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is not so distinctly marked as, of itself, to afford an harmonious measure and musical variety, there it is of necessity that poets have had recourse to Rhyme; or to some other expedient of the like nature, such as the Alliteration, for instance; which is only another way of delighting the ear by iterated sound, and may be defined, the consonance of initial letters, as rhyme is, the consonance of final syllables. All this, I say, is of necessity, because what we call verses in such languages will be otherwise untuneful, and will not strike the ear with that vivacity, which is requisite to put a sensible difference between poetic numbers and measured
In short, no method of gratifying the ear by measured sound, which experience has found pleasing, is to be neglected by the poet: and although, from the different structure and genius of languages, these methods will be different, the studious application of such methods, as each particular language allows, becomes a necessary part of his office. He will only cultivate those methods most, which tend to produce, in a given language, the most harmonious structure or measure, of which it is capable,
Hence it comes to pass, that the poetry of some modern languages cannot so much as subsist, without rhyme: In others, it is only embellished by it. Of the former sort is the French, which therefore adopts, and with good reason, rhymed verse, not in tragedy only, but in comedy: And though foreigners, who have a language differently constructed, are apt to treat this observance of rhyme as an idle affectation, yet it is but just to allow that the French themselves are the most competent judges of the natural defect of their own tongue, and the likeliest to perceive by what management such defect is best remedied or concealed.
In the latter class of languages, whose poetry is only embellished by the use of rhyme, we may reckon the Italian and the English: which being naturally more tuneful and harmonious than the French, may afford all the melody of sound which is expected in some sorts of poetry, by its varied pause, and quantity only; while in other sorts, which are more sollicitous to please the ear, and where such sollicitude, if taken notice of by the reader or hearer, is not resented, it may be proper, or rather it becomes a law of the English and Italian poetry, to adopt rhyme. Thus,
our tragedies are usually composed in blank
Our comedy, indeed, is generally written in prose; but through the idleness, or ill taste, of our writers, rather than from any other just: cause. For, though. rhyme be not necessary, or rather would be improper, in the comedy of our language, which can support itself in poetic numbers, without the diligence of rhyme; yet some sort of metre is requisite ini this humbler species of poem ; otherwise, it will not contribute all that is within its power and province, to please. And the particular: metre, proper for this species, is not far to seek. For it can plainly be no other than a careless and looser lambic, such as our language naturally runs into, even in conversation, and of which we are not without examples, in our old and best writers for the comic stage. But it is not wonderful that those critics, who take offence at English epic poems in rhyme, because the Greek, and Latin only observed quantity, should require English comedies to be written in prose, though the Greek and Latin comedies were composed in verse. For the ill application of examples, and the neglect of them, may be well enough expected from the same men, since it does not appear that their judgment was employed, or the reason of the thing attended to, in either instance.
in such a way as is found most delightful to us; that is, IN AN ORNAMENTED AND NUMEROUS. STYLE-IN THE WAY OF FICTION AND IN
Whatever deserves the name of POEM must unite these three properties; only in different degrees of each, according to its nature. For the art of every kind of poetry is only this general art so modified as the nature of each, that is, its more immediate and subordinate end, may respectively require.
We are now, then, at the well-head of the poetic art; and they who drink deeply of this spring, will be best qualified to perform the rest. But all heads' are not equal to these copious draughts; and, besides, I hear the sober reader admonishing me long since
Lusisti satis atque BIBISTI ;
Rideat, et pulset lasciva decentius AETAS.