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[294]

And knowing so much, I muse thou art so poor

;

I fan away the dust flying in mine eyes

;

Flowing o'er with court news only of you and them.

All such participles (where no consonant divided the vowels) were normally of one syllable, permissibly of two.1 If Mr. Masson had studied the poets who preceded Milton as he has studied him, he would never have said that the verse

Not this rock only; his omnipresence fills,

was ‘peculiar as having a distinct syllable of over-measure.’ He retains Milton's spelling of hundred without perceiving the metrical reason for it, that d, t, p, b, &c., followed by l or r, might be either of two or of three syllables. In Marlowe we find it both ways in two consecutive verses:—

A hundred hundred] and fifty thousand horse,
Two hundred thousand foot, brave men at arms.

2 Mr. Masson is especially puzzled by verses ending in one or more unaccented syllables, and even argues in his Introduction that some of them might be reckoned Alexandrines. He cites some lines of Spenser as confirming his theory, forgetting that rhyme wholly changes the conditions of the case by throwing the accent (appreciably even now, but more emphatically in Spenser's day) on the last syllable.

A spirit and judgment equal or superior,

1 Mr. Masson is evidently not very familiar at first hand with the versification to which Milton's youthful ear had been trained, but seems to have learned something from Abbott's ‘Shakespearian Grammar’ in the interval between writing his notes and his Introduction. Walker's ‘Shakespeare's Versification’ would have been a great help to him in default of original knowledge.

2 Milton has a verse in Comus where the e is elided from the word sister by its preceding a vowel:—

Heaven keep my sister! again, again, and near!

This would have been impossible before a consonant.

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