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SECTION I. - Preliminary Remarks. Prosody is the fourth and last part of Grammar, and treats of the construction of verse, and comprises all connected with poetical composition, in distinction from that of prose.
The word Prosody is derived from two Greek words - pros ode, which we may understand to imply-pertaining to the ode; and, by the common consent of grammarians, is used to imply rules for all kinds of poetical composition.
The Greeks were the first people who made any great advances in science, and who formed institutes and rules of grammar. From them the Romans, and other nations, derived the principles and knowledge of grammar; and hence the technical terms pertaining to grammar (as well as of some other sciences) are of Greek derivation. Odes were among their first and most ancient compositions, and prior to the days of Homer; hence, on the formation of their grammar (which was commenced at an early, period) that part which treated of poetical compositions was called Prosody.
On entering upon this branch of science, it is obvious to remark -the cardinal principles of prosody, together with the technical terms pertaining thereto, being derived from the Greeks, have come down from antiquity to the nations of modern Europe. Those cardinal principles are essentially the same in all languages, antient and modern ; but the rules and technical terms, adopted by the
Greeks, are not alike applicable to all languages. They were very properly applicable to the Greek language, and also to the Roman; but on account of the different idioms and modes of speech, they are not so properly applicable to our modern languages. From a want of due attention to this, and also to some other circumstances, our writers on prosody have erred, and involved the subject in obscurity, by following too implicitly in the footsteps of the antient Greeks; and by giving definitions of the technical terms, and elementary parts of verse, not as they apply to our language and modes of speech. These, and other errors may be noticed in our modern writers on prosody: and hence it may be seen that there is a want of agreement between their rules and precepts, and the examples of our English poets, who, having followed the genius and idioms of their own native language, have not fallen into those
Those errors I aim to avoid, and hence, in descanting on this subject, I follow no writer, antient or modern; but having deduced rules and principles from the examples of our English poets, and the genius of our language, I shall lay them down as the only just rules of English prosody. I shall (as others have done) make use of the technical terms, handed down from the Greeks; but shall define them and use them as they apply to the idioms of our language, and to English poetry.
Section II. - Definitions, foc. Prosody treats of versification, and teaches the rules for poetical composition, and all pertaining thereto: viz. the elementary and component parts of verse; the different orders or kinds of verse, with their different forms and metres; also, reading and scanning verse, description of poems, &c.
Verse is poetry in contradistinction from prose: it is language restrained to numbers; and numbers are sounds and pauses, arranged in such order, as will produce harmonious sounds.
Of Sounds. The sounds of which numbers are composed are the sounds of syllables, of which language is composed; the same which pertain to prosaic compositions, and are equally common to prose and verse : the different order of their arrangement, only, constitutes them poetic numbers, or prose. They are known and distinguished by the different names of orthoepy, accent, cadence, emphasis, and tones.
These sounds, having been properly defined and treated of in their proper place, in the first part of the institute, the definitions, &c. need not be repeated here at full length ; I shall, therefore, only give concise definitions of them here, and consider them in relation to this subject, and their uses in forming poetic numbers.
Of Orthoepy. Orthoepy teaches the proper sounds of syllables, of which words and language are composed, in iheir crude and primal state, or unaffected by accent, cadence, &c. Those sounds are numerous, various, and diverse, as will be hereafter noticed. Orthoepic sounds are the groundwork of language; and in order to give language its finishing stroke, these are varied by accent, cadence, emphasis, and tones.
Of Accent. Accent is a stress of voice which falls on a syllable, or syllables in a word, by which it is distinguished from and heard above the rest; and by which the sound is elevated and protracted; as, in the following words: cadence, accent, presúme.
Of Cadence. Cadence is the reverse or counterpart to accent; a falling or depression of voice on syllables unaccented: and by which the sound is shortened and depressed.
Of Emphasis. Emphasis is accent augmented; it is a stress of voice which falls on words in a sentence, which are more im. portant and significant. It falls promiscuously on words of one syllable and those of more than one; and when it falls on words of more than one syllable, it falls on the accented syllables only, in all common cases.
Of Tones. Tones are the modulations and inflections of the voice, which we use in expressing the various passions, feelings, and sentiments we utter. They are taught by nature, and are various, as circumstances require: solemn or airy, interrogative or responsive, plaintive, mournful