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ieelings the situation admits of, that you have, so to speak, identified yourself with your characters, it is almost impossible for you to be short of ideas. They will spring up abundantly even in a somewhat barren imagination. Many young people set about treating a subject before having reflected upon it; they regard as lost the time employed in meditation, and seizing upon the idea that at the very outset presents itself, they proceed to work it out without troubling themselves about what is to come afterwards, for which they trust, as they say, to inspiration. But inspiration is never safer than when it springs from reflection ; and ideas are never more abundant and rapid than when we are completely master of our subject. To give one's self up to the fancy of the moment is to risk either stopping short in the middle of one's work, or giving to one part of it a fulness out of all proportion to the rest ; like a giant's head on a dwarf's body.
I would have you well consider that the source of ideas lies not in imagination alone, but in memory also from knowledge acquired. Imagination in itself is somewhat limited in range, but study and reading can develope it indefinitely; the more we learn the more rich and fertile it becomes, and the more it is exercised the more vigorous it grows.
I will append to this letter a few subjects that I should like you to reflect upon, and wish you in your next letter to indicate by a sketch or scheme in outline, how you would set about writing a composition on them; and to assist you still further, I will give you a simple example. Suppose that your master required the class to take a tree for the subject of your next exercise ; you should consider that a tree belongs to the vegetable kingdom; that it is stationary, held firmly in the ground by means of its roots; that it has a woody stem, on whose top grows its head or crown, composed of boughs and branches, on which are twigs, leaves, flowers, and
fruit. I shall leave you to work out the rest, and with much love, I am, my dear boy,
Your affectionate Father.
QUESTIONS ON LETTER I.-SERIES I. 1. What is the literal meaning of the word "composition ?' 2. What are the materials we have to deal with in
writing? 3. What is the first thing to be done before commencing
to write ? 4. Give an illustration from the necessity of collecting
materials before beginning to construct. 5. State the reason why many young people fail in their
compositions. 6. How should you set about treating a composition, having the subject “a tree' given you to write on?
EXERCISES. 1. Write to a friend a letter giving a description of a 'quill pen' or the English Oak.
2. Write to a friend in Australia a letter describing your native town or village, touching on the following points ;—the county wherein it is situated; the character of the surrounding scenery; the stream that drains the district; the nature of the soil ; the population; the chief occupation of the inhabitants, whether manufacturing or agricultural; the places of worship; the public buildings; places of amusement, &c.
LETTER II.-SERIES I. My dear Boy,
Practice makes perfect, so I shall dwell a little on the importance of your forcing from a subject all the ideas it may suggest, before commencing to write apon it.
The simple object & ' quill pen' is capable of affording much more material for thought, and consequently for composition, than you appear to imagine, and I think it will be useful to you for me to prove this. Commence then, after defining it, by considering (1) of what it consists, i.e., think of its various parts; (2) describe the nature of these parts ; (3) the origin of the quill; (4) its species and usefulness ; (5) consider the changes it undergoes and the qualities it thus acquires. These various ideas will certainly not flow into your head, as I have already remarked, from a mere effort of the imagination ; you must have acquired previous knowledge on the subject; but having acquired the knowledge, such an exercise as this is useful in enabling you to classify the various items of information you possess, and thus to produce a readable composition. The following would be somewhat of the shape your exercise on a quill pen' would have assumed, had you followed the plan I here recommend.
DESCRIPTION OF A QUILL PEN. (The figures refer to the divisions adopted above.) A Quill pen is an instrument used for writing, (1) and consists of three parts, viz., the quill or barrel, the stem and the beard. (2) The quill itself is in the form of a cylinder, and hollow; it varies in degrees of hardness, and is generally transparent. The stem is firm, fourcornered and filled with a white pith. The beard consists of many fine feathery fibres. The pen when made has a nib, slit, and cradle. (3) Quills are usually obtained from geese, though feathers from the wings of ravens, peacocks, turkeys, and storks, can also be used for writing ; but goose quills are the best. When mature they fall from the bird in May and June. Those plucked from the goose are inferior to those that fall off themselves, for not being quite matured they are too soft.
Each wing of the goose contains five quills fit for use. (4) The pens made from the left wing lie in the hand more conveniently than those of the right. (5) Quills are rendered brittle by being baked in an oven, when thus hardened they are either clear and transparent, or opaque. Quills must be cut before they can be used.
You must regard this exercise on a quill pen' as a sort of model on which to frame similar exercises; and that you may not be at a loss for subjects, I append to this letter a list from which you may choose such as you have some ideas about.
I am, &c.
QUESTIONS ON LETTER II.-SERIES I.
1. Having to write on a quill pen,' state how you
should proceed to do so. 2. Is a bare effort of the imagination capable of enabling
you to do this?
3. What is the use of such an exercise as this? 4. In what light are you to regard the description of a •quill pen ?
1. Write your little brother a description of your pocket knife."
2. Give a general description of the articles used in playing a game of cricket. (This if properly done will be sufficient for three or four exercises.)
3. Give a particular description of a cricket bat.'
LETTER III. ON THE CLASSIFICATION OF IDEAS. My dear Boy,
The exercises accompanying your last letter please me much, as they evidently flow from a thoughtful mind. You appear to imagine that I overstated the matter when I implied that after due reflection on any subject, you would as it were be inundated with ideas. It is not by any means, I assure you, an overstatement of the case ; your remark merely corroborates one that I made in my last letter, viz., that imagination alone is a poor bank to draw upon, almost always failing at the crisis when most needed, and requiring its coffers to be con. tinually replenished with a constant supply from without. My object in this letter shall be to prove to you, that your duty at the outset of a work is not merely the