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its ridge stand the dark masses of innumerable pines, taking no part in its gladness, asserting themselves forever as fixed shadows, not to be pierced or banished in the intensest sunlight; fallen flakes and fragments of the night, stayed in their solemn squares in the midst of all the rosy bendings of the orchard boughs and yellow effulgence of the harvest, and tracing themselves in black network and motionless fringes against the blanched blue of the horizon in its saintly clearness. And yet they do not seem to sadden the landscape, but seem to have been set there chiefly to show how bright everything else is round them; and all the clouds look of purer silver, and all the air seems filled with a whiter and more living sunshine, where they are pierced by the sable points of the pines; and all the pastures look of more glowing green where they run up against the purple trunks: and the sweet field footpaths skirt the edges of the forest for the sake of its shade, sloping up and down about the slippery roots, and losing themselves every now and then among the violets and ground ivy, and brown sheddings of the fibrous leaves; and at last plunging into some open aisle where the light through the distant stems shows that there is a chance of coming out again on the other side; and coming out indeed in a little while from the scented darkness into the dazzling air and marvelous landscape that stretches still farther and farther in new willfulness of grove and garden, until at last the craggy mountains of the Simmenthal rise out of it, sharp into the rolling of the summer clouds.
From “Modern Painters." — - RUSKIN. After reading this selection, reread it and mention the features which contribute to the beauty of the places described.
In the following the writer wishes to show the old, dingy appearance of the Custom Office, and so mentions only those features that contribute to its ancient and dilapidated look.
THE CUSTOM OFFICE
On the left as you enter the front door is a certain room or office, about fifteen feet square, and of a lofty height; with two of its arched windows commanding a view of the aforesaid dilapidated wharf, and the third looking across a narrow lane, and along a portion of Derby Street. The room itself is cobwebbed and dingy with old paint; its floor is strewn with gray sand, in a fashion that has elsewhere fallen into long disuse; and it is easy to conclude, from the general slovenliness of the place, that this is a sanctuary into which womankind, with her tools of magic, the broom and mop, has very infrequent access. In the way of furniture, there is a stove with a voluminous funnel; an old pine desk, with a three-legged stool beside it; two or three wooden-bottom chairs, exceedingly decrepit and infirm; and — not to forget the library on some shelves a score or two of volumes of the Acts of Congress, and a bulky Digest of the Revenue Laws. A tin pipe descends through the ceiling, and forms a means of vocal communication with other parts of the edifice.
From “ The Scarlet Letter." - HAWTHORNE.
Exercises 1. Reread this description and make a list of the words that indicate the old neglected appearance of the room.
2. Describe some room of modern style and furnishing, enumerating the features that make it a direct contrast to the one described in the above paragraph.
3. Describe several objects with which you are familiar, selecting some special characteristic, such as plainness, beauty, age, or quietness, to be emphasized in the descriptions
4. Describe some street in your town, or a piece of country road which you know well, making your description so accurate that the place can be recognized by any one who is familiar with it.
5. Describe some piece of country, a view in a park, or any bit of landscape with which you are familiar, your purpose being to present its features in such a way as to give an accurate description of it.
6. Describe some landscape, lake, river, or bit of seashore, which has a well-marked characteristic, such as beauty, ruggedness, or wildness, giving particular prominence to the features that contribute to this characteristic.
Description of a Person. – A person may be described by stating the character of his features, eyes, hair, complexion, form, manner of walking, and giving his height, and any peculiarity of speech or manner which he may possess; the purpose being to present simply an accurate picture of him without emphasizing any particular characteristic. In the following the purpose is merely to give a clear description of this person mentioned.
A COUNTRY MAID Standing in the doorway was a tall slim girl, apparently about eighteen years old, whom the boy, who had offered to show us the way over the mountain, addressed as Sister." Her dark brown hair was brushed back from her low broad forehead and confined in a loose coil at the back of her head. Her eyes were of a deep blue, her complexion clear, her mouth large but well formed, her lips were a cherry-red, and as she spoke she displayed two rows of pearly white teeth. She wore, in the fashion of this part of the country, a plain dress of dark blue cotton, and a checked gingham apron. In her hand she held a broadbrimmed coarse straw hat which she had evidently just taken off. - CAREY.
Consider whether you can form a mental picture of the girl's appearance from this description.
Compare the following description of General Grant with a portrait of him, and tell whether the description is accurate.
GENERAL GRANT His hair and beard were brown, and both heavier than Sherman's; his features marked, but not prominent;
while his eyes, clear, but not penetrating nor piercing, seemed formed to resist rather than aid the interpretation of his thought, and never betrayed that it was sounding the depths of another nature than its own.
A heavy jaw; a sharply cut mouth, which had a singular power of expressing sweetness and strength combined, and at times became set with a rigidity like that of Fate itself; a broad, square brow that at first struck no one as imposing, but on being studied, indicated an unusual development both of intellect and will. His figure was compact and of medium height, but though well made he stooped slightly in the shoulders.
His manner, plain, placid, almost meek in great moments, disclosed to them who knew him well, immense, but still repressed, intensity. In utterance he was slow and sometimes embarrassed, but the words were well chosen, never leaving the remotest doubt of what he intended to convey, and now and then fluent and forcible, when the speaker became aroused. - ADAM BADEAU.
In the following the writer wishes to picture the beauty of the girl he describes. As you read the description, try to imagine her as he saw her.
BEATRICE ESMOND Esmond had left a child, and found a woman; grown beyond the common height, and arrived at such a dazzling completeness of beauty that his eyes might well show surprise and delight at beholding her. In hers there was a brightness so lustrous and melting that I have seen a whole assembly follow her as if by an attraction irresistible. She was a brown beauty; that is, her eyes, hair, and eyebrows and eyelashes were dark, her hair curling with rich undulations and waving over her shoulders; but her complexion was as dazzling white as snow in sunshine, except her cheeks, which were a bright red, and her lips which were of a still deeper crimson. Her mouth and chin, they said, were too large and full; and so they might be for a goddess in marble, but not for a
were fire, whose
look was love, whose voice was the sweetest low song, whose shape was perfect symmetry, health, decision, activity, whose foot as it planted itself on the ground was firm but flexible, and whose motion, whether rapid or slow, was always perfect grace: agile as a nymph, lofty as a queen, now melting, now imperious, now sarcastic, there was no single movement of hers but was beautiful. From “ The History of Henry Esmond.”. WILLIAM M. THACKERAY.
In the following the writer shows how Washington's personal appearance was in harmony with and indicative of his character. Mention points in his character and his appearance that were in harmony.
Washington's personal appearance was in harmony with his character; it was a model of manly strength and beauty. He was about six feet two inches in height, and his person well proportioned, in the earlier part of his life rather spare, and never too stout for active and graceful movement. The complexion inclined to the florid; the eyes were blue and remarkably far apart, a profusion of brown hair was drawn back from the forehead, highly powdered according to the custom of the day, and gathered in a bag behind. He was scrupulously neat in his dress, and while in camp, though he habitually left his tent at sunrise, he was always dressed for the day. His strength of arm and his skill and grace as a horseman have already been mentioned. His power of endurance was great and there were occasions, as the retreat from long Island and the battle of Princeton, when he was scarcely out of his saddle for two days.
Punctilious in the observances of society as practiced in his day, he was accustomed, down to the period of his inauguration as President, at the balls given in his honor, to take part in the minuet or country dance. His diary uniformly records, sometimes with amusing exactness, the precise number of ladies present at the assemblies at which he was received on his tour through the Union. His