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And in Prose writing, we have historical, descriptive, didactic, and epistolary compositions in an almost infinite variety of kinds and qualities.
711. Poetry is the glowing language of impassioned feeling, generally found in measured lines, and often in rhyme.
Most ancient people have had their poets; and among the Hebrews they were called Prophets.
David was an inspired poet of the Hebrews.
712. The Greeks were the fathers of poetry, literature, philosophy and arts. Homer was the first, and the prince of poets; and he celebrated the siege of Troy in the Iliad and Odyssey, two epic poems, which never have, and perhaps, never can be surpassed.
In the same line of poetical composition, he was followed, after 900 years, by Virgil in the Æneid :
By Tasso, after another 1500 years, in the Jerusalem Delivered :
And by Milton, about 150 years ago, in Paradise Lost ;-the finest poem ever written after the Iliad.
713. The Greeks, besides, boasted of their Pindar and Anacreon, in Lyric poetry; and of Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles, and Eschylus, in dramatic poetry.
After them among the Romans, followed Ovid and Tibullus ; among dramatists, Plautus, and Terence; of didactic and philosophic poets, they had also Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, and Silius Italicas.
All these were so many miracles of human genius ; and their works afford so many models of their respective species of composition.
Obs.- Most of the works of the ancients have, in sentiment, if not in spirit, been translated into English. Thus, we have Pope's and Cowper's Homer; Dryden's Virgil; West's Pin
dar; Colman's Euripides and Sophocles; Garth's Ovid; Busby's and Good's Lucretius ; Francie's Horace; and others.
714. Approaching nearer to our own times, as the literature of the ancients, after a long night of monkish superstition and darkness, was revived in Italy in the 15th century, so the first exertions of modern literature were made in that country :
Hence, their Dante, Ariosto, Petrarch, and Tasso, who were followed in France, by Racine, Corneille, Boileau, Voltaire, Fontaine, and Delille :
And, in England, by Chaucer, Spencer, Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Young, Collins,
715. Besides these great names, we have had in England, at least, twenty other poets; whose works would vie with others of any age or country.
Thus, we have in didactic and sentimental poetry, our Goldsmith, Cowper, Darwin, Mason, Addison, Johnson, Akenside, Armstrong, Porteus, Blackmore, W. Dyer, Robinson, Watts, Cumberland, Dermody, and Beattie.
In satirical poetry, Butler, Anstey, and Churchill.
In pastoral, Shenstone, Gay, Cunningham, and Ramsey. In lyric poetry, Cowley, Smith, and Burns.
Obs.-Among admired living poets, may be named Wolcot, Crabbe, Roscoe, Southey, Coleridge, Rogers, Campbell
, Bloomfield, Wordsworth, Cottle, Sotheby, Colman, Shee, Taylor, Barbauld, Byron, Moore, Mathias, Scott, Dibdin, and some others; whose meritorious works will be impartially judged and estimated by a future age; but to which, for the present, we can only wish due immortality,
“ The Poet! hallow'd, honoured name!
C6 The mossy cave, and sylvan grot,
66 The knell of that departed soul.” 716. Poetry is classed under the heads epic, or heroic; dramatic, or representative; lyric, or suited to music, as odes, songs, &c.; didactic, or instructive ; elegiac, or sentimental and affecting ; satirical, epigrammatic, or witty and ludicrous; and pastoral, or descriptive of rustic life.
Versification, in the English language, depends on the length and shortness of syllables, the modulation of the accents, and the dis; -osition of the pauses. It is either rhyme, or recurring rhyme, alternate or interchanging rhyme, or in triplets of three lines ; or blank verse, the noblest and grandest of all our measures.
717. The heroic verse consists generally of ten syl. lables ; and its harmony depends on the regular distribution of accented and unaccented syllables; and its character of solemnity or liveliness, depends on the order, and length or shortness of those syllables.
Thus, when the accent is on every other syllable, it is called iambic verse ; as,
A shepherd's boy, he seeks no higher name,
Led forih his flock beside the silver Thame. 718. The monotony of recurring accents, is obviated by the varied disposition of the cesural pause. When this pause is on the fourth syllable, the strain is smooth and airy ; as,
Soft is the strain / when zephyr gently blows,
Or, it is still quicker, when placed at the second syllable ; as,
Not so I when swift Camilla scours the plain. Obs.--Bui, as in the first instance, our heroic measure ad. mits of great variety in its composition: Soft is, being a troshee; and the, being a pyrrhic; and the smooth stream, a spondee.
719. The following afford instances of various pauses, which give as many different effects to the lines:
O friend, I may each domestic bliss be thine ;
Me | let the tender office long engage,
O cruel, beauteous, I ever lovely, I tell
Is it in heaven a crime to love too well ? 720. The anapestic, is where the accent falls on every third syllable ; as,
I am monarch of all I survey,
T'is night | and the landscape is lovely no more;
Various other kinds of verses are to be found in the works of the poets ; but the above are the most com
721. The first historian among the GREEKS, was Herodotus; they had also Thucidides and Xenophon.
The orations of Demosthenes and Isocrates, are master-pieces of eloquence.
The moral writings of Epictetus, Æsop, and Plato, are deservedly cherished.
In philosophy, Aristotle was a universal and wonderful genius ; and Euclid and Pythagoras were the fathers of geometry and music.
They also carried painting and statuary to the highest pitch ; of the former, we have no perfect specimens ; but the statues of Phidias and Praxiteles are still unrivalled.
722. The Greeks were followed by the ROMANS : in history, by their Livy, Tacitus, Justin, Polybius, and Sallust :
In eloquence, by Cicero ;
In criticism, they had their Quinctilian and Longinus ; and numerous other writers in every branch of knowledge.
The Romans were followed by the ITALIAN Guiechardini, Davila, Petrarch, Poggio, &c.
FRANCE boasts of its Montesquieu, Voltaire, D'Alembert, and Marmontel.
GERMANY, of its Schiller, Kotzebue, Klopstock, and Wieland.
And SPAIN of its Cervantes and Lopez de Vega.
723. The genius of ENGLAND, favoured by political liberty, has proved itself little inferior to that of ancient Greece; it has excelled in every branch of literature.
In historical compositions, we have had Clarendon, Robertson, Hume, Gibbon, Belsham, Roscoe, and Gillies;
In morals, Locke, Addison, Johnson, Swift, Hawkesworth, Paley, and Blair ;
In philosophy, Bacon, Harvey, Newton, Boyle, Clarke, Priestley, Halley, Franklin, Hunter, Berkeley, and Jenner; In legislation, Coke, Blackstone, and Mansfield ;
In mathematics, Briggs, Newton, Simpson, Emera son, Waring, and Hutton;
In chemistry, Black, Priestley, and Davy;
In romance, Richardson, Fielding, Defoe, Smola lett, Sterne, and Burney.