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in Mr. Locke's view of them as secondary qualities, which have no real existence in matter, but are only ideas in the mind, with what beautiful painting has he adorned this philosophic speculation! “ Things," says he, “ would make but a poor appearance to the
eye, if we saw them only in their proper figures 6 and motions. Now, we are every where entersi tained with pleasing shows and apparitions; we “ discover imaginary glories in the heavens, and in “ the earth, and see some of this visionary bea uy “poured out upon the whole creation. But what a “rough unsightly sketch of Nature should we be “ entertained with, did all her colouring disappear, “and the several distinctions of light and shade “ vanish ? In short, our souls are, at present, delight“ fully lost, and bewildered in a pleasing delusion, « and we walk about like the enchanted hero of a s romance, who sees beautiful castles, woods, and “ meadows; and at the same time hears the warbling “ of birds, and the purling of streams; but upon the “ finishing of some secret spell, the fantastic scene “ breaks up, and the disconsolate knight finds himself “ on a barren heath, or in a solitary desert. It is “not improbable that something like this may be “ the state of the soul after its first separation, in " respect of the images it will receive from matter." No. 413. Spec.
Having thus explained, at sufficient length, the Origin, the Nature, and the Effects of Tropes, I should proceed next to the several kinds and divisions of them. But, in treating of these, were I to follow the common tract of the scholastic writers on Rhetoric, I should soon become tedious, and, I apprehend, useless, at the same time. Their great business has
been, with a most patient and frivolous industry, to branch them out under a vast number of divisions, according to all the several modes in which a word may be carried from its literal meaning, into one that is figurative, without doing any more; as if the mere knowledge of the names and classes of all the Tropes that can be formed, could be of any advantage towards the proper or graceful use of Language. All that I purpose is, to give, in a few words, before finishing this lecture, a general view of the several sources whence the tropical meaning of words is derived ; after which I shall, in subsequent Lectures, descend to a more particular consideration of some of the most considerable Figures of Speech, and such as are in most frequent use; by treating of which I shall give all the instruction I can concerning the proper employment of Figurative Language, and point out the errors and abuses which are apt to be committed in this part of Style.
All Tropes, as I before observed, are founded on the relation which one object bears to another; in virtue of which, the name of the one can be substituted instead of the name of the other; and by such a substitution, the vivacity of the idea is commonly meant to be increased. These relations, some more, some less intimate, may all give rise to Tropes. One of the first and most obvious relations is, that between a cause and its effect. Hence, in Figurative Language, the cause is sometimes put for the effect. Thus, Mr. Addison, writing of Italy:
Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise,
confusion lies : where the “ whole year” is plainly intended to signify the effects or productions of all the seasons of the
year. At other times, again, the effect is put for the cause ; as “ grey hairs” frequently for old age, which causes grey hairs; and “ shade,” for trees that produce the shade. The relation between the container and the thing contained, is also so intimate and obvious, as naturally to give rise to Tropes :
Ille impiger hausit Spumantem pateram & pleno se proluit auro. Where every one sees, that the cup and the gold are put for the liquor that was contained in the golden cup: In the same manner, the name of any country is often used to denote the inhabitants of that country; and Heaven, very commonly employed to signify God, because he is conceived as dwelling in Heaven. To implore the assistance of Heaven is the same as to implore the assistance of God. The relation betwixt any established sign and the thing signified, is a further source of Tropes. Hence,
Cedant arma togæ; concedat laurea linguæ. The “ toga" being the badge of the civil profes. șions, and the “ laurel,” of military honours, the badge of each is put for the civil and military characters themselves. To “ assume the sceptre," is a common phrase for entering on royal authority. To Tropes, founded on these several relations, of cause and effect, container and contained, sign and thing signified, is given the name of Metonymy.
When the Trope is founded on the relation between an antecedent and a consequent, or what goes before and immediately follows, it is then called a Metalepsis; as in the Roman phrase of “ Fuit," or
Vixit,” to express that one was dead. * Fuit
« Ilium et ingens gloria Dardanidum," signifies, that the glory of Troy is now no more.
When the whole is put for a part, or a part for the whole ; a genus for a species, or a species for a genus; the singular for the plural, or the plural for the singular number; in general, when any thing less, or any thing more, is put for the precise object meant; the figure is then called a Synecdoche. It is very common, for instance, to describe a whole object by some remarkable part of it: as, when we say, “ a fleet of so many sail,” in the place of “ ships;" when we use the “head” for the “person,” the “pole” for the “ earth,” the “ waves” for the
In like manner an attribute may be put for a subject; as “ Youth and Beauty,” for “the young “ and beautiful ;” and sometimes a subject for its attribute. But it is needless to insist longer on this enumeration, which serves little purpose. I have said enough to give an opening into that great variety of relations between objects, by means of which the mind is assisted to pass easily from one to another; and by the name of the one understands the other to be meant. It is always some accessory idea, which recalls the principal to the imagination ; and commonly recalls it with more force, than if the principal idea had been expressed.
The relation which is far the most fruitful of Tropes, I have not yet mentioned ; that is, the relation of Similitude and Resemblance. On this is founded what is called the Metaphor : when, in place of using the proper name of any object, we employ in its place the name of some other which is like it; which is a sort of picture of it, and which thereby awakens the conception of it, with more force or
grace. This Figure is more frequent than all the rest put together; and the language, both of prose and verse, owes to it much of its elegance and grace. This, therefore, deserves very full and particular consideration; and shall be the subject of the next Lecture,
AFTER the preliminary observations I have made relating to Figurative Language in general, I come now to treat separately of such Figures of Speech as occur most frequently, and require particular attention : and I begin with Metaphor. This is a figure founded entirely on the resemblance which one object bears to another. Hence, it is much allied to Simile, or Comparison ; and is indeed no other than a comparison, expressed in an abridged form. When I say of some great minister, “ that he upholds the “ state, like a Pillar which supports the weight of a “ whole edifice," I fairly make a comparison; but when I say of such a minister, “ that he is the Pillar “ of the state,” it is now become a Metaphor. The comparison betwixt the Minister and a Pillar, is made in the mind; but is expressed without any of the words that denote comparison. The comparison is