« AnteriorContinuar »
exploring even the retreats of misery. 18. He who wishes to understand the condition of mankind in former ages must proceed on the same principle. 19. If he attends only to public transactions, to wars, congresses, and debates, his studies will be as unprofitable as the travels of those imperial, royal, and serene sovereigns who form their judgment of our island from having gone in state to a few fine sights and from having held formal conferences with a few great officers.
It should be noted that, while making the comparison between the effect of historical reading and the effect of foreign travel, Macaulay also employs a contrast. The good effects as seen in the thorough student and traveller (sentences 2 to 5 and 12 to 18) are in contrast with the bad as seen in the careless or hasty student and traveller (sentences 6 to 11, and 19). Whenever an idea is developed both positively and negatively, as in the last two quotations, the result is, of course, a contrast. This method of developing ideas by comparison and contrast is used in various ways, but those just indicated are the most common. In the following we gain a clearer idea both of Whittier and of Franklin by being told in what respects they were alike and in what respects they differed. In this, no attempt is made to conceal the method employed. It is announced in the very first sentence, the topic statement.
Unlike as Whittier and Franklin were in many respects, they were alike in others. Both had the sympathy with the lowly which comes of early similar experience. Both learned a handicraft, for Franklin set type and worked a printingpress, and Whittier made slippers. To both of them litera
ture was a means, rather than an end in itself. Verse to Whittier, and prose to Franklin, was a weapon to be used in the good fight. In Whittier's verse, as in Franklin's prose, there was the same pithy directness which made their words go home to the hearts of the plain people, whom they both understood and represented. To Franklin was given the larger life and the greater range of usefulness; but Whittier always did with all his might the duty that lay before him. While Franklin gained polish by travel and by association with citizens of the world, Whittier was the only one of the greater American authors who never went to Europe, and he kept to the end not a little of his rustic simplicity.
While Whittier was practical, as becomes a New Englander, he had not the excessive common sense which characterizes Franklin, and he lacked also Franklin's abundant humor. But the poet was not content, as Franklin was, with showing that honesty is the best policy, and that in the long run vice leads to ruin; he scourged evil with the wrath of a Hebrew prophet. Except one or another of his ballads, none of his poems was written for its own sake; they were nearly all intended to further a cause he held dear, or to teach a lesson he thought needful.
BRANDER MATTHEWS: St. Nicholas, 22:773.
23. Assignments on Development by Comparison and Contrast.
A. Point out the comparisons and contrasts by which the topic idea is developed in the following selections.
1. Of ghosts I have seldom dreamed, so far as I can remember; in fact I have never dreamed of the kind of ghosts that we are all more or less afraid of, though I have dreamed rather often of the spirits of departed friends. But I once dreamed of dying, and the reader, who has
never died yet, may be interested to know what it is like. According to this experience of mine, which I do not claim is typical, it is like a fire kindling in an air-tight stove with paper and shavings; the gathering smoke and gases suddenly burst into flame, and puff the door out, and all is over. W. D. HOWELLS: Harper's Magazine, 90: 840.
2. The vast results obtained by science are won by no mystical faculties, by no mental processes, other than those which are practised 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 scrupulous exactness the methods which we all habitually and at every moment use carelessly.
- HUXLEY: Lay Sermons, 78.
3. You of the North have had drawn for you with a master's hand the picture of your returning armies. You have heard how, in the pomp and circumstance of war, they came back to you, marching with proud and victorious tread, reading their glory in a nation's eyes! Will you bear with me while I tell you of another army that sought its home at the close of the late war- an army that marched home in defeat and not in victory, in pathos and not in splendor, but in glory that equalled yours, and to hearts as loving as ever welcomed heroes home? Let me picture to you the footsore Confederate soldier, as, buttoning up in his faded gray jacket the parole which was to bear testimony to his chil
dren of his fidelity and faith, he turned his face southward from Appomattox, in April, 1865. Think of him as, ragged, half-starved, heavy-hearted, enfeebled by want and wounds, having fought to exhaustion, he surrenders his gun, wrings the hands of his comrades in silence, and lifting his tearstained and pallid face for the last time to the graves that dot the old Virginia hills, pulls his gray cap over his brow and begins the slow and painful journey. What does he find let me ask you, who went to your homes eager to find in the welcome you had justly earned, full payment for four years' sacrifice- what does he find when, having followed the battle-stained cross against overwhelming odds, dreading death not half so much as surrender, he reaches the home he left so prosperous and beautiful ? He finds his house in ruins, his farm devastated, his slaves free, his stock killed, his barns empty, his trade destroyed, his money worthless; his social system, feudal in its magnificence, swept away; his people without law or legal status, his comrades slain, and the burdens of others heavy on his shoulders. Crushed by defeat, his very traditions are gone; without money, credit, employment, material, or training; and beside all this, confronted with the gravest problem that ever met human intelligence the establishing of a status for the vast body of his liberated slaves. -GRADY: Speeches.
4. The Life of Johnson is assuredly a great, a very great work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, Shakespeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers. He has no second. He has distanced all his competitors so decidedly that it is not worth while to place them. Eclipse is first, the rest nowhere. - MACAULAY: Boswell's Life of Johnson.
5. A constitutional statesman is in general a man of common opinions and uncommon abilities. The reason is obvious. When we speak of a free government, we mean a government in which the sovereign power is divided, in which a single decision is not absolute, where argument has an office. The essence of the "gouvernement des avocats," as the Emperor Nicholas called it, is that you must persuade so many persons. The appeal is not to the solitary decision. of a single statesman; not to Richelieu or Nesselrode alone in his closet; but to the jangled mass of men with a thousand pursuits, a thousand interests, a thousand various habits. Public opinion, as it is said, rules; and public opinion is the opinion of the average man. Fox used to say of Burke: "Burke is a wise man; but he is wise too soon." The average man will not bear this. He is a cool, common person, with a considerate air, with figures in his mind, with his own business to attend to, with a set of ordinary opinions arising from and suited to ordinary life. He can't bear novelty or originalities. He says: "Sir, I never heard such a thing before in my life"; and he thinks this a reductio ad absurdum. You may see his taste by the reading of which he approves. Is there a more splendid monument of talent and industry than the Times? No wonder that the average man - that any one - believes in it. As Carlyle observes: "Let the highest intellect able to write epics try to write such a leader for the morning newspapers, it cannot do it; the highest intellect will fail.” But did you ever see anything there you had never seen before? Out of the million articles that everybody has read, can any one person trace a single marked idea to a single article? Where are the deep theories, and the wise axioms, and the everlasting sentiments which the writers of the most influential publication in the world have been the first to communicate to an ignorant species? Such writers