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DEVELOPMENT OF VERSIFICATION. 255
And so it is in word-composition also. Milton's sublime melody, Shakspere's mellifluous rhythmic flow, and the silvery ring of the Elizabethan lyric, remain for all times standards of excellence which succeeding songsters can only attempt to imitate and combine into new varieties. To try to analyse the methods of genius, or to frame rules for the production of a work of art like a poem, is, on the face of it, absurd; all we aim at here is to trace briefly the process of smoothing the harsh elements of our tongue, and the grafting upon it of the various embellishments necessary to the production of melodious verse.
Our mother tongue was brought over from the lowlands of North Germany by our Teutonic forefathers when they conquered and dispersed the Celts of South Britain, and settled there, from A.D. 450 to 600. They were a fierce, warlike, and heathen race, but they had within them those sterling characteristics which have enabled them to develop into the foremost nation of modern times. Their language was as rugged and harsh as their habits, but, like most semi-barbarous people, they strung together in it and sang rude verses in praise of their warriors and gods. We learn this of them as soon as history records their existence. They embraced Christianity in the seventh century, and readily began to settle down to peaceful and civilised modes of life. Their crude verses, though still full of deeds of daring and prowess, began to mellow into softness by the admission into them of the sentiment of patriotism, love of home and its sur-