Figure of speech in which extreme and deliberate exaggeration is used for emphasis and effect.
On Page 43 in Austen's Northanger Abbey, Mr. Thorpe states: "Upon my soul, you might shake it to pieces yourself with a touch. It is the most devilish little ricketty business I ever beheld!"
Thorpe overemphasizes the fact that the carriage behind them would fall at a slight touch. He gives an impression of the carriage as a withering object...and at the same time, devaluing the carriage behind him uplifts his stature as a man who rides his well-built carriage. He is thoroughly trying to impress--or perhaps vainly trying to persuade--Charlotte in believing that he is a man of importance, wealth, stability, and power.