« AnteriorContinuar »
Romeo and Juliet, Act III. Sc. 5.
Oh, lay by
Fair Penitent, Act III.
On the bare outside of this world. Paradise Lost, B. III. 5. A quality of the agent given to the instrument with which it operates.
Why peep your coward swords half out their shells ! 6. An attribute of the agent given to the subject upon which it operates. High-climbing hill.
Milton. 7. A quality of one subject given to another.
Icci, beatis nunc Arabum invides
Horat. Carm. I. 1. ode 29.
Iliad, XXIII. 385.
Summer, 1. 1336. 8. A circumstance connected with a subject, expressed as a quality of the subject.
Oh! had I dy'd before that well-fought wall. Odyssey, V. 395. From this table it appears, that the adorning of a cause with an attribute of the effect, is not so agreeable as the opposite expression. The
progress from cause to effect is natural and easy: the opposite progress resembles retrograde motion;t and therefore panting height, astonish'd thought, are strained and uncouth expressions, which a writer of taste will avoid.
It is not less strained to apply to a subject in its present state, an epithet that may belong to it in some future state: Submer sasque obrue puppes.F
Æneid. I. 73. And mighty ruins fall.
Iliad, V. 411. Impious sons their mangled fathers wound. Another rule regards this figure, that the property of one subject ought not to be bestowed upon another with which that property is incongruous :
* Iccus, you now envy the happy treasures of the Arabians.
# Overwhelm this sunken ship.
How dare thy joints forget
Richard II. Act III. Sc. 3. The connection between an awful superior and his submissive dependent is so intimate, that an attribute may readily be transferred from the one to the other; but awfulness cannot be so transferred, because it is inconsistent with submission.
METAPHOR AND ALLEGORY.
The difference between a metaphor and a simile The meaning of metaphor
The meaning of allegory—The two rules that govern metaphor and allegoryOf construction-Not agreeable where the resemblance is too faint or too strong-not agreeable if not proportionable-Not to be crowded with minute circumstances-Words literally applicable to the imagined nature of the subject to be used–Different metaphors not to be jumbled—Plain language and metaphor not to be jumbled-Metaphors excluded from common conversation—Improper in severe passions that wholly occupy the mind—Proper when a man struggles to bear up against misfortunes.
A METAPHOR differs from a simile, in form only, not in substance: in a simile, the two subjects are kept distinct in the expression, as well as in the thought; in a metaphor, the two subjects are kept distinct in the thought only, not in the expression. A hero resembles a lion, and, upon that resemblance, many similes have been raised by Homer and other poets. But instead of resembling a lion, let us take the aid of the imagination, and feign or figure the hero to be a lion: by that variation the simile is converted into a metaphor; which is carried on by describing all the qualities of a lion that resemble those of the hero. The fundamental pleasure here, that of resemblance, belongs to the thought. An additional pleasure arises from the expression : the poet, by figuring his hero to be a lion, goes on to describe the lion in appearance,
but in reality the hero; and his description is peculiarly beautiful, by expressing the virtues and qualities of the hero in new terms, which, properly speaking, belong not to him, but to the lion. This will better be understood by examples. A family connected with a common parent, resembles a tree, the trunk and branches of which are connected with a common root: but let us suppose, that a family is figured, not barely to be like a tree, but to be a tree; and then the simile will be converted into a metaphor, in the following manner :
Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one,
Richard II. Act I, Sc. 2. Figuring human life to be a voyage at sea:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Julius Cæsar, Act IV. Sc. 3.
-Wou'd to heav'n,
Pr. Henry. I'll make it greater, ere I part from thee,
First Part Henry IV. Act V. Sc. 4. Figuring a man who hath acquired great reputation and honour to be a tree full of fruit:
-Oh, boys, this story
Cymbeline, Act III. Sc. 3. Blest be thy soul, thou king of shells, said Swaran of the dark-brown shield. In peace thou art the gale of spring; in war, the mountain-storm. Take now my hand in friendship, thou noble king of Morven.
Fingal. Thou dwellest in the soul of Malvina, son of mighty Ossian. My sighs arise with the beam of the east: my tears descend with the drops of night. I was a lovely tree in thy presence, Oscar, with all my branches round me: but thy death came like a blast from the desert
, and laid my green head low: the spring returned with its showers, but no leaf of mine arose.
Fingal. I am aware that the term metaphor has been used in a more extensive sense than I give it; but I thought it of consequence, in a disquisition of some intricacy, to confine the term to its proper sense, and to separate from it things that are distinguished by different names. An allegory differs from a metaphor; and what I would choose to call a figure of speech, differs from both. I proceed to explain these differences. A metaphor is defined above to be an act of the imagination, figuring one thing to be another. An allegory requires no such operation, nor is one thing figured to be another: it consists in choosing a subject having properties or circumstances resembling those of the principal subject; and the former is described in such a manner as to represent the laiter; the subject thus represented is kept out of view; we are left to discover it by reflection; and we are pleased with the discovery, because it is our own work. Quintilian* gives the following instance of an allegory:
O navis, referent in mare te novi
Horat. lib. I. ode 14..
* L. 8. cap. 6. sect. 2.
and explains it elegant.y in the following words: “Totusque ille Horatii locus, quo navim pro republica, fluctuum tempestates pro bellis civilibus, portum pro pace, atque concordia, dicit."
A finer or more correct allegory is not to be found than the following, in which a vineyard is made to represent God's own people the Jews.
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all which pass do pluck her ? *The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine, and the vineyard thy right hand hath planted, and the branch thou madest strong for thyself.
Psalm LXXX. In a word, an allegory is in every respect similar to an hieroglyphical painting, excepting only that words are used instead of colors. Their effects are precisely the same: a hieroglyphic raises two images in the mind; one seen, which represents one not seen : an allegory does the same; the representative subject is described; and resemblance leads us to apply the description to the subject represented In a figure of speech, there is no fiction of the imagination employed, as in a metaphor, nor a representative subject introduced, as in an allegory. This figure, as its name implies, regards the expression only, not the thought; and it may be defined, the using of a word in a sense different from what is proper to it
. Thus youth, or the beginning of life, is expressed figuratively by morning of life: morning is the beginning of the day; and in that view it is employed to signify the beginning of any other series, life especially, the progress of which is reckoned by days.
Figures of speech are reserved for a separate section; but metaphor and allegory are so much connected, that they must be handled together : the rules particularly for distinguishing the good from the bad, are common to both. We shall therefore proceed to these rules, after adding some examples to illustrate the nature of an allegory. Horace, speaking of his love to Pyrrha, which was now extinguished, expresses himself thus :
-Me tabulâ sacer
Carm, I. 1. ode 5,
To him that rules both wave and wind.
Phæbus volentem prælia me loqui,
Carm. 1. 5. ode 14.
Queen. Great lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss,
Third Part Henry VI. Act V. Sc. 4.
Oroonoko, Act III. Sc. 2. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. He fenced it, gathered out the stones thereof, planted it with the choicest vines, built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein: he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard : I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged, but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant.
Isaiah, V. 1. The rules that govern metaphors, and allegories, are of two kinds : the construction of these figures comes under the first kind : the propriety or impropriety of introduction comes under the other. I begin with rules of the first kind; some of which coincide with those already given for similes; some are peculiar to metaphors and allegories.
And, in the first place, it has been observed, that a simile cannot be agreeable where the resemblance is either too strong or too faint. This holds equally in metaphor and allegory; and the reason is the same in all. In the following instances, the resemblance is too faint to be agreeable. Malcolm.
-But there's no bottom, none
Macbeth, Act IV. Sc. 3. The best way to judge of this metaphor, is to convert it into a simile; which would be bad, because there is scarcely any resemblance between lust and a cistern, or betwixt enormous lust and a large cistern. Again:
He cannot buckle his distemper'd cause
Macbeth, Act V. Sc. 2.
Steep me in poverty to the very lips. Othello, Act IV. Sc. 2.