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“Now from my fond embrace by tempest torn,
Our other column of the state is borne,
Nor took a kind adieu, nor sought consent.” Flame is used metaphorically for the passion of love; but to say of a lover that he whispered his flame into the ear of his beloved (meaning that in a whisper he gave her intimation of his love) would be faulty: because it is not the property of flame to be blown into the ear, nor of a whisper to convey flame from one place to another.
Dr. Beattie informs us that he had heard of clergymen, in their intemperate use of figurative expressions in public prayer (in which it should be used as little as possible), committing strange blunders of this kind : as of one who prayed that God would be a rock to them that are afar off upon the sea ; and that the British navy, like Mount Zion, might never be moved.
Moreover, figures should not be too frequent.
Blackmore, speaking of the destruction of Sodom, says,
The gaping clouds pour lakes of sulphur down,
Whose livid flashes sickening sunbeams drown." “ What a noble confusion !” says a witty critic : “ clouds, lakes, brimstone, flames, sunbeams, gaping, pouring, sickening, drowning, all in two lines !" See the Art of Sinking in poetry, in which the abuse of figurative language is well illustrated by a variety of examples.
Q. Can you give another example of a faulty metaphor, and correct it?
A. “Well indeed might he love this little mountain flower, for she was the last link of that broken chain which had bound him to the world."
EXERCISES ON METAPHORS. Fill up the blanks with the metaphorical words needed to complete the sense.
“ As there are some who have naturally a meager intellect, so there are others whose minds seem to be barren of those finer sympathies and affections of our nature which are
of the soul, and upon which the eye always rests with pleasure.”
* In Rome eloquence was a of late growth and of short duration." " Fame is
that pays but litile attention to the living, but bedizens the dead, furnishes out their funerals, and follows them to the “Nobility is a that sets with a constant current directly into the
of time ; but, unlike all other it is more grand at its source than at its termination."
“Many causes are now conspiring to increase the of infidelity, bu materialism is the main rout of them all."
OF ALLEGORY. Q. What is an Allegory ? I A. It is generally considered, but incorrectly, as a continuation of metaphor. No continuation of metaphor ever becomes an allegory; indeed, there are several essential properties that distinguish these figures. Allegory presents to immediate view the secondary object only; metaphor always presents the primary also. Metaphor always imagines one thing to be another; allegory, never. Every thing asserted in the allegory is applied to the secondary object; every thing asserted in the metaphor is applied to the principal. In the metaphor there is but one meaning ; in the allegory there are two, a literal and a figurative. Allegory is a veil; metaphor a perspective-glass.
One of the finest allegories is to be found in the Ixxxth Psalm :
“Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars-she sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thce, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine.”
Allegory is more seldom employed than either metaphor or simile. The latter require no study, and but a slight exertion of the imagination; but to form an allegory, the mind must look out for a likeness that will correspond in a variety of circumstances, and form an independent whole.
Q. What is the best occasion for the proper allegory?
A. It is, when it is of importance to gain a man's own judgment against himself, without exciting his suspicions of our intention. We all know the effect of the parable spoken by Nathan to David ; and we can not fail to observe that no other form of speech could have supplied the place of allegory. Many of
lhe parables of Christ are of the same description ; and the Scribes and Pharisees were often obliged to give judgment against themselves.
Q. Among whom did this style of writing most prevail ?
A. Among the ancients, though many modern writers have used it with good effect.
Q. What is the chief thing to be observed in the use of this figure?
A. The great requisite is, to make it as lively and interesting as possible, to preserve a proper distinction between the figurative expression and the literal, and to introduce nothing unsuitable to the nature, either of the thing spoken of, or of the thing alluded to. Q. What is to be observed concerning the length of allegories?
A. Some are quite short, others very long. Of the latter kind is the “ Pilgrim's Progress," by John Bunyan, of immortal fame. This work is an allegory, continued through the volume, in which the com. mencement, progress, and conclusion of the Christian life, are ingeniously illustrated by the similitude of a journey.
A great deal of Homer and Virgil's machinery, that is, of the use they make of gods and goddesses, and other fictitious beings, is allegorical. Thus it is Apollo that raises the plague in the first book of the Iliad, agreeably to the old opinion that the sun, by drawing up noxious vapors from the earth, is the cause of pestilence. Thus it is Juno who instigates Æolus, in the first book of the Æneid, to raise a storm for destroy. ing the Roman fleet; which intimates that a certain disposition of the air, over which Juno was supposed to preside, is the cause of wind. Thus, when Pallas, in the beginning of the Iliad, appears to Achilles and forbids him to draw his sword against Agamemnon, it is an allegory; and the meaning is, that Achilles was restrained on this occasion 'by his own good sense, Pallas being the goddess of wisdom. And when Virgil tells us that Juno and Venus conspired to decoy Đido into an amour with Æneas, it signifies that Dido was drawn into this amour partly by her ambition ; Venus being the representative of the one passion and Juno of the other.
Samson's Riddlc is an allegory: “Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
OF PERSONIFICATION. Q. What do you mean by Personification ?
A. That figure by which we attribute life, sex, and action to inanimate beings. Q. By what is this figure prompted ?
A. Either by the exercise of an active imagination, or by intense feeling ; and it arises from a certain proneness in the human mind to invest all surrounding objects with life and activity. Q. What effect has it upon style?
A. It tends both to enliven and to embellish it, being, when judiciously used, one of its greatest ornaments.
“Duty is to the affections in the conduct of life, what logic is to rhetoric in a discourse. Logic forms an excellent body for a discourse; we assent to it, we approve it, it is good, all good, but it awakens no admiration. It is not till rhetoric sends its warm life-blood to mantle on the cold cheek of logic, and clothes its angular form in the garments of taste, that we begin to admire the discourse. And so it is with duty,” &c.
Q. Is our language favorable to the use of this figure?
A. There is none more so, and hence, in part, its peculiar fitness for poetry:,
Q. To what is this to be ascribed ?
A. To the circumstance of the distinction of gender in English nouns being in strict accordance with nature, which is not the case in many other languages.
Q. And what advantage does this give us?
A. While we, on ordinary occasions, speak of inanimate objects as destitute of sex, we are enabled, when the occasion requires it, to dignify them by appellations peculiar to males or females.
Q. Can the same not be done in every language ?
A. No; for in most languages the gender of nouns is invariably fixed, and can not be changed at the will of the writer.
Q. Can you illustrate what you have stated by example ?
A. In speaking of the sun, on common occasions, we say, it rises, or it sets; but in cases of greater moment, we ascribe to it the attributes of a male, and use he, as Thomson, in his Seasons :
"But yonder comes the powerful king of day,
High gleaming from afar."
A. It is used very frequently, and always with great propriety, in the Scriptures, as well as in the works of all our best poets and orators.
Q. Will you give an example from the Scriptures ?
A. When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, the sea saw it, and fled; Jordan was driven back! the mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.” “What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest ? Q. When may this figure be said to be abused ?
A. When the actions ascribed to inanimate objects are unnatural, vulgar, or indelicate; or when the figure is so overstrained, as to be either ridiculous or unintelligible.
Point out the personifications in the following examples :
“ Avarice begets more vices than Priam did children, and, like Priam, survives them all. It starves its keeper to surfeit those who wish him dead ; and makes him submit to more mortifications to lose heaven, than the martyr undergoes to gain it."
The above example may perhaps claim the dignity of an allegory.
“Philosophy is a goddess, whose head indeed is in heaven, but whose feet are upon earth; she attempts more than she accomplishes, and promises more than she performs: she can teach us to hear or read of the calamities of others with magnanimity; but it is religion only that can teach us to bear our own with resig nation."