Imágenes de páginas

be considered as a comparison (by a comparison understanding a Figure in rhetoric) or at least is distinguishable from it, as it drops the sign, of comparison. "A Metaphor, fays Quintilian, "is shorter than a comparison, and differs from *' it in this particular, that the one is compared "to the thing we design to express, and the '*' other is put for it It is a comparison, when "I fay of a man that he acted like a lion, and a "metaphor, when I fay he is a lion V

§ 4. In every comparison three things are requisite, two things that are compared together, and a third in which the similitude or resemblance between them consists. To keep to the example of Quintilian, if we fay of a soldier that he acts like a lion, or that he is a lion, the fense is plainly this, that as a lion opposes his enemy with an undaunted firmness, so the soldier fights with a like invincible bravery. Here are three ideas, a soldier, a lion, and the likeness between them. We may add farther from the example,

'that it is evident, according to what we just now observed, that the real difference between a Metaphor and a Comparison lies in this, that a Metaphor has not the signs of comparison which

'are expressed in that figure of rhetoric, which 1S

C 4 palled

* In totum autem Metaphora brevior est quatn similitudo; eoque distat quod ilia comparatur rei quam volumus expri* jnere; base pro ipsa re dicitur. Comparatio est. «r* dico fecisse quid Hominem ut Leonem ;. translatio, cum..,dice -d* Jipjriiiie Leo est. Quintii.. lib. viii. cap. 6. § 1. . ._

called a Comparison: or, as Cicero fays, « a *< Metaphor is a Comparison reduced to a single ** Word *"

§ 5. If we were to inquire which of the two is %d be preferred, the Metaphor or the Comparison, Mr Melmoth, with his usual elegancy, Would answer us. "I prefer, fays he, the Me

taphor to the Simile, as a far more pleasing tc method of illustration. In the former, the

"action of the mind is less languid, as it is em- t

** ployed at one and the fame instant in compar- <

* ing the resemblance with the idea it attends j 1

I* whereas in the latter, its operations are more 1

*' slow, being obliged to stand still as it were, in i

"order to contemplate first the principal object, u

«' and then its corresponding image f" t


§ 6. Instances of Metaphors from Scripture «

might be produced in vast variety. Thus our t

blessed Lord is called a vine, a lamb, a lion, &c. J

Thus men, according to their different disposi-?

tions, are stiled wolves, sheep, dogs, serpents, &c. And indeed Metaphors not only abound in the sacred Writings, but they overspread all language •, and the more carefully we examine Authors, not only Poets but Philosophers, the more Jhall we discover their free and large use of Me

[ocr errors][graphic]

taphors, taken frorn the arts and sciences, the customs of mankind, and the Unlimited fields of nature.

§ ?. It may not be amiss to recollect what high and superlative encomiums have been bestowed by some of the greatest Authors tipon. Metaphors, and for what seasons. Cicero fitys, '* that amidst the greatest riches of language. u men are more especially Charmed with Meta'*' phorS, If they are conducted with a happy "judgment." He resolves this *' pleasure into "the display we hereby make of our own genius, "in that we pass over what is common, t6 ac"quire what is new and foreign -, or to the na"ture of the Metaphor, in that it raises hew ** ideas, and yet does not lead off out mind's "from our subject •, or because every Metaphor « is addressed to the fenses, and especially to "the sight, which is the keenest of them all fj" As an echo to this great Writer of antiquity, a celebrated Modern fays, " that the pleasured of '" the imagination are not wholly confined to

** such

f In suorum vcrborum maxima copia, tamcn homine» aliena multo magis, fi sunt ratione tranflata, delectant. Id accidere credo, vel quod ingenii specimen est quoddam, transilife ante pedes pofita, & alia longfc repetita siimere; Vel quod is qui audit, alio ducitur cogitatione. Deque tamen aberrat; qua; maxima est delectatio; vel quod singulis verbis res, ac totum simile conficitur; ve! quodomnis tranflatioquæ^uidem sumta ratione est, ad sensus ipsos admovetur, maxima ocuLorura qui etl actrrimtis. C'c£r. dethat. lib.iii. § 40.

"such particular authors as are conversant in "material objects, but are often to be metwidi .** among the polite masters of Morality, Criti"cisin, and other speculations abstracted from "matter, who, though they do not directly treat ** of the visible parts of nature, often draw from ,** them their Similitudes, Metaphors, and Alle"gories. By these allusions, a truth in the un"derstanding is as it were reflected by the ima"gination; we are able to fee something like "colour and shape in a notion, and discover a *' scheme of thoughts traced out upon matter. "And here the mind receives a great deal of sa"tisfaction, and has two of its faculties grati

. " fied at the fame time, while the fancy is co

.." pying after the understanding, and transcrib"ing ideas out of the intellectual world into die

.." material. Allegories, when well chosen, are ** like so many tracks of light in a discourse, that "make every thing about them clear and beau"tiful. A noble Metaphor, when it is placed

- " to advantage, casts a kind of glory round it, "and darts a lustre, dirough an whole scn*« tence *."

Longinus shews, "that Tropical expressions « contain a grandeur in their own nature, and *' that Metaphors constitute the sublime, and are "more especially adapted to enliven pathetic, •** and ennoble descriptive compositions -f\"

••__ •; Ifliall

Spefiator, Vol. vi. N" 421.

I shall only add, that the very sensible and ingenious Monsieur Rollin fays, "That the Me"taphor gives most ornament, strength, and "grandeur to a discourse. The most exquisite "expressions are generally metaphorical, and "derive all their merit from this figure. .It in"riches a language in some measure with an in"finity of expressions, by substituting the sigu"rative in the room of the simple and plain: it "throws a great variety into the stile: it raises "and aggrandises the most minute and common *l things z it gives us a great pleasure by the in"genious boldness with which it strikes out in "quest of expressions, instead of the natural ** ones which are near at hand: it deceives the "mind agreeably, by shewing it one thing, and "meaning another. In fine, it gives a body, "if we may so fay, to the things that are spiri*« tual, and makes them almost the objects of "hearing and sight, by the sensible images it "«* delineates to the imagination V

Thus we find that the celebrated Writers of ancient and modern times unite in the highest praises of Metaphors: and indeed whoever duly considers their nature, must confess, that of all the flowers that embellish the regions of Eloquence, there is none that rises to such an eminence, that bears so rich and beautiful a blossom,

T£oirix«i. ««i o>{ u4")Xoiroio> xi /xtTapo^ai, xai on 01 •srafliiT««» K«» ^œrixo' *«* To œr%fire>; ;£oMft>c» Ttrrci. .longIn. dt Sublimitate, § 32.

9 RoniN on the BellesLettrei, Vol. ii. p, 142.

« AnteriorContinuar »