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for the most part, disclaimed the odious name of their parent Arius. It is amusing enough to delineate the form, and to trace the vegetation of a singular plant ; but the tedious detail of leaves without flowers, and of branches without fruit, would soon exhaust the patience, and disappoint the curiosity of the laborious student."
You will easily see that almost all the rules respecting metaphors are applicable to this kind of allegory. Dr. Blair, I must add, makes a very judicious distinction between these allegorical expressions and common metaphors. Besides the difference in point of length, “a metaphor," he observes, " always explains itself by the words that are connected with it, as when I say Achilles was a lion; an able minister is the pillar of the state; my lion and my pillar are sufficiently 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 unconnected with the literal meaning, the interpretation not so directly pointed out, but left to our own reflexion."
Though confounded under the same name, the second species of allegory to which I al
luded differs greatly from that of which we have been treating, that, I mean, which represents a subject under the colour of a fictitious narrative. The few successful attempts of this kind extant, sufficiently evince that it is a species of composition extremely difficult, and indeed it is only tolerable in the hands of a writer of the first order. Even Spencer, though abounding in all the beauties of poetry, is scarcely read, and never interests; yet I must make an exception in favour of the charming vision of Mirza, and some others in the Spectator. I may also recommend most of those in the Adventurer, from the fascinating pen of Dr. Hawksworth
You will perhaps think me hypercritical in making a distinetion between the metaphor, and what I term an allusion. The latter is however a slight reference to some well-known fact or matter of history, and I think can properly class neither under the head of metaphor nor allegory. An instance which will at once explain my meaning, presents itself to my memory from a well-known song of Prior
“ Obtain'd the chariot for a day,
A more beautiful instance is furnished by Mr. Gibbon :
They (the Jews) cultivated with ardour the theological system of the Athenian sage. But their national pride would have been mortified by a fair confession of their former poverty, and they boldly marked, as the sacred inheritance of their ancestors, the gold and jewels which they had so lately stolen from their Egyptian masters.”-GIBBON'S DECLINE AND FALL, C. 24.
The following will probably be ranked as a comparison :
“ If it be the obscure, the minute, the ceremonial part of religion for which we are contending, though the triumph be empty, the dispute is dangerous. Like the men of Ai we pursue perhaps some little party that flies before us, we are eager that not a straggler may escape; but when we look behind, our city is in flames."-DR. OGDEN'S SERMONS.
The figure called catachresis, which I hope I need not tell you means an abuse of words, is commonly no more than a violent or overstrained metaphor, as when we say of a person for whom we have little respect, « that he inflicted an obligation upon us." The vivid imagination of Mr. Burke was very fond of this figure: thus when he called the hair-brained revolutionists of France - architects of ruin, it was certainly a catachresis; but it was a very
All these figures you will easily perceive are derived from the relation of resemblance; and as metaphysicians have connected under one head the relations of resemblance and contrariety, I think I may be allowed to conclude this letter with the notice of an important figure derived from this latter quality, I mean the antithesis.
The antithesis in general, even the 'serious kind, may be considered as a species of wittia cism, and is therefore a much more favourite figure with the moderns than with the antients. For however inferior we may be to the classical writers in other instances, in wit and humour the moderns undoubtedly excel them. The only antient writer that I know who is very fond of the antithesis, is Seneca the rhetorician, in whose compositions this figure is continually and disgustingly introduced. Great as is
my veneration for Dr. Johnson, I cannot help sus. pecting that he early studied in the school of Seneca, and that he there imbibed that predilection for the antithesis so conspicuous in his otherwise incomparable writings.
The French were among the first of the moderns who cultivated the antithesis. The letters of Voiture, which are very studied, and not a little affected, are full of them. It is, however, the language of compliment, and what is called " a well turned compliment," is often no more than a pointed antithesis. Thus the writer, whom I just mentioned, tells his friend Balzac, “ that self-knowledge, which was a cause of humility to other men, must with him have a quite contrary effect."
Antitheses, seem to have been introduced, at least the abuse of them, into the English language in the time of Charles II. With other species of false wit they pervaded all the eloquence of the day. Even the pulpit was not free from them, and we are often disgusted with the harsh antithesis of South; take for example one sentence
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