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cy to comprehend them, and throw no light upon the subject.
In the third place, the object from which a comparison is drawn, ought never to be an unknown object, nor one of which few people can have a clear idea. There fore similes, founded on philosophical discoveries, or on any thing, with which persons of a particular trade only, or a particular profession, are acquainted, produce not their proper effect. They should be drawn from those illustrious and noted objects, which most readers have either seen, or can strongly conceive.
In the fourth place, in compositions of a serious or elevated kind, similes should never be drawn from low or mean objects. These degrade and vilify; whereas similes are generally intended to embellish and dignify. Therefore, except in burlesque writings, or where an object is meant to be degraded, mean ideas should never be presented.
ANTITHESIS is founded on the contrast or opposition of two objects. By contrast, objects opposed to each other, appear in a stronger light. Beauty, for instance, never appears so charming as when contrasted with ugliness. Antithesis therefore may, on many occasions, be used advantageously to strengthen the impression which we propose that any object should make. Thus Cicero, in his oration for Milo, represent ing the improbability of Milo's designing to take away the life of Clodius, when every thing was unfavourable
to such design, after he had omitted many opportuni ties of effecting such a purpose, heightens our convic tion of this improbability by a skilful use of this figure. "Quem igitur cum omnium gratia interficere noluit; "hunc voluit cum aliquorum querela? Quem jure, 66 quem loco, quem tempore, quem impune, non est ausus ; "hunc injuria, iniquo loco, alieno tempore, periculo capi"tis, non dubitavit occidere ?" Here the antithesis is rendered complete by the words and members of the sentence, expressing the contrasted objects, being similarly constructed, and made to correspond with each other.
We must however acknowledge that frequent use of antithesis, especially where the opposition in the words is nice and quaint, is apt to make style unpleas ing. A maxim or moral saying very properly receives this form; because it is supposed to be the effect of meditation, and is designed to be engraven on the memory, which recals it more easily by the aid of Contrasted expressions. But, where several such sentences succeed each other; where this is an author's favourite and prevailing mode of expression; his style is exposed to censure.
INTERROGATIONS and Exclamations are passionate figures. The literal use of interrogation is to ask a question; but, when men are prompted by passion whatever they would affirm, or deny with great earnestness, they naturally put in the form of a ques
tion; expressing thereby the firmest confidence of the truth of their own opinion; and appealing to their hearers for the impossibility of the contrary. Thus in scripture; "God is not a man, that he should lie ; "nor the Son of Man, that he should repent. Hath "he said it? And shall he not do it? Hath he spoken "it? And shall he not make it good?"
Interrogations may be employed in the prosecution of close and earnest reasoning; but exclamations belong only to stronger emotions of the mind; to surprise, anger, joy, grief, and the like. These, being natural signs of a moved and agitated mind, always, when properly employed, make us sympathize with those who use them, and enter into their feelings. Nothing, however, has a worse effect, than frequent and unseasonable use of exclamations. Young, unex. perienced writers suppose that by pouring them forth plenteously they render their compositions warm and animated. But the contrary follows; they render them frigid to excess. When an author is always calling upon us to enter into transports, which he has said nothing to inspire, he excites our disgust and indignation.
Another figure of speech, fit only for animated composition, is called VISION; when, instead of relat ing something that is past, we use the present tense, and describe it as if passing before our eyes. Thus Cicero in his fourth oration against Catiline; " Vide
"or enim mihi hanc urbem videre, lucem orbis terrarum " atque arcem omnium gentium, subito uno incendia conci"dentum; cerno animo sepulta in patria miseros atque in"sepultos acervos civium; versatur mihi ante oculos "aspectus Cethegi, et fùror, in vestra cæde bacchantis." This figure has great force when it is well executed, and when it flows from genuine enthusiasm. Otherwise, it shares the same fate with all feeble attempts toward passionate figures; that of throwing ridicule upon the author, and leaving the reader more cool and uninterested than he was before..
The last figure which we shall mention, and which is of frequent use among all public speakers, is CLIMAX. It consists in an artful exaggeration of all the circumstances of some object or action which we wish to place in a strong light. It operates by a gradual rise of one circumstance above another, till our idea is raised to the highest pitch. We shall give an instance of this figure from a printed pleading of a celebrated lawyer in a charge to the jury in the case of a woman, who was accused of murdering her own child. "Gentlemen, if "one man had any how slain another; if an adversary "had killed his opposer; or a woman occasioned the "death of her enemy; even these criminals would have "been capitally punished by the Cornelian law. But, "if this guiltless infant, who could make no enemy, "had been murdered by its own nurse, what punish"ments would not the mother have demanded? With
"what cries and exclamations would she have stunned "your ears? What shall we say then, when a woman, "guilty of homicide; a mother, of the murder of her "innocent child, hath comprised all those misdeeds in "one single crime; a crime, in its own nature, detes"table; in a woman prodigious; in a mother incredi"ble; and perpetrated against one whose age called for "compassion; whose near relation claimed affection; " and whose innocence deserved the highest favour?” Such regular climaxes, however, though they have great beauty, yet at the same time have the appearance of art and study; and, therefore, though they may be admitted into formal harangues, yet they are not the language of passion which seldom proceeds by steps so regular.
OF STYLE. DIF
NERVOUSDRY, PLAIN, NEAT, ELEGANT, FLOWERY.
THAT different subjects ought to be treated in different kinds of style, is a position so obvious, that it requires no illustration. Every one knows that treatises of philosophy should not be composed in the same style with orations. It is equally apparent, that different parts of the same composition require a variation in the style. Yet amid this variety, we still expect to find in the compositions of any one man some degree of