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“ In the name of common sense, why should the Duke of Bedford think, that none but of the House of Russell are entitled to the favour of the crown? Why should he imagine that no King of England has been capable of judging of merit but King Henry the Eighth ? Indeed, he will pardon me; he is a little mistaken; all virtue did not end in the first Earl of Bedford ; discernment did not lose its vision when his Creator closed his eyes. Let him remit his rigour on the disproportion between merit and reward in others, and they will make no inquiry into the origin of his fortune. They will regard with much more satisfaction, as he will contemplate with infinitely more advantage, whatever in his pedigree has been dulci. fied, by an exposure to the influence of heaven in a long flow of generations, from the hard, acidulous, metallic tincture of the spring. It is little to be doubted, that several of his forefathers in that long series have degenerated into honour and virtue.”
This figure is admirably adapted for reproving vice and folly, and rendering them ridiculous by a species of latent mockery. Thus, “ Although I would have you instil early into your “ children's breasts the love of cruelty, yet by no means call • it by its true name, but encourage them in it under the name 66 of fun.”
Sarcasm is an inflection of this trope, and is irony of the most embittered kind; as, “ Behold the dreamer cometh.” This figure is generally used when a dead or dying person is insulted with scoffs; as that of the Jews over the Saviour of mankind : “ He saved others, himself he cannot save ; “ Hail, King of the Jews ;” or that of Tomyris over the corpse of Cyrus, whose head she caused to be struck off, and thrown into a bowl filled with blood, saying at the same time, Satia te sanguine, quem sitisti : “ Take now thy fill of blood, which thou hast always thirsted after.”
The language in which the dead of Hades accosted the king of Babylon is the very perfection of biting reproof: “ Is this the man who made the earth to tremble ? Art thou become weak like unto us?” Junius, in his letter to the Duke of Grafton, also exhibits a splendid instance of this figure : “ The character of the reputed ancestors of some men,” and ending 6 without the reputation of a martyr.” In Milton's figurative mode of expression, “ He with his thunder,” in which Satan disdains to utter the name of the Deity, though he cannot but acknowledge his superiority, a striking instance of sarcastic pride and insult is presented to the reader. The fortieth verse of the twenty-seventh chapter of St. Matthew, the eleventh verse of the fourteenth chapter of Exodus, and the tenth verse of the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, also contain beautiful exemplifications of this figure.
The euphemism is a verbal figure employed to express a word or phrase in terms not offensive, which by its direct mention might be offensive or indecorous. Thus, the words “ deceased” and “ departed” are employed by this figure for dead and died; and the expressions "stopping payment" for becoming bankrupt; “perishing on the scaffold” for being hanged; "slept with his fathers " for being buried or interred with, &c. It is also by this figure that the Scripture expression of “falling asleep" is used instead of dying; and that Martha made use of the word “smelleth " instead of stinketh, in her answer to our Saviour, when he gave directions for the removal of the stone from the sepulchre of her brother Lazarus. It is also by the same figure that Terence puts into the mouth of
a dramatis personæ the phrase “ibo quo saturi solent,” to express one of the common calls or imperfections of our nature; and that Cicero, in his defence of Milo, instead of admitting that Milo's servants had been accessary to the murder of their master's enemy, says (Fecerunt id servi, quod suos quisque servos in tali re facere voluisset) “ They did that which every master would have wished his servants to do in such an exigence.” The brevity and delicacy with which Antilochus conveys the account of Patroclus's death to Achilles for the purpose of mitigating the bitterness of the communication (“ Keitat, llatgoxhos," &c.), is a beautiful specimen of this figure.
The exaggeration, or, according to Greek terminology, the hyperbole, consists in representing objects either greater or smaller, or better or worse, than they really are; that is, in bestowing on them exaggerated epithets either in magnifying or lessening them beyond the bounds of strict truth. Thus, the evangelist's description of the deeds of the Saviour, that “ if “ they should be written every one of them, that even the " world itself could not contain the books that should be « written;"—the promise of the progress of population among the posterity of Abraham, “ I will make thy seed as the dust of “ the earth ; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, “ then shall thy seed also be numbered;"--Homer's allegorical description of Discord,
“ Her head she raised to heaven, and trod on earth; "
“ So frowned the mighty combatants, that Hell
Grew darker at their frown;"
Stones of Rome to rise and mutiny;" are fine specimens of this figure.
Cicero's exaggeration of the luxury and atrocity of Antony is also a beautiful exemplification of the hyperbole: (“ Quæ “ Charybdis tam vorax ? Charybdem dico? Quæ si fuit, fuit « animal unum, Oceanus, medius fidius, vix videtur, tot res “ tam dissipatas, tam distantibus in locis positas, tam cito “ absorbere potuisse ?”) “Was Charybdis herself so voracious ? “ But why do I talk of Charybdis ? It seems impossible for “ the ocean to swallow so much wealth derived from dominions
so wide, and quarters so various."
THE SIMILE, OR COMPARISON,
The simile or comparison, which is one of the greatest ornaments of composition, as it enlivens and enforces thought and expression, is a figure of speech which draws a similitude between two objects, for the purpose of illustrating one, and giving a more forcible expression to it, by resembling it to the other; and may be considered as differing in form only from a metaphor, the resemblance being stated in the simile, which in the metaphor is implied. Thus, “charity, like the sun, brightens
every object on which it shines.” Ossian's comparison of the effect of music on the mind to the recollection of departed joys is picturesque and beautiful.
“ The music of Carryl was, “ like the memory of joys that are past, pleasant, and mournful “ to the soul.” And the two following similes of the same poet, who is exceedingly happy and correct in his illustrations
of this figure, are inimitably beautiful and affecting, especially that in which the fatal effects of sorrow on the mind are compared to the blighting influence of mildew on flowers : “ Open, “ like the evening sun, comes the memory of former times on
“ They are wasted with mourning, and their “ days are few. They fall away like the flower on which the
sun looks in his strength, after the mildew has passed over it, « and its head is heavy with the drops of night.”
Milton's comparison of Satan's appearance after his fall to that of the sun suffering an eclipse, and affrighting the nations with portentous darkness, is remarkable for the happy and dignified character of the similitude. So Homer's comparison (Iliad, bk. 8. 1. 405) of the valour of Hector, when pursuing the Greeks, to the boldness of the blood-hound when attacking the lion, presents to the imagination a vivid picture of the nature of the contest, and the acts and maneuvres of the combatants.
Shakspeare's comparison of the effects of concealed love to the gnawing of a worm on the leaf of a flower-bud is exquisitely beautiful :
She never told her love,
Smiling at grief.”
And hangs on Dian's temple,” is, notwithstanding the opinion of Lord Kames to the contrary (Elements of Criticism, chap. 19) appropriate and picturesque;