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DIRECTION. — Construct a framework of a theme on each of the following topics; write out each theme in full.

1. First Week at High School.
2. How we spent Independence Day.
3. Our Experience of Camping Out.
4. A Fishing Excursion.
5. The Crossing of the Red Sea.
6. Our Visit to a Printing Office.
7. How the Spring came on.
8. History of St. Paul.
9. The Story of a Shilling.
10. A Sail down the Mississippi.



Description. — The aim of the descriptive writer is to present to the mind by means of language such an idea of an object or scene as the reader would have conceived had he viewed it himself. Description is word-painting.

Kinds of Description. — Three kinds of Description may be noted: (1) of external objects, (2) of character, (3) of feelings and intellectual processes.

Principles. - In the description of external scenes or objects, the following rules will be found useful:

1. It is important to place at, or near, the beginning a comprehensive statement or general plan. This outline should be clear and simple. For example, Victor Hugo, in describing the battle of Waterloo, says, “ It was fought on a piece of ground resembling

a capital A. The English were at the apex, the French at the feet, and the battle was decided about the centre.”

a. The idea of the general plan may be furnished by indicating the form or by stating the size.

b. It may be shown by arranging the parts as radiating from a common centre, or as branching out from a main trunk.

2. A description should be made from a favorable point of view.

a. Sometimes the whole object or scene may be described from one standpoint, as the painter draws his picture.

b. Sometimes the scene may be presented in a succession of aspects, as it would appear to a person if he were moving along through it.

Example. — If one is to describe a town he may first take up his position at the central square, or at the head of the principal street. Thence, he pictures the direction of the main street or streets, and gives an outline of the whole. Next, he may locate the parks and chief public buildings. Having thus established a lucid outline, he may adopt the traveller's method, and, starting from the centre or from the main street, he may go along each street, describing its buildings in detail.

3. In describing a person, the form may first be outlined, then the features may be described, lastly the dress and ornaments. See the description of “Rebecca” on page 243.

4. In delineating character, some general or comprehensive statements may first be made. Then the various qualities of the character may be taken up separately; the moral, the intellectual, the social. In a public man his capacity for performing civic or national functions, as that of general or statesman, will form parts of the description.

5. Our feelings and intellectual operations are less easily described than objects of sense. The former may be described by likenesses, comparisons, analogies. “His wrath broke forth like flames from a furnace." “ Love though deep as the sea, shall fade away like autumn leaves."

They may also be suggested by their

visible manifestations. Anger may be indicated by “the curling lip” and “the frowning brow," by violence of language, or by rashness of action.

6. The details must be systematically grouped. In describing external objects, they may be arranged one after another as they appear in nature, or they may be grouped about some central point. In delineating character, in sketching mental operations, or in the expression of feeling, they must be placed according to importance or effect.

In filling in the details, the writer should attempt to form a clear conception of each part, and then to select the most striking or interesting features. It is a mistake to try to tell everything.

7. Description is made more striking and realistic by being individualized, that is, given at a particular time and under the circumstances of stated moment. If not so made, it is as sure to be confused as the photograph of a moving object taken by the old process. For example, a description of Spring might be taken in the morning, when the sun is well up, when the birds are singing, and when all nature has on its richest garb.

8. A still further gain is made by introducing such associated circumstances as make the picture complete without overcrowding it. See page 237.

This gain is still greater when the associated ideas consist in attributing human feelings to natural objects. We are more interested in anything that is supposed to be of “like passions with ourselves,” than in objects that appear totally unlike us.

9. Much of the so-called exposition in the Sciences might more correctly be classed as description. Its special feature is that it makes us acquainted with an object by analyzing it, by describing each part minutely, by showing us the connection of the parts, and the result of their union. For example, Botany describes a flower by taking it to pieces, and showing us the delicate formation of each part, its connection with others, and its place and function in the complete flower.

10. Poetry adopts a method of description different from that

pursued in prose. As its object is not to convey exact information, but to please, scenes and objects are not described with mathematical precision, but are presented by a few bold strokes, pictorial epithets, or fertile suggestions. For example, Longfellow, in describing the situation of the "little village," puts the landscape before the reader by a picturesque presentation of a few prominent features : "vast meadows," "flocks without number," “ dikes raised with labor incessant," and so on. When he is telling the numbers that came at the command of the English general, he suggests it by such strokes as Every house was an inn."

11. Under the head of Picturesqueness will be found several suggestions that indicate how description may be made clear, striking, and complete.

Style. — As description forms a large part of all composition, and embraces so great a diversity of subjects, it admits of almost every variety of language and style, and allows the widest scope for ornament and beauty. If the object treated is humble, the language may be familiar; if it is grand, the language may be elevated; if it is characterized by great beauty, then the language may assume its richest garb. The style must be adapted to the nature of the object described.

Framework. — Though the framework may consist of three distinct parts, yet the discussion will vary according to the nature of the subject. It should be clearly and systematically arranged before writing is begun.

Theme : The Thermometer.


1. All substances produce the sensation of heat or cold.
2. Heat and cold vary water.
3. Our sense of feeling does not give true or accurate in-

formation about temperature.
4. Hence the need of an exact measure; this furnished

by the thermometer


1. Invention.
a. The expanding and shrinking of bodies had long

been noticed.
b. This suggested the thermometer.
2. Construction.

a. A hollow tube with bulb.
b. The bulb is filled with mercury.

A vacuum is left above.
d. How the measuring is done.

(a) The tube is fixed in a marked plate.

(6) The degrees are counted upwards. e. How the scale is made. (a) The tube is immersed in melting ice for

the freezing-point. (6) Plunged in steam for the boiling-point. (c) The intervening space divided into equal

spaces. III. CONCLUSION: Its uses.

a. To compare the heat of different climates.
b. In the arts.


DESCRIPTION. DIRECTION. — Construct the framework of a theme on each of the following topics, and then write out each theme in full. 1. Your School-house.

9. The Alhambra. 2. A Snow-storm.

10. An Evening Sunset. 3.

The Thousand Islands. 11. The Microscope. 4. The Falls of Niagara. 12. A Wedding. 5. A Modern Newspaper. 13. A Country Fair. 6. A Railway.

14. A Game of Cricket. 7. Your own Town.

15. A Steamship. 8. Your own State.

16. A Canary-Bird.

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