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verse before given, if the interval be always the same; and that, except in the lyrical measures, it must be. In a language, therefore, which abounds in such words as calamitátibus, meditatiónes, how can we form the most common system of verse, that of alternate syllables of return and interval like our heroic measure ? In short, the thing were impossible (as a whole), even in a language as abundant in short words as our own. Let any one try to make several trochaic, iambic, or even dactylic lines (according to accent) on this basis in Latin or Greek, and he will quickly find himself at a loss. For example,

Ille mágnos pér terróres. Simplest as this metre is of all, yet it excludes all words of more than three syllables, and even of these all that have not the accent on the middle. Such words as térritos, ayatov, which impose an interval of two syllables, could not enter. Such a line as,

Inaccéssas regiónes, depends on quite another principle, to which we now come.

5. The third, which is the stress laid upon a syllable. If there were in a language two classes of syllables, according to one of which they were pronounced in a louder tone, and according to the


other in a softer, here would still be a resource for return and interval, but with much less music than the last affords, and with the same insuperable difficulty, if a word admit the stress but on one syllable, which is laid down for the rule in every language. Yet this is the only basis of versification in every modern language. How it has been pressed into service we shall see presently.

6. We may observe in passing that the very imperfect base of similarity of sound has been applied to versification by some barbarous languages, as the Welsh and the Anglo-Saxon; and therefore, as

1 well as on account of its incidental aid to the true bases, we shall have to take it into consideration.

7. Such therefore are the only legitimate bases available for versification. Not that, however, it would be right to pass over altogether without notice another system also, which some have considered as a species of versification, though excluded by the adoption of the above definition, being based upon the mental part of the language, not on its pronunciation. It is that composition of language in which the return is made by a similarity of the syntaxical construction of a sentence, which may run in the parallel or antithetical form, giving also the repetition of the idea according to similarity or contrariety. It has been termed rhythmical or measured prose,

and was the only vehicle of Hebrew poetry, if so, we may properly call it. For the sake of illustration, let us refer to the twenty-fourth Psalm, the whole of which runs in the following manner:

The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
The compass of the world, and the dwellers therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas,

And prepared it upon the floods, &c. 8. Thus, we are furnished with the exact limits of verse and prose. However poetical in thought, and measured in sentences the latter may be, it cannot on that account make the slightest approach towards verse, unconstructed, as it is, on any regular return of the elements of speech. In fact, whenever such return becomes discernible, we are offended as with an impertinence, and the most musical sentence in prose will ever be the last to remind us of verse. We may, indeed, sometimes find an hexameter, more often a trimeter, in Greek or Latin prose ; but as being evidently such by mere accident, and according to mere scanning of syllables. For the marked pauses of verse are so wanting, that it requires some curiosity to find out that it has the feet of a complete verse. How many, if not told, would be aware that Tacitus began his Annals with an hexameter :

Urbem Romam a principio Reges habuere.

And so again, however prosaic in thought and expression, a verse may still maintain its distinctive character, and be discerned from the prose, in which quotation may have imbedded it.

We will now proceed to examine these three bases in detail.




9. The clear pronunciation of every language of ordinary cultivation, requires each syllable to be uttered in a fixed time. That time may be the same for all syllables, as it is almost entirely, in the Hebrew, pronounced according to the Masoretic rule, and as is too much the case, for poetical capability, at least, in the French. But commonly it is longer for some, shorter for others. And so constant is this regulation, that any deviation from it is felt as a vicious barbarism. An Englishman, for example, is offended at hearing his language from the mouth of a Frenchman or Welshman, who seem to pronounce all syllables in the same long time, as in wātērr. The proportion of long to short, though reckoned in Greek and Latin in the definite ratio of two to one, cannot, however, be constant, on account of the difference made by the presence of consonants in the syllables. Thus the word Christ is sensibly longer

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