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hyperboles generally appear in tragedy during the storms of passion, or in the higher kinds of poetry and oratory.
6. An hyperbole should never be used in prose in the description of any thing ordinary or familiar; and when used, it should be expressed as briefly as possible. In instances, bowever, of humour and drollery, hyperboles are frequently introduced purposely to magnify or degrade the subject. In poetry, also, a greater latitude may be allowed than in prose, but even here, we should be on our guard lest the figure degenerate into bombast.
162. a. IRONY is a figure in which we utter the very reverse of what we intend should be understood, with a view to add force and pungency to our observations. Thus, when we style a thief, “A mighty honest fellow indeed,” we speak ironically. The real sentiments of the speaker are evinced by the sneering accent, the air, the extravagance of the praise, contrasted with the wellknown character of the person or thing addressed.
6. This figure is generally employed in satirizing the vices and follics of mankind ; for, those individuals on whose minds the soundest arguments would have no effect, are not proof against the poignancy of wit and raillery. We therefore find, that the most serious persons have, on proper occasions, had recourse to the use of this figure. Thus, the prophet Elijah, sneeringly challenges the priests of Baal to prove the truth of their deity in these words, — “ Cry aloud : for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked."
163. Sarcasm, a kind of irony, is a keen satirical expression, intended to insult and mortify a person ; thus, The Jews, when they derided Christ, insultingly said, “ He saved others; himself he cannot save."
164. Paralepsis or omission is a figure by which we pretend to omit what we are really desirous of enforcing; as, “ Your idleness, not to mention your impertinence and dishonesty, disqualifies you for the situation.”
EXERCISES. 165. Neatly transcribe the following Examples, underlining the words exemplifying the Figure, and subjoining to each Example a few Remarks tending to show the propriety of each :
1. Hyperbole ;-a. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. - Genesis, ch. xiii.
b. To possess cities great, and fenced up to heaven. Deut. ch. ix.
c. The (mariners) mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths ; their soul is melted because of trouble. - Psalm cvii. 26. Remarks. d. Orpheus' lute was strung with poets' sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Unsounded deeps to dance on sands.
2. Irony ; - a. Burke, in a speech delivered before the House of Commons in 1790, thus ironically speaks of the French
“ The French have shown themselves the ablest architects of ruin that have hitherto appeared in the world ; in one short summer they have pulled down their monarchy, their church, their nobility, their law, their army, and their revenue.”
b. Solomon thus ironically exposes the follies of youth, Eccles. xi. 9:
“ Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth ; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Remarks. C. Archbishop Tillotson, speaking of Popery, thus expresses himself :
“If it seem good to us to put our necks once more under that yoke which our fathers were not able to bear ; if it be really a preferment to a prince to hold the pope's stirrup, and a privilege to be disposed of him at pleasure, and a courtesy to be killed at his command:- if, to pray without understanding: - to obey without reason:- and to believe against sense: if ignorance and implicit faith, and an inquisition be in good earnest such charming and desirable things ; then, welcome Popery, which, wherever thou comest, dost infallibly bring all these wonderful privileges and blessings along with thee. Remarks.
LESSON 78. INTERROGATION, EXCLAMATION, Vision, Climax. 166. An INTERROGATION is used literally to ask a question; but, figuratively, it is employed, when the passions are greatly moved, to affirm or deny more strongly. Thus, “ The Lord is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"
167. EXCLAMATION is used to express agitated feeling, admiration, wonder, surprise, anger, joy, grief, &c.; thus, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
168. VISION or LMAGERY is a figure used only in animated and dignified compositions, when, instead of relating something that is past or future, we employ the present tense, and describe it as actually passing before our eyes.
Thus, Cicero, in his fourth oration against Catiline, says,
“I seem to myself to behold this city, the ornament of the earth, and the capital of all nations, suddenly involved in one conflagration. I see before me the slaughtered heaps of citizens, lying unburied in the midst of their ruined country. The furious countenance of Cethēgus rises to my view, while, with a savage joy, he is triumphing in
169. a. CLIMAX is a figure in which the sense rises, by successive steps, to what is more and more important, or descends to what is more and more minute; as,
“ There is no enjoyment of property without government; no government without a magistrate; no magistrate without obedience; and no obedience where every one acts as he pleases."
6. Climax is the same as Amplification, Enumeration, or Gradation,
c. A writer or speaker, who, by force of argument, has established his principal point, may sometimes introduce this figure with advantage at the close of his discourse.
170. The Anti-clamax, or the opposite of Climax, is sometimes introduced to diminish great objects, and render such as are diminutive even more so.
171. In addition to the preceding figures of speech, there are others, such as the Litotes, which affirms more strongly by denying the contrary; the Parallelism, or the similar construction of the members of a sentence; the Catachresis, or abuse of words, when the words are too far wrested from their proper meaning; as, a beautiful voice, a sweet sound; and a few others of minor importance and of rare occurrence.
EXERCISES. 172. Neatly transcribe the following Examples, and subjoin to each a few Remarks tending to show its propriety:
1. Interrogation, a. - - Does God, after having made his creatures, take no further care of them ? Has he left them to blind fate or undirected chance? Has he forsaken the works of his own hands? Or does he always graciously preserve, and keep, and guide them ? Remarks. b. Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath ?
Or flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death ?
c. Who continually supports and governs this stupendous system? Who preserves ten thousand worlds in perpetual harmony? Who enables them always to observe such time, and obey such laws, as are most exquisitely adapted for the perfection of the wondrous whole? They cannot preserve and direct themselves; for they were created, and must, therefore, be dependent. How, then can they be so actuated and directed, but by the unceasing energy of the Great Supreme?