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count I am afterwards to give of them. Rhetoricians commonly divide them into two great claffes ; figures of words, and figures of thought. The former, figures of words, are commonly called tropes, and conlist in a word's being cmployed to fignify something that is different from its original and primitive meaning ; so that if you alter the word, you destroy the figure. Thus, in the instance I
gave before, Light ariseth to the upright in darkness ;" the trope consists in " light and darkness," being not meant literally, but fubstituted for comfort and adversity, on account of fome refemblance or analogy which they are supposed to bear to these conditions of life. The other class, termed figures of thought, fuppofes the words to be used in their proper and literal meaning, and the figure to consist in the turn of the thought; as is the case in exclamations, interrogations, apoftrophes, and comparisons ; where, though you vary the words that are used, or translate them from one language into another, you may, neverthelefs, still preserve the same figure in the thought. This distinction, however, is of no great use; as nothing can be built upon it in practice ; neither is it always very clear. It is of little importance, whether we give to some particular mode of expression the name of a trope, or of a figure ; provided we remember, that figurative language always imports fome colouring of the imagination, or fome emotion of passion, expressed in our style : and, perhaps, figures of imagination, and figures of passion, might be a more useful distribution of the fubject. But, without insisting on any artificial divisions, it will be more useful, that I enquire into the origin and nature of figures. Only, before I proceed to this, there are two general observations which it may be proper to premise.
The first is, concerning the use of rules with re-
spect to figurative language. I admit, that persons may both speak and write with propriety, who know not the names of any of the figures of speech,
nor ever studied any rules relating to them. Na4 ture, as was before observed, dictates the use of
figures ; and, like mons. Jourdain, in Moliere, who had spoken for forty years in prose, without ever knowing it, many a one uses metaphorical expreffions to good purpose, without any idea of what a metaphor is. It will not, however, follow thence, that rules are of no service. All science arises from observations on practice. Practice has always gone before method and rule ; but method and rule have afterwards improved and perfected practice, in
every art. We, every day, meet with persons who | fing agreeably, without knowing one note of the
gamut. Yet it has been found of importance to reduce these notes to a fcale, and to form an art of music; and it would be ridiculous to pretend, that the art is of no advantage, because the practice is founded in nature. Propriety and beauty of speech are certainly as improveable as the ear or the voice; and to know the principles of this beauty, or the reasons which render one figure, or one manner of speech, preferable to another, cannot fail to aflift and direct a proper choice.
But I must observe, in the next place, that, although this part of style merits attention, and is a very proper object of science and rule-although much of the beauty of composition depends on figurative language-yet we must beware of imagining that it depends solely, or even chiefly, upon such language. It is not fo. The great place which the doctrine of tropes and figures has occupied in systems of rhetoric—the over-anxious care which has been shown in giving names to a vast variety of them, and in ranging them under different classes-has often led persons to imagine, that, if their composition was well bespangled with a number of these ornaments of speech, it wanted no other beauty; whence has arisen much stiffness and affectation. For it is, in truth, the sentiment or passion, which lies under the figured expression, that gives it any merit. The figure is only the dress; the sentiment is the body and the substance. No figures will render a cold or an empty composition interesting ; whereas, if a sentiment be sublime or pathetic, it can support itself perfectly well, without any borrowed assistance. Hence several of the most affecting and
admired passages of the best authors, are expressed in the simplest language. The following sentiment from Virgil, for instance, makes its way at once to the heart, without the help of any figure whatever. He is describing an Argive, who falls in battle, in Italy, at a great distance from his native country :
Sternitur, infelis, alieno vulnere, cælumque
* " Anthares had from Argos travell'd far,
“ Alcides' friend, and brother of the war ;
“ He casts to heaven, on Argos thinks, and dies.”. In this translation, much of the beauty of the original is loft. “ On Argos thinks, and dies," is by no means equal to “ dul“ ces moriens reminiscitur Argos:” “ As he dies, he remein“bers his beloved Argos.”_It is indeed observable, that in most of those tender and pathetic paflages, which do so much honour to Virgil, that great poet exprefles himself with the utmost fimplicity; as,
Te, dulcis conjux, te folo in littore secum,
Te veniente die, te decedente canebat. GEORG. IV. And so in that moving prayer of Evander, upon his parting with his son Pallas :
At vos, O luperi ! et Divum tu maxime rector
A single stroke of this kind, drawn as by the very + pencil of nature, is worth a thousand figures. In
the same manner, the simple style of scripture :
Having premised these observations, I proceed to give an account of the origin and nature of figures ; principally of such as have their dependence on language; including that numerous tribe, which the rhetoricians call tropes.
At the first rise of language, men would begin with giving names to the different objects which they discerned, or thought of. This nomenclature would, at the beginning, be very narrow. According as mens's ideas multiplied, and their acquaintance with objects increased, their stock of
Et patrias audite preces. Si numina vestra
ÆN. VIII. 573,
names and words would increase also. But to the infinite variety of objects and ideas, no language is! adequate. No language is so copious, as to have a separate word for every separate idea. Men naturally fought to abridge this labour of multiplying words in infinitum ; and, in order to lay less burden on their memories, made one word, which they had already appropriated to a certain idea or object, stand also for some other idea or object ; between which and the primary one, they found, or fancied, some relation. Thus, the preposition, in, was originally invented to express the circumstance of place : “ The man was killed in the wood.” In progress of time, words were wanted to express men's being connected with certain conditions of fortune, or certain situations of mind; and some resemblance, or analogy, being fancied between these, and the place of bodies, the word, in, was employed to express men's being fo circumstanced ; as, one's being in health or in sickness, in prosperity or in adversity, in joy or in grief, in doubt, or in danger, or in safety. Here we see this preposition, in, plainly assuming a tropical signification, or carried off from its original meaning, to signify something else, which relates : to, or resembles it.
Tropes of this kind abound in all languages; and are plainly owing to the want of proper words. The operations of the mind and affections, in particular, are, in most languages, described by words taken from sensible objects. The reason is plain, The names of sensible objects were, in all languages, the words moft early introduced ; and were, by degrees, extended to those mental objects, of which men had more obscure conceptions, and to which they found it more difficult to assign distinct names. They borrowed, therefore, the name of fome fensible idea, where their imagination found