not only to seek for musical effects and cadences at large, but also to be fastidious as to syllables, and to avoid harsh or difficult conjunctions of consonants, except when there might be a musical reason for harshness or difficulty.
In the management of the letter s
, the frequency of which in English is one of the faults of the speech, he will be found, I believe, most careful and skilful.
More rarely, I think, than in Shakespeare
will one word ending in s
be found followed immediately in Milton
by another word beginning with the same letter; or, if he does occasionally pen such a phrase as Moab's sons
, it will be difficult to find in him, I believe, such a harsher example as earth's substance
, of which many writers would think nothing.
[With the index to back him Mr. Masson
could safely say this.] The same delicacy of ear is even more apparent in his management of the sh
He has it often, of course; but it may be noted that he rejects it in his verse when he can. He writes Basan
for Bashan, Sittim
for Shittim, Silo
for Shiloh, Asdod
. Still more, however, does he seem to have been wary of the compound sound ch
as in church
. Of his sensitiveness to this sound in excess there is a curious proof in his prose pamphlet entitled “An Apology against a Pamphlet, called A Modest Completion, etc.,” where, having occasion to quote these lines from one of the Satires1
of his opponent, Bishop Hall
Teach each hollow grove to sound his love,
Wearying echo with one changeless word,
he adds, ironically, ‘And so he well might, and all his auditory besides, with his teach each