A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 488 pages of information about A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.).

[Footnote 6:  “La Saisiaz,” for instance, is written in the same measure as “Locksley Hall,” fifteen syllables, divided by a pause, into groups of four trochees, and of three and a half—­the last syllable forming the rhyme.  It is admirably suited to the sustained and incisive manner in which the argument is carried on.  “Ixion” in “Jocoseria,” is in alternate hexameter and pentameter, which the author also employs here for the only time; it imitates the turning of the wheel on which Ixion is bound.  “Pheidippides” is in a measure of Mr. Browning’s own, composed of dactyls and spondees, each line ending with a half foot or pause.  It gives the impression of firm, continuous, and rhythmic motion, and is generally fitted to convey the exalted sentiment and heroic character of the poem.

In his translation of the “Agamemnon,” Mr. Browning has used the double ending continuously, so as to reproduce the extended measure of the Greek iambic trimeter.]

[Footnote 7:  As objection has been taken to the opinions conveyed in this paragraph, and Mr. Browning’s authority has been even, in a manner, invoked against them, I subjoin by his desire the accompanying note.  The question of what is, or is not, a vicious locution is not essential to the purposes of the book; but it is essential that I should not be supposed to have misstated Mr. Browning’s views on any point on which I could so easily ascertain them.

“I make use of ‘wast’ for the second person of the perfect-indicative, and ‘wert’ for the present-potential, simply to be understood; as I should hardly be if I substituted the latter for the former, and therewith ended my phrase.  ’Where wert thou, brother, those three days, had He not raised thee?’ means one thing, and ’Where wast thou when He did so?’ means another.  That there is precedent in plenty for this and many similar locutions ambiguous, or archaic, or vicious, I am well aware, and that, on their authority, I be wrong, the illustrious poet be right, and you, our critic, was and shall continue to be my instructor as to ‘every thing that pretty bin.’  As regards my objection to the slovenly ‘I had’ for ‘I’d,’ instead of the proper ’I would,’ I shall not venture to supplement what Landor has magisterially spoken on the subject.  An adverb adds to, and does not, by its omission, alter into nonsense the verb it qualifies.  ’I would rather speak than be silent, better criticize than learn’ are forms structurally regular:  what meaning is in ‘I had speak, had criticize’?  Then, I am blamed for preferring the indicative to what I suppose may be the potential mood in the case of ‘need’ and ’dare’—­just that unlucky couple:  by all means go on and say ‘He need help, he dare me to fight,’ and so pair off with ’He need not beg, he dare not reply,’ forms which may be expected to pullulate in this morning’s newspaper.

“VENICE, Oct. 25, 1885.”

“R.  B.”


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