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style, are expected : but for subjects of a higher order, where any enthusiasm or emotion is to be expressed, or for poems of a greater length, blank verse is undoubtedly preferable. An epic poem in rhyme appears to be such a sort of thing, as the Æneid would have been if it had been written, like Ovid's Fasti, in hexameter and
pentamer verses; and the reading it would have been as tedious as the travelling through that one long, strait, avenue of firs, that leads from Moscow to Petersburgh. I will give the reader Mr. Pope's own opinion on this subject, and in his own words, as delivered to Mr. Spence: “I have nothing to say for rhyme ;* but that I doubt
Boileau, whose practice it was to make the second line of a couplet before the first, having written in his second satire) this line,
Dans mes vers recousus mettre en pieces Malherbe,
it was thought impossible by La Fontaine and Moliere, and other critical friends, for him to find a proper rhyme for the word Malherbe : at last he hit upon the following:
Et transposant cent fois & le nom & le verbe.
Upon shewing which line to La Fontaine, he cried out, “ Ah! how happy have you been, my friend! I would give the very
if a poem can support itself without it in our language, unless it be stiffened with such strange words as are likely to destroy our language itself. The high style that is affected so much in blank verse, would not have been supported even in Milton, had not his subject turned so much on such strange and out of the world things as it does."* May we not, however, venture to observe, that more of that true harmony which will best support a poem, will result from a variety of pauses, and from an intermixture of those different feet (iambic and trochaïc particularly) into which our language naturally falls, than from the uniformity of similar terminations?
best of all my Tales to have made such a discovery." So important in the eyes of the French poets is a lucky rhyne ! Voltaire gives us the following anecdote. Questions sur l'Encycloped. Partie 5, 255 page.. " Je me souviendrai toujours que je demandai au célébre Pope, pourquoi Milton n'avait pas rimé son Paradis perdu ; & qu'il me répondit, Because he could not ; parce qu'il ne le pouvait pas."-But the most harmonious of rhymers has said, “ What rhyme adds
“ What rhyme adds to sweetness, it takes away from sense.” DRYDEN.-The rhymes in L'Allegro and Il Penseroso are just and correct.
* But there are many passages in Milton of the most flow. ing softness and smoothness, without any marks of this high style, any hard or antiquated words, or harsh inversions, which are by no means essential to blank verse.
" There can be no music," says Cowley," with only one note.”
17. Blest paper-credit! last and best supply !
That lends corruption lighter wings to fly!
“ Not one of my works (said Pope to Mr. Spence) was more laboured than my Epistle on the Use of Riches." It does, indeed, abound in knowledge of life, and in the justest satire. The lines above quoted, have also the additional merit of touching on a subject that never occurred to former satirists. And though it was difficult to say any thing new about avarice, “a vice that has been so pelted (says Cowley) with good sentences," yet has our author done it so success
* The word flits heightens the satire, by giving us the strong idea of an obscene and ill-omened bird.
+ Of the Use of Riches, v. 39.
fully, that this epistle, together with Lord Bacon's thirty.third Essay, contains almost all that can be said on the use and abuse of riches, and the absurd extremes of avarice and profusion. But our poet has enlivened his precepts with só many various characters, pictures, and images, as may entitle him to claim the preference over all that have treated on this tempting subject, down from the time of the Plutus of Aristophanes. That very lively and amiable old nobleman, the late Lord BATHURST, told me,
" that he was much surprised to see what he had with repeated pleasure so often read as an epistle addressed to himself, in this edition converted into a dialogue ; in which,” said he, “ I perceive I really make but a shabby and indifferent figure, and contribute very little to the spirit of the dialogue, if it must be a dialogue; and I hope I had generally more to say for myself in the many charming conversations I used to hold with Pope and Swift, and my old poetical friends.”
18. A Statesman's slumbers how this speech would spoil!
“ Sir, Spain has sent a thousand jars of oil;
Nothing * Ver. 55.
Nothing can exceed this ridicule of the many inconveniencies that would have encumbered villainy, by bribing and by paying in kind. The following examples carry the satire still higher, and can hardly be thought to be excelled by any strokes of irony and humour in the best parts of Horace, Juvenal, or Boileau.
His Grace will game ; to White's a bull be led,
We can only lament that our author did not live long enough to be a witness of the midnight
* As a consecrated beast to a sacrifice; and alluding to Virgil, with much pleasantry:
Jam cornu petat, & pedibus qui spargat arenam.
+ Alluding to the prizes that Achilles bestows in the games of Homer. Iliad. 23. b.