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we shou'd be jealous of our selves for being fond of Similes, Conceits, and what they call faying Fine Things. When we were in the North, my Lord Wharton shew'd me a Letter he had receiv'd from a certain great * General in Spain ;
I told him. I wou'd by all means have that General recalld, and set 10 writing here at home'; for it was impossible that a Man with so much Wit-as he shew'd, cou'd be fit to command an Army, or do any other Business. As for what you say of Expresfion ; 'tis indeed the same thing to Wit, as Dress is to Beauty. I have seen many Women overdrest, and several look better in a carelefs Nightgown, with their hair about their ears, than Made... moiselle Spanheim drest for a Ball. I do not design to be in London till towards the Parliament ; then I shall certainly be there; and hope by that time you will have finish'd your Pastorals as you would have them appear in the world, and particularly the third of Autumn which I have not yet seen.. Your laft Eclogue being upon the fame Subject as that of mine on Mrs. Tempest's Death, I should take it very kindly in you to give it a little turn, as if it were to the Memory of the fame Lady, if they were not written for some particular Woman whom you wou'd make immortal. You may take occasion to shew the difference between Poets Mistrefies, and other Men's. I only hint this, which you may either do, or let alone, just as you think fit. I shall be very much pleased to see you again in Town, and to hear from you in the mean time. I am with very much esteem,
* Ike Earl of P:
Mr. Pope to Mr. Walsh.
Octob. 22, 1706.. AF
Fter the Thoughts I have already sent you'on
on the subject of English Versification, you defire my opinion as to fome farther particulars. There are indead certain Niceties, which tho' not much obferved even by correct Versifiers; I cannot but think deserve to be better regarded.
1. It is not enough that nothing offends the Ear, but a good Poet will adapt the very Sounds, as well as Words, to the things he treats of. So that there is (if: one may express it fo), a Style of Sound. As in describing a gliding Stream, the Numbers shou'd run easy and flowing ; in defcribing a rough Torrent or Deluge, sonorous and fwelling ; and fo of the rest.
This is evident every where in Homer and Virgil, and no whereelse that I know of to any observable degree. The following Examples will make this plaing which I have taken from Virgil:
Molle viam tacito lapfu per levia radit.
This, I think, is what very few observe in practice, and is undoubtedly of wonderful force in imprinting the Image on the reader. We have one excellent Example of it in our Language; Mr. Dryden's Ode on St. Cæcilia's Day, entitled, Alexander's Feaft..
2. Every nice Ear muft (I believe) have oba served, that . in any smooth English Verfe of ten fyllables there is naturally a Pause at the fourth, fifth, or fixth fyllable. It is upon these the Ear rests, and upon the judicious Change and Management of which depends the Variety of Vetfification. For example, At the fifth. Where-e'er thy Navy || Spreads her
canvas Wings. At the fourth. Homage to thee and Peace to all
she brings. At the sixth. Like Tracts of Leverets | in. Morning
Now I fancy, that to preserve an exact Harmony and Variety, the Pauses of the 4th or 5th shou'd not be continu'd above three lines together, without the Interpofition of another; else it will be apt to weary the Ear with 'one continu'd Tone, at least it does mine: That at the 6th. runs quicker, and carries not quite so dead a weight; so tires not so much, tho it be continued longer.
3.. Another nicety is in relation to Expletives, whether Words or Syllables, which are made' ufeof purely to supply a vacancy. Do before Verbs plural is absolutely fuch; and, it is not improbable but future Refiners may explode did andi does in the fame manner, which are almost always used for the sake of Rhime. The fame Cause has occafioned the promiscuous use of You ånd. Thou to the fame Perfon, which can never found fo: graceful as either one or the other.
4. I would also object to the Irruption of Alexandrine Verses of twelve syllables, which I. think should never be allow'd but when some rea markable Beauty or Propriety in them atones for
the Liberty. Mr. Dryden has been too free of these, especially in his latter Works. I am of the fame opinion as to Triple Rhimes.
5. I could equally object to the Repetition of the same
Rhimes within four or six lines of each other, as tiresome to the Earthrò' their
6. Monosyllable-Lines, unless very artfully managed, are stiff, or languishing; but may be beautiful to express Melancholy, Slowness, or Labour.
7. To come to the Hiatus, or Gap between two words which is caused by two Vowels opening on each other (upon which you desire me to be particular) I think the rule in this case is either to use the Cæfura, or admit the Hiatus, just as the Ear is least shock'd by either : For the Cæfurá sometimes offends the Ear more than the Hiatus itself, and our language is naturally overcharg'd with Consonants. As for example, if in this Verse,
The Old have Intrest in their Eye,
we should say, to avoid the Hiatus, But th Old have Int'reft ---
The Hiatus which has the worst effect, is when one word ends with the fame Vowel that begins the following; and next to this, those Vowels, whose sounds come nearest to each other, are most to be avoided. O, A, or U, will bear a more full and graceful Sound than E, I, or Y. I know some people will think these Observations trivial;
and therefore I am glad to corroborate them by some great Authorities, which I have met with in Tully and Quintilian. In the fourth Book of Rhetoric to Herennius, are these words : Fugiemus crebras Vocalium concurfiones, que vastam atque hiantem reddunt orationem , ut hoc est: Barcee enee ameniflimæ impendebant. And Quintilian l. 9. cap. 4. Vocalium concurfus cum accidit, hiat & interfiftit, & quasi laborat oratio. Pesima longè'; quæ easdem inter se literas committunt, fonabunt; præcipuus tamen erit hiatus earum, quæ cavo aut patulo ore efferuntur. E plenior litera eft, I angustior. But he goes on to reprove the excess on the other hand of being too sollicitous in this matter, and says admirably : Nefcio an negligentia in hoc, aut solicitudo fit pejor. So likewise Tully : (Orator ad Brut.) Theopompum reprehendunt, quod eas literas tanto opere fugerit, etfi idem magister ejus Ifocrates : which laft Author, as Turnebus and Quintilian observe, has hardly one Hiatus in all his works. Quintilian tells us, that Tully and Domofthenes did not much observe this Nicety, tho' Tully, himself says in his Orator : Crebra ifta Vocum. concurso, quam magna ex parte vitiosam fugit Demofthenes. If I am not mistaken, Malherbe of all the Moderns has been the most scrupulous in this point; and I think Menage in his Observations upon him fays, he has not one in his Poems. To conclude, I believe the Hiatus should be avoided with more care in Poetry than in Oratory; and I would constantly try to prevent it, unless where the cutting it off is more prejudicial to the Sound, than the Hiatus itself. I am, &c.
Mr. Walsh died at: 49 Years old, in the Tear 1708, the Year after Mr. Pope writ the Eflay on Criticism, which he concludes with this Gentleman's Elogy.