Part 36 out of 54
accommodate it to the parser's or reader's ignorance of the principles of
syntax. There never can be either a general uniformity or a
self-consistency in our methods of parsing, or in our notions of grammar,
till the true nature of an ellipsis is clearly ascertained; so that the
writer shall distinguish it from a _blundering omission_ that impairs the
sense, and the reader or parser be barred from an _arbitrary insertion_ of
what would be cumbrous and useless. By adopting loose and extravagant ideas
of the nature of this figure, some pretenders to learning and philosophy
have been led into the most whimsical and opposite notions concerning the
grammatical construction of language. Thus, with equal absurdity, _Cardell_
and _Sherman_, in their _Philosophic Grammars_, attempt to confute the
doctrines of their predecessors, by supposing _ellipses_ at pleasure. And
while the former teaches, that prepositions do not govern the objective
case, but that every verb is transitive, and governs at least two objects,
expressed or _understood_, its own and that of a preposition: the latter,
with just as good an argument, contends that no verb is transitive, but
that every objective case is governed by a preposition expressed or
_understood_. A world of nonsense for lack of a _definition!_
II. PLEONASM is the introduction of superfluous words; as, "But of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat _of it_."--_Gen._,
ii, 17. This figure is allowable only, when, in animated discourse, it
abruptly introduces an emphatic word, or repeats an idea to impress it more
strongly; as, "_He_ that hath ears to hear, let him hear."--_Bible_. "All
ye inhabitants of the world, and _dwellers on the earth_."--_Id._ "There
shall not be left one stone upon another _that shall not be thrown
down_."--_Id._ "I know thee _who thou art_."--_Id._ A Pleonasm, as perhaps
in these instances, is sometimes impressive and elegant; but an unemphatic
repetition of the same idea, is one of the worst faults of bad writing.
OBS.--Strong passion is not always satisfied with saying a thing once, and
in the fewest words possible; nor is it natural that it should be. Hence
repetitions indicative of intense feeling may constitute a beauty of the
highest kind, when, if the feeling were wanting, or supposed to be so, they
would be reckoned intolerable tautologies. The following is an example,
which the reader may appreciate the better, if he remembers the context:
"At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down; at her feet he bowed, he fell;
where he bowed, there he fell down dead."--_Judges_, v, 27.
III. SYLLEPSIS is agreement formed according to the figurative sense of a
word, or the mental conception of the thing spoken of, and not according to
the literal or common use of the term; it is therefore in general connected
with some figure of rhetoric: as "The _Word_ was made flesh, and dwelt
amongst us, and we beheld _his_ glory."--_John_, i, 14. "Then Philip went
down to the _city_ of Samaria, and preached Christ unto _them_."--_Acts_,
viii, 5. "The _city_ of London _have_ expressed _their_ sentiments with
freedom and firmness."--_Junius_, p. 159. "And I said [to backsliding
_Israel_,] after _she_ had done all these things, Turn _thou_ unto me; but
_she_ returned not: and _her_ treacherous _sister Judah_ saw it."--_Jer._,
iii, 7. "And he surnamed them _Boanerges, which is_, The sons of
thunder."--_Mark_, iii, 17.
"While _Evening_ draws _her_ crimson curtains round."--_Thomson_, p. 63.
"The _Thunder_ raises _his_ tremendous voice."--_Id._, p. 113.
OBS. 1.--To the parser, some explanation of that agreement which is
controlled by tropes, is often absolutely necessary; yet, of our modern
grammarians, none appear to have noticed it; and, of the oldest writers,
few, if any, have given it the rank which it deserves among the figures of
syntax. The term _Syllepsis_ literally signifies _conception,
comprehension_, or _taking-together_. Under this name have been arranged,
by the grammarians and rhetoricians, many different forms of unusual or
irregular agreement; some of which are quite too unlike to be embraced in
the same class, and not a few, perhaps, too unimportant or too ordinary to
deserve any classification as figures. I therefore omit some forms of
expression which others have treated as examples of _Syllepsis_, and define
the term with reference to such as seem more worthy to be noticed as
deviations from the ordinary construction of words. Dr. Webster, allowing
the word two meanings, explains it thus: "SYLLEPSIS, _n._ [_Gr._
syllaepsis.] 1. In _grammar_, a figure by which we conceive the sense of
words otherwise than the words import, and construe them according to the
intention of the author; otherwise called _substitution_. 2. The
agreement of a verb or adjective, not with the word next to it, but with
the most worthy in the sentence."--_American Dict._
OBS. 2.--In short, _Syllepsis_ is a _conception_ of which grammarians have
_conceived_ so variously, that it has become doubtful, what definition or
what application of the term is now the most appropriate. Dr. Prat, in
defining it, cites one notion from Sanctius, and adds an other of his own,
thus: "SYLLEPSIS, id est, _Conceptio_, est quoties Generibus, aut Numeris
videntur voces discrepare. Sanct. l. 4. c. 10. Vel sit Comprehensio
indignioris sub digniore."--_Prat's Lat. Gram._, Part ii, p. 164. John
Grant ranks it as a mere form or species of _Ellipsis_, and expounds it
thus: "_Syllepsis_ is _when_ the adjective or verb, joined to different
substantives, agrees with the more worthy."--_Institutes of Lat. Gram._, p.
321. Dr. Littleton describes it thus: "SYLLLEPSIS [sic--KTH],--A
Grammatical figure _where_ two Nominative Cases singular of different
persons are joined to a Verb plural."--_Latin Dict._, 4to. By Dr. Morell it
is explained as follows: "SYLLEPSIS,--A grammatical figure, _where_ one is
put for many, and many for one, Lat. _Conceptio_."--_Morell's Ainsworth's
Dict._, 4to, Index Vitand. IV. _Enallage_ is the use of one part of
speech, or of one modification, for an other. This figure borders closely
upon solecism; and, for the stability of the language, it should be
sparingly indulged. There are, however, several forms of it which can
appeal to good authority: as,
1. "_You know_ that _you are_ Brutus, that _say_ this."--_Shak._
2. "They fall _successive_[ly], and _successive_[ly] rise."--_Pope_.
3. "Than _whom_ [who] a fiend more fell is nowhere found."--_Thomson_.
4. "Sure some disaster has _befell_" [befallen].--_Gay_.
5. "So furious was that onset's shock,
Destruction's gates at once _unlock_" [unlocked].--_Hogg_.
OBS. 1.--_Enallage_ is a Greek word, signifying _commutation, change_, or
_exchange. "Enallage_, in a general sense, is the change of words, or of
their accidents, one for another."--_Grant's Latin Gram._, p. 322. The word
_Antimeria_, which literally expresses _change of parts_, was often used by
the old grammarians as synonymous with _Enallage_; though, sometimes, the
former was taken only for the substitution of one _part of speech_ for an
other, and the latter, only, or more particularly, for a change of
_modification_--as of mood for mood, tense for tense, or number for number.
The putting of one _case_ for an other, has also been thought worthy of a
particular name, and been called _Antiptosis_. But _Enallage_, the most
comprehensive of these terms, having been often of old applied to all such
changes, reducing them to one head, may well be now defined as above, and
still applied, in this way, to all that we need recognize as figures. The
word _Enallaxis_, preferred by some, is of the same import. "ENALLAXIS, so
called by _Longinus_, or ENALLAGE, is an _Exchange_ of _Cases, Tenses,
Persons, Numbers_, or _Genders_."--_Holmes's Rhet._, Book i, p. 57.
"An ENALLAXIS changes, when it pleases,
Tenses, or Persons, Genders, Numbers, Cases."--_Ib._, B. ii, p. 50.
OBS. 2.--Our most common form of _Enallage_ is that by which a single
person is addressed in the plural number. This is so fashionable in our
civil intercourse, that some very polite grammarians improperly dispute its
claims to be called a _figure_; and represent it as being more ordinary,
and even more literal than the regular phraseology; which a few of them, as
we have seen, would place among the _archaisms_. The next in frequency, (if
indeed it can be called a different form,) is the practice of putting _we_
for _I_, or the plural for the singular in the _first person_. This has
never yet been claimed as literal and regular syntax, though the usages
differ in nothing but commonness; both being honourably authorized, both
still improper on some occasions, and, in both, the _Enallage_ being alike
obvious. Other varieties of this figure, not uncommon in English, are the
putting of adjectives for adverbs, of adverbs for nouns, of the present
tense for the preterit, and of the preterit for the perfect participle.
But, in the use of such liberties, elegance and error sometimes approximate
so nearly, there is scarcely an obvious line between them, and grammarians
consequently disagree in making the distinction.
OBS. 3.--Deviations of this kind are, _in general_, to be considered
solecisms; otherwise, the rules of grammar would be of no use or authority.
_Despauter_, an ancient Latin grammarian, gave an improper latitude to this
figure, or to a species of it, under the name of _Antiptosis_; and
_Behourt_ and others extended it still further. But _Sanctius_ says,
"_Antiptosi grammaticorum nihil imperitius, quod figmentum si esset verum,
frustra quaereretur, quem casum verba regerent_." And the _Messieurs De Port
Royal_ reject the figure altogether. There are, however, some changes of
this kind, which the grammarian is not competent to condemn, though they do
not accord with the ordinary principles of construction.
V. _Hyperbaton_ is the transposition of words; as, "He wanders _earth
around_."--_Cowper_ "_Rings the world_ with the vain stir."--_Id. "Whom_
therefore ye ignorantly worship, _him declare I_ unto you."--_Acts_, xvii,
23. "'_Happy_', says _Montesquieu, 'is that nation_ whose annals are
tiresome.'"--_Corwin, in Congress_, 1847. This figure is much employed in
poetry. A judicious use of it confers harmony, variety, strength, and
vivacity upon composition. But care should be taken lest it produce
ambiguity or obscurity, absurdity or solecism.
OBS.--A confused and intricate arrangement of words, received from some of
the ancients the name of _Syn'chysis_, and was reckoned by them among the
figures of grammar. By some authors, this has been improperly identified
with _Hyper'baton_, or elegant inversion; as may be seen under the word
_Synchysis_ in Littleton's Dictionary, or in Holmes's Rhetoric, at page
58th. _Synchysis_ literally means _confusion_, or _commixtion_; and, in
grammar, is significant only of some poetical jumble of words, some verbal
_kink_ or _snarl_, which cannot be grammatically resolved or disentangled:
"_Is piety_ thus _and_ pure _devotion_ paid?"
--_Milton, P. L._, B. xi, l. 452.
"An ass will with his long ears fray
The flies that tickle him away;
But man delights to have _his ears
Blown maggots in by_ flatterers."
--_Butler's Poems_, p. 161.
SECTION IV.--FIGURES OF RHETORIC.
A Figure of Rhetoric is an intentional deviation from the ordinary
application of words. Several of this kind of figures are commonly called
_Tropes_, i.e., _turns_; because certain words are turned from their
original signification to an other.
Numerous departures from perfect simplicity of diction, occur in almost
every kind of composition. They are mostly founded on some similitude or
relation of things, which, by the power of imagination, is rendered
conducive to ornament or illustration.
The principal figures of Rhetoric are sixteen; namely, _Sim'-i-le,
Met'-a-phor, Al'-le-gor-y, Me-ton'-y-my, Syn-ec'-do-che, Hy-per'-bo-le,
Vis'-ion, A-pos'-tro-phe, Per-son'-i-fi-ca'-tion, Er-o-te'-sis,
Ec-pho-ne'-sis, An-tith'-e-sis, Cli'-max, I'-ro-ny, A-poph'-a-sis_, and
I. A _Simile_ is a simple and express comparison; and is generally
introduced by _like, as_, or _so_: as, "Such a passion is _like falling in
love with a sparrow flying over your head_; you have but one glimpse of
her, and she is out of sight."--_Colliers Antoninus_. "Therefore they shall
be _as the morning cloud_, and _as the early dew_ that passeth away; _as
the chaff_ that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and _as the
smoke_ out of the chimney."--_Hosea_, xiii.
"At first, _like thunder's distant tone_,
The rattling din came rolling on."--_Hogg_.
"Man, _like the generous vine_, supported lives;
The strength he gains, is from th' embrace he gives."--_Pope_.
OBS.--Comparisons are sometimes made in a manner sufficiently intelligible,
without any express term to point them out. In the following passage, we
have a triple example of what seems the _Simile_, without the usual
sign--without _like, as_, or _so_: "Away with all tampering with such a
question! Away with all trifling with the man in fetters! _Give a hungry
man a stone, and tell what beautiful houses are made of it;--give ice to a
freezing man, and tell him of its good properties in hot weather;--throw a
drowning man a dollar, as a mark of your good will_;--but do not mock the
bondman in his misery, by giving him a Bible when he cannot read
it."--FREDERICK DOUGLASS: _Liberty Bell_, 1848.
II. A _Metaphor_ is a figure that expresses or suggests the resemblance of
two objects by applying either the name, or some attribute, adjunct, or
action, of the one, directly to the other; as,
1. "The LORD is my _rock_, and my _fortress_."--_Psal._, xviii 1.
2. "His eye was _morning's brightest ray_."--_Hogg_.
3. "An _angler_ in the _tides_ of fame."--_Id., Q. W._
4. "Beside him _sleeps_ the warrior's bow."--_Langhorne_.
5. "Wild fancies in his moody brain
_Gambol'd unbridled_ and unbound."--_Hogg, Q. W._
6. "Speechless, and fix'd in all the _death_ of wo."--_Thomson_.
OBS.--A _Metaphor_ is commonly understoood [sic--KTH] to be only the
tropical use of some _single word_, or _short phrase_; but there seem to be
occasional instances of one _sentence_, or _action_, being used
metaphorically to represent an other. The following extract from the London
Examiner has several figurative expressions, which perhaps belong to this
head: "In the present age, nearly all people are critics, even to the pen,
and treat the gravest writers with a sort of _taproom_ familiarity. If they
are dissatisfied, _they throw a short and spent cigar in the face of the
offender_; if they are pleased, _they lift the candidate off his legs, and
send him away with a hearty slap on the shoulder_. Some of the shorter,
when they are bent to mischief, _dip a twig in the gutter, and drag it
across our polished boots_: on the contrary, when they are inclined to be
gentle and generous, _they leap boisterously upon our knees, and kiss us_
with bread-and-butter in their mouths."--WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR.
III. An _Allegory_ is a continued narration of fictitious events, designed
to represent and illustrate important realities. Thus the Psalmist
represents the _Jewish nation_ under the symbol of a _vine_: "Thou hast
brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted
it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root;
and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and
the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars."--_Psalms_, lxxx, 8-10.
OBS.--The _Allegory_, agreeably to the foregoing definition of it, includes
most of those similitudes which in the Scriptures are called _parables_; it
includes also the better sort of _fables_. The term _allegory_ is sometimes
applied to a _true history_ in which something else is intended, than is
contained in the words literally taken. See an instance in _Galatians_, iv,
24. In the _Scriptures_, the term _fable_ denotes an idle and groundless
story: as, in _1 Timothy_, iv, 7; and _2 Peter_, i, 16. It is now commonly
used in a better sense. "A _fable_ may be defined to be an analogical
narrative, intended to convey some moral lesson, in which irrational
animals or objects are introduced as speaking."--_Philological Museum_,
Vol. i, p. 280.
IV. A _Metonymy_ is a change of names between things related. It is
founded, not on resemblance, but on some such relation as that of _cause_
and _effect_, of _progenitor_ and _posterity_, of _subject_ and _adjunct_,
of _place_ and _inhabitant_, of _container_ and _thing contained_, or of
_sign_ and _thing signified_: as, (1.) "God is our _salvation_;" i.e.,
_Saviour_. (2.) "Hear, O _Israel_;" i.e. O _ye descendants of_ Israel. (3.)
"He was the _sigh_ of her secret soul;" i.e., the _youth_ she loved. (4.)
"They smote the _city_;" i.e., the _citizens_. (5.) "My son, give me thy
_heart_;" i.e., _affection_. (6.) "The _sceptre_ shall not depart from
Judah;" i.e., _kingly power_. (7.) "They have _Moses and the prophets_;"
i.e., _their writings_. See _Luke_, xvi, 29.
V. _Synecdoche_, (that is, _Comprehension_,) is the naming of a part for
the whole, or of the whole for a part; as, (1.) "This _roof_ [i.e., house]
protects you." (2.) "Now the _year_ [i.e., summer] is beautiful." (3.) "A
_sail_ [i.e., a ship or vessel] passed at a distance." (4.) "Give us this
day our daily _bread_;" i.e., food. (5.) "Because they have taken away _my
Lord_, [i.e., the body of Jesus,] and I know not where they have laid
him."--_John_. (6.) "The same day there were added unto them about three
thousand _souls_;" i.e., persons.--_Acts_. (7.) "There went out a decree
from Caesar Augustus, that all _the world_ [i.e., the Roman empire] should
be taxed."--_Luke_, ii, 1.
VI. _Hyperbole_ is extravagant exaggeration, in which the imagination is
indulged beyond the sobriety of truth; as, "My little finger _shall be
thicker_ than my father's loins."--_2 Chron._, x, 10. "When I washed my
_steps with butter_, and the rock poured me out _rivers of oil_."--_Job_,
"The sky _shrunk upward with unusual dread_,
And trembling Tiber _div'd beneath his bed_."--_Dryden_.
VII. _Vision_, or _Imagery_, is a figure by which the speaker represents
the objects of his imagination, as actually before his eyes, and present to
his senses; as,
"I see the dagger-crest of Mar!
I see the Moray's silver star
Wave o'er the cloud of Saxon war,
That up the lake comes winding far!"--_Scott, L. L._, vi, 15.
VIII. _Apostrophe_ is a turning from the regular course of the subject,
into an animated address; as, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death!
where is thy sting? O Grave! where is thy victory?"--_1 Cor._, xv, 55.
IX. _Personification_ is a figure by which, in imagination, we ascribe
intelligence and personality to unintelligent beings or abstract qualities;
1. "The _Worm_, aware of his intent,
Harangued him thus, right eloquent."--_Cowper_.
2. "Lo, steel-clad _War_ his gorgeous standard rears!"--_Rogers_.
3. "Hark! _Truth_ proclaims, thy triumphs cease!"--_Idem_.
X. _Erotesis_ is a figure in which the speaker adopts the form of
interrogation, not to express a doubt, but, in general, confidently to
assert the reverse of what is asked; as, "Hast thou an arm like God? or
canst thou thunder with a voice like him?"--_Job_, xl, 9. "He that planted
the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not
see?"--_Psalms_, xciv, 9.
XI. _Ecphonesis_ is a pathetic exclamation, denoting some violent emotion
of the mind; as, "O liberty!--O sound once delightful to every Roman
ear!--O sacred privilege of Roman citizenship!--once sacred--now trampled
upon."--_Cicero_. "And I said, O that I had wings like a dove! for then
would I fly away, and be at rest."--_Psalms_, lv, 6.
XII. _Antithesis_ is a placing of things in opposition, to heighten their
effect by contrast; as, "I will talk of things _heavenly_, or things
_earthly_; things _moral_, or things _evangelical_; things _sacred_, or
things _profane_; things _past_, or things _to come_; things _foreign_, or
things _at home_; things more _essential_, or things _circumstantial_;
provided that all be done to our profit."--_Bunyan, P. P._, p. 90.
"Contrasted faults through all his manners reign;
Though _poor, luxurious_; though _submissive, vain_;
Though _grave_, yet _trifling_; _zealous_, yet _untrue_;
And e'en _in penance, planning sins_ anew."--_Goldsmith_.
XIII. _Climax_ is a figure in which the sense is made to advance by
successive steps, to rise gradually to what is more and more important and
interesting, or to descend to what is more and more minute and particular;
as, "And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and
to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance,
patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, charity."--_2 Peter_, i, 5.
XIV. _Irony_ is a figure in which the speaker sneeringly utters the direct
reverse of what he intends shall be understood; as, "We have, to be sure,
great reason to believe the modest man would not ask him for a debt, when
he pursues his life."--_Cicero_. "No doubt but ye are the people, and
wisdom shall die with you."--_Job_, xii, 2. "They must esteem learning
_very much_, when they see its professors used with such little
ceremony!"--_Goldsmith's Essays_, p. 150.
XV. _Apophasis_, or _Paralipsis_, is a figure in which the speaker or
writer pretends to omit what at the same time he really mentions; as, "I
Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it; albeit _I do not
say to thee_, how thou owest unto me even thine own self
XVI. _Onomatopoeia_ is the use of a word, phrase, or sentence, the sound of
which resembles, or intentionally imitates, the sound of the thing
signified or spoken of: as, "Of a knocking at the door, _Rat a tat
tat_."--J. W. GIBBS: _in Fowler's Gram._, p. 334. "_Ding-dong! ding-dong!_
Merry, merry, go the bells, _Ding-dong! ding-dong_!"--_H. K. White_.
"Bow'wow _n._ The loud bark of a dog. _Booth_."--_Worcester's Dict._ This
is often written separately; as, "_Bow wow_."--_Fowler's Gram._, p. 334.
The imitation is better with three sounds: "_Bow wow wow_." The following
verses have been said to exhibit this figure:
"But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar."
--_Pope, on Crit._, l. 369.
OBS.--The whole number of figures, which I have thought it needful to
define and illustrate in this work, is only about thirty. These are the
_chief_ of what have sometimes been made a very long and minute catalogue.
In the hands of some authors, Rhetoric is scarcely anything else than a
detail of figures; the number of which, being made to include almost every
possible form of expression, is, according to these authors, not less than
two hundred and forty. Of their _names_, John Holmes gives, in his index,
two hundred and fifty-three; and he has not all that might be quoted,
though he has more than there are of the forms named, or the figures
themselves. To find a learned name for every particular mode of expression,
is not necessarily conducive to the right use of language. It is easy to
see the inutility of such pedantry; and Butler has made it sufficiently
ridiculous by this caricature:
"For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools."--_Hudibras_, P. i, C. i, l. 90.
SECTION V.--EXAMPLES FOR PARSING.
_In the Fourteenth Praxis, are exemplified the several Figures of
Orthography, of Etymology, of Syntax, and of Rhetoric, which the parser may
name and define_; _and by it the pupil may also be exercised in relation to
the principles of Punctuation, Utterance, Analysis, or whatever else of
Grammar, the examples contain_.
LESSON I.--FIGURES OF ORTHOGRAPHY.
MIMESIS AND ARCHAISM.
"I _ax'd_ you what you had to sell. I am fitting out a _wessel_ for
_Wenice_, loading her with _warious keinds_ of _prowisions_, and
_wittualling_ her for a long _woyage_; and I want several _undred_ weight
of _weal, wenison_, &c., with plenty of _inyons_ and _winegar_, for the
_preserwation_ of _ealth_."--_Columbian Orator_, p. 292.
"God bless you, and lie still quiet (_says_ I) a bit longer, for my
_shister's_ afraid of ghosts, and would die on the spot with the fright,
_was_ she to see you come to life all on a sudden this way without the
least preparation."--_Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent_, p. 143.
"None [else are] so desperately _evill_, as they that may _bee_ good and
will not: or have _beene_ good and are not."--_Rev. John Rogers_, 1620. "A
Carpenter finds his work as _hee_ left it, but a Minister shall find his
_sett_ back. You need preach continually."--_Id._
"Here _whilom ligg'd_ th' Esopus of his age,
But call'd by Fame, in soul _ypricked_ deep."--_Thomson_.
"It was a fountain of Nepenthe rare,
Whence, as Dan Homer sings, huge _pleasaunce_ grew."--_Id._
LESSON II.--FIGURES OF ETYMOLOGY.
APHAERESIS, PROSTHESIS, SYNCOPE, APOCOPE, PARAGOGE, DIAERESIS, SYNAERESIS, AND
"Bend _'gainst_ the steepy hill thy breast,
Burst down like torrent from its crest."--_Scott_.
"_'Tis_ mine to teach _th'_ inactive hand to reap
Kind nature's bounties, _o'er_ the globe _diffus'd_."--_Dyer_.
"Alas! alas! how impotently true
_Th' aerial_ pencil forms the scene anew."--_Cawthorne_.
"Here a deformed monster _joy'd_ to won,
Which on fell rancour ever was _ybent_."--_Lloyd_.
"_Withouten_ trump was proclamation made."--_Thomson_.
"The gentle knight, who saw their rueful case,
Let fall _adown_ his silver beard some tears.
'Certes,' quoth he, 'it is not _e'en_ in grace,
_T'_ undo the past and eke your broken years."--_Id._
"Vain _tamp'ring_ has but _foster'd_ his disease;
_'Tis desp'rate_, and he sleeps the sleep of death."--_Cowper_.
"'I have a pain upon my forehead here'--
'Why _that's_ with watching; _'twill_ away again.'"--_Shakspeare_.
"I'll to the woods, among the happier brutes;
Come, _let's_ away; hark! the shrill horn resounds."--_Smith_.
"_What_ prayer and supplication _soever_ be made."--_Bible_. "By the grace
of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly _to_
LESSON III.--FIGURES OF SYNTAX.
"And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And [--] villager [--] abroad at early toil."--_Beattie_.
"The cottage curs at [--] early pilgrim bark."--_Id._
"'Tis granted, and no plainer truth appears,
Our most important [--] are our earliest years."--_Cowper_.
"To earn her aid, with fix'd and anxious eye,
He looks on nature's [--] and on fortune's course."--_Akenside_.
"For longer in that paradise to dwell,
The law [--] I gave to nature him forbids."--_Milton_.
"So little mercy shows [--] who needs so much."--_Cowper_.
"Bliss is the same [--] in subject, as [--] in king;
In [--] who obtain defence, and [--] who defend."--_Pope_.
"Man made for kings! those optics are but dim
That tell you so--say rather, they [--] for him."--_Cowper_.
"Man may dismiss compassion from his heart,
But God will never [-------]."--_Id._
"Vigour [--] from toil, from trouble patience grows."--_Beattie_.
"Where now the rill melodious, [--] pure, and cool,
And meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty crown'd?"--_Id._
"How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful [------------]!"--_Thomson_.
"Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
Pain [--] their aversion, pleasure [--] their desire;
But greedy that its object would devour,
This [--] taste the honey, and not wound the flower."--_Pope_.
LESSON IV.--FIGURES OF SYNTAX.
"_According_ to their deeds, _accordingly_ he will _repay_, fury to his
adversaries, _recompense_ to his enemies; to the islands he will repay
recompense."--_Isaiah_, lix, 18. "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove,
my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, _and my locks with the drops
of the night_."--_Song of Sol._, v, 2. "Thou hast chastised me, _and I was
chastised_, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, _and I
shall be turned_; for thou art the Lord my God."--_Jer._, xxxi, 18.
"Consider the _lilies_ of the field how _they grow_."--_Matt._, vi, 28.
"_He_ that glorieth, let _him_ glory in the Lord."--_2 Cor._, x, 17.
"_He_ too is witness, noblest of the train
That wait on man, the flight-performing horse."--_Cowper_.
"'Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called _Cephas:' which_ is,
by interpretation a stone."--_John_, i, 42. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts,
'Behold, I will break the bow of _Elam_, the chief of _their_
might.'"--_Jer._, xlix, 35. "Behold, I lay in Sion a _stumbling-stone_ and
_rock_ of offence: and whosoever believeth on _him_ shall not be
ashamed."--_Rom._, ix, 33.
"Thus _Conscience_ pleads _her_ cause within the breast,
Though long rebell'd against, not yet suppressed."--_Cowper_.
"_Knowledge_ is proud that _he_ has learn'd so much;
_Wisdom_ is humble that _he_ knows no more."--_Id._
"For those the _race_ of Israel oft forsook
_Their_ living _strength_, and unfrequented left
_His_ righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial gods."--_Milton, Paradise Lost_, B. i, l. 432.
LESSON V.--FIGURES OF SYNTAX.
"Let me tell _you_, Cassius, _you_ yourself
_Are_ much condemned to have an itching palm,
To sell and mart _your_ offices for gold."--_Shakspeare_.
"Come, Philomelus; let us _instant_ go,
O'erturn his bow'rs, and lay his castle low."--_Thomson_.
"Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what the short-liv'd sire _begun_"--_Pope_.
"Such was that temple built by Solomon,
Than _whom_ none richer reign'd o'er Israel."--_Author_.
"He spoke: with fatal eagerness we _burn_,
And _quit_ the shores, undestin'd to return."--_Day_.
"Still as he pass'd, the nations he _sublimes_."--_Thomson_.
"Sometimes, with early morn, he mounted _gay_."--_Id._
"'I've lost a day'--the prince who nobly cried,
_Had been_ an emperor without his crown."--_Young_.
"Such resting found _the sole_ of unblest feet."--_Milton_.
"Yet, though successless, _will the toil_ delight."--_Thomson_.
"Where, 'midst the changeful scen'ry ever new,
Fancy a thousand wondrous _forms_ descries."--_Beattie_.
"Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,
That who advance his glory, not their own,
_Them_ he himself to glory will advance."--_Milton_.
"No quick _reply_ to dubious questions make;
Suspense and caution still prevent mistake."--_Denham_.
LESSON VI.--FIGURES OF RHETORIC.
"Human greatness is short and transitory, _as the odour of incense in the
fire_."--_Dr. Johnson_. "Terrestrial happiness is of short continuance:
_the brightness of the flame is wasting its fuel, the fragrant flower is
passing away in its own odours_."--_Id._ "Thy nod is _as the earthquake
that shakes the mountains_; and thy smile, _as the dawn of the vernal
"_Plants rais'd with tenderness are seldom strong_;
Man's coltish disposition asks the thong;
And, without discipline, the fav'rite child,
_Like a neglected forester_, runs wild."--_Cowper_.
"As turns a flock of geese, and, on the green,
Poke out their foolish necks in awkward spleen,
(Ridiculous in rage!) to _hiss_, not _bite,
So war their quills_, when sons of _dullness_ write."--_Young_.
"Who can unpitying see the flowery race,
Shed by the morn, their new-flush'd bloom resign,
Before th' unbating beam? _So fade the fair_,
When fevers revel through their azure veins."--_Thomson_.
"Cathmon, thy name is a pleasant _gale_."--_Ossian_. "Rolled into himself
he flew, wide on the _bosom of winds_. The old _oak felt_ his departure,
and _shook_ its whistling _head_."--_Id._ "Carazan gradually lost the
inclination to do good, as he acquired the power; as the _hand of time_
scattered _snow_ upon his head, the _freeziny influence_ [sic--KTH]
extended to his bosom."--_Hawkesworth_. "The sun _grew weary_ of gilding
the palaces of Morad; _the clouds of sorrow_ gathered round his head; and
_the tempest of hatred_ roared about his dwelling."--_Dr. Johnson_.
LESSON VII.--FIGURES OF RHETORIC.
"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first,
and said, 'Son, go work to-day in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I
will not;' but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second,
and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir;' and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, 'The
first.'"--_Matt._, xxi, 28-31.
"Swifter than a whirlwind, flies the leaden _death_."--_Hervey_. "'Be all
the dead forgot,' said Foldath's bursting _wrath_. 'Did not I fail in the
"Their _furrow_ oft the stubborn glebe has broke."--_Gray_.
"Firm in his love, resistless in his hate,
His arm is _conquest_, and his frown is _fate_."--_Day_.
"At length the _world_, renew'd by calm repose,
Was strong for toil; the dappled morn arose."--_Parnell_.
"What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain and the lynx's _beam_!
Of hearing, from the _life_ that fills the flood,
To _that_ which warbles through the vernal wood!"--_Pope_.
"'Twas then his _threshold_ first receiv'd a guest."--_Parnell_.
"For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose _feet_ came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew."--_Id._
"Flush'd by the spirit of the genial _year_,
Now from the virgin's cheek a fresher bloom
Shoots, less and less, the live carnation round."--_Thomson_.
LESSON VIII.--FIGURES OF RHETORIC.
"I saw their chief, tall as a rock of ice; his spear, the blasted fir; his
shield the rising moon; he sat on the shore, like a cloud of mist on the
"At which the universal host up sent
A shout, that tore Hell's concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night."--_Milton_.
"Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red!"--_Shakspeare_.
"How mighty is their defence who reverently trust in the arm of God! How
powerfully do they contend who fight with lawful weapons! Hark! 'Tis the
voice of eloquence, pouring forth the living energies of the soul;
pleading, with generous indignation and holy emotion, the cause of injured
humanity against lawless might, and reading the awful destiny that awaits
the oppressor!--I see the stern countenance of despotism overawed! I see
the eye fallen, that kindled the elements of war! I see the brow relaxed,
that scowled defiance at hostile thousands! I see the knees tremble, that
trod with firmness the embattled field! Fear has entered that heart which
ambition had betrayed into violence! The tyrant feels himself a man, and
subject to the weakness of humanity!--Behold! and tell me, is that power
contemptible which can thus find access to the sternest hearts?"--_Author_.
"Yet still they breathe destruction, still go on,
Inhumanly ingenious to find out
New pains for life, new terrors for the grave;
Artificers of death! Still monarchs dream
Of universal empire growing up
From universal ruin. _Blast the design_,
_Great God of Hosts! nor let thy creatures fall_
_Unpitied victims at Ambition's shrine_."--_Porteus_.
LESSON IX.--FIGURES OF RHETORIC.
"Hail, sacred _Polity_, by _Freedom_ rear'd!
Hail, sacred _Freedom_, when by _Law_ restrain'd!
Without you, what were man? A grov'ling herd,
In darkness, wretchedness, and want, enchain'd."--_Beattie_.
"Let cheerful _Mem'ry_, from her purest cells,
Lead forth a godly train of _Virtues_ fair,
Cherish'd in early youth, now paying back
With tenfold usury the pious care."--_Porteus_.
"He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He that teacheth man
knowledge, shall not he know?"--_Psalms_, xciv, 10. "Can the Ethiopian
change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that
are accustomed to do evil."--_Jeremiah_, xiii, 23.
FIGURE XI.--ECPHONESIS. "O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a
fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the
daughter of my people! O that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of
way-faring men, that I might leave my people, and go from
them!"--_Jeremiah_, ix, 1.
"On this side, modesty is engaged; on that, impudence: on this, chastity;
on that, lewdness: on this, integrity; on that, fraud: on this, piety; on
that, profaneness: on this, constancy; on that, fickleness: on this,
honour; on that, baseness: on this, moderation; on that, unbridled
"She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies,
Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise;
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods."--_Pope_.
LESSON X.--FIGURES OF RHETORIC.
"Virtuous actions are necessarily approved by the awakened conscience; and
when they are approved, they are commended to practice; and when they are
practised, they become easy; and when they become easy, they afford
pleasure; and when they afford pleasure, they are done frequently; and when
they are done frequently, they are confirmed by habit: and confirmed habit
is a kind of second nature."--_Inst._, p. 246.
"Weep all of every name: begin the wo,
Ye woods, and tell it to the doleful winds;
And doleful winds, wail to the howling hills;
And howling hills, mourn to the dismal vales;
And dismal vales, sigh to the sorrowing brooks;
And sorrwing brooks, weep to the weeping stream;
And weeping stream, awake the groaning deep;
And let the instrument take up the song,
Responsive to the voice--harmonious wo!"--_Pollok_, B. vi, l. 115.
"And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, 'Cry
aloud; for he is a god: either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is
in [_on_] a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked!'
"--_1 Kings_, xviii, 27.
"After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty
days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years;
and ye shall know my breach of promise."--_Numbers_, xiv, 34.
"Some lead a life unblamable and just,
Their own dear virtue their unshaken trust;
They never sin--or if (as all offend)
Some trivial slips their daily walk attend,
The poor are near at hand, the charge is small,
A slight gratuity atones for all."--_Cowper_.
FIGURE XV.--APOPHASIS, OR PARALIPSIS.
I say nothing of the notorious profligacy of his character; nothing of the
reckless extravagance with which he has wasted an ample fortune; nothing of
the disgusting intemperance which has sometimes caused him to reel in our
streets;--but I aver that he has not been faithful to our interests,--has
not exhibited either probity or ability in the important office which he
[Fist][The following lines, from Swift's Poems, satirically mimick the
imitative music of a violin.]
"Now slowly move your fiddle-stick;
Now, tantan, tantantivi, quick;
Now trembling, shivering, quivering, quaking,
Set hoping hearts of Lovers aching."
"Now sweep, sweep the deep.
See Celia, Celia dies,
While true Lovers' eyes
Weeping sleep, Sleeping weep,
Weeping sleep, Bo-peep, bo-peep."
Versification is the forming of that species of literary composition which
is called _verse_; that is, _poetry_, or _poetic numbers_.
SECTION I.--OF VERSE.
Verse, in opposition to prose, is language arranged into metrical lines of
some determinate length and rhythm--language so ordered as to produce
harmony, by a due succession of poetic feet, or of syllables differing in
quantity or stress.
DEFINITIONS AND PRINCIPLES.
The _rhythm_ of verse is its relation of quantities; the modulation of its
numbers; or, the kind of metre, measure, or movement, of which it consists,
or by which it is particularly distinguished.
The _quantity_ of a syllable, as commonly explained, is the relative
portion of time occupied in uttering it. In poetry, every syllable is
considered to be either long or short. A long syllable is usually reckoned
to be equal to two short ones.
In the construction of English verse, long quantity coincides always with
the primary accent, generally also with the secondary, as well as with
emphasis; and short quantity, as reckoned by the poets, is found only in
unaccented syllables, and unemphatical monosyllabic words.
The quantity of a syllable, whether long or short, does not depend on what
is called the long or the short sound of a vowel or diphthong, or on a
supposed distinction of accent as affecting vowels in some cases and
consonants in others, but principally on the degree of energy or loudness
with which the syllable is uttered, whereby a greater or less portion of
time is employed.
The open vowel sounds, which are commonly but not very accurately termed
_long_, are those which are the most easily protracted, yet they often
occur in the shortest and feeblest syllables; while, on the other hand, no
vowel sound, that occurs under the usual stress of accent or of emphasis,
is either so short in its own nature, or is so "quickly joined to the
succeeding letter," that the syllable is not one of long quantity.
Most monosyllables, in English, are variable in quantity, and may be made
either long or short, as strong or weak sounds suit the sense and rhythm;
but words of greater length are, for the most part, fixed, their accented
syllables being always long, and a syllable immediately before or after the
accent almost always short.
One of the most obvious distinctions in poetry, is that of rhyme and blank
verse. _Rhyme_ is a similarity of sound, combined with a difference:
occurring usually between the last syllables of different lines, but
sometimes at other intervals; and so ordered that the rhyming syllables
begin differently and end alike. _Blank verse_ is verse without rhyme.
The principal rhyming syllables are almost always long. Double rhyme adds
one short syllable; triple rhyme, two. Such syllables are redundant in
iambic and anapestic verses; in lines of any other sort, they are
generally, if not always, included in the measure.
A _Stanza_ is a combination of several verses, or lines, which, taken
together, make a regular division of a poem. It is the common practice of
good versifiers, to form all stanzas of the same poem after one model. The
possible variety of stanzas is infinite; and the actual variety met with in
print is far too great for detail.
OBS. 1.--Verse, in the broadest acceptation of the term, is poetry, or
metrical language, in general. This, to the eye, is usually distinguished
from prose by the manner in which it is written and printed. For, in very
many instances, if this were not the case, the reader would be puzzled to
discern the difference. The division of poetry into its peculiar lines, is
therefore not a mere accident. The word _verse_, from the Latin _versus_,
literally signifies a _turning_. Each full line of metre is accordingly
called a verse; because, when its measure is complete, the writer _turns_
to place another under it. A _verse_, then, in the primary sense of the
word with us, is, "A _line_ consisting of a certain succession of sounds,
and number of syllables."--_Johnson, Walker, Todd, Bottes_, and others. Or,
according to _Webster_, it is, "A poetic _line_, consisting of a certain
number of long and short syllables, disposed according to the rules of the
species of poetry which the author intends to compose."--See _American
OBS. 2.--If to settle the theory of English verse on true and consistent
principles, is as difficult a matter, as the manifold contrarieties of
doctrine among our prosodists would indicate, there can be no great hope of
any scheme entirely satisfactory to the intelligent examiner. The very
elements of the subject are much perplexed by the incompatible dogmas of
authors deemed skillful to elucidate it. It will scarcely be thought a hard
matter to distinguish true verse from prose, yet is it not well agreed,
wherein the difference consists: what the generality regard as the most
essential elements or characteristics of the former, some respectable
authors dismiss entirely from their definitions of both verse and
versification. The existence of quantity in our language; the dependence of
our rhythms on the division of syllables into long and short; the
concurrence of our accent, (except in some rare and questionable
instances,) with long quantity only; the constant effect of emphasis to
lengthen quantity; the limitation of quantity to mere duration of sound;
the doctrine that quantity pertains to all _syllables_ as such, and not
merely to vowel sounds; the recognition of the same general principles of
syllabication in poetry as in prose; the supposition that accent pertains
not to certain _letters_ in particular, but to certain _syllables_ as such;
the limitation of accent to stress, or percussion, only; the conversion of
short syllables into long, and long into short, by a change of accent; our
frequent formation of long syllables with what are called short vowels; our
more frequent formation of short syllables with what are called long or
open vowels; the necessity of some order in the succession of feet or
syllables to form a rhythm; the need of framing each line to correspond
with some other line or lines in length; the propriety of always making
each line susceptible of scansion by itself: all these points, so essential
to a true explanation of the nature of English verse, though, for the most
part, well maintained by some prosodists, are nevertheless denied by some,
so that opposite opinions may be cited concerning them all. I would not
suggest that all or any of these points are thereby made _doubtful_; for
there may be opposite judgements in a dozen cases, and yet concurrence
enough (if concurrence _can_ do it) to establish them every one.
OBS. 3.--An ingenious poet and prosodist now living, Edgar Allan Poe,
(to whom I owe a word or two of reply,) in his "Notes upon English Verse,"
with great self-complacency, represents, that, "While much has been written
upon the structure of the Greek and Latin rhythms, comparatively _nothing_
has been done as regards the English;" that, "It may be said, indeed, we
are _without a treatise_ upon our own versification;" that "The very best"
_definition_ of versification to be found in any of "_our ordinary
treatises_ on the topic," has "_not a single point_ which does not involve
an error;" that, "A _leading deft_ in each of these treatises is the
confining of the subject to mere _versification_, while metre, or rhythm,
in general, is the real question at issue;" that, "Versification is _not_
the art, but the _act_'--of making verses;" that, "A correspondence in the
_length_ of lines is by no means essential;" that "_Harmony_" produced "by
the regular alternation of syllables differing in quantity," does not
include "_melody_;" that "A _regular alternation_, as described, forms _no
part_ of the principle of metre:" that "There is no necessity of _any
regularity_ in the succession of _feet_;" that, "By consequence," he
ventures to "dispute the _essentiality_ of any alternation, regular or
irregular, of _syllables_ long and short:" that, "For _anything more
intelligible_ or _more satisfactory_ than this definition [i. e., G.
Brown's former definition of versification,] we shall look in vain in _any
published_ treatise upon the subject;" that, "So general and _so total a
failure_ can be referred only to some _radical misconception_;" that, "The
word _verse_ is derived (through _versus_ from the Latin _verto, I turn_,)
and * * * * it can be nothing but _this derivation_, which has led to _the
error_ of our writers upon prosody;" that, "_It is this_ which _has seduced
them_ into regarding the _line_ itself--the _versus_, or turning--as an
essential, or principle of metre;" that, "Hence the term _versification_
has been employed as sufficiently general, or inclusive, for treatises upon
rhythm in general;" that, "Hence, also, [comes] the precise catalogue of a
few varieties of English _lines_, when these varieties are, in fact, almost
without limit;" that, "_I_," the aforesaid Edgar Allan Poe, "_shall dismiss
entirely_, from the consideration of the principle of _rhythm_, the idea of
_versification_, or the construction of verse;" that, "In so doing, _we_
shall avoid _a world of confusion_;" that, "_Verse_ is, indeed, an
_afterthought_, or an _embellishment_, or an _improvement_, rather than an
element of rhythm;" that, "_This fact_ has induced the easy admission, into
the realms of Poesy, of _such works_ as the 'Telemaque' of Fenelon;"
because, forsooth, "In the elaborate modulation of their sentences, THEY
FULFIL THE IDEA OF METRE."--_The Pioneer, a Literary and Critical Magazine_
(Boston, March, 1843,) Vol. I, p. 102 to 105.
OBS. 4.--"Holding these things in view," continues this sharp connoisseur,
"the prosodist who rightly examines that which constitutes the external,
or most immediately _recognisable_, form of Poetry, will commence with the
definition of _Rhythm_. Now _rhythm_, from the Greek [_Greek: arithmos_],
_number_, is a term which, in its present application, very nearly _conveys
its own idea_. No more _proper_ word could be employed to present _the
conception intended_; for _rhythm_, in prosody, is, in its _last analysis_,
identical with _time_ in music. _For this reason_," says he, "I have used,
throughout this article, as synonymous with _rhythm_, the word _metre_ from
[Greek: metron], _measure_. Either the one or the other may be defined as
_the arrangement of words into two or more consecutive, equal, pulsations
of time_. These pulsations are _feet_. Two feet, at least, are requisite to
constitute a _rhythm_; just as, in mathematics, two units are necessary to
form [a] _number_. The syllables of which the foot consists, when the
foot is not a syllable in itself, are subdivisions of the pulsations. No
equality is demanded in these subdivisions. It is only required that, so
far as regards two consecutive feet at least, the sum of the times of the
syllables in one, shall be equal to the sum of the times of the syllables
in the other. Beyond two pulsations there is no necessity for equality of
time. All beyond is arbitrary or conventional. A third or fourth pulsation
may embody half, or double, or any proportion of the time occupied in the
two first. Rhythm being thus understood, the prosodist should proceed to
define _versification_ as _the making of verses_, and _verse_ as _the
arbitrary or conventional isolation of rhythm into masses of greater or
less extent_."--_Ib._, p. 105.
OBS. 5.--No marvel that all usual conceptions and definitions of rhythm, of
versification, and of verse, should be found dissatisfactory to the critic
whose idea of _metre_ is fulfilled by the pompous _prose_ of Fenelon's
Telemaque. No right or real examination of this matter can ever make the
most immediately _recognizable_ form of poetry to be any thing else than
the form of _verse_--the form of writing in _specific lines_, ordered by
number and chime of syllables, and not squared by gage of the
composing-stick. And as to the derivation and primitive signification of
_rhythm_, it is plain that in the extract above, both are misrepresented.
The etymology there given is a gross error; for, "the Greek [_Greek:
arithmos_], _number_," would make, in English, not _rhythm_, but _arithm_,
as in _arithmetic_. Between the two combinations, there is the palpable
difference of three or four letters in either six; for neither of these
forms can be varied to the other, but by dropping one letter, and adding an
other, and changing a third, and moving a fourth. _Rhythm_ is derived, not
thence, but from the Greek [_Greek: rhythmos_]; which, according to the
lexicons, is a primitive word, and means, _rhythmus, rhythm, concinnity,
modulation, measured tune_, or _regular flow_, and _not "number_."
OBS. 6.--_Rhythm_, of course, like every other word not misapplied,
"conveys _its own idea_;" and that, not qualifiedly, or "_very nearly_,"
but _exactly_. That this idea, however, was originally that of
arithmetical _number_, or is nearly so now, is about as fanciful a notion,
as the happy suggestion added above, that _rhythm_ in lieu of _arithm_ or
_number_, is the fittest of words, _because_ "rhythm in prosody is _time_
in music!" Without dispute, it is important to the prosodist, and also to
the poet or versifier, to have as accurate an idea as possible of the
import of this common term, though it is observable that many of our
grammarians make little or no use of it. That it has some relation to
_numbers_, is undeniable. But what is it? Poetic numbers, and numbers in
arithmetic, and numbers in grammar, are three totally different sorts of
things. _Rhythm_ is related only to the first. Of the signification of this
word, a recent expositor gives the following brief explanation: "RHYTHM,
_n._ Metre; verse; _numbers_. Proportion applied to any motion
whatever."--_Bolles's Dictionary_, 8vo. To this definition, Worcester
prefixes the following: "The consonance of measure and time in poetry,
_prose composition_, and music;--also in dancing."--_Universal and Critical
Dict._ In verse, the proportion which forms rhythm--that is, the chime of
quantities--is applied to the _sounds_ of syllables. Sounds, however, may
be considered as a species of _motion_, especially those which are
rhythmical or musical. It seems more strictly correct, to regard
rhythm as a _property_ of poetic numbers, than to identify it with them. It
is their proportion or modulation, rather than the numbers themselves.
According to Dr. Webster, "RHYTHM, or RHYTHMUS, in _music_ [is] variety in
the movement as to quickness or slowness, or length and shortness of the
notes; or _rather_ the proportion which the parts of the motion have to
each other."--_American Dict._ The "_last analysis_" of rhythm can be
nothing else than the reduction of it to its _least parts_. And if, in this
reduction, it is "identical with _time_," then it is here the same thing as
_quantity_, whether prosodical or musical; for, "The _time_ of a note, or
syllable, is called _quantity_. The time of a _rest_ is also called
quantity; because _rests_, as well as notes are a constituent of
rhythm."--_Comstock's Elocution_, p. 64. But rhythm is, in fact, neither
time nor quantity; for the analysis which would make it such, destroys the
relation in which the thing consists.
SECTION II.--OF ACCENT AND QUANTITY.
Accent and Quantity have already been briefly explained in the second
chapter of Prosody, as items coming under the head of Pronunciation. What
we have to say of them here, will be thrown into the form of _critical
observations_; in the progress of which, many quotations from other writers
on these subjects, will be presented, showing what has been most popularly
OBS. 1.--Accent and quantity are distinct things; the former being the
stress, force, loudness, or percussion of voice, that distinguishes certain
syllables from others; and the latter, the _time_, distinguished as _long_
or _short_, in which a syllable is uttered. But, as the _great_ sounds
which we utter, naturally take more time than the _small_ ones, there is a
necessary connexion between quantity and accent in English,--a connexion
which is sometimes expounded as being the mere relation of _cause and
effect_; nor is it in fact much different from that. "As no utterance can
be agreeable to the ear, which is void of proportion; and as _all
quantity_, or proportion of time in utterance, depends upon a due
observation of the _accent_; it is a matter of absolute necessity to all,
who would arrive at a good and graceful delivery, to be master of that
point. Nor is the use of _accent_ in our language confined to _quantity_
alone; but it is also the chief mark by which words are distinguished from
mere syllables. Or rather I may say, it is the _very essence_ of words,
which without that, would be only so many collections of
syllables."--_Sheridan's Lectures on Elocution_, p. 61. "As no utterance
_which is void of proportion_, can be agreeable to the ear; and as
quantity, or proportion of time in utterance, _greatly_ depends _on_ a due
_attention_ to the _accent_; it is _absolutely necessary for every person_,
who would attain a _just_ and _pleasing_ delivery, to be master of that
point."--_Murray's Gram._, 8vo, p. 241; 12mo, 194.
OBS. 2.--In the first observation on Prosody, at page 770, and in its
marginal notes, was reference made to the fact, that the nature and
principles of _accent_ and _quantity_ are involved in difficulty, by reason
of the different views of authors concerning them. To this source of
embarrassment, it seems necessary here again to advert; because it is upon
the distinction of syllables in respect to quantity, or accent, or both,
that every system of versification, except his who merely counts, is based.
And further, it is not only requisite that the principle of distinction
which we adopt should be clearly made known, but also proper to consider
which of these three modes is the best or most popular foundation for a
theory of versification. Whether or wherein the accent and quantity of the
ancient languages, Latin and Greek, differed from those of our present
English, we need not now inquire. From the definitions which the learned
lexicographers Littleton and Ainsworth give to _prosodia_, prosody, it
would seem that, with them, "the art of _accenting_" was nothing else than
the art of giving to syllables their right _quantity_, "whether long or
short." And some have charged it as a glaring error, long prevalent among
English grammarians, and still a fruitful source of disputes, to confound
accent with quantity in our language. This charge, however, there is
reason to believe, is sometimes, if not in most cases, made on grounds
rather fanciful than real; for some have evidently mistaken the notion of
concurrence or coincidence for that of identity. But, to affirm that the
stress which we call accent, coincides always and only with long quantity,
does not necessarily make accent and quantity to be one and the same thing.
The greater force or loudness which causes the accented syllable to occupy
more time than any other, is in itself something different from time.
Besides, quantity is divisible,--being either _long_ or _short_: these two
species of it are acknowledged on all sides, and some few prosodists will
have a third, which they call "common."  But, of our English accent,
the word being taken in its usual acceptation, no _such_ division is ever,
with any propriety, made; for even the stress which we call _secondary
accent_, pertains to _long_ syllables rather than to short ones; and the
mere absence of stress, which produces short quantity, we do not call
OBS. 3.--The impropriety of affirming _quantity_ to be the same as
_accent_, when its most frequent species occurs only in the absence of
accent, must be obvious to every body; and those writers who anywhere
suggest this identity, must either have written absurdly, or have taken
_accent_ in some sense which includes the sounds of our _unaccented_
syllables. The word sometimes means, "The _modulation_ of the voice in
speaking."--_Worcester's Dict., w. Accent_. In this sense, the lighter as
well as the more impressive sounds are included; but still, whether both
together, considered as accents, can be reckoned the same as long and short
quantities, is questionable. Some say, they cannot; and insist that they
are yet as different, as the variable tones of a _trumpet_, which swell and
fall, are different from the merely loud and soft notes of the monotonous
_drum_. This illustration of the "easy Distinction betwixt _Quantity_ and
_Accent_" is cited with commendation, in Brightland's Grammar, on page
157th; the author of which grammar, _seems_ to have understood
_Accent_, or _Accents_, to be the same as _Inflections_--though these are
still unlike to quantities, if he did so. (See an explanation of
Inflections in Chap. II, Sec. iii, Art. 3, above.) His exposition is this:
"_Accent_ is the _rising_ and _falling_ of the Voice, above or under its
usual _Tone_. There are three Sorts of Accents, an _Acute_, a _Grave_, and
an _Inflex_, which is also call'd a _Circumflex_. The _Acute_, or _Sharp_,
naturally _raises_ the Voice; and the _Grave_, or _Base_, as naturally
_falls_ it. The _Circumflex_ is a kind of _Undulation_, or _Waving_ of the
Voice."--_Brightland's Gram._, Seventh Ed., Lond., 1746, p. 156.
OBS. 4.--Dr. Johnson, whose great authority could not fail to carry some
others with him, too evidently identifies accent with quantity, at the
commencement of his Prosody. "PRONUNCIATION is just," says he, "when every
letter has its proper sound, and when every syllable has its proper accent,
or which in English versification is _the same_, its proper quantity."--
_Johnson's Gram._, before Dict., 4to, p. 13; _John Burn's Gram._, p. 240;
_Jones's Prosodial Gram._, before Dict., p. 10. Now our most common notion
of _accent_--the sole notion with many--and that which the accentuation of
Johnson himself everywhere inculcates--is, that it belongs _not_ to "_every
syllable_," but only to some particular syllables, being either "a _stress
of voice_ on a certain syllable," or a _small mark_ to denote such
stress.--See _Scott's Dict._, or _Worcester's_. But Dr. Johnson, in the
passage above, must have understood the word _accent_ agreeably to his own
imperfect definition of it; to wit, as "_the sound given to the syllable
pronounced_."--_Joh. Dict._ An _unaccented_ syllable must have been to him
a syllable unpronounced. In short he does not appear to have recognized any
syllables as being unaccented. The word _unaccented_ had no place in his
lexicography, nor could have any without inconsistencey. [sic--KTH] It was
unaptly added to his text, after sixty years, by one of his amenders, Todd
or Chalmers; who still blindly neglected to amend his definition of
_accent_. In these particulars, Walker's dictionaries exhibit the same
deficiencies as Johnson's; and yet no author has more frequently used the
words _accent_ and _unaccented_, than did Walker. Mason's Supplement,
first published in 1801, must have suggested to the revisers of Johnson the
addition of the latter term, as appears by the authority cited for it:
"UNA'CCENTED, _adj._ Not accented. 'It being enough to make a syllable
long, if it be accented, and short, if it be _unaccented_.' _Harris's
Philological Inquiries_."--_Mason's Sup._
OBS. 5--This doctrine of Harris's, that long quantity accompanies the
accent, and unaccented syllables are short, is far from confounding or
identifying accent with quantity, as has already been shown; and, though it
plainly contradicts some of the elementary teaching of Johnson, Sheridan,
Walker, Murray, Webster, Latham, Fowler, and others, in regard to the
length or shortness of certain syllables, it has been clearly maintained by
many excellent authors, so that no opposite theory is better supported by
authority. On this point, our language stands not alone; for the accent
controls quantity in some others. G H. Noehden, a writer of uncommon
ability, in his German Grammar for Englishmen, defines accent to be, as we
see it is in English, "that _stress_ which marks a particular syllable in
speaking;" and recognizing, as we do, both a full accent and a partial one,
or "demi-accent," presents the syllables of his language as being of three
conditions: the "_accented_," which "cannot be used otherwise than as
_long_;" the "_half-accented_" which "must be regarded as ambiguous, or
common;" and the "_accentless_," which "are in their nature _short_."--See
_Noehden's Gram._, p. 87. His middle class, however, our prosodists in
general very properly dispense with. In Fiske's History of Greek
Literature, which is among the additions to the Manual of Classical
Literature from the German of Eschenburg, are the following passages: "The
_tone_ [i.e. accent] in Greek is placed upon short syllables as well as
long; in German, it accompanies regularly only long syllables."--"In giving
an accent to a syllable in an English word we _thereby_ render it a long
syllable, whatever may be the sound given to its vowel, and in whatever way
the syllable may be composed; so that as above stated in relation to the
German, an English accent, or stress in pronunciation, accompanies only a
long syllable."--_Manual of Class. Lit._, p. 437. With these extracts,
accords the doctrine of some of the ablest of our English grammarians. "In
the English Pronunciation," says William Ward, "there is a certain Stress
of the Voice laid on some one syllable at least, of every Word of two or
more Syllables; and that Syllable on which the Stress is laid may be
considered _long_. Our Grammarians have agreed to consider this Stress of
the Voice as _the Accent_ in English; and therefore the Accent and long
Quantity coincide in our Language."--_Ward's Practical Gram._, p. 155. As
to the vowel sounds, with the quantity of which many prosodists have
greatly puzzled both themselves and their readers, this writer says, "they
may be made as long, or as short, as the Speaker pleases."--_Ib._, p. 4.
OBS. 6.--From the absurd and contradictory nature of many of the
_principles usually laid down_ by our grammarians, for the discrimination
of long quantity and short, it is quite apparent, that but very few of them
have well understood either the distinction itself or their own rules
concerning it. Take Fisher for an example. In Fisher's Practical Grammar,
first published in London in 1753,--a work not unsuccessful, since Wells
quotes the "_28th edition_" as appearing in 1795, and this was not the
last--we find, in the first place, the vowel sounds distinguished as long
or short thus: "_Q._ How many Sounds has a Vowel? _A._ Two in general, viz.
1. A LONG SOUND, When the Syllable ends with a Vowel, either in
Monosyllables, or in Words of more Syllables; as, _t=ake, w=e, =I, g=o,
n=il_; or, as, _N=ature, N=ero, N=itre, N=ovice, N=uisance_. 2. A SHORT
SOUND, When the Syllable ends with a Consonant, either in Monosyllables, or
others; as _H~at, h~er, b~it, r~ob, T~un_; or, as _B~arber, b~itten,
B~utton_."--See p. 5. To this rule, the author makes needless exceptions of
all such words as _balance_ and _banish_, wherein a single consonant
between two vowels goes to the former; because, like Johnson, Murray, and
most of our old grammarians, he divides on the vowel; falsely calls the
accented syllable short; and imagines the consonant to be heard _twice_, or
to have "_a double Accent_." On page 35th, he tells us that, "_Long and
short Vowels_, and _long and short Syllables_, are _synonimous_
[--_synonymous_, from [Greek: synonymos]--] Terms;" and so indeed have they
been most erroneously considered by sundry subsequent writers; and the
consequence is, that all who judge by their criteria, mistake the poetic
quantity, or prosodical value, of perhaps one half the syllables in the
language. Let each syllable be reckoned long that "ends with a Vowel," and
each short that "ends with a Consonant," and the decision will probably be
oftener wrong than right; for more syllables end with consonants than with
vowels, and of the latter class a majority are without stress and therefore
short. Thus the foregoing principle, contrary to the universal practice of
the poets, determines many _accented_ syllables to be "_short_;" as the
first in "_barber, bitten, button, balance, banish_;--" and many
_unaccented_ ones to be "_long_;" as the last in _sofa, specie, noble,
metre, sorrow, daisy, valley, nature, native_; or the first in _around,
before, delay, divide, remove, seclude, obey, cocoon, presume, propose_,
and other words innumerable.
OBS. 7.--Fisher's conceptions of accent and quantity, as constituting
prosody, were much truer to the original and etymological sense of the
words, than to any just or useful view of English versification: in short,
this latter subject was not even mentioned by him; for prosody, in his
scheme, was nothing but the right pronunciation of words, or what we now
call _orthoepy._ This part of his Grammar commences with the following
questions and answers:
"_Q._ What is the Meaning of the Word PROSODY? _A._ It is a Word borrowed
from the Greek; which, in Latin, is rendered _Accentus_, and in English
_Accent_. "_Q._ What do you mean by _Accent_? _A._ Accent originally
signified a Modulation of the Voice, or chanting to a musical Instrument;
but is now generally used to signify _Due Pronunciatian_, i.e. the
pronouncing [of] a syllable according to its Quantity, (whether it be long
or short,) with a stronger Force or Stress of Voice than the other
Syllables in the same Word; as, _a_ in _able, o_ in _above_, &c. "_Q._ What
is _Quantity_? _A._ Quantity is the different Measure of _Time_ in
pronouncing Syllables, from whence they are called long or short. "_Q._
What is the _Proportion_ between a long and a short Syllable? _A._ Two to
one; that is, a long Syllable is twice as long in pronouncing as a short
one; as, _Hate, Hat_. This mark (=) set over a Syllable, shows that it is
long, and this (~) that it is short; as, r=ecord, r~ecord. "_Q_. How do
you _know_ long and short Syllables? _A_. A Syllable is long or short
according to the Situation of the Vowel, i.e. it is generally long when it
ends with a Vowel, and short when with a Consonant; as, _F=a_- in _Favour_,
and _M~an_- in _Manner_."--_Fisher's Practical Gram._, p. 34.
Now one grand mistake of this is, that it supposes syllabication to fix the
quantity, and quantity to determine the accent; whereas it is plain, that
accent controls quantity, so far at least that, in the construction of
verse, a syllable fully accented cannot be reckoned short. And this mistake
is practical; for we see, that, in three of his examples, out of the four
above, the author himself misstates the quantity, because he disregards the
accent: the verb _re-cord'_, being accented on the second syllable, is an
_iambus_; and the nouns _rec'-ord_ and _man'-ner_, being accented on the
first, are _trochees_; and just as plainly so, as is the word _f=av~our_.
But a still greater blunder here observable is, that, as a "_due
pronunciation_" necessarily includes the utterance of every syllable, the
explanation above stolidly supposes _all_ our syllables to be _accented_,
each "according to its Quantity, (whether it be long or short,)" and each
"_with a stronger Force or Stress of Voice_, than _the other_ Syllables!"
Absurdity akin to this, and still more worthy to be criticised, has since
been propagated by Sheridan, by Walker, and by Lindley Murray, with a host
of followers, as Alger, D. Blair, Comly, Cooper, Cutler, Davenport, Felton,
Fowler, Frost, Guy, Jaudon, Parker and Fox, Picket, Pond, Putnam, Russell,
Smith, and others.
OBS. 8.--Sheridan was an able and practical teacher of _English
pronunciation_, and one who appears to have gained reputation by all he
undertook, whether as an actor, as an elocutionist, or as a lexicographer.
His publications that refer to that subject, though now mostly superseded
by others of later date, are still worthy to be consulted. The chief of
them are, his Lectures on Elocution, his Lectures on the Art of Reading,
his Rhetorical Grammar, his Elements of English, and his English
Dictionary. His third lecture on Elocution, and many pages of the
Rhetorical Grammar, are devoted to _accent_ and _quantity_--subjects which
he conceived to have been greatly misrepresented by other writers up to his
time. To this author, as it would seem, we owe the invention of that
absurd doctrine, since copied into a great multitude of our English
grammars, that the accent on a syllable of two or more letters, belongs,
_not to the whole of it, but only to some_ ONE LETTER; and that according
to the character of this letter, as vowel or consonant, the same stress
serves to lengthen or shorten the syllable's quantity! Of this matter, he
speaks thus: "The _great distinction_ of our accent depends upon its
_seat_; which may be either upon a vowel or a consonant. Upon a vowel, as
in the words, glory, father, holy. Upon a consonant, as in the words,
hab'it, bor'row, bat'tle. When the accent is on the vowel, the syllable is
long; because the accent is _made by dwelling_ upon the vowel. When it is
on the consonant, the _syllable is short_; because the accent is _made
by passing rapidly_ over the vowel, and giving a smart stroke of the voice
to the following consonant. _Obvious as this point is_, it _has wholly
escaped the observation of all our grammarians and compilers of
dictionaries_; who, instead of examining the peculiar genius of our tongue,
implicitly and pedantically have followed the Greek method of always
placing the accentual mark over a vowel."--_Sheridan's Rhetorical Gram._,
p. 51. The author's reprehension of the old mode of accentuation, is not
without reason; but his "great distinction" of short and long syllables is
only fit to puzzle or mislead the reader. For it is plain, that the first
syllables of _hab'it, bor'row_, and _bat'tle_, are twice as long as the
last; and, in poetry, these words are trochees, as well as the other three,
_glo'ry, fa'ther_, and _ho'ly_.
OBS. 9.--The only important distinction in our accent, is that of the
_primary_ and the _secondary_, the latter species occurring when it is
necessary to enforce more syllables of a word than one; but Sheridan, as we
see above, after rejecting all the old distinctions of _rising_ and
_falling, raising_ and _depressing, acute_ and _grave, sharp_ and _base,
long_ and _short_, contrived a new one still more vain, which he founded on
that of vowels and consonants, but "referred to _time_, or _quantity_." He
recognized, in fact, a _vowel accent_ and a _consonant accent_; or, in
reference to quantity, a _lengthening accent_ and a _shortening accent_.
The discrimination of these was with him "THE GREAT DISTINCTION of our
accent." He has accordingly mentioned it in several different places of his
works, and not always with that regard to consistency which becomes a
precise theorist. It led him to new and variant ways of _defining_ accent;
some of which seem to imply a division of consonants from their vowels in
utterance, or to suggest that syllables are not the least parts of spoken
words. And no sooner has he told us that our accent is but one single mode
of distinguishing a syllable, than he proceeds to declare it two. Compare
the following citations: "As the pronunciation of English words is chiefly
regulated by _accent_, it will be necessary to have a _precise idea_ of
that term. Accent with us means _no more_ than _a certain stress_ of the
voice upon _one letter_ of a syllable, which distinguishes it from all the
_other letters_ in a word."--_Sheridan's Rhetorical Gram._, p. 39. Again:
"Accent, in the English language, means _a certain stress_ of the voice
upon _a particular letter_ of a syllable which distinguishes it from the
rest, and, at the same time, _distinguishes the syllable itself_ to which
it belongs from the others which compose the word."--_Same work_, p. 50.
Again: "But as _our accent consists in stress only_, it can just as well be
placed on a consonant as [on] a vowel."--_Same_, p. 51. Again: "By the word
_accent_, is meant _the stress_ of the voice on _one letter_ in a
syllable."--_Sheridan's Elements of English_, p. 55. Again: "The term
[_accent_] with us has no reference to _inflexions_ of the voice, or
musical notes, but only means _a peculiar manner of distinguishing one
syllable of a word from the rest_, denominated by us accent; and the term
for that reason [is] used by us in the singular number.--This distinction
is made by us in _two ways_; either by _dwelling longer upon one syllable_
than the rest; or by _giving it a smarter percussion_ of the voice in
utterance. Of the first of these, we have instances in the words, _gl=ory,
f=ather, h=oly_; of the last, in _bat'tle, hab'it, bor'row_. So that
accent, with us, is not referred to tune, but to _time_; to _quantity_, not
quality; to the more _equable_ or _precipitate_ motion of the voice, not to
the variation of notes or _inflexions_."--_Sheridan's Lectures on
Elocution_, p. 56; _Flint's Murray's Gram._, p. 85.
OBS. 10.--How "precise" was Sheridan's idea of accent, the reader may well
judge from the foregoing quotations; in four of which, he describes it as
"_a certain stress_," "_the stress_," and "_stress only_," which enforces
some "_letter_;" while, in the other, it is whimsically made to consist in
two different modes of pronouncing "_syllables_"--namely, with
_equability_, and with _precipitance_--with "_dwelling longer_," and with
"_smarter percussion_"--which terms the author very improperly supposes to
be _opposites_: saying, "For the two ways of distinguishing syllables by
accent, as mentioned before, are _directly opposite_, and produce _quite
contrary effects_; the one, by _dwelling_ on the syllable, necessarily
makes it long; the other, by the _smart percussion_--of the voice, as
necessarily _makes it short_"--_Ib._, p. 57. Now it is all a mistake,
however common, to suppose that our accent, consisting as it does, in
stress, enforcement, or "percussion of voice," can ever _shorten_ the
syllable on which it is laid; because what increases the quantum of a vocal
sound, cannot diminish its length; and a syllable accented will always be
found _longer_ as well as _louder_, than any unaccented one immediately
before or after it. Though weak sounds may possibly be protracted, and
shorter ones be exploded loudly, it is not the custom of our speech, so to
deal with the sounds of syllables.
OBS. 11.--Sheridan admitted that some syllables are naturally and
necessarily short, but denied that any are naturally and necessarily long.
In this, since syllabic length and shortness are relative to each other,
and to the cause of each, he was, perhaps, hardly consistent. He might have
done better, to have denied both, or neither. Bating his new division of
accent to subject it sometimes to short quantity, he recognized very fully
the dependence of quantity, long or short, whether in syllables or only in
vowels, upon the presence or absence of accent or emphasis. In this he
differed considerably from most of the grammarians of his day; and many
since have continued to uphold other views. He says, "It is an _infallible
rule_ in our tongue that no vowel ever has a long sound in an unaccented
syllable."--_Lectures on Elocution_, p. 60. Again: "In treating of the
simple elements or letters, I have shown that some, both vowels and
consonants, are _naturally short_; that is, whose sounds _cannot possibly_
be prolonged; and these are the [short or shut] sounds of ~e, ~i, and ~u,
of vocal sounds; and three pure mutes, k, p, t, of the consonant; as in the
words _beck, lip, cut_. I have shown also, that the sounds of all the other
vowels, and of the consonant semivowels, may be prolonged to what degree we
please; but at the same time it is to be observed, that all these may also
be reduced to a short quantity, and are capable of being uttered in as
short a space of time as those which are naturally short. So that they who
speak of syllables as absolutely in their own nature long, _the common cant
of prosodians_, speak of a nonentity: for though, as I have shown above,
there are syllables absolutely short, which cannot possibly be prolonged by
any effort of the speaker, yet it is in his power to shorten or prolong the
others to what degree he pleases."--_Sheridan's Rhetorical Gram._, p. 52.
And again: "I have already mentioned that when the accent is on the vowel,
it of course makes the syllable _long_; and when the accent is on the
consonant, the syllable may be _either long or short_, according to the
nature of the consonant, or _will of the speakers_. And as _all unaccented
syllables are short_, the quantity of our syllables is adjusted by the
easiest and simplest rule in the world, and in the exactest
proportion."--_Lect. on Elocution_, p. 66.
OBS. 12.--This praise of our rule for the adjustment of quantity, would
have been much more appropriate, had not the rule itself been greatly
mistaken, perplexed, and misrepresented by the author. If it appear, on
inspection, that "_beck, lip, cut_," and the like syllables, are twice as
long when under the accent, as they are when not accented, so that, with a
short syllable annexed or a long one prefixed, they may form _trochees_;
then is it _not true_, that such syllables are either always necessarily
and _inherently_ short, or always, "by the smart percussion of the voice,
as necessarily _made_ short;" both of which inconsistent ideas are above
affirmed of them. They may not be so long as some other long syllables;
but, if they are twice as long as the accompanying short ones, they are not
short. And, if not short, then that remarkable distinction in accent, which
assumes that they are so, is as needless as it is absurd and perplexing.
Now let the words, _beck'on, lip'ping, cut'ter_, be properly pronounced,
and their syllables be compared with each other, or with those of
_lim'beck, fil'lip, Dr=a'cut_; and it cannot but be perceived, that _beck,
lip_, and _cut_, like other syllables in general, are _lengthened_ by the
accent, and shortened only in its absence; so that all these words are
manifestly trochees, as all similar words are found to be, in our
versification. To suppose "as many words as we hear accents," or that "it
is the laying of an accent on _one_ syllable, which _constitutes a word_,"
and then say, that "no unaccented syllable or vowel is ever to be accounted
long," as this enthusiastic author does in fact, is to make strange
scansion of a very large portion of the trissyllables and polysyllables
which occur in verse. An other great error in Sheridan's doctrine of
quantity, is his notion that all monosyllables, except a few small
particles, are _accented_; and that their quantity is determined to be long
or short by the _seat_ or the _mode_ of the accent, as before stated. Now,
as our poetry abounds with monosyllables, the relative time of which is
adjusted by emphasis and cadence, according to the nature and importance of
the terms, and according to the requirements of rhythm, with no reference
to this factitious principle, no conformity thereto but what is accidental,
it cannot but be a puzzling exercise, when these difficulties come to be
summed up, to attempt the application of a doctrine so vainly conceived to
be "the easiest and simplest rule in the world!"
OBS. 13.--Lindley Murray's principles of accent and quantity, which later
grammarians have so extensively copied, were mostly extracted from
Sheridan's; and, as the compiler appears to have been aware of but few, if
any, of his predecessor's errors, he has adopted and greatly spread
well-nigh all that have just been pointed out; while, in regard to some
points, he has considerably increased the number. His scheme, as he at last
fixed it, appears to consist essentially of propositions already refuted,
or objected to, above; as any reader may see, who will turn to his
definition of accent, and his rules for the determination of quantity. In
opposition to Sheridan, who not very consistently says, that, "_All_
unaccented syllables are _short_," this author appears to have adopted the
greater error of Fisher, who supposed that the _vowel sounds_ called long
and short, are just the same as the long and short _syllabic quantities_.
By this rule, thousands of syllables will be called long, which are in fact
short, being always so uttered in both prose and poetry; and, by the other,
some will occasionally be called short, which are in fact long, being made
so by the poet, under a slight secondary accent, or perhaps none. Again, in
supposing our numerous monosyllables to be accented, and their quantity to
be thereby fixed, without excepting "the _particles_, such as _a, the, to,
in_, &c.," which were excepted by Sheridan, Murray has much augmented the
multitude of errors which necessarily flow from the original rule. This
principle, indeed, he adopted timidly; saying, as though he hardly believed
the assertion true: "And _some writers assert_, that every monosyllable of
two or more letters, has one of its letters thus distinguished."--_Murray's
Gram._, 8vo, p. 236; 12mo, 189. But still he _adopted_ it, and adopted it
_fully_, in his section on Quantity; for, of his twelve words, exemplifying
syllabic time so regulated, no fewer than nine are monosyllables. It is
observable, however, that, in some instances, it is not _one_ letter, but
_two_, that he marks; as in the words, "m=o=od, h=o=use."--_Ib._, p. 239;
12mo, 192. And again, it should be observed, that generally, wherever he
marks accent, he follows the _old mode_, which Sheridan and Webster so
justly condemn; so that, even when he is speaking of "the accent on the
_consonant_," the sign of stress, as that of time, is set over a _vowel_:
as, "Sadly, robber."--_Ib._, 8vo, 240; 12mo, 193. So in his Spelling-Book,
where words are often falsely divided: as, "Ve nice," for Ven'-ice; "Ha no
ver," for Han'o-ver; &c.--See p. 101.
OBS. 14.--In consideration of the great authority of this grammarian, now
backed by a score or two of copyists and modifiers, it may be expedient to
be yet more explicit. Of _accent_ Murray published about as many different
definitions, as did Sheridan; which, as they show what notions he had at
different times, it may not be amiss for some, who hold him always in the
right, to compare. In one, he describes it thus: "Accent signifies _that
stress_ of the voice, which is laid on _one syllable_, to distinguish it
from the rest."--_Murray's Spelling-Book_, p. 138. He should here have
said, (as by his examples it would appear that he meant,) "on one syllable
_of a word_;" for, as the phrase now stands, it may include stress on a
_monosyllable in a sentence_; and it is a matter of dispute, whether this
can properly be called accent. Walker and Webster say, it is emphasis, and
not accent. Again, in an other definition, which was written before he
adopted the notion of accent on consonants, of accent on monosyllables, or
of accent for quantity in the formation of verse, he used these words:
"Accent is _the laying of_ a peculiar stress of the voice on a certain
_vowel_ or syllable in a word, that it may be better heard than the rest,
or distinguished from them; as, in the word _presume_, the stress of the
voice must be on the second syllable, _sume_, which takes the
accent."--_Murray's Gram., Second Edition_, 12mo, p. 161. In this edition,
which was published at York, in 1796, his chief rules of quantity say
nothing about accent, but are thus expressed: [1.] "A _vowel or syllable_
is long, when _the vowel or vowels contained in it_ are slowly joined in
pronunciation with the _following letters_; as, 'F=all, b=ale, m=o=od,
h=o=use, f=eature.' [2.] A syllable is short, when the vowel is quickly
joined to the succeeding _letter_; as, '~art, b~onn~et, h~ung~er.'"--_Ib._,
p. 166. Besides the absurdity of representing "_a vowel_" as having
"_vowels_ contained in it," these rules are _made up_ of great faults. They
confound syllabic quantities with vowel sounds. They suppose quantity to
be, not the time of a whole syllable, but the quick or slow junction of
_some_ of its parts. They apply to no syllable that ends with a vowel
sound. The former applies to none that ends with one consonant only; as,
"_mood_" or the first of "_feat-ure_." In fact, it does not apply to _any_
of the examples given; the final letter in each of the other words being
_silent_. The latter rule is worse yet: it misrepresents the examples; for
"_bonnet_" and "_hunger_" are trochees, and "_art_," with any stress on it,
OBS. 15.--In all late editions of L. Murray's Grammar, and many
modifications of it, accent is defined thus: "Accent is _the laying of_ a
peculiar stress of the voice, on a certain _letter_ OR _syllable_ in a
word, that _it_ may be better heard than _the rest_, or distinguished from
_them_; as, in the word _presume_, the stress of the voice must be on the
_letter u_, AND [the] _second syllable, sume_, which takes the
accent."--_Murray's Gram._, 8vo, p. 235; 12mo, 188; 18mo, 57; _Alger's_,
72; _Bacon's_, 52; _Comly's_, 168; _Cooper's_, 176; _Davenport's_, 121;
_Felton's_, 134; _Frost's El._, 50; _Fisk's_, 32; _Merchant's_, 145;
_Parker and Fox's_, iii, 44; _Pond's_, 197; _Putnam's_, 96; _Russell's_,
106; _R. O. Smith's_, 186. Here we see a curious jumble of the common idea
of accent, as "stress laid on some particular _syllable_ of a _word_," with
Sheridan's doctrine of accenting always "a particular _letter_ of a
_syllable_,"--an idle doctrine, contrived solely for the accommodation of
short quantity with long, _under the accent_. When this definition was
adopted, Murray's scheme of quantity was also revised, and materially
altered. The principles of his main text, to which his copiers all confine
themselves, then took the following form:
"The quantity of a syllable, is _that_ time which is occupied in
pronouncing it. It is considered as LONG or SHORT.
"A _vowel or syllable_ is long, when the accent is on the vowel; _which_
occasions it to be slowly joined in pronunciation with the following
_letters_: as, 'F=all, b=ale, m=o=od, h=o=use, f=eature.'
"A _syllable_ is short, when the accent is on the consonant; _which_
occasions the vowel to be quickly joined to the succeeding _letter_: as,
'~ant, b=onn~et, h=ung~er.'
"A long syllable generally requires double the time of a short one _in
pronouncing it_: thus, 'M=ate' and 'N=ote' should be pronounced as slowly
again as 'M~at' and 'N~ot.'"--_Murray's Gram._, 8vo, p. 239; 12mo, 192;
18mo, 57; _Alger's_, 72; _D. C. Allen's_, 86; _Bacon's_, 52; _Comly's_,
168; _Cooper's_, 176; _Cutler's_, 165; _Davenport's_, 121; _Felton's_, 134;
_Frost's El._, 50; _Fisk's_, 32; _Maltby's_, 115; _Parker and Fox's_, iii,
47; _Pond's_, 198; _S. Putnam's_, 96; _R. C. Smith's_, 187; _Rev. T.
Here we see a revival and an abundant propagation of Sheridan's erroneous
doctrine, that our accent produces both short quantity and long, according
to its seat; and since none of all these grammars, but the first two of
Murray's, give any _other_ rules for the discrimination of quantities, we
must infer, that these were judged sufficient. Now, of all the principles
on which any have ever pretended to determine the quantity of syllables,
none, so far as I know, are more defective or fallacious than these. They
are liable to more objections than it is worth while to specify. Suffice it
to observe, that they divide certain accented syllables into long and
short, and say nothing of the unaccented; whereas it is plain, and
acknowledged even by Murray and Sheridan themselves, that in "_ant, bonnet,
hunger_" and the like, the unaccented syllables are the _only short ones_:
the rest can be, and here are, lengthened.
OBS. 16.--The foregoing principles, differently expressed, and perchance in
some instances more fitly, are found in many other grammars, and in some of
the very latest; but they are everywhere a _mere dead letter_, a record
which, if it is not always untrue, is seldom understood, and never applied
in any way to practice. The following are examples:
(1.) "In a long syllable, the vowel is accented; in a short syllable [,]
the consonant; as [,] _r=oll, p=oll; t~op, c~ut_."--_Rev. W. Allen's
Gram._, p. 222. (2.) "A syllable _or word_ is long, when the accent is on
the vowel: as n=o, l=ine, l=a, m=e; and short, when on the consonant: as
n~ot, l~in, L~atin, m~et."--_S. Barrett's Grammar, ("Principles of
Language,")_ p. 112.
(3.) "A syllable is long when the accent is on the vowel, as, P=all, s=ale,
m=o=use, cr=eature. A syllable is short when the accent is placed on the
consonant; as great, letter, master."--_Rev. D. Blair's Practical
Gram._, p. 117.
(4.) "When the stress is on the _vowel_, the measure of quantity is _long_:
as, Mate, fate, complain, playful, un der mine. When the stress is on a
_consonant_, the quantity is short: as, Mat, fat, com pel, progress,
dis mantle."--_Pardon Davis's Practical Gram._, p. 125.
(5.) "The quantity of a syllable is considered _as long or short_. It is
long when the accent is on the vowel; as, F=all, b=ale, m=ood, ho=use,
f=eature. It is short when the accent is placed on the consonant; as,
Master, letter."--_Guy's School Gram._, p. 118; _Picket's Analytical
School Gram._, 2d Ed., p. 224.
(6.) "A syllable is _long_ when the accent is on the vowel; and _short_,
when the accent is on the consonant. A _long_ syllable requires twice the
time in pronouncing it that a _short_ one does. Long syllables are marked
thus =; as, t=ube; short syllables, thus ~; as, m~an."--_Hiley's English
Gram._, p. 120.
(7.) "When the accent is on a vowel, the syllable is generally long; as
_=aleho=use, am=usement, f=eatures_. But when the accent is on a consonant,
the syllable is mostly short; as, _h~ap'py, m~an'ner_. A long syllable
requires twice as much time in the pronunciation, as a short one; as,
_h=ate, h~at; n=ote, n~ot; c=ane, c~an; f=ine, f~in_."--_Jaudon's Union
Gram._, p. 173.
(8.) "If the syllable _be long_, the accent is on the vowel; as, in _b=ale,
m=o=od, educ=ation; &c_. If _short_, the accent is on the consonant; as, in
_~ant, b~onnet, h~unger_, &c."--_Merchant's American School Gram._, p. 145.
The quantity of our unaccented syllables, none of these authors, except
Allen, thought it worth his while to notice. But among their accented
syllables, they all include _words of one syllable_, though most of them
thereby pointedly contradict their own definitions of accent. To find in
our language no short syllables but such as are accented, is certainly a
very strange and very great oversight. Frazee says, "The pronunciation of
an accented syllable _requires double the time_ of that of an unaccented
one."--_Frazee's Improved Gram._, p. 180. If so, our poetical quantities
are greatly misrepresented by the rules above cited. Allen truly says,
"Unaccented syllables are generally short; as, _r~eturn, turn~er_."--
_Elements of E. Gram._, p. 222. But how it was ever found out, that in
these words we accent only the vowel _u_, and in such as _hunter_ and
_bluntly_, some one of the consonants only, he does not inform us.
OBS. 17.--As might be expected, it is not well agreed among those who
accent single consonants and vowels, _what particular letter_ should
receive the stress and the mark. The word or syllable "_ant_," for example,
is marked "ant" by Alger, Bacon, and others, to enforce the _n_; "ant" by
Frost, Putnam, and others, to enforce the _t_; "~ant" by Murray, Russell,
and others, to show, as they say, "_the accent on the consonant_!" But, in
"ANTLER," Dr. Johnson accented the _a_; and, to mark the same
pronunciation, Worcester now writes, "~ANTLER;" while almost any
prosodist, in scanning, would mark this word "_~antl~er_" and call it a
_trochee_. Churchill, who is in general a judicious observer, writes
thus: "The _leading feature_ in the English language, on which _it's_
melody both in prose and verse _chiefly depends_, is _it's accent_. Every
word in it of _more than one syllable_ has one of _it's_ syllables
distinguished by this from the rest; the accent being in some cases on the
vowel, in others on the _consonant that closes the syllable_; on the vowel,
when it has _it's_ long sound; on the consonant, when the vowel is
short."--_Churchill's New Gram._, p. 181. But to this, as a rule of
accentuation, no attention is in fact paid nowadays. Syllables that have
long vowels not final, very properly take the sign of stress on or after a
consonant or a mute vowel; as, =angel, ch=amber, sl=ayer, b=eadroll,
sl=eazy, sl=e=eper, sl=e=eveless, l=ively, m=indful, sl=ightly,
sl=iding, b=oldness, gr=ossly, wh=olly, =useless.--See _Worcester's
OBS. 18.--It has been seen, that Murray's principles of quantity were
greatly altered by himself, after the first appearance of his grammar. To
have a full and correct view of them, it is necessary to notice something
more than his main text, as revised, with which all his amenders content
themselves, and which he himself thought sufficient for his Abridgement.
The following positions, which, in some of his revisals, he added to the
large grammar, are therefore cited:--
(1.) "Unaccented syllables are generally short: as, '~admire, boldn~ess,
sinn~er.' But to this rule there are _many_ exceptions: as, 'als=o, ex=ile,
gangr=ene, ump=ire, f=oretaste,' &c.
(2.) "When the accent is on the consonant, the syllable is often _more or
less short_, as it ends with a _single consonant_, or with more than one:
as, 'Sadly, robber; persist, matchless.'
(3.) "When the accent is on a semi-vowel, the time of the syllable may be
protracted, by dwelling upon the _semi-vowel_: as, 'Cur, can, f~ulfil'
but when the accent falls on a mute, the syllable _cannot be lengthened in
the same manner_: as, 'Bubble, captain, totter.'"--_L. Murray's Gram._,
8vo, p. 240; 12mo, 193.
(4.) "In this work, and in the author's Spelling-book, the vowels _e_ and
_o_, in the first syllable of such words as, behave, prejudge, domain,
propose; and in the second syllable of such as pulley, turkey, borrow,
follow; are considered as _long vowels_. The second syllables in such words
as, baby, spicy, holy, fury, are also considered as _long
syllables_."--_Ib._, 8vo, p. 241.
(5.) "In the words _scarecrow, wherefore_, both the syllables are
_unquestionably long_, but not of equal length. We presume _therefore_,
that the syllables under consideration, [i.e., those which end with the
sound of _e_ or _o_ without accent,] may also be properly styled _long
syllables_, though their length is not equal to that of some
others."--_Murray's Octavo Gram._, p. 241.
OBS. 19.--Sheridan's "_infallible rule_, that no vowel ever has a long
sound in an unaccented syllable," is in striking contrast with three of
these positions, and the exact truth of the matter is with neither author.
But, for the accuracy of his doctrine, Murray appeals to "the authority of
the judicious Walker," which he thinks sufficient to prove any syllable
long whose vowel is called so; while the important distinction suggested by
Walker, in his Principles, No. 529, between "the length or shortness of the
vowels," and "that quantity which constitutes poetry," is entirely
overlooked. It is safe to affirm, that all the accented syllables occurring
in the examples above, are _long_; and all the unaccented ones, _short_:
for Murray's long syllables vary in length, and his short ones in
shortness, till not only the just proportion, but the actual relation, of
long and short, is evidently lost with some of them. Does not _match_ in
"_matchless_," _sad_ in "_sadly_," or _bub_ in "_bubble_," require more
time, than _so_ in "_also_," _key_ in "_turkey_," or _ly_ in "_holy_"?
If so, four of the preceding positions are very faulty. And so, indeed, is
the remaining one; for where is the sense of saying, that "when the accent
falls _on a mute_, the syllable cannot be lengthened by _dwelling upon the
semi-vowel_"? This is an apparent truism, and yet not true. For a semivowel
in the middle or at the beginning of a syllable, may lengthen it as much as
if it stood at the end. "_Cur_" and "_can_," here given as protracted
syllables, are certainly no longer by usage, and no more susceptible of
protraction, than "_mat_" and "_not_," "_art_" and "_ant_," which are among
the author's examples of short quantity. And if a semivowel accented will
make the syllable long, was it not both an error and a self-contradiction,
to give "_b~onnet_" and "_h~unger_" as examples of quantity _shortened_ by
the accent? The syllable _man_ has two semivowels; and the letter _l_, as
in "_ful fil_," is the most sonorous of consonants; yet, as we see above,
among their false examples of short syllables accented, different authors
have given the words "_man_" and "_manner_," "_dismantle_" and "_com
pel_," "_master_" and "_letter_," with sundry other sounds which may
easily be lengthened. Sanborn says, "The _breve_ distinguishes a short
syllable; as, _m~anner_."--_Analytical Gram._, p. 273. Parker and Fox say,
"The Breve (thus ~) is placed over a vowel to indicate _its short sound_;
as, St. H~elena."--_English Gram._, Part iii, p. 31. Both explanations of
this sign are defective; and neither has a suitable example. The name "_St.
H~l=en~a_," as pronounced by Worcester, and as commonly heard, is two
trochees; but "_Helena_," for _Helen_, having the penult short, takes the
accent on the first syllable, which is thereby _made long_, though the
vowel sound is _called short_. Even Dr. Webster, who expressly notes the
difference between "long and short _vowels_" and "long and short
_syllables_," allows himself, on the very same page, to confound them: so
that, of his three examples of a _short syllable,--"th~at, not,
m~elon,"_--all are erroneous; two being monosyllables, which any emphasis
must lengthen; and the third,--the word "_m~elon_,"--with the first
syllable marked short, and not the last! See _Webster's Improved Gram._, p.
OBS. 20.--Among the latest of our English Grammars, is Chandler's new one
of 1847. The Prosody of this work is fresh from the mint; the author's old
grammar of 1821, which is the nucleus of this, being "confined to Etymology
and Syantax." [sic--KTH] If from anybody the public have a right to expect
correctness in the details of grammar, it is from one who has had the
subject so long and so habitually before him. "_Accent_" says this author,
"is _the_ stress on a syllable, _or letter_."--_Chandler's Common School
Gram._, p. 188. Now, if our less prominent words and syllables require any
force at all, a definition so loose as this, may give accent to some words,
or to all; to some syllables, or to all; to some letters, or to all--except
those which are _silent_! And, indeed, whether the stress which
distinguishes some monosyllables from others, is supposed by the writer to
be accent, or emphasis, or both, it is scarcely possible to ascertain from
his elucidations. "The term _emphasis_," says he, "is used to denote a
fuller sound of voice _after_ certain words that come in _antithesis_; that
is, contrast. 'He can _write_, but he cannot _read_.' Here, _read_ and
_write_ are _antithetical_ (that is, in contrast), and are _accented_, or
_emphasized_."--P. 189. The word "_after_" here may be a misprint for the
word _upon_; but no preposition really suits the connexion: the participle
_impressing_ or _affecting_ would be better. Of _quantity_, this work gives
the following account: "The _quantity_ of a _syllable_ is that time which
is required to pronounce it. A syllable may be _long_ or _short_. _Hate_ is
long, as the vowel _a_ is elongated by the final _e_; _hat_ is short, and
requires about half the time for pronunciation which is used for
pronouncing _hate_. So of _ate, at; bate, bat; cure, cur_. Though
unaccented syllables are usually short, yet _many_ of those which are
accented are short also. The following are short: _ad_vent, _sin_ner,
_sup_per. In the following, the unaccented syllables are long: al_so_,
ex_ile_, gan_grene_, um_pire_. It maybe remarked, that the quantity of a
syllable is short when the accent is on a consonant; as, art, bonnet,
hunger. The _hyphen_ (-), placed over a syllable, denotes that it is long:
n=ature. The breve (~) over a syllable, denotes that it is short; as,
d~etr=act."--_Chandler's Common School Gram._, p. 189. This scheme of
quantity is truly remarkable for its absurdity and confusion. What becomes
of the elongating power of e, without accent or emphasis, as in _juncate,
palate, prelate_? Who does not know that such syllables as "_at, bat_,
and _cur_" are often long in poetry? What more absurd, than to suppose both
syllables short in such words as, "_~advent, sinner, supper_," and then
give "serm~on, f=ilt~er, sp=ir~it, g=ath~er," and the like, for regular
trochees, with "the first syllable long, and the second short," as does
this author? What more contradictory and confused, than to pretend that the
primal sound of a vowel lengthens an unaccented syllable, and accent on the
consonant shortens an accented one, as if in "_also_" the first syllable
must be short and the second long, and then be compelled, by the evidence
of one's senses to mark "ech~o" as a trochee, and "detract" as an iambus?
What less pardonable misnomer, than for a great critic to call the sign of
long quantity a "_hyphen_"?
OBS. 21.--The following suggestions found in two of Dr. Webster's grammars,
are not far from the truth: "Most prosodians who have treated particularly
of this subject, have been guilty of a fundamental error, in considering
the movement of English verse as depending on long and short syllables,
formed by long and short vowels. This hypothesis has led them into capital
mistakes. The truth is, many of those syllables which are considered as
_long_ in verse, are formed by the shortest vowels in the language; as,
_strength, health, grand_. The doctrine that long vowels are necessary to
form long syllables in poetry is at length exploded, and the principles
which regulate the movement of our verse, are explained; viz. _accent_ and
_emphasis_. Every emphatical word, and every accented syllable, will form
what is called in verse, a long syllable. The unaccented syllables, and
unemphatical monosyllabic words, are considered as short
syllables."--_Webster's Philosophical Gram._, p. 222; _Improved Gram._,
158. Is it not remarkable, that, on the same page with this passage, the
author should have given the first syllable of "_melon_" as an example of
OBS. 22.--If the principle is true, which every body now takes for granted,
that the foundation of versifying is some distinction pertaining to
syllables; it is plain, that nothing can be done towards teaching the Art
of Measuring Verses, till it be known _upon what distinction_ in syllables
our scheme of versification is based, and by what rule or rules the
discrimination is, or ought to be, made. Errors here are central, radical,
fundamental. Hence the necessity of these present disquisitions. Without
some effectual criticism on their many false positions, prosodists may
continue to theorize, dogmatize, plagiarize, and blunder on, as they have
done, indefinitely, and knowledge of the rhythmic art be in no degree
advanced by their productions, new or old. For the supposition is, that in
general the consulters of these various oracles are persons more fallible
still, and therefore likely to be misled by any errors that are not
expressly pointed out to them. In this work, it is assumed, that
_quantity_, not laboriously ascertained by "a great variety of rules
applied from the Greek and Latin Prosody," but discriminated on principles
of our own--_quantity_, dependent in some degree on the nature and number
of the letters in a syllable, but still more on the presence or absence of
stress--is the true foundation of our metre. It has already been stated,
and perhaps proved, that this theory is as well supported by authority as
any; but, since Lindley Murray, persuaded wrong by the positiveness of
Sheridan, exchanged his scheme of feet formed by quantities, for a new one
of "feet formed by accents"--or, rather, for an impracticable mixture of
both, a scheme of supposed "_duplicates_ of each foot"--it has been
becoming more and more common for grammarians to represent the basis of
English versification to be, not the distinction of long and short
quantities, but the recurrence of _accent_ at certain intervals. Such is
the doctrine of Butler, Felton, Fowler, S. S. Greene, Hart, Hiley, R. C.
Smith, Weld, Wells, and perhaps others. But, in this, all these writers
contradict themselves; disregard their own definitions of accent; count
monosyllables to be accented or unaccented; displace emphasis from the rank
which Murray and others give it, as "the great regulator of quantity;" and
suppose the length or shortness of syllables not to depend on the presence
or absence of either accent or emphasis; and not to be of much account in
the construction of English verse. As these strictures are running to a
great length, it may be well now to introduce the poetic feet, and to
reserve, for notes under that head, any further examination of opinions as
to what constitutes the _foundation_ of verse.
SECTION III.--OF POETIC FEET.
A verse, or line of poetry., consists of successive combinations of
syllables, called _feet_. A poetic _foot_, in English, consists either of
two or of three syllables, as in the following examples:
1. "C=an t=y | -r~ants b=ut | b~y t=y | -r~ants c=on | -qu~ered
2. "H=ol~y, | h=ol~y, | h=ol~y! | =all th~e | s=aints ~a | -d=ore
3. "And th~e br=eath | ~of th~e D=e | -~it~y c=ir | -cl~ed th~e
4. "H=ail t~o th~e | chi=ef wh~o ~in | tr=i~umph ~ad |-v=anc~es!"--_Scott_.
EXPLANATIONS AND DEFINITIONS.
Poetic feet being arbitrary combinations, contrived merely for the
measuring of verses, and the ready ascertainment of the syllables that suit
each rhythm, there is among prosodists a perplexing diversity of opinion,
as to the _number_ which we ought to recognize in our language. Some will
have only two or three; others, four; others, eight; others, twelve. The
dozen are all that can be made of two syllables and of three. Latinists
sometimes make feet of four syllables, and admit sixteen more of these,
acknowledging and naming twenty-eight in all. The _principal_ English feet
are the _Iambus_, the _Trochee_, the _Anapest_, and the _Dactyl_.
1. The _Iambus_, or _Iamb_, is a poetic foot consisting of a short syllable
and a long one; as, _b~etr=ay, c~onf=ess, d~em=and, ~intent, d~egr=ee_.
2. The _Trochee_, or _Choree_, is a poetic foot consisting of a long
syllable and a short one; as, _h=atef~ul, p=ett~ish, l=eg~al, m=eas~ure,
3. The _Anapest_ is a poetic foot consisting of two short syllables and one
long one; as, _c~ontr~av=ene, ~acqu~i=esce, ~imp~ort=une_.
4. The _Dactyl_ is a poetic foot consisting of one long syllable and two
short ones; as, _l=ab~our~er, p=oss~ibl~e, w=ond~erf~ul_.
These are our principal feet, not only because they are oftenest used, but
because each kind, with little or no mixture, forms a distinct order of
numbers, having a peculiar rhythm. Of verse, or poetic measure, we have,
accordingly, four principal kinds, or orders; namely, _Iambic, Trochaic,
Anapestic_, and _Dactylic_; as in the four lines cited above.
The more pure these several kinds are preserved, the more exact and
complete is the chime of the verse. But exactness being difficult, and its
sameness sometimes irksome, the poets generally indulge some variety; not
so much, however, as to confound the drift of the rhythmical pulsations:
or, if ever these be not made obvious to the reader, there is a grave fault
in the versification.
The _secondary_ feet, if admitted at all, are to be admitted only, or
chiefly, as occasional diversifications. Of this class of feet, many
grammarians adopt four; but they lack agreement about the selection.
Brightland took the _Spondee_, the _Pyrrhic_, the _Moloss_, and the
_Tribrach_. To these, some now add the other four; namely, the
_Amphibrach_, the _Amphimac_, the _Bacchy_, and the _Antibacchy_.