Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XIX: Comparisons - Elements of Criticism, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER XIX: Comparisons - Henry Home, Lord Kames, Elements of Criticism, vol. 2 
Elements of Criticism, Edited and with an Introduction by Peter Jones (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
Part of: Elements of Criticism, 2 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Comparisons, as observed above,* serve two purposes: when addressed to the understanding, their purpose is to instruct; when to the heart, their purpose is to please. Various means contribute to the latter; first, the suggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast; second, the setting an object in the strongest light; third, the associating an object with others that are agreeable; fourth, the elevating an object; and, fifth, the depressing it. And that comparisons may give pleasure by these various 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.
Objects of different senses cannot be compared together; for such objects, being entirely separated from each other, have no circumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Objects of hearing may be compared together, as also of taste, of smell, and of touch: but the chief fund<184> of comparison are objects of sight; because, in writing or speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of sight are more distinct and lively than those of any other sense.
When a nation emerging out of barbarity begins to think of the fine arts,1 the beauties of language cannot long lie concealed; and when discovered, they are generally, by the force of novelty, carried beyond moderation. Thus, in the early poems of every nation, we find metaphors and similes founded on slight and distant resemblances, which, losing their grace with their novelty, wear gradually out of repute; and now, by the improvement of taste, none but correct metaphors and similes are admitted into any polite composition. To illustrate this observation, a specimen shall be given afterward of such metaphors as I have been describing: with respect to similes, take the following specimen.
Behold, thou art fair, my love: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead: thy teeth are like a flock of sheep from the washing, every one bearing twins: thy lips are like a thread of scarlet: thy neck like the tower of David built for an armoury, whereon hang a thousand shields of mighty men: thy two breasts like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies: thy eyes like the fish-pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim: thy nose like the tower of Lebanon, looking toward Damascus.
Song of Solomon.<185>
Thou art like snow on the heath; thy hair like the mist of Cromla, when it curls on the rocks and shines to the beam of the west: thy breasts are like two smooth rocks seen from Branno of the streams; thy arms like two white pillars in the hall of the mighty Fingal.
It has no good effect to compare things by way of simile that are of the same kind; nor to compare by contrast things of different kinds. The reason is given in the chapter quoted above; and the reason shall be illustrated by examples. The first is a comparison built upon a resemblance so obvious as to make little or no impression.
Another, from Milton, lies open to the same objection. Speaking of the fallen angels searching for mines of gold:<186>
The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.
This comparison has scarce any force: a man and a lion are of different species, and therefore are proper subjects for a simile; but there is no such resemblance between them in general, as to produce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes or circumstances.
A third general observation is, That abstract terms can never be the subject of comparison, otherwise than by being personified. Shakespear compares adversity to a toad, and slander to the bite of a crocodile; but in such comparisons these abstract terms must be imagined sensible beings.
To have a just notion of comparisons, they<187> must be distinguished into two kinds; one common and familiar, as where a man is compared to a lion in courage, or to a horse in speed; the other more distant and refined, where two things that have in themselves no resemblance or opposition, are compared with respect to their effects. This sort of comparison is occasionally explained above;* and for further explanation take what follows. There is no resemblance between a flower-plot and a cheerful song; and yet they may be compared with respect to their effects, the emotions they produce being similar. There is as little resemblance between fraternal concord and precious ointment; and yet observe how successfully they are compared with respect to the impressions they make.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron’s beard, and descended to the skirts of his garment.
For illustrating this sort of comparison, I add some more examples:
Delightful is thy presence, O Fingal! it is like the sun on Cromla, when the hunter mourns his absence for a season, and sees him between the clouds.
Did not Ossian hear a voice? or is it the sound of<188> days that are no more? Often, like the evening-sun, comes the memory of former times on my soul.
His countenance is settled from war; and is calm as the evening-beam, that from the cloud of the west looks on Cona’s silent vale.
Sorrow, like a cloud on the sun, shades the soul of Clessammor.
The music was like the memory of joys that are past, pleasant and mournful to the soul.
Pleasant are the words of the song, said Cuchullin, and lovely are the tales of other times. They are like the calm dew of the morning on the hill of roes, when the sun is faint on its side, and the lake is settled and blue in the vale.
These quotations are from the poems of Ossian, who abounds with comparisons of this delicate kind, and appears singularly happy in them.*
I proceed to illustrate by particular instances the different means by which comparisons, whether of the one sort or the other, can afford pleasure; and, in the order above established, I begin with such instances as are agreeable, by suggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast:<189>
The last exertion of courage compared to the blaze of a lamp before extinguishing, Tasso Gierusalem, canto 19. st. 22.
None of the foregoing similes, as they appear to me, tend to illustrate the principal subject: and therefore the pleasure they afford must arise from suggesting resemblances that are not obvious: I mean the chief pleasure; for undoubtedly a beautiful subject introduced to form the simile affords a separate pleasure, which is felt in the similes mentioned, particularly in that cited from Milton.
The next effect of a comparison in the order mentioned, is to place an object in a strong point<191> of view; which effect is remarkable in the following similes:
The imitation of this beautiful simile by Ariosto, canto 1. st. 42. falls short of the original. It is also in part imitated by Pope.*
Alas! poor Richard, where rides he the while!<193>
Why did not I pass away in secret, like the flower of the rock that lifts its fair head unseen, and strows its withered leaves on the blast?
There is a joy in grief when peace dwells with the sorrowful. But they are wasted with mourning, O daughter of Toscar, and their days are few. They fall away like the flower on which the sun looks in his strength, after the mildew has passed over it, and its head is heavy with the drops of night.
The sight obtained of the city of Jerusalem by the Christian army, compared to that of land discovered after a long voyage, Tasso’s Gierusalem, canto 3. st. 4. The fury of Rinaldo subsiding when not opposed, to that of wind or water when it has a free passage, canto 20. st. 58.
As words convey but a faint and obscure notion of great numbers, apoet, to give a lively notion of the object he describes with regard to number, does well to compare it to what is familiar and commonly known. Thus Homer* compares the Grecian army in point of number to a swarm of bees: in another passage† he compares it to that profusion of leaves and flowers which appear in the spring, or of insects in a summer’s evening: and Milton,
Such comparisons have, by some writers,* been<196> condemned for the lowness of the images introduced: but surely without reason; for, with regard to numbers, they put the principal subject in a strong light.
The foregoing comparisons operate by resemblance; others have the same effect by contrast.
Milton has a peculiar talent in embellishing the principal subject by associating it with others that are agreeable; which is the third end of a comparison. Similes of this kind have, beside, a separate effect: they diversify the narration by new images that are not strictly necessary to the comparison: they are short episodes, which, without<197> drawing us from the principal subject, afford great delight by their beauty and variety:
With regard to similes of this kind, it will readily occur to the reader, that when a resembling subject is once properly introduced in a simile, the mind is transitorily amused with the new object, and is not dissatisfied with the slight interruption. Thus, in fine weather, the momentary excursions of a traveller for agreeable prospects or elegant buildings, cheer his mind, relieve him from the languor of uniformity, and without much lengthening his journey in reality, shorten it greatly in appearance.
Next of comparisons that aggrandize or elevate. These affect us more than any other sort: the reason of which may be gathered from the chapter of Grandeur and Sublimity; and, without reasoning, will be evident from the following instances:
As rusheth a foamy stream from the dark shady steep of Cromla, when thunder is rolling above, and dark brown night rests on the hill: so fierce, so vast, so terrible, rush forward the sons of Erin. The chief, like a whale of Ocean followed by all its billows, pours valour forth as a stream, rolling its might along the shore.
Fingal, b. 1.
As roll a thousand waves to a rock, so Swaran’s host came on; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Swaran.
I beg peculiar attention to the following simile, for a reason that shall be mentioned:
The image of a falling rock is certainly not elevating;* and yet undoubtedly the foregoing simile fires and swells the mind: it is grand therefore, if not sublime. And the following simile will afford additional evidence, that there is a real, tho’ nice, distinction between these two feelings:
A comparison by contrast may contribute to grandeur or elevation, no less than by resemblance;<202> of which the following comparison of Lucan is a remarkable instance:
Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.16
Considering that the Heathen deities possessed a rank but one degree above that of mankind, I think it would not be easy by a single expression, to exalt more one of the human species, than is done in this comparison. I am sensible, at the same time, that such a comparison among Christians, who entertain more exalted notions of the Deity, would justly be reckoned extravagant and absurd.
The last article mentioned, is that of lessening or depressing a hated or disagreeable object; which is effectually done by resembling it to any thing low or despicable. Thus Milton, in his description of the rout of the rebelangels, happily expresses their terror and dismay in the following simile:
In the same view, Homer, I think, may be justified in comparing the shouts of the Trojans in battle to the noise of cranes,* and to the bleating of a flock of sheep:* it is no objection that these are low images; for it was his intention to lessen the Trojans by opposing their noisy march to the silent and manly march of the Greeks. Addison,† describing the figure that men make in the sight of a superior being, takes opportunity to mortify their pride by comparing them to a swarm of pismires.17
A comparison that has none of the good effects mentioned in this discourse, but is built upon common and trifling circumstances, makes a mighty silly figure:
Non sum nescius, grandia consilia a multis plerumque causis, ceu magna navigia a plurimis remis, impelli.
Strada de bello Belgico.18
By this time, I imagine, the different purposes of comparison, and the various impressions it makes on the mind, are sufficiently illustrated by proper examples. This was an easy task. It is more difficult to lay down rules about the proprie-<204>ty or impropriety of comparisons; in what circumstances they may be introduced, and in what circumstances they are out of place. It is evident, that a comparison is not proper on every occasion: a man when cool and sedate, is not disposed to poetical flights, nor to sacrifice truth and reality to imaginary beauties: far less is he so disposed, when oppressed with care, or interested in some important transaction that engrosses him totally. On the other hand, a man, when elevated or animated by passion, is disposed to elevate or animate all his objects: he avoids familiar names, exalts objects by circumlocution and metaphor, and gives even life and voluntary action to inanimate beings. In this heat of mind, the highest poetical flights are indulged, and the boldest similes and metaphors relished.‡ But without soaring so high, the mind is frequently in a tone to relish chaste and moderate ornament; such as comparisons that set the principal object in a strong point of view, or that embellish and diversify the narration. In general, when by any animating passion, whether pleasant or painful, an impulse is given to the imagination; we are in that condition disposed to every sort of figurative expression, and in particular to comparisons. This in a great measure<205> is evident from the comparisons already mentioned; and shall be further illustrated by other instances. Love, for example, in its infancy, rousing the imagination, prompts the heart to display itself in figurative language, and in similes:
The dread of a misfortune, however imminent, involving always some doubt and uncertainty, agitates the mind, and excites the imagination:
But it will be a better illustration of the present head, to give examples where comparisons are improperly introduced. I have had already occasion to observe, that similes are not the language of a man in his ordinary state of mind, dispatching his daily and usual work. For that reason, the following speech of a gardener to his servants, is extremely improper:
The fertility of Shakespear’s vein betrays him frequently into this error. There is the same impropriety in another simile of his:
Rooted grief, deep anguish, terror, remorse, despair, and all the severe dispiriting passions, are declared enemies, perhaps not to figurative language in general, but undoubtedly to the pomp and solemnity of comparison. Upon that account, the simile pronounced by young Rutland, under terror of death from an inveterate enemy, and praying mercy, is unnatural:
Nothing appears more out of place, nor more aukwardly introduced, than the following simile:
Stay, Lucia, stay; what dost thou say? for-ever?
Nor doth the simile which closes the first act of the same tragedy make a better appearance; the situation there represented being too dispiriting for a simile. A simile is improper for one who dreads the discovery of a secret machination:
A man spent and dispirited after losing a battle, is not disposed to heighten or illustrate his discourse by similes:
Far less is a man disposed to similes who is not only defeated in a pitch’d battle, but lies at the point of death mortally wounded:
Queen Katharine, deserted by the King, and in the deepest affliction on her divorce, could not be disposed to any sallies of imagination: and for that reason, the following simile, however beautiful in the mouth of a spectator, is scarce proper in her own:
Similes thus unseasonably introduced, are finely ridiculed in the Rehearsal.
Now here she must make a simile.
Where’s the necessity of that, Mr. Bayes?
A comparison is not always faultless even where it is properly introduced. I have endeavoured above to give a general view of the different ends to which a comparison may contribute: a comparison, like other human productions, may fall short of its aim; of which defect instances are not rare even among good writers; and to complete the present subject, it will be necessary to make some observations upon such faulty comparisons. I begin with observing, that nothing can be more erroneous than to institute a comparison too faint: a distant resemblance or contrast fatigues the mind with its obscurity, instead of amusing it; and tends not to fulfil any one end of a comparison. The following similes seem to labour under this defect.<211>
The latter of the two similes is good: the former, by its faintness of resemblance, has no effect but to load the narration with an useless image.
The next error I shall mention is a capital one. In an epic poem, or in a poem upon any elevated subject, a writer ought to avoid raising a simile on a low image, which never fails to bring down the principal subject. In general, it is a rule, That a grand object ought never to be resembled to one<213> that is diminutive, however delicate the resemblance may be: for it is the peculiar character of a grand object to fix the attention, and swell the mind; in which state, to contract it to a minute object, is unpleasant. The resembling an object to one that is greater, has, on the contrary, a good effect, by raising or swelling the mind: for one passes with satisfaction from a small to a great object; but cannot be drawn down, without reluctance, from great to small. Hence the following similes are faulty.
To describe bees gathering honey as resembling the builders of Carthage, would have a much better effect.*
The following simile has not any one beauty to recommend it. The subject is Amata, the wife of King Latinus.
This simile seems to border upon the burlesque.
An error opposite to the former, is the introducing a resembling image, so elevated or great as to bear no proportion to the principal subject. Their remarkable disparity, seizing the mind, never fails to depress the principal subject by contrast, instead of raising it by resemblance: and if the disparity be very great, the simile degenerates into burlesque; nothing being more ridiculous than to force an object out of its proper rank in nature, by equalling it with one greatly superior or great-<216>ly inferior. This will be evident from the following comparisons.
The Cyclopes make a better figure in the following simile:
Such a simile upon the simplest of all actions, that of opening a door, is pure burlesque.
A writer of delicacy will avoid drawing his comparisons from any image that is nauseous, ugly, or remarkably disagreeable: for however strong the resemblance may be, more will be lost than gained<218> by such comparison. Therefore I cannot help condemning, though with some reluctance, the following simile, or rather metaphor.
The strongest objection that can lie against a comparison is, that it consists in words only, not in sense. Such false coin, or bastard wit, does extremely well in burlesque; but is far below the dignity of the epic, or of any serious composition:
There is evidently no resemblance between an isicle and a woman, chaste or unchaste: but chastity is cold in a metaphorical sense, and an isicle is cold in a proper sense: and this verbal resem-<219>blance, in the hurry and glow of composing, has been thought a sufficient foundation for the simile. Such phantom similes are mere witticisms, which ought to have noquarter, except where purposely introduced to provoke laughter. Lucian, in his dissertation upon history, talking of a certain author, makes the following comparison, which is verbal merely:
This author’s descriptions are so cold, that they surpass the Caspian snow, and all the ice of the north.
Virgil has not escaped this puerility:
Nor Tasso, in his Aminta:
Nor Boileau, the chastest of all writers; and that even in his art of poetry:
Here there is no manner of resemblance but in the word drown; for there is no real resemblance between being drown’d at sea, and dying of grief at land. But perhaps this sort of tinsel wit may have a propriety in it, when used to express an affected, not a real passion, which was the Queen’s case.
Pope has several similes of the same stamp. I shall transcribe one or two from the Essay on Man, the gravest and most instructive of all his performances:
And again, talking of this same ruling or master passion:
Lord Bolingbroke, speaking of historians:
Where their sincerity as to fact is doubtful, we strike out truth by the confrontation of different accounts; as we strike out sparks of fire by the collision of flints and steel.<222>
Let us vary the phrase a very little, and there will not remain a shadow of resemblance. Thus,
We discover truth by the confrontation of different accounts; as we strike out sparks of fire by the collision of flints and steel.
Racine makes Pyrrhus say to Andromaque,
And Orestes in the same strain:
Que les Scythes sont moins cruel qu’ Hermione.47
Similes of this kind put one in mind of a ludicrous French song:
A vulgar Irish ballad begins thus:
Where the subject is burlesque or ludicrous, such similes are far from being improper. Horace says pleasantly,
Quamquam tu levior cortice.
L. 3. ode 9.50
In breaking oaths he’s stronger than Hercules.51
And this leads me to observe, that beside the foregoing comparisons, which are all serious, there is a species, the end and purpose of which is to excite gaiety or mirth. Take the following examples.
Falstaff, speaking to his page:
I do here walk before thee, like a sow that hath overwhelmed all her litter but one.
Second part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4.52
I think he is not a pick-purse, nor a horse-stealer; but for his verity in love, I do think him as concave as a cover’d goblet, or a worm-eaten nut.
As you like it, act 3. sc. 10.53 <224>
Description of Hudibras’s horse:
Books, like men their authors, have but one way of coming into the world; but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no more.
Tale of a Tub.
And in this the world may perceive the difference between the integrity of a generous author, and that of a common friend. The latter is observed to adhere close in prosperity; but on the decline of fortune, to drop suddenly off: whereas the generous author, just on the contrary, finds his hero on the dunghill, from thence by gradual steps raises him to a throne, and then immediately withdraws, expecting not so much as thanks for his pains.
Tale of a Tub.
The most accomplish’d way of using books at present is, to serve them as some do lords, learn their titles, and then brag of their acquaintance.
Tale of a Tub.
He does not consider, that sincerity in love is as much out of fashion as sweet snuff; nobody takes it now.
My dear, I am afraid you have provoked her a little too far.
O! Not at all. You shall see, I’ll sweeten her, and she’ll cool like a dish of tea.
[* ]Chap. 8.
[1. ]Kames added several additional quotations to the text after the first edition, most conspicuously from James Macpherson’s Fingal.
[2. ]Paradise Lost, I.625.
[3. ]Read “weaken’d” for “weak”; “lion dying” for “lion,” and last line:
[* ]p. 86.
[* ]The nature and merit of Ossian’s comparisons is fully illustrated, in a dissertation on the poems of that author, by Dr. Blair, professor of rhetoric in the college of Edinburgh; a delicious morsel of criticism. [Hugh Blair, A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian, the Son of Fingal, 1763.]
[4. ]Act 3, sc. 4. Read opening lines as:
Delete “All” and “and” in lines 9 and 12.
[5. ]Henry VI, Part 3, act 2, sc. 1.
[6. ]Edmund Waller, “The Night-piece or a Picture Drawn in the Dark.”
[7. ]Catullus, Carmen nuptiale, LX. 39–47:
Kames departs from standard eighteenth-century texts: for “contusus” read “convulvus”; for both occurrences of “cupiere” read “optavere”; for “suis; sed” read “suis est;”. Kames omits the last line: “Hymen o Hymenaee, Hymen ades o Hymenaee.”
[* ]Dunciad, b. 4. l. 405.
[8. ]Act 2, sc. 7.
[9. ]Act 2, sc. 4.
[10. ]Act 5, sc. 2. Kames omits ten lines prior to the speech of the duchess.
[11. ]Act 1, sc. 1.
[12. ]Act 3, sc. 2: read “lade” for “lave” in line 6, and read last line as “Flatt’ring me with impossibilities.”
[13. ]Act 4, sc. 2.
[* ]Book 2. l. 111.
[† ]Book 2. l. 551.
[* ]See Vidae Poetic. lib. 2. l. 282.
[14. ]Act 2, sc. 1.
[15. ]Act 3, sc. 3.
[* ]See chap. 4.
[16. ]Lucan 1.128: “for, if the victor had the gods on his side, the vanquished had Cato.”
[* ]Beginning of book 3.
[* ]Book 4. l. 498.
[† ]Guardian, No. 153.
[18. ]Famiano Strada (1572–1649), De bello Belgico decas prima, 1632 (translated into English as The History of the Low-Countrey Warres, 1650). “I am not ignorant of the fact that great schemes are effected by many causes, just as large ships are impelled along by many oars.”
[‡ ]It is accordingly observed by Longinus, in his Treatise of the Sublime, that the proper time for metaphor, is when the passions are so swelled as to hurry on like a torrent.
[19. ]Act 3, sc. 2.
[20. ]Act 3, sc. 2.
[21. ]Act 3, sc. 4.
[22. ]Act 1, sc. 3.
[* ]This simile would have a fine effect pronounced by the chorus in a Greek tragedy.
[23. ]Joseph Addison, 1713.
[24. ]Act 1, sc. 4.
[25. ]Act 5, sc. 2: read “mangled” for “mingled.”
[26. ]Read first three lines as:
[27. ]“As Notus is oft a clearing wind and dispels the clouds from darkened skies nor breeds perpetual showers, so do thou, O Plancus, remember wisely to end life’s gloom and troubles with mellow wine.”
[28. ]“Turnus their captain in the centre of the line:—even as Ganges, rising high in silence with his seven peaceful streams, or Nile, when his rich flood ebbs from the fields, and at length he is sunk into his channel.”
[29. ]“Such was her prayer and such the tearful pleas the unhappy sister bears again and again. But by no tearful pleas is he moved, nor in yielding mood pays he heed to any words. Fate withstands and heaven seals his kindly, mortal ears. Even as when northern Alpine winds, blowing now hence, now thence, emulously strive to uproot an oak strong with the strength of years, there comes a roar, the stem quivers and the high leafage thickly strews the ground, but the oak clings to the crag, and as far it strikes its roots down towards hell—even so with ceaseless appeals, from this and from that, the hero is buffeted, and in his mighty heart feels the thrill of grief: steadfast stands his will; the tears fall in vain.”
[30. ]Act 4, sc. 1.
[31. ]Act 5, sc. 7.
[32. ]Act 1, sc. 4.
[33. ]“Eagerly the Tyrians press on, some to build walls, to rear the citadel, and roll up stones by hand; some to choose the site for a dwelling and enclose it with a furrow. Laws and magistrates they ordain, and a holy senate. Here some are digging harbours, here others lay the deep foundations of their theatre and hew out of the cliffs vast columns, lofty adornments for the stage to be! Even as bees in early summer, amid flowery fields, ply their task in sunshine, when they lead forth the full-grown young of their race, or pack the fluid honey and strain their cells to bursting with sweet nectar, or receive the burdens of incomers, or in martial array drive from their folds the drones, a lazy herd; all aglow is the work and the fragrant honey is sweet with thyme.” Read “Theatri” for “theatris”; “augmine” for “agmine.”
[* ]And accordingly Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, sect. 85.) observes, that it has a better effect to compare small things to great than great things to small.
[34. ]“Then, indeed, the Teucrians fall to and all along the shore launch their tall ships. The keels, well-pitched, are set afloat; the sailors, eager for flight, bring from the woods leafy boughs for oars and logs unhewn. One could see them moving away and streaming forth from all the city. Even as when ants, mindful of winter, plunder a huge hap of corn and store it in their home; over the plain moves a black column, and through the grass they carry the spoil on a narrow track, some strain with their shoulders and heave on the huge grains, some close up the ranks and rebuke delay; all the path is aglow with work.” Read “navis,” “Frondetisque,” “ruentis.”
[35. ]“Then, indeed, the luckless queen, stung by monstrous horrors, in wild frenzy rages from end to end of the city. As at times a top, spinning under the twisted lash, which boys intent on the game drive in a great circle through an empty court—urged by the whip it speeds on round after round; the puzzled, childish throng hang over it in wonder, marvelling at the whirling box-wood; the blows give it life: so, with course no slacker, is she driven through the midst of cities and proud peoples.”
[36. ]“All aglow is the work, and the fragrant honey is sweet with thyme. And as, when the Cyclopes in haste forge bolts from tough ore, some with ox-hide bellows make the blasts come and go, others dip the hissing brass in the lake, while Aetna groans under the anvils laid upon her; they, with mighty force, now one, now another, raise their arms in measured cadence, and turn the iron with gripping tongs—even so, if we may compare small things with great, an inborn love of gain spurs on the Attic bees, each after its own office. The aged have charge of the towns, the building of the hives, the fashioning of the cunningly wrought houses. But the young betake them home in weariness, late at night, their thighs freighted with thyme; far and wide they feed on arbutus, on pale-green willows, on cassia and ruddy crocus, on the rich linden, and the dusky hyacinth. All have one season to rest from labour, all one season to toil.”
[37. ]“Then Bitias falls, fire in his eyes and rage in his hearts, yet not under a javelin— for not to a javelin had he given his life—but with a mighty hiss a whirled pike sped, driven by a thunderbolt. This not two bulls’ hides, nor the trusty corslet with double scales of gold could withstand. The giant limbs totter and fall; earth groans, and the huge shield thunders over him. So on Euboic shore of Baiae falls at times a rocky mass, which, builded first of mighty blocks, men cast into the sea; so as it falls, it trails havoc, and crashing into the waters finds rest in the depths; the seas are in turmoil and the black sands mount upwards; then at the sound lofty Prochyta trembles, and Inarime’s rugged bed, laid by Jove’s command above Typhoeus.”
[38. ]Act 1, sc. 3.
[39. ]Read “Publicola” for “Poplicola,” “curdied” for “curled.”
[40. ]Bucolics 7.37, 41; X.37 (Dryden translations):
[41. ]“Small is the bee and yet with its small sting makes the most grievous and troublesome wounds; but what thing is smaller than Love who lurks in the minutest things and hides himself in every little space? Now in the shade of an eyelid, now among the fine threads of golden locks, now within the dimples which a sweet smile forms in lovely cheek, and yet he makes so great, so mortal and incurable wounds.” (Aminta, trans. E. Grillo) Read “ricci” for “rivi.”
[44. ]Act 1, sc. 1.
[45. ]Act 3, sc. 2.
[46. ]“Defeated, bound with chains, consumed by regret, burned even more by fires that I myself lit. Alas. Was ever I as cruel as you?” (Act 1, sc. 4)
[47. ]“The Scythians are less cruel than Hermione.” (Act 2, sc. 2)
[48. ]Molière, Le bourgeois gentilhomme, Act 1.2.
[49. ]“Alas! Love has caught me, as the cat catches the mouse.”
[50. ]“though . . . lighter than the cork.”
[51. ]All’s Well That Ends Well. Act 4, sc. 3. Read as: “He professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking ’em he is stronger than Hercules.”
[52. ]Act 1, sc. 2.
[53. ]Act 3, sc. 4.