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Rhetorical tropes.... Part II. Tropes conducive to vivacity.
word king as implying purely that which constitutes him such, namely, the royal power. The same may be said of the other instances. So far indeed I
agree with the objector, that wherever the trope is not distinctly marked by the words with which it is connected, it is faulty and injudicious. It both misses vivacity, and throws obscurity on the sentiment.
I HAVĖ here examined the tropes so far only as they are subservient to vivacity, by presenting to the mind some image, which, from the original principles of our nature, more strongly attaches the fancy than could have been done by the proper terms whose place they occupy. And in this examination I have found, that they produce this effect in these four cases: first, when they can aptly represent a species by an individual, or a genus by a species; secondly, when they serve to fix the attention on the most interesting particular, or that with which the subject is most intimately connected; thirdly, when they exhibit things intelligible by things sensible; and fourthly, when they suggest things lifeless by things animåte. How conducive the tropes are in like manner both to elegance and animation, will be examined afterwards. They even sometimes conduce to vivacity, not from any thing preferable in the ideás conveyed by them, but in a way that cannot properly come ûnder consideration, till we inquire how far this quality depends on the number of the words, and on their arrangement.
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
PART III... The use of those tropes which are obstructive to
Let us now, ere we finish this article, bestow some attention on the opposite side (for contraries serve best to illustrate each other), and make a few remarks on those tropes which either have a natural tendency to render the expression more languid, or at least are noway fitted for enlivening the diction. That there are tropes whose direct tendency is even to enfeeble the expression, is certainly true, though they are fewer.in, number, and more rarely used, than those which produce the contrary effect. The principal tropes of thiskind, which I remember at present, are three sorts of the synecdoché, the genus for the species, the whole for a part, and the matter for the instrument or thing made of it, and some sorts of the metaphor, as the intelligible for the sensible. Of the genus for the species, which is the commonest of all, vessel for ship, creature or animal for man, will serve as examples. Of the whole for a part, which is the most uncommon, I do not recollect another instance but that of the man or woman by name, sometimes for the body onlý, sometimes only for the soul; as when we say, " such a one was buried yesterday,” that is, “ the
body of such a one was buried yesterday.”
neas saw his father in Elysium,” that is, his father's ghost. The common phrase "all the world,” for a great number of people, and some others of the same
Sect. II. Rhororical tropes... Part III. The use of tropes obstructive to vivacity.
kind, have also been produced as examples, but improperly ; for in all such expressions there is an evident hyperbole, the intention beingʻmanifestly to magnify the number. Of the third kind, the matter for what is made of it, there are doubtless several instances, such as silver for money, canvass for sail, and steel for sword.
It is proper to enquire from what principles in our nature, tropes of this sort derive their origin, and what are the purposes which they are intended to promote.
The answer to the first of these queries will serve effectually to answer both. First, then, they may arise merely from a disposition to vary the expression, and prevent the too frequent recurrence of the same sound upon the ear.
Hence often the genus for the species. This is the more pardonable, if used moderately, as there is not even an apparent impropriety in putting at any time the genus for the species, because the latter is always comprehended in the former; whereas, in the reverse, there is inevitably an appearance of impropriety, till it is mollified by use. If one is speaking of a linnet, and sometimes instead of linnet says bird, he is considered rather as varying the expression than as employing a trope. Secondly, they may arise from an inclination to suggest contempt without rudeness; that is, not openly to express, but indirectly to insinuate it. Thus, when a particular man is called a creature or an'animal, there is a sort of tacit refusąl of the specific attributes of hu
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
man nature, as the term implies only the direct acknowledgment of those enjoyed in common with the brutes, or even with the whole creation. The phrases no creature, and every creature, like all the world, are a kind of hyperbolic idioms which come not under this category. Thirdly, they may proceed from a love of brevity in cases wherein perspicuity cannot be hurt. Thus to say,
Your friend Alexander lies here interr'd,
is briefer, and not less perspicuous, than to say,
your friend Alexander" . -Fourthly, they may spring from a desire to find a term that will make a better counterpart, in respect either of the sense or of the sound, to some other word which the speaker or the writer hath had occasion to use, the ideas conveyed by the two words being also related. This occasions sometimes not only that the genus
is used for the species, but that the matter is made to signify the thing made of it; both of which will be further illustrated when I come to consider how far vivacity may result from arrangement. Fifthly (and this is the last source that occurs to my thoughts), tropes of this kind may arise from a desire of palliating the representation, and that either from humanity, from courtesy, or from decency.
By the first of the five principles above mention. ed, if used discreetly, something is done for the sake of variety, where the vivacity of the expression is little
Sect. II. Rhetorical tropes... Part III, The use of tropes obstructive to vivacity.
affected; by the second, even a farther end, a species of animation is attained; by the third and fourth, what is lost of vivacity in one way, is more than compensated in another; but by the fifth, we are led to avoid this quality as a fault.
THERE are some subjects of which it may be necessary on certain occasions to speak, which, nevertheless, present an object to the imagination that is either disagreeable or indecent. It is sufficient that such things be hinted to the understanding, so that the meaning may be apprehended, it is by no means fit that they be painted in the liveliest colours to the fancy. There are some things which a painter may find it expedient to introduce into a picture, and to render just discoverable, by placing them in the shade, in the back-ground, or at a corner, which it would be extremely improper to set in such a point of view as would immediately attract and fix the eye of the spectator. The like doubtless holds with regard to the orator. And it hath been chiefly to veil without darkening what the smallest degree of delicacy requires us to avoid exposing in the strongest light, that certain sorts of tropes and modes of expression have first been brought into use. To the same cause is also to be ascribed, the recourse that is often had to circumlocution, which will fall to be considered in the ensuing chapter.
Aų such tropes and modes of expression have come