Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ELEMENTS

O F

CRITICIS M.

CHA P. XIX.

COMPARISONS.

C

OMPARISONS, as obferved above*, ferve two different purposes: When addressed to the understanding, their purpose is to instruct; when to the heart, their purpose is to give pleasure. With refpect to the latter, a comparison may be employ'd to produce various pleafures by different means. First, by fuggefting fome unusual

* Chap. 8.

[blocks in formation]

:

refemblance or contraft: fecond, by fetting an object in the strongest light: third, by affociating an object with others that are agreeable fourth, by elevating an object : and, fifth, by depreffing it. And that comparisons may produce various pleasures by these different means, appears from what is faid in the chapter above cited; and will be made ftill more evident by examples, which shall be given after premising some general obfervations.

An object of one fenfe cannot be compared to an object of another; for fuch objects are totally feparated from each other, and have no circumftance in common to admit either resemblance or contraft. Objects of hearing may be compared, as alfo of tafte, and of touch. But the chief fund of comparison are objects of fight; because, in writing or speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of vifible objects are by far more lively than those of

other fenfe.

any

It has no good effect to compare things by way of fimile that are of the fame kind, nor to contrast things of different kinds. The

The reason is given in the chapter cited above; and the reason fhall be illuftrated by examples. The firft is a refemblance inftituted betwixt two objects fo nearly related as to make little or no impreffion.

This juft rebuke inflam'd the Lycian crew, They join, they thicken, and th' affault renew; Unmov'd th'embody'd Greeks their fury dare, And fix'd fupport the weight of all the war;

b

Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian pow'rs, Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian tow'rs. As on the confines of adjoining grounds,

Two ftubborn fwains with blows difpute their bounds;

They tugg, they fweat; but neither gain, nor yield,

One foot, one inch, of the contended field: Thus obftinate to death, they fight, they fall; Nor thefe can keep, nor thofe can win the wall. Iliad, xii. 505.

Another from Milton labours under the fame defect. Speaking of the fallen angels fearching for mines of gold:

A numerous brigade haften'd: as when bands.
Of pioneers with fpade and pick-ax arm'd`

Forerun

Forerun the royal camp to trench a field

Or caft a rampart.

The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.

Queen. What, is my Richard both in shape and mind

Transform'd and weak? Hath Bolingbroke depos'd

Thine intellect? Hath he been in thy heart?
The lion, dying, thrusteth forth his paw,
And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage
To be o'erpower'd: and wilt thou, pupil-like,
Take thy correction mildly, kifs the rod,
And fawn on rage with base humility?
Richard II. at 5. fc. 1.

This comparison has fcarce any force. A man and a lion are of different fpecies; and there is no fuch refemblance betwixt them in general, as to produce any ftrong effect by contrasting particular attributes or circumftances.

A third general obfervation is, That abstract terms can never be the subject of comparison, otherwise than by being personified. Shakespear

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »