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solicitous about it in the composition of verses. The number of syllables, the pause, and the seat of the accents and emphasis, are the chief things to be considered in the English versification.
Accent is a particular stress or force of the voice, laid upon any syllable 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 syl. lable long, rather than the nature of the vowel, diphthong, &c. though accent and quantity are, in reality, two differ. ent things.
It is not enough that verses have their just number of syllables ; 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 forts of verses, dividing them into two parts, each of which is called an bemiffich, or half-verse: but this division is not always equal, that is, one of the hemiltichs 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 first hemislich ; for the pause is to be made at the end of the word.where such accent happens, or at the end of the word follownig; as will presently be thewn.
Metre, or measure, which is such an harmonious disposition of a certain number of syllables as above mentioned, is all that is absolutely necessary to constitute English verse; but rhyme is generally added to make it niore delightful.
Now rhyme is a likeness of found between the last fyllable or fyllables of one verse, and the last fyllable or fyl. lables of another. When only one syllable at the end of one line rhymes to one syllable at the end of another, it is called single rhyme, as made, trade ; confess, distress : but when the two last syllables are alike in found, 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 dif. ferent in each verse ; so that light and delight, vice and ad. vice, move and remove, must not be made to rhyme together ; for though the signification of the words are different enough, the rhyming syllables are exaâly the fame, and good rhyme consists rather in a likeness than a fameness of sound. 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 same found ; as heir, air; prey, pray; blew, blae, &c. Such rhymes indeed, and others equally bad, as nation and affection, villainy 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 incans to be admitted in our modern compositions. It may be farther observed, that the rhyming of words de. pends 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 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 thole of which are used in heroic poems, tragedies, elegies, pastorals, and many other subjects, but generally those that are grave and serious.
In this fort the words are commonly fo disposed, that the accent may fall on every second, fourth, fixth, eighth, and tenth fyllable ; as in the two following lines.
From vulgar bounds with bráve disorder párt,
But (as we have intimated already) this order
be fre. quently dispensed with, without destroying 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 fyllable, and not on the second.
Nów to the main the burning sún descends. 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 fyllable ; 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 tbe ruling acçent only is marked, and the pause denoted by a dalh
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 fo 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 confcfied, that the prevailing accent is fome
times not easily distinguished, as when two or three in the same verse feem 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 little occasion for rules concerning the pause 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 fyllables, those of eight are most frequent in our poetry, whereof we have 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 hów'r of sóft and Aéecy ráin
The verses next to be considered, are those of seven fyło lables, which are called anacreontic, from Anacreon, a Greek poet, who wrote verse of that measure.
The accents in this kind of verse, fall on the first, third, fifth, and seventh syllables, as in the following lines :
Glítt'ring stones and golden things,
As for verses of nine and eleven fyllables, 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 fyllables.
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 fylla. bles, 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, Aud, murm'ring with disdain,
the beauteous body leaves.
Sometimes a verse of this kind concludes a triplet, or three lines that rhyme together, where the sense is full and complete; as for example :
Millions of op'ning mouths to Fame belong,
hung. Here let us observe by the way, that the sense ought al. ways to be closed at the end of a triplet, and not continued to the next line ; tho' instances of this fault* (if it be one); are to be found in some of our best poets.
This verse of twelve syllables (which is call'd Alexar. drine, or Alexandrian, from a poem on the life of Alexander, written or translated into such verse by some French poets) is also frequently used at the conclusion of a stanza in Lyric or Pindaric odes, of which we shall speak hereafter. The pause, in these verses, ought to be at the fixth syllable, as we see in the foregoing examples.
In this place it cannot be amiss to observe, that tho’ the Alexandrinie verse, when rightly employ'd, has an agree. able effect in our poctry, it must be used sparingly, and with judgment. Mr. Pope has censured the improper use of it, and at the same time given us a beautiful verse of this kind, in his excellent Esay on Criticism, where, speaking of those who regard versification only, he says,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
Verses of fourteen syllables are not so often used as those of twelve ; but they are likewise inserted in heroic poems, and are agreeable enough when they conclude a triplet where the sense is finish'd, especially if the preceding verse be of twelve syllables; as in this of Mr. Dryden.
For thee the land in fragrant flow'rs is drest ;
If these verses follow one of ten fyllables, the inequality of the measure renders them lefs pleasing ; but this is