Page images

passage, Quinctilian shews the true genius of LE CT. an orator, as much as he does elsewhere that of the critic.


For fuch bold Figures of discourse as strong Personifications, addresses to personified objects, and Apostrophes, the glowing imagination of the ancient Oriental nations was particularly fitted. Hence, in the sacred fcriptures, we find some very remarkable inftances: "O thou sword of the Lord! how

long will it be ere thou be quiet? put thy" self up into the scabbard, rest and be ftill! « How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath « given it à charge against Alhkelon, and

against the sea-shore ? there hath he ap“ pointed it *."

There is one passage in particular, which I must not omit to mention, because it contains a greater assemblage of sublime ideas, of bold and daring Figures, than is perhaps any where to be met with. It is in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, where the prophet thus describes the fall of the Alsyrian empire: “ Thou shalt take up this “ proverb against the king of Babylon, and “ fay, how hath the oppressor ceased! the

golden city ceased! The Lord hath broken ç the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of « the rulers. He who smote the people in { wrath with a continual stroke: he that ruled

* Jer. xlvii 6, 7.

of the


LECT. “ the nations in anger, is persecuted, and

"none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, “ and is quiet: they break forth into singing. “ Yea the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and the “ cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art “ laid down, no feller is come up against us. “ Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to “ meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the « dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth : it hath raised up from their thrones “ all the kings of the nations. All they shall

speak, and say unto thee, Art thou also be

come weak as we? Art thou become like “ unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to " the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the "worm is spread under thee, and the worms "' cover thee. How art thou fallen from Hea“ ven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how “ art thou cut down to the ground, which "didít weaken the nations ! For thou hast " said in thine heart, I will ascend into Hea• ven, I will exalt my throne above the stars “ of God: I will fit also upon the mount of “ the congregation, in the fides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the v clouds, I will be like the Most High. "Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, " to the sides of the pit. They that see thee " shall narrowly look upon thee, and confider

thee, saying, Is this the man that made the " earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?

« that


" that made the world as a wilderness, and 1 ECT. " destroyed the cities thereof? that opened

not the house of his prisoners ? All the

kings of the nations, even all of them lie “ in glory, every one in his own house. But " thou art cast out of thy grave, like an abo“ minable branch : and as the raiment of " those that are Nain, thrust through with a « sword, that go down to the stones of the,

pit, as a carcase trodden under feet.” This whole passage is full of sublimity. Every object is animated; a variety of personages are introduced: we hear the Jews, the fir-trees, and cedars of Lebanon, the ghosts of departed Kings, the King of Babylon himself, and those who look upon his body, all speaking in their order, and acting their different parts without confusion.




L E C T.



E are still engaged in the confideration

of Figures of Speech; which, as they add much to the beauty of style when properly employed, and are at the same time liable to be greatly abused, require a careful discussion. As it would be tedious to dwell on all the variety of figurative expressions which rhetoricians have enumerated, I chose to select the capital Figures, such as occur most frequently, and to make my remarks on these; the principles and rules laid down concerning them, will sufficiently direct us to the use of the rest, either in prose or poetry. Of Metaphor, which is the most common of them all, I treated fully; and in the last Lecture I discoursed of Hyperbole, Personification, and Apostrophe. This Lecture will nearly finish what remains on the head of Figures. 5



[ocr errors][ocr errors]

COMPARISON, or Simile, is what I am to LE C T. treat of first: a Figure frequently employed both by Poets and Prose-writers, for the ornament of Composition. In a foriner Lecture, I explained fully the difference betwixt this and Metaphor. A Metaphor is a comparison implied, but not expressed as such; as when I say, “ Achilles is a Lion," meaning, that he resembles one in courage or strength. A Comparison is, when the resemblance between two objects is exprefied in form, and generally pursued more fully than the nature of a Metaphor admits; as when I say, “ The “ actions of princes are like those great rivers, rs the course of which every one beholds, but “ their springs have been seen by few.” This night instance will show, that a happy Comparison is a kind of sparkling ornament, which adds not a little lustre and beauty to discourse; and hence such Figures are termed by Cicero, “ Orationis lumina.”

The pleasure we take in Comparisons is just and natural. We may remark three different sources whence it arifes. First, from the pleafure which nature has annexed to that act of the mind by which we compare any two objects together, trace resemblances among those that are different, and differences among those that resemble each other; a pleasure, the final cause of which is, to



« PreviousContinue »