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perience. It must, however, be an experience suitable to their characters: an old general should not talk upon law, nor an old lawyer upon war."
We are now to proceed to diction.
CONCERNING DICTION-THE VULGAR-THE AFFECTED-THE ELEGANT
THIS LAST MUCH INDEBTED TO THE METAPHOR-PRAISE OF THE METAPHOR-ITS DESCRIPTION; AND, WHEN GOOD, ITS CHARACTER THE BEST AND MOST EXCELLENT, WHAT-NOT TURGID-NOR ENIGMATIC-NOR BASE-NOR RIDICULOUS-INSTANCES-METAPHORS BY CONSTANT USE SOMETIMES BECOME COMMON WORDS-PUNS-RUPILIUS REX -OTTIE-ENIGMAS-CUPPING-THE GOD TERMINUS-ovid's FASTI.
As every sentiment must be expressed by words, the theory of sentiment naturally leads to that of diction. Indeed, the connection between them is so intimate, that the same sentiment, where the diction differs, is as different in appearance, as the same person, dressed like a peasant, or dressed like a gentleman. And hence we see, how much diction merits a serious attention.
But this perhaps will be better understood by an example. Take, then, the following: “Do not let a lucky hit slip; if you do, belike you may not any more get at it.” The sentiment (we must confess) is expressed clearly, but the diction surely is rather vulgar and low. Take it another way: "Opportune moments are few and fleeting; seize them with avidity, or your progression will be impeded.” Here the diction, though not low, is rather obscure. The words are unusual, pedantic, and affected. But what says Shakspeare ?
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Is bound in shallows. Here the diction is elegant, without being vulgar or affected ; the words, though common, being taken under a metaphor, are so far estranged by this metaphorical use, that they acquire through the change a competent dignity, and yet, without becoming vulgar, remain intelligible and clear.
Knowing, therefore, the stress laid by the ancient critics on the metaphor, and viewing its admirable effects in the decorating of diction, we think it may merit a further regard.
d'ApubTtet dè ywuoroyeiv ñauxią uły Rhet, ut supra, p. 97. edit. Sylb. See also πρεσβύτερον, περί δε τούτων ών εμπειρός the ingenious Bossu, in his Traité du Poeme Tis totiv: “ It becomes him to be sententious Epique, I. vi. c. 4, 5; who is, as usual, who is advanced in years, and that upon copious and clear. subjects in which he has experience.” Arist.
There is not, perhaps, any figure of speech so pleasing as the metaphor. It is at times the language of every individual, but, above all, is peculiar to the man of genius. His sagacity discerns not only common analogies, but those others more remote, which escape the vulgar, and which, though they seldom invent, they seldom fail to recognise when they hear them from persons more ingenious than themselves.
It has been ingeniously observed, that the metaphor took its rise from the poverty of language. Men, not finding upon every occasion words ready made for their ideas, were compelled to have recourse to words analogous, and transfer them from their original meaning to the meaning then required. But though the metaphor began in poverty, it did not end there. When the analogy was just, (and this often happened,) there was something peculiarly pleasing in what was both new and yet familiar; so that the metaphor was then cultivated, not out of necessity, but for ornament. It is thus that clothes were first assumed to de fend us against the cold, but came afterwards to be worn for distinction and decoration.
It must be observed, there is a force in the united words, new and familiar. What is new, but not familiar, is often unintelligible; what is familiar, but not new, is no better than common place. It is in the union of the two, that the obscure and the vulgar are happily removed ; and it is in this union that we view the character of a just metaphor.
But after we have so praised the metaphor, it is fit at length we should explain what it is; and this we shall attempt as well by a description as by examples.
“A metaphor is the transferring of a word from its usual meaning to an analogous meaning, and then the employing it agreeably to such transfer."? For example: the usual meaning of evening, is the conclusion of the day. But age too is a conclusion; the conclusion of human life. Now there being an analogy in all conclusions, we arrange in order the two we have alleged, and say, that, “as evening is to the day, so is age to human life.” Hence, by an easy permutation, (which furnishes
• Το δε μέγιστον μεταφορικών είναι μό- rive metaphors, from terms which are proper, νον γαρ τούτο ούτε παρ' άλλου εστι λαβείν, and yet not obvious ; since even in phiευφυΐας τε σημειόν εστι το γάρ ει μετα- Iosophy, to discern the similar in things φέρειν, το όμοιον θεωρείν έστι: “ The widely distant, is the part of one who congreatest thing of all is to be powerful in jectures happily.” Arist. Rhetor. I. üi.e. ll. metaphor ; for this alone cannot be acquired p. 137. edit. Sylb. from another, but is a mark of original ge- That metaphor is an effort of genius, and nius: for to metaphorize well, is to discern cannot be taught, is here again asserted in in different objects that which is similar." the words of the first quotation : Kal Aaße Arist. Poet. c. 22. p. 250. edit. Sylb. ουκ έστιν αυτήν (scil. μεταφοράν) παρ'
Δεί δε μεταφέρειν-από οικείων και μη άλλου. Rhetor. 1. iii. c. 2. p. 120. edit. Sylb. φανερών, οίον και εν φιλοσοφία το όμοιον Μεταφορά δ' έστιν ονόματος αλλοτρίου και ένα πολύ διέχουσι θεωρείν, ευστόχου: επιφορά, κ. τ. λ. Arist. Poet, cap. 21. “We ought to metaphorize, that is, to de- p. 247. edit. Sylb.
at once two metaphors,) we say alternately, that “evening is the age of the day;" and that “age is the evening of life."s
There are other metaphors equally pleasing, but which we only mention, as their analogy cannot be mistaken. It is thus that old men have been called stubble; and the stage or theatre, the mirror of human life.”
In language of this sort there is a double satisfaction: it is strikingly clear; and yet raised, though clear, above the low and vulgar idiom. It is a praise too of such metaphors, to be quickly comprehended. The similitude and the thing illustrated are commonly despatched in a single word, and comprehended by an immediate and instantaneous intuition.
Thus a person of wit, being dangerously ill, was told by his friends, two more physicians were called in.
“ So many !” says be,“ do they fire then in platoons ?”
These instances may assist us to discover, what metaphors may be called the best.
They ought not, in an elegant and polite style, (the style of which we are speaking) to be derived from meanings too sublime; for then the diction would be turgid and bombast. Such was the language of that poet, who, describing the footmen's flambeaux at the end of an opera, sung or said,
Now blaz’d a thousand flaming suns, and bade
Grim night retire.
8 Ομοίως έχει εσπέρα προς ημέραν, και Ulysses, for his protection, had been γηρας προς βίον: έρεί τοίνυν τήν εσπέραν metamorphosed by Minerva into the igure γήρας ημέρας, και το γήρας εσπέραν βίου. of an old man. Yet even then the hero Aristot. Poet. c. 21. p. 248. edit. Sylb. did not choose to lose his dignity. By
+ The Stagirite having told us what a his discourse he informs Eumæus, (who did natural pleasure we derive from information, not know him,) that although he was old, and having told us that in the subject of he was still respectable : I imagine (says words, exotic words want that pleasure, he) that even now you may know the from being obscure, and common words stubble by the look. As much as to suggest, from being too well known, adds imme- that, though he had compared himself to diately-ή δε μεταφορά ποιεί τούτο μά- stubble, it was nevertheless to that better λιστα όταν γάρ είπη το γήρας καλαμών, Sort, left after the reaping of the best corn. εποίησε μάθησιν και γνώσιν διά του γένους, , See the note upon this verse by my duow yèp aanvonkóta—“ but the metaphor learned friend, the late Mr. Samuel Clarke, does this most effectually, for when Homer in his Greek edition of the Odyssey, and (in metaphor) said that age was stubble, he Klotzius upon Tyrtæus, p. 26. conveyed to us information and knowledge As to the next metaphor, it is an idea through a common genus, (through the ge- not unknown to Shakspeare, who, speaking nus of time,) as both old men and stubble of acting or playing, says, with energy, have passed the flower of their existence. That its end, both at first, and nou, was, The words in Homer are,
and is, 'Αλλ' έμπης καλάμην γε σ' ότομαι είσο- To hold as it were the mirror up to nature. ρόωντα
Hamlet. Γνώσκειν. .
Οδυσσ. Ξ. 214. According to Aristotle, the Odyssey of Sed tamen stipulam saltem te arbitror Homer was elegantly called by Alcidamas, intuentem
καλόν ανθρωπίνου βίου κατόπτρον, «, Cognoscere.
beautiful mirror of human life.” Rhet. l. ij. In which verse we cannot help remarking c. 3. p. 124. edit. Sylb. an elegance of the poet.
an enigma. It was thus a gentleman once puzzled his country friend, in telling him, by way of compliment, that "he was become a perfect centaur. His honest friend knew nothing of centaurs, but being fond of riding, was hardly ever off his horse.
Another extreme remains, the reverse of the too sublime, and that is, the transferring from subjects too contemptible. Such was the case of that poet quoted by Horace, who, to describe winter, wrote
Jupiter hybernas cana nive conspuit Alpes. Hor. l. ii. Sat. 5.
“O'er the cold Alps Jove spits his hoary snow.” Nor was that modern poet more fortunate whom Dryden quotes, and who, trying his genius upon the same subject, supposed winter
To perriwig with snow the baldpate woods. With the same class of wits we may arrange that pleasant fellow, who, speaking of an old lady whom he had affronted, gave us in one short sentence no less than three choice metaphors. “I perceive," said he," her back is up; I must curry favour, or the fat will be in the fire.”
Nor can we omit that the same word, when transferred to different subjects, produces metaphors very different, as to propriety or impropriety.
It is with propriety that we transfer the word, to embrace, from human beings to things purely ideal. The metaphor appears just, when we say, “to embrace a proposition; to embrace an offer; to embrace an opportunity.” Its application perhaps was not quite so elegant when the old steward wrote to his lord, upon the subject of his farm, that “if he met any oxen, he would not fail to embrace them."
If then we are to avoid the turgid, the enigmatic, and the base or ridiculous, no other metaphors are left, but such as may be described by negatives; such as are neither turgid, nor enigmatic, nor base and ridiculous.
Such is the character of many metaphors already alleged, among others that of Shakspeare's, where tides are transferred to speedy and determined conduct. Nor does his Wolsey with less propriety moralize upon his fall in the following beautiful metaphor, taken from vegetable nature.
This is the state of man ; to day he puts forth
i The species of metaphors here con- and tragical: there are likewise the obscure, demned, are thus enumerated : Eloi gào kad if they are fetched from too great a distance.” HeTacopa ampemeis, ai đèn ôà To Yeloxov Arist. Rhet. 1. iii. c. 3. p. 124. edit, Sylb. -ai dé Old To osvdv åyar kal Tpayıkóvo See Cic. de Oratore, 1. iii. p. 155, &c. ασαφείς δε, αν πόρρωθεν, κ. τ. λ.
Sup. p. 439. Philos. Arrangements, p. metaphors are unbecoming, some from being 340. ridiculous, and others from being too solemn
In such metaphors (besides their intrinsic elegance) we may say the reader is flattered ; I mean flattered, by being left to discover something for himself.
There is one observation, which will at the same time shew both the extent of this figure, and how natural it is to all men.
There are metaphors so obvious, and of course so naturalized, that ceasing to be metaphors, they are become (as it were) the proper words. It is after this manner we say,-a sharp fellow; a great orator; the foot of a mountain; the eye of a needle ; the bed of a river; to ruminate, to ponder, to edify, &c.
These we by no means reject, and yet the metaphors we require we wish to be something more; that is, to be formed under the respectable conditions here established.
We observe, too, that a singular use may be made of metaphors, either to exalt, or to depreciate, according to the sources from which we derive them. In ancient story, Orestes was by some called "the murderer of his mother;" by others, “the avenger of his father.” The reasons will appear by referring to the fact. The poet Simonides was offered money to celebrate certain mules that had won a race. The sum being pitiful, he said, with disdain, he should not write upon demi-asses. A more competent sum was offered, he then began,
Hail! Daughters of the generous horse,
That skims, like wind, along the course. There are times, when, in order to exalt, we may call beggars, petitioners; and pick-pockets, collectors; other times, when, in order to depreciate, we may call petitioners, beggars; and collectors, pick-pockets. But enough of this.
We say no more of metaphors, but that it is a general caution with regard to every species, not to mix them, and that more particularly, if taken from subjects which are contrary.
Such was the case of that orator, who once asserted in his oration, that, “if cold water were thrown upon a certain measure, it would kindle a flame that would obscure the lustre," &c.
A word remains upon enigmas and puns. It shall indeed be short, because, though they resemble the metaphor, it is as brass and copper resemble gold.
A pun seldom regards meaning, being chiefly confined to sound.
Horace gives a sad sample of this spurious wit, where (as Dryden humorously translates it) he makes Persius the buffoon exhort the patriot Brutus to kill Mr. King, that is Rupilius Rex, because Brutus, when he slew Cæsar, had been accustomed to king-killing.
Hunc regem occide ; operum hoc mihi crede tuorum est. Sat. lib. i. vii.
! For these two facts, concerning Orestes & Tarpos duúvtwp. Simonides called the and Simonides, see Arist. Rhet. I. iii. c. 2. mules nulovou at first; and then began, p. 122. edit. Sylb. The different appella- Χαίρετ' αελλοπόδων θυγατρες ίππων. tions of Orestes were, ο Μητροφόντης, and