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all; called a roundabout expression ;' which explanation 10 itself an example of the figure, because it denotes in three words what periphrase, periphrasis, or circumlocution does in one.
The definitions of words, as they appear in dictionaries, are periphrases. Such circumlocutions are frequently useful, especially in poetry; and are often necessary in translations from foreign languages, when we can find no word in our own, exactly equivalent to that which we have to translate.
Periphrase* is frequentiy usefui to avoid a repetition of the same word dut periphrases of every kind require careful management; because, per: haps, more than any other figure of speech, they are apt to run into bombast.
Under the head of periphrases may be included the figures Euphemism and Antonomasia.
Words, or phrases that call up disagreeable ideas are, in po lite language, softened by means of circumlocutions. In these changes, as well as in most others, custom is the guide. It is reckoned more decorous, for example, to the memory of the departed, to say that “he perished on the scaffold,” than that “ he was hanged.” Such softened expression is called euphemism ; a Greek word signifying a kind speech.
Antonomasia is a term applied to that form of expression in which a proper name is put for a common, or a common name for a proper; or, when the title, office, dignity, profession, science, or trade, is used instead of the true name of a person. Thụs, when we apply to Christ the term, “ the Savior of the world,” or “the Redeemer of mankind; or to Washington, the term, “the Father of his country; or when we say His Excellency, instead of the governor, His Honor, instead of the judge; or, His Majesty, instead of the king, the expression is called Antonomasia. So, also, when a glutton is called a Heliogabalus (from the Roman emperor distinguished for that vice,) or a tyrant is called a Nero, we have other instances of the same form of expression.
* Periphrase, as defined by Webster, is “ The use of more words than are necessary to express the idea; as á figure of rhetoric, it is employed to avoid a common or trite manner of expression."
† Bombast is a kind of expression by which a serious attempt is made to raiso a low or familiar subject above its rank, thereby never failing to make it ridiculous. Bathos is the reverse of bombast, and consists in degrading a subject by too low expressions. Both of these modes of writin, equalli excite the risible faculties of the reader.
Again, when we call Geography, “ that science which de. scribes the earth and its inhabitants,” or Arithmetic is termed s the science of numbers,” the antonomasia becomes apparent It will thus be seen, that this form of expression is frequently nothing more than an instance of periphrasis, or circumlocution.
This form of expression is very common in parliamentary language and in deliberative assemblies, in which, in speaking of individual persons: they are not called by their proper names, but by their office, or some other designating appellation.* Thus, in speaking of Washington, the orator designates him, by antonomasia, as “ the sage of Mount Vernon," or of Shakspeare, as “the bard of Avon,” from the river on whose bank. he resided.
Amplification is the expansion of a subject, by enumerating circumstances which are intended by an orator to excite more strongly in his audience the feelings of approbation or of blame. It is dwelling upon the subject longer than is actually necessary for its enunciation; and is in so far a species of circumlocution.f
* It is contrary to the rules of all parliamentary assemblies, to call any member by his proper name. Each individual is called by the name of the state, town, city, county, or ward, which he represents. Thus, we say, the gentleman from Massachusetts,”"" the member irom Virginia,” “the mcmber from Ward 10,” &c.; or, from his position, “the gentleman on my night," or, “the gentleman who last spoke," &c.
The antonomasia is a figure frequently used by the most distinguished historical writers, and especially by Mr. bbon, the historian of the “De cline and Fall of the Roman Empire."
† The following passage is quoted by Mr. Booth from Scriblerus," the perusal of the whole of which admirable satire,” says Mr. Booth, "is indispensable to every one who would study the principles of English Compo sition :"
“We may define amplification to be making the most of a thought; it is the spinning-wheel of the Bathos, which draws out and spreads it in its finest thread. There are amplifiers who can extend half a dozen thin thoughts over a whole folio; but for which, the tale of many a vast romance, and the substance of many a fair volume, might be reduced into the size of a primer.
“ A passage in the 104th Psalm, 'He looks on the earth and it trembles, ha touches the hills and they smoke,' is thus amplified by the same author:
• The hills forget they 're fixed, and in their fright
And leave the heavy panting hills behind.'" You here see the hills, not only trembling, but shaking off the woods from their backs, to run the faster; after this, you are presented with a foot race of mountains and woods, where the woods distance the mountains, that, like corpulent, pursy fellows, come puffing and panting a vast way holund them.
Examples of Periphrasis.
Grammar The science which teaches the proper vsa
of language. Woman. The gentle sex; or, the female sex Arithmetic. The science of numbers. To disappoint. To frustrate one's hopes. The skies. The upper deep. Zoology. That department of natural science whicks
treats of the habits of animals.
Examples of Euphemism.
James worked so hard that he James worked so hard that he sweat very profusely.
perspired very freely; or the perspiration stood on
him in drops. l'he room smells badly. There is an unpleasant efflu
via in the room. Mary is a great slut.
Mary is inattentive to her per
sonal appearance; or, is careless in her personal
habits. He is a very dirty fellow. He is destitute of neatness. You lie.
You labor under a mistake.*
Examples of Antonomasia.
* No word of Holy Writ has in it a better turn of worldly wisdom than that from the Book of Proverbs :- “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” The “soft answer" is, in fact, a euphemism. No one is offended who is told that “he labors under a mistake," while, perhaps, no accusation would give greater offence, than the same dea, expressed as above insostened by euphemism
The King of France.
the United States.)
The Literary Emporium.
the British Metropolis.
The following sentences present examples of Periphrasis, * Euphemism and Antonomasia, and it is required of the student to designate each.
Solomon, (the wisest of men,) says, “Better is a dinner of herbs, wheru love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”
David (The Author of the Psalms) was one of the sweetest and most pious writers of the Old Testament.
Moses (The Jewish Lawgiver) was educated by the daughter of Pharaoke Saul (The first king of Israel) was a man of uncommon stature.
Methuselah (He who lived to the greatest age recorded of man) died before his father. f
Adam Smith (The author of the Wealth of Nations) says that there is in man a natural propensity to track, barter and exchange one thing for another.
It is pleasant to relieve (be the instrument of relieving) distress.
Short and (The transient day of ) sinful indulgence is followed by long and distressing (a dark and tempestuous night of ) sorrow.
Christ (He who spake as never man spoke) says, in his sermon on the mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
* The judicious use of periphrasis or circumlocution, often involves an ac. quaintance with figurative language, under which head it properly belongs. It is taken from that connexion in order to be applied in other exercises which precede the subject of figures.
+ His father was Eno h, who never died, but was translated.
He thought the man a scoundrel (dishonest) and therefore would not pay him the money (would place no confidence in him.)
He behaved like a boor (in an improper manner) and therefore the gen. teel (persons of refinement) would have nothing to do wich him.
I consider him an impudent puppy (rude in his manners) and shall therefore separate myself from his company.
The man was drunk (intoxicated, or had indulged in liquor) when he ased these indecent words (that improper language) and although I was very mad (was displeased) with him, I did not scold at (repmove) him.
Major Andre was hanged (perished on the scaffold) although he earnestly requested that he might be fired at (shot.)
That man eats his victuals like a pig (is unrefined in his manners at the table) and guzzles down his drink like a fish (and is too fond of his cup.)
He has on dirty stockings (His hose are not neat) and muddy shoes (his shoes are soiled.)
A truly genteel man (A man of refinement) is known as well by his talk (conversation) as by his clothes (dress.) He never uses low language and vulgar expressions (indulges in loose conversation.) His hands and face and his whole body are well washed, he cleans his teeth, combs his hair, (His whole person is kept neat and cleanly,) and brushes his clothes whenever they are dirty, (his dress never appears to be soiled,) and he always looks well, as if he were going to a party, (and he always looks prepared for the drawingroom.)
Of the oldest of the English Poets, (Chaucer) as he is the father of English poetry, so I hold him in the same degree of veneration as the Greeks hold Homer (the author of the lliad and Odyssey) or the Romans, hold Virgil (the author of the Æneid.) He is a perpetual fountain of good sense ; learned in all sciences; and therefore he speaks properly on all subjects. As he knew what to say, so also he knows where to leave off; a continence which is practised by few writers, and scarcely by any of the ancients, excepting the authors of the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Æneid.
The author of the Essay on the Understanding (Mr. Locke) has advanced the opinion that moral subjects are as susceptible of demonstration as mathematical.
The Bard of Avon (Shakspeare) was one of the most remarkable men that the world ever produced, (that ever appeared in the ranks of humanity.). It may truly be said of him that he touched nothing which he did not adorn; and that he has strewed more pearls in the paths of literature than any other poet that the world has seen. His works have had more admirers than those of any other author excepting the writers of the holy Scriptures.
The science which treats of language, (Granmar) and the science wluch describes the earth and its inhabitants, (Geography) are branches frequent ly studied, but too frequently imperfectly understood.
The anthor of the Waverley novels (Sir Walter Scott) must have been a Irun of remarkable industry, as well as of uncominon talent.