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The second example is a description of external appearance, extracted from Prescott's “History of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain":

King Ferdinand was of the middle size. His complexion was fresh ; his eyes bright and animated ; his nose and mouth small and finely formed, and his teeth white; his forehead lofty and serene, with flowing hair of a bright chestnut. His manners were courteous, and his countenance seldom clouded by anything like spleen or melancholy. He was grave in speech and action, and had a marvellous dignity of presence. His whole demeanour, in fine, was truly that of a great king."

Here, the writer does little more than enumerate the several particulars of Ferdinand's appearance, viz., his height, complexion, features, hair, speech, action, and manner, and lastly, sums up with his whole demeanour. Though nothing is said of the king's morals or intellect, the passage fulfils its probable intention, which was to give a lively picture of his personal appearance.


Our next example is the description of a prospect; and is characterised by that vigour of delineation, and exquisite delicacy, and accuracy in choice of terms, for which its author is so justly celebrated :

“If I were to choose a spot from which the rising or setting sun could be seen to the greatest possible advantage, it would be that wild path winding round the foot of the high belt of semicircular rocks, called


Salisbury crags, and marking the verge of the steep descent which slopes down into the glen on the southeastern side of the city of Edinburgh. The prospect, in its general outline, commands a close-built, highpiled city, stretching itself out beneath in a form which, to a romantic imagination, may be supposed to represent that of a dragon ; now a noble arm of the sea, with its rocks, isles, distant shores, and boundary of mountains ; and now a fair and fertile champaign country, varied with hill, dale, and rock, and skirted by the picturesque ridge of the Pentland Mountains. But as the path gently circles around the base of the cliffs, the prospect, composed as it is of these enchanting and sublime objects, changes at every step, and presents them blended with, or divided from, each other in every possible variety which can gratify the eye and the imagination. When a piece of scenery so beautiful, yet so varied,—so exciting by its intricacy, and yet so sublime,- is lighted up by the tints of morning or of evening, and displays all that variety of shadowy depth exchanged with partial brilliancy, which gives character even to the tamest of landscapes, the effect approaches near to Enchantment.”—Sir W. Scott.


The following is the description of the moral character of Oliver Cromwell, by Smollett :

“His character was formed of an amazing conjunction of enthusiasm, hypocrisy, and ambition. He was possessed of courage and resolution that overlooked all dangers, and saw no difficulties. He dived into the

characters of mankind with wonderful sagacity, whilst he concealed his own purposes under the impenetrable shield of dissimulation. He reconciled the most atrocious crimes to the most rigid notions of religious obligations. From the severest exercises of devotion he relaxed into the most ludicrous and idle buffoonery. He preserved the dignity and distance of his character in the midst of the coarsest familiarity. He was cruel and tyrannical from policy, just and temperate from inclination ; perplexed and despicable in his discourse, clear and consummate in his designs; ridiculous in his reveries, respectable in his conduct: in a word, the strongest compound of villany and virtue, baseness and magnanimity, absurdity and good sense, that we find upon record in the annals of mankind.”

Here, again, the words in italics show the main features of the character. It is to be observed, that the historian first notes the general disposition, and then proceeds to support his opinion by enumerating particulars. The first-mentioned qualities seem to form the basis of the character, and the latter part

of the passage shows the result of those qualities, the whole concluding with a general view of the subject.


The following description of a town in France is extracted from Mr. M‘Culloch's “Geographical Dictionary.” It consists merely of an enumeration of particulars.

“ Château Thierry is a town in France, in the department of Aisne, situated on the Marne, twentyfive miles south of Soissons, and having a population of 4761. It is built on the declivity of a hill, the summit of which is surmounted by its ancient castle, a vast mass of thick walls, towers, and turrets. It has a considerable suburb on the left bank of the Marne, the communication between them being kept up by a handsome stone bridge of three arches. It has a court of primary jurisdiction, a communal college, an establishment for the spinning of cotton, and tanneries. The famous poet, La Fontaine, not less original by his character and conduct than by his talent and genius, was born here on the 8th July, 1661. The house which he inhabited is still preserved ; and a

. marble statue was erected to his memory on the end of the bridge in 1824. Château Thierry suffered considerably during the campaign of 1814."


The last example is the description of a piece of mechanism, which is given on the same principle as above, viz., enumeration; the parts, actions, &c., of the subject, being stated in their proper order.

“ The automaton coach and horses constructed for Louis XIV., when a child, and described by M. Camus, is exceedingly curious. This consisted of a small coach, drawn by two horses, in which was the figure of a lady with a footman and page behind. On being placed at the extremity of a table of determinate size, the coachman smacked his whip, and the horses immediately set out, moving their legs in a very natural

When the carriage reached the edge of the table, it turned at a right angle, and proceeded along that edge. When it arrived opposite to the place



where the king was seated, it stopped, and the page getting down, opened a door, upon which the lady alighted, having in her hand a petition, which she presented with a curtsy. After waiting some time, she again curtsied, and re-entered the carriage; the page then resumed his place, the coachman whipped his horses, which began to move; the footman running after, jumped up behind, and the carriage drove on.”

The following subjects are intended as exercises in descriptive writing :


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An evening party. Materials :-1. The society. 2. Topics of conversation ; scientific, literary, &c. 3. Discussion of the passing news. 4. Music; singing, playing. 5. Hour of departure, weather on the return home, &c.


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A bathing-place. Materials : -1. The situation. 2. Distance from the capital. 3. The size. 4. The population and their pursuits. 5. The visitors, where from, and their numbers. 6. The general amusements. 7. The walks in the vicinity. 8. The public buildings, churches, institutions. 9. The season when most frequented, &c.




A newspaper. Materials : -1. The name and reputation. 2. Its circulation. 3. Advertisements. 4. General



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