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keeping with the changes that have taken place in the relative values and functions of the words entering into these compounds. At the date of the combination, who and what were Indefinite pronouns, and as such were toneless and enclitic; while so took the lead in thought and carried the accent. Meanwhile who and what have risen in importance, and so has declined. Here, therefore, we see the accent in its office as an interpreter and illustrator. A survival of the emphasis on so occurs in The Faery Queene, iii. 2. 73
By sea, by land, where so they may be mett.
626. But, while we make no attempt to write accent, we may be said to attempt some partial and indirect tokens of emphasis by means of our system of punctuation. It is, however, in our old Saxon literature that we find emphasis in the most remarkable manner signalised. The alliteration of the Saxon poetry not only gratified the ear with a resonance like that of modern rhyme, but it also had the rhetorical advantage of touching the emphatic words; falling as it did on the natural summits of the construction, and tinging them with the brilliance of a musical reverberation.
Alliteration did not necessarily act on the initial letter of the word; where the first syllable was naturally low-toned, the alliteration played on the initial letter of the second syllable : and this rule is both ancient and natural. an example of it in the following line of Wordsworth :
Avaunt this vile abuse of pictured page !
The most convenient illustration we can offer of the Saxon alliteration will perhaps be obtained by selecting from the Song of the Fight of Maldon some of the staves. which have retained their alliteration in Mr. Freeman's version, in Old English History for Children.
A warman hard in war; se wæs haten Wulfstan.
he hight Wulfstan. bogan wäron bysige,
Bows were busy, bord ord onfeng.
boards the points received. hále to háme,
Hale to home, ofde on here cringan.
or in the host cringe. mód sceal be máre,
Mood shall the more be, þe ure mægen lytlað.
as our main lessens. 627. Had we continued to be isolated from the Romanesque influence, like the people of Iceland, we might have developed this form of poetry into something of the luxuriance and technical precision which it has attained in Icelandic literature, as described in the preface to Mr. Magnusson's Lilja, 1870.
Since we have adopted the French principles of poetry, alliteration has retired into the background. As late as the fourteenth century we find it pretty equally matched as a rival with the iambic couplet in rhyme; but within that century the victory of the latter was assured. By Shakspeare's time alliteration was spoken of contemptuously, as if it had reached the stage of senility. The pedantic Holofernes says he will affect the letter,' that is to say compose verses with alliteration. Hol. I will something affect the letter, for it argues facilitie.
Loues Labour's lost, iv.-2. 628. But however much it had come to be despised, it has notwithstanding managed to retain a certain position in our poetry.
Alliteration's artful aid' is still found to be a real auxiliary to the poet, which, sparingly and unobtrusively used, has often an artistic effect, while its agency is almost unnoticed. Shakspeare himself provides us with some very pretty samples of alliteration.
If what in rest you haue, in right you hold.
King John, iv. 2. 55.
Fear’d by their breed, and famous for their birth.
King Richard II, ii. 1. 52.
One of the boldest poets in its use is Spenser, as
Much daunted with that dint her sense was daz'd.
Add faith unto your force, and be not faint.
Sober he seemde, and very sagely sad.
The Faery Queene, i. 1. 18, 19, 29.
In Blew Cap for Me, a ballad of the time of James I, is this sounding alliterative line :
A haughty high German of Hamborough towne.
Alliteration is found in every poet:
Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first
John Milton, Paradise Regained, i. 221.
The French came foremost, battailous and bold.
Fairfax, Tasso, i. 37.
Talk with such toss and saunter with such swing.
Crabbe, Parish Register, Part II.
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way.
Weel waled were his wordies I ween.
Joanna Baillie, Woo'd and Married and a'.
Now, tho' my lamp was lighted late, there's One will let me in ;
Alfred Tennyson, The May Queen.
A very good example, and one which, from the coincidence of the emphasis with the alliteration, recalls the ancient models, is this from Cowper's Garden :-
He settles next upon the sloping mount,
From the dash'd pane the deluge as it falls.
Ye whose hearts are beating high
That thine angels' harps may ne'er
628 a. The ancient practice of alliteration has had some permanent effects on the stock phraseology of the language. It is doubtless the old poetic sound that has formed and guaranteed against the ravages of time such conventional couplings as these :
Cark and care.
The old word sooth survives in the compounds forsooth and soothsayer, but not in its simple form, except in the
alliterative phrase sooth to say. In Saxon times the legal phraseology was sometimes yoked together by alliteration, as in those famous formulæ which outlived their significance, sac and soc, toll and team.
More recently we see it in heraldic mottoes, as at Winchester in Manners makyth man; and at Mells in Time trieth troth.
A little attention might discover more instances, shewing how dear to humanity is the very jingle of his speech, and how he loves, even in his riper age, to keep up a sort of phantom of that harmony which in his infancy blended sound and sense in one indistinguishable chime. 660 a.
629. The various kinds of by-play in poetry, such as alliteration, rhyme, and assonance, seem all to harmonise with the accentuation. While alliteration belongs naturally to a language which tends to throw its accent as far back as possible towards the beginning of the word, rhyme and assonance suit those which lean rather towards a terminal accentuation. Hence alliteration is the domestic artifice of the Gothic poetry, as rhyme and assonance
are of the Romanesque. Rhyme has indeed won its way, not only in England, but in nearly all the other seats of Gothic dialects; still it is in the Romance literatures that we must observe it, if we would see it in the full swing which it enjoys only in its native element.
630. Let us conclude this section with an observation of a rhetorical kind in regard to the illustrative energies of sound.
A rich and various modulation is the correlative of a richly variable collocation in matter of syntax. One illustration of this may be gathered from the fact that all languages use greater freedom of collocation in poetry than in prose; that is to say, in the more highly modulated literature