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My early visitation, and my last
At even, which I bred up with tender hand
From your first opening buds, and gave you names :
Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial. fount?
This is the real language of nature and of female passion.
In the management of this sort of personification two rules are to be observed. First, never attempt it, un less prompted by strong passion, and never continue it when the passion begins to subside. The second rule is, never personify an object which has not some dignity in itself, and which is incapable of making a proper figure in the elevation to which we raise it. Το address the body of a deceased friend is natural; but to address the clothes which he wore, introduces low and degrading ideas. So likewise, addressing the several parts of the body, as if they were animated, is not agreeable to the dignity of passion. For this reason the following passage in Pope's Eloisa to Abelard is liable to censure.
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
Here the name of Abelard is first personified; which, as the name of a person often stands for the person himself, is exposed to no objection. Next, Eloisa personifies her own heart; and, as the heart is a dignified part of the human frame, and is often put for the mind, this also may pass without censure. But, when she addresses her hand, and tells it not to write his name, this is forced and unnatural. Yet the figure becomes still worse, when she exhorts her tears to blot out what her hand had written. The two last lines are indeed altogether unsuitable to the tenderness which breathes through the rest of that inimitable
APOSTROPHE is an address to a real person; but one who is either absent or dead, as if he were present, and listening to us. This figure is in boldness a degree lower than personification; since it requires less effort of imagination to suppose persons present who are dead or absent, than to animate insensible beings, and direct cur discourse to them. The poems of Ossian abound in beautiful instances of this figure. "Weep on the rocks of roaring winds, O Maid of
Inistore. Bend thy fair head over the waves, thou "fairer than the ghost of the hills, when it moves in a "sun beam at noon over the silence of Morven. He is "fallen! Thy youth is low; pale beneath the sword of "Cuchullin."
TION, EXCLAMATION, AND OTHER FIGURES OF SPEECH.
A COMPARISON or simile is, when the resemblance between two objects is expressed in form, and usually pursued more fully than the nature of a metaphor admits. As when we say, "The actions of princes
are like those great rivers, the course of which every 66 one beholds, but their springs have been seen by few." This short instance will show that a happy comparison is a sort of sparkling ornament which adds lustre and beauty to discourse.
All comparisons may be reduced under two heads; explaining and embellishing comparisons. For, when a writer compares an object with any other thing, it always is or ought to be, with a view to make us understand that object more clearly, or to render it more pleasing. Even abstract reasoning admits explaining comparisons. For instance, the distinction between the powers of sense and imagination is in Mr. Harris's Hermes illustrated by a simile: "As wax," says he, "would not be adequate to the purpose of signature, "if it had not the power to retain as well as to re"ceive the impression; the same holds of the soul "with respect to sense and imagination. Sense is its receptive power, and imagination its retentive. Had "it sense without imagination, it would not be as wax L
"but as water; where, though all impressions be in "stantly made, yet as soon as they are made, they are "lost." In comparisons of this kind, perspicuity and usefulness are chiefly to be studied.
But embellishing comparisons are those which most frequently occur. Resemblance, it has been observed, is the foundation of this figure. Yet resemblance must not be taken in too strict a sense for actual similitude. Two objects may raise a train of concordant ideas in the mind, though they resemble each other, strictly speaking, in nothing. For example, to describe the nature of soft and melancholy music, Ossian says, "The "music of Carryl was, like the memory of joys that " are past, pleasant and mournful to the soul." This is happy and delicate; yet no kind of music bears any resemblance to the memory of past joys.
We shall now consider when comparisons may be introduced with propriety. Since they are the language of imagination, rather than of passion, an author can hardly commit a greater fault, than in the midst of passion to introduce a simile. Our writers of tragedies often err in this respect. Thus Addison in his Cato makes Portius, just after Lucia had bid him farewell forever, express himself in a studied comparison.
Thus o'er the dying lamp the unsteady flame
Thou must not go; my soul still hovers o'er thee,
As comparison is not the style of strong passion, so, when designed for embellishment, it is not the language of a mind totally unmoved. Being a figure of dignity, it always requires some elevation in the subject, to make it proper. It supposes the imagination to be enlivened, though the heart is not agitated by passion. The language of simile lies in the middle region between the highly pathetic and the very humble style. It is however a sparkling ornament; and must consequently dazzle and fatigue, if it recur too often. Similes even in poetry should be employed with moderation; but in prose much more so; other wise the style will become disgustingly luscious, and the ornament lose its beauty and effect.
We shall now consider the nature of those objects from which comparisons should be drawn.
In the first place, they must not be drawn from things which have too near and obvious a resemblance of the object with which they are compared. The pleasure we receive from the act of comparing, arises from the discovery of likenesses among things of differ ent species, where we should not at first sight expect a
But, in the second place, as comparisons ought not to be founded on likenesses too obvious, much less ought they to be founded on those which are too faint and distant. These, instead of assisting, strain the fan