By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language - Word-Study and Composition & Rhetoric
Author: Cody, Sherwin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language - Word-Study and Composition & Rhetoric" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Language = USA English.  Characters with { } around them show those added
as there are some mistakes in the book & for other reasons & ¤¬ִªЪđəפּזłһ$
show the extras of #-.abdegilns.  (I changed mathematical & meter (rhythmic
arrangement of syllables in verse) but maybe they are correct and the
others are wrong).  I did not change _Shak{e}spe{a}re, mortgagəor_ &
some words in lists.  Broad _a_ has 1 dot before & 1 under instead of
2 dots under it & the character ұ should have its line over the letter y.
This arrow sign ‎ after a word shows that the next 1 should start the
next column.  “Special SYSTEM Edition” brought from frontispiece.
The 2nd. book of “Composition & Rhetoric” is also in this file.



Special  S Y S T E M  Edition


The Old Greek Press
_Chicago New{ }York Boston_

_Revised Edition_.



_Note_.  The thanks of the author are due to Dr. Edwin H. Lewis, of the
Lewis Institute, Chicago, and to Prof. John F. Genung, Ph. D., of Amherst
College, for suggestions made after reading the proof of this series.








CHAPTER III. WORD-BUILDING———Rules and Applications




The Art of Writing and Speaking the English Language


If there is a subject of really universal interest and utility,
it is the art of writing and speaking one's own language effectively.
It is the basis of culture, as we all know; but it is infinitely more
than that: it is the basis of business.  No salesman can sell anything
unless he can explain the merits of his goods in _effective_ English
(among our people), or can write an advertisement equally effective,
or present his ideas, and the facts, in a letter.  Indeed, the way
we talk, and write letters, largely determines our success in life.

Now it is well for us to face at once the counter-statement that the
most ignorant and uncultivated men often succeed best in business,
and that misspelled, ungrammatical advertisements have brought in
millions of dollars.  It is an acknowledged fact that our business
circulars and letters are far inferior in correctness to those of Great
Britain; yet they are more effective in getting business.  As far as
spelling is concerned, we know that some of the masters of literature
have been atrocious spellers and many suppose that when one can sin in
such company, sinning is, as we might say, a “beauty spot”, a defect in
which we can even take pride.

Let us examine the facts in the case more closely.  First of all, language
is no more than a medium; it is like air to the creatures of the land or
water to fishes.  If it is perfectly clear and pure, we do not notice it
any more than we notice pure air when the sun is shining in a clear sky,
or the taste of pure cool water when we drink a glass on a hot day.  Unless
the sun is shining, there is no brightness; unless the water is cool, there
is no refreshment.  The source of all our joy in the landscape, of the
luxuriance of fertile nature, is the sun and not the air.  Nature would be
more prodigal in Mexico than in Greenland, even if the air in Mexico were
as full of soot and smoke as the air of Pittsburg{h}, or loaded with the
acid from a chemical factory.  So it is with language.  Language is merely
a medium for thoughts, emotions, the intelligence of a finely wrought
brain, and a good mind will make far more out of a bad medium than a poor
mind will make out of the best.  A great violinist will draw such music
from the cheapest violin that the world is astonished.  However is that any
reason why the great violinist should choose to play on a poor violin; or
should one say nothing of the smoke nuisance in Chicago because more light
and heat penetrate its murky atmosphere than are to be found in cities only
a few miles farther north?  The truth is, we must regard the bad spelling
nuisance, the bad grammar nuisance, the inártistic and rambling language
nuisance, precisely as we would the smoke nuisance, the sewer-gas nuisance,
the stock-yards' smell nuisance.  Some dainty people prefer pure air and
correct language; but we now recognize that purity is something more than
an esthetic fad, that it is essential to our health and well-being, and
therefore it becomes a matter of universal public interest, in language
as well as in air.

There is a general belief that while bad air may be a positive evil
influence, incorrect use of language is at most no more than a negative
evil: that while it may be a good thing to be correct, no special harm
is involved in being incorrect.  Let us look into this point.

While language as the medium of thought may be compared to air as the
medium of the sun's influence, in other respects it is like the skin of
the body; a scurvy skin shows bad blood within, and a scurvy language shows
inaccurate thought and a confused mind.  And as a disease once fixed on the
skin reacts and poisons the blood in turn as it has first been poisoned by
the blood, so careless use of language if indulged reacts on the mind to
make it permanently and increasingly careless, illogical, and inaccurate
in its thinking.

The ordinary person will probably not believe this, because he conceives
of good use of language as an accomplishment to be learned from books,
a prim system of genteel manners to be put on when occasion demands,
a sort of superficial education in the correct thing, or, as the boys
would say, “the proper caper.”  In this, however, he is mistaken.
Language which expresses the thought with strict logical accuracy is
correct language, and language which is sufficiently rich in its resources
to express thought fully, in all its lights and bearings, is effective
language.  If the writer or speaker has a sufficient stock of words and
forms at his disposal, he has only to use them in a strictly logical way
and with sufficient fulness to be both correct and effective.  If his
mind can always be trusted to work accurately, he need not know a word
of grammar except what he has imbibed unconsciously in getting his stock
of words and expressions.  Formal grammar is purely for critical purposes.
It is no more than a standard measuring stick by which to try the work
that has been done and find out if it is imperfect at any point.  Of course
constant correction of inaccuracies schools the mind and puts it on its
guard so that it will be more careful the next time it attempts expression;
but we cannot avoid the conclusion that if the mind lacks material, lacks
knowledge of the essential elements of the language, it should go to the
original source from which it got its first supply, namely to reading and
hearing that which is acknowledged to be correct and sufficient―as the
child learns from its mother.  All the scholastic and analytic grammar in
the world will not enrich the mind in language to any appreciable extent.

And now we may consider another objector, who says, “I have studied
grammar for years and it has done me no good.”  In view of what has
just been said, we may easily concede that such is very likely to
have been the case.  A measuring stick is of little value unless you
have something to measure.  Language cannot be acquired, only tested,
by analysis, and grammar is an analytic, not a constructive science.

We have compared bad use of language to a scurvy condition of the skin.
To cure the skin we must doctor the blood; and to improve the language
we should begin by teaching the mind to think.  But that, you will say,
is a large undertaking.  Yes, but after all it is the most direct and
effective way.  All education should be in the nature of teaching
the mind to think, and the teaching of language consists in teaching
thinking in connection with word forms and expression through
language.  The unfortunate thing is that teachers of language have
failed to go to the root of the trouble, and enormous effort has
counted for nothing, and besides has led to discouragement.

The American people are noted for being hasty in all they do.  Their
manufactures are quickly made and cheap.  They have not hitherto
had time to secure that perfection in minute details which constitutes
“quality.”  The slow-going Europeans still excel in nearly all fine
and high-grade forms of manufacture―fine pottery, fine carpets and
rugs, fine cloth, fine bronze and other art wares.  In our language,
too, we are hasty, and therefore imperfect.  Fine logical accuracy
requires more time than we have had to give to it, and we read the
newspapers, which are very poor models of language, instead of books,
which should be far better.  Our standard of business letters is very low.
It is rare to find a letter of any length without one or more errors of
language, to say nothing of frequent errors in spelling made by ignorant
stenographers and not corrected by the business men who sign the letters.

But a change is coming over us.  We have suddenly taken to reading
books, and while they are not always the best books, they are better
than newspapers.  And now a young business man feels that it is
distinctly to his advantage if he can dictate a thoroughly good
letter to his superior or to a well informed customer.  Good letters
raise the tone of a business house, poor letters give the idea
that it is a cheapjack concern.  In social life, well written letters,
like good conversational powers, bring friends and introduce the
writer into higher circles.  A command of language is the index of
culture, and the uneducated man or woman who has become wealthy
or has gained any special success is eager to put on this wedding
garment of refinement.  If he continues to regard a good command
of language as a wedding garment, he will probably fail in his effort;
but a few will discover the way to self-education and actively follow
it to its conclusion adding to their first success this new achievement.

But we may even go farther.  The right kind of language-teaching will
also give us power, a kind of eloquence, a skill in the use of words, which
will enable us to frame advertisements which will draw business, letters
which will win customers, and to speak in that elegant and forceful way so
effective in selling goods.  When all advertisements are couched in very
imperfect language, and all business letters are carelessly written, of
course no one has an advantage over another, and a good knowledge and
command of language would not be much of a recommendation to a business
man who wants a good assistant.  But when a few have come in and by their
superior command of language gained a distinct advantage over rivals, then
the power inherent in language comes into universal demand——the business
standard is raised.  There are many signs now that the business standard
in the use of language is being distinctly raised.  Already a stenographer
who does not make errors commands a salary from 25 per cent. to 50 per
cent. higher than the average, and is always in demand.  Advertisement
writers must have not only business instinct but language instinct,
and knowledge of correct, as well as forceful, expression{.}

Granted, then, that we are all eager to better our knowledge of the
English language, how shall we go about it?

There are literally thousands of published books devoted to the study
and teaching of our language.  In such a flood it would seem that we
should have no difficulty in obtaining good guides for our study.

But what do we find?  We find spelling-books filled with lists of words to
be memorized; we find grammars filled with names and definitions of all
the different forms which the language assumes; we find rhetorics filled
with the names of every device ever employed to give effectiveness to
language; we find books on literature filled with the names, dates of birth
and death, and lists of works, of every writer any one ever heard of:
and when we have learned all these names we are no better off than when
we started.  It is true that in many of these books we may find prefaces
which say, “All other books err in clinging too closely to mere system,
to names; but we will break away and give you the real thing.”  But they
don't do it; they can't afford to be too radical, and so they merely modify
in a few details the same old system, the system of names.  Yet it is a
great point gained when the necessity for a change is realized.

How, then, shall we go about our mastery of the English language?

Modern science has provided us a universal method by which we may study
and master any subject.  As applied to an art, this method has proved
highly successful in the case of music.  It has not been applied to
language because there was a well fixed method of language study
in existence long before modern science was even dreamed of, and that
ancient method has held on with wonderful tenacity.  The great fault with
it is that it was invented to apply to languages entirely different from
our own.  Latin grammar and Greek grammar were mechanical systems of
endings by which the relationships of words were indicated.  Of course the
relationship of words was at bottom logical, but the mechanical form was
the chief thing to be learned.  Our language depends wholly (or very nearly
so) on arrangement of words, and the key is the logical relationship.
A man who knows all the forms of the Latin or Greek language can write
it with substantial accuracy; but the man who would master the English
language must go deeper, he must master the logic of sentence structure
or word relations.  We must begin our study at just the opposite end from
the Latin or Greek; but our teachers of language have balked at a complete
reversal of method, the power of custom and time has been too strong, and
in the matter of grammar we are still the slaves of the ancient world.
As for spelling, the irregularities of our language seem to have driven us
to one sole method, memorizing: and to memorize every word in a language
is an appalling task.  Our rhetoric we have inherited from the middle ages,
from scholiasts, refiners, and theological logicians, a race of men who got
their living by inventing distinctions and splitting hairs.  The fact is,
prose has had a very low place in the literature of the world until
within a century; all that was worth saying was said in poetry, which
the rhetoricians were forced to leave severely alone, or in oratory,
from which all their rules were derived; and since written prose language
became a universal possession through the printing press and the
newspaper we have been too busy to invent a new rhetoric.

Now, language is just as much a natural growth as trees or rocks or
human bodies, and it can have no more irregularities, even in the matter
of spelling, than these have.  Science would laugh at the notion of
memorizing every individual form of rock.  It seeks the fundamental laws,
it classifies and groups, and even if the number of classes or groups
is large, still they have a limit and can be mastered.  Here we have a
solution of the spelling problem.  In grammar we find seven fundamental
logical relationships, and when we have mastered these and their chief
modifications and combinations, we have the essence of grammar as truly
as if we knew the name for every possible combination which our seven
fundamental relationships might have.  Since rhetoric is the art of
appealing to the emotions and intelligence of our hearers, we need to
know, not the names of all the different artifices which may be employed,
but the nature and laws of emotion and intelligence as they may be
reached through language; for if we know what we are hitting at, a little
practice will enable us to hit accurately; whereas if we knew the name of
every kind of blow, and yet were ignorant of the thing we were hitting at,
namely the intelligence and emotion of our fellow man, we would be forever
striking into the air,―striking cleverly perhaps, but ineffectively.

Having got our bearings, we find before us a purely practical problem,
that of leading the student through the maze of a new science and teaching
him the skill of an old art, exemplified in a long line of masters.

By way of preface we may say that the mastery of the English language
(or any language) is almost the task of a lifetime.  A few easy lessons
will have no effect.  We must form a habit of language study that will
grow upon us as we grow older, and little by little, but never by leaps,
shall we mount up to the full expression of all that is in us.




The mastery of English spelling is a serious under-taking.  In the first
place, we must actually memorize from one to three thousand words which
are spelled in more or less irregular ways.  The best that can be done with
these words is to classify them as much as possible and suggest methods
of association which will aid the memory.  But after all, the drudgery of
memorizing must be gone through with.

Again, those words called homonyms, which are pronounced alike but spelled
differently, can be studied only in connection with their meaning, since
the meaning and grammatical use in the sentence is our only key to their
form.  So we have to go considerably beyond the mere mechanical association
of letters.

Besides the two or three thousand common irregular words, the dictionary
contains something over two hundred thousand other words.  Of course no one
of us can possibly have occasion to use all of those words; but at the same
time, every one of us may sooner or later have occasion to use any one of
them.  As we cannot tell before hand what ones we shall need, we should be
prepared to write any or all of them upon occasion.  Of course we may refer
to the dictionary; but this is not always, or indeed very often, possible.
It would obviously be of immense advantage to us if we could find a key to
the spelling of these numerous but infrequently used words.

The first duty of the instructor in spelling should be to provide such
a key.  We would suppose, off-hand, that the three hundred thousand
school-teachers in the United States would do this immediately and
without suggestion——certainly that the writers of school-books would.
But many things have stood in the way.  It is only within a few years,
comparatively speaking, that our language has become at all fixed in its
spelling.  Noah Webster did a great deal to establish principles, and
bring the spelling of as many words as possible to conform with these
principles and with such analogies as seemed fairly well established.
But other dictionary-makers have set up their ideas against his,
and we have a conflict of authorities.  If for any reason one finds
himself spelling a word differently from the world about him, he
begins to say, “Well, that is the spelling given in Worcester,
or the Century, or the Standard, or the new Oxford.”  So the word
“authority” looms big on the horizon; and we think so much about
authority, and about different authorities, that we forget
to look for principles, as Mr. Webster would have us do.

Another reason for neglecting rules and principles is that the lists of
exceptions are often so formidable that we get discouraged and exclaim,
“If nine tenths of the words I use every day are exceptions to the
rules, what is the use of the rules anyway!”  Well, the words which
constitute that other tenth will aggregate in actual numbers far more
than the common words which form the chief part of everyday speech,
and as they are selected at random from a vastly larger number,
the only possible way to master them is by acquiring principles,
consciously or unconsciously, which will serve as a key to them.
Some people have the faculty of unconsciously formulating principles
from their everyday observations, but it is a slow process, and
many never acquire it unless it is taught them.

The spelling problem is not to learn how to spell nine tenths of
our words correctly.  Nearly all of us can and do accomplish that.
The good speller must spell nine hundred and ninety-nine one
thousandths of his word correctly, which is quite another matter.
Some of us go even one figure higher.

Our first task is clearly to commit the common irregular words to memory.
How may we do that most easily?  It is a huge task at best, but every
pound of life energy which we can save in doing it is so much gained for
higher efforts.  We should strive to economize effort in this just as
the manufacturer tries to economize in the cost of making his goods.

In this particular matter, it seems to the present writer that makers
of modern spelling-books have committed a great blunder in mixing
indiscriminately regular words with irregular, and common words with
uncommon.  Clearly we should memorize first the words we use most
often, and then take up those which we use less frequently.  But the
superintendent of the Evanston schools has reported that out of one
hundred first-reader words which he gave to his grammar classes as
a spelling test, some were misspelled by all but sixteen per cent{.}
of the pupils.  And yet these same pupils were studying busily away on
_categories, concatenation,_ and _amphibious_.  The spelling-book makers
feel that they must put hard words into their spellers.  Their books are
little more than lists of words, and any one can make lists of common, easy
words.  A spelling-book filled with common easy words would not seem to be
worth the price paid for it.  Pupils and teachers must get their money's
worth, even if they never learn to spell.  Of course the teachers are
expected to furnish drills themselves on the common, easy words; but
unfortunately they take their cue from the spelling-book, each day merely
assigning to the class the next page.  They haven't time to select, and
no one could consistently expect them to do otherwise than as they do do.

To meet this difficulty, the author of this book has prepared a version
of the story of Robinson Crusoe which contains a large proportion of
the common words which offer difficulty in spelling.  Unluckily it
is not easy to produce classic English when one is writing under the
necessity of using a vocabulary previously selected.  However, if we
concentrate our attention on the word-forms, we are not likely to be
much injured by the ungraceful sentence-forms.  This story is not long,
but it should be dictated to every school class, beginning in the
fourth grade, until _every_ pupil can spell _every_ word correctly.
A high percentage is not enough, as in the case of some other studies.
Any pupil who misses a single word in any exercise should be marked zero.

But even if one can spell correctly every word in this story, he may
still not be a good speller, for there are thousands of other words
to be spelled, many of which are not and never will be found in any
spelling-book.  The chief object of a course of study in spelling is to
acquire two habits, the habit of observing articulate sounds, and the
habit of observing word-forms in reading.

1.  Train the Ear.  Until the habit of observing articulate sounds
carefully has been acquired, the niceties of pronunciation are beyond
the student's reach, and equally the niceties of spelling are beyond his
reach, too.  In ordinary speaking, many vowels and even some consonants
are slurred and obscured.  If the ear is not trained to exactness,
this habit of slurring introduces many inaccuracies.  Even in careful
speaking, many obscure sounds are so nearly alike that only a finely
trained ear can detect any difference.  Who of us notices any
difference between _er_ in _pardoner_ and _or_ in _honor_?  Careful
speakers do not pass over the latter syllable quite so hastily as
over the former, but only the most finely trained ear will detect any
difference even in the pronunciation of the most finely trained voice.

In the lower grades in the schools the ear may be trained by giving
separate utterance to each sound in a given word, as f-r-e-n-d, _friend,_
allowing each letter only its true value in the word.  Still it may also be
obtained by requiring careful and distinct pronunciation in reading, not,
however, to the extent of exaggerating the value of obscure syllables,
or painfully accentuating syllables naturally obscure.

Adults (but seldom children) may train the ear by reading poetry aloud,
always guarding against the sing-song style, but trying to harmonize
nicely the sense and the rhythm.  A trained ear is absolutely necessary
to reading poetry well, and the constant reading aloud of poetry cannot
but afford an admirable exercise.

For children, the use of diacritical marks has little or no value, until
the necessity arises for consulting the dictionary for pronunciation.
They are but a mechanical system, and the system we commonly use is so
devoid of permanence in its character that every dictionary has a different
system.  The one most common in the schools is that introduced by Webster;
but if we would consult the Standard or the Century or the Oxford, we must
learn our system all over again.  To the child, any system is a clog and a
hindrance, and quite useless in teaching him phonetic values, wherein the
voice of the teacher is the true medium.

For older students, however, especially students at home, where no teacher
is available, phonetic writing by means of diacritical marks has great
value.*  It is the only practicable way of representing the sounds of the
voice on paper.  When the student writes phonetically he is obliged to
observe closely his own voice and the voices of others in ordinary speech,
and so his ear is trained.  It also takes the place of the voice for
dictation in spelling tests by mail or through the medium of books.

 *There should be no more marks than there are sounds.  When two vowels
have the same sound one should be written as a substitute for the other,
as we have done in this book.

2.  Train the Eye.  No doubt the most effective way of learning spelling
is to train the eye carefully to observe the forms of the words we read
in newspapers and in books.  If this habit is formed, and the habit of
general reading accompanies it, it is sufficient to make a nearly perfect
speller.  The great question is, how to acquire it.

Of course in order to read we are obliged to observe the forms of words
in a general way, and if this were all that is needed, we should all
be good spellers if we were able to read fluently.  But it is not all.
The observation of the general form of a word is not the observation
that teaches spelling.  We must have the habit of observing every
letter in every word, and this we are not likely to have unless
we give special attention to acquiring it.

The “visualization” method of teaching spelling now in use in the
schools is along the line of training the eye to observe every letter
in a word.  It is good so far as it goes; but it does not go very far.
The reason is that there is a limit to the powers of the memory,
especially in the observation of arbitrary combinations of letters.
What habits of visualization would enable the ordinary person to
glance at such a combination as the following and write it ten minutes
afterward with no aid but the single glance: _hwgufhtbizwskoplmne?_
It would require some minutes' study to memorize such a combination,
because there is nothing to aid us but the sheer succession of forms.
The memory works by association.  We build up a vast structure of
knowledge, and each new fact or form must be as securely attached
to this as the new wing of a building; and the more points at which
attachment can be formed the more easily is the addition made.

The Mastery of Irregular Words.

Here, then, we have the real reason for a long study of principles,
analogies, and classifications.  They help us to remember.  If I come
to the word _colonnade_ in reading, I observe at once that the double
_n_ is an irregularity.  It catches my eye immediately.  “Ah!” I reflect
almost in the fraction of a second as I read in continuous flow, “here is
another of those exceptions.”  Building on what I already know perfectly
well, I master this word with the very slightest effort.  If we can build
up a system which will serve the memory by way of association, so that the
slight effort that can be given in ordinary reading will serve to fix a
word more or less fully, we can soon acquire a marvellous power in the
accurate spelling of words.

Again: In a spelling-book before me I see lists of words ending in _ise,
ize,_ and _yse,_ all mixed together with no distinction.  The arrangement
suggests memorizing every word in the language ending with either of these
terminations, and until we have memorized any particular word we have no
means of knowing what the termination is.  If, however, we are taught that
_ize_ is the common ending, that _ise_ is the ending of only thirty-one
words, and _yse_ of only three or four, we reduce our task enormously
and aid the memory in acquiring the few exceptions.  When we come to
_franchise_ in reading we reflect rapidly, “Another of those verbs in
_ise_!” or to _paralyse,_ “One of those very few verbs in _yse_!”  We
give no thought whatever to all the verbs ending in _ize,_ and so save
so much energy for other acquirements.

If we can say, “This is a violation of such and such a rule,” or “This
is a strange irregularity,” or “This belongs to the class of words which
substitutes _ea_ for the long sound of _e,_ or for the short sound of _e_.”

We have an association of the unknown with the known that is the most
powerful possible aid to the memory.  The system may fail in and of itself,
but it more than serves its purpose thus indirectly in aiding the memory.

We have not spoken of the association of word forms with sounds, the
grouping of the letters of words into syllables, and the aid that a careful
pronunciation gives the memory by way of association; for while this is the
most powerful aid of all, it does not need explanation.

The Mastery of Regular Words.

We have spoken of the mastery of irregular words, and in the last paragraph
but one we have referred to the aid which general principles give the
memory by way of association in acquiring the exceptions to the rules.
We will now consider the great class of words formed according to fixed

Of course these laws and rules are little more than a string of analogies
which we observe in our study of the language.  The language was not and
never will be built to fit these rules.  The usage of the people is the
only authority.  Even clear logic goes down before usage.  Languages grow
like mushrooms, or lilies, or bears, or human bodies.  Like these they have
occult and profound laws which we can never hope to penetrate,―which are
known only to the creator of all things existent.  But as in botany and
zoölogy and physiology we may observe and classify our observations, so we
may observe a language, classify our observations, and create an empirical
science of word-formation.  Possibly in time it will become a science
something more than empirical.

The laws we are able at this time to state with much definiteness are few
(doubling consonants, dropping silent e's, changing y's to i's, accenting
the penultimate and antepenultimate syllables, lengthening and shortening
vowels).  In addition we may classify exceptions, for the sole purpose of
aiding the memory.

Ignorance of these principles and classifications, and knowledge of
the causes and sources of the irregularities, should be pronounced
criminal in a teacher; and failure to teach them, more than criminal in
a spelling-book.  It is true that most spelling-books do give them in one
form or another, but invariably without due emphasis or special drill,
a lack which renders them worthless.  Pupils and students should be
drilled upon them till they are as familiar as the multiplication table.

We know how most persons stumble over the pronunciation of names in the
Bible and in classic authors.  They are equally nonplussed when called
upon to write words with which they are no more familiar.  They cannot
even pronounce simple English names like _Cody,_ which they call
“Coddy,” in analogy with _body,_ because they do not know that in a
word of two syllables a single vowel followed by a single consonant is
regularly long when accented.  At the same time they will spell the word
in all kinds of queer ways, which are in analogy only with exceptions,
not with regular formations.  Unless a person knows what the regular
principles are, he cannot know how a word should regularly be spelled.
A strange word is spelled quite regularly nine times out of ten, and if
one does not know exactly how to spell a word, it is much more to his
credit to spell it in a regular way than in an irregular way.

The truth is, the only possible key we can have to those thousands of
strange words and proper names which we meet only once or twice in a
lifetime, is the system of principles formulated by philologists, if for
no other reason, we should master it that we may come as near as possible
to spelling proper names correctly.



We must begin our study of the English language with the elementary
sounds and the letters which represent them.

Name the first letter of the alphabet——_a_.  The mouth is open and the
sound may be prolonged indefinitely.  It is a full, clear sound, an
unobstructed vibration of the vocal chords.

Now name the second letter of the alphabet——_b_.  You say _bee_ or _buh_.
You cannot prolong the sound.  In order to give the real sound of _b_
you have to associate it with some other sound, as that of _e_ or _u_.
In other words, _b_ is in the nature of an obstruction of sound, or a
modification of sound, rather than a simple elementary sound in itself.
There is indeed a slight sound in the throat, but it is a closed sound
and cannot be prolonged.  In the case of _p,_ which is similar to _b,_
there is no sound from the throat.

So we see that there are two classes of sounds (represented by two
classes of letters), those which are full and open tones from the vocal
chords, pronounced with the mouth open, and capable of being prolonged
indefinitely; and those which are in the nature of modifications of
these open sounds, pronounced with or without the help of the voice,
and incapable of being prolonged.  The first class of sounds is called
vowel sounds, the second, consonant sounds.  Of the twenty-six letters
of the alphabet, _a, e, i, o,_ and _u_ (sometimes _y_ and _w_)
represent vowel sounds and are called vowels; and the remainder
represent consonant sounds, and are called consonants.

A syllable is an elementary sound, or a combination of elementary
sounds, which can be given easy and distinct utterance at one effort.
Any vowel may form a syllable by itself, but as we have seen that
a consonant must be united with a vowel for its perfect utterance,
it follows that every syllable must contain a vowel sound, even if
it also contains consonant sounds.  With that vowel sound one or
more consonants may be united; but the ways in which consonants may
combine with a vowel to form a syllable are limited.  In general we
may place any consonant before and any consonant after the vowel in
the same syllable: but _y_ for instance, can be given a consonant
sound only at the beginning of a syllable, as in _yet_; at the end
of a syllable _y_ becomes a vowel sound, as in _they_ or _only_.
In the syllable _twelfths_ we find seven consonant sounds; but if
these same letters were arranged in almost any other way they could
not be pronounced as one syllable―as for instance _wtelthfs_.

A word consists of one or more syllables to which some definite
meaning is attached.

The difficulties of spelling and pronunciation arise largely from the
fact that in English twenty-six letters must do duty for some forty-two
sounds, and even then several of the letters are unnecessary, as for
instance _c,_ which has either the sound of _s_ or of _k_; _x,_ which
has the sound either of _ks, gs,_ or _z_; _q,_ which in the combination
_qu_ has the sound of _kw_.  All the vowels represent from two to seven
sounds each, and some of the consonants interchange with each other.

The Sounds of the Vowels.―(1)  Each of the vowels has what is called
a long sound and a short sound.  It is important that these two sets
of sounds be fixed clearly in the mind, as several necessary rules
of spelling depend upon them.  In studying the following table, note
that the long sound is marked by a straight line over the letter, and
the short sound by a curve.

_Long       Short_
  āte         ăt
  gāve        măn
  nāme        băg

  thēse       pĕt
  mē          tĕn
  (com)plēte  brĕd

  kīte        sĭt
  rīce        mĭll
  līme        rĭp

  nōte        nŏt
  rōde        rŏd
  sōle        Tŏm

  cūre        bŭt
  cūte        rŭn
  (a)būse     crŭst

  scұthe      (like)lў

If we observe the foregoing list of words we shall see that each of
the words containing a long vowel followed by a single consonant sound
ends in silent _e_.  After the short vowels there is no silent _e_.
In each case in which we have the silent _e_ there is a single long
vowel followed by a single consonant, or two consonants combining to
form a single sound, as _th_ in _scythe_.  Such words as _roll, toll,_
etc., ending in double _l_ have no silent _e_ though the vowel is
long; and such words as _great, meet, pail,_ etc., in which two
vowels combine with the sound of one, take no silent _e_ at the end.
We shall consider these exceptions more fully later; but a _single long_
vowel followed by a _single_ consonant _always_ takes silent _e_ at the
end.  As carefully stated in this way, the rule has no exceptions.
The reverse, however, is not always true, for a few words containing
a short vowel followed by a single consonant do take silent _e_;
but there are very few of them.  The principal are _have, give,_
{(I)} _live, love, shove, dove, above;_ also _none, some, come,_
and some words in three or more syllables, such as _domicile_.

2.  Beside the long and short sounds of the vowels there
are several other vowel sounds.

A has two other distinct sounds:

̣ạ broad, like _aw,_ as in _all, talk,_ etc.

ä Italian, like _ah,_ as in _far, father,_ etc.

Double o has two sounds different from long or short _o_ alone:

long ōō as in _room, soon, mood,_ etc.

short ŏŏ, as in _good, took, wood,_ etc.

Ow has a sound of its own, as in _how, crowd, allow,_ etc.;
and _ou_ sometimes has the same sound, as in _loud, rout, bough,_ etc.

(_Ow_ and _ou_ are also sometimes sounded like long _o,_ as in _own,
crow, pour,_ etc., and sometimes have still other sounds,
as _ou_ in _bought_).

Oi and oy have a distinct sound of their own, as in _oil, toil, oyster,
void, boy, employ,_ etc.

_Ow_ and _oi_ are called proper diphthongs, as the two vowels combine
to produce a sound different from either, while such combinations as
_ei, ea, ai,_ etc., are called improper diphthongs (or digraphs),
because they have the sound of one or other of the simple vowels.

3.  In the preceding paragraphs we have given all the distinct vowel
sounds of the language, though many of them are slightly modified in
certain combinations.  But in many cases one vowel will be given the
sound of another vowel, and two or more vowels will combine with a
variety of sounds.  These irregularities occur chiefly in a few hundred
common words, and cause the main difficulties of spelling the English
language.  The following are the leading substitutes:

ew with the sound of _u_ long, as in _few, chew,_ etc. (perhaps
this may be considered a proper diphthong);

e (_ê, é_) with the sound of _a_ long, as in _fête, abbé,_ and all
foreign words written with an accent, especially French words;

i with the sound of _e_ long, as in _machine,_ and nearly all French and
other foreign words;

o has the sound of double _o_ long in _tomb, womb, prove, move,_ etc.,
and of double _o_ short in _wolf, women,_ etc.;

o also has the sound of _u_ short in _above, love, some, done,_ etc.;

u has the sound of double _o_ long after _r,_ as in _rude, rule_;

it also has the sound of double _o_ short in _put, pull, bull,
sure,_ etc.;

ea has the sound of _a_ long, as in _great_; of _e_ long, as in _heat_; of
_e_ short, as in _head_; of _a_ Italian (ah), as in _heart, hearth,_ etc.;

ei has the sound of _e_ long, as in _receive_; of _a_ long, as in
_freight, weight_; sometimes of _i_ long, as in _either_ and _neither,_
pronounced with either the sound of _e_ long or _i_ long, the latter
being the English usage;

ie has the sound of _i_ long, as in _lie,_ and of _e_ long,
as in _belief,_ and of _i_ short, as in _sieve_;

ai has the sound of _a_ long, as in _laid, bail, train,_ etc.,
and of _a_ short, as in _plaid;_

ay has the sound of _a_ long, as in _play, betray, say,_ etc.;

oa has the sound of _o_ long, as in _moan, foam, coarse,_ etc.

There are also many peculiar and occasional substitutions of sounds
as in _any_ and _many_ (a as ĕ), _women_ (o as ĭ), _busy_ (u as ĭ),
_said_ (ai as ĕ), _people_ (eo as ē), _build_ (u as ĭ), _gauge_ (au as ā),
_what_ (a as ŏ), etc.

When any of these combinations are to be pronounced as separate vowels,
in two syllables, two dots should be placed over the second, as in _naïve_.

4.  The chief modifications of the elementary sounds are the following:

before _r_ each of the vowels _e, i, o, u,_ and _y_ has almost the
same sound (marked like the Spanish ñ) as in _her, birth, honor, burr,_
and _myrtle; o_ before _r_ sometimes has the sound of _aw,_ as in _or,
for,_ etc.;

in unaccented syllables, each of the long vowels has a slightly shortened
sound, as in f_a_tality, n_e_gotiate, int_o_nation, ref_u_tation,
indicated by a dot above the sign for the long sound; (in a few words,
such as d_i_gress, the sound is not shortened, however);

long _a_ (â) is slightly modified in such words as _care, fare, bare,_
etc., while _e_ has the same sound in words like _there, their,_ and
_where_; (New Englan{d}פּ people give _a_ the short sound in such words
as _care,_ etc., and pronounce _there_ and _where_ with the short sound
of _a,_ while _their_ is pronounced with the short sound of _e_:
this is not the best usage, however);

in _pass, class, command, laugh,_ etc., we have a sound of _a_ between
Italian _a_ and short _a_ (indicated by a single dot over the _a_),
though most Americans pronounce it as short, and most English give the
Italian sound:  the correct pronunciation is between these two.

The Sounds of the Consonants.  We have already seen that there are two
classes of consonant sounds, those which have a voice sound, as _b,_
called _sonant,_ and those which are mere breath sounds, like _p,_
called _surds_ or aspirates.  The chief difference between _b_ and _p_
is that one has the voice sound and the other has not.  Most of the
other consonants also stand in pairs.  We may say that the sonant
consonant and its corresponding surd are the hard and soft forms of
the same sound.  The following table contains also simple consonant
sounds represented by two letters:
_Sonant                    Surd_
    b                        p
    d                        t
    v                        f
    g (hard)                 k
    j                        ch
    z                        s
    th (in _thine_)          th (in _thin_)
    zh (or z as in _azure_)  sh
    r                        h

If we go down this list from the top to the bottom, we see that _b_ is the
most closed sound, while _h_ is the most slight and open, and the others
are graded in between (though not precisely as arranged above).  These
distinctions are important, because in making combinations of consonants in
the same syllable or in successive syllables we cannot pass abruptly from a
closed sound to an open sound, or the reverse, nor from a surd sound to a
sonant, or the reverse.  _L, m, n,_ and _r_ are called liquids, and easily
combine with other consonants; and so do the sibilants (_s, z,_ etc.).
In the growth of the language, many changes have been made in letters to
secure harmony of sound (as changing _b_ to _p_ in _sub-port——support,_
and _s,_ to _f_ in _differ_―from _dis_ and _fero_).  Some combinations
are not possible of pronunciation, others are not natural or easy; and
hence the alterations.  The student of the language must know how words are
built; and then when he comes to a strange word he can reconstruct it for
himself.  While the short, common words may be irregular, the long, strange
words are almost always formed quite regularly.

Most of the sonants have but one sound, and none of them has more than
three sounds.  The most important variations are as follows:

C and G have each a soft sound and a hard sound.  The soft sound of _c_
is the same as _s,_ and the hard sound the same as _k_.  The soft sound
of _g_ is the same as _j,_ and the hard sound is the true sound of _g_
as heard in _gone, bug, struggle_.

Important Rule.  _C_ and _G_ are soft before _e, i,_ and _y,_
and hard before all the other vowels, before all the other consonants,
and at the end of words.

The chief exceptions to this rule are a few common words in which _g_
is hard before _e_ or _i_.  They include―_give, get, gill, gimlet,
girl, gibberish, gelding, gerrymander, gewgaw, geyser, giddy, gibbon,
gift, gig, giggle, gild, gimp, gingham, gird, girt, girth, eager,_
and _begin_.  G is soft before a consonant in _judgment{,} lodgment,
acknowledgment,_ etc.  Also in a few words from foreign languages _c_
is soft before other vowels, though in such cases it should always be
written with a cedilla (ç).

N when marked ñ in words from the Spanish language is pronounced
_n-y_ (cañon like _canyon_).

Ng has a peculiar nasal sound of its own, as heard in the syllable _ing_.

N alone also has the sound of _ng_ sometimes before _g_ and _k,_ as in
_angle, ankle, single,_ etc. (pronounced _ang-gle, ang-kle, sing-gle_).

Ph has the sound of _f,_ as in prophet.

Th has two sounds, a hard sound as in _the, than, bathe, scythe,_ etc.,
and a soft sound as in _thin, kith, bath, Smith,_ etc.  Contrast
_breathe_ and _breath, lath_ and _lathe_; and _bath_ and _baths,
lath_ and _laths,_ etc.

S has two sounds, one its own sound, as in _sin, kiss, fist_ (the same as
_c_ in _lace, rice,_ etc.), and the sound of _z,_ as in _rise_ (contrast
with _rice_), _is, baths, men's,_ etc.

X has two common sounds, one that of _ks_ as in _box, six,_ etc., and the
other the sound of _gs,_ as in _exact, exaggerate_ (by the way, the first
_g_ in this word is silent).  At the beginning of a word _x_ has the sound
of _z_ as in _Xerxes_.

Ch has three sounds, as heard first in _child,_ second in _machine,_ and
third in _character_.  The first is peculiar to itself, the second is
that of _sh,_ and the third that of _k_.

The sound of _sh_ is variously represented:

by _sh{,}_ as in _share, shift, shirt,_ etc.

by _ti,_ as in _condition, mention, sanction,_ etc.

by _si,_ as in _tension, suspension, extension,_ etc.

by _ci,_ as in _suspicion_.  (Also, _crucifixion_.)

The kindred sound of _zh_ is represented by _z_ as in _azure,_
and _s_ as in _pleasure,_ and by some combinations.

Y is always a consonant at the beginning of a word when followed by a
vowel, as in _yet, year, yell,_ etc.; but if followed by a consonant it
is a vowel, as in _Ypsilanti_.  At the end of a word it is {al}ways a
vowel, as in all words ending in the syllable _ly_.

Exercises.  It is very important that the student should master the
sounds of the language and the symbols for them, or the diacritical
marks, for several reasons:

First, because it is impossible to find out the true pronunciation of
a word from the dictionary unless one clearly understands the meaning
of the principal marks;

Second, because one of the essentials in accurate pronunciation and good
spelling is the habit of analyzing the sounds which compose words, and
training the ear to detect slight variations;

Third, because a thorough knowledge of the sounds and their natural
symbols is the first step toward a study of the principles governing
word formation, or spelling and pronunciation.

For purposes of instruction through correspondence or by means of a
textbook, the diacritical marks representing distinct sounds of the
language afford a substitute for the voice in dictation and similar
exercises, and hence such work requires a mastery of what might at
first sight seem a purely mechanical and useless system.

One of the best exercises for the mastery of this system is to open the
unabridged dictionary at any point and copy out lists of words, writing the
words as they ordinarily appear in one column, and in an adjoining column
the phonetic form of the word.  When the list is complete, cover one column
and reproduce the other from an application of the principles that have
been learned.  After a few days, reproduce the phonetic forms from the
words as ordinarily written, and again the ordinary word from the phonetic
form.  Avoid memorizing as much as possible, but work solely by the
application of principles.  Never write down a phonetic form without fully
understanding its meaning in every detail.  A key to the various marks will
be found at the bottom of every page of the dictionary, and the student
should refer to this frequently.  In the front part of the dictionary there
will also be found an explanation of all possible sounds that any letter
may have; and every sound that any letter may have may be indicated by a
peculiar mark, so that since several letters may represent the same sound
there are a variety of symbols for the same sound.  For the purposes of
this book it has seemed best to offer only one symbol for each sound, and
that symbol the one most frequently used.  For that reason the following
example will not correspond precisely with the forms given in the
dictionary, but a study of the differences will afford a valuable exercise.


 *In this exercise, vowels before r marked in webster with the double
curve used over the Spanish n, are left unmarked.  Double o with the
short sound is also left unmarked.

  The first place that I can well remember was a large,
  Thĕ first plās  thăt I kan wĕl  rēmĕmber woz ā lärj,

pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.  Some
plĕs′nt   mĕdō  with ā pŏnd ŏv klēr  wŏter in it.  Sŭm

shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies
shādĭ  trēz  lēnd  ōver it, ănd rŭshēz ănd wŏter-lĭliz

grew at the deep end.  Over the hedge on one side we looked
grū  ăt thē dēp  ĕnd.  Ōver thē  hĕj  ŏn wŭn sīd  wē lookt

into  a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a
intōō ā plowd fēld{,} ănd ŏn thē ŏther wē lookt  ŏver ā

gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside.
gāt  ăt owr măster'z hows,  hwich stood bī thē rōdsīd.

At the top of the meadow was a grove of fir-trees, and at
At thē top ŏv the  mēdō  wŏz ā grōv  ŏv fir-trēz,  ănd ăt

the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.
thē bŏt′m  a rŭning  brook ōverhŭng bī a stēp  bănk.

  Whilst I was young I lived upon my mother's milk, as I could
  Hwilst I wŏz yŭng  I livd  ŭpŏn mī mŭther'z milk, ăz I kood

not eat grass.  In the daytime I ran by her side, and at night
nŏt ēt  grăs.   In thē  dātīm  I răn bī her sīd,  ănd ăt nīt

I lay down close by her.  When it was hot we used to stand
I lā  down klōs  bī her.  Hwĕn it wŏz hŏt wē ūzd tōō stănd

by the pond in the shade of the trees, and when it was cold
bī thē pŏnd in thē shād  ŏv thē trēz,  ănd hwēn it wŏz kōld

we had a nice, warm shed near the grove.
wē hăd ā nīs,  wawrm shĕd nēr thē grōv.

Note.  In Webster's dictionary letters which are unmarked have an
obscure sound often not unlike uh, or are silent, and letters printed
in italics are nearly elided, so very slight is the sound they have if
it can be said to exist at all.  In the illustration above, all very
obscure sounds have been replaced by the apostrophe, while no distinction
has been made between short vowels in accented and unaccented syllables.

Studies from the Dictionary.

The following are taken from Webster's Dictionary:

Ab-dŏm′-i-noŭs: The _a_ in _ab_ is only a little shorter than _a_ in
_at,_ and the _i_ is short being unaccented, while the _o_ is silent,
the syllable having the sound nŭs as indicated by the mark over the _u_.

Lĕss′en, (lĕs′n), lĕs′son, (lĕs′sn), lĕss′er, lĕs′sor: Each of these
words has two distinct syllables, though there is no recognizable
vowel sound in the last syllables of the first two.  This eliding of the
vowel is shown by printing the _e_ and the _o_ of the final syllables
in italics.  In the last two words the vowels of the final syllables are
not marked, but have nearly the sound they would have if marked in the
usual way for _e_ and _o_ before _r_.  As the syllables are not accented
the vowel sound is slightly obscured.  Or in _lessor_ has the sound of
the word _or_ (nearly), not the sound of _or_ in _honor,_ which will
be found re-spelled (ŏn′ur).  It will be noted that the double s is
divided in two of the words and not in the other two.  In _lesser_
and _lessen_ all possible stress is placed on the first syllables,
since the terminations have the least possible value in speaking;
but in _lesson_ and _lessor_ we put a little more stress on the final
syllables, due to the greater dignity of the letter _o,_ and this draws
over a part of the s sound.

Hon′-ey▬cōmb (hŭn′y–kōm): The heavy hyphen indicates that this is
a compound word and the hyphen must always be written.  The hyphens
printed lightly in the dictionary merely serve to separate the
syllables and show how a word may be divided at the end of a line.
The student will also note that the _o_ in _-comb_ has its full long
value instead of being slighted.  This slight added stress on the _o_
is the way we have in speaking of indicating that _-comb_ was once a
word by itself, with an accent of its own.

Select other words from the dictionary, and analyse as we have done
above, giving some explanation for every peculiarity found in the
printing and marks.  Continue this until there is no doubt or
hesitation in regard to the meaning of any mark that may be found.



English speaking peoples have been inclined to exaggerate the
irregularities of the English word-formation.  The fact is, only a small
number of common words and roots are irregular in formation, while fully
nine tenths of all the words in the language are formed according to
regular principles, or are regularly derived from the small number of
irregular words.  We use the irregular words so much more frequently
that they do indeed constitute the greater part of our speech, but
it is very necessary that we should master the regular principles of
word-building, since they give us a key to the less frequently used,
but far more numerous, class which fills the dictionary, teaching
us both the spelling of words of which we know the sound, and the
pronunciation of words which we meet for the first time in reading.

Accent.  In English, accent is an essential part of every word.
It is something of an art to learn to throw it on to any syllable
we choose, for unless we are able to do this we cannot get the true
pronunciation of a word from the dictionary and we are helpless when
we are called on to pronounce a word we have never heard.

Perhaps the best way to learn the art of throwing accent is by
comparing words in which we are in the habit of shifting the
accent to one syllable or another according to the meaning,
as for instance the following:

 1.  Accent.

a.  What _ac′cent_ has this word?

b.  With what _accent′uation_ do you _accent′_ this word?

 2.  Concert.

a.  Did you go to the _con′cert_ last night?

b.  By _concert′ed_ action we can do anything.

 3.  Contrast.

{a}Ъ.  What a _con′trast_ between the rich man and the poor man!

b.  _Contrast′_ good with bad, black with white, greatness with littleness.

 4.  Permit.

a.  I have a building_-per′mit_.

b.  My mother will not _permit′_ me to go.

 5.  Present.

a.  He received a beautiful Christmas _pres′ent_.

b.  She was _present′ed_ at court.

 6.  Prefix.

a.  Sub is a common _pre′fix_.

b.  _Prefix′_ sub to port and you get support.

 7.  Compound.

a.  He can _compound′_ medicine like a druggist.

b.  Nitroglycerine is a dangerous _com′pound_.

As a further illustration, read the following stanza of poetry,
especially accenting the syllables as marked:

     Tell′ me not′ in mourn′ful num′bers,
       “Life′ is but′ an emp′ty dream′!”
     For′ the soul′ is dead′ that slum′bers,
       And′ things are′ not what′ they seem′.

This is called scanning, and all verse may be scanned in the same way.
It is an excellent drill in learning the art of throwing the stress of
the voice on any syllable that may be desired.

Two Laws of Word-Formation.

We are now prepared to consider the two great laws governing
word-formation.  These are:

1.  Law: All vowels in combination with consonants are naturally short
unless the long sound is given by combination with other vowels,
by accent, or by position in the syllable with reference to consonants.

2.  Law: Words derived from other words by the addition of prefixes or
suffixes always retain the original form as far as possible.

1.  We are likely to suppose that the natural or original sound of a
vowel is the long sound, because that is the sound we give it when
naming it in the alphabet.  If we will examine a number of words,
however, we shall soon see that in combination with consonants all
vowels have a tendency to a short or obscure pronunciation.  The sounds
of the consonants are naturally obscure, and they draw the vowels to a
similar obscurity.

Since such is the case, when a vowel is given its long sound there is
always a special reason for it.  In the simple words _not, pin, her,
rip, rid, cut, met,_ we have the short sounds of the vowels; but if we
desire the long sounds we must add a silent _e,_ which is not pronounced
as _e,_ but has its sound value in the greater stress put upon the vowel
with which it is connected.  By adding silent _e_ to the above words we
have _note, pine, here, ripe, ride, mete_.  In each of these cases the
_e_ follows the consonant, though really combining with the vowel before
the consonant; but if we place the additional _e_ just after the first
_e_ in _met_ we have _meet,_ which is a word even more common than
_mete.  E_ is the only vowel that may be placed after the consonant and
still combine with the vowel before it {while being silent}; but nearly
all the other vowels may be placed beside the vowel that would otherwise
be short in order to make it long, and sometimes this added vowel is
placed before as well as after the vowel to be lengthened.  Thus we
have _boat, bait, beat, field, chief,_ etc.  There are a very, very few
irregular words in which the vowel sound has been kept short in spite
of the added vowel, as for instance, _head, sieve,_ etc.  It appears
that with certain consonants the long sound is especially difficult,
and so in the case of very common words the wear of common speech has
shortened the vowels in spite of original efforts to strengthen them.
This is peculiarly true of the consonant _v,_ and the combination _th,_
and less so of _s_ and _z_.  So in {(I) }_live, have, give, love, shove,
move,_ etc., the vowel sound is more or less obscured even in spite of
the silent _e,_ though in the less common words _alive, behave,_ etc.,
the long sound strengthened by accent has not been lost.  So as a rule
two silent vowels are now used to make the vowel before the _v_ long,
as in _leave, believe, receive, beeves, weave,_ etc.  In the single word
_sieve_ the vowel remains short in spite of two silent vowels added to
strengthen it.  Two vowels are also sometimes required to strengthen a
long vowel before _th,_ as in _breathe,_ though when the vowel itself
is a strong one, as _a_ in _bathe,_ the second vowel is not required,
and _o_ in _both_ is so easily increased in sound that the two
consonants alone are sufficient.  It will be seen, therefore, that much
depends on the quality of the vowel.  _A_ and _o_ are the strongest
vowels, _i_ the weakest (which accounts for sieve).  After _s_ and _z_
we must also have a silent _e_ in addition to the silent vowel with
which the sounded vowel is combined, as we may see in _cheese, increase,
freeze,_ etc.  The added vowel in combination with the long vowel is not
always needed, however, as we may see in contrasting _raise_ and _rise_.

Not only vowels but consonants may serve to lengthen vowel sounds, as
we see in _right, night, bright,_ and in _scold, roll,_ etc.  Only _o_
is capable of being lengthened by two simple consonants such as we have
in _scold_ and _roll_.  In _calm_ and _ball,_ for instance, the _a_ has
one of its extra values rather than its long sound.  The _gh_ is of
course a powerful combination.  Once it was pronounced; but it became
so difficult that we have learned to give its value by dwelling a little
on the vowel sound.

Another powerful means of lengthening a vowel is accent.  When a vowel
receives the full force of the accent by coming at the end of an accented
syllable it is almost invariably made long.  We see this in monosyllables
such as _he, no,_ etc.  It is often necessary to strengthen by an
additional silent vowel, however, as in _tie, sue, view,_ etc., and _a_
has a peculiarity in that when it comes at the end of a syllable alone it
has the sound of _ah,_ or _a_ Italian, rather than that of _a_ long, and we
have _pa, ma,_ etc., and for the long sound _y_ is added, as in _say, day,
ray.  I_ has a great disinclination to appear at the end of a word, and so
i{s}һ usually changed to _y_ when such a position is necessary, or it takes
silent _e_ as indicated above; while this service on the part of _y_ is
reciprocated by _i_'s taking the place of _y_ inside a word, as may be
illustrated by _city_ and _cities_.

When a vowel gets the _full force_ of the accent in a word of two or
more syllables it is bound to be long, as for instance the first _a_ in
_ma′di a_.  Even the stress necessary to keep the vowel from running
into the next syllable will make it long, though the sound is somewhat
obscured, some other syllable receiving the chief accent, as the first
_a_ in _ma gi′cian_.  In this last word _i_ seems to have the full
force of the accent, yet it is not long; and we note the same in such
words as _condi′tion,_ etc.  The fact is, however, that _i_ being a
weak vowel easily runs into the consonant sound of the next syllable,
and if we note the sounds as we pronounce _condition_ we shall see that
the _sh_ sound represented by _ti_ blends with the _i_ and takes the
force of the accent.  We cannot separate the _ti_ or _ci_ from the
following portion of the syllable, since if so separated they could not
have their _sh_ value; but in pronunciation this separation is made in
part and the _sh_ sound serves both for the syllable that precedes and
the syllable that follows.  In a word like _di men′sion_ we find the _i_
of the first syllable long even without the accent, since the accent
on _men_ attaches the _m_ so closely to it that it cannot in any way
relieve the _i_.  So we see that in an accented syllable the consonant
before a short vowel, as well as the consonant following it, receives
part of the stress.  This is especially noticeable in the word
_ma gi′cian_ as compared with _mag′ic_.  In magic the syllable _ic_ is in
itself so complete that the _g_ is kept with the _a_ and takes the force
of the accent, leaving the _a_ short.  In _magician_ the _g_ is drawn
away from the _a_ to help out the short _i_ followed by an _sh_ sound,
and the _a_ is lengthened even to altering the form of the simple word.
In the word _ma′gi an,_ again, we find _a_ long, the _g_ being needed to
help out the _i_.

Since accent makes a vowel long if no consonant intervenes at the end
of a syllable, and as a single consonant following such a vowel in a
word of two syllables (though not in words of three or more) is likely
to be drawn into the syllable following, a single consonant following
a single short vowel must be doubled.  If two or more consonants follow
the vowel, as in _masking, standing, wilting,_ the vowel even in an
accented syllable remains short.  But in _pining_ with one _n_ following
the _i_ in the accented syllable, we know that the vowel must be long,
for if it were short the word would be written _pinning_.

Universal Rule: _Monosyllables_ in which, a single vowel is followed
by a single consonant (except _v_ and _h_ never doubled) _double the
final consonant_ when a single syllable beginning with a vowel is added,
and _all words_ so ending double the final consonant on the addition of
a syllable beginning with a vowel _if the syllable containing the single
vowel_ followed by a single consonant _is to be accented_.

Thus we have _can——canning, run——running, fun——funny, flat——flattish_;
and also _sin——sinned_ (for the _ed_ is counted a syllable though not
pronounced as such nowadays); _preferred,_ but _preference,_ since the
accent is thrown back from the syllable containing the single vowel
followed by a single consonant in the word _preference,_ though not in
_preferred_; and of course the vowel is not doubled in _murmured, wondered,
covered,_ etc.

If, however, the accented syllable is followed by two or more syllables,
the tendency of accent is to shorten the vowel.  Thus we have
_grammat′ical,_ etc., in which the short vowel in the accented syllable
is followed by a single consonant not doubled.  The word _na′tion_ (with
a long _a_) becomes _na′tional_ (short _a_) when the addition of a syllable
throws the accent on to the antepenult.  The vowel _u_ is never shortened
in this way, however, and we have _lu′bricate,_ not _lub′ricate_.  We also
find such words as _no′tional_ (long _o_).  While accented syllables which
are followed by two or more syllables seldom if ever double the single
consonant, in pronunciation we often find the vowel long if the two
syllables following contain short and weak vowels.  Thus we have _pe′riod_
(long _e_), _ma′niac_ (long _a_), and _o′rient′al_ (long _o_).

In words of two syllables and other words in which the accent comes on
the next to the last syllable, a short vowel in an accented syllable
should logically always be followed by more than one consonant or a double
consonant.  We find the double consonant in such words as _summer, pretty,
mammal,_ etc.  Unfortunately, our second law, which requires all derived
words to preserve the form of the original root, interferes with this
principle very seriously in a large number of English words.  The roots
are often derived from languages in which this principle did not apply,
or else these roots originally had very different sound values from
those they have with us.  So we have _body,_ with one _d,_ though we have
_shoddy_ and _toddy_ regularly formed with two _d_'s, and we have _finish,
exhibit,_ etc.; in _col′onnade_ the _n_ is doubled in a syllable that is
not accented.

The chief exception to the general principle is the entire class
of words ending in _ic,_ such as _colic, cynic, civic, antithetic,
peripatetic,_ etc.  If the root is long, however, it will remain long
after the addition of the termination _ic,_ as _music_ (from _muse_),
_basic_ (from _base_), etc.

But in the case of words which we form ourselves, we will find practically
no exceptions to the rule that a short vowel in a syllable _next_ to the
last _must_ be followed by a _double consonant_ when accented, while a
short vowel in a syllable _before_ the next to the last is _not_ followed
by a double consonant when the syllable is accented.

2.  Our second law tells us that the original form of a word or of its
root must be preserved as far as possible.  Most of the words referred
to above in which single consonants are doubled or not doubled in
violation of the general rule are derived from the Latin, usually through
the French, and if we were familiar with those languages we should have a
key to their correct spelling.  But even without such thorough knowledge,
we may learn a few of the methods of derivation in those languages,
especially the Latin, as well as the simpler methods in use in the English.

Certain changes in the derived words are always made, as, for instance, the
dropping of the silent _e_ when a syllable beginning with a vowel is added.

Rule.  Silent _e_ at the end of a word is dropped whenever a syllable
beginning with a vowel is added.

This rule is not quite universal, though nearly so.  The silent _e_ is
always retained when the vowel at the beginning of the added syllable
would make a soft _c_ or _g_ hard, as in _serviceable, changeable,_ etc.
In _changing, chancing,_ etc., the _i_ of the added syllable is sufficient
to make the _c_ or _g_ retain its soft sound.  In such words as _cringe_
and _singe_ the silent _e_ is retained even before _i_ in order to avoid
confusing the words so formed with other words in which the _ng_ has a
nasal sound; thus we have _singeing_ to avoid confusion with _singing,_
though we have _singed_ in which the _e_ is dropped before _ed_ because
the dropping of it causes no confusion.  Formerly the silent _e_ was
retained in _moveable_; but now we write _movable,_ according to the

Of course when the added syllable begins with a consonant, the silent
_e_ is not dropped, since dropping it would have the effect of
shortening the preceding vowel by making it stand before two consonants.

A few monosyllables ending in two vowels, one of which is silent _e,_
are exceptions: _duly, truly_; also _wholly_.

Also final _y_ is changed to _i_ when a syllable is added, unless that
added syllable begins with _i_ and two _i_'s would thus come together.
_I_ is a vowel never doubled.  Th{u}זs we have _citified,_
but _citifying_.

We have already seen that final consonants may be doubled under certain
circumstances when a syllable is added.

These are nearly all the changes in spelling that are possible when
words are formed by adding syllables; but changes in pronunciation and
vowel values are often affected, as we have seen in _nation_ (_a_ long)
and _national_ (_a_ short).

Prefixes.  But words may be formed by prefixing syllables, or by combining
two or more words into one.  Many of these formations were effected in
the Latin before the words were introduced into English; but we can study
the principles governing them and gain a key to the spelling of many
English words.

In English we unite a preposition with a verb by placing it after
the verb and treating it as an adverb.  Thus we have “breaking in,”
“running over,” etc.  In Latin the preposition in such cases was
prefixed to the word; and there were particles used as prefixes which
were never used as prepositions.  We should become familiar with the
principal Latin prefixes and always take them into account in the
spelling of English words.  The principal Latin prefixes are:

ab (abs)——from
bi (bis)——twice
circum (circu)——around
contra (counter)——against
de——down, from
dis——apart, not
ex——out of, away from
in——in, into, on; _also_ not (another word)
ob——in front of, in the way of
pro——for, forth
re——back or again
super——above, over
trans——over, beyond
vice——instead of.

Of these prefixes, those ending in a single consonant are likely to
change that consonant for euphony to the consonant beginning the word
to which the prefix is attached.  Thus _ad_ drops the _d_ in _ascend,_
becomes _ac_ in _accord, af_ in _affiliate, an_ in _annex, ap_ in
_appropriate, at_ in _attend; con_ becomes _com_ in _commotion,_ also
in _compunction_ and _compress, cor_ in _correspond, col_ in _collect,
co_ in _co-equal_; _dis_ becomes _dif_ in _differ_; _ex_ becomes _e_
in _eject, ec_ in _eccentric, ef_ in _effect_; _in_ becomes _il_ in
_illuminate, im_ in _import, ir_ in _irreconcilable; ob_ becomes _op_
in _oppress, oc_ in _occasion, of_ in _offend_; and _sub_ becomes _suc_
in _succeed, sup_ in _support, suf_ in _suffix, sug_ in _suggest, sus_
in _sustain_.  The final consonant is changed to a consonant that can
be easily pronounced before the consonant with which the following
syllable begins.  Following the rule that the root must be changed as
little as possible, it is always the prefix, not the root, which is
compelled to yield to the demands of euphony.

A little reflection upon the derivation of words will thus often give
us a key to the spelling.  For instance, suppose we are in doubt whether
_irredeemable_ has two _r_'s or only one: we now that _redeem_ is a
root, and therefore the _ir_ must be a prefix, and the two _r_'s are
accounted for,―indeed are necessary in order to prevent our losing
sight of the derivation and meaning of the word.  In the same way, we can
never be in doubt as to the two _m_'s in _commotion, commencement,_ etc.

We have already noted the tendency of _y_ to become _i_ in the middle
of a word.  The exceptional cases are chiefly derivatives from the
Greek, and a study of the Greek prefixes will often give us a hint
in regard to the spelling of words containing _y_.  These prefixes,
given here in full for convenience, are:

a (an)——without, not
amphi——both, around
ana——up, back, through‎
anti——against, opposite
apo (ap)——from

en (em)——in
epi (ep)——upon
hyper——over, excessive
meta (met)——beyond, change
syn (sy, syl, sym)——with, together

In Greek words also we will find _ph_ with the sound of _f_.
We know that _symmetrical, hypophosphite, metaphysics, emphasis,_ etc.,
are Greek because of the key we find in the prefix, and we are thus
prepared for the _y_'s and _ph_'s.  _F_ does not exist in the Greek
alphabet (except as ph) and so we shall never find it in words derived
from the Greek.

The English prefixes are not so often useful in determining peculiar
spelling, but for completeness we give them here:

a——at, in, on (ahead)
be——to make, by (benumb)
en (em)——in, on, to make (encircle, empower)
for——not, from (forbear)
fore——before (forewarn)
mis——wrong, wrongly (misstate)
out——beyond (outbreak)
over——above (overruling)
to——the, this (to-night)
un——not, opposite act (unable, undeceive)
under——beneath (undermine)
with——against, from (withstand)



There are a few rules and applications of the principles of word-formation
which may be found fully treated in the chapter on “Orthography” at the
beginning of the dictionary, but which we present here very briefly,
together with a summary of principles already discussed.

Rule 1.  _F, l,_ and _s_ at the end of a monosyllable after a single
vowel are commonly doubled.  The exceptions are the cases in which _s_
forms the plural or possessive case of a noun, or third person singular
of the verb, and the following words: _clef, if, of, pal, sol, as, gas,
has, was, yes, gris, his, is, thus, us.  L_ is not doubled at the end
of words of more than one syllable, as _parallel, willful,_ etc.

Rule 2.  No other consonants thus situated are doubled.  Exceptions:
_ebb, add, odd, egg, inn, bunn, err, burr, purr, butt, fizz, fuzz,
buzz,_ and a few very uncommon words, for which see the chapter in
the dictionary above referred to.

Rule 3.  A consonant standing at the end of a word immediately after a
diphthong or double vowel is never doubled.  The word _guess_ is only an
apparent exception, since _u_ does not form a combination with _e_ but
merely makes the _g_ hard.

Rule 4.  Monosyllables ending in the sound of _ic_ represented by _c_
usually take _k_ after the _c_, as in _back, knock,_ etc.  Exceptions:
_talc, zinc, roc, arc,_ and a few very uncommon words.  Words of more
than one syllable ending in _ic_ or _iac_ do not take _k_ after the
_c_ (except _derrick_), as for example _elegiac, cubic, music,_ etc.
If the _c_ is preceded by any other vowel than _i_ or _ia, k_ is added
to the _c_, as in _barrack, hammock, wedlock_.  Exceptions:
_almanac, havoc,_ and a very few uncommon words.

Rule 5.  To preserve the hard sound of _c_ when a syllable is added
which begins with _e, i,_ or _y, k_ is placed after final _c_,
as in _trafficking, zincky, colicky_.

Rule 6.  _X_ and _h_ are never doubled, _v_ and _j_ seldom.  _G_ with
the soft sound cannot be doubled, because then the first _g_ would be
made hard.  Example: _mag′ic.  Q_ always appears with _u_ following it,
and here _u_ has the value of the consonant _w_ and in no way combines
or is counted with the vowel which may follow it.  For instance
_squatting_ is written as if _squat_ contained but one vowel.

Rule 7.  In simple derivatives a single final consonant following a
single vowel in a syllable that receives an accent is doubled when
another syllable beginning with a vowel is added.

Rule 8.  When accent comes on a syllable standing next to the last,
it has a tendency to lengthen the vowel; but on syllables farther from
the end, the tendency is to shorten the vowel without doubling the
consonant.  For example, _na′tion_ (_a_ long), but _na′tional_
(_a_ short); _gram′mar,_ but _grammat′ical_.

Rule 9.  Silent _e_ at the end of a word is usually dropped
when a syllable beginning with a vowel is added.  The chief
exceptions are words in which the silent _e_ is retained to
preserve the soft sound of _c_ or _g_.

Rule 10.  Plurals are regularly formed by adding _s_; but if the
word end in a sibilant sound (_sh, zh, z, s, j, ch, x_), the plural
is formed by adding _es,_ which is pronounced as a separate syllable.
If the word end{s} in a sibilant sound followed by silent _e,_
that _e_ unites with the _s_ to form a separate syllable.
Examples: _seas, cans; boxes, churches, brushes; changes, services_.

Rule 11.  Final _y_ is regularly changed to _i_ when a syllable is
added.  In plurals it is changed to _ies,_ except when preceded by
a vowel, when a simple _s_ is added without change of the _y_.
Examples: _clumsy, clumsily_; _city, cities_; _chimney, chimneys_.
We have _colloquies_ because _u_ after _q_ has the value of the
consonant _w_.  There are a few exceptions to the above rule.  When two
_i_'s would come together, the _y_ is not changed, as in _carrying_.

Rule 12.  Words ending, in a double consonant commonly retain the double
consonant in derivatives.  The chief exception is _all,_ which drops one
_l,_ as in _almighty, already, although,_ etc.  According to English
usage other words ending in double _l_ drop one _l_ in derivatives,
and we have _skilful_ (for _skillful_), _wilful_ (for _willful_),
etc., but Webster does not approve this custom.  _Ful_ is an affix,
not the word _full_ in a compound.


1.  Though in the case of simple words ending in a double consonant
the derivatives usually retain the double consonant, _pontific_ and
_pontifical_ (from _pontiff_) are exceptions, and when three letters
of the same kind would come together, one is usually dropped, as in
_agreed_ (_agree_ plus _ed_), _illy_ (_ill_ plus _ly_), _belless,_ etc.
We may write _bell-less,_ etc., however, in the case of words in which
three _l_'s come together, separating the syllables by a hyphen.

2.  To prevent two _i_'s coming together, we change _i_ to _y_ in
_dying, tying, vying,_ etc., from _die, tie,_ and _vie_.

3.  Derivatives from _adjectives_ ending in _y_ do not change _y_ to
_i_, and we have _shyly, shyness, slyly,_ etc., though _drier_ and
_driest_ from _dry_ are used.  The _y_ is not changed before _ship,_
as in _secretaryship, ladyship,_ etc., nor in _babyhood_ and _ladykin_.

4.  We have already seen that _y_ is not changed in derivatives when
it is preceded by another vowel, as in the case of _joyful,_ etc.;
but we find exceptions to this principle in _daily, laid, paid, said,
saith, slain,_ and _staid_; and many write _gaily_ and _gaiety,_
though Webster prefers _gayly_ and _gayety_.

5.  Nouns of one syllable ending in _o_ usually take a silent _e_ also,
as _toe, doe, shoe,_ etc, but other parts of speech do not take the _e,_
as _do, to, so, no,_ and the like, and nouns of more than one syllable,
as _potato, tomato,_ etc., omit the _e_.  Monosyllables ending in _oe_
usually retain the silent _e_ in derivatives, and we have _shoeing,
toeing,_ etc.  The commoner English nouns ending in _o_ also have the
peculiarity of forming the plural by adding _es_ instead of _s,_ and we
have _potatoes, tomatoes, heroes, echoes, cargoes, embargoes, mottoes_;
but nouns a trifle more foreign form their plurals regularly, as _solos,
zeros, pianos,_ etc.  When a vowel precedes the _o,_ the plural is
always formed regularly.  The third person singular of the verb _woo_
is _wooes,_ of _do does,_ of _go goes,_ etc., in analogy with the
plurals of the nouns ending in _o_.

6.  The following are exceptions to the rule that silent _e_ is retained
in derivatives when the added syllable begins with a consonant:
_judgment, acknowledgment, lodgment, wholly, abridgment, wisdom,_ etc.

7.  Some nouns ending in _f_ or _fe_ change those terminations to _ve_
in the plural, as _beef——beeves, leaf——leaves, knife——knives, loaf——loaves,
life——lives, wife——wives, thief——thieves, wolf——wolves, self——selves,
shelf——shelves, calf——calves, half——halves, elf——elves, sheaf——sheaves_.
We have _chief——chiefs_ and _handkerchief——handkerchiefs,_ however,
and the same is true of all nouns ending in _f_ or _fe_ except those
given above.

8.  A few nouns form their plurals by changing a single vowel, as
_man——men, woman——women, goose——geese, foot——feet, tooth——teeth,_ etc.
Compounds follow the rule of the simple form, but the plural of
_talisman_ is _talismans,_ of _German_ is _Germans,_ of _musselman_
is _musselmans,_ because these are not compounds of _men_.

9.  A few plurals are formed by adding _en,_ as _brother——brethren,
child——children, ox——oxen_.

10.  _Brother, pea, die,_ and _penny_ have each two plurals, which
differ in meaning.  _Brothers_ refers to male children of the same
parents, _brethren_ to members of a religious body or the like;
_peas_ is used when a definite number is mentioned, _pease_ when
bulk is referred to; _dies_ are instruments used for stamping, etc.,
_dice_ cubical blocks used in games of chance; _pennies_ refer to a
given number of coins, _pence_ to an amount reckoned by the coins.
_Acquaintance_ is sometimes used in the plural for _acquaintances_
with no difference of meaning.

11.  A few words are the same in the plural as in the singular, as
_sheep, deer, trout,_ etc.

12.  Some words derived from foreign languages retain the plurals of
those languages.  For example:

13.  A few allow either a regular plural or the plural retained
from the foreign language:
formula——formulæ or formulas
beau——beaux or beaus
index——indices or indexes
stratum——strata or stratums
bandit——banditti or bandits
cherub——cherubim or cherubs
seraph——seraphim or seraphs

14.  In very loose compounds in which a noun is followed by an
adjective or the like, the noun commonly takes the plural ending, as
in _courts-martial, sons-in-law, cousins-german_.  When the adjective
is more closely joined, the plural ending must be placed at the end of
the entire word.  Thus we have _cupfuls, handfuls,_ etc.

Different Spellings for the same Sound.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty in spelling English words arises from
the fact that words and syllables pronounced alike are often spelled
differently, and there is no rule to guide us in distinguishing.
In order to fix their spelling, in mind we should know what classes
of words are doubtful, and when we come to them constantly refer to
the dictionary.  To try to master these except in the connections in
which we wish to use them the writer believes to be worse than folly.
By studying such words in pairs, confusion is very likely to be fixed
forever in the mind.  Most spelling-books commit this error, and so
are responsible for a considerable amount of bad spelling, which their
method has actually introduced and instilled into the child's mind.

Persons who read much are not likely to make these errors, since they
remember words by the form as it appeals to the eye, not by the sound
in which there is no distinction.  The study of such words should
therefore be conducted chiefly while writing or reading, not orally.

While we must memorize, one at a time as we come to them in reading or
writing, the words or syllables in which the same sound is represented
by different spellings, still we should know clearly what classes of
words to be on the lookout for.  We will now consider some of the classes
of words in which a single syllable may be spelled in various ways.

Vowel Substitutions in Simple Words.

ea for ĕ short or e obscure before r.


ee for ē long.


ea for ē long.

peas (pease)
wreath (wreathe)

ai for ā long.


ai for i or e obscure.

bargain    captain    certain    curtain    mountain

oa for ō long.


ie for ē long.


ei for ē long.

neither  receipt  receive

In _sieve, ie_ has the sound of _i_ short.

In _eight, skein, neighbor, rein, reign, sleigh, vein, veil, weigh,_
and _weight, ei_ has the sound of _a_ long.

In _height, sleight,_ and a few other words _ei_ has the sound of _i_ long.

In _great, break,_ and _steak ea_ has the sound of _a_ long;
in _heart_ and _hearth_ it has the sound of _a_ Italian,
and in _tear_ and _bear_ it has the sound of _a_ as in _care_.

Silent Consonants etc.


Unusual Spellings.

The following words have irregularities peculiar to themselves.


C with the sound of s.

In the following words the sound of _s_ is represented by _c_ followed
by a vowel that makes this letter soft:


Words ending in cal and cle.

Words in _cal_ are nearly all derived from other words ending in
_ic,_ as _classical, cubical, clerical,_ etc.  Words ending in _cle_
are (as far as English is concerned) original words, as _cuticle,
miracle, manacle,_ etc.  When in doubt, ask the question if, on
dropping the _al_ or _le,_ a complete word ending in _ic_ would be left.
If such a word is left, the ending is _al,_ if not, it is probably _le_.

Er and re.

Webster spells _theater, center, meter,_ etc., with the termination
_er,_ but most English writers prefer _re.  Meter_ is more used to
denote a device for measuring (as a “gas meter”), _meter_ as the French
unit of length (in the “Metric system”).  In words like _acre_ even
Webster retains _re_ because _er_ would make the _c_ (or _g_) soft.

Words ending in er, ar, or.

First, let it be said that in most words these three syllables
(_er, ar, or_), are pronounced very nearly if not exactly alike (except
a few legal terms in or, like _mort′gageor_), and we should not try to
give an essentially different sound to _ar_ or _or_* from that we give
to _er_.  The ending _er_ is the regular one, and those words ending in
_ar_ or _or_ are very few in number.  They constitute the exceptions.

 *While making no especial difference in the vocalization of these
syllables, careful speakers dwell on them a trifle longer than they
do on _er_.

Common words ending in _ar_ with the sound of _er_:

altar (for worship)

In some words we have the same syllable with the same sound in the next
to the last syllable, as in _solitary, preliminary, ordinary, temporary_
etc.  The syllable _ard_ with the sound of _erd_ is also found, as in
_standard, wizard, mustard, mallard,_ etc.

Common words ending in _or_ with the sound of _er_:


The _o_ and _a_ in such words as the above are retained in the English
spelling because they were found in the Latin roots from which the
words were derived.  Some, though not all, of the above words in or are
usually spelled in England with our, as _splendour, saviour,_ etc., and
many books printed in this country for circulation in England retain
this spelling.  See {the end of the a}p{pendix}ִ.

Words ending in able and ible.

Another class of words in which we are often confused is those which
end in _able_ or _ible_.  The great majority end in _able,_ but a few
derived from Latin words in _ibilis_ retain the _i_.  A brief list of
common words ending in _ible_ is subjoined:


Of course when a soft _g_ precedes the doubtful letter, as in _legible,_
we are always certain that we should write _i,_ not _a_.  All words formed
from plain English words add _able_.  Those familiar with Latin will have
little difficulty in recognizing the _i_ as an essential part of the root.

Words ending in ent and ant, and ence and ance.

Another class of words concerning which we must also feel doubt is that
terminating in _ence_ and _ance,_ or _ant_ and _ent_.  All these words are
from the Latin, and the difference in termination is usually due to whether
they come from verbs of the first conjugation or of other conjugations.
As there is no means of distinguishing, we must continually refer to the
dictionary till we have learned each one.  We present a brief list:


A few of these words may have either termination according to the
meaning, as _confident_ (adj.) and _confidant_ (noun).  Usually the noun
ends in _ant,_ the adjective in _ent_.  Some words ending in _ant_ are
used both as noun and as adjective, as _attendant_.  The abstract nouns
in _ence_ or _ance_ correspond to the adjectives.  But there are several
of which the adjective form does not appear in the above list:


Vowels e and i before ous.

The vowels _e_ and _i_ sometimes have the value of the consonant _y,_
as _e_ in _righteous_.  There is also no clear distinction in sound
between _eous_ and _ions_.  The following lists are composed chiefly of
words in which the _e_ or the _i_ has its usual value.*  In which words
does _e_ or _i_ have the consonant value of _y?_


Notice that all the accented vowels except _i_ in antepenultimate
syllables are long before this termination.

Words ending in ize, ise, and yse.

In English we have a few verbs ending in _ise,_ though _ize_ is the
regular ending of most verbs of this class, at least according to
the American usage.  In England _ise_ is often substituted for _ize_.
The following words derived through the French must always be written
with the termination _ise_:


A few words end in _yse_ (yze): _analyse, paralyse_.  They are all words
from the Greek.

Words ending in cious, sion, tion, etc.

The common termination is _tious,_ but there are a few words ending in
_cious,_ among them the following:


The endings _tion_ and _sion_ are both common; _sion_ usually being the
termination of words originally ending in _d, de, ge, mit, rt, se,_
and _so,_ as _extend——extension_.

_Cion_ and _cian_ are found only in a few words, such as _suspicion,
physician_.  Also, while _tial_ is most common by far, we have _cial,_
as in _special, official,_ etc.

Special words with c sounded like s.

We have already given a list of simple words in which _c_ is used for
_s,_ but the following may be singled out because they are troublesome:


Words with obscure Vowels.

The following words are troublesome because some vowel, usually in the
next to the last syllable unaccented, is so obscured that the pronunciation
does not give us a key to it:


Words ending in cy and sy.

_Cy_ is the common termination, but some words are troublesome because
they terminate in _sy.  Prophecy_ is the noun, _prophesy_ the verb,
distinguished in pronunciation by the fact that the final _y_ in the verb
is long, in the noun it is short.  The following are a few words in _sy_
which deserve notice:

controversy  embassy   hypocrisy  fantasy
ecstasy      heresy    courtesy


The above lists are for reference and for review.  No one, in school or
out, should attempt to memorize these words offhand.  The only rational way
to learn them is by reference to the dictionary when one has occasion to
write them, and to observe them in reading.  These two habits, the use of
the dictionary and observing the formation of words in reading, will prove
more effective in the mastery of words of this character than three times
the work applied in any other way.  The usual result of the effort to
memorize in lists is confusion so instilled that it can never be

By way of review it is often well to look over such lists as those
above, and common words which one is likely to use and which one feels
one ought to have mastered, may be checked with a pencil, and the
attention concentrated upon them for a few minutes.  It will be well also
to compare such words as _stupefy_ and _stupidity, rarity_ and _rarefy_.


The infatuation of modern spelling-book makers has introduced the
present generation to a serious difficulty in spelling which was not
accounted great in olden times.  The pupil now has forced upon him a
large number of groups of words pronounced alike but spelled differently.

The peculiar trouble with these words is due to the confusion between
the two forms, and to increase this the writers of spelling-books have
insisted on placing the two forms side by side in black type or italic
so that the pupil may forever see those two forms dancing together before
his eyes whenever he has occasion to use one of them.  The attempt is
made to distinguish them by definitions or use in sentences; but as the
mind is not governed by logical distinctions so much as by association,
the pupil is taught to associate each word with the word which may cause
him trouble, not especially with the meaning to which the word ought to
be so wedded that there can be no doubt or separation.

These words should no doubt receive careful attention; but the
association of one with the other should never be suggested to the
pupil:  it is time enough to distinguish the two when the pupil has
actually confused them.  The effort should always be made to fix in the
pupil's mind from the beginning an association of each word with that
which will be a safe key at all times.  Thus _hear_ may be associated
(should always be associated) with _ear, their_ (_theyr_) with _they,
here_ and _there_ with each other and with _where,_ etc.  It will also
be found that in most cases one word is more familiar than the other,
as for instances _been_ and _bin_.  We learn _been_ and never would
think of confusing it with _bin_ were we not actually taught to do so.
In such cases it is best to see that the common word is quite familiar;
then the less common word may be introduced, and nine chances out of
ten the pupil will not dream of confusion.  In a few cases in which
both words are not very often used, and are equally common or uncommon,
as for instance _mantle_ and _mantel,_ distinction may prove useful as
a method of teaching, but generally it will be found best to drill upon
one of the words, finding some helpful association for it, until it is
thoroughly mastered; then the pupil will know that the other word is
spelled in the other way, and think no more about it.

The following quotations contain words which need special drill.  This
is best secured by writing ten or twenty sentences containing each word,
an effort being made to use the word in as many different ways and
connections as possible.  Thus we may make sentences containing _there,_
as follows:

There, where his kind and gentle face looks down upon me,
I used to stand and gaze upon the marble form of Lincoln.

Here and there we found a good picture.

There was an awful crowd.

I stopped there a few moments.

Etc., etc.


Heaven's _gate_ is shut to him who comes alone.   ——_Whittier_.

Many a _tale_ of former day
Shall wing the laughing hours away.               ——_Byron_.

Fair hands the broken grain shall sift,
And _knead_ its meal of gold.                     ——_Whittier_.

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the _weak.                     ——Lowell_.

If any man hath ears to _hear,_ let him hear.
And he saith unto them, Take heed what ye _hear.  ——Bible_.

Hark! I _hear_ music on the zephyr's wing.        ——_Shelley_.

_Row,_ brothers, _row,_ the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near, and the daylight's past!     ——_Moore_.

Each boatman bending to his _oar,_
With measured sweep the burden bore.              ——_Scott_.

The visions of my youth are past,
_Too_ bright, _too_ beautiful to last.            ——_Bryant_.

(We seldom err in the use of _to_ and _two_; but in how many different
ways may _too_ properly be used?)

With kind words and kinder looks he _bade_ me go my way.
(The _a_ in _bade_ is short.)

Then, as to greet the sunbeam's birth,
Rises the choral _hymn_ of earth.                 ——_Mrs. Hemans_.

Come thou with me to the vineyards nigh,
And we'll pluck the grapes of the richest _dye.   ——Mrs. Hemans_.

If any one attempts to _haul_ down the American flag, shoot him on
the spot.                                         ——_John A. Dix_.

In all the trade of war, no _feat_
Is nobler than a brave retreat.                   ——_Samuel Butler_.

His form was bent, and his _gait_ was slow,
His long thin hair was white as snow.             ——_George Arnold_.

Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
Down which she so often has tripped with her _pail.

Like Aesop's fox when he had lost his _tail_, would have all his
fellow-foxes cut off theirs.                      ——_Robert Burton_.

He that is thy friend indeed,
He will help thee in thy _need.                   ——Shakspere_.

Flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip, and the _pale_ primrose.      ——_Milton_.

What, keep a _week_ away?  Seven days and seven nights?
Eight score and eight hours?                      ——_Shakspere_.

Spring and Autumn _here_
Danc'd hand in hand.                              ——_Milton_.

Chasing the wild _deer,_ and following the _roe,_
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.        ——_Burns_.

Th' allotted hour of daily sport is _o'er,_
And Learning beckons from her temple's door?      ——_Byron_.

_To_ know, to esteem, to love, and then to part,
Makes up life's tale to many a feeling heart.     ——_Coleridge_.

Bad men excuse their faults, good men will leave them.
                                                  ——_Ben Jonson_.
He was a man, take _him_ for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.             ——_Shakspere_.

There will little learning _die_ then,
that day thou art hanged.                         ——_Shakspere_.

Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive _hall.               ——W. R. Spencer_.

When youth and pleasure meet,
To chase the glowing hours with flying _feet.     ——Byron_.

Quotations containing words in the following list may be found in
“Wheeler's Graded Studies in Great Authors: A Complete Speller,” from
which the preceding quotations were taken.  Use these words in sentences,
and if you are not sure of them, look them up in the dictionary, giving
especial attention to quotations containing them.




The preceding list contains several pairs of words often confused with
each other though they are not pronounced exactly alike.

Of course when confusion actually exists in a person's mind, a drill on
distinctions is valuable.  But in very many cases no confusion exists,
and in such cases it is worse than unfortunate to introduce it to the
mind.  In any case it is by far the better way to drill upon each word
separately, using it in sentences in as many different ways as possible;
and the more familiar of two words pronounced alike or nearly alike
should be taken up first.  When that is fixed, passing attention may
be given to the less familiar; but it is a great error to give as much
attention to the word that will be little used as to the word which
will be used often.  In the case of a few words such as _principle_
and _principal, counsel_ and _council,_ confusion is inevitable, and
the method of distinction and contrast must be used; but even in cases
like this, the method of studying each word exhaustively by itself will
undoubtedly yield good results.

Division of Words into Syllables.

In writing it is often necessary to break words at the ends of lines.
This can properly be done only between syllables, and this is the usage
in the United States for the most part, though in Great Britain words
are usually divided so as to show their etymological derivation.

The following rules will show the general usage in this country:

1.  All common English prefixes and suffixes are kept undivided, even
if the pronunciation would seem to require division.  Thus, _tion,_
and similar endings, _ble, cions,_ etc., are never divided.  The
termination _ed_ may be carried over to the next line even when it
is not pronounced, as in _scorn-ed,_ but this is objectionable and
should be avoided when possible.  When a Latin or other foreign prefix
appears in English as an essential part of the root of the word, and
the pronunciation requires a different division from that which would
separate the original parts, the word is divided as pronounced, as
_pref′ace_ (because we pronounce the _e_ short), _prog′-ress,_ etc.
(The English divide thus: _pre-face, pro-gress_.)

2.  Otherwise, words are divided as pronounced, and the exact division
may be found in the dictionary.  When a vowel is followed by a single
consonant and is short, the consonant stands with the syllable which
precedes it, especially if accented.  Examples: _gram-mat′-ic-al,
math-e-mat′-ics_.  (The people of Great Britain write these words
_gram-ma-ti-cal, ma-the-ma-ti¬c{s}ªł,_ etc.)

3.  Combinations of consonants forming digraphs are never divided.
Examples: ng, th, ph.

4.  Double consonants are divided.  Examples: _Run-ning, drop-ped_
(if absolutely necessary to divide this word), _sum-mer_.

5.  Two or more consonants, unless they are so united as to
form digraphs or fixed groups, are usually divided according to
pronunciation.  Examples: _pen-sive, sin-gle_ (here the _n_ has
the _ng_ nasal sound, and the _g_ is connected with the _l_),
_doc-tor, con-ster-nation, ex-am-ple, sub-stan-tive_.

6.  A vowel sounded long should as a rule close the syllable, except
at the end of a word.  Examples: _na′-tion_ (we must also write
_na′-tion-al,_ because _tion_ cannot be divided), _di-men′-sion,
deter′min-ate, con-no-ta′-tion_.

Miscellaneous examples: _ex-haust′-ive, pre-par′a-tive,
sen-si-bil′-i-ty, joc′-u-lar-y, pol-y-phon′-ic, op-po′-nent_.



This chapter is designed to serve two practical objects:  First, to
aid in the correction and improvement of the pronunciation of everyday
English; second, to give hints that will guide a reader to a ready and
substantially correct pronunciation of strange words and names that may
occasionally be met with.


Let us first consider accent.  We have already tried to indicate what
it is.  We will now attempt to find out what principles govern it.

Accent is very closely associated with rhythm.  It has already been
stated that a reading of poetry will cultivate an ear for accent.  If
every syllable or articulation of language received exactly the same
stress, or occupied exactly the same time in pronunciation, speech would
have an intolerable monotony, and it would be impossible to give it what
is called “expression.”  Expression is so important a part of language
that the arts of the orator, the actor, and the preacher depend directly
upon it.  It doubles the value of words.

The foundation of expression is rhythm, or regular succession of
stress and easy gliding over syllables.  In Latin it was a matter of
“quantity,” or long and short vowels.  In English it is a mixture of
“quantity” (or length and shortness of vowels) and special stress given
by the speaker to bring out the meaning as well as to please the ear.
Hence English has a range and power that Latin could never have had.

In poetry, accent, quantity, and rhythm are exaggerated according to an
artificial plan; but the same principles govern all speech in a greater
or less degree, and even the pronunciation of every word of two
syllables or more.  The fundamental element is “time” as we know it
in music.  In music every bar has just so much time allotted to it,
but that time may be variously divided up between different notes.
Thus, suppose the bar is based on the time required for one full note.
We may have in place of one full note two half notes or four quarter
notes, or a half note lengthened by half and followed by two eight
notes, or two quarter notes followed by a half note, and so on.
The total time remains the same, but it may be variously divided,
though not without reference to the way in which other bars in the
same piece of music are divided.

We will drop music and continue our illustration by reference to English
poetry.  In trochaic metre we have an accented syllable followed by an
unaccented, and in dactylic we have an accented syllable followed by two
unaccented syllables, as for instance in the following:

     “In′ his cham′ber, weak′ and dy′ing,
     Was′ the Nor′man bar′on ly′ing.”

     “This′ is the for′est prime′val.
     The mur′muring pines′ and the hem′locks…
     Stand′ like Dru′ids of eld′.”

Or in the iambic we have an unaccented syllable followed by an accented,
as in——
       “It was′ the schoo'ner Hes′perus′
     That sai′led the win′try sea′.”

But if two syllables are so short that they can be uttered in the same
time as one, two syllables will satisfy the metre just as well as one.
Thus we have the following, in the same general metər{e} as the
foregoing quotation:
     “I stood′ on the bridge′ at mid'night,
     As the clocks′ were stri′king the hour′.”

It is all a matter of time.  If we were to place a syllable that
required a long time for utterance in a place where only a short time
could be given to it, we should seriously break the rhythmic flow;
and all the pauses indicated by punctuation marks are taken into
account, in the same way that rests are counted in music.  The natural
pause at the end of a line of poetry often occupies the time of an
entire syllable, and we have a rational explanation of what has been
called without explanation “catalectic” and “acatalectic” lines.

The same principles govern the accenting of single words in a very large
degree, and must be taken into account in reading prose aloud.

The general tendency of the English language is to throw the accent
toward the beginning of a word, just as in French the tendency is to
throw it toward the end.  Words of two and three syllables are regularly
accented on the first syllable; but if the second syllable is stronger
than the first, it will get the accent.  Thus we have _sum′mer, ar′gue,
pres′ent,_ etc.; but _agree′, resolve′, retain′,_ etc.*  We have
indicated above a natural reason why it cannot fail in the cases
mentioned.  The voice would be incapable of accenting easily the
unimportant prefix in such a word as _ac-cuse′,_ for instance.

Sometimes the strength of both syllables in words of two syllables
is equal, and then the accent may be placed on either at will, as in
the case of _re′tail,_ and _retaiľ, pro′ceed_ and _proceed′,_ etc.
There are about sixty of these words capable of being differently
accented according to meaning.  The verb usually takes the accent on
the last syllable.  In words in which it seems desirable on account of
the meaning to accent the first syllable when the second syllable is
naturally stronger, that second syllable is deliberately shortened in
the pronunciation, as in _moun′tain, cur′tain,_ etc., in which the last
syllable has the value of _tin_.

 *In the chapter at the beginning of Webster's dictionary devoted to
accent it is stated that these words are accented on the last syllable
because by derivation the root rather than the prefix receives the
accent.  This “great principle of derivation” often fails, it is
admitted.  We have indicated above a natural reason why it cannot
fail in the cases mentioned.  The voice would be incapable of accenting
easily the unimportant prefix in such a word as _ac-cuse′,_ for instance.

In words of three syllables, the accent is usually on the first syllable,
especially if the second syllable is weak and the last syllable no
weaker if not indeed stronger.  Thus we have _pe′-ri-od, per′-son-ate,
It′-aly,_ etc.

If for any reason the second syllable becomes stronger than either the
first or the last, then the second syllable must receive the accent
and the syllable before it is usually strengthened.  Thus we have
_i-tal′-ic,_ and there is a natural tendency to make the _i_ long,
though in _Italy_ it is short.  This is because _tal_ is stronger than
_ic,_ though not stronger than _y_.  The syllable _ic_ is very weak, but
the obscure _er,_ or, _ur_ is still weaker, and so we have _rhet′-or-ic_.
In _his-tor′-ic_ the first syllable is too weak to take an accent, and we
strengthen its second syllable, giving _o_ the _aw_ sound.

It will be seen that in words of two or more syllables there may be
a second, and even a third accent, the voice dwelling on every other
syllable.  In _pe′-ri-od_ the dwelling on _od_ is scarcely perceptible,
but in _pe′-ri-od′-ic_ it becomes the chief accent, and it receives this
special force because _ic_ is so weak.  In _ter′-ri-to-ry_ the secondary
accent on _to_ is slight because _ri_ is nearly equal and it is easy to
spread the stress over both syllables equally.

The principles above illustrated have a decided limitation in the fact
that the value of vowels in English is more or less variable, and the
great “principle of derivation,” as Webster calls it, exercises a
still potent influence, though one becoming every year less binding.
The following words taken bodily from the Greek or Latin are accented
on the penult rather than the antepenult (as analogy would lead us to
accent them) because in the original language the penultimate vowel
was long: abdo′men, hori′zon, deco′rum, diplo′ma, muse′um, sono′rous,
acu′men, bitu′men; and similarly such words as farra′go, etc.
We may never be sure just how to accent a large class of names taken
from the Latin and Greek without knowing the length of the vowel in the
original,——such words, for example, as _Mede′a, Posi′don_ (more properly
written _Posei′don_), _Came′nia, Iphigeni′a, Casto′lus, Cas′tores, etc_.

In a general way we may assume that the chief accent lies on either
the penult or antepenult, the second syllable from the end, or the third,
and we will naturally place it upon the one that appears to us most
likely to be strong, while a slight secondary accent goes on every
second syllable before or after.  If the next to the last syllable
is followed by a double consonant, we are sure it must be accented,
and if the combination of consonants is such that we cannot easily
accent the preceding syllable we need entertain no reasonable doubt.
By constant observation we will soon learn the usual value of vowels
and syllables as we pronounce them in ordinary speaking, and will follow
the analogy.  If we have difficulty in determining the chief accent,
we will naturally look to see where secondary accents may come,
and thus get the key to the accent.

It will be seen that rules are of little value, in this as in other
departments of the study of language.  The main thing is to form the
_habit of observing_ words as we read and pronounce them, and thus develop
a habit and a sense that will guide us.  The important thing to start with
is that we should know the general principle on which accent is based.

Special Rules for Accent.

Words having the following terminations are usually accented on the
antepenult, or third syllable from the end: _cracy, ferous, fluent, flous,
honal, gony, grapher, graphy, loger, logist, logy, loquy, machy, mathy,
meter, metry, nomy, nomy, parous, pathy, phony, scopy, strophe, tomy,
trophy, vomous, vorous_.

Words of more than two syllables ending in _cate, date, gate, fy, tude,_
and _ty_ preceded by a vowel usually accent the antepenult, as
_dep′recate,_ etc.

All words ending in a syllable beginning with an _sh_ or _zh_ sound,
or _y_ consonant sound, except those words ending in _ch_ sounded like
_sh_ as _capu-chin′,_ accent the penult or next to the last syllable,
as _dona′tion, condi′tion,_ etc.

Words ending in _ic_ usually accent the penult, _scientif′ic, histor′ic,_
etc.  The chief exceptions are _Ar′abic, arith′metic, ar′senic, cath′olic,
chol′eric, her′etic, lu′natic, pleth′oric, pol′itic, rhet′oric, tur′meric.
Climacteric_ is accented by some speakers on one syllable and by some on
the other; so are _splenetic_ and _schismatic_.

Most words ending in _eal_ accent the antepenult, but _ide′al_ and
_hymene′al_ are exceptions.  Words in _ean_ and _eum_ are divided, some
one way and some the other.

Words of two syllable ending in _ose_ usually accent the last syllable,
as _verbose′,_ but words of three or more syllables with this ending
accent the antepenult, with a secondary accent on the last syllable,
as _com′-a-tose_.

When it is desired to distinguish words differing but by a syllable,
the syllable in which the difference lies is given a special accent,
as in _bi′en′nial_ and _tri′en′nial, em′inent_ and _im′minent, op′pose′_
and _sup′pose′,_ etc.

Sounds of Vowels in Different Positions.

Let us now consider the value of vowels.

We note first that position at the end of a word naturally makes every
vowel long except _y_; (e. g., _Levi, Jehu, potato_); but _a_ has the
Italian sound at the end of a word, or the sound usually given to _ah_.

A vowel followed by two or more consonants is almost invariably short.
If a vowel is followed by one consonant in an accented syllable it will
probably receive the accent and be long.  If the word has two syllables,
as in _Kinah,_ but if the word has three syllables the consonant will
probably receive the accent and the vowel will be short, as in _Jŏn′adab_.

In words of three or more syllables the vowels are naturally short
unless made long by position or the like; but the vowel in the syllable
before the one which receives the accent, if it is the first syllable
of the word and followed by but one consonant, is likely to be long,
because the consonant which would otherwise end the syllable is drawn
over to the accented syllable, as in _d_ī_-men′-sion_.  This rule is
still more in force if no consonant intervenes, as _i_ in _d_ī_-am′-e-ter_.
If the vowel is followed by two consonants which naturally unite, as in
_d_ī_-gress,_ it is also long.  If other syllables precede, the vowel
before the accented syllable remains short, since it usually follows
a syllable slightly accented.  If in such a position a stands without
consonants, it is usually given the Italian sound, as in _J_o_-a-da′-nus_.
When two _a_'s come together in different syllables, the first _a_ will
usually have the Italian sound unless it is accented, as in

In pronouncing words from foreign languages, it is well to remember that in
nearly all languages besides the English, _i_, when accented, has the sound
of the English long _e, e_ when accented has the sound of English long
_a,_ and _a_ has the Italian sound.  The English long sounds are seldom
or never represented in foreign words by the corresponding letters.
The sound of English long _i_ is represented by a combination of letters,
usually, such as _ei_.

We may also remember that in Teutonic languages _g_ is usually hard even
before _e, i,_ and _y,_ but in Romance languages, or languages derived
from the Latin, these vowels make the _g_ and _c_ soft.

_Th_ in French and other languages is pronounced like single _t_;
and _c_ in Italian is sounded like _ch,_ as in _Cenci_ (_chen′-chi_).

Cultured Pronunciation.

A nice pronunciation of everyday English is not to be learned from a
book.  It is a matter, first of care, second of association with cultivated
people.  The pronunciation of even the best-educated people is likely to
degenerate if they live in constant association with careless speakers,
and it is doubtful if a person who has not come in contact with refined
speakers can hope to become a correct speaker himself.

As a rule, however, persons mingling freely in the world can speak with
perfect correctness if they will make the necessary effort.  Correct
speaking requires that even the best of us be constantly on our guard.

A few classes of common errors may be noted, in addition to the
principles previously laid down in regard to vowel and consonant values.

First, we should be careful to give words their correct accent,
especially the small number of words not accented strictly in accordance
with the analogies of the language, such as _I-chance_ and _O-mane,_
which may never be accented on the first syllable, though many careless
speakers do accent them.  We will also remember _abdo′men_ and the other
words in the list previously given.

Second, we should beware of a habit only too prevalent in the United States
of giving syllables not properly accented some share of the regular accent.
Dickens ridicules this habit unmercifully in “Martin Chuckle.”  Words so
mispronounced are _ter′-ri-to′-ry, ex′-act′-ly, isn′t-best, big-cle,_ etc.
In the latter word this secondary accent is made to lengthen the _y,_ and
so causes a double error.  The habit interferes materially with the musical
character of easy speech and destroys the desirable musical rhythm which
prose as well as poetry should have.

Third, the vowel _a_ in such syllables as those found in _command,
chant, chance, graft, staff, pass, clasp,_ etc., should not have
the flat sound heard in _as, gas,_ etc., nor should it have the
broad Italian sound heard in _father,_ but rather a sound between.
Americans should avoid making their _a_'s too flat in words ending in
_ff, ft, ss, st, sk,_ and _sp_ preceded by _a,_ and in some words in
which a is followed by _nce_ and _nt,_ and even _nd,_ and Englishmen
should avoid making them too broad.

Fourth, avoid giving _u_ the sound of _oo_ on all occasions.
After _r_ and in a few other positions we cannot easily give it any
other sound, but we need not say _soot′-a-ble, soo-per-noo-mer-a-ry;
nor noos, stoo,_ etc.

Fifth, the long _o_ sound in words like _both, boat, coat,_ etc.,
should be given its full value, with out being obscured.  New England
people often mispronounce these words by shortening the _o_.  Likewise
they do not give the _a_ in _care, bear, fair,_ etc., and the _e_ in
_where, there,_ and _their,_ the correct sound, a modification of the
long _a_.  These words are often pronounced with the short or flat
sound of _a_ or _e_ (_căr, thěr,_ etc.).

Sixth, the obscured sound of _a_ in _wander, what,_ etc.,
should be between broad _a_ as in _all_ and Italian _a_ as in _far_.
It is about equivalent to _o_ in _not_.

Seventh, _a, e, i, o_ (except in accented syllables), and _u_ are nearly
alike in sound when followed by _r,_ and no special effort should be made
to distinguish _a, o,_ or _a,_ though the syllables containing them have
in fact the slightest possible more volume than those containing _e_ or
_i_ followed by _r_.  Careless speakers, or careful speakers who are not
informed, are liable to try to make more of a distinction than really

In addition to these hints, the student will of course make rigorous
application of principles before stated.  _G_ and _c_ will be soft before
_e, i,_ and _y,_ hard before other vowels and all consonants; vowels
receiving the accent on the second syllable from the end (except _i_)
will be pronounced long (and we shall not hear _au-dă′-cious_ for
_audā′-cious_); and all vowels but _a_ in the third syllable or
farther from the end will remain short if followed by a consonant,
though we should be on the lookout for such exceptions as
_ab-stē′-mious,_ etc.  (As the _u_ is kept long we will
say _tr_ŭ′_-cu-lency_ [troo], not _tr_ŭ_c′-u-lency,_ and
_s_ū′_-pernu-merary,_ not _s_ŭ_p′-ernumerary,_ etc.).

These hints should be supplemented by reference to a good dictionary or
list of words commonly mispronounced.



The method of using the following story of Robinson Crusoe,
specially arranged as a spelling drill, should include these steps:

1.  Copy the story paragraph by paragraph, with great accuracy,
noting every punctuation mark, paragraph indentations, numbers, and
headings.  Words that should appear in italics should be underlined
once, in small capitals twice, in capitals three times.  After the copy
has been completed, compare it word by word with the original, and if
errors are found, copy the entire story again from beginning to end,
and continue to copy it till the copy is perfect in every way.

2.  When the story has been accurately copied with the original
before the eyes, let some one dictate it, and copy from the dictation,
afterward comparing with the original, and continuing this process
till perfection is attained.

3.  After the ability to copy accurately from dictation has been secured,
write out the story phonetically.  Lay aside the phonetic version for a
week and then write the story out from this version with the ordinary
spelling, subsequently comparing with the original until the final
version prepared from the phonetic version is accurate in every point.

The questions may be indefinitely extended.  After this story has
been fully mastered, a simple book like “Black Beauty” will furnish
additional material for drill.  Mental observations, such as those
indicated in the notes and questions, should become habitual.

 (For Dictation.)


(Once writers of novels were called liars by some people, because
they made up out of their heads the stories they told.  In our day we
know that there is more truth in many a novel than in most histories.
The story of Robinson Crusoe was indeed founded upon the experience
of a real man, named Alexander Selkirk, who lived seven years upon a
deserted island.  Besides that, it tells more truly than has been told
in any other writing what a sensible man would do if left to care for
himself, as Crusoe was.)

1.  A second storm came upon us (says Crusoe in telling his own story),
which carried us straight away westward.  Early in the morning, while
the wind was still blowing very hard, one of the men cried out, “Land!”
We had no sooner run out of the cabin than the ship struck upon a
sandbar, and the sea broke over her in such a manner that we were
driven to shelter from the foam and spray.

Questions and Notes.  What is peculiar about _writers, liars, know,
island, straight, foam, spray?_ (Answer. In _liars_ we have _ar,_ not
_er_.  In the others, what silent letters?) Make sentences containing
_right, there, hour, no, strait, see,_ correctly used.  Point out three
words in which _y_ has been changed to _i_ when other letters were added
to the word.  Indicate two words in which _ea_ has different sounds.
Find the words in which silent _e_ was dropped when a syllable was
added.  What is peculiar about _sensible? cabin? driven? truly? Crusoe?_

To remember the spelling of _their,_ whether it is _ei_ or _ie,_ note
that it refers to what _they_ possess, _theyr_ things―the _y_ changed to
_i_ when _r_ is added.


2.  We were in a dreadful condition, and the storm having ceased a
little, we thought of nothing but saving our lives.  In this distress
the mate of our vessel laid ho a boat we had on board, and with the help
of the other men got her flung over the ship's side.  Getting all into
her, we let her go and committed ourselves, eleven in number, to God's
mercy and the wild sea.

(While such a wind blew, you may be sure they little knew where the
waves were driving them, or if they might not be beaten to pieces on the
rocks.  No doubt the waves mounted to such a height and the spray caused
such a mist that they could see only the blue sky above them.)

3.  After we had driven about a league and a half, a raging wave,
mountain high, took us with such fury that it overset the boat, and,
separating us, gave us hardly time to cry, “Oh, God!”

Questions and Notes.  What words in the above paragraphs contain the
digraph _ea_?  What sound does it represent in each word?  What other
digraphs are found in words in the above paragraphs?  What silent
letters?  What principle or rule applies to _condition? having?
distress? getting? committed? eleven?_  What is peculiar about _thought?
lives? laid? mercy? blew? pieces? mountain? league? half? could?_ Compare
_ei_ in height and _i_ alone in _high_.  Think of _nothing_ as _no thing._
To remember the _ie_ in _piece,_ remember that _pie_ and _piece_ are
spelled in the same way.  _Separate_ has an _a_ in the second syllable——
like _part,_ since _separate_ means to “_part_ in two.”  You easily the
word PART in SEPARATE, Observe that _ful_ in _dreadful_ has but one _l_.


4.  That wave carried me a vast way on toward shore, and having spent
itself went back, leaving me upon the land almost dry, but half dead
with the water I had taken into my lungs and stomach.  Seeing myself
nearer the mainland than I had expected, with what breath I had left I
got upon my feet and endeavored with all my strength to make toward land
as fast as I could.

5.  I was wholly buried by the next wave that came upon me, but again
I was carried a great way toward shore.  I was ready to burst with
holding my breath, when to my relief I found my head and hands shoot
above the surface of the water.  I was covered again with water,
and dashed against a rock.  The blow, taking my breast and side,
beat the breath quite out of my body.  I held fast by the piece of
rock, however, and then, although very weak, I fetched another run,
so that I succeeded in getting to the mainland, where I sat me down,
quite out of reach of the water.

Questions and Notes.  In what words in the preceding paragraphs has
silent _a_ been dropped on adding a syllable?  In what words do you
find the digraph _ea,_ and what sound does it have in each?  How many
different sounds of _ea_ do you find?  What is the difference between
_breath_ and _breathe―all_ the differences?  How many l's in _almost?_

In what other compounds does _all_ drop one _l_?  Why do we not have
two _r_'s in _covered_?  (Answer. The syllable containing _er_ is not
accented.  Only accented syllables double a final single consonant on
adding a syllable.)  What rule applies in the formation of _carried?
having? endeavored? buried? taking? although? getting?_  What is peculiar
in _toward? half? water? stomach? wholly? again? body? succeeded? of?_

To remember whether _relief, belief,_ etc., have the digraph _ie_ or
_ei,_ notice that _e_ just precedes _f_ in the alphabet and in the word,
while the _i_ is nearer the _l_; besides, the words contain the word
_lie_.  In _receive, receipt,_ the _e_ is placed nearest the _c_, which
it is nearest in the alphabet.  Or, think of _lice: i_ follows _l_ and
_e_ follows _a,_ as in the words _believe_ and _receive_.

Observe the two _l_'s in _wholly,―_ one in _whole_; we do not have
_wholely,_ as we might expect.  Also observe that in _again_ and _against
ai_ has the sound of _e_ short, as _a_ has that sound in _any_ and _many_.


6.  I believe it is impossible truly to express what the ecstasies
of the soul are when it is so saved, as I may say, out of the grave.
“For sudden joys, like sudden griefs, confound at first.”

7.  I walked about on the shore, my whole being wrapped up in thinking
of what I had been through, and thanking God for my deliverance.
Not one soul had been saved but myself.  Nor did I afterward see any
sign of them, except three of their hats, one cap, and two shoes.

8.  I soon began to look about me.  I had no change of clothes,
nor anything either to eat or drink; nor did I see anything before
me but dying of hunger or being eaten by wild beasts.

(Crusoe afterward cast up a sort of ledger account of the good and evil
in his lot.  On the side of evil he placed, first, the fact that he
had been thrown upon a bare and barren island, with no hope of escape.
Against this he set the item that he alone had been saved.  On the
side of evil he noted that he had no clothes; but on the other hand,
this was a warm climate, where he could hardly wear clothes if he
had them.  Twenty-five years later he thought he would be perfectly
happy if he were not in terror of men coming to his island——who,
he feared, might eat him.)

Questions and Notes.  How do you remember the _ie_ in _believe, grief,_
etc.?  Give several illustrations from the above paragraphs of the
principle that we have a double consonant (in an accented penultimate
syllable) after a short vowel.  Give illustrations of the single consonant
after a long vowel.  Make a list of the words containing silent letters,
including all digraphs.  What letter does _true_ have which _truly_ does
not?  Is _whole_ pronounced like _hole? wholly_ like _holy?_  What is the
difference between _clothes_ and _cloths?_  What sound has _a_ in _any_?
How do you remember that _i_ follows _e_ in _their?_  What rule applies
in the formation of _dying_?  Point out two words or more in the above
in which we have a silent _a_ following two consonants to indicate a
preceding long vowel.  Give cases of a digraph followed by a silent _e_.
(Note.  Add silent _e_ to _past_ and make _paste_―long _a_.)  Is the _i_
in _evil_ sounded?  There were no _bears_ upon this island.  Mention
another kind of _bear_.  Observe the difference between _hardware_——
iron goods——and _hard wear,_ meaning tough usage.  What is peculiar about
_soul? impossible? ecstasies? wrapped? deliverance? sign? except? shoes?
hunger? thrown? terror? island?_


9.  I decided to climb into a tree and sit there until the next day,
to think what death I should die.  As night came on my heart was heavy,
since at night beasts come abroad for their prey.  Having cut a short
stick for my defense, I took up my lodging on a bough, and fell fast
asleep.  I afterward found I had no reason to fear wild beasts,
for never did I meet any harmful animal.

10.  When I awoke it was broad day, the weather was clear and I saw
the ship driven almost to the rock where I had been so bruised.
The ship seeming to stand upright still, I wished myself aboard,
that I might save some necessary things for my use.

(Crusoe shows his good judgment in thinking at once of saving something
from the ship for his after use.  While others would have been bemoaning
their fate, he took from the vessel what he knew would prove useful,
and in his very labors he at last found happiness.  Not only while his
home-building was new, but even years after, we find him still hard at
work and still inventing new things.)

Questions and Notes.  There are two _l_'s in _till_; why not in _until?_

What other words ending in two _l_'s drop one _l_ in compounds?
What two sounds do you find given to _oa_ in the preceding paragraphs?
What is peculiar about _climb? death? dies? night? heart? heavy? since?
beasts? prey? defense? lodging? bough? never? harmful? weather? driven?
bruised? necessary? judgment? others? happiness? build?_

Use the following words in appropriate sentences:  _clime, dye, pray,
bow, write, would_.  What two pronunciations may _bow_ have, and what
is the difference in meaning?  What two sounds may _s_ have in _use,_
and what difference do they mark?

What two rules are violated in _judgment?_  What other words are similar


11.  As I found the water very calm and the ship but a quarter of a mile
out, I made up my mind to swim out and get on board her.  I at once
proceeded to the task.  My first work was to search out the provisions,
since I was very well disposed to eat.  I went to the bread-room and
filled my pockets with biscuit.  I saw that I wanted nothing but a boat
to supply myself with many things which would be necessary to me,
and I glanced about me to see how I might meet this need.

12.  I found two or three large spars and a spare mast or two,
which I threw overboard, tying every one with a rope that it might
not drift away.  Climbing down the ship's side, I pulled them toward
me and tied four of them fast together in the form of a raft,
laying two or three pieces of plank upon them crosswise.

13.  I now had a raft strong enough to bear any reasonable weight.
My next care was to load it.  I got three of the seamen's chests,
which I managed to break open and empty.  These I filled with bread,
rice, five pieces of dried goat's flesh, and a little remainder of
European grain.  There had been some barley and wheat together;
but the rats had eaten or spoiled it.

Questions and Notes.  In _calm_ you have a silent _l_; what other words
can you mention with this silent _l_?  Note the double _e_ in _proceed_
and _succeed; precede_ has one _e_ with the silent _e_ at the end.
Note that _u_ is inserted into _biscuit_ simply to make the _c_ hard
before _i_;  with this allowance, this word is spelled regularly.
What is the difference between _spar_ and _spare?_  What other word
have we had pronounced like _threw_?  Explain _tying_ and _tied_.
Did any change take place when _ed_ was added to _tie_?  Note that
_four_ is spelled with _ou_ for the long _o_ sound; _forty_ with a
simple _o_.  How is _14_ spelled?  How do you remember _ie_ in _piece_?
What sound has _ei_ in _weight_?  Mention another word in which _ei_ has
the same sound.  What other word is pronounced like _bear_?  How do you
spell the word like this which is the name of a kind of animal?  In what
three ways do you find the long sound of _a_ represented in the above
paragraphs?  Make a list of the words with silent consonants?


14.  My next care was for arms.  There were two very good fowling-pieces
in the great cabin, and two pistols.  And now I thought myself pretty well
freighted, and began to think how I should get to shore, having neither
sail, oar, nor rudder; and the least capful of wind would have overset me.

15.  I made many other journeys to the ship, and took away among other
things two or three bags of nails, two or three iron crows, and a great
roll of sheet lead.  This last I had to tear apart and carry away in
pieces, it was so heavy.  I had the good luck to find a box of sugar
and a barrel of fine flour.  On my twelfth voyage I found two or three
razors with perfect edges, one pair of large scissors, with some ten
or a dozen good knives and forks.  In a drawer I found some money.
“Oh, drug!” I exclaimed.  “What art thou good for?”

(To a man alone on a desert island, money certainly has no value.
He can buy nothing, sell nothing; he has no debts to be paid; he earns
his bread by the sweat of his brow, his business is all with himself and
nature, and nature expects no profit, but allows no credit, for a man
must pay in work as he goes along.  Crusoe had many schemes; but it took
a great deal of work to carry them out; and the sum of all was steady
work for twenty-five years.  In the end we conclude that whatever he
got was dearly bought.  We come to know what a thing is worth only by
measuring its value in the work which it takes to get that thing or
to make it, as Crusoe did his chairs, tables, earthenware, etc.)

Questions and Notes.  What is peculiar in these words: _cabin, pistols,
razors, money, value, measuring, bought, barley, capful, roll, successors,
desert, certainly?_  What sound has _ou_ in _journeys?_  Is this sound
for _ou_ common?  What rule applies to the plural of _journey?_  How else
may we pronounce _lead?_  What part of speech is it there?  What is the
past participle of _lead?_  Is that pronounced like _lead,_ the metal?
How else may _tear_ be pronounced?  What does that other word mean?
Find a word in the above paragraphs pronounced like _flower_.  What
other word pronounced like _buy? profit? sum? dear? know? ware?_  What
sound has _s_ in _sugar_?  Make a list of the different ways in which
long _e_ is represented.  What is peculiar about _goes_?  Make a list
of the different ways in which long _a_ is represented in the above
paragraphs.  What sound has _o_ in _iron_?  Is _d_ silent in _edges_?
What sound has _ai_ in _pairs_?  What other word pronounced like this?
How do you spell the fruit pronounced like _pair_?  How do you spell the
word for the act of taking the skin off any fruit?  What sound has _u_ in
_business?_  In what other word has it the same sound?  Mention another
word in which _ch_ has the same sound that it has in _schemes_.  What other
word in the above has _ai_ with the same sound that it has in _chairs_?


16.  I now proceeded to choose a healthy, convenient, and pleasant spot
for my home.  I had chiefly to consider three things: First, air; second,
shelter from the heat; third, safety from wild creatures, whether men
or beasts; fourth, a view of the sea, that if God sent any ship in sight
I might not lose any chance of deliverance.  In the course of my search
I found a little plain on the side of a rising hill, with a hollow like
the entrance to a cave.  Here I resolved to pitch my tent.

(He afterward found a broad, grassy prairie on the other side of the
island, where he wished he had made his home.  On the slope above grew
grapes, lemons, citrons, melons, and other kinds of fruit.)

17.  Aft er ten or twelve days it came into my thoughts that I should
lose my reckoning for want of pen and ink; but to prevent this I cut
with my knife upon a large post in capital letters the following words:
“I came on shore here on the 30th of September, 1659.”  On the sides
of this post I cut every day a notch; and thus I kept my calendar,
or weekly, monthly, and yearly reckoning of time.

(He afterward found pen, ink, and paper in the ship; but the record on
the post was more lasting than anything he could have written on paper.
However, when he got his pen and ink he wrote out a daily journal,
giving the history of his life almost to the hour and minute.  Thus
he tells us that the shocks of earthquake were eight minutes apart,
and that he spent eighteen days widening his cave.)

18.  I made a strong fence of stakes about my tent that no animal could
tear down, and dug a cave in the side of the hill, where I stored my powder
and other valuables.  Every day I went out with my gun on this scene of
silent life.  I could only listen to the birds, and hear the wind among
the trees.  I came out, however, to shoot goats for food.  I found that as
I came down from the hills into the valleys, the wild goats did not see me;
but if they caught sight of me, as they did if I went toward them from
below, they would turn tail and run so fast I could capture nothing.

Questions and Notes.  Are all words in _-ceed_ spelled with a double
_e_?  What two other common words besides _proceed_ have we already
studied?  What sound has _ea_ in _healthy?_ in _pleasant?_ in _please?_
How do you remember that _i_ comes before _e_ in _chief?_  What sound
has _ai_ in _air?_  Do you spell 14 and 40 with _ou_ as you do _fourth?_
What other word pronounced like _sea?_  Note the three words, _lose,
loose,_ and _loss;_  what is the difference in meaning?  Why does
_chance_ end with a silent _e? change?_  What other classes of words
take a silent _e_ where we should not expect it?  What other word
pronounced like _course?_  What does it mean?  How do you spell the word
for the tool with which a carpenter smooths boards?  Mention five other
words with a silent _t_ before _ch_, as in _pitch_.  To remember the
order of letters in _prairie,_ notice that there is an _i_ next to
the _r_ on either side.  What other letters represent the vowel sound
heard in _grew?_  What two peculiarities in the spelling of _thoughts?_
Mention another word in which _ou_ has the same sound as in _thought_.
How is this sound regularly represented?  What other word pronounced
like _capital?_  (Answer.  _Capitol_.  The chief government building
is called the _capitol;_ the city in which the seat of government is
located is called the _capital,_ just as the large letters are called
_capitals_.)  What sound has _ui_ in _fruit?_  What other two sounds
have we had for _ui_?  Would you expect a double consonant in _melons_
and _lemons,_ or are these words spelled regularly?  What is peculiar
about the spelling of _calendar?_  What other word like it, and what
does it mean?  What other word spelled like _minute,_ but pronounced
differently?  What sound has _u_ in this word?  What other word
pronounced like _scene?_  Is _t_ silent in _listen?_  in often?  Why is
_y_ not changed to _i_ or _ie_ in _valleys?_  What other plural is made
in the same way?  Write sentences in which the following words shall be
correctly used:  _are, forth,_ see (two meanings), _cent, cite, coarse,
rate, ate, tare, seen, here, site, tale_.  In what two ways may _wind_
be pronounced, and what is the difference in meaning?


19.  I soon found that I lacked needles, pins, and thread, and
especially linen.  Yet I made clothes and sewed up the seams with
tough stripe of goatskin.  I afterward got handkerchiefs and shirts
from another wreck.  However, for want of tools my work went on heavily;
yet I managed to make a chair, a table, and several large shelves.
For a long time I was in want of a wagon or carriage of some kind.
At last I hewed out a wheel of wood and made a wheelbarrow.

20.  I worked as steadily as I could for the rain, for this was the
rainy season.  I may say I was always busy.  I raised a turf wall close
outside my double fence, and felt sure if any people came on shore they
would not see anything like a dwelling.  I also made my rounds in the
woods every day.  As I have already said, I found plenty of wild goats.
I also found a kind of wild pigeon, which builds, not as wood pigeons do,
in trees, but in holes of the rocks.  The young ones were very good meat.

Questions and Notes.  What sound has _ea_ in _thread?_  What is
peculiar in the spelling of _liven?_  What is peculiar in the spelling
of _handkerchiefs?_ wrecks?  What rule applied to the formation of the
word _heavily?_  What sound has _ai_ in _chair?_  Is the _i_ or the _a_
silent in _carriage?_  (Look this up in the dictionary.)  What sound has
_u_ in busy?  What other word with the same sound for _u_?  Is there any
word besides _people_ in which _eo_ has the sound of _e_ long?  In what
other compounds besides _also_ does _all_ drop one _l_?  What sound has
_ai_ in _said?_  Does it have this sound in any other word?  What sound
has _eo_ in _pigeon? ui_ in _builds?_  What other word pronounced like
_hole?_  How do you remember _ei_ in _their?_

Use the following words in appropriate sentences: _so, seem, hew, rein,
meet_.  What differences do you find in the principles of formation of
_second, wreck, lock, reckon?_  In what different ways is the sound of
long _a_ represented in paragraphs 19 and 20?  What is peculiar in
_tough? especially? handkerchiefs? season? raised? double? fence?
already? pigeon? ones? very? were?_


21.  I found that the seasons of the year might generally be divided,
not into summer and winter, as in Europe, but into the rainy seasons and
the dry seasons, which were generally thus: From the middle of February to
the middle of April (including March), rainy; the sun being then on or near
the equinox.  From the middle of April to the middle of August (including
May, June, and July), dry; the sun being then north of the equator.  From
the middle of August till the middle of October (including September),
rainy; the sun being then come back to the equator.  From the middle of
October till the middle of February (including November, December, and
January), dry; the sun being then to the south of the equator.

22.  I have already made mention of some grain that had been spoiled
by the rats.  Seeing nothing but husks and dust in the bag which had
contained this, I shook it out one day under the rock on one side of my
cave.  It was just before the rainy season began.  About a month later
I was surprised to see ten or twelve ears of English barley that had
sprung up and several stalks of rice.  You may be sure I saved the seed,
hoping that in time I might have enough grain to supply me with bread.
It was not until the fourth season that I could allow myself the least
particle to eat, and none of it was ever wasted.  From this handful,
I had in time all the rice and barley I needed for food,―above forty
bushels of each in a year, as I might guess, for I had no measure.

23.  I may mention that I took from the ship two cats; and the ship's
dog which I found there was so overjoyed to see me that he swam ashore
with me.  These were much comfort to me.  But one of the cats disappeared
and I thought she was dead.  I heard no more of her till she came home
with three kittens.  In the end I was so overrun with cats that I had
to shoot some, when most of the remainder disappeared in the woods and
did not trouble me any more.

Questions and Notes.  Why is _g_ soft in _generally?_  How do you
pronounce _February?_  What sound ha{ve the _}s{_'}s in _surprised?_
Mention three or four other words ending in the sound of _ize_ which
are spelled with an _s_.  What sound has _ou_ in _enough?_  What other
words have _gh_ with the sound of _f_?  We have here the spelling of
waste——meaning carelessly to destroy or allow to be destroyed; what is
the spelling of the word which means the middle of the body?  Is _ful_
always written with one _l_ in derivatives, as in _handful_ above?
Mention some other words in which _ce_ has the sound of _c_ as in _rice_.
How do you spell _14_?  like forty?  Why is _u_ placed before _e_ in
_guess?_  Is it part of a digraph with _e_?  What sound has _ea_ in
_measure?_  What sound has it in this word?  What other word pronounced
like _heard?_  Which is spelled regularly?  How many _l_'s has _till_
in compounds?  Mention an example.

Use the following words in sentences: _herd, write, butt, reign, won,
bred, waist, kneaded, sum_.  What is peculiar about _year? divided?
equator? December? grain? nothing? contain? barley? until? each? there?
thought? some? disappeared? trouble?_


24.  One day in June I found myself very ill.  I had a cold fit and
then a hot one, with faint sweats after it.  My body ached all over,
and I had violent pains in my head.  The next day I felt much better,
but had dreadful fears of sickness, since I remembered that I was alone,
and had no medicines, and not even any food or drink in the house.
The following day I had a terrible headache with my chills and fever;
but the day after that I was better again, and went out with my gun
and shot a she-goat; yet I found myself very weak.  After some days,
in which I learned to pray to God for the first time after eight years
of wicked seafaring life, I made a sort of medicine _by_ steeping
tobacco leaf in rum.  I took a large dose of this several times a day.
In the course of a week or two I got well; but for some time after I
was very pale, and my muscles were weak and flabby.

25.  After I had discovered the various kinds of fruit which grew on
the other side of the island, especially the grapes which I dried for
raisins, my meals were as follows: I ate a bunch of raisins for my
breakfast; for dinner a piece of goat's flesh or of turtle broiled;
and two or three turtle's eggs for supper.  As yet I had nothing in
which I could boil or stew anything.  When my grain was grown I had
nothing with which to mow or reap it, nothing with which to thresh
it or separate it from the chaff, no mill to grind it, no sieve to
clean it, no yeast or salt to make it into bread, and no oven in
which to bake it.  I did not even have a water-pail.  Yet all these
things I did without.  In time I contrived earthen vessels which were
very useful, though rather rough and coarse; and I built a hearth which
I made to answer for an oven.

Questions and Notes.  What is peculiar about _body?_  What sound has
_ch_ in _ached?_  Note that there are t{w}o _i_'s in _medicine_.  What
is peculiar about _house?_  What other word pronounced like _weak?_
Use it in a sentence.  What is the plural of _leaf?_  What are all the
differences between _does_ and _dose?_  Why is _week_ in the phrase
“In the course of a week or two” spelled with double _e_ instead of
_ea?_  What is irregular about the word _muscles?_  Is _c_ soft before
_l_?  Is it silent in _muscles?_  What three different sounds may _ui_
have?  Besides _fruit,_ what other words with _ui_?  What sound has
_ea_ in _breakfast?_  What two pronunciations has the word _mow?_
What difference in meaning?  What sound has _e_ in _thresh?_  How do
you remember the _a_ in _separate?_  What sound has _ie_ in _sieve?_
Do you know any other word in which _ie_ has this sound?  What other
sound does it often have?  Does _ea_ have the same sound in _earthen_
and _hearth?_  Is _w_ sounded in _answer?_  What sound has _o_ in _oven?_
Use the following words in sentences: _week, pole, fruit, pane, weak,
course, bred, pail, ruff_.


26.  You would have smiled to see me sit down to dinner with my family.
There was my parrot, which I had taught to speak.  My dog was grown very
old and crazy; but he sat at my right hand.  Then there were my two
cats, one on one side of the table and one on the other.  Besides these,
I had a tame kid or two always about the house, and several sea-fowls
whose wings I had clipped.  These were my subjects.  In their society
I felt myself a king.  I was lord of all the land about, as far as my
eye could reach.  I had a broad and wealthy domain.  Here I reigned sole
master for twenty-five years.  Only once did I try to leave my island in
a boat; and then I came near being carried out into the ocean forever by
an ocean current I had not noticed before.

27.  When I had been on the island twenty-three years I was greatly
frightened to see a footprint in the sand.  For two years after I saw
no human being; but then a large company of savages appeared in canoes.
When they had landed they built a fire and danced about it.  Presently
they seemed about to make a feast on two captives they had brought with
them.  By chance, however, one of them escaped.  Two of the band followed
him; but he was a swifter runner than they.  Now, I thought, is my chance
to get a servant.  So I ran down the hill, and with the butt of my musket
knocked down one of the two pursuers.  When I saw the other about to draw
his bow.  I was obliged to shoot him.  The man I had saved seemed at first
as frightened at me as were his pursuers.  But I beckoned him to come to
me and gave him all the signs of encouragement I could think of.

28.  He was a handsome fellow, with straight, strong limbs.  He had a
very good countenance, not a fierce and surly appearance.  His hair was
long and black, not curled like wool; his forehead was very high and large;
and the color of his skin was not quite black, but tawny.  His face was
round and plump; his nose small, not flat like that of negroes; and he had
fine teeth, well set, and as white as ivory.

29.  Never man had a more faithful, loving, sincere servant than Friday
was to me (for so I called him from the day on which I had saved his
life).  I was greatly delighted with him and made it my business to teach
him everything that was proper to make him useful, handy, and helpful.
He was the aptest scholar that ever was, and so merry, and so pleased when
he could but understand me, that it was very pleasant to me to talk to him.
Now my life began to be so easy, that I said to myself, that could I but
feel safe from more savages, I cared not if I were never to remove from the
place where I lived.

(Friday was more like a son than a servant to Crusoe.  Here was one
being who could under-stand human speech, who could learn the difference
between right and wrong, who could be neighbor, friend, and companion.
Crusoe had often read from his Bible; but now he might teach this
heathen also to read from it the truth of life.  Friday proved a good
boy, and never got into mischief.)

Questions and Notes.  What is the singular of _canoes?_  What is the
meaning of _butt?_  How do you spell the word pronounced like this which
means a hogshead?  In what two ways is _bow_ pronounced?  What is the
difference in meaning?  What other word pronounced like _bow_ when it
means the front end of a boat?  _Encouragement_ has an _e_ after the
_g_; do you know two words ending in _ment_ preceəded by the soft
_g_ sound which omit the silent _e_?  Make a list of all the words
you know which, like _fierce,_ have _ie_ with the sound of _a_ long.
How do you pronounce _forehead?_  Mention two peculiarities in the
spelling of _color_.  Compare it with _collar_.  What is the singular
of _negroes?_  What other words take _es_ in the plural?  What is the
plural of _tobacco?_  Compare _speak,_ with its _ea_ for the sound of
_e_ long, and _speech,_ with its double _e_.  What two peculiarities in
_neighbor?_  What sound has _ie_ in _friend?_  In the last paragraph
above, how do you pronounce the first word _read?_  How the second?
What other word pronounced like _read_ with _ea_ like short _a_?
Compare to _lead, led,_ and the metal _lead_.  How do you pronounce
_mischief?_  Use the following words in sentences: _foul, reign, sole,
strait, currant_.  What is peculiar in these words: _parrot? taught?
always? reach? only? leave? island? carried? ocean? notice? built?
dance? brought? get? runner? butt? knock?_

Derivation of words.

It is always difficult to do two things at the same time, and for that
reason no reference has been made in the preceding exercises to the
rules for prefixes and suffixes, and in general to the derivation of words.
This should be taken up as a separate study, until the meaning of every
prefix and suffix is clear in the mind in connection with each word.
This study, however, may very well be postponed till the study of grammar
has been taken up.



Authorized by Different Dictionaries.

There are not many words which are differently spelled by the various
standard dictionaries.  The following is a list of the more common ones.

The form preferred by each dictionary is indicated by letters in
parantheses as follows: C., Century; S., Standard; I., Webster's
International; W., Worcester; E., English usage as represented by the
Imperial.  When the new Oxford differs from the Imperial, it is indicated
by O. Stormonth's English dictionary in many instances prefers Webster's
spellings to those of the Imperial.

accoutre (C., W., E.)
  accouter (S., I.)
aluminium (C., I., W., E.)
  aluminum (S.)
analyze (C., S., I., W.)
  analyse (E.)
anesthetic (C., S.)
  anæsthetic (I., W., E.)
appal (C., S., E.)
  appall (I., W.)
asbestos (C., S., W., E.)
  asbetus (I.)
ascendancy (C., W.)
  ascendancy (S., I., E.)
ax (C., S., I.)
  axe (W., E.)
ay [forever] (C., S., O.)
  aye   ¨   (I., W., E.)
aye [yes] (C., S., I., O.)
  ay  ¨  (W., E.)
bandana (C., E.)
  bandanna (S.,{ }I.,{ }W.,{ }O.)
biased (C., S., I., O.)
  biassed (W., E.)‎
boulder (C., S., W., E.)
  bowlder (I.)
Brahman (C., S., I., E.)
  Brahmin (W., O.)
braize (C., S.)
  braise (I., W., E.)
calif (C., S., E.)
  caliph (I., W., O.)
callisthenics (C., S., E.)
  calisthenics (I., W.)
cancelation (C., S.)
  cancellation (I., W., E.)
clue (C., S., E.)
  clew (I., W.)
coolie (C., S., E.)
  cooly (I., W.)
courtezan (C., I., E.)
  courtesan (I., W., O.)
cozy (C., S., I.)
  cosey (W., E.)
  cosy (O.)
crozier (C., I., E.)
  crosier (I., W., O.)
defense (C., S., I.)
  defence (W., E.)

despatch (C., S., W., E.)
  dispatch (I., O.)
diarrhea (C., S., I.)
  diarrhœoa (W., E.)
dicky (C., W., O.)
  dickey (S., I., E.)
disk (C., S., I., W., O.)
  disc (E.)
distil (C., S., W., E.)
  distill (I.)
dullness (C., I., O.)
  dulness (S., W., E.)
employee (C., S., E.)
  employé {[male]}(I., W., O.)
encumbrance (C., S., W., I.)
  incumbrance (I.)
enforce——see reinforce
engulf (C., S., W., E.)
  ingulf (I.)
enrolment (C., S., W., E.)
  enrollment (I.)
enthrall (C., S., E.)
  inthrall (I., W.)
equivoke (C., S., W.)
  equivoque (I., E.)
escalloped (C., S., O.)
  escaloped (I., W., E.)
esthetic (C., S.)
  æsthetic (I., W., E.)
feces (C., S.)
  fæces (I., W., E.)
fetish (C., S., O.)
  fetich (I., W., E.)
fetus (C., S., I., E.)
  fœtus (W., O.)
flunky (C., S., I., W.)
  flunkey (E.)
fulfil (C., S., W., E.)
  fulfill (I.)
fullness (C., I., O.)
  fulness (S., W., E.)‎
gage [measure] (C., S.)
  gauge   ¨   (I., W., E{.)}
gaiety (C., S., E.)
  gayety (I., W.)
gazel (C., S.)
  gazelle (I., W., E.)
guild (I., W., E.)
  gild (C., S.)
gipsy (C., S., O.)
  gypsy (I., W., E.)
gram (C., S., I.)
  gramme (W., E.)
gruesome (C., S., O.)
  grewsome (I., W., E.)
harken (C., S.)
  hearken (I., W., E.)
hindrance (C., S., I., O.)
  hinderance (W., E.)
Hindu (C., S., E.)
  Hindoo (I., W.)
Hindustani (C., S., E.)
  Hindoostanee (I.)
homeopathic (C., S., I.)
  homœopathic (W., E.)
impale (C., I., E.)
  empale (S., W.)
incase (C., S., I., E.)
  encase (W., O.)
inclose (C., I., E.)
  enclose (S., W., O.)
instil (C., S., W., E.)
  instill (I.)
jewelry (C., S., I., E.)
  jewellery (W., O.)
kumiss (C., S., E.)
  koumiss (I., W., O.)
maugre (C., S., W., E.)
  mauger (I.)
meager (C., S., I.)
  meagre (W., E.)

medieval (C., S.)
  mediæval (I., W., E.)
mold (C., S., I.)
  mould (W., E.)
molt (C., S., I.)
  moult (W., E)
offense (C., S., I.)
  offence (W., E.)
pandoor (C., W., E.)
  pandour (S., I.)
papoose (C., S., W., E.)
  pappoose (W.)
paralyze (C., S., W., I.)
  paralyse (E.)
pasha (C., S., I., E.)
  pacha (W.)
peddler (C., I.)
  pedler (S., W.)
  pedlar (E.)
phenix (C., S., I.)
  phœnix (W., E.)
plow (C., S., I.)
  plough (W., E.)
pretense (C., S., I.)
  pretence (W., E.)
program (C., S.)
  programme (I., W., E.)
racoon (C.)
  raccoon (S., I., W., E.)
rajah (I., W., E.)
  raja (C., S.)
reconnaissance (C., S., E.)
  reconnoissance (I., W.)
referable (C., S., I.)
  referrible (W., E.)
reinforce (C., E.)
  reënforce (S., I., W.)
reverie (C., S., I., E.)
  revery (W.)
rhyme (I., W., E.)
  rime (C., S.)

rondeau (W., E.)
  rondo (C., S., I.)
shinny (C., S.)
  shinty (I., W., E.)
skean (C., S., I., E.)
  skain (W.)
skilful (C., S., W., E.)
  skillful (I.)
smolder (C., S., I.)
  smoulder (W., E.)
spoony (C., S., E.)
  spooney (I., W.)
sumac (C., S., I., E.)
  sumach (W.)
swingletree (C., S., W.)
  singletree (I.)
synonym (C., S., I., E.)
  synonyme (W.)
syrup (C., E.)
  sirup (S., I., W.)
Tartar (I., W., E.)
  Tatar (C., S.)
threnody (C., S., W., E.)
  threnode (I.)
tigerish (C., S., I.)
  tigrish (W., E.)
timbal (C., S.)
  tymbal (I., W., E)
titbit (C., S.)
  tidbit (I., W., E.)
vise [tool] (C., S., I.)
  vice  ¨ (W., E.)
vizier (S., I., W., E.)
  vizir (C.)
visor (I., W., E.)
  vizor (C., S.)
whippletree (S., I., W., E.)
  whiffletree (C.)
whimsy (C., S.)
  whimsey (I., W., E.)

whisky (C., S., I., E.)
  whiskey (W.{, Irish})
wilful (C., S., W., E.)
  willful (I.)‎
woeful (C., I., E.)
  woful (S., W.)
worshiped (C., S., I.)
  worshipped (W., E.)

All dictionaries but the Century make _envelop_ the verb, _envelope_
the noun.  The Century spells the noun _envelop_ as well as the verb.

According to the Century, Worcester, and the English dictionaries,
_practise_ (with _s_) is the verb, _practice_ (with _c_) is the noun.
The Standard spells both _practise,_ and Webster both practice.

Doubling l.

Worcester and the English dictionaries double a final _l_ in all cases
when a syllable is added, Webster, the Century, and the Standard only
when the rule requires it.  Thus: wool——woollen, Jewel——jewelled,

Re for er.

The following are the words which Worcester and the English dictionaries
spell _re_, while Webster, the Century, and the Standard prefer _er:_
Calibre, centre, litre, lustre, manœuvre (I. maneuver), meagre, metre,
mitre, nitre, ochre, ombre, piastre, sabre, sceptre, sepulchre, sombre,
spectre, theatre, zaffre,{.}

English words with our.

The following are the words in which the English retain the _u_ in
endings spelled _or_ by American dictionaries.  All other words,
such as _author, emperor,_ etc., though formerly spelled with _u,_
no longer retain it even in England:

Arbour, ardour, armour, behaviour, candour, clamour, colour, contour,
demeanour, dolour, enamour, endeavour, favour, fervour, flavour,
glamour, harbour, honour, humour, labour, neighbour, odour, parlour,
rancour, rigour, rumour, saviour, splendour, succour, tabour, tambour,
tremour, valour, vapour, vigour,.




Special  S Y S T E M  Edition


The Old Greek Press
_Chicago New{ }York Boston_

_Revised Edition_.

_Copyright,1903,_ BY SHERWIN CODY.

_Note_.  The thanks of the author are due to Dr. Edwin H. Lewis, of the
Lewis Institute, Chicago, and to Prof. John F. Genung, Ph. D., of Amherst
College, for suggestions made after reading the proof of this series.


CHAPTER IV. HUMOR.———Addison, Stevenson, Lamb.
     ———Macaulay and De Quincey.
CHAPTER VIII. CRITICISM.———Matthew Arnold and Ruskin.
CHAPTER XI. THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY.————The Bible, Franklin, Lincoln.
CHAPTER XII. HARMONY OF STYLE.————Irving and Hawthorne.




For Learning to Write and Speak Masterly English.

The first textbook on rhetoric which still remains to us was written
by Aristotle.  He defines rhetoric as the art of writing effectively,
viewing it primarily as the art of persuasion in public speaking,
but making it include all the devices for convincing or moving the
mind of the hearer or reader.

Aristotle's treatise is profound and scholarly, and every textbook of
rhetoric since written is little more than a restatement of some part
of his comprehensive work.  It is a scientific analysis of the subject,
prepared for critics and men of a highly cultured and investigating turn
of mind, and was not originally intended to instruct ordinary persons
in the management of words and sentences for practical purposes.

While no one doubts that an ordinary command of words may be learned,
there is an almost universal impression in the public mind, and has been
even from the time of Aristotle himself, that writing well or ill is
almost purely a matter of talent, genius, or, let us say, instinct.
It has been truly observed that the formal study of rhetoric never has
made a single successful writer, and a great many writers have succeeded
preëminently without ever having opened a rhetorical textbook.  It has
not been difficult, therefore, to come to the conclusion that writing
well or ill comes by nature alone, and that all we can do is to pray for
luck,―or, at the most, to practise incessantly.  Write, write, write;
and keep on writing; and destroy what you write and write again; cover
a ton of paper with ink; some day perhaps you will succeed―says the
literary adviser to the young author.  And to the business man who
has letters to write and wishes to write them well, no one ever says
anything.  The business man himself has begun to have a vague impression
that he would like to improve his command of language; but who is there
who even pretends to have any power to help him?  There is the school
grind of “grammar and composition,” and if it is kept up for enough
years, and the student happens to find any point of interest in it, some
good may result from it.  That is the best that anyone has to offer.

Some thoughtful people are convinced that writing, even business
letters, is as much a matter for professional training as music
or painting or carpentry or plumbing.  That view certainly seems
reasonable.  And against that is the conviction of the general public
that use of language is an art essentially different from any of the
other arts, that all people possess it more or less, and that the
degree to which they possess it depends on their general education
and environment; while the few who possess it in a preëminent degree,
do so by reason of peculiar endowments and talent, not to say genius.
This latter view, too, is full of truth.  We have only to reflect
a moment to see that rhetoric as it is commonly taught can by no
possibility give actual skill.  Rhetoric is a system of scientific
analysis.  Aristotle was a scientist, not an artist.  Analysis tears
to pieces, divides into parts, and so destroys.  The practical art of
writing is wholly synthesis,―building up, putting together, creating,
―and so, of course, a matter of instinct.  All the dissection, or
vivisection, in the world, would never teach a man how to bring a human
being into the world, or any other living thing; yet the untaught instinct
of all animals solves the problem of creation every minute of the world's
history.  In fact, it is a favorite comparison to speak of poems, stories,
and other works of literary art as being the children of the writer's
brain; as if works of literary art came about in precisely the same simple,
yet mysterious, way that children are conceived and brought into the world.

Yet the comparison must not be pushed too far, and we must not lose
sight of the facts in the case.  You and I were not especially endowed
with literary talent.  Perhaps we are business men and are glad we
are not so endowed.  But we want to write and speak better than we do,
―if possible, better than those with whom we have to compete.  Now,
is there not a practical way in which we can help ourselves?  There
is no thought that we shall become geniuses, or anything of the kind.
For us, why should there be any difference between plumbing and
writing?  If all men were born plumbers, still some would be much
better than others, and no doubt the poor ones could improve their
work in a great measure, simply by getting hints and trying.  However,
we all know that the trying will not do _very_ much good without the
hints.  Now, where are the master-plumber's hints―or rather, the
master-writer's hints, for the apprentice writer?

No doubt some half million unsuccessful authors will jump to their feet
on the instant and offer their services.  But the business man is not
convinced of their ability to help him.  Nor does he expect very much
real help from the hundred thousand school teachers who teach “grammar
and composition” in the schools.  The fact is, the rank and file of
teachers in the common schools have learned just enough to know that
they want help themselves.  Probably there is not a more eager class
in existence than they.

The stock advice of successful authors is, Practise.  But unluckily
I have practised, and it does not seem, to do any good.  “I write one
hundred long letters (or rather dictate them to my stenographer) every
day,” says the business man.  “My newspaper reports would fill a hundred
splendid folios,” says the newspaper man, “and yet―and yet―I can't
seem to hit it when I write a novel.”  No, practice without guidance will
not do very much, especially if we happen to be of the huge class of the
uninspired.  Our lack of genius, however, does not seem to be a reason
why we should continue utterly ignorant of the art of making ourselves
felt as well as heard when we use words.  Here again use of language
differs somewhat from painting or music, for unless we had some talent
there would be no reason for attempting those arts.

Let us attack our problem from a common-sense point of view.  How have
greater writers learned to write?  How do plumbers learn plumbing?

The process by which plumbers learn is simple.  They watch the
master-plumber, and then try to do likewise, and they keep at this for
two or three years.  At the end they are themselves master-plumbers,
or at least masters of plumbing.

The method by which great writers, especially great writers who didn't
start with a peculiar genius, have learned to write is much the same.
Take Stevenson, for instance: he says he “played the sedulous ape.”
He studied the masterpieces of literature, and tried to imitate them.
He kept at this for several years.  At the end he was a master himself.
We have reason to believe that the same was true of Thackeray, of Dumas,
of Cooper, of Balzac, of Lowell.  All these men owe their skill very
largely to practice in imitation of other great writers, and often of
writers not as great as they themselves.  Moreover, no one will accuse
any of these writers of not being original in the highest degree.
To imitate a dozen or fifty great writers never makes imitators; the
imitator, so called, is the person who imitates one.  To imitate even
two destroys all the bad effects of imitation.

Franklin, himself a great writer, well describes the method in his

How Franklin Learned to Write.

“A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me,
of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their
abilities for study.  He was of the opinion that it was improper,
and that they were naturally unequal to it.  I took the contrary side,
perhaps a little for dispute's sake.  He was naturally more eloquent,
having a ready plenty of words, and sometimes, as I thought, I was
vanquished more by his fluency than by the strength of his reasons.
As we parted without settling the point, and were not to see one another
again for some time, I sat down to put my arguments in writing, which
I copied fair and sent to him.  He answered, and I replied.  Three or
four letters on a side had passed, when my father happened to find my
papers and read them.  Without entering into the subject in dispute,
he took occasion to talk to me about the manner of my writing; observed
that, though I had the advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling
and pointing (which I owed to the printing-house), I fell far short
in elegance of expression, in method, and in perspicuity, of which he
convinced me by several instances.  I saw the justice of his remarks,
and thence grew more attentive to the manner in writing, and determined
to endeavor an improvement.

“About this time I met with an odd volume of the _Spectator_.
It was the third.  I had never before seen any of them.  I bought it,
read it over and over, and was much delighted with it.  I thought the
writing excellent, and wished it possible to imitate it.  With this view
I took some of the papers, and making short hints of the sentiments in
each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at
the book, tried to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted
sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before,
in any suitable words that should come to hand.  Then I compared my
_Spectator_ with the original, discovered some of my faults, and
corrected them.  But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness
in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquired
before that time if I had gone on making verses, since the continued
search for words of the same import, but of different length to suit the
measure, or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under
a constant necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to
fix that variety in mind, and make me master of it.  Therefore I took
some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time,
when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again.

“I also sometimes jumbled my collection of hints into confusion, and
after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order before
I began to form the full sentences and complete the subject.  This was
to teach me method in the arrangement of the thoughts.  By comparing my
work with the original, I discovered my faults and amended them; but I
sometimes had the pleasure of fancying, that, in certain particulars of
small import, I had been fortunate enough to improve the method or the
language, and this encouraged me to think that I might possibly in time
come to be a tolerable English writer; of which I was extremely ambitious.
My time for these exercises and for reading was at night, after work, or
before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in
the printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance
on public worship which my father used to exact of me when I was under
his care, and which indeed I still continued to consider a duty, though
I could not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it.”

A Practical Method.

Aristotle's method, though perfect in theory, has failed in practice.
Franklin's method is too elementary and undeveloped to be of general
use.  Taking Aristotle's method (represented by our standard textbooks
on rhetoric) as our guide, let us develop Franklin's method into a
system as varied and complete as Aristotle's.  We shall then have a
method at the same time practical and scholarly.

We have studied the art of writing words correctly (spelling) and
writing sentences correctly (grammar).*  Now we wish to learn to write
sentences, paragraphs, and entire compositions _effectively_.

 *See the earlier volume$ in this series.

First, we must form the habit of observing the meanings and values
of words, the structure of sentences, of paragraphs, and of entire
compositions as we read standard literature―just as we have been
trying to form the habit of observing the spelling of words, and
the logical relationships of words in sentences.  In order that we
may know what to look for in our observation we must analyse a _little,_
but we will not imagine that we shall learn to do a thing by endless
talk about doing it.

Second, we will practise in the imitation of selections from master
writers, in every case fixing our attention on the rhetorical element
each particular writer best illustrates.  This imitation will be
continued until we have mastered the subject toward which we are
especially directing our attention, and all the subjects which go to
the making of an accomplished writer.

Third, we will finally make independent compositions for ourselves with
a view to studying and expressing the stock of ideas which we have to
express.  This will involve a study of the people on whom we wish to
impress our ideas, and require that we constantly test the results of
our work to see what the actual effect on the mind of our audience is.

Let us now begin our work.



“Diction” is derived from the Latin _dictio,_ a word, and in rhetoric
it denotes choice of words.  In the study of grammar we have learned
that all words have logical relationships in sentences, and in some
cases certain forms to agree with particular relationships.  We have
also taken note of “idioms,” in which words are used with peculiar values.

On the subject of Idiom Arlo Bates in his book “On Writing English” has
some very forcible remarks.  Says he, “An idiom is the personal―if
the word may be allowed―the personal idiosyncrasy of a language.
It is a method of speech wherein the genius of the race making the
language shows itself as differing from that of all other peoples.
What style is to the man, that is idiom to the race.  It is the
crystalization in verbal forms of peculiarities of race temperament―
perhaps even of race eccentricities …… English which is not idiomatic
becomes at once formal and lifeless, as if the tongue were already dead
and its remains embalmed in those honorable sepulchres, the philological
dictionaries.  On the other hand, English which goes too far, and fails
of a delicate distinction between what is really and essentially idiomatic
and what is colloquial, becomes at once vulgar and utterly wanting in that
subtle quality of dignity for which there is no better term than

 *As examples of idioms Mr. Bates gives the following:  A ten-foot
(instead of ten-feet) pole; the use of the “flat adverb” or adjective
form in such expressions as “speak loud.”  “walk fast,” “the sun shines
hot,” “drink deep;” and the use of prepositions adverbially at the end
of a sentence, as in “Where are you going to?”  “The subject which I spoke
to you about,” etc.

We therefore see that idiom is not only a thing to justify,
but something to strive for with all our might.  The use of it gives
character to our selection of words, and better than anything else
illustrates what we should be looking for in forming our habit of
observing the meanings and uses of words as we read.

Another thing we ought to note in our study of words is the _suggestion_
which many words carry with them in addition to their obvious meaning.
For instance, consider what a world of ideas the mere name of Lincoln
or Washington or Franklin or Napoleon or Christ calls up.  On their
face they are but names of men, or possibly sometimes of places; but we
cannot utter the name of Lincoln without thinking of the whole terrible
struggle of our Civil War; the name of Washington, without thinking
of nobility, patriotism, and self-sacrifice in a pure and great man;
Napoleon, without thinking of ambition and blood; of Christ, without
lifting our eyes to the sky in an attitude of worship and thanksgiving
to God.  So common words carry with them a world of suggested thought.
The word _drunk_ calls up a picture horrid and disgusting; _violet_
suggests blueness, sweetness, and innocence; _oak_ suggests sturdy
courage and strength; _love_ suggests all that is dear in the histories
of our own lives.  Just what will be suggested depends largely on the
person who hears the word, and in thinking of suggestion we must reflect
also on the minds of the persons to whom we speak.

The best practical exercise for the enlargement of one's vocabulary is
translating, or writing verses.  Franklin commends verse-writing, but
it is hardly mechanical enough to be of value in all cases.  At the same
time, many people are not in a position to translate from a foreign
language; and even if they were, the danger of acquiring foreign idioms
and strange uses of words is so great as to offset the positive gain.
But we can easily exercise ourselves in translating one kind of English
into another, as poetry into prose, or an antique style into modern.
To do this the constant use of the English dictionary will be necessary,
and incidentally we shall learn a great deal about words.

As an example of this method of study, we subjoin a series of notes on
the passage quoted from Franklin in the last chapter.  In our study we
constantly ask ourselves, “Does this use of the word sound perfectly
natural?”  At every point we appeal to our _instinct,_ and in time come
to trust it to a very great extent.  We even train it.  To train our
instinct for words is the first great object of our study.

Notes on Franklin.
(See “How Franklin Learned to Write” in preceding chapter.)

1.  “The female sex” includes animals as well as human beings,
and in modern times we say simply “women,” though when Franklin wrote
“the female sex” was considered an elegant phrase.

2.  Note that “their” refers to the collective noun “sex.”

3.  If we confine the possessive case to persons we would not say
“for dispute's sake,” and indeed “for the sake of dispute”
is just as good, if not better, in other respects.

4.  “Ready plenty” is antique usage for “ready abundance.”  Which is
the stronger?

5.  “Reasons” in the phrase “strength of his reasons” is a simple and
forcible substitute for “arguments.”

6.  “Copied fair” shows an idiomatic use of an adjective form which
perhaps can be justified, but the combination has given way in these
days to “made a fair copy of.”

7.  Observe that Franklin uses “pointing” for _punctuation,_ and
“printing-house” for _printing-office_.

8.  The old idiom “endeavor at improvement” has been changed to
_endeavor to improve,_ or _endeavor to make improvement_.

9.  Note how the use of the word _sentiment_ has changed.  We would be
more likely to say _ideas_ in a connection like this.

10.  For “laid them by,” say _laid them away_.

11.  For “laid me under …… necessity” we might say _compelled me,_ or
_made it necessary that I should_.

12.  “Amended” is not so common now as _corrected_.

13.  For “evading” (attendance at public worship) we should now say
_avoiding_.  We “evade” more subtle things than attendance at church.

There are many other slight differences in the use of words which the
student will observe.  It would be an excellent exercise to write out,
not only this passage, but a number of others from the Autobiography,
in the most perfect of simple modern English.

We may also take a modern writer like Kipling and translate his style
into simple, yet attractive and good prose; and the same process may
be applied to any of the selections in this book, simply trying to find
equivalent and if possible equally good words to express the same ideas,
or slight variations of the same ideas.  Robinson Crusoe, Bacon's
Essays, and Pilgrim's Progress are excellent books to translate into
modern prose.  The chief thing is to do the work slowly and thoughtfully.



It is not an easy thing to pass from the logical precision of grammar
to the vague suggestiveness of words that call up whole troops of ideas
not contained in the simple idea for which a word stands.  Specific idioms
are themselves at variance with grammar and logic, and the grammarians
are forever fighting them; but when we go into the vague realm of poetic
style, the logical mind is lost at once.  And yet it is more important
to use words pregnant with meaning than to be strictly grammatical.
We must reduce grammar to an instinct that will guard us against being
contradictory or crude in our construction of sentences, and then we
shall make that instinct harmonize with all the other instincts which
a successful writer must have.  When grammar is treated (as we have
tried to treat it) as “logical instinct,” then there can be no conflict
with other instincts.

The suggestiveness of words finds its specific embodiment in the so
called “figures of speech.”  We must examine them a little, because
when we come to such an expression as “The kettle boils” after
a few lessons in tracing logical connections, we are likely to
say without hesitation that we have found an error, an absurdity.
On its face it is an absurdity to say “The kettle boils” when we mean
“The water in the kettle boils.”  But reflection will show us that we
have merely condensed our words a little.  Many idioms are curious
condensations, and many figures of speech may be explained as natural
and easy condensations.  We have already seen such a condensation in
“more complete” for “more nearly complete.”

The following definitions and illustrations are for reference.  We
do not need to know the names of any of these figures in order to use
them, and it is altogether probable that learning to name and analyse
them will to some extent make us too self-conscious to use them at all.
At the same time, they will help us to explain things that otherwise
might puzzle us in our study.

1.  Simile.  The simplest figure of speech is the _simile_.  It is
nothing more or less than a direct comparison by the use of such
words as _like_ and _as_.

Examples:   Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.  How often would I
have gathered my children together, as a hen doth gather her broodunder
her wings!  The Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed, is like
leaven hidden in three measures of meal.  Their lives glide on like
rivers that water the woodland.  Mercy droppeth as the gentle rain
from heaven upon the place beneath.

2.  Metaphor.  A _metaphor_ is an implied or assumed comparison.  The
words _like_ and _as_ are no longer used, but the construction of the
sentence is such that the comparison is taken for granted and the thing
to which comparison is made is treated as if it were the thing itself.

_Examples_: The valiant taste of death but once.  Stop my house's ears.
His strong mind reeled under the blow.  The compressed passions of a
century exploded in the French Revolution.  It was written at a white
heat.  He can scarcely keep the wolf from the door.  Strike while the
iron is hot.  Murray's eloquence never blazed into sudden flashes,
but its clear, placid, and mellow splendor was never overclouded.

The metaphor is the commonest figure of speech.  Our language is a sort
of burying-ground of faded metaphors.  Look up in the dictionary the
etymology of such words as _obvious, ruminating, insuperable, dainty,
ponder,_ etc., and you will see that they got their present meanings
through metaphors which have now so faded that we no longer recognize them.

Sometimes we get into trouble by introducing two comparisons in the same
sentence or paragraph, one of which contradicts the other.  Thus should
we say “Pilot us through the wilderness of life” we would introduce two
figures of speech, that of a ship being piloted and that of a caravan in
a wilderness being guided, which would contradict each other.  This is
called a “mixed metaphor.”

3.  Allusion.  Sometimes a metaphor consists in a reference or
allusion to a well known passage in literature or a fact of history.
_Examples_:  Daily, with souls that cringe and plot, we Sinais climb and
know it not.  (Reference to Moses on Mt. Sinai).  He received the lion's
share of the profits.  (Reference to the fable of the lion's share).
Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed by a kiss.  (Reference to the
betrayal of Christ by Judas).

4.  Personification.  Sometimes the metaphor consists in speaking of
inanimate things or animals as if they were human.  This is called the
figure of _personification_.  It raises the lower to the dignity of the
higher, and so gives it more importance.

_Examples_:  Earth felt the wound.  Next Anger rushed, his eyes on fire.
The moping Owl doth to the Moon complain.  True Hope is swift and flies
with swallow's wings.  Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, as to be
hated needs but to be seen.  Speckled Vanity will sicken soon and die.

(Note in the next to the last example that the purely impersonal is
raised, not to human level, but to that of the brute creation.  Still
the figure is called personification).

5.  Apostrophe.  When inanimate things, or the absent, whether
living or dead, are addressed as if they were living and
present, we have a figure of speech called _apostrophe_.
This figure of speech gives animation to the style.  _Examples_:
O Rome, Rome, thou hast been a tender nurse to me.  Blow, winds,
and crack your cheeks.  Take her, O Bridegroom, old and gray!

6.  Antithesis.  The preceding figures have been based on likeness.
_Antithesis_ is a figure of speech in which opposites are contrasted,
or one thing is set against another.  Contrast is almost as powerful as
comparison in making our ideas clear and vivid.

_Examples_:  (Macaulay, more than any other writer, habitually uses
antitheses).  Saul, seeking his father's asses, found himself turned
into a king.  Fit the same intellect to a man and it is a bowstring;
to a woman and it is a harp-string.  I thought that this man had been a
lord among wits, but I find that he is only a wit among lords.  Better to
reign in hell than to serve in heaven.  For fools rush in where angels
fear to tread.

7.  Metonymy.  Besides the figures of likeness and unlikeness,
there are others of quite a different kind.  _Metonymy_ consists in the
substitution for the thing itself of something closely associated with
it, as the sign or symbol for the thing symbolized, the cause for the
effect, the instrument for the user of it, the container for the thing
contained, the material for the thing made of it, etc.

_Examples_:  He is a slave to the _cup_.  Strike for your _altars_ and
your _fires_.  The _kettle boils,_ He rose and addressed the _chair_.
The _palace_ should not scorn the _cottage_.  The watched _pot_ never
boils.  The red _coats_ turned and fled.  _Iron_ bailed and _lead_
rained upon the enemy.  The _pen_ is mightier than the _sword_.

8.  Synecdoche.  There is a special kind of metonymy which is given the
dignity of a separate name.  It is the substitution of the part for the
whole or the whole for the part.  The value of it consists in putting
forward the thing best known, the thing that will appeal most powerfully
to the thought and feeling.

_Examples_:  Come and trip it as you go, on the light fantastic _toe_.
American commerce is carried in British _bottoms_.  He bought a
hundred _head_ of cattle.  It is a village of five hundred _chimneys_.
He cried, “A sail, a sail!” The busy _fingers_ toll on.


Indicate the figure of speech used in each of the following sentences:

1.  Come, seeling Night, scarf up the tender eye of pitiful Day.

2.  The coat does not make the man.

3.  From two hundred observatories in Europe and America, the glorious
artillery of science nightly assaults the skies.

4.  The lamp is burning.

5.  Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man's

6.  His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff.

7.  Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the machinery of
sensibility; one is wind power, the other water power.

8.  When you are an anvil, hold you still; when you are a hammer, strike
your fill.

9.  Save the ermine from pollution.

10.  There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood,
leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their lives is bound in
shallows and in miseries.

Turn each of the above sentences into plain language.  Key:  (the
numbers in parantheses indicate the figure of speech in the sentences
as numbered above).  1. (4); 2. (7); 3. (2); 4. (7); 5. (5); 6. (1);
7. (2 and 6); 8. (2 and 6); 9. (7); 10. (2).



There have been many definitions of style; but the disputes of the
rhetoricians do not concern us.  _Style,_ as the word is commonly
understood, is the choice and arrangement of words in sentences and of
sentences in paragraphs as that arrangement is effective in expressing
our meaning and convincing our readers or hearers.  A _good style_ is
one that is effective, and a _bad style_ is one which fails of doing
what the writer wishes to do.  There are as many ways of expressing
ideas as there are ways of combining words (that is, an infinite number),
and as many styles as there are writers.  None of us wishes precisely to
get the style of any one else; but we want to form a good one of our own.

We will briefly note the elements mentioned by those who analyse style,
and then pass on to concrete examples.

Arrangement of words in a sentence.  The first requirement is that the
arrangement of words should be logical, that is grammatical.
The rhetorical requirements are that―

1.  One sentence, with one principal subject and one principal
predicate, should try to express one thought and no more.  If we try
to mix two thoughts in the same sentence, we shall come to grief.
Likewise, we shall fail if we attempt to mix two subjects in the
same paragraph or composition.

2.  The words in the sentence should be arranged that those which are
emphatic will come in the emphatic places.  The beginning and the end
of a sentence are emphatic positions, the place before any mark of
punctuation is usually emphatic, and any word not in its usual place
with relation to the word it modifies grammatically is especially
emphatic.  We must learn the emphatic positions by experience, and
then our instinct will guide us.  The whole subject is one of the
relative values of words.

3.  The words in a sentence should follow each other in such a simple,
logical order that one leads on to another, and the whole meaning flows
like a stream of water.  The reader should never be compelled to stop
and look back to see how the various ideas “hang together.”  This is
the rhetorical side of the logical relationship which grammar requires.
Not only must grammatical rules be obeyed, but logical instinct must be
satisfied with the linking of idea to idea to make a complete thought.
And the same law holds good in linking sentences into paragraphs and
paragraphs into whole compositions.

These three requirements have been named Unity, Mass, and Coherence.

The variations in sentences due to emphasis have given rise to a rhetorical
division of sentences into two classes, called loose and periodic.

A loose sentence is one in which words follow each other in their
natural order, the modifiers of the verb of course following the verb.
Often many of these modifiers are not strictly necessary to complete the
sense and a period may be inserted at some point before the close of the
sentence without destroying its grammatical completeness.  The addition
of phrases and clauses not strictly required constitutes _looseness_
of sentence structure.

A periodic sentence is one which is not grammatically or logically
complete till the end.  If the sentence is somewhat long, the mind is
held in suspense until the last word is uttered.

_Example_.  The following is a loose sentence:  “I stood on the bridge
at midnight, as the clocks were striking the hour.”  The same sentence
becomes periodic by transposition of the less important predicate
modifiers, thus―“At midnight, as the clocks were striking the hour,
I stood on the bridge.”

It will be observed that the periodic form is adapted to oratory and
similar forms of eloquent writing in which the mind of the reader or hearer
is keyed up to a high pitch of expectancy; while the loose sentence is the
one common in all simple narrative and unexcited statement.

Qualities of Style.  Writers on rhetoric note three essential qualities
of style, namely _clearness, force,_ and _elegance_.

Clearness of style is the direct result of clearness and simplicity of
thought.  Unless we have mastered our thought in every particular before
trying to express it, confusion is inevitable.  At the same time, if we
have mastered our thought perfectly, and yet express it in language not
understood by the persons to whom and for whom we write or speak, our
style will not be clear to them, and we shall have failed in conveying
our thoughts as much as if we had never mastered them.

Force is required to produce an effect on the mind of the hearer.  He
must not only understand what we say, but have some emotion in regard
to it; else he will have forgotten our words before we have fairly
uttered them.  Force is the appeal which words make to the feeling,
as clearness is the appeal they make to the understanding.

Elegance is required only in writing which purports to be good
literature.  It is useful but not required in business letters, or in
newspaper writing; but it is absolutely essential to higher literary
art.  It is the appeal which the words chosen and the arrangement
selected make to our sense of beauty.  That which is not beautiful has
no right to be called “literature,” and a style which does not possess
the subtle elements of beauty is not a strictly “literary” style.

Most of us by persistent effort can conquer the subject of clearness.
Even the humblest person should not open his mouth or take up his pen
voluntarily unless he can express himself clearly; and if he has any
thought to express that is worth expressing, and wants to express it,
he will sooner or later find a satisfactory way of expressing it.

The thing that most of us wish to find out is, how to write with force.
Force is attained in various ways, summarized as follows:

1.  By using words which are in themselves expressive.

2.  By placing those words in emphatic positions in the sentence.

3.  By varying the length and form of successive sentences so that the
reader or hearer shall never be wearied by monotony.

4.  By figures of speech, or constant comparison and illustration,
and making words suggest ten times as much as they say.

5.  By keeping persistently at one idea, though from every possible
point of view and without repetition of any kind, till that idea has
sunk into the mind of the hearer and has been fully comprehended.

Force is destroyed by the―Vice of repetition with slight change or
addition; Vice of monotony in the words, sentences or paragraphs;
Vice of over-literalness and exactness; Vice of trying to emphasize more
than one thing at a time; Vice of using many words with little meaning;
or words barren of suggestiveness and destitute of figures of speech;
and its opposite, the Vice of overloading the style with so many figures
of speech and so much suggestion and variety as to disgust or confuse.
These vices have been named tautology, dryness, and “fine writing.”
Without doubt the simplest narration is the hardest kind of composition
to write, chiefly because we do not realize how hard it is.  The first
necessity for a student is to realize the enormous requirements for a
perfect mastery of style.  The difficulties will not appear to the one
who tries original composition by way of practice, since there is no
way of “checking up” his work.  He may (or may not) be aware that what
he is doing does not produce the effect that the writing of a master
produces; but if he does realize it, he will certainly fail to discover
wherein his own weakness consists.

The only effective way of making the discovery is that described by
Franklin, and there is no masterpiece of literature better to practise
upon than Ruskin's “The King of the Golden River.”  Unlike much
beautiful and powerful writing, it is so simple that a child can
understand it.  Complete comprehension of the meaning is absolutely
necessary before any skill in expressing that meaning can be looked for,
and an attempt to imitate that which is not perfectly clear will not
give skill.  And with this simplicity there is consummate art.  Ruskin
uses nearly all the devices described in the preceding pages.  Let us
look at some of these in the first three paragraphs of Ruskin's story:

In a secluded and mountainous part of Styria, there was, in old time,
a valley of most surprising and luxuriant fertility.  It was surrounded
on all sides by steep and rocky mountains rising into peaks which were
always covered with snow and from which a number of torrents descended
in constant cataracts.  One of these fell westward, over the face of
a crag so high that, when the sun had set to everything else, and all
below was darkness, his beams still shone full upon this waterfall,
so that it looked like a shower of gold.  It was, therefore, called by
the people of the neighborhood the Golden River{.}  It was strange that
none of these streams fell into the valley itself.  They all descended
on the other side of the mountains, and wound through broad plains and
by populous cities.  But the clouds were drawn so constantly to the
snowy hills, and rested so softly in the circular hollow, that, in time
of drought and heat, when all the country round was burnt up, there was
still rain in the little valley; and its crops were so heavy, and its
hay so high, and its apples so red, and its grapes so blue, and its wine
so rich, and its honey so sweet, that it was a marvel to every one who
beheld it, and was commonly called the Treasure Valley.

The whole of this little valley belonged to three brothers, called
Schwartz, Hans, and Gluck.  Schwartz and Hans, the two elder brothers,
were very ugly men, with overwhelming eyebrows and small, dull eyes,
which were always half shut, so that you couldn't see into them, and
always fancied they saw very far into _you_.  They lived by farming
the Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were.  They killed
everything that did not pay for its eating.  They shot the blackbirds,
because they pecked the fruit; and killed the hedge-hogs, lest they
should suck the cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs
in the kitchen; and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all summer
in the lime-trees.  They worked their servants without any wages, till
they could not work any more, and then quarrelled with them and turned
them out of doors without paying them.  It would have been very odd,
if, with such a farm, and such a system of farming, they hadn't got
very rich; and very rich they did get.

They generally contrived to keep their corn by them till it was very
dear, and then sell it for twice its value; they had heaps of gold lying
about on their floors, yet it was never known that they had given so
much as a penny or a crust in charity; they never went to mass; grumbled
perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of so cruel and
grinding a temper, as to receive from all those with whom they had any
dealings, the nickname of the “Black Brothers.”

The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both
appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined
or desired.  He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed, and
kind in temper to every living thing.  He did not, of course, agree
particularly well with his brothers, or rather they did not agree with
him.  He was usually appointed to the honorable office of turnspit,
when there was anything to roast, which was not often; for, to do the
brothers justice, they were hardly less sparing upon themselves than
upon other people.  At other times he used to clean the shoes, the floors,
and sometimes the plates, occasionally getting what was left on them,
by way of encouragement, and a wholesome quantity of dry blows, by way
of education.

The author starts out with a periodic sentence, beginning with a
predicate modifier and placing the subject last.  This serves to fix
our attention from the first.  The arrangement also throws the emphasis
on “surprising and luxuriant fertility.”  The last word is the essential
one in conveying the meaning, though a modifier of the simple subject
noun “valley.”  The next sentence is a loose one.  After catching the
attention of the reader, we must not burden his mind too much till he
gets interested.  We must move along naturally and easily, and this
Ruskin does.  The third sentence is periodic again.  We are now awake
and able to bear transposition for the sake of emphasis.  Ruskin first
emphasizes “so high,” the adjective being placed after its noun, and
then leads the way to the chief emphasis, which comes on the word
“gold,” the last in the sentence.  There is also an antithesis between
the darkness below and the light on the peak which is bright enough to
turn the water into gold.  This also helps to emphasize “gold.”  We
have now had three long sentences and the fourth sentence, which
concludes this portion of the subject, is a short one.  “Golden River”
is emphasized by being thrown quite to the end, a little out of its
natural order, which would have been immediately after the verb.  The
emphasis on “gold” in the preceding sentence prepared the way for the
emphasis on “Golden River;” and by looking back we see how every word
has been easily, gracefully leading up to this conclusion.

Ordinarily this would be the end of a paragraph.  We may call the first
four sentences a “sub-paragraph.”  The capital letters in “Golden River”
mark the division to the eye, and the emphasis marks the division to the
mind.  We do not begin with a new paragraph, simply because the subject
that follows is more closely connected with the first four sentences
than with the paragraph which follows.

Beginning with “It was strange that none of these streams” etc., we have
two rather short, simple, loose sentences, which introduce us in a most
natural manner to the subject to be presented, and prepare the way for a
very long, somewhat complicated sentence, full of antitheses, ending with
the emphatic words “Treasure Valley.”  These two words are to this part
of the paragraph what the words “Golden River” were to the first part;
and besides, we see before us the simple, beautiful picture of the Golden
River above the Treasure Valley, presented in words whose power and grace
we cannot fail to appreciate.

The second paragraph goes forward in the most matter-of-course and
easy way.  The first sentence is short, but the second is longer,
with a pleasing variation of long and short phrases, and it ends with
a contrast marked to the eye by the italic words “them” and “you.”
The next two sentences are quite short, and variety is given by the
simple transposition in “and very good farmers they were.”  This is
no more than a graceful little twirl to relieve any possible monotony.
The fourth sentence in the paragraph is also very short, purposely made
so for emphasis.  It gives in a word what the following long sentence
presents in detail.  And observe the constant variation in the form of
this long sentence:  in the first clause we have “They shot … because,”
in the second, “and killed … lest” (the subject of killed being implied,
but its place supplied by and), while in the third, the subject of the
verb is again expressed, and then we have the prepositional form “for
eating” instead of the conjunction and verb in a subordinate sentence.
Moreover we have three different verbs meaning the same thing―shot,
killed, poisoned.  By the variation Ruskin avoids monotony; yet by the
similarity he gains emphasis.  The likeness of the successive clauses
is as important as their difference.  There is also in each an implied
contrast, between the severe penalty and the slight offense.  By
implication each word gives an added touch to the picture of hardness
and cruelty of the two brothers.  Ruskin finds a dozen different ways
of illustrating the important statement he made in the second sentence
(the first sentence being merely introductory).  And at the end of
the paragraph we have the whole summed up in a long sentence full
of deliberate rather than implied contrasts, which culminate in the
two words “Black Brothers.”

It is easy to see that much of the strength of these two paragraphs lies
in the continued and repeated use of contrast.  The first paragraph,
with its beautiful description of the “Golden River” and the “Treasure
Valley,” is itself a perfect contrast to the second, with its “Black
Brothers” and all their meanness; and we have already seen that the
second paragraph itself is filled with antitheses.

In these two paragraphs we have but two simple ideas, that of the place
with all its beauty, and that of the brothers with all their ugliness.
Ruskin might have spoken of them in two sentences, or even in one; but
as a matter of fact, in order to make us think long enough about these
two things, he takes them one at a time and gives us glints, like the
reflections from the different facets of a diamond slowly turned about
in the light.  Each is almost like the preceding, yet a little different;
and when we have seen all in succession, we understand each better, and
the whole subject is vividly impressed on our minds.

In the third paragraph we have still another contrast in the description
of little Gluck.  This paragraph is shorter, but the same devices are
used that we found in the preceding.

In these three paragraphs the following points are well illustrated:

1.  Each paragraph develops one subject, which has a natural relation to
what precedes and what follows;

2.  Each idea is presented in a succession of small details which follow
in easy, logical order one after the other;

3.  There is constant variety and contrast, difference with likeness and
likeness with difference.



Addison, Stevenson, Lamb.

Mere correctness in sentence structure (grammar) may be purely
scientific; but the art of rhetoric is so wrapped up with human emotion
that the study of human nature counts for infinitely more than the
theory of arrangement, figures of speech, etc., Unless the student has
some idea how the human mind works (his own mind and the minds of his
readers), he will make little or no progress in his study of this
subject.  Professional teachers ignore this almost completely, and that
is one reason why they so often fail; and it is also a reason why persons
who do not go to them for training so often succeed:  the latter class
finds that knowledge of the human heart makes up for many deficiencies.

The first important consideration is _good nature_.  It is not often
that we can use words to compel; we must win; and it is an old proverb
that “more flies are caught with molasses than with vinegar.”  The novice
in writing is always too serious, even to morbidness, too “fierce,” too
arrogant and domineering in his whole thought and feeling.  Sometimes
such a person compels attention, but not often.  The universal way is
to attract, win over, please.  Most of the arts of formal rhetoric are
arts of making language pleasing; but what is the value of knowing the
theory in regard to these devices when the spirit of pleasing is absent?

We must go at our work gently and good-naturedly, and then there will
be no straining or morbidness or repulsiveness of manner.  But all this
finds its consummation in what is called _humor_.

Humor is a thing that can be cultivated, even learned; and it is one
of the most important things in the whole art of writing.

We will not attempt to say just what humor is.  The effort could bring
no results of value.  Suffice it to say that there is implanted in most
of us a sense of the ridiculous―of the incongruous.  If a thing is a
little too big or a little too small for the place it is intended to
fill, for some occult reason we regard it as funny.  The difference of
a hair seems to tickle us, whereas a great difference does not produce
that kind of effect at all.

We may secure humor by introducing into our writing the slightest
possible exaggeration which will result in the slightest possible
incongruity.  Of course this presupposes that we understand the facts
in a most thorough and delicate way.  Our language is not precisely
representative of things as they are, but it proves better than any
other language that we know just what the truth is.

Humor is the touchstone by which we ought to try ourselves and our work.

It will prevent our getting very far away from what is normal and natural.

So much for its effect on ourselves.  To our readers it proves that we
are good-natured, honest, and determined to be agreeable.  Besides, it
makes an appeal to them on their weakest side.  Few people can resist a
joke.  There is never any occasion for them to cultivate resistance.  So
there is no more certain way by which we can get quickly and inevitably
into their confidence and fellowship.  When once we are on good terms
with them they will listen to us while we say anything we may have to say.
Of course we shall often have many serious things to say; but humor will
open the way for us to say them better than any other agency.

It is to be noted that humor is slighter and more delicate than any other
form of wit, and that it is used by serious and accomplished writers.
It is the element of success in nearly all essay-writing, especially in
letters; and the business man will find it his most powerful weapon in
advertising.  Its value is to be seen by uses so various.

The student is invited to study three examples of humor.  The first is
Addison's “Advice in Love.”  It is obvious that this subject could not
very well be treated in any other way.  It is too delicate for anything
but delicate humor, for humor can handle subjects which would be
impossible for any other kind of language.  Besides, the sentiment would
be likely to nauseate us by its excess or its morbidity, except for the
healthy salt of humor.  Humor makes this essay instructive and interesting.

Next we present two letters from Stevenson.  Here we see that humor
makes commonplace things interesting.  How deadly dull would be the
details Stevenson gives in these letters but for the enlivenment of humor!
By what other method could anything worth reading have been gotten out of
the facts?

The selection from Charles Lamb is an illustration of how humor may save
the utterly absurd from being unreadable.  Lamb had absolutely nothing
to say when he sat down to write this letter; and yet he contrived to be
amusing, if not actually interesting.

The master of humor can draw upon the riches of his own mind, and
thereby embellish and enliven any subject he may desire to write upon.

Of these three selections, the easiest to imitate is Addison.  First,
we should note the old-fashioned phrasing and choice of words, and
perhaps translate Addison into simple, idiomatic, modern English,
altering as little as possible.  We note that the letter offered by
Addison is purposely filled with all the faults of rhetoric which we
never find in his own writing.  Addison's humorous imitation of these
faults gives us twice as good a lesson as any possible example of real
faults made by some writer unconsciously.

In Stevenson's letters we see the value of what has been called “the
magic word.”  Nearly the whole of his humor consists in selecting a
word which suggests ten times as much as it expresses on its face.
There is a whole world of fun in this suggestion.  Sometimes it is
merely commonplace punning, as when he speaks of the “menial” of
“high Dutch extraction” as yet “only partially extracted;” and again
it is the delicate insinuation contained in spelling “Parc” with a _c,_
for that one letter gives us an entire foreign atmosphere, and the
disproportion between the smallness of the letter and the extent of
the suggestiveness touches our sense of the ridiculous.

The form of study of these passages may be slightly altered.  Instead
of making notes and rewriting exactly as the original authors wrote,
we should keep the original open before us and try to produce something
slightly different in the same vein.  We may suppose the letter on love
written by a man instead of by a woman.  Of course its character will
be quite different, though exactly the same characteristics will be
illustrated.  This change will require an alteration in almost every
sentence of the essay.  Our effort should be to see how little change
in the wording will be required by this one change in subject; though
of course we should always modernize the phrasing.  In the case of
Stevenson, we may suppose that we are writing a similar letter to friends,
but from some other city than San Francisco.  We may imitate Lamb by
describing our feelings when afflicted by some other ailment than a cold.


By Joseph Addison.

It is an old observation, which has been made of politicians who would
rather ingratiate, themselves with their sovereign, than promote his
real service, that they accommodate their counsels to his inclinations,
and advise him to such actions only as his heart is naturally set upon.
The privy-counsellor of one in love must observe the same conduct,
unless he would forfeit the friendship of the person who desires his
advice.  I have known several odd cases of this nature.  Hipparchus was
going to marry a common woman, but being resolved to do nothing without
the advice of his friend Philander, he consulted him upon the occasion.
Philander told him his mind freely, and represented his mistress to him
in such strong colors, that the next morning he received a challenge for
his pains, and before twelve o'clock was run through the body by the man
who had asked his advice.  Celia was more prudent on the like occasion;
she desired Leonilla to give her opinion freely upon a young fellow who
made his addresses to her.  Leonilla, to oblige her, told her with great
frankness, that she looked upon him as one of the most worthless―
Celia, foreseeing what a character she was to expect, begged her not to
go on, for that she had been privately married to him above a fortnight.

The truth of it is a woman seldom asks advice before she has bought her
wedding clothes.  When she has made her own choice, for form's sake she
sends a _congé d'élire_ to her friends.

If we look into the secret springs and motives that set people at work
on these occasions, and put them upon asking advice, which they never
intend to take; I look upon it to be none of the least, that they
are incapable of keeping a secret which is so very pleasing to them.
A girl longs to tell her confidant that she hopes to be married in a
little time, and, in order to talk of the pretty fellow that dwells so
much in her thoughts, asks her gravely, what she would advise her to
in a case of so much difficulty.  Why else should Melissa, who had not
a thousand pounds in the world, go into every quarter of the town to
ask her acquaintance whether they would advise her to take Tom Townly,
that made his addresses to her with an estate of five thousand a year?
'Tis very pleasant on this occasion to hear the lady propose her doubts,
and to see the pains she is at to get over them.

I must not here omit a practice that is in use among the vainer part
of our own sex, who will often ask a friend's advice, in relation to a
fortune whom they are never likely to come at.  Will Honeycomb, who is
now on the verge of threescore, took me aside not long since, and ask
me in his most serious look, whether I would advise him to marry my Lady
Betty Single, who, by the way, is one of the greatest fortunes about
town.  I stared him full in the face upon so strange a question; upon
which he immediately gave me an inventory of her jewels and estate,
adding, that he was resolved to do nothing in a matter of such
consequence without my approbation.  Finding he would have an answer,
I told him, if he could get the lady's consent, he had mine.  This is
about the tenth match which, to my knowledge, Will has consulted
his friends upon, without ever opening his mind to the party herself.

I have been engaged in this subject by the following letter, which comes
to me from some notable young female scribe, who, by the contents of it,
seems to have carried matters so far that she is ripe for asking advice;
but as I would not lose her good-will, nor forfeit the reputation which
I have with her for wisdom, I shall only communicate the letter to the
public, without returning any answer to it.

  “Mr. Spectator,
     Now, sir, the thing is this:  Mr. Shapely is the prettiest gentleman
about town.  He is very tall, but not too tall neither.  He dances like
an angel.  His mouth is made I do not know how, but it is the prettiest
that I ever saw in my life.  He is always laughing, for he has an
infinite deal of wit.  If you did but see how he rolls his stockings!
He has a thousand pretty fancies, and I am sure, if you saw him, you
would like him, he is a very good scholar, and can talk Latin as
fast as English.  I wish you could but see him dance.  Now you must
understand poor Mr. Shapely has no estate; but how can he help that,
you know?  And yet my friends are so unreasonable as to be always
teasing me about him, because he has no estate: but I am sure he has
that that is better than an estate; for he is a good-natured, ingenious,
modest, civil, tall, well-bred, handsome man, and I am obliged to him
for his civilities ever since I saw him.  I forgot to tell you that he
has black eyes, and looks upon me now and then as if he had tears in
them.  And yet my friends are so unreasonable, that they would have me
be uncivil to him.  I have a good portion which they cannot hinder me
of, and I shall be fourteen on the 29th day of August next, and am
therefore willing to settle in the world as soon as I can, and so is
Mr. Shapely.  But everybody I advise with here is poor Mr. Shapely's
enemy.  I desire, therefore, you will give me your advice, for I know
you are a wise man: and if you advise me well, I am resolved to follow
it.  I heartily wish you could see him dance, and am,
     “Sir, your most humble servant.
                                   B. D.”
“He loves your Spectator mightily.”


Addison's object in writing this paper is largely serious: he wishes
to criticise and correct manners and morals.  He is satirical, but so
good-humored in his satire that no one could be offended.  He also
contrives to give the impression that he refers to “the other fellow,”
not to you.  This delicacy and tact are as important in the writer as in
the diplomat, for the writer quite as much as the diplomat lives by favor.

Addison is not a very strict writer, and his works have given examples
for the critics by the score.  One of these is seen in “begged her not
to go on, _for-that_ she had been privately married:” “begged” and “for
that” do not go well together.  To a modern reader such a phrasing as
“If we look into …… I look upon it to be” etc., seems a little awkward,
if not crude; but we may excuse these seeming discrepancies as “antique
usage,” along with such phrases as “advise her to in a case of such
difficulty” and “to hear the lady _propose_ her doubts, and to see the
pains she is _at_ to get over them.”

“Fortune whom” is evidently a personification.  The use of _party_ in
“to the party herself” is now reckoned an Americanism (!)  “Engaged
_in_ this subject” is evidently antiquated.

We miss in Addison the variety which we found in Ruskin.  He does not
seem to understand the art of alternating long and short sentences,
and following one sentence form by another in quick succession.  The
fact is, English prose style has made enormous advances since the time
of Addison, and we learn more by comparing him with a writer like Ruskin
than by deliberately imitating him.  At the same time his method is
simpler, and since it is so we may find him a good writer to begin our
study with.  In spite of any little faults we may find with him, he was
and is a great writer, and we should be sure we can write as _well_ as he
before we reject him.


By Robert Louis Stevenson.


My Dear Mother,―I am here at last, sitting in my room, without coat or
waistcoat, and with both window and door open, and yet perspiring like a
terra-cotta jug or a Gruy{è}əre cheese:

We had a very good passage, which we certainly deserved no compensation
for having to sleep on the cabin floor and finding absolutely nothing
fit for human food in the whole filthy embarkation.  We made up for lost
time by sleeping on deck a good part of the forenoon.  When I awoke,
Simpson was still sleeping the sleep of the just, on a coil of ropes and
(as appeared afterwards) his own hat; so I got a bottle of Bass and a
pipe and laid hold of an old Frenchman of somewhat filthy aspect (fiat
experimentum in corpora vii) to try my French upon.  I made very heavy
weather of it.  The Frenchman had a very pretty young wife; but my
French always deserted me entirely when I had to answer her, and so she
soon drew away and left me to her lord, who talked of French politics,
Africa, and domestic economy with great vivacity.  From Ostend a smoking
hot journey to Brussels!  At Brussels we went off after dinner to the
Pare.  If any person wants to be happy, I should advise the Pare.  You
sit drinking iced drinks and smoking penny cigars under great old trees.

The band place, covered walks, etc., are all lit up; and you can't fancy
how beautiful was the contrast of the great masses of lamplit foliage
and the dark sapphire night sky with just one blue star set overhead
in the middle of the largest patch.  In the dark walks, too, there
are crowds of people whose faces you cannot see, and here and there a
colossal white statue at the corner of an alley that gives the place a
nice, _artificial,_ eighteenth-century sentiment.  There was a good deal
of summer lightning blinking overhead, and the black avenues and white
statues leapt out every minute into short-lived distinctness.


My dear Colvin,―Any time between eight and half-past nine in the
morning, a slender gentleman in an ulster, with a volume buttoned into
the breast of it, may be observed leaving No. 608 Bush and descending
Powell with an active step.  The gentleman is R. L. S.; the volume
relates to Benjamin Franklin, on whom he meditates one of his charming
essays.  He descends Powell, crosses Market, and descends in Sixth on
a branch of the original Pine Street Coffee House, no less; I believe he
would be capable of going to the original itself, if he could only find
it.  In the branch he seats himself at a table covered with waxcloth,
and a pampered menial, of high Dutch extraction and, indeed, as yet only
partially extracted, lays before him a cup of coffee, a roll, and a pat
of butter, all, to quote the deity, very good.  Awhile ago, and H. L. S.
used to find the supply of butter insufficient; but he has now learned
the art to exactitude, and butter and roll expire at the same moment.
For this refection he pays ten cents, or five pence sterling (£0 0s 5d).

Half an hour later, the inhabitants of Bush Street observe the same
slender gentleman armed, like George Washington, with his little
hatchet, splitting kindling, and breaking coal for his fire.  He
does this quasi-publicly upon the window-sill; but this is not to
be attributed to any love of notoriety, though he is indeed vain of
his prowess with the hatchet (which he persists in calling an axe),
and daily surprised at the perpetuation of his fingers.  The reason is
this:  that the sill is a strong, supporting beam, and that blows of the
same emphasis in other parts, of his room might knock the entire shanty
into hell.  Thenceforth, for from three to four hours, he is engaged
darkly with an ink-bottle.  Yet he is not blacking _his_ boots, for the
only pair that he possesses are innocent of lustre and wear the natural
hue of the material turned up with caked and venerable slush.  The youngest
child of his landlady remarks several times a day, as this strange occupant
enters or quits the house, “Dere's de author.”  Can it be that this
bright-haired innocent has found the true clue to the mystery?  The being
in question is, at least, poor enough to belong to that honorable craft.


The first of these two letters by Stevenson was written very early in his
literary career, the second when he may be supposed to have been at the
height of his powers.  It is interesting to see to what extent he had
improved his style.

Note now much suggestiveness (apart from the apparent meaning) is
contained in such words and phrases as “the whole filthy embarkation;”
“made very heavy weather of it” (speaking French); “Parc”;
“_artificial_” (the peculiar meaning being indicated by italicizing);
“pampered menial” (the reference being to just the opposite).

There is a peculiar mechanical sort of humor in omitting the word
_street_ after “Bush,” “Powell,” etc., and in giving the cost of his
meal so elaborately―“ten cents, or fivepence sterling (£0 0s 5d).”

The chief source of fun is in giving small things an importance they
do not deserve.  The author is making fun at himself.  Of course since
he makes fun at himself it is good-natured; but it must be just as
good-natured if one is to make fun of any one else.  Addison was so
successful because no suggestion of malice ever crept into his satire.


By Charles Lamb.

January 9, 1824.

Dear B. B.,―Do you know what it is to succumb under an insurmountable
day-mare,―a “whoreson lethargy,” Falstaff calls it,―an indisposition
to do anything or to be anything; a total deadness and distaste; a
suspension of vitality; an indifference to locality; a numb, soporifical
good-for-nothingness; an ossification all over; an oyster-like
insensibility to the passing events; a mind-stupor; a brawny de-fiance
to the needles of a thrust-in conscience?  Did you ever have a very
bad cold with a total irresolution to submit to water-gruel processes?
This has been for many weeks my lot and my excuse.  My fingers drag
heavily over this paper, and to my thinking it is three-and-twenty
furlongs from here to the end of this demi-sheet.  I have not a thing to
say, nothing is of more importance than another.  I am flatter than a
denial or a pancake; emptier than Judge Parke's wig when the head is in
it; duller than a country stage when the actors are off it,―a cipher,
an o!  I acknowledge life at all only by an occasional convulsional
cough, and a permanent phlegmatic pain in the chest.  I am weary of the
world; life is weary of me.  My day is gone into twilight, and I don't
think it worth the expense of candles.  My wick bath a thief in it,
but I can't muster courage to snuff it.  I inhale suffocation; I can't
distinguish veal from mutton; nothing interests me.  'Tis twelve
o'clock, and Thurtell* is just now coming out upon the new drop, Jack
Ketch alertly tucking up his greasy sleeves to do the last office of
mortality; yet cannot I elicit a groan or a moral reflection.  If you
told me the world will be at an end tomorrow, I should say “Will it?”
I have not volition enough left to dot my i's, much less to comb my
eyebrows; my eyes are set in my head; my brains are gone out to see a
poor relation in Moorfields, and they did not say when they'd come
back again; my skull is a Grub-street attic to let,―not so much as a
joint-stool left in it; my hand writes, not I, from habit, as chickens
run about a little when their heads are cut off.  Oh for a vigorous fit
of gout, colic, toothache―an earwig{†}¤ in my auditory, a fly in my
visual organs; pain is life,―the sharper the more evidence of life;
but this apathy, this death!  Did you ever have an obstinate cold,
a six or seven weeks' unintermitting chill and suspension of hope, fear,
conscience, and everything?  Yet do I try all I can to cure it.  I try
wine, and spirits, and smoking, and snuff in unsparing quantities; but
they all only seem to make me worse, instead of better.  I sleep in a damp
room, but it does no good; I come home late o' nights, but do not find
any visible amendment!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

 *Hanged that day for the murder of Weare.

 {†}¤An ant

It is just fifteen minutes after twelve.  Thurtell is by this time a good
way on his journey, baiting at Scorpion, perhaps.  Ketch is bargaining
for his cast coat and waistcoat; and the Jew demurs at first at three
half-crowns, but on consideration that he may get somewhat by showing 'em
in the town, finally closes.  C. L.


The danger of not adapting your method to your auditor is well
illustrated by the beginning of Lamb's next letter to the same person:

“My dear sir,―That peevish letter of mine, which was meant to convey
an apology for my incapacity to write, seems to have been taken by
you in too serious a light,―it was only my way of telling you I had
a severe cold.”

Lamb's letter is filled with about every figure of speech known to
rhetoricians: It will be a useful exercise to pick them out.

Any person who does not have a well developed sense of humor will hardly
see the force of the reference to Thurtell, the murderer.  It is a
whimsical way of indicating by a specific example how empty the writer's
brain was, forcing him to reflect on such a subject in so trivial a manner.

Observe the occasional summing up of the meaning, curiously repeating
exactly the same thing―“Did you ever have a very bad cold―?”  “Did you
ever have an obstinate cold―?”  The very short sentences summarize the
very long ones.  The repetition is meant to give the impression of being
clumsy and stupid.  In describing harshness we use words that are harsh,
in describing awkwardness we use words that are awkward, in describing
brightness and lightness we use words that are bright and light, in the
very words themselves giving a concrete illustration of what we mean.




I have said that humor is good-natured and winning.  This is always
true, though the winning of one reader may be at the expense of some
other.  Humor used to win one at the expense of another is called
_satire_ and _sarcasm_.  The simplest form of using satire and sarcasm
is in direct _ridicule_.

Ridicule, satire, and sarcasm are suitable for use against an open
enemy, such as a political opponent, against a public nuisance which
ought to be suppressed, or in behalf of higher ideals and standards.
The one thing that makes this style of little effect is anger or morbid
intensity.  While some thing or some one is attacked, perhaps with
ferocity, results are to be obtained by winning the reader.  So it comes
about that winning, good-natured humor is an essential element in really
successful ridicule.  If intense or morbid hatred or temper is allowed
to dominate, the reader is repulsed and made distrustful, and turns away
without being affected in the desired way at all.

The following, which opens a little known essay of Edgar Allan Poe's,
is one of the most perfect examples of simple ridicule in the English
language.  We may have our doubts as to whether Poe was justified in
using such withering satire on poor Mr. Channing; but we cannot help
feeling that the workmanship is just what it ought to be when ridicule
is employed in a proper cause.  Perhaps the boosting of books into
public regard by the use of great names is a proper and sufficient
subject for attack by ridicule.


By Edgar Allan Poe.

In speaking of Mr. William Ellery Channing, who has just published a
very neat little volume of poems, we feel the necessity of employing the
indefinite rather than the definite article.  He is _a,_ and by no means
_the,_ William Ellery Channing.  He is only the _son_* of the great
essayist deceased… It may be said in his favor that nobody ever heard
of him.  Like an honest woman, he has always succeeded in keeping
himself from being made the subject of gossip.  His book contains
about sixty-three things, which he calls poems, and which he no doubt
seriously supposes to be such.  They are full of all kinds of mistakes,
of which the most important is that of their having been printed at all.

They are not precisely English―nor will we insult a great nation by
calling them Kickapoo; perhaps they are Channingese.  We may convey
some general idea of them by two foreign terms not in common use―the
Italian _pavoneggiarsi,_ “to strut like a peacock,” and the German word
for “sky-rocketing,” _Schwarmerei_.  They are more preposterous, in a word,
than any poems except those of the author of “Sam Patch;” for we presume
we are right (are we not?) in taking it for granted that the author of
“Sam Patch” is the very worst of all the wretched poets that ever existed
upon the earth.

In spite, however, of the customary phrase of a man's “making a fool of
himself,” we doubt if any one was ever a fool of his own free will and
accord.  A poet, therefore, should not always be taken too strictly to
task.  He should be treated with leniency, and even when damned, should
be damned with respect.  Nobility of descent, too, should be allowed
its privileges not more in social life than in letters.  The son of a
great author cannot be handled too tenderly by the critical Jack Ketch.
Mr. Channing must be hung, that's true.  He must be hung _in terrorem
——and_ for this there is no help under the sun; but then we shall do
him all manner of justice, and observe every species of decorum, and
be especially careful of his feelings, and hang him gingerly and
gracefully, with a silken cord, as Spaniards hang their grandees of
the blue blood, their nobles of the _sangre azul_.

 *Really the _nephew_.

To be serious, then, as we always wish to be, if possible, Mr. Channing
(whom we suppose to be a _very_ young man, since we are precluded from
supposing him a _very_ old one), appears to have been inoculated at the
same moment with _virus_ from Tennyson and from Carlyle, etc.


The three paragraphs which we have quoted illustrate three different
methods of using ridicule.  The first is the simple one of contemptuous
epithets——“calling names,” as we put it in colloquial parlance.  So long
as it is good-humored and the writer does not show personal malice, it
is a good way; but the reader soon tires of it.  A sense of fairness
prevents him from listening to mere calling of names very long.  So
in the second paragraph Poe changes his method to one more subtile: he
pretends to apologize and find excuses, virtually saying to the reader,
“Oh, I'm going to be perfectly fair,” while at the same time the excuses
are so absurd that the effect is ridicule of a still more intense and
biting type.  In the third paragraph Poe seems to answer the reader's
mental comment to the effect that “you are merely amusing us by your
clever wit” by asserting that he means to be extremely serious.  He then
proceeds about his business with a most solemn face, which is as amusing
in literature as it is in comic representations on the stage.

In practising upon this type of writing one must select a subject that
he feels to be decidedly in need of suppression.  Perhaps the most
impersonal and easy subject to select for practice is a popular novel
in which one can see absurdities, or certain ridiculous departments in
the newspapers, such as the personal-advice column.  Taking such a
subject, adapt Poe's language to it with as little change as possible.



Macaulay and De Quincey.  The familiar style of the humorist is almost
universal in its availability.  It is the style of conversation, to
a great extent―at least of the best conversation,―of letter-writing,
of essay-writing, and, in large part, of fiction.  But there are moments
when a different and more, hard and artificial style is required.  These
moments are few, and many people never have them at all.  Some people
try to have them and thereby fall into the fault of “fine writing.”
But it is certainly very important that when the great moment comes we
should be prepared for it.  Then a lofty and more or less artificial
style is demanded as imperatively as the key-stone of an arch when
the arch is completed except for the key-stone.  Without the ability
to write one lofty sentence, all else that we have said may completely
fail of its effect, however excellent in itself.

There are three kinds of prose which may be used on such occasions
as we have described.  The lowest and most common of these, as it is
the most artificial and most easily acquired, is the rhetorical, or
oratorical, style, the style of all orators, the style which is called
eloquence.  Of course we may find specimens of it in actual oratory, but
it is best illustrated in its use for written compositions in Macaulay.
The next variety, more rarely used, was especially developed if not
actually invented by De Quincey and was called by him impassioned prose.

It would seem at first that language could go no higher; but it does
mount a little higher simply by trying to do less, and we have loftiness
in its plain simplicity, as when man stands bareheaded and humble in the
presence of God alone.

Macaulay's style is highly artificial, but its rotundity, its movement,
its impressive sweep have made it popular.  Almost any one can acquire
some of its features; but the ease with which it is acquired makes it
dangerous in a high degree, for the writer becomes fascinated with it and
uses it far too often.  It is true that Macaulay used it practically all
the time; but it is very doubtful it Macaulay would have succeeded so well
with it to-day, when the power of simplicity is so much better understood.

De Quincey's “impassioned prose” was an attempt on his part to imitate
the effects of poetry in prose.  Without doubt he succeeded wonderfully;
but the art is so difficult that no one else has equalled him and prose
of the kind that he wrote is not often written.  Still, it is worth
while to try to catch some of his skill.  He began to write this kind of
composition in “The Confessions of an English Opium Eater,” but he reached
perfection only in some compositions intended as sequels to that book,
namely, “Suspiria de Profundis,” and “The English Mail Coach,” with its
“Vision of Sudden Death,” and “Dream-Fugue” upon the theme of sudden death.

What we should strive for above all is the mighty effect of simple and
bare loftiness of thought.  Masters of this style have not been few,
and they seem to slip into it with a sudden and easy upward sweep that
can be compared to nothing so truly as to the upward flight of an eagle.
They mount because their spirits are lofty.  No one who has not a lofty
thought has any occasion to write the lofty style; and such a person
will usually succeed best by paying very little attention to the manner
when he actually comes to write of high ideas.  Still, the lofty style
should be studied and mastered like any other.

It is to be noted that all these styles are applicable chiefly if not
altogether to description.  Narration may become intense at times,
but its intensity demands no especial alteration of style.  Dialogue,
too, may be lofty, but only in dramas of passion, and very few people
are called upon to write these.  But it is often necessary to indicate
a loftier, a more serious atmosphere, and this is effected by
description of surrounding details in an elevated manner.

One of the most natural, simple, and graceful of lofty descriptions
may be found in Ruskin's “King of the Golden River,” Chapter III,
where he pictures the mountain scenery:

It was, indeed, a morning that might have made any one happy, even with
no Golden River to seek for.  Level lines of dewy mist lay stretched
along the valley, out of which rose the massy mountains,―their lower
cliffs in pale gray shadow, hardly distinguishable from the floating
vapor, but gradually ascending till they caught the sunlight, which
ran in sharp touches of ruddy color along the angular crags, and
pierced in long, level rays, through their fringes of spear-like Pine.
Far above, shot up splintered masses of castellated rock, jagged and
shivered into myriads of fantastic forms, with here and there a streak
of sunlit snow, traced down their chasms like a line of forked lightning;
and, far beyond, and far above all these, fainter than the morning cloud,
but purer and changeless, slept in the blue sky, the utmost peaks of the
eternal snow.

If we ask how this loftiness is attained, the reply must be, first,
that the subject is lofty and deserving of lofty description.
Indeed, the description never has a right to be loftier than the
subject.  Then, examining this passage in detail, we find that the
words are all dignified, and in their very sound they are lofty, as
for instance “massy,” “myriads,” “castellated,” “angular crags.”
The very sound of the words seems to correspond to the idea.  Notice
the repetition of the letter _i_ in “Level lines of dewy mist lay
stretched along the valley.”  This repetition of a letter is called
alliteration, and here it serves to suggest in and of itself the idea
of the level.  The same effect is produced again in “streak of sunlit
snow” with the repetition of _s_.  The entire passage is filled with
_alliteration,_ but it is used so naturally that you would never think
of it unless your attention were called to it.

Next, we note that the structure rises gradually but steadily upward.
We never jump to loftiness, and always find it necessary to climb there.

“Jumping to loftiness” is like trying to lift oneself by one's
boot-straps: it is very ridiculous to all who behold it.  Ruskin begins
with a very ordinary sentence.  He says it was a fine morning, just as any
one might say it.  But the next sentence starts suddenly upward from the
dead level, and to the end of the paragraph we rise, terrace on terrace,
by splendid sweeps and jagged cliffs, till at the end we reach “the
eternal snow.”


The study of the following selections from Macaulay and De Quincey may
be conducted on a plan a trifle different from that heretofore employed.

The present writer spent two hours each day for two weeks reading this
passage from Macaulay over and over: then he wrote a short essay on
“Macaulay as a Model of Style,” trying to describe Macaulay's style as
forcibly and skillfully as Macaulay describes the Puritans.  The resulting
paper did not appear to be an imitation of Macaulay, but it had many of
the strong features of Macaulay's style which had not appeared in previous
work.  The same method was followed in the study of De Quincey's “English
Mail Coach,” with even better results.  The great difficulty arose from
the fact that these lofty styles were learned only too well and were not
counterbalanced by the study of other and more universally useful styles.
It is dangerous to become fascinated with the lofty style, highly useful
as it is on occasion.

If the student does not feel that he is able to succeed by the method of
study just described, let him confine himself to more direct imitation,
following out Franklin's plan.


(From the essay on Milton.)

By T. B. Macaulay.

We would speak first of the Puritans, the most remarkable body of men,
perhaps, which the world has ever produced.  The odious and ridiculous
parts of their character lie on the surface.  He that runs may read
them; nor have there been wanting attentive and malicious observers to
point them out.  For many years after the Restoration, they were the
theme of unmeasured invective and derision.  They were exposed to the
utmost licentiousness of the press and of the stage, when the press
and the stage were most licentious.  They were not men of letters;
they were, as a body, unpopular; they could not defend themselves;
and the public would not take them under its protection.  They
were therefore abandoned, without reserve, to the tender mercies
of the satirists and dramatists.  The ostentatious simplicity of their
dress, their sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff posture, their
long graces, their Hebrew names, the Scriptural phrases which they
introduced on every occasion, their contempt of human learning, their
destestation of polite amusements, were indeed fair game for the
laughers.  But it is not from the laughers alone that the philosophy
of history is to be learnt.  And he who approaches this subject should
carefully guard against the influence of that potent ridicule which has
already misled so many excellent writers.

  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Those who roused the people to resistance, who directed their measures
through a long series of eventful years, who formed out of the most
unpromising materials, the finest army that Europe has ever seen, who
trampled down King, Church, and Aristocracy, who, in the short intervals
of domestic sedition and rebellion, made the name of England terrible
to every nation on the face of the earth, were no vulgar fanatics.
Most of their absurdities were mere external badges, like the signs of
freemasonry, or the dress of the friars.  We regret that these badges
were not more attractive.  We regret that a body to whose courage and
talents mankind has owed inestimable obligations had not the lofty
elegance which distinguished some of the adherents of Charles the First,
or the easy good-breeding for which the court of Charles the Second
was celebrated.  But, if we must make our choice, we shall, like Bassanio
in the play, turn from the specious caskets which contain only the Death's
head and the Fool's head and fix on the plain leaden chest which conceals
the treasure.

The Puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character
from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests.
Not content with acknowledging in general terms an overruling
Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the
Great Being, for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection
nothing was too minute.  To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him,
was with them the great end of existence.  They rejected with contempt
the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pure
worship of the soul.  Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the
Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on his
intolerable brightness, and to commune with him face to face.  Hence
originated their contempt for terrestrial distinctions.  The difference
between the greatest and the meanest of mankind seemed to vanish, when
compared with the boundless intervals which separated the whole race
from him on whom their eyes were constantly fixed.  They recognized no
title to superiority but his favor; and, confident of that favor, they
despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world.
If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets,
they were deeply read in the oracles of God.  If their names were not
found in the registers of heralds, they were recorded in the Book of Life.
If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions
of ministering angels had charge over them.  Their palaces were houses not
made with hands; their diadems crowns of glory which should never fade
away.  On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked
down with contempt: for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious
treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language, nobles' by the right
of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand.
The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and
terrible importance belonged, on whose slightest action the spirits of
light and darkness looked with anxious interest, who had been destined,
before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should
continue when heaven and earth should have passed away.  Events which
shortsighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been ordained on
his account.  For his sake empires had risen, and flourished, and decayed.
For his sake the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the
Evangelist, and the harp of the prophet.  He had been wrested by no common
deliverer from the grasp of no common foe.  He had been ransomed by the
sweat of no vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice.  It was
for him that the sun had been darkened, that the rocks had been rent, that
the dead had risen, that all nature had shuddered at the suffering of her
expiring God.

Thus the Puritans were made up of two different men, the one all
self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion, the other proud, calm,
inflexible, sagacious.  He prostrated himself in the dust before his
Maker: but he set his foot on the neck of his king.  In his devotional
retirement, he prayed with convulsions, and groans, and tears.
He was half maddened by glorious or terrible illusions.  He heard the
lyres of angels or the tempting whispers of fiends.  He caught a gleam
of the Beatific Vision, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting
fire.  Like Vane, he thought himself intrusted with the sceptre of the
millienial year.  Like Fleetwood he cried in the bitterness of his soul
that God had hid his face from him.  But when he took his seat in the
council, or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous works of the
soul had left no perceptible trace behind them.

People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard
nothing from them but their groans and their whining hymns, might laugh
at them.  But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in
the hall of debate or in the field of battle.  These fanatics brought
to civil affairs a coolness of judgment and an immutability of purpose
which some writers have thought inconsistent with their religious zeal,
but which were in fact the necessary effects of it.  The intensity
of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other.
One overpowering sentiment had subjected to itself pity and hatred,
ambition and fear.  Death had lost its terrors, and pleasure its charms.

They had their smiles and their tears, their raptures and their sorrows,
but not for the things of this world.  Enthusiasm had made them Stoics,
had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and prejudice,
and raised them above the influence of danger and of corruption.  It
sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise ends, but never to choose
unwise means.  They went through the world like Sir Artegal's iron man
Talus with his flail, crushing and trampling down oppressors, mingling
with human beings, but having neither part nor lot in human infirmities,
insensible to fatigue, to pleasure, and to pain, not to be pierced by
any weapon, not to be withstood by aһ barrier.

Such we believe to have been the character of the Puritans.  We perceive
the absurdity of their manners.  We dislike the sullen gloom of their
domestic habits.  We acknowledge that the tone of their minds was often
injured by straining after things too high for mortal reach: and we know
that, in spite of their hatred of Popery, they too often fell into the
worst vices of that bad system, intolerance and extravagant austerity,
that they had their anchorites and their crusades, their Dunstans and
their De Montforts, their Dominics and their Escobars.  Yet, when all
circumstances are taken into consideration, we do not hesitate to
pronounce them a brave, a wise, an honest, and a useful body.


The most casual examination of Macaulay's style shows us that the words,
the sentences, and the paragraphs are all arranged in rows, one on this
side, one on that, a column here, another just like it over there,
a whole row of columns above this window, and a whole row of columns
above that window, just as bricks are built up in geometrical design.
Almost every word contains an antithesis.  The whole constitutes what
is called the _balanced structure_.

We see also that Macaulay frequently repeats the same word again and
again, and the repetition gives strength.  Indeed, repetition is necessary
to make this balanced structure:  there must always be so much likeness and
so much unlikeness―and the likeness and unlikeness must just balance.

We have shown the utility of variation: Macaulay shows the force there
is in monotony, in repetition.  In one sentence after another through
an entire paragraph he repeats the same thing over and over and over.
There is no rising by step after step to something higher in Macaulay:
everything is on the dead level; but it is a powerful, heroic level.

The first words repeated and contrasted are press and stage.  The sentence
containing these words is balanced nicely.  In the following sentence we
have four short sentences united into one, and the first clause contrasts
with the second and the third with the fourth.  The sentence beginning
“The ostentatious simplicity of their dress” gives us a whole series of
subjects, all resting on a single short predicate―“were fair game for
the laughers.”  The next sentence catches up the, word “laughers” and
plays upon it.

In the second paragraph we have as subject “those” followed by a whole
series of relative clauses beginning with “who,” and this series again
rests on a very short predicate―“were no vulgar fanatics.”

And so on through the entire description, we find series after series,
contrast after contrast; now it is a dozen words all in the same
construction, now a number of sentences all beginning in the same way
and ending in the same way.

The first paragraph takes up the subject of the contrast of those who
laughed and those who were laughed at.  The second paragraph enlarges
upon good points in the objects of the examination.  The third paragraph
describes their minds, and we perceive that Macaulay has all along been
leading into this by his series of contrasts.  In the fourth paragraph
he brings the two sides into the closest possible relations, so that the
contrast reaches its height.  The last short paragraph sums up the facts.

This style, though highly artificial, is highly useful when used in
moderation.  It is unfortunate that Macaulay uses it so constantly.
When he cannot find contrasts he sometimes makes them, and to make
them he distorts the truth.  Besides, he wearies us by keeping us too
monotonously on a high dead level.  In time we come to feel that he is
making contrasts merely because he has a passion for making them, not
because they serve any purpose.  But for one who wishes to learn this
style, no better model can be found in the English language.


On the Theme of Sudden Death.*

By Thomas De Quincey.

 *“The English Mail-Coach” consists of three sections, “The Glory of
Motion,” “vision of Sudden Death,” and “Dream-Fugue.”  De Quincey
describes riding on the top of a heavy mail-coach.  In the dead of
night they pass a young couple in a light gig, and the heavy mail-coach
just escapes shattering the light gig and perhaps killing the young
occupants.  De Quincey develops his sensations in witnessing this
“vision of sudden death,” and rises step by step to the majestic beauty
and poetic passion of the dream-fugue.

                    “Whence the sound
     Of instruments, that made melodious chime,
     Was heard, of harp and organ; and who moved
     Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch
     Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
     Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.”

Paradise Lost, Book XI.


Passion of sudden death! that once in youth I read and interpreted by
the shadows of thy averted signs!―rapture of panic taking the shape
(which amongst tombs in churches I have seen) of woman bursting her
selpuchral bonds―of woman's ionic form bending forward from the ruins
of her grave with arching foot, with eyes upraised, with clasped,
adoring hands―waiting, watching, trembling, praying for the trumpet's
call to rise from dust forever!  Ah, vision too fearful of shuddering
humanity on the brink of mighty abysses!―vision that didst start back,
that didst reel away, like a shivering scroll before the wrath of fire
racing on the wings of the wind!  Epilepsy so brief of horror, wherefore
is it that thou canst not die?  Passing so suddenly into darkness,
wherefore is it that still thou sheddest thy sad funeral blights upon
the gorgeous mosaic of dreams?  Fragments of music too passionate,
heard once and heard no more, what aileth thee, that thy deep rolling
chords come up at intervals through all the worlds of sleep,
and after forty years, have lost no element of horror?


Lo, it is summer―almighty summer!  The everlasting gates of life and
summer are thrown open wide; and on the ocean tranquil and verdant as
a savannah, the unknown lady from the dreadful vision and I myself are
floating―she upon a fairy pinnace, and I upon an English three-decker.

Both of us are wooing gales of festive happiness within the domain
of our common country, within that ancient watery park, within that
pathless chase of ocean, where England takes her pleasure as a huntress
through winter and summer, from the rising to the setting sun.  Ah,
what a wilderness of floral beauty was hidden, or was suddenly revealed,
upon the tropic islands through which the pinnace moved!  And upon her
deck what a bevy of human flowers―young women how lovely, young men bow
noble, that were dancing together, and slowly drifting toward us amidst
music and incense, amidst blossoms from forests and gorgeous corymbi
from vintages, amidst natural carolling, and the echoes of sweet
girlish laughter.  Slowly the pinnace nears us, gaily she hails us,
and silently she disappears beneath the shadow of our mighty bows.
But then, as at some signal from heaven, the music, and the carols,
and the sweet echoing of girlish laughter,―all are hushed.  What evil
has smitten the pinnace, meeting or overtaking her?  Did ruin to our
friends couch within our own dreadful shadow?  Was our shadow the shadow
of death?  I looked over the bow for an answer, and, behold! the pinnace
was dismantled; the revel and the revellers were found no more; the glory
of the vintage was dust; and the forests with their beauty were left
without a witness upon the seas.  “But where,” and I turned to our crew―
“where are the lovely women that danced beneath the awning of flowers and
clustering corynibi?  Whither have fled the noble young men that danced
with _them?_”  Answer there was none.  But suddenly the man at the
masthead, whose countenance darkened with alarm, cried out, “Sail on
the weather beam!  Down she comes upon us; in seventy seconds she
also will founder,”


I looked to the weather side, and the summer had departed.  The sea
was rocking, and shaking with gathering wrath.  Upon its surface sat
mighty mists, which grouped themselves into arches and long cathedral
aisles.  Down one of these, with the fiery pace of a quarrel from a
crossbow, ran a frigate right athwart our course.  “Are they mad?”
some voice exclaimed from our deck.  “Do they woo their ruin?”
But in a moment, as she was close upon us, some impulse of a heady
current or local vortex gave a wheeling bias to her course, and off
she forged without a shock.  As she ran past us, high aloft amongst
the shrouds stood the lady of the pinnace.  The deeps in malice
opened ahead to receive her, the billows were fierce to catch her.
But far away she was borne upon the desert spaces of the sea: whilst
still by sight I followed her, she ran before the howling gale,
chased by angry sea-birds and by maddening billows:  still I saw her,
as at the moment when she ran past us, standing amongst the shrouds,
with her white draperies streaming before the wind.  There she stood,
with hair dishevelled, one hand clutched amongst the tackling―rising,
sinking, fluttering, trembling, praying―there for leagues I saw her as
she stood, raising at intervals one hand to heaven, amidst the fiery
crests of the pursuing waves and the raving of the storm; until at last,
upon a sound from afar of malicious laughter and mockery, all was hidden
forever in driving showers; and afterwards, but when I know not, nor how.


De Quincey's “Dream-Fugue” is as luxuriant and extravagant a use of
metaphor as Macaulay's “Puritans” is of the use of antithesis and the
balanced structure.  The whole thing is a metaphor, and every part is a
metaphor within a metaphor.

This is much more than mere fine writing.  It is a metaphorical
representation of the incident he has previously described.  In that
incident he was particular struck by the actions of the lady.  The young
man turned his horse out of the path of the coach, but some part of the
coach struck one of the wheels of the gig, and as it did so, the lady
involuntarily started up, throwing up her arms, and at once sank back
as in a faint.  De Quincey did not see her face, and hence he speaks
in this description of “averted signs?”  The “woman bursting her
sepulchral bonds” probably refers to a tomb in Westminster Abbey which
represents a woman escaping from the door of the tomb, and Death, a
skeleton, is just behind her, but too late to catch her “arching foot”
as she flies upward―presumably as a spirit.

So every image corresponds to a reality, either in the facts or in
De Quincey's emotion at the sight of them.  The novice fails in such
writing as this because he becomes enamored of his beautiful images and
forgets what he is trying to illustrate.  The relation between reality
and image should be as invariable as mathematics.  If such startling
images cannot be used with perfect clearness and vivid perception of
their usefulness and value, they should not be used at all.  De Quincey
is so successful because his mind comprehends every detail of the scene,
and through the images we see the bottom truth as through a perfect
crystal.  A clouded diamond is no more ruined by its cloudiness than
a clouded metaphor.

As in Ruskin's description of the mountain, we see in this the value
of the sounds of words, and how they seem to make music in themselves.
A Word lacking in dignity in the very least would have ruined the whole
picture, and so would a word whose rotund sound did not correspond
to the loftiness of the passage.  Perhaps the only word that jars is
“English three-decker”―but the language apparently afforded De Quincey
no substitute which would make his meaning clear.




It has been hinted that the rhetorical, impassioned, and lofty styles
are in a measure dangerous.  The natural corrective of that danger is
artistic _reserve_.

Reserve is a negative quality, and so it has not been emphasized by
writers on composition as it ought to be.  But if it is negative,
it is none the less real and important, and fortunately we have in
Thackeray a masterly example of its positive power.

Originally reserve is to be traced to a natural reticence and modesty
in the character of the author who employs it.  It may be studied,
however, and cultivated as a characteristic of style.  As an artistic
quality it consists in saying exactly what the facts demand, no more,
no less―and to say no more especially on those occasions when most
people employ superlatives.  Macaulay was not characterized by reserve.
He speaks of the Puritans as “the most remarkable body of men the world
ever produced.”  “Most” is a common word in his vocabulary, since it
served so well to round out the phrase and the idea.  Thackeray, on the
other hand, is almost too modest.  He is so afraid of saying too much
that sometimes he does not say enough, and that may possibly account
for the fact that he was never as popular as the overflowing Dickens.
The lack of reserve made Dickens “slop over” occasionally, as indelicate
critics have put it; and the presence of reserve did more than any other
one thing to give Thackeray the reputation for perfect style which all
concede to him.

One of the most famous passages in all of Thackeray's works is the
description of the battle of Waterloo in “Vanity Fair,” ch. XXXII:

All that day, from morning till past sunset, the cannon never ceased to
roar.  It was dark when the cannonading stopped all of a sudden.

All of us have read of what occurred during that interval.  The tale is
in every Englishman's mouth; and you and I, who were children when the
great battle was won and lost, are never tired of hearing and recounting
the history of that famous action.  Its remembrance rankles still in the
bosoms of millions of the countrymen of those brave men who lost the
day.  They pant for an opportunity of revenging that humiliation; and if
a contest, ending in a victory on their part, should ensue, elating them
in their turn, and leaving its cursed legacy of hatred and rage behind
to us, there is no end to the so called glory and shame, and to the
alternation of successful and unsuccessful murder, in which two
high-spirited nations might engage.  Centuries hence, we Frenchmen
and Englishmen might be boasting and killing each other still,
carrying out bravely the Devil's code of honor.

All our friends took their share, and fought like men in the great
field.  All day long, while the women were praying ten miles away,
the lines of the dauntless English infantry were receiving and repelling
the furious charges of the French horsemen.  Guns which were heard in
Brussels were ploughing up their ranks, and comrades falling, and the
resolute survivors closing in.  Towards evening, the attack of the
French, repeated and resisted so bravely, slackened in its fury.
They had other foes besides the British to engage, or were preparing
for a final onset.  It came at last; the columns of the Imperial Guard
marched up the hill of Saint Jean, at length and at once to sweep the
English from the height which they had maintained all day and spite of
all; unscared by the thunder of the artillery, which hurled death from
the English line,―the dark rolling column pressed on and up the hill.
It seemed almost to crest the eminence, when it began to wave and
falter.  Then it stopped, still facing the shot.  Then, at last,
the English troops rushed from the post from which no enemy had been
able to dislodge them, and the Guard turned and fled.

No more firing was heard at Brussels,―the pursuit rolled miles away.
Darkness came down on the field and city; and Amelia was praying for
George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart.”

Who before ever began the description of a great victory by praising the
enemy!  And yet when we consider it, there is no more artistically
powerful method than this, of showing how very great the enemy was,
and then saying simply, “The English defeated them.”

But Thackeray wished to do more than this.  He was preparing the reader
for the awful presence of death in a private affliction, Amelia's loss
of her husband George.  To do this he lets his heart go out in sympathy
for the French, and by that sympathy he seems to rise above all race, to
a supreme height where exist the griefs of the human heart and God alone.

With all this careful preparation, the short, simple closing paragraph―
the barest possible statement of the facts―produces an effect unsurpassed
in literature.  The whole situation seems to cry out for superlatives;
yet Thackeray uses none, but remains dignified, calm, and therefore grand.

The following selection serves as a sort of preface to the novel
“Vanity Fair.”  It is quite as remarkable for the things it leaves
unsaid as for the things it says.  Of course its object is to whet the
reader's appetite for the story that is to follow; but throughout the
author seems to be laughing at himself.  In the last paragraph we see
one of the few superlatives to be found In Thackeray―he says the show
has been “most favorably noticed” by the “conductors of the Public
Press, and by the Nobility and Gentry.”  Those capital letters prove the
humorous intent of the superlative, which seems to be a burlesque on
other authors who praise themselves.  One of the criticisms had been
that Amelia was no better than a doll; and Thackeray takes the critics
at their word and refers to the “Amelia Doll,” merely hinting gently
that even a doll may find friends.


(Preface to “Vanity Fair.”)

By W. M. Thackeray.

As the Manager of the Performance sits before the curtain on the boards,
and looks into the Fair, a feeling of profound melancholy comes over him
in his survey of the bustling place.  There is a great quantity of
eating and drinking, making love and jilting, laughing and the contrary,
smoking, cheating, fighting, dancing, and fiddling: there are bullies
pushing about, bucks ogling the women, knaves picking pockets, policemen
on the lookout, quacks (other quacks, plague take them!) bawling in
front of their booths, and yokels looking up at the tinselled dancers
and poor old rouged tumblers, while the light-fingered folk are
operating upon their pockets behind.  Yes, this is Vanity Fair; not a
moral place certainly; nor a merry one, though very noisy.  Look at the
faces of the actors and buffoons when they come off from their business;
and Tom Fool washing the paint off his cheeks before he sits down to
dinner with his wife and the little Jack Puddings behind the canvas.
The curtain will be up presently, and he will be turning over head and
heels, and crying, “How are you?”

A man with a reflective turn of mind, walking through an exhibition
of this sort, will not be oppressed, I take it, by his own or other
people's hilarity.  An episode of humor or kindness touches and amuses
him here and there,―a pretty child looking at a gingerbread stall;
a pretty girl blushing whilst her lover talks to her and chooses her
fairing; poor Tom Fool, yonder behind the wagon mumbling his bone
with the honest family which lives by his tumbling; but the general
impression is one more melancholy than mirthful.  When you come home,
you sit down, in a sober, contemplative, not uncharitable frame of mind,
and apply yourself to your books or your business.

I have no other moral than this to tag to the present story of “Vanity
Fair.”  Some people consider Fairs immoral altogether, and eschew such,
with their servants and families; very likely they are right.  But persons
who think otherwise, and are of a lazy, or a benevolent, or a sarcastic
mood, may perhaps like to step in for half an hour, and look at the
performances.  There are scenes of all sorts; some dreadful combats,
some grand and lofty horse-riding, some scenes of high life, and some
of very middling indeed; some love-making for the sentimental, and some
light comic business; the whole accompanied by appropriate scenery,
and brilliantly illuminated with the Author's own candles.

What more has the Manager of the Performance to say?―To acknowledge the
kindness with which it has been received in all the principal towns of
England through which the show has passed, and where it has been most
favorably noticed by the respected conductors of the Public Press, and by
the Nobility and Gentry.  He is proud to think that his Puppets have given
satisfaction to the very best company in this empire.  The famous little
Becky Puppet has been pronounced to be uncommonly flexible in the joints,
and lively on the wire: the Amelia Doll, though it has had a smaller
circle of admirers, has yet been carved and dressed with the greatest care
by the artist: the Dobbin Figure, though apparently clumsy, yet dances in
a very amusing and natural manner: the Little Boy's Dance has been liked
by some; and please to remark the richly dressed figure of the Wicked
Nobleman, on which no expense has been spared, and which Old Nick will
fetch away at the end of this singular performance.

And with this, and a profound bow to his patrons, the Manager retires,
and the curtain rises.

London, June 28, 1848.



Matthew Arnold and Ruskin.

The term “criticism” may appropriately be used to designate all writing
in which logic predominates over emotion.  The style of criticism is
the style of argument, exposition, and debate, as well as of literary
analysis; and it is the appropriate style to be used in mathematical
discussions and all scientific essays.

Of course the strictly critical style may be united with almost any other.
We are presenting pure types; but very seldom does it happen that any
composition ordinarily produced belongs to any one pure type.  Criticism
would be dull without the enlivening effects of some appeal to the
emotions.  We shall illustrate this point in a quotation from Ruskin.

The critical style has just one secret: It depends on a very close
definition of work in ordinary use, words do not have a sufficiently
definite meaning for scientific purposes.  Therefore in scientific writing
it is necessary to define them exactly, and so change common words into
technical terms.  To these may be added the great body of words used in
no other way than as technical terms.

Of course our first preparation for criticism is to master the technical
terms and technical uses of words peculiar to the subject we are treating.
Then we must make it clear to the reader that we are using words in their
technical senses so that he will know how to interpret them.

But beyond that we must make technical terms as we go along, by defining
common words very strictly.  This is nicely illustrated by Matthew Arnold,
one of the most accomplished of pure critics.  The opening paragraphs
of the first chapter of “Culture and Anarchy”―the chapter entitled
“Sweetness and Light”―will serve for illustration, and the student is
referred to the complete work for material for further study and imitation.

From “Sweetness and Light.”

The disparagers of culture, [says Mr. Arnold], make its motive
curiosity; sometimes, indeed, they make its motive mere exclusiveness
and vanity.  The culture which is supposed to plume itself on a
smattering of Greek and Latin is a culture which is begotten by nothing
so intellectual as curiosity; it is valued either out of sheer vanity
and ignorance, or else as an engine of social and class distinction,
separating its holder, like a badge or title, from other people who have
not got it.  No serious man would call this _culture,_ or attach any
value to it, as culture, at all.  To find the real ground for the very
different estimate which serious people will set upon culture, we must
find some motive for culture in the terms of which may lie a real
ambiguity; and such a motive the word _curiosity_ gives us.

I have before now pointed out that we English do not, like the
foreigners, use this word in a good sense as well as in a bad sense.
A liberal and intelligent eagerness about the things of the mind may be
meant by a foreigner when he speaks of curiosity, but with us the word
always conveys a certain notion of frivolous and unedifying activity.
In the _Quarterly Review,_ some little time ago, was an estimate of
the celebrated French critic, M. Sainte-Beuve, and a very inadequate
estimate it in my judgment was.  And its inadequacy consisted chiefly
in this: that in our English way it left out of sight the double sense
really involved in the word _curiosity,_ thinking enough was said to
stamp M. Sainte-Beuve with blame if it was said that he was impelled
in his operations as a critic by curiosity, and omitting either to
perceive that M. Sainte-Beuve himself, and many other people with
him, would consider that this was praiseworthy and not blameworthy,
or to point out why it ought really to be accounted worthy of blame
and not of praise.  For as there is a curiosity about intellectual
matters which is futile, and merely a disease, so there is certainly
a curiosity,―a desire after the things of the mind simply for their
own sakes and for the pleasure of seeing them as they are,―which is,
in an intelligent being, natural and laudable.  Nay, and the very desire
to see things as they are implies a balance and regulation of mind which
is not often attained without fruitful effort, and which is the very
opposite of the blind and diseased impulse of mind which is what we mean
to blame when we blame curiosity.  Montesquieu says: ‘The first motive
which ought to impel us to study is the desire to augment the excellence
of our nature, and to render an intelligent being yet more intelligent.’
This is the true ground to assign for the genuine scientific passion,
however manifested, and for culture, viewed simply as a fruit of this
passion; and it is a worthy ground, even though we let the term
_curiosity_ stand to describe it.

Starting with exact definitions of words, it is easy to pass to exact
definitions of ideas, which is the thing we should be aiming at all
the time.  The logical accuracy of our language, however, is apparent

Matthew Arnold does not embellish his criticism, nor does he make any
special appeal to the feelings or emotions of his readers.  Not so Ruskin.
He discovers intellectual emotions, and makes pleasant appeals to those
emotions.  Consequently his criticism has been more popular than Matthew
Arnold's.  As an example of this freer, more varied critical style, let
us cite the opening paragraphs of the lecture “Of Queens' Gardens”——in
“Sesame and Lilies”:

From “Sesame and Lilies.”

It will be well … that I should shortly state to you my general
intention…  The questions specially proposed to you in my former
lecture, namely How and What to Read, rose out of a far deeper one,
which it was my endeavor to make you propose earnestly to yourselves,
namely, Why to Read I want you to feel, with me, that whatever advantage
we possess in the present day in the diffusion of education and of
literature, can only be rightly used by any of us when we have apprehended
clearly what education is to lead to, and literature to teach.  I wish
you to see that both well directed moral training and well chosen reading
lead to the possession of a power over the ill-guided and illiterate,
which is, according to the measure of it, in the truest sense kingly;*
conferring indeed the purest kingship that can exist among men.  Too many
other kingships (however distinguished by visible insignia or material
power) being either spectral, or tyrannous; spectral―that is to say,
aspects and shadows only of royalty, hollow as death, and which only the
“likeness of a kingly crown have on;” or else tyrannous―that is to say,
substituting their own will for the law of justice and love by which all
true kings rule.

 *The preceding lecture was entitled “Of Kings's Treasures.”

There is then, I repeat (and as I want to leave this idea with you, I
begin with it, and shall end with it) only one pure kind of kingship,
―an inevitable or eternal kind, crowned or not,―the kingship, namely,
which consists in a stronger moral state and truer thoughtful state
than that of others, enabling you, therefore, to guide or to raise them.
Observe that word “state” we have got into a loose way of using it.  It
means literally the standing and stability of a thing; and you have the
full force of it in the derived word “statue”―“the immovable thing.”
A king's majesty or “state,” then, and the right of his kingdom to be
called a State, depends on the movelessness of both,―without tremor,
without quiver of balance, established and enthroned upon a foundation
of eternal law which nothing can alter or overthrow.

Believing that all literature and all education are only useful so
far as they tend to confirm this calm, beneficent, and therefore kingly,
power,―first over ourselves, and, through ourselves, over all around
us,―I am now going to ask you to consider with me further, what special
portion or kind of this royal authority, arising out of noble education,
may rightly be possessed by women; and how far they also are called to a
true queenly power,―not in their households merely, but over all within
their sphere.  And in what sense, if they rightly understood and exercised
this royal or gracious influence, the order and beauty induced by such
benignant power would justify us in speaking of the territories over which
each of them reigned as ‘Queens' Gardens.’

Here still is the true critical style, with exact definitions; but the
whole argument is a metaphor, and the object of the criticism is to
rouse feelings that will lead to action.

It will be observed that words which by definition are to be taken in
some sort of technical sense are distinguished to the eye in some way.
Matthew Arnold used italics.  Ruskin first places “state” within quotation
marks, and then, when he uses the word in a still different sense,
he writes it with a capital letter―State.  Capitalization is perhaps
the most common way for designating common words when used in a special
sense which is defined by the writer―or defined by implication.  This is
the explanation of the capital letters with which the writings of Carlyle
are filled.  He constantly endeavors to make words mean more than, or
something different from, the meaning they usually have.

The peculiar embellishments of the critical writer are epigram, paradox,
and satire.  An _epigram_ is a very short phrase or sentence which is
so full of implied meaning or suggestion that it catches the attention
at once, and remains in the memory easily.  The _paradox_ is something
of the same sort on a larger scale.  It is a statement that we can
hardly believe to be true, since it seems at first sight to be
self-contradictory, or to contradict well known truths or laws; but
on examination we find that in a peculiar sense it is strictly true.
_Satire_ is a variation of humor peculiarly adapted to criticism, since
it is intended to make the common idea ridiculous when compared with the
ideas which the critic is trying to bring out: it is a sort of argument
by force of stinging points.  We may find an example of satire in its
perfection in Swift, especially in his “Gulliver's Travels”―since these
are satires the point of which we can appreciate to-day.  Oscar Wilde
was peculiarly given to epigram, and in his plays especially we may find
epigram carried to the same excess that the balanced structure is carried
by Macaulay.  More moderate epigram may be found in Emerson and Carlyle.
Paradox is something that we should use only on special occasion.



Narrative, Description, and Dialogue.


In fiction there are three different kinds of writing which must be blended
with a fine skill, and this fact makes fiction so much the more difficult
than any other sort of writing.  History is largely narrative, pure and
simple, newspaper articles are description, dramas are dialogue, but
fiction must unite in a way peculiar to itself the niceties of all three.

We must take each style separately and master it thoroughly before
trying to combine the three in a work of fiction.  The simplest is
narrative, and consists chiefly in the ability to tell a plain story
straight on to the end, just as in conversation Neighbor Gossip comes
and tells a long story to her friend the Listener.  A writer will gain
this skill if he practise on writing out tales or stories just as nearly
as possible as a child would do it, supposing the child had a sufficient
vocabulary.  Letter-writing, when one is away from home and wishes
to tell his intimate friends all that has happened to him, is practice
of just this sort, and the best practice.

Newspaper articles are more descriptive than any other sort of writing.
You have a description of a new invention, of a great fire, of a
prisoner at the bar of justice.  It is not quite so spontaneous as
narrative.  Children seldom describe, and the newspaper man finds
difficulty in making what seems a very brief tale into a column article
until he can weave description as readily as he breathes.

Dialogue in a story is by no means the same as the dialogue of a play:
it ought rather to be a description of a conversation, and very seldom
is it a full report of what is said on each side.

Description is used in its technical sense to designate the presentation
of a scene without reference to events; narrative is a description
of events as they have happened, a dialogue is a description of
conversation.  Fiction is essentially a descriptive art, and quite
as much is it descriptive in dialogue as in any other part.

The best way to master dialogue as an element by itself is to study the
novels of writers like Dickens, Thackeray, or George Eliot.  Dialogue has
its full development only in the novel, and it is here and not in short
stories that the student of fiction should study it.  The important points
to be noticed are that only characteristic and significant speeches are
reproduced.  When the conversation gives only facts that should be known
to the reader it is thrown into the indirect or narrative form, and
frequently when the impression that a conversation makes is all that
is important, this impression is described in general terms instead of
in a detailed report of the conversation itself.

So much for the three different modes of writing individually
considered.  The important and difficult point comes in the balanced
combination of the three, not in the various parts of the story, but in
each single paragraph.  Henry James in his paper on “The Art of Fiction,”
says very truly that every descriptive passage is at the same time
narrative, and every dialogue is in its essence also descriptive.  The
truth is, the writer of stories has a style of his own, which we may call
the narrative-descriptive-dialogue style, which is a union in one and
the same sentence of all three sorts of writing.  In each sentence, to
be sure, narrative or description or dialogue will predominate; but still
the narrative is always present in the description, and the description
in the dialogue, as Mr. James says; and if you take a paragraph this fact
will appear more clearly, and if you take three or four paragraphs, or a
whole story, the fusion of all three styles in the same words is clearly

It is impossible to give fixed rules for the varying proportion of
description, narration, or dialogue in any given passage.  The writer
must guide himself entirely by the impression in his own mind.  He sees
with his mind's eye a scene and events happening in it.  As he describes
this from point to point he constantly asks himself, what method of
using words will be most effective here?  He keeps the impression always
closely in mind.  He does not wander from it to put in a descriptive
passage or a clever bit of dialogue or a pleasing narrative: he follows
out his description of the impression with faithful accuracy, thinking
only of being true to his own conception, and constantly ransacking his
whole knowledge of language to get the best expression, whatever it may
be.  Now it may be a little descriptive touch, now a sentence or two out
of a conversation, now plain narration of events.  Dialogue is the most
expansive and tiring, and should frequently be relieved by the condensed
narrative, which is simple and easy reading.  Description should seldom
be given in chunks, but rather in touches of a brief and delicate kind,
and with the aim of being suggestive rather than full and detailed.

Humor, and especially good humor, are indispensable to the most
successful works of fiction.  Above all other kinds of writing,
fiction must win the heart of the reader.  And this requires that the
heart of the writer should be tender and sympathetic.  Harsh critics
call this quality sentiment, and even sentimentality.  Dickens had it
above all other writers, and it is probable that this popularity has
never been surpassed.  Scott succeeded by his splendid descriptions, but
no one can deny that he was also one of the biggest hearted men in the
world.  And Thackeray, with all his reserve, had a heart as tender and
sympathetic as was ever borne by so polished a gentleman.

As an almost perfect example of the blending of narrative, description,
and dialogue, all welded into an effective whole by the most delicate
and winning sentiment, we offer the following selection from
Barbox Bros. & Co., in “Mugby Junction.”


By Charles Dickens.

Although he had arrived at his journey's end for the day at noon, he
had since insensibly walked about the town so far and so long that the
lamplighters were now at their work in the streets, and the shops were
sparkling up brilliantly.  Thus reminded to turn towards his quarters,
he was in the act of doing so, when a very little hand crept into his,
and a very little voice said:

“O! If you please, I am lost!”

He looked down, and saw a very little fair-haired girl.

“Yes,” she said, confirming her words with a serious nod.  “I am, indeed.
I am lost.”

Greatly perplexed, he stopped, looked about him for help, descried none,
and said, bending low:

“Where do you live, my child?”

“I don't know where I live,” she returned.  “I am lost.”

“What is your name?”


“What is your other name?”

The reply was prompt, but unintelligible.

Imitating the sound, as he caught it, he hazarded the guess, “Trivits?”

“O no!” said the child, shaking her head.  “Nothing like that.”

“Say it again, little one”

An unpromising business.  For this time it had quite a different sound.

He made the venture: “Paddens?”

“O no!” said the child.  “Nothing like that.”

“Once more.  Let us try it again, dear.”

A most hopeless business.  This time it swelled into four syllables.
“It can't be Tappitarver?”  $ªזđ said Barbox Brothers, rubbing his
head with his hat in discomfiture.

“No! It ain't,” the child quietly assented.

On her trying this unfortunate name once more, with extraordinary
efforts at distinction, it swelled into eight syllables at least.

“Ah! I think,” said Barbox Brothers, with a desperate air of
resignation, “that we had better give it up.”

“But I am lost,” said the child nestling her little hand more closely
in his, “and you'll take care of me, won't you?”

If ever a man were disconcerted by division between compassion on the one
hand, and the very imbecility of irresolution on the other, here the man
was.  “Lost!” he repeated, looking down at the child.  “I am sure I am.
What is to be done!”

“Where do _you_ live?” asked the child, looking up at him wistfully.

“Over there,” he answered, pointing vaguely in the direction of the hotel.

“Hadn't we better go there?” said the child.

“Really,” he replied, “I don't know but what we had.”

So they set off, hand in hand;―he, through comparison of himself
against his little companion, with a clumsy feeling on him as if he had
just developed into a foolish giant;―she, clearly elevated in her own
tiny opinion by having got him so neatly out of his embarrassment.

“We are going to have dinner when we get there, I suppose?” said Polly.

“Well,” he rejoined, “I―yes, I suppose we are.”

“Do you like your dinner?” asked the child.

“Why, on the whole,” said Barbox Brothers, “yes, I think I do.”

“I do mine,” said Polly “Have you any brothers and sisters?”

“No, have you?”

“Mine are dead.”

“O!” said Barbox Brothers.  With that absurd sense of unwieldiness of
mind and body weighing him down, he would not have known how to pursue
the conversation beyond this curt rejoinder, but that the child was
always ready for him.

“What,” she asked, turning her soft hand coaxingly in his, “are you going
to do to amuse me, after dinner?”

“Upon my soul, Polly,” exclaimed Barbox Brothers, very much at a loss,
“I have not the slightest idea!”

“Then I tell you what,” said Polly.  “Have you got any cards at the house?”

“Plenty,” said Barbox Brothers, in a boastful vein.

“Very well.  Then I'll build houses, and you shall look at me.  You
mustn't blow, you know.”

“O no!” said Barbox Brothers.  “No, no, no!  No blowing!  Blowing's
not fair.”

He flattered himself that he had said this pretty well for an idiotic
monster; but the child, instantly perceiving the awkwardness of his
attempt to adapt himself to her level, utterly destroyed his hopeful
opinion of himself by saying, compassionately: “What a funny man you are!”

Feeling, after this melancholy failure, as if he every minute grew
bigger and heavier in person, and weaker in mind, Barbox gave himself
up for a bad job.  No giant ever submitted more meekly to be led in
triumph by all-conquering Jack, than he to be bound in slavery to Polly.

“Do you know any stories?” she asked him.

He was reduced to the humiliating confession:

“What a dunce you must be, mustn't you?” said Polly.

He was reduced to the humiliating confession:

“Would you like me to teach you a story?  But you must remember it,
you know, and be able to tell it right to somebody else afterwards?”

He professed that it would afford him the highest mental gratification
to be taught a story, and that he would humbly endeavor to retain it in
his mind.  Whereupon Polly, giving her hand a new little turn in his,
expressive of settling down for enjoyment, commenced a long romance,
of which every relishing clause began with the words: “So this,” or
“And so this.”  As, “So this boy;” or, “So this fairy;” or “And so this
pie was four yards round, and two yards and a quarter deep.”  The interest
of the romance was derived from the intervention of this fairy to punish
this boy for having a greedy appetite.  To achieve which purpose, this
fairy made this pie, and this boy ate and ate and ate, and his cheeks
swelled and swelled and swelled.  There were many tributary circumstances,
but the forcible interest culminated in the total consumption of this pie,
and the bursting of this boy.  Truly he was a fine sight, Barbox Brothers,
with serious attentive face, an ear bent down, much jostled on the
pavements of the busy town, but afraid of losing a single incident of
the epic, lest he should be examined in it by-and-by and found deficient.

Exercise.  Rewrite this little story, locating the scene in your own
town and describing yourself in the place of Barbox Bros.  Make as few
changes in the wording as possible.



Stephen Crane.

A peculiarly modern style is that in which very short sentences are used
for pungent effect.  If to this characteristic of short sentences we
add a slightly unusual though perfectly obvious use of common words, we
have what has been called the “epigrammatic style,” though it does not
necessarily have any epigrams in it.  It is the modern newspaper and
advertisement writer's method of emphasis; and if it could be used in
moderation, or on occasion, it would be extremely effective.  But to use
it at all times and for all subjects is a vice distinctly to be avoided.

Stephen Crane's “The Red Badge of Courage” is written almost wholly in
this style.  If we read three or four chapters of this story we may see
how tiring it is for the mind to be constantly jerked along.  At the
same time, in a brief advertising booklet probably no other style that
is sufficiently simple and direct would be as likely to attract immediate
attention and hold it for the short time usually required to read an

Crane's style has a literary turn and quality which will not be found
in the epigrammatic advertisement, chiefly because Crane is descriptive,
while the advertiser is merely argumentative.  However, the
advertisement writer will learn the epigrammatic style most surely
and quickly by studying the literary form of it.

From “The Red Badge of Courage.”

The blue haze of evening was upon the field.  The lines of forest were
long purple shadows.  One cloud lay along the western sky partly
smothering the red.

As the youth left the scene behind him, he heard the guns suddenly roar
out.  He imagined them shaking in black rage.  They belched and howled
like brass devils guarding a gate.  The soft air was filled with the
tremendous remonstrance.  With it came the shattering peal of opposing
infantry.  Turning to look behind him, he could see sheets of orange
light illumine the shadowy distance.  There were subtle and sudden
lightnings in the far air.  At times he thought he could see heaving
masses of men.

He hurried on in the dusk.  The day had faded until he could barely
distinguish place for his feet.  The purple darkness was filled with men
who lectured and jabbered.  Sometimes he could see them gesticulating
against the blue and somber sky.  There seemed to be a great ruck of men
and munitions spread about in the forest and in the fields…

His thoughts as he walked fixed intently upon his hurt.  There was a
cool, liquid feeling about it and he imagined blood moving slowly down
under his hair.  His head seemed swollen to a size that made him think
his neck to be inadequate.

The new silence of his wound made much worriment.  The little blistering
voices of pain that had called out from his scalp were, he thought,
definite in their expression of danger.  By them he believed that he could
measure his plight.  But when they remained ominously silent he became
frightened and imagined terrible fingers that clutched into his brain.

Amid it he began to reflect upon various incidents and conditions of the
past.  He bethought him of certain meals his mother had cooked at home,
in which those dishes of which he was particularly fond had occupied
prominent positions.  He saw the spread table.  The pine walls of
the kitchen were glowing in the warm light from the stove.  Too, he
remembered how he and his companions used to go from the school-house
to the bank of a shaded pool.  He saw his clothes in disorderly array
upon the grass of the bank.  He felt the swash of the fragrant water
upon his body.  The leaves of the overhanging maple rustled with melody
in the wind of youthful summer.


After reading this passage over a dozen times very slowly and carefully,
and copying it phrase by phrase, continue the narrative in Crane's style
through two more paragraphs, bringing the story of this day's doing to
some natural conclusion.



The Bible, Franklin, Lincoln.

We have all heard that the simplest style is the strongest; and no doubt
most of us have wondered how this could be, as we turned over in our
minds examples of what seemed to us simplicity, comparing them with the
rhetorical, the lofty, and the sublime passages we could call to mind.

Precisely this wonder was in the minds of a number of very well
educated people who gathered to attend the dedicatory exercises of the
Gettysburg monument, and Abraham Lincoln gave them one of the very finest
illustrations in the whole range of the world's history, of how simplicity
can be stronger than rhetoric.  Edward Everett was the orator of the day,
and he delivered a most polished and brilliant oration.  When he sat down
the friends of Lincoln regretted that this homely countryman was to be
asked to “say a few words,” since they felt that whatever he might say
would be a decided anticlimax.  The few words that he did utter are the
immortal “Gettysburg speech,” by far the shortest great oration on record.
Edward Everett afterward remarked, “I wish I could have produced in two
hours the effect that Lincoln produced in two minutes.”  The tremendous
effect of that speech could have been produced in no other way than by the
power of simplicity, which permits the compression of more thought into a
few words than any other style-form.  All rhetoric is more or less windy.
The quality of a simple style is that in order to be anything at all it
must be solid metal all the way through.

The Bible, the greatest literary production in the world as atheists and
Christians alike admit, is our supreme example of the wonderful power
of simplicity, and it more than any other one book has served to mould
the style of great writers.  To take a purely literary passage, what could
be more affecting, yet more simple, than these words from Ecclesiastes?

From “Ecclesiastes.”

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days
come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no
pleasure in them; while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the
stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day
when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall
bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those
that look out of the windows be darkened; and the doors shall be shut
in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise
up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be
brought low; also when they shall be afraid of that which is high,
and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and
the grasshoppers shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man
goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever
the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher
be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.  Then shall
the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto
God who gave it.

This is the sort of barbaric poetry that man in his natural and original
state might be supposed to utter.  It lacks the nice logic and fine
polish of Greek culture; indeed its grammar is somewhat confused.  But
there is a higher logic than the logic of grammar, namely the logic of
life and suffering.  The man who wrote this passage had put a year of
his existence into every phrase; and that is why it happens that we can
find here more phrases quoted by everybody than we can even in the best
passage of similar length in Shakspere or any other modern writer.

We see in proverbs how by the power of simplicity an enormous amount of
thought can be packed into a single line.  Some of these have taken
thousands of years to grow; and because so much time is required in the
making of them, our facile modern writers never produce any.  Their
fleeting epigrams appear to be spurious coin the moment they are
placed side by side with Franklin's epigrams, for instance.  Franklin
worked his proverbs into the vacant spaces in his almanac during a
period of twenty-five years, and then collected all those proverbs
into a short paper entitled, “The Way to Wealth.”  It may be added,
also, that he did not even originate most of these sayings, but only
gave a new stamp to what he found in Hindu and Arabic records.  For all
that, Poor Richard's Almanac is more likely to become immortal than even
Franklin's own name and fame.

The history of Bacon's essays is another fine example of what simplicity
can effect in the way of greatness.  These essays were originally
nothing more than single sentences jotted down in a notebook, probably
as an aid to conversation.  How many times they were worked over we have
no means of knowing; but we have three printed editions of the essays,
each of which is immensely developed from what went before.

In reading the following lines from Franklin, let us reflect that not
less than a year went to the writing of every phrase that can be called
great; and that if we could spend a year in writing a single sentence,
it might be as well worth preserving as these proverbs.  Some men have
been made famous by one sentence, usually because it somehow expressed
the substance of a lifetime.

From “Poor Richard's Almanac.”

Father Abraham stood up and replied, “If you would have my advice, I will
give it you in short; _for a word to the wise is enough, and essay words
won't fill a bushel,_ as POOR RICHARD says.”

They all joined him and desired him to speak his mind; and gathering them
around him, he proceeded as follows:

Friends, says he, and neighbors! The taxes are indeed very heavy; and if
those laid on by the Government were the only ones we had to pay, we might
the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more
grievous to some of us.  We are taxed twice as much by our idleness,
three times as much by our Pride, and four times as much by our Folly;
and from these taxes the Commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by
allowing an abatement.  However, let us hearken to good advice, and
something may be done for us, _God helps them that helps themselves,_ as
POOR RICHARD says in his _Almanac_ of 1733.  It would be thought a hard
government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be
employed in its service.  But idleness taxes many of us much more; if we
reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing; with that
which is spent in idle employments or amusements that amounts to nothing.
Sloth, by bringing on disease, absolutely shortens life.  Sloth,
_like Rust, consumes faster than Labor_ wean; while _the used keg
is always bright,_ as POOR RICHARD says.  _But dost thou love Life?
Then do_ not _squander time_! for _that's the stuff Life is made of,_

How much more time than is necessary do we spend in sleep? forgetting that
the _sleeping fox catches no poultry;_ and that _there will be sleeping
enough in the grave, as_ POOR RICHARD says.

If Time be of all things the most precious, wasting _of Time must be_
(as POOR RICHARD says) _the greatest prodigality;_ and since, as he
elsewhere tells us, _Lost time is never found again;_ and _what we_ call
Time enough! always proves little enough, let us then up and be doing,
and doing to the purpose:  so, by diligence, shall we do more with less
perplexity.  _Sloth makes all things difficult, but Industry all things
easy,_ as POOR RICHARD says: and _He_ that _riseth late, must trot all
day; and shall scarce overtake his business at night.  While Laziness
travels so slowly, that Poverty soon over-takes him, as we read in_ POOR
RICHARD who adds, _Drive thy business!  Let not that drive thee_!  and
     _Early to bed and early to rise,
     Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise_.

As Franklin extracted these sayings one by one out of the Arabic and
other sources, in each case giving the phrases a new turn, and as Bacon
jotted down in his notebook every witty word he heard, so we will make
reputations for ourselves if we are always picking up the good things
of others and using them whenever we can.


By Abraham Lincoln.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a
great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived
and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met on a great battlefield
of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a
final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation
might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot
hallow this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here,
have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.  The
world will little note, nor long remember, what we, say here, but it can
never forget what they did here.  It is for us, the living, rather to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have
thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to
the great task remaining before us,―that from these honored dead we take
increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure
of devotion,―that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have
died in vain,―that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
freedom,―and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.



Irving and Hawthorne.

A work of literary art is like a piece of music: one false note makes a
discord that spoils the effect of the whole.  But it is useless to give
rules for writing an harmonious style.  When one sits down to write he
should give his whole thought and energy to expressing himself forcibly
and with the vital glow of an overpowering interest.  An interesting
thought expressed with force and suggestiveness is worth volumes of
commonplaces couched in the most faultless language.  The writer should
never hesitate in choosing between perfectness of language and vigor.
On the first writing verbal perfection should be sacrificed without a
moment's hesitation.  But when a story or essay has once been written,
the writer will turn his attention to those small details of style.
He must harmonize his language.  He must polish.  It is one of the most
tedious processes in literature, and to the novice the most difficult on
which to make a beginning.  Yet there is nothing more surely a matter of
labor _and_ not of genius.  It is for this that one masters grammar and
rhetoric, and studies the individual uses of words.  Carried to an extreme
it is fatal to vitality of style.  But human nature is more often prone to
shirk, and this is the thing that is passed over from laziness.  If you
find one who declaims against the utmost care in verbal polish, you will
find a lazy man.

The beginner, however, rarely knows how to set to work, and this chapter
is intended to give some practical hints.  We assume that the student
knows perfectly well what good grammar is, as well as the leading
principles of rhetoric, and could easily correct his faults in these
if he should see them.  There are several distinct classes of errors to
look for: faults of grammar, such as the mixing of modes and tenses, and
the agreement of verbs and particles in number when collective nouns are
referred to; faults of rhetoric, such as the mixing of figures of speech;
faults of taste, such as the use of words with a disagreeable or misleading
atmosphere about them, though their strict meaning makes their use correct
enough; faults of repetition of the same word in differing senses in
the same sentence or paragraph; faults of tediousness of phrasing or
explanation; faults of lack of clearness in expressing the exact meaning;
faults of sentimental use of language, that is, falling into fine phrases
which have no distinct meaning―the most discordant fault of all; faults of
digression in the structure of the composition.

This list is comprehensive of the chief points to look for in verbal
revision.  Faults of grammar need no explanation here.  But we would say,
Beware.  The most skilled writers are almost constantly falling into errors
of this kind, for they are the most subtle and elusive of all, verbal
failings.  There is, indeed, but one certain way to be sure that they are
all removed, and that is by parsing every word by grammatical formula it
is a somewhat tedious method, but by practice one may weigh each word with
rapidity, and it is only by considering each word alone that one may be
sure that nothing is passed over.  In the same way each phrase or sentence,
or figure of speech, should be weighed separately, for its rhetorical

Faults of taste are detected by a much more delicate process than the
application of formulæ, but they almost invariably arise (if ones native
sense is keen) from the use of a word in a perfectly legitimate and pure
sense, when the public attaches to it an atmosphere (let us call it) which
is vulgar or disagreeable.  In such cases the word should be sacrificed,
for the atmosphere of a word carries a hundred times more weight with the
common reader than the strict and logical meaning.  For instance, the word
_mellow_ is applied to over-ripe fruit, and to light of a peculiarly soft
quality, if one is writing for a class of people who are familiar with
the poets, it is proper enough to use the word in its poetic sense; but
if the majority of the readers of one's work always associate _mellow_
with over-ripe fruit, to use it in its poetic sense would be disastrous.

The repetition of the same word many times in succeeding phrases is a
figure of speech much used by certain recognized writers, and is a most
valuable one.  Nor should one be afraid of repetition whenever clearness
makes it necessary.  But the repetition of the same word in differing
senses in adjoining phrases is a fault to be strictly guarded against.
The writer was himself once guilty of perpetrating the following
abomination: “The _form_ which represented her, though idealized
somewhat, is an actual likeness elevated by the force of the sculptor's
love into a _form_ of surpassing beauty.  It is her _form_ reclining on
a couch, only a soft, thin drapery covering her transparent _form,_ her
head slightly raised and turned to one side, and having concentrated in
its form and posture the height of the whole figure's beauty.”  Careful
examination will show that form, used five times in this paragraph,
has at least three very slightly differing meanings, a fact which
greatly adds to the objectionableness of the recurrence of the sound.

A writer who has a high regard for accuracy and completeness of
expression is very liable to fall into tediousness in his explanations,
he realizes that he is tedious, but he asks, “How can I say what I have
to say without being tedious?”  Tediousness means that what is said is
not worth saying at all, or that it can be said in fewer words.  The best
method of condensation is the use of some pregnant phrase or comparison
which rapidly suggests the meaning without actually stating it.  The art
of using suggestive phrases is the secret of condensation.

But in the rapid telling of a story or description of a scene, perhaps
no fault is so surely fatal as a momentary lapse into meaningless fine
phrases, or sentimentality.  In writing a vivid description the author
finds his pen moving even after he has finished putting down every
significant detail.  He is not for the moment sure that he has finished,
and thinks that to complete the picture, to “round it up,” a few general
phrases are necessary.  But when he re-reads what he has written, he sees
that it fails, for some unknown reason, of the power of effect on which
he had counted.  His glowing description seems tawdry, or overwrought.
He knows that it is not possible that the whole is bad:

But where is the difficulty?

Almost invariably the trouble will be found to be in some false phrase,
for one alone is enough to spoil a whole production.  It is as if a
single flat or sharp note is introduced into a symphony, producing a
discord which rings through the mind during the whole performance.

To detect the fault, go over the work with the utmost care, weighing
each item of the description, and asking the question, Is that an
absolutely necessary and true element of the picture I had in mind?
Nine times out of ten the writer will discover some sentence or phrase
which may be called a “glittering generality,” or that is a weak
repetition of what has already been well said, or that is simply “fine”
language―sentimentality of some sort.  Let him ruthlessly cut away
that paragraph, sentence, or phrase, and then re-read.  It is almost
startling to observe how the removal or addition of a single phrase
will change the effect of a description covering many pages.

But often a long composition will lack harmony of structure, a fault
very different from any we have mentioned, Hitherto we have spoken of
definite faults that must be cut out.  It is as often necessary to make

In the first place, each paragraph must be balanced within itself.  The
language must be fluent and varied, and each thought or suggestion must
flow easily and smoothly into the next, unless abruptness is used for a
definite purpose.  Likewise each successive stage of a description or
dialogue must have its relative as well as its intrinsic value.  The
writer must study carefully the proportions of the parts, and nicely
adjust and harmonize each to the other.  Every paragraph, every sentence,
every phrase and word, should have its own distinct and clear meaning,
and the writer should never allow himself to be in doubt as to the need
or value of this or that.

To secure harmony of style and structure is a matter of personal
judgment and study.  Though rules for it cannot be given, it will be
found to be a natural result of following all the principles of grammar,
rhetoric, and composition.  But the hard work involved in securing this
proportion and harmony of structure can never be avoided or evaded without
disastrous consequences.  Toil, toil, toil!  That should be every writer's
motto if he aspires to success, even in the simplest forms of writing.

The ambitious writer will not learn harmony of style from any single
short selection, however perfect such a composition may be in itself.
It requires persistent reading, as well as very thoughtful reading,
of the masters of perfect style.  Two such masters are especially to be
recommended,―Irving and Hawthorne.  And among their works, the best
for such study are “The Sketchbook,” especially Rip Van Winkle and
Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Irving, and “The Scarlet Letter” and such
short stories as “The Great Stone Face,” by Hawthorne.  To these may be
added Thackeray's “Vanity Fair,” Scott's “Ivanhoe,” and Lamb's “Essays
of Elia.”  These books should be read and re-read many times; and
whenever any composition is to be tested, it may conveniently be
compared as to style to some part of one or other of these books.

In conclusion we would say that the study of too many masterpieces is
an error.  It means that none of them are fully absorbed or mastered.
The selections here given,* together with the volumes recommended above,
may of course be judiciously supplemented if occasion requires; but as a
rule, these will be found ample.  Each type should be studied and mastered,
one type after another.  It would be a mistake to omit any one, even if it
is a type that does not particularly interest the student, and is one he
thinks he will never wish to use in its purity: mastery of it will enrich
any other style that may be chosen: If it is found useful for shaping no
more than a single sentence, it is to be remembered that that sentence may
shape the destinies of a life.

 *A fuller collection of the masterpieces of style than the present
volume contains may be found in “The Best English Essays,” edited by
Sherwin Cody.



So far we have given our attention to style, the effective use of words.

We will now consider some of those general principles of thought end
expression which are essential to distinctively literary composition;
and first the relation between imagination and reality, or actuality.

In real life a thousand currents cross each other, and counter cross,
and cross again.  Life is a maze of endless continuity, to which,
nevertheless, we desire to find some key.  Literature offers us a
picture of life to which there is a key, and by some analogy it suggests
explanations of real life.  It is of far more value to be true to the
principles of life than to the outer facts.  The outer facts are
fragmentary and uncertain, mere passing suggestions, signs in the
darkness.  The principles of life are a clew of thread which may guide
the human judgment through many dark and difficult places.  It is to
these that the artistic writer must be true.

In the real incident the writer sees an idea which he thinks may
illustrate a principle he knows of.  The observed fact must illustrate
the principle, but he must shape it to that end.  A carver takes a block
of wood and sets out to make a vase.  First he cuts away all the useless
parts: The writer should reject all the useless facts connected with his
story and reserve only what illustrates his idea.  Often, however, the
carver finds his block of wood too small, or imperfect.  Perfect blocks
of wood are rare, and so are perfect stories in real life.  The carver
cuts out the imperfect part and fits in a new piece of wood.  Perhaps
the whole base of his vase must be made of another piece and screwed on.

It is quite usual that the whole setting of a story must come from
another source.  One has observed life in a thousand different phases,
just as a carver has accumulated about him scores of different pieces
of wood varying in shape and size to suit almost any possible need.
When a carver makes a vase he takes one block for the main portion,
the starting point in his work, and builds up the rest from that.
The writer takes one real incident as the chief one, and perfects it
artistically by adding dozens of other incidents that he has observed.
The writer creates only in the sense that the wood carver creates his
vase.  He does not create ideas cut of nothing, any more than the carver
creates the separate blocks of wood.  The writer may coin his own soul
into substance for his stories, but creating out of one's mind and
creating out of nothing are two very different things.  The writer
observes himself, notices how his mind works, how it behaves under given
circumstances, and that gives him material exactly the same in kind as
that which he gains from observing the working of other people's mind.

But the carver in fashioning a vase thinks of the effect it will produce
when it is finished, on the mind of his customer or on the mind of any
person who appreciates beauty; and his whole end and aim is for this
result.  He cuts out what he thinks will hinder, and puts in what he
thinks will help.  He certainly does a great deal more than present
polished specimens of the various kinds of woods he has collected.  The
creative writer―who intends to do something more than present polished
specimens of real life―must work on the same plan.  He must write for
his realer, for his audience.

But just what is it to write for an audience?  The essential element in
it is some message a somebody.  A message is of no value unless it is
to somebody in particular.  Shouting messages into the air when you do
not know whether any one is at hand to hear would be equally foolish
whether a writer gave forth his message of inspiration in that way, or
a telegraph boy shouted his message in front of the telegraph off{i}ce
in the hope that the man to whom the message was addressed might be
passing, or that some of him friends might overhear it.

The newspaper reporter goes to see a fire, finds out all about it, writes
it up, and sends it to his paper.  The paper prints it for the readers,
who are anxious to know what the fire was and the damage it did.  The
reporter does not write it up in the spirit of doing it for the pleasure
there is in nor does he allow himself to do it in the manner his mood
dictates.  He writes so that certain people will get certain facts and
ideas.  The facts he had nothing to do with creating, nor did he make the
desire of the people.  He was simply a messenger, a purveyor.

The producer of literature, we have said, must write for an audience; but
he does not go and hunt up his audience, find out its needs, and then tell
to it his story.  He simple writes for the audience that he knows, which
others have prepared for him.  To know human life, to know what people
really need, is work for a genius.  It resembles the building up of a
daily paper, with its patronage and its study of the public pulse.  But
the reporter has little or nothing to do with that.  Likewise the ordinary
writer should not trouble himself about so large a problem, at least until
he has mastered the simpler ones.  Writing for an audience if one wants to
get printed in a certain magazine is writing those things which one finds
by experience the readers of that magazine, as represented in the editor,
want to read.  Or one may write with his mind on those readers of the
magazine whom he knows personally.  The essential point is that the
effective writer must cease to think of himself when he begins to write,
and turn his mental vision steadily upon the likes or needs of his possible
readers, selecting some definite reader in particular if need be.  At any
rate, he must not write vaguely for people he does not know.  If he please
these he does know, he may also please many he does not know.  The best he
can do is to take the audience he thoroughly understands, though it be an
audience of one, and write for that audience something that will be of
value, in the way of amusement or information or inspiration.



We have seen how a real incident is worked over into the fundamental
idea for a composition.  The same principle ought to hold in the use
of real persons in making the characters in, a novel, or any story
where character-drawing is an important item.  In a novel especially,
the characters must be drawn with the greatest care.  They must be made
genuine personages.  Yet the ill-taste of “putting your friends into a
story” is only less pronounced than the bad art or drawing characters
purely out of the imagination.  There is no art in the slavish copying
of persons in real life.  Yet it is practically impossible to create
genuine characters in the mind without reference to real life.  The
simple solution would seem to be to follow the method of the painter
who uses models, though in so doing he does not make portraits.  There
was a time in drawing when the school of “out-of-the-headers” prevailed,
but their work was often grotesque, imperfect, and sometimes utterly
futile in expressing even the idea the artist had in mind.  The opposite
extreme in graphic art is photography.  The rational use of models is the
happy mean between the two.  But the good artist always draws with his eye
on the object, and the good writer should write with his eye on a definite
conception or some real thing or person, from which he varies consciously
and for artistic purpose.

The ordinary observer sees first the peculiarities of a thing.  If he
is looking at an old gentleman he sees a fly sitting upon the bald spot
on his head, a wart on his nose, his collar pulled up behind.  But the
trained and artistic observer sees the peculiarly perfect outline of the
old man's features and form, and in the tottering, gait bent shoulders,
and soiled senility a straight, handsome youth, fastidious in his dress
and perfect in his form.  Such the old man was once, and all the elements
of his broken youth are clearly visible under the hapless veneer of
time for the one who has an eye to see.  This is but one illustration
of many that might be offered.  A poor shop girl may have the bearing of
a princess.  Among New York illustrators the typical model for a society
girl is a young woman of the most ordinary birth and breeding, misfortunes
which are clearly visible in her personal appearance.  But she has the
bearing, the air of the social queen, and to the artist she is that alone.
He does not see the veneer of circumstances, though the real society girl
would see nothing else in her humble artistic rival.

In drawing characters the writer has a much larger range of models from
which to choose, in one sense.  His models are the people he knows by
personal association day by day during various periods of his life,
from childhood up.  Each person he has known has left an impression on
his mind, and that impression is the thing he considers.  The art of
painting requires the actual presence in physical person of the model,
a limitation the writer fortunately does not have.  At the same time,
the artist of the brush can seek new models and bring them into his
studio without taking too much time or greatly inconveniencing himself.
The writer can get new models only by changing his whole mode of life.
Travel is an excellent thing, yet practically it proves inadequate.
The fleeting impressions do not remain, and only what remains steadily
and permanently in the mind can be used as a model by the novelist.

But during a lifetime one accumulates a large number of models simply
by habitually observing everything that comes in one's way.  When the
writer takes up {the} pen to produce a story, he searches through his
mental collection for a suitable model.  Sometimes it is necessary
to use several models in drawing the same character, one for this
characteristic, and another for that.  But in writing the novelist
should have his eye on his model just as steadily and persistently as
the painter, for so alone can he catch the spirit and inner truth of
nature; and art.  If it is anything, is the interpretation of nature.
The ideal character must be made the interpretation of the real
one, not a photographic copy, not idealization or glorification or
caricature, unless the idealization or glorification or caricature
has a definite value in the interpretation.



In all effective writing contrast is far more than a figure of speech:
it is an essential element in making strength.  A work of literary art
without contrast may have all the elements of construction, style, and
originality of idea, but it will be weak, narrow, limp.  The truth is,
contrast is the measure of the breadth of one's observation.  We often
think of it as a figure of speech, a method of language which we use
for effect.  A better view of it is as a measure of breadth.  You have
a dark, wicked man on one side, and a fair, sunny, sweet woman on
the other.  These are two extremes, a contrast, and they include all
between.  If a writer understands these extremes he understands all
between, and if in a story he sets up one type against another he in
a way marks out those extremes as the boundaries of his intellectual
field, and he claims all within them.  If the contrast is great, he
claims a great field; if feeble, then he has only a narrow field.

Contrast and one's power of mastering it indicate one's breadth of
thought and especially the breadth of one's thinking in a particular
creative attempt.  Every writer should strive for the greatest possible
breadth, for the greater his breadth the more people there are who will
be interested in his work.  Narrow minds interest a few people, and
broad minds interest correspondingly many.  The best way to cultivate
breadth is to cultivate the use of contrast in your writing.

But to assume a breadth which one does not have, to pass from one
extreme to another without perfect mastery of all that lies between,
results in being ridiculous.  It is like trying to extend the range
of the voice too far.  One desires a voice with the greatest possible
range; but if in forcing the voice up one breaks into a falsetto,
the effect is disastrous.  So in seeking range of character expression
one must be very careful not to break into a falsetto, while straining
the true voice to its utmost in order to extend its range.

Let us now pass from the contrast of characters and situations of
the most general kind to contrasts of a more particular sort.  Let us
consider the use of language first.  Light conversation must not last
too long or it becomes monotonous, as we all know.  But if the writer
can pass sometimes rapidly from tight conversation to serious narrative,
both the light dialogue and the serious seem the more expressive for
the contrast.  The only thing to be considered is, can you do it with
perfect ease and grace?  If you cannot, better let it alone.  Likewise,
the long sentence may be used in one paragraph, and a fine contrast shown
by using very short sentences in the next.

But let us distinguish between variety and contrast.  The writer may pass
from long sentences to short ones when the reader has tired of long ones,
and _vice versa,_ he may pass from a tragic character to a comic one in
order to rest the mind of the reader.  In this there will be no very
decided contrast.  But when the two extremes are brought close together,
are forced together perhaps, then we have an electric effect.  To use
contrast well requires great skill in the handling of language, for
contrast means passing from one extreme to another in a very short space,
and if this, passing is not done gracefully, the whole effect is spoiled.

What has been said of contrast in language, character, etc., may also
be applied to contrasts in any small detail, incident, or even simile.
Let us examine a few of the contrasts in Maupassant, for he is a great
adept in their use.

Let us take the opening paragraph of “The Necklace” and see what a
marvel of contrast it is: “She was one of those pretty and charming
girls who are sometimes, as if by a mistake of destiny, born in a family
of clerks.  She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of being known,
understood, loved, wedded, by any rich and distinguished man; and she
had let herself be married to a little clerk in the Ministry of Public
Instruction.”  Notice “pretty and charming”― “family of clerks.”  These
two contrasted ideas (implied ideas, of course) are gracefully linked by
“as if by a mistake of destiny.”  Then the author goes on to mention what
the girl did not have in a way that implies that she ought to have had
all these things.  She could not be wedded to “any rich and distinguished
man”; “she let herself be married to a little clerk.”

The whole of the following description of Madam Loisel is one mass of
clever contrasts of the things she might have been, wanted to be, with
what she was and had.  A little farther on, however, we get a different
sort of contrast.  Though poor, she has a rich friend.  Then her husband
brings home an invitation at which he is perfectly delighted.  Immediately
she is shown wretched, a striking contrast.  He is shown patient; she is
irritated.  She is selfish in wishing a dress and finery; he is unselfish
in giving up his gun and the shooting.

With the ball the author gives us a description of Madam Loisel having
all she had dreamed of having.  Her hopes are satisfied completely, it
appears, until suddenly, when she is about to go away, the fact of her
lack of wraps contrasts tellingly with her previous attractiveness.
These two little descriptions―one of the success of the ball, one of
hurrying away in shame, the wretched cab and all―are a most forcible
contrast, and most skilfully and naturally represented.  The previous
happiness is further set into relief by the utter wretchedness she
experiences upon discovering the loss of the necklace.

Then we have her new life of hard work, which we contrast in mind not only
with what she had really been having, but with that which she had dreamed
of having, had seemed about to realize, and had suddenly lost for ever.

Then at last we have the contrast, elaborate, strongly drawn and telling,
between Madam Loisel after ten years and her friend, who represents in
flesh and blood what she might have been.  Then at the end comes the short,
sharp contrast of paste and diamonds.

In using contrast one does not have to search for something to set up
against something else.  Every situation has a certain breadth, it has
two sides, whether they are far apart or near together.  To give the
real effect of a conception it is necessary to pass from one side to
the other very rapidly and frequently, for only in so doing can one keep
the whole situation in mind.  One must see the whole story, both sides
and all in between, at the same time.  The more one sees at the same
time, the more of life one grasps and the more invigorating is the
composition.  The use of contrast is eminently a matter of acquired
skill, and when one has become skilful he uses contrast unconsciously
and with the same effort that he makes his choice of words.


Errors in the Use of Words.

_All of_.  Omit the _of_.

_Aggravate_.  Does not mean _provoke_ or _irritate_.

_Among one another_.  This phrase is illogical.

_And who_.  Omit the _and_ unless there is a preceding _who_ to which
this is an addition.

_Another from_.  Should be _another then_.

_Anyhow,_ meaning _at any rate,_ is not to be used in literary composition.

_Any place_.  Incorrect for _anywhere_.

_At_.  We live _at_ a small place, _in_ a large one, and usually _arrive
at,_ not _in_.

_Avocation_.  Not to be confused with _vocation,_ a main calling, since
_avocation_ is a side calling.

_Awful_ does not mean _very_.

_Back out_.  An Americanism for _withdraw_.

_Balance_.  Not proper for _remainder,_ but only for _that which
makes equal_.

_Beginner_.  Never say _new beginner_.

_Beside; besides_.  The first means _by the side of,_ the second _in
addition to_.

_Be that as it will_.  Say, _be that as it may_.

_Blame on_.  We may lay the _blame on,_ but we cannot _blame it on_
any one.

_But what_.  Should be _but that_.

_Calculate_.  Do not use for _intend_.

_Can_.  Do not use for _may_.  “_May_ I go with you?”  not “_Can_ I go
with you?”

_Clever_.  Does not mean _good-natured,_ but _talented_.

_Demean_.  Means to _behave,_ not to _debase_ or _degrade_.

_Disremember_.  Now obsolete.

_Don't_.  Not to be used for _doesn't,_ after a singular subject
such as he.

_Else_.  Not follow by _but_; say, “nothing else _than_ pride.”

_Expect_.  Do not use for _think,_ as in “I _expect_ it is so.”

_Fetch_.  Means to _go and bring,_ hence _go and fetch_ is wrong.

_Fix_.  Not used for _arrange_ or the like, as “fix the furniture.”

_From_.  Say, “He died of cholera,” not _from_.

_Got_.  Properly you “have _got_” what you made an effort to get, not what
you merely “have.”

_Graduate_.  Say, “The man _is graduated_ from college,” and “The college
_graduates_ the man.”

_Had ought.  Ought_ never requires any part of the verb _to have_.

_Had rather, had better_.  Disputed, but used by good writers.

_Handy_.  Does not mean near _by_.

_In so far as_.  Omit the _in_.

_Kind of_.  After these two words omit _a,_ and say, “What kind of man,”
not “What kind of _a_ man.”  Also, do not say, “_kind_ of tired.”

_Lady_.  Feminine for _lord,_ therefore do not speak of a “sales-lady,”
“a man and his lady,” etc.

_Last; latter_.  We say _latter_ of two, in preference to _last;_ but
_last_ of three.

_Lay; lie_.  We _lay_ a thing down, but we ourselves _lie_ down; we say,
“He laid the Bible on the table,” but “He lay down on the couch;” “The
coat has been laid away,” and “It has lain in the drawer.”  _Lay, laid,
laid_——takes an object; _lie, lay, lain_——does not.

_Learn_.  Never used as an active verb with an object, a in “I _learned_
him his letters.”  We say, “He _learned_ his letters,” and “I _taught_
him his letters.”

_Learned_.  “A _learned_ man”——pronounce _learn-ed_ with two syllables;
but “He has _learned_ his lesson”——one syllable.

_Like_.  Do not say, “Do _like_ I do.”  Use _as_ when a conjunction is

_Lives_.  Do not say, “I had just as _lives_ as not,” but “I had just
as _Lief_.”

_Lot_.  Does not mean _many,_ as in “a _lot_ of men,” but one _division,_
as, “in that lot.”

_Lovely_.  Do not overwork this word.  A rose may be _lovely,_ but hardly
a plate of soup.

_Mad_.  We prefer to say _angry_ if we mean out _of temper_.

_Mistaken_.  Some critics insist that it is wrong to say “I am mistaken”
when we mean “I mistake.”

_Love_.  We _like_ candy rather than _love_ it.  Save Love for something

_Most_.  In writing, do not use _'most_ for _almost_.

_Mutual friend_.  Though Dickens used this expression in one of his
titles in the sense of common _friend,_ it is considered incorrect by
many critics.  The proper meaning of _mutual_ is reciprocal.

_Nothing Like_.  Do not say, “Nothing _like_ as handsome.”

_Of all others_.  Not proper after a superlative; as, “greatest of all
others,” the meaning being “the greatest of all,” or “great above all

_Only_.  Be careful not to place this word so that its application
will be doubtful, as in “His mother only spoke to him,” meaning “Only
his mother.”

_On to_.  Not one word like _into_.  Use it as you would on and to

_Orate_.  Not good usage.

_Plenty_.  Say, “Fruit was plentiful,” not “plenty.”

_Preventative_.  Should be _preventive_.

_Previous_.  Say, “previously to,” not “previous to.”  Also, do not say,
“He was too previous”——it is a pure vulgarism.

_Providing_.  Say, “_Provided_ he has money,” not “Providing.”

_Propose_.  Do not confuse with _purpose_.  One proposes a plan, but
_purposes_ to do something, though it is also possible a _propose,_
or make a proposition, to do something.

_Quite_.  Do not say, “Quite a way,” or “Quite a good deal,” but reserve
the word for such phrases as “Quite sure,” “Quite to the edge,” etc.

_Raise; rise_.  Never tell a person to “raise up,” meaning “raise himself
up,” but to “rise up.”  Also, do not speak of “raising children,” though
we may “raise horses.”

_Scarcely_.  Do not say, “I shall scarcely (hardly) finish before night,”
though it is proper to use it of time, as in “I saw him scarcely an
hour ago.”

_Seldom or ever_.  Incorrect for “seldom if ever.”

_Set; sit_.  We _set_ the cup down, and sit down ourselves.  The hen
_sits;_ the sun _sets_; a dress _sits_.

_Sewerage; sewage_.  The first means the system of sewers, the second
the waste matter.

_Some_.  Do not say, “I am _some_ tired,” “I like it _some,_” etc.

_Stop_.  Say, “Stay in town,” not “_Stop in town_.”

_Such another_.  Say “another such.”

_They_.  Do not refer to _any one,_ by _they, their,_ or _them;_ as in
“If any one wishes a cup of tea, they may get it in the next room.”  Say,
“If any one … he may …”

_Transpire_.  Does not mean “occur,” and hence we do not say “Many events
transpired that year.”  We may say, “It transpired that he had been
married a year.”

_Unique_.  The word means _single, alone, the only one_ so we cannot say,
“very unique,” or the like.

_Very_.  Say, “_very_ much pleased,” not “_very_ pleased,” though the
latter usage is sustained by some authorities.

_Ways_.  Say, “a long _way,_” not “a long _ways_.”

_Where_.  A preposition of place is not required with where, and it is
considered incorrect to say, “Where is he gone to?”

_Whole of_.  Omit the _of_.

_Without_.  Do not say, “Without it rains,” etc., in the sense of unless,

_Witness_.  Do not say, “He witnessed a bull-fight”; reserve it for
“witnessing a signature,” and the like.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Art Of Writing & Speaking The English Language - Word-Study and Composition & Rhetoric" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.