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recommend more use of the colon than is now common, and take no account of inverted commas for quotation-marks, or of other occasional points that have been found convenient. Milton's neglect of points in his MSS., therefore, was not the mere custom of his time; it was the voluntary carelessness in this matter of a man peculiarly accurate and punctilious in his syntax and rhythms.

Of course, he intended that, when his drafts were published, the pointing should be set right by the printer, or by the printer and himself together. What, then, of the pointing of his Minor Poems in the First or 1645 edition, as published by Moseley? The printer of that volume was Ruth Raworth; but Milton himself, if not Moseley too, must be supposed to have revised the sheets as they came from that lady's printing-office, and so to be responsible for the pointing. The best that can be said for it is that it is passable. It is such that one can read without discomfort; and in the Latin Poems, as one would naturally expect, Milton's care in the revision seems to have distinctly included the pointing. Not unfrequently, however, in the English poems one comes upon passages where the pointing is by no means correct, and would not have been called correct at the time. from Arcades:

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My impression, from general recollection, is that the pointing in those of Milton's prose-pamphlets which were printed before he became blind is not, on the average, better than that of the First edition of his poems, and so that, during that whole period of Milton's literary life when he could see his publications through the press for himself, he gave but moderate attention to the particular of pointing, and left it very much to the readers in the divers printing-offices with which he had dealings. There were differences of skill in this matter in the printing-offices; and so some of the pamphlets were better pointed than others.

Milton's blindness was total in 1652; and from that time, if not for a year or two before, he was unable to revise the proofs of his publications for himself. Probably his English pamphlets published in those circumstances were not worse pointed than their predecessors had been; but I have noted in some of the Latin pamphlets gross errors of

pointing, marring even the sense, and indicating the absence even of such revision as Milton would have given had he been able. All the more fortunate, therefore, it was that Paradise Lost came into such good hands. Whether from the care bestowed on that poem by the printer Simmons, or through special precautions taken by Milton for the revision of the proofs under his own direction, the First or 1667 edition of Paradise Lost is by far the best printed of all Milton's books published in his life-time. The pointing is much better than that of the First edition of the Minor Poems, and, though on that system of compromise between clause-marks and pause-marks which may now be voted obsolete, is yet altogether a fair specimen of pointing after that system.

Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, printed at Milton's expense in 1671 by John Starkey, did not fare so well as Paradise Lost had fared in the hands of Simmons. The paper is thicker, and the type more widely-spaced; but the press-work is less careful, and the pointing much worse. Sometimes it is very bad. Thus, Par. Reg., II. 25 et seq.:"Then on the bank of Jordan, by a Creek:

Where winds with Reeds, and Osiers whisp'ring play
Plain Fishermen, no greater men them call,
Close in a Cottage low together got

Thir unexpected loss and plaints out breath'd.
Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Unlook'd for are we fall'n, our eyes beheld
Messiah certainly now come, so long
Expected of our Fathers; we have heard
His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth,
Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand,
The Kingdom shall to Israel be restor❜d :
Thus we rejoyc'd, but soon our joy is turn'd
Into perplexity and new amaze :

For whither is he gone, what accident

Hath rapt him from us? will he now retire
After appearance, and again prolong

Our expectation? God of Israel,

Send thy Messiah forth, the time is come;

Behold the Kings of the Earth how they oppress
Thy chosen, to what highth thir pow'r unjust
They have exalted, and behind them cast

All fear of thee, arise and vindicate

Thy Glory, free thy people from thir yoke,
But let us wait; thus far he hath perform'd,
Sent his Anointed, and to us reveal'd him,
By his great Prophet.'

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In the Second edition of Paradise Lost, in 1674, though the Ten Books of the First were divided into Twelve, and a few additional lines were inserted, the printers had the First for their copy, and followed its pointing. Likewise, in the Second edition of the Minor Poems, in 1673, the pointing of the First edition was, in the main, repeated. Several pieces, however, appeared in this Second edition that had not

appeared in the First. How were these pointed? Very poorly. Thus, Sonnet XIX. (numbered XVI. in that edition) :—

"Doth God exact day labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best

Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State

Is Kingly."

From this account of the punctuation of Milton's Poems in the extant MS. drafts of them, and in the original printed editions, it will be seen that it would be difficult to recover anything that could even presumably be called Milton's system of punctuation, and that, if we could recover it, the prize would be worth nothing. If he were alive now, the pointing of his Poems would be the last thing about them in which he would avow any personal interest, or even opinion. Yet, in some respects, a writer's pointing, or abstinence from pointing, is more characteristic, gives us a keener insight into his mental processes, than his spelling. Why, then, do not those who insist on the preservation of the spelling of the original editions of Milton's Poems insist also on the preservation of their pointing, with all its variations from good to passable, from passable to bad, and occasionally from bad back again to the sheer destitution of points favoured by most of his own MSS. ? For my part, I should find greater instruction, greater insight at least into the habits of defunct printing offices, in the variable punctuation of the old texts, positively bad as it often is, than in their reasonless flutterings round our present spellings of words, shown by deviations from them in one page and returns to them in another. There is head-work, clever or stupid, in the one variation; the other is mainly finger-work.


Although the terms of classical Prosody-Tambus, Trochee, Spondee, Dactyl, Anapast, Tribrach, &c.—may be applied to English verse effectively enough on the principle of taking accented syllables for longs and unaccented for shorts, there is a superior convenience in some respects in the mode of scanning English verse adopted by Dr. Latham in his work on the English Language. Let a stand for an accented syllable, and x for an unaccented one: then for the Iambus we have xa, for the Trochee ax, for the Spondee aa, for the Dactyl axx, for the Anapest xxa, for the Tribrach xxx, &c.; and we have the means. of constructing a formula which shall express the metre of any given line of English verse. Thus, instead of saying of the line "Dearly

bought the hidden treasure that it consists of four Trochees, or is Trochaic Dimeter or Trochaic Quaternarius, we may say that it is of the formula 4 ax; instead of saying of the line "The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold" that it consists of four Anapests, we may say that it is of the formula 4 xxa; and, instead of saying that a normal line of our ordinary blank verse consists of five Iambi, we can say that its formula is 5 xa. With the help of such additional symbols as + for a supernumerary syllable and for a syllable, or part of a foot, in defect, we can express the peculiarities for which the terms catalectic, hypercatalectic, &c., are used in classical Prosody. We shall employ this mode of notation, with some extensions, in what follows.

On the merest general survey of English Poetry in respect of its Verse-mechanism, one discerns two important features in which it contrasts with the Poetry of the Greeks and Latins, in addition to that feature of contrast which is the most obvious of all: viz. the liberty and frequency of Rhyme :-(1) English Verse is prevailingly Iambic, or of the xa metre. In Classical Poetry we have the Dactylic Hexameter for epic, narrative, and didactic purposes, the Iambic Trimeter or Iambic Senarius for the purposes of the Tragic Drama, and the same, with Trochaic and other licences and varied ranges of measure, for the purposes of Comedy; and these metres, with that variation of the first which consists of Elegiacs or alternate Hexameters and Pentameters, share the bulk of Greek and Latin Poetry among them, while other miscellaneous metres and combinations are used by the Greek and Latin lyrists. In English Verse, on the other hand, the xa metre is overwhelmingly the most frequent. Trochaic, Dactylic, and Anapæstic measures occur occasionally in our lyric poetry; but the Iambic is all but our metrical factotum. Nay, among Iambic measures, we have tended mainly to one in particular. Though a good deal of our best-known poetry from Chaucer till now is in Iambic Octosyllabics or the 4 xa formula, much more of it is in Iambic Decasyllabics or the 5 xa formula. In the form of our common blank verse, or in the older form of heroic rhyming couplets, we have made this 5 xa metre suit for the narrative and didactic purposes to which the Greeks and Latins appropriated the Dactylic Hexameter or 6 axx; we have made it suit also for the purposes of the Tragic Drama, for which they employed the Iambic Trimeter or 6 xa, and for the purposes of Comedy, for which they used that verse more laxly and with many licences; besides which, we use the same 5 xa largely for various purposes in rhyming stanzas. (2.) In what has just been said another fact is involved: to wit, that the English ear has not hitherto shown itself capable of sustaining easily or continuously verse of such length of line as the classic ear favoured. There are specimens in our older poetry of verse in 6 xa, or even longer measures; Tennyson in his Maud has introduced a rhyming variation of the Dactylic Hexameter, and elsewhere he has given us poems in 8 ax -; and there have been similar experiments by other recent English

poets. Still the fact remains that, while the Greeks and Romans liked 6 axx or 6 xa or yet longer measures, we do not generally, in continuous poetry, go beyond 5 xa. This also is a fact worth noting. How is it that, while on the Greek stage the tragic dialogue was in complete Iambic Trimeters, which to our reading are 6 xa, our English blank verse, used for the same dramatic purpose, and for other purposes besides, gives five Iambi willingly, but shrinks from a sixth?

How far Milton conformed to the customs of English Verse which he found established, and in what respects he innovated upon these, will appear best after a chronological view of his Poems in the matter of their versification:


Paraphrase on Psalm CXIV-Ordinary rhyming Heroics (Iambic Decasyllabics) or the 5 xa couplet; with one couplet 5 xa +.

Paraphrase on Psalm CXXXVI.-Ordinary rhyming Iambic Octosyllabics, or the 4 xa couplet; with a general Trochaic or ax effect, arising from the fact that a good many of the lines, including the refrain, omit the initial unaccented syllable.

THE CAMBRIDGE Period: 1625-1632.

On the Death of a Fair Infant: 1626.—A seven-line rhyming stanza, the first six lines 5 xa, the seventh line an Alexandrine or 6 xa. It differs only in this 6 xa ending from the "Rhyme Royal" of the prosodians, used by Chaucer (Clerk's Tale, Troilus and Cresseide, &c.); by Spenser (Ruines of Time, Hymn of Heavenly Love, &c.); and by Shakespeare (Lucrece).

At a Vacation Exercise: 1628.-- Ordinary rhyming Heroics.

On the Morning of Christ's Nativity.-Introduction in same stanza as On the Death of a Fair Infant; but "The Hymn" in a peculiar rhyming eight-line stanza of combined 3 xa, 4 xa, 5 xa, and 6 xa.

Upon the Circumcision.-A complex rhyming stanza of fourteen lines of combined 2 xa, 3 xa, and 5 xa.

The Passion.-Same stanza as On the Death of a Fair Infant.

On Time.-A single burst of twenty-two lines of combined 3 xa, 4 xa, 5 xa, and 6 xa, rhyming irregularly in pairs.

At a Solemn Music.-A single burst of twenty-eight lines of combined 3 xa, 4 xa, 5 xa, and 6 xa, rhyming irregularly in pairs.

Song on May Morning.-Ten lines of combined 5xa and 4 xa, in rhyming couplets; with a Trochaic or ax effect in some of the lines.

On Shakespeare: 1630.-Ordinary rhyming Heroics.

On the University Carrier: 1630-1.-Ordinary rhyming Heroics.

Another on the Same: 1630-1.—Ordinary rhyming Heroics.

Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester: 1631.-Ordinary Octosyllabic Iambics, or 4 xa couplets, as in Paraphrase of Psalm CXXXVI.; with the same frequent Trochaic or ax effect from the omission of the initial unaccented syllable. Sonnets I. and II.-Both in 5 xa and after Italian precedents.


L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.---Both mainly in ordinary Octosyllabic Iambics, or 4 xa couplets, with the frequent Trochaic effect of a line in which the initial unaccented syllable is missing; but each Poem beginning with an introductory lyric of ten lines of combined 3 xa (or 3 xa +) and 5 xa (or 5 xa +).

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