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scene of deep distress, the rhymes which finish the act, produce a certain gayety and cheerfulness, far from according with the tone of the passion:
Alicia. For ever? Oh! For ever!
And prove the torments of the last despair. Having described, in the best way I can, the impression that rhyme makes on the mind, I proceed to examine whether there be any subjects to which rhyme is peculiarly adapted, and for what subjects it is improper. Grand and lofty subjects, which have a powerful influence, claim precedence in this inquiry. In the chapter of Grandeur and Sublimity, it is established, that a grand or sublime object, inspires a warm enthusiastic emotion disdaining strict regularity and order; which emotion is very different from that inspired by the moderately enlivening music of rhyme. Supposing then an elevated subject to be expressed in rhyme, what must be the effect? The intimate union of the music with the subject, produces an intimate union of their emotions; one inspired by the subject, which tends to elevate and expand the mind; and one inspired by the music, which, confining the mind within the narrow limits of regular cadence and similar sound, tends to prevent all elevation above its own pitch. Emotions so little concordant, cannot in union have a happy effect.
But it is scarcely necessary to reason upon a case that never did, and probably never will happen, viz. an important subject clothed in rhyme, and yet supported in its utmost elevation. A happy thought or warm expression, may at times give a sudden bound upward; but it requires a genius greater than has hitherto existed, to support a poem of any length in a tone elevated much above that of the melody. Tasso and Ariosto ought not to be made exceptions, and still less Voltaire. And after all, where the poet has the dead weight of rhyme constantly to struggle with, how can we expect an uniform elevation in a high pitch; when such elevation, with all the support it can receive from language, requires the utmost effort of the human genius?
But now, admitting rhyme to be an unfit dress for grand and lofty images; it has one advantage however, which is, to raise a low subject to its own degree of elevation. Addison* observes, “That rhyme, without any other assistance, throws the language off from prose, and very often makes an indifferent phrase pass unregarded; but
• Spectator, No. 285.
where the verse is not built upon rhymes, there, pomp of sound, and energy of expression are indispensably necessary, to support the style, and keep it from falling into the flainess of prose." "This effect of rhyme is remarkable in French verse: which, being simple, and little qualified for inversion, readily sinks down to prose where pot artificially supported: rhyme is, therefore, indispensable in French tragedy, and may be proper even in French comedy. Voltaire assigns that very reason for adhering to rhyme in these composi. tions. He indeed candidly owns, that, even with the support of rhyme, the tragedies of his country are liule better than conversa. tion-pieces; which seems to infer, that the French language is weak and an improper dress for any grand subject. Voltaire was sensible of the imperfection; and yet Voltaire attempted an epic poem in that language.
The cheering and enlivening power of rhyme, is still more remarkable in poems of short lines, where the rhymes return upon the ear in a quick succession; for which reason rhyme is perfectly well adapted to gay, light, and airy subjects. Witness the following:
O the pleasing, pleasing anguish,
O the pleasing, pleasing anguish! Rosamond, Act I. Sc. 2. For that reason, such frequent rhymes are very improper for any severe or serious passion : the dissonance between the subject and the melody is very sensibly felt. Witness the following:
Now under hanging mountains,
And calls her ghost,
Now with furies surrounded,
Amidst Rodopé's snows. Pope, Ode for Music, 1. 97. Rhyme is not less unfit for anguish or deep distress, than for subjects elevated and lofty; and for that reason has been long disused in the English and Italian tragedy. In a work where the subject is serious though not elevated, rhyme has not a good effect; because the airiness of the melody agrees not with the gravity of the subject: the Essay on Man, which treats a subject great and important, would make a better figure in blank verse. Sportive love, mirth, gayety, humor, and ridicule, are the province of rhyme. The boundaries assigned it by nature, were extended in barbarous and illiterate ages;
Preface to his Oedipus, and in his discourse upon tragedy, prefixed to the tragedy of Brutus.
and in its usurpations it has long been protected by custom: but taste in the fine arts, as well as in morals, improves daily; and makes a progress toward perfection, slow indeed but uniform; and there is no reason to doubt, that rhyme, in Britain, will in time be forced to abandon its unjust conquest, and to confine itself within its natural limits.
Having said what occurred upon rhyme, I close the section with a general observation, that the melody of verse so powerfully enchants the mind, as to draw a veil over very gross faults and imperfections. Of this power a stronger example cannot be given ihan the episode of Aristæus, which closes the fourth book of the Georgics. To renew a stock of bees when the former is lost, Virgil asserts, that they may be produced in the entrails of a bullock, slain and managed in a certain manner.
This leads him to say, how this strange receipt was invented; which is as follows. Aristæus having lost his bees by disease and famine, never dreams of employing the ordinary means for obtaining a new stock; but, like a froward child, complains heavily to his mother Cyrene, a water-nymph. She advises him to consult Proteus, a sea-god, not how he was to obtain a new stock, but only by what fatality he had lost his former stock; adding, that violence was necessary, because Proteus would say nothing voluntarily. Aristæus, satisfied with this advice, though It gave him no prospect of repairing his loss, proceeds to execution. Proteus is caught sleeping, bound with cords, and compelled to speak. He declares, that Aristæus was punished with the loss of his bees, or attempting the chastity of Eurydice the wife of Orpheus; she aaving been stung to death by a serpent in flying his embraces. Proteus, whose sullenness ought to have been converted into wrath oy the rough treatment he met with, becomes on a sudden courteous ind communicative. He gives the whole history of the expedition 10 hell which Orpheus undertook in order to recover his spouse: a very entertaining story, but without the least relation to what was in view. Aristæus, returning to his mother, is advised to deprecate by sacrifices the wrath of Orpheus, who was now dead. A bullock is sacrificed, and out of the entrails spring miraculously a swarm of
Does it follow, that the same may be obtained without a miracle, as is supposed in the receipt ?
A LIST of the different FEET, and of their NAMES. 1. PHYRRHICUs, consists of two short syllables. Examples, Deus
given, cannot, hillock, running. 2. SPONDEUs, consists of two long syllables: omnes, possess, fore
warn, mankind, sometime. 3. Iambus, composed of a short and a long: pios, intent, degree,
appear, consent, repent, demand, report, suspect, affront, event. 4. Trocheus, or Choreus, a long and short: fervat, whereby
after, legal, measure, burden, holy, lofty. 5. TRIBRACHYs, three short: melius, property. 6. Molossus, three long : delectant. 9. ANAPÆstus, two short and a long: animos, condescend, appre
hend, overheard, acquiesce, immature, overcharge, serenade.
opportune. 8. Dactylus, a long and two short: carmina, evident, excellence,
estimate, wonderful, altitude, burdened, minister, tenement. 9. Bacchius, a short and two long: dolores. 10. HYPPOBACChius or ANTIBACChius, two long and a short.
pelluntur. 11. Creticus, or AMPHINACER, a short syllable between two long:
insito, afternoon 12. AMPHIBRACHYs, a long syllable between two short: honore,
consider, imprudent, procedure, attended, proposed, respondent,
concurrence, apprentice, respective, revenue. 13. PROCELEUSMATICUS, four short syllables: hominibus, necessary. 14. DISPONDEUS, four long syllables: infinitis. 15. DITAMBUs, composed of two lambi : severitas. 16. Ditroch ÆUS, of two Trochæi: permanere, procurator. 17. Ionicus, two short syllables and two long: properabant. 18. Another foot passes under the same name, composed of two long
syllables and two short: calcaribus, possessory. 19. CHORIAMBUS, two short syllables between two long: nobilitas. 20. ANTISPASTUS, two long syllables between two short: Alexander. 21. Pæon 1st, one long syllable and three short: temporibus,
ordinary, inventory, temperament. 22. Peon 2d, the second syllable long, and the other three short:
rapidity, solemnity, minority, considered, imprudently, extrara
gant, respectfully, accordingly. 23. PÆON 3d, the third syllable long and the other three short:
animatus, independent, condescendence, sacerdotal, reimburse
ment, manufacture. 24. PÆON 4th, the last syllable long and the other three short:
celeritas. 25. EPITRITUS 1st, the first syllable short and the other three long:
voluptates. 26. EPITRITUS 2d, the second syllable short and the other three
long: pænitentes. 27. EpitriTUS 3d, the third syllable short and the other three long
discordias. 28. Epitritus 4th, the last syllable short and the other three long:
fortunatus. 29. A word of five syllables composed of a Pyrrhichius and Dac.
tylus: ministeriäl. 30. A word of five syllables composed of a Trochæus and Dactylus:
singularity 31. A word of five syllables, composed of a Dactylus and Trochæus:
precipitation, examination. 32. A word of five syllables, the second only long: significancy. 33. A word of six syllables composed of two Dactyles: impetuosity. 34. A word of six syllables composed of a Tribrachys and Dac
tylæ: pusillanimity. N. B. Every word may be considered as a prose foot, because
Ch. 19.) every word is distinguished by a pause; and every foot in verse may be considered as a verse word, composed of syllables pronounced at once without a pause.
Comparisons serve to instruct and to please–They suggest some unusual contrast
or resemblance—They set objects in their proper light—They associate them with other objects that are agreeable-They elevate objects—They depress them—Objects of different senses not to be compared – Things of the same kind not to be compared—Things of different kinds not to be contrasted-Abstract terms not the subject of comparison, unless personified-Two kinds of comparisons-Comparisons not proper for every occasion-Illustrated-Not disposed to pathetic flights, when cool and sedate, or when oppressed with care-Similes delightful, when the mind is elevated or animated by passion-The mind often in a tone to relish embellishing comparisons—The severe passions enemies to comparisons-A comparison faulty, though properly introduced-By being too fain-By being too low—By being too high-A comparison not to be drawn from a disagreeable object-Comparisons existing in words only, the most objectionable—A species of comparison that excites gayety.
COMPARISONS, as observed above,* serve two purposes; when addressed to the understanding, their purpose is to instruct; when to the heart, their purpose is to please. Various means contribute to the latter; first, the suggesting of some unusual resemblance or contrast; second, the setting of an object in the strongest light; third, the associating of an object with others that are agreeable; fourth, the elevating of an object; and, fifth, the depressing of it. And that comparisons may give pleasure by these various means, appear from what is said in the chapter above cited; and will be made still more evident by examples, which shall be given after premising some general observations.
Objects of different senses cannot be compared together; for such objects, being entirely separated from each other, have no circumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Objects of hearing may be compared together, as also of taste, of smell, and of touch: but the chief fund of comparison are objects of sight; because, in writing or speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of sight are more distinct and lively than those of any other sense.
When a nation emerging out of barbarity begins to think of the fine arts, the beauties of language cannot long lie concealed; and when discovered, they are generally, by the force of novelty, carried beyond moderation. Thus, in the early poems of every nation, we find metaphors and similes founded on slight and distant resemblances, which, losing their grace with their novelty, wear gradually out of repute; and now, by the improvement of taste, none but correct metaphors and similes are admitted into any polite composition.
• Chap. 8.