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OMPARISONS, as observed ae bove *, serve two different purposes: When addressed to the un
derstanding, their purpose is to instruct; when to the heart, their purpofe is to give pleasure. With respect to the latter, a comparison may be employ'd to produce various pleasures by different means. First, by suggesting some unusual
* Chap 8.
resemblance or contrast: second, by setting an object in the strongest light: third, by associating an object with others that are agreeable : fourth, by elevating an object : and, fifth, by deprefling it. And that comparisons may produce various pleasures by these different means, appears from what is said in the chapter above cited; and will be made still more evident by examples, which shall be given after premising some general observations.
An object of one sense cannot be compared to an object of another; for such objects are totally separated from each other, and have no circumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Objects of hearing may be compared, as also : of taste, and of touch. But the chief fund of comparison are objects of sight; because, in writing or speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of visible objects are by far more lively than those of any other fense.
It has no good effect to compare things by way of fimile that are of the same kind, nor to contrast things of different kinds.
The reason is given in the chapter cited above ; and the reason shall be illustrated by examples. The first is a resemblance inftituted betwixt two objects so nearly related as to make little or no impression.
This just rebuke inflam’d the Lycian crew,
They tugg, they sweat ; 'but neither gain, nor
yield, One foot, one inch, of the contended field: Thus obstinate to death, they fight, they fall; Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.
Iliad, xii. 505.
Another from Milton labours under the fame defect. Speaking of the fallen angels fearching for mines of gold:
A numerous brigade hasten'd: as when bands
70] Aut The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.
Queen. What, is my Richard both in shape and
mind Transform’d and weak? Hath Bolingbroke de
pos’d Thine intellect? Hath he been in thy heart? The lion, dying, thrusteth forth his
paw, And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage To be o'erpower'd : and wilt thou, pupil-like, Take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod, And fawn on rage with base humility ?
Richard II, act 5. sc. I,
This comparison has scarce any force. A man and a lion are of different species ; and there is no such resemblance betwixt them in general, as to produce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes or circumstances.
A third general obfervation is, That abstract terms can never be the subject of comparison, otherwise than by being personified.