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"TTHAVoirNHoT



A HISTORY OF ENGLISH PROSODY



MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.

TORONTO



A HISTORY



OF



ENGLISH PROSODY

FROM THE TWELFTH CENTURY TO
THE PRESENT DAY



BY



GEORGE SAINTSBURY

M.A. OXON ; HON. LL.D. ABERD. ; HON. D.LITT. DURH.;

HONORARY FELLOW OF MERTON COLLEGE, OXFORD; PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AND

ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH



VOL. Ill
FROM BLAKE TO MR. SWINBURNE



' Mary rings ! ' — T/ie Hollozv Land.



MACMILLAN AND CO.. LIMITED

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

I 9 I o



^ ^ UNIVF^SITY OF C^LTFORNTA

,) ^ ^ SANTA i;.i.xixJAliA COLjlE JE LIBKARY

76851



V



.3



PREFACE

The Preface of the second volume of this book was much
shorter than the Preface of the first ; this shall be shorter
still, indeed of the shortest. For I have endeavoured to
say in the body of the text what I thought material, and
I do not wish to say anything immaterial either here or
elsewhere. I have only to thank critics for the kindness
with which the work has been generally received hitherto ;
to hope that this part of it — the most difficult and trying,
no doubt, of the three, as touching matters most inter-
esting to most people — will not be found unworthy of
the continuance of that kindness ; to apologise to any
one whom I may have offended, in any of the senses of
that word, while writing on a matter where offence is
very hard to avoid unless one writes with a flavourless
and colourless scholasticism ; and to make my bow.

But, in making it, I must once more repeat thanks
to my unfailing helpers Professors Ker, Elton (to whose
good offices I owe the unhoped-for advantage of being
able to deal with Blake's French Revolution)^ and Gregory
Smith. I must also express my gratitude to my friend
and colleague Professor Hardie, for reading the Hexa-



vi PREFACE

meter chapter, and making some valuable suggestions.
It may perhaps not be improper to add that, after con-
sultation with my publishers, it has been decided to issue,
as soon as possible, an abridgment of this History, with
additions of a character which may fit it for the office of
a Handbook on the subject.

GEORGE SAINTSBURY.

Edinburgh, March lo, 1910.



CONTENTS

BOOK IX

THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL

CHAPTER I

BURNS, BLAKE, AND THE CLOSE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
(WITH AN EXCURSUS ON OSSIAN)

PAGE

A glance backwards at Crabbe and Cowper — Burns — His "altera-
tive " power — Of the highest importance, but comparatively simple
— Blake; his complexity— The Poetical Sketches ■ — The "Mad
Song " — The Songs of Innocence and of Experience — The MS.
Poems — The " Prophetic " Books — Blake's note on their form —
Models? — The Early Fragment — Tiriel — Thel — The Marriage of
Heaven and Hell — The French Revolution — Albion, America, and
Europe — Urizen, Los, and Ahania — The Fotir Zoas (Vala) —
Milton and Jerusaletn — Summary on Blake — The other side —
Darwin — Hayley — Gifford — Helen Maria Williams — The Delia
Cruscans — Moral of this— Attempts at rhymelessness — The hexa-
meter — Rhymeless Pindarics — Sayers — Bowles . . .3

EXCURSUS ON OSSIAN . . . . -43

CHAPTER II

THE FIRST ROMANTIC GROUP (THE LAKE POETS, SCOTT, MOORE,
LANDOR, ETC.)

Possibly influences — Southey — His early perception of true doctrine
— His practice in Ballad — Thalaba — Kehama — Coleridge — The
Christabel manifesto — Its looseness of statement — His prosodic



CONTENTS



opinions not clear — Supreme importance of his prosodic practice —
Ktibla Khan — The Ancietit Mariner — Recent ballad metre —
Christabel — Wonderful blunders about it — His other prosodic
titles — Wordsworth : his theories on poetic diction — On " harmony
of numbers " — His actual prosodic quality — The prosody of the
Immortality ode — An interlude of skirmish — Scott — His relation
to Christabel — His other narrative metres — His lyric — His critics
— Special relation of Moore's prosody to music — The lesson of
" Eveleen's Bower" — Landor : his ordinaiy prosody — That of
his " epigrams " — Rogers — Campbell— Mat Lewis . . 47



CHAPTER III

THE SECOND ROMANTIC GROUP (LEIGH HUNT, BYRON, SHELLEY,
KEATS, AND MINORS)

Leigh Hunt — Byron : his lyrics — His blank verse, etc. — His Spenser-
ians — His serio-comic ottava — Digression on Frere — Byron's
adoption of it — Don Juan — Shelley — Undeliberateness of his
prosody — The "Juvenilia" — Queen Mab — His blank verse from
Alastor onwards — His early Spenserians — Prince Athanase and
the tercet — Rosalind and Helen : Shelley's octosyllables— y^i//zaw
and Maddalo : his heroics — Blank verse and other metres in drama
— Prometheus Unbound — The Masque of Autarchy, etc. — The
Witch of Atlas and the octave — Epipsychidion and Adonais — The
Triumph of Life, etc. — The smaller lyrics, etc. — Keats — The
early Poems — The Sonnets — Endymion and Keats's first couplet
— The prosodic criticism in the Quarterly — Isabella and his octave
— Lamia and the improved couplet — Hyperion and its blank verse
— The Eve of St. Agnes and the Spenserian — The various ode
stanzas — La Belle Dame sans Merci and The Eve of St. Ma7-k —
The "Intermediates" — " L. E. L."— Haynes Bayly — Macaulay
— "The Last Buccaneer" — Praed — The " Praed metre" —
Hood — "The Haunted House" — His minor poems — Darley and
Beddoes . . . . . • -93



CHAPTER IV

PROSODISTS BEFORE GUEST

Subjects of the chapter — Return to Cowper ; as prosodic critic — Sayers
again — The grammaticasters ; Walker and Murray — Odell —
Thelwall — Roe — Warner — Herbert — Gregory — Criticisms on
Southey's hexameters ; the Edinburgh Review — Tillbrook — Crowe
— Some others — Payne Knight — Carey — Frere and Blundell .. 151

INTERCH AFTER IX . . . . . .170



CONTENTS



BOOK X

EARLY AND MIDDLE VICTORIAN VERSE



CHAPTER I



TENNYSON AND BROWNINCx



PAGE



Tennyson : the Poems by Two Brothers and other earliest work — Tint-
buctoo and The Lover's Tale — The volumes of 1830 and 1832 —
" Claribel " — The " Hollyhock " song — "The Poet " and the deca-
syllabic quatrain— The "Palace" and "Dream" stanzas — The
"Dying Swan" — "The Lady of Shalott" — "CEnone" — The
" Lotos- Eaters" — "The Vision of Sin" — "St. Simeon Stylites "
— "Love and Duty" — " Morte d'Arthur " and "Ulysses" — The
Princess — In Memo7-iaTn — The Wellington ode — Maud — "The
Voyage," etc. — The anaprestics of the Ballads — The later blank
verse — The dramas — Browning — The common mistake about him
— His early blank verse : Pauline — And couplet : Paracelsus
and Sordello — The later form : not incorrect, but admitting the
highest excellence with difficulty — His octosyllables — His salva-
tion by lyric — Miscellaneous examples — " Love among the Ruins"
— "The Last Ride Together" — "In a Gondola" — More miscel-
lanies — " Childe Roland" — Dramatis Personce — "James Lee['s
Wife]"— "Abt Vogler "—" Rabbi Ben Ezra "—The later books
— Fifine at the Fair — The last varieties . . . .183



CHAPTER II



THE MID-CENTURY MINORS

Classification — Mrs. Browning — Her defects in form, especially in
rhyme and diction — The superiority of her strictly metrical powers
— Examples, especially "The Rhyme of the Duchess May" —
Matthew Arnold : his peculiar position — His rhymeless attempts :
*'The Strayed Reveller" — Early lyric and blank verse — "The
Forsaken Merman" and "A Question" — "The Church of Brou "
and "Tristram and Iseult " — "Isolation" — Merope — Empedocles
on Etna — "The Scholar -Gipsy," etc. — Kingsley — Some general
considerations — The " Spasmodics " — Some miscellaneous ex-
amples — Light verse: Barham — Thackeray — Dramatic verse:
retrospect — Miss Baillie and Talfourd — Tennyson and Browning
again — Edward FitzGerald and the Rubdiydt . . .241



CONTENTS



CHAPTER III

GUEST AND OTHER MID-CENTURY PROSODISTS

PAGE

Guest's History of English Rhythms — The author a " soHfidian " of
accent — His learning — Its accompanying drawbacks — The three
obsessions — Their working — The accentual prejudice — The lin-
guistic-historical delusions — The " section " — Its scheme — Its
freaks — Southey's summary verdict — Evans — O'Brien, Latham,
Dallas, Lord Redesdale, etc. ..... 275

INTERCHAPTER X . . . . . .296



BOOK XI
THE LATER NINETEENTH CENTURY

CHAPTER I

THE PRiE-RAPHAELITE SCHOOL

Distribution and nomenclature — Diffe^-entia : general and particular —
D. G. Rossetti — "The Blessed Damozel" — Various poems — His
sonnets and the later sonnet generally — William Morris: his
prosodic importance— The verse in the Oxford and Cambridge
Magazine — The Defence of Guenevere — The Life and Death of
Jason — Morris's heroics — The Earthly Paradise — Its octosyllabics
— Love is Enough — Sigurd the Volsiing — Poetns by ike Way — Mr.
Swinburne: his blank verse postponed — Atalanta in Calydon
— Considerations on it — Chastelard — Poems and Ballads — Laus
Veneris — Various forms — The "Dolores" metre — Other books:
A Song of Ltaly and Songs before Stmrise — The second Poems and
Ballads— '' At a. Month's End "—The later volumes— The blank
verse — The couplets of Tristram — The long metres — Miss
Rossetti : Goblin Market — The title poem — Her later books —
Sonnets and general quality — Canon Dixon — ATano and its metre
— O'Shaughnessy : The Epic of Women — The "Barcarolle" —
Lays of France — Sotigs of a Worher — Music and Moonlight — James
Thomson IT. .



CHAPTER II

, OTHER POETS OF 1850-I900

Restrictions — Mr. George Meredith — Comparison of Emily Bronte's
"Remembrance"; Faber's " Pilgrims of the Night"; and Lord



307



CONTENTS



Lytton's " Astarte " — Miss Veley : "A Japanese Fan "- — Lord De
Tabley — Mr. Henley — John Davidson — Francis Thompson —
Coventry Patmore — The revival of the ballade and similar forms —
Some more dead poets, and some live ones . . . 376



CHAPTER III

THE LATER ENGLISH HEXAMETER AND THE DISCUSSIONS ON IT

Hexametrists between Daniel and the mid-eighteenth century — Gold-
smith — Tucker and Herries — The German example and its
followers — The " accentual " form — Coleridge- — Southey : his dis-
cussion of the matter — The Vision of Judgment — Between Southey
and Longfellow — Evangeline — Clough : The Bothie — His elegiacs,
lyrics, etc. — Others — Cayley — Calverley — Kingsley and his
remarks on Andromeda — Andromeda itself-^Its base really ana-
paestic — Tennyson — Arnold and others — Mr. Swinburne — The
last stage — Reversion to Spedding, etc. — Mr. W. J. Stone — Mr.
Bridges' experiments ...... 394



CHAPTER IV



LATER PROSODISTS

Plan — Mr. Omond's work — Sidney Walker — Masson — Patmore — Mr.
Wadham — Tom Hood the Younger — Dr. Abbott — Professor
Sylvester— Professor Earle — Mr. Henry Sweet — Mr. Symonds —
Mr. A. J. Ellis — Conway — Mr. Ruskin — Mr. Edmund Gurney —
Mr. Shadworth Hodgson — Professor Fleeming Jenkin — Professor
Mayor — The " monopressure " theory — Mr. William Larminie —
Mr. J. M. Robertson — MM. Van Dam and Stoffel — Other foreign
students of English prosody : Dr. Schipper — M. Verrier — Mr.
Mallard — Mr. Bateson — Mr. William Thomson — Mr. C. F. Keary
— Mr. Hewlett — Remarks on "Fancy" prosodies . . 437



CHAPTER V



AMERICAN POETS AND PROSODISTS

Necessary selection — Bryant — "Maria del Occidente " — Holmes —
Lowell — Leiand — Emerson — -Poe — His verse — His Rationale of
Verse — Longfellow — Whitman — Rush — Lanier — Dr. Price —
Professor Gummere — Miss Julia Dabney — Professor Liddell—
Professor Lewis — Others ..... 480



CONTENTS



PAGE

CONCLUSION . . . . . . .506

APPENDICES (I. What is a Foot ? II. Is the Base-Foot of English
Iamb or Trochee? III. Trisyllabic Metres since 1600. IV,
Rhyme, 1600- 1900. V. Alliteration and Vowel-Music, 1600-
1900. VI. An Omnibus Box : A. The Prosody of Langland,
Lydgate, and the Kingis Quair ; B. Guest's Symbol for marking
Accent, and its Bearings ; C. The Metre of Spenser's "February" ;
D. Some Modern Instances ; E. Notes (not strictly Corrigenda)
for Vol. II.) . .517



INDEX 553



ADDENDA AND CORRIGENDA FOR VOL. II

I regretted to find, in most cases before any one had pointed
them out to me, a batch of misprints in Vol. II., which had somehow
or other evaded the correction that in most cases I should have said
I had made. They are as follows : —

Page 64, lines 3, 4 ; for the first " well-known " rxad "usual."
Page 78, line 6 ; delete "a."
Page 106, line 4 from bottom ; delete "by."

Page III, line 13 from bottom ; /<?r " fourteener " rm^ " four-
and-ten."

Page 127, line 13 from bottom ; for "/'/atonic" read " J///tonic."
Pages 159-160, in quotation ; for "those" read "there," mid for
" more " " moe."

Page 160, note ; for " 22 " read " 2."
Page 216, note ; for " precisions " read " precisians."
Page 227, last line ; for " decasyllabic " read " mixed octosyllabic
and decasyllabic."

Page 233, note ; for " origin alone " read " original one."
Page 243, line 14 ; for " 644 " read " 654."

Page 245, line 6 from bottom ; for " Mi|ch|ael " read " Mi|cha|el."
Page 249, line 6 from bottom ; for "559" read "653."
Page 249, line 2 from bottom ; 7iiake numbers 772 and 774.
Page 250, line 12 from bottom ; for "grown up" read "up-grown."
Page 255, line 10 from bottom ; for "cannot" read "can not."
Page 271, line 13 from bottom ; delete "of" before "old."
Page 335, line 23 ; for " Watt " read " Wyatt."
Page 403, hne 5 from bottom ; for "easier" read "harder."
Page 423, line 7 ; for "noted" read "third."
Page 426, line 8 ; for " laid " read " paid."
Page 434, line 3 ; delete "only."

Page 466, line 22 ; for "/^finitely" read "c/,?finitely."
Page 478, line 4 from bottom ; for "least" read "last."
On page 524 there is a blunder with which I cannot in any way
charge the printer. The sentence as to the 1723 Collection has got
topsy-turvy, in a manner for which I cannot account. The correct
date of the Pills (1719) is given elsewhere (p. 422). They were
finished in 1720, and so are three years before Philips's collection,
which is the second, as they are in a manner the first. To correct,
read " after "/cir "before," " first " yi?r "second," <w^ " later " _/i>r
" earlier."



BOOK IX

THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL



VOL. Ill



CHAPTER I

BURNS, BLAKE, AND THE CLOSE OF THE EIGHTEENTH
CENTURY (with AN EXCURSUS ON OSSIAn)

A glance backwards at Crabbe and Cowper — Burns — His "alterative"
power — Of the highest importance, but comparatively simple —
Blake: his complexity — The Poetical Sketches — The "Mad
Song " — -The Songs of Innocence and of Experience — The MS.
Poems — The " Prophetic " Books — Blake's note on their form —
Models? — The Early Fragment — Tiriel — Thel — The Marriage
of Heaven and Hell — The French Revolution — Albion^ Atnerica,
and Europe — Urizen, Los, and Ahania — The Four Zoas {Vala)
— Milton a.Yid Jerusalem — Summary on Blake — The other side —
Darwin — Hayley — Gifford — Helen Maria Williams — The Delia
Cruscans — Moral of this — Attempts at rhymelessness — The
hexameter — Rhymeless Pindarics — Sayers — Bowles.

Of the four chief poets who, making their appearance A glance
about 1780, represent the proper work of the last two ^'J^^]^''^^^^'
decades of the eighteenth century, two, Cowper and Cowper.
Crabbe, necessarily found their place in the last volume
of this History. For, though they influenced their greater
juniors (some of whom were to make appearance during
this same time, but none of whom produced really
characteristic work till the very eve of the nineteenth),
this influence was in hardly the least degree of a prosodic
kind. Both to some extent, and Cowper to a considerable
one, display a tendency to break away from strict
allegiance to the Popian couplet ; while we shall be able
to quote some interesting though but half- illuminated
prosodic remarks of Cowper, postponed for the purpose,
in this very Book. Cowper's " blanks " must have been,
and were, not quite unintentionally, a serious disintegrating
force. But in mere verse, and still more in that all-

3



THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL



important point of diction which is inseparable from
prosody, both were of the older school — laboriously
rhetorical or laboriously easy. In neither is there much,
if indeed there is any, sign of the great rain which was
to descend upon the parched and weary land of English
versification, and to make it once more — what it had been
in the seventeenth century, and even on a greater and
more gorgeous scale — a Jiortus non siccus of every kind
of prosodic flower, an orchard lavishing every kind of
prosodic fruit.

With the two great companions and contemporaries,
whose work would certainly have shocked Cowper, and
would probably at this time have puzzled Crabbe, though
it is very improbable that any of Blake or much of Burns
was known to the former,^ it was different. Poetry had
to become as a little child before it could enter into the
new kingdom of heaven — that is to say, it had to become
lyrical again ; and though Cowper was a great lyrist in
his way, and Crabbe not quite a contemptible one, their
way was not child-like.
Burns. Part of the value of Burns, from the point of view

just taken, only slightly concerns us. The alterative
power of his diction — its value as a solvent to the stiff
conventionality of eighteenth-century poetry — cannot be
exaggerated ; but as this diction was dialectic it could
not affect, or could affect but very little, the prosodic
material of general English poetry. With his metres it
was very different. As was indicated in the last volume,
it is in Burns that the ballad once more begins to exert
its reviving force. Percy's collection had already been

1 Blake and Cowper had Hayley for their sole nexus — a most remarkable
one ; but Cowper had fallen into his last and saddest stage long before
Flaxman introduced Blake to Hayley, and actually died just before Blake's
visit to Felpham. As for Burns, the words in the text may be open to mis-
conception. Cowper, of course, read Burns in the summer of 1787, and refers
to him enthusiastically in letters to Rose, who gave him the book. But he
wanted him to " divest himself of barbarism " in language, to " content him-
self with pure English," etc., and makes no reference to his form, if indeed
this is not, as seems likely, included in the " dark lantern " wherein he
thought Burns's bright candle was "shut up." This is what I mean by "not
knowing much of him " ; not to mention that the Burns of 1787 was not all
Burns.



CHAP. I BURNS AND BLAKE 5

at work as a model for nearly twenty years ; Watson's,
Allan Ramsay's, Ambrose Philips's, for much longer.
But these were " models " not of the live kind ; and for a
very long time — in fact (with the exceptions of Chatterton
and Blake) until Southey, if not till The Ancient Mariner
— they produced little or nothing but copies and pastiches^
vitiated more or less by infusion of eighteenth -century
style. The almost uncanny way in which Burns incor-
porated, or rather /r^wi-corporated and transanimated at
once, scraps of ancient song into his own, is well known.
The result in his case was neither pastiche nor copy, but
a genuine fresh growth from the old stool or stem. For
our purpose not merely are the " English " poems of little
or no value, but pieces of narrative substance in more or
less literary form, like the Cotter's Saturday Night, go
with them. It is the lyrics and the octosyllabic couplet
pieces that give him his pride of place here.

That probably not a single one of the metres in which His "aitera-
these are written is an actual invention — even of that *'^^ power.
modified kind in which the maker mnvents without
definite knowledge, or at least thought, of his predecessors
— is no doubt a fact ; but it makes not the smallest
difference of interest or merit. The famous " Burns-
metre " has been traced by the ingenious to those other
ingenious who wrote it in foreign lands and early
mediaeval times ; and we have seen how it is as common
as anything (and commoner than " common measure "
itself) in English poetry, certainly of the fifteenth, perhaps
of the late fourteenth century. It was neither the less
nor the more for this a godsend, and if not a panacea,
a sovereign remedy for many of the worst ills at the end
of the eighteenth. It was one of the crotchets of the
time — we shall see it extending far later than Burns's
death in precept and criticism — that very varied lengths
of line were bad things, and much intertwisted rhyme if
possible a worse. Almost the whole beauty of this
" Burns -metre " (which was at least five hundred years
old, perhaps much more, when Burns was born) consists
in the sharp " pull-up " of the fourth and sixth lines as



THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL



compared with the other four, and the break of fresh
rhyme after the opening triplet. The eighteenth century
had despised refrains ; Burns brought them in on every
possible occasion, both in the regular form of exact, or
nearly exact, repetition, and in the other of partly altered
" bobs " at the end of verses, as in the whirling variety
of the Jolly Beggars — a sort ot kitten-and-dead-leaves
dance of different measures, contrasted not more strikingly
with the decent monotony of the couplet itself than with
the altogether different variety of such things as Dryden's
Alexander's Feast. Music, throughout the poems, is con-
stantly doing her good genie work (as we have seen she
can sometimes do bad ditto) in suggesting fresh move-
ments and varying old ones ; while double rhymes, internal
rhymes, all tricks of which rhyme is capable, lend
their aid.^

So large a part, indeed, of Burns's best and most har-
monious work is either directly written to well-known tunes
or even partly built up on already familiar word-rhythms,
that original prosodic quality is less easy to distinguish
in him than in some far inferior poets. On the whole,
he is not, considering his general value, specially happy
with continuous anapaestic measure. Some of the old
Scots forms which he uses, particularly the internal-
rhymed "bob" {v. sup. vol. i. I'^z)^ ^^^ not always
particularly beautiful. But of the iamb and trochee, on
the most various suggestions of music, he is almost a
perfect master. The prosodic quality of MacphersorHs
Farewell could not be better ; and that of Bannocks of
Barley^ is quite independent of any prescribed tune. It
makes its own, as (we have pointed it out often) lyrics of
real prosodic quality always do.

1 Alas ! the old blunder of objecting to irregularities of that kind is not dead.
As I revise my " copy " I have before me an extract or pricis from a docu-
ment issued by the Scotch Education Department, deprecating "abnormal
compass," "awkward intervals," and "eccentric rhythms" in school selections.
Now these are the very fermeiita salvationis ; the salt that keeps true
prosody alive ; the training-school of the ear.

2 This, one may just point out, belongs to that most interesting class of
which " Phyllida flouts me " is the choir-leader, and which offer the choice of
dactyl and trochee, anapaest and amphibrach, with such bewildering com-
plaisance.



BURNS AND BLAKE



One trisyllabic use of Burns's, however, is of special
interest and importance — not that it is his invention, for
it is as old as the Gospel of Nicodemus ^ at least, but
because of his felicitous use of it ; because of its intrinsic
beauty ; because he (or Apollo) taught it to Coleridge ;
and because it proved to be one of the touchstones which
show the theories of Guest to be utterly false metal,^
This is what the latter calls, in his talismanic terminology,
the " section 9," and dismisses as having " very little to
recommend it." This vaurien among lines is the ordinary
three-foot iambic, or second line of the common measure,
with a fixed substitution of anapaest for iamb in the first



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