Графични страници
PDF файл

How will she love, when the rich golden shaft
Hath kill'd the flocke of all affections else
That live in her. When Liver, Braine, and Heart,
These soveraigne thrones, are all supply'd and fill’d.”

That yellow-coloured bitter fluid called Bile, which is secreted in the liver and concentrated in the gall-bladder, is connected, in its quantity and consistence, with the healthful or diseased functions of the body; and, consequently, is frequently referred to when speaking of the mind. 'A Liver burning hot' is Shakspeare's phrase for excessive love; and White-livered is understood as the symbol of Cowardice. The virulent passions are the effects of an Atrabilarious habit of body; and the vindictive satyrist is said to dip his pen in gall. The spleen is the chosen abode of Envy. Vapours, Nervousness, Lowspirits, and various other names, are metaphors from theories some of which are now obsolete.


The Metalepsis, or transmutation, (from the Greek meta and lambano, I take) is a combination of Tropes, by which one idea, or thought, is exchanged for another which precedes or follows, in point of time: it consists in taking the consequent for the antecedent, or the antecedent for the consequent, and is, therefore, a species of


Metonymy. For example, He was then alive' informs us that he is now dead; and a previous intimacy is inferred from the expression. He has forgotten me,'-in consequence of the word forgotten. 'He has got his wish,' implies that he has got what he wished for.


A Synecdoche (from the Greek syn, together with, and ekdechomai, to expect, or look for,) is a figure which comprehends more or less in the expression than the word which is employed literally signifies. Thus, in taking the census of the inhabitants of a district, they are often enumerated as so many thousand souls; whereas, a soul is only the thinking part of a human being. In like manner, a direct tax, imposed upon every individual, is termed a poll-tax, from poll an old word signifying head; and we still say a hundred head of cattle.' Workmen, belonging to the same workshop, are termed hands. The manufacturer employs fifty hands,' means that he has fifty labourers in his trade. A sail, for a ship, and a door, for a house, are figures of every day




The Metaphor of a part referring to the Whole is sometimes practically expressed by symbols: 'The governor came forth, and delivered up the

keys of the fort to the conqueror';- The Lord Chancellor waited on His Majesty and resigned the seals': The Keys are the symbols of power, as the Seals are of office.

In the following example, an Individual represents a Nation:

"Others more soft may carve the breathing brass;
Nay, living looks, I think, from marble draw;
Plead causes better; with a wand, describe
The heavenly host; and count the rising stars:
Roman, remember thou, to rule the world;
Be these thy arts;-to fix the laws of peace,
To spare the suppliant and confound the proud!"

The Synecdoche of taking the whole for a part requires very careful management to prevent it from running into Hyperbole. There are, however, expressions, in every language, which, though hyperbolical in their origin, do not usually produce the idea of exaggeration. Every body,' meaning a very great proportion of the persons alluded to, is legitimate English; and Pope has literally translated the equivalent French phrase (tout le monde) in his Rape of the Lock:

“Belinda smiled, and all the world was gay.”

[ocr errors]

'He knows the World,' He has seen the World,' 'Nothing in the World would give me greater pleasure,' &c. are similar metaphors which pass unobserved: they are idioms of the language.

[ocr errors]


A Catachresis (from the Greek kata, against, and chrasmai, to use,) is an abuse or false use of a word, by which it is wrested from its original application, and made to express something which is at variance with its etymology. It is a sort of blundering denomination, chiefly caused by retaining the name of an object after the qualities from which it derived that name are changed. The thing that is made, for example, is often designated by that of the substance from which it is fabricated. Thus, a vessel in which we boil liquids is called a Copper because, in most cases, it is made of that material; and this figure is a Metonymy. But, such vessels are occasionally made of other metals, still retaining the name of Coppers; and it is this misnomer which is called a Catachresis. The cases in which the name of the forming substance is substituted for the thing formed are numerous. Gold and Silver are common names for coined money has simply the name of paper. God saidunto Adam, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.' These phrases, however, are Metonymies and not Catachreses. When boats were made of the Bark of trees, the denomination of Barks was given to them by the former kind of Trope; but when they came to be built of other

money; and paper

materials the term Bark became Catachrestical. The word Inkhorn is still written, although the Ink-holder is now generally made of glass; and the lovers of genuine English even prefer the former name, accounting the latter (Ink-holder), or even Inkstand, as a fastidious innovation. We should have too much to do, were we to re-model all our idiomatical words and phrases, so as to render them literally accurate. Besides, it would, in many cases, be impossible; for the original etymon is often either lost or forgotten.


Antonomasia (Greek anti for, or in place of, and onomazo, I name,) is a figure by which we put a common name for a proper, or a proper for a common name. Thus the Roman Orator' signifies Cicero; and Anacreon is called the Bard of Teios.' Gibbon's Roman History abounds with such transpositions: Rome is 'the Country of the Cæsars;' Constantinople is 'the Imperial City;' and Constantine is the Protector of the Church. Similar expressions are to be found in almost every page of that work: the Antonomasia is a figure which constitutes a marked characteristic, in the style of 'the Historian of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.'

In the second species of Antonomasia, a glut

« ПредишнаНапред »