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W no that knows any thing of Alpine scenery—the wide fields of eternal snow-the avalanche, the precipice, and the nooks and dells, embosomed amidst these rugged elevations, can let his mind dwell on the scene to which a resemblance is here traced, and feel no emotion of sublimity and beauty ? Comparisons, which thus suggest objects and scenes adapted from the original constitution of the mind to call forth emotions of taste, are called embellishing comparisons, and when naturally suggested and well sustained, contribute much to the beauty of style.
From the remarks now made, and the principles stated, the student is prepared to judge of comparisons, as ornaments of style. In examining a particular instance, he will first consider the nature of the resemblance on which it is founded,—whether it be not too obvious, whether it be naturally suggested, and whether the object to which a resemblance is traced be sufficiently familiar. He will next inquire as to the kind of comparison, whether the instance under examination is illustrative or analogical, or embellishing, or designed to excite some particular emotion; and thus he will judge of the propriety of its introduction in the place where it is found, and of its bearing on the leading design of the writer. He may then ask more generally, on what principle is the instance founded, as an attempt to excite an emotion of taste—whether on fitness, or association, or on the original constitution of the mind.
From the consideration of the Formal Comparison, I proceed to the Implied Comparison, or Metaphor.
Let us suppose, that a writer wishes to show his readers, how soon the effect of sorrow on the minds of the young is dispelled. While this thought has possession of the mind, imagination brings up to his view a young and vigorous tree, in the bark of which an inci
sion has been made, but the wound from the rapidity of the growth of the tree is fast closing over. blance between the thought in his mind and the object thus presented, his taste approves as illustrative and striking, and he wishes to place it before the view of others. The most obvious method of doing this is as follows:-“ As the wound made in the bark of the
young and healthy tree, soon closes over, so sorrows in the minds of the young, are of short duration.” By this formal comparison, the object of the writer would be effected. His readers would perceive the resemblance, and their good taste would approve this attempt to aid the distinctness of their view. But let us suppose, that instead of this formal comparison, he expresses himself as follows: :-“What are the sorrows of the
young ! Their growing minds soon close above the wound.” This expression brings before the mind the same objects as are brought by the comparison; the same resemblance is traced, and the same aid is given to the distinctness of our view. But the resemblance, instead of being distinctly stated, is implied. Upon reading the passage, it at once occurs to us, that some of the words used are joined to objects, to which they are not usually applied. We are not wont to speak of the mind as growing, and of the wounds of the mind as closing over. From this unusual application of words, the imagination is set in action, and brings up to view the resemblance, just as the writer designed it should be seen. This then, is what is called an IMPLIED COMPARISON or a METAPHOR.
So far as the comparison and metaphor are the same, it is unnecessary to repeat the principles and rules stated with reference to the former, since they apply alike to both. But in thus implying a resemblance by the unusual application of language, there is an exertion of skill, which is not found in its more formal statement. And hence, when the metaphor is extended through different clauses, an emotion of taste may be excited by the fitness of the different parts in their connexion with each other, and with the whole. There is also need of cautions which are not required in the use of the Comparison. Some happy instances of the metaphor will therefore be pointed out, and such cautions given, as may guard us from faults in the unusual application of language.
EXAMPLE 1.-“She had been the pupil of the village pastor, the favourite lamb of his little flock."
The latter part of this sentence is a metaphor. We are at once aware, that the fair maiden here referred to, is not meant to be called a lamb of a little flock in the literal application of the words. The implied comparison is readily suggested. The imagination brings before us the lamb of a little flock, and we think of the tenderness and care with which it is nurtured, and the strong interest, which it excites from its youth and simplicity; and we trace out the resemblance to this pupil of the village pastor. We are pleased with the comparison as one easily and naturally suggested, as illustrative, and as bringing before the mind an object which it regards with an emotion of beauty.
Though this example of the Metaphor is faultless, it does not excite in the minds of most readers a strong emotion of beauty. This is easily explained, and is an illustration of a principle, which should be borne in mind in all our judgments of attempts of this nature. So frequently do we compare what is tender and delicate and innocent to the lamb, that we have become familiar with the comparison, and it loses its effect upon us. We may learn then from this example, that the introduction of common comparisons and metaphors will add little to the beauty of style. They will not be defects, but having lost, by repetition, their power of pleasing, they will be passed by unnoticed. Novelty is
not then to be regarded as a source of emotions of taste ; but the want of novelty will prevent such emotions from being felt.
Example 2. Burke, in his description of Atheists, says :
“ They abhor the Author of their being. He never presents him. self to their thoughts, but to menace and alarm them. They cannot strike the sun out of the heavens, but they are able to raise a smouldering smoke that obscures him from their eyes."
From the connexion, we learn, that this last sentence is not meant to convey what is expressed by the words as they are usually applied. This leads us to inquire, in what way they are designed to be understood, and imagination at once traces out a resemblance between the sun in the heavens, and that glorious Being, who shines forth in the brightness of his perfections; and we continue to trace the resemblance between the attempt of mortals, to obscure the brightness of the sun to, their own view, by raising a smouldering smoke, and the attempt of Atheists, to obscure to their own minds, the existence of the Deity, by their darkening speculations. As this is a representation of objects of thought by objects of sense, the effect in giving increased distinctness of view is favourable.
Example 3. Byron has the following striking Metaphor :
“ Man! Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear.” Here is evidently an implied comparison, and one that pleases us from the unexpectedness and appropriateness of the resemblance on which it is founded. The example also brings to notice a characteristic trait of the Metaphor. I refer to its boldness. The writer, under a deep impression of the varieties in the life of man, in a sudden, striking manner, calls him a pendulum, and leaves it to the excited imagination of the reader to trace out the resemblance. Hence it is, that the use of the Metaphor is not well adapted to a calm, deliberate, reasoning state of mind. In this respect it differs from the Comparison, which is sometimes called the figure of description, while the Metaphor is termed the figure of passion.
Example 4. Washington Irving, while wandering amidst the silent and gloomy scenes of Westminster Abbey, hears the sound of busy existence without. He thus describes the effect on his feelings:
“ The contrast is striking; and it has a strange effect, thus to hear the surges of active life, hurrying along and beating against the very walls of the sepulchre.”
“The surges hurrying along and beating," at once suggests to the imagination the comparison here implied, and there is a sublime emotion which takes possession of the mind, as the resemblance is traced.
These examples are sufficient to show the nature of the Metaphor, or Implied Comparison. With the design of exhibiting the skill which is requisite when language is thus used figuratively, a few more examples will now be given.
Example 5. Of Mr. Roscoe it is said in the Sketch Book:
“ He found the tide of wealth flowing merely in the channels of traffic; he has diverted from it invigorating rills to refresh the garden of literature.”
This is an example of a well supported metaphor. If we notice the different words, by the unusual application of which the metaphor is here implied, we shall find, that they are in agreement with each other, and all tend to aid the imagination in bringing up the object of comparison and tracing out the resemblance. We have before our view the “tide flowing in channels,” and then the “rills are diverted to refresh the gardens." In