Page images

But if the lines be of a measure shorter than the heroic, the continued rhimes suit not so well with grave, as with light subjects: as this,

His helmet was a beetle's head,
Most horrible and full of dread.
That able was to strike one dead,
Yet it did well become him:
And for a plume a horse's hair,
Which, being tossed by the air,
Had force to strike his foe with fear,

And turn his weapon from him.

Drayton's Court of Fairy.

In some burlesque poems may be found more than three lines rhiming together, but our serious versification admits of no such licence.


By cesura, or pause, is meant the rest which the voice makes in pronouncing a verse, especially of many syllables. It has been said of the pause" that it remained, till later times unnoticed:" but in fact, one of the earliest writers on English versification (Gascoigne) expressly mentions it, and gives these rules concerning it. "In mine opinion, in a verse of eight syllables, the pause will stand best in the midst; in a verse of ten, it will best be placed at the end of the first four syllables, in a verse of twelve in the midst; in verses of twelve in the first and fourteen in the second, we place the pause commonly in the midst of the first, and at the end of the first eight syllables in the second. In rhime royal it is at the writer's discretion."


From hence it appears that this

ancient English critic and poet had not only noticed the cesura, or pause, but also had pointed out in general where it might best stand, and the variety of place which it admitted. To what he has said we shall add something respecting the iambic verses of ten and twelve syllables: i. e. the heroic and alexandrine.

In the heroic verse, if taken singly, the pause will be most grateful to the ear, when at the middle, or near it; viz. at the fifth, fourth, or sixth syllable: so likewise in a couplet; and so generally in poems of that sort, i. e. in couplets and rhime: but, for the sake of variety, it may be put at any syllable, from the first to the ninth. Pope, so eminent for the smoothness and regularity of his verse, admits a pause upon each; for example, on the first.

racter of W. Browne's poetry, but also as a proof that before Waller began to compose there existed examples of English versification, not inferior in smoothness to the most polished of his.

To his friend, Mr. Browne.

All that do read thy works and see thy face

(Where scarce a hair grows up thy chin to grace)

Do greatly wonder how so youthful years

Could frame a work where so much worth appears :
To hear how thou describ'st a tree, a dale,

A grove, a green, a solitary vale,

The evening showers, and the morning gleams,

The golden mountains, and the silver streams;

How smooth thy verse is, and how sweet thy rhimes,
How sage, and yet how pleasant are thy lines,

What more or less can there be said by men,

But Muses rule thy hand, and guide thy pen?

The Author, Thomas Wenman; about the year 1613. The sonnet at p. 31, is another instance of smoothness before Waller's time.

George Gascoigne's Instructions concerning Verse, &c. ; edited by Haslewood, § 13. Rhime royal is the stanza of seven heroic lines rhiming after a certain rule: thus...


Strange! by the means defeated of the ends:

and, to omit others, on the ninth,

But an inferior not dependant, worse.-Moral Essays, Epist. 2.

But his most usual and favourite pause was on the fourth, as in these lines.

That chang'd through all, and yet in all the same,

Great in the earth, as in the ethereal frame,

Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,

Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,

Lives through all life, extends through all extent,

Spreads undivided, operates unspent-Essay on Man, Epist. 1.

These lines have been praised and censured upon the same account, namely, the pause. The censure was that they wanted variety because of the repetition of the pause upon the same syllable, in every line, the last only excepted. On the contrary it was said, that this repetition gave to the lines a good and proper effect. Without deciding any thing here, we shall apprize the reader that in this same poem, and likewise in others of Pope, above half the lines have the pause at the fourth syllable, which we consider as too frequent a recurrence.

The heroic line admits of more than one pause, especially if it occurs near the beginning or the end; as in this,

Die, and endow a college, or a cat.

For the place, or number of these pauses there is no rule. But it is a rule, observed by careful versifiers, that, in general, there should be some pause at the end of each couplet. It is a fault to terminate the couplet in the middle of a sentence, as here,

He spoke; the heavens seem'd decently to bow,

With all their bright inhabitants; and now

The jocund spheres began again to play,

Again each spirit sung Halleluia:

Only that angel was straight gone: even so

(But not so swift) the morning glories flow

At once from the bright sun, and strike the ground:

So winged lightning the soft air doth wound.

Cowley's David, Book 1.

A principal reason why this construction of the couplet is faulty, is, that, for want of a pause, the rhime is nearly lost: it does not dwell upon the ear to produce that effect which is the purpose of making rhime. This fault, which since the time of Pope had almost disappeared from our poetry, seems to be returning at the present day. In the last century it was seldom admitted, but by those who valued themselves upon the rough structure of their verse. Such was Churchill; and the following is one instance of many in his satires.

By Him that made me, I am much more proud,

More inly satisfied, to have a crowd

Point at me as I pass, and cry-"That's He--
A poor, but honest bard, who dares be free

Amidst corruption," than to have a train

Of flickering levee-slaves, to make me vain

Of things I ought to blush for; to run, fly,

And live but in the motion of my eye.-Churchill. Independence.

Another fault respecting the cesura is made, when the line is so constructed that the sense does not terminate where the pause falls; i. e. the measure requires a pause, and the sense would reject it, as in these,

Is the great chain that draws | all to agree.-Pope's Essay on Man, Ep. 1.
And from about her shot | darts of desire.—Milton's Paradise Lost.

If, in pronouncing either of these lines, the pause were to be made where

the sense requires it, the iambic measure would be changed for another of a very different character, viz. the dactylic, ex. gr.

Is the great cháin that draws | áll to agree.

This forced pause therefore, though countenanced by such high authorities, is hardly within the bounds of poetical licence.

For the alexandrine verse it has been laid down as a rule, without any exception, that the pause must be at the sixth syllable. That certainly is the best place; but it may stand at the seventh without impairing the measure, if the next syllable be strongly accented: examples,

And Cupid's self about her flutter'd all in green.-Spencer's Fairy Queen.
From out his secret altar | touch'd with hallow'd fire.

Milton's Christ's Nativity.

But, if that syllable (the eighth) be not accented, the measure will suffer in some degree; as,

And birds of calm sit brooding | on the charmed wave.—Milton, ibid.
Swindges the scaly horror of his folded tail.—Ibid.

On any other syllable of the alexandrine verse, except these two, the pause is not to be endured; as from a few instances will be evident.

She strikes an universal peace | through sea and land.
Than his bright throne or burning axletree could bear.
Make up full consort | to the angelic symphony.

The dreadful Judge | in middle air | shall spread his throne.
Isis and Orus | and the dog Anubis | haste.—Milton, ibid.

In every one of these lines the character of the alexandrine is destroyed. Instead of its "long majestic march," we have only hobbling verses with broken measure.

The cesura, besides giving variety to the numbers, is sometimes introduced to give expression to the sentiment. Under this head it may be sufficient, for the present, to observe, that, when placed at the fourth syllable, it is suitable to what is brisk and sprightly; when at the sixth, to that which is more grave and dignified.


SLOW roll-swift fleet-the years. How heavily
The hours, leaden-paced, drag on the day's dull chain
From grey morn till the glowing western main
Receive the weary sun-god from the sky!
-And yet the seasons vanish. Infancy,
Childhood, and youth are melted, as the stain
Of breath, that dimming the bright air, again
Fades in the resolution of a sigh.

-Now manhood STAYS:-nay goes!-Now wiser Hope

Leads justlier measured toils to issues meet:

Tasks of ripe strength,-births of the thoughtful head.
Now the tried spirit eyes the well-chosen scope
Toward which she onward strains untiring feet:

-And see!--that glance of lightning, LIFE,-has fled.





The pleasant summer-time is come,
I hear the sweet cuckoo,

The corn is growing green and long,
The lamb bleats by the ewe;
The grasshopper sings for the sun,
The cricket sings for heat,

But when ye hear the cuckoo's song,
Be sure the season's sweet.


The throstle sings not till the light,
The lark not till the dawn,
The linnet when the pear-trees bud,
And woman sings for man :-
They sing but to be heard or seen
In bower or budding bough,
Sae sings nae my meek modest bird,
The gray unseen cuckoo.



THIS is certainly a most extraordinary book. Or perhaps we should rather say, that the writer is a most extraordinary person. His title-page does not explain half his merits, a fault of modesty not very usual with travellers. From the gulph of Finland to the Peninsula of Kamtchatka, a longitudinal extent of 135°, was but half his peregrination. He set out from Dieppe, in the year of our Lord 1820, and arrived at Ostrovnoi, a village in the most northern part of Siberia, about 20° from the north-east coast of America, before the end of the eleventh month, having thus performed a tour of nearly half the terrene globe! We

think it is Puck who promises to 66 put a girdle round the earth," but this, it would appear, is no great feat for a fairy: had Captain Cochrane had the power of spinning a thread from his own body, like a spider, he, though a mere mortal of sizeable dimensions, and without wings (for aught we know to the contrary), might have actually done half at least what the ouphe only promised to do. But even the latter statement of our author's performance does him very inadequate justice: to give the reader some idea of its real magnitude, we will exhibit an outline of the journey in as few words as possible. From Dieppe,

* Narrative of a Pedestrian Journey through Russia and Siberian Tartary, from the Frontiers of China to the Frozen Sea and Kamtchatka; performed during the Years 1820, 1821, 1822, and 1823, by Captain John Dundas Cochrane, R.N. Murray, London, 1824.

through Paris, Berlin, Petersburgh, and Moscow, he penetrated to Tobolsk, the capital of Western Siberia. From thence he directed his course southward to Ubinsk, on the borders of China; and from thence again, inclining northwards, to Irkutsk on the Baikal Lake, about the middle of Asia. From Irkutsk he passed along the river Lena through Yuketsk and Lashiversk to the Frozen Ocean, near Shelatskoi Noss, the interval between which and Cape North (about 50) is the only coast of the old world which has never yet been traversed. This, as we have said before, is near the extremity of Asia, approaching the New Continent. From the Frozen Ocean our pedestrian again turning his back upon the North Pole, travelled downwards to Okotsk, and crossing the gulf of that name, visited Kamtchatka. After having surveyed the whole length of this peninsula, he again crossed to Okotsk, and passing a second time through Irkutsk, (from which latter town he makes a retrograde movement upon the Chinese territory,) he returned throughTobolsk and Moscow to Petersburgh, exactly three years and three weeks from the time he had been there before. Our readers have only to look at their maps to acknowledge the extraordinary length of this journey, the greater part of which was performed on foot, through a wilderness of snow. They may, perhaps, be tempted to inquire of us the motive which prompted this extensive undertaking. Was it business or science ?-No; the author is a captain in the royal navy, and for science, he professes his utter ignorance of it. Were the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty at the bottom of the business? Or the Missionary Society? Or the Royal Society?-No; none of them. Was it love? the reader will ask, in despair of conjecturing a more reasonable motive, and well knowing the immoderate lengths to which that passion will carry us? To this query (improbable as it might seem) we are not equally prepared to return the simple negative, inasmuch as it appears that our author was really "netted" (as he himself declares) in Kamtchatka! But it is more than likely that even here we JULY, 1824.

might have ventured a denial, our author's lady never having visited England till after his marriage with her, being in fact a native Kamtchatdale. The book itself indeed supplies an answer to this riddle to which we cannot but allow some plausibility; we beg leave to give it literatim :-(speaking of his departure from Petersburg,) "The night was beautifully clear, though rather cold from the effects of a northern breeze; while the moon was near her full. I looked at the beautiful luminary, and actually asked myself whether I were, as had been asserted, under the baneful influence of that planet." Captain Cochrane is, however, as well as we can judge, as far perhaps from a genuine madman, as any of those who call him so; he is certainly a little eccentric in his disposition, and this, probably combined with a jot of vanity, in being the first to accomplish such an adventurous journey, really might have developed itself in a promenade of fifteen thousand miles, or so, without any external inducement. However this may be, he is at least a man of an inextinguishable thirst for experimental knowledge, and of an incorrigible propensity towards locomotion, in proof of which his own words may stand: "After such a journey I might be supposed cured of the spirit of travelling, at least in so eccentric a way; yet the supposition is far from the fact, for as I am conscious that I never was so happy as in the wilds of Tartary, so have I never been so anxious to enter a similar field as at this moment."

Except as a biographical curiosity, however, the Narrative can scarcely be considered either profitable or amusing to the reader. Those who are very inquisitive, or those who look with an eye of science towards farther discoveries in the yet partially-known regions of the north, those also who are at the head of governments, (especially the Autocrat of the regions themselves,) might peruse this volume, and derive from it some instruction; but to the general reader, from the uniformity of its details, and their insignificance, it would after a few pages become tedious and oppressive. This, we are aware, is more chargeable upon


« PreviousContinue »