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affords great scope for reasoning. Several of the observations relating to metaphor, are applicable to figures of speech: these I shall slightly retouch, with some additions peculiarly adapted to the present subject.
In the first place, as the figure under consideration is built upon relation, we find from experience, and it must be obvious from reason, that the beauty of the figure depends on the intimacy of the relation between the figurative and proper sense of the word. A slight resemblance, in particular, will never make this figure agreeable: the expression, for example, Drink down a secret, for listening to a secret with attention, is harsh, and uncouth, because there is scarcely any resemblance between listening and drinking. The expression weighty crack, used by Ben Jonson for loud crack, is worse if possible: a loud sound has not the slightest resemblance to a piece of matter that is weighty. The following expression of Lucretius is not less faulty, "Et lepido quæ sunt fucata sonore." i. 645.
The following figures of speech seem altogether wild and extra vagant, the figurative and proper meaning having no connection whatever. Moving softness, Freshness breathes, Breathing pros pect, Flowing spring, Dewy light, Lucid coolness, and many others of this false coin, may be found in Thomson's Seasons.
Secondly, the proper sense of the word ought to bear some proportion to the figurative sense, and not soar much above it, nor sink much below it. This rule, as well as the foregoing, is finely illastrated by Vida:
Hæc adeo cum sint, cum fas audere poetis
Multa modis multis; tamen observare memento
Si quando haud propriis rem mavis dicere verbis,
Translatisque aliunde notis, longeque petitis,
But though our fond indulgence grants the muse
Poet. III. 148.
Thirdly, in a figure of speech, every circumstance ought to be avoided that agrees with the proper sense only, not the figurative sense; for it is the latter that expresses the thought, and the former serves for no other purpose than to make harmony:
Zacynthus green with ever-shady groves,
And Ithaca, presumptuous boast their loves;
They press the Hymenean rite abhorr'd. Odyssey, XIX. 152.
Zacynthus here standing figuratively for the inhabitants, the description of the island is quite out of place: it puzzles the reader, by making him doubt whether the word ought to be taken in its proper or figurative sense.
Write, my Queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
Cymbeline, Act I. Sc. 2.
The disgust one has to drink ink in reality, is not to the purpose where the subject is drinking ink figuratively.
In the fourth place, to draw consequences from a figure of speech, as if the word were to be understood literally, is a gross absurdity, for it is confounding truth with fiction.
Be Moubray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
Richard II. Act I. Sc. 2.
Sin may be imagined heavy in a figurative sense: but weight in a proper sense belongs to the accessory only; and therefore to describe the effects of weight, is to desert the principal subject, and to convert the accessory into a principal
Cromwell. How does your Grace?
Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell.
A still and quiet conscience. The King has cur'd me,
A load would sink a navy, too much honor.
Ulysses speaking of Hector:
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 2.
I wonder now how yonder city stands,
Troilus and Cressida, Act IV. Sc. 5.
Othello. No; my heart is turn'd to stone: I strike it, and it hurts my hand.
Othello, Act IV. Sc. 1
Not less, even in this despicable now,
Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, Act I.
How long a space, since first I lov'd, it is!
And am surpris'd with wonder when I miss
Cowley, Vol. I. p. 86.
I chose the flourishing'st tree in all the park,
I cut my love into his gentle bark,
And in three days behold 'tis dead;
Cowley, Vol. I. p. 136.
Ah, mighty Love, that it were inward heat
But what, alas!"ah what does it avail,
So cold, that I admire they fall not hail.
Cowley, Vol. I. p.
Such a play of words is pleasant in a ludicrous poem.
Almeria. O Alphonso, Alphonso!
Devouring seas have wash'd thee from my sight,
But in my heart thou art interr'd.
Mourning Bride, Act I. Sc. 1.
This would be very right, if there were any inconsistence, in being interred in one place really, and in another place figuratively.
From considering that a word used in a figurative sense suggests at the same time its proper meaning, we discover a fifth rule, that we ought not to employ a word in a figurative sense, the proper sense of which is inconsistent or incongruous with the subject: for every inconsistency, and even incongruity, though in the expression only and not real, is unpleasant:
Interea genitor Tyberini ad fluminis undam
Meantime his father, now no father stood,
Tres adeo incertos cæca caligine soles
Three starless nights the doubtful navy stays
Eneid, X. 833.
Eneid, III, 203.
The foregoing rule may be extended to form a sixth, that no epithet ought to be given to the figurative sense of a word that agrees not also with its proper sense:
Frater Megillæ, quo beatus
Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 27.
Let the brother of the Opuntian fair
Rather his lovesick joys, and darling flame declare.
Parcus deorum cultor, et infrequens,
Insanientis dum sapientiæ
Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 34.
A sparing and unfrequent guest,
In Jove's high temple at the best,
While mad philosophy my mind pursued.
Seventhly, the crowding into one period or thought of different figures of speech, is not less faulty than crowding metaphors in that manner: the mind is distracted in the quick transition from one image to another, and is puzzled instead of being pleased:
I am of ladies most deject and wretched,
My bleeding bosom sickens at the sound.
Odyssey, I. 439.
Horal. Carm, lib. I. Ode 27.
Ah wretch, how thou art hampered in a strait
A lad whose matchless worth deserved a better fate.
What sorceress, what magic art,
What power divine can ease thy smart!
E'en Pegasus to clear thee will be loth
From one composed of whimsy, wantonness and wrath.
Eighthly, if crowding figures be bad, it is still worse to graft one figure upon another: for instance,
While his keen falchion drinks the warriors' lives.
Iliad, XI. 211. A falchion drinking the warriors' blood is a figure built upon resem· blance, which is passable. But then in the expression, lives is again put for blood; and by thus grafting one figure upon another, the expression is rendered obscure and unpleasant.
Ninthly, intricate and involved figures that can scarcely be analyzed, or reduced to plain language, are least of all tolerable :
Votis incendimus aras.
We inflame the altars with vows.
Dona laboratæ Cereris.
Eneid, III. 279.
Eneid, VIII. 180.
They load the baskets with the gifts of labored Ceres.
Vulcan to the Cyclopes:
Arma acri facienda viro: nunc viribus usus,
Arms for a hero forge-arms that require
Huic gladio, perque ærea suta
Eneid, VIII. 441.
Per tunicam squalentem auro, latus haurit apertum.
But armor scaled with gold was no defence
Semotique prius tarda necessitas
And for a long delay at first designed
Eneid, X. 313.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. Ode 3.
And urged the march of death, and all his pangs enhanced.
Scribêris Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Mæonii carminis alite.
Instant he wears, elusive of the rape,
Ibid. IV. 952.
The mimic force of every savage shape. Odyssey, IV. 563.
Ibid. 967. Winter, 738.