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Et qui s'evanouit, comme Ton peut favoir,
Aux rajons du foleil qu'une bourfe fait voir.

Moliere,rEiQurdi,aB 2,'fi- '^'

Et fon feu, depourvu de fenfe et de le6hire,
S'eteint a chaque pas, faute de nourriture.

Boikaji, V Art poetique, chant 3- /. 319.

Dryden, in his dedication of the tranflation oijii-
'venal., fays.

When thus, as I may fay, before the ufe of the load-
ilone, or knov.ledge of the compafs, I was failing in a
vaft ocean, without other help than the pole-flar of the
ancients, and the rules of the French Ilage among the
moderns, &c. '

There is a time when fatlions, by the vehemence of
their own fermentation, ftun and difable one another.


This fault of jumbling the figure and plain ex-
preffion into one confufed mafs, is not lefs com-
mon in allegory than in metaphor. Take the fol-
lowing examples.

Heu ! quoties lldem,

Mutatofque Deos flebit, et afpera
Nigris ^quora ventis
Emirabitur infolens,
Qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea :
Qui femper vacuam, femper amabilem
Sperat. nefcius aur^e

Fallacis. Horat. Carm. I. 1. ode ^,


292 FIGURES. Ch. XX.

Pour moi fur cette mer, qu'ici bas nous courons,
Je fonge a me pourvoir d'efquif et d'avirons,
A regler mes defirs, a prevenir I'orage,
Et fauver, s'il fe peut, ma Raifon du naufrage.

Boileau, epitre 5.

Lord Halifax, fpeaking of the ancient fabulifts :

" They (fays he) wrote in ligns andfpokein pa-

" rabies : all their fables carry a double meaning ;

" the ftory is one and entire ; the characters the

" fame throughout ; not broken or changed, and

" always conformable to the nature of the crea-

" ture they introduce. They never tell you, that

** the dog which fnapp'd at a fhadow, loft his

" troop of horfe ; that would be unintelligible.

*' This, is his (Dryden's) new way of telling a

'' ftory, and confounding the moral and the fable

" together." After inftancing from the hind and

panther, he goes on thus : " What relation has

•* the hind to our Saviour ; or what notion have

" we of a panther's Bible ? If you fay he means

" the church, how does the church feed on lawns,

*' or range in the foreft ? Let it be always a

** church or always a cloven-footed beaft, for we

*' cannot bear his ftiifting the fcene every line."

A few words more upon allegory. Nothing

gives greater pleafure than this figure, when the

reprefentative fubje6l bears a ftrong analogy, in

all its circumftances, to that which is reprefented :

but the choice is feldom fo lucky ; the analogy


Se6l.VI. F I G U R E S. 293

being generally fo faint and obfcure, as to puzzle
and not pleafe. An allegory is Hill more difficult
in painting than in poetry : the former can fliow
no refeniblance but what appears to the eye ; the
latter hath many other refources for (howing the
refemblance. And therefore, with refped; to what
the Abbe du Bos * terms mixt allegorical compo-
litions, thefe may do in poetry ; becaufe, in wri-
ting, the allegory can eafily be dillinguifhed from
the hiftorical part : no perfon, for example, mif-
takes Virgil's Fame for a real being. But fuch a
mixture in a pidlure is intolerable ; becaufe in a
pidture the obje(5ls mull appear all of the fame
kind, wholly real or wholly emblematical. For
this reafon, the hiltory of Mary de Medicis, in the
palace of Luxenbourg, painted by Rubens, is un-
pleafant by a perpetual jumble of real and allego-
rical perfonages, which produce a difcordance of
parts, and an obfcurity upon the whole : witnefs
in particular, the tablature reprefenting the arri-
val of Mary de Medicis at Marfeilles ; where, to-
gether with the real perfonages, the Nereids and
Tritons appear founding their lliells : fuch a mix-
ture of fidion and reality in the fame group, is
ftrangely abfurd. The picture of Alexander and
Roxana, defcribed by Lucian, is gay and fanci-
ful ; but it fufFers by the allegorical figures. It is
not in the wit of man to invent an allegorical re-

* Reflexions fur la Poelie^ vol. i. fefl. 24.


294 FIGURES. Ch. XX.

prefentation deviating farther from any fhadow of
refemblance, than one exhibited by Lewis XIV.
anno 1664 , in which an enormous chariot, in-
tended to reprefent that of the fun, is dragg'd
along, furrounded with men and women, repre-
fenting the four ages of the world, the celeftial
ligns, the feafons, the hours, Sec. ; a monftrous
compofition, fuggefted probably by Guido's ta-
blature of Aurora, and flill more abfurd.

In an allegory as well as in a metaphor, terms
ought to be chofen that properly and literally are
applicable to the reprefentative fubjedt : nor ought
any circumftance to be added that is not proper to
the reprefentative fubj eel, however juftly it may
be applicable properly or figuratively to the prin-
cipal. The following allegory is therefore faulty :

Ferns et Cupido,
Semper ardentes acuens fagittas
Cote cruentd.

Horat. I. 1. ode S.

For though blood may fuggeft the cruelty of love,
it is an improper or immaterial circumftance in
the reprefentative fubjed : water, not blood, is
proper for a whetftone.

We proceed to the next head, which is, to ex-
amine in what circumftance thefe figures are pro-
per, in what improper. This inquiry is not alto-

Sea VI. FIGURES. 295

gethcr fuperfeded by what is faid upon the fame
fubjed in the chapter of Comparifons ; becaufe
upon trial it will be found, that a fhort metaphor
or allegory may be proper, where a limile, drawn
out to a greater length, and in its nature more
folemn, would fcarce be relifhed.

And, firft, a metaphor, like a limile, is exclu-
ded from common converfation, and from the de-
fcription of ordinary incidents.

Second, in expreffing any fevere paffion that
wholly occupies the mind, metaphor is improper.
For which reafon, the following fpeech of Mac-
beth is faulty.

Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more !
Macbeth doth murder fleep ; the innocent fleep ;
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd fleeve of Care,
The birth of each day's Hfe, fore Labour's bath.
Balm of hurt minds, great Nature's fecond courfe,

Chief nouriJher in Life's feafl.

AEl%.fc. 3.

The following example, of deep defpair, befide
the highly figurative ftyle, hath more the air of
raving than of fenfe :

Calijla. Is it the voice of thunder, or my father ?
Madnefs ! Confulion ! let the Ilorm come on.
Let the tumultuous roar drive all upon me,
Daih my devoted bark \ ye furges, break it ;
'Tis for my ruin that the tempell rifes.


296 F 1 G U R E S. Ch.XX.

When 1 am loll, funk to die bottom low,
Peace fliall return, and all be calm again.

Fair Penitent, acl 4 .

The metaphor I next introduce, is fweet and live-
ly, but it fuits not a fiery temper inflamed with
paffion : parables are not the language of wrath
venting itfelf without reftraint :

Chaviont. You took her up a little tender flower,
Juft fprouted on a bank, which the next frofl:
Had nip'd ; and with a careful loving hand,
Tranfplanted her into your own fair garden.
Where the fun always fhines : there long flie flourifli'd.
Grew fweet to fenfe and lovely to the eye,
Till at the lall a cruel fpoiler came,
Cropt this fair rofe, and rifled all its fweetnefs.
Then cafl it like a loathfome weed away.

Orphan, a6i i,.

The following fpeech, full of imagery, is not na-
tural in grief and dejection of mind :

Gonfalez. O my fon ! from the blind dotage
Of a father's fondnefs thefe ills arofe.
for thee I've been ambitious, bafc and bloody :
For thee I've plimg'd into this fea of fin ;
Stemming the tide with only one weak hand.
While t'other bore the crown (to wreathe thy brow,}
Whofe weight has funk me ere I reach'd the fliore.

Mourning Bride, aB S-f^' ^•


Seel. VI. FIGURES. 297

There is an enchanting pidure of deep diftrefs in
Macbeth *, where MacdufFis reprefented lament-
ing his wife and children, inhumanly murdered
by the tyrant. Stung to the heart with the news,
he queftions the meffenger over and over : not
that he doubted the fadl, but that his heart revolt-
ed againil fo cruel a misfortune. After ftrug-
gling fome time w'ith his griefj he turns from his
wife and children to their favage butcher ; and
then gives vent to his refentment, but ftill with
manlinefs and dignity :

O; I could play the woman with mine eyes,

And braggart with my tongue. But, gentle Heav'n?

Cut fhort all intermiffion ; front to front

Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myfelf ;

Within my fword's length fet him.— If he 'fcape,

Then Heav'n forgive him too.

The whole fcene is a delicious picture of human
nature. One expreffion only feems doubtful : in
examining the meffenger, Macduff expreffes him-
felf thus :

He hath no children — all my pretty ones .'
Did you fay, all? what, aU? Oh, hell-kite ! all?
What ! all my pretty little chickens and their dam,
At one fell fwoop !

* Aa 4. fc. 6.
Vol. II. U Meta==

298 FIGURES. Ch. XX,

Metaphorical expreffion, lam fenfible, may fome-
times be ufed with grace, where a regular limile
would be intolerable : but there are fituations fo
fevere and difpiriting, as not to admit even the
flightefl metaphor. It requires great delicacy of
talle to determine with firmnefs, whether the pre-
fent cafe be of that kind : I incline to think it is ;
and yet I would not willingly alter a fingle word
of this admirable fcene.

But metaphorical language is proper when a
man ftruggles to bear with dignity or decency
a misfortune however great : the ftruggle agitates
and animates the mind :

Wolfey. Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatnels !
This is the Hate of man ; to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope ; to-morrow bloflbms,
And bears his blulhing honours thick upon him \
The third day comes a froft, a killing froft,
And when he thinks, good eafy man, fiill furely
His greatnefs is a ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls as I do.

Henry Vlll. a6i ^. fc. 6^


Sea. VII. FIGURES. 29^


Figure of Speech.

IN the fedion immediately foregoing, a figure
of fpeech is defined, " The ufing a word in a
^* fenfe different from what is proper to it ;*" and
the new or uncommon fenfe of the word is term-
ed the Jiguratwe fenfe. The figurative fenfe muft
have a relation to that which is proper ; and the
more intimate the relation is, the figure is the
more happy. How ornamental this figure is to
language, will not be readily imagined by any one
who hath not given peculiar attention; and there-
fore I fiiall endeavour to unfold itscapital beauties
and advantages. In the firft place, a word ufed
figuratively or in a new fenfe, fuggefts at the fame
time the fenfe it commonly bears : and thus it has
the effed: to prefenttwo objedls ; one fignified by
the figurative fenfe, which maybe termed the prin-
cipal obje£l ; and one fignified by the proper fenfe,
which may be termed acceffory : the principal makes
a part of the thought ; the acceflbry is merely
ornamental. In this refped, a figure of fpeech is
precifely fimilar to concordant founds in mufic,
Iwhich without contributing to the melody, make
'it harmonious. I explain myfelf by examples,
U 2, Totitbr,

300 FIGURES. Ch. XX.

Touth, by a figure of fpeech, is termed the morn-
ing of life. This expreffion fignifies youth, the
principal objeifl, which enters into the thought :
it fiiggefts, at the fame time, the proper fenfe of
morning ; and this acceflary objed, being in itfelf •
beautiful, and connedled bj refemblance to the
principal objeft, is not a little ornamental. Im-
perious ocean is an example of a different kind,
where an attribute is ex prefied figuratively : toge-
ther with Jlormy, the figurative meaning of the
epithet imperious, there is fiiggf^iicd its proper
meaning, t-iz, the ilern aurbont> of a defpotic
prince ; and thefe two are flronglj connected bj
refemblance. Upon thisfigurativepov/erof words^
Vida defcants with elegance :

Noime vides, verbis ut veris fsgpe reli£Hs

Accerfant iimulata, aliimdeque nonmi? porro

Tranfportent, aptentque aliis ea rebus \ ut ipfas,

Exuviafque novas, reSj infolitoique colores

Indutse, faepe externi xnirentur amiftus ;k

Unde illi, Istceque aliena luce fruaJitur,

Mutatoque habitu, nee jam fua nomina mallent ?

Saepe ideO; cuni bella canunt, mcendia credas

Cernere, diluviuniqiie ingens furgentibus undis.

Contra etiara Martis pugnas imitabitur ignis,

Cum furit accenfis acies Vulcania campis.

Nee turbato oritur quondam minor aequore pugna :

Confligunt animoli Euri certam.iiie vaito

Inter fe, pugnantque adverfis molibus nndae.

Ufque adeo paffim fua res infignia laetae


Sea. VII. FIGURES. 301

Permutantque, juvantque viciffim •, et mutua fefe
Altera in alterius transformat protinus ora.
Turn fpecie capti gaudent fpedlare legentes :
Nam diverfa fimixl datur e re cernere eadem
Multarum fimulacra animo fubeuntia reriim.

Foei. lih.'^. L 44.

In the next place, this figure polTeiTes a fignal
power of aggrandifing an obje6l, by the following
means. Words, which have no original beauty
but what arifes from their found, acquire an ad-
ventitious beauty from their meaning: a word
fignifying any thing that is agreeable, becomes by
that means agreeable ; for the agreeablenefs of the
objedl is communicated to its name *. This ac-
quired beauty by the force of cuftom, adheres to
the word even when ufed figuratively ; and the
beauty received from the thing it properly figni-
fies, is communicated to thething which it is made
to fignify figuratively. Confider the foregoing ex-
preffion Imperious ocean, how much more elevated
it is than Stormy ocean.

Thirdly, this figure hath a happy effeft by pre-
venting the familiarity of proper names. The fa-
miliarity of a proper name, is communicated to
the thing it fignifies by means of their intimate
connexion , and the thing is thereby brought
U 3 down

* See chap, 2, part. I. fe6l. 5.

302 FIGURES: Ch. XX,

down in our feeling *. This bad efFedt is pre-
yented by ufing a figurative word inftead of one
that is proper ; as, for example, when we exprefs
the iky by terming it the blue vault of heaven ; for
though no work of art can compare with the iky j
in grandeur, the expreffion however is reiifhed,
becaufe it prevents the objed: from being brought
down by the familiarity of its proper name. With
refpe6t to the degrading familiarity of proper
names, Vida has the following paflage :

Hinc fi dura mihi pafltis dicendus Ulyffes,
Non ilium vero memorabo nomine, fed qui
Et mores hominum multorum vidit, et urbes,
Naufragus everfae poll fasva incendia Trojae.

Poet. lib. 2. L 46.

Laftly, By this figure language is enriched, and
rendered more copious \ in which refpedt, were
there no other, a figure of fpeech is a happy in-
yention. This property is finely touched by Vida :

Quinetiam agricolas ea fandi nota voluptas
Exercet, dum laeta feges, dum trudere gemmas
Incipiunt vites, fitientiaque astheris imbrem
Prata bibunt, ridentque fatis furgentibus agri.


* I have often regretted, that a faftious fpirit of oppofi-
tion to the reigning family makes it necefTary in public wor-
fhip to diftinguifh the King by his proper name. One will
fcarce imagine who has not made the trial, how much better
it founds to pray for our Sovereign Lord the King, withou]t;
any addition.

Sea. Vn. FIGURES. 303

Hanc vulgo fpeciem proprise penuria vocis
Intulit, indi£tifque urgens in rebus egeflas.
Quippe ubi fe vera oftendebant nomina nufquam,
Fas erat hinc atque hinc transferre fimillima veris.

Poei. lib. 3. /. 90.

The beauties I have mentioned belong to every
figure of fpeech. Several other beauties peculiar
to one or other fort, I fhall have occaiion to re-
mark afterward.

Not only fubjedts, but qualities, adions, effeds,
may be exprefled figuratively. Thus, as to fub-
jecls, the gates of breath for the lips, the watery
kingdom for the ocean. As to qualities, j?^r^^
for ftormy, in the expreiTion Fierce winter : Altiis
for profundus ; Altus puteusy Altum mare : Breath-
ing ?ov perfpiring ; Breathing plants. Again, as to
adlions, The fea rages. Time will melt her frozen
thoughts. Time kills grief. An effed is put for
the caufe, as ludc for the fun \ and a caufe for the
effedl, as houm lahores for corn. The relation of
refemblance is one plentiful fource of figures of
fpeech ; and nothing is more common than to ap-
ply to one objeft the name of another that re-
fembles it in anyrefpedl: height, fize, and worldly
greatnefs, refemble not each other ; but the emo-
tions they produce referable each other, and
prompted by this refemblance, we naturally ex-
prefs worldly greatnefs by height or fize : one
feels a certain uneafinefs in feeing a great depth ;

U 4 and


and hence depth is made to exprefs anything dif-
agreeable by excefs, as depth of grief, depth of
defpair: again, height of place, and time longpaft,
produce limilar feehngs ; and, hence the expref-
lion, Ut altius repetam : dillance in pall time,
producing a ftrong feeling, is put for any llrong
feelmg. Nihil Tuihi antiquius nojira amicitia : fhort^
nefs with relation to fpace, for fhortnefs with rela-
tion to time, Brevii ejfe lahoro, obfcurusjio : fuffer-
ing a punifhment refembies paying a debt ; hence
pendere poenas. In the fame manner, light may be
put for glory, funlhine for profperity, and weight
for importance.

Many words, originally figurative, having, by
long and conftant ufe, loft their figurative power,
are degraded to the inferior rank of proper terms.
Thus the words that exprefs the operations of
the mind, have in all languages been originally fi-
gurative : the reafon holds in all, that when thefe
operations came firil under confideration, there
was no other way of defcribing them but by
what they refembled : it was not practicable to
give them proper names, as may be done to ob-
jects that can be afcevtained by fight and touch.
A foft nature, jarring tempers, weight of wo,
pampous phrafe, heget compaffion, ajfiiage grief,
break a vow, hend the eye downward, Jhower
down curfes, drowned in tears, wapt in joy,
wmni'd with eloquence, loaded with fpoils, and a
thoufand other expreffions of the like nature, have




loll their figurative fenfe. Some terms there are,
that cannot be faid to be either altogether figura-
tive or altogether proper : origmalij figurative,
they are tenaingto fimplicity, without having loft
altogether their figurative power. Virgil's Rc^gina
faucia cura^ is perhaps one of thefe expreffions :
with ordinary readers, faucia will be confidered
as exprefling fimply the efiedl of grief; but one
of a lively imagination will exalt the phral'e into
a figure.

For epitomifing this fubjed, and at the fame
time for giving a clear view of it, I cannot think
of a better method, than to prefent to the reader
a lifl:of the feveral relations upon which figures of
fpeech are commonly founded. This lift I divide
into two tables ; one of fubjeds exprefled figura-
tively, and one of attributes.


Subjects exprejjed figuratively.

I. A word proper to one fubjed; employed figu-
ratively to exprefs a refembling fubjed.


There is no figure of fpeech fo frequent, as
what is derived from the relation of refemblance.
Youth, for example, is fignified figuratively by
|;he morning of life. The life of a man refembles

3o6 ' FIGURES. Ch. XX;

a natural day in feveral particulars : the morning
is the beginning of day, youth the beginning of
life ; the morning is cheerful, fo is youth, &c.
By another refemblance, a bold warrior is termed
t\iQ tbu7iderbDlt oi v^dii ; a multitude of troubles,
2.fea of troubles.

This figure, above all others, affords pleafure
to, the mind by variety of beauties. Befide the
beauties above mentioned, common to all forts, it
poffeffes in particular the beauty of a metaphor or
of a limile : a figure of fpeech built upon refem-
blance, fuggefls always a comparifon between the
principal fubjed andtheacceffory ; whereby every
good effect of a metaphor or fimile, may in a
fliort and lively manner, be produced by this
figure of fpeech.

2. A word proper to the effedl employed figu-
ratively to exprefs the caufe.

Lux for the fun. Shadow for cloud. A hel-
met isfignified by the expreflion ^/zV^<?rzVz^ terror.
A tree by Jhadow or umbrage. Hence the ex-
preflion :

Nee habet Pelion umbras. Ovid.

Where the dim umbrage hangs. Spring , I. 1023.


Sea. VII. FIGURES. 307

A wound is made to lignify an arrow :

Vulnere non pedibus te confequar. Ovid.

There is a peculiar force and beauty in this
figure : the word which fignifies figuratively the
principal fiibjed:, denotes it to be a caufe by fiig-
gefting the effect.

3. A word proper to the caufe, employed figu-
ratively to exprefs the effeil.

Boumque labores, fi^r corn. Sorrow or griefs
for tears.

Again Ulyffes veil'd his penfive head ;
Again, unmann'd, a fliow'r oiforrow ihed.

Streaming Griefhis faded cheek bedew 'd.

Blindnefs for darknefs :

Csecis erramiis in undis. JEneid. ill. 200.

There is a peculiar energy in this figure, fimilar
to that in the former : the figurative name denotes
the fubjed to be an efFed, by fuggefting its caufe.

4. Two things being intimately connected, the
proper name of the one employed figuratively to
jSgnify the other.


3o8 FIGURES. Ch. XX.

Day for light. Night for darknefs ; and hence,
A fudden night. Winter for a ftorm at fea :

Interea magno mifceri murmure pontum,
Emiffamque Hyemem feniit Nep tonus.

JEneid. i. 128.

This lall figure would be too bold for a Britifh
writer, as a ftorm at fea is not infeparably con-
nefted with winter in this climate.

5. A word proper to an attribute, employed
figuratively to denote the fubject,

Touth and beauty for thofe who are young and
beautiful :

Youth and beauty fliall be laid in dufl.

Majejly for the King :

What art thou, that ufurp'fh this time of night.
Together with that fair and warlike form,
In which the Majejly of buried Denmark
Did fometime march ?

Haf?ilet, a£i l./c. 1.

. Or have ye chofen this place :

After the toils of battle, to repofe
Your weary'd virtue.

Faradtfe Lqfis^

Verdure for a green field. Summer , I. 301.



Speaking of cranes,

The pigmy nations wounds and death they bring,
And all the war defcends upon the wing.

' Iliad iii. 10.

Cool age advances venerably wife. Iliad iii. 149,

The peculiar beauty of this figure arifes from
fuggefting an attribute that embellifhes the fub-
jed, or puts it in a ftronger light.

6. A complex term employed figuratively to
denote one of the component parts.

Funm for a dead body. Burial for a grave.

7. The name of one of the component parts
inftead of the complex term.

Tisda for a marriage. The Eaft for a country
fituated eaft from us. Jovis vejligia fervat, for
imitating Jupiter in general.

8. A word fignifying time or place, employed
figuratively to denote what is connected with it.

Clime for a nation, or for a conftitution of go-
vernment : hence the expreffion Merciful clime.
Fleecy winter for fnow, Seculumfelix,

9. A


9. A part for the whole.

Ch. XX.

The Pole for the earth. The head for the per-
fon :

Triginta minas pro capite tuo dedi.
Tergum for the man :

Fugiens tergum.

Vultus for the man :

Jam fulgor armorum fagaces
Terret equos, equitumque vultus,

Quis defiderio lit pudor aut modus
Tam chari capitis .•="

Dumque virent genua \

Thy growing virtues juflify'd my cares,
And promis'd comfort to rayJUnjer hairs.





Iliad ix. 616.

— — Forthwith from the pool he rears

His mighty Jiature. Paradife Lojl, i

The iilent heart with grief aflails. ParnelL

The peculiar beauty of this figure confifts in mark-
ing that part which makes the greateft figure.

10. The name of the container, employed figu-
ratively to fignify what is contained,


Sea. VII. FIGURES. 311

Grove for the birds in it, Vocal grove. Ships
for the feamen, Agonizing Jhips. Mountains for
the fheep palturing upon them, Bleating moun^
tains. Zacynthus, Ithaca, &c. for the inhabitants.
Ex mcejlis domihus, Livy.

11. The name of the fullainer, employed figu-
ratively to fignify what is fuftained.

Altar for the facrifice. Field for the battle
fought upon it. Well-fought j^d*/^.

12. The name of the materials, employed figu-
ratively to fignify the things made of them.

Ferrum for gladius.

13. The names of the Heathen deities, em-

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