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finger'd †. Aristotle hath observed the effect solely in respect of beauty, but the remark holds equally true of these epithets in respect of vivacity. This in a great measure may be deduced from what hath been said already. Of all the above adjectives the last is the most vague and general, and therefore the worst; the second is better, because more special, purple bè. ing one species comprehended under red; the first is the best, because the most particular, pointing to that single tint of purple which is to be found in the rose. I acknowledge, at the same time, that this metaphorical epithet hath an excellence totally distinct from its vivacity. This I denominate its elegance. The object whence the metaphor is taken is a grateful object. It at once gratifies two of the senses, the nose by its fragrance, and the eye by its beauty. But of this quality I shall have occasion to treat afterwards.
I PROCEED at present in producing examples to confirm the theory advanced. And to show how much even an adverb that is very particular in its signification, may contribute to vivacity, I shall again have recourse to the Paradise Lost.
Some say, he bid his angels turn aslance,
* Arist. Rhet. I. 3. Sri ega * Itsiv, osov godsdurtula nas )..on 1 Divxodaxludos, ñ !7: Paviotsgov guð godextulos.
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
If the poet, instead of saying askance, had said aside,
Lo! now apparent all
FURTHER, it will sometimes have a considerable effect in enlivening the imagery, not only to particularise, but even to individuate the object presented to the mind. This conduct Dr Blair, in his very ingenious Dissertation on the poems of Ossian, observes to have been generally followed by his favourite bard. His similitudes bring to our view the mist on the hill of Cromla, the storm on the sea of Malmor, and the reeds of the lake of Lego. The same vivacious manner is often to be found in holy writ, swift as a roe or as a fawn upon mount Bether t, white as the snow in Salmon 5, fragrant as the smell of Lebanon And in the passage lately quoted from the gospel, the in
* Summer. + Cant. ii. 17. I Psal. Ixviü. 14. § Hosea xiv. 6.
troduction of the name of Solomon hath an admirable effect in invigorating the sentiment, not only as it points out an individual, but one of great fame in that country among the people whom our Saviour addressed ; one besides, who was universally esteemed the wisest, the richest, and the most magnificent : prince that ever reigned over Israel. Now this is a consideration which was particularly apposite to the design of the speaker.
It may indeed be imagined, that this manner can enliven the thought only to those who are acquainted with the individuals mentioned ; but, on mature reflection, we may easily discover this to be a mistake. Not only do we, as it were, participate by sympathy in the known vivid perceptions of the speaker or the writer ; but the very notion we form of an individual thing, known or unknown, from its being conceived as an individual, or as one thing is of a more fixed nature than that we form of a species, which is conceived to be equally applicable to several things, resembling indeed in some respects, though unlike in others : and for the same reason, the notion we have of a species is of a more steady nature than that we form of a genus, because this last is applicable to a still greater number of objects, amongst which the difference is greater and the resemblance less.
I MEAN not however to assert, that the method of individuating the object ought always to be preferred VOL. II.
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
by the poet or the orator. If it have its advantages, it hath its disadvantages also; and must be used sparingly by those who choose that their writings should be more extensively known than in their own neighbourhood. Proper names are not in the same respect essential to the language as appellatives. And even among the former, there is a difference between the names known to fame, and the names of persons or things comparatively obscure. The last kind of names will ever appear as strangers to the greater part of readers, even to those who are masters of the language. Sounds to which the ear is not accustomed, have a certain uncouthness in them, that renders them, when occurring frequently, fatiguing and disagreeable. But that, nevertheless, when pertinently introduced, when neither the ear is tired by their frequency, nor the memory burdened by their number, they have a considerable effect in point of vivacity, is undeniable.
This holds especially when, from the nature of the subject, the introduction of them may be expected. Every one is sensible, for instance, that the most humorous or engaging story loseth egregiously, when the relater cannot or will not name the persons concerned in it. No doubt the naming of them has the greatest effect on those who are acquainted with them either personally or by character ; but it hath some effect even on those who never heard of them before. It must be an extraordinary tale indeed which we can bear for any time to hear; if the narrator proceeds in
Of vivacity, as depending on the choice of words.
this languid train, “A certain person who shall be "nameless, on a certain occasion, said so and so, to
which a certain other person in the company, who “ likewise shall be nameless, made answer": Nay, so dull doth a narrative commonly appear wherein anonymous individuals only are concerned, that we choose to give feigned names to the persons rather than none at all. Nor is this device solely necessary for precluding the ambiguity of the pronouns, and saving the tediousness of circumlocution ; for where neither ambiguity nor circumlocution would be the consequence, as where one man and one woman are all the interlocutors, this expedient is nevertheless of great utility. Do but call them any thing, the man suppose Theodosius, and the woman Constantia*, and by the illusion which the very appearance of names, though we know them to be fictitious, operates on the fancy, we shall conceive ourselves to be better acquainted with the actors, and enter with more spirit into the detail of their adventures, than it will be possible for us to do, if you always speak of them in the inde
* The choice however is not quite arbitary even in fictitious
It is always injudicious to employ a name which, from its customary application, may introduce an idea unsuitable to the character it is affixed to. This error I think Lord Bolingbroke chargeable with in assigning the name Damon to his philo. sophical antagonist (Let. to M. de Pouilly). Though we read of a Pythagorian philosopher so called, yet in this country we are so much accustomed to meet with this name in pastorals and amour
songs, that it is impossible not to associate with it the notion of some plaintive shepherd or love-sick swain.