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Again, when the fame excellent and correct poet fays that mount Æina threw its fires as high as the fars, nobody taxes him with a designed falsehood ; though his expressions be not literally true, and we are sure he could not but have been sensible of it himself at the time that he made use of them : but nothing ihort of an hyperbole could have given us a true image of the effort of his imagination, to express his idea of the very great height of those fames.

Lastly, when /Eneas, in the same poet, in the midst of the relation of his adventures, comes to mention Sicily, instead of saying, in so many words, that his father died there, addresses himself directly to his father, and exclaims, Hic me, pater optime, fellum deferis; do any of his readers imaagine he really conceived his father to be within hearing? But no fimple narration could sufficiently have expressed that strong regret, and tender affection, which the revival of his father's memory awakened in his mind. We naturally personify every thing that causes us much pleasure or pain, and a vivid recollection makes every thing seem present. Thus this direct address to the dead Anchises, though, strictly speaking, without the least foundation, gives us the trueft idea of the unfeigned grief of Æneas, and of the affecting fense he had of his loss, and therefore lets us into the true state of his mind; not, indeed, by a direct interpretation of his words, but in a more



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certain, though an indirect manner, by means of those circumstances which always accompany that State of mind.

Figurative speech, therefore, is indicative of a person's real feelings and state of mind, not by means of the words it consists of, considered as figns of separate ideas, and interpreted according alla to their common acceptation ; but as circumstances naturally attending those feelings which compose any state of mind. Those figurative expressions, therefore, are scarce considered and attended to as words, but are viewed in the same light as attitudes, gestures, and locks, which are infinitely more expressive of sentiments and feelings than words can possibly be.

Since, however, the literal impropriety of figurative expressions is excused only on account of their being considered as indications of those feelings and sentiments which no words, literally interpreted, could describe, they should never be used but when the situation of the person who uses them is such as will render those feelings and sentiments natural. Otherwise, there being nothing left to excuse and cover the impropriety of the figure, the words present nothing but the naked absurdity, and the writer is detected, either in pretending to feelings that could have no existence, or in asserting what is apparently false and contradictory. This observation may be applied to every figure of speech; and as it is an observati


on of considerable consequence, it will be frequently repeated, and applied to the particular figures, when they come to be separately explained and illustrated.


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The Division of this Part of the Work into what af



Of the Effeet of Vivid REPRESENTATION, the

Use of the Present Tense in describing past
Scenes, and of PARTICULAR Names and Cir-


Having considered the nature of taste, and

, of figurative language in general, I proceed to consider distinctly the several objects that offer themselves to our attention respecting the ornament that sentiment admits of. These, as they were before pointed out, are either some of the more remarkable and general affections of the stronger pasions ; those forms of address which are adapted to engage assent, or those finer feelings which constitute the pleasures of the imagination. Each of these three objects will engage our attention in the order in which they are here mentioned.

The first observation I shall make on the general affections of the passions, is, that they are engaged, and we feel ourselves interested, in proportion to the vividness of our ideas of those objects and cir


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cumstances which contribute to excite them. The genuine and proper use of the passions undoubtedly is to rouze men to just and vigorous action upon every emergency, without the slow intervention of reason. It is, therefore, wisely provided, that they Ahould be raised by the immediate view and apprehension of the circumstances proper for their exertion. Being, therefore, blind and mechanical principles, they can only be connected with the view of suitable circumstances; so that, whenever these are presented, whether the passion would, in fact, be useful or not, it cannot fail to be excited, and to rise to its usual height.

This observation supplies us with a reason why our minds are as sensibly affected with scenes of paft, or even of ideal distress, as with a mere relation of what is present and real. All the advantage that the latter circumstances united have, is, that they engage us to think more intensely of the case, which will consequently make the ideas more vivid, and the scene more interesting. But that scenes of ideal distress have as much power over the imagination as scenes of distress that are past, cannot but be allowed, when we consider, that even reason can plead nothing more in favour of the one than of the other ; since the passion is equally unavailing in both cases. Why may I not, with reason, be as much interested in the adventures of Æneas or Telemachus, as in those of Themistocles, Xenophon, or any of the heroes


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