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modern type of English character as enterprising and practical, gives prominence to the more rugged consonantal elements, at the expense of the softer vocables given it from Southern Europe. English prose needs this rhythmic element, up to the full measure of its possible expression, so long as under the control of the subject matter. The melody of Swinburne's prose writings, fascinating as it is, has perchance carried the principle of vocalism a trifle too far. In the prose authorship, however, of Masson and of Morley; of Stedman and of Lowell, we discover its more normal and healthful expression and its real indebtedness to poetry.
SUGGESTIONS. We have thus briefly noticed the various contributions-intellectual, impassioned, popular and literary-which verse may be said to make to prose style.
Two or three suggestions of practical import are now in place.
I. The Prose Writer and the student of prose authorship and style should make himself conversant with the Principles and Laws of Poetic Expression—with poetry on its scientific side, having its well-defined basis and method. The study of such an author as Ruskin is, to this end, essential. Prof. Gummere, in his “Hand Book of Poetics," has given us valuable knowledge in this technical direction, as, also, the Poet, Lanier, in his "Structure of English Verse.” The able treatises on Metre by Schipper and Ten Brinck of Germany; by Ellis, of England, and by Prof. Child, of Harvard, are in the same scientific direction. Aristotle, in his “Rhetoric” and “Poetics," thus discusses it. Longinus, among the Greeks; Goethe and Lessing, Schiller and Hegel and the brothers Schlegel, among the Germans, have developed it; while in England, from the publication of Sidney's “Defence of Poesie," on through the writings of Dryden and Wordsworth, Burke and Alison, Swinburne and Arnold, Symonds and Shairp, Dobson and Lang, Gosse and Ward, Stedman and Lowell, the whole subject of verse, on its critical side, has been fully presented for the guidance of the student. In fine, what is called, Literary Criticism, has been and is now, mainly, the criticism of poetry with reference to its own nature and its relation to other literary forms.
Care must be taken, indeed, lest a study necessarily so technical become too technical, so that the scientific be made an end in itself. This result would defeat the very purpose in view by reducing poetic science and criticism to the baldest forms of prose discussion. Poetry is a science, and yet, of all sciences, the one in which the didactic element is to be made the least conspicuous—the only object of the science being to establish guiding laws of structure and procedure by which poetry
an art may be made the more excellent and permanent.
All that is involved in the study of.poetic forms properly falls under such a scientific survey,—as to the nature and conditions of the epic; as to the real relations of the tragic, comic and historical drama; as to the multiform divisions of lyric verse, in the elegy, pastoral and sonnet; as to the rank and function of didactic and general descriptive verse; as to the numerous subordinate varieties of verse, in metrical romance, metrical chronicle, the seriocomic, satire, melodrama, farce, ballad and idyll; in fact, a philosophic as well as an artistic study of poetry, whereby the outlook of the student shall be enlarged and a position be attained from which correct literary estimates may be made.
II. A further necessity to the student of style, as style relates to verse, is a thorough acquaintance with Standard Poetry. We refer now to poetry as an art—to its actual embodiment in literary product; as seen in the best specimens of native and foreign bards. It is scarcely necessary to state in detail the poets and poems that are thus to be read. Suffice it to say, that the few great epics of literature are to be mastered; that the historic masterpieces of the drama, as seen, especially, in the great Greek and English dramatists, are to be examined as works of art; and the choicest lyrics of all nations to be read and re-read. Nor is this to be merely a reading, but a study; nor merely a study, but an appreciative and all-absorbing pursuit-such a sympathetic identification of the student and poem, that the innermost spirit of the bard and of his utterance shall be caught and assimilated. It is this poetic spirit, back of all line and stanza, back of all epic and lyric, that is the one thing desirable to be gained by the student of style, if so be his work as a prose author is to reflect the influence of the verse he peruses. He must place himself, to some extent, in the mental and emotional attitude of the poet whom he reads; must forget, for the moment, all conventional distinctions between prose and verse; must become, in a sense, a poet himself and submit himself, without reserve, to the fullest influences of his author. Such a receptive spirit is essential to the best results and, if fully exhibited, will enable the writer, approximately at least, to be Homeric, Shakespearean or Tennysonian in his prose style.
Most especially, must the highest prose writer make himself conversant with the best English verse—must know it, from first to last ; from Caedion to Swinburne, as he knows his alphabet; must understand its governing thought, its vital spirit, its peculiarity of structure, its grounds of strength and merit, and must be steeped in it and inspired by it, so as to write, when he writes, with its best examples conspicuously in view, and in his most distinctive prose productions evince something of the poetic idea and passion. If poetry, as the ancients insisted, is a gift of the gods and supernatural in its character, surely no writer of prose, as the more human type of expression, should be content to be devoid of something of this divine afflatus and power.
We close with the thought, that there is, in the present stage of our literary development, special need of the poetic element in prose.
Macaulay's pronounced belief, that, as civilization advances, poetry declines, would seem to be visibly verified among us, as we note the gradual decadence of masterful verse under the growing materialism of modern times. Poets and prose writers alike must be truer than ever to the primary poetic instincts of the heart and protest, by voice and pen, against their continued suppression. The best prose of the age need be none the less able or effective by being somewhat more poetic, more impassioned, literary and popular. With all its mental vigor preserved and its characteristic qualities as prose preserved, nothing can be lost and much gained by adding grace to intellect; finish, to force; culture to correctness, and so illustrate the biblical union of "strength and beauty."
The prose writer is, first of all, a thinker, but, next to that, and closely, next, a man and an artist, possessed of a human soul and a natural taste which must find expression in form and ästhetic order. There is in all good prose what Mr. Arnold has happily called—“a sense of beauty.” We may call it-the sense of form, the presence and potency of literature as an art, while it is becoming here to say that among all the beneficent minis