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Uncommon edge, and that cut remarkably deepi bear the same name, though upon examination they' will appear not to be Ironies, but plain expressions. Thus Pyrrhus the son of Achilles, when Priam reproached him with cruelty, and put him in mind of* his father's contrary con* duct, insults him in the following Sarcasm:
Thou then (halt bear the tidings, and shalt gO
§ 6,. Ironies and Sarcasms have a great advantage in them to infuse strength and vehemence' into our discourses, and may be very serviceable to. correct vice and hypocrisy, and dash pride and insolence out of countenance. They add ridicule to dislike, and set up an infamous character as the butt of contempt, than which there is nothing that can wound with sorer mortification and a keener anguish. Perhaps these Tropes are never used with greater advantage, than when they are followed with something very severe and cutting in plain and clear language, by which a vile and detestable character is thrown as it were from one rack of torture to another. An example of this sort we may find .;..,.. G in
• Cui Pyrrhus; reseres ergo hæc, & niintius ibis Pelidæ genitori illi mea. fristia facta, Degeneremque Neoptolerhiim narrare memento. • .' •f* .' ■ •"- "ViUtJiL. Æneid. lib. sl. ver. 547* in Cicero, when speaking of Piso, he fays*, "You have heard this Philosopher. He de"nies that he was ever desirous of a triumph: "O wretch! O plague! O scoundrel! when "you destroyed the Senate, sold its authority* "subjected your Consulate *to the Tribune, over"turned the State, betrayed my life and safety "for the reward of a province* if you did not "desire a triumph, what can you pretend you « did desire f?"
§ 7. Let us take heed upon whom and upon what occasions we employ the Irony or Sarcasm; ever dreading scattering abroad arrows, firebrands and death, and excusing ourselves with saying, that we are only in sport. A cruel satire, though it passed from our lips rather for the fake of wit, than out of a principle of illnature, may make such a wound upon a tender and innocent mind, as even whole years or life itself may never be able to heal. Let us in our wit and satire imitate the true Hero, who, though he always wears a sword, yet never uses it but upon a proper occasion.
f At audistis, Patres Conscripti, Philosophl vocerti, negavit fe triumphi cupidum unquam sccisse. O scelus ! O pestis f O labes! cum extinguebas senatum, vendebas auctoritatem hojus ordinis, addicebas tribuno plebis consulatum tuum, rempublicam evertebas, prodebas caput & salutem meam una mercede provinciæ, si triumphum non cupiebas, cojus tandem rei te cu» piditate arsisse defendes? Cicbr. in Piion. J 24.
Teach me to seel another's wo,
To hide the fault I fee,
That mercy (how to me;
are lines that I have somewhere met with in Mr Pope, however little they may be exemplified in his Dunciad.
§ 8, If I might venture to give my opinion of the true ground of an Irony, I lhould ascribe it to the power of contrast We have for our subject a foolish or bad characterin order the more effectually to expose it, we call up by our expressions the idea of a character that is wife or worthy. These two characters are matched together, like a coarse daubing and curious picture exhibited in one view: the curious picture grows brighter and more beautiful by being placed by a bad neighbour, and the coarse daubing looks meaner and baser by the contiguous lustre of its noble companion. The plumes of the raven never appear with so deep a jet, as when he is walking over a track of unsullied snow.
§. I. An Hyperbole, its definition. § z. Hyperboles of two kinds: (i) That which increases hey and the truth; (2) That which falls below the truth. § 3. Various ways by which an Hyperbole is expressed: (1) In plain and diretl terms; (2) By similitude; (3) By a strong Metaphor. § 4. Various remarks upon an Hyperbole. § 5. How an Hyperbole may be softened. § 6. If two or more Hyperboles in a sentence, they are to strengthen one another.
§ 1. AN Hyperbole * is a Trope, that in its xJL representation of thing3 either magnifies or diminishes beyond or below the line of strict truth, or to a degree that is disproportioned to the real nature of the subject.
§ 2. This Trope is branched into two kinds. (1) That kind of Hyperbole which increases beyond the truth. Such are the expressions, whiter than snow, blacker than a raven, swifter than the
* From vwi^QaMu, I exceed.
wind, and the like. Thus Yirgil describes the Giant Polypheme,
He walks sublime, and tow'rs among the stars *.
On either fide two rocks enormous rife,
In Deut. ix. i. 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. 2 6. mariners in a storm are said to mount up, that is? upon the waves, to heaven. '•' ■ '•)
(2) The other fort of Hyperbole falls below the truth. Thus we speak of moving flower than a snail, of being as deaf as a rock, as blind as a mole, and of being wasted to a skeleton. \$am. xxiv. 14. JI After whom, says David to Saul, is a the king of Israel come out? after whom dost 5! thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea?" So Job xxv. 6. man is called a worm. And Isaiah xl. 17^ "All nations before God are as nothing; h and they are counted to him as less than no"thing/*" And Psalm lxii. 9. " Surely men of "low degree are vanity, and men of high degree "are a lie : to be laid in the balance, they are al0 together lighter than vanity."
G 3 § 3
* —— Ipse arduus altaque pulsat
Sidera Æneii. Hi. ver. 619.
,\ Hinc atque hinc vastæ rupes, geminique minantur In cœlura scopuli. — Virgil. Æneid. lib. i. ver. 166.