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cred Termeneutics Developed and Applied, &c. By Samuel Davidson, LL.D.
Dr. Blair observes : “The only material difference between metaphor or figure and allegory, (besides the one being short and the other long,) is, that a metaphor always explains itself by the words that are connected with it in their proper and natural meaning."
Mr. Webster, in his Dictionary, gives a very clear and correct definition of allegory, thus : “A figurative sentence or discourse in which the principal subject is described by another resembling it in its properties and circumstances. The principal subject is thus kept out of view, and we are left to collect the intentions of the writer, or speaker, by the resemblance of the secondary to the primary subject. Allegory is in words what hieroglyphics are in painting.”
Carson, A. M. Dublin, 1826. 12mo, pp. 51, 52. This acute writer has expounded the nature of an allegory much more correctly than Lord Kames, Dr. Blair, or Dr. Campbell.
ALLEGORIC OR SYMBOLIC LANGUAGE IS ENIGMATICAL.
It has been stated above, that towards the comprehension of an ideographic sign there is a complex operation of the mind necessary. Every such sign, be it allegory or figure, has for its basis two ideas or two representations, which must be compared together ere the true value of the sign be ascertained. The allegory, it has been shown, concerns itself with the first of these, leaving the mind to make out for itself the second; the figure or metaphor, on the other hand, combines both ideas, expresses them both, and mingles both representations.
It is at this point that symbolic and figurative language diverge from each other, and diverge very widely. Figurative language makes a hasty incursion on the ideographic ground, and having plucked a flower there, it speedily returns to the beaten track of literal language, from whence to make another incursion at a subsequent time, and at a different point. Allegorical or symbolic language, having once left the literal track, pursues its independent path on the ideographic domain, settles upon it, turns agricul. turist, takes in fields, cultivates them and sows seed,
which after inany days ripens and yields a harvest, which the understanding must reap with its sharp sickle. In a word, it abides on the ideographic ground and never leaves it. It results from this difference, that all allegorical and symbolic writing requires interpretation ; it must be translated from its ideographic into literal language; the something else which its pictorial representation adumbrates must be discovered—in a word, the second picture must be painted by the mind itself, for it is not painted in the allegory. With figurative or metaphoric language this is not necessary, it being the distinctive characteristic of this species of composition that it explains itself; if any portion of enigma adheres to it, it is to this extent faulty ; it professes to deliver to the mind the second or explanatory representation ; if it fails to do this, it is to that extent defective. It is the excellence of a figure to be clear.
On the other hand, it may be said that it is the beauty of an allegory to be dark. It may justly take to itself the words of Solomon's bride, and say, "I am black but comely." It is essentially a cryptogrammic writing. It presents to the mind only the first representation. Of necessity, it contains an enigma; the question must arise, What does this signify? what is the second and ultimate representation in which the real sense lies? When Christ said, “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber," John X. 1, he spoke allegorically and also enigmatically. He presented to the mind a pic
ture of a sheepfold with a door to it, and thieves and robbers climbing up some other way. By this allegorical representation he designed to convey a second representation. What was it? The Pharisees were unable to discover it, and Christ laid it bare before their minds, showing them that the sheepfold represents the kingdom of God, that he is the only way of entrance into it, and that all that attempt to pass into it, except through him, are thieves and robbers. He thus delivered an allegory and an enigma, for the solution of which they were incompetent, and which he solved for them.
It is the discovery of the second representation, which contains the real meaning, that invests an allegory with all its value. We have been hitherto pressing the importance of the first picture.
We have done this for the reason, that the allegory consists in the presentation of it, and that in this restriction to the first picture lies the difference between allegory and figure. The allegory is, however, valueless without the second representation also. This contains the idea or ideas to be communicated. The first is the mere vehicle, which, till the living agent of the second sense is yoked to it, is motionless and useless. It is, to use another image, the external casket which must be broken or penetrated to obtain the jewel of the second sense within.
Now the first picture may be a mere creature of the imagination, or it may be a copy of historical facts. It is of no essential moment which of these it is; as used by the allegory, it is not designed to ex
press any reality. It is a mere phantasm ; it is a picture painted only to develop a second in which the real sense lies. The discovery and development of this second picture is always more or less a difficulty and enigma. It is, however, a necessity. The allegory is without value until it is discovered and fully developed.
An allegory may be regarded as more or less enigmatical, according to the proportions in which the three following elements prevail in it:
1st. The inaptitude of the first to suggest the second representation.
2d. The complexity of the allegory if its plan be unknown.
3d. The allegoric element being in excess.
It is in the first of these elements that the strength of the enigma lies. If there be nothing at all in the first representation to suggest the second, the allegory may remain forever an unsolved enigma, the second sense of which is known alone to its constructor. Until the second picture arises to view, it is plainly impossible to institute that comparison between it and the first, by which alone the one is known to be a representation of the other, and in virtue of the correspondence between which we discover the truth and meaning of the allegory. When Christ said to the Jews, “ destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again,” there was nothing in these words to suggest to their minds the second picture, his crucifixion, his remaining in the state of the dead for three days and his resurrection thereafter. The