Page images
PDF
EPUB

3

Did not Ofian hear a voice ? or is it the sound of days that are no more? Often, like the evening fun, comes the memory of former times on my soul.

His countenance is settled from war; and is calm as the evening-beam, that from the cloud of the west looks on Cona's Glent vale.

Sorrow, like a cloud on the sun, shades the foul of Clersammor.

The music was like the memory of joys that are past, pleasant and mournful to the foul.

Pleasant are the words of the song, said Cuchullin, and lovely are the tales of other tiines. They are like the calm dew of the morning on the hill of roes, when the sun is faint on its side, and the lake is settled and blue in the vale.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

These quotations are from the poems of Ossian, who abounds with comparisons of this delicate kind, and appears singularly happy in them.*

I proceed to illustrate by particular instances the different means by which comparisons, whether of the one fort or the other, can afford pleasure ; and, in the order above established, I begin with such instances as are agreeable, by suggesting fome unusual resemblance or contrast :

[ocr errors]

Sweet are the uses of Adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in her head.

As you like it, act 2. fc. 1.
Gardener. Bolingbroke hath seized the wasteful King,
What pity is't that he had not lo trimm'd
And dress'd his land, as we this garden dress,
And wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees ;
Lelt, being over proud with fap and blood,
With too much riches it contound itself.

Had

* The nature and merit of Olian's comparisons is fully illustrated, in a dissertation on the poems of that Autior, by Dr. Blair, professor of shetoric in the college of Edinburgh ; a delicious murlel of criticism,

[ocr errors]

Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have liv'd to bear, and he to taste
Their fruits of duty. All superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live :
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste and idle hours have quite thrown down.

Richard II. act 3. sc. 7.
See how the Morning opes her golden gates,
And takes her farewell of the glorious Sun;
How well resembles it the prime of youth,
Trinm'd like a younker prancing to his love !

Second part, Henry VI. aci 2. sc. I. Brutus. O Caffius you are yoked with a lamb, That carries anger as the flint bears fire : Who, much entorced, thows a hasty spark, And straight is cold again.

Julius Cæsar, act 4. fc. 3,
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief :
As when irom mountain-tops, the dusky clouds
Afcending, while the North-wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heav'n's cheerful face, the low'ring element
Scowls o'er the darkend landscape, snow and show'r ;
It chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extends his ev’ning-beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.

Paradise Loft, b. 2.
As the bright stars, and milky way,
Show'd by the night are hid by day :
So we in that accomplish'd mind,
Help'd by the night new graces find,
Which by :he splendor of her view,
Dazzled before, we never knew.

Waller.

The last exertion of courage compared to the blaze of a lamp before extinguishing, Tallo Gierufalem, canto 19. st. 22.

None

None of the foregoing fimiles, as they appear to me, tend to illustrate the

principal subject : and there. fore the pleasure they afford must arise from suggest. ing resemblances that are not obvious : I mean the chief pleasure ; for undoubtedly a beautiful subject introduced to form the simile affords a separate please ure,, which is felt in the fimiles mentioned, particu. larly in that cited from Milton.

The next effect of a comparison in the order mentioned, is to place an object in a strong point of view; which effect is remarkable in the following fimiles :

As when two scales are charg'd with doubtful loads,
From side to side the trembling balance nods,
( While some laborious matron, jutt and poor,
With nice exactness weighs her woolly store,)
Till pois'd aloft, the resting beam suspends
Each equal weight; nor this nor that descends :
So stood the war, till He&or's matchless might,
With fates prevailing, turn'd the scale of fight.
Fierce as a whirlwind up the wall he flies,
And fires his hoft with loud repeated cries,

Iliad, b. xii. 521.

Ut flos in feptis secretis nafcitur hortis,
Ignotus pecori, nullo contufus aratro,
Quem mulcent auræ, firmat sol, educat imber,
Multi illum pueri, multæ cupiere puellæ ;
Idem, cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
Nulli illum pueri, nullæ cupiê re puellæ :
Sic virgo, dum intacta manet, dum cara fuis ; sed
Cum caftum amifit, polluto corpore, forem,
Nec pueris jucunda manet, ncc cara puellis.

Catullus.

The

K 4

The imitation of this beautiful simile by Ariosto, canto 1. ft. 42. falls short of the original. "It is also in part imitated by Pope.*

Lucetta. I do not feck to quench your love's hot fire,
But quality the fire's exireme rage,
Let it thoi ld burn above the bounds of reason.
Julia. The more thou danim'it it up, the more it

burns :
The current, that with genıle murmur glides,
Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doih rage ;
But when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes (weet niutic with th' enameld stones,
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage :
And so by many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport, to the wild ocean.
Then let ine go, and hinder not my course :
I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,
And make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last itep have brought me to my love ;
And there I'll reft, as, after much turmoil,
A blefled soul doth in Elyfium.

Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 2. sc. In

She never told her love ;
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek : fhe pin'd in thought ;
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at Grief.

Twelfth Night, act 2. sc. 6.

York. Then, as I said, the Duke, great Bolingbroke, Mounted upon a hot and tiery iteed, Which his afpiring rider fcem'd to know, With flow but itately pace, kept on his course : While all tongues cry'd, God save thee, Bolingbroke.

Duchefs.

* Dunciad, b. 4. 1. 405.

Duchess. Alas! poor Richard, where rides he the

while ! York. As in a theatre, the eyes of men, After a well-grac'd actor leaves the Itage, Are idly bent on him that enters next, Thinking his pratile to be tedious : Even so, or with much more contempt men's eyes Did scowl on Richard ; no man cry'd, God save him! No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home; But duft was thrown upon his sacred head : Which with such gentle forrow he shook off, His face still combating with tears and smiles, The badges of his grief and patience ; That had not God, for some strong purpose, steel'd The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted, And barbarism itself have pitied him.

Richard II. act 5. sc. 3. Northumberland. How doth my son and brother ? Thou trembleft, and the whiteness in thy cheek Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand, Even such a man, fo faint, fo fpiritless, So dull, so dead in look, so wo-be-gone, Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night, And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd ; But Priam found the fire, ere he his tongue : And I my Piercy's death, ere thou repori't it.

Second part, Henry IV. alt 1. sc. 3:

Why, then I do but dream on sov'reignty,
Like one that stands upon a promontory,
And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
And chides the sea that funders him from thence,
Saying, he'll lave it dry to have his way :
So do I wish, the crown being so far off,
And so I chide the means that keep me from it,
And so (1 fay) I'll cut the causes off,
Flatt'ring my mind with things impossible.

Third part, Henry VI. aci 3. sc. 3.

Out, out brief candle !
Life's but a walking iliadow; a poor player,

« PreviousContinue »