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just returned, and most assuredly there is no that one appreciated the other comsuch poem in it. His late republication may pletely, while the other (viz., Miss Barcontain it - and that also I have lent. You rett) took a sweeping exception to a shall have it in time.
special phase of the genius she so well I hear rumours of greatness in respect of a ! Mr. Patmore's new volume of poems just ad-1
estimated in all other respects. And in vertised. They are said to be “only second to
to this exception she was, as I considered, Tennyson's by coming secondly'' - which, I only justified in certain respects. however, makes a difference! Tell me, if you! The note begins with an amusing refsee them, what you think of them. He is said erence to something outré which had to be quite a young man — that is, a very been written to Miss Barrett by someyoung man.
body, whose name I was endeavouring to Oh, no - I promise to try not to kill myself guess; then touches briefly on the poems (with over-work] but I am very busy and anx- of Mr. Trench, and passes on to Mr. ious, and can't help being both.
Browning with a striking commentary : – We now come to the question of Versification - an Art quite fixed and final if
May ist, 1843. we keep to the old classic system ofl. Your over-subtlety, my dear Mr. Horne, counting feet, or syllables,- and a most
has ruined you ! Suspecting me of man-traps eel-like subject, chameleon-like, lustrous,
and spring-guns, you shoot yourself with the
hypothesis of a spring-gun which takes its dove's-breast-like, chromatic sprite and
place at once among "remarkable accidents." sylphid, when, boldly diverging from the
For — I stated the bare fact when I said “a old, well-known tracks and measurements, man.” Man it was — no woman it was! poets take to the spiritual guidance of man it was, and man it ought to be. Yes, and “airy voices" dictating euphonious ac- lit wasn't Leigh Hunt either, I make oath to cents, pauses, beats of time, wavy lilts you! I wish it had been Leigh Hunt. and pulsations, often not amenable to any! No man would have ventured to say such a laws except those of musical utterance
\thing? Ventured ! — why, you are quite inand emotion. These varied measures,
nocent, Mr. Horne. I won't tell you the name; numbers, utterances, when an attempt is
: but I affirm to you that those words, as I
quoted them, were written by a man, and to made to force them within the confines of
me. And, by no means in jest or lightness of special laws, are very apt, in many in heart, as a woman would have written them stances, to find their spirit evaporate, and nor in arch-mock at the infirmities of our nanothing but a caput mortuum remaining ture, as Leigh Hunt might have written them, in its place. Perhaps the greatest diffi- but in grave naïveté, - in sincere earnestness, culty in forining a settled judgment of and without the consciousness of saying anythese new forms of versification arises thing out of the way. My last guess was that from the fact that one good ear will fre
it came from America.) Now, I wouldn't tell quently be found to differ from another
you the name for the world.
At the end of your last note you attempt an good ear, with regard to the effect of the
impossible application of a quotation which same rhythmic music. In short, one can
won't be applied in such a manner for two sepread it musically, and another cannot. arate reasons. “I prythee do not mock mc." One is delighted with it — the other de- ! You are quite right. “Anybody can be se. nounces it. A remarkable instance of vere.” As to Mr. Trench, I have only such this will appear in the next of Miss Bar- knowledge of him as extracts in your article rett's letters which I am about to give. and other reviews can give ; and although he It will be found interesting, as well as has probably more faculty than many who are curious, from a peculiar circumstance.
facile and copious, he seems to be dry and In the previous instalment of this series,
limited, and without impulse in the use of it,
and meets, I should think, with liberal justice a note is mentioned which had been ad
at your hands. Browning, however, stands dressed to Miss Barrett's cousin, Mr.
high with me. I want very much to know John Kenyon,- shown to her,- lent to what you mean by his worst fault, which you me, and returned — referring admiringly have not touched upon ? Will you tell me to her bold experiments in novel rhymes. in confidence, and I will promise never to This note, which I had fancied to have divulge it, if you make a condition of secrecy? been written by Landor, I have since Mr. Browning knows thoroughly what a poet's found was written by Mr. Browning.
true work is; – he is learned, not only in proThe Letter I am now about to give has /
fane learning, but in the conduct of his genius; special reference to Mr. Browning's
he is original in common things ; his very ob
scurities have an oracular nobleness about poetry. It will thus be discovered that
them which pleases me. iwo poets who had never seen each other at this time, were already intimate in im- ! I cannot help pausing an instant to reagination and intellectual sympathy; - mind the reader that the above critique
was written in 1843, when only a very lopsis of such an Essay would occupy special class had made similar discover- several pages, and, so far, interrupt the ies, and that the writer had never seen course of the Letters, it has been considthe poet; so that we may fairly regard ered advisable to postpone the discussion this as a striking proof of her genius in till the close of these papers. We will discerning, and her generosity in the full therefore do no more at present than admission of what she recognized. Miss touch upon the question of Versification Barrett thus continues :
with reference chiefly to Miss Barrett,
and incidentally to the Laureate and one His passion burns the paper. But I will guess or two other poets, commencing, of neat the worst fault - at least, I will tell you what cessity with Chaucer. has always seemed to me the worst fault -a
It has been seen that Miss Barrett was want of harmony. I mean in the two senses — spiritual and physical. There is a want of
fla true admirer and student of the Father softening power in thoughts and in'feelings, as of English Poetry; but from the influwell as words ; everything is trenchant - black ence of early habit, it seems probable and white, without intermediate colours — that his admirable variations of the eunothing is tender ; there is little room in all phony of heroic couplets, so as to correct this passion, for pathos. And the verse — the monotony of their ten-syllable reguthe lyrics — where is the ear? Inspired spirits larity, and systematic pauses, were not should not speak so harshly; and, in good especially noticed by her, unless, in some sooth, they seldom do. What ? - from “Paracelsus" down to the “ Bells and Pome
cases, as objectionable. The method granates" – a whole band of angels - white
adopted by Chaucer to obtain variety of robed and crowned angel-thoughts, with palms
harmony in this measure was not, howin their hands — and no music!
ever, so much with respect to the position
of pauses and accents in the line, as in The too sweeping assertion of the last the rhythmical embodiment of an eleventh words I distinctly remember contesting syllable. He also, on special occasions, in my next note. Admitting all the fair breaks up the couplet-system, by ending critic had said as to the frequent obscuri- a poetical paragraph with the first word of ties of meaning, and involutions, or the rhyme and a full stop. And then harshness of style, I reminded her that takes it up again, with its proper rhyme almost any schoolboy — without select- in the first line of the next poetical diviing Lord Macaulay's model one — who sion or paragraph. Two or three examhad some natural faculty and a good ples of the former will make the pripcischolastic drilling, could write “smooth ple clear enough :verses," and where this was not done by He mote be dedde - a king as well as a page, those who were evidently masters of the
&c.— The Knight's Tale. Art of Poetry, there was a reason for it. Nobody should regard it as attributable I speake of many an hundred year ago, &c. to carelessness, or even indifference.
Wife of Bath's Tale. On the other hand, the lady was referred Thy temple in Delphos wol I barfote seke, &c. to several striking instances of rhythmic
The Frankelin's Tale. music, and particularly among the “ Bells | At Orliaunce in studie a booke he seie, &c. and Pomegranates." It was difficult to
Ibid. resist a dancing emotion as one read how all the children and townspeople
Where was your pitie, O people mercilesse, went dancing after the “ Pied Piper of
&c. - Lamentation of Mary Magdaleine. Hamelin," while every horseman must
Her nose directed straight, and even as line, have accompanied the riders in the ride
&c. - The Court of Love. with “the good news” to Ghent. I was with these, and similar variations, the so impressed with this at the time - and poems of Chaucer abound. Read in acnever having known what could be done cordance with the early training of most in that way, as I subsequently experi- of us, the reader will exclaim - " It won't enced in the Australian bush'- that I come in !" Of course it will not; but the remember asking the poet if he could foregoing lines will all be found perfectly “ tighten his girths while at full speed,” harmonious if the words which cause the as I had felt while doing this, with his difficulty are treated like a turn in music, poem, that I had more than once just lost so that they come “trippingly” off the my balance. In short, I only partially tongue. Thus, “as well as," being read agreed with the fair critic about the mu- as well's “many an," man'y'n, -"temsic. And this question directly brings ple in,” templ’in, -- "siudie a,” studi'a, us to Versification ; but, as the mere syn. 1—“pitie, 0 people," piti-’o-'-peopl,
“ even as,” ev'nas, &c. For such expla-, of her future Letters), I yet feel sure she nations, to all those who do not in the would have been highly gratified had she least need them, the writer begs to ten- known that her views on the Art of Eng. der every proper apology. The desire to lish Poetry had been so specially conmake this matter perfectly clear must be served for so many years, even in literary his excuse. These harmonious varia-entombment, with one of the most actions * were dropped by nearly all the complished and elegant of the illuminati poets during many years after Chaucer. (using the term in its best sense) of his
In lyrical verse, and more especially in time. the octo-syllabic measure, the first great
Kensington, November 24. innovator – not precisely the discoverer,
veier, MY DEAR HORNE, — I should have written but certainly the first great master -- was by return of póst, but had something to finish Coleridge. In the “Vision of Pierce by tea-time which I could not delay. Ploughman," in Lidgate's and several 'The English prosodists have generally proother old English and Scottish Ballads, ceeded, I believe, upon the assumption that similar musical variations occur, but ap- their heroic measure is a particular mode of parently without intention, and by happy iambics, with a variation of spondees, troinspiration, though not with the numer- chees, &c. I therefore, if I distinctly see the ous forms of variety introduced by Cole- dri
le drift of it, doubt whether your paragraph can ridge. It is said that he once exclaimed
stand exactly as it does; but it is impossible
for us now to exchange talk on this subject by with glee — “ They all think they are
letter, and as I am coming to Montague Street, reading eight syllables, and every now to-morrow (Wednesday), would it not be as and then they read nine, eleven, and thir- well for us to have our Bosterisms out at once teen, without being aware of it."
vivå voce ? For then, you see, we can have as But to take a general and broad view of many as we please in a good long chat, and so English versification, I find the following do what we can with this perplexing matter Letters from Leigh Hunt carefully fas- I finally ; for in truth, it is a very perplexing tened to the Letter from Miss Barrett one, and has scratched the fingers of everybody upon the same subjeet. Although they
ugh they that has approached it. I will also bring you bear no date of the year upon them, the
another book, expressly on the subject — at
least comprising it. allusions show that they were written The Ancient Mariner" did much, no mainly in comment, with a mild infusion doubt, in the poetical circles in which it was of controversy, on a certain paragraph in almost exclusively known (How sad is this my Introduction to the volume of “Chau- record of neglect of living genius, which thus cer Modernized," and also in reply to incidentally drops from the pen of one of the some comments I had made upon the poet's contemporaries ! ], and Coleridge, I versification of his “ Legend of Fiorence.” | should say, is unquestionably the great modDiffering with Mr. Leigh Hunt so widelyern master of lyrical harmony. But what the on certain points of theology and social
socia Percy Reliques achieved in the gross, was a
general simplification of the poetic style, and ethics as did Miss Barrett (which will be
the return to faith in nature and passion. displayed fully and “argued out” in one we will
We will have a good set-to upon these mat
ters to-morrow, if you think fit; and you shall * As a somewhat extreme illustration, I hope the have, in the course of a good plump half-hour, following anecdote will be pardoned. "I notice," said all I have to Tennyson (this was long before he became Poet Lau
Ever heartily, reate), "that you have a number of lines in Orion' which are not amenable to the usual scanning."
LEIGH HUNT. ** True ; but they can all be scanned by the same number of beats of ume.” “Well; how then do you scan Unfortunately, something prevented - mind, I don't object to it — but how do you scan — the proposed conversation, but here is The long, grey, horizontal wall of the dead-calm sea?” another note on the same subject writNow, as this was the only instance of such a line, the ten during the same month :engineer fancied he was about to be " hoist with his own petard;" however, he proposed to do it thus
Kensington, November. I ne | long / grey | hori | zonel | wall lu' the | dead || MY DEAR HORNE, — This is merely one or calm sea.
two more marginalia which, on recollection, I It could easily be put into an Alexandrine line: and,
: intended to have scribbled. The fact is, that by a different arrangement of the beats of time, the line might even be brought into eight beats:
as to “spectacle” [to which, apparently, I Thě | lõng / grey / horizont'l / wāll-o' the dead-calm had demurred, as being too harsh a word in a sea.
certain line] it is "harsh," uttered by a harsh The poet smiled, and apparently accepted the scanning man ; but what if Chaucer had said it, thou - at any rate, the first one. Some of the variations, Horne! To this I suppose you will say, “ Im. however, subsequently introduced by Leigh Hunt in his possible." Well, but suppose you find it in beautiful play of “The Legend of Florence," would have to be tried, like those of Beaumont and Fletcher, him some day? or something equivalent ? by yet more unorthodox principles oi harmony.
[The logic of this is exquisite, and so like Leigh Hunt in a case of friendly controversy, l The “ Experiments” (in versification) where the shades of the earnest and the hu-published by the Laureate at the end of morous continually ran into each other.]
the volume containing “ Enoch Arden" This is nothing. But now as to
and “ Aylmer's Field," should be studied The poet now refers to several very by all wino take an interest in the progress remarkable lines in his “Legend of Flor- of English poetry in these respects. The ence," but this examination must be de experiment entitled “ Boädicéa” will be ferred for the reasons previously given. regarded as a success after a second
To come at once to our own time. reading, and the poem on “Milton” (in The peculiar variety which we have been alcaics) at once. Someliow, it seems to discussing scarcely ever occurs in any of be precisely the right kind of measure to Miss B.arrett's earlier poems; but latterly adopt with regard to Milton. The “ Henit is to be found:
decasvllabics,” will require more read
ings than may be consonant with an adOr, as noon and night Had clapped together, and utterly struck out
mission of success in a metre of Catullus. The intermediate time, undoing themselves
Still, there are some lines which at least In the act. Aurora Leigh. Book III. render the cause quite hopeful. Canon
Kingsley's “ Andromeda " is also a merBe sure 'tis better than what you work to get.
The variations derived from the octoSo, happy and unafraid of solitude, &c.—Ibid. syllabic measure of the old Ballads, as Except in fable and figure: forests chant, &c.
brought to perfection by Coieridge, and Ibid.
carried, into other perfections, I submit, To a pure white line of flame more luminous
by Tennyson, and lastly by Swinburne,
have now been, more or less, adopted by Because of obliteration, more intense The intimate presence carrying in itself.
lyrical poets in general,— by some as Ibid., Book IX.
conscious students and followers, by
others from the almost unconscious inIt is possible that some readers may fluence which leading spirits invariably not have been prepared for this ; and exercise upon contemporaries of less still less for the same Chaucerian varia-originality and power. In the variation tion (which many persons may have fan- upon the octo-syllabic measure we may cied rough, and antiquated, merely from observe several who have been very suchaving been trained to a regular syllabiccessful, more especially among poetesses mode of reading) to be found continually, - sro:n Jean Inyelow, * Sadie," and Miss and, of course, gracefully, adopted by the Rossetti, to the last graceful appearances Laureate. Here are three or four illus- in the lyrical forın, of Jeanie Morison trations taken quite at random, or quite (Mrs. Campbell, of Ballochyle), and Mrs. as much so as usual with such takings: - Emily Pfeiffer. He crept into the shadow : at last he said, &c. In the previous instalment of these
Enoch. Arden. papers it was remarked that all young How merry they are down yonder in the wood,
poets bave commenced their songs in a &c. — Ibid.
bird-like manner. They have scarcely
ever had any more thought of the classiHad rioted his life out, and made an end. Ical terms and technicalities, and the va
rious laws of the Art, than the bird on Strike thro’a finer element than her own ? the bough, who “ warbles away," with no
Which rolling o'er the palaces of the proud,
“And eating hòary grain and pulse, the steeds &c. — Ibid.
Stood by their cars, waiting the thronéd morn." And oxen from the city and goodly sheep, &c.
The first is of the usual sort, and has nothing of the
close truth of the description of the dry mealy corn, Trans. Iliad.
together with the green herbage. A so the word
"chariots" instead of cars," has lost us the grand Sat glorying ; many a fire before them blazed.
suggestion of the embattled host looking upward to Eos Ibid. *
on her Throne, an hour or so afterwards! The very
same kind of error is committed by Mr. Gladstone, • In the above specimen of a translation from the who prefers giving the common-place "sharr-tipped Iliad - truly a model for all future translators -- those
lance," to the orginal “coʻper-'igped.” (See Con. who like to have as close a translation of a great poet's Rev., Feb., 1874.) For what poss.bie reason, of a words as can be poetically given, will feel surprised at good kind, should we not have that piece of insight into the Laureate's preference for —
the arms and armourer's work of the Homeric age? “And champing golden grain, the horses stood
Besides, the very fact of the lances being tipped with
copper, will account for many a man's life being saved Hard by their chariots, waiting for the dawn,"
by the point turning before it had passed through his instead of his more literal —
shield or breast-plates.
idea of such things as crotchets and and which we will subsequently tranquavers, appoggiaturas and the nach- scribe) will be understood by the followschlag – the trochaic or the iambicing interesting episode in ihe author's rhythm — the dactylic, anapæstic, or am- private history: pliibrachic rhythm. The illustration is of “Mr. Landor went to Paris in the becourse only figurative, and rather one-ginning of the century, where he witsided, but true in spirit. The poetesses nessed the ceremony of Napoleon being who have appeared during the last few made Consul for life, amidst the acclayears — commencing with Jean Ingelow, mations of multitudes. He subsequently and closing for the present) with Jeanie saw the dethroned and deserted EmMorison and Mrs. Emily Pfeiffer, are all peror pass through Tours, on his way to instances of this, more especially the two embark, as he intended, for America. last-named ladies, who run most grace- Napoleon was attended only by a single fully into several melodious measures, as servant, and descended at the Prefecture, by a spontaneous impulse. But while we unrecognized by anybody excepting Lanare admiring this simplicity and artless dor. The people of Tours were most eise, we must be yet more impressed hostile to Napoleon ; as a republican with the force of poetical idiosyncrasy i politician, Landor had always felt a which shall enable those who have passed hatred towards him, and now he had but through the curriculum of studies for the to point one finger at bim, and it would Art, with all its laws and technicalities have done what all the musquetry, artil- like Canon Kingsley, Robert Bu-lery and 'infernal machines' of twenty chanan, and George MacDonald — to years of wars and passions had failed to return to nature and first principles do. The tigers of the populace would in the charming and bird-like freedom of bave torn him to pieces. Need it be their Songs for Children - thus happily said that Landor was too noble a man to superseding the horrid barefaced de-avail himself of such an opportunity. pravities and vulgar doggrels of the very He held his breath, and let the hero pass. great majority of our early Nursery Songs Possibly this hatred on the part of Lanand Rhymes.
|dor, like that of many other excessively It has been previously stated in these self-willed men, was as much owing to papers, that the work entitled “ A New exasperation at the commanding sucSpirit of the Age” — being critiques on cesses of Napoleon, as at his falling off the writings of contemporaries in 1844 — | from pure republican principles. Howwas edited, and partly written, by the beit, Landor's great hatred, and yet transcriber of these Letters ; and that he greater' forbearance are hereby rewas assisted by the contributions of corded.” three or four eminent authors. The prin- The remark having been made by me cipal, and most valuable of these, was that, as a general rule, the originality of Miss E. B. Barrett. One of the critiques, a man - say and do what he may — is and certainly one of the best, was mainly necessarily in itself an argument and written by that lady. It was forwarded reason against his rapid popularity, Miss in two Letters, which were carefully Barrett's Letter proceeds as follows: transcribed. As the second edition of the work has been out of print these i In the case of Mr. Landor, however, other thirty years in England (though I am causes than the originality of his faculty opaware that at least three "unauthorized” posed his favour with the public. He has editions were subsequently printed in [the date of this letter is 1844, Landor being America), I venture to think the readers
lihen alive] the must select audience, perhaps
- the fittest, the fewest — of any distinguished of the present day will not be indisposed
author of the day ; and this of his choice. to welcome a few extracts from Miss « Give me" he said in one of his prefaces. Barrett's Letters containing her contribu
“ten accomplished men for readers, and I am tions,- now for the first time acknowl content.” And the event does not by any edged,- and in especial those just al-means, so far as we could desire, outstrip the luded to, which are almost exclusively modesty, or despair, or disdain, of this aspiradevoted to a review of the writings of tion. Walter Savage Landor.
It was preceded by a few biographical In reply to an adverse criticism in a and other remarks, founded upon com- certain quarterly journal, he offered the munications forwarded to me by Mr. critic “three hot penny rolls ” for his Landor. The spirit of a Greek epigram luncheon, if he could write anything as written by him on Napoleon the First good. This was not exactly the way to