The following men were born in the months preceding their names :

January: Franklin, Lee
February: Washington, Longfellow
March : Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston
April : Jefferson, Irving
May : Emerson, Grady
June: Jefferson Davis, Irwin Russell
July : Farragut, Hawthorne
August: Key, Holmes
September: James Fenimore Cooper, O. Henry
October: Bancroft, Roosevelt
November: Bryant, Mark Twain
December: Whittier, Joel Chandler Harris

Write a biographical sketch of one of the two men whose birth month is the same as your own.

Use these paragraph topics:

1. Something interesting about

The facts.
3. Summary of characteristics.




The Three Kinds Distinguished.

The three chief kinds of composition are description, narration, and exposition. They are three companions who are fond of one another's company and are rarely found separate and alone. You probably illustrate all three of them every day of your life. When you talk about something that you have seen and try to make others see it, you describe it; that is, you give a description of it. When you tell of some incident, or happening, you narrate it; that is, you reproduce it by narration. When you try to make plain to anyone the meaning of a word or the method of a game, you explain it; that is, you give an explanation, or exposition, of it. The two words mean the same thing, but in books on composition exposition is used more often than explanation. You see at once that description, narration, and exposition are not only closely related but are necessary in almost every composition that we write. Description deals with objects, narration with incidents, and exposition with meanings and methods.

How the Three Work Together.

Read the following selection carefully and notice how description, narration, and exposition have joined forces to produce a single result. Remember that a "depth charge” is a bomb containing a high explosive. When thrown overboard, it goes off under water and will damage or destroy a submarine two hundred feet away. A "Matthew Walker knot" is a knot made by interlacing the strands at the end of a rope. The Finland is a United States army chartered transport; she was torpedoed October 28, 1917. An American naval officer tells the story:

We were convoying the Finland, and I was in the wardroom at about 9:20 A.M., when I heard the day-time sub-signal: six blasts on the whistle. I think I couldn't have been more than twenty seconds getting on deck.

[ocr errors]

“What's wrong?” I asked the first jackies I ran into. "Finland's torpedoed," they said.

I looked at her. For quite a bit, you couldn't have told that anything had happened to her, but the convoy was running around, dropping depth charges. The flagship signalled us that our job would be looking after survivors – it wasn't a case where running away would help, and, besides, there was a chance — we could see it at once - of saving the transport.

A good deal of stuff had been flung overboard, and, as I watched, more came over. Then they began to get the boats off her there was a considerable sea running and most of them swamped. It wasn't a pretty sight by a long shot.

We started in through the wreckage and worked till noon, picking up twenty-six men, but it was the toughest kind of work, owing to the roughness of the water; we were pitching so that it was next to impossible to get anybody aboard. We had to go slow, and the result was that most of the rescued had been too long in the water. Some of them couldn't raise an arm to show us where they were; a lot were doubled up with cramps, and, whereas nearly all began by shouting for help, pretty soon- in about half an hour, I should say there wasn't a sound to be heard from them.

All of a sudden, we sighted a fellow about seventy yards away from us, practically done for and giving in. He had a life-preserver on, and that's all that was keeping him afloat; there was a moment when it was doubtful whether there was any life left in him at all. Well, there followed the best piece of rescue-work that I've ever


That man was to windward of us, and of course we were drifting faster than he was: every second increased the distance between us and lessened his slim chances, and there was no time to try to bring the ship around. Ensign English, a reserve officer, stripped and grabbed a heaving-line - a heaving-line is seven-eighths of an inch thick — and jumped into the high sea of icy water.


We thought of course he'd not live to reach the chap. I never saw harder swimming. The fellow from the Finland was a good eighty yards away by now, but English fought through about seventy yards of it, fighting his way over the huge waves - and just there he found that the line wasn't long enough.

What did he do? He swam back back to the ship again got a double-length rope and went after that fellow a second time! Yes, sir. And he got him — God knows how, but he got him !

- , Chucked about in those waves, he made a noose with two Matthew Walker knots, so it wouldn't slip, and put it around the Finland man and drew it fast, signalled to us to haul, and then beat his way back with one hand while he helped hold up the dying man's head with the other.

We were pitching heavily. Now our propellers would be clear, and now our prow would be fourteen feet out of water. Once the pair of them were alongside, it took us nearly half an hour to get them aboard. By that time, English was about as nearly dead as the fellow he'd saved. But he had saved him at what risk and with what labor you can see from what I've told you and now, here's the joke: when we got that rescued man ashore, it turned out that all English's danger and heroism had been undertaken for a spy!

- REGINALD WRIGHT KAUFFMAN: Our Navy at Work (1918).

Is this selection descriptive or narrative or expository? It is plainly all three, but it is chiefly narrative. A story is told, and stories belong to narration. But there are descriptive passages in it. I can see the men in the water; I can see the poor fellow who seemed beyond rescue; and I can see Ensign English rescuing him. There must be description, then, for it is description that enables us to see an object when we are not present. But there is exposition also, for the entire selection is an attempt to explain how our Navy worked. The book from which the selection is taken might well be called an example of description and narration in the service of exposition.


But to understand the art of description we must try to separate it from narration and exposition, and study it by itself, though we shall not often have to use it by itself.

Description of a Flower.

Here is a good description of the Virginia Creeper, a flower which grows almost everywhere. Narration and exposition are almost entirely excluded:

The name Woodbine is very frequently misapplied to this high climbing or trailing vine with its numerous tendrils. It is commonly confused with the Poison Ivy, but can be easily distinguished by its five-parted leaf, while the leaf of the latter is threeparted. The short-stemmed leaflets are elliptical in shape with tapering points, and the outer half is coarsely toothed. The surface is usually smooth, and the color is dark green above and lighter underneath. The insignificant yellowish green flowers grow in irregular, broadly branching clusters. These are succeeded in the fall by small, round, dark blue berries. At this season, the foliage turns to a beautiful red or scarlet and is very attractive and greatly admired. The Virginia Creeper sprawls over everything within its reach, and is extensively cultivated about the porches and fences of suburban homes. The berry is not edible. This vine is common in woods and thickets from Quebec to Manitoba, Florida, Texas and Mexico.

- FREDERIC WILLIAM STACK: Wild Flowers Every Child Should Know.

« ElőzőTovább »