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Title: A First Book in Writing English
Author: Lewis, Edwin Herbert
Language: English
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[Illustration: The MM Co.]

                              A FIRST BOOK
                             WRITING ENGLISH

                       EDWIN HERBERT LEWIS, PH.D.

                                New York
                          THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                      LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.

                          _All rights reserved_

                            COPYRIGHT, 1897,
                        BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

                              Norwood Press
                   J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith
                          Norwood Mass. U.S.A.


It sometimes happens that the study of the principles of composition is
left until the overcrowded last year of the high school, under the plea
that facts ought to precede generalizations. Is it not better to have
the pupil begin two or three years earlier than this to frame simple
generalizations for his own future guidance? The first year student daily
awakes to new experiences and problems. He demands rules and reasons:
“_How_ shall he choose theme topics? _How much_ shall he put into a
sentence? _Why_ is _electrocution_ in bad usage?” If the principle is
asked for, should it not be given—as much of it as can be digested? When
such a course is followed, time enough is left in the high school for
composition to become a habit. The complex process wherein invention, as
it proceeds, is rectified by criticism, involves many delicate reflexes.
The formulated principle, invaluable to the student in revising, in turn
grows to be an unconscious factor in every succeeding act of composition.

The more essential rules ought not to be mere phantoms to the boy just
completing his first year in the secondary school. In regard to other
matters of living, great principles are taught him from infancy, without
the slightest fear of setting up too analytic a state of mind. If a boy
of three may be told “always to do one thing at a time,” must a boy
be eighteen before he is told “always to write about one thing at a
time”? At three the child is required to control some of his strongest
emotions; must he be eighteen before he is asked to check digressions in
the paragraph? And is it possible to implant a genuine habit of checking
digressions except by leading the student from particular instances
to some generalization which he may keep in mind as a norm for future
self-criticism? Synthesis and analysis cannot safely be separated;
a good prescription for most rhetorical disorders is, more of both.
Indeed, what seems to be needed to-day in teaching composition is not
one thing, but several: on the one hand, more utilization of literature
and more appeal to social interests; on the other hand, more inductions
and generalizations by the student himself; on both hands, more time for
practice and self-criticism.

In the present book, originally printed privately for my own classes
and now rewritten and enlarged, I have tried to present a large number
of definite situations to be faced for constructive practice both in
organization and in diction; and to give in simple, even colloquial
language, all the larger generalizations which a boy presenting himself
at college might reasonably be expected to have been using for two or
three years as touchstones of his own work. Except in the chapters on
punctuation and grammar, the order of reaching generalizations is meant
to be essentially inductive. In these review-chapters a part of the
principles come before the illustrations in order to get the help of
all past associations. Even here the induction is often gone through
with a second time, leading up to a restatement of the principle. It is
recommended that students should often be asked to frame generalizations
of their own, though the text-book may have led up to similar ones.
In Chapters VII. and X., on words, I have tried to present conditions
favorable to the framing of definitions by the student. By various
devices I have constantly tried to avoid separation between exercise
critical and exercise constructive. Occasionally, after the correct
form has been studied, bad English is offered for correction, for the
sake of the appeal to the student’s personal pride and his sense of the
ridiculous; but in general it is assumed that the student’s correction of
his own bad English will afford plenty of contact with faulty forms.

The book is primarily intended to be used in close connection with the
literary studies of the first two years of the secondary course. It may
be used later if the arrangement of subjects allows little time for
literature in these earlier years. The order of presentation should,[1]
in the author’s opinion, follow that of the book. Still, Chapter VIII.,
on correct choice of words, may be taken at the start if the teacher
prefers. Where a good deal of literary study is carried on in the first
year, the first eight chapters are perhaps enough for this year. But a
rate of progress cannot be prescribed. A text-book is a mere help, and
bad in proportion as it tries to be anything more. Its function seems
to be to supply the supplementary appeal to the eye, since the living
teacher can engage to do this but to a limited extent. It appears obvious
that the book should be read slowly enough to permit two things—much
parallel literary study, and much revision of themes in the light of
preceding chapters. First drafts are sometimes all that are worth
making; but usually a task requiring connected discourse is not finished
until there have been several revisions. If the student writes each new
composition with a view to one particular kind of excellence, and then
revises with reference to the kinds of excellence he has previously
striven for, he will gradually be able to hold several stylistic
principles in mind as he composes. Many themes should be written in
class. A limited period should be set for the first draft; and half as
much time may well be spent in revising before this is handed in. In this
revision the student may profitably read his theme as many times as there
are chapters to be mentally reviewed.

The remarkable strength of the verbal memory in students of the first two
years of the secondary school is a fact by which every teacher must have
been impressed.[2] Add to this fact the other, that the pupil’s social
interests are now in a perfect renaissance of liveliness, and you have
exactly the conditions for enlarging the working vocabulary. It is now
or never. The boy, though like the man he hates a fine distinction in
conversation, is growing out of the exaggerated reticence which has of
late seemed to him the manly thing. He is no longer determined to employ
what Mrs. Meynell, speaking of the boy of twelve, calls his “carefully
shortened vocabulary.”[3] The girl, even more than the boy, is full of
new ideas which would flower into speech if the words were to be had.
To capture these new interests and satisfy them by literature is of
course the best thing. Study of isolated words, whether for knowledge or
for power, is but supplementary to the study of the vital functions of
words in the living organism. But even the study of synonyms, if pursued
in preparation for an oral debate,—one of the very best exercises
for first-year students,—or in connection with a page of spirited
prose, rapidly becomes constructive and vital. Although the chapters
on vocabulary (IX. and X.) may be given before the student has begun a
foreign language, the best results with them will not be secured until
he has had at least six months in Latin. The study of prefixes and
suffixes (p. 186 ff.) should not be made burdensome. Some general view
of the subject seems desirable, but the detailed study is best given in
connection with an interesting context.

For kindly criticism or advice I have debts of gratitude to Professor and
Mrs. W. D. McClintock; to Professor F. A. March, Professor John Dewey,
and Professor Robert Herrick; to several of my colleagues, especially
Director George M. Carman, Miss Jane Noble, and Mr. Phil B. Kohlsaat;
to Mr. F. A. Manny, to Mrs. Hufford and Miss Dye, of Indianapolis; to
Superintendent A. F. Nightingale, Miss Jones, and Miss Herrick, of the
Chicago high schools. I have been particularly indebted to Carpenter’s
_Advanced Exercises_, a book made familiar to me by using it with
freshmen in college; and to Scott & Denney’s _Paragraph-Writing_. For
the index I have to thank Miss L. E. W. Benedict, librarian of Lewis
Institute, and Mr. Lewis Gustafson.

                                                                 E. H. L.

CHICAGO, April 15, 1897.



           PREFACE                                              v

           INTRODUCTORY EXPLANATIONS                            1

        I. THE ART OF WRITING ENGLISH                           5

       II. ON READING ALOUD, AND ON SPELLING                   12

      III. A REVIEW OF PUNCTUATION                             21



       VI. ON WELL-KNIT SENTENCES                              96

      VII. ON ORGANIZING THE THEME                            114

     VIII. ON CORRECTNESS IN CHOICE OF WORDS                  147

      IX. SOURCES OF THE ENGLISH VOCABULARY                   181

       X. THE MASTERY OF A WRITING VOCABULARY                 194


     XII. LETTER-WRITING                                      255


     XIV. NARRATION AND DESCRIPTION                           271

      XV. EXPOSITION AND ARGUMENT                             279

          INDEX                                               283


Our plan provides for a good many short compositions. These, as well
as all other exercises, should be written on uniform theme-paper,[4]
say eight inches by ten, with a broad margin at both sides. There are
advantages in the double margin. First, it is easier for the reader of
the theme to jot down his suggestions at the right, since he need not
turn the paper to do so. Secondly, it is well for the student to learn
the knack of keeping _a straight edge_ at the left hand. Only one side of
the paper should be written on. If a mistake is made, a heavy line may
be drawn through the word. The manuscript ought to present the neatest
possible appearance. Blank spaces are to be avoided at the end of lines,
except where a paragraph ends. The straight edge, referred to above,
is to be scrupulously preserved at the left of the page, except that
when a new paragraph (that is, division of the theme) is to begin, the
first line of it should start about two inches farther to the right than
the other lines. The pages should be carefully numbered in the upper
right-hand corner, and kept in their proper order. Nothing is more
disconcerting to any person who reads a manuscript than to open the paper
and find before him the last page, rather than the first. Every theme
should have a definite title. This should appear in the blank space at
the top of the first page and in the endorsement of the folded paper, on
the back of the last page. The theme should be folded once, lengthwise.
In the blank space at the top should be written the endorsement, which
should follow this model: (1) name; (2) name of course; (3) title; (4)

    Richard Doe.

    First year English.

    A Dialogue on Politics.

    Oct. 1, 189-.

After the themes have been read, whether by the instructor alone or
by the class and the instructor, they will be returned with marginal
comments, and (just under the endorsement) a summary of these comments.
In many cases the student will be expected to rewrite, and the word
_Rewrite_ will appear with the general comment. Otherwise he will be
expected to _Revise_, that is, to interline corrections and improvements
on the manuscript without copying it.

Each student’s papers will be filed and kept. He will often be asked to
consult with the instructor concerning his own progress, as shown by his
bundle of themes.

The following suggestive signs[5] may be used in the margin of themes,
indicating the presence of errors, the actual errors to be discovered
by the pupil for himself. Some teachers will prefer a simpler system of
symbols, some a more elaborate system. The suggested list can easily be
modified or supplanted.

    MS.    Bad manuscript.

    ✓.     Some obvious fault—a mark which will be used more and more
             frequently as the student’s knowledge increases. The
             check-mark will frequently indicate bad spelling or
             punctuation, or fault in capitalizing.

    SP.    Bad spelling (see under check-mark).

    HY.    Fault in use of hyphen.

    P.     Fault in punctuation (see also under check-mark).

    CAP.   Fault in the use of a capital letter (see check-mark).

    L.     Too loose; structure rambling.

    S.     Solecism.

    C.     Structure incoherent.

    E.     Lack of emphasis in sentence.

    U.     Lack of unity in sentence.

    TR.    Transpose order of words.

    V.     Vague.

    A.     Ambiguous.

    ¶U.    Lack of unity in paragraph.

    ¶.     Proper place for a paragraph.

    (.     Run two paragraphs together.

    [].    Passages within brackets to be omitted.

    [Deleatur symbol].  Dele, take out, omit; a mark used in correcting
             printer’s proof.

    |.     Against a passage requiring to be wholly recast.

    RI.    Unnecessary repetition of idea.

    ?.     Questions truth of statement.

    B.     Barbarism.

    I.     Impropriety.

    W.     Wordy.

    H.     High-flown, inflated, or over-ambitious.

    D.     Consult the dictionary.

    HACK.  Hackneyed.

    BW.    Better word needed—a more exact or appropriate word.

    RW.    Unnecessary repetition of a word.

    M.     Metaphors mixed, or other fault in the use of figures of speech.

    K.     Awkward, ugly, or unpleasing.

    BT.    Bad taste.

A strong notebook of portable size is needed for the work in spelling and
vocabulary. It should be used from the first for noting new words, etc.
See page 199.




=An Art of Communication.=—Language may be studied in various ways.
It may be scientifically investigated as a historical growth, or as
a curious revelation of how the human mind works. This kind of study
has pure knowledge for its object; if it learns the laws which govern
language, it is satisfied. Again, language may be studied with a view to
applying its principles to the art of self-expression. The attempt to
find words for one’s ideas has enlivened many a weary hour for many a
person who wrote merely for his own satisfaction. But the chief object
for which language should be studied is that it may be made a means of

Most that is good in life comes from men’s ability to make their fellows
share their thoughts and feelings. But it is not always an easy thing
to make others see how we feel or think. The young child is called an
_infant_, a word which means _not-speaking_. Half his miseries arise from
his inability to communicate his notions. “Men are but children of a
larger growth,” and much of their misery results from inability to tell
what they think or feel. In a sense the case is worse for the man than
for the child. The latter makes gestures and grimaces to help his meaning
out; and he depends not in vain on pitch and stress. The grown man is
partly shorn of these helps, in that he has to communicate by letters and
other compositions. How much more work the eye does to-day than the ear!
Before the age of printing, things were different.

Both in speaking and in writing there are many special laws that must
be observed if there is to be real communication. The special laws of
spoken language are not so numerous as those of written language. Written
language has to be much more careful than spoken; the writer has no
chance of correcting himself on the spot if not understood. Nevertheless
a knowledge of how to communicate by written words is a very great help
in communicating orally.

The art of communicating by means of written English words is called
English composition, or rhetoric. The latter word once meant the art of
speaking; and it still keeps this sense when a composition is written
to be delivered. Rhetoric is a useful art, like that of curing the
sick, or that of building bridges. A matter of prime importance to each
man is that, in business or in society, he should be able to say or
write exactly what he means; rhetoric helps him to do this. A business
man may lose money by failing to make himself clearly understood;
misunderstandings and quarrels arise between friends because some one
has failed to write just what he meant; a man is liable to be taken for
a boor if he abuses the English language. Rhetoric is an exceedingly
practical art.

It would not, however, be fair to remove all emphasis from the fact
that rhetoric is a fine art, an art of beauty. As soon as the student
begins to master the use of words, he has a chance to become an artist in
language. In producing a beautiful thing he feels the artist’s pleasure.
Most persons like to play some musical instrument, or experiment in
color, or use a camera. Why should they not come to enjoy the art of
setting down their ideas in words skilfully chosen, and arranged with
delicate precision? The old Greeks enjoyed it—those people who knew how
to extract so much high pleasure from life. Along with their musical
contests and athletic contests, they had trials of skill in poetry and in
public speech.

There is no more delightful art than that of writing, if the writer
finds words for his own fresh impressions. In order to learn the
mandolin, a new player will train his wrist till it aches. But thrumming
music is doubtless small pleasure compared with writing music; and
writing English is in a way like writing music,—a fine, high, creative
process, which, in the hands of a master, results in a permanent, not a
fleeting, product.

A teacher of English recently said that, in a certain sense, if a student
likes any study at all he can be brought to like composition also.[6]
She was right. If he cares for mathematics, and the beautiful precision
by which everything in mathematics falls exactly into its place, he will
enjoy showing the exact relations he conceives to exist between the
parts of his sentence. If a girl likes music she will care for the music
that is in prose. She will perceive that a good sentence is free from
ugly sounds, and has furthermore a music of rhythm, a finely modulated
rise and fall that a keen ear readily perceives. A lad declares himself
interested in inventing or in building machinery. If so, why should he
not enjoy building a theme? To think out a new mechanical device requires
much the same kind of ingenuity, sense of proportion, perception of cause
and effect, that are required in thinking out the logical framework of a

The student should work steadily toward the point where he may come to
have an abiding love for that which is lucid and beautiful in expression
by words. He will never regret the time he spends in perfecting his
instrument of expression. No matter how practical the life he plans to
lead, the power of writing down his ideas in good English, in a way that
will leave no doubt as to what he meant and how earnestly he meant it,
will always profit him. One meets everywhere men who lament that they
gave so little attention to our language when they were young enough to
master it.

=The Limitations of the Art.=—It must never be supposed that, because to
some extent a fine art, rhetoric should be studied as an end in itself.
What was said a moment ago about the primary aim of the study must be
kept steadily in view. We study the art of composition not for the art’s
sake, but to communicate our ideas and feelings. Rhetoric does not
profess to supply the student with ideas, though it assumes that his mind
is stimulated to new thought by trying to express that which he already
has. The more ideas he brings to the study,—ideas he has thought out in
life or in his other studies, like literature, history, civics,—the more
facility he will carry away; for ideas are the very best of material
to make themes of. If composition does only one thing for a given
person,—if, namely, it brings him to a sturdy habit of _finding something
to say_ before he asks other people to listen to him,—it is eminently
worth while.

=Write for an Audience.=—Writing is usually good in proportion as the
writer is interested in it. If he cares for it, if he is anxious to find
a worthy thought and make it clear to the eyes of others, he will be very
likely to succeed in doing so. Something of every student’s weekly work
ought to be good enough to come before the eyes of his friends and to
command his friends’ respect. The student will find that his mates are
keen critics; they will not respect poor work. But they are also fair and
sympathetic critics, ready and willing to surrender on sight to really
good work. A class as a whole will judge the compositions of each member
disinterestedly and appreciatively.

Whatever is most characteristic of you, as different from other people;
whatever gift is yours, of imagination, or reasoning power, or emotion,
or humor,—all will find its fit expression in your writing. Every human
being is particularly interested in something, is peculiarly apt at
something. To find out what most appeals to one’s self in literature or
in life, and to voice one’s ideas about it, is to know a keen pleasure.
It is more. It is to be of some use to one’s fellows. As human beings we
want other human beings to tell us the best that is in them. If a man
has ideas we wish to share them—and wish him to learn how to express
them that we may share them. If he hasn’t ideas, the effort to express
what he considers such will convince both him and us of the fact. But
then!—everybody has ideas.



=Reading Aloud.=—One of the quickest ways of learning to know good
English, is oral reading. For him who would write the language it is
therefore a great economy to learn to read it. It is an invaluable habit
to read aloud every day some piece of prose with the finest feeling the
reader can lend to it. In no other way can one so easily learn to notice
and to remember new words. In no other way can one catch the infinitely
varied rhythm of prose, and acquire a sense of how a good sentence rises
gradually from the beginning and then descends in a cadence. This rise
and fall of the sentence is not merely a matter of voice; it is a matter
of thought as well. Similarly, the law of unity in the sentence, a law
which prescribes what shall constitute a complete thought, is curiously
bound up with the laws of the human voice. A clause that is too long to
be pronounced in a single breath is usually clumsy in logic. In the next
place, reading aloud helps one to spell correctly. Furthermore, it is the
best means of detecting those useless repetitions which betray poverty of

Rousseau called accent the soul of language. If the student reads
aloud from writers whose work was natural, unforced, original, he will
gradually come to see his own ideas more clearly, feel his own feelings
more keenly. Best of all, however, let him read his own work aloud,
habitually. This will help him to see whether or not it is correct,
natural, effective.

=Spelling.=[7]—Bad spelling should practically be a thing of the past
for each student by the end of his first high school year. Every one can
learn to spell, though some more rapidly than others.

Perhaps the chief reason why persons fail to spell correctly is that they
do not read correctly. They have not trained their eyes to see what is
on the page; they do not notice the syllables. It is a good practice to
read every day a page or two very slowly, examining the words letter by
letter. It is equally helpful to read the page aloud after examining it.
In so doing give every vowel its true value; cut no syllable short that
should be sounded distinctly.

After writing a theme, go through it, challenging the spelling. Do not
hand in your work without having consulted your own dictionary. A bad
speller may not be able to win in an oral spelling-match; but there is no
reason why every page of his writing should not be perfect in orthography.

Into a little blank-book copy the correct form of every word you
misspell. Each day read over carefully several words by syllables, and
then write them from memory. The more frequently the hand writes the word
in its correct form, the better; for the hand has a memory of its own,
and the mere act of writing a given form tends to fix it in memory.

Make good spelling a matter of pride. Habitual bad spelling is a slovenly
thing, a mark of illiteracy.

=Spelling of Compound Words.=—It may be well to call attention here to
the use of the hyphen in compound words.

1. The hyphen is needed in a compound adjective, if there is any doubt
as to the meaning when the hyphen is omitted. “Red-hot iron” may be a
different idea from “red hot iron.”

2. Numbers like the following take the hyphen: seventy-three,

3. Many a word once compounded is now written solid, that is, as a
single word: railroad, steamboat, anybody, anything, raindrop, forever,
schoolboy, schoolhouse, schoolmate, schoolfellow (but school days,
school teacher, school district); myself, yourself (but one’s self);
childlike, lifelike. All these words but two, it will be seen, have a
monosyllable for the first part. When in doubt as to whether or not a
hyphen is needed, consult some special manual like Bigelow’s _Handbook of

In all your writing, join distinctly syllables that you wish to have
go together. Notice the absurd and misleading effect of such careless
writing as this: “He was a glass maker and worked down at the glass
house; his gal lant moust ache and his loud voice trai ned by blow ing
glass mad e him wel come at the harvest home celebrations.”

=Possessives.=—The possessive singular of a monosyllable ending in _s_
is regularly made by adding _’s_, pronounced as an extra syllable. Thus:
Jones’s; Briggs’s. For the polysyllable ending in _s_ or the sound of
_s_, merely the apostrophe is usually required, as in the plural. Thus:
“Moses’ seat”; “conscience’ sake.”

=Singulars and Plurals.=—Spell aloud by syllables, and write from
dictation the plurals of the following: Analysis, animalcule, antithesis,
appendix, bandit, cherub, crisis, ellipsis, focus, fungus, genus,
hypothesis, madame, memorandum, monsieur, mother-in-law, mussulman,
nebula, oasis, parenthesis, radius, spoonful, synopsis.

What are the singulars—if singulars there are—of data, errata, magi,
strata, vertebræ?

=Written Exercise.=—Below are given the correct form of certain words
often misspelled by pupils in the first and second years of a secondary
school. Without previous study write each word from dictation. Afterwards
spell aloud by syllables each word that you misspelled in writing from
dictation. Then write at least twenty times the correct form. The object
is to acquire a kind of automatic correctness. In composing, one should
have his mind free for thought; one should not have to think much more
about spelling than about breathing.

Accompany; advisability; all right; anniversary; appearance; associated;
bargained; buried; carriage; catarrh; cemetery; characteristic;
commander; commotion; conceive; condescension; confidants; confidence;
deceive; describe; descriptions; despair; difficulty; dilapidate;
disappointed; disappeared; ecstasy; enemies; enemy; exaggerate;
excrescence; existence; fascination; fatiguing; finally; further;
grammar; handkerchief; hating; hemorrhage; immature; indispensable;
irresistible; lightning; literary; living; loathsome; lose (the money);
manœuvre; melancholy; minister; ministry; misshapen; necessary; niece;
occurrence; offered; opportunity; outrageous; parallel; paralysis;
peaceable; persuade; planned; poniard; primitive; principal (objection);
principle (of action); privilege; promenading; pursuit; received;
recommend; redoubtable; referred; representatives; rhythm; sacrilegious;
secretary; seize; seized; separate; shoeing; siege; simile; stopped;
striking; studied; superintendent; supposing; tenants; theatre; their
(money); transferred; until; veil (on face); vengeance; very; village;
wasn’t; whether; Roger de Coverley; George Eliot; Lord Macaulay;
Michigan; Thackeray.

=Word-Breaking.=—At the end of a line do not divide (_a_) a monosyllable,
(_b_) a short disyllable, such as _real_, _doing_. Divide polysyllables
according to their etymological composition (to be found in the
dictionary). Some authors discountenance beginning a second line with
_-ic_, _-al_, _-ing_, _-ly_. These breakings are perhaps permissible, _if
the hyphen is made very distinct_.

=Written and Oral Exercise.=—The instructor should ask each pupil in
turn to recall, spell, and pronounce some word that doubles the letter
_c_. The class should then be given a few minutes to write from memory
as many of those given as they can recall. After this the pronouncing
and spelling should proceed as long as possible, alternately with the
writing. The lists should then be compared, and the pupil who has
reproduced the largest number of words should be asked to spell and
pronounce each one on his list. The other pupils should then be called
upon to read from their own lists words that the first fails to give.
Each should then be asked to add to his paper all words remembered by
other members of the class, but not by him.[8]

=Pronunciation.=—A person who regards good usage in pronunciation and
who articulates with unaffected nicety, is received at once as an
educated man. It is interesting to see how often Lord Chesterfield, the
best-mannered of Englishmen, insists that a gentleman is known by his
accent. Chesterfield’s letters to his son are full of this idea. A sense
of ease and security blesses him who knows how to sound every word that
occurs to him as he talks; it is such a sense as a man feels when he
is sure that his clothes fit him and are cut according to the accepted
conventions. It is accordingly worth all the trouble involved, to form a
habit of letting no word pass unchallenged as to its orthoëpy. Look it up
in the dictionary, or in a good manual like Phyfe’s _Seven Thousand Words
often Mispronounced_.

=Exercise.=—Below is given a short list of words frequently
mispronounced. The instructor should pronounce the words, and ask the
class to pronounce them.

    alma mater,
    alternate (noun and adjective),
    cement (noun),
    learned (adj.),
    rise (noun),

    About (Edmond),
    Aguilar (Grace),
    Balliol (college),
    Mivart, (St. George),



Punctuation is a system of disjunctive marks by which the eye and ear are
helped to understand the sense of what is written. It is desirable to
regard the subject as governed to a great extent by a few principles of
common sense. The present chapter reviews those matters of capitalization
and punctuation which seem to give most trouble to secondary school


1. Of course all proper nouns should begin with capital letters, and
so should adjectives derived from them: examples, _Russia_, _Russian_,
_Jew_, _Jewish_, _Gentile_, _French_, _German_. But the word _christian_
is not always capitalized, especially if it is used vaguely as a synonym
for good, righteous, etc.

2. We capitalize the words _North_, _South_, _East_, _West_, when,
because we mean parts of the country, we use the article _the_ before
them. Thus, “The extreme West favors free silver.” But if we speak
of direction merely, we do not capitalize: “Many people took Horace
Greeley’s advice and went west.” Capitalize sections of the country, but
not points of the compass.

3. Names of the seasons are not capitalized. Thus, though we write
_June_, _September_, we also write _spring_, _autumn_.

4. In the salutation of a letter, the word _Sir_ is capitalized, but not
the preceding adjective unless that begins the salutation. Thus: “My dear
Sir.” So in the leave-taking only the first word receives a capital.
Thus: “Yours very truly.”

5. One valuable device is the use of the capital to introduce the
semblance of a quotation, or what might be called a rhetorical quotation.
Note: “I should answer, No.” Here the quotation _No_ is merely
rhetorical, or pretended, not real. Or this: “Let me give you a short
rule for success: Trust in God and keep your powder dry.” Or this, from
Longfellow: “Perhaps the greatest lesson which the lives of literary men
teach us is told in a single word: Wait!”

6. In titles of books, essays, etc., the important words are capitalized.
Thus: “My theme-title to-day was, A Description of a Person.”

7. Names of Deity begin with a capital, and many persons prefer to
capitalize adjectives referring directly to Deity. Thus: “We crave Thy
grace.” But this habit should not be carried so far as the capitalization
of words like _divine_, _omniscient_, when these are not applied to
Deity. Rather: “His goodness was divine.”

=Written Exercise.=—Copy the following, capitalizing where necessary:—

1. After going south last spring I understood better than before what is
meant by the new south. The southerners have taken to manufacturing; the
cotton is no longer all shipped away. Wealth has multiplied. Immigration
has increased—the french are not the only foreigners now. There are
colleges and even universities, that compare favorably with those of the
north. Are the people wide-awake and ambitious? I answer, yes.

=The Reasons for Punctuation.=—In early days manuscripts were written
“solid,” thus:—


It was found that both eye and ear demanded spaces and punctuation. The
reader’s train of thought goes straight ahead from word to word until the
punctuation mark warns it that there is danger of misunderstanding if it
does not pause. The mark shows that the words which precede it are to
be understood mentally as a group, and to be read orally as a group. If
the thought is kept in mind that a punctuation mark is a sort of danger
signal, many of the difficulties of the subject vanish. “Henry rose, and
I with him laughed at the story we had heard.” If that comma be omitted
between _rose_ and _and_, what happens?

=The Comma.=

1. The comma, even more than other points, shows what the meaning of
the sentence is; it should set off the parts of the thought. Nothing is
easier than to spoil a minor unit of thought by breaking it in two with
a comma. So far as may be, the modified subject of a sentence should not
be cut into by a comma; neither should the modified predicate; nor should
a subject and its predicate be separated any oftener by commas than
is necessary. The following passage, written by a lad of fifteen from
dictation, shows the minor units of thought divided by too many commas:—

    The mean appearance of the houses, in old Boston, was, to
    some extent, relieved by the rich display, of painted, and
    sculptured signs, which adorned the front of taverns, and
    stores.... They served sometimes, as advertisements of the
    business, sometimes merely as designations, of the shops which
    were indicated popularly, and, in the newspapers, by their

If this passage be read aloud, a pause being made wherever a comma is
placed, it will sound unnatural, disconnected. Revised, it will read
somewhat as follows:—

    The mean appearance of the houses in old Boston was, to some
    extent, relieved by the rich display of painted and sculptured
    signs which adorned the front of taverns and stores.... They
    served sometimes as advertisements of the business, sometimes
    merely as designations of the shops, which were indicated
    popularly and in the newspapers by their signs.

2. Commas are used to set off matter that is parenthetical, but not
sufficiently so as to need parentheses or dashes. Such words as
_therefore_ are not usually to be considered as parenthetical. A
parenthetical group of words is not to be broken into unnecessarily by
a comma. Incorrect form: “The squire remarked, as all we who live here,
in Smithboro, know, that, so far as the people who lived over there, in
Edinburgh, are concerned, we are as happy as they.” Correct form: “The
squire remarked, as all we who live here in Smithboro’ know, that so far
as the people who live over there in Edinburgh are concerned, we are as
happy as they.”

3. Vocative words, that is, words used in direct address, are set off by
commas. “Come, men, let’s go!” “Well, sir, how now?” It is curious that
in the expressions “Yes, sir,” “No, sir,” in pronouncing which we do not
pause before “_sir_,” we still place a comma here. Probably no rule of
punctuation is more neglected than this of vocative words. Something like
this usage is the placing of a comma after the expletive _Now_. Thus:
“Now, I think that the case is a little different.”

4. (_a_) Words or phrases forming a series are separated by commas when
conjunctions are omitted; and the comma is used between the last two
members of the series, conjunction or no conjunction. Thus: “Burns,
Barnes of Dorsetshire, and Riley are poets of the people.” If the last
comma were omitted, we should seem not to be considering each man
separately. Exceptions: “little old man,” “fine fat hen,” etc.

(_b_) A rapid series of independent propositions, very closely related in
sense, may be punctuated by commas. Thus: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
This is the only structure in which an independent statement, not
introduced by a conjunction, is ever pointed with the comma. If there
is any doubt whether or not the series is rapid enough to admit commas,
semicolons should be used instead.

5. Relative clauses not restrictive[10] are set off by commas. This is a
rather important rule. If I say, “The moon, which, as everybody is aware,
goes round the earth, is cold,” the _which_ clause does not so restrict
or define the word “moon” that it is necessary to our understanding what
is meant by “the moon”; the relative clause can be picked out bodily,
and the sentence will still be intelligible. “The moon is cold,” is
clear enough to people who live on the earth. They understand that the
earth’s moon is meant. But suppose I say, “The moon which goes round the
earth is smaller than one of Jupiter’s moons”; now the relative clause
identifies, restricts the word “moon”—tells what moon is meant. The
clause forms an integral part of the subject. It is no longer the moon
merely, a thing that everybody knows about; it is one particular moon:
the-moon-which-goes-round-the-earth. Occasionally such a clause can be
identified by _that_, for many writers save this relative for restrictive

=Written Exercise.=—Copy and punctuate the following sentences, all of
which, except the first, are from Robert Louis Stevenson. Defend orally
your pointing:—

1. There goes President Harper who is so much interested in everything
that interests students.

2. Marquis I said if you take another step I fire upon you.

3. In the midst of these imagine that natural clumsy unintelligent and
mirthful animal John.

4. The terms and spirit in which he spoke of his political beliefs were
in our eyes suited to religious beliefs and _vice versâ_.

5. Oh yes I dare say said John.

6. Moy pronounced Moÿ was a pleasant little village.

7. We were in a large bare apartment adorned with two allegorical prints
of music and painting and a copy of the law against public drunkenness

8. Now what I like so much in France is the clear unflinching recognition
by everybody of his own luck

9. If it ever be a good thing to take such despondency to heart the
Miserere is the right music and a cathedral a fit scene

10. But the sun was already down the air was chill and we had scarcely a
dry stitch between the pair of us

11. The inn to which we had been recommended at Quartes was full.

12. Mme. Gilliard set herself to waken the boy who had come far that day
and was peevish and dazzled by the light.

13. Do you remember the Frenchman who was put down at Waterloo Station

14. The children who played together to-day by the Sambre and Oise canal
each at his own father’s threshold when and where might they next meet

15. I began with a remark upon their dog which had somewhat the look of a

16. The only buildings that had any interest for us were the hotel and
the café

17. Not long after the drums had passed the café [we] began to grow
sleepy and set out for the hotel which was only a door or two away

=The Semicolon.=

1. The semicolon is a kind of weak full-stop, _i.e._ period. Nearly
always it separates clauses that are grammatically able to get along
without each other, but that are closely related in sense. So rare indeed
are the cases in which the semicolon may be used with a dependent clause,
that a high school student may properly ignore them. _For the present,
avoid using the semicolon to point a dependent clause._

2. Sometimes the semicolon punctuates a series of mere phrases. This
occurs if some particular emphasis is desired for them, or if they are
too long to be set off by commas. Example:—

An enormous smoke-stack blocks my view; built of brick, and massive; blue
in the cold winter mist; glowing like a pillar of fire as soon as the
sunlight reaches it; the most changing, the most stable, thing is this

=Oral Exercise.=—Which statements in the following sentences are
independent? which dependent? (It need hardly be suggested that the
necessity of understanding a subject or a predicate does not make a
statement dependent.)

1. If the sky falls, we shall catch larks.

2. Faults are thick, where love is thin.

3. Happy is he that is happy in his children.

4. Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile;
natural philosophy, deep; morals, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to

5. O, there be players that I have seen play,—and heard others praise,
and that highly—not to speak it profanely, that neither having the
accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
strutted and bellowed, that I have thought some of nature’s journeymen
had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so
abominably.—_Hamlet_, Act III. Sc. 2.

The following sentences were written by a pupil in the first year of the
high school. If there are mistakes in punctuation, explain what principle
is violated:—

1. When the time came to retire; my uncle was shown to the tower-room.

2. A short time afterward when he was travelling through Normandy; he
came to an old castle standing in the midst of a park.

3. The postilion was ordered to drive to the castle; where my uncle
received a welcome from the little Marquis.

4. This seemed the very night for ghosts; with the wind howling outside
and whistling through the ill-fitting casement.

=The Colon.=

1. The colon is usually a mark of specification. Thus, “The old idea of
education was simple: reading, writing, arithmetic.” A fine distinction
of logic can be shown by using it: a general statement may be followed
by a colon, after which the details that explain the statement may be
given. In the following sentence the colon _specifies_ what is meant by
fine character. “He was a fellow of fine character: brave, honorable,
free from false pretense.” Usually the colon separates clauses that are
logically, if not grammatically, in _apposition_ with each other.

2. The colon introduces a formal or long, the comma an informal or
short, quotation. “He answered, ‘I will work while the day lasts.’” “The
Declaration of Independence begins as follows: ‘When, in the course of
human events.’”

=The Dash.=

1. The dash shows a sudden break in the thought. Thus: “We were hurrying
onward—but first let me tell what happened before that.”

2. The dash sometimes precedes a _summing up_. Here it usually follows a
comma, since the members of the series are set off by commas: “Chaucer,
Shakespeare, Wordsworth,—very many of our great poets indeed, were at
home in the country.” Sometimes the dash is used when there is no real
summing up, but an appositive phrase is added, as a further explanation.
For an example, see the last sentence of the next paragraph,—and this
sentence also.

3. The dash, like the comma, is often used to set off a parenthetical
expression. (See 2, under the comma.) Examples: “His father—that iron
gentleman—had long ago dethroned himself.” “He was a man—the reader must
already have perceived—of easy, not to say familiar, manners.” Note that
in these examples no commas are used with the dashes, because if the
parenthetical words were lifted out, the sentence would close up without
punctuation. But suppose the sentence were such that it could not close
up without punctuation; then the comma would be needed. The comma in “His
father being angry, he felt afraid,” remains when the parenthesis is
inserted: “His father being angry,—that iron gentleman,—he felt afraid.”
Note that in such a case a second comma is used,—with the second dash.

=Written Exercise.=—Copy and punctuate the following sentences from
Stevenson. In the first is there not a choice of punctuation after

1. All the way down we had our fill of difficulties sometimes it was a
wear which could be shot sometimes one so shallow and full of stakes that
we must withdraw the boats from the water and carry them round

2. But this is a fashion I love to kiss the hand or wave a handkerchief
to people I shall never see again to play with possibility and knock in
a peg for fancy to hang upon

3. You see what it is to be a gentleman I beg your pardon what it is to
be a pedler.

4. Centralization said he but the landlord was at his throat in a minute

5. There should be some myth but if there is I know it not founded on the
shivering of the reeds there are not many things in nature more striking
to man’s eye

6. “The fire should have been here at this side” explained the
husband “then one might have a writing table in the middle books and”
comprehensively[11] “all it would be quite coquettish _ça serait
tout-à-fait coquet_.”

=Quotation Marks.=

1. Marks of quotation, or, as the English call them, inverted commas, are
placed around direct quotations. Many students neglect a part of this
little duty: they fail to mark _the end_ of the quotation.

2. A quotation within a quotation stands between single commas. Thus:
“We were gathered on shore, watching the schooner. Gray spoke up: ‘She’s
certainly going down, and we must let the saving station know it. Maybe
the patrol has already seen her; I saw a sailor walking on the beach not
long since, and singing, “Yeave ho, my lads, the wind blows free.”’” Note
that when there is a quotation _within the second quotation_, it receives
the double marks.

3. Sometimes a quotation is given in substance, with no attempt at
accuracy; to show this fact it is quoted in single commas. Thus: ‘A
foolish consistency frightens little minds.’ This is the substance of
Emerson’s remark, “A foolish consistency is the bugbear of little minds.”

=Theme.=—Write a dialogue a page or two long. Show the change from
speaker to speaker by the use of quotation marks and paragraphing. Each
reply of each interlocutor, with its word or two of introduction, if such
there be, should go by itself as a paragraph. Choose your own topic;
or take one of these, changing the wording: (1) Smith tries to make
Brown see the difference between relative clauses restrictive and those
merely coördinate. (2) Two girls lament the difficulties of punctuation.
(3) Two lads [or, men] talk politics. Do not begin each speech as in
Shakespeare each is begun—with the speaker’s name. Refer occasionally
to the speakers, if you please, _e.g._, “‘Not by any means,’ responded
Bangs, rather tartly”; but do not hesitate to let most of the speeches
stand without comment. Punctuate the dialogue carefully, as you write.
Then revise it carefully for punctuation.


Brackets indicate that the included matter is inserted by another person
than the original author; that is, by a person who is quoting or editing
the passage. Thus: “He [Goethe] tells us that character is developed in
the busy world, though intellect is developed in solitude.”

=The Exclamation Point.=

1. There is a tendency to punctuate with the period sentences that are
really exclamatory; it is better to use the exclamation point. Thus: “I
am so delighted to see you!”

It is better still to avoid an excess of exclamatory sentences, however
correctly punctuated.

2. The word _oh!_ should be followed by an exclamation point or by a
comma. This is not the word _O_, which is used in direct address—

    “O thou that rollest above,
    Round as the shield of my fathers,”

and to express a wish:

    “O that I had wings like a dove.”

3. The exclamation point may stand in the midst of a sentence, at the end
of a clause. The mark is then not followed by a capital letter. Thus: “Is
it possible! is it credible!” exclaimed the Bishop.

=The Interrogation Point.=

1. Placed in parentheses the interrogation point questions the accuracy
of a statement. Ex.: “It is in New York (?) that the largest number of
exiled Russians is found.”

2. Like the exclamation mark, the question mark may stand at the end of
a clause, before a small letter. Thus: “Do you believe it? was the way
he greeted me as I finished reading the letter.” Or, “Shall we lie here
inactive? Shall we plan nothing? attempt nothing? do nothing?”

=Written Exercise.=—Copy and punctuate the following sentences from

1. Such a dinner as we were going to eat such beds as we were to sleep in

2. Where were the boating men of Belgium where the judge and his good
wines and where the graces of Origny

3. Come back again she cried and all the hills echoed her

4. All the gold had withered out of the sky and the balloon had
disappeared whither I ask myself; caught up into the seventh heaven or
come safely to land somewhere in that blue uneven distance into which the
roadway dipped and melted before our eyes


1. A good rule for italics is to shun them—that is, not to use them
freely to denote emphasis. Emphasis can be secured by some other means;
for instance, by putting the emphatic word near the beginning of the
sentence. Thus: “It was such a very _fine_ thing to spin along over the
ice” becomes, “A fine thing it was, to spin along over the ice.”

2. Use italics to show that a word is foreign. Thus: “Sophronia likes to
interlard her English with such fine phrases as _en passant_, _fin de
siècle_, and _al fresco_.”

3. It is usual to italicize single words if they are specified,—spoken of
as words. Thus: “A good many words that pass muster with most people are
not really in good use; for example, _burglarize_.”

=The Apostrophe.=

1. One use of the apostrophe is to mark the plural of single letters, or
figures. Ex.: Distinguish between your 8’s and 3’s; dot your _i’s_ and
cross your _t’s_.

2. The commoner use of the apostrophe is to mark the possessive case.
There is however no apostrophe in the word _its_, which is considered an
adjective, not a personal, pronoun.


A row of asterisks is used to show an omission. Thus, if a writer were
quoting, and wished to skip a page or two, he would insert this sign
* * * * But if he omitted only a few words, he would rather use
“leaders”; thus....

=Oral Exercise, in Review.=—Read this passage over carefully, and
listen to the reading of it aloud by some member of the class or by the
instructor. Then explain how it should be punctuated.

Mr. Higginbotham Mr. Higginbotham tell us the particulars about old
Mr. Higginbotham bawled the mob what is the coroner’s verdict are the
murderers apprehended is Mr. Higginbotham’s niece come out of her
fainting fits Mr. Higginbotham Mr. Higginbotham

The coachman said not a word except to swear awfully at the ostler for
not bringing him a fresh team of horses the lawyer inside had generally
his wits about him even when asleep the first thing he did after learning
the cause of the excitement was to produce a large red pocket-book
meantime Dominicus Pike being an extremely polite young man and also
suspecting that a female tongue would tell the story as glibly as a
lawyer’s had handed the lady out of the coach she was a fine smart girl
now wide awake and bright as a button and had such a sweet pretty mouth
that Dominicus would almost as lieves have heard a love tale from it as a
tale of murder

Gentleman and ladies said the lawyer to the shopkeepers the mill men
and the factory girls I can assure you that some unaccountable mistake
or more probably a wilful falsehood maliciously contrived to injure Mr
Higginbotham’s credit has excited this singular uproar we passed through
Kimballton at three o’clock this morning and most certainly should have
been informed of the murder had any been perpetrated but I have proof
nearly as strong as Mr. Higginbotham’s own oral testimony in the negative
here is a note relating to a suit of his in the Connecticut courts which
was delivered me from that gentleman himself I find it dated at ten
o’clock last evening

So saying the lawyer exhibited the date and signature of the note which
irrefragably proved either that this perverse Mr. Higginbotham was alive
when he wrote it or as some deemed the more probable case of two doubtful
ones that he was so absorbed in worldly business as to continue to
transact it even after his death but unexpected evidence was forthcoming
the young lady after listening to the pedlers explanation merely seized a
moment to smooth her gown and put her curls in order, and then appeared
at the tavern-door making a modest signal to be heard

Good people said she I am Mr. Higginbotham’s niece

=Written Exercise, in Review.=—Copy, punctuate, and capitalize the
following, from Charles Lamb:

And first let us remember as first in importance in our childish eyes the
young men as they almost were who under the denomination of _Grecians_
were waiting the expiration of the period when they should be sent at
the charges of the Hospital to one or other of our Universities but more
frequently to Cambridge these youths from their superior acquirements
their superior age and stature and the fewness of their numbers for
seldom above two or three at a time were inaugurated into that high order
drew the eyes of all and especially of the younger boys into a reverent
observance and admiration how tall they used to seem to us how stately
would they pace along the cloisters while the play of the lesser boys
was absolutely suspended or its boisterousness at least allayed at their
presence not that they ever beat or struck the boys that would have
been to have demeaned[12] themselves the dignity of their persons alone
insured them all respect the task of blows, or corporal chastisement they
left to the common monitors or heads of wards who it must be confessed in
our time had rather too much license allowed them to oppress and misuse
their inferiors and the interference of the Grecian who may be considered
as the spiritual power was not unfrequently called for to mitigate by its
mediation the heavy unrelenting arm of this temporal power or monitor
in fine the Grecians were the solemn Muftis of the school œras[13] were
computed from their time it used to be said such or such a thing was
done when S—— or T—— was Grecian.

=Common Abbreviations.=

The following list of abbreviations should be learned, Latin words and

    A. B., _Artium Baccalaureus_. Bachelor of Arts. In England, B.

    A. D., _Anno Domini_. In the Year of our Lord.

    AD. LIB., or _ad. lib._, _Ad libitum_. At pleasure.

    ÆT., _Ætatis_. Of age; aged.

    A. M., _Ante Meridiem_. Before noon.

    A. M., _Artium Magister_. Master of Arts. In England, M. A.

    A. U. C., _Anno Urbis Conditæ_. In the year from the Building
    of the City (Rome).

    D. C. L. Doctor of Civil Law.

    D. D., _Divinitatis Doctor_. Doctor of Divinity.

    D. D. S. Doctor of Dental Surgery.

    Do., _Ditto_. The same.

    E. E. Errors excepted. (Used in book-keeping.)

    E. O. E. Errors and omissions excepted.

    E. G., or _e. g._, _Exempli gratia_. For example.

    ETC., or &C., _Et cætera_. And so forth; literally, And others.

    F. R. S. Fellow of the Royal Society.

    H. M. His _or_ Her Majesty.

    H. M. S. His _or_ Her Majesty’s Ship _or_ Service.

    H. R. H. His _or_ Her Royal Highness.

    IBID., _Ibidem_. In the same place. Used in quoting several
    selections from one book, or making several references to one

    I. E., or _i. e._, _Id est_. That is. In reading aloud, one
    gives the English words only.

    I. H. S., sometimes explained as _Iesus Hominum Salvator_.
    Jesus the Saviour of Men. More properly, this abbreviation
    merely means “Jesus.” It is made up of the first three letters
    of the Greek word for Jesus—ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. The H, in I. H. S., is
    really the Greek letter êta, from which we get our capital E.

    I. N. R. I., _Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum_. Jesus of Nazareth,
    King of the Jews.

    L. H. D., _Litterarum Humanarum Doctor_. Doctor of Humane

    LL. D., _Legum Doctor_. Doctor of Laws.

    M., _Meridies_. Mid-day.

    M. A. Master of Arts.

    M. D., _Medicinæ Doctor_. Doctor of Medicine.

    MESSRS. Gentlemen. (French, _Messieurs_.)

    MME. Madame.

    MLLE. Mademoiselle.

    MS., or Ms. Manuscript. MSS. Manuscripts.

    N. B., _Nota bene_. Mark well, or take notice.

    N. S. New Style (after 1752).

    OB., _Obiit_. He _or_ she died.

    O. S. Old Style (previous to 1752).

    PH. D., _Philosophiæ Doctor_. Doctor of Philosophy.

    PP. Pages.

    P. P. C., _Pour prendre congé_. To take leave. This is not an
    abbreviation for the English words: Paid parting call.

    PRO TEM., _Pro tempore_. For the time being.

    PROX., _Proximo_. Next, _or_ the next month.

    Q. E. D., _Quod erat demonstrandum_. Which was to be

    R. S. V. P., or R. s. v. p., _Répondez, s’il vous plaît_.
    Answer, if you please.

    VIZ., or viz., _Videlicet_. Namely, to wit. _Videlicet_ has
    etymologically about the force of “You see,” or “It can be

    VS., _Versus_. Against.



The present chapter reviews only those grammatical principles that are
sometimes violated by students who have had a year of formal grammar.

=Clearness.=—If composition is the art of communicating one’s ideas
in words, it is certain that clearness is the first requisite of good
writing. Clearness, perfect intelligibility, is secured by means
innumerable. One secret however of being clear is to regard grammatical
usages. If a man is to be understood exactly, he must be grammatical. No
one is excepted. “Grammar,” said Molière, “knows how to lord it even over

=Ambiguity.=—When an expression is open to two interpretations, it is
said to be ambiguous. In the sentence, “He is a fair man,” _fair_ is an
ambiguous word. In the sentence, “He was arrested by two officers, who
were about to board a West Madison street car, in possession of a large
amount of stolen property,” the phrase _in possession_, etc., holds an
ambiguous position. Grammatical errors often produce this fault.

=Solecisms.=—Infringements of grammatical rules are called
_solecisms_.[14] Never losing sight of the fact that writing English is
largely the art of telling some one else just what one means, let us note
a few solecisms that hinder a writer from giving his exact meaning.

=Coherence by placing Modifiers rightly.=—I. The rhetorics are fond
of quoting droll sentences in which, from being wrongly placed, ideas
fail to _cohere_, stick together. A favorite sentence is that from
an epitaph in an Ulster churchyard: “Erected to the memory of John
Phillips, accidently shot, as a mark of affection by his brother.” Mr.
Bardeen (“Sentence-Making”) quotes the following, which sounds like
a manufactured joke, but is nevertheless to the point. “Is there a
gentleman with one eye named Walker in the club?” “I don’t know; what was
the name of his other eye?” Another much quoted and startling sentence
reads thus: “In one evening I counted twenty-seven meteors sitting on
my back piazza.” Remedy the incoherence of these sentences. _Put close
together on the paper ideas that belong close together in the mind._ Do
not let adverbs and modifying clauses stray from the thought to which
they belong.

=Oral Exercise.=—The order of words in the following sentences should so
be changed as to increase the logical coherence of the thoughts.

1. The tops of the French ships were filled with riflemen, like those of
the enemy’s ships.

2. The killing by Orlando, of the wrestler, was indirectly due to a plot
against his brother, which Oliver invented.

3. I hardly ever remember to have heard such music.

4. I never remember to have seen him. [Here it is better to recast the
sentence than to change the position of _never_.]

5. The lad managed a bronco pony, very vicious and dangerous, when only

6. Wanted, a hostler to take care of a horse, of a religious turn of mind.

7. After a brief rest Blondin set out again with “Tom Sayers,” and
accomplished the feat he had undertaken without a hitch.

This week will see the last times of “The Rogue’s Comedy,” as next season
Mr. Willard will play the new play of Henry Arthur Jones entitled “The
Physician” exclusively.

II. _Only_, and _not only_, usually belong directly before the word

=Oral Exercise.=—Insert _only_ in the proper blank.

1. Browning —— wrote —— a few poems for boys.

2. She —— breathed —— the name; but we heard it.

3. We —— received his letter, —— this morning.

4. He —— gave —— five cents —— to the church.

III. Avoid the Janus-clause; the Janus-phrase; the Janus-adverb or
adjective. The Latin god Janus had two faces, one looking back, the other
ahead. Avoid putting a modifier where it becomes double-faced,—where it
may be taken either with the preceding idea or with the following idea.

=Oral Exercise.=—So change the position of the double-faced modifiers
that their allegiance will be known.

1. There is no doubt that Milton gave Dryden permission to paraphrase
Paradise Lost; Dryden did imitate Milton as a matter of fact not very

2. There can be no doubt that he quarrelled,—that he fought indeed
vigorously. He reappeared at least with a black eye.

3. She will sing in any case charmingly; her training has been admirable.

4. As Hazlitt says, in his book of English proverbs, where no fault is,
there needs no pardon.

IV. Avoid putting an adverb between the parts of an infinitive,—between
the _to_ and the verb. Some reputable writers approve this construction;
still, the better order is to place the modifier before or after the
whole infinitive. “Clearly to see,” or “To see clearly,” is better than
“To clearly see.” This error is called the _cleft infinitive_.

=Concord of Subject and Predicate.=

1. A collective noun takes a singular verb if the group of objects is
thought of as a whole: “The United States is coining gold and silver.”
The collective noun takes a plural verb if each separate member of the
group is thought of: “The United States are firmly bound together in one

2. When two subject nouns are so closely related in thought that they
seem to mean one thing, the verb is in the singular: “His courage and
bravery is well approved.”

3. In writing a long sentence, glance back at the number of the subject
before you write the verb. A plural near the verb often leads one to
forget that the subject is singular. Thus: “The great number of the crows
that settle nightly in the grove and fill the air with their cries, makes
[not _make_] the place a bedlam.”

4. When a singular subject precedes a parenthetical phrase, the former
reaches over the head of the latter, and makes the verb singular. This
rule holds even when the parenthesis is introduced by _with_. Thus:
“Napoleon, with all his army, was on the march.”

5. _Either_, _neither_, when used as distributive conjunctions, take
a singular verb. Mr. Carpenter[15] gives this instance of the error:
“Neither Senators Dawes nor Hoar were in their seats to-day.” How shall
the sentence be changed to distribute the senators properly?

6. If two subjects connected by _either—or_, etc., differ in person, it
is possible to make the verb agree with the subject nearest; as “Neither
she nor you are to blame in this; either I or he is to blame.” But this
construction is awkward. Avoid the difference in person, or else say,
“Neither she is to blame, nor are you; either he is to blame, or I am.”

7. _Each_, _every_, _either_, _neither_, when used as pronouns, always
take a singular verb. “Each of us knows; neither of us is ignorant.”

8. _None_ takes either a singular or a plural verb. It is originally _no
one_, and many careful writers prefer to keep the singular with it.

=Concord of Adjective (or Participle) and Noun.=

1. There is an old phrase, _these kind_, which, though permitted a
century ago, was essentially ungrammatical, and is not allowed to-day.
Say, _this kind_, _that kind_, etc.

2. (_a_) Every participle, like every adjective, must agree with its
noun in person and number. But furthermore, every participle has an
indisputable right to have something to agree with. Too often the poor
word is left dangling in mid air. _Shun the unrelated participle and
the misrelated participle._ The best of us are only too prone to such
slips as this: “Coming up stairs, it was seen that the great window
fell,” instead of, “Coming up stairs, we saw the great window fall.” Or
this: “Coming up stairs, the window fell on him,” where the _coming_ may
belong to the _window_ or to the _him_. In the first of the two incorrect
sentences the participle is unrelated; in the second it is misrelated, or
at least ambiguously related.

(_b_) Care should be taken not to use a participle when a verbal noun in
_ing_ is needed. “The fact of _Poe being_ intemperate should not blind
us to the fact of his genius,” is wrong for “The fact of _Poe’s being_
intemperate,” etc.

3. Particularly avoid a singular adjective with a plural noun, in such
expressions as, “A long way” [not _ways_]. Note here that _sidewise_, not
_sideways_, is correct.

=Concord of Pronoun and Antecedent.=

1. It should be remembered that every singular antecedent takes a
singular pronoun. “Everybody came forward and laid _his_ contribution on
the table”—not “_their_ contribution.”

2. Before writing the verb of a relative clause, think whether the
antecedent is singular or plural. “Her voice is one of the sweetest that
have [not _has_] been heard in this town.”

3. When a number of persons, men and women, are spoken of distributively,
the pronouns _he_ and _his_ are proper forms of reference—not _their_,
not _his or her_. “The audience rose and each person waved _his_
applause” would be correct, even if there were ten ladies to each man.
The _he_ or _his_ may here be called the _neutral_ pronoun. What pronouns
should fill the blanks in the following sentence? “Let every man and
woman who would like to join our picnic betake —— to the pier at three
o’clock, and give —— no anxiety about —— lunch; —— will find plenty of
sandwiches and cake and coffee on the picnic-boat.”

Such expressions as “every man and woman” are however undesirable
whenever the neutral pronoun is to be used. A neutral antecedent, like
_every person_, _everybody_, _every one_, is preferable.

4. When the indefinite pronoun _one_ is used, there is often ambiguity
in referring to it later by _he_, _his_, etc. Repeat the _one_. Thus,
“One does not always know one’s own mind.” Better still, use an
expression like the indefinite _you_, or, _a person_, which has its own
representative among the pronouns. Thus, “A person doesn’t always know
his own mind.”

5. Use sparingly, if at all, the Latin construction—_which fact_, _which
idea_, etc. Say rather, _a fact which_, etc. E.g. “He was slightly deaf,
_a misfortune which_ he bore without whimpering.”

6. Avoid the Latin construction that makes _which_ refer to the idea
of a whole clause; it is a clumsy fashion. Example, “He said that he
always doted on Shakespeare—_which_ I, for one, didn’t believe, because
I know the fellow.” There is nothing here for _which_ to tie to; it is
a relative without anything to which to relate. Rather a better way is
to discard the relative clause, substituting _and_ with a demonstrative.
Thus, “He bowed politely, _which_ set us all at ease,” becomes, “He bowed
politely, _and this_ set us all at ease.” The _this_ is allowed by our
idiom to refer to the clause, though the construction is still vague. It
is best to hunt up a good synonym for the idea of the preceding clause:
“He bowed politely, and this _courtesy_ set us all at ease.” But it is
not necessary to discard the relative clause. A little ingenuity will
enable one to find and insert just before the relative an appositive to
the clause. Into each of the following sentences slip an appropriate
appositive chosen from the following list: _a fact_, _an idea_, _a task_,
_a statement_, _an assertion_, _a notion_, _an excuse_, _a fancy_, _a
belief_, _a hyperbole_, _a prevarication_, _a remedy_.

(_a_) Mr. Ignatius Donnelly thinks that Bacon wrote Shakespeare, —— which
ought not to bother the student who likes Romeo and Juliet.

(_b_) Mame told father that there were a thousand cats in the back yard,
—— which, according to father, meant our cat and another.

(_c_) He has undertaken to learn two hard lessons in one hour, —— which
will probably prove too much for the lad.

(_d_) He proposes to cut the hand off, —— which seems rather cruel.

=Concord of Cases.=

Subject and complement of an intransitive verb agree in case.

1. The complement of an intransitive verb in a finite mode is in the
nominative case. “It’s I” [not _me_]. “I am he.” “I thought it was he.”

2. If the subject of an infinitive is in the objective case, the
complement is in the same case. “I thought it to be him” [not _he_]. But,
“It was thought to be he.”

=Concord of Tenses.=

1. In writing the verb of a subordinate clause, be sure that its tense
shall show just what you wish it to show—whether the _same_ time as that
of the principal verb, or _earlier_ time, or _later_ time. For example:—

_The same time._—“He did not think himself to be much of a poet.”

_Earlier time._—“He did not think that he had been much of a poet.” “He
was sorry not to have been much of a poet.” “Yesterday, when John spoke
of the matter, I should have liked to have had some experience that I
might have used in advising him.”

_Later time._—“I wanted to go” [not _to have gone_]. “I had intended to
go.” “I should have liked to go.”

=Oral Exercise.=—Correct the errors in concord of tenses, explaining each

1. Where did you say St. Peter’s was?

2. Is it warm out of doors? I should say it was.

3. I fully intended to have met you at the concert.


1. “He invited him and _I_,” is not an unheard-of blunder. People often
needlessly shrink from saying a correct sentence like this—“He invited
him and me”—and will even insert the full names of _him_ and _me_ rather
than out with the right case of the pronoun.

2. In asking a question, think whether _who_ or _whom_ is required.
“_Whom_ did you see?” but, “_Who_ was it that you saw?”

3. _Let_ governs the objective case, quite as any other active verb. “Let
John and me go.”

4. An error often occurs in the case of the relative after a verb of
saying, thinking, telling, and the like. “Franklin’s Autobiography
is the work of a man _whom_ I should think would be known to every
American.” The _whom_ is wrong for _who_. Had the writer set off “I
should think” by commas, he would have seen the mistake.

5. How should the following newspaper sentence be corrected? “He stated
that the offering was $101,500, an amount upon which he would stake his
honor would all be paid up.”

=On the Reference of Pronouns.=

1. In the use of pronouns one cannot be too careful that each refers
to the right person. “Farmer Jones called on his neighbor and told him
that his cows were in his pasture,” leaves us in doubt whether Farmer
Jones came to make a complaint or an apology. How should the sentence be
constructed to remove the ambiguity? The following delicious error has
been much quoted: “If fresh milk does not seem to agree with the child,
boil it.” How change the sentence to save the child’s life?

2. Sometimes a demonstrative can be used to better advantage than a
personal pronoun. “They lent us their horses for the afternoon and these
[not _they_] took us a long way out into the country.”

3. Sometimes it is better to repeat the antecedent, varying it by simple
synonyms, than to use any pronoun. Not, “He gave him his word of honor,
that whenever he should see his brother in London, he would do all for
him that he ought to do for an old comrade’s brother.” Rather thus:
“He gave his friend his word of honor, that whenever he should see the
latter’s brother in London, he would do for the boy all that a man ought
to do for the brother of an old comrade.”

4. Acquire a habit of writing, “It is he,” or “It’s he,” instead of “He
is the one.” This latter phrase is permissible in colloquial speech,
where its clumsiness is not much felt. The correct expression may
sometimes seem over-precise. But a person of tact ought to be able to
speak correctly without seeming affected.

=Conjunctions and Prepositions.=

1. Shall we say “as large as,” “not as large as,” etc.? The first
expression is right. But after a negative, use _so_ for a correlative to
_as_: “not _so_ large as.”

2. In general be careful not to omit necessary conjunctions. What should
be supplied in the following sentence? and how should the order be
changed? “Henty is better known but not so interesting to older boys as

3. _And which_, _and who_, etc., are wrong for _which_, _who_, etc., when
no relative has previously been used. Correct the following: “Irving, the
historian, and whom we honor as our first writer of prose tales, is a
prime favorite of us all.”

4. _Like_ is not a conjunction. It is incorrect to say, “Do like I do.”
This wrong use of _like_ is habitual in many parts of our country, and
a native of any one of these districts has to watch himself narrowly
to acquire the habit of using _as_ for _like_. It is, however, correct
enough to say, “She talks _like him_.” Here _like_ is an adjective
governing what was the dative case, and the phrase _like him_ has the
value of an adverb.

5. _Different to_ is wrong for _different from_. This error, though
rarely to be found in America, is habitual in England. The commoner
American error is _different than_. This mistake frequently occurs when
the comparative degree has previously been used. _E.g._ “This last kind
of apple is different and sweeter than the first.” The better form is:
“This last kind of apple is different from the first, and sweeter.” _Do
not split the particles_, by saying, “This kind of apple is different
from and sweeter than the first.”

=Adverb or Adjective?=

1. There is a group of words—verbs of sensation and the like, _look_,
_sound_, _feel_, _smell_, _taste_, _appear_, _seem_—which take an
adjective to complete their meaning. “She looks _sweet_,” “It tastes
_sweet_,” “She _seems_ happy,” are common and correct ways of speaking.
_Notice that here something of the same idea can be given by saying_,
“She _is_ sweet,” “It _is_ sweet,” “She _is_ happy.” The _sweet_ idea
or the _happy_ idea describes the subject, the person, not the verb. Of
course, one might write a sentence in which the _sweet_ idea would tell
the way a given act was done. “She looked sweetly” would imply that she
was gazing sweetly at something or somebody.

But here must be noted an exception or two. (_a_) The word _bad_ has two
senses: moral badness, and badness that is not moral—badness of health,
for instance. If I say “I feel bad,” the bad seems to mean moral badness:
_i.e._ “I _am_ bad.” It is therefore permissible to break the rule and
apply _badly_ to physical feeling. “I feel badly” is a common expression
for “I feel sick”; and by the exception to the rule is correct. Which
is better in the following sentence—_bad_ or _badly_? “It sounds —— to
hear a young man swear.” (_b_) There are a few cases where the adverb is
retained when the verb is not felt as acting. “The report sounds well,”
certainly does not mean that the report is in good health; but it is
certainly good English. Similarly we have: “She appears well in company.”

It is to be kept in mind that _ill_ and _well_ are not always adverbs.
They are often adjectives; and if one says “I feel ill,” or “I feel
well,” one is using the adjective _ill_ or the adjective _well_.

=Oral Exercise.=—Which of the italicized words is preferable in the
following sentences? (_a_) “This old stern-wheel boat rides over the
waves quite as _easy_ (_easily_) as any propeller, if not _easier_
(_more easily_).” (_b_) “This old chaise rides as _easy_ (_easily_) as
any modern one.” (_c_) “An old shoe feels _easy_ (_easily_).” (_d_) “As
Billings read that passage it sounded _different_ (_differently_) from
the way in which the Colonel read it.” (_e_) “Do you feel _good_ (_well_)
after your night’s rest?” (_f_) “I’ve been to church and, for me, really
feel _good_ (_well_).” (_g_) “He voted _independently_ (_independent_).”
(_h_) “Home, sweet home” sounds _well_ (_good_) to the ears of the
American abroad.

=Shall or Will.=—Most Americans, like most Scotchmen, use the word _will_
too frequently, to the neglect of _shall_.

_Shall_ is from Old English _sceal_ (skayʹ-al) and once meant _owe_,
_be obliged_. It still may mean the same thing, when not used as a mere
auxiliary. That is, _should_ often means _ought_, which was once the
past tense of _owe_. It still can mean “to be obliged.” “You shall,” “he
shall,” are expressions that imply obligation, imposed by the speaker.
“I shall at last die” still has in it the idea of being compelled. But
this phrase illustrates happily one way by which _shall_ with the first
person has come to be felt as a mere future. Nearly always to-day _I
shall_ names a voluntary act; but the volition is usually not emphasized;
the speaker has usually made up his mind before he says _I shall_, and
the words simply foretell the future act. “I shall be there” incidentally
announces the speaker’s intention, but the chief thing it announces is
that the speaker will _be there_. It is probably the future fact that is
of interest to his friends. _Ordinarily, therefore_, shall _in the first
person means futurity more than it means volition._

_Will_ is from _wilian_ (wilʹ-yan), meaning _to wish_, _to will_. It
frequently means that to-day, though in the second and third persons it
is also used for the simple future. “I will” always implies volition. I
will _implies either deliberate intention, distinct wish, or distinct
willingness_. “I will go” means “I am determined to go,” or, “I wish to
go,” or, “I am willing to go.” Frequently such a phrase implies that
there is opposition or an obstacle. “You will,” “they will,” usually
lack the volitive idea; they simply foretell that which _you_, _they_,
are about to do. Yet _you will_, _he will_, _they will_ may still mean
_you are determined_, etc., if applied to a being that has the power of
choice. Here one has but to emphasize the _will_, and the old meaning
is brought back. Thus: “He _will_ persist in doing so, though all his
friends deplore it.”

Our first rule will accordingly be as follows: _To indicate mere
futurity, use shall in the first person, will in the second and third._
Examples: “I shall be glad to come. You and the others will find me on
hand at the pier.” So far, so good. But note that this rule also applies
when the speaker is made to report his own words in indirect narrative.
“Abner _says_ that he _shall_ be glad to come, and that you and the
others _will_ find him on hand at the pier.” Just so if the indirect
discourse is in the _past_, and it is still the speaker who reports his
own words. “Abner _said_ that he _should_ be glad to come, and that you
and the others _would_ find him at the pier.” All this seems sensible
enough, for the speaker is merely made to foretell his own future act.
The rule is too often broken. “Abner said he was afraid he’d miss the
boat.” Here the contraction _he’d_ stands (as always) for _he would_, a
form that is wrong in this place for _he should_.

The same rule applies when the indirect narrative is merely implied; that
is, when instead of such a word as _say_ we have _think_, or _fear_, or
_believe_. “Luke thinks he _shall_ miss his boat,” is correct; so is,
“Luke feared he _should_ miss the boat.”

Suppose, now, it is no longer what Luke said about his own future act,
but what somebody else said about it. “Evarts remarked that Luke was
ready and _would_ hurry to the pier; but Evarts feared that Luke _would_
miss the boat.” The _shall_ gives place naturally enough to _will_.
_After verbs of saying, thinking, telling, and the like, shall (or
should) is the proper auxiliary if the future act is foretold by the

Now we are ready to ask how these words should be used in questions. A
very simple rule is enough for most purposes: _In the second and third
persons, use in the question the form you expect in the answer._

“Shall you be at the pier by three, Abner?” Abner replies, “I certainly
shall.” “Will you kindly bring my lunch with you? the cook has it ready.”
“I will, with great pleasure.”

The rule holds when applied to indirect discourse. Thus: “Abner’s aunt
asked him whether he _should_ be at the pier by three. Abner replied that
he _should_. Then she wanted to know if he _would_ kindly bring her lunch
along; Abner promised that he _would_.”

If a question is put in the first person, _shall_ often asks for
instructions. “_Shall_ I go?” But if mere information is asked, _shall_
is still the form: “_Shall_ I be required to do all this?” “Yes, I fear
you will.” Briefly, then, _for a question in the first person always use_

=Oral Exercise.=—Where blanks appear in the following sentences insert
the right auxiliary. Correct any misuse of auxiliaries.

1. Sometimes an Irishman, sometimes a Frenchman, is credited with this
remark: “I will be drowned; nobody shall help me.”

2. I —— be delighted to see you with us.

3. I —— be obliged if you —— lend me your pencil.

4. The director thinks he —— be able to speak well of that student, if
the boy —— need a good word.

5. —— you be content if you get to college?

6. —— I be permitted to say that you —— see him before anything is done?

7. Jim Hawkins was mortally afraid that he —— be killed by Long John
Silver; and in turn Long John began to fear that Jim —— be the death of

8. —— you like some bread? [Here _should_ is the right word; _to like_ is
a word of volition, and it does not need the volitive auxiliary _would_.]

9. —— you mind my asking where you bought that jersey?

10. His father insisted that he —— stick to the task; and the son
afterwards seemed glad of the fact, and asked whether he —— do some more
work of the same sort.

11. If we were better, we —— be happier.

12. In which sentence can a contraction of _he would_ be used? (_a_) He
said —— be glad to accept. (_b_) Luther declared —— go to a certain city,
though there were as many devils there as tiles on the housetops.

13. —— I be asked to go? Yes, you will.

14. Of whom —— I be afraid?

=Matters of Etymology.=

1. Good usage recommends that we say “the schools of Chicago” rather
than “Chicago’s schools”; “the cause of the accident” rather than “the
accident’s cause.” In other words, it recommends that we save the
possessive in _’s_ (or Saxon genitive) for living beings. For things, for
abstract ideas, for cities—everything except beings—the possessive in
_of_ (or Norman genitive) is preferred. Thus we say, “Napoleon’s hat,”
and “the rim of Napoleon’s hat,” instead of “Napoleon’s hat’s rim.” The
newspapers, perhaps to save space, have fallen into the habit of talking
about “Chicago’s interests,” “Evanston’s water-works,” “America’s navy,”
etc.; but it is better not to imitate these expressions.[16] Such matters
are matters, not of right and wrong, but of better and worse.

2. While _got_ is usually better than _gotten_ as a past participle, the
two words have, in one case, different meanings. “I have got my lesson”
is perhaps preferable to “I have gotten my lesson.” But “I have got to be
a scholar” means, “I must be a scholar”; while, “I have gotten to be a
scholar” is, well,—perhaps a boast.

3. Good use prescribes _he drank_, but _he has drunk_ [not, _he has

4. _Anybody else’s_, or _anybody’s else_—which is in better use? For
most places, the former. Thus: “Anybody else’s dog would have been shot
for his sheep-stealing.” But _anybody’s else_ is often preferable at
the end of the clause or sentence. Thus: “If the dog had been anybody
else’s it would have been shot; unfortunately it was nobody’s else.” The
distinction has ceased to be a matter of logic, and become a matter of
euphony. Of course, _else_ is strictly an adjective, and might seem to
be exempt from the possessive case. But adjectives have always had a way
of growing fast to nouns and becoming part of them: _e.g._ sweetbriar,
Redfern, Goodman. Though _else_ is not written as a part of the noun
_anybody_ (which is already long enough), it is often felt as a part of
the noun. What you _think_ is not always _anybody + else_; it is often,
_anybodyelse_. As a matter of fact, the word _anybody_ itself is really
two words grown together till we do not think of them as adjective + noun.

=Oral Exercise in Review.=—Below are given a number of sentences from
Hughes’s _Tom Brown’s School Days_, a book which every one likes for
its racy Saxon style, but which is not always beyond reproach in
sentence-structure. Most, however, of the sentences given below were
correctly written. _Examine the passages, and decide as to which of the
bracketed words should be omitted. When several words are italicized,
correct the order of them._

1. Tom’s nurse was one who took in her instruction very slowly—she
seemed to have two left hands and no head; and so Mrs. Brown kept her on
longer than usual, that [she, the girl] might expend her awkwardness and
forgetfulness upon those who would not judge and punish [her, the girl]
too strictly for them.

2. It had been the immemorial habit of the village [either] to [either]
christen children [either] by Bible names or [by] those of the cardinal
and other virtues.

3. He was a hearty, strong boy from the first, given to fighting [with
and escaping from his nurse, with his nurse and escaping from her]
and fraternizing with all [of] the village boys, with whom he made
expeditions all around the neighborhood.

4. You shall hear at once what sort of [a] folk the Browns are, [at
least] my branch of them [at least]; and then if you don’t like the sort,
why cut the concern at once, and let you and [I, me] cry quits before
either of us can grumble at the other.

5. For a short time after a boy has taken up [such] a life [as, like]
Arnold would have urged upon him, he has a hard time of it. He finds his
judgment often at fault, his body and intellect running away with him
into all sorts of pitfalls, and [he, himself] coming down with a crash.

6. “No, Pompey, I must preach whenever I see a chance of being listened
to, [which, and this] I never did before.”

7. And now, my boys, you [who, whom] I want to get for readers, have you
had enough? [Will, shall] you give in at once, and say you’re convinced,
and let me begin my story, or will you have more of it? Remember, I’ve
[only] been over [only] a little bit of a hillside yet—what you could
ride round easily on your ponies in an hour.

8. To-day, however, [being, being the day of] the school-house match,
none of the school-house præpostors [stay, stays] by the door to watch
for truants of their side; there is _carte blanche_ to the school-house
fags to go where they like: “They trust to our honor,” as East proudly
informs Tom; “they know [very well] that no school-house boy would cut
the match [very well]. If he did [we’d, we should] very soon cut him, I
can tell you.”

9. Passing along the Ridgeway to the west for about a mile, [we come to,
appears] a little clump of young beech and firs, with a growth of thorn
and privet underwood.

10. I [only] know [only] two English neighborhoods thoroughly, and [in
each] within a circle of five miles, [within each] there is enough of
interest and beauty to last any reasonable man his life. I believe this
to be the case [almost] throughout the country [almost]; but each has
a special attraction, and [neither, none] can be richer than the one I
am speaking of and going to [very particularly] introduce to you [very

11. It’s very odd [how, that] almost all English boys love danger.

12. He wore an old full-bottomed wig, the gift of some dandy old Brown
whom he had [in the middle of the last century] valeted [in the middle
of the last century], [which habiliment, a habiliment which] Master Tom
looked upon with considerable respect, not to say fear.

13. [It was he, He was the one] who bent the first pin with which Tom
extracted his first stickleback out of [“Pebbly Brook,”] the little
stream which ran through the village, [“Pebbly Brook”]. The first
stickleback was a splendid fellow, with fabulous red and blue gills. Tom
kept him in a small basin till the day of [his, the fish’s] death, and
became a fisherman from that day.

14. His nurse told him that those good-natured looking women were in the
constant habit of enticing children into the barges and taking [them,
these] up to London and selling them, [which, a story which] Tom wouldn’t

15. “I say,” said East, as soon as he [got, had gotten] his wind, looking
with much increased respect at Tom, “you [ain’t, you’re not, aren’t, are
not] a bad scud, not by [no, any] means.”

16. But who [shall, will] tell the joy of the next morning, when the
church bells were ringing a merry peal, and [in the servants’ hall] old
Benjy appeared [in the servants’ hall] resplendent in a long blue coat
and brass buttons [in the servants’ hall], and a pair of old yellow
buckskins and top-boots, which he had cleaned _for and inherited from
Tom’s grandfather_.

17. So, as we are going [to at any rate, at any rate to] see Tom Brown
through his boyhood, [supposing, if] we never get any further, [which,
though] (if you show a proper sense of the value of this history, there
is no knowing but [that, what] we may), let us have a look at the life
and environments of the child.

18. He felt [like, as if] he had been severely beaten all down his back,
the natural result of his performance at his first match.

19. “And now come in and see my study; we [shall, will] have just time
before dinner; and afterwards, before calling over, [we’ll, we shall] do
the close.”

20. It [certainly] wasn’t very large [certainly], being about six feet
long by four broad. It couldn’t be called light, as there [was, were]
bars and a grating to the window; [which] little precautions [which] were
necessary in the studies on the ground floor looking out into the close,
to prevent the exit of small boys [after locking up], and the entrance of
contraband articles [after locking up.]

21. And now, [having broken my resolution never to write a Preface,]
there are just two or three things which I [would, should] like to say a
word about [having broken my resolution never to write a Preface].

22. My dear boys, old and young, you who have belonged, [or do belong,]
to other schools and other houses, don’t begin throwing my poor little
book about the room, and abusing [me and it] [it and I], and vowing[17]
you’ll read no more when you get to this point. I allow you’ve
provocation for it. But, come now, [would, should] you, any of you, give
a fig for a fellow who _didn’t believe in, and stand up for his own house
and his own school_? You know you [wouldn’t, shouldn’t]. Then don’t
object to my cracking up the old school-house, Rugby. Haven’t I a right
to do it, when I’m taking all the trouble of writing this true history
for all your benefits? If [you’re not, you ain’t] satisfied, go and write
the history [of your own houses] in your own times [of your own houses]
and say all you know for your own schools and houses, [provided it’s
true,] and [I’ll, I shall] read it without abusing you [provided it’s

23. All the way up to London he had pondered what he [would, should] say
to Tom [by way of parting advice], something that the boy could keep in
his head ready for use, [by way of parting advice].

24. “I say, Green,” Snooks began one night, “[ain’t, isn’t] that new boy,
Harrison, your fag?”

“Yes; why?”

“Oh, I know something of him at home, and [would, should] like to excuse
him—will you swap?”

“[Who, Whom] will you give me?”

“Well, let’s see; there’s Willis, Johnson—no, that won’t do. Yes, I have
it—there’s young East, I’ll give you him.”

“Don’t you wish you may get it?” replied Green. “I’ll tell you what I’ll
do—I’ll give you [if you like] two for Willis [if you like].”

“[Whom, Who] then?” asked Snooks.

“Hall and Brown.”

“[Shouldn’t, Wouldn’t] have ’em at a gift.”

25. By keeping out of bounds [all day], or at all events out of the house
and quadrangle, [all day,] and [carefully] barring themselves [carefully]
in at night, East and Tom managed to hold on without feeling very
[miserably, miserable]; but it was as much as they could do.

26. His friends at home, [hadn’t put him into tails] having regard,
I suppose, to his age, and not to his size and place in the school,
[hadn’t put him into tails]; and [even] his jackets were always too small
[even]; and he had a talent for destroying clothes, and making himself
look [shabbily, shabby].

=Oral Review-Exercise.=—Correct the following sentences, after naming
each fault.

1. Belonging to the modern realistic school of novelists, his address was
an able defence of their tenets.

2. It is not probable that the scholars will yet give him a very lofty
place, and they will be disinclined to call his books literature, but the
division of sentiment as to their exact standing will not detract from
the brilliancy of the future they promise.

3. “Here you are, a great, hulking fellow, endowed by providence with
magnificent strength, instead of which you go about stealing nuts.”

4. Cæsar and all his legions was encamped around the city, and the
barbarians knew well enough it was them they had to fight, them the
soldiers of the Roman god-like man.

5. “It wasn’t us! it wasn’t us! We wasn’t there, we warnt.”

6. Neither of the adventurers, Olson and Lefevre, saw their native land

7. He sat the cage down; and the bird cried, between each mouthful,
“Polly wants a cracker.”

8. Like Lucretius, his pleasure was in watching the sea fight from a
secure place.

9. Masquerading under the stage name of Viola Violet, there was a gasp of
astonishment when she made her first entrance and was recognized by her
many friends in the audience.

10. Lacking practice in what might be called the technique of acting,
there was now and then some restraint in pose and gesture, and the
essential element of artistic repose was lacking.

11. Passengers are warned not to get off the train while in motion.

12. Without stopping to fully describe the construction of this aural
instrument, suffice it to say, that it is small and compact, and can be
carried in the pocket, weighing about two ounces, constructed mostly of

13. When I go back to Cuba again I should like to go with 10,000
interpreters instead of one, all in United States uniforms, and who would
talk fast and to the point and would not expect or wait for an answer.

14. Passing a field where brother David was sowing rye, several merry
voices called out, “How are you, Mr. Newton?”

15. Mr. Adams positively declines to hang cards over the edges of the
boxes at the grand opera with the names of those present in large type.

16. Eva picked up the letter from the hall table, looked quickly round
at the closed hall door, at the closed dining-room door, and at the baize
door that led to the kitchen stairs—and kissed it.

17. Talking the other day with a friend (the late Mr. Keats) about Dante,
he observed that whenever so great a poet told us anything in addition
or continuation of an ancient story, he had a right to be regarded as
classical authority.

18. Alcibiades told the Spartan envoys that if they would say to the
Athenians that their power was limited and that they could only listen
and then tell the Spartans what they heard that he would see that the
Athenians did not join the alliance: so when the ambassadors went there
they did as Alcibiades said and Alcibiades got up and said, that they
could not tell two things alike and the Athenians would not have anything
more to do with them and they joined the alliance.

19. Having given this department-store question much careful thought I
have decided a more dangerous monopoly could not be found, for reasons
as follows: First, they tend to centralize business, which is dangerous,
and should not exist if we wish our city to grow and thereby equalize
taxation. Second, the continuous advertising of the entire stock of an
unfortunate merchant on sale in these stores at 33 cents on the dollar is
not encouraging to strangers who visit us.



=The Sentence not its own Master.=—Everybody learns at an early age some
such definition as this: A sentence is the expression of a complete
thought in words. But many students who have just left the grammar school
are not very clear in their own minds as to what the definition means.
When they come to write sentences they find it hard to decide what
constitutes a complete thought. They know what the test of grammatical
completeness is—the sentence must have a subject and a predicate; but
they are hazy as to when the sentence is logically complete. Frankly, the
most accomplished writers are sometimes troubled to decide this question.
Having two ideas, they are not sure whether these ought to stand in
separate sentences, or in semicolon clauses. There is no magic rule; but
by the right kind of practice one may become perfectly sure, in nine
cases out of ten, of the best course to take.

Perhaps the easiest way to approach the matter is to remember that the
sentence is only a part of a larger unit,—the paragraph. A paragraph is
either a miniature composition, or a main part of a short composition.
In long works, the _chapter_ is the short composition of which the
paragraphs are the divisions. The sentence, in turn, is a main part of
the paragraph. Whether a sentence should be long or short depends on the
part it plays in the paragraph.

To make this statement plain, we need consider only the paragraph that
stands alone, a miniature composition. Whatever be the number of its
sentences, each forms a main part or step in the development of the
paragraph-thought. All are concerned with _explaining_ the same thing;
each contributes something to the idea. If there is a topic sentence and
this be likened to a root, the other sentences are like the stalks and
leaves which grow from the root.

Note how each of the following miniature compositions[18] has a root,
from which the rest of the paragraph springs necessarily.

    1. Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or
    animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some
    are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest, and
    upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.—H.

    2. There are three wicks ... to the lamp of a man’s life;
    brain, blood, and breath. Press the brain a little, its
    light goes out, followed by both the others. Stop the heart a
    minute, and out go all three of the wicks. Choke the air out
    of the lungs, and presently the fluid ceases to supply the
    other centres of flame, and all is soon stagnation, cold, and
    darkness.—DR. HOLMES.

Consider the parts of the paragraphs just given. Mr. Beecher has two
sentences, the second grouping together the details which explain the
first. But the first sentence is made much shorter than the second,
because, word for word, it is to be more emphatic. The second is the
longer, because no one of the separate clauses seemed to the writer
important enough to stand alone. The clauses of detail taken together
form one main division of the paragraph. The short sentence that states
the gist of the paragraph is another main division. In Dr. Holmes’s brief
parable, there are four sentences. Three of them develop the general idea
stated in the first. Dr. Holmes cannot condense these three into one
explanatory sentence, as Beecher does; he has too much to say. By giving
a sentence to each of the three “wicks,” he shows that he considers them
all approximately equal in importance.

Study now another paragraph:—

    It is saying less than the truth to affirm that an excellent
    book (and the remark holds almost equally good of a Raphael
    as of a Milton) is like a well-chosen and well-tended fruit
    tree. Its fruits are not of one season only. With the due and
    natural intervals, we may recur to it year after year, and it
    will supply the same nourishment and the same gratification,
    if only we ourselves return to it with the same healthful

In this passage from Coleridge the first sentence is the root of the
paragraph; ‘a book is like a fruit tree.’ But the second sentence is made
shorter than the first, because it is to state the pith of the paragraph
more clearly and emphatically than did the first. The meaning of the
first sentence is a little vague; how a book is like a fruit tree, it
does not say. The second sentence does say how. Note, then, that a short
sentence is always emphatic, and that accordingly it should be used to
state something that is important in the paragraph.

Study also the following paragraph:—

    Our chief want in life, is somebody who shall make us do what
    we can. This is the service of a friend. With him we are easily
    great. There is a sublime attraction in him to whatever virtue
    is in us. How he flings wide the doors of existence! What
    questions we ask of him! what an understanding we have! how few
    words are needed! It is the only real society.—EMERSON.

In this paragraph of Emerson’s, the main ideas are stated in brief
sentences, and the summary of the paragraph comes in a sentence of six
short words. But note that in the last sentence except one, the writer
groups three clauses, because the three constitute parts of one main idea
of the paragraph.

Read the following rather abstruse paragraphs, and decide as to which
shows the chief divisions of the whole thought.

    There is, first, the literature of knowledge; and, secondly,
    the literature of power. The function of the first is, to
    teach; the function of the second is, to move; the first is a
    rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the
    mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately, it
    may happen, to the higher understanding or reason, but always
    through affections of pleasure and sympathy.—DE QUINCEY.

    There is, first, the literature of knowledge. And, secondly,
    the literature of power. The function of the first is, to
    teach. The function of the second is, to move. The first is a
    rudder. The second, an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the
    mere discursive understanding. The second speaks ultimately, it
    may happen, to the higher understanding or reason, but always
    through affections of pleasure and sympathy.

From a study of the foregoing selections, it becomes clear that the
sentence is not its own master. It is the servant of the paragraph. The
paragraph, having an idea to give, uses sentences to develop this idea. A
skilful writer is not in haste to crowd into a sentence all of one large,
complex thought. The full expression of that thought is the task of the
paragraph. The sentences are the means by which its parts may be made
clear. The long sentences are for explanatory details; the short ones are
for emphatic summaries or generalizations, and for rapid narrative.

=Sentence Unity.=—I. _A sentence that possesses Unity of Substance
constitutes one main step in the development of the paragraph-idea._ A
main step, as thus employed, usually means a sentence giving one of the
following: (1) the general subject of the paragraph; (2) the general
thought or assertion of the paragraph; (3) the repetition of a preceding
idea in new words; (4) an illustration; (5) a group of particulars or
details; (6) one proof, or term, in a chain of reasoning; (7) a brief
contrast; (8) a cause and an effect; (9) an assertion and a very brief
illustration. It would be absurd to hold these principles of unity
anxiously in mind when one is writing. Having thought them over a little,
and taken to heart the general doctrine that the sentence should be one
main step, the scholar should trust his own sense of unity. The chief
value of any such analysis is that it may help the scholar to give
thought to his own sentences.

II. _A sentence that possesses Unity of Form keeps one coherent structure
throughout, and subordinates unimportant clauses to the important._ Unity
of form does not concern the division of the paragraph into sentences. It
will be considered in Chapter VI., under Well-knit Sentences.

=I. Unity of Substance by Excluding Irrelevant Ideas.=—Perhaps the
first thing that is noticed in reading hasty composition, is that some
sentences are too long. Here is one, written by a lad of fourteen. It
will seem to most readers to be a sentence of infantine simplicity, such
as no high school student is in the slightest danger of perpetrating. My
apology for giving it is that it renders every heterogeneous sentence

    Oliver Orlando’s brother did not like him and when he heard
    that Orlando whipped Charles he was very angry and was going
    to burn Orlando’s house up with him in it, but Adam, Orlando’s
    faithful servant, ran out and told him, so they got all the
    money they had and started for the forest of Arden, when they
    got pretty near there Adam being so old fainted from hunger.

The student who wrote this was not thinking of the parts of his
paragraph; he was thinking merely of the story of _As You Like It_. He
plunged ahead after the story, never looking behind him. The result is a
long, rambling sentence, with several chief thoughts in it. These chief
thoughts are four: (1) Oliver hatefully plots to kill Orlando. (2) Adam
foils Oliver. (3) Adam and Orlando flee. (4) Adam at last faints. The
paragraph therefore divides into four decent, though childish, sentences:—

    Oliver, Orlando’s brother, did not like him; and when he heard
    that Orlando whipped Charles he was very angry, and was going
    to burn Orlando’s house up with him in it. But Adam, Orlando’s
    faithful servant, ran out and told him. So they got together
    all the money they had, and started for the forest of Arden.
    When they got pretty near there, Adam, being so old, fainted
    from hunger.

Periods are now substituted for several of the student’s commas. That
writer had confused these two marks, the comma and the full stop. Such
an error may be called, for mere convenience, _the comma fault_. It is
readily seen that of all possible mistakes in punctuation, the comma
fault is the most serious and elementary. To begin a new sentence after a
comma is an infallible sign of illiteracy.

=Oral Exercise.=—In the following passages, correct the comma fault
wherever it appears. Change the sentences in other ways to give a more
mature tone to them.

1. I don’t know what to do in such a case, it is too hard to decide.
[Change comma to semicolon.]

2. Romeo fell in love at once, he couldn’t help himself, he had never
seen any person so lovable.

3. So they also started for the forest of Arden disguised as a countryman
and woman, when they got there they bought a house that was to be sold at
auction, once while wandering around they met Orlando and Rosalind asked
him if it was he that was spoiling the trees by carving love sentences
on them, and he said it was, so she said he could pretend that she was
Rosalind, so he came there every day until one day he was detained by
seeing a lioness just going to spring on Oliver.

=Theme.=—Write a paragraph of six to ten short sentences. Let the
first state the whole event in brief. Let the others give the steps
of the action tersely, rapidly, emphatically. Revise for spelling and
punctuation. Suggested topics:—

    1. Shooting the rapids.
    2. How the water comes down at the falls.
    3. How the accident happened.
    4. How a log-jam is broken.
    5. The way to shoot a glass ball.
    6. Down a hill on a wheel.
    7. Sights from a car window.
    8. A fall on the ice.
    9. Shooting the “Chutes.”
    10. A runaway.
    11. A flash-light photograph.
    12. How the bird (or game) escaped.
    13. Paul Revere’s ride.
    14. An exciting moment.

=II. Unity of Substance by Including all the Parts of an Idea.=—It has
already been said that a paragraph may be composed of several very short
sentences, each one a main step of the paragraph, each one a unit. For

    A great silence made itself felt. Then, on a sudden, a dry
    sound cracked in the air. The viscount had slapped his
    adversary’s face. Every one rose to interfere. Cards were
    exchanged between the two.

Here, indeed, it may be that the second and third sentences are halves
of one idea, divided to make its parts more emphatic. At all events,
while a sentence may be very short and still constitute a principal
factor of the paragraph, sentences should not be so brief that each is,
so to speak, only half a main thought. A main thought may be composite.
Thus, it is often effective (_a_) to _state_ and to _explain_ an idea
very briefly, within the one sentence; (_b_) to show an extremely
close relation of _cause_ and _effect_, by stating both within the one
sentence; (_c_) to _contrast_ two things very briefly within the one

Now, a child gives his ideas in mere bits; he cannot express the
relations of the bits to each other. For example:—

    My aunt was a very large woman. My uncle was a very thin man.
    He was very delicate. He dwindled. I mean, he got thinner and
    punier every day. And my aunt thought a great deal of him. She
    wished him to get well. She gave him a great deal of medicine.
    She gave him so much that he began to get worse. He finally

This paragraph tells the story of how a woman doctored her husband to
death. The writer has made eight steps in the story, which perhaps has
not really more than four main parts: (1) The _contrast_ between my aunt
and uncle. (2) My uncle “dwindled”—_explained_ by saying he got punier
daily. (3) My aunt’s love, and its _consequence_—her wish for my uncle’s
recovery. (4) The form the wish took,—giving of medicine. (5) The
twofold result,—aggravation of the disease, then death.

The original sentences may be combined into four. In combining them,
what pointing shall be used instead of so many full stops? We may use
commas, but only if we make one clause dependent or join two clauses or
propositions by a conjunction. We may say, for example, “My aunt was
a very large woman, and my uncle a very thin, delicate man.” We have
inserted an _and_; this permits the use of a comma. The result is a
pretty good sentence, having one complex idea,—the contrast between the
ample lady and her slight husband.

But another invaluable means of showing the real _factors_ of the
sentence is the semicolon. The semicolon, as was said in Chapter III.,
is a kind of weak full stop. Nearly always it connects statements that
are unrelated and independent grammatically, but intimately related in
sense. In a way,[19] the semicolon connects sentences, a period separates
sentences. The former sign is priceless to the writer who, when he comes
to expand each idea of his paragraph, finds the structure growing too
complicated. He has merely to place a semicolon and go ahead with a
miniature new sentence, which every reader will understand to be a part
of the logical unit in hand.

If we combine the eight sentences by the help of the semicolon, we get
four, somewhat like the following:—

    My aunt was a very large woman; my uncle, on the contrary,
    was a very thin delicate man. He dwindled; that is, he got
    thinner and punier every day. My aunt thought a good deal of
    him, and naturally she wished him to get well. She gave him,
    accordingly, a great deal of medicine. She gave him so much
    indeed that he began to get worse; and, finally, he died.

Most students do not use the semicolon enough. Two or three semicolon
clauses, however, are sufficient for a very long sentence. If more are
written there is usually danger of encroaching upon the next main thought
of the paragraph. _It is better to write too many short sentences than
too many long ones._

=Oral Exercise.=—Consider the following paragraph, and decide whether the
main thoughts of it are nine, as here indicated, or four. If four, the
thoughts are: (1) Contrast between light above and dark below. (2) The
growing dark. (3) The faint, weird sights and sounds that come to the
narrator. (4) His retreat from the abbey. If, having given the matter
careful thought, you think there should be but four sentences, or if you
think there is any other fault in the punctuation, explain how you would

    The last beams of day were now faintly streaming through the
    painted windows in the high vaults above me. The lower parts of
    the abbey were already wrapped in the obscurity of twilight.
    The chapels and aisles grew darker and darker. The effigies
    of the kings faded into shadows. The marble figures of the
    monuments assumed strange shapes in the uncertain light. The
    evening breeze crept through the aisles like the cold breath
    of the grave. And even the distant footfall of a verger,
    traversing the Poet’s Corner, had something strange and dreary
    in its sound. I slowly retraced my morning’s walk. And as I
    passed out at the portal of the cloisters, the door, closing
    with a jarring noise behind me, filled the whole building with

=Punctuation for Emphasis.=—Below are given three ways of punctuating the
same words. We may suppose the same words to be used by three different

1. General A. twirled his moustache, and spoke softly, in his calm,
unruffled way, as if he were explaining a mathematical problem to a
cadet; he said to the soldier, “You are a coward: you shrink, you dodge,
you hide, you run away when the danger comes.” He spoke meditatively, and
with a little drawl, letting his voice rise at each pause.

2. General B. looked at the soldier steadily, and said in a sharp,
decided tone: “You are a coward: you shrink; you dodge; you hide; you run
away when the danger comes.”

3. General C. sprang up from his camp-stool, angry and indignant. He
spoke explosively and incoherently. “You are a coward! You shrink. You
dodge. You hide. You run away when the danger comes.”

Evidently the punctuation here is largely dependent on the different
states of mind. A calm, logical attitude is reflected in the nice
distinctions conveyed by the colon and comma. An excited mood
over-emphasizes each detail, and makes it a sentence. There is sometimes
need of indignant emphasis on each detail. Perhaps therefore the strict
unity of the sentence may sometimes be sacrificed for the sake of
emphasis. Such a sacrifice however should very rarely be made.

=Oral Exercise.=—Consider the following paragraph as a whole, and
decide whether the sentences represent the main factors of the
paragraph-thought. If you agree that “the song of a young girl’s voice”
is as important in the paragraph as several of the other songs put
together, how can this importance be indicated by punctuation?

    The first thing which Tom saw was the black cedars, high and
    sharp against the rosy dawn. And St. Brandan’s Isle reflected
    double in the still broad silver sea. The wind sung softly in
    the cedars, and the water sung among the caves. The sea-birds
    sung as they streamed out into the ocean, and the land-birds as
    they built among the boughs. And the air was so full of song
    that it stirred St. Brandan and his hermits, as they slumbered
    in the shade. And they moved their good old lips, and sung
    their good old hymn amid their dreams. But among all the songs
    one came across the water more sweet and clear than all, for it
    was the song of a young girl’s voice.

=Theme.=—Write a paragraph of four sentences on one of the following
subjects. Let the first sentence be a general statement. Then let each of
three compound sentences group together details, and so explain the first.

     1. The three parts of a tree, and their characteristics.
     2. The three parts of my town.
     3. A picture I like: its background, its figures, its coloring.
     4. The lunch-room.
     5. A sleeping-car: the car itself, the travellers, the porter.
     6. Uses of a jack-knife: legitimate, illegitimate, doubtful.
     7. Three men representing three kinds of true Americanism.
     8. Three great men, typically English.
     9. Three great men, typically Roman.
    10. Three types of philanthropist.
    11. Three kinds of coward.
    12. Three kinds of hero.
    13. Three noble American women.
    14. Three women who write stories.

=Written Exercise.=—In the seventeenth century there were many authors
whose minds were full of Latin models. These writers tried to build up
in English, an uninflected language, sentences as complex as those of
Cicero. They tried to make the sentence do the work of the paragraph. How
utterly they failed may be seen in the following passages from Defoe and
Lord Clarendon. Considering each selection as a paragraph, rewrite with
reference to unity of substance in the sentence.

    1. There is one thing more remarkable in this parish, and it
    is this: twenty-six sheets of lead, hanging all together,
    were blown off from the middle isle of our church, and were
    carried over the north isle, which is a very large one, without
    touching it; and into the churchyard ten yards’ distance from
    the church; and they were took up all joined together as they
    were on the roof; the plumber told me that the sheets weighed
    each three hundred and a half, one with another. This is what
    is most observable in our parish: but I shall give you an
    account of one thing (which perhaps you may have from other
    hands) that happened in another, called Kingscote, a little
    village about three miles from Tedbury, and seven from us:
    where William Kingscote, Esq., has many woods; among which was
    one grove of very tall trees, being each near eighty foot high;
    the which he greatly valued for the tallness and prospect of
    them, and therefore resolved never to cut them down: but it
    so happened, that six hundred of them, within the compass of
    five acres were wholly blown down; (and supposed to be much at
    the same time) each tree tearing up the ground with its root;
    so that the roots of most of the trees, with the turf and
    earth about them, stood up at least fifteen or sixteen foot
    high; the lying down of which trees is an amazing sight to all

    2. It is true, that as he[20] was of a most incomparable
    gentleness, application, and even submission to good and
    worthy and entire men, so he was naturally (which could not
    be more evident in his place, which objected him to another
    conversation and intermixture than his own election would have
    done) _adversus malos injucundus_; and was so ill a dissembler
    of his dislike and disinclination to ill men, that it was not
    possible for such not to discern it. There was once, in the
    House of Commons, such a declared acceptation of the good
    service an eminent member had done to them, and, as they said,
    to the whole kingdom, that it was moved, he being present,
    “That the speaker might, in the name of the whole house, give
    him thanks, and then that every member might, as a testimony
    of his particular acknowledgment, stir or move his hat towards
    him;” the which (though not ordered) when very many did, the
    lord Falkland (who believed the service itself not to be of
    that moment, and that an honourable and generous person could
    not have stooped to it for any recompence) instead of moving
    his hat, stretched both his arms out, and clasped his hands
    together upon the crown of his hat, and held it close down to
    his head; that all men might see, how odious that flattery was
    to him, and that very approbation of the person, though at the
    same time most popular.—_Clarendon._

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the paragraphs by Hawthorne (p. 106), Macaulay,
Webster, Huxley (pp. 107-8) to see whether the sentences are units in
substance. Note also the different effects produced by long and short

=III. A. Unity of Substance by Keeping to the Point.=—In a hastily
written manuscript will often be found unlike ideas joined together in
one sentence. Some persons are worse than others in this matter, but
everybody, in composing rapidly, is liable to the fault. It is amusingly
easy to fly off at a tangent, if the parts of the paragraph have not
been properly thought out. The mind often works erratically; it is
pursuing a given idea when some word used suggests a different line of
thinking and the train is switched off its track.

Cardinal Newman once wrote a burlesque of this scatter-brained kind
of writing. He pretends that the lad is writing a theme on the topic,
“Fortune favors the brave.” In the midst of it the boy says:—

    Napoleon, too, shows us how little we can rely on fortune;
    but his faults, great as they were, are being redeemed by his
    nephew, Louis Napoleon, who has shown himself very different
    from what was expected, though he has never explained how
    he came to swear to the constitution, and then mounted the
    imperial throne.

Here the writer has not committed the comma fault; he has not begun an
independent sentence after a comma. But he has set down ideas irrelevant
to the sentence, and, in this case, irrelevant even to the theme.

This lack of unity often arises from putting down, as the sentence
proceeds, the details that occur parenthetically to the writer; he
empties his mind upon the paper. Thus:—

    My aunt happened to notice, as she stood looking into the glass
    and thinking how pretty she was, for she was really pretty for
    one so old, that the eyes of a portrait or one of the eyes was
    moving, for my aunt had a large picture of my uncle in her room
    in her country-house, which was in Derbyshire.

=B.= Many a sentence which ends in an irrelevant clause can be made to
show unity by the insertion of some intermediate link that occurred in
the mind but was overlooked in the writing. “Johnson wrote political
articles, and took care that the Whigs did not get the best of it,”
becomes a unit if we supply a few words: “Johnson wrote political
articles, _and in those which referred to parliamentary debates_ took
care that the Whigs did not get the best of it.” In other words, a
sentence must not merely include the _expressed_ parts of a main thought,
as in the second kind of unity of substance; it must _express_ every part
of the main thought.

=Oral Exercise.=—Trim the following sentences into shape, so that each
shall be a unit. If necessary, divide the sentence.

1. He was young; but his foolishness stood him in good stead.

2. The cholera in Egypt is assuming a more loathsome form, among the dead
being Major Roddy Owen, the famous Uganda explorer.

3. The delegates, wearied by the excitement of the past week, have
hurried to their homes, a few remaining for all the business men have
been making unusual displays in spite of the hard times.

4. The new light is placed upon a gas-jet, which supplies the gas to a
curious film, which is made of some chemically prepared substance that
becomes incandescent, not having to be changed oftener than twice a year,
if you are careful with it.

5. The electric lights, which are of the Edison pattern, are not burned
later than six o’clock. They are more convenient than gas, and they come
packed in straw.

=Oral Exercise, in Review.=—Decide whether the following sentences are
units or not. Indicate which form of sentence unity each has or lacks.
Suggest improvements.

1. In the midst of life we are in death, and it has been said that the
tariff is a tax.

2. Jesu! Jesu! Dead!—he drew a good bow;—and dead!—he shot a fine
shoot:—John of Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money on his
head.—_2 Henry IV._, Act III., Sc. 2, l. 48.

3. He had one claw knobbed and the other jagged; and Tom delighted in
watching him hold on to the sea-weed with his knobbed claw, while he cut
up salads with his jagged one, and then put them into his mouth, after
smelling at them, like a monkey, and always the little barnacles threw
out their casting nets and swept the water, and came in for their share
of whatever there was for dinner.

4. We were now thoroughly broken down, but the intense excitement of the
time denied us repose, and after a unique slumber of some three or four
hours’ duration, we arose, as if by preconcert, to make examination of
our treasure.

5. Thou didst swear to me upon a parcel-gilt [partly-gilt] goblet,
sitting in my Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire,
upon Wednesday in Whitsun week, when the prince broke thy head for
likening his father to a singing man of Windsor; thou didst swear to me
then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and make me my lady thy
wife.—_2 Henry IV._, Act II., Sc. 1, l. 94.

6. There was something in the tone of this note which gave me great
uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that of Legrand;
what could he be dreaming of? what new crotchet possessed his excitable
brain? what “business of the highest importance” could _he_ possibly have
to transact? Jupiter’s account of him boded no good; I dreaded lest the
continued pressure of misfortune had, at length, fairly unsettled the
reason of my friend; without a moment’s hesitation, therefore, I prepared
to accompany the negro.

7. And in that country is an old castle, that stands upon a rock, the
which is cleped the Castle of the sparrowhawk, that is beyond the city
of Layas, beside the town of Parsipee, that belongeth to the lordship of
Cruk; that[21] is a rich lord and a good Christian man; where men find
a sparrowhawk upon a perch right fair, and right well made; and a fair
Lady of Fayryre, that keepeth it.—_Mandeville._

8. And thus will the city have more lights on the subject, and what will
be a gain in lighting to the city will be a greater loss in cash, and the
city’s loss will be the Water Works company’s gain, and we are glad of it
so far as the company is concerned, for the company was put off and were
refused a renewal of its contract with the city at terms that were most
reasonable, and the company will also make up for lost time now in good



A sentence may be said to be well-knit if it stands the following
tests. It must have unity of form; freedom from excessive looseness; a
due amount of emphasis; and climax, if climax is required. All these
technical terms need explanation.

=Unity of Form.=—To be a unit of form, a sentence must place subordinate
thoughts in subordinate clauses, and must keep one coherent structure

=Subordination of Clauses.=—In the early years of a language, before it
has been used to express philosophy and science, the structure of the
sentences is loose and simple; it sounds like the speech of a child. Here
is a passage from a book which appeared about 1370, as the _Voyage and
Travels of Sir John Mandeville_. There is some doubt whether or not there
was really a Sir John; but these Travels are very interesting and curious

    And some men say that in the Isle of Lango is yet the daughter
    of Hippocrates, in form and likeness of a great dragon, that
    is a hundred fathom of length, as men say: for I have not seen
    her. And they of the Isles call her, Lady of the Land. And
    she lieth in an old castle, in a cave, and sheweth twice or
    thrice in the year. And she doth no harm to no man, but if men
    do her harm. And she was thus changed and transformed, from
    a fair damsel, into likeness of a dragon, by a goddess, that
    was cleped Diana. And men say, that she shall so endure in
    that form of a dragon, unto the time that a knight come, that
    is so hardy, that dare come to her and kiss her on the mouth:
    and then shall she turn again to her own kind, and be a woman
    again. But after that she shall not live long.

Though much of the naïve, childlike quality of this passage is due to
the archaic phraseology, much also is due to the use of _and_ and _but_
instead of other conjunctions.

In certain kinds of writing it is natural enough that ideas should be
strung together with _and_’s. Thus: “It rained, and hailed, and blew,
and snowed, and froze, and they became weary of winter.” But suppose
that they did not weary of winter. The sentence then would run, “Though
it rained, and hailed, and snowed, and froze, they did not become weary
of winter.” Here we have ceased the mere enumeration of things that
happened, one after the other, and have stated a process of reasoning.
The result is a complex sentence. The ability to construct good complex
sentences means ability to do careful thinking.

In every complex sentence there is some one _proposition_ that ought to
stand out, with the high light upon it. This is the thing we most wish
to say; to change the comparison, it is the heart of the sentence. If
the other parts can be made subordinate to it, the strongest kind of
sentence unity is secured. In the sentence, “It rained; it snowed; it
hailed; they did not weary of winter,” all the assertions are stated as
equally important. But, clearly enough, the last one is the kernel of the
sentence. Therefore the preceding clauses ought to be reduced to their
proper rank by being made dependent.

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the following compound sentences, to decide
whether or not there is in each some important thought to which the
others ought to have been subordinated. Then improve the unity by
reducing the subordinate ideas to dependent clauses having a participle,
or a relative adverb like _when_.

1. Love is blind; it is not for want of eyes.

2. The soldiers were perhaps somewhat sleepy with the sultriness of the
afternoon; they had now laid by much of their vigilance.

3. I spied an honest fellow coming along a lane, and asked him if he had
ever heard of a house called the house of Shaws.

4. The next person I came across was a dapper little man in a beautiful
white wig; I knew well that barbers were great gossips, and I asked him
plainly what kind of a man was Mr. Balfour of the Shaws.

5. In these days folk still believed in witches and trembled at a curse;
and this curse fell pat, like a wayside omen, to arrest me; it took the
pith out of my legs.

6. I was called in at last; my uncle counted out into my hand seven and
thirty golden guinea pieces.

7. I had come close to one of the turns in the stair; I felt my way as
usual; my hand slipped upon an edge and found nothing but emptiness
beyond it.

8. I returned to the kitchen; I made up such a blaze as had not shone
there for many a long year; I wrapped myself in my plaid; I lay down upon
the chests and fell asleep.

=The So Construction.=—The conjunction _so_ is a useful word, and the
learner prefers it to its synonyms, _therefore_ and _consequently_,
because it is simpler, less formal than either. But in a narrative which
is liberally besprinkled with _so_’s the reader feels that the simplicity
is overdone. Here is an extreme example.

    A short time afterward my uncle died; so my aunt went to her
    country-house in Derbyshire. She did not wish to be alone in
    the country; so she took her servants. When they got there they
    found the house very lonely; so the maids did not want to stay,
    but they did.

Examine the sentences just quoted, and show the relations between the
clauses by other devices than the use of _so_.

_So_, as a conjunction, should be employed very sparingly. When it is
employed, it should usually be preceded by _a semicolon rather than a

=Oral Exercise.=—A careful writer is known by his use of conjunctions: he
does not use _and_ unless the clauses joined are co-ordinate; nor _but_
unless there is a real opposition; nor a given subordinate conjunction
unless it is actually required by logic. In the subjoined selections from
Ruskin the original conjunctions have been changed to those in italics.
Find better expressions for those italicized.

    1. In employing all the muscular power at our disposal we
    are to make the employments we choose as educational as
    possible. _Consequently_ a wholesome human employment is
    the first and best method of education, mental as well as
    bodily. A man taught to plough, row, or steer well, _moreover_
    a woman taught to cook properly, and make a dress neatly,
    are already educated in many essential moral habits. Labour
    considered as a discipline has hitherto been thought of only
    for criminals, _therefore_ the real and noblest function of
    labour is to prevent crime, _but_ not to be _Re_formatory, but

    2. We must spend our money in some way, at some time,
    _accordingly_ it cannot at any time be spent without employing
    somebody. _While_ we gamble it away, the person who wins it
    must spend it; _while_ we lose it in a railroad speculation,
    it has gone into some one else’s pockets, or merely gone to
    pay navvies for making a useless embankment, _but not_ to pay
    riband or button makers for making useless ribands or buttons;
    we cannot lose it (unless by actually destroying it) _and not
    give_ employment of some kind; _nevertheless_ whatever quantity
    of money exists, the relative quantity of employment must some
    day come out of it; _and_ the distress of the nation signifies
    that the employments given have produced nothing that will
    support its existence. Men cannot live on ribands, or buttons,
    or velvet, or by going quickly from place to place; _but_ every
    coin spent in useless ornament, or useless motion, is so much
    withdrawn from the national means of life.—RUSKIN.

=One Coherent Structure.=—We have seen that to be well-knit a sentence
must have that unity of form which gives every thought its proper
clause-rank. It must also be uniform in structure. There should be no
sudden, unnecessary change in subject, or in the form of the verb.
Sometimes a sentence is pulled about by the mind as a child by a cross
nurse. It begins in the active voice, it is twitched aside into the
passive. It begins as the act of one person, it ends as that of another.
Even so admirable a writer as John Fiske has this sentence: “But Howe
could not bear to acknowledge the defeat of his attempts to storm, and
accordingly, at five o’clock, with genuine British persistency, a third
attack was ordered.” This “British persistency” is evidently Howe’s.
Why not give him full credit for it, thus?—“But Howe could not bear to
acknowledge the defeat of his attempts to storm, and accordingly, at five
o’clock, with genuine British persistency he ordered a third attack.”

=Oral Exercise.=—Change the following sentences so that each shall have
unity of form.

1. A blue pencil? there is nothing so easy for an editor to manage, so
unmistakable in reading, so wholly impressive to a contributor when he
sees it.

2. Tom and East became good friends, and the tyranny of a certain
insolent fellow was sturdily resisted by them together.

3. You will see no sudden jerks of the _St. Ambrose_ rudder, nor will any
clumsy rounding of a point be seen.

4. Miller, motionless till now, lifts his right hand and the tassel is
whirled round his head.

5. Thorold had just read the account of John Inglesant’s vision of the
dead King Charles. He disliked the idea of spending the night in the old
country house, and still more to go through the tapestried chamber; but
it was immediately determined by him that such an invitation must not be

=The Loose Sentence.=—The passage given at the beginning of the chapter,
from Mandeville, is written in what are called loose sentences. _Loose_
as applied to a sentence, does not necessarily mean that the sentence is
bad,—that it is rambling or disjointed. A loose sentence is one in which
an independent statement comes first, followed by others, dependent or
independent. Example: “And some men say that in the Isle of Lango is yet
the daughter of Hippocrates, in form and likeness of a great dragon, that
is a hundred fathom of length, as men say: for I have not seen her.” In
this sentence comes first a proposition,—“And some men say,” followed by
several subordinate clauses, and by one independent clause,—“for I have
not seen her.” The test of a loose sentence is a grammatical one: the
sentence can be closed at some point before the end, without hurting the
grammatical structure. At what places in the sentence just quoted is the
grammatical structure complete?

The loose sentence is used freely in conversation. The speaker gives his
main idea first, and qualifies it afterward. Therefore the legitimate
effect of the loose sentence is to lend an air of simplicity, a
colloquial air, to the style. The danger is that it may become a mere
sequence of clauses, that dangle insecurely, each from the preceding,
like needles hanging from a magnet. Avoid long loose sentences.

Examine the sentence by Defoe, p. 89. It is a fine example of what a
loose sentence should not be.

=The Periodic Sentence.=—In the sentence, “A short time afterward my
uncle died; so my aunt went to her country-house in Derbyshire,” the
grammatical structure is complete at “died.” But if the two clauses
be welded together by _because_, they will no longer be grammatically
free. Thus: “_Because my uncle died shortly afterward, my aunt went to
her country-house in Derbyshire._” This sentence is periodic in form. A
periodic sentence is a complex sentence in which the modifiers of the
verb precede the verb. The effect of this structure is to delay the
main idea of the sentence until the last.[22] Obviously, if too many
subordinate ideas occur before the main one, the mind of the reader will
weary with the tension of expectation. Short periodic sentences however
are extremely effective in arousing the reader’s attention and holding
it till the important idea is stated. It is plain that good periodic
structure is highly conducive to unity in the sentence: each subordinate
idea is held in its proper place of subordination till the main idea is
stated, and on the reader is flashed a pleasant sense that the structure
has grown naturally into one complete whole.

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the oral exercise on pages 98, 99, and say which
sentences were made periodic in the effort to improve their unity.

=Oral Exercise.=—Below are given some good periodic sentences.[23] Give
equivalent loose sentences. Decide whether or not the loose are better
than the periodic.

1. At this moment a large, comfortable white house, that had been
heretofore hidden by green trees, came into view.

    [Changed, this might read: “A large, comfortable white house
    had been heretofore hidden by green trees; it came into view at
    this moment.”]

2. Off went Timothy’s hat.

3. And it was to this household that Timothy had brought his child for

4. Gay, not being used to a regular morning toilet, had fought against it
valiantly at first.

5. If you care to feel a warm glow in the region of your heart, imagine
little Timothy Jessup sent to play in that garden.

6. Yet of an evening, or on Sunday, she was no village gossip.

=Oral Exercise.=—The following passage, from Hawthorne, is written in
excellent loose sentences. Change to periodic all of them that can be so
changed without hurting the ease of structure. Whatever else it be, a
periodic sentence should never be strained or unnatural.

    Then Theseus bent himself in good earnest to the task, and
    strained every sinew with manly strength and resolution. He put
    his whole brave heart into the effort. He wrestled with the big
    and sluggish stone as if it had been a living enemy. He heaved,
    he lifted, he resolved now to succeed, or else to perish there,
    and let the rock be his monument forever! Æthra stood gazing at
    him, and clasped her hands, partly with a mother’s pride, and
    partly with a mother’s sorrow. The great rock stirred! Yes, it
    was raised slowly from the bedded moss and earth, uprooting the
    shrubs and flowers along with it, and was turned upon its side.
    Theseus had conquered!

=Inappropriate Periodicity.=—It is foolish to use an elaborate suspended
structure when a very simple thought or a very rapid narrative is to
be given. Note the pomposity of the following sentences. Remove it by
changing the structure.

“Three summers ago, to rejoin my family in northern Michigan, I left the
city. On a little peninsula which juts out into Lake Michigan, a group of
houses, dignified by the name of Edgewood, stands. Undistracted by the
bustle of hotel life, a few sensible people live here. To get away from
town for a few days and lounge in the pine woods about Edgewood, to me is
always very pleasant.”

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the following sentences one by one, and say
whether each is (_a_) wholly periodic, (_b_) wholly loose, or (_c_)
partly loose and partly periodic. When the last is the case, show at what
point the change of structure occurs.

    1. He who walks in the way these following ballads point
    will be manful in necessary fight, fair in trade, loyal in
    love, generous to the poor, tender in the household, prudent
    in living, plain in speech, merry upon occasion, simple in
    behavior, and honest in all things.—LANIER.

    2. While Johnson was busied with his _Idlers_, his mother,
    who had accomplished her ninetieth year, died at Lichfield.
    It was long since he had seen her; but he had not failed to
    contribute largely, out of his small means, to her comfort. In
    order to defray the charges of her funeral, and to pay some
    debts which she had left, he wrote a little book in a single
    week, and sent off the sheets to the press without reading them
    over. A hundred pounds were paid him for the copyright; and the
    purchasers had great cause to be pleased with their bargain,
    for the book was “Rasselas.”—MACAULAY: _Life of Johnson_.

    3. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
    things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
    things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever
    things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there
    be any praise, think on these things.—_Philippians._

    4. “Sir, you may destroy this little institution; it is weak;
    it is in your hands! I know it is one of the lesser lights
    in the literary horizon of our country. You may put it out.
    But, if you do so, you must carry through your work! You must
    extinguish, one after another, all those greater lights of
    science which, for more than a century, have thrown their
    radiance over our land! It is, Sir, as I have said, a small
    college. And yet there are those who love it.”—WEBSTER.

    5. Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections; let me indulge
    in refreshing remembrance of the past; let me remind you that,
    in early times, no States cherished greater harmony, both of
    principle and feeling, than Massachusetts and South Carolina.
    Would to God that harmony might again return! Shoulder to
    shoulder they went through the Revolution; hand in hand they
    stood round the administration of Washington, and felt his
    own great arm lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it
    exist, alienation and distrust, are the growth, unnatural to
    such soils, of false principles since sown. They are weeds, the
    seeds of which that same great arm never scattered.—WEBSTER.

    6. That man, I think, has had a liberal education, who has been
    so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his
    will, and does with ease and pleasure all the work that, as a
    mechanism, it is capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold,
    logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength, and in
    smooth working order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned
    to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge
    the anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge
    of the great and fundamental truths of Nature and of the laws
    of her operations; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life
    and fire, but whose passions are trained to come to heel by
    a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has
    learned to love all beauty, whether of Nature or of art, to
    hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself.—HUXLEY.

    7. If then the power of speech is a gift as great as any that
    can be named,—if the origin of language is by many philosophers
    even considered to be nothing short of divine,—if by means
    of words the secrets of the heart are brought to light, pain
    of soul is relieved, hidden grief is carried off, sympathy
    conveyed, counsel imparted, experience recorded, and wisdom
    perpetuated,—if by great authors the many are drawn up into
    unity, national character is fixed, a people speaks, the
    past and the future, the East and the West are brought into
    communication with each other,—if such men are, in a word,
    the spokesmen and prophets of the human family,—it will not
    answer to make light of Literature or to neglect its study;
    rather we may be sure that, in proportion as we master it in
    whatever language, and imbibe its spirit, we shall ourselves
    become in our own measure the ministers of like benefits to
    others, be they many or few, be they in the obscurer or
    the more distinguished walks of life,—who are united to us
    by social ties, and are within the sphere of our personal
    influence.—CARDINAL NEWMAN.[24]

=Oral Exercise.=—Each of the passages given above should be read aloud as
a whole, to get the effects produced by the different types of sentence.
In the first passage note that the first clause arouses interest by the
periodic structure. So do the first and third sentences in the second
passage; but the third and fourth—loose—have a fine simplicity that
adds to the weight of their subject matter. The third passage moves up
steadily to an impressive point,—the word _think_. The fourth passage
is extremely direct and earnest. Webster is pleading for his _Alma
Mater_, Dartmouth; is making an appeal, straight from his heart. Almost
choked with emotion, he has no desire to frame periodic sentences and
nicely subordinated clauses. In the fifth passage he is perhaps equally
direct; but he is master of himself, and his sentences are somewhat
more elaborate. In the sixth passage, Huxley gets a steadily increasing
strength of thought, but not of structure. Cardinal Newman, on the other
hand, builds up his period with superb suspense both of form and thought.

=Written Exercise.=—Change the sentence by Huxley into the periodic form.
This can be done by changing the order of clauses, and beginning each
subordinate clause with _if_, or with _suppose_, or with a relative.

=Emphasis in the Sentence.=—A sentence cannot be called well-knit if it
does not succeed in calling most attention to the most important idea. We
have seen already how important it is to put the unimportant parts of the
sentence into subordinate clauses. How may further emphasis be had?

The beginning and the end of the sentence are the most prominent places.
Important words should usually stand in these places. Rarely should these
points be covered up with trivial expressions. Compare two sentences. “As
a matter of fact, it is bread, rather than advice, that people actually
need, in this city.” “Bread it is, rather than advice, that, in this
city, people actually need.”

Attention can always be called to a word by placing it out of the
ordinary, commonplace order. The _inverted_ order, where verb precedes
the noun, or predicate adjective precedes the verb, frequently permits
emphasis to be put just where it is wanted. The oft-quoted example is as
good a one as can be found: “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” How much
better it is, how much _greater_ the cry is than, “Diana of the Ephesians
is great!”

=Oral Exercise.=—Which of the following sentences from Ruskin begin and
end with words that deserve distinction?[25]

“For all books are divisible into two classes,—the books of the hour, and
the books of all time. Mark this distinction; it is not one of quality
only. It is not merely the bad book that does not last, and the good one
that does; it is a distinction of species. There are good books for the
hour, and good ones for all time; bad books for the hour, and bad ones
for all time. I must define the two kinds before I go farther.”

=Oral Exercise.=—Change the order of words in the following sentences so
as to throw more emphasis on the italicized words. Avoid infringement of
English idiom in making the changes.

1. It is _courage_ that wins.

2. Never say _die_, under any circumstances.

3. Yet he stood _beautiful and bright_, as born to rule the storm.

4. A rascal, _nothing more or less_, he was.

5. Gilpin went _away_, and the post boy went _away_.

6. The English child is _white as an angel_.


    When wild northwesters rave _on stormy nights_
    With wind and wave _how proud a thing_ to fight.

8. What a piece of work _man_ is!

9. Trafalgar lay, full in face, _bluish_ mid the burning water.

10. He repeatedly pronounced _these words_, and they were the last which
he uttered.

11. The king said, “_Alas_, help me from hence.”

12. Man is _the paragon of animals_, the beauty of the world.

13. What a place an old _library_ is to be in. It seems as though all
the souls of all the writers that have bequeathed their labors to these
Bodleians, as in some _middle state_ or dormitory, were reposing here. I
do not want to handle, to profane their _winding sheet_, the leaves. I
could a _shade_ as soon dislodge.

=Climax.=—The principle of climax demands that in a series of related
terms the weaker degree should precede the stronger. Southey says of
Lord Nelson’s being permitted to live to hear the news of his great
victory: “That consolation, that joy, that triumph, was afforded him.”
By these three nouns the reader ascends, as if by a ladder—climax is
merely Greek for ladder. Endeavor to discover the original order in which
the following sentences were written to secure climax. Changing them by
slight omissions, weave them together into two sentences.

“The most triumphant death is that of the martyr. The most splendid
death is that of the hero in the hour of victory. If the chariot and the
horses of fire had been vouchsafed for Nelson’s translation, he could
scarcely have departed in a brighter blaze of glory. The most awful death
is that of the martyred patriot. He has left us, not indeed his mantle of
inspiration, but an example which will continue to be our shield and our
strength, and a name which is our pride—an example and a name which are
at this hour inspiring hundreds of the youth of England.”

Which of the sentences quoted on pages 107, 108, have climax of thought?



=Different Ways of Planning.=—There are various kinds of
composition,—description, narration, argument, and others. These will
be treated one by one in later chapters. Each kind has laws of its
own. Each has its own vocabulary, which may well be studied apart
from other vocabularies. So, too, each type calls for special methods
of organization. For the present, only a few principles of planning,
applicable to all types alike, need be considered.

=The Growth of a Thought.=—When a thought is first conceived, it is
always misty, dim, nebulous.[26] When we speak of having a “general
notion,” a “vague notion,” we usually mean that a thought is just
beginning. If it receives attention, it emerges from the nebulous
condition and forms into several definite thoughts. Or, to change the
figure, it grows and branches. Suppose that the mind awakes to the vague
notion that the room is getting cold. _Cold_ is the undeveloped root
from which may presently branch off such thoughts as these: “Yes, it is
really cold. In fact, I feel cold all over. My hands are blue, and I am
shivering. Besides, Horace over there is standing with his back to the
radiator, and so he too must be cold.” The thought has grown into several
sentences. _Cold_ branched into _I am cold all over_, and this also sent
off two shoots—_My hands are blue, and I am shivering._ Then the mind
stopped this line of branching, and out from the stock sprang a new
branch: _Horace is standing with his back to the radiator_; and then this
sends off the branch _and so he too must be cold_. Try to draw a picture
to represent the process that has gone on.

Now, the whole growth of a thought—stock and branches—can sometimes be
expressed within the limits of one grammatical sentence. If there are too
many thoughts for this, they are put into separate sentences, and the
whole is called a miniature composition, or isolated paragraph.

Exactly as a paragraph grows, so a long composition may grow out of one
vague idea. Some ideas have in them only enough matter to be developed
into a paragraph. Others are germs from which whole books might grow.
“That apple looks good” would probably develop into a short paragraph;
but, “it is strange that that apple should fall to the earth instead of
away from it” might blossom into a great system of natural philosophy.
If a nebulous idea has in it the making of a long theme, it will develop
into main parts if the attention be fixed keenly upon it. These are
paragraph nebulæ, which will subdivide into sentences. Or, to vary the
figure, the main thought will send out main branches (paragraphs) which
will send off lesser ones (sentences).

=Unity.=—Although thought grows, one must keep in mind that it does not
always grow to fruit unless it is trained and pruned. Thought loves
to branch, and unless restrained by a stern sense of logic, it will
often end in a mere tangle of superfluous twigs and leaves. To speak
less figuratively, every writer is in danger of setting down matters
suggested by the subject in hand but not logically related to it. This
is as true of a large piece of work as of a sentence (compare page
90). Every theme, like every sentence, should have unity. It should be
the development of one idea—a large, complex idea, if you please, but,
nevertheless, one. No matter how long or how short the whole, it must
all concern the different phases of one thing or one thought. It should
grow naturally from one germ. Every part in it should bear on the central
idea of the whole—so that, after reading any given sentence, the reader
can see a real connection between title and sentence. A well-organized
composition cannot spare any part; each is essential to its life. Milton
said, “Almost as well kill a man as kill a good book”; and we may adapt
this idea to the structure of the theme. A good composition is so well
organized that if you cut it anywhere it will bleed.

=Planning a Paragraph.=—Before writing a paragraph, try to think out the
whole of it. Let the thought grow in the mind before you let it grow on
paper. This method will afford a chance to review the whole mentally and
to determine whether the thoughts follow each other logically.

=The Topic Sentence.=—When an after-dinner speaker rises to respond to a
toast, he generally announces his topic at once, or after a sentence or
two of introduction. He is very likely also to announce at once his chief
thought about the subject; for he knows that people like to hear him come
to the point. If however he has reason to think that his hearers may not
agree with him immediately, he is likely to state his subject first, and
then lead up gradually to his own conclusion about it.

We naturally follow some such course in writing. With each paragraph we
begin a new speech, as it were. It is a matter both of courtesy and of
economy if in each we state definitely what we are talking about. The
topic sentence of a paragraph ordinarily states the general _subject_, or
else declares the general _thought_, i.e. _conclusion_, of the whole. It
is generally short, because emphatic.

The following paragraph shows its general _subject_ in the opening

    A Tree-Planting Association has been organized in New York
    City. The Association will be organized with twelve or more
    members on a block, who will form a local club under the
    Association. A tree-planting association may, in this city,
    fail to plant trees, but it certainly will encourage the
    planting of window boxes, the fencing of unused lots, the
    painting of fences to the exclusion of posters, and the general
    care of the public street. Back yards will assume some relation
    to the general good of the community, and trees, vines, and
    flowers will find place in them. The children will be taught to
    care for the appearance of the block, and chalk-marks and other
    defacements will soon disappear, because of new-born civic
    pride.—_The Outlook._

In the following paragraph, Macaulay does not state his topic till the
second sentence. The first is a general remark by way of introduction.

    One of the first objects of an inquirer, who wishes to form a
    correct notion of the state of a community at a given time,
    must be to ascertain of how many persons that community
    then consisted. _Unfortunately the population of England in
    1685, cannot be ascertained with perfect accuracy._ For no
    great state had then adopted the wise course of periodically
    numbering the people. All men were left to conjecture for
    themselves; and, as they generally conjectured without
    examining facts, and under the influence of strong passions
    and prejudices, their guesses were often ludicrously absurd.
    Even intelligent Londoners ordinarily talked of London as
    containing several millions of souls. It was confidently
    asserted by many that, during the thirty-five years which had
    elapsed between the accession of Charles the First and the
    Restoration, the population of the City had increased by two
    millions. Even while the ravages of the plague and fire were
    recent, it was the fashion to say that the capital still had a
    million and a half of inhabitants. Some persons, disgusted by
    these exaggerations, ran violently into the opposite extreme.
    Thus Isaac Vossius, a man of undoubted parts and learning,
    strenuously maintained that there were only two millions
    of human beings in England, Scotland, and Ireland taken
    together.—MACAULAY: _History of England, Chapter III_.

In the following paragraph, the topic sentence states the general
_thought_ of the whole.

    The appetite of this fish is almost insatiable. Mr. Jesse
    threw to one pike of five pounds’ weight, four roach, each
    about four inches in length, which it devoured instantly, and
    swallowed[27] a fifth within a quarter of an hour. Moor-hens,
    ducks, and even swans have been known to fall a prey to this
    voracious fish, its long teeth effectually keeping them
    prisoners under water until drowned.—DR. J. G. WOOD.

The following paragraph states in the topic sentence the general
_subject_, in the last sentence the _general thought_, which has grown
out of the subject.

    Two years ago the Boston School Board encouraged the
    establishment of cheap luncheons in the schools. Up to the
    present time this has been considered an experiment. It is now
    conceded that the experimental stage is passed, and that cheap,
    nutritious school luncheons can successfully be provided, and
    are in demand.

The following shows how the first sentence of a paragraph may be made to
include the general topic.

    I cite as an instance of _the absence of vandalism in Japan_
    the experience of a Japanese friend of mine who lived on a
    street near and parallel to the busiest street in Tokio. He
    had placed in his front gate, bordering immediately upon the
    sidewalk, an exquisite panel carved in delicate tracery and
    nearly two hundred years old. Such a specimen would be placed
    in our Museums of Art under lock and key. On my expressing
    surprise that he would expose so precious a relic without fear
    that some heedless boy might break off a twig, or otherwise
    deface it, he assured me it was quite as safe there as in
    his library. Three years afterwards I chanced to be in Japan
    again, and though my friend was dead, and a stranger occupied
    the premises, I was led to seek the place to ascertain the
    condition of the delicate wood-carving. It was absolutely
    uninjured, though slightly bleached by the weather, and this in
    the great commercial city of Tokio, with a population of over
    one million.—EDWARD S. MORSE.[28]

=Kinds of Paragraphs.=—What can be said within the limits of a paragraph?
The same things that can be said in a sentence, but more fully. We
need to consider here only a few of these. The sentences may repeat
the substance of the topic sentence, adding something new. Or, if the
paragraph states the general conclusion first, the succeeding sentences
may give the needed particulars, or illustrations, or examples, or
proofs. Once more, the paragraph may open with the statement of a
_cause_, this being followed by the statement of a necessary _effect_.
Or, the paragraph as a whole may develop a _contrast_. Or, it may consist
of a group of sentences that narrate the particulars of some event, or
describe some scene.

The following paragraph exhibits a single thought by repetition.

    A true critic must love the subject-matter of literature. He
    must care for its message. The theme of the story, the thing
    the author was trying to say, must not escape him. The form of
    the thing is much, but the soul is more.

The following gives a general thought first, then the particulars.

    That farm bore every manner of fruit known to the climate.
    There were apples, a score of varieties, from the snow apple
    that burned among the leaves, and when bitten revealed a flesh
    so white that you kept biting it lest the juice should discolor
    it, to the great cold autumn fruits that were resonant beneath
    the snap of your finger. There were opulent pears, distilling
    the golden sun into their bottles. There were plums, the kind
    that succeed. Grapes there were, and quinces, and peaches,—the
    last not so prolific as the apples, but a very worthy fruit.

The following gives a general thought, repeats it, explains it,
illustrates it, and so defends it.

    If it were only for a vocabulary, the scholar would be covetous
    of action. Life is our dictionary. Years are well spent
    in country labors; in town; in the insight into trades and
    manufactures; in frank intercourse with many men and women; in
    science; in art; to the one end of mastering in all their facts
    a language by which to illustrate and embody our perceptions.
    I learn immediately from any speaker how much he has already
    lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his speech. Life
    lies behind us as the quarry from whence we get tiles and
    copestones for the masonry of to-day. This is the way to learn
    grammar. Colleges and books only copy the language which the
    field and the work-yard made.—EMERSON.

The following gives cause and effect:—

    The King could not see that there were two Englands—that of
    himself and North, and that of Burke and Chatham. The result
    was inevitable. A third England sprang up across the sea.

The following sets up a quaint contrast. The passage is from Dr.
Johnson’s allegory on _Wit and Learning_:—

    Their conduct was, whenever they desired to recommend
    themselves to distinction, entirely opposite. WIT was daring
    and adventurous; LEARNING cautious and deliberate. WIT
    thought nothing reproachful but dullness; LEARNING was afraid
    of no imputation but that of error. WIT answered before he
    understood, lest his quickness of apprehension should be
    questioned; LEARNING paused, where there was no difficulty,
    lest any insidious sophism should lie undiscovered. WIT
    perplexed every debate by rapidity and confusion; LEARNING
    tired the hearers with endless distinctions, and prolonged the
    dispute without advantage, by proving that which never was
    denied. WIT, in hopes of shining, would venture to produce
    what he had not considered, and often succeeded beyond his
    own expectation, by following the train of a lucky thought;
    LEARNING would reject every new notion, for fear of being
    entangled in consequences which she could not foresee, and was
    often hindered, by her caution, from pressing her advantages,
    and subduing her opponent.

=Oral Exercise.=[29]—Each of the following paragraphs had a topic
sentence stating a _cause_, which was then followed by a statement of the
_effect_. Frame a topic sentence for each, stating the _cause_.

1. — — — — — — Consequently it is a good thing to apply pretty sharp
tests to whatever offers itself as the genuine thing. Often the great
schemes that men hatch for growing rich are nothing but pyrites. The acid
of sharp common sense corrodes and discolors them.

2. — — — — — — — — — — — — Nothing worse could have befallen the man.
Being unused to the possession of wealth he ran through his millions in a
year. In 1876 his old friend Everard met him in the street and passed him
by as a beggar.

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the following paragraphs of _explanation_, and
form a topic sentence for each.

1. — — — — — — — — — — — In other words, hold to the good you have. Let
well enough alone. People lay great plans; they see the future through
rosy lenses; they build castles in Spain. But great plans that can’t be
carried out are of less value than small, practicable plans; the future
is never just what it promises to be; and as for castles in Spain, of
what value are they to owners who can neither rent nor inhabit them?

2. — — — — — — — — — — — — — It is not, observe, a mere coating of snow
of given depth throughout, but it is snow loaded on until the rocks can
hold no more. The surplus does not fall in the winter, because, fastened
by continual frost, the quantity of snow which an Alp can carry is
greater than each single winter can bestow; it falls in the first mild
days of spring in enormous avalanches. Afterward the melting continues,
gradually removing from all the steep rocks the small quantity of snow
which was all they could hold, and leaving them black and bare among the
accumulated fields of unknown depth, which occupy the capacious valleys
and less inclined superficies of the mountain.

=Oral Exercise.=—Analyze the following narrative paragraphs from Irving’s
_Sketch-Book_, endeavoring to discover what office each sentence performs
in the paragraph.

“We had not been long home when the sound of music was heard from a
distance. A band of country lads, without coats, their shirt-sleeves
fancifully tied with ribbons, their hats decorated with greens, and
clubs in their hands, were seen advancing up the avenue, followed by a
large number of villagers and peasantry. They stopped before the hall
door, where the music struck up a peculiar air, and the lads performed a
curious and intricate dance, advancing, retreating, and striking their
clubs together, keeping exact time to the music; while one, whimsically
crowned with a fox’s skin, the tail of which flaunted down his back, kept
capering round the skirts of the dance, and rattling a Christmas-box with
many antic gesticulations.”

“After the dance was concluded, the whole party was entertained with
brawn and beef and stout home-brewed. The ’Squire himself mingled among
the rustics, and was received with awkward demonstrations of deference
and regard. It is true, I perceived two or three of the younger peasants,
as they were raising their tankards to their mouths, when the ’Squire’s
back was turned, making something of a grimace, and giving each other the
wink; but the moment they caught my eye they pulled grave faces, and were
exceedingly demure. With Master Simon, however, they all seemed more at
their ease. His varied occupations and amusements had made him well known
throughout the neighborhood. He was a visitor at every farm-house and
cottage; gossiped with the farmers and their wives; romped with their
daughters; and, like that type of a vagrant bachelor, the humble-bee,
tolled the sweets from all the rosy lips of the country round.”

=Theme.=—Choose one of the following topic sentences, and develop the
idea coherently, by a succession of illustrations, of details, or of
particulars, into a paragraph of 150 words.

1. The ghosts one hears of are not all alike.

2. In some respects, athletics are dangerous.

3. It was a dreary day.

4. It was one of those mornings that stir the blood.

5. There are battles with fate that can never be won.

6. “A dog hath his day,” runs the old proverb.

7. It is easy to enumerate the ways of getting a lesson.

8. The race is not always to the swift.

9. There are many instances of bravery in everyday life.

10. Many phases of American life are illustrated in American short

=Theme.=—Choose one of the following topic sentences, and defend it by
giving reasons, proofs, to the extent of 150 or 200 words.

1. On the whole, school athletics are a good thing.

2. Vivisection is necessary to science.

3. Vivisection is cruel and unnecessary.

4. None but scientists are competent to decide whether or not vivisection
is necessary to science.

5. If necessary to science, vivisection should be practised only when

6. A debating society is a help in education.

7. The American Revolution is an uninteresting theme topic.

8. The American Revolution is not an uninteresting theme topic.

[Other sentences can easily be suggested by students or teacher.]

=Theme.=—Develop one of the following topic sentences into a paragraph of
_contrast_,—200 words.

1. There is a difference between knowing a thing, and being able to tell

2. Outside the wild winds were rioting; within all was cheer.

3. I saw an old man holding his granddaughter in his arms.

4. I know two persons: one is a dreamer, the other a doer.

5. Hawthorne [or some other writer] has two characters that are strong
foils to each other.

6. I imagined what was going on in those two houses.

7. Some men are always hopeful, some always in despair.

8. I knew two men of very unlike abilities.

9. I knew two persons of very unlike dispositions.

10. The great choir presented fine contrasts in color of garments.

=Expansion of One Paragraph into Several.=—Let it be supposed that having
composed a theme of one paragraph, a student has been asked to develop
the subject at greater length; the paragraph has 85 words, and the
audience wants 200, or 225. What will be the right course? It is possible
to expand one paragraph of 85 words into one paragraph of 225 words.
But if the paragraph of 85 words has two or three distinct parts, it is
better to expand each into a new paragraph.

Let it be imagined that Dr. Wood, the English naturalist, had written a
very short paragraph on the Crustacea; that it ran somewhat like this.


    The aquatic animals known as the Crustacea have no internal
    skeleton, but are defended by a strong crust, made of a series
    of rings. This unyielding armor, together with the coverings
    of the eyes, the tendons of the claws, and the lining membrane
    of the stomach, with its teeth, is cast off annually to permit
    the growth of the body. The Crustacea possess the power of
    reproducing a lost or original limb; and, indeed, if injured
    the animal itself shakes off the injured joint.

Suppose, now, that Dr. Wood found himself dissatisfied with these
somewhat cramped and overloaded sentences, and determined to rewrite,
making three paragraphs where he had formerly but one. In the new theme,
the main topics would be, as before: _Definition of Crustacea_; _Annual
shedding_; _Reproduction of Limbs_. Each would have a paragraph to
itself, where before it had but a sentence. All the sentences to be made
about the Definition would be set off by themselves as one main part of
the theme; all those about the Shedding would form a second; all those
about the New Limbs, a third.

“Set off”;—that is, by _indentation_, or _indention_. This word means, “a
biting in,” or, more properly, “a biting out.” Where a new division of
the theme begins, the first line does not come up plumb to the straight
edge at the left; it is bitten into; it begins farther to the right than
do the other lines. In the printed book, the indentation is small—usually
the width of a letter _m_. But in a manuscript it is important for the
indentation to be absolutely unmistakable. Some persons keep so ragged
an edge at the left hand that it is impossible to know whether or not
they should be credited with understanding what a paragraph is. Indent
each new paragraph one or two inches. Bring every line of the paragraph,
_except the last_, up even with the right-hand margin; the last line may
be stopped anywhere, if the paragraph is complete in sense; often this
line has but a word or two. If at any time you inadvertently omit the
indentation, and have not time to copy, place a paragraph mark where the
new paragraph should begin; thus, ¶.

A rough outline for Dr. Wood’s new paragraphs could now be made. The
topics being known, the number of sentences under each could be guessed
at. There is nothing in the original paragraph to show that Dr. Wood
ascribed especial importance to some one of the three topics. The third
is perhaps the least important. It may be estimated that in the completed
theme he would give about 80 words to each of the first two, and about 50
to the third. The outline would be something like this, the full stops
representing those of the future theme.


    ¶ Crustacea are aquatic. No skeleton, but crust, which protects
    and strengthens. Framework of rings; part develops into limbs.
    Articulated animals.

    ¶ Curious way of growth. Other animals not inconvenienced
    as they grow. Not so Crustacea. Mail unyielding. Is cast
    off annually and larger coat grows. Eye-covering, tendons,
    stomach-membrane are also shed.

    ¶ Curious reproduction of lost or injured limb. New one grows
    if old lost; animal shakes off injured joint. Lobsters do, when

As a matter of fact, Dr. Wood did write a short chapter on the Crustacea,
and here it is.


    The Crustacea are almost all aquatic animals. They have no
    internal skeleton, but their body is covered with a strong
    crust, which serves for protection as well as for strength.
    Their whole framework consists of a series of rings fitted
    to, and working in each other; some forming limbs, and others
    developing into the framework supporting the different organs.
    From this reason, they and the remaining animals, as far as the
    star-fishes, who have no limbs at all, are called “articulated”

    Their method of growth is very curious. Other animals, as they
    increase in size, experience no particular inconvenience. Not
    so the Crustacea. Their bodies are closely enveloped in a
    strong, unyielding mail, which cannot grow with them. Their
    armor is therefore cast off every year, and a fresh coat formed
    to suit their increased dimensions. Not only is the armor cast
    off, but even the covering of the eyes, the tendons of the
    claws, and the lining membrane of the stomach, with its teeth.

    They all also possess the curious power of reproducing a lost
    or injured limb. In the former case, a fresh limb supplies the
    place of that lost; and in the latter case, the animal itself
    shakes off the injured joint, and a new one soon takes its
    place. Lobsters, when alarmed, frequently throw off their claws.

=Theme.=—Choose one of the following paragraphs and expand it into a
theme. Each sentence should grow into a paragraph. The proportions to be
observed are suggested by the number of amplifying sentences prescribed
for the different paragraphs. Write a title above the theme.

1. (_a_) I like winter for its outdoor sports. [Four or five sentences.]
(_b_) I like it no less for its indoor sports. [Four or five sentences.]

2. (_a_) Wearing birds is foolish, for it is a remnant of savagery, like
tattooing. [Two or three sentences.] (_b_) It is less artistic than is
often supposed. [Two or three sentences.] (_c_) It is unwise, because it
threatens the extinction of certain species of flycatchers and warblers.
[Two or three sentences.] (_d_) It is cruel, necessitating slaughter
of innocent life, and producing callousness to suffering. [Five or six

3. (_a_) A contrast between faces. [Two sentences.] (_b_) The face of
Napoleon is intellectual, firm, and cruel. [Three sentences, giving
details of the face.] (_c_) The face of Lincoln is intellectual, firm,
and kind. [Three sentences, giving details.]

4. (_a_) There are two kinds of people,—those who know what they want
life to do for them, and those who do not. [This introductory sentence
may be made a part of the first paragraph.] The people who know what they
want are few. [Three or four sentences.] (_b_) The people who do not know
what they want are partly young people, who have not had training enough
to know; partly older people. [Three or four sentences.]

5. (_a_) Some dinners I like, some I do not. [Part of first paragraph.]
The kinds I like; food; company. [Three or four sentences.] The kinds I
do not like; food; company. [Three or four sentences.]

=Oral Exercise.=—Discuss with the instructor and the class the best way
of paragraphing each of the following topics. Form first an idea as to
how many paragraphs each should have and what should be the paragraph
subjects. 1. This recitation room. 2. How Lincoln looked. 3. A painting
I like. 4. What I do in a day. 5. My plans. 6. The walk to school. 7. My
past education. 8. The elm. 9. The construction of the steam engine. 10.
An ocean steamer. 11. Evening in the country.

=Oral Exercise.=—Read carefully the following speech and state the
paragraph subjects. Estimate the number of words in each paragraph, and
say whether you think the proportion of parts is bad or good. The speech
will be recognized as that delivered by Lincoln at the dedication of the
Gettysburg National Cemetery. It was written first as one paragraph; but
a year later, in making a copy, the President divided it as you see.

“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.”

=Oral Exercise.=—The importance of modelling all work on the right
scale is illustrated in the task of the editor of an encyclopædia. His
problem is to give each subject space and prominence according to its
importance. Opening Johnson’s Encyclopædia, I find seven columns devoted
to Shakespeare. Of these, two and a half are given to the poet’s life,
four and a half to his works. Is the proportion about right? If you were
editing an encyclopædia of geography, how much space should you give to
Africa as compared with Europe? How much, if the encyclopædia dealt with

=Oral Exercise in Proportioning.=—In treating each of the following
subjects, (_a_) what paragraph topics might be chosen? (_b_) which
paragraph ought to be the longest, dealing with the most important phase
of the subject? 1. Living statesmen. 2. Advantages of country life. 3.
The life of Lincoln. 4. The uses of gold. 5. A railway accident. 6. A
cyclone. 7. A visit to an art-gallery. 8. A week of camping.

=Exercise in Varying the Scale.=—Read one of the following poems.
Then write two papers, the first retelling (not closely paraphrasing)
the story of the poem in one paragraph of about 100 words, the second
retelling the same story in a theme of 300 words, properly paragraphed.
_In each theme give space to every part according to its relative

Browning: Tray—about vivisection; Clive—story of courage; Incident of the
French camp—story of heroism; How we brought the good news from Ghent
to Aix—story of endurance; The Pied Piper of Hamelin—story of pathos;
Muleykeh—owner’s pride in a horse; The Bean Feast—a Pope’s humility.
Longfellow: The Fell of Atri; Paul Revere’s Ride; Evangeline; The Legend
Beautiful; Robert of Sicily. Lowell: The Vision of Sir Launfal. Drayton:
The Ballad of Agincourt (_Heart of Oak Books_, Vol. V.). Thackeray:
Chronicle of the Drum (_Ibid._). Tennyson: The Revenge (_Ibid._).
Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (_Ibid._). Whittier: Skipper
Ireson’s Ride (_Ibid._).

=Choice of Topic; Method of Work.=—It is easier to choose among definite
theme subjects, printed in the book, than to choose from an unlimited
number of topics. Left free, a person may be attracted to a subject that
is either too large, or else mechanically limited. The latter kind is
the easier to manage. “The parts of a certain city,” is a topic easily
paragraphed. To choose no subjects but such as this would lead a person
into making his theme in water-tight compartments. On the other hand,
what can any one write in half an hour that will interest a reasonable
being in such a subject as Water, or Clouds, or Steam, or Electricity, or
the Rise and Fall of Nations?

If the student is given free choice of a subject, he should select
something that he really cares about, and that he wishes some definite
audience to care about. Different modes of treatment are necessary to
interest different audiences.

Very often the attractive subject will not be capable of easy analysis.
In such a case, choose only a few paragraph topics, thus narrowing the
treatment; pick out the most attractive phases of the subject.

_This done, invent a theme title that will give an adequate hint of
what is coming._ The actor, Mr. Joseph Jefferson, once made a charming
talk to some college men about the “starring system,” concluding with
remarks about the fancy of some people that Bacon wrote Shakespeare and
put a cryptogram into the plays. A college periodical, wanting to give
some hint of both topics, reported the speech under the heading “Stars
and Cryptograms.” It was not a very good title, for it was meaningless.
But it was designed to rouse curiosity, and, taken in connection with
Jefferson’s name, it did as well, I dare say, as a less vague and
fanciful title.

Let it be supposed that a person is to choose a subject for a simple
theme,—any subject he pleases. He is to select one that will interest
high school students as well as himself. His window looks out on a lake.
How will _Lakes_ do, for a topic? It is too large; one would never have
done. Nobody enjoys reading a small theme on a large matter. The window
affords a glimpse of the lake; perhaps this _Glimpse of the Lake_ would
serve for a theme. There would be no difficulty in paragraphing; one
section would go to the water, one to the boats, one to the sky. But the
water would have to be described exactly as it now looks, though looking
its worst. The boats are all absent except one, and perhaps there are
other kinds that he would like to tell about. Besides, the lad in the
boat is fishing, and the writer may be glad to tell about the fishing on
this lake. If however memories of the past few days must be dragged in to
make the theme interesting to us all, why, the name must be changed. The
writer may call it, _A Glimpse of the Lake and Some Memories_; the title
can then be interpreted with some elasticity.

What, now, are the chief things to say? A brief paragraph of
introduction, perhaps, though that is by no means necessary. Then
something about the look of the lake. Then a word about the boats. Then
something about the fishing. Here is enough: _water_, _boats_, _fishing_.

Now for the outline. ¶ Sprained ankle, armchair. Must study landscape.
Window shows lake. ¶ Lake has moods. Dull now. Glare this morning,
colors last night. Sometimes calm; crystal depths. Ripples. Wind makes
it blossom; raises undercurrents. Rain quiets it. Freckled look. Queer
way water _fits_ land. ¶ Steamer seen. Variety of boats. Red-stack boats.
Swarms of passengers. Boats gay at night. Launches. Pulse of engines.
Sailboat. It upset, the other day. Rowboats. Fisherman. ¶ Casting for
bass. Amateur. Wish him luck! I tried for pike. Tried for bass. No luck.
Tried for perch. Caught a bass. [Six or eight sentences.]

In the last paragraph it perhaps occurs to the writer that the bullheads
bite when the water is muddy; and this _muddiness_ suggests the first
paragraph; the _muddiness_ should be described back there with the
changing look of the water.

Next, the composition. It is not offered as a model of style, but to
suggest a possible way of organizing any simple theme.


    Here I am, planted in an armchair before the window, my
    sprained ankle reposing, or trying to repose, on a smaller
    chair. In such a position one must be thankful for his mercies;
    he must take the exceptional chance to study the landscape.
    Fortunately, the window cuts off a goodly section of the lake
    which lies down there below.

    An exquisite thing is the lake, with as many moods as a baby.
    Just now it is dull in color, for the sky is overcast and there
    is mist in the air. But early this morning it blazed with
    light, and last night at sunset it was awake with every fashion
    of color. Sometimes, when the heavens are bare and windless,
    the water takes on an indescribable calm; and then if you look
    down from this height there seems to be no surface at all—only
    depths of blue, such as the poets are always likening to
    crystal or to sapphire. At other times clouds and a breeze move
    over it, and the surface ruffles till one’s mind is tired with
    fancying the million lines of ripples. If the wind stiffens
    and stays by, there soon are waves; the water breaks white and
    springs up in blossoms over the whole dark field; then the
    under streams are roused out of their quiet and the whole mass
    thunders in upon the shore, muddy but grand. Now it begins
    to rain; and rain is the witch that charms the savage waters
    into rest. Presently the surface is dull again, but for the
    freckled look made by the plunging drops. One notes through the
    gathering mist an odd thing—the way the water seems to settle
    into place, fitting into the curves and nooks of the shore; the
    edge of the lake seems to grow white and distinct, and to cling
    to the land in a sharp outline.

    Breaking through that white streak of water near the shore
    comes a dark something, which soon takes form and is seen to be
    a steamer. What a variety of craft haunt the lake! The largest
    are these tall steamers, taller still for their red stacks.
    At night, with their colored lights, they look like jewelled
    slippers. By day they carry crowds, which seem to rim each
    deck with a black band. Then there are the launches, slipping
    here and there straight across the bow of the bigger craft.
    They have a curiously trim and self-satisfied look; and their
    naphtha engines, beating no louder than some great, fast pulse,
    seem to make fun of the slow-puffing monsters that stain the
    air with smoke. A sailboat—a little sloop—slips across the
    picture. It is the one that upset the other day and gave my
    friend the Doctor a thorough soaking. Two rowboats are standing
    to the south. In the bow of one there’s a lone fisherman.

    That lad is casting for bass. He is an amateur—from his dress.
    Better luck to him than has thus far befallen the amateur who
    sits watching him from this window! I trolled in the lake for
    silver pike, but with never a rise to break the monotony. Then
    I tried thrice in the early morning for yellow bass, using
    first minnows for bait, afterward grasshoppers, and lastly
    frogs. No luck! Disgusted, I stole out one afternoon to catch
    perch, hoping to be seen by no one. The perch bit languidly,
    and the few that were taken seemed to have a supercilious
    look. “Here’s my last worm!” I cried; “then for the hotel and
    farewell to these fishing grounds where no fish are.” A bite!
    a competent, masterly, vicious bite! It’s a bass, strayed away
    from home, and too hungry to ask for delicate diet! Pull him
    in—seize the line, for the pole is light and the hook is small.
    Safely landed, and not less in weight than two pounds! Let them
    brag of six-pounders; this gleaming, muscular fellow, smelling
    of fresh water and mint, is good enough game for me. As I gaze
    and remember, the amateur in his boat moves out of the picture
    frame and the lake is a blank again.

=Oral Exercise.=—Why are the following subjects unfit for short themes?
Suggest two or three theme topics that might be derived from each. 1.
George Washington. 2. Snow. 3. War. 4. Evening. 5. Light. 6. Politeness.

=Oral Exercise.=—Name several limited subjects that would be available
if you were trying to interest legitimately (_a_) an audience of college
men, (_b_) an audience of high school boys, (_c_) an audience of high
school girls, (_d_) an audience of business men.

=Theme.=—Choose one of the following subjects, and think how to secure
for it the interest of persons three or four years younger than yourself.
Think of some intelligent boy or girl, one who, though considerably your
junior, distinctly commands your respect, and explain to him high school
ways of studying either (_a_) physiography, or (_b_) history, or (_c_)
Latin, or (_d_) manual training, or (_e_) English, or some other subject.
The theme should consist of one paragraph, of about 200 words.

=Oral and Written Exercise.=—Choose _three_ of the following subjects,
and think what illustrations you would use to make them clear to
different audiences. Draw upon your knowledge of the things that are most
familiar to the experience of each audience. Jot down memoranda of the
illustrations that you suggest, and afterward compare notes in the oral
discussion. For example,

Explain, by illustration:—

    _A gentleman_, to a gamin.
    _Ice_, to a native of the tropics.
    _The charm of foot-ball_, to a girl.
    _The pleasure of work_, to a shirk.
    _Wagner’s music_, to a deaf painter.
    _The charm of foot-ball_, to a soldier.
    _The solar system_, to a child of eight.
    _Oranges_, to a native of the polar regions.
    _The charm of a true lady_, to an awkward lad.
    _The Jungle Book_, to a North American Indian.
    _A newsboy’s life_, to an earl’s son or a millionnaire’s son.
    _A sleepless night_, to a person who sleeps like a top.
    _A headache_, to a person who never had a headache.
    _The charm of Stevenson_, to a reader of dime novels.
    _Taking gas at the dentist’s_, to a person who never lost a tooth.
    _An encyclopædia_, to a man who never heard of such a book.
    _Paragraph construction_, to a youth who cares only for the shop.
    _The danger of open windows_, to a child who never heard of death.
    _Some good monthly_, to a bright boy or girl who had never seen
       a magazine.

=Transitions between Paragraphs.=—Suppose that a given theme is a unit,
no idea being admitted that does not bear on the topic; suppose, further,
that the paragraphs are units, each treating a distinct part of the theme
idea; it remains to be sure that the reader gets easily from paragraph to
paragraph. Sometimes the writer is so anxious to make each paragraph a
unit in itself that the reader does not feel at once that the new section
has anything to do with the preceding.

Look back to the theme on the _Glimpse of the Lake_. There were three
things to talk about: water, boats, fishing. At the end of the paragraph
on _the water_ the attention must be led over without any jar to the
subject of _boats_. The last idea of the _water_ paragraph was that
the edge of the lake grew white and distinct. In beginning the new
paragraph, we may refer to that idea. “Breaking through that white streak
of water near the shore comes a dark something,” etc.

Now look at the paragraph on fishing. How does the writer try to get over
to the _fishing_ from the _boats_? Explain in recitation.

The joints of the theme should be smooth and strong, like the joints of
bamboo—not a rude joint made by chisel and hammer.

=Written Exercise.=—The instructor will hand you in class your themes
thus far written. Go over them carefully, trying by revision to make the
thought connection closer between the paragraphs. For the future, always
read carefully the whole paragraph before beginning the next.

=Transitions between Sentences.=—Within the paragraph each sentence
should grow vitally out of the preceding. “Connection is the soul of good
writing,” said the great translator, Jowett of Balliol. _Plan sentences
ahead; and read each sentence before you write the next._ Make it
impossible for people to say of you as they used to say of Emerson, “His
sentences read equally well in any order.” Make it impossible to pick
a sentence out and set it down elsewhere, without tearing the theme as
Æneas rent young Polydore.

Frequently the sentences can be bound tighter together by beginning the
next with a reference to some idea contained in the preceding. Burke,
pleading in Parliament for America, said: “But with regard to her own
internal establishment, she may, I doubt not she will, contribute in
moderation. I say in moderation, for she ought not to be permitted to
exhaust herself. She ought to be reserved to a war, the weight of which,
with the enemies that we are most likely to have, must be considerable
in her quarter of the globe. There she may serve you, and serve you
essentially.” Here the last words of each sentence suggest the first
words of the next. Of course this way of getting coherence is easily
overdone; but it is very valuable, nevertheless.

It is easy to discover the order in which Ruskin wrote the following
sentences, here printed in wrong order. Find the true arrangement, and
tell how it was found.

    Well, whatever bit of a wise man’s work is honestly and
    benevolently done, that bit is his book, or his piece of art.
    But, again, I ask you, do you at all believe in honesty or at
    all in kindness, or do you think there is never any honesty
    or benevolence in wise people? If you read rightly, you will
    easily discover the true bits, and those _are_ the book.

=Oral Exercise.=—Change either the grammatical construction or the order
of words wherever you think such change will increase the coherence of
the following paragraph.

“We were coasting down chapel hill. In western New York, this is one
of many similar long hills. This state is indeed a coaster’s paradise
in many parts. The particular paradise I speak of, saw, however, a
disastrous fall of a brave young Adam and a gentle young Eve. Williams,
I mean by this, who was coming like a meteor down the hill, with Miss ——
in front of him on the “bob-sled,” as he reached the bridge, was thrown
out of the track. Luckless bridge! it ought to have been guarded by
stout rails. There were no rails, however, and across the narrow canyon,
Williams, with his precious charge, took a flying leap. On the other side
of it, five feet below, was a wooden abutment. The lives of the young
people were saved by this; for the sled shot across the gulf and landed
on the projection. We picked the adventurers up from this perilous perch.
They were more surprised than hurt. But after he had time to think,
Williams confessed that he was never more frightened in his life; for he
thought of the thirty feet of space below that wooden ledge.”



=Authority.=—If the art of writing is the art of saying what we mean,
we must use words that the reader will understand. Of course the word
_reader_ is rather general: there are readers and readers. An article
written for adults would show different words from one written for
children. For the purposes of this chapter, our typical reader is the
American or the Englishman who has a good public school training. This
“average man” may in theory happen to live in London, or in Maine, or,
again, in Texas. Now, there are certain words used in Texas that are
not used in London or in Maine. In parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania
a small pail is called a “blickey.” Most natives of Chicago never
heard the word. Such words as “blickey” are called _provincialisms_ or
_localisms_, and are ruled out. Our words must be _national_. This need
not mean international; many words are used in England that need not be
used in America, and _vice versâ_. The American speaks of _switching_ a
train; the Englishman speaks of _shunting_ it. With the former the train
goes up a steep _grade_; with the latter it goes up a _gradient_. The
Englishman calls _baggage_, _luggage_, a word that Americans are more
likely to use of those pieces only that can be carried in the hand. It
is to be presumed that national differences of this sort are known to
American and Englishman alike; therefore there is no reason why either
should change from the usage of his country. Good English is essentially
the same in all English-speaking countries.

One other matter is suggested by the words _national usage_. A nation is
composed of all sorts and conditions of men. Each class, each trade and
profession, has its own pet expressions and contractions. Good usage does
not recognize these. The dialect of the college, or the ball-ground, or
the counting-room, or the law-courts, is racy enough and proper enough
in its place; but it has no place in standard English. A student may
_flunk_, but only in school. A book of accounts can be _posted_, but not
a man.

Again, our words must not be so old-fashioned or obsolete that they are
unintelligible. They must be _present_. _Let_ once meant “to hinder.”
Naturally no one would use it in this sense to-day.

Many words that are both national and present are not permitted, since
they are not _reputable_. They are used, but wrongly so; used by the
careless and the uneducated. A great number of such expressions are
perfectly well understood wherever English is spoken, but if one employs
them one will be set down as careless or ignorant; for example, _ain’t_
is intelligible to all, but its use is known to be a mark of vulgarity;
such a word is called a _vulgarism_. Most slang consists of vulgarisms,
though some slang finally becomes reputable English. Reputable words are
those employed by the best writers. By _best_ is meant writers who have
literary distinction, and who know and regard the structure and history
of English literary words. In this day, when everybody scribbles and
prints, there are countless writers whose usage is not really reputable.
The newspapers, though they have done much to free modern English from
pedantry, are not usually reputable in usage. The English of very many
novelists is in bad repute. Even certain writers of eminence, such as
Dickens and Thomas Hughes, are guilty of using unreputable words and
senses of words. Such essayists as Matthew Arnold and John Fiske; such
writers of fiction as Thackeray, Hawthorne, Stevenson, and Henry James;
such historians as Green and Parkman—these men are in general safe models
in matters of usage.

To sum up, then; if we would be understood, and would be reckoned as
educated persons, we must use words that are reputable, national, and
present. _Good usage is the employment of such words and, senses of
words as the body of reputable writers sanction by their own practice
to-day._ Notice that _the body_ of reputable writers is specified. No one
author makes good use, any more than one swallow makes a summer. When a
critic wishes to prove by authority that a given expression is English,
he must be able to quote it from many authors.

=The Dictionary.=—A dictionary is a codification of good usage. Indeed,
a large dictionary codifies also much bad usage, explaining in the case
of the latter the particular form of badness, whether local usage, or
colloquial usage, or vulgar usage. Such a dictionary also outlines
the history of each word, so far as this is known; it can here be
learned what was standard English yesterday, what three centuries ago.
A dictionary habit is indispensable to every one. When in doubt about
the present meaning or pronunciation of a word, or curious as to its
history, look it up. Have an abridged dictionary of your own,—the less
abridged the better,—but consult also the unabridged books frequently.
Every author rediscovers the charm that lies in the dictionary. To find
that charm, every word of the given explanations should be read, and the
system of _diacritical marks_, which show syllabification, accent, vowel,
and consonant sounds, should be studied.

=Barbarisms.=—Lord Chesterfield writes to his son: “The first thing you
should attend to is, to speak whatever language you do speak, in its
greatest purity, and according to the rules of grammar; for we must never
offend against grammar, nor make use of words which are not really words.”

A word that is not in a good dictionary, or is there branded as
provincial or as vulgar, is not really a word, and should not be used.
An expression that has not been recognized by good use is called a
_barbarism_. Often such terms are incorrectly formed, as when they
are coined by ignorant persons; often they are corruptions of words.
_Motorneer_ is wrongly coined; _slick_ is corrupted from _sleek_.
_Motorneer_ is made up of _motor_ plus the ending _er_. The _ne_ is
left over from the discarded steam engine, for _motorneer_ is made by
false analogy from _engineer_. The proper word is _motorman_. If there
is need for a new word in the language,—and the need often arises in
these days of invention,—its component parts should be from the same
tongue, and it should be formed by strict analogy, on the model of some
correct, accepted word. Examine such a word as _shadowgraph_, which the
more careless newspapers began to use as soon as the “Roentgen rays”
were discovered. _Shadow_ is English; _graph_ is Greek,—a termination
that should be added only to a Greek word. Various correct formations
have been proposed for the ray-picture—_scotograph_, _radiograph_,
_skiagraph_, etc. It remains to be seen which one of these words will
become established. Examine the word _electrocution_. It is formed on
the false analogy of _execution_. _Execution_ is from the Latin _ex_ +
_sequor_, meaning “to follow up,” or, so to speak, “to chase down.” The
man who invented _electrocution_ could not have known that _sequor_ was
a part of _execution_. He merely tied together _electro_ and _cution_,
thinking perhaps that _cution_ meant cutting or killing. _Electro_ is
from the Greek (meaning “amber,” the substance by rubbing which some
one discovered electricity), and in strictness should not be joined to
a Latin termination, even if that be correct. We might easily have had
a good English word for death in the electrical chair; but as matters
stand, there is no one recognized word for this idea.

Other barbarisms are: _burglarize_, _to enthuse_ (a bad coinage from
_enthusiasm_), _an invite_, _double entendre_ and _nom de plume_ (two
expressions which are neither accepted French nor accepted English),
_walkist_, _a combine_, _preventative_ (for _preventive_), _reportorial_,
_managerial_, _to suicide_, _gent_, _pants_ (the trade name, but not
the literary), _photo_, _prof._, _spoonsful_. Words brought into the
English from other languages, and not yet recognized by good use,
are also barbarisms. Such words are said to be not yet _Anglicized_.
They are referred to as _alienisms_, and most may be classified as
Latinisms, Hellenisms (or Greek words), Teutonisms (chiefly German
words), Gallicisms (French words). A word peculiar to America is
an _Americanism_; one peculiar to England is a _Briticism_. Some
Americanisms and Briticisms are not really barbarisms, but are warranted
by the canon of national use.

The following words are as yet alienisms: _artiste_, _sobriquet_,
_beau monde_, _faux pas_, _entre nous_, etc. Certain other words are
Anglicized: _amateur_, _omelette_, _etiquette_, _litterateur_, etc. The
temptation to sprinkle foreign words unnecessarily into one’s English
reaches most persons sooner or later. It should be withstood. The English
language is rich enough to furnish forth any man’s vocabulary.

Many words that may finally become good English are not yet accepted. To
be on the safe side one should say: _point of view_, not _standpoint_;
_upon_, not _onto_; _written permission_, not _a permit_; _he doesn’t_,
not _he don’t_.[30]

In the list given above it is remarked of _pants_ that it is a trade name
(for what are ordinarily known as trousers or pantaloons). Commercial
English and literary English are two different things; and while a
careful novelist would hardly write about _wheatena_, or _flexibone_, or
_autoharp_, he might talk about them in the shops. Yet these words are
not correctly formed; and the same thing is unhappily true of other trade

=Improprieties.=—Suppose, now, that a writer uses a good English word,
but uses it in a sense not found in the best authors. In this case he
uses the word improperly; he commits an _impropriety_. Sometimes two
words sound so much alike that they are mistaken one for the other; for
instance, _accept_ and _except_. Sometimes the two words mean nearly the
same thing, and so come to be confused; for example, _continual_ and
_continuous_. The following list gives the words that are most frequently
mistaken for each other. In the illustrative sentences each such word is
correctly used, and in all cases the other word would be incorrect or at
least less desirable if substituted for it.


Ability, capacity.

1. The _capacity_ of man’s memory is great.

2. _Capacity_ for learning and _ability_ for doing are secrets of success.

What idea do these words share?

Acceptance, acceptation.

1. His _acceptance_ was graceful.

2. You use the word in its usual _acceptation_.

Each of these words contains the idea to _take_. In what sense may this
be said?

Access, accession.

1. _Access_ to the director is easy.

2. The library has received an _accession_ of books.

3. She was seized with an _access_ of grief.

4. The Tsar celebrated his _accession_ to the throne.

Each of these words contains the idea of _entrance_. _Access_ means the
entrance of a person into a room or into the presence of another; also
the entrance of a flood of emotion into the mind. _Accession_ means the
entrance of a person into the rights of a position; also the entrance of
books or other objects to a collection,—an addition to the collection.

Act, action.

1. Character is developed by _action_.

2. Our own _acts_ for good or ill speak for us.

Explain how both these words hold the idea of _do_.

Advance, advancement.

1. The swallow comes with the _advance_ of the season.

2. He has received _advancement_.

3. Each _advance_ of Napoleon was swift.

What idea have these two words in common? Explain how they differ.

Alternative, choice.

1. There is no _alternative_; he must go.

2. There are only three _choices_.

_Alternative_ is a choice between —— things.

Avocation, vocation.

1. My regular calling, or _vocation_, is teaching; but for an _avocation_
I spend my holidays in photography.

2. Dr. Weir Mitchell is a physician; but his regular _vocation_ of
medicine doesn’t prevent him from following the delightful _avocation_ of

Both these words have the idea of _calling_. Explain how they differ.
(What does _ab_ mean in Latin?)

Balance, remainder.

1. The _balance_ of the sum is due.

2. The _remainder_ of the day is spent.

What relation exists between _balancing_ (_a book_) and _remainder_?

Character, reputation.

1. His _reputation_ for integrity is good.

2. His _character_ is beyond reproach.

3. A man cannot always control his _reputation_, but he can control his

Character is what a man ——; reputation is what people —— of him.

Compliment, complement.

1. Woman’s mind is by many considered the _complement_ of man’s,
supplying certain things that the masculine mind has not.

2. His _compliments_ are really _flatteries_.

3. The secretary supplied the army with its _complement_ of stores.

Council, counsel.

1. His _counsel_ defended him in the trial.

2. Let good _counsel_ prevail.

3. The _council_ of ten gave good _counsel_.

Define these two words. What idea have they in common?

Falseness, falsity.

Arnold was a traitor; and the _falseness_ of his character was proved by
the _falsity_ of his statements.

What idea do these words share? Frame definitions.

Invention, discovery.

Edison _discovered_ certain laws of sound and by them _invented_
the phonograph. This _invention_ is not as yet very useful; but the
_discovery_ of the laws was important.

What idea do these words share? Frame definitions.

Limit, limitation.

1. There should be no _limitation_ of the commander’s authority.

2. There were no _limits_ to his delight.

What common idea have these words? Define each.

Majority, plurality.

A _majority_ is more than half the whole number. A _plurality_ is the
excess of votes received by one candidate above another. When there are
several candidates, the one who receives more votes than any other has a

In what respect are these words alike in meaning? in what unlike?

Observation, observance.

1. His _observation_ of the habits of birds was keen.

2. His _observance_ of the Sabbath was strict.

Is _watch_ the best word for the idea shared by these words? Discuss.

Observation, remark.

1. Johnson’s _observations_ of men were keen.

2. Johnson’s _observations_ were made with his eyes; his _remarks_,
with his tongue; and Boswell, by recording the remarks, recorded the

What relation has a _remark_ to an _observation_?

Party, person.

1. A _party_ in a silk hat must be a party of Liliputians.

2. The _party_ of the first part was two _persons_.

3. A seedy _person_ joined the party.

4. I refuse to be a _party_ to the deed.

Is the idea of a _part_ always contained in the word _party_? Discuss.

Part, portion.

1. Esau sold his _portion_, the part allotted him.

2. The human body has many _parts_.

3. Waiter, one _portion_ of roast beef will do!

What is a _portion_?

Prominent, predominant.

There were many _prominent_ men in Lincoln’s cabinet, but the President
was always _predominant_ among them.

Consult the unabridged as to the origin of these words.

Recipe, receipt.

If _receipt_ comes from the Latin meaning “taken,” it is easy to see why
when money is taken a _receipt_ is given. _Recipe_ is a Latin imperative,
meaning “take”; naturally it is the right word for a formula in cooking;
“take” so much salt, so much meal, so much water—and lo! a johnny cake.

Relative, relation.

One may have many _relatives_ with whom he does not keep up close

Is _relation_ preferably an abstract noun, or a concrete?

Residence, house.

1. Do not say _residence_ when you mean house; the simpler word is the

2. He has his _residence_ in his house.

3. His _residence_, or place of _residence_, is Montreal.

Sewage, sewerage.

The _sewage_ flows through the system of _sewerage_.

Site, situation.

1. Lovely is Zion for _situation_.

2. The _site_ of Troy was repeatedly built upon, each new Troy being in
turn destroyed by fire or by some enemy.

3. The _situation_ of Chicago by the lake gives the city fresh breezes.

What kind of place is a _site_? What is a _situation_?


Accept, except.

1. All Cretans are liars, runs the proverb: the proverb _excepts_ none.

2. He _accepted_ the invitation.

Both words have the idea of _take_. How is this true of except?

Affect, effect.

1. Even the rumor _affected_ his belief, changing it slightly.

2. He _effected_ a junction with the other army.

Which of these words could properly govern _reconciliation_? _mind_?
_health_? _release_? _conduct after release_? _destruction_?
_conscience_? _peace of mind_? Which one of the two words requires for an
object a noun expressing an action?

Aggravate, irritate, tantalize.

1. Tantalus was _tantalized_ by the sight of inaccessible fruit.

2. He _aggravates_ the difficulty by trying to excuse his act.

3. He is _aggravating_ his cold by going out.

4. He _irritates_ me by his teasing.

5. The gravity of our case is but _aggravated_ by delay.

Allude, mention.

1. Nobody would _allude_ to an experience so unpleasant to all that party.

2. He _alluded_ to Washington as the Father of his Country.

3. He _mentioned_ several ways of accomplishing the work; then he went
back to his duties, not _alluding_ to the subject again.

Can a person _allude_ to a thing without assuming knowledge of it on the
part of an audience? Can a thing be _alluded_ to for the first time? if
so, would it be the first time it was spoken of? Make _allusions_ to
several great men without _mentioning_ their names.

Antagonize, alienate.

1. By _antagonizing_ the views of his friends, he _alienated_ their
sympathies from him.

2. He _alienated_ his friends by _antagonizing_ them.

Begin, commence.

These words are often interchangeable, but _commence_ is the more formal.
_Begin_ is the better word ordinarily.

Bring, fetch.

1. Come here and _bring_ the book.

2. Go and _fetch_ the book.

Define these two words. What is their common idea?

Claim, assert, etc.

1. _Claim_ means to assert a right to a thing as one’s own. It means
neither _to say_, _to assert_, _to declare_, _to maintain_, _to hold_,
_to allege_, nor _to contend_.

2. He _claims_ the right to be heard.

3. He _maintains_ that he ought to be heard.

4. He _asserts_ that such is the fact.

NOTE.—It is better not to use _claim_ with the conjunction _that_.

Degrade, demean, debase.

1. Being in disgrace, the captain was _degraded_ from his rank.

2. He _demeans_ himself sometimes well, sometimes ill.

3. He _debases_ [or _degrades_] himself by his profanity.

Give a synonym for _demean_.

Drive, ride.

In England one _rides_ only when one is on horseback; one is said to
_drive_ if in a carriage. In America one _drives_ when one holds the
reins; but we _go driving_ even when the coachman drives. There is also
excellent authority for _take a ride_, and _go riding_, when conveyance
in a carriage is meant.

Endorse, approve, second.

1. He _seconded_ all his friend’s propositions.

2. He _endorsed_ the check across the top.

3. He _approved_ his colleague’s act.

What is a _dorsal_ fin? What does _endorse_ mean, by etymology?

Got, gotten, have.

1. _Got_ is perhaps preferable to _gotten_.

2. Don’t say you’ve _got_ a thing when you merely _have it_, without
having secured it.

What idea is common to _get_ and _have_?

Guess, think, reckon.

1. I _think_ I shall go.

2. He _reckoned_ the cost before he started.

3. I _guess_ there are a hundred.

[The habitual misuse of _guess_ is an American fault.]

Intend, calculate.

1. She received his apologies with a resentment they were _likely_, but
were not intended, to inspire.[31]

2. He aimed at the animal a blow _calculated_ to kill it.

3. I fully _intend_ to go, but cannot _calculate_ how soon.

Let, leave.

1. _Let_ me be! Don’t bother me when I want to study.

2. _Let_ me alone!

3. _Leave_ me alone here.

4. _Let_ go! Unhand me.

_Let_ once meant “to hinder.” Now it means the opposite—“permit.”

Lie, lay.

The chief trouble with the first of these two words seems to concern the
past tense: “He _laid down_ on the sofa.”

Locate, settle.

1. He _located his house_ there (not _located there_).

2. He _settled_ in Chicago.

Loan, lend.

It is not incorrect to use _loan_ in the sense of _lend_, but _lend_ is
the less formal and the preferable word.

May, can.

_May_ it not be said that any person who has not learned the difference
between these two words, _can_ hardly be permitted to call himself a user
of good English?

It is not hard to see why people confuse these two words. Often the
questioner feels that, for all practicable purposes, the refusal of his
request will make a barrier over which he _cannot_ go. When he says “Can
I go,” he is feeling, “Will you make it possible for me to go? for unless
you consent I cannot go—I cannot afford to, or I cannot conscientiously,
or I cannot and remain on right terms with you.” Nevertheless, _may_ is
the only right word to use in asking permission.

Proved, proven.

1. The point was not _proved_.

2. Verdict: “Not proven.” _Proven_ is a Scotch legal term, wrongly
supposed by some persons to be preferable to _proved_ out of the

Purpose, propose.

1. One can’t _propose_ unless he proposes something to somebody.

2. One can _purpose_ to do a thing, without _proposing_ it to any one.

How do both these words contain the idea of _placing_?

Sit, set.

The chief errors in the use of _sit_ and _set_ are two. Some people
insist on saying “_setting hen_” for “_sitting hen_,” and “the coat
_sets_ well” for “_sits_ well.” A few say, “_Sit_ yourself down,” for the
somewhat old-fashioned “_sit_ you down” (where the _you_ is nominative)
or for “_set_ yourself down.” Similarly this error has been known to
occur—“he sat the basket of eggs down.”

Stay, stop.

1. He _stopped_ at Albany; he went no farther.

2. At what hotel are you _staying_, these days?

Transpire, happen.

A good many things _happened_ that dark night when the boys were out for
a lark; but it never _transpired_ what really did happen; nothing leaked
out or got to the light.

_Spiro_ means “to breathe.” _Trans_ (across) when in composition means
through, out. Is it not clear how the present use of the word comes
about? Explain. Compare the words _expire_, _conspire_, _inspire_. How
does each get its present meaning?

Wish, want, desire.

1. It is sometimes correct enough to say _want_ in the place of _wish_.

2. You shall _want_ nothing; all shall be supplied.

3. You shall not want anything you may _desire_.

Which idea springs out of the other—_want_ from _wish_, or _wish_ from


Apt, likely, liable.

1. He is _apt_ at languages.

2. He is _likely_ to fail if he does not properly prepare himself. [Here
_apt_ was possible, but not so good as _likely_.]

_Apt_ means “fitted,” “fit.” How could such an idea as “It is _apt_ to
rain this month” spring from the idea of _fit_?

3. He is _likely_ to succeed if only he tries.

4. He is _liable_ to arrest and quarantine,—though not _likely_ to be
arrested,—merely because he is _liable_ to come down with a contagious

With what kind of feeling does a person look forward to a thing to which
he is _liable_?

Continual, continuous.

1. A _continual_ dropping is a Biblical phrase.

2. A _continuous_ dropping would not be a dropping at all. It would be a

What idea have these words in common?

Funny, odd.

1. It is _odd_ that I haven’t heard of this before.

2. It is a _funny_ sight to see Fido trying desperately to catch his own

Can you explain something of the mental process by which a child comes to
say _funny_ so frequently, and _strange_ so rarely? Is it all a matter of
imitation, or is there some other reason? Are there not more of _strange_
things in a child’s experience than of _funny_ things?

Healthy, healthful.

_Healthful_ food makes a _healthy_ man.

Give a synonym for _healthful_ as applied to food.

Imminent, eminent, immanent.

1. The _eminent_ Latin writer, Livy, speaks of Hannibal’s elephants as
looming up—_eminentes_—through the mist.

2. That God is _immanent_ in all the world was a doctrine of the Greek
fathers; they meant that he pervades and is diffused throughout it.

3. The sword of Damocles hung _imminent_, suspended by a hair.

4. He is in _imminent_ danger of disgrace.

With which two of these words is the idea of _threaten_ connected? Which
has the idea of _remain_, or _stay_, in it?

In, into.

1. Bruno looked up _into_ his master’s face.

2. He got _into_ the chariot.

3. He sprang _into_ the lake, while I stayed _in_ the boat.

4. Once _in_ the lake, he swam round.

What difference in the use of these words?

Last, latest.

1. The _last_ page of the book is done.

2. The _latest_ news from the patient is bad.

Does _latest_ imply anything as to the future?

Last, preceding.

1. Let each paragraph be joined smoothly with the _preceding_.

2. The _last_ paragraph ends the theme.

Mad, angry.

1. There is no reason for being _angry_.

2. Much learning hath made thee _mad_.

3. He was _mad_ with rage—fairly insane.

Most, almost.

1. _Most_ men are optimists.

2. _Almost_ every man loves praise.

Parse the words italicized above.

Mutual, common.

1. Our _common_ friend is the better expression, though Dickens has made
famous the corresponding worse usage.

2. Friendship may be _mutual_; a friend cannot.

3. Separated by mountains and by _mutual_ fear.

What is meant by reciprocal? Which word is a synonym of reciprocal?

Oral, verbal.

1. Miles Standish’s act of sending the Indians a snake-skin filled with
powder and ball, was a message, but not a _verbal_ message.

2. If you are to see John, let me send him this _oral_ message: Never say

3. The corrections did not affect the truth of the statements, but only
the manner: they were _verbal_ corrections.

4. The telegraph operator translates into _verbal_ form the message that
he hears in the ticking of his receiver.

The Latin word _os_ means mouth; the Latin word _verbum_ means a word.
Do _oral_ and _verbal_ keep the sense of the Latin words? Can a verbal
message be oral? Can an oral message be verbal? Is an oral message
ordinarily verbal? Can you imagine an oral message that is not verbal?

Posted, informed.

1. The ledger is well _posted_.

2. The editor is well _informed_.

Can you see the slightest reasonable advantage in speaking of a person as
well _posted_? In other words, does this commercial slang lend any real

Practicable, practical.

His scheme won’t work; it isn’t _practicable_. I’m afraid he isn’t so
_practical_ a schemer as we thought.

Quite, somewhat, very, rather, entirely, wholly.

1. _Quite_ never means “very,” “rather,” or “somewhat.” It means “wholly.”

2. Harry is _quite_ well; he is never sick.

3. Yes, I like him _rather_ well.

4. Thank you; I’m _quite_ myself again.

Curtail _quite_, and you get another good English adjective from the
same root. How is this shorter word related in sense to the longer? With
which of the following expressions can _quite_ be used? Well (adj.),
sick, recovered, pretty, finished, settled, nice, good, assured, patient,
used up, satisfied, a good deal, fine, a hero, a way, a mile, a noise,
a failure, a lot, a hundred, a few, a good many, a million, a dozen,
some, well (adv.), a while, an hour, your debtor, every one, all, around,
through, under, o’erthrown, down, elated, in a rage, underestimate,
vanquished, quarrelsome, lovely, everywhere, crestfallen.

Real, really, extremely.

1. I think he’s a _real_ Count.

2. I think he’s _extremely_ mean.

3. He’s _really_ a very fine fellow.

Parse the words italicized above.

Some, somewhat.

1. The sick man is _somewhat_ better this morning.

2. _Some_ men have greatness thrust upon them.

Parse the words italicized above.

Without, unless.

1. I can’t go _unless_ there is a holiday.

2. I can’t go _without_ getting permission.

Parse the words italicized above.

=Oral Exercise.=—The following sentences are from John Ruskin. No
improprieties occur in the originals. Within each pair of brackets a word
is given, sometimes the right word, sometimes the wrong word. Study the
meaning of each sentence, and satisfy yourself as to what is the best
expression for each place in question.

1. The ennobling difference between one man and another—between one
animal and another—is precisely in this, that one feels more than
another. If we were sponges, perhaps sensation might not be easily
[gotten] for us; if we were earth-worms, [apt] at every instant to be cut
in two by the spade, perhaps too much sensation might not be good for us.

2. But chiefly of all, she is taught to extend the [limitations] of her

3. Very ready we are to say of a book, “How good this is—that’s exactly
what I think!” But the right feeling is, “How [odd] that is! I never
thought of that before, and yet I see it is true; or if I do not now, I
hope I shall some day.”

4. I believe, then, with this exception, that a girl’s education should
be nearly, in its course and material of study, the same as a boy’s;
but [entirely] differently directed. A woman in any rank of life ought
to know whatever her husband is [liable] to know, but to know it in a
different way.

5. I do not blame them for this, but only for their narrow motive in
this. I would have them [want] and [assert] the title of “lady” provided
they [allege] not merely the title, but the office and duty signified by

6. And not less wrong—perhaps even more foolishly wrong (for I will
[expect] thus far what I hope to prove)—is the idea that woman is only
the shadow and attendant image of her lord.

7. But now, having no true [avocation], we pour our whole masculine
energy into the false business of money-making.

8. Having then faithfully listened to the great teachers, that you may
enter into their thoughts, you have yet this higher [advancement] to
make,—you have to enter into their hearts.

9. And, lastly, a great nation does not mock Heaven and its Powers by
pretending belief in a revelation which [asserts] the love of money to
be the root of _all_ evil, and [claiming], at the same time that it is
actuated, and [proposes] to be actuated, in all chief national deeds and
measures, by no other love.

10. But an education “which shall keep a good coat on my son’s back;
which shall [capacitate] him to ring with confidence the visitors’
bell at double-belled doors; which shall result ultimately in the
establishment of a double-belled door to his own [residence]—in a word,
which shall lead to [advance] in life—_this_ we pray for on bent knees;
and this is _all_ we pray for.” It never seems to occur to the parents
that there may be an education which in itself _is_ [advance] in Life;
that any other than that may perhaps be [advancement] in Death; and that
this essential education might be more easily [gotten] or given, than
they [guess], if they set about it in the right way, while it is for no
price and by no favor to be [got], if they set about it in the wrong.

11. The chance and scattered evil that may here and there haunt, or hide
itself in, a powerful book, never does any harm to a noble girl; but the
emptiness of an author oppresses her, and his amiable folly [degrades]
her. And if she can have [access] to a good library of old and classical
books, there need be no choosing at all. Keep the modern magazine and
novel out of your girl’s way; turn her loose into the old library every
day, and [let] her alone.

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the italicized words in the following
sentences, taken from a newspaper. According to a good dictionary, which
are barbarisms? What ones are here incorrectly used? Which ones are
colloquial—permitted in talking familiarly, but not in writing? Suggest
better expressions.

1. Her prospects for a long career on this earth are _quite_ favorable.

2. The galvanic battery was applied every hour without producing any more
satisfactory results, but hope did not abandon the _resurrectionists_.

3. When the police arrived they discovered that Burdick was wearing a
_bogus_ police star and he was arrested.

4. “If you’ll throw that gun away and put up your _dukes_ like a
gentleman, I’ll come down there and sew a button _onto_ you!”

5. Mr. Hanna was decidedly late in _showing up_ at headquarters.

6. It buttons down the front with the finest white pearl buttons of
_quite_ large size.

7. Makers of sporting goods say there are _a lot_ of bicyclists who are
ready and waiting to take up every new thing.

8. I _spotted_ two of my countrywomen at once.

9. It has been thus far an _exceptionably_ busy campaign.

=Oral Exercise.=—The following sentences are from Stevenson’s volume,
_Virginibus Puerisque_. As in the preceding exercise, decide on the best
word for each place in question.

1. Think of the heroism of Johnson, think of that superb indifference to
mortal [limit] that set him upon his dictionary, and carried him through
triumphantly to the end!

2. [Most] everybody in our land ... can understand and sympathize with an
admiral or a prize-fighter.

3. When he comes to ride with the king’s pardon, he must bestride a
chair, which he will so hurry and belabor and on which he will so
furiously [demean] himself, that the messenger will arrive, if not bloody
with spurring, at least fiery red with haste. If his romance involves
an accident upon a cliff, he must clamber in person about the chest of
drawers and fall bodily [onto] the carpet, before his imagination is

4. Surely all these are [practicable] questions to a neophyte entering
upon life with a view to play.

5. A sedentary population ... can [noways, in no wise] explain to itself
the gaiety of these passers-by.

6. To borrow and [demean] an image, all the evening street-lamps burst
into song.

7. But the conservative, while lauding progress, is ever timid of
innovation; his is the hand upheld to [council] pause; his is the signal
advising slow [advance].

=Oral Exercise.=—The following sentences are from Mrs. Gaskell’s
_Cranford_. As before, decide on the best word for each place in question.

1. There were rules and regulations for visiting and calls; and they were
announced to any young people, who might be [stopping] in the town.

2. He must have been upwards of sixty at the time of the first visit I
paid to Cranford after I had left it as a [residence].

3. She was evidently nervous from having [expected] my call.

4. My request evidently pleased the old gentleman, who took me all
[round, around[32]] the place, and showed me his six and twenty cows,
named after the different letters of the alphabet.

5. I can’t [wholly] remember the date, but I think it was in 1805 that
Miss Jenkyns wrote the longest [series, succession] of letters.

6. She never laughed at his jokes ...; and that [aggravated] him.

7. He was very, very [mad] indeed, and before all the people he lifted up
his cane and flogged Peter!

8. “Shell-fish are sometimes thought not very [healthy].”

9. The writer of the letter ... was dead long ago; and I, a stranger, not
born at the time when this occurrence [took place], was the one to open

10. I seized the opportunity, and wrote and despatched an [acceptation]
in her name.

11. He thought each shawl more beautiful than the [last].

12. I could not see that the little event in the shop below had in the
least damped Miss Matty’s curiosity as to the make of sleeves or the
[set, sit] of skirts. [If neither _sit_ nor _set_ is right here, how
recast the sentence?]

13. Miss Matty [anticipated] the sight of the glossy folds.

14. The Gordons ... were now [expected] to return very soon; and Miss
Matty, in her sisterly pride, [expected] great delight in the joy of
showing them Mr. Peter.

15. However, we all sat eyes right, square front, gazing at the
[tantalizing] curtain.

16. We (at least I) had doubts as to whether she really would enjoy the
little adventure of having her house [burglarized], as she [protested]
she would.

17. Miss Jenkyns ... never got over what she called Captain Brown’s
disparaging [observations] upon Dr. Johnson as a writer of light and
agreeable fiction.

18. It (Death) was a word not to be [alluded to] to ears polite.

=Oral Exercise.=—The following sentences are from Lord Chesterfield’s
letters to his son. As in the preceding exercise, choose the best word
for each place in question.

1. Your own [remarks] upon mankind, when compared with those which you
will find in books, will help you fix the true point.

2. There is nothing which I more wish that you should know, and which
[less] people do know, than the true use and value of time.

3. Your [neglect] of dress, while you were a schoolboy, was pardonable,
but would not be so now.

4. The [reputations] of kings and great men are only to be learned in
conversation; for they are never fairly written during their lives.

5. What does Chesterfield mean by “in a good sense,” in the following?
“Another, speaking in defence of a gentleman upon whom a censure was
moved, happily said that he thought the gentleman was more _liable_ to be
thanked and rewarded, than censured. You know, I presume, that _liable_
can never be used in a good sense.”

=Review Exercise.=—Let each word of the following list be taken up by
itself. Each member of the class should give a sentence of his own, using
the given word correctly.

Access, acceptance, alternative, avocation, observation, ability,
capacity, character, discovery, limitation, party, portion, predominance,
residence, except (verb), affect, effect, allude, claim, purpose,
transpire, liable, apt, somewhat, quite, mad, practicable.



=The English Vocabulary.=—The enormous treasure of English speech
contains something like 200,000 words.[33] Most of these were once
foreigners to the language. To tell how each came to be English would be
like telling the personal romances of all the foreign-born citizens of
these United States.

England was once inhabited by Celts, the ancestors of the Scotch, Welsh,
and Irish. The Romans under Cæsar possessed the island, and for five
hundred years held the country, but they left us, from this period
of their occupation, only half a dozen words: the names of the camp
(_castra_), the paved road (_strata_), the settlement (_colonia_), the
trench (_fossa_), the harbor (_portus_), the rampart (_vallum_). These
words remain chiefly in the names of places. A sharp eye sees them
in Lancaster, Leicester, Manchester, etc.; Stratford, street, etc.;
Lincoln, etc.; Fossway, etc.; Portsmouth, etc.; wall, bailey, bailiff
(these three words being derived from _vallum_).

In the fifth century, however, Teutonic tribes began to cross the sea and
invade the land. The Celts were driven north and west into the mountains,
and the newcomers stayed permanently. Although these Teutons—the
Anglo-Saxons—called the Celts _Welsh_, that is, strangers, they took up
a good many of the strangers’ words. They called many a river of the
land _Avon_, water, as the Celts had done,—there are fourteen Avons
to-day,—and they kept many such words as _inch_, an island (in Inchcape),
and _kill_, a church (in Kildare). Indeed, for centuries the Celts kept
on lending words to the English: _bargain_, _bodkin_, _brogue_, _clan_,
_crag_, _dagger_, _glen_, _gown_, _mitten_, _rogue_, _whiskey_, are
familiar examples of these permanent loans.

The Old English language itself was a Germanic dialect. Like Latin and
German, it was inflected,—a fact that we see to-day in the presence of
such forms as _him_, the old dative case for _he_. The inflectional
endings nearly all disappeared before Shakespeare’s time. The vocabulary
of this Old English has given us most of the words that we use as
children. For example, household names—_home_, _friends_, _father_,
_mother_, etc.; names of many emotions—_gladness_, _sorrow_, _love_,
_hate_, _fear_, etc.; names of most objects in the landscape—_tree_,
_bush_, _stone_, _hill_, _woods_, _stream_, _sun_, _moon_, etc.; common
names of animals—_horse_, _cow_, _dog_, _cat_, etc.; parts of the
body—_head_, _eye_, etc. Our household proverbs are in these Anglo-Saxon
words. “Fast bind, fast find,” is an example of a thousand similar saws
that embody the practical common sense of the people. The loves and
hates, the hopes and fears, the wit and rude wisdom of our forefathers,
have gone into Saxon words. These are not merely the words of childhood;
in hours of deep feeling, in moments when the natural disposition demands
expression, the grown man speaks in Saxon. These strong, forcible old
words are to be prized and cherished as carefully as are those of less
emotional suggestion,—the exact, discriminative Latin words.

In the ninth and tenth centuries the Norse vikings, who sailed
everywhere, sailed also to England, and for a time got the upper hand
of the Saxons. From 1013 to 1042 there were Scandinavian kings on the
English throne. But these Norse were not able to impose much of their own
language upon the country. Their settlements were named in Norse, and the
word _by_, a town, remains in hundreds of such places, as _Whitby_, the
_white town_ (from the white cliffs). From these great seamen our Saxon
ancestors learned some new nautical dialect—words like _bow_, _bowline_,
_crew_, _harbor_, _hawser_, _lee_, _stern_.

In 1066 the Normans conquered the land. These were Frenchmen whose
fathers had been Norse. They brought the French language into their
English court, and for two or three hundred years there were two
languages in England,—French on the lips of the nobles, Saxon on the
lips of the peasants. But the Saxon race was too strong to remain
an underling. Gradually it mingled with the Norman race, picking up
hundreds, even thousands of French words from the latter, but keeping its
own ways of putting words together.

By 1400, when Chaucer died, there was a new English language, almost as
much French as Saxon in vocabulary, but far less French than Saxon in
grammar. Since French is largely derived from Latin, it is clear that the
total Latin element in the vocabulary was already very great.

After Chaucer there came a general awakening of interest in ancient
civilization; and in the Revival of Learning a great many words were
adopted directly from Latin and Greek. In the sixteenth century followed
the Renaissance of literature, art, and the sciences. This made its
way to England from Italy, and naturally Englishmen caught up many
new words from Italians. For example: _alert_, _bankrupt_, _brigade_,
_bust_, _cameo_, _caricature_, _cascade_, _domino_, _fresco_, _granite_,
_influenza_, _malaria_, _niche_, _oratorio_, _pianoforte_, _ruffian_,
_studio_, _tirade_, _umbrella_, _vista_. The Spaniards, too, whom
Englishmen met in those days on the sea and at courts, have lent our
language such words as _barricade_, _bravado_, _cigar_, _desperado_,
_flotilla_, _guerilla_, _merino_, _mosquito_, _mulatto_, _renegade_,
_sherry_, _tornado_, _vanilla_.

The bold English seamen of the sixteenth century sailed back even from
America with new things and new names—like _tobacco_. In the next
century the commerce which followed hard upon the voyages of discovery
was the means of bringing to the British island many new words. Here it
may be said that the Dutch, who have rivalled the English in commerce,
and who have taught the English some tricks of seamanship,—as did the
vikings before them,—are represented in English by words like _ballast_,
_boom_, _boor_, _skipper_, _sloop_, _smack_, _trigger_, _yacht_. English
merchantmen of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries sailed to ports
Oriental and Occidental. Returning, they brought from Africa canaries and
gorillas, with the words _canary_ and _gorilla_, and told of _oases_;
from Arabia they fetched such names as _admiral_, _alcohol_, _alcove_,
_alkali_, _arsenal_, _azure_, _chemistry_, _coffee_, _cotton_, _lute_,
_magazine_, _nabob_, _naphtha_, _sherbet_, _sofa_, _syrup_, _zenith_;
indeed, some of these words had got into English through earlier English
travellers—chiefly crusaders. English sailors and travellers have
brought from China _silk_, _tea_, etc.; from India, _banyan_, _calico_,
_mullagatawny_, _musk_, _punch_, _sugar_, _thug_, etc.; from Malayan
ports, _bantam_, _cockatoo_, _gong_, _rattan_, _sago_, etc.; from Persia,
_awning_, _caravan_, _chess_, _hazard_, _horde_, _lemon_, _orange_,
_paradise_, _sash_, _shawl_, etc. Few are the languages from which a
British ear has not caught and kept a new term.

In America we have many Indian names of places and things. We have
_hominy_, _moose_, _opossum_, _raccoon_, _toboggan_, and other words from
North American tribes. Mexico gave us _chocolate_, _tomato_, etc.; the
West Indies, _potato_, _canoe_, _hurricane_; South America, _alpaca_,
_quinine_, _tapioca_, etc.

In the present century, science, both practical and pure, has discovered
thousands of facts and invented thousands of contrivances. Consequently
thousands of words have been coined, mostly from Greek, to name modern
inventions and the facts of science. A recent dictionary found it
necessary to codify 4000 technical terms that had sprung up within the
last few years.

=Anglo-Saxon Prefixes and Suffixes.=—The following prefixes are
Anglo-Saxon. Think of words made with each.

    1. _A-_ = in, on.

    2. _Be-._ What grammatical effect has this prefix on _moan_,
    _daub_, _friend_?

    3. _For-._ What effect has this on _bid_, _lorn_? Compare Latin
    _per_, in _perfect_.

    4. _Fore-._

    5. _Gain-_ = against.

    6. _Mis-_ (A.-S. _mis_ = wrong). What effect on _deed_, _lead_?
    A French prefix from Latin _minus_ occurs in _mischief_, etc.

    7. _Th-._

    8. _Un-._

    9. _With-_ (A.-S. _wither_ = back).

Similarly think of words made with each of the following _noun_ suffixes
and explain the force of each suffix.

    1. _-ard_ = habitual.

    2. _-craft._

    3. _-dom._

    4. _-en._

    5. _-er._

    6. _-hood._

    7. _-ing_ = son of, part. Meaning of _Browning_? _lording_?
    _tithing_? There is an older suffix which appears in the
    gerund—_taking_, _hunting._

    8. _-kin._

    9. _-ling._

    10. _-ness._

    11. _-ock._

    12. _-ric_ = power.

    13. _-ship._

    14. _-stead_ = place.

    15. _-ster._

    16. _-wright._

    17. _-ward._

Think of words made with the following _adjective_ suffixes.

    1. _-ed._

    2. _-en._

    3. _-ern._

    4. _-fast._

    5. _-fold._

    6. _-ful._

    7. _-ish._

    8. _-less._

    9. _-like_ (_lic_ = body, form).

    10. _-right._

    11. _-some_ = same.

    12. _-y._

Think of words made with the following _adverb_ suffixes.

    1. _-es_ (the old genitive ending).

    2. _-ly_ (_lic_ = body, form).

    3. _-ling_, _-long_.

    4. _-meal._

    5. _-om_ (old dative plural).

    6. _-ward._

    7. _-wise_ = manner.

=The Latin Element.=—The Latin element is numerically the larger part
of the language. It is therefore impossible to know well the English
vocabulary except by knowing a considerable part of the Latin language.
Whether our Latin words come directly through the ancient classics, or
through the Romance tongues, such as French, Italian, and Spanish, to
know their full force one must know the original meaning of them, as used
by the ancient race of world-conquerors. Every instructor in English
watches with keen interest the progress made by his students in their
Latin studies. Of course, the mere knowledge that a given word is derived
from a given Latin word does not necessarily give the student practical
command of it in his writing; but usually such knowledge does help to a
better understanding of the meaning the word has to-day, and so tends
both to fix it in memory and to insure exact use of it.

=Latin Words transferred to English.=—Some Latin words have been
transferred bodily into English. Discuss with the instructor the
derivation of the present meanings of the following:—

    _Alias_ = otherwise; _album_ = white; _amanuensis_ =
    hand-writer; _animus_ = mind; _arena_ = sand; _boa_ = great
    serpent; _camera_ = chamber; _cornucopia_ = horn of plenty;
    _extra_ = beyond; _focus_ = hearth; _gratis_ = for nothing;
    _item_ = also; _memento_ = remember (imperative); _nostrum_ =
    our own; _omnibus_ = for all; _posse_ = to be able; _quorum_
    = of whom; _rebus_ = by things; _rostrum_ = beak; _torpedo_ =
    numbness; _vagary_ = to wander; _videlicet_ = it can be seen;
    _virago_ = a mannish woman.

=Latin Prefixes and Suffixes.=—Recall English words having the following
prefixes, and explain the effect of the prefix on each.

    _A-_, _ab-_, _abs-_ = from; _ad-_ = to; _amb-_ = about; _ante-_
    = before; _bis-_, _bi-_ = twice; _circum-_ = around; _cum-_
    (found in French _col-_, _com-_, _cor-_, _coun-_) = with;
    _contra-_ = against; _de-_ = down, from; _dis-_ (Fr. _des-_,
    _de-_) = asunder; _ex-_ (Fr. _es-_, _e-_) = from; _extra-_ =
    beyond; _in-_ (Fr. _en-_, _em-_) = in, into; _in-_ (_il-_,
    _im-_, _ir-_, _ig-_) = not; _inter-_ = between, among; _non-_
    = not; _ob-_ = against; _pene-_ = almost; _per-_ = through;
    _post-_ = after; _præ-_, _pre-_ = before; _præter-_ = beyond;
    _pro-_ (Fr. _pour_ = _pol-_, _por-_, _pur-_) = for; _re-_ =
    back; _retro-_ = backwards; _se-_ = apart; _sub-_ (_suc-_,
    _suf-_, _sum-_, _sup-_, _sur-_, _sus-_) = under; _super-_ =
    above; _trans-_ = across; _vice-_ = in place of.

Recall words having the following Latin or Latin-French suffixes, and
explain each in terms of the meaning of the suffix.

    _-Aceous_ (Lat. _-aceus_) = made of; _-al_ (Latin _-alis_) =
    pertaining to; _-able_ (_-ible_), Lat. (_h_)_abilis_ = capable
    of being; _-ple_, _-ble_ (Latin _-plex_) = fold; _-plex_ =
    fold; _-lent_ (Lat. _-lentus_) = full of; _-ose_ (Lat. _-osus_)
    = full of; _-und_ (Lat. _-undus_) = full of; _-ulous_ (Lat.
    _-ulus_)= full of.

=Latin Roots in English.=—Below are listed a few of the many Latin words
that have given us English words. Recall as many as possible of their
derivatives, and define each in terms of the original meaning. Thus
_acer_, sharp, gives us _acrimony_, sharpness, _acrid_, sour. Some member
of the class may know that through the French it gives us _vinegar_,
sharp wine. Make notes in your note-book of any derivatives that are new
to you. _Ædes_, a building; _æquus_, equal; _ager_, a field; _agere_,
to do; _alere_, to nourish—perfect participle _altus_, nourished,
therefore high; _amare_, to love; _anima_, life; _animus_, mind; _annus_,
a year; _aqua_, water; _arcus_, a bow; _ardere_ (pf. ptc. _arsus_), to
burn; _audire_, to hear; _augere_ (pf. ptc. _auctus_), to increase;
_brevis_, brief; _cadere_ (pf. ptc. _casus_), to fall; _candere_, to
shine; _capere_, to take; _caput_, a head; _cavus_, hollow; _cernere_
(pf. ptc. _cretus_), to distinguish; _clarus_, clear; _cor_, heart;
_corona_, crown; _credere_, to believe; _crescere_ (pf. ptc. _cretus_),
to grow; _crudus_, raw; _cura_, care; _deus_, god; _dicere_, to say;
_docere_, to teach; _dominus_, lord (Fr. _damsel_, _dame_, _madame_);
_domus_, a house; _ducere_, to lead; _errare_, to wander; _facere_, to
make; _filum_, a thread; _finis_, the end; _flos_, a flower; _frangere_
(stems, _frag_, _fract_), to break; _fortis_, strong; _fundere_, to pour;
_gradus_, a step; _gravis_, heavy; _homo_, a man; _imperare_, to command;
_jus_, right; _legere_ (_lect_), to read; _ligo_, to bind; _litera_, a
letter; _loqui_, to speak; _lumen_, light; _luna_, the moon; _magnus_,
great; _manus_, a hand; _maturus_, ripe; _mittere_ (_missere_), to send;
_mors_, death; _novus_, new; _nox_, night; _omnis_, all; _ordo_, order;
_pascere_ (pf. ptc. _pastus_), to feed; _pati_ (pf. ptc. _passus_),
to suffer; _petere_, to seek; _portare_, to carry; _radix_, a root;
_regere_ (pf. ptc. _rectus_), to rule; _scire_, to know; _sequi_ (pf.
ptc. _secutus_), to follow; _socius_, a companion; _spirare_, to breathe;
_tangere_, to touch; _texere_, to weave; _vanus_, empty; _videre_, to
see; _vincere_ (pf. ptc. _victus_), to conquer; _vulgus_, the crowd.

=Greek Roots in English.=—Recall English words made from the following
Greek roots, and explain each. Make notes in your note-book of those
derivatives that are new to you. _Anthropos_, a man; _aster_, _astron_,
a star; _autos_, self; _biblos_, a book; _bios_, life; _deka_, ten;
_dokein_, to think; _dunamis_, power; _eu_, well; _ge_, the earth;
_graphein_, to write; _hemi_, half; _hippos_, a horse; _homos_, the same;
_kuklos_, a circle; _monos_, alone; _orthos_, right; _pan_, all; _petra_,
a rock; _philein_, to love; _phone_, a sound; _poiein_, to make;[34]
_skopein_, to see; _sophia_, wisdom; _tele_, distant; _theos_, a god.

=Curious Words.=—Look up and copy into your note-book the origin of the
following words. _Assassin_, _august_, _dahlia_, _dunce_, _epicure_,
_galvanic_, _guillotine_, _hermetically_, _January_, _jovial_, _July_,
_lynch_, _March_, _mentor_, _panic_, _phaeton_, _quixotic_, _stentorian_,
_tantalize_, _tawdry_. _Bayonet_, _bedlam_, _copper_, _damask_, _dollar_,
_gasconade_, _gipsy_, _laconic_, _lumber_, _meander_, _milliner_,
_palace_, _utopian_. _Abominate_, _adieu_, _amethyst_, _apothecary_,
_beldam_, _capricious_, _cemetery_, _cheap_, _checkmate_, _cobalt_,
_curmudgeon_, _dainty_, _daisy_, _dismal_, _emolument_, _salary_,
_fanatic_, _gentleman_, _heretic_, _inculcate_, _infant_, _intoxicated_,
_maidenhair_ (fern), _maxim_, _nausea_, _onyx_, _parlor_, _Porte_
(the Sublime Porte), _pupil_, _silly_, _sincere_, _tariff_, _trump_
(card). _Atonement_, _belfry_, _brimstone_, _carouse_, _counterpane_,
_coward_, _crayfish_, _dandelion_, _dirge_, _drawing-room_, _easel_,
_gospel-grove_, _harbinger_, _Jerusalem artichoke_, _line_ (garments),
_licorice_, _nostril_, _porpoise_, _quinsy_, _squirrel_, _summerset_,
_surgeon_, _thorough_, _treacle_, _trifle_, _wassail_, _whole_.

=Written Exercise.=—Examine the following passages separately. Classify
all the words in two columns, one giving those of Saxon derivation, the
other those of Latin derivation. Consult the dictionary in case of doubt.
Then compare the English of Dr. Johnson with that of Dr. Blackmore. The
former is writing in his own person as an eighteenth century scholar; the
latter in the person of the stout John Ridd, a seventeenth century youth.

    No degree of knowledge attainable by man is able to set him
    above the want of hourly assistance, or to extinguish the
    desire of fond endearments, and tender officiousness; and
    therefore, no one should think it unnecessary to learn those
    arts by which friendship may be gained. Kindness is preserved
    by a constant reciprocation of benefits or interchange of
    pleasures; but such benefits only can be bestowed, as others
    are capable to receive, and such pleasures only imparted, as
    others are qualified to enjoy.—DR. JOHNSON, _Rambler for July
    9, 1751_.

    When I had travelled two miles or so, conquered now and
    then with cold, and coming out to rub my legs into a lively
    friction, and only fishing here and there because of the
    tumbling water, suddenly, in an open space, where meadows
    spread about it, I found a good stream flowing softly into the
    body of our brook. And it brought, so far as I could guess by
    the sweep of it under my knee-caps, a larger power of clear
    water than the Lynn itself had; only it came more quietly down,
    not being troubled with stairs and steps, as the fortune of the
    Lynn is, but gliding smoothly and forcibly, as if upon some set
    purpose.—R. D. BLACKMORE, _Lorna Doone_.



=Ideas without Words.=—It is possible to have ideas without having words
in which to express them. Miss Helen Keller[35] had plenty of ideas
before any one taught her the words for them. The painter trains himself
to express ideas in paint; the sculptor, in stone. The inventor expresses
ideas in machinery. Because words however are the commonest means of
expression, it is desirable that one should know as many as possible.
A person who has ideas will indeed be able to communicate them in some
rough-and-ready form of speech; will use a poor word, if he cannot think
of a good one, and by hook or crook will manage to be understood. But an
unread, untrained man trying to communicate some fine shade of thought is
commonly a sorry sight, no matter how bright his mind may be.

=Words without Ideas.=—On the other hand, it is possible to know words
without knowing what they stand for. Some persons of quick verbal memory
pick up phrases readily, and utter them glibly, with little sense of
their meaning. Gratiano, of Shakespeare’s drama, “spoke an infinite deal
of nothing, more than any man in Venice.” Such persons as he have given
ground for the sarcastic remark that language is the art of concealing
thought. The use of meaningless phrases, and the use of words without
a care to their exact meaning, is one danger that besets the student
of composition. The boy who fluently remarks that he recently lost
his little _saturnine_ (meaning _canine_, i.e. _dog_); the lady, Mrs.
Malaprop, who walks through Sheridan’s play, saying, “You go first,
and we’ll _precede_ you”; the man, Launcelot Gobbo, who enlivens _The
Merchant of Venice_ with such remarks as that “his suit is _impertinent_
to himself,”—these people need a book of synonyms. Unless a writer is
sure that he knows definitely the meaning of the word that his pen is
about to trace, he would much better stay his hand.

=Ideas and Words.=—Though one mind may have ideas but lack their names,
and though another may have the names but lack the notions for which
they stand, yet both ideas and words are indispensable to the writer. A
general recipe for getting ideas is hardly easier to give than a recipe
for being great, or for having blue eyes, or for being liked by every
one. Ideas are had through new experiences, new acquaintanceships, new
sights; through hard thinking, through hard reading,—in short, through
living. Mr. Henry James, the eminent novelist, gives a direction for
being a good novelist: _Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is
lost._ The student who is eager to know as much as possible of what is
worth knowing in life, and is devoured with curiosity to learn the name
of everything, is sure to acquire both new ideas and new words.[36]

It is nevertheless not to be denied that to some extent ideas can be
bred by the study of the mere words. How true this is appears when it is
remembered that words are the embalmed ideas of men. A study of such a
list as the Curious Words given in the preceding chapter cannot but add
to the student’s mental stores. Thackeray, it is said, used to read the
dictionary before he composed. It may be presumed that the habit used
not merely to acquaint him with new words, but to arouse his mind and
set it to fashioning new thoughts. The attempt to discriminate between
words that mean nearly, not quite, the same thing, results in a distinct
gain in thought, and in power of thought. It is probable that no two
words have exactly the same sense; to discover the difference enriches
the discoverer’s store of knowledge, and develops one of the highest
mental powers. A command of words not merely affords relief from the pain
of dumbness, not merely loosens the tongue; it aids reasoning. Thinking
proceeds more securely the moment a hazy notion is given definite shape
in the right word. Indeed, the mere search for the right word is always a
means of clearing up the thought. To be tortured in mind by inability to
find the unique phrase, sometimes means a mere fault in verbal memory; as
often, or oftener, it is due to a vagueness of thinking.

By way of summary, then, acquisition of ideas furthers acquisition
of words, and _vice versâ_. To be poor in ideas, or to be poor in
language,—either means failure for a writer.

=The Two Vocabularies.=—Of all the 200,000 words in our language,
probably no one man would understand one-half if he saw them, undefined,
in a dictionary. Just how large a man’s reading vocabulary can be is not
known. Professor Holden, the astronomer, found that his own was about
33,000 words. It is therefore likely that 25,000 is not an unusual number
for an educated person to understand. But the _reading_ or _passive_
vocabulary is very different in size from the _writing_ or _active_
vocabulary. To remember the sense of a word when it is seen is far less
difficult than to recall the word whenever its meaning rises dimly in
the mind. A little child has but one set of words—an active vocabulary;
it makes oral use of all the expressions it knows. But the older person
reads so much that he comes to recognize myriads of words that rarely
rise to his lips or find their way to his pen. There is inevitably
therefore a widening gap between the expressions he can recognize and
those he can employ. That this should be so is in part desirable. A
person of fourteen or sixteen or eighteen must, if he reads carefully,
learn to understand many expressions that are too bookish for his own
uses. The word _temerarious_, for instance, is needed once where its
unpretentious cousin, _rash_, is needed a score of times. With some words
the young writer needs only a speaking acquaintance; others are good
friends that, in Hamlet’s phrase, he should buckle to his soul with hoops
of steel. But it is safe to say that if a person can transfer some part
of his reading vocabulary into his writing vocabulary, he will be much
benefited by so doing. There is probably no reason why a freshman should
not enter college master of a writing vocabulary of 5000 words, and a
reading vocabulary of 15,000. Shakespeare’s works contain about 15,000
different words, the King James version of the Bible fewer than 6000.
Again, each person uses the same words with many different meanings.
Every great writer employs the same words in many figurative senses;
the fact is perhaps the most striking proof of his literary power. If
Shakespeare’s vocabulary were reckoned as including these figurative
meanings, it would shoot up to a wonderful figure.

“It would be absurd,” says Professor A. S. Hill, with characteristic good
sense, “for a boy to have the desirableness of enlarging his vocabulary
constantly on his mind; but if he avails himself of his opportunities, in
the school-room or out of it, he will be surprised to find how rapidly
his vocabulary grows.” Doubtless however the matter must receive some
definite attention, if the best results are to be secured. In the rest
of this chapter particular methods of acquiring new words and senses of
words will be considered.

=A Vocabulary Book.=—It will be found helpful to buy a strong blank-book
of convenient size, and to copy into this every new word that seems to
the student available for his writing; not every new word he meets, for
some will impress him as too bookish or pedantic, but those which appear
to express happily some idea that has lain unnamed in his mind.

=Figurative Uses of Common Words.=—A writer owes it to himself and to
the reader to get all the service he legitimately can out of common
words, because in the end so doing spares both persons a vast deal of
unnecessary labor. Examine a handful of the well-worn counters of
speech,—such words as _poor_, _heavy_, _thin_, _best_, _full_, _manner_,
_sense_, _deep_, _sweet_. They are like dull pebbles brought home from
the beach. But dip them back into the brine of a good book, and they
become gems. The words specified above appear in a paragraph of Mr. W. D.
Howells: “I followed Irving, too, in my later reading, but at haphazard,
and with other authors at the same time. I did my poor best to be amused
by his _Knickerbocker History of New York_, because my father liked it
so much, but secretly I found it heavy; and a few years ago when I went
carefully through it again, I could not laugh. Even as a boy I found some
other things of his up-hill work. There was the beautiful manner, but
the thought seemed thin; and I do not remember having been much amused
by _Bracebridge Hall_, though I read it devoutly, and with a full sense
that it would be very _comme il faut_ to like it. But I did like the life
of Goldsmith; I liked it a great deal better than the more authoritative
life by Forster, and I think there is a deeper and sweeter sense of
Goldsmith in it.”[37]

Observe the various duties that the plainest words were persuaded
into doing for Shakespeare. With him the word _old_ applies to widely
different things: _Old arms_, _old beard_, _old limbs_, _old eyes_, _old
bones_, _old feet_, _old heart_, _old wrinkles_, _old wit_, _old care_,
_old woe_, _old hate_, _old custom_, _old days_. What does each of these
phrases mean? He is fond of contrasting simple words; thus, “He’ll take
his _old_ course in a country _new_.”

Note how many abstract ideas in Shakespeare are contented with the word
_heavy_, which ordinary people apply merely to coal, lead, and such
uninspiring commodities. _Heavy accent_, _heavy news_, _heavy sin_,
_heavy act_, _heavy task_, _heavy day_, _heavy hour_, _heavy gait_,
_heavy leave_, _heavy message_, _heavy summons_. Explain what each

Similarly there are _light gifts_, _light behavior_, _light heart_,
_light loss_, _light of foot_, _light wings_, _light foam_. Another
drudge of a word, _thick_, learns new and pleasanter tasks of the
great poet. _Thick sight_, _thick perils_, _thick in their thoughts_,
_thick sighs_, _thick slumber_. Explain each of these phrases. Opposed
to _thick_ is _thin_: _thin air_, _thin drink_, _thin and slender
pittance_. These are the things that Shakespeare calls _high_: _high
deeds_, _high descent_, _high desert_, _high designs_, _high disgrace_,
_high exploits_, _high feats_, _high good trim_, _high heaven_, _high
hope_, _high perfection_, _high resolve_, _high reward_. One more word,
_golden_. Lesser poets would apply it to physical objects. Shakespeare,
too, speaks of the sun “Kissing with golden face the meadows green,”
and of “This majestical roof fretted with golden fire.” But elsewhere
he manages to apply the adjective to things that cannot so directly be
called golden. Thus: “A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross.”
“... wear a golden sorrow.” “Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney
sweepers, come to dust.” “Nestor’s golden words.” Explain each of these

Of course many of these figurative expressions are too poetical by far
for the prose of high school students. Nevertheless, many others would
be appropriate in the manuscript of any person,—for instance, _high
designs_, _high deeds_, _high exploits_, _high resolve_. Such uses as
these can be cultivated to the enrichment of the vocabulary.

=Written Exercise.=[39]—Each of the following adjectives applies
primarily to physical objects, that can be seen, or heard, or touched, or
tasted. But each is often raised to a higher use, being made to name some
quality of character, or some other abstract idea. Take the adjectives
one by one, and under each write in class as many abstract words as you
think can properly be modified by the given adjective. Thus the adjective
_fine_, which is used of such physical objects as _sand_, _cloth_,
_particles_, may also apply to _courage_, _sense of honor_, _presence_,
_phrases_, _words_, _deeds_.

1. Sweet. 2. Sour. 3. Bitter. 4. Soft. 5. Hard. 6. Smooth. 7. Rough. 8.
Delicious. 9. Insipid. 10. Cold. 11. Freezing. 12. Icy. 13. Burning. 14.
Chilly. 15. Blue. 16. White. 17. Black. 18. Gray. 19. Brown. 20. Green.
21. Dark. 22. Shadowy. 23. Misty. 24. Cloudy. 25. Windy. 26. Stormy. 27.
Transparent. 28. Blunt. 29. Sharp. 30. Keen. 31. Dull. 32. Fragrant. 33.
Malodorous. 34. Shining. 35. Beaming. 36. Glowing. 37. Glittering. 38.
Blazing. 39. Hazy. 40. Brilliant. 41. Muddy. 42. Rippling.

=The Value of Careful Reading.=—A writer must perhaps be as dependent on
books for his vocabulary as on any other one source. Yet it is possible
to read a great deal without absorbing many new expressions. To gain new
words and new ideas, the student must compel himself to read slowly.
Impatient to hurry on and learn how the tale or poem ends, many a youth
is accustomed to read so rapidly as to miss the best part of what the
author is trying to say. Thoughts cannot be read so rapidly as words.
To get at the thoughts and really to retain the valuable expressions,
the student must scrutinize and ponder as he reads. Each word must be
thoroughly understood; its exact value in the given sentence must be
grasped. It will not do to draft off a long list of new expressions
into the note-book, and then investigate the meaning of each after the
connection in which each was used has been forgotten. Usually the best
way is to look up the meaning when the word is come upon. This is always
the best way when a passage is being read with a view to increasing
one’s vocabulary. When a tale or poem or essay is being read for its
general theme, or for its literary construction, it is often desirable to
underline each new word, leaving the meaning to be investigated a little
later. In finding the value of the word in its sentence, the student is
often little aided by the dictionary. Imagination and reasoning must
sometimes be called into play before the definition can be made to apply.
The dictionary—particularly the abridged dictionary—is not a magic book,
ready to explain every delicate shading that a great author gives a word
in a particular connection.

In reading silently it is due the author to read with as much expression
as if one were pronouncing the words aloud. One should mentally give
every word and phrase its proper accent, should feel the value of every
punctuation mark. The force of such a passage as the following, from
Carlyle, will be lost unless the reader puts the emphasis in exactly the
right places.

    Manhood begins when we have in any way made truce with
    Necessity; begins, at all events, when we have surrendered to
    Necessity, as the most part only do; but begins joyfully and
    hopefully only when we have reconciled ourselves to Necessity;
    and thus, in reality, triumphed over it, and felt that in
    Necessity we are free.

Literature is full of words descriptive of things that all have seen or
heard. We render a service to the memory if in reading we linger long
enough to call up the colors, shapes, motions, sounds, that are suggested
by the text. Some persons recall sights more easily than sounds, some
recall sounds more easily than sights; some can remember motions more
easily than either colors, shapes, or sounds. It is therefore good
training for the word-memory if we endeavor to recall all kinds of sense
impressions. Read the following passage slowly, imagining the sights,
motions, and sensations of touch, that are suggested.

    A long way down that limpid water, chill and bright as
    an iceberg, went my little self that day on man’s choice
    errand—destruction. All the young fish seemed to know that I
    was one who had taken out God’s certificate, and meant to have
    the value of it; every one of them was aware that we desolate
    more than replenish the earth. For a cow might come and look
    into the water, and put her yellow lips down; a kingfisher,
    like a blue arrow, might shoot through the dark alleys over
    the channel, or sit on a dipping withy-bough with his beak
    sunk into his breast-feathers; even an otter might float down
    stream, likening himself to a log of wood, with his flat head
    flush with the water-top, and his oily eyes peering quietly;
    and yet no panic would seize other life, as it does when a
    sample of man comes.—R. D. BLACKMORE, _Lorna Doone_.

Imagine as vividly as possible each sound and other physical sensation
suggested by the following selection, from the book just quoted:—

    The volumes of the mist came rolling at me (like great logs of
    wood, pillowed out with sleepiness), and between them there was
    nothing more than waiting for the next one. Then everything
    went out of sight, and glad was I of the stone behind me, and
    view of mine own shoes. Then a distant noise went by me, as of
    many horses galloping, and in my fright I set my gun and said,
    “God send something to shoot at.” Yet nothing came, and my gun
    fell back, without my will to lower it.

    But presently, while I was thinking “What a fool I am!” arose
    as if from below my feet, so that the great stone trembled,
    that long lamenting, lonesome sound, as of an evil spirit not
    knowing what to do with it. For the moment I stood like a root,
    without either hand or foot to help me, and the hair of my head
    began to crawl, lifting my hat, as a snail lifts his house, and
    my heart like a shuttle went to and fro. But finding no harm
    to come of it, neither visible form approaching, I wiped my
    forehead and hoped for the best, and resolved to run every step
    of the way till I drew our own latch behind me.

    Yet here again I was disappointed, for no sooner was I come
    to the cross-ways by the black pool in the hole, but I heard
    through the patter of my own feet a rough low sound very close
    in the fog, as of a hobbled sheep a-coughing. I listened, and
    feared, and yet listened again, though I wanted not to hear
    it. For being in haste of the homeward road, and all my heart
    having heels to it, loath I was to stop in the dusk for the
    sake of an aged wether. Yet partly my love of all animals, and
    partly my fear of the farmer’s disgrace, compelled me to go
    to the succor, and the noise was coming nearer. A dry, short,
    wheezing sound it was, barred with coughs and want of breath;
    but thus I made the meaning of it:—

What do you see mentally, when you read the following?

    Sweet are the uses of adversity,
    Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
    Wears yet a precious jewel in its head.

The value of minute and thoughtful reading has been set forth by John
Ruskin, in his _Sesame and Lilies_, a book well worth reading, if one is
willing to take in good part the earnest, somewhat dogmatic tone which
Ruskin so often uses. The oft-quoted passage in which he illustrates his
idea of how a poem should be read, is given below. The student who every
day reads a few pages as conscientiously as Ruskin would have him, will
find his command of words rapidly increasing, and his power of thought
increasing likewise.

    And now, merely for example’s sake, I will, with your
    permission, read a few lines of a true book with you carefully,
    and see what will come out of them. I will take a book
    perfectly known to you all. No English words are more familiar
    to us, yet few perhaps have been read with less sincerity. I
    will take these few following lines of _Lycidas_:—

    “Last came, and last did go,
    The pilot of the Galilean lake.
    Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
    (The golden opes, the iron shuts amain):
    He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake:
    ‘How well could I have spared for thee, young swain,
    Enow of such as for their bellies’ sake
    Creep and intrude and climb into the fold!
    Of other care they little reckoning make
    Than how to scramble at the shearers’ feast,
    And shove away the worthy bidden guest;
    Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
    A sheep-hook, or have learned aught else, the least
    That to the faithful herdsman’s art belongs!
    What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
    And when they list, their lean and flashy songs
    Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw.
    The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
    But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
    Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread,
    Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
    Daily devours apace, and nothing said.’”

    Let us think over this passage, and examine its words.

    First, is it not singular to find Milton assigning to St.
    Peter, not only his full episcopal function, but the very types
    of it which Protestants usually refuse most passionately? His
    “mitred” locks! Milton was no Bishop-lover; how comes St. Peter
    to be “mitred”? “Two massy keys he bore.” Is this, then, the
    power of the keys claimed by the bishops of Rome, and is it
    acknowledged here by Milton only in a poetical license, for
    the sake of its picturesqueness, that he may get the gleam of
    the golden keys to help his effect? Do not think it. Great men
    do not play stage tricks with doctrines of life and death:
    only little men do that. Milton means what he says; and means
    it with his might too—is going to put the whole strength of
    his spirit presently into the saying of it. For though not a
    lover of false bishops, he _was_ a lover of true ones; and the
    Lake-pilot is here, in his thoughts, the type and head of true
    episcopal power. For Milton reads that text, “I will give unto
    thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven” quite honestly. Puritan
    though he be, he would not blot it out of the book because
    there have been bad bishops; nay, in order to understand him,
    we must understand that verse first; it will not do to eye it
    askance, or whisper it under our breath, as if it were a weapon
    of an adverse sect. It is a solemn, universal assertion, deeply
    to be kept in mind by all sects. But perhaps we shall be better
    able to reason on it if we go on a little farther, and come
    back to it. For clearly, this marked insistence on the power
    of the true episcopate is to make us feel more weightily what
    is to be charged against the false claimants of episcopate; or
    generally, against false claimants of power and rank in the
    body of the clergy; they who, “for their bellies’ sake, creep,
    and intrude, and climb into the fold.”

    Do not think Milton uses those three words to fill up his
    verse, as a loose writer would. He needs all the three;
    specially those three, and no more than those—“creep,” and
    “intrude,” and “climb”; no other words would or could serve
    the turn, and no more could be added. For they exhaustively
    comprehend the three classes, correspondent to the three
    characters, of men who dishonestly seek ecclesiastical power.
    First, those who “creep” into the fold, who do not care for
    office, nor name, but for secret influence, and do all things
    occultly and cunningly, consenting to any servility of office
    or conduct, so only that they may intimately discern, and
    unawares direct, the minds of men. Then those who “intrude”
    (thrust, that is) themselves into the fold, who by natural
    insolence of heart and stout eloquence of tongue and fearlessly
    perseverant self-assertion obtain hearing and authority with
    the common crowd. Lastly, those who “climb,” who, by labor
    and learning both stout and sound, but selfishly exerted in
    the cause of their own ambition, gain high dignities and
    authorities, and become “lords over the heritage,” though not
    “ensamples to the flock.”

    Now go on:—

    “Of other care they little reckoning make
    Than how to scramble at the shearers’ feast.
    _Blind mouths_—”

    I pause again, for this is a strange expression,—a broken
    metaphor, one might think, careless and unscholarly.

    Not so; its very audacity and pithiness are intended to
    make us look close at the phrase and remember it. Those two
    monosyllables express the precisely accurate contraries of
    right character, in the two great offices of the Church—those
    of bishop and pastor.

    A Bishop means a person who sees.

    A Pastor means one who feeds.

    The most unbishoply character a man can have is therefore to be

    The most unpastoral is, instead of feeding, to want to be
    fed,—to be a Mouth.

    Take the two reverses together, and you have “blind mouths.”
    We may advisably follow out this idea a little. Nearly all the
    evils in the Church have arisen from bishops desiring _power_
    more than _light_. They want authority, not outlook. Whereas
    their real office is not to rule; though it may be vigorously
    to exhort and rebuke; it is the king’s office to rule; the
    bishop’s office is to _oversee_ the flock; to number it, sheep
    by sheep; to be ready always to give full account of it. Now
    it is clear he cannot give account of the souls, if he has
    not so much as numbered the bodies of his flock. The first
    thing, therefore, that a bishop has to do is at least to put
    himself in a position in which, at any moment, he can obtain
    the history from childhood of every living soul in his diocese,
    and of its present state. Down in that back street, Bill, and
    Nancy, knocking each other’s teeth out!—Does the bishop know
    all about it? Has he his eye upon them? Has he _had_ his eye
    upon them? Can he circumstantially explain to us how Bill got
    into the habit of beating Nancy about the head? If he cannot,
    he is no bishop, though he had a mitre as high as Salisbury
    steeple. He is no bishop,—he has sought to be at the helm
    instead of the masthead; he has no sight of things. “Nay,”
    you say, “it is not his duty to look after Bill in the back
    street.” What! the fat sheep that have full fleeces,—you think
    it is only those he should look after, while (go back to your
    Milton) “the hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, besides
    what the grim wolf, with privy paw” (bishops knowing nothing
    about it) “daily devours apace, and nothing said”?

    “But that’s not our idea of a bishop.” Perhaps not; but it
    was St. Paul’s, and it was Milton’s. They may be right, or we
    may be; but we must not think we are reading either one or the
    other by putting our meaning into their words.

[Ruskin goes on to discuss other expressions with the same minuteness.]

=Contributions from Other Studies.=—In acquiring any new science or art
one learns many new terms, some of which are not too technical for use
in themes. For that matter, every exercise written in any subject cannot
help being to some extent an exercise in English. The vocabulary book
should receive contributions from every line of the student’s work.

=Translation.=—There is no better means of making the memory yield up
the words which it has formerly caught, than translation. Professor A.
S. Hill quotes the reported words of Rufus Choate: “Translation should
be pursued to bring to mind and to employ all the words you already own,
and to tax and torment invention and discovery and the very deepest
memory for additional, rich, and admirably expressive words.”[40] Every
lesson in translating is a lesson in self-expression. Professor Carpenter
testifies[41] that the Latin-trained boys entering scientific schools are
remarkably superior in power of expression to those not so trained; and
his testimony is confirmed by the experience of many other teachers.

=Memorizing of Literature.=—To the habit of memorizing, many a person is
indebted not merely for high thoughts that cheer hours of solitude and
that stimulate his own thinking, but for command of words. The degree to
which the language of modern writers is derived from a few great authors
is startling. Shakespeare’s phrases are a part of the tissue of every
man’s speech to-day. Such writers as Charles Lamb bear Shakespeare’s mark
on every page. The language of the King James version of the Bible is
echoed in modern English prose and poetry. It formed styles so unlike as
those of Bunyan, Ruskin, and Abraham Lincoln. Most teachers would declare
that a habit of learning Scripture by heart is of incalculable value to a
student’s English. In the Authorized Version, and to almost as great an
extent in the Revised Version, the Anglo-Saxon element and the Latin are
both present in marvellous effectiveness.[42]

It is clear that whatever help one’s writing is to receive from
memorizing will come naturally through one’s study of literature. But
so many of the strongest words in the language, particularly the Saxon
words, have been treasured up in the homely sayings of the people, that
I have ventured to suggest a list of proverbs for memorizing. Just how
many of these it may be advisable for a given pupil to retain in mind is
a matter to be decided by the instructor. Certainly each student will do
well to learn a score of those that seem to him best worth remembering.
Each saying preserves some fine word in some natural context, a fact that
will make the word far easier to recall than it would be if learned as
an isolated term. Not more than ten or fifteen minutes a day ought to be
given to the memorizing.


  A brave retreat is a brave exploit.
  A carper can cavil at anything.
  A carrion kite will never make a good hawk.
  A child is better unborn than untaught.
  A custom more honored in the breach than in the observance.
  A dogmatical tone, a pragmatical pate.
  A diligent scholar, and the master’s paid.
  A dog’s life, hunger and ease.
  A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees farther of the two.
  A fair field and no favor.
  A fault confessed is half redressed.
  A fine new nothing.
  A fool always comes short of his reckoning.
  A fool will not be foiled.
  A forced kindness deserves no thanks.
  A good cause makes a stout heart and a strong arm.
  A good name keeps its lustre in the dark.
  A grain of prudence is worth a pound of craft.
  A great city, a great solitude.
  A honey tongue, a heart of gall.
  A man may buy gold too dear.
  A man must sell his ware at the rates of the market.
  A man never surfeits of too much honesty.
  A nod for a wise man, and a rod for a fool.
  A penny saved is a penny got.
  A wicked book is the wickeder because it cannot repent.
  A wager is a fool’s argument.
  All complain of want of memory, but none of want of judgment.
  All the craft is in the catching.
  An unpeaceable man hath no neighbor.
  Antiquity is not always a mark of verity.
  As wily as a fox.
  Better lose a jest than a friend.
  Better to go away longing than loathing.
  By ignorance we mistake, and by mistakes we learn.
  Children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts.
  Clowns are best in their own company, but gentlemen are best everywhere.
  Conscience cannot be compelled.
  Cutting out well is better than sewing up well.
  Danger and delight grow on one stock.
  Decency and decorum are not pride.
  Different sores must have different salves.
  Dexterity comes by experience.
  Do not spur a free horse.
  Even reckoning makes long friends.
  Every age confutes old errors and begets new.
  Every man hath a fool in his sleeve.
  Faint praise is disparagement.
  Force without forecast is of little avail.
  From fame to infamy is a beaten road.
  Great businesses turn on a little pin.
  Great spenders are bad lenders.
  He is lifeless that is faultless.
  Heaven will make amends for all.
  Let your purse be your master.
  Idleness is the greatest prodigality in the world.
  Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune.
  It is a wicked thing to make a dearth one’s garner.
  Lean liberty is better than fat slavery.
  Self-love is a mote in every man’s eye.
  Sloth is the key to poverty.
  Some sport is sauce to pains.
  Subtility set a trap and caught itself.
  Temporizing is sometimes great wisdom.
  The goat must browse where he is tied.
  The poet, of all sorts of artificers, is the fondest of his works.
  The prick of a pin is enough to make an empire insipid.
  The purest gold is the most ductile.
  There’s a craft in daubing.
  Thrift is good revenue.
  Too much consulting confounds.
  Truth needs not many words, but a false tale a large preamble.
  Truths too fine-spun are subtle fooleries.
  Upbraiding turns a benefit into an injury.
  Use your wit as a buckler, not as a sword.
  What God made, he never mars.
  When honor grew mercenary, money grew honorable.
  Where vice is, vengeance follows.

=Synonyms.=—A synonym is a word that means the same or nearly the same
thing as some other word. Our language, from its composite nature, is
peculiarly rich in synonyms. In hundreds of cases English has absorbed
both the Saxon and the French or Latin word for a given idea. Nearly
always, in such cases, one of the words has acquired a distinctly
different shade of meaning from the other. Indeed, one of the words
is sure to acquire a slightly different _value_, whether from its
associations or its sound. While it may roughly be said that there are
words which mean the same thing, yet for the really careful writer there
are no synonyms.

=Synonyms for Adjectives of Praise.=—In another sense there are many
people who seem to have no synonyms. You have doubtless known persons who
lacked all means of differentiating praise,—persons who applied the same
adjective to everything, from a pin to the solar system. There are the
people who find everything either _nice_ or _not nice_; the people who
eat _elegant soups_ and sigh at _elegant sunsets_; the people who have
_jolly times_, _jolly canes_, _jolly excuses_. To the _nice_ group, the
_elegant_ group, and the _jolly_ group, may be added the _lovely_ group,
and many others.

=Oral Exercise.=—Apply several proper adjectives of praise to each of
the following: soup, sunset, poodle, lady, moon, time (_e.g._ meaning
an excursion), silk, opera, book-binding, gown, face, mountain, box of
sweets, ice-cream, disposition, story, manner, soul, fan, perfume, roses,
piano-playing, sermon, editorial or leader, critique.

=A Danger.=—The study of synonyms cultivates discrimination. But as a
study for the purpose of widening the active vocabulary it must be
judiciously limited. If one turns to a book of synonyms, one finds on
many a page some score of words meaning nearly the same thing. Many of
these words are unusual, out-of-the-way expressions, to use which would
make a man sound like a prig. Simplicity is a cardinal virtue in writing.
If this fact is kept in mind, and the student does not affect too
elaborate and bookish words, the study of synonyms will be of the utmost
service to him.

=A Method of Study.=—Below are listed a good many groups of synonyms.
They are to be studied now and to be used hereafter for reference in the
work of writing. Each group contains only a few of the words that might
demand a place if the question were merely one of meaning. The words here
chosen are such as may properly appear in the work of any high school
student, _if there is need of them to express the student’s meaning_.

Even in these groups some words are simpler, and therefore in general
more desirable. _The class should first examine the entire list,
underlining carefully the simpler words in each group. These, simpler
words are regularly to be preferred when their meaning is exact enough
for the idea in mind._ The others are to be mastered for the sake of the
distinctions they express, and for their occasional usefulness as a means
of avoiding repetitions.

The underlining finished, the groups may further be studied with a view
to discriminating the various terms. Fifteen minutes a day is enough to
devote to this work, and in some cases it may be best to examine minutely
only a part of the list, leaving the rest to be used for reference.

=Written Exercise.=—It will be found useful to spend five minutes a day
in copying off several times each unfamiliar word. Unless the hand is
accustomed to tracing the word, the mind will not be likely to demand
this act of the hand in the moment of composition.

=Oral Exercise.=—Each student may be asked to pronounce every word that
he has not been in the habit of using orally. Since the same term is
likely to have been neglected by many of the class, a considerable amount
of ear-training will be received by all.

=Oral Exercise.=—One of the best, because most natural, ways of studying
synonyms, is to examine a page of good prose with a view to seeing
whether synonyms could have been used as effectively as the actual words
in the text. Choose such a page, underline the important words, and
examine the list to find the group to which each belongs. Then substitute
for the word in the text the other words of the group, and see whether
the author’s choice was wise.

=Oral Exercise.=—Each group should be taken up in turn and discussed by
the class after the meanings of unfamiliar words have been looked up in
the dictionary. The force of each word _as a synonym of the others in its
group_ should be brought out by illustrative sentences. The differences
in meaning should be talked about until they are thoroughly understood.
Fernald’s _Synonyms, Antonyms, and Prepositions_, and Smith’s _Synonyms
Discriminated_, are good books of reference if any doubtful question

=Written Exercise.=—Study an assigned number of groups, and pick out the
word which seems to have the most general meaning, the word which, more
than any other, includes the remaining members of the group. Thus, in the
series _Actual_, _authentic_, _genuine_, _real_, the last is the most
general term. Real applies to a larger number of things than any of its

=Written Exercise.=—Study an assigned number of groups, and say what idea
the members of each have in common, and, if possible, what additional
idea each member has. Thus, _Adept_, _adroit_, _deft_, _dexterous_,
_handy_, _skilful_, each have the idea _skilful_. _Adept_ means skilful
in some art or occupation. _Adroit_ means skilful with the hand, or with
the mind,—_i.e._ tactful. _Deft_, _dexterous_ usually mean skilful with
the hand; _deft_ refers to movements of the fingers, _dexterous_ to
quick motions, as of the hand. _Handy_ means skilful at manual exercises.

=Oral Exercise.=—One member of each group should be pronounced, and the
student asked to give from memory the other members.

=Oral or Written Exercise.=—Only one part of speech is represented in
each group. The student should be asked to give corresponding parts of
speech. Thus, the adjective series _Actual_, _authentic_, _genuine_,
_real_, yields the adverbs _actually_, _authentically_, _genuinely_,
_really_, and the nouns _actuality_, _authenticity_, _genuineness_,


    Abandon, cast off, desert, forswear, quit, renounce, withdraw

    Abate, decrease, diminish, mitigate, moderate.

    Abhor, abominate, detest, dislike, loathe.

    Abiding, enduring, lasting, permanent, perpetual.

    Ability, capability, capacity, competency, efficacy, power.

    Abolish, annul, eradicate, exterminate, obliterate, root out,
    wipe out.

    Abomination, curse, evil, iniquity, nuisance, shame.

    Absent, absent-minded, absorbed, abstracted, oblivious,

    Absolve, acquit, clear.

    Abstemiousness, abstinence, frugality, moderation, sobriety,

    Absurd, ill-advised, ill-considered, ludicrous, monstrous,
    paradoxical, preposterous, unreasonable, wild.

    Abundant, adequate, ample, enough, generous, lavish, plentiful.

    Accomplice, ally, colleague, helper, partner.

    Active, agile, alert, brisk, bustling, energetic, lively,

    Actual, authentic, genuine, real.

    Adept, adroit, deft, dexterous, handy, skilful.

    Address, adroitness, courtesy, readiness, tact.

    Adequate, competent, equal, fitted, suitable.

    Adjacent, adjoining, bordering, near, neighboring.

    Admire, adore, respect, revere, venerate.

    Admit, allow, concede, grant, suffer, tolerate.

    Admixture, alloy.

    Adverse, disinclined, indisposed, loath, reluctant, slow,

    Aerial, airy, animated, ethereal, frolicsome.

    Affectation, cant, hypocrisy, pretence, sham.

    Affirm, assert, avow, declare, maintain, state.

    Aged, ancient, antiquated, antique, immemorial, old, venerable.

    Air, bearing, carriage, demeanor.

    Akin, alike, identical.

    Alert, on the alert, sleepless, wary, watchful.

    Allay, appease, calm, pacify.

    Alliance, coalition, compact, federation, union, fusion.

    Allude, hint, imply, insinuate, intimate, suggest.

    Allure, attract, cajole, coax, inveigle, lure.

    Amateur, connoisseur, novice, tyro.

    Amend, better, mend, reform, repair.

    Amplify, develop, expand, extend, unfold, widen.

    Amusement, diversion, entertainment, pastime.

    Anger, exasperation, petulance, rage, resentment.

    Animal, beast, brute, living creature, living organism.

    Answer, rejoinder, repartee, reply, response, retort.

    Anticipate, forestall, preclude, prevent.

    Apiece, individually, severally, separately.

    Apparent, clear, evident, obvious, tangible, unmistakable.

    Apprehend, comprehend, conceive, perceive, understand.

    Arraign, charge, cite, impeach, indict, prosecute, summon.

    Arrogance, haughtiness, presumption, pride, self-complacency,
    superciliousness, vanity.

    Artist, artificer, artisan, mechanic, operative, workman.

    Artless, boorish, clownish, hoidenish, rude, uncouth,

    Assent, agree, comply.

    Assurance, effrontery, hardihood, impertinence, impudence,
    incivility, insolence, officiousness, rudeness.

    Atom, grain, scrap, particle, shred, whit.

    Atrocious, barbaric, barbarous, brutal, merciless.

    Attack, assault, infringement, intrusion, onslaught.

    Attain, accomplish, achieve, arrive at, compass, reach, secure.

    Attempt, endeavor, essay, strive, try, undertake.

    Attitude, pose, position, posture.

    Attribute, ascribe, assign, charge, impute.

    Axiom, truism.

    Baffle, balk, bar, check, embarrass, foil, frustrate, hamper,
    hinder, impede, retard, thwart.

    Banter, burlesque, drollery, humor, jest, raillery, wit,

    Beg, plead, press, urge.

    Beguile, divert, enliven, entertain, occupy.

    Bewilderment, confusion, distraction, embarrassment, perplexity.

    Bind, fetter, oblige, restrain, restrict.

    Blaze, flame, flare, flash, flicker, glare, gleam, gleaming,
    glimmer, glitter, light, lustre, shimmer, sparkle.

    Blessed, hallowed, holy, sacred, saintly.

    Boasting, display, ostentation, pomp, pompousness, show.

    Brave, adventurous, bold, courageous, daring, dauntless,
    fearless, gallant, heroic, undismayed.

    Bravery, coolness, courage, gallantry, heroism.

    Brief, concise, pithy, sententious, terse.

    Bring over, convince, induce, influence, persuade, prevail
    upon, win over.

    Calamity, disaster, misadventure, mischance, misfortune, mishap.

    Candid, impartial, open, straightforward, transparent,
    unbiassed, unprejudiced, unreserved.

    Caprice, humor, vagary, whim.

    Candor, frankness, truth, veracity.

    Caricature, burlesque, parody, travesty.

    Catch, capture, clasp, clutch, grip, secure.

    Cause, consideration, design, end, ground, motive, object,
    reason, purpose.

    Caution, discretion, prudence.

    Censure, criticism, rebuke, reproof, reprimand, reproach.

    Character, constitution, disposition, reputation, temper,

    Characteristic, peculiarity, property, singularity, trait.

    Chattering, garrulous, loquacious, talkative.

    Cheer, comfort, delight, ecstasy, gaiety, gladness,
    gratification, happiness, jollity, satisfaction.

    Churlish, crusty, gloomy, gruff, ill-natured, morose, sour,
    sullen, surly.

    Class, circle, clique, coterie.

    Cloak, cover, gloss over, mitigate, palliate, screen.

    Cloy, sate, satiate, satisfy, surfeit.

    Commit, confide, consign, entrust, relegate.

    Compassion, forbearance, lenience, mercy.

    Compassionate, gracious, humane.

    Complete, consummate, faultless, flawless, perfect.

    Confirm, corroborate.

    Conflicting, discordant, discrepant, incongruous, mismated.

    Confused, discordant, miscellaneous, various.

    Conjecture, guess, suppose, surmise.

    Conscious, aware, certain.

    Consequence, issue, outcome, outgrowth, result, sequel, upshot.

    Continual, continuous, incessant, unbroken, uninterrupted.

    Credible, conceivable, likely, presumable, probable, reasonable.

    Customary, habitual, normal, prevailing, usual, wonted.

    Damage, detriment, disadvantage, harm, hurt, injury, prejudice.

    Dangerous, formidable, terrible.

    Defame, deprecate, disparage, slander, vilify.

    Defile, infect, soil, stain, sully, taint, tarnish.

    Deleterious, detrimental, hurtful, harmful, mischievous,
    pernicious, ruinous.

    Delicate, fine, minute, refined, slender.

    Delightful, grateful, gratifying, refreshing, satisfying.

    Difficult, laborious, toilsome, trying.

    Digress, diverge, stray, swerve, wander.

    Disavow, disclaim, disown, recall, renounce, repudiate, retract.

    Dispose, draw, incline, induce, influence, move, prompt, stir.

    Earlier, foregoing, previous, preliminary.

    Effeminate, feminine, womanish, womanly.

    Emergency, extremity, necessity.

    Empty, fruitless, futile, idle, trifling, unavailing, useless,
    vain, visionary.

    Erudition, knowledge, profundity, sagacity, sense, wisdom.

    Eternal, imperishable, interminable, perennial, perpetual,

    Excuse, pretence, pretext, subterfuge.

    Exemption, immunity, liberty, license, privilege.

    Explicit, express.

    Faint, faint-hearted, faltering, half-hearted, irresolute,
    languid, listless, purposeless.

    Faithful, loyal, stanch, trustworthy, trusty.

    Fanciful, fantastic, grotesque, imaginative, visionary.

    Folly, imbecility, senselessness, stupidity.

    Fling, gibe, jeer, mock, scoff, sneer, taunt.

    Flock, bevy, brood, covey, drove, herd, litter, pack.

    Fluctuate, hesitate, oscillate, vacillate, waver.

    Grief, melancholy, regret, sadness, sorrow.

    Hale, healthful, healthy, salutary, sound, vigorous.

    Ignorant, illiterate, uninformed, uninstructed, unlettered,

    Impulsive, involuntary, spontaneous, unbidden, voluntary,

    Indispensable, inevitable, necessary, requisite, unavoidable.

    Inquisitive, inquiring, intrusive, meddlesome, peeping, prying.

    Intractable, perverse, petulant, ungovernable, wayward, wilful.

    Irritation, offence, pique, resentment.

    Probably, presumably.

    Reliable, trustworthy, trusty.

    Remnant, trace, token, vestige.

    Requite, repay, retaliate, satisfy.

=Oral or Written Exercise.=—In the following, vary the overworked words
as much as possible. Permit repetition only when it is necessary for

1. I think the committee selected to select theme topics for the class
to write upon, should be careful not to select too many topics on one
subject, since the nature of one student differs from that of another. I
think that the few who are not satisfied with the topics the committee
have selected, should be required to select and hand in a list of topics
on which they would like to write.

2. There are two distinct stories running through the Merchant of Venice:
the story of the pound of flesh and the story of the caskets. These
stories run parallel to each other through the play, as far as the third
act, where the story of the caskets is ended by the lucky choice of
Bassanio. But from here a new story, the story of the rings, commences,
and continues through the rest of the play, crossing the story of the
pound of flesh and finally taking the place of this story.

=Future Revision.=—Henceforth one distinct object for which every
theme should be revised is _variety of words_. It soon becomes a
keen satisfaction to read one’s own work aloud to detect overworked
expressions. In the pursuit of variety, the scholar not merely grows
sensitive to the ugly recurrence of the same sound; he grows bold to
repeat words if the repetition is demanded for clearness or force. Some
things seem to have but one name in English; more’s the pity; but we must
make the best of the case.



Let it be supposed that a person has learned to plan a composition
logically and to write with grammatical correctness; that further he has
acquired a noble unrest which keeps him searching for new words and fine
distinctions; what should be his next care?

After the power of thinking coherently, the ability most important to
a writer is that of picking out from the wide world of words the one
expression that mates his unworded idea. His choice of words—_i.e._ his
_diction_—must meet three requirements. If it is to be _clear_, it must
mean the same to the reader’s intellect that it does to the writer’s.
If it is to _forcible_, it must move the reader’s feelings as it moved
the writer’s. Furthermore, if it is to be _beautiful_, it must please a
reader who has good taste.

=Clearness.=—Clearness, the intellectual quality of style, has already
been referred to (p. 43), for it is the quality aimed at in making
sentences coherent. That the idea should be made unmistakably clear is
the first requisite of good writing. The thinking must be clear; the
division of the theme into paragraphs, and of paragraphs into sentences
must be clear; and the words must be clear. We have presently to ask what
effect number and choice of words have upon clearness.

=Force.=—Force is the emotional quality of style. It may occur in a very
moderate degree, just enough to _interest_ the reader slightly, or it may
be present to such an extent as to move the deepest springs of feeling.
It is hard to give suggestions for securing force, because language
is better adapted to communicating ideas than emotions. We find that
language furnishes very few names for feelings. Furthermore, these names,
even such as _love_, _fear_, _anger_, do not in themselves move us. What
a marvellous variety of emotion each of us feels in a day! how many
delicate tints of pleasure! how many shades of regret or fear, of painful
memory or suggestion! The psychologists tell us that we do no act which
does not bring with it some touch of pleasure or of pain. And yet most of
these shades and tints and touches of feeling neither have names nor can
be communicated by words. Nevertheless, though language cannot directly
convey feeling, it can sometimes suggest feeling. If your reader has
experienced a given emotion, some word of yours may recall that to his
mind. One secret of being forcible lies in choosing theme subjects that
interest the reader; subjects that set up a train of feeling and memory
in his mind. Other secrets are, to choose _suggestive_ words and figures
of speech, and to refrain from wearing out interest by too many words. We
shall presently inquire, what words and figures are most suggestive.

Something may be done to secure force by so arranging words as to attract
the reader’s attention. It will be noted that emphasis (p. 110) and
climax (p. 112) are means of force.

=Beauty.=—Beauty is the quality of style which satisfies what is called,
for lack of a better word, the æsthetic sense; this is little else but
saying, beauty of style satisfies the sense for beauty. One element of
beauty is _simplicity_, a quality closely allied to clearness, yet not
the same. _Euphony_, or absence of ugly sounds, is another element of
beauty. _Variety_ is another element of beauty. It is clear that the last
exercise in Chapter X is as much an exercise in beauty as in vocabulary.
In the present chapter we shall have space to consider only one element
of beauty,—that of simplicity.

=Prolixity.=—If a writer descends into tedious details, or if he repeats
the same idea over and over in slightly different words, without
developing or adding to the thought, he is said to be prolix. Prolixity
offends chiefly against force, for it kills interest. This fault may
affect merely a single sentence or paragraph, or it may infest a whole
composition. It does not much beset the writer who plans his work ahead.
It can be corrected only by rewriting.

=Written Exercise.—=The following prolix passage should be rewritten,
only the essential thoughts being kept. Any mistakes and crudities of
style should be corrected.

“My friend the doctor was a collector of ancient coins and was always
roaming about the ruins of old cities in search of coins. He would wander
around and pick up valuable relics like the Venus he wore in his seal
ring. He was always finding something worth keeping. He would pick up
a precious bit of antiquity and put it in his pocket, and so he always
carried with him a regular collection of relics. One afternoon he was out
among the mountains picking up relics and not looking up to see whether
any one was near. When he looked around he saw five or perhaps six rough
fellows who were standing there behind him. He fell to quivering with
fright and stood trembling and shaking, but managed to greet them. After
he had greeted the five or six men they all walked along down the road
until they came to an inn that was there on the mountain-side. It was an
inn and not a cave there in the mountains, as was incorrectly said by one
member of the class.”

=Surplusage.-=-Surplusage consists of words that can be excised without
hurting the sense of the passage. In tyros it is perhaps less of a fault
than the opposite one of _deficiency_,—the absence of needed words; for
fulness of expression is essential to clearness, and surplusage often
results from the desire to be clear. Verbosity, however, dulls the edge
of the keenest thought. Like prolixity, it weakens. Just as many a prolix
speaker could make a brilliant oration if he knew when to stop, so many
a wordy writer could make an effective sentence if he knew what to prune
away. As Mr. Lowell would say:[45] Thoughts are never draped in long
skirts like babies, if they are strong enough to go alone.

The redundant use of the following common words should be avoided:—

1. _From_, in the phrases _from thence_, _from whence_.

2. _Of_, especially in the expressions _off of_, _remember of_, _treat
of_. “Keep off [not _off of_] the grass.” “This book treats [better than
_treats of_] chemistry.”

3. _On_, with the words _the next morning_. “He was rebellious on the
seventh of July, but the next morning [not _on the next morning_] he
reappeared in a more submissive frame of mind.”

=Oral Exercise.=—Prune away every word that can be spared; note the
increase in force. Slight changes may be made in the wording.

1. All of the ships were lost; no kind of a one was saved.

2. I know from my own personal knowledge that a man who stands upright in
his own manhood, honest and conscious of the rectitude of his purposes,
is safe against calumny and slander.

3. I don’t think it a good precedent to set in this house for any man to
vote for a bill in which he has a personal interest, and I don’t remember
of ever having done so of myself. I shall, therefore, for this reason,
refrain from voting, but I want to say a word on this bill, and I want to
talk to the democrats.

4. Real-estate dealer is knocked down by an accident and is run over by a

5. Commencing on Monday, March 29, supported by the New York Garrick
Theatre Stock Company, Mr. Mansfield will commence an engagement of two
weeks at the Grand Opera House.

=Written or Oral Exercise.=—In the following sentences some of the
underscored expressions should be expressed more briefly by changing
clauses to phrases or phrases to single words. Thus: _men who deserved
and won renown_ may shorten to _men of deserved renown_.

1. _Men who deserved and won renown_, and _women who were peerless_,
have lived upon what we should now call the coarsest fare, and paced the
rushes _which were strewn_ in their rooms with as high, or as contented
thoughts, as their _descendants, persons who are fed better and clothed
better than they_, can boast of.

2. If children _are able_ to make us wiser, _it is sure that they can
also_ make us better. There is no one _who is more to be envied_ than a
good-natured man _when he is watching how children’s minds perform their
workings, or when he is overlooking the play they engage in_.

=Deficiency of Words.=—It was said in a former paragraph that in young
writers surplusage is perhaps less of a fault than is the lack of needed
words. Verbosity robs a theme of force; deficiency robs it of force and
clearness. It is human nature to try to say a thing more briefly than
is possible. Forgetting that pitch, stress, and gesture do much to make
spoken words intelligible, the easy-going writer does not tax himself to
attain full and lucid expression. He forgets that a piece of writing may
be so condensed as to be dense.

Ambiguity often springs from the omission of merely a word or two.
Reading such a phrase as “the secretary and treasurer,” we are vexed
with doubt whether one person is meant, or two; the omission of the
article seems to imply that the two offices are vested in a single
officer. The lack of a few words may turn force into weakness. A German
newspaper thus burlesques the compression to which editors sometimes feel
impelled: “Ottokar took a small brandy, then his hat, his departure,
besides no notice of his pursuers, meantime a revolver out of his pocket,
and lastly his own life.”

The following common words should not be omitted:—

1. The main part of an infinitive at the end of a sentence. _Wrong_: “He
did what he wished to.” _Right_: “He did what he wished to do.”

2. The adverb _much_ before certain adjectives. _Wrong_: “He was very
pleased to comply.” _Right_: “He was very much pleased to comply.”

3. (_a_) The preposition _at_ with home. _Wrong_: “I stayed home and
slept home.” _Right_: “I stayed at home and slept at home.” (_b_) The
preposition _on_ with days of the month. _Wrong_: “The seventh of July he
rebelled.” _Right_: “On the seventh of July he rebelled.” Compare page
231. 3.

4. A demonstrative used for clearness. _Wrong_: “He chose between the lot
of the rich and of the poor.” _Right_: “He chose between the lot of the
rich and that of the poor.”

5. The conjunction _that_ when needed for clearness. _Wrong_: “I wish
such a beefsteak as that one over there may never be served on this
table.” What is the ambiguity here, at the beginning?

=Oral Exercise.=—Indicate how by the addition of words each sentence may
be corrected:—

1. Altogether it was a day like unto which the memory of the oldest
inhabitant could not recall.

2. He received his early education at Brownsville and Whitesville
academy, remaining about a year at each place.

3. There was a minister who, being informed by the church officials that
they had raised his salary $100, declined to accept it.

4. The following great reductions indicate the heavy losses we are taking
closing out the balance of our stock.

5. This mutual esteem was shown by their cordial welcome of the guests as
well as the uniform courtesy shown by the latter.

6. Poor Evelina was obliged to choose between a blue and green dress.

7. Streaks of lightning and claps of thunder rattled through the narrow
streets of Paris.

8. I am an historical painter by profession, and living for some time at
a villa near Rome.

=Specific Words.=—Suppose it were desired to make clear to a friend how
the sunset looked—a difficult task. One would hardly succeed if one had
no better words to offer than the general terms _clouds_, _beautiful_,
_lovely_, _bright_. The friend, if he cared to know, would insist on
specific words: What kind of beauty? was it quiet beauty, or awful
beauty, or picturesque beauty? What kind of brightness? was it redness?
If so, was the sky blood-red, or merely pink? What kind of clouds?—great
masses of storm cloud, or high frozen clouds, or mottled “mackerel”
clouds? To be clear, then, words must be specific enough to give the idea
intended. Just how specific they should be depends on the audience. They
must be familiar to the hearer or reader, if they are to be understood
without explanation. All audiences would understand the general term
_tool_; all would understand the genus name _saw_, which specifies a kind
of tool. But many would not understand the species name _rip-saw_; for
to most people _rip-saw_ is unfortunately a technical term. In choosing
specific words the line should therefore be drawn between common terms
and technical terms, the latter not to be employed without explanation,
except in addressing special audiences.

Specific words are usually as forcible as they are clear. Most people’s
feelings are roused by the thought of a particular object, not of a
class name. _Flower_ is a class name; it does not move one. _Clover_ is
a specific name; it calls back the old farm, the old friends, the old
joys and sorrows. No word will really interest the reader unless he has
previously used it or heard it in association with his feelings. Take
the word _contusion_; it means something forcible to a doctor, but not
to a boy, for the latter never used it. But say _bruise_—which means
exactly the same thing. That’s forcible. It feelingly reminds us of the
hour in which that dead branch broke and delivered us over to the law of

Pick out from these words those that are in themselves forcible to most
people: paternal solicitude, fatherly care; home, domicile; altruism,
unselfishness. You see at once that certain of these words get their
force from the long associations of childhood. In childhood we use
the simpler words of the language, those that are derived from the
Anglo-Saxon mother-tongue. Anglo-Saxon words, therefore, are usually
forcible. Compare page 183.

=Oral Exercise.=—Reduce the following names step by step to a particular
genus and a particular species. Thus: animal, mammal, quadruped,
graminivorous animal, cow, Alderney.

    1. Reduce _machine_ step by step till you reach _stop-watch_.

    2. Reduce _machine_ to _revolver_.

    3. Reduce _living organism_ to _moss-rose_.

    4. Reduce _living organism_ to _oyster_.

Similarly, extend the following species names step by step to family

    1. Extend _pen-knife_ to _instrument_.

    2. Extend _Longfellow_ to _man of letters_.

=General Words.=—We found that most specific words are of Anglo-Saxon
origin. Most general words are of Latin origin. Both these statements
are only roughly true, of course; but the distinction is worth
making. The language of science is mostly of Latin origin, because it
consists so largely of class names. Our Anglo-Saxon forefathers had
fewer class names, for they had not progressed far enough to care to
classify everything. When, later, the English came to study history,
and philosophy, and science, they had either to invent new Anglo-Saxon
words for class names, or else use Latin words. They chose the latter
course. Consequently we have such Latin class names as _animal_, and such
individual names as _cat_, _dog_, _horse_, _pig_. We speak of _white_,
_blue_, _green_, _red_; but when we want a class name for these, we say
_color_, a Latin word. From all this it may be seen that any great number
of general words gives a scientific, abstract tone to writing. General
words are absolutely necessary for the exact purposes of science and
philosophy. They are adapted, as Professor Carpenter puts it, to “precise
and elaborate distinctions of thought.” They do not give a clear mental
image; that is, you cannot _see_ beauty, or smallness, or animal, or
color—you can see only a beautiful object, a small object, a particular
animal, a particular color. But, still, general words mean exactly what
they say. _Animal_ means exactly this: a summing up of all the qualities
that are common to all individual animals. All the things called animal
have in common powers of sensation and voluntary movement. When such
a distinction is wanted, it is wanted badly, as we say. There is no
better mark of literary mastery than knowing just when to use a general
word, just when a specific one. Examine a few pages from Robert Louis
Stevenson, to see with what exquisite fitness words of Latin origin may
be used in the midst of Anglo-Saxon words when the appeal turns from the
feelings to the intellect.

There are many reasons why a writer may not wish to be too specific.
In the sentence, “I picked up my traps and left,” the colloquialism
_traps_ answers every essential purpose. The reader does not care to
have tooth-brush and books and papers all specified. People are not to
be blamed for referring vaguely to _death_ as a _passing away_, for the
specific word is harsh at best. Such expressions as _pass away_ are
called _euphemisms_. Many euphemisms are legitimate; but whether a given
one should be employed is a question of taste, a question of beauty. It
seems a beautiful expression when Keats says, “to cease upon the midnight
with no pain,” instead of, “to die painlessly at twelve o’clock;” but it
is a mark of false modesty and bad taste to insist on saying _rose_ for
_got up_, _retire_ for _go to bed_, _lower limbs_ for _legs_.

Again, one should not always hesitate to set down an idea because one
has not the sharpest, clearest possible notion of it. Vague ideas are
sometimes valuable ones. They should receive earnest thought that they
may take definite shape. But if they seem to defy definite form, they
certainly should not be thrown away merely for that. Catching one’s
exact idea is often as difficult as catching a trout. But a glimpse of
the fine fish that gets away is worth something,—there are few of us who
can resist the temptation to tell about it when we get home. Speaking
of the mind, Emerson says, “It is wholesome to angle in those profound
pools, though one be rewarded with nothing more than the leap of a fish
that flashes his freckled side in the sun and as suddenly absconds in the
dark and dreamy waters again.”[46] In Wordsworth’s poem, The Solitary
Reaper, we hear of a song about _old, unhappy, far-off things_. That was
exactly Wordsworth’s own vague notion, and down he set it—in words that
make it clear (so to speak) that his idea was sweet and vague. Ruskin,
describing the façade of St. Mark’s in Venice, tries to give a sense of
the bewildering multiplicity of beautiful things on that wonderful front
by saying, _a confusion of delight_. If he had used more definite words
we should have missed the effect.

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the passages from Johnson and Blackmore (pp.
192-3). Which passage contains more of general words than of specific?
Which is more forcible in subject-matter? Which in _diction_.

=Oral Exercise.=—In the following passage, choose the better expression
from each pair of brackets. Each pair contains one general and one
specific term; choose the term which gives greater force or greater
clearness than the other.

1. And therefore, first of all, I tell you earnestly and authoritatively
(I _know_ I am right in this) you must get into the [way, habit] of
looking [rightly, intensely] at words, and [telling, assuring] yourself
of their meaning, syllable by syllable—nay, letter by letter. For ...
you might read all the books in [a great library, the British Museum]
(if you could live long enough) and remain an utterly “illiterate,”
uneducated person; but if you read [some part, ten pages] of [a good, an
instructive] book, letter by letter—that is to say, with real [care,
accuracy]—you are forevermore in some [way, measure] an educated [man,
person]. The entire difference between education and non-education (as
regards the merely [mental, intellectual] part of it) consists in this
[exactitude, accuracy]. A well-educated gentleman may not [read, know]
many languages, may not be able to speak any but his own, may have
read very few books. But whatever language he knows, he knows [well,
precisely]; whatever word he [says, pronounces] he [says, pronounces]
rightly. Above all, he is learned in the _peerage_ of words, knows the
words of [true, veritable] descent, and [old, ancient] blood, at a
glance, from the words of [new, modern] _canaille_, remembers all their
ancestry, their intermarriages, distant relationships, and the extent
to which they were admitted, and offices they held, among the national
_noblesse_ of words at any time and in any [place, country]. But an
uneducated person may know, by [heart, memory], many languages, and [use,
talk] them all, and yet truly [know, apprehend] not a word of any—not a
word even of his own. An ordinarily [clever, good] and sensible seaman
will be able to make his way ashore at most [ports, places], yet he has
only to speak [a little, a sentence] of [Spanish or French, any language]
to be [known, recognized] for an illiterate person; so also the accent,
or turn of expression of a single sentence, will at once mark a scholar.
And this is so [well, strongly] felt, so [conclusively, well] admitted,
by educated persons, that a false accent or a [bad, mistaken] syllable is
enough in the parliament of any civilized nation, to [assign, send] man
to a certain degree of [lower, inferior] standing forever.

=Oral Exercise.=—Which words in the following are general, which
specific? Does each seem appropriate in its place, or ought some words to
have been more specific, others more general?

1. Her dress was dark and rich; she had pearls round her neck, and an old
rococo fan in her hand.—HENRY JAMES.

2. When gratitude has become a matter of reasoning, there are many ways
of escaping from its bonds.—GEORGE ELIOT.

3. Friendships begin with liking or gratitude—roots that can be pulled

4. What scene was ever commonplace in the descending sunlight, when color
has awakened from its noonday sleep, and the long shadows awe us like a
disclosed presence? Above all, what scene is commonplace to the eye that
is filled with serene gladness, and brightens all things with its own

=Oral Exercise.=—Is there danger of misconception from the use of the
following words? If so, how can the danger be avoided? Discuss in class.
_Fair_, _fine_, _certain_, _charity_, _democratic_, _republican_,

=Simple Words.=—Several years ago a gentleman[47] secured from a large
number of successful authors brief pieces of advice to young writers. In
one particular there was an extraordinary unanimity among these authors.
Nearly all agreed that a young writer should try to express himself
simply. They agreed on other matters too,—for example, on the need of
clear thinking and an inclination to take much pains in expression. But
it was noticeable that even writers whose own work is not characterized
by simplicity seemed to admire this quality.

The greatest men are simple. Affectation, straining for effect, is a
mark of a little mind. The greatest art is simple,—governed by a noble
restraint. Over-decoration, whether in a picture, a piece of music, in
dress, in the furnishing of a room, or in a theme, is always a mark of
bad taste.

What is called fine writing—the use of over-ambitious words to express
simple thoughts—grows up in various ways. Sometimes it springs from a
desire to be funny. Exaggeration has always been a favorite device of
the humorist—especially of the American humorist. There are students
who learn to use this kind of humor so well that an unconscious habit of
bombast pursues them into their more serious work. Most of us can force
a smile at such writing as the passage given below, or even laugh at it
when there are enough people present to help us:—

“It was in the sixth that Captain Anson, aided and abetted by sundry
young men generally called ‘Colts,’ waded in to snatch laurel, trailing
arbutus, and other vegetables from the coy hand of fame. He did it, too,
and he now has laurels to throw to the birds. Ryan went first to the bat,
and pasted a warm one through short that turned the grass black along its

But when a young fellow has read so much of this sort that he drags
similar diction into his themes, the fun becomes vulgarity.

In general, use always the simplest word that will express your meaning
exactly. Compare pages 216, 217.

=Written Exercise.=—Write in simple English the equivalents of the
following passages. Some are from students’ themes; others from

1. The _svelte_[48] young debutante received a perfect ovation.

2. In my estimation it is far more to be desired that a tyro in the art
of composition should select those subjects with which his acquaintance
is the most extensive.

3. In all my experience I have never enjoyed the acquaintance of two
youths of more superior ability.

4. It is impossible for me to disassociate from my mind the conception
that such a course would be disastrous to the ambitions of the team.

5. Public sentiment would not permit an individual or an infinitesimally
small minority to clog the wheels of progress in order to prevent the
escape of a few dollars from the individuals composing the obstructive

6. Let us indeed refrain from any course of action which will militate
against the onward march of the civilizing power of the public schools of
this great and growing nation.

7. While the birds were carolling their sweetest strains and the grass
hung heavy with water-pearls, Peter Brant was taking his life. A more
seductive place to die in than the little garden back of 7000 Congress
street is inconceivable.

=Literal and Figurative Words.=—Before it can be decided how far the
young writer should use figures of speech, it is necessary to find out
the real difference between a literal word or statement and a figurative
word or statement. If figures are always mere embellishments of
language, the journeyman had better shun them anxiously; for his true
object is to express his thought, not to decorate it. If, however, some
figures are not embellishments but ordinary building-material, the case
is different.

When, on seeing biscuits for the first time, a child refers to them
as _moons_, he is not making an effort to adorn his language. He is
unconsciously using a figure of speech because he does not know the
literal, proper, conventional name, _biscuit_. If the child had formerly
lived in a country where apples grew but potatoes did not, the first time
he saw a potato he would probably call it a _ground-apple_. As a matter
of fact there are people that have gone through some such experience with
potatoes. The French word _pomme de terre_ indicates this.

Most words were once figures of speech, that is, _tropes_. A trope, from
the Greek word τρέπω, to turn, is merely the turning away of a word from
its ordinary meaning to give a name to some new idea. The root of many a
word shows the figure that was used to express a given new idea. The root
_spir-_ means to breathe. Since the inability to breathe is one part of
the process of death, the expression _to breathe out_ became a figurative
expression for the whole idea of “to die.” In _expire_, applied to death,
the idea of _breathe_ is usually not felt. The figure is forgotten, and
we therefore call it a root-figure, or _radical figure_. As may be seen
from the roots of the Curious Words on page 191, language is figurative
through and through.

This is true not only of language already made, but of that which is
daily making. In every mind shades of thought are constantly occurring
for which there are either no names, or none which the mind can learn in
the interval before expression is necessary. If the exact word is not at
hand, a comparison must be made. The shade of thought must be named by
telling what thing in the reader’s experience it is like.

Does the attempt at comparison result in a vague, inexact phrase, or
in an exact one? The youth who declares that his lesson is as “hard as
thunder,” has expressed himself but vaguely. The same is true of the
young lady who declares that it rained “like anything.” Let us examine
briefly the chief kinds of tropes, and note whether they are necessarily
less clear and exact than literal statements.

A person sees an accident, and reports that “a score of hands” picked
up the injured boy. Here is _synecdoche_. The “hands” stand for the
persons—a part for the whole; a “score” probably stands for a dozen,—the
whole number of hands in the group of people, for the smaller number that
actually touched the boy. Or, the “score” may be called _hyperbole_, that
is, exaggeration. A critic might say that either figure is inexact here.
True, in a way. But if the writer had reported that he _seemed_ to see a
score of hands, the phrase would be faithful to his thought. We may take
the _seemed_ for granted, and reply to the critic that for exact purposes
in a law court, “seemed to see a score of hands” might be nearer the
truth than an attempt at greater precision.

Suppose, now, that the writer who reported the accident said that the
boy was in great pain, so that his face was “as white as ivory.” Here is
a _simile_,—an explicit statement of likeness in two things which are
different in most respects. This particular simile is certainly more
exact than the literal word _white_ would be.

If now the writer had said, “I caught a glimpse of compressed lips and
ivory face,” the comparison would have been not explicit, but implied. An
implied comparison is called _metaphor_. Metaphor is from the Greek for
_carrying over_, because it carries over bodily the name of one thing to
another. To speak of a man as “bold as a lion,” is simile; to call him a
“lion” outright, is metaphor. It is less clear to call a man a lion than
to say in what respect he is like a lion; it is less clear to say, “ivory
face” than to say “face white as ivory.”

The case of the boy who was injured may have got into the newspapers.
To speak more figuratively, the _press_ may have taken up the matter.
_Press_ stands here for the editors of the various journals. This last
figure is _metonymy_. In metonymy one thing is put for another that is
often associated with it. In the sentence given, metonymy does not seem
to detract from clearness; at all events it saves a roundabout expression.

Metaphor and metonymy, by ascribing life to inanimate things, often
become _personification_. So above, where the press _takes up_ a matter.
It is evident that personification need not make a sentence less

Once more, let us suppose that the reporter who first learned of the
boy’s accident remarked, on handing in his account of it, “The early bird
catches the worm.” The remark is pure _allegory_—describing some act or
thing indirectly by describing something else. If the hearer knows enough
of the situation to understand the allegory, he undoubtedly receives a
forcible impression, and may be helped to a clearer view. Allegory is a
kind of expanded metaphor. It is more liable to misinterpretation than
most figures; but the allegorical proverbs of our language, and the
popularity of such books as the _Pilgrim’s Progress_, show that it is a
favorite form of expression. Like general words, allegory can be used to
say things which policy may forbid being said more directly.

From the discussion it appears that tropes can often be made to yield a
clear and sufficiently exact phrase. Often however a trope lends force or
beauty rather than clearness. It is forcible rather than clear to call a
man a lion. It is beautiful rather than clear to speak of the Pleiades
as “a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.” Such a phrase as
this is legitimate enough in poetry; it would be legitimate in highly
imaginative prose. But the fact cannot be dodged that it would be out of
place in the midst of plain prose description.

The practical conclusion is obvious. Use tropes without hesitation when
they are really needed to give clearness and force. Never use a trope
for decorative purposes only. The ability to write plain, bare English
is absolutely indispensable. The ability to write figuratively is an
enviable, but not a necessary, possession.

When the need of a figure is actually felt, the choice should be made
with scrupulous care. If tropes occur to you in numbers, “like flocks
of pigeons,” choose only the pigeon that can carry a message. To secure
lucidity, employ a figure which makes use of something already clear
to the reader. Every-day life and common things are the best sources
for both similes and metaphors. To secure force, select such figures as
appeal to the emotional experiences of everybody. If you wish to hold
attention and move your reader, appeal to such primal feelings as love,
hate, fear, courage, joy, sorrow, aspiration, hope. Note how Shakespeare
appeals to the human animal’s dread of deep water: he makes Cardinal
Wolsey say, “I have ventured, like wanton boys that swim on bladders,
this many summers in a sea of glory.” In _Macbeth_ he appeals to the joy
of release from pain: he calls sleep _the balm_ of each day’s hurt.

A good figure of speech must be consistent. Although a lively imagination
changes its metaphors from minute to minute, it must not change them
so fast as to suggest ridiculous things. If the metaphor gets mixed,
clearness and force go to the winds. The other day the writer heard a
young man earnestly exclaim: “Now I shall have to toe the bee-line!”
The thought of that youth, lifted to a perilous position where his toes
sought vainly in the trackless air for a “bee-line,” was quite too much
for the gravity of his hearers. This trope that failed to be a trope was
about as effective as the famous lightning-change series of metaphors
uttered by Sir Boyle Roche: “Mr. Speaker, I smell a rat. I see him
floating in the air. But I will nip him in the bud.” Mixed metaphors may
arise from mere liveliness of imagination,—a good fault sometimes. More
frequently it arises from vague thinking or from grandiloquence. The
examples on page 246 show how liable fine writing is to this fault. A
figure that is not in good taste is incomparably worse than no figure at

=Oral Exercise.=—Name each trope, and explain how each gets its force;
what emotion each touches.

(_a_) “Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart.”—WORDSWORTH.

(_b_) “What is hope?—a smiling rainbow children follow through the

(_c_) “She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.”—SHAKESPEARE.

(_d_) “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive; but to be young was very

(_e_) “Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the

=Oral Exercise.=—Examine the phrases that you made by finding adjectives
to fit abstract qualities (p. 202), and decide in each case whether
clearness or force is the chief resulting characteristic.

=Oral Exercise.=—Restore force to the following figures by changing
whatever is incongruous in them. Reject any that are irretrievably bad in
taste, or hackneyed.

1. The singing was led by the organ assisted by four violins.

2. In graceful and figurative language he pointed the finger of scorn at
the defendant.

3. It was 8 o’clock when the guests attacked the following menu.

4. The trailer struck the car amidships.

5. The colonies were not yet ripe to bid adieu to British connection.

6. Let us cast off the shackles of doubt and bind ourselves with the
bonds of faith.

7. No human happiness is so serene as not to contain some alloy.

8. Boyle was the father of chemistry, and brother of the Earl of Cork.

9. The marble-hearted marauder might seize the throne of civil authority,
and hurl into thraldom the votaries of rational liberty.

10. It is to be hoped, now that lovely woman discountenances the
flowing bowl, that the rising generation will abjure it, and follow the
weaker sex in taking nothing stronger than the cup which cheers but not



=Why Important.=—There are two general classes of letters: informal
or personal, and formal or impersonal. Each kind is governed by the
general principles of clearness and courtesy. Mischief is sure to follow
if either of these principles is disregarded. A writer may indulge in
extravagance of statement when he writes for the public, and “there is no
harm done, for the speaker is one and the listener is another.”[49] But
it is quite a different matter when one is making business promises, or
trying to pacify a distant friend with whom there is a misunderstanding.
A shrewd politician knows enough not to write too many letters, and not
to write anything that he cannot stand by. A woman of tact knows that the
success of her social plans may turn upon the choice of a single word in
the leave-taking of a note.

=Business Letters.=—These are formal, impersonal. A good business letter
is (1) clear, (2) courteous, (3) brief. It shows unmistakably (_a_)
who is writing, (_b_) to whom, (_c_) where, (_d_) when. It is definite
in its language, so that there need be no return letter of inquiry as
to any part of its meaning. It observes the best conventions of address
and signature. It refrains from brusque remarks, even in reply to a
rude letter. It is appreciative. A good business man always takes into
account that a handful of trade is a handful of gold; if he is favored
with orders, he goes to the trouble of thanking his customers. It does
not curtly abbreviate sentences and signatures. Life is not so short but
that we may avoid writing such insults as this: “Y’rs rec’d and contents
noted. Have ordered Jones to push the deal through. Shall see you soon.
Y’rs respy.”

=Headings and Signatures in Business Letters.=—A business letter should
show where it was written, and where the answer should be sent. If these
places are the same, the one address may be indicated either at the
beginning or at the end, preferably the former. Street and number should
always be given in the case of city addresses. The date of writing should
be placed at the beginning, the month being written or abbreviated, not
indicated by a figure. The heading ought also to indicate to whom the
letter is sent. Since in theory or in fact there may be other persons
of the same name, the correspondent’s address should usually be placed
beneath his name. The most common signatures in business letters are
_Yours truly_, _Yours very truly_, and _Yours respectfully_. In writing a
business letter, a girl signs her full name. Then at the left she writes
her name, preceded by _Miss_, and followed by her address.

=Titles in Business Letters.=—Firm names need not be preceded by
_Messrs._, although this form certainly adds to the courtesy of the
communication. Names of individuals should regularly be preceded by _Mr._
Whether a person should be addressed by his professional title depends
somewhat upon the character of the business. _In the United States a
commercial letter is sufficiently courteous if =Mr.= precedes the name
of the person addressed._ This title is in better taste, as applied to
business men, than _Esq._ But there is no objection to the use of certain
titles, and they are desirable if the business be one which pertains to
the profession of the person addressed. Initials should always be given.
“Rev. Brown,” “Hon. Jones,” are inexcusable forms.

=The Envelope.=—The address on the envelope should be as legible as
possible. Names of states should not be contracted. As Professor J. M.
Hart remarks, “The only current abbreviations that seem to be safe are
Penna., Conn., and D. C.”[50] New York City may be written for New York,
N. Y. The same rules for titles apply to the envelope as to the heading.
If the comma is placed after one line of the address, it must be placed
after the others. It is needed after none.

=Written Exercise.=—Write a business letter, replying clearly and
courteously to the following imaginary communication.

                                                14 Grasmere Street,
                                                    Boston, Mass.,
                                                      Dec. 4, 1897.

    Miss Helen Roe,
      Graysville, Penna.

    Dear Madam:—

    We beg to acknowledge the receipt of your order of Dec. 2.
    Since you mention the fact that the goods are intended as a
    Christmas surprise, we have taken the liberty of holding them,
    and writing for orders as to desired date of shipment to the
    address you specify. We remain,

                      Very respectfully yours,

                                               Weaver and Weaver.

=Written Exercise.=—Write a petition to some person or persons in
authority, following in general the form given below:—

    The Faculty of Lewis Institute.

    Gentlemen: We, the undersigned, respectfully ask the privilege
    of organizing a new literary society, to be called the
    Parnassian. We enclose a copy of the proposed constitution,
    which we are ready to sign. If further information is desired,
    we shall be glad to appoint a committee to wait upon you at any
    time you may designate.

                                                   L. Gustafson,
                                                   H. Bulkley, etc.

=Formal Social Letters.=—Formal correspondence indicates by its style
the mere acquaintance of the correspondents, or, in the words of Miss
Morton,[51] “the bounds of distance which for any reason it is desirable
to maintain.” A formal letter should actually be formal. If one attempts
to do an elaborate thing, one ought to do it thoroughly and properly.
A letter that begins with formal brevity and runs off into colloquial
prolixity is a burlesque. A letter that begins in the third person and
ends in the first is a farce.

=Written Exercise.=—Following in general the models given below, write
(1) a formal invitation to dinner; (2) an acceptance of this invitation;
(3) regrets at inability to accept.

    1. Mr. Frederick Estoff, Jr., requests the pleasure of Mr.
    Edward Edwards’ company at dinner on Tuesday, June fourth, at
    seven o’clock, to meet Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Estoff.

    12 Pear Street, June twenty-eighth.

    2. Mr. Edward Edwards accepts with much pleasure the kind
    invitation of Mr. Frederick Estoff, Jr., to dinner for June
    fourth, to meet Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Estoff.

    14 Sycamore Street, June twenty-eighth.

    3. Mr. Edward Edwards regrets extremely that a previous
    engagement prevents his acceptance of Mr. Frederick Estoff,
    Jr.’s kind invitation to dinner for June fourth, to meet Mr.
    and Mrs. Frederick Estoff.

    14 Sycamore Street, June twenty-eighth.

=Personal or Informal Letters.=—The letter one writes informally to an
acquaintance, a friend, or a relative, should be in tone pretty nearly
what one’s conversation with the given person would be. To give such a
letter the tone which represents exactly the relation between the two
people is a hard task. The nicest sense of tact is required in order not
to be too stiff and not too familiar. Personal letters demand the art
of colloquial composition. Those unperceptive persons who have but one
style of composition,—that of a book, or that of a clerk,—make sorry work
of personal letters. Suppose that you have always known one of these
persons. You have played with him, read with him, perhaps fought with
him. When you meet, he calls you by your first name. When he writes to
ask you to visit him, he addresses you as _Dear Sir_, and signs himself
_Respectfully_! His letter gives you a chill. There is too little of
the personal letter-writing of the better sort, the leisurely, careful,
courteous, old-fashioned kind of written talk,—writing that, like Thomas
Cholmondeley’s, could be signed, “Ever yours and not in haste.”

=Written Exercise.=—Write a note inviting a friend of your own age to
dinner, to an informal party, or to an excursion. Such a note usually
begins on this wise,—_My Dear Tom_, or _Dear Tom_, rather than on
this,—_Dear Friend_. A similar note to an acquaintance would begin: My
dear Mr. ——, My dear Miss ——, etc.

=Written Exercise.=—Write a personal letter to the instructor, concerning
some matter in which you would like to interest him. This letter will not
be read to the class.

=Written Exercise.=—Write to some friend a long letter, observing the
ordinary rules for paragraphing. Suggested subjects: an account of
your life since last meeting your friend; a comparison of the town you
now live in with that in which you and the friend formerly lived; an
explanation of some scheme in which you wish the friend’s co-operation.



=Literal Reproduction.=—The word _reproduction_ is often used in Rhetoric
in a somewhat general sense, to mean any version of another composition.
As we shall use it, the term means _literal reproduction_; in other
words, a version that follows the phrasing of the original as nearly as
the time given for study will permit. Writing of reproductions trains the
memory and adds immensely to one’s command of words.

Below are given lists of brief selections, most of them requiring
not more than ten minutes to reproduce. It is suggested that a given
paragraph or page be slowly read aloud to the class, two or three
times, and that the class afterward write the piece as nearly as
possible in the author’s words. _Each student should then insert in his
vocabulary book any new words or phrases that seem to him particularly
serviceable. These memoranda will prove invaluable later on, when similar
topics (not the same ones) are to be written about by the student
himself._ To illustrate: a student after reading two or three personal
descriptions might jot down for future use such phrases as the following:
_Eyes._—Laughing, startled, heavy-lidded, hazel, vacant, protruding,
lustrous, expressive, liquid, dreamy, speaking, glad. _Nose._—Aquiline,
Roman, beak-like, shapely, snub, sharp, insignificant. _Hair._—Grizzled,
frowsy, shaggy, glossy, dishevelled, unkempt, tumbled. _Manner._—Alert,
jaunty, affable, sprightly, haughty, pretentious, modest, diffident,
reserved, ostentatious, demure, animated. _Figure._—Gaunt, emaciated,
lank, vigorous, robust, grotesque, massive, insignificant, thick-set,
portly, sturdy, stalwart, erect, decrepit, fragile. _Expression._—Rueful,
crafty, frank, wistful, stolid.



Miles, One Thousand and One Anecdotes: p. 30, Garcia; 33, Handel; 36,
Mozart; 43, Paganini; 74, A dull witness; 96, Mrs. Siddons; 105, 110,
Wellington; 106, Coolness; 132, Bad handwriting; 142, Dickens and
Thackeray; 218, Hill; 231, Newton; 231, Sidney Smith; 251, Scott; 253,
Lessing; 254, Geological; 255, Blackie; 268, Béranger; 273, A toast; 304,
A careful reader; 312, Webster; 316, Johnson; 318, Poetry and Pattypans;
322, Marryat; 323, Turner; 324, Dannecker; 328, Hugo and Coppée; 368,
Heroism of a workman; 370, Rochejaquelin; 371, Washington; 374, Lefevre;
378, Virchow; 378, Cham and Gille.


_Persons._—Hawthorne: American Note Books. See Index, p. 448, for
paragraphs on characters, mostly men.

_Scenery._—1. _Sunrise._ Hawthorne: American Note Books, 75, 121, 315.
Thoreau: Spring, 99.

2. _Morning._ Hawthorne: American Note Books, 75, 177. Thoreau: Winter,
128, 137, 258.

3. _Afternoon._ Hawthorne: American Note Books, 96. Thoreau: Autumn, 21,
28, 182.

4. _Sunset._ Hawthorne: American Note Books, 112. Thoreau: Autumn, 3, 17,
90, 112, 152, 214, 259, 311, 327, 330, 345, 388, 429, 433. Winter, 23,
38, 40, 127, 155. Summer, 47, 246, 313, 332, 362.

5. _Sunlight._ Burroughs: Winter Sunshine, 102. Thoreau: Autumn, 289.
Winter, 114, 249.

6. _Moonlight._ Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter (Custom House). Ruskin:
Præterita, vol. ii., 166. Thoreau: Spring, 78. Summer, 95, 97, 117, 120,
176, 233, 239, 333. Winter, 215, 320, 322. Burroughs: Winter Sunshine, 43.

7. _Water._ Blackmore: Lorna Doone, vii. Thoreau: Spring, 87, 96, 101,
109, 154. Summer, 30, 117, 240, 243. Autumn, 111, 160, 182, 370, 400,
434. Ruskin: Præterita, vol. ii., 159 (The Rhone).

8. _Mountains._ Ruskin: Præterita, vol. i., 288. Bolles: At the North of
Bearcamp Water. See Index, p. 296, for many views of more than a score of

9. _Landscapes._ Ruskin: Præterita, vol. ii., 78 (Rome). Hawthorne:
American Note Books, 441 (Gosport). Blackmore: Lorna Doone, iv. (Doone
Gate). Hugo: Les Misèrables (Field of Waterloo).

_Birds, Animals, and Insects._—See indexes of the following: Thoreau:
Spring; Summer; Autumn; Winter; Walden. Burroughs: Wake Robin; Winter
Sunshine; Birds and Bees. Miller: Bird-Ways; A Bird-Lover in the West.
Torrey: A Rambler’s Lease; Birds in the Bush. Merriam: A-Birding on a
Broncho. Bolles: From Blomidon to Smoky; The Land of the Lingering Snow;
At the North of Bearcamp Water. Gibson: Sharp Eyes.

_Buildings and Rooms._—Ruskin: Præterita, vol. i., 232 (chapel); vol.
iii., 5 (monastery). Scott: Ivanhoe, iii. (Saxon hall). Stevenson: An
Inland Voyage (Noyon Cathedral); The Amateur Emigrant (the second cabin).
Hawthorne: House of the Seven Gables, i.; Howe’s Masquerade (the Province
House). Irving: The Alhambra. (Palace of the Alhambra); Sketch Book
(Westminster Abbey). Lamb: The East India Office.


Helps: Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd, 14, 27, 32, 33, 40, 42,
54, 61, 72. Brevia, 5, 14, 15, 22, 37, 91, 92, 94, 105, 113, 115, 161,

Blake: Thoreau’s Thoughts, 4, 9, 21, 46, 89, 98, 100, 103, 108, 118, 123.

=Summary, Abstract, Abridgment.=—The ability to arrive at the substance
of an article or book and write it down, is demanded constantly in almost
every business and in every profession. An extremely brief statement
of the substance is called a _summary_. A longer statement, couched in
language independent of that used by the author, is an _abstract_. If the
article or book is shortened by the omission of the less important parts,
the language of the original being in general retained, the result is an

Almost any well-constructed composition lends itself to summary,
abstract, or abridgment. A story of Irving or Hawthorne, a chapter
of Parkman or John Fiske, an article in the _Forum_ or the _Nation_,
furnishes excellent material. Below are given typical pieces that may
be used, the shorter ones for summary, the longer for abstract or
abridgment. Stories can better be abstracted than abridged.

It is well to plan the proportions of your version. The scale of 1:6 (one
paragraph to six) will be found a good proportion on which to reduce the
longer pieces. Burke’s Speech On Conciliation would thus reduce to an
abstract or an abridgment of about twenty paragraphs. But this speech can
be reduced on a scale of 1:10 or even 1:20.



1. _Personal Contests_:—_Spartacus and Hermann_, A. J. Church: Two
Thousand Years Ago, p. 31 ff. _Christian and Apollyon_, Bunyan: Pilgrim’s
Progress, Fourth Stage. _Archery_, Scott: Ivanhoe, xiii. _David and
Goliath_, I Samuel xvii. _Nickleby and Squeers_, Dickens: Nicholas
Nickleby, xiii. _The Boat Race_, Hughes: Tom Brown at Oxford. _Siege
of the Round House_, Stevenson: Kidnapped, x. _The Three-Handed Duel_,
Marryat: Midshipman Easy. _The Tournament_, Scott: Ivanhoe, xii.

2. _Narrative chapters from_: Aldrich: Story of a Bad Boy. Burnett: The
One I Knew the Best of All. Hale: A New England Boyhood. Larcom: A New
England Girlhood. Howells: My Year in a Log Cabin. Warner: Being a Boy.

3. _Stories._—Hawthorne: The Snow Image; The Great Stone Face; Ethan
Brand; Legends of the Province House; The Great Carbuncle; David Swan;
The Vision of the Fountain; Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment; The Artist of the

Wilkins: A Humble Romance; The Bar Lighthouse; A Lover of Flowers;
Gentian; A Conflict Ended; A Village Singer; Sister Liddy; A Gala Dress;
A Village Lear; The Revolt of Mother.

Sir Roger de Coverley Papers: Spectators No. 110, 112, 113, 116, 118,
122, 123, 132, 269, 329, 335, 359, 383, 517.

4. _History._—Green: History of the English People. _Bæda_, vol. i.,
ch. 2, pp. 64-67. _Hastings_, vol. i., ch. 4, pp. 113-114. _Rising of
baronage_, B. iii., ch. 1, pp. 240-244. _Calais_, B. iv., ch. 2, pp.
422-425. _Armada_, B. vi., ch. 6, pp. 444-446. _Return of Napoleon_;
_Waterloo_, B. ix., ch. 5, pp. 385-389.

McMasters: History of the People of the United States. _Marietta_,
vol. i., 513-515. _Death of Hamilton_, vol. iii., 52-53. _Leopard and
Chesapeake_, vol. iii., 258-259. _Monroe’s journey_, vol. iv., 377-380.

Fiske: Critical Period of American History. The Continental Congress,
vol. i., ch. 3. Valley Forge, vol. ii., ch. 9.

Rolfe, W. J.: Tales from English History in Prose and Verse.

Yonge: Book of Golden Deeds.


1. _Schools._—See The Schoolmaster in Literature. (American Book Co.)

2. _Towns._—Hale: Seven Spanish Cities. Howells: Three Villages; A Boy’s
Town. Stedman: New York City (_St. Nicholas_, 20:403, ’93). Stockton:
St. Augustine (_Ibid._, 21:206, ’94).

=Exposition.=—1. Nordhoff: Politics for Young Americans. 2. Van Dyke:
How to judge a picture. 3. Krehbiel: How to understand music. 4. Wagner:
Courage. 5. Camp: American Football. 6. Stagg and Williams: American
Football. 7. Bassett: Machinist’s trade (_Harper’s Young People_, 64:682,
’91). The Printing Trade (_Ibid._, 64:624, ’91). The following articles
from _The Youth’s Companion_: 8. Journalism for girls (64:657, ’91). 9.
Civil Service (64:245, ’91). 10. Why men must die (67:426, ’94). 11.
Medicine as a profession (64:258, ’91). 12. Success in railway life
(65:505, ’92). 13. Wholesome lunches (67:83, ’94). 14-18. Advice to young
musicians (64:310, 418, 321, 362). 19. Separate functions of the Senate
and House of Representatives (63:633, ’90). 20. Self-Education (65:494,
’92). 21-23. The girl who thinks she can write (64:447; 65:458, 734).
24. Trusts (67:538,’94). 25. Uses of the census (63:89, ’90). 26. Monroe
Doctrine (67:388, ’94). 27. Arbitration (67:48, ’94). 28. Good government
clubs (67:448, ’94).


1. A property qualification for municipal suffrage is desirable.

    _Affirmative._ White: _Forum_, x. 357 (Dec. 1890). Eliot:
    _Forum_, xii. 153 (Oct. 1891).

    _Negative._ Bryce: American Commonwealth, i., chaps, i., iii.

2. An eight-hour working day should be adopted by law.

    _Affirmative._ Webb and Cox: The Eight Hours Day.

    _Negative._ Walker: Atlantic Monthly, lxv. 800 (June, 1890).

3. Municipalities should sometimes give work to the unemployed.

    _Affirmative._ _Forum_, xvi. 655 (Feb. 1894). Coit _Forum_,
    xvii. 276 (May, 1894).

    _Negative._ _Nation_, lvii. 481 (Dec. 28, 1893).

4. The housing of the poor should be improved by municipalities.

    _Affirmative._ Riis: How the Other Half Lives.

    _Negative._ White: Improved Dwellings for the Laboring Classes.

5. Burke: On Conciliation with the American Colonies.

6. Chatham: On Removing Troops from Boston.[53]

7. Beecher: Liverpool Speech.[53]



Narration, or narrative, relates a series of events. Description gives
an account of the look of persons or things. Character description gives
both physical and mental traits. Recall to memory various stories you
have read, and say whether narratives of considerable length do or do not
have to give description as they proceed.


=Two Kinds.=—If a series of events actually happened, they are
historical, and the story of them may be called _historical narrative_.
If they did not happen, but owe their existence to the imagination, they
are fictional, and the narrative is _fiction_. If we are writing a story,
let the fact be understood; if a sober rehearsal of facts, let it be made
an exercise in the rare and difficult art of truth-telling.

=Exercises in Choice of Subject.=—(1) Examine a daily paper and pick out
several narratives which seem to you to have a general human interest,
and several that have not. (2) Write a list of twenty subjects for
narrative and submit them to the class for a vote as to which are the
most interesting. Choose events which you have witnessed or taken part
in. (3) Write a list of what are to you the most interesting events of
ancient, mediæval, and modern history.

=Choice of Details.=—In writing an account of a simple incident it
is possible to tell every detail of what happened. But evidently no
such thing is practicable in narrating the events of a day, a week,
a lifetime. What to omit will depend much upon the length of the
composition. A clear-headed writer will not put pen to paper before he
has decided just what points he is going to bring out.

=Written Exercise.=—(1) Jot down on paper memoranda of the important
things, the turning events, in your own past life. (2) Make memoranda to
show what events ought to stand out most distinctly in a history of the
United States.

=Plot.=—Read the following:—

    Ichabod Crane was ridiculously frightened one dark night by a
    boy who played ghost. The lad took the part of a traditional
    spectre that rode a black horse. The joker had a cloak over his
    head, and before him on the saddle a pumpkin, to represent the
    head which the headless horseman was fabled to carry.

Read now the following:—

    One dark night Ichabod Crane started homeward on horseback.
    He approached the oak on which André, the spy, was hanged.
    Ichabod’s heart quaked. He passed the haunted tree in safety,
    but his heart almost stood still when, a little farther on,
    he saw a strange rider on a gigantic horse. Horse and rider
    kept pace with him. Ichabod however saw that the latter was
    headless, nay, carried his head before him on the saddle. The
    figure raised itself and hurled its head at Ichabod. When the
    schoolmaster found himself on the ground, did he realize that
    the grewsome missile was only a pumpkin?

Which of these accounts begets _suspense as to the outcome_? In other
words, in which is there _plot_? Recall some novel you have read, and
explain how the reader’s interest is held through to the end.

=Oral Exercise.=—Recall some anecdote, and present it orally with plot

=Theme.=—Write a simple historical narrative of about two hundred words,
giving without plot all the details of some brief incident in your own
experience. The following may suggest a topic: 1. My first day at the
lathe. 2. Examination memories. 3. How I earned some money and how I
spent it. 4. Spearing fish by night. 5. A personal adventure with a
window. 6. How I spent this morning.

=Theme.=—Write one or more imaginary newspaper items, without plot, each
detailing some simple incident. Choose a subject of local interest
if possible. For example: 1. A runaway. 2. Fire on Seventh Street. 3.
Trolley-car accident. 4. Curious act of a bird. 5. April 23 at the Brown
School. 6. Brave deed of a child. 7. He returned $500. 8. An old building
demolished. 9. The new library is opened. 10. Arrested for “scorching.”

=Themes.=—Select several topics for five hundred word themes, and write
outlines showing what details you would emphasize in composing. Then
write historical narratives from the outlines, making them as interesting
as you can without deviating from facts. Sample subjects: 1. My struggles
with cooking. 2. A day in the berry patch. 3. The first time I saw a
play. 4. An adventure of my father. 5. A few days with a doctor. 6. How a
certain town was named. 7. Misfortunes of our circus. 8. The tribulations
of a truant. 9. My first ocean voyage. 10. An uncomfortable call. 11. My
career as an actor. 12. A visit to the World’s Fair. 13. In a graveyard
after dark. 14. How Smith looked me up. 15. A week in the woods. 16.
The fall I had. 17. My experience as a clerk. 18. A glimpse of college
life. 19. What I saw some bees do. 20. An unwilling swim. 21. That Fourth
of July. 22. Experiences with a pony. 23. Haying. 24. How the vacation
passed. 25. When I was a book-agent. 26. Crossing a swollen stream.

=Complex Incident.=—Many a narrative must be composed of several
_threads_, telling different events that were going on at the same time.
If you were giving an account of how two hunters after being separated in
the woods finally reached home again, you would relate first how one got
home, then how the other got home; or, having narrated the wanderings of
the first, you would let the second tell his own story on rejoining his

=Theme.=—Relate a complex incident, either historical or fictional, in
a theme about five hundred words long. Two or three threads are enough.
The following may suggest a subject: 1. Two roads to town. 2. How our
party reached the top of the mountain. 3. Adventures of a lost child and
its parents. 4. The rescue of an amateur sailor from a wreck. 5. What
happened at our club meeting. 6. Three boys and a boat. 7. An overheard


Language is better adapted to narrate than to describe, for words follow
each other, just as events do; they cannot flash the whole picture, with
all the details, upon the reader. Consequently writers often combine
narrative and description in order to dwell on details. Homer[54]
describes the shield of Achilles by telling the story of its forging—how
Vulcan wrought each part in turn. What is called the _traveller’s view_
is description from successive points of view. There is a good example of
this kind of description in Hawthorne’s _American Note Books_, p. 181.

In some descriptions the writer is willing to sacrifice the general look
of the object, in order to secure accuracy of detail. Giving each detail
is called _description by inventory_. This is often useful, particularly
in business or in science. Turn to any book of natural history and read
the inventory description of some bird or animal. But ordinarily a
description should give a general impression whether it afterward gives
details or not. The most common way of doing this is to tell what in
general the object to be described makes you think of. If the object is
a river, it may remind you of a snake or a letter S; if a village, it
may recall to your mind a flat-iron; if a little old lady, it may appear
to you, as to Dickens, in _Hard Times_, “a bundle of shawls.” The main
impression thus received is called the _fundamental image_.

Not every object will furnish a fundamental image, but every object is
sure to be remembered for a few _chief details_. If of a given landscape
there lingers in the memory only a dim sense of green woods, with here
and there a patch of white, it is as much description to record this
dim image as it would be to detail kinds of trees, distances, etc.
Indeed, it is a mistake often made to report in a description things
that could not possibly have been seen from the given point of view. To
_keep the point of view_ is vital. It is a good practice to describe a
photograph—such as those published by the Soule Company, of Boston—in
order to learn the art of proportion in these matters of living details.

It must not, however, be thought that details have no place in
description. In studying an object with a view to writing about it, one
should have the eye of a hawk for every _visible_ detail, in order that
what he writes may be truthful. There is no better training for the
powers of observation than description. Send a careless person to the
lake to describe it. He reports “myriads of ripples dancing in glee,”
things that every wretched poetaster has seen before him. Send a careful
observer, and he will report wonderful shades of color, and curious
surface effects, like corrugation and damascene.

_Suggested Topics for Description_

=By Inventory.=—1. The bluebird. 2. A jellyfish. 3. A luna moth. 4. Kinds
of clouds. 5. In a museum. 6. Flags of different nations. 7. A bottle
of ink. 8. A small boy’s pocket. 9. What my room contains. 10. A shop
window. 11. The old swimming-hole. 12. A bit of old silver.

=By Narrative.=—1. A day in Boston. 2. An oil well. 3. A crowd. 4. A
quaint tea party. 5. A country fair. 6. A fire. 7. A dream. 8. The
matinée. 9. A masquerade. 10. How the farm looked when I went back. 11.
The dynamo I made. 12. My tent-making. 13. Our hut. 14. Decorating a
church for Christmas. 15. My baking. 16. Up Pike’s Peak.

=By Fundamental Image and Details.=—1. Kinds of noses. 2. A bit of old
architecture. 3. A church altar. 4. Famous deltas. 5. The shop. 6. The
lunch-room. 7. A little old man. 8. This town in A.D. 2000. 9. An old
fireplace. 10. A wreck. 11. Profile Mountain. 12. The football field. 13.
The baseball ground described for an Englishman. 14. The capitol. 15. An
old horse.

=By Chief Details.=—1. Uncle Billy. 2. A hermit. 3. Our postmaster. 4.
Our mail-carrier. 5. An Indian. 6. A southern girl. 7. My chum. 8. The
procession of the pines. 9. A moonlight scene. 10. A wood interior. 11.
An American boy of 1925. 12. Houses I have lived in. 13. Two generals.
14. The boy who grins. 15. Queer street characters. 16. A cat. 17. The
fortune-teller. 18. Curious advertisements. 19. Betty in her best dress.
20. A sunset. 21. A wave.




Exposition is explanation. It may either explain a general principle by
illustrations and examples, as the preacher’s sermon expounds a statement
of scripture, or it may explain a group of facts by getting at their
underlying principle, as a scientific treatise does. Exposition, it is
clear, deals with ideas rather than with particular objects. We describe
a department store; we expound the principles by which it is conducted.
We describe an electric motor; we expound the laws of electricity. We
describe a beautiful statue; we expound beauty.

Below are given various subjects for exposition. In writing about them,
do not drift into argument. If you write on “dangers of exercise,” do not
argue against over-exercise; calmly explain the matter.

_Subjects for Exposition_

1. Golf. 2. Cannibalism. 3. The bear family. 4. Principles of diet.
5. Credulity. 6. Nostalgia. 7. How to sail a boat. 8. Drowned rivers.
9. On eating candy. 10. The formation of ravines. 11. Dangers of
over-exercise. 12. Dangers of too little exercise. 13. Why the earth
quakes. 14. How men become criminals. 15. How the will may be trained
in the classroom. 16. An ideal classroom. 17. What makes up an ideal
camping ground. 18. Advantages and disadvantages of classroom study. 19.
Effects of climate on man. 20. The conduct of a great business. 21. What
are home missions? 22. How to become famous. 23. How to plan a dinner.
24. How to furnish a sitting-room. 25. Advantages of small classes. 26.
Possibilities of electricity. 27. What constitutes a great man? 28. The
art of fly-casting. 29. The construction of a roof. 30. What good does an
examination do the student? 31. Spiritualism. 32. Ghosts. 33. My choice
of a profession. 34. The banking system. 35. Practical values of good
manners. 36. The interpretation of any of the proverbs given on pages


There are various ways of bringing people to our way of thinking. One
way, by appealing to their reason, is called _argument_. Can you suggest
other ways?

Every argument must have a _proposition_, which is laid down to be
proved. If this proposition is not stated in the title of the argument,
it should be stated early in the discussion. It cannot be too definitely
formulated. Every word of it should be made clear; there should be full
_exposition of terms_. Half the quarrels in the world disappear after
a thorough definition of terms. The question of whether Aaron Burr was
guilty of treason depends on how treason is defined. In law a man,
however traitorous, is not guilty of treason unless his treason had been
witnessed by two persons. Burr’s treason was not witnessed; he escaped

In argument (_a_) depend upon a few weighty arguments rather than upon
many weak ones; (_b_) remember that _examples_ are but weak arguments;
(_c_) if in debate, be perfectly fair to your opponent, admitting all
that is true on his side; (_d_) know your case thoroughly in every detail.

_Subjects for Argument or Debate_

1. Examinations are usually a fair test of scholarship. 2. Labor-saving
machinery is a permanent advantage to mankind. 3. The world owes every
man a living. 4. A truthful person will be a better writer than a liar.
5. The Gulf of Mexico will one day have a greater port than New York now
has. 6. High school students should read the newspapers. 7. Observation
helps us more than reading. 8. Examinations should be abolished. 9.
Sunday observance should be compulsory. 10. A high school is guilty of
injustice to its students if it does not train them in public speaking.
11. People possessing no property should not be allowed to vote. 12.
Is it right to break a friendship? 13. Ought department stores to be
permitted? 14. Are there good excuses for being a tramp? 15. Is it wrong
to bet? 16. How far is it right in politics that to the victors should
belong the spoils? 17. Should a parent forbid his son to take part in
football? 18. Should a man ever shoot a robber? 19. Is suicide ever
justifiable? 20. Is it right to evade custom house duties? 21. Is it
wrong to go to the theatre often? 22. Is it ever best to give money on
the street? 23. Is it right for women to wear birds on their hats? 24.
How far is it right for students to study together? 25. Is a curfew law
desirable? 26. Is it right to discard old friends for new? 27. Should
one bear witness against a friend? 28. Does paying a fare entitle one to
a seat? 29. Is it right to let people deceive themselves? 30. Are there
any customary lies which are right? 31. Is capital punishment defensible
as punishment? 32. Is capital punishment defensible as a protection to
society? 33. Should Latin be a compulsory study? 34. Which is rougher,
football or pugilism?


[1] From the first, brief supplementary themes, especially reproductions,
should be required. For bibliography of material, see Chapter XIII.

[2] Cf. President Stanley Hall’s _Pedagogical Seminary_, iv. i. 76.

[3] _The Children_, p. 103. (_The Bodley Head._ John Lane.)

[4] Some teachers will prefer to use composition-books.

[5] A part of these signs are from G. R. Carpenter’s admirable _Exercises
in Rhetoric and English Composition_.

[6] Elizabeth H. Spalding: _The Problem of Elementary Composition_.
Boston, D. C. Heath & Co.

[7] Do not discard your old text-book in grammar or in “language.” Bring
it to school and keep it at hand for ready reference. In it are rules
for spelling; these, as well as other rules, you will be glad to review

[8] The author is indebted for the idea of this exercise to Miss
Catherine Aiken’s _Methods of Mind-Training_ (Harper & Bros.). If it
proves helpful it should be extended to the consonants _d_, _f_, _g_,
_l_, _m_, _n_, _p_, _r_, _s_, _t_.

[9] The mark over the second syllable is called the diæresis. It
indicates that each vowel is to be pronounced separately.

[10] Such may be called logically co-ordinate, though grammatically
dependent. The restrictive relative clause may be called the necessary
relative clause; the non-restrictive may be called the unnecessary or
additional relative clause.

[11] _Comprehensively_ is Mr. Stevenson’s word—not the _husband’s_; it
is inserted to show the way in which, probably with a vague gesture, the
husband said _all_.

[12] Demean = behave. What word would be better here?

[13] A quaint way of spelling _eras_.

[14] _Solecism_ is Greek in origin. The Athenian colonists of Soli in
Asia Minor spoke Greek so badly that the Attic Greeks came to refer to an
error in grammar (or in pronunciation) as _soloikismós_, whence our word.

[15] _Advanced Exercises_, p. 85.

[16] There are few exceptions: _day’s work_, _week’s pay_, etc.

[17] Is there incoherence between the clauses of this sentence after
_vowing_? If so, how remedy it?

[18] Each of these paragraphs was written as a part of a larger whole.
But each is complete in itself, and may be considered as an independent

[19] In another and larger sense, every mark of punctuation is
disjunctive, as was said on page 21.

[20] That is, Lord Falkland.

[21] This “that” is demonstrative.

[22] Sometimes a simple sentence is called periodic. This is when the
natural order of subject and predicate is inverted. Thus: “Great is Diana
of the Ephesians.” Indeed, the attributive position of the adjective
is sometimes called periodic, because it delays the noun-idea. A long
sentence is sometimes periodic up to a certain point, then loose;
sometimes the opposite is true.

[23] Sentences that are in the main periodic may ordinarily be given this

[24] The longer passages to which the last two selections belong may be
found in Genung’s _Rhetorical Analysis_.

[25] The phrase, “words that deserve distinction,” is Professor Barrett
Wendell’s. See his _English Composition_, p. 103 (Scribner’s).

[26] See also Scott and Denney, _Composition-Rhetoric_, p. 72 ff.
Teachers will be interested to compare an article by Miss Gertrude Buck,
_Educational Review_, March, 1887. The matter is touched upon in the
_History of the English Paragraph_, by the author of this book, p. 43 _et
al._ (Univ. of Chicago Press).

[27] Is there not some ambiguity as to the grammatical structure here?
_Swallowed_ is logically the act performed by _it_, the fish, but
grammatically it may be taken with ——? Remedy the fault.

[28] _Good Manners_, a pamphlet. (H. L. Hastings, Boston)

[29] For the idea of this exercise the author is indebted to Professors
Scott and Denney, _Composition-Rhetoric_ (Allyn and Bacon).

[30] See however _do_, _does_, in the Oxford English Dictionary.

[31] A. S. Hill: _Foundations of Rhetoric_, p. 110 (Harper’s).

[32] _Round_ is more frequently used than _around_ with verbs of motion.

[33] Probably three-fourths of these words are not in literary use
to-day. Many are obsolete, many are colloquial, many are scientific or
technical. Thousands of other scientific terms (names of genera and
species) are not included in the 200,000 estimate.

[34] A maker of noble verse is called what?

[35] See _The Century Magazine_ for November, 1896, for an English theme
by Miss Helen.

[36] Emerson’s words, quoted on page 121, will occur to every reader.

[37] _My Literary Passions_, p. 32 (Harper & Bros.).

[38] In case of doubt, consult Bartlett’s _Shakspere Concordance_
(Macmillan Co.).

[39] It may be found desirable to assign only a part of the words to each
student, the results to be read before the class and discussed.

[40] _Foundations of Rhetoric_, p. 171.

[41] _Advanced Exercises_, p. 41.

[42] For particular passages, etc., see Professor A. S. Cook’s _The Bible
and English Prose Style_ (Ginn & Co.).

[43] Hundreds of others will be found in Hazlitt’s _English Proverbs_.

[44] For reference: Fallows, _100,000 Synonyms and Antonyms_ (Fleming
H. Revell Co.); Roget, _Thesaurus_; Fernald, _Synonyms, Antonyms, and
Prepositions_ (Funk and Wagnalls).

[45] _Among My Books_, II. 259.

[46] Quoted in a different connection by E. E. Hale, Jr., _Constructive
Rhetoric_, p. 288 (Henry Holt & Co.).

[47] Mr. George Bainton, _The Art of Authorship_ (D. Appleton & Co.).

[48] Consult a French dictionary.

[49] The Turkish Cadi to the English Traveller. See James, _Psychology_,
II. 640.

[50] _Handbook of English Composition_, p. 348 (Eldredge & Bro.).

[51] _Letter-Writing_, p. 121 (Penn. Pub. Co.).

[52] The first four subjects are taken from Brookings and Ringwalt:
_Briefs for Debate_ (Longmans), which see for further articles on the
same topics.

[53] See Baker: _Specimens of Modern Argumentation_ (Henry Holt & Co.).

[54] _Iliad_, xviii. 601, Bryant’s translation.

[55] Carpenter and Fletcher, _Introduction to Theme-Writing_, p. 117.


    Abbreviations, 41-42.

    _ability_, _capacity_, 154.

    _abominate_, 192.

    Abridgment, 266-270.

    Abstract, 266-270.

    _accept_, _except_, 160.

    _acceptance_, _acceptation_, 154.

    _access_, _accession_, 154.

    _act_, _action_, 155.

    Adjective and noun, concord of, 48-49.

    Adjective, singular, with plural noun, 49.

    _advance_, _advancement_, 155.

    _affect_, _effect_, 160.

    African words, 185.

    _aggravate_, _irritate_, _tantalize_, 161.

    Agreement. See Concord.

    _ain’t_, 149.

    _alienate_, _antagonize_, 162.

    Alienism, 152, 153.

    Allegory, 250.

    _allude_, _mention_, 161.

    _alternative_, _choice_, 155.

    _amateur_, 152.

    Ambiguity, 43, 233-234.

    Americanisms, 153.

    _and_, 97, 100.

    Anglo-Saxon prefixes and suffixes, 186-187.

    Anglo-Saxon words, 182-183, 235-238.

    _antagonize_, _alienate_, 162.

    Apostrophe, the, 37.

    _apt_, _likely_, _liable_, 167.

    Arabic words, 185.

    Argument, 280-282:
      proposition, 280;
      exposition of terms, 281;
      subjects for, 126-127, 281-282.

    Arnold, M., 149.

    _around_, _round_, 177, foot-note.

    _artiste_, 153.

    _as ... as_, 55.

    Asterisks, 37.

    Audience, necessity of, 10, 136-137, 141-142.

    Authority, in choice of words, 147.

    Authors, the best, 149.

    _autoharp_, 153.

    _avocation_, _vocation_, 156.

    _bad_ or _badly_, 57.

    _baggage_, _luggage_, 148.

    _balance_, _remainder_, 156.

    Barbarisms, 151-153.

    _beau monde_, 153.

    Beauty of style, 229.

    _begin_, _commence_, 162.

    Bible, 212.

    _blickey_, 147.

    _bogus_, 175.

    Brackets, 35.

    _bring_, _fetch_, 162.

    Briticisms, 153.

    Bunyan, J., 212.

    _burglarize_, 152.

    _but_, 100.

    _c_ doubled in word, 17.

    _calculate_, _intend_, 164.

    _can_, _may_, 165.

    _capacity_, _ability_, 154.

    Capitals, rules for, 21-23.

    Case, government of, 53-54.

    Cases, concord of, 52.

    Chapter, 75.

    _character_, _reputation_, 156.

    Chinese words, 185.

    Choice of words. See under Words.

    _claim_, _assert_, etc., 162.

    Clauses, subordination of, 96-101.

    Clearness, 43, 227-228, 251, 255.

    Cleft infinitive, 46-47.

    Climax, 112-113, 229.

    Coherence, 44, 101-102.

    Collective noun, 47.

    Colon, 30-31.

    _combine_ (noun), 152.

    Comma, 24-28;
      with _and_, 84.

    Comma-fault, 81.

    _commence_, _begin_, 162.

    Communication. See under English, writing of.

    _compliment_, _complement_, 156.

    Composition. See English, writing of.

    Composition, whole. See Theme.

    Compound words, 14-15.

    Concord, 47-53:
      of subject and predicate, 47-48;
      of adjective and noun, 48-49;
      of pronoun and antecedent, 49-52;
      of cases, 52;
      of tenses, 52-53.

    Conjunction, 55, 56, 97, 99, 100.

    _continual_, _continuous_, 167.

    Correspondence, forms of. See Letter-writing.

    _council_, _counsel_, 157.

    Courtesy in letters, 255-256.

      by the instructor, 2-4;
      by the class, 10.

    Curious words, 191-192.

    Dash, 31-32.

    Deficiency of words, 233.

    _demean_, 40, foot-note;
      _demean_, _degrade_, _debase_, 162-163.

    Description, 275-278:
      traveller’s view, 276;
      by inventory, 276;
      fundamental image, 276;
      point of view, 277;
      topics for themes, 277-278.

    _desire_, _want_, _wish_, 167.

    Diacritical marks, 150.

    Dialogue, punctuation of, 34-35.

    Dickens, C., 149.

    Diction, 227. See also under Words.

    Dictionary, use of, 13-14, 150.

    _different than_ for _different from_, 56.

    _different to_ for _different from_, 56.

      in the sentence, 90-91;
      in the paragraph or theme, 116-117.

    _discovery_, _invention_, 157.

    _don’t_, 153.

    _double entendre_, 152.

    _drank_ and _drunk_, 63.

    _drive_, _ride_, 163.

    Dutch words, 185.

    _each_ as pronoun, 48.

    _effect_, _affect_, 160.

      as distributive conjunction, 48;
      as pronoun, 48;
      _either ... or_, 48.

    _electrocution_, 152.

    _else_, a part of the noun, 63-64.

    Emerson, R. W., 144.

    _eminent_, _imminent_, _immanent_, 168.

    Emotions, 228-229.

    Emphasis, in the sentence, 110-112, 229.

    Emphasis, punctuation for, 86-87.

    _endorse_, _approve_, _second_, 163.

    Endorsement, of theme, 2.

    English, writing of, 5-11:
      as an art of communication, 5-6;
      as a useful art, 7;
      as a fine art, 7-9;
      limitations, 9-10;
      writing for an audience, 10-11.

    _enthuse_ (verb), 152.

    _entre nous_, 153.

    Errors, in themes, 1, 3.

    Essay. See Theme.

    Etymology. See under Grammar.

    Euphony, 229.

    _every_ (pronoun), 48.

    _except_, _accept_, 160.

    _exceptionably_, 175.

    Exclamation point, 35.

    Exercises. See under Subject.

    Exposition, 279-280:
      explained, 279;
      subjects for, 126, 127, 279-280.

    _falseness_, _falsity_, 157.

    _faux pas_, 153.

    _fetch_, _bring_, 162.

      figurative uses of common words, 199-203, 246-253.

    Fiske, J., 149, 266.

    _flexibone_, 153.

    _flunk_, 148.

    Force, 228.

    Formal letters, 255, 259-260.

    French words, 184.

    _funny_, _odd_, 168.

    Gallicisms, 152.

    General words, 238-243.

    _gent_, 152.

    Good usage, 150.

    _got_, _gotten_, _have_, 163.

    _grade_, _gradient_, 148.

    Grammar, 43-73:
      to secure clearness, 43;
      solecisms, 44;
      coherence, 44-47;
      concord, 47-53;
      government, 53-54;
      reference of pronouns, 54-55;
      conjunctions and prepositions, 55-56;
      use of adverb or adjective with verbs of sensation, etc., 56-58;
      _shall_ or _will_, 58-62;
      matters of etymology, 63-64;
      exercises, oral, 45-46, 53, 58, 61-62, 64-73.

    Grammar. See also under Punctuation.

    Greek roots in English, 191.

    Green, J. R., 149.

      of paragraph from root, 75;
      of thought, 114.

    _guess_, _think_, _reckon_, 163.

    _guillotine_, 191.

    Hawthorne, N., 149.

    _healthy_, _healthful_, 168.

    Hellenism, 152.

    Holden, E. S., 197.

    Hughes, T., 149.

    Hyperbole, 248.

    Hyphen, 14-15.

    Ideas and words, 195-197;
      ideas without words, 194.

    _ill_ (adjective or adverb), 57.

    _imminent_, _eminent_, _immanent_, 168.

    Improprieties, 154.

    _in_, _into_, 169.

    Indentation, 1, 129-130.

    India, words from, 185-186.

    Indian words (North American), 186.

    _infant_, derivation of, 6.

    Infinitive, cleft. See Cleft infinitive.

    Informal letters, 255, 260-261.

    Interrogation point, 36.

    _invention_, _discovery_, 157.

    Inverted order, 104, foot-note, 110.

    _invite_ (noun), 152.

    Italian words, 184.

    Italics, 36-37.

    James, H., 149.

    Janus-clause, 46.

    Jefferson, J., 137.

    Keller, H., 194.

    Language, English, formation of. See under Vocabulary, sources of.

    Language, study of, 5-7.

    Language, written. See under Rhetoric.

    _last_, _latest_, 169;
      _last_, _preceding_, 169.

    Latin constructions. See Latinisms.

    Latin element, 188-191:
      words transferred to English, 188-189;
      prefixes and suffixes, 189;
      roots, 189-191.

    Latin words, 181, 188-189, 190-191.

    Latinisms, 50-51, 152.

    _lay_, _lie_, 164.

    _let_, 148;
      _let_, _leave_, 164.

    Letter-writing, 255-261:
      use of capitals, 22;
      why important, 255;
      business letters, 255-258;
      petition, 258-259;
      formal social letters, 259-260;
      personal or informal letters, 260-261;
      exercises, 258-259, 259-260, 261.

    _liable_, _likely_, _apt_, 167.

    _lie_, _lay_, 164.

    _like_, 56.

    _limit_, _limitation_, 157.

    _litterateur_, 153.

    _loan_, _lend_, 165.

    Localisms, 147.

    _locate_, _settle_, 164.

    Loose sentence, 102-103, 106, 109.

    _lot_, 175.

    _luggage_, _baggage_, 148.

    _mad_, _angry_, 169.

    _majority_, _plurality_, 158.

    Malaprop, Mrs., 195.

    Malayan words, 186.

    _managerial_, 152.

      preparation of, 1-2;
      once written “solid,” 23.

    _may_, _can_, 165.

    Memorizing of literature, 212;
      of proverbs, 213.

    _mention_, _allude_, 161.

    Metaphor, 249.

    Metonymy, 250.

    Mexican words, 186.

    _most_, _almost_, 169.

    _motorneer_, 151.

    _mutual_, _common_, 169.

    Narration, 271-275:
      historical narrative, 271;
      fiction, 271;
      choice of details, 272;
      plot, 272-273;
      complex incident, 275;
      exercises, 272-273;
      themes, 273-274, 275.

    _Nation_, The, 266.

    National usage, 148.

    _neither_, as distributive conjunction, 48;
      as pronoun, 48;
      _neither ... nor_, 48.

    _nom de plume_, 152.

    _none_, 48.

    Norman genitive, 63.

    Norman-French words, 184.

    Norse words, 183.

    Note-book, need of, 4, 14, 199, 262-263.

    Noun and adjective, concord of, 48-49.

    Number of words. See Words, right number and skilful choice of.

    _O_, in apostrophe, 35.

    Observation, how sharpened, 277.

    _observation_, _observance_, _remark_, 158.

    _Oh_, punctuation of, 35.

    Omission of words. See Words, omission of.

    _one’s self_, 14.

    _only_, and _not only_, 45-46.

    _onto_, 175;
      _onto_, _upon_, 153.

    _oral_, _verbal_, 170.

    Orthoëpy. See Pronunciation.

    Orthography. See Spelling.

    Outline of theme, 130, 138-139.

    _pants_, 152.

    Paragraph, division of. See under Sentence.

      indented, 1;
      growth of, from root, 75;
      History of the English paragraph, 114, foot-note;
      nebulæ of, 116;
      planning of, 117;
      kinds of, 120-124;
      expanding of one into several, 128-131.

    Parkman, F. W., 149, 266.

    _part_, _portion_, 159.

      unrelated, 49;
      misrelated, 49;
      in place of verbal noun, 49.

    _party_, _person_, 158.

    Periodic sentence, 103-106, 109-110;
      defined, 104;
      use of, 104;
      abuse of, 104, 106.

    _permit_, _permission_, 153.

    Persian words, 186.

    _person_, _party_, 158.

    Personification, 250.

    Petition, form of, 258-259.

    _photo_, 152.

    Planning, of theme, 114, 133-136;
      of paragraph, 117.

    _plurality_, _majority_, 158.

    Plurals and singulars, 15.

    _point of view_, 153.

    Possessive, how formed, 15, 63.

    _posted_, _informed_, 170.

    _practicable_, _practical_, 171.

    Predicate and subject, concord of, 47-48.

    _predominant_, _prominent_, 159.

    Prefixes and suffixes:
      Anglo-Saxon, 186-187;
      Latin, 189.

    Preposition, 55-56.

    Present usage, 148.

    _preventative_, 152.

    _Prof._, 152.

    Prolixity, 229-231.

      neutral, 50;
      indefinite, 50;
      reference of, 54;
      concord of, with antecedent, 49-52.

      importance of, 18;
      list of words mispronounced, 19-20.

    _propose_, _purpose_, 165.

    _proved_, _proven_, 165.

    Proverbs, 213-215.

    Provincialisms, 147.

    Punctuation, 21-42:
      disjunctive, 21, 84;
      capitals, 21-23;
      reasons for punctuation, 23-24;
      comma, 24-28;
      semicolon, 29-30;
      colon, 30-31;
      dash, 31-32;
      quotation marks, 33-35;
      brackets, 35;
      exclamation point, 35;
      interrogation point, 36;
      italics, 36-37;
      apostrophe, 37;
      asterisks, 37;
      abbreviations, 41-42;
      punctuation for emphasis, 86-87;
      exercises, oral, 29-30, 38-39;
      exercises, written, 23, 27-28, 32-33, 36, 39-41.

    _quite_, _somewhat_, _very_, _rather_, _entirely_, _wholly_, 171.

    Quotation marks, 33-35.

    Quotation, rhetorical, 22.

    _radiograph_, 152.

      oral, 12-13;
      care in, 203-211.

    _real_, _really_, _extremely_, 171.

    _recipe_, _receipt_, 159.

    _reckon_, _guess_, _think_, 163.

    Relative clause, restrictive and non-restrictive, 26, 27.

    _relative_, _relation_, 159.

    _reportorial_, 152.

    Reproduction, 262, 270:
      literal reproduction, 262-266;
      summary, abstract, abridgment, 266-267;
      material for, 267-270.

    _reputation_, _character_, 156.

    _residence_, _house_, 159.

    _resurrectionists_, 175.

    Rhetoric, defined, 6. See also under English, writing of.

    _ride_, _drive_, 163.

    “Roentgen rays,” names for, 151.

    _round_, _around_, 177, foot-note.

    Ruskin, J., 212, 241.

    Saxon genitive, 63.

    _scotograph_, 152.

    Self-expression, 5, 11.

    Semicolon, 29-30, 84-85.

    Sensation, verbs of, use with adjective or adverb, 56-57.

    Sense impressions, 205.

    Sentence, 74-95:
      part of the paragraph, 74-78;
      long and short sentence, 78, 85;
      sentence unity, 79-93;
      unity of form, 79 (see also under Sentence, well-knit);
      unity of substance, by excluding irrelevant ideas, 79-82;
      by inclusion of all parts of an idea, 82-86, 88;
      unity sacrificed for emphasis, 86-87;
      seventeenth century paragraph, 88-90;
      unity by keeping to the point, 90-91;
      by supplying suppressed clauses, 92;
      exercises, oral, 81, 85-86, 87, 90, 92-95;
      exercises, written, 88-90.

    Sentence, well-knit, 96-113:
      unity of form, 96-102;
      complex, 97-98;
      loose and periodic sentence, 103-110;
      emphasis, 110-112;
      climax, 112-113;
      exercises, oral, 98, 100, 102, 104-106, 107-109, 111-112.

    _set_, _sit_, 166.

    _sewage_, _sewerage_, 160.

    _shadowgraph_, 152.

    Shakespeare, 200-201, 212, 253.

    _shall_ and _will_:
      in direct discourse, 58-60;
      in indirect discourse, 60-61;
      in questions, 61.

    _showing up_, 175.

    _shunting_, _switching_, 147.

    _sideways_ for _sidewise_, 49.

    Signs, for marking themes, 3-4.

    Simile, 249.

    Simplicity, 229, 244-246.

    Singulars and plurals, 15.

    _site_, _situation_, 160.

    _skiagraph_, 152.

    _slick_, 151.

    _so ... as_, 55.

    _So_ construction, 99-100.

    Solecism, 44.

    _some_, _somewhat_, 172.

    South American words, 186.

    Spanish words, 184-185.

    Specific words, 235-238.

    Spelling, 13-20:
      practice in, 13-14;
      of compound words, 14-15;
      possessive, 15;
      singulars and plurals, 15;
      common errors, 16-17;
      word-breaking, 17;
      exercises, 16-18, 19-20.

    _spoonsful_, 152.

    _spotted_, 175.

    _standpoint_, 153.

    Stevenson, R. L., 149, 239.

    _stop_, _stay_, 166.

    Style, 227-229.

    Subject and predicate, concord of, 47-48.

    Subject, choice of, 136.

    Subjects for themes. See Theme.

    Suffixes. See Prefixes and suffixes.

    Suggestive words, 229.

    _suicide_ (verb), 152.

    Summary, 266-270.

    Suppressed clause, 92.

    Surplusage, 231-233.

    _switching_, _shunting_, 147.

    Syllables, joining of, 15.

    Synecdoche, 248.

    Synonyms, 215-225:
      a method of study, 217-220;
      groups of, 220-225;
      books of, 219, 220, foot-note. (See also 154-180.)

    Syntax. See under Grammar.

    Tenses, concord of, 52-53.

    Teutonisms, 153.

    Thackeray, W. M., 149, 196.

      errors in, 1, 3;
      title, 2;
      endorsement, 2;
      revision and rewriting, 2, 13;
      signs in correcting, 3-4;
      organizing of, 114-146;
      different ways of planning, 114;
      growth of thought, 114-116;
      unity, 116-117;
      planning paragraph, 117;
      topic sentence, 117-120, 123-124;
      kinds of paragraphs, 120-123, 126, 127-128;
      expansion, 128-133;
      proportioning, 133-136;
      choice of subject, 136-138, 141-143;
      outline, 130, 138-139;
      specimen theme, 139-141;
      transitions between paragraphs, 143-144;
      transitions between sentences, 144-146;
      exercises, oral, 123-126, 133-135, 141-142, 145-146;
      exercises written, 131, 135, 141, 142-143, 144;
      themes, 126-128, 141-142.

    Theme, subjects for, 34, 81-82, 88, 126-128, 129, 131-133, 135-136,
        141-143, 263-266, 267-270, 277-278, 281-282.

    _those kind_, 48.

    Thought, growth of, 114.

    Threads of narrative, 275.

    Topic sentence, 117.

    Transitions, between paragraphs, 143-144;
      between sentences, 144-145.

    Translation, 211.

    _transpire_, _happen_, 166.

    Trope, 247.

    Uniformity of sentence structure, 101-102.

    Unity of form, in sentence, 79, 96-102.

    Unity of substance:
      in sentence, 74-95;
      in theme, 116.

    _unless_, _without_, 172.

      national, 147-148;
      reputable, 148;
      present, 148;
      good, 150.

      of words, 226;
      as an element of beauty, 229.

    _verbal_, _oral_, 170.

    Verbosity, 233.

    Vocabulary, mastery of a writing, 194-226:
      ideas without words, 194;
      words without ideas, 194-195;
      ideas and words, 195-197;
      the two vocabularies, 197-199;
      vocabulary book, 199;
      figurative use of common words, 199-203;
      value of careful reading, 203-211;
      contributions from other studies, 211;
      translation, 211;
      memorizing of literature, 212-213;
      English proverbs, 213-215;
      synonyms for adjectives of praise, 216;
      danger of bookish words, 216-217;
      a method of study, 217-220;
      groups of synonyms, 220-225;
      variety, 226;
      exercises, oral, 216, 218-219, 220;
      written, 202-203, 218, 219-220, 225-226.

    Vocabulary note-book, 4, 199, 262.

    Vocabulary, sources of the English, 181-193:
      historical sketch, 181-186;
      Anglo-Saxon prefixes and suffixes, 186-187;
      Latin element, 188;
      Latin words transferred to English, 188-189;
      Latin prefixes and suffixes, 189;
      Latin roots in English, 189-191;
      Greek roots in English, 191;
      curious words, 191-192;
      written exercise, 192-193.

    Vocative words, punctuation of, 25.

    Vulgarisms, 149.

    _walkist_, 152.

    _want_, _wish_, _desire_, 167.

    _well_ (adjective or adverb), 57.

    West India words, 186.

    _wheatena_, 153.

    _will_ and _shall_. See _Shall_ and _will_.

    _wish_, _want_, _desire_, 167.

    _with_, introducing parenthetical clause, 47.

    _without_, _unless_, 172.

    Word-breaking, 17.

    Words, correctness in choice of, 147-180:
      authority, 147-150;
      provincialisms or localisms, 147;
      national usage, 147-148;
      present usage, 148;
      reputable usage, 148-149;
      vulgarisms, 149;
      good usage, 150;
      dictionary, 150;
      barbarisms, 151-153;
      alienisms, 152-153;
      improprieties, 154;
      choice of nouns, 154-160;
      verbs, 160-167;
      adjectives and adverbs, 167-172;
      exercises, oral, 172-174, 175-177, 178-180.

    Words, figurative use of common. See Vocabulary.

    Words, lists of:
      incorrectly spelled, 16-17;
      compound, 14-15;
      mispronounced, 18-19;
      Latin, 181-182, 188-189, 190-191;
      Celtic, 182;
      Anglo-Saxon, 182-183;
      Norse, 183;
      Italian, 184;
      Spanish, 185;
      Dutch, 185;
      African, 185;
      Arabian, 185;
      Chinese, 185;
      India, words from, 185-186;
      Malayan, 186;
      Persian, 186;
      North American Indian, 186;
      Mexican, 186;
      West Indian, 186;
      South American, 186;
      Greek, 191;
      curious, 191-192;
      adjectives, 203;
      synonyms, 220-225.

    Words, omission of, 55, 92, 234-235.

    Words, right number and skilful choice of, 227-253:
      as affecting clearness, 227-228;
      force, 228-229;
      beauty, 229;
      prolixity, 229-231;
      surplus of, 231-232;
      deficiency of, 233-235;
      specific words, 235-238;
      general words, 238-245;
      ambiguous words, 243-244;
      simple words, 244-246;
      literal and figurative words, 246-253;
      exercises, 232-233, 235, 237-238, 241-243, 243-244, 245-246, 253-254.

    Words without ideas, 194-195.

    Writing vocabulary. See Vocabulary.


    Aiken, C., 18.

    Bainton, G., 244, foot-note.

    Baker, G. P., 270, foot-note.

    Bardeen, C. W., 44.

    Bartlett, J., 201, foot-note.

    Beecher, H. W., 75, 253.

    Bible, 107.

    Bigelow, N. T., 15.

    Blackmore, R. D., 193, 205, 206.

    Brookings, W. D., and Ringwalt, R. C., 269, foot-note.

    Browning, R., 135.

    Bryant, W. C., 275, foot-note.

    Buck, G., 114, foot-note.

    Burke, E., 145, 267.

    Carlyle, T., 201-205, 253.

    Carpenter, G. R., 3, foot-note; 48, 211, foot-note; 238-239;
      and Fletcher, J. B., 281, foot-note.

    Chesterfield, P. D. S. (4th earl), 151, 179.

    Choate, R., 211.

    Cholmondeley, T., 261.

    Clarendon, E. H. (1st lord), 89-90.

    Coleridge, S. T., 76-77, 136.

    Cook, A. S., 212, foot-note.

    Defoe, D., 89.

    De Quincey, T., 78.

    Dickens, C., 276.

    Drayton, M., 136.

    Eliot, George, 243.

    Emerson, R. W., 34, 77, 121-122, 240.

    Fallows, S., 220, foot-note.

    Fernald, J. C., 219, 220, foot-note.

    Fiske, J., 101.

    Gaskell, Mrs., 177-179.

    Genung, J. F., 109, foot-note.

    Goethe, 35.

    Hale, E. E., Jr., 240, foot-note.

    Hall, S., ix., foot-note.

    Hart, J. M., 257, foot-note.

    Hawthorne, N., 105-106, 276.

    Hazlitt, W., 213, foot-note.

    Hill, A. S., 164, foot-note; 199, 211.

    Holmes, O. W., 75-76.

    Homer, 275, foot-note.

    Howells, W. D., 200.

    Hughes, T., 64-71.

    Huxley, T. H., 108.

    Irving, W., 124-126.

    James, H., 196, 243.

    James, W., 255, foot-note.

    Johnson, S., 122-123, 192-193.

    Jowett, B., 144.

    Keats, J., 240.

    Keller, 194, foot-note.

    Lamb, C., 39-41.

    Lanier, S., 107.

    Lewis, E. H., 114, foot-note.

    Lincoln, A., 133-134.

    Longfellow, H. W., 22, 136.

    Lowell, J. R., 136, 231.

    Macaulay, T. B., 107, 118-119.

    Mandeville, Sir J., 94-95, 96-97.

    Meynell, A., ix.

    Miles, A. H., 263, 264.

    Milton, J., 117, 207-208.

    Molière, 43.

    Morse, E. S., 120.

    Newman, J. H., 91, 108-109.

    Outlook, The, 118.

    Oxford English Dictionary, 153, foot-note.

    Phyfe, W. H. P., 18.

    Roche, Sir B., 252.

    Roget, P. M., 220, foot-note.

    Rousseau, J. J., 13.

    Ruskin, J., 100-101, 111, 145, 172-174, 207-211.

    Scott, F. N., and Denney, J. V., 114, foot-note; 123, foot-note.

    Shakespeare, 30, 93, 94, 201, 252, 253.

    Sheridan, P. B., 195.

    Smith, C. J., 219.

    Southey, R., 112-113.

    Spalding, E. H., 8, foot-note.

    Stevenson, R. L., 27-28, 32-33, 36, 176-177.

    Tennyson, A., 136.

    Thackeray, W. M., 136.

    Webster, D., 107-108.

    Wendell, B., 111, foot-note.

    Whittier, J. G., 136.

    Wood, J. G., 119, 128, 131.

    Wordsworth, W., 240, 253.

    See also bibliography, 263-270.



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    “The extracts are carefully chosen and edited, and a brief
    sketch of each writer is given. These sketches are written
    by men who edit the different sections, and as these men are
    selected from the foremost of English critics, the result is
    that the books contain a valuable set of brief essays from
    able and distinguished pens. George Saintsbury, Alfred Ainger,
    Edmund Gosse, Norman Moore, and others besides the editor
    himself have contributed, and the book would have been valuable
    did it contain nothing but these introductory notices. The
    conclusions of the editors of the different authors who have
    summed up the characteristics of the separate men represented
    in the previous volume, have done their work so well, that
    the student is likely in the end to have a rather better idea
    of the writers than he would gather from his unaided study of
    the original and complete works of these old writers.”—_Boston




_Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and English Philology in Cornell

Second Edition, Revised. 12mo. pp. 415. Cloth.

Price $1.25, net.

    “A work that, as a treatise for the instruction of the
    individual student as well as for class-room use, is to be
    warmly commended.... On every page of this admirably arranged
    volume is shown the fruit of original thought, profound
    erudition, and philosophical grasp of a subject which has been
    too often obscured by injudicious counsel.”—_The Beacon._

    “An admirable work; the best results of recent research are
    embodied in it.”—_Providence Journal._

    “The work is a valuable contribution to linguistic science, and
    it will be a welcome text-book in colleges and schools and to
    all students of philology.”—_Home Journal._

    “In respect both of scholarship and of exposition, this volume
    is entitled to high praise.... There is no part of this book
    that cannot be read with pleasure as well as profit, and one
    is therefore embarrassed by the wealth of material worthy of
    illustration.”—_New York Sun._


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