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general manner in large societies, though eminently courteous, was marked by a military reserve. In smaller companies he was easy and affable, but not talkative. He was frequently cheered into gayety, at the fireside, by the contagious merriment of the young and happy, but often relapsed into a thoughtful mood, moving his lips but making no audible sound.
No one ever denied to Washington the possession of physical and moral courage; no one ever accused him of missing an opportunity to strike a bold blow; no one has pointed out a want of vigor in the moment of action, or of forethought in the plans of his campaigns; in short, no one has alleged a fact, from which it can be made even probable that Napoleon or Cæsar, working with his means and on the field of action, could have wrought out greater or better results than he did, or that, if he had been placed on a field of action and with a command of means like theirs, he would have shown himself unequal to the position.
In the possession of that mysterious quality of character, manifest in a long life of unambitious service, which, called by whatever name, inspires the confidence, commands the respect, and wins the affections of contemporaries, and grows upon the admiration of successive generations, forming a standard to which the merit of other men is referred, and a living proof that true patriotism is not a delusion, nor virtue an empty name, no one of the sons of men has equaled George Washington. - EDWARD EVERETT.
Look at a picture of Washington and see whether you can discover a resemblance to any points mentioned in this description. Does his appearance suggest any of the characteristics mentioned?
The point of the following description is to show the youthful vigor and activity of the old inspector.
THE OLD INSPECTOR
The Inspector, when I first knew him, was a man of fourscore years, or thereabouts, and certainly one of the most wonderful specimens of wintergreen that you would be likely to discover in a lifetime's search. With his florid cheek, his compact figure, smartly arrayed in a brightbuttoned blue coat, his brisk and vigorous step, and his hale and hearty aspect, altogether he seemed not young indeed, but a new contrivance of Mother Nature in the shape of a man whom age and infirmity had no business to touch.
His voice and laugh, which perpetually reëchoed through the Custom House, had nothing of the tremulous quaver and cackle of an old man's utterance; they came strutting out of his lungs like the crow of a cock, or the blast of a. clarion. Looking at him merely as an animal, - and there was little else to look at, - he was a most satisfactory object, from the thorough healthfulness and wholesomeness of his system, and his capacity, at that extreme age, to enjoy all, or nearly all the delights, he had ever aimed at or conceived of. The careless security of his life in the Custom House, on a regular income, and with but slight and infrequent apprehension of removal, had no doubt contributed to make time pass lightly over him. The original and more potent causes, however, lay in the rare perfection of his animal nature, the moderate proportion of intellect, and the very trifling admixture of moral and spiritual ingredients; these latter qualities, indeed, being in barely enough measure to keep the old gentleman from walking on all-fours. He possessed no power of thought, no depth of feeling, no troublesome sensibilities; nothing, in short, but a few commonplace instincts, which, aided by the cheerful temper that grew inevitably out of his physical well-being, did duty very respectably, and, to general acceptance, in lieu of a heart.
From “ The Scarlet Letter." — NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
1. Describe some one whom you know, making your description so clear and accurate that the person described can be recognized by your classmates.
2. Describe a little child, picturing her beauty of face and sweetness of manner.
3. Describe some one of your acquaintance as he appeared at the close of an exciting game of ball.
4. Describe some historical character who was possessed of physical strength and manly vigor, making the portrayal of these characteristics the point of your description.
5. Select the portrait of some well-known person from which to write a description. Study the features carefully, noting any characteristics that seem to distinguish this face from others, and mention them in your description. If the character is indicated in the face, speak of this.
6. As you listen to the descriptions of historical or other well-known characters given in class, write the names of those whom you recognize.
Established Customs in Composition As has already been said, the ability to use one's language correctly and effectively is an accomplishment for which every one should strive. In order to express one's self with ease and readiness, one must not only have something to say, and understand the laws that govern the use of language; but one must also have much practice in expressing thought in written language. Since the purpose of all composition, whether spoken or written, is the expression of thought so that it may be understood by others, it is important that the language be presented in a form that can be most readily understood. In the case of written composition it is of first importance that it be written so that it can be easily read. If a person's writing is illegible, his spelling poor, and he disregards the proper use of capitals and marks of punctuation, the quality of his composition will be poor; if indeed it be not altogether unintelligible because of his disregard of the laws that govern written language.
Certain customs have become established, and these govern the form to be used in all written language.
Capital Letters. — You have already learned the uses of capital letters, but as usage is still far from uniform in many
cases, and changes are continually being made, it may be well to note a few of the uses in which custom varies.
With regard to such words as river, mountain, and the names of other natural divisions, when used with proper nouns, usage varies. Some authorities write these words with capitals, while others prefer to write them with small letters except when they are used before the name and thus form a part of it. The tendency is toward simplicity, and hence the latter custom is growing in favor. We now most frequently see Grand street, Lincoln school, Mississippi river, Rocky mountains, strait of Dover; but Lake Michigan, Mount Washington, Cape Cod. State is written with a small letter except in the case of New York State, where state has the effect of being part of the name. Similarly we would write king of England, queen of Holland, prince of Sweden, but Emperor of Germany, Prince of Wales, President of the United States, King Edward.
When a name consists of more than one word it is the custom to begin only the most important words in the name with capitals, — the New York Central railway, the Boston store, St. Mary's hospital.
Punctuation. — Marks of punctuation, by indicating how words are related to a get a writer's meaning readily. By showing what words are grouped together, and how the groups are separated, these marks enable us to see at a glance how the writer arranged his ideas, and what meaning he wished to give.
Read the following paragraph without punctuation, then with it; and consider how much the marks of punctuation aid you in discovering the relation between the words, and in understanding the writer's meaning.