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presents only a vulgar idea ; but it rises and fills the imagination, when painted thus by Horace :
Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede, pauperum tabernas
Omnes eodem cogimur ; omnium,
Exilium impofitura cymbz*. In the third place, figures give us the pleasure of enjoying two objects presented together to our view, without confusion; the principal idea, which is the subject of the discourse, along with its acceffory, which gives it the figurative dress. We fee one thing in another, as Aristotle expresses it ; which is always agreeable to the mind. For there is nothing with which the fancy is more delighted, than with comparisons, and resemblances of objects ; and all tropes are founded upon some relation or analogy between one thing and another. When, for instance, in place of"" youth,” I say, the “ morning of life," the fancy is immediately entertained with all the resembling circumstances which presently occur between these two objects. At one moment, I have in my eye a certain period of human life, and a certain time of the day, so related to each other, that the imagination plays between them with pleasure, and contemplates two similar objects, in one view, without embarrasrment or confusion. Not only so, but,
In the fourth place, figures are attended with this farther advantage, of giving us frequently a much * With equal pace, impartial fate
Knocks at the palace, as the cottage gate. Or,
We all must tread the paths of fate ;
And ever shakes the mortal urn :
On Charon's boat : ah ! never to return. FRANCIS.
clearer and more striking view of the principal object, than we could have, if it were exprefed in simple terms, and divested of its accesory idea. This is, indeed, their principal advantage, in virtue of which, they are very properly laid to illut trate a subject, or to throw light upon it. For they exhibit the object, on which they are employed, in a picturesque form ; they can render an abstract conception, in some degree, an object of sense ; they surround it with such circumitances, as enable the mind to lay hold of it steadily, and to contemplate it fully. “Those persons,” says one, “ who gain the hearts of most people, who are “ cholen as the companions of their softer hours, " and their reliefs from anxiety and care, are sel“ dom persons of shining qualities, or strong vir“tues : it is rather the loft green of the soul, on " which we reit our eyes, that are fatigued with “ beholding more glaring obje&ts.” Here, by a happy allusion to a colour, the whole conception is conveyed clear and strong to the mind in one word. By a well-chosen figure, éven conviction is ailisted, and the impression of a truth upon the mind, made more lively and forcible than it would otherwise be. As in the following illustration of dr. Young's : “When we dip too deep in pleasure, “ we always stir a sediment that renders it impure " and noxious ;" or in this, “ a heart boiling with " violent pallions, will always send up infatuating 66 fumes to the head." An image that presents so much congruity between a moral and a sensible idea, serves like an argument from analogy, to enforce what the author asserts, and to induce belief.
Besides, whether we are endeavouring to raise sentiments of pleasure or aversion, we can always heighten the emotion by the figures which we introduce ; leading the imagination to a train, either of agreeable or disagreeable, of exalting or debasing ideas, correspondent to the impreslion which we seek to make. When we want to render an object beautiful, or magnificent, we borrow images from all the most beautiful or splendid scenes of nature ; we thereby naturally throw a lustre over our object ; we enliven the reader's mind, and dispose him to go along with us, in the gay and plealing impressions which we give him of the subject. This effect of igures is happily touched in the follow, ing lines of dr. Akenlide, and illustrated by a very Lublime figure :
- Then the inexpreffive strain
Pleaf. of imaginat. I, 124.
What I have now explained, concerning the use and effects of figures, naturally leads us to reflect on the wonderful power of language ; and, indeed, we cannot reflect on it without the highest admiram tion. What a fine vehicle is it now become for all the conceptions of the human mind; even for the most fubtile and delicate workings of the imagination ! What a pliant and flexible instrument in the hand of one who can employ it skilfully ; prepared to take every form which he chooses o give it ! Not content with a simple communication of ideas and thoughts, it paints those ideas to the eye ; it gives colouring and relievo, even to the most abstract conceptions. In the figures which it uses, it sets mirrors before us, where we may behold objects, a second time, in their likeness. It entertains us, as with a success fion of the most splendid pictures ; disposes, in the most artificial manner, of the light and shade, for viewing every thing to the best advantage ; in fine,
from being a rude and imperfect interpreter of men's wants and neceilities, it has now passed into an inftrument of the moit delicate and refined luxury.
To make these effects of figurative language fenfible, there are few authors in the English language, whom I can refer to with more advantage than mr. Addison, whose imagination is, at once, remarkably rich, and remarkably correct and chaste. When he is treating, for instance, of the effect which light and colours have to entertain the fancy, considered in mr. Locke's view of them as secondary qualities, which have no real existence in matter, but are only ideas in the mind, with what beautiful painting has he adorned this philosophic fpeculation! “Things,” says he, “ would make “but a poor appearance to the eye, if we saw " them only in their proper figures and motions.
Now, we are every where entertained with
pleasing shows and apparitions; we discover " imaginary glories in the heavens, and in the
earth, and see some of this visionary beauty
poured out upon the whole creation. But what “ a rough unsightly sketch of nature should we « be entertained with, did all her colouring disap
pear, and the several distinctions of light and 66 snade vanish ? Li short, our souls are, at present, “ delightfully loft, and bewildered in a pleasing de“ lufion : and we walk about like the enchanted “ hero of a romance, who sees beautiful castles, " woods, and meadows; and, at the same time, “ hears the warbling of birds, and the purling of “ streams; but, upon the finishing of some secret “ fpell, the fantastic scene breaks up, and the difu confolate knight finds himself on a barren heath,
or in a solitary defert. It is not improbable, that " something like this may be the state of the soul
after its first separation, in respect of the
" images it will receive from matter." No. 413. Spectator.
Having thus explained, at sufficient length, the origin, the nature, and effects of tropes, I should proceed next to the several kinds and divisions of them. But, in treating of these, were I to follow the common track of the scholastic writers on rhetoric, I should soon become tedious, and, I apprebend, useless, at the fame time. Their great business has been, with a most patient and frivolous industry, to branch them out under a vast number of divisions, according to all the several modes in which a word may be carried from its literal meaning, into one that is figurative, without doing any more; as if the mere knowledge of the names and classes of all the tropes that can be formed, could be of any advantage towards the proper or graceful use of language. All that I purpose is, to give, in a few words, before finishing this lecture, a general view of the several sources whence the tropical meaning of words is derived : after which I shall, in subsequent lectures, descend to a more particular confideration of some of the most confiderable figures of fpeech, and such as are in most frequent use; by treating of which, I shall give all the instruction I can, concerning the proper employment of figurative language, and point out the errors and abuses, which are apt to be committed in this part of style.
All tropes, as I before observed, are founded on the relation which one object bears to another ; in virtue of which, the name of the one can be substituted instead of the name of the other ; and by such a substitution, the vivacity of the idea is commonly meant to be increased. These relations, some more, some less intimate, may all give rise to tropes. One of the first and most obvious relations, is that between a cause and its effect. Hence,