The days are perhaps past when a figure was deliberately chosen that could be worked out with line upon line of relentless detail, and the following well-known specimen is from Richardson: Tost to and fro by the high winds of passionate control, I behold the desired port, the single state, into which I would fain steer; but am kept off by the foaming billows of a brother’s and sister’s envy, and by the raging winds of a supposed invaded authority; while I see in Lovelace, the rocks on one hand, and in Solmes, the sands on the other; and tremble, lest I should split upon the former or strike upon the latter.
The present fashion is rather to develop a m only by way of burlesque. All that need be asked of those who tend to this form of satire is to remember that, while some
metaphors do seem to deserve such treatment, the number of times that the same joke can safely be made, even with variations, is limited. The limit has surely been exceeded,
for instance, with ‘the long arm of coincidence’; what proportion may this triplet of quotations bear to the number of times the thing has been done?--The long arm of
coincidence throws the Slifers into Mercedes’s Cornish garden a little too heavily. / The author does not strain the muscles of coincidence’s arm to bring them into relation. / Then the long arm of coincidence rolled up its sleeves and set to work with a rapidity and vigour which defy description.
Modern overdoing, apart from burlesque, is chiefly accidental, and results not from too much care, but from too little: The most irreconcilable of Irish landlords are beginning to recognize that we are on the eve of the dawn of a new day in Ireland. On the eve of is a dead metaphor. for about to experience, and to
complete it with the dawn of a day is as bad as to say It cost one pound sterling, ten, for one pound ten.
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage