A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Quatrain

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1619

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1619

Qua'train. n.s. [quatrain, Fr.] A stanza of four lines rhyming alternately: as,

Say, Stella, what is love, whose fatal pow'r
Robs virtue of content, and youth of joy?
What nymph or goddess in a luckless hour
Disclos'd to light the mischief-making boy.
Mrs. Mulso.

I have writ my poem in quatrains or stanza's of four in alternate rhyme, because I have ever judged them of greater dignity for the sound and number, than any other verse in use. Dryden.

Sources: Chapone, Hester (1) · Dryden, John (788)

Attributes: French (385) · Noun Substantive (1269)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Quatrain." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 30, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=8545.


  1. From the book review for Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (by Mrs. Chapone – maiden name Mulso) from The Gentleman’s Magazine, February 1775. pages 86-88:

    Dr. Johnson, on reading this ode several years ago in MS. declared that “he never before had any opinion of female poetry;” and, though a copy was refused him, having retained great part of it by memory, soon after quoted the fourth stanza in his Dictionary, to exemplify the meaning of the word Quatrain, with the name of Mrs. Mulso annexed to it, a name then unknown to the literary world.

    The actual quatrain:

    Say, Stella, what is love, whose tyrant pow’r
    Robs virtue of content, and youth of joy?
    What nymph or goddess, in a fatal hour,
    Gave to the world this mischief-making boy?

  2. Brandi on December 5th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
  3. Paul Baker brought the work of Caroline Knox to my attention. She takes sentences from Chapone’s other works (such as those published in Johnson’s Rambler) and combines them into a narrative (built out of “rugged” quatrains) leading up to the above “Stella” quaitrain.

    Read Knox’s “Quatrains by Hester Mulso (1728-1784)” here.

  4. Brandi on December 6th, 2011 at 4:21 am

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