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intention and effect. I saw it with my eyes. see it with your mouth ?" replies the cynic. Both nature and the most correct taste interpret such phraseology, and give important meaning to the apparent redundancy.
Sometimes, after a general statement, various particulars are enumerated to express the deep impression made on the mind of the speaker. Milton speaks thus with respect to his blindness :
“Nor to these idle orbs does day appear,
Or man, or woman.' After stating that he did not perceive the light of day, we needed not to be informed that he could not discern these other objects. But the person who should call this tautology would be as devoid of soul as an orang-outang. We can participate in the feelings of the poet, and brood with him over the objects of his regret. It soothes his melancholy to dwell on his bereavement, and it gives us a sad pleasure to accompany him.
It is from a like principle that earnestness expresses its object again and again in nearly the same words, as in the Psalms of David; also in his lament over Absalom, than which, nothing could be more affecting.
STYLE is much improved and embellished by reference to what is found in writers of established reputation—to facts in history-in art-commerce, and other departments of human effort. The reference is not so formal as in comparison, but is founded on the same principles, and is followed by equally pleasing results in the mind of the reader, by awakening grateful associations. What we mean may be exhibited most clearly by examples.
1. Scriptural Allusions. These should be sparingly and chastely introduced. The practice of some writers, both in periodical and other literature, of introducing them on trifling and low subjects
for the sake of giving point to their wit, ridicule, or satire, can not be too severely condemned for its demoralizing influence in bringing the solemn truths of Scripture into an unhallowed familiarity; but no allusions, when judiciously introduced, are more happy in their influence on the mind.
John Q. Adams, in the close of his discourse on the Con stitution of the United States, after describing the facts of sacred history relative to the curse put upon Mount Ebal, and the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, happily adds :
• Fellow-citizens, the ark of your covenant is the Declara. tion of Independence. Your Mount Ebal is the confederacy of separate state sovereignties, and your Mount Gerizim is the Constitution of the United States. In that scene of tremendous and awful solemnity, narrated in the Holy Scriptures, there is not a curse pronounced against the people upon Mount Ebal, not a blessing promised them upon Mount Gerizim, which your posterity may not suffer or enjoy, from your and their adherence to, or departure from, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, practically interwoven in the Constitution of the United States. Lay up these principles, then, in your hearts, and in your souls--bind them for signs,” &c., &c.
“Now it is a melancholy pity, when a man's philosophy, instead of being the angel that steps down into the Bethesda of his speculations, to trouble its waters to effect a cure, only perplexes the depth of his being, and turns up mire and dirt."
“If those alone who "sowed to the wind, did reap the whirlwind,' it would be well.”
"Hypocrisy is a cruel stepmother, an “injusta noverca' to the honest, whom she cheats of her birthright, in order to confer it on knaves, to whom she is indeed a mother. • Verily, they have their reward. "
The first part of the above quotation is a classical allusion and belongs to the next head.
2. Classical Allusions-(ancient). “ 'The mob is a monster with the hands of Briareus, but the head of Polyphemus—strong to execute, but blind to perceive."
“The learning of Burke was something which he always carried with ease and wielded with dexterity. At one time it was the rattling quiver of Apollo, from which he drew many
a feathered shaft; at another it was a battle-axe in his hands, which would cleave the toughest skull.” Another example :
To give the semblance of purity to the substance of coiruption is to proffer the poison of Circe in a crystal goblet.” Again :
Eloquence, to produce her full effect, should start from the head of the orator, as Pallas from the brain of Jove completely armed and equipped.
“There are many moral Acteons who are as miserably devoured by objects of their own choosing, as was the fabulous one by his own hounds."
3. Classical Allusions—(modern). “We can not aspire to so high a character on cheaper terms, otherwise Falstaff's soldiers might be allowed their claim, since they are afraid of nothing but danger.'
The allusion is here to a character in Shakspeare's plays, and awakens pleasing associations in those who admire Shakspeare. So is it with classical allusions in those who , have read and appreciated the ancient classics.
4. Mathematical Allusions. “ The art of destruction seems to have proceeded geometrically, while the art of preservation can not be said to have advanced even in a plain arithmetical progression.”
“ Subtract from many modern poets all that may be found in Shakspeare and trash will remain."
5. Historical Allusions. “Avarice begets more vices than Priam did children, and, like Priam, survives them all."
6. Astronomical Allusions. “ There may be intellectual food which the present state of society is not fit to partake of; to lay such before it, would be as absurd as to give a quadrant to an Indian."
7. Allusions to other Branches of Physical Science.
One thing I may affirm, that I have first considereu whether it be worth while to say any thing at all, before I have taken any trouble to say it well; knowing that words are but air, and that both are capable of much condensation"
Knowledge is indeed as necessary as light, and in this coming age most fairly promises to be as common as water and as free as air. But as it has been wisely ordained that light should have no color, water no taste, and air no odor, so knowledge also should be equally pure and without admix-.
“ Too close a contiguity is as inimical to distinct vision, as too great a distance ; and hence it happens that a man often knows the least of that which is most near him-even his own heart.”
8. Legal Allusions. “When we apply to the conduct of the ancient Romans the pure and unbending principles of Christianity, we try those noble delinquents unjustly, inasmuch as we condemn them by the severe sentence of an ex post facto' law”
9. Allusions to Natural History. “In another publication I have quoted an old writer, who observes, That we fatten a sheep with grass, not in order to obtain a crop of hay from his back, but in the hope that he will feed us with mutton and clothe us with wool.' Wo may apply this to the sciences,” &ç.
10. Commercial Allusions. “ The excesses of our youth are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest about thirty years after date."
From the above quotations it will be seen that allusions may be drawn from a great variety of sources—from the sciences and the arts—from books ancient and modern, and from Nature—and that they serve, like various figures of speech, to enliven discourse and adorn style. To be able to excel in the use of them, our knowledge can not be too extensive and exact, nor our taste too well cultivated and judgment too well improved, to determine when, and how, and what to introduce, by way of allusion.
The term wit is appropriated to such thoughts ind expressions as are ludicrous, and also occasion some surprise by their singularity.
Wit in the thought consists of a junction of things by distant and fanciful relations, which surprise bo cause they are unexpected. For example :
"We grant, although he had much wit,
As men their best apparel do.” The unexpected discovery of resemblance between things supposed to be unlike, when it is clearly expressed in few words, constitutes what is commonly called wit, and is a very copious source of pleasantry. Such is that comparison in Hudibras, of the dawn of the morning to a boiled lobster:
“ Like a lobster boil'd, the morn
From black to red began to turn.” At first there seems to be no resemblance at all; but when we recollect that the lobster's color is, by boiling, changed from dark to red, we recognize a likeness to that change of color in the sky which happens at daybreak.
Wit, as distinguished from humor, may consist of a single brilliant thought; but humor runs in a vein ; it is not a striking, but an equable and pleasing flow of wit. Addison is a fine example of the latter. Satire and irony are personal and censorious kinds of wit, the first of which openly points at the object, and the second in a covert manner takes its aim. Burlesque is rather a species of humor than direct wit, which consists in an assemblage of ideas extravagantly discordant. The quality of humor belongs to a writer who, affecting to be grave and serious, paints his objucts in such colors as to provoke mirth and laughter.
I. Wit in the expression, commonly called a play of words, is a low sort of wit, of which Lord Kames has cxhibited many examples, some of them, however, riot remarkable for their delicacy.
This sort of wit depends, for the most part, upon choosing a word that has different significations, and using it so as to produce amusement; a kind of amuse