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Ocean followed by all its billows, pours valour forth as a stream, rolling its might along the shore.
Fingal, b. 1.
As roll a thousand waves to a rock, so Swaran's host came on ; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Swaran.
I beg peculiar attention to the following fimile for a reason that shall be mentioned.
Thus breathing death, in terrible array,
lliad xiii. 187.
The image of a falling rock is certainly not elea vating ;* and yet undoubtedly the foregoing simile fires and swells the mind : it is grand therefore, if not sublime.
And the following simile will afford additional evidence, that there is a real, though nice, distinction between these two feelings :
So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
* Sce chap. 4.
He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
Milton, b. 6.
A comparison by contrast may contribute to gran. deur or elevation, no less than by resemblance ; of which the following comparison of Lucan is a remarkable instance :
Vi&trix causa diis placuit, fed vi&ta Catoni.
Considering that the Heathen deities pofseffed a rank but one degree above that of mankind, I think it would not be easy by a single expression, to exalt more one of the human species, than is done in this comparison. I am sensible, at the fame time, that such a comparison among Christians, who entertain more exalted notions of the Deity, would justly be reckoned extravagant and absurd.
The last article mentioned, is that of lessening or depressing a hated or disagreeable object ; which is effectually done by resembling it to any thing low or despicable. Thus Milton, in his description of the rout of the rebel-angels, happily expresses their terror and dismay in the following simile :
-As a herd
Struck them with horror backward, but far worfe
Milton, i. 6.
In the same view, Homer, I think, may be justified in comparing the shouts of the Trojans in battle tò the noise of cranes,* and to the bleating of a flock of feep :t it is no objection that these are low images, for it was his intention to lessen the Trojans by opposing their noisy march to the filent and manly march of the Greeks. Addison, describing the figure that men make in the light of a superior being, takes opportunity to mortify their pride by comparing them to a swarm of pismires.
A comparison that has none of the good effects mentioned in this discourse, but is built upon common and trifling circumstances, makes a mighty filly figure :
Non fum nefcius, grandia consilia a multis plerumque caufis, ceu magna navigia a plurimis remis, impelli.
Sirade de beila Belgico. By this time, I imagine, the different purposes of comparison, and the various impressions it makes on the mind, are sufficiently illustrated by proper examples. This was an easy task. It is more dificult to lay down rules about the propriety or impropriety of comparisons ; in what circumstances they may be introduced, and in what circumstances they are out of place. It is evident, that a comparison is not proper on every occasion : a man when cool and fedate, is not disposed to poetical flights, nor to facrifice truth and reality to imaginary beautics • far lefs is he fo
disposed Begioning of book 3. + Book 4. 1. 493. Guardian, No. 153. VOL. II.
disposed when oppressed with care, or interested in some important transaction that engrosses him totally. On the other hand, a man, when elevated or animated by passion, is disposed to elevate or animate all his objects : he avoids familiar names, exalts objects by circumlocution and metaphor, and gives even life and voluntary action to inanimate beings. In this heat of mind, the highest poetical flights are indulged, and the boldelt similes and metaphors relished. But without foaring so high, the mind is frequently in a tone to relish chaste and moderate ornament ; such as comparisons that set the principal object in a strong point of view, or that embellish and diverfify the narration. In general, when by any animating passion, whether pleasant or painful, an impulse is given to the imagination ; we are in that condition disposed to every sort of figurative expression, and in particular to comparisons. This in a great measure is evident from the comparisons already mentioned ; and shall be further illustrated by other instances. Love, for example, in its infancy, rousing the imagination, prompts the heart to display itself in figurative language, and in fimiles :
Troilus. Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne's love,
Troilus and Cresid, act 1. sc. 1.
* It is accordingly observed by Longinus, in his Treatise of the Sublime, that the proper time for metaphor, is when the passions are so fwelled as to hurry on like a torrent,
Come gentle Night ; come, loving black-brow'd Night!
Romeo and Juliet, act 3. fo. 4. The dread of a misfortune, however eminent, involving always some doubt and uncertainty, agitates the mind and excites the imagination:
Nay, then, farewell ;
Henry VIII. act 3. fc. 4. But it will be a better illustration of the present head, to give examples where comparisons are improperly introduced. I have had already occasion to observe, that fimiles are not the language of a man in his ordinary state of mind, dispatching his daily and usual work. For that reason, the following speech of a gardener to his servants, is extremely improper :
Go bind thou up yon dangling apricots,
hich, like unruly children make their fire
Richard II. act 3. sc. 7.