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“If what in rest you haue, in right you hold.’
“Fear'd by their breed, and famous by their birth.”
“And sigh'd my English breath in forraine Clouds,
Id. iii. I. 20.
One of the boldest poets in its use is Spenser, as–
“Much daunted with that dint her sense was daz'd.’
The Faerie Queene, i. 1, 18, 19, 29.
In Blew Cap for Me, a ballad of the time of James I, is this good alliterative line:—
‘A haughty high German of Hamborough towne.'
In Paradise Regained we have the following:—
‘Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first
“A table richly spread in regal mode." ii. 339.
“The French came foremost, battailous and bold.”
‘Talk with such toss and saunter with such swing.’
“The ploughman homeward plods his weary way.”
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, Whose sharp declivity shoots off secure From the dash'd pane the deluge as it falls.’ The Christian Pear affords some very graceful examples. On Palm Sunday we read:—
‘Ye whose hearts are beating high
By whose strength ye sweep the string.
That thine angels' harps may ne'er Fail to find fit echoing here.” The ancient taste for alliteration has produced some per
manent effects on the stock phraseology of the language. It is doubtless the old poetic sound that has guaranteed against the ravages of time such conventional couplings as these:—
Cark and care. *
Rhyme and reason.
Weal and woe.
Wise and wary. (Cf. Chaucer, Prologue, 1.312.)
Wit and wisdom.
And to the same cause I would attribute the preservation of the old word sooth in the phrase sooth to say. Except in the compound forsooth, the word sooth is otherwise quite unused. A little attention would soon discover a great many other instances, showing 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.
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 is possible only in its native element.
Let us conclude this section with an observation of a more comprehensive kind than any which has yet been made 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 the freedom of displacement is greater. Anything like the following would be simply impossible in English prose:–
‘Who meanes no guile be guiled soonest shall.’
Another manifest illustration of the same lies in the fact that it is in the most musical languages we meet with the extremest liberty of collocation. How strangely variable was the collocation of the classical languages, is pretty well known to all of us, whose education consisted largely in ‘construing Greek and Latin,' that is to say, in bringing together from the most distant parts of the sentence the
words that belonged to one another functionally. If we have in English less of such violent and apparently arbitrary displacements, it should be remembered that we also have less of musical animation to render justice withal to the signification of such displacements. And further, if the modern languages generally have less variation of arrangement than the ancient classics had, it is supposed that even the most musical of the modern languages are less musical than were the Greek and Latin. But in this sovereign quality of music, a language is not doomed to be stationary. There is such a thing as progress in this no less than in syntax. And as an argument that musical progress has been made in English, we have only to reflect how modern is the public sense of modulation, and the general demand that is made for “good reading.' All things are double over against one another; and the demand for well-modulated reading is one indication that the power and range of modulation is progressing. And with this modulatory progress there is certainly a collocatory progress afoot. The proofs are not perhaps very conspicuous, but they are visible to those who look for them, demonstrating that a greater elasticity and freedom of displacement (so to speak) are being acquired by the English language.
II. OF SOUND As A FoRMATIVE AGENCY.
We now proceed to consider sound as a power which affects the forms of words. The attention must be directed to the accentuation and its consequences.
I. The simplest instance is where the accent has a conservative effect upon the accented syllable, while the unaccented syllable gradually shrinks or decays. Thus, in the word
goodwife the accented syllable was preserved in its entirety, while the second syllable shrank up into such littleness as we are familiar with in the form goody. This is a plain example of a transformation conditioned by the incidence of sound. In American literature the word grandsire has assumed the form of grandsir from the same cause. The accented syllable remains complete, while the unaccented dwindles. The following quotation will be sufficient to establish the fact:— ‘Viewing their townsman in this aspect, the people revoked the courteous doctorate with which they had heretofore decorated him, and now knew him most familiarly as Grandsir Dolliver. . . . All the younger portion
of the inhabitants unconsciously ascribed a sort of aged immortality to Grandsir Dolliver's infirm and reverend presence.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The way in which the accent has wrought in determining the transformation of words from Latin into French, has been briefly and effectively shewn by M. Auguste Brachet, in his Historical Grammar of the French Tongue. The unaccented parts have often lost their distinct syllabification, while the syllable accented in Latin has almost become the whole word in French. Thus—
LATIN. FRENCH. ângelus ange cómputum compte débitum dette décima dime pórticus porche
Mr. Kitchin's Translation, p. 33 sqq.
This is but a small part of the case as there expounded, and the student should by all means go to the book itself, and master this portion, for this is the marrow of philology.
A good example is afforded by the modern Greek negative. The negative in modern Greek is 8év, and this is an