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which the selection produces on the reader. This is the reverse of construction, for in this the attributes and parts selected must first be observed in order to infer the purpose. This step having been taken, we are ready to organize the description under the purpose and principle of unity discovered, which may be shown as follows :I. Purpose. — To touch the emotions for their own sake, spe
cifically, pleasure in contemplating physical comfort and
security. II. Unity. — The scene in its attributes and parts must be so
presented as to stimulate this particular emotion. III. The Scene as the author presents it.
Purpose of Scene. — Physical security and comfort, given
by the author in the word “stronghold,” as if a defence against an enemy. This word is the key-note to the
selection. 1. Attributes of the whole, adapting to the purpose. a. Spatial relations. (1) Position —on bank of the Hudson. (Rela
tion to purpose and unity ?) (2) Form — a recess, “a nook," a nest-like
place. (Relation to purpose and unity ?) (3) Size — small. (Relation to purpose and
unity ?) 6. Qualities.
(1) Sheltered. (Relation to purpose and unity ?) (2) Fertile. (Relation to purpose and unity ?)
(3) Green. (Relation to purpose and unity ?) 2. Parts with their attributes which adapt to the purpose. a. The broad branching elm making shade ; spring of
softest and sweetest water; sparkling rivulet; bubbling brook. Each object with its attribute suggesting comfort and pleasure.
6. The barnyard — the barn, large and bursting with
treasures ; constant sound of fail ; lively swallows and martins, and pigeons enjoying sunshine; unwieldy porkers; troops of pigs; squadrons of snowy geese; fleets of ducks; regiments of turkeys; guinea fowls ; chickens. An abundance of objects with
attributes contributing to comforts of life. 6. The house — spacious ; piazza closed in bad weather,
under which flails, harness, utensils of husbandry, spinning-wheel and churn, and benches for summer use; the hall with resplendent pewter, huge bag of wool, quantity of linsey-woolsey, ears of corn, festoons of apples, peaches, and peppers ; the parlor with claw-footed chairs, mahogany tables ; irons, shovels and tongs, glistening through asparagus tops ; mock oranges and conch shells ; strings of bird's eggs, a great ostrich egg ; an open cupboard displaying immense treasures of silver and china — taste added to comfort – refined abundance.
Purpose and unity are here well carried out, since, —
1. Those attributes of the whole, and those parts, with such attributes of each part as cause a solid sense of comfort in living, are always chosen, thus obeying the law of selection.
2. Enough of such attributes and parts are given to produce a highly wrought feeling of the kind sought, thus obeying the law of completeness.
3. The elements are presented in the order of effectiveness ; and also, in the natural order of observation. (1) The general background of the whole, producing a vague sense of comfort; and, also, that upon which the eye viewing the scene would first rest ; (2) the spring
and the tree being less essential to physical comfort than what follows, but prominent to the eye encompassing the scene ; (3) the barnyard, the raw material of comfort in abundance ; (4) the house in which comfort is realized, and also neatness and good taste are manifested. Thus the law of method is followed.
Exercises. — Skill in description comes from much and varied practice under the laws above set forth. And thus too will come a fuller realization of the theory for its own sake. In the following exercises, whether of construction or interpretation, let always the exact effect to be produced, and the conditions under which it is to be produced, be first stated. This must be followed by a statement of the unifying principle, after which the secondary laws are to be systematically applied. Let it be noted in each case also that while the law of completeness must be obeyed, a description consistent with the purpose must be as brief as possible.
I. Analyze the following brief descriptions:
little man;".shirted, odd, middle-aged
1. “A mild, meek, calm, little man.”
2. “A rough-looking, sunburnt, soiled-shirted, odd, middle-aged little man.”
3. “A mosquito — a horrid, pungent, satanic little particle."
4. “Randall — round-shouldered, bulky, ill-hung devil, with a pale, sallow skin, black beard, and a sort of grin upon his face.”
5. “The blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay, light blue coat and white underclothes, screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove."
6. “It was a fine autumnal day, the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always
associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the grove of beech and hickory trees, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble. fields.”
7. “He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.”
8. “ Brussels, a city, capital of Belgium, on the river Senne, 27 miles S. of Antwerp; pop. (with suburbs) 391,000, or about two thirds as large as Brooklyn, N. Y. It is the most important city of Belgium, and one of the finest in Europe. It was once surrounded by walls, but they have been made into broad boulevards, lined with double rows of shade trees. Brussels is noted for splendid public buildings, palaces, and churches, and its libraries, museums, galleries, botanical gardens, and observatory. It is also famous for the manufacture of Brussels lace, and for fine linens, damasks, jewelry, porcelain, and glass.” 9. “Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
II. Select and analyze other examples which flash quickly but vividly beautiful or picturesque objects on the mind. In the daily reading mark descriptions of exceptional merit.
III. Practice, orally and in writing, impressing vividly but quickly, pictures of objects, having fixed in mind the purpose and the conditions. Analyze the examples thus made.
IV. Present the following by merely analyzing each into its parts, having first decided on the purpose and the basis of division.
1. A heart. 2. A door. 3. A watch. 4. A thermometer. 5. An apple. 6. A house. 7. A ship. 8. A steam-engine. 9. A human body. 10. A bird. 11. Greece. 12. South America. 13. A landscape. 14. A school. 15. A literary society. 16. A legislature. 17. Select and present many objects quickly, as they appear at once to the eye.
V. Present the following by comparison and contrast, assuming sometimes one of the pairs to be known and used as a means of presenting the other which is the theme, and sometimes assume both to be equally well known. Sometimes also present all the likenesses first, and then the differences, and sometimes present likenesses and differences alternately.
1. An orange and an apple. 2. The Mississippi and the Amazon rivers. 3. Chicago and New York. 4. The earth and Jupiter. 5. South America and Africa. 6. Demosthenes and Cicero. 7. Washington and Lincoln. 8. Grant and Napoleon. 9. The government of England and that of the United States. 10. The civilization of ancient Greece and that of the United States at present.