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CHAP. XIX.
Comparisons.

Comparisons, as observed above *, serve two purposes: when addressed to the understanding, their purpose is to instruct * when to the heart, their purpose is to please. Various means contribute to the latter: first, the suggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast; second, the setting an object in the strongest light; third, the associating an object with others that are agreeable; fourth, the elevating an object; and, fifth, the depressing it. And that comparisons may give pleasure by these various means, appears from what is said in the chapter above cited; and will be made still more evident by examples, which lhall be given after premising some general observations.

Objects of different fenses cannot be compared together; for such objects are totally separated from each other, and have no circumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Objects of hearing may be compared together, as also of taste, of smell, and of touch: but the chief fund of comparison are objects of sight; be

• Chap. 8.

eause, cause, in writing or speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of sight are more distinct and lively than those of any other sense.

When a nation emerging out of barbarity begins to think of the fine arts, the beauties of language cannot long lie concealed; and when discovered, they are generally, by the force of novelty, carried beyond all bounds of moderation. Thus, in the earliest poems of every nation, we find metaphors and similes founded on the slightest and most distant resemblances, which, losing their grace with their novelty, wear gradually out of repute; and now, by the improvement of taste, no metaphor nor simile is admitted into any polite composition but of the most striking kind. To illustrate this observation, a specimen sliall be given afterward of such metaphors as I have been describing: with respect to similes take the following specimen.

Behold, thou art fair, my love: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead: thy teeth asc" like a flock of sheep from the washing, every one bearing twins: thy lips are like a thread of scarlet: thy neck like the tower of David built for an armoury, whereoa hang a thousand shields of mighty men: thy two breasts like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies: thy eyes like the fish-pools in Hefbon, by the gate Of Bath-rabbin: thy nose like the tower of Lebanon,

looking toward Damascus*

Seng ofSelomon.

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Thou art like snow on the heath; thy hair like the mist of Cromla, when it curls on the rocks and fliines to the beam of the west: thy breasts are like two smooth rocks seen from Branno of the streams: thy arms like two white pillars in the hall of the mighty Fingal.

Fingal.

It has no good effect to compare things by way of simile that are of the fame kind; nor to contrast things of different kinds. The reason is given in the chapter cited above; and the reason shall be illustrated by examples. The first is a comparison built upon a resemblance so obvious as to make little or no impression.

This just rebuke inflam'd the Lycian crew,
They join, they thicken, and th' assault renew;
Unmov'd th' embody'd Greeks their fury dare,
And fix'd support the weight of all the war;
Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian pow'rs,
Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian tow'rs.
As on the confines of adjoining grounds,
Two stubborn swains with blows dispute their bounds j
They tugg, they sweat; but neither gain, nor yield,
One foot, one inch, of the contended field:
Thus obstinate to death, they fight, they fall;
Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.

Iliad xii. 505

Another, from Milton, lies open to the fame objection. Speaking of the fallen angels searching for mines of gold:

A numerous brigade hasten'd: as when bands
Of pioneers with spade and pick-ax arm'd.
Forerun the royal camp to trench a field
Or cast a rampart.

The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.

Queen. What, is my Richard both in shape and mind Transform'd and weak? Hath Bolingbroke depos'd Thine intellect? Hath he been in thy heart I The lion, dying, thrusteth forth his paw, And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage To be o'erpower'd: and wilt thou, pupil-like Take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod, And fawn on rage with base humility?

RichardII. aSl $.sc. i.

This comparison has scarce any force: a man and a lion are of different species, and therefore are proper subjects for a simile; but there is no such resemblance between them in general, as to produce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes or circumstances.

A third general observation is, That abstract terms can never be the subject of comparison, otherwise than by being personified. Shakespear compares adversity to a toad, and slander to the bite of a crocodile; but in such comparisons these abstract terms must be imagined sensible beings.

To have a just notion of comparisons, they

must must be distinguished into two kinds; one common and familiar, as where a man is compared to a lion in courage, or to a horse in speed; the other more distant and refined, where two things that have in themselves no resemblance or opposition, are compared with respect to their effects. This fort of comparison is occasionally explained above *; and for further explanation take what follows. There is no resemblance between a flower-plot and a chearful song; and yet they may be compared with respect to their effects, the emotions they produce in the mind being extremely similar. There is as little resemblance between fraternal concord and precious ointment; and yet observe how successfully they are compared with respect to the impressions they make.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron's beard, and descended to the starts of his garment.

Psalm 133.

For illustrating this fort of comparison, I add i some more examples:

Delightful is thy presence, O Fingal! it is like the fun on Crbmla, when the hunter mourns his absence for a season, and sees him between the clouds.

Did not Ofiian hear a voice i or is it the sound of days

• p. 86.

that

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