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LETTER V.

ON THE USE OF IDEAS APPROPRIATE TO

THE END DESIRED. My dear Boy,

I must say the specimen of composition you sent the other day was quite sufficient to convince me that it is not without reason your excellent master is dissatisfied with your style. However, do not be discouraged, but endeavour to see what is faulty, and amend it. I will point out the most striking violations of propriety, and then will write the young gentleman a letter myself, that you may see how necessary it is to pay attention to the proper selection and arrangement of your ideas. The object your letter evidently has in view is to persuade by an appeal to the feelings ; you must at once see how inappropriate to such an end is the employment of ridicule ; and yet this is what you resort to when you make use of the term simpleton. Now let us see which of your friend's feelings you appeal to, and how your ideas are arranged as regards their relative importance. Taking the letter as it stands, I find the following are the means used to dissuade him from taking a foolish and perhaps fatal step.

First, as I have just said, (1) ridicule; then (2) an appeal to his sense of filial duty; afterwards (3) to his self-esteem, when you endeavour to make him believe that you could not do so mean an action ; (4) then to his love of money; afterwards (5) to what should be the most powerful motive of all, his duty to God; (6) then to his filial affection; (7) to his love of pleasure; (8) to his social feelings; and finally (9) to his sense of fear and personal comfort. We find, then, that the subject I proposed you should write on, suggested to your mind nine ideas; if you had arranged them on a slip of paper as they at first struck your mind, and afterwards had classified them, you would, I think, have found the order of their relative importance to be the following: No. 5, 2, 6, 8, 8, 9, 7, 4, 1; of these, I think the last three should have been rejected; No. 9 is common and almost unworthy to be employed ; No. 3 is perhaps more likely to excite a feeling against the writer than in favour of him; and so we have four remaining reasons why your friend should not take the contemplated step, any one of which, if properly urged, would, I think, prove strong enough to produce the desired effect on an ingenuous and right-minded youth.

In conclusion I must also remark that the opening paragraph of your letter was exceedingly abrupt, and the closing sentence scarcely less so. And now for my own letter on the subject. Adieu, my dear boy.

Pray accept the best love of your affectionate Father.

The Father's Letter.

My dear George,

As your old schoolfellow and older companion, I feel sure you will forgive me for addressing you on a subject that has for some hours caused me much uneasiness. Our common friend Tom Jones informed me only this morning that you have serious thoughts of running away from home and going to sea. At first I was inclined to treat the matter as a joke, but he assured me so positively such was the case, that I seize the first spare moment to tell you

how very grieved I am to think you could for an instant entertain such an idea. The reasons why you should not take this rash step are 80 many that I hardly know which to urge first ; to say nothing of the injustice you would be guilty of towards your master, of the sorrow you would occasion all your intimate friends, and more especially your brothers and sisters, let me entreat you to reflect for a moment on the overwhelming grief you would plunge your kind, good

parents into, who I am sure would do anything in their power to save you one unnecessary pang. I do not like to be harsh, but I cannot help saying that I firmly believe the sense of your ingratitude to them would haunt you to the day of your death. Besides, my dear fellow, how could you kneel down night and morning to say your prayers, when you must know that every day of absence from your parents would be practically a breach of the fifth commandment. I am sorry not to be able to advocate in an abler manner the claims your parents have on you, but knowing as I do your great good sense and kindness of heart, I feel sure I have said enough to convince

you

that you must banish this foolish thought. If there are disagreeables in the profession your father has chosen for you, be candid with him and tell him so. If he can, I am sure he will have them removed ; and if there is no remedy for them but patience and perseverance, why then, old fellow, bear them like a man.

I shall quite look for a line from you in the morning telling me all is right. I am dear George,

Yours affectionately.

QUESTIONS ON LETTER V.

1. What was the end proposed in the letter from John

to his friend George ? 2. What breach of propriety did he make at the outset ? 3. Enumerate the means the writer used to gain his end. 4. Write them down in the order of their relative im.

portance. 5. Which of these ideas should be rejected ? 6. What have you to remark on the opening paragraph

of the letter in question ? 7. What motives are appealed to by the writer of the

amended letter ?

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EXERCISE.

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Your father has placed you in a situation you do not like, and is very desirous that you should remain there; you are equally desirous to leave it: write and endeavour to persuade him to accede to your request.

At the head of the letter write the motives you urging to obtain your desired end.

LETTER VI.

ON FORCIBLE AND FEEBLE IDEAS. My dear Boy,

I am glad you think my letter an improvement on your own, and hope some day to see you write fluently and to the purpose ; meanwhile remember for your en. couragement that when I was your age I could write ro better than you can now.

Before proceeding with my instructions, I wish you to weigh well the vast importance of the duty you were undertaking when voluntarily proffering your advice to your friend ; for it was within the range of possibility that his whole future career should be shaped by a few strokes from your pen; on them also might depend the comfort of his master, the happiness of his brothers and sisters, and not the happiness alone but perchance the very life of liis aged parents. To illustrate this I will suppose he returns the following answers respectively to the two letters.

Answer to Letter No. 1. Dear John,

In answer to your letter received to-day, I beg to say I am no more a simpleton than you are ; regards the advice contained in it, I think I am quite as capable as yourself of judging what is best for me to do. When you next hear of me, I shall have released myself from the trammels of office life. Wishing you and all old friends good-bye,

and as

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I am, dear John, yours, &c.

Answer to Letter No. 2.

senses.

My dear John,

Very many thanks for your very kind and most convincing letter; it has quite brought me back to my

By this act of friendship, dear John, you have saved what is now a happy family from indescribable misery, have brought peace back to my troubled breast, and rescued me from a step that I now see would, in all human probability, have driven me to despair, and have resulted in my ruin here and hereafter I am, my dear John, Ever

your most attached and grateful friend.

(Continuation of Father's Letter.) No further remarks of mine are, I think, needed to prove to you that a well conceived and well expressed letter may often be the means of bringing about the most happy results. And now, to resume the subject of our lessons, viz., the Choice of Ideas. Having made a sketch of the various ideas first suggested by the subject, those that are feeble should evidently be rejected; for an idea of this class, if placed after a forcible one, has not only no weight of itself, but actually robs the stronger of its force, and thus weakens the impression it was calculated to make. For instance, do you think that by reminding, your friend of his pocket money immediately after having advanced the claims of his parents on his gratitude, you were more likely to gain your end ? Neither is it necessary to say all that can be said on a subject; we may

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