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The fertility of Shakespear's vein betrays him frequently into this error. There is the same impropriety in another simile of his :
Ilero. Goo1 Margaret, run thee into the parlour ;
Much ada cbsut Nothing, at 3. sc. I.
Rooted grief, deep anguish, terror, remorse, despair, and all the severe dispiríting passions, are declared enemies, perhaps not to figurative language in general, but undoubtedly to the pomp and lolemnity of comparison. Upon that account, the simile pronounced by young Rutland, under terror of death from an inveterate enemy, and praying mercy, is unnatural :
So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch
Third fart, Henry VI. ałt 1. sc. 5.
Nothing appears more out of place, nor more awkwardly introduced, than the following simile :
Farewell, my Portius, Farewell, though death is in the word, for-ever !
Portius. Stay, Lucia, ftay; what doft thou say? forever?
Lucia. Have I not sworn ? If, Portius, thy success
Portius. Thus, o'er the dying lamp th' unsteady flame'
Thou must not go, my foul still hovers o'er thcc,
Cito, act 3. sc. 2.
Nor doth the simile which closes the first act of the same tragedy make a better appearance ; the situation there represented being too dispiriting for a fimile. A fimile is improper for one who dreads the difcovery of
secret machination ;
• Zara. The mute not yet return'd! Ha 'was the King,
Mourning Bride, alt 5. sc. 3.
A man spent and dispirited after losing a battle, is not dispoled to heighten or illustrate his discourse by fimiles :
York. With this we charg'd again ; but out, alas!
Third part, Henry VI. cet 1. sc. 6.
Far * This fimile would have a fine effect pronounced by the chorus in a Greek tragedy
Far less is a man disposed to fimiles who is not only defeated in a pitch'd battle, but lies at the point of death mortally wounded : Warwick.
My mangled body shows, My blood, my want of strength, my fick heart shows, That I must yield my body to the earth, And, by my fall, the conquest to my foe. Thus yields the cedar to the ax's edge, Whose arms gave shelter to the princely cagle ; Under whose İade the ramping lion slept, Whose top-branch over-peer'd Jove's spreading tree, And kept low shrubs from winter's pow'sful wind.
Third part, Henry VI. aft 5. fc. 3. Queen Katherine, deserted by the King, and in the deepest affliction on her divorce, could not be dit. posed to any fallies of imagination : and for that reason, the following simile, however beautiful in the mouth of a spectator, is scarce proper in her own;
I am the most unhappy woman living,
King Henry VIII. act 3. fc. 1. Similes thus unseasonably introduced, are finely ridiculed in the Rehearsal.
Bayes. Now here she must make a simile.
Baves. Because she's surprised ; that's a general rule ; you must ever make a simile when you are surprised ; 'tis a new way of writing.
A comparison is not always faultless even where it is properly introduced. I have endeavoured above
to give a general view of the different ends to which a comparison may contribute : a comparison, like other human productions, may fall short of its aim ; of which defect instances are not rare even among good writers ; and to complete the present subject, it will be necessary to make some observations upon such faulty comparisons. I begin with observing, that nothing can be more erroneous than to institute a comparison too faint ; a distant resemblance or contrast fatigues the mind with its obscurity, instead of amusing it : and tends not to fulfil any one end of a comparison. The following similes seem to labour under this defect.
Albus ut obscuro deterget nubila celo
Horat. Carm. I. 1. ode 7
Æneid. ix. 28.
Æneid. iv. 437 L4
K. Rich. Give me the crown.--Here cousin, seize the
Richard II. act. 4. fc. 3.
King John, alt 5. fc. 10,
Third part, Henry VI. act 1. fo. 6. The latter of the two fimiles is good : the former, by its faintness of resemblance, has no effect but to load the narration with an useless image.
The next error I shall mention is a capital one. In an epic poem, or in a poem upon any elevated subject, a writer ought to avoid raising a simile on a low image, which never fails to bring down the principal subject. In general, it is a rule, That a grand object ought never to be resembled to one that is diminutive, however delicate the resemblance may be ; for it is the peculiar character of a grand object to fix the attention, and swell the mind, in which state, to contract it to a minute object, is unpleasant. The resembling an object to one that is greater, has, on