Слике страница

Scotchman._" I stand corrected for quoting Greek. Now I will not go to Longinus for my tropes and figures ; I have just met with a little book on the subject, which I put into my pocket to-day, intending to finish it on my journey, but I have been better employed.”

He drew from his pocket a book, called “ Deinology; or the Union of Reason and Elegance.” “ Look," said he, “ look at this long list of tropes and figures; amongst them we could find apologies for every species of Irish bulls; but in mercy, I will select, from the twenty chief and most moving figures of speech,' only the oxymoron, as it is a favourite with Irish orators. In the oxymoron contradictions meet: to reconcile these, Irish ingenuity delights. I will further spare four out of the seven figures of less note: emphasis, enallage, and the hysteron proteron you must have ; because emphasis graces Irish diction, enallage unbinds it from strict grammatical fetters, and hysteron proteron allows it sometimes to put the cart before the horse. Of the eleven grammatical figures, Ireland delights chiefly in the antimeria, or changing one part of speech for another, and in the ellipsis or defect. Of the remaining long list of figures, the Irish are particularly disposed to the epizeuxis, as indeed, indeed—at all, at all,' and antanaclasis, or double meaning. The tautotes, or repetition of the same thing, is, I think, full as common amongst the English. bole and catachresis are so nearly related to a bull, that I shall dwell upon them with pleasure.


The hyper

must listen to the definition of a catachresis :

-A catachresis is the boldest of any trope. Necessity makes it borrow and employ an expression or term contrary to the thing it means to express.

“ Upon my word this is something like a description of an Irish bull,” interrupted the Hibernian.

Scotchman.-" For instance, it has been said, Equitare in arundine longá, to ride on horseback on a stick. Reason condemns the contradiction, but necessity has allowed it, and use has made it intelligible. The same trope is employed in the following metaphorical expression :-the seeds of the Gospel have been watered by the blood of the martyrs."

Englishman." That does seem an absurdity, I grant ;


you know great orators trample on impossibilities.'

Scotchman.—" And great poets get the better of them. You recollect Shakspeare says,

[ocr errors]

Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible,
Yea, get the better of them.

Englishman._" And Corneille, in the Cid, I believe, makes his hero a compliment upon his having performed impossibilities–Vos mains seules ont le droit de vaincre un invincible.'”+

Scotchman.—" Ay, that would be a bull in an

* Lord Chatham. + Your hands alone have a right to conquer the unconquerable.

Irishman, but it is only an hyperbole in a Frenchman.”

Irishman.--" Indeed this line of Corneille's out hyperboles the hyperbole, considered in any but a prophetic light; as, a prophecy, it exactly foretels the taking of Bonaparte's invincible standard by the glorious forty-second regiment of the British : “ Your hands alone have a right to vanquish the invincible.' By-the-bye, the phrase ont le droit cannot, I believe, be literally translated into English ; but the Scotch and Irish, have a right, translates it exactly. But do not let me interrupt my country's defence, gentlemen; I am heartily glad to find Irish blunderers may shelter themselves in such good company in the ancient sanctuary of the hyperbole. But I am afraid

you must deny admittance to the poor mason, who said, “this house will stand as long as the world, and longer.'”

Scotchman.- Why should we 'shut the gates of mercy upon him when we pardon his betters for more Alagrant sins? for instance, Mr. Pope, who, in his Essay on Criticism, makes a blunder, or rather uses an hyperbole, stronger than that of your poor Irish mason:

• When first young Maro in his noble mind

A work t'outlast immortal Rome design’d.' And to give you a more modern case, I lately heard an English shopkeeper say to a lady in recommendation of his goods, “ Ma'am, it will wear for ever, and make you a petticoat afterwards.'”

Irishman.—“ Upon my word, I did not think you could have found a match for the mason; but what will you say to my countryman, who, on meeting an acquaintance, accosted him with this ambiguous compliment— When first I saw you I thought it was you, but now I see it is


brother."" Scotchman.—" If I were not afraid you would take me for a pedant, I should quote a sentence from Cicero that is not far behind this blunder.”

Irishman.—“I can take you for nothing but a friend : : pray

let us have the Latin.” Scotchman." It is one of Cicero's compliments to Cæsar' Qui, cum ipse imperator in toto imperio populi Romani unus esset, esse me alterum passus est.'* Perhaps,” continued the Scotchman,“ my way of pronouncing Latin sounds strangely to you, gentlemen ?"

Irishman.—“ And perhaps ours would be unintelligible to Cicero himself, if he were to overhear us: I fancy we are all so far from right, that we need not dispute about degrees of wrong.

The coach stopped at this instant, and the conversation was interrupted.

* And when Cæsar was the only emperor within the dominion of Rome, he suffered me to be another.

[ocr errors]



AFTER our travellers had dined, the conversation was renewed by the English gentleman's repeating Goldsmith's celebrated lines on Burke:

" Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining,
And thought of convincing, whilst they thought of dining ;
In short, 'twas his fate, unemploy'd or in place, sir,
To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor."

• What humour and wit there are in that poem of Goldsmith's! and where is there any thing equal to his « Traveller?'"

Irishman. “ Yet this is the man who used to be the butt of the company for his bulls.”

Englishman.-“ No, not for his bulls, but for blurting out opinions in conversation that could not stand the test of Dr. Johnson's critical powers. But what would become of the freedom of wit and humour if every word that came out of our mouths were subject to the tax of a professed critic's censure, or if every sentence were to undergo a logical examination? It would be well for Englishmen if they were a little more inclined, like your open-hearted countrymen, to blurt out their opinions freely."

Scotchman.—“ I cannot forgive Dr. Johnson for

« ПретходнаНастави »