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§ II.

THE measure of English verfe depends on a certain order and fucceffion of accented and unaccented syllables.

The common heroic line consists of ten fyllables; the first of which is generally unaccented; the fecond, fourth, sixth, eighth, and tenth are accented.


Achilles' wráth, to Gréece the díreful spring
Of wóes unnumber'd, héav'nly góddeís, síng;
That wrath, which húrl❜d to Plúto's gloomy reign
The fouls of mighty chiefs, untimely sláin;
Whofe limbs unbúry'd, ón the naked fhórę,
Devouring dogs and húngry vultures tóre.

Il. i. 1.

Now mórn her rósy stéps, in th' eastern clíme,
Advancing, fów'd the earth with orient pearl.
Parad. Loft. v.^1.

The Iambic foot, among the Greeks and Romans, confifted of a short syllable, followed by a long one, as dies. Hence our heroic verfe, which is formed by an alternate fucceffion of unaccented and accented fyllables, is said, but

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not with ftrict propriety, to be composed in the Iambic measure.

In reading all poetical lines, it is necessary to pause at every stop, in proportion to its nature and extent; that is, whether a comma, a femicolon, a colon, a period, an interrogation, or an exclamation, as we do in profe, and to proceed from point to point, with a voice properly varied and fupported. Where there is no point in the line, there is a poetical reft, or a certain place, at which the voice fhould be relieved, and, as it were, take a new fpring. This is usually called the cafura*, and is abfolutely neceffary in every line of eight, ten, or twelve fyllables, for the ease of the voice, which cannot be supported, to any great extent, without some difficulty.


Judges and fenates-have been bought for gold;
Efteem and love-were never to be fold.

Eff. on M. iv. 187.

Here dangling pears-exalted scents unfold;

And yellow apples-ripen into gold.

Odyf. xi. 729.

Cæfura, from cædere to cut, in modern poetry, fignifies a reft or pause, by which the verfe is, as it were, divided into

two parts, fometimes called hemiftichs.


This reft will be more particularly explained and illuftrated hereafter. See & XI.

Lay a fmall ftrefs on the last fyllable in the line, wherever it will bear it. This is neceffary; first, because in every harmonious verse, the last fyllable is in the accented place, and, in that position, every monofyllable requires the fame force in pronunciation, as an accented fyllable in longer words: as, the fecond fyllable in condemn, contrive; and the third fyllable in apprehend, entertain. Secondly, a small stress is neceffary, because in all poetry, except blank verfe, the last word in the line has a corresponding rhyme, and the found of the former word, in that affociation, ihould leave fome flight impreffion on the ear.

I have intimated, that the last syllable will not always bear an accent, as in the following couplets:

So on Mæander's banks, when death is night,
The mournful fwan fings her own elegy *.


* Ov. Met. xiv. 430. This fable will be confidered hereafter, under the Art. CAYSTER.

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Rais'd by thefe hopes, I fent no news before,
But come, without a pledge, my own ambassadour.
Id. n. viii. 190.

As when the mountain-oak, or poplar tall,
Or pine, fit mait for fome great admiral.

II. xiii. 493.

But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies.

Eff. on M. i. 29.

In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or fpite, or fmut, or rhymes, or blafphemies.

Prol. to Sat. 321,

Unthought-of frailties cheat us in the wife;
The fool lies hid in inconfiftencies.

Pope, Mor. Eff. i. 69.

He, far thy better, was foredoom'd to die;
"And thou, doft thou, bewail mortality ?


Il. xxi. 117.



Nothing can compenfate the want of harmony in fuch lines as thefe, but the the expreffion, or the beauty of the fentiment, which the laft couplet feems to poffefs. Where there is neither of thefe excellences, the poet is inexcufable. In reading them we cannot fully comply with the rhyme, without falling Into a drawling and ridiculous pronunciation. On this account, even a blank verse can scarcely end with dignity, when the last word is a polyfyllable,

fyllable, or a word confisting of above two or

three fyllables.


That to the height of this great argument,

I may affert eternal providence.

P. L. i. 24.

Juft confidence, and native righteousness. ix. 1056.

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As we cannot lay any regular accent on the laft fyllable in any of the foregoing lines, we can only favour the meafure in fome finall degree, by pronouncing fuch polyfyllables lefs rapidly and indiftinctly than we fhould do in profe.

But though fuch words as argument, righteoufness, ceremonies, &c. may be allowed to stand at the end of a blank verse, especially in tragedies, where the style is not so poetical and elevated, as in an epic poem, an elegant writer will feldom employ them in composing a rhyme. We have but few inftances of this kind in the

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