Imágenes de páginas

jt is compared, for otherwise we shall only pour "out an empty torrent of words, when we should be promoting the instruction, elevation, or entertainment of the mind. I grant indeed, that some small disagreement in some minuter circumstances may not destroy the beauty or strength of the Paralole; though by how much the greater the analogy, and the more exact the parallel in all and every particular, by so much the more striking and powerful may be the Comparison. There is none that occurs to my present thoughts, that affords a finer instance of exactness than the following simile in Milton, which we have already cited, though for another purpose. The Poet, speaking of the fallen angels, lays,

. Yet faithful how they stood,

Their glory wither'd: as when Heaven's fire
Hath scathM the forest-oaks or mountain-pines,
With singed top their stately growth, tho' bare,
Stands on the blasted heath — *

« This is a very beautiful and close simile; « it represents the majestic stature and withered f' g^0I7 °f ?he angels; and the last with great « propriety, since their lustre was impaired by « thunder, as well as that of the trees; and be«' sides, the blasted heath gives us some idea of *' that singed burning soil, on which the an<f gels were standing. Homer and Virgil fre*' quently use Comparisons from trees, to ex


* Paradise Lost, booki. line 611.

f* press the stature or falling of an hero; but w none of them are applied with such variety "and propriety of -circumstances as this of "Milton *."

■ But yet, at the fame time that we are pleading for a close analogy and resemblance in our Comparisons, it is allowed that our Comparisons may sometimes have an agreement only in one point of view, and not in another, and yet be good and just Comparisons. If I fay, a Poet ftiounts as on a wing of fire, it is no' bad simile; though the genius of the Poet, and the ardor of the fire, and not its destructive nature, are only to be considered in the Parabole. And if our Lord fays, that he will come upon the church at Sardis as a thief -f, it is not a faulty Comparison, though the surprise of the thief, and no; his intention is designed in the simile. "It is "not necessary, fays Cicero, that there should ** be a perfect resemblance of one thing in all "respects to another; but it is necessary that a « thing should bear a likeness to that to which "it is compared %."

3. Though we mould always take great care

that our similies be clear and obvious, let us

sometimes endeavour to derive our similies from

G g 4 something

* See an EJsay upon Jviilton's Imitations of the Ancients, page 24. + &ev- >>i. 3

J Non enira res tota toti rei necesse est similis fit, fed ad i|sum, ad quod conferetur, similitudinem habeat, opprtet. Cicer. ad Heren. lib. iv. n. 48.

something uncommon f, or from something, ■ which, though common, yet may not have been usually applied to the purpose for which we employ it.

Our Jimilies may be taken from something un* common. An* instance of this kind we may perhaps find in the following Comparison. An Orator, speaking of an Author, illustrates the peculiar elegance which distinguishes his performances by the following Comparison. "What"ever was the subject he undertook, and there "was none to which his ready genius could not "apply itself, he illuminated it with I know "not what light, peculiar to himself, not un"like that golden ray of Titian, which, shin"ing through his whole tablet, avouches it for "his own J."

And again; our similies may be taken from something common, but which may not have been before applied to the purpose for which we employ it. As an example of this fort, we may view the Comparison at the conclusion of the following passage. "The meanest mechanic, "who employs his love and gratitude, the best


f Kara quo quæque (se. similitude)) longius petita est, hoc plus assert novitatis, atque inexpecta;a magis est. Quintil. lib. viii cap 3. § 5.

J la quodcunque opus se parabat (Se peromnia fare ver. satile illius seduxit ingenium) neseio qua luce sibi soli propria, id illuminavit; haud dissimili ei aureo Titiani radio, qui per totam tabulam gliseens earn vere seam denunciat. Melmoth's Letters, vol. ii. p. 30.

** of his affections upon God, the best of be** ings•, who has a particular regard and esteem "for the virtuous few, compassion for the dif"tressed, and a fixed and extensive good-will "for all •, who, instead of triumphing over his "enemies, strives to subdue his greatest ene"my of all, his unruly passion; who promotes "a good understanding between neighbours, "composes and adjusts differences, does justice "to an injured character, and acts of charity to "distressed worth •, who cherishes his friends, "forgives his enemies, and even serves them "in any pressing exigency; who abhors vice, "and pities the vicious person: such a man, "however low in station, has juster pretensions "to the title of heroism, as heroism implies a "certain nobleness and elevation of soul, break"ing forth into correspondent actions, than he "who conquers armies, or makes the most. ** glaring figure in the eye of an injudicious ** world. He is like one of the fixed stars, "which though, through the disadvantage of ■*' its situation, it may be thought to be very «* little, inconsiderable, and obscure by unskil"ful beholders, yet is as truly great and glo^"rious in itself as those heavenly lights, which, "by being placed more commodiously to cur "view, shine with more distinguished lustre *." In the same class of Comparisons let me also place the simile which closes the following verses.


Sbed's Discourses, vol. i. p. 12.

"through. A meteor that is exhaled from the ** earth by a foreign force, though it may mount "high in appearance, and brave it in a blaze, "enough to be envied by the poor twinkling "stars, and to be admired by ordinary specta*' tors, yet its fate is to fall down, and shame*' fully confess its base original. That religion, "which men put on for a cloke, will wear out "and drop into rags, if it be not presently "thrown by as a garment out of fashion Would there not have been a sufficiency of Paraboles without the addition of the last, and, I might add, is it not evidently of an inferior texture to the former? Which leads me,

5. To observe that our Comparisons should ascend in a Climax. Let us not begin high, and sink low; but rather let us begin low, and rife high, if we choose to employ two or more Paraboles at the same time. Horace says,

It grieves me Homer's muse should sometimes nod f.

And is not the following passage an incontestible proof of it, as there is evidently an AntiClimax in the succession of similies?" Among the Chiefs was King Agamemnon, in his


* Shaw's Immanuel, or Disco-very of Religion, as it irr.porti a living Principle in the Minds of Men; a treatile remarkable for genius and piety, and one of the finelt pieces on the subject that perhaps was ever written.

f Indignor, quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.

De Art. Poet, ver 359,

« AnteriorContinuar »