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To what has been said of the contraction and lengthening of words may be added, that there are some English words which are not allowed to pass in verse for two syllables, though in sound they are such, and cannot be pronounced in one. Of these the following is an account.
" Our short u, sounded as in but, is pronounced easiest of all the vowels, and therefore is a great favourite with my countrymen; it is commonly inserted between e, i, o, u (when long), and r; as a there, fire, more, pure, which we pronounce theur, fiur, mour, &c. I think hire and dire have as fair a claim to be counted dissyllables as higher and dyer, though we will not allow them the same rank in verse.* If you repeat
For high renown the heaven-born poets strive, Actors for higher (hire) in toils incessant live,
a person may think you mean to reflect upon the players when you intend them a compliment. Or in describing a drunken quarrel, if you end with these lines :
The blood that streamed from the gash profound, With scarlet dire distain'd their garments round, Sad scarlet dyer he who gave the wound.
Should you, in reading them, transpose the dire, dyer, into each other's places, you would not per-
• Crying that's good that's gone: our rash faults.
Shaksperc, " All's Well that Ends Well." In this line our stands for two syllables, which indeed it may fairly claim; for the organs of speech, after sounding any long vowel or diphthong, cannot proceed to sound the letter r without being in a position to sound the short « (sometimes, however, represented in writing by t), as higher.