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OF FIGURES. FIGURES

IGURES of Rhetoric are certain turns and modes of expression, which differ a little from the common and plain way of speaking, and are used to give more grace and force to the discourse. They consist either in the words or the thoughts. I comprise in the former what the rhetoricians call tropes, though there may be some difference in them.

It is of great importance to make youth observe in reading good authors, the use which true eloquence makes of Figures; the assistance it draws from them, not only to please, but to persuade and move the affections: and that, without them, expression is weak, and falls into a kind of monotony, and is almost like a

a body without a soul. Quintilian gives a just idea of them by a very natural comparison. [a] A statue, says he, quite uniform, and of a piece from top to bottom, with the head strait upon the shoulders, the arms hanging down, and the feet joined together, would have no gracefulness, and would seem to be without motion, and lifeless. It is the different atti

, . tudes of the feet, the hands, the countenance, and head, which being varied an infinite number of ways,

[a] Recti corporis vel minima Ideo nec ad unum modum formate gratia est. Neque enim adversa sit manus, & in vultu mille species. facies, & demissa brachia, & juncti ... Quam quidem gratiam & delecpedes, & à summis ad ima rigens tationem afferur. figuræ quæque in opus. Flexus ille, & ut sic dixecim sensibus, quæque in verbis sunt. motus, dat actum quemdam effictis. Quint. l. 2. c. 14. VOL. II.

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according to the diversity of subjects, communicate a sort of action and motion to the works of art, and give them, as it were, life and soul.

FIGURES OF WORDS.

[b] The Metaphor is a Figure which substitutes the figurative terms it borrows from other subjects, as it were by a kind of exchange, in the room of proper words, which are either wanting, or have not energy enough. Thus gemma was called the bud of the vine, there being no proper word to express it: incensus irâ, inflammutus jurore, were used instead of iratus, furens, in order to paint the effect of those passions the better. We see by this, that what was at first invented thro' necessity, from the defect or want of proper words, has since contributed towards embellishing speech; much after the same manner as clothes were at first employed to cover the body, and defend it against the cold, and served afterwards to adorn it. [c] Every metaphor therefore must either find a void in the place it is to fill up, or, at least (in case it banishes a proper word) must have more force than the word to which it is substituted.

This is one of the Figures that gives most ornament, strength, and grandeur to discourse; and the reader may have observed, in the several passages I liave cited, that the most exquisite expressions are generally metaphorical, and derive all their merit from that figure. [2] Indeed, it has the peculiar advan

d tage, according to Quintilian's observation, to shine

[b] Tertius ille modus transfer- non habeas, aliunde sumas. Illa rendi verbi latè patet, quem neces- paulo audaciores, quæ non inopiam sitas genuit inopiâ coacta primò & indicant, sed orationi splendoris aliangustiis, post autem delectatio ju- quid accerfunt. 3. de Orat, n. 155, cunditasque celebravit. Nam ut 156. vestis frigoris depellendi causa re- [C] Metaphora aut vacantem ocperta primò, postadhiberi cæpta est cupare locum debet; aut, si in aliead ornatum etiam corporis & digni- num venit, plus valere eo quod extatem : sic verbi translatio instituta pellit. Quint. I. 8. c. 6. est inopiæ causa, frequentata delec- [d] Ita jucunda atque nitida, ut in tationis. . . Ergo he translationes oratione quamlibet clarâ, proprio quasi mutationes sunt, cùm, quod tamen lumine eluceat. Ibid.

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from its own light in the most celebrated pieces, and to distinguish itself most in them: it enriches a language in some measure, by an infinity of expressions, by substituting the figurative in the room of the simple or plain; it throws a great variety into the style ; it raises and aggrandizes the most minute and common things ; [e] it gives us great pleasure by the ingenious boldness with which it strikes out in quest of foreign expressions, instead of the natural ones which are at hand; it deceives the mind agreeably, by shewing it one thing and meaning another. In fine, it gives a body, if we may say so, to the most spirited things, and makes them almost the objects of hearing and sight by the sensible images it delineates to the imagination.

In order to give an idea of the force of metaphors, great care must be taken to begin always with explaining the plain and natural sense, upon which the figurative is founded, and without which the latter could not be well understood.

The surest, and likewise the easiest way to represent the beauty of a metaphor, and, in general, to explain the beautiful passages in authors with justness, is to substitute natural expressions instead of the figurative, and to divest a very bright phrase of all ornaments, by reducing it to a simple proposition. This was Cicero's method; and what better method can we follow? He explains the force and energy of a metaphorical expression in these verses of an ancient poet.

Vive, Ulysses, dum licet: Oculis postremum lumen radiatum rape.

Ile performs it thus: [f] Non dixit cape, non pete ; haberet enim moram sperantis diutius esse sese

(e] In suorum verborum maxi- tione, neque tamen aberrat, quæ ma copia, tamen homines aliena maxima est delectatio . . . vel quòd multo magis, si sunt ratione trans- omnis translatio, quæ quidem lata, delectant. Id accidere credo, sumpta ratione est, ad sensus ipsos vel quòd ingenii specimen est quod- admovetur, maximè oculorum, qui dam, transilire ante pedes posita, & est sensus acerrimus. Lib. 3. de alia longè repetita sumere: vel quòd Orat. n. 159, 160. is, qui audit, aliò ducitur cogita- [f] Lib. 3. de Orat, n. 162. A 2

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victurum; sed rape. Hoc verbum est ad id aptatum,

. ; quod antè dixerat, dum licet. Horace uses the same thought.

[f] Dona presentis cape lætus horæ. An able interpreter asserts, that we must read rape instead of cape. I doubt whether he be in the right; for the man pourtrayed by Horace, is one who is free from all care and uneasiness; and by flattering himself with the hopes of a long life, enjoys peaceably the pleasures which each day offers; and the word cape agrees very well with such a condition; whereas in the ancient poet, Ulysses is exhorted to lay hold of the present moments, lest they should escape him, and he be deprived of them by a sudden and unexpected death : Postremum lumen radiatum rape. Cicero employed a word like this full as gracefully: [g] Quò quisque est solertior 8: ingeniosior, hóc docet iracundiùs & laboriosiùs. Quod enim ipse celeriter arripuit : id cùm tardè percipi videt, discruciatur. “By “how much the more ingenious and skilful every “man is, by so much the more painfully does he

teach others; for what he himself has quickly

caught up, he is tortured at finding others so slow “ in perceiving.” It is enough to observe, that he does not say, facilè didicit, but celeriter arripuit : the difference is very obvious.

When the metaphor is continued, and does not consist in one word, it is called an Allegory. Equidem cæteras tempestates & procellas in illis duntarat fluctibus concionum semper Miloni putavi esse subeundas. He might have said plainly, Equidem multa pericula in populi concionibus semper Miloni putari esse subeunda.

[h] Remember the beginning and progress of the war, which, though but a spark in the beginning, now sets all Europe in a frame.

Those clouds which arise from dislike or suspicion, never appeared in his serene countenance.

His virtues made him known to the public, and pro[f] Ode 8. 1. 3. (8) Pro Quint. Rosc. n. 31. [] M. Flechier,

duced

duced that first

flower of reputation, which spreads an odour [i] more agreeable than perfumes, orer every other part of a glorious life.

[l] When we use this Figure, we must always observe to continue the simile, and not fall abruptly from one image to another; nor, for example, conclude with a conflagration, after we began with a storm: Horace is chargcd with thạt error in this line:

Et malè tornatos incudi reddere versus. Where he joins two ideas widely different, the turning wheel, and the anvil. But some interpreters excuse him. I know not whether Cicero may not be charged with the same fault in this passage of the second book de Oratore. [1] Ut cum in šole ambulem, etiamsi ob aliam causam ambulem, fieri tamen naturâ ut colorer: sic, cum istos libros ad Misenum studiosiùs legerim, sentio orationem meam illorum quasi cantu colorari. “As when I walk in the sun, though my thoughts are

otherways employed, yet is my colour changed by

its rays; so when I read with care, I find my style "coloured, as if by a charm.” How can we reconcile these two words, cantuand colorari? and what relation can there be between cantus and a piece of writing ?

The periphrasis, or circumlocution. This Figure is sometimes absolutely necessary, as when we speak of things which decency will not allow us to express in their own names; [m] ad requisita naturi. 'Tis often used for ornament only, which is very common with poets; and sometimes to express a thing the more nagnificently, which would otherwise appear very low and mean ; or to cover or soften the harshness of some propositions, which would be shocking, if shewn in a naked and simple dress,

[1] Melius est nomen bonum, enim cùm initium à tempestate quam unguenta pretiosa. Ecclef. sumpserunt, incendio aut ruinâ fini.

unt; quz est inconscquentia rerum [k] Id imprimis est custodien- tætissima. Quint. lib. dum, ut quo ex genere cceperis [?] Lib. 2. de Orat. n. 60. franslationis, hoc desinas. Multi [m] Sallust,

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. c. 6.

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