The irregularities consist chiefly of neglect of the laws of position, of final long vowels, of inflexional endings, and of double letters, which last, according to some grammarians, were not used until the time of Ennius. His Lyric metres are few, and very imperfectly elaborated. Those which he prefers are the Cretic and Bacchiac, though Dactylic and Choriambic systems are not wholly unknown.
For it never makes any difference which of these two is the last foot of a sentence. But these same three feet end a sentence very badly if one of them is placed at the end, unless the dactyl comes at the end instead of a cretic; for it does not signify whether the dactyl or the cretic comes at the end, because it does not signify even in verse whether the last syllable of all is long or short.
One had no need to get out one's notebook in order to jot down the exact figures on either side. Why add up the elements of resistance and anarchy? The Kaiser supplied him with these figures, just as the Cretic approached Morocco. Every one was doing it, and seemed in a panic about it. The chaos waited only for his landing.
And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his mentioning a complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he arranged them in some manner which I do not quite understand, making the rhythms equal in the rise and fall of the foot, long and short alternating; and, unless I am mistaken, he spoke of an iambic as well as of a trochaic rhythm, and assigned to them short and long quantities.
Passing out he whispered to J. J. O'Molloy: Incipient jigs. Sad case. Ohio! the editor crowed in high treble from his uplifted scarlet face. My Ohio! A perfect cretic! the professor said. Long, short and long. He took a reel of dental floss from his waistcoat pocket and, breaking off a piece, twanged it smartly between two and two of his resonant unwashed teeth. Bingbang, bangbang.
But there are several other cadences which will have a numerous and pleasing effect: for even the cretic, which consists of a long, a short, and a long syllable, and it's companion the paeon, which is equal to it in quantity, though it exceeds it in the number of syllables, is reckoned a proper and a very useful ingredient in harmonious prose: especially as the latter admits of two varieties, as consisting either of one long and three short syllables, which will be lively enough at the beginning of a sentence, but extremely flat at the end; or of three short syllables and a long one, which was highly approved of by the ancients at the close of a sentence, and which I would not wholly reject, though I give the preference to others.
The Trochaic tetrameter and the Cretic are also favourite rhythms; the former is well suited to the Latin language, its beat being much more easily distinguishable in a rapid dialogue than that of the Iambic. His metre is regulated partly by quantity, partly by accent; but his quantities do not vary as much as has been supposed.
It is, as is agreed upon by all the ancients, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Theodectes, and Ephorus, the most suitable of all for an oration, either at the beginning or in the middle; they think that it is very suitable for it at the end also; in which place the cretic appears to me to be better. If repeated or often renewed it then makes the rhythm conspicuous and too remarkable.
They are likewise of opinion, that it is equally proper at the end; where, in my opinion, the cretic deserves the preference. On the other hand, if we properly blend and intermingle the several varieties above-mentioned, our design will not be so readily noticed; and we shall also prevent that satiety which would arise from an elaborate uniformity of cadence.
For there is the cretic, which consists of a long syllable, then a short one, then a long; and there is its equivalent the paeon; which is equal in time, but longer by one syllable; and which is considered a very convenient foot to be used in prose, as it is of two kinds.