ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Comparisons, proverbial speeches, parables, and fables, may be easily converted the one into the other. Thus, “The miser is like the dog in the manger, who would neither eat the hay himself, nor suffer the hun. gry ox to cat it." This comparison may be converted into a fable as follows: “A dog was lying upon a manger full of hay. An ox, being hungry, came near, and offered to eat of the hay; but the envious, illnatured cur, getting up and snarling at him, would not suffer him to touch it. Upon which, the ox in the bitterness of his heart, exclaimed, A curse light on thee, for a malicious wretch, who will neither eat the hay thyself

, nor suffer others who are hungry to do it." A proverb may be extracted from this fable: “ The envious man distresses himself in the consideration of the prosperity of others.”

XLVI.

CHARADE.*

A charade is a syllabic enigma; that is, an enigma, the subject of which is a name or word, that is proposed for

to be guessed, is the letter H. The letter M is concealed in the following Latin enigma by an unknown author of very ancient date :

“Ego sum principium mundi et finis seculorum ;

Ego sum trinus et unus, et tamen non sum Deus.” The letter E is thus enigmatically described :

" The beginning

of eternity, The end of time and space, The beginning of every end,

And the end of every place." The celebrated riddle of the Sphinx, in classic story, was this: "What animal walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening?

The answer is Man, who, in infancy or the morning of life, walks or creeps on his hands and feet, at the noon of life he walks erect, and in the evening of his days, or in old age, supports his infirmities on a staff.

* Nearly allied to the enigma and charade are the rebus, the paronomasia or pun, and the “low conundrum.” [See Catachresis.). They are mere plays upon words, and are scarcely worthy of consideration among the departments of grave composition. The Rebus approaches, or rather is, in fact, picture writing, or a representation of words by things It is an enig matical representation of some name, by using figures or pictures instead of words. The word is from the Latin language, and literally signifies, by things. Thus a gallant in love with a woman named Rose Hill, painted on the border of his gown a rose, a hill, an eye, Cupid or Love, and a well, which leads Fose Hill I love well." On a monumental tablet in the

discovery from an enigmatical description of its several syl lables, taken separately, as so many individual words, and afterwards combined. A charade may be in prose or verse.

swer.

vicinity, erected for a family of the name of Vassol, there is the representatiou of a vase or cup (in Latin, vas), and the sun in Latin, sot), thus forming the name “ Vassol.” This is similar to one form of the hieroglyph ics of the ancient Egyptians.

The Paronomasia, or Pun, is a verbal allusion in consequence of words of similar sound, or of the same orthography, having different meanings ; or it is an expression in which two different applications of a word present an odd or ludicrous idea. It is generally esteemed a low species of wit. Thus, man having a tall wife named Experience observed that “ He had by long experience proved the blessings of à married life.” Another having undertaken to make a pun upon any given subject, when it was pro posed tnat he should make one on the King, replied, that “the King is not à subject. That Majesty, if stripped of its externals, would remain a jest..

Puns are sometimes expressed in verse, and appear among collections of Epigrams. (See Epigram.) For example,

"I cannot move,” yon clamorous beggar cries,

“Nor sit, nor stand;" if he says true, he lies. Again :

When dressed for the evening, the girls now-a-days
Scarce an atom of dress on them leave;
Nor blame them; for what is an evening dress

But a dress that is suited for Eve? Conundrums are the lowest species of verbal witticisms, and are in general a mere play upon the sounds of words, without reference to their signification. They are generally expressed in the form of a question, with an an.

Thus : When is a ship not a ship ? Answer. When it is a-ground, or when it is a-float. When is a door not a door ? Answer. When it is a-jar. What part of an animal is his elegy? Answer. His LEG. If you were in an upper chamber of a house on fire, and the stairs were a way, how would you get down? Answer. By the stairs. If a demon had lost his tail, where would he go to have it replaced ? Answer. To the place where they retail bad spirits. If a hungry man, on coming home to dinner, should find nothing but a beet on the table, what common exclamation would he utter? Answer. That beat's all.

Such plays upon the sounds of words, without reference to their signification, however they may amuse a vacant hour, or exercise the ingenuity of those to whom they are proposed, can be considered in no other light than as undignified, not to say childish diversions.

Of the same character may those witticisms be considered, commonly denominated jests and jokes. It would be futile to attempt specimens of either of these kinds of pleasantries. They are so various in their nature, that no specimens can be given, which would convey any thing like a clear idea of their general character. It may be sufficient to observe, in general, that the jest is directed at the object; the joke is practised with the person, or on the person. One attempts to make a thing laughable, or ridiculous, by jesting about it, or treating it in a jesting manner; one attempts to ex cite good humor in others, or indulge it in one's self by joking with them. Jests are therefore seldom harmless; jokes are frequently allowable. Noth, ing is more easy to be made, nor more contemptible when made, than a jest upon a serious or sacred subject. “ Ne lude cum sacris," is a maxin which cannot be too strongly impressed on every speaker and writer.

Examples.
My first, if you do, will increase,
My second will keep you from heaven,
My whole, such is human caprice,

Is seldomer taken than given.
Answer, advice.

What is that which God never sees, kings see but seldom, and which we see every day?

Answer, an equal.

XLVII.

1

HYPERBOLE.

A writer, under the influence of strong excitement, sometimes uses extravagant expressions, which he does not intend shall be taken literally. Such expressions are called hyperbole.

Example 1st.

A rescued land
Sent up a shout of victory from the field,
That rocked her ancient mountains.

Example 2d.

The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,
Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears.
And quench its fiery indignation,
Even in the matter of mine innocence.
Nay, after that, consume away in rust,
But for containing fire to harm mine eye.

Example 3d

I found her on the floor
In all the storm of grief, yet beautiful,

Pouring out tears at such a lavish rate,
That, were the world on fire, they might have drowned
The wrath of Heaven, and quenched the mighty ruin.

Example 4th.
There has not been a sound to-day,

To break the calm of nature,
Nor motion, I might almost say,

Of life, or living creature;-
Of waving bough, or warbling bird,

Or cattle faintly lowing ;'
I could have half believed I heard
The leaves and blossoms growing.

Example 5th. And there are many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written. — [St. John's Gospel, last verse.]

Hyperbole or Exaggeration is a remarkable feature of Eastern poetry. Mr. Moore, in his Lalla Rookh, has some extravagant instances, which may be pardoned in that work, written as it was in imitation of the Eastern style, but they should not be exhibited as objects of imitation. The following is one of the instances from Lalla Rookh:

“Yet, one relief this glance of former years
Brought, mingled with its pain, tears, floods of trars,
Long frozen at her heart, but now like rills
Let loose in Spring time from the snowy hills,
And gushing warm, after a sleep of frost,

Through valleys where their flow had long been lost.” Hyperbole ought to be very carefully as well as sparingly used; for it is requisite that the mind of the hearer, as well as that of the speaker, should be strongly excited, else it degenerates into Bombast. It is usually the flash of an overheated imagination, and is seldom consistent with the cold canons of criticism. - [See Booth's Principles, p. 138.]

* The reverse of Hyperbole or Exaggeration, is Liptotes or Diminution, which is a figure by which, in seeming to lessen, we increase the force of the expression. Thus, when we say, « The man is no focl," we are under stood to assert that he is wise. “I cannot praise such conduct," means that I despise it.

XLVIII.

APOSTROPHE.

Apostrophe is the turning off from the regular course of the subject, to address some person or thing, real or imagin ary, living or dead.

Apostrophe is generally used to address living objects that are absent, - or dead objects with which we were familiar while they were in life. Some of its boldest efforts, however, exhaust the essence of personification, and call up and address the inanimate objects of nature.

Apostrophes addressed to the imagination are frequently extended to a considerable length; while those addressed to the passions must be short to correspond with the frame of the mind in which they are made.

Example 1st

APOSTROPHE OF PASSION.

Oh pardon me, thou piece of bleeding earth.
That I am meek and gentle with thy batchers !
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of time.

Example 2d.

APOSTROPHE OF IMAGINATION.
() thou Parnassus! whom I now survey,

Not in the phrensy of ardreamer's eye,
Not in the fabled landscape of a lay,

But soaring, snow-clad, through thy native sky

In the wild pomp of mountain majesty!
What marvel that I thus essay to sing ?

The humblest of thy pilgrims, passing by,

Would gladly woo thine Echoes with his string, Though from thy heights no more one Muse shall wave her

wing.

* This Apostrophe is the production of Lord Byron, who has also presented another splendid example of the same kind, in his Apostrophe to the Ocean Our own Percival, in his Apostrophe to the Sun, affords another example, which would do honor to the literature of any age or nation.

« 前へ次へ »