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analogy, as it rises in immediate suggestion, and identifies it, as it were, with the object or emotion which it describes; the simile presents, not the analogy merely, but the two analogous objects, and traces their resemblance to each other with the formality of regular comparison. The metaphor, therefore, is the figure of passion; the simile the figure of calm description. In the drama, accordingly, as the most faithful poetic representation of passion, the simile should be of rare occurrence, and never but in situations in which the speaker may be considered as partaking almost the tranquillity of the poet himself. Thus, to take a well-known instance of error in this respect, when Portius, in the tragedy of Cato, at the very moment in which Lucia, whom he loves, has just bid him farewell forever, and when he is struggling to detain traces all the resemblances of his passion to the flame of a fading lamp, we feel immediately, that a lover who could so fully develope a comparison, and a comparison, too, derived from an object the least likely to occur to him at such a moment, could not be suffering any very great agony of heart.
"Farewell,” says Lucia;
To which Portius, hanging over her in despair, immediately re-
“ Thus o'er the dying lamp, the unsteady flame
The speech, it may be remarked, by combining a simile and metaphor, in the compass of a very few lines, presents at once a specimen of a figure which suits, and a figure which is altogether inconsistent with a state of passion. If the three lines which describe the flame of a lamp had been omitted, and only the conclusion retained,
“ Thou must not go! My soul still hovers e'er thee,
Act III. Scene 2.
there would still have been an analogy borrowed from a remote object, but an analogy implied not developed, and expressed with the rapidity with which such analogies really arise.
It may perhaps be thought, that even the analogy implied in a metaphor, as it is borrowed from objects not immediately present, and not essential to the emotion, is inconsistent with the natural direction of the suggesting principle in a state of violent feeling. But it is the nature of strong feelings to give to the whole character, for the time, a greater elevation, which enables it to comprehend, as it were, within its vision a greater multitude of kindred objects than can be grasped by it in its unimpassioned state, and to diffuse itself over them all, as if they were living and sympathizing parts of itself. If we attend to what occurs in real life, we shall find, that the metaphor, far from being unnatural, is almost a necessary part of the language of emotion, and that it is then that the language of prose makes its nearest approach to the language of poetry. Indeed, as poetry seems to have originated in the expression of lively feeling, it would have been truly singular if its language had been the least suited to the state in which such feel. ings are expressed.
“ I cannot believe,” says the younger Racine, in his Reflections on Poetry,—“I cannot believe, with Aristotle, that figures of speech are only expressions disguised, for the purpose of pleasing by the mere astonishment which their disguise affords ; nor with Quinctilian and Rollin, that they are expressions which the indigence of our language obliges us to borrow,—when I reflect, that we speak, without intending it, a figurative language whenever we are animated by passion. It is then that words derived from foreign objects present themselves so naturally, that it would be impossible to reject them, and to speak only in common terms. To be convinced of this, we have only to listen to a dispute between women of the lowest rank, who cannot be suspected of any very refined search for expressions. Yet what an abundance of figures do they use ! They lavish the metomyny, the catachresis, the hyperbole, and all those other tropes, which in spite of the pompous names that have been given to them by rhetoricians, are only forms of familiar speech used in common by them and by the
* C. III. Art I.-@uvres, tom. V. p. 63.
The discovery of the metonymy and catachresis, in the wranglings of the mob, has certainly a considerable resemblance to the discovery which Cornelius Scriblerus made of the ten prædicaments of logic, in the battle of the serjeant and the butcher in the Bear-garden.
6 Cornelius was forced to give Martin sensible images ; thus, calling up the coachman, he asked him what he had seen in Beargarden ? the man answered he saw two men fight a prize ; one was a fair man, a serjeant in the guards ; the other black, a butcher; the serjeant had red breeches, the butcher blue; they fought upon a stage about four o'clock, and the serjeant wounded the butcher in the leg.–Mark (quoth Cornelius) how the fellow runs through the prædicaments. Men, substantia; two, quantitas ; fair and black, qualitas ; serjéant and butcher, relatio ; wounded the other, actio et passio ; fighting, situs ; stage, ubi ; two a clock, quando; blue and red breeches, habitus.'
“ Nothing is more evident,” says the same author, " than that divers persons, no other way remarkable, have each a strong disposition to the formation of some particular trope or figure. Aristotle saith, that the hyperbole is an ornament fit for young men of quality ; accordingly we find in those gentlemen a wonderful propensity toward it, which is marvellously improved by travelling. Soldiers also and seamen are very happy in the same figure. The periphrasis or circumlocution is the peculiar talent of country farmers; the proverb or apologue of old men at their clubs; the ellipsis or speech by half words, of ministers and politicians, the aposiopesis, of courtiers, the litotes or diminution of ladies, whisperers and backbiters, and the anadiplosis of common criers and hawkers, who by redoubling the same words, persuade people to buy their oysters, green hastings, or new ballads. Epithets may be found in great plenty at Billingsgate, sarcasm and irony learned upon the water, and the epiphonema or exclamation frequently from the Bear-garden, and as frequently from the hear him of the House of Commons.”+
These examples are ludicrous, indeed; yet the observation of Racine is not the less just ; and we may safely conclude, however different it may be from the opinion which we should have formed a priori, that when the mind is in a state of emotion, the sugges• Chap. vii.
† Art of Sinking in Poetry, c. XIII, 3
tions of analogy arise with more than usual copiousness and rapidity, and that figurative language is thus the very language of nature.
But though, in a state of emotion, images are readily suggested, according to that principle of shadowy and remote resemblance, which we are considering, it must be remembered, as a rule which is to guide us in the use of figures, that in this case the mind seizes the analogy with almost unconscious comparison, and pours it forth in its vigorous, expression, with the rapidity of inspiration. It does not dwell on the analogy beyond the moment, but is hurried on to new analogies, which it seizes and deserts in like
This rapidity with which analogies are seized and deserted, seems to me to justify, in some degree, in the drama, and in highly impassioned poetry of every kind, what in poetry or general composition, of a calmer kind, would be unpardonable inaccuracy. In the case of mixed metaphor, for instance, as when Hamlet talks of taking arms against a sea of troubles, nothing can be clearer than that there is an incongruity of phrase in the different parts of the sentence, since it is not with a sword or a spear that we stem the waves; and as the inconsistent images occur in the short compass of a single line, and are a part of a meditative soliloquy, a greater congruity might unquestionably have been preserved with advantage. But when the objection is made universal, and applied to every case of expression, even of the strongest passion, in which any mixture of metaphors occurs in the imagery of the longest sentence, I cannot but think that this universal censure has arisen from that technical criticism, which thinks only of tropes and figures and the formal laws of rhetoric, and not from that sounder criticism which founds its judgments on the everlasting principles of our intellectual and moral nature. In conformity with these principles, a long and exact adherence to all the congruities of an image that has been accidentally used in a former part of a sentence or paragraph, though indispensably necessary in every species of calm composition, is yet rather censurable than commendable in scenes of dramatic passion. If the speaker be supposed to reflect that he is using a comparison, it is a proof that he is not impassioned at this moment of reflection ; and if he be supposed to use the metaphorical expression only from its greater strength, as it bursts upon him immediately and
without any attention to the various properties of the object, which suggested it perhaps by a single analogy,--nothing can be more just, in point of nature, than that a subsequent expression should chance to have little agreement with those other properties which never were real objects of his thought. When a metaphor is comprised in a few words--and it is of such brief metaphors that the poetic language of passion should in preference be composed --the image should be faithfully observed; because the metaphorical expression does not then outlast the feeling of analogy which originally suggested it. But it is very different when it extends through a long sentence. To follow it out rigidly, for several lines, in the expression of strong feeling, is an evident departure from nature ; since it is to have a remote object of analogy constantly in view during the whole time of the emotion. To seize a new metaphor, or, in other words, to think no more of a metaphorical expression, when it has already exhibited all the analogy that was felt at the time, when it rose as it were to our utterance, is to be conscious only of our emotion itself, and to speak with that instant inspiration which it gives. It may be to mix metaphors, in the common rhetorical sense of that phrase, but it is assuredly to be faithful to nature. It must not be forgotten, however, that it is only to the eloquence of strong passion that such a licence is allowable; and that it cannot be admitted in any case, in which the very image conveyed in the primary metaphor can be supposed, without impropriety, to be itself a continued object of the speaker's thought.
The simile, as I have already remarked, is a figure of more deliberate reflection than the metaphor; yet, notwithstanding the intellectual labour which it seems to imply, it is evident, that, in the pleasure which we receive from it, we still have in view its source in the general principle of spontaneous suggestion. It is not every simile, therefore, however just, that pleases; but such only, that seem to be derived from objects that might naturally be expected to occur to the mind in the situation in which the comparison is made. We talk of far-fetched similies, not as implying that there is no real analogy in the objects which they compare, or that the analogy is not as complete as in many other comparisons to which we do not give that name, but merely because the analogy is sought in objects, the natural occurrence of which to