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rectness and beauty : “ Thou haft brought a LEC T.
roon before it, and didst cause it to take
were covered with the shadow of it; and the
boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. " She sent out her boughs into the sea, and vs her branches into the river. Why hast thou « broken down her hedges, so that all they “ which pass by the way do pluck her? The " boar out of the wood doch waste it ; and the < wild beast of the field doth devour it. Re“ turn, we beseech thee, O God of Hofts, " look down from Heaven, and behold, and s visit this vine !" Here there is no circumftance (except perhaps one phrase at the beginning, “ thou hast cast out the heathen,”) that does not strictly agree to a vine, whilst at the same time, the whole quadrates happily with the Jewish state represented by this Figure. This is the first and principal requisite in the conduct of an Allegory, that the figurative and the literal meaning be not mixed inconfiftently together. For instance, instead of defcribing the vine, as wasted by the boar from the wood, and devoured by the wild beast of the field, had the Psalmist said, it was amicted by heathens, or overcome by enemies (which is the real meaning), this would have ruined the Allegory, and produced the same con
LE C T. fusion, of which I gave examples in Meta
phors, when the figurative and literal sense are mixed and jumbled together. Indeed, the fame rules that were given for Metaphors, may also be applied to Allegories, on account of the affinity they bear to each other. The only material difference between them, besides the one being short, and the other being prolonged, is, that a Metaphor always explains itself by the words that are connected with it in their proper and natural meaning; as when I fay, “ Achilles was a Lion ;” an “ able
Minister is the Pillar of the State ;" my Lion and my Pillar are fufficiently interpreted by the mention of Achilles and the Minister, which' I join to them; but an Allegory is, or may be, allowed to stand more disconnected with the literal meaning; the interpretation not so directly pointed out, but left to our own reflection.
ALLEGORIES were a favourite method of delivering instructions in antient times; for what we call Fables or Parables are no other than Allegories; where, by words and actions attributed to beafts or inanimate objects, the difpofitions of men are figured; and what we call the moral, is the unfigured fenfe or meaning of the Allegory. An Ænigma or Riddle is also a species of Allegory; one thing reprefented or imaged by another ; but purposely
wrapt up under so many circumstances, as to LECT. be rendered obscure. Where a riddle is not intended, it is always a fault in Allegory to be too dark. The meaning should be easily seen through the Figure employed to shadow it. However, the proper mixture of light and Shade in such compositions, the exact adjuftment of all the figurative circumstances with the literal sense, so as neither to lay the meaning too bare and open, nor to cover and wrap it up too much, has ever been found an affair of
great nicety; and there are few species of composition in which it is more difficult to write so as to please and command attention, than in Allegories. In some of the visions of the Spectator, we have examples of Allegories very happily executed.
L E C T U R E XVI.
HE next Figure concerning which I am
to treat, is called Hyperbole, or Exaggeration. It consists in magnifying an object beyond its natural bounds. It may be considered sometimes as a Trope, and sometimes as a Figure of thought: and here indeed the distinction between these two classes begins not to be clear, nor is it of any importance that we should have recourse to metaphysical fubtilties, in order to keep them distinct. Whether we call it Trope or Figure, it is plain that it is a mode of speech which hath some foundation in nature. For in all languages, even in common conversation, hyperbolical expressions very frequently oceur ; as swift as the wind; as white as the snow, and the like; and our common forms of compliment are almost all of them extravagant Hyberboles.
If any thing be remarkably good or great in LECT. its kind, we are instantly ready to add to it some exaggerating epithet; and to make it the greatest or best we ever saw. The imagination has always a tendency to gratify itself, by magnifying its present object, and carrying it to excess. More or less of this hyperbolical turn will prevail in language, according to the liveliness of imagination among the people who speak it. Hence young people deal always much in Hyperboles. Hence the language of the Orientals was far more hyperbolical than that of the Europeans, who are of more phlegmatic, or, if you please, , of more correct imagination. Hence, among all writers in early times, and in the rude periods of society, we may expect this Figure to abound. Greater experience, and more cultivated society, abate the warmth of imagination, and chasten the manner of expression.
The exaggerated expressions to which our ears are accustomed in conversation, scarcely Atrike us as Hyperboles.
In an instant we make the proper abatement, and understand them according to their just value. But when there is something striking and unusual in the form of a hyperbolical expression, it then rises into a Figure of Speech which draws our attention: and here it is necessary to observe, that unless the reader's imagination be in such a Vol. I. Dd