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[298] than to a cultivated Italian would be the hearing Dante read as prose. After all, what Mr. Masson says may be reduced to the infallible axiom that poetry should be read as poetry.

Mr. Masson seems to be right in his main principles, but the examples he quotes make one doubt whether he knows what a verse is. For example, he thinks it would be a ‘horror,’ if in the verse

That invincible Samson far renowned

we should lay the stress on the first syllable of invincible. It is hard to see why this should be worse than ćonventicle or remonstrance or successor or incompatible, (the three latter used by the correct Daniel) or why Mr. Masson should clap an accent on surface merely because it comes at the end of a verse, and deny it to Ìnvincible. If one read the verse just cited with those that go with it, he will find that the accent must come on the first syllable of invincible or else the whole passage becomes chaos.1 Should we refuse to say obleeged with Pope because the fashion has changed? From its apparently greater freedom in skilful hands, blank-verse gives more scope to sciolistic theorizing and dogmatism than the rhyming pentameter couplet, but it is safe to say that no verse is good in the one that would not be good in the other when handled by a master like Dryden. Milton, like other great poets, wrote some bad verses, and it is wiser to confess that they are so than to conjure up some unimaginable reason why the reader should accept them as the better for their badness. Such a bad verse is

1 Milton himself has Ínvisible, for we cannot suppose him guilty of a verse like

Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep,

while, if read rightly, it has just one of those sweeping elisions that he loved.

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