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Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
It 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 illastration 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 assallant 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 ion 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 quen, makes the expression 'still more graphical. Yet latus here is no trope, else it had been Quod latus, not Cujus latur, 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, “ mucros nem manu tenebat,” he would have spoken absurdly, and counteracted the bent of the fancy, which, in this instance, leads the at: tention 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.
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 *.'
• Tațler, 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; whereás, 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 terror
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 “ 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
The peoples prayer , the glad diviner's theme,
* Exod. xv, 2.
+ Absalom and Achitophel.
Rhetorical tropes.... Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity,
Here the terms prayer, vision, dream, (for the word theme is literal) are used each for its respective subject. Nothing is more natural or more common a.. mongst all nations, the simplest as well as the most refined, than to substitute the passion for its object. Such tropes as these, my love, my joy, my delight, my aversion, my horror, for that which excites the emotion, are to be found in every language. Holy writ abounds in them; and they are not seldom to be met with in the poems of Ossian, “ The sigh of her secret "soul,” is a fine metonymy of this kind to express the youth for whom she sighs in secret. As the vivacity of the expression in such quotations needs no illustration to persons of taste ; that the cause of this vivacity ariseth from the coincidence of the expression with the bent of the imagination, fixing on the most interesting particular, needs no eviction to persons of judgment,
3. Thing's sensible for things intelligible.
A THIRD way wherein tropes may be rendered subservient to vivacity, is when things intelligible are represented by things sensible. There is no truth more evident than that the imagination is more strongly affected by what is perceived by the senses, than by what is conceived by the understanding. If therefore my subject be of things only conceivable, it will conducę to enliven the style, that the tropes which I
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
employ, when I find it convenient to employ tropes, exhibit to the fancy things perceivable.
I shall illustrate this doctrine first in metaphors. A metaphor, if apposite, hath always some degree of vivacity, from the bare exhibition of likeness, even though the literal and the figurative senses of the word belong to the same class of objects ; I mean only in this respect the same, that they be both sensible or both intelligible. Thas a blunder in the administration of public affairs, hath been termed a solecism in politics, both things intelligible. Again, when the word sails is employed to denote the wings of a fowl, or conversely, when the word wings is adopted to signify the sails of a ship, both objects are of the same class, as both are things sensible ; yet these metaphors have a considerable share of vivacity, by reason of the striking resemblance, both in the appearance of the things signified and in their use. The last, however, is the best, for a reason which will be given in the next remark.
But in general it may be asserted, that in the representation of things sensible, there is less occasion for this trope : Accordingly this application of it is now almost entirely left to the poets. On the contrary, if we critically examinę any language, ancient or modern, and trace its several terms and phrases to their source, we shall find it hold invariably, that all the words made use of, to denote spiritual and intellectual things, are in their origin metaphors, taken from the objects of sense. This