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the figure is then termed a fynecdoche. / We say, for instance, “A fleet of so many fail" instead of so many “ ships ;” we frequently use the s head” for the “per. “ son,” the “ pale” for the “ earth," the “waves" for the “fea. An attribute is often used for its subject ; as“ youth and beauty" for the “young and beautiful ;" and sometimes a subject for its attribute. But the relation, by far the most fruitful of tropes, is fimilitude, which is the sole foundation of metaphor.
IVETAPHOR is founded entirely on the resemblance, which one object bears to another. It is therefore nearly allied to fimile or.comparison ; and is indeed a comparison in an abridged form. When we say of a great minister, “he upholds the state, like a pillar, “ which supports the weight of an edifice," we evidently make a comparison ; but, when we say of him, he is As the pillar of the state,” it becomes a metaphor.
Of all the Figures of speech none approaches so near to painting, as metaphor. It gives light and strength to description ; makes intellectual ideas in some degree visible by giving them color, substance, and senfible qualities. To produce this effect however a delicate hand is requisite ; for by a little inaccuracy we may jatroduce confusion instead of promoting perspicuity, Several rules therefore must be given for the proper management of metaphors.
The first rule respecting metaphors is, they must be suited to the nature of the subject; neither too numeTous, nor too gay, nor too elevated for it; we must neither attempt to force the fubject by the use of them into a degree of elevation, not congruous to it; nor on the contrary suffer it to fall below its proper dignity. Some metaphors are beautiful in poetry, which would be unnatural in profe ; fome are graceful in orations, which would be highly improper in historical or philosophical compositions. Figures are the dress of sentiment. They should consequently be adapted to the ideas, which they are intended to adorn.
The second rule respects the choice of objects, whence metaphors are to be drawn. The field for figurative language is very wide. All nature opens her stores and allows us to collect them without restraint. But we must beware of using such allusions, as raise in the mind disagreeable, mean, low, or dirty ideas. To render a metaphor perfect, it must not only be apt, but pleasing ; it must entertain as well, as enlighten. Dryden therefore can hardly escape the imputation of a very unpardonable breach of delicacy, when he obferves to the Earl of Dorset, that “ some bad poems 66 carry their owners' marks about them ; some brand * or other on this buttock, or that ear; that it is notorious
" who are the owners of the cattle.” The mostp leasing metaphors are derived from the frequent occurrences of art and nature, or from the civil transactions and cuftoms of mankind. Thus how expressive, yet at the fame time how familiar, is the image, which Otway has put into the mouth of Metellus in his play of Caius Marius, where he calls Sulpicius
That mad wild bull, whom Marius lets loofe
In the third place a metaphor should be founded on a resemblance, which is clear and striking, not far fetch. ed, nor difficult to be discovered. Harsh or forced met. aphors are always difpleasing, because they perplex the reader, and instead of illustrating the thought render it intricate and confused. Thus, for instance, Cowley, speaking of his mistress, expresses himself in the fol lowing forced and obscure verses.
Wo to her stubborn heart; if once mine come
Into the selfsame room,
Of both our broken hearts. ;
But little left behind ;
Mine only will remain entire ; No dross was there, to perish in the fire. Metaphors, borrowed from any of the sciences, especially from particular profeffions, are almost always faulty by their obscurity. /
In the fourth place we must never jumble metaphorie cal and plain language together ; never construct a period so, that part of-it must be understood metaphorically, part literally ; which always produces confusion. The works of Ossian afford an instance of the fault, we are now censuring. “ Trothal went forth with the “ stream of his people, but they met a rock; for Finga! “ stood unmoved; broken they rolled back from his “.fide. Nor did they roll in fafety; the spear of the “ king pursued their flight.” The metaphor at the beginning is beautiful; the “ stream,” the “unmoved “ rock,” the "waves rolling back broken," are expreffions in the proper and consistent language of figure ; but in the end, when we are told, “ they did not roll “ in safety, because the spear of the king pursu“ed their flight,” the literal meaning is injudiciously mixed with the metaphor; they are at the same moment presented to us, as waves that roll, and as men, that may be pursued and wounded by a spear.
In tie fifth place take care not to make two different metaphors mect on the same object. Tkis, which is called mixed metaphor, is one of the grosseft abuses
of this figure. Shakespeare's expreffion, for example, " to take arms against a fea of troubles,” makes a most unnatural medly, and entirely confounds the imagination. More correct writers, than Shakespeare, are fometimes guilty of this error. Mr. Addison fays, “ There " is not a single view of human nature, which is not is fufficient to extinguish the seeds of pride." Here a view is made to extinguish, and to extinguifle feeds.
In examining the propriety of metaphors it is a good' rule, to form a picture of them, and to consider how the parts agree, and what kind of figure, the whole presents, when delineated with a pencil.
Metaphors in the sixth place should not be crowded together on the same obje&t.' Though each of them be distinct ; yet, if they be heaped on one another, they produce confusion. The following passage from Horace will exemplify this observation ;:
Motuin ex Metello consule civicum :
Ludumque fortunæ, gravesque
Principum amicitias, et arma
Tractas, et incedis per ignes
This paffage, though very poetical, is rendered harsh and obscure by three distinct metaphors crowded to: