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Haft thou left thy blue course in heaven, golden-hair'd son of the sky! The west hath opened its gates, the bed of thy repole is there. The waves gather to behold thy beauty : they lift their trembling heads; they fee thee lovely in thy sleep ; but they fhrink away with fear. Reit in thy lhadowy cave, O Sun ! and let thy return be in joy.
Fingal. Daughter of Heaven, fair art thou ! the filence of thy face is pleasant. Thou comeft forth in loveliness : the ftars attend thy blue steps in the east. The clouds rejoice in thy presence, O Moon ! and brighten their dark brown fides.
Who is like thee in heaven, daughter of the night! The stars are alhamed in thy presence, and turn aside their sparkling eyes. Whither dort thou retire from thy course, when the darkness of thy countenance grows? Hast thou thy hall like Olian? Dwellelt thou in the shadow of grief? Have thy fifters fallen from heaven ? and are they who rejoiced with thee at night no more !---Yes, they have fallen, fair light ; and often doft ihou retire to mourn.-But thou thyself thalt, one night, fall; and leave thy blue path in heaven. The stars will then lift their heads : they, who in thy presence were ashamed, will rejoice.
Fingal. This figure, like all others, requires an agitation of mind. "In plain narrative, as, for example, in giving the genealogy of a family, it has no good effect:
Fauno Picus pater ; isque parentem Te, Saturne, retert ; tu fanguinis ultiinus auctor.
Eneid, vii. 48.
Hyperbole. In this figure, by which an object is magnified or diminished beyond truth, we have another effect of the foregoing principle. An object of an
uncommon size, either very great of its kind or very little, strikes us with surprise ; and this emotion produces a momentary conviction that the object is greater or less than it is in reality :* the same effect, precisely, attends figurative grandeur or littleness : and hence the hyperbole, which expresses that momentary convidion. A writer, taking advantage of this natural delusion, warms his description greatly by the hyperbole : and the reader, even in his cool. est moments, relishes the figure, being sensible that it is the operation of nature upon a glowing fancy.
It cannot have escaped observation, that a writer is commonly more successful in magnifying by a hyperbole than in diminishing. The reason is, that a minute object contracts the mind, and fetters its power of imagination; but that the mind, dilated and infiamed with a grand object, moulds objects for its gratification with great facility. Longinus, with reIpect to a diminishing hyperbole, quotes the following ludicrous thought from a comic poet : “He was owner of a bit of ground no larger than a Lacede. monian letter.”+ But, for the reason now given, the hyperbole has by far the greater force in magnifying objects; of which take the following examples :
For all the land which hou feeft, to thee will I give it, ard to th y seed for ever. And I will make thy feed as the dust of the earth ; so that if a man can rumber the dust of the earth, then shall thy feed also be numbered.
Genefes xiii. 15. 16.
Illa vel intactæ fegetis per fumma volaret
Æneid, vii. 808.
* See Chap. 8.
4 Clap. 31. of his Treatise on the Sublime,
Atque imo barathri ter gurgite vastos
Æneid, iii. 421.
Horificis juxta tonat Ætna ruinis,
Æneid, iii. 571. Speaking of Polyphemus :
Ipfe arduus, altaque pulsat
Æneid, iii. 619,
When he speaks,
Henry V. act 1. sc. I.
Now Thield with shield, with helmet helmet clos'd,
lliad iv. 508.
The following may also pass, though far stretched.
E conjungendo à temerario ardire
Gierusalem, cant. 6. ff. 46.
Quintilian * is sensible that this figure is natural : “For,” says he, “not contented with truth, we are
naturally • L. 8. cap. 6. in fin.
naturally inclined to augment or dimiuilh beyond it; and for that reason the hyperbole is familiar even among the vulgar and illiterate :” and he adds, very justly, “ That the hyperbole is then proper, when the subject of itself exceeds the common measure." From these premises, one would not expect the following inference, the only reason he can find for justifying this figure of speech, “ Conceditur enim amplius dicere, quia dici quantum est, non potest : meliusque ultra quam citra stat oratio." (We are indulged to say more than enough, because we cannot say enough ; and it is better to be above than under.) In the name of wonder, why this childish reasoning, after observing that the hyperbole is founded on human nature ? I could not resist this personal ftroke of criticism ; intended not against our author, for no human creature is exempt from error, but against the blind veneration that is paid to the ancient classic writers, without distinguishing their blemishes from their beauties.
Having examined the nature of this figure, and the principle on which it is erected, I proceed, as in the first section, to the rules by which it ought to be governed. And, in the first place, it is a capital fault, to introduce an hyperbole in the description of any thing ordinary or familiar ; for in such a case, it is altogether unnatural, being deftitute of surprise, its only foundation. Take the following instance, where the subject is extremely familiar, viz. fwimming to gain the shore after a fhipwreck.
I saw him beat the surges under him,
To th' fore, that o'er his wave-born basis bow'd,
Tempeft, azt 2. fc. 1. In the next place, it may be gathered from what is faid, that an hyperbole can never suit the tone of any dispiriting paifion : sorrow in particular will never prompt such a figure ; for which reason the following hyperboles must be condemned as natural :
K. Rich. Aumcrle, thou weep'ít my tender-hearted
Richard II. aft 3. sc. 6.
Julius Cæfar, alt 1. sc. 1. Thirdly, A writer, if he wish to succeed, ought always to have the reader in his eye : he ought in particular never to venture a bold thought or expression, till the reader be warmed and prepared. For that reason, an hyperbole in the beginning of a work can never be in its place. Example :
Jam pauca aratro jugere regiæ
Horat. Carm. l. 1. ode 15. The nicest point of all, is to ascertain the natural limits of an hyperbole, beyond which being overstrained it hath a bad effect. Longinus, in the abovecited chapter, with great propriety of thought, en. ters a caveat against an hyperbole of this kind : he compares it to a bow-string, which relaxes by over