Imágenes de páginas

Translatisque aliunde notis, longequi petitis,
Ne nimiam ostendas, quærendo talia, curam.
Namque aliqui exercent vim duram, et rebus iniquo
Nativam eripiunt formam, indignantibus ipsis
Invitasque jubent alienos sumere vultus
Haud magis imprudens mihi erit, et luminis expers,
Qui puero ingentes habitus det ferre gigantis,
Quam siquis stabula alta lares appellet equinos,
Aut crines magnæ genitricis gramina dicat. Poet. III. 148.
But though our fond indulgence grants the muse
A thousand liberties in difierent views,
Whene'er you choose an image to express
In foreign terms, and scorn the native dress;
Yet be discreet, nor strain the point too far,
Let the transition still enforced appear,
Nor e'er discover an excess of care :
For some, we know, with awkward violence
Quite change the genuine figure, and deface
The native shape with every living grace;
And force unwilling objects to put on
An alien face, and features not their own.
A low conceit in disproportioned terms,
Looks like a boy dressed up in giant's arms;
Blind to the truth, all reason they exceed,
Who name a stall the palace of the steed,

Or grass the tresses of great Rhæa's head. Thirdly, in a figure of speech, every circumstance ought to be avoided that agrees with the proper sense only, not the figurative sense; for it is the latter that expresses the thought, and the former serves for no other purpose than to måke harmony:

Zacynthus green with ever-shady groves,
And Ithaca, presumptuous boast their loves;
Obtruding on my choice a second lord,

They press the Hymenean rite abhorr’d. Odyssey, XIX. 152. Zacynthus here standing figuratively for the inhabitants, the description of the island is quite out of place: it puzzles the reader, by making him doubt whether the word ought to be taken in its proper or figurative sense.

Write, my Queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.

Cymbeline, Act I. Sc. 2. The disgust one has to drink ink in reality, is not to the purpose where the subject is drinking ink figuratively.

In the fourth place, to draw consequences from a figure of speech, as if the word were to be understood literally, is a gross absurdity, for it is confounding truth with fiction.

Be Moubray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford.

Richard II. Act I. Sc. 2. Sin may be imagined heavy in a figurative sense: but weight in a proper sense belongs to the accessory only; and therefore to describe the effects of weight, is to desert the principal subject, and to convert the accessory into a principal:

Cromwell. How does your Grace?

Wolsey. Why, well;
Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell

I know myself now, and I feel within me
A peace above all earthly dignities,
A still and quiet conscience. The King has cur'd me,
I humbly thank his Grace; and from these shoulders,
These ruin'd pillars, out of pity, taken
A load would sink a navy, too much honor.

Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 2. Ulysses speaking of Hector:

I wonder now how yonder city stands,
When we have here the base and pillar by us.

Troilus and Cressida, Act IV. Sc. 5. Othello. No; my heart is turn'd to stone: I strike it, and it hurts my hand.

Othello, Act IV. Sc. 1.
Not less, even in this despicable now,
Than when my name fill’d Afric with affrights,
And froze your hearts beneath your torrid zone.

Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, Act I.
How long a space, since first I lov’d, it is !

To look into a glass I fear,
And am surpris'd with wonder when I miss

Gray hairs and wrinkles there. Cowley, Vol. I. p. 86.
I chose the flourishing'st tree in all the park,

With freshest boughs and fairest head;
I cut my love into his gentle bark,

And in three days behold 'tis dead;
My very written flames so violent be,
They've burnt and wither'd up the tree

Cowley, Vol. I. p. 136.
Ah, mighty Love, that it were inward heat
Which made this precious limbeck sweat !

But what, alas ! ah what does it avail,
That she weeps tears so wondrous cold,
As scarce the ass's hoof can hold,
So cold, that I admire they fall not hail.

Cowley, Vol. I. p. 132. Such a play of words is pleasant in a ludicrous poem.

Almeria. O Alphonso, Alphonso !
Devouring seas have wash'd thee from my sight,
No time shall rase thee from my memory;
No, I will live to be thy monument:
The cruel ocean is no more thy tomb;
But in my heart thou art interr’d.

Mourning Bride, Act I. Sc. 1. This would be very right, if there were any inconsistence, in being interred in one place really, and in another place figuratively.

Je crains que cette saison
Ne nous amene la peste ;
La gueule du chien celeste
Vomit feu sur l'horison.
Afin que je m'en delivre,
Je veux lire ton gros livre
Jusques au dernier feuillet:
Tout ce que ta plume trace,
Robinet, à de la glace
faire trembler Juillet.


In me tota ruens Venus

Cyprum deseruit. Horat. Carm. I. I. Ode 19.
Her Cyprus now deserting quite,

Venus on me careers with all her might. From considering that a word used in a figurative sense suggests at the same time its proper meaning, ive discover a fifth rule, that we ought not to employ a word in a figurative sense, the proper sense of which is inconsistent or incongruous with the subject : for every inconsistency, and even incongruity, though in the expression only and not real, is unpleasant :

Interea genitor Tyberini ad fluminis undam
Vulnera siccubat lymphis

Æneid, X. 833
Meantime his father, now no father stood,
And dried his wounds by Tyber's yellow flood.

Tres adeo incertos cæca caligine soles
Erramus pelago, totidem sine sidere noctes.

Æneid, III. 203.
Three starless nights the doubtful navy stays

Without distinction, and three sunless days. The foregoing rule may be extended to form a sixth, that no epithet ought to be given to the figurative sense of a word that agrees not also with its proper sense:

Dicat Opuntiæ
Frater Megillæ, quo beatus

Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 27.
Let the brother of the Opuntian fair
Rather his lovesick joys, and darling flame declare.

Parcus deorum cultor, et infrequens,
Insanientis dum sapientiæ
Consultus erro.

Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 34.
A sparing and unfrequent guest,
In Jove's high temple at the best,

While mad philosophy my mind pursued. Seventhly, the crowding into one period or thought of different figures of speech, is not less faulty than crowding metaphors in that manner: the mind is distracted in the quick transition from one image to another, and is puzzled instead of being pleased :

I am of ladies most deject and wretched,

That suck'd the honey of his music-vows. Hamlet.
My bleeding bosom sickens at the sound. Odyssey, I. 439.

Ah miser,
Quantâ laboras in Charybdi!

Digne puer meliore flanmâ.
Que saga, quis te solvere Thessalis
Magus venenis, quis poterit deus ?
Vix illigatum te triformi
Pegasus expediet Chimerâ.

Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 27.
Ah wretch, how thou art hampered in a strait-
A lad whose matchless worth deserved a better fate.

What sorceress, what magic art,
What power divine can ease thy smart!

E'en Pegasus to clear thee will be loth

From one composed of whimsy, wantonness and wrath. Eighthly, if crowding figures be bad, it is still worse to graft one figure upon another : for instance,

While his keen falchion drinks the warriors' lives. Iliad, XI. 211. A falchion drinking the warriors' blood is a figure built upon resemblance, which is passable. But then in the expression, lives is again put for blood ; and by thus grafting one figure upon another, the expression is rendered obscure and unpleasant.

Ninthly, intricate and involved figures that can scarcely be analyzed, or reduced to plain language, are least of all tolerable : Votis incendimus aras.

Æneid, III. 279.
We inflame the altars with vows.

Onerantque canistris
Dona laboratæ Cereris.

Æneid, VIII. 180.
They load the baskets with the gifts of labored Ceres.
Vulcan to the Cyclopes:

Arma acri facienda viro : nunc viribus usus,
Nunc manibus rapidis, omni nunc arte magistra:
Præcipitate moras.

Æneid, VIII. 441.
Arms for a hero forge-arms that require
Your forcehasten delay-prepare your fire.

Huic gladio, perque ærea suta
Per tunicam squalentem auro, latus haurit apertum.

Æneid, X. 313.
But armor scaled with gold was no defence
Against the fated sword which opened wide
His plated shield and drank his open side.

Semotique puris tarda necessitas

Lethi, corripuit gradum. Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 3.
And for a long delay at first designed

The last extremity advanced
And urged the march of death, and all his pangs enhanced.

Scribêris Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Mæonii carminis alite.

Horat. Carm. lib. I. Ode 6.
Brave and victorious in the fight
Our Varius with Mæonian flight

Shall thine achievements blaze.
Else shall our fates be number'd with the dead. Iliad, V. 294.
Commutual death the fate of war confounds.

Iliad, VIII. 85. and XI. 117. Speaking of Proteus,

Instant he wears, elusive of the rape,
The mimic force of every savage shape. Odyssey, IV. 563.
Rolling convulsive on the floor, is seen
The piteous object of a prostrate queen.

Ibid. IV. 952.
The mingling tempest waves its gloom.

Autumn, 337. A various sweetness swells the gentle race.

Ibid. 640. A sober calm fleeces unbounded ether.

Ibid. 967. The distant waterfall swells in the breeze. Winter, 738.

In the tenth place, when a subject is introduced by its proper name, it is absurd to attribute to it the properties of a different subject to which the word is sometimes applied in a figurative sense :

Hear me, oh Neptune! thou whose arms are hurld
From shore to shore, and gird the solid world.

Odyssey, IX. 617. Neptune is here introduced personally, and not figuratively for the ocean: the description therefore, which is only applicable to the latter, is altogether improper.

It is not sufficient, that a figure of speech be regularly constructed, and be free from blemish: it requires taste to discern when it is proper, and when improper; and taste, I suspect is our only guide. One, however, may gather from reflection and experience, that ornaments and graces suit not any of the dispiriting passions, nor are proper for expressing any thing grave and important. In familiar conversation, they are in some measure ridiculous: Prospero, in the Tempest, speaking to his daughter Miranda, says,

The fringed curtains of thine eyes advance,

And say what thou seest yond. No exception can be taken to the justness of the figure; and circumstances may be imagined to make it proper; but it is certainly not proper in familiar conversation.

In the last place, though figures of speech have a charming effect when accurately constructed and properly introduced, they ought, however, to be scattered with a sparing hand: nothing is more luscious, and nothing consequently more satiating, than redundant ornaments of any kind.



Writers should choose subjects adapted to their genius—In history, the reflections

to be chaste and solid- The commencement of an epic poem to be modest Subjects intended for entertainment solely, to be described as they appear, and not as they really are—Objects in both narration and description, to be painted with great accuracy-A useless circumstance to be suppressed— The power of a simple circumstance happily selected— The drawing of characters, the master stroke in description-In this Tacitus, Shakspeare, and Ossian excel-Verbal dress—The emotion raised by the sound and the sense to be concordant-A stronger impression made by an incident upon an eye-witness than when heard at second hand—The effect of abstract or general terms in composition for amusement, not good—In the fine arts, the capital object to be placed in the strongest point of view-A concise comprehensive style, a great ornament in narration–Tautology to be avoided-An object ugly to the sight, not so when represented by colors or by words—Illustrated, from painting, and from language.


many critics after him, exhort writers to choose a subject adapted to their genius. Such observations would multiply rules of criticism without end; and at any rate belong not to the

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