the other in his poems.
The unmanageable verses in Milton
are very few, and all of them occur in works printed after his blindness had lessened the chances of supervision and increased those of error.
There are only two, indeed, which seem to me wholly indigestible as they stand.
Burnt after them to the bottomless pit,
With them from bliss to the bottomless deep.
This certainly looks like a case where a word had dropped out or had been stricken out by some proof-reader who limited the number of syllables in a pentameter verse by that of his finger-ends.
notices only the first of these lines, and says that to make it regular by accenting the word bottomless
on the second syllable would be ‘too horrible.’
Certainly not, if Milton
so accented it, any more than blasphemous
and twenty more which sound oddly to us now. However that may be, Milton
could not have intended to close not only a period, but a paragraph also, with an unmusical verse, and in the only other passage where the word occurs it is accented as now on the first syllable:
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell.
is a word which, like bosom
, may be monosyllabic or dissyllabic according to circumstances, I am persuaded that the last passage quoted (and all three refer to the same event) gives us the word wanting in the two others, and that Milton
wrote, or meant to write,—
Burnt after them down to the bottomless pit,
which leaves in the verse precisely the kind of ripple that Milton