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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!
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?
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 however great: the struggle agitates and animates the mind:
Wolsey. Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!
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 endeavour 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 terned 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 morning; and this accessory object, being in itself beautiful, and connected by resemblance to the principal object, 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. Upon this figurative power of words Vida descants with elegance :
Nonne vides, verbis ut veris saepe relictis
Tum specie capti gaudent spectare legentes :
Multarum simulacra animo subeuntia rerum.-Poct. lib. 3. l. 44.
In the next place, this figure possesses a signal power of ag. grandizing an object by the following means. Words which have no original beauty but what arises from their sound, acquire an adventitious beauty froin their meaning: a word signifying any thing that is agreeable, becomes, by that means, agreeable; for the agree. ableness 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 sig. nifies, 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
See chap 2. part. 1. sect. 5.
+ I have often regretted, that a factious spirit of opposition to the reigning
of 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. With respect to the degrading familiarity of proper names, Vida has the following passage:
Hinc si dura mihi passus dicendus Ulysses,
Non illum vero memorabo nomine, sed qui
Naufragus eversae post saeva incendia Trojae.-Poet. lib. 2. l. 46.
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. This property is finely touched by Vida:
Quinetiam agricolas ea fandi nota voluptas
Poet. lib. 3. l. 90.
The beauties I have mentioned belong to every figure of speech. Several other beauties, peculiar to 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 expression Fierce winter: Altus for profundus; Altus puteus, Altum mare: 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 lux for the sun; and a cause for the effect, as boum labores 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; and hence the expression, Ut altius repetam: distance in past time, producing a strong feeling, is put for any strong feeling, Nihil mihi antiquius nostra amicitia: shortness with relation to space, for shortness with relation to time, Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio: suffering a punishment resembles paying a debt; hence pendere pænas. In
family makes it necessary in public worship to distinguish the King by his proper name. One will scarce imagine, who has not made the trial, how much better it sounds to pray for our Sovereign Lord the King, without any addition.
the same manner, light may be put for glory, sunshine for prospe rity, 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. Virgil's Regina saucia cura is perhaps one of these expressions. With ordinary readers, saucia will be considered as expressing simply the effect of grief; but one of a lively imagination will exalt the phrase into a figure.
For epitomizing this subject, and, at the same time, for giving a clear view of it, I cannot think of a better method than to present to the reader a list of the several relations upon which figures of speech are commonly founded. This list I divide into two tables; one of subjects expressed figuratively, and one of attributes.
SUBJECTS EXPRESSED FIGURATIVELY.
1. A word proper to one subject employed figuratively to express a resembling subject.
There is no figure of speech so frequent, as what is derived from the relation of resemblance. Youth, for example, is signified figuratively by the morning of life. The life of a man resembles a natural day in several particulars: the morning is the beginning of day, youth the beginning of life; the morning is cheerful, so is youth, &c. By another resemblance, a bold warrior is termed the thunderbolt of war; a multitude of troubles, a sea of troubles.
This figure, above all others, affords pleasure to the mind by variety of beauties. Beside the beauties above-mentioned, common to all sorts, it possesses in particular the beauty of a metaphor or of a simile; a figure of speech, built upon resemblance, suggests always a comparison between the principal subject and the accessory; whereby every good effect of a metaphor or simile may, in a very short and lively manner, be produced by this figure of speech.
2. A word proper to the effect employed figuratively to express
Lux for the sun. Shadow for cloud. A helmet is signified by
the expression glittering terror. A tree by shadow or umbrage. Hence the expression:
Nec habet Pelion umbras.-Ovid.
Where the dun umbrage hangs.-Spring, l. 1023.
A wound is made to signify an arrow :
Vulnere non pedibus te consequar.—Ovid.
There is a peculiar force and beauty in this figure : the word which signifies figuratively the principal subject, denotes it to be a cause by suggesting the effect.
3. A word proper to the cause, employed figuratively to express the effect.
Boumque labores, for corn. Sorrow or grief, for tears:
Again Ulysses veil'd his pensive head; Again, unman'd, a show'r of sorrow shed. Streaming Grief his faded cheek bedew'd. Blindness, for darkness:
Cæcis erramus in undis.-Æneid, iii. 200. E
There is a peculiar energy in this figure, similar to that in the former: the figurative name denotes the subject to be an effect, by suggesting its cause.
4. Two things being intimately connected, the proper name of the one employed figuratively to signify the other.
Day for light. Night for darkness; and hence, A sudden night. Winter for a storm at sea:
Interea magno misceri murmure pontum,
Emissamque Hyemem sensit Neptunus.-Eneid, i. 128.
Majesty for the king:
This last figure would be too bold for a British writer, as a storm at sea is not inseparably connected with winter in this climate.
5. A word proper to an attribute, employed figuratively to denote the subject.
Youth and beauty for those who are young and beautiful:
Youth and beauty shall be laid in dust.
What art thou, that usurp'st this time of night,
-Or have ye chosen this place
Verdure for a green field.-Summer, l. 301.
The pigmy nations wounds and death they bring,