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cadence; for which reason they seem to have been called 'Verses of cadence."" (Diss. p. cli.) This nomenclature, at least, is unfortunate. The phrase, "' verse of cadence" is Lydgate's; but, whatever may be its import, it certainly was not the only kind of verse known in Chaucer's time; for in his 'House of Fame' (ii. 115) Chaucer himself is described in an address to him by the Eagle as having long been given to apply his wit

"To make bokes, songis, and ditis,
In rhyme or ellis in cadence."

It is remarkable that this passage, so clearly implying, as it would seem, that, besides verse of cadence, Chaucer was acquainted with a different sort of verse, which he distinguishes by the name of rhyme, should have escaped the attention of Dr. Nott, or should not be any where noticed by him. Further, it appears from a passage in the Troilus and Cresseide (v. 1796), which the learned editor does quote (Diss. clxiii.), that Chaucer himself considered his verse in that work to be metrical: it occurs near the end, where, after having gracefully dismissed his finished work in the following lines,—


Go, little book! go, little tragedy!

There God my maker yet ere that I die
So send me might to make some comedy:
But, little book, make thou thee none envie
But subject ben unto all poesie,

And kiss the steps whereas thou seest pace
Of Virgil, Ovid, Homer, Lucan, Stace:"-

he proceeds in the next stanza to express his earnest hope that transcribers and reciters may be withheld from violating his metre :—

"And, for there is so great diversity

In English and in writing of our tongue,
So pray I to God that none miswrite thee
Ne thee mismetre for defaut of tongue."

We do not say that these passages are irreconcilable with the position that Chaucer's verse was not constructed upon the principle of syllabical regularity: we adduce them only to show that Dr. Nott has not been happy in the selection of his epithets when he affirms that the only kinds of verse known in Chaucer's time were all " verses of cadence" and all "not metrical." To speak, as he does, of the feet of our present verses as all consisting each of two syllables is another obvious error of expression.

Dr. Nott objects to the notion of Chaucer's supposed employment of the final and now silent e as a distinct syllable on the ground that such a practice could not, as he conceives, have been derived from the similar use of the e feminine in French poetry. But he satisfies himself with a mere expression of his conviction on this point. "It remains," he says, 66 yet to be proved that the use of the e feminine, such as is here contended for, was then established in French poetry. It seems clear to me that it was not; nor do I doubt but that every one will arrive at the same conclusion who will give himself the trouble to examine dispassionately the early French poets, and particularly the manuscript copies of their works." It is probable that French verse was anciently written with much less regularity than it afterwards acquired; and in the earlier poets of that language, therefore, the prosodical use of what is called the e femivine may both seem and be somewhat capricious; but it

is a startling assumption that such use is altogether a modern invention. Upon this supposition it behoved Dr. Nott to point out when and by whom so extraordinary an innovation was introduced. It is strange he should not perceive that his notion attributes to some comparatively recent French poet the very same thing which he properly objects to as unlikely to have happened in the case of Chaucer-that, in his own words, "if Chaucer really did employ the e feminine in his versification in the manner supposed, it must have been a contrivance purely of his own invention "—" a supposition this," he adds, "which, I apprehend, few will be disposed to maintain.” (Diss. p. cxliii.)

But this is really a supposition which nobody has ever advanced with regard to Chaucer. "It appears to me incredible," says Dr. Nott, a few sentences before, "that Chaucer, who was remarkable for his common sense and practical view of things, meaning to form a standard style in language, should begin by introducing a novel mode of pronunciation, which, being contrary to common usage, could not be generally adopted." This is an absurdity of the learned editor's own making. Tyrwhitt does not imagine that Chaucer introduced any novel mode of pronunciation; he conceives that the pronunciation of the language found, according to his view, in Chaucer's poetry was the common pronunciation of the time. If the poetry of Chaucer is to be so read, so undoubtedly is that also of Langland, and Minot, and De Brunne, and Robert of Gloucester, and all our other early English poetry. What Chaucer introduced, and borrowed from the poetry of France or Italy, if he introduced or thence borrowed any thing, was not the occasional pro

nunciation of the final e as a distinct syllable, but the general principle of metrical regularity, to which he adapted this and all the other points of the ancient and established national mode of speech. What particular advantage could he have gained by merely multiplying in this or in any other way the number of syllables in the language? It is an odd notion for Dr. Nott to take up that Chaucer's only object in his supposed reformation of our verse was to contrive some ready way of always spinning out his line into ten or eleven syllables. No doubt, a method of reducing it within those dimensions would have been found equally convenient, if it had ever entered his head to try any such unheard of and impossible expedients. But the truth is, it is not necessary for the opponent of the claim set up by Dr. Nott for the Earl of Surrey to insist that Chaucer made any change whatever in the principles of English versification. If it be only admitted that his verses are constructed upon the principle of syllabical regularity, it does not matter, for this question, whether those of his predecessors are so or not. His versification may sur pass them only by this common principle being applied by him with more care, skill, and success than by them. He may have made no innovation in the structure of our verse whatever, and borrowed nothing from the poets of France or Italy except only their superior correctness and elegance.

The only one of Dr. Nott's arguments which has much or indeed any apparent force, is that which he draws from the manner in which all our early poetry, that of Chaucer included, is found to be written in the ancient manuscripts. "In all those MSS.," says Dr. Nott,

"the cæsura in the middle, and the pause at the end of the line, are pointed out with a precision that leaves no room for conjecture. The points or marks made use of have no reference whatever to punctuation: they never occur but at the place of cæsura in the middle of the line, or at the pause at the end of it; and are often made with red paint, the better to catch the eye. When the mark of cæsura is omitted, an interval is generally left in the middle of the line, between the two hemistichs. The second hemistich frequently begins with a capital, though the introduction of a capital there, instead of assisting, often confuses the sense." (Diss. p. clii.) "An impartial consideration of the subject," he afterwards observes, "and a reference to good MSS., must, I think, lead us to conclude that Chaucer had not a metrical system of numbers in contemplation; but that, on the contrary, he designed his verses to be read, like those of all his contemporaries, with a caesura and rhythmical cadence." (Id., p. clix.) Again, speaking particularly of the manuscripts of Chaucer's poems, he says, "In these MSS. either the cæsura, or the pause at the end of the line, and sometimes both the pause and the cæsura, are almost always noted, and that in so careful a manner as makes it questionable whether there be any MS. of good date and authority in which one or both of them is not noted, either by a point or a virgule; though the virgule or point may in some instances have been obliterated. Why this particularity, which must have been designed to answer some practical purpose, should not have been noticed by the several editors of Chaucer's works, I am at a loss to say. The omission is the more remarkable, as it could not have escaped observation that all the MSS.

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