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in his yard, to guard his house from burglary, and that dog strays into the neighbouring field and there worries a man, there wants, in this case, the murderous and malicious spirit. The dog was placed in the yard for the legal purpose of guarding the house against burglary; for which crime, if caught in the act of perpetrating it, a man may legally be put to death. There was no primary intention here of putting a mere trespasser to death. So, if a man keep a ferocious bull, not for agricultural purposes, but for the express purpose of repelling trespassers, and that bull occasion the death of a trespasser, it is murder: the intentional infliction of death by any means for such sort of offences, constitutes the murder: a right to kill for such reasons, cannot be acquired by the foolhardiness of the trespasser, nor by any sort of notice or publicity. If a man were to blow a trumpet all over the country, and say that he would shoot any man who asked him how he did; Would he acquire a right to do so by such notice? Does mere publication of an unlawful intention make the action lawful which follows? If notice is the principle which consecrates this mode of destroying human beings, I wish my brothers had been a little more clear, or a little more unanimous, as to what is meant by this notice. Must the notice be always actual, or is it sufficient that it is probable? May these guns act only against those who have read the notice, or against all who might have read the notice? The truth is, that the practice is so enormous, and the opinions of the most learned men so various, that a declaratory law upon the subject is imperiously required. Common humanity required it, after the extraordinary difference of opinion which occurred in the case of Dean and Clayton.
For these reasons, I am compelled to differ from my learned brothers. We have all, I am sure, the common object of doing justice in such cases as these: we can have no possible motive for doing otherwise. Where such a superiority of talents and numbers is against me, I must of course be wrong; but I think it better to publish my own errors, than to subscribe to opinions of the justice of which I am not convinced. To destroy a trespasser with such machines, I think would be murder; to set such uncontrollable machines for the purpose of committing this murder, I think would be indictable; and I am therefore of opinion, that he who suffers from such machines has a fair ground of action, in spite of any notice; for it is not in the power of notice to make them lawful.
ART. IX. A Vision of Judgment. By ROBERT SOUTHEY, Esq. LL. D. Poet-Laureate, Member of the Royal Spanish Academy, of the Royal Spanish Academy of History, and of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, &c. 4to. pp. 110.
THE HE Laureate has now been out of song for a long time: But we had comforted ourselves with the supposition that he was only growing fat and lazy, like other courtiers-or yielding to the common propensity of placemen, to turn their places into Sinecures. The strain, however, of this publication, and indeed of some that went before it, makes us apprehensive that a worse thing has befallen him :-that his prolific Muse, in short, is at last effete-that his vein is exhausted-and that the worthy inditer of Epics is falling gently into dotage-at least in his poetical capacity. Most of his Laureate productions indeed have pointed pretty plainly to this consummation-but none ever gave such signs as this of confirmed deliration: and it is really a pity that it should be so exceedingly dull and wordy that few voluntary readers can be expected to get through with it; as there is every reason to think that it might afford some instructive views as to the spontaneous decomposition of an artificial poet, and of the tenacity with which his natural propensities adhere to him, after the factitious ornaments by which they were originally relieved have worn off or crumbled into decay. In so far as we can judge, the staple of the piece is a flat and heavy eulogy on Kings and Ministers, and on the Poet himself and his admirers enlivened, in a sickly way, by the perpetual outbreakings of a puny spite at those who dissent from his present creed in politics, and of a lamentable soreness at the success of those who have laughed at his affectations, or eclipsed, by their superior talents, his former fame as a poet. All this, too, is embodied in the form of a Vision,-which is incredibly absurd and extravagant, without one trait of originality or invention; and, to make it the more gracious, served up in English Hexameters, of which the learned author, by some strange hallucination, continually mistakes himself for the inventor.
One great and avowed object indeed of the publication, is to bring forward this grand and original Experiment in English versification; and no small part of it is occupied in extolling its merit and importance. This, in particular, is the chief business of a long and elaborate prefatory dissertation (though it contains, besides, a very edifying discourse on what the Laureate is pleased to call the Satanic School of Poetry, and other things as
notable); and it even forms the leading topic in the author's loyal Dedication to the King, where, among other courtly and complimentary things, his Majesty is asked, And to whom could an Experiment, which perhaps may be considered hereafter as of some importance in English Poetry, be so fitly inscribed as to the Royal and munificent Patron of Science, Art ⚫ and Literature?' We must begin, therefore, with some observations on these precious hexameters.
In the first place, then, all the world knows that this is not a measure of Mr Southey's invention-and that English hexameters have been very frequently attempted, from the time of Elizabeth or earlier, down to our own days. Mr Southey himself, indeed, knows this well enough; for he has enumerated some half score of adventurers who have preceded him in this rugged path, beginning with the Virgin Queen herself, and ending with his living friend Mr Taylor of Norwich. What then does he mean by talking continually, and with such visible complacency, of the experiment he has here devised, and of the example he is setting to future generations of versifiers?-summing up the whole with this modest misapplication of the legitimate boast of our first English satirist―
'I first adventure-follow me who list.'
He discovers, to be sure, that these ingenious persons, including Sir Philip Sydney, Gabriel Harvey, Stanihurst, and Fraunce, all bungled the business in various ways, and that he alone knows how to do it effectually; and lays claim, in particular, to two improvements, by the help of which he has no doubt that his patent hexameters will speedily be naturalized among our best English measures. These are, 1st, to substitute generally, and by preference, a Trochee for a Spondee, in the ordinary structure of the line; and, 2d, occasionally to begin, or even proceed through the four first feet, with an Iambus, or indeed any other foot of two or three syllables.' Now, in so far as these departures from the ancient standard are only occasional, though very frequent, it is certain that they occur familiarly in all previous attempts at this sort of metre;though it undoubtedly appeared to their authors, as we confess it still does to us, that they implied a great defect, and not a perfection, in their execution; and that the necessity which rendered them so frequent, was the most conclusive proof of the inherent unfitness of the language for the measure. The learned Laureate's deviations from his classical model, therefore, have not the least pretension to novelty; and his only claim to originality in the matter, consists in his having done intentionally, what other people never did when they could help it; and in his
opinion, that these voluntary transgressions make his perform ance much more admirable.
The originality of the experiment, however, is really as little a matter of importance as it can be of reasonable doubt. The only question is about its success-and upon this we really have no hesitation in saying, without reserve or qualification, that we are confident that the hexameter line never can be made a legitimate English measure, and that Mr Southey's pretended improvements serve only, as we have already hinted, to render it more inadmissible. It is idle perhaps, and we really believe it is needless, to offer any other proof of this assertion than will be supplied at once by the ears of every reader, learned or unlearned, and by the decisive fact of the long and total abandonment of the attempt (except in a few short exercises of mere curiosity or burlesque), after it had been industriously and vigorously made under the happiest auspices, and in the best age of our poetry. It will not be difficult, however, to explain, in a few words, why it appears to us that this particular measure never can be naturalized in our language.
The primary and fundamental cause undoubtedly is, that our versification does not depend, like that of the classical languages, on any succession of long and short, but of accented and unaccented syllables; and the second is, that, upon any system, it contains too few proper spondees to be capable of supporting the movement of this particular verse. The consequence is, as we shall show immediately, that the first four feet of an English hexameter (unless it be entirely Dactylic) really are not in any respect metrical, or different from common prose.
Versification consists in the recurrence of certain marked or conspicuous sounds, at regular and fixed intervals. These intervals are fixed, in almost all cases, by the number of separate
It is truly edifying to observe the very characteristic tone in which the worthy Laureate enters upon the discussion of this dry and somewhat technical subject. Having fretted himself, apparently by the recollection of his critics-whom in a vein of bitter merriment he always calls dunces-he says he has no explanations for them: But to the great majority of my readers who will take up the book without malevolence, and having a proper sense of Honour in themselves, will believe the declarations of a writer whose Veracity they have no reason to doubt, I will state-What? not, as any one would imagine from this preamble, something touching the learned person's own character or conduct, but what are the defects, and what the advantages, of the metre which is here submitted to their judgment!! This is putting the veracity of an author and the ho nour of his readers in issue with a vengeance!
sounds or syllables of which the series is composed;-but, in the ancient languages, this principle was modified, by taking into account the time also which was occupied in the pronunciation. One long syllable was, in those languages, equivalent to two short ones-as in the instance of single and double time in music: And therefore a Dactyl, consisting of one long and two short syllables, was considered as equal to a Spondee, consisting of two long syllables. It filled exactly the same space in the verse; and, consequently, as long as an equal number of these feet regularly occurred between the commencement and the close of a line, the intervals were necessarily quite regular, the measure unbroken and uniform, and the line properly metrical.
In English, however, as we have already intimated, the verse proceeds not by the succession of long and short, but of accented and unaccented syllables; and, though we are not absolutely without the distinction of long and short in the language, it is certain that it is not upon this distinction that the scheme of our versification is founded-nor is the observance of it at all essential to the technical exactness of our metres. In itself, however, this is no disadvantage or proof of inferiority. It cannot be disputed, that the regular recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables will make just as good verse as of long and short ones; and if we chuse, on a certain analogy or misapprehension, to hold an accented syllable in our own tongue, as in some respects akin to a long one in the Greek and Latin, and, upon this analogy, to transfer the names of the ancient feet and measures to our own plan of versification, there can be no possible harm in calling an accented syllable, followed by an unaccented one, a Trochee-one not accented followed by one that is, an Iambus-and one accented, followed by two that are not, a Dactyl. Nor can it be doubted, that, by the regular recurrence of these feet, so constructed, we may make very good verses; which, on the same analogy, we may, if we please, call Trochaic, Iambic, and Dactylic respectively. In the same way, we may very innocently call two accented syllables, standing together, a Spondee, and may even employ this foot also, when we meet with it, in versification, with good effect. So far, all is well and clear. But when we come to construct Hexameter verses out of such Spondees and Dactyls as these, we shall speedily find that the laws and the harmony of the ancient metre are not to be transferred into our system quite so easily as their names may be borrowed or assumed.
It is one of the peculiarities of this metre, that, in the first four feet, or in two thirds of each line, dactyls and spondees may be arbitrarily and indiscriminately interchanged; and this, we conceive, is permitted, merely because those two feet, when