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It may be remarked, that apostrophe is, on the whole, a figure too passionate to gain much admittance into any species of composition, except poetry and oratory.
The unfigured and literal use of interrogation is to ask a question; but when men are strongly moved, they naturally put into the form of a question whatever they would affirm or deny with great earnestness. Thus: Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook, or his tongue with a cord that thou lettest down.* He that planted the ear, shall he not hear.
Interrogation gives life and spirit to discourse. It may be used to rouse and waken the hearers- sometimes to command with great emphasis, and sometimes to denote plaintive passion. Cicero uses it with great effect in his oration against Cataline, which he thus commences:
"How long Cataline will you abuse our patience? Do you not perceive that your designs are discovered?" &c.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Repetition seizes some emphatical word, or phrase, and, to mark its importance, makes it recur frequently in the same
*The book of Job abounds in beautiful instances of this figure.
sentence. It is significant of contrast and energy. It also marks passion, which wishes to dwell on the object by which it is excited.
"Weep not, oh Love!" she cries, "to see me bleed —
yet thee to leave is death, is death indeed
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
He sung Darius, great and good,
By too severe a fate,
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate, and weltering in his blood.
Exclamations are the effect of strong emotions of the mind; such as surprise, admiration, joy, grief, and the like.
Oh Liberty! oh sound once delightful to every Oh sacred privilege of Roman citizenship! trampled upon.
Roman ear once sacred, now
Oh time! time! it is fit thou shouldst thus strike thy mur derer to the heart! How art thou fled forever! A month Oh for a single week! I ask not for years! though an age were too little for the much I have to do!
Vision, another figure of speech, proper only in animated and warm compositions, is produced, when, instead of relating something that is past, we use the present tense of the verb, and describe the action or event as actually now in sight.
In tragedy, vision is the language of the most violent passion. which conjures up spectres, and approaches to insanity.
Cicero, in his fourth oration against Cataline, pictures to his mind the consummation of the conspiracy, as follows:]
I seem to myself to behold this city, the ornament of the earth, and the capital of all nations, suddenly involved in one conflagration. I see before me the slaughtered heaps of citi'zens, lying unburied in the midst of their ruined country. The furious countenance of Cethegus rises to my view, while, with a savage joy, he is triumphing in your miseries.
Methought I heard a a voice'
Cry, Sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleep.
Avaunt and quit my sight!
Let the earth hide thee; thy hones are marrowless;
Thy blood is cold; thou hast no speculation
Climax consists in an artful exaggeration of all the circum. stances of some object or action, which we wish to place in a strong light. It operates by a gradual rise of one circumstance above another, till our idea is raised to the highest pitch.
A speaker makes an assertion which he feels is not strong enough for his thought; - he adds another, and another, until he reaches that point which his mind contemplates to be sufficiently expressive; and then the climax (or climbing) ends.
Boisterous in speech, in action prompt and bold,
[The following is part of an address, in the case of a woman who was accused of murdering her own child.]
Gentlemen, if one man had any how slain another; if an adversary had killed his opposer; or a woman occasioned the death of her enemy; even these criminals would have been capitally punished by the Cornelian law. But, if this guiltless infant, who could make no enemy, had been murdered by its own nurse; what punishment would not the mother have demanded? With what cries and exclamations would she have stunned your ears? What shall we say, then, when a woman, guilty of homicide; a mother, of the murder of her innocent child, hath comprised all those misdeeds in one single crime; a crime, in its own nature detestable; in a woman prodigious; in a mother incredible; and perpetrated against one, whose age called for compassion; whose near relation claimed affection and whose innocence deserved the highest favor? *
*Such regular Climaxes, however, though they have great beauty, vet
The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces.
When we have practised good actions awhile they become easy; and when they are easy, we begin to take pleasure in them; and when they please us, we do them frequently; and by frequency of acts they grow into a habit.
And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity
It is a crime to put a Roman citizen in bonds; it is the height of guilt to scourge him; little less than parricide to put him to death; what name, then, shall I give to the act of crucifying him?
at the same time have the appearance of art and study; and, therefore though they may be admitted into formal harangues, yet they are not the language of passion, which seldom proceeds by steps so regular.
Climax and Antithesis are sometimes united, as in the following
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods;
Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,
Climax is nearly related to Hyperbole, and differs from it chiefly in degree. The purpose of Hyperbole is to exalt our conceptions beyond the truth: of Climax, to elevate our ideas of the truth itself, by a series of circumstances, ascending one above another in respect of importance, and all pointing toward the same object. This figure, when properly introduced and displayed, affords a very sensible pleasure. It accords with our disposition to enlarge our conceptions of any object that we contemplate; it affords a gratification Bimilar to what we receive on ascending an eminence, situated in the centre of a rich and varied landscape, where every step we proceed presents a grander and more extensive prospect.