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cannot be exactly matched in the alliterative metre. I fhall give by way of example a few lines from the modern French poets accommodated with parallels from the ancient pcem of LIFE AND DEATH; in these I shall denote the Cæsura or Pause by a perpendicular line, and the Cadence by the marks of the Latin quantity.
Lě füccēs füt toiljoūrs 1 un enfant dě l'audace;
L' bömně prudent võit trop
Pillūsión lě fuit,
L'intrèpidě võit mieux 1 ět le fantôme füit (x).
Meme aŭx yeữx de l'injūfie | ủn injuste ěst börribl= (y).
Pour pärõitre bönněte komme 1 ện ủn mot, il faut l ètre (z).
To conclude: the metre of Pierce Plowman's Visions has no kind of affinity with what is commonly called Blank Verfe; yet has it a sort of harmony of its own, proceeding not so much from its alliteration, as from the artful disposal of its cadence, and the contrivance of its pause; so that when the ear is a little accustomed to it, it is by no means unpleasing; but claims all the merit of the French heroic numbers, only far less po. lifhed; being sweetened, instead of their final rhymes, with the internal recurrence of similar founds.
(*) Catalina, A. 3.
(y) Boileau Sat.
(2) Boil. Sat. 11.
ADDITIONS TO The ESSAY
THE ALLITERATIVE METRE.
INCE the foregoing Essay was first printed, the
the old Alliterative Metre.
Grist Crowned Kyng, that on Cros dideft (b),
The Author from this proemium takes occasion to give an account of a Dream that happened to himself: which he introduces with the following circumstances :
Ones y me Ordayned, as y have Ofte doon,
(a) In a small 4to MS. containing 38 leaves in private hands. 16) Didit dye. (c) though. (d) being overpowerei. le) i.e. either, or.
He then describes his dream:
Methought that y Hoved on High on an Hill,
With that a Clerk Kneled adowne and Carped these wordes,
Liege Lord, yif it you Like to Listen a while,
The writer then gives a solemn lecture to kings on the art of governing. From the demand of subsidies ' to fudleyno his werres,' I am inclined to believe this poem composed in the reign of K. HENRY Vth, as the MS. appears from a subsequent entry to have been written before the oth of Henry VI. The whole poem contains but 146 lines,
The Alliterative Metre was no lefs popular among the old Scotiilli poets, than with their brethren on this fide the Tweed, lu Maitland's Collection of ancient Scottish Poems, Ms. in the Pepysian library, is a very long poem in this fpecies of vertification, thus inscribed:
Hur begins the Tretis of the Iwa Marriit Wemen, and the
We do, compylit be Mailier WILLIAM DUNBAR (8).
igi Snce the above was written, this poem hath been printed inz 6: Ancient Scottish Preins, &c. from the MS. Collections Sir R. “ Mittland, of Lethington, kvight, of London, 1986," 2 vols. 1 2 mo. The two first lines are here corrected by that edition.
“Befyd ane Gudlie Grene Garth (b), full of Gay flouris
The Author pretends to over-hear three gossips fitting in an arbour, and revealing all their secret methods of alluring and governing the other sex; it is a severe and humorous satire on bad women, and nothing inferior to Chaucer's Prologue to his Wife of Bath's Tale. As DUNBAR lived till about the middle of the sixteenth cen. tury, this poem was probably composed after SCOTTISH FIELD (described above, in p. 277.) which is the latest fpecimen I have met with written in England. This poem contains about five hundred lines.
But the current use of the Alliterative Metre in Scotland, appears more particularly from those popular vulgar prophecies, which are still printed for the use of the lower people in Scotland, under the names of THOMAS the Rymer, Marvellous MERLING, &c, This collection seems to have been put together after the accession of James I. to the crown of England, and most of the pieces in it are in the metre of Piercs Plowman's Visions. The first of them begins thus:
“ Merling sayes in his book, who will Read Right,
And the Prophesie of BEID:
“ And Earnest Envy Mall last but a while, &c."
So again the Prophesie of BERLINGTON:
And lastly, that intitled, The Prophesie of GILDAS.
" When holy kirk is Wracked and will has no Wit
“ And spiritual paftours are vexed away, &c." It will be observed in the foregoing specimens, that the Alliteration is extremely neglected, except in the third and fourth instances; although all the rest are written in imitation of the cadence, used in this kind of metre. It may perhaps appear from an attentive perusal, that the poems ascribed to Berlington and Waldhave are more ancient than the others; indeed the first and fifth appear evidently to have been new modelled, if not intirely compoied about the beginning of the last century, and are probably the latest attempts ever made in this species of verse.
In this and the foregoing Essay are mentioned all the specimens I have met with of the Alliterative Metre without rhyme: but instances occur sometimes in old Manuscripts, of poems written both with final rhymes and the internal cadence and alliterations of the Metre of Pierce Plowman.
THE END OF THE ESSAY.