Слике страница

daughters, he confounds them all together in a manner for which any Irishman would have been laughed to scorn :

“ Adam, the goodliest man of men since born,

His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.'

Yet Addison, who notices these blunders, calls them only little blemishes.”

Scotchman.—“He does so; and he quotes Horace, who tells us we should impute such venial errors to a pardonable inadvertency; and, as I recollect, Addison makes another very just remark, that the ancients, who were actuated by a spirit of candour, not of cavilling, invented a variety of figures of speech, on purpose to palliate little errors of this nature.”

Really, gentlemen," interrupted the Hibernian, who had sat all this time in silence that spoke his grateful sense of the politeness of his companions, “you will put the finishing stroke to my obligations to you, if you will prove that the ancient figures of speech were invented to palliate Irish blunders.”

Englishman.-"No matter for what purpose they were invented ; if we can make so good a use of them we shall be satisfied, especially if you are pleased. I will, however, leave the burthen of the proof upon my friend -here, who has detected me already in quoting from Pope's Iliad instead of Homer's. I am sure he will manage the ancient figures of rhetoric better than I should ; however, if I can fight behind his shield I shall not shun the combat.”

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 today, 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 letters, 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. The hyperbole and catachresis are so nearly related to a bull, that I shall dwell upon them with pleasure. You

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 longâ, 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 with the blood of the martyrs.”

Englishman.--" That does seem an absurdity, I grant ; but you know great orators trample on impossibilities.

Scolchman.--" And great poets get the better of them. You recollect Shakspeare says,


"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

لا رو و

* 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 by, 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


must deny admittance to the poor mason, who said, this house will stand as long as the world, and longer.'” Scotchman.--" Why should

(shut the gates of mercy' upon him, when we pardon his betters for more flagrant 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.

« ПретходнаНастави »