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4 'Tis with our judgments as our watches-none (9)


A fool might once himself alone expose. (7)

A line may contain more than one pause. Of the lines quoted above, all except the last but one have an end-pause as well as a pause elsewhere. Some lines indeed have three, or counting the end-pause, even four pauses, as may be seen in the following passage:

24 & 5 Unerring Nature,—still divinely bright,—.

1, 2 & 5 One clear,-- unchang'd,—and universal light,, 1, 2 & 5 Life,-force, and beauty-must to all impart,2, 3 & 5 At once the source,-and end,-and test of Art. (70-3.)

Pope shows a marked preference for certain places at which the pause shall occur. Almost invariably we find the end-pause: the run-on lines in the Essay are only eight in number. Next to the end-pause, the pause after the 2nd foot is his favourite, and next to this the 2 pause. Pauses near the middle of the line are naturally more common than pauses towards either extremity. Pauses 1 and 4 are the rarest. If we take 15 lines as representative of the 744 lines of the Essay, the pauses will be distributed among them approximately as follows:

6 after 5th foot or End-pauses only,

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2 in one or other of the six remaining places.


Occasionally a line contains no pause, even at the end, as End-stopt and the sense requires us to read on into the folrun-on lines. lowing line before any interruption is possible: thus, in the following couplet—

'A prudent chief not always must display

His powers in equal ranks and fair array,' (175—6)

a pause at the word 'display' turns the passage into non

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sense: 'display his powers' must be rea Lines of this character are called 'run-on guish them from 'end-stopt lines,' in which the at the close. In Pope nearly all the lines are end the sense is almost invariably completed in the coup writings were mainly didactic or satirical, and in c tions of these kinds epigram was appropriate. But ar gram which struggles through two lines and comes to an in the middle of a third loses its point in the process. With Pope the first line of the couplet prepares the way for the terse, witty, trenchant, or epigrammatic saying contained in the second, and the rhyme at the end gives it finish and force1.

If we turn to the extract quoted from Francis Beaumont's Letter to Ben Jonson, we shall see that not one Overflow or of the seven couplets of which it consists contains Enjambement. the complete expression of the meaning. The successive periods are rounded off in the middle of the 2nd, the 7th, the 9th, the 11th, and the 14th lines. There is an 'overflow' of the sense beyond the confines of the couplet. This 'overflow' is called in French enjambement, and the couplet in which it occurs is called a couplet enjambé, a couplet which 'strides over' into the next. In narrative or dramatic poetry many of the couplets are of this character. Pope, aiming at epigrammatic point, studiously avoids the overflow. An example occurs however in lines 657-660 of the Essay.

Every line of heroic verse contains five accents, but these accents are not necessarily of equal intensity. If Unemphatic they invariably were so, the rhythm would become accent.

1 Not always indeed. Mr Lowell says that 'Dryden seldom makes the second verse of a couplet the mere train-bearer to the first, as Pope was continually doing. În Dryden the rhyme waits upon the thought; in Pope and his school the thought courtesies to the tune for which it is written.' (My Study Windows, 'Dryden,' p. 330.) If we substitute 'occasionally' for 'continually,' we shall keep within the mark. There are but few second lines in the Essay to which Mr Lowell's criticism can justly be applied: perhaps lines 16, 85, 202, 290 and 702 are examples in point.


accented syllables receive more emphasis, voice, than others. By the occasional intronemphatic monosyllable, in the place where the variety of rhythm is produced. Take, for example, e Essay

'To érr | is húm|an, tó | forgive | divíne.'

ared with the stress which is given in reading the line to , hum-, -give, -vine, the stress on to is unemphatic, but unemphatic though to is, the last syllable of human which precedes it is less emphatic still. This occurrence of the unemphatic accent on a monosyllable immediately after the unaccented `last syllable of a word containing more syllables than one, is a characteristic of Pope's versification. Thus, of the first twenty lines of the Essay, no fewer than ten possess this feature, e.g. : 'Appeár | in wrít|ing ór | in júdg|ing íll, 1. 2.

To tíre our patience thán | misleád | our sénse, 1.4.
'Tis with our judgments ás | our wátches nóne, 1. 9.
In pólets ás | true génius ís | but ráre, 1. 11.

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True taste as séldom is the crític's share,' 1. 12.

and lines 15, 16, 17, 18, and 20.

Though there are many lines in which an equal emphasis in reading will be assigned to every accented syllable, as e.g. the first line of the Essay,—


"Tis hárd | to say | if greáter want of skill,'

there are other lines in which emphasis comes into play with varying intensity at different points, thereby relieving the verses of their inherent tendency to become monotonous. A good reader would probably deliver the following lines with a special weight of emphasis upon the italicised syllables:

'Parties in wit attend on those of state,
And public faction doubles private hate.
Pride, malice, folly, against Dryden rose

In various shapes of parsons, critics, beaus.' (456—9.) As Pope commonly requires an emphatic accent at the end of his line to give weight to his terse or trenchant expression, he avoids using a word of three

Final syllable.

syllables in this place, as the final accent of a trisyllable is weak, and prefers to close his lines with a monosyllable or with an iambic dissyllable, such as offence, defaced, require, prevails. Of lines like the following, terminated by a trisyllable,—

'The shapeless rock or hanging precipice,' 1. 160.

‘And the press groan'd with licens'd blasphemies,' I. 553the instances amount to fewer than three per cent. Milton, on the contrary, with the object of avoiding the suggestion of epigrammatic point, often closes his line with two monosyllabic words, the first of which, though unaccented, is long in quantity. Thus, in the first hundred lines of Paradise Lost, Book I., we meet with the following verse-endings: 'fall off' (30), 'whose guile' (34), 'Most High' (40), 'sides round' (61), 'those flames' (62), 'where peace' (65), ‘bold words' (82), 'how changed ' (84), 'fix'd mind' (97). The acuteness of the final accent is somewhat blunted by the weight of the monosyllable which precedes1.


A trochee is a foot of two syllables, of which the first syllable carries the accent, whilst in the iambus the second Trochaic syllable carries the accent. The noun rébel is a trochee; the verb rebél is an iambus. In heroic verse the substitution of a trochee for an iambus in the first foot is permissible. The following lines illustrate this license :

'Náture affords at least a glimm'ring light,' 1. 21.
'Want as much more to turn it to its use,' 1. 81.
'Learning and Rome alike in empire grew,' 1.683.


The employment of an Alexandrine or of a Triplet is another device by which the attempt was made to relieve the tedium of an unbroken succession of decasyllabic couplets. The Alexandrine is an iambic verse of six accents instead of five. The Essay contains two examples of

1 For further information on this point and on other metrical questions the reader is referred to Abbott and Seeley's English Lessons for English People (pp. 143-216), of which use has been made in several parts of this section.

its use, both of them highly effective; one, in ridicule of the 'melodious' school of minor poets, with whom

'A needless Alexandrine ends the song,

That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along’:

(1. 357)

the other, descriptive of the movement of the swift Camilla as she

-scours the plain,

Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.'


(1. 373)

The Triplet is formed by the addition of a third rhyming line to the lines of a couplet. This third line is not unfrequently an Alexandrine. Pope supplies an example of the combination in his Imitations of Horace (Epistle I. Book ii. 267—9):

'Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full-resounding line,

The long majestic March, and Energy divine.'

Introduced with a sparing hand, both Triplet and Alexandrine are of some power in marking a climax. Scattered promiscu-ously through a poem, they produce a jarring effect, frustrating in an apparently purposeless way our expectation of uniformity in the heroic couplet. The monotony is indeed interrupted, but the interruption in this form is distracting rather than pleasurable.



When we consider the marvellous subtlety of Pope's sense of rhythm, and his skilful manipulation of the pause, the faultiness of his rhymes seems remarkable. It is true that, owing to the paucity of rhymes in English, imperfect rhymes have been employed by most of our poets. Assonances such as dull, fool,—boast, lost,—sort, court, and 'eye-rhymes' such as love, prove,-low, now,-height, weight, are sanctioned by usage. It is true also that, owing to the change which has taken place in our pronunciation during the last two centuries, words which made perfect rhymes in Pope's day rhyme no longer now. Thus, to confine our examples to

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