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Thy cargo brings; and peftilence the prize ;
Speaking of old age, he fays, it should
Walk thoughtful on the filent folemn fiore
The two first lines are uncommonly beautiful ; " walk thoughtful on the filent,” &c. but when he continues the metaphor, to“ putting good " works on board, and waiting the wind," it plainly becomes strained, and sinks in dignity. Of all the English authors, I know none so happy in his metaphors as mr. Addison. His imagination was neither so rich nor so strong as dr. Young's ; but far more chaste and delicate. Perfpicuity, natural grace, and ease, always distinguish his figures. They are neither harsh nor strained; they never appear to have been studied or fought after ; but seem to rise of their own accord from the subject, and constantly embellish it.
I have now treated fully of the metaphor, and the rules that should govern it, a part of style fo important, that it required particular illustration. I have only to add a few words concerning allegory:
An allegory may be regarded as a continued metaphor; as it is the representation of some one thing by another that resembles it, and that is made to stand for it. Thus, in Prior's Henry and Emma, Emma in the following allegorical manner describes her constancy to Henry :
Did I but purpose to embark with thee
And fortune's favour fills the fwelling fails :
We may take also from the scriptures a very fine example of an allegory, in the Both psalm ; where the people of Israel are represented under the image of a vine, and the figure is supported throughout with great correctness and beauty : “ Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt, thou " halt cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou
preparedít room before it, and didst cause it to " take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills * were covered with the shadow of it ; and the " boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. 4. She sent out her boughs into the sea, and her " branches into the river. Why haft thou broken 66 down her hedges, so that all they which pass " by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the « wood doth waste it ; and the wild beast of the " field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, « O God of hosts, look down from heaven, and be" hold, and visit this vine !” Here there is no circunstance (except perhaps one phrase at the beginning, " thou hast cast out the heathen,”) that does not strictly agree to a vine, whilst at the fame time, the whole quadrates happily with the Jewish state represented by this figure. This is the first and principal requisite in the conduct of an allegory, that the figurative and the literal meaning be not mixed inconsistently together. For instance, instead of describing the vine, as wasted by the boar from the wood, and devoured by the wild beast of the field, had the psalmist said, it was afflicted by heathens, or overcome by enemies (which is the real meaning,) this would have ruined the allegory, and produced the same confufion, of which I gave examples in metaphors, when the figurative and literal sense are mixed and jumbled together. Indeed, the same rules that were given for metaphors may also be applied to allegories, on account of the ai nity they bear to each other. The only material difference between them, besides the one being short, and the other being prolonged, is, that a metaphor always explains ittelf by the words that are connected with it in their proper and natural meaning ; as when I say, “ Achilles was a lion ;” an “able minif
ter is the pillar of the itate ;” my lion and niy pillar are sufficiently interpreted by the mention of Achilles and the minister, which I join to them ; but an allegory is, or may be, allowed to stand more disconnected with the literal meaning ; the interpretation not so directly pointed out, but left to our own reflexion.
Allegories were a favourite method of delivering instructions in ancient times ; for what we call fables or parables are no other than allegories; where, by words and actions attributed to beaits or inanimate objects, the dispositions of men are figured ; and what we call the moral, is the unfigured sense or meaning of the allegory. An ænigma or riddle is also a species of allegory; one thing represented or imaged by another ; but purposely wrapt up under so many circumstances, as to be rendered obfcure. Where a riddle is not intended, it is always a fault in allegory to be too dark. The meaning should be easily feen, through the figure employed to fiadow it. However, the proper mixture of light and shade in such compositions, the exact adjustment of all the figurative circumstances with the literal sense, so as neither t) lay the meaning too bare and open, nor to cover and wrap it up too much, has ever been found an afair of great nicety; and there are few species of composition in which it is more difficult to write so as to please and command attention, than in allegories. In some of the visions of the Spectator, we have examples of allegories very happily executed.
L E C T U R E XVI.
HE next figure, concerning which I am to
treat, is called hyperbole, or exaggeration. It consists in magnifying an object beyond its natural bounds. It may be considered sometimes as a trope, and sometimes as a figure of thought : and here indeed the distinction between these two classes begins not to be clear, nor is it of any importance that we should have recourse to metaphy, sical subtilties, in order to keep them distinct. Whether we call it trope or figure, it is plain that it is a mode of speech which hath some foundation in nature. For in all languages, even in common conversation,' hyperbolical expressions very frequently occur—as swift as the wind--as white as the snow-and the like : and our common forms of compliment are almost all of them extravagant hyperboles. If any thing be remarkably good or great in its kind, we are instantly ready to add to it fome exaggerating epithet ; and to make it the greatest or best we ever saw. The imagination has always a tendency to gratify itself, by magnifying its present object, and carrying it to excess. More or less of this hyperbolical turn will prevail in language, according to the liveliness of imagination among the people who speak it. Hence young people deal always much in hyperboles. Hence the language of the Orientals was far more hyperbolical than that of the Europeans, who are of more phlegmatic, or, if you please, of more correct imagination. Hence, among all writers in early times, and in the rude periods of society, we may expect this figure to abound. Greater experience, and more cultivated society, abate the warmth of iinagination, and chaften the manner of expression.
The exaggerated expressions, to which our ears are accustomed in conversation, scarcely strike us as hyperboles. In an instant we make the proper abatement, and understand them according to their just value. But when there is something strike ing and unusual in the form of a hyperbolical expression, it then rises into a figure of speech which draws our attention : and here it is necessary to observe, that unless the reader's imagination be in such a state as disposes it to rise and swell along with the hyperbolical expression, he is always hurt and offended by it. For a sort of disagreeable force is put upon him; he is required to strain and exert his fancy, when he feels no inclination to make any such effort. Hence the hyperbole is a figure of difficult management; and ought neither to be frequently used, nor long dwelt upon. On fome occasions, it is undoubtedly proper; being, as was before observed, the natural style of a sprightly and heated imagination ; but when hyperboles are unseasonable, or too frequent, they render a composition frigid and unaffe ting. They are the resource of an author of feeble imagination; of one, de