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[292] significance. This he probably caught from Marlowe, traces of whom are frequent in him. There is certainly something of what afterwards came to be called Miltonic in more than one passage of ‘Tamburlaine,’ a play in which gigantic force seems struggling from the block, as in Michel Angelo's Dawn.

Mr. Masson's remarks on the versification of Milton are, in the main, judicious, but when he ventures on particulars, one cannot always agree with him. He seems to understand that our prosody is accentual merely, and yet, when he comes to what he calls variations, he talks of the ‘substitution of the Trochee, the Pyrrhic, or the Spondee, for the regular Iambus, or of the Anapaest, the Dactyl, the Tribrach, etc., for the same.’ This is always misleading. The shift of the accent in what Mr. Masson calls ‘dissyllabic variations’ is common to all pentameter verse, and, in the other case, most of the words cited as trisyllables either were not so in Milton's day,1 or were so or not at choice of the poet, according to their place in the verse. There is not an elision of Milton's without precedent in the dramatists from whom he learned to write blank-verse. Milton was a greater metrist than any of them, except Marlowe and Shakespeare, and he employed the elision (or the slur) oftener than they to give a faint undulation or retardation to his verse, only because his epic form demanded it more for variety's sake. How Milton would have read them, is another question. He certainly often marked them by an apostrophe in his manuscripts. He doubtless composed according to quantity, so far as that is possible in English, and as Cowper somewhat extravagantly

1 Almost every combination of two vowels might in those days be a diphthong or not, at will. Milton's practice of elision was confirmed and sometimes (perhaps) modified by his study of the Italians, with whose usage in this respect he closely conforms.

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