Page images
PDF
EPUB

Pr. Henry. I'll make it greater, ere I part from thee, And all the budding honours on thy crest I'll crop to make a garland for my head.

First part, Henry IV. act 5. sc.9.

Figuring a man who hath acquired great reputation and honour to be a tree full of fruit ;

Oh, boys, this story
The world may read in me : my body's mark'd
With Roman fwords; and my report was once
First with the best of note. Cymbeline lov’d me ;
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
Was not far off : then was I as a tree,
Whose boughs did bend with fruit. But in one night,
A storm or robbery call it what you will,
Shook down my mellow hangings, nay my leaves ;
And left me bare to weather.

Cymbeline, act 3. sc. 3.

Blest be thy foul, thou king of shells, said Swaran of the dark brown shield. In peace thou art the gale of spring; in war, the mountain-storm. Take now my hand in friends ship, thou noble king of Morven.

Fingal. Thou dwellest in the soul of Malvina, son of mighty Oslian. My fighs arise with the beam of the east : my tears descend with the drops of night. I was a lovely tree in thy presence, Oscar, with all my branches round me : but thy death came like a blast from the desart, and laid my green head low; the spring returned with its showers, but no leaf of mine arose.

Fingal.

I am aware that the term metaphor has been used in a more extensive senfe than I give it ; but I thought it of consequence, in a difquisition of fome intricacy, to confine the term to its proper sense, and to separate from it things that are distinguished by different names. An allegory differs from a metaphor ; and

what

what I would choose to cail a figure of speech, differs from both. I proceed to explain these differences. A metaphor is defined above to be an act of the imagination, figuring one thing to be another. An allegory requires no such operation, nor is one thing figured to be another: it consists in choosing a fabject having properties or circumstances resembling those of the principal subject ; and the former is decribed in such a manner as to represent the latter ; the subject thus represented is kept out of view : we are left to discover it by reflection; and we are pleased with the discovery, because it is our own work. Quintilian* gives the following instance of an Allegory,

O uavis, refcrent in mare te novi
Fluctus. O quid agis ? fortiter occupa portum.

Horat. lib. 1. ode 14.

and explains it elegantly in the following words : “ Totuíque ille Horatii locus, quo navim pro republica, fluctuum tempeftates pro bellis civilibus, portum pro pace atque concordia, dicit.”

A finer or more correct allegory is not to be found than the following, in which a vineyard is made to represent God's own people the Jews.

Thou last brought a vine ont of Egypt: thou hast can out ihe Deathen, and planted it. Thou didit cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The bills were corered with its thadow, and the boughs thereof wcie like the goodly celars. Why hait thon then broken down her hedges, so that all which país do pluck her ? The boar out of the wood doch waite it, and the wild beast doth devour it. Return, we belecchi thee, O Gd of hosts : look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine, and the vineyard thy right hand hath planted, and the branch thou madult strong for thyfuif.

Psalm 80.

* L. 8. cap. 6. se

2.

In a word, an allegory is in every respect fimilar to an hieroglyphical painting, excepting only that words are used instead of colours. Their effects are precisely the fame: a hieroglyphic raises two images in the mind ; one leen, which represents one not seen: an allegory does the same ; the representative futject is described ; and resemblance leads us to apply the description to the subject represented. In a figure of speech, there is no lietion of the imagination employed, as in a metaphor, nor a reprefentative subject introduced, as in an allegory. This figure, as its name implies, regards the expression only, not the thought ; and it may be defined, the using a word in a sense different from what is proper to it. Thus youth, or the beginning of life, is expressed figuratively by morning of life : morning is the beginning of the day, and in that view it is employed to signify the beginning of any other series, life especially, the progress of which is reckoned by days.

Figures of speech are reserved for a separate fection, but metaphor and allegory are fo much connected, that they must be handled together: the rules particularly for distinguishing the good from the bad, are common to both. We shall therefore proceed to these rules, after adding some examples to illustrate the nature of an allegory. Horace, speaking of his love to Pyrrha, which was now extinguished, expresseth himself thus :

Me tabula facer
Vorivâ paries indicat uvida
Sufpendille potenti
Veitimcnta maris Deo.

Carm. l. I. ode 5.

Again :

Again :

Phoebus volentem prælia me loqui,
Victas et urbes, increpuit lyrâ :
Ne parva Tyrrhenum per æquor

Vela dare.

Carm. l. 5.

ode 15.

Queen. Great Lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail their

lofs,
But cheerly seek how to redress their harms,
What though the mast be now thrown overboard,
The cable broke, the holding anchor loft,
And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood;
Yet lives our pilot still. Is't meet, that he
Should leave the helm, and, like a fearful lad,
With tearful eyes, add water to the sea,
And give more strength to that which hath too much ;
While in his moan the ship splits on the rock,
Which industry and courage might have sav'd ?
Ah, what a shame! ah, what a fault were this!

Third Part, Henry VI. a£t 5./6.5.
Oroonoks. Ha ! thou hast rous'd
The lion in his den : he ftalks abroad,
And the wide forest trembles at his roar.
I find the danger now.

Oroonoko, alt 3. sc. 2.

My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. He fenced it, gathered out the stones thereof, planted it with the choiceft vine, built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein : he looked that it fhould bring forth giapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, 1

pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. "What could have been done more to iny vineyard, that I have not done? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? And now go to ; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard : I will take away the hedge thereof, and it thall be eaten up ; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And I will

lay

lay it waste : it shall not be pruned, nor digged, but there shall come up

briers and thorns : I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Ifrael, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant.

Ifaiah, v. 1. The rules that govern metaphors, and allegories, are of two kinds : the construction of these figures comes under the first kind ; the propriety or impropriety of introduction comes under the other. I begin with rules of the first kind; some of which coincide with those already given for fimiles ; some are peculiar to metaphors and allegories.

And in the first place, it has been observed, that a simile cannot be agreeable where the resemblance is either too strong or too faint. This holds equally in metaphor and allegory ; and the reason is the fame in all. In the following instances, the resemblance is too faint to be agreeable.

Malcolm. -But there's no bottom, none,
In iny voluptuoufness : your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my luft.

Ma cbeth, azt 4. fc. 4. The best way to judge of this metaphor, is to convert it into a simile , which would be bad, because there is scarce any resemblance between lust and a cistern, or betwixt enormous lust and a large cistern,

Again :

He cannot buckle his distemper'd cause
Within the bcit of rule.

Macbeth, at 5. sc. 20 There is no resemblance between a distempered caufa and any body that can be confined within a belt.

Again :

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »