Page images
PDF
EPUB

Blended in horrid and incestuous bonds!
See ! fathers, brothers, sons, a dire alliance!
See! sisters, wives and mothers! all the names
That e'er from lust or incest cou'd arise.

All these terms denote on the one side Oedipus only, and on the other Jocasta. But the number thrown into the plural, seems to multiply the misfortunes of that unfortunate pair. So another poet has made use of the same method of increase,

Then Hectors and Sarpedons issued forth.

Of this Figure is that expression of Plato concerning the Athenians, quoted by me in my other writings. " For neither do the

Pelops's, nor the Cadmus's, nor the Ægyptus’s, nor the Danaus's dwell here with us, nor indeed

any

others of barbarous descent, " but we ourselves, Grecians entirely, not

having our blood debased by barbarian “ mixtures, dwell here alone,”' &c. * When the words are thus confusedly thrown into multitudes, one upon another, they excite in us greater and more elevated ideas of things. Yet recourse is not to be had to this Figure on all' occasions, but then only when the subject will admit of an Amplification, an

66

66

* Plato in Menexeno, p. 245. ed. Par.

EnlargeEnlargement, Hyperbolé, or Passion, either one or more.', 'For to hang such trappings to every passage is highly pedantic.

;- ?; ;! :; ; ; si

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

X

SECTION XXIV. On the contrary also, plurals reduced and contracted into singulars, have sometimes much grandeur and magnificence.

66 sides

166 Be

" For to hang such trappings, &c.] I have given this passage such a túrn as, I hope, will clear the meaning to an English reader. The literal translation is, “ For “ hånging the bells

every

where savours too much of “ the sophist or pedant." The metaphor is borrowed from a custom among the ancients, who, at public games and concourses, were used to hang little bells (uudaves) on the bridles and trapping of their horses, that their continual chiming might add pomp to the solemnity.

The robe or ephod of the high-priest, in the Mosaic dispensation, had this ornament of bells, though another reason, besides the pomp and dignity of the sound, is alledged for it in Exodus xxviii. 33.

Besides all Peloponnesus.] Instead of, “ all the “ inhabitants of Peloponnesus, were at that time rent “ into factions."

St. Paul makes use of this figure, jointly with a change of person, on several occasions, and with different views. In Rom. vii. to avoid the direct charge of disobedience on the whole body of the Jews, he transfers the discourse into the first person, and so charges L

the

1

* sides all Peloponnesus was at that time rent 66 into factions*.' And, “ At the

represen“ tation of Phrynichus' tragedy, called, The

Siege of Miletus, ? the whole theatre was. “ melted into tears t." For uniting thus one complete number out of several distinct, ren-; ders a discourse more nervous and solid. But the beauty, in each of these figures, arises

2

the insufficiency and frailty of all his countrymen on himself, to guard against the invidiousness which an open accusation might have drawn upon him. See ver. 925 * Demosth. orat. de corona, p. 17. ed. Oxon.

The whole theatre. Instead of,“ all the people in " the theatre.” Miletus was a city of lonia, which the Persians besieged and took. Phrynichus, a tragic poet,, brought a play on the stage about the demolition of this city. But the Athenians (as Herodotus informs us) fined him a thousand drachme, for ripping open afresh their domestic sores; and published an edict, that no one should ever after write on that subject. PEARCE.

Shakespeare makes a noble use of this Figure, in the following lines from his Antony and Cleopatra, though in the close, there is a very strong dash of the Hyperbolé :

-The city cast
Her people out upon her, and Antony
Enthron’d i'th' market-place, did sit alone
Whistling to th' air; which but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made in nature,
+ Herod. I. 6. 6. 21.

DR.

from

a gap

from the same cause, which is the unexpected change of a word into its opposite number. For when Singulars occur unexpectedly to multiply them into Plurals, and by a sudden and unforeseen change, to contract Plurals into one Singular sounding and emphatical, is the mark of a pathetic speaker,

N

SECTION XXV. When you introduce things past as actually present, and in the moment of action, you no longer relate, but display, the very action before the

eyes

of “A soldier, says Xenophon*, falls down “ under Cyrus' horse, and being trampled “ under foot, wounds him in the belly with “ his sword. The horse, impatient of the “wound, flings about and throws off Cyrus.

your readers.

[ocr errors]

So Virgil Æn. l. xi. ver. 637.
Orsilochus Romuli, quando ipsum horrebat adire,
Hastam intorsit equo, ferrumque sub aure reliquit.
Quo sonipes ictu furit arduus, altaque jactat
Vulneris impatiens adrecto pectore crura.
Volvitur ille excussus humi.-

By making use of the present tense, Virgil makes the reader see almost with his eyes, the wound of the horse, and the fall of the warrior.--DR. PEARCE. Xenophon de Cyri institut. 1. 7.

" He

L 2

“ He falls to the ground.”. Thucydides very frequently makes use of this Figure.

[ocr errors]

SECTION XXVI.
CHANGE of Persons has also a wonderful
effect, in setting the very things before our
eyes, and making the hearer think himself
actually present and concerned in dangers,
when he is only attentive to a recital of them.
No force could vanquish them, thou would'st

have thought,
No toil fatigue, so furiously they fought*.
And so Aratust;
O

put not thou to sea in that sad month! 1

1

* Iliad. o. ver. 698. + Arati Phænom. v. 287.

Virgil supplies another instance of the efficacy of this Figure, in the En. l. viii. ver. 689.

Una omnes ruere, ac totum spumare reductis
Convolsum remis rostrisque tridentibus æquor.
Alta petunt: pelago credas innare revolsas
Cycladas, aut montés concurrere montibus altos.
The allusions in the last two lines prodigiously
heighten and exalt the subject. So Tasso describes the
horror of a battle very pompously, in his Gierusalemme
Liberata. Canto 9no.

L'horror, la crudelta, la tema, il lutto

Van d'intorno scorrendo: et in varia imago
Vincitrice la morte errar per tutto
Vedresti, et andeggiar di sangue un lago.

And

« PreviousContinue »