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Structure of Sentences.... Harmony.

tween sound and motion there is no natural affinity; yet in the imagination there is a strong one; as is evident from the connexion between music and dancing. The poet can therefore give us a lively idea of the kind of motion he would describe, by the help of sounds which in our imagination correspond with that motion. Long syllables naturally excite an idea of slow motion; as in this line of Virgil,

Olli inter sese magna vi brachia tollunt.

A succession of short syllables gives the impression of quick motion; as,

Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus.

The works of Homer and Virgil abound with instances of this beauty; which are so often quoted, and so well known, that it is unnecessary to produce them.

The third set of objects, which the sound of words is capable of representing, consists of emotions and passions of the mind. Between sense and sound there appears to be no natural resemblance. But, if the arrangement of syllables by their sound alone recal one set of ideas more readily than another, and dispose the mind for entering into that affection which the poet intends to raise ; such arrangement may with propriety be said to resemble the sense. Thus, when pleasure, joy, and agreeable objects are described by one who feels his subject, the language naturally runs in smooth, liquid and flowing numbers.

Origin and Nature of Figurative Language.

-Namque ipsa decoram

Cæsariem nato genetrix, lumenque juventæ
Purpureum, et lætos oculis afflarat honores.

Brisk and lively sensations exact quicker and more animated numbers.

-Juvenum manus emicat ardens

Littus in Hesperium.

Melancholy and gloomy subjects are naturally connected with slow measures and long words.

In those deep solitudes and awful cells,

Where heavenly pensive contemplation dwells.

Abundant instances of this kind are suggested by a moderate acquaintance with good poets, either ancient or modern.


FIGURES may be described to be that language which is prompted either by the imagination or passions. They are commonly divided by rhetoricians into two great classes, figures of words, and figures of thought. The former are commonly called tropes, and consist in a word's being used to signify something different from its original meaning. Hence, if the word be changed, the figure is destroyed. Thus, for instance, "Light ariseth to the upright in darkness." Here the trope consists in "light and darkness” not being taken literally, but substi

Origin and Nature of Figurative Language.

tuted for comfort and adversity; to which conditions of life they are supposed to bear some resemblance. The other class, termed figures of thought, supposes the figure to consist in the sentiment only, while the words are used in their literal sense; as in exclamations, interrogations, apostrophes and comparisons; where though the words be varied, or translated from one language into another, the same figure is still preserved. This distinction however is of small importance; as practice cannot be assisted by it; nor is it always very perspicuous.

Tropes are derived in part from the barrenness of language; but principally from the influence which the imagination has over all language. The imagination never contemplates any one idea or object as single and alone, but as accompanied by others which may be considered as its accessories. These accessories often operate more forcibly upon the mind, than the principal idea itself. They are perhaps in their nature more agreeable, or more familiar to our conceptions; or remind us of a greater variety of important circumstances. Hence the name of the accessory or correspondent idea is substituted; although the principal has a proper and well known name of its own. Thus, for example, when we design to point out the period in which a state enjoyed most reputation or glory, we might easily employ the proper words for expressing this; but as this in our imagination is readily connected with the flourishing period of a plant or tree, we prefer this correspondent idea, and say, "The Roman Empire flourished most under Augustus." The leader of a faction is a plain ex

Origin and Nature of Figurative Language.

pression; but, because the head is the principal part of the human body, and is supposed to direct all the animal operations; resting on this resemblance, we say, "Catiline was the head of

his party."

We shall now examine, why tropes and figures contribute to the beauty and grace of style. By them language is enriched and made more copious. Hence words and phrases are multiplied for expressing all sorts of ideas; for describing even the smallest differences; the nicest shades and colours of thought; which by proper words alone cannot possibly be expressed. They also give dignity to style, which is degraded by the familiarity of common words. Figures have the same effect on language, that a rich and splendid apparel has on a person of rank and dignity. In prose compositions assistance of this kind is often requisite; to poetry it is essential. To say, "The sun rises," is common and trite; but it becomes a magnificent image, as expressed by


But yonder comes the powerful king of day
Rejoicing in the east.-

Figures furnish the pleasure of enjoying two objects presented at the same time to our view, without confusion; the principal idea, together with its accessory, which gives it the figurative appearance. When, for example, instead of "youth," we say, "the morning of life;" the fancy is instantly entertained with all the corresponding circumstances between these two objects. At the same instant we behold a certain period of

Origin and Nature of Figurative Language.

human life, and a certain time of the day so connected, that the imagination plays between them with delight, and views at once two similar objects without embarrassment.

Figures are also attended with the additional advantage of giving us a more clear and striking view of the principal object, than if it were expressed in simple terms, and freed from its accessory idea. They exhibit the object on which they are employed in a picturesque form; they render an abstract conception in some degree an object of sense; they surround it with circumstances, which enable the mind to lay hold of it steadily, and to contemplate it fully. By a well adapted figure, even conviction is assisted, and a truth is impressed upon the mind with additional liveliness and force. Thus in the following passage of Dr. Young: "When we dip too deep in pleasure, we always stir a sediment that renders it impure and noxious." When an image presents such a resemblance between a moral and sensible idea, it serves like an argument from analogy, to enforce what the author advances, and to induce belief.

All tropes being founded on the relation which one object bears to another, the name of the one may be substituted for that of the other; and by this the vivacity of the idea is generally increased. The relation between a cause and its effect is one of the first and most obvious. Hence the cause is sometimes figuratively put for the effect. Thus Mr. Addison, writing of Italy, says,

Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise,
And the whole year in gay confusion lies.

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