ePub 版

Teach me to feel another's wo,
To hide the fault I fee,
That mercy I to others how,
That mercy
fhow to me;

are lines that I have fomewhere met with in Mr POPE, however little they may be exemplified in his Dunciad.

§ 8. If I might venture to give my opinion of the true ground of an Irony, I fhould ascribe it to the power of contraft. We have for our fubject a foolish or bad character; in order the more effectually to expose it, we call up by our expressions the idea of a character that is wife or worthy. These two characters are matched together, like a coarse daubing and curious picture exhibited in one view: the curious picture grows brighter and more beautiful by being placed by a bad neighbour, and the coarfe daubing looks meaner and bafer by the contiguous luftre of its noble companion. The plumes of the raven never appear with so deep a jet, as when he is walking over a track of unfullied fnow.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

$ 1.


The HYPERBOLE Confidered.

§ 1. An Hyperbole, its definition. § 2. Hyperboles of two kinds: (1) That which increases beyond the truth; (2) That which falls below the truth. 3. Various ways by which an Hyperbole is expreffed: (1) In plain and direct terms; (2) By fimilitude; (3) By a ftrong Metaphor. § 4. Various remarks upon an Hyperbole. § 5. How an Hyperbole may be foftened. § 6. If two or more Hyperboles in a sentence, they are to Strengthen one another.



N Hyperbole is a Trope, that in its representation of things either magnifies or diminishes beyond or below the line of ftrict truth, or to a degree that is disproportioned to the real nature of the subject.

§ 2. This Trope is branched into two kinds. (1) That kind of Hyperbole which increases beyond the truth. Such are the expressions, whiter than fnow, blacker than a raven, fwifter than the


From υπερβαλλω, I exceed.

wind, and the like. Thus VIRGIL defcribes the Giant POLYPHEME,

He walks fublime, and tow'rs among the ftars *.

So again,

On either fide two rocks enormous rise,
Whofe fummits threaten to invade the fkies t..

In Deut. ix. 1. we read of cities fenced up to beaven. In Job xx. 6. the head of a profperous wicked man is reprefented as reaching to the louds and in Pfalm cvii. 26. mariners in a ftorm are faid to mount up, that is, upon the waves, to heaven.

(2) The other fort of Hyperbole falls below the truth. Thus we speak of moving flower than a fnail, of being as deaf as a rock, as blind as a mole, and of being wasted to a skeleton. I Sam. xxiv. 14. After whom, fays DAVID to SAûl, is "the king of Ifrael come out? after whom doft ss thou purfue? after a dead dog, after a flea?"


So Job xxv. 6. man is called a worm. And Ifaiah


xl, 17. " All nations before God are as nothing;


and they are counted to him as less than nothing." And Pfalm lxii. 9. Surely men of slow degree are vanity, and men of high degree sare a lie to be laid in the balance, they are al" together lighter than vanity."

G 3


Ipfe arduus altaque pulfat

Eneid. iii. ver. 619.


Hinc atque hinc vaftæ rupes, geminique minantur
In cœlum fcopuli. VIRGIL. Eneid. lib. i. ver. 166.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

§ 3. And as there are two kinds of Hyperboles, fo there are various ways by which they are expressed. As,

(1) In plain and direct terms:

High o'er the winds and ftorms the mountain bears,
And on its top recline the weary stars *.

And MILTON, fpeaking of Satan and Death on the point of engagement, fays,

So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown t

(2) An Hyperbole is exprefsed by similitude or comparison. Thus VIRGIL, defcribing a feafight, fays,

At once they rush to conflict: all the fea
Foams with the dafhing oars and forky prows,
As if the Cyclades uprooted fwam

The ocean, or with mountains mountains wag'd
Enormous battle on th' afflicted deep 1.

So PINDAR compares an attack of HERCULES


*Stat fublimis apex, ventofque imbrefque ferenus Defpicit, & tantum feffis infiditur aftris.

STATII Theb. lib. ii. ver. 35.

+ Paradife Loft, book ii. ver. 719.

Una omnes ruere, & totum fpumare reductis
Convulfum remis roftrifque tridentibus æquor.
Alta petunt; pelago credas innare revulfas
Cycladas, aut montes concurrere montibus altos.
Eneid, lib. viii. ver. 689.

[ocr errors]

upon the inhabitants of Cos, not to winds, or feas, or fires, but to a thunderbolt *.

(3) An Hyperbole is expressed by a strong Metaphor. Thus we call a very virtuous character an angel, and a very vicious one, a fiend or devil: we fay a drunkard is a fwine, and an extortioner a wolf or harpy. CICERO furnishes us with an Hyperbole of this kind in one of his Orations against VERRES: "There was lately in

Sicily not that DIONYSIUS, nor that PHALA"RIS, for that island has produced a fuccefsion "of cruel tyrants, but a certain new monster, "the spawn of that ancient barbarity, which is faid to have infefted that country; for it is "my opinion, that neither Charybdis nor Scylla "have been fo destructive to mariners, as what "this monster has been in the fame ftraits t." G 4

§ 4.

* Nec igni, nec ventis, nec mari, fed fulmini dicit fimilem] effe, ut illa minora, hoc par effet. QUINTIL. lib. viii. cap. 6. § 2.

[ocr errors]

+ Dr WARD obferves, that an Hyperbole is principally metaphorical, but fometimes taken from other Tropes; as, when instead of saying CATO was a very virtuous man, VĒLLEIUS PATERCULUS calls him the image of virtue, it is an hyperbolical Metonymy of the adjunct for the fubject. WARD'S Syftem of Oratory, vol. ii. page 24.

Verfabatur in Sicilia non Dionyfius ille, nec Phalaris, tulit enim illa quondam infula multos & crudeles tyrannos, fed quoddam novum monftrum ex illa vetere humanitate, quæ in iifdem locis verfata effe dicitur. Non enim Charybdim tam infeftam, neque Scyllam navibus, quam iftum in eodem freto fuiffe arbitror. CICER. Orat. 7. in Verrem, § 56.

« 上一頁繼續 »