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THE theory of rhyme, p. 1, the history of rhyme, p. 4. Its pre-
valence IN THE EAST, in the Hebrew, the Sanscrit, the Chi-
Turkish, and other oriental nations, ibid.
Amongst the Celtic nations, the British, the Irish, the Scotch,
and other less celebrated tribes.
In the third century, Commodianus, ibid.
Verses on Clothaire. Columbanus, Eugenius.
Rhyming Latin verse neglected, except in hymns and ludicrous
compositions, p. 126. Hymns on the Sacrament, to the Virgin
RHYMING LATIN VERSE.
THE peculiar beauties of poetry are addressed to the ear, as well as to the mind; they comprehend both sound and sense. Though sublime sentiments, picturesque descriptions, strong and metaphorical language, may indeed be the more important features, they are not sufficient to constitute a poem, without the harmony of numbers. Rhyme, likewise an ornament derived from sound only, has been introduced into the poetry of various countries. A practice which has delighted so many polished as well as simple nations, can scarcely be considered as childish or barbarous, and must be referable to some general principles of gratification. The recurrence of similar sounds at stated periods is pleasing to the
In music, the return to the key note at measured intervals is one of the principal sources of an
agreeable melody; and no compositions are more generally pleasing, than when there is a repetition of the same passages, either in the same identical form, or varied according to the rules of art. In some kinds of poetry, the ballad for instance, the regular return of the same words, in the shape of a refrain, burden, or chorus, is always popular, and generally pleasing
Ducite ab urbe domum, mea carmina, ducite Daphnim. Sounds which we have heard before seem to be old acquaintances : we feel at home and at ease with them; and whatever attractions there may be in novelty, there is certainly a charm in seeing or hearing what we have been accustomed to see or hear. From some such principles may be explained the origin and the effect of rhyme, which is the return, with some variations, of the same sound, and is perhaps the most universal of all the peculiarities of poetry.
Upon the first introduction of rhyme amongst unpolished nations, accustomed only to the rudest poetry, they would be easily satisfied with the most imperfect and casual coincidences of sound. In the earliest specimens we accordingly find rhyme in the most irregular forms: in some cases scarcely perceptible, in others the endless repetition of the same
individual sounds. Neither was it confined to the end, or the pauses of the lines. The return of the same syllable, or even the same letter, in various parts of the verse, produced the species of rhyme called alliteration. In the progress of improvement the public taste grew more correct and fastidious. The more complex, or less perfect forms, subsided into simple rhyme. In that it became necessary that the beginnings of rhyming syllables should be different, whilst the sound at the close should be the
An additional pleasure was produced by this union of similarity with dissimilarity. We are gratified by the perception of two things which agree in some respects, yet differ in others. To perceive the discrimination is an act of the judgement, and every exercise of the
of the mind is a source of pleasure.
In this its most perfect state, rhyme has become the greatest external characteristic of poetry in all the most refined nations of modern Europe. Attempts indeed have been made, first, I believe, by the Italians, and afterwards by some of the greatest English poets, to discard rhyme altogether. That it is a great impediment to the poet there can be no doubt, and that it may be dispensed with is demonstrated by the noble works of Milton, Thomson, and Young. Perhaps it is of too trifling a nature to