the third person should be used instead of the sec-
ond, as here, unless one is describing in dialogue.
(See Â§ 148.)
212 Composition and Rhetoric
B. Example for Analysis.
Rosalind: A lean cheek, which you have not, a blue
eye and sunken, which you have not, an unquestionable
spirit, which you have not, a beard neglected, which
you have not; but I pardon you for that, for simply
your having in beard is a younger brother's revenue :
then your hose should be ungartered, your bonnet
unhanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied
and everything about you demonstrating a careless
desolation ; but you are no such man ; you are rather
point-device in your accoutrements as loving yourself
than seeming the lover of any other.
â William Shakspere, As You Like It, Act III., Sc. 2.
Suggestions.â In this description, what details are mentioned
obversely? Are any details given directly? What description-
motive is used in this example ? What is the fundamental quality
Minor devices used. Find examples of the repeti-
tion of words and constructions. (See Chapter X.)
Write a paragraph describing the appearance or
character of a person or animal. Use obverse de-
scription as a fundamental device.
142. Fundamental Device X. â Use of Audi-
ble Thought. By audible thought is meant inward
questioning or debating. It is especially eflFective
in describing what is mysterious or perplexing.
Audible thought as a descriptive device must not
be confused with the description-motive we have
already considered in section 119. How do they
Nothing could be more perplexing or enigmatical
than the sumptuous beauties of the cavern. Enchant-
ment reigned over all. .... Was it daylight which
Ornamentation in Description 213
entered by this casement beneath the sea? Was it
indeed water which trembled in this dusky pool ? Were
not those arched roofs and porches fashioned out of sun-
set clouds to imitate a cavern to men's eyes? What
stone was that beneath the feet?. Was not this solid
shaft about to melt and pass into thin air ? What was
that cunning jewelry of glittering shells, half seen
beneath the wave ? How far away were life, and the
green earth, and human faces ? What strange enchant-
ment haunted that mystic twilight ? What blind emotion,
mingling its sympathies with the uneasy restlessness
of plants beneath the wave ?
â Victor Hugo, Toilers of the Sea.
Suggestions. â What description-motive is this? What is the
fundamental quality? Where does audible thought appear in the
form of question ?
B, Example for Analysis.
Alas ! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears !
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun
Like restless gossameres ? .
Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate ?
And is that Woman all her crew ?
Is that a Death ? and are there two ?
Is Death that woman's mate ?
â Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner.
Suggestions. â ^What description-motive is used in this example?
What details are mentioned in the form of audible thought ? Wnat
is the fundamental quality ? Is audible thought here given in the
form of questions and exclamations? Is the object described mys-
Minor devices used. Find examples of the simile ;
Write a paragraph describing the character of a
person or animal. Use audible thought.
214 Composition and Rhetoric
143. Fundamental Device XL â A General
Reflection to Introduce Description. A gen-
eral reflection, as we have already learned, is a state-
ment of a general truth. The following paragraph,
which is used as a model, consists of two parts â the
general statement at the beginning and the appli-
cation of it at the end to the particular person or
It is a great revolution in social and domestic life,
and no less so in the life of a secluded student, this
almost universal exchange of the open fireplace for
the cheerless and ungenial stove. On such a morning
as now lowers around our old gray parsonage I miss
the bright face of my ancient friend, who was wont
to dance upon the hearth and play the part of more
familiar sunshine. It is sad to turn from the cloudy
sky and sombre landscape ; from yonder hill, with its
crown of rusty, black pines, the foliage of which is so
dismal in the absence of the sun ; that bleak pasture-
land, and the broken surface of the potato field, with the
brown clods partly concealed by the snowfall of last
night ; the swollen and sluggish river with ice-incrusted
borders, dragging its bluish-gray stream along the verge
of our orchard l3:e a snake half torpid with the cold, â
it is sad to turn from an outward scene of so little
comfort and find the same sullen influences brooding
within the precincts of my study.
â Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse,
Suggestions. â What description-motive is used in this model?
Does the last sentence return to the general reflection at the be-
ginning ? What is the fundamental quality ?
Minor devices used. Is the point of view given
from which the picture is described; L e,y is the
observer placed in a particular position? Find a
Ornamentation in Description 215
B. Example for Analysis.
The life of a good young girl who is in the parental
nest as yet, can't have many of those thrilling incidents
to which the heroine of romance commonly lajrs claim.
Snares or shot may take off the old birds'f oragmg with-
out â hawks may be abroad, from which thejr escape or
by whom they suffer ; but the young ones m the nest
have a pretty comfortable, unromantic sort of existence
in the down and straw, till it comes to their turn, too,
to get on the wing.
While Becky Sharp was on her own wing in the
country, hopping on all sorts of twigs, and amid a multi-
plicity of traps, and pecking up her food quite harm-
less and successful, Amelia lay snug in her home in
Russell Square ; if she went into the world, it was under
the guidance of the elders ; nor did it seem that any evil
could befall her or that opulent, cheery, comfortable
home in which she was affectionately sheltered. Mamma
had her morning duties, and her daily drive, and the
delightful round of visits and shopping which forms
the amusement, or the profession as you may call it, of
the rich London lady. Papa conducted his mysterious
operations in the City â a stirring place in those days,
when war was raging all over Europe, and empires were
being staked Meanwhile matters went on
in Russell Square, Bloomsbury, just as if matters in
Europe were not in the least disorganized. The retreat
from Leipsic made no difference in the number of meals
Mr. Sambo took in the servants' hall ; the allies poured
into France, and the dinner bell rang at five o'clock
just as usual.
â William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair.
Suggestions. â What description-motive is used in this example?
Find the general reflection and point out its application to what
follows. What is the f tmdamental quality ? Does this example
portray the mode of life of an individual or a community ?
Write a paragraph describing an assemblage or
occasion. Use a general reflection to introduce the
2i6 Composition and Rhetoric
144. Fundamental Device XII.â A Single Con-
trast. The use of contrast is one of the most com-
mon and at the same time most effective devices.
It is akin to antithesis, which we have already met
in section 128. This device is a favorite one with
literary critics and historians when they wish to
contrast two persons.
The character of Milton was peculiarly distinguished
by loftiness of thought ; that of Dante by intensity of
feeling. In every line of the " Divine Comedy " we dis-
cern the asperity which is produced by pride struggling
with miserv. There is perhaps no work in the world so
deeply and uniformly sorrowful. The melancholy of
Dante was no fantastic caprice. It was not, as far as at
this distance of time can be judged, the effect of exter-
nal circumstances. It was from within. Neither love
nor glory, neither the conflicts of earth nor the hope of
heaven could dispel it. It turned every consolation
and every pleasure into its own nature. It resembled
that noxious Sardinian soil of which the intense bitter-
ness is said to have been perceptible even in its honey.
His mind was, in the noble language of the Hebrew
poet, " a land of darkness, as darkness itself, and where
the light was as darkness ! " The gloom of his char-
acter discolors all the passions of men and all the face of
nature, and tinges with its own livid hue the flowers of
Paradise and the glories of the eternal throne. No per-
son can look on the features, noble even to ruggedness,
the dark furrows of the cheek, the haggard and woeful
stare of the eye, the sullen and contemptuous curve of
the lip, and doubt that they belong to a.man too proud
and too sensitive to be happy.
Milton was, like Dante, a statesman and a lover;
and, like Dante, he had been unfortunate in ambition
and in love. He had survived his health and his sight,
the comforts of his home, and the prosperity of his
party If ever despondency and asperity
could be excused in any man, they might have been
Ornamentation in Description 217
excused in Milton. But the strength of his mind over-
came every calamity. Neither blindness, nor gout,
nor age, nor penury, nor domestic afflictions, nor politi-
cal disappointments, nor abuse, nor proscription, nor
negjlect, had power to disturb his sedate and majestic
patience. His spirits do not seem to have been high,
but they were singularly equable. His temper was
serious, perhaps stem ; but it was a temper which no
suflEerings could render sullen or fretful. Such as it
was when, on the eve of great events, he returned from
his travels, in the prime of health and manly beauty,
loaded with literary distinctions, and glowing with pa-
triotic hopes, such it continued to be when, after having
experienced every calamity which is incident to our
nature, old, poor, sightless, and disgraced, he retired to
his hovel to die.
â Thomas Babington Macaulay, Essay on Milton,
Suggestions. â What description-motive is used in this model ?
Why are the persons contrasted? What is the function of the
first paragraph in this model ? of the Second para^aph ? What is
the tundamental quality in the character ot each of the persons
Minor devices used. Find examples of enumera-
tion; of antithesis. (See Â§Â§ 107 and 128.)
B. Example for Analysis.
A confined triangle, perhaps fifty miles its greatest
length, and thirty its greatest breadth ; two elevated
rocky barriers, meeting at an angle ; three prominent
mountains, commanding the plain, â Fames, Pentelicus,
and Hymettus ; an unsatisfactory soil ; some streams,
not always full; â such is about the report which the
agent of a London Company would have made of Attica.
He would report that the climate was mild ; the hills
were limestone; there was plenty of good marble;
more pasture land than at first survey might have been
expected, sufficient certainly for sheep and goats ; fish-
eries productive; silver mines once, but long since
worked out; figs fair; oil first-rate; olives in profusion.
But what he would not think of noting aown was,
that that olive tree was so choice in nature and so noble
2i8 Composition and Rhetoric
to shape that it excited a religious veneration ; and that
it took so kindly to the light soil as to expand into
woods upon the open plain, and to climb up and fringje
the hills. He would not think of writing word to his
employers how that clear air, of which I have spoken,
brought out, yet blended and subdued, the colors on the
marble, till they had a softness and harmony, for all
their richness, which in a picture looks exaggerated, yet
is, after all, within the truth. He would not tell how
that same delicate and brilliant atmosphere freshened
up the pale olive till the olive forgot its monotony,
and its cheek glowed like the arbutus or beech of the
Umbrian hills. He would say nothing of the thyme and
thousand fragrant herbs which carpeted Hymettus; he
would hear nothing of the hum of its bees; nor take
much account of the rare flavor of its honey, since Gozo
and Minorca were sufficient for the English demand.
He would look over the -^gean from the height he
had ascended ; he would follow with his eye the chain
of islands, which, starting from the Sunian headland,
seemed to offer the fabled divinities of Attica, when
they would visit their Ionian cousins, a sort of viaduct
thereto across the sea : but this thought would not occur
to him, nor any admiration of the dark violet billows
with their white edges down below , nor of those grace-
ful, fan-like jets of silver upon the rocks, which slowly
rise aloft like water spirits from the deep, then shiver,
and break, and spread, and shroud themselves, and dis-
appear, in a soft mist of foam ; nor of the gentle^ inces-
sant heaving and panting of the whole liquid plain ; nor
of the long waves, keeping steady time, like a line of
soldiery, as they resound upon the hollow shore, â he
would not deign to notice the restless living element
at all, except to bless his stars that he was not upon it.
Nor the distinct detail, nor the refined coloring, nor the
graceful outline and roseate golden hue of the jutting
crags, nor the bold shadows cast from Otus or Laurium
by the declining sun; â our agent of a mercantile firm
would not value these matters even at a low figure.
Rather we must turn for the sympathy we seek to yon
pilgrim student, come from a semi-barbarous land to
that small comer of the earth, as to a shrine, where he
Ornamentation in Description 219
might take his fill of gazing on those emblems and
coruscations of invisible unoriginate perfection. It was
the stranger from a remotq province, from Britain or
from Mauritania, to whom a scene so different from
that of his chilly, woody swamps, or of his fiery choking
sands, would have shown him in a measure what a real
university must be, by holding out to him the sort of
country which was its suitable home.
â John Henry Newman, The Office and Work of Universities,
Suggestions. â What description-motive is used in this quota-
tion ? In this example of the use of contrast, which is the prosaic
or commonplace, and which the poetic or sentimental point or view?
Note the difference in sentence structure in the two descriptions.
In which are the sentences longer, more complex in structure, and
more rhjrthmical ? In which description do you find ornamenta-
tion, /*. e, similes, etc.? Make a list of the details used in the
description from the agent's point of view ; from the poetic point
of view. Which contains more of the concrete ?
Write a cojitrast between two persons' concep-
tions of the mode of life of a certain community
or class of people according to the following plan :
Give in the first sentence of the first paragraph the
point of view of one person. In the last sentence of
that paragraph summarize your description from the
first person's point of view. In the first sentence of
the second paragraph give the point of view of the
second person and summarize in the last sentence,
as before, what you have said about his conception
of the community.
145. Fundamental Device XIII.â A Series of
It is difficult to decide on the comparative merit of
him [Fox] and Mr. Pitt : the latter had not the vehe-
ment reasoning, or argumentative ridicule of Mr. Fox ;
220 Composition and Rhetoric
but he had more splendor, more imagery, and much
more method and discretion
Mr. Fox had a captivating earnestness of tone and
manner ; Mr. Pitt was more dignified than earnest : . .
. . it was an observation of the reporters in the gal-
lery, that it required great exertion to follow Mr. Fox
while he was speaking, none to remember what he had
said ; that it was easy and delightful to follow Mr. Pitt,
not so easy to recollect what had delighted them.
â Charles Butler, Reminiscences^ Mr, Fox and Mr. Pitt.
Suggestions. â What description-motive is used in this model ?
How many contrasts do you find in this series ? Who are the per-
sons contrasted ? In what respects are they compared ?
B. Example for Analysis. Cicero, after con-
trasting the splendid troops of the Roman state
with the wretchedness of the followers of Catiline,
the conspirator, goes on to compare the two causes
for which he, as the representative of Rome, and
Catiline, who is aiming at the overthrow of Rome,
respectively stand. He says :
For on the one side is fighting modesty, on the other
wantonness ; on the one chastity, on the other unclean-
ness ; on the one honesty, on the other fraud ; on the
one piety, on the other wickedness ; on the one firm-
ness, on the other madness ; on the one honor, on the
other baseness ; on the one continence, on the other
lust ; in short, equity, temperance, fortitude, prudence,
all the virtues, contend against iniquity, luxury, indo-
lence, rashness, all the vices.
â Marcus Tullius Cicero,
Against Catiline, Oration II., Ch. XL
Suggestions. â In this paragraph what different contrasts do you
find ? What is the description-motive ? the fmidamental quality ?
Write a paragraph describing, by means of a
series of contrasts, the appearance of two people.
Ornamentation in Description 221
146. Fundamental Device XIV. â A Single
Comparison or Likeness. This device bears the
same relation to the fundamental image (see Â§ 135)
that the simile does to the metaphor. In the com-
parison, the likeness is expressly stated by the
words asy so; in the fundamental image, one object
is spoken of as if it were another.
As when some goatherd from the hilltop sees
A cloud that traverses the deep before
A strong west wind, â beholding it afar,
Pitch black it seems, and bringing o'er the waves
A whirlwind with it ; he is seized with fear.
And drives his flock to shelter in a cave, â
So .with the warriors Ajax to the war
Moved, dense and dark, the phalanxes of youths
Trained for the combat.
â HoBfSR (Bryant's Translation), The Iliad, Book IV,
Suggestions. â What description-motive does this model illus-
trate ? What word connects the two members of the comparison?
B. Example for Analysis.
As when the ocean-billows, surge on surge,
Are pushed along to the resounding shore
Before the western wind, and first a wave
Uplifts itself, and then against the land
Dashes and roars, and round the headland peaks
Tosses on high and spouts its spray afar,
So moved the serried phalanxes of Greece
To battle, rank succeeding rank, each chief
Giving command to his own troops.
âHomer (Bryant's Translation), The Iliad, Book IV,
Suggestions. â In this example what is the description-motive ?
the fundamental quality? What word introduces the first member
of the comparison ? the second ?
Write a description of the character of a person,
using a single comparison or likeness.
222 Composition and Rhetoric
147. Fundamental Device XV. â A Series of
Comparisons or Likenesses. This device differs
from that of the series of images (see Â§136) as
the single comparison differs from the fundamental
image. The image, as the term is used in this book,
resembles the metaphor ; the comparison, the simile.
In the image the words like or as are omitted; in
the comparison they are expressed.
Like the whistling of birds, like the humming of bees,
Like the sough of the south wind in the trees.
Like the sinking of angels, the playin^^ of shawms.
Like Ocean itself with its storms and its calms.
Were the strains of Shon, when with cheeks aflame
He blew a blast thro' the pipes of fame.
Like a thousand laverocks singing in tune,
Like countless corn-craiks under the moon.
Like the smack of kisses, like sweet bells ringing.
Like a mermaid's harp, or a kelpie singing,
Blew the pipes of Shon ; and the witching strain
Was the gathering song of the Clan Maclean.
â Robert Buchanan, The Wedding of Shon Maclean.
At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe
And putting apples wondrous ripe
Into a cider press's gripe ;
And a moving away of pickle-tub boards.
And a leaving ajar of conserve cupboards.
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks.
And a breaking the hoops of butter casks.
â Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin,
Suggestions. â What description-motive is used in each model ?
What is the fundamental quality in each ? What is the first com-
parison ? How many comparisons in each?
Minor devices used. Find and explain two allu-
Ornamentation in Description 223
B, Example for Analysis.
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And bid the main flood bate his usual height ;
You may as well use question with the wolf
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb ;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops and to make no noise,
When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven ;
You may as well do any thing most hard.
As seek to soften that â than which what's harder? â
His Jewish heart. _w,i.uam Shakspere.
Merchant of Venice, Act IV,, Sc. /.
Suggestions. â In this example of description by the use of a
series of coxnparisons, what is the first comparison? the second?
the third? what is the description-motive of this paragraph?
What is the fundamental quajity? What rule for paragraph
structure is not observed in this paragfraph ?
Minor device used. Find a metaphor.
Write a description of a conversation, book, or
speech, using a series of comparisons.
148. Fundamental Device XVI. â Dialogue.
One of the most important devices in description
is dialogue. It is perhaps more vivid and informal
than any other, and may be used for the portrayal
of any of the description-motives enumerated in sec-
"Young man, I am painting a picture of Sinon
deceiving old Priam, and I should be glad of your face
for my Sinon, if you'd give me a sitting."
Tito Milema started and looked round with pate
astonishment in his face, as if at a sudden accusation,
but Nello left him no time to feel at a loss for an
224 Composition and Rhetoric
" Piero," said the barber, "you are the most extraor-
dinary compound of humors .and fancies ever packed
into a human skin. What trick wilt thou play with the
fine visage of this young scholar to make it suit thy
traitor ? Ask him rather to turn his eyes upward, and
thou mayst make a Saint Sebastian of him that will
draw troops of devout women, or if thou art in a clas-
sical vein, put m)rrtle about his curls and make him a
youn^f Bacchus, or say rather a Phoebus Apollo, for his
face IS as warm and bright as a summer morning. It
made me his friend in the space of a * credo.' "
"Ay, Nello," said the painter, speaking with abrupt
pauses, "and if thy tongue can leave oflE its everlasting
chirping long enough for thy understanding to con-
sider the matter, thou mayst see that thou hast just
shown the reason why the face of Messere will suit my
traitor. A perfect traitor should have a face which
vice can write no marks on â lips that will lie with a
dimpled smile â eyes of such agate-like brightness and
depth that no infamy can dull them â cheeks that will
rise from a murder and not look haggard. I say not
this young man is a traitor. I mean, he has a face that
would make him the more perfect traitor if he had the
heart of one, which is saying neither more nor less than
that he has a beautiful face, informed with rich young
blood, that will be nourished enough by food, and keep
its rich color without much help of virtue. He may
have the heart of a Nero alon|^ with it. I aver nothing
to the contrary. Ask Domenica there if lapidaries can
always tell a gem by sight alone."
â George Eliot, Romola,