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1797.]

HERMANN'S STRICTURES.

169

conjectures of Wakefield, whom Porson has suddenly found, though not an equal, yet a determined, adversary; and who, as he exhibits not less rashness and presumption than ability, and not more exact knowledge of Greek than of Latin, is, though deserving of some consideration, yet quite unworthy to carry such authority as he has gained among my countrymen, who are apt to be too favourable judges of foreigners."

After some remarks on Porson's spelling of certain words, and his adherence to Dawes's canon respecting the unlawfulness of omitting the augment in Attic Greek, a canon which Hermann labours to impugn as far as he is able, he proceeds to attack Porson's dictum regarding the inadmissibility of anapasts into any place of a tragic senarius except the first, and of dactyls into any except the first and third, unless when proper names, which could not be subjected to this rule, were used. He fixes, first of all, on a passage of the preface which must be acknowledged to be indeed vulnerable. Porson says, "So far is it impossible, in my opinion, for an anapæst to constitute the second or fourth foot, that it cannot even constitute the third or the fifth. Whoever admits that this is true with regard to the third foot, will admit à fortiori, as logicians say, that it is true with regard to the fifth; for a dactyl, which is very often used in the third foot, is never seen in the fifth; and therefore the anapast, if it is excluded from the third, will be excluded from the fifth." This reasoning is not sound, because there might not be the same objection to placing the long syllable of the anapæst before the final iambus as to placing the two short syllables of the dactyl before it. Porson, indeed, only showed that the anapast was not used in the fifth foot,

more.

(or in any foot but the first, except in the case of a proper name,) not that it could not be used; and all who have since written on the subject have shown no Hermann next, in the course of his dissertation, proceeds to argue that an anapæst would be less tolerable in the third place than in the fifth, but a schoolboy may see that what he advances for argument on this point is mere fancy.

His conclusion is, that an anapæst may be admitted indiscriminately into any place of a trimeter iambic; nihil interesse quâ in sede trimetri anapastus occurrat, excepting of course the last; " and therefore," he adds, "if all senarii that present an anapast in the third place are corrupt, it will not from thence be deducible that all those require correction which present anapæsts in other positions. If indeed we resolve to eject the anapæst altogether, we must inquire whether it is to be ejected for causes inherent in its own nature, or for causes external to its nature. As to its nature, it must be allowed that though it is not altogether adapted to the gravity of the tragic trimeter, yet that it is not altogether at variance with it, since it is admitted with such frequency in the case of proper names. We must suppose, accordingly, that it was not admitted except under the strong obligation of necessity, as when the poets were compelled to use words for which they could not substitute others; of which kind of words there might not only be proper names, but other words, that could not conveniently be changed, and in the use of such words who would be offended at the introduction of an anapæst?"* We need not follow Hermann's rea

* Præf. in Hec. p. xlviii.

PORSON'S ACUTENESS.

1797.]

soning any further. If Porson did not prove that an anapæst could not be used in a tragic senarius elsewhere than in the first foot, he at least made all scholars believe that it was not elsewhere used. "Should any scholar of the nineteenth century," says Elmsley, "venture to maintain the admissibility of an anapast, not included in a proper name, into any place of a Greek tragic senarius except the first foot, he would assuredly be ranked with those persons, if any such persons remain, who deny the motion of the earth, or the circulation of the blood. Before the appearance of the Preface to the 'Hecuba,' critics were divided into two sects upon this subject; the more rigid of which excluded anapasts from all the even places, whereas the other admitted them promiscuously into any place except the last. Mr. Porson, p. 6, with his usual strictness in attributing the merit of discoveries and improvements to the right owners, mentions an obscure hint of the true doctrine, which is contained in the preface to Morell's Thesaurus Græca Poëseos." But that hint fell without effect on all Morell's successors until Porson.

*

In his note on ver. 343 Porson obscurely indicates his knowledge of that kind of cæsura of the fifth foot which he afterwards called the pause, to distinguish it, as he afterwards said, from the other cæsuras, because a verse which is without any of the other cæsuras is of necessity ill-modulated, but a verse may not strike the ear as ill-modulated which wants the pause. The verse is,

Κρύπτοντα χεῖρα, καὶ πρόσωπον ἔμπαλιν,

171

*Edinb. Rev. vol. xix. p. 65.

and the note,

“Aldus reads Toйμπаλш, but several manuscripts, as well as Eustathius on Il. A. p. 129, 14-97, 31, have μmaλiv, which makes indeed no difference as to the sense, but a very great difference as to the metre. What I mean will perhaps be better understood, if I assert that there occur in the Tragic poets very few verses resembling the first verse of the Ion,' ̓́Ατλας ὁ χαλκέοισι νώτοις οὐρανόν.”

The rule regarding the pause he afterwards expressed thus: If a senarius end in a word which forms a cretic, and a word of more than one syllable precede the cretic, the fifth foot ought to be an iambus, the variations and exceptions, which we need not notice here, being subjoined. Porson discovered that the tragic poets observed this rule, but did not pretend to suggest any reason for their observation of it. Hermann, in his edition of the "Hecuba," said that the reason was as follows:

"The reason why such a position of the words, xaλkέoiσi váτois ovρavóv, must displease the ear, is this. Since at the end of a verse, when the lungs of an actor are almost exhausted, a gentler flow of pronunciation is required, all harsher sounds offend the ear, and offend it the more the greater the difficulty of uttering them, such a collocation of the words as disjoins the latter portion of the verse by too lengthened a sound from the former, and thus hinders and retards the easy flow of the numbers, is carefully avoided.”

This solution of the difficulty receives great approbation from Elmsley. "It is by no means necessary," says he, “to have enacted the part of Mercury in the 'Ion' of Euripides, in order to be sensible of the relief which is afforded to the exhausted lungs' of a corpu

6

1797.]

ELMSLEY'S CRITICISM ON HERMANN.

lent performer by that variation of the verse in question, ̓́Ατλας ὁ νώτοις χαλκέοισιν οὐρανόν. Upon the

whole it is not without reason that Mr. Hermann exults in the following terms over the inaptitude of his rival to investigate the causes of those facts which he himself had sufficient sagacity to discover. Id sponte animadvertisset vir doctissimus, si non satis haberet observare, sed in caussas etiam earum rerum quas observaret inquirendum putârit. This the learned critic would readily have discovered, if he had not been content merely to observe, but had thought proper to inquire into the causes of what he observed."*

...

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But it will surely not appear to every one that this suggestion of Hermann's deserves all the commendation which Elmsley was so ready to bestow upon it. It supposes that an actor, when he began to pronounce a speech, took in just sufficient breath to carry him through the first verse; that when he reached the end of the verse his lungs were exhausted and emptied; that, consequently, he paused at the end of it, and inhaled another supply of breath to carry him through the second verse; and proceeded thus, pausing at the end of every verse for breath, through a whole speech, however long it might be. But doubtless pauses were made by actors, not at the end of every verse for breath, but in accordance with the requirements of the sense. The arrangement of the words in váτois oùpavóv offended the ears of an audience because it violated a recognised principle of the iambic metre, not because the lungs of a corpulent performer would find a difficulty in pro

Edinb. Review, vol. xix. p. 82.

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