Page images

dancing breezes, and they whispered to the young rose, and it awoke, joyous and smiling. Lightly it danced to and fro in all the loveliness of health and youthful innocence.

2. Then came the ardent sun-god * sweeping from the east, and he smote the young rose with his golden shaft, and it fainted. Deserted and almost heart-broken, it dropped to the dust in its loneliness.

3. Now the gentle breeze, who had been gamboling over the sea, pushing on the light bark, sweeping over hill and dale, by the neat cottage and the still brook, turning the old mill, fanning the fevered brow of disease, and tossing the curl of innocent childhood, came tripping along on her errands of mercy and love ; and, when she saw the young rose, she hastened to kiss it, and fondly bathed its forehead in cool, refreshing showers, and the young rose revived, looked up and smiled, and flung out its ruddy arms as if in gratitude to embrace the kind breeze; but she hurried quickly away; her generous task was performed; yet not without reward, for she soon perceived that a delicious fragrance had been poured on her wings by the grateful rose; and the kind breeze was glad in her heart, and went away singing through the trees.

4. Thus, true charity, like the breeze which gathers a fragrance from the humble flower it refreshes, unconsciously reaps a reward in the performance of its offices of kindness and love, which steals through the heart like a rich perfume, to bless and to cheer.

6. Hyperbole. A Hyperbole consists in magnifying or diminishing an object beyond its natural bounds, or the limits of truth.

1. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

2. I saw their chief, tall as a rock of ice; his spear, the blasted fir; his shield, the rising moon; and he sat on the shore like a cloud of mist on the hill.

QUESTIONS. What is a hyperbole? Give an example

• Sun'-god, the rays of the sun, or the sun itself.

NOTE. When hyperbolical language goes beyond all reasonable bounds, it becomes bombast, and is not only ridiculous, but disgusting.


I found her on the floor,
In all the storm of grief, yet beautiful,
Pouring forth tears at such a lavish rate,
That were the world on fire, they might have drowned

The wrath of heaven, and quenched the mighty ruin. Nothing could be more extravagantly ridiculous than the above, yet the imagination is thus prone to magnify objects; and this figure is not unfrequently exemplified in common conversation, especially among children and youth. All expressions in the description and comparison of objects, are hyperbolical when they go beyond what is strictly true.

7. Vision, or Imagery. Vision, or imagery, consists in using the present tense of the verb instead of the past, and thus describing past events as actually passing before our eyes; or,

in representing any object of the imagination as real, and present to the senses.

This figure cannot be introduced to any good effect, without the exercise of strong passion, and under circumstances of deep excitement. The following, from one of Cicero's orations, is an appra priate


I seem to myself to behold this city, the ornament of the earth, the capital of all nations, suddenly involved in one conflagration. I see before me the slaughtered heaps of citizens, lying unburied in the midst of their ruined country. The furious countenance of

QUESTIONS. What is the note? In what is this figure too frequently exemplified? What is vision, or imagery? What is necessary in order to introduce this figure with good effect?

Cethegus * rises to my view, while, with a savage joy, he is triamphing in your miseries.

8. Personification. Personification is that figure by which we attribute life and action to inanimate objects.

The language is taken in its literal sense, and the figure lies in the thought. It is prompted by passion, or a strong and lively imagination. All poetry, even in its most humble forms, abounds with this figure. It has three forms :

1. It consists in ascribing to inanimate objects, some of the qualities of living creatures.


A raging storm. A deceitful disease. A cruel disaster. The thirsty earth. The merciless ocean. The groaning forest.

2. It consists in representing inanimate objects as acting like those which have life.


1. The Mountains skipped like rams, and the little Hills, like lambs. 2. So saying, her rash hand, in evil hour

Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked and ate;
Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,

That all was lost. 3. It represents inanimate objects, not only as feeling and acting, but as speaking to us, or listening when we address them.

QUESTIONS. What is personification? In what does the figure lie? How many forms has it? What is the first? Give an example. What is the second ? Give an example. What is the third ?

• Ce-theʻgus, (Cornelius,) a Roman of the most corrupt and abandoned character; an accomplice in Catiline's conspiracy, and, by order of the senate, was stran. gled in prison.

1. I asked the golden Sun, and silver Spheres,

Those bright chronometers of days and years:
They answered, T'ime is but a meteor glare,

And bids us for eternity prepare.”
2. I asked my Bible, and methinks it said,

“ Thine is the present hour, the past is filed;
Live! live to-day! to-morrow never yet

any human being rose or set !”

3. Oh! unexpected stroke, worse than of death!

Must I thus leave thee, Paradise! thus leave
Thee, native Soil — these happy walks, and shades
Fit haunt of gods ? ..... 0 Flowers !
Who now shall rear you to the sun, or rank
Your tribes, and water from th' ambrosial fount?
Thee, lastly, nuptial Bower, by me adorned
With what to sight or smell was sweet, — from thee,
How shall I part, and whither wander down
Into a lower world, to this obscure
And wild? How shall we breathe in other air
Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits ?

9. Apostrophe. An Apostrophe is an address to some real person either absent or dead, as though present and listening to us; or an address to some object personified.

An apostrophe is nearly allied to personification. It is a figure which abounds with sublimity and feeling. All great and beautiful objects in nature, such as the sun, a mountain, the ocean, etc., as well as persons, may be apostrophized. The manner of utterance must be governed by the strength of passion indicated by the language.

QUESTIONS. Give an example of the third form of personification. What is an apostropho? To what figure is it nearly allied ? What is here said of it!

EXAMPLES. 1. Weep on the rocks of roaring winds, O Maid of Innislore ! * Bend thy fair head over the waves, thou fairer than the ghost of the hills, when it moves in a sunbeam at noon over the silence of Morven.t

2. O Thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers ! whence are thy beams, 0 Sun! thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave. But thou thyself movest above! and who can be a companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in the heavens; but thou art forever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course.

3. When the world is dark with tempests, when thunder rolls, and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy beauty from the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain ; for he beholds thy beams no more, whether thy yellow hair floats on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art, perhaps, like me, for a season ; thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds, careless of the voice of the morning. Exult, then. O Sun! in the strength of thy youth. Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon, when it shines through broken clouds, and the mist is on the hills; when the blast of the north is on the plain, and the traveler sinks in the midst of his journey. 4. Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,

Acknowledge Him thy greater; sound his praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st,
And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fall'st.
Moon, that now meet'st the orient sun, now flist
With the fixed stars, fixed in their orb that flies ;
And ye five other wandering Fires, that move
In mystic dance, not without

song, resound
His praise, who out of darkness called up light.

* In’nis-lore, the name given to the Orkney Islands, by Ossian, a Caledonian bard, who flourished about A. D. 300.

t Mor 'ven, a province of ancient Caledonia, or Scotland.

« PreviousContinue »