Page images
PDF
EPUB

What? must the faithful servants of my lord
Forego their tasks for them to crown the board?
I scorn their love, and I detest their sight;
And may they share their last of feasts to night!
Why thus, ungen'rous men, devour my son?
Why riot thus, till he be quite undone?
Heedless of him, yet timely hence retire,
And fear the vengeance of his awful sire.
Did not your fathers oft his might commend?
And children you the wond'rous tale attend?
That injur'd hero you return'd may see,
Think what he was, and dread what he

may

be.

1

SECTION XXVIII. That a Periphrasis (or Circumlocution) is a cause of Sublimity, no body, I think, can deny. For as in music an important word is rendered more sweet, by the divisions which are run harmoniously upon it; so a Periphrasis sweetens a discourse carried on in propriety of language, and contributes very much to the ornament of it, especially if there be po jarring or discord in it, but every part be judiciously and musically tem

As does a passage also in the poetical book of Job, ch. xvi. ver. 7, where, after he had said of God, " But “ now he hath made me weary," by a sudden transition, he addresses his speech to God in the words immediately following, “ Thou hast made desolate all my “ company."

pered,

DR. PEARCE.

pered. This

may

be established beyond dispute from a passage of Plato, in the beginning of his Funeral Oration. 6'? We have “ now discharged the last duties we owe to « these our departed friends, who thus pro

1

Archbishop Tillotson will afford us an instance of the use of this Figure, on the same thought almost as that quoted by Longinus from Plato.

" When we consider that we have but a little while " to be here, that we are upon our journey travelling " towards our heavenly country, where we shall meet " with all the delights we can desire, it ought not to “ trouble us much to endure storms and foul ways,

and “ to want many of those accommodations we might “ expect at home. This is the common fate of travel

lers, and we must take things as we find them, and “not look to have every thing just to our mind. These « difficulties and inconveniencies will shortly be over, " and after a few days will be quite forgotten, and be to

us as though they had never been. And when we “ are safely landed in our own country, with what plea«

sure shall we look back on these rough and boisterous " seas we have escaped?” Ist vol. p. 98, folio.

In each passage Death is the principal thought, to which all the circumstances of the Circumlocutions chiefly refer ; but the Archbishop has wound it up to a greater height, and tempered it with more agreeable and more extensive sweetness. Plato inters his heroes, and then bids them adieu; but the christian orator conducts them to a better world, from whence he gives them a retrospect of that through which they have passed, to enlarge the comforts, and give them a higher enjoyment of the future.

[ocr errors]

66 vided,

o vided, make the fatal voyage. They have “ been conducted publicly on their way by “ the whole body of the city, and in a pri“ vate capacity by their parents and rela«« tions." Here he calls Death the fatal voyage, and discharging the Funeral Offices, a public conducting of them by their country. And who can deny that the sentiment by this means is

very much exalted? or that Plato, by infusing a melodious Circumlocution, has' tempered a naked and barren thought with harmony and sweetness? So Xenophon*: “ You look upon toil as the guide “ to a happy life. Your souls are possessed “ of the best qualification that can adorn ą “ martial breast. Nothing produces in you “ such sensible emotions of joy as commen“ dation.” By expressing an inclination to endure toil in this Circumlocution, “ You “ look upon labour as the guide to a happy “ life;" and by enlarging some other words after the same manner, he has not only exalted the sense, but given new grace to his encomium. So that inimitable

So that inimitable passage of Herodotust: “ The goddess afflicted those

* Xenophon. Cyropæd. lib. 1.
+ Herod. l. 1. c. 105.

Scythians,

[ocr errors]

Scythians, who had sacrilegiously pillaged “ her temple, with 2 the female disease.”

SECTION XXIX.

1

CIRCUMLOCUTION is indeed more dangerous than any other kind of figure, unless it be used with great circumspection; it is otherwise very apt to grow trifling and insipid, and savour strongly of pedantry and dulness. For this reason Plato (though for the generality superior to all in his figures,

The beauty of this periphrasis, which Longinus so highly commends, appears not at present. Commentators indeed have laboured hard to discover what this disease was, and abundance of remarks, learned and curious to be sure, have been made upon it. The best way

will be to imitate the decorum of Herodotus, and leave it still a mystery.

· Circumlocution is indeed, &c.-) Shakespeare, in King Richard the Second, has made sick John of Gaunt pour out such a multitude to express England, as never was, nor ever will be met with again. Some of them indeed sound very finely, at least, in the ears of an Englishman: for instance,

This royal throne of kings, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demy paradise,
This fortress built by nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea.-

yet

yet being sometimes too lavish of them) is ridiculed very much for the following expression in his Treatise of Laws*: “ It is “ not to be permitted, that wealth of either “gold or silver should get footing or settle “ in a city.”. Had he, say the critics, forbidden the passession of cattle, he might have called it the wealth of mutton and beef.

And now, what has been said on this subject, will, I presume, my dear Terentianus, abundantly shew, of what service Figures may be in producing the Sublime. For it is manifest, that all I have mentioned render compositions more pathetic and affecting. For the Pathetic partakes as much of the Sublime, as writing exactly in rule and character can do of the Agreeable.

PART IV.

SECTION XXX. But since the sentiments and the language of compositions are generally best explained by the light they throw upon one another, let us in the next place consider, what it is

* Plato de legibus, 1. 5. p. 741. ed. Par.

that

« PreviousContinue »