W. T. (William Tenney) Brewster.

English composition and style; a handbook for college students online

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Fifth and Eighth avenues. Bryant Park at 42nd Street and Sixth
Avenue, and Momingside, Riverside, and Mount Morris Parks,
these three being the most northerly parks on the Island. Here
are five parks, the largest in New York City, within a circle of
about two and a half miles radius. There are several minor parks
only a block or so in size, which are situated far down-town so
that the poor people may obtain some pleasure. But these are
far and few between. The city officials in laying out the parks
have not considered the poor. The rich are really the only ones
who reap any benefit from these parks and grounds. The poor
man when he goes into a park likes to wander at will among the
bushes and trees but he may not The parks laid out, as they
were, several years ago have had time to assume pleasing contrasts,
shady nooks on one side bright lawns on the other. The larger
parks are so far removed from the poor that they cannot go, so
what is their use? London has its parks all over where the poor
as well as rich can go, in fact they are more for the poor than

72. When my grandfather was a young man, the graveyards
in the country had to be carefully watched to see that no one
carried away any of the bodies. My grandfather had to be the
first one to watch in his village. He thought that night would
never pass. He walked up and down and hummed to keep him-
self cheerful.

73. The beginning of the college year is a time of mingled pain
and pleasure — pain for the ghosts of last year's failures which
lurk in forsaken classrooms and professional faces; and pleasure
for the innumerable possibilities of enjoyment ahead. We may
be skeptical regarding our pleasure in the feast of reason which
awaits us, but which of us can enter a course unsullied as yet



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290 English Composition and Style

by the stigma of incapacity asd fail to experience a thrill of gen-
uine anticipation?

74. The lessons are far from easy, but not too hard. The in-
structors are pleasant, but, on the whole, strict And seem to
know the subjects which they teach — the fact which has most
weight with me, for, although I cannot bear a disagreeable teacher,
a teadier who does not understand the thing he is supposed to
teach is fully as objectionable if not more so.

75. She was walking across campus, and when she came to
the ignominious leak, she laughed merrily to herself, "See the
pretty babbling brook." Such is childish optimism.

76. An amusing experience to me happened the other day in
the apartment in which I live. My door was open and I heard

Mrs.* 'phoning to some one that no one was at home to

stay with the baby, and that every one would be out all the even-
ing. I thought it was a strange remark, for I knew that there
was some one in every room. In a few minutes, I heard some
one go through the hall, and then into the nursery where Mr.
— was playing with the baby.

" How do you do, Mr. , are you at home? " She then went

to another room and found Mrs. ; and from their conversa-
tion, I knew that this was the lady at the other end of the line.

I wondered how Mrs. was going to get around the deception ;

and my curiosity was satisfied when I heard her say, Mr. T. just
came in for a few moments and is going down town. This ap-
parently satisfied the friend, for in a little while afterward, she

returned to stay with Mrs. only to find both Mr. and Mrs.

dressed to go calling.

77. Within the last year the aim and purpose of the lives of
many patriotic and daring men of the past centuries has been
fulfilled in the discovery of the North Pole. Naturally the dis-
coverer claims and deserves respect and honor, but we have before
us the perplexing situation of two claimants for the honor. Not
only are they rivals, but antagonistic sentiments are now being
aroused by the one attacking the other's right to the claim. In
men who have devoted their lives to such a noble and patriotic
purpose, a quarrel of this type certainly does seem childish and
out of harmony with their former noble ambition. Let the one
concede to the other, and share the glory — we hope personal
glory was not their aim — and such concession would not belittle
either, but rather gain for them additional respect and renown.

78. Ever since Magellan sailed around South America, thus

*Note the absurdity of the blanks.


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opening up a southwest passage around the world, efforts have
been made to find a like passage around the northwest. This has
led to the further more difficult effort of trying to find the North
Pole. Owing to the hardships encountered of cold and lack of
aUlity to carry provisions sufficient, all efforts had been so far in
vain until Cook, an American, startled the world last month with
the announcement that he had found same.

He, with two Esquimo servants and an equipment of dogs draw-
ing sledges of provisions performed the feat. Returning he was
taken on board a Danish vessel which sent the announcement to
civilized world. Peary, a few weeks later, who had attempted
same enterprise, announces his success. A controversy naturally
results as to who shall have first honors.

yg. She is tall and thin with a poor carriage and yet, in con-
tradiction to this, a manner of wearing her clothes well. Her type
is gipsy-like in appearance with very dark olive complexion
heightened at moments of best appearance with a tinge of red.
Large black eyes, with heavy brows, wavy black hair that lies
back from a high but not characteristic forehead, full red lips
form the other gipsy-like features of her face. Her nose is not
straight and thin in accordance with the rest of the picture but
somewhat long and heavy — not an entirely ugly nose, but not
one of the classic types. Her manner is jovial and care-free,
full of rollicking companionship which she expresses in deep eager
tones. Not a girl of a very definite purpose in life, I imagine, but
one full of good-will and obligingness toward her fellows and of
truth and loyalty.

80. A very quiet man sat with his wife opposite two ladies.
He took very little interest in the conversation of his companions
but looked around the train. His whole appearance was that of
a well-bred gentleman. He carried a cane, wore a plain black
suit and was middle-aged; so I judged him by his gray hair.
Occasionally he would look at his wife, a young woman who ap-
peared and talked as if she might have the most happy and bright
disposition in the world. The two ladies opposite were taking a
very lively interest in what their friend was telling. What seemed
extraordinary to me was that the man did not speak; he often
looked at his wife in a way which signified adoration and devo-
tion. At first I thought they were bride and groom but in this
I found that I was mistaken. She was speaking about Horace
and the baby. Finally she turned toward her husband and spoke
to him and at the same time moved the fingers of one hand. His
face brightened perceptiUy; he answered her but his voice was
very low and sounded in the same tone. Then I understood his


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292 English Composition and Style

look of devotion and I realized what a wife like he had» meant to
this poor deaf man.

81. The success of Wild Animals I have Known insured a great
amount of interest in Ernest Seton-Thompson's latest book. The
Biography of a Grisely, which was published a short while ago.
Those who were interested, I do not think were disappointed. In
the first place, the book is most attractively gotten up. There are
many full-page pictures, and the little marginal illustrations by
the author's wife bring out many delicate points of the story and
are more suggestive than any amount of notes would be. I have
heard of books that sold merely for the illustrations, but Mr.
Seton-Thompson is far too clever to lie under that suspicion*
The Biography of a Grissly, unlike its predecessor, is a continuous
story, and its hero, Wahb, a typical American grizzly of the
Metersu Valley, is perhaps the most interesting of all Mr. Seton-
Thompson's dumb actors.

He first appears as a tiny cub, frolicking with his mother and
brothers. Then he is left alone undergoing many trials and suffer-
ings at the hands of wild creatures of the woods, until as a full-
grown bear he shows us a life full of strength and power and
strife. By degrees that proud strength dwindles and he finds him-
self growing old and unable to meet the foes he has so long dis-
dained. So at the last, he gratefully crawls into a cave, which in
days gone by called forth a sniff from his contemptuous nose, and,
content only to find a resting place, he dies.

Mr. Seton-Thompson's animals are always interesting to chil-
dren, but it is a question whether the story of Wahb. is just the
book to put into a child's hands. The life of Wahb from baby-
hood to death is a story too full of sadness *and suffering for
their little minds to enjoy. He is so lonely, so driven away when
small, that in his days of strength he looks upon all animals with
hate and disHke. He never has a friend through all the book
after his mother leaves him, killed by that horrible "smelling
stuff" which he always connected with "man." The sight of
"man," his bitterest foe, aroused in him the greatest desire to
kill. The chapter where the loss of his mother is described and
his loneliness afterwards appeals to children in the saddest way.
It makes them think too seriously for their age on the possibility
of their lives being lonely and lacking a mother. In just that way,
it brings up many unpleasant ideas and pictures to them which
before as far as possible have not reached them. As for instance,
death which to them was only known by name, becomes too
realistic in the sad fate by the cruel hands of Wahb of the Indian
and two. ranchmen.


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Words and Sentences 293

Another thing, Wahb's fierceness towards other animals, which
is perfectly comprehensible to grown people, is apt to be mis-
understood by children. They learn to be afraid of animals, and
fear naturally leads to hate. As this is so far from the author's
intention in writing the book, it seems wrong for children to read
it till they have reached an age able to understand fully the hard
Kfe of Wahb.

Like Bob, Son of Battle, this book of Mr. Seton-Thompson is
an animal story of the highest type. It seeks to be true to nature,
and yet to show us that part of animal life which corresponds to
the soul of man. Compared with all other books of the sort, it is,
with the exception perhaps of Bob, Son of Battle, the most inter-
esting and true to life. In reading it, one can see the bear living
his curious life in attempts to outdo every other creature in the
Metersu Valley. Asking nothing from any one, he expects to give
nothing in return. In these two books, die animals speak as ani-
mals would, and not with the words of man in their mouths. On
the other hand, in the stories by Mark Twain and in the story
of Black Beauty, men act, in the disguise of beasts.

Another point which adds to the author's credit is the length
of the book. It is neither too long nor too short; it is not a
long-drawn-out tale full of improbable and impossible events in
animal life, but is merely a short narrative of the wanderings and
misfortunes of a grizzly.

8(2. She had no brothers or sisters, no more distant relations,
and the week before she had become an orphan. Now she sat
in one corner of her father's studio watching with wide aston-
ished eyes the auction of all that she had been accustomed to see
around her. Her father had not only left her penniless, but had
left enormous debts which were to be paid off by the sale of his
large country house and everything that it contained. The studio
had originally been a bam, in fact the rough rafters had never
quite been relieved of their coating of straw-dust and cobwebs.
Now a platform had been erected at one end for the auctioneer,
and a throng of hungry bidders and spectators stood and sat before
it Nina was only five, but she understood that the furniture,
paintings, etc., which were being lauded so volubly by the red-
faced man were going to be taken away by some of the people
around her. So many strange things had happened in the past
week that she was hardly surprised when she saw her own little
bed on tiie platform. She wondered vaguely where she would
sleep, but that did not worry her as much as the thought that
she would have nothing to eat off of, for now she saw her minia-
ture mission table and chair with her complete set of Buster


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Brown china being held up and praised. Presently the audience
roared with laughter. "Here, ladies and gentlemen/' said the
auctioneer, ''is a superb specimen of a babyl who wants a child?
Doesn't any one want a perfectly good baby, guaranteed not to
cry at night? To be sure there are plenty of babies in the world,
but such a beautiful specimen — I should think — " Nina got up.
She was hot all over and her voice was strong with anger. " She 's
my baby," she called, ''and she can cry if you squeeze her."
More laughter. The auctioneer was holding up an old doll by
its wig. The wig was half off, one eye was out, and the arms and
legs were wobbling in their sockets. " No one bids for the baby? "
said the auctioneer; "then away with it," and he flung the doll
into a comer behind him. Unnoticed until that moment a boy of
about twelve years had been perched astride of one of the rafters
above the platform. Now he suddenly swung down on the end
of a rope and planted himself with clenched fists before the burly
auctioneer. ."I'm smaller 'n you," he cried, "but you've got to
fight You 're a cad 1 " He made an effort to reach up and slap
the auctioneer in the face, but he was too small and the auctioneer
drew back with a queer conscious look on his face. " Come with
me, sonny," came from a tall man in the crowd* and the boy was
lifted bodily from the i^atform and marched to the door. There
he had a short parley with his father in which he evidently won
the day, for he was permitted to go back, pick up the doll from
the comer, walk toward Nina, and with a polite, formal bow
hand it to her without a word. Then he rejoined his father and
left the place.

Passages referred to in Exercise 6,

I. From Huxley's Lay Sermons:

The vast results obtained by science are won by no mystical
faculties, by no mental processes, other than those which are prac-
tised by every one of us in the humblest and meanest affairs of
life, A detective policeman discovers a burglar from the marks
made by his shoe, by a mental process identical with that by which
Cuvier restored the extinct animals of Montmartre from fragments
of their bones. Nor does that process of induction and deduction
by which a lady, finding a stain of a particular kind upon her dress,
concludes that somebody has upset the inkstand thereon, differ in
any way from that by which Adams and Leverrier discovered a
new planet The man of science, in fact, simply uses with scrup-


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Words and Sentences 295

11I0U8 exactness the methods which we all habitually and at every
moment use carelessly.

2. From Greenough and Kittredge's Words and their Ways in
English Speech:

In every cultivated language there are two great classes of words
which, taken together, comprise the whole vocabulary. First,
there are those words with which we become acquainted in ordi-
nary conversation, — which we learn, that is to say, from the mem-
bers of our own family and from our familiar associates, and which
we should know and use even if we could not read or write. They
concern the common things of life, and are the stock in trade of
all who speak the language. Such words may be called " popular,"
since they belong to the people at large and are not the exclusive
possession of a limited class.

On the other hand, our language includes a multitude of words
which are comparatively seldom used in ordinary conversation.
Their meanings are known to every educated person, but there is
little occasion to employ them at home or in the market-place.
Our first acquaintance with them comes not from our mother's
lips or from the talk of our schoolmates, but from books that we
read, lectures that we hear, or the more formal conversation of
highly educated speakers, who are discussing some particular topic
in a style appropriately elevated above the habitual level of every-
day life. Such words are called '' learned," and the distinction
between them and "popular" words is of great importance to a
right understanding of linguistic process.

3. From Johnson's Life of Addison:

His prose is the model of the middle style; on grave subjects
not formal, on light occasions not groveling, pure without scru-
pulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable,
and always easy, without glowing words and pointed sentences.
Addison never deviates from his track to snatch a grace; he
seeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovations.
His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splen-

4. From Barrett Wendell's Stelligeri:

Whittier's lack of humor, then, was serious. So, to a less degree,
was his lack of artistic feeling. The remarkably narrow range of
his metrical forms, the astonishing errors of his rimes are familiar
features of his verse. Another defect, too, must have been ap-
parent to whoever has read even the passages already quoted. He


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296 English Composition and Style

had little strength of creative imagination. His poetical figures
are almost always both obvious and trite. A light-house resembles
a minaret; the woods bordering a salt meadow are like the shore
bordering the actual sea; a good man, when dead, is provided
with an aureole; and so on. The moralizing passages frequent
throughout his work display the same weakness. If in his lack
of humor he sinks below the commonplace, there is nothing in the
technical form of his work, or in the creative power of his imag-
ination, which often rises above it.

5. From Emerson's The American Scholar:

Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which at-
taches to the act of creation, the act of thought, is transferred to
the record. The poet chanting was felt to be a divine man:
henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and
wise spirit: henceforward it is settled the book is perfect; as
love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly
the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant The sluggish
and perverted mind of the multitude, slow to open to the incur-
sions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received
this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry if it is disparaged.
Colleges are built on it Books are written on it by thinkers, not
by Man Thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong,
who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of
principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it
their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which
Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were
only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.

6. From Arnold's The Study of Poetry:

But if we conceive thus highly of the destinies of poetry, we
must also set our standard tor poetry high, since poetry, to be
capable of fulfilling such high destinies, must be poetry of a high
order of excellence. We must accustom ourselves to a high stand-
ard and to a strict judgment Sainte-Beuve relates that Napoleon
one day said, when somebody was spoken of in his presence as a
charlatan : " Charlatan as much as you please ; but where is there
not charlatanism." — " Yes," answers Sainte-Beuve, " in politics, in
the art of governing mankind, that is perhaps true. But in the
order of thought, in art, the glory, the eternal honor is that char-
latanism shall find no entrance; herein lies the inviolableness of
that noble portion of man's being.'* It is admirably said, and let
us hold fast to it. In poetry, which is thought and art in one, it
is the glory, the eternal honor, that charlatanism shall find no en-


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trance; that this noble sphere be kept inviolate and inviolable.
Charlatanism is for confusing or obliterating the distinctions be-
tween excellent and inferior, sound and unsound or only half-
sound, true and untrue or only half-true. It is charlatanism,
conscious or unconscious, whenever we confuse or obliterate these.
And in poetry, more than anywhere else, it is unpermissible to
confuse or obliterate them. For in poetry the distinction between
excellent and inferior, sound and unsound or only half-sound, true
and untrue or only half-true, is of paramount importance. It is of
paramount importance because of the high destinies of poetry.
In poetry, as a criticism of life under the conditions fixed for such
a criticism by the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty, the spirit
of our race will find, we have said, as time goes on and as other
helps fail, its consolation and stay. But the consolation and stay
will be of power in proportion to the power of the criticism of
life. And the criticism of life will be of power in proportion as
the poetry conveying it is excellent rather than inferior, sound
rather than unsound or half-sound, true rather than untrue or

7. From Burke's Speech on Conciliation:

In large bodies, the circulation of power must be less vigorous
at the extremities. Nature has said it. The Turk cannot govern
£g31)t, and Arabia, and Kurdistan, as he governs Thrace; nor has
he the same dominion in Crimea and Algiers which he has at
Brusa and Smyrna. Despotism itself is obliged to truck and
huckster. The Sultan gets such obedience as he can. He gov-
erns with a loose rein, that he may govern at all; and the whole
of the force and vigor of his authority in his center is derived
from a prudent relaxation in all his borders. Spain, in her prov-
inces, is perhaps not so well obeyed as you are in yours. She
complies too; she submits; she watches times. This is the im-
mutable condition, the eternal law, of extensive and detached em-

8. From Scott's Ivanhoe:

At length, as the saracenic music of the challengers concluded
one of those long and high flourishes with which they had broken
the silence of the lists, it was answered by a solitary trumpet,
which breathed a note of defiance from the northern extremity.
All eyes were turned to see the new champion which these sounds
announced, and no sooner were the barriers opened than he paced
into the lists. As far as could be judged of a man sheathed in
armor, the new adventurer did not greatly exceed the middle size,


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298 English Composition and Style

and seemed to be rather slender than strongly made. His suit
of armor was formed of steel, richly inlaid with gold, and the
device on his shield was a young oak-tree pulled up by the roots,
with the Spanish word Desdichado, signifying Disinherited. He
was mounted on a gallant black horse, and as he passed through
the lists he gracefully saluted the Prince and the ladies by lower-
ing his lance. The dexterity with which he managed his steed,
and something of a youthful grace which he displayed in his man-
ner, won him the favor of the multitude, which some of the lower
classes expressed by calling out, "Touch Ralph de Vipont's shield
— touch the Hospitaller's shield; he has the least sure seat, he is
your cheapest bargain."

The champion, moving onward amid these well-meant hints,
ascended the platform by the sloping alley which led to it from
the lists, and, to the astonishment of all present, riding straight
up to the central pavilion, struck with the sharp end of his spear
the shield of Brian de Bois-Guilbert until it rang again. All
stood astonished at his presumption, but none more than the re-
doubted knight whom he had thus defied to mortal combat, and
who, little expecting so rude a challenge, was standing carelessly
at the door of the pavilion.

9. From Swift's A Tale of a Tub:

The worshipers of this deity had also a system of their belief
which seemed to turn upon the following fundamentals. They
held the universe to be a large suit of clothes, which invests
everything; that the earth is invested by the air; the air is in-
vested by the stars; and the stars are invested by the primum

Online LibraryW. T. (William Tenney) BrewsterEnglish composition and style; a handbook for college students → online text (page 26 of 43)