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THE FORMAL DESCRIPTION OF
512. The Formal Description is intended to depict the character, actions, and peculiarities of men distinguished for their public services or exalted position.
513. RULE. A complete Description will require attention to the following:
1. The birth, parentage, age, education, and associates of the individual.
2. The person, manners, gait, deportment. 3. The actions and permanent effects.
4. The character, disposition, principles, and public and private habits.
It is not necessary that the precise order of the preceding be observed, nor that all the particulars be dwelt upon. A writer will be guided by his own taste, the extent of his materials, and the im
portance of his object.
514. Mode of Exercise.
2. Reproduction of the whole from recollection. 3. A Comparison between your own and the example.
515. MODEL.- EDWARD III.
1. Edward's constitution had been impaired by the fatigues of his youth, so that he began to feel the infirmities of old
age, before they approach the common course of nature; and now he was seized with a malignant fever, attended with eruptions, that soon put a period to his life. When his distemper became so violent, that no hope of his recovery remained, all his attendants forsook him, as a bankrupt no longer able to requite their services. The unworthy Alice, waiting until she perceived him in the agonies of death, was so inhuman as to strip him of his rings and jewels, and leave him without one domestic to close his eyes, or perform the last offices to his breathless corse. In this deplorable condition, bereft of comfort and assistance, the mighty Edward lay expiring, when a priest not quite so savage as the rest of his domestics, approached his bed; and, finding him still breathing, began to administer some comfort to his soul. Edward had not yet lost all perception, when he found himself thus abandoned and forlorn, in the last moments of his life. He was just able to express a deep sense of sorrow and contrition for the errors of his conduct, and died pronouncing the name of Jesus.
2. Such was the piteous and obscure end of Edward the Third, undoubtedly one of the greatest princes that ever swayed the sceptre of England; whether we respect him as a warrior, a lawgiver, a monarch, or a man. He possessed all the romantic spirit of Alexander; the penetration, the fortitude, the polished manners of Julius; the liberality, the munificence, the wisdom of Augustus Cæsar. He was tall, majestic, finely shaped, with a piercing eye, and aquiline visage. He excelled all his contemporaries in feats of arms and personal address. He was courteous, affable, and eloquent; of a free deportment, and agreeable conversation; and had the art of commanding the affection of his subjects, without seeming to solicit popularity. The love of glory was certainly the predominant passion of Edward, to the gratification of which he did not scruple to sacrifice the feelings of humanity, the lives of his subjects, and the interests of his country. And nothing could have induced or enabled his eople to bear the load of taxes with which they were encum
bered in his reign, but the love and admiration of his person, the fame of his victories, and the excellent laws and regulations which the parliament enacted with his advice and con
516. In the following Example, 1. Enumerate the points of character which the Author has especially exhibited.
2. Reproduce the Example from recollection. 3. Institute a Comparison between the two.
517. MODEL-NAPOLEON BONAPARTE,
1. To bring together in a narrower compass what seem to us the great leading features of the intellectual and moral character of Napoleon Bonaparte, we may remark, that his intellect was distinguished by rapidity of thought. He understood by a glance what most men, and superior men, could learn only by study. He darted to a conclusion rather by intuition than by reasoning. In war, which was the only subject of which he was master, he seized in an instant on the great points of his own and his enemy's positions; and combined at once the movements by which an overpowering force might be thrown with unexpected fury on a vulnerable part of the hostile line, and the fate of an army be decided in a day. He anderstood war as a science; but his mind was too bold, rapid, and irrepressible, to be enslaved by the technics of his profession. He found the old armies fighting by rule; and ae discovered the true characteristic of genius, which, without despising rules, knows when and how to break them. He understood thoroughly the immense moral power which is gained by originality and rapidity of operation. He astonished and paralysed his enemies by his unforeseen and impetuous as saults, by the suddenness with which the storm of battle burst
upon them; and whilst giving to his soldiers the advantages of modern discipline, breathed into them, by his quick and decisive movements, the enthusiasm of ruder ages. This power of disheartening the foe, and of spreading through his own ranks a confidence and exhilarating courage, which made war a pastime, and seemed to make victory sure, distinguished Napoleon in an age of uncommon military talent, and was one main instrument of his future power.
2. Such was Napoleon Bonaparte. But some will say, he was still a great man. This we mean not to deny. But we would have it understood, that there are various kinds or orders of greatness, and that the highest did not belong to Bonaparte. There are different orders of greatness. Among these, the first rank is unquestionably due to moral greatness or magnanimity; to that sublime energy by which the soul, smitten with the love of virtue, binds itself indissolubly, for life and for death, to truth and duty; espouses as its own the interests of human nature; scorns all meanness and defies all peril; hears in its own conscience a voice louder than threatenings and thunders; withstands all the powers of the universe, which would sever it from the cause of freedom, virtue, and religion; reposes an unfaltering trust in God, in the darkest hour, and is ever ready to be offered up on the altar of its country or of mankind. Of this moral greatness, which throws all other forms of greatness into obscurity, we see not a trace or spark in Napoleon. Though clothed with the power of a God, the thought of consecrating himself to the introduction of a new and higher era, to the exaltation of the character and condition of his race, seems never to have dawned on his mind. The spirit of disinterestedness and self-sacrifice seems never to have waged a moment's war with self-will and ambition. His ruling passions were singularly at variance with magnanimity. Moral greatness has too much simplicity, is too unostentatious, too self-subsistent, and enters into others' interests with too much heartiness, to live a day for what
Napoleon always lived, to make itself the theme, and gaze, and wonder of a dazzled world.
3. Next to Morals, comes Intellectual greatness, or genius in the highest sense of that word; and by this, we mean that sublime capacity of thought, through which the soul, smitten with the love of the true and the beautiful, essays to compre hend the universe, soars into the heavens, penetrates the earth, penetrates itself, questions the past, anticipates the future, traces out the general and all comprehending laws of nature, binds together by innumerable affinities and relations all the objects of its knowledge, and, not satisfied with what is finite, frames to itself ideal excellence, loveliness, and grandeur. This is the greatness which belongs to philosophers, inspired poets, and to the master spirits in the fine arts.
4. Next comes the greatness of action; and by this we mean the sublime power of conceiving and executing bold and extensive plans; constructing and bringing to bear on a mighty object a complicated machinery of means, energies, and arrangements, and accomplishing great outward effects. To this head belongs the greatness of Bonaparte, and that he possessed it, we need not prove, and none will be hardy enough to deny. A man who raised himself from obscurity to a throne, who changed the face of the world, who made himself felt through powerful and civilised nations, who sent the terror of his name across seas and oceans, whose will was pronounced and feared as destiny, whose donations were crowns, whose antechambers was thronged by submissive princes, who broke down the awful barrier of the Alps, and made them a highway, and whose fame was spread beyond the boundaries of civilization to the steppes of the Cossack, and the desert of the Arab; a man, who has left this record of himself in history, has taken out of our hands the question whether he shall be called great. All must concede to him a sublime power of action, an energy equal to great effects.