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of poetical ornaments, which, by embellishing, may conceal the dryness of the subject, and, at the same time, amuse the imagination. But are you sure that you yourself never read any poetry the only design of which was to instruct ? Are you sure that it is never calculated to impress any particular truth on the memory better than plain prose alone could do? Think a little."
Rosina thought :--and in a few moments she recalled her too hasty opinion upon the subject, for she suddenly recollected some verses she had learned in Maria Hack's little grammar, called the “ Parts of Speech,” and which had, she said, impressed their distinguishing characteristics more firmly on her mind than any verbal instruction she had ever received ; and she began to repeat:
“First comes the little particle
And then the mighty noon;
Great store of questions that might bring,
A person or a town,” &c. &c. This led to farther research, and she recollected the facility with which she had acquired the names of the kings of England in succession, by means of a verse familiar to most little girls of Rosina's age: “ William the Conqu’ror long did reign,
And Rufus his son by an arrow was slain,” &c. : « Then there are the multiplication tables, in the charity school," said she ; “I suppose they are put into rhyme that the children' may remember them more easily. I readily allow, now, sister, that poetry is not half so difficult to learn by rote as prose, and that it may, therefore, be employed as an agreeable and useful mode of conveying instruction.” - As soon as the important question
was decided respecting the facility with which poetry and prose might be committed to memory, Clara repeated her inquiries about didactic composition.
“ Didactic poetry professes to convey useful' knowledge and instruction on some particular subject,” said Mr. C., “and is generally employed to enforce popular and acknowledged truths, or to make some beneficial impression on the mind : this, indeed, should be the ultimate end of all poetry as well as of every other composition.” . .
“Then do you think all poetry ought to be didactic, papa ?"
“ Not decidedly didactic, my love. I am of opinion that pastoral poetry may be made the means of conveying useful information, by teaching those who are apt to suppose happiness is the result of ambition, power, and glory-that it may be found amidst the secluded
scenes of rural life ; yet we do not call pastoral poetry, generally speaking, didactic. Epic poetry, as the vehicle of historical knowledge, may stimulate 'to renewed exertion the mind which had otherwise lain dormant, and inform the uninformed how to trace the unerring hand of Providence in every event of human life; but epic poetry differs materially from that which is termed didactic ;_descriptive poetry too may convey instruction in a thousand different ways, and yet not pretend to any thing more than mere description. But I might enlarge till you were tired, were I to endeavour to enumerate the various useful purposes to which poetry may be applied. Each separate species may, in the hands of a skilful writer, convey some good precept or afford some moral lesson calculated to improve the taste, correct the judgment, or rectify the
heart of the reader, though it is the distinguishing characteristic of didactic poetry to be more decidedly instructive."
“ Is fable comprehended under this head, papa? You know fable is intended to convey instruction, only in a disguised form."
“ Fable, my dear, is generally intended to make a useful impression on the mind by indirect methods, by representations of characters that never really existed, whilst didactic poetry employs no such subterfuges, however laudable they may be, but openly professes its intention of conveying knowledge and instruction, and differs therefore in form only from a philosophical or moral treatise in prose; though it undoubtedly has, at the same time, several advantages over the latter, Instruction is rendered more agreeable by the charm of versification ; useful circumstances are