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Rhetorical tropes.... Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity.
shows evidently, that the latter have made the earliest impressions, have by consequence first obtained names in every tongue, and are still, as it were, more, present with us, and strike the imagination more forcibly than the former.
Ir may be said, that if this observation be true, it is to no purpose to mention, as a method of enlivening the diction, the representing of intelligible things by sensible images, since it is impossible by language to represent them otherwise. To this I answer, that the words of which I am speaking, I call metaphors in their origin; notwithstanding which, they may be at present, agreeably to what was formerly observed, proper terms.
When speaking of tropes in general, it was remarked, that many words, which to a grammatical eye appear metaphors, are in the rhetorician's estimate no metaphors at all. The ground of this difference is, that the grammarian and the rhetorician try the words by very different tests. The touchstone of the former is etymology, that of the latter is present use. The former peruseth a page, and perhaps finds not in the whole ten words that are not metaphorical; the latter examines the same page, and doth not discover in it a single metaphor. What critic, for example, would ever think of applying this appellation to terms such as these, spirit, evidence, understanding, reflection? Or what etymologist would not acknowledge, that to this trope solely these terms had owed their birth?
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
BUT I proceed to give examples of vivacity by true rhetorical metaphors, wherein things sensible are brought to signify things intelligible. Of this the following is one from Pope :
At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name,
Here the almost irresistible influence of general manners, which is an object purely of the understanding, is very appositely and vivaciously represented by a torrent, an object both of the sight and of the feeling. By the same vivid kind of metaphor, light is used for knowledge, bridle for restraint; we speak of burning with zeal, being inflamed with anger, and having a rooted prejudice.
Bur metaphor is not the only trope which can in this way confer vivacity, metonymy frequently in a similar manner promotes the same end. One very common species of the metonymy is, when the badge is put for the office, and this invariably exhibits a sensible in lieu of an intelligible object. Thus we say the mitre for the priesthood, the crown for royalty; for the military occupation we say the sword, and for the literary professions, those especially of theology, law, and medicine, the common expression is the gown. Often also in those metonymies wherein the cause is put for the effect, and contrariwise, in those
Sect. II. Rhetorical tropes.... Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity.
wherein the effect is put for the cause, we have the same thing exemplified, a sensible object presented to the mind instead of an intelligible. Of the former, the cause for the effect, the following lines of Dryden may serve as an illustration:
Though the rhime had permitted the change, the word sun-shine instead of sun, would have rendered the expression weaker. The luminary itself is not only a nobler and distincter, but a more immediate object to the imagination than its effulgence, which though in some respect sensible as well as the other, is in some respect merely intelligible, it not being perceived directly no more than the air, but discovered by reflection from the things which it enlightens. Accordingly we ascribe to it neither magnitude nor figure, and scarce with propriety even colour. As an exemplification of the latter, the effect or something consequential for the cause, or at least the implement for the motive of using it, these words of scripture will serve," the sword without, and terror "within †,” where the term sword, which presents a particular and perceiveable image to the fancy, must be more picturesque than the word war, which conveys an idea that is vague and only conceivable, not being otherwise sensible but by its consequences.
* Dryden's Perseus.
Deut. xxxii. 25.
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
4. Things animate for things lifeless.
A FOURTH way in which tropes may promote vivacity, is, when things sensitive are presented to the fancy instead of things lifeless; or, which is nearly the same, when life, perception, activity, design, passion, or any property of sentient beings, is by means of the trope attributed to things inanimate. It is not more evident that the imagination is more strongly affected by things sensible than by things intelligible, than it is evident that things animate awaken greater attention, and make a stronger impression on the mind than things senseless. It is for this reason that the quality of which I am treating, hath come to be termed vivacity, or liveliness of style.
IN exemplifying what hath been now advanced, I shall proceed in the method which I took in the former article, and begin with metaphor. By a metaphor of this kind, a literary performance hath been styled the offspring of the brain; by it a state or government in its first stage is represented as a child, in these lines of Dryden,
When empire in its childhood first appears,
A watchful fate o'ersees its tender years
In the two last examples we have things lifeless exhi
Rhetorical tropes....Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity.
bited by things animate. In the following, wherein the effect is much the same, sense, feeling, and affection, are ascribed metaphorically to inanimate matter. Thomson, describing the influence of the sunbeams upon the snow in the valley, thus vividly and beautifully expresseth himself,
Perhaps the vale,
Relents a while to the reflected ray t.
Every hedge," says the Tatler, "was conscious of "more than what the representations of enamoured "swains admit of t." Who sees not how much of their energy these quotations owe to the two words relents and conscious? I shall only add, that it is the same kind of metaphor which has brought into usé such expressions as the following: a happy period, a learned age, the thirsty ground, a melancholy disaster.
THERE are several sorts of the metonymy which answer the same purpose. The first I shall mention, is that wherein the inventor is made to denote the invention, Ceres, for instance, to denote bread, Bacchus wine, Mars war, or any of the pagan deities to denote that in which he is specially interested, as Neptune the sea, Pluto hell, Pallas wisdom, and Venus the -amorous affection. It must be owned, that as this kind seems even by the ancients to have been confined to the discoveries, attributes, or dominions ascrib
Tatler, No. 7.