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But for a crowning specimen of variety of pause and accent, apart from emotion, nothing can surpass the account, in Paradise Lost, of the Devil's search for an accomplice;

There was a place,
Now not-though Sìn—not Tìme—first wrought the change,
Where Tigris—at the foot of Paradise,
Into a gùlf-shot under ground—till pàrt
Ròse up a fountain by the Tree of Life.
In with the river sunk—and with it rose
Sàtan-involv'd in rìsing mìst—then sought
Where to lie hid.-Sèa he had search’d_and land
From Eden over Pòntus—and the pool
Mæòtis—ùp beyond the river Ob;
Downward as fàr antàrctic;—and in length
Wèst from Orontes to the ocean bàrr'd
At Dàriën—thènce to the lànd whère fòws
Gànges and Indus.—Thùs the òrb he roam'd
With narrow search ;—and with inspection deep
Consider'd every crèature-which of all
Mòst opportùne mìght sèrve his wìles—and found
The sèrpent-sùbtlest bèast of all the field.

If the reader cast his eye again over this passage, he will not find a verse in it which is not varied and harmonized in the most remarkable manner. Let him notice in particular that curious balancing of the lines in the sixth and tenth verses :

In with the river sunk, &c.,


Up beyond the river Ob.

It might, indeed, be objected to the versification of Milton, that it exhibits too constant a perfection of this kind. It sometimes forces upon us too great a sense of consciousness on the part of the composer. We miss the first sprightly runnings of verse,—the ease and sweetness of spontaneity. Milton, I think, also too often condenses weight into heaviness. Thus much concerning the chief of our two most popular

The other, called octosyllabic, or the measure of eight syllables, offered such facilities for namby-pamby, that it had become a jest as early as the time of Shakspeare, who makes Touchstone call it the “butterwoman's rate to market," and the “very false gallop of verses.” It has been advocated, in opposition to the heroic measure, upon the ground that ten syllables lead a man into epithets and other superfluities, while eight syllables compress him into a sensible and pithy gentleBut the heroic measure laughs at it.


So far from compressing, it converts one line into twó, and sacrifices everything to the quick and importunate return of the rhyme. With Dry. den, compare Gay, even in the strength of Gay,


The wind was high-the window shakes;
With sudden start the miser wakes;
Along the silent room he stalks,

(A miser never “ walks")

“ stalks ;' but a rhyme was desired for

Looks back, and trembles as he walks :
Each lock and every bolt he tries,
In every creek and corner pries.
Then opes the chest with treasure storid,
And stands in rapture o'er his hoard;

(“Hoard” and “treasure stor’d” are just made for one another)

But now, with sudden qualms possess’d,
He wrings his hands, he beats his breast;
By conscience stung, he wildly stares,
And thus his guilty soul declares.

And so he denounces his gold, as miser never denounced it ; and sighs, because

Virtue resides on earth no more !

Coleridge saw the mistake which had been made with regard to this measure, and restored it to the beautiful freedom of which it was capable, by calling to mind the liberties allowed its old musical professors the minstrels, and dividing it by time instead of syllables ;—by the beat of four into which you might get as many syllables as you could, instead of allotting eight syllables to the poor time, whatever it might have to say. He varied it further with alternate rhymes and stanzas, with rests and omissions precisely analogous to those in music, and rendered it altogether worthy to utter the manifold thoughts and feelings of himself and his lady Christabel. He even ventures, with an exquisite sense of solemn strangeness and license (for there is witchcraft going forward), to introduce a couplet of blank verse, itself as mystically and beautifully modulated as anything in the music of Glück or Weber.

'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
And the owls have awaken’d the crowing cock;
Tu-whit!_Tu-whoo !
And hark, again! the crowing cock,
How drowsily he crew.
Sir Leoline, the baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;
From her kennel beneath the rock
She maketh answer to the clock
Four for the quarters ånd twelve for the hour ;
Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
Sixteen short howls, not over loud :
Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.
Is the night chilly and dàrk !
The night is chilly, but not dàrk.
The thin grey cloud is spread on high,
It covers, but not hides, the sky.
The moon is behind, and at the full,
And yet she looks both small and dull.
The night is chilly, the cloud is grey ;

(These are not superfluities, but mysterious returns of im. portunate feeling)

'Tis a month before the month of May,
And the spring comes slowly up this way.
The lovely lady, Christabel,
Whom her father loves so well,
What makes her in the wood so late,
A furlong from the castle-gate ?

She had dreams all yesternight
Of her own betrothèd knight;
And shè în thě midnight wood will pray
For the wèal of hěr lover that's far away.

She stole along, she nothing spoke,
The sighs she heav'd were soft and low
And naught was green upon the oak,
But moss and rarest misletoe;
She kneels beneath the huge oak tree,
And in silence prayeth she.

The lady sprang up suddenly,
The lovely lady, Christabel !
It moan'd as near as near can be,
But what it is, she cannot tell,
On the other side it seems to be
Of thě hùge, broad-breasted, old oak trèe.

The night is chill, the forest bare ;
Is it the wind that moaneth bleak ?

(This “ bleak moaning" is a witch's)

There is not wind enough in the air
To move away the ringlet curl
From the lovely lady's.cheek-
There is not wind enough to twirl
The one rèd lèaf, the làst of its clan,
That dàncõi ă oftẽn dànce it càn,
Hàngăng số laght and hàngăng số hàgh,
On the tòpmost twig thăt loð.is ùp ăt the sky.

Hush, beating heart of Christabel !
Jesu Maria, shield her well!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak,
And stole to the other side of the oak.

What sees she there?

There she sees a damsel bright,
Dressed in a robe of silken white,
That shadowy in the moonlight shone :
The neck that made that white robe wan,
Her stately neck and arms were bare :
Her blue-vein'd feet unsandall'd were;
And wildly glitter'd, here and there,
The gems entangled in her hair.

I guess 'twas frightful there to see
A lady so richly clad as she-
Beautiful exceedingly.

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The principle of Variety in Uniformity is here worked out in a style “beyond the reach of art." Every thing is diversified according to the demand of the moment, of the sounds, the sights, the emotions; the very uniformity of the outline is gently varied; and yet we feel that the whole is one and of the same character, the single and sweet unconsciousness of the heroine making all the rest seem more conscious, and ghastly, and expectant. It is thus that versification itself becomes part of the sentiment of a poem, and vindicates the pains that have been taken to show its importance. I know of no very fine versification unaccompanied with fine poetry; no poetry of a mean order accompanied with verse of the highest.

As to Rhyme, which might be thought too insignificant to mention, it is not at all so. The universal consent of modern Europe, and of the East in all ages, has made it one of the musical beauties of verse for all poetry but epic and dramatic, and even for the former with Southern Europe,--a sustainment for the enthusiasm, and a demand to enjoy. The mastery of it consists in never writing it for its own sake, or at least never appearing to do so; in knowing how to vary it, to give it novelty, to render it more or less strong, to divide it (when not in couplets) at the proper intervals, to repeat it many times where luxury or animal spirits demand it (see an instance in Titania's speech to the Fairies), to impress an affecting or startling remark with it, and to make it, in comic poetry, a new and surprising addition to the jest.

Large was his bounty and his soul sincere,

Heav'n did a recompense as largely send;
He gave to misery all he had, a tear ;
He gain'd from heav'n ('twas all he wish’d) a friend.

Gray's Elegy

The fops are proud of scandal ; for they cry
At every lewd, low character, “That's I

Dryden's Prologue to the Pilgrim.

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