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chamber. Drawing the snowy curtain aside, Anna seated herself on
When the old clock in the corner of the hall struck nine, Arthur lighted his candle and hastened to his room. After closing the door, he took from his chest an old fowling-piece, and carefully examined it. Placing it on the table, he repaired to the window, and, parting the waving tendrils of the vine, looked out anxiously. Light clouds had been flying across the deep blue of the sky all the evening; but now, darker and darker they gathered in huge masses, till it was impossible to discern objects with any distinctness on the river, or even in the garden below. Arthur was a brave boy, but he hesitated at the thought of descending to the garden and there watching for the thief, for the increasing darkness made it impossible to see from the window; but his hesitation vanished, for he thought he faintly neard the sound of oars on the river, and snatching up his fowling-piece, and silently opening his door, he proceeded lightly along the hall. As he passed the clock, it struck ten, and its silvery sound somewhat startled him as he felt his way in the dark. Noiselessly he opened the hall door, and stepped out into the yard. Everything around was quiet, except the rust. ling of the branches as a gust passed by, and the sound of oars striking the waves, which he now heard with more distinctness. Arthur bounded lightly over the hedge of sweetbrier, and made his way through the dewy shrubbery to his garden. It was very dark, and as he hid behind a group of currant bushes and awaited the coming of the depredator, he could scarcely distinguish a single object. Suddenly the noise ceased on the river, and breathlessly Arthur watched through the gloom. He started as ne thought he perceived a tall form bending over near him ; but, looking more closely, he saw it was a large sunflower bowing its head in the breeze. Again ; did his imagination deceive him ? No; a tall Highlander, his tartan and plumes shaken by the wind, crept cautiously through the bushes and proceeded to fill a large bag with all that the increasing dark. ness would enable him to lay his hands on. Arthur's fears, if he had any, were now dispelled, so indignant did he feel as he saw the inroads made in his fine beds of vegetables, and he sprung behind the startled Highlander, and in a voice hoarse with rage, levelling his fowling-piece close to his head, threatened him with instant death if he made the least resistance. The frightened fellow, rendered confident and more daring by his former unmolested visit, had come totally unarmed save a dirk in his belt; but the surprise and consternation which his sudden detection had occasioned, not being able to see his enemy and with death so near, his presence of mind utterly forsook him, and he followed implicitly the commands of Arthur, who ordered him to take up the bag and to walk in front whether he should direct. Tremblingly the Highlander, not daring to move his head, for the loaded gun still threatened him with instant death, obeyed; and Arthur, following closely and silently through the garden and along the road, stopped
tot till he arrived at the camp in Cambridge, where he deliverod his prisoner to his father's hands. Proudly Captain Leslie gazed on his intrepid
boy, and many were the compliments that his courage obtained from the officers and soldiers. Nothing could exceed the anger and mortification which the Hignlander felt as he gazed in surprise on his youthful captor, and many were the oaths that fell from his lips, as he saw the scornful sneers and listened to the contemptuous remarks of the American soldiers as they passed him and looked upon his sturdy form, and compared it with the slight, graceful figure of Arthur Leslie. Arthur did not long remain at the camp, but hastened home to relieve the anxiety of his mother and sister, and just as the sun began to gild "tree, shrub, and flower,” Arthur with one bound sprang over the thicket, shaking large pearly dew-drops from the roses, and entered the portico just as his mother was descending the stairs from his room, where the bed, which evidently had not been occupied, had dreadfully alarmed her. Her anxiety was somewhat allayed by the appearance of Arthur ; and when at the breakfast table he related to her and to Anna the adventure of the night, Mrs. Leslie knew not whether to blame the temerity, or praise the courage which he undoubtedly had manifested. Rachel was delighted with her brave boy's conduct; and long afterward, when the war was ended and Captain Leslie had removed to the city, where Mrs. Leslie resumed her former station at the head of a splendid establishment, and the sweet Anna had cultivated, with her brother's assistance, the learning and accomplishments attainable by one in her situation, then did Rachel recount to her wondering hearers the story of Arthur's adventure with the Highlander.
Description, as defined by Webster, is “a representation of pames, natures, or properties, that give to another a view of the thing."
It is, in fine, a picture, delineated, not by lines, but by words; and it must be so presented as to convey a clear, definite, and exact semblance to the mind, such as the object described presents to the eye. Such a representation may be called a faithful description. Faithful descriptions, therefore, are faithful pictures. All definitions must be less perfect descriptions of a material thing, than a visible figure or delineation. But when a definition is expanded, so as to embrace not only all the particulars in which the object defined differs from other objects, but also those in which it resembles others of the same kind, such a definition, is, in fact, a description.
Owing to peculiar associations in the mind, and the difference in the habits of perception and observation, no two individuals would probably describe the same scene or the same object alike. This is particularly the case with vourg writers. Some, from a natural sluggishness of mind, will perceive few particulars worthy of notice, where others, of differen i temperament, will find the subject replete with interesting details, all worthy of regard.*
A few suggestions will now be presented, which will probably lead those who may use this book to think, and to use their eyes to some purpose, when called upon to give a written description of any sensible object These suggestions will be followed by a list of details, some one or more of which may always be noticed in a written description.
It will be noticed, that the object in presenting such a list is only, as has already been said, to suggest ideas, which the student himself is to mould as they may arise, and combine with what may spring spontaneously from his own mind.
To collect materials for a good description, there must be a devoted at tention to the bcauties of nature and to the scenes of social life. The mind will thereby be rendered susceptible and discriminative, acquiring sources of improvement which would otherwise be lost, while variety and copiousness of expression will at the same time be secured.
There are three great classes, under one of which all the varieties of description may be arranged. Under the first class are included all those subjects which are immediately under personal notice; which are actually present before our eyes. In the second class may be arranged all those which have been noticed, but have left only their pictures in the memory. The third class includes only those subjects which are purely imaginary. In the descriptions of all these classes, the object to be effected is one and the same; namely, to present to the reader a picture, easy and natural, lively in its character, and animated in its appearance; making those de tails the most prominent which would affect the beholder as most striking, and throwing, as it were, into the shade those circumstances which are designed to produce a subordinate impression. In producing such an effect, the writer should pay particular attention to the epithets † with which he designates particular objects, that he may render the impression, which he designs that they should convey, strong and durable. For this reason he cannot be too particular in the choice of his qualifying words, for they are sometimes more expressive than the objects themselves when presented in naked simplicity.
Thus, for instance, suppose we are describing a scene in a wood or forest; the following terms would appropriately describe the appearance of the scene: Dark, obscure, deep, dreary, gloomy, overcast, indistinct, dim, cloudy, dense, lurid, livid, &c.
*Or a summer's noon; the following terms will be found in most cases suitable : Bright, shining, clear, lucid, brilliant, dazzling, splendid, resplendent, sparkling, refulgent, ardent, conspicuous, clear, placid, &c.
Or a storm, or a cataract; the following terms will be found expressive: Harsh, discordant, roar, howl, hiss, crash, reverberate, dash, splash, mur. mur, growl, clamorous, confused, terrific, tremendous, thundering, &c.
There are many kinds of description, also, in which the following terms may not only, with considerable advantage, be interwoven, but the terms themselves, by the law of association, will snggest ideas; such as, placid calm, tranquil, motionless, peaceful, serene, restless, lazy, unruffled,
* See the “ Dialogue between a Tutor and his Pupils,” or page 8th. † See the article on epithets.
hushed, silent, voiceless, sleeping, breathless, transparent, clear, waveless engulphed, unmeasured, beautiful, mingled, crystal, golden, silvery, mag. nificent, breezeless, kindred, &c., &c., &c.
Acquaintance with the beauties of nature, particularly with those of the earth and the sky, and with the lights and shadows of life, must be considered as a great acquisition to any mind; and consequently the command of language, so requisite to embody and depicture the same with the glow and warmth which imagination lends to description, must be regarded as an object worthy of the highest regard by all who aim at being distin. guished as writers. *
In descriptions, the principal point to which to direct the attention is the selection of the circumstances. The scene, or the circumstance, should be brought with distinctness and fulness to the view. We should be placed, as it were, by the description in the midst of the group of particulars, and be made fully acquainted with all its peculiarities. That which is called truth to nature is effected by the skilful selection and ar. rangement of the circumstances, and constitutes the amplification of des. criptive writing. In some instances, especially where it is desirable that the description should be bold and striking, the enumeration of circum stances may be less full and minute.
In describing natural scenery, the student will find some
* Probably no writer has ever surpassed Sir Walter Scott in the beauty fidelity, and accuracy of his descriptions. The following extract, from Mr Morritt's "Memorandum," taken from Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter, Vol. III., page 30, exhibits his views, and the pains that he took to be accurate. Speaking of the visit of the great novelist at Rokeby, Mr. Morritt says: “] had many previous opportunities of testing the almost conscientious fidelity of his local descriptions; but I could not help being singularly struck with the lights which this visit threw on that characteristic of his compositions, The morning after he arrived, he said, “You have often given me materials for a romance; now I want a good robber's cave, ard an old church of the right sort. We rode out, and he found what he wanted in the old slate quarries of Brignal, and the ruined Abbey of Egglestone. I observed him noting down even the peculiar little wild flowers and herbs that accidentally grew around and on the side of a bold crag, near his intended cave of Guy Denzil; and could not help saying, that as he was not to be upon oath in his work, daisies, violets, and primroses would be as poetical as any of the humbler plants he was ecamining. I laughed, in short, at his scrupulousness; but I understood him when he replied, 'that in nature herself no two scenes are exactly alike ; and that whoever copied truly what was before his tyes, would possess the same variety in his descriptions, and exhibit appa rently an imagination as boundless as the range of nature in the scenes he recorded; whereas, whoever trusted to imagination, would soon find his own mind circumscribed and contracted to a few favorite images, and the repetition of these would sooner or later produce that very monotony and barrenness which had always haunted descriptive poetry in the hands of any but patient worshippers of truth. Besides which,' he said, 'local names aid peculiarities make a fictitious story look so much better in the face." In fact, from his boyish habits, he was but half satisfied with the most beau tiful scenery when he could not connect with it some local legend; and when I was forced sometimes to confess, with the knife-grinder, Story ! God bless you! I have none to tell, sir,' — he would laugh, and say, 'Then let us make one, - nothing so easy as to make a tradition."
aid in the following lists of particulars, which are here intra duced as suggestive of ideas, which he himself is to mould as they may arise, and combine with what may spring sponta neously from his own mind. *
Its principal water courses :
The nature of the hills, whether more or less rugged; the nature of the morasses, whether more or less practicable:
The rapidity and depth of the rivers; the nature of their fords, sluices, and piers; the state of the bridges, and their position: of the roads, and the necessary repairs; the reasons for preferring one road to another, which would lead to the same object, such as the ease of procuring subsist. esice, of travelling in security - the lateral communications opening from the great or main roads -the population of the villages, occupations of the inhabitants, the means of transportation, the chief commerce of the inhabitants, their industry, habits, and manners — the productions of the co intry, quantity and kind - the liquors, vinous or spirituous, with their effects on the inhabitants.
OF RIVERS: Their direction their course the nature of their beds, their breadth — their floods and times of drought; their meadows, and the marshes that intersect them; the mills upon their banks; the breadtb of their valleys - the hills and ridges which skirt them — the side op which are commanding heights - the tributary rivulets, and the ravines which open into the valley of the stream the distance between them; of what nature are the shrubs, the gullies, the brooks, the roads, &c.— the quality of the hedges, they are thin in poor soil, but in rich land they are hick, and formidable objects to the march of troops, &c.
CANALS. Their communication - the nature of the ground through which they are cut — the means of draining them, and of turning their courses their locks - the mode of destroying and of protecting them how their navigation may be obstructed or improved.
Mills often render water-courses fordable or not, at pleasure, by means of the water dammed up for their supply. When sand is of the ordinary
* These lists of particulars are taken, with slight alterations necessary to adapt them to the purposes of this work, from • Lallemand's Artillery Šervice,” article “ Reconnoitering.” They were original in a work entitled * L'aide memoire à l'usage des officiers d'artillerie de France,” par le General Gassendi.
From the dialogue between the tutor and his pupils, to which reference has already been made, the student will derive some hints upon “the art of sreing," or using his eyes aright. This dialogue, calculated as it is to awaken attention, and to fix habits of observation, is particularly recom mended to the careful perusal of the student, who would relieve his mind from the labors of composition. Habits of observation, attended with careful analysis, not only aid the mind in its search after ideas, but also direct it in a judicious selection of those which are afforded by association.