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where killing a man is lawful in self defence, uses the following expressions ; “ Aliquando nobis gladius ad oc“ cidendum hominem ab ipfis porrigitur legibus." Here the laws are beautifully personified, as reaching forth their hand, to give us a sword for putting a man to death.
In poetry personifications of this kind are extremely frequent, and are indeed the life and foul of it. In the descriptions of a poet, who has a lively fancy, every thing is animated. Homer, the father of poetry, is remarkable for the use of this figure. War, peace, darts, riv. ers, every thing in short is alive in his writings. The fame is true of Milton and Shakespeare. No personification is more striking, or introduced on a more proper occasion, than the following of Milton upon Eve's eating the forbidden fruit ;
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
The third and highest degree of this figure is yet to be mentioned ; when inanimate objects are represented, not only as feeling and acting, but as speaking to us, or listening, while we address them. This is the boldest of all rhetorical figures ; it is the style of strong passion only ; and therefore should never be attempted, except when the mind is considerably heated and agitated..
Milton affords a very beautiful example of this figure: in that moving and tender address, which Eve makes to Paradise immediately before. she is compelled to leave it.
Oh, unexpected stroke, worse than of death!
This is the real language of nature and of female passion..
In the management of this sort of personification tworules are to be observed. First, never attempt it, un-less prompted by strong pallion, and never continue it, when the passion begins to subside. The second rule is, never personify an object; which has not some digni. ty in itself, and which is incapable of making a proper figure in the elevation, to which we raise it. To ader, dress the body of a deceased friend is natural ; but to address the clothes, which he wore, introduces low and. degrading ideas. So likewise addressing the several.
parts of the body, as if they were animated, is not a. greeable to the dignity of passion. For this reason the following passage in Pope's Eloisa to Abelard is liable to censure.
Dear fatal name, rest ever unreveald,
Here the name of Abelard is first personified ; which, as the name of a person often stands for the person him. felf, is exposed to no objection. Next Eloisa personifies her own heart ; and, as the heart is a dignified part of the human frame, and is often put for the mind, this also may pass without censure. But, when she addresfes her hand, and tells it not to write his name, this is forced and unnatural. Yet the figure becomes fill worse, when she exhorts her tears to blot out, what her hand had written. The two last lines are indeed altogether unsuitable to the tenderness, which breathes through the rest of that inimitable poem.
- APOSTROPHE is an address to a real person ; but one, who is either absent or dead, as if he were present, and listening to us. This figure is in boldness a degree lower, than personification ; since it requires Less effort of imagination to fuppofe persons present, who
are dead or absent, than to animate insensible beings, and direct our discourse to them. The poems of Ollian abound in beautiful instances of this figure. “Weep on w the rocks of roaring winds, O Maid of Inistore. “ Bend thy fair head over the waves, thou fairer, than " the ghost 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 fword of Cuchullin."
COMPARISON, ANTITHESIS, INTERROGA. TION, EXCLAMATION, AND OTHER FIGURES
A Comparison or fimile is, when the resemblance between two objects is expressed in form, and usually pursued more fully, than the nature of a metaphor admits. As when we say, “ The actions of princes are “ like those great rivers, the course of which every one « beholds, but their springs have been feen by few.” This short instance will show that a happy comparison is 'a sort of sparkling ornament, which adds lustre and 'beauty to discourse.
All comparisons may be reduced under two heads ; explaining and embellishing comparisons. For, when a writer compares an object with any other thing, it alWays is, or ought to be, with a view to make us under.
stand that object more clearly, or to render it more pleafing. Even abftract reasoning admits explaining comparisons. For instance, the distinction between the powers of fenfe and imagination is in Mr. Harris's Hermes Illustrated by a fimile ; “ 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 fame holds of the soul with re** fpect to fense and imagination. Sense is its receptive * power, and imagination its retentive. Had it sense 5. without imagination, it would not be as wax, but as " water ; where, though all impressions be instantly so made, yet as soon, as they are made, they are loft." In comparisons of this kind perspicuity and usefulness are chiefly to be studied.
But embellishing comparisons are those, which most frequently occur. Resemblance, it has been observed, is the foundation of this figure. Yet resemblance must not be taken in too strict a sense for actual similitude.
Two object may raise a train of concordant ideas in the s mind, though they resemble each other, ftri&tly speak
ing, in nothing. For example, to describe the nature of soft and melancholy music, Oslian says, “ The music " of Carryl was, like the memory of joys, that are past, -“ pleasant and mournful to the foul.” This is happy and delicate ; yet no kind of music bears any resemblance to the memory of past joys.