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in the chapter quoted above; and the reason shall be illustrated by examples. The first is a comparison built upon a resemblance so obvious as to make little or no impression.
This just rebuke inflam'd the Lycian crew,
ILIAD, Xii. 505. Another, from Milton, lies open to the same objection. Speaking of the fallen angels searching for mines of gold:
A numerous brigade hasten'd: as when bands
The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds :
Queen. What, is my Richard both in shape and mind
And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage
RICHARD II.-ACT V. Sc. 1.
A man and a lion are of different species, and therefore are proper subjects for a simile; but there is no such resemblance between them in general, as to produce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes or circumstances.
Comparisons must be distinguished into two kinds; one common and familiar, as where a man is compared to a lion in courage, or to a horse in speed; the other more distant and refined, where two things that have
in themselves no resemblance or opposition, are compared with respect to their effects. There is no sort of resemblance between a flower-pot and a cheerful song; and yet they may be compared with respect to their effects, the emotions they produce being similar. There is as little resemblance between fraternal concord and precious ointment; and yet observe how successfully they are compared with respect to the impressions they make.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron's beard, and descended to the skirts of his garment. PSALM 133.
For illustrating this sort of comparison, I add some more examples:
Delightful is thy presence, O Fingal! it is like the sun on Cromla, when the hunter mourns his absence for a season and sees him between the clouds.
Did not Ossian hear a voice? or is it the sound of days that are no more? Often, like the evening sun, comes the memory of former times on my soul.
His countenance is settled from war; and is calm as the eveningbeam, that from the cloud of the west looks on Cona's silent vale. Sorrow, like a cloud on the sun, shades the soul of Clessammor. The music was like the memory of joys that are past, pleasant and mournful to the soul.
Pleasant are the words of the song, said Cuchullin, and lovely are the tales of other times. They are like the calm dew of the morning on the hill of roes, when the sun is faint on its side, and the lake is settled and blue in the vale.
These quotations are from the poems of Ossian, who abounds with comparisons of this delicate kind, and appears singularly happy in them.*
I proceed to illustrate, by particular instances, the different means by which comparisons, whether of the one sort or the other, can afford pleasure; and, in the order above established, I begin with such instances as
*The nature and merit of Ossian's comparisons is fully illustrated in a dissertation on the poems of that author, by Dr. Blair, professor of rhetoric in the college of Edinburgh;-a delicious morsel of criticism.
are agreeable, by suggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast:
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Gardener. Bolingbroke hath seiz'd the wasteful king.
See, how the morning opes her golden gates,
Brutus. O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
JULIUS CESAR.-ACT IV. Sc. 3.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
PARADISE LOST.-BOOK II.
As the bright stars and milky-way,
The last exertion of courage compared to the blaze of a lamp before extinguishing-Tasso Gierusal., canto 19. st. 22.
None of the foregoing similies, as they appear to me, tend to illustrate the principal subject: and therefore the pleasure they afford, must arise from suggesting resemblances that are not obvious: I mean the chief pleasure; for undoubtedly a beautiful subject introduced to form the simile affords a separate pleasure, which is felt in the similies mentioned, particularly in that cited from Milton.
The next effect of a comparison, in the order mentioned, is to place an object in a strong point of view; which effect is remarkable in the following simile:
As when two scales are charg'd with doubtful loads,
ILIAD.-BOOK XII. 521.
Lucetta. I do not seek to quench your love's hot fire,
Julia. The more thou damm'st it up, the more it burns:
He makes sweet music with th' enamell'd stones,
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;
And so by many winding nooks he strays,
Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.-ACT II. Sc. 10.
And, with a green and yellow melancholy,
TWELFTH NIGHT.-ACT II. Sc. 4.
York. Then, as I said, the Duke, great Bolingbroke, Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seem'd to know, With slow but stately pace, kept on his course: While all tongues cried, God save thee, Bolingbroke! Duchess. Alas! poor Richard, where rides he the while? York. As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
After a well-grac'd actor leaves the stage,
Even so, or with much more contempt, men's eyes
RICHARD II. ACT V. Sc. 3. Northumberland. How doth my son and brother? Thou tremblest, and the whiteness in thy cheek Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand. Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless, So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone, Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night, And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd; But Priam found the fire, ere he his tongue : And I my Percy's death, ere thou report'st it. SECOND PART HENRY IV.-ACT I. Sc. 3.
Why, then I do but dream on sov'reignty,
THIRD PART HENRY VI.-ACT III. Sc. 3.
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
MACBETH.-Act V. Sc. 5.