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should be such as can be applied to an active, intelligent being; and the traits of character ascribed to it, should harmonize with each other. This is admirably exemplified in the instance before us. An intelligent being may have her seat, she may utter her voice, she may
receive homage, and be called a mother. The traits of character are also consistent. Well may she, whose resting place is the bosom of God, and whose voice is the harmony of the world, receive the homage of all things in heaven and earth, and be admired as the mother of peace and joy.
It may be here remarked, that personifications are often found united with metaphors. Of this the following passage from Thomson is an example:
6 The mountain thunders; and its sturdy sons
Stoop to the bottom of the rocks they shade." Here the trees are called the sons of the mountain. This will at once be recognized as the metaphor, and it happily introduces the personification, by which the trees are represented as stooping. That the author speaks of the trees as acting, and not of the sons, is evident from the latter part of the sentence, in which mention is made of the shade. Instances of this kind are frequent, and upon examination of them, it will generally be found, that they occur where inanimate objects are wont to have some motion imparted to them from an external cause, or where some other circumstance connected with them, gives ground for the personification. This is seen in the following examples
“ Low the woods
Bow their hoar heads."
« The cherished fields Put on their winter robe of purest white.” All these instances of personification are evidently founded on a resemblance, between what is literally true
of the object presented to our notice and an imaginary animated being. Hence such instances are said to partake both of the nature of the metaphor and personification. Personifications of this kind are naturally suggested, and do not imply so high a state of excitement as those before mentioned, and are therefore more frequently found.
Instances, in which some of the properties of intelligent and animated beings are ascribed to inanimate objects, are very frequent, especially in poetical productions. Our language, from its philosophical distinction of gender, is well suited to personifications of this kind. We have only to apply one of our pronouns to an object, and, by thus giving to it a gender, it “ becomes a thing of life.” The same is also effected, by connecting, as a predicate, with an inanimate object, a verb, which in its received use implies life and action, or by joining to an inanimate object some epithet expressive of life. Thus when we say of a ship, that she sails; of a book, that it speaks to us; or when we call the wind, the whispering wind, we afford examples of this class of personifications. Instances of this kind of personification are common, and contribute much to the animation and beauty of writing.
On the principle, that the mind is pleased with animated beings in preference to those which are inanimate, a writer sometimes calls on the dead, or absent, as if living, or present. This is termed APOSTROPHE.
The following example is from Thomson's Monody on Newton :
" But Newton calls
Who joy to see the honour of their kind;
On human kind, a frail erroneous race.” Attempts of this kind to excite emotions of taste, are but seldom made. They are evidences of strong excitement, and are used in prose only in high flights of oratory. In poetical writings, they are more frequent. The same cautions and directions may be applied to them, as to personifications of the bolder kind.
It may be remarked, that the word Apostrophe is often used in a more general signification, than that here ascribed to it. Thus we have in Byron an Apostrophe to the Ocean and also to Mount Parnassus. All that is meant in this use of the word is, that the author turns himself to these objects with a direct address to them. These instances, so far as they come under the examination of literary taste, are examples of personification of the bolder kind,
Writers under the influence of strong excitement, sometimes break forth in incoherent and extravagant expressions, which will not bear the examination of common sense, and which, unless viewed as the language of passion, would be condemned by good taste as unnatural and inconsistent. Such expressions, however, are excused as the language of passion, and to instances of this kind the name of HYPERBOLE is applied. But, as such instances are of rare occurrence, and not subject to rule, one example only will be given. It is extracted from the Siege of Valencia :
“ Flow forth, thou noble blood !
Bathe the land,
O'er the infidel hang dark and ominous,
Hath made his guilt run o'er.” To call upon the blood of youth to “ bathe the land,” or to speak of it as “ tinging the skies," and "uttering a voice,” is an extravagance, to be excused only on the ground of the wildness of passion ; but when the character of the individual by whom these expressions were uttered, and the circumstances in which he was placed, are known, the language used is not only allowed but approved.
But there is another form of the Hyperbole, which comes more strictly under the cognizance of literary taste. It is when a writer, with the design of producing a strong impression on the mind, and thus gratifying a fondness for distinct and vivid views of objects, exaggerates what he relates. Instances of this kind are frequent in common conversation ; but such instances, from their frequency, lose their influence on the imagination, and are regarded as common forms of speech. Of instances ess common, a few examples will now be given. The following is from the Siege of Valencia :-
“ A rescued land
That rocked her ancient mountains.” This is evidently exaggeration, and it is the language of an excited mind; but since the occasion authorizes this excitement, and the effect of the strong expressio used, is to produce a clear and vivid conception of th event described, it is approved by good taste. It wil be noticed in examining examples of this kind, that there is some apparent foundation for the exaggeration used. What is asserted does not at once strike the mind as improbable, though upon reflection it is seen to be impossible. Hence, when an exaggeration appears at first view both improbable and impossible, the effect is unfavourable. Such is the example given by Dr. Blair:
“I found her on the floor
The wrath of Heaven, and quenched the mighty ruin.”
“Oh maid ! thou art so beauteous That yon bright moon is rising, all in haste
To gaze on thee.” This example evidently differs from the preceding, since it is rather the language of adulation than of passion. In the use of Hyperboles of this kind, much skill is necessary. They should appear to be naturally suggested, and not be too bold, nor pursued too far. This last caution is one of general application to all instances of exaggeration ; for even to the extravagance of passion there is a limit, and if this limit be passed, the effect must be to disgust. What this limit'is, in any particular case, good sense must determine.
It has been my object in this chapter to direct the attention of the student to those attempts to please by exciting emotions of taste, which are of most frequent occurrence. At the same time, such cautions and directions have been given, as are of most practical importance. There are besides certain nameless
which are the objects of the attention of literary taste. these, except such as may be mentioned in describing the qualities of a good style, must be left to be pointed out by the instructor.
In concluding this chapter, I would recommend to the student the study of models of excellence in literature. The value of these models to the learner, and the manner in which the study of them tends to the improve