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THIRD DEGREE OF PERSONIFICATION. 153
tions must be executed with great skill, or they weary without instructing. Properly wrought, they relieve didactic writing.
71. The Third Degree of Personification.—The third degree of Personification is seen when an object is addressed as if alive, and listening to the speaker.
When the mind is sufficiently aroused, this boldest kind of Personification is pre-eminently forcible and beautiful. Thus Edward Everett, at the conclusion of an essay on comets, having awakened a great interest in the subject, and described glowingly the beauties and sublimity of the starry heavens, suddenly makes the following address to one then visible:
* Return, thou mysterious traveller, to the depths of the heavens, never again to be seen by the eyes of men now living! Thou hast run thy race with glory; millions of eyes have gazed upon thee with wonder; but they shall never look upon thee again. Since thy last appearance in these lower skies, empires, languages, and races of men have passed away. *** Haply when, wheeling up again from the celestial abysses, thou art once more seen by the dwellers on earth, the languages we speak shall also be forgotten, and science shall have fled to the uttermost corners of the earth. But even there His hand, that now marks out thy wondrous circuit, shall still guide thy course, and then as now Hesper will smile at thy approach, and Arcturus, with his sons, rejoice at thy coming."
The student will observe that the passages italicized in the above indicate also Personifications of the second degree.
72. When may this Degree be employed?-Personification of this kind need not be confined to the sublimest subjects or to oratorical writing. It is only needful that the circumstances should render it appropriate. When Robinson Crusoe is represented as ship
wrecked and cast on the desolate island, and as finding some money, the narrative thus proceeds:
"I smiled to myself at the sight of this money. 'Oh, drug!' I exclaimed, 'what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me, no, not the taking off the ground; one of these knives is worth all this heap; I have no manner of use for thee; e'en remain where thou art, and go to the bottom, as a creature not worth saving.""
This is natural and impressive.
73. How much Used.-It would be easy to fill this volume with beautiful specimens of Personification. Especially does it abound in poetry. It is also often found in oratory. Yet many eminent orators never use what we call Personification of the third degree, and you may read hundreds of volumes in prose without a single example. Many elegant speakers have never employed it once.
How sublime is Milton's oft-quoted address to Light!
"Hail! holy Light, offspring of Heaven, first-born,
May I express thee unblamed—since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt thou in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate ?"
Not less sublime is Byron's address to the Ocean, beginning thus:
"Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown."
RULES ON PERSONIFICATION.
Oftentimes thus by personification much thought and instruction can be conveyed, under the guise of referring to the qualities and circumstances of the object, addressed. Thus Shakspeare says to Sleep:
"Oh, thou dull god! Why liest thou with the vile,
This figure is often used in Wit and Burlesque.
(1.) Personification of the higher degrees should be used sparingly, or the style will appear too artistic to please the taste.
(2.) The occasion should always justify its use. (3.) Let it not be dwelt upon too long, and the idea of personality be carried out so far as to weary or displease the hearer.
75. Prosopopaia.-Personification is sometimes termed Prosopopoeia, but, strictly speaking, Prosopopœia is more general, and includes all kinds of speaking in which the speaker represents for the time either a personified thing or a person absent or deceased. It therefore includes both Personification and Apostrophe, which is more fully explained in the next chap
76. Definition, and Examples.-A sudden turning away from the current of thought to address another person or party, or an absent or deceased person as though present and alive, is called Apostrophe.
This figure of speech is often combined or associated with Personification. It exhibits intense feeling, and, if the occasion justifies it, is impressive and efficient.
The following, from a prize essay on Education by Dr. Hamilton, is a specimen of an impressive style, and contains an Apostrophe:
"The nature of man is the shoal on which all infidel philosophy, and, if it can be, all infidel benevolence, are wrecked. These can not explain him. They mark contrasts in him which they can not reconcile. The great and the little, the strong and the weak, the divine and the infernal, they can not adjust. His origin they can not deduce. His recovery they can not meditate. They may explore all secrets, and master all difficulties but this. Christianity alone makes it plain. Man is great, but fallen; is strong, but sinning; is divine, but debased: therefore is he spiritually little, weak, infernal. It brings him back to spiritual greatness, strength, and divinity. It shows him all that he was, is, and shall be. It explains the intermediate stages and processes. It accounts for all. Man! taught by this religion, I can abhor thee, dread thee, reverence thee, bemoan thee, shun thee, flee thee! But oh, fearful, mysterious being, 1 can not slight thee!"*
*The Institutions of Popular Education. An Essay to which the Manchester Prize was adjudged. By the Rev. Richard Winter Hamilton, D.D., LL.D. (London, 1845), p. 34.
INSTANCES OF APOSTROPHE.
All can see that turning from the descriptive current of thought to address man, adds great energy to the passage.
The following characteristic quotation from Carlyle's Essay on Sir Walter Scott exhibits the same figure:
"To omit mere prurient susceptivities that rest on vacuum, look at poor Byron, who really had much substance in him. Sitting there in his self-exile, with a proud heart striving to persuade itself that it despises the entire created universe; and far off, in foggy Babylon, let any pitifullest whipster draw pen on him, your proud Byron writhes in torture, as if the pitiful whipster were a magician, or his pen a galvanic wire struck into Byron's spinal marrow! Lamentable, despicable, one had rather be a kitten and cry mew! Oh, son of Adam, great or little, according as thou art lovable, those thou livest with will love thee!"
This is a figure frequently employed by Carlyle in his disjointed, jerking style. Take another specimen from the same essay:
"The most famed man, round whom all the world rapturously huzzahs and venerates, as if his like were not, is the same man whom all the world was wont to jostle into the kennels; not a changed man, but in every fibre of him the same man. Foolish world! what went ye out to see? A tankard scoured bright! And do there not lie, of the self-same pewter, whole barrowfuls of tankards, though by worse fortune all in the same state?"
The frequency with which this figure is employed in impassioned oratory will justify the presentation of other illustrations of it. Edward Everett, in a eulogy pronounced on La Fayette, introduces the following apostrophes :
"You have now assembled within these sacred walls to perform the last duties of respect and love, on the birthday of your benefactor, beneath that roof which has resounded of old with the master voices of American renown. Listen, Americans, to the lessons which