Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

cending glory, on the opposite quarter of the heavens arose another luminary; and for his hour became lord of the ascendant.”

In this fine passage, the resemblance implied is such as to be highly illustrative; there is a grandeur in the object presented, which elevates the mind, and the language in its figurative application, is skilfully and happily managed.

In the example of the Metaphor which has now been given, it has been shewn, that it is in its nature the same as the Comparison—that it differs from it, in that the resemblance is not formally stated, but simply implied, and that the mode of implying it is by the application of language in an unusual manner, which is called applying it figuratively, and that several cautions are to be observed in this figurative application of words.

It has been common to mark a distinction between the Metaphor and the Allegory, the latter being defined a continued metaphor. But as both are founded on the same principles, and require the same cautions and directions in their use, the distinction is regarded as one of little practical importance.

There is a mode of illustration and embellishment, often found in the productions of good writers, which, though of the nature of the comparison, is worthy of separate attention. I refer to what is included under the name of ALLUSIONS. It will at once be seen, that though they differ in form from the comparison, they are of the same nature, and their introduction depends on similar principles. Like comparisons they are illustrative, and give us pleasure from the discovery of unexpected resemblances, or coincidences of thought, or expression. If too the comparison when drawn from some fair scene in nature, or some fiņished work of art, gives us pleasure by directing the mind to that which causes a grateful emotion, the same is true of the allusion. Our attention is directed to some classical writer, or to some well known popular writer of the day, or to some recent event—the imagination is set in exercise-grateful associations are excited, and the effect is happy. Some examples of the Allusion will now be given.

Example 1. Burke in his character of Lord Chatham, has the following passage ;

" His is a great and celebrated name; a name which keeps the name of this country respectable over every other on the globe. It may be truly called,

Clarum et venerabile nomen Gentibus, et multum nostræ quod proderit urbi." This is called a classical allusion ; to those who have classical associations, such allusions are always pleasing. They are connected with the days of our youth, and with scenes, the memory of wiich is grateful to us. They refer us also to those pages, where our tastes have been formed, and our minds disciplined and furnished with knowledge.

It will at once occur, that allusione in the form of the example given, should never be made, except in productions which are primarily addressed to those who are familiar with the language of the quotation. Should a preacher of the present day imitate in this respect the sermons of Jeremy Taylor, he would justly incur the charge of pedantry. But in addresses to deliberative assemblies, or to literary associations, or on public national celebrations, where classical scholars are found, allusions of this kind may occasionally be introduced with a happy effect.

Example 2, In some instances of elassical allusions,

there is a reference to facts found in classical writers, without a quotation in a foreign language. Of this an example is given by Burke in his speech on the Carnatic war.

* Every day you are fatigued and disgusted with this cant, the Carnatic is a country that will soon recover, and become instantly as prosperous as ever. They think they are talking to innocents, who believe that by the sowing of dragon's teeth, men may come up ready grown and ready made."

In elassical allusions of this form, the writer is not confined within so narrow limits, as those of the preceding. Still care should be had, that what is thus alluded to should be generally known. Miss H. Moore is a writer, who has not sufficiently observed this caution. It is not unfrequent to find classical allusions in her writings, of which even to the classical student it is no shame to be ignorant.

Example 3. A writer, describing the influence of the American revolution, says,

“From our revolutionary struggle, proceeded the revolution in France, and all which has followed in Naples, Portugal, Spain and Greece; and though the bolt of every chain has been again driven, they can no more hold the heaving mass, than the chains of Xerxes could hold the Hellespont vexed with storms,”

This is an historical allusion. In most instances of this kind the design is to illustrate. The caution then is peculiarly necessary, that in historical allusions the facts alluded to be such as are generally known. Otherwise such allusions will only throw a deeper shade on those objects, which they were designed to illuminate.

Example 4. There are some instances in which historical allusions are designed not only to illustrate, but

to awaken grateful emotions. Such is the following from Everett’s Address ; : "Lincoln, and Greene, and Knox, and Hamilton, are gone; the heroes of Saratoga and Yorktown have fallen before the only foe they could not meet.”

Historical allusions of this kind, which bring to view important events or characters in the history of a nation, are ever grateful to the people of that nation. Hence they are so often found in addresses on occasions of national celebrations, and serve to gratify the pride of national feeling. One caution may well be given respecting allusions of this kind—that they be not worn out, or such as are too commonly made,

Example 5. The following is an English classical allusion. Milton, who was a contemporary with Cromwell, was a zealous republican. He wrote much and ably against the monarchical and aristocratical institutions of his time ; and in so doing condemned many of those elegant amusements which were congenial to his own feelings.

"He sacrifices his private tastes and feelings, that he might do what he considered his duty to mankind. It is the very struggle of the noble Othello. His heart relents, but his hand is firm. He does nought in hate, but all in honour. He kisses the beautiful deceiver before he destroys her.”

This allusion is to the Othello of Shakspeare ; and such is the rank and antiquity of his writings, that allusions to passages found in them, are regarded much in the same manner as classical allusions. We have in fact our English classical writers, who have outlived their century, and who from their preeminence, may be supposed to be familiarly known by every English schollar. To such writers it is lawful to make allusions as those whose works shoảld be known ; and such allusions, when happily introduced, will please us in the same manner and degree, as those derived from the ancient classics.

Example 6. The following example is from Irving, and is taken from his account of James of Scotland, the “Royal Poet.

• James is evidently worthy of being enrolled in that lite tłe constellation of remote, but never failing luminaries, who shine in the highest firmament of literature, and who, like morning stars, sang together at the bright dawning of British poetry.”

This beautiful passage affords an example of a Seriptural allusion, and is highly pleasing. Allusions of this kind, will always be well understood, and often from their elevated nature, add much to the beauty of writings. But there is need of caution in their use.

With the example that has been given no fault can be found. It is rather to be commended as an embellishment. But too frequently is it the case, that the same inuocency cannot be affirmed of allusions to Holy Writ. This remark is not meant to imply, that such allusions should never be made, except when the subject of discourse is of a serious or religious nature. It is enough that the subject be one of importance, that it have some dignity attached to it, and that there be nothing ludicrous or trifling. Let ludicrous or trifling associations be connected with a passage of Seripture, and whenever this passage meets our attention, even in our most sober hours, there will be danger that these associations will come with it, and exert an unfavorable influence on the state of our feelings. Besides, there is something which savours much of profanity in such allusions to Scripture ; it shews, that that reverence is not felt for it, which, as God's word, it should commandi.

« AnteriorContinuar »