|it is the last of them. Sometimes it leaps suddenly upon its victims, like a Thug;|
5sometimes it lays a regular siege and creeps upon their citadel during a score of
years. And when the business is done, there is sore havoc made in other people's
lives, and a pin knocked out by which many subsidiary friendships hung together.
There are empty chairs, solitary walks, and single beds at night. Again, in taking away
our friends, death does not take them away utterly, but leaves behind a mocking,
10tragical, and soon intolerable residue, which must be hurriedly concealed. Hence
a whole chapter of sights and customs striking to the mind, from the pyramids of
Egypt to the gallows and hanging trees of medieval Europe. The poorest persons
have a bit of pageant going towards the tomb; memorial stones are set up over the
least memorable; and, in order to preserve some show of respect for what remains
15of our old loves and friendships, we must accompany it with much grimly ludicrous
ceremonial, and the hired undertaker parades before the door.
Although few things are spoken of with more fearful whisperings than this prospect
of death, few have less influence on conduct under healthy circumstances.
We have all heard of cities in South America built upon the side of fiery mountains,
20and how, in this tremendous neighbourhood, the inhabitants are not a jot more
impressed by the solemnity of mortal conditions than if they were delving* gardens
in the greenest corner of England. There are serenades and suppers and much gallantry
among the myrtles overhead; and meanwhile the foundation shudders underfoot,
the bowels of the mountain growl, and at any moment living ruin may leap
25sky-high into the moonlight, and tumble man and his merry-making in the dust. In
the eyes of very young people, and very dull old ones, there is something indescribably
reckless and desperate in such a picture. It seems not credible that respectable
married people, with umbrellas, should find appetite for a bit of supper within quite
a long distance of a fiery mountain; ordinary life begins to smell of high-handed
30debauch when it is carried on so close to a catastrophe; and even cheese and salad, it
seems, could hardly be relished in such circumstances without something like defiance
of the Creator. It should be a place for nobody but hermits dwelling in prayer
and maceration, or mere born-devils drowning care in perpetual carouse.
And yet, when one comes to think upon it calmly, the situation of these South
35American citizens forms only a very pale figure for the state of ordinary mankind.
This world itself, travelling blindly and swiftly in overcrowded space, among a million
other worlds travelling blindly and swiftly in contrary directions, may very well
come by a knock that would set it into explosions like a penny squib.1 And what,
pathologically looked at, is the human body with all its organs, but a mere bagful
40of petards?2 The least of these is as dangerous to the whole economy as the ship's
powder-magazine to the ship; and with every breath we breathe, and every meal
we eat, we are putting one or more of them in peril. Think with what a preparation
of spirit we should affront the daily peril of the dinner table: a deadlier spot than
any battlefield in history, where the far greater proportion of our ancestors have
45left their bones! What woman would ever be lured into marriage, so much more
dangerous than the wildest sea? And what would it be to grow old? For, after a certain
distance, every step we take in life we find the ice growing thinner below our
feet, and all around us and behind us we see our contemporaries going through.
1. Which of the following phrases does the speaker use to develop the notion that death "has no parallel" (line 3)?
2. The primary rhetorical function of the sentence "There are . . . at night" (line 8) is to
3. The two sentences in lines 4–7 contain all of the following EXCEPT
4. In the first paragraph, the speaker's primary purpose is to
5. In line 5, "it" refers to
6. The speaker uses the phrase "a whole chapter of sights and customs striking to the mind" (line 11) to refer to
7. Lines 17–18 contain all of the following EXCEPT
8. In lines 22–23, "serenades and suppers and much gallantry among the myrtles" most directly alludes to
9. The use of which rhetorical device is most in evidence in lines 22–25 ("There are serenades . . . in the dust")?
10. The function of the sentences in lines 22–25 ("There are serenades . . . in the dust") might best be described as
11. Which of the following best describes how paragraph 2 (lines 17–33) is developed?
12. In context, the speaker uses the phrase "with umbrellas" (line 28) to suggest that
13. For which of the following reasons does the speaker associate "hermits" (line 32) with "born-devils" (line 33)?
I. Neither puts value on their present existence
II. They lead unconventional lives
III. Both are oblivious to mortal dangers
14. The pronoun "them" (line 42) refers to
15. In the last paragraph of the passage (lines 34–48) the speaker uses all of the following rhetorical devices to characterize the perils awaiting us EXCEPT
16. In the passage, the speaker's primary focus is