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Rhetorical tropes.... Part I. Preliminary observations.
selecting that particular with regard to each, which most strongly marks the presence of the all-reviving spring. “ The voice of the turtle is heard in our land,
the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the “ vines with the tender grape perfume the air.” The passage is not more remarkable for the liveliness, than for the elegance of the picture it exhibits. The examples are all taken from whatever can contribute to regale the senses and awaken love. Yet, reverse the order, and the beauty is almost totally effaced.
So much for that quality in proper terms which confers vivacity on the expression,
SECT. II.... Rhetorical Tropes.
PART I.... Preliminary observations concerning tropes.
I COME now to inquire how far the judicious use of tropes is also conducive to the same end. It hath been common with rhetoricians to rank under the article of diction, not only all the tropes, but even the greater part of the figures of eloquence, which they have uniformly considered as qualities or ornaments merely of elocution, and therefore as what ought to be explained among the properties of style. It is however certain, that some of them have a closer connection with the thought than with the expression, and by consequence fall not so naturally to be considered
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
here. Thus all the kinds of comparison, as they imply a likeness in the things, and not in the symbols, belong properly to the thought. Nay, some comparisons, as was remarked above *, are not mere illustrations of a particular sentiment, but are also arguments from analogy in support of it. And if thus comparison holds more directly of thought than of language, the same may doubtless be said of all those other figures which I have already observed are but different modes of exhibiting a comparison.
It must be owned, however, that metaphor, though no other in effect than comparison in epitome, hath at least as intimate a connection with the style as with the sentiment, and may therefore be considered under either head. That we may perceive the reason of this peculiarity, let it be observed, that there is a particular boldness in metaphor, which is not to be found in the same degree in any of the figures of rhetoric. Without any thing like an explicit comparison, and commonly without any warning or apology, the name of one thing is obtruded upon us for the name of another quite different, though resembling in some quality. The consequence of this is, that as there is always in this trope an apparent at least, if it cannot be called a real, impropriety, and some degree of obscurity, a new metaphor is rarely to be risked. And as to ordinary metaphors, or those which have already
* Book I. Chap. vii. Sect. 2.
on engaging attention,
Rhetorical tropes...Part I. Preliminary observations.
received the public sanction, and which are commonly very numerous in every tongue, the metaphorical meaning comes to be as really ascertained by custom in the particular language, as the original, or what is called the literal, meaning of the word. And in this respect metaphors stand on the same foot of general use with proper terms.
What hath been now observed concerning metaphor, may with very little variation be affirmed of these three other tropes, synecdoché, metonymy, and antonomasia. These are near a-kin to the former, as they also imply the substitution of one word for another, when the things signified are related. The only difference among them is, that they respect different relations. In metaphor the sole relation is resemblance ; in synecdoché, it is that wþich subsisteth be
; tween the species and the genus, between the part and the whole, and between the matter and the thing made from it ; in metonymy, which is the most various of the tropes, the relation is nevertheless always reducible to one or other of these three, causes, effects, or adjuncts; in antonomasia, it is nearly that of the individual to the species, or conversely. There is one trope irony, in which the relation is contrariety. But of this I shall have occasion to speak, when I come to consider that quality of style, which hath been named animation.
Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.
On a little attention it will be found to be a plain consequence of what hath been observed above, that though any simile, allegory, or prosopopeia, is capable of being translated (and that even without losing any of its energy), from one tongue into another, a metaphor, a synecdoché, or a metonymy (for this holds more rarely of antonomasia) which is both significant and perspicuous in an original performance, is frequently incapable of being rendered otherwise than by a proper word. The corresponding metaphor, synecdoché, or metonymy, in another language, will often be justly chargeable with obscurity and impropriety, perhaps even with absurdity. In support of this remark, let it be observed, that the noun sail in our tongue is frequently used, and by the same trope the noun puppis in Latin, to denote a ship. Let these synecdochés of a part for the whole, which are so very similar, be translated and transposed, and you will immediately perceive, that a man could not be said to speak Latin, who in that language should call a ship velum ; nor would you think that he spoke better English, who in our language should call it a poop *
* This doctrine might be illustrated by innumerable examples, if it were necessary. For an instance, take that expression of Ci cero, (Pro Legario) “ Cujus latus ille mucro petebat?” Here we have a synecdoché in the word mucro, and a metaphor in the word petebat, neither of which can be suitably rendered into English. “ Whose side did that point seek?" is a literal version, but quite intolerable. Whom did you mean to assail with that sword ?" Here the sense is exhibited, but as neither trope is rendered, much
Rhetorical tropes... Part I. Preliminary observations.
These tropes therefore are of a mixed nature. At the same time that they bear a reference to the primitive signification, they derive from their customary application to the figurative sense, that is, in other words, from the use of the language, somewhat of the nature of proper terms.
In further confirmation of this truth, it may be remarked, that of two words even in the same language, which are synonymous, or nearly so, one will be used figuratively to denote an object, which it would be unsufferable to employ the other to denote, though naturally as fit for suggesting it. It hath been said, that “ an excellent vein of satire runs through the * whole of Gulliver's travels :" Substitute here artery in the room of vein, and you will render the sentence absolutely ridiculous. The two words beast and brute, are often metaphorically applied to human creatures, but not in the same signification. The former denotes either a blockhead or a voluptuary of the grossest kind; the latter, one in the highest degrée unmannerly and ferocious. Accordingly we speak of beastly ignorance; we say, “ gluttony is a beastly vice ;"
of the energy is lost. In like manner in the phrase, 66 Vario Marte pugnatum est."
“ They fought with various success ;" there is a metonymy in the word Marte, which no translator into any modern language, who hath common sense, would attempt to transplant into his version. See Traité des Tropes, par M. du Marsais, Art. vii. iv.