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It shows perfect confidence in the truth of what is uttered, for it implies that the speaker is willing to leave the decision to the auditor. It is the natural expression of the vivid realization of truth, and a profound confidence in the acceptance of it by the persons addressed.
3. The third figure of implied contrast is called Irony. This figure states in all solemnity the exact opposite of the truth intended to be conveyed. The following from Whittier's “ Hunters of Men” are good examples:
" And woman, kind woman, wife, widow, and maid, . For the good of the hunted, is lending her aid.”
“Oh, goodly and grand is our hunting to see,
In this land of the brave and this home of the free."
Irony, with its different forms of Burlesque, Ridicule, Derision, Mockery, Satire, and Sarcasm, is a most effective means of impressing truth, and hence, with the other figures of contrast, must be classed with the figures of Energy. These forms of contrast have been cutting weapons in every political and moral reform, as well illustrated in Whittier's "War Poems,” Lowell's “Biglow Papers,” Nasby's editorials, and Swift's “Gulliver's Travels.”
4. Wit and Humor are also based on contrasts of mental states. These arise from some new, unexpected, and pleasing turn of thought. They involve “an exaggeration, a reversal of ideas, a glimpse of the incongruous or the impossible.” Lincoln, on entering the room in which the proper length of a man's legs was being discussed, was unexpectedly called upon to decide the question. He said that he had given the matter very little consideration, but had always supposed that a man's legs should be long enough to reach from his body to the ground. In this he furnished us with a good example of wit through the incongruous and the impossible. At once there arises a picture of a man walking clear of the earth because his legs are so short that they will not reach it. The mind is pleasantly surprised by the fanciful result from such a cause.
Any playful contradiction, reversal, or exaggeration of the thought relations — any playful violation of the accustomed movement of thought — produces the feeling of the Ludicrous (ludere, to play) in its different forms of Wit and Humor.
There is no sharp distinction between Wit and Humor. Wit is a sudden flash out of the electric atmosphere called Humor Humor lingers, — produces a more gentle and prolonged stimulation; Wit suddenly overthrows the mental balance with a shock of pleasant surprise. Besides, Humor has a mingling of sympathy and good nature, — has heart in it; while Wit arises chiefly from intellectual surprises. But in whatever form appearing, they arise from contrasts of mental states produced by the imagination in playful exercise on the literal relations of thought.
Wit and Humor are effective means of impressing thought, and may be classed under the head of figurative energy. They are also productive of pleasure for its own sake and have an esthetic value. Irving, Addison, and Mark Twain are read for the Wit and Humor
contained. Yet Wit and Humor are appreciated most when in the service of some thought or lesson to be impressed. The speaker or the writer who proposes to be witty for the sake of the wit produces far less pleasure than he who, by means of Wit, clinches a truth or points a moral. Like Irony, Wit and Humor have been powerful weapons in the battles of truth and virtue; and should, therefore, be classed as means of securing Energy.
EXERCISE IN CLASSIFYING AND TESTING FIGURES.
In the following selections require the student (1) to point out the figures; (2) to state the kind as to nature, and explain its structure; (3) the kind as to effect over literal language :
1. “Style is the gossamer upon which seeds of truth float through the world.”
2. “ Youth is the morning of life.”
As to be hated needs but to be seen.” 7. “But when loud surges lash the shore,
The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar." 8. “ Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows." 9. “Up the high hill he heaved a huge round stone." 10. “ The bishop of Alexandria was not the first triumvir who came to an untimely end on the banks of the Nile."
11. “ I have not the warmest feeling of affection for that
12. “ And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."
13. “Who can number the stars or who can count the sands on the seashore ?” 14. “ Hail, hidden to the knees in fern,
Broad oak of Summer chace.” 15. “ A sunbeam flutter'd round her lip
Like a golden butterfly." 16. “ Who steals my purse, steals trash."
17. “Short lived, indeed, was Irish independence. I sat by her cradle; I followed her hearse."
18. “It is an outrage to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an atrocious crime; to put him to death is almost parricide; but to crucify him — what shall I call it?".
19. “I can tell him, sir, that Massachusetts and her people of all classes, hold him and his love, and his venerations, and his speech, and his principles, and his standards of truth in utter — what shall I say? — anything but respect."
20. “Can I call you citizens ? Citizens! who have trampled under foot the authority of the Senate ?”
21. “ I know the circumstances under which it happened — circumstances which could not be avoided.”
23. “ The pyramids, doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders.”
24. “ The Lord is my song. He is become my salvation." 25. “ The scepter shall not depart from Judah."
26. “ Caesar leaves Gaul, crosses the Rubicon, and enters Italy.”
27. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?".
28. “Though grave, yet trifling, zealous, yet untrue.”
And melancholy marked him for her own."
31. “Elijah said, cry aloud for he is a god."
32. “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.”
33. “Gray hairs should be respected."
34. “ He set up parliament by the stroke of his pen, and scattered them by the breath of his mouth.”
35. “ At length has come the marriage day of beauty and of strength." 36. “Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest ;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.” 37. “ The English gain two hours a day by clipping their words." 38. “Now Ben he loved a pretty maid,
Her name was Nelly Gray;
When he'd devoured his pay."
Young love likes to knock at a pretty girl's door." 40. “ His heart kept goin' pity-pat, - But her'n went pity Zekle.”
41. “Could we forget the widow'd hour,
And look on Spirits breathed away,
To take her latest leave of home,
“ Life is not of idle ore,
“ To shape and use. Arise and fly
The reeling Faun, the sensual feast ;