The ordinary verseThe ordinary line in blank verse consists of five feet of two syllables each, the second syllable in each foot being accented. “We bóth | have féd | as wéll, | and wé | can bóth
Endúre | the wínt | er's cóld | as wéll | as hé.” J. C. i. 2. 98-9. This line is too monotonous and formal for frequent use. The metre is therefore varied, sometimes (1) by changing the position of the accent, sometimes (2) by introducing trisyllabic and monosyllabic feet. These licences are, however, subject to certain laws. It would be a mistake to suppose that Shakespeare in his tragic metre introduces the trisyllabic or monosyllabic foot at random. Some sounds and collections of sounds are peculiarly adapted for monosyllabic and trisyllabic feet. It is part of the purpose of the following paragraphs to indicate the laws which regulate these licences. In many cases it is impossible to tell whether in a trisyllabic foot an unemphatic syllable is merely slurred or wholly suppressed, as for instance the first e in "different." Such a foot may be called either dissyllabic or quasi-trisyllabic.
The "pause-accent"The accent after a pause is frequently on the first syllable. The pause is generally at the end of the line, and hence it is on the first foot of the following line that this, which may be called the "pause-accent," is mostly found. The first syllable of initial lines also can, of course, be thus accented. It will be seen that in the middle of the line these pause-accents generally follow emphasized monosyllables. (See 480-6.) “Cómfort, | my liége! | why loóks | your gráce | so pále?” Rich. II. iii. 2. 75. Examples of the "pause-accent" not at the beginning. (1) “Feéd and | regárd | him nót. | Aré you | a mán?” Macbeth, iii. 4. 58. Sometimes the pause is slight, little more than the time necessary for recovery after an emphatic monosyllable. (2) “Be ín | their flów | ing cúps | fréshly | remémber'd.” Hen. V. iv. 3. 55. So arrange “And thése | fiátter | ing stréams, | and máke | our fáces.” Macbeth, iii. 2. 33. "These" may be emphasized. (See 484.) (3) “Whó would | beliéve | me. O'! | péril | ous móuths.” M. for M. ii. 4. 172. (4) “Afféc | tion, poóh! | You spéak | --líke a | green gírl.” Hamlet, i. 3. 101. “Wé shall | be cáll'd | -- púrgers, | not múr | derérs.” J. C. ii. 1. 180. (5) “The lífe | of cóm | fort. Bút | for thée, | féllow.” Cymb. iv. 3. 9. The old pronunciation "fellów" is probably not Shakespearian. In (3) (4) and (5) "O," "speak," "call'd," and "thee" may, perhaps, be regarded as dissyllables (see 482-4), and the following foot a quasi-trisyllabic one. There is little practical difference between the two methods of scansion. (6) “Sénseless | línen! | Háppier | thereín | than I.” Cymb. i. 3. 7. Here either there is a pause between the epithet and noun, or else "senseless" may possibly be pronounced as a trisyllable, "Sénse (486) | less línen." The line is difficult. “Therefóre, | mérchant, | I'll lím | it thée | this dáy,” C. of E. i. 1. 151. seems to begin with two trochees, like Milton's famous line: “U'ni | vérsal | reproách | far wórse | to béar.” P. L. vi. 34. But "therefore" may have its accent, as marked, on the last syllable. The old pronunciation "merchánt" is not probable. Or "there" may be one foot (see 480): "Thére | fore mérchant | ." (7) “Ant. Obéy | it ón | all cáuse. |
Cleop. Párdon, | párdon.” A. and C. iii. 11. 68. is, perhaps, an instance of two consecutive trochees. (There seems no ground for supposing that "pardon" is to be pronounced as in French.) But if the diphthong "cause" be pronounced as a dissyllable (see 484), the difficulty will be avoided. We find, however, a double trochee (unless "my" has dropped out) in “Sec. Cit. Cæ'sar | has hád | great wróng. |
Third Cit. Hás he, | másters?” J. C. iii. 2. 115. Even here, however, "wrong" may be a quasi-dissyllable (486). (8) Between noun and participle a pause seems natural. Often the pause represents "in" or "a-" (178). “Thy knée | bússing | the stónes.” Coriol. iii. 2. 75. “The smíle | mócking | the sígh.” Cymb. iv. 2. 54. “My wínd | cóoling | my bróth.” M. of V. i. 1. 22. In these lines the foot following the emphasized monosyllable may (as an alternative to the "pause-accent") be regarded as quasi-trisyllabic.
Emphatic accentsEmphatic Accents. The syllable that receives an accent is by no means necessarily emphatic. It must be emphatic relatively to the unaccented syllable or syllables in the same foot, but it may be much less emphatic than other accented syllables in the same verse. Thus the last syllable of "injuries," though accented, is unemphatic in “The ín | juríes | that théy | themsélves | procúre.” Lear, ii. 4. 303. Mr. Ellis (Early English Pronunciation, part i. p. 334) says that "it is a mistake to suppose that there are commonly or regularly five stresses, one to each measure." From an analysis of several tragic lines of Shakespeare, taken from different plays, I should say that rather less than one of three has the full number of five emphatic accents. About two out of three have four, and one out of fifteen has three. But as different readers will emphasize differently, not much importance can be attached to such results. It is of more importance to remember, (1) that the first foot almost always has an emphatic accent; (2) that two unemphatìc accents rarely, if ever, come together ("for" may perhaps be emphatic in “Heár it | not, Dún | can; fór | it ís | a knéll,” Macbeth, ii. 1. 63); and (3) that there is generally an emphatic accent on the third or fourth foot. The five emphatic accents are common in verses that have a pauseaccent at the beginning or in the middle of the line. “Náture | seems déad, | and wíck | ed dréams | abúse.” Macbeth, ii. 1. 50. “The hánd | le tóward | my hánd. | Cóme, let | me clútch
thee.” Ib. ii. 1. 34. And in antithetical lines: “I háve | thee nót, | and yét | I sée | thee stíll.” Macbeth, ii. 1. 35. “Bríng with | thee aírs | from héaven | or blásts | from héll.” Hamlet, i. 4. 41.
The "pause-extra-syllable"An extra syllable is frequently added before a pause, especially at the end of a line: （a) “'Tis nót | alóne | my ínk | y clóak, | good móther.” Hamlet, i. 2. 77. but also at the end of the second foot: （b) “For míne | own sáfeties; | you máy | be ríght | ly júst.” Macbeth, iv. 3. 30. and, less frequently, at the end of the third foot: （c) “For góod | ness dáres | not chéck thee; | wear thoú | thy
wróngs.” Macbeth, iv. 3. 33. and, rarely, at the end of the fourth foot: （d) “With áll | my hón | ours ón | my bróther: | whereón.” Temp. i. 2. 127. But see 466. “So déar | the lóve | my peó | ple bóre me: | nor sét.” Ib. i. 2. 141.
"pause-extra-syllable" rarely a monosyllable except in Henry VIII.The extra syllable is very rarely a monosyllable, still more rarely an emphatic monosyllable. The reason is obvious. Since in English we have no enclitics, the least emphatic monosyllables will generally be prepositions and conjunctions. These carry the attention forward instead of backward, and are therefore inconsistent with a pause, and besides to some extent emphatic. The fact that in Henry VIII., and in no other play of Shakespeare's, constant exceptions are found to this rule, seems to me a sufficient proof that Shakespeare did not write that play. “Go gíve | 'em wél | come; yóu | can spéak | the Frénch
tongue.” Hen. VIII. i. 4. 57. “Féll by | our sérv | ants, by | those mén | we lóv'd most.” Ib. ii. 1. 122. “Be súre | you bé | not lóose; | for thóse | you máke
friends.” Hen. VIII. ii. 1. 127. “To sí | lence én | vious tóngues. | Be júst | and feár not.” Ib. iii. 2. 447. So Hen. VIII. ii. 1. 67, 78, 97; and seven times in iii. 2. 442-451; eight times in iv. 2. 51-80. Even where the extra syllable is not a monosyllable it occurs so regularly, and in verses of such a measured cadence, as almost to give the effect of a trochaic1 line with an extra syllable at the beginning, thus: “In || áll my | míser | íes; but | thóu hast | fórced me
Out || óf (457a) thy | hónest | trúth to | pláy the | wóman.
Let's || drý our | éyes:and | thús far | héar me, | Crómwell:
And || whén 1 | ám for- | gótten, | ás I | sháll be,
And || sléep in | dúll cold | márble | whére no | méntion
Of || mé must | móre be | héard of, | sáy I | táught thee.
Say, || Wólsey, | thát once | tród the | wáys of | glóry
And || sóunded | áll the | dépths and | shóals of | hónour,
Found || thée a | wáy, out | óf (457 a) his | wréck, to | ríse in
A || súre and | sáfe one, | thóugh thy | máster | míssed it.” Hen. VIII. iii. 2. 430-9. It may be safely said that this is not Shakespearian. "Boy" is unaccented and almost redundant in “I párt | ly knów | the mán: | go cáll | him híther, boy.” (Folio) Rich. III. iv. 2. 41. (Hither, a monosyllable, see 189.) And even here the Globe is, perhaps, right in taking "Boy exit" to be a stage direction. In “Bíd him | make háste | and meét | me át | the Nórth
gate,” T. G. of V. iii. 1. 258. "gate" is an unemphatic syllable in "Nórthgate," like our "Néwgate." So “My mén | should cáll | me lórd: | I ám | yoúr good-man.” T. of Sh. Ind. 2. 107. “A hált | er grát | is: nó | thing élse, | for Gód's-sake.” M. of V. iv. 1. 379. "Parts," like "sides," is unemphatic, and "both" is strongly emphasized, in “Ráther | to shów | a nób | le gráce | to bóth parts.” Coriol. v. 3. 121. So "out" is emphatic in “We'll háve | a swásh | ing ánd | a márt | ial oútside.” A. Y. L. i. 3. 122. The 's for "is" is found at the end of a line in “Perceive I speak sincerely, and high note's
Ta'en of your many virtues.” Hen. VIII. ii. 3. 59.
Unaccented monosyllablesUnaccented Monosyllables. Provided there be only one accented syllable, there may be more than two syllables in any foot. "It is he" is as much a foot as "'tis he;" "we will serve" as "we'll serve;" "it is over" as "'tis o'er." Naturally it is among pronouns and the auxiliary verbs that we must look for unemphatic syllables in the Shakespearian verse. Sometimes the unemphatic nature of the syllable is indicated by a contraction in the spelling. (See 460.) Often, however, syllables must be dropped or slurred in sound, although they are expressed to the sight. Thus in “Províde thee | two próp | er pál | freys, bláck | as jet,” T. A. v. 2. 50. "thee" is nearly redundant, and therefore unemphatic. "If" and "the" are scarcely pronounced in “And ín it | are the lórds | of Yórk, | Bérkeley, | and Séymour.” Rich. II. ii. 3. 55. “Mir. I év | er sáw | so nóble. |
Prosp. It goes ón, | I sée.” Temp. i. 2. 419. “Bút that | the séa, | moúnting | to the wél | kin's chéek.” Ib. i. 2. 4. ("The" need not be part of a quadrisyllabic foot, nor be suppressed in pronouncing “The cúr | iósi | ty of ná | tions tó | depríve me.” Lear, i. 2. 4. Compare, possibly, “But I have ever had that cúriós（i）ty.” B. and F. (Nares).) So "to," the sign of the infinitive, is almost always unemphatic, and is therefore slurred, especially where it precedes a vowel. Thus: “In séeming | to augmént | it wástes | it. Bé | advís'd.” Hen. VIII. i. 1. 145. where "in" before the participle is redundant and unemphatic. “For trúth | to (t') over(o'er)péer. | Ráther | than fóol | it só.” Coriol. ii. 3. 128. So the "I" before "beseech" (which is often omitted, as Temp. ii. 1. 1), even when inserted, is often redundant as far as sound goes. “（I) beseéch | your májes | ty, gíve | me léave | to gó.” 2 Hen. VI. ii. 3. 20. “（I) beséech | your grác | es bóth | to pár | don mé.” Rich. III. i. 1. 84. So Ib. 103. Perhaps “（I) pray thee (prithee) stáy | with ús, | go nót | to Wítt | enbérg,” Hamlet, i. 2. 119. though this verse may be better scanned “I práy | thee stáy | with us, | go nót | to Wíttenberg.” See 469. “Let me sée, | let me sée; | ís not | the léaf | turn'd dówn?” J. C. iv. 3. 273. So (if not 501) “And I' | will kíss | thy fóot: | (I) prithee bé | my gód.” Temp. ii. 2. 152. "With you" is "wi' you" (as in "good-bye" for "God be with you"); "the" is th', and "of" is slurred in “Two nó | ble párt | ners wíth you; | the old dúch | ess
of Nórfolk.” Hen. VIII. v. 3. 168. To write these lines in prose, as in the Folio and Globe, makes an extraordinary and inexplicable break in a scene which is wholly verse. For the quasi-suppression of of see “The bás | tard of O'r | leáns | with hím | is joín'd,
The dúke | of Alén | çon fií | eth tó | his síde.” 1 Hen. VI. i. 1. 92, 93. In the Tempest this use of unaccented monosyllables in trisyllabic feet is very common. “Go máke | thysélf | like a nýmph | o' the séa; | be súbject
To no síght | but thíne | and míne.” Temp. i. 2. 301. Even in the more regular lines of the Sonnets these superfluous syllables are allowed in the foot. Thus: “Excúse | not sí | lence só; | for 't lies | in thée.” Sonn. 101. And even in rhyming lines of the plays: “Cáll them | agaín, | sweet prínce, | accépt | their suít;
I'f you | dený | them, áll | the lánd | will rúe 't.” Rich. III. iii. 7. 221. This sometimes modifies the scansion. "Hour" is a dissyllable, and 't is absorbed, in “You knów | I gáve 't | you hálf | an hoú | r sínce.” C. of E. iv. 1. 65. Almost any syllables, however lengthy in pronunciation, can be used as the unaccented syllables in a trisyllabic foot, provided they are unemphatic. It is not usual, however, to find two such unaccented syllables as “Which most gíb | inglý, | ungráve | ly hé | did fáshion.” Coriol. ii. 3. 233.
Accented monosyllablesAccented monosyllables. On the other hand, sometimes an unemphatic monosyllable is allowed to stand in an emphatic place, and to receive an accent. This is particularly the case with conjunctions and prepositions at the end of the line. We still in conversation emphasize the conjunctions "but," "and," "for," &c. before a pause, and the end of the line (which rarely allows a final monosyllable to be light, unless it be an extra-syllable) necessitates some kind of pause. Hence “This my mean task
Would be as heavy to me as odious, but
The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead.” Temp. iii. 1. 5. “Or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow'd and
The fraughting souls within her.” Ib. i. 2. 12. “Freed and enfranchised, not a party to
The anger of the king, nor guilty of
(If any be) the trespass of the queen.” W. T. ii. 2. 62, 63. So Temp. iii. 2. 33, iv. 1. 149; W. T. i. 2. 372, 420, 425, 432, 449, 461, &c. The seems to have been regarded as capable of more emphasis than with us: “Whose shadow the dismissed bachelor loves.” Temp. iv. 1. 67. “With silken streamers the young Phœbus fanning.” Hen. V. iii. Prol. 6. “And your great uncle's, Edward the Black Prince.” Ib. i. 1. 105, 112. “And Prosp'ro (469) the prime duke, being (470) so reputed.” Temp. i. 2. 72. “Your breath first kindled the dead coal of war.” K. J. v. 2. 83. “Omitting the sweet benefit of time.” T. G. of V. ii. 4. 65. “So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle.” M. N. D. iv. 1. 47. “Then, my queen, in silence sad,
Trip we after the night's shade.” Ib. iv. 1. 101. “His brother's death at Bristol the Lord Scroop.” 1 Hen. IV. i. 3. 271. “So please you something touching the Lord Hamlet.” Hamlet, i. 3. 89. “Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour.” Coriol. v. 3. 149, 151. In most of these cases the precedes a monosyllable which may be lengthened, thus: “Your bréath | first kíndled | the déa | d (484) cóal | of wár.” So Temp. i. 2. 196, 204; ii. 2. 164; iv. 1. 153. Compare “Oh, weep for Adonais. The quick dreams.” SHELLEY, Adonais, 82. But this explanation does not avail for the first example, nor for “That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace.” Sonn. 34. “More needs she the divine than the physician.” Macb. v. 1. 82. (Unless, as in Rich. II. i. 1. 154, "physician" has two accents:
More néeds she | the divíne | thán the | physí | cián.)On the whole there seems no doubt that "the" is sometimes allowed to have an accent, though not (457 a) an emphatic accent. Scan thus: “A dévil (466), | a bór | n (485) dév | il (475), ón | whose
náture.” Tempest, iv. 1. 188. avoiding the accent on a. The in “Then méet | and joín. | Jove's líght | nings, thé | precúrsors,” Tempest, i. 2. 201. seems to require the accent. But "light(e)nings" is a trisyllable before a pause in Lear, iv. 7. 35 (see 477), and perhaps even the slight pause here may justify us in scanning--
Jove's líght | (e)níngs, | the precúrsors.
Accented monosyllabic prepositionsAccented Monosyllabic Prepositions. Walker (Crit. on Shakespeare, ii. 173-5) proves conclusively that "of" in "out of" frequently has the accent. Thus: “The fount out of which with their holy hands.” B. and F. “Into a relapse; or but suppose out of.” MASSINGER. “Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt.” DRAYTON. Many other passages quoted by Walker are doubtful, but he brings forward a statement of Daniel, who, remarking that a trochee is inadmissible at the beginning of an iambic verse of four feet, instances:
Yearly out of his wat'ry cell,which shows that he regarded "out óf" as an iambus. Walker conjectures "that the pronunciation (of monosyllabic prepositions) was in James the First's time beginning to fluctuate, and that Massinger was a partisan of the old mode." Hence, probably, the prepositions received the accent in “Such mén | as hé | be né | ver át | heart's éase.” J. C. i. 1. 208. “Therefóre (490), | out óf | thy lóng | expér | ienc'd tíme.” R. and J. iv. 1. 60; Coriol. i. 10. 19. “Vaunt cóur | iers tó | oak-cléav | ing thún | der-bólts.” Lear, iii. 2. 5. So Hen. VIII. iii. 2. 431, 438. “To bríng | but fíve | and twén | ty; tó | no móre.” Lear, ii. 4. 251. “Lor. Who únd | ertákes | you tó | your end. |
Vaux. Prepáre there.” Hen. VIII. ii. 2. 97. For this reason I think it probable that "to" in "in-to," "un-to," sometimes receives the accent, thus: “That év | er lóve | did máke | thee rún | intó.” A. Y. L. ii. 4. 35. “Came thén | intó | my mínd, | and yét | my mínd.” Lear, iv. 1. 36. “Fán you | intó | despáir. | Have the pów | er stíll.” Coriol. iii. 3. 127. “I had thóught, | by mák | ing thís | well knówn | untó you.” Lear, i. 4. 224; M. of V. v. 1. 169. “By thís | vile cón | quest sháll | attaín | untó.” J. C. v. 5. 38; Rich. III. iii. 5. 109. “Discúss | untó | me. A'rt | thou óff | icér?” Hen. V. iv. 1. 38. (But this is Pistol.) With in "without" seems accented in “That wón | you wíth | out blóws.” Coriol. iii. 3. 133.