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perhaps the better in the end for both parties. The time is perhaps coming when the best prose shall be more like verse than it now is, and the best verse shall not disdain a certain resemblance to prose.
A word in conclusion, to prevent misconception. We have tried to define the special and peculiar domain of verse; but we have scrupulously avoided saying anything that would imply an opinion that verse may not, both lawfully and with good effect, go beyond that domain. We have all along supposed the contrary. Verse, merely as a form of expression, has charms of its own. A thought, or an incident, or a feeling, which may be perfectly well expressed in prose, may be rendered more pleasing, more impressive, and more memorable, by being expressed in metre or rhyme. If a man has some doctrine or theory which he wishes to expound, there is no reason, if he finds it possible, and chooses to take the trouble, why he should not make the exposition a metrical one; and, if his verses are good, there is every probability that, on account of the public relish for metre in itself, his exposition will take a more secure place in literature than would have been attained by a corresponding piece of didactic prose. So also a witticism, or a description, or a plain, homely story, may often be delivered more neatly, tersely, and delightfully, if it comes in the garb of verse. In the same way, a man may impress more powerfully some strongly-felt sentiment, by throwing it into a series of nervous and hearty lines. In short, we ought to be ready to accept wit in metre, or narrative in metre, or politics in metre, or anything else in metre, when we can get it; and we ought, in every such case, to allow all that additional credit to the author which is due to his skill in so delightful an art as versification. Much of the poetry of Horace, all the satires of Juvenal, the Hudibras of Butler, Pope's metrical essays, and many other compositions of tolerably diverse kinds, may be cited as examples of that order of poetry which consists of shrewdness, wit, manly feeling, and general intellectual vigour manifesting themselves in metre. Who does not admire the exquisite literary felicity displayed in such works, and who, having them in his mind,
can remain insensible to the claims of verse, to range at large wherever it chooses to go? What we wish to make clear, however, is, that a distinction may and must be drawn between verse considered as an essential condition of a peculiar kind of thought, and verse considered as an optional form of expression, which may be chosen, in almost any case, for the sake of its fine and elegant effects. The fact that verse may be regarded in this latter aspect is, we think, the sole justification of nine-tenths of what is called poetry in all languages.