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“On them is the guilt of the contest, who, for wicked ends, with foul arts of faction and falsehood, kindled and fed the flame: but verily they have their guerdon. Thou and I are free from offence. And would that the nations, learning of us, would lay aside all wrongful resentment, all injurious thought, and honouring each in the other kindred courage and virtue, and cognate knowledge and freedom, live in brotherhood wisely conjoined. We set the example. They who stir up strife, and would break that natural concord, evil they sow, and sorrow will they reap for their harvest.”
There have been English imitations of other species of ancient verse; but, as none of them have been successful, a single example will be sufficient for illustration. The Sapphic verse consists of five feet, which are usually disposed in the following manner: 2
5 Trochee Spondee Dactyl Trochee Trochee
- U U
The Strophe, or Stanza, is, in most cases, made up of three such verses, followed by an Adonic, or verse of two feet, thus: Sweet the sky-lārk sings, on her | soaring | pinion; Morning | dāwns brīght, shining in all its glory; Flõwers thắt | fade löve- | lörn in thề | night, rẻ- | viving,
Bloom Zn thế | sũn-beam.
Dr. Watts’s Ode entitled “ The Day of Judge ment,” is specified to be “attempted in English Sapphick.” It begins thus:
“ When the fierce north wind with his airy forces
Rears up the Baltic to a foaming fury;
Rushing amain down:
Quick to devour them.
The Adonic (made up of a Dactyl and a Spondee, or a Trochee,) was so called, because originally used in the Threnodies, or lamentations for the death of Adonis.
Although there are certainly long and short syllables in the English language, they are apt to change their character by the effect of accent; for, when the accent (or stress) falls upon a close consonant, it produces a slight pause in the pronunciation, which has the effect of lengthening the syllable that would otherwise be short. Thus, whet (in the verb to whet) is naturally short, and stone is long; but the word whetstone having the accent on the first syllable prevents the voice from dwelling on the second, and thereby neutralizes the word with respect to quantity. There
are, therefore, two principles,- quantity and stress;- and the judicious intermixture of these constitutes the harmony of English verse. We have before observed, that our Dissyllables are seldom, if ever, Spondees; and, consequently, (with the exception of a few recent compounds, such as day-star and moon-beam, which have scarcely acquired an accent) the succession of two long syllables requires a management which has prevented such feet as included that succession from forming the basis of any system of English Versification. Spondees may, however, be occa sionally introduced, and they often are so with propriety and elegance. The Tribrach, or succession of three short syllables, is another foot which is difficult of introduction; because we seldom find three successive syllables without one of them being either long or accented. On the same principle, our dissyllables, which are numerous, are never pure Pyrrhics. In consequence of those peculiarities in the language, English Versification has been generally limited to two kinds:
1. To feet of two syllables,--either Iambics or Trochees.
2. To feet of three syllables, either Anapæsts, Amphimacers, or Dactyls.
These denominations, however, do not here express the same ideas as they do in the scanning of classic verse. The English poet is guided by his ear, and reads those learned names only to forget them. The length of the verse is dependent on another circumstance to which we shall now advert.
OF RHYME AND ALLITERATION.
It is plain that, were every word a monosyllable, we should have no such thing as Accent in the sense of Stress. Its place would be filled by Emphasis, which is regulated solely by the feelings of the speaker. There would then be no marks to inform the reader where those emphases should be laid, and the chant of verse would be uncertain, if not wholly unknown. Such was nearly the case, at a certain period, among the nations of the North; and their poets had recourse to other expedients, to adapt their songs to the music of the harp: those were Rhyme and Alliteration.
The Saxon hriman, or hryman, is to cry out, or make a sound, whether pleasing or mournful; and is so far equivalent to the Swedish skalla, to echo, or to ring. Hringan, or ringan, in Saxon, is to ring; and hrime, rim, or rima, the origin of the English Rhyme, is resonance, or echo. Rim, or rima, was also number,—the rythmos of the Greeks; -and Arithmetic, in the language of our ancestors, was rimcraft. From skalla, the poets of Scan