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« Flowers Flourished in the Frith,
where Thee Forth stepped;
DEATH is afterwards sketched out with a no less bold and original pencil.
The other poem is that, which is quoted in the 28th page of this volume, and which was probably the last that was ever written in this kind of metre in its ori. ginal fimplicity unaccompanied with rhyme. It should have been observed above in page 28, that in this poem the lines are throughout divided into distichs, thus:
It is intitled Scottish FEILDE (in 2 pitT8, 420 di. ftichs,) containing a very circumstantial narrative of the battle of Flodden, fought Sept. 9, 1513: at which the author seems to have been present from his speaking in the first person plural :
* Then we Tild downe our Tents,
that Told were a thousand.”
In the conclusion of the poem he gives this account of himself:
“ He was a Gentleman by Jefu,
that this Gest (m) made:
for Sooth and noe other.
(m) Jest. MS.
The village of Bagily or Baguleigh is in Cheshire, and had belonged to the ancient family of Legh for two centuries before the battle of Flodden. Indeed that the author was of that county appears from other parsages in the body of the poem, particularly from the pains he takes to wipe off a stain from the Cheshire-men, who it seems ran away in that battle, and from his encomiums on the Stanleys earls of Derby, who usually headed that county. He laments the death of James Stanley bishop of Ely, as what had recently happened when this poem was written ; which serves to ascertain its date, for that prelate died March 22, 1514-5.
Thus have we traced the Alliterative Measure so low as the sixteenth century. It is remarkable that all such poets as used this kind of metre, retained along with it many peculiar Saxon idioms, particularly such
were appropriated to poetry: this deserves the attention of those who are desirous to recover the laws of the ancient Saxon Poesy, usually given up as
10) Yearded, i.e. buried, earthed, earded. It is common to pronounce “ Farth,” in some parts of England“ Yearth,” particularly in the North. -Pitscottie speaking of James III. Nain at Bannockboun, says, “ Nae man wot whar they YEARDED him." (p) .us. MS. In the 2d line above, the MS. has bidding.'
inexplicable: I am of opinion that they will find what they seek in the Metre of Pierce Plowman (9).
About the beginning of the sixteenth century this kind of versification began to change its form: the author of Scottish FIELD, we see, concludes his poem with a couplet in rhyme: this was an innovation that did but prepare the way for the general admission of that more modifh ornament; till at length the old uncouth verse of the ancient writers would no longer go down without it. Yet when Rhyme began to be fuperadded, all the niceties of Alliteration were at first retained along with it; and the song of LITTLE John Nobody exhibits this union very clearly. By degrees the correspondence of final founds engros. sing the whole attention of the poet, and fully iatisfying the reader, the internal imbellishment of Alli. teration was no longer studied, and thus was this kind of metre at length iwallowed up and loit in our coinmon Burlesque Alexandrine, or Anapestic verse (r),
111 And in that of Robert of Gloucester. See the next note.
6) Consisting of four Anapekts (00-) in which the Accent rests upon every third syllable. This kind of Verse, which I also call the Burlesque Alexandrine (to distinguish it from the other Alexandrines of 11 and 14 syllables, the parents of our lyric measure : see examples, pp. 139, 149, &c.) was early applied by Robert of Gloucester to serious subjects. That writer's metre, like this of Langland's, is formed on the Saxon models (each verse of his containing a Saxon distich), only instead of the internal Alliterations adopted by Langland, he rather chole final Rhymes, as the French poets have done fince. Take a specimen:
« The Saxons tho in ther power, tho thii were so rive,
« Of Kent, and of Wessex, and of the March, therto." Robert of Gloucester wrote in the western dialect, and his language differs exceedingly from that of other contemporary Writes,
now nerer used but in ballads and pieces of light hu. mour, as in the following Song of CONSCIENCE, and in that well-known doggrel,
" A cobler there was, and he lived in a stall." But although this kind of measure hath with us been thus degraded, it still retains among the French its ancient dignity; their grard Heroic Verse of twelve fyllables (s) is the fame genuine offspring of the old alliterative metre of the ancient Gothic and Francic poets, stript like our Anapestic of its alliteration, and ornamented with rhyme: But with this difference, that whereas this kind of verse hath been applied by us only to light and trivial subjects, to which by its quick and lively measure it seemed best adapted, our Poets have let it remain in a more lax unconfined late (t),
who resided in the metropolis, or in the midland counties. Had the Heptarchy continued, our Englith language would probably have been as much distinguished for its different dialects as the Greek; er at least as that of the several independant states of Italy.
(8) Or of thirteen fyllables, in what they call a feminine verse. It is remarkable that the French alone have retained this old Gothic metre for their serious poems; whiie the English, Spaniards, &c. have adopted the Italic verse of ten syllabl s, although the Spaniards, as well as we, anciently used a short-lined metre. I believe the success with which Petrarch, and perhaps one or two others, first used the Hieroic verse of ten fyllables in lialian Poesy, recommended it to the Spanith writers; as it also did to our Chaucer, who first attempted it in English; and to his successors Lord Surrıy, Sir Thomas Wyat, &c.; who afterwards improved it and brought it to perfection. To Lorel Surrey we also owe the first introduction of Blank Verse in his Verfions of the second and fourth Books of the Æneid, 1557, 410.
(t) Thus our potts use this verse inditferently with 12, 11, and even 10 fillables. For though regularly it consists of 4 Arapeíts (00-) or twelve syllables, yet they frequently retrench a syllable from the first or third Anapest; and sometimes from both; as in these instances from PR10R, and from the following Song of CONSCIENCE:
Whở hås eēr beěn åt Pāris, mūst nēeds know thě Grēve,
as a greater degree of severity and strictness would have been inconlistent with the light and airy sulojects to which they have applied it. On the other hand, the French having retained this Verse as the vehicle of their Epic and 'ragic flights, in order to give it a statelineis and dignity were obliged to confine it to more exact laws of Scansion; they have therefore limited it to the number of twelve Syllables ; and by making the Cæsura or Pause as full and distinct as poffible; and by other severe restrictions, have given it all the folemnity of which it was capable. The harmony of both however depends fo much on the same flow of cadence and disposal of the pause, that they appear plainly to be of the fame original; and every French heroic verse evidently consists of the ancient Distich of their Francic ancestors : which, by the way, will account to us why this verse of the French fo naturally resolves itself into two complete hemistics. And indeed by making the cæsura or pause always to rest on the last fyliable of a word, and by making a kind of pause in the sense, the French poets do in effect reduce their hemiftics to two distinct and independant verses: and fome of their old pets have gone so far as to make the two hemistics rhyme to each other (u).
After all, the old alliterative and anapestic metre of the English poets being chiefly used in a barbarous age, and in a rude unpolithed language, abounds with verses defective in length, proportion, and harmony; and therefore cannot enter into a comparison with the correct verlification of the best inodera French writers; but making allowances for these defects, that fort of metre runs with a cadence so exactly resembling the French heroic Alexandrine, that I believe no peculiașities of their versification can be produced, which
(u) See Instances in L’Hift. de la Poefie Françoise par MASSIEU, &c. la the same book are allo specimens of alliterative French Verfee.