« AnteriorContinuar »
been darted through the skies, and the billows have rolled ont of the Libyan desert.
The absurdity in this instance is obvions. And yet every time that clashing metaphors are put together, the fault is committed more or less. It hath already been said, that metaphors are images of things which affect the senses.
An image, therefore, taken from what acts upon the sight, cannot, without violence, be applied to the hearing; and so of the rest.
It is no less an impropriety to make any being in nature or art to do things in its metaphorical state, which it could not do in its original. I shall illustrate what I have said by an instance which I have read more than once in controversial writers. “ The beavy lashes," saith a celebrated anthor, “ that have dropped from your pen,” &c. I suppose this gentleman having frequently heard of “ gall dropping from a pen, and being lashed in a satire,” he was resolved to have them both at any rate, and so attered this complete piece of nonsense. It will most effectually discover the absurdity of these monstrous unions, if we will suppose these metaphors or images actually painted. Imagine then a hand holding a pen, and several lashes of whipcord falling from it, and yon have the true representation of this sort of eloquence. I believe, by this very rale, a reader may be able to judge of the union of all metaphors whatsoever, and determine which are ho. mogeneous, and which heterogeneous; or, to speak more plainly, which are consistent, and which inconsistent.
There is yet one evil more which I must take notice of, and that is the running of metaphors into tedious allegories; which, though an error on the better hand, causes confusion as much as the other. This becomes abominable, wben the lustre of one word leads a writer out of his road, and makes him wander from his subject for a paga together. I remember a young fellow, of this turn, who having said by chance that his mistress bad a world of cbarms, thereupon took occa.
sion to consider her as one possessed of frigid and torrid zones, and pursued her from the one pole to the other.
I shall conclude this paper with a letter written in that enormous style, which I hope my reader hath by this time set his heart against. The epistle baih bere. tofore received great applause; but after what hath been said, let any man commend it if he dare.
“ After the many heavy lashes that bave fallen from your pen, you may justly expect in return all the load that my ink can lay upon your shoulders. You have quartered all the foul language upon me, that could be raked out of the air of Billingsgate, without knowing who I am, or whether I deserve to be capped and sacrificed at this rate. I tell you once for all, turn your eyes where you please, you shall never smell me out. Do you think that the panics, which you sow about the parish, will ever build a monument to your glory? No, sir, you may fight these battles as long as you will, but when you come to balance the account, you will find that you have been fishing in troubled waters, and that an ignis fatuus bath bewil. dered yon, and that indeed you have built upon a sandy foundation, and brought your hogs to a fair market,
“ I am, Sir,
“ Yours, &c.
Non usitata nec tenui ferar
No weak, no common wing shall bear
THERE is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind
than gratitude. It is accompanied with such an inward satisfaction, that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance. It is not like the practice of many other virtues, difficult and painful, but attended with so much pleasure, that were there no positive command which enjoined it, nor any recompense laid up for it hereafter, a generous mind would indulge in it, for the natural gratification that accompapies it.
If gratitude is due from man to man, how much more from man to his Maker? The Supreine Being does not only confer upon us those bounties which proceed more immediately from his hand, but even those benefits which are conveyed to us by others. Every blessiug we enjoy, by what means soever it may be derived upon us, is the gift of biin who is the great Author of good, and Father of mercies,
If gratitude, when exerted towards one another, naturally produces a very pleasing sensation in the mind of a grateful man; it exalts the soul into rapture, when it is employed on this great object of gratitude; on this beneficent Being who has given us every thing we already possess, and from whom we expect every thing we yet hope for.
Most of the works of the pagan poets were either direct hymns to their reities, or tended indirectly to the celebration of their respective attributes and per
fectious. Those who are acquainted with the works of the Greek and Latin poets which are still extant, will upon reflection find this observation so true, that I shall nol enlarge upon it. One would wonder that more of onr Christian poets have not turned their thoughts this way, especially if we consider, that our idea of the Supreme Being is not only infinitely more great and noble than what could possibly enter into the heart of an heathen, but filled with every thing that can raise the imagination, and give an opportunity for the sublimest thoughts and conceptions.
Plutarch tells us of a heathen who was singing an hymn to Diana, in which he celebrated her for ber delight in human sacrifices, and other instances of cruelty and revenge; upon wbich a poet who was present at this piece of devotion, and seems to have had a truer idea of the Divine Nature, told the votary by way of reproof, that in recompense for his hymn, he heartily wished he might have a daughter of the same temper with the goddess he celebrated. It was indeed impossible to write the praises of one of those false deities, according to the pagan creed, without a mix. ture of impertinence and absurdity.
The Jews, who before the times of Christianity were the only people that had the knowledge of the true God, have set the Christian world an example how they ought to employ this divine talent of which I am speaking. As that nation produced men of great ge
nius, without considering them as inspired writers, • they have transmitted to us many hymns and divine
odes, which excel those that are delivered down to us by the ancient Greeks and Romans, in the poetry, as much as in the subject to which it was consecrated. This I think might easily be shown, if there were oco casion for it.
I shall end this essay by the following piece of di. vine poetry, sacred to gratitude.
“ When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys; Transported with the view, I'm lost
In wonder, love, and praise:
The gratitude declare,
But thou can'st read it there.
And all my wants redress'd, When in the silent womb I lay,
And hung upon the breast.
Thy mercy lent an ear,
To form themselves in pray’r.
Thy tender care bestow'd, Before my infant heart conceiv'd
From whom those comforts flow'd.
With heedless steps I ran,
And led me up to man; “ Through bidden dangers, toils, and deaths,
It gently clear’d my way,
More to be fear'd than they.
With health renew'd my face, And when in sins and sorrows sunk
Reviv'd my soul with grace. “ Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
Has made my cup run o'er, And in a kind and faithful friend
Has doubled all my store.