Imágenes de página

infested by numerous banditti, what so suggestive of security as a rock, defended by a fortress? — or what so consolatory as the conviction that should a sudden attack be made, a deliverer was at hand, his own God, his strength? So, metaphorically, in a moral and spiritual sense, the man whose hopes, and aim3, and principles, are built on God, possesses a rock and fortress against every marauding spiritual adversary that would attempt to disturb his peace, or rob him of his heavenly inheritance.

c. According to the preceding rule, metaphors that are forced or far-fetched must be avoided. Thus, were a poet to say, "tenacious paste of solid milk," instead of the simple word cheese," he would be introducing a metaphor that was forced and inelegant.

[ocr errors]

d. As Metaphors are intended to illustrate a subject, they must not be taken from the more abstruse branches of the arts and sciences with which few persons may be acquainted; on the contrary, they should be derived from the most frequent occurrences of art or nature, or from the civil transactions and customs of mankind.


141. Rule 2. a. Metaphors should be suited to the nature of the subject of which we treat. are allowable, nay beautiful, in poetry, but which are inadmissible in prose; some may be graceful in orations, which would be very improper in historical or philosophical composition. Care, therefore, is requisite to employ only those metaphors which are neither too lively nor too elevated for our subject; that we may neither attempt, by means of them, to force the subject into a degree of elevation which is not consistent with it, nor, on the other hand, allow it to sink below its proper dignity. In a serious discourse, therefore, to speak of " thrusting religion

down our throats," degrades the subject by the meanness of the metaphor.

b. This Rule is also frequently violated by combining objects which have no correspondence. Thus, Shakspeare says, "He cannot buckle his distempered cause within the belt of rule." It is evident that there can be no resemblance between a distempered cause and any body that can be confined within a belt.

142. Rule 3. a. In constructing a metaphor, the writer should confine himself to the simplest expressions, and employ such words only as are literally applicable to the imagined nature of his subject. He must also carefully avoid intermixing plain and figurative language when describing the same object; otherwise, one part of the description will be understood literally and the other metaphorically.

Violation." A stubborn and unconquerable flame creeps in his veins, and drinks the stream of life." The writer has been comparing a fever to a flame, and ought not to have employed any words that were not applicable to the metaphor. A flame may be supposed to creep in a man's veins, but can never be said to drink a stream.

b. The preceding rule requires consistency of language in the expression of a metaphor; thus, if we speak of the passions as being inflamed, we must not at the same time speak of rooting them out, but of extinguishing them; if we speak of a rooted prejudice, it must not be subdued or extinguished, but eradicated.

143. Rule 4. a. In describing the same subject, we must avoid joining together different or mixed metaphors.

Violations.-Addison, speaking of the frailty of our nature, says, "There is not a single view of human nature, which is not sufficient to extinguish

the seeds of pride." A view may enable us to discover the beauty of an object, but can never be said to extinguish it. Again, "I bridle in my struggling muse with pain, That longs to launch into a bolder strain.' The muse, if figured as a horse, may, indeed, be bridled; but when we speak of launching, we make it a ship; and by no force of the imagination can it be supposed both a horse and a ship at one inoment; bridled to prevent it launching.

b. When we are in doubt, whether the metaphors introduced are, or are not of the mixed kind, we should try to form a picture upon them, and consider how the parts would agree, and what sort of a figure the whole would present, when delineated with a pencil. By this means, we become sensible, whether, as in the faulty instances just given, inconsistent circumstances are mixed, and a monstrous image thereby produced; or whether the object is presented throughout in one natural and consistent point of view.

c. We should avoid not only mixing metaphors, but also, crowding them together on the same subject.

Violation." There is a time, when factions, by the vehemence of their fermentation, stun and disable one another." In this sentence, factions are represented first, as discordant fluids, the mixture of which produces violent fermentation, and afterwards, operations and effects are imputed to them which belong only to solid bodies in motion. It would be proper to say, "There is a time, when factions maim and dismember one another by forcible collision."

144. Rule 5. a. Metaphors should not be pursued too far. When we dwell too long upon the resemblance on which the figure is founded, and carry it into all its minute circumstances, we fatigue the reader by this play of fancy, and render our discourse obscure. This is called straining a metaphor.

Violation." The religious," says Hervey, " seem to lie in the bosom of the earth, as a wary pilot in some well-sheltered bark. There they enjoy safe anchorage, are in no danger of foundering among the seas of prevailing iniquity, or of being shipwrecked on the rocks of temptation. But, ere long, we shall behold them hoisting the flag of hope," &c. Such inflated language as this, serves not to instruct, but to distract.

b. Metaphors, expressed by single words, may be introduced on every occasion, from the most careless effusions of conversation to the most passionate expressions of tragedy, and, on all these occasions, they are, perhaps, the most beautiful and significant language that can be employed. The following is an instance:


Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear."

Remarks.-Here, the writer, under a deep impression of the varieties in the life of man, in a sudden, striking manner, calls him a pendulum, leaving it to the excited imagination of the reader to trace out the resemblance.

145. Extended Metaphors, which are very appropriate to Descriptive Poetry and the higher species of Oratory, require great care and skill to preserve consistency throughout. Pope frequently employs them with effect, as in the following in

[blocks in formation]

"Let us (since life can little else supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all the scene of man,
A mighty maze, but not without a plan ;

A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot;
A garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.

Together let us beat this ample field,

Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracks, the giddy heights explore,

Of those who blindly creep, or sightless soar."

REMARKS. In metaphors of this kind, all the particulars of the primary subject should have others corresponding to them in the metaphorical one. Care, therefore, should be taken that their qualities be not interchanged, and that those particulars which belong to the primary subject only, may never appear in the metaphorical one. In the preceding example, the "mighty maze" may represent the human constitution. The "plan" may be the leading principles and feelings of human nature. The "weeds and flowers' are virtues and vices, weaknesses and amiabilities. The "forbidden fruit" is temptation to irregular indulgence or passion. The 66 open parts" designate the knowledge which we can acquire and enjoy. By "the covert" are meant such workings of the mind or economy of the body as we cannot explain. The "latent track" may denote abstruse speculations; and "giddy heights" may signify ambitious designs.

EXERCISES.-Define a Metaphor. How can the word of God be a lamp? Show the difference between a Metaphor and a Simile. What caution is given with regard to the use of terms? Mention the sources of metaphors. With what propriety can our Saviour be designated the lamb of God? A vine a door? Piso be called a vulture? Chatham a bulwark? Age the sunset of life? A man's horses become a Charybdis of his estate ? Quote the first rule for the management of the Metaphor. Why compare God to a rock, &c. ? What is meant by forced metaphors? From what subjects should metaphors be selected ? Quote the second rule for the management of metaphors, and explain the examples. Quote the third rule and explain the examples. In constructing a metaphor, what kind of language should be employed? Quote the fourth rule and explain the examples. What method is to be adopted when we are in doubt whether the metaphor is of the mixed kind or not? What is said respecting crowding metaphors? Quote the fifth rule and explain the examples What is said of metaphors expressed by single words? — o. extended metaphors ?

« AnteriorContinuar »