But Dr. Warton should have remembered (what he too often forgets in his own verses) that, in spite of Dr. Johnson's dictum, poetry is not prose, and that verse only loses its advantage over the latter by invading its province.2 Verse itself is an absurdity except as an expression of some higher movement of the mind, or as an expedient to lift other minds to the same ideal level. It is the cothurnus which gives language an heroic stature. I have said that one leading characteristic of Spenser's style was its spaciousness, that he habitually dilates rather than compresses. But his way of measuring time was perfectly natural in an age when everybody did not carry a dial in his poke as now. He is the
obliged him to dilate the thing to be expressed, however unimportant, with trifling and tedious circumlocutions, namely, Faery Queen, II. II. 44:—Now hath fair Phoebe with her silver faceThat is, it is three months since I left her palace.
Thrice seen the shadows of this nether world,
Sith last I left that honorable place,
In which her royal presence is enrolled.Observations on Faery Queen, Vol. I. pp. 158, 159. 1
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1 Mr. Hughes also objects to Spenser's measure, that it is ‘closed always by a fullstop, in the same place, by which every stanza is made as it were a distinct paragraph.’ （Todd's Spenser, II. XLI.) But he could hardly have read the poem attentively, for there are numerous instances to the contrary. Spenser was a consummate master of versification, and not only did Marlowe and Shakespeare learn of him, but I have little doubt that, but for the ‘Faery Queen,’ we should never have had the varied majesty of Milton's blank-verse.
How nearly had my spirit past,to the end of the next stanza. That is, I had died but for Dr. Metcalf's boluses.
Till stopt by Metcalf's skilful hand,
To death's dark regions wide and waste
And the black river's mournful strand,
Or to,’ etc.,
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