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rally preyed upon the bowels of their country, at length betrayed her liberty, first to Philip, and now again to Alexander; who, placing the chief felicity of life in the indulgence of infamous lusts and appetites, overturned in the dust that freedom and independence which was the chief aim and end of all our worthy ancestors.»!
Aristotle and Theophrastus seem to think it is rather too bold and hazardous to use metaphors so freely, without interposing some mitigating phrase, such as, « if I may be allowed the expression,» or some equivalent excuse. At the same time Longinus finds fault with Plato for hazarding some metaphors, which indeed appear to be equally affected and extravagant, when he says, « the government of a state should not resemble a bowl of hot fermenting wine, but a cool and moderate beverage chastised by the sober deity,»—a metaphor that signifies nothing more than « mixed or lowered with water.» Demetrius Phalereus justly observes, that though a judicious use of metaphors wonderfully raises, sublimes, and adorns oratory or elocution, yet they should seem to flow naturally from the subject ; and too great a redundancy of them inflates the discourse to a mere rhapsody. The same observation will hold in poetry; and the more liberal or sparing use of them will depend in a great measure on the nature of the subject.
Passion itself is very figurative, and often bursts out into metaphors ; but in touching the pathos, the poet must be perfectly well acquainted with the emotions of the human
" "Ay&pastroi, puos, pescepoi, xad ará ortopes, xai xóraxes, sixpwrnpicquévou, tas εαυτων έκαστοι πατρίδας, την ελευθερίαν προπεπτωκότες, πρότερον Φιλίππω, νύν δ' Αλεξάνδρα, τη γαστρί μετρούντες και τους αισχίστοις την ευδαιμονίαν, τήν δ' ελευθερίαν, και το μηδένα έχεις δεσπότην αυτών, και τους προτέροις, "Έλλησιν όροι των αγαDo joan nai xayóves, etc.
soul, and carefully distinguish between those metaphors which rise glowing from the heart, and those cold conceits which are engendered in the fancy. Should one of these last unfortunately intervene, it will be apt to destroy the whole effect of the most pathetical incident or situation. Indeed it requires the most delicate taste, and a consummate knowledge of propriety, to employ metaphors in such a manner as to avoid what the ancients call the rò fuxpov, the frigid, or false sublime. Instances of this kind were frequent even among the correct ancients. Sappho herself is blamed for using the hyperbole λευκοτέρου zróvos, whiter than snow. Demetrius is so nice as to be disgusted at the simile of swift as the wind; though, in speaking of a race-horse, we know from experience that this is not even an hyperbole. He would have had more reason to censure that kind of metaphor which Aristotle styles xar' Évépyscav, exhibiting things inanimate as endued with sense and reason, such as that of the sharp-pointed arrow, eager to take wing among the crowd. O tubelns zall' όμιλος επιπτέσθαι μενεαίνων. Not but that in descriptive poetry this figure is often allowed and admired. The cruel sword, the ruthless dagger, the ruffian blast, are epithets which frequently occur. The faithful bosom of the earth, the joyous boughs, the trees that admire their images reflected in the stream, and many other examples of this kind, are found disseminated through the works of our best modern poets : yet still they must be sheltered under the privilege of the poetica licentia ; and, except in poetry, they would give offence.
More chaste metaphors are freely used in all kinds of writing; more sparingly in history, and more abundantly in rhetoric: we have seen that Plato indulges in them even to excess. The orations of Demosthenes are animated and even inflamed with metaphors, some of them so bold as even to entail upon him the censure of the critics. Tóte tự lubwu tūs pýtope péovte xeo ýpewn.—« Then I did not yield to Python the orator, when he overflowed you with a tide of eloquence:» Cicero is still more liberal in the use of them; he ransacks all nature, and pours forth a redundancy of figures, even with a lavish hand. Even the chaste Xenophon, who generally illustrates his subject by way of simile, sometimes ventures to produce an expressive metaphor, such as, part of the phalanx fluctuated in the march ; and indeed nothing can be more significant than this word čexúynve, to represent a body of men staggered, and on the point of giving way. Armstrong has used the word fluctuate with admirable efficacy, in his philosophical poem, entitled, The Art of Preserving Health.
0! when the growling winds contend, and all
The word fluctuate on this occasion not only exhibits an idea of struggling, but also echoes to the sense like the topičev dě paxn of Homer; which, by the by, it is impossible to render into English, for the verb qpioow signifies not only to stand erect like prickles, as a grove of lances, but also to make a noise like the crashing of armour, the hissing of javelins, and the splinters of spears.
Over and above an excess of figures, a young author is apt to run into a confusion of mixed metaphors, which leave the sense disjointed, and distract the imagination : Shakspeare himself is often guilty of these irregularities. The soliloquy in Hamlet, which we have so often heard extolled in terms of admiration, is, in our opinion, a heap of absurdities, whether we consider the situation, the sentiment, the argumentation, or the poetry. Hamlet is informed by the Ghost, that his father was murdered, and therefore he is tempted to murder himself, even after he had promised to take vengeance on the usurper, and expressed the utmost eagerness to achieve this enterprise. It does not appear that he had the least reason to wish for death ; but every motive which may be supposed to influence the mind of a young prince, concurred to render life desirable-revenge towards the usurper; love for the fair Ophelia ; and the ambition of reigning. Besides, when he had an opportunity of dying without being accessary to his own death ; when he had nothing to do but, in obedience to his uncle's command, to allow himself to be conveyed quietly to England, where he was sure of suffering death ; instead of amusing himself with meditations on mortality, he very wisely consulted the means of self-preservation, turned the tables upon his attendants, and returned to Denmark. · But granting him to have been reduced to the lowest state of despondence, surrounded with nothing but horror and despair, sick of this life, and eager to tempt futurity, we shall see how far he argues like a philosopher.
In order to support this general charge against an author so universally held in veneration, whose very errors have helped to sanctify his character among the multitude, we will descend to particulars, and analyze this famous soliloquy.
Hamlet, having assumed the disguise of madness, as a cloak under which he might the more effectually revenge his father's death upon the murderer and usurper, appears alone upon the stage in a pensive and melancholy attitude, and communes with himself in these words :
To be, or not to be, that is the question :-