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"Pan, preserve me! what are you?
"And leave me to this destiny:
"There she stands, and will not lend
"Her smooth white hand to help her friend.
"Give me your help for his sake you love best."
Act IV. Sc. II.
But there are other redundancies of frequent occurrence in our old poets. At the commencement of a line, we often find a supernumerary syllable. I will not go further back upon this occasion, than to Lord Surrey. His Elegy on Sir Thomas Wyatt begins thus:
"Wyatt resteth here, that quick could never rest.”
"The great Macedon that out of Persia chased." Some instances occur in his translation of Virgil, such as
Of Deiphobus the palace large and great." B. ii. l. 395. Shakspeare has not often indulged in this licence. In his contemporaries it is much more frequent, particularly in Massinger, where it is met with in almost every page. I will give one instance from Fletcher:
"Thou wast wont to love old women, fat and flat-nosed : "And thou would'st say they kissed like flounders, flat "All the face over
Monsieur Thomas, Act III. Sc. III.
A redundant syllable was also sometimes added at the end of a line. Words which naturally terminate in a trochee, are perpetually thus used in all English poetry, both ancient and modern. Dr. Johnson, in his Preface, has traced it no higher than to Hierony
mo; but it is often found in Chaucer; as, for example, in the Nonnes Preestes Tale, speaking of Chaunticleere:
"For when degrees fifteene were ascended
"Than crew he, that it might not ben amended."
It is found, I believe, in all subsequent writers; among others, Surrey in his Virgil:
"There Hecuba I saw with a hundred moe
"Of her sons wyves, and Priam at the altar."
But the licence which I speak of, is where two words of equal quantity occur at the close of a line, and a trochee is formed of them by an artificial accent laid upon the first*. Of this also there are not very many instances in Shakspeare; but I will exemplify it by a passage in Cymbeline, vol. xiii. p. 212:
"IACHIMO. I am glad to be constrained to utter that which "Torments me to conceal."
So in Henry VIII. vol. ix. p. 432:
"Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition:
I have said in a note in the passage quoted from Cymbeline, that this termination is perpetually to be met with in Fletcher. I will give one or two
*It is generally asserted that English verse depends not upon quantity, but accent alone. Surely this is too broadly stated. When Pope'submitted his Pastorals to the correction of "knowing Walsh," he inquired whether, in the second line of the first Pastoral, which originally stood
"Nor blush to sport on Windsor's peaceful plains ;"
it would be better to alter peaceful to happy, in order to avoid the alliteration. Walsh objected to the substitution of happy for peaceful, from its not being the same quantity, as the first syllable in happy was short. Pope assented to this criticism, and adopted blissful plains.
In the Maid in the Mill, these occur in
Act III. Sc. III. :
"I do confess I am too coarse and base, Sir,
"To be your wife
"You are a noble lord, you pity poor maids
"I can cry too, and noise enough I dare make."
So in the Lover's Progress, Act V. Sc. III.:
"Calista. Heaven grant me patience! To be thus confronted
"(Oh! pardon, royal Sir, a woman's passion)
By one (and this the worst of my misfortunes)
"Her innocence: the oath she took, I swear to.
in the same scene:
"To free these innocents, I do confess all."
But the most numerous class of offences in Shakspeare and his contemporary writers, against the laws of modern metre, consists of redundancies in the middle of a line. Thus, in King Henry VI. P. III. vol. xviii. p. 375:
"And neither by treason nor hostility."
Upon which Mr. Malone observes that neither, either, whether, brother, rather, and many similar words, were used by Shakspeare as monosyllables. Steevens replies that he is yet to learn how such words are to be pronounced as monosyllables; which is totally mis-stating Mr. Malone's position, who says that they were used, that is, they were considered as taking up the same time, as monosyllables: and that this was the fact, the most cursory perusal of old poetry will show. But this licence was not confined to any
particular words, but was generally applicable to all; as may be fully exemplified by giving the whole of the speech from which the line in question is quoted:
"K. Henry. Not for myself, Lord Warwick, but my son, "Whom I unnaturally shall disinherit.
"But be it as it may, I here entail
"The crown to thee and to thine heirs for ever,
"York. This oath I willingly take, and will perform.
Mr. Tyrwhitt has observed that English metre will admit of a redundant syllable in every part of a verse. Perhaps he would have expressed himself more correctly, if he had said in any part of a verse; but the term he has employed might be justified in its fullest extent, if he had been speaking of our earliest dramas and ballads. In Damon and Pithias, written as late as the reign of Elizabeth, the misery of tyrants is thus described:
"So are they never in quiet, but in suspicion still,
"When one is made away they take occasion another to kill; "Ever in feare havyng no trustie friende, voyde of all peoples love,
"And in their own conscience a continuall hell they prove." In the old fragment of the Marriage of Sir Gawaine, preserved in Percy's Reliques, we meet with the following spirited stanza, which the accomplished editor has not noticed in his rifacimento:
"And then he took K. Arthur letters in his hands
"And then he puld out a good browne sword
My friend, Sir Walter Scott, who has dignified the old ballad measure by adopting it, has availed himself
of the liberty which it allowed in the following descriptive lines:
"Why does fair Margaret so early awake
"And don her kirtle so hastilie,
"And the silken knots which in hurry she would make,
Lay of the Last Minstrel, canto ii. st. 26 *.
But this redundancy, at least to a certain degree, was by no means confined to the class of writers I have mentioned. Between the period when the laws of versification were taught us by Chaucer, till they were revived by Lord Surrey, we find a supernumerary syllable so frequently introduced, that a line thus constructed is perhaps more common than one which is regularly formed. Thus, Sir Thomas More, speaking of Fortune:
"Sometyme she loketh as lovely fayre and bright
"She breketh and she smileth on every wight
"But this chere fayned may not long abide
"There cometh a clowde and farewell all our pride
"Like any serpent she beginneth to swell
"And looketh as fierce as any fury of hell."
If this licence was more sparingly used by later poets, yet they availed themselves occasionally of it, even in comparatively modern times. Milton appears to have been an assiduous reader of his predecessors, and formed his delightful Masque, in a great measure, upon an Elizabethan model. Upon this
*The harp of Sir Walter has been too long unstrung. Yet there are not wanting those who suspect that he has all this while been doing us good by stealth, and that he has spoken of the publick in the language of an OLD PLAY, "She shall not know me she shall drink of my wealth, as beggars do of the running water, freely, yet never know from what fountain-head it flows." DECKER'S HONEST WHORE, 2d Part, Act I. Sc. I.
To the anonymous writer, whoever he may be, by whom we have been so much delighted, we may apply the words of another old dramatist: "I heard, sir, of an antiquary, who, if he be as good at wine as at history, he is sure an excellent companion." THE ANTIQUARY, BY MARMION.