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As when the potent rod
What is an apostrophe?
Give examples of it.
Give examples of its union with personification.
What is hyperbole?-describe its origin.
When is hyperbole proper, according to Quintilian?
Give an example of the violation of this rule.
To what passions is it unsuitable?
Point out the faulty expressions in these examples.
What examples of overstrained hyperbole are given?
Should a hyperbole be expressed concisely?
Give examples of the figure of speech in which the means or instrument is conceived to be the agent.
SECTION V.-A Figure which, among related objects, extends the properties of one to another.
This figure is not dignified with a proper name, because it has been overlooked by writers. It merits, however, a place in this work; and must be distinguished from those formerly handled, as depending on a different principle. Giddy brink, jovial wine, daring wound, are examples of this figure. Here are adjectives that cannot be made to signify any quality of the substantives to which they are joined: a brink, for example, cannot be termed giddy in a sense, either proper or figurative, that can signify any of its qualities or attributes. When we examine attentively the expression, we discover that a brink is termed giddy from producing that effect in those who stand on it. In the same manner, a wound is said to be daring, not with respect to itself, but with respect to the boldness of the person who inflicts it; and wine is said to be jovial, as inspiring mirth and jollity. Thus the attributes of
one subject are extended to another with which it is connected; and the expression of such a thought must be considered as a figure, because the attribute is not applicable to the subject in any proper sense.
How are we to account for this figure, which we see lies in the thought, and to what principle shall we refer it? Have poets a privilege to alter the nature of things, and at pleasure to bestow attributes upon a subject to which they do not belong? We have had often occasion to inculcate, that the mind passeth easily and sweetly along a train of connected objects; and, where the objects are intimately connected, that it is disposed to carry along the good and bad properties of one to another, especially when it is in any degree inflamed with these properties. From this principle is derived the figure under consideration. Language, invented for the communication of thought, would be imperfect, if it were not expressive even of the slighter propensities and more delicate feelings. But language cannot remain so imperfect among a people who have received any polish; because language is regulated by internal feeling, and is gradually improved to express whatever passes in the mind. Thus, for example, when a sword in the hand of a coward is termed a coward sword, the expression is significative of an internal operation; for the mind, in passing from the agent to its instrument, is disposed to extend to the latter the properties of the former. Governed by the same principle, we say listening fear, by extending the attribute listening of the man who listens, to the passion with which he is moved. In the expression bold deed, we extend to the effect what properly belongs to the cause. But, not to waste time by making a commentary upon every expression of this kind, the best way to give a complete view of the subject, is to exhibit a table of the different relations that may give occasion to this figure. And, in viewing the table, it will be observed, that the figure can never have any grace but where the rela tions are of the most intimate kind.
1. An attribute of the cause expressed as an attribute of the effect:
Of yonder fleet a bold discovery make.
2. An attribute of the effect expressed as an attribute of the cause:
No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height.
3. An effect expressed as an attribute of the cause: Jovial wine, Giddy brink, Drowsy night, Musing midnight, Panting height, Astonish'd thought, Mournful gloom.
Casting a dim religious light.
And the merry bells ring round,
4. An attribute of a subject bestowed upon one of its parts or members:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
ROMEO AND JULIET.-ACT III. Sc. 7.
Oh, lay by
Those most ungentle looks and angry weapons;
And ready now
To stoop with wearied wing and willing feet,
PARADISE LOST.-BOOK III.
5. A quality of the agent given to the instrument with which it operates:
Why peep your coward swords half out their shells?
6. An attribute of the agent given to the subject upon which it operates: High-climbing hill.
7. A quality of one subject given to another:
When sapless age, and weak unable limbs
'Tis ours the chance of fighting fields to try.
By art the pilot, through the boiling deep
A stupid moment motionless she stood.
SUMMER, 1. 1336.
8. A circumstance connected with a subject, expressed as a quality of the subject.
Oh! had I died before that well-fought wall.
ILIAD, i. 301.
ODYSSEY, V. 395.
From this table it appears, that the adorning a cause with an attribute of the effect, is not so agreeable as the opposite expression. The progress from cause to effect is natural and easy; the opposite progress resembles retrograde motion; and therefore panting height, astonished thought, are strained and uncouth expressions, which a writer of taste will avoid.
And mighty ruins fall.
Impious sons their mangled fathers wound.
It is not less strained to apply to a subject, in its present state, an epithet that may belong to it in some future state:
ILIAD, V. 411.
Another rule regards this figure, That the property of one subject ought not to be bestowed upon another with which that property is incongruous:
RICHARD II.-ACT III. Sc. 6.
The connexion between an awful superior and his submissive dependant is so intimate, that an attribute may readily be transferred from the one to the other; but awfulness cannot be so transferred, because it is inconsistent with submission.
SECTION VI.-Metaphor and Allegory.
A METAPHOR differs from a simile in form only, not in substance: in a simile, the two subjects are kept distinct in the expression, as well as in the thought; in a metaphor, the two subjects are kept distinct in the thought only, not in the expression. A hero resembles a lion, and upon that resemblance many similies have been raised by Homer and other poets. But instead of resembling a lion, let us take the aid of the imagination, and feign or figure the hero to be a lion: by that variation the simile is converted into a metaphor; which is carried on by describing all the qualities of a lion that resemble those of the hero. The fundamental pleasure here, that of resemblance, belongs to the thought. An additional pleasure arises from the expression: the poet, by figuring his hero to be a lion, goes on to describe the lion in appearance, but in reality the hero; and his description is peculiarly beautiful, by expressing the virtues and qualities of the hero in new terms, which, properly speaking, belong not to him, but to the lion. This will better be understood by examples. A family connected with a common parent, resembles a tree, the trunk and branches of which are connected with a common root; but let us suppose, that a family is figured, not barely to be like a tree, but to be a tree; and then the simile will be converted into a metaphor, in the following
Edward's sev'n sons, whereof thyself art one,
Were sev'n fair branches, springing from one root:
RICHARD II.-ACT I. Sc. 3.
Figuring human life to be a voyage at sea:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,