Page:Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilsea 1903.djvu/93

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INTRODUCTION Ixxxix ���connection with the work of Dryden and of Pope. When Pope's Pastorals came out Lady Winchilsea was forty -eight �years old, and by far the greater number of her Versification J �poems had been written; hence her heroic- �couplets are to be judged by the standards of Dryden rather than by the stricter canons of Pope. Swift, for instance, boasted that his offensive triplet at the end of the City Shower in 1710 had killed triplets in English verse. Pope had likewise expressed his dislike for this break in the regu- larity of the couplet, and both Swift and Pope had made war on the Alexandrine. But Dryden, in the Preface to his JEneis (1697), had said of triplets and Alexandrines, "I regard them now as the Magna Charta of heroic poetry." Writing under the gis of Dryden, Lady Winchilsea would come strongly under the condemnation of Pope, for she used these two devices for varying the couplet so frequently as sometimes almost to destroy the couplet effect for a page at a time. Again, Dryden protests vigorously against the " shock of two vowels immediately following each other." "The army" leaves, he thinks, "a horrid, ill-sounding gap betwixt the words," while " th' army " is smooth. He there- fore almost invariably made use of " synalcephas," as he called elisions. Pope also disliked the hiatus but said that it was frequently to be preferred to elision, as, for example, "the old " is " smoother and less constrained" than "th' old." Lady Winchilsea holds by the canon of Dryden even when it gives rise to combinations so difficult as " t' attempt," u sh' extorts," or so broken in appearance as "th' o'r- shadowing," "t'o'r-match," but she rather inconsistently admits the hiatus sometimes when "the" is needed as filling for the verse, as �We wait on the event with ease. �In the endeavor to hold a line to ten syllables she follows the fashion of her day in preferring elisions to slurring or ��� �