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N 595. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1714.
Non ut placidis coeant immitia, non ut
HOR. Ars Pret. ver. 12.
If ordinary authors would condescend to write as they think, they would at least be allowed the praise of being intelligible. But they really take pains to be ridiculous; and, by the studied ornaments of style, perfectly disguise the little sense they aim at. There is a grievance of this sort in the common. wealth of letters, which I have for some time resolved to redress, and accordingly I have ret this day apart for justice. What I mean is the mixture of inconsistent metaphors, which is a fault but too often found in learned writers, but in all the un. learned without exception.
In order to set this matter in a clear light to every reader, I shall in the first place observe, that a metaplior is a simile in one word, which serves to convey the thoughts of the mind under resemblances and images which affect the senses. There is not any thing in the world, which may not be compared to several things if considered in several distinct lights; or, in other words, the same thing may be expressed by different metaphors. But the mischief is, that an unskilful author shall run these metaphors, 80 absurdly into one another, that there shall be no
simile, no agreeable picture, no apt resemblance, but confusion, obscurity, and noise. Thus I have known a hero compared to a thunderbolt, a lion, and the sca; all and each of them proper metaphors for impetuosity, courage, or force. But by bad management it hath-so happened, that the thunder. bolt hath overflowed its banks, the lion hath been darted through the skies, and the billows have rolled out of the Libyan desert.
'The absurdity in this instance is obvious. And yet every time that clashing metaphors are put to. gether this fault is committed more or less. It hath already been said, that metaphors are images of things which affect the senses. An image, there. fore, taken from what acts upon the sight, cannot, without violence, be applied to the hearing; and 80 of the rest. It is no less an impropriety to make any being in nature or art to do things in its meta. phorical state, which it conld 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 heavy lashes,' saith a celebrated author, that have dropped from your pen, &c.' I guppose this gentleman, having frequently heard of
gall dropping from a pen, and being lashed in a satire,' was resolved to have them both at any rate, and so uttered this complete piece of nonsense. It will most effectually discover the absurdity of these monstrous unions, if we will suppose these meta. phors or imazes actually painted. Imagine then a hand holding a pen, and several lashes of whipcord falling from it, and you have the true representation of this sort of eloquence. I believe, by this very rule, a reader may be able to judge of the union of all metaphors whatsoever, and determine which aro homogeneous, and which heterogencous; or,
to speak more plainly, which are consistent and which inconsistent.
There is yet one cvil more which I must take notice of, and that is the running of metaphors into tedious allegories; which, thongh an error on the better hand, causes confusion as much as the other. This becomes abominable, when the lustre of one word leads a writer out of his road, and makes him wander from his subject for a page together. I remember a young fellow of this turn, who, having said by chance that his mistress had a world of charms, thereupon took occasion to consider her as one possessed of frigid and torrid zones, and pur. sucd her from 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 hath heretofore received great applause; but after what hath been said, let any man commend it if he dare.
After the many heavy lashes that have 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 Bil. lingsgate, without knowing who I am, or whether I deserved to be cupped and scarified at this rate. I tell you once for all, turn your eyes where you please, you shall never smell me out. 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 futuus hath bewildered
you, and that indeed you have built upon a sandy foundation, and brought your hogs to a fair market.
I am, SIR,
N° 596. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1714.
Molle meum levibus cor est violabile telis.
OVID. Ep. xv. 79. Cupid's light darts my tender bosom move.
The case of my correspondent, who sends me the following letter, has somewhat in it so very whima sical, that I know not how to entertain my reades better than by laying it before them.
Middle Temple, Sept. 18. 'I Am fully convinced that there is not upon earth a more impertinent creature than an importunate lover. We are daily complaining of the severity of our fate to people who are wholly unconcerned in it; and hourly improving a passion, which we would persuade the world is the torment of our lives. Notwithstanding this reflection, sir, I cannot forbear acquainting you with my own case. You must know then, sir, that, even from my child. hood, the most prevailing inclination I could perceive in myself was a strong desire to be in favour with the fair sex. I am at present in the one-andtwentieth year of my age; and should have mado choice of a she bedfellow many years since, had
not my father, who has a pretty good estate of his own getting, and passes in the world for a prudent man, been pleased to lay it down as a maxim, that nothing spoils a young fellow's fortune so much as marrying carly; and that no man ought to think: of wedlock untill six-and-twenty. Knowing his sentiments upon this head, I thought it in vain to apply myself to women of condition, who expect settlements; so that all my amours have hitherto been with ladies who had no fortunes: but I know not how to give you so good an idea of me, as by laying before
yon the history of my life. I can very well remember, that at my schoolmistress's, whenever we broke up, I was always for joining myself with the miss who lay-in, and was constantly one of the first to make a party in the play of Husband and Wife. This passion for being well with the females still increased as I advanced in years. At the dancing-school I coutracted So many quarrels by struggling with my fellow, scholars for the partner I liked best, that upon a ball-night, before our mothers made their appearance, I was usually up to the nose in blood. My father, like a discreet man, soon removed me from this stage of softness to a school of discipline, where I learnt Latin and Greek. I underwent several severities in this place, until it was thought convenient to send me to the university: though, to confess the truth, I should not have arrived so early at that scat of learning but from the discovery of an intrigue between me and my master's house. keeper; upon whom I had employed my rhetoric so effectnally, that, though she was a very elderly lady, I had almost brought her to consent to marry me. Upon my arrival at Oxford, I found logic sa dry, that, instead of giving attention to the dead, Į soon fell to addressing the living. My first