G. Gregory Smith, ed. Elizabethan Critical Essays. 1904.
Thomas Campion (15671620)
Observations in the Art of English Poesie 1602
[Campions tract, in 12mo, bears the title-page Obseruations in the Art of English Poesie. By Thomas Campion. Wherein it is demonstratiuely prooued, and by example confirmed, that the English toong will receiue eight seuerall kinds of numbers, proper to it selfe, which are all in this booke set forth, and were neuer before this time by any man attempted. Printed at London by Richard Field for Andrew Wise. 1602. It is dedicated by Campion to Lord Buckhurst, in these words: In two things (right honorable) it is generally agreed that man excels all other creatures, in reason and speech: and in them by how much one man surpasseth an other, by so much the neerer he aspires to a celestiall essence. Poesy in all kind of speaking is the chiefe beginner and maintayner of eloquence, not only helping the eare with the acquaintance of sweet numbers, but also raysing the mind to a more high and lofty conceite. For this end haue I studyed to induce a true forme of versefying into our language: for the vulgar and vnarteficiall custome of riming hath, I know, deterd many excellent wits from the exercise of English poesy. The obseruations which I haue gathered for this purpose I humbly present to your Lordship, as to the noblest iudge of Poesy, and the most honorable protector of all industrious learning; which if your Honour shall vouchsafe to receiue, who both in your publick and priuate Poemes haue so deuinely crowned your fame, what man will dare to repine? or not striue to imitate them? Wherefore with all humility I subiect my selfe and them to your gratious fauour, beseeching you in the noblenes of your mind to take in worth so simple a present, which by some worke drawne from my more serious studies I will hereafter endeuour to excuse. Then follow these lines, entitled The Writer to his Booke:
Whether thus hasts my little booke so fast?
To Paules Churchyard. What? in those cels to stand,
The text is that of the copy in the Bodleian Library (Douce, C. 359). Two leaves which are missing (see footnotes, pp. 332, 341) are supplied from the quarto.]
Observations in the Art of English Poesy.
The first Chapter, intreating of numbers in generall.
THERE is no writing too breefe that, without obscuritie, comprehends the intent of the writer. These my late obseruations in English Poesy I haue thus briefely gathered, that they might proue the lesse troublesome in perusing, and the more apt to be retaynd in memorie. And I will first generally handle the nature of Numbers. Number is discreta quantitas: so that when we speake simply of number, we intend only the disseruerd quantity; but when we speake of a Poeme written in number, we consider not only the distinct number of the sillables, but also their value, which is contained in the length or shortnes of their sound. As in Musick we do not say a straine of so many notes, but so many sembriefes (though sometimes there are no more notes then sembriefes), so in a verse the numeration of the sillables is not so much to be obserued as their waite and due proportion. In ioyning of words to harmony there is nothing more offensiue to the eare then to place a long sillable with a short note, or a short sillable with a long note, though in the last the vowell often beares it out. The world is made by Simmetry and proportion, and is in that respect compared to Musick, and Musick to Poetry: for Terence saith, speaking of Poets, artem qui tractant musicam, confounding Musick and Poesy together. What musick can there be where there is no proportion obserued? Learning first flourished in Greece; from thence it was deriued vnto the Romaines, both diligent obseruers of the number and quantity of sillables, not in their verses only but likewise in their prose. Learning, after the declining of the Romaine Empire and the pollution of their language through the conquest of the Barbarians, lay most pitifully deformed till the time of Erasmus, Rewcline, Sir Thomas More, and other learned men of that age, who brought the Latine toong again to light, redeeming it with much labour out of the hands of the illiterate Monks and Friers: as a scoffing booke, entituled Epistolae obscurorum virorum, may sufficiently testifie. In those lack-learning times, and in barbarized Italy, began that vulgar and easie kind of Poesie which is now in vse throughout most parts of Christendome, which we abusively call Rime and Meeter, of Rithmus and Metrum, of which I will now discourse.
The second Chapter, declaring the vnaptnesse of Rime in Poesie.
I am not ignorant that whosoeuer shall by way of reprehension examine the imperfections of Rime must encounter with many glorious enemies, and those very expert and ready at their weapon, that can if neede be extempore (as they say) rime a man to death. Besides there is growne a kind of prescription in the vse of Rime, to forestall the right of true numbers, as also the consent of many nations, against all which it may seeme a thing almost impossible and vaine to contend. All this and more can not yet deterre me from a lawful defence of perfection, or make me any whit the sooner adheare to that which is lame and vnbeseeming. For custome I alleage that ill vses are to be abolisht, and that things naturally imperfect can not be perfected by vse. Old customes, if they be better, why should they not be recald, as the yet florishing custome of numerous poesy vsed among the Romanes and Grecians? But the vnaptnes of our toongs and the difficultie of imitation dishartens vs: againe, the facilitie and popularitie of Rime creates as many Poets as a hot sommer flies.
But let me now examine the nature of that which we call Rime. By Rime is vnderstoode that which ends in the like sound, so that verses in such maner composed yeeld but a continual repetition of that Rhetoricall figure which we tearme similiter desinentia, and that, being but figura verbi, ought (as Tully and all other Rhetoritians have iudicially obserud) sparingly to be vsd, least it should offend the eare with tedious affectation. Such was that absurd following of the letter amongst our English so much of late affected, but now hist out of Paules Churchyard: which foolish figuratiue repetition crept also into the Latine toong, as it is manifest in the booke of Ps called praelia porcorum, and another pamphlet all of Fs which I haue seene imprinted; but I will leaue these follies to their owne ruine, and returne to the matter intended. The eare is a rationall sence and a chiefe iudge of proportion; but in our kind of riming what proportion is there kept where there remaines such a confused inequalitie of sillables? Iambick and Trochaick feete, which are opposed by nature, are by all Rimers confounded; nay, oftentimes they place instead of an Iambick the foot Pyrrychius, consisting of two short sillables, curtalling their verse, which they supply in reading with a ridiculous and vnapt drawing of their speech. As for example:
Was it my desteny, or dismall chaunce?
In this verse the two last sillables of the word Desteny, being both short, and standing for a whole foote in the verse, cause the line to fall out shorter then it ought by nature. The like impure errors haue in time of rudenesse bene vsed in the Latine toong, as the Carmina prouerbialia can witnesse, and many other such reuerend bables. But the noble Grecians and Romaines, whose skilfull monuments outliue barbarisme, tyed themselues to the strict obseruation of poeticall numbers, so abandoning the childish titillation of riming that it was imputed a great error to Ouid for setting forth this one riming verse,
Quot caelum stellas tot habet tua Roma puellas.
For the establishing of this argument, what better confirmation can be had then that of Sir Thomas Moore in his booke of Epigrams, where he makes two sundry Epitaphs vpon the death of a singing-man at Westminster, the one in learned numbers and dislikt, the other in rude rime and highly extold: so that he concludes, tales lactucas talia labra petunt, like lips like lettuce.
But there is yet another fault in Rime altogether intollerable, which is, that it inforceth a man oftentimes to abiure his matter and extend a short conceit beyond all bounds of arte; for in Quatorzens, methinks, the poet handles his subiect as tyrannically as Procrustes the thiefe his prisoners, whom, when he had taken, he vsed to cast vpon a bed, which if they were too short to fill, he would stretch them longer, if too long, he would cut them shorter. Bring before me now any the most self-loud Rimer, and let me see if without blushing he be able to reade his lame halting rimes. Is there not a curse of Nature laid vpon such rude Poesie, when the Writer is himself ashamd of it, and the hearers in contempt call it Riming and Ballating? What Deuine in his Sermon, or graue Counsellor in his Oration, will alleage the testimonie of a rime? But the deuinity1 of the Romaines and Gretians was all written in verse; and Aristotle, Galene, and the bookes of all the excellent Philosophers are full of the testimonies of the old Poets. By them was laid the foundation of all humane wisdome, and from them the knowledge of all antiquitie is deriued. I will propound but one question, and so conclude this point. If the Italians, Frenchmen, and Spanyards, that with commendation have written in Rime, were demaunded whether they had rather the bookes they haue publisht (if their toong would beare it) should remaine as they are in Rime or be translated into the auncient numbers of the Greekes and Romaines, would they not answere into numbers? What honour were it then for our English language to be the first that after so many yeares of barbarisme could second the perfection of the industrious Greekes and Romaines? which how it may be effected I will now proceede to demonstrate.
The third Chapter: of our English numbers in generall.
There are but three feete which generally distinguish the Greeke and Latine verses, the Dactil, consisting of one long sillable and two short, as vur; the Trochy, of one long and one short, as vt; and the Iambick of one short and one long, as mr. The Spondee of two long, the Tribrach of three short, the Anapæstick of two short and a long, are but as seruants to the first. Diuers other feete I know are by the Grammarians cited, but to little purpose. The Heroicall verse that is distinguisht by the Dactile hath bene oftentimes attempted in our English toong, but with passing pitifull successe; and no wonder, seeing it is an attempt altogether against the nature of our language. For both the concurse of our monasillables make our verses vnapt to slide, and also, if we examine our polysillables, we shall finde few of them, by reason of their heauinesse, willing to serue in place of a Dactile. Thence it is that the writers of English heroicks do so often repeate Amyntas, Olympus, Auernus, Erinnis, and suchlike borrowed words, to supply the defect of our hardly intreated Dactile. I could in this place set downe many ridiculous kinds of Dactils which they vse, but that it is not my purpose here to incite men to laughter. If we therefore reiect the Dactil as vnfit for our vse (which of necessity we are enforst to do), there remayne only the Iambick foote, of which the Iambick verse is framd, and the Trochee, from which the Trochaick numbers haue their originall. Let vs now then examine the property of these two feete, and try if they consent with the nature of our English sillables. And first for the Iambicks, they fall out so naturally in our toong, that, if we examine our owne writers, we shall find they vnawares hit oftentimes vpon the true Iambick numbers, but alwayes ayme at them as far as their eare without the guidance of arte can attain vnto, as it shall hereafter more euidently appeare. The Trochaick foote, which is but an Iambick turnd ouer and ouer, must of force in like manner accord in proportion with our Brittish sillables, and so produce an English Trochaicall verse. Then hauing these two principall kinds of verses, we may easily out of them deriue other formes, as the Latines and Greekes before vs haue done: whereof I will make plaine demonstration, beginning at the Iambick verse.
I haue obserued, and so may any one that is either practisd in singing, or hath a naturall eare able to time a song, that the Latine verses of sixe feete, as the Heroick and Iambick, or of fiue feete, as the Trochaick, are in nature all of the same length of sound with our English verses of fiue feet; for either of them being timd with the hand, quinque perficiunt tempora, they fill vp the quantity (as it were) of fiue sembriefs; as for example, if any man will proue to time these verses with his hand.
A pure Iambick.
Suis et ipsa Roma viribus ruit.
A licentiate Iambick.
Ducunt volentes fata, nolentes trahunt.
An Heroick verse.
Tityre, tu patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi.
A Trochaick verse.
Nox est perpetua vna dormienda.
English Iambicks pure.
The more secure, the more the stroke we feele
Of vnpreuented harms; so gloomy stormes
Appeare the sterner, if the day be cleere.
Th English Iambick licentiate.
Harke how these winds do murmur at thy flight.
The English Trochee.
Still where Enuy leaues, remorse doth enter.
The cause why these verses differing in feete yeeld the same length of sound, is by reason of some rests which either the necessity of the numbers or the heauiness of the sillables do beget. For we find in musick that oftentimes the straines of a song cannot be reduct to true number, without some rests prefixt in the beginning and middle, as also at the close if need requires. Besides, our English monasillables enforce many breathings which no doubt greatly lengthen a verse, so that it is no wonder if for these reasons our English verses of fiue feete hold pace with the Latines of sixe. The pure Iambick in English needes small demonstration, because it consists simply of Iambick feete; but our Iambick licentiate offers itselfe to a farther consideration, for in the third and fift place we must of force hold the Iambick foote, in the first, second, and fourth place we may vse a Spondee or Iambick and sometime a Tribrack or Dactile, but rarely an Anapestick foote, and that in the second or fourth place. But why an Iambick in the third place? I answere, that the forepart of the verse may the gentlier slide into his Dimeter, as, for example sake, deuide this verse:
Harke how these winds do murmure at thy flight.
Harke how these winds, there the voice naturally affects a rest; then murmur at thy flight, that is of itselfe a perfect number, as I will declare in the next Chapter; and therefore the other odde sillable betweene them ought to be short, least the verse should hang too much betweene the naturall pause of the verse and the Dimeter following; the which Dimeter though it be naturally Trochaical, yet it seemes to haue his originall out of the Iambick verse. But the better to confirme and expresse these rules, I will set downe a short Poeme in Licentiate Iambicks, which may giue more light to them that shall hereafter imitate these numbers.
Goe, numbers, boldly passe, stay not for ayde
Of shifting rime, that easie flatterer,
Whose witchcraft can the ruder eares beguile.
Let your smooth feete, enurd to purer arte,
True measures tread. What if your pace be slow,
And hops not like the Grecian elegies?
It is yet gracefull, and well fits the state
Of words ill-breathed and not shapt to runne.
Goe then, but slowly, till your steps be firme;
Tell them that pitty or peruersely skorne
Poore English poesie as the slaue to rime,
You are those loftie numbers that reuiue
Triumphs of Princes and sterne tragedies:
And learne henceforth tattend those happy sprights
Whose bounding fury height and waight affects.
Assist their labour, and sit close to them,
Neuer to part away till for desert
Their browes with great Apollos bayes are hid.
He first taught number and true harmonye;
Nor is the lawrell his for rime bequeathd.
Call him with numerous accents paisd by arte,
Hele turne his glory from the sunny clymes
The North-bred wits alone to patronise.
Let France their Bartas, Italy Tasso prayse;
Phbus shuns none but in their flight from him.
Though, as I said before, the naturall breathing-place of our English Iambick verse is in the last sillable of the second foote, as our Trochy after the manner of the Latine Heroick and Iambick rests naturally in the first of the third foote, yet no man is tyed altogether to obserue this rule, but he may alter it, after the iudgment of his eare, which Poets, Orators, and Musitions of all men ought to haue most excellent. Againe, though I said peremtorily before that the third and fift place of our licentiate Iambick must alwayes hold an Iambick foote, yet I will shew you example in both places where a Tribrack may be very formally taken, and first in the third place:
Some trade in Barbary, some in Turky trade.
An other example:
Men that do fall to misery, quickly fall.
If you doubt whether the first of misery be naturally short or no, you may iudge it by the easy sliding of these two verses following:The first:
Whome misery cannot alter, time deuours.
What more vnhappy life, what misery more?
Example of the Tribrack in the fift place, as you may perceiue in the last foote of the fourth verse:
Some from the starry throne his fame deriues,
Some from the mynes beneath, from trees or herbs:
Each hath his glory, each his sundry gift,
Renownd in eury art there liues not any.
To proceede farther, I see no reason why the English Iambick in his first place may not as well borrow a foote of the Trochy as our Trochy, or the Latine Hendicasillable, may in the like case make bold with the Iambick: but it must be done euer with this caueat, which is, that a Sponde, Dactile, or Tribrack do supply the next place; for an Iambick beginning with a single short sillable, and the other ending before with the like, would too much drinke vp the verse if they came immediatly together.
These are those numbers which Nature in our English destinates to the Tragick and Heroik Poeme: for the subiect of them both being all one, I see no impediment why one verse may not serue for them both, as it appeares more plainly in the old comparison of the two Greeke writers, when they say, Homerus est Sophocles heroicus, and againe Sophocles est Homerus tragicus, intimating that both Sophocles and Homer are the same in height and subiect, and differ onely in the kinde of their numbers.
The Iambick verse in like manner being yet made a little more licentiate, that it may thereby the neerer imitate our common talke, will excellently serue for Comedies; and then may we vse a Sponde in the fift place, and in the third place any foote except a Trochy, which neuer enters into our Iambick verse but in the first place, and then with his caueat of the other feete which must of necessitie follow.
The Fift Chapter: of the Iambick Dimeter, or English march.
The Dimeter (so called in the former Chapter) I intend next of all to handle, because it seems to be a part of the Iambick, which is our most naturall and auncient English verse. We may terme this our English march, because the verse answers our warlick forme of march in similitude of number. But call it what you please, for I will not wrangle about names, only intending to set down the nature of it and true structure. It consists of two feete and one odde sillable. The first foote may be made either a Trochy, or a Spondee, or an Iambick, at the pleasure of the composer, though most naturally that place affects a Trochy or Spondee; yet, by the example of Catullus in his Hendicasillables, I adde in the first place sometimes an Iambick foote. In the second place we must euer insert a Trochy or Tribrack, and so leaue the last sillable (as in the end of a verse it is alwaies held) common. Of this kinde I will subscribe three examples, the first being a peece of Chorus in a Tragedy.
Next in course to be intreated of is the English Trochaick, being a verse simple, and of itselfe depending. It consists, as the Latine Trochaick, of fiue feete, the first whereof may be a Trochy, a Spondee, or an Iambick, the other foure of necessity all Trochyes; still holding this rule authenticall, that the last sillable of a verse is alwayes common. The spirit of this verse most of all delights in Epigrams, but it may be diuersely vsed, as shall hereafter be declared. I haue written diuers light Poems in this kinde, which for the better satisfaction of the reader I thought conuenient here in way of example to publish. In which though sometimes vnder a knowne name I haue shadowed a faind conceit, yet it is done without reference or offence to any person, and only to make the stile appeare the more English.
The Seauenth Chapter: of the English Elegeick verse.
The Elegeick verses challenge the next place, as being of all compound verses the simplest. They are deriud out of our own naturall numbers as neere the imitation of the Greekes and Latines as our heauy sillables will permit. The first verse is a meere licentiate Iambick; the second is framd of two vnited Dimeters. In the first Dimeter we are tyed to make the first foote either a Trochy or a Spondee, the second a Trochy, and the odde sillable of it alwaies long. The second Dimeter consists of two Trochyes (because it requires more swiftnes than the first) and an odde sillable, which, being last, is euer common. I will giue you example both of Elegye and Epigramme, in this kinde.
To descend orderly from the more simple numbers to them that are more compounded, it is now time to handle such verses as are fit for Ditties or Odes; which we may call Lyricall, because they are apt to be soong to an instrument, if they were adornd with conuenient notes. Of that kind I will demonstrate three in this Chapter, and in the first we will proceede after the manner of the Saphick, which is a Trochaicall verse as well as the Hendicasillable in Latine. The first three verses therefore in our English Saphick are meerely those Trochaicks which I handled in the sixt Chapter, excepting only that the first foote of either of them must euer of necessity be a Spondee, to make the number more graue. The fourth and last closing verse is compounded of three Trochyes together, to giue a more smooth farewell, as you may easily obserue in this Poeme made vpon a Triumph at Whitehall, whose glory was dasht with an vnwelcome showre, hindring the people from the desired sight of her Majestie.
The English Sapphick.
Faiths pure shield, the Christian Diana,
Englands glory crownd with all deuinenesse,
Liue long with triumphs to blesse thy people
At thy sight triumphing.
Loe, they sound; the Knights in order armed
Entring threat the list, adrest to combat
For their courtly loues; he, hees the wonder
Whome Eliza graceth.
Their plumd pomp the vulgar heaps detaineth,
And rough steeds; let vs the still deuices
Close obserue, the speeches and the musicks
Peacefull arms adorning.
But whence showres so fast this angry tempest,
Clowding dimme the place? Behold, Eliza
This day shines not here; this heard, the launces
And thick heads do vanish.
The second kinde consists of Dimeter, whose first foote may either be a Sponde or a Trochy. The two verses following are both of them Trochaical, and consist of foure feete, the first of either of them being a Spondee or Trochy, the other three only Trochyes. The fourth and last verse is made of two Trochyes. The number is voluble, and fit to expresse any amorous conceit.
Rose-cheekt Lawra, come
Sing thou smoothly with thy beawties
Silent musick, either other
Louely formes do flowe
From concent deuinely framed;
Heaun is musick, and thy beawties
Birth is heauenly.
These dull notes we sing
Discords neede for helps to grace them;
Only beawty purely louing
Knowes no discord,
But still moues delight,
Like cleare springs renud by flowing,
Euer perfet, euer in them-
The third kind begins as the second kind ended, with a verse consisting of two Trochy feete, and then as the second kind had in the middle two Trochaick verses of foure feete, so this hath three of the same nature, and ends in a Dimeter as the second began. The Dimeter may allow in the first place a Trochy or a Spondee, but no Iambick.
If any shall demaund the reason why this number, being in itselfe simple, is plact after so many compounded numbers, I answere, because I hold it a number to licentiate for a higher place, and in respect of the rest imperfect; yet is it passing gracefull in our English toong, and will excellently fit the subiect of a Madrigall, or any other lofty or tragicall matter. It consists of two feete: the first may be either a Sponde or Trochy, the other must euer represent the nature of a Trochy, as for example:
Thus haue I briefely described eight seueral kinds of English numbers simple or compound. The first was our Iambick pure and licentiate. The second, that which I call our Dimeter, being deriued either from the end of our Iambick or from the beginning of our Trochaick. The third which I deliuered was our English Trochaick verse. The fourth our English Elegeick. The fift, sixt, and seauenth were our English Sapphick, and two other Lyricall numbers, the one beginning with that verse which I call our Dimeter, the other ending with the same. The eight and last was a kind of Anacreontick verse, handled in this Chapter. These numbers which by my long obseruation I have found agreeable with the nature of our sillables, I haue set forth for the benefit of our language, which I presume the learned will not only imitate but also polish and amplifie with their owne inuentions. Some eares accustomed altogether to the fatnes of rime may perhaps except against the cadences of these numbers; but let any man iudicially examine them, and he shall finde they close of themselues so perfectly that the help of rime were not only in them superfluous but also absurd. Moreouer, that they agree with the nature of our English it is manifest, because they entertaine so willingly our owne British names, which the writers in English Heroicks could neuer aspire vnto, and euen our Rimers themselues haue rather delighted in borrowed names than in their owne, though much more apt and necessary. But it is now time that I proceede to the censure of our sillables, and that I set such lawes vpon them as by imitation, reason, or experience I can confirme. Yet before I enter into that discourse, I will briefely recite and dispose in order all such feete as are necessary for composition of the verses before described. They are sixe in number, three whereof consist of two sillables, and as many of three.
The tenth Chapter: of the quantity of English sillables.
The Greekes in the quantity of their sillables were farre more licentious than the Latines, as Martiall in his Epigramme of Earinon witnesseth, saying, qui Musas colimus seueriores. But the English may very well challenge much more licence than either of them, by reason it stands chiefely vpon monasillables, which, in expressing with the voyce, are of a heauy cariage, and for that cause the Dactil, Trybrack, and Anapestick are not greatly mist in our verses. But aboue all the accent of our words is diligently to be obserud, for chiefely by the accent in any language the true value of the sillables is to be measured. Neither can I remember any impediment except position that can alter the accent of any sillable in our English verse. For though we accent the second of Trumpington short, yet is it naturally long, and so of necessity must be held of euery composer. Wherefore the first rule that is to be obserued is the nature of the accent, which we must euer follow.
Position is when a vowell comes before two consonants, either in one or two words. In one, as in best, e before st makes the word best long by position. In two words, as in setled loue, e before d in the last sillable of the first word and l in the beginning of the second makes led in setld long by position.
The Synalæphas or Elisions in our toong are either necessary to auoid the hollowness and gaping in our verse, as to and the, tinchaunt, th inchaunter, or may be vsd at pleasure, as for let vs to say lets; for we will, weel; for euery, eury; for they are, thar; for he is, hees; for admired, admird; and such like.
Also, because our English Orthography (as the French) differs from our common pronunciation, we must esteeme our sillables as we speake, not as we write; for the sound of them in a verse is to be valued, and not their letters, as for follow we pronounce follo; for perfect, perfet; for little, littel; for loue-sick, loue-sik; for honour, honor; for money, mony; for dangerous, dangerus; for raunsome, raunsum; for though, tho; and their like.
In words of two sillables, if the last haue a full and rising accent that sticks long vpon the voyce, the first sillable is alwayes short, vnlesse position, or the diphthong, doth make it long, as dsre, prsrue, dfne, prphne, rgrd, mnre, and such like.
If the like dissillables at the beginning haue double consonants of the same kind, we may vse the first sillable as common, but more naturally short, because in their pronunciation we touch but one of those double letters, as tnd,pare,pse. The like we may say when silent and melting consonants meete together, as drst, rdrst,prst, rprst, rtrud, and such like.
Words of two sillables that in their last sillable mayntayne a flat or falling accent, ought to hold their first sillable long, as rgr, glrie, sprt, frie, lbor, and the like: ny, mny, prty, hly, and their like are excepted.
One obseruation which leades me to iudge of the difference of these dissillables whereof I last spake, I take from the originall monasillable; which if it be graue, as shde, I hold that the first of shdie must be long; so tre, trlie; hue, hung; tre, trng.
Words of three sillables for the most part are deriued from words of two sillables, and from them take the quantity of their first sillable, as flrsh, flrshng long; hlie, hlnes short; but mi in mser being long hinders not the first of msery to be short, because the sound of the i is a little altred.
Likewise the first of these trisillables is short, as the first of bnfit, gnrall, hdous, mmrie, nmrous, pntrte, sprat, tmrous, vrant, vrous; and so may we esteeme of all that yeeld the like quicknes of sound.
In words of three sillables the quantity of the middle sillable is lightly taken from the last sillable of the originall dissillable, as the last of dune, ending in a graue or long accent, makes the second of dunng also long, and so spe,spng, dne, dnng: contrarywise it falles out if the last of the dissillable beares a flat or falling accent, as glre, glrng,nvng, and so forth.
Words of more sillables are eyther borrowed and hold their owne nature, or are likewise deriud and so follow the quantity of their primatiues, or are knowne by their proper accents, or may be easily censured by a iudiciall eare.
All words of two or more sillables ending with a falling accent in y or ye, as farele, dmurele, beawte, ptte, or in ue, as vertu, rscu, or in ow, as fllw, hllw, or in e, as parl, Daphn, or in a, as Mann, are naturally short in their last sillables: neither let any man cauill at this licentiate abbreuiating of sillables, contrary to the custome of the Latines, which made all their last sillables that ended in u long, but let him consider that our verse of fiue feete, and for the most part but of ten sillables, must equall theirs of sixe feete and of many sillables, and therefore may with sufficient reason aduenture vpon this allowance. Besides, euery man may obserue what an infinite number of sillables both among the Greekes and Romaines are held as common. But words of two sillables ending with a rising accent in y or ye, as denye, descrye, or in ue, as ensue, or in ee, as foresee, or in oe, as forgoe, are long in their last sillables, vnlesse a vowell begins the next word.
There are of these kinds other, but of a lighter sound, that, if the word following do begin with a vowell, are short, as doth, though, thou, now, they, too, flye, dye, true, due, see, are, far, you, thee, and the like.
But if i or y are ioynd at the beginning of a word with any vowell, it is not then held as a vowell, but as a consonant, as ielosy, iewce, iade, ioy, Iudas, ye, yet, yel, youth, yoke. The like is to be obserud in w, as winde, wide, wood: and in all words that begin with va, ve, vi, vo, or vu, as vacant, vew, vine, voide, and vulture.
All Monasillables or Polysillables that end in single consonants, either written or sounded with single consonants, hauing a sharp liuely accent and standing without position of the word following, are short in their last sillable, as scb, fld, prtd, Gd,f,f, bndg,ngush, sck, quck, rul, wll, popl, smpl, com, som, hm, thm, frm, smmn, thn, prp, prspr, hnor, lbor, ths, hs, spchs, gddsse, prfct, bt, wht, tht, and their like.
These rules concerning the quantity of our English sillables I haue disposed as they came next into my memory; others more methodicall, time and practise may produce. In the meane season, as the Grammarians leaue many sillables to the authority of the Poets, so do I likewise leaue many to their iudgments; and withall thus conclude, that there is no Art begun and perfected at one enterprise.