Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

putting on his armour; and lastly, ascending his This indeed is a figure, which has been copied car, and driving along the surface of the sea. Far by Virgil, and almost all the poets of every age from being disgusted by these delays, we are de- oculis micat acribus ignis—ignescunt iræ: auris lighted with the particulars of the description. dolor ossibus ardet. Milton, describing Satan in Nothing can be more sublime than the circum- Hell, says, stance of the mountain's trembling beneath the

With head uplist above the wave, and eye footsteps of an immortal:

That sparkling blazed !
Τιμι ' ουρεα μακρα και υλο

---He spake; and to confirm his words out flew

Millions of naming swords, drawn from tle thigla Ποσσιν υπ αθανατοισι Ποσειδάωνος ιοντος. .

Of mighty cherubim. The sudden blaze

Par round illumined HellBut his passage to the Grecian fleet is altogether transporting.

There are certain words in every language par

ticularly adapted to the poetical expression ; some Body Anav eni ve hat, etc.

from the image or idea they convey to the image He mounts the car, the golden scourge applies, nation; and some from the effect they have upon He sius superior, and the chariot fies;

the ear. The first are truly figurative; the others His whirling wheels the glassy surface sweep:

may be called emphatical.—Rollin observes, that Th' enormous monsters, rolling o'er the deep, Gambol around him on the watery way,

Virgil has upon many occasions poetized (if we And heavy whales in awkward measures play: may be allowed the expression) a whole sentence The sea subsiding spreads a level plain,

by means of the samo word, which is pendere. Exults and crowns the monarch of the main; The parting waves before his coursers fly;

Ite meæ, felix quondam pecus, ite capellæ, The wondering waters leave his axle dry.

Non ego vos posthac, viridi projectus in anım,

Dumosa pendere procul de rupe videbo.
With great veneration for the memory of Mr.
Pope, we can not help objecting to some lines of

At ease reclined beneath the verdant shade,

No more shall I behold my happy flock this translation. We have no idea of the sea's ex

Aloft hang browsing on the tuned rock. ulting and crowning Neptune, after it had subsided into a level plain. There is no such image Here the word pendere wonderfully improves in the original. "Homer says, the whales exulted, the landscape, and renders the whole passage and knew or owned their king; and that the sea beautifully picturesque. The same figurative verb parted with joy: gubcour de Janeca Sustato. we meet with in many different parts of the Neither is there a word of the wondering waters : Æneid. we therefore think the lines might be thus altered

Hi summo in fluctu pendent, his unda dehiscens to advantage :

Terram inter fluctus aperit. They knew and own'd the monarch of the maln:

These on the mountain billow hung; to those
The sca subsiding spreads a level plain;

The yawning wares thy yellow sand disclose.
The curling waves before his coursers fly,
The parting surface leaves his brazen axle dry,

In this instance, the words pendent and dehis Besides the metaphors, similes, and allusions of Addison seems to Have had this passage in his eye,

ccns, hung and yawning, are equally poetical poetry, there is an infinite variety of tropes, or turns when he wrote his Hymn, which is inserted in of expression, occasionally disseminated through the Spectator : works of genius, which serve to animate the whole,

-For though in dreadful worlds we kung, and distinguish the glowing effusions of real in

High on the broken wave. spiration from the cold efforts of mere science. These tropes consist of a certain happy choice and

And in another piece of a like nature, in the arrangement of words, hy which ideas are artfully same collection: disclosed in a great variety of attitudes, of epithets,

Thy providence my life sustain'd and compound epithets; of sounds collectod in

And all my wants redress'd, order to echo the sense conveyed; of apostrophes ; When in the silent womb I lay, and, above all, the enchanting use of the prosopo

And hung upon the breast. pæia, which is a kind of magic, by which the poet Shakspeare, in his admired description of Dover gives life and motion to every inanimate part of cliff, uses the same expression : nature. Homer, describing the wrath of Agamem

-Half way down Bun, in the first book of the liad, strikes off' a

Hangs one that gathers samphire-dreadsul trade! głowing inage in two words:

Nothing con be more beautiful than the follow.. οσσι δ ι πυρι λαμπετουντι εκτην.

ing picture, in which Milton has introduced the And from hiis-cyeballs flast'd the living fire. same expressive tint:

-He, on his side,

certain the vast height of Dover cliff; for the poet Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love

adus, can not be heard so high.” The place Hung over her enamour'd.

where Glo'ster stood was so high above the surface We shall give one example more from Virgil, to of the sea, that the pacubus, or dashing, could show in what a variety of scenes it may appear not be heard ; and therefore an enthusiastic admir. with propriety and effect. In describing the pro-er of Shakspeare might with some plausibility gress of Dido's passion for Æneas, the Poet says, affirm, the poet had chosen an expression in which

that sound is not at all conveyed. Iliacos iterum demens audire labores

In the very same page of Homer's liad we Exposcil, pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore.

meet with two other striking instances of the same The woes of Troy once more she begg'd to hear; sort of beauty. Apollo, incensed at the insults his Once more the mournful tale employ'd his tongue, priest had sustained, descends from the top of Olym. While in fond rapture on his lips she hung.

pus, with his bow and quiver rattling on his shoulThe reader will perceive in all these instances, Jer as he moved along; that no other word could be substituted with equal energy; indeed no other word could be used with

Εκλεγξαν δ' αρ αστω επ αμαν. out degrading the sense, and defacing the image. Here the sound of the word Exaczžar admirably ex: 'There are many other verbs of poetical import fetched from nature, and from art, which the poet after this surprisingly imitates the twanging of a

presses the clanking of armour; as the third lino uses to advantage, both in a literal and metaphori

bow. cal sense ; and these have been always translated for the same purpose from one language to ano- Asyn do xacy za genet of 7 upeasa Blolo. ther; such as quasso, concutio, cio, suscito, lenio, sitio, mano, fiuo, ardeo, mico, aro, to shake, to In shrill-ton'd murmurs sung the twanging bow. wake, to rouse, to soothe, to rage, to flow, to shine or blaze, to plough.—Quassantia tectum limina

Many beauties of the same kind are scattered Æneas, cusu, concussus acerbo-Ære ciere viros, through Homer, Pindar, and Theocritus, such as Martemque accendere cantu-Æneas acuit Mar- the Bombeurd person, susurruns apicula ; the tem et se suscitat iraImpium lenite clamorem. cer togupionees

, dulcem susurrum; and the usredo Leuilant curas-Ne sævi magna sacerdos—Su-Toy for the sighing of the pine. dor ad imos manabat solos-Suspensæque diu

The Latin language teens with sounds adapted to Inchrymæ Auxere per ora— Juvenali ardebat every situation, and the English is not destitute of amore-Micat æreus ensis — Nullum maris aquor this significant energy. We have the cooing turtle, arandum. It will be unnecessary to insert exam- the sighing reed, the warbling rivulet, the sliding ples of the same nature from the English poets. stream, the whispering breeze, the glance, the

The words we term emphatical, are such as by gleam, the flash, the bickering flame, the dashing their sound express the sense they are intended to wave, the gushing spring, the howling blast, the convey: and with these the Greek abounds, above rattling storm, the pattering shower, the crimp All other languages, not only from its natural copi-earth, the mouldering tower, the twanging bow. ousness, flexibility, and significance, but also from string, the clanging arms, the clanking chains, the variety of its dialects, which enables a writer the twinkling stars, the tinkling chords, the trickto vary his terminations occasionally as the nature ling drops, the twittering swallow, the cawing of the subject requires, without offending the most rook, the screeching owl; and a thousand other delicate ear, or incurring the imputation of adopt- words and epithets, wonderfully suited to the sense ing vulgar provincial expressions. Every smat- they imply. terer in Greek can repeat

Among the select passages of poetry which we

shall insert by way of illustration, the reader will Βη δ' ακεων παρα θινα πολυφλοισβοιο θαλασσης, find instances of all the different tropes and figures

which the best authors have adopted in the variety in wbich the last two words wonderfully echo to of their poetical works, as well as of the apostrophe, the sense, conveying the idea of the sea dashing 01 abrupt transition, repetition, and prosopopæia. the shore. How much more significant in sound In the mean time it will be necessary still furthan that beautiful image of Shakspeare- ther to analyze those principles which constitute

the essence of poetical merit; to display those atThe sea that on the unnumber'd pebbles beats.

lightful parterres that teem with the fairest flowers And yet, if we consider the strictness of pro- of imagination ; and distinguish between the gaudy priety, this last expression would seem to have offspring of a cold insipid fancy, and the glowing been selected on purpose to concur with the other progeny, diffusing sweets, prodprad ariu auvigo crcumstances, which are brought together to as-rated by the sun of genius

verage chastised by the sober deity,”—a metaphor ESSAY XVI.

that signifies nothing more than " mixed or low.

ered with water." Demetrius Phalereus justly Or all the implements of poetry, the metaphor

observes, that though a judicious use of metaphors is the most generally and successfully used, and indeed may be termed the Muse's caduceus, by wonderfully raises, sublimes

, and adorns oratory

or elocution, yet they should seem to flow naturalthe power of which she enchants all nature. The

ly from the subject; and too great a redundancy of metaphor is a shorter simile, or rather kind of

them inflates the discourse to a mere rhapsody. niagical coat, by which the same idea assumes a The same observation will hold in poetry; and ibe thousand different appearances. Thus the word

more liberal or sparing use of them will depend in plough, which originally belongs to agriculture, being metaphorically used, represents the motion a great measure on the nature of the subject.

Passion itself is very figurative, and often bursts of a ship at sea, and the effects of old age upon the

out into metaphors; but in touching the pathos, human countenance

the poet must be perfectly well acquainted with ---Plough'd the sosom of the deep

the emotions of the human soul, and carefully dis. And time had plough'd his venerable front

tinguish between those metaphors which rise glow

ing from the heart, and those cold conceits which Almost every verb, noun substantive, or term of are engendered in the fancy. Should one of these art in any language, may be in this manner ap- last unfortunately intervene, it will be apt to de. plied to a variety of subjects with admirable effect; stroy the whole eflect of the most pathetical incibut the danger is in sowing metaphors too thick dent or situation. Indeed it requires the most so as to distract the imagination of the reader, and delicate taste, and a consummate knowledge of proincur the imputation of deserting nature, in order priety, to employ metaphors in such a manner as to hunt after conceits. Every day produces poems to avoid what the ancients call the to taxpor, the of all kinds, so inflated with metaphor, that they frigid, or false sublime. Instances of this kind may be compared to the gaudy bubbles blown up were frequent even among the correct ancients. from a solution of soap. Longinus is of opinion, Sappho herself is blamed for using the hyperbole that a multitude of metaphors is never excusable, deuxotepus glovos, whiter than snor. Demetrius is except in those cases when the passions are rous so nice as to be disgusted at the simile of swisi as ed, and like a winter torrent rush down impetu- the wind; though, in speaking of a race-horse, we ous, sweeping them with collective force along. know from experience that this is not even an hyHe brings an instance of the following quotation perhole. He would have had more reason to censure from Demosthenes; “Men,” says he, "profli-, that kind of metaphor which Aristotle styles zagu gates, miscreants, and Aatterers, who having seve- trepquer, exhibiting things inanimate as endued with rally preyed upon the bowels of their country, at sense and reason ; such as that of the sharp pointed length betrayed her liberty, first to Philip, and now arrow, eager to take wing among the crowd. again to Alexander; who, placing the chief felici- O tubians xz8' uchor KETTICOLI persever. Not but ty of life in the indulgence of infamous lusts and that in descriptive poetry this figure is often allowappetites, overturned in the dust that freedom and ed and admired. The cruel sword, the ruthless independence which was the chief aim and end of Jagger, the ruffian blast, are epithets which freall our worthy ancestors."'*

quently occur. The faithful bosom of the earth, Aristotle and Theophrastus seem to think it is the joyous boughs, the trees that admire their im. rather too bold and hazardous to use metaphors so ages reflected in the stream, and many other examfreely, without interposing some mitigating phrase, ples of this kind, are found disseminated througb such as “if I may be allowed the expression," or the works of our best modern poets ; yet still they some equivalent excuse. At the same time Lon- must be sheltered under the privilege of the poetica ginus finds fault with Plato for hazarding some licentia ; and, expect in poetry, they would give metaphors, which indeed appear to be equally af- offence. fected and extravagant, when he says, “The go- More chaste metaphors are freely used in all vernment of a state should not resemble a bowl of kinds of writing; more sparingly in history, and hot fermenting wine, but a cool and moderate be more abundantly in rhetoric: we have seen that

Plato indulges in them even to excess. The ora Ανθρωποι, φησι, pos, ati aA 20 TOPES. **1 Xheksc, tions of Demosthenes are animated and even inακρατημασμενοι τας εαυτων έκαστοι πατριδας την flanned with metapίiors, some of them so bold as Ελευθεριαν προτε πακετες, τιοτερος Φιλιππ, νυν δ Αλεξ- even to entail upon him the censure of the critics ανδια τη γαστρι μετριυντες και τις αισχιστους την Τοτε το Πυθαι τα ρητορι μιντι καθ' υμη.-«Then νυδαιμονιαν τη δ ελευθεριαν, και To undone fx 01 I did not yield to Python the orator, when he orer. "σπστην αυταν, και τους προτεραις, Ελλησιν οροι των αγα. toned you with a tide of eloquence.» Cicero is On7 no xEU *27096, etc.

still more liberal in the use of them: he ransacks

ܪ

[ocr errors]

all nature, and pours forth a redundancy of figures, an author so universally held in veneration, whose even with a lavish hand. Even the chaste Xeno- very errors have helped to sanctify his character phon, who generally illustrates his subject by way among the multitude, we will descend to particu of sinsile, sometimes ventures to produce an ex- lars, and analyze this famous soliloquy. pressive metaphor, such as, part of the phalanx Hamlet, having assumed the disguise of madness, fluctuated in the march; and indeed nothing can as a cloak under which he might the more effec. be more significant than this word egtxuunn, to tually revenge his father's death upon the murderer represent a body of men staggered, and on the and usurper, appears alone upon the stage in a point of giving way. Armstrong has used the pensive and melancholy attitude, and communes word fluctuate with admirable efficacy, in his phi- with himself in these words : losophical poem, entitled, The Art of Preserving Health,

To be, or not to be, that is the question :

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
O! when the growling winds contend, and all

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ;
The sounding forest Nuctuates in the storm,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din

And, by opposing, end them ?- To die,-to sleep,
Howl o'er the steady battlements

No more ;-and, by a sleep, to say we end

The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shock The word fluctuate on this occasion not only That flesh is heir to,vtis a consummation exhibits an idea of struggling, but also echoes to Devoutly to be wish'd. To die ;-10 sleep;the sense like the sončev do Maxn of Homer; which,

To sleep! perchance to dream ;-ay, there's the rub

For in that sloep of death what dreams may come, by the by, it is impossible to render into English,

When we are shuffled off this mortal coil, for the verb operou signifies not only to stand erect

Must give us pause : There's the respech, like prickles, as a grove of lances, but also to make That makes calamity of so long life: a noise like the crashing of armour, the hissing of For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, javelins, and the splinters of spears.

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely Over and above an excess of figures, a young

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns author is apt to run into a confusion of mixed me- T'hat patient merit of th' unworthy takes, taphors, which leave the sense disjointed, and dis- When he himself might his quietus make tract the imagination : Shakspeare himself is often With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels lear, guilty of these irregularities. The soliloquy in

To grunt and sweat under a wcary lise ;

But that the dread or something aster death, Hamlet, which we have so often heard extolled in

The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn terms of admiration, is, in our opinion, a heap of No traveller returns, -puzzles the will: absurdities, whether we consider the situation, the And makes us rather bear those ills we have, sentiment, the argumentation, or the poctry. Ham

Than fly to others that we know not of

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all ; let is informed by the Ghost, that his father was

And thus the native hue of resolution murdered, and therefore he is tempted to murder

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought ; himself, even after he had promised to take ven- And enterprises of great pith and moment, geance on the usurper, and expressed the utmost With this regard, their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action. eagerness to achieve this enterprise. It does not appear that he had the least reason to wish for death ; but every motive which may be supposed We have already observed, that there is not any to influence the mind of a young prince, concurred apparent circumstance in the fate or situation of to render life desirable-revenge towards the usur-Hamlet, that should prompt him to harbour one per; love for the fair Ophelia ; and the ambition thought of self-murder : and therefore these exof reigning. Besides, when he had an opportu- pressions of despair imply an impropriety in point nity of dying without being accessary to his own of character. But supposing his condition was death; when he had nothing to do but, in obe-truly desperate, and he saw no possibility of repose dience to his uncle's command, to allow himself to but in the uncertain harbour of death, let us see in be conveyed quietly to England, where he was what manner he argues on that subject. The sure of suffering death ; instead of amusing him- question is, “To be, or not to be ;" to die by my self with meditations on mortality, he very wisely own hand, or live and suffer the miseries of life. consulted the means of self-preservation, turned He proceeds to explain the alternative in these the tables upon his attendants, and returned to terms, "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer, Denmark. But granting him to have been re- or endure the frowns of fortune, or to take arms, duced to the lowest state of despondence, surround- and by opposing, end them. Here he deviales eal with nothing but horror and despair, sick of from his first proposition, and death is no longer this life, and eager to tempt futurity, we shall see the question. The only doubt is, whether he will how far he argues like a philosopher.

swop to misforture, or exert his faculties in order In order to support this general charge against 'to surmount it. This surely is the obvious mean

ܪ

says he,

ing, and indeed the only meaning that can be im- question. Hamlet was deterred from suicide by a plied to these words,

full conviction, that, in flying from one sea of

troubles which he did know, he should fall into Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;

another which he did not know. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

His whole chain of reasoning, therefore, seems And by opposing, end them?

inconsistent and incongruous. "I am doubtful

whether I should live, or do violence upon my own He now drops this idea, and reverts to his reason- life : for I knew not whether it is more honourable ing on death, in the course of which he owns him to bear misfortune patiently, than to exert myself self deterred from suicide by the thoughts of what in opposing misfortune, and by opposing, end it." may follow death;

Let us throw it into the form of a syllogism, it will - The dread of something after death,

stand thus: “I am oppressed with ills; I know The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn

not whether it is more honourable to bear those ills No traveller returns.-

patiently, or to end them by taking arms against This might be a good argument in a Heathen them: ergo, I am doubtful whether I should slay or Pagan, and such indeed Hamlet really was; but myself or live. To die, is no more than to sleep; Shakspeare has already represented him as a good

and to say that by a sleep we end the heart-ache,” Catholic, who must have been acquainted with

etc. “'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd." the truths of revealed religion, and says expressly been true. "I am afraid of the dreams that may

Now to say it was of no consequence unless it had in this very play,

happen in that sleep of death; and I choose rather -Had not the everlasting fix'd

to bear those ills I have in this life, than to fly to His canon 'gainst self-murder.

other ills in that undiscovered country, from whose

I have ills that Moreover, he had just been conversing with his bourn no traveller ever returns. father's spirit piping hot from purgatory, which are almost insupportable in this life. I know not we presume is not within the bourn of this world. What is in the next

, because it is an undiscovered The dread of what may happen after death, country: ergo, I'd rather bear those ills I have,

than Ny to others which I know not of.” Here

the conclusion is by no means warranted by the Makes us rather bear those ills we have,

premises. "I am sore afflicted in this life ; but I Than fly to others that we know not of.

will rather bear the afflictions of this life, than This declaration at least implies some knowledge plunge myself in the afflictions of another life: of the other world, and expressly asserts, that there ergo, conscience makes cowards of us all.” Bus must be ills in that world, though what kind of ills this conclusion would justify the logician in saythey are, we do not know. The argument, there-ing, negatur consequens; for it is entirely do fore, may be reduced to this lemma: this world tached both from the major and minor propo

sition. abounds with ills which I feel; the other world abounds with ills, the nature of which I do not

This soliloquy is not less exceptionable in the know; therefore, I will rather bear those ills i propriety of expression, than in the chain of arguhave, “than fly to others which I know not of: "mentation. “To die—to sleep—no more," condeduction amounting to a certainty, with respect tion can not remove: for it may signify that “to

tains an ambiguity, which all the art of punctuato the only circumstance that could create a doubt, namely, whether in death he should rest from his die,” is to sleep no more; or the expression "no misery; and if he was certain there were evils in more,” may be considered as an abrupt apostrophe the next world, as well as in this, he had no room

in thinking, as if he meant to say "no more of that

reflection." to reason at all about the matter. What alone could justify his thinking on this subject, would

"Ay, there's the rub,” is a vulgarism beneath have been the hope of flying from the ills of this the dignity of Hamlet's character, and the words world, without encountering iny others in the that follow leave the sense imperfect:

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, Nor is Hamlet more accurate in the following

When we have shuffled off this inorial coil, reflection :

Must give us pause. Thus conscience does make cowards of us all. A bad conscience will make us cowards; but a what dreams might come, occasioned the pause or

Not the dreams that might come, but the fear of gooil conscience will make us brave. It does not

hesitation. Respect in the same line may be al appear that any thing lay heavy on his conscience;

lowed to pass for consideration : but and from the premises we can not help inferring, That conscience in this case was entirely out of the The oppressor's wrong, the proud nian's contumely

next.

« AnteriorContinuar »