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TREATISE ON VERSIFICATION.
ON THE NATURE OF VERSE IN GENERAL.
1. THE word Verse has been derived from the Latin tongue, in which it means in general a turning, and, in particular, the turning of the ox and plough at the end of the furrow. Thence, by an obvious figure, it was applied to a written line, whether in prose or verse; for in the primitive fashion of writing, the letters of the consecutive line turned in a direction opposite to that of the preceding, as does the horse or ox in the consecutive furrow. But apart from this particular custom, a stone or parchment crossed with lines could not but put the farmers, as all then were, very forcibly in mind of a field crossed with furrows,
and lead them to the figurative language. Thus we are referred, by this meaning of the word, not to any quality of the language employed, but simply to the quantity of space occupied on the leaf, stone, or tablet. And since poetry was the main subject of transcription in the interval between the periods of sculptured monuments and familiar prose writing, the term Verse came to be appropriated to its measured line, and in this sense only has entered ours and every other modern language.
Here then we find the first article of its definition, which is, that it is of an assigned extent. But further, this assigned extent, on being repeated, leads us to demand a similarity of structure; and the marks of this similarity must of course be expressed by the recitation, through which alone, originally, verse was conveyed to the mind, and to which, at all times, even while read only by the eye, it is referred by the mind, and so regarded by it exclusively according to the effects on .the ear. But these are constant and essential only as to the individual words: they are variable as to sentences. Now the recitation of words involves but three things: (1) A certain length of time given to the pronunciation of each syllable. (2) The pronunciation of each syllable in a certain key. (3) The pronunciation of it in a certain loudness of tone. The similarity of structure, there