« הקודםהמשך »
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
Already written :--Blot it out, my tears ! Here are several different objects and parts of the body personified; and each of them is addressed or spoken to; let us consider with what propriety. The first is the name of Abelard: 'Dear fatal name ! rest ever, &c. To this no reasonable objection can be made. For, as the name of a person often stands for the person himself, and suggests the same ideas, it can bear this personification with sufficient dignity. Next, Eloisa speaks to herself, and personifies her beart for this purpose : Hide it, my heart, within that close,' &c. As the heart is a dignified part of the human frame, and is often put for the mind, or affections, this also may pass without blame. But, when from her heart she passes to her hand, and tells her hand not to write his name, this is forced and unnatural ; a personified hand is low, and not in the style of true passion ; and the figure becomes still worse, when, in the last place, she exhorts her tears to blot out what her hand had written; Oh! write it not,' &c. There is, in these two lines, an air of epigrammatic conceit, which native pas. sion never suggests; and which is altogether unsuitable to the tenderness which breathes through the rest of that excellent poem.
In prose compositions, this figure requires to be used with still greater moderation and delicacy. The same liberty is not allowed to the ima. gination there, as in poetry. The same assistances cannot be obtained for raising passion to its proper height by the force of numbers, and the glow of style. However, addresses to inanimate objects are not excluded from prose; but have their place only in the higher species of oratory. A public speaker may, on some occasions, very properly address religion or virtue; or his native country, or some city or province which has suffered perhaps great calamities, or been the scene of some memorable action. But we must remember, that as such addresses are among the highest efforts of eloquence, they should never be attempted, unless by persons of more than ordinary genius. For if the orator fails in his design of moving our passions by them, he is sure of being laughed at. Of all frigid things, the most frigid, are the awkward and unseasonable attempts sometimes made towards such kinds of personification, especially if they be long continued. We see the writer or speaker toiling and labouring, to express the language of some passion, which he neither feels himself, nor can make us feel. We remain not only cold, but frozen ; and are at fuil leisure to criticise on the ridiculous figure which the personified object makes, when we ought to have been transported with a glow of enthusiasm. Some of the French writers, particularly Bossuet and Flechier, in their sermons and funeral orations, have attempted and executed this figure, not without warmth and dignity. Their works are exceedingly worthy of being consulted, for instance of this, and of several other ornaments of style. Indeed the vivacity and ardour of the French genius is more suited to this bold species of oratory, than the more correct, but less animated genius of the British, who, in their prose works, very rarely attempt any of the high figures of eloquence.* So much for personification or prosopopæia, in all its different forms.
In the • Oraisons Funebres de M. Bossuet,' which I consider as one of the masterpicces of modern eloquence, apostrophes and addresses to personified objects frequently
Apostrophe is a figure so much of the same kind, that it will not require many words. It is an address to a real person; but one who is either absent or dead, as if he were present, and listening to us. It is so much allied to an address to inanimate objects personified, that both these figures are sometimes called apostrophes. However, the proper apostro phe is in boldness one degree lower than the address to personified ads jects; for it certainly requires a less effort of imagination to suppose persons present who are dead or absent, than to animate insensible beings, and direct our discourse to them. Both figures are subject to the same rule of being prompted by passion, in order to render them natural; for both are the language of passion or strong emotions only. Among the poets, apostrophe is frequent as in Virgil:
Pereupt Hypanisque Dymasque
Labentum pietas, nec Appollinis insula texit ?* The poems of Ossian are full of the most beautiful instances of this figare: Weep on the rocks of roaring winds, o maid of Inistore ! Bend thy fair head over the waves thou fairer than the ghosts of the hills when it moves in a sunbeam at noon over the silence of Morven! He is fallen ! Thy youth is low; pale beneath the sword of Cuthullin !** Quintilian affords us a very fine example in prose ; when, in the begin. ning of his sixth book, deploring the untimely death of his son, which had happened during the course of the work, he makes a very moving and tender apostrophe to him. Nam quo ille animo, qua medicorum admiratione, mensium octo valetudinem tulit? ut me in supremis consolatus est quam etiam jam deficiens, jamque non nester, ipsum illum alienatæ mentis errorem circa solas literas habuit ? Tuosne
ergo, meæ spes inanes ! labéntes oculos, tuum fugientem spiritum vidi ? occur, and are supported with much spirit. Thus, for instance, in the funeral oration of Mary of Austria, Queen of France, the author addresses Algiers, in the prospect of the advantage which the arms of Louis XIV. were to gain over it :: Avant lui la France presque sans vaisseaux, tenoit en vain aux deux mers. Maintenant, on les voit couvertes depuis le Levant jusqu'au couchant de nos flottes victorieuses ; et la hardiesse Francoise port partout la terreur avec le nom de Louis. Tu cederas, tu tomberas sous le vainqueur. Alger! riche des depouilles da la chretienté. Tu disois en ton cour avare, je tiens le mer sous ma loi, et les nations sont ma proie. La legereté. de tes vaisseaux le donnoit de la confiance, Mais tu te verras attaqué dans tes murailles, comme un oisseau ravissant, qu'on'iroit chercher parmi ses rochers, et dans son nid, où il par. tage son butin à ses petits. Tu rends dejà tes esclaves. Louis a brisé les fers dont tu acablois ses sujets, &c.' In another passage of the same oration, he Lhus apostrophizes the Isle of Pheasants, which had been rendered famous by being the scene of those conferences, in which the treaty of the Pyrenees between France and Spain, and the marriage of this princess with the king of France, were concluded. 'Isle pacifique ou se doivent terminer'les differends de deux grands empires à qui tu sers de limites: isle eternellement memorable parles conferences de deux grands ministres. Auguste journée où deux fieres nations, long tems enemis, et alors reconcilés par Marie Therese, s'avancent sur leurs confins, leurs rois à leur tête, non plus pour se combattre, mais pour s'embrasser. Fétes sacré, esmarriage fortune, voile nuptial, benediction, sacrifice, puis je meler adjourdhui vos ceremonies, et vos pompes avec ces pompes funebres, et le comble des grandeurs avec leurs ruines! In the funeral oration of Henrietta, Queen of England, (which is perhaps the noblest of all his compositions) after recount ing all she had done to support her unfortunate busband, he concludes with this beautiful apostrophe : 'O mere! O femme! O reine admirable, et digne d'une meilleure fortune, si les fortunes, da la terre étoient quelque chose ! Enfin il faut ceder à votre sort. Vous avez assez soutenu l'état, qui est attaqué, par une force invincible et divine. Il ne reste plus de formais, si non que vous teniez ferme parmi ses ruines.'
Nor Pantheus! thee, thy mitre, nor the bands
DRIDEX, + Fingal, B. I.
Tuum corpus frigidum, exangue complexus, animam recipere, auramque communem haurire amplius potui? Tene, consulari nuper adoptione ad omnium spes honorum patris admotum, te, avunculo prætori generum destinatum; te, omnium spe Atticæ eloquentiæ candidatum, parens superstes tantum ad pænas amisi !!* In this passage Quintilian shews the true genius of an orator, as much as he does elsewhere that of the critic.
For such bold figures of discourse as strong personifications, addresses to personified objects, and apostrophes, the glowing imagination of the ancient oriental nations was particularly fitted. Hence in the sacred scriptures, we find some very remarkable instances : 50 thou sword of the Lord ! how long will it be ere thou be quiet ? put thyself up into the scabbard, rest and be still! How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it à charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea-shore? there he hath appointed it." There is one passage in particular, which I must not omit to mention, because it contains a greater assemblage of sublime ideas, of bold and daring figures, than is perhaps any where to be met with. It is in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, where the prophet thus describes the fall of the Assyrian empire : « Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, how hath the oppressor ceased ! the golden city ceased! The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke: he that ruled the nations in, anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the firtrees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming ; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak, and thee, art thou 'also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us!
Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the pations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They tbat see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms ? That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house
*. With what spirit, and how much to the admiration of the physicians did he bear throughout eight months his lingering in distress! With what tender attention did he study, even in the last extremity, to comfort me! And when no longer himself, how affecting was it to behold the disordered efforts of his wandering mind, wholly enployed on subjects of literature ? Ah! my frustrated and fallen hopes ! Have I then beheld your closing eyes and heard the last groan issue from your lips. After having embraced your cold and breathless body, how was it in my power to draw the vital air or continue to drag a miserable life. When I had just beheld you raised by consular adoption to the prospect of all your father's honours, destined to be son-in-law to your uncle the Prætor, pointed out by general expectation as the successful candidate for the prize of Attic eloquence in this moment of your opening honours must I lose you for ever, and remain an unhappy parent, surviving only to suffer woe;"
† Jer. xlvii. 6, 7.
of his prisoners ? Al the kings of the nations, even all of them lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave, like an abominable branch: and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit, as a carcase trodden under feet.' This whole passage is full of sublimity. Every object is animated; a variety of personages are introduced; we hear the Jews, the fir-trees, and cedars of Lebanon, the ghosts of departed kings, the king of Babylon himself, and those who look upon his body, all speaking in their order, and acting their different parts without confu. sion.
COMPARISON, ANTITHESIS, INTERROGATION, EXCLAMATION,
AND OTHER FIGURES OF SPEECH. We are still engaged in the consideration of figures of speech; which, as they add much to the beauty of style when properly employed, and are, at the same time, liable to be greatly abused, require a careful discussion. As it would be tedious to dwell on all the variety of figurative expressions which rhetoricians have enumerated, I chose to select the capital figures, such as occur most frequently, and to make my remarks on these; the principles and rules laid down concerning them, will sufficiently direct us to the use of the rest, either in prose or poetry. Of metaphor, which is the most common of them all, i treated fully; and in the last lecture I discoursed of hyperbole, personification, and apostrophe. This lecture will nearly finish what remains on the head of figures.
Comparison, or simile, is what I am to treat of first; a figure frequently employed both by poets and prose writers, for the ornament of composition. In a former lecture, I explained fully the difference betwixt this and metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison implied, but not expressed as such ; as when I say, ' Achilles is a lion,' meaning, that he resembles one in courage or strength. A comparison is, when the resemblance between two objects is expressed in form, and generally pursued more fully than the nature of a metaphor admits; as when I say, the actions of princes are like those great rivers, the course of which every one beholds, but their springs have been seen by few. This slight instance will shew, that a happy comparison is a kind of sparkling ornament, which adds not a little lustre and beauty to discourse ; and hence such figures are termed by Cicero, Orationis lumina.'
The pleasure we take in comparisons is just and natural. We may remark three different sources whence it arises. First, from the pleasure which nature has annexed to that act of the mind by which we compare any two objects together, trace resemblances among those that are different, and differences among those that resemble each other; a pleasure, the final cause of which is, to prompt us to remark and observe, and thereby to make us advance in useful knowledge. This operation of the mind is naturally and universally agreeable ; as appears from the
delight which even children have in comparing things together, as soon as they are capable of attending to the objects that surround them. Secondly, the pleasure of comparison arises from the illustration which the simile employed' gives to the principal object; from the clearer view of it which it presents: or the more strong impression of it which it sta mps upon the mird: and, thirdly, it arises from the introduction of a new, and commonly a splendid object, associated to the principal one of which we treat; and from the agreeable picture which that object presents to the fancy'; new soenes being thereby brought into view, which, without the assistance of this figure, we could not have enjoyed.
All comparisons whatever may be reduced under two heads, explaining and embellishing comparisons. For when a writer likens the object of which he treats to any other thing, it always is, or at least always should be, with a view either to make us understand that object more distinctly, or to dress it up, and adorn it. All manner of subjects admit of explaining comparisons. Let an author be reasoning ever so strictly, or treating the most abstruse point in philosophy, he may very properly introduce a comparison, merely with a view to make his subject better understood: Of this nature, is the following in Mr. Harris's Hermes, employed to explain a very abstract point, the distinction between the powers of sense and imagination in the human mind. "As wax,' says he would not be adequate to the purpose of signature, if it had not the power to retain as well as to receive the impression; the same holds of the soul, with respect to sense and imagination. Sense is its receptive power; imagination is retentive. Had it sense without imagination, it would not be as wax, but as water, where though all impressious be instantly made, yet as soon as they are made, they are instantly lost.' In comparisons of this nature, the understanding is concerned much more than the fancy; and therefore the only rules to be observed, with respect to them, are, that they be clear, and that they be useful; that they tend to render our conception of the principal object more distinct: and that they do not lead our view aside, and bewilder it with any false light.
But embellishing comparisons, introduced not so much with a view to inform and instruct, as to adorn the subject of which we treat, are, those with which we are chiefly concerned at present, as figures of speech ; and those, indeed, which most frequently occur. Resemblance, as I before mentioned, is the foundation of this figure. We must not, however, take resemblance, in too strict a sense, for actual similitude or likeness of appearance. Two objects may sometimes be very happily compared to one another, though they resemble each other, strictly speaking, in nothing ; only, because they agree in the effects which they produce upon the mind; because they raise a train of similar, or what may be called, concordant ideas; so that the remembrance of the one, when recalled, serves to strengthen the impression made by the other. For example, to describe the nature of soft and melancholy music, Ossian says, “The music of Carryl was, like the memory of joys that are past, pleasant and mournful to the soul.' This, is happy and delicate. Yet, surely, no kind of music has any resemblance to a feeling of the mind, such as the memory of past joys. Had it been compared to the voice of the nightingale, or the murmur of the stream, as it would have been by some ordinary poet, the likeness would have been more strict: but, by founding his simile upon the effect which Carryl's music produced, the poet, while he conveys a very fender image, gives us, at the same time, a much stronges