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A heat which glows in every word that's writ;
A poetical genius is the gift of nature, and cannot be acquired; nor can the want of it be fupplied by art or induitry but where fuch a genius is found, it may be affiited by proper rules and directions; and fuch we fhall endeayour to lay down.
Of the Structure of English VERSE; and of RHYME:
Norder to make verfes, you must understand that fyllables are diftinguifhed into long and bort, and this length or fhortnefs is called their quantity. Of two, three, and fometimes more fyllables, the antients formed their poetical feet, giving each of them a different name.
Thus a foot confifting of two long fyllables, was called a Spondee; of a thort one follow'd by a long one, an iambic; of a long one followed by two fhort ones, a da&yle, &c. and of thele feet they compofed various kinds of verfes.
But there is very little variety of feet in the English poetry, the iambic being, as it were, the fole regent of our verse, effecially of our heroics, which confift of five short and five long fyllables intermixed alternately, though this order is iometimes beautifully varied by our beft poets, as an excellent writer obferves:
Two fyllables our English feet compofe,
After all, the quantity of the fyllables in ours, and other in languages, is not well fixed; nor need we be very
folicitous about it in the compofition of verfes. The number of fyllables, the paufe, and the feat of the accents and emphafis, are the chief things to be confidered in the English verfification.
Accent is a particular ftrefs or force of the voice, laid upon any fyllable in fpeaking, as upon fi in finite, upon in in infinite; and emphasis is that ftrefs or force of the voice which is laid on fome particular word or words in a sentence to exprefs the true meaning of the author.
In English verfe, it is the accent that denominates a fyllable 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 verfes have their juft number of fyllables; for the words must be fo difpofed, as that the accent and the pause may fall in fuch places, as to render them harmonious and pleafing to the ear.
This paufe is a small reft or flop which is made in pronouncing the longer forts of verfes, dividing them into two parts, each of which is called an hemiftich, or half-verse : but this divifion is not always equal, that is, one of the hemiftichs does not always contain the fame number of fyllables as the other. This inequality proceeds from the feat of the accent, that is ftrongest in the first hemiflich; for the paufe is to be made at the end of the word where fuch accent happens, or at the end of the word following; as will prefently be fhewn.
Metre, or measure, which is fuch an harmonicus difpofition of a certain number of fyllables as above mentioned, is all that is abfolutely neceffary to conftitute English verfe ; but rhyme is generally added to make it more delightful.
Now rhyme is a likeness of found between the laft fyllable or fyllables of one verfe, and the latt fyllable or fyllables of another.-When only one fyllable at the end of one line rhymes to one fyllable at the end of another, it is called fingle rhyme, as made, trade; confefs, diftrefs: but when the two laft fyllables are alike in found, as drinking, thinking; able, table; it is called double rhyme. We have alfo fome inftances of treble rhyme, where the three lat fyllables chime together; as charity, parity, &c. But this is feldom or never admitted in ferious fubjects, and in fuch the double rhyme is to be used but fparingly.
You are further to obferve, that the confonants which
precede the vowels where the rhyme begins, must be different in each verfe; fo 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 exactly the fame, 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 fignification and orthography, if they have the fame found; as heir, air; prey, pray; blew, blue, &c. Such rhymes indeed, and others equally bad, as nation and affection, villainy and gentry, follow and willow, where the likeness is not fufficient, were allowed of in the days of Chaucer, Spencer, and the reft of our antient poets, but are by no means to be admitted in our modern compofitions. It may be farther obferved, that the rhyming of words depends upon their likeness of found, not of orthography; for laugh and quaff, though differently written, rhyme very well together; but plough and cough, though their terminations are alike, rhyme not at all.
That fort of verse which has no rhyme is called blank verfe; fome fpecimens of which will be given hereafter.. We have verfes of several measures containing feldom less than four, nor more than fourteen fyllables; in fpeaking of which I fhall begin with those that are mostly in use.
CHA P. III.
Of the feveral forts of English VERSES.
HE verfes chiefly used in our poetry, are thofe of ten, eight, and feven fyllables; especially the firft, which are ufed in heroic poems, tragedies, elegies, paftorals, and many other fubjects, but generally thofe that are grave and ferious.
In this fort the words are commonly fo difpofed, that the accent may fall on every second, fourth, fixth, eighth, and tenth fyllable; as in the two following lines.
From vúlgar bounds with bráve difórder párt,
But (as we have intimated already) this order may be frequently difpenfed with, without destroying the harmony of the verfe; nay, it adds a peculiar beauty to the poetry, to indulge fuch a variety now and then, efpecially in the first and fecond fyllables of the line, of which the following is an inftance, where the accent is on the first fyllable, and not on the fecond.
Nów to the main the búrning fún defcénds.
The paufe to be in verfes of this kind (as I have before obferved) is determined by the feat of the moft prevailing accent in the first half-verfe, which ought to be either on the fecond, fourth, or fixth fyllable; and the paufe muft immediately follow the word where this accent happens, or the word after it.
In the following lines you have inftances of each of the cafes mentioned, where the ruling accent only is marked, and the paufe denoted by a dash
As búfy-as intentive emmets are.
Defpife it-and more noble thoughts pursue.
Belinda fmil'd-and all the world was gay.
Some have at firft for wíts-then poets pafs'd.
The pause is fometimes to be allowed of in other places of a verfe; but then the verses are not quite so agreeable to the ear, as is evident from the following inftance:
Bright Hefper twinkles from afár-away
Here is nothing difagreeable in the ftructure of thefe verfes but the paufe, which in the firft of them (you fee) is after the eighth fyllable, and in the latter after the fecond; whereas fo unequal a divifion cannot produce any true harmony.
It must be confeffed, that the prevailing accent is f
times not easily distinguished, as when two or three in the fame verfe feem equally ftrong; in which cafe the fenfe and conftruction of the words must be your guide. And after all, a person who has a tolerable ear for poetry, will have little occafion for rules concerning the paufe or the accents, but will naturally fo difpofe his words as to create a certain harmony, without labour to the tongue, or violence to the fenfe.
Next to verfes of ten fyllables, thofe 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 fyllable, but not without exception, as you will fee in the following example:
A fhów'r of foft and fleecy ráin
The verfes next to be confidered, are thofe of feven fylJables, which are called anacreontic, from Anacreon, a Greek poct, who wrote in verfe of that measure.
The accents in this kind of verfe, fall on the first, third, fifth, and feventh fyllables, as in the following lines:
Glitt'ring flónes and golden things,
Wé can never cáll our own.
As for verfes of nine and elevent fyllables, they are not worth our notice, being very feldom ufed, except those which are of double rhyme, and properly belong to the verfes of eight and ten fyllables.
There is a kind of verfe of twelve fyllables, having the accent on every third, which is only made ufe of in fubjects of mirth and pleafantry, as are thofe of eleven fyllables, which run with much the fame cadence. But there is another fort of twelve fyllables, which are now and then introduced amongst our heroics, being fometimes the last of a couplet, or two verfes, as in the following inftance.
The ling'ring foul th' unwelcome doom receives,
And, murm'ring with difdain,-the beauteous body leaves.