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Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.

under the common denomination of the euphemism, a name that hath been assigned purely from the consideration of the purpose for which they are employed; which is to express in terms that are inoffensive, an object in some respect or other offensive. The euphemism is not a distinct trope, (as it hath improperly been accounted by some critics) but a certain application of other tropes, especially of metaphor and synecdoché, and even of some of the figures of elocution, the periphrasis in particular. Sometimes, we are led to this from a principle of civility, or even affection, when the plain and direct mention of an object might either recal grief, or hurt sensibility, and sometimes from ideas of decorum.

It is by an euphemism that the words deceased and departed came at first to be used instead of dead, which is no other than a synecdoché of the genus for the species ; falling asleep for dying, which is a metaphor, there being an evident resemblance between sleep and death, and stopping payment for becoming bankrupt, which is a metonymy of the effect for the cause. There is indeed, in employing this figure, the euphemism, more than in any other, a natural tendency to change. The reason may easily be deduced from the general doctrine concerning tropes, explained in the first part of this section. The frequent use of any word in this manner, brings it insensibly to have all the effect of the proper term whose place it was intended to supply: no saoner is this effect pro

Sect. II. Rhetorical tropes....Part III. The use of tropes obstructive to vivacity.

duced by it, than the same principle that influenced us at first to employ it, operates with equal strength in influencing us to lay it aside, and in its stead to adopt something newer and still more remote. The excessive delicacy of the French in this respect hath given rise to expressions which it would not be easy to trace, from any known trope or figure of oratory, and which, to say the truth, have something ridiculous in their appearance. Thus a disbanded regiment is with them a reformed regiment; a cashiered officer is a reformed officer, and a man is said to reform his equipage, when necessity obliges him to give it up; even the hangman, through the superabundance of their complaisance, is titled the master of the high works *. In the use of this figure among the ancients, superstition in regard to some words which were thought to be of bad omen, seems to have had as great a share, as either a delicate sympathy with the feelings of others, or a very nice sense of what is decent and cleanly.

As to the nature and extent cf the last source which was assigned of the euphemism, it will be proper to be a little more particular. Those things which it is indecent to express vividly are always such as are conceived to have some turpitude in them, either natural or moral. An example of this decency in expression, where the subject hath some natural turpi

* Le maitre des hautes cuvres,

Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.

tude, you will find in Martha's answer, as it is in the original, when our Saviour gave orders to remove the stone from the sepulchre of her brother Lazarus, + Lord, by this time he smelleth, for he hath been “ dead four days t." In our version it is somewhat indelicately, not to say indecently, rendered stinketh. Our translators have in this instance unnecessarily receded from their ordinary rule of keeping as close as possible to the letter. The synecdoché in this place answers just as well in English as in Greek ; the perspicuity is such as secures the reader from the possibility of a mistake, at the same time that the expression is free from the indecency with which the other is chargeable. But if it be necessary to avoid a vivid exhibition of what appears uncleanly to the external senses, it is much more necessary in whatever may have a tendency to pollute the mind. It is not always the mention of vice as such, which has this tendency. Many of the most attrocious crimes may be mentioned with great plainness, without any such danger, and therefore without the smallest indecorum. What the subjects are which are in this way dangerous, it is surely needless to explain. And as every person of sense will readily conceive the truth of the general sentiment, to propose without necessity to produce examples for the elucidation of it, might justly be charged with being a breach of that decency of which I am treating.

† John xi. 39. non ocelo

Sect. II. Rhetorical tropes.... Part III. The use of tropes obstructive to vivacity.

So much for the use that may be made of tropes in softening and even enervating, as well as in enlivening and invigorating the expression; though it must be owned that the occasions are comparatively few, on which the former purpose can be said to be expedient.

I SHALL only add a few remarks concerning the catachresis, which hath in like manner been improperly reckoned a separate trope. The reason that I have taken no notice of it hitherto, is, that it is but rarely defensible in modern languages, which require the strictest regard to propriety. And even in the few cases wherein it is defensible, it is purely so because necessary ; but is seldom eligible, as it -rarely contributes either to ornament or to strength. I shall explain myself by some instances.

ONE species of the catachresis, is, when words are used in a signification that is very near their ordinary meaning, but not precisely the same. Examples of this would be a high man for a tall man, a large oration for a long oration, a big genius for a great.genius. This, if any thing, would be classed under the metaphor, as there is a resemblance in the import of the words. Unluckily the word adopted is too near a coincidence with the right epithet, to present an image to the fancy, at the same time that it is not entirely coincident, and therefore cannot be denominated a proper term. In this application the name catachresis is no more than another word for impropriety.

Of vivacity as depending on the choice of words.

Of this kind there is an example in the fifth commandment, as it runs in our version, " that thy days

may be long (anglicé many) upon the land *.”-It is impossible to avoid such blunders in translating, when one aims at being literal, without attending to the different geniuses of different tongues. In original performances they are more rarely to be met with, being just such improprieties as none but novices in the language are apt to fall into.

A SECOND species of this figure is, when words, which, from their etymology, appear to be applicable solely to one kind of thing, come afterwards to be applied to another, which is nearly related in its nature or design, but with which, nevertheless, the analysis of the word will not accord. This is sometimes not only excuseable from necessity, as when the language doth not furnish a proper term, but sometimes also receives the sanction of general use.

And in this case, whatever it was originally, it becomes proper.

I shall give some examples of this in our own tongue. As it is probable, that amongst our Saxon ancestors, candleholders were solely made of wood, they were properly denominated candlesticks ; afterwards, when, through an increase of wealth and luxury, such utensils were made of metal, the old name was nevertheless retained, and at first by a catachresis applied to these. But the application is now ratified, and the word appro

* Exod. xx.

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