Imagini ale paginilor
[ocr errors]

lime, but must be placed in such a point of view, as to afford a full and clear impression of its grandeur. It must be described with strength, with conciseness, and with simplicity. Beauty of style comprehends purity, perspicuity, harmony, and a judicious use of figurative language.


These are divided into tropes and figures. 1. A trope is the alteration of a word or sentence with advantage from its proper signification to another meaning: as in 2 Sam. xxiii. 3. GOD is a rock; here the trope lies in the word rock, which is changed from its original sense, as intending one of the strongest works and surest shelters in nature, and is employed to signify, that GOD by his faithfulness and power is the same security to the soul that trusts in him, as the rock is to the man that builds upon it, or flies for safety to its impenetrable recesses. So our LORD speaking of Herod, Luke xiii. 32. says, Go ye and tell that fox; here the word fox is alienated from its proper meaning, which is that of a beast of prey, and of deep cunning, to denote a mischievous and crafty tyrant. 2. A figure is an arrangement of words differing from the common method, to express in an emphatic manner, the emotions of the mind. A figure differs essentially from a trope, as there is no translation of a word from its proper into an improper sense; and it is easily distinguishable from ordinary language, as it casts a new form upon speech, and ennobles and adorns our discourses.

The following is a specimen of highly figurative language. It is a speech delivered by an American chief to the deputies of the English nation with whom he had concluded a treaty of peace:


"We are happy in having buried under ground the red axe, that has so often been dyed with the blood of our "brethren. Now, in this fort, we enter the axe, and plant "the tree of peace. We plant a tree whose top will reach "the sun; and its branches spread abroad, so that it shall "be seen afar off. May its growth never be stifled and "choaked; but may it shade both your country and ours "with its leaves! Let us make fast its roots, and extend "them to the utmost of your colonies. If the French

"should come to shake this tree, we should know it by the "motion of its roots, reaching into our country. May the great spirit allow us to rest in tranquillity upon our mats, "and never again dig up the axe to cut down the tree of <6 peace! Let the earth be trod hard over it, where it lies "buried. Let a strong stream run under the pit to wash "the evil away out of our sight and remembrance. The "fire, which had long burned in Albany, is extinguished. "The bloody bed is washed clean, and the tears are wiped "from our eyes. We now renew the covenant chain of "friendship Let it be kept bright, and clean as silver, "and not suffered to contract any rust. Let not any one pull away his arm from it." Colden's Hist. of the five Indian Nations.


[ocr errors]

The principal tropes are Metaphor, Simile, Allegory, Hyperbole, Irony, Synecdoche, and Metonymy. The principal figures are Interrogation, Prosopopëia, Apostrophe, Antithesis, and Climax. Examples of these tropes and figures will be drawn, principally, from the SACRED SCRIPTURES:-those Sacred Scriptures, which, while they are revered as the Oracles of GOD, graciously communicated for the instruction and advantage of mankind in their highest and everlasting interests;-so ought they to be admired for the immense variety of thetorical beauties displayed in every page contained in them. The BIBLE, though commonly regarded as containing only lessons of morality and plain statements of facts, abounds with the most sublime images, and every ornament of which style is susceptible.

§ 1. Tropes.

1. A metaphor is founded on the resemblance which one object bears to another. It is nearly allied to simile or comparison, and differs from it, only in being expressed in a shorter form. Thus when we say of a man, that he acted like a lion, it is a comparison; but when we say he is a lion, it a metaphor. The Psalmist says, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Our Saviour is likened unto a vine, a lamb, a door, &c. and men are styled wolves, sheep, dogs, &c. St. Jude, in his epistle, ver. 12, 13. has a continuation of vehement metaphors,

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear. Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees, whose fruit withers, without fruit, plucked up by the roots: raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Metaphors are constantly used in common discourse; as, when we say, a warm or cold heart, or that a man is inflamed with love, or worn out with fatigue.

Hayley, in that highly ingenious work, his Essay on Old Maids, has the following simple and consistent metaphor. 'I have sometimes considered the bosom of an old maid as a kind of cell, in which it was intended that the lively bee, affection, should treasure up its collected sweets; but this bee happening to perish, before it could properly settle on the flowers that should afford its wealth, the vacant cell may unluckily become the abode of that drone Indifference, or of the wasp Malignity.'

Extended metaphors are admirably calculated to charm the imagination. The recollection of past happiness is thus elegantly exhibited by the sacred author of the book of JOB. Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when I washed my steps in butter, and the rocks poured me out rivers of oil. When the ear heard me, it blessed me; I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it cloathed me; my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and a father to the poor. A depressed and plaintive state of mind admits the use of these decorations, as exemplified by the following meditation of Wolsey, in Shakspeare's Henry VIII.

Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness.
This is the state of man. To-day puts forth
The tender leaves of hope; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely,
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do.

2. A simile, or comparison is when the resemblance between two objects is expressed in form, and pursued more fully than the nature of metaphor admits; as when Job says, My days are passed away as the swift ships, as the

eagle that hasteth to her prey. And I have always dreaded the anger of God as waves hanging over my head, and I could not bear the weight of them. Or, when it is said, "the actions of princes are like those great rivers, the "course of which every one beholds, but their springs have "been seen by few." Mr. Harris, in his Hermes, has by a simile, illustrated very happily, the distinction between the powers of sense and imagination in the human mind : "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 same holds of the "soul with respect to sense and the imagination. Sense is "its receptive power, and imagination its retentive. Had "it sense without imagination, it would not be as wax, but as water, where though all impressions be instantly made, yet as soon as they are made, they are instantly lost." The word imagination is, here, synonimous with memory.




Homer, while illustrating the state of the Grecian camp after a battle, introduces the following description of nightscenery, thus beautifully versified by Pope.

As when the moon, resplendent orb of night,
O'er heaven's pure azure sheds her sacred light;
When not a cloud o'ercasts the solemn scene,
And not a breath disturbs the deep serene;
Around her throne, the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumbered gild the glowing pole;
O'er the dark trees a yellow verdure spread,
And tip with silver ev'ry mountain's head.
Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies.
The conscious swains rejoicing in the night,
Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.*

3. An allegory is a chain or continuation of tropes, and more generally of metaphors, and differs from a single trope in the same manner as a cluster on the vine does from only one or two grapes. In the allegory terms are used to signify more than what their literal meaning implies; as, "wealth is the daughter of diligence, and the parent of authority." Allegories have been compared to tracks of light in a discourse that make every thing about them clear and beautiful. There cannot be a more pleas

*For a very extensive collection of similes, see Aikin's Essays, Literary and Miscellaneous, 8vo.

ing example than in the four first verses of the xxiii. Psalm The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet will I fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and staff, they comfort me. See also Psalm ixxx. S. Judges xiv. 14. Ephes. vi. 10-19. Amidst a host of allegories profusely scattered in the British poets and essayists, two very fine specimens may be found in the Spectator, No. 55, 458, 559, and in the Rambler, No. 3. In a poem called the “ Spleen," remarkable for originality of ideas, and felicity of expression, there is the following fine allegory:

Thus, thus I steer my bark, and sail
On even keel with gentle gale;
At helm I make my reason sit,
My crew of passions all submit.
If dark and blust'ring prove some nights,"
Philosophy puts forth her lights;
Experience holds the cautions glass,
To shun the breakers as I pass,
And frequent throws the wary lead,
To see what dangers may be hid.
Though pleased to see the dolphins play,
I mind my compass and my way,
With store sufficient for relief,
And wisely still prepared to reef:
Not wanting the dispersive bowl
Of cloudy weather in the soul,
I make, (may heaven propitious send
Such wind and weather to the end!)
Neither be calmed nor overblown,
Life's voyage to the world unknown.



4. Hyperbole consists in magnifying an object beyond proper limits. It occurs in all languages, and even makes a part of common conversation: whiter than snow, blacker than a raven, swifter than the wind, and the usual forms of compliment are extravagant hyperboles. In Deut. ix. 1. we read of cities fenced up to heaven. In Job xx. 6, the head of a prosperous wicked man is represented as reaching to the clouds: and in Psalm cvii. 26. mariners in a storm are said to mount up, that is upon the waves, to heaven. Horace, in Ode 16, Book 2. has the following pretty exemplification, thus translated;

« ÎnapoiContinuă »