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without impropriety omit particulars that would naturally present themselves to everybody's mind, unless we can enhance their worth by new considerations. To dwell on hackneyed and trivial ideas is to cast an imputation on the intelligence of the reader.
My letter I see has rùn to its accustomed length, so I will reserve for the next what I have to say on the necessity of avoiding common-place remarks.
I am, my dear boy, yours, &c.
QUESTIONS ON LETTER VI.--SERIES I. 1. In undertaking to proffer advice to George, why
ought his friend John to have been most guarded in the choice both of the motives arged and the
manner of enforcing them ? 2. Show what different results two different kinds of
letters may be attended with ? 8. What plan should be adopted before proceeding to
enlarge on any single idea ? Ans. A sketch of the ideas suggested by the subject should be written
out. 4. Which of these ideas should be rejected ? 5. Illustrate from Letter VI. what is meant by a feeble
idea. 6. Is it necessary to say all that can be said on a subject?
EXERCISE, Arrange in the order of importance the following ideas suggested by the question, Why should children be early taught to obey their parents ?' commencing with the least important :
1. Because God, the Maker of both parent and child, has expressly commanded this duty.
2. Because obedience to parents forms the nucleus round which, in after years, all the other virtues may be grouped.
8. Because the interest of the state requires good citizens; who cannot, as a rule, be formed from disobe. dient children.
4. Because obedience to human authority, not paren. tal, will be more easily practised when a child has been accustomed to respect the authority of his parents.
5. Because the happiness of the individual himself is by obedience to parents greatly increased, no child being more wretched than one living in the conscious neglect of this duty.
6. Because the happiness of the child's friends and companions depends almost entirely on the inculcation of this duty, no greater social pest existing than a spoiled child.
7. Because home, which ought to be the centre of all order, comfort and joy, is by an unruly child often turned into a place of unseemly strife and confusion.
8. Because a child being an immortal creature, and the influence of his evil actions extending to even beyond the grave, his eternal happiness is imperilled by an habitual neglect of this commandment.
9. Because the contagion of evil example is such, that one unruly child may be the means of corrupting the children he comes in contact with.
10. Because no confidence can be placed in a child so depraved as to despise this duty; for if he respects not the claim his parents have on his obedience, the probability is he will not respect claims that are less binding.
I will now devote a few lines to the subject of Common-place Expressions; and by these I mean those trite and hackneyed remarks that ever one is acquainted
with, and which for that reason afford pleasure to none. For example, instead of saying, Spring has returned, or, It was early in the spring,' some speak of the • Zephyr's warm breath, of the warbling of the birds, of the budding flowers, of the melting ice, of the new robe of the earth, of the meadows, of the groves, of the brooks,' &c.; things that may be much better expressed, from the fact of there being formulas for them ready made, and made too by experienced hands. There was a time when they pleased, but they are now become quite disagreeable. Every subject, when well examined, presents its common-place, and it is precisely this commonplace that must be avoided. Yet as there is no rule without exception, so even these are occasionally admissible; when, for instance, the writer is skilful enough so to incorporate them with his subject as that they appear, not to be joined to it with a view to effect, but to spring naturally from it. Thus, to continue our example, these common-places relative to spring, so wearisome and insupportable, will lose much of their triteness when attributed to an invalid that has been confined to his chamber during the winter, and is able at length to leave it and enjoy the first days of spring. In this case, we shall have no longer a vague and worn out description ; and why ?-because it is not exactly spring that we are describing, but the pleasurable sensations of one that is enjoying its beauties in an exceptional and perhaps unhoped for manner. In the example given above, the description was of a general character; here it assumes one that is personal. What can we find more hackneyed and common-place than the description of a tempest ? And yet when in the midst of this tempest we introduce a person we are interested in, when with the great con. vulsions of nature we mingle the emotions of a person witnessing them, and who may perhaps in a moment become their victim, then the description will excite & powerful interest. The only way to make common places at all serviceable is to give them a particular application, although in that case the term ceases to be strictly cor. rect, as there is then no longer anything common-place about it.
I think enough has been said on this subject for you thoroughly to comprehend it, so I will conclude my letter by hoping that you will be simple and natural in your descriptions.
I am, my dear boy, &c.
QUESTIONS ON LETTER VII.
1. What is the subject of this letter ? 2. What do you mean by common-place expressions ? 8. Illustrate your meaning from this letter. 4. Are these common-place expressions always objec.
tionable ? 5. When are they are not so ? 6. When do such expressions cease in a measure to be
Write a description of any pic-nic you may have shared in, avoiding common-place expressions.
ON THE ORDER OF IDEAS. My dear Boy,
Having now spoken of the finding of ideas, and the choice of ideas, the next subject I wish to direct your attention to is, the Order of Ideas; for nothing is more conducive to clearness in composition than attention to this very essential point. Ideas that may appear forci. ble, new, and striking, when conceived separately, lose
in a great measure all these qualities when presented with no regard to their natural sequence. They then obscure instead of enlighten the mind, and of course lose all their effect. You will avoid this inconvenience by, taking care to unite and present in succession all the ideas of a kindred nature, and those that may be linked together naturally without effort. One class of ideas should be completely exhausted before passing to new ones. By so doing, you will enable the reader to classify with facility the considerations brought before him, or the facts you wish him to become acquainted with ; and the fewer mental efforts he has to make, the more will he be disposed to be instructed or convinced. Whilst thus treating in a separate and independent manner each series of ideas, care must be taken to reserve till last the strongest idea ; the weakest being presented at the head of the series. Certain ideas that, when isolated from others, have scarcely any weight, when grouped together share in the general impression produced. The method I am now recommending is always good, but it is especially so when persuasion is the object aimed at; the mind is thus prepared by degrees for what we wish to obtain ; then, when it is already hesitating, those decisive considerations that have been kept in reserve are brought to bear, and the persuasion is accomplished. If, on the other hand, the most powerful considerations were presented at the outset, all succeeding ones would only weaken their force, and would naturally efface from the mind whatever impression might have originally been produced.
Each series of ideas being thus arranged, it remains to re-assemble the whole series, in doing which the same gradation should as much as possible be established between them as has been recommended for the ideas
of each group:
And now, my dear boy, to test your discrimination, I shall give you a simple exercise or two on the arrange