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XV.

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LE C T. wherein authors, instead of exalting, have con

trived to degrade, their subjects by the Figures
they employed. Authors of greater note than
those which are there quoted, have, at times,
fallen into this error. Archbishop Tillotson,
for instance, is sometines negligent in his
choice of Metaphors; as, when speaking of
the day of judgment, he describes the world,
as “ cracking about the finners ears." Shake-
speare, whose imagination was rich and bold,
in a much greater degree than it was deli-
cate, often fails here.

The following, for
example, is a gross transgression; in his
Henry V. having mentioned a dunghill, he
presently raises a Metaphor from the steam of
it; and on a subject too, that naturally led to
much nobler ideas :

And those that leave their valiant bones in France,
Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills,
They shall be fam'd; for there the sun shall greet them,
And draw their honours reeking up to heaven.

Act IV. Sc. 8.

In the third place, as Metaphors should be drawn from objects of some dignity, so particular care should be taken that the resemblance, which is the foundation of the Metaphor, be clear and perspicuous, not farfetched, nor difficult to discover. The transgression of this rule makes, what are called, harsh or forced Metaphors, which are always

displeasing,

displeasing, because they puzzle the reader, Lect. and, instead of illustrating the thought, ren. der it perplexed and intricate. With Metaphors of this kind, Cowley abounds. He, and some of the writers of his age, seem to have considered it as the perfection of wit, to hit upon likenesses between objects which no other person could have discovered ; and, at the same tiine, to pursue those Metaphors so far, that it requires some ingenuity to follow them out, and comprehend them. This makes a Metaphor resemble an ænigma ; and is the very reverse of Cicero's rule on this head : " Verecunda debet effe translatio ; ut deducta « effe in alienum locum non irruisse, atque ut « voluntario non vi veniffe videatur *.” How forced and obscure, for instance, are the following verses. of Cowley, speaking of his mistress :

XV.

: Wo to her stubborn heart, if once mine come

Into the self-fame room,
'Twill tear and blow up all within,
Like a Granada, shot into a magazine.
Then shall love keep the ashes and torn pirts

Of both our broken hearts;

• “ Every Metaphor should be modest, so that it may “ carry the appearance of having been led, not of having “ forced itself into the place of that word whose room ic

occupies; that it may seem to have come thither of its own accord, and not by constraint."

De Oratore,

lib. iii. c. 53

Shali

LECT.

XV.

Shall out of both one new one make;
From her's th' alloy, from mine the metal take;
For of her heart, he from the flames will find

But little left behind;
Mine only will remain entire,
No drofs was there to perish in the fire.

In this manner he addresses Sleep:

In vain, thou drowsy God, I thee invoke,
For thou who dost from fumes arise,
Thou who man's foul dost overshade,

With a thick cloud by vapours made;
Canst have no power to shut his eyes,
Whose flame's so pure, that it sends up no smoke,
Yet how do tears but from some vapours rife?
Tears that bewinter all my year,

The fate of Egypt I sustain,

And never feel the dew of rain,
From clouds which in the head appear :

But all my too much moisture owe
To overflowings of the heart below *.

Trite and common resemblances should indeed be avoided in our Metaphors. To be new, and not vulgar, is a beauty. But when they are fetched from some likeness too remote, and lying too far out of the road of ordinary thought, then, besides their obscurity, they have also the disadvantage of appearing laboured, and, as the French call it, « re« cherché :” whereas Metaphor, like every other ornament, loses its whole grace, when it LEC T. does not seem natural and easy,

* See an excellent criticism on this sort of metaphysical poetry, in Dr. Johnson's Life of Cowley. 1

other

XV.

It is but a bad and ungraceful softening, which writers sometimes use for a harsh Metaphor, when they palliate it with the expression, as it were. This is but an awkward parenthesis; and Metaphors, which need this apology of an as it were, would, generally, have been better omitted. Metaphors, too, borrowed from any of the sciences, especially such of them as belong to particular profefsions, are almost always faulty by their obscurity.

In the fourth place, it must be carefully attended to, in the conduct of Metaphors, never to jumble metaphorical and plain language together ; never to construct a period so, that part of it must be understood metaphorically; part literally: which always produces a most disagreeable confusion. Instances, which are but too frequent, even in good authors, will make this rule, and the reason of it, be clearly understood.

In Mr. Pope's translation of the Odyssey, Penelope, bewailing the abrupt departure of her fon Telemachus, is made to speak thus :

Long to my joys my deareft Lord is loft,

His country's buckler, and the Grecian boast;
Vol. I.
Сс

Now

L ECT.

XV.

Now from my fond embrace by tempests torn,
Our other column of the state is borne,
Nor took a kind adieu, nor fought confent*.

IV. 962.

Here, in one line, her son is figured as a Column; and in the next, he returns to be a Person, to whom it belongs to take adieu, and to ask confent. This is inconsistent, The Poet should either have kept himself to the idea of a Man, in the literal sense ; or, if he figured him by a Column, he should have afcribed nothing to him but what belonged to it. He was not at liberty to afcribe to that Column the actions and properties of a Man. Such unnatural mixtures render the image indistinct; leaving it to waver, in our conception, between the figurative and the literal fenfe. Horace's rule, which he applies to Characters, should be observed by all writers who deal in Figures:

Servetur ad imum,
Qualis ab incepto processerit, et fibi conftet,

* In the original, there is no allusion to a Column, and the Metaphor is regularly supported :

H πριν μεν σοσιν έσθλον απώλεσα θυμολέοντα
Παντονης αρετησι κεκασμενον εν Δαναοισι
Εσθλον, το κλεος ευρυ καθ' “Ελλαδα και μισον Αργος"
Ν» δ' αυ παιδ' αγαπήλον ανηρειψανο θυελλας
'Aκλεα εκ μεγαρων, εδ' ορμηθενος ακεσα.

A. 724.

4

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