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A heat w}iich glows in every word that's writ;
Describing all men, but describ’d by none. A poetical genius is the gift of nature, and cannot be cequired; nor can the want of it be supplied by art or induitry : but where such a genius is found, it may be afliited toy proper rules and directions; and such we shall endeavour to lay down.
CH A P. II. Of the Structure of English Verse; and of Rhyme : I
N order to make verses, you must understand that fylla
bles are distinguished into long and fort, and this length 11 shortness is called their quantity. Of two, three, and fometimes more syllables, the antients formed their poetical feet, giving each of them a different name. Thus a foot consisting of two long fyllables, was called a spondre; of a short one follow'd by a long one, an iambic ; of a long cne followed by two mort ones, a dactyle, &c. and of hele feet they composed various kinds of verses.
But there is very little variety of feet in the English poetry, the iomlic being, as it were, the sole regent of our verse, ciccially of our veroics, which consist of five short and five long syllables intermixed alternately, though this order is jourcrimes beautifully varied by our best poets, as an exCillcno writer obferves :
Two syllables our English feet compołe;
Dryden to this variety was juft.
"In languages, is not well fixed; nor need we be very
solicitous about it in the composition of verses. The number of syllables, the pause, and the feat of the accents and emphasis, are the chief things to be considered in the English versification.
Accent is a particular fress or force of the voice, laid upon any fyllable in speaking, as upon fi in finite, upon in in infinite; and emphasis is that stress or force of the voice which is laid on some particular word or words in a sentence to express the true meaning of the author.
In English verse, it is the accent that denominates a fyl. lable long, rather than the nature of the vowel, diphthong, &c, though accent and quantity are, in reality, two different things,
It is not enough that verses have their just number of fyllables ; for the words must be so disposed, as that the accent and the pause may fall in such places, as to render them harmonious and pleasing to the ear.
This pause is a small rest or fop which is made in pronouncing the longer sorts of verses, dividing them into two parts, each of which is called an hernistich, or half-verse : but this division is not always equal, that is, one of the hemistichs does not always contain the same number of syllables as the other. This inequality proceeds from the seat of the accent, that is strongest in the firit hemislich ; for the pause is to be made at the end of the word where fuch accent happens, or at the end of the word following; as will presently be shewn.
Metre, or measuri, which is such an harmonious disposition of a certain number of fyllables as above mentioned, is all that is absolutely necessary to conftitute Englis verse ; but rhyme is generally added to make it more delightful.
Now rhyme is a likeness of found between the last fyllable or fyllables of one verse, and the latt fyllable or fyllables of another. --When only one syllable at the end of one line rhymes to one syllable at the end of another, it is called fingle rhyme, as made, trade ; confess, distress : but when the two last syllables are alike in round, as drinking, thinking ; able, table; it is called double rhyme. We have also some instances of treble rhyme, where the three lat fyllables chime together ; as charity, parity, &c. But this is seldom or never admitted in serious subjects, and in such the double rhyme is to be used but sparingly.
You are further to observe, that the conionants which
precede the vowels where the rhyme begins, must be different in each verse; so that light and delight, vice and advice, move and remove, must not be made to rhyme together; for though the fignification of the words are different enough, the rhyming fyllables are exa&ly the same, and good rhyme confifts rather in a likeness than a fameness of found. From hence it follows, that a word cannot rhyme to itself, nor even words that differ both in signification and orthography, if they have the same found ; as beir, air ; prey, pray blew, blue, &c. Such rhymes indeed, and others equally bad, as nation and affection, vila lainy and gentry, follow and willow, where the likeness is not sufficient, were allowed of in the days of Chaucer, Spencer, and the rest of our antient poets, but are by no means to be admitted in our modern compositions. It may be farther observed, that the rhyming of words de. rends upon their likeness of sound, not of orthography; for laugh and quaff, though differently written, rhyme very well together; but plough and cough, though their termi. nations are alike, rhyme not at all.
That sort of verse which has no rhyme is called blank verse ; some specimens of which will be given hereafter. We have verses of several measures containing seldom less than four, nor more than fourteen fyllables ; in speaking of: which I shall begin with those that are mostly in use.
CH A P. III.
HE verses chiefly used in our poetry, are those of
ten, eight, and seven fyllables ; especially the first, which are used in heroic poems, tragedies, elegies, paftorals, and many other subjects, but generally thofe that are grave and ferious.
In this fort the words are commonly fo dispofed, that the accent may fall on every second, fourth, fixth, eighth, and tenth syllable; as in the two following lines.
From vúlgar bóunds with bráve disorder párt,
But (as we have intimated already) this order may be frequently dispensed with, without deitroying the harmony of the verse ; nay, it adds a peculiar beauty to the poetry, to indulge such a variety now and then, especially in the first and second syllables of the line, of which the following is an instance, where the accent is on the first fyl. lable, and not on the second.
Nów to the main the burning sún descénds. The pause to be in verses of this kind (as I have before observed) is determined by the seat of the most prevailing accent in the first half-verse, which ought to be either on the second, fourth, or fixth syllable ; and the pause must immediately follow the word where this accent happens, or the word after it.
In the following lines you have instances of each of the cases mentioned, where the ruling accent only is marked, and the pause denoted by a dash
And since he could not save her with her dy'd. The pause is sometimes to be allowed of in other places of a verse; but then the verses are not quite so agreeable to the ear, as is evident from the following instance :
Bright Hesper twinkles from afár--away
My kids---for you have had a feast to-day. Here is nothing disagreeable in the structure of these verses but the pause, which in the first of them (you see) is after the eighth fyllable, and in the latter after the second; whereas so unequal a division cannot produce any true harmony.
It must be confessed, that the prevailing accent is ļ
times not easily distinguished, as when two or three in the fame verse seem equally strong; in which case the sense and construction of the words must be your guide. And after all, a person who has a tolerable ear for poetry, will have litele occasion for rules concerning the faujė or the accents, but will naturally fo dispose his words as to create a certain harmony, without labour to the tongue, or violence to the sense.
Next to' verses of ten syllables, those of eight are most frequent in our poetry, whereof we have many entire poems. In these verses, as in the former, the accents generally fall on every second syllable, but not without exception, as you will see in the following example:
A fów'r of soft and fléscy ráin
'The verses next to be considered, are those of seven fylJables, which are called anacreontic, from Anacreon, a Greek poet, who wrote in verse of that measure.
The accents in this kind of verse, fall on the first, third, fifth, and seventh fyllables, as in the following lines :
Glitt'ring stones and golden things,
As for verses of wine and elever syllables, they are not worth our notice, being very seldom used, except those which are of double rhyme, and properly belong to the verses of eight and ten syllables.
There is a kind of verse of twelve syllables, having the accent on every third, which is only made use of in subjects of mirth and pleasantry, as are those of eleven fyllables, which run with much the same cadence. But there is another sort of twelve syllables, which are now and then introduced amongit our heroics, being sometimes the last of a couplet, or two verses, as in the following instance. The ling’ring foul th’unwelcome doom receives, And, murm’ring with disdain,--the beauteous body leaves.