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Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.

2. The most interesting circumstance distinguished,

THE second way I shall take notice of, wherein the use of tropes may conduce to vivacity, is, when the trope tends to fix the attention on that particular of the subject which is most interesting, or on which the action related, or fact referred to, immediately depends. This bears a resemblance to the former method; for by that an individual serves to exhibit a species, and a species a genus; by this a part is made to represent the whole, the abstract, as logicians term it, to suggest the concrete, the passion its object, the operation its subject, the instrument the agent, and the gift the giver. The tropes which contribute in this way to invigorate the expression, are these two, the synecdoché and the metonymy.

FOR an illustration of this in the synecdoché, let it be observed, that, by this trope, the word band is sometimes used for man, especially one employed in manual labour. Now, in such expressions as the following,

All bands employ'd the royal work

* grows warm ;

it is obvious, from the principles above explained, that the trope contributes to vivacity, and could not be with equal advantage supplied by a proper term. But in such phrases as these, "One of the hands fell over

* Dryden.

Rhetorical tropes....Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity. "board:" "All our hands were asleep :" it is ridiculous, as what is affirmed hath no particular relation to the part specified. The application of tropes in this undistinguishing manner, is what principally characterises the contemptible cant of particular professions. I shall give another example. A sail with us frequently denotes a ship. Now, to say, "We descried a "sail at a distance," hath more vivacity than to say, "We descried a ship,” because in fact the sail is that part which is first discovered by the eye; but to say, "Our sails ploughed the main," instead of " our ships ploughed the main," would justly be accounted nonsensical, because what is metaphorically termed ploughing the main, is the immediate action of the keel, a very different part of the vessel. To produce but one other instance, the word roof is emphatically put for house in the following quotation :


Sect. II.


Return to her? and fifty men dismiss'd?
No; rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,
To wage against the enmity o' th' air,
Necessity's sharp pinch +-

The notion of a house as a shelter from the inclemencies of the sky, alluded to in these lines, directly leads the imagination to form a more vivid idea of that part of the building which is over our heads ‡.

Shakespeare's Lear.

The Latin example quoted from Tully in a note on the first

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Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.

Ir was observed, that the metonymy also contributes in this way to vivacity. It doth so by substituting the instrument for the agent, by employing the abstract to represent the concrete, or by naming the passion for its object, the gift for the giver, the operation for the subject. Of the first sort, the instances are very common; as when we say of a poem, that it is the production of an elegant pen, instead of an elegant writer. In the same way pencil is sometimes used for painter. It must be owned, that the triteness

part of this Section, affords a good illustration of this doctrine."Cujus latus ille mucro petebat ?" Mucro for gladius, the point for the weapon, is in this place a trope particularly apposite. From the point the danger immediately proceeds; to it therefore, in any assault, the eye both of the assailant and of the assailed, are naturally directed; of the one that he may guide it aright, and of the other that he may avoid it. Consequently on it the imagination will fix, as on that particular which is the most interesting, because on it the event directly depends: and wherever the expression thus happily assists the fancy, by coinciding with its natural bent, the sentiment is exhibited with vivacity. We may remark, by the way, that the specifying of the part aimed at, by saying Cujus latus, and not simply quem, makes the expression still more graphical. Yet latus here is no trope, else it had been Quod latus, not Cujus latus. But that we may conceive the difference between such a proper use of tropes, as is here exemplified, and such an injudicious use as noway tends to enliven the expression, let us suppose the orator had intended to say, "He held a sword in his hand." If, instead of the proper word, he had employed the synecdoché, and said, “mucro66 nem manu tenebat," he would have spoken absurdly, and counteracted the bent of the fancy, which, in this instance, leads the attention to the hilt of the sword, not to the point..


Rhetorical tropes....Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity.

of such expressions considerably lessens their value, and that for a reason explained in the preceding part of this Section. It is however certain, that what vivacity can justly be ascribed to them, ariseth purely from the principle which hath just now been illustrated in the synecdoché; namely, a coincidence in the expression with the bent of the imagination, both pointing to that particular with which the subject spoken of is immediately connected. Nay, so close is the relation between this species of the metonymy, and that of the synecdoché above exemplified, that the same expression may sometimes be considered indifferently as belonging to either trope. Thus, in the quotation brought from Dryden, "All hands employ"ed," it is of no consequence whether we denominate the word hands one or other, a part for the whole, or the instrument for the agent.

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Sect. II.

THE second species of metonymy mentioned, the abstract for the concrete, occurs much seldomer, but hath also in the same way a very good effect. Isaac Bickerstaff, in his lucubrations, acquaints us with a visit which an eminent rake and his companions made to a Protestant nunnery erected in England by some ladies of rank. "When he entered," says the author,

upon seeing a servant coming towards him, with a

design to tell him, this was no place for them, up goes my grave impudence to the maid *." Every

*Tatler, No. 32.

Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.

body must perceive, that the expression would have been incomparably fainter, if he had said, "Up goes "my grave impudent fellow to the maid." The reason is obvious, an impudent fellow means one who, amongst other qualities, has that of impudence; whereas, by personifying the abstract, you leave no room for thinking of any other quality; the attention is entirely fixed on that to which the action related is imputable, and thus the natural tendency of the fancy is humoured by the expression.


THE last species of this trope I took notice of, if that can be called one species which is so various in its appearances, presenting us sometimes with the passion instead of its object, sometimes with the operation instead of its subject, and sometimes with the gift instead of the giver, is in very frequent use. By this trope the Almighty hath been styled the terror "of the oppressor, and the refuge of the oppressed;" which though the same in sense, is more emphatical than "the object of terror to the oppressor, and the giver of refuge to the oppressed." "The Lord is my song," says Moses," he is become my salvation*" that is, the subject of my song, the author of my salvation. Dryden makes Lord Shaftsbury style the Duke of Monmouth

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The peoples prayer, the glad diviner's theme,

The young mens vision, and the old mens dream †.

* Exod. xv. 2.

+ Absalom and Achitophel.

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