Obrázky na stránke

“Divine Andate," and which seem to corroborate the theory on the employment of monosyllables by Shakspeare, when he wished to express violent and overwhelming emotion; at least they appear to be used much in the same way by these celebrated dramatists :

Give us this day good hearts, good enemies,
Good blows on both sides, wounds that fear or flight
Can claim no share in; steel us both with anger,
And warlike executions fit thy viewing.
Let Rome put on her best strength, and thy Britain,
Thy little Britain, but as great in fortune,
Meet her as strong as she, as proud, as daring !
And then look on, thou red-eyed God; who does best,
Reward with honour; who despair makes fly,
Unarm for ever, and brand with infamy!

This passage contains one hundred and twenty-six words, one hundred and ten of which are monosyllables, and the remainder words of only two syllables.

New light new love, new love new life hath bred;

A life that lives by love, and loves by light;
A love to Him to whom all loves are wed;

A light to whom the sun is darkest night:
Eye's light, heart's love, soul's only life He is;

Life, soul, love, heart, light, eye, and all are His;
He eye, light, heart, love, soul; He all my joy and bliss.

Phineas Fletcher's Purple Island, Canto I. Stanza 7.

In seventy words only one of more than a syllable; the alliteration in the second line is likewise noticeable.

In the following passage in Churchill, the structure of the second couplet must surely have been suggested by Pope's line :

Conjunction, adverb, preposition, join
To add new vigour to the nervous line :-
In monosyllables his thunders roll,
He, she, it, and, we, ye, they, fright the soul.

Censure on Mossop.

Moore, in his Journals, notes, on the other side of the question, a conversation between Rogers, Crowe, and himself, "on the beauty of monosyllabic verses. He jests at scars,' &c.; the couplet, 'Sigh on my lip,' &c.; 'Give all thou canst,' &c. &c., and many others, the most vigorous and musical, perhaps, of any." (Lord John Russell's Moore, vol. ii. p. 200.)

The frequency of monosyllabic lines in English poetry will hardly be wondered at, however it may be open to such criticisms as Pope's and Churchill's, when it is noted that our language contains, of monosyllables formed by the vowel a alone, considerably more than five hundred; by the vowel e, about four hundred and fifty; by the vowel i, nearly four hnndred; by the vowel o, rather more than four hundred; and by the vowel ug upwards of two hundred and sixty; a calculation entirely exclusive of the large number of monosyllables formed by diphthongs.

The ingenuity of Pope's line is great, but the criticism false. We applaud it only because we have never taken the trouble to think about the matter, and take it for granted that all monosyllabic lines must “creep” like that which he puts forward as a specimen. The very frequency of monosyllables in the compositions of our language is one grand cause of that frequency passing uncommented upon by the general reader. The investigation prompted by the criticism will serve only to show its unsoundness.


The often-quoted lines

For he that fights and runs away
May live to fight another day,

generally supposed to form a part of Hudibras, are to be found (as Mr. Cunningham points out at p. 602 of his Handbook for London), in the Musarum Deliciæ, 12mo. 1656; a clever collection of "witty trifles," by Sir John Mennis and Dr. James Smith.


The passage, as it really stands in Hudibras (book iii. canto iii. verse 243), is as follows:

For those that fly may fight again,
Which he can never do that's slain.

But there is a much earlier authority for these lines than the Musarum Deliciæ ; a fact which I learn from a volume now open before me, the great rarity of which will excuse my transcribing the title-page in full :

Apophthegmes, that is to saie, prompte, quicke, wittie, and sentencious saiynges, of certain Emperours, Kynges, Capitaines, Philosophiers, and Oratours, as well Grekes as Romaines, bothe veraye pleasaunt and profitable to reade, partely for all maner of persones, and especially Gentlemen. First gathered and compiled in Latine by the right famous clerke, Maister Erasmus, of Roteradame. And now translated into Englyshe by Nicolas Udall. Excu sam typis Ricardi Grafton, 1542. 8vo.

The work consists of only two books of the original, comprising the apophthegms of Socrates, Aristippus, Diogenes, Philippus, Alexander, Antigonus, Augustus Cæsar, Julius Cæsar, Pompey, Phocion, Cicero, and Demosthenes.

On folio 239, occurs the following apophthegm, which is the one relating to the subject before us :

That same man, that renneth awaie,

Maie again fight, an other daie. | Judgeyng that it is more for the benefite of one's countree to renne awaie in battaile, then to lese his life. For a ded man can fight no more; but who hath saved hymself alive, by rennyng awaie, may, in many battailles mo, doe good service to his countree.

§ At lest wise, if it be a poinct of good service, to renne awaie at all times, when the countree hath most neede of his helpe to sticke to it.

Menage observes, in speaking of Monsieur Perier's abuse of Horace for running away from the battle of Philippi, “Relictå non bene parmula," "Mais je le pardonne, parce qu'il ne sait peut-être pas que les Grecs ont dit en faveur des Fuiars."

'Ανήρ ο φεύγων και πάλιν μαχήσεται.

Menagiana, vol. i. p. 248. Amst. 1713.

Perhaps Erasmus translated this “ apophthegme."

The following extract from Collet's The Relics of Literature, published in 1820, may prove interesting, as further illustrating the disputed passage :

Few popular quotations have more engaged the pens of critics than the following:

For he that fights and runs away

Will live to fight another day. These lines are almost universally supposed to form a part of Hudibras; and, so confident have even scholars been on the subject, that in 1784 a wager was made at Bootle's, of twenty to one, that they were to be found in that inimitable poem. Dodsley was referred to as the arbitrator, when he ridiculed the idea of consulting him on the subject, saying, “ Every fool knows they are in Hudibras.George Selwyn, who was present, said to Dodsley, " Pray, sir, will you be good enough, then, to inform an old fool, who is at the same time

your wise worship’s very humble servant, in what canto they are to be found ? Dodsley took down the volume, but he could not find the passage; the next day came, with no better success; and the sage bibliopole was obliged to confess, “ that a man might be ignorant of the author of this well-known couplet without being absolutely a fool.”



As a writer of dedications Samuel Johnson was the giant of his time. He once said to Boswell, the subject arising at a dinner-party,“ Why, I have dedicated to the royal family all round," -and the honest chronicler proves that he spoke advisedly.


Many readers have heard of books bought and sold by weight -in fact it is questionable whether the number of books sold in that way is not greater than those sold " over the counter "_but few have probably heard of books sold "by the yard.” Having

purchased at St. Petersburg, the library left by an old Russian nobleman of high rank, I was quite astonished to find a copy of Euvres de Frederick II., originally published in 15 vols., divided into 60, to each of which a new titlë had been printed; and several hundred volumes lettered outside Euvres de Miss Burney, Euvres de Swift, &c., but containing, in fact, all sorts of French waste paper books. These, as well as three editions of Euvres de Voltaire, were all very neatly bound in calf, gilt, and with red morocco backs. My curiosity being aroused, I inquired into the origin of these circumstances, and learnt that during the reign of Catharine, every courtier who had hopes of being honored by a visit from the Empress, was expected to have a library, the greater or smaller extent of which was to be regulated by the fortune of its possessor, and that, after Voltaire had won the favor of the Autocrat by his servile flattery, one or two copies of his works were considered indispensable. Every courtier was thus forced to have a room fitted up with mahogany shelves, and filled with books, by far the greater number of which he never read or even opened. A bookseller of the name of Klostermann, who, being of an athletic stature, was one of the innumerable favorites of the lady, “who loved all things save her lord," was usually employed, not to select a library, but to fill a certain given space of so many yards, with books, at so much per volume, and Mr. Klostermann, the “Libraire de la Cour Imperiale," died worth a plum, having sold many thousand yards of books (among which I understood there were several hundred copies of Voltaire), at from 50 to 100 roubles a yard, “according to the binding."


The following epitaph is stated to be in a churchyard in Germany. The first two lines, and many similar specimens of learned trifling, will be found in Les Bigarrures et Touches du Seigneur des Accords, cap. iii., autre Façon de Rebus, p. 35, ed. 1662.

« PredošláPokračovať »