« PreviousContinue »
Cool age advances venerably wise.—Iliad, iii. 149.
The peculiar beauty of this figure arises from suggesting an attribute that embellishes the subject, or puts it in a strong er light. 6. A complex term, employed figuratively to denote one of the component parts.
Funus for a dead body. Burial for a grave.
7. The name of one of the component parts instead of the complex term.
Tada for a marriage. The East for a country situated east from Jovis vestigia servat, for imitating Jupiter in general.
8. A word signifying time or place, employed figuratively to denote what is connected with it.
Clime for a nation, or for a
constitution of government; hence the expression, Merciful clime. Fleecy winter for snow, Seculum felix.
9. A part for the whole.
The Pole for the earth. The head for the
Triginta minas pro capite tuo dedi.-Plautus.
Tergum for the man:
Vultus for the man :
Jam fulgor armorum fugaces
Terret equos, equitumque vultus.-Horal.
Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus
Tam chari capitis ?—Ibid.
Dumque virent genua ?—Ibid.
Thy growing virtues justified my cares,
And promis'd comfort to my silver hairs.—Iliad, ix. 616.
-Forth with from the pool be rears
His mighty stature.-Paradise Lost.
The silent heart with grief assails.-Parnell.
The peculiar beauty of this figure consists in marking that part which makes the greatest figure.
10. The name of the container, employed figuratively to signify what is contained.
Grove for the birds in it, Vocal grove. Ships for the seamen, Agonizing ships. Mountains for the sheep pasturing upon them, Bleating mountains. Zacynthus, Ithaca, &c. for the inhabitants. Ex mastis domibus, Livy.
11. The name of the sustainer, employed figuratively to signify what is sustained.
Altar for the sacrifice. Field for the battle fought upon it, Wellfought field.
12. The name of the materials, employed figuratively to signify the things made of them.
Ferrum for gladius.
13. The names of the Heathen deities, employed figuratively to signify what they patronize.
Jove for the air, Mars for war, Venus for beauty, Cupid for love, Ceres for corn, Neptune for the sea, Vulcan for fire.
This figure bestows great elevation upon the subject; and therefore ought to be confined to the higher strains of poetry.
ATTRIBUTES EXPRESSED FIGURATIVELY.
When two attributes are connected, the name of the one may be employed figuratively to express the other.
Purity and virginity are attributes of the same person; hence the expression, Virgin snow, for pure snow.
2. A word signifying properly an attribute of one subject, employed figuratively to express a resembling attribute of another subject.
Tottering state. Imperious ocean. Angry flood. Raging tempest. Shallow fears.
My sure divinity shall bear the shield,
And edge thy sword to reap the glorious field.-Odyssey, xx. 61,
Black omen, for an omen that portends bad fortune.
The peculiar beauty of this figure arises from suggesting a comparison.
3. A word proper to the subject, employed to express one of its attributes.
Mens for intellectus.
Mens for a resolution:
Istam, oro, exue mentem.
4. When two subjects have a resemblance by a common quality, the name of the one subject may be employed figuratively to denote that quality in the other.
Summer life for agreeable life.
5. The name of the instrument made to signify the
-Melpomene, cui liquidam pater
Vocem cum cithara dedit.
power of em
The ample field of figurative expression, displayed in these tables, 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 scarce any resemblance between listening and drinking. The ex. pression 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.
Pugnas et exactos tyrannos
Densum humeris bibit aure vulgus.-Horat. Carm. 1. 2. ode 13.
Phemius! let acts of gods, and heroes old,
What ancient bards in hall and bow'r have told,
Attempered to the lyre, your voice employ,
Such the pleas'd ear will drink with silent joy.-Odyssey, i. 433.
Strepitumque exterritus hausit.—Æneid, vi. 559.
-Write, my Queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send.-Cymbeline, act 1. sc. 2.
Neque audit currus habenas.-Georg. i. 514.
O Prince! (Lycaon's valiant son reply'd,)
Shall hear the rein, and answer to thy hand.-Iliad, v. 288.
The following figures of speech seem altogether wild and extravagant, the figurative and proper meaning having no connexion whatever. Moving softness, Freshness breathes, Breathing prospect, 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 illus. trated by Vida :
Haec adeo cum sint, cum fas audere poetis
Multa modis multis; tamen observare memento
Si quando haud propriis rem mavis dicere verbis,
Haud magis imprudens mihi erit, et luminis expers,
Quam siquis stabula alta lares appellet equinos.
Aut crines magnae genitricis gramina dicat.-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 but 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 de. scription 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,
Though ink be made of gall.-Cymbeline, act 1. 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 where to be understood literally, is a gross absurdity, for it is confounding truth with fiction.
Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford.-Richard II. act 1. sc. 3.
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 peace above all earthly dignities,
A still and quiet conscience. The King has cur'd me,
I humbly thank his Grace; and from these shoulders,
These ruin'd pillars, out of pity, taken
A load would sink a navy, too much honour.-Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 6.
Ulysses speaking of Hector :
I wonder now how yonder city stands,
Troilus and Cressida, act 4. sc. 9.
Othello. No; my heart is turn'd to stone: I strike it, and it hurts my hand.
Not less, even in this despicable now,
Othello, act 4. sc. 5.
Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, act 1.
How long a space, since first I lov'd, it is!
And am surpris'd with wonder, when I miss
Grey hairs and wrinkles there.-Cowley, vol. 1. p. 86.
I chose the flourishing'st tree in all the park,
With freshest boughs and fairest head;
I cut my love into his gentle bark,
And in three days behold 'tis dead;
My very written flames so violent be,
They've burnt and wither'd up the tree.-Cowley, vol. 1. p. 136
Ah, mighty Love, that it were inward heat
That she weeps tears so wondrous cold,
So cold, that I admire they fall not hail.-Cowley, vol. 1. p. 132.
Such a play of words is pleasant in a ludicrous poem.
Devouring seas have wash'd thee from my sight.
The cruel ocean is no more thy tomb;
But in my heart thou art interr'd.-Mourning Bride, act 1. sc. 1.
This would be very right if there were any inconsistence in being interred in one place really, and in another place figuratively.
Je crains que cette saison
A faire trembler Juillet.-Maynard.
In me tota ruens Venus
Cyprum deseruit.-Horat. Carm, l. 1. bde 19.
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 expres sion only and not real, is unpleasant :
Interea genitor Tyberini ad fluminis undam
Tres adeo incertos cæca caligine soles
Erramus pelago, totidem sine sidere noctes.-Æneid, 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 Megillae, quo beatus
Vulnere.-Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode. 27.
Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens,
Insanientis dum sapientiae
Consultus erro.-Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 34.
Seventhly, The crowding into one period or thought, 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,
That suck'd the honey of his music-vows.-Hamlet