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FROM A SON TO HIS FATHER.
My dear Father,
I daresay you remember that when I was leaving home for school, you desired me to write to you on any subject that occasioned me more than ordinary difficulty, and encouraged me by saying you would endeavour to help me. As I appear to give satisfaction to my master in all my lessons except English Composition, I am naturally anxious to please him in that too; but hardly know how to set about the attempt, for the instructions we receive at our composition lesson, which comes but seldom, being given by word of mouth often escape my memory, so that I appear to want something more definite.
Will you be kind enough, my dear Father, to assist me in this matter; for having the Oxford Local Examinations staring me in the face, I am rather nervous on the point, especially as I am told many boys have been plucked in composition that would else have obtained their certificate.
With best love to mother and all dear friends at home, I am, my dear Father,
Your affectionate Son.
THE FATHER'S ANSWER. My dear Boy,
Your letter of yesterday has given me so much pleasure that I hasten to say by return of post, that I have not the least fear of being able to put you in the way of ultimately pleasing your master in your English Compositions as well as you appear to be doing in your other exercises. It was my good fortune to be instructed in this subject by a teacher that understood and loved his own language, and as boys had not then so many studies to divide their attention as the youth of the present generation have, I was able to give considerable time and attention to it. The result I place, my dear boy, at your service, and shall feel amply repaid for the labour it may have cost me to attain what information I possess, if it tend to facilitate your progress in the acquisition of what to an English boy is the most valuable of all acquirements—the capability of speaking and writing his mother tongue with ease and elegance.
And before entering on the subject I will here just remark, that by commencing the study as you evidently do, with a desire to excel, you have an immense vantage ground over any boy starting in the race with you that feels listless and uninterested in the matter.
To ensure success in an undertaking we must enter into it thoroughly, and with our whole heart and soul; for then the obstacles we meet with, so far from being insurmountable, serve rather as incentives to redouble our efforts, and become positively the very means of
But I must not make my first letter too long, or I shall diminish the pleasure you will feel in looking forward to the postman's knock.
Your mother sends her best love, and desires me to say, how greatly you add to her happiness by your studious habits.
I am, my dear Boy, your affectionate Father.
ON THE FINDING OF IDEAS
My dear Boy,
We are now to enter together on the study of English Composition, and as you have already made some progress in Latin, I need hardly tell you that the word Composition signifies a 'putting together;'—the materials to be put together are ideas, and the first advice I shall offer to you, although apparently trifling, is nevertheless of the highest importance; namely, to reflect well, i.e., to search for ideas before attempting to write on any subject whatever. You remember when you were building your rabbit hutch in the holidays, how quickly it was completed when all the materials were collected; and so, my dear boy, you will find it with your composition. The subject you have to write on must be attentively examined ; you must regard it in all its bearings, and force it to yield all the ideas it is capable of suggesting. And once that you have taken possession of your subject, that you are alive to the