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the period must be understood in part metaphorically, in part literally; for the imagination cannot follow with sufficient ease, changes fo fudden and unprepared : a metaphor begun and not carried on, hath no beauty; and instead of light there is nothing but obfcurity and confusion. Instances of such incorrect composition are without number. I shall, for a specimen, select a few from different authors. Speaking of Britain,
This precious stone set in the sea,
Richard II. act 2. so I. In the first line Britain is figured to be a precious Itone : in the following lines, Britain, divested of her metaphorical dress, is presented to the reader in her natural appearance.
These growing feathers pluck'd from Cafar's wing,
Julius Cajar, act 1.jc. I.
Hor. The following is a miserable jumble of expressions, arising from an unsteady view of the subject, between its figurative and natural appearance :
But now from gath'ring clouds destruction pours,
Mists from black jealoufies the tempeft form,
Dispensary, canto 3.
Pope's Imitation of Horace, b. 2.
Oui, fa pudeur n'est que franche grimace,
Moliere, l'Etourdi, act 3. sc. 2
Boileau, l'Art poetique, chant. 3. 1. 319. Dryden, in his dedication of the translation of Jusa venal, fays,
When thus, as I may fay, before the use of the load-stone, or knowledge of the compass, I was failing in a vast ocean, without other help than the pole-llar of the ancients, and the rules of the French stage among the moderns, &c.
There is a time when factions, by the vehemence of their own fermentation, stun and dilable one another.
Bolingbroke. This fault of jumbling the figure and plain expreffion into one confused mass, is not less common in allegory than in metaphor. Take the following examples.
Heu ! quoties fidem,
Pour moi sur cette mer, qu'ici bas nous courons,
Boileau, epitre 5. Lord Halifax speaking of the ancient fabulists : "They (fays he) wrote in figns and spoke in parables : all their fables carry a double meaning ; the story is one and entire; the characters the fame throughout; not broken or changed, and always conformable to the nature of the creature they introduce. They never tell you, that the dog which snapp'd at a shadow, loft his troop of horse; that would be unintelligi. ble. This is his (Dryden's) new way of telling a story, and confounding the moral and the fable together.” After instancing from the hind and pan. ther, he goes on thus: “What relation has the hind to our Saviour; or what notion have we of a panther's Bible? If you say he means the church, how does the church feed on lawns, or range in the foreft? Let it be always a church or always a clovenfooted beast, for we cannot bear his shifting the fcene every line.”
A few words more upon allegory. Nothing gives greater pleasure than this figure, when the representative subject bears a strong analogy, in all its circumstances, to that which is represented: but the choice is seldom so lucky; the analogy, being generally fo faint and obscure, as to puzzle and not please. An allegory is still more difficult in painting than in poetry: the former can snow no resemblance but what appears to the eye; the latter hath many other resources for howing the resemblance. And therefore, with respect to what the Abbe du Bos* terms mixt
allegorical * Reflections sur la Poelie, vol, 1. sect. 24.
allegorical compositions, these may do in poetry; because in writing, the allegory can easily be distinguished from the historical part: no person, for example, mistakes Virgil's Fame for a real being. But such a mixture in picture is intolerable; because in a picțure the objects must appear all of the same kind, wholly real or wholly emblematical. For this reason, the history of Mary de Medicis, in the palace of Luxenbourg, painted by Rubens, is unpleasant by a perpetual jumble of real and allegorical personages, which produce a discordance of parts, and an obscurity upon the whole : witnefs in particular, the tablature representing the arrival of Mary de Medicis at Marseilles; where, together with the real personages, the Nereids and Tritons appear founding their shells: such a mixture of fiction and reality in the same group, is strangely absurd. The picture of Alexander and Roxana, described by Lucian, is gay and fanciful; but it suffers by the allegorical figures. It is not in the wit of man to invent an allegorical representation deviating farther from any shadow of resemblance, than one exhibited by Lewis XIV. anno 1664 ; in which an enormous chariot, intended to represent that of the fun, is dragg'd along, surrounded with men and women, reprelenting the four ages of the world, the celestial signs, the seasons, the hours, &c. a monstrous compofition, suggested probably by Guido's tablature of Aurora, and still more absurd.
In an allegory as well as in a metaphor, terms ought to be chosen that properly and literally are applicable to the representative subject : nor ought any circumstance to be added that is not proper to the representative subject, however justly it may be applicable properly or figuratively to the principal, The following allegory is therefore faulty;
Ferus et Cupido,
Horat. I. 2. ade 8.
For though blood may suggest the cruelty of love, it is an improper or immaterial circumstance in the
representative subject : water, not blood, is proper for a whetstone.
We proceed to the next head, which is, to exam, ine in what circumstance these figures are proper, in what improper. This inquiry is not altogether fuperfeţed by what is said upon the same subject in the chapter of Comparisons ; because upon trial it will be found, that a short metaphor or allegory may be proper, where a fimile, drawn out to a greater length, and in its nature more folemn, would scarce be rel. ished.
And, first, a metaphor, like a fimile, is excluded from common conversation, and from the description of ordinary incidents.
Second, in expressing any severe paffion that wholly occupies the mind, metaphor is improper. For which reason, the following speech of Macbeth is faulty
Methought I heard a voice cry sleep no more !
AEZ 2. sc. 3. The following example of deep despair, beside the highly figurative style, hath more the air of raving than of sense :