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(4) The writer may next strengthen his arguments by giving an instance from history which bears upon the point under discussion. Thus, Columbus affords an example of perseverance, and his life is an instance of perseverance surmounting difficulties; Joan of Arc is an example of patriotism, and of the inspiriting effect of strong belief in Divine guidance; Cardinal Wolsey shows the fleeting nature of earthly greatness; and Alexander the Great is the best argument as to the truth of Solomon's statement, “All is vanity. The example chosen must be well known, and the circumstances must illustrate clearly what is intended.
(5) A pithy and fitting quotation from some great writer may bring the argument to a conclusion.
(6) The whole must then be briefly recapitulated, so that the arguments are placed before the reader's mind in a concise form.
We will take for an example an Essay on wealth ; the outline would be as follows:
What it is. Beset with dangers to the possessor ; apt to lead the possessor to dwell too much on this life,and to remove him from his fellow-men ; surrounds him with responsibilities, false, friends. Opinion of people in general that wealth is good; of deep thinkers that great wealth is dangerous; is seen side by side with great poverty in cities; the Sage's wish was for neither poverty nor riches. Effect of great wealth; luxury, effeminacy, degradation, -as seen in case of Romans, Greeks. Great wealth prevented among Jews by divine command that lands purchased were to be returned to original owners at year of jubilee. Solomon bears testimony to unsatisfying nature of wealth. See our Lord's words, • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,' etc,
DESCRIPTIVE WRITING, ETC.
DESCRIPTION is the representation of things to the mind by means of words. It may represent persons, places, character, feelings, and thoughts; doing in words what the artist achieves by means of correct outlines and the skilful use of light, shade, and colour.
By description, the reader has brought before his mind's eye the most distant parts of the globe, with the appearance, manners, and characteristics of the nations who inhabit them; the ideas he forms depending, as to correctness, upon the truthfulness of the word-picture and the activity of his own imagination.
In description, the general plan should be given before any detail is attempted, as the artist sketches his outlines or a mapdrawer gets the broad plan of the country he wishes to represent.
If a country is to be described, its general contour should first be stated, together with its extent, the direction in which it extends, and its boundaries. These somewhat dry details may be made lighter and more vivid by comparisons. The broad physical features should then be shown ;-the surface as it would appear to any one looking down as from a balloon; the ranges and groups of mountains; the watershed. Here should be noticed any peculiarity of surface; as, for instance, the tablelands of Asia, the terraces of South Africa, or the treeless plains of North America. Next should come a general description of the habitations and occupations of the people; the grouping of the towns, along the river-mouths for commerce and shipbuilding, in the interior for manufactures or the working of metals. The mention of some striking characteristic would give vividness and aid in the realization,-such as the clang of the shipwright's hammer, and the hurry and throng of the merchandise-laden wharves, the lurid furnaces, the forests of tall chimneys, and the smoke-laden atmosphere. Details may then be filled in, the description giving the regular succession of views which would be presented to a person travelling from one end of the country to the other in a given direction, or the succession of aspects brought about by various seasons or circumstances.
Goldsmith's Deserted Village is a good example of the description of a place under the different circumstances of prosperity and adversity. Thomson's Seasons affords one of the finest
descriptions of nature as seen under the varying seasons of this country.
The general description of a town would embrace its situation, -whether inland or on the coast, on a lake or on a river; its extent, and the direction of it; the general appearance of the buildings, whether factories or only dwellings; the direction of the streets, and their character, whether tame or picturesque, whether busy or quiet; if busy, the nature of the business; the public buildings and their architecture; the general character of the people.
Edinburgh and Chester would afford good scope for this class of description. The stately appearance of Edinburgh, the Castle towering upward from its grey crags, the rocky steeps sloping to the lower levels, the background of hills, the quaint streets of the Old Town, the handsome public buildings of the New, with the Acropolis presiding, and beyond all the glittering Forth, present material for a vivid picture. The old walls, gabled houses, and quaint galleries of Chester, afford also peculiar features for description.
In describing buildings, the situation, the impression of beauty or the reverse, of heaviness or lightness, of length, breadth, and general form, the material and style of architecture, would give the general idea. This may be filled in with detail ; such as kind and number of windows, style of doorways, entrance and plan of interior.
The description of a piece of machinery should first give the purpose, then the principle, and next the means by which the principle is worked out, which involves a description of the material of which the machine is made, and of the parts. A machine, if complex, should be described, if possible, by comparison with that which is well known.
Indeed, simile is one of the chief aids to description. The traveller who, after a long absence from England, described the Crystal Palace as looking like a huge black caterpillar on the horizon of London, gave an exact and vivid impression of the general appearance of that building seen from a distance and under a gloomy sky.
Descriptions of persons should follow the same plan. The general must precede the detail; that which first strikes the mind at sight should first be presented in the description. Thus that a person is of middle height and square built, or tall and slender, or short and thick-set, with regular features or aquiline, a fair florid, or dark complexion, self-possessed or nervous and ill at ease, his voice harsh or musical, dress neat or careless, these are the points which are first noticed in a stranger, and which should be first placed before the mind of a hearer or reader.
CHARACTER is delineated only after close observation of the life and actions of the individual under consideration. The character of historical personages is gleaned from those acts which have been handed down by history, and from the accounts of contemporaries, who had personal intercourse with them. The character of living individuals is drawn from life; the delineator judges from little details of behaviour, from the minor events of every-day life, and from personal peculiarities, which are lost sight of in the historical subject.
The works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and George Eliot, afford some of the best examples of character delineation. We know the persons described by their word-pictures as if we had them before us.
Feelings, emotions, and passions are described, first, according to the generally accepted notion we have regarding them ; second, according to the impression they make upon those who behold them. Thus, some feelings are invariably acknowledged to tend to good; sympathy, peace, love, charity, pity are of this class. Others, as hatred, jealousy, obstinacy, tend to evil. Both classes are described according to their tendencies. We speak of warm love, love that cherisheth, sweet pity, green-eyed jealousy ; and we can best describe any one of them by showing its effect on those who possess it, and on those upon whom it is brought to bear. Collins' Ode on the Passions affords good examples of this kind of description, thus :
• First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords, bewildered laid ;
Even at the sound himself had made.
In lightnings owned his secret strings,
And swept with hurried hand the strings.'
A description of mercy is thus given by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice :
• The quality of mercy is not strained ;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.' *The description of the Miser Scrooge in Dickens' Christmas Carol is a vivid picture of character :
Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel ever struck out generous fire; secret and self-contained, and solitary, as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. ... External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather could chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.
Narrative is the history of an event, or of a succession of events. The account of a single event is a story; a short story is an anecdote; the account of a succession of events is history or biography.
In narrative, as in description, the broad outlines should first be sketched, and the detail afterwards filled in according to the space at command, otherwise the narrative is fragmentary. Macaulay's History of England is of this character. It is not, strictly speaking, a history of England, but a series of events narrated in minute detail. It is but a fragment of the history of this country, most wonderfully executed.
The chief rules in narrative are to give the events in chronological order, and in logical sequence. Thus, in biography it is necessary to state the events connected with the youth of the individual before going on to those of his mature life ; for the latter may be the effect of the former, and unless the order is retained, the story is confusing to the mind.
Circumstances bearing on the physical or social life must also be noticed, for these generally have an important bearing on the life. Thus Sir Isaac Newton's delicacy of constitution accounts for his love of philosophic contemplation. Sir Walter Scott's confinement for some time in one position when a boy, on