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In me tota ruens Venus :
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 19.
From considering that a word used in a figurative sense suggests at the same time its proper meaning, we discover a fifth rule, That we ought not to employ a word in a figurative sense, the proper sense of which is inconsistent or incongruous with the subject : for every inconsistency, and even incongruity, though in the expression only and not real, is unpleasant :
Interea genitor Tyberini ad fluminis undam
Æneid. x. 833.
Tres adeo incertos cæca caligine foles .
Æneid. iii. 203.
The foregoing rule may be extended to form a sixth, That no epithet ought to be given to the figurative sense of a word that agrees not also with its proper sense:
Parcus deorum cultor, et infrequens,
· Horat. Carm. l. 1. ode 34.
Seventhly, Seventhly, The crowding into one period or thought different figures of speech, is not less faulty than crowding metaphors in that manner: the mind is distracted in the quick transition from one image to another, and is puzzled instead of being pleased :
I am of ladies most deject and wretched,
My bleeding bosom fickens at the found.
Digne puer meliore flamma.
Horat. Carm. I. 1. ode 27.
Eighthly, If crowding figures be bad, it is still worse to graft one figure upon another. For inItance,
While his keen falchion drinks the warriors lives.
Iliad, xi. 211.
A falchion drinking the warriors blood is a figure built upon resemblance, which is passable. But then in the expression, lives is again put for
blood; and by thus grafting one figure upon another, the expression is rendered obscure and unpleasant.
Ninthly, Intricate and involved figures, that can scarce be analysed, or reduced to plain language, are least of all tolerable :
Votis incendimus aras.
Æneid. ü. 279.
Onerantque canistris Dona laboratæ Cereris.
Æneid. viii. 180.
Vulcan to the Cyclopes,"
Arma acri facienda viro : nunc viribus usus,
Æneid. vüi. 441.
Huic gladio, perque ærea futa
Æneid. x. 313.
Semotique prius tarda neceffitas Lethi, corripuit gradum.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 3.
Scrībêris Vario fortis, et hoftium
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ade 6,
Elle dhall our fates be number'd with the dead.
Iliad, v. 294.
Commutual death the fate of war confounds.. .
... Iliad, viii. 85. and xi. 1 17.
Speaking of Proteus,
Instant he wears, elusive of the rape,
Odys. iv. 563.
Ibid. iv. 9526
The mingling tempest weaves its gloom.
Autumn, 337. A various sweetness swells the gentle race.
Ibid, 640. A fober calm fleeces unbounded ether.
· Ibid, 967.
The distant water-fall swells in the breeze.
In the tenth place, When a subject is introduced by its proper name, it is absurd to attribute to it the properties of a different subject to which the word is sometimes apply'd in a figurative sense :
Hear me, oh Neptune! thou whose arms are hurld
Odys. ix. 6171
Neptune is here introduced personally, and not figuratively for the ocean : the description therefore, which is only applicable to the latter, is altogether improper. ,
It is not fufficient, that a figure of speech be regularly constructed, and be free from blemish : it requires taste to discern when it is proper when improper; and taite, I suspect, is the only guide we can rely on. One however may gather from reflection and experience, that orna ments and graces suit not any of the dispiriting passions, nor are proper for expressing any thing grave and important. In fainiliar conversation, they are in some measure ridiculous : Profpero, in the Tempest, speaking to his daughter Miranda, says, The fringed curtains of thinc eyes advancé, And say what thou seest yond. No exception can be taken to the justness of the figure; and circumstances may be imagined to make it proper : but it is certainly not proper in familiar conversation.
In the last place, Though figures of speech have a charming effect when accurately constructed and properly introduced, they ought however to be scartered with a sparing hand : nothing is more luscious, and nothing consequently more satiating, than redundant ornainents of any kind.