_, as it
is here plac'd.

I remember an Instance of this Monosyllable Collocation at the
Beginning of a Line in rhym'd Verse, which is very well worth
inserting here. It is at the Conclusion of Mr. _Pit_'s 4th _Æneid_,
when _Juno_ sends _Iris_ from Heaven in haste to relieve _Dido_ from
the Agonies of Death.

  _"Tum Juno Omnipotens, longum miserata dolorem,
  Difficilesque obitus, Irim_ Demisit Olympo
  _Quæ luctantem animam, nexosque resolveret artus_.

  "Then mighty _Juno_ with a melting Eye,
  Beheld her dreadful Anguish from the Sky;
  And bade fair _Iris_ from the starry Pole,
  _Fly_, and enlarge her agonizing Soul.

How is the Verse animated by the placing that Monosyllable, _Fly_, at
the Beginning of the last Line.--The Reader sees all the Concern of
_Juno_, and all the Hurry she is in to get the unhappy Queen released
from the Pangs of Death.

_Milton_ likewise uses his Monosyllables very artfully in placing them
at the Conclusion of a Line, so as to divide the last Foot of the
Verse, which has a very extraordinary Effect.

  "Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou, _Deep_,
  Peace.

Again he divides the last Foot by making a Monosyllable the Beginning
of a new Sentence, which is very pleasing.

  "--Up flood the Corny Reed
  Imbattled in his Plain, the humble Furz
  And Bush with frisled Hair implicit. _Last_
  Rose as in Dance the stately Trees.

_Milton_ also sometimes places two Monosyllables at the End of the
Line, stopping at the 4th Foot, to adapt the Measure of the Verse to
the Sense; and then begins the next Line in the same manner, which has
a wonderful Effect.

  "Now at their shady Lodge arriv'd, _both stopt_,
  _Both turn'd_, and under open Sky ador'd
  The God who made, _&c._

This artful Manner of writing makes the Reader see them _Stop_ and
_Turn_ to worship God before they went into their Bower. If this
Manner was alter'd, much of the Effect of the Painting would be lost.

  "And now arriving at their shady Lodge
  _Both stopt, both turn'd_, and under open Sky
  Ador'd the God, _&c._

This falls very short of the Original. So in _Latin_,

  "_Jamq; domûs ventum est umbrosæ ad limina_: sistunt
  Ambo, ambo vertunt, & _aperto numen adorant
  Sub Coelo._--

Alter these Lines, thus,

  "_Et nunc Arborei ventum est ad limina tecti_;
  Sistunt Ambo, Ambo vertunt, & _numen Adorant
  Sub Coelo._--

There is here just the same Difference in the _Latin_ as in the
_English_.

I cannot omit two other Instances of _Milton_'s wonderful Art in the
Collocation of Words, by which the Thoughts are exceedingly
heighten'd.

  "Under his forming Hands a Creature grew
  Manlike, but different Sex, so lovely fair,
  That what seem'd fair in all the World, seem'd now
  _Mean_, or in her summ'd up.--

What a Force has that Word _mean_, as it is plac'd!

Again,

  "I turn'd my Thoughts, and with capacious Mind
  Considered all Things visible in Heav'n,
  Or Earth, or Middle, all Things fair and good;
  But all that Fair and Good, in thy Divine
  _Semblance_, and in thy Beauty's heav'nly Ray
  United I beheld--

I presume there is no other Language in which Perfection equal to this
is to be found: And I could give many more Instances of the same kind
out of the _Paradise Lost_.


VII. The seventh Particular in _Virgil_ was his _Varying the Common
Pronunciation_, in which _Milton_ has imitated him in several Places;
the following is one Instance.

  "--Thus to his Son au--[=di]--bly spake.

For so it must be read, and not after the common manner.

Again,

  "Hoarse Murmur eccho'd to his Words Applause
  Thro' the in--[=fi]--nite Host--

And the like in many other Places.


VIII. _His Verses contrary to the Common Measure._ The following is an
Example of this kind.

  "Drove headlong down to the Bottomless Pit.--

Those who may be apt to find fault with such Arts as these (for Arts
they are in _Virgil_ and _Milton_) little think what it is to write 10
or 12 thousand Lines, and to vary the Sound of them in such manner as
to entertain the Ear from the Beginning to the End of the Work.


IX. I come now to the _Alliteratio_.

And 1. To speak of the single _Alliteratio_. This is so common in
_Milton_, that you need but begin the Poem, or open any Page of it,
and you will meet with it.

  "Of Man's _first_ Disobedience, and the _Fruit_
  Of that forbidden _Tree_, whose mortal _Taste_
  Brought Death into the _World_, and all our _Woe_.

Again,

  "_Restore_ us, and _Regain_ the blissful Seat.

And

  "_Sing_ Heav'nly Muse! that on the _Secret_ Top.

And a little lower,

  "That _Shepherd_ who first taught the chosen _Seed_.

But I will produce an Example or two of this kind out of our Author's
juvenile Poems. His Verses upon the Circumcision are addressed to the
Angels that appear'd to the Shepherds, and begin thus,

  "Ye flaming Pow'rs, and _winged Warriors_ bright,
    That erst with Musick and triumphant Song
  Through the _soft Silence_ of the listning Night
    _So sweetly sung_ your Joy the Clouds along.

All the Masters of Verse from _Chaucer_ to _Milton_, and from _Milton_
to this time, were sensible of this Art. _Dryden_ attends to it more
than any thing else.

  "_Beneath_ the Shade which _Beechen Boughs_ diffuse,
  _You Tityrus_ entertain _your_ Sylvan Muse:
  _Round_ the _wide World_ in Banishment _we roam_,
  _Forc'd from_ our pleasing _Fields_ and native Home.

Again,

  _Arms and_ the Man I sing, who _forc'd_ by _Fate_
  And _haughty_ Juno's unrelenting _Hate_,
  _Expell'd_ and _Exil'd_, left the _Trojan_ Shore:
  _Long Labours_, both by Sea and _Land_ he bore.

Mr. _Pope_ begins his Poems with this Delicacy.

  "_First_ in these _Fields_ I try the _Sylvan Strains_,
  Nor _blush_ to sport on _Windsor's blissful_ Plains.
  _Fair_ Thames _flow_ gently _from_ thy _Sacred Spring_,
  While on thy Banks _Sicilian_ Muses _Sing_;
  Let Vernal Airs _thro' tre_mbling Osiers play,
  And _Albion_'s Cliffs _resound_ the _rural_ Lay.
  You, that too wise for _Pride_, too good for _Pow'r_
  Enjoy the _Glory_ to be _great_ no more.

Mr. _Pitt_ has the following Lines in his 2d _Æneid_.

  "So when an _aged Ash_, whose Honours rise
  From some _steep_ Mountain tow'ring to the _Skies_,
  With many _an Axe_ by _shouting Swains_ is ply'd,
  _Fierce_ they repeat the _Strokes from_ every _Side_;
  _The tall Tree trembling_, as the Blows go round,
  Bows the _high Head_, and nods to every Wound.

Sir _Philip Sidney_, who was very unhappy in Versification, seems to
have despised this Beauty in Verse, and even to have thought it an
Excellence to fix the Pause always in one Place, namely at the End of
the second Foot: So that he must have had no more Ear for Poetry than
Mr. _Cowley_. Not but that I am apt to think some Writers in Sir
_Philip Sidney_'s time carried this matter to a ridiculous Extreme.
Others thought this Beauty a Deformity, and concluded it so from two
or three silly _Latin_ Lines of _Ennius_ and _Tully,_ such as,

  _O Tite, Tute, Tati_, &c.

And,

  _O Fortunatam, natam_, &c.

without ever attending to _Virgil_ in the least.

_Spencer_ every where abounds in all his Works with _Alliterations_; I
will produce but one, which is exceeding beautiful.

  "The _Lilly, Lady_ of the _Flow'ry Field_.

Here is a double initial Alliteration, and a continual mix'd
Alliteration of the liquid _L_, which makes the Verse so very musical
that there are few such Lines in our, or any other Language.

_Fairfax_, who was one of the first curious Versifyers amongst us,
embellishes his Lines continually with this Ornament.

In his Description of a Troop of fighting Monks, in his first Book of
his Translation of _Tasso_, are these Lines.

  "Their jolly Notes, they _Chanted_ loud and _Clear_:
  And _horrid Helms high_ on their _Heads_ they bear.

Than which Verses nothing can be more truly poetical.

But to go farther back than either _Fairfax_ or _Spencer_, those
celebrated Lines in our antient Translation of the _Psalms_ owe their
greatest Beauty to their _Alliteration_.

  "The Lord descended from above,
  And bow'd the _Heavens high_,
  And underneath his Feet he cast
  The Darkness of the Sky.

  "On _Cherubs_ and on _Cherubims_
  Full _royally_ he _rode_,
  And on the _Wings_ of mighty _Winds_
  Came flying _all abroad_.

A Line of _Chaucer_'s just now offers itself to my Memory, which has
almost all the Arts of Poetry in it.

  "A _Sheffield_ Whittle bare _he_ in _his Hose_.

There is a fine Alliteration in the Conclusion of the Line, Bare _he_
in _his Hose_, and a mix'd one at the Beginning of it. The _h_ in the
first Syllables of the second and third Words mixes the Sound very
agreeably; and lastly, the Inversion of the Phrase (where the
Nominative is put immediately after the Verb) is extremely poetical.
_Bare he._ _Chaucer_ seems (to me) by the help of a delicate Ear, and
a curious Judgment, to have learnt all his Graces from _Virgil_. 1.
His Rhyme. 2. His Inversion of the Phrase: And 3. His Alliteratio. The
Varying of the Pause he does not seem to have attended to. But to
return to _Milton_.

Having spoken sufficiently of the _Initial_, I come now to the _mix'd
Alliteration_. And this latter is almost as common as the former, and
is to be found in all such Lines as these.

  "--And now is come
  Into the _blissful Field_.--

Every Ear must perceive how the _f_ and the _l_ are mingled in the two
last Words.

Again,

  "--Th[r=]o' G[r=]oves of My[rr=]h.--

Here the rough _r_ predominates as much as the soft _l_ did in the
first Part of the Verse.

Again,

  "And _Flow'r_y O_dours_.--

Here the _Allusio Verborum_ is introduc'd. _Flow'r_ at the Beginning
of the first Word, and _Dour_ at the End of the second, make a most
agreeable Harmony. The Line concludes with what may be call'd the
_Assultus_, or the Attack upon the Ear.

  "--_C[=a]ssi[=a], N[=a]rd [=a]nd B[=a]lm._--

These five _A_'s in four Words at the End of the Line must make
themselves perceiv'd if Words can do it. 'Tis of the same kind as
_Virgil_'s,

  "--_Tumid[=a] æquor[=a] pl[=a]c[=a]t._

But it may be proper to add another Instance or two of the _Allusio
Verborum_.

  "So talk'd the _spirited sly Snake_, and _Eve_
  Yet more amaz'd.--

Again,

  "When from the _Boughs_ a savoury Odour _blown_.

Again,

  "Immediately the Mountains huge appear
  Emergent, and their _broad bare Backs_ upheave
  Into the Clouds.--

Again,

  "--Scarce from his Mould
  _Behemoth, biggest born_ of Earth, upheav'd
  His Vastness.--

Spirited sly Snake.--Boughs blown.--Broad bare Backs.--_Behemoth_
biggest born.

All these Passages are in the same Stile of Sound as _Virgil_'s--
_Metuens_, _Molem_, _Montis_.

  "_Hoc metuens, molemque & montis insuper altos
  Imposuit._--

Observe how the _molemque_ & _montis_ labour in the Verse exactly in
the same manner as

  Broad, bare Backs, and _Behemoth_ biggest born.

But here let me give you a few more Instances of the _Allusio
Verborum_, or the mixing of Sounds of Words in rhym'd Verse.

  "As o'er th'Aerial _Alps_ sublimely spread
  Some aged Oak uprears his reverend Head.
                                                        _Pit_'s Æneid.

A Gentleman justly esteemed for his great Learning and excellent Skill
in Criticism, but not of so delicate an Ear as Mr. _Pit_, would have
had him writ, _As on th'Aerial Alps_.

But then the Verse would have wanted much of its Harmony, because
_O'er_ mingles in Sound with _A'er_ which _On_ does not; and the same
thing would have happen'd in the next Line, if it had stood thus--
_Some aged Oak uplifts his mighty Head_.--Because _uplifts_ and
_mighty_ have no Resemblance in Sound to each other, or to _Aged_ and
_Head_; but as the Line stands,

  "Some aged Oak uprears his Reverend Head,

the Words all melt into one another, and the Musick dies along the
Verse from the Beginning to the End. This is the greatest Delicacy of
Poetry, neither are the other Graces wanting in this Verse. The Pause
is properly varied, the first Line is entirely suspended. There is in
it a double Alliteration, _Aerial Alps, sublimely spread_: And to
conclude all, the Rhyme is as perfect as possible.

Octob. 11. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._

In looking over this Letter I observe a Passage in _Milton_, which
merits a very particular Consideration, and which I ought to have
taken notice of before, when I was speaking of the Collocation of
Words; the Passage I mean is, _For since I first_, &c. The entire
Passage runs thus,

  "_Eve, easily_ may Faith admit that all
  The Good which we enjoy, from Heav'n descends;
  _But_, that from _us_ ought should ascend to Heav'n
  So prevalent as to concern the Mind
  Of God high-blest, or to incline his Will,
  Hard to belief may seem; _yet_ this will Prayer,
  Or one short Sigh of human Breath, up born
  Ev'n to the Seat of God. For since I sought
  By Pray'r th' offended Deity to appease;
  _Kneel'd_ and before him humbled all my Heart,
  Methought I saw him placable and mild,
  Bending his Ear, _&c._

How extremely fine is the Poetry of this Passage? How soft is the
beginning, occasion'd by the Assonance of the two first Words, _Eve_,
_Easily_, and of the five next all alliterated with the same Vowel,
_A_

  "--_May Faith admit that all._

How solemn is the Pause at the 1st Syllable of the 3d Line! _But_--

And the Cæsure upon the Monosyllable _Us_ that follows immediately,

  "_But_--that from _us_--

And the same Energy is plainly perceiv'd at the End of the 6th Line,
where the Cæsure is plac'd upon the Monosyllable _yet_,

  "_Yet_--this will Prayer, _&c._

But when we come to that Line,

  "_Kneel'd_; and before Him humbled all my Heart,

such is the Force of the Word _kneel'd_ in that Situation, that we
actually see _Adam_ upon his Knees before the offended Deity; and by
the Conclusion of this Paragraph,--_Bending his Ear_, Infinite
Goodness is visibly as it were represented to our Eyes as inclining to
hearken to the Prayers of his penitent Creature.



LETTER VI.


_SIR,_

[Sidenote: XI.]

I am now to proceed to the _Assonantia Syllabarum_ or _Rhyme_. I have
shown under this Head how much _Virgil_ abounds in _Rhyme_; from
whence I conclude, that it may be reasonably supposed _Rhyme_ had its
Original from a nobler Beginning than the Barbarity of _Druids_ and
_Monks_. It is very probable that _Chaucer_, _Dante_, and _Petrarch_
learnt it from _Virgil_, and that other Nations follow'd the Example
they had set them.

To say the _Bards_ rhym'd in the Times of grossest Ignorance, merely
by their own Invention, only proves that Rhyme is naturally
harmonious. We are told by the Learned that the _Hebrew_ Poetry is in
_Rhyme_, and that where-ever any Footsteps of this Art are to be
trac'd, _Rhyme_ is always found, whether in _Lapland_ or in _China_.

If it should be objected that the _Greek_ Tongue is an Exception to
this general Rule; that Matter perhaps may be disputed, or a
particular Answer might be given. But that the _Latin_ Language is a
Friend to _Rhyme_ is clear beyond all doubt; and the same is as true
of all the living Tongues that are distinguished in the learned World.

It is no wonder that _Verse_ without _Rhyme_ has so many Advocates
amongst the Dealers in Poetry, because of its Facility. _Rhym'd_
Verse, with all its Ornaments, especially the artful Way of varying
the Pause, is exceeding difficult; and so are all the curious
Productions of Art. Fine Painting, fine Musick or Sculpture, are all
very hard to perform; it is the Difficulty that makes those Performances
so deserving of Applause when they attain the highest Perfection. As to
the Matter before us; _Rhyme_ (as Mr. _Dryden_ justly observes) never
was _Milton_'s Talent: This appears from his juvenile Poems. And when
he sate down to write the _Paradise lost_, his Imagination was too
vigorous, too lofty to be shackled by _Rhyme_. It must be own'd that a
thousand Beauties would have been lost, which now shine with amazing
Splendor in that Poem, if _Milton_ had writ in the most exquisite
_Rhyme_. But then on the other hand, it is as certain that upon the
whole it would have been a more agreeable Poem to the Generality of
Readers than it is at present. Of this Opinion was the learned
Foreigner mentioned in a former Letter, a judicious Critick both in
the ancient and modern Languages.

  "Quicquid tamen ejus sit, ostendunt Miltoni scripta virum vel in
  ipsâ juventute: quæ enim ille adolescens scripsit carmina Latina,
  unà cum Anglicis edita, ætatem illam longè superant, quâ ille vir
  scripsit poëmata Anglica, sed sine rythmis, quos, ut pestes carminum
  vernaculorum, abesse volebat, _quale illud decem libris constans,
  The Paradise Lost_, plena ingenii & acuminis sunt, sed insuavia
  tamen videntur ob _rythmi_ defectum; quem ego abesse à tali carminum
  genere non posse existimo, quicquid etiam illi, & Italis nonnullis,
  & nuper Isaaco Vossio in libro _de Poematum cantu_, videatur."
                                                           _Polyhist._

However, we must take _Paradise Lost_ as it is, and rejoice that we
have in it, one of the finest Works that ever the Wit of Man produc'd:
But then the Imperfection of this Work must not be pleaded in favour
of such other Works as have hardly any thing worthy of Observation in
them. Placing _Milton_ with his blank Verse by himself (as indeed he
ought to be in many other respects, for he certainly has no Companion)
this Dispute about the Excellency of _blank_ Verse, and even the
Preference of it to _rhym'd_ Verse, may be determined by comparing two
Writers of Note, who have undertaken the same Subject; that is,
_Virgil_'s Æneid.

Now I will take all the Passages of that Poem mentioned in my Letters
to you, and compare them in these two Translations: And if it shall
appear by the Comparison that the _rhym'd_ Verses have not only more
Harmony and Conciseness, but likewise that they express _Virgil_'s
Sense more fully and more perspicuously than the _blank_ Verse, will
it not be easy to determine which of these two Sorts ought to be
preferr'd?

Octob. 22. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._

       *       *       *       *       *

_P.S._

When I was taking notice of _Virgil_'s Arts of Versification, I should
not have omitted his sudden varying the Tense of the Verb from the
Preterperfect to the Present.

  "_Non tua te nobis, Genitrix pulcherrima talem_
  Promisit, _Graiisque ideo bis_ vindicat _armis_.

This is very agreeable both as to the Verse and the Sense; for it
makes the thing described more immediately present than it would be
otherwise. I cannot just now recollect an Example in _Milton_ of this
nature, but I remember one in _Fairfax_, in a Couplet already cited.

  "Their jolly Notes they _chanted_ loud and clear,
  And horrid Helms high on their Heads they _bear_.

This is much more lively and peinturesque than if he had writ _bore_,
and you will easily perceive it. It may be said, perhaps, that
_Fairfax_ used _bear_ here for the sake of the Verse; let that be
allow'd, but then it must be likewise granted, that _Virgil_ uses
_vindicat_ instead of _vindicavit_, for the sake of his Verse, which
he would not have done, if it had not been more beautiful than the
common Prose way of writing: And as it is an Excellency in _Virgil_,
so it is in _Fairfax_.



LETTER VII.


_SIR,_

I am now to collect the Passages of the _Æneid_, mentioned in my
former Letters, and bring them together with the _rhym'd_ and _blank_
Verse Translations.

The first Passage is this (not to take notice of the very first Lines,
which Mr. _Pit_ has translated in two different manners)

  "_Sic cunctus pelagi cecidit fragor, æquora postquam
  Prospiciens genitor, coeloque invectus aperto
  Flectit equos, curruque volans dat lora secundo._

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "So all the hurry of the Ocean ceas'd,
  Soon as its God appear'd above the Waves:
  Who, managing his Steeds in Air serene,
  Flies swift with slacken'd Reins and loose Career.

Mr. _Pit_,

  "Then did the roaring Waves their Rage compose,
  When the great Father of the Flood arose,
  Rapt by his Steeds he flies in open Day,
  Throws up the Reins, and skims the watry Way.

  "_Atque rotis summas levibus pellabitur undas._

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "And with light Wheels upon the Surface rides,

Mr. _Pit_,

  "Then mounted on his radiant Carr he rides,
  And wheels along the Level of the Tides.

Again,

  "_Æole (namque tibi divûm pater atque hominum rex
  Et mulcere dedit fluctus, & tollere vento)_

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "--O Æolus (for thee
  The Sire of Gods, and King of Men impow'rs
  To smooth the Waves, or raise them with the Wind.)

Mr. _Pit_,

  "--Since mighty _Jove_,
  The King of Men, and Sire of Gods above,
  Gives thee, great _Æolus_, the Power to raise
  Storms at thy sovereign Will, and smooth the Seas.

Again,

  "_Sit ait, & dicto citius tumida æquora placat,
  Collectasque fugat nubes, solemque reducit._

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "So spake the God, and sooner than he spoke
  Appeas'd the tossing of the Waves, dispell'd
  The Clouds collected, and restor'd the Sun.

Mr. _Pit_,

  "He spoke, and speaking chas'd the Clouds away:
  Hush'd the loud Billows, and restor'd the Day.

Again,

  "--_Fotum Gremio dea tollit in altos
  Idaliæ lucos._

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "--And on her Bosom hush'd,
  Carries him to _Idalia_'s lofty Groves.--

Mr. _Pit_,

  "Lull'd in her Lap to rest, the Queen of Love
  Conveys him to the soft _Idalian_ Grove.

Again,

  "--_Ubi tot Simois correpta sub undis
  Scuta virûm, galeasque, & fortia corpora volvit,_

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "Where _Simois_ in his rapid Torrent rolls
  So many Warriour Bodies, Helms and Shields.

Mr. _Pit_,

  "Where _Simois_ Streams incumber'd with the Slain,
  Roll'd Shields, and Helms, and Heroes to the Main.

Again,

  "_Urbs antiqua fuit, Tyrii tenuere coloni
  Carthago, Italiam contra, Tiberinaque longe
  Ostia, dives opum, studiisque asperrima belli,_

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "Fronting th' _Italian_ Coast, and _Tyber_'s Mouth,
  Tho' far remote, an ancient City stood.
  _Carthage_ its Name, a Colony of _Tyre_,
  Mighty in Wealth, and rough in study'd War,

Mr. _Pit_,

  "Against th' _Italian_ Coast, of ancient Fame,
  A City rose, and _Carthage_ was the Name;
  A _Tyrian_ Colony: From _Tyber_ far,
  Rich, rough, and brave, and exercis'd in War,

Again,

  "_Hoc metuens, molemque & montis insuper altos
  Imposuit, regemque dedit, qui foedere certo
  Et premere, & laxas sciret dare jussus habenas,_

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "But fearing this, the Sovereign of the Gods
  Pent them in gloomy Caves, and o'er them threw
  Vast Piles of massy Rocks; impos'd a King,
  Who should by certain Measures know to curb,
  Or, when commanded, to indulge their Rage.

Mr. _Pit_,

  "But _Jove_, the mighty Ruin to prevent,
  In gloomy Caves th'Aereal Captives pent:
  O'er their wild Rage the pond'rous Rock he spread,
  And hurl'd huge Heaps of Mountains on their Head;
  And gave a King commissioned to restrain
  And curb the Tempest, or to loose the Rein.

_Hurl'd_, _huge_, _Heaps_, _Head_, all in the same Line, imitate
Virgil's _Metuens_, _Molem_, _Montis_.

And again,

  "--_Facti de nomine_ Byrsam;
  _Sed vos qui tandem, quibus aut venistis ab oris,
  Quove tenetis iter?_--

Dr. _Trapp_,

  "--And the Name of _Byrsa_ gave
  In Mem'ry of the Deed. But, in your turn,
  At length inform me, who, and whence you are,
  _And whither bound_?--

Mr. _Pit_,

  "Hence _Byrsa_ nam'd: But now ye Strangers, say,
  Who? Whence you are? And whither lies your way?--

There is no Occasion to make any more Remarks upon these Lines.

Nov. 20. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._



LETTER VIII.


_SIR,_

It has been said by several Persons, especially by Foreigners, that
there is no such thing as Measure or Feet, or long and short Syllables
in _English_ Words. This Mistake, I believe, is chiefly owing to
_Vossius_, who has advanc'd it in his Treatise _De Poematum Cantu_,
&c. As also, that the _French_ Language is more fit for Heroick Verse
than the _English_. To examine one or both of these Points will be the
Subject of this Letter.

That our Language does not abound with Dactyls and Spondees is very
true; but that we have Words enough which are perfect Iambick and
Trochaick Feet is very certain, and this naturally makes our Verse
Iambick.

_Divine_, _Attend_, _Directs_, are as perfect Iambicks as any _Latin_
Words of two Syllables, and so are most of our Monosyllable Nouns with
their Particles.

_The Lord_, _The Man_, _The Rock_. Every one must perceive that in all
these Words, the last Syllable strikes the Ear more than the first,
or, in other Words, the last is longer than the first, which is all
that makes an Iambick _Latin_ Foot.

The following Words, _People_, _Substance_, _Angels_, _Chearful_, and
the like, are all Trochaick Feet; for it is easily observ'd, that the
first Syllable dwells longer on the Ear than the latter.

I wonder that _Vossius_, who was a Canon of _Windsor_, did not
perceive this in the Metre which he could not but often have heard at
Church.

  "All People that on Earth do dwell
  Sing to the Lord with chearful Voice.

Suppose these two Lines were alter'd thus,

  "All ye People that on Earth dwell,
  Sing to the Lord with Voice chearful.

Here the natural Sound of the Words _People_ and _Chearful_ is very
much alter'd, by their being wrong plac'd; or rather, the Verse is
quite destroy'd: But to chuse an Example from _Milton_.

  "And if our _Substance_ be _indeed Divine_.--

Let this be alter'd,

  "And indeed Divine if be our Substance.--

Is not the Verse quite destroy'd by this Alteration? And does it not
appear to be so, because _Indeed_ and _Divine_, which are Iambick
Feet, are plac'd as if they were Trochaick, and _Substance_, which is
a Trochaick Foot, is plac'd as if it were an Iambick? But I might have
omitted the altering of this Line of _Milton_'s, if I had thought of
one in _Cowley's Davideis_, which is as barbarous as it is possible
for the Wit of Man to make a Verse.

  "To Divine Nobé directs then his Flight.
                                                       _Lib. 3. v. 3._

_Nobé_, Mr. _Cowley_ says in his Notes, he puts instead of _Nob_,
because that Word seem'd to him to be _unheroical_. But that is not
what I am chiefly to take notice of. _Divine_ and _Directs_ are both
Iambicks, but Mr. _Cowley_ has made them both Trochaicks, which makes
this Line so terrible to the Ear.

It is plain that _Vossius_, who came into _England_ when he was pretty
much advanc'd in Years, and in all probability convers'd chiefly in
_Latin_ or _French_, knew nothing at all of the Pronunciation of
_English_ Words. We have as certainly Feet or Numbers in our Language,
as in the _Latin_; and indeed the _Latin_ seems to me to be rather
more arbitrary in this respect than the _English_. What Reason can be
given why _ma_ in _manus_ is short, and _ma_ in _manes_ long? Why is
_a_ in _amens_ long, and _a_ in _amans_ short, and the like of other
Words too numerous to relate?

That all _English_ Verses are _Iambick_, appears most plainly by
considering Monosyllable Lines. For Example:

  "Arms and the Man I sing, who forc'd by Fate.

Here _Arms_, _the_, _I_, _who_, _by_, appear to be shorter in their
Sound than _and_, _man_, _sing_, _forc'd_, _fate_.

Again,

  "Breathe soft or loud, and wave your Tops, ye Pines.

In this Line the same Difference is perceiv'd between _breathe_, _or_,
_your_, _ye_; and _soft_, _loud_, _wave_, _tops_, _pines_.

Whence it is evident that these Lines are perfectly Iambick.

The Particle _and_, as well as some other Monosyllables, may be said
to be common, like many Words in _Latin_; they submit themselves to be
alter'd by the Voice in reading, and may be pronounced either long or
short: But this is not so in other Words. And here it may be proper to
observe, that _Milton_ has a very artful Way of varying his Numbers,
by putting a Trochaick Foot at the Beginning of a Verse; and the
Reason why he could do it, is, that the Verse is not enough form'd in
that place for the Ear to perceive the Want of the proper Measure. The
Examples of this kind are very numerous: I will mention but two.

  "_Angels_, for ye behold him, and with Song.

And again,

  "_Fountains_, and ye that warble as ye flow.

Nov. 27. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._



LETTER IX.


_SIR,_

To reply to the Opinion that _Vossius_ has given in favour of _French_
Verse compared with _English_, I would observe in the first Place that
what the _French_ call Heroick Verse, is the very worst Sort of Verse
that can be contriv'd. If the Excellence of Verse consists chiefly in
varying the Pause, as I have shewn it does in the _Latin_, and could
do the same in the _Greek_ and other Languages; what must be thought
of that Sort of Versification in which the Pause is most strictly
preserv'd in the same Place in every Line, be it for 10 or 20 thousand
together, especially in Verses of 12 Syllables? Perhaps an
_Englishman_ may not be a very proper Person to make this Objection to
_French_ Verse: I will therefore produce the Opinion of several of
their own Writers.

_Ronsard_, in the Preface to his _Franciade_, owns that their
_Alexandrine_ Lines have too much prattle (_ils ont trop de caquet_)
and that it is a Fault in their Poetry that one Line does not run into
another, and therefore he wrote his _Franciade_ in Verses of ten
Syllables, and broke the Measure. The Author of the History of
_French_ Poetry confesses, that the constant Pause in their Lines
makes the Poetry tedious; and the judicious and learned Translator of
_Quintilian_ says directly, that it is owing to the continual Sameness
of Numbers that their Verse cannot please long. In reality, it is a
kind of Stanza, and ought to be so writ.

  _Jeune & vaillant Heros
    Dont la haute sagesse
  N'est point le fruit tardif
    D'une lente vieillesse._

Not to insist upon the _Prattle_ (as _Ronsard_ calls it) of these two
celebrated Lines; for what does _Vaillant_ add to _Heros_, or _haute_
to _sagesse_, and what is the Difference between _tardif_ and _lente_?
I say to let this pass, the eternal Repetition of the same Pause is
the Reverse of Harmony: Three Feet and three Feet for thousands of
Lines together, make exactly the same Musick as the ting, tong, tang
of the same Number of Bells in a Country-Church. We had this wretched
sort of Metre amongst us formerly, and _Chaucer_ is justly stil'd the
Father of _English_ Verse, because he was the first that ever wrote in
rhym'd Couplets of ten Syllables each Line. He found, by his Judgment,
and the Delicacy of his Ear, that Lines of eight Syllables, such as
_Gower_ his Cotemporary wrote in, were too short, and the twelve
Syllable-Lines too long. He pitch'd upon the other Sort just
mentioned, and that is now found, by the Experience of so many Ages,
to be the most majestick and most harmonious kind of Verse. Just the
same Obligation the _Romans_ had to _Ennius_: He first introduc'd the
Hexameter Line, and therefore is properly called the Father of their
Poetry; and it is judiciously said, that if they had never had
_Ennius_, perhaps they had never had _Virgil_. If the _French_ had
taken _Ronsard_'s Advice instead of following _Malherbe_, perhaps they
might, and indeed they certainly would have arriv'd at a better Art of
Versification than we see now amongst them: But they have miss'd their
Way; tho' had it happen'd otherwise, they could never have equall'd
the _English_ in Poetry, because their Language is not capable of it,
for two Reasons which I shall mention, and many others that I could
add to them.

_1st_, Their Words do not sound so fully as ours, of which these Nouns
are Examples, _God_, _Dieu_. _Man_, _L'Homme_. In both the _English_
Words every Letter is perceiv'd by the Ear. In the _French_ the first
Word is of a very confused Sound, and the latter dies away in the _e_
mute. So _Angels_, _Ange_. _Head_, _Tete_. And innumerable others. And
in Verbs, _to love_, _to hate_, _Aimer_, _Hayir_. In the _English_ the
Sound is clear and strong. In _French_ the last Letter is dropp'd, and
the Words don't dwell upon the Ear like the _English_.

_2d_, They have too many Particles: To shew how much more their Verse
is incumber'd by them than the _English_, I will give you an Example
from a Passage in _Milton_.

  "So spoke, so wish'd much humbled _Eve_, but Fate
  Subscrib'd not; Nature first gave Signs, imprest
  On Bird, Beast, Air; Air suddenly eclips'd
  After short blush of Morn.--

Now to put this Passage into _French_ all the following Particles must
be added.

_Le_, _La_, _Des_, _Les_, _Les_, _Le_, _Le_, _Un_, _Du_. Of which
there is not one in the _English_: And what an Effect this would have
in Heroick Verse, you will easily judge.

Upon the whole, _Vossius_ was very little acquainted with _English_
Heroic Poetry. _Hudibras_ was the favourite Bard in his time, and
therefore he does us the Honour to say, the _English_ is extremely fit
for that sort of Poetry which the _Italians_ call _Sdruccioli_, that
is, Doggrel Verse.

Thus much for _Vossius_, and his _French_ and _English_ Poetry. I will
now shew you a very different Opinion of another learned Foreigner,
referr'd to more than once already, and I will give it you in his own
Words.

  "_Sane in Epico Carminum genere_; Joh. Miltoni _insigne poema_, The
  Paradise Lost, _Gallos omnes in epicis inseliciores longo post se
  intervallo reliquit_.
                                                Morhosius Polyhistor.

This judicious Critick gave the same Opinion of Mr. _Cowley_ above 50
Years ago, which Mr. _Pope_ has given of him lately in one of his
_Horatian_ Epistles.

  "Abr. Cowley _seu Coulejus poemata scripsit_, &c. _Quæ ad genium
  Virgiliani Carminis non accedunt: argutiis enim nimium indulget, ut
  Epigrammaticum potius quod interdum scribat, quam planum carmen: Ac
  præterea non ubique purus est: quanquam Angli illum omnes veterum
  Poetarum numeros implevisse sibi persuadeant._

Foreigners, I am apt to think, frequently judge with more Exactness of
our Countrymen's Performances than the generality of the Natives. I
think the Judgment of another learned Foreigner very sensible, when he
says upon reading _Virgilium Dryd[)e]ni_, "That if the Original had
been no better than the Copy, _Augustus_ would have done well to have
committed it to the Flames." But the Author's own Words are worth
perusing.

  "_Sæpe, Maro, dixi, quantum mutatus ab illo es!
    Romani quondam qui stupor orbis eras.
  Si te sic tantum voluisset vivere Cæsar,
    Quam satius, flammis te periisse foret._
                                              _Vid._ Fabric. Bib. Lat.

December 4. 1736,

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._



LETTER X.


_SIR,_

By what I have shewn in the preceding Letters, it sufficiently appears
that _Virgil_ and _Milton_ had good reason to begin with _Hinc canere
incipiam_. _Nunc te Bacche canam._ _Arma Virumque cano._ _Sing
Heavenly Muse._ Their Verse is all _Musick_, and that is the reason
why their Poems please, though ever so often read: And all Poetry that
is not attended with Harmony, is properly speaking no Poetry at all.

Let the Sense be ever so fine, if the _Verse_ is not _melodious_, the
Reader will undoubtedly find himself soon overtaken with Drowsiness.
But what I chiefly hope I have made out, is, that _Rhyme_ does not owe
its Original to _Druids_, or to _dreaming Monks_, since it is certain
there is more _Rhyme_ in _Virgil_, than there can be in any _English_
Translation of his Works. _English_ Verse never admits but of two
Syllables that Rhyme in two Lines. But in _Virgil_, it is not easy to
tell how many Rhymes there are in a single Line; as for Example,

  "_O nimium Coelo, & pelago confise sereno,_

  "_Et sola in siccâ secum spatiatur arenâ._

And the like. But what would you say, if I was to observe to you all
that _Erythræus_ has writ of the Rhyme _Cum intervallo, & sine
intervallo_ in _Virgil_? Of the Rhyme _sine intervallo_ there are four
Examples in the two first Lines of the _Æneid_, namely, in the first,
_no_--_tro_, and _qui_--_pri_. In the second, _to_--_pro_, and _que_--
_ve_.

  "_Arma virumque can[=o], tr[=o]jæ qu[=i] pr[=i]mus ab oris Italiam,
  fat[=o] pr[=o]fugus, Lavinaqu[=e] v[=e]nit._--

But for this particular, and the other just mentioned, I refer you to
_Erythræus_ himself, if you would be fully instructed on this Subject.
The Conclusion of this whole Matter is this: Rhyme is certainly one of
the chief Ornaments of _Latin_ Verse, even of _Virgil_'s Verse: Most
of his wonderful, harmonious Paragraphs are concluded with a full,
strong, plain Rhyme: And if this is the Case; if _Virgil_'s Verse
would lose one of its chief Ornaments by being stript of Rhyme, What
would _English_ Verse do without it? Those learned Persons who in
their Writings have treated Rhyme only as a needless _Gingle_, had not
fully considered all that could be said on this Subject: _Rhyme_, as I
have observed once before, has many Enemies because of its Difficulty,
when accompanied with all the other necessary Arts of Versification.
It is a particular Talent which very few are blessed with, and ought
to be esteemed accordingly: But if we give way to the Disuse of it,
and even suffer Blank Verse to be brought in Competition with it,
Poetry will in a short time be lost in _England_, as it has been long
since in _Italy_, and, if I mistake not, from this very Cause. They
have Blank-vers'd _Homer_, _Virgil_, and _Milton_, and I believe all
the _Classick Poets_: And if we follow their Example in giving
Applause to this kind of Verse, we must expect the same Consequences.
We should be the more to blame in this respect, because we have lately
had so many excellent Writers of proper Verse amongst us, as
_Addison_, _Rowe_, _Prior_, and many others; and have now Mr. _Pope_,
Mr. _Pit_, and some whom I do not just now recollect.

_Milton_, as I observ'd already, is never to be mention'd as an
Example in favour of Blank-Verse: To supply the Want of _Rhyme_ in
him, there are so many Arts of Verse, such Variety of Melody, that it
would require no small Volume to point them out.

I have nothing more to add, but that it is a very surprizing thing,
that _Milton_ ever undertook to write in such a _Stile_ as he has made
use of, and yet more surprizing that he should be read by all sorts of
People, considering that the _Stile_ is more properly _Latin_ or
_Greek_ than _English_.

I believe both these Things arise from the same Cause, which to me
seems to be the _English Bible_; at least, as to the latter, it cannot
be from any thing else. That _Milton_ acquir'd his _Stile_ from the
_Common Bible_, is not at all improbable, though he understood the
Original. It is certain he was entirely conversant with the _Bible_,
and, in all Probability frequently made use of the _English_
Translation. Now this Translation is, by Great Providence, (give me
leave to call it so) adapted to the _Latin and Greek Collocation_, or
Arrangement of Words; that is, the Words are placed in the _English_
as they stand in those Languages, which, perhaps, you may not have so
much attended to but that you may be glad to see some Examples of what
I am speaking of.

  Psalm v. 3. _My Voice shalt thou hear in the Morning, O Lord; in the
  Morning will I direct Prayer unto thee, and will look up._

  Matthew xiii. 1. _The same Day went Jesus out of the House, and sat
  by the Sea-side._

  Matthew xxvii. 32. _And as they came out, they found a Man of_
  Cyrene, Simon _by Name_: Him _they compelled to bear his Cross_.

  John ii. 11. _This Beginning of Miracles did_ Jesus _in_ Cana _of_
  Galilee.

  John xii. 16. _These things understood not his Disciples at the
  first._

  John viii. 44. _Ye are of your Father the Devil, and the Lusts of
  your Father will ye do._


  "_Verbo sensum cludere, multo, si compositio patiatur, optimum est.
  In Verbis enim Sermonis vis inest._"
                                                              Quintil.

By these Passages, and innumerable others that might be produc'd, it
appears that the _English Bible_ is translated in such a manner as I
have mentioned above: And as we see many Places in the _Paradise
Lost_, which are exactly taken from this Translation, Why may we not
conclude _Milton_ acquir'd much of his Stile from this Book? I can
give an Instance of another very learned Person, who certainly learnt
his way of Writing from it. I mean the late Dr. _Clarke_. Nothing can
be more clear than his _Stile_, and yet nothing can be more like the
_Greek_ or _Latin_, agreeably to the _English Bible_. I beg leave to
produce one Instance from his _Exposition of the Church Catechism_.

  "_Next after the Creed are in natural Order plac'd the Ten
  Commandments._

Is there any thing in _Demosthenes_ or _Tully_ more inverted than this
Passage? And yet the meanest Persons understand it, and are not at all
shock'd at it; and this cannot possibly, with respect to them, proceed
from any thing else, but their having been from their Childhood
accustomed to this Language in the _Bible_, and their still continuing
frequently to hear it in the publick Offices of the Church, and
elsewhere: From whence I am apt to think Mr. _Pope_'s Opinion is not
to be subscrib'd to, when he says,

  "_And what now_ Chaucer _is, shall_ Dryden _be_."

It did not occur to that ingenious Writer, that the State of the
_English_ Language is very different at this time from what it was in
_Chaucer_'s Days: It was then in its Infancy: And even _the publick
Worship of God was in a foreign Tongue_, a thing as fatal to the
_Language_ of any Country, as to _Religion_ itself. But now we have
all that Service in the vernacular Tongue; and besides that, the
_Bible_ in _English_, which may be properly called the _Standard_ of
our Language: For this Book contains a Variety of every kind of
_Stile_, the _Poetick_, the _Historick_, the _Narrative_, and all
framed after the manner of the most learned Tongues. So that whilst
this _Book_ continues to be as publickly used among us as it is at
present, the _English_ Language cannot receive any great Alteration;
but all sorts of learned Men may write, either in Verse or Prose, in
the most learned manner in their native Tongue, and at the same time
be perfectly understood by the common People. Indeed, if ever we
should be so unhappy as to be depriv'd of the _publick Use_ of that
_Book_, all that came with it, must go with it; and then Farewel the
_English Language_, Farewel _Milton_, Farewel _Learning_, and Farewel
all that distinguishes Man from Beasts.

Decemb. 9. 1736.

                                                    _I am_, SIR, _&c._


_FINIS._

[Transcriber's Notes:

Several sequential lines of poetry had opening quotes; these have been
removed for clarity.

Several lines have no closing quotes. These have not been corrected.

LETTER I: Superfluous opening quote removed: "Subject-matter

LETTER V.:
Section numbered '3.' in original; changed to 'III' for consistency.

LETTER X.:
Corrected typo: 'primns' changed to 'primus']





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