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We shall now consider, when comparisons may be introduced with propriety. Since they are the language of imagination rather, than of paffion, an author can hardly commit a greater fault, than in the midst of passion to introduce a simile. Our writers of tragedies often err in this respect. Thus Addison in his Cato makes Portius, just after Lucia had bid him farewell for ever, express himself in a studied comparison.
Thus o'er the dying lamp the unsteady flame
As comparison is not the style of strong passion ; fo, when designed for embellishment, it is not the language of a mind totally unmoved. Being a figure of dignity, it always requires some elevation in the subject, to make it proper. It fupposes the imagination to be enlivered, though the heart is not agitated by paflion. The language of fimile lies in the middle region between the highly pathetic and the very humble style. It is however a sparkling ornament ; and must consequently dazzle and fatigue, if it recur too often. Similies even in poetry should be employed with moderation ; but in prose much more fo ; otherwise the style will become disgustingly luscious, and the ornament lose its beauty Lad effe&t.
We shall now consider the nature of those objects, from which comparisons should be drawn.
In the first place they must not be drawn from things, which have too near and obvious a resemblance of the object, with which they are compared. The pleasure, we receive from the act of comparing, arises from the discovery of likenesses among things of different species, where we should not at first fight expect a resensie Lance
But in the second place, as comparisons ought not to be founded on likenesses too obvious ; much less ought they to be founded on those, which are too faint and distant. These instead of assisting strain the fancy to comprehend them, and throw no light upon the fub. je to
In the third place the object; from which a compariCon is drawn, ought never to be an unknown object, nor one, of which few people can have a clear idea. Therefore similies, founded on philofophical discoveries, or on any thing, with which persons of a particular trade only, or a particular profession, are acquainted, produce not their proper effect. They should be drawn from those illustrious and noted objects, which most readers have either seen, or can strongly conceive.
In the fourth place in compositions of a serious or elevated kind fimilies thould never be drawn from low
or mean objects. These degrade and vilify ; whereas. fimilies are generally intended to embellish and dignifyą. Therefore, except in burlesque writings, or where an object is meant to be degraded, mean ideas should never be prefented.
ANTITHESIS is founded on the contrait or oppofition of two objects. By contrast objects, opposed to each other, appear in a stronger light. Beauty, for instance, never appears so charming, as when contrasted with ugliness. Antithesis therefore may on many occasions be used advantageously, to strengthen the impression, which we propose that any object should make. Thus Cicero in his oration for Milo, representing the improbability of Milo's designing to take away the life of Clo.. dius, when every thing was unfavorable to such design, after he had omitted many opportunities of effecting such a purpose, heightens our conviction of this improbability by a skilful use of this figure. “ Quem igitur cum “ omnium gratia interficere noluit ; hurc voluit cum aliquc..
rum querela ? Quem jure, quem loco, quem tempore, quem “ impune, non est ausius ; hunc injuria, iniquo loco, alieno “ tempore, periculo capitis, non dubitavit occidere ?” Here the antithesis is rendered complete by the words and members of the sentence, expressing the contrasted ob.. jects, being similarly constructed, and made to correla pond with each other.
We must however acknowledge that frequent use of
antithesis, especially where the opposition in the words is nice and quaint, is apt to make style unpleasing. A : maxim or moral saying very properly receives this form; because it is supposed to be the effect of meditation, and is designed to be engraven on the memory, which re." calls it more easily by the aid of contrasted expressions. But, where several such fentences succeed each other; where this is an author's favorite and prevailing mode of expression ; his style is exposed to censure:
INTERROGATIONS and Exclamations are passionate figures. The literal use of interrogation is to ask a · question ; but, when men are prompted by passion,
whatever they would affirm, or deny with great earnestness, they naturally put in the form of a question ; exprefling thereby the firmeit confidence of the truth of their own opinion ; and appealing to their hearers for the impoflibility of the contrary Thus in fcripture ; " God is not a man, that he should lic; nor the son of " man, that he should repent. Hath he said it ? And " shall he not do it? Hath he spoken it? And fhall be " not make it good.
Interrogations may be employed in the prosecution of close and earnest reasoning ; but exclamations belong only to stronger emotions of the mind ; to fura prise, anger, joy, grief, and the like. These, being natural signs of a moved and agitated mind, always, when properly employed, make us sympathise with those,
who use them, and enter into their feelings. Nothing however has a worse effect, than frequent and unseafor... able use of exclamations. Young, unexperienced wria. ters suppose that by pouring them forth plenteously they render their compofitions warm and animated.. But the contrary follows ; they render them frigid to. excess. When an author is always calling upon us to enter into transports, which he has faid nothing to inspire, he excites our disgust and indignation.'
Another figure of speech, fit only for animated com. position, is called VISION ; when instead of relating something, that is past, we ufe the present tense, and describe it, as if passing before our eyes. Thus Cicero in his fourth oration against Catiline ; “ Videor enim * mihi hanc urbem videre, lucem orbis terrarum atque arcem. * omnium gentium, subito uno incendio concidentum ; cerno: " animo fepulta in patria miferos atque infepultos acervos cio * vium; verfatur mihi ante oculos aspectus Cethegi, et furor, ** in veftra cæde bacchantis." This figure has great force, when it is well executed, and when it flows from genuine enthusiasm. Otherwise it shares the same fate with all feeble attempts toward passionate figures ; that of throwing ridicule upon the author, and leaving the reader more cool and uninterested, than he was before.
The last figure, which we shall mention, and which is of frequent use among all public speakers, is CLIMAKO,