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-Namque ipsa decoram
Devenêre locos lætos & amæna vireta,
Brisk and lively sensations exact quicker and more animated numbers.
-Juvenum manus emicat ardens
ÆN. VII. Melancholy and gloomy subjects naturally express themselves in flow measures, and long words ;
In those deep folitudes and awful cells,
Et caligantem nigrâ formidine lucum.
I have now given fufficient openings into this subject: a moderate acquaintance with the good poets, either antient or modern, will suggest many instances of the same kind. And with this, I finish the discussion of the Structure of Sentences; having fully considered them under all the heads I mentioned; of Perspicuity, Unity, Strength, and Musical Arrangement.
ORIGIN AND NATURE OF FIGURATIVE.
AVING now finished what related to LECT. the construction of Sentences, I proceed
XIV. to other rules concerning Style. My general division of the qualities of Style, was into Perspicuity and Ornament. Perspicuity, both in single words and in sentences, I have considered. Ornament, as far as it arises from a graceful, strong, or melodious construction of words, has also been treated of. Another, and a great branch of the ornament of Style, is, Figurative Language; which is now to be the subject of our consideration, and will require a full discussion.
Our first enquiry must be, What is meant by Figures of Speech*?
On the subject of Figures of Speech, all the writers who treat of rhetoric or compofition, have infifted largely.
LE C T.
In general, they always imply some departure from fimplicity of expression; the idea which we intend to convey, not only enunciated to others, but enunciated in a particular manner, and with some circumstance added, which is designed to render the impresfiọn more strong and vivid. When I say, for instance, “ That a good man enjoys comfort « in the midst of adversity;" I just express my thought in the simplest manner possible. But when I say, “ To the upright there ariseth
light in darkness ;” the same sentiment is expressed in a figurative Style; a new circumstance is introduced ; light is put in the place of comfort, and darkness is used to suggest the idea of adversity. In the same manner, to say, “ It is impossible, by any search we can « make, to explore the divine nature fully," is to make a simple proposition. But when we say, “ Canst thou, by searching, find out « God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to “ perfection? It is high as Heaven, whaç "! canst thou do? deeper than Hell, whaç
To make references, therefore, on this subject, were end. less. On the foundations of Figurative Language, in ge, neral, one of the most sensible and instructive writers appears to me to be M. Marsais, in his Traité des Tropes pour servir d' Introduction à la Rhetorique, & à la Logique. For observations on particular Figures, the Elements of Criticism may be consulted, where the subject is fully handled, and illustrated by a great variety of examples.
- canst thou know?” This introduces a Figure LECT, into Style; the proposition being not only expressed, but admiration and astonishment being expressed together with it.
But, though Figures imply a deviation from what may be reckoned the most simple form of Speech, we are not thence to conclude, that they imply any thing uncommon, or unnatural.
This is so far from being the case, that, on very many occasions, they are both the most natural, and the most common method of uttering our sentiments. It is impoffible to compose any discourse without using them often; nay, there are few Sentences of any length, in which some expression or other, that may be termed a Figure, does not occur. From what causes this happens, shall be afterwards explained. The fact, in the mean time, shows, that they are to be accounted part of that Language which nature dictates to men. They are not the invention of the schools, nor the mere product of study: on the contrary, the most illiterate speak in Figures, as often as the most learned. Whenever the imaginations of the vulgar are much awakened, or their passions inflamed against one another, they will pour forth a torrent of Figurative Language, as forcible as could be employed by the most artificial declaimer.
WHAT then is it, which has drawn the attention of critics and rhetoricians so much to these forms of Speech? It is this : They remarked, that in them consists much of the beauty and the force of Language ; and found them always to bear some characters, or disa tinguishing marks, by the help of which they could reduce them under separate classes and heads. To this, perhaps, they owe their name of Figures. As the figure, or shape of one body, distinguishes it from another, so these forms of Speech have, each of them, a cast or turn peculiar to itself, which both diftin, guishes it from the rest, and distinguishes it from Simple Expression. Simple Expression just makes our idea known to others; but Figurative Language, over and above, bestows a particular dress upon that idea ; a dress, which both makes it be remarked, and adorns it. Hence, this sort of Lan. guage became early a capital object of atten, tion to those who studied the powers of Speech.
FIGURES, in general, may be described to be that Language, which is prompted either by the imagination, or by the passions. The just. ness of this description will appear, from the more particular account I am afterwards to give of them. Rhetoricians commonly divide them into two great claffes; Figures of 4