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to be so presented that the interpreter will readily and correctly organize it into the unity it was before broken in the process of presentation.
The first step in description is that of presenting the theme as a whole by means of its attributes.
The theme as a whole is presented by means of its attributes, and this process may be called attributive description. Any means by which this object is known not to be that is an attribute. Since attributes do not mutually exclude each other as do parts, they always distinguish objects as wholes. The odor, flavor, weight, and form of the orange are interfused throughout, and occupy the same space ; while the peel, pulp, and seeds must occupy different spaces.
An object is first distinguished from other objects by its relations to them; and the first step in this phase of description is to present the theme
By Attributes of Relation. — This method presents the object under the relation of Purpose and Means, Cause and Effect, Time and Place, and Likeness and Difference.
The use of each of these attributes involves some object other than the one under consideration. To think of the purpose of an object or of the object as means carries the thought directly to something beyond the immediate object of thought. To think of the cause or the effect of anything involves more than the single thing. A second object is required to locate anything in space or time; and likeness or difference is clearly inconceivable without two objects.
1. Purpose is the highest distinguishing mark of an object ; and to state the purpose to which an object is means is to make the most comprehensive description of it possible by the use of a single term. Purpose calls the object into being, and unifies its other attributes and its parts. These are what they are because of the object's purpose, or end which it fills. Therefore purpose is the most fundamental truth, the most pervasive fact, that can be given in the description of an object. All thought would be thwarted without the ideas of design and adaptation. One cannot speak intelligently about a book, a bridge, a plant, an animal, or the earth, without employing in some form these conceptions. The whole question before us in this discussion of discourse is that of its construction or of its interpretation under the law of adaptation and design. In any field of labor man has only to design and adapt. All things are organized under ends sought ; and there is always assumed a supreme end which organizes all, —
"one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.” And again :
“ I see in part That all as in some piece of art,
Is toil coöperant to an end." We should expect, therefore, the relation of purpose and means to permeate and control every description ; and yet one not accustomed to note the fact will be surprised at the frequency and variety of terms used in a description to express this relation. They are not confined to those of direct expression, such as purpose, adaptation, aim, object, design, intent, motive, destination, in order to, the “be all and the end all,” and the like ; but are found lurking in disguises of many forms, as in this :
“And what is so rare as a day in June ?
Then, if ever, come perfect days ;
And over it softly her warm ear lays."
The three expressions, “rare," "perfect,” and “in tune,” express the adaptation of the day to its lifegiving purpose. A day is perfect in proportion as it nourishes life, for that is its purpose. To say that a day is rare is to say that it is exceptionally well fitted to the end of life. The earth is in tune when it can produce the song of life. ' Lowell's whole description of the day in June brings out in varied ways this one idea. And when he describes the mountain by saying, —
“With our faint heart the mountain strives,”
he expresses, in the word “strives,” the fact that the mountain seeks to influence our lives for the better. Note the same relation expressed in the following lines from the Spanish by Longfellow, describing the brook :
“ Laugh of the mountain ! lyre of bird and tree !
Pomp of the meadow ! mirror of the morn! ”
This relation has two forms, -- one in which the object is considered in adaptation to an end ; and the other in which the object itself is conceived as the purposer. This latter phase is known as description by personification. Note its use in the following exquisite bit from Lowell's description of the brook, in The Vision of Sir Launfal”:
“ Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
From the snow five thousand summers old ;
In the description of the June day, occurring in the same poem as the foregoing, the author presents it as being adapted to a purpose ; but the wind and the brook are presented as purposing.
2. After an object has been purposed a cause must operate to produce it; and when produced it acts and reacts on other objects, manifesting itself in effects. The relation of cause and effect produces changes in objects, and is more prominently employed
giving a full conception of the Andes Mountains it is necessary to state the force that upheaved them, and their effects on climate, vegetable and animal life, and on the industries of man.
The relation of cause and effect is the leading means of presenting a mental state. To bring a particular mental state fully into consciousness, it is necessary to present the conditions which produced the state ; and these may be further strengthened by giving the conduct of the person under the influence of the state. To describe a state of fear is to present some object that produced the state ; as a tornado whirling aloft the ruined houses of a city, with the effect of the fear in the wild gesticulations and screams of the fleeing inhabitants. Longfellow, in describing his sadness in “ The Day is Done,” gives the cause of his condition in the falling darkness and the light gleaming through the rain and the mist, and also the effect in the fact that he is driven to seek relief.
Under the same relation a person's physical appearance may be described to suggest his spiritual attributes, since the latter, to a certain extent, are causes to the former as effects. Chaucer, in the Prologue to the “Canterbury Tales,” introduces the spiritual qualities of each character by means of his physical attributes. And thus Irving, in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," brings out the spiritual Ichabod Crane by means of the physical Ichabod.
Physical objects are frequently presented, and in some of their phases can be presented only, by giving their effects on the observer. To speak of an object as awful, terrible, stupendous, sublime, picturesque,