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On the same principle of resemblance the Prosopopæia, or Personification, is also founded, when a character and person is assigned even to things inanimate or fictitious, (which is a bolder species of metaphor), or when a probable but fictitious speech is attributed to a real personage.
I mean, therefore, to treat of these figures in the order just now proposed ; not as supposing them the only figures made use of by the Hebrew poets,* but, in the first place,
are taken from sensible images, as fancy from phantasma ; idea in the original language means an image or picture; and a way has always been used to express the mode of attaining our end or desire.
There is, however, another reason for the use of metaphorical language: when the mind is agitated, the associations are more strongly felt, and the connected ideas will more readily present themselves than at another time. On this account, a man in a passion will frequently reject the words which simply express his thoughts, and, for the sake of giving them more force, will make use of images stronger, more lively, and more congenial to the tone of his mind.
The principal advantage which the metaphor possesses orer the simile or comparison, seems to consist in the former transporting the mind and carrying it nearer to the reality than the latter ; as when we say, “ Achilles rushed like a lion,” we have only the idea of a man going on furiously to battle; but when we say, instead of Achilles, “ The lion rushed on,” the idea is more animated. There is also more of brevity in a style that abounds in metaphors, than in a style which consists more of comparisons; and therefore it proves a better vehicle for the sublime.
The rule which good writers seem to have adopted respecting the use of similes or metaphors is this. Where the resemblance is very strong and obvious, it may be expressed by a simple metaphor, and it will in general be expressed more forcibly; but where the resemblance is not so obvious, it requires to be more expanded, and then a comparison or simile will neither appear formal nor pompous.
There is another observation concerning the use of these figures, which is more common, though I do not think the reason of it is generally understood. Comparisons are unnatural in extremes of passion, though metaphors are not. The truth is, the mind when strongly agitated readily catches at slight associations, and metaphors therefore are instantaneously formed ; but it is impossible that the mind should dwell upon them with the formality and exactness of a person making a comparison.-T.
* To the figures specified by our author, rhetoricians bave added innumerable others of less importance. The principal of these, and the most connected with poetry, are metonymy, periphrasis, apostrophe, and hyperbole.
In order to explain the nature and origin of these and the other tropes or figures, I must remind the reader that the associating principle is the true source of all figurative language. I must also remind him, that all ideas are associated or introduced into the mind by one of these three relations-contiguity in time and place, cause and effect, or resemblance. On the latter of these relations depend comparisons, metaphors, allegories, &c.; and on the other relations depend the metonymy, the periphrasis, the prosopopæia, and probably the apostrophe.
The word Metonymy evidently means a change of name, an adoption of some other mark to signify an idea, than that which was originally assigned it. This
because they chiefly come within the definition of the parabolic style; because, too, they most frequently occur in the sacred poetry, and constitute some of its greatest beauties; insomuch that their true force and energy is in no other compositions so apparent. I must add, that it will not be sufficient to illustrate them barely by producing a few examples, as if matters uncommon and abstruse were the object of our inquiry, and not such as spontaneously occur on almost every occasion : It will be necessary to proceed still further, if possible; it will be necessary to inquire whether there was any mode of using them peculiar to the Hebrews; the particular and interior elegancies of them are to be investigated : and to this object of our pursuit we shall not, I figure, therefore, is most frequently derived from the relation of cause and effect, and sometimes from that of contiguity: thus we substitute the cause for the effect, when we say “ We have read Pope,” for “the works of Pope;" and the effect for the cause, when we say “ The day arose,” for “ the sun arose." For further illustration I refer to Dr Priestley's Institutes of Oratory and Crilicism, p. 238. The Periphrasis is little else than a species of Metonymy, as “ the lover of Daphne,” for Apollo. For the connexion between the Metonymy and the Prosopopcia, see a note on the 13th Lecture. The Apostrophe is a more animated Prosopopæia, when the thing personified is spoken to in the second person, or a distant person or thing is addressed as present. A most beautiful and pathetic instance is that of Eve, Paradise Lost, B. ii. v. 269.
The Hyperbole is nothing more than an excess of figurative language, the effect of passion. All the passions are inclined to magnify the objects. Injuries seem greater than they really are to those who have received them; and dangers, to those who are in fear. The lover naturally makes a divinity of his mistress: valour and contempt are equally inclined to degrade and diminish. This figure, therefore, in particular, requires passion to give it force or propriety; and if this be not the case, it renders a style very bombastic and frigid. Lucan is too fond of this figure. See the first six lines of Rowe's Lucan, where “ The Sun
sicken'd to behold Emathia's plain,
And would have sought the backward East again." And in B. vi. v. 329.
« The missive arms fix'd all around he wears,
And even his safety in his wounds he bears,
Fenc'd with a fatal wood-a deadly grove of spears.' Nothing, indeed, can be more bombastic than the whole description of this warrior's death. The poet calls upon the Pompeians to lay siege to him as they would to a town; to bring battering engines, flames, racks, &c. to subdue him. He is first compared to an elephant, and again to a hunted boar; at length
when none were left him to repel,
Fainting for want of foes the victor fell." Some of the extravagance of the above may, however, be the fault of the translator, but how far I could not determine, as I have not the original by me; nor is it of any consequence to the English reader. -T.
apprehend, find any easier access, than by that track which the nature of the subject itself obviously indicates to us.
It is the peculiar design of the figurative style, taken in the sense in which I have explained it, to exhibit objects in a clearer or more striking, in a sublimer or more forcible
Since, therefore, whatever is employed with a view to the illustration and elevation of another subject, ought itself to be as familiar and obvious, at the same time as grand and magnificent as possible, it becomes necessary to adduce images from those objects with which both the writers and the persons they address are well acquainted, and which have been constantly esteemed of the highest dignity and importance. On the other hand, if the reader be accustomed to habits of life totally different from those of the author, and be conversant only with different objects; in that case, many descriptions and sentiments, which were clearly illustrated and magnificently expressed by the one, will appear to the other mean and obscure, harsh and unnatural: and this will be the case more or less, in proportion as they differ or are more remote from each other in time, situation, customs sacred or profane, in fine, in all the forms of public and private life. On this account difficulties must occur in the perusal of almost every work of literature, and particularly in poetry, where every thing is depicted and illustrated with the greatest variety and abundance of imagery: they must be still more numerous in such of the poets as are foreign and ancient; in the orientals above all foreigners, they being the farthest removed from our customs and manners; and of all the orientals, more especially in the Hebrews, theirs being confessedly the most ancient compositions extant. To all who apply themselves to the study of their poetry, for the reasons which I have enumerated, difficulties and inconveniencies must necessarily occur. Not only the antiquity of these writings forms a principal obstruction in many respects; but the manner of living, of speaking, of thinking, which prevailed in those times, will be found altogether different from our customs and habits. There is, therefore, great danger, lest, viewing them from an improper situation, and rashly estimating all things by our own standard, we form an erroneous judgment.
Of this kind of mistake we are to be always aware, and these inconveniencies are to be counteracted by all possible
diligence: nor is it enough to be acquainted with the language of this people, their manners, discipline, rites, and ceremonies; we must even investigate their inmost sentiments, the manner and connexion of their thoughts; in one word, we must see all things with their eyes, estimate all things by their opinions; we must endeavour as much as possible to read Hebrew as the Hebrews would have read it. We must act as the astronomers with regard to that branch of their science which is called comparative, who, in order to form a more perfect idea of the general system and its different parts, conceive themselves as passing through and surveying the whole universe, migrating from one planet to another, and becoming for a short time inhabitants of each. Thus they clearly contemplate, and accurately estimate, what each possesses peculiar to itself, with respect to situation, celerity, satellites, and its relation to the rest: thus they distinguish what and how different an appearance of the universe is exhibited, according to the different situations from which it is contemplated. In like manner, he who would perceive and feel the peculiar and interior elegancies of the Hebrew poetry, must imagine himself exactly situated as the persons for whom it was written, or even as the writers themselves : he must not attend to the ideas which, on a cursory reading, certain words would obtrude upon his mind; he is to feel them as a Hebrew hearing or delivering the same words, at the same time, and in the same country. As far as he is able to pursue this plan, so far he will comprehend their force and excellence. This, indeed, in many cases it will not be easy to do; in some it will be impossible; in all, however, it ought to be regarded, and in those passages particularly in which the figurative style is found to prevail.
In Metaphor, for instance, (and what I remark concerning it may be applied to all the rest of the figures, since they are all naturally allied to each other), two circumstances are to be especially regarded, on which its whole force and elegance will depend : first, that resemblance which is the groundwork of the figurative and parabolic style, and which will perhaps be sufficiently apparent even from a common and indistinct knowledge of the objects; and, secondly, the beauty or dignity of the idea which is substituted for another; and this is a circumstance of unusual nicety. An opinion of grace and dignity results frequently,
not so much from the objects themselves in which these qualities are supposed to exist, as from the disposition of the spectator; or from some slight and obscure relation or connexion which they have with some other things. Thus it sometimes happens, that the external form and lineaments may be sufficiently apparent, though the original and intrinsic beauty and elegance be totally erased by time.
For these reasons it will perhaps not be an useless undertaking, when we treat of the metaphors of the sacred poets, to enter more fully into the nature of their poetical imagery in general, of which the metaphor constitutes so principal a part. By this mode of proceeding we shall be enabled, not only to discern the general beauty and elegance of this figure in the Hebrew poetry, but the peculiar elegance which it frequently possesses, if we only consider how forcible it must have appeared to those for whom it was originally intended, and what a connexion and agreement these figurative expressions must have had with their circumstances, feelings, and opinions. Thus many expressions and allusions, which even now appear beautiful, must, when considered in this manner, shine with redoubled lustre; and many, which now strike the superficial reader as coarse, mean, or deformed, must appear graceful, elegant, and sublime.
The whole course of nature, this immense universe of į things, offers itself to human contemplation, and affords an infinite variety, a confused assemblage, a wilderness as it were of images, which, being collected as the materials of poetry, are selected and produced as occasion dictates. The mind of man is that mirror of Plato, * which, as he turns about at pleasure, and directs to a different point of view, he creates another sun, other stars, planets, animals, and even another self. In this shadow or image of himself, which man beholds when the mirror is turned inward towards himself, he is enabled in some degree to contemplate the souls of other men; for, from what he feels and perceives in himself, he forms conjectures concerning others; and apprehends and describes the manners, affections, conceptions of others from his own. Of this assemblage of images, which the human mind collects from all nature, and even from itself, that is, from its own emotions and operations, the least clear and evident are those which are explored by reason and argument; the more evident and distinct are those which are
De Rep. lib. x. sub init.