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fo placed as to produce harmony: the long and fhort, the fmooth and rough fyllables were varioufly combined to recommend the fenfe by the found, and elevation and cadence employed to make the whole more musically expreffive.

Hence poetry became the parent of mufic, and indeed of dancing; for the method of measuring the time of their verles, per Arfin et Thefin, and of beating the bars or divifions of mufic, gave rife, we may fuppofe, to this art, and taught the feet alfo to exprefs the tranfports of the foul. To the truth of thefe reflections, which are drawn from nature, every one will affent, who confiders how he is affected by poetry and mufic; for no man can refift the natural impulfe he will have to dance, or agitate the body at certain combinations of words and of founds, unlefs he be unhappily poffeffed of one of those gloomy minds described by Shakespeare +. And this will in fome measure account, not only for the great antiquity of dancing, but for its application to religious ceremonies even in the firft ages of the world. Poetry, Mufic, and Dancing, were used by the Ifraelites of old in their worship, and are thus employ'd by many of the eastern nations, and by the Indians of America to this day.

"What we have faid of the origin of poetry will account for the neceffity there is for that enthusiasm, that fertility of invention, thofe fallies of imagination, lofty ideas, noble fentiments, bold and figurative expreffions, harmony of numbers, and indeed that

*Ducunt Choreas et Carmina dicunt.


The man that hath no mufic in himself,
That is not mov'd with concord of fweet founds,
Is fit for treafon, ftratagems and fpoils;
The motions of his fpirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no fuch man be trufted.

SHAKESPEARE's Merchant of Venice,

natural love of the grand, fublime, and marvellous, which are the effential characteristics of a good poet. The poet, not fatisfied with exploring all nature for fubjects, wantons in the fields of fancy, and creates beings of his own. He raifes floating islands, dreary deferts, and inchanted caftles, which he peoples, by the magic of his imagination, with fatyrs, nymphs, fairies and gnomes; and from imaginary things excites real pleasure, and furnishes the mind with folid inftruction. He not only, like Midas, turns every thing he touches into gold, (but what has never yet been fabled) he foars beyond the regions of Ether, and brings gold out of nothing. From these bold and enthufiaftic flights, poets are faid to be divinely inspired, fince thefe qualifications are not to be obtained by art, but derive their fource from nature, and are the gifts of heaven alone.

But this divine fcience, originally intended for the worship of God, was in procefs of time debafed; and when men forfook the Lord of Life, apply'd to inferior purpofes. It was call'd in to the praife of legiflators and great men. This ufe was made of it not only by the eastern nations, but by the Greeks, Romans, and by the ancient bards in Britain, who, as hiftory tells us, made fongs in praife of their heroes, which they adapted to mufic, and fung to their harps. Of late indeed Poetry has been moft thamefully prostituted; but that is no argument, against its excellency. Has not its filter Eloquence thared the fame fate, and been employ'd to unjust purpofes, and to obtain the moft wicked ends? This therefore it has in common with other fciences, and in confequence of the general depravity of mankind.

But the excellency of Poetry, and the attractive charms of the Mules, may be estimated by the number of votaries they have obtained; fince there are few men, how cold and phlegmatic foever, but have

fome time or other paid their court to the ladies

of Parnaffus. And this general affection for the art will render any apology needlefs that might be made for the publication of this volume; in which we have not fatisfied ourfelves with writing dull receipts how poems may be made, but have, (together with fuch rules as are neceffary for the conftruction of English verfe and of the various fpecies of Poetry) prefented the reader with variety of examples from our beft and most celebrated English poets.

What is. faid on verfification is indeed but little, yet it is what was thought abundantly fufficient. In fhort, no more could be introduced that would be useful; and to incumber a young ftudent in any fcience with ufelefs rules, is increafing his difficulty, retarding his progrefs, and like loading a man with arms which may hinder his march, but can afford him no defence or affiftance on the road.

The rules obferved by the ancient pocts were adapted to the ancient tongues, but will not fuit our language, fince the quantity, or that space of time, whether long or fhort, in which any fyllable is pronounced, is generally determined by the accents. And the harmony of Milton's numbers will be found not to depend on the rules of quantity, but on other principles. He has not confined himfelf to the Iambic, which is the measure adjudged to our English heroics, but compounded his verfes with other feet, and fo diverfified his meafures, by judicioufly varying the Cafural Paufe, that he has given them a variety of harmony not to be met with in other poets, and avoided a conflant tedious uniformity, that would have been ever lifeless, dull, and difagreeable.

I fhall conclude thefe reflections in the words of an author of great taste and judgment §. Verfification, fays he, is in Poetry what colouring is in painting, § Lord LANSDOWN,

*POPE's Efay on Criticism.

a beautiful ornament. just, the posture true, the figure bold, and the refemblance according to nature, tho' the colours happen to be rough, or carelessly laid on, yet the picture fhall lofe nothing of its efteem. Such are many of the inestimable pieces of Raphael: whereas the finest and niceft colour that art can invent, is but labour in vain when the reft is in diforder; like paint bestow'd on an ill face, whereby the deformity is render'd but fo much the more confpicuous and remarkable. It would not be unfeasonable to make fome obfervations. upon this fubject, by way of advice to many of our prefent writers, who feem to lay the whole ftrefs of their endeavours upon the Harmony of words: Like Eunuchs they facrifice their manhood for a voice, and reduce our Poetry to be like Echo, nothing but Secund.

But if the proportions are


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Containing a Definition of POETRY, and the Qualifications of a true POET.


OETRY is the art of compofing poems, or pieces in verse, in order to please and to inflruct.

But a skill in mak

ing verfes, or writing in numbers, is one of the leaft qualifications of a good poet; for a perfon of an indiffe rent genius may be taught to compofe verfes that will flow fmoothly, and found well to the ear, which yet may be of no value for want of ftrong fenfe, propriety, and elevation of thought, or purity of diction. A true poet is diftinguished by a fruitfulness of invention, a lively imagination tempered by a folid judgment, a nobleness of fentiments and ideas, and a bold, lofty, and figurative manner of expreffion. He thoroughly understands the nature of his fubject; and, let his poem be never fo fhort, he forms a defign or plan, by which every verfe is directed to a certain end, and each has a juft dependence on the other; for it is this produces the beauty of order and harmony, and gives fatisfaction to a rational mind. The duke of Buckingham, in his Essay on Poetry, very juftly observes :

Numbers, and rhymes, and that harmonious found
Which never does the ear with harshness wound,
Are neceffary, yet but vulgar, arts:
For all in vain these fuperficial parts
Contribute to the ftructure of the whole,
Without a genius too, for that's the soul ;
A Spirit, which infpires the work throughout,
As that of nature moves the world about;

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