The Formation of Prose Rhythm in Middle English Before c 1350
I have endeavored elsewhere to make good the position that if any one would English prosody win, with Middle English he must needs begin. The truth (though a stage of preliminary enquiry, then almost unimportant, is now of great importance,) remains still true in regard to prose; and it could not but be so, seeing that it is in this period that the English language proper is formed, and that, in consequence, we must look to it for the origin of all the formal characteristics of English literature. But the quest is here much more darkling, and the results scantier and more doubtful, than in the case of verse. In the first and main place, we have now returned to the usual law of literary order which Anglo-Saxon seems to violate, or at least to ignore. The new blend achieves itself slowly; and such achievement as there is, for the first two or three centuries, is mainly in verse.