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great, as strong, as lively, as racy, as any of the Elizabethans. Add the irregularities and flashing freedoms of syntax to be found in the writings of such men, the true compeers of the higher Elizabethans, to the irregularities of a different kind diffused through that public slip-shod to which a great deal of the lower Elizabethan literature really corresponds, and it may be doubted whether "grammatical monotony" is yet our characteristic. Indeed, many of those very Elizabethanisms which Mr. Abbott has noted so carefully in the body of his work, and which our strict School Grammars now ignore as obsolete, are not obsolete at all, but will be found current yet in conversation and in books, if we choose to look for them. Nor are some of the details of Mr. Abbott's philological exposition free from exception. Apart from these, however, his description of the actual Elizabethan English is the best yet given, and even in the few sentences we have quoted from it there is the essence of much exact information, acquired by no superficial survey, but by a careful collection and study of instances.

Well, the Elizabethan syntax, such as Mr. Abbott has described it, was that which Milton inherited. Though he was but beginning to speak, read, and write, when Shakespeare died, and though his life stretched forward sixty years from that point, Shakespeare's syntax, in its main features, is to be traced through all his English writings. All or most of those irregularities or apparent anomalies of idiom which Mr. Abbott has enumerated as most essentially Elizabethan or Shakespearian might be illustrated also by examples from Milton.

With all this, however, and without denying that freedom, ease, and alertness from moment to moment, were qualities of the Elizabethan syntax, one may venture at once on the assertion that one of the most marked characteristics of Milton from first to last was his adoption and use of a highly disciplined syntax. One cannot pass from a reading in Spenser or a reading in Shakespeare to any of Milton's poems without a feeling of the fact. Accuracy, disciplined accuracy, is discernible in the word-texture of all his poems. There is, however, a gradation chronologically. In the Minor Poems, grace, harmony, sweetness, and beauty of image and colouring, all but veil the strictness of the purely logical connexion of idea with idea and clause with clause. Sometimes

even, as in parts of Comus, the Shakespearian syntax seems to suffice, or the syntax seems as easy as the Shakespearian, and it is only the unfailing perfection of the finish, with perhaps a greater slowness in the movement, that suggests the presence of a something different. When it is inquired what this is, one can only say, in reading the more level passages, that it consists in a greater scholarliness, a more habitual consciousness that there is a thing called syntax to trouble writers at all. One remembers here Milton's treatise of Latin Grammar, entitled Accedence commenc't Grammar. "Syntaxis or Construction," he there says, "consisteth either in the agreement of words together in number, gender, case, and person, which is called Concord, or the governing


"of one the other in such case or mood as is to follow." Shakespeare, of course, knew as much, and could have discoursed about Syntaxis as well as about any other subject, if necessary; but, in fact, he had left his Syntaxis behind him at Stratford Grammar School, and went through the world practising Syntaxis without thinking about Syntaxis. Not so Milton. Concord and government were ideas of his daily drill, and, when he wrote English, he carried them with him. Hence that scholarly care rather than mere Shakespearian ease which we discern in the style of his Minor Poems, even where the ease is greatest. Then we may call it finish. Even in those Minor Poems, however, when the thought becomes more powerful or complex, the syntax passes farther away from the Shakespearian, and what was finish before becomes weight or musical density. Some of the most Miltonic passages in the Minor Poems exhibit this density of syntax. In the series of Sonnets written between 1640 and 1660 the density is even more apparent, from the necessary stringency of the Sonnet form itself; and these, like a chain of islets, bring us from the earlier poems to the great poems of the later life. In Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes, the Miltonic, in syntax as in all else, is seen at its fullest. It is in them that Milton's most formed syntax is to be studied. Variety, no doubt! Parts and passages of rich, or even sweet and simple beauty, as in the earlier poems, and where still the effect of the disciplined accuracy of idiom is that of consummate finish! Other parts and passages, however, where the close syntactical regulation takes, as before, the form of compact musical weight! Finally, passages and parts which so pass all previous bounds, both in length of sentence and in multiplicity of ideas to be organized into one sentence, that Milton's syntactical art is taxed to its utmost, and even then, but for the harmonizing majesty of the verse, the resulting structure might be called not dense merely, but contorted or gnarled!

But we may be more precise. That highly-disciplined syntax which Milton favoured from the first, and to which he tended more and more, was, in fact, the classical syntax, or, to be more exact, an adaptation of the syntax of the Latin tongue. It could hardly fail to be so. The very notion of a syntax, or system of concord and government among words, seems to belong only to an inflected language; for what is concord but amicable correspondency of inflection, or government but enforced variation of inflection? It is only because English retains a few habits of inflection still that it can be said to have a syntax at all in any other sense than that of a usual way of ordering or arranging words; and, even now, questions in English syntax are often settled best practically, if a settlement is wanted, by a reference to Latin construction. If I say "Admitting that you are right, you will be blamed," or if I even venture on so hideous a variety of the same form as “Proceeding half a mile along the pathway, a magnificent cascade burst into view," who is to check me, or who is likely to check me, if it be not one


who thinks of concord in the Latin participle and is shocked accordingly? Hence, in fact, the unrelated or misrelated participle is by far the most common form of English slip-shod at the present day. In Shakespeare's time, too, or in Milton's, any weakness in the native syntactical instinct that had come down from the times of the highlyinflected Old English either had to remain a weakness, an easy tolerance of variety, or had to be remedied by an importation of rule from the Latin. Now, whatever Shakespeare did on such occasions (and decided Latinisms in construction are very rare in him), Milton did import rule from the Latin. Even in his Minor Poems, where the syntax is most like the easy native syntax of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans, Latin constructions and idioms, and even positive flakes of translated Latin, may be detected. But the Latinism grew upon him, and its increase seems to have kept pace with that very progress of his syntax, from scholarly finish to compact musical density, and so to occasional gnarled complexity, which we have described. In his middle life, it is to be remembered, Milton was a writer of great prose-pamphlets of laboured Latin, intended for European circulation. It was after this rebaptism in Latin that he returned to English in his Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson. Need we wonder that, for this among other reasons, the Latinism of his English style there attained its maximum ? Such, at all events, is the fact.

An example or two will verify what has been said. Let the scholarly reader observe microscopically the syntax of the following passages

from Paradise Lost:

"This was at first resolved, If we were wise, against so great a foe

Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.

I laugh when those who at the spear are bold

And venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fear
What yet they know must follow-to endure

Exile, and ignominy, or bonds, or pain,
The sentence of their conqueror.

This is now

Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit
His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed,

Not mind us not offending, satisfied
With what is punished."—II. 201—213.
"If this be our condition, thus to dwell
In narrow circuit straitened by a foe,
Subtle or violent, we not endued
Single with like defence wherever met,
How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
But harm precedes not sin only our foe
Tempting affronts us with his foul esteem
Of our integrity: his foul esteem

Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns
Foul on himself; then wherefore shunned or feared

By us, who rather double honour gain

From his surmise proved false, find peace within,


Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event?
And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed
Alone, without exterior help sustained?
Let us not then suspect our happy state
Left so imperfect by the Maker wise

As not secure to single or combined.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so;

And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed."-IX. 322-341.

'He, after Eve seduced, unminded slunk

Into the wood fast by, and, changing shape

To observe the sequel, saw his guileful act

By Eve, though all unweeting, seconded

Upon her husband-saw their shame that sought
Vain covertures; but, when he saw descend
The Son of God to judge them, terrified
He fled, not hoping to escape, but shun
The present-fearing, guilty, what his wrath
Might suddenly inflict; that past, returned
By night, and, listening where the hapless pair
Sat in their sad discourse and various plaint,
Thence gathered his own doom; which understood
Not instant, but of future time, with joy

And tidings fraught, to Hell he now returned,

And at the brink of Chaos, near the foot

Of this new wondrous pontifice, unhoped

Met who to meet him came, his offspring dear."-X. 333-349.

Here what have we? A use, it is true, of certain native mechanisms, so that the syntax is part English; but these mechanisms aided, and all but supplanted, by Latin constructions. It is not only that Latin phrases and idioms are translated; it is that Milton bends, arranges, and builds up his own uninflected or scarce-inflected English on the system of the Latin syntax. Observe, generally, the fondness for those participial constructions by which the Latins saved conjunctions and connecting particles, and gave their syntax its character of brevity and strength. Such constructions abound even in the short pieces quoted, both in the form of the case relative and in that of the case absolute. Though the case absolute had survived in native English, one can see that in such instances as 66 we not endued,” “that past," "which understood," it was really the Latin ablative absolute that was in Milton's mind. Illustrations of the Latinism of Milton's construction and idiom might be endless; but the following may here suffice :

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SPECIAL LATINISMS." After Eve seduced," for "After the seduction of Eve," is one instance, already quoted, of a well-known special Latinism: "Post urbem conditam." Mr. Abbott produces but one example of this formation from Shakespeare, and that a doubtful one. But it recurs in Milton. Thus :-" After the Tuscan manners transformed" (Com. 48); "Never since created Man" (P. L., I. 573); "After summons read" (P. L., I. 798); "After Heaven seen” (P. L., III. 552); "After his charge received" (P. L., V. 248); "From his surmise proved false" (P. L., IX. 333); "At that tasted fruit" (P. L.,

X. 687); "In punished Man" (P. L., X. 803); "Repenting him of Man_depraved" (P. L., XI. 886); "Since first her salutation heard " (P. R., II. 107). With these, as containing substantially the same idiom, may be associated such as the following:

"For me be witness all the host of Heaven

If counsels different, or danger shunned

By me, have lost our hopes."-P. L., I. 635—637.
"This question asked

Puts me in doubt."-P. L., IV. 887, 888.

"best witness of thy virtue tried."-P. L., IX. 317.

"the way found prosperous once

Induces best to hope of like success."-P. R., I. 104, 105.


prevented by thy eyes put out."—S. A. 1103.

Among Milton's special Latinisms we are inclined to class a good many of his case-absolute phrases; for, though the dative absolute was an Anglo-Saxon idiom, and the nominative absolute, as a recollection of it, is frequent in early and Elizabethan English, Milton's caseabsolute seems often, as we have said, imagined in the Latin, e.g :—

'till, the signal given,

Behold a wonder."-P. L., I. 776, 777.
"This said, he paused not."-P. L., V. 64.
"The Angelic quires,

On each hand parting, to his speed gave way
Through all the empyreal road, till, at the gate
Of Heaven arrived, the gate self-opened wide
On golden hinges turning, as by work
Divine the sovran Architect had framed.

From hence-no cloud, or, to obstruct the sight,

Star interposed, however small-he sees,

Not unconform to other shining globes,

Earth, and the Garden of God."—P. L., V. 251-260.

"Let us seek Death, or, he not found, supply

With our own hands his office."-P. L., X. 1001, 1002.

Once or twice the accusative is used absolutely instead of the nominative e. g. "us dispossessed" (P. L., VII. 142); "me overthrown " (S. A. 463).

MISCELLANEOUS LATINISMS.-The following (some of them representative of recurring forms) may suggest the wealth of Latinisms, with sometimes a Græcism, scattered through Milton's text :


Spare to interpose them oft."-Sonnet XX.

"Peace is despaired;

For who can think submission?"—P. L., I. 660, 661.

"Whatever doing, what can we suffer more?"—P. L., II. 162.
"What sit we then projecting peace and war?"—P. L., II. 329.
"Or of the Eternal coeternal beam

May I express thee unblamed ?"—P. L., III. 2, 3.

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