« PreviousContinue »
This book contains the fruit of several years' class-teaching.. It is offered as a help to fifth and sixth forms at public schools, and undergraduates at universities.
The metrical notes included in my edition of the four books of Virgil's Georgics (Messrs Blackie & Son) met with so much encouragement from several reviewers that I am hopeful there will be some use for these pages. I do not know of any book in English covering the same ground, and possibly a few of the faults of this work may be entitled to the indulgence due to the pioneer. .
Will the composition of Latin Verse continue to form a part of our classical curriculum ? I am not here concerned to answer this question ; but there can be no doubt that if classical education is to continue to hold its own, its various departments must be made thoroughly efficient, and the best methods in translation and composition must be sought for. The present is a humble departmental effort in this direction.
The principle adopted is to aid in the composition of hexameter verse by showing to some extent the development of this literary form, by inferring from the evolution what is the best workmanship, and by hinting how technique depends largely on thought. A treatment of the subject on the broadest lines should stimulate an enthusiasm for the hexameter as a literary form. This attained, we have the best aid towards the composing of
good hexameter verses. Moreover, the close study of one literary form is sure to ramify into a variety of literary interests.
The method here followed has been tested and found to work well. The beginner is apt to be utterly bewildered by the apparently unregulated rhythms of hexameter verse. To what point can he first direct his attention? The smallest practicable integer is not the complete type of hexameter line, but the partial and fused types (see § 1) produced by the various pauses. Begin with a thorough drilling in the use of these. With such apparatus as is here provided, hexameters may be begun as soon as the student has a fair grip of the elegiac couplet. For the first twelve or eighteen months of hexameter writing I would recommend that the student confine himself to the sections marked with an asterisk; and it is on the whole advisable that chapter vii. should be taken next to chapter i. Pauses and symmetrical phrasing—these are the two pillars on which the weight of the structure must rest. The chapters on cæsura and elision may well wait.
I am aware of several shortcomings in this book. It is limited to the heroic hexameter, and that of the Virgilian type. The interpretation of pauses may here and there border on the fanciful—but possibly in teaching it is a better fault to see too much meaning in a masterpiece than too little. The chapters on cæsura and elision (especially the former) contain debatable matter, and I have had very little help on the subject of elision from predecessors. Above all, the chapter on rhythm needs expansion to do the subject thorough justice, or to bring it into proportion with those on more technical subjects; the appendix on theme and variation should have found a place in it. But, even as it stands, I hope it may be of assistance to young composers.
The exercises given are little more than specimens; teachers can, without difficulty, add to their number when necessary.
As to the English to be chosen for translation. When detached exercises first make way for complete copies, it is my experience that the English should first of all be Miltonic, and suggest the Virgilian type. As a boy's skill increases, English more and more unlike Milton may be set, and possibly he will finally be led to take some other poet than Virgil for his Latin model.
For my matter I am indebted in a trifling degree to German statistics. I have made use of Rönström, Quicherat, and Plessis; but I may fairly say I owe most to my own observation and investigation of the Virgilian hexameter.
I have had the benefit of invaluable aid in the proof correction stage. To Rev. Dr Haig Brown, Master of the Charterhouse, Mr T. E. Page, of Charterhouse, Dr W. H. D. Rouse, Headmaster of the Perse School, Cambridge, Mr R. L. A. Du Pontet, of Winchester College, and Mr A. E. Bernays, of the City of London School, I take this opportunity of offering my sincere thanks for their kind assistance.
A key has been prepared for the use of authenticated teachers.
MAINE HOUSE, Christ's HOSPITAL,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1.-PAUSES ..
Hexameter Verse .