Obrazy na stronie

While t'other bore the crown (to wreath thy brow,)
Whose weight has sunk me ere I reach'd the shore.

There is an enchanting picture of deep distress in Macbeth, where Macduff is represented lamenting his wife and children, inhumanly murdered by the tyrant. Stung to the heart with the news, he questions the messenger over and over; not that he doubted the fact, but that his heart revolted against so cruel a misfortune. After struggling some time with his grief, he turns from his wife and children to their savage butcher, and then gives vent to his resentment, but still with manliness and dignity.

Oh! I could play the woman with mine eyes,

And braggart with my tongue. But, gentle Heav'n!

Cut short all intermission; front to front

Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself:

Within my sword's length set him. If he 'scape,

Then Heav'n forgive him too.

The whole scene is a delicious picture of human nature. One expression only seems doubtful; in examining the messenger, Macduff expresses himself thus:

He hath no children. All my pretty ones!

Did you say, all? what, all? Oh, hell-kite! all?

What! All my pretty little chickens and their dam,
At one fell swoop!

Metaphorical expression, I am sensible, may sometimes be used with grace, where a regular simile would be intolerable; but there are situations so severe and dispiriting, as not to admit even the slightest metaphor. It requires great delicacy of taste to determine with firmness, whether the present case be of that kind; I incline to think it is; and yet I would not willingly alter a single word of this admirable scene.

But metaphorical language is proper when a man struggles to bear with dignity or decency a misfortune

* Act IV. Sc. 6


however great: the struggle agitates and animates the mind:

Wolsey. Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls as I do.


SECTION VII.-Figure of Speech.

In the section immediately foregoing, a figure of speech is defined, "The using a word in a sense different from what is proper to it ;" and the new or uncommon sense of the word is termed the figurative sense. The figurative sense must have a relation to that which is proper; and the more intimate the relation is, the figure is the more happy. How ornamental this figure is to language, will not be readily imagined by any one who hath not given peculiar attention; and therefore I shall endeavor to unfold its capital beauties and advantages. In the first place, a word used figuratively, or in a new sense, suggests, at the same time, the sense it commonly bears: and thus it has the effect to present two objects; one signified by the figurative sense, which may be termed the principal object; and, one signified by the proper sense, which may be termed accessory; the principal makes a part of the thought; the accessory is merely ornamental. In this respect, a figure of speech is precisely similar to concordant sounds in music, which, without contributing to the melody, makes it harmonious. I explain myself by examples. Youth, by a figure of speech, is termed the morning of life. This expression signifies youth, the principal object, which enters into the thought it suggests, at the same time, the proper sense of morn ing; and this accessory object, being in itself beautiful, and connected by resemblance to the principal object,

[blocks in formation]

is not a little ornamental. Imperious ocean is an example of a different kind, where an attribute is expressed figuratively: together with stormy, the figurative meaning of the epithet imperious, there is suggested its proper meaning, viz. the stern authority of a despotic prince; and these two are strongly connected by resemblance.

In the next place, this figure possesses a signal power of aggrandizing an object by the following means. Words which have no original beauty but what arises from their sound, acquire an adventitious beauty from their meaning a word signifying any thing that is agreeable, becomes, by that means, agreeable; for the agreeableness of the object is communicated to its name. This acquired beauty, by the force of custom, adheres to the word even when used figuratively; and the beauty received from the thing it properly signifies, is communicated to the thing which it is made to signify figuratively. Consider the foregoing expression, imperious ocean, how much more elevated it is than stormy ocean.

Thirdly, this figure hath a happy effect, by preventing the familiarity of proper names. The familiarity of a proper name is communicated to the thing it signifies, by means of their intimate connexion; and the thing is thereby brought down in our own feeling. This bad effect is prevented by using a figurative word instead of the one that is proper; as, for example, when we express the sky by terming it the blue vault of heaven; for, though no work of art can compare with the sky in grandeur, the expression however is relished, because it prevents the object from being brought down by the familiarity of its proper name. Lastly, by this figure, language is enriched, and rendered more copious; in which respect, were there no other, a figure of speech is a happy invention.

The beauties I have mentioned belong to every figure of speech. Several other beauties, peculiar to

Noh so in every

The Sky line is better in some instances them horizon.

one or other sort, I shall have occasion to remark afterward.

Not only subjects, but qualities, actions, effects, may be expressed figuratively. Thus, as to subjects, the gates of breath for the lips, the watery kingdom for the ocean. As to qualities, fierce for stormy, in the ex, pression Fierce winter: Breathing for perspiring; Breathing plants. Again, as to actions, The sea rages, Time will melt her frozen thoughts, Time kills grief. An effect is put for the cause, as light for the sun; and a cause for the effect, as the labors of oxen for corn. The relation of resemblance is one plentiful source of figures of speech; and nothing is more common than to apply to one object the name of another that resembles it in any respect. Height, size, and worldly greatness, resemble not each other; but the emotions they produce resemble each other; and, prompted by this resemblance, we naturally express worldly greatness by height or size: one feels a certain uneasiness in seeing a great depth; and hence depth is made to express any thing disagreeable by excess, as depth of grief, depth of despair: again, height of place, and time long past, produce similar feelings: distance in past time, producing a strong feeling, is put for any strong feeling: shortness with relation to space, for shortness with relation to time: suffering a punishment resembles paying a debt: in the same manner, light may be put for glory, sunshine for prosperity, and weight for importance.

Many words, originally figurative, having, by long and constant use, lost their figurative power, are degraded to the inferior rank of proper terms. Thus, the words that express the operations of the mind, -have in all languages been originally figurative: the reason holds in all, that when these operations came first under consideration, there was no other way of describing them, but by what they resembled: it was not practicable to give them proper names, as may be done to objects that can be ascertained by sight and

touch. A soft nature, jarring tempers, weight of woe, pompous phrase, beget compassion, assuage grief, break a vow, bend the eye downward, shower down curses, drowned in tears, wrapt in joy, warmed with eloquence, loaded with spoils, and a thousand other expressions of the like nature, have lost their figurative sense. Some terms there are that cannot be said to be either altogether figurative, or altogether proper: originally figurative, they are tending to simplicity, without having lost altogether their figurative power.


Give examples of the figure which, among related objects, extends the properties of one to another.

What remarks are made on them?

From what principle is this figure derived?

Give examples of this figure.

Which is the more agreeable species of this figure?

What is the difference between a metaphor and an allegory?

Give an illustration of this.

From what does the pleasure arise?.

Illustrate this by examples.

What is a metaphor?

What is an allegory?

Give an example of an allegory.

To what is an allegory compared?

How does a figure of speech differ from a metaphor, and how

from an allegory?

How is a figure of speech defined?

Illustrate this.

What examples are given to illustrate the nature of an alle


To what two figures do the same rules apply?
What is the rule with respect to resemblance?
Give examples of its violation.

What is the rule with respect to proportion?

What is the rule with respect to minute circumstances?

What poet violates this rule?

What is the rule with respect to the words of a metaphor?
Give an example of its violation.

What is a mixed metaphor?-is it allowable?

Is it proper to join distinct metaphors in one period?

What is the effect of jumbling metaphorical and natural ex pressions.

Give examples.

When is an allegory very attractive?

Why is allegory more difficult in painting than in poetry'

« PoprzedniaDalej »