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§ 1. A Catachrefis, its definition. § 2. Upon what accounts Catachrefes are used, or the occafions of them. § 3. When they become faulty. § 4. Mr BLACKWALL'S account of the analogy and relation between the feveral kinds of Tropes. §. 5. VIDA's fine account of the Tropes.
$1. A Catachrefis * is the most licentious as
to language of all the Tropes, as it borrows the name of one thing to exprefs another, which has either no proper name of its own; or if it has, the borrowed name is used ei'ther for furprising by novelty, or for the fake of a bold and daring energy.
$2. (1) A Catachrefis borrows the name of one thing to express another, which has no proper name of its own. Thus QUINTILIAN allows us to fay, that we dart a ball or a stake, though darting belongs only to a javelin. In the fame manner he permits us to call that a
* From καταχραομαι, I abufe.
ftoning or killing a perfon with stones, though the death was occasioned by clods or tiles *. Thus we often fpeak of a filver or iron inkborn. In the fame manner a perfon inay be called a parricide, who murders his mother, or brother, or sifter, though the word parricide properly signifies a perfon who murders his father, for, as there is no appropriate word to denominate the murderer of other near relations, and as the guilt in all the cafes is moft enormous, and fomewhat similar, the impropriety vanishes, and readily yields to the force of necefsity.
(2) A Catachrefis borrows the name of one thing to exprefs another; which thing, though it has a name of its own, yet under a borrowed name furprises us with novelty, or infufes into our discourses a bold and daring energy. Thus VIRGIL fays,
The goat himfelf, man of the flock, had stray'd †. by man, evidently intending the father and leader of the flock. So again,
The Grecian Chiefs, thro' ten revolving years,
* Nam & qui jaculum emittit, jaculari dicitur; quia pilam aut fudem appellatione privatim fibi affignata caret. Et ut lapidare quid fit manifeftum eft, ita lapidare glebarumque teftarumque jactus non habet nomen. Unde abufio quæ Catachrefis dicitur neceffaa. QUINTIL. lib. viii. cap. 2. $1.
Vir gregis ipfe caper deerraverat
VIRCIL. Eclog. vii. ver. 7.
(PALLAS infpir'd her wifdom) build an horse,
The fame word is used by JUVENAL Concerning the high head-drefs of the ladies at Rome in his days:
With curls and ribbands high her head the builds f.:
Thus MILTON, defcribing the Angel RAPHAEL'S defcent from Heaven, fays,
Down thither, prone in flight
He fpeeds, and thro' the vaft etherial sky,
Here the novelty of the word fails infuses that fpirit and pleasure into the defcription which would have been loft, if the Poet had faid flies between worlds and worlds.
HORACE makes ufe of the fame Trope;
The east-wind rides the mad Sicilian waves ||. Where the riding of horsemen is applied to the fwift course of the east wind over the ftormy deep. The
Dactores Danaûm, tot jam labentibus annis,
Paradife Loft, book v, ver. 266.
HORAT. Od. lib. iv. od. 4.
The fame Poet fays,
Arms not as yet with expiated blood
which is a bold Catachrefis, as blood and anointed lie very remote from one another in signi
The facred Scriptures will furnish us with many inftances of this Trope. Lev. xxvi. 30. SS And I will caft your carcafes upon the car" cafes of your idols;" that is, upon the ruins of your idols, which fhall be as much destroyed as the body is when it is slain, and become a dead carcafe. So Deut. xxxii. 14. we read of ss the fat of kidneys of wheat, and drinking the pure blood of the grape." Fat may be ascribed to wheat, because it makes fat; or hereby the finest part of the wheat may be intended: and kidneys of wheat, may intend kernels of wheat, in bigness like a kidney. The juice that is prefsed from the grape is faid to be the blood of the grape, either because its colour is like blood, or because it is to the grape what blood is to the body, its life and excellency. In like manner, Pfalm lxxx. 5. we read of being " fed with the bread
of tears; that is, with bread wafhed with 'tears. So the thanksgivings of the lips, Hofea xiv. 2. are called " the calves of the lips ;" intimating it may be, that the thanksgivings H.3 fhould
HORAT. Od. lib. ii. od..
fhould be holy, fhould be large, fhould be the beft that could be offered, like thofe of calves or heifers killed in facrifice. But the boldeft Catachrefis perhaps in all the holy Scriptures is in 1 Cor. i. 25. Because the foolishness " of GOD, fays the Apostle, is wiser than men, " and the weaknefs of GOD is ftronger than #men;" that is, what men are apt to account foolifhnefs in GoD furpasses their wisdom, and what they may be ready to misconstrue as weakness in GoD excels all their
$ 3. It may be obferved from what has been faid, when it is that a Catachrefis is allowable, namely, when it borrows the name of one thing to exprefs another, which either has no proper name of its own, or if it has, the borrowed name ftrikes us with an agreeable novelty or energy. Whenever there is a Catachrefis without this necefsity or advantage to vindicate and warrant it it degenerates into a blemish and difgrace to composition; and therefore Mr POPE has not without reafon branded fuch Catachrefes as follow with infamy, Mow the beard, fhave the grafs, pin the plank, nail the fleeve. You know there are other natural words by which these actions may be expressed, and therefore there is no need of fuch Catachrefes from any deficiency in language. And as to the pleasure of fuch Tropes, as that ingenious Satirift obferves, "there refults much the fame to the mind as "there is to the eye, when we behold Harle