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all changesof pronunciation areusually made fcyfirtali dpsre.es; and therefore when we find that a great number of chuse words which ia Chaucer's time ended in e originally ended in a, we may reasonably presumej that our ancestors first pasted from, the broader for: nd pf a to the thinner found of e feminine* and not at cr.ee from a to c mute. Besides, if the- final e in fuel* words was not pronounced why was it added? From the time that it has confessedly, ceased to be. prornounc.d it .has been gradually omitted in. them, except where it may be.supposed cf use to lengthen or soften (.70) the preceding syllable, as jn ■ hope, iiamm Vie. But according to thcanciEjitarthographyit terminates many words of Saxon originalwhcre itcani not l;ave been added for any such purpose; as beriet ctilde, aide, '.vilde, We. In these therefore we must suppose that it was pronounce d as an e feminine, and made part of a second syllable, and. so, by a parity of reason, in all others in which, as in these, it ay.i pears to have been substituted for the Saspn a.

Upon, the same grounds we may presume that in words terminated according to the Saxon form iit e;i, such as the infinitive modes and plural numbers of verbs; and a great variety of adverbs and prepositions, the n only was at first thrown away, and the

(70) In most of the words in which the siaal e has bean omitted its use in. lengthening or softening the preceding syllable hat been supplied by an alteration in the orthography of that syN iable; thus itt—grete, mere,stele, red?\ itVr^-in which the: first* was orginiaily long as doling a syllable, it has (iirxcthcy have been pronounced as monosyllables) been changed either into ea, as in—great, meat,steal, read, dear; or into re, as in—• greet. r,teet,sleel, reed, deer. In like mannerthe 0 \n--bcte.fdci iiore,.gode, incite, has been changed cither into oa, as in—-boat, fials or into 00, as m--do3r,^cod, rr.oett..

*m <vh ich'then "became nnal,; continued for a loag time to be pronounced a& well as written.

These considerations seem satficient tor make us believe that the pronunciation cf the c feminine is sou ruled on. the .very nature o£ both the French anil Saxon parts of our language; and therefore though we rriay hot be able to trace the reasons of that pronunciation in all cafes so. plainly :as in those whichy have been,- yuSX mentioned, we may safely, I. think, conchidc with the learned Wallis (71), that what iff generally considered.as an e mute in our language,

(71) Grout* L'ms*Ant->ci.V?• **Origincnweiohujus enmti, V-nequH wiretur utide,devc>iefii;,.Uanc,c0c judica; nempc,. ** ijuadantiijuitus prommeiatumfuerit,sed<>bscurffsono,iicu6 ** 1 .Ailoruni c fccminjnum." He afterwards adds, Cartiffiinuta; '„* autem hujus rei. indicium est ex aiukiuis poem petemiam > *' apud quos repcriiuriHud s promiieue vclconftituercvelnon ■* co^stitMeJcnovami>•Haha^^p^o^tiraXiuc*^mi^utl postulave*>rit." Sot iut.accordmgtotiH#juiiicioU»writer^{wbohasconfg&dly fesicAedmuch deaperiototho s<wmaiitra of vocal found* in general, and the -prnnuncfaj&u) oftheEhglith language in particular, than any of our otiux-grammarians) 1 might have assumed as certain the point which I. have been labouring in the text (by. arguments drawn from-, reason and analogy) tor

render pT(»bable. There is much more to this purpose ist

Wallis, loc^cit. which I should transcribe, if I did not suppofe that his book is in the hands. oCcvery.one wfeoislilse'y to be curiomupon this subject. I will .only take notice of one pas* sigewkichiuay be wrested to his disadvantage. From considering the gradual extinction of the e scminiac.in our language, and observing Uiat the French, with whom he conversed, very often suppreffetUt in their common speech, he -has been led to predict.that', the pronunciation of it would pcrb.isjshortly be disused among them as among ourselves. The prediction has, certainly fajledi.b.ut notwithstanding I will venture to fay that atthe.tirocwhen it was made: it was no* unworthy of Wallis'sagacity. Unluckily for its success a number of. eminent writers happened a: that very time to be growing up in France, cither at the end or in the middle of wcrds (72), was anciently pronounced, but obscurely, like the-r feminine of the French.

§ 17. The third kind of irregularity to which an English verse is liable is from the accents being misplaced. The restoring of Chaucer's words to their just number of syllables, by the methods which have whose works having since been received as standards of style mutt probably six for many centuries the ancient usage of the e feminine in poetry, and of course give a considerable check to the natural progress of the language. If the age of Edward III. had been as favourable to letters as that of Louis XIV.; if Chaucer and his contemporary poets had acquired the fame authority here that Corneille, Moliere, Racine, and Boileau, have obtained in France; if their works had been published by themselves and perpetuated in a genuine state by printing, X think it probable that the e feminine wouW frill have preserved its place in our poetical language at least, and certainly without any prejudice to the smoothness of our versification.

(71) The reasoning in the text concerning the final e is equally applicable to the fame vowel in the middle of words. Indeed (as Wallis has observed, he. ctt.) " vix uspiam in mc*• did dictionU reperirur *.' mutum, quod non ab origine fuerit "finale.'* If therefore it was pronounced while sinal, it would probably continue to be pronounced notwithstanding the addition of a syllable : If it was pronounced \n/tvct^trezvetIarget riebe, it would be pronounced in fweteh^ t>e*welyt largely* riebdy. [See v. 123 and 33:9, v. 775 and 3692, v. 2740 and 3034, v. 1014 and 1913.3 In another very numerous set of words (French verbals ending in ment) the pronunciation of this middle e is countenanced not only by analogy, but also by the ttill subsisting practice in the French language : so Chaucer certainly pronounced the words jugcmtnti ver. 7S0, 807, bio, ioiniiiandemeut,ver. 2871, 2981, amcndfmtnt% ver. 41.83* favcntsnt^ aui/cmer.t^ ver. 4505, 4506. Even Spenser in the some canto (the 8th of B. vj uses atonement and avingement as words of four syllables, [it. 21. 8—30.5,] and Wallis takes notice that the middle c in command:;:::!:: was pranuunced m Ijis time.

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the fame in the middle, whenever it gave a more harmonious flow to his metre; and therefore in ver. 4, instead ofvertue, I suppose he pronounced vertue; in ver II, instead of nature, nature; in ver. 15, instead Of crjenture, aventure^ in ver. 46, instead of honour, honour^ &c.

It may he proper however to observe, that we are not to expect from Chaucer that regularity in the disposition of his accents which the practice of our greatest poets in the last and the present century has taught us to consider as eiTenthl to harmonious (73) versification : none of his musters, either French or Italian, had set him a pattern of exactness (74) in this respect; and it is rather surprising that, without rule or exam pie to guide him, he has ib seldom failed to piace his accents in such a manner as to produce the cadence best suited to the nature of his verse.

(7 3) It is agreed, I believe, that in our heroick metre those verses (considered singly) are the most harmonious in which the accents foil upon the even syllables; but it has never (that I know) been defined how far a. verse may v^ry from this its most perfect form and yet remain a verse. On the tenth (or rhyming) syllable a strong accent is in all cafes indispensably required, and in order to make the line tolerably harmonious, it seems necessary that at least nvo more ot the even syllables should be accented, the fourth being (almost always) one of them. Milton, however, has not subjected hia verse even to these rules; particularly (either by negligence or design) he ■ has frequently put an unaccented syllable in the fourth place. See P. L. b. iii. $6, 586, b. v. 413, 750, H74.

(74) It has been suggested above that Chaucer probably copied his heroick metre from Boccace ; but licit her Bcccace nor any of the older Italian poets are exact in the disposition of their accents. Though their hendecasyllable metre is allowed by the best criticks to be derived from the trimeter iambick catalecttck, the perfection of it has never been determined (like that of our heroick metre,1 to consist in the conformity of it*

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