Influencing By Exposition. Part 3
In philosophy the contemplations of man do either penetrate unto God, or are circumferred to nature, or are reflected or reverted upon himself. Out of which several inquiries there do arise three knowledges: divine philosophy, natural philosophy, and human philosophy or humanity. For all things are marked and stamped with this triple character, of the power of God, the difference of nature, and the use of man.
- Lord Bacon, The Advancement of Learning.1
Division differs only from analysis in that analysis follows the inherent divisions of a subject, as illustrated in the foregoing passage, while division arbitrarily separates the subject for convenience of treatment, as in the following none-too-logical example:
For civil history, it is of three kinds; not unfitly to be compared with the three kinds of pictures or images. For of pictures or images, we see some are unfinished, some are perfect, and some are defaced. So of histories we may find three kinds, memorials, perfect histories, and antiquities; for memorials are history unfinished, for the first or rough drafts of history; and antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.
1 Quoted in The Working Principles of Rhetoric, J. F. Genung.
- Lord Bacon, The Advancement of Learning.1
Generalization states a broad principle, or a general truth, derived from examination of a considerable number of individual facts. This synthetic exposition is not the same as argumentative generalization, which supports a general contention by citing instances in proof. Observe how Holmes begins with one fact, and by adding another and another reaches a complete whole. This is one of the most effective devices in the public speaker's repertory.
Take a hollow cylinder, the bottom closed while the top remains open, and pour in water to the height of a few inches. Next cover the water with a flat plate or piston, which fits the interior of the cylinder perfectly; then apply heat to the water, and we shall witness the following phenomena. After the lapse of some minutes the water will begin to boil, and the steam accumulating at the upper surface will make room for itself by raising the piston slightly. As the boiling continues, more and more steam will be formed, and raise the piston higher and higher, till all the water is boiled away, and nothing but steam is left in the cylinder. Now this machine, consisting of cylinder, piston, water, and fire, is the steam-engine in its most elementary form. For a steam-engine may be defined as an apparatus for doing work by means of heat applied to water; and since raising such a weight as the piston is a form of doing work, this apparatus, clumsy and inconvenient though it may be, answers the definition precisely.2
Reference to Experience is one of the most vital principles in exposition - as in every other form of discourse.
1 Quoted in The Working Principles of Rhetoric, J. F. Genung. 2 G. C. V. Holmes, quoted in Specimens of Exposition, H. Lamont.
"Reference to experience, as here used, means reference to the known. The known is that which the listener has seen, heard, read, felt, believed or done, and which still exists in his consciousness - his stock of knowledge. It embraces all those thoughts, feelings and happenings which are to him real. Reference to Experience, then, means coming into the listener's life.1
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.
- Thomas Henry Huxley, Lay Sermons.
Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth, that are written down old with all the characters of age? Have you not a moist eye? a dry hand? a yellow cheek? a white beard? a decreasing leg? an increasing belly? is not your voice broken? your wind short? your chin double? your wit single? and every part about you blasted with antiquity? and will you yet call yourself young? Pie, fie, fie, Sir John!
- Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Finally, in preparing expository material ask yourself these questions regarding your subject:
1 Effective Speaking, Arthur Edward Phillips. This work covers the preparation of public speech in a very helpful way.
What is it, and what is it not? What is it like, and unlike? What are its causes, and effects? How shall it be divided? With what subjects is it correlated? What experiences does it recall? What examples illustrate it?
Questions And Exercises
1. What would be the effect of adhering to any one of the forms of discourse in a public address?
2. Have you ever heard such an address?
3. Invent a series of examples illustrative of the distinctions made on pages 232 and 233.
4. Make a list of ten subjects that might be treated largely, if not entirely, by exposition.
5. Name the six standards by which expository writing should be tried.
6. Define any one of the following: (a) storage battery; (b) "a free hand;" (c) sail boat; (d) "The Big Stick;" (e) nonsense; (f) "a good sport;" (g) short-story; (h) novel; (i) newspaper; (j) politician; (k) jealousy; (l) truth; (m) matinee girl; (n) college honor system; (o) modish; (p) slum; (q) settlement work; (r) forensic
7. Amplify the definition by antithesis.
8. Invent two examples to illustrate the definition (question 6).
9. Invent two analogies for the same subject (question 6).
10. Make a short speech based on one of the following: (a) wages and salary; (b) master and man; (c) war and peace; (d) home and the boarding house; (e) struggle and victory; (f) ignorance and ambition.
11. Make a ten-minute speech on any of the topics named in question 6, using all the methods of exposition already named.
12. Explain what is meant by discarding topics collateral and subordinate to a subject.
13. Rewrite the jury-speech on page 224.
14. Define correlation.
15. Write an example of "classification," on any political, social, economic, or moral issue of the day.
16. Make a brief analytical statement of Henry W. Grady's "The Race Problem," page 36.
17. By what analytical principle did you proceed? (See page 225.)
18. Write a short, carefully generalized speech from a large amount of data on one of the following subjects: (a) The servant girl problem; (b) cats; (c) the baseball craze; (d) reform administrations; (e) sewing societies; (f) coeducation; (g) the traveling salesman.
19. Observe this passage from Newton's "Effective Speaking:"
"That man is a cynic. He sees goodness nowhere. He sneers at virtue, sneers at love; to him the maiden plighting her troth is an artful schemer, and he sees even in the mother's kiss nothing but an empty conventionality."
Write, commit and deliver two similar passages based on your choice from this list: (a) "the egotist;" (6) "the sensualist;" (c) "the hypocrite;" (d) "the timid man;" (e) "the joker;" (f)"the flirt;" (g) "the ungrateful woman;" (h) "the mournful man." In both cases use the principle of "Reference to Experience."
20. Write a passage on any of the foregoing characters in imitation of the style of Shakespeare's characterization of Sir John Falstaff, page 227.