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Full text of "The writing of English"











OUR primary purpose in this book is to awaken in the 
student the desire for self-expression through the written 
and spoken word. Without this desire all teaching is futile; 
and with it learning is inevitable. With the student in an 
attitude of confidence in the worth of his own thinking and 
of eagerness to learn the methods by which it can be con- 
veyed to others in words, the problem of teaching the use 
of English reduces to the balancing of constructive practice 
over against the corrective drill necessary to eradicate the 
bad habits due to foreign birth, defective training, or in- 

The methods here presented have grown out of experiment 
at the University of Chicago with sections of freshmen who, 
being below the standard for entrance, were required to take 
additional training before they could be admitted to the 
regular freshman course in English. By the kind of practice 
and study developed in this book the following results were 
obtained with a hundred students : 

1. Approximately one-third were brought up to the fresh- 
man standard. 

2. Approximately one- third were permitted to take a 
supplementary half-course and given credit for freshman 

3. Approximately one-third were given freshman credit 
without delay or further training. 

In brief, two-thirds of the class accomplished what had 
before been done by a very small percentage. 

This improvement in results was due not merely to the 
student's changed attitude toward writing but also to his 


acquired sense of responsibility in the corrective drill work. 
He was shown how errors in form can be eliminated; and if, 
after fair trial, he did not begin to take an active part in his 
own salvation in this respect, his work was ruthlessly rejected 
on this basis alone. With such an understanding, most of 
the papers soon showed a steady and rapid gain in the use 
of English; and with the freeing of energy from the con- 
tinual consideration of mechanics, a decided improvement 
in the thought expressed and in the technique of expression. 
To see the stirring of interesting and original lines of thought 
in students supposedly dull or indifferent was no less gratify- 
ing than to read almost faultless English written by Russians, 
Poles, Lithuanians, Chinese, Japanese, and young people 
of many other nationalities, whose work in the beginning 
was almost unintelligible. 

Of the many unorthodox features in the treatment of va- 
rious subjects it is perhaps unnecessary to speak: they should 
be their own warrant. One point only in the general struc- 
ture of the book does not at once appear, and needs a word 
of explanation. Remembering that the term "freshman" 
does not connote a fixed standard of attainment, we have 
tried to plan the work outlined so that it can be adapted to 
the needs of students in various stages of proficiency. By 
the average student the Appendix should be used only for 
reference during the writing and correcting of papers; but 
by the poor student it should be made the subject of con- 
tinual study and drill outside the classroom, with emphasis 
placed according to individual needs. It can be used to 
advantage by several students working together. In the 
constructive part of the book more exercises have been pro- 
vided than any class could do; but these are purposely of 
many types to meet the experience and powers of different 
students. Again, by classes that need to spend much time 
on the preliminary and outside drill work whole chapters in 
Part III may be omitted or relegated to the sophomore year 


without in any way interfering with the integrity of the 
course. It is hoped that this flexibility of plan may be 
accounted among the merits of the book. 

To the teacher overburdened with dead weight of daily 
themes we hope that our methods may be of special use. 
We try continually to suggest ways in which by stimulating 
the student to take a more active part in the cooperative 
work of education the teacher's energies may be conserved 
for that constructive criticism in which the finest elements 
of personality are indispensable. 

To Dr. Charles Manly and Mrs. Hellen Manly Patrick are 
due thanks for invaluable assistance in the reading of manu- 
script and proof, and in the preparation of the Index. 

J. M. M. 
E. R. 

WASHINGTON, January 27, 1919. 



Chapter Page 









1. Predication 53 

2. Organization 57 

3. Modification 64 

4. Punctuation 67 

5. Compound Elements 72 

6. The Compound Sentence 76 

7. The Complex Sentence 82 

8. Phrases 90 

9. Compactness 96 

10. Clearness 100 

11. Euphony and Rhythm 107 

12. Sentence Building 112 


1. External Organization 118 

2. Length 121 

3. Internal Organization 123 

4. Structural Devices 132 



1. Limitation of Material 142 

2. Scale of Treatment. . . . 147 


Chapter Page 

3. Narrative Devices 151 

4. Plot 153 


1. Sense Appeal 159 

2. Choice of Details 166 

3. Point of View 170 

4. General Impression 174 

5. Plan 182 

6. Combined with Narration 185 


1. Methods 189 

2. Definition 194 

3. Division 198 

4. Exemplification 202 

5. Paraphrase and Amplification 204 

6. Generalized Description and Narration 206 

7. Cause and Effect 208 

8. Character Drawing 213 


1. Evidence 222 

2. Authority 226 

3. Inductive Reasoning 233 

4. Deductive Reasoning 237 

5. Inductive and Deductive Reasoning 241 

6. Analogy 243 

7. Persuasion 246 

8. Preparing a Formal Argument 249 







1. News 282 

2. General Principles : 285 

3. News Stories 288 

4. Feature Stories 289 

5. "Human Interest" Stories. . . . . 292 


Chapter Page 

6. "Rewrite" and "Follow-up" Stories 296 

7. The Sunday Edition 298 

8. Editorials 299 


1. Characteristics and Sources 303 

2. Development 305 

3. Point of View 314 

4. Characters 316 

5. Setting 320 

6. Dialogue 322 

7. Title 325 

8. General Exercises in the Short Story 326 



1. Plan 835 

2. The Informative Article 340 

3. The Informal Essay 350 

4. The Nature Study 351 

5. Studies in Human Nature 354 

6. The Biographical Study, 1 357 

7. The Biographical Study, II 359 

8. The Biographical Study, III 362 

9. The Propaganda Paper or Speech 365 




1. Personal Letters 386 

2. Routine Business Letters 390 

3. Official and Form Letters 393 

4. Constructive Business Letters 394 


1. Meter 398 

- 2. The Ballad 403 

3. Common Stanza Forms 407 

4. The Sonnet. . . . . 408 



Rules for Manuscript 413 

Rules for Personal Letters ... . . 415 


Appendix Page 

Formal Letters 417 

Rules for Business Letters 418 

Penmanship 419 


Library Notes 420 

Class Notes 422 


Capitals 424 

Italics 428 


General Rules 431 

Exercises in Spelling 434 

The Hyphen ' 439 

Spelling-out and Abbreviation 442 



Period 446 

Question Mark 446 

Exclamation Mark 447 

Colon 447 

Semicolon 448 

Comma 448 

Common Abuses of the Comma 451 

Dash 452 

Ellipses 453 

Quotation Marks 453 

Marks of Parenthesis 454 

Brackets 455 


Questions 455 

Troublesome Verbs 457 

Summary of the Rules for Shall and Will 458 








GEORGE GISZE [Holbein] 218 







Do you like to write ? Probably not. What have you tried 
to write? Probably "themes." 

The "theme" is a literary form invented by teachers of 
rhetoric for the education of students in the art of writing. 
It does not exist outside the world of school and college. No 
editor ever accepted a "theme." No "theme" was ever de- 
livered from a rostrum, or spoken at a dinner, or bound be- 
tween the covers of a book in the hope that it might live for 
centuries. In a word, a "theme" is first and last a product 
of "composition" a laborious putting together of ideas, 
without audience and without purpose, hated alike by student 
and by instructor. Its sole use is to exemplify the principles 
of rhetoric. But rhetoric belongs to the past as much as the 
toga and the snuffbox; it is an extinct art, the art of culti- 
vating style according to the mannerisms of a vanished age. 

Forget that you ever wrote a "theme," and ask yourself 
now : "Should I like to write? " Of course you would if you 
could. And you can. You have had, and you will have, 
some experiences that will not be repeated exactly in any 
other life that no one else can express exactly as you would 
express them. And the art of expressing what you have ex- 
perienced, what you think, what you feel, and what you 
believe, can be learned. 

If you stop to consider the matter, you will realize that 
self-expression is one of the laws of life; you do express 
yourself day after day, whether you will or not. Hence, 
the more quickly you learn that successful self-expression is 
the source of one of the greatest pleasures in life, the more 


readily will you be able to turn your energy in the right direc- 
tion, and the more fun will you get out of the process. The 
kind of delight that comes through self-expression of the 
body, through the play of the muscles in running or hurdling, 
through the play of muscles and mind together in football 
or baseball or tennis or golf, comes also through the exercise 
of the mind alone in talk or in writing. 

Remember always throughout this course, that you have 
something to say something peculiar to yourself that should 
be contributed to the sum of the world's experience, some- 
thing that cannot be contributed by anyone but yourself. 
It may be much or it may be little: with that you are not con- 
cerned at present; your business now is to find out how to 
say it; how to clear away the obstacles that clog self-expres- 
sion; how to give your mind free swing; and how to get all 
the fun there is in the process. 

The initial problems in learning to write are: How can you 
get at this store of material hidden within you? and how can 
you know when you have found it? Your experience, how- 
ever interesting, is as yet very limited. How can you tell 
which phases of it deserve expression, and which are mere 
commonplace? The quickest way to answer this question 
is by reading. Reading will tell you which phases of expe- 
rience have been commonly treated and which have been 
neglected. Moreover, as you read you will be surprised to 
find that very often the features of your life which seem to 
you peculiarly interesting are exactly those that are com- 
monly and even cheaply written about, while those which 
you have passed over as not worth attention may be aspects 
of life that other people too have passed over; they may there- 
fore be fresh and well worth writing about. For instance, 
within the last twenty-five years we have had two writers, 
Joseph Conrad and John Masefield, writing of the sea as it 
has never been written of before. Both have been sailors; and 
both have utilized their experience as viewed through the 


medium of their temperaments in a way undreamed of be- 
fore. Again, within the last ten years we have had Algernon 
Blackwood, using his imagination to apply psychology to the 
study of the supernatural, and so developing a field peculiar 
to himself. Still again, H. G. Wells, who began his career 
as a clerk and continued as a teacher of science, has found 
in both these phases of his experience a mine of literary 
wealth; and Arnold Bennett, born and educated in the drear- 
iest, most unpicturesque, apparently least inspiring, part of 
England, has seen in the very prosiness of the Five Towns 
untouched material, and has given this an enduring place in 
literature. In your imagination there may lie the basis of 
fantasies as yet unexpressed; or in your experience, aspects 
of life that have not as yet been adequately treated. As you 
read you will find that until recently the one phase of life 
most exploited in literature was the romantic love of youth; 
this was the basis of nearly all novels and of most short 
stories; its presence was demanded for either primary or 
secondary interest in the drama; and it was the chief source 
of inspiration for the lyric. But within the last thirty years 
all sorts of other subjects have been opened up. To-day the 
writer's difficulty is, not that he is restricted by literary con- 
vention in his choice of material, but that he is so absolutely 
unrestricted that he may be in doubt where to make his 
choice. He is, to be sure, conditioned in two ways : To do the 
best work, he must keep within the bounds of his own tem- 
perament and experience; and he should as far as possible 
avoid phases of life already written about, unless he can 
present them under some new aspect. 

With these conditions in mind, you are ready to ask your- 
self: What have I to write about? Let us put the question 
more concretely: Have you lived, for instance, in a little 
mining town in the West? Such a little town, with its saloons 
and automatics and flannel-shirted hero, stares at us every 
month from the pages of popular magazines. But perhaps 


your little mining town is dry, perhaps there has not been a 
shooting fray hi it for ten years, and all the young men go 
to Bible class on Sunday. Well, here is something new: let 
us have it. Is New York your home? The magazines tell you 
that New York is parceled out among a score of writers: 
the Italian quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Syrian quarter, 
the boarding-houses, Wall Street. What is there left? The 
suburbs? Surely not; and yet have you ever seen a story of 
just your kind of street and just the kind of people that 
you know? If not, here is your opportunity. 

You have read about sailors, fishermen, farmers, de- 
tectives, Italian fruit-peddlers, Jewish clothes-merchants, 
commercial travelers, financiers, salesmen and saleswomen, 
doctors, clergymen, heiresses and men about town, but 
have you often read a thrilling romance of a filing clerk? 
How about the heroism of a telephone collector? the humors 
of a street-car conductor? The seeing eye will find material 
in the street car, in the department store, in the dentist's 
waiting room, in college halls, on a lonely country road 
anywhere and everywhere. And the seeing eye is cultivated 
by a perpetual process of comparing life as it is with life as 
it is portrayed in literature and in art. In other words, to 
get material to write about, you must cultivate alertness to 
the nature and value of your own life-experience, and to the 
nature and value of all forms of life with which you come into 
contact; but this you can never do with any degree of success 
unless you at the same time learn how to read. 

You may say that you know how to read. It is almost 
certain that you do not. If by reading you mean that you 
can run your eye over a page, and, barring a word here and 
there, get the general drift of the sense, you may perhaps 
qualify as able to read. If you are set the task of interpreting 
fully every phrase in an article by a thoughtful writer, the 
chances are that you will fail. When only a small part of 
a writer's meaning has passed from his mind to yours, you 


can hardly be said to have read what he has written. On 
the other hand, no one can get out of written words all that 
was put into them. What was written out of one man's expe- 
rience must be interpreted by another's experience; and as 
no two people ever have exactly the same experience no two 
people are exactly alike it follows that no interpreta- 
tion is ever entirely what the writer had in mind. The ratio 
between what goes into a book and what comes out of it 
varies in two ways. Granted the same reader, he will take 
only to the limit of his capacity from any book set before 
him: he may get almost all from a book that contains but 
little, a good share of a book that contains much, but very 
little of a book that is far beyond the range of his experience. 
Granted the same book, one reader will barely skim its sur- 
face, another will gain a fair idea of the gist of it, a third will 
almost relive it with the author. 

The main point is that this varying ratio depends upon the 
amount of life-experience that goes into the writing of a book 
and the amount of life-experience that goes into the reading 
of it. For as writing is the expression of life, so reading is 
vicarious living living by proxy, reliving in imagination 
what the author has lived before he was able to write ft. 
Hence, we grow up to books, grow into them, and grow out 
of them. Our growing experience of life may be measured by 
the books that we read; and conversely, as we cannot have 
all experience in our own lives, books are necessarily one of 
the most fruitful sources of growth in experience. 

This is true, however, only of what may be called vitalized 
reading reading, not with the eyes alone, nor with the mind 
alone, but with the stored experiences of life, with the emo- 
tions that it has brought, with the attitudes toward men and 
things and ideas that it has given in a word, with imagina- 
tion. To read with imagination, you must be, in the first 
place, active; in the second place, sensitive, and, because you 
are sensitive, receptive. Instead, however, of being merely 


passively receptive of the stream of ideas and images and 
sensations flowing from the work you are reading, you must 
be alert to take all that it has to give, and to re-create this 
in terms of your own experience. Thus by making it a part 
of your imaginative experience, you widen your actual expe- 
rience, you enrich your life, and you increase the flexibility 
and vital power of your mind. 

In order, then, to tap the sources of your imagination, you 
must learn to experience in two ways: first, through life it- 
self, not so much by seeking experiences different from those 
that naturally come your way, as by becoming aware of 
the value of those that belong naturally to your life; and 
second, through learning to absorb and transmute the life 
that is in books, beginning with those that stand nearest 
to your stage of development. In the process of reading 
you will turn more and more to those writers who have a 
larger mastery of life, and who, by their skill in expressing the 
wisdom and beauty that they have made their own, can ad- 
mit you, when you are ready, to some share in that mastery. 


1. Read slowly the following extract from G. H. Palmer's Self- 
cultivation in English: 

"But the very fact that literary endowment is immediately 
recognized and eagerly envied has induced a strange illusion in 
regard to it. It is supposed to be something mysterious, innate 
in him who possesses it, and quite out of the reach of him who has 
it not. The very contrary is the fact. No human employment 
is more free and calculable than the winning of language. Un- 
doubtedly there are natural aptitudes for it, as there are for farm- 
ing, seamanship, or being a good husband. But nowhere is straight 
work more effective. Persistence, care, discriminating observation, 
ingenuity, refusal to lose heart, traits which in every other occu- 
pation tend toward excellence, tend toward it here with special 

Does Mr. Palmer mean that anyone can learn to write well? 

Read the quotation again, and see whether you got the full mean- 


ing. What escaped you? Now make a complete statement of Mr. 
Palmer's idea, in one sentence if possible. 

Is the expression of this idea commonplace or not? Which words, 
phrases, or sentences, attracted your attention as being in some 
way unusual? Suggest if you can a commonplace substitute for 
each, and show the difference in meaning or in effect of the expres- 
sion used. 

Interpret such of the following expressions as you have not al- 
ready discussed: induced; innate; who has it not; very contrary; free 
and calculable; winning of language; straight work; refusal to lose 
heart; tend toivard excellence; special security. 

This passage is charged with meanings, chiefly because it says 
much in small space; therefore in a casual and careless reading 
many of them are lost. In order to "read" the passage so that you 
absorb its meaning in large part, you must get the flavor of meaning 
of each word as it comes, and of each group of words. To do this, 
you must take time enough for the play of the mind; you must be 
at once sensitive to each new impression in turn, and at the same 
time alert to dominate the whole with your own mental activity. 

2. Read the following extract from C. W. Eliot's The Cultivated 

"When we ask ourselves why a knowledge of literature seems 
indispensable to the ordinary idea of cultivation, we find no answer 
except this, that in literature are portrayed all human passions, 
desires, and aspirations, and that acquaintance with these human 
feelings, and with the means of portraying them, seems to us es- 
sential to culture. These human qualities and powers are also the 
commonest ground of interesting human discourse, and therefore 
literary knowledge exalts the quality and enhances the enjoyment 
of human intercourse. It is in conversation that cultivation tells 
as much as anywhere, and this rapid exchange of thoughts is by 
far the commonest manifestation of its power. Combine the 
knowledge of literature with knowledge of the 'stream of the world,' 
and you have united two large sources of the influence of the cul- 
tivated person." 

What is the point of this extract? Do you agree with it? De- 
fend your position. What is the stream of ihe world? How is it best 
learned? What is the effect of familiarity with it upon personality? 
upon power of expression in speech, or in writing? 

Discuss the relationship of knowledge science, history, or 
technical knowledge to culture; to success in writing. 


3. Read the following extract from Kipling; and illustrate from 
your reading of modern books and magazines: (1) the first two 
sentences; (2) the first clause of the third sentence; (3) the second 
clause of the third sentence. 

Which of these types of story does Kipling write? 

Interpret and illustrate the fourth and fifth sentences; then 
estimate the value of the literary ideal that they present. 

"Tell them first of those things that thou hast seen and they 
have seen together. Thus their knowledge will piece out thy im- 
perfections. Tell them of what thou alone hast seen, then what 
thou hast heard. ... All the earth is full of tales to him who listens 
and does not drive away the poor from his door. The poor are 
the best of tale-tellers; for they must lay their ear to the ground 
every night." 


As long as your reading remains a purely mental process, 
you are likely to get only half or a quarter or one-tenth of the 
content of a page, or even to do no more than skim off an idea 
or a word as you go; and when you turn the leaf, you your- 
self will perhaps be unaware how much or how little you 
have grasped. Have you not had the experience, at some time 
when your mind was perplexed or troubled, of suddenly be- 
coming aware that you did not know a word that you had 
been reading? Your eye had been following word after word, 
but your mind had been busy with its own problems. 

In reading aloud such abstraction is impossible. The mind 
has to be focussed upon the problems of pronunciation, the 
relation of word to word, of phrase to phrase, of sentence to 
sentence. Especially will this be true when you are reading 
to some one else. Then the mind must be alert every mo- 
ment, not only to deal adequately with the mechanical prob- 
lems of utterance, but also and even more to interpret 
for the listener the meaning behind the words. 

Moreover, there are certain qualities of style that can- 
not be adequately realized except through the medium 
of the voice. These are especially tone-color and rhythm. 

By tone-color we mean the combinations of sound used to 
make the word-expression conform to the ideas in beauty, 
harshness, rapidity, or dignity, or even to make the sound of 
the word actually present to the ear the thing it represents. 
Such a sentence as the following may illustrate what is meant 
by this: 

A grim chuckle followed the suggestion, and the soft wheep, 
wheep of unscabbarded knives followed the chuckle. Kipling, 


But even when the words do not actually try to represent the 
sound, they may suggest it as in the following lines of Swin- 
burne the song of the swallow is suggested: 

O swallow, sister, fair swift swallow 

Sister, my sister, O fleet sweet swallow. 

So the rhythm of a phrase, of a sentence, of a paragraph, 
is sometimes discovered to be good or bad only when the 
passage is read aloud. There is no surer or swifter test of 
quality in writing than that of reading aloud; it shows and 
shows up in a moment, beauties and faults that may escape 
silent reading many times. The following sentence, read 
silently, may seem to you dull: it contains an abstract idea 
presented without vividness or color. But if you read it 
aloud slowly several times, you will begin to see that it has 
a beauty of its own, due almost entirely to the rhythm with 
which it moves; and that this rhythm is in itself an aid in 
conveying the idea: 

Free-heartedness, and graciousness, and undisturbed trust, and 
requited love, and the sight of the peace of others, and the ministry 
to their pain; these, and the blue sky above you, and the sweet 
waters and flowers of the earth beneath; and mysteries and pres- 
ences, innumerable, of living things, these may yet be here your 
riches; untormenting and divine; serviceable for the life that now is; 
nor, it may be, without promise of that which is to come. Ruskin. 

In the next four sentences, the idea in each case is concrete; 
but when you read them aloud, you feel as if you were bump- 
ing along a rutty country road: 

Andy Gordon was for all his years a weaver in the mills at Glas- 
tonbury; just an ordinary human stick or stone, as you might 
call it, doing his mechanical work at the machine like a machine 
until one day he drew his pay, before you could say Jack Robinson, 
and started off walking anywhere. 

A blue-jay, in a cracked crescendo, was attacking the established 
order of things among birds. 


Rosa had died on her knees in the nunnery at the exact time he 
stabbed yonder picture. 

The newspapers, chronicling Thorold's appointment briefly, 
were heavy with harbingering of the funeral procession of the boy 
who had fallen a fortnight before in the American navy's attack 
upon Vera Cruz. 

These sentences were taken almost at random from good 
modern writers. Reading them aloud shows up many other 
faults besides defective rhythm. Note, for instance, in the 
first, the jingle 

Until one day 
He drew his pay. 

In the second, note the mushiness of "cracked crescendo" 
and "established order." In the third, note the alliteration 
"on her knees in the nunnery"; and the jingle of "yonder 
picture." In the last, note the elephantine "chronicling . . . 
harbingering of the funeral procession"; and the succession 
of jerks in the last clause: "who had fallen a fortnight be- 
fore in the American navy's attack upon Vera Cruz." 

Now compare with the above, for rhythm alone, the follow- 
ing sentences: 

She made no sign when Holden entered, because the human soul 
is a very lonely thing and, when it is getting ready to go away, 
hides itself in a misty borderland where the living may not follow. 


Footsteps and signs, the tread of regiments marching in the dis- 
tance, the chink of money in the counting, and the creaking of 
doors held stealthily ajar, appeared to mingle with the patter of 
the drops upon the cupola and the gushing of the water in the 
pipes. Stevenson. 

Reading aloud, then, is a test of prose as of poetry, but 
only when it is well done. Under ideal conditions the mechan- 
ical difficulties have entirely disappeared, and reader and 
listener form a partnership for re-creating in imagination what 
the writer's imagination has put into the visible words. 

Now mechanical difficulties are actual barriers in the way 


of this constructive work. The reader who mispronounces 
words, who stumbles as to the end of sentences and clauses, 
and has to go back and repeat portions in order to give the 
proper intonation for the close, diverts his listener's attention 
from the meaning of what he is trying to read to his own 
struggles; and changes interest in the subject-matter to 
sympathy for his efforts, or to the wish that he would stop. 

These difficulties can be overcome. The habitual use of the 
dictionary in cases of doubtful pronunciation will soon give 
a reasonable sense of security in this respect; and the habit 
of sending part of the attention forward toward the end of 
the sentence while the other part is engaged with the be- 
ginning of keeping the eyes a little ahead of the voice, as it 
were will gradually eliminate stumbling. Until this balance 
of attention between what you are reading and what you are 
going to read has been attained, it is a good plan to read 
slowly even to pause between sentences long enough for the 
eyes to take a hasty run ahead to prepare the voice and mind 
for what is coming. 

But mechanical obstacles to successful interpretation do 
not stop here. There are other difficulties which are not so 
easily overcome, because they grow out of the defects of our 
speech habits. They have become so much a part of us that 
even when they are pointed out to us and we recognize them 
and desire to amend, the process of establishing better habits 
is necessarily slow. 

These defects concern enunciation, intonation, and voice 
production. Because of various climatic and racial and other 
conditions, into which it is unnecessary to enter here, we 
Americans have careless speech habits. There are few homes 
in which English is spoken with any consciousness of its 
beautiful qualities, or with any consideration of its sound 
combinations as such; there are probably fewer in which 
there is any thought given to values of intonation and to 
voice production. People who speak well do so more by 


happy accident of birth and circumstance than by reason of 
any effort on the part of their parents. Whatever the lower 
schools have done here and there to correct speech habits, 
the fact remains that most young people to-day do not 
speak well; and what is worse they do not know that 
they do not speak well. Under such circumstances, it seems 
worth while, at the very beginning of the year, to point out 
some of the commonest defects, and to suggest as a partial 
remedy practice under right conditions in reading aloud. 

Although it is impossible within the limits of this book to 
enter into the problems of voice production, intonation, and 
enunciation, this much may be said: A discordant voice, an 
unpleasant intonation, and defective utterance are more 
often due to ignorance and inattention than to physical 
limitations. Consequently, the mere awakening of attention 
to the need for improvement is often the beginning of im- 
provement. If your voice is too loud or too weak or too shrill 
or too husky, the mere effort to make it softer or louder or 
lower or clearer will produce some result; and persistent 
effort in this direction will bring about a permanent change 
if you begin now before the speech habits are set. Most 
people who talk with a nasal twang are quite unaware of the 
fact; to become aware of it is to take the first step to elim- 
inate it, as a little experiment will soon show you. If you 
talk too rapidly and indistinctly, focussing the attention on 
the utterance of each sound will be corrective; if you drawl, 
mere speeding up will give a sharper definition of each sound. 
In a word, attention turned to the defect so that it is clearly 
realized, and stress laid on the opposite quality until balance 
is established, are very simple remedies, which can work great 
changes in defective and unpleasant speech habits. In the 
application of both, the frankest criticism of instructors, 
friends, parents, or anyone else qualified to judge is absolutely 
essential, both for the initial recognition of the difficulty and 
for the establishment of better habits. 


Most of all is it important to get rid of the idea that it 
does not matter how you speak. A bad voice, poor enuncia- 
tion, careless intonation handicap one scarcely less than bad 
manners and ignorance of social customs. They do so, partly 
by creating prejudice against the speaker, and partly by 
making him feel vaguely awkward and ill at ease among 
people who have command of their utterance. 

You will find a short list of common faults in enunciation 
and pronunciation in Appendix V. 

One more point should perhaps be emphasized. Have you 
ever considered how closely intonation is associated with 
character? Intonation means not merely the pitch of the 
voice but all the modulations by which it is made to express 
the mental attitude of the speaker. If, for example, you speak 
habitually in a tone of apology or of deference, what you say 
will carry little weight; if, on the other hand, you use ha- 
bitually a tone of arrogance, the effect of your speech may be 
quite the contrary of what you really intend it may repel 
instead of convincing. You remember, of course, the cringe 
in Uriah Heep's voice, the oil in Mr. Chadband's, the whine 
in Mrs. Gummidge's. Moreover, it is scarcely an exag- 
geration to say that voice and intonation sometimes affect 
people as much as the meaning of the words. An extreme 
example of this is the old story of the woman who wished to 
prove that no one at a reception listened to a word spoken 
by anyone else: she made up a grewsome tale of having 
murdered her husband that morning, and told it with the 
manner and intonation required for society speeches, and 
the comments everywhere were to the effect: "How charm- 
ing!" "How perfectly delightful!" and so on. But in all 
seriousness, it is true that the quiet, confident intonation 
of a voice properly pitched so that it will penetrate 
without irritating often does more to persuade and to con- 
trol than the most effective combinations of words badly 
spoken by a person with an unpleasant voice and an in- 


tonation that creates the wrong sort of response within the 

The sum of the whole matter is that if you wish your use 
of spoken English to be fully effective, you cannot begin too 
soon to consider your faults of utterance, or strive too ear- 
nestly to overcome them. You will find from contact with 
the world that the man who not merely has something to 
say but can also say it unusually well has in himself a source 
of great power. 

The following poem requires no dramatic effort, no elocu- 
tion; the more simply it is given, the more it will appeal. It 
needs only to be read with a sense of the values of sound, 
that is, with clear and correct utterance of every sound that 
is intended to be pronounced, whether this occurs in an 
accented or in an unaccented syllable, without slurring over 
or running together of sounds or syllables, and with pauses 
where they belong. Before you begin, remember the follow- 
ing points: Oxford = Ox-ford, not Ox-furd; pearl = purl, not 
poil; fast is not fast; gol-den is not gol'n; col-le-ges is not col-li- 
juz; care-less is not care-luss; riv-er is not riv'r; mer-ry is not 
mur-ry; gentle-men not gen'lem'n; instead is not in-stid, etc. 
These are only some of the common mispronunciations due 
to sheer carelessness. 

I saw the spires of Oxford 

As I was passing by 
The gray spires of Oxford, 

Against a pearl-gray sky. 
My heart was with the Oxford men 

Who went abroad to die. 

The years go fast in Oxford, 

The golden years and gay. 
The hoary colleges look down 

On careless boys at play. 
But when the bugles sounded war 

They put their games away. 


They left the peaceful river, 

The cricket-field, the quad, 
The shaven lawns of Oxford 

To seek a bloody sod 
They gave their merry youth away 

For country and for God. 

God rest you, happy gentlemen, 

Who laid your good lives down, 
Who took the khaki and the gun 

Instead of cap and gown. 
God bring you to a fairer place 

Than even Oxford town. 

Winifred M. Letts 

After the poem has been read until it is familiar, discuss it 
along the lines suggested by the following questions: 

1. Is there a single word or phrase in the poem that might not be 
found in prose? Then what gives poetical quality to the lines? 

2. Do you get a picture of Oxford? Which phrases are most 
definitely pictorial? In what colors do they paint the picture? 
Can you find a view of Oxford that illustrates the first two lines? 

3. What features of university life are mentioned? Can you 
enlarge upon these hints and show how English university life 
differs from our own? 

4. Do you know a Christmas carol that contains a line very like 
the first line of the last stanza? What is the difference? Was the 
change necessary? Why? Does this reminiscence of old English 
tradition help to give atmosphere to the poem? 

5. What other phrases suggest a place that is very old and rich 
in traditions? How is the character of life at Oxford used for con- 

6. What lines or phrases are especially musical? What com- 
binations of sound produce this musical effect? Do any lines or 
phrases seem to you unmusical? 

7. Does the style of the poem seem to you suited to the nature of 
its content? Can you choose among the following adjectives any 
that seem to you to sum up best the qualities of the poem? If not, 
find the right adjectives: simple; sincere; pensive; austere; musical; 
atmospheric; passionate; suggestive; elusive; pictorial; graceful; haunt- 
ing; commonplace; unassuming. 



1. Find and bring to class a poem on some phase of the War that 
seems to you good enough for reading and discussion. You may 
find it in a magazine, or in collections of poems by such writers as 
Rupert Brooke, Alan Seeger, Amelia Burr, John Drinkwater, John 
Masefield, W. W. Gibson. There are many good collections of war 
poetry. The following are among the best: Clarke, A Treasury of 
War Poetry; Cunliffe, Poems of the Great War; Osborn, The Muse 
in Arms; Wheeler, Fifes and Drums. Go to your college library or 
periodical room, and explore for at least two hours before you 
make your choice. Ask the attendant in charge to make sugges- 
tions. Do not be satisfied until you have found a poem that 
really appeals to you; and do not be disturbed if, after class dis- 
cussion, you are obliged to change your mind about it that is, if 
you find that it will not bear examination. 

2. Learn Miss Letts 's poem so that it becomes a permanent pos- 
session; or if you succeed in finding another War poem that appeals 
to you much more strongly, and you are able to maintain your 
opinion after class discussion, learn that poem. 

For further practice of this kind, the following poems are sug- 
gested: Moody's " Song of Pandora" in The Fire-Bringer, beginning, 
"I stood within the heart of God"; Lanier's "A Ballad of Trees and 
their Master"; Gibson's "Geraniums"; Yeats's "The Lake Isle of 


WITH The Spires of Oxford in mind, read the following pas- 
sage from Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy: 

Oxford, the Oxford of the past, has many faults; and she has 
heavily paid for them in defeat, in isolation, in want of hold upon 
the modern world. Yet we in Oxford, brought up amidst the 
beauty and sweetness of that beautiful place, have not failed to 
seize one truth, the truth that beauty and sweetness are essential 
characters of a complete human perfection. When I insist on this, 
I am all in the faith and tradition of Oxford. I say boldly that this 
our sentiment for beauty and sweetness, our sentiment against 
hideousness and rawness, has been at the bottom of our attachment 
to so many beaten causes, of our opposition to so many triumphant 
movements. And the sentiment is true, and has never been wholly 
defeated, and has shown its power even in its defeat. We have not 
won our political battles, we have not carried our main points, 
we have not stopped our adversaries' advance, we have not marched 
victoriously with the modern world; but we have told silently 
upon the mind of the country, we have prepared currents of feeling 
which sap our adversaries' position when it seems gained, we have 
kept up our own communications with the future. 

Do you see why the prose paragraph has been quoted in 
connection with the poem? What criticisms must have been 
made upon Oxford to warrant Arnold's defense? Show that 
the poem is likewise a defense of the spirit of the University. 
Add any facts that you may happen to know about the part 
of university men in the War and in public service generally. 

Taking the prose and verse together, can you understand 

the depth and richness of the appeal that Oxford makes to 

her students? Few of us here in America have personal 

associations with Oxford; but through literature it has be- 



come not only familiar but dear to cultivated people every- 
where. And because the name of Oxford is so charged with 
emotional associations, the bare mention of it in the prose 
and verse quoted above awakens in the mind old impressions 
of beauty and delight. In this appeal, then, of the subject 
lies part of the charm of both the poetry and the prose. 
Needless to say, this charm would have been lost if the treat- 
ment had been out of tone with the quality of the subject 
if, for instance, it had been florid, that is, over-decorated, or 
aggressive, or blatant, or in any way vulgar or in bad taste. 

But what, you may ask, does all this mean to me? 

There are two ways, as we have seen, in which the intellec- 
tual treasury of men can be enriched by emotional associa- 
tions: one is by experience of life; the other, by experience of 
literature and of art in all its forms. It is because of this 
power to contribute richly to the mental life where actual 
experience is limited or entirely impossible, that literature 
and with it should be associated art is preeminently worth 
while among studies. The Oxford poem appeals to us through 
its presentation of the idea that careless boys have left their 
life at the university, so crowded with interest and play, in 
response to the call of a high ideal of duty; and it emphasizes 
the fact that the very beauty and joy of their life at Oxford 
and the weight of noble tradition associated with the place 
have been largely responsible for their unhesitating and gen- 
erous response to the ideal. Matthew Arnold, in a very differ- 
ent fashion, also declares that the spirit of Oxford always 
maintains the ideal a plea which the poem in turn illustrates 
most concretely. And what Oxford does directly for her 
own students, she does vicariously for all students who, 
knowing her only through literature, find in their own 
universities something of her spirit. 

Whether your own college be one which has behind it a 
mass of traditions suggestive of, if not comparable to, the 
traditions of Oxford, or whether it be a new college which 


has not yet had time to build up fine cultural traditions of 
its own, there is one part of it which will supply to you in an 
unfailing stream the same spirit and the same ideals; that is 
the library. Wherever any considerable number of books is 
brought together, you are sure to find among them a sufficient 
number of the great books of the world to make that library 
a source of inspiration and guidance to you if you will use it 

There are two profitable things to do with a library. One 
is to browse; that is, to pick up the books that attract your 
eye, to read in them as long as you are interested, and to drop 
them when your curiosity is satisfied. In this way you will 
find the things that belong to you; you will gradually assim- 
ilate a multitude of impressions and ideas, of experiences 
which have been lived and phrased by other men; and all 
these will grow into and form a part of your personality. 
The second use to be made of a library is to control its re- 
sources. To do this you must train yourself so that you can 
tell in a moment whether or not it contains what you wish 
to know about a particular subject; so that, without waste of 
time and energy, you can collect and organize such material 
as it has to give. 

These two ways of reading are diametrically opposed and 
supplementary to each other. In browsing you give the 
freeest possible play to your own tastes and interests, and 
are governed by no laws but those of chance or the associa- 
tion of ideas; but in gaining control of the resources of a 
library you must subordinate your personal inclinations to 
impersonal system, or you will fail. It has been found by 
long experience that there is one best way to master a library; 
and this way you must learn and practise if you would ever 
feel otherwise than helpless in the presence of a large number 
of books. 

In browsing you must go to the shelves in order that one 
book may suggest another; but it is obvious that you would 


need a lifetime to learn in this way the range of a large library. 
The short cut is the alphabetically indexed card catalogue. 
The best catalogues, as a rule, combine author and subject 
index in a. system rigidly alphabetical. In order, then, to 
find a particular book, you may look under the author's 
name. If you do not know this, you may look under the 
title. If you do not know this, you may look under the gen- 
eral subject covered by the book. Under one of these head- 
ings you can tell in a few moments the resources of any library 
on any subject. For instance, you should find under Oxford, 
as well as under the names of authors and titles of books, all 
that your library has on this subject. 

But as librarians are not infallible, and card indexes are 
not without fault, you should know other means of getting 
at the resources of a library when these fail you. Suppose, 
for example, that your catalogue has nothing listed under 
Oxford, or under Universities, and suppose that you know 
of no books on the subject, what can you do? Turn 
first to two general reference books: a good encyclopedia 
and The Reader's Guide. The latest edition of the best 
encyclopedia available will give you in condensed form in- 
formation on almost any subject; and at the end of each 
important article, it will name some of the best authorities 
on the subject. If, then, you turn to the volume containing 
Oxford, you can probably get from the references at the end 
of the article a list of authors who have written on that sub- 
ject, and the titles of their books. Under one or both of 
these heads you will probably find such books as your library 
contains on the subject; or if you have further difficulty, you 
will know what to look for on the shelves. If your subject is 
not important enough for a special article in the ency- 
clopedia, you can find in the index volume of that work 
references to such material as it contains. 

For the great mass of material published in periodicals, 
there are special indexes in which both subjects and authors 


are arranged alphabetically. These enable you to keep in 
touch with current literature. They do not include techni- 
cal and scientific journals; but they are invaluable as far as 
they go. 1 

Let us suppose that you have ordered several books on 
Oxford, and have obtained them. How are you going to 
apply "system" to the process of using them? Clearly you 
cannot read even one book from first to last at a sitting; and 
even if you could, the others might be more interesting or 
more valuable for your purpose. You should begin, then, by 
comparing them; and the quickest and most satisfactory way 
to do this, is by reading the table of contents of each. From 
these you can tell in a moment the general scope and char- 
acter of each book, and so judge which is most likely to give 
you what you wish to know about the subject. 

Let us be more specific. What do you wish to know about 
Oxford? The poem refers to the "gray spires." To form a 
mental image of these, you must know something about the 
architecture of Oxford. Note the book and chapter or chap- 
ters which will tell you about this. The poem refers to 
"hoary colleges." How many "colleges" are there in an 
English university? Here is something different from our 
universities. Which table of contents has a chapter or more 
on the "colleges" of Oxford? The third stanza of the poem 
touches upon the outdoor life; turn again to your tables of 
contents for this subject. 

But it is possible that your tables of contents are not 
sufficiently detailed to show whether the book contains a 
certain feature or not. Then turn to the index. It is always 
well to supplement the general survey of a book by means of 
its table of contents with some trying out of its index. 

Now you are ready to begin to read. But reading is only 

1 Of these the most useful are: The Reader s Guide (which, however, does 
not include some of the best English literary journals), known before 1900 
as Poole's Index to Periodical Literature, and the Annual Magazine Subject 
Index (including the Dramatic Index). 


the half of systematic library work; the other half is note- 
taking. To take notes successfully, you must provide your- 
self with the proper materials; and you must take your notes 
in proper form. For specific directions on both these points, 
see Appendix II. These should be followed with exactitude 
as regards the purchase of materials, and referred to upon 
every occasion of doing library work until the habit of cor- 
rectness and completeness in the form of the notes has be- 
come established. You may not at this point realize the 
importance of system as applied to the form of notes, but if 
you once allow yourself to become unsystematic in this 
respect, you will later find great difficulty in correcting 
your tendencies to carelessness; and bad habits, if persisted 
in, will lead to an incalculable waste of time and energy in the 
organization of material, which might have been avoided by 
systematic note-taking. 

With this caution, let us proceed to the actual business of 
reading and taking notes about Oxford in order to gain in 
some degree the background of knowledge necessary for 
thorough appreciation of the literature about it that we have 
been discussing. You have singled out by means of the 
tables of contents certain chapters, and by means of the 
indexes, certain pages. How are these to be read? Con- 
secutively? By no means. 

For perfect reading of the poem and the eulogy, one 
would endeavor to bring into consciousness every word as it 
stood in its context, rich with implications of experience, 
and taking color from the interplay of phrasing; one would 
try to re-create with the imagination on the basis of one's own 
experience what these authors had first lived and felt and 
afterward created into art. 

But now with your Oxford books before you, and your 
packet of cards or slips at hand, you are entering upon an 
entirely different process; you are reading for information. 
That you must later build this information up into a part of 


your consciousness if it is to be worth anything to you, is 
quite another matter; at present, the point is, how to get it. 

The best general rule in reading for information is to skip 
all that does not concern your purpose; and to digest the re- 
mainder. It is no more desirable that you should try to re- 
member every idea in a chapter or on a page than that you 
should try to eat every article of food set before you on a 
table. You take merely what you need and wish; and this 
you digest and assimilate. If you begin to read for informa- 
tion, as many conscientious students do, with the idea that 
you must give some attention to every one of the four hun- 
dred words on a page, and every one of the four thousand 
words in a chapter, you will soon find that you have not 
enough attention to go round. The result of an hour or two 
of this process will be nothing but mental fatigue and a 
confused blur of impressions that fade with the effort to 
reproduce them. 

The situation is rather this. You are not reading for in- 
formation hi general; you are reading to find a particular 
fact or group of facts. Consequently, your mind should pass 
lightly over all that is not relative to its search, and swoop 
like a hungry hawk upon everything on any page that is 
associated with the quest in hand. 

In such reading as this there is a distinct art the art not 
so much of skipping what is irrelevant, though that is in- 
volved, as the art of hunting for what you need. In this 
process your attention must be turned two ways at once: it 
must hold steadily before it the object of the reading, and it 
must be perpetually alert, as the eye moves down the page 
and from page to page, to grasp every sentence that con- 
tributes to this end, and to neglect all others. 

Your object in reading may be, as was suggested above, 
to isolate a particular phase of a subject for use in another 
connection for example, the Bodleian Library or it may 
be to assimilate as many as you can of a group of associated 


facts about some complex aspect of the subject as the his- 
tory of the foundation of the various colleges at Oxford. 

In the first case, the danger is that the attention will wan- 
der from the quest into interesting byways, and neglect to 
come back to the point; that is, that your method of reading 
may insensibly change into the browsing process. In this 
there is no harm except when you do not get what you are 
seeking. To obviate this trouble, a simple plan is to note on 
a card the subject that you are looking for, and to keep 
this card in so prominent a position that even if you are 
led astray for a time by the interest of other subjects, you 
do not forget to come back to the point. 

In the second case, where you are trying to assimilate a 
sequence of facts, it is a good plan to keep the sequence be- 
fore you by jotting down on cards a point on a card each 
heading that is given in the text as a page heading, a par- 
agraph heading, or a side note, or that suggests itself to your 
mind as summing up a considerable portion of matter. By 
making these cards as you read, you will do much toward 
fixing in your mind the most important parts of the printed 
matter before you. 

Your chief difficulty at first will be to pass over every- 
thing that is not wanted, and to miss nothing that is 
wanted. To do this you must train yourself in two ways: 
To read by phrases, rather than by words; and to see at a 
glance whether a page contains material for your purpose. 

To read by phrases instead of words, you must increase 
your speed in the mechanical process of reading of passing 
the eyes over the words. The best way to do this is to time 
yourself. How rapidly can you read a page of a novel with- 
out consciously skipping a word? Make tests and compare 
notes. Whatever your speed is, the chances are that it can 
be increased. A page a minute is a very moderate rate of 
reading. You should not stop short of this. The effect of 
increasing your rate of speed will be to make you grasp more 


and more words as a unit; and you will learn, with the aid of 
punctuation, to keep together those that function together 
in the sentence. 

To recognize at a glance whether or not a page contains 
material that belongs to your present purpose in reading is a 
somewhat different process. It involves first a hasty sweep 
of the page as a whole, to see if there are headlines or side- 
notes which sum up its content. If so, the practiced reader 
knows at once whether to stop or to go on. If no such 
guides are present, he can usually tell from the opening of a 
paragraph whether or not it is likely to contain anything to 
the point. Men who consult many books find it unnecessary 
even to read sentences in order to know what is on the page 
as a whole: the words that embody the chief ideas jump up, 
as it were, to meet their attention; these ideas are at once 
tested in the light of what is already familiar, and dropped 
or absorbed, as the case may require. In this way the skilled 
reader may often learn in a few moments whether pages or 
even chapters of a book, which according to the table of 
contents and the index concern the subject in hand, have 
really anything to contribute to his knowledge or not. 

At first, of course, you will make many mistakes : you will 
skip the wrong things; you will miss many points. To return 
to the figure of the hawk: your mind may go hungry at first 
because it swoops on stones, mistaking them for food; but 
this is better than trying to eat everything in sight and so 
acquiring a permanent mental indigestion and an enduring 
nausea for reading in all its forms. 

Unless you learn to read rapidly and by phrase-units, and 
unless you acquire the habit of instaneous recognition of what 
is new and to your purpose in a great mass of facts, your 
mind will move after the fashion of the squirrel running 
round the cylinder in his cage. You may become very famil- 
iar with what you do know; but you will never know much. 

An important practical question in connection with library 


work is: How long shall it be continued without interruption? 
The answer to this depends upon the individual; but it will 
be determined by answering a further question: How long 
can I concentrate? Concentration means focusing upon the 
work in hand the full power of the mind so that it is absolutely 
inattentive to everything outside. Half an hour of active 
focusing upon a book is worth half a day of turning pages and 
merely gleaning ideas as they force themselves upon the at- 
tention. The way to get results in library work is to focus as 
long as you can that is, until your attention begins to wan- 
der and then to interrupt or change your work for a few 
moments until your mind recovers its elasticity. As con- 
centration is aided by getting the right physical conditions, 
a quiet corner, an upright posture, elbow room and proper 
materials for note-taking, so the necessary relief between 
periods of concentration is secured often merely by rising to 
get another book, or to consult the catalogue, or to take a 
breath of air. The results of alternating periods of working 
at your best with moments of relief are incomparably better 
than long hours of steady sitting over books. 


1. Prepare notes to be used in class discussion of the resem- 
blances and differences between English and American university 
life. The following books, in addition to references in The Reader's 
Guide, will furnish you material: 

Thomas, Edward, and Fulleylove, John, Oxford. 
Corbin, John, An American at Oxford. 
Wells, J., Oxford and its Colleges. 
Wells, J., Oxford and Oxford Life. 
Thompson, A. H., Cambridge and its Colleges. 
Firth, J. B., The Minstrelsy of Isis: An Anthologij of All Poems 
Relating to Oxford, and All Phases of Oxford Life. 
Mackenzie, Compton, Youth's Encounter. 

2. Write a statement in about 300 words of your difficulties and 
problems in connection with library work. Notes should be com- 
pared and discussed in class with a view to finding suggestions as 
to better methods and habits of work. 


A child learning to read sees blind black scratches and dots on a 
white background, and wonders at the stupid senseless things; but 
the grown man sees neither scratches nor dots. He does not see the 
letters at all. They have become transparent, and he sees through 
them to the things which they indicate. Edward Carpenter. 

But does he? He sees of course words. But what is a 
word? The French critic Taine discusses the question how 
it is that black scratches on paper can be made to represent 
or explain one man's experience of life to another: 

By what miracle do three letters make you see a donkey (French, 
ane), and five letters a dog (French, ckien)? The reason is that 
while there are some words which are dead and dry, such as phil- 
osophical terms and ciphers, others there are which are as living as 
the vibrations of a violin, or the tones of a picture. Or rather, in 
the beginning they are all alive and, so to speak, charged with 
sensations, as a young bud is full of sap; it is only in the course of 
their growth, and after a long period of transformations that they 
begin to fade, to stiffen and end by becoming bits of dead wood. 

But do we deal with words in this vital way? For most of 
us, according to Taine : 

Words take the place of the images that they indicate, and most 
of the time they do not evoke these images. When we read, and 
even when we think, we do not see behind each word the corre- 
sponding image. The word alone is in our minds, a dry, algebraic 
sign which suffices for us because it is understood and familiar, and 
because we know that we can at any moment replace it by the image. 
But as long as this evocation is not made, there can be no original 
thought, no creative work. . . . 

Now consider this: the fitting of the images and ideas 
in our minds to the words that will most completely carry 


these images and ideas to other minds is the first step in 
sentence-building; and the sentence is the smallest unit in 
the expression of thought: the Latin sententia means a 
thought. Then before you can make any headway in speak- 
ing and writing you must acquire words and learn how to 
use them. 

By far the best way to do this is to read much and widely, 
and with your mind alert to grasp not only every new word 
but every new shade of meaning given to a familiar word 
by its context. This method, however, is the process of a 
lifetime; it cannot be hurried; it is never at an end. The 
best single aid to the mastery of words is the intelligent 
use of the dictionary. This does not cannot take the 
place of the quest for words through reading; but it sup- 
plements this. It is a sort of mental First Aid, or Present 
Help; it keeps the wolf from the door when the vocabulary 
cupboard is empty. The reading of the dictionary is, more- 
over, the source of a distinct and peculiar pleasure a 
pleasure which even educated people do not always ap- 

The first rule for the use of the dictionary is: Choose a 
good one. Unquestionably the best of all is the still 
incomplete New English Dictionary, which is being pub- 
lished in many volumes by the Clarendon Press at Oxford. 
This is really a series of little biographies of words; it tells 
all that any reasonable person could desire to know about 
the origin, history, and associations of a word, and enriches 
its explanations with many plums of quotations. But this 
is an expensive work and not always available; and the next 
in desirability are the New International, the Standard, and 
the Century. If these are beyond your means, you should 
purchase either Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or the Standard 
of corresponding size. 

To do this is most important, as the second rule for the 
dictionary is: Have it always at hand. The wise student may 


even go so far as to buy also a pocket dictionary for emer- 
gencies; but no pocket dictionary is sufficiently accurate or 
detailed to take the place of the larger work. 

But what is the "intelligent use of the dictionary?" 
People who stop reading to look up every word that they do 
not fully understand are as rare as saints. It is only when 
readers come face to face with a word that conveys no mean- 
ing whatever that they will some of them if there is a dic- 
tionary within easy reach turn to it for explanation. Sup- 
pose you read: 

Shakerly hurled the palimpsest upon which he had just wasted 
a small fortune in Dodson's face, ejaculating: "Fraud!" Dodson, 
his left eye bleeding from a cut where the sharp edge struck him, 
crumpled it up and threw it into the fire. 

This passage would probably drive you to the dictionary, to 
find out what kind of missile could be a fraud, could cost a 
fortune, could cut an eye, and could be crumpled up and 
burned. If you look up the word palimpsest in your dic- 
tionary, you will find something like this: 

A parchment, tablet, etc., which has been used two or more times, 
the earlier writing being erased. 

The derivation is given as from two Greek words which 
mean to rub and again. How much idea does this give 
you of the meaning of this word? Why should the parch- 
ment have been used two or three times? Why does 
the definition say parchment and not paper? Why was the 
writing erased? Who erased it and who wrote on the parch- 
ment again? Obviously, the word palimpsest is rich with 
associations and implications that cannot be explained in a 
small dictionary. In such a case as this, then, you must 
either go to a large dictionary, or leave the passage only 
partly understood, and be yourself the poorer for not 
knowing an important and curious fact in literary history. 
An extraordinary word of this type is sometimes worth a 


special visit to the library in order to consult the Oxford 
Dictionary, which, you may be sure, will give you vital and 
sufficient information. 

A third rule for using the dictionary is : Learn its system. 
Read with care its preface and table of contents. You will 
see that it will supplement your imperfect knowledge of 
spelling, pronunciation, and capitals; that it will brush up 
your shabby grammar; that it will give the etymology of 
words, definitions of them, and to some extent illustrations 
of their proper use; that it will supply lists of synonyms or 
words nearly equivalent in meaning, and explain briefly 
the chief differences between words that convey almost the 
same ideas; that it will show you how derivatives are formed 
from root words; that it will teach you which words are slang, 
obsolete, archaic, or colloquial, in order that you may be 
warned against using them without consideration of their 
effect; and that where explanations in words may not give a 
sufficient idea of the thing defined, it will often add a picture 
of the thing itself. Moreover, you will find that its informa- 
tion is not limited to typical and universal things and ideas, 
but that it includes also lists of proper names which stand for 
individual persons and places, and gives the fundamental 
facts about them. And finally, you will see in it a glossary 
of common phrases borrowed from foreign languages, and a 
list of abbreviations in common use among printers and 

Before you begin to work with any dictionary, you should 
make yourself familiar with its methods of presenting in- 
formation. You should, for instance, look for the table of 
abbreviations of which it makes use, or you will not be able 
to understand in some cases information given in abbreviated 
form. Can you, for example, say offhand what is meant by 
the following: W., Skr., perh., p.a., Com., com., Ex., exc., g., 
G., incho., I.e., NGr.? Again, you must understand the 
diacritic marks, or you will not be able to pronounce according 


to instructions. You should also understand why the forms 
and the meanings stand in a given order. 

Meanings are in some dictionaries arranged in their his- 
torical order, so that we can trace the development of the 
word from its origin down to its most recent uses; in others 
the meanings are arranged in the order of their importance, 
the commonest being placed first. These points should not 
be forgotten in looking up the meaning of a word. And, as 
was said before, it is most important to look for such char- 
acterizations of a word as Slang, Archaic, obs. or obsoles., 
colloq., dial., etc., if you would learn to know words not as 
mere combinations of letters, but as beings rich with associa- 
tions of all kinds, and alive with infinite possibilities. 

A fourth rule for the use of the dictionary is : Take your 
time. If in looking up a new word you are content with a 
hasty glance at the first meaning, the chances are great that 
you will soon have to look up the same word again, partly 
because you did not learn the range of its meanings, and 
partly because you did not dwell long enough upon even the 
one meaning for the impression to remain. Moreover, the 
awakening of surprise or interest as you explore into the 
origin and associations of a word, and note curious details 
about its history or use, will be a great aid in so fixing a word 
in your memory that it will offer itself when you have use for 
it. When you can afford to do so, you should take the time 
to look up a word in all its bearings: spelling, pronunciation, 
origin, history, changes in meaning and range of meanings, 
associations and character, and synonyms, perhaps even some 
grammatical peculiarity connected with it. In this kind of 
work you will do well to form the habit of using both the 
unabridged and abridged dictionaries. For simple, common 
words, to which the unabridged dictionaries give much space 
because of historical or dialectical usage, you will find the 
smaller dictionary ample; and the complexity of the larger 
work may only confuse you. But for unusually interesting 


words, even when the smaller dictionary gives adequate 
definitions of them, you will find in the larger dictionary a 
wealth of curious fact and illustration that will tend to make 
such words your own forever. 

A leisurely attitude in dictionary work has the further 
advantage that it gives the eye a chance to glean by the way. 
As you skim the page headings, looking for the alphabetical 
combination that will guide you to your word, if your atten- 
tion is attracted by a strange word, do you take a moment 
to gratify your curiosity about it? The habit of doing so is 
an invaluable asset to anyone who would write. It serves 
to store up innumerable words which gradually pass from 
the conscious to the subconscious mind, where they may live 
for years and then suddenly pop back into consciousness when 
the mind is calling for what they can supply. The explana- 
tion of this fact lies in the theory that the mind does not 
really forget even when it seems to forget that an impression 
once registered may lie in darkness for years and be called 
into light by some chance association of ideas. For this 
reason it is worth while to take the time whenever you can to 
register impressions of the words which arouse a momentary 
curiosity as you pass them by. Here, for instance, is a list 
of page headings taken at random: crampon; feldspathic; 
fencible; gripple; lich gate; parbuckle; trepang; zymotic do 
you know the meanings of these? Each of them might be 
useful in speech or writing some day. 


1. Prepare notes in proper form, for use in class discussion, on 
the arrangement of the dictionary that you intend to use in con- 
nection with your English work. 

2. Spend half an hour glancing at the page headings of this dic- 
tionary, and jotting down the words that attract your attention 
there, and seem to you worth remembering. See how many you 
can collect in that time. Put with each its fundamental meaning, 
unless you are sure that you can remember this. 


3. Note on cards the most interesting facts that you can find 
about twenty or more of the following words. Use the best dic- 
tionary available, and use a card for each word: alcohol; amazon; 
amethyst; antics; antimacassar; baccalaureate; banal; bane; barbarian; 
biscuit; bizarre; blackguard; boycott; brat; burly; cabal; crone; curfew; 
cynic; dismal; doff and don; dunce; echo; galvanize; good-bye; gossip; 
Gothic; grotesque; heliotrope; humor; hyacinth; impediment; jerry- 
built; jersey; knave; labyrinth; lunatic; lute; melancholy; pagan; 
philopena; pianoforte; posy; sandwich; silly; sincere; soldier; soph- 
omore; spinster; stoical; tantalize; tawdry; titanic; tribulation; tulip; 
turquoise; umbrella; villain; volcano; volt. 

4. Explore your librarj' for answers to the following questions: 
How many words are there in the English language? How many 

of these are used by the average uneducated man? by the average 
college man? How many were used by Shakespeare? by any other 
writer of note? From what languages are English words derived? 
What types of words were contributed by Latin? Greek? French? 
Dutch? Arabic? Work out this idea as fully as you can. How 
are new words formed to-day? Find examples of words recently 
formed from the names of men; from the names of newly invented 
things; in other ways. 

5. Make notes for class discussion of the following subjects: 
Have you the right to make new words as you need them? Has 

a newspaper the right? Has an author of established reputation? 
Who has such a right? What conditions should be attached to the 
formation of new words? 


THE value of good form in writing appears from the follow- 
ing story. Several years ago, a banker was shown a hundred 
letters written by college graduates, and was asked which of 
the writers he would consider as possible applicants for a 
position. He threw aside with a mere glance more than two- 
thirds of them. Why? Because the letters were in bad form, 
badly written, badly capitalized, badly punctuated, badly 
spelled, and not free from bad faults in grammar. Of the 
thirty remaining, only three or four could have been graded 
above eighty per cent. 

This banker was not looking for graces of style; but he was 
alert to the value of a decent degree of correctness in form. 
He knew that good form in writing, like good address in 
speech, opens the way to success in dealing with men. For 
this reason alone, it is well to have a very high standard in 
all the externalities of speech and of writing. As in speech, 
pronunciation, enunciation, intonation, voice, gesture, man- 
ner, take part in the successful conduct of life, so in writing, 
the choice of paper, pen, and ink, the arrangement of the 
pages and of the writing on the page, the punctuation, cap- 
italization, spelling, and grammar, enter into the reader's 
judgment of the product far more widely than the student 
sometimes believes. 

But it is one thing to realize the importance of perfection 
in form; quite another, to attain it. As soon as you begin to 
think about good form, you become acutely afraid of stepping 
on the toes of some unsuspected rule. How are confidence 
and ease to be gained? Simply by living always at least 


throughout freshman English! with two watchwords: 
Attention, and Habit. 

Attention is fundamental, because you have doubtless for 
some years been magnificently inattentive to these trifles, or 
you would not now be having difficulty with them. Habit is 
fundamental, because you should have formed habits in 
your childhood which would now be as natural as your ways 
of eating and drinking, and because unless you begin at once 
to form such habits, you will all your days either be 
handicapped by your errors, or burdened with rules and 
miserable in never being sure that you have remembered 
them all. 

Attention corrects many faults by a single and momentary 
focusing of the mind on a particular point of literary eti- 
quette or a single unsuspected lapse from good taste. For 
instance, if you read now that you will create prejudice 
against yourself by using cheap paper, which makes blots, 
lined paper, which suggests that you need guidance to write 
straight, perfumed or tinted paper, which attracts attention 
to itself, gilt-edged paper, or paper stamped with a gilt initial 
or some other cheap or showy ornament, which suggests 
in you a love of cheap finery if you read this once, the 
chances are great that you will never offend good taste in 
any of these respects. 

Nor will you wish to suggest poverty by using paper and 
envelopes that do not match, or by writing on torn half sheets ; 
or lack of courtesy by using faded or cheap ink that strains 
your correspondent's eyes; or bad taste by using gaudy ink 
that suggests to his imagination a person of barbaric ties or 
ribbons. Further, if you have had to read many letters 
written in pencil, you will see the advisability of using ink 
whenever you can. 

Finally, a bare hint should suffice to make you seek out the 
kind of pen that suits your way of writing. A pen that 
scratches and digs into the paper, or one that blots at un- 


suspected intervals, is a source of torture to the writer and 
of irritation or amusement to the reader. 

All such matters are easily disposed of by a single sugges- 
tion. But principles of spelling, problems in punctuation, 
usage in grammar, must be dealt with first by calling atten- 
tion to them, and then by establishing the habit of invariable 
correctness in one case after another until all have been 

The main features of good form in writing are the follow- 

1. The proper preparation of the manuscript, the size 
and arrangement and numbering of pages, spacing on the 
page, including margins and indentions, and penmanship; 

2. The proper use of capitals and italics; 

3. Correct spelling; 

4. Intelligent punctuation; 

5. Observance of grammar and idiom. 

In this chapter your attention will be called to the essentials 
of all these aspects of good form; in the Appendix, pp. 413ff., 
you will be given full details. There each paragraph will be 
numbered and indexed, so that when you are in doubt as you 
write a paper, you can quickly turn to specific information 
on the point in question; and similarly, a marginal number 
used by the instructor to indicate an error will at once put 
you in the way of correcting it. 

In regard to the mechanical features of writing, the one 
rule to be followed is: Conform to custom. In the case of a 
personal letter, be guided by the best social usage; in the case 
of a business letter, imitate the practice of the leading busi- 
ness houses; in the case of a manuscript, keep to the conven- 
tions established by editors. For specific directions see 
Appendix I. 

The use of capital letters to-day is a very simple matter. 
Formerly they were inserted freely at any point in the sen- 
tence, whenever an abstract idea was personified (see any 


long poem of the eighteenth century), or when emphasis was 
desired (see any page of Carlyle). To-day the tendency is to 
use as few as possible. They, however, serve two distinct 
purposes. First, they are a means of punctuation. They 
separate (1) thought from thought when they begin sentences; 
and (2) rhythm from rhythm when they begin lines of verse. 
Second, they are a means of individualization; they separate 
an individual from the class, or a group regarded as a unit on 
the basis of some common quality or qualities from a larger 
class. Thus: 

John Smith is an individual to be distinguished from the class man. 
Cubists are to be distinguished from the larger class artists. 

If you remember always to apply the test whether your 
word identifies an individual, or merely refers to him as any 
member of a class, you will have no difficulty in the use of 
capitals. In cases of doubt refer to Appendix III. 

Italics have two general uses. As an alternative to quota- 
tion marks, they separate small portions of text from the 
surrounding matter for the sake of clearness; they are a form 
of punctuation. Thus they distinguish the title of a book, or 
the name of a ship, from the name of an individual; and they 
show quotation of a word or short group of words. For 
details of these uses see Appendix III. Second, they are 
used for emphasis. In this use they are limited mainly to 
highly emotional dialogue, and even there should be used 
sparingly. In all other writing the structure and order of the 
sentence should throw upon each word the degree of em- 
phasis that it ought to bear. 

You may be surprised to hear that spelling can be taught. 
Some of you may even flatter yourselves that you belong to 
that interesting class of persons who "cannot learn to spell." 
You are quite mistaken: there is no such class outside the 
insane asylum. If you have not yet learned to spell, you 
should begin at once to do so by applying in special ways the 


two watchwords suggested above: Attention and Habit. 
With a good dictionary at hand, there is no reason why, even 
when you are in the process of learning what should have been 
learned some years ago, you should not write papers that are 
practically perfect in this respect. But although the dic- 
tionary is an invaluable staff to lean upon in time of need, 
it is also something of a burden to carry about. The worst 
speller can gradually train himself to be independent of it; 
and if he aims to avoid the appearance of illiteracy, he will 
have no peace of mind until he has done so. 

Correct spelling depends fundamentally upon accuracy of 
observation. If, when you first see a word, you look at it 
carefully enough and long enough to get its entire formation 
into your mind, the chances are great that you will never 
misspell it. But if you get a half-impression, and begin to 
form the habit of misspelling a word, you will have difficulty 
with that word for some time. Such words as practice (noun), 
practise (verb), weird, ecstasy, acquiescence, conscience, may 
have to be looked up scores of times in the dictionary if you 
have allowed yourself to begin wrong with them. 

But, you may say, I have already begun wrong with a long 
list of words; my problem now is how to get them right, and 
how to avoid similar mistakes with new words in the future. 
It is too late to take spelling over again. What is the short 
cut to improvement? 

Improvement may be made to begin at once by following 
a very simple plan. Buy an indexed pocket notebook, and 
enter in it from day to day words that you find yourself 
habitually misspelling. Study Appendix IV, section by sec- 
tion, and copy from it into your notebook words that seem 
to resist mastery. Copy only a few at a time. 

From this notebook choose a word at a time, and by a 
deliberate act of attention, look at it as if you had never seen 
it before; if practicable, spell it aloud slowly, so that you 
have time to realize the presence of each letter. Then write 


it correctly again and again; cover a page with it, writing 
without a pause; if you can, spell it aloud as you write. 
Underline, as you write, the part of the word in which your 
error occurs. Repeat this process for five minutes at a time, 
if necessary every day for a week, or until you know that 
you can never misspell this word again. Take, for example, 
the much-abused word separate. Look at a line of it with the 
a emphasized : separate separate separate separate sep- 
arate separate. Do you need to see it many more times, or 
to write it many times, before you realize that the letter be- 
tween p and r is an a? Yet this is one of the words most fre- 
quently misspelled. 

Practically, you will find that in very many cases you will 
not need to use the drastic measures outlined above, more 
than once or twice. If you think you have learned a word, 
and later find yourself misspelling it, you have only to repeat 
the process as if you had never performed it before. 

As soon as you have learned a word, cross it off your list. 
Keep adding to and taking away from your notebook; keep 
the words moving, if you would make any real progress. 
Write your words in odd moments of waiting on the train or 
car, at the station, during the few moments before class or 
before meals. If you feel that this is hard to do, remember 
that the alternative is lifelong exposure to the unjust sus- 
picion of illiteracy. 

But suppose you habitually misspell words without know- 
ing that they are wrong? Suppose you have literally no 
standard by which to judge correctness? Then, obviously, 
you must get one. However eccentric the spelling of English 
words may seem at times, it is actually based upon rules 
which, together with their exceptions, can be learned. In 
Appendix IV you will find these rules for the formation of 
words, together with examples of both rules and exceptions. 
You will find also classified groups of words which are often 
confused with other similar words. By memorizing and prac- 


tising these, a few at a time, there is no reason why you should 
not eliminate every kind of fault in the course of the work in 
freshman English. The focusing of attention sharply upon . 
a single word at a time, and the persistent effort to form a 
correct habit in regard to that word, and the continual pro- 
gression from one word to another in the indexed notebook, 
however slow the process may be, cannot fail to lead to the 
mastery of spelling. 

It is probable that you have some trouble with punctua- 
tion. You may not belong to the class of people who habit- 
ually forget to put a period at the end of a statement, or to 
supply the second pair of quotation marks at the end of a 
quotation; and still you may not realize that the semicolon 
is a useful compromise between the comma and the period, 
or that the fate of a nation may hang upon the insertion or 
omission of a comma. Do you, for instance, immediately see 
which of the following notices for the Bulletin Board would 
be most certainly for your advantage? 



Punctuation, in general, is a printer's device for grouping 
thoughts that belong together and separating them from 
other thoughts. The division of a book into parts, chapters, 
sections,' and paragraphs is as much punctuation as the use 
of certain marks to show the end of the sentence, whereas 
the division into pages is purely mechanical. Punctuation 
marks correspond to the manipulation of the breath and voice 
in speech. You are never in doubt as to when a spoken sen- 
tence is interrogatory; but a written sentence may be so 
phrased that only the question mark at the end shows how 


it is to be taken. When the mark is omitted, the reader has 
no guide. 

Punctuation marks are of two kinds: variable and inva- 
riable. Errors in invariable punctuation are due to mere 
carelessness, and are if they are habitual inexcusable. 

The marks used for invariable punctuation may be summed 
up as follows : 

1. Some mark to show the end of every sentence; 

2. A period after every non-exclamatory assertion; 

3. A question mark after every direct question; 

4. Some device to show quotation; in writing, usually 
quotation marks; 

5. The setting apart of elements which are structurally 
independent, or which modify the sentence as a whole such 
as vocatives, appositives, nominative absolutes, and certain 
adverbs and transitional phrases by the use of the comma, 
and of exclamatory words and phrases by the comma or 
exclamation mark; 

6. Brackets to enclose all matter foreign to the text as it 
was originally written, or merely conjectured to be a part 
of it. 

If you fail in the habitual use of these invariable marks, you 
should study and apply the principles given in Appendix VI 
until you have no further difficulty in this respect. 

Variable punctuation depends partly upon meaning, and 
partly upon the emphasis desired. This we shall study in 
connection with sentence structure. Only in this way can 
you learn how to make commas, semicolons, and colons, 
serve your thought. And without their aid you can never 
learn the secrets of exact and effective writing. 

Finally, in speaking of form, there remains to be considered 
grammar. Now grammar may be viewed under two aspects. 
It is a theoretical system according to which the eight classes 
of words called parts of speech are subject to certain changes 
in form or in position within the sentence, by virtue of which 


they control the meaning of the sentence. In its second as- 
pect, grammar is practical. It is the formulation of the 
usage of the majority of educated people who are speaking 
the language at any given time. 

The theory of grammar in any language changes almost 
imperceptibly; usage changes perceptibly in the course of a 
generation. Without perpetual reference to the idiom of 
living speech, grammar tends to become a dead letter; with- 
out frequent standardization on the basis of grammar, living 
speech tends to degenerate into dialects and slang. 

You may or may not have had the sad experience of 
studying grammar as a kind of pure mathematics of speech, 
quite unrelated to your usual manner of expressing yourself. 
It is so taught in some schools. However that may have been, 
there is danger in our country that grammar will be relegated 
to the dusty shelves of pedants, and daily speech run loose 
with the bit in its mouth. No one who reads current Amer- 
ican literature can be long unaware of the large amount of 
bad English that it contains English not merely informal, 
not merely colloquial, not merely slangy some slang in 
its place is admirable but English that cannot on any prin- 
ciple be justified as beautiful or fitting. Exactly the same 
criticism can be made of the speech of most of our people 
even that of college graduates, doctors of philosophy, pro- 
fessors, high officials. The American man or woman who 
speaks ninety per cent correct English is difficult to find. 
"Between you and I" has been heard from the platform, 
addressed to an audience of four thousand people; a super- 
intendent of education, in a pamphlet on English, defended 
the use of "He don't!" 

Undoubtedly one cause of this national illiteracy to put 
the matter strongly in regard to the use of English, lies in 
the separation of the study of grammar from the study of 
idiom. And the remedy lies with the college student. How 
shall he begin? 


He must realize in the first place, that he does express 
himself incorrectly; and in the second place, that in an under- 
standing of grammar lies his help. He must regard grammar, 
not as a source of infinite boredom and low marks, but as a 
subject capable of being brought to life and made to stim- 
ulate his thinking processes. And the one way to bring 
grammar to life is to put aside formal definitions, elaborate 
classifications, examples made to order, and to observe how, 
as the machinery of the language, it really works. This can 
be done by analyzing step by step the construction of the 
sentence, and the changes of meaning and emphasis involved 
in changes of arrangement and punctuation. 

The cautions which some writers of textbooks and teachers 
have given about words and constructions have not always 
made clear to students the truth in regard to questions of 
usage; in fact, these cautions have sometimes been made so 
absolute as to be really misleading. Let us try to get some 
simple and clear ideas on the subject. 

In the first place, a language is just what the people who 
speak it and write it make it. The spelling of a word, its 
pronunciation, its meaning, its social standing, are not due 
to any substance or quality in the word itself that determines 
these features; they are due to the way in which the word has 
been spelled and pronounced and used in the past, including 
in the term "past" all the time from the origin of the word 
down to the present moment. For example, the word fee 
was once spelled feoh, it was pronounced like no word now 
in existence, and it meant a cow or, collectively, cattle; later 
it was spelled fee, pronounced almost like the modern 
word fay and it meant property in general or, specifically, 
money; later, from the meaning property developed a special 
meaning in connection with the holding of real-estate, in 
fee simple being the term for absolute possession of a piece 
of land; at the same time, from the meaning money developed 
the usual present meaning of a payment for services; and the 


word in both of its later meanings has acquired the pronuncia- 
tion that we now give it. It would obviously be absurd 
to-day to spell the word as it used to be spelled or to 
give it its ancient pronunciation or any of its ancient mean- 
ings, not because these were not correct for they were 
but merely because these are not the usage or custom of 
the present day. It would be equally absurd, although to 
hold in fee is still used hi legal documents with the meaning 
to own, to possess, for any speaker or writer to try to make 
this use of the word a part of his ordinary speech; it belongs 
to the technical language of the law courts and would be 
out of place in the language of daily life. 

The forms and meanings and associations of words in the 
past, then, have led up to their forms and meanings and 
associations at the present time; but since we live in the 
present and use present-day English, the question of word 
usage is simply a question of what actually are the spelling, 
pronunciation, meaning, and associations of words at the 
present time. 

This does not mean that every form that exists is correct 
and every usage is to be imitated. Some persons are ignorant, 
still more are careless. And besides that, some forms and 
meanings are permissible under some circumstances that 
would be absurd under others. Take the word alibi. It 
has a perfectly definite correct meaning, which is "proof that 
a person accused of a crime was somewhere else [Lathi alibi] 
when the crime was committed." Many people some ig- 
norant and others careless are now using it to mean "any 
sort of good excuse for any sort of failure." Does the usage 
of these ignorant and careless persons justify you in helping 
to spoil a good and useful word? Surely not. The clerk who 
sells you fresh vegetables probably nay, certainly applies 
the term grass to what you call asparagus. Does the 
uniform usage of the whole world of vegetable dealers justify 
you in adopting grass as good English for asparagus? 


What has just been said about words applies with equal 
force to constructions. Some are antiquated, some are over- 
elegant for daily use, some are slangy, some are useful but 
undignified, some are good for any and all occasions. To use 
slang or undignified colloquialisms on an occasion calling for 
seriousness and dignity is like wearing a pair of overalls at a 
formal dinner; to use superfine poetic terms in buying a 
railway ticket or ordering the family groceries is like wearing 
evening dress at a baseball game. 

To sum up the whole matter briefly, it is important for 
success in writing or speaking to know what are the proper 
words and fit constructions for the different kinds of writing 
and speaking that one is called on to do. The realistic novel- 
ist and the feature story writers for newspapers and magazines 
will wish to know all varieties of speech slangy, vulgar, 
colloquial, business-like, super-elegant, pedantic, or what 
not for they have occasion in their work to represent all 
sorts and conditions of men as speaking in the manner in 
which each speaks in actual life. The writer or speaker who 
intends to cultivate a special field or a special audience will 
study the vocabulary and forms of language appropriate to 
his purpose. There are perhaps no words or constructions in 
current use that a writer might not wish to make use of for 
some special purpose or occasion. The art of good writing 
lies in employing for each purpose and occasion the right 
words in their right uses and places. For the student, the 
first requisite is to study the usage of persons whose taste and 
judgment and means of knowing what is proper can be de- 
pended upon. 

Books on usage if written by competent persons merely 
undertake to find out what is the uniform usage of cultivated 
men and women, what variations, if any, exist and to make 
this information available for those of us who are unable to 
learn such matters by personal observation. The most gen- 
erally useful of such books is, as has been said in a previous 


chapter, the dictionary. It does not undertake to lay down 
laws which must be observed, but only to report in regard to 
each word how it actually is spelled, pronounced, and used 
by most persons whose usage is worth considering; and fur- 
ther to record in regard to words that are out-of-date, or 
poetic, or colloquial, or slangy, or vulgar, or used only in cer- 
tain districts the fact that they are of such a character. 
Careful study of the dictionary, supplemented occasionally 
by some more detailed discussion of puzzling problems, 
will soon repay the student for his labor. 

You will find in Appendix VIII, a list of idioms which 
may help you with special difficulties. 


Examine the eight sections of the Appendix and observe where 
you will find directions and exercises that will help you to overcome 
your individual defects in matters of form. 

Discuss in class the best ways of making use of this part of the 





GOOD sentences are the foundation stones of all good writ- 
ing. But when is a sentence good? What is a sentence? 

The function of the sentence is to express thought; and 
thought is the process in which the mind seizes upon an image 
or an idea and moves with it toward the goal of another idea. 
As a baby you began to think: 

Papa (image) is coming (goal). 

Kitty (image) is soft (goal). 

In other words, thought is the process of organizing mental 
impressions into relationships. In its simplest form, a 
thought involves two ideas: a subject with which it begins, 
and a predicate with which it ends. In this movement of the 
mind from subject through predicate thought lives; and like 
life itself, as soon as it ceases to be dynamic, it ceases to exist. 

The sentence, then, represents in words this thought- 
movement this passing over of thought from a subject to a 
predicate, which is sometimes called predication. 

The subject of the sentence always stands for a mental 
image or idea; it is always a substantive a noun, or its 

Used alone, the substantive is static involves no thought 
whatever, but an image more or less definite : cat ; sky; who; he. 
But the moment that a predicate is attached, we have the 
movement of thought: The cat mewed; The sky is blue; 
Who came? He did. 

The predicate always embodies the thought-movement it- 


self as it proceeds away from the subject toward a further 
idea; it is always a verb, which may or may not require for 
the complete expression of the idea further appendages, called 
object (direct and indirect), predicate complement, and ad- 
verbial substantive. Without the verb there can be no 
predicate; but the verb alone may be all that is needed for 
the predicate. 

Yet the verb can no more stand alone to express thought 
than can the subject: go; is; has seen. There can be no move- 
ment without a starting-point. But the moment a substan- 
tive is added or clearly understood, a sentence is formed: 
{You) go; God is; She has seen. 

The predicate verb is complex in its function. In the first 
place, it may be either dynamic or static; that is, it may ex- 
press action or merely state equivalence. 

When it is dynamic, it contains in itself the idea of the 
thought-movement that has its starting-point in the sub- 
ject, and it may contain within itself the goal of this move- 

I am writing. 

On the other hand, the thought-movement may pass beyond 
the verb and find complete expression only when it has made 
a direct object its goal: 

I am writing a letter. 

This passing-over of the thought beyond the verb to a direct 
object is shown by the word transitive (going-over) , applied to 
the verb that is accompanied by this appendage. When the 
verb contains in itself a complete idea of action, it is called 
intransitive (not going over). 

There is no fixed classification of verbs on this basis. In 
many cases, the same verb may be used transitively and in- 

I walk I walk my horses. 

Baby grows I grow geraniums. 


It is necessary, then, whenever a verb of action is used, to look 
to see whether the thought-movement passes beyond the verb 
and is completed by a direct object; that is, whether the verb 
is transitive or intransitive. 

The static verb, which is always the copula (the verb to be], 
or some verb that denotes an impression made upon the mind 
(as, to seem, appear, feel, taste, sound, look, smell, etc.), does 
not contain in itself the idea of the thought-movement, but 
merely serves to link the starting-point of the thought (sub- 
ject) with the goal, which is now called the predicate com- 
plement. Here the thought passes over from the subject to 
the predicate complement; but the verb is essential to hold 
the two ideas together. 

The predicate complement may be a noun, a pronoun, or 
an adjective: 

Who is he? He is American. He is an American. 

A sentence, then, consists of two essential elements: sub- 
ject and predicate. Both must be expressed, or if one is 
omitted, it must be so definitely implied that it can be imme- 
diately and exactly stated. . 

"Shall you walk?" 

"No [I shall not walk], [I shall] drive." 

A sentence with such omissions is called elliptical. 

The life of the sentence depends upon the presence or 
unmistakable implication in the predicate of some finite 
form of the verb (that is, a form in the indicative or the sub- 
junctive mood; not an infinitive or a participle), which 
asserts action, state, or being. 

The following groups of words are not sentences: 

The wood on the hill now almost bare (no verb). 
To return to the point (infinitive phrase used as verb). 
The day being warm and oppressive (participle used as verb). 
Which he said he would do (subordinate clause used independ- 


The following diagram may help you to remember the 
essential condition that the thought must move from one 
idea to another: 


Starting-point _____ ' - Goal 

Subject Predicate 

Subject Intransitive verb 

Subject Transitive verb .... direct object 

Subject copula (copulative verb). . . .Predicate complement 

This, of course, is the bare skeleton of the simplest type of 
sentence structure the simple sentence. For the full ex- 
pression of the idea we may need modifiers of the subject 
(adjective elements), and modifiers of the predicate (adverbial 
elements), and modifiers of the sentence as a whole (independ- 
ent elements) ; but all these are superstructure, and found in 
varying degrees. They may be added or removed to alter 
the meaning of the sentence; but their presence or absence 
does not affect its life. 

The simple sentence may be built up by parallelism into 
the compound sentence; but each clause of this compound 
structure must conform to the requirements of the simple 

One simple sentence may be subordinated to another to 
construct a complex sentence; but principal and subordinate 
clause alike must contain predications. 

However much a sentence may vary in form as in state- 
ment, question, or exclamation, it must be built upon this 
one structural principle. 


1. Analyze each sentence on p. 58 into its starting-point and 
goal. Group the modifiers of the subject with it, and keep all the 
parts of the predicate together. Continue the exercise until you 


have no difficulty in distinguishing the two essential features of 
the sentence. 

2. Beginning where you left off in the preceding exercise, name 
the verbs, and distinguish between intransitive verbs and transi- 
tive verbs with direct objects. Wherever you can, give examples 
of the transitive use of verbs that you find intransitive, and vice 
versa. ! 

3. Continue the sentence analysis, naming the copulas and 
copulative verbs, and the predicate complements attached to them. 

4. Write in 100 words or less a summary of the structure of the 
sentence. Avoid as far as possible the phrasing used in this section. 

5. Illustrate, if you can, the error of making groups of words 
that do not contain a predication stand for sentences. 

6. Find and copy a dialogue of six or more elliptical sentences, 
supplying in brackets what is understood to make the sense com- 


How shall you know where to end one sentence and begin 
another? As a child, you probably talked like this: 

We went to the zoo and we saw the elephant and he was eating 
his dinner 

and so on until your breath gave out. 

But sentence unity is not a matter of breath, but of or- 
ganization of thought. Observation and reflection show us 
that all things about us are more or less related. The thought 
process is continually discovering new relationships, and con- 
tinually emphasizing, for the purpose of the moment, some 
relationships and ignoring others. In constructing every 
sentence we have an idea, in accordance with which we 
choose such material as we need, and organize it by establish- 
ing proper relationships between the words that contain this 
thought. Sentence unity is not simplicity, but organized 
complexity. Each sentence in a passage should combine a 
group of ideas more closely related to one another, in view of 
the purpose, than to any others expressed in the same connec- 
tion. It should be possible to omit elements in a sentence, or 


to add elements, according to the amount of detail desired; 
but it should never be possible to say : This phrase belongs in 
the sentence before, or in the sentence after; or, This element 
has nothing to do with the predication or any part of it. 

To write unified sentences, you must first learn to answer 
the questions: What ideas am I trying to combine here? 
Have I so welded them that, however numerous and complex, 
they make a single impression, which can be summed up in a 
topic, or as a single predication? 

Let us see how this principle works out in the writing of 
an expert. Read the following paragraph, sentence by sen- 
tence, and note whether each sentence can be summed up 
according to the list of predications given below: 

1. Under the shade of a lonely tree in the courtyard, the villagers 
connected with the assault case sat in a picturesque group, looking 
like a chromo-lithograph of a camp in a book of Eastern travel. 
2. One missed the obligatory thread of smoke in the foreground and 
the pack-animals grazing. 3. A blank yellow wall rose behind, over- 
topping the tree, reflecting the glare. 4. The courtroom was somber, 
seemed more vast. 5. High up in the dim space the punkahs were 
swaying to and fro, to and fro. 6. Here and there a draped 
figure, dwarfed by the bare walls, remained without stirring amongst 
the rows of empty benches, as if absorbed in pious meditation. 
7. The plaintiff, who had been beaten, an obese chocolate-colored 
man with shaved head, one fat breast bare, and bright yellow caste- 
mark above the bridge of his nose, sat in pompous immobility: 
only his eyes glittered, rolling in the gloom, and the nostrils dilated 
and collapsed violently as he breathed. 8. Brierly dropped into 
his seat looking done up, as though he had spent the night in sprint- 
ing on a cinder-track. 9. The pious sailing-ship skipper appeared 
excited and made uneasy movements, as if restraining with diffi- 
culty an impulse to stand up and exhort us earnestly to prayer and 
repentance. 10. The head of the magistrate, delicately pale under 
the neatly arranged hair, resembled the head of a hopeless invalid 
after he had been washed and brushed and propped up in bed. 
11. He moved aside the vase of flowers a bunch of purple with a 
few pink blossoms on long stalks and seizing in both hands a long 
sheet of bluish paper, ran his eye over it, propped his forearms on 


the edge of the desk, and began to read aloud in an even, distinct, 
and careless voice. Joseph Conrad. 

1. The villagers how they looked 

2. What details were missing 

3. The wall how it looked 

4. The courtroom how it looked 

5. The punkahs where and how they were swaying 

6. Visitors how they looked 

7. The plaintiff how he looked 

8. Brierly how he looked 

9. The sailing-ship skipper .... how he looked 

10. The magistrate how he looked 

11. The magistrate how he opened the trial 

In this paragraph the sentences range in length from seven 
words to fifty-six. What determines the stopping-place of 
each? Let us try to combine them differently: 

No. 1. If you stop at group, you break the close connection 
of ideas between picturesque and chromo-lithograph. The 
phrase that begins with looking is the specific interpretation 
of the word picturesque; hence it is absolutely needed to 
make the picture, and belongs in this sentence and no other. 

No. 2. If you try to see at the same moment the things 
that are in a picture and those that are not, what is the re- 
sult? After you have the main outlines of the villagers, the 
author warns you against putting in what is not there. To 
keep from blurring the picture, he makes a fresh sentence. 

No. 3. This cannot be combined with 2 because it goes back 
to the picture in No. 1. 

No. 4. If 4 is combined with 3, you must instantaneously 
shift your point of view from the courtyard to the court- 
room; and neither scene stands out as vividly as if you gave 
it a special effort of attention. Moreover, 3 is the background 
for the picture of the group of villagers. 

No. 5. This might have been combined with 4; but stand- 
ing alone, it gives you time to see the room as a whole before 
your attention is called to any detail. 


No. 6. This could not well have been combined with 5 
because it shifts the view from the walls of the room to the 
benches; nor with 7 because it is the general background 
against which the figure described in 7 is to be placed. 

Nos. 7, 8, 9. Each of these sentences gives all the details 
about a single person in the room. Obviously any combina- 
tion of them would blur each little picture; and any breaking 
up of any of them would require you to piece it together. 

Nos. 10, 11. No. 10 makes a sketch of the magistrate sim- 
ilar to the preceding pictures; and No. 11 is a moving picture 
of how he opened the trial. If 10 and 11 are combined, you 
will not see him clearly before he begins to move. 

If you will try out the changes suggested above, you will 
see that while grammatically it would be possible to reduce 
the number of sentences to six or seven, or to increase it to 
nearly twenty, from the point of view of the subject the 
present number is exactly right. 

We may sum up the problem of sentence content, then, by 
saying that each sentence must be so constructed as to have 
unity; and further, that unity is not a matter of brevity as 
opposed to length, or of simplicity as opposed to complexity, 
but of the welding of ideas on the basis of associations in the 
writer's thought. It is the writer's business to see that these 
associations are at once apparent to his readers. 

As long as this association is sufficient to unify, there is 
theoretically no limit to the length of a sentence. Good 
sentences have been written containing five hundred words. 
Practically, however, three other considerations determine 
sentence length. One is the gradation of emphasis desired. 
If No. 11 in the Conrad passage had been expressed as three 
short sentences, the effect would have been to throw dis- 
proportionate stress on each movement of the magistrate, 

He moved aside the vase of flowers a bunch of purple with a 
few pink blossoms on long stalks. Seizing in both hands a long 


sheet of bluish paper, he ran his eye over it. Then he propped his 
forearms on the edge of the desk, and began to read aloud in an 
even, distinct, and careless voice. 

Such a change would be desirable if the plot in some way 
hinged upon each of these movements; but as they are merely 
background, they should be merged in one sentence. 

A second determinant is the desirability of breaking the 
strain upon the reader's attention at reasonable intervals. 
The pause between sentences, however short, is actually a 
moment of rest; and whenever a subject tends naturally to 
produce long sentences, it is well to make a deliberate effort 
to introduce short sentences for the relief that they give. If 
pages of unrelieved long sentences are fatiguing, not less so 
are pages of unrelieved short sentences, but for a very dif- 
ferent reason: the attention wearies of being jogged by the 
beginning of a fresh sentence every moment or two. The 
best writers learn so to vary their sentences in length that 
the reader's attention is kept alert without being jerked by 
the bit at short intervals. 

The third determinant is the rhythm desired for the passage 
as a whole. This depends upon the subject and purpose in 
writing. A popular article, a speech intended for a mixed 
audience, a story for children these require a rhythm made 
up of many short sentences, with only enough long sentences 
to avoid choppiness. A delicately articulated study or story 
dealing with a subtle or a complex subject would tend to a 
rhythm of much longer units, with only enough short sen- 
tences to avoid monotony. 

A good rule for the student in regard to sentence organiza- 
tion is this: Never make a sentence so long that a person 
reading aloud cannot grasp it as a whole as he goes on, and 
without difficulty give it the proper intonation and shading. 
From twenty to thirty words is a good average length; but 
sentences considerably shorter and considerably longer should 
be introduced now and then as the subject suggests them, or 


the effect will be monotonous. Whenever a sentence runs 
much over thirty words, it should fall into two or more very 
distinctly articulated divisions separated by semicolons, 
which give the reader breathing-space in which to get his 
bearings before he goes further. If you try to read aloud the 
following sentence taken from a standard newspaper, you 
will realize the importance of this caution: 

Under the statutes male spy suspects may be interned in places 
where they can do no harm, pending further investigation, but by 
the unfortunate wording of the President's proclamation, it would 
seem that no such preliminary protective measures short of actual 
arrest may be taken by the secret service against women, who 
thus are enjoying, at this critical stage of the war, a freedom of 
movement that materially handicaps the espionage departments 
and gives to them a supreme advantage in the underworld of spy- 
dom at a time when information as to troop movements and mili- 
tary preparations is of vital concern to Germany. 

How many words does it contain? How many sentences 
should have been made of it? Reconstruct it into the proper 
number of sentences. 


1. Experiment with different combinations and divisions of 
sentences in the following extract until you are convinced that 
each sentence includes only what is relevant to it, and stops where 
it should; or until you have been able to improve it: 

" There are times and moods in which it is revealed to us, or to a 
few among us, that we are a survival of the past, a dying remnant 
of a vanished people, and are like strangers and captives among 
those who do not understand us, and have no wish to do so; whose 
language and customs and thoughts are not ours. That 'world- 
strangeness,' which William Watson and his fellow-poets prattle 
in rhyme about, those, at all events, who have what they call the 
'note of modernity' in their pipings, is not in me as in them. The 
blue sky, the brown soil beneath, the grass, the trees, the animals, 
the wind, and rain, and sun, and stars are never strange to me; 
for I am in and of and am one with them; and my flesh and the soil 
are one, and the heat in my blood and in the sunshine are one, and 


the winds and tempests and my passions are one. I feel the 'strange- 
ness' only in regard to my fellow-men, especially in towns, where 
they exist in conditions unnatural to me, but congenial to them; 
where they are seen in numbers and in crowds, in streets and houses, 
and in all places where they gather together; when I look at them, 
their pale civilized faces, their clothes, and hear them eagerly talk- 
ing about things that do not concern me. They are out of my 
world the real world. All that they value, and seek and strain 
after all their lives long, their works and sports and pleasures, are 
the merest baubles and childish things; and their ideals are all 
false, and nothing but by-products, or growths, of the artificial life 
little funguses cultivated in heated cellars. 

"In such moments we sometimes feel a kinship with, and are 
strangely drawn to, the dead, who were not as these; the long, 
long dead, the men who knew not life in towns, and felt no strange- 
ness in sun and wind and rain. In such a mood on that evening 
I went to one of those lonely barrows; one that rises to a height 
of nine or ten feet above the level heath, and is about fifty yards 
round. It is a garden in the brown desert, covered over with a 
dense growth of furze bushes, still in flower, mixed with bramble 
and elder and thorn, and heather in great clumps, blooming, too, 
a month before its time, the fiery purple-red of its massed blossoms, 
and of a few tall, tapering spikes of foxglove, shining against the 
vivid green of the young bracken. 

" All this rich, wild vegetation on that lonely mound on the brown 

'* Here, sheltered by the bushes, I sat and saw the sun go down, 
and the long twilight deepen till the oak woods of Beaulieu in the 
west looked black on the horizon, and the stars came out: in spite 
of the cold that made me shiver in my thin clothes, I sat there for 
hours, held by the silence and solitariness of that mound of the 
ancient dead." W. H. Hudson. 

2. Copy from some magazine or newspaper a paragraph or part 
of a paragraph (not less than 300 words); and bring it to class for 
discussion of the sentences and possible improvements. 

3. Collect some facts as to sentence length in current prose. At 
least two students should count the same pages in order to verify 
results. Count at least six pages, two by each of three authors in 
some magazine. The following magazines and periodicals are 
suggested: Atlantic Monthly, Nation, Outlook, New Republic, Har- 
per's, Century, Scribner's, Unpopular Review, English Review, 
Forum, North American Review. 

Do not use passages that contain dialogue. 



The movement of the sentence from its starting-point to 
its goal is a continuous process of modification, in which 
both single words and word groups of various lengths take 
part. This you will see at once if you read slowly the follow- 
ing paragraph, in which you find a dash after each single- word 
or group modifier, and in which the subjects and the pred- 
icates of the principal clauses are in bold-faced type, and the 
connective words in italics: 

On all this part of the coast, and especially near Aros, these 
great granite rocks that I have spoken of go down together 
in troops into the sea, like cattle on a summer's day. 
There they stand for all the world like their neighbors ashore; 
only the salt water sobbing between them instead of the 
quiet earth, and clots of sea-pink blooming on their sides 
instead of heather; and the great sea-conger to wreathe 
about the base of them instead of the poisonous viper of the 
land. On calm days you can go wandering between them 
in a boat for hours, echoes following you about the labyrinth; 
but when the sea is up, Heaven help the man that hears that 
cauldron boiling. Stevenson. 

If now you read the paragraph again, this time ignoring 
the pauses marked by the dashes, you will see how gradually 
and continuously all the modifiers merge into one another 
and blend with the subject and predicate to form in each 
sentence a unified impression. The thought veers slightly 
as it moves, but none the less, like a good ship, pushes on 
steadily toward the goal for which it set out. 

It is a good rule to be sparing in the use of modifiers to 
use them only when the subject substantive and the predicate 
verb cannot express the thought as fully and accurately as 
you wish. Often a single strong noun or verb can be sub- 
stituted for a weak noun plus an adjective, and a vigorous 
verb for a colorless verb plus an adverb, and with decided 
gain in economy, neatness, and force. Compare the follow- 
ing pairs of sentences : 


A loud shouting quickly passed through the crowd, 

A hullabaloo rocked the crowd. 

The wild country separated them entirely from their fellows, 

Wilderness shut them from their fellows. 

On the other hand, when modifiers are necessary they 
should be so chosen that each makes a definite contribution to 
the idea, which could not be spared without great loss in 
effectiveness. In describing unfamiliar things, it is especially 
important to use specific, accurate, concrete, and suggestive 
words. Note the extraordinary skill with which nouns are 
modified and left unmodified in the following: 

Dark human shapes could be made out in the distance, flitting 
indistinctly against the gloomy border of the forest, and near the 
river two bronze figures, leaning on tall spears, stood in the sunlight 
under fantastic head-dresses of spotted skins, warlike and still in 
statuesque repose. And from right to left along the lighted shore 
moved a wild and gorgeous apparition of a woman. 

She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed 
cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of 
barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was 
done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, 
brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny 
cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre 
things, charms, gifts of witch-men, that hung about her, glittered 
and trembled at every step. Joseph Conrad. 

Dark human shapes = negroes but with the change the 
sense of mystery is gone. 

Bronze figures = negroes but the picture is gone. 
Walked with measured step = paced but the emphasis is lost. 
A crimson spot, etc. = she was painted but the picture be- 
comes vague in color. 


Where a single word does the work, there is no modifier: 
Note: slight jingle and flash; and helmet over against innu- 
merable necklaces of glass beads. 

Skill in effective phrasing means perpetual considera- 
tion and balancing of the bare noun or verb over against 
noun or verb with modifiers. If you are speaking of familiar 
things, you must either omit modifiers, or use such as will 
make the familiar seem fresh or interesting. If you are speak- 
ing of unfamiliar things, you will do well to use modifiers that 
appeal to the reader's experience, and so stimulate his imag- 
ination to grasp the unknown. 

In general, if a modifier can be omitted without making 
much difference in the effect of the sentence, let it go. Avoid 
particularly expressions so hackneyed that the modifier can 
scarcely be torn from the noun (see Appendix, p. 494), and 
the meaningless use of the adverb very. And again, get rid 
of the idea that every noun must be accompanied by an 
adjective and every verb by an adverb, which results in 
pairing off like this: 

One sunny morning 

a pretty girl 

was busily gathering 

fragrant violets 

along the shady road 

near the babbling brook 

that ran noisily 

through the green valley 

Nothing is more fatal to freshness and good rhythm in writing 
than this mechanical balance in modification. 

The best way to learn when and how to use modifiers is to 
study the practice of careful writers. If your tendency is to 
overload your work with adjectives and adverbs, they will 
teach you how to prune; if your style is bald, they will show 
you how to add the right word in the right place. 



1. Analyze the use of modifiers in the passage on p. 65. 

2. Read for an hour something by one of the following writers: 
Kipling, Stevenson, Henry James, Meredith, Joseph Conrad, W. D. 
Howells, W. H. Hudson, John Galsworthy, or H. G. Wells, and note 
on cards, with page references, especially effective uses of modifiers. 
If you find any that seem to you ineffective, or even bad, note 
these on separate cards. Discuss your notes in class. 

3. Repeat the exercise with the work of an unfamiliar author; 
and in class discussion form some conclusion as to his merit in this 


You cannot write good sentences until you understand 
the relationship between sentence structure and punctuation. 

Let us take first the simple sentence, in which the only 
mark we need now be concerned with is the comma. 

The close-knit simple sentence with every element standing 
in its normal position may proceed to a considerable length 
without the use of a single comma (as in this case 25 words). 
And before we begin to discuss the introduction of commas, 
note that the use of a single comma between subject and 
predicate interrupts the passing over of the thought which is 
the essential feature of the sentence: 

The roads, became impassable. 

For this punctuation there is no possible excuse. But the 
error is especially likely to occur when the subject of the 
sentence is a long group of words. 

The origin of the error perhaps lies in a failure to grasp 
the difference in effect between one comma and two 
commas. One comma separates; two commas set apart a 
group of words as forming a sort of island around which 
the stream of thought may flow without interruption. 
Consequently, whenever a long modifier is placed between 
the subject and the predicate, it is set off from the rest of 
the sentence by two commas. This promotes clearness and 


does not bar the progress of the thought from subject to 
predicate : 

The roads, about 'd week 'after the troops had been moved, became 

Aside from this special case, the use of the comma in the 
simple sentence may be discussed in connection with: (1) in- 
dependent elements; (2) adjective modifiers; and (3) adver- 
bial modifiers. 

Independent elements, that is, elements that modify the 
sentence as a whole, should always be separated from the 
rest of the sentence, usually by a comma or commas. Such 
elements are: 

1. Vocatives, which address the thought to some person: 

You, Gertrude, ought to know. 

You are mistaken, my friend. 

Tell me, all you who work for your bread, is this fair? 

2. Adverbs intensifying or qualifying the predication: 

Yes, I know. 

You will accept, of course. 

This is all, naturally. 

On the whole, it is a good plan. 

3. Transitional words, phrases or clauses : 

To sum up, we cannot afford to do it. 
Finally, the plan would be unpopular. 
As I said before, it won't do. 

4. Interjections: 

Oh, what a day! 

For heaven s sake, be careful ! 

When, however, the emphasis is shifted from the whole sen- 
tence to the interjection itself, an exclamation mark should 
be used instead of the comma: 

Oh! what a day that was. 
For heaven's sake! be careful. 

See Appendix, p. 447. 


When an adjective modifier, word or phrase, standing 
in its normal position immediately before or after the sub- 
stantive, is regarded as essential to the meaning of the sub- 
stantive, it should never be separated from it by a comma: 

The president of the United States. 
The Man with the Hoe. 
The Research Magnificent. 

But when such a modifier is non-essential, that is, when it 
contains an idea to which the reader's attention is directed 
as distinct from the substantive modified, with more or less 
emphasis, it should be separated from its substantive by a 

Frightened, the horse bolted. 

The horse, frightened by the noise, bolted. 

The appositive is a noun which performs a function very 
similar to that of the non-essential adjective. It always 
follows the substantive with which it stands in apposition, 
and is set off by a comma or commas from the rest of the 

The committee consists of Mr. Lloyd, the president of the society, 
Mr. Perkins, our minister, and Mr. Howell, the banker. 

When two or more adjectives modify the same noun, first 
consider whether they separately modify the noun, or whether 
some of them blend with others to modify it. When you 
wish each to modify the noun and to convey a distinct im- 
pression apart from the others, insert commas; where there 
is no comma, it is understood that all the adjectives blend to 
form a single impression that they represent, as it were, a 
single adjective. Thus: 

He wore a low-crowned, broad-brimmed, light gray felt hat. 

Here low-crowned and broad-brimmed give separate impres- 
sions, while light modifies gray, and gray modifies felt, and the 
blended impression light-gray-felt modifies hat. 


Again : A hard little green apple = a hard-little-green (i. e., unripe) 

When the adjectives are connected by conjunctions, no 
commas are needed unless great emphasis is to be thrown 
on each separate impression: 

Good men and true; a punishment cruel and unusual; blue and 
green feathers. 


Very charitable was the lady, humble, and gracious, and soft- 

The members of a series of adjective phrases modifying the 
same noun must always be separated from one another by 

With a ribbon in her hair, a flower in her sash, and gay buckles 
on her shoes, the little girl danced into the room. 

While adjective modifiers are usually held close to the 
substantive that they modify, adverbial modifiers move 
freely about the sentence. Sometimes, for the sake of em- 
phasis or transition, they begin the sentence; sometimes, for 
the sake of rhythm, they stand between subject and predicate; 
sometimes, they are separated from the verb that they 
modify and placed at the very end of the sentence. 

The general rule for adverbs and adverbial phrases is that 
when they are essential modifiers and stand next to the word 
that they modify, they should not be separated from it by 
a comma. If, however, they are non-essential and more or 
less emphatic, the comma may be used: 

I usually have tea in the afternoon. 
Except in bad weather I walk, usually. 

But when the adverb is dislocated separated from the 
word that it modifies, it must always be set apart by a comma 
or commas if there is any possibility of misunderstanding: 

Within, the house was a marvelous picture. 
Within the house was a marvelous picture. 


Again, the comma may be used when special emphasis 
is desired for the adverb : 

Obviously you are overworking. 
Obviously, you are overworking. 

The members of a series of adverbs or adverbial phrases 
should always be separated by commas: 

Silently, noiselessly, breathlessly, they crept along. 
An industrial feudalism was dreamed of by Saint-Simon, by 
Comte, and by Carlyle. 

We may perhaps sum up the punctuation of the simple 
sentence thus : As long as the thought progresses with normal 
emphasis, and the modifiers need no more attention than they 
get as essential to the words that they modify, the sentence 
moves forward without commas; but when the thought is 
interrupted, for the sake of emphasizing certain aspects of 
it, and in the process certain elements of the sentence are 
dislocated, the grouping of the words must be shown by the 
commas that serve both to unify and to separate. Two com- 
mas unify into a group the words that they inclose; a single 
comma separates the two words between which it stands. 

The tendency to-day is to use as few commas as are con- 
sistent with perfect clearness. 

The principles for the punctuation of the simple sentence 
apply to the interior punctuation of the clauses of compound 
and complex sentences; the connection of these clauses with 
one another requires special discussion. 


1. Justify each use of the comma in the following sentences: 

(1) "He was a rough, cold, gloomy man." 

(2) "He was a sour, small, bilious man, with a long face and 
very dark eyes; fifty-six years old, sound and active in body, and 
with an air somewhat between that of a shepherd and that of a 
man following the sea." 

(3) "Flake after flake descended out of the black night air, 
silent, circuitous, interminable." 


(4) "The poet was a rag of a man, dark, little, and lean, with 
hollow cheeks and thin black locks." 

(5) "It was an eloquent, sharp, ugly, earthly countenance." 

(6) "He had forgotten all fear of the patrol, . . . and had no 
idea but that of his lost purse." 

(7) "A tall figure of a man, muscular and spare, but a little 
bent, confronted Villon." 

(8) "The head was massive in bulk, but finely sculptured; the 
nose blunt at the bottom, but refining upward to where it joined 
a pair of strong and honest eyebrows; the mouth and eyes sur- 
rounded with delicate markings, and the whole face based upon 
a thick white beard, boldly and squarely trimmed. ... It looked 
perhaps nobler than it had a right to do ... it was a fine face, 
honorable rather than intelligent, strong, simple, and righteous." 

(9) "He preceded the poet upstairs into a large apartment, 
warmed with a pan of charcoal and lit by a great lamp hanging 
from the roof. . . . Some smart tapestry hung upon the walls, 
representing the crucifixion of our Lord in one piece, and in another 
a scene of shepherds and shepherdesses by a running stream." 


(10) "He was sixty if a day; a little man, with a broad, not very 
straight back, with bowed shoulders and one leg more bandy than 
the other, he had that queer twisted-about appearance you see so 
often in men who work in the fields. He had a nut-cracker face 
chin and nose trying to come together over a sunken mouth and 
it was framed in iron-gray fluffy hair, looking like a chin-strap of 
cotton-wool sprinkled with coal-dust. And he had blue eyes in 
that old face of his, amazingly like a boy's, with that candid ex- 
pression some quite common men preserve to the end of their days 
by a rare internal gift of simplicity of heart and rectitude of soul." 

Joseph Conrad. 

2. Try the effect of changing the punctuation of the passages 
just given wherever it seems to you that commas might be omitted 
or inserted. 

3. Summarize in about 100 words, in language as different as 
possible from that used in this section, your understanding of the 
use of the comma in connection with modifiers. 


A special problem in the punctuation of the simple sentence 
is introduced when we have a series of two or more substan- 
tives used as one substantive, or a series of verbs used to- 
gether in the predicate. 


When only two words are so used together, they are simply 
connected by a conjunction. In the following example all 
the elements are dual: 

Charlton-and-I met-and-dined with the-Grants-and-the-Lees. 

When, however, more than two words are used together as 
a series, the problem becomes more difficult. The following 
sentences are all correctly punctuated, but each conveys a 
different effect from the others: 

1. I liked best the pumas and the leopards and the jaguars. 
Here the three nouns are as closely connected as possible. 

2. I liked best the pumas, the leopards, and the jaguars. 

Here the image evoked by each noun is rather more distinct; 
and the and between the last two members of the series shows 
that no more animals are to be mentioned. 

3. I liked best the pumas, and the leopards, and the jaguars. 
Here there is a distinct pause after each noun. 

4. I was most interested in the pumas, the leopards, the jaguars. 

Here only the position of the nouns shows that they form 
a series; each member is viewed separately. 

From these examples, you see that the comma alone sep- 
arates most distinctly; and alone connects most closely; while 
midway between these extremes we find the usual method 
of dealing with a multiple element, which is to use commas 
alone except between the last two members where and is in- 
serted to show that the end of the series has been reached. 

Some writers omit the comma when and is used between 
the last two members; but this practice is not to be com- 
mended unless the last two members are to be more closely 
connected than the others, as: 

We had a boiled egg, fruit, bread and butter. 
As the sentence stands, it means that the bread was buttered; 


if the comma is inserted, the meaning is that the bread and 
butter were two separate articles : 

We had a boiled egg, fruit, bread, and butter. 

By the manipulation of commas and conjunctions you can 
either blend the members of a multiple subject, or predicate, 
or any other element, so that they will make a unified im- 
pression; or so separate them that each individual part of 
the multiple will receive any degree of emphasis that you 
wish to give it. 


1. Punctuate the following sentences in every way that is per- 
missible, both with and without conjunctions; and discuss the dif- 
ferent effects that you obtain: 

(1) The Grants and the Lees will meet at the Belmont and dine 
at seven. 

(2) The scarlet crimson purple bronze lemon-colored autumn 
leaves overarched the road. 

(3) "A pair of swing doors gives admittance to a hall with a 
carved roof, hung with legal portraits, adorned with legal statuary, 
lighted by windows of painted glass, and warmed by three vast 
fires." Stevenson. 

(4) "Two inset cupboards were filled with glass and china. 
There were four Chippendale chairs and an oval Sheraton table, 
curtains of purple silk, some old English water-colors, and two 
candlesticks of Sheffield plate." Compton Mackenzie. 

(5) "Geoffrey Day's storehouse at the back of his dwelling was 
hung with bunches of dried horehound, mint, and sage, brown- 
paper bags of thyme and lavender, and long ropes of clean onions. 
On shelves were spread large red and yellow apples, and choice 
selections of early potatoes for seed next year." Hardy. 

2. Explain the use or omission of commas and conjunctions in 
the following: 

(1) "O youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination 
of it! To me she was not an old rattle-trap carting about the world 
a lot of coal for a freight to me she was the endeavor, the test, 
the trial of life. . . ." Joseph Conrad. 

(2) "The sky was a miracle of purity, a miracle of azure. The 
sea was polished, was blue, was pellucid, was sparkling like a precious 


stone, extending on all sides, all round to the horizon as if the 
whole terrestrial globe had been one jewel, one colossal sapphire, a 
single gem fashioned into a planet." Joseph Conrad. 

(3) "The first thing I did was to put my head down the square 
of the midship ventilator. As I lifted the lid a visible breath, some- 
thing like a thin fog, a puff of faint haze, rose from the opening. 
The ascending air was hot, and had a heavy, sooty, paramny smell. 
I gave one sniff, and put down the lid gently. It was no use choking 
myself. The cargo was on fire." Joseph Conrad. 

3. Analyze and discuss the use and omission of conjunctions 
and commas in the following; the same principles hold in compound 
and complex sentences as in simple: 

"It was a day of the unmatchable clear jEgean spring; Samothrace 
and Euboea were stretched out in the sunset like giants watching 
the chess, waiting, it seemed, almost like human things, as they 
had waited for the fall of Troy and the bale-fires of Agamemnon. 
Those watchers saw the dotted order of our advance stretching 
across the Peninsula, moving slowly forward, and halting and 
withering away, among fields of flowers of spring and the young 
corn that would never come to harvest. They saw the hump of 
Achi Baba flicker and burn and roll up to heaven in a swathe of 
blackness, and multitudinous brightness changing the face of the 
earth, and the dots of our line still coming, still moving forward, 
and halting and withering away, but still moving up among the 
flashes and the darkness, more men, and yet more men, from the 
fields of sacred France, from the darkness of Senegal, from sheep- 
runs at the ends of the earth, from blue-gum forests, and sunny 
islands, places of horses and good fellows, from Irish pastures and 
glens, and from many a Scotch and English city and village and 
quiet farm; they went on and they went on, up ridges blazing with 
explosion into the darkness of death. Sometimes, as the light failed, 
and peak after peak that had been burning against the sky grew 
rigid as the color faded, the darkness of the great blasts hid sec- 
tions of the line, but when the darkness cleared they were still 
there, line after line of dots, still more, still moving forward and 
halting and withering away, and others coming, and halting and 
withering away, and others following, as though those lines were 
not flesh and blood and breaking nerve but some tide of the sea 
coming in waves that fell yet advanced, that broke a little further, 
and gained some yards in breaking, and were then followed, and 
slowly grew, that halted and seemed to wither, and then gathered 
and went on, till night covered those moving dots, and the great 
slope was nothing but a blackness spangled with the flashes of 
awful fire." John Masefield. 



The compound sentence is a series of simple sentences 
joined in one. It is to be distinguished from the simple sen- 
tence with multiple subject and predicate by the fact that 
it is a series of clauses, that is, of pairs of subject-and- 
predicate. In the following: 

Ethel-and-Frances (multiple subject) played-and-sang (multiple 
predicate) for us, 

although both subject and predicate are compound, the 
sentence itself is simple because it contains but one predica- 
tion; it might have been expressed: 

My sisters (single subject) gave us music (single predicate), 
Ethel (single subject) played (single predicate), and Frances 
(single subject) sang (single predicate) for us. 

Here the sentence is compound because it contains a pair of 
clauses : Ethel-played Frances-sang. 

In the compound sentence each element of a clause may, 
of course, be either simple or compound : 

Ethel-and-Frances play-and-sing; but Margaret dances well. 

In a compound sentence all the clauses are independent, 
and could by the omission of the conjunctions, and the sub- 
stitution of end punctuation marks (. ? !) for interior punc- 
tuation marks (, ;) be converted into a succession of simple 
sentences. But do not suppose that any group whatever of 
simple sentences can be combined to form a compound sen- 
tence. The basic principle on which every compound sen- 
tence must be constructed is parallelism; that is, as all the 
clauses are coordinate similar in structure so they must be 
correlative in content and similar in form. 

To be correlative in content, all the clauses should develop 
ideas of approximately the same importance. Only for pur- 
poses of humor is the coordination of important and unim- 
portant ideas permissible. 


In serious writing all the lesser ideas should be rigorously 
subordinated expressed in dependent clauses or in phrases. 

As a rule, all the clauses of a compound sentence should 
express the same kind of idea: concrete or abstract; specific or 
general; literal or figurative. In the following sentence the 
first clause is concrete and specific, and the second is abstract 
and general, with the effect that the second shows a distinct 
falling off in interest. Compare the second version, in which 
every detail in the second clause is as specific and as concrete 
as in the first: 

The ripple of the wind in the foliage stirred my pulses and the 
beauty of the scene moved me strangely. 

The ripple of the wind in the foliage stirred my pulses, and a 
sudden glimpse of the green and golden plain that rolled away to a 
purple horizon of sea set my blood spinning with delight. 

In a compound sentence involving figures, a single figure 
may be carried through all the clauses, or a succession of 
slightly felt and not disturbingly incongruous figures may be 

The snow lay on the beach to the tide-mark. It was daubed on 
to the sills of the ruin; it roosted in the crannies of the rock like 
white sea-birds; even on outlying reefs there would be a little cock 
of snow, like a toy lighthouse. Everything was grey and white in 
a cold and dolorous sort of shepherd's plaid. Stevenson. 

A single slight figure may also be introduced into one clause 
and not into the others: 

The feathers swept; the wings spread out as sails that take the wind. 

Algernon Blackwood. 

In trying to make the clauses of compound sentences 
correlative in content, note that they are most commonly 
used for holding different classes of things side by side: 

1. Details of a description of approximately the same im- 

Clumps of fruit-trees marked the villages; slim palms put their 
nodding heads together above the low houses; dried palm-leaf 


roofs shone afar, like roofs of gold, behind the dark colonnade of 
tree-trunks; figures passed vivid and vanishing; the smoke of fires 
stood upright above the masses of flowering bushes; bamboo fences 
glittered, running away in broken lines between the fields. 

Joseph Conrad. 

2. Simultaneous or successive events of about the same 

A small cloud passes over the face of the Moon, and the city and 
its inhabitants clear drawn in black and white before fade into 
masses of black and deeper black. Kipling. 

There was a sharp clink of glass bracelets ; a woman's arm showed 
for an instant above the parapet, twined itself round the lean little 
neck, and the child was dragged back, protesting, to the shelter of 
the bedstead. Kipling. 

It is also true, however, that any relationship expressed 
by the subordinate clauses of a complex sentence may, for 
the sake of emphasis, be coordinated as a clause of a com- 
pound sentence: In the following examples, you will find the 
relationships of cause and effect, condition, concession, and 
so on: 

Some poor soul has risen to throw a jar of water over his fevered 
body; the tinkle of the falling water strikes faintly on the ear 
(meaning, as some poor soul, etc.). Kipling. 

The open square in front of the Mosque is crowded with corpses; 
and a man must pick his way carefully for fear of treading on them 
(meaning, since the open square, etc.). Kipling. 

"Feed a cold and starve a fever" (meaning, // you feed a cold, 
you will be obliged to starve a fever). 

A ray of sunlight fell across the face of the sleeper; he did not 
stir (meaning, although a ray, etc.). 

As a rule, students tend to use too many 'compound 
sentences. They are particularly fond of the vague articula- 
tion of clauses by means of so, and and so. This form of 
connection covers so many relationships that it conveys no 
definite meaning beyond that of mere succession. For this 
reason you should avoid it altogether until you have become 


expert in subordination. This point will be discussed further 
in connection with the complex sentence. 

The clauses of a compound sentence should be parallel in 
form as well as in content. To secure this parallelism, they 
should all as a rule be declarative, or interrogative, or ex- 
clamatory. Occasionally, to express a sudden turn of thought 
or a contrast, the second of two clauses may be interrogative, 
when the first is declarative: 

He owes all his success to me; but what difference does that make? 

But the declarative and exclamatory forms, and the interrog- 
ative and exclamatory forms should never be combined by 
the inexperienced writer. The following example is a typ- 
ically ineffective student sentence: 

The children danced; and oh, how they laughed! 

Further, the sentence elements subject, predicate, mod- 
ifiers within each clause should occupy relatively the same 
position as in every other. All the sentences quoted above 
illustrate this point. 

Occasionally, to point a contrast, the order in two clauses 
is exactly reversed; but to be effective, this arrangement 
must be apparent at a glance, thus: 

For the country people to see Edinburgh on her hilltops, is one 
thing; it is another for the citizen, from the thick of his affairs, to 
overlook the country. Stevenson. 

The punctuation between the clauses of a compound sen- 
tence follows the rule for punctuating the members of a 
series of words, except that when commas are required for any 
reason within the clauses, semicolons are often used to mark 
the larger divisions of the thought. 

The rules may perhaps be summed up thus: 
1. Short, simple clauses may be connected by a conjunc- 
tion alone, or by a conjunction and comma, according to the 
degree of separation desired: \ 


I like Meredith but Grace does not. 
I like Meredith, but Grace does not. 

It is not advisable to use the comma alone. If decided dis- 
junction is desired, even in a short sentence the semicolon 
is better: 

I like Meredith; Grace does not. 

2. In a series of short, simple clauses in which no commas 
are required for internal punctuation, the usual rules for 
punctuating a series hold, except that the conjunction alone 
does not always serve to distinguish between the clauses of a 
compound sentence and compound elements in a simple 

The storm rattled windows and doors everywhere blew shut. 

For this reason, we may use either commas alone, with a 
single and between the last two clauses, or commas and con- 
junctions throughout: 

The rain hissed, it gurgled, and it foamed in a torrent along the 

The rain hissed, and the wind boomed in the rigging, and the 
occasional crash of a wave over our heads drowned speech. 

3. Whenever commas are needed for interior punctuation, 
the clauses themselves must be separated by semicolons. 
Many of the compound sentences quoted above illustrate this 

4. Whenever strong emphasis is desired for each clause in 
turn, semicolons may be used without regard to interior 

The clauses of an interrogative or an exclamatory com- 
pound sentence may be separated by commas when the 
emphasis of question or exclamation is on the sentence as a 
whole; but when it is desirable to stress each clause, the ques- 
tion mark, or exclamation mark may be placed after each 
clause as well as at the end of the sentence: 


Have you had the sea under your windows at Mentone? have 
you sniffed its heliotrope hedges in mid-winter? have you basked in 
the olive gardens that warm its encompassing foothills? have you 
penetrated the long narrow valleys that lead away to the bare high 
Alps? and have you dreamed in the Arab villages that crown their 
isolated peaks? 

How I have wondered what those ancient men really thought! 
how I have pored over the few relics of their armor, their ornaments, 
their household wares, for a glimpse into their minds! how I have 
pondered over scraps of their writing and lingered among the ruins 
of their dwelling places! 


1. Explain the structure of the following sentences, and show 
by experiment that the use of punctuation marks and of conjunc- 
tions is in each case right. Distinguish between the comma and 
the semicolon, and note where the conjunction is used and where 

"Last night it was a fordable shallow; tonight five miles of raving 
muddy water parted bank and caving bank, and the river was still 
rising under the moon." Kipling. 

"With Wednesday, the week stirs itself, turns over, begins to 
wake. There are matine'es on Wednesday; on Wednesday some of 
the more genial weekly papers come out. . . . On Monday they 
[friends] may not have returned from the country; on Friday they 
have begun to go out of town again; but on Wednesday they are 
here, at home are solid. . . . 

" On Thursday the week falls back a little; the stirring of Wednes- 
day is forgotten; there is a return to the folding of the hands. . . . 
There is nothing strong and downright and fine about it. ... 

" Wednesday is calm, assured, urbane; Friday allows itself to be a 
little flurried and excited. Wednesday stands alone; Friday to 
some extent throws in its lot with Saturday. . . . Too many 
papers come out, too many bags are packed, on Friday. . . . 
But Saturday and Sunday are what we individually make of them. 
In one family they are friends, associates; in another as ill-assorted 
as Socrates and Xantippe. For most of us Saturday is not exactly 
a day at all, it is a collection of hours, part work, part pleasure and 
all restlessness. . . . 

" Sunday even more than Saturday is different as people are dif- 
ferent. To the godly it is a day of low tones; its minutes go by 
muffled; to the children of the godly it is eternity. . . . 

" To one man it is the interruption of the week; to another it is 


the week itself, and all the rest of the days are but preparations 
for it." E. V. Lucas. 

2. Punctuate the following sentences: 

"A strapping girl with high cheek bones and a broad dark comely 
face washed plates and glasses assiduously and two waiters with 
eyes as near together as a monkey's served the customers with be- 
wildering intelligence. . . . Meanwhile every one shouted the 
naphtha flared the drums beat the horses champed. . . . 

" And then the shifting flames came gradually into a mass and 
took a steady upward progress and the melancholy strains of an 
ancient ecclesiastical lamentation reached our listening ears. . . . 
On the bridge I found a little band of Roman soldiers on horseback 
without stirrups and had a few words with one of them as to his 
anachronistic cigarette and then the first torches arrived carried 
by proud boys in red. . . . 

"... This car was drawn by an ancient white horse amiable and 
tractable as a saint but as bewildered as I as to the meaning of the 
whole strange business. . . . And after them the painted plaster 
Virgin carried as upright as possible and then more torches and 
the wailing band and after the band another guard of Roman 
soldiers." E. V. Lucas. 

3. Find and study all the compound sentences on p. 186 of this 
book. Try the effect of breaking them into simple sentences, and 
discuss the punctuation of each as it stands. Criticize them with 
respect to parallelism, by answering the questions: Are the ideas 
expressed in the parallel clauses of the same general kind literal or 
figurative? abstract or concrete? general or specific? Are they of 
approximately the same degree of importance? 

4. In the same passage see whether you can find any groups of 
two or three simple sentences that might have been combined into 
a single compound sentence. Combine them, and decide whether 
the change is an improvement or not. 


A complex sentence is constructed by subordinating one 
simple sentence to another. This produces a form with one 
principal clause, and one or more subordinate clauses used 
as substantives, as adjectives, or as adverbs. 

Thus we may make two simple sentences to express two 


It is snowing. It is a pity. 

Or we may combine these observations into a complex sen- 
tence by subordinating the less important: 
It is a pity thai it is snowing. 

Here the sentence it is snowing is converted into a clause 
subordinated by means of the conjunction that, and used as a 
substantive in apposition with the subject it. The clause 
might have been used as the subject itself: 

That it is snowing is a pity. 

Again, we may say: 

This tree is a sycamore. It has white patches on its trunk. 

Or we may combine these two simple sentences by sub- 
ordinating the less important thus : 

This tree, which has white patches on its trunk, is a sycamore. 

Here the subordinate clause is subordinated and connected 
by the relative pronoun which, and is used as an adjective 
modifying tree. 

We may, if we please, subordinate the other idea thus: 

This tree, which is a sycamore, has white patches on its trunk. 

Again, we may say: 

I am sitting in the sunshine. It is warm here. 

These two observations may be combined into a complex 
sentence by subordinating either, to throw emphasis on the 

I am sitting in the sunshine where it is warm; 

Where I am sitting in the sunshine, it is warm. 

In each case the relative adverb where connects with the prin- 
cipal clause a subordinate clause used as an adverb modifying 
a verb. 


A complex sentence may have any number of subordinate 
clauses, but only one principal clause. 

A compound sentence may also be modified by subordinate 
clauses in the same way as a simple sentence, and is then 
called compound-complex. 

The complex and compound-complex sentences involve 
exactly the same problems of Composition, and can be dis- 
cussed together. 

For further discussion of the grammar of the complex 
sentence, see Appendix VIII. 

The problems in constructing the complex sentence are: 

1. What shall be subordinated? 

2. How shall the subordinate clauses be constructed and 

3. How shall they be arranged with reference to one 
another and to the principal clause? 

1. To secure correct subordination, it is sometimes nec- 
essary to stop and ask yourself: Which is the idea that I 
wish to emphasize? Answer this, and subordinate the other 
ideas. Unless you take this trouble, you will often find your- 
self inadvertently twisting the emphasis of your sentence, thus : 

I was in France when I saw a fight in the air. 
The chances are that you mean: 

When I was in France I saw a fight in the air. 

Which idea is emphatic? the fight or the place of the observer? 
The when belongs before the less important clause. 

Note particularly this twist in subordination in the so- 
type of sentence, beloved by students : 

It was raining, so I did not go. 

This sentence is neither compound nor complex. You should 
make the clauses clearly coordinate, or should subordinate 
one to the other according to the emphasis that you desire. 
The following are all correct: 


As it was raining I did not go (complex). 
It was raining so that I did not go (complex). 
It was raining; and so I did not go (compound). 

The so-sentence is a slipshod avoidance of responsibility, and 
should be shunned entirely. 

There is theoretically no limit to the number of subordinate 
clauses that may be introduced into a complex sentence: 

That the woman who lost all the money she had in the world could not 
remember whai the denominations of the bills were is a pity, because 
the man who found the amount she said she. had lost was willing that 
she should have it if she could prove that she had passed near the place 
where he found it and could identify the bills that he had found. 

Only three words the predicate is a pity stand outside 
a subordinate clause. This sentence is unbearably clumsy. 
It can be improved by introducing phrases here and there. 
It does not, however, commit the most serious fault in sub- 
ordination, which is the use of the same connective words to 
introduce clauses of different degrees of subordination; that 
is, clauses that are structural elements in the principal clauses, 
and clauses that modify subordinate clauses, thus: 

This is the man wJto captured a spy who was disguised as a woman 
who was driving an ambulance. 

This House-that-Jack-built type of sentence should be care- 
fully avoided. If the most important idea next to that of the 
principal clause is expressed as a subordinate clause, all the 
ideas that are still more subordinate should be reduced to 
phrases or words, if possible. Note the gain in clearness and 
compactness : 

This is the man who captured a spy disguised as a woman ambu- 
lance driver. 

In general, guard against too many subordinate clauses. 
Make sure that your most important idea is contained in the 
principal clause, and keep as subordinate clauses only such 
modifying ideas as do not easily and naturally reduce to 
phrases or words. 


2. Subordinate clauses that have the same function in the 
sentence must be constructed on the same plan; that is, if 
they modify in the same way the same word, or words in 
parallel construction, they must be introduced by the same 
connective and this repeated for the sake of clearness 
with their structural elements in the same order: 

When we have levelled overwhelming disparities of wealth, when 
we have opened the door of opportunity to every human creature, 
when we have eliminated ideals of aggrandizing the unit-man at 
the expense of the whole then we are at the beginning of the 
problems of socialism. 

The punctuation of the subordinate clause depends upon 
its function in the sentence. As substantive subject or object 
it should follow the rule for single-word substantives, and 
should not be separated from the verb by a comma. Such 
a comma interrupts the movement of the thought: 

That he is so weak is a pity. 
It is a pity that he is so weak. 
We heard that they had gone. 
He asked where you were. 

Some writers insert a comma after a subject clause of 
great length, and after one ending in the same verb as the 
predicate; but the comma is not necessary in either case: 

Who laughs laughs at his peril. 

The substantive clause in apposition, however, following 
the rule for appositives, should always be set off by commas : 

This news, that he was a prisoner, was the first word that we had 
had of him for months. 

Sometimes, when the clause demands greater emphasis 
than is shown by commas, it is set off between dashes : 

This fact that he had been shot as a deserter was known to very 

Adjective clauses and adverbial clauses may be used as 
essential or non-essential modifiers. When a clause is an 


essential modifier (adjective or adverb), it must be kept as 
close as possible to the word that it modifies and must not 
be punctuated: 

The gipsy who spoke English told my fortune. 
I am always happy while I am working. 
I looked where you told me to look. 
You cannot go if you are angry. 

The non-essential adjective clause as a rule also follows 
the noun that it modifies; but it must be separated from this 
by a comma. Like an appositive word or phrase, it is paren- 
thetical and explanatory in function, and can be omitted, 
leaving the sentence less detailed but complete in sense: 

This man, who is a Frenchman from Algiers, can be identified by a 
crescent-shaped scar on his chin. 

The position of the non-essential adverbial clause in the 
sentence may be varied according to the emphasis desired 
for it. When it stands between the subject and the predicate, 
it follows the rule for inclosing between commas any mod- 
ifier that interrupts the predication: 

Angry justice had, as it were, photographed him in the act of his 

When the non-essential clause comes last in the sentence, 
it is usually set off by a comma only when it might be wrongly 
taken as an essential clause: 

He went down to the cabin, where he lit a pipe and read for an hour. 

When the non-essential clause stands first in the sentence, 
it must always be set off by a comma if it might otherwise 
introduce even a momentary doubt as to the beginning of 
the subject, or if its idea calls for special emphasis. But 
when it is short and of little importance, no comma is needed. 
Compare the following sentences: 

After the door was closed and locked, Dulcie fell upon her bed, 
crushing the black tip, and cried for ten minutes. 


When her cry was over Dulcie got up and took off her best dress, 
and put on her old blue kimono. 0. Henry. 

To distinguish between an essential and a non-essential 
clause, you have only to ask yourself: Is it necessary to iden- 
tify the person or thing named by the substantive, or is that 
person or thing already identified, and the clause added 
merely as an additional detail? Thus: in the sentence "The 
gipsy, who spoke English, told my fortune," I already have 
in mind a particular gipsy, and add merely as an additional 
detail the fact that she spoke English; the clause is non- 
essential, and must be set off by commas. But in the sentence 
"The gipsy who spoke English told my fortune," one gipsy 
among several is identified by her speaking of English; con- 
sequently, the clause is essential, and no commas must be 

3. In the arrangement of subordinate clauses there are 
two principles to remember: 

(1) If they are parallel in construction, they must stand in 
some definite order, of which the commonest are climax and 


When the generation is gone, when the play is over, when the thirty 
years' panorama has been withdrawn in tatters from the stage of the 
world, we may ask what has become of these great, weighty, and 
undying loves, and the sweethearts who despised mortal conditions 
in a fine credulity. . . . Stevenson. 


And it is more important that a person should be a good gossip, 
and, talk pleasantly and smartly of common friends and the thousand 
and one nothings of the day and hour, than that she should speak with 
the tongues of men and angels; for a while together by the fire hap- 
pens more frequently in marriage than the presence of a distin- 
guished foreigner to dinner. Stevenson. 

(2) If the clauses are not parallel, they should be distrib- 
uted through the sentence not all before the subject, or after 


the predicate, but before, and after, and between subject 
and predicate, so that the exact relationship and degree of 
emphasis belonging to each will at once be clear. 

For examples of this careful placing of subordinate clauses, 
see the passages quoted on pp. 62f. and 75. 

In general, complex and compound-complex sentences 
should be preferred to the compound, both for the sake of 
the greater variety that they give, and what is still more 
important for the practice that they afford in shading 
emphasis to match the relative importance and unimportance 
of different phases of thought. Indeed, the compound- 
complex sentence the compound sentence with one or more 
subordinate clause modifiers combines the virtues of both 
the other types and is one of the commonest in actual use, 
as you will find by observation of any good piece of prose. 


1. Name and explain the structure of each of the following sen- 
tences and the arrangement of the subordinate clauses; and then 
explain its punctuation: 

(1) "All night long he can hear Nature breathing deeply and 
freely; even as she takes her rest she turns and smiles; and there is 
one stirring hour unknown to those who dwell in houses, when a 
wakeful influence goes abroad over the sleeping hemisphere, and 
all the outdoor world are on their feet." Stevenson. 

(2) "Out in the orchard a heavy mist wrapped him in wet folds 
of silver; yet overhead there was clear starlight, and he could watch 
the slow burnishing of the moon's face in her voyage up the sky. 
It was a queer country in which he found himself, where all the 
tree-tops seemed to be floating away from invisible trunks, and 
where for a while no sound was audible but his own footsteps making 
a sound almost of violins in the saturated grass. The moon wrought 
upon the vapors a shifting damascene and far behind, as it seemed, 
a rufous stain showed where the candles in his room were still 
alight. Gradually a variety of sounds began to play upon the silence. 
He could hear the dry squeak of a bat and cows munching in the 
meadows on the other side of the stream. The stream itself babbled 
and was still, babbled and was still; while along the bank voles 
were taking the water with splashes that went up and down a scale 
like the deep notes of a dulcimer." Compton MacKenzie. 


(3) "Mottram of the Indian Survey had ridden thirty and 
railed one hundred miles from his lonely post in the desert since 
the night before; Lowndes of the Civil Service, on special duty in 
the political department, had come as far to escape for an instant 
the miserable intrigues of an impoverished native State whose 
king alternately fawned and blustered for more money from the 
pitiful revenues contributed by hard-wrung peasants and despair- 
ing camel-drivers; Spurstow, the doctor of the line, had left a 
cholera stricken camp of coolies to look after itself for forty-eight 
hours while he associated with white men once more. Hummil, 
the assistant engineer, was the host." Kipling. 

(4) "Very simple indeed were the tunes to which Mottram's 
art and the limitations of the piano could give effect, but the men 
listened with pleasure, and in the pauses talked of what they had 
seen or heard when they were last at home. A dense dust-storm 
sprung up outside, and swept roaring over the house, enveloping 
it in the choking darkness of midnight, but Mottram continued 
unheeding, and the crazy tinkle reached the ears of the listeners 
above the flapping of the tattered ceiling-cloth." Kipling. 

2. Rewrite the following sentences, using simple and complex 
sentences wherever you can: 

"Then Sir Bedivere returned again, and took the sword in his 
hand, and then he thought it a sin and shame to throw away that 
noble sword; and so again he hid the sword, and returned again and 
told the king. . . . Then Sir Bedivere departed, and went to the 
sword, and lightly took it up, and went to the water side, and there 
he bound the girdle about the hilt, and then he threw the sword far 
into the water. And there came an arm and a hand above the 
water and met it, and caught it, and so shook it thrice and brand- 
ished; and then vanished away the hand with the sword in the 
water." Sir Thomas Malory. 

3. In the passages on p. 169 of this book convert the compound 
sentences into complex and vice versa, whenever you can do so 
without spoiling the effect. How many sentences of either kind do 
you find which are not easily convertible into the other type? 

4. Using the same passage, reduce both compound and complex 
sentences to simple sentences with phrase modifiers, whenever it is 
possible to do so, and decide in each case which form gives the best 
effect, and how the use of each of the others changes the effect. 


Few persons except writers of much experience realize the 
important part played by the phrase in the building of the 


sentence. To gain some idea of the number and variety of 
phrases and of their structural functions, read carefully the 
following paragraph in which all the phrases are in italics : 

The country, as I have said, was mixed sand-hill and links; 
links being a Scottish name for sand which has ceased drifting and 
become more or less solidly covered with turf. The pavilion stood 
on an even space, a little behind it the wood began in a hedge of elders 
huddled together by the wind; in front, a few tumbled sand-hills stood 
between it and the sea. An outcropping of rock had formed a bastion 
for the sand, so that there was here a promontory in the coast-line 
between two shallow bays; and just beyond the tides, the rock again 
cropped out and formed an islet of small dimensions but strikingly 
designed. The quicksands were of great extent at low water, and had 
an infamous reputation in the country. Close in shore, between the 
islet and the promontory, it was said that they would swallow a man 
in four minutes and a half; but there may have been little ground 
for this precision. The district was alive with rabbits, and haunted 
by gulls which made a continual piping about the pavilion. On sum- 
mer days the outlook was bright and even gladsome; but at sundown 
in September, with a high wind, and a heavy surf rolling in close along 
the links, the place told of nothing but dead mariners and sea disasters. 
A ship beating to windward on the horizon, and a huge truncheon of 
wreck half buried in the sands at my feet, completed the innuendo 
of the scene. Stevenson. 

If you count the number of words in this passage, and 
then count the number in phrases, you will see that the greater 
part of the text consists of phrases. This proportion is by 
no means unusual; phrases are so important a part of the 
structure of sentences that no writing can be made effective 
without proper management of the phrasing. 

If you do not remember the grammatical structure and 
functions of phrases in the sentence, review them in Appendix 
VII before you continue the study of this section. 

In connection with phrasing there are three main prob- 
lems for the student : 

A. The close weaving together of simple phrases into a 
composite, to secure unified impressions. 


B. The distribution and punctuation of phrases, to shift 
emphasis in the sentence. 

C. The choice between the phrase and the subordinate 

A. The Stevenson passage contains admirable examples of 
close weaving of phrases. For instance, the composite 
phrase "in a hedge of elders huddled together by the wind" 
contains four simple phrases in its ten words; the clause be- 
ginning "but at sundown" consists of thirty words, of which 
only four are not woven into phrases. In this close knitting, 
prepositional and participial phrases, phrases used as ad- 
jectives and as adverbs, are so neatly bound together that 
only by analysis do we realize in many cases the composite 
character of the whole. Study of the practice of an author 
who is particularly neat and careful about his phrasing 
and for this quality Stevenson is preeminent will do much 
to correct a loose-jointed and awkward style. 

B. When, instead of a composite phrase conveying a single 
impression, you wish to use a group of simple phrases, each 
conveying a distinct and independent impression, your prob- 
lem is not to find phrases that will weld together without 
showing joints, but to place each phrase where it will get the 
right degree of emphasis, and to punctuate it so that its rela- 
tionship and force will be unmistakable. 

Your first step must be to note whether your phrase is 
an essential or a non-essential modifier. If it is essential, it 
must be kept close to the word that it modifies, and not 
separated from it by a comma: 

an islet of small dimensions but strikingly designed 

But if it is non-essential, it may be placed almost anywhere 
in the sentence, according to the emphasis desired, provided 
that its relationship, with or without the aid of punctuation, 
is kept perfectly clear. 

The chief difficulty is in the placing of adverbial phrases. 


Adjective phrases, like single adjectives, even when they are 
non-essential, do not usually get away from the noun that 
they modify. For the placing of adverbial phrases there are 
perhaps two general rules: 

1. Do not group them together in such a way that in part 
of the sentence the mind will be overloaded with a group of 
distinct and unrelated modifiers, while in another part it 
finds no modifiers. If you have several phrases, distribute 
them at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end so 
that each has time to convey its idea before the next is 
reached, and the sentence as a whole shows an approximate 
balance of weight between its beginning and its end. 

Close in shore, 

| it was said that they j in four minutes 

1 would swallow a man .... 1 and a half. 

between the is- 
let and the 

The balance is evident. Try the effect of placing the last 
phrase immediately after promontory. And quite apart from 
the desirability of balance, the emphasis here is on the short- 
ness of the time, which is therefore placed last. This brings 
us to the second rule. 

2. For emphasis, place the phrase as follows: 

(1) Last, when it is to bear the greatest emphasis of any 
part of the sentence: 

The outlook was bright and even gladsome on summer days. 

(2) First, when it serves as a good introduction to the sen- 
tence, or, it may be, a transition from the preceding sentence: 

The outlook was bright in summer. But during a winter storm 
it chilled the heart. 

(3) Neither first nor last, but at the most convenient place 
within the sentence, when it bears no special stress: 

The outlook, to one returning after a long absence, seemed dreary. 
If you remember these two points, distribution of non- 


essential adverbial phrases for securing balance in the whole 
sentence, and the proper emphasis due to each phrase, you 
will soon gain a degree of ease and mastery in the manage- 
ment of your phrases. 

C. The rule for choice between the phrase and the subor- 
dinate clause is simple: Prefer the phrase; it is more compact 
and usually more emphatic. Compare the following: 

He is a man who has great wealth. 

He is a man of great wealth. 

If this is understood, we may come to terms. 

This understood, we may come to terms. 

Almost any relationship expressed by the subordinate 
clause time, place, cause, condition, concession, purpose, 
result, comparison may be expressed by the phrase; the 
clause should be reserved for two cases: 

1. When the exact nature of the relationship is important 
and cannot be so clearly expressed by a phrase: 

Throughout this period of restraint he worked well. 
The meaning is ambiguous, but is made clear by a clause: 

Because he was under restraint, for a time he worked well. 
Although he was under restraint for a time, he worked well. 

2. When there is emphasis on the predication itself: 
He is a man who ought to succeed 

is stronger than 

He is a man likely to succeed. 

In punctuating these distributed phrases, remember that 
every non-essential modifier, and every independent element 
that modifies the sentence as a whole, must be set off by com- 
mas; also, that any element which is especially emphatic may 
likewise be set off. When a phrase follows the predicate verb, 
it is less likely to need commas, except for reasons of emphasis, 
than when it precedes the subject or stands between subject 
and predicate. When it precedes the subject, it must be 
followed by a comma whenever it introduces even momen- 


tary doubt as to where the subject begins; it may be fol- 
lowed by a comma if it is loosely connected or especially 
emphatic. Thus : 

According to Henry Parker was not at home 

introduces a momentary doubt: until was is read, we are not 
sure that Henry does not belong with Parker. So we must 

According to Henry, Parker was not at home. 

Again, there is a decided difference in emphasis between the 
following sentences: 

All last summer I had no time for golf. 

Day after day, I have tried in vain to make time for golf. 

When the phrase stands between subject and predicate, 
it need not be punctuated if it is short, unemphatic, and does 
not divert the trend of the thought; but if it attracts even 
momentary attention to itself, it must be set off by commas 
in order that the movement of the sentence may pass round 
it from subject to predicate : 

The problem to my thinking is not insoluble. 
This defeat, according to the explanations of the routed generals, 
counted as a victory. 

In regard to the punctuation of these movable phrases 
you will find wide variation in practice among good writers; 
but if you bear in mind two points the need for perfect 
clearness of relationship between the elements of the sen- 
tence, and the use of the single comma to separate, and of 
two commas to hold together the words between them you 
should have no great difficulty, and you should soon begin to 
establish a system of your own. 


1. Analyze as to structure and function all the phrases in the 
passage on p. 65. Change as many of the phrases as you can into 
subordinate clauses, and discuss the differences in effect. Change 


as many of the subordinate clauses as you can into phrases, and 
discuss the differences in effect. Copy the sentences with every pos- 
sible change in the arrangement of the phrases, and decide whether 
or not the author has in every case chosen the best possible order. 

2. Copy from a magazine or newspaper twenty or more sentences 
containing subordinate clauses reducible to phrases. Make the 
reduction in writing, and decide in each case whether or not it is an 

3. From a similar source copy twenty sentences in which you 
feel that the phrases are not in the best order; then write them with 
your changes. 

4. Study the phrasing in the quotation on p. 20 of this book. 


A well-built sentence is one in which every word is needed 
exactly where it stands in order to bring out the thought 
with the degree of emphasis and emotion desired by the 
writer and to connect this thought exactly with the thoughts 
expressed by the preceding and by the following sentence. 
In a perfect sentence no word could be added or cut out or 
changed in position without obvious injury. The essential 
qualities here suggested are compactness and clearness. 

To realize what compact structure means, compare the 
following sentences: 

In an individualist democracy no tax could be more consistent 
with the ideals and purposes of the nation than an inheritance tax 
which should tend to equalize opportunity from generation to gen- 
eration and compel those who are to enjoy unearned power and 
privilege to make especial contribution to the common need. 

How interesting it is to see all the great men of the land come 
and go each day to see them and to know them and to hear them 
talk. How many have I talked to myself since being here in Wash- 
ington. There were so many I could not begin to name them or 
put down what they say, but where I am is an unrivalled place to 
meet and know them, and yet how commonplace many of them 
are when seen at close quarters. . . . How many are sort of freak- 
ish . . . somehow very few of them make any sort of an impression 
on me and I wonder why it is. 


The first sentence is quoted from an editorial; it is com- 
pact and clear. The second passage is from the manuscript 
of a book offered for publication; about one-third of it could 
be cut, and the remaining words combined in this manner: 

Here in Washington I have an unrivalled opportunity to see, 
to hear, and to meet daily all the great men of the land. I cannot 
remember even their names, much less what they say. Interesting 
as the experience is, the men are curiously commonplace, or even 
freakish. I wonder why so few of them impress me. 

Now let us consider why this passage can be cut down one- 
third without loss of an idea and become more close-knit in 
the process. What are the main defects of the original form? 

1. It shifts the subject back and forth between many and 
7, thus requiring a perpetual repetition of the verb. 

2. It repeats the same words and synonymous words 
merely because the writer does not combine all the related 
phases of the thought, and say once for all : see, meet, etc. 

3. It uses words to convey ideas which are perfectly clear 
from the context, and which therefore merely dilute the 
sentence : come and go, talk, myself, since being, begin to, where 
I am, of them, when, sort of, any sort of an . . . on, it is, etc. 

4. It makes little attempt to subordinate unimportant 
phases of the thought none to eliminate predication; but 
runs along in the infantile form of a string of compound 

5. It uses the exclamatory and the declarative forms of 
predication in the same sentence. 

From this study we may educe the following rules: 

1. Shift your subject as little as possible within the sen- 
tence, or in a closely connected group of sentences. By keep- 
ing the same point of view, you unify your subject-matter, 
you avoid waste of attention, and you get a close-knit sen- 
tence to correspond to your unified thought. 

2. Avoid repetitions that are nothing more than repeti- 
tions. Either concentrate on a word and make it do duty 


once for all in a given passage; or if you wish to repeat, place 
the repeated word in such an emphatic position that the 
reader sees the emphasis at once : 

And yet the place establishes an interest in people's hearts; go 
where they will, they find no city of the same distinction; go where 
they tvill, they take a pride in their old home. Stevenson. 

This, as you see, is done by the use of parallel structure in 
which the repeated word has each time the same emphatic 

For effective repetition of a word see Kipling's digging and 
digged (for dug) on p. 186. 

Experienced writers often repeat the same thought in 
different words; but the student should do this only when it 
is necessary to drive home an idea with great force because 
it is complex, or obscure, or for some other reason hard to 
grasp. In such a case, the repetitions should be as varied as 
possible affirmative and negative, literal and figurative 
and arranged in the order of climax. For good examples, 
see pp. 81 and 88. 

3. Watch for and rigorously cut out all words that neither 
contribute to the ideas nor serve to connect them. 

4. Be on the alert to subordinate unimportant ideas; and 
remember to reduce even eliminate predication when- 
ever it is not needed for emphasis. 

5. Never use the exclamatory sentence unless your emo- 
tion is essential. And when you feel that you must use it, 
never try to combine it with the declarative or the interrog- 
ative form. You will get better structure and more emotional 
stress if you make it stand alone. 

As you practise the organization of sentences with a view 
to fitting them compactly to the thought that they contain, 
you should observe that there are two general methods of 
articulation which are used separately and in combination. 

You may let each phase of the thought grow naturally out 
of the one before it in a gradual and continuous process which 


may be stopped at various points before the end of the sen- 
tence is reached. At the first stopping-point you will have 
a clearly unified impression, to which each later stopping- 
point will merely add detail. In the following sentence, there 
are six stopping-points indicated by double spacing be- 
fore that chosen by the author is reached: 

In the hurry I could just see Smethurst, red and panting, 
thrust a couple of clay pipes into my companion's outstretched 
hand, and hear him crying his farewells after us as we 
slipped out of the station at an ever-accelerating pace. 


This type of sentence is called loose. 

On the other hand, you may develop your thought by keep- 
ing back until the very end one element of the sentence which 
is absolutely essential to a correct understanding of the 
whole. In this way your reader is forced to hold in suspense 
in his mind all that precedes this important element, in order 
that when he comes to it he shall see it in its right relations 
to all the parts that have preceded it. This type of sentence 
cannot be broken off before the end is reached: 

Such a description, composed from scanty and dispersed materials, 
must necessarily be very imperfect. 

You cannot stop before imperfect and make sense. 

Again: Of these three estimates, framed without concert by dif- 
ferent persons from different sets of materials, the highest, which 
is that of King, does not exceed the lowest, which is that of Finlaison, 
by one-twelfth. Macatday. 

Here you cannot stop before twelfth because the degree of 
difference is the very point of the sentence. 

This type of sentence is called periodic. 

Qne of the most important problems for the writer is so to 
alternate progression and suspense in the movement of his 
sentences, and within the parts of a single sentence, that the 
reader is alternately stimulated into sharp attention and 


allowed to drift for a moment's rest while the thought con- 
tinues without effort on his part. 

But whether your sentence be loose or periodic, progressive 
or suspended, it must be articulated to fit the thought exactly, 
without superfluity of words or extraneous ideas, and without 
incompleteness, and to give the degree of emphasis that 
exists in your mind with reference to every phase of the 
thought that you are organizing into one sentence. 


1. Study the sentences on p. 180 of this book from the point of 
view of compactness of structure. Suggest improvements wherever 
you can. 

2. Note the sentences in this same passage which are entirely 
loose or progressive, and those which are entirely periodic or sus- 
pended. Analyze the elements of suspense which you find in the 
sentences in which both methods of development appear. When- 
ever it is possible to change from the one type to the other, do so, 
and discuss differences in effect. 

3. Take two pages of any article in a good magazine and study 
the sentences in the same way. 


The simplest requisite for perfect clearness in the construc- 
tion of any sentence is grammatical correctness. It would 
seem reasonable to assume that college students write sen- 
tences which are grammatically correct; but experience 
shows that this is not invariably the case. It is true, how- 
ever, that of the sentence errors listed as bad English in 
Appendix VIII, comparatively few are made habitually by 
the majority of students. Each student has his own list, 
which varies somewhat from that of every other student 
according to the circumstances of his birth and early training. 
Foreign-born students have their special problems; students 
who come from widely differing sections of this country and 
from different strata of society have theirs. The correction 


of these errors is a problem purely individual and personal, 
to be solved by individual hard work, with or without the 
guidance of a tutor. The common sources of confusion of 
thought in the sentence are placed together in the Appen- 
dix, where it is hoped each student can find what he needs. 
It is only by persistent drill that weaknesses can be 
gradually eliminated; and as long as these errors persist, hope 
of achieving distinction in the use of English must remain 

A second requisite for perfect clearness is proper arrange- 
ment of parts of the sentence, with proper punctuation to 
show their relationships and the degree of emphasis to be 
accorded to each. This point has been fully discussed in 
connection with each type of sentence, and the invariable 
rules of punctuation have been given in the earlier section 
on Good Form. But as a guide in cases of doubt we have 
added a tabulation of the uses of the marks in Appendix VI. 
By reference to this you should be able to clarify vague im- 
pressions and to supplement your theory when necessary. 

A third requisite for perfect clearness is the mastery of the 
pronoun. The pronoun is one of the most convenient parts 
of speech when its use is thoroughly understood; but it is a 
double-edged tool, and is dangerous when it is not turned 
in the right way : that is, so that its reference is unmistakable. 
Aside from the grammatical rules for the agreement of pro- 
nouns, the principles that underlie their proper use are 

1. Keep each pronoun in the sentence as near as possible to 
its antecedent. This, naturally, involves a clear understand- 
ing as to which word is its antecedent. Note the confusion 
in the following: 

I came across one of these sparrow-tamers by chance, and was 
much amused at the scene, which to anyone not acquainted with 
birds, appears marvellous; but it [what?] is really as simple as pos- 
sible, and you can repeat it for yourself if you have patience, for 


they [the tamers or the birds?] are so sharp they soon understand 

2. Never allow between a pronoun and its antecedent any 
substantive that might be mistaken for the antecedent: 

In the heat of the sun the furze-pods kept popping and bursting 
open; they are often as full of insects as seeds, which come creeping 

Obviously it is the insects that creep out; but the pronoun 
refers to seeds. 

3. Never use a pronoun when there is any doubt as to 
which of two or more substantives is its antecedent. When- 
ever there is room for doubt, either repeat the substantive, 
or if, as is often the case, the difficulty occurs in indirect 
discourse, rewrite the passage as a direct quotation: 

As Smith and Brown walked home, he [which?] began to talk 
of his [whose?] troubles. 

This is made unmistakable as follows: 

As Smith and Brown walked home, ( Smith b Jk f ^ 

troubles. 1 Brown ' 


As Smith and Brown walked home, { Smith b tQ ^ of 

Brown s . , , I Brown 

ic- -ii troubles. 
[ Smith s 

Smith told Brown that his [whose?] invention would bring him 
[whom?] good returns. 

Here the meaning is quite obscure, but is clarified at once by 
the use of quotation: 

Smith said to Brown, "My invention will bring me good returns." 
My ' you 

Your " " " me " " 

Your " " " you " " 

For particular errors in the use of pronouns, see Appen- 
dix VIII. 

4. Always be sure that the antecedent of a pronoun is 
definitely expressed as a substantive: 


Hattie had been shut up in the house for so many hours that 
she suddenly discovered that she could not bear it [what?] another 

5. Another aid to clearness is parallelism. But it must be 
used consistently; that is, it must put into the same con- 
struction and coordinate only such ideas as really have the 
same function and the same importance in the sentence. 

The most important rule for parallelism is that the parallel 
elements should be in precisely the same form. Do not 

(1) Infinitive and gerund: 

To study and walking are my chief pleasures. 

(2) Infinitive and finite verb. 

He said to go and that he would join us later. 

(3) Active and passive voice: 

The club met at Mrs. Johnson's, and a delightful time was had 
by all. 

(4) A word or a phrase and a clause: 

He urged haste and that a committee be appointed. 

He asked for help to be given them, and that it be done quickly. 

Another important rule is that when phrases or subordinate 
clauses are made parallel, the introductory word preposi- 
tion, participle, or conjunction should, as a rule, be re- 
peated before each in order to show the parallelism at a 

In my mind is a jumbled vision of huge wooden cows cut out in 
profile and offering from dry udders a fibrous milk; of tins of bis- 
cuits portrayed with a ghastly realism of perspective, and menda- 
ciously screaming that I needed them U-need-a-biscuit; of gigantic 
quakers, multipled as in an interminable series of mirrors, and offer- 
ing me a myriad meals of indigestible oats; of huge, painted bulls 
in a kind of discontinuous frieze bellowing to the heavens a chal- 
lenge to produce a better tobacco than theirs; of the head of a 
gentleman, with pink cheeks and a black moustache, recurring, 


like a decimal, ad infinitum on the top of a board, to inform me that 
his beauty is the product of his own toilet powder; of codfish with- 
out bones "the kind you have always bought"; of bacon packed 
in glass jars; of whiz suspenders, sen-sen throat-ease, sure-fit hose, 
and the whole army of patent medicines. G. Lowes Dickinson. 

Note that the of is repeated seven times, and then in the last 
phrase, where a number of incongruous things are crowded 
together for purposes of humor, it is omitted. 

To be effective, parallel constructions should be arranged 
in the order of climax: 

There is one pursuit, commerce; one type, the business man; 
one ideal, that of increasing wealth. Monotony of talk, monotony 
of ideas, monotony of aim, monotony of outlook on the world. 

G. Lowes Dickinson. 

A special type of parallelism is the balanced sentence the 
arrangement of coordinate clauses in pairs, so that one will 
offset the other. This is commonly, though not necessarily, 
combined with the figure of antithesis, or contrast of ideas. 

Mr. Lowes Dickinson has a chapter in his Appearances 
in which most of the sentences are constructed on this plan. 
He is making a series of distinctions between the man of 
action and the dreamer (the Red-blood and the Mollycoddle; 
note the figure in the names). The following extract is 

The Red-blood sees nothing; but the Mollycoddle sees through 
everything. The Red-blood joins societies; the Mollycoddle is a 
non-joiner. (Individualist of individualists, he can only stand 
alone, while the Red-blood requires the support of a crowd.) The 
Mollycoddle engenders ideas, and the Red-blood exploits them. 
The Mollycoddle discovers, and the Red-blood invents. The whole 
structure of civilization rests on foundations laid by Mollycoddles; 
but all the building is done by Red-bloods. The Red-blood de- 
spises the Mollycoddle; but, in the long run, he does what the 
Mollycoddle tells him. The Mollycoddle also despises the Red- 
blood, but he cannot do without him. Each thinks he is master 
of the other, and, in a sense, each is right. In his lifetime the Molly- 


coddle may be the slave of the Red-blood; but after his death, he 
is his master, though the Red-blood know it not. 

In this passage it is interesting to note the slight variations 
in form by which monotony is avoided. Without such varia- 
tions parallelism quickly becomes tiresome. It should not 
be used for many sentences in succession except by writers 
who know how to secure variety; but for single sentences 
involving a great number of details it is an admirable device 
for clearness. 


1. Distribute the reading of Appendix VIII over two days, check- 
ing in your book faults of which you are aware, and noting the cor- 
rections. Then examine the papers that you have written thus far 
this year, and in the light of the errors that you find in them, add 
more checks, at the same time correcting the error in each case, if 
this has not been done already. 

2. Explain the use of punctuation as an aid to clearness in the 
quotation on p. 103. 

3. Criticize the following passage with regard to its sentences, and 
experiment with different punctuations: 

Again, you will find, if you travel long in America, that you are 
suffering from a kind of atrophy. You will not, at first, realize what 
it means. But suddenly it will flash upon you that you are suffering 
from lack of conversation. You do not converse; you cannot; you 
can only talk. It is the rarest thing to meet a man who, when a 
subject is started, is willing or able to follow it out into its ramifica- 
tions, to play with it, to embroider it with pathos or with wit, to 
penetrate to its roots, to trace its connections and affinities. Ques- 
tion and answer, anecdote and jest, are the staples of American 
conversation; and above all, information. They have a hunger for 
positive facts. And you may hear them hour after hour rehearsing 
to one another their travels, their business transactions, their 
experiences in trains, in hotels, on steamers, till you begin to feel 
you have no alternatives before you but murder or suicide. An 
American, broadly speaking, never detaches himself from experi- 
ence. His mind is embedded in it; it moves wedged in fact. His 
only escape is into humor; and even his humor is but a formula of 
exaggeration. It implies no imagination, no real envisaging of its 
object. It does not illuminate a subject; it extinguishes it, clamp- 
ing upon every topic the same grotesque mould. That is why it 


does not amuse the English. For the English are accustomed to 
Shakspere and to the London cabby. G. Lowes Dickinson. 

4. Insert commas and semicolons as needed in the following sen- 
tences : 

The soft autumn sunshine shorn of summer glare lights up with 
color the ferns the fronds of which are yellow and brown the leaves 
. the grey grass and hawthorn sprays already turned. 

Like the fields which can only support a certain proportion of 
cattle the forest wide as it seems can only maintain a certain number 
of deer. [Place only in its correct position in each clause.] 

With starlings wood pigeons and rooks the forest is crowded 
like a city in spring but now in autumn it is comparatively deserted. 
[Change the order for clearness and emphasis.] 

The birds are away in the fields some at the grain others watch- 
ing the plow and following it as soon as a furrow is opened. 

If timber is felled it is removed and the bark and boughs with it 
the stump too is grubbed and split for firewood. 

When the thickets are thinned out the fagots are carted away 
and much of the fern is also removed. 

No charcoal-burning is practised but the mere maintenance of 
the fences as for instance round the pheasant enclosures gives much 
to do. 

Beneath the ashes of the first frost the air is full of the bitterness 
of their blackened leaves which have all come down at once. 

Next came a moth and after the moth a golden fly and three 
gnats and a mouse ran along the dry ground with a curious sniffling 
rustle close to Guido. 

"Oh no dear the house I was then thinking of is gone like a leaf 
withered and lost." 

"The dew dries very soon on wheat Guido dear because wheat 
is so dry first the sunrise makes the tips of the wheat ever so faintly 
rosy then it grows yellow then as the heat increases it becomes 
white at noon and golden in the afternoon and white again under 
the moonlight." 

"If we had never before looked upon the earth but suddenly 
came to it man or woman grown set down in the midst of a summer 
mead would it not seem to us a radiant vision?" Richard Jefferies. 

5. Name the antecedent of every pronoun in the quotation on 
p. 105 of this book, and show whether or not the reference is as it 
should be. 

6. Collect from the quotations used in this book or from your 
reading in general ten or more sentences that illustrate parallelism, 
writing them on cards, one to a card, Try to find examples of 
as many kinds of parallelism as possible: in coordinate and in sub- 


ordinate clauses; in phrases; in balanced sentences, containing 
comparisons of likeness and of unlikeness; in similes and antitheses. 


There are two other qualities of the well-built sentence 
which must be pondered by everyone who wishes to write 
well. These are euphony the relation of sound to sound 
and rhythm the relation of word accents, group stresses, 
within the sentence and in sentences closely related within 
the paragraph. 

For learning how to combine these relationships as effect- 
ively as possible, there is only one rule: You must train your 
ear. And again, for training the ear there is only one rule: 
You must study the methods used by successful writers. 
This can be done only by first reading aloud until you find 
a passage notably pleasant or unpleasant in sound and 
rhythm, and then analyzing the passage to discover the 
causes of your pleasure or distress. As you read more in this 
way, you will become increasingly aware of subtle relation- 
ships that had altogether escaped you at first. 

Let us take each quality in turn. 

No trained ear is needed to hear cacophony in the sentence: 

Like Mike, he gets sick quite^ quickly. 

In general, when, hi reading, you must stop and give thought 
to the combinations of sounds, the obstructions are probably 
due to a bad style that is, a style in which the problems of 
euphony have not been considered. If you read enough good 
literature aloud, and, in close connection with such reading, 
form the habit of reading aloud what you write, you will, 
consciously or unconsciously, develop a sense of euphony 
and so at the very least learn to avoid striking defects. At 
this stage of your study you cannot of course make careful 
observations of the infinitely various possibilities of sound 
combinations to produce precisely the effects you desire, 


but you can at least avoid the unintended hissing of too many 
s's, the accidental rhyming of accented and unaccented 
syllables, the monotony of a sound or group of sounds re- 
peated without variation, the clashing of sounds similar yet 
not quite the same. As a general introduction to the subject, 
you cannot find anything better than these words of Steven- 

Each phrase in literature is built of sounds, as each phrase in music 
consists of notes. One sound suggests, echoes, demands, and har- 
monizes with another; and the art of rightly using these concord- 
ances is the final art in literature. It used to be a piece of good 
advice to all young writers to avoid alliteration; and the advice 
was sound, in so far as it. prevented daubing. None the less for 
that, was it abominable nonsense, and the mere raving of those 
blindest of the blind who will not see. The beauty of the contents 
of a phrase, or of a sentence, depends implicitly upon alliteration 
and upon assonance. The vowel demands to be repeated; the 
consonant demands to be repeated; and both cry aloud to be per- 
petually varied. You may follow the adventures of a letter through 
any passage that has particularly pleased you; find it, perhaps, 
denied awhile, to tantalize the ear; find it fired again at you in a 
whole broadside; or find it pass into congenerous words, one liquid 
or labial melting away into another. And you will find another and 
much stranger circumstance. Literature is written by and for two 
senses: a sort of internal ear, quick to perceive "unheard melodies"; 
and the eye, which directs the pen and deciphers the printed page. 

If you will study this paragraph carefully and apply its 
teaching to any good piece of prose including itself you 
will begin to see the meaning of euphony in writing. 

In close connection with euphony stands rhythm, the 
grouping of word accents and stresses needed to bring out 
the meaning, both within the sentence and in the group of 
sentences. Here again reading aloud is the all-important 
rule. There are however a few hints which may be helpful. 

1. Do not begin all your sentences with the same parts of 
speech and develop them in the same order. To avoid the 
monotony that would result there are two methods. You 


can study how to join sentences together within the par- 
agraph by rearranging their elements so that parts which are 
related to ideas in preceding or following sentences are placed 
at the beginning and the end (see p. 136 below). And you 
can make special study of the different elements of the sen- 
tence used by good writers to begin a sentence. For example, 
in the following paragraph by Richard Jefferies, five different 
parts of speech are used to begin eight sentences; and as 
some of these are emphatic, others not, some bear a word 
accent, while others do not, the rhythmic effect is of variety. 
At the same time three closely-connected sentences begin 
with the same part of speech a strongly-emphasized adjec- 
tive and continue in parallel construction. 

The wind passes, and it bends let the wind, too, pass over the 
spirit. From the cloud-shadow it emerges to the sunshine let 
the heart come out from the shadow of roofs to the open glow of the 
sky. High above, the song of the lark falls as rain receive it with 
open hands. Pure is the color of the green flags, the slender-pointed 
blades let the thought be pure as the light that shines through that 
color. Broad are the downs and open the aspect gather the 
breadth and largeness of view. Never can that view be wide enough 
and large enough, there will always be room to aim higher. As the 
air of the hills enriches the blood, so let the presence of these 
beautiful things enrich the inner sense. One memory of the green 
corn, fresh beneath the sun and wind, will lift up the heart from the 
clods. Richard Jefferies. 

2. In connection with the parallelism of the same par- 
agraph, observe that the similar clauses are of varying 
lengths. If they were of approximately the same length, the 
rhythm of the prose would approach that of verse an effect 
always to be avoided. 

3. Similarly, monotony in the length of words, and in the 
number and grouping of the accented syllables in word, 
phrase, and sentence, should be avoided. For this no rule 
can be suggested beyond that already given. Study the 
effect of the long word among short words, of the short word 


among long words, of the shifting of accents, as all this is 
found in good work, and you will by degrees acquire some 
rhythm of your own. A very little comparison will show 
you that all good writers have their own rhythms, which in 
the masters of style become unmistakable. 


1. Compare the following passage with other quotations from 
Stevenson in this book, and try to show that he wrote it: 

"We begin to see now what an intricate affair is any perfect 
passage; how many faculties, whether of taste or pure reason, must 
be held upon the stretch to make it; and why, when it is made, it 
should afford us so complete a pleasure. 

" From the arrangement of according letters, which is altogether 
arabesque and sensual, up to the architecture of the elegant and 
pregnant sentence, which is a vigorous act of the pure intellect, 
there is scarcely a faculty in man but has been exercised. We need 
not wonder, then, if perfect sentences are rare, and perfect pages 

2. Study the passage quoted on p. 109 of this book for euphony 
and rhythm as follows: Read the discussion of verse rhythms on 
pp. 398 f. and note the system of marking stressed syllables; then 
mark similarly the stressed syllables in the passage chosen, count 
the range in the number of unstressed syllables to stressed, and 
note the grouping of stressed words. Draw conclusions as to the 
author's consideration of rhythm. 

Make a similar study of the passage on p. 170. 

3. Study euphony in the same passages. Note the sounds and 
sound combinations which predominate, and the effects of them. 

4. Copy from any source outside this book a paragraph in which 
you think the author has considered rhythm and euphony in con- 
structing his sentences, and another in which this has not been 
done. Write a 300 word paper discussing these two paragraphs. 

5. Copy from the work of a good writer eight sentences, each of 
which begins with a different part of speech. Show in a paper of 
about 300 words that this variation affects the stresses and so 
avoids monotony of rhythm. 

6. Each of the following quotations contains good material but 
the sentences are not well-constructed. You are given the parts 


separated by dashes to fit together so as to make a series of effec- 
tive sentences. Insert all necessary punctuation. 

(1) Make six or seven sentences ; 

The first conscious thought about wild flowers was to find out 
their names the first conscious pleasure and then I began to 
see so many that I had not previously noticed once you wish to 
identify them there is nothing escapes down to the little white 
chickweed of the path and the moss of the wall I put my hand 
on the bridge across the brook to lean over and look down into the 
water Are there any fish the bricks of the pier are covered with 
green, like a wall-painting to the surface of the stream mosses along 
the lines of the mortar and among the moss little plants what 
are these in the dry sunlit lane I look up to the top of the great 
wall about some domain, where the green figs look over upright 
on their stalks there are dry plants on the coping what are these? 

(2) Make two or three sentences: 

The orange-golden dandelion in the sward was deeply laden 
with color brought to it anew again and again by the ships of the 
flowers, the humble-bees to their quays they come unlading price- 
less essences of sweet odors brought from the East over the green 
seas of wheat unlading priceless colors on the broad dandelion 
disks, bartering these things for honey and pollen. 

(3) Make one sentence of each of the following: 

(a) Rain blown in gusts through the misty atmosphere, gas and 
smoke-laden deepens the darkness the howl of the blast humming 
in the telegraph wires hurtling round the chimney-pots on a 
level with the line rushing up from the archways steam from 
the engines, roar, and whistle, shrieking brakes, and grinding 
wheels how is the traffic worked at night in safety over the in- 
extricable windings of the iron roads into the City? 

(b) The hues, the shapes, the song and life of birds, above all 
the sunlight, the breath of heaven, resting on it the mind would 
be filled with its glory, unable to grasp it, hardly believing that 
such things could be mere matter and no more. 

(c) Fourteen hours of sun and labor and hard fare now tell 
him what to do to go straight to his plank bed in the cowhouse 
to eat a little more dry bread, borrow some cheese or greasy bacon 
munch it alone, and sit musing till sleep came he who had nothing 
to muse about I think it would need a very clever man indeed to 
invent something for him to do, some way for him to spend his 
evenings read to recommend a man to read after fourteen hours 
of burning sun is indeed a mockery darn his stockings would be 

(d) The wheat was springing the soft air full of the growth 
and moisture blackbirds whistling wood-pigeons nesting young 
leaves out a sense of swelling, sunny fulness in the atmosphere. 



In the construction of the sentence there is involved an 
art which can be taught and learned. As the sculptor ac- 
quires skill in the shaping of clay, becomes expert in drawing 
it out and compressing it, taking away a bit here, adding a 
bit there, molding and remolding it until it represents to 
his satisfaction the thing he has in mind, so he who works in 
sentences must deal with words. No degree of manual dex- 
terity will make an artist of a worker in clay; and no degree 
of mere cleverness in the manipulation of words and phrases 
will make a great writer. But, on the other hand, no artist 
ever became a sculptor without being sufficiently master 
of his clay to make it express his mind; and no writer ever 
attained any degree of excellence until he had learned in 
some measure the craft of fitting and adjusting his sentences 
to the form of his ideas. And it is further true that skill in 
the craft of writing goes far toward removing obstacles to 
the very formation of the ideas that are required for self- 
expression. Stevenson perhaps with undue self-deprecia- 
tion said of his own talent that it was not extraordinary; 
but he also recognized the undoubted fact that he owed his 
high position as a writer in large part to his admirable craft- 
manship. And his skill in this respect, which is little short 
of amazing, he acquired by the hardest sort of hard work. 
If you read his letters, you will come to realize what can be 
accomplished by sheer application to matters of technique. 
There are many gifted young writers to-day who will fail of a 
lasting position in literature chiefly because they either do 
not recognize this principle or do not take the trouble to 
apply it. 

In regard to sentences particularly, the difficulty of the 
inexperienced writer is at first largely due to the fact that he 
looks upon them as a sort of crystallization of thought, which 
becomes permanent as soon as it is conceived. As soon as he 


comes to realize the plasticity of phrasing, he is on the way 
to become a master of the craft of writing. And when the 
craft is mastered, his degree of success will depend upon 
the power of his imagination to reflect such aspects of life 
as it encounters, and to refract, as it were, the confusion of 
experience into types and principles of truth. 

But before this can be attempted or even dreamed of, he 
must labor with sentences. He must, in the beginning, con- 
ceive as in array before him the entire range of possibilities 
that determine the shaping of each sentence. By all means, 
let the sentence have its way at first let the thought come 
as it will naturally. But then hold it off and look at it to see 
if it has come in the best possible way for the expression of 
the underlying thought. In many cases, when the writer is 
unpractised, a mere reading especially reading aloud 
will show ways in which almost any sentence can be improved. 
But as the unpractised writer is also likely to be uncritical, 
he needs to bring into consciousness all the possibilities of 
improvement in every doubtful case. He needs to ask him- 
self such questions as these: 

Does the situation really warrant this use of the exclam- 
atory form of sentence? Or would the plain declarative be 
better? Or would the interrogative form in this case be a 
happy compromise in emphasis between the two? 

Are the ideas in this compound sentence really coordinate, 
or would it be better to subordinate some of them? If so, 

Is this compound sentence too long? Shall I break it up 
into simple sentences? What happens if I do? 

Are these simple sentences too short and jerky? Shall I 
combine them or some of them into a compound sentence? 
Or would it be better to subordinate some of them and make 
a complex sentence? 

Are the ideas in this compound sentence parallel? Are my 
constructions parallel? Shall I make them so? How? 


In this complex sentence, are the subordinate clauses so 
arranged that the emphasis falls where it should? If not, 
how shall I rearrange them? Would it be better to use a 
phrase for this clause? or a clause for this phrase? 

Is this phrase or clause an essential modifier or not? Then 
how about the punctuation? 

These are only the most elementary of the questions that 
should be asked. With practice, the answers to them will 
become increasingly an instinct, so that they are settled 
without really coming into the writer's consciousness at all; 
but their places will be taken by others, which must likewise 
be settled by deliberation until they in turn become a part 
of the subconscious regulation of detail which enables the 
skilled craftsman in writing to throw his whole attention 
upon the ideas that he is trying to express. 

It is true, on the one hand, that the sentence problem never 
reaches the vanishing point; and on the other, that no writer 
has ever manipulated his sentences to such a degree of per- 
fection that there is not here and there room for improve- 
ment. If perfection were easily attained, writing would 
cease to be an art with infinite possibilities of variation, and 
become a demonstrable science like mathematics. It is ex- 
actly because of the infinite flexibility and variability of lan- 
guage, as it grows through phrasing from the single word 
to the thought predication that is called the sentence, that 
literature is able increasingly to express all phases of human 
experience and thinking. 

One final word as to the keeping and breaking of rules: 
you must keep them until you are their master. When you 
are able to play with the sentence as a juggler plays with his 
knives and not until then you may make your own laws 
for its construction. You may then, if it suits your pur- 
pose to do so, punctuate as sentences groups of words 
that are not sentences, as Kipling does in the following 


The pitiless Moon shows it all. Shows, too, the plains outside 
the city, and here and there a hand's-breadth of the Ravee without 
the walls. Shows lastly, a splash of glittering silver on a house-top 
almost directly below the mosque Minar. 

The last two groups of words are not sentences they have 
no subject: they are sweeps of the brush in painting a pic- 
ture. They are related to the introductory sentence, which 
alone contains the subject; and yet they are more distinct 
dabs of paint, to use an artist's figure, then if each contained 
a subject. In the next sentence, the predicate is omitted in 
order to throw more emphasis upon the sounds than upon 
the hearing of them: 

More tinkling of sluiced water-pots; faint jarring of wooden 
bedsteads moved into or out of the shadows; uncouth music of 
stringed instruments softened by distance into a plaintive wail, 
and one low grumble of far-off thunder. Kipling. 

Only the skilled craftsman may attempt this sort of thing; 
but to admire it is of service to the apprentice: it shows him 
in concrete form that flexibility of structure which is one of 
the foundations of art. 

Similarly, the apprentice must come to understand that 
faithfulness in following the well-worn paths of punctuation 
will bring him to the point where he may have commas and 
semicolons at his command. The following sentence from 
Stevenson is not punctuated according to rule, but the longer 
pauses indicated by the semicolons emphasize the bareness 
of the room: 

It was very bare of furniture: only some gold plate on a sideboard; 
some folios; and a stand of armor between the windows. 

But the structure of a sentence is not entirely a problem of 
internal economy; it depends in large degree upon the char- 
acter of the sentence that precedes and the one that follows. 
This fact brings us to the discussion of the paragraph as an 
organization of sentences. 



1. Analyze the sentences in the following paragraphs from as 
many points of view as possible length, structure, form, punctua- 
tion, balance, suspense, parallelism, emphasis, phrasing, economy, 

"But there is of culture another view, in which not solely the 
scientific passion, the sheer desire to see things as they are, natural 
and proper in an intelligent being, appears as the ground of it. 
There is a view in which all the love of our neighbor, the impulses 
toward action, help, and beneficence, the desire for removing human 
error, clearing human confusion, and diminishing human misery, 
the noble aspiration to leave the world better and happier than we 
found it, motives eminently such as are called social, come in 
as part of the grounds of culture, and the main and preeminent 
part. Culture is then properly described not as having its origin 
in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of perfection; it is a 
study of perfection. It moves by the force, not merely or primarily 
of the scientific passion for pure knowledge, but also of the moral 
and social passion for doing good. As, in the first view of it, we 
took for its worthy motto Montesquieu's words: 'To render an 
intelligent being yet more intelligent' so, in the second view of it, 
there is no better motto which it can have than these words of 
Bishop Wilson: 'To make reason and the will of God prevail.' " 

Matthew Arnold. 

"That only is true enlargement of mind which is the power of 
viewing many things at once as one whole, of referring them severally 
to their true place in the universal system, of understanding their 
respective values, and determining their mutual dependence. Thus 
is that form of Universal Knowledge, of which I have on a former 
occasion spoken, set up in the individual intellect, and constitutes 
its perfection. Possessed of this real illumination, the mind never 
views any part of the extended subject-matter of Knowledge with- 
out recollecting that it is but a part, or without the associations 
which spring from this recollection. It makes everything in some 
sort lead to everything else; it would communicate the image of 
the whole to every separate portion, till that whole becomes in 
imagination like a spirit, everywhere pervading and penetrating 
its component parts, and giving them one definite meaning." 

John Henry Newman. 

2. Discuss the following sentences (1) as giving a statement 
of the theory of the sentence, and (2) as exemplifications of this 

"Each sentence, by successive phrases, shall first come into a 


kind of knot, and then, after a moment of suspended meaning, 
solve and clear itself. 

Each phrase, besides, is to be comely in itself; and between the 
implication and the evolution of the sentence there should be a 
satisfying equipoise of sound; for nothing more often disappoints 
the ear than a sentence solemnly and sonorously prepared, and 
hastily and weakly finished. Nor should the balance be too striking 
and exact, for the one rule is to be infinitely various; and to interest, 
to disappoint, to surprise, and yet still to gratify; to be ever chang- 
ing, as it were, the stitch, and yet still to give the effect of an in- 
genious neatness." Stevenson. 



THE paragraph, like the sentence, is an organization of 
thought. The sentence is the smallest unit of thought that 
can stand alone in written discourse, and its component parts 
are words; the paragraph is the next larger unit, and its com- 
ponent parts are sentences. The paragraph, in turn, is also 
a component part of every organized piece of writing, whether 
this be story, article, or chapter of a book. 

Every paragraph, then, is to be viewed in two ways: 

Externally, as a component part of an organized piece of 
writing. The word composition means putting together; hence, 
a composition is an organization of parts paragraphs. 

Internally, as in itself an organization of which the com- 
ponent parts are sentences. 

As sentences are set apart from one another by means of 
capitals and punctuation marks, so paragraphs are set apart 
from one another by indention. 

NOTE. In writing, the usual margin is doubled for indention; 
in print it is increased by the width of the letter M. 

When single spacing is used in a typewritten letter, it is cus- 
tomary to leave double spacing between paragraphs. 

In a short piece of writing for example, less than two 
thousand words each paragraph would usually contain all 
that is said about one main section or phrase of the subject. 
To get a clear idea of this, study the following outlines for 
short papers: 





General framework 1f 1 

The Structure Fuselage f 2 

of an Wings f 3 

Aeroplane Engine ^[ 4 

Propeller f 5 

(2000 words) (300-500 words each) 


,-, , _ .. Better buying fl 1 

Food Conservation More scientific menus f 2 

l n e Smaller portions f 3 

Uses of left-overs and other waste ^ 4 

(1200 words) (about 300 words each) 


The furnace 1f 1 

The materials f 

Glass Blowing The implements 

Shaping and blowing 

Tinting If 5 

(1000 words) (100-300 words each) 



; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;' 

Malines, etc [ 4 

(500 words) 100-200 words each) 

But in a longer, more complex composition this simple re- 
lationship does not answer. The Structure of the Aeroplane, 
for example, in a 5000 word article, would involve two sets of 
heads, main heads and subheads. The main heads might 
be the essential parts in the construction of any typical 
machine framework, fuselage, wings, engine, propeller, 
etc., and five or six standard types of .aeroplanes and the 
subheads, the variations in the different types of machines 
with reference to the structural parts, as far as they show 
variations. The paragraphs would then be grouped: 


Framework. . 

I. Theoretical 

Fuselage If 2 

Wings If 3 

Engine f 4 

Propeller f fl 

II. Curtis Training Machine. 

Subheads 1-5, or as many as are needed to show variations from 
Type A, your foundation type 
III. Handley-Page Type: same arrangement. 

In a piece of work long enough to make a book, the larger 
divisions of the thought that is, the clusters of paragraphs 
are often given section and chapter numbers. You will see 
at once that a very complex treatment of a subject will 
necessarily contain cluster within cluster of such divisions 
until the smallest consists of a series of paragraphs. 

We shall discuss further on the structure of the story, the 
description, the exposition, the argument; but at this point 
you should see clearly that any piece of writing, considered 
as a unit, should consist of a series, or a series of clusters, of 
organically related paragraphs. 


1. Study the paragraphing in Section 10, pp. 100-105 of this 
book, by writing the subject of each paragraph and discussing in 
class the relation of the paragraphs to one another. 

2. Sketch the paragraphing, according to the plans on p. 119, for 
a composition of less than a thousand words on each of the following 
subjects. Where you lack information, get it from books or periodi- 
cals, following the directions in pp. 23-25. 

Milton's Works. 

American Pioneers in Aviation. 

Types of Boats Used in the Navy. 

Raising Chickens. 

The Commonest Stanza Forms Used in English. 

The Financing of Public Utilities. ' 

Electrical Household Device.-'. 



What determines the length of a paragraph? Theoret- 
ically, it is governed by the principle that controls sentence 
length : that is, organization keeping together what belongs 
together in thought. In other words, as you try to keep 
within the unifying limits of the sentence the most closely 
related parts of the thought, so within the unifying limits 
of the paragraph, you keep the most closely related sentences. 

But with paragraphs as with sentences practical considera- 
tions must be taken into account. What is the effect upon 
your mind of looking at two pages of print in which not a 
single paragraph indention appears? A paragraph that 
extends over two or more pages of printed matter, although 
it may be perfectly unified in thought, will involve a great 
strain upon the attention of the reader. He will be con- 
tinually looking for signs of a plan underlying the mass of 
detail presented; and often he cannot be sure that he has 
found that plan until he has reached the end of the paragraph. 
Consequently, his impression of the whole will be blurred. 

To avoid this obstruction to clearness, the writer who 
habitually thinks in long paragraphs should consider, when- 
ever he finds himself overstepping reasonable limits, whether 
his single paragraph cannot be better organized as a cluster 
of paragraphs. For such a writer, it is a good rule to have 
usually at least one paragraph indention on each page of 

On the other hand, the writer who habitually includes 
only two or three sentences in a paragraph, or who even 
writes a single sentence as a paragraph, should practise 
organizing a cluster of these short paragraphs into a long 
paragraph whenever it is possible to do so. For him a good 
rule is not to allow more than two or three paragraphs on a 
page (except in quoting conversation; see below). 

In learning to paragraph, then, you should avoid the two 


extremes. If your paragraph runs over the page, you may 
easily forget its beginning and the principle on which you 
are constructing it, and may allow it to go on indefinitely, 
and so lose all its organization. If you make a new paragraph 
for every third or fourth sentence, you will inevitably think 
disjointedly and scrappily. Whatever your natural tendency 
in paragraphing is, try to counterbalance it by making a 
deliberate effort in the opposite direction. The best writers 
use both long and short paragraphs in the same piece of work, 
combining them in such a way as to reflect the varying phases 
and currents of their thought. 

In writing conversation a special rule for paragraphing is 
followed by good writers: Make a fresh paragraph for each 
change of speaker. 

"Did you tell him?" asked Jean, playing nervously with her 
hatpins. "What did he say?" 

"Yes. Nothing." 

"Was he pleased?" 

"I don't think so. He looked annoyed. I was sorry I had men- 
tioned the matter. You never can tell about a man." 

Finally, in order to establish a critical attitude toward 
your own paragraphing, it is a good plan to give all your 
finished work a special reading merely as an organization of 
related paragraphs; and viewing it as a whole, to mark 
changes that improve the structure. Insert the ^ mark in 
the margin to indicate the beginning of a paragraph not 
already shown by indention; and connect the end of one 
paragraph and the beginning of the next by a curve CS~)> 
writing in the margin "No 1[," or "run on" to indicate that 
two paragraphs are to run together into one. 


1. Make a study of paragraph lengths in the current issue of 
your newspaper: (a) in a news article; (b) in an editorial. Count 
the number of sentences, and the number of words in each sen- 


tence. Omit portions of the text reporting conversation, as here 
the length is arbitrarily determined. Sum up your results on news- 
paper paragraphing. 

2. Make a similar study of an article of about 2000 words in 
some good magazine. 

3. Repeat the process for a chapter in some textbook. If you 
feel that some paragraphs are too long, show how they might be 
broken up to advantage. 

4. Continue the work in some book that you are reading for 
pleasure (if this is a novel, choose a portion in which there is no 

5. Write a short paper (300-500 words), discussing the results 
of the four preceding studies. 

6. Write as accurate a report as you can of a short conversation 
overheard by you recently, paragraphing it correctly. 

7. Read carefully the most elaborate paper that you have written 
this year on any subject, and mark in it any changes in paragraphing 
that you would now introduce. 


When you have outlined your paper, you find that each 
head suggests material for a paragraph or group of par- 
agraphs. How shall you proceed to fill in the outline to 
organize your sentences under each division of the thought? 

Here, as in the case of the sentence, the fundamental idea 
is movement. The thought must progress from the first 
sentence to the last; the reader must feel that he is going 
forward, not round and round in a circle. It is not enough 
merely to tie together a group of sentences all relating to 
the same topic; they must be placed so that each marks a 
definite advance toward a goal that you have in mind when 
you begin the paragraph. 

If you wish your reader to share your knowledge of that 
goal, you may state it in a sentence technically known as 
the topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph; or 
you may remind him of it by using such a sentence at some 
point within the paragraph, if it fits in well; or you may sum 


up the content of the paragraph in such a sentence at the 

The use of a topic sentence always makes for clearness. 
Written invariably at the beginning of each paragraph, it 
gives a certain formality to the composition; but this formal- 
ity can be avoided by shifting the position of the topic sen- 
tence, so that the reader does not look for it in some special 
place. But whether you state it in your paper or not, it 
should always lie before you in your outline; and continual 
reference to it will help to keep you to the point. 

The development of the paragraph its progression toward 
its goal is to a considerable extent determined by the sub- 
ject itself. You will inevitably think in one of three ways 
about any subject which you are going to discuss: 

1. If it is concrete a person, thing, place, event, etc. you 
will naturally think about its parts and qualities; you will 
develop it by details. 

2. If it is abstract a class, a truth, a law you will look 
for illustrations of it in the concrete; you may develop it by 

3. Instead of developing the topic by details or examples, 
you may simply repeat the same idea in different ways; that 
is, you may develop it by repetition. 

In one of these three ways you must think; but they deter- 
mine only the content of your paragraph, not the order in 
which the sentences shall stand. Which detail shall be given 
first? which example? in what order shall the repetitions of an 
idea be arranged? The answers to these questions depend 
partly upon the subject and partly upon the effect desired. 

Details usually are arranged in some time-order in narra- 
tion; in some place-order in description; in some order of 
logical relation in exposition. Further, a paragraph con- 
sisting of one or two long illustrations may build up each of 
these on principles of time, place, or relationship order; but a 
paragraph consisting of a group of examples or repetitions 


must be arranged on some other principle; and there are 
many cases in which details do not fall into any obvious 
arrangement of time, place, or logical relationship, but must 
be grouped on some other basis. 

Now remembering that the fundamental idea of the par- 
agraph is movement, progress, you will see that this progress 
can be maintained by two general methods: 

1. You may arrange your details, examples, or repetitions 
in the order of climax, so that each in turn produces a stronger 
impression than the one before. The deepening impression 
may be due to greater interest, importance, or complexity of 
idea, or to more striking or beautiful expression of the same 
idea. But unless there is this kind of progress, the reader's 
attention will flag, and your hold upon him will weaken. 

2. You may, instead of moving straight forward to a climax 
as your goal, zig-zag by the use of comparison, which shows 
analogy or contrast between the thought of a paragraph and 
another thought introduced into the paragraph for the sake 
of this effect; or between the details or examples which are 
already component parts of the paragraph. This method 
of comparison you may apply in various ways: One is, to 
balance one set of details or examples over against another, 
so that their resemblances or differences will be emphasized 
by their position; another is, to carry some figure of speech, 
practically always a metaphor or simile or antithesis, through- 
out the paragraph, introducing the comparison or contrast 
into every sentence. 

The most effective paragraphing is that in which both these 
methods are used with the greatest freedom, either singly or 
in combination. In order to see how freely they are blended, 
let us analyze a number of paragraphs : 

1. The trouble began over the question of Repentance. 2. George 
was willing, nay eager, to repent of anything, if only he could think 
of something worth repenting of. 3. But he couldn't. 4. A thou- 
sand times he told himself that he was a miserable sinner, but he 


didn't feel like one, and couldn't for the life of him understand 
what wrong he had done. 5. It is true he had fired a pea-shooter 
at the cat; he had once killed a blackbird; he had kicked a little 
boy for making faces at him; he had been rude to his aunt; but 
he had far too much good sense to treat these actions as the needed 
raw material for a genuine repentance. 6. Once in his father's study 
he had seen a cash-box lying open on the table and had seriously 
debated the question of stealing a sovereign, in order to get a point 
of departure. 7. But again his good sense came to the rescue. 8. 
God was not likely to be deceived by so shallow a trick. L. P. Jacks. 

The development is as follows: 1, topic sentence; 2, 3, de- 
tails; 4, repetition with more detail; 5, examples, and repeti- 
tion; 6, example; 7, detail of 6; 8, repetition. The general 
order is climactic : the last three sentences show more emphat- 
ically than the preceding George's extreme eagerness to re- 

The next paragraph, which describes the effect of reading 
Robinson Crusoe, is developed by repetition: 

1. No philosopher has ever had a clearer conception of the true 
end of man than I had at the age of twelve. 2. All forms of self- 
realization were false save one; and that was, to get oneself cast 
away, by hook or crook, upon a Desolate Island. 3. Nothing else 
would satisfy. 4. Let others go to Heaven if they would; let others 
be good, or great; but let me be cast on some lonely palm-strewn 
shore in the uttermost parts of the earth. 5. It was the foolish 
ship that came to port; it was the wise ship that was wrecked. 
6. Not for all the kingdoms of this world would I have exchanged 
my keg of powder, my cap of goatskin, my fortification, and my raft. 

L. P. Jacks. 

The development is as follows: 1, topic; 2, topic repeated in 
specific terms; 3, repeated negatively; 4, repeated with con- 
trast; 5, repeated with emphasis on the detail ship; 6, re- 
peated with emphasis on other details. The order is climac- 
tic, the features last mentioned are those which especially 
appealed to the boy's imagination. 

The next paragraph is developed chiefly by examples, with 
some repetition and detail: 


1. It was always the little islands I loved the best, and if they 
were not only small but very remote, like St. Kilda, Kerguelen, or 
Juan Fernandez, so that a mariner shipwrecked on their shores 
might have a reasonable chance of being unrescued for years, I 
rejoiced like the man who has discovered a treasure hidden in a 
field. 2. Australia interested me not the least it was too big. 
3. No castaway of twelve years could be expected to manage such 
a place. 4. The Channel Islands were contemptible; they were too 
near. 5. They suggested the odious possibility of being rescued 
by a steamer. 6. But the Isles of Aru, Tinian, and Tidore, the 
Dampier Group, the Solomons, the Celebes these were the places 
where a castaway of merit might make his mark. L. P. Jacks. 

The development is as follows: 1, topic, with examples; 
2, example; 3, detail, cause; 4, example; 5, detail, cause; 6, 
repetition of the topic, with more examples. The order is 
climactic in suggest! veness, as you will see if you compare the 
lists of islands in 1 and 6. 

The next paragraph shows the effect of Robinson Crusoe 
upon a boy's mind when he is ill. The general development 
is by details; but when these are extraordinary, repetition is 
used to give them the proper emphasis : 

1. The long hours of the sleepless nights, of which I had many, 
were passed in planning adventures on Desolate Islands. 2. My 
imagination ran riot, and brought me, I doubt not, perilously near 
insanity. 3. I painted my islands in colors such as never were on 
sea or land; 1 stored them with buried treasures; I caused them to 
be inhabited by every conceivable wild beast; I invaded them with 
innumerable tribes of savages, and I fought these poor barbarians 
and slaughtered them at will. 4. I took care that the vessel in 
which I was wrecked should always have in its hold not only barrels 
of gunpowder and kegs of sugar, but grand pianos, for I was ex- 
cessively fond of music, and velocipedes, just invented, one of which 
had been promised me as a birthday gift. 5. Anachronisms troubled 
me not a whit. 6. How I got the grand piano ashore would be a 
long story to tell. 7. It was a vast undertaking, and kept my wits 
at work for weeks, and prolonged to morning many a sleepless night. 
8. Never since the invention of tools was such an elaborate mechan- 
ism devised as that by which, single-handed, I transported the grand 
piano from the wreck to my "fortification." 9. I have invented 


many impossible things in my time, but none which does me so 
much credit as that. L. P. Jacks. 

The development is as follows: 1, topic; 2, repeated, with 
detail; 3, 4, details; 5, repetition of part of 4; 6-9, repetition 
of part of 4, with more details. The order is that of climax, 
with emphasis thrown by repetition upon the most absurd, 
hence, under the circumstances, most interesting, detail. 

The next paragraph is developed by means of one example, 
which is in turn developed by another example; and this is 
developed by details in the form of conversation. Note that 
when a conversation is quoted as a unit to form an example, 
the usual rule of making a new paragraph for each change of 
speaker falls into abeyance: 

Of Rodright's views on Church and State I shall content myself 
by giving an indication, or rather a sample. He was a Tory in 
politics; but his views were based less on the conviction that his 
own party was right than on contempt for the policies of his oppo- 
nents. "Them Radicals," he would say, "don't know how to play 
their own game. Look at all this 'ere Radical Finance. Taxin' 
the rich! Why, there's no such thing. You can't tax the rich. 
Me and another big-pocketty man was talkin' it over in the Club 
last night. 'Rod,' he says to me, 'how much is your sovereign 
worth since the last Budget ? ' ' Fifteen bob at most,' I says. ' Well,' 
he says, 'does it 'urt you?' 'Not a bit,' I says, 'the smaller they 
makes my sovereign, the more sovereigns I makes that's all.' 
'Same 'ere,' says he." L. P. Jacks. 

The following paragraph is developed by details which 
carry out in almost every sentence a comparison suggested 
as a metaphor in the topic sentence: 

Evolution is a cosmic game of Pussy wants a corner. Each 
creature has its eye on some snug corner where it would rest in 
peace. Each corner is occupied by some creature that is not. al- 
together satisfied and that is on the lookout for a larger sphere. 
There is much beckoning between those who are desirous of making 
a change. Now and then some bold spirit gives up his assured 
position and scrambles for something better. The chances are 
that the adventurer finds it harder to attain the coveted place than 


he had thought. For the fact is that there are not enough corners 
to go around. If there were enough corners, and every one were 
content to stay in the one where he found himself at the beginning, 
then the game would be impossible. It is well that this never 
happens. Nature looks after that. When things are too homoge- 
neous she breaks them up into new and amazing kinds of heteroge- 
neity. It is a good game, and one learns to like it after he enters into 
the spirit of it. Samuel McChord Crothers. 

The following paragraph is developed chiefly by repetition; 
but the topic sentence contains a contrast, which is continued 
in each repetition of the idea throughout the paragraph: 

In every age we shall find the true gentleman that is, the man 
who represents the best ideal of his own time, and we shall find the 
mimicry of him, the would-be gentleman who copies the form while 
ignorant of the substance. These two characters furnish the ma- 
terial, on the one hand for the romancer, and on the other for the 
satirist. If there had been no real gentlemen, the epics, the solemn 
tragedies, and the stirring tales of chivalry would have remained 
unwritten; and if there had been no pretended gentlemen, the 
humorist would have lost many a pleasure. Always the contrasted 
characters are on the stage together; simple dignity is followed by 
strutting pomposity, and after the hero the braggart swaggers and 
storms. So ridicule and admiration bear rule by turns. 

Samuel McChord Crothers. 

There should be a reason not only for the presence but also 
for the position of every sentence in the paragraph. If its 
exact contribution to the thought cannot be explained, it 
should be cut out as unnecessary or irrelevant; if its exact 
connection with the preceding and following sentences cannot 
be explained, it should be better articulated or moved into 
a better position. In the successful paragraph the thought 
sweeps forward from sentence to sentence without a break. 


1. Analyze fully the development of the following paragraphs: 

(1) "Rodright's goods are to be found in all countries of the 
world both savage and civilized, the only place where you cannot 


obtain them being the city where they are manufactured. Observe 
those three innocent little dots at the foot of the exquisite bronze 
Buddha which you purchased for twenty pounds from that un- 
impeachable dealer in Yokohama. They are the trade-mark of 
Rodright & Co., Limited, and may be taken to mean that the price 
of production was half a crown. Or turn to that beautiful old 
grandfather clock in the Sheraton case, the envy of all your friends 
as they hang their fur coats in your vestibule; recall the reluctance 
of the old cottager to part with his heirloom, and the tears he shed, 
and the shame you felt as you handed him seven five-pound notes; 
and then take a strong magnifying glass and look for three minute 
dots in the lower left-hand corner of the clock face. Or take the 
set of silver buttons which aroused your cupidity as they gleamed 
on the waistcoat of the peasant who rowed you across the Norwegian 
fjord. Was it not something of a Vandalism to bribe the old fellow 
to cut them off; and was it altogether fair to conceal from him that 
they were precious Danish coins of the seventh century? But 
never mind; they now adorn your wife's evening dress; and there 
are three dots on the edge of every one of them." L. P. Jacks. 

(2) " In the commerce of ideas there must be reciprocity. We will 
not deal with one who insists that the balance of trade shall always 
be in his favor. Moreover there must be a spice of incertitude 
about the transaction. The real joy of the intellectual traffic comes 
when we sail away like the old merchant adventurers in search of a 
market. There must be no prosaic bills of exchange: it must be 
primitive barter. We have a choice cargo of beads which we are 
willing to exchange for frankincense and ivory. If on some strange 
coast we should meet simple-minded people who have only wam- 
pum, perhaps even then we might make a trade." S. M. Crothers. 

(3) "One very serious drawback to our pleasure in conversation 
with a too w r ell-informed person is the nervous strain that is in- 
volved. We are always wondering what will happen when he comes 
to the end of his resources. After listening to one who discourses 
with surprising accuracy upon any particular topic, we feel a deli- 
cacy in changing the subject. It seems a mean trick like suddenly 
removing the chair on which a guest is about to sit down for the 
evening. With one who is interested in a great many things he 
knows little about there is no such difficulty. If he has passed 
the first flush of youth, it no longer embarrasses him to be caught 
now and then in a mistake; indeed your correction is welcomed 
as an agreeable interruption, and serves as a starting point for a 
new series of observations." Samuel McChord Crothers. 

(4) "Humor implies mental alertness and power of discrimina- 
tion [transition sentence connecting with preceding paragraph]. 
It also implies a hospitality toward all the differences that are 
recognized. Psychologists speak of the Association of Ideas. It 


is a pleasant thought, but it is, in reality, difficult to induce Ideas 
to associate in a neighborly way. In many minds the different 
groups are divided by conventional lines, and there are aristocratic 
prejudices separating the classes from the masses. The Working 
Hypothesis, honest son of toil that he is, does not expect so much 
as a nod of recognition from the High Moral Principle who walks 
by in his Sunday clothes. The steady Habit does not associate 
with the high-bred Sentiment. They do not belong to the same 
set. Only in the mind of the humorist is there a true democracy. 
Here everybody knows everybody. Even the priggish Higher 
Thought is not allowed to enjoy a sense of superiority. Plain Com- 
mon Sense slaps him on the back, calls him by his first name, and 
bids him not make a fool of himself." Samuel McChord Crothers. 

(5) "But after being awakened to the sin of romance, I saw that 
to read a novel merely for recreation is not permissible. The reader 
must be put upon oath, and before he allows himself to enjoy any 
incident must swear that everything is exactly true to life as he 
has seen it. All vagabonds and sturdy vagrants who have no visi- 
ble means of support, in the present order of things, are to be driven 
out of the realm of well-regulated fiction. Among these are included 
all knights in armor; all rightful heirs with a strawberry mark; all 
horsemen, solitary or otherwise; all princes in disguise; all persons 
who are in the habit of saying "prithee," or Odzooks," or "by 
my halidome;" all fair ladies who have no irregularities of feature 
and no realistic incoherencies of speech; all lovers who fall in love 
at first sight, and are married at the end of the book and live happily 
ever after; all witches, fortune-tellers, and gipsies; all spotless 
heroes and deep-dyed villains; all pirates, buccaneers, North 
American Indians with a taste for metaphysics; all scouts, hunters, 
trappers, and other individuals who do not wear store clothes. 
According to this decree, all readers are forbidden to aid and abet 
these persons, or to give them shelter in their imagination. A 
reader who should incite a writer of fiction to romance would be 
held as accessory before the fact." Samuel McChord Crothers. 

2. Analyze the paragraph development of the passages on pp. 
116 and 117 of this book. 

3. Bring to class six paragraphs which seem to you faulty in 
development. You may take them from book, newspaper, or 
magazine. Discuss in class methods by which they might be im- 
proved; and rewrite them. 

4. Look over your papers written this year in any subject, and 
choose one that seems to you faulty in its paragraphing. Correct 
it as best you can, and bring it to class for further suggestions 
from the instructor and students. If you cannot find paragraph 
errors in your work, choose a long paper and write in the margin 


opposite each paragraph all the methods of development used in 
it. This study may show you unsuspected faults. 

5. Name the methods of development that suggest themselves 
for single paragraphs on each of the following subjects: 

(1) Swallows' nests. 

(2) The intelligence of collies. 

(3) We should (or should not) have a standing army. 

(4) Building a camp fire. 

(5) The effect of music on animals. 

(6) Why fruit should be sold by weight. 

(7) Blucher and Wellington at Waterloo. 

(8) Navajo blankets. 

(9) The importance of Tampico. 

(10) Why railway terminals should be electrified. 

(11) Formal and landscape gardens. 

(12) Is democracy a failure? 


While sentences may often be sufficiently articulated by 
their thought content, there are certain structural devices 
which help to knit them together, and which at the same 
time direct the reader's attention to the relationships be- 
tween them. These devices thus serve a double purpose. 
Much use of them results in clearness; too much use, in 
formality. They are most needed in the expression of com- 
plex or subtle exposition and argument. In general, you 
should use them to correct your natural tendencies in ex- 
pression. If your writing tends to be stiff and formal, avoid 
the formal connectives, and learn to make reference words 
articulate your sentences. If your writing tends to be loose- 
jointed and incoherent, lean heavily upon formal connectives 
until you have corrected the fault. 

The most obvious method of stating directly the thought 
relation between two sentences is by the use of coordinating 
conjunctions. Of these, and greatly overworked by inexpe- 
rienced writers merely ties together a series of similar ideas; 
but, however, nevertheless, notvrithstanding, yet, introduce the 


idea of contrast; therefore, for, and because show the relation 
of cause and effect. 

Another method of connection by direct statement is by 
the use of transitional adverbs (words and phrases), which 
show many kinds of relationship between the sentence in 
which they stand and the one before. Again, first, second, 
next, etc., indicate a series; for example, for instance, show that 
the second sentence illustrates the first; accordingly, and for 
this reason, hence, and thence, show that the second is the 
result of the first; at any rate marks a concession; on the other 
hand shows contrast; indeed, in truth, surely, certainly, nat- 
urally, of course, are used for emphasis; by the way makes 
the second sentence parenthetical; to sum up and in a word 
indicate that the second is a summary of the first. 

All these are useful expressions, but they must not be over- 
worked. If the same connective or transition word appears 
often, it gives an effect of intolerable monotony, as when a 
young college professor was observed by a diligent student 
to use the phrase "of course" forty-seven times within a 
single class period. But even when the phrases are varied, 
they call attention to the joints between the sentences, and 
when they are too prominent, they suggest a person who is all 
knees and elbows. 

A transitional clause, such as you may say, you may ask, 
it is true, etc., may sometimes be introduced parenthetically 
into a sentence; but the effect of thus forcing a comment on 
the sentence itself, tends toward formality. 

When, however, formal transition words, phrases, or 
clauses, are desirable for the sake of clearness, the stiffness 
that they tend to cause can be minimized by giving them 
subordinate positions within the sentence. They then serve 
as reminders without throwing too much emphasis upon the 
method of joining. 

The trouble with statistics, strange to say, often lies in the very 
accuracy with which the figures are given. 


Figures themselves, however, are often less emphatic than other 
methods of expression. 

A third method of showing thought relationship between 
sentences is reference. By reference is meant the use of 
an expression that inevitably carries the mind of the reader 
or listener back to earlier words or phrases so that he feels 
the relationship between them. Reference words in a par- 
agraph should stand out like the piers of a bridge over which 
the thought passes from sentence to sentence. 

The most obvious reference word is the pronoun. As the 
relative pronoun makes for close-knit structure within the 
sentence, so the use of personal or demonstrative pronouns 
all referring to the same antecedent may bind together all 
the sentences in a paragraph: 

One of the most interesting mechanical devices used in the War 
is the tank. This machine is also called the caterpillar. It can 
crawl over or through every sort of obstruction. 

In the following paragraph the recurrence of he and his, 
not only in each sentence but in almost every clause, gives a 
strongly unified impression. 

Thoreau's thin, penetrating, big-nosed face, even in a bad wood- 
cut, conveys some hint of the limitations of his character. With 
his almost acid sharpness of insight, with his almost animal dexterity 
in act, there went none of that large, unconscious geniality of the 
world's heroes. He was not easy, not ample, not urbane, not even 
kind; his enjoyment was hardly smiling, or the smile was not broad 
enough to be convincing; he had no waste lands nor kitchen-midden 
in his nature, but was all improved and sharpened to a point. 


While the pronoun exists for the express purpose of ref- 
erence, other words or even phrases may be repeated in a 
succession of sentences within the paragraph in order to 
bridge the thought. 

In regard to this repetition two principles must be noted. 
The first is that if the repeated expression is striking enough 


to attract attention to itself, it need not be repeated often. 
The deeper the impression it makes, the further it will 
"carry" over the intervening words; that is, unusual words 
or phrases will be felt as connective at longer intervals than 
commonplace expressions: 

"What talk do we commonly hear about the contrast between 
college education and the education which business or technical 
or professional schools confer? The college education is called higher 
because it is supposed to be so general and so disinterested. At 
the schools, etc." 

If you are in doubt as to whether your word or phrase will 
actually be realized as connective, you may quote it, even 
though you are quoting it from yourself; the quotation marks 
will call enough attention to it to make the connection hold. 
In the passage given below, such a phrase is taken from a 
quotation from another writer; but also, it is made in this 
case to carry even beyond the limits of one paragraph into 
the next: 

Darwin . . . aptly says: "At sea, a person's eye being six feet 
above the surface of the water, his horizon is two miles and four- 
fifths distant. In like manner, the more level the plain, the more 
nearly does the horizon approach within these narrow limits and 
this, in my opinion, entirely destroys the grandeur which one would 
have imagined that a vast plain would have possessed." 1 

I remember my first experience of a hill, after having been al- 
ways shut within "these narrow limits." W. H. Hudson. 

Without quotation marks it is doubtful whether we should 
have remembered that the phrase was used before. 

This device is occasionally effective; but it must be used 
with care. The danger is that it may tempt one to write 
loosely connected sentences when a better result would have 
come from the use of more striking phrases or shorter inter- 
vals between them. 

The second principle in regard to repetition as a device 
1 The author means "would possess." 


for connecting sentences is that the position in the sentence of 
the repeated word or phrase strongly affects its connective 
value. The most close-knit structure possible is that in which 
identical words or phrases are brought together by being 
placed at the end of one sentence and the beginning of the 
next. Compare, for instance, the difference in the knitting 
together of the two following arrangements of sentence 

Research is the only way to achieve scholarship. I mean by 
research independent investigation of an unsettled problem. 

The only way to achieve scholarship is by research. By research 
I mean independent investigation of an unsettled problem. 

In using repetition as a connective device, it is not always 
necessary to use the same words. Synonyms, or any other 
expressions that suggest the idea that is to be carried on, may 
be used with good effect. In the following paragraph the 
idea of earthworm is continued in engine, and that of smooth 
fat fields in leavening and leveling: 

The greater activity and abundance of the earthworm, as dis- 
closed by Darwin, probably has much to do with the smoothness and 
fatness of those fields, when contrasted with our own. This little 
yet mighty engine is much less instrumental in leavening and leveling 
the soil in New England than in Old. John Burroughs. 

In the following paragraph the italicized words "carry" 
a long distance: 

It is the narrowness of the valley and the nearness of the high 
downs standing over it on either side, with, at some points the 
memorials of antiquity carved on their smooth surfaces, the bar- 
rows and lynchetts or terraces, and the vast green earthworks crown- 
ing their summit. Up here on the turf, even with the lark singing 
his shrill music in the blue heavens, you are with the prehistoric 
dead, yourself for the time one of that innumerable, unsubstantial 
multitude, invisible in the sun, so that the sheep travelling as they 
graze, and the shepherd following them, pass through their ranks 
without suspecting their presence. And from that elevation you 
look down upon the life of to-day the visible life, so brief in the 
individual, which, like the swift silver stream beneath, yet flows 


on continuously from age to age and for ever. And even as you look 
down you hear, at that distance, the bell of the little hidden church 
tower telling the hour of noon, and quickly following, a shout of 
freedom and joy from many shrill voices of children just released 
from school. W. H. Hudson. 

Finally, a phrase, clause, or an entire sentence, summing 
up the thought of a paragraph, may be used at the beginning 
of the next paragraph in order to keep clearly before the 
reader the movement of the thought: 

But when art and science and philosophy have done their best 
[this sums up the preceding paragraph], there is a great deal of 
valuable material left over [this introduces the new paragraph]. 

. . . There it [truth] stands in all its shameless actuality asking, 
"What do you make of me?" 

Just here comes the beneficent mission of humor. . . . 

I have said that one may be a true poet without having any very 
important thought to communicate [summary of earlier paragraph], 
but it must be said that most great poets have been serious thinkers 
as well [new paragraph topic]. Samuel McChord Crothers. 


1. Mark all the structural devices for articulating sentences 
within the paragraphs on p. 130 of this book. In class discussion 
try the effect of omitting or changing the devices. Decide where 
they are successfully used, and where they might be added or 
omitted to the improvement of the text. 

2. Read the passages quoted on pp. 116, 125-131 of this book, 
and decide which writers are most successful in perfect and unob- 
trusive articulation of sentences. Come to class ready to defend 
your opinions. 

3. Among papers of your own written earlier this year on any sub- 
ject, find one which now seems to you crude in its use of connective 
devices. Do what you can to improve it, and submit the results 
in class. If necessary rewrite the paper. You could scarcely have 
better practice. 

4. Copy from a book or article as many different Ways of con- 
necting paragraphs, and sentences within a paragraph, as you can 
find in two hours. 


THE fundamental purpose of all writing as of all speech is 
the expression of some aspect of experience or of truth. As 
a child you were content to tell what happened, and how it 
looked when it happened; this you did by the process of narra- 
tion mixed with description. But very soon you went be- 
yond this : you desired to explain how things were done, why 
things were as they were, how you felt about them; you began 
to use exposition. And when your presentation of truth was 
challenged, you began to defend it, using the process of 

Now observe. Your purpose may be to tell a story 
nothing more; but as soon as you begin to do this, you find 
yourself doing more. You cannot use more than a few words 
before you begin to describe and to explain: 

" He walked down the street " is pure narrative. 

" He walked quickly down the shabby street " contains two 
descriptive words. 

" He walked quickly as poor clerk's always do down the 
shabby street where he had always lived" contains two ex- 
pository clauses. 

The truth is that these processes of expression are so inter- 
twined in all our utterance that it is only by a deliberate effort 
of analysis that we separate them at all. On the other hand, 
in every piece of writing one process is dominant and the 
others are- subsidiary; and this dominance is quite independ- 
ent of the purpose of the writing. This becomes clear from 
observing a few cases: 

Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is the story of a mongoose who 


killed two cobras and saved the lives of a family. But the 
story is developed by a series of expositions of the habits of 
the mongoose, the cobra, the tailor-bird, and the rat, who are 
the characters. And this exposition is helped out at every 
step by description. 

Toomai of the Elephants, on the other hand, which is the 
story of a little boy who witnessed the nocturnal dance of 
elephants in the jungle, is from the very nature of the sub- 
ject, almost entirely description. 

Stevenson's The Sire de Maletroit's Door, which tells how 
by reason of mistaken identity a man is forced to choose 
between marriage with an unknown woman and immediate 
death, is predominantly narrative; but his A Lodging for the 
Night, which tells how the poet Villon, who is also a thief, 
receives shelter and food, in time of need, from an old soldier, 
although it leans heavily upon description, is fundamentally 
an argument as to what honor is. 

So also in novels we find that sometimes narration is an 
end in itself, sometimes a mere means to serve a further pur- 
pose. Stevenson's Kidnapped and Hardy's Under the Green- 
wood Tree are alike in that both are developed largely by 
means of description; but the purpose of Kidnapped is purely 
narrative adventures are told for their Own sake; while 
the purpose of Under the Greenwood Tree is primarily ex- 
pository an interpretation is attempted of the life of the 
country people of Wessex. In many of Dickens's novels, 
the narrative is a mere cloak for the presentation of argument : 
Bleak House, for example, attacks the abuses of the Court of 
Chancery, which, as a result, were actually to some extent 

The essay is fundamentally expository in its purpose; but 
studies of nature and character depend much upon descrip- 
tion, and are frequently strung on a thread of narrative; while 
an essay of any type is likely to drift into argument at any mo- 
ment as soon as the opinion expounded is open to challenge. 


Thus far we have been speaking of creative writing 
literature. But in the scientific expression of truth we find 
these four processes scarcely less intertwined. It is true that 
here the fundamental purpose is always exposition or ar- 
gument: exposition of accepted truth; argument for or 
against aspects of truth not generally recognized. It is also 
true that in pure mathematics, logic, and metaphysics, the 
presentation of material is entirely by the process of reason- 
ing; but the moment that the sciences come to deal with the 
objective world, we find them depending upon observa- 
tion, which involves description, and upon experiment, which 
involves narration. From these two processes as bases they 
proceed to the methods of exposition. History for children 
simplifies to almost pure narration; geography, to almost 
pure description; but history and geography for mature 
minds are fundamentally exposition, with a large element 
of narration and description still included, and no little argu- 
ment superimposed. 

If, now, it is clear that these four processes are continually 
found in all sorts of combinations, that each in turn may be a 
purpose in itself and may subserve the purpose of another, 
you will see that in order to use them intelligently in your 
writing, you must isolate each and study its technique 
see how it works without reference to the others; and then 
you must study the various ways of combining them all to 
suit your purpose as you write story, essay, article, and so on. 

The following assignment is to help you to isolate these 
processes as you find them in combination; and to determine 
when one is made to serve the purpose of another. 


1. In each of the selections on pp. 103, 105, 125-130 above, what ia 
the fundamental purpose? What is the predominant process? what 
processes, if any, are subsidiary? You will answer these questions 
by asking others: Is your interest more in what happened, or how 


it looked while it was happening? Or are you primarily inter- 
ested in the meaning of it? Next, read aloud in class several para- 
graphs from each selection, with pauses after each sentence to de- 
cide: Does this tell merely what happened? or picture it as it 
happened? or explain how or why it was done as it was? When you 
have carried this work far enough, you will distinguish between the 
author's purpose, on the one hand, and his predominant process 
on the other; and you will also see how at every step of the de- 
velopment, two or three processes, and sometimes all four, are 

2. Read or listen to the reading of one or more of the following 
stories, and discuss the amount of description, exposition, and 
argument in each. Then decide whether it was written merely for 
the sake of the story, or to exemplify some aspect of truth, or to 
present an argument: De Maupassant, The Necklace; Merim^e, 
The Venus of IIU; Kipling, The Miracle of Punin Bhagat, The Man 
Who Would be King, The Man Who Was, The Brushwood Boy, 
"They"; O. Henry, The Theory and the Hound; Poe, The T ell-Tale 
Heart, The Black Cat, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Gold Bug. 

3. Discuss the use of description in such of the following novels as 
you have read: Swift, Gulliver's Travels; Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; 
Blackmore, Lorna Doone; Stevenson, Treasure Island, and The 
Merry Men; Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, and The 
Marble Faun; Mrs. Gaskell, Cranford; Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities; 
Thackeray, Vanity Fair. 

4. Spend two hours examining a textbook that you are now 
using, and note pages on which you find almost pure narration; 
others on which you find almost pure description; still others, on 
which you find almost pure explanation, and, if possible, argument. 
Discuss in class as many kinds of textbooks as possible. 



NARRATION is the skeleton of history, biography, fiction, 
and of certain types of the essay. However much they are 
built up and filled out by means of description and exposition, 
it is narration that makes them what they are. 

Narration is constructed on the principle of chronology 
or time sequence. In its simplest form it is found in the Old 
English Chronicle, in which all sorts of events are jotted down 
together, forming a sequence only because of the chronological 
arrangement of the years, thus: 

773. In this year a red Christ's cross showed in the sky after sun- 
set, and in this year the Mercians and Kentish men fought at 
Otford, and wonderful snakes were seen in Sussex. 

This is one kind of narration, events entered year after year 
without logical relationship. 

Another kind is illustrated in the talk of Miss Bates, a 
character in Jane Austen's Emma, who tells a story by asso- 
ciating everything that she can think of at the moment about 
a common centre of interest, in the order in which she hap- 
pens to remember it, thus : 

" I was so astonished when she first told me what she had been 
saying to Mrs. Elton, and when Mrs. Elton at the same moment 
came congratulating me upon it. It was before tea stay no, 
it could not be before tea, because we were just going to cards 
and yet it was before tea, because I remember thinking oh no, 
now I recollect, now I have it; something happened before tea, but 
not that. Mr. Elton was called out of the room before tea, old 
John Abdy's son wanted to speak with him. Poor old John, I have 


a great regard for him; he was clerk to my poor father twenty- 
seven years; and now, poor old man, he is bed-ridden, and very 
poorly with the rheumatic gout in his joints I must go and see 
him to-day; and so will Jane, I am sure, if she gets out at all. And 
poor John's son came to talk to Mr. Elton about relief from the 
parish; he's very well to do himself, you know, being head man at 
the Crown, ostler, and everything of that sort, but still he cannot 
keep his father without some help; and so ... That was what 
happened before tea. It was after tea that Jane spoke to Mrs. 

The art of narration involves both methods : there must be 
a continuous line of events to which the reader's attention is 
held, and these must be arranged in some definite order of 
time. The chronicler lacked continuity of subject; Miss 
Bates continuity of time. The result in each case was the 
introduction of irrelevant material. 

To narrate well, then, you must do two things. You must 
first single out from the enormous complex of events and 
facts that come into your life experience a group that can be 
seen to belong together as combined in the life of an individ- 
ual, a family, a larger social group, an institution, a city, a 
nation and you must then arrange these events in such an 
order that the attention is continually aware of a definite 
progression in time from the one that first occurred to the 
last that is included in the chosen group. 

These processes must be considered separately. 

How can you get together all the details that belong in a 
narrative and none that do not? The process may be re- 
garded as a gradual elimination of the unsuitable: 

1. In the narrative of fact the natural associations of men 
in time and place shut out an enormous amount of irrelevant 
material. If you choose to write a biography of Milton, you 
have eliminated by your mere choice the enormous number 
of facts that are not related to your subject. In fiction, your 
choice of plot eliminates all details that do not belong to your 


2. Unless you have volumes of space and years of time at 
your disposal, you must reduce your material much further. 
Then the next factor is: How much space and time can you 
give to this subject? In a paper of 500 words, you will have 
to eliminate altogether the greater part of the available facts 
about the life of Milton. 

3. The actual and unavoidable limitations of your own 
knowledge will still further reduce the number of facts at 
your disposal. You cannot write a personal account of a 
battle from the point of view of an aviator, a man in the 
trenches, and an officer at general headquarters, because you 
cannot be in three places at once. You cannot write a per- 
sonal account of the Battle of Marathon as well as of the 
Battle of the Marne; you have not lived in both times. Phys- 
ical point of view, then, makes your line of facts still narrower. 
Moreover, mental point of view also affects them. A chemist 
and a poet, an aristocrat and a socialist, a lawyer and a 
soldier and a doctor each will choose, out of material pre- 
sented to all, the facts about which he knows most and in 
which he is chiefly interested. And since the possibilities of 
an individual observer are thus limited, the writer must be 
careful not to shift his narrative from one point of view to 
another without clearly indicating the shift. 

4. But this is not all. Nobody ever tells a story acciden- 
tally or unconsciously that is, without purpose. Whatever 
the purpose may be whether to share the information, in- 
terest, amusement, or philosophy, that we have derived from 
observation of a series of related events, or whether simply 
to impress the world with our ability as a narrator a pur- 
pose of some sort underlies every narrative that comes into 
existence, and helps to determine its content. A humorous 
purpose eliminates tragedy, a philosophical purpose may 
eliminate interesting gossip, a purpose of being interesting 
may eliminate informative statistical tables, and so on. Much 
material is shut out as being irrelevant to the purpose in hand. 


5. Finally, associated with purpose yet distinct from it, 
there is the audience to be considered. A narrative intended 
for children necessarily omits much that would be included 
in one for mature readers; a history of a war written for mil- 
itary men would not do for a popular magazine, and so on. 

Summing up, we may say that the first essential of good 
narrative is to shut out all material that is irrelevant; and 
that material may be irrelevant (1) from the nature of the 
subject itself, (2) from the limitations of space and time, 
(3) from the physical and mental point of view of the nar- 
rator, (4) from the purpose in hand, and (5) from the point of 
view of the readers for whom the narrative is intended. 

The second essential of good narrative is a definite time 
order; that is, the reader's attention must be kept generally 
looking forward to events that will follow in time those on 
which it is at the moment focused. However, it is only in a 
very simple narrative of a life of few activities, or of a short 
space of time, that the time sequence can be invariably 
followed; as soon as there is any degree of complexity, two 
other time arrangements are introduced. 

By the first, the string of events is held fast for a time 
while a short backward loop is made to gather in material 
that at an earlier stage was not relevant, or material having 
a special bearing upon the particular event to which the loop 
is attached. These loops are most frequently found at the 
beginning: a striking situation is introduced, and when the 
reader's interest is regarded as secure, a backward loop is 
made to gather up the events that led to it. And at intervals 
in almost any narrative of fact or of fiction it may be advisable 
to introduce in a loop of this kind material that does not have 
a place in the general advance of the story. 

By the second method a complex event is analyzed into 
parallel strands, and at the end of each strand of events, re- 
turn is made to the beginning of the next. Thus a history of 
the Renaissance might proceed in either of two ways: 


The Renaissance in Italy, France, Germany, and England 

1. 13th century 

2. 14th century 

3. 15th century 

4. 16th century. 


The Renaissance in Europe, 13-16th century 

1. Italy, 13th-15th century 

2. France, 14th-16th century 

3. Germany, 15th-16th century 

4. England, 15th-16th century. 

Obviously the second arrangement gives a clearer impression. 
The point to be noted is that a complex narrative extends 
over space as well as over time; and the sequence must be 
halted until all the spatial elements are brought into line. 


1. Choose five of the following subjects which you think could 
be treated with some success in a paper of 500-1000 words: Milton's 
Political Career; the History of Kentucky; the History of the 
Theater; the Life of John Bunyan; the History of the Writing of 
The Pilgrim's Progress; Dr. Johnson's Relations with Lord Chester- 
field; How Tennyson Came to be a Lord; My Efforts to Make a 
Garden; The Early Colonies in Massachusetts; the Career of Alexan- 
der Hamilton; the Annexation of Alaska. 

2. State in regard to each of the subjects chosen, how it might 
and should be limited further. Make as many variations of each 
subject as possible; and reduce each to its lowest terms. 

3. Study the tables of contents of six histories or biographies, 
and make notes on the use of parallelism and "looping back." 

4. Discuss the limitations of subject-matter suggested by each 
of the following titles; where it is possible, verify your conclusions 
in regard to the book: 

Bryce's History qf the American Commonwealth; Green's History 
of the English People; Dickens's Child's History of England; Stubbs's 
Constitutional History of England; Strickland's Lives of the Queens 
of England; Traill's Social England. 

5. Collect instances of the "looping back" process as used in 
fiction. Note when it occurs at the beginning of a story and when 


later. Use stories in current numbers of good magazines. You 
may recall illustrations in novels that you have read; it is likely 
to occur in the explanation of a mystery. 

6. Relate in class some recent experience of your own, to see 
how far you tell it progressively and how often you have to go 
back and pick up dropped threads. 

7. Relate in two or three minutes the plot of some novel that is 
familiar to all the class, to see how far you tell the incidents in the 
order in which they should come, and how often you find yourself 
saying "Oh, I should have told you first. . . ." 

8. Decide upon some novel familiar to all the class, and in 200 
words or less write an outline of its plot in the order in which the 
incidents are related in the book. Do this from memory, and 
verify by referring to the book. Note any instances of "looping 
back" that may occur. 


When you have determined approximately the material 
that belongs to your narrative, you must next consider how 
it is to be fitted into the space at your disposal. Suppose, 
for example, you are asked to write something about Milton 
in 1000 words, and that your paper is to be read before a 
club. You may say to yourself: "These people know nothing 
about Milton; I'd better give them a general survey of his 
career." Or you may say: "These people know all about 
Milton as a poet; I will write about his career as a patriot." 
In the first case you will have far more facts to deal with than 
in the second; you will have to condense much more your 
treatment of each fact; your paper will be on a smaller scale. 
Here your problem is not so much one of elimination as one of 
settling the relative proportions of the material that must be 
included. But whether your scale be large or small, all the 
parts of your narrative must be planned so that each gets the 
proportion of space due to the relative importance or unim- 
portance of each idea. 

To make such a scale, a good plan is to begin by asking 


yourself the following questions : Which is the most important 
aspect? What other features must be treated in a general 
survey? How do they compare in importance with one an- 
other and with the leading aspect? How much space must 
I leave for the main aspect in order that it shall dominate? 
How much can I spare for each of the others? By answering 
these questions your scale for a general survey of Milton's 
career would approximate this: 

1. Parentage, education, and travel (100 words) 

2. Early career as poet (200 words) 

3. Career as patriot (200 words) 

4. Late career as poet (500 words) 

Without such a preliminary consideration of space and scale, 
your paper might easily take some such distorted form as this : 

1. Parentage (50 words) 

2. Education (200 words) 

3. Travel (100 words) 

4. Early career as poet (300 words) 

5. Career as patriot (300 words) 

6. Late career as poet (50 words) 

You begin on too large a scale, give half your paper to pre- 
liminaries, and exceed your space before you reach your most 
important point, and so are obliged to deal with it in a few 
hasty words at the end. 

It is only by a mathematical allotment of space beforehand 
that you can learn to proportion the parts of your narrative 
so that the whole composition is on the scale demanded by 
your space limits. 

But, you may ask, how shall I know what is most im- 
portant what needs most space? In every group of asso- 
ciated events certain ones stand out as having an absolute 
and permanent importance; in Milton's life, for instance, the 
two outstanding facts are his blindness and the creation of 
Paradise Lost. But there are other events which have 
shifting values, dependent upon the narrator's purpose, his 


point of view, and the interests of his audience; these are 
likely to throw a narrative out of scale. 

In the Middle Ages when people had more time than they 
knew what to do with, and when story-telling was one means 
of getting rid of it, there were many tales that were made 
almost interminable by stringing together an indefinite series 
of events without regard to their relative importance or un- 
importance. It was done in this way: 

And also a young man, who did not know about the dragon, 
went out of a ship, and went through the isle till he came to the 
castle, and came into the cave; and went on till he found a chamber, 
and there he saw a damsel that was combing her hair and looking 
in a mirror. . . . Sir John de Mandeville. 

Now the point of this story is obviously the meeting with the 
dragon. Why need we be told in detail how the man went 
through the isle? The account can be reduced more than one- 
fourth and gain in interest if these unimportant details are 
omitted, thus: 

And also a young man, who did not know about the dragon, 
went out of a ship to the castle, where in a chamber of the cave 
he saw a damsel combing her hair and looking in a mirror. . . . 

But suppose the point of the story was not what happened 
when the man met the dragon but how he discovered the 
castle and overcame obstacles in getting to it; then the 
omitted details must be put back and emphasized: how he 
got lost on his way through the isle, how he was dazed by 
what he saw, how he resisted enchantment in the cave, etc. 
In the one case, the details are to be taken for granted; in 
the other, they leap into prominence, but, as Kipling used to 
say, "That is another story." 

The careful analysis of narrative material, to observe both 
the gradations of scale determined by space limits and the 
adjustment of part to part on one scale of treatment, is an 
admirable way to get an idea of the flexibility of the materials 


of narration. Such an analysis may be written in sentence 
form or as a topical outline; but it should be made on cards, 
with a rough estimate of the number of words given to each 
event in the narrative. 

Perhaps equally valuable is practice in making abstracts 
of both history and fiction, in order to see what material is 
eliminated as the scale is reduced. It is particularly helpful 
to take the same piece of work and reduce it to its lowest 
terms by a series of abstracts, each of which suggests treat- 
ment on a different scale. For instance, take a passage of 
400 words and reduce it, trying to keep the most important 
ideas and eliminating the least important, to 200; then to 100; 
then to 50; and finally to a single sentence. Take a story 
and gradually cut out the less important events until it is re- 
duced to a single sentence. 

In making an abstract, first read each paragraph carefully 
to see whether its substance is summed up in a topic sentence; 
if so, you will be saved the trouble of making one. 


1. Make an abstract in 400 words, then in 200, 100, and 50 words, 
of some historical or biographical article, or chapter of a biography. 
The following biographies from the Dictionary of National Biography, 
or from some good encyclopaedia would be suitable: 

Thomas Chatterton, Samuel Pepys, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter 
Raleigh, John Bunyan, Horace Walpole, Prince Rupert, Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, David Garrick, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, William 
Morris, Christina Rossetti. 

2. From the article or chapter that you have chosen for 1 select 
a portion of the life or of the period of history which you think 
would be interesting for a paper of 500 words. Make notes from 
your source of information of the main episodes that should be 
developed, and discuss the scale of treatment and features that 
should be emphasized. 

3. Give the main incidents in an imaginary attempt at theft from 
three points of view: (1) the thief's; (2) the victim's; and (3) a by- 

Note changes of emphasis required by the hypothesis that the thief 


is (1) starving, (2) a kleptomaniac; that the victim is (1) a nervous 
old lady, (2) a football star; that the bystander is (1) a policeman; 
(2) a child. 

4. Compare two chapters in two histories dealing with the same 
subject but for entirely different classes of readers, to see how the 
emphasis varies. Green's Short History of the English People and 
a one-volume History of England make a good contrast. Note 
on cards the different allotment of space to different subjects. If a 
chapter is too long, take a portion of a chapter that deals with a 
single phase of some subject. 


On any scale of treatment many details which are unim- 
portant for the purpose in hand must be omitted. There are 
various ways in which this elimination can be successfully 
managed, among them these : 

1. Getting rid of the machinery of an event. 

2. Summing up hi a transition paragraph uneventful 

3. Passing from one dramatic moment to another, leaving 
the reader to infer what has happened in the interval. 

One of the commonest causes of ineffectiveness in narration 
is failure to distinguish between details that have narrative 
value in themselves, and details that are mere machinery, 
and as such should be taken for granted. In the following 
sentence the machinery is inclosed between parentheses : 

This morning I (dressed and walked downtown after I had had 
breakfast and) bought an imported hat for ten dollars. 

Unless there is some reason for emphasizing the parenthet- 
ical matter for example, if the speaker were an invalid 
the narrative gains point by omitting it as something to be 
understood. Yet how many people have learned to omit 
details of this kind in conversation? 

Most fiction is overloaded with machinery, which is used 
as mere decoration or filling. In an artistic story there is 


not a look or a gesture that has not a definite value for plot, 
character, or atmosphere. 

In narrative of fact, on the other hand, the value of ma- 
chinery for dramatic presentation is too little understood. 

It is a safe rule when you are writing fiction, to see how 
much invented machinery you can omit; and when you are 
writing fact, to see how much machinery necessarily involved 
in the main events you can put in. 

One useful device is the transition paragraph beginning: 
So months passed . . . ; Some time elapsed without much 
change in the situation; Several days later . . . This as- 
sumes either that the intervening events are of the type just 
narrated in full, or that there are no events of importance. 
By summarizing in this way the colorless parts of your 
narrative you save space so that you can develop more fully 
other parts on which you wish to focus the reader's attention. 
Note also that these transition passages have a double value: 
they give background against which the dramatic scenes 
stand out the more distinctly, and they afford a momentary 
relief to the reader's attention. 

More effective and more modern is the method of passing 
from one dramatic point to the next without indication of the 
intervening episodes, which must, naturally, be of a sort 
that can be safely inferred by the reader. Mr. Arnold Ben- 
nett, for instance, in a short story called The Lions Share, 
represents his hero, Horace, as the lifelong victim of his 
younger brother, Gerald, whom as a child he had the mis- 
fortune to injure. Gerald not merely lives upon his brother, 
but cuts him out in his one love affair. We have a long ac- 
count of a tea party in which it seems that Horace is about 
to win the girl, a long account of the sudden arrival of Gerald, 
and of his effect upon the girl. Then, instead of giving de- 
tails of the way in which Gerald cuts out Horace, Bennett 

The wedding cost Horace a large sum of money". . . . 


Whenever this sharp transition from one important point 
in the narrative to another can be made with perfect clear- 
ness, it saves space, and secures emphasis. 

The best way to learn to use these devices is to observe 
continually how they are used in the work of skilled writers 
to secure striking effects with the greatest economy of words. 


1. Try to observe in your own use of narration as you talk, and 
in the narratives of people to whom you listen, the coordination 
of important details with the machinery associated with them. 
Note and bring to class any striking instances of this that you 
observe in yourself or in others, and show how the narrative might 
be improved by omission. 

2. Copy and bring to class for discussion ten transition para- 
graphs or sentences from history, biography, or fiction. Try to 
get as many types as possible. While you are doing this, note on 
separate cards instances in which the reader is left to make the 

3. In the fiction of a good magazine note ten or more instances 
in which the events of a period of time are left to be imagined by 
the reader. Distinguish between the cases in which the events are 
of the same sort as those previously described in the story, and 
those in which they are simply unimportant. 

4. PLOT 

In narrative of fact we are bound to keep things in their 
actual relations in time and space: we may not change the 
date of the Battle of the Marne, or call General Cadorna a 
Frenchman. In fiction we may choose time and place at will, 
but we must have plot. The root-idea of the word fiction is 
made-up, imagined', and the root-idea of the word plot is 
pattern. Fiction, then, is narrative put together according 
to some pattern. 

The facts of human experience we relate in terms of space 
and time, and as far as we can, of cause and effect; and so we 


make history and biography. In fiction we use the same 
human experience; but instead of representing it as it is, we 
tear it to pieces and rebuild it to conform to and exhibit a 
special pattern, commonly called a plot. 

The essence of plot is instability. In life we find infinitely 
variable series of periods of quiescence and of activity or 
change; but plot is concerned only with the element of change. 
In life a group of persons may go on in a routine that scarcely ( 
varies for years at a time; then suddenly there is upheaval, 
and the stability of their lives is overthrown. For a time, 
long or short, routine disappears, every phase of experience 
is freshly considered; almost every day brings change; then 
readjustment takes place, and a new routine follows. But 
during these periods of change there lies perhaps in every 
life the possibility of a story, that is, biography plus 

The first thing, then, that plot does is to throw experience 
out of focus : it expands episodes and sums up years in a sen- 
tence or a phrase. It has its origin in the element of change 
in life, and it moves from the breaking up of one unstable 
situation to another which is relatively stable. In the plot 
of tragedy this is the unredeemable defeat of the ambition 
or aspiration perhaps the death of the person in whose 
fortune we are for the time interested; in the plot of comedy, 
his success in the line of action which was involved in the 
opening situation. In the entire movement of plot there is, 
except for contrast and relief, no moment of rest; each un- 
stable situation breaks up into other situations, which 
immediately break up into others. The whole story sweeps 
forward in ceaseless progression at different paces, it is 
true, and with emphasis on different features, but without 
rest until the full stop in the last situation. If, as sometimes 
happens, this presently breaks up into a fresh series, we have 
a sequel to the original story. 

Remember to distinguish sharply between plot and the 


story of which it forms part of the machinery. Novels are 
often written as imitation biographies or autobiographies, 
in which perhaps a third of the book or more is given to 
memories of childhood almost lacking in plot interest. All 
novels have plot in varying degrees as well as in different 
patterns; but the fundamental quality of plot itself is un- 
ceasing change. 

But instability change always involves a conflict of 
forces a tug in two directions. This may be external 
the clash of human wills, or the fight of a human being with 
his environment, social or physical; or it may be internal 
the conflict of desires and motives within a personality. In 
the highest types of literature it is usually both. In stories 
of adventure, and in such novels as most of Scott's and 
Dickens's, the conflict is largely external; in psychological 
studies, and in such novels as Henry James's, it is largely in- 
ternal. In the novels of Thackeray, Meredith, and the chief 
contemporary novelists, both kinds of struggle are found in 
varying degrees. 

In this conflict the reader is partisan; he always identifies 
himself more or less completely with the figure Or figures 
about whom the story centers, and accordingly is in a state 
of suspense until he knows the outcome of the series of 
changes. The more strongly this suspense is felt, the greater 
is the pull or tension of the plot. The story with the most 
successful plot is that which the reader "cannot put down" 
until he knows "how it comes out." 

Now this suspense is the result of certain definite devices. 
One of these is increasing the tension as the story develops. 
This increase is necessary because any feeling wears off unless 
it is intensified or jogged. After a time the reader will grow 
comfortably callous to the hero's sorrows or escapes, thinking; 
"He will come out all right as he always does." What then? 
The writer must increase the trouble or the danger until his 
invention is exhausted when, of course, it is time to end 


the book. But the plot, if it is to hold the attention per- 
fectly, must involve the reader in a succession of thrills each 
of which is in some way more exciting than the one before it. 

These thrills are due to something more than the steady 
increase of tension; they come only when the attention is 
jogged. This jogging is accomplished by breaking the sus- 
pense here and there barely long enough for the reader to 
give a gasp of relief, and then bringing back the complica- 
tions worse than they were before. By force of contrast the 
reader then feels them more keenly than before; and he reads 
with a succession of thrills. 

Each point where the plot thickens is called a climax. 
And the chief climax is always, in a well-constructed plot, 
that point at which the complication of the action is com- 
pleted and the force or forces are introduced which finally 
result in the "untying of the knot." There may be but one 
principal climax in a plot; but usually we find a succession 
of lesser climaxes leading up to the chief one. 

The suspense in plot may be of two sorts. In tragic plot 
the reader from the first sees the inevitable outcome, and 
watches it just as in life he might watch fascinated a man's 
struggles to escape from the whirlpool of Niagara. His ques- 
tion is never: What will be the end of this? but always: How 
long can defeat be postponed, and how will it come about in 
the end? 

In comedy plot, the end is not seen to be inevitable; on 
the contrary, it looks impossible. The reader's question 
becomes: How can this turn out as I wish? And his interest 
may be screwed up tightened in two ways: (1) by befog- 
ging him, and (2) by misleading him. 

Befogging him means so complicating the episodes that no 
way out appears; and misleading him means making every 
episode seem to lead directly away from the desired end. In 
Dickens 's novels we are usually befogged as to the outcome, 
often by the interposition between hero and heroine of 


subplot and counterplot, involving many minor characters. 
In Jane Austen's Persuasion we are most delicately led to 
believe that Captain Wentworth is in love with Louisa, even 
as Anne Elliott, the heroine, is led to believe it. 

These are the basic ideas on which an infinity of plot 
patterns have been built up in the novel and the drama. 
The short story, which as a type has practically been created 
within the last half century, has a technique of its own, 
which needs separate study. Variety of plot depends aside 
from the distinction between tragedy and comedy upon 
the nature of the episodes chosen for development; but into 
this phase of the subject we have here no space to enter. 

Each writer chooses and combines such material as his 
experience of life brings him, but always along the lines here 
suggested. He may have a double thread, as in Vanity Fair, 
where we follow out the tragedy of Becky Sharp and the 
comedy of Amelia Sedley. He may have a multiple plot, as 
Dickens usually had, in which comedy and tragedy elements 
are tangled. He may write almost straight biography, as 
Thackeray does in Henry Esmond, and even continue this 
through several generations, as Arnold Bennett does in The 
Old Wives' Tale. Or he may write a narrative of several 
social groups which reads almost like history with only a 
subtle and elusive plot pattern, as Tolstoi did in War and 
Peace. But wherever plot appears at all, it does actually 
conform to the same general principles. 


1. Analyze the plot technique of such of the following novels 
as you have read: Tess of the D'Urbervilles; Under the Greenwood 
Tree; Bleak House; Little Dorrit; David Copperfield; Vanity Fair; 
The Newcomes; Pride and Prejudice; Jane Eyre; The Mill on the 
Floss; Silas Marner; Middlemarch; Diana of the Crossways; The 
Egoist; Lord Jim; Lorna Doone; The Heart of Mid-Lothian; Ken- 
ilworth; Kidnapped; Treasure Island. 

In doing this, use the following suggestions: 


(1). Is the type biographical, autobiographical, historical, 
social, or simply episodic? 

(2). Is the plot single, double, or multiple? If you find 
more than one plot classify each as tragedy or comedy. 

(3). State the central figure or figures; the nature of the con- 
flict; the opening and closing situations, showing that the first 
is unstable and the last stable; and the climax or climaxes. 

(4). Show how the reader is befogged or misled or both. 

(5). Show how years are telescoped and episodes are expanded. 

(6) . Distinguish between plot and non-plot elements. 
2. Write a careful analysis in 300 words of one of these books, 
discussing all the points enumerated above. 



THE simplest use of description is for identification. It 
involves merely an exact catalogue, more or less complete, 
of the qualities which chiefly distinguish an individual from 
the other members of the species to which it belongs. This 
kind of description is continually used in the sciences; and it 
is found in practical life in the LOST columns of newspapers, 
Police Bulletins, catalogues, and classified advertisements. 
With this form of description we have here nothing to do. 

Description, in the wider sense, has a totally different aim. 
It aims to stimulate the reader's imagination, to cause the 
reader to awaken in himself certain images that appeal to 
the senses. This is not to cause the reader to see exactly 
what the writer has seen. No two people ever see the same 
thing, even at the same time, in exactly the same way : every 
one differs from every one else in his senses and in his 
standards. Titian-red hair means one thing to me, another to 
you; and it meant something still different to Titian himself. 
Description does not aim to transfer impressions, because 
this transfer is manifestly impossible. It does not identify 
for you something that I have seen; it simply tries to make 
you construct from your own experience a mental image that 
fits my description. This is done by means of words that 
convey impressions and suggestions of sight, sound, smell, 
taste, touch. The writer begins with a complex experience 
and tries to compress it into such words; the reader begins 
with the words and tries unconsciously, of course to 


expand them, to make them live and grow, in terms of his 
own experience. It follows that the more experiences writer 
and reader have in common, the more perfect will be the 
correspondence between the image intended and the image 
evoked. Between two people of similar temperaments who 
have had exactly the same experience, a single word will often 
transfer an imaged memory of a scene with all its sights and 
sounds and smells. 

" Fuenterrabia " what image does the word convey to 
you? To me it brings a vision first of all of yellowness: of a 
wide sheen of beach, of tiers of sun-burned house-fronts; 
of many balconies trailing nasturtiums; of a golden-domed 
cathedral all burning in intolerable sunlight. And with 
this comes a clear memory of a street like a sheer narrow 
ravine climbing the hillside; of cobbles that hurt the feet; of 
the echo of my own footsteps; and finally of a smell of damp 
cellar, hot grease, olives, and sour wine, that haunted the 
shaded way. These are some of the images evoked for me 
by the utterance of a single word. 

But how shall I describe the place for you who have not 
seen it? I must use words that appeal to your experience, 
whoever you are and wherever you have lived. You know 
yellow; you have seen sand on the shore or in the desert 
somewhere; you know how sun-burned things look, you 
know nasturtiums, golden domes, ravines, cobbles, and the 
smell of damp cellars, olives, hot grease, and sour wine. 
Probably you have not experienced all these things in com- 
bination, but with the aid of imagination you blend them and 
make a picture which is not my picture nor the picture of 
anyone else who has seen the place. Yet for you it is real be- 
cause you have created it. Now the test of success in descrip- 
tion is the extent to which it stimulates the reader's imag- 
ination to this creative process. How is this stimulation 

The first step is to translate the unknown into terms that 


are familiar. It does not do, for example, to say, "He was 
uniformed like a mandarin duck," unless you have reason 
to suppose that your reader has seen mandarin ducks. But 
the art of description involves much more than this. It in- 
volves first of all a continual shifting of attention from the 
abstract to the concrete, from the general to the specific: 
"There is movement (abstract) in that bush. What is it? 
It is an animal (concrete). It is a brindled yellow cat, hop- 
ping on three legs, and carrying a baby rabbit in his mouth" 
(specific) . By close observation movement is translated into 
animal, and animal is resolved into its most striking qual- 
ities, with the result that the reader is able to construct a 
sharply-defined picture out of his previous experiences of 
cats and rabbits. 

The fundamental condition, then, of good description is 
that he who attempts it must first wake up all his senses; 
he must see, hear, smell, taste, and touch as far as he can 
everything that comes into his experience. 

The second and closely associated condition is that he 
must immediately begin to compare these sense impressions, 
so that he can say: "This is like that"; and also: "This is 
found with that, but no two things could be more different." 
In this way he will acquire not merely a host of vivid sense 
impressions, but such flexibility in shifting his attention 
from one to another that he can immediately group about 
one that is unfamiliar to his reader a host of others that 
are familiar, and choose the one word or the group of words 
that will stimulate the imagination to form a definite picture. 

" She wore a green dress " do you get a picture? Was the 
color olive-green, emerald-green, sea-green, apple-green, 
gray-green, moss-green, bottle-green, blue-green, bronze- 
green or the hideous green of desk blotting paper? The 
writer must say which if he wishes the reader to construct 
a picture. 

To describe well, then, it is necessary first to cultivate 


the sharp senses of a naturalist, then to classify your impres- 
sions so that one can be made to explain another. In this 
process of classification is involved the exact fitting of the 
specific and concrete word to the impression. Observe how 
these three conditions are met by a naturalist in the following 
descriptions of color, sound, taste and smell: 

There were jelly-fish of opalescent silver, scalloped with sepia, 
alive with medusa locks a tangle of writhing, stinging strands. . . . 
Iridescent, feathery-footed sea-worms, pale green sea-snakes, blue 
translucent shrimps all came to our net. . . . William Beebe. 

Do you know sepia, medusa locks? The writer assumes that 
you do. Do you know the difference between opalescent, 
iridescent, and translucent? The writer is writing for people 
who do. 

In the following are sound and motion combined, because 
in the reality they were inseparable. The description is of 
bats in a cave: 

From the inky darkness of some hidden fissure they dropped 
almost to my face; then, with a whip of their leathery wings, they 
turned and vanished in the dark cavern ahead. The noise their 
wings made was incredibly loud; sometimes a purring, as fifty small 
ones whirred past together; then a sharp singing, and finally a 
sharp whistling twang as a single giant bat twisted and flickered 
on his frightened way. William Beebe. 

Do not all these familiar sounds and movements enable you 
to imagine the unfamiliar experience? 

Here is the description of a Malaysian fruit: 

With rotten eggs as a basis, if one adds sour milk and lusty Lim- 
burger cheese ad lib., an extremely unpleasant mixture may be 
produced. It quite fails, however, as an adequate simile to durian. 

William Beebe. 

Here you are asked not merely to build up an impression but 
to increase the scale as you build to exaggerate the blended 
impression. Does not this change of scale stimulate the 


Before you attempt to write description, you should prac- 
tise testing and classifying your sense impressions; and should 
give yourself some training in these respects. You will be 
surprised to find how quickly your senses respond to the 
suggestion. You might begin by trying to remember the 
color, shape, sound, taste, smell, etc., of certain familiar 
things; continue by examining them to correct your impres- 
sions; and conclude by trying to associate them with as many 
others as you can find in each case to suggest them to other 
people. The reading of work that shows the closest sort of 
observation is a help, in that it shows the possibilities of 
development of the powers of the senses. For this purpose 
especially valuable writings are: Henri Fabre's Life of the 
Spider; John Burroughs's nature studies; W. H. Hudson's 
Nature in Downland; William Beebe's articles in The Atlantic 
Monthly, now published under the title Jungle Peace 


1. Write in class a phrase giving your impression of each of the 
following tastes. Either suggest what it is like and explain the 
difference, or make a blend of several tastes. Use the allied senses 
of touch and smell whenever you need to do so: sweet potato, paw- 
paw, celery, radish, parsnip, plum pudding, lemon jelly, grape fruit, 
maple syrup, whipped cream, milk chocolate. 

2. Distinguish in a sentence between the tastes of the following 
kinds of apples: Spitzenbergs, russets, Jonathans, or any other 
three kinds. 

3. Kipling describes the smell of a country cottage thus: 
"... the smell of the box-tree by the dairy window mixed with 

the smell of earth after rain, bread after baking, and a tickle of wood- 
smoke." Use his method in describing in a sentence each the 
smell of (1) an attic; (2) a cellar; (3) a kitchen, (4) a room long 
closed; (5) a ship; (6) some other place of blended odors. 

4. Describe in a phrase each of the following sounds: sawing, 
drawing a foot out of thick mud, skating, walking in wet snow, 
frying, boiling. 

5. Distinguish in 30 words or less between the following sounds 
in each group; the horns of three automobiles; a violin, a mandolin, 


and a guitar; an oboe and a French horn; the noises made by a cat 
and a dog to express different emotions; an express train and a fast 

6. Describe in a phrase the feeling of each of the following to 
the touch: sandpaper; tweed; a wet sponge; a dry sponge; chewing 

7. Distinguish in a sentence each the difference in the appeal 
to touch of the following: velvet and plush; all wool and mixed 
wool and cotton goods; two kinds of fur; jelly and curds. 

8. Describe in less than 50 words each: (1) the sights and sounds 
from your window observed in ten minutes; (2) sounds heard in 
the house after you have gone to bed. 

9. Describe from memory in a sentence or two the song of any 
bird or the sound made by any animal. 

10. Describe briefly from memory any peculiarly vivid impression 
of smell, taste, or touch made upon you in childhood. 

11. Does the following suggest to you any similar memory? If 
so, tell it as exactly and naturally as you can (200-300 words). 
The child was a little girl: 

"Down among the long wet grass there was a trickle of a stream 
which only ran after heavy rain, as it was an overflow from the 
drive gutter. It poured out in a little dribble of water from a 
drain-pipe into a pool, and then wandered off through winding 
banks till it fell gently into a bigger pool too big ever to be filled, 
and the water only made it muddy in patches and then lost itself 
in the grass, In t summer the pool was caked dry, and had cracks 
in it, as if there had been an earthquake. There my brother Bert 
and I used to play, damming the stream with mud, and then making 
a gap and letting the stopped-up water rush through with fury. 
When I put my face on the grass the stream looked as if it were 
the size of a big river, with cliff-like banks and a rough green forest 
hanging over the edges." Joan Arden. 

12. Make a short study (about 100 words) of the gathering of 
flowers, fruits, or nuts, as remembered from childhood, in the manner 
of this little sketch. Try to select the few essential features that 
give a strong general impression and feeling of the scene: 

"Sometimes on summer mornings in the holidays, when the sun 
had yet only touched the tree-tops, I went in the fields to look for 
mushrooms. Then suddenly pushing through the wet grass I 
would see the white roundness of one, and others near it. They 
looked astonishingly holy, and were warm with life and wet with 
drops of dew on them, and when I touched my face with them they 


were tender, and the smell of their growing was strong. But when 
the sun shone hot on the grass and dried it I found no more and 
went home." Joan Arden. 

13. Make another short study of any similar use of imagination 
in childhood suggested to you by this sketch: 

"There was also a little beech tree, which had a bough near the 
ground spreading out like a fan. I tied string on to four of the 
outermost twigs, then I stood on the main branch and gathered 
up the reins of my horses and drove them with fury, as I have seen 
ancient Britons in a circus drive their teams of horses from a chariot. 
I bent them to the ground with my feet, and let them spring so 
that the old brown leaves of last summer, which still clung to the 
twigs, made a rustling noise." Joan Arden. 

14. What are your first memories of a train? Read the following 
picture and make a short sketch (200 words) based on your own 
experience and impressions: 

"From the bedroom windows of our house we could see the gray 
station down in the valley, and the trains creeping in and out. We 
could sit on the window-sill and draw them, and even at that dis- 
tance feel how exciting and friendly they were, so that it would 
have hurt us not to hear the happy noises of puffing, or the com- 
plaining repetition of the shock down a line of trucks when an 
engine bumped into the first one. It was still more exciting to be 
on the single platform the station was the terminus of a branch 
line on summer evenings when the London train was expected, 
and the milkcarts came rattling up to fetch away the empty cans. 
Then we heard the hollow click of the signal going down, and the 
few people on the platform became suddenly alert. We strained 
our eyes to see the first white puff of smoke, and suddenly the engine 
came in with a rush, sizzling and dripping with heat like a great 
animal." Joan Arden. 

15. Have you had any experience similar to this? If so, tell 
about it as simply and as unemotionally as is done in this paragraph. 
The beauty of the work lies in the detached manner of reproducing 
almost without comment an experience which to the child was full 
of emotional suggestion: 

"Now and then when I was still quite young, I was allowed to 
go to church on dark Sunday evenings. I remember very clearly 
that once my mother and I waited at the end of the service while 
the organ was played. The sounds seemed to rise into the heights 
of the tower square. The people were streaming out, and the night 
wind through the open doors made the yellow gas-jets flare. Then 


a dark-bearded sexton went round, turning out all but a few of 
the lights, till the church was dim. The chancel, which had been 
blazing with light, was now lit only by the distant half-turned- 
down gas. Still the music went on, and I heard the chink of money 
being counted in the vestry. Then my father, who was the clergy- 
man, strode slowly across the square under the tower towards us, 
his head thrown back as if he were looking at the sounds of the 
music, which I thought chased one another about near the roof. 
He sat at the end of our pew, his face quiet with thinking, till it 
was all over. Then our feet made a clattering noise on the pave- 
ment of the great empty church, and we went home up the field- 
path in the dark windy night." Joan Arden. 


Suppose you describe a girl thus: "She is very small and 
dainty, always dressed in pale, delicate shades of color, 
preferably pale pinks and blues. She has a pink and white 
complexion, blue eyes, yellow hair, and doll-like features." Is 
not all this suggested by "She looked like a Dresden china 
shepherdess"? And does not this give a more vivid, because 
more concentrated, image of the girl? 

If you suggest to your reader a single familiar image, his 
memory will reconstruct it for him. If you bid him with the 
aid of imagination construct a new image, he will have to 
blend it out of several memories. If you give him many 
details to work upon, the danger is that you will clog the 
wheels of his mental machinery, and disable him from pro- 
ducing any clear impression at all. As in drawing the best 
results sometimes come from the fewest lines, so in descrip- 
tion, with comparatively simple subjects, a few striking de- 
tails make a deeper and clearer impression than a larger 
number, even though these may all be good in themselves. 
The next problem in description, then, becomes choice of 

No subject is so simple that it does not offer far more 
material than could be used in any description. What prin- 
ciple governs choice? Before deciding this, let us observe 


the comfortable fact that there are certain natural elimina- 
tions of details. 

The description of Fuenterrabia was an impression of 
some one who was in the streets of the town on a glaring 
summer day. Here is a sketch of the same place viewed from 
across the river three miles away on a chilly evening: 

A low, grey hump of a town, crested with a square black fort 
and a dim cupola, perhaps of some church, huddled between sharp- 
peaked purple mountains half hidden in swirling mists and the 
grey estuary that merged into a sea of steel. 

The two descriptions have only one detail in common the 
cupola, which is clearly a dominant feature of the scene. 
What has completely eliminated one set of details and sub- 
stituted another? There are at least three transforming 
factors: (1) the point of view; (2) the time of day; (3) the 
weather. The first made it impossible to say anything about 
balconies, flowers, cobbles, or smells and changed the scale 
of the picture; the second and third entirely changed the 
colors. So, in general, if you are describing a view from a 
hill, you cannot go into detail about a town in the plain; 
if a scene in the town, you must remember how details look 
from the exact place where you are supposed to be, at the 
time and under the light conditions that prevail. 

But there are other determinants of what shall and what 
shall not be included in a description. No two people see 
exactly the same details in a scene or in a person, not merely 
because their eyes are different, but also because they are 
by training and experience accustomed to look for certain 
features and to neglect others. As a painter is more aware 
of color and a sculptor of form, so a farmer sees in a land- 
scape what is and might be grown there; a real estate agent 
views the same place as a possible site for a town; and a tired 
tramp stealing a ride shuts his eyes and does not look at 
the country at all. So it is with houses, dresses, faces, all 
aspects of life that come before our eyes: things that are 


beautiful to one are ugly to another, and no two people see 
the same combinations of details. Nor is this the whole of 
the matter. As appearances change according to the light 
in which they are viewed, so they change according to the 
mood of the observer. An empty house that seems pictur- 
esque in a happy mood, may seem dreary when the observer 
himself is melancholy. Both the general character of the 
observer and his special mood at the time of observation, 
then, affect the choice of details, bringing about further 
elimination among all that might be seen from a particular 
point of view and under particular conditions of time and 

All these necessary eliminations greatly simplify the prob- 
lem of choice. If you are writing a description in your own 
person, and you do not shift your point of view or attempt 
to combine into one impressions derived from different occa- 
sions, you have only to be true to your own eyes and your 
own temperament and mood in order to make a true pic- 
ture. It may contain too many details to help the reader to 
build his own imaginative picture; but it will at least be true. 


1. Analyze the following descriptions to determine as far as 
possible in each case: (1) the point of view; (2) the time of day, 
season of the year, and weather; (3) the character and occupation 
of the observer; (4) his mood at the time of observation: 

" The loudest sound in the wood was the humming in the trees; 
there was no wind, no sunshine; a summer day, still and shadowy, 
under large clouds high up. To this low humming the sense of 
hearing soon became accustomed, and it served but to render the 
silence deeper. In time, as I sat, waiting and listening, there came 
the faintest far-off song of a bird away in the trees; the merest thin 
upstroke of sound, slight in structure, the echo of the strong spring 
singing. This was the summer repetition, dying away. A willow- 
wren still remembered his love, and whispered about it to the silent 
fir tops, as in after days we turn over the pages of letters, withered 
as leaves, and sigh. So gentle, so low, so tender a song the willow- 


wren sang that it could scarce be known as the voice of a bird, but 
was like that of some yet more delicate creature with the heart of a 
woman" Richard Jefferies. 

" Next morning the August sun shone, and the wood was all 
a-hum with insects. The wasps were working at the pine boughs 
high overhead; the bees by dozens were crowding to the bramble 
flowers; swarming on them. . . .; humble-bees went wandering 
among the ferns in the copse and in the ditches and calling at 
every purple heath-blossom, at the purple knap-weeds, purple 
thistles, and broad handfuls of yellow-weed flowers. Wasp-like 
flies barred with yellow suspended themselves in the air between 
the pine-trunks like hawks hovering, and suddenly shot them- 
selves a yard forward or to one side, as if the rapid vibration of 
their wings while hovering had accumulated force which drove 
them as if discharged from a cross-bow. The sun had set all things 
in motion." Richard Jeff eries. 

" Three fruit-pickers women were the first people I met near 
the village [in Kent]. They were clad in 'rags and jags,' and the 
face of the eldest was in 'jags' also. It was torn and scarred by 
time and weather; wrinkled, and in a manner twisted like the fan- 
tastic turns of a gnarled tree-trunk, hollow and decayed. Through 
these jags and tearings of weather, wind, and work, the nakedness 
of the countenance the barren framework was visible; the cheek- 
bones like knuckles, the chin of brown stoneware, the upper-lip 
smooth, and without the short groove which should appear between 
lip and nostrils." Richard Jefferies. 

" A single vast gray cloud covered all the country, from which 
the small rain and mist had just begun to blow down in wavy 
sheets, alternately thick and thin. The trees of the fields and 
plantations writhed like miserable men as the air wound its way 
swiftly among them: the lowest portions of their trunks, that had 
hardly ever been known to move, were visibly rocked by the fiercer 
gusts, distressing the mind by its painful unwontedness, as when 
a strong man is seen to shed tears. Low-hanging boughs went 
up and down; high and erect boughs went to and fro; the blasts 
being so irregular, and divided into so many cross-currents, that 
neighboring branches of the same tree swept the sky in independent 
motions, crossed each other, or became entangled. Across the 
open spaces flew flocks of green and yellowish leaves, which, after 
traveling a long distance from their parent trees, reached the 
ground, and lay there with their under-sides upward." Thomas 



The chief danger of the inexperienced writer when he at- 
tempts a description involving more than a few details is 
that he tries to photograph what he sees. He says to him- 
self in effect: "This place is so different from others of its 
kind that if I only put in enough of its striking features, the 
reader must see it as I do." This theory ignores the fun- 
damental truth which we have been emphasizing, that no 
one can make anyone else see what he sees. But because the 
belief that he can is so deep-rooted, it is worth while to show 
in detail how it leads astray even a writer of genius. As you 
read the following description of a house, make four sets of 

1. The details that could have been observed by a passing 
stranger from the opposite side of the street. 

2. Additional details that could have been observed from 
the lawn. 

3. Further details that could have been observed by pass- 
ing through the gate in the lattice. 

4. Details that could have been known only to someone 
who either lived in the house or visited it frequently. 

1. It was a large frame house of two stories; all the windows in 
the front were bay. 2. The front door was directly in the middle 
between the windows of the parlor and those of the library, while 
over the vestibule was a sort of balcony that no one ever thought 
of using. 3. The house was set in a large well-kept yard. 4. The 
lawn was pretty; an enormous eucalyptus tree grew at one corner. 
5. Nearer to the house were magnolia and banana trees growing 
side by side with pines and firs. 6. Humming-birds built in these, 
and one could hear their curious little warbling mingling with the 
hoarse chirp of the English sparrows which nested under the eaves. 
7. The back yard was separated from the lawn by a high fence of 
green lattice-work. 8. The hens and chickens were kept here and 
two roosters, one of which crowed every time a cable-car passed 
the house. 9. On the door cut through the lattice-fence was a 
sign, "Look Out for the Dog." 10. Close to the unused barn stood 


an immense windmill with enormous arms; when the wind blew in 
the afternoon the sails whirled about at a surprising speed, pump- 
ing water from the artesian well beneath. 11. There was a small 
conservatory where the orchids were kept. 12. Altogether, it was a 
charming place. 13. However, adjoining it was a huge vacant lot 
with cows in it. 14. It was full of dry weeds and heaps of ashes, while 
around it was an enormous fence painted with signs of cigars, 
patent bitters, and soap. Frank Norris. 

Looking at your four lists, can you say from which point 
of view the author means the description to be written? 
Does he stand still while he is drawing his picture, or does 
he continually shift his position without warning? What 
can you tell about the weather, season, and time of day? 
What general impression does he try to give of the place as 
a whole? What details immediately contradict this impres- 

The root of the trouble is that what we have here is not 
a picture at all, but an identification. It is altogether prob- 
able that not another house in the city would have shown 
exactly this combination of details; but the reader's per- 
petual effort to shift his point of view and to combine these 
unexpected things simply blurs the picture. 

Contrast the following by noting, as you read it, answers 
to these questions: What has Guy to do with the house? 
Is he familiar with it? What indications of his mood are 
given? From what point of view does he examine the house? 
Is it natural for him to count the windows and imagine his 
friends behind them? Does he change his point of view? 
Is the change unmistakably shown? Do you get an effect 
of strong or of subdued light? Was the sun shining brightly? 
Is any detail given that could not have been seen and would 
not have been noticed by that particular person at that 
particular time? 

Guy sat upon the parapet of the well under the shade of a syca- 
more-tree and regarded with admiration and satisfaction the ex- 
terior of bis house. He looked at the semicircular porch of stone 


over the front door and venerated the supporting cherubs who 
with puffed-out cheeks had blown defiance at wind and rain since 
the days of Elizabeth. He counted the nine windows, five above 
and four below, populating with the shapes of many friends the 
rooms they lightened. He looked at the steep roof of gray-stone 
tiles rich with the warm golden green of mossy patterns. He looked 
at the four pear trees against the walls of the house, barren now for 
many years. He looked at himself in silhouette against the silver 
sky of the well-water; and then he went in-doors. 

The big stone-paved hall was very cool, and the sound of the 
stream at the back came babbling through lattices open to the 
light of a green world. Guy could not make up his mind whether 
the inside of the house smelled very dry or very damp, for there 
clung about it that odor peculiar to rustic age, which may be found 
equally in dry old barns and in damp potting-sheds. He wished 
he could furnish the hall worthily. At present it contained only a 
high-back chair, an alleged contemporary of Cromwell, which was 
doddering beside the hooded fireplace; a warming pan; and an oak 
chest which remained a chest only so long as nobody either sat 
upon it or lifted the lid. There was also a grandfather-clock 
which had suffered an abrupt resurrection of four minutes' duration 
when it was recently lifted out of the furniture van, but had now 
relapsed into the silence of years. Compton Mackenzie. 

Now compare the number of details given with the num- 
ber in the preceding description. You will find that although 
the second is about fifty words longer, and includes an inte- 
rior as well as an exterior view, it contains by actual count 
only about half as many details. The reader for the moment 
is Guy, sitting on the well-parapet, and he supplies from his 
imagination details about the porch and cherubs, etc.; and 
with Guy he goes indoors and supplies the hall furniture out 
of his own experience of antiques. 

In the following paragraph, note how simply and how 
definitely each change in the point of view is indicated as the 
men in the boat row all day long until they reach the land. 
Very few details are given; and as the boat lands in the dark, 
the appeal to the sense of smell replaces appeal to sight: 

And this is how I see the East. I have seen its secret places and 
have looked into its very soul; but now I see it always from a small 


boat, a high outline of mountains, blue and afar in the morning; 
like faint mist at noon; a jagged wall of purple at sunset. I have 
the feel of the oar in my hand, the vision of the scorching blue sea 
in my eyes. And I see a bay, a wide bay, smooth as glass and 
polished like ice, shimmering in the dark. A red light burns far 
off upon the gloom of the land, and the night is soft and warm. We 
drag at the oars with aching arms, and suddenly a puff of wind, a 
puff faint and tepid and laden with strange odors of blossoms, of 
aromatic wood, comes out of the still night the first sigh of the 
East on my face. That I can never forget. It was impalpable and 
enslaving, like a charm, like a whispered promise of mysterious 
delight. Joseph Conrad. 

Is the narrator a man of artistic sensibility or matter-of- 


1. Tell all that you can about the sex, personality, and mood of 
each observer, and also about the conditions under which each 
observation was made in the following: 

" Gussie Bloom went by the house last night. She was wearing a 
new brown suit with a pleated skirt, and a hat with red roses." 

"That wasn't a new suit. I met her on the road this morning. 
It was her last winter's suit with some new braid on the coat. And 
those roses her sister Sally wore on a black hat all last winter." 

"A girl with a peach-blossom face and Titian hair, a very Hebe 
dressed in long lines of stuff, brown madder in hue, intensified to 
crimson in the roses of her hat." 

"Gussie looked mighty sweet when she came into the store to- 
day to buy a pair of gloves. Five and three-quarters she wears. 
Prettiest little hand in the world. I almost forgot to let it go!" 

"The girl was not bad-looking, but dressed in a half-cotton 
sweatshop suit and a home-trimmed hat hopelessly out of date." 

2. Write two paragraphs describing the street you know best 
as it looks (1) from a window on a morning in early spring; (2) from 
the sidewalk at a given point on a winter night. 

3. Describe in less than fifty words some town that you know 
well as seen from a distance; and in another fifty words or less 
give a "close up" of its principal street. Make it evident in your 
descriptions what the season, time, and weather were at the 
time of observation. 

4. Take the last exercises and change all the conditions of ob- 


servation, noting what details you must omit, and what fresh de- 
tails you must add. 

5. Write a description in fifty words or less of the sounds that 
you have noted in a corner of a wood or garden, or of the campus. 
Use few details, but make each one count. See that they all belong 
to the conditions of your point of view. 

6. Write in less than a hundred words a description of some 
storm that made a special impression upon you. Describe the differ- 
ent movements of the trees if it was a wind storm; the different 
ways in which the rain or snow affected objects on the ground, etc. 

7. Write in a sentence each the following descriptions: 

(1) A baby, described by its mother; by a brother nine years old; 
by the man in the flat below. 

(2) An automobile as seen by its owner; by the owner of a more 
expensive car; by a man who cannot afford a car. 

(3) A man as seen by his employer; by his mother; by his wife; 
by his neighbor; by his three-year old daughter. 

(4) A woman as seen by her servant; by a neighbor; by a shop- 
girl; by her dressmaker; by her doctor. 


For the experienced writer all these eliminations of mate- 
rial dependent upon point of view and mood have become 
instinctive. In facing a subject for description he imme- 
diately begins an active search for a unifying principle that 
will hold together the details which are most character- 
istic of the subject which set it apart from all other things 
of its kind. Such a principle at once involves further sim- 
plification the elimination of more material as irrelevant. 
Often such a principle suggests itself as a general impression 
which comes to us at the first glance. We say: "A blue 
room" "a golden wood" "a shabby man" "an untidy 
girl." Then we observe that most of the furniture in the 
room is blue; that hickory, maple, and beach trees make the 
wood golden; that a shiny coat, frayed cuffs, and patched 
boots make the man shabby; that straggling hair, a soiled 
waist, and a crooked skirt make the girl look untidy. But 


we may also notice a green chair in the blue room, a red 
maple in the golden wood; the man may be wearing a clean 
collar, and the girl new gloves. These details are inconsistent 
with our first general impression. If we lump together in 
our description blue things and things not blue, golden 
leaves and leaves not golden, shabby dress and smart dress, 
untidiness and neatness, the reader will not know in what 
proportions to construct his image; he will get only a blur. 
We can help him by using a general impression in one of 
two ways. If the details that do not harmonize with it are 
unimportant, we may neglect them altogether. If they are 
discordant, and prominent, then what we have is not a single 
but a double impression, and we represent this by contrasting 
as sharply as we can its opposing elements: we deliberately 
emphasize the touch of crimson in the blue room or the yellow 
wood; the contrasting features in the general shabbiness of 
the man and untidiness of the girl. The very contrast em- 
phasizes the contrary general impression, because the single 
feature seems out of place. 

So far the problem is easy. But you will perhaps say that 
there are people and places that do not at once suggest a 
general impression. There is, however, nothing so complex 
or so colorless that it will not yield to observation and con- 
sideration an impression to which its major details con- 
tribute, even if this impression be only of complexity or of 
colorlessness. It is the writer's business to subject everything 
that presents itself to a scrutiny that ends be the process 
instantaneous or slow in the reduction of its details either 
to a single unifying principle, or to a dominant principle 
with which a minority of details are not in accord, but 
which, by emphasizing the contrast, becomes a unifying 

This general impression may be expressed in terms of form: 

The peaks are tall and thin like close-clustered cathedral spires. 
The building is E-shaped, placed so that the bottom line faces 


north. In this wing are the offices ; the dormitories are in the parallel 
south wing the upper line of the E; and the classrooms in the long 
connecting line from which projects to the west the library ending 
in a port-cochere the short middle stroke of the letter. 

Or the general impression may be of color. In the follow- 
ing, note that all green is omitted, although naturally it was 
still to be found in the woods: 

All things brown, and yellow, and red, are brought out by the 
autumn sun; the brown furrows freshly turned where the stubble 
was yesterday, the brown bark of trees, the brown fallen leaves, 
the brown stalks of plants; the red haws, the red unripe black- 
berries, red bryony berries, reddish-yellow fungi; yellow hawkweed, 
yellow ragwort, yellow hazel-leaves, elms, spots in lime or beech; 
not a speck of yellow, red, or brown the yellow sunlight does not 
find out. Richard Je/eries. 

In the following paragraph the general impression is of 
remoteness. Do you find a single detail that does not suggest 
this idea? 

On a summer's day Wolstanbury Hill is an island in sunshine; 
you may lie on the grassy rampart, high up in the most delicate air 
Grecian air, pellucid alone, among the butterflies and humming 
bees at the thyme, alone and isolated; endless masses of hills on 
three sides, endless weald or valley on the fourth; all warmly lit 
with sunshine, deep under liquid sunshine like the sands under the 
liquid sea, no harshness of man-made sound to break the insulation 
amid nature, on an island in a far Pacific of sunshine. 

Richard Jefferies. 

Name all the words and phrases that carry out the general 
idea underlying the description. 

In the following, note how every detail contributes to the 
general impression of hideous and expensive gorgeousness : 

In Swithin's orange and light-blue dining-room, facing the Park, 
the round table was laid for twelve. 

A cut-glass chandelier filled with lighted candles hung like a 
giant stalactite above its center, radiating over large gilt-framed 
mirrors, slabs of marble on the tops of side-tables, and heavy gold 
chairs with crewel worked seats. John Galsworthy, 


List the details which show wealth; those which indicate 
spaciousness; those which suggest over-ornamentation; those 
which suggest ugliness. Unless the reader himself has "an 
impatience of simplicity, a love of ormolu," he will easily 
summon up images of the most expensively overfurnished 
house that he knows and impose upon his memory of it the 
blue-and-gold, and cut-glass, marble, gold, and fancy work 
of the description. 

In the following little portraits of men who have made 
money, note how the details in each case are constructed to 
give a general impression of (1) luxurious self-satisfaction; 
(2) nervous greed; (3) snobbishness. Note also how def- 
initely each figure is placed as if seen by some person in the 

Over against the piano a man of bulk and stature was wearing 
two waistcoats on his wide chest, two waistcoats and a ruby pin, 
instead of the single satin waistcoat and diamond pin of more usual 
occasions, and his shaven, square old face, the color of pale leather, 
with pale eyes, had its most dignified look, above its satin stock. 
This was Swithin Forsyte. Close to the window, where he could 
get more than his fair share of fresh air, the other twin, James 
the fat and the lean of it, old Jolyon called these brothers like 
the bulky Swithin, over six feet in height, but very lean, as though 
destined from his birth to strike a balance and maintain an average, 
brooded over the scene with his permanent stoop; his grey eyes 
had an air of fixed absorption in some secret worry, broken at in- 
tervals by a rapid, shifting scrutiny of surrounding facts; his cheeks 
thinned by two parallel folds, and a long, clean-shaven lip, were 
framed within Dundreary whiskers. In his. hands he turned and 
turned a piece of china. Not far off, listening to a lady in brown, his 
only son Soames, pale and well-shaved, dark-haired, rather bald, 
had poked his chin up sideways, carrying his nose with that afore- 
said appearance of "sniff," as though despising an egg which he 
knew he could not digest. John Galsworthy. 

Note both how incomplete the list of details is in each 
case, and how the emphasis shifts : Swithin's clothes, James's 
leanness, and Soames's position. Can you supply the missing 


details from those given? How would Swithin stand and 
walk? How was James dressed? Soames? Decide of which 
one each of the following phrases was used: "twisting 
his long, thin legs"; "with a chest like a pouter pigeon's, 
came strutting towards them"; "looked downwards and 
aslant, ... as though trying to see through the side of his 
own nose." 
Tell which of the three men spoke each of the following: 

"Well, he takes good care of himself. I can't afford to take the 
care of myself that he does." 

"Exercise . . . I take plenty: I never use the lift at the Club." 

"I'm very well, in myself, . . . but my nerves get out of order. 
The least thing worries me to death." 

"That's genuine old lacquer; you can't get it nowadays. It'd 
do well in a sale at Jobson's. ... I wouldn't mind having it my- 
self . . . you can always get your price for old lacquer." 

John Galsworthy. 

As you read the book, A Man of Property, you will find 
that every later description, every speech, and every action 
of each of these characters is simply a development of the 
qualities implied in the first general impression. 

Your chief aim, then, should be to get a vital relationship 
between your general impression and the details which you 
enumerate; that is, every detail should contribute to the 
impression, and there should be no details which do not so 
contribute unless these are related by deliberate contrast. 
It is not always necessary to state the impression; but the 
reader should be able to feel it in each detail, and so to con- 
struct it for himself. 


1. State the general impression underlying the following sketch; 
also the extent to which it is conditioned by the point of view and 
the nature of the writer: 

" I stayed in London for a few days one November in the middle 
of a school term. One evening the blue dusk had crept on, and 


the streets were lit with bluish and yellow lamps. We were coming 
home from some show, and climbed on to the top of an omnibus. 
Then I saw the great stretch of dark houses like the rocks in a sea 
and the wide sky and the spits of light, and heard the sounds of 
many people and the clatter of horses and cart-wheels, and a sud- 
den fear came to me that it was impossible for one God to know 
the lives of all these people." Joan Arden. 

Write a similar sketch of about the same length of a similar sub- 
ject; but be true to your own impression. 

2. Criticize the following sketch of a country dry-goods store, 
telling where the general impression is lost: 

"... It had a tired atmosphere, which closed round you as you 
got inside the swinging glass doors. But I liked to wait at the 
counter while the weary, bald-headed shopman measured out 
ribbon, for once he had given me the blank paper which falls away 
from the ribbon as it is unwound, and I hoped that he might again, 
but he never did. It was fun to walk about in the part of the shop 
where women's clothes were shown, and, when no one was looking, 
punch the senseless people who stood on one leg with no head and 
very definite figures." Joan Arden. 

Rewrite, keeping the impression first suggested, and the same 
details. Your problem is how to associate the idea of fatigue with 
the lay figures. 

3. Write in about 100 words a sketch of your childish memory 
of one of these: the school bookstore; the grocery store; the drug- 

4. State the general impression of the following in the author's 
own words: 

"Thus, when Mr. Maybold raised his eyes ... he beheld glaring 
through the door Mr. Penny in full-length portraiture, Mail's 
face and shoulders above Mr. Penny's head, Spinks's forehead and 
eyes over Mail's crown, and a fractional part of Bowman's counte- 
nance under Spinks's arm crescent-shaped portions of other heads 
and faces being visible behind these the whole dozen and odd 
eyes bristling with eager inquiry." Thomas Hardy. 

What details would make it easy for an artist to sketch the group? 
Write a similar description of a group in less than 100 words. 

5. Sum up in two words the general impression of the following. 
Name all the details that bear it out. What one word in the last 
sentence suggests it? Do you find any irrelevant details? Where 
is the observer, and what is he doing? What is his mood? 


"Van Ness Avenue was very still. It was about half -past seven. 
The curtains were down in all the houses; here and there a servant 
could be seen washing down the front steps. In the vestibules of 
some of the smaller houses were loaves of French bread and glass 
jars of cream, while near them lay the damp twisted roll of the 
morning's paper. There was everywhere a great cluttering of 
sparrows, and the cable-cars, as yet empty, trundled down the 
cross streets, the conductors cleaning the windows and metal 
work. From far down at one end of the avenue came the bells of 
the Catholic Cathedral ringing for early mass; and a respectable- 
looking second girl hurried past him carrying her prayer-book. 
At the other end of the avenue was a blue vista of the bay, the 
great bulk of Mount Tamalpais rearing itself out of the water 
like a waking lion." Frank Norris. 

Write a description in about 200 words of some familiar street 
early in the morning, or late at night. Be definite as to the season 
and weather, and keep a general impression throughout, but in- 
troduce, if you wish, one or two contrasting details. 

6. Analyze each of the following studies, and write a similar 
one of about the same length based upon your own observations: 

"The devoted maiden friends came now from their rooms, each 
by magic arrangement in a differently colored frock, but all with 
the same liberal allowance of tulle on the shoulders and at the 
bosom for they were, by some fatality, lean to a girl. They were 
all taken up to Mrs. Small. None stayed with her more than a 
few seconds, but clustering together, talked and twisted their 
programmes, looking secretly at the door for the first appearance 
of a man." .... 

"Three or four of Francie's lovers now appeared, one after the 
other; she had made each promise to come early. They were all 
clean-shaven and sprightly, with that peculiar kind of young-man 
sprightliness which had recently invaded Kensington; they did not 
seem to mind each other's presence in the least, and wore their 
ties bunching out at the ends, white waistcoats, and socks with 
clocks. All had handkerchiefs concealed in their cuffs. They 
moved buoyantly, each armored in professional gaiety, as though 
he had come to do great deeds. Their faces when they danced, far 
from wearing the traditional solemn look of the dancing English- 
man, were irresponsible, charming, suave; they bounded, twirling 
their partners at great pace, without pedantic attention to the 
rhythm of the music." .... 

"Men were scarce, and wallflowers wore their peculiar, pathetic 
expression, a patient, sourish smile which seemed to say: 'Oh, no, 
don't mistake me, I know you are not coming up to me. I can 
hardly expect that.' And Francie would plead with one of her 


lovers, or with some callow youth: 'Now, to please me, do let me 
introduce you to Miss Pink; such a nice girl, really,' and she would 
bring him up, and say: 'Miss Pink Mr. Gathercole. Can you 
spare him a dance?' Then Miss Pink, smiling her forced smile, 
coloring a little, answered: 'Oh, I think so' and screening her 
empty card, wrote on it the name of Gathercole, spelling it passion- 
ately in the district that he proposed, about the second extra. 
But when the youth had murmured that it was hot, and passed, 
she relapsed into her attitude of hopeless expectation, into her 
patient, sourish smile." John Galsworthy. 

7. Sum up a costume in a single sentence after the manner of the 
following, but with an entirely different general impression: 

"She was sombrely magnificent this evening in black bom- 
bazine, with a mauve front cut in a shy triangle, and crowned with 
a black velvet ribbon round the base of her thin throat; black and 
mauve for evening wear was esteemed very chaste by nearly every 
Forsyte." John Galsworthy. 

8. Write in about 100 words each a group of sketches of some 
room that you know under the following conditions: 

(1) Shabby, as seen on a summer morning by a rich woman of 
artistic tastes. 

(2) Cosy, as seen by a tired man on a dark winter evening. 

(3) Picturesque, as seen by an artist. Choose your own time 
of day. 

(4) Out-of-date, as seen by a furniture dealer. 

(5) Dirty, as seen by a New England housekeeper; homelike, 
as seen by the owner. 

(6) Gorgeous, as seen by a poor child. 

Try to make your details as mutually exclusive as possible; and 
to get distinctive features. 

9. Bring to class from some magazine or book that you are read- 
ing three descriptions which you consider good, and three which 
are bad. Try to represent scenes, people, and interiors in your 
choice. Test them by the laws of description. 

10. Decide whether the dominant impression of the following is 
of dullness or of peace. Use the same details, and write a descrip- 
tion of a forlorn garden; of a peaceful garden: 

"In the next house some one was playing La Donna e mobile 
on an untuned piano; and the little garden had fallen into shade, 
the sun now only reached the wall at the end, whereon basked a 
crouching cat, her yellow eyes turned sleepily down on the dog 
Balthazar. There was a drowsy hum of very distant traffic; the 


creepered trellis round the garden shut out everything but sky, 
and house, and pear-tree, with its top branches still gilded by the 
sun." John Galsworthy. 

11. State the general impression of the following; then show 
orally how it might be changed to leave an impression of imprison- 
ment from the open air: 

"Here Nature is unapproachable with her green, airy canopy, 
a sun-impregnated cloud cloud above cloud; and though the 
highest may be unreached by the eye, the beams yet filter through, 
illuming the wide spaces beneath chamber succeeded by cham- 
ber, each with its own special lights and shadows. Far above me, 
but not nearly so far as it seemed, the tender gloom of one such 
chamber or space is traversed now by a golden shaft of light falling 
through some break in the upper foliage, giving a strange glory to 
everything it touches projecting leaves, and beard-like tuft of 
moss, and snaky bush-rope. And in the most open part of that 
most open space, suspended on nothing to the eye, the shaft reveals 
a tangle of shining silver threads the web of some large tree- 
spider." W. H. Hudson. 

5. PLAN 

When a single impression or a small group of impressions 
is not sufficient to suggest a scene as a whole, it is necessary, 
besides keeping in mind very definitely the point of view 
with all its conditions, both physical and mental, to arrange 
the material used according to some plan. Thus in the 
description of Guy's house on p. 171 the details were men- 
tioned in the order in which Guy noticed them. The three 
men described on p. 177 were grouped as they might have 
been in a portrait group. In general, where you have more 
than a very few details, it is well to proceed as the artist 
does in setting off a picture to be painted; he holds up a small 
black frame which shuts out the surrounding objects and 
isolates a small group within it. This he moves about until 
he gets what he needs for his picture in the right composi- 
tion the grouping of its different parts with reference to 
one another; and then proceeds to block in his details in some 
definite order with reference to one another on the canvas. 


In the following, note how clearly the point of view, th& 
season, the weather, are given; and how clearly the picture 
is suggested from each side of the tower in turn; also how 
clearly it moves from the most striking objects in the fore- 
ground to the most remote that are visible. In this way the 
reader's imagination sweeps the imaginary landscape in the 
order in which the people in the story looked at the real 
scene. Note also that all the details are seen in proportion 
as from a height: 

The stairs grew more narrow and musty as they went higher; 
but all the way at intervals there were deep slits in the walls, fram- 
ing thin pictures of the outspread country below the tower. Still 
up they went past the bell-ropes, past the great bells themselves 
that hung like a cluster of mighty fruit, until finally they came out 
through a small turret to meet the March sky. The spire, that 
rose as high again as they had already come, occupied nearly all 
the space and left only a yard of leaded roof on which to walk; but 
even so, up here where the breeze blew strongly, they seemed to 
stand in the very course of the clouds with the world at their feet. 
Northward they looked across the brown mill-stream; across Guy's 
green orchard; across the flashing tributary beyond the meadows, 
to where the Shipcot road climbed the side of the wold. Westward 
they looked to Flasher's Mead and Miss Peasey flapping a table- 
cloth; to Guy's mazy garden and the gray wall under the limes; 
and farther to the tree- tops of Wychford Abbey; to the twining 
waters of the valley and the rounded hills. Southward they looked 
to Wychford town in tier on tier of shining roofs; and above the 
translucent smoke to where the telegraph-poles of the long highway 
went rocketing into Gloucestershire. And lastly eastward they 
looked through a flight of snowy pigeons to the Rectory asleep in 
gardens that already were painted with the simple flowers of spring. 

Compton Mackenzie. 

Although in general it is well to keep your descriptions so 
short and so closely related to narrative that plan is not a 
serious consideration, this point is worth remembering: The 
plan which begins with the subject itself and attempts to 
lay it out in the order in which the details actually occur 


in the scene itself is more likely to be mechanical than that 
which follows some order of observation. 

Order imposed by the subject is useful chiefly in clarifying 
an intricate subject such as you are not likely to have to deal 
with for some time, as, for instance, the plan of a battlefield. 
Almost any scene is best handled in one of two orders of ob- 

1. Beginning with what is nearest and proceeding to what 
is most remote. 

2. Beginning with what strikes the eye first because it 
is the dominating feature of the scene, and grouping every- 
thing else with reference to it. 

The first method is exemplified in the following: 

Downward went his gaze, past the chaos of limestone boulders 
and cliffs fantastically carved into gargoyles and corbels of ludicrous 
and monstrous humanity down and down, until he drew in his 
breath. It was not perhaps so far in hundreds of metres, but it 
was desperately sheer and under-eaten, and at the bottom was a 
great debris of broken rocks. Still down and afield went his glance, 
past the olive-groves descending the slopes of red earth, past the 
brief uplift of the foothills, bronzed with fir-woods that seemed like 
low scrub from that height; onward he gazed, past a pale strip of 
meadow, the red and grey blur of a village, past marshes with shal- 
low lagoons silvery in the blaze of the sun. There, after the bronze 
and green and red and gold there began the blue; folded veils of 
azure and violet and ultramarine, passing away, line upon line, 
here and there empurpled with heat or with shadow, with who 
could say what? until the sky fell and the sea rose to the meeting, 
and the land embraced both or was absorbed, and nothing remained 
but blue the measureless blue of unending space the blue where 
all things meet and are one. Edith Rickert. 

The second method is exemplified in the following de- 
scription of a Japanese garden: 

There are large rocks in it, heavily mossed; and divers fantastic 
basins of stone for holding water; and stone lamps green with years; 
and a schachihoko, such as one sees at the peaked angles of castle 
roofs, a great stone fish, an idealized porpoise, with its nose in 
the ground and its tail in the air. There are miniature hills, with 


old trees upon them; and there are long slopes of green, shadowed 
by flowering shrubs, like river banks; and there are green knolls like 
islets. All these verdant elevations rise from spaces of pale yellow 
sand, smooth as a surface of silk and miming the curves and 
meanderings of a river course. These sanded spaces are not to be 
trodden upon; they are much too beautiful for that. The least speck 
of dirt would mar their effect; and it requires the trained skill of an 
experienced native gardener a delightful old man he is to keep 
them in perfect form. But they are traversed in various directions 
by lines of flat unhewn rock slabs, placed at slightly irregular dis- 
tances from one another, exactly like stepping-stones across a 
brook. The whole effect is like that of the shores of a still stream 
in some lovely, lonesome, drowsy place. Lafcadio Hearn. 


1. From the current numbers of good magazines select several 
long descriptions. Study these to find the plans on which they are 
constructed. Note on cards the answers to such questions as these : 
At what point in the picture does the description begin? In what 
directions does it move? Is the observer's point of view changed 
in the course of the description? Discuss these notes in class. 

2. Make plans for the description of the following, trying to get 
as many variant plans for each as possible: (1) the campus; (2) 
your home town; (3) some room that you like; (4) the prettiest spot 
you know; (5) the ugliest spot you know. 


Thus far we have been studying description as applied to 
stationary objects and scenes. It is quite as important to 
learn how to describe action and movement to suggest 
moving pictures to your readers. In* short stories this is the 
type of description most used. 

For this kind of description there is only one rule: Lean 
heavily upon your verbs. As the verb is the only word that 
can express action as going on, you must crowd into each 
verb as much, descriptive quality as it will bear. Make the 
verb do much of the work of the adverb, the adjective, and 
even the noun. Perhaps no better illustration of this process 


has ever been written than Kipling's Toomai of the Elephants, 
which describes first the flight of an elephant through the 
jungle by night, and then a nocturnal dance of elephants. 
Good as it is in every way, its representation of different kinds 
of action and movement is not soon paralleled. Note the 
dynamic quality of the verbs, and the extensive use of verbal 
derivatives, participles and gerunds: 

Sometimes a tuft of high grass washed along his sides as a wave 
washes along the sides of a ship, and sometimes a cluster of wild- 
pepper vines would scrape along his back, or a bamboo would creak 
where his shoulder touched it; but between those times he moved 
absolutely without any sound, drifting through the thick Garo 

forest as though it had been smoke 

Toomai leaned forward and looked, and 

he felt that the forest was awake below him awake and alive and 
crowded. A big brown fruit-eating bat brushed past his ear; a por- 
cupine's quills rattled in the thicket, and in the darkness between 
the tree-stems he heard a hog-bear digging hard in the moist warm 
earth, and snuffing as it digged. 

Then the branches closed over his head again, and Kala Nag 
began to go down into the valley not quietly this time, but as a 
runaway gun goes down a steep bank in one rush. The huge 
limbs moved as steadily as pistons, eight feet to each stride, and 
the wrinkled skin of the elbow-points rustled. The undergrowth on 
either side of him ripped with a noise like torn canvas, and the sap- 
lings that he heaved away right and left with his shoulders sprang 
back again, and banged him on the flank, and great trails of creepers, 
all matted together, hung from his tusks as he threw his head from 
side to side and plowed out his pathway. . . . 

The grass began to get squashy and Kala Nag's feet sucked and 
squelched as he put them down, and the night mist at the bottom 
of the valley chilled little Toomai. There was a splash and a trample, 
and the rush of running water, and Kala Nag strode through the 
bed of a river, feeling his way at each step. . . . 

Kala Nag swashed out of the water, blew his trunk clear, and 
began another climb; but this time he was not alone, and he had 
not to make his path. That was made already, six feet wide, in 
front of him, where the bent jungle-grass was trying to recover itself 
and stand up. Many elephants must have gone that way only a few 
minutes before. Little Toomai looked back, and behind him a great 


wild tusker with his little pig's eyes glowing like hot coals, was just 
lifting himself out of the misty river. Then the trees closed up again 
and they went on and up, with trumpetings and crashinys, and the 
sound of breaking branches on every side of them. 

At last Kala Nag stood still between two tree-trunks at the very 
top of the hill. They were part of a circle of trees that grew round 
an irregular space of some three or four acres, and in all that space, 
as Little Toomai could see, the ground had been trampled down as 

hard as a brick floor 

Little Toomai looked, holding his breath, with 

eyes starting out of his head, and as he looked, more and more and 
more elephants swung out into the open from between the tree- 

At last there was no sound of any more elephants moving in the 
forest, and Kala Nag rolled out from his station between the trees 
and went into the middle of the crowd, clucking and gurgling, and 
all the elephants began to talk in their own tongue, and to move about. 

Still lying down, Little Toomai looked down upon scores and 
scores of broad backs, and wagging ears, and tossing trunks, and 
little rolling eyes. He heard the click of tusks as they crossed other 
tusks by accident, and the dry rustle of trunks twined together, and 
the chafing of enormous sides and shoulders in the crowd, and the 
incessant flick and 'hissh' of the great tails. Then a cloud came 
over the moon, and he sat in black darkness; but the quiet, steady 
hustling and pushing and gurgling went on just the same. . . . 

Then an elephant trumpeted, and they all took it up for five or ten 
terrible seconds. The dew from the trees above spattered down 
like rain on the unseen backs, and a dull booming noise began, not 
very loud at first, and Little Toomai could not tell what it was; but 
it grew and grew, and Kala Nag lifted up one fore foot and then the 
other, and brought them down on the ground one- two, one- two, as 
steadily as trip-hammers. The elephants were stamping altogether 
now, and it sounded like a war-drum beaten at the mouth of a cave. 
The dew fell from the trees till there was no more left to fall, and 
the booming went on, and the ground rocked and shivered, and Little 
Toomai put his hands up to his ears to shut out the sound. But it 
was all one gigantic jar that ran through him this stamp of hundreds 
of heavy feet on the raw earth. Once or twice he could feel Kala 
Nag and all the others surge forward a few strides, and the thumping 
would change to the crushing sound of juicy green things being 
bruised, but in a minute or two the boom of feet on hard earth began 


The morning broke in one sheet of pale yellow behind the green 
hills, and the booming stopped with the first ray, as though the light 
had been an order Kipling. 

Out of nearly a hundred verb forms used in this passage, not 
one-tenth belong to the static verb to be. The Jungle Books 
are full of this vivid, rushing description of moving things, 
which almost takes on the character of narration. You cannot 
do better than read them if you wish to see how description 
can be made as interesting as a story. Perhaps the best from 
this point of view are: Kaa's Hunting; The Spring Running; 
The Miracle of Purun Bhagat; How Fear Came; Letting in the 


1. Write a picture of movement (300 words or more) of one of 
the following: 

(1) An exciting game of football, or baseball; (2) a tennis tour- 
nament; (3) a boat race. 

2. Write in 300 words, from the point of view of a person in an 
automobile, impressions of a drive at high speed. Be definite as 
to the time of year and of day. 

3. Write in 300 words the changing impressions of a landscape 
as seen from a car window. 

4. Describe in 100 words each of the following: (1) a person's 
peculiar walk; (2) a squirrel hunting food; (3) a dog bent on general 
investigation; (4) a cat stalking prey; (5) a tree in a storm. 




WE have in our minds certain ideas about ourselves and 
the world, derived from what we have seen and thought and 
felt; when we try to explain these to others, we are using 
the methods of exposition. 

These methods are numerous and varied. Let us see how 
they work. 

1. Fifteen or twenty years ago when the automobile was 
in its infancy, we may imagine a backwoodsman meeting for 
the first time with the word automobile in his weekly paper. 
Looking up at his wife, who is more widely read than he, he 
asks, "What does this word mean? What is an automobile?" 
" I never heard the word before," says she, " but I'll look it up 
in the dictionary." There she finds: " ... a self-propelled 
vehicle suitable for use on a street or roadway." The dic- 
tionary has explained the word automobile by definition. 

2. But neither of them quite understands this; and it is not 
until the man returns from his next trip to town that he is 
able to supply the explanation they both wanted. He says 
to his wife, " I saw one of those automobiles in town. It's a 
sort of wagon that goes by itself." This explanation, or ex- 
position, may be regarded in two ways. In one sense it is 
exposition by definition this time, in familiar terms; but 
it also may be regarded as a re-wording of the dictionary 
definition, in which count it is exposition by paraphrase. 

3. But the woman only stares at her husband: Who has 
ever heard of a wagon that goes without a horse? He explains 


further: "You go by yourself, don't you? There's something 
inside you that makes you move without my tugging you 
along at every step? Well, this wagon has something inside 
it that makes it go I don't know what it is." What has 
the man done now? He has amplified his former statement 
and illustrated it by a similar case. He has used more words, 
in the hope of making a deeper impression, and he has ap- 
pealed to his wife's knowledge of what seems to him a sim- 
ilar case. He has used exposition by amplification and 

4. The next time the man comes home he tells his wife: "I 
saw a lot of those automobiles going down the new road 
to-day. They're four-wheeled, and have big rubber tires on 
their wheels, and some of them have tops like buggy- tops; 
and they all have a wheel in front which the driver holds and 
keeps turning I guess it steers the thing. And they make 
a noise as they go; it sounds like a steam-engine; that must 
be the machinery that makes it go." Now the man has tried 
another method; he has tried to make his wife understand 
these unknown vehicles by describing how they all look and 
sound. So far he is using the method of exposition by gen- 
eralized description. But how does this differ from ordinary 
description? Perhaps she interrupts his account to ask: 
" What color are they ? " He answers : "Oh, different colors 
some red, some black, some other colors." She asks: "How 
big?" He answers: "Different sizes; some not much bigger 
than a small wagon, some twice as big." In description 
proper this range of variation in color and size is impossible, 
because description deals with individual things; exposition, 
on the other hand, sometimes, as here, deals with classes. 
But the poor woman is more confused than ever as to what 
an automobile really is. 

5. An automobile manufacturer, who is taking his vacation 
by riding through the mountains on horseback, comes to 
spend the night at the cabin. The backwoodsman says to 


him: "These automobiles are wonderful things. I don't 
understand them." The manufacturer takes a sheet of paper 
and makes a drawing on it, saying: "I will explain it to you. 
An automobile is made up of so many parts ' Here he 
names the body, the wheels, the steering-gear, the engine, 
the carburetor, the tank, etc. This is exposition by division. 
After the stranger has divided the idea of the car into its 
main parts, he may subdivide each of these parts into its 
parts until he gets down to a part that cannot be subdivided. 
He can divide the tire, for instance, into casing and tube; 
but he cannot subdivide these; at this point he has reached 
simplicity. But when he has subdivided the machine into 
its units, the backwoodsman and his wife look at the drawings 
of these or listen to the description of them as if they were 
the pieces of a picture puzzle thrown into confusion. The 
method of division has given them less idea than they had 
before of the automobile. 

6. So the manufacturer does not stop there. First, he ex- 
plains how the parts are put together in the making of the 
machine; he repeats the details of the process that is gone 
through every time an automobile is assembled. This is 
exposition by generalized narration. It differs from ordinary 
narration in that it relates not a single series of events, but a 
series of events indefinitely repeated in the same way. But 
in this case, it is probable that exposition by generalized 
narration is less clear to the listeners than to the speaker. 

7. The man says: " I see now how it goes together; but how 
does it work? " The guest says : " You know how a locomotive 
is driven by steam. The steam is admitted into the cylinders, 
where it expands and pushes the pistons, which in turn move 
the wheels. An automobile has a similar arrangement of 
cylinders and pistons, and the motive power is gas, obtained 
from gasoline. This gas, mixed with air, is admitted into 
the cylinders and there is exploded by an electric spark. 
The explosion of the gas pushes the pistons just as the explo- 


sion of steam does." And this is exposition by cause and 
effect. This method is the only one that really explains how 
it is that the automobile is self-propelling. 

8. By this time the backwoodsman has some idea of an 
automobile, but his wife, who has never seen one, is still very 
vague about the matter. Suddenly a car drives up to the 
door. The backwoodsman calls his wife, saying: "Look, 
Amanda, this is an automobile. Here is the steering-gear, 
these are the levers, this is the tank, this is the engine" . . . 
and so on until he has explained to her that all the essential 
parts and qualities of any automobile, as they were explained 
to him by their guest, are to be found in this particular 
machine. This is exposition by example finding the general 
in the particular. And now for the first time the woman 
really understands what an automobile is and how it works. 

9. But we have not yet exhausted the possibilities of ex- 
position. The owner of the car, as it happens, knows the 
manufacturer, who is still at the cabin, and the two men 
greet each other. "How is she doing?" asks the manufac- 
turer, referring to the car. "So-so," says the owner. "She 
drinks up a good deal of gas; but she eats up the roads better 
than my last, and she doesn't bump so much. I guess she's 
worth her keep." What is he doing? He is explaining the 
qualities not of automobiles in general, but of this particular 
car; and he does so by simple enumeration, in this case with 
some contrast. He does not describe the car they are all 
looking at it; he simply states the results of his observations 
and inferences, at the same time comparing them with 
earlier observations and inferences. This is exposition by 
enumeration of qualities. The method may be used alone, 
or in connection with comparison and contrast of the qual- 
ities of other similar or very different things. 

10. But we may go even a step further. The manufacturer 
says: "I see. If you hadn't told me, I could have gathered 
as much from her looks." Then he adds that the lines of 


construction show that the car was built for speed, that he 
can see the shock-absorber, and has observed various other 
details, which show what its qualities must be. This is the 
method of characterization applied to the explanation of a 
particular thing. 

We may now perhaps consider that the automobile has 
served its turn, and proceed to sum up our results. It is 
clear that we have the choice of many methods in our efforts 
to explain; also that the method is to some extent dependent 
upon the idea itself or the form in which it is expressed. What 
is a kris? It is a dagger. Paraphrase is all that is needed 
here. "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good" did this 
proverb ever puzzle you? Change its form and amplify: 
There is nothing so bad that it does not prove of advantage 
to somebody. Is not the idea clear now? If not, you can 
make it so by giving an example. What is fly-fishing? How 
can you give any idea of it except by generalized narration, 
with generalized description of the flies? What is electricity? 
How can you explain it except in terms of cause and effect? 
What is our federal government? It is by definition the 
system by which the people of the United States are governed. 
But definition tells us nothing at all about it. By division 
we explain the idea in terms of its three main branches: 
executive, legislative, and judicial; and subdivide these into 
the president and cabinet; the two houses of Congress; and 
the three types of federal courts. With the president the 
process of division stops; but the cabinet can be subdivided 
into its departments; and Congress and the courts into their 
constituent members. Of this complex organism, our Gov- 
ernment, then, definition gives no idea whatever; division 
gives a clear and definite impression, as far as it goes; but 
when its limit has been reached, we must resort to various 
other methods of exposition in order to explain fully so in- 
tricate a thing. Similarly, the exposition of a character may 
proceed by mere enumeration of qualities; or it may illustrate 


these qualities by means of speech, action, habits, appearance; 
or it may interpret by setting forth the causes that have 
produced such a person, or by showing the influence of this 
person; or it may use all these methods in combination. 

The fundamental thing to remember about exposition is 
that it is always looking for the general truth. It may deal 
entirely with the class, or with general ideas or principles; it 
may explain the general by means of the individual which 
is used to represent it; it may explain the particular by 
means of its qualities; but it is always concerned with looking 
away from particular impressions and observations and in- 
ferences to the general truth that builds them into a system 
of relationships. 


1. Identify the methods of exposition used in the extracts quoted 
on pp. 300f. and 355f. 

Explain how other methods might have been used in certain cases, 
and show the differences in effectiveness. 

2. Suggest methods of exposition that might be used in explaining 
each of the following 

(1) Radium as a Remedy 

(2) Labor Unions 

(3) How to Play Golf (or some other game) 

(4) My Weak Points in English 

(5) The Building of a Sky-Scraper 

(6) The American Farmer 

(7) The Influence of the Colleges on Political Life 

(8) American Inventions 

(9) The Spirit of Chicago (or some other place) 
(10) Camouflage 

3. Find a short piece of exposition in one of the magazines 
popular or professional and note for class discussion the methods- 


We use definition to explain a class of things unknown to 
us. We read: "There were a thousand arbalests in the 


castle. . . ." What are arbalests? Cheeses or coats-of- 
mail? Definition will tell us by a double process of classifica- 
tion: (1) by referring the unknown class arbalest to a 
larger class with which we are familiar let us say weapon; 
and (2) by naming the essential point of difference between 
the smaller class (arbalest) and all other classes included 
within the larger class (weapon) to which it has just been 
referred; in this case the difference is that it consists of a 
steel bow set in a wooden shaft. In technical language, the 
class which we are defining is called the species; the larger 
class to which it is referred on the basis of common prop- 
erties, the genus; and the peculiar quality by which the 
species is distinguished from every other species within the 
genus, the differentia. We may represent definition thus: 
Species Genus Differentia 

arbalest weapon having steel bow set in 

wooden shaft 

The genus weapon includes innumerable species gun, sword, 
dagger, spear, cannon, etc. but none of these species has 
the differentia "consisting of a steel bow set in a wooden 
shaft." Arbalest is the only species of which this is true. 
Consequently, when we have named the genus and differen- 
tia of arbalest, we understand that it is a weapon different 
from every other weapon in the world. We do not yet 
know much about it; but we have at least set it apart 
put a fence around it (define =fix limits} as preliminary to 
further examination. Definition is merely the first step in the 
understanding of an idea. 

But to be of any value a definition must be at once close 
and accurate. 

To be close, it must use the smallest genus that will con- 
tain the species; to be accurate, it must use a differentia that 
belongs to one species alone. 

For instance, the genus weapon is enormous and contains 
innumerable species many of which differ so widely from 


arbalest that when we first think of weapon we may get an 
idea extremely unlike the kind of weapon that an arbalest 
really is. To define more closely, we may say that an 
arbalest is a bow; we have now shut out guns, swords, spears, 
daggers, and many other kinds of weapons. But can we get 
closer still? There are longbows and crossbows; an arbalest 
is a crossbow. Then a close definition of arbalest is 

Species Genus Differentia 

arbalest crossbow constructed with a steel bow 

and wooden shaft 

This definition is as close as possible, and as no other cross- 
bow has the same differentia, it is also accurate. 

But to be accurate, a definition must be referred to the 
proper genus. It is inaccurate to say that an arbalest is a 
longbow constructed with a steel bow and a wooden shaft, 
because an arbalest is not a longbow at all. The genus long- 
bom like the genus crossbow is included within the larger class 
weapon; but the two genera are mutually exclusive: no long- 
bow is a crossbow, and vice versa; and no longbow has the 
differentia which is peculiar to the crossbow. Consequently, 
in making longbow the genus for arbalest, the definition be- 
comes incorrect. 

Although in definition we classify our species into only 
one genus, note that each species may be a genus for a smaller 
group of things, and each genus a species for a larger group. 
Thus an arbalest is regarded as a species in defining it; 
but it is a genus of which Florentine arbalest (for which no 
special name is known) is a species; crossbow, which is a 
genus to which we have referred arbalest is in turn a species 
with reference to bow; and bow in turn, which is a genus 
to which crossbow and longbow may be referred, is in turn a 
species with reference to the huge genus weapon. Thus we 
have a whole series of classes, each including the one below 
it, which in turn includes fewer members than the one above. 


A close definition brings the species and genus as near to- 
gether as possible. In a scientific definition where all the 
branches of a system are understood by the person for 
whom the definition is made, the relationship between genus 
and species leaves no gap; but in a popular definition a cer- 
tain degree of looseness is often inevitable for the sake of 
clearness. Thus the reference of the species butterfly to the 
genus lepidopterons insects is close, but it is meaningless to 
the man who does not know the qualities of these insects. 

The ideal in making a definition is to have it as close as is 
compatible with the understanding of the people to whom 
it is to serve as an explanation. The process of making 
definitions is valuable training in exact thinking. As you 
practice it, you will observe that definitions in the small 
dictionaries are often loose and inexact partly because they 
must be brief and partly because they must be intelligible to 
persons of no technical knowledge and that they must be 
improved upon in the definitions that you make for your 
own use, if you are to develop habits of sound and scientific 


1. Define, without using the dictionary, by reference to a genus 
with a differentia each of the following: cat; piano; newspaper; 
machine-gun; aeroplane; chrysanthemum; astrology; chauffeur; hike; 
hyphen; monster; clock; compass. 

2. Look up these words in the best dictionary available; defend 
your definitions when you can; and correct them when you cannot. 

3. Look up the following words in the dictionary; note the genus 
and differentia separately: journeyman; falcon; fritillary, casern, 
architrave; radiograph; pentagram; octopus; rococo.; ukase. 

4. Try to find at least one different genus and another differ- 
entia for each of the things named in 3. Criticize the resulting 
definitions as to closeness and accuracy. 

5. Consider each of the things defined in the preceding exercises 
as subject to further exposition, and decide in each case what 
methods it would be best to use. 



Anything that is organized can be explained by the method 
of division. We may think vaguely of a cathedral as a big 
church; we may read of it as a church containing the cathedra, 
or bishop's throne; and still we have no real understanding 
of the structural differences between a church and a cathedral. 
But if we divide the general idea cathedral into its architec- 
tural divisions, we have: 
I. The cathedral church 
II. The cloisters 
III. The chapter house 

We see now that a cathedral is much more than an ordinary 
church. But we can continue the process of division for the 

I. The cathedral church 

A. The nave 

B. The transepts 

C. The choir 

D. The chancel 

E. The chapels 

F. Thetriforium 

In this way we approach much nearer to a conception of a 
cathedral than by definition. Note, however, that we may 
call definition in to explain nave, triforium, and other terms 
that we do not understand. 

The process of division may be carried as far as there is 
anything to divide; that is, until the subhead reached is 
a unit that cannot further be dismembered into its parts. 
You may divide an apple into skin, pulp, core, seeds, and 
stem; beyond that point you cannot find any parts that 
form units in the organization. But the more complex 
the subject is, the more advantageous is division as a method 
of exposition. True, it does not go very far; but it furnishes 
a sort of ground plan for a subject, which can then be fur- 


ther explained in other ways. By division, the subject A 
College would be set out perhaps under two main heads: 
I. The officers 
II. The students 
Each of these would subdivide: 
I. The officers 

A. The president 

B. The board of trustees 

C. The faculty 

1. The department of philosophy 

a. The head of the department 

b. Professors 

c. Associate professors, 

d. Assistant professors 

e. Instructors 

f. Assistants 

2. The department of history 

3. The department of English, etc. 
II. The students 

A. Graduates 

B. Seniors 

C. Juniors 

D. Sophomores * 

E. Freshmen 

F. Unclassified 

This is of course not a complete division; and in the case of 
a University, with its various schools, the division would be 
far more elaborate. You see at once how far beyond the 
dictionary definition of college the process of division carries 

To be satisfactory, division must be: (1) complete that is, 
all the parts taken together must equal the whole; and 
(2) based upon the same principle throughout so that the 
parts are mutually exclusive, and do not overlap. Thus you 
may divide triangles into: 


I. Equilateral II. Isosceles III. Scalene. 
There are no triangles that do not fall under one of these 
three heads; the three heads taken together are equivalent 
to the main head; and the three heads are mutually exclusive, 
so that no triangle can be classified under more than one. 
But if you divide triangles into 

I. Equilateral II. Isosceles III. Right-angled 
your division is wrong in two ways: (1) it is incomplete be- 
cause it does not include scalene triangles; and (2) II and 
III overlap because with III a different principle of division 
has been introduced: the division began on the basis of 
equality or inequality of the lines, and ended on the basis 
of angles. On the second principle the division should have 

I. Right-angled II. Acute-angled III. Obtuse-angled. 
Similarly, the division of cathedral, which was begun on an 
architectural principle, could not have been made to include 
the bishop, the dean, and the music as parts; nor could the 
division of college, which was made on the principle of con- 
stituent members, have included such heads as the campus, 
the chapel, and the athletic field. 

In dividing a subject, remember: (1) to use a single prin- 
ciple or basis of division throughout, or you will have over- 
lapping; and (2) to use a sufficient principle or basis, or you 
will omit some parts of the subject. 


1. Make a complete division of the subject "The Working of 
our Government" for a paper unlimited in length. 

2. Suggest as many principles of division as you can for each of 
the following. Remember that each different principle involves a 
restating of the subject which may broaden or narrow it: Our 
Banking System; Our Railroad System; Our Navy; Our Army; 
Dressmaking; The Herring Industry; Bookmaking; Social Settle- 
ments; Aeroplanes; Electrical Comforts. 

3. Narrow to the limits of a 500-word paper each of the following 


subjects: Photography; Vegetable Dyes; Ship-building; Modern 
Artistic Furniture. 

4. Criticize and correct the following divisions: 

I. Ships Used in Warfare To-day 

1. Steamers , 

2. Turbines 

3. Converted Liners 

4. Destroyers 

5. Boats of Reinforced Concrete 

6. Fishing-boats 

7. Submarines 

8. German Types of Boats 
II. Famous Gardens 

1. English 

2. Italian 

3. Formal 

4. Made by famous people 

5. Renowned for their beauty 

6. Containing unusual features 

III. Women in Literature 

1. Novelists 

2. Englishwomen 

3. Aristocrats 

4. Married women 

5. Self-made women 

6. Geniuses 

IV. The Genius of Milton 

1. His life 

2. His political career 

3. His prose 

4. His Paradise Lost 

5. His poems 

6. His blindness 

7. His place to-day 
V. Poetry of To-day 

1. Dramatic 

2. Free verse 

3. Lyric 

4. Imitative 

5. Under French influence 

6. The American note 

7. Its future 



Exposition by means of examples is one of the most effect- 
ive ways of making ideas clear. The concrete is always 
easier to understand than the abstract. You hear people 
say, again and again, when a generalization is made, "For 
example?" And a good example often saves much time and 

Examples are of two kinds: 

(1) An individual used to represent the class. Thus when 
we say: "Jonathan Bradford is a typical Yankee," the sen- 
tence brings to our minds a group of qualities which we 
think of as found in varying degrees in all New Englanders. 

(2) The particular instance of the working of a law or 
principle. Thus we may illustrate the law of gravity by the 
example of apples falling from the tree; the theory of com- 
pensation by a case of character developed through loss of 
wealth; the proverb, "A new broom sweeps clean," by an 
example taken from political life. 

To use exemplification successfully, several conditions are 

1. The most important is that the example should be at 
once recognized as really representing the class that it stands 
for or as illustrating the principle that is supposed to be 
working in it. 

2. The example itself must be interesting, must have 
point, must be treated much in the manner of the anecdote, 
if it is to make a deep impression. In making it interesting 
all the methods of narration and description may be called 

3. It is much better as a rule to develop one striking exam- 
ple well and fully than to use several, even if they are all 
good; one tends to blur the impression of another. 

4. If several are used, they must be arranged in the order 
of climax, or the reader's interest will diminish as he proceeds. 


The only point of difficulty in the use of exemplification 
is in dealing with the particular qualities of an individual 
who is used as a type of his class. If you ignore his peculiar 
qualities, he is likely to be little more than a "made-up" 
type. If you include his peculiarities, you are in danger of 
individualizing him to such an extent that he ceases to rep- 
resent his class. The way to avoid these two extremes is 
to show by unmistakable language when you are referring 
to the individual and when to the class. In the following 
quotations you will see two ways of doing this. The first 
describes an individual with continual reference (shown by 
italics) to the class that he represents; and the second de- 
scribes two people without reference to their class, allowing 
free play to individual peculiarities, and only at the end in- 
troduces the expository sentence in the summary telling that 
they represented a class. 

Now, although an architect by profession, he appeared to be 
anxious to be mistaken for a sporting squire. He wore very baggy 
knickerbockers and leggings, and a cap. This raiment was appar- 
ently the agreed uniform of the easy classes in the Five Towns; for 
in the crowd I had noticed several such consciously superior figures 
among the artisans. Mr. Brindley, like most of the people in the 
station, had a slightly pinched and chilled air, as though that morn- 
ing he had by inadvertence omitted to don those garments which 
are not seen. He also, like most of the people there, but not to the 
same extent, had a somewhat suspicious and narrowly shrewd re- 
gard, as who should say: "If any person thinks he can get the better 
of me by a trick, let him try that's all." Arnold Bennett. 

It was a 20 h. p. Panhard, and was worth over a thousand pounds 
as it stood there, throbbing, and Harold was proud of it. 

He was also proud of his young wife, Maud, who, clad in several 
hundred pounds' worth of furs, had taken her seat next to the 
steering-wheel, and was waiting for Harold to mount by her side. 
The united ages of this handsome and gay couple came to less than 

And they owned the motor-car, and Bleakridge House with its 
ten bedrooms, and another house at Llandudno, and a controlling 
interest in Etches, Limited, that brought them in seven or eight 


thousand a year. They were a pretty tidy example of what the Five 
Towns can do when it tries to be wealthy. Arnold Bennett. 


1. What qualities of Americans do you find in the familiar car- 
toon of Uncle Sam? Does the figure represent the American of 
to-day? Have you seen cartoons in which an effort was made to 
bring the type up to date? How did they differ from the usual 
cartoon? Write 200 words on this subject. 

2. What qualities of the British soldier are summed up in Tommy 
Atkins? If you cannot answer this question, read some of the stories 
in Kipling's Soldiers Three and some of the poems in Barrack Room 
Ballads until you have an answer. 

3. Examine a text-book in some science with which you are famil- 
iar, and mark for class discussion the three best illustrative passages 
that you can find of the process of explaining a principle by means 
of examples. 

4. Make a list of as many proverbs as you can remember or find 
ten at least, and as many more as possible. Explain them orally 
by examples. 

5. Write a 200-word paper on the proverb which can be best 
illustrated out of your own experience. Look for examples that 
will strike the attention because they are both somewhat out of 
the ordinary line of experience and in themselves picturesque or 
otherwise interesting. 

6. Expand the following quotation into a 300-word newspaper 
article by means of examples: 

" It is the utter absence of anything approaching culture that 
makes American politics so deadly. It is an unmitigated affliction 
for a man of any taste to have to attend a political convention and 
write about the doings of a mess of politicians, or to sit in the halls 
of Congress and listen to the vapid speeches of the so-called repre- 
sentatives of the people. It is more than afflictive; it is depressing." 


In regard to the use of paraphrase in exposition the only 
thing to be said is that as it is the substitution of familiar 
terms for unfamiliar, it must always be simpler than its 
original, or it fails of its purpose. Amplification, with or 


without illustration, is commonly found with paraphrase; 
and it also implies simplification. A single example will 
suffice for both methods: 

There is an Oriental proverb : Remember that the friend of 
your friend has a friend. What does it mean? Every word 
is clear, every construction is clear, and the literal statement 
is true. But what of it? A friend is one to whom you may 
open your heart in full confidence that he will regard your 
interests as his own. If you tell your friend a secret, you be- 
lieve that he will keep it; but he believes the same of his 
friend, and passes the secret on; and presently it is no secret. 
A secret told to one trustworthy person seems safe; but if 
everyone acts on this theory, there can be no secrets. 

The meaning of the proverb becomes understood simply 
by repeating it in other words and at greater length. This 
method of exposition is often reinforced by the use of illus- 
tration or example, as you will readily see is possible in this 

Paraphrase and amplification are particularly useful to 
explain ideas expressed elliptically or figuratively. 


1. Explain orally by paraphrase or amplification, with or without 
illustration, the following: 

(1) Birds of a feather flock together. 

(2) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 

(3) "Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the 
sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business." 

(4) "He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to 

(5) "For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of 
pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love." 

(6) "Certainly, if a man would give it a hard phrase, those that 
want friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of their own 

(7) "Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall 
dream dreams." 


2. Look up one of the following statements in every way that 
seems necessary, and write a brief exposition of it: 

(1) "Speech is like cloth of Arras, opened and put abroad; 
whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts 
they lie but as in packs." 

(2) " Dry light is best." 

(3) "But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, 
and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of 

(4) "Circles and right lines limit and close all bodies, and the 
mortal right-lined circle must conclude and shut up all." 

(5) "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised 
and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but 
slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for 
not without dust and heat." 


The methods of generalized description and narration need 
but little discussion. They are concerned not with reproduc- 
ing the things and events by which we are surrounded, but 
with explaining the classification of them by setting forth 
the composite impression made upon the mind through the 
physical properties common to all the members of a class. 

Generalized description may be written in the singular or 
plural, giving the range of variation of the shared properties; 
as, for instance, in describing some species of animal, the 
variations in habitat, size, colors, markings, etc., would all 
be indicated. The result would be, not a picture of one 
animal of this kind, but a basis for identifying any member of 
the class through knowledge of the physical properties of the 
class as a whole. This kind of generalized description is used 
much in scientific writing. 

Again, generalized description may be written by striking 
an average, as it were, of the properties of the members of 
the class, and describing a non-existent member regarded as 
a type of the class. This method makes a stronger, because / 


more sharply defined, impression; hence it is better for pop- 
ular exposition than the scientific method. 

Generalized narration of a sequence of events, as "A 
Freshman Day," should be distinguished from generalized 
description of a process, as "Learning to Swim." The 
description, of course, does not differ from the description of 
a static thing except as it involves the element of change. 

Note that the generalized description may be expressed in 
the first or second person, or impersonally. Thus in reporting 
a chemical experiment, the form may be: 

" I take so-and-so, and add. . . ." 

"Take so-and-so, and add. ..." 

"When so-and-so is added to. . . ." Recipes and instruc- 
tions are expressed in the imperative form; manufacturing 
processes are necessarily treated impersonally; with other 
subjects the method varies. 

The fundamental thing in dealing with these methods of 
exposition is to be sure that the qualities that you are pre- 
senting are actually common to the class, and not peculiar to 
the individual. 


1. Among the following, name the subjects that would be treated 
by generalized narration or description and alter the others so that 
they could be treated thus: My First Cherry Pie; How to Make 
Chocolate Cake; The Manufacture of Chlorine; The Busy Man; 
How Harold Recites; Keeping Chickens; How I Made Chickens 
Pay; How to Make Chickens Pay; Learning to Swim; How the 
Monotype Works; Glass-blowing; My Visit to the Glassworks; How 
Molly Voted; How Molly Votes; Molly at the Polls; How I Learned 
to Drive a Car; Learning to Drive a Car. 

2. Bring to class jsix subjects for generalized narration and six 
for generalized description, of a scientific or practical type; and 
with each an outline for its treatment. Discuss and improve these 
outlines in class. 

3. Write about 300 words on one of the following: 

(1) How I Write Letters; or How I Read a Novel; or How I 
Work in the Library. 


(2) Going to the Dressmaker. 

(3) How to Put a Tire on an Automobile. 

(4) Some process of manufacture with which you are familiar. 


If you will look up in the dictionary the noun change, you 
will find as the principal definition something like this: "Act 
or fact of changing, as in conditions or circumstances." This 
is merely an amplification of change = change. Now look up 
the verb change to see if it throws light on the idea. You will 
read something like this : "To alter by substituting something 
for, or by giving up for something else; put or take another 
or others in place of." Do you know now the meaning of 
change? Has definition helped? Can you divide change? 
You can illustrate it by saying: "This leaf was green and now 
is yellow"; or: "This house was solid and is now a ruin." 
Between the former and the present condition lies change. 
But do you know much more than you did before about the 
nature of change itself? 

Look up in the dictionary various other words that rep- 
resent the great forces and laws of Nature motion, electric- 
ity, life, wind, heat, energy, magnetism, gravity, light, etc. 
How much explanation do you get of the nature of these 
forces? In our present state of knowledge we cannot under- 
stand them or explain them at all; we can only give examples 
of their manifestations, and tell the conditions under which 
they seem invariably to appear, and the effects that they seem 
invariably to produce upon the physical matter associated 
with them; that is, we explain them so far as we do explain 
at all in terms of cause and effect. 

This method of exposition is used constantly in all the 
sciences, social as well as experimental; and is similar to 
the explanation of a thing through its physical manifestations, 
except that in this case the physical manifestations appear 


not in the thing that we are trying to explain but in other 
things associated with it. 

The method which is necessary in dealing with the un- 
known forces that control the universe may be used of any 
idea in which cause and effect is under consideration. 

The analysis of a situation in terms of cause and effect 
may proceed in one of three ways. We may ask ourselves 
(1) Why is it as it is? The answer to this question will be a 
group of causes. We may ask ourselves (2) What came of 
it? The answer to this question will be a group of effects. 
Finally, we may ask ourselves (3) What is its place in the 
chain of circumstances? To see this we may answer: It came 
into existence through A, B, C, etc. (causes), and it will help 
to bring into existence A', B', C', etc. (effects) ; it is an effect 
of A, B, C, and a cause of A', B', C', etc. Or we may say: 
It is a complexity in which are discernible many strands of 
cause-and-effect, as A>A', B>B', OC', etc. 

Suppose you are asked to write a paper on: Why are 
Americans snobbish? The statement of the title shows at 
once that you are given an effect and asked to explain its 
causes. Your problem, then, is simple; you have only to an- 
swer the question why. You will think at once of several 
statements beginning with because, that will furnish the main 
outlines of your paper: 

I. Because there is great inequality of wealth. 

II. Because there is great diversity of race and social 

III. Because only five per cent of the people go to high 
school and only one per cent to college. 

IV. Because social standards are so uncertain and so 
variable that snobbery becomes almost necessary in self- 

Upon these and similar reasons you can build up a paper. 
Your only concern will be to have your reasons of approx- 
imately the same degree of importance, and to arrange them 


in the order of increasing importance, or of increasing in- 

If it should happen that you would deny the assumption of 
the subject, then you can only re-state your subject to 
accord with your own belief, and proceed to analysis of the 
new subject. In this case, your subject might be: Why Are 
Americans Democratic? 

Suppose your subject is stated : How Does Sudden Wealth 
Affect People? You see at once that you are asked to deal 
with a cause, and to evolve its effects. You will begin by 
remembering the effects caused by sudden wealth in the 
families of Smith, Brown, and Robinson; and you will soon 
have the first stages of an outline: 

I. It brings out bad traits of character. 

II. It brings out bad taste. 

III. It produces unhappiness. 

Each of these, of course, must be analyzed further. Wealth 
brings out weaknesses of character, because . . . ; brings 
out bad taste, because . . . ; produces unhappiness, be- 
cause .... 

But suppose you are asked to write on: The Effects of the 
Use of Aeroplanes on the Conduct of the War. You will see 
that the Use of Aeroplanes is regarded as the cause of certain 
effects. As aeroplanes are used in different ways and for 
different purposes, your cause is complex and must be 
analyzed into the various uses made of aeroplanes, each of 
which will have its particular effect or effects. The outline 
of your paper, then, will involve a series of causes and 

I. As aeroplanes can view the whole countryside, the dis- 
position of troops must be altered: 

1. Deep, permanent trenches must be abandoned. 

2. Camouflage must be used. 

II. As aeroplanes can carry enough ammunition to attack, 
anti-aircraft defenses must be employed. 


III. As aeroplanes are now standardized and used in 
squadrons, organized defenses must be planned. 
In this way your paper conforms to the type earlier described 
asA>A';B>B';OC', etc. 

Suppose that your subject is : The Influence of Journalism 
on the Modern Short Story. Here you have Journalism as 
the comprehensive cause of a group of effects which must 
be analyzed before you can proceed to your outline. So you 
begin with the effects: 

I. The short story has become shorter because the news- 
paper has accustomed people to scrappy reading. 

II. The narrative-descriptive method has been replaced 
by the dramatic because the newspaper has developed the 
habit of quick shift of attention, and this is best met by 
dramatic presentation. 

III. The short story is expressed in the idiom and slang of 
the moment because newspapers crowd out other reading 
and make other language unfamiliar. 

This partial development shows the method of approach by 
beginning with each effect and relating it at once to its 

Finally, we may analyze a subject so as to look backward 
to its causes and forward to its effects. Suppose that you are 
asked to write on: Apartment Life. Immediately you would 
ask yourself two questions : 

Why do people live in apartments? 

What effect does this life have on them? 
They live in apartments because . . . ; and the life has 
such-and-such . . . effects on them. Fill out the outline 
according to the following plan: 

I. People live in apartments because 
3. (Use as many subheads as you need.) 


II. The effects of apartment life upon them are 

3. (Express your subheads in sentence form, and use 
as many subheads as you can think of effects.) 

In this case you had a group of causes followed by a group 
of effects; the reversal of the order for purposes of climax or 
for any other reason would not affect the fundamental type 
of arrangement. In the next case, you will have a series of 
strands of thought each consisting of a single cause and effect : 
The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Telephone: 

I. The Telephone is an advantage because it saves much 
time; it is a disadvantage because it distracts the attention 
from the work in hand. 

II. It is an advantage because it saves much energy; it is 
a disadvantage because it avoids the necessity of exercise. 

III. It is an advantage because it enables one to make a 
suddenly-needed purchase without delay; it is a disadvantage 
because it leaves one at the mercy of the tradespeople. 

It is of course possible to group all the advantages together, 
and then all the disadvantages; but even so, what we have is a 
group of strands, each consisting of one cause and one effect. 


1. Finish all the outlines suggested in this section. Wherever 
you can, group your heads and subheads in more than one way, 
and decide which way is most effective. 

2. Discuss from notes made beforehand the nature and best 
methods of treating the following subjects: 

(1) The Effects of the Automobile on Character 

(2) The Effects of an Open Fire on Character 

(3) Why Food Prices Should be Regulated by Government in 


(4) The Place of the Kindergarten in the School System 

(5) The Place of Machinery in Civilization 

(6) The Influence of Shakespeare on the Stage To-day 

(7) Why Musical Comedy Succeeds 


(8) The Influence of Moving Pictures on the Regular Drama 

(9) The Relation of H. G. Wells to his Times 
(10) Free Verse 

3. After the best ways of outlining all these subjects have been 
discussed, choose the subject which appeals to you most strongly 
and write a paper of about 500 words on it, developing it entirely 
by cause and effect. Be sure that your outline is absolutely satis- 
factory before you begin. If necessary, have the outline passed 
upon by a competent critic, in class or out of class. 


Character drawing is expository in its purpose; but its 
methods are usually those of narration and description. 

The only character that we know directly is our own. In 
regard to all other persons we reason from outward signs 
personal appearance, expression, manner, gesture, dress, 
environment, actions particular or habitual speech, voice, 
and -the effect produced upon other persons, which mani- 
fests itself in speech and behavior to and in regard to 
them. We can never be sure that we are entirely right as to 
a character; and the probability is that we are more often 
mistaken than not in matters of detail. But the more we 
practice observation of the ways in which traits of character 
manifest themselves in ourselves, and the more we compare 
similar manifestations as they appear in other people, the 
nearer shall we come to a firm basis for our judgments. 

In studying the character of a real person, or of a person 
in a story or play, we reason and draw conclusions from out- 
ward signs; but in presenting a character we assume that 
the results of our reasoning process are correct, and our 
methods are expository. 

Now we may interpret a character by presenting directly 
the sum of our observations and reasoning, thus: 

He is a slow, honest, persistent sort of man. 
This is bare, direct exposition of qualities, useful in practical 


life, but of little value in writing unless it is combined with 
other methods. 

The simplest combination is to add exemplification. Thus 
you may use narration and description together, with per- 
haps quotation also, in three anecdotes telling how your 
subject spent five minutes brushing his hat; how he once 
went out of his way to rectify a mistake in change in his favor; 
and how he trained a refractory horse. 

In these anecdotes, you may combine the direct method 
with the indirect by mentioning the qualities that the stories 
illustrate; or you may keep the method wholly indirect by 
letting your reader infer the qualities from the illustrations. 
Unless a very subtle characterization is to be made, the in- 
direct method is usually preferable, because the passage as 
then consisting entirely of narration and description can be 
made more vivid and more dynamic than if explanatory 
comments are inserted at intervals. 

When the purely indirect method is used, it is nothing 
more than an application of the methods of narration and 
description to the details associated with a person, a group 
of persons as a family, a nation, a race, etc.; a place, or 
even an individual object associated with a place that is, 
a city, or a house in that city; a house, or a room in that 
house; a landscape, or a particular animal, or stream, or tree; 
and to the representations of all these things in art. The 
attempt is sometimes made also to interpret music; but as 
yet we have not developed language to such a point 
that it will achieve this. All that we succeed in doing 
is to describe what we seem to see when we are listening 
to a piece of music. This is not in any proper sense 

The methods of narration and description are found in 
combination, exactly as when no expository purpose underlies 
their use. When they are used in developing exposition, the 
two points to bear in mind are : 


1. The great range and variety of the outward signs of 

2. The degrees of indirectness with which character can 
be explained 

In the following, Sadie is characterized by her manner in 
waiting on customers, by her ideals of pleasure, and by her 
language in voicing them: 

One afternoon at six, when Dulcie was sticking her hatpin within 
an eighth of an inch of her medulla oblongata, she said to her chum, 
Sadie the girl that waits on you with her left side: 

"Say, Sade, I made a date for dinner this evening with Piggy." 
"You never did!" exclaimed Sadie admiringly. "Well, ain't 
you the lucky one? Piggy's an awful swell; and he always takes a 
girl to swell places. He took Blanche up to the Hoffman House 
one evening, where they have swell music and you see a lot of 
swells. You'll have a swell time, Dulcie." 0. Henry. 

In the next quotation Piggy is characterized by direct 
methods, including a metaphor and a pun; by his habits, his 
clothes, and his effect upon certain other people, who are 
in turn characterized by their occupation as the lowest of 
the low: 

Piggy needs but a word. When the girls named him, an unde- 
serving stigma was cast upon the noble family of swine. The 
words-of- three-letters lesson in the old blue spelling book begins 
with Piggy's biography. He was fat; he had the soul of a rat, the 
habits of a bat, the magnanimity of a cat. . . . He wore expensive 
clothes, and was a connoisseur in starvation. He could look at a 
shop-girl and tell you to an hour how long it had been since she 
had eaten anything more nourishing than marshmallows and tea. 
He hung about the shopping districts, and prowled around in de- 
partment stores with his invitations to dinner. Men who escort 
dogs upon the streets at the end of a string look down upon him. 
He is a type; I can dwell upon him no longer: my pen is not the 
kind intended for him. I am no carpenter. 0. Henry. 

In the next quotation the characterization of a group is 
done by a description of photographs : 


... he drew the family photographs from under his pillow, 
and handed them over: the little witch-grandmother, with a face 
like a withered walnut, the father, a fine broken-looking old boy 
with a Roman nose and a weak chin, the mother in crape, simple, 
serious and provincial, the little sister ditto, and Alain, the young 
brother ... an over-grown thread-paper boy with too much 
forehead and eyes, and not a muscle in bis body. A charming- 
looking family, distinguished and amiable; but all, except the 
grandmother, rather usual. The kind of people who come in sets. 

Edith Wharton. 

In the next, a woman is characterized partly by her en- 
vironment, but chiefly by her effect upon the speaker: 

" She sat by the fire in a bare panelled bedroom, bolt upright in 
an armchair with ears, a knitting-table at her elbow with a shaded 
candle on it. She was even more withered and ancient than she 
looked in her photograph, and I judge she's never been pretty; 
but she somehow made me feel as if I'd got through with prettiness. 
I don't know exactly what she reminded me of: a dried bouquet, or 
something rich and clovy that had turned brittle through long 
keeping in a sandal-wood box. I suppose her sandal-wood box had 
been Good Society. Well, I had a rare evening with her." 

Edith Wharton. 

In the next, a man is characterized by his actions and his 
effect upon other people, as described by his widow: 

"You know how Tobin would let his fist right out at anybody 
that undertook to sass him. Town-meetin' days, if he got disap- 
pointed about the way things went, he'd lay 'em out in win'rows; 
and ef he hadn't been a church member he'd been a real fightin' 
character. I was always 'fraid to have him roused, for all he was 
so willin' and meechin' to home, and set round clever as anybody. 
My Susan Ellen used to boss him same's the kitten, when she was 
four year old." Sarah Orne Jewett. 

In the next, a young man is characterized by the actions 
of other people, who, incidentally, characterize themselves at 
the same time: 

He had a bad hour of it; but he held his own, keeping silent while 
they screamed, and stiffening as they began to wobble from ex- 
haustion. Finally he took his mother apart, and tried to reason 


with her. His arguments were not much use, but his resolution 
impressed her, and he saw it. As for his father, nobody was afraid 
of Monsieur de R6champ. When he said: "Never never while I 
live, and there is a roof on Re*champ," they all knew he had col- 
lapsed inside. But the grandmother was terrible. She was terrible 
because she was so old, and so clever at taking advantage of it. 
She could bring on a valvular heart-attack by just sitting still and 
holding her breath, as Jean and his mother had long since found 
out; and she always treated them to one when things weren't going 
as she liked. Edith Wharton. 

In the next, three women are characterized by the way they 
looked and acted upon hearing something that shocked them : 

A shudder ran around the room. Mrs. Leveret coughed so that 
the parlor-maid, who was handing the cigarettes, should not hear; 
Miss Van Vluyck's face took on a nauseated expression, and Mrs. 
Plinth looked as if she were passing some one she did not care to 
bow to. Edith Wharton. 

The interpretation of the spirit of a place or of a work of 
art is often perhaps more valuable as a revelation of the 
writer's personality than as a final explanation of the thing 
itself. For instance, Mr. H. G. Wells interprets the statue 
of Liberty in New York harbor thus : 

One gets a measure of the quality of this force of mechanical, of 
inhuman, growth as one marks the great statue of Liberty on our 
larboard, which is meant to dominate the scene. It gets to three 
hundred feet about, by standing on a pedestal of a hundred and 
fifty; and the uplifted torch, seen against the sky, suggests an arm 
straining upward, straining in hopeless competition with the fierce 
commercial altitudes ahead. Poor liberating lady of the American 
ideal. One passes her and forgets. 

Whatever we think of the art of this statue, it is not likely 
that many of us have consciously interpreted its smallness 
as seen over against the sky-scrapers behind it, in this way. 

In writing interpretations of this kind, it is important not 
to let personality run away with fact; in other words, to see 
that there is a real foundation in the facts themselves 
to warrant the meaning based upon them. In the following 


exposition of spring, you will see that the author merely 
hints at the emotions communicated by certain lights, scents, 
and sounds; he keeps very close to his observations of Nature: 

A soft sound of water moving among thousands of grass-blades 
to the hearing it is as the sweetness of spring air to the scent. It is 
so faint and so diffused that the exact spot whence it issues cannot 
be discerned, yet it is distinct, and my footsteps are slower as I 
listen. Yonder, in the corners of the mead, the atmosphere is full 
of some ethereal vapor. The sunshine stays in the air there, as if 
the green hedges held the wind from brushing it away. Low and 
plaintive come the notes of a lapwing; the same notes, but tender 
with love. Richard Jefferies. 

In the exposition of a work of art it is highly important 
to base your impression of what the artist is trying to say 
upon close observation of what he has actually put into 
his painting or statue. He may try to tell a story, or to ex- 
press character, or the spirit of a place, or the physical beauty 
of line, color, atmosphere, or a spiritual beauty scarcely 
translatable into words. Whatever it is, there is only one 
way of understanding it, and that is through its visible signs. 
As a very simple exercise in this kind of interpretation, let us 
consider the meaning from outward signs of the picture by 
Holbein on the opposite page. 

To study it, regard it not as a work of art, but as if it were 
a reflection in a looking-glass; and answer the following ques- 
tions : 

1. What information does the picture give about the subject? 
the artist? the date? 

2. Is the subject of the portrait rich or poor? has he ever done 
manual work? does he buy and sell? Note the evidence. 

3. Of what materials are his clothes made? How many rings 
has he? What do you observe about them? 

4. Where is he sitting? How is the room constructed? What 
articles of furniture and other equipment do you see? 

5. What information about letters and letter-writing does the 
picture give? Be sure that you note every detail. 

6. What can you tell about the books? 

Portrait bv Holbein 


7. What do you observe about the coins? 

8. What does the table cover suggest about European trade at 
the time the picture was painted? 

9. What are the flowers in the vase? 

10. Do you see anything else in the picture that calls for com- 

Now sum up your notes under two heads: 

1. The details that suggest the life and character of the 

2. The details that give information as to the artist's 
methods and skill 

With these notes you can explain both the character of the 
man portrayed and the skill with which the artist has ev- 
idently portrayed him. The two subjects are quite distinct. 
This method of exposition can be applied to any work of 
art; but the more subtle the subject and the more distinctive 
the technique, the more difficult it is to keep your exposition 
grounded upon material facts the more difficult and the 
more important. The sane and luminous exposition of works 
of art is one of the most difficult forms of writing. Here we 
have barely touched upon the most elementary aspect of it. 


1. Sum up in direct statements your understanding of the 
character interpreted in the following passages; and note all the 
methods of exposition used. Then try to find other examples of 
these same methods from stories mentioned on pp. 157, 316 of 
this book: 

"Dulcie hurried homeward. Her eyes were shining, and her 
cheeks showed the delicate pink of life's real life's approaching 
dawn. It was Friday; and she had fifty cents left of her last week's 

"Dulcie stopped in a store where goods were cheap and bought 
an imitation lace collar with her fifty cents. That money was to 
have been spent otherwise fifteen cents for supper, ten cents 
for breakfast, ten cents for lunch. Another dime was to be added 
to her small store of savings; and five cents was to be squandered 
for licorice drops the kind that make your cheek look like the 


toothache, and last as long. The licorice was an extravagance 
almost a carouse but what is life without pleasures? 

"Dulcie had a furnished room. There is this difference between 
a furnished room and a boarding-house. In a furnished room, other 
people do not know it when you go hungry. 

"On the dresser .were her treasures a gilt china vase presented 
to her by Sadie, a calendar issued by pickle works, a book on the 
divination of dreams, some rice powder in a glass dish, and a cluster 
of artificial cherries tied with a pink ribbon. 

"Against the wrinkly mirror stood pictures of General Kitchener, 
William Muldoon, the Duchess of Marlborough, and Benvenuto 
Cellini. Against one wall was a plaster of Paris plaque of an O'Cal- 
lahan in a Roman helmet. Near it was a violent oleograph of a 
lemon-colored child assaulting an inflammatory butterfly. . . . 

"At ten minutes to seven Dulcie was ready. She looked at her- 
self in the wrinkly mirror. The reflection was satisfactory. The 
dark blue dress, fitting without a wrinkle, the hat with its jaunty 
black feather, the but-slightly-soiled gloves all representing self- 
denial, even of food itself were vastly becoming. 

"Dulcie turned to the dresser to get her handkerchief; and then 
she stopped still, and bit her underlip hard. While looking in her 
mirror she had seen fairyland and herself a princess, just awakening 
from a long slumber. She had forgotten one that was watching 
her with sad, beautiful, stern eyes the only one there was to ap- 
prove or condemn what she did. Straight and slender and tall, 
with a look of reproach on his handsome, melancholy face, General 
Kitchener fixed his wonderful eyes on her out of his gilt photograph 
frame on the dresser. 

"Dulcie turned like an automatic doll to the landlady. 

"'Tell him I can't go,' she said dully. 'Tell him I'm sick, or 
something. Tell him I'm not going out.' 

"After the door was closed and locked, Dulcie fell upon her bed, 
crushing her black tip, and cried for ten minutes. General Kit- 
chener was her only friend. He was Dulcie's ideal of a gallant 
knight. He looked as if he might have a secret sorrow, and his 
wonderful moustache was a dream, and she was a little afraid of 
that stern yet tender look in his eyes. She used to have little fancies 
that he would call at the house sometime, and ask for her, with his 
sword clanking against his high boots. Once, when a boy was rat- 
tling a piece of chain against a lamp-post, she had opened the window 
and looked out. But there was no use. She knew that General 
Kitchener was away over in Japan, leading his army against the 
savage Turks; and he would never step out of his gilt frame for her. 
Yet one look from him had vanquished Piggy for that night. Yes, 
for that night. 

" When her cry was over Dulcie got up and took off her best dress, 
and put on her old blue kimono. She wanted no dinner. She sang 


two verses of 'Sammy.' Then she became intensely interested 
in a little bad speck on the side of her nose. And after that was 
attended to, she drew up a chair to the rickety table, and told her 
fortune with an old deck of cards. 

"'The horrid, impudent thing,'" she said aloud. 'And I never 
gave him a word or a look to make him think it.' 

"At nine o'clock Dulcie took a tin box of crackers and a little pot 
of raspberry jam out of her trunk, and had a feast. She offered 
General Kitchener some jam on a cracker; but he only looked at 
her as the sphinx would have looked at a butterfly if there are 
butterflies in the desert. 

'"Don't eat it if you don't want to,' said Dulcie. 'And don't 
put on so many airs and scold so with your eyes. I wonder if you'd 
be so superior and snippy if you had to live on six dollars a week.' " 

0. Henry. 

2. Write a group of brief character studies (about 100 words 
each), on the basis of (1) clothes; (2) shoes; (3) neckties; (4) hats; 
(5) pictures in a room; (6) books owned; (7) an automobile; (8) 
hands; (9) voice; (10) some habit. 

3. Write a 300-word exposition of some place a town, a house, 
a bit of nature very familiar to you. 

4. Write in 100 words each expositions of (1) the Gisze picture; 
(2) Holbein's art in it. 

5. Repeat the exercise with some picture of your own choosing. 




ARGUMENT is the process by which we arrive at truth, 
and persuade others to believe and to act upon it. It be- 
gins with the accumulation and testing of facts, and proceeds 
by the application of reason to these facts in order to draw 
inferences as to their relationships and meaning. Both facts 
and inferences must be narrowly scrutinized at every step, 
as a single error of fact or a single incorrect inference may 
shake the entire argument. 

In this way we argue to convince ourselves and others. 
When we further add an appeal to the emotions of men, our 
process is extended beyond conviction to persuasion, which 
has special methods of its own. 

Every argument is based upon an assertion in technical 
language, a proposition of which the subject and the pred- 
icate are called the terms. No argument can be based upon 
a single term. You cannot argue "democracy"; you can 
argue: "Democracy is a success"; or "Democracy is a fail- 

We use argument in several different ways. By the 
methods of conviction alone we endeavor to establish truth: 
this truth may be a matter of fact, or the working of some 
law or principle in Nature or in human life or society. By 
the methods of conviction and persuasion together we try 
to make other people believe and act in accordance with the 
results reached by the argument. 

As argument is always based upon a proposition, there are 


always two sides to be considered: the side that affirms the 
truth of the proposition, and the side that denies it. Where 
all the facts are admittedly on one side, there can be no 
argument; where they are evenly balanced, no conclusion. 
In most arguments the conclusion is based upon a prepon- 
derance of the evidence on one side or the other. Truth is 
discovered by gradual approximations, ranging from possibil- 
ity, through varying degrees of probability, to certainty. 
The number of conclusions which are now regarded as cer- 
tain is still extremely limited. What one age thinks it has 
proved, the next disproves altogether or in part. Usually, 
however, there is a residuum of truth after the false has been 
removed, and this forms the basis for a new line of argument. 

Before you can argue about any proposition, you must 
make up your mind whether it is true or false. To do this 
you must collect and test the evidence. All evidence is either 
direct, or as it is sometimes called, testimonial based upon 
the statements of witnesses; or indirect derived by inference 
from circumstances or environment. In both kinds of ev- 
idence there are many possibilities of error. 

Direct evidence is obtained from the observations of wit- 
nesses. But suppose the witnesses disagree? Suppose sev- 
eral people say that they saw Smith shoot Jones; and several 
say that they saw Jones shoot himself although Smith tried 
to prevent him. How can you get the facts? There are four 
tests that can be applied to the statements of these wit- 
nesses by which the relative values of their testimonies will 

1. Is this witness a competent observer? 

2. Is he known to be generally truthful? 

3. Is his judgment unbiased by personal feeling? 

4. Is his testimony for or against his own interest? 

If, for instance, one of the witnesses is an old man who can 
scarcely see, his testimony is almost worthless; if another is a 
loafer who would do anything for the price of a drink, his 


testimony is seriously impaired by that fact; if a third is 
Jones's friend and Smith's enemy, the fact will have to be 
taken into account; if the fourth, who is Smith's enemy and 
has vowed to get even with him for an old grudge, testifies 
that he saw Jones shoot himself while Smith was trying to get 
the revolver from him, his testimony will outweigh that of 
many others, because he is testifying against his will and 
his own interests. 

So it is that the most rigid scrutiny of testimony must be 
made before it can be accepted as fact. The possibilities of 
distortion of the truth through error of observation, through 
the effect of emotion or prejudice, and through motives of 
self-interest, are even with the utmost care scarcely to be 

Indirect evidence is subject to all the error involved in the 
testimony of witnesses, inasmuch as it also presents facts 
subject to personal interpretation; and it involves further 
errors in the formation of hypotheses to fit the facts. The 
danger is always that more than one hypothesis will fit the 
same set of circumstances almost equally well. Many an 
innocent man has been convicted of crime on the basis of a 
combination of circumstances which time showed to be ex- 
plicable on quite another hypothesis. A thumb print is 
enough to convict a murderer, because no two people have 
thumbs that make exactly the same prints; but there is per- 
haps no other form of circumstantial evidence that is in 
itself entirely convincing. As a rule, the value of circum- 
stantial evidence is cumulative: a single detail may leave 
room for many hypotheses; but every detail added narrows 
the number of hypotheses, until enough details may be found 
to permit only one hypothesis to fit the case. If, for example, 
a murderer has lost a button from his coat and has dropped 
a gray glove, and if a man is found who has lost such a button 
and such a glove, there is evidence enough for arresting him; 
yet the button may be of a type worn by many men, and it is 


conceivable that two men might have lost a glove of the 
same size and color at about the same time and in the same 
town. If, however, the arrested man has blood-stains on 
his clothes and articles that belonged to the murdered man 
in his possession, there will be little doubt of his guilt. And 
yet, his story of a cut finger, and of finding or buying the 
victim's jewelry, however improbable, may be true. The 
facts will be against him the more so if he is a bad character 
and had an obvious motive for committing the crime; but 
there is still room for other hypotheses, and until all these 
have been eliminated, the man should not be convicted. 

If direct and indirect evidence agree, the proof becomes 
very strong; if they contradict each other, the one that leaves 
most residuum of fact after both have been tested by every 
available means, will outweigh the other; but the conclusion 
will none the less be weakened by their contradiction, and 
there will be the chance that fresh evidence of either kind 
might turn the scale. 


1. Discuss the value of the following witnesses: 

(1) A discharged employee (a) for, and (b) against the company 
for which he had worked 

(2) A mother in regard to details of her son's injury in a street 
accident; a surgeon on the same case; a policeman; a bystander 

(3) A child of eight on the details of a crime 

(4) A lunatic (a) incriminating himself in a charge of arson; (b) 
against the superintendent, claiming mistreatment 

(5) A relative, as against a handwriting expert, in a case of forgery 

(6) An accomplice in a crime 

(7) A naval officer against an inventor who has devised an 
instrument for detecting submarines 

(8) An inventor on the device of a rival 

(9) A person in delirium 

(10) A wife against her husband; a divorced wife against her 
former husband 

2. Discuss the value of the following as circumstantial evidence: 


(1) an article of clothing found on the spot; (2) footprints; (3) 
fingerprints; (4) failure to produce an alibi; (5) the behavior of an 
accused person. 

3. Invent, or find, and discuss a case of crime in which circum- 
stantial evidence seems conclusive. Then try to show that it is 

4. Examine the testimony of various witnesses in a trial reported 
recently in the newspapers, and suggest reason* which determine 
the value of the testimony of each. 

5. Write a summary of the evidence on each side in some trial 
that has recently attracted attention, together with a statement 
of the decision reached. State whether or not you agree with this 
decision, on the basis of the evidence offered; if you do not agree, 
give your reasons for your different opinion. 

These papers should be discussed in class. 

6. Imagine yourself lawyer for the defense in the following case 
in which the evidence is all circumstantial. The man's character 
is excellent, and his mother is convinced of his innocence. On the 
night of the murder, he had been out shooting. He arrived home 
late, without his gun, his clothes torn, and his face and hands 
bleeding; he was breathless and excited. His story was that he had 
lain down to rest, had fallen asleep, and when he awakened, had 
missed his gun. As he rushed headlong after the thief, he had 
stumbled into a barbed wire fence and fallen; the wire and a piece 
of broken crockery on the rough ground had torn his clothes and 
injured him. The murdered man was found not far away in an 
abandoned brickyard by the owner of the brickyard at eleven 
o'clock at night. He had been shot with the missing gun, which 
lay near him. 

Is the evidence convincing? How should you proceed to test it? 


If the determination of facts in regard to contemporary 
events and conditions is difficult because of the many sorts 
of error that creep into first-hand evidence, and the many 
hypotheses that fit a particular set of observed circumstances, 
much more difficult is it to get at the truth in regard to events 
and conditions from which we are far removed. Here the 
indirect evidence, in proportion as it is fragmentary, leaves 
more room for wrong hypotheses, and the direct evidence, 


which we sum up in the term authority, is more often second- 
hand or even thirdhand than the testimony of one in a posi- 
tion to know the full truth and unbiased to tell the exact 
truth. Consequently, we must use all the methods of testing 
used in a legal process to-day, and add others to meet the 
special difficulties. 

To get an idea of the causes of error and the need of critical 
methods in dealing with reports of remote events, let us first 
examine a very familiar legend. 

The famous story of William Tell, who to prove his marks- 
manship first shot an apple from his son's head, and after- 
ward shot Gessler, the oppressor of his country, has been 
until recent times generally accepted. There are memorial 
coins and charters that pretend to date from the fourteenth 
century; the name of Tell occurs in the register of the canton 
of Uri; the place where the shooting test was held is still 
pointed out, and a chapel on Lake Lucerne is said to have been 
built on the spot where Tell landed when he escaped from the 
tyrant. If all this evidence bears testing, it forms a fairly 
substantial basis for believing the story. 

But the first mention of Tell occurs in the White Book, 
a chronicle written one hundred and fifty years after the sup- 
posed events. This long silence is not conclusive, but it is 
significant. Should you incline to believe a story of the 
Revolutionary War first published now? Further, examina- 
tion of the coins and charters shows that they are forged; 
examination of the Register of Uri shows that the name Tell 
has been altered from Nail; the Austrians never were op- 
pressors of Uri; there never was an Austrian governor named 
Gessler, and no Gessler was ever governor of a Swiss canton. 

On the other hand, a very similar story told of other per- 
sons appears in the twelfth century history of the Dane, Saxo 
Grammaticus, which was then popular throughout Europe. 
This story, it seems, was first incorporated in the White Book, 
and then evidence was manufactured to support it. 


On examination, then, it appears that there is no good 
authority for the truth of the Tell story, that the only 
authorities have been fabricated out of a well-known source 
of fiction. 

So in every argument to establish fact, in connection with 
history, biography, and the historical aspects of the sciences, 
no progress can be made until the documentary evidence 
has been thoroughly tested. In doing this, four questions 
must be answered satisfactorily: 

1. Is the document genuine? 

2. Precisely what does it mean? 

3. Did the writer know the facts? 

4. Did he tell the truth? 

If a document is self-contradictory, or if it conflicts with 
other documents known to be genuine, or if its evidence runs 
counter to human experience, its genuineness is open to ques- 
tion and must be established by a separate analysis and 
argument before it can be used as authority. If its authentic- 
ity cannot for lack of evidence be established, it must be re- 
jected, or quoted with full admission of its doubtful value: 
no appreciable weight of the argument must be allowed to 
depend upon it. 

The meaning of a document can be established with cer- 
tainty only upon the basis of a thorough knowledge of the 
language it uses, and of the nature and relationships of the 
persons or things of which it treats. 

To discover whether the writer was in a position to know 
the facts, it is necessary to study the circumstances of his 
life and his relationship to the matter about which he writes. 
If he is not contemporary, his work must be referred to its 
contemporary sources, and these must undergo the testing. 
If he is contemporary, we must ask whether he knew the 
truth at firsthand, or had access to those who did, or whether 
he lived far from the things that he relates, and writes merely 
from hearsay. 


But even if he is shown to have had every opportunity to 
know the facts, it does not follow that he is telling the truth. 
We must examine his work until we know whether in general 
he is truthful; we must look for information as to his char- 
acter among his contemporaries; we must consider whether 
from the circumstances of his life, he writes with a bias. 
If Cromwell had written a history of the Civil War of 
1642 in England, he would have presented it from a very 
different angle from the History of the Great Rebellion by the 
Earl of Clarendon, who was a Stuart partisan. Religious 
and political prejudices, personal relationships and tastes, 
affect vitally the work of a man even when he hon- 
estly aims to tell the truth. It is said that influences of 
this nature make it necessary to investigate and rewrite 
almost the whole history of the early years of our own 

All such tests must be carried out with extreme care, and 
minor arguments introduced whenever there is reason to 
doubt a single fact used to support the major argument. 
It is because in the past too much has been taken for granted 
that we continually find so-called historical facts which rest 
upon no more secure foundation than a surmise. Until we 
have learned never to build upon anything less than estab- 
lished fact, we shall never feel secure in our knowledge of 
history. Hypotheses are useful as long as they are clearly 
understood to be hypotheses; the danger is that in time they 
come to be regarded as facts. 

In addition to direct testimony as to matters t>f history, 
we have all sorts of indirect or circumstantial evidence, the 
value of which is increasingly recognized. It includes not 
merely such things as coins, medals, inscriptions, coats-of- 
arms, monuments, etc., but dress, ornaments, weapons, 
household furniture, dwellings, and the traces of events upon 
physical things, such as the signs of battle, or bombardment, 
or engineering. If all these things are subjected to the 


most rigid scrutiny, they contribute enormously to the estab- 
lished facts of the past. 

In collecting material, then, to form the basis of historical 
argument, remember that opinion is not fact: a thing is not 
true because you think it is; and authority is not fact: a thing 
is not true because it is in print. Any witness may be mis- 
taken, or he may be misrepresenting. Fact is the residuum 
after all possible tests have been applied. 

Although you are not now in a position to do elaborate 
testing of facts, you cannot begin too soon to acquire the 
habit of questioning the truth of any unsupported statement 
of being ready to challenge authority as authority, and to 
investigate everything that poses as fact without bearing 
proper credentials. 

Your procedure should be as follows. Begin with the 
standard compilations of fact in the reference books of best 
reputation, and from these work back to the original sources, 
always bearing in mind the principles for testing suggested in 
this section, and applying them as far as you can. If you find 
a decided difference of opinion among authorities, you must 
consider very carefully the claims of the minority as over 
against the majority. If, for example, a single authority of 
recognized high value, differs from all who have preceded 
him, it is not without good reason; you must look with special 
care to see whether his presentation of the case is well 
supported. If he is the latest authority, he may have had 
access to information unknown to his predecessors. And 
the more widely divergent the opinions are, the more you will 
hesitate before deciding which is right. 

In preparing arguments upon current topics problems in 
politics, economics, or current events the same care must 
be used to distinguish between facts, on the one hand, and 
opinions, conjectures, representations, on the other. Here 
the difficulty is even greater than with historical arguments, 
partly because the subjects themselves are so enormously 


complex, and so largely a matter of principle or theory that 
has not been tested by time, and partly because the com- 
mon sources of information, newspapers and magazines, are 
always biased and full of error. To counteract this bias, and 
to eliminate these errors, it is necessary to gather material 
from sources representing as many points of view as possible, 
checking one against another; in the course of establishing a 
balance of fact among opposing views, many errors will be 
eliminated. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of 
sifting out facts in this kind of argument. The chief reason 
why so little headway has been made in settling many of these 
vital problems is the inability or the unwillingness of the 
opposing parties to get down to bare facts. 

This is not the place to discuss the kind of argument used 
in the establishment of scientific fact; but one point may be 
noted. The scientific method involves the same kind of 
close analysis, of narrow observation, that we discussed in 
connection with history; and it adds the testing of theory by 
means of experiment. 

In every branch of knowledge the fundamental principle 
in regard to the separation of facts from non-facts, and the 
accumulation of facts as evidence from which by the processes 
of reasoning we may draw inferences, is essentially the 
same: the principle of looking beneath every statement for 
the facts that support it, and beneath each of these assumed 
facts for the facts that support it, until facts are reached which 
are universally admitted to be true. 

The following practical suggestions may be helpful: 

1. Note only one fact on a card; and on the same card 
give all the authorities that you find in support of it. 

2. Keep all these fact cards together with an elastic band, 
or in the same index box. 

3. Put each statement of doubtful authority on a separate 
card, together with such authority as it has; and keep these 
cards together in a separate place. 


4. As you find upon further investigation that these doubt- 
ful facts either gain or lose authority, deal with them accord- 
ingly : either transfer them when you regard them as estab- 
lished to the fact group, or throw them out. 

5. If when you are ready to write your argument, you still 
have a group of facts the value of which you have been un- 
able to determine, either do not use them at all, or use them 
in footnotes, with the plainest sort of assertion as to their 
doubtful character. 1 


1. Read the life of Shakespeare in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, or in the best life available, and write on cards six facts 
with the authority upon which they depend. Discuss these in class. 

2. Using the same sources, determine whether or not the following 
statements are facts; give the authority upon which each depends, 
and show that it is or is not good: 

(1) He played before Queen Elizabeth. 

(2) He was a mediocre actor. 

(3) He held horses for noblemen outside the theater door, and 
organized a company of horse boys. 

(4) He planted a mulberry tree in his Stratford garden. 

(5) He knew the Earl of Southampton. 

3. If a Parish Register contains an entry of a man's death in 
1675, and a biography of that man quotes a document with signa- 
ture dated 1679, how will you reconcile the discrepancy or get at 
the facts? How many possibilities are there? Which is most likely? 

4. Is a newspaper authority for a fact of current history? What 
do you consider sufficient authority for such a fact? 

5. How can you test newspaper information about politics? 

1 Among useful works of reference in getting material for argument are 
the following: the States-mans Year Book, the New York Times Index and 
New York Times Current History, the World Almanac, the Daily News Al- 
manac (Chicago), Whitaker's Almanac, the Journal of Political Economy 
(University of Chicago), the English Who's Who, and Who's Who in America, 
the Encyclopaedia Brilannica (llth edition), the Dictionary of National 
Biography, Appleton's Cyclopaedia of National Biography; and the indexes 
to periodical literature (Poole's Index to 1900, the Reader's Guide since 
1900, and the Annual Magazine Subject Index (1907, which includes since 
1909 the Dramatic Index). 


6. How can you test technical information derived from a pop- 
ular magazine? 

7. Collect on one set of cards all the facts you can on one of the 
following subjects; on other cards set down material which you 
regard as untrustworthy. In each case cite your authority on the 
same card with the assertion: 

(1) The Filipinos are capable of self-government. 

(2) (Insert the name of some much- 
advertised patent medicine) is a fraud. 

(3) Automobiles have improved the roads. 

(4) War increases idealism. 

8. Discuss the value of the following authorities: 

(1) Magna Charta; Domesday Book; the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence; the Hague Conventions; any deed of sale of land; a will; 
a marriage certificate; the files of a corporation; the Congressional 

(2) Washington's Letters; Franklin's Autobiography; the Pas- 
ton Letters; Boswell's Life of Johnson; Luther's Table Talk; the 
histories of Herodotus and Thucydides; the Encyclopaedia Britann- 
ica; Carlyle's French Revolution; Macaulay's History of England; 
Taine's History of English Literature. 

9. Look up the careers of the following persons and bring notes 
to class as a basis for discussing their authority in their respective 
fields: Thomas Huxley; Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin; Sir James 
Bryce; FJie Metchnikoff; Alexis Carrel; A. H. L. F. Pitt-Rivers; 
W. Flinders Petrie; Sir Oliver Lodge. 

10. Discuss the value of the following sources of indirect evidence: 

(1) Botticelli's paintings for Italy in the 15th century. 

(2) Ornaments and implements of war dug up in a peat bog or 

(3) The results of excavating the Roman Forum. 

(4) The topography to-day of the battlefield of Bannockburn. 

(5) The architecture of the mediaeval town of Carcassonne as 
it looks to-day. 


The first step in pursuing an inquiry into the truth of an 
assertion is the accumulation and testing of facts; the second 
is the drawing of correct inferences. But the two processes 
are so closely associated that only by stopping to analyze 


the results that they work together to give do we come to 
realize the difference between fact and inference. In the 
building up of argument, sound inference is as useful struc- 
turally as verified fact, and it is not important to distinguish 
between them. But it is all-important to learn how to draw 
inferences so that they shall always be sound. An error in 
inference destroys the validity of an argument as thoroughly 
as an error in fact. 

Inferences are drawn from facts by the two processes of 
reasoning. Inductive reasoning proceeds from the particular 
to the general, and deductive reasoning from the general 
to the particular. The two processes commonly supplement 
each other in argument. 

Inductive reasoning begins with the observation of par- 
ticular facts. Suppose that a group of men at the Club are 
talking of their sons. One says: "Bill has improved in every 
way since he went in for military training." Another: "So 
has Tom." Another: "And Jack." Another: "And Jim." 
Another: "And Harry." Every man present, who has a 
son that has gone in for military training, makes a similar 
statement; and every man present draws the same conclu- 

Boys improve in every way when they go in for military 

In other words, we have a number of cases observed under 
similar conditions, in which a relationship is maintained. 
It may be, as here, a cause and effect: 

Cause: Military training 

Effect: Improvement in boys 

In cases 1, 2, 3, n, military training improves boys; therefore 
it will improve all boys. 

Or the relationship may be simply of identity: 

Fact 1. This leaf (oak) is green 

2. This leaf (beech) is green 

3. This leaf (pine) is green 


4. This leaf (geranium) is green 
n. This leaf (x, y) is green 

Do these facts justify the conclusion? "All leaves are 

In this kind of reasoning from the particular case to the 
generalization that covers all similar cases, there are two 
possible sources of error: 

1. Wrong observation of a particular case. Bill has im- 
proved in every way; but Tom, without his father's knowl- 
edge, has become a gambler. Jack has improved in every 
way; but Jim has overtaxed his strength, and is, although his 
father does not know it, on the sick list. 

2. The use of too few facts to warrant the generalization. 
Five boys may have improved under military training; but 
how about the next five? How many cases must be observed 
before it is safe to draw the conclusion that military training 
is beneficial? And again, we may observe the leaves of five 
hundred trees and plants before we find out that the leaf of a 
copper beech is not green. But as soon as we do observe it, 
this single fact invalidates our general conclusion. It is 
not true that all leaves are green, although it is true that most 
leaves are. Nor is it true that all boys are improved in every 
way by military training, although it may be true that most 
boys are improved. 

In the use of inductive reasoning, then, you must take great 
care (1) to scrutinize each fact upon which your conclusion 
depends; and (2) to avoid hasty generalization. Aside from 
the laws of science which the experience of the race has found 
to be invariable, and which are assumed to be invariable, 
there are few generalizations without exception. But the 
great value of inductive reasoning is that it trains the mind 
both to recognize when generalization is valid, and to beware 
of the generalization which is only partly true as a basis for 
argument. The special technique of scientific reasoning, 
which has been developed to guard against the dangers of 


the simple inductive method and to supply its deficiencies, 
you will best learn later in connection with special problems 
in your study of one of the sciences. 


1. Show that each of the following generalizations is or is not 
entirely true: 

(1) All living things grow. 

(2) Every misfortune benefits somebody. 

(3) All ambitious men are selfish. 

(4) All peacocks have gaudy plumage. 

(5) Birds of a feather flock together. 

(6) All women hate snakes. 

(7) All superfluity is a burden. 

(8) All snow is cold. 

(9) Ferns never blossom. 
(10) All clocks tick. 

2. Point out the hasty and unwarranted generalizations among 
the following: 

(1) All Americans are energetic. 

(2) All Italians are dark. I never saw one that wasn't. 

(3) I never bought a pair of cheap gloves that were worth the 

(4) Little women always manage their big husbands. Look 
at the Smiths, the Browns, and the Robinsons. 

(5) Geniuses are always bad-tempered. 

(6) All light is associated with heat. 

(7) All green apples are sour. 

(8) All women who dress badly have bad taste. 

(9) All cats have tails. 

(10) Tyrants always come to a bad end. Look at Louis XV and 
Charles I. 

3. Discuss the possibility of making accurate generalizations on 
the following points: 

(1) The occupations of Hungarians in the United States. 

(2) The markings of tigers' skins. 

(3) The shape of torpedoes. 

(4) The untidiness of American cities. 

(5) The success of college graduates. 

4. Under the headings facts and conclusion, outline the process 


of inductive reasoning that begins with each of the following ob- 
servations. Which lead to satisfactory conclusions? 

(1) The lions in Central Park eat meat. 

(2) The turtle in our pond can swim. 

(3) Our baby cries when she is hungry. 

(4) I burned my finger in the fire. 

(5) The geranium in the north window did not blossom. 

(6) That brown-spotted apple is rotten. 

(7) The Eskimo I saw yesterday had straight hair. 

(8) A crowded car passed by without stopping. 

(9) It looks like rain to-day. 

(10) My dollar pair of gloves proved worthless. 


Deductive reasoning proceeds from the general to the par- 
ticular. It begins where inductive reasoning leaves off, that 
is, with a generalization, and applies this to a particular case. 
If it is true that all boys are improved by military training, 
then Frank, who is a boy, will be improved by military 

In deductive reasoning there are three stages : 

1. The generalization, which is called the major premise. 

2. The particular statement, which is called the minor 

3. The inference from the two premises, which is called 
the conclusion. 

The entire process of reasoning is called a syllogism, and 
its form is this: 

1. All substances that turn litmus paper red are acids. 

2. This substance turns litmus paper red. 

3. This substance is an acid. 

In the syllogism error comes in when 

1. The major premise is not true; 

2. The minor premise is not true; 

3. The predicate of the minor premise is not contained 
in the subject of the major. 


The correctness of the major premise depends upon the 
correctness of the inductive reasoning upon which it is based. 
If there are non-acid substances that turn litmus paper red, 
the major premise is false as a result of hasty generalization. 

The correctness of the minor premise depends upon correct 
observation. If this substance does not actually redden 
litmus paper, or if there is another substance present with it 
to which the reddening may be due, the minor premise is 
either untrue or doubtful. 

The conclusion, you will note, contains the subject of the 
minor term and the predicate of the major. The syllogism 
may be expressed algebraically thus: 
A = B 
C = A 
/.C = B 

In algebraic language, the term A is common to both equa- 
tions; if A is eliminated, C = B. 

But A does not always equal B; the class A may be smaller 
than the class B. Thus we may make the major premise: 
All men are animals. 

But there are other animals besides men : A is included in B. 
Then if C is included in A, it must also be included in B, 
which includes all A and more. 

If, however, the class A is larger than B, the subject of 
the major premise becomes not all but some, thus: 

"All birds with red breasts are robins" is obviously un- 
true; humming birds, scarlet tanagers, and various other 
birds have red breasts. The following is therefore an in- 
correct syllogism: 

Some birds with red breasts are robins. 
This bird has a red breast. 
This bird is a robin. 

C is included in A, but, as A is greater than B, C may fall in 
that part of A which lies outside B. 

This is one of the commonest of the errors in reasoning. 


Another error, called " begging the question," is to assume 
in either premise the very thing that you are trying to prove. 
This fallacy, easily detected when reduced to a syllogism, 
is common in daily life. How often do we not hear a man 
or a cause judged because of certain acts and the next 
moment hear the character of the man or cause cited to 
prove the good or bad character of the acts. The com- 
monest form of this fallacy is the use of a term which really 
involves the point at issue: Women's Rights; Freedom of 
the Seas. 

When begging the question is pushed so far that each of 
two arguments is offered as proof of the other, the fallacy 
is called reasoning in a circle, thus: 

I. All the laws passed in our legislature this year are bad, 
because the legislature is notoriously incompetent. 

II. Our state legislature is thoroughly incompetent, as is 
shown by the bad laws passed this year. 

Many other fallacies in reasoning are classified by logicians, 
the discussion of which belongs to a course in argumentation. 
In the simple forms of reasoning which you will be required to 
undertake now, it is enough to remember the following hints : 

1. Make sure that both premises are correct; that is, that 
they are not untrue, and that they are known to be true and 
do not beg the question. 

2. In a series of two or more syllogisms, each of which 
uses the conclusion of the preceding as a premise, do not use 
the conclusion of the last as a premise of the first; that is, 
do not reason in a circle. 

3. Stick to the point. When a prosecuting attorney, in- 
stead of dwelling upon the evidence against the prisoner, 
emphasizes in detail the enormity of the crime, he is talking 
off the point in order to secure conviction. 

4. Do not change the meaning of a term. Make sure that 
there is no possible ambiguity in the meaning of the terms 
used. If you say that all charitable men love their fellows 


as themselves, and then that a man who throws a penny to a 
beggar is charitable, you have changed the meaning of the 
word charitable, and so invalidated your conclusion; the man 
who throws a penny to a beggar does not love his fellows as 

The chief value of the syllogism in argument is that by 
analyzing the process of thinking it shows clearly whether 
there is an error in the process and also whether the error is a 
matter of fact or of inference from facts. 


1. Express in syllogistic form the reasoning that underlies each 
of the following: 

(1) Mrs. Harrison is an intelligent woman. It is her duty to 

(2) Farrell does not need an income tax schedule. His income 
is only twelve hundred a year and he is married. 

(3) You ought to enlist. You are twenty-one. 

(4) We shall have pork and beans for dinner. It is Saturday, 
and we are New Englanders. 

(5) She cannot get more than fourteen hundred a year. She is 
a Government stenographer. 

(6) This flower must be a shooting star. It agrees exactly 
with the description of that species in my botany. 

(7) We have so many trunks that we are sure to have trouble 
at the customs. 

(8) This news is too good to be true. 

(9) That must be a Manx cat. It has no tail. 

(10) This is a very superficial book, as a careful reading of the 
table of contents will show. 

2. Point out the fallacies in the following, and explain where 
the trouble lies: 

(1) This is a first-rate automobile; it was made by the Getrich 
Quick Company, and they turn out no other kind. 

(2) He must be an honorable man. He supports his mother 
and sisters. 

(3) He is thoroughly truthful. I have never caught him in a lie. 

(4) That bird is a canary. Don't you see how yellow it is? 

(5) Of course he is a musician. Look at his hair. 


(6) Government ownership of public utilities will lead to social- 
ism because it will mean ownership of public utilities by the people. 

(7) He is the most popular author in existence, for he is the most 
popular author in the United States, and in the United States people 
read more than in any other country in the world. 

(8) This is an interesting book, because it is by H. G. Wells. 

(9) Hicks will be a great orator; he reasons better than any 
other man in the class. 

(10) We shall win every game next year. We have a new coach. 

(11) That civilization is a disease is proved by the number of 
doctors found among the civilized nations. Compare the savage 
races in this respect. 

(12) That must be a robin. Look at his red breast. 

(13) You can tell by merely looking at him that he's a genius. 

(14) You ought to take music lessons. Your hands are so flexible. 

(15) He must be an old soldier. He has only one leg. 

(16) Of course he says "these sort of." Isn't he English? 

(17) Do you notice how his hand shakes? He must drink. 

(18) You must study Greek if you wish to be cultured. 



In argument, inductive and deductive reasoning are used 
continually to support each other. For instance, inductive 
reasoning establishes from many observations the general 

All rattlesnakes are poisonous. 

You meet a snake which you take to be a rattlesnake, and 
in a flash you conclude that it will be poisonous; your thought 
process, of which you are unaware, is : 

All rattlesnakes are poisonous. 

This snake is a rattlesnake. 

This snake is poisonous. 

But how do you know that this snake is a rattlesnake? By 
another lightning-speed syllogism you reason: 

All snakes that make a certain peculiar sound are rattle- 


This snake made that peculiar sound. 
This snake is a rattlesnake. 
But may not some harmless snakes make the same sound? 

Observation has shown that 

Snake No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, etc., which made that peculiar 
sound, all had the other qualities that distinguish the rattle- 

Therefore we say, by inductive reasoning: 

All snakes that make that peculiar sound have the other 
qualities that distinguish rattlesnakes. 

The connection between the two processes is so close that 
unless we stop with the generalization based upon inductive 
reasoning, we are often scarcely aware that it stands between 
the particular cases in which we are interested. For instance, 
if our thoughts are put into words, the sound of a rattle will 
usually lead to : " There's a rattlesnake run ! " and we are not 
conscious of the whole process which has just been traced from 
particular to general and from general to particular again. 
But it is only by much practice in this kind of deliberate 
analysis that we learn to see errors in fact and inference 
fallacies due to faulty observation, hasty generalization, 
and wrong classification. 


1. Analyze the double process of reasoning involved in each of 
the following; and point out any fallacies that you discover: 

(1) This pear is very hard. I am afraid it is not ripe. 

(2) It will rain to-morrow. There's a mackerel sky. 

(3) I shall not study late the night before examination. I shall 
fail if I do. 

(4) I think that animal is a tapir. I read a description of one 
the other day. 

(5) This warm sunshine after rain will open the buds. 

(6) Washington must have loved country life or he wouldn't 
have built Mount Vernon. 

(7) This strike will fail. The men's families are starving. 


(8) Of course he's a grafter. You can see him hanging about 
the City Hall every day. 

(9) Yes, madam, this train stops at 60th Street. 

(10) Of course you will succeed, you have never failed yet. 

2. Collect from a newspaper ten statements which involve both 
inductive and deductive reasoning; and analyze them to see whether 
they are sound or involve fallacies. If fallacies are involved, 
analyze them also. 

3. Illustrate by as many examples as possible the statement: The 
heresy of to-day is the superstition of to-morrow. 

4. What reasons do you suppose led Columbus to believe that 
there was a continent across the ocean? After noting your reasons 
on cards, look up the reasons that he offered, and the objections 
that were raised to them. Why did he have so much difficulty in 
making people accept his conclusion? 


Argument by analogy proceeds on the theory that things 
which are alike in some respects will be alike in others. It 
commonly begins by observing a familiar thing in some rela- 
tion, and upon observation of a resemblance between the 
familiar thing and something unknown proceeds to the con- 
clusion that the unknown thing also will have the same rela- 
tion as the known which it resembles. Thus the ancients 
observed that the living butterfly emerges from the appar- 
ently dead chrysalis, and reasoned by analogy that in like 
manner the living soul of man would emerge from his dead 
body. A most elaborate argument of this kind is a book 
which made a stir in the nineteenth century,' Drummond's 
Natural Law in the Spiritual World. Clearly, natural law can 
never actually apply to spiritual things; but on the basis of 
a certain parallelism between natural and spiritual things, 
the argument became extremely plausible. 

In practical life, however, analogy is commonly used by 
the lazy or untrained thinker as a substitute for induction. 
The general method is to proceed from one particular to 
another, on the hypothesis that like causes produce like 


effects; hence to argue by analogy is to look for resemblances 
and to ignore differences. A farmer's wife reading a patent 
medicine advertisement reasons by analogy that what has 
cured another woman whose symptoms are said to resemble 
hers will cure her. This illustration shows the great weakness 
of analogy. The farmer's wife has only the most superficial 
knowledge of her disease; the real cause may be, and usually 
is, something that has no relation whatever to the patent 
medicine even if the medicine is good for anything. 

The chief use for this type of argument is for the projection 
of scientific hypotheses. Argument by analogy suggested 
that if a bird could fly, a machine could be built to fly; it 
suggested that as conditions for habitation have been ob- 
served on Mars, it is probable that Mars is inhabited; that as 
certain social conditions were the prelude to the fall of the 
Roman Empire, similar social conditions in any society will 
be followed by its destruction. 

The argument from analogy has never any validity un- 
less the resemblances between the familiar object and the 
unknown are due to the same cause. This cannot be definitely 
ascertained merely by the processes of analogical argument. 
But the human mind tends strongly to accept as parallel 
throughout two objects which present a large number of 
points of similarity. The chemist who reasons by analogy 
that an unknown sour substance will redden litmus is right 
because the same cause acidity exists in the unknown sub- 
stance as in a familiar acid; but the child who reasons that 
kerosene will put out fire because it resembles water in ap- 
pearance will have a sad awakening. 

In arguing by analogy, remember two things: (1) that it 
has no value as argument unless the resemblances that are 
perceived and those that are inferred are due to similar 
causes; and (2) that its chief value is to establish working 
hypotheses, and that these hypotheses should never in the 
course of argument be confused with facts. 



1. Show how the advertising agent reasons by analogy. 

2. Syllogize the reasoning by which a friend presses a remedy for 
cold upon you when you have a cold. 

3. State the reasoning by analogy under the following: "How can 
you read Don Quixote? It's such a stupid book. Try East Lynne 
that's true to life." 

4. Look up the argument of Menenius in Coriolanus I, 1, lOlff., 
in which he argues by analogy that the State is constructed on the 
same principles as the human body. Criticize the soundness of the 

5. Make a list of the arguments by analogy to be found in the 
parables of the New Testament; and discuss them. 

6. Write in about 100 words the use made of analogy by the 
astronomer who reasons that Mars is inhabited. 

7. Analyze the analogies in the following lines of reasoning, and 
show which are of value and which are useless for purposes of 

(1) True, the very poor do survive and grow; but so do potatoes 
in a dark cellar. 

(2) Robert Bruce, at the lowest ebb of his fortunes, was en- 
couraged to continue his fight against the English by watching a 
spider's efforts to build a web in the face of repeated failure. 

(3) There is an Anglo-Saxon story about a sparrow that flew into 
the firelit hall of a king, remained there a short time, and then flew 
away again, which was used as an analogy referring to the existence 
of the soul before and after this life. 

(4) "There is a tide in the affairs of men, 
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
Omitted, all the voyage of their life 

Is bound in shallows and in miseries." Shakespeare. 

(5) Crime is infectious. 

(6) Tennyson's Crossing the Bar. 

(7) Franklin's reasoning when he invented the lightning-rod. 

(8) Political graft is the cancer of our nation. 

(9) Our civilization will perish like "the glory that was Greece, 
and the grandeur that was Rome." 

(10) Women should go into politics; they will run the national 
housekeeping as effectively as they manage their own. 

8. Collect from the newspaper, or from conversation, or from 
any other source, half a dozen cases of argument by analogy that 


you think you can justify as useful; and as many that prove nothing 

9. Find instances in science where the use of analogy has led to 
the suggestion of valuable hypotheses. 
10. Explain and criticize the following arguments by analogy: 

"The flower will die but the atoms of which it is composed will 
not perish. There are poets as well as students who know that the 
atom is invisible and indestructible. The most thoroughgoing 
materialist is sure that death does not end all for the atom. There 
is no way in which you can end it. You may burn it with fire in 
your furnace, and with acid in your alembic. You may tear it 
asunder with electric contrivances, but it laughs in your face. Im- 
perishability is not of course immortality, but it suggests it." 

"Second. The relation of thought and brain. Is the disintegra- 
tion of the brain the annihilation of thought and consciousness? 
So the materialists have always asserted, but the brain may be only 
the medium by which thought is transmitted, as the wire is the 
medium which transmits your telegram. Destroy the wire and 
your thought may still be transmitted by wireless." 


In argument that is intended not merely to convince people 
of the truth of a proposition but to move them to act upon 
it, persuasion the appeal to the emotions is almost as 
important as conviction. In an argument to be presented 
before a popular audience, it is often more effective than the 
appeal to reason. 

The principle that underlies persuasion is that of getting 
and keeping the audience with you. This can be done in 
various ways by avoiding their known prejudices, by ap- 
pealing to their sense of humor or to their sense of pathos, 
by rousing personal interest in yourself, by awakening strong 
emotions and impulses to action, and so on. Success in per- 
suasion is not a matter of reasoning, but of understanding 
human nature. 

Aside from the unconsciously persuasive effect of dress, 
manner, gesture, voice, utterance, and personal magnetism 
the whole effect of which should give the audience an impres- 


sion of the speaker's competency, sincerity, earnestness, 
and fairmindedness there are certain qualities to be aimed 
at in the preparation of the argument itself which add to the 
persuasiveness of its appeal. These aims may be summed up 
as follows: 

1. The introduction should be so planned that the opening 
words will attract attention and rouse some emotion which 
will create an atmosphere of sympathy for the speaker and 
his argument. The commonest way of securing this attitude 
is by an amusing anecdote. This is a good way if the story 
is amusing, new, and really pertinent to the subject in hand. 
A detached and dragged-in anecdote does not deceive an 
intelligent audience. But there are other ways of setting 
the right emotional key in the beginning. One is to startle 
by some unexpected or amazing statement. Statistics may 
have the effect of rousing an audience. If, for instance, you 
wish to stir people to act against the patent medicine frauds, 
the fact that $400,000,000 was wasted by the country on 
worthless remedies in a single year might have a stimulating 
effect. Often a striking concrete illustration of the problem 
under discussion will have more effect than statistics; for 
instance, if you are arguing that charity impedes progress, 
you may overcome to some extent a natural prejudice against 
the phrasing of the subject by relating in detail the pauper- 
ization of a family through the well-intentioned but mistaken 
efforts of charitable organizations. A striking contrast may 
make a good beginning; if, for instance, you are arguing in 
favor of an inheritance tax, you may contrast the amounts 
contributed to the nation by the working-man and the mil- 
lionaire. However you begin, you must work for an imme- 
diate response; and the more prejudiced against your sub- 
ject you have reason to believe your hearers are, the more 
necessary it is to divert their thoughts from their prejudices 
into some emotional channel. 

2. In planning and composing your argument, you must 


never forget for a moment the kind of people who are to hear 
or to read it. There are many ways in which the same set of 
facts may be presented; and the choice should depend upon 
the ideas and ideals of the audience. By keeping your audi- 
ence in mind, you can avoid clashing with their principles 
and their prejudices, can draw your illustrations from 
forms of life that are familiar and interesting to them, can 
adapt your sentences and phrasing to their ways of speech, 
and can appeal to the kind of emotion by which you have 
reason to believe they will be moved. An audience of college 
men and an audience of miners, a New York audience and a 
New Orleans audience would respond to entirely different 
modes of appeal. It is only by a discriminating knowledge 
of human nature in its fundamentals its fixed ideas, its 
watchwords and its real motives, its weaknesses, its ca- 
pacities for enthusiasm, its admirations and its derisions, its 
sentimentalities and its types of humor that you can hope 
to control an audience as a skilful driver controls a horse. 
And this knowledge can be bought only at the price of end- 
less observation and introspection. But every man above 
the grade of a moron knows enough about his fellowmen and 
himself to make the tastes and temper of his audience prime 
considerations in preparing an argument. 

3. Phrase definitely to yourself what you wish your speech 
to accomplish, and recur to this aim whenever you can in 
the course of the argument. To be definite without antag- 
onizing, to be insistent without nagging, to reiterate without 
boring this is the way to convert argument into action; 
but so large a part of success depends upon the personality 
of the speaker and the mood of his audience that it is im- 
possible to give more detailed directions. Good-nature, tact, 
earnestness, and perfect simplicity all are assets that tend 
to secure results. 



1. Discuss the methods of persuasion that should be used in 
presenting the following subjects under the conditions stated: 

(1) Housing reform before an audience of poor people at a college 
settlement; before a city council; before a group of specialists in 
social science 

(2) Tariff reform before a Democratic audience; before a Repub- 
lican audience 

(3) The problem of the unemployed at a meeting of hoboes; be- 
fore the committee of a legislative body 

(4) Women's suffrage at a mass meeting of women; before a 
committee of the Senate 

(5) Vocational training at a meeting of an employers' association ; 
at an educational meeting; at a meeting of representatives of labor 

(G) A political speech advocating the election of a certain can- 
didate, before a mixed audience; before an audience of ardent sup- 
porters of the candidate 

(7) The objections to college fraternities before an audience 
composed entirely of fraternity men; before a mixed audience 

(8) The curse of wealth a sermon before a wealthy congregation 

(9) The defense of a prisoner against whom there is strong public 

(10) The prosecution of a prisoner who is supported by public 

2. Think of some public speaker whom you have heard and ad- 
mire, and make notes from memory of the methods of persuasion 
that he uses. If you have opportunity, hear him again, and make 
your notes immediately afterward. Discuss these notes in class, 
and make a summary of the most effective uses of persuasion. 


Every formal argument consists of three distinctly dif- 
ferent parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. 

I. The Introduction states and expounds the proposition 
to be proved, and gives the history of it and the reasons for 
discussing it now, if these are to be given at all, and the state- 
ment of the main issues of the argument. The issues are the 
assertions upon which choice of sides in the argument de- 


pends. You may read or think over a great mass of ideas 
associated with a certain problem for instance, your ca- 
reer and finally, by a process of gradual elimination, you 
may say to yourself: "I think that I ought to go in for pol- 
itics when I have taken my degree for 

1. A democracy can be made a success only when its 
government is in the hands of experts; 

2. Only college-bred men can be experts in government; 

3. Few college-bred men seem to be awake to then* op- 
portunity in this direction; 

4. As far as I can measure my own abilities, they point to 
public work of this kind as that for which I am fitted." 

In this way you sift out the relevant material from the 
irrelevant, you distinguish the important from the less im- 
portant, and you see the chief points that coordinate to 
support your view. These are the main issues. 

It is of the utmost importance that in the Introduction 
the precise point on which the argument turns should be 
exactly stated and its terms exactly defined whenever there 
is any possibility of misunderstanding. All general terms, 
especially such as socialism, charity, honor, religion, democ- 
racy should be clearly defined before any argument deals 
with them. 

The Introduction of an argument is expository in character, 
except in so far as the element of persuasion may be present. 

II. The Body of the argument contains all the proof, and 
consists of an orderly arrangement of the evidence in support 
of the proposition, so outlined that each main assertion sup- 
ports the conclusion and is in turn supported by one or more 
subordinate assertions, the process being continued until it 
is evident that the whole structure rests upon a solid founda- 
tion of facts. 

III. The Conclusion repeats the proposition in terms of its 
main issues, and sums up the proofs that have been offered 
in support of each. 


Before attempting to write a formal argument, you should 
outline the whole process of your thought according to a 
special form of outline which is technically called the brief. 

The brief is a device for securing perfect clearness of rela- 
tionship in constructing an argument. It is simply a detailed 
plan of the thought, and should state as concisely as possible 
every point made. For convenience in presenting and in 
refuting arguments it has been generally agreed that briefs 
shall be constructed according to very definite rules, of 
which the following are the most important: 

1. It should include the three main divisions of the argu- 
ment: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. 

2. It should be divided into heads and subheads, marked 
by the same symbols as those used in the ordinary outline. 
See below. 

3. The Introduction should outline the main issues of the 
proposition, which should appear as the main heads under 
the proof and be restated, together with a summary of the 
proof offered, in the Conclusion. 

4. Each head should be phrased as a complete statement. 

5. Each head should make only one assertion. 

6. In the proof, each head should support the head to 
which it is subordinated. This relationship is sometimes in- 
dicated by inserting the word because or for at the end of 
every head that calls for proof. It is then possible to see at a 
glance whether or not the subordinate head gives or does not 
give the reason on which the head to which it is subordinated 
depends for its weight. But when this relationship is not 
expressed, it should be unmistakable. 

You may use the following type of brief as a model : 
A progressive inheritance tax should be adopted by the Federal 
Government as a permanent means of revenue. 

I. The Federal Government needs a large increase of revenue 

A. There is even now always a deficit 

B. Our expenses in the future will be much greater than 



1. We must meet heavy war expenses 

2. We must develop our foreign trade 

3. We must develop our merchant marine to pro- 

mote this trade 

4. We must expend more on the development and 

conservation of our natural resources 

II. The present sources of Federal revenue cannot be relied upon 
to provide the increase necessary 

A. The tariff cannot supply the increase 

1. It is dependent upon politics 

2. It cannot be adjusted on the basis of revenue 


3. It is not naturally progressive and cannot be 

made so 

B. Internal revenue cannot supply the increase 

1. The liquor tax has dwindled to an insignificant 


2. A tax on business papers would both bring in 

little and, except in great crises, be obnoxious 
to the people 

3. A tax on tea and coffee would be objectionable 

a. It is a tax on quasi-necessaries of life 

b. It would be disproportionately heavy on the 


C. The income tax cannot supply the increase 

1. The rates cannot be raised high enough to pro- 

vide the sums necessary 

2. The exemptions cannot be lowered enough to 

provide them 

III. No other forms of taxation that will produce large revenues 

are available except the tax on inheritances 
[Not developed] 

IV. The inheritance tax is satisfactory 

A. It is adequate 

1. A moderate tax on present inheritances would 

produce large revenues 

2. As the wealth of the country increases, the rev- 

enue would increase automatically 

B. It would not harm the states 

[Not developed] 

C. It fulfills all the canons of a good tax 

1. It is easily and justly assessable 


2. It is easy to collect 

3. It is stable 

4. It is easily calculable in advance 

V. It can be made an instrument to relieve undue congestion 
of wealth in single hands 
[Not developed] 

The Refutation is that part of an argument which is de- 
voted to answering the arguments of the opposite side. 
In formal debating this has its definite position in the pro- 
gram, and the preparation for the effective refutation of 
one's opponents is one of the most important parts of the 
general preparation of the debaters; for an attack from an 
unexpected point of vantage or with unforeseen arguments 
or ammunition might prove disastrous. The subject of de- 
bating, however, does not belong to this book, and details 
of procedure must be left for special treatises on the subject. 
In arguments of a less formal character, refutation, while not 
assigned a fixed position in the plan or outline, is neverthe- 
less often of the highest importance. Even when there is no 
definite opponent to present the arguments of the other side, 
those arguments are sometimes so generally known or be- 
lieved to be convincing that one is obliged to take account of 
them. Sometimes it is best to break the force of these ar- 
guments before proceeding to set forth one's own views and 
reasons; sometimes it is best to leave them untouched until 
one has built up a strong presumption in favor of the views 
one is presenting. Sometimes adroit speakers and writers 
gain a temporary success by dismissing the arguments of 
opponents as trifling or out of date or sufficiently refuted by 
others; but this is not often either honest or safe. 


1. Draw a brief in correct form for the affirmative or the neg- 
ative whichever you believe of each of the following propositions : 

(1) Secret societies should be abolished from high schools. 

(2) Public libraries, museums, and art galleries should be open 
on Sunday. 


(3) Admission to college should be by examination only. 

(4) Labor Unions are against the real interests of the working- 

(5) Professional training should be preceded by two years of 
college work. 

(6) There should be an educational test for voters. 

(7) Free public employment bureaus should be established in 
each state. 

(8) The president of the United States should be elected for one 
term only, but of six years' duration. 

(9) The United States should establish old age pensions. 

(10) All text-books used in the grammar schools should be fur- 
nished by the state. 


THE dictionary defines words, but it tells very little about 
their values in speech or hi writing. Their values depend 
upon the company they keep their association with ideas, 
on the one hand, and on the other, with then* neighbors in 
the sentence. 

With the exception of connectives and interjections, all 
words either present ideas or modify them. Ideas are de- 
rived either directly or indirectly from impressions made 
upon the mind by the external world of things and their 
qualities and relationships. We begin with the observation 
of things and learn to identify them by their qualities; but 
at the same time we learn to differentiate them from other 
things, and we are engaged in a continual process of compar- 
ing the ideas derived from things with a view to establishing 
relationships of likeness and difference among them. In all 
these processes and by reason of them, words are born and 
grow and die. 

New words are born every day; or rather, new ideas are 
born with every discovery, every invention, every new mode 
of thought, and new words are found to christen them. 
Radium, pragmatism, hydroplane are twentieth century words; 
camouflage was born since the War began. Almost every 
issue of a big newspaper contains one or more new words. 
The rate at which new words are created depends upon the 
mental activity of a nation. The War has enormously en- 
riched our vocabulary. 

Words come into existence because there is need of them 
to express an idea. If the idea is soon forgotten, or if the 


word is so badly formed as to be a caricature, the word is 
short-lived. Enthuse has struggled hard for existence because 
there is real need to express its idea; but the word itself is 
so misshapen that the world is apparently leaving it to die. 

A good, natural word, however, whether it is created by 
scholars or comes up, no one knows how, among the people, 
will have a healthy life as long as the idea which it represents 
is in existence, and as long as no better word for the same 
idea fights and overcomes it. Numberless words have lived 
and died and been forgotten in these ways; and there are 
still many decrepit words that have survived from the 
Middle Ages which we now understand dimly if at all. For 
instance, we know that a jupon was a sort of mediaeval 
sweater, but opinions differ as to whether it was worn over 
or under the coat-of-mail. " Grow-green as the grass " what 
does it mean? We can only guess. 

But in the course of their lives words grow and change in 
meaning until in many cases we can scarcely see that "the 
child is father to the man." The word handkerchief even has 
a second childhood. A kerchief was a cover-head (chief we 
still use figuratively as head)', a handkerchief was a head- 
cover carried in the hand; and now again, in countries where 
negro women wear head-coverings, they use handkerchiefs 
for the purpose. 

Many words begin life as figures of speech, particularly 
the figures synecdoche, metonymy, and metaphor. 

SYNECDOCHE involves a transfer to one idea of a word ap- 
plied originally to another related to it, as: 

Genus for species: gun for pistol or cannon; 

Species for genus: vendetta for feud; jitney (jocosely) for 
any automobile; 

Singular for plural: horse for cavalry horsemen; 

Part for the whole: roof meaning house; 

Whole for the part : New York for the financiers of Wall 


Common noun for proper: The Narrows a particular 

Proper noun for common: Academy = & grove near Athens 
where philosophers met for discussion; now a kind of school, 
and also an association of learned men. 

METONYMY also leads to the substitution of a word that 
expresses a related idea, as: 

Effect for cause: disease = dis-ease, lack of ease, for which 
illness is the cause; 

Cause for effect: style, effect of writing with a style-pen; 

Container for contents: bottle, as in "He loves the 

Material for the thing made of it: household linen, for 
sheets, tablecloths, etc.; 

Place name for a product made at the place: arras, china, 

Name of person for something first associated with him: 
mackintosh, boycott, volt, ampere, galvanize, roquelaure; 

Abstract for concrete: royalty for king; honor for mayor; 

Concrete for abstract: the Church (the organization); the 
Stage (the profession of acting) ; 

Symbol for idea symbolized: Cross for Christianity; 

Physical organ for quality or faculty associated with it: 
kind heart; weak brain. 

METAPHOR is the process by which two apparently different 
things are identified because of some principle of likeness dis- 
covered in them, as: 

Two concrete things : leg of a table, wing of a building, eye 
of a needle; 

Some moral or intellectual idea and a material thing: 
balance of trade; He is thin-skinned meaning sensitive; in 
hazard meaning originally a certain space in the game of 

Now each of these transferences extends the meaning of 
a word ; and this extension takes place according to two very 


different processes, which are, however, usually found working 

The first is called radiation, that is, spreading from a com- 
mon center. In this process the original meaning is not 
forgotten; it is simply applied to one thing after another. For 
instance, the word cross has many meanings to-day which 
are built upon the common idea of one thing crossing another. 

The other process is called concatenation, or chaining to- 
gether. In this, the word loses its original meaning when it 
has passed on to the second; its second when it attains a 
third, and so on. For instance, the original idea of cross 
two pieces of wood crossed has been lost in cross meaning 
a burden. Again, the word pioneer meant originally foot- 
soldier; and even in Shakespeare's time it meant military 
engineer; this meaning has been entirely lost in the sense 
" one who opens up new country, or, figuratively, new lines 
of thought." 

These two processes working together have the most ex- 
traordinary effects upon the history of words. From genera- 
tion to generation we find words going up and down in life, 
becoming aristocratic or vulgar, unexceptionable or disrep- 
utable. The word genteel, once a compliment, is now almost 
an insult. Churl, villain, and boor, all originally meant merely 
countrymen. A knave was simply a boy; a caitiff was a prisoner 
of war; a rascal, a lean deer. On the other hand, many 
scientific terms, particularly physiological, which would 
have been unmentionable in Queen Victoria's time, are now 
commonplaces. Mr. Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion is an amus- 
ing comedy built up about the indiscreet utterance of a word 
of obscure origin which has always been taboo in British 
society, because it is commonly used in swearing by the most 
vulgar people, although no one knows clearly its origin or 
its present meaning. 

Although the English language possesses more than 
400,000 words, it would be impossible to find two that are 


exactly the same in value, however near they may approach 
each other in meaning. They may descend from the same 
ancestor as sure, secure; fragile, frail; dignity, dainty; curb, 
curve; tavern, tabernacle; but they have grown so far apart 
that they no longer have the same meanings. 

They may have different ancestors, and yet seem at first 
glance identical in meaning, as assure, affirm, certify, aver, 
asseverate, protest; but a little work with the dictionary shows 
that each has its own place and its own associates. 

They may seem to be derived from equivalent ancestors in 
different languages; but when you put them together, their 
meanings are seen to be wide apart, thus: wretch and miser; 
fight and debate; nightly and nocturnal; run across and occur; 
solar and sunny; town and villa. 

The good writer cultivates words and cherishes them; he 
knows that he cannot have too many. He may at any mo- 
ment need one more than he has. Barrie in his Sentimental 
Tommy tells how Tommy who was to become a literary 
genius lost a prize for a composition because he failed to 
finish his paper; and he failed to finish his paper because he 
stopped to find the only word for "a certain considerable 
number of people." Afterward it came to him: a hantle of 

The most important source of words for a writer is his 
own life. If you would write well, you must establish a 
vital connection between what you say and how you live. 
Your words must grow out of the technique of your trade, 
the terms of your profession, the natural features of your 
environment, the idiom of your neighbors, the intimacies of 
your home life, the idiosyncrasies of your temperament. 
All your figures of speech, for example, if they are drawn from 
these sources, will have the force that firsthand association 
with the thing itself always gives to language. If you try 
to get away from the reality of your own experience, on the 
ground that it is commonplace not "literary" enough 


you immediately deal with things at secondhand and be- 
come less effective. 

No experience, however, is sufficient to acquaint you with 
more than a small part of the words that you must use. Con- 
sequently, you must supplement from the experience of 
others as you hear it told by the people whom you meet, and 
as you read it in books. From the people whom you meet 
you will get both good and bad, in so far as they vary in 
their control over language; but from books, if you choose 
to read only such as are written with full realization of the 
value of words, you will get nothing but good. Wide and 
critical reading of such books not only introduces you con- 
tinually to new words out of your own range, but reveals 
all sorts of unsuspected meanings in single words, and values 
due to the association of words in phrasing. 

Now if you attempt on the basis of reading alone to use 
these words yourself, you will be doing the very thing that 
leads to false fine writing; you will be using words that to 
you are purely literary. To avoid doing this, you must make 
them your own before you attempt to use them. This you 
can do in two ways: (1) by studying them not merely 
looking them up in a good dictionary, until you feel that, 
you know their implications and suggestive value; and (2) by 
adopting them into your own family of familiar words and 
trying them out seeing how they get along together. In 
this way you will assimilate one after another until your 
range may grow from a thousand, more or less, up to four 
or five thousand. This is small enough in view of the enor- 
mous number of words at our disposal. 

To give your words the power of stimulating the mental 
processes of others as your own processes have been stim- 
ulated by what you are trying to express, you must, naturally, 
find in each instance, the word that will most perfectly sug- 
gest your impression or idea. Your first step must be to de- 
fine to yourself as sharply as possible your idea and impres- 


sion; and this definition comes only in the process of running 
over a list of words that almost serve the purpose until with 
a flash of recognition you pounce upon the right one. The 
difficulty with most people lies not in being unable to 
recognize what they want, so much as in being too lim- 
ited in vocabulary for the word to come without much 
questing, and in not taking time and trouble to push the 
search to the end. They say "a number" instead of "a 

Suppose, for example, you wish to describe a light. The 
happy-go-lucky writer will say "a bright light," which may 
come from the moon, a conflagration, a street lamp, an auto- 
mobile. As you look at it, you try to define its quality to 
yourself. Is it glittering? glimmering? glowing? flaming? 
glaring? fiery? blazing? luminous? lustrous? gleaming? daz- 
zling? flickering? blinding? brilliant? glistening? shining? 
burning? radiant? glistering? yellow? sulphurous? sparkling? 
Can you extend the list? 

Again, what is the light? A glow? a glimmer? a gleam? a 
ray? a shaft? a brilliancy? a radiance? a sheen? a fire? a con- 
flagration? a blaze? a flare? a glitter? a flame? a luster? 
Can you extend this list? 

When Poe wished to use light in accumulating the horrors 
in The Pit and the Pendulum, he defined the glimmer in the 
dungeon as a "sulphurous luster." Compare the impression 
that it gives you with that which you derive from "mellow 
radiance"; "luminous glow," or any other combination of 
the listed nouns and adjectives. 

In the opening to Under the Greenwood Tree, Hardy dis- 
tinguishes the sounds of four different trees thus : 

To dwellers in a wood almost every species of tree has its voice as 
well as its feature. At the passing of the breeze the fir-trees moan 
and sob no less than they rock; the holly whistles as it battles with 
itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its 
flat boughs rise and fall. 


So for every impression and every idea clear-cut thinking 
and careful search reveal the right word. 

In bad company, however, the effect of the right word is 
lost; that is, phrasing is all-important. The literal sum of 
two words is always two; but their suggestive value may be 
two, or twenty, or a hundred. Take, for instance, Kipling's 
phrasing used to describe the beginning of a flood : 

In the silence, men heard the dry yawn of water crawling over 
thirsty sand. 

Every word in the sentence is common, even commonplace; 
but taken together, they make us feel both the drought that 
preceded the flood, and the low noise that the Ganges made 
as it slowly crawled up the banks like one of its own croc- 

The gift of combining common words into a group which 
is not the sum total of so many words, but the source of a 
vigorous and striking unified impression different from the 
mere sum of the meanings of the simple words, varies widely 
in writers. While phrasing is not altogether a talent that can 
be acquired, the effort to find fresh and true word combina- 
tions for every idea leads in time to considerable power of 

The first rule for phrases is: Make your own. 

The second is: Make them out of your own experience. 

The third is: Focus your attention on the idea; and the 
words will come. Never use words because they come easily, 
or look well, or sound well; but only because they absolutely 
fit your idea. 

Particularly to be avoided are the worn-out phrases with 
which the speech of half -educated people is crowded. They 
do not trust their own efforts in phrase-making, but use 
phrases which they have heard on the lips of others. Many 
of these phrases come from much-admired and frequently- 
quoted poetry; others are proverbial. But however they 
arise, as soon as they become current coin of speech, they 


grow worn and dull. The use of them is fatal to good writing 
because they induce laziness in attempting to take over, 
ready-made, what should be expressed for one's self. 

It is a good plan, when you are in doubt about a phrase 
that sounds familiar, to look it up in Bartlett's Familiar Quo- 
tations. If you find it, throw it away and make one of your 
own. You will find in Appendix VIII, 388, a list of some 
some of the commonest abuses of this kind; but they are legion. 

In effective phrasing, figures are of great service, provided 
that they are not ornamental, but structural; that is, pro- 
vided that your thought grows figurative without conscious 
effort. If a figure is deliberately added as an afterthought, 
it is almost sure to be an excrescence. If it is right, you will 
find it in the sentence before you are aware. Moreover, the 
chances are that it will be (1) a short metaphor, (2) a short 
simile (expressed comparison introduced by like or as), 
(3) metonymy, or (4) onomatopreia (expression of sense by 
sound, as purr, rustle, gibber, clang). 

Again, you will find, if your figure has come naturally, that 
it is closely associated with your life-experience, very, of ten 
with universal experience. The following figures are inter- 
esting partly because of their freshness and partly because 
of their appeal to common experience: 

One moment you'd see a block of houses. The next thing there 
was a new street down the middle of them. A shell had cut it clean 
out. Then the next shell would strip a series of roofs and send them 
flying like papers in a storm. The next again would buckle all the 
gables together like a concertina. John C. McElween. 

Remember that it is better to use too few figures than too 
many, and that mixed figures make many a serious passage 
absurd. They are often used for humorous effect as, for in- 
stance, in the following sentence from O. Henry: 

Let me tell you first about these barnacles that clog the wheels of 
society by poisoning the springs of rectitude with their upas-like 
eye. . . . 


If you try to image each phase of this sentence, you will see 
its absurdity at once. Guard against mixing your figures 
except for such a purpose as this. 

You have already studied some ways of securing economy 
in the sentence. As a rule, it is safe to let a single word do 
all the work it can. Do not use an adverb if a verb can be 
made to contain the idea of the adverb as well: rushed is 
stronger than ran swiftly; leaves flickered is more delicate 
than leaves moved a little. So, also, if the noun can be made 
to express or imply the meaning of the adjective, it should 
do so, and the adjective be reserved for cases of real modifica- 
tion: green grass is no better than grass; but in emerald grass, 
sodden grass, rusty-brown grass, the adjective is of real use. 
In general, the tendency to-day, is to lean heavily upon the 
verb of action in its various forms for imagery as well as for 
predication. The effect of this is that our writing is more 
dynamic than that of a generation ago. Our pictures move 
even when the subjects are nearly static, as in this bit from 

Clouds coursed over the sky in great masses : the full moon battled 
the other way, and lit up the snow with gleams of flying silver; the 
town came dawn the hill in a cascade of brown gables, bestridden by 
smooth white roofs, and spangled here and there with lighted win- 

The work of Conrad and of Kipling is also full of this dynamic 
quality; see the passages quoted on pp. 58, 65, 186. 

And finally, if the requirements of meaning are satisfied by 
more than one word, choice will be determined by the rhythm 
and sound of the sentence and of the paragraph, which will 
establish the Tightness of a long word or a short word, of a 
Latin word or a word from Anglo-Saxon, of a word heavy 
with consonants or purely vocalic. The habit of reading 
aloud and listening as you read is the best single aid to judg- 
ment in such a case, particularly if the ear has been trained 
by practice in reading aloud the work of good writers. 


By way of practice in observing how the sound of words 
helps to determine choice, read aloud several times the fol- 
lowing extract from Walter Pater, which while it is written 
on this very subject, also exemplifies admirably the theory 
that it presents. Try substituting synonyms for various 
words, and see what happens to your prose: 

The one word for the one thing, the one thought amid the multi- 
tude of words, terms, that might just do: the problem of style was 
there! the unique word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, essay, or 
song, absolutely proper to the single mental presentation or vision 
within. In that perfect justice, over and above the many contingent 
and removable beauties with which beautiful style may charm us, 
but which it can exist without, independent of them yet dexterously 
availing itself of them, omnipresent in good work, in function at 
every point, from single epithets to the rhythm of a whole book, 
lay the specific, indispensable, very intellectual beauty of literature, 
the possibility of which constitutes it a fine art. 

For further practice of this kind, the following prose is 
suggested: Pater's The Child intheHouse^uskin's descrip- 
tion of St. Mark's from The Stones of Venice; Matthew Ar- 
nold's Sweetness and Light, from Culture and Anarchy. You 
will find them in Manly 's English Prose and Poetry, and also 
or passages very similar in all the chief collections of Eng- 
lish prose. 

If you are interested in the history of words, the following 
books will prove good reading: 

Greenough, J. B., and Kittredge, G. L., Words and their 
Ways in English Speech. 

Bradley, Henry, The Making of English. 

Jespersen, Otto, The Structure and Growth of the English 

Darmesteter, J., The Life of Words. 


1. Test your range of color distinctions by listing all the shades 
of green that you can think of; of red; of purple; of yellow; of blue; 
of black; of white. While you are doing this, note and bring to 


class for discussion any passages in which you observe particular 
accuracy and suggestiveness in the use of color words. 

2. Find things to which each of the following adjectives may be 
suitably applied: big, large, tall, high, huge, immense, bulky, enor- 
mous, gigantic, titanic, colossal, and any other words denoting size 
that occur to you. 

3. What image, if any, presents itself to you with each of the 
following words: slimy; matted; flabby; flimsy; gritty; moist; furry; 
musty; scraggy? 

4. Make as long a list as you can of onomatopoetic words, such 
as squash, squelch, etc. Quote any passages that you find in which 
they are used effectively. 

5. With a dictionary establish a connection between the following 
groups of words: sole, solitary, sullen; thrill, nostril; pathos, passion, 
passive; hussy, husband. 

6. Write a 300-word paper on the origin of names of furniture; or 
of articles of dress; or of precious stones; or of vehicles; or on words 
that have come down in the world. 

7. Find the Anglo-Saxon equivalent for each of the following 
words and explain the differences in value: vivacious; identical; 
edifice; annihilate; rigid; eccentric; emaciated; corpulent; endeavor; 
commence; fragment; mendacious; acute; drama; instruct; vera- 
cious; transgression; tribulation; prevarication; reticulation; mor- 
bid; osseous. 

8. Explain the origin of the figures in the following: bias; bowl 
over; parry; thrust; fence; hazard; crestfallen; bandy; run counter; 
lose track of; hit or miss; within an ace of; disaster; aspect; pre- 
dominant; influence; humorous. 

9. Write a paper of 300 words on common words derived from 
names. You may use the following to begin with; extend the list 
as much as you can: cereal; phaeton; epicurean; stoical; sardonic; 
tantalize; cyclopean; jovial; mercurial; hector; saturnine; colossal. 

10. Study the following quotations for their suggestive phrasing; 
use the dictionary for the italicized words, and analyze with special 
care the italicized phrases: 

"There is one day when all things are tired, and the very smells, 
as they drift on the heavy air, are old and used. One cannot ex- 
plain this, but it feels so. Then there is another day to the eye 
nothing whatever has changed when all the smells are new and 
delightful, and the whiskers of the Jungle People quiver to their 
roots, and winter hair comes away from their sides in long, draggled 
locks. Then perhaps a little rain falls, and all the trees and the 


bushes and the bamboos and the mosses and the juicy-leaved plants 
wake with a noise of growing that you can almost hear, and under 
this noise runs, day and night, a deep hum. That is the noise of 
the spring a vibrating boom which is neither bees nor falling 
water, nor the wind in the tree-tops, but the purring of the warm, 
happy world" Kipling. 

"The cemetery of St. John had taken its own share of the snow. 
All the graves were decently covered; tall white housetops stood 
around in grave array; worthy burghers were long ago in bed, 
benightcapped like their domiciles; there was no light in all the 
neighborhood but a little peep from a lamp that hung swinging in 
the church choir, and tossed the shadows to and fro in time to its 
oscillations. The clock was hard on ten when the patrol went by 
with halberds and a lantern, beating their hands; and they saw 
nothing suspicious about the cemetery of St. John." Stevenson. 

"A great silent bird, with soft brown plumage, whirred across 
our path, pausing an instant as though to peep, then disappearing 
with a muted sound into an eddy of the wind it made. The big 
trees hid it. It was an owl. The same moment I heard a rush of 
liquid song come pouring through the forest with a gush of almost 
human notes, and a pair of glossy wings flashed past us, swerving 
upwards to find the open sky blue-black, pointed wings" 

Algernon Blackwood. 

"Houses frowning, machiolated and sombre, or gay and golden- 
white with cool green jalousies and spreading eaves, stretch before 
you through mellow air to a distance where they melt into hills, 
and hills into sky; into sky so clear and rarely blue, so virgin pale 
at the horizon, that the hills sleep brown upon it under the sun, 
and the cypresses, nodding a-row, seem funeral weeds beside that 
radiant purity. Some such adorable stretch of tilth and pasture, 
sky and cloud, hangs like a god's crown beyond the city and her 
towers. In the long autumn twilight Fiesole and the hills lie soft 
and purple below a pale green sky. There is a pause at this time 
when the air seems washed for sleep every shrub, every feature 
of the landscape is cut clean as with a blade. The light dies, the 
air deepens to wet violet, and the glimpses of the hill-town gleam 
like snow." Maurice Hewlett. 


IMAGINATION is constructive power in life as well as in art. 
It evolves theories, paints pictures, shapes statues, builds 
houses, invents machines, writes books, creates big business, 
and brings harmony and vitality into the daily routine of 
living. It works among the common things by which men 
have always been surrounded and out of them makes some- 
thing new which helps them to a wider view and a deeper 
understanding of life. Without imagination there could be 
no progress, because without imagination men could not 

In regard to imagination there are several facts which 
are not always understood. For one thing, it is intimately 
associated with personality, and varies in every individual. 
The painter, for example, creates on the basis of what his 
eyes show him; the musician, on the basis of what he hears. 
As the inventor and the theorist have, so to speak, imagina- 
tion of the reason, so the business man has imagination of 
the practical sense. Again, imagination, unlike fancy 
which has the Munchausen habit of heaping up absurdities 
or unrealities for the mere pleasure of the process builds 
with its foundations on truth; it always bears a definite and 
recognizable, though variable, relationship to reality. Like a 
mason or a mechanic, it builds in accordance with its own 
laws. And finally, it is not the endowment of the few only 
whose names are remembered for great works; but it is 
shared by millions who make little or no use of it, partly 
because they are unaware that they have it, and partly 
because they lack the technique which is necessary for its 


expression. It is probable that every normal mind has 
imagination enough to achieve more than it even dreams of 

However, it is not with the development of imagination 
in practical life that we are here concerned; our problem is 
to show how it manifests itself in writing, and in so doing to 
suggest how it may be cultivated. 

When Lewis Carroll wrote Through the Looking-Glass, he 
began with the idea of reversing life as writing is reversed 
when seen in a mirror. When Alice jumps into the glass, she 
arrives in a land where she floats as she tries to go downstairs, 
has to run hard in order to stand still, eats dry biscuit to 
quench thirst, and walks away from the thing that she tries 
to reach. So far Carroll deals imaginatively with life by 
merely reversing its usual laws. When he introduces his 
nonsense such as, for example, "The Walrus and the Car- 
penter" and the "Jabberwock" he breaks away from life 
altogether, and lets his fancy play as it will. In literature 
imagination is the re-creation of life according to definite 
laws; fancy is the creation of a semblance of life according to 
no law but that of mere whim or chance association. 

The working of law in imaginative writing is seen carried 
out in astonishing detail in Swift's Gulliver's Travels. In the 
Voyage to Lilliput, his principle was to show the pettiness 
of mankind by representing men one-twelfth the size of the 
human race. To do this, he was forced to work out a most 
elaborate reduction in scale in all aspects of life. Joints of 
meat were "smaller than the wings of a lark"; Gulliver ate 
two and three at a mouthful, and three loaves of bread at a 
time. The largest man-of-war was nine feet long, and the 
tallest temple was "at least five feet high." The Emperor 
was taller by almost the breadth of Gulliver's nail than any 
of his Court; and Gulliver could pick up six Lilliputians at 
once in his hand. 

Then Swift reverses the process, and shows how big Gul- 


liver looked to the Lilliputians. His handkerchief was large 
enough to be a rug in a room of state; his snuffbox was a 
"huge silver chest" into which one of the Lilliputians stepped 
knee-deep in snuff; his comb was "a sort of engine, from the 
back of which were extended twenty long poles, resembling 
the palisadoes" at the Lilliputian Court; his watch "made 
an incessant noise, like that of a water-mill," and so on. 

As a natural pendant to the Lilliput story Swift in- 
vented Gulliver's adventures in Brobdingnag, where the 
people are sixty feet, instead of six inches, in height. When 
Gulliver sees a Brodingnagian coming toward him "ten yards 
at every stride," he utters a reflection in which appears 
Swift's purpose underlying these changes in the human 

In this terrible agitation of mind I could not forbear thinking of 
Lilliput, whose inhabitants looked upon me as the greatest prodigy 
that ever appeared in the world; where I was able to draw an im- 
perial fleet in my hand, and perform those other actions which will 
be recorded forever in the chronicles of that empire, while posterity 
shall hardly believe them, although attested by millions. I reflected 
what a mortification it must prove to me to appear as inconsiderable 
in this nation as one single Lilliputian would be among us. 

This means, of course, that we have no standard by which to 
measure the absolute value of any aspect of human life. 

As the story proceeds, we read that the Brobdingnagians 
regard Gulliver at first as if he were "a small dangerous 
animal," and that his gold coins are almost invisibly small. 
At the farmhouse, Gulliver walking across the dinner table 
stumbles against a crust and falls flat; he lives in fear of a cat 
which purrs with a sound as great as " that of a dozen stocking 
weavers at work," and of the farm dogs, one of which is 
"equal in bulk to four elephants"; he narrowly escapes 
having his head bitten off by the baby; and he has a fierce 
encounter with two rats as large as mastiffs. 

In all this elaboration of life according to different scales, 
Swift had an avowed purpose, which was to "help a philos- 


opher to enlarge his thoughts and imagination, and apply 
them to the benefit of public as well as private life." 

In other words, Swift applies his imagination with almost 
mathematical precision first to the reduction and then to 
the exaggeration of life as if it were seen first through a 
reversed telescope and then through a microscope in order 
to stir men to ponder upon its values. 

Both the Gulliver and the Alice books are in a sense 
freakish products of the imagination; but both are made to 
grow from a solid foundation of experience: Alice gets away 
from reality through dreams, and Gulliver by wandering in 
parts of the world about which in Swift's time little was 
known. So Samuel Butler, only about fifty years ago, was 
able to place Erehwon (Nowhere) where modern ideas of 
civilization are reversed on the other side of a high moun- 
tain ridge on an island in Australasia; W. H. Hudson, in 
Green Mansions, was able to imagine a bird woman as living 
near the unexplored sources of the Orinoco; and Algernon 
Blackwood, in this present century, uses psychology as a 
basis for as wild ghost stories as ever were written. 

Imagination builds always upon fact; very often when it 
is most successful, upon the commonplaces of life. But it 
immediately proceeds to combine these into new patterns 
which bear the imprint of their creator's personality. And 
this it is which distinguishes the work of imagination from 
the realistic and impersonal representation of things as they 
seem to the majority of people. The difference may be 
likened to that between a portrait by a master in which his 
own personality is as clearly visible to the seeing eye as the 
personality of the subject, and a photograph from which the 
personal element, to which the new pattern is due, is largely 
eliminated, though even here it shows to some extent in the 
management of light and shade, composition, pose, choice 
of details, and so on. 

This constructive work of imagination in the light of per- 


sonality begins in childhood; it shows in the childish desire 
to "make something" some vague creation out of tinsel 
and tissue paper and bits of colored wool; in the invention of 
games; in the laying out of childish gardens and houses. In 
some children it even goes so far as to invent, name, and 
endow with all sorts of characteristics, imaginary playmates. 
One of the defects of our educational system today is that 
it tends to suppress rather than to develop this innate love 
of creation. In the routine of fixed tasks in which there 
is no choice, and little scope for originality and inventive- 
ness, most children learn to conform as well as they can to 
the average, and so establish a habit, which remains un- 
broken throughout life, of accepting unthinkingly customs 
and ideas that come to them with no more real authority 
than a vague "It is proper," "They are wearing," "They 
say," and so on. To the mind in which the imagination 
works freely, all such expressions are meaningless; it seeks 
continually the root of experience from which they grow, 
and upon the basis of its investigations creates its own pat- 
terns. It conforms to fashion or makes its own fashion as 
it will; it conforms to social customs only when it judges 
these adapted to its needs and contributory to its develop- 
ment; it evolves its own ideas in a word, it builds its own 
life structure. To live with imagination is to live free, in 
control of your environment or at least uncontrolled by it, 
and to use all the common materials and experiences of life 
as means of growth. 

To do this, it is necessary to realize the difference between 
the life that is lived with imagination and that which is 
bound to the routine of experience. This realization is in- 
creased by study of the imaginative presentation of life in 
literature and in art. Further, the very effort to free con- 
structive power in all forms of work to take the initiative, 
to find individual ways in routine, to be on the lookout for 
fresh patterns in old combinations of things all these 


attempts tend to stimulate imaginative power. And as we 
are now concerned with the work of learning to write English, 
the reason for this section becomes apparent. 


1. Discuss the possibility of using imagination in preparing a 
text-book on one of the following subjects: geometry, geography, 
archaeology, chemistry, botany, sociology. 

2. Compare two familiar text-books on the same subject with re- 
gard to the imagination shown by their authors. Are the differences 
in material or presentation? Make notes before class with a view 
to discussing these differences in detail. 

3. Discuss three novels known to all the class, and grade them 
according to the degree and quality of imagination shown. 

4. Discuss the following stanza as an illustration of the fact that 
imagination transforms the common things of life: 

"Cool was the woodside; cool as her white dairy 

Keeping sweet the cream-pan; and there the boys from school, 
Cricketing below, rush'd brown and red with sunshine; 

O the dark translucence of the deep-eyed cool! 
Spying from the farm, herself she fetched a pitcher 
Full of milk, and tilted for each in turn the beak. 
Then a little fellow, mouth up and on tiptoe, 

Said, 'I will kiss you'; she laugh'd and leaned her cheek." 

George Meredith. 

5. Find six other short passages, prose or verse, in which the 
common things of life are transformed by imagination. 



THE technical processes which we have been studying 
have in the course of time gradually crystallized into certain 
types of writing, each of which is a composite of two or more 
of them. The fundamental distinction is of course between 
prose and verse, although there are forms notably the 
drama written in either or in both. Before writing was 
invented, all efforts to express fact or emotion, outside the 
give and take of conversation, were in verse. Then meter 
was a necessary device to aid the memory. Thus we have 
the tribal song the crude expression of a common emotion; 
the ballad the short story of primitive times, often with 
emotional comment in the form of a refrain; the epic the 
primitive historical novel; and the drama the impersona- 
tion of tribal history for religious ends. 

Long after writing was invented, prose, originally the un- 
rhythmical language of daily life, came to be cultivated as 
a form of expression, but only by 'the few, men who felt that 
to reflect upon and interpret experience was as necessary as 
to re-present it. The great mass of popular literature con- 
tinued to be composed in verse and to be handed down orally 
from generation to generation long after prose had come 
into common use for certain classes of writing. 

Gradually, however, stories and homilies, which had been 
written in verse for convenience of memorizing, came to be 
written in prose. As printing developed, books became 
cheaper and more numerous until the idea of periodical 
publication was reached. With the chapbook of popular 
fiction and the political pamphlet came the idea of the news- 


paper, and the development of the informal and critical 
essay. It was not until the nineteenth century that the short 
story came to be recognized as a definite literary form, and 
much of its development has taken place in our own tune. 

To-day journalism is one of the dominant forces in life. 
It affects all forms of writing; and as a part of its general 
scheme of educating the masses, it has brought into existence 
the popular informative article. How far its pressure upon 
literature is advantageous, how far deleterious, is not for 
discussion yet; but the fact is patent. 

The journalistic tone of all writing to-day emphasizes the 
further fact that literature has become in its purpose almost 
entirely expository. Primitive races like children love 
stories for their own sake; poets yield to the delights of de- 
scription; the pioneers of thinking must use argument; but 
the great mass of writing produced to-day aims to explain 
experience. The popular article explains fact; the short 
story rarely confines itself to plot it studies theme and 
character; the essay interprets Nature and human nature; 
the criticism expounds literature, art, and even music. And 
in this work of universal education the free combination of 
narration and description with the different methods of 
exposition and argument lies in the hands of the writer. 

The best indeed, the only way to learn what can be done 
in this direction is by the intelligent use of models. This 
excellent method was hit upon by our shrewd compatriot, 
Benjamin Franklin, at the mature age of eleven. He says: 

I thought the writing excellent [in the Spectator] and wished, if 
possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, 
and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them 
by for a few days, and then, without looking at the book, tried to 
complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment 
at length, as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable 
words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator 
with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected 
them. ... I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into 


confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into 
the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and com- 
plete the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement 
of thoughts. 

Stevenson's method was frankly imitative, and he jus- 
tifies it thus: 

Whenever I read a book or a passage that particularly pleased me, 
in which a thing was said or an effect rendered with propriety, in 
which there was either some conspicuous force or some happy dis- 
tinction in the style, I must sit down at once and set myself to ape 
that quality. I was unsuccessful, and I knew it; and tried again,, 
and was again unsuccessful and always unsuccessful; but at least 
in these vain bouts, I got some practice in rhythm, and the co- 
ordination of parts. 

That, like it or not, is the way to learn to write; whether I have 
profited or not, that is the way. 

And it is the great point of these imitations that there still shines 
beyond the student's reach his inimitable model. Let him try as he 
please, he is still sure of failure; and it is a very old and a very true 
saying that failure is the only highroad to success. . . . 

Much more to the same effect he writes in the essay called 
"A College Magazine" in Memories and Portraits. 

Both Franklin's method and Stevenson's are justified by 
their results. But even if you do not feel equal to the eternal 
experimentation that makes great artists, or care to attempt 
to write like Mr. Shaw one day and Mr. Chesterton the next, 
you can make intelligent use of good models simply by 
reading them with a view to discovering the sources of their 
success; and when you discover a good way of saying some- 
thing, you are free to use it and to improve upon it upon 
three conditions. 

One condition is, that you should never take into your 
work so much as a single striking phrase without the use of 
quotation marks to show that it is borrowed. If you do, 
you are guilty of plagiarism in plain words, stealing. And 
literary stealing is, if anything, worse than material stealing 
there is never an excuse for it. 


The second is, that you should never rest with imitation 
of the method of one author; you should use many, in order 
to counterbalance and to counteract the effect of each. If 
you imitate one, your work is likely to be a mere dilution of 
his. If you imitate many, and do it wisely, your work will 
be enriched from many sources. 

To imitate wisely, you must bear in mind the third condi- 
tion, which is that the right sort of imitation is rather a kind 
of assimilation and stimulation. You study a model, and 
let the impressions that it makes upon your mind sink in 
and be forgotten merge into the subconscious. Then later 
you begin to write; and what you have studied and admired 
and forgotten in detail reappears in some mysterious fashion 
to fructify and enrich your own method. 

All this, you may say, is for the professional writer. By 
no means. He will take care of himself. But in these days 
of journalism there is no profession in which an educated 
man is not likely to be called upon at times to write or to 
speak. In business, in science, in research of all kinds, in 
the law, in the ministry, in teaching, in politics, in every con- 
ceivable kind of work, the successful man comes to the time 
when he needs technique and practice in expressing his views. 
And all the training that you can get in principles, all the 
study of the different types of writing as they are found in 
good models, will be none too much when that demand is 
made upon you. 

Moreover, the doing is its own reward. Your efforts to 
interpret the truth will give you more knowledge of the truth. 
Your struggles to master English so that it will be your serv- 
ant on all occasions will give you power and the sense of 
power in dealing with your fellows. And your study of the 
work of those who have contributed to our wealth of thought 
and the beauty of our language will give you the pleasure of 
companionship with the best. 

In this book we must limit our study to the shorter, simpler 


forms, practice of which, however, always paves the way for 
more elaborate work. To this point, you have been studying 
the five-finger exercises and scales of writing; you will now 
proceed to study "easy pieces." Some of you will one day 
be working with the fugues and sonatas of literature. 


1. Report on the contents of the latest bound volume of one 
of the leading magazines: the number of stories and their average 
length; the number of articles and their average length; the space 
allotment for poetry; the editorial space; any peculiar features or 
special types of literature noted. 

In class discussion the characteristics of the different magazines 
should appear. Make notes of these for use when you begin to 

2. As far as time permits, read "skippingly" to determine the 
general character of the stories in the volume with which you are 
working, the subjects of the articles, etc. Prepare for class discus- 
sion a sort of topography of your volume. 

3. In a 300-word paper explain why you think that the ability 
to write English well may or may not be of service to you in your 
life work. 


1. NEWS 

THE ideal newspaper aims to get all the news and nothing 
but the news, and to publish it without error as soon as it 
happens. The ideal newspaper man, then, is one who ob- 
serves accurately, chooses unerringly, and acts promptly. 
As a reporter, he always happens to be where news happens, 
all eyes and ears for every detail; as a rewrite man, he has an 
instinct which registers increasing and decreasing news values; 
as an editor, he has his finger always on the pulse of public 
curiosity, and by it regulates his paper. 

What is "news"? Primarily, something new. But this 
definition is too vague: what is news to me, you may have 
known last week. What is news in Biggsville to-day was "old 
stuff " in New York yesterday. On the other hand, if Uncle 
Si Balderdash of Biggsville falls downstairs and breaks a 
leg, Biggsville has the news before New York; and more 
New York doesn't want the news at all. To be new is not 
enough. But if Uncle Si is a hundred years old, and picks 
himself up unhurt, with the gay remark that "livin' on oat- 
meal has kep' me so spry," New York will want the news. 
Everything that occurs is new; but news involves departure 
from routine; and the degree of departure needed varies 
directly according to the size of the town. The little varia- 
tions that Biggsville reads with interest are not even men- 
tioned in a city paper. 

There is, however, a third element in news; and that is the 
degree to which the public is already familiar with and in- 


terested in the subject. The best way for an average citizen 
to get on the front page of a newspaper is to murder or be 
murdered; but for one who is already in the public eye it is 
enough to acquire a slight cold: the more famous the person, 
the slighter may be the cold. 

The fact is that the newspaper is founded upon man's 
interest in his fellows, and whatever it prints that takes his 
thoughts away from himself and his immediate surroundings 
into the larger human family is the news that he wishes to 
read. The fact that in supplying food for this interest the 
newspaper stimulates and gratifies public curiosity beyond 
the limits of dignity and of decency is the deplorable side of 
the great work that it does in educating the masses of the 
people in current world history and in human nature. 

As news, then, consists of great occurrences to small 
people and of small as well as great occurrences to "great" 
people, it follows that the most news is to be gathered where 
most people are assembled: in the city as against the country; 
and in a small cosmopolitan city as against a provincial city 
of larger size in Washington, for example, as against Buffalo. 

The range and variety of sources of news in a city are amaz- 
ing The big newspapers have agents official or unofficial 
wherever people congregate especially. Court rooms, munic- 
ipal offices, churches, schools, colleges, police stations, the 
meetings of all kinds of organizations and societies, hospitals, 
theaters, social settlements, wharves, markets, and all other 
commercial centers, transportation centers in short, all 
conceivable gathering places of men for any purpose whatever 
furnish news items. As you read your newspaper, you will 
observe that almost every item contains a clear indication of 
the source from which it is derived. 


1. Choose the best paper that you know, and buy two copies 
of the same issue. First separate all the advertising matter from 


the news. Then cut up the news matter, and arrange the articles 
in groups under the following heads: 

(1) Foreign news 

(2) National news 

(3) Domestic but not local news 

(4) Local news 

(5) Articles of timely interest, not news 

(6) Departments (society, sport, club, church, markets, dress, 
household, physical culture, garden, etc.) 

(7) Correspondence 

(8) Editorials 

(9) Miscellaneous 

As newspapers differ widely, you need not follow this outline 
rigidly, but make one of your own which contains about the same 
number of heads, and covers practically the same ground. 

Provide enough envelopes (10" x 4", or larger), mark each with 
a heading, and place in it all the articles of one type. If you are in 
doubt as to the classification of any article, mark one envelope 
doubtful and use it for matter that remains unclassified until after 
class discussion. 

Put aside the advertising matter, and prepare answers to the 
following questions: 

(1) What sources of news are indicated in the paper itself? 

(2) In what various ways is news transmitted? 

(3) How many pages are in the paper? how many columns to 
the page? how many words to the column? 

(4) What different lengths of article do you find? What length 
predominates in the different classes of articles? 

(5) What peculiar features in policy or make-up do you discover? 
On the basis of your examination, prepare a brief description of 

the newspaper, and try to give it to the class in two or three minutes. 
Keep your envelopes and clippings for future use. 

2. Read carefully the items in your local news envelope, and 
from them make as complete a list as you can of all possible news 

3. Out of a single issue of some newspaper, cut lines indicating 
sources of news. Make your collection supplement the list obtained 
from 1. 

4. Discuss in class the following as news sources: the corner drug- 
store; a fashionable florist; the policeman on his beat; the delicates- 
sen store; children playing on the street; a garage; the county clerk's 
office; the Health Department; a fire-engine house. 


5. Lay out all your local news items on the table, and measure 
the space assigned to each. Decide on the basis of (1) the matter 
itself, and (2) the probable interests of the readers of the paper, why 
the space allotment has been made as you find it. You will not be 
able to say in all cases; but decide as many as you can. 

6. Lay out your foreign news similarly, arranging it according 
to subject-matter, and determine from how many points of view 
each subject is treated ; and if from more than one, why. 

7. Examine your domestic, non-local news and decide why it 
was admitted into the paper in each case. 

8. Turn reporter and collect as much campus news as you can. 
Do not write it in full but bring notes to class of both the news and 
the source in each case. Discuss the value of each item, and suggest 
other sources of news not exploited. 

In collecting news items, it is important to note names (with care 
for correct spelling), and such other details as are easily forgotten 
or confused; but it is equally important not to note everything, 
partly because in the process of note-taking you are likely to miss 
other details, and partly because too many details may take the 
"life" out of a story. 


For all news stories there is one fundamental and invariable 
rule: Keep within the space limits assigned. This is called 
" writing to space." Its importance is due to the fact that 
in newspaper work time is too valuable to be wasted in cut- 
ting down an article that should have been written as ordered. 

Scarcely less important is the rule that every story must 
have a "lead," giving the main facts, and from this "lead" 
should tail away in an anti-climax. In this respect the news 
story proceeds by a method exactly contrary to that of the 
fiction story. The method, however, is used for two definite 
reasons : 

1. As nobody can read the whole of a newspaper, and 
everybody wishes to know at least the gist of all the news, 
the lead gives him the summary, and enables him to choose 
whether or not he will go on to details. 

2. As fresh news is continually pouring in and crowding 


out earlier news in successive editions of the same paper on the 
same day, the order of decreasing importance enables the 
editor to cut off paragraph after paragraph without injury 
to the sense of what precedes, until, if necessary, he gets 
back to the lead itself, which still gives the essential features 
of the story. 

In constructing a news story, then, you should put into 
the lead all the facts that the reader who is in haste could 
wish to know. These may be combined in a single sentence, 
or better, in a group of short sentences, of which the first 
states the most important fact. Usually one paragraph is 
enough for this material; but sometimes it may run to two 
or three paragraphs. But the order of decreasing importance 
should be observed throughout, so that the reader who gets 
only the first part of the first sentence will nevertheless have 
the most important fact. Even the opening words should 
be chosen with a view to suggesting the content and impor- 
tance of the news. 

The remainder of the story the "body" should first 
develop all the points summed up in the lead, in the order 
of their importance, and should then add any other details 
or comments that lend interest. The six questions that a 
reporter tries to answer are: When? where? who? what? why? 
and how? All these details should be given in short par- 
agraphs sufficiently independent to allow the story to be cut 
off at the end of any one and still seem complete. Average 
paragraph length is from 100-150 words; and in newspaper 
work a single sentence often stands in a paragraph alone. 

Other rules w r hich it is useful to remember are: 

1. Use short sentences 20 words is a good average length. 

2. Use the active voice; avoid participles; reduce predica- 
tion by condensing subordinate clauses to prepositional 

3. Be impersonal: avoid both we and /. 

4. Avoid formal relation words, such as in the first place, 


moreover, therefore, on the other hand, finally, etc., except where 
they are absolutely needed for clearness which is almost 
never. Express your ideas in such form and order that they 
need no formal connections to make their relations clear. 

5. Be straightforward: avoid all such circumlocutions as 
a number of, a distance of, at the corner of, the height or length or 
breadth of, of age, there was, etc.; give the numbers without 
preambles which only waste space. 

6. Be as specific as possible as to size, shape, color, and 
all other qualities of the object described or discussed. 

7. Avoid indirect quotation: quote directly when you have 
space; otherwise sum up. 

8. Omit very; and use alone whenever you can, unless you 
are sure that you can use only in such a way that it will 
modify the word intended (see Appendix, 337). 

9. If a detail or a phrase or a word can be cut without 
changing the effect of the story, omit it; it is a clog, not a 

10. In considering your vocabulary, remember that when 
a phrase or a word comes easily, the chances are that it is 
one so commonly heard in the connection that you did not 
have to think at all to get it. The well-worn phrases which 
recur whenever similar news items are handled appear 
simply because they are familiar, because they come most 
easily to men in a hurry. But the good journalist has at 
least the ideal of making his phrases as fresh as his news. 
He knows that fresh turns of phrase actually lend interest to 
the content. Consequently, he is never far from his dic- 
tionary. On the other hand, he is as quick to use effective 
new words and phrases as soon as they become current 
sometimes perhaps too quick. He tries, however, to avoid 
slang because he realizes that slang is always very limited 
in its appeal. Even while it is popular it is not understood by 
all readers, and most pieces of slang are as short-lived as a 
fashion in dress. 


Before you begin to practise the writing of news stories, 
refer to Appendix I in regard to the form of "copy." 


1. Choose from among the news stories in your envelopes one of 
either national or international interest, and analyze it in detail 
as an exemplification of the various rules given for news stories. 
Find the lead, and decide whether or not it covers the most im- 
portant points, and whether the most important of all stands in 
the first sentence. Examine the body to see at what points it could 
stop; try the effect of various stopping places. 

2. Find the lead in six others among the most important stories 
in your envelopes, and see whether in each case it summarizes the 
story. Discuss in class any improvements that are suggested ; news- 
paper men are not infallible. 

3. Make from one or more newspapers as long a list as you can of 
infringements of the rules given on pp. 286f. and also discuss any 
errors hi English that attract your attention. 


The simplest sort of newspaper work is the straight news 
story, which aims at nothing more than presentation in 
narrative form, as condensed as possible, of news that has no 
special features of interest. It concerns accidents, petty 
crimes, the meetings of political, educational, commercial, 
and other organizations, outlines of the careers of people of 
some prominence when they receive some new appointment 
or when they die, reports of weddings and social functions, 
etc. In all such stories the reporter's chief business is to get 
all the important facts, and to waste no words. The following 
is a fair example of this kind of story: 



The trustees of Breen University yesterday announced the ap- 
pointment of Edward Brown of New York, to succeed Forrest 
Pendrith as principal of the affiliated academy. 


Mr. Brown is a graduate of the Chicago State Normal School and 
Breen University, and has done graduate work at the University of 
Nebraska and Columbia University. He has been principal of the 
high school at Julian, New York, a teacher in the high school at 
Breen, and subsequently superintendent of schools in the latter city. 

Mr. Pendrith offered his resignation as principal of the academy 
several weeks ago, and has since been appointed instructor in Latin 
at the university. Mr. Brown will assume his new duties in June. 


1. Compare with the story just quoted others which you find in 
your local news envelope, and see how many of them you can cut 
to advantage. 

2. Write three stories of less than 150 words each on campus 
news. In class discussion, correct them from the point of view of 
details omitted, and of unnecessary words used. 


Stories which involve far greater departure from the rou- 
tine of life than do ordinary news stories are naturally of far 
greater interest, and to bald narrative are added description 
and exposition in the form of dialogue. The chief characters 
in the real-life drama are made, whenever it is possible, to 
speak for themselves. So in an account of "a murder, wit- 
nesses, the victim's friends, and if possible, the murderer are 
quoted. These comments are obtained by interview. Fur- 
ther, when some prominent person is being written about 
in connection with some particular event, the interview is 
often sought for its own sake, that is, because of public in- 
terest in the speaker, and not because there is any special 
news to report about him at the moment. 

Very similar in type to the feature story is the report of a 
speech or of various speeches at a meeting. 

All these stories must be dealt with in the same way. The 
material must be presented, rather than narrated; and the 
interesting points of the speech or conversation must be 


made the high lights, as it were, of the picture. The reporter 
learns to choose what is new, vital, in a speech, and to sum- 
marize, or omit, the remainder; he learns to quote what 
is picturesque, characteristic, in an interview, and to omit 
much that was actually spoken. His method is akin to that 
of the writer of fiction who concentrates his dialogue. The 
following extracts from a long article show this method : 



Charges of jury tampering broke like a bombshell in the I. W. W. 
trial yesterday afternoon. Judge Landis' answer to the accusation 
was to discharge the entire panel of 200 men. The work of eight 
days was swept into the junk heap and the trial begins all over at 
the start. 

A new venire of 150 men was ordered, the first fifty to report a 
week from to-morrow. Until then the trial is off. Charles F. Clyne, 
United States district attorney, caused the upheaval by alleging that 
agents of the I. W. W. had approached practically every man called 
for jury service in the federal court. 


"If we are given until Monday morning we can have an avalanche 
of evidence to show that these men have been approached," said 
Mr. Clyne to the court. "I cannot point my finger at the man or 
men who have been doing it, but I may be able to do it soon." 

The climax came after George F. Vanderveer, counsel for the 
I. W. W., had tendered four jurymen to the government and had 
asked that they be sworn. This brought Mr. Clyne's protest and 
his revelations. 

"Women have been terrified by the investigations made by the 
defense, thinking their menfolk were being investigated by the 
government as spies," added the district attorney. 


Before he made these statements he had questioned the four 
tentative jurymen point blank, asking them if they had any myste- 
rious visitors, or any peculiar telephone calls. They admitted that 
they had. 


Judge Landis ordered the jurymen from the courtroom and then 
called ten veniremen who were waiting. He questioned them pri- 
vately, a court reporter taking down their replies. At the close of 
the court's investigation he dismissed the entire waiting panel. 

"How does the government conduct its investigation of jury- 
men?" asked Otto Christensen, associate counsel for the I. W. W. 

"Just as it has done for fifty years," replied Mr. Clyne. 


"The prosecutor alleges that he first learned of this last Thurs- 
day," broke in Attorney Vanderveer. "Yet he has gone right 
ahead questioning jurors. He has been gambling with his chance 
to get a jury 

"You didn't want to gamble at all," said Clyne. 

"You can get as nasty as you want with me outside the court- 
room, but not here," flashed Vanderveer. 

"All right, outside!" replied Mr. Clyne, militantly. 

Vanderveer and Clyne were standing face to face, glaring. 

"This lawsuit does not belong to either the prosecuting attorney 
or the defense," broke in Judge Landis. "At the first indication of 
any monkeying with the jury it is the duty of any attorney con- 
nected with the case, or any juryman, to bring the matter to the 
attention of the court." 


"While we have had intimations, the positive proof only became 
apparently questioning the jurymen to-day," said Frank Nebeker, 
who pushed his way to the bar. 

William B. Russell, 604 West Thirty-third street, told the court 
that a man had approached his wife while he was away. He said 
the man had asked her if she had ever heard her husband say that 
the I. W. W. members were bomb throwers. 

"Who are you?" she asked. 

"I'm an I. W. W.," the man replied, according to Russell. He 
also told of a phone call, the man's voice remarking that he was the 
man "who saw your wife," and of his efforts to get the man to meet 
him face to face. 


1. Report as accurately as you can a short conversation. 

2. Choose from any of your envelopes a report of a speech or 


of several speeches at a meeting, and an interview. Criticize and 
improve these in any way you can. 

3. Write a 200-word report of some lecture, sermon, or meeting. 
Discuss the reports in class, and improve them. It is desirable that 
several students should use the same material in order to get a 
better basis for comparison. 

4. Write a 200-word interview with some real person. Talk to 
your dressmaker or tailor, and write on: What is Worn on the 
Campus. Talk to a florist, or grocer, or the head of the employment 
or housing bureau, or the keeper of a boarding house, and write on 
a subject suggested by the conversation. Remember to suppress the 
/ and the we. Throw all the emphasis upon the person interviewed. 


It often happens that news which directly concerns very 
few people appeals to many by virtue of what is called its 
"human interest"; that is, it illustrates some quality of 
human nature which all men like to think that they possess, 
or which they would like to possess; or it typifies and so 
universalizes some common aspect of experience gives it 
the quality of humor or of pathos which makes it appeal to 
the emotions o,f all men. This is called the "human interest " 
story; and its methods are similar to the methods of fiction. 
Here alone in the newspaper it is not necessary for the 
lead to be a summary; it may on the contrary merely suggest 
the point of the story, which is not revealed until the last 
sentence, as in the very modern short story. Further, 
description and dialogue are "played up" for all they are 
worth. Colloquialisms and slang are used to give local color, 
and every drop of humor or of pathos whichever it happens 
to be is extracted from the situation. In fact, the great 
danger in this type of story lies in the temptation to overdo 
the emotional aspect. The art of writing such a story lies 
in distinguishing between true and false feeling, and in 
eliminating sentimentality. The chief characteristic of the 
human interest story is its variety; it may be treated in any 


way whatsoever, provided that it is successful in its emotional 
appeal. In the following examples, note: (1) the suggestive 
leads; (2) the use of dialogue, and the realism of the dialogue; 
(3) the use of description: 


Richard Poillon, who gave his address as the Gladstone hotel, 
entered the Bismarck garden with the air of one who waves his 
hand and causes the landscape to recede at his mere gesture. Nine 
waiters and seventeen bus boys fell over each other to attend. M. 
Poillon condescended to sit. He viewed the carte de jour and de- 
bated the little neck clams. He would try them. 

"Clams," said he, smartly, "garcon!" 

They were brought. M. Poillon made a few mystic passes and 
the clams fairly leaped into his ample throat. 


"Consomme," he purred, "at once." 

It was before him. The waiter stood dreamily wondering if he 
should have a limousine or a new flat-building out of the tip so cer- 
tainly forthcoming. 

"A filet," said M. Poillon, "with a piquant sauce. A salad of a 
variety of crisp vegetables and fruits. The wine at the temperature 
of the room. Attend!" 

It came and went. The waiter decided upon a summer home in 
the Catskills. He scratched his palm on the corner of the table. 
Other waiters murmured, "Lucky stiff!" 

"Another quart of the '48!" said M. Poillon graciously, now the 
warmth of the grape rippled in his blood. The '48 came. 

"Perfectos," murmured M. Poillon. 

He bit the end from one and lighted it; others in his pocket. 


"Demitasse," he said. He smiled amiably as through the rich 
velvet of the Havana haze he viewed the world anew. He turned 

"Gallon," he said. The waiter prepared to hold out both 


"My good fellow," said he, "will you be good enough to call Lake 
View 11 on the telephone? Also, what is the bill?" 

"The bill," said the waiter, "is $12.10. Who shall I ask for?" 
"Lake View 11," said M. Poillon, "is the Town Hall station. 
You may call the police. There is no money." 


Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for 
his friends. John 15, 13. 

Twenty-five of his fellow men were in the same room with young 
Sheldon Lacey out at the Illinois Steel company's plant in South 
Chicago yesterday afternoon. It was the washer room adjoining 
blast furnace No. 1, and the men for the most part were furnace 
blowers, like Lacey. 

Along one side of the washer room is a big pipe. Waste gas 
deadly poison when freed flowed through the pipe. 


The men, dogtired after many hours of hard work, were enjoying 
a few minutes of rest. They had separated into half a dozen small 
groups and were talking all but Lacey, who was too tired to talk. 
Lacey's eyes were on the wastepipe's two foot valve. He wasn't 
intentionally inspecting the valve; just happened to be looking at 

Lacey, like the rest of the men, knew death moved behind the 
valve. He wasn't worried. The pipe had been performing its office 
a long time and was good for many years as long as the building 
itself. It was like a heavily insulated wire, deadly inside, but not 
dangerous to the touch. 


So Lacey happened to be looking at the valve when a rivet gave 
way. There was a crash as the iron covering dropped to the floor. 
Into the room rushed the gas. Lacey thought quickly. He was 
near the door and the open air. To approach the broken pipe meant 
certain death. He turned his back on the door. 

"Get out, boys!" yelled Lacey. "I'll hold it back a while." 
The gas sapped his strength so rapidly it was all he could do to 
lift the valve. But he managed to get it back into place rather 


almost into place. Through the cracks and the hole where the 
rivet had been the gas reached for him. 


They were all out when Lacey and the valve fell together. One of 
them turned. He was Peter Moncilochi, old enough to be Lacey's 
father, and of an alien race, but his "partner." Peter managed to 
drag Lacey half way to the door. There both fell again. Four 
other volunteers carried them out and collapsed themselves. 

A few hours later both died in the company hospital, within five 
minutes of each other. The four volunteers were lying near, still 
unconscious and perhaps dying. No one knew the names of the 
four. Men go by numbers in the mills until they die. 


1. Reduce each of the human interest stories quoted above to 
half its space by turning it into straight narrative; then tell it in 
the fewest possible words. Did the nature of the story in each case 
warrant its development into a feature story? Why? 

2. Find all the human interest stories in your envelopes, and de- 
cide in regard to each whether it was worth treatment in this way. 

3. The following clippings are feature stories very slightly devel- 
oped beyond the point of bare news. Use your imagination to 
develop one of them with such additional details as might have 
grown out of the situation: 



Harold Rabbits, freshman at Lake Forest college, never wants 
to go snipe hunting by moonlight any more. Wednesday night 
several seniors at the college induced Rabbits, who hails from 
Coddlesville, 111., to join them on a snipe hunting party. The 
freshman was given a lantern, whistle and a bag. He was in- 
structed to hold the bag open at the bottom of a ravine near the 
Harold F. McCormick estate. He waited with the open bag from 
9 o'clock until 2 o'clock yesterday morning. 


Belchertown, Mass., Aug. 26. [Special.] Farmer Jack Newman 
of this town has organized his piggery according to the infantry drill 


regulations. He has nearly a hundred pigs on his farm and out of 
the hundred he has picked a squad of thirty-two selected as the 
most intelligent. 

It took about two weeks to select his squad; then the drilling 
commenced. Every morning before breakfast these pigs followed 
their drill master around the edge of the field, just inside the wire. 
Then they paraded across the center and did a grand march. 

After this was kept up for about two weeks Mr. Newman pur- 
posely delayed his appearance and found that the pigs went through 
their usual evolutions alone. 

4. Write 200- words on a real hazing experience, or some other 
amusing incident of the freshman year. 

5. Write a 200-word human interest story about one of the follow- 
ing situations: (1) a woman wearing blue fox furs is caught putting 
eggs into her muff; (2) a chimpanzee in full evening dress strolls 
into the lobby of a New York hotel; (3) a sexton breaks his neck in 
digging his own grave, the making of which he is unwilling to trust 
to anyone else. 


Whenever a piece of important news is printed, it is likely 
to be followed by other stories of two types: (1) "follow-up" 
stories; and (2) "rewrite" stories. 

In the "follow-up " stories new developments have occurred 
since the appearance of the first story; these must be given 
the first place in the lead, while the original features must 
come after, to remind people what the original situation was. 

In the "rewrite" stories, there is practically no new mate- 
rial; but the earlier story appeared in another paper, or in an 
earlier edition of the same paper, and an appearance of fresh- 
ness must be given to the news by viewing it from a fresh 
angle; that is, by writing a new lead for it. 

The best way to understand the methods used in such 
articles is to compare articles giving the same news that 
appear in an evening paper, and again in a morning paper. 
You will be able to distinguish at once between the follow-up 
and the rewrite stories. Notice particularly how the proper- 


tions vary; and also how the news itself either grows or dimin- 
ishes overnight in its demand upon the public attention. 

Especially, good practice in beginning newspaper work is 
that of rewriting with a new lead, and at the same time con- 
densing. Nothing gives more flexibility, which is one of the 
newspaper man's chief assets. 

Note the condensation in the following rewrite: 

Original Article 

Firm in the belief that the workmen of the Washington Navy 
Yard have no superiors in the United States, the Chamber of Com- 
merce has petitioned the Secretary of the Navy to order, if possible, 
the building of submarine boat chasers and other lightdraft vessels 

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Navy, A. Leftwich 
Sinclair, president of the Chamber of Commerce, states: 

"In view of the enlargement of the Washington navy yard we 
understand the new boiler shop will be completed in four months 
will it not be possible to order the building of submarine chasers and 
boiler work repairs on light draft vessels to be done in Washington? 

"The Chamber of Commerce believes that the workmen of the 
Washington navy yard have no superiors in any yard /in the United 
States, and on many classes of work we believe that they excel the 
men of other yards, as has been demonstrated by tests from time 
to time." 




In view of the expansion of the working capacity of the Washing- 
ton navy yard since the outbreak of war, the Washington Chamber 
of Commerce has written to Secretary Daniels of the Navy De- 
partment asking him to build submarine chasers and to have light 
warships repaired at the local yard. 

The chamber points out that improvements are under way to 
make even larger the capacity of the local yard. The letter states 


that the yard has a force of workmen equal in ability to any in the 


Cut out of an evening paper six news items of sufficient impor- 
tance to suggest that they will be repeated in the morning paper. 
Try your hand at rewrites, and the next morning compare your 
work with that which actually appears in the paper. Reduce one 
item to one-half; one to one- third; one to one-fourth; and the others 
to the lowest possible terms. Do not attempt the follow-up as you 
will not have the necessary news. 


The Sunday edition of a paper usually contains various 
popular articles on subjects of timely interest. These do not 
differ in treatment from the popular expositions of this kind 
prepared for magazines, except that they conform rigidly 
to the space limits assigned. In order to write such an article 
successfully, you must keep one eye on the output of the 
paper from week to week, and the other eye on current 
events; and where you see an opening, rush your article. 

The management of departments demands special knowl- 
edge of the subject, and special ability to plan and to enlist 
the aid of experts, but not special training in writing. If you 
know enough on any subject of public interest for example, 
sports, or gardening, or marketing, or cooking you have 
only to study carefully the columns of some good paper to 
get an idea how such a department is conducted. 


1. If you have a popular article among your clippings, note the 
subject and the space limit assigned, and write for the same paper 
a similar article on some subject of timely interest. Such a subject 
is best suggested from the news reported in the paper itself. 

2. Collect facts and write 300 words on: How Students Pay their 
Way through College. 


3. Go to a museum or art gallery and collect facts in regard to 
the most recent acquisitions. Write 100-200 words. 

4. Collect facts from the college bookstore and other sources, 
and write 300 words on: What College Students Read for Amuse- 

5. Write 300 words on the career of some popular athlete or 
some member of the faculty. 

6. Report on the departments that appear in the paper you read: 
the number of them; space allotted; and practical value. 


The editorial is the instrument by which the newspaper 
attempts to mold public opinion. It is thus for the most part 
argumentative in purpose. The leading editorials are based 
upon the chief news items of the day; and they aim to sum 
up the facts in such a manner that the readers of the paper 
will be of the same mind in regard to these facts as the edito- 
rial staff. When the news concerns a highly debatable issue, 
straight argument may be used; but commonly the more 
unobtrusive methods of persuasion are employed. Good 
editorials are often models of persuasion; and should be care- 
fully analyzed by students of newspaper writing. 

When the news of the day is unimportant, the editorial 
space of a paper is filled with short essays expressing the 
editor's general philosophy of life, or his comments on topics 
of current interest, which may not, however, be specially be- 
fore the public on the day when the editorial appears. Such 
essays may still be of a persuasive character for the con- 
scientious editor has the habit of educating his readers; but 
they may also be purely expository, as, for instance, when a 
big city paper publishes in the Christmas season an enter- 
taining editorial on the odors associated with Christmas. 

An editorial may range in length from a short paragraph 
to more than a column; its limit is determined by the impor- 
tance of the 'subject, the strength of the editor's convictions, 


and, in the case of minor editorials, by the amount of space 
left when the editorials expressing the paper's policy have 
been written. 

As editorials on news items of the day lose much of their 
effectiveness when they grow out of date, the following exam- 
ples have been chosen because they are interesting comments 
on topics of humane value which are likely to concern people 
for some years: 

[From the Minneapolis Journal] 

A professor, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, points out that 
Venice was a commercial city and supported Titian and Giorgione, 
that Holland was a commercial country and supported Rembrandt 
and Franz Hals. He concludes that commercialism and art are not 
antipathetic. He declares, indeed, that riches are necessary to 
art; that art is the luxury of a rich community. 

No doubt he is right. But it is also a fact that Carthage was 
rich and hadn't any art that was worth while, that London is com- 
mercial but isn't favorable to art, that Norway, poor Norway, pro- 
duced Ibsen and Bjornson. Therefore it cannot be true that riches 
cause art or that art is dependent upon riches. 

The professor believes that commercialism is not what is the 
matter with present day writing in this country, which writing he 
admits to be of no lasting and little temporary value. But he finds 
the reason for that phenomenon not in our riches but in our pursuit 
of riches. All of us are after the dollar, engaged in that engrossing 
pursuit, and have not the leisure of mind or sufficient attention to 
read anything save that which is designed to go in one ear and out 
of the other, to amuse the vacant hour and to be forgotten, in order 
not to interfere with serious business. 

Causes of divers sorts may be discovered or invented, but the 
fact is patent to all intelligent minds. The fact everybody is agreed 
on. The fact is really surprising namely: that people as well 
educated, as shrewd, as mentally alive, as productive in utilitarian 
endeavors as are our people, read and enjoy the stuff they do 
sentimental, sensational, superficial about the poorest aesthetic 
provender that any really civilized people was ever contented with. 

The fact is patent, palpable. The reason for it perhaps our 


children's children will find out. Meantime our critics can guess, or 
confine themselves to the simple business of sneering. 

The professor in the Atlantic, however, has hope for the future. 
So have we when all who are now living and reading have died off. 

[From the Des Moines Register and Leader] 

Rather a striking quotation from the late John Muir was made 
at the burial of this author and naturalist who died in California 
the day before Christmas. "Longest is the life that contains the 
largest amount of time-effacing enjoyment; of work that is a steady 
delight," is the remark which was made by John Muir and quoted 
by his friend. 

It suggests a point of view that with all our strenuous interest in 
life we are likely to miss. Time need not worry us when we are 
absorbed with the joy which makes us forget time. We become un- 
mindful either of its dragging or of its flying when we concern our- 
selves with work that is a steady delight. Every new year, while it 
lasts, ought to be just as good as eternity for us. We can only live 
in the present anyway. 

But we have formed a habit of looking ahead and anticipating 
the end of our day or our week or our year, and of looking back and 
regretting the beginning. And we lose a good deal of the passing 
moments in this rather futile occupation. So far as we know, it 
might turn out that time is only an illusion anyhow, invented by 
mortals who are sighing for eternity. The wisest course seems to 
be to grasp the little section of existence before us that the philos- 
ophers have such difficulty in defining and live it to the best of our 
ability for "steady delight." This would really end a lot of our dis- 
may about the flight and passing of time. 


1. Examine and classify the editorials in your envelope. Choose 
the best of the (1) argumentative, (2) persuasive, and (3) expository 
types, and discuss their points in class. 

2. Finish the editorial of which the opening paragraphs are quoted 
below. Write about 200 words more: 

"People are apt to forget that they have noses. Unless they 
happen to live in the neighborhood of the stockyards, or near a 
cherry tree which blossoms occasionally, they do not connect their 


nostrils with any of their enjoyments or pains. They never think 
of classifying things, holidays, for instance, by the discriminating 
messages conveyed to their brains from their nasal passages. 

" But however little the subject may be regarded, most of the 
important festivals have a strong emotional background of odors. 
The charm of Christmas is reputed to be in the obvious delight of 
the children, in the gay colors, in the really jolly spirit of giving. 
Nobody thinks of smelling Christmas." 

3. Examine the editorials in a week's issues of your newspaper. 
List the subject of each, and write opposite it the heading of the 
news article that suggested it, or the general subject that probably 
suggested it. If you cannot determine this, note the fact. Then 
classify your subjects. Compare notes in class discussion, and draw 
your own conclusions. 

4. Write a 200-word editorial on some news item in your paper 
on which the editor has not already commented. Use either ar- 
gument or persuasion. 

5. Write a 300-word argument on some topic of vital public in- 

6. Write an expository editorial (200-300 words) on one of the 
following topics: Christmas Gifts; Cats vs. Birds; On Getting up 
Early; Spring Poetry; Strawberries in Midwinter; Celery in Mid- 
summer; a subject of your own choosing. 

7. Convert your editorial into persuasion. 

8. Convert it into straight argument. 



THE short story may contain from 2000 to 7000 words; 
4000 is about the average. A storiette ranges from 600 to 
1000. These space limits tend to fix certain qualities. As a 
rule, (1) the plot is single; (2) the characters are few; 
(3) the setting is not changed; and (4) the emotional effect 
upon the reader is in a single tone that is, humorous, or 
pathetic, or tragic, or romantic, or grotesque, or exciting. 

The modern short story tends to be episodic and dramatic. 
The episode may be little more than an anecdote, a mystery 
or a problem solved, an amusing or a dramatic crisis passed 
without greatly affecting the lives of the people involved. Or 
it may contain the essence of a biography, concentrated and 
exemplified in a short series of events. In either case, it must 
be made to "sound true." It may be wildly romantic, utterly 
impossible; but if it is to "get over," it must be so supported 
by evidence of actuality that for the time the reader is con- 
tent to accept it as credible. 

The material for a short story may be found to-day in any 
street, in any house, in any life. Every year the magazines 
exploit new material. We have had the New England spin- 
ster, the desperado, the cowboy, the Jewish clothing dealer, 
the commercial traveler, the Chinese laundryman, the 
grafter, the crook, the sailor, the Pennsylvania Dutchman 
a hundred phases of the amazingly complex life of our coun- 
try; and those still untouched are innumerable. But there 
are, in general, four kinds of sources of material: 


(1) An accidental plot in life, which needs only re- 

(2) A character which suggests a plot as likely to be 
associated with it; 

(3) A place which suggests the occurrence of certain 

(4) An idea or principle governing human life, which can 
be exemplified in story form. 

Sometimes we find several of these sources together: a char- 
acter in its setting with a partially developed plot may come 
into our experience; it may even typify some law in life or 
principle of human nature. Conversely we may begin with 
an idea and have to combine plot, characters, and setting 
from three different sources. This, of course, is far more 
difficult than to "see" a partially constructed story in the 
life about us. 

The most fruitful source of plots is experience; but this 
may be supplemented by close observation of other lives, 
by material furnished by other people from their experience, 
by wide reading in all sorts of books that stimulate ideas, 
and to some extent from newspapers although news is, by 
its very nature, abnormal, and cannot appeal widely as being 
of the very stuff of life. Many popular stories are based upon 
scientific or psychological facts or theories. 

The successful short story to-day must grow out of com- 
mon experience, but must find something new to say about 
it. The theme must be universal. The old problems in love 
and war become fresh when they are placed in new scenes, 
or colored by their environment in the business world. 
Further, each magazine has its own readers, and its constantly 
varying policy, which is determined by the need of supplying 
their tastes with new and up-to-date material. For commer- 
cial success, it is necessary to follow closely the magazines for 
which you think you are suited; and to keep your material 
in line with what they publish. 



1. State the probable source of ten of the following stories (i. e., 
in plot, accidental or invented; in character; in setting; in idea or 
principle) ; try to read some of those with which you are not familiar: 
Irving's Rip Van Winkle; Foe's The Purloined Letter, The Gold Bug; 
Dickens's A Christmas Carol; Kipling's The Brushwood Boy, The Man 
Who Was, The Bridge-builders, Wireless, The Night Mail, " They "; 
Conrad's Youth, Heart of Darkness; Stevenson's Markheim, A Lodg- 
ing for the Night, The Sire de Maletroit's Door; De Maupassant's 
The Necklace; Morgan Robertson's Fifty Fathoms Down, From the 
Main Top; Hudson's El Ombu; Mrs. Wharton's The Legend, The 
Daunt Diana, Kerfol, Xingu; Mrs. Gerould's The Years, The Case 
of Paramore; Mrs. Freeman's A New England Nun, A Humble 
Romance, Louisa, The Revolt of "Mother"; Miss Jewett's The White 
Heron; W. W. Jacobs 's A Change of Treatment, Contraband of War, 
In Borrowed Plumes; Merrick's The Bishop's Comedy, The Man Who 
Understood Women, The Suicides in the Rue Sombre; Ambrose 
Bierce's A Horseman in the Sky, The Middle Toe of Hie Right Foot; 
O. Henry's A Municipal Report, An Unfinished Story; Algernon 
Blackwopd's John Silence; Robert Herrick's The Master of the Inn; 
Wells's The Man Who Could Work Miracles, The Time Machine. 

2. Examine the current number of a magazine assigned to you, 
to discover what you can about its fiction and its readers. In class 
discussion the dozen leading magazines should be covered. 

3. Bring to class an idea for a plot. It may be based upon your 
own experience, or upon something that you have heard, or upon 
some scientific fact or principle. After class discussion sum up, in 
a few words each, the plots that seem to work out best, and file away 
for future use two or three that attract you. 


As soon as you have your general plot outline, you will 
probably ask yourself: Where shall I begin? Where shall I 
end? By what kinds of episodes shall I make the story move 
from its beginning to its end? 

If your story is realistic, and involves no strain upon the 
reader's credulity, the best way to begin is to plunge at once 
into an interesting situation, and to get the story moving as 


quickly as possible. But if your story is unusual, romantic, 
startling, your first task is to gain the reader's confidence; 
and this you do by means of an introduction, in which you 
suggest, in every way you can, reasons why the story should 
be believed. One good way is to begin with extremely matter- 
of-fact details and by degrees to lead away from them to 
the incredible. Mr. Wells's The Man Who Could Work 
Miracles is a good example of this method. 

From the opening sentence you must have in mind a 
climax as goal toward which every phase of the story is kept 
moving. No descriptions, no episodes, no dialogues, however 
interesting in themselves, should be admitted unless they can 
be seen to push the story on toward this climax. And the 
end should follow as soon as possible after the climax; indeed, 
the anecdotal type of short story is often so telescoped that 
the climax is in the last sentence. In this case it usually 
involves a surprise. For instance, in O. Henry's A Little 
Speck in Garnered Fruit, the plot hinges upon a young hus- 
band's efforts to get his bride a peach which she had de- 
manded out of season. He is everywhere offered oranges; 
but finally succeeds in getting the coveted fruit. The climax 
and surprise come in the last sentence in which she calmly 
tells him that after all she would rather have had an orange! 

In general, it is a good plan to begin without preamble 
whenever you can, and to stop immediately after the climax. 

The episodes by which the story is developed must be so 
logically and closely related that one seems to grow out of 
another; all should be such as might have happened to the 
characters chosen; and all should be such as might have 
occurred in the setting chosen. It is this unification of plot, 
characters, and setting which gives the impression of reality. 
You will perhaps realize this better after you have studied the 
famous story which Guy de Maupassant made about a piece 
of string. But before you read it, answer the following 


1. If you saw a rheumatic old man stoop to pick up some- 
thing from the road, what should you infer? 

2. If he tried to keep you from seeing what it was, would 
your inference be strengthened? 

3. If you heard that a pocketbook had just been lost, how 
would your inference be affected? 

4. If you knew that the man was a tricky old body, and 
if you had a grudge against him, how would your opinion 
be affected? ' 

5. Should you believe him if he declared that all he picked 
up was a piece of string and showed the string? 

6. What would be the effect upon him of the unjust sus- 
picion that he had picked up the pocketbook? 

7. If the pocketbook was found by someone else and re- 
turned, would the old man necessarily have been cleared? 
What might have been supposed? Among what kind of 
people only could such continued suspicion have been har- 

Because it is necessary to show the narrow lives of the 
Norman peasants, and their hard, suspicious natures, De 
Maupassant has a much longer introduction than is now 
usual; but when the story begins, it moves rapidly and with- 
out a break to its climax and end. 


On all the roads about Goderville the peasants and their wives 
were coming to town; for it was market day. The men walked at 
a steady pace, the whole body thrown forward with each swing of 
the long, crooked legs. They were deformed by heavy work, by 
bending over the plow, which raises the left shoulder and distorts 
the frame, and by reaping, which makes the knees spread in order 
to get a solid footing, by all the slow and painful toil of the coun- 
try. Their starched blue blouses, as glossy as if they had been 
varnished, trimmed on the collar and cuffs with a little pattern in 
white thread, blew about their bony frames like balloons about to 
fly away, with a head, two arms and two feet sticking out of each. 


Some of the men led by a rope a cow or a calf. And their wives, 
coming behind, would beat the flanks of the animals with leafy 
branches to make them move faster. The women carried on their 
arms large baskets from which the heads of chickens or ducks 
peeped out now and then. And they walked with a shorter, quicker 
step than their husbands. Their straight, wizened figures were 
covered with scanty little shawls pinned over their flat bosoms; 
and their heads were bound with white linen that hid the hair, 
above which they wore caps. 

Sometimes a country cart went by, drawn by a stiff-jointed farm 
horse, jolting at every step two men sitting together; and the 
woman in the bottom of the cart would hold on to the side to keep 
herself steady. 

In the marketplace at Goderville there was a great crowd, an 
indistinguishable mass of men and beasts. The horns of cattle, the 
tall beaver hats of rich peasants, and the caps of peasant women 
rose above the level of the throng. And the clamor of voices, sharp 
and shrill, made a continuous wild roar, dominated now and then 
by a great laugh from the solid chest of some gay country fellow, 
or the long lowing of a cow tethered to the wall of a house. 

It all smelled of the stable. Milk and manure, hay and sweat, 
blended into that terrible sour smell of man and beast together, 
which is peculiar to men of the fields. 

Maitre Hauchecorne, of Breaute, had just arrived at Goderville, 
and was walking toward the marketplace when he noticed on the 
ground a little piece of string. Economical as a true Norman always 
is, he thought anything worth picking up that might be of use; 
and he stooped with a great effort, for he suffered with rheumatism. 
He picked up from the ground the bit of thin string, and was pro- 
ceeding to roll it up with care when he saw Maitre Malandain, the 
harness-maker, on his doorstep watching him. They had once had 
some words about a halter which had left them both irritated and 
resentful. Maitre Hauchecorne felt a kind of shame at being seen 
by his enemy to pick up out of the mud a bit of string. He hurriedly 
concealed his find under his blouse, then in his breeches pocket; 
and afterward pretended still to be looking on the ground for some- 
thing that he could not find. At last he went on toward the market, 
his head bent forward, and his body doubled up with rheumatic 

He was soon lost in the shouting, slow-moving crowd, swayed 
this way and that in its interminable bargaining. The peasants 
would examine the cows, would go away, and then return, puzzled, 


always afraid of being taken in, not daring to make up their minds, 
but watching every minute the eyes of the seller, and trying to find 
out how he was cheating them and what was wrong with the animal. 

The women had placed their great baskets at their feet, and had 
pulled out the poultry, which now lay on the ground, tied by the 
legs, with frightened eyes and scarlet combs. 

With assumed indifference and impassive faces, they would listen 
to offers but stick to their prices; or perhaps suddenly deciding to 
accept the bargainer's terms, would call after him as he was slowly 
moving away: 

"All right, Mait' Anthime! They are yours." 

Then little by little the marketplace thinned out, and when the 
midday bell struck, those who lived at a distance poured into the 

At Jourdain's the big dining-room was full of people eating, while 
the great courtyard was full of all sorts of vehicles wagons, gigs, 
carts, tilburys, nameless conveyances, yellow with mud, mis-shapen, 
patched up, with their shafts in the air like two arms, or tilted up 
behind with their noses in the ground. 

Over against the people seated at the table the immense fireplace, 
full of clear flame, threw a fierce heat on the backs of those on the 
right. Three spits were turning, loaded with chickens, pigeons, 
and saddles of mutton; and the delicious smell of roast meat and of 
gravy trickling over crisp brown skin, which spread from the hearth, 
kindled mirth and made mouths to water. 

All the aristocracy of the plough were eating at the house of Mait' 
Jourdain, innkeeper and horsetrader, a rogue with the shekels. 

The dishes passed round and were emptied along with jugs of 
yellow cider. Everyone talked of business what he had bought 
and sold. The state of the crops was discussed: the weather was 
right for green stuff but a trifle damp for the wheat. 

All at once the roll of a drum was heard in the courtyard before 
the house. In a second, everybody, except a few indifferent fellows, 
jumped up and ran to the door or the windows, with his mouth still 
full and his napkin in his hand. 

When the town crier had finished his tattoo, he announced in his 
harsh voice, with all the stops in the wrong places: 

" Be it known to the inhabitants of Goderville, and in general to 
all persons who were at the market, that there was lost this 
morning, on the Beuzeville road, between nine and ten o'clock, a 
black leather pocketbook, containing five hundred francs and some 
business papers. The finder is requested to return it to the 


town-hall at once, or to Maitre Fortune Houlbreque, of Manneville. 
He will receive twenty francs reward." 

Then the crier went away; but the deadened sound of his drum 
and his faint voice could be heard once again in the distance. 

Then this affair was talked of, with much weighing of the chances 
whether Maitre Houlbreque would recover his pocketbook or not. 
So dinner was finished. 

They were having coffee when the police sergeant appeared on 
the threshold and asked: "Is Maitre Hauchecorne, of Breaute, 

Maitre Hauchecorne, who was sitting at the far end of the table, 
answered: "Here I am." 

The sergeant went on: "Maitre Hauchecorne, will you kindly 
come with me to the town-hall? His Honor, the mayor, wishes to 
speak to you." 

The peasant, surprised and uneasy, swallowed his liqueur at a 
gulp, rose, and more bent even than in the morning for the first 
steps after sitting a while were always particularly hard followed 
the sergeant, repeating: "Here I am. Here I am." 

The mayor sat in an armchair, waiting for him. He was a heavy, 
solemn man, full of pompous phrases. 

"Maitre Hauchecorne," he said, "this morning, on the Beuzeville 
road, some one saw you pick up the pocketbook lost by Maitre 
Houlbreque, of Manneville." 

The peasant stared speechless at the mayor, terrified at the sus- 
picion which had fallen upon him, he knew not why. 

"Me? me? Saw me pick up that pocketbook?" 

"Yes, you." 

"Upon my word, I never knew nothing about it at all." 

"They saw you." 

"They saw me? me? Who was it who saw me?" 

"M. Malandain, the harness-maker." 

Then the old man remembered and understood, and reddened 
with fury: "Ah, he saw me that villain? What he saw me pick up, 
your Honor, was look here this little bit of string." 

And fumbling in his pocket, he drew out the little piece of 

But the mayor shook his head, incredulous. 

"You are not going to make me believe, Maitre Hauchecorne, 
that M. Malandain, who is a reliable man, took this string for a 


The peasant, in a rage, lifted his hand and spat by way of attest- 
ing his honesty, repeating: 

"All the same, it is God's truth, nothing but the truth, your 
Honor. Here by my soul and my salvation, I swear it." 

The mayor continued: "After picking up the thing, you even 
continued to look about in the mud to see whether some of the 
money had not dropped out of it." 

The poor fellow was choking with indignation and fear. 

"How can they tell! . . . how can they tell . . . lies like that to 
ruin an honest man! . . . How can they. . . !" 

It was useless to protest; he was not believed. 

He was confronted with M. Malandain, who repeated and held 
to his statement. They railed at each other for an hour. At his 
own demand Maitre Hauchecorne was searched; but nothing was 
found on him. 

Finally, the mayor, much perplexed, dismissed him with the 
warning that he was going to inform the public prosecutor, and 
ask for a warrant. 

The news had spread. When the old man left the town-hall, he 
was surrounded and questioned, seriously or jeeringly. But with 
all the curiosity, there was no indignation. He tried to tell his 
story about the string. They did not believe him; they simply 

He went on his way, stopped by everyone, himself stopping all 
his acquaintances, repeating again and again his tale and his prot- 
estations, and showing his pockets turned inside out to prove that 
there was nothing in them. 

They said to him: "Get along with you, you old rascal!" 

He grew angry, exasperated, feverish, desperate at not being be- 
lieved; and not knowing what to do, he kept telling his story over 
and over again. 

Night came. He had to go home. He set out with three neigh- 
bors to whom he pointed out the place where he had found the bit 
of string; and all along the road he talked of what had happened to 

That evening he went all round the village of Breaut for the 
express purpose of telling everybody; but nobody believed him. 
He was ill of it all night long. 

About one o'clock the next afternoon, Marius Paumelle, a farm 
hand of Maitre Breton, market-gardener at Ymauville, returned 
the pocketbook with its contents to Maitre Houlbreque, of Manne- 
ville. In fact, the man declared that he had found it on the road, 


but being unable to read, had carried it home and given it to his 

The news spread through the neighborhood; and Maitre Hauche- 
corne was told. He immediately made the rounds and began to 
tell his story again, together with its outcome. He was triumph- 

"What made me feel bad," said he, "was not so much the thing 
itself, you understand, as the lie. There is nothing that hurts you 
so much as to be in disgrace because of a lie." 

All day long he talked of his experience. He told it to people 
passing along the roads, to people drinking at the tavern, to people 
as they came out of church the next Sunday. He stopped strangers 
to tell them about it. His mind was at rest about it now; and still 
there was something that worried him, although he could not say 
exactly what it was. People seemed to be amused while they lis- 
tened to him. They did not seem to be convinced. He seemed to 
feel them talking behind his back. 

On Tuesday of the following week, he went to Goderville to the 
market, for no reason in the world except the need of relating his 

Malandain, standing in his doorway, began to laugh as he saw 
him go by. Why? 

He began to tell a farmer of Criquetot, who would not let him 
finish, but gave him a dig in the pit of his stomach, cried out in his 
face: "Get along with you, you big rascal!" and turned on his 

Maitre Hauchecorne stood without a word, more and more un- 
easy. Why had he been called a "big rascal"? 

As he sat at table at Jourdain's, he tried again to explain the 
matter; but a horse-dealer from Montivilliers shouted at him: 
"Come, come, you old scamp! I know all about that your piece 
of string!" 

Hauchecorne stammered: "Seeing that they found it that 

But the other man retorted: "Shut up, daddy, sometimes there's 
one to find it, and one to bring it back. Unseen's unknown; I've 
got you!" 

The peasant sat choking; at last he understood. They accused 
him of sending back the pocketbook by a pal an accomplice. 
When he tried to protest, the whole table roared. He could not 
finish his dinner, and in a chorus of jeers he went away. 

He went home, ashamed and indignant, stifled with rage, with 


dismay, the more dumbfounded in that, with his Norman cunning, 
he was capable of doing what he was accused of, and even of boasting 
about it as a good trick. It seemed to him in his confused state of 
mind that it would be impossible to prove his innocence, his trick- 
iness being so well-known. And he was struck to the heart by the 
injustice of the suspicion. 

Then he began once more to relate his mishap, making his story 
longer every day, adding each time new reasons, more vigorous 
protests, oaths more solemn than he was aware, which he thought 
up in his hours of solitude, his mind obsessed solely by the story of 
the string. But the more complicated he made his defense, and the 
more subtle his arguments, the less he was believed. 

"That is the way a liar talks," they said behind his back. 

He felt this, and it preyed upon his mind; he wore himself out in 
his useless efforts. He grew visibly weaker. 

It became a joke to get him to tell about " The Piece of String," 
just as a soldier who has been through a campaign is made to talk 
about his battles. 

But his spirit was struck at its root, and he gradually failed. 
Toward the end of December he took to his bed, and he died early 
in January. In the delirium of the death agony, he still declared his 
innocence, saying again and again: 

"A little bit of string ... a little bit of string . . . see, here it 
is, your Honor." 

As you see, this story moves with unbroken logic from the 
unstable situation created by the picking up of the string to 
the inevitable outcome, the old man's death. The plot com- 
plication grows out of his character, and the character of 
Malandain and of all the people in the neighborhood. This 
is, of course, the type of story in which a life history is summed 
up. Most of the stories of Howells, and James, and of Mrs. 
Wharton, Mrs. Gerould, Mrs. Freeman, and Miss Jewett 
are of this kind. 

In the anecdotal type, which may be a story of mystery 
or adventure, or an amusing or dramatic crisis in life, the 
plot complication depends much more upon circumstances. 
In mystery stories especially, setting is likely to be ma- 



1. Write a careful abstract in 150-200 words of the incidents in 
The Piece of String. Discuss in class the closeness of their relation- 

2. Copy the opening and concluding paragraphs of six stories by 
good writers. Discuss in class what the intervening episodes may 
have been. Do not take part in the discussion in cases where you 
have read the story. 

3. Write a story of about 500 words developing the incidents sug- 
gested by the following opening : 

"It was half past twelve in the morning and a cold night. I was 
almost frozen. I took off my shoes and walked to and fro upon the 
sand, barefoot and beating my breast with infinite weariness. There 
was no sound of man or cattle. Not a cock crew. I heard only the 
surf breaking in the distance. By the sea that hour in the morning, 
and in a place so desert-like and lonesome, I had a kind of fear. 

In all the books which I have read of people cast away, they had 
either their pockets full of tools, or a chest of things thrown up on 
the beach with them. I had nothing in my pockets but money and 
Aleck's silver button." Robert Louis Stevenson. 

4. Bring to class a 100-word abstract of a magazine story, in- 
dicating the climax. Discuss the choice and treatment of episodes. 

5. On the basis of the various experiences with ghosts which 
have been told to you as authentic, outline in class, each member 
contributing, a plot for a ghost story. Try to make it different 
from the usual type. 


Every short story must be written from a single, clearly- 
defined point of view. It may be that of the hero or heroine, 
or of some minor character, or of the author who assumes for 
the time the power to know everything that is done, said, or 
thought, within the limits of his material. 

There are two ways of telling a story from the point of 
view of the hero or heroine: One of the principal characters 
may tell the story in the first person; or the author may so 
identify himself with a principal character that the story is 
seen from that person's point of view. 


Both these methods involve the difficulty that one person 
cannot be supposed to know many details that the reader 
must learn in the development of the plot. Hence there is no 
way of introducing such details without changing the point 
of view. The autobiographical method involves the further 
difficulty in characterization that the speaker must resort to 
indirect methods to awaken the reader's interest; self-praise 
is impossible. 

The use of a minor character meets the second difficulty, 
in that the narrator can be an admirer of the hero, as, for 
instance, Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories. But a 
minor character is in no better position than the hero or 
heroine to know all the plot. For this reason he is particularly 
useful as narrator in a mystery story, where the reader shares 
his bewilderment until at the end the author introduces 
some new element that explains everything. 

The fourth method that of assumed omniscience is 
much easier to manage; but it does not have the convincing 
effect of coming straight from life that the others have. 

In some cases, the point of view is determined by the mate- 
rial ; and usually one is decidedly to be preferred to all others. 
For instance, in Mr. Jacobs's A Change of Treatment, the plot 
is this: a sea captain afflicts his crew with his amateur knowl- 
edge of medicine. One of the crew happens upon a second- 
hand medical book and learns from it a list of symptoms 
which he reels off to the skipper and is sent to bed. Several 
others follow his example. But while they are enjoying the 
delicacies of invalids, the mate, who sees through their trick, 
mixes a medicine out of all the horrible things he can think 
of, and persuades the captain to let him dose the men with 
it. The men get well abruptly ! This story is told by a night- 
watchman, who had been one of the crew. He was thus in a 
position to know what the men did, and what the mate 
did; and from the beginning he lets the reader into the 



1. What is the point of view in The Piece of String? Retell the 
story orally from the two other points of view. 

2. List five short stories that you remember, and write opposite 
each the point of view. Suggest for class discussion other possible 
points of view for each, and decide why they were rejected by the 

3. Choose one of the following stories and outline it as changed 
by substituting the point of view suggested below: 

(1) Stevenson's The Sire de Maletroit's Door the girl's point of 

(2) Miss Wilkins's A New England Nun Dagget's point of view; 

(3) Irving's Rip Van Winkle Rip's point of view; 

(4) O. Henry's A Municipal Report the negro's point of view; 

(5) Kipling's The Man Who Would be King the omniscient 
point of view. 

If you have not read any of these stories, substitute another after 
consultation with your instructor as to choice and change hi point 
of view. 

4. Decide which of the stories listed on p. 305 could not have 
been written from any other point of view than the one chosen. 


In a short story the characters should be as few as pos- 
sible, and sharply distinguished from one another. The 
reader does not have time either to learn to know more than 
half a dozen persons, or to make fine distinctions among 

A short story usually needs one or two persons for whose 
fortunes the reader's sympathies are sought and one or two 
who create the obstacles in the plot. If minor characters are 
needed for any purpose, they should either be limited to two 
or three, or should form a group a sort of chorus of which 
the members need not be described as individuals. 

The ideal in characterization is that every touch should 
at the same time further the plot. As in life, action should 
grow out of character, and character should be revealed in 


action. It is not necessary to introduce a person with an 
explanation; let him appear as a character appears on the 
stage and explain himself, as the story progresses, by his 
words and actions, by his look and manner in various 
circumstances, by his effect on other people, and by the 
effect of other people on him. 

In so far as description of personal appearance and direct 
exposition of character are necessary, they should be intro- 
duced as incidental touches, mainly in the form of phrases 
or subordinate clauses, with only here and there a short sen- 
tence; they should rarely, if ever, be used in solid blocks. 
These give at best a confused impression, and often se- 
riously interfere with interest by stopping the movement of 
the story. 

The one essential in characterization is, that the people 
should seem alive. Their lifelikeness will depend upon two 
things: the accuracy of the writer's observations of details 
in life that reveal character; and the degree to which he suc- 
ceeds in projecting his own personality into each of his figures 
in turn so that the details combine into a unified conception. 
It is doubtful whether any character is ever drawn from life 
without alteration; in most cases, a character is a composite 
in which the writer builds upon his own basic understanding 
of human nature, derived from study of himself, a combina- 
tion of special qualities which he obtains from observation 
of other people. These qualities may all come from one 
person; in that case the character is said to be drawn from 
life. Or they may be taken from several sources and welded 
by imagination. In such a case the writer must continually 
ask himself, not "What did this man actually do under such 
circumstances?" but "What would such a person as I have 
in mind do under such circumstances?" Both his own expe- 
rience and his observation of others will help him to decide. 

In presenting character, remember that direct exposition 
(pp. 213f .) should be avoided whenever some indirect method 


can be made to do the work. The following suggestions may 
be useful: 

1. Try in the first place to make your principal characters 
such as would credibly become involved in the action of the 
story. If Hauchecorne had not been economical, he would 
not have picked up the string; if he had not been tricky, the 
suspicion would not have clung to him. 

2. In every episode needed for the plot, ask yourself: Does 
this show character? Can it be made to show character? 
Hauchecorne would not have got into trouble if Malandain 
had not seen him; true, but if he had not been the kind of 
man he was, he would not have minded having Malandain 
see him, and he would not have acted in the manner that 
roused his enemy's suspicion. 

3. In relating an episode, remember that there are innu- 
merable ways of performing the same action, many of which 
reveal character. Try to keep before the reader manner and 
gesture as well as action. 

4. In writing dialogue remember that people are judged 
both by what they say and by their way of saying it. 

5. The effect of one person upon another is especially 
useful as it reveals two characters at once. 

Note that in a story all these methods, together with 
bits of description of dress and personal appearance, are com- 
monly found in combination, so that it is only by analysis 
that we can see the function of each in the character draw- 
ing. In the following passage, a woman has become a typical 
"old maid" while waiting for the man to whom she is en- 
gaged to make money enough for them to marry. She has 
just received a visit from him. We have been told that she 
wears a white apron for company, a pink one when she is 
alone sewing, and a green gingham when she does her house- 

She tied on the pink, then the green apron, picked up all the 
scattered treasures (he had upset her workbasket) and replaced 


them in her workbasket, and straightened the rug. Then she set 
the lamp on the floor, and began sharply examining the carpet. 
She even rubbed her fingers over it, and looked at them. 

"He's tracked in a good deal of dust," she murmured. "I 
thought he must have." 

Louisa got a dust-pan and brush, and swept Joe Dagget's track 
carefully. Mary E. Willrins 

Earlier in the same story a little incident shows their effect 
upon each other, and the impossibility ~of their being happy 

Presently Dagget began fingering the books on the table. There 
was a square red autograph album, and a Young Lady's Gift-Book 
which had belonged to Louisa's mother. He took them up one 
after the other and opened them; then laid them down again, the 
album on the Gift-Book. 

Louisa kept eying them with mild uneasiness. Finally, she rose 
and changed the position of the books, putting the album under- 
neath. That was the way they had been arranged in the first place. 

Dagget gave an awkward little laugh. "Now what difference 
did it make which book was on top?" said he. 

Louisa looked at him with a deprecating smile. "I always keep 
them that way," murmured she. 

"You do beat everything," said Dagget, trying to laugh again. 
His large face was flushed. 

In these two slight incidents we have the character of the 
man and of the woman shown as clearly as by any 
possible device. 

The naming of characters is important. Commonplace 
and highly romantic names should alike be avoided. It is 
essential that the name should sound as if it belonged to a 
real person, and at the same time it is desirable that it suggest 
rather more of his character than real names usually do; and 
the two parts of the name should seem to belong together. 
Sound, rhythm, and suggestion should all be considered in 
choosing names. For instance, " Laura Glyde" could not be 
bettered for its combination of the three qualities as a name 
for a soulful young woman who talks art without understand- 
ing what she says. 


It is a good plan to keep a list of real names, together with 
hints of the characters of their owners, as far as these are 
known or guessed. You will see names in newspapers, in 
catalogues and indexes, in advertising signs; and hear them 
from people whom you meet. It is usually advisable to 
change the combination slightly. 


1. What methods of characterization are used in The Piece of 

2. Make a careful study on cards of the methods of characteriza- 
tion used in a story by Mary Wilkins-Freeman, Edith Wharton, 
Katherine Fullerton Gerould, or some other writer whose char- 
acterization is said by your instructor to be especially effective. 

3. Criticize the following names; tell what kind of character each 
suggests; and, if you can, indicate the kind of plot with which each 
should be associated: Peter Rodright; Polly Periwinkle; Caroline 
Toplady; Hilary O'Hallaran; Abner Dawson; Matilda Bunker; 
Harriet Pratt; Tim Simpson; Dulcie Darling. 

4. Write a story of 500 words, using the following plot: A young 
doctor who is unable to work up a practice in a town in which he has 
settled, advertises that on a certain day he will go to the cemetery 
and raise the dead. On the day set he goes to the cemetery and 
finds most of the town there. He at once addresses someone stand- 
ing near, asking: "Well, whom shall I bring back for you?" For 
one reason or another, he is unable to find anybody who is willing 
to experiment. If one person suggests a name, someone else imme- 
diately objects. You will at once think of reasons why in each 
case that would necessarily be so. Sketch about six characters, 
three who wish to have someone brought back, and three who ob- 
ject. Note also that you will be also characterizing by effect the 
dead persons. Invent an ending for the story. 

5. Work up the plot that you discussed in section 1 (p. 305) into 
a 500-word story. 


The setting or scene of a story may be used in three ways: 
(1) as mere background the action must happen some- 


where; (2) as explanation of the action, either directly, or 
indirectly by helping to interpret the characters; and (3) as 
part of the machinery of the story. 

When the setting is mere background, the less said about 
it the better; it is as necessary as the background of a picture, 
but should be kept inconspicuous. 

When the setting serves to explain either the plot or the 
characters, it must be distributed throughout the story by 
multitudes of incidental touches, as if the place itself were a 
character. If the atmosphere of the place is at once distinc- 
tive and unfamiliar, much more description is needed than 
if it is a type of place found in many parts of the world and 
familiar to many people. But even when it needs extensive 
interpretation, this should be diffused, rather than lumpy. 
The reader, instead of trying to assimilate a host of new im- 
pressions at once, will receive them bit by bit, and the effect 
of them will be cumulative as the story advances. 

When the setting is also machinery, there is usually little 
plot, and by means of descriptive-narration the setting is 
made to dominate the story. In Stevenson's The Merry Men, 
a whirlpool is in this sense the chief character; in Morgan 
Robertson's Fifty Fathoms Down, the interior of a submarine; 
in Kipling's The Ship that Found Herself, the parts of a ship 
and the wind and waves. 

In beginning to write, you should make it a fixed rule never 
to write about any place unless you are thoroughly familiar 
with it; faked local color obtained from books is rarely suc- 
cessful or convincing. But in dealing with this familiar 
material, try to get a new aspect of it that will make it more 
vivid and interesting. No locality is too commonplace to 
be converted into setting. 

The names of large cities may be used, but for small towns 
fictitious names should be supplied. Like character names, 
they should suggest the nature of the place that they rep- 



1. What use is made of setting in The Piece of String? 

2. Find in some good current magazine a story in which setting 
is almost lacking; copy the few touches that you find, and discuss 
in class the different methods used in these extracts. 

3. Study carefully the use of setting in a story by one of the 
following authors: Mary Wilkins-Freeman; Sarah Orne Jewett; 
Ambrose Bierce; W. W. Jacobs; Arthur Morrison; Joseph Conrad; 
Rudyard Kipling. 

4. Outline a plot in which setting is used as machinery. You 
may use one of the following situations: 

(1) An explorer in an unknown country; 

(2) A sea-captain in a fog; 

(3) A murderer in a haunted house; 

(4) An inventor who cannot solve his problem. 

5. Write in about 500 words a story on the general plan of The 
Piece of String, using to explain your characters some setting with 
which you are familiar. 


Good dialogue is not a realistic report of real conversation; 
it is conversation telescoped one sentence made to serve 
where a dozen might be used in life : 

"Tis Easter Day," said Mrs. McCree. 
"Scramble mine," said Danny. 0. Henry. 

These five words tell us all we need to know about Danny's 
attitude toward Easter. 

The secret of dialogue is to find the speeches that are at 
once dynamic in the action and characteristic of the speakers, 
and to make these as true to life as possible. Mere trivial 
talk, however photographically accurate, only dilutes the 

The chief device for securing naturalness is the elliptical 
sentence. Here is a scrap of talk between two friends : 


"Got a cigar; try one!" 



This is the way people talk. If you complete the sentences* 
you get book-talk at once. 

In the following bit of dialogue are concentrated a sum- 
mary of events that preceded the story, a foreshadowing 
of the development of the plot, and characterization of the 
two speakers: 

"Yes," said Roger, "she's a good-lookin' woman, that wife of 
Soames's. I'm told they don't get on." 

" She'd no money," replied Nicholas. 

"What was her father?" 

"Heron was his name, a Professor, so they tell me." 
Roger shook his head. 
"There's no money in that," he said. 
"They say her mother's father was cement." 
Roger's face brightened. 
"But he went bankrupt," went on Nicholas. 
"Ah," exclaimed Roger, "Soames will have trouble with her; 
you mark my words, he'll have trouble. " Galsworthy 

In a dramatic climax, the emotional effect is enormously 
intensified by condensed dialogue; words interfere. The fol- 
lowing passage is an extreme instance of laconic speech under 
strong emotion: 

"Did you fire?" the sergeant whispered. 


"At what?" 

"A horse. It was standing on yonder rock pretty far out. 
You see it's no longer there. It went over the cliff." 

The man's face went white, but he showed no other sign of emo- 
tion. Having answered, he turned away his eyes and said no more. 
The sergeant did not understand. 

"See here, Druse," he said after a moment's silence, "it's no 
use making a mystery. I order you to report. Was there anybody 
on the horse? " 



"My father." 


The sergeant rose to his feet and walked away. "Good God!" 
he said. Ambrose Bierce. 

The man had been compelled by his duty as sentry to shoot 
his own father. 

The general rule for brevity, however, must yield when 
necessary to the demands of characterization. If a speaker is 
wordy or formal, his sentences must show it. 

Illiteracy, slang, and dialect should be suggested by a 
touch here and there, rather than reproduced in detail. An 
elaborate reproduction may be obscure, or even unintelligible; 
and the difficulty of making it out lessens the reader's in- 
terest. If you read the plays of J. M. Synge, you will see 
how well Irish modes of speech can be suggested by the mere 
arrangement of sentences and the occasional use of an Irish 
word or idiom; the elaborate misspelling affected by some 
writers is unnecessary and disturbing. 

To get material for dialogue, you must listen to conversa- 
tion wherever you go. It is a good plan to have a notebook, 
and to take down from memory, verbatim, if possible, in- 
teresting talk. To learn how to choose and to condense for 
the purpose, you must read widely and closely the work of 
expert writers. O. Henry is admirable in this respect, 
except that his slang is now out of date. E. F. Benson, in his 
Dolly Dialogues, is especially good for repartee. 

The advice is often given to avoid the continual use of said, 
and long lists of synonyms are suggested. The remedy sug- 
gested is worse than the disease; some magazine writers to- 
day represent their characters as distorting their features and 
their speech in a continual process of snapping, droning, hiss- 
ing, flashing, blurting, chirping, tittering, whining, yawning, 
etc. Such words are occasionally useful, but they soon at- 
tract attention to themselves. It is well to keep the verb 
of saying unobtrusive; and when there are only two speakers, 
to introduce it only at intervals to keep the order of the 
speakers clear. 



1. In one of the stories that you have read recently, study the 
dialogue in detail. Discuss whether it might be cut to advantage 
here and there; show where it furthers the plot, and where it char- 
acterizes. Study the use of said and other introductory words. 

2. Make a list from current magazines of stories in which slang, 
dialect, and bad English are a feature. Discuss in class the current 
use and abuse of these features. 

3. Take down verbatim an overheard conversation. In class 
discuss how it would have to be altered for use in a story. 


The title should awaken curiosity or interest, and lead 
people to read the story; this is the only essential require- 
ment. It should also suggest the emotional tone of the 
story; the reader in quest of amusement does not wish to be 
misled into reading tragedy. As a rule, it is well to have a 
short title; yet The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. 
Hyde overcame this handicap by its suggestion of mystery. 
Again, a title should be easily pronounced and remembered; 
yet the magazine which aims to meet the taste of the average 
man published The Brachycephalic Bohunkus, which probably 
succeeded by going to the opposite extreme, being for the 
ordinary man almost unpronounceable and quite meaningless. 

The one quality to be avoided is tameness, literalness, 
commonplaceness. The Love Story of Lily Gray, Gwen- 
dolen's Romance, A Tale of Love and War titles of this 
type suggest nothing. On the other hand, the name of the 
hero or heroine may supply a good title if the name itself is 
suggestive of a distinct type of character; such names as 
Charles Harris or Clara Cobb would not excite much interest. 


1. Criticize the following titles: The Lady or the Tiger?; Orgeas and 
Miradou; The Bottle Imp; Marjorie Daw; The Silent In/are; The 


Bounty-Jumper; Miss Willett; Xingu; The Revolt of "Mother"; 

Making Port; "Ice Water PI "; Half -past Ten; Life; The Gate of 

a Hundred Sorrows; The Weaver who Clad the Summer; Little Souls; 
Strictly Business; A Municipal Report; While the Auto Waits; The 
Theory and the Hound; Suite Homes and their Romances; Sociology 
in Serge and Straw; A Newspaper Story; A Matter of Mean Elevation; 

Supers; Heart of Youth; In Borrowed Plumes; T. B.; Whose Dog f; 

Penance; The Boarded Window; Cain's Atonement; By Water; The 
Courting of Dinah Shadd; "They"; The Tragedy of a Comic Song; 
An Elaborate Elopement. 

2. Examine half a dozen current magazines and list the titles 
which you consider most successful. Discuss these in class. 


1. Invent a plot from the following suggestions: 

(1) A clerk begins after dinner to tell his wife about a new suit 
that the manager is wearing. He goes to the drugstore to buy a 
five-cent cigar, and is gone half an hour. When he returns, he 
finishes his sentence by saying that it is a pepper-and salt mixture. 
In the half hour he has had an Arabian Nights adventure. 

(2) A well-dressed girl and a quiet-looking young man meet in 
the park and become acquainted by accident. She refers to her 
automobile waiting round the corner; he confesses that he works in 
the restaurant across the street. When she rises to go, he wishes to 
escort her to her car, but she bids him not follow her. Work out a 
plot introducing a surprise. After you have finished, read O. Henry's 
While the Auto Waits. 

2. Develop the following to its logical outcome. There should 
be three more meetings with people, each involving a change of 
procedure, and the last should be a climax of absurdity: 


It was old Pat and young Paddy who were driving their donkey 
Bran along the muddy road to Limerick market. Old Pat hobbled 
hard, being weak in the joints, and young Paddy limped with a sore 
foot, but Bran was as plump as a sack of wheat, and as fine a creature 
as ever four hoofs took to market. 

Presently they met an old tramp with his little red bundle on 
his shoulder, plodding from workhouse to workhouse. Says he, 
"The like of that I for one never saw! A weak old man and a limp- 
ing young man, and between the two of them an able-bodied beast 
with his nose in the air!" 


"I never thought of that before," says old Pat; and he hoisted 
himself on Bran's back, and the three of them went on peaceably 

3. Write a 500-word story about one of the following situations: 

(1) An old bachelor who has found a baby on his doorstep; 

(2) A woman who decides one day to tell the truth and the whole 
truth to everybody whom she meets; 

(3) A literary man who is so absent-minded that he forgets to buy 
clothes when he needs them and never knows what he is wearing; 

(4) One of your own invention. 

4. Discuss in class various ways of developing a story from the 
following situation, and write in 500 words the one that appeals to 

On the pavement in front of the brilliantly lighted entrance to a 
theater, a young man stood watching the playgoers as they streamed 
out. Many of them returned his stare with interest, not so much 
because he was tall and distinguished in appearance, though he 
would have attracted attention anywhere, as because he was wearing 
a long coat of priceless sables. 

Turning abruptly, he almost knocked over a wretched-looking 
woman with a baby in her arms. 

"Oh, sir," she gasped, as he steadied her to keep her from falling, 
"you couldn't help a poor woman, could you? I haven't a penny 
in the world!" 

"No, I can't" said he pleasantly. "That's my case exactly." 


OF the innumerable people who go to the theater, very few 
have any clear understanding of what a play is, or how it is 
presented, or how it is constructed. 

In its purpose every play is expository; it explains, through 
the medium of real men and women moving and talking on 
a stage which imitates as closely as possible an actual scene, 
the working of some principle in human life. The phrasing 
of this particular principle in the case of each play constitutes 
the theme of the play. All tragic themes are drawn from that 
aspect of life which shows a person, usually of a strong, 
heroic type, in battle either with external forces people or 
circumstances or with opposing elements in his own nature, 
or with both. Melodrama is not drawn from life at all; but 
its themes all grow out of the false philosophy that right 
always conquers wrong. The themes of comedy are drawn 
from every non-tragic aspect of life; they include all sorts 
of principles found in the development of character, in the 
various relationships of life; they cannot be reduced to a 
single philosophy, unless it be that all complications and en- 
tanglements are capable of a happy solution. In comedy 
proper, the complications are closely associated with char- 
acter presented realistically, romantically, satirically, hu- 
morously but in farce, the extreme form of comedy, the 
entanglement is always due to circumstances, and the treat- 
ment is purely comic. 

In its process the play may be described as syncopated 
narration narration in which the thread of the story is 
carried on by means of the dialogue itself, together with the 


facial expressions, gestures, and actions of the persons on the 
stage. This you will see at once by turning to a modern 
play intended to be read as well as acted; there you will find 
among the stage directions long passages of narration and 
description, which serve to link the speeches together. Such 
passages are not needed in an acted play, where the make-up 
and acting do the work of narration and description. The 
stage directions of Bernard Shaw, Granville Barker, John 
Galsworthy, Sir James Barrie, and their followers, contain 
so much narrative and descriptive material as almost to de- 
mand a special name as a new type of writing. 

The theme of a play is explained by means of plot. Dra- 
matic plot, like plot in narration which is not syncopated, 
consists of a series of unstable situations which pass through 
various changes but come to rest only at the end of the last 
act. The material, however, for dramatic plot, is somewhat 
strictly limited by practical considerations; many settings 
are impossible even with all the ingenious mechanical con- 
trivances known to-day; too many changes of scene and too 
long lapses of time disconcert and confuse the audience; and 
too many characters have the same effect. Dramatic plot 
must be concentrated; it cannot often successfully concern 
more than twenty people, and it usually works with less than 
a dozen; it changes the scene often enough to give variety, 
but avoids too much geographical swing. A play that moves 
half round the world in its scenes must have some source of 
strong interest to counterbalance its geographical distrac- 

The drama in its prime under Queen Elizabeth organized 
its plots in such a way that modern criticism has summed 
them up as consisting of five distinct acts, which correspond 
roughly to five distinct dramatic movements: 

1. The introduction, in which the exposition of the un- 
stable situation out of which the others grow is set forth. 

2. The rise of the action in which something has happened 


to change the opening situation, and we see the conflict (in 
the tragedy) or the complication (in the comedy) under way. 
The event that precipitates the rise is sometimes called the 
inciting force. 

3. The climax the moment of strain or complication 
in which the audience feels the death-grip of the antagonists 
in the tragedy, or the complete mystification or despair of 
solution in the comedy. It is the moment before the move- 
ment toward the tragic or the happy ending is initiated. 

4. The fall, the movement of the play toward its tragic 
or happy solution. Sometimes in tragedy this is held back 
for a moment called the final suspense for the purpose of 
gaining momentary relief and momentum toward a swift 
tragic conclusion. 

5. The conclusion, the situation of temporary stability 
(or in tragedy final stability) at which the play is stopped. 
In comedy this is also called the resolution, the denouement, 
or untying of the knot. 

It is not to be supposed that these movements usually 
correspond exactly to the five acts of the play. The Intro- 
duction may be very short, and the rise begin early in Act I; 
the fall may begin in Act III; and other variations occur. 
But in a general way the five acts check off the de- 
velopment of the plot as suggested above. Macbeth is reg- 
ular in its structure: the exposition explains Macbeth 's 
position, and the rise begins in act I, scene iii, in which the 
witches prophesy that he will be king; the climax is reached 
in act III, scene 4 where Banquo is killed; and the fall begins 
with the escape of Fleance in that same scene; the resolution 
comes when Macduff enters with Macbeth's head at the end 
of the last act. 

The second part of a play so constructed is necessarily less 
interesting than the first; after the climax is passed, the 
audience becomes impatient for the end. Consequently, the 
fourth and fifth acts came to be telescoped into one, and the 


four-act play developed. Particularly noticeable is the cut- 
ting at the very end. The long explanations of the old plays 
were first reduced to the assembling of all the characters at 
the last moment; then this was omitted, and to-day they do 
not come together to bow to the audience until after the cur- 
tain has ended the play. 

Besides the four-Act play, arose the three-act play; and 
we have now even two-act plays, while the one-act play has 
become especially popular, several being used together to 
form an evening's entertainment. 

The one-act play is the presentation and resolution of a 
single dramatic crisis. The rise and fall are telescoped; 
there is only the briefest introduction; the whole attention 
of the audience is focussed upon the central situation. Very 
few characters are used sometimes only two or three. The 
setting does not change, and is usually very simple, though 
it may be highly original. 

Characterization in a play proceeds by the same general 
methods as characterization in a story; but they are differ- 
ently applied. Nearly all description is given in stage direc- 
tions. Rarely, one character can be made to describe another. 
The exposition of traits is almost entirely by means of ex- 
pression, gesture, and actions. Habits can be shown by 
personal appearance, dress, all sorts of personal idiosyn- 
crasies, and by the effect produced upon others. Fundamen- 
tal traits are shown by spontaneous words and actions, and 
by response to the words and actions of other characters. 
The chief difficulties in character drawing are in showing 
the action and reaction of two persons upon each other, and 
still keeping them sharply differentiated; in showing the in- 
teractions among a group, and still keeping each member 
distinct; and in showing the development of character as the 
plot develops. This last is possible only when the play covers 
a considerable period of time, and is rarely attempted to any 
elaborate extent to-day. But the exposition of characters in 


relationship is an essential feature of all drama; and in at- 
tempting this, a writer is sure to fail unless he has the power 
of projecting his personality into one character after another 
much as an actor may play one part after another. 

The requirements of setting are that it shall arrange for 
the exits and entrances of a number of people with probability 
and propriety, and for their grouping 6n the stage with an 
effect of reality, and shall provide them scope and materials 
for the various kinds of actions involved in the plot. 

In the play, even more than in the story, it is important 
that every speech should mean something or "get some- 
where" preferably both. In Mr. Shaw's and Mr. Barker's 
plays every speech means something; but a large proportion 
of them do not visibly forward the action. In Mr. Gals- 
worthy's plays, on the other hand, almost every speech 
"gets somewhere" with the plot, and most of the speeches 
interpret character as well. This difference is one of ideal 
rather than of merit; that is, Bernard Shaw cultivates a type 
of drama which is little more than brilliant dialogue, full of 
meaning but almost without movement. This, however, is 
a very different thing from confusing dialogue as the vital part 
of drama with a mere series of conversations on the stage. 
Long, rhetorical, explanatory speeches will doom a good play 
to failure. The dialogue must be highly elliptical, much 
broken up among the characters so that all shall have some- 
thing to say, and dynamic with hints of character and fore- 
shadowings of the development of the action. 

The attempt to write the one-act play is valuable practice 
for the student. It should be preceded by the study of plays 
by successful modern dramatists. The following are par- 
ticularly recommended: 

Galsworthy's Justice and The Silver Box are both long 
plays, but admirable for the study of technique. 

Barrie's Rosalind and The Twelve-Pound Look are one-act 
plays, especially interesting for their characterization and 


humor, and also for their treatment of stage directions. They 
suggest, more than the Galsworthy plays, the way to write 
a play which is to be read as well as acted. 

Lord Dunsany's volume of Five Plays includes both long 
and short plays. They are noteworthy for the suggestive 
bareness of their dialogue. The study of them would tend 
to counteract wordiness. 

Synge's Riders to the Sea and The Shadow of the Glen are 
valuable as showing the possibility of writing poetic drama 
to-day. They can scarcely be imitated; but should prove 
stimulating to efforts in other directions. 

Cannan's Mary's Wedding suggests a simple treatment 
of a subject of strong human appeal. 

If you attempt the one-act play, the following hints may 
be useful: 

1. Try to find a situation of deep emotional appeal or 
obvious humor, which could yet enter into the experience of 
many people. The reading and seeing of plays will cultivate a 
sense for such situations. 

2. Use as few characters as possible. 

3. Keep your setting as simple as possible, but try to in- 
troduce some feature not found in every play. Try to get 
away from the stock properties, at the same time remember- 
ing the limitations of stage carpentry. Draw a plan of your 
stage with its properties, and move pins about on it to show 
the positions of your characters as the play progresses. In 
this way you at once become aware of absurdities. It is 
still better to use dolls in a toy theater. 

4. Remember the power of restraint and the effect of sug- 
gestion. Accomplish as much as you can by means of action; 
let the words be rather the accompaniment than the means of 
transmission in your plot. 

5. Simplicity, originality, and drive, these make a good 
combination. Remember that the audience has paid its 
money, and is waiting to be interested. 


6. Act the play mentally. Conceive yourself to be playing 
each of the parts in turn, and ask yourself: What should I 
say or do now? How should I say it or do it? How should I 
look when I say it or do it? The more you can actually go 
through the external motions, the more likely you are to 
make your characters vivid, and to keep them distinct. 

7. Begin abruptly, and work in your situation clearly 
but as briefly as possible; and end with equal abruptness. Do 
not go beyond your last effective sentence. 


1. After class discussion of plays which have been assigned for 
reading, write in about 100 words a summary of the plot develop- 
ment of the one in which you were most interested. 

2. Make a similar study in about 200 words of the characteriza- 
tion and setting of another. 

3. Compare in about 300 words the dialogue of Shaw, Galsworthy, 
Dunsany, and Synge. 

4. Discuss the possibility of dramatizing The Piece of String. 
Show where the play would be weak and where strong. Decide 
where the scene must be laid, what characters should be used; 
and then see whether you can make a plan that will overcome the 
dramatic difficulties. Do not attempt to write the play. 

5. Write on a subject of your own choosing a one-act play which 
can be given in about 15 minutes. If you cannot develop it, make 
full notes for the plot, setting, characters, and suggestions for 
dialogue. Do not forget that stage directions are necessary and 
must be explicit. 


1. PLAN 

THE kind of writing which, aside from letters, most of you 
will practise is the short paper, for publication in magazine 
or periodical, for presentation before an audience, or for prac- 
tical use with some committee or individual. In such papers 
the process is almost always fundamentally expository or 
argumentative; but description or narration, or both, ac- 
cording to the nature of the subject, are largely used as 

For convenience of treatment, we shall group such papers 
under three heads: 

1. The Informative Article. 

2. The Essay or Study. 

3. The Propaganda Paper or Speech. 

The first condition of success in a short paper is an outline 
that is a real skeleton of the body of thought presented. The 
degree to which the outline should appear in the finished 
product depends upon the nature of the paper; but the 
process of "thinking through" a subject before attempting 
to write upon it is rarely omitted even, by practised writers. 
The amateur must go further he must set down in outline 
form the movement of his thought from its first step to its 
last; and he must keep this outline before him as he writes. 
If it is easy to make, then the making of it takes almost no 
time, and frequent reference to it keeps the pen from straying 
off the point. If it is difficult to make, then the need for it 
is imperative. 



You began to study outlining in connection with the par- 
agraph, and noted a special application of it in the brief. 
Before beginning to practise writing these different types of 
papers, note and apply the following suggestions; 

1. Always complete your outline before you begin to write. 

2. Refer to your outline at every step of the thought. 
Otherwise, why should you have gone to the trouble of mak- 
ing it? 

3. Do not hesitate to revise it if, as you write, your thinking 
suggests a better organization. 

4. Always keep your outline and your paper in harmony. 
Your paper will not be as good as it might be if you neglect 
to reconstruct your outline whenever you see a better way 
of developing your subject; or if, having an admirable out- 
line, you allow your paragraphs to drift away from it. 

5. For a paper of 1000 words or less, carry your outline 
into such detail that it shows the subordination of subheads 
down to the single paragraph. Unless you do this, you will 
almost certainly have momentary aberrations of thought 
which produce paragraphs like excrescences, out of all pro- 
portion to the main trend of thought, or not belonging to it 
at all. 

6. In your outline express the relationships of heads and 
subheads by letters and figures that show at a glance which 
parts of the subject are parallel and of equal importance, 
and which are subordinate. The main mechanical feature is 
that headings of the same grade should be indicated through- 
out the outline in the same manner. For example, it would 
be very confusing to mark your first main head with an A 
and your second with the Roman numeral II, or your second 
subhead with b and your third with 3. A simple and clear 
method of indicating the relationships of the parts of an out- 
line is the following: (Note that the analysis is very incom- 
plete, and that the analysis of only one subhead is fully 



A. News matter 

I. News items 

a. Foreign 

b. National 

c. Domestic, but not local 

d. Local 

1. Crimes 

2. Accidents 

3. Political events 

4. Social events 

5. Meetings of organizations, etc. 

6. Church events 

7. Amusements,etc. 

II. Special articles 

a. Interviews 

b. Expanded news items 
III. Criticisms 

a. Books 

b. Drama and moving pictures 

c. Music 

d. Art 

IV. Advice columns 

a. Health 

b. Physical culture 

c. Cooking 

d. Fashions 

e. Investments, etc. 
V. Correspondence 

VI. Editorials 
B. Advertisements 

I. Display (analyzed) 
H. Class (analyzed) 

III. Disguised 


Under A, I subhead d is analyzed rather than a, b, or c 
because these necessarily vary widely from day to day. 
Crimes can be subdivided into Murder, Robbery, Theft, Arson, 
etc., making another set of subheads to be marked (a), (b), 
(c), etc. 

There should never be a single subhead. If you have an 
apple, you either keep it whole, or cut into two or more parts; 
and so you should deal w r ith a subject. The habit of writing 
a single subhead grows out of loose thinking jotting down 
detached memoranda as a basis for a paper, without giving 
due care to their exact relationship. 

As a short paper may include two, three, or even all four 
of the processes of writing, your outline may show a similar 
variety; that is, it may, perhaps, not be constructed on the 
principle of time alone, t>r of place alone, or of reason alone, 
but on several of these principles combined and shown by the 
form of the outline itself to stand in vital relationship to one 
another and to the subject. 

There is no better way to learn how to organize material 
in a paper than to study tables of contents of short and well- 
organized text-books in science and history. It is a good plan 
even to copy several of these* of different types, with great 
care to reproduce the exact organization of heads and sub- 
heads. More difficult but also more valuable is practice in 
reproducing the outlines on which successful published 
articles have been constructed. 

Two mechanical points should be mentioned in regard to 
the outline: 

1. A single capital beginning the first word is sufficient to 
distinguish the heads, and no punctuation mark is needed at 
the end. The indention should advance gradually to the 

2. The heads may be expressed either topically or in sen- 
tences; but as it is easier to make parallel topics than to 
construct parallel sentences, it is perhaps well at first to use 


the topic form as far as it is practicable. When sentences 
are necessary, as in the brief, great care should be taken to 
construct them in parallel form, as any variation tends to 
obscure the thought relation. All heads and subheads pre- 
ceded by the same type of letter or numeral should be in the 
same form. 


1. Examine the tables of contents of six standard text-books, 
preferably in science or history, and copy the table which seems to 
you most satisfactory as an analysis. Discuss these tables in class, 
and suggest improvements where you can. 

2. Examine the current number of some magazine and classify 
the expository papers under the heads: informative article and 
essay. Read one paper of each kind, and make notes on its matter 
and manner to be used in class discussion. Try to make clear to 
yourself and to the class how the purpose in each case has affected 
the writing. The most valuable periodicals for your purpose are: 
The Atlantic Monthly, the Outlook, the Independent, the Nation, the 
New Republic, the Unpopular Review, the Saturday Evening Post. 

3. Outline the papers chosen for study. 

4. Examine an article in a scientific or other technical journal, 
and compare its organization of subject-matter with the types of 
organization found in the preceding cases. 

5. Decide for which kind of publication each of the following 
subjects would be available, throwing out those that do not seem 
to you worth while on any basis. If the same subject could be 
treated for both types of journals, explain how: 

The Freshman's Freshness; Latest Developments in Aeroplanes; 
How I Typewrite; Getting Up Early; The Serbian; Life on a Sub- 
marine; What the Morning Mail May Do to You; Labor Unions 
and Patriotism; How Women Sharpen Pencils; Knowledge is Power; 
Things I Love Not to Do; A New Mechanical Device to Help the 
Blind; A Federal Inheritance Tax; Gothic Architecture; Palmis- 
try; What the Irish Want; Are the French as a Nation Gay; The 
Dictaphone; Protective Coloring in College; What is a Gentle- 
man; How Wireless Telegraphy Works; How to Pack a Trunk; 
My Six-by-Eight City Garden; System in the Kitchen; The Life of 
the Glowworm; Did Shakespeare Ever Visit Italy; On Shaking 
Hands; The Round Tower at Newport; How I Concentrate. 


6. Following the plan of the newspaper outline partly developed 
in this section make a complete outline of the News section of the 
paper that you read; then make a full outline of the Advertisement 

7. Choose the five subjects in 5 which seem to you most prom- 
ising and indicate in a general way how you would proceed to out- 
line them. Make a complete outline of one. 


The informative article is the simplest use of exposition; 
its only purpose is to organize the scattered facts about any 
subject, and to present them in such a way that they will 
instruct in an interesting manner a certain class of readers. 
Its method is entirely objective. 

For this kind of article there are three conditions of success : 

1. A subject about which there is real popular curiosity; 

2. Careful adaptation of the subject to the intelligence, 
state of knowledge, and interests of the readers for whom it 
is intended; 

3. Organization that will ensure proper understanding of 
the material. 

A brisk style, a feeling for picturesque incident, a sense of 
humor, are all useful but not essential. 

Since popular curiosity is molded largely by current events 
as these are reflected in the newspapers and magazines, prob- 
ably the best way to learn to choose material for a paper of 
this kind is to form the habit of noticing what is written 
about in the best magazines by frequently looking at the 
tables of contents even when you have no time to read the 
articles; and by following the newspapers so closely that when 
they present a subject that has not yet appeared in the mag- 
azines you notice the novelty at once. Of course all this will 
not help you unless you either have or can get special knowl- 
edge of the subject you wish to write about. Special knowl- 
edge does not mean necessarily new information although 


this is usually the most valuable; it may mean bringing to 
light new relationships between old facts or pointing out in- 
teresting but neglected connections. For instance, if a 
living specimen of a supposed extinct species of birds is found 
in a remote part of the world, an article summing up what has 
been known hitherto about the type may be timely, although 
it will not have the value of the article written by the dis- 
coverer of the bird. 

In general, it may be said that popular interest runs in 
waves, and it is well to keep ahead of the crest of the wave. 
Before the War, for some years much was written about 
political graft and the corruption of high finance, about 
social problems, housing conditions, loan sharks, etc. The 
War introduced an entirely new set of interests and problems, 
not merely in connection with the actual fighting, but con- 
cerning living conditions in various countries of Europe, 
and especially concerning problems of our own national wel- 
fare. There will of course be new phases in connection with 
reconstruction; and the writer of popular articles must vie 
with the journalist in looking ahead. It is a good plan to keep 
a changeable list of subjects that occupy the public attention, 
crossing them off as they grow out of date or are over- 

The next step is to determine what aspect of the general 
subject in which people are interested you are fitted to deal 
with. Let us assume a few possibilities. If you are ac- 
quainted with some one who becomes famous, or with a place 
that is brought before the public eye for some interesting 
occurrence, chance has given you special knowledge which 
can be used to advantage. 

Suppose, for example, you undertake to write on one of 
the following subjects: 

Luncheon with Lloyd George; 

Fighting in the High Alps as I Saw it; 

Is Frederick the Great Responsible for the War? 


How can special knowledge be adapted to readers? Certain 
eliminations suggest themselves at once : 

1. You must not tell them what they know already, partly 
because they would be bored, and partly because, from the 
very nature of your subject, such material would be irrelevant; 
as, for instance, if you should include an account of the 
geography of the Alps in your account of mountain fighting; 
of the campaigns of Frederick the Great in your paper on his 
influence; of the familiar events in the career of Lloyd George 
in your impression of him derived from a luncheon, and so on. 

2. Nor, on the other hand, must you include abstruse or 
technical knowledge of such things as geological theories, or 
elaborate statistics. Maps, like pictures, may add to the 
intelligibility as well as the interest of your paper. 

3. In such a paper as we are discussing, you must shut out 
argument. Your business is merely to present your material. 
Your reader for the moment is depending upon your judgment 
to give him reliable information in such a way that he has 
nothing to do but absorb it. 

So much on the negative side. On the positive, try to 
make your explanation as concrete as possible. This you can 
do in several ways: 

1. You can use examples; but your illustrations must be 
taken from the phases of life with which most people are 
familiar, or they may be a hindrance rather than a help. 

2. You can use all the methods of narration and descrip- 
tion freely in developing your examples. In this connection, 
humorous or picturesque anecdote with dialogue is partic- 
ularly useful. 

On what principle shall this material be organized? Here 
again the audience must be the first consideration. How*ever 
the subject naturally divides itself, it should be so arranged 
that the first item in the plan rouses the reader's interest 
enough to secure his attention. Sometimes reference to the 
incident which attracted public attention to the matter and 


which caused the writing of the article, is a good way to begin; 
sometimes a thrilling episode, as in an account of the moun- 
tain fighting; sometimes a statement that sounds incredible, 
as, for instance, "It was Frederick the Great, dead in 1786, 
who plunged the world into war in 1914 "; sometimes an asser- 
tion of mistaken views rouses curiosity as to how they will 
be corrected, as, for instance, a totally wrong impression of 
Lloyd George, and so on. By the exercise of a little ingenu- 
ity, a good point of departure can always be found; and 
when found will help to determine the other main heads of 
the paper. 

In making such an outline, students are often told to or- 
ganize the principal divisions as: introduction, body, con- 
clusion. To this advice there are objections. One is that 
the introduction and conclusion, so planned, will in many 
cases be, not vital parts of the paper at all, but simply 
appendages tacked on because their presence is believed to 
be necessary. This disjointed effect can be avoided by look- 
ing for a principle that will articulate your first main head 
with your second, and suggest the trend of the whole paper. 
Why did I say that Frederick caused the War? Because 
he ... and because he . . .; the principle is cause and 
effect. Were you interested in that newspaper story of the 
carrier pigeons? Well, I can tell you another . . . and 
another . . . and another . . .; the principle is exemplifica- 
tion. Did you suppose, as I did, that Lloyd George is thus- 
and-so? But he is really quite the opposite; contrast. 
How do I know? Because he said . . . and he acted . . .; 
cause and effect. Thus the paper grows naturally and or- 
ganically from its point of departure to its last word. 

For a magazine article or a paper to be read before an 
audience you should try to keep the bones of the skeleton 
from sticking through its skin. It is better to let them show 
than to have no bones; but people in general prefer to see 
skeletons covered. In a paper the best way to hide the bony 


structure is by the ease and variety of your transitions; that 
is, by not allowing each new point to stick out at the begin- 
ning of a paragraph, but by sometimes placing it within the 
paragraph. This method appears in the following opening 
paragraphs of an article in which the fundamental ideas are 
italicized; you will thus see at a glance how far they are from 
betraying the structure of the paper by the first words of 
each paragraph: 

Ever since that fateful August of 1914 the hopes of humanity 
have been centered each year upon the springtime, and now again 
all the peoples of this war-torn world are looking forward to the 
end of the winter. For within the new year, upon the threshold of 
which we now stand, war mil have become a game of a different na- 
ture, played to new rules, because of a new and dominating element 
introduced into it. 

The bitter experience of all the belligerent countries during these 
three years of the greatest of all struggles has taught that seven- 
tenths of the problems of modern war are industrial; that humming 
factories and greasy workers, as well as fighting men, are involved. 
Rifles, shells, big guns, motor vehicles these and a thousand and 
one other munition items all must be rushed in a never-ending 
stream to the fronts. 

But now the great plants in all warring countries are humming a 
new tune stronger, more inspiring, more deadly even than before; 
and if peace can come only through the making of war utterly in- 
tolerable for the enemy, this new threat of coming destruction must 
surely hasten the end. In Great Britain, in France, in Italy, in 
Germany and in the United States, hundreds of thousands of men and 
women workers are being feverishly taught a new art; for to those men 
who control the destinies of the world through its armies has come 
the realization of an imminent and momentous change in warfare's 
strategy. Howard E. Coffin. 

In a formal report it is desirable to make the organization 
of the paper obvious. It may even be stated as a purpose in 
an introductory paragraph, and summarized in a concluding 

Beyond doubt, the only satisfactory way to learn how to 
make an outline and then conceal it is by the careful analysis 


of many well-constructed articles, followed by the noting 
underlining, even of the various methods of accomplishing 
transition of thought from paragraph to paragraph. 

With material and organization in hand, the only remaining 
part of the task is to keep moving; to move in as straight- 
forward and brisk and vivid a way as you can; to make your 
sentences short enough to make the movement of them felt; 
to use as short words as are consistent with the nature of your 
subject; and never for a moment to forget: "I am not writing 
this to please myself. For whom am I writing? Will they 
understand this? Will they like this? Do they already 
know this? What more will they wish to know?" 

In this attitude of mind anyone can learn to write an in- 
teresting paper on any subject about which he has something 
special to say. 


1. Make a list from the magazines suggested on p. 339 above of 
all the principal informative articles in the current number, and 
check those which seem to you most likely to meet with popular 
approval. Be prepared to defend your opinions in class. 

2. Try to find one or more subjects for articles from several issues 
of a newspaper; and bring to class suggestions for treating these 
subjects. Outline in writing one about which you already have 
some special knowledge, leaving gaps where your knowledge ends, 
but indicating how these gaps may be filled when you have looked 
up the subject. 

3. Criticize the possibilities of the following general subjects 
for informative articles. Wherever you can, limit one so that it 
could be used for such a purpose. State the magazine for which 
you think each article would be suited: 

Municipal Government in England and in America; How to 
Make Alfalfa Pay; How to Play Golf; The Balkans; The Latest 
Uses of Electricity; The Districts of Russia; Vocational Training; 
How Aeroplanes are Made; Finding Jobs for Crippled Soldiers; 
Waste; Atlantic Harbors; How Incriminating Documents are Hid- 
den at the Customs; How Switzerland Keeps Neutral; How the 
War Has Helped Women; Patriotism; Transportation; Carrier- 
Pigeons; The Wireless Telephone in the Aeroplane. 


4. Make a careful abstract of less than 300 words of an article 
in which you were especially interested. Then without looking 
at the article again, try to reproduce it as nearly as you can. Aim 
to get in all the ideas; and do not hesitate to use the examples and 
details if you remember them. Either choose an article of less than 
1000 words, or make your reproduction to scale so that 1000 words 
is your limit. When your paper is finished, compare it with the 
original, and correct it in two ways: Where you have distorted the 
ideas, make them right; where you have quoted the exact words of 
the original, whether consciously or unconsciously, insert quotation 
marks unless you had already done so. 

5. Make a careful outline of another short article in which you 
are interested, and copy the first two or three paragraphs enough 
to give you a good start; then with your outline, finish the article 
in as nearly as possible the author's spirit. Later, correct the ideas, 
and give credit for quotations as before. 

6. The following newspaper clippings suggest material for in- 
formative articles. Choose the one that interests you especially 
and work it up in 300 words or more. The statements may be 
wrong, or the plans may be impracticable; if so, your article should 
be an exposition of the error: 

(1) Absolute proof that the gravitational attraction between 
masses of matter varies with changes in their electrical potential 
due to electrical changes upon them has been obtained by Dr. 
Francis E. Nipher in a year of experiments in the laboratory of 
Washington university, St. Louis. It is said that Dr. Nipher has 
succeeeed in reversing the law of gravity. 

(2) NEW ORLEANS, La. New Orleans' climate is changing. 
Since 1900 it has risen 8 degrees in summer and dropped 4 degrees 
in winter. Dr. I. M. Cline, district forecaster of the weather bureau, 
is authority for the statement. 

(3) The ideal schoolhouse for any American city is one that will 
grow with the community. As it was only in the clays of fairy 
stories, however, that houses could enlarge and shrink at will, 
something modern must be devised. Fresno, Cal., believes that 
in her two new school buildings she has not only devised something 
quite novel, but that the long felt need for both an elastic and open 
air school plan has at last been solved. 

(4) Birds in their relation to conservation and agricultural in- 

(5) The making of candies is not ordinarily considered a fine 
art, but the Italians have made it such. 

(6) Productive mining in Alaska began in 1880, and it is esti- 
mated that since that time mineral wealth has been produced to 


the value of more than $200,000,000. The products of the fisheries 
are valued at more than $20,000,000 a year and those of fur bearing 
animals also have considerable value. 

(7) LONDON. It is announced here that a group of New York 
financiers have acquired the patent rights for the manufacture of a 
triplex glass for war purposes. 

(8) Vilhjalinur Stefansson, the explorer, now in the arctic, plans 
to come "outside" next fall and return to the polar region with a 
new expedition in 1920. 

(9) Dr. F. C. Brown of the University of Iowa is the inventor of 
the instrument, which consists of a lens placed at one end of an 
oblong box, the box containing selenium crystals so disposed that 
the rays of light concentrated by the lens fall upon them. An 
electric current is passed through the selenium, the conductive 
power of which varies according to the intensity of the light. By 
means of the current, musical tones are produced corresponding 
to its variations occasioned by the changing conductivity of the 

When the box is passed over a printed page, so that the lens is 
related to the type impression, each letter produces its own tone, 
and these varying tones are communicated to the blind reader 
through telephone transmitters. By actual experiment it has been 
demonstrated that blind persons after a few trials can readily dis- 
tinguish the different letters, and some are able to spell out whole 
words. It is believed that the average student could learn to read 
with facility in two months' time. 

7. Write a 300-word sketch similar to the following on (1) the 
celebration of some picturesque festival with which you are familiar, 
or (2) some art or craft work observed by you in the process, or 
(3) the working of some new type of machine. 


"Decorations, illuminations, street displays of every sort, but 
especially those of holy days, compose a large part of the pleasures 
of city life which all can share. The appeals thus made to aesthetic 
fancy at festivals represent the labor, perhaps, of tens of thousands 
of hands and brains; but each individual contributor to the public 
effort works according to his particular thought and taste, even 
while obeying old rules, so that the total ultimate result is a won- 
drous, a bewildering, an incalculable variety. Anybody can con- 
tribute to such an occasion; and everybody does, for the cheapest 
material is used. Paper, straw, or stone makes no real difference; 
the art sense is superbly independent of the material. What shapes 
that material is perfect comprehension of something natural, some- 
thing real. Whether a blossom made of chicken feathers, a clay 


turtle or duck or sparrow, a pasteboard cricket or mantis or frog, 
the idea is fully conceived and exactly realized. Spiders of mud 
seem to be spinning webs; butterflies of paper delude the eye. No 
models are needed to work from; or rather, the model in every 
case is only the precise memory of the object or living fact. I 
asked at a doll-maker's for twenty tiny paper dolls, each with a 
different coiffure, the whole set to represent the principal Kyoto 
styles of dressing women's hair. A girl went to work with white 
paper, paint, paste, thin slips of pine; and the dolls were finished 
in about the same time that an artist would have taken to draw a 
similar number of such figures. The actual time needed was only 
enough for the necessary digital movements, not for correcting, 
comparing, improving: the image in the brain realized itself as fast 
as the slender hands could work. Thus most of the wonders of 
festival nights are created: toys thrown into existence with a twist 
of the fingers, old rags turned into figured draperies with a few 
motions of the brush, pictures made with sand." Lafcadio Hearn. 

8. You may or may not agree with the ideas of the passage quoted 
below; in this exercise you are merely asked to develop them as 
nearly as possible along the original lines, but in your own phrasing 
and with your own illustrations. You may quote as much as you 
please, provided that you indicate quotation. Write a thousand 
word paper for such a magazine as Good Housekeeping, for example, 
entitling it The Simplification of Life. 

"... People as a rule, being extremely muddle-headed about 
life, are under a fixed impression that the more they can acquire 
and accumulate in any department, the 'better off' they will be, 
and the better times they will have. Consequently when they walk 
down the street and see nice things in the shop windows, instead 
of leaving them there, if they have any money in their pockets, 
they buy them and put them on their backs or into their mouths, 
or in their rooms and round their walls; and then, after a time, 
finding the result not very satisfactory, they think they have not 
bought the right things, and so go out again and buy some more. 
And they go on doing this in a blind habitual way till at last their 
bodies and lives are as muddled up as their brains are, and they can 
hardly move about or enjoy themselves for the very multitude of 
their possessions, and impediments, and duties, and responsibilities, 
and diseases connected with them. 

" The origin of this absurd conduct is of course easy to see. It is 
what the scientific men call an 'atavism.' In the case of most of 
us, our ancestors, a few generations back, were no doubt actually 
in want (and if one goes far enough this is true of everybody) 
in want of sufficient food or sufficient clothing. Consequently it 


became a fixed 'principle' in those days, when you saw a chance, 

to accumulate as much as you could 

Savages when they come across a good square meal 

, , . The gratification of fixed ideas, unlike the gratification of a 
living need, seems to be a kind of mechanical thing, supposed 
to be necessary, but certainly burdensome, and bringing little 
enjoyment with it. And progress. . . . 

"There are different ways of dealing with this question of Ac- 
cumulation, which so harasses modern life. The first may be called 
the method of Thoreau. . . . 

"Personally I like to have a few things of beauty about me; 
and as it happens that I dust and clean out my room myself, I know 
exactly how much trouble each thing in it is, and whether the 
trouble is compensated by the pleasure. . . . 

"... But now there is another class of folk who, experiencing 
the pleasure of having certain possessions, are not willing to undergo 
the labor of keeping them in order. . . . They therefore buy serv- 
ants and attendants to keep the things in order for them. . . . 

"The problem is not escaped. . . . 

"All this, however, does not prove that servants are necessarily 
a mistake. Because you get rid of one idee fixe it does not follow 
that you must enslave yourself to its opposite. . . . 

"Life is an art, and a very fine art. One of its first necessities is 
that you should not have more material in it more chairs and 
tables, servants, houses, lands, bankshares, friends, acquaintances, 
and so forth, than you can really handle. It is no good pretending 
that you are obliged to have them. You must cut that nonsense 
short. . . . 

"It is so much better to be rude to needless acquaintances than 
to feign you like them, and so muddle up both their lives and yours 
with a fraud. 

"In a well-painted picture there isn't a grain of paint which is 
mere material. All is expression. And yet life is a greater art than 
painting pictures. Modern civilized folk are like people sitting 
helplessly in the midst of heaps of paint-cans and brushes and 
ever accumulating more; but when they are going to produce any- 
thing lovely or worth looking at in their own lives, Heaven only 
knows." Edward Carpenter. 

9. Write an outline, then an article of 500-800 words, on some 
subject of your own choosing. Hand in the outline, the rough draft 
of the paper, and the finished draft at the same time. Write on the 
first page of the final draft the name of the magazine for which you 
assume yourself to be writing, together with your reason for choice 
of subject and of magazine. 



The word essay means attempt; the purpose of the essay 
is not to collect and summarize facts, but to interpret them. 
It may deal with any sort of subject; but as a rule is not con- 
cerned with science. It turns rather to the criticism of art 
in all its forms, including literature; to the observation and 
interpretation of Nature, including animal life; to the ob- 
servation and interpretation of human nature, manners, 
morals, customs, and so on; and to the expression of idiosyn- 
crasy in all its forms. 

The art of essay writing lies in being one's self and in being 
interesting. To be one's self requires the cultivation of the 
individualistic as over against the inborn sheep-instinct of 
the human race; to be interesting requires the cultivation of 
the imagination. For neither of these achievements is it 
possible here to give more than a few very general suggestions. 
Clear recognition of the meaning and worth of the ideals 
themselves is the first essential recognition of the power 
that grows out of independent thinking, and of the pleasure 
that accompanies the play of the mind in dealing with all the 
routine, the veriest commonplaces, of life. These ideals 
must be felt; they cannot be communicated by precept. 
They can be realized partly by observation of persons who 
have such ideals, and more easily perhaps certainly at 
first by reading the characters of such personalities through 
their essays their "attempts" at self-expression. 

The word essay has been and is still used to describe the 
kind of writing which we have called "the informative ar- 
ticle"; and there are some essays of which the informative 
purpose clashes with the highly personal method and pro- 
duces a hybrid notably, the essays of Carlyle. But the 
flexibility of thought and ease of expression which mark the 
true essay can be seen to most advantage perhaps in the 
work of Addison and Steele, Lamb, Stevenson, E. V. Lucas, 


Max Beerhohm, S. M. Crothers, who show a happy irre- 
sponsibility in the choice of subject, and are concerned only 
with delight in the play of the mind. 

Beyond this recognition of the ideal, a deliberate effort to 
free the mind from its tendency to passive acceptance of ideas 
merely because other people think them, and to encourage 
it to set up an idea-factory of its own, goes into the making 
of an essayist. And finally, control, if not mastery, of Eng- 
lish is essential. These are hard conditions; but they are 
mitigated in two ways. One is that every effort to meet them 
brings its own reward in mental stimulation, and the other, 
that in the infinite variety of essay material there is usually 
something to appeal to minds of every type. Practice in 
writing informative articles leads to clear thinking and sound 
organization of thought; practice in essay writing leads to 
stimulation of the imaginative processes. 


1. Read for an hour or so at random, as the titles attract you, in 
the essays of one of the following authors, making notes of any kind 
that suggest themselves to you: 

Montaigne, Addison and Steele ( the Spectator and the Toiler), 
Lamb, Stevenson, E. V. Lucas, Max Beerbohm, S. M. Crothers, 
A. C. Benson. Discuss the qualities of these essayists. 

2. Write a paper of 300-500 words, embodying your ideas as to 
the qualities that make an essay worth reading. 

3. Write an essay on Our Clothes. The following extract may 
give you a point of view: 

" If the Greek sculptors were to come to life again and cut us out 
in bas-relief for another Parthenon, they would have to represent us 
shuffling along, heads down and coat-tails flying, splash-splosh a 
nation of umbrellas." Richard Jefferies. 


The value of the Nature study depends much more upon 
the matter than upon the manner. If you love wild life, 


as John Muir, John Burroughs, Richard Jefferies, and W. H. 
Hudson, for example, have loved it, you can scarcely fail 
to write interestingly about it. If you have not the material 
based upon continued, close, and intimate observation, you 
cannot make up for the lack by any method whatever. 

There is no reason, however, why you should not practise, 
with such material as you have observed, the form which a 
Nature study usually takes. It is commonly a tissue of 
narration and description closely intertwined, telling the 
conditions under which observations were made, and the 
results of the observations, together with the author's inter- 
pretations of them. The following passages show the in- 
timate association of the three processes: 

If any one were to get up about half-past five on an August 
morning and look out of an eastern window in the country, he would 
see the distant trees almost hidden by a white mist. The tops of 
the larger groups of elms would appear above it, and by these the 
line of the hedgerows could be traced. Tier after tier they stretch 
along, rising by degrees on a gentle slope, the space between filled 
with haze. Whether there were corn-fields or meadows under this 
white cloud he could not tell a cloud that might have come down 
from the sky, leaving it a clear azure. This morning haze means 
intense heat in the day. It is hot already, very hot, for the sun is 
shining with all his strength, and if you wish the house to be cool 
it is time to set the sunblinds 

Pure color almost always gives the idea of fire, or rather it is 
perhaps as if a light shone through as well as color itself. The 
fresh green blade of corn is like this, so pellucid, so clear and pure 
in its green as to seem to shine with color. It is not brilliant not 
a surface gleam or an enamel, it is stained through. Beside the 
moist clods the slender flags arise filled with the sweetness of the 
earth.' Out of the darkness under that darkness which knows no 
day save when the ploughshare opens its chinks they have come 
to the light. To the light they have brought a color which will 
attract the sunbeams from now till harvest. Richard Jefferies. 

The following passage is chiefly narrative, including much 
description, but its expository purpose is sharply indicated 
in the concluding paragraph: 


So here I waited, crouched at the foot of a clump of lofty bam- 
boos, my light shut off, and realizing as never before, the mystery 
of a tropical jungle at night. A quarter of a mile away, the mag- 
nificent bird was calling at intervals, from just some such place as I 
was in. When my eyes recovered from the glare of the light, I found 
that the jungle was far from dark. The night was moonless and not 
a glimmer of star came through the thick foliage overhead. But 
a thousand shapes of twig and leaf shone dimly with the steady dull 
blue-green phosphorus glow of fox-fire. 

Once a firefly passed through the bamboos a mere shooting star 
amid all these terrestrial constellations. The mould beneath my 
feet might change to peat, or, in future ages, to coal, but even then 
the alchemy of fire would be needed to awaken the imprisoned light. 
Here, from plants still erect, which were blossoming but a short 
month ago, a thousand gleams shone forth, defying the blackness of 

Some small animal passed to windward of me, sniffed, and fled 
at full speed! The wings of a bat or other flying creature whistled 
near, while ever the resonant call of the ocellated bird rang out, 
mocking my helplessness. The firefly could make its way through 
tangle and thorns to the very spot where the bird stood. The small 
four-footed creature of the night could creep noiselessly over dried 
bamboo sheaths until his little eyes marked the swelling throat of 
the calling pheasant. But here was I, with a powerful electric 
light, with the most penetrating of night-glasses, with knowledge 
of savage woodlore, and with human reasoning power; and yet with 
feet shod with noise, with clothing to catch on every thorn a hol- 
low mockery of a 'lord of creation'! 

Again the bird called, and I interpreted its message. The law of 
compensation! I was helpless to reach it, I was degenerate indeed 
in the activities of the primitive jungle-folk, but I thrilled at the 
mysteries of the nocturnal life. My pulse leaped at the wild call 
not from a carnivore's desire for food, or from the startled terror 
of the lesser wilderness people, but because of the human-born 
thirst for knowledge, from the delights of the imagination which 
are for man alone. Williain Beebe. 

If you have the desire to write Nature studies, and feel 
that you have material, you cannot do better than study the 
work of Muir, Burroughs, Jefferies, and Hudson (many of 
his essays are not in volume form, but are reproduced in 


Littell's Living Age). Of younger writers, Long, Roberts, 
William Beebe, and Dallas Lore Sharp may be mentioned. 

What has been said about the Nature study applies also 
to the sketch of travel; but this should rarely be attempted 
except by the expert. 


Choose your own material, and write a 500-word study of some 
aspect of Nature which you yourself have observed. Suggested 
topics are: (1) The Habits of Some Wild Animal; (2) Song of Some 
Bird; (3) Where I go Fishing; (4) Water in a Storm; (5) Tree Move- 
ments in Wind; (6) The Effects of Frost or Sleet on a Landscape; 
(7) The First Wild Flowers; (8) Spring in the City; (9) Different 
Kinds of Rain; (10) The Prairie; (11) The Desert; (12) The Tama- 
rack Swamp; (13) The Dunes; (14) The Habitat of Certain Wild 


Essays of this type are innumerable. They embrace char- 
acter studies, and observations on the customs, manners, 
and morals of society. You can quickly see the range of the 
subject by comparing the tables of contents of the Spectator 
and the Toiler with that of the Contributors' Club in one or 
two bound volumes of the Atlantic or the Point of View in 
Scribner's Magazine or the Editor's Drawer in Harper's. 

Character essays may be written in two ways : by describing 
and explaining the qualities of a class, in the singular or 
plural, as: Bores; The Good-Natured Man; or by embodying 
the qualities of a class in a typical individual, definitely 
localized and named, as: Sir Andrew Freeport, typical city 

The second method is the more difficult and the more in- 
teresting. It is done precisely as a character in fiction is 
developed, except that the person is posed and viewed from 
many angles, but not subject to the evolution of qualities by 
means of a succession of circumstances. The character 


should be presented with all the vividness that can be gained 
from description of surroundings, dress, personal appearance, 
manner, speech, effect upon others, and so on. A familiar 
example is Sir Roger de Coverly. For methods of doing this, 
see p. 214 above. 

The interpretation of the character of a class proceeds 
from a careful analysis of striking qualities, and is interesting 
as a rule only in so far as it succeeds in embodying these in 
lively and amusing incidents, which may be presented as if 
they were incidents in a short story. 

Very similar is the procedure in essays on customs, man- 
ners, or morals; but in so far as the subject is more effective 
in proportion as it is limited to a single striking observation 
for example, on the joy of not getting up in the morning its 
very simplicity demands a play of variety in the choice of 
incident to make the result worth reading. This playing 
round about a single strand of thought is admirably illustrated 
in the following: 

Even to-day, however, there are many fortunate persons who 
are ever awakened by an alarm-clock that watchman's rattle, as 
it were, of Policeman Day. The invention is comparatively recent. 
Without trying to uncover the identity of the inventor, and thus 
adding one more to the Who's Who of Pernicious Persons, we may 
assume that it belongs naturally to the age of small and cheap clocks 
that dawned only in the nineteenth century. Some desire for it 
existed earlier. The learned Mrs. Carter, said Dr. Johnson, " at a 
time when she was eager in study, did not awake as early as she 
wished, and she therefore had a contrivance that, at a certain hour, 
her chamber light should burn a string to which a heavy weight 
was suspended, which then fell with a sudden strong noise: this 
roused her from her sleep, and then she had no difficulty in getting 

This device, we judge, was peculiar to Mrs. Carter, than whom 
a less eager student would have congratulated herself that the 
sudden strong noise was over, and gone sweetly to sleep again. The 
venerable Bishop Ken, who believed that a man "should take no 
more sleep than he can take at once," had no need of it. He got up, 


we are told, at one or two o'clock in the morning " and sometimes 
earlier," and played the lute before putting on his clothes. 

To me the interesting thing about these historic figures is that 
they get up with such elastic promptness, the one to study and 
the other to play the lute. The Bishop seems a shade the more 
eager; but there are details that Mrs. Carter would naturally have 
refrained from mentioning to Dr. Johnson, even at the brimming 
moment when he had just accepted her contribution to the Rambler. 
For most of us or alarm-clocks would not be made to ring con- 
tinuously until the harassed bed-warmer gets up and stops the 
racket this getting out of bed is no such easy matter; and perhaps 
it will be the same when Gabriel's trumpet is the alarm-clock. We 
are more like Boswell, honest sleeper, and have " thought of a pulley 
to raise me gradually"; and then have thought again and realized 
that even a pulley " would give me pain, as it would counteract my 
internal disposition." Let the world go hang, our internal disposition 
is to stay in bed: we cling tenaciously to non-existence or rather, 
to that third state of consciousness when we are in the world but 
not of it. Contributors' Club in the Atlantic Monthly. 

From this you see the wide range of associations that can be 
brought into play to make one idea interesting. Success will 
depend partly upon the truth and universality of appeal of 
the subject, and partly upon the power of the writer to make 
unexpected and delightful if possible, humorous applica- 
tions of incident in the development of it. 


1. Make as long a list as you can in two hours of subjects for 
essays of this type as you have found them in the works of any of the 
essayists mentioned on pp. 350f . or in any others of recognized stand- 
ing; and then supplement this list by five subjects of your own of 
the same general type, which you have not seen developed. 

2. Write a character study in about 300 words of one of the fol- 
lowing types; give your subject a suitable name, describe dress, 
appearance, etc., and quote characteristic speech. If you prefer, 
you may substitute a type of your own: 

The freshman who knows it all; the absent-minded man; the 
woman who must be fashionable; the bargain-hunter; the penny- 
wise; a member of the Bird Club; the janitor; the first violin; the 


telegraph boy; the girl at the ribbon counter; the woman who cannot 
learn golf; the helpful man; the gum-chew er; the cat-lover; the cat- 
hater; the streetcar conductor; the butcher; the policeman; the man 
who hangs about the city hall; the woman in the Pullman dressing- 
room; the baby that cries. 

3. Write the same study or another of the same kind, using a 
different method. 

4. Write about 300 words on one of the following subjects or on 
a similar subject of your own: 

A row of boots and shoes on the streetcar; moving day; the spring 
hat; dressing in a hurry; shabby gloves; the way we walk; the 
whistling man; "extry paper"; what's in a necktie; how we take 
notes in class ; the campus in the rain. 


Biography is the imaginative reconstruction of a life as 
nearly as possible as it was lived. In this work the biographer 
may be hampered in either of two ways: he may find too 
much material or too little. 

If he finds too much, he must use the methods of narration 
for sifting out what are the most important events, the 
methods of exposition for choosing what is significant for 
character, and the methods used in argument for distinguish- 
ing between authorities and rejecting those that have 
nothing to contribute. 

If he finds too little, the testing of what there is becomes 
peculiarly important, in order that he may have a solid basis 
on which to set the constructive imagination to work. 

These two conditions require separate discussion. 

With abundance of material, your best way is to begin 
by reading a reliable summary of the career in some good dic- 
tionary of biography or encyclopaedia. At the end of the 
article you will usually find references to the authorities 
upon which it is chiefly based. These you should note as 
the beginning of a bibliography. In your reading of the 
article you will have observed some phases of the life which 


interest you more than others determined, naturally, by 
your own occupations and tastes. These you should also 
note on cards as clues in your further reading. If you are 
reading about Scott, for example, you may be attracted 
especially by the account of his life as a country gentleman, 
or by his antiquarian interests, or by his friendship with the 
little girl, Marjorie Fleming. Whatever outstanding features 
of the life attract you, these you should bear sharply in mind. 
Then before you finally limit your subject, you should turn 
to the periodical indexes to see whether these phases of the 
subject have already been written about sufficiently there 
is no reason for going over old ground and if so, choose 
another aspect, one with which your constructive imagination 
can really find something to do. 

Then look up your authorities, beginning with the best: 
what the man tells about himself in diary or letters or auto- 
biography; what his relatives, or friends, or contemporaries 
tell about him; and finally what the best compilers of his 
biography, who have used the same original sources, have 
concluded about him. These last are valuable as a counter- 
balance for your untried, perhaps over-hasty judgment; 
but their value as evidence cannot be weighed a moment as 
against that of firsthand authorities.' 

To make your study interesting, you may make free use of 
original materials, always, of course, giving due credit in 
footnotes. Instead of generalizing, tell anecdotes, quote 
sayings, describe personal appearance give your presenta- 
tion as concrete and suggestive a form as possible. In this 
you may use the methods that you employ in fiction and 
the drama, provided that each assertion rests upon well- 
authenticated fact. 

Where there is no lack of material, a good biographical 
sketch involves only three main problems: (1) organization 
on a single unifying principle; (2) truth; (3) vividness. 



1. Limit each of the following subjects so that it could be treated 
in a 500-word sketch: Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, 
Daniel Boone, Bret Harte, Stonewall Jackson, Mary Stuart, Harriet 
Beecher Stowe, Benjamin Franklin, Julius Caesar, Michael Angelo, 
King Alfred, Samuel Johnson. 

2. Discuss in class the life and character of some person now much 
in the public eye. Use as the basis of your discussion material 
found in current literature. 

3. Write in about 500 words a biographical study on one of the 
following subjects: 

(1) Scott and Marjorie Fleming 

(2) Dr. Johnson's attitude toward David Garrick 

(3) How Samuel Pepys Entertained 

(4) Washington's Life at Mount Vernon 

(5) Your own choice 


When there are too few facts, your problem is to get the 
full meaning of such as there are. Here the process is of 
drawing correct inferences, all the inferences, and no others. 
This is not to be learned in a few lessons; but it should be 
acquired in a college course, and the beginning should be 
made in freshman English. 

Suppose you are asked to sketch the life of Shakespeare's 
daughter, Susannah. What is known about her? You 
will find the date of her baptism duly recorded, her mar- 
riage to Dr. John Hall, her appointment as her father's 
executor, her inheritance of the bulk of his property, and a 
highly laudatory epitaph these are about all the facts. But 
they are associated with other facts, and the two groups of 
facts considered together involve inferences that tell a good 
deal more. 

We know, for example, that there were two younger chil- 
dren twins; that Shakespeare was away from home most 
of the time during their early years, and that the family was 


poor; that the maternal grandparents were plain yeomen, 
while the paternal grandparents were well-connected, had 
been well-to-do and important people in the town, but had 
come down in the world; that the little brother, Hamnet, 
died when he was eleven years old and Susannah thirteen; 
that soon after, Shakespeare, who by this time was successful, 
bought property and the finest house in town, and that he 
obtained a coat-of-arms, thus becoming a "gentleman," 
and that from that period he was much more at home; that 
Dr. John Hall was a distinguished and learned man, and 
Puritan in his tenets; that Susannah's epitaph declared her 
to have been possessed not only of all the virtues, but also 
of something of her father's wit. 

These are only some of the facts which envisage or surround 
the immediate facts of Susannah's life. From them all we 
infer that she was a woman acquainted with poverty, with 
sorrow, with country life, with small town prosperity, with 
the experiences of a country doctor's wife; that she had some 
business ability, that she stood in close relationship with her 
great father, and so on. 

But in the very charm of these inferences lies their danger. 
It is so easy to forget, as soon as we get away from actual 
fact, whether an inference is reasonably certain, or probable, 
or only possible; and to build inference upon inference until 
the whole structure is unsubstantial and topples at a critical 
word. For instance, we know that Susannah Hall lived in 
a house with a library; but we are not therefore warranted in 
assuming that she read the books, or even that she could 
read at all. If she had been lacking in business ability, she 
would not have been made her father's executor; but as to 
the nature of her education we are entirely ignorant. It is 
probable as might be shown that she had some training; 
it is possible that she had a good deal; but as to this we can- 
not say. 

Where there is little written material about a person, 


tangible things associated with him, always valuable for in- 
terpretation of character and mode of life, become peculiarly 
important. The house that he lived in, the town, the land- 
scape, the garden that he made, the furniture, his various 
personal possessions, portraits everything that in any way 
bears the impress of the personality with which it was once 
associated helps to throw light. If you visit a room in which 
Queen Elizabeth once sat with her ladies, and see the very 
furniture that she used, her card table, fancy work that she 
made, you have a background against which it is easy for the 
imagination to turn her portrait hanging on the wall into 
something like a real woman. 

The methods used in reconstructing a single life apply also, 
of course, to the historical sketch, which endeavors to re- 
construct the life of a group, a city, a country. 


1. The portraits reproduced between pp. 362 and 363 are of Sir 
Thomas More and his daughter, Cicely Heron. Study them to- 
gether as introductory to a study of Cicely Heron's life, about which 
very little is known. Begin your work by answering the following 
questions : 

What common characteristics do you find in the two portraits? 
(If you have access to a good art gallery, you can continue the work 
by looking up the Holbein drawings of Cicely's grandfather, Judge 
More, and of her brother, John More.) 

What qualities in Cicely's face are not found in her father's? 

Does she look intelligent? frivolous? seriousminded? stupid? 
robust? frail? cold? affectionate? domineering? humorous? slow? 
quick? hot-tempered? malicious? mean-spirited? cold? sensitive? 
coarse? conscientious? obstinate? yielding? 

What other qualities do you find suggested? (You will not all 
agree in regard to them, but you would not agree altogether if you 
knew her as a living woman.) 

Next, read the account of her father's life in the Dictionary of 
National Biography to find such facts as must have had a great ef- 
fect upon his daughter's life and character. Note these carefully. 

Note also points in his character which you think you can find 
in her face. 


Then write a 500-word biographical study of Cicely Heron. Be 
very careful to give your authority for every inference, and to dis- 
tinguish in every case between (1) certain, (2) probable, (3) and 
possible. If you do not, your study will have been wasted, and 
your result will be worthless. 


In discussing a writer we have one more valuable source 
of information for biography, and that is internal evidence 
from his work. From music we can infer but little, because 
of the impossibility of translating musical impressions into 
words; and yet the difference between the music of Beethoven 
and Chopin is highly instructive as to the personalities of 
both. From art we get much more, both as to the surround- 
ings of the artist and the people in whom he was interested, 
and as to his theory of life: compare for example the Venus 
de Milo, a Botticelli Madonna, and a Rembrandt portrait. 
From writings, however, we learn to infer much that the 
author was unconscious of revealing about himself. Scarcely 
any book is so impersonal that it does not give some informa- 
tion about its writer to him who knows how to look for it. 

Here we must distinguish between two kinds of evidence. 
In a diary or autobiography a writer may say what he pleases; 
he may be more or less self-deceived or even untruthful. 
But when he is absorbed in another subject than himself, 
what he unconsciously shows of his own tastes and circum- 
stances and character is almost certainly true. For instance, 
as Shakespeare's plays are full of talk of sport and the 
stable, in appropriate and inappropriate circumstances, 
and on the lips of characters of all sorts, we may safely infer 
that Shakespeare himself was a sportsman and fond of dogs 
and horses. As a writer's own experience is the basis on 
which he constructs his imaginative work, we can infer from 
signs that appear in his imaginative work the nature of 
his general experience. It is not safe to say that he has had 

Portrait by Holbein 


; ; 

Portrait by Holbein 


any particular experience described in his work, but only 
that he is familiar with the general type of that sort of 
experience or he would not have chosen it for treatment 
or if he had, his ignorance would be at once apparent. We 
cannot accuse any author of sharing the love affairs of his 
hero or heroine, but if he knows nothing of the emotion of 
love, his books will reveal this fact. 

On the other hand, we must distinguish between the re- 
flection of personal experience in books, and the reflection of 
ideas common to many people in an age. Because Shake- 
speare's work is full of puns, we cannot infer that he was by 
nature a punster; we know that the age revelled in puns, and 
the inference is rather that he had the wit to make puns and 
the desire to please his audiences with them. 

So in inferring biographical facts from this indirect tes- 
timony, it is necessary both to be extremely cautious in re- 
gard to particular facts, and to compare our inferences with 
what is known of the popular ideas and tastes of the time in 
which our subject lived. With these cautions in mind, it is 
well to begin to practise inferential work of this kind as train- 
ing for dealing with men even more than for the writing of 

The writing of autobiography requires no special tech- 
nique, and as its interest depends almost entirely upon its 
material and its spontaneity, there is no need to practise 
writing it. And the same is true of the diary, which Stevenson 
calls "a school of posturing and melancholy self-deception." 


1. If you have access to Littell's Living Age, look up in the in- 
dexes of volumes, working backward from the present year, articles 
by W. H. Hudson. Read enough of these to give you data for a 
500-word sketch of his biography and temperament. You may 
use facts that he tells about himself; but rely principally upon in- 
ferences as to his ideas, tastes, and habits. 

2. Read a story by Joseph Conrad, preferably Youth or Heart of 


Darkness (you will find these and others by referring to The Reader's 
Guide, if they are not accessible in volume form), and write about 
200 words on his life and temperament. Do not guess; state only 
what can be inferred with certainty. 

3. Write a brief sketch of the life of Jane Austen based upon the 
reading of one of her novels. Then look up her letters, if they are 
accessible, and see how far you have been right. Then not be- 
fore read the account of her in the Dictionary of National Biog- 
raphy, or some other standard reference book. 

4. State in the briefest notes possible the biographical facts that 
you infer from each of the following passages, and use these notes 
as a basis for class discussion: 

(1) "Cyriack, this three years' day these eyes, though clear 
To outward view, of blemish or of spot, 
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot; 
Nor to then- idle orbs doth sight appear 
Of sun or moon or star throughout the year, 
Of man or woman. Yet I argue not 
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot 
Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer 
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask? 
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied 
In liberty's defense, my noble task, 
Of which all Europe talks from side to side. 

This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask 
Content, though blind, had I no better guide." 

John Milton. 

(<) "Next Sunday, Sunday, July 3, I told him I had been that 
morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had 
heard a woman preach. Johnson: 'Sir, a woman's preaching is like 
a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are 
surprised to find it done at all.' " James Boswell. 
(Infer as to both Boswell and Johnson.) 

(3) "To one like Elia, whose treasures are rather cased in leather 
covers than closed in iron coffers, there is a class of alienators more 
formidable than that which I have touched upon; I mean your 
borrowers of books those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the 
symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes." Charles Lamb. 

(4) "For great Men I have ever had the warmest predilection; 
and can perhaps boast that few such in this era have wholly escaped 
me. Great Men are the inspired (speaking and acting) Texts of 
that divine Book of Revelation, whereof a Chapter is completed 
from epoch to epoch, and by some named History; to which in- 
spired Texts your numerous talented men, and your innumerable 
untalented men, are the better or worse exegetic Commentaries, 


and wagon-load of too-stupid, heretical or orthodox, weekly 
Sermons." Thomas Carlyle. 

(5) "Wealth, again, that end to which our prodigious works for 
material advantage are directed, the commonest of commonplaces 
tells us that men are always apt to regard wealth as a precious 
end in itself. . . . Now, the use of culture is that it helps us, by 
means of its spiritual standard of perfection, to regard wealth as 
but machinery, and not only to say as a matter of words that we 
regard wealth as but machinery, but really to perceive and feel 
that it is so." Matthew Arnold. 


The commonest use of the processes of argument is in the 
propaganda paper. This in its simplest and briefest form 
appears in the editorial of the newspaper and magazine; it 
is found in all the magazines side by side with the expository 
article, and in the field of religion it appears as the sermon. 
The propaganda paper is merely an informal argument which 
does not hold strictly to the form of the brief, and which 
inclines to emphasize persuasion even at the expense of com- 
plete logic, if necessary. To this end we find argument 
blended with description, narration, and exposition, so 
closely that it is often hard to say where the one begins and 
the other ends. It gets vividness from detailed description, 
as, for instance, in the elaboration of an analogy. It gets 
dramatic quality from narration, when a situation is made to 
live again before the audience; for instance, a history of 
conditions in the Philippines before we annexed them used 
as an argument for annexation. From the exposition of 
accepted truth in connection with an argument, the argument 
itself acquires a certain solidity in the minds of a popular 
audience or popular readers, such as would not be felt from 
the processes of argumentation used alone; for instance, 
when a full exposition of the known conditions that would 
warrant the existence of life on Mars precedes the argument 
by analogy that Mars is inhabited. 

For the writing of papers of this type, few special directions 


are necessary. Absolutely clear structure is essential even 
though the structure is less rigid than in the formal argu- 
ment. In the informal argument, all the arts of persuasion 
may and should be used, and in this, free play should be given 
to individual experience and to temperament. Beyond this, 
the only thing to be said is that as the purpose of the prop- 
aganda paper is to win people to the writer's way of thinking 
on its subject, obviously the paper must succeed in being 
interesting to the people for whom it is intended or it fails 
of its purpose. Here, as in all forms of writing in which the 
purpose of reaching a particular audience rather than the 
need of self-expression is the motive, the only really prac- 
tical rule that can be given is to study successful models as 
they appear in print in the magazines, and to imitate these 
as far as is consistent with your subject, your ideals, and 
your temperament. Practice of this sort gets much more 
rapid results than mere application of theory. 


1. Read and discuss the nature and value of the arguments of 
Brutus and of Antony in Julius Caesar, act III, scene 2. 

2. Write about 500 words on one of the following propositions: 

(1) For the good of the State, sickness should be made a legal 

(2) Criminals should be regarded as diseased, and so treated. 

(3) Machinery retards the development of the human race. 

If you cannot argue in favor of any of these, read the chapters in 
Samuel Butler's Erehwon that touch upon these subjects and write 
an informal refutation of about the same length as Butler's ar- 

3. Write a 500-word argument on any one of the following sub- 
jects on which you feel any conviction. You can supplement your 
own knowledge by reference to articles listed in The Reader's Guide: 

(1) The products of prison labor should not be sold. 

(2) The United States should admit Oriental immigrants on the 
same terms as European. 


(3) There should be national legislation concerning marriage 
and divorce. 

(4) The Swiss system of universal military training should be 
adopted in the United States. 

4. In the following quotation lies the germ of a paper. Either 
expand the ideas in it to about 500 words; or give the same amount 
of space to a statement of opposing views. Whichever you do, be 
careful to develop every point that is suggested, and give as many 
concrete illustrations as you can in support of your contention. Be 
as specific as possible: 

"The Prince straightway declared that self-government on any 
but a small scale, and in any but a young and simple society, 
was a ludicrous and hideous fallacy, and maintained that of all the 
perversions which the workings of the human mind as applied to 
politics had developed, none was more astoundingly illogical than 
that which resulted in the conclusion that an aggregation of half a 
million human beings, crowding into the space of a few square 
miles the extremes of wealth and poverty, and all the possibilities 
of ambition and villainy and ignorance and vice and misery and 
lawlessness and seething discontent, could rule itself." 

Henry Putter. 

5. The following criticisms have been made upon our country by 
friendly visitors. Choose one that you consider just, and write a 
500- word paper, suggesting what might be done about it: 

(1) "Business governs America; and business does not include 
labour. . . . America is the paradise of plutocracy; for the rich 
there enjoy not only a real power but a social prestige such as can 
hardly have been accorded to them even in the worst days of the 
Roman Empire." G. Lowes Dickinson. 

(2) "And the London Savoy Hotel still flaunts its memory of one 
splendid American night. The court-yard was flooded with water 
tinted an artistic blue to the great discomfort of the practically 
inevitable gold-fish and on this floated a dream of a gondola. And 
in the gondola the table was spread and served by the Savoy staff, 
mysteriously disguised in appropriate fancy costume. The whole 
thing there's only two words for it was 'perfectly lovely.' 
'The illusion' whatever that was we are assured, was com- 
plete. It wasn't a nursery treat, you know. The guests, I am told, 
were important grown-up people." H. G. Wells. 

(3) "Individualism, then, is stronger and deeper rooted in Am- 
erica than elsewhere. And, it must be added, socialism is weaker." 

G. Lowes Dickinson. 


(4) "I came away from Washington with my preconception 
enormously reinforced that the supreme need of America, the pre- 
liminary thing to any social or economic reconstruction is political 
reform. It seems to me to lie upon the surface that America has 
to be democratized." H. G. Wetts. 

(5) "There is no culture in America. There is instruction; 
there is research; there is technical and professional training; there 
is specialization in science and industry; there is every possible 
application of life to purposes and ends; but there is no life for its 
own sake." G. Lowes Dickinson. 

(6) "Now what is called corruption in America is a thing not 
confined to politics; it is a defect of moral method found in every 
department of American life." H. G. Wells. 

6. Using the same quotations, choose one that you consider un- 
just and write a 500-word paper refuting it. 

7. The two sets of papers called for in 5 and 6 should be discussed 
in class, and conclusions reached in regard to the criticisms and 
the refutations. 


CRITICISM as commonly practised is like a boomerang 
thrown by a novice: it does not hit the subject at which it is 
hurled; but it rebounds and hits the critic. In giving your 
opinions about the writing of Thomas Hardy or Bernard 
Shaw, you are telling the shrewd observer whether you are 
really familiar with the work, whether you have any under- 
standing of what the author is trying to do, whether you are 
thinking of this particular work in relation to other works 
by the same artist, and to all other art of its kind, and how 
much experience you have had of the aspect of truth of which 
you are criticizing the representation; and also you will 
suggest to no small degree your mental caliber and general 
attitude toward life. Few people have any idea how they 
are "giving themselves away " in the simple act of expressing 
their opinion of a poem, a novel, or a picture. 

To begin with, there are two ways of criticizing which 
profit no one. 

You may disarm judgment at once by saying, "I know 
nothing about art; but I know what I like." This is emi- 
nently sensible, if you do not immediately proceed on the 
hypothesis that what follows this introduction is criticism. 
The point is that like or dislike has nothing whatever to do 
with criticism. You may read East Lynne with ravenous 
enjoyment; and then sit down and show that as a Work of 
art it is beneath contempt. 

Or, again, you may be familiar with the principles and the 
technical language of criticism, and may apply them to a 
work of art without bringing it into the slightest vital re- 


lationship with yourself. For instance, you may show that 
Lycidas is one of the finest lyrics in English; you may point 
out the circumstances of its composition, the pastoral el- 
ements, the lofty ideas, the beautiful imagery, the melody 
and color of the verse; and all the while you may feel that 
the poem is a bore, and that you will never read it again. 
This is merely the semblance or the shell of criticism. 

What, then, is criticism? The term comes from a word that 
means to separate. The original critic was a judge one who 
separates right from wrong, the innocent from the guilty; 
one who balances crime against punishment. The idea of 
separating of balancing on this side and on that is at the 
root of literary criticism. The first separation as in the 
case of the judge is that of the thing judged from the per- 
sonality of the judge. Whether you like or dislike the per- 
son on trial or the type of person that he is is entirely un- 
important; it is your business as judge to base your conclu- 
sion upon all the relevant facts, and upon nothing else. 
But is this all? It may leave you in the unhappy position 
of him who knows that Lycidas is a classic and feels that it is 
a bore. 

The separation must go further: you must as critic not 
only lay aside for the time your own personality, but you 
must try to jump into that of the author whose work you 
are judging. This is more than any judge is expected to do. 

The good critic, then, first and last, tries to see a work of 
art from the point of view of the creator. But he has to 
think backward. The creator begins with certain ideas which 
he expresses in words, or paint, or sounds; the critic begins 
with the completed work and asks himself: What was the 
original conception? What was the creator trying to do? 
How far has he done it? He will not begin by finding fault 
with Othello because it is a tragedy rather than a comedy, or 
because it is in blank verse rather than in rhyme, or because 
it is pessimistic rather than optimistic in its philosophy; he 


will ask himself: What was Shakespeare trying to do, and 
how far has he succeeded in doing it? Had he the purpose of 
showing the havoc caused by jealousy lago's jealousy of 
Othello, Othello's jealousy of Desdemona? Had Milton in 
Lycidas, the purpose of turning a real grief, but pensive 
rather than poignant, into the beautiful forms of pastoral 
poetry? So far the critic is busy separating from the finished 
product the theme that gave it birth. 

This done, he turns to problems of technique workman- 
ship. And here at once he has to deal with standards: the 
author's own standard in earlier work; and the general stand- 
ards of excellence in every form of technique used. The 
critic again separates and weighs. Is this work better than 
the preceding work by the same writer? Does it show 
growth ? Does it gain here and lose there? In general, how 
does it measure up? On the other hand, how far short is it 
still of the best that has been done of its kind? In what 
respects is it most nearly perfect? Where are its greatest 

From these questions it is clear that the critic should be 
a man of wide knowledge; he should be familiar with all the 
earlier work of the author whose present book he is judging; 
he should be familiar with all the best that has been done in 
the forms of technique; and he should know the entire range 
of technique itself. No such critic has ever existed; but the 
ideal should be kept in mind in writing criticism. 

It follows that you cannot criticize an author properly 
unless you are familiar with the most that he has written, 
and also with the most that has been written by other au- 
thors in that type of literature. Therefore you should limit 
your criticisms strictly according to the limits of your knowl- 
edge; and you should make your reader clearly understand 
exactly what you are criticizing and with what right. At 
the same time you should endeavor to establish every ex- 
pressed opinion by reference to the source of it in the text 


criticized, or you will find yourself slipping into the fatal 
"I like" type of statement, or the equally fatal "This is 
good;" of which the first is not criticism at all, while the 
second, without support, is meaningless. 

Again, all criticisms must be organized according to the 
principles of technique involved. If the plot of a novel is 
interesting, the critic must analyze it in terms of the prin- 
ciples that make good plot; if the characters are interesting, 
in terms of the principles that make good characterization; 
if the setting appeals, in terms of setting; if the dialogue, 
in terms of dialogue; if the philosophy, in terms of philosophy. 
If a poem is criticized, it must be judged by the technique of 
its verse as well as by its intellectual and emotional content, 
its imagery, and so on. The more closely you analyze a piece 
of writing according to the principles of technique that it 
involves, the nearer will you come to a judgment that will 
not only put you into the right relationship with the work 
judged, but will show you clearly whether it can contribute 
toward your own mental growth. 

And at every step you must refer your impression back to 
its source, or the whole structure of your judgment may be 
out of harmony with the facts. Often your impression will 
be debatable; sometimes it will be wrong. One passage will 
contradict another; critics will disagree; exposition will be- 
come argument. To judge accurately and wisely, you must 
form the habit of holding yourself to account for every opin- 
ion that you express; and if you do not actually quote in sup- 
port of your view, you should be able at every point to quote, 
if your opinion is challenged. 

To get rid of your personal bias, to get the author's point 
of view and purpose, to judge his work by his own standard 
of attainment, and by the absolute standards of the tech- 
nique that it involves, basing these judgments upon the evi- 
dence of the work itself all these processes enter into good 
criticism. And yet, it is conceivable that after you have done 


all this you may still be in an attitude of mind symbolized 
by the sentence: "I know that Lycidas is a great poem, but it 
bores me." What can be done about this? Let us consider 
the difficulty from another angle. 

The appeal of a book to a mind is one of the most variable 
things in the world. Some books we grow out of in child- 
hood and never wish to see again; some books very few of us 
ever grow up to at all. There are books which some of us 
enjoy reading all our lives; others of us can never enjoy these 
books at all or at least we have not found out that we can. 
What are we to do with this personal relationship or lack 
of it in connection with criticism? If a bias for or against 
a work is not criticism, and if perfect detachment from it is 
merely the form of criticism without the spirit, what other 
attitude is possible? The attitude of holding judgment in 
solution as it were of saying to one's self: "To-day Lycidas 
leaves me cold; to-morrow I may have some experience that 
will open up new ranges of life, and the beauty of the poem 
may shine upon me." A perpetual readiness eagerness to 
find the beautiful in art, and an increasing keenness, born of 
wider experience of life and of books, to distinguish between 
the permanently beautiful and that which has only a tran- 
sient glamor for the developing mind mark the attitude of 
the true critic. He distinguishes thus: "Pride and Prejudice 
I can read now with as much delight as when I first came to 
it twenty years ago; but A Tale of Two Cities has lost its 
spell still, I appreciate its value as a factor in my mental 
development. Don Quixote I have never been able to read, 
but I hope to grow into it some day; I can see in it elements 
of beauty, but my experience as yet is not such that I can 
feel them I must keep it in mind and wait. Scottish Chiefs 
might have cast its spell over me many years ago, had it come 
my way; but I missed it then and now I can see that I have 
outgrown it." 

In some such way as this his mind moves, in a continual 


effort to establish true relationships among works of art, with 
reference to one another and to himself. This is a totally 
different thing from liking or disliking without knowing why; 
and from giving reasons for a judgment which has not become 
assimilated and realized. 

From this point of view it would seem that criticism should 
be written only after this vital relationship between critic 
and subject has been once established. One who has not yet 
grown up to Don Quixote can obviously have nothing to say 
about it; while one who has felt the glamor of Dickens or 
of Jane Porter can still consider these authors in the light of 
the power that they once had upon him, and realize and ex- 
pound the sources of their attraction for others. 

For the inexperienced critic it is best to confine practice 
in writing criticism in two ways: To subjects with which at 
the time of writing he stands in vital relationship; and to 
the examination of very small pieces of work, in order that 
he may learn invariably to associate an impression with the 
passage on which it is based. 

Incomparably the best means of acquiring the critical atti- 
tude is free discussion of books in which you are now inter- 
ested. But discussion does not mean mere exchange of en- 
thusiasms; it means inquiry into the sources of enthusiasm, 
scrutiny into differences of opinion, and re-reading for evidence 
in support of this opinion or that. It is better for six people 
than for two to take part in such a discussion; the greater 
the divergences of opinion, the more upturning of evidence 
will there be, and the greater the probability of reaching a 
just balance of merits and defects. 

In writing criticism, the all important thing at first is to 
put yourself into direct relationship with the text. What is 
actually there? Very often failure to appreciate beauty is 
failure to see it; and, unnecessary as it may seem to say so, 
failure to see it is commonly due to not looking attentively 
at the thing in which it is embodied. Attentive and ex- 


pectant scrutiny, then, of a work of art is the first step in 
learning to appreciate a beauty which does not immediately 
manifest itself to your mind. To secure this, it is best to 
limit yourself to a very small thing, and to hold yourself 
rigidly to finding the exact foundation in the text itself for 
every impression that it makes upon your mind. 


1. Bring to class as a basis for oral discussion notes on the book 
about which you are now most enthusiastic. Avoid all such terms 
as "I like," "good," etc., and collect evidence which should make 
other people incline to read the book. 

2. Read the following stanza slowly, to decide whether the 
thought was worth expression: 

"It is not growing like a tree 

In bulk doth make men better be; 
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, 
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear: 
A lily of a day 
Is fairer far, in May; 
Although it fall and die that night, 
It was the plant and flower of light. 
In small proportions we just beauties see; 
And in short measures life may perfect be." 

Ben Jonson. 

To what do you attribute the irregular form of the stanza? Do you 
find upon examination that it contains any unnecessary words or 
phrases used to fill out the meter? Then can you say that the verse 
has been exactly formed to meet the pattern of the thought? Are 
thought and verse so blended that it is difficult to imagine this 
thought expressed in any other verse form? Are the two figures 
used for ornament or were they inherent in the thought as it de- 
veloped? On what do you base your opinion? If you omit the 
figures, how much of the poem remains? 

Write a criticism of the stanza in less than 50 words. Do not 
repeat what it contains; try to explain why it is beautiful. 

3. Read the following stanza, aloud if possible, and rapidly; 
otherwise you lose the swing of the rhythm: 


"Have you seen but a bright lily grow, 
Before rude hands have touched it? 
Have you marked but the fall of the snow, 

Before the soil hath smutched it? 
Have you felt the wool of the beaver? 

Or swan's down ever? 
Or have smelt o' the bud of the briar? 

Or the nard in the fire? 
Or have tasted the bag of the bee? 
Oh so white! Oh so soft! Oh so sweet is she!" 

Ben Jonson. 

Is the thought here of any value? What is of value? Usually 
poetry appeals to the senses of sight and sound; what senses are 
appealed to here? How is this appeal made? Could it have been 
done in any other way? Why not? Why is the stanza made up of 
long and short lines, and why is the last line broken into three 
ejaculatory phrases? How would you contrast the reasons for the 
irregularity of meter here and in the stanza quoted above? Phrase 
exactly the relation between the breaking up of these lines and the 
feeling that they express. 

Write a criticism of the stanza in less than 50 words. 

4. Read the following stanzas slowly, aloud if possible, without 
pausing more than a moment between them: 

"St. Agnes' Eve Ah, bitter chill it was! 
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; 
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass, 
And silent was the flock in woolly fold: 
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told 
His rosary, and while his frosted breath, 
Like pious incense from a censer old, 
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death, 
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith." 

"And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep, 
In blanched linen, smooth and lavender'd, 
While he from forth the closet brought a heap 
Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd; 
With jellies soother than the creamy curd, 
And lucent syrups, tinct with cinnamon; 
Manna and dates, in argosy transferr'd 
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one, 
From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon." John Keats. 


Can you sum up your impression of the first stanza in a word? of 
the second? Quote the expressions in each upon which your im- 
pressions are based, and see whether you have included most of 
each stanza. If not, change your impression until you get one which 
is actually borne out by most of the text. Has the poet any idea 
here beyond conveying these two impressions? Does he convey 
them merely by his choice of words? How else? Name the words 
in the first stanza which by their sound alone suggest the impres- 
sion? What is the effect of the a in a-cold? In the second stanza 
what sound-combinations are used to express sleep? what sounds 
actually make the mouth form itself as it would in tasting the 
things mentioned? what words are used to make all the dainties 
seem very rare and precious, rich in unknown qualities? On the 
basis of these two stanzas write a criticism in less than 100 words 
of Keats's sensitiveness to sense impressions, basing every statement 
immediately upon the text. 

5. Beauty may depend upon imagery, sound, rhythm, and sug- 
gestion in varying degrees; it may also depend upon the evoking 
of old emotional associations. If you learned to love daffodils 
from the flowers themselves, and from Mother Goose's "Daffy- 
downdilly has come up to town," you have experience to draw upon 
which peculiarly fits you to appreciate Wordsworth's poem about 
them. If you have merely seen them in florists' windows, you 
will be more prepared than if you have not seen them at all, to 
imagine the beauty that is faintly represented by the photograph 
of these flowers growing wild against their background of mountain 
and lake. Try to add color and atmosphere to the picture, then 
read the poem: 

"I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 

Continuous as the stars that shine 
And twinkle on the milky way, 
They stretched in never-ending line 
Along the margin of a bay; 
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, 
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

The waves beside them danced; but they 
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: 


A poet could not but be gay 

In such a jocund company : 

I gazed and gazed but little thought 

What wealth the show to me had brought: 

For oft, when on my couch I lie 
In vacant or in pensive mood, 
They flash upon that inward eye 
Which is the bliss of solitude; 
And then my heart with pleasure fills, 
And dances with the daffodils." 

Is the emphasis on the flowers or on the impression that they made 
on the poet? Which stanza contains the most important thought? 
Do all the others prepare for and lead up to this? Does the poem 
read like a record of real experience? How so? Is the thought 
expressed with the complete simplicity of unadorned prose? Why 
is it aside from the verse form poetry? Is the form itself im- 
portant here? the imagery? the appeal to sense? the figures? the 
sound? What is important? 

Write a criticism of less than 100 words, trying to explain the 
poetry of the lines? 

6. Read Robert Herrick's lines on the same subject, and try to 
sum up in a sentence the fundamental difference between the poems: 

"Fair daffodils, we weep to sec 

You haste away so soon; 
As yet the early rising sun 
Has not attain'd his noon. 

Stay, stay, 

Until the hasting day has run 
But to the even-song; 
And having prayed together, we 
Will go with you along. 

We have short time to stay, as you? 

We have as short a spring; 
As quick a growth to meet decay, 

As you, or anything. 
We die 

As your hours do, and dry 

Like to the summer's rain; 
Or as the pearls of morning's dew, 

Ne'er to be found again." 


Whether you prefer this poem or the other may be a question of 
temperament or of mood; but you should be able to distinguish the 
totally different point of view and method of each poet. Which 
lays most stress on the form itself? Which regards every sound that 
he inserts, every turn of rhythm? Which poem could be expressed 
in a different stanza with least loss of effect? Which, then, depends 
more upon its form, and which upon its thought for conveying a 
sense of beauty? Which is built upon a commonplace thought 
that has been expressed countless times before? Can you remember 
or find other poems in which a similar view of life is expressed? 
Which of the two poems expresses a freshly realized aspect of 

In 100-200 words contrast the poems of Wordsworth and of 
Herrick on daffodils. Give evidence for every statement that you 

7. Analyze in 100-200 words the charm of the following piece of 

"And for you that have heard many grave, serious men pity 
Anglers; let me tell you, Sir, there be many men that are by others 
taken to be serious and grave men, whom we contemn and pity. 
Men that are taken to be grave, because nature hath made them of a 
sour complexion; money-getting men, men that spend all their 
time, first in getting, and next, in anxious care to keep it; men that 
are condemned to be rich, and then always busy or discontented: 
for these poor rich men, we Anglers pity them perfectly, and stand 
in no need to borrow their thoughts to think ourselves happy. No, 
no, Sir, we enjoy a con tented ness above the reach of such dis- 
positions, and as the learned and ingenious Montaigne says, like 
himself, freely, 'When my Cat and I entertain each other with 
mutual apish tricks, as playing with a garter, who knows but that 
I make my Cat more sport than she makes me? Shall I conclude 
her to be simple, that has her time to begin or refuse, to play as 
freely as I myself have? Nay, who knows but that it is a defect 
of my not understanding her language, for doubtless Cats reason 
and talk with one another, that we agree no better: and who knows 
but that she pities me for being no wiser than to play with her, and 
laughs and censures my folly, for making sport for her, when we two 
play together?'" 

8. Izaak Walton, the author of the preceding quotation, died 
in 1683; Montaigne, whom he quotes, in 1592. Sum up the char- 
acter of each of these men as it appears from this passage alone. 
Afterward, look up their biographies and discuss the papers in class 
to see how nearly right you were. 


9. You are aware that Geoffrey Chaucer is considered one of the 
greatest English writers; you may or may not like his work yourself. 
In criticizing the following lines from the Prologue to the Canterbury 
Tales, try to forget anything that you may know about Chaucer, 
and consider the verses as if they were the only surviving fragment 
of work by an unknown poet of the 14th century: 

"With him there was his son, a young squire, 
A lover and a lusty bachelor, 
With locks as curled as if they'd been in press. 
Of twenty years of age he was, I guess. 
Of his stature he was of medium length, 
And wondrously expert and great of strength; 
And he had been in raids of cavalry, 
In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardy, 
And borne him well, as in so little space, 
In hope of standing in his lady's grace. 
Embroidered was he as it were a mead 
AH full of freshest flowers, white and red; 
Singing he was or whistling all the day; 
He was as fresh as is the month of May. 
Short was his gown, with sleeves full long and wide; 
Well could he sit a horse, and finely ride; 
And songs he could compose and well indite, 
Joust and eke dance and well portray and write. 
For love no sleep at night might him avail; 
He slept no more than doth the nightingale. 
Courteous he was, modest and serviceable, 
And carved before his father at the table." 

Is this a living portrait of a young man? How do you know? What 
universal traits of character of a man of twenty does it show? 
Which trait is fundamental? which details illustrate it? what other 
qualities are associated with this? how are they illustrated? Is 
there any suggestion of qualities other than attractive? With allow- 
ance for differences in fashions of dress and accomplishments, would 
this stand for a portrait of a young soldier in any age? Then what 
is the great merit of the lines? Does the author show understanding 
of human nature? sympathy with its ideals and its foibles? 

Write 100-200 words of criticism on the passage, considered 
without reference to Chaucer, and adding any point that you wish 
to those brought out by the questions. 


YOUR initiation into research work may begin in the form 
of a term paper of several thousand words. Whether it 
does or not, as a college student you cannot too soon learn 
the meaning of the research attitude. It means not merely 
the accumulation of facts for a paper, but a general and per- 
manent desire to get the truth in regard to whatever aspect 
of life is under consideration. In this sense it is by no means 
confined to scholars, but belongs quite as much to the prov- 
ince of practical life. 

The training that leads to the research attitude comes from 
the independent investigation of all the facts in a situation 
with the single desire of inferring correctly the truth behind 
them. Research is thus argument. 

In every piece of research there are four principal stages : 

1. Getting a subject about which the truth is imperfectly 

2. Making a complete bibliography of all the information 

3. Reading and making notes on cards, and filing these; 

4. Combining the materials into an argument that shall 
lead to a conviction of the truth of the results reached. 

1. In choosing a subject for a paper limited in length, you 
should take special care to narrow it as much as possible. 
You may indeed begin with a general subject in which you 
are interested; but you must reduce it to a very limited 
phase if you hope to get any results. Suppose, for example, 
you have always been interested in the Vikings. A study of 
the Vikings would run into volumes; a study of the Vikings 


in America is too much for a single volume; a study of a 
single expedition is enough for a paper. Which expedition 
shall you study? Take one about which there is difference 
of opinion: for example, scholars have been quarreling for 
some time about the authenticity of an inscription-bearing 
stone found at Kensington, Minnesota, and the dispute is not 
settled. While you could scarcely expect to settle it, the 
material for discussion is manageable in amount, and your 
investigation will bring you to grips with a real problem. 
Note that your subject has been narrowed from the Vikings 
to the Kensington Rune Stone. Similarly, you may take 
one small phase of some subject in science, in economics, 
in social science, in any field of knowledge, and grapple 
with it in order to learn method in the attack and conquest 
of truth. 

2. Your bibliography should be complete, accurate, and 
in proper form. To make it complete, you must begin with 
the general works of reference, and follow up every authority 
there mentioned until you are sure that it is or is not useful 
for your purpose. As you work with these authorities, you 
must note at the moment of observation further authorities 
that may be worth looking into; and continue the same proc- 
ess with these until you cannot see a single trail that you have 
left unexplored. Each reference should be accurately 
copied and verified at the moment and in proper form 
(see Appendix II). Remember that your bibliography will 
not be complete when you begin to read; its most valuable 
items may come when you think that you are almost ready 
to begin to write. 

3. Before you begin to read, it is well to note on a card 
the exact thing that you are going to prove or to disprove; 
for instance: Is the Kensington Rune Stone genuine or 
spurious? To answer this question, you will have to collect 
and test the evidence on both sides. But you have a fairly 
long bibliography. Where shall you begin to read? With 


the works that seem to bear the stamp of the best authority. 
In this case you have the reports of various professors and 
other experts. If you cannot at once choose among them, 
begin with the most recent, which should, if it is properly 
done, sum up all earlier work and show the present status of 
the problem. 

In reading, keep your question in mind as a hunting dog 
tries to keep the scent, never being tempted into byways; 
and note the facts and inferences presented as to the finding 
of the stone, its geological quality, its traces of age, the char- 
acter of the letters and the inscription everything that sug- 
gests antiquity or forgery. Then proceed to the authority 
that seems to you next in importance, preferably one who 
draws a different conclusion from that reached in the last 
work; and examine with equal care his facts and inferences. 
Continue the process until you feel that you have got before 
you all the facts in the case, each carefully noted on its card, 
with its reference. As you read, you wnll begin to form your 
conclusion, and you will begin to mass in your mind the facts 
that support it; you must be equally careful to mass over 
against these the facts that do not support it: this is a point 
which even good scholars sometimes neglect. But a paper 
which reaches only a tentative conclusion, frankly present- 
ing the difficulties as well as the facts upon which the con- 
clusion is based, is worth something; one that neglects the 
other side, is worth nothing. 

4. In writing your paper, you should begin with a state- 
ment of the doubtful issue, or of the accepted hypothesis from 
which you take your point of departure, summing up in 
footnotes the authorities in which the material is to be 
found. You are then ready to present the reasons which led 
to your investigation, and to produce, according to some 
definite plan of development, your results. Spread out your 
cards on a large table and begin. 

For every step in the presentation you must refer to your 


authority so that your reader can satisfy himself as to the 
correctness of each inference. To do this without clogging 
your text so that the argument is buried in a mass of de- 
tails, you must use footnotes. Your chief difficulty in this 
connection at first will be in deciding when to use footnotes. 
In general, they are used as follows: 

1. Practically always for exact references to authorities; 

2. For the explanation and amplification of supporting 
facts when these may possibly be misunderstood; 

3. For the citation of facts in support of statements which 
have been generally accepted as true, but which the reader, 
on account of the limitations of his knowledge, may not at 
once accept without seeing the evidence. 

It is only after much practice, of course, that you will be 
able at once to discriminate between material for your text 
and for footnotes. For the form and placing of footnotes, 
see Appendix I, p. 413. 

These general directions may give you a starting-point 
for your investigation; but as the very essence of research 
work is independence, you will immediately have to begin 
to feel your way for yourself and train yourself as you go. 


1. The Kensington Rune Stone 

2. The Early History of Football (or Hockey, or Golf, or Tennis) 

3. The Origin of Phi Beta Kappa 

4. The Canning Club Movement in the United States 

5. Experiments in New Methods of City Government 

6. The Beginnings of the Aeroplane (or the Submarine) 

7. Inventions and Discoveries Due to the War 

8. The Symbolism of Oriental Rugs 

9. Patent Medicine Frauds in the United States 

10. The Beginnings of Free Verse in the Twentieth Century 

11. Shakespeare's Knowledge of Horses and Dogs 

12. The Effect of Indian Music on Macdowell 

13. The Housing Problem in (whatever city you have opportunity 
to study) 


14. The Life and Work of Ambrose Bierce 

15. Experiments in Government Ownership of Railways 

16. The Immediate Influence of the War on the Short-Story, 
as shown by a study of the Saturday Evening Post, September, 
1914-March, 1915 

17. The Immediate Influence of the War on Journalistic Vocabu- 
lary, as shown by a study of the New York Times, the Phila- 
delphia Ledger, the Boston Transcript, or the Chicago Tribune, 
August-October, 1914 

18. The Career and Influence of Vincent d'Indy (or Claude 
Debussy, or Cesar Franck) 

19. Vocational Education Experiments in (some city known to 

20. The Beginnings of the Cubists 

21. The Scandinavian Theory of Historical Museums 

22. The Work and Influence of Luther Burbank 



THE success of a letter depends quite as much upon the 
recipient as upon the writer. Its first condition is a state of 
entire confidence and ease between the two persons concerned, 
the result of which is spontaneity. In short, the more a 
personal letter reproduces the informality of talk, the better 
it serves its purpose, which is to take the place of a friendly 

Perhaps the first rule for letter- writing is: Keep your 
correspondent in mind, and try to write what you would 
say to him in talk. If you once acquire this attitude, you 
will find yourself at no loss for something to say. Every letter 
that you write will take on a special character will be 
colored by the personality of your correspondent and by 
the nature of the relationship between you. 

Another rule for becoming a good letter-writer is to write 
often, not merely because you will gain the flexibility that 
comes from constant practice, but because if you are in 
close touch with your correspondent, you can begin each 
letter without apologies and summaries of long periods of 
time, and other introductory matter, chilling to the pen of 
the writer, and trying to the patience of the reader. 

Good form is one thing: formality another. Good form is 
essential. It means that you must use good paper of con- 
ventional size, neutral color, and plain; good ink and a good 
pen; that you should cover the pages in the right order, 
and number the sheets; that you should fold your letter 


properly, place it in the envelope properly, place the stamp 
on the envelope properly; use the correct forms for heading, 
greeting, close, signature, and address on the envelope in 
short, that you should conform to recognized good manners 
in letter- writing as in other aspects of life. If you are in 
doubt as to any of these points, you will find detailed direc- 
tions in Appendix I. 

Formality is unnecessary and burdensome to both writer 
and reader. It is based largely on the mistaken idea that 
circumlocution is polite, and crops out in expressions that 
seem to have survived from the days of the old Polite Letter- 
Writers the hoping-you-are-well-as-this-Ieaves-me kind of 
thing and the half unconscious multiplication of useless 
words vaguely supposed to "make it sound better." The 
remedy for this mode of expression is to pull yourself up short 
with the question: "Why not write it as I should say it?'* 
Be yourself. 

There is scarcely any subject which may not be made 
interesting in a letter, although personal afflictions and griev- 
ances usually need a good deal of the salt of humor to make 
them palatable. Unless this can be supplied, it is a happy 
second thought that posts letters on these topics in the fire. 
But no incident of daily life is too trivial to suggest the per- 
sonality of the writer which is of course the source of in- 
terest to the correspondent. Hear Stevenson on this point: 

I begin to see the whole scheme of letter-writing; you sit down 
every day and pour out an equable stream of twaddle. 

His own "twaddle" conjures up the liveliest sort of picture 
of himself and his life. In the same letter he tells how he had 
been working at the 

South Seas, how "Fanny, awfully hove-to with rheumatics and 
injuries received upon the field of sport and glory, chasing pigs, 
was unable to go up and down stairs, so she sat upon the back 
verandah, and my work was chequered by her cries." . . . 


Carlyle describing his meeting with Queen Victoria, does 
not stop with details about her appearance, manner, and 
words, but touches upon all sorts of trifles which help to 
make us realize the scene, such as: 

The Stanleys and we were all in a flow of talk, and some flunkies 
had done setting coffee-pots, tea-cups of sublime patterns, when 
Her Majesty, punctual to a minute, glided softly in ... a kindly 
smile on her face; gently shook hands with all three women, gently 
acknowledged with a nod the silent deep bows of us male monsters, 
and directly in her presence everybody was at ease again. . . . 
Coffee (very black and muddy) was handed round ; Queen and three 
women taking seats in opposite corners, Mrs. Grote in a chair in- 
trusively close to Majesty, Lady Lyall modestly at the diagonal 
corner; we others obliged to stand and hover within call. ... 

With a sense of humor, one can make a delightful letter 
out of a situation usually regarded as difficult to handle; 
for instance, Lewis Carroll made a page of fun out of birth- 
day congratulations, and Charles Lamb wrote a letter of 
thanks for a pig, which effervesces with high spirits. 

The art of letter-writing is worth cultivation. The gossip 
of Horace Walpole, the irrepressible variety of Charles Lamb, 
the chit-chat of Jane Austen, the pictorial vividness of the 
Carlyle letters, the romance of the Browning letters are 
more interesting than most novels. In fact, few volumes of 
letters are dull reading except such as are consciously lit- 
erary. You will find matter of interest almost anywhere, 
working back from the twentieth century, through the eight- 
eenth which is almost epitomized by Steele, Walpole, and 
Lady Mary Wortley Montague to the earliest familiar letters 
that have survived in English, the Paston letters of the fif- 
teenth century. Wide reading of letters by many interesting 
people will do more than anything else to stimulate your 
own powers in this direction. 

The chief difficulty in developing the art of letter-writing 
is the real or fancied pressure upon our time, which keeps 
us from free play with details for their own sake, the full 


quotation of what was said for its own sake, the leisurely 
comment, the yielding to mood and whim, which enter so 
largely into the old letters. As to this, all that can be said 
is that those who write and receive charming letters seem to 
find in them their own reward. 

It may be worth while to hint that wise people always 
read their letters carefully before despatching them. 

The first and last rule for answering letters is: Answer 
them and promptly. Few things in life are more annoying 
than to ask questions in a letter and to have either no answer 
at all or an answer that is vague or obscure. Carelessness 
in regard to the correspondent's point of view often leads to 
cross-purposes and estrangement between friends, or to a very 
unfavorable impression on the part of a stranger. For this 
reason, make a practice of always having your correspond- 
ent's letter at hand when you are replying to it. Refer to it 
often enough not only to answer any questions that it may 
contain, but also to make your letter fit into its mood. 

If the letter that you have to answer is a long one con- 
taining many details, you will find that it will save time and 
secure completeness if you will read the letter through care- 
fully, making notes as you go of the topics that you wish 
to discuss and the points you wish to make in your reply. 
You can then with a few moments' thought arrange these 
topics and points in the order in which you wish to take 
them up. 

A short, prompt reply is usually worth more than a tardy 
one twice as long. 

The Formal Invitation and the Reply to it are a 
special type of Personal Letter. 

To people who do not know how to write them, formal 
invitations are a bugbear. In reality they are very simple. 
In replying to a formal invitation of any kind, you have only 
to follow as closely as possible the style and phrasing of the 
invitation. In sending out such invitations it is well to be 


guided by the advice of a good stationer, if the occasion de- 
mands engraved invitations; otherwise, to learn the simple 
formulas which are in general use. The three chief points to 
be remembered are: 

1. Use the third person throughout. 

2. Spell out all numerals, even your street number. 

3. Arrange your spaces so that the note is "centered" 
on the page. 

The reasons behind these conventions are probably that 
the use of the third person is less familiar; that numerals are 
associated with business; and that "centering" gives an 
appearance of formal care. 


1. Look over half a dozen volumes of letters in your library, 
reading here and there such as attract you. Make notes of things 
that interest you in subject-matter or in treatment. Quote from each 
volume one or more passages which seem to you unusually charming 
or amusing, or otherwise worth note, and bring these, together 
with your own comments, to class for discussion on: What is an 
interesting letter? 

2. Write a letter to anyone you please, or bring a letter that 
you have written, for class criticism as to paper and general matters 
of form. If it is found defective, repeat the exercise until no further 
criticism can be made by class or teacher. 

3. Answer one of these letters, touching upon each point that it 
suggests. The answers should be criticized in class for both content 
and form. 

4. Study carefully and in detail the forms on pp. 417f. and 
model after each an invitation and two replies, an acceptance 
and a note of regret. After class criticism correct and copy. 


Business letters are of two kinds: routine and construc- 

Routine letters are very simple. The rules for them may 
be summed up under the letter C. They should be correct, 


clear, concise, and courteous, and, when written in reply, 
should consider the content of the correspondent's communi- 

To be correct, they must be written in good form and in 
correct English. For details on these matters, see Appendix 
I pp. 418f. 

For the sake of clearness, a typewritten letter should be 
double-spaced, or if single-spaced, double-spaced between 
paragraphs. Sentences should tend to be short, for two 
reasons: because short sentences are more emphatic, and 
because they reduce the number of pronouns and so min- 
imize possible ambiguity of reference. 

A good practical way to train yourself in clearness is to 
read each letter aloud when it is written not merely read it, 
but read it aloud, and if you can, from the correspondent's 
point of view, asking yourself after each sentence: "What 
does this mean? Could it bear any other interpretation than 
that which first occurred to me?" After a time you will be 
able quickly to detect phrases and weirds that admit of mis- 

Many business men make it a rule to confine each letter to 
a single point, and for two reasons. One is, that the cor- 
respondent's full attention is thus secured for each point. 
If he reads a letter upon several matters, he naturally pays 
most attention to that in which he is chiefly interested. 
He may forget to consider the others; or if it is to his advan- 
tage to do so, he may deliberately omit to refer to them in his 
reply. The second reason is, that in many business houses 
letters are filed under their subjects. If a letter deals with 
several subjects, it is troublesome to file and if needed again 
it may be hard to find. 

If each letter is limited to a single point, conciseness is 
almost sure to result. Hence, the emphasis should be rather 
on courtesy. Remember that it always pays to take time 
to be courteous. The first rule of courtesy is to try to get 


your correspondent's point of view; the second, to try to put 
yourself in his place; and the third, to write him such a letter 
as you yourself, in his circumstances, would be pleased to 
receive. Have you not noticed the invariable courtesy of 
the best firms even to the most insignificant people and in 
the most trifling matters? 

Courtesy demands also exactness in replying to the points 
of inquiry in the correspondent's letter. This saves time 
and energy, and is conducive to the establishment and main- 
tenance of friendly business relations. 

Routine business letters include inquiries and the replies 
to them; orders and letters accompanying the goods; cor- 
respondence in connection with errors in bills and the pay- 
ment of bills, etc. 


1. Collect as many business letters as you can. Lay aside those 
that seem to you to be constructive out of the usual routine of 
business; and discuss the routine letters, criticizing them as to form 
and content. 

2. Write the following routine letters: 

(1) An order for goods 

(2) The firm's reply 

(3) A letter urging payment of a bill 

(4) A letter to a business man, asking for special information 

(5) His reply 

(6) A letter to an editor, offering a contribution 

(7) A formal letter of reference 

(8) As chairman of a committee, a report on the matter for which 
the committee was appointed. 

As far as you can, use as models the letters that you have col- 
lected and discussed; but do not hesitate to improve upon them. 
Refer to Appendix I when in doubt as to form. 

These letters should be read and discussed in class until you 
have no doubt as to the principles that govern all letters of these 



In big business houses the practice is increasing of putting 
business letters between officials in the form of memoranda. 
The form of the letter is thus reduced to this: 

Smith, Brown, and Co. 
Credit Department 


April 8, 1918 
To Mr. E. C. Jayne 

Subject: Charles M. Martin 

1. We have already filled the position to which 

you refer. 

2. We suggest that Mr. Martin's services might be 

useful to the Shipping Department. 

G. H. Hill 

As you see, the greeting and close are discarded as unnec- 
essary and wasteful of time and money. Only one subject is 
discussed; and it is analyzed, and the headings are numbered 
so that the content of the letter can be seen at a glance. This 
form is convenient for writing and reading and filing; and 
it effects a saving of time and energy for writer, stenographer, 
and recipient. 

Form letters are of two types. One type is made up in the 
main of paragraphs which have previously been devised for 
all letters of its general character; and if anything out of the 
routine needs to be said, this is embodied in a special par- 
agraph. This special paragraph is the only one that requires 
the attention of the official who dictates the letter. 

The second type of form letter is simply a multigraphed 
letter; that is, it is written as a whole, adapted as well as 
possible to a large number of people, and then printed from 
type especially designed to give the appearance of type- 
writing. Sometimes it is sent without personal appeal; but 


often the name of each person addressed is filled in with 
typewriting to match the rest of the letter as exactly as pos- 
sible. The signature is sometimes written with a pen; but 
often it, too, is a printed imitation. Such letters are used for 
many legitimate purposes; but there can be no doubt that 
many inexperienced persons are deceived into regarding them 
as genuine personal letters. 

The student who plans to write business letters profession- 
ally should make a careful study of the different types of 
letters used by people in different business relationships. 
No general rules can be given, because business transactions 
range from the formal memorandum, through ordinary 
business forms, to the purely personal communication of the 
familiar letter type. Even when all the forms have been 
learned, there is abundant occasion for the exercise of taste 
and judgment in deciding which form to use for each special 
case. Moreover, it is important to keep absolutely up to 
date, as forms are continually changing. 


1. Write in the form of official memoranda a letter from one 
official to another on a piece of business that involves several prob- 
lems and write the reply in the same form. 

2. Prepare for use in a department store the opening and closing 
paragraphs of a form letter replying to a complaint and promising 
to investigate. 

3. Write a form letter from the secretary of a charitable organ- 
ization, appealing for subscriptions and supporting the appeal by 
a brief statement of the work of the organization. 


Constructive business letters letters written to do busi- 
ness are the commonest application to-day of the art of 
persuasion. They are written for the purpose of making the 
correspondent take the writer's point of view in a matter 


which the writer obviously urges for his own advantage. 
If the correspondent can be made to see that the advantage 
is mutual, the business is done. 

Success in this type of letter depends partly upon the 
writer's knowledge of the workings of the human mind, 
partly upon the degree to which he succeeds in taking his 
correspondent's point of view as the first step toward 
changing it, and partly upon the skill with which the letter 
is written. 

Experience with human nature tells the writer that the 
chances are that the recipient of the letter will be either in- 
different or disinclined to his proposition. The problem, 
then, is how to avoid increasing this disinclination, if it exists, 
how to overcome this indifference. The first step must be 
to begin with something that will attract his attention and 
hold it, that will appeal to his reason, his tastes, or his 

If you know the individual to whom you are writing, your 
problem is greatly simplified. You can visualize him, and 
ask yourself: "How would old Sharpeye take this? " You 
know more or less about his tastes and his prejudices, and 
you can appeal to the one and avoid the other. 

When you do not know your correspondent, you have only 
general principles to guide you, such as the fact that people like 
to be comfortable, to be thought individual and up-to-date, 
to get their money's worth, to have as many conveniences 
and luxuries as their neighbors, and so on. You also know 
that different classes of people must be appealed to in dif- 
ferent ways. You will not write to a college professor, a 
farmer, a soapmaker, and a railway conductor in the same 
terms. If it is your business to write to them all, you will 
adapt the general principles of human nature to meet the 
peculiar developments of character that grow out of occupa- 
tion and habit. 

When you have made up your mind as to the land of letter 


that will probably appeal to your correspondent, you will 
try to put yourself in his place, asking yourself: "If I were 
Professor Gaunt or Farmer Hayrick, what should I say to 
myself on reading such a letter? " And in accordance with the 
answer that you make to yourself, your letter should be re- 
vised and rephrased. Naturally, the more experience you 
have of people, the nearer will you come to guessing right 
the first time. 

The style of the letter will vary according to your concep- 
tion of its recipient; but in most cases reasonableness has a 
better effect than dogmatic statement or even strict argu- 
ment. People like to be led imperceptibly, and to believe 
that the decisions which they are helped to make are really 
of their own making. However much "punch" and "pep'* 
you use in stating the advantages of your proposition and 
many persons resent "punch" and "pep," and decline to be 
'' hustled " the main thing is to establish in your corre- 
spondent by suggestion the feeling that he will be the loser 
if he does not agree to the plan you propose. 

If you form the habit of examining critically all sorts of 
business proposals, you will soon learn to recognize those 
that have the right tone and get results. You can judge in 
some measure by noting their effect upon yourself, and then 
analyzing them to see why they had such an effect. Careful 
study of successful letters is the best means of becoming a 
writer of such letters. 


1. Discuss such constructive business letters as you have been 
able to obtain, by analyzing their effects upon yourself. 

2. Write a business letter addressed to some business man of 
your acquaintance, trying to sell him a house. Keep in mind 
throughout your letter the kind of man with whom you are dealing, 
and also the kind of house; try to make him see that the house will 
exactly meet his requirements. 


3. These letters being exchanged, reply to the one that you re- 
ceive, according to the effect that it makes upon you. If it makes 
you feel strongly inclined to buy, write a letter in which you try to 
arrange for better terms. If you are not persuaded that the pur- 
chase is advisable, your reply will be an unfavorable criticism of the 
original letter. 

This correspondence may be continued until several letters have 
been exchanged. 

4. Cut out three "Help Wanted" notices from a newspaper, and 
answer them in such a way that the advertiser will wish to engage 
you rather than the other applicants. 

5. These letters should be exchanged and answered in the person 
of the advertiser. The reply will show the success of the original 

C. The whole class should reply to one or more advertisements 
chosen by the instructor; and the best among these replies should 
form the basis of class discussion. 

7. Write a letter to your senator on some matter that concerns 
the public welfare. 

8. Write a letter to your newspaper, complaining of some public 



THERE are three elements in the rhythm of verse. In 
addition to word accent, and emphasis according to the 
meaning of the sentence, a regular arrangement of. so many 
stressed and so many unstressed syllables is imposed upon 
each line. As a rule either one or two unstressed syllables 
are combined with a stressed syllable to form what is called a 
foot. The feet commonly recognized in English are: 

1. One unstressed syllable followed by one stressed: iam- 
bus, iambic foot: 

She knows not what the curse may be, 

And so, she weaveth steadily, 

> i t i 

And little other care hath she, 

The Lady of Shalott. Tennyson. 

2. One stressed syllable followed by one unstressed: tro- 
chee, trochaic foot: 

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, 
Little breezes dusk and shiver, 
Thro' the wave that runs forever 
By the island in the river 

Flowing down to Camelot. . . . Tennyson. 

3. Two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed sylla- 
ble: anapest, anapestic foot: 


VERSE 399 

And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy; 

4. One stressed syllable followed by two unstressed sylla- 
bles: dactyl, dactylic foot: 

Shedding my song upon height, upon hollow (hollow = trochee) 


5. Two stressed syllables, one of which represents either 
one or two unstressed syllables: spondee, spondaic foot: 

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep 
Moans round with many voices. . . . Tennyson. 

Here the syllables day, moon, moans, take the place of a 
single unstressed syllable. 

Sing, while the hours and the wild birds follow. . . . 


Here the syllable birds represents two unstressed syllables. 

You will find by experiment in reading aloud that the 
lines beginning with stressed syllables move more quickly 
and lightly than those beginning with unstressed syllables, 
that the dactyl is quicker than the trochee because of the 
additional unstressed syllable, and that the spondee with 
its two stressed syllables is slowest of all. Note the effect of 
the two spondees in the fifth example. 

These five feet are variously combined in lines of different 
lengths. Usually the dactyls and trochees are found to- 
gether, and the anapests and iambi; the spondees may be 
used anywhere. But perhaps the commonest substitution 
of all is the trochee for the iambus: 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 
Life to the lees : all times I have enjoy'd 


Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those 
That loved me, and alone Tennyson. 

The commonest line in English is the iambic pentameter, 
consisting of five iambi, with occasional substitution of 
trochees or spondees a substitution especially common in 
the first foot. 

In the following examples, note how the word accent and 
the emphasis required to bring out the sense, and the beat 
of the verse at times come together and again fall apart: 

And the first grey of morning fill'd the east. 

And the fog rose out of the Oxus stream. 

But all the Tartar camp along the stream 

Was hush'd, and still the men were plunged in sleep; 

Sohrab alone, he slept not; all night long 

He had lain wakeful, tossing on his bed; .... 

Matthew Arnold. 

Here, as it happens, the word accents all coincide with the 
verse accents; but the verse accents and sense stresses 
diverge widely. Sometimes the sense requires as many as 
eight stresses, sometimes only four; and the verse accents 
fall on words quite unimportant to the sense. The art of 
reading such verse consists in keeping a nice adjustment 
between the different stresses, letting the five beats of the 
line be felt distinctly, and yet throwing the main emphasis 
on the sense. 

The iambic pentameter line unrhymed is called blank verse. 
As in the passage quoted above, it contains usually more or 
less than the five stresses normal to the meter. According 
to the sense, the commonest number of stresses is four; but 
three are found also: 

In offices of tenderness and pay 


VERSE 401 

And, on the other hand, there may be as many as eight or 
even more. 

Of rhyming lines, very common is the pentameter couplet, 
called the heroic couplet: 

Tis hard to say if greater want of skill 
Appear in writing or in judging ill, . . . Pope 
Common also is the four foot tetrameter couplet: 

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied, 

Went roaring up the chimney wide; 

The huge hall-table's oaken face, 

Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace. . . .Scott. 

As parts of different stanza forms, we find also one-foot 
lines (monometer), two-foot lines (dimeter), three-foot lines 
(trimeter), six-foot lines (hexameter), and even seven-foot 
lines (heptameter) . These it is not necessary to discuss, as 
they combine in all sorts of ways and consist of all kinds 
of combinations of feet. 

Of stanzaic arrangements of lines, the commonest are: the 
four-line stanza (ballad meter); six-line stanza; eight-line 
stanza (ottava rima); the seven-line stanza (rhyme-royal), 
the nine-line stanza (Spenserian); the twelve-line stanza; and 
the sonnet (fourteen-line poem in stanzaic form). The six, 
eight, and twelve-line stanzas are various arrangements of 
five, four, and three feet; and the rhyme schemes are in all 
sorts of patterns. We shall speak in more detail of the other 
stanza forms. 

In addition to rhyme, which is a structural feature in 
binding couplets together and stanzas together, English uses 
as a device for ornament alliteration the association of a 
group of words by beginning them with the same letter. In 
Old English this was structural that is, it held together the 


two parts of a line: 

In a summer season when soft was the Sunshine. 

To-day, however, the alliteration is inserted at irregular 
intervals, to link together words already associated closely 
in sense; they thus become doubly rememberable : 

. . . magic casements, opening on the foam 
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. Keats. 

Alliteration is only one of the many devices for associating 
sounds to secure particular effects . The study of the group- 
ings of vowels and consonants for the sake of their tone 
values would make a separate book; but even now, in connec- 
tion with the study of verse, you can train your eye and ear 
to observe the difference between the work of poets who use 
sounds in this way and those who do not. Compare, for 
instance, Keats's poems any of them with Scott's; com- 
pare Lanier's, or Poe's or Moody's with Lowell's, or Bryant's 
or Whittier's. These last have merits of other sorts; but 
the devices of tone manipulation seem to have been used, 
when at all, unconsciously by them. 

There has always been some poetry that did not conform 
to the principles outlined above; but within recent years the 
tendency has become much more marked, and free verse, 
as it is called, that is, verse of which the length and the 
accent are determined by the content and not restricted by 
measure or by rhyme is much cultivated. Into the merits 
and possibilities of this form, this is not the place to enter. 
When it is practised by a genius like Walt Whitman, or Ed- 
ward Carpenter, it acquires a magnificent swing; but when 
it is written by people who find the difficulties of measured 
verse beyond them, it is not distinguishable from prose. 


1. The following passage is blank verse rearranged without alter- 
ing a word. Restore it to the correct form, and mark the stresses. 

VERSE 403 

Show where word accent, emphasis to bring out meaning, and verse 
stress coincide and where they diverge: 

For he seem'd very young, reared tenderly; tall, and dark, and 
straight, like some young cypress, which, by midnight, throws on 
the moonlit turf its slight dark shadow to a bubbling fountain's 
sound, in a queen's secluded garden. Matthew Arnold. 

2. The following passage is rearranged without altering a word 
from a poem in rhyming tetrameter couplets. Restore the original 
form and describe it: 

Then came in the merry maskers, and roared carols with blithe- 
some din; if the song was unmelodious, it was a strong and hearty 
note. Who lists may see in their mumming traces of ancient mys- 
tery; white skirts supplied the masquerade, and smutted cheeks 
made the visors: But oh what richly dight maskers can boast of 
half so light bosoms? When old Christmas brought his sports 
again, England was merry England. Scott. 

3. Turn the following prose into blank verse, changing the words 
as little as possible: 

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the 
wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name 
of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called 
Vanity Fair: it is kept all the year long; it beareth the name of 
Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than van- 
ity; and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, 
is vanity. As is the saying of the wise, "All that cometh is vanity." 



The ballad was to the people in the Middle Ages what the 
short story is to-day. It was usually episodic in character; 
and sometimes there grew up a group of episodes concerning 
the same characters, as in the Robin Hood Ballads. 

Before you try your hand at a ballad, let us study the form 
and content of one that is fairly typical. Note first of all the 
meter a four-lines tanza, consisting alternately of four-and 
three-stress lines, of which only the second and fourth rhyme. 
Ballads are written in other meters, but this is the com- 



The king sits in Dunfermling toune, 

Drinking the blude-reid wine: 
"O whar will I get guid sailor, 

To sail this schip of mine? " 

The opening lines picture the situation (in some ballads the 
time also is given, as: "It befell at Martynmas"). Then the 
plot begins to move with an abrupt quotation without any 
word to show who the speaker is. 

Up and spak an eldern knicht, 

Sat at the king's richt kne: 
"Sir Patrick Spence is the best sailor, 

That sails upon the se." 

Here the first line shows inversion of the natural sentence 
order; and the phrasing is of a conventional type repeated 
again and again in the various ballads. The second line 
omits the pronoun subject also a common feature. The 
third and fourth lines show the use of alliteration, which is 
very common. 

The king has written a braid letter, 

And signed it wi his hand, 
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spence, 

Was walking on the sand. 

Here the only new point to note is the picturing of insignifi- 
cant details. 

The first line that Sir Patrick red, 

A loud lauch lauched he; 
The next line that Sir Patrick red, 

The teir blinded his ee. 

"O wha is this has don this deid, 

This ill deid don to me, 
To send me out this time o' the yeir, 

To sail upon the se 

VERSE 405 

In the first stanza we have an alliterative phrase; and the 
third line repeats with a slight variation the content of the 
first. In the second stanza, the first line is exclamatory, 
introduced by 0; more, the speech is given without intro- 
ductory words. These are all common ballad features. 

"Mak hast, mak haste, my mirry men all, 

Our guid schip sails the morne:" 
"O say na sae, my master deir, 

For I feir a deadlie storme. 

Here we have the repetition of a phrase, besides the allitera- 
tion in the first line. In the third line, we find a change of 
speaker, without any indication beyond the content of the 
spoken words. 

"Late, late yestreen I saw the new moone, 

Wi the auld moone in hir arme, 
And I feir, I feir, my deir master, 

That we will cum to harme." 

Here we have a different ballad feature allusion to omens : 

O our Scots nobles wer richt laith 

To weet their cork-heild schoone; 
Bot lang owre a' the play were playd, 

Thair hats they swam aboone. 

Note the exclamatory form, the strong contrast: the men 
who were loth to wet the heels of their fine shoes swam so 
deep that the water rose above their hats; that is, they were 
drowned. This indirect way of getting over an event by 
means of some apparently trivial detail which suggests the 
whole is also characteristic of the ballad. 

O lang, lang may their ladies sit, 
Wi thair fans into their hand, 
Or eir they se Sir Patrick Spence 
Cum sailing to the land. 

Here we have a picture again; and its effectiveness is in- 
creased by the suggestive contrast between the trivial de- 


tail and the sorrowful state of mind. The alliteration of I is 
very pronounced. 

O lang, lang may the ladies stand, 

Wi thair gold kerns in their hair, 
Waiting for thair ain deir lords, 

For they'll se thame na mair. 

Haf owre, haf owre to Aberdour, 

It's fiftie fadom deip, 
And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spence, 

Wi the Scots lords at his feit. 

Note the repetitions, not merely within the stanza, but linking 
stanza to stanza. In the last two stanzas, the only new points 
to be noted are the definite localization of the disaster, and 
the use of numbers in measurement. What other features 
do you find? 

Taking the ballad as a whole, observe that it does not so 
much relate what happened as give the accompanying de- 
tails which from their emotional significance suggest what 
occurred. Although few ballads carry suggestion to such a 
degree as does this one, they all have a tendency to depend 
upon the intuition and emotion of the audience to fill out 
the story. They are more concerned with the emotional 
effect than with the logic of the presentation. Sometimes 
one or more refrains occur unrelated or meaningless ex- 
pressions of emotion, as : 

" Hey lilelu an a how low Ian 

An it's hey down down deedle airo." 


1. Collect in the form of a 300-word report your notes on the 
characteristics of the ballad. 

2. If possible, read other ballads (Manly's English Prose and 
Poetry, pp. 74-84); then write a ballad of 10 or more stanzas, 
trying to use as many of the ballad features as you can. Choose for 

VERSE 407 

your subject some familiar old story or character; or you may 
use one of the following: 

The Green Knight (Manly, English Prose and Poetry, pp. 37-46, 
with note) 

The Death of Arthur (ibid., pp. 84-86) 

The Lady of the Land (ibid., pp. 31-32) 

The Battle of Otterburn (ibid., pp. 77-80), writing from the 
women's point of view. 


Two of the most striking stanzas in English are built upon 
the same basis the eight-line iambic pentameter stanza 
(ottava rima), rhyming ababbcbc, which is not common. 
The stanzas based upon it are: rhyme royal (so named 
from King James I of Scotland who used it), which drops the 
seventh line, and thus has the rhyme scheme ababbcc; and 
the Spenserian stanza (named from Edmund Spenser, who 
invented it in his Faerie Queene), which adds a ninth line 
containing six iambic feet the alexandrine rhyming with 
the eighth line, thus rhyming ababbcbcc. 

There are two ways of becoming familiar with these 
stanzas: one is to read much verse written in them; the other 
is to practise writing a few verses in each. Among the famous 
poems written in the rhyme royal are: Chaucer's Troilus and 
Cressida and William Morris's The Lady of the Land. Among 
the famous poems in the Spenserian stanza are Spenser's 
Faerie Queene, Shelley's Adonais, and Keats's Eve of St. 


1. Study the following stanza carefully, and write the prose be- 
low it in the same form: 

"It happened once, some men of Italy 
Midst the Greek Islands went a sea-roving, 
And much good fortune had they on the sea: 
Of many a man they had the ransoming, 
And many a chain they gat, and goodly thing; 


And midst their voyage to an isle they came, 
Whereof my story keepeth not the name." 

William Morris. 

Thus did he come at last to the castle, but when he drew near 
unto the gateway, and passed underneath its ruined archway into 
a court, he did hear a strange noise, and there shot a pang of fear 
through his heart; he, trembling, gat into his hand his sword, and 
took his stand midmost of the cloisters. 

2. The following is an example of the Spenserian stanza. Write 
the prose below it in the same form: 

" There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society where none intrudes, 
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: 
I love not man the less, but Nature more, 
From these our interviews, from which I steal 
From all I may be, or have been before, 
To mingle with the Universe, and feel 

What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal." Byron. 

Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part of me and of 
my soul, as I of them? Is not the love of these deep in my heart 
with a pure passion? should I not contemn all objects, if compared 
with these? and stem a tide of suffering rather than forego such 
feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm of those whose eyes, gazing 
upon the ground, are only turned below, with thoughts which dare 
not glow? 


One of the commonest of verse forms to-day is the sonnet, 
which was borrowed from an Italian form in the 16th century. 

It consists of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, embody- 
ing a single main thought which is viewed usually from two 
more or less contrasted aspects. The first aspect usually 
ends with the eighth line; and the first eight lines are called 
the octave, while the last six lines are called the sestet. 

In their rhyme schemes sonnets fall into two main groups, 
the first of which follow the Italian form more closely, while 
the second use an English adaptation of it made in the 16th 
century. Milton is the great exponent of the Italian type. 

VERSE 409 

which has also been much used by modern sonneteers 
Wordsworth, the Brownings, the Rossettis, and others; 
while Shakespeare is the chief exponent of the English type. 

In the Italian type, the octave is as a rule rigid in structure, 
the commonest form of it being abbaabba, containing only 
two rhymes, while the sestet shows all sorts of variations, 
containing often, however, in different arrangements, the 
rhymes cde. 

The English type falls into four divisions: three qua- 
trains, and a concluding couplet, with the rhyme scheme 
ababcdcdef ef gg. There are some variations ; but this arrange- 
ment is preponderant. 

Sonnets are easy to write, partly because the form itself 
somewhat definitely limits the thought, and partly because 
the lines are long enough to give plenty of scope for expres- 
sion of it. Practice in sonnet writing is especially valuable 
for fixing the attention upon the problems connected with 
the writing of verse. 


1. Study the following sonnet of the Italian type, and then con- 
vert, without changing a word, the prose below it into a sonnet of 
the same type: 

Remember me when I am gone away, 

Gone far away into the silent land ; 

When you can no more hold me by the hand, 
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay. 
Remember me when no more, day by day, 

You tell me of our future that you planned: 

Only remember me; you understand 
It will be late to counsel then or pray. 
Yet if you should forget me for a while 

And afterwards remember, do not grieve: 

For if the darkness and corruption leave 

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, 
Better by far you should forget and smile 

Than that you should remember and be sad. 

Christina Rosseti. 


A flock of sheep that pass by leisurely, one after one; the sound 
of rain, and murmuring bees; the fall of seas, rivers, and winds; 
smooth fields, pure sky, and white sheets of water: I have thought 
of all by turns, and yet do lie sleepless, and soon must hear the 
small birds' melodies, uttered first from my orchard trees, and 
the first cuckoo's melancholy cry. 

Even thus I lay last night, and two nights more, and could not 
by any stealth win thee, Sleep! Do not let me wear tonight away 
so. What is all the morning's wealth without Thee? Come, dear 
mother of joyous health and fresh thoughts, blessed barrier between 
day and day! 

2. Study the following sonnet of the English type, and then 
change the prose into another sonnet of the same form: 

"When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, 
I all alone beweep my outcast state 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries 
And look upon myself and curse my fate, 
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd, 
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, 
With what I most enjoy contented least; 
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, 
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate; 
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings 
That then I scorn to change my state with kings." 


When I am dead no longer mourn for me than you shall hear 
the surly sullen bell give warning to the world that I am fled from 
this vile world, to dwell with vilest worms: Nay, remember not, if 
you read this line, the hand that writ it; for I love you so that I 
would be forgot in your sweet thoughts if thinking on me then 
should make you woe. O, if, I say, when I am perhaps compounded 
with clay, you look upon this verse, do not rehearse so much as 
my poor name, but let your love decay even with my life, lest after 
I am gone the wise world should look into your moan and mock you 
with me. 




Rules for Manuscript 

1. Use good, unlined paper, 8 x 11| inches. 

2. Never roll the sheets, and never fasten them together 
except with a detachable metal clip. 

Send manuscript, folded only once or not at all, in strong 
manila paper envelopes, with postage to cover its return. 

3. Place your full address at both the beginning and the 
end of the manuscript. 

4. Write the title in capitals at the top of the first page. 
Do not quote or underline the title. 

5. Number the pages in arabic numerals. Additional 
pages, after the paper is finished, may be inserted by num- 
bering them la, 2a, 2b, etc. 

6. Write on one side of the sheet only. 

7. Typewrite if possible. If not, take great pains to write 
legibly (cf. 42). 

8. Footnotes should be inserted on the page immediately 
after the word or passage to which they refer, and this should 
be marked with an index number. 

Draw lines above and below the note to separate it from 
the body of the text. In typewriting use single spacing for 
notes. Thus: 

had a goose for his ensign, whence it is that some learned men 
pretend to deduce his original from Jupiter Capitolinus. 1 At his left 

1 alluding to the story that Rome was saved by the cackling of geese 

9. A translation or short explanation, as in 8, may be 



given without capitals or punctuation; but a long note fol- 
lows the usual rules. 

10. References should be given in as brief form as is 
consistent with perfect clearness: 

Cf. Genesis, iv:21. Cf. Hamlet, HI, ii. Iff. 

11. In repeating immediately a reference to a book, the 
abbreviation ibid, (in the same place) is used: 

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Skeat, I, 24. 
Ibid., p. 35. 

If, however, another title intervenes, ibid, cannot be used, 
as it always means " the same reference as that immediately 

The repetition of a long title is avoided by the abbrevia- 
tion op. cit. (work cited) with the author's name and the 
page reference, thus: 

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I, 276. 
Gibbon, op. cit., II, 115. 

But such reference must never be made unless the title has 
been given in full earlier, and unless the reference is un- 

12. An article or a periodical can be referred to briefly 
by means of loc. cit. (the place cited), if the name has recently 
been given in full: 

Modern Philology, VI, 297. 
Loc. cit., 299. 

13. Observe that when a volume number is necessary, it 
should be in Roman numerals. After such a numeral, the 
page number is sufficient, without the abbreviation p. for 
page. But when there is no volume number, p. should be 

Op. cit., p. 289. 

For abbreviations to be used in footnotes, cf. 132. 

14. Leave margins as follows: 

(1) Below the title at least an inch. 


(2) On the left, from half an inch to an inch and a half. 
More is needed for large writing than for small. 

(3) On the right, enough to keep the letters from crowding 
to the edge of the page. 

(4) At the bottom, and at the top of each page after the 
first, enough to avoid the appearance of crowding. 

(5) At the beginning of each paragraph, enough inden- 
tion (half an inch or so) to make the paragraphing appear 
at a glance. 

In general, train your eye by observation and experiment 
until you have a sense of good proportion in this respect. 

15. In quoting verse, try to place your lines so that they 
will not have to be carried over. When, however, carrying 
over is unavoidable, indent your left-over part further to 
the right than the margin for the beginning of each line; 
and see that your practice is uniform. 

16. For blank verse and couplets the margin is everywhere 
the same except at the beginning of a paragraph. 

In quoting irregular forms of verse, follow the author's 
practice in regard to indention. 

17. Outlines are subject to the same rules as verse: see 15, 

Rules for Personal Letters 

18. Exercise judgment and care in regard to mechanical 
details. Use good, unlined paper, 5 x 6| inches, white, 
cream, or neutral tinted; and envelopes that fit and match 
the paper. 

Avoid, as you would the plague, gilt edges, stamped in- 
itials and other ornaments, and perfume. 

Write with good blue or black ink, and a pen that does 
not dig holes in the paper. 

Pencil should never be used if ink is procurable. 

19. The heading of a letter should include the full post- 
office address and date. 

20. Names of streets, towns, states, and countries should 
be spelled out in full except when they are very long, as 
D. C., U. S. A., etc. 


21. A house number should be given in numerals, but a 
number used for a street should be spelled out unless it is 
very long above one hundred, for instance. 

22. The day of the month and the year should be given 
in numerals. It is no longer customary to add -st, -nd, -rd, 
-th, to the number of the day. 

23. The heading should begin to the right of the center 
of the page, and each line should be further to the right 
than the one above, thus : 

119a East Ward Street 
New York City 
June 6, 1918 

16 Chestnut Boulevard 
Seattle, Washington 
July 1, 1918 

Observe that the only punctuation used is a comma between 
the names of town and state, and between the day of the 
month and the year. This is the best modern usage. 

24. In an informal note to a friend the heading may 
be omitted, with the exception of the date, which, in this 
event, should be at the end and to the left of the signature. 
In fact, in intimate personal letters a large amount of devia- 
tion from the usual customs of good form is indulged in even 
by the most cultivated writers; but the beginner who allows 
himself much liberty in this respect runs the risk of estab- 
lishing careless habits which he is likely to carry over into 
formal writing. 

25. In the greeting, note that My dear Mr. Smith is more 
formal than Dear Mr. Smith. The greeting should always 
be followed by a comma only, never by comma and dash, 
semicolon, or colon and dash. 

26. The pages should be covered as they come when the 
paper lies with the folded edge at the left. 

Do not write on the fourth page until the second and third 
pages have been covered; do not begin with the fourth page; 
and when you know that your letter will cover more than 
one page but less than two, write on the first and third pages. 


27. It is not necessary to number the pages; but if more 
than one sheet is covered, the sheets should be numbered. 

28. Do not write lengthwise of any of the pages. Do not 
write in the margin, or above the heading. Never cross 
your writing. 

29. The close may be an adverb followed or preceded 
by yours, which is punctuated with a comma (Sincerely 
yours,) or Your followed by an adjective, which is used 
without a comma (Your loving). 

It is not good form to use an adverb alone (Sincerely). 

30. The signature should not be followed by a period. 

31. Envelopes should be addressed without punctuation 
except for abbreviations. 

The lines may be written keeping the same margin at the 
left, or progressing gradually to the right. The former 
method is the newer. 

32. Avoid the following: 
No. before a street number 
P. 0. before Box 

City for the name of the city 
To unless the address begins with The 
Cfo for Care of 

The use of a man's title in addressing his wife, as: Mrs. Dr. 

Formal Letters 

33. These have become almost stereotyped. The follow- 
ing may be adapted to any social occasion: 


Miss Eleanor Beecher requests the pleasure of Miss Janet Taylor's 
company at luncheon on Friday, May twentieth, at half-past one 
o'clock, to meet Miss Jane Cunningham. 

Please reply. 
52 Scott Street. 


Miss Janet Taylor accepts with pleasure Miss Beecher's kind 
invitation to meet Miss Cunningham at luncheon on Friday, May 
twentieth, at half-past one o'clock. 
Eighty-two Division Street. 



Miss Janet Taylor regrets that a previous engagement prevents 
her acceptance of Miss Beecher's kind invitation to luncheon on 
Friday, May twentieth. 
Eighty- two Division St., 

May tenth. 

A reply to an invitation issued by two people jointly, 
should be addressed to the senior; or if by husband and wife, 
to the wife. 

Observe that in an acceptance the hour of the event to 
which the invitation refers should be stated. In declining 
an invitation, it is not necessary to mention the hour. 

Rules for Business Letters 

34. Rules, 1, 5, 6, 7, and 14, (2)-(5), under Manuscript, 
and 19-23, and 30-32, under Personal Letters apply to Busi- 
ness Letters also. 

35. Place immediately above the greeting your corre- 
spondent's full address, thus: 

(1) Square (2) En Echelon 

Mr. G. A. Adams Or: Mr. G. A. Adams 
Hyde Building Hyde Building 

Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha, Nebraska. 

Dear Sir: Dear Sir: 

The lines may be arranged with equal indention, as in (1), or 
indented progressively toward the right, as in (2). The 
former is the newer way. 

36. A period should be placed at the end of the address; 
and the simplest punctuation after the greeting is the colon, 
which is to be preferred to the comma as being more formal. 

37. The preferred forms of greeting for business letters 
are: Dear Sir; Dear Madam; Gentlemen or Dear Sirs; and 

Under no circumstances should such forms as Dear Friend; 
Dear Miss; Friend Perkins; Mess.; Gents be used. 

38. For a stranger the best form of close is: Yours very 
truly, or Very truly yours. For a business letter to an ac- 
quaintance, or even a friend, the usual close is Sincerely 


yours. Respectfully is to be avoided. / remain implies 

(previous acquaintance. 
39. A married woman writing to a stranger should always 
sign herself in the form given below: 

Winifred M. Ewart (Mrs. J. H.). 

It is not necessary for an unmarried woman to write (Miss) 
after her name; but she should always spell out her Christian 
name instead of using merely initials. 

40. A business letter to a friend should observe all the 
formalities used in any business letter if it is to be placed on 
file where it may be read by strangers. 

41. Fold business letters as follows: If there are two or 
more pages, place them so that the edges are even; holding 
them firmly, bring the bottom edges up even with the top 
edges, and crease the middle sharply; turn the crease to the 
left, fold the edge nearest you back to about two-thirds the 
height of the paper, and bring the top edge toward you, creas- 
ing neatly each time. 

Place the folded sheets in the evelope with the opening 
of the last fold toward the opening of the envelope. 


42. Illegibility is not a mark of distinction; in a young 
person sound in body and in mind it is merely indicative 
of carelessness and lack of courtesy. The following hints 
may help you : 

(1) Aim to normalize your writing in size. Both large 
and small writing try the eyes and the patience of the reader. 

(2) Leave spaces equivalent to at least two letters be- 
tween words; more between sentences within the paragraph, 
but never more than twice as much as between words. Never 
leave half a line vacant after a sentence and begin the next 
sentence at the margin. 

(3) Keep your lines far enough apart to prevent the long 
strokes of the letters from crossing. 

(4) Never connect words or fail to connect all the letters 
of one word. 


(5) Keep punctuation marks distinct from the letters: 
dot all i's and j's, and cross all t's and x's. 

(6) Write with unusual care all letters which are easily 
confused with others, as n and u, a and o, h and k. 

(7) Take special care with all proper names. 

(8) It is bad taste to use unnecessary strokes or flourishes, 
or shading, or to give your letters eccentric forms. 



Library Notes 

43. MATERIALS: (1) Packets of cards or blocks of paper 
always of the same size. Library index cards (3x5 inches) 
or blocks of that size are convenient. If you use the paper 
blocks, the backs will support your pages. The cards are 
better, but the paper is much cheaper. 

(2) Cards or paper of several different colors to be used 
for guides to different subjects or phases of a subject. 

(3) Elastic bands for holding your cards together until 
they are filed. 

(4) Library Index boxes. Library boxes (6 x 11 inches) 
may be bought at small cost; or shoe boxes will serve the 
purpose. If you keep notes on more than one subject 
in the same box, you should not fail to use guide cards, 
alphabetically or systematically arranged. 

44. METHODS: (1) Write on one side of the card only. 

(2) Choose whether you will write the long way or the 
short way of the card; and stick to your choice. The long 
way is better because it enables you to read a card without 
removing it from the index box. 

(3) Write legibly. 

(4) Leave generous spaces. You will save time by so 

(5) Write the subject in the upper left-hand corner of 
the card. 


(6) Put only one point on a card. 

(7) If a point is too long for one card, cany the heading 
over to a second card, and number the second card. 

(8) Give the authority for each fact on the same card 
with it. 

(9) Make every reference so complete that you can 
turn without delay to the place. The reference should 

Author's name; with Christian name or initials, if the 
surname is common or belongs to more than one well-known 

Full title, though the words may be abbreviated. 

Date of edition; page numbers vary in different editions. 

Volume number in Roman numerals. 

Page number. 

Note Card 

Art, Shakespeare's knowledge of 

Lucrece 1366-1561 perh. sugg. by Fr. 
or Flem. tapestries, ab. 1480-1500. 

See S. Colvin, in A Book of Homage to 
Shakesp., ed. I. Gollancz, London, 1916, 
p. 99. 

(10) When you quote, quote exactly, inserting capitals,, 
italics, punctuation, just as they stand in the text; and 
never by any chance omit quotation marks. 

(11) When you are summarizing the ideas of a passage, 
you can save space in two ways: (1) by omitting articles, 
copulas, connectives, and in general words that are struc- 
tural in function and contribute nothing to the ideas; and 
(2) by abbreviating and contracting words that occur 
frequently, as, for example: hist[ory]; Rom[an] Emp[ire]; 
M[iddle] Afges]; feudalism]; H'y 8; Kath[erine] of Ar[agon} 
parl't; literature] ; etc., etc. In short, practice abbrevia- 



tion wherever you can without loss of clearness, but bear 
in mind that an abbreviation that is easily intelligible 
when you make it may become uncertain and unintelligible 
in a year. 

You should make your own system and stick to it. 

(12) If you do not wish to quote, and still find it difficult 
to get away from the words of your authority, close your 
book and make notes from memory; then verify your 
statements by comparison. 

(13) Unless the quotation is either more condensed or 
to a marked degree more effective than your own wording, 
take the gist of a statement rather than an exact transcript. 

(14) In making a bibliography, write only one title on a 
card; and give complete information, thus: (a) Author's 
full name; (b) complete title; (c) name of series, if the work 
belongs to a series, or name of publication, if it is part of a 
larger work or of a periodical; (d) publisher's name; (e) 
place or places of publication; (f) date of publication. 

Bibliography Card 

Wheatley, Henry B. 

How to Make an Index 

pp. xii+236 
(The Book Lover's Library) 

Elliot Stock, 
London, 1902 

Class Notes 

45. MATERIALS: (1) Use a loose-leaved notebook, as this 
gives greater flexibility in omitting and adding to your 

(2) Write in ink. Pencil rubs and becomes untidy and 

46. METHODS: (1) Leave generous spaces, so that you 
can see at a glance the content of a page. 

(2) Make your notes reproduce the outline of the lee- 


ture as far as possible. Listen for the statement of heads 
and subheads the topic sentences of paragraphs. 

(3) Note with extreme care all references, as these will 
help you to fill out your outline. 

(4) Omit anecdotes, and detailed illustrations. These 
tend to clog the main line of thought. 

(5) Write all names and dates with great care. 

(6) Make your own system of abbreviation for words, 
and stick to it. See 44 (11). It is a good plan to have a 
key of your abbreviations in the front of your notebook, 
for reference in case of doubt as to your meaning. 

(7) Learn to omit the unimportant words in the sen- 
tence; that is, words readily supplied from the context, 
such as: articles and demonstrative adjectives, the copula, 
adverbs, and non-essential adjectives. 

47. Try to make your notes progressive in value. Mere 
practice is not enough for success in this direction; attention 
and ingenuity in devising better individual methods, 
adapted to each subject, are necessary. The habit of 
taking a few notes that will suggest and bring before the 
mind the whole substance of a lecture is well worth while; 
but the practice of setting down a number of stray sen- 
tences that mean little or nothing when they are read 
afterward is obviously a waste of time. Unless you can 
learn to take notes properly, it is better to train your 
memory to carry the lecture as a whole, and then try to 
write a digest of it after you leave the classroom; but this 
process is more difficult for the beginner than taking notes 
in class. 


48. Capital letters and italic type are two means com- 
monly used by printers to help bring out the exact meaning 
of written language. In this respect they are like punctua- 
tion. There are two ways to learn to use capitals and 


italics properly, just as there are two ways to learn punctua- 
tion: one is to memorize a large number of detailed rules 
and examples; the other and better way is to understand 
the real meaning of a few principles and apply them with 
ordinary intelligence. 


49. Capitals are used for two fundamental purposes: 
(1) to indicate the beginning of a thought-unit that is to be 
marked off as in some way independent, separated from 
what precedes it; (2) to indicate a personal name or the 
equivalent of one. 


50. Capitalize the first word of every sentence, direct, 
or quoted, or standing alone in parenthesis: 

He asked, "Who did this?" 
Charles. (He speaks slowly.) Ma-ry! 

51. But do not capitalize the first word of a parenthetical 
sentence that is thrust into another sentence: 

There was a loud noise (never have I heard anything so terrify- 
ing) in the next room. 

52. Do not capitalize the first word of any clause of an 
interrogative compound sentence except the first: 

Who will feed them? and who will clothe them? and who will 
pay the rent? 

53. Do not capitalize the first word of a quotation that 
is not a sentence. 

These are "winged words," in a sense never dreamed of by Homer. 

54. Capitalize the first word after a colon when it in- 
troduces a complete passage or a sentence not closely con- 
nected with what precedes: 

In conclusion, I wish to say this : These illustrations are all typical, 
not exceptional, cases. 


55. The expressions as follows, namely, to wit, and thus 
and as used in the same sense, are always followed by the 
colon, and usually they set off what follows from what 
precedes the colon so distinctly that a capital is needed to 
begin the sentence after the colon. 

56. Capitalize the first word in sections of an enumera- 
tion, if any member contains two or more clauses sep- 
arated by a semicolon or comma: 

My reasons for going are these: (1) My friends want me to come, 
and this is my only chance of seeing Clara for many years; (2) It 
seems possible to get the money now; (3) My health will be im- 
mensely improved by the trip; and (4) There should be in Kashmir 
much new and interesting material for a book. 

57. Do not capitalize short items words or phrases 
of an informal enumeration: 

This is my daily program: rise at seven; breakfast at eight; work 
till one . . . 

58. In any itemized list paragraphed separately, as in 
an order for merchandise, capitalize the first word of each 


Please send me the following articles: 
Ten yards of ribbon to match sample 
Five yards of silk 
One pair of white glace" kid gloves, size 6^ 

59. In resolutions, capitalize the first word after Whereas 
and Resolved, and the first word in each new paragraph or 
section, whether the introductory word is repeated, or not: 

Resolved, That the Illinois Congress of Mothers urges more simple 
living, in order that the fathers may have the opportunity to enjoy 
the full measure of their privileges and responsibilities in regard 
to their children. 

That we recommend simplicity and inexpensive dressing for 
schoolgirls of all ages, and inasmuch as precept is more effective 
if accompanied by example, we strongly urge upon mothers to 
avoid extreme styles and adopt for themselves a simple, modest, 
and becoming style of dress. 


60. Capitalize the first word of every line of verse. 

61. Capitalize the first word in the salutation of a letter: 

Dear Emma; My dear Fred 


62. Capitalize proper names of all persons (human or 
divine), places, and things, or any words used as such: 

Henry Jones; Jupiter; Vishnu; Eclipse (a horse); Australia; the 
Massachusetts General Court; Bunker Hill Monument; the White 
Star Line; the Bay of Fundy; the Finance Committee; Lower 
California; Broad Street Station; Rhode Island Avenue; the United 
States Army; Cook County; the Seventh Ward; a Social Democrat; 
the Fifth Avenue Church. 

63. Fanciful and informal or popular appellations are 
treated as real names: 

the Keystone State; the Windy City; the Hub; the Monument; 
the White House; the Pension Office (for the Bureau of Pensions); 
the Army; the Government; the Treasury; the South; the Middle 
West; the French Revolution; the Renaissance; the Age of Eliza- 
beth; the Thirty Years' War; the Battle of the Marne; the Old 
World; the Reformers; the Falls (meaning Niagara, for example). 

64. The names of the months and the days of the week 
and of civic holidays and special days of historical or 
ecclesiastic significance are treated as proper names; the 
names of the seasons are not: 

July; Monday; Labor Day; Washington's Birthday; Ash Wednes- 
day; the Feast of Tabernacles; Pentecost; Valentine's Day; April 
Fools' Day; but spring; summer; autumn; winter. 

65. Abstract nouns are logically proper nouns, but they 
are capitalized only when personified: 

a child of Nature; Vice is a monster. 

66. Do not capitalize words merely added to a specific 
name and not forming a real part of it or words that express 
a general or a descriptive designation as distinguished from 
a specific name: 

the river Rhine; the lower Mississippi; the empire of Japan; 
the state legislature; the committee; the department; the army 


and navy of Great Britain; the college at Watertown; a true demo- 
crat; five Baptist churches; a Utopia; a philistine; a bohemian; 
morocco (leather); ampere; ohm; kilowatt. 

67. Capitalize all terms used to designate the Supreme 
Being or Power or the Persons of the Christian Trinity: 

the Absolute; the Almighty; the First Cause; the Ruler of the 
universe; the Holy Spirit; the Son; the Messiah; the Logos; the 

68. Capitalize personal pronouns referring to God or 
Christ only when used without an expressed antecedent: 

Worship His name in the beauty of holiness; Trust Him who 
ruleth all things; Suffer the little children, and forbid them not 
to come unto Me. 

But: And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called 

69. Capitalize titles of office, of honor, or of courtesy 
when used as part of a name or as a substitute for a name; 
but not when merely explanatory or descriptive: 

President Wilson; the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Com- 
mander in Chief; Chevalier Ferrata; Baron Tennyson; Sir Walter 
Raleigh; Doctor Green; His Excellency; You will go, Major, to 
New York. 

But: Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States; the suc- 
cession of archbishops of Canterbury; the doctor; the king of Eng- 
land is a hereditary monarch. 

70. Capitalize names of kinship when used in address 
or as substitutes for proper nouns: 

Come here, Sister; I knew Mother would approve. But: Have 
you seen my sister or my mother? 

71. Capitalize the first word and all the principal words 
in titles ' of books and literary articles, documents and 
manuscripts, plays, and pictures: 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; How the Other 
Half Lives; Senate Document No. 2; the Codex Aureus. 

72. Capitalize the article (a, an, or the) at the beginning 
of a name or title only when it forms an integral part of 
the name or title: 


The Hague; The Bronx; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's 
Dream; Kipling's An Habitation Enforced; Hawthorne's The House 
of the Seven Gables. 

72a. But it is not customary to capitalize the article be- 
ginning the name of a newspaper or magazine: 

the Chicago Tribune; the Springfield Republican; the San Fran- 
cisco Call; the Outlook; the Literary Digest. 

73. Capitalize the trade names of articles of commerce, 
but not the noun which names the class to which each be- 

Quaker Oats; Shredded Wheat; Puffed Rice; but the Oliver 
typewriter; Pears' soap; the Star pencil. 

74. Capitalize adjectives derived from proper nouns 
if the original relation to the noun is still maintained: 

Italian painting; Indian pottery; but india rubber; india ink; 
lyonnaise potatoes; navy beans; pasteurized milk; a bohemian 
cafe"; timothy hay. 

75. Prepositions and articles in foreign proper names 
are not to be capitalized when preceded by a Christian 
name or a title: 

the Count de la Rochefoucauld; the Duke d'Abruzzi. 

But the first of them is capitalized if they stand without 
a Christian name or title: 

La Rochefoucauld; De la Torre. 

76. Capitalize the single letter words I and O: 
Then I said: "I cannot tell, O King, if this be true." 


77. Usage is less definitely settled in regard to italics 
than in regard to punctuation, capitalization, or spelling. 
Daily newspapers and most popular that is, non-techni- 
cal periodicals use italics not at all or rarely. Each 
publication has its own " style," or rules of usage, which 
can easily be learned by anyone who needs to know it. 


Most technical periodicals also have special rules based 
upon the supposed requirements of the subjects treated. 

The following are some general rules followed by high 
class publishers : 

78. Italicize titles of separate publications of any form 
of writing, when used in the body of the text, or in foot- 
notes. This includes books, pamphlets of all kinds, periodi- 
cals and newspapers. Names of musical compositions and 
works of art follow the same rule: 

Carpenter, The Art of Creation; All's Well that Ends Well; The 
Faerie Queene; Proceedings of the Modern Language Association; 
Report of the United States Commissioner of Education; Chopin's 
Berceuse; Rembrandt's Last Supper; Whistler's Peacock Room. 

79. Italicize the or a when it forms part of a title; but do 
not italicize the name of the city or the word the in the 
title of a periodical or newspaper: 

the Atlantic Monthly; the Philadelphia Ledger. 

80. Do not italicize the names of books of the Bible 
(including the apocryphal books), or the titles or symbols 
of manuscripts: 

Isaiah; Revelation; MS Harley 2252; Royal E 19. 

81. Do not italicize titles in bibliographical lists. 

82. Some writers italicize the titles of short poems which 
form part of a collection, of essays, of short stories, or of other 
short pieces of writing; others enclose them between quo- 
tation marks (See 228) : 

Christina Rossetti's Golden Market; Kipling's The Man Who Was; 
Lady Gregory's Spreading the News. 

83. Do not italicize or quote the author's name when 
used with the title of a work: 

Wordsworth's "Daffodils"; Scott's Ivanhoe. 

84. Italicize names of ships, docks, and airships: 
Oceanic; East India dock; Canada. 


85. Italicize foreign words and phrases not yet adopted 
into English: 

the doctrine of laissez-faire; the mens sana idea. 

86. Italicize the following words, phrases, and abbrevia- 
tions used in references: 

ad loc.; circa (ca.); et al.; ibid.; idem,' infra; loc. cit.; op, cit.; passim; 
sic; supra; s. v.; vide; also see; see also (in references); and for and 
read (in lists of errata). 

But not. 

cf.; etc.; e. g.; i. e.; v. or vs. (versus); viz. 

87. Italicize letters, words, phrases, clauses, or sentences 
referred to merely as letters, words, phrases, clauses, or 
sentences : 

The letter a is called alpha; the word enthuse is never to be ad- 
mitted into good writing; the phrase near by is often wrongly used 
as an adjective; in the sentence, This is the house that Jack built, 
that Jack built is a clause modifying house. 

88. Italicize, in resolutions, the word Resolved but not 

89. Italicize any word or group of words for strong 

This use has become an abuse among cheap and sensa- 
tional writers. The fewer the italicized words and phrases, 
the more effective they are when they appear. 

90. Do not italicize to call attention to a humorous or 
ironical expression. 

91. In preparing manuscript for the printer, words to be 
italicized should be underscored with a single straight line 
( ). Two lines (=) call for small capitals; three (=) for 
capitals; and a single wavy line (~~) for black faced type. 



92. The student who needs special drill in spelling should 
assimilate the following pages as rapidly as possible. A 
type of class exercise superior to the ordinary use of spelling 
lists is the following: 

Let each member of the class suggest orally as many 
examples as possible of the rule or peculiarity under dis- 
cussion. As soon as each suggestion is made, let all the 
class write it. Then let the lists be exchanged for criticism. 
As a result of this joint effort the list will be compiled 
from the vocabulary actually used by all the students, 
and will be so emphasized in the process of getting it to- 
gether that the words will be better remembered than if 
they merely form part of a list to be memorized. If de- 
sirable, this impromptu work can be supplemented by 
later work with the dictionary in order to extend the list. 
It is desirable that each student should copy into his note- 
book all words that give him special trouble (cf. p. 41, above). 

General Rules 

The following rules will provide for the correct spelling 
of many classes of words: 

93. In derivatives from words ending in silent e, before a 
suffix beginning with a consonant, the e is retained: 

love lovely; excite excitement; tame tameness. 
Exceptions: duly; truly; wholly; nursling; judgment. 

94. In derivatives from words ending in silent e, before 
a suffix beginning with a vowel the e is dropped: 

change changing; blue bluish; bride bridal; guide guidance; 
move movable; plume plumage. 

95. Note that the consonant before the e is not doubled. 
Distinguish betwen hoping from hope and hopping from hop. 


96. Words ending in ie, after dropping the e, change i to 
y before i in a suffix: 

die dying. 

97. Explain the following exceptions to 96: 

dye dyeing; singe singeing; eye eyeing; hie hieing; hoe 
hoeing; shoe shoeing. 

98. Words in which the final e follows a c or a g keep the 
e before suffixes in a and o in order to preserve the soft 
sound of c and g: 

\ change changeable; peace peaceable; courage courageous. 

99. In derivatives from words ending in n the n is kept: 
drunken drunkenness. 

100. In derivatives from words ending in y preceded 
by a vowel the y is kept: 

chimney chimneys; alloy alloyed. 
Exceptions: daily; gaiety. 

101. In derivatives from words ending in y preceded by 
a consonant, before a suffix beginning with any letter but 
i or o the y is changed to i: 

mercy merciful merciless ; busy busily business. 
Note: cry cries cried crying; and carry carries carried 

102. In derivatives from words ending in a single con- 
sonant preceded by a short vowel, if the accent is on the 
last syllable, the consonant is doubled before a suffix be- 
ginning with a vowel: 

step stepping; glad gladden; fat fatter fattest; man man- 
nish; scrap scrappy; occur occurrence; prefer preferring. 
But note: preference; reference (with shift of accent). 

103. In derivatives from words ending in a single con- 
sonant preceded by a short vowel, if the accent is not on 
the last syllable the consonant is not doubled : 

travel traveler traveling; differ differing difference; develop 
developing; kidnap kidnaper. 


But note: humbug, humbugging, humbugged; handicap, handi- 
capping, handicapped. 

104. In abstract nouns ending in ion derived from verbs 
ending in de, ge, re, nd, se, ise, ert, or mit, the spelling is 
usually sion: 

allusion; submersion; adhesion; comprehension; expansion; pos- 
session; revision; conversion; remission. 

But note: attention; contention; intention (cf. intension). 

105. In abstract nouns derived from verbs ending in 
ct, ne, nt, te, the spelling is usually tion: 

abstraction; convention; invention; fascination. 

106. Note that al is commonly an adjective ending; 
le, a noun ending: 

critical; article. 

107. The adjective principal means chief. In two senses 
it is used as a noun: 

principal ( = chief sum of money) . 
principal ( = chief man). 

In its other senses we use the regular noun ending le: 

108. Adverbs derived from adjectives ending in I double 
the I: 

cool coolly; equal equally. 

109. Derivatives from words ending in c, formed by a 
termination beginning with e, i, or y insert k when it is de- 
sired to keep the hard sound of c: 

traffic trafficked trafficking ; panic panicky. 

110. Words containing ei, or ie, pronounced like ec are 
spelled with ei after c: otherwise with ie: 

receive; believe. 

But note: seize and weird; and contrast seize and siege. 

111. Of words ending in ense and ence, there are only 


thirteen in ense; and of these all but two (nonsense and 
incense [noun]) are accented on the last syllable. 
All other nouns of this group end in ence. 

112. Nouns ending in ence have usually an accompany- 
ing adjective in ent; and nouns in ance, an adjective in ant. 
Learn to distinguish between these vowels in pronuncia- 
tion, and you will have no difficulty in spelling them. 

Exercises in Spelling 

113. It is assumed that you have carried out the sug- 
gestions made at the beginning of IV. We come now to 
groups of words for which no rules can be phrased on the 
basis of English alone. Such words are best learned by 
the methods of association and contrast; i. e., by collecting 
and setting over against each other in distinct groups words 
which because of resemblance in their formation tend to 
be confused. Of such words, those that give special trouble 
to each student should be placed in his spelling notebook 
until they have been mastered. Collect the words by 
working together in class. A rhyming dictionary will help 
out when the lists are short. 

-able and -ible 
-ance and -ence 
-ar, -er, and -or 
-ary and -ery 
-dge and -gc 
-eous, -ious, -uous 
-cal, -cle 
-ice, -ise 

-ise, -ize, and -yze 
-ede and -eed 
-ei- and -ie- 

114. Give the nouns derived from despair, exclaim, main- 
tain and repeat. 

Add other examples of difference in the spelling of the 
stem between a verb and an abstract noun derived from it. 

115. Collect lists of words in which the following con- 
sonants are doubled: b, c, d, f, g, h, 1, m, n, p, r, s, t. Try 
to get at least ten examples of each; more, if possible. 



116. Work with the following list of troublesome words 
until you can spell every word in it without hesitation: 













































gas -es 

alumnus -i 




alumna -se 






































guard -ian 



































hero -es 























crisis -es 



























potato -es 















































tomato -es 


parenthesis -es 



manufacture -r 




























phenomenon -a 














mosquito -es 


speech (speak) 


117. Look up in the dictionary differences in pronuncia- 
tion where these exist, and differences of meaning in each 
of the following groups of words: 

accelerator, exhilarator 
accept, except 
access, excess 
affect, effect 
aisle, isle, I'll 
alley, ally 

all ready, already; all together, 
altogether; all ways, always 

allusion, illusion, and elusion 

(also the verbs) 
aloud, allowed 
altar, alter 
amend, emend 
angel, angle 
apposition, opposition 
ascent, assent 



auger, augur 
aught, ought 
Austen, Jane 
Austin, Alfred 

bad, bade 

bale, bail 

ball, bawl 

bare, bear 

berry, bury 

berth, birth 

boar, bore 

bolder, boulder 

boarder, border 

born, borne, bourne 

boy, buoy 

brake, break 

breath, breathe 

bridal, bridle 

Britain, Briton, Britannic 

buy, by 

calvary, cavalry 
campaign, champagne, cham- 

canon, canon, cannon 
canvas, canvass 
capital, capitol 
cease, seize 
ceiling, sealing 
celery, salary 
cemetery, seminary 
censor, censure 
cereal, serial 
cession, session 
choir, quire 
choler, collar, color 
chord, cord 
chute, shoot 
cite, sight, site, 
clothes, cloths 
complement, compliment 
coarse, course 
colonel, kernel 
confidant, confident 
consul, counsel, council 
corporal, corporeal 

costume, custom 
currant, current 

dairy, diary 
deceased, diseased 
decent, descent 
dependant, dependent 
desert, dessert 
die, dye; dying, dyeing 
draft, draught 
dual, duel 

ear, e er, ere 
earnest, Ernest 
elicit, illicit 
Eliot, George 
Elliott, Ebenezer 
emigration, immigration 

fain, fane, feign 
faint, feint 
farther, further 
feat, feet, fete 
fir, fur 
flour, flower 
formally, formerly 
fort, forte 
forth, fourth 
forty, fourteen 
foul, fowl 
freeze, frieze 

gage, gauge 
gait, gate 
gild, guild 
gorilla, guerrilla 
grate, great 
grease, Greece 
guild, guilt 

hail, hale 
hall, hawl 
heal, heel 
hew, hue 
human, humane 



idle, idol, idyl 
ingenious, ingenuous 
it's, it* 

Johnson, Samuel 
Jonson, Ben 

knead, need 
knight, night 

later, latter 
lead, led 
leased, least 
lessen, lesson 
lightening, lightning 
lineament, liniment 
loose, lose 

mantel, mantle 
meat, meet, mete 
medal, meddle 
metal, mettle 
might, mite 
miner, minor 
muscle, mussel 


oar, o'er, ore 

participle, participial 
passed, past 
peace, piece, peas 
peal, peel 
pedal, peddle 
persecute, prosecute 
pillar, pillow 
plain, plane 
practical, practicable 
precede, proceed (but cf. proce- 

principal, principle 
prophecy, prophesy 
propose, purpose 

quiet, quite 

rain, reign, rein 
rhyme, rhythm 
right, rite, wright, write 
road, rode, rowed 

scene, seen 

serge, surge 

sew, so, sow 

shear, sheer 

shone, shown 

side, sighed 

sleight, slight 

soar, sore 

sole, soul 

Spencer, Herbert 

Spenser, Edmund 

stake, steak 

stationary, stationery 

statue, stature, statute 

steal, steel 

Stephenson, George 

Stevenson, Robert Louis 

straight, strait 

suit, suite 

tail, tale 

team, teem 

than, then 

their, there, they're 

thorough, through, threw 

to, too, two 

track, tract 

vain, vane, vein 

waist, waste 

waive, wave 

weak, week 

weather, wether, whether 

who's, whose 

your, you're 


The Hyphen 

118. When you are in doubt as to where a word should 
be divided, write the entire word on the next line. Too 
much space is preferable to breaking up a word in such a 
way that the reader may be even momentarily confused. 

119. The hyphen may be used at the end of a line: 

(1) Between parts of a compound word: 


(2) Between a prefix or a suffix and the word to which 
it is joined: 

fo-tween; anfe-cedent; judg-ment; \ov-able. 

(3) When a consonant is doubled, between the two 
letters if they are pronounced in different syllables: 

run-ning; com-mittee or commit-tee. 

(4) Between any two consonants if they are pronounced 
in different syllables: 

ful-fill; prac-tise; car-cass; ar-mor. 

If both are pronounced in one syllable, place the hyphen 
so that they will be kept in it: 

He-brew; bring-ing; push-es; cath-olic; tele-phone; sign-ing. 

,(5) In a group of more than two consonants, so that 
those pronounced together will remain together: 

dis-charge; rab-ble; al-though. 

(6) Before or after a single consonant standing between 
vowels so that it will remain with the vowel with which it 
is in closest connection: 

fu-tile haz-ard 

na-tion shad-ow 

se-vere for-eign 

120. The hyphen may not be used: 

(1) Between doubled consonants pronounced in the 
same syllable: 


equipped; expressed. 

(2) To divide a monosyllable, even with a diphthong or 
a doubled consonant: 

though; taught; stopped. 

(3) To separate a syllable of one letter from the rest of 
the word: 

alone; about; many. 

(4) To separate the letters of a diphthong or a digraph: 
Croesus; elephant. 

121. The hyphen is also used to mark the relationship 
of words in the process of growing together; they are 
written first separately, then with the hyphen, and finally 
as one word. It is difficult to give any rules that may not 
be soon made invalid by current practice. Until recently, 
for example, today and tomorrow were hyphenated. The 
present tendency is to avoid the hyphen as much as possible. 
The following principles may help you; but in cases of 
doubt consult a recent dictionary: 

122. Use the hyphen between a prefix and the word to 
which it is joined whenever the force of the prefix is still 
strongly felt as distinct from the meaning of the word itself: 

non-existent; pre-Raphaelite; quasi-literary; vice-consul; ex- 

123. Use the hyphen between two nouns when each 
emphasizes a distinct idea: 

martyr-president; my doctor-brother. 

124. Write as a single word without hyphen all com- 
binations in which a prefix has blended with another word 
to express a single idea: 

antechamber; antiseptic; coordinate; cooperate; reelect; biennial; 
coequal; demigod; international; postgraduate; recast; semiannual; 
subconscious; superfine; tricolor; unmanly; inanimate; asymmetri- 
cal; overweight; underfed. 


125. Write two nouns as one whenever they are so 
blended that they convey a single idea: 

schoolroom; workshop; lawgiver; taxpayer; bookkeeper; stock- 
holder; workingman. 

126. To emphasize the prefix and to distinguish the 
compound from another combination in which the two 
elements have been blended, a hyphen is sometimes needed: 

recreation, re-creation; reformation, re-formation; recover, re- 

127. Use a hyphen with numerals prefixed to nouns and 
adjectives to form a measure: 

six-barred gate; two-mile walk; half-truth; quarter-plate. 

128. Use a hyphen in spelling out fractions unless either 
numerator or denominator already requires one: 

But: thirty-seven hundredths. 

The Apostrophe 

129. Use the apostrophe 

(1) With or without * as a mark of the genitive case: 

With ?, as a rule, in the singular: ass's, Mr. Stubbs's, Dickens's. 

But without the * in long words ending in s: Herodias' beauty; 
Demosthenes' oration; for conscience' sake. 

Use the apostrophe alone in plurals ending in s; otherwise, the 
apostrophe and *: boys' clothing; men's hats. 

(2) In all contractions of words and omissions of figures 
from dates: 

don't; doesn't; shan't; won't; 'tis; it's; Boys of '76. 

(3) With s to form special plural forms: 

Letters: p's and q's 
Figures: 8's and 6's 

Word groups and words not usually pluralized: these don't's; 
these I can't's! 


Spelling Out and Abbreviation 

130. Abbreviation should be as far as possible avoided 
in letters and in the body of manuscript. 

131. In statistical matter, however, and tables of all 
kinds, abbreviations are desirable in order to save space. 

132. In footnotes the abbreviation of titles, publishers' 
names, and all words used in giving references, is permissi- 
ble for the same reason. Note the following abbreviations 
which commonly appear in footnotes: 

vol. I (plural: vols.); no. 1 (nos.); Ps. 20 (Pss.); div. HI; chap, ii 
(chaps.); art. iii (arts.); sec. 4 (sees.); p. 5 (pp.); col. 6 (cols.); vs. 7 
(vss.); 1. 8 (11.); n. 9 (nn.); fig. 7 (figs.); pp. 5-7 (= pages 5 to 7 
inclusive); pp. of. (=page 5 and the following page); pp. 5ff. (= 
page 5 and the following pages). 

133. Numbers that can be expressed in one or two words 
should be spelled out in manuscript. For numbers re- 
quiring more words figures may be given. Whichever 
method is used, however, it should be maintained con- 
sistently throughout a passage. Figures should never 
begin a sentence; either spell out or construct the sentence 
so that the number does not stand first. 

134. Figures should be used whenever a. m. and p. m. 
are permissible. 

135. Avoid etc. as far as possible in the body of manu- 
script. Use and so on if the idea must be expressed. 


136. Listen carefully to the speech of others. Train your 
ear to distinguish between correctly and incorrectly spoken 
English, between English that is made beautiful and English 
that is murdered. Then aim at an ideal the ideal of doing 
justice to sounds and of making the most of such powers of 
speech as you have been endowed with. 

Remember that English may be spoiled in at least four 
ways: by a bad voice; by unpleasant intonation; by defective 
enunciation; and by faulty pronunciation. 


137. If every American took lessons from an expert in 
voice culture, our country would be a much pleasanter 
place to live in. But certain things any one can do for him- 
self merely by practising along the lines of suggestions. The 
earnest will to improve can bring about a great change in 
any unpleasant voice. 

138. Avoid nasality. It is largely a habit. Practise talking 
more with your lips and you will talk less through your nose. 

139. Avoid shrillness. If your voice is high, use the 
lower tones. 

140. Avoid throatiness. Bring your voice forward and 
make your lips and tongue do their share of the work. 

141. Avoid drawling. Yo.u will get a clearer enuncia- 
tion if you speed up. 

142. Avoid jerkiness. Steady your sentences. Donotfling 
the words out in a mob; utter them with dignity and poise. 

143. Do not mumble. Distinctness is one of the cardinal 
virtues of speech. 

144. Avoid monotonous or sing-song speech. This can 
be done simply by striving for variety. 

145. In enunciation the chief faults lie hi the pronuncia- 
tion of the vowels, and of the consonants r and s; and in 
the failure to utter at all certain consonants which are 
closely combined with others as, c in arctic, and final g in 
going, doing, etc. 

146. Purity and variety of vowel sounds are among the 
chief marks of the cultivated speaker. He understands 
all the differences in the Key to Pronunciation given in 
the front of the dictionary, and he is never guilty of the 
following errors of pronunciation: 

Accented vowels 

a in fast and can't pronounced flat and thin 

o in mother like aw in law 

ir in girl like oy in boy 

ew in news like oo in boot 

e in very like u in furry 

ea in instead like i in still 
Unaccented vowels 

a like i or u, or disappearing altogether: melwn-choly; cabbzge; 


e like i, u, or lost: colh'ge; studwnt; diff'r'nt 
i, y like u: gen-u-wn; analu-sis 
o, like u or lost: no-bwdy; hist'ry 
u like e: ackerit. 

147. The consonant s in some parts of the country- 
drags in an r: 


148. The consonant r is perhaps the most abused of all 
sounds in English. It is often either lost altogether, or 
dropped where it belongs and added where it does not: 

What's mo-ah, I'll have the lawr on him. 

Or it is pronounced with a heavy, distressing burr. 

Aim at a clearly enunciated r which, however, does not 
attract attention to itself. 

149. One of the worst faults of speech is the running 
together of many sounds and the total omission of others, 
which results in such messy enunciation as: 

"I gottalotadope from'mth'otherday"; "Whaddayamean?" "A 
fella's gotta rightersay watethinks; an I'magoin'ter"; "Ye-ah, I'm 
agoin'ter leave collidge prob'ly in Febuwary." 

150. The dictionary indicates not merely the qualities of 
the sounds which compose each word, but also the position 
of the accent. We have space for only a few of the most 
flagrant errors. Attention is called to them here because 
they seem almost ineradicable: 

abdo'men, not ab'domen ex'quisite, not exquis'ite 

absent' (verb), not ab'sent finance', not fi'nance 

accli'mate, not ac'climate form'idable, not formid'able 

address', not ad'dress grimace', not grim'ace 

adult', not ad'ult har'ass, not harass' 

a'eroplane, not a'reoplane hos'pitable, not hospit'able 

ag'grandize, not aggran'dize ide'a, not i'dea 

ally', not al'ly in'fluence, not influ'ence 

col'umn, not col'yum inqui'ry, not in'quiry 

com'parable, not compar'able lam'entable, not lament'able 

com'plex, not complex' me'diocre, not medio'cre 

condo'lence, not con'dolence po'em, po'et, not pome, po'ut 

da'ta, not dat'ta nor da'ta re'al, not reel 

des'picable, not despic'able resour'ces, not re' sources 


151. Beyond all these details, there is what may be 
called manner in speaking, by which culture or the lack 
of it is immediately apparent. This is a complex of tone, 
enunciation, pronunciation, and the mental attitude of 
the speaker as indicated by his management of speech. 
A quiet, confident, poised manner accomplishes far more 
than either bluster or excessive politeness. 

To acquire this right way of speaking there is no better 
means than reading aloud under competent and close 
criticism well-written dialogue, especially in modern plays, 
as showing the best idiom in current usage. Among au- 
thors to be recommended for this use are : John Galsworthy, 
St. John Hankin, Bernard Shaw, Granville Barker. 

152. Unless part of the class period is sometimes given 
to such reading, the student who especially needs guidance 
in speaking should practice frequently with a tutor or friend. 


153. In the following brief outline the uses of the marks 
of punctuation are summed up as nearly as possible ac- 
cording to current practice. It must be realized, however, 
that in punctuation there is frequently room for difference 
of opinion. This is especially true of the use of the comma, 
semicolon, and colon. Further, an experienced writer 
knows how to give his punctuation marks meanings which 
at times differ considerably from their usual force. There- 
fore it is important both to become thoroughly familiar 
with standard usage, and to be always alert to observe 
variations from this and to determine whether these are 
due to the desire to produce a particular effect or to igno- 
rance of the proper marking. 

This outline may be used in two ways: (1) for reference 
on single points, especially for the purpose of correcting 
errors in a paper; and (2) for drill. For this drill no specially 


constructed exercises have been provided. It is believed 
that more valuable practice will be gained if the student 
collects his own examples from this book, or any other 
which is reasonably normal in its punctuation notes 
exceptions and apparent exceptions, and draws his own 
conclusions. For further drill on points of special diffi- 
culty he cannot do better than copy entirely without punctua- 
tion marks a good piece of prose, punctuate it, and compare 
his result with the original. Such practice should be re- 
peated daily for some weeks by the student who wishes to 
learn what punctuation can do for style. 


154. After a declarative sentence, whether complete or 
elliptical (cf. p. 55). 

155. Except in a parenthesis embodied in another sen- 

He speaks French (I have his word for it) like a native. 

156. After abbreviations (including initials). 

157. Except MS, MSS, and Roman numerals in the body 
of the text. 

Question Mark: 

158. After an interrogative sentence, whether complete 
or elliptical. 

159. Except a rhetorical question requiring no answer and 
strongly exclamatory. 

160. After each interrogative element of a sentence con- 
sisting of a series of related questions requiring separate 

What had become of his duty? his honor? his plighted word? 

161. But not after an indirect question, unless the entire 
sentence is interrogative: 

He asked what I meant. But: Did he ask what I meant? 


162. Within parentheses to show doubt as to a word or 

There are 400,000 (?) words in English. 
This Korszak (?) is a Czech. 

Exclamation Mark 

163. After any sentence, part of sentence, or word, which 
is used as strongly exclamatory. 

164. When an interjection is used to intensify the emo- 
tion, the exclamation mark may stand after it, without 
interfering with the punctuation of the sentence as a whole; 
or it may stand at the end of the sentence, with a comma 
after the interjection (cf. p. 68). But the emotion will 
be concentrated by the reader where the exclamation mark 

165. In parentheses within the sentence, to express 
criticism of a word or phrase: 

Everybody likes their (!) own way. 


166. Before a long quotation, or even a short quotation 
when this is to stand out sharply from its introductory 

167. Before a quotation not introduced by a verb of 

She looked reproachful: "Albert!" 
He shrugged his shoulders: "Well?" 

168. Before a formal list, whether each item begins a new 
line or not. 

169. To separate an expression that is grammatically com- 
plete from one or more others which amplify or illustrate it: 

Most countries have a national flower: France the lily; England 
the rose; Scotland the thistle. 

170. Before namely, thai is, as, viz., e. g., or any similar ex- 
pression used to introduce formally an example or an illustra- 


Abbreviate "Saint" in place-names: e. g., St. Louis, St. Paul's 

171. After the greeting of a business letter (cf. 36). 

172. Between chapter and verse in quoting Scripture: 

1 Kings, 3:7. 

173. Between place of publication and publisher's name 
in bibliographical references. 

174. Between hours and minutes in time abbreviations: 

12:20 p. m. 


176. Between clauses of a compound sentence if they 
are to be sharply distinguished or contrasted. 

176. Between clauses of a compound sentence when 
they contain one or more commas. 

177. In lists of references to set off one title from another: 

P. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, HI, 534; J. L. Klein, 
Gesckichte des Dramas, TV, lOff.; C. Davidson, Studies in the English 
Mystery Plays, pp. 6ff. 

178. In any series of details, to separate groups of asso- 
ciated words which require within themselves the use of 

I cannot readily forget his glaring eyes; his livid, pockmarked 
face; his dragging, shambling gait. 


179. After, before, or before and after, a vocative. 

180. After, or before and after, yes, no, or any other ad- 
verb used to modify the sentence as a whole: 

Certainly, I shall be glad to help you. 

But: I shall certainly be glad to help you (where certainly modifies 
shall be glad). 

181. After an interjection or an exclamatory phrase when 
the exclamation mark is placed at the end of the sentence: 

For mercy's sake, be careful! 


182. After a transition word or phrase connecting a 
sentence with the one before it, when emphasis is desired 
for the connection, or when the transitional element itself 
is somewhat elaborate: 

Moreover, I am too easily influenced. 

In addition to all these obstacles, the people were hostile. 

183. Before and after a transition word that does not 
begin the sentence, in order that it may be distinguished 
from an adverb modifying an element within the sentence 

The King, then, protested vigorously (recalls something said 
The King then protested vigorously (then modifies protested). 

184. After an independent phrase (absolute phrase) which 
modifies the sentence as a whole: 

The bridge being finished, most of the workmen were dismissed. 

185. Before and after an appositive: 
Mr. Smith, the lawyer, and John Muir, LLD. 

185a. Except when the appositive combines with a name 
to form a title or similar closely connected word group: 
William the Conqueror: my brother Bill: the blacksmith Hodge. 

186. Before and after a phrase indicating place of resi- 
dence or position! 

Mr. Connors, of the Foreign Office, and Senator Harrison, of 
Vermont, are intimate friends. 

186a. Except when the phrase is so closely connected with 
the name as to be an essential part of it: 

Saul of Tarsus; Randolph of Roanoke. 

187. To separate words, or groups of words, used in series, 
that is, as parallel in construction: 

Never to fail in kindliness, in patience, in love, with the feeble 
of mind or of will taxes one's courtesy, morality, and self-control. 

187a. Except when very close connection is indicated by 
the use of conjunctions without punctuation marks (cf. 
pp. 73f. above). 

188. Note that when and is used to connect only the 


last two members of a series, the comma should also be 
used (cf. p. 73 above). 

189. Between words repeated to secure emphasis: 

Money, money, money is all you think of. 

190. To separate adjectives modifying the same sub- 
stantive when each contributes separately to the modifica- 
tion (cf. p. 69 above). 

191. Before, after, or before and after a non-essential 
(non-restrictive) relative clause (cf. pp. 87, 88, above). 

192. After a long modifier that immediately precedes 
and tends to obscure the subject (cf. p. 67 above). 

193. Before and after a long modifier that intervenes 
between subject and predicate, and tends to obscure their 
relationship (cf. p. 67 above). 

194. Before and after an antithetical phrase or clause 
introduced by not: 

They surrendered, not because they were beaten, but because 
they knew they would be. 

195. After words introducing a short quotation. 

196. To separate the parts of a quotation from inter- 
vening explanatory matter: 

"I will come," said I, "and show you how to play golf." But 
note that a mark of interrogation or of exclamation is not replaced 
by a comma. 

197. Between the parts of an interrogative sentence con- 
sisting of a statement and a question: 

You will come, won't you? 

198. Between the name of a city or town and its state 
or country. 

199. Between the name of a street and that of its city or 

200. Between the name of a day and the date of the 
month; and between the day of the month and the year. 

201. After the greeting of a personal letter. 

202. After the close of a letter. 


203. After a surname followed by initials or a baptismal 

Jones, H. J.; Reed, Henry. 

204. After, or before and after, all such parenthetical sum- 
marizing expressions as for example, for instance, that is, e. g., 
i. e., viz., etc.; cf. 170, above. 

205. To separate into groups of three figures, numbers 
expressing quantity and extending to more than three places : 


205a. But dates and other designation numbers are not so 

The year 1919; Columbia 8288; 1422 Main St. 

206. To show the omission of words which must be sup- 
plied from the context; 

In Indiana there are seventeen; in Ohio, twenty- two. 

206a. But where no ambiguity can arise the comma is 
usually omitted. 

207. Between the details in literary references: 

Thackeray, W. M., Vanity Fair; Milton, Paradise Lost, II, 17.143. 

208. After Resolved and Whereas in resolutions. 

209. Between any two words or expressions that would 
wrongly be taken together if not separated by the comma: 

To Lucy, Dean was a mystery; What he says, is true. 

Common Abuses of the Comma 

210. Between two independent statements: 

Not: Spring is here, I heard a bluebird. 

But: Spring is here; I heard a bluebird today. 

211. Before or after that, whether, and similar expressions, 
used with a verb of saying or asking: 

Not : He said, that he would come early. 
Or: He said that, he would come early. 
But: He said that he would come early. 


212. Between a noun and the last of a series of adjectives 
modifying it: 

Not: A knotty, mossy, half-dead, oak. 
But: A knotty, mossy, half-dead oak. 

213. Between a verb and the first member of a series 
after it: 

Not: There are, roses, poppies, and irises in bloom. 
But: There are roses, poppies, and irises in bloom. 

214. Before a word or phrase to which attention is 
called for itself: 

Not: The word, fairing means, present. 
But: The word fairing means present. 

215. After a signature followed by a title of office: 

Not: Joseph Burnham, But: Joseph Burnham 

Secretary Secretary 


216. After an incomplete sentence or clause: 

"I will say," he began, "that " 

217. Note that the dash replaces the period; but that a 
question or exclamation mark must be used if needed : 

"What did you?" 
"How dare you !" 

218. Within the sentence where the structure is broken 
and partly repeated or changed: 

He is easy-going far too easy-going to be successful. 
I believe I shall ask you no, you would refuse. 

219. After a long subject and before a word or phrase 
summarizing it: 

Infantry, cavalry, artillery, aviators all were moved by a 
common impulse. 

220. Before and after any word or phrase or clause, to 


set it apart from the main trend of the sentence, yet not 
so entirely as if it were enclosed between parentheses: 

The horseman drew near it was Hay ward shouting: "Fire!" 

221. Note that commas are not used before dashes: 

The feathered hat which had been the pride of her life lay 
in the mud. 

222. Note that the en-dash (-) is used to show a suc- 
cession of pages or a period of time; but should not be used if 
from precedes: 

pp. 34-122; August-September, 1914. 
Not: From August-September, 1914. 
But: From August to September, 1914. 


223. To fill out lines of verse quoted in part, and be- 
tween lines of verse to show that others have been omitted : 

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit 
Of that forbidden tree. 

Sing, Heavenly Muse 

224. In emotional dialogue in drama or fiction to show 
pauses or breaks in the thought: 

He put down his glass awkwardly. . . . "The fear, . . . the 
fear . . . look you ... it is always there." ... He touched 
his breast. . . . 

Quotation Marks 

225. Before and after every quoted word or group of 
words within a paragraph. 

226. When two or more successive paragraphs are 
quoted, before the first word of each, but at the end of the 
last paragraph only. 

227. Any words or phrases to which particular attention is 
directed may be placed between quotation marks : 

Were you at Gertie's "shower"? 

"Drop-folio" means a page number at the foot of the page. 


228. Cited titles of short poems, addresses, articles, parts 
of books, and series of books, and mottoes, toasts, etc., are 
usually enclosed in quotation marks (but see 82) : 

Wordsworth's "Daffodils"; James's "The Powers of Men"; 
"English Men of Letters" series; " Altiora cano." 

229. When a quoted sentence ends with a mark of inter- 
rogation, of exclamation, or of ellipsis, or with a dash, this 
mark is kept within the quotation marks and outside punctu- 
ation is omitted. In all other cases the punctuation of the 
enclosing sentence dominates; and this, if a period or a 
comma, is placed within the quotation marks; if any other 
mark, it is placed outside: 

"Did you really?" I asked. "How splendid!" I said; "now I 
never . . ." 

The poem begins, "Where shall the lover rest." 

Why should I care "to make the world safe for democracy"? 

230. For quotation within quotation, single quotation 
marks are used; and for all further degrees of quotation 
within quotation, double and single marks alternately: 

"Then I said to him, 'I was, as the poet says, "born to blush un- 
seen," ' " said Jeff. 

Marks of Parenthesis 

231. Before and after explanatory matter which is in- 
dependent in structure of the main thought and might be 
entirely omitted without altering the thought. 

232. Before and after stage directions in a play: 

Lady Sims (abashed). I'm sorry, Harry. (A perfect butler 
appears and presents a card.) 

233. Note that an independent sentence within paren- 
thesis is punctuated as if the parenthesis were not there; 
but embodied in another sentence (1) loses its final period, 
but (2) keeps a final question or exclamation mark: 

Kathleen (she is a tease really) gave him no peace. 
Kathleen (she is such a tease!) gave him no peace. 
Kathleen (have you ever seen her tease anyone?) gave him no 


234. Note that when a parenthesis ends at the end of 
the sentence, the end punctuation mark follows the mark 
of parenthesis. 

He was riding a sheltie (a Shetland pony). 

235. Note that for parenthesis within parenthesis, 
brackets are used; and then alternately with parenthesis 
if necessary. 


236. Before and after matter conjectured to have been 
part of a text: 

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth, 
[Amidst] these rebel powers that thee array. . . . 

237. Before and after notes inserted by an editor, and 
other similar matter, which is entirely foreign to the original 

This paper was signed in 1679. [This is an error for 1671; he 
died in 1675 Ed.] 



238. What is the function of each part of speech in the sentence? 

239. Which parts of speech have similar functions? Explain 
the differences. 

240. What name is given to both the noun and the pronoun? 
May it be given also to word-groups in the sentence? What kinds 
of word-groups? What is the fundamental difference between 
noun and pronoun? What is the fundamental idea of substantive 
(cf. dictionary)? 

241. What is the fundamental idea of predication (cf . dictionary) ? 
Which part of speech performs this function? 

242. What is a sentence (cf. dictionary)? What are its essential 
elements? Under what circumstances may each be omitted? 
What is a sentence with such omissions called? 


243. What non-essential elements may be found in a sentence? 
What is the function of each? 

244. What types of sentence are there with reference to the 
form in which the thought is expressed? Illustrate each. 

246. How are sentences classified according to their structure? 
Illustrate each type. 

246. What is a clause? a phrase? What is the fundamental 
difference between them? Illustrate. 

247. What are the two main types of clause? How is each used? 

248. In what three ways are subordinate clauses used? Illus- 
trate each. 

249. In what two ways are adjective clauses used? Illustrate 
each. What is the punctuation proper to each? 

250. In what ways are adverbial clauses used? Illustrate clauses 
of time, place, manner, degree, cause, purpose, result, condition, 
and concession. 

261. How are phrases constructed? Illustrate. 

262. In what ways are prepositional phrases used? Illustrate 
the substantive, adjective, and adverbial uses of prepositional 

253. In what ways are participial phrases used? Illustrate the 
adjective use; the nominative absolute. 

254. What is the difference between the participle and the gerund? 
How are gerund phrases used? Illustrate. 

256. In what ways is the substantive used in the sentence? 
Illustrate each. 

266. What is a vocative? Illustrate. How is it punctuated? 

257. What is an appositive? Illustrate. How is it punctuated? 

258. What is the difference between a transitive and an in- 
transitive verb? Can the same verb be sometimes transitive and 
sometimes intransitive? Give as many examples as you can of this. 

269. What is the direct object of a verb? the indirect object? 

260. Can any verb take more than one direct object? Illustrate. 

261. Can any part of speech except a verb take a direct object? 

262. In what case is a direct object? Is the objective case ever 
used for a subject? Illustrate, using a personal or relative pronoun. 

263. What is the adverbial use of the noun? Illustrate. 

264. How many uses of substantives have you found? Make a 
brief summary or table of them. 

265. How many classes of pronouns are there? How is each 
used? Illustrate. 

266. Which pronouns are used for connective purposes? Illus- 

267. What is the difference between a pronoun and a pronomi- 


nal adjective? What words may be sometimes one and sometimes 
the other? What part of speech is all? any? no? nobody? no one? 
many? each? every? some? 

268. By what means do nouns and pronouns change their form 
to show syntax? Illustrate. 

269. What is the inflection of I? who? anybody? whichever? 

270. By what means do adjectives and adverbs change their form, 
and for what purpose? Illustrate irregular comparisons. 

271. By what means do verbs change their forms, and for what 
purpose? Illustrate. 

272. What voices may a verb have? tenses? moods? What other 
changes are involved? Illustrate. 

273. Inflect the following verbs throughout: please; go; have; 
be; seem; drink; run; begin; dive; prove. 

274. What different names can you apply to each of the verbs 
named in 273? Which express action? which state or being? which 
are transitive? which intransitive? which is the copula? which a 
copulative verb? which may be auxiliary? 

275. What is the difference between the infinitive and the finite 
verb? In what moods may the finite verb be found? 

276. What is the sign of the infinitive? Is the infinitive used 
commonly without its sign? Illustrate. What are the infinitive 
and its sign taken together called? How is the infinitive phrase 
used? Illustrate its substantive, adjective, and adverbial uses. 

277. How is the participle used? Illustrate. 

278. In what different ways is the subjunctive used? Illustrate 
the subjunctive of desire. Give a sentence containing a subjunctive 
clause of condition, and one containing a clause of concession. 

279. What is meant by sequence of tenses? Give the rule and 

280. What are auxiliary verbs? Name as many as you know. 

281. What different kinds of conjunctions do you know? How 
is each used? Illustrate. 

282. Which parts of speech may upon occasion be used as nouns? 
Does the same word often serve as several different parts of speech? 
Classify cross, round, down. 

283. Troublesome Verbs : 

begin began begun 

blow blew blown 

break broke broken 

burst burst burst 

come came come 

dive dived dived 

drink drank drunk 

drown drowned drowned 
























I hung 




















\ hanged (executed) 















284. Summary of the Rules for Shall and Will. 

Statement Question 

Futurity: I, we shall, should. 

You, he, she, it they will, 

Resolve or promise 

of the speaker: I, we will, 
Threat or command would. 
of the speaker: You, he, she, it, 
they shall, 

Answer in- 
volving fu- 

Answer in- 
volving re- 
threat, or 

Shall, should I, we? 
Shall, should you? 
Will, would he, she, it, 


Answer: I, we shall, 

He, she, it, 

they will. 


Will you? 
Shall, should he, she, 
it, they? 

Answer: I, we will, 


He, she, it, 
they shall, 


286. Will I, we? would I, we? are used only when mil 
or would is quoted from another question: 

"Will you stand by me?" 
"Will I? I will." 

286. Should also implies general obligation. 
You should wear rubbers. 

287. Would also expresses habitual action: 

He would touch every fence post as he passed it. 
She would sit by the window all day. 

288. In indirect quotation, after a verb of saying in the 
past tense, use should and would according to the rules for 
shall and will. 



289. See that every sentence has at least one independent, 
finite verb, expressed or unmistakably implied in the con- 
text. Criticize and correct the following: 

She was asked to sing. Which she refused to do. 

There are two roads to Westerham. One by Brasted and one 
over the Common. 

To resume our discussion. I believe in government control. 

The game having been won by this brilliant play. There was 
great excitement among the fans. 

290. It is bad form in business letters to omit the verb, 
even when it is exactly implied, as in " Yours at hand "... 
(cf. p. 55). 

291. Do not omit the verb in clauses where it would have 
to be supplied in a different form or with a different mean- 
ing. Criticize and correct the following: 

Letty went yesterday; I tomorrow. 
She is sixteen; I nineteen. 
I think so and always have. 


Tense Agreement 

292. Keep the rule for sequence of tenses. Do not mix 
past and present except for particular effects in dialogue. 

293. Avoid the historical present that is, the present 
used to describe past events. Only skilled writers can use 
it successfully. 


294. Do not without good reason change from active to 
passive in the same sentence. Improve the following: 

They assembled at Marty's, and an impromptu banquet was 
arranged there in his honor. 

Agreement of Subject and Predicate 

295. If the verb used with a collective noun expresses 
collective action, make it singular; if individual action, 

296. But do not in the same passage use both singular 
and plural verbs to agree with a collective noun. Introduce 
other nouns if necessary. Correct the following: 

The Confidential Department are today keeping her under ob- 
servation. A woman of this kind is especially dangerous, owing to 
her ability to pass in any class of society, and it is to be hoped that 
the Department has been able to curtail her opportunities for 

The class has finished its work and have now gone to their 

297. After a collective noun in the singular followed 
by an qf-phrase containing a plural or collective noun, 
use a singular verb when the group is regarded collectively, 
a plural verb when the individuals composing it are the 
real subject of thought. Justify the following, and give as 
many similar examples as you can: 

A majority of the club members smoke. 
The majority of the voters favors the change. 

298. With a noun plural in form but singular in mean- 
ing, use the verb in the singular. Decide whether or not 
the following are correct: 


Mathematics is a science. 
Five dollars is cheap for that book. 
Three times nine is twenty-seven. 
Fourteen and five makes nineteen. 
Bread and milk tastes good. 

Add other examples. 

299. Use a plural verb with a plural noun introduced 
by the expletive there. Justify the following: 

There are more where these came from. 
"There's many a slip . . ." 

Give other examples. 

300. When the members of a compound subject refer 
to the same person or thing, use the verb in the singular. 

This scholar and gentleman is a high-minded man. 

301. When to a subject substantive in the singular 
number another is joined by means of with, together with, 
as well as, etc., use the verb in the singular. Correct the 
following : 

The fact that building materials have increased 40 per cent to- 
gether with a steady increase in the demand for labor also are re- 
garded as reasons for the slump in home building. 

302. When a plural noun stands between a singular 
subject and its predicate, be careful to keep the verb still 

The price of these peaches is fifty cents. 
Each of these books costs a dollar. 

303. In an essential relative clause attached to such a 
phrase as " one of the best," the antecedent of the relative 
pronoun is plural. Make the verb plural, or in many 
cases, preferably condense the clause to a participial 

This is one of the best books that have ever been printed. 
Or: This is one of the best books ever printed. 

Cite and discuss as many similar examples as possible. 


304. Avoid bringing together a subject and a predicate 
noun which are not of the same number. When, however, 
you cannot avoid this situation, be sure that your verb 
agrees with the subject, not with the predicate noun. 
Criticize and correct the following: 

The best of all the crops (cf. 301) in the district are potatoes. 
Liberty Bonds is a good investment. 

305. If a compound subject consists of singular sub- 
stantives connected by or, nor, either ... or, neither . . . 
nor, the verb should be in the singular. 

Give ten examples of correct agreement of this kind. 

306. With pronouns the verb must agree in person as 
well as in number with the subject to which it is nearest: 

Either you or 7 am to blame. 
Either you or she is to blame. 

But it is better to reconstruct the sentence. 

Either you are to blame, or 7 am. 
Either you are to blame, or she is. 

Pronouns, Number 

307. Use singular pronouns to refer to collective nouns 
when the emphasis is on the group, plural pronouns when 
it is on the individuals that make up the group (cf. 297 
above); but keep throughout a passage the number used 
at first: 

Write a paragraph describing a day on the jury. Use the nouns 
jury and jurymen, and keep the proper agreement for the pronouns. 


308. Distinguish between its = possessive, and it's = it is: 

It's a long way up the hill; but the view from its top is splendid. 

309. Avoid the promiscuous use of it, with and without 
an antecedent. Correct the following, using nouns as 

It was sad to hear his account of it; he knew I would not talk of 
it, but he insisted upon it that it was necessary to tell all about it. 


Pronouns, Indefinite 

310. Each, either, every, neither, anyone, everyone, no one are 
grammatically singular. 

311. Likewise singular is the indefinite noun a person. 

312. None is either singular or plural: 

None of his friends was present. 
None are better than my friends. 

313. The use of a possessive adjective with an indefinite 
pronoun or adjective in the singular involves a special diffi- 
culty: their is obviously wrong; his alone or her alone 
does not provide for both sexes; his or her is awkward. 
This difficulty you may deal with in several ways: 

(1) By making the indefinite pronoun or adjective plu- 
ral, nd using their: 

All people like their own way. 

(2) By making his stand for both sexes: 
A person likes his own way. 

(3) By avoiding the construction: 

It is always pleasant to have one's own way. 

Practice the use of the possessive adjective with each of 
the pronouns listed hi 310, above. 

Pronouns, Case 

314. The case of a pronoun depends entirely upon its 
syntax; it may or may not be in the same construction as 
its antecedent. 

I saw a man who knows you. 
I saw a man whom you know. 

Predicate Complement 

315. After a finite form of the copula or a copulative 
verb, a pronoun used as predicate complement should be in 
the nominative case: 

It is 7 we he she they. 
It seemed to be they. 


316. After an infinitive with a subject, a pronoun used as 
predicate complement should be in the objective case. 

He took her to be me. 

You believed us to be them? 


317. When two pronouns, or a noun and a pronoun, are 
used as the object of a verb or of a preposition, see that 
the pronouns are in the objective case: 

This is between you and me. 

He told him and her. 

It is hard for mother and me. 

Pronouns Appositive 

318. Put a pronoun used as an appositive in the same 
case as the substantive with which it is in apposition: 

319. The commonest expression in which this principle 
is disregarded is the colloquial " Let's you and I go! " 
This has become so much the standard form that some 
will perhaps defend it as an idiom. 

This was true of some certainly of her and me. 

Pronouns in Clauses 

320. In an indirect question, distinguish between the 
relative as subject and as object of the dependent verb: 

He asked who was going. 
He asked whom I meant. 

321. After a verb of saying or thinking, distinguish be- 
tween the relative as subject and as object of the dependent 

Clara, who I thought was in Europe, came home yesterday. 
The man whom I thought / had conquered, had conquered me. 
Who did they say met them? 
Whom did they say they had met ? 

322. The case of the indefinite relative is determined by 
its use in the relative clause. 


Appoint whoever will be best for the place. 
Appoint whom you please. 

323. In an elliptical clause completing a comparison, see 
that the pronoun is in the case demanded by the syntax: 

She is taller than I (/ subject of am understood). 

I like him better than her (her object of like understood). 

Is he as happy as she (is)? 

324. Than whom, however, is an exception established 
by usage as permissible: 

This is Sarah, than whom there is no better cook. 

325. In a relative clause in which the pronoun is the 
object of a preposition, be careful not to omit the preposi- 

He left by the way by which he came. 

326. When a compound preposition such as as to, in re- 
gard to, with respect to, governs a relative or interrogative 
clause, do not forget that the pronoun is still subject of the 
clause. Keep it in the nominative case: 

Not: There was a quarrel as to whom came out ahead; 
Bui: There was a quarrel as to who came out ahead. 

Omission of Relative 

327. Do not omit the relative pronoun introducing a 
clause after an expletive: 

There were ten men who shouted. 

And who 

328. Do not use and before who or which when no rela- 
tive has preceded: 

Not: He is a good actor and who has been very successful; 
But: He is a good actor who has been very successful. 


329. Do not shift from who or which to that in parallel 


Not: A man whom you can trust and that everybody likes; 
But: A man whom you can trust and whom everybody likes. 

That and Which 

330. Use that in essential relative clauses except: 

(1) When there is a break in continuity just after the 

(2) When another that stands near. 
In these cases use which or who. 

Possessive Case 

331. The possessive case should be restricted to indicate 
actual ownership by persons or their agency in some 


332. Use an qf-phrase, not a possessive, to show the 
object of an action: 

Not: Caesar's murder was a crime; 
But: The murder of Ccesar was a crime. 

333. Instead of the possessive form used with the name 
of a thing to indicate a part of it, use an o/-phrase: 

Not: It lay in the river's bed; 
But: It lay in the bed of the river. 

334. Exceptions to this rule are a few familiar time- 
phrases : 

a day's journey, an hour's delay, a month's holiday, a year's work, 

Adjectives and Adverbs 

335. If the action of the verb is modified, an adverb 
must be used; but if the verb merely links a modifier with a 
substantive to express a quality or the result of an action, 
an adjective must be used. Distinguish between adverbs 
and adjectives in the following: 


He looks good. 

He works well. 

A new broom sweeps clean. 

Dig the well deep. 

Dig carefully. 

336. The words ill and well, as applied to health, are 
adjectives. Thus: "I feel well " refers to health, " I feel 
good," to morals; but in each case the predicate comple- 
ment is an adjective. "I feel bad," as applied to health, is 
correct, but on account of its associations is avoided even 
by those who use the incorrect, " I feel good." 

Leisurely, orderly, cleanly, and a few other adjectives 
have the ending ly. Perhaps the colloquial badly in " I 
feel badly " belongs with them; it seems to imply some- 
thing less than " I feel ill." 

Placing of Adverbs 

337. Such words as almost, always, ever, hardly, just, 
merely, nearly, never, only, quite, scarcely, etc., should al- 
ways be placed next to and, if possible, before the word or 
word group that they modify. 

Practise the formation of many short sentences in which these 
adverbs are placed in their proper position. 


338. Do not use more than one negative adverb to modify 
the same word: 

Not: I couldn'f never tell; 
But: I could never tell; 
Or: I couldn't ever tell. 

339. Two negatives may be used together to make an 
affirmative by denying the contrary. 

There was no one who did not protest = Every one protested. 

340. Do not use not with the adverbs hardly, scarcely, 
and only: 


Not: I can't scarcely see; 

But: I can scarcely see. 

Not: I haven't any spare time only on Sunday; 

Bui: I have no spare time except on Sunday. 


341. A participle must be regarded as an adjective and 
must modify a substantive expressed in the same sentence: 

Not : Opening the door, the weather was found to be very cold ; 
But: Opening the door, we (or whoever opened the door) found 
that the weather was very cold. 

342. Apparent violations of this usage occur with cer- 
tain words in -ing which form phrases used as prepositions : 

According to all I hear, he was guilty. 

Owing to lack of money he abandoned the suit. 

Because due is often a synonym of owing, many careless writers 
and speakers use due to as a phrasal preposition; but this is a matter 
of idiom, and due to is not yet recognized as correct in such expres- 

Gerund Phrase 

343. An introductory gerund phrase must refer to the 
subject of the clause of which the phrase itself is a modifier: 

Not: In striking a match, the panther escaped (because here 
the panther is represented as striking the match) ; 
But: In striking a match, / let the panther escape. 

Elliptical Subordinate Clause 

344. An introductory elliptical clause must refer to the 
subject of the following verb: 

Not: While laughing at this, ihefish got away; 
But: While laughing at this, we lost our fish. 

346. Elliptical clauses should be made complete when- 
ever there is the slightest danger of misconstruction or 

While we were laughing at this, the fish got away. 


Sign of the Infinitive 

346. Repeat the sign of the infinitive before each member 
of a series of infinitive phrases whenever they are separated 
by intervening words. 

The problem is to release these men from the service, to return 
them to their homes, and to restore them to their places in the social 

The Split Infinitive : 

347. The placing of any word or phrase between to and 
its infinitive has usually been avoided by good writers of 
all periods, and writers who wish to avoid criticism will 
do well to follow this usage; but careful writers have often 
violated it to secure clearness or emphasis or even rhythm: 

"It was in the nature of a stroke to partly take away the use 
of a man's limbs." George Eliot. 

"Without permitting himself to actually mention the name." 
Matthew Arnold. 

"Send five souls more to just precede his own." Browning. 

Tense of Infinitive 

348. The infinitive used to complete the meaning of a 
verb should be in the present tense, unless it represents 
action or state as completed prior to the action or state 
expressed by the verb on which it depends: 

Not: I should have been glad to have seen you at that time; 

But: I should have been glad [before now] to see you [at that time]; 

Or: I should have been glad to have seen you before I left. 


349. Comparisons must be carried out completely and 
exactly; see 350-355. 

350. Repeat the verb after than whenever there is the 
slightest ambiguity as to the construction of the following 

Not: Grace likes me better than you; 

But: ' than she does you; 

Or: " " " " " you do. 


351. Prefer the awkwardness of the phrases as that of, 
than that of, to inexactness of comparison. 

Not: The silk in my dress is stronger than my mother's [what? 
silk or dress?]; 

But: The silk in my dress is stronger than that [silk] in my mother's 

352. When than and as are used in a double comparison, 
name the second person or thing in the comparison after 
the first occurrence of the adjective: 

Not: He is as tall, if not taller, than his brother; 
But: He is as tall as his brother, if not taller. 
Not: This boat is longer and as wide as that; 
But: This boat is longer than that, and as wide. 

353. The names of objects compared must be kept in the 
same construction: 

Not: He preferred tramping to ride in a stuffy oar. 
But: He preferred tramping to riding in a stuffy car. 

354. The substantive object must be of the same class 
as the substantive compared: 

Not: The Russians are the best fighters of all countries [neither 
Russians nor fighters belong to the class countries]; 

But: Of all nationalities, the Russians are the best fighters. 

355. When an adjective in the superlative degree modi- 
fies a noun in the plural and one in the singular, place the 
noun immediately after the first use of the adjective: 

Not: One of the best, if not the best, apples is the russet; 
But: One of the best apples, if not the best, is the russet. 


356. In comparing a member of a class with other mem- 
bers of the same class, use other, or an equivalent word; but 
do not use it when the comparison does not include mem- 
bers of the class: 

Not: Lincoln was greater than any president; [Lincoln belongs to 
the class presidents}. 

But: Lincoln was greater than any other president. 


Not: Lincoln was greater than any other general of the War [Lin- 
coln does not belong to the class generals]; 

But: Lincoln was greater tlian any general of the War. 

Not: The dwarf was stronger than any other man of twice his size 
[because other includes the dwarf in the class of men of twice his own 

But: The dwarf was stronger than any man of twice his size 
[because the class is men of twice the dwarf's size], 

357. Do not use other, or an equivalent word, with the 
superlative degree unless some other members of the class 
have been excluded : 

Not: Ivanhoe is the best of all Scott's other novels [unless some of 
the novels have been excluded from the comparison]; 

But: Ivanhoe is the best of all Scott's novels. 

Not: Socrates was the greatest of all other teachers [because other 
excludes Socrates] ; 

But: Socrates was the greatest of all teachers. 


358. Do not use that alone to express comparison: 

Not: I was that tired I couldn't walk a step further; 
But: I was so tired that I couldn't walk a step further. 
Not: I was that tired; 
But: I was very tired. 


359. In comparing only two persons or things, use the 
comparative degree: 

Not: Of these two books, Kenilworth is the best; 
But: Of these two books, Kenilworth is the better. 


360. Do not use any with the superlative degree; use all: 

Not: Oranges are the best fruit of any; 
But: Oranges are the best fruit of all. 


361. Do not use so or such absolutely: 

Not: The lake is so pretty! 
Not: She is such a nice girl! 


Repetition of Demonstrative 

362. The article, possessive pronoun, or pronominal 
adjective should be repeated before each member of a 
series of adjectives or nouns when each member refers to a 
different person or thing. It should be used only before 
the first member when all refer to the same person or thing: 

I have a pink and a white tulip (two). 
I have a pink and white tulip (one). 
His cousin and his classmate (two persons). 
His cousin and classmate (one person). 

363. But the demonstrative is often repeated for emphasis 
when the same person or thing is meant: 

He is a gentleman and a scholar. 

This son and this brother deserted his mother and sister. 


364. Do not coordinate different parts of the verb: 

Not: I began to laugh (infin.) and crying (gerund) at once; 

But: I began to laugh (infin.) and cry (infin.) at once; 

Or: I began laughing (gerund) and crying (gerund) at once. 

365. Do not coordinate different classes of pronouns 
referring to the same antecedent: 

Not: On the branch was a bird which I had seen before but could 
not identify it; 

But: On the branch was a bird which I had seen before but could 
not identify. (Here but connects the verbs.) 

Or: On the branch was a bird which I had seen before but which 
I could not identify. (Here but connects the relative pronouns and 
throws more emphasis on each clause than when it connects the 

366. Do not coordinate a subordinate clause and a 
phrase : 

Not : A man of icealth (phrase) and who has brains (subord. clause) 
can do much good; 

But: A man of wealth and brains can do much good. 
Or: A man of wealth who has brains can do much. 


367. Do not coordinate a substantive and a clause: 

Not: That he had money and his experience were both facts in his 

But: His money and his experience were both in his favor. 

368. Do not coordinate an abstract and a verbal noun: 
Not: Your sympathy and your seeing how the case stands are a 

Your sympathy and your grasp of the situation are a help. 


Correlative Conjunctions 

369. Place correlatives immediately before the words 
that they connect: 

Not: He would neither tell mother nor John; 

But: He would tell neither mother nor John. 

Not: They not only laugh, at his jokes, but also at his expression. 

But: They laugh, not only at his jokes, but also at his expression. 


370. Do not connect a relative clause to its principal 
clause by and or but: 

Not: He quickly learned Spanish, but which he as quickly forgot; 
But: He quickly learned Spanish, which he as quickly forgot. 

371. Do not connect by and or but a modifier that fol- 
lows a noun with one that precedes it: 

Not: He had many an amusing story and referring to the Senator; 
But: He had many an amusing story referring to the Senator. 

372. Do not connect a series of principal clauses by and 
or but or for; subordinate the less important: 

He went to New York and remained there ten years, for he was 
tired of living in a small town, but he had not been long in Center- 

This childish type of sentence in which one idea is tagged on to 
another, without regard to their relationship or importance, must 
be guarded against with special care. 

373. Do not make a series of which the last two members 
are connected by and, if these members are different parts 
of speech: 


Not: He is red-haired (adj.), of ruddy complexion (adj. phrase), 
and walks (verb) with a limp; 

But: He is red-haired (adj.), ruddy (adj.) of complexion, and 
lame (adj.); 

Or: He is red-haired and ruddy of complexion, and he walks 
with a limp. 

374. Do not repeat the conjunction that when it is sep- 
arated by modifiers from the subject and predicate that 
it introduces: 

It is very hard that after all the time I have spent in preparation 
and all the energy I have given to finding ways and means, [that] 
the project should be abandoned. 

375. When you write and that in a sentence, look back 
to see whether you have an earlier that. If not, insert one. 

376. Do not use the adverbs so and then as coordinating 
conjunctions; either add the conjunction and or but, or 

Not: He had nothing to do, so he came early; 
But: As he had nothing to do, he came early. 
Not: I had my luncheon, then I went shopping; 
But: After luncheon I went shopping. 


377. Repeat the preposition and article before each 
member of a series of substantives except where the sub- 
stantives form a single idea. 

The laws of the English and of the French differ widely (two 
sets of laws). 

It is as fixed as the laws of the Medes and Persians (one set of 

378. When different prepositions are required before 
the same substantive, the first preposition must not be 
omitted or left dangling: 

Not: He has no longer any faith or love for his son; 
Or: He has no longer any faith in or love for his son; 
But: He has no longer any faith in his son, or love for him. 

379. The old rule that a preposition should not end a 
sentence is no longer regarded. 

That is the house he died in. 



380. A subordinate substantive clause used as subject or 
predicate complement should be introduced by a conjunction: 

Not: I hurt my foot is the reason why I am late; 
But: That I hurt my foot is the reason why I am late; 
Or: The reason why I am late is that I hurt my foot. 
But still better, because more direct, is: 
I am late because I hurt my foot. 

381. Do not use a clause introduced by when or where as 
predicate complement: 

Not: The most interesting part of the book is where the duel is 
The most interesting part of the book is the account of the 



Not: A commune is when property is held in common; 

But: A commune is an organization in which property is held 
in common. 

382. Do not leave a clause unfinished and continue the 
sentence with another: 

Not: The belief that I should succeed, in fact, I had no thought 
of failure. 


383. The following faulty sentences are not artificial 
examples manufactured to illustrate bad writing but 
genuine quotations from various sources reputable news- 
papers, magazines, and books. The teacher or student 
can easily find others in current publications. The col- 
lection and criticism of such examples will aid greatly, not 
only in developing the critical faculty, but also in pro- 
moting variety and flexibility of style. 

Criticize and rewrite the following: 

Some of these men are most interesting and I feel I'd enjoy a 
talk with them others very different and glad to see them depart. 

The President was at the game and many notables from all over 
the world and there was much enthusiasm the President's party 
changing from the Navy to the Army side as the game progressed. 


The chairman called today and what an insignificant fellow he 
is and to think he was offered the ambassadorship what a fall down 
for our nation from the rank of our former representatives there 
had he accepted. 

He probably sent his telegram on account of public opinion there 
in Mexico and that it was best for him so to do. 

Think of the countless libraries that he has given to the poeple 
of this country, and the educational advantages of which will con- 
tinue long after he is dead and his name will be a household word for 
many years. 

This by the way is my birthday forty-nine years old and seems 
such a short time ago that I was entering the practice of law. 

What a pleasant tempered fellow he is hardly if ever out of sorts 
which is the more remarkable when one sees the trying things 
before him each day. 

The resignation was brought about owing to differences of prin- 
ciples between Krylenko and the council of people's commissaries 
as well as a disagreement with the latest actions of the council. 

This permits a workman to quit his job for a variety of reasons. 
Among them unpleasant language used by the boss toward the 
workman or any of his family. If the laborer thinks the boss is 
not acting in an "honorable manner" or in a way to bring dis- 
credit to the latter the laborer can quit and ask and get three months' 

As regards the leaky cans being packed at night time that cer- 
tainly is all rot. The fact of the matter is we have an enemy in 
our camp up there as the quartermaster's department knew here 
in Omaha that they were going to receive leaky cans before they 
were received, getting a letter from Sioux City stating to examine 
certain marked cases, which he did and found four leakers in one 
of the cases. So it is evident from this that we are harboring an 
enemy at that point. 

Washington today supplies by far the greater volume of news 
matter of any world capital. 

Some systematic effort to instill this in the hearts and minds 
of all peoples affiliated with the Germans will be necessary owing 
to the general war weariness. That definite plans possibly were 
framed in Berlin looking to this end is extremely likely. 

He is a constant drinker of brandy, and must have a strong head 
to keep that up for long. 

He was more of a reserved, but sturdy, quick acting person. 

They stand side by side, evidently quite oblivious and indifferent 
to the folk about them. On going up to town on a July day it 
seems much hotter there, so much so that one pants for air. 

Thoughtlessly turning over a boulder, there was ants beneath it. 
The men had laid out all night in the cold. 

It was this circumstance that brought about the downfall of the 


cabinet of this very honest and capable professor of mathematics, 
but who as a statesman is altogether lamentable. 

An attempt was made by the minister to recover the check for 
Duval, on the ground that he was acquainted both with the latter 
and with the man in whose favor it was drawn, a certain Vigo, 
editor of a paper of insidiously pacifist tendencies, and which sub- 
sequent developments showed to have been subsidized. 

If convicted, the law may sentence him to death. 

His voice stopped exactly like when you hit a neighbor's 
gramophone with a well-aimed brick, the same instant silence, and 
the rustle of the paper stopped, and everything was still. . . . 

In the main he followed his regular sermon, which was devoted 
principally against vice and intemperance. 

The jam became so severe that a number of women suffered 
slight bruises in the lobby. 

They have not, because they could not, go further than generali- 

They expect all controversies to be settled by the other side ad- 
hering to their view. 

I am kind of interested in this. 

Though but young trees, there was a coating of fallen needles 
under the firs. 

Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Reed eat a fat squirrel dinner Sunday with 
Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Cook and they were shot by Mr. Cook. 

The cheering for the queen was full-throated and with no sign 
of doubt, because of her Bavarian birth and upbringing she is 
looked on as a Belgian queen and nothing else. 

Popular opinions there are stifled and substituted by made-to- 
order comment from the government. 

Once you wish to identify these flowers, there is none that es- 
capes you. 

He then concluded by asking whom that Partridge was whom 
he had called a worthless fellow. 

The President was mislead. 

As to what he learned through his talks with officials is not 

The officer is delegated with the task of haranguing his men. 

These charges were circulated with a view of making the social- 
ists restless. 

What a sight to see so many people together, that was a greater 
spectacle than the game by far to me. 

Having a husband who had shown nothing but the lowest depths 
of brutishness shortly after a hasty marriage of three years before, 
Mrs. Blink had come to look upon George, his clean-cut manly 
nature, his sharp black eyes, and broad forehead as a type of the 
best in masculine nature, and was horrified beyond measure to 
behold him lying in the street. 


This is the woman that the priest pronounced his fond benedic- 
tion upon, and afterwards his own Methodist parson had done the 
same, for she was Catholic and he was Methodist, and their agree- 
ment was to allow each one to keep their own religion. 

His nature, however, was the opposite of that of his wife, and a 
more sad example of the hopelessness of our present marriage sys- 
tem could not well be found. 

The censorship established at Columbus and Hachits have pre- 
vented correspondents from sending news. 

Coming back to the place after a journey, the brilliant light is 
very striking. 

The mediation board is hard at work and have conferences each 

What a fine, democratic fellow he is, and whose time is up and 
soon to leave. 

The Union officials said that immediately the Chairman recog- 
nized the organization, they could furnish labor. 

Yesterday the judge reinstated the case, after scolding the at- 
torney, whom he declared misrepresented the facts to him. 

He found one of his horses dead as he was sawing wood in the 

The best blood of the country are in these cars. 

It is but a question of time until the revolutionary socialists who 
compose decidedly the most powerful party, takes the reins from 
the hands of the elements in Petrograd. 

The power of the opposition parties is indicated by the resigna- 
tion of Premier von Seidler during the past week, the Poles uniting 
against the provisional budget, imperilling the government major- 
ity, Von Seidler resigned. 

My country and my country's cause command my highest al- 
legiance, and to them I am ready to make every sacrifice, both 
personally and political. 

384. The following extract is taken without change from 
an article published in one of the leading American news- 
papers. You will find upon examination that it contains 
almost every type of sentence error. Rewrite it, one sen- 
tence at a time. Cut out all provincialisms and all the 
slang that is not picturesque. 

This will be rambling account of an attempt to get in touch with 
our soldiers. In the first place it was an all night journey into the 
interior of France, a change of cars, once at 3 o'clock in the morning 
and the other at 6 o'clock, both of the changes being made in the 
dark, and to add to the thrill of the journey, being near the fight- 
ing zone and the inability to speak a single word of French. 



Naturally when given permission to visit an American training 
camp, I elected to go where I would find the boys from home. The 
American officer who gave the military pass was as polite and as 
obliging as any Frenchman ever thought of being. He thought he 
was giving me the right instructions and was telling me where to 
go to find my friends. However, the camp I visited was nothing 
more than a replace division. Yet the trip was not without its 
many interesting developments. 

The first thing which hits a visitor to France in the eye, and brings 
home to one with a crash, is how lamentably poor is our much 
vaunted railroad system. All know now that when the big call 
came and the railroads were put to the test, they fell to pieces. 
Here in France, after four years of war, even handling double the 
amount of freight and troops, the system is almost perfect. 

When a call was made at headquarters at this replace division or 
whatever it is called in G. O. (general orders) , I found many officers 
and friends on the job from home and others I had met at the various 
American camps in the States. 


I met one officer, a former captain of a national guard on the 
Mexican border last year, doing his bit provost marshaling. Where 
the troops were stationed was formerly a French artillery training 
camp. It is situated high up in the mountains, about 2,500 feet 
above sea level, and has a very pretty setting. There is an old 
village and a new village; both are quaint and typically French in 
every way. The newest house in the old village was built in 1843. 
Scattered around and nestling in what we would call back home 
canyons are a number of smaller villages. Each has its old church, 
and on Saturday afternoon and on Sundays our soldiers take long 
hikes visiting these villages. 

One may only speak of this lot of American soldiers at this time, 
for the rest of them are scattered over France in other American 
training camps. Those I saw were in good health, even though 
they reached this camp in the special de luxe cars furnished by the 
French government for transporting troops. Right here one 
pauses, after seeing these cars, to ask what has become of the Ameri- 
can soldier who railed last year because he was sent to the Mexican 
border in chair cars and not in Pullman sleepers. 

A French troop train, the cars the length of a good-sized suit 
case, are all labeled so that the quartermaster may not make a 
mistake. Homme, 46; chevan, 8 (46 men or 8 horses). In these 
cars the American soldiers are now traveling, and from now until 
they get back to the good old U. S. A., unless they travel on per- 
mission, they will travel to and from the training camps or the 


front. In the center of the cars are two rows of wooden, straight 
backed benches, and, believe me, when 46, or, as the case may be, 
48 men are packed in these toy cattle cars, it's a case of when one 
cares to move his position all must move together. They are sans 
light and sans heat, so when American soldiers took a January 
day ride (their first journey by rail in France), it is not be to won- 
dered at if inquiries were made for the fellows who howled about 
riding in chair cars in America. 

The opportunity to kick and complain, taking the dope from 
the past kicking performance of the national guard or regular 
soldier, would strike one as offering a splendid chance to air his 
grievance. Yet I never heard a single soldier raise his voice in 
protest because he traveled in horse or cattle cars. The psychology 
of this is easy American adaptability and the realization that at 
last he is a soldier and must take a soldier's pot luck. He wants 
luxury when it is to be had and others of his kind are getting it, but 
when he knows the soldiers of France, real fighters if ever real 
fighters were born, have been going to and from the front in such 
cars, your good American soldiers in the making laughs and makes 
a joke of what he calls his new style "side-door Pullman." 


While all this stupendous movement of troops is going on, there 
is the handling of the millions of tons of supplies and a very heavy 
passenger travel. Of course passenger travel gets second considera- 
tion. In every road terminal were long lines of freight cars loaded 
to the last pound of weight they could carry, while in the freight 
sheds other stuff was waiting for cars. Man power has given away 
to woman power. It is all sex equality with a vengeance, for the 
French women seem to be able to handle the trucks as easily as do 
the men. And what few men are on the job are poilu recovering 
or recovered from wounds. 

It was the same in the fields of the farming districts through 
which the train passed. Men and women were doing their spring 
plowing. Sometimes they had horses, but for the most part it 
was a team of slow moving sad-eyed oxen. Once or twice I saw a 
team of oxen driven tandem, the tandem being a small burro 
about the size of an eastern Oregon or western Washington jack 
rabbit. Yet these farms looked remarkably well kept up and the 
scene all looked very peaceful and rural. 

The French franc and the centime have our soldiers by the ears. 
Here is a story told me by an American major, chief of staff. He 
was passing through Paris. In front of him buying a ticket across 
town on the underground Metro were two American soldiers. 
The enlisted man placed an American nickel before the woman 
ticket seller and called out his station. The woman handed him 


back two tickets and what was the equivalent in our money to 
3 cents in change. Men in uniform get reduced rates on the rail- 
roads and the street cars. To add to this confusion is the coinage of 
the allied nations. 

In travels about one runs into both amusing and annoying ex- 
periences. For instance, on the train which took me from Paris, 
my traveling companions were three. One was a French colonel; 
across his breast were many war decorations and on the sleeve of 
his coat were gold stripes signifying the number of times he had 
been wounded. Another was a French major, with fewer decora- 
tions, a living picture of Wilton Lackaye. The third, in civilian 
dress, was evidently a secret service man. He was deeply interested 
in my arm brassard. Finally when he could not stand it any longer, 
he demanded to see my permission. I could only get the drift of 
what they were talking about, but I sensed I was the subject of 
their conversation. I pulled the haughty stare stuff, then drew out 
my papers and handed them to the French general. The old fellow 
caught my meaning at once and maybe he didn't poke fun at the 
bird in citizen clothes. He found my papers all right, and until 
they got off, I conversed in sign language and used up all the copy 
paper I had with me in carrying on a conversation with them. 

When these two French officers got off a young French second 
lieutenant got into my compartment. After a long time his curi- 
osity got the better of him, and he, too, wanted to know. I was 
wise by this time and I handed him my card. "Aaah," he ex- 
claimed, "1'correspondent," then he explained he was returning 
to the front line after recovering from his wounds. His description 
of the wounds he had received was done in pantomime, but it was 
dramatic. He pointed to several places on his body where at the 
hospital they had removed from his anatomy a part of the steel out- 
put of Germany, also from the side of his face. He was a fine young 
man, about 28 years old I should judge. He was a handsome chap, 
and the shell, which he described when it exploded as being, "ooo 
la, la, bom-bom," left no facial blemishes. 


He could read English, as can most of the French, whether he 
be an officer, poilu or plain city dweller, and he wrote me of many 
things which I dare not set down here. His name was Felix Pel- 
letiere. My only hope is that he passes safely through the rest of 
the war, for only in a few instances has it been my good fortune 
to have met such a perfect gentleman and one with such perfect 



385. In the following list note the idioms in regard to 
which you make mistakes, and master the correct forms: 

Accordance with. 

In accordance with (not to) our agreement. . . . 


James agrees with me. 

I agree to your terms. 

Ripe fruit agrees With him. 

Alike. Do not use both with it: 
The twins are alike (not both alike). 

All right. Note that there is no such form as alright. 
Alternatives. Do not say several alternatives, as the 
meaning is confined to two things or courses. 

And. (1) Do not use in place of the infinitive particle: 

Try to (not and) sleep. 
Come to (not and) see me. 

(2) Do not use and where connection is already made 
in another way : 

I have a large cat (and) which is an angora. 

He bought a piano (and) for which he has not paid. 

Angry. Use with of persons, at only of things. 
Another. Follow by than (not from) : 

A man of another temperament than Caesar's. 
As. Do not use for that: 

I do not know that I can tell. 
Not that I know of. 

As to. Do not use before how, where, when, whom, what, 
or other adverbs or pronouns introducing indirect questions: 

How this may be, I don't understand. 

Where he is, I don't know. 

Whom you mean, I cannot imagine. 


At. Do not use with where: 
Where is he? Not: Where is he at ? 

Between. Do not use for among. Between applies to per- 
sons or things taken by twos, and is followed by the ob- 
jective case: 

Between the King and his general. 
Between you and me. 
Between her and him. 

Blame. Do not use with on: 

Don't blame me for it. Not: Don't blame it on me. 

But. Do not use but what for that or but that: 

I do not doubt that he will come; I don't know but that he did. 

Cannot help. After cannot help use the participle, not the 
finite verb with but: 

You cannot help liking (not help but like) her. 

Caused by. This phrase is not a preposition. Do not say : 

He missed his train, caused by (for because of) the high water. 

Compare. Use with to mean measure by; to to express 

Why compare small things with great? 
He compared her to a rose. 

Differ. Use with, when the meaning is disagree; from 
when the meaning is be different: 

I differ toith you on this point. 

This text differs from the other in this respect. 

Different. Use with from, never with than or to: 

She is different from (not to) her sister. 

Directly. Do not use for a* soon as: 

As soon as (not directly) I saw him, I knew he was an impostor. 


Do and Did. It is usually better to repeat the verb than 
to use these substitutes. 

Due to. Do not use for owing to or because of. (See 342.) 

Each other. Use each other for two persons; one another 
for more than two. 

Else. (1) Follow by but, not than: 

No one else but (not than) I could have waited so long. 
(2) Usage warrants the addition of 's to else: 
Anybody else's (not anybody's else) house. 
Except. Do not use for unless. (See without.} 
Do not go unless (not except) I tell you. 

Former . . . latter. Avoid these words if possible, for 
they are often ambiguous. 

Got. (1) Omit with have when it shows possession: 

I have (not have got) a new hat. 

(2) Use must instead of have got to: 
I must (not have got to) buy some gloves. 

(3) Do not use with married: 
They were married (not got married). 

If. Whether is now preferred to if in an indirect question: 

I do not know whether (not if) he can. 

In search of. Search for is correct: but in search of: 

In search of gold (not for gold). 

Inside of. Do not use for urithin, to express time: 

Within (not inside of) a year I shall finish. 

Omit the preposition: 

He was inside (not inside of) the limit. 

Listen to. 

Listen to (not at) me. 


Like. Do not use for as if: 
They walked as if (not like) they were tired. 
Myself. Do not use for 7 in a series : 
Grace, Ben, and 7 (not myself) are going. 

Neither . . . nor. Do not say : Neither he or I. 

Nothing more nor less. 

It was nothing more nor (not or) less. 

Number. Treat the number as singular; a number as 

Of. Do not use of for have, as : could of, would of, had of. 

Of any. Do not use for of all: 

This is the best book of all (not of any) I have read. 

Off. Never add of: 

Take your hand off (not off of) the paper. 

One. Use instead of you for an indefinite pronoun, except 
in conversation and colloquial writing. 

On to. Avoid if possible. Use on, upon, or to. 
Other. No other than not no other but. 
Ought. Never use with had. 
Over with. Omit with. Say : The game is over. 
Outside of. Omit preposition. (See inside of.) 
Provided that. Do not use providing: 

I shall go provided (not providing) that the meeting is not again 

Preferable. Never use more preferable or preferable than. 

Quantity. Use to mean amount, not number. 

Quite a few. Avoid quite a few, quite a while, quite a num- 

Reference. Use with reference to, not in reference to. 

Regard. Use with regard to or as regards, not with regards 

Respect. Use with respect to not respect of. 

Same. Avoid same altogether as a pronoun. 

I received your enclosure and thank you for it (not the same). 


Seldom. Say : I seldom if ever go ; or I seldom or never go. 
Self-confessed. A confession can be made only by oneself. 
So. (1) Do not use absolutely: It is so pretty! 
(2) After not, so is usually to be preferred, to as: This is not 
so good as that. 

Such a. Do not use absolutely: She is such a nice girl! 
That. Do not use that for so: 

I was so tired (not that tired) that I could not remember. 
To. Do not use for at: 
He was not at (not to) home. 

Unique. Do not use if there is more than one of the kind. 
Used to could. A locution worthy of study but not of use. 
View to. Say: With a view to (not of) making. 
Want to. Carelessly used for ought, had better: 

You had better (not want to) keep out of that. 

Way. Use way, not ways. 

It is a long way (not ways) from here. 

Were. Always use you were, never you was. 
Without. Do not use for unless. Without is a preposition 
or an adverb, never a conjunction: 

Do not go unless (not without) I bid you. 

Would. Would have is much used vulgarly for the preterite 
in such expressions as, It's a wonder you wouldn't have seen 

You and me. Never use you and I after a preposition. 




386. With the aid of the dictionary study differences in 
meaning and use of the following: 

admit confess 
apparent evident 

audience spectators 
avenge revenge 
avocation vocation 
aware conscious 

beside besides 

character repu tation recommendation 
claim assert maintain 
common mu tual 
comprehensible comprehensive 
contemptible contemptuous 
continual continuous 
credible creditable credulous 

definite definitive 
discover invent 
disinterested uninterested 
distinctly distinctively 

elegant fine grand lovely splendid 

element factor feature phase 

equivalent equal 

essential necessary 

excessively exceedingly 

expect presume anticipate suspect 

farther further 

fewer less 

first two two first (last two .two last) 

hanged hung 

happen transpire 

healthy healthful wholesome 

hereafter henceforth 

imply infer 
in into 


inaugurate initiate 
individual person party 
insignificant trivial 
insoluble unsolvable 

learn teach 

leave let 

lend loan 

liable likely apt 

lie lay 

like as if 

literally figuratively 

majority plurality most 
mend repair 

necessities necessaries 

observance observation 
occasion induce cause 
on upon 
opposite contrary 
oral verbal 

patron customer 
peculiar odd unusual 
perpetually continually 
poisonous venomous 
practical practicable 

quiet quiescent 

raise rear 

raise rise 

rebellion revolt revolution 

recipe receipt 

recollect remember 

relation relative 

repudiate deny 

respectively respectfully respectably 

scholar student pupil 
seat set sit 
secure procure 
sensation emotion 
space period 


stay stop 

stimulant stimulus stimulation 

sustain incur 

talented gifted 

thrifty thriving 

transaction incident accident 

u nless without 

u tter absolu te entire 

various several 
witness see 


387. The following should be avoided in normal writing: 

about, for almost 

ad., for advertisement 

advisedly, for intentionally 

aggravate, for provoke or annoy 

alibi, for defense, excuse 

all the farther, all the faster, for as far as, as fast as 

allow, for think or admit 

allude to, for mention 

along this line, for of this kind 

anyplace ) /or anywhere 

anywheres j ' 

apt, for likely or liable 

around, for about 

as, for that: I don't know as 

atrocious, for disagreeable 

authoress, for woman writer 

average, for customary, ordinary, usual 

badly, for very much 
balance, for remainder 
bank on, for rely on 
be back, for return 
belong, without an object 
bogus, for counterfeit 
bound, for determined 
brainy, for intelligent 
build, for make 


bulk, for greater part 
bunch, crowd, far set, group 
business, for right 

calculate, for think 

calculated, for likely 

can, for may 

citizen, for civilian 

claim, for assert 

clever, for good-natured 

combine, for combination 

company, for visitor 

complected, for complexioned 

conclude, for decide 

could of, may of, must of, for could have, etc. 

couple, for several 

critically, for seriously 

' for attractive or little 
curious, for odd, singular 

date, for engagement, appointment 

declared, for said 

demean, for degrade 

demise, for death 

depot, for station. 

directly, for immediately 

doctress, lady doctor, for woman doctor 

edify, for please, entertain 
electrocute, for kill by electricity 
elegant, for good 
endorse, for approve 
enthuse, for be enthusiastic 
entitled, for authorized, privileged 
episode, for occurrence 
every, for entire, full 
every place, for everywhere 
example, for problem 
expect, for suppose 

fail, as a transitive verb 

fail, when there has been no effort 

favor, for resemble 

feel of, for feel 

finances, for wealth 

first-rate, for well. 


fix, for repair, arrange, settle 
folks, for family 
foot the bill, for pay 
forebears, for ancestors 
funny, for strange 

gent, for gentleman 

gentleman, for man 

gentleman friend, for friend 

good, for well 

gotten, for got 

guess, for think, suppose, imagine 

had have, had of, for had (as, If he had of asked me, . . .) 

had ought, for ought 

handy, for near 

heigh th, for height 

home for house 

how, for What did you say? 

human, for human being 

hurry, for haste 

hurt, for harm 

idea, for purpose 
immediately, for as soon as 
invite, for invitation 

kind of 'for rather 

lady, for woman 
lady friend, for friend 
learn, for teach 
leave, for let 

,. r ,/or h'ef 
lives j J 

lengthways, for lengthwise 
loan, for lend 
locate, for settle 

>* of },/ormuch 

mad, for angry 

make, for earn 

midst, in our, for among us 

mighty, for very 

mind, for obey 

minus, for lacking 


moneyed, for wealthy 
most, for almost 

never, as merely emphatic for not 
nice, for pleasant 
nohow, for not at all 
nowhere near, for not nearly 

opine, for think 
out loud, for aloud 
overly, for too 

pants, for trousers 
partial to, for fond of 
party, for person 
photo, for photograph 
piece, for short distance 

poorly, for ill 
post, for inform 
pretend, for profess 

quite, for rather or very much 

real, for very 

reckon, for think 

reccommend, for reccommendation 

regular, for real 

remember of, for remember 

researcher, for investigator 

rig, for outfit, costume 

right, for very 

right off^ } /" ^mediately, at once 
right smart, for a good many 
run, for manage 

say, listen, imperative to introduce a remark 

say so, for consent, n. 

second-handed, for secondhand 

settle, for pay 

shape, for condition 

show, for chance 

show, for performance 

show up, for expose 

side with, for agree with 


sideways, far sidewise 
sign up, for sign 
simply, for really 
since, for ago 
size up, for estimate 
smart, for bright, able 
some, for somewhat 

soon, for willingly 
sort of, for rather 
stand for, for permit 
start, for begin 
state, for say 
substantiate, for prove 
suicided, for killed himself 
sure, for surely 

tasty, for tasteful 

these kind, for this kind 

this here, that there, for this, that 

through, for finished 

transpire, for happen 

unbeknown, unbeknownst, for unknown 
unique, for rare 

ventilate, for express, disclose 

was had: A delightful time was had by all. 

well, to introduce a sentence 

while, for whereas, because 

whip, for defeat 

whereabouts, for where 

why, to introduce a sentence 

write up, n.,for account of 

you all | 

we all ' , meaning merely you, we, who. 

who all) 



388. Read this list and add to it as many similar ex- 
pressions as you can. Then avoid them all. 

cupid's bow 

cup that cheers 

devouring element 

festive board 

own vine and fig-tree 

skeleton in the closet 

old Sol 

fragrant weed 

downy couch 

dogs of war 

silvery locks 

velvety grass 

feathery snow 

starry eyes 

cupid's snare 

cakes and ale 

Patience on a monument 

worm i' the bud 

when my ship comes in 

distance lends enchantment 

shady nooks 

hide modestly 

paths of rectitude 

inviting dalliance 

ripple of girlish laughter 

wrought sad havoc 

cottage (or village) nestled 

connubial bliss 

snowy blossoms 

discreet silence 

culinary purposes 

familiar landmark 

fateful day 

epistolary efforts 

impenetrable mystery 

sequestered corner 

a mere song 

horny-handed son of toil 

fleecy clouds 

borne in triumph 

depth of winter 


lavish profusion 
humble friends 
heart's content 
old-world chivalry 
nefarious occupation 
the good-wife 
sun smites remorselessly 
modest requirements 
hotly contested 
misguided individual 
untoward accident 
more forcible than polite 
profound silence reigned 
fleecy clouds 
watery grave 
rippling water 
equal to the occasion 
quivered with excitement 
along these lines 
in the last analysis 


[Titles of separate publications are in italics; titles of single poems and 
short stories are quoted; pages containing quotations are printed in bold 

Abstracts, making, 150 

Abbreviation, 442 

Action and movement, description 
of, 185 

Addison, Joseph, 351, 354 

Adjective clause, essential modifier, 
86f.; non-essential modifier, 87; 
position and punctuation, 87 

Adjective modifiers, blended, 69; 
essential, 69; non-essential, 69; 
place of, 70; punctuation, 69 

Adjective phrases, place of, 93; 
punctuation of series of, 70 

Adjectives and Adverbs, 466ff. 

Adjectives, connected by conjunc- 
tions, 70; two modifying same 
noun, 69 

"Adonais," 407 

Adverb, dislocated, 70 

Adverbial clauses, non-essential, 
position and punctuation, 87 

Adverbial modifiers, place of, 70 - 

Adverbial phrases, essential mod- 
ifiers, 70; non-essential modifiers, 
70; placing for emphasis, 93; 
punctuation, 70f . ; rule for placing, 

Adverb, relative, for subordination, 

Adverbs, placing of, 467; punctua- 
tion of series, 71; qualifying 
predication, 68; transitional, 133; 
of negation, 467f . 

Alexandrine, 407 

Alliteration, 401f. 

Almanac, Daily Neios, 232; Whit- 
aker's, 232; World, 232 

American at Oxford, An, 29 

Amplification, 204; illustrated, 190 

Analogy, argument by, 243; method, 
243f.; theory, 243; use of, 244 

Analysis of narrative material, 149 

Anapest, 398f. 

And, comma with, 73 

And who, 465 

Annual Magazine, 232 

Answering letters, 389 

Antecedent, pronoun near, lOlf.; 
definitely expressed, 102f.; un- 
mistakable, 102 

Antithesis, 104 

Any, 471 

Apostrophe, 441f. 

Appearances, 104 

Appendix, 412-495 

Apposition, substantive clause in, 
punctuation of, 86 

Appositive, defined, 69; punctuation 
of, 69; pronoun, 464 

Arden, Joan, 164ff., 178f. 

Argument, 222-254; aims in, 247; 
by analogy, 243f.; audience in, 
247f.; authority in, 226-232; 
basis of, 222; on current topics, 
230; deductive reasoning in, 237- 
240; errors in, causes of, 227, 235, 
238f.; evidence in, 222-226; ev- 
idence, circumstantial, 224f., 229; 
evidence, direct, 223f.; evidence, 
indirect, 224f., 229; evidence 
tested, 228; facts tested, 230f.; 
fact and inference, difference be- 
tween, 234; formal, 249-253; 
formal, body of, 249ff.; formal, 




conclusion, 250f.; formal, intro- 
duction, 249ff . ; formal, refutation, 
253; hints for, 239; inductive 
reasoning in, 233-236; persuasion 
in, 246ff.; premise, major and 
minor, 237f.; propaganda paper, 
365; reasoning in, 234f.; in re- 
search, 381; two sides in, 223; 
use of, 222 

Arnold, Matthew, 20, 21, 265, 365. 
400, 403 

Article, informative, 335, 340, 350 

Assignment, 8, 19, 29, 35, 49, 56, 62, 
67, 71, 81, 89, 95, 100, 105, 110, 
116, 120, 122, 129, 137, 140, 146, 
150, 153, 163, 168, 173, 178, 185, 
188, 194, 197, 204, 205, 207, 212, 
219, 225, 232, 236, 240, 242, 245, 
249, 253, 265, 273, 281, 283, 288, 
289, 291, 295, 298, 301, 305, 314, 
316, 320, 322, 324, 334, 339, 345, 
351, 354, 356, 359, 361, 363, 366, 
375, 390, 392, 394, 396, 402, 406, 
407, 409 

Atlantic Monthly, 63, 163, 339, 354, 

Attention, fundamental, 38; corrects 
faults, 38 

Audience, in persuasion, 247f. 

Austen, Jane, 142, 157, 364, 373, 388 

Autobiography, 363 

Balanced sentence, 104 
Ballad, The, 403; meter of, 401 
"Ballad of Trees and the Master, 

A," 19 

Barrack Room Ballads, 204 
Barrie, Sir James, 259, 325 
"Battle of Otterburn, The," 407 
Beebe, William, 162, 163, 363, 354 
Beerbohm, Max, 351 
Bennett, Arnold, 157, 203f. 
Benson, A. C., 357 
Benson, E. F., 324 
Better, 471 

Bibliography, 382; card, 422 
Bierce, Ambrose, 305, 323f. 

Biographical Study, 357-363; I 
with abundant material, 357f. 
II, with few facts, 359; III, in- 
ternal evidence, 362; problems in, 

"Bishop's Comedy, The," 305 

"Black Cat, The," 141 

Blackmore, R. D., 141 

Blackwood, Algernon, 5, 77, 267, 
271, 305 

Blank verse, 400 

Bleak House, 139, 157 

"Boarded Window, The," 326 

Body, in formal argument, 249ff.; 
news, 286 

Book, appeal of, variable, 373 

Books, system in use of, 24 

" Borrowed Plumes, In," 305, 326 

Boswell, James, 233, 364 

"Bottle Imp, The," 325 

" Bounty- Jumper, The," 326 

" Brachycephalic Bohunkus, The," 

Brackets, 44, 455 

"Bridge-builders, The," 305 

Brief (model), 251f. 

Brooke, Rupert, 19 

Browsing process in reading, 22, 27 

"Brushwood Boy, The," 141, 305 

Bryant, W. C., 402 

Bryce, Sir James, 146, 233 

Bunyan, John, 403 

Burr, Amelia, 19 

Burroughs, John, 136, 163, 252f. 

Butler, Samuel, 271, 366 

Byron, 408 

"By Water," 326 

Cacophony, 107 
"Cain's Atonement," 326 
Cambridge and Its Colleges, 29 
Cannan, Gilbert, 333 
Canterbury Tales, 380 
Capital letters, use of, 39f . 
Capitals, 424-428; and italics, 422 
Card catalogue, how to use, 23 
Carlyle, Thomas, 40, 233, 388 


Carpenter, Edward, 30. 349 

"Case of Paramore, The," 305 

Carrell, Alexis, 233 

Carroll, Lewis (Dodgson, C. L.), 
269, 388 

Cause and effect, 192, 208, 213 

Century Magazine, 63 

Chamberlin, Thomas Chrowder, 233 

"Change of Treatment, A," 305, 315 

Character drawing, 213-219; 
methods, 213f.; indirect method, 
214; purpose, 213; useful sugges- 
tions for, 318 

Character essays, methods of writ- 
ing, 354f. 

Characteristics and sources of short 
story, 303f. 

Characterization, 193; direct ex- 
position avoided in, 317; essen- 
tials in, 317; ideal in, 316; in 
play, 331 

Characters in short story, 316-320; 
few, 316; naming of, 319 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, 380, 407 

Chesterton, Gilbert, 279 

Child in the House, The, 265 

Choice determined by rhythm, 264 

Choosing a subject, 381 

Christmas Carol, A, 305 

Chronicle, Old English, 142 

Clarendon, Earl of, 229 

Clarke, A Treasury of War Poetry, 19 

Clauses, 475; correlative in content, 
76ff.; correlative, use of, 77f.; 
essential and non-essential, how 
to distinguish, 88; parallel in con- 
struction, 88; parallel, position of, 
79; pronouns in, 464f.; punctua- 
tion of, in compound sentences, 
79f.; subordinate, arrangement 
of, 88; subordinate, function of, 
86; subordinate, number in com- 
plex sentence, 85; transitional, 
133; transitional, position of, 133; 
transitional, punctuation of, 68 

Clearness, 100-105; grammatical 
correctness requisite for, 100; 

mastery of pronoun, requisite for, 
101 ; proper arrangement requisite 
for, 101; parallelism aid to, 103 

Climax, 88; defined, 156; keep in 
mind, 306; order of, 104, 125; in 
play, 330 

Coffin, Howard E., 344 

Colon, 447f. 

Colloquialisms, 489 

Comedy plot, 156 

Comma, 44, 80, 86ff., 94, 448-451; 
abuses of, 451f.; with and, 73; 
omitted with and, 73; with adjec- 
tive modifiers, 68; with adverbial 
modifiers, 68; with conjunction!, 
79f.; with independent elements, 
68; with multiple elements, 73; 
in simple sentence, 68-71; use of 
single, 67 

Commas, use few, 71; two, 67 

Compactness, 96-100; rules for, 97f. 

Compact structure, illustrated and 
explained, 96f. 

Comparison, 469ff.; and contrast, 
192; use of, 125 

Complement, predicate, 55, 463 

Complex sentence, 56; construction 
of, 82, 84; correlation of clauses in 
form and content, 77, 79 

Compound sentence, 56; basic prin- 
ciple, 76 

Compound-Complex sentence, 84 

Concatenation, 258 

Concentration, 29 

Conclusion, 237f.; in formal argu- 
ment, 249ff.; in play, 330 

Condition of success, 340 

Congressional Record, 233 

Conjunction, 73f., 79f. ; coordinating, 
132f.; correlative, 472; omission 
of, 73f., 76, 79f.; repeated, 103; 
for subordination, 83 

Conjunctions, 473f. 

Conrad, Joseph, 4, 58f., 65, 67, 72, 
74. 76, 77f., 173, 264, 305, 322, 363 

Constitutional History of England, 



Contents, tables of, 24 

"Contraband of War," 305 

Contrast, 88 

"Contributors' Club" in Atlantic 
Monthly, 355f. 

Conversation, paragraphing, 122 

Coordination, 472f. 

Corbin, John, 29 

"Courting of Dinah Shadd, The," 

Cranford, 141 

Critic, good, 370f.; must be un- 
biased, 372 

Critical attitude, 374 

Criticism, 369-380; point of view 
in, 374; problems of technique in, 
371f.; unprofitable, 369f. 

Cromwell, Oliver, 229 

Crothers, Samuel McChord, 128, 
129, 130, 131 

Culture and Anarchy, 20 

Cunliffe, Poems of the Great War, 19 

"Cultivated Man, The," 9 

Dactyl, 399 

Darmsteter, James, The Life of 

Words, 265 
Dash, 86, 452f. 
"Daunt Diana, The," 305 
David Copperfield, 157 
"Death of Arthur, The," 407 
Declaration of Independence, 233 
Deductive reasoning, 237-240; er- 
rors in, 238f.; hints for, 239 
Definition, 189, 194-197; accurate, 

196; close, 195 

Demonstrative, repetition of, 472 
Description, 159-188; aim, 159; 
art of, 161; of action and move- 
ment, 185; combined with narra- 
tion, 185-188; conditions of, 161f.; 
danger of inexperienced writer, 
170; details, choice of, 166ff.; 
general impression, 174-178; gen- 
eralized, 190; generalized descrip- 
tion and narration, 206f.; plan, 
182-185; point of view, 170-173; 

root of trouble, 171; sense appeal, 
159-163; test of, 160; unifying 
principle in, 174; use of, 159 

Des Moines Register and Leader, 301 

Development, of paragraph, 124; 
of short story, 305-313 

Dialogue, 322ff.; materials for, 324; 
in play, 332; secret of good, 322 

Diana of the Crossways, 157 

Dickens, Charles, 139, 141, 155-157, 

Dickinson, J. Lowes, 103-105 

Dictionary, 30-34; methods of pre- 
senting information, 33; rules for 
use of, 31-34 

Dictionary of National Biography, 

Dimeter, 401 

Discrimination, exercises in, 487ff. 

Division, 191, 198ff.; process of, 198; 
satisfactory, 199 

Dolly Dialogues, 324 

Domesday Book, 233 

Don Quixote, 373 

Drama, 329; acts of, 329 

Drinkwater, John, 19 

Drummond, Henry, 243 

Dryden, John, 399 

Dunsany, Lord, 333f. 

East Lynne, 245, 369 

Economy, in sentence, 264 

Editorials, 299; length of, 299 

Egoist, The, 157 

"Elaborate Elopement, An," 326 

Elimination of unsuitable material, 
143f.; methods of, 151 

Eliot, George (Evans, Mary Ann), 

Elliot, Charles William, 9 

Ellipses, 453 

Elliptical sentence, 5, 322; sub- 
ordinate clause, 468 

"El Ombu," 305 

Emma, 142 

Emphasis, secured by comma, 71; 
placing of phrase for, 92 



Encyclopaedia Britannica, 232, 233 

English, on speaking, 442-445; 
suggestions for improvement in, 

English Prose and Poetry, 265, 406f. 

English Review, 63 
' Enunciation, 15f. 

Erehwon, 271, 366 

Errors, causes of, 227; in deductive 
reasoning, 238f.; in inductive rea- 
soning, 235f. 

Essay, 335-366; art of writing, 350; 
character, methods of writing, 
354f.; informal, 350f. 

Essential modifiers, 86ff.; placing of, 
92; distinguish between non- 
essential and, 88 

Essentials of good narration, 145 

Euphony, 107f.; and rhythm, 107f.; 
rule for combining, 107 

Evidence, 222-226; circumstantial, 
224, 229; direct, 223; indirect, 224, 
229; tested, 228 

Exclamation mark, 44, 68, 80, 447 

Exclamatory sentence, use of, 98 

Exemplification, conditions of, 202f.; 
kinds of, 202f. 

Exercises, in discrimination, 487ff.; 
in the short story, 326 

Exposition, 189-221; by amplifica- 
tion, illustrated, 190; by ampli- 
fication, 204; by cause and effect, 
192, 208-212; by character draw- 
ing, 213-217; by characterization, 
193; by comparison and contrast, 
192; by definition, 189, 194-197; 
by generalized description, 190; 
by generalized description and 
narration, 206f.; by division, 191, 
198-201; by enumeration of qual- 
ities, 192; by example, 192; by 
exemplification, 202f.; fundamen- 
tals of, 194; by paraphrase, 204f. 

Expression, art of, can be learned, 3 

Fabre, Henri, 163 
Faerie Queene, The, 407 

Fall, 330 

"Fall of the House of Usher, The," 

Feature story, 289 

Fiction, defined, 153 

Fifes and Drums, 19 

"Fifty Fathoms Down," 305, 321 

Figures, in compound sentences, 77; 
in effective phrasing, 263; use of, 

Fire Bring cr, The, 19 

Firth, J. B., 29 

Five Plays, 333 

"Follow-up" stories, 296 

Foot, in verse, 398ff. 

Footnotes, 413; abbreviations in, 442 

Form, good, 37-49; confidence and 
ease how gained, 37; essential, 
386; main features of, 39; value 
of, 37 

Formal argument, 249-253; body of, 
249ff.; brief, 25 If.; conclusion, 
249ff.; introduction, 249ff.; refuta- 
tion, 253 

Formal report, 344 

Forum, The, 63 

Franklin, Benjamin, 233, 278f . 

Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins, 305, 313, 
320, 322 

French Revolution, The, 233 

"From the Main Top," 305 

Fuller, Henry, 367 

Fulleylove, John, Oxford, 29 

Galsworthy, John, 67, 176-178, 

181f., 323, 332-334, 445 
Gaskell, Mrs. E. C. S., 141 
"Gate of a Hundred Sorrows, The," 


"Geraniums," 19 
Gerould, Katherine Fullerton, 305, 

813, 320 
Gerund, 468 
Gibson, Wilfred, W., 19 
Gisze, picture, 221 
"Gold Bug, The," 141, 305 
Good Housekeeping, 348 



Grammar, 44ff.; brought to life, 46; 

practical, 45; review, 455-459; 

review, questions in, 455ff . ; theory 

of, 45; a theoretical system, 44; 

reviewed under two aspects, 44 
Green, J. R., History of the English 

People, 146, 151 
Green Mansions, 271 
Greenough and Kittredge, Words 

and their Ways, 265 
Guide, The Reader's, 232 
Gulliver's Travels, 141, 269f. 

Hague Conventions, 233 

"Half-past Ten," 326 

Hankin, St. John, 445 

Hardy, Thomas, 74, 139, 157, 169, 
179, 261, 369 

Harper's Magazine, 63, 354 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 141 

Hearne, Lafcadio, 184, 347 

"Heart of Darkness," 305, 363 

Heart of Midlothian, 157 

"Heart of Youth," 326 

Henry, O. (Porter, Sidney B.), 87f., 
141, 215, 219ff., 263, 305f.. 322, 
324, 326 

Henry Esmond, 157 

Heptameter, 401 

Heroic couplet, 401 

Heron, Cicely, 361f. 

Herrick, Robert, 305, 378, 379 

Hewlett, Maurice, 267 

Hexameter, 401 

Historical sketch, 361 

History of the American Common- 
wealth, 146 

History of England, 233 

History of the English People, 146, 

History of English Literature, 233 

Holbien, Hans, 218, 221, 361 

"Horseman in the Sky, A," 305, 

House of the Seven Gables, The, 141 

"How Fear Came," 188 

Howells, W. D., 67, 313 

Hudson, W. H., 62f., 67, 135, 136f., 

163, 182, 271, 305, 353, 363 
Human nature, studies in, 354ff. 
Humble Romance, A, 305 
Huxley, Thomas H., 233 
Hyphen, 439ff. 

Iambic foot, 398 

"Ice- Water PI ," 326 

Idioms, 482 

Illiteracy, national, 45f. 

Imagination, 268-273; builds upon 
fact, 271; constructive work, 271; 
how cultivated, 269; facts about, 
not understood, 268; reading 
with, 7 

Imaginative writing, law in, 269 

Indention, 48, 121 

Independent, The, 339 

Independent elements, 68 

Index, 24; special, 23; volume, 23 

Index, Pooles, 232 

Indirect method in character draw- 
ing, 214 

Inference, drawing of, 233f.; differ- 
ence between fact and, 234 

Infinitive, 469; sign of, 469; split, 
469; tense of, 469 

Information, reading for, 25f . 

Informative article, 335, 340-350; 
conditions of success in, 340 

Intellectual treasury enriched, 21 

Interjections, 68, 447, 448 

Interpretation, 217f.; of class, 355; 
important points in, 217f.; revela- 
tion of personality, 217 

Intonation, 15f.; associated with 
character, 16 

Introduction, 247, 249ff.; formal 
argument, 249ff.; play, 329 

Irving, Washington, 305 

Italics, 40, 422, 428ff. 

Invitation, formal, 389f., 417.; 
acceptance, 417; declination, 418 

Jacks, L. P., 125-128, 130 
Jacobs, W. W., 305, 315, 322 



James, Henry, 67, 155, 313 
Jefferies, Richard, 106, 109, 168f., 

176, 218, 351. 352, 353 
Jespersen, O., Structure and Growth 

of the English Language, 265 
Jewett, Sarah Orne, 305, 312, 322 
John Silence, 305 
Jonson, Ben, 375f. 
Journal of Political Economy, 232 
Journalism, force in life, 278 
Julius Ca>sar, 366 
Jungle Books, The, 188 

" Kaa's Hunting," 188 

Keats, John, 376, 402, 407 

Kenilworth, 157 

Kensington Rune Stone, 382 

"Kerfol," 305 

Kidnapped, 139 

Kipling, Rudyard, 9, 10, 11, 13, 67, 

78, 81, 90, 98, 115, 138f., 141, 149, 

163, 186ff ., 188, 204, 262, 267, 305, 

321, 322 
Kittredge and Greenough, Words 

and their Ways, 265 
Knowledge, securing special, 342 

"Lady of the Land, The," 407 
"Lady or the Tiger, The," 325 
"Lake Isle of Innisfree, The," 19 
Lamb, Charles, 350, 351, 364, 388 
Language, what people make it, 46 
Lanier, Sidney, 19, 402 
Lead, 286 

"Legend, The," 305 
Letters, 386-396, 415-419; busi- 
ness, 390-397, 418f.; constructive 
business, 394ff.; form, 393f.; 
formal, 417; official, 393f.; per- 
sonal, 386-390, 415ff.; routine, 
390-393; rules for, 415-419; rules 
for answering, 389; rules for busi- 
ness, 418f.; rule for formal, 417f.; 
rules for personal, 415ff.; style of, 
396; subjects for personal, 387; 
types of, 393 
Letter writing, 386-396; art worth 

cultivating, 388; when formality 

unnecessary, 387; rules for success 

in, 386 

"Letting in the Jungle," 188 
Letts, Winifred M., 17f. 
Library, 20-29; getting at resources 

of, 23; use of, 20-29; notes, 420ff. 
"Life" 326 
Life of the Spider, 163 
Life of Words, 265 
Littel's Living Age, 354, 363 
Little Dorrit, 157 
"Little Souls," 326 
"Little Speck in Garnered Fruit, A," 


Lodge, Sir Oliver, 233 
"Lodging for the Night, A," 139, 305 
Loose sentence, 99 
Lord Jim, 157 
Lorna Doone, 141 
"Louisa," 305 
Lowell, James Russell, 402 
Lucas, E. V., 81f. 
"Lycidas," 408 

Macaulay, Lord, 99, 233 
Mackenzie, Compton, 29, 74, 89, 

171f., 183 

Magazine Subject Index, Annual, 232 
Magna Charta, 233 
"Making Port," 326 
Malory, Sir Thomas, 90 
Man of Property, A, 178 
Mandeville, Sir John de, 149 
"Man Who Could Work Miracles, 

The," 305 
"Man Who Understood Women, 

The," 305 

"Man Who Was, The," 141, 305 
"Man Who Would be King, The," 


Manly, J. M., 265, 406f. 
Manuscript, rules for, 412ff . 
Marble Faun, The, 141 
Margins, 414f. 
Marjorie Daw, 325 
"Markheim," 305 



"Mary's Wedding," 333 
Masefield, John, 4, 19, 76 
Master of the Sun, The, 305 
Material, choice of, 5,340; choice 

conditioned, 5; how to get, 6; how 

organize, 338; how recognize at a 

glance, 28; for short story. 303 
"Matter of Mean Elevation, A," 326 
Maupassant, G. de, 141, 305, 306; 

307-313, 314, 317, 322, 334 
McElween, John C., 263 
Mechanical features of writing, rule 

for, 39 

Meredith, George, 67, 155, 273 
Merim'e, Prosper, 141 
Merrick, Leonard, 305 
"Merry Men, The," 141, 321 
Metaphor, 256f., 263 
Meter, 398ff.; names of, 400, 401; 

stanzaic forms, 401, 407, 408, 409 
Metonomy, 256f., 263 
"Middle Toe of the Right Foot, 

The," 305 
Middlemarch, 157 
Mill on the Floss, The, 157 
Milton, John, 364, 370, 371, 373 
Minneapolis Journal, 300 
Minstrelsy of Isis, 29 
"Miracle of Purun Bhagat, The," 

141, 188 
Models, conditions in use of, 279f.; 

intelligent use of, 278 
Modification, 64-71 
Modifiers, 64-71; adjective, 68ff.; 

adverbial, 68-71; essential, 69f., 

86f.; non-essential, 69f., 87, 92; 

rule for, 64; use of, 66; well 

chosen, 65 

Montague, Lady Mary Wortley, 388 
Montaigne, Michel de, 351, 379 
Moody, William Vaughan, 19, 402 
More, Sir Thomas, 361 
Morris, William, 407 
Morrison, Arthur, 322 
Muir, John, 352f. 
"Municipal Report, A," 326 
Muse in Arms, The, 19 

Narration, 142-157; causes of in- 
effectiveness in, 151; combined 
with description, 185-188; nar- 
rative devices, 151; elimination of 
unsuitable material, 143f.; elim- 
ination, methods of, 151; essentials 
of good narrative, 145; limitation 
of material, 142-146; plot, 153- 
157; principle of, 142; processes 
in, 143; scale of treatment, 147- 

Nation, The, 63, 339 

Natural Law in the Spiritual World, 

Nature in Doicnland, 163 

Nature study, 351-354 

"Necklace, The," 141, 305 

Negation, adverbs of, 467f. 

Newcomes, The, 157 

New England Nun, A, 305 

Newman, H. J. (Cardinal), 116 

New Republic, The, 63, 339 

Newspaper, the ideal, 282; ideal 
man, 282 

"Newspaper Story, A," 326 

Newspaper work, 282-302; ed- 
itorials, 299f.; feature stories, 
289ff.; "follow up" stories, 296f.; 
general principles, 285ff.; "human 
interest" stories, 292-296; news, 
282f.; new sources of, 283; news 
stories, 288f.; news stories, body 
of, 286; news story, lead, 286; 
news story, rules for, 285ff.; "re- 
write stories," 296f.; Sunday ed- 
ition, 298 

Neic York Times Current History, 232 

New York Times Index, 232 

"Night Mail, The," 305 

Norris, Frank, 170f, 180 

Note, card, 421; informal, 416 

Note taking, 25, 420 

Notes, class, 422f.; library, 420ff. 

North American Review, 63 

Octave, 408 
0/-phrase, 466 



Old Wives' Tale, The, 157 

Onomatopoeia, 263 

Order, of climax, 104, 125ff., 128; 
of logical relation, 124; place, 124; 
time, 124; of sentences in par- 
agraph, 123ff. 

Organization, of paragraph, 118,123; 
of sentence, 57-63; rule for, of sen- 
tence, 61f.; of thought, 57f. 

Orgeas and Miradou, 325 

Osborn, The Muse in Arms, 19 

Other, 470 

Ottava rima, 401, 407 

Outline, 119f., 335-339; fill in, 123; 
making an, 343; mechanical points 
in, 338; model, 337; of short 
paper, 335-339; suggestions for, 

Outlines, 119f., 146, 148, 198f., 201, 
210, 211, 212 

Outlook, The, 63, 339 

Oxford, 29 

Oxford and Its Colleges, 29 

Oxford and Oxford Life, 29 

Palmer, G. H., 8 

Papers, suggested subjects for term, 

Paragraph, the, 118-137; develop- 
ment of, 124-132; external organ- 
ization, 118ff.; internal organiza- 
tion, 123-132; length, 121f.; 
mark, 122; organization of 
thought, 118; structural devices, 
132-137; transition, 152 

Paragraphing, conversation, 122; 
effective, 125 

Parallelism, aid to clearness, 103; 
balanced sentence, type of, 104; 
basic principle of compound sen- 
tence, 76; rule for, 103 

Paraphrase, 189, 204f.; and am- 
plification, 204f. 

Parenthesis, marks of, 454f. 

Participle, 103, 468; repeated, 103 

Paston Letters, 233, 388 

Pater, Walter. 265 

"Penance," 326 

Penmanship, 419 

Period, 44, 446 

Periodic sentence, 99 

Persuasion, 246ff.; aims, 247; au- 
dience, 247f.; introduction, 247; 
underlying principle, 246 

Persuasion, 157 

Petrie, W. M. Flinders, 233 

Phrase, adjective, place of, 93; ad- 
jective, punctuation of series of, 
70; choice between, and clause, 
94; essential modifier, 92; non- 
essential modifier, 92; of, 466 

Phrases, 90-96, 262f.; adjective, 93; 
adverbial, 70; to be avoided, 262; 
close weaving of, 91f.; importance 
of, 90f.; overworked, 494; placed 
for emphasis, 92; punctuation of, 
95; rule for, 262; transitional, 68 

"Piece of String, The," 306, SOT- 
SIS, 314, 317, 322, 334 

"Pit and the Pendulum, The," 261 

Pitt-Rivers, A. H. L. F., 233 

Plagiarism, 279 

Plan, in description, 182-185; in 
short paper, 335-340 

Play, 328-334; Act, one, 331ff.; 
climax, 330; conclusion, 330; 
dialogue, in, 332; fall, 330; in- 
troduction, 329; plot, 329; pur- 
pose and process, 328; rise of ac- 
tion, 329; setting, 332; suspense, 
final, 330 

"Pleasing Everybody," 326 

Plot, 153-157, 306, 313; comedy, 
156; complication, 313; essence of, 
154; suspense in, 156; tragic, 156; 
unification of, 306 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 141, 261, 305, 402 

Point of view, 170-173, 314f.; deter- 
mined by material, 315 

Pooles Index, 232 

Pope, Alexander, 401 

Possessive case, 466 

Predicate, 53ff.; complement, 55, 
463; verb, 54 



Predication, 53-56, 459 

Premise, 237f. 

Preposition repeated, 103 

Prepositions, 474 

Pride and Prejudice, 157, 373 

Process and purpose, distinguished, 

Pronoun, appositive, 464; near an- 
tecedent, 101; antecedent un- 
mistakable, 102; antecedent def- 
initely expressed, 102; case, 463; 
in clauses, 464f.; demonstrative, 
134; indefinite, 463; number, 462; 
object, 464; personal, 134; prin- 
ciple underlying proper use of, 101 ; 
relative, 83, 134; relative omission 
of, 465; relative, for subordina- 
tion, 83; shifting of, 465 

Pronunciation, 442-445; errors in, 
443; list of flagrant errors in, 

Propaganda paper or speech, 335- 
365; argument, 365 

Prose, 277 

Punctuation, 67-95, 445-455; of 
blended adjective modifiers, 69; 
of adjectives connected by con- 
junctions, 70; of adjective mod- 
ifiers, essential, 69; of adjective 
modifiers, non-essential, 69, 87; 
of adjective phrases, series of, 70; 
of adverbial clauses, non-essential, 
87; of adverbial phrases, essential, 
70; of adverbial phrases, non- 
essential, 70; of adverbial phrases, 
series of, 71 ; of adverbs qualifying 
predication, 68; adverbs, series of, 
71; of appositive, 69, 86; inter- 
jection, 68, 447f.; marks, end, 76; 
marks, interior, 76; marks, va- 
riable and invariable, 44f.; origin 
of errors in, 67; of phrases, dis- 
tributed, 945; of phrases movable, 
95; of phrases, transitional, 68; 
printer's device, 43; of sentence, 
67-95; of simple sentence, 71 

"Purloined Letter, The," 305 

Purpose and process, distinguished, 

Pygmalion, 258 

Quatrain, 409 

Questions, direct, indirect, and 

rhetorical, punctuation of, 44, 80, 

Quotation marks, uses of, 44. 102, 

135, 279, 453f. 
Quoting, for indebtedness, 279; in 

notes, 421 

Radiation, of words, 258 

Read, how to, 6ff. 

Readers Guide, The, 23, 29, 232, 364, 

Reading, 4-8; aloud, 11-19, 107; 
aloud, difficulties in, mechanical, 
13f.; aloud, difficulties over-come, 
14; aloud, rhythm discovered 
by, 12; aloud, tone color and 
rhythm realized by, 11; aloud, 
test of quality in writing, 12; 
browsing process in, 27; how long 
continued, 29; with imagination, 
7; for information, 25f.; for par- 
ticular fact, 26; perfect, 25; by 
phrases, 27; vicarious living, 7; 
vitalized, 7 

Reasoning, 233-246; by analogy, 
243f.; deduction, 237-240; hints 
for, 239; errors in, 235, 238f.; in- 
ductive, 233-236; inductive and 
deductive, 24 Iff.; processes, 234 

Reference, words, 134 

References, forms of, 414 

Refutation, 253 

Relation, order by, 124 

Relationship, expressed by clause or 
phrase, 94 

Relative, adverb, 83; pronoun, 134; 
omission of relative, 465; pro- 
noun for subordination, 83 

Repetition, 97f.; for clearness, 472; 
principles of, 34f . 

Report, formal, 344 



Research, 381-385; argument in, 

381 ; attitude in, 381 ; bibliography. 

382; presentation of proofs, 383f.; 

principal stages, 381 
"Revolt of 'Mother,' The," 305, 326 
"Rewrite" and "Follow-up" 

stories, 296 

Rhyme royale, 401. 407 
Rickert, Edith, 184 
Riders to the Sea, 333 
"Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," 138 
"Rip Van Winkle," 305 
Roberts, C. G. D., 354 
Robertson, Morgan, 305, 321 
Robinson Crusoe, 126f., 141 
Rosalind, 325 
Rossetti, Christina, 409 
Ruskin, John, 12, 265 

Said, use of, 324 

Saturday Evening Post, The, 339 

Scale of Treatment, how determined, 
147; use of outlines, 148; use of 
abstracts, 150 

Scott, Sir Walter, 155, 157. 401. 402, 

Scottish Chiefs, 373 

Scribner's Magazine, 63, 354 

Seeger, Alan, 19 

Self-Cultivation in English, 8 

Semicolon, uses of, 80, 448 

Sense appeal in description, 159 

Sentence, art of constructing, 112; 
clearness, 100-105; compactness, 
96-100; compound elements, 72; 
content, 60; economy, 264; eu- 
phony and rhythm, 107; function, 
53; life of, 55; modification of, 64; 
organization of, 57-63; predica- 
tion, 53; subject of, 53; unity, how 
secured, 57, 58. See also Balanced 
Sentence, Complex, Compound, 
Compound-Complex, Elliptical, Ex- 
clamatory, Loose, Periodic, Simple, 
Topic, Well-built 

Sentence faults, 459ff . 

Sentence length, 60; determined by 

emphasis, 60f.; by relief, 61; by 
rhythm, 61 

Sentences for correction, 475ff. 

Sentimental Tommie, 259 

Sequence of facts, assimilation of, 27 

Series, punctuation, of, 72f., 449 

Sestet, 408 

Setting, in fiction, 320; rule in short 
story, 321 

Shadow of the Glen, The, 333 

Shakespeare, William, 232, 245, 366. 
409. 410 

Sharp, D. L., 354 

Shaw, George Bernard, 258, 279, 332. 
334, 369, 445 

Shelley, P. B., 407 

Shall and will, summary of rules, 

"Ship that Found Herself, The," 321 

Short story, beginning, 305; char- 
acters, 316; characteristics and 
sources, 303; development, 305; 
dialogue, 322; materials, 303; 
point of view, 314; setting, 320f.; 
sources of plots, 304; titles, 325 

Short paper, plan of, 335; varieties 
of, 335, 340, 350, 351, 357-362 

Silas Marner, 157 

"Silent Infare, The," 325 

Silver Box, The, 332 

Simile, 263 

Simple sentence, 56 

"Sir Patrick Spence," 404ff. 

"Sire de Maletroit's Door, The," 
139, 305 

So, 471 

So-type of sentence, 84f. 

" Sociology in Serge and Straw," 326 

Soldiers Three, 204 

Sonnet, 401, 408 

Spectator, The, 351, 354 

Speech, improvement of, 14ff., 442- 

Spelling, can be learned, 40; de- 
pends on observation, 41; exer- 
cises, 434-438; general rules, 431- 
434; methods of learning, 41-42 



Spelling out and abbreviation, 442 

Spenser, Edmund, 407 

Spenserian stanza, 401, 407, 408 

"Spires of Oxford, The," 17f. 

"Spring Running, The," 188 

Stanza forms, 407 

Statesman's Year Book, 232 

Steele, Sir Richard, 350, 388 

Stevenson, Robert Louis, 13, 64, 67, 
72. 74, 77, 79, 88, 89, 91. 98. 99. 
108, 110, 116, 134, 139, 141, 157, 
264, 267, 279, 305, 314. 321, 325, 
350, 351, 387f. 

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. 
Hyde, The, 325 

Strickland, Agnes, 146 

"Strictly Business," 326 

Structural devices, 132; purpose of, 

Structure and Growth of the English 
Language, 265 

Stubbs, William, 146 

Subject, finding and forming, 381ff. 

Subject of sentence, 53 

Subject and predicate, 460ff. 

Subjects for term papers, 384 

Subordinate clauses, arrangement, 
88; functions, 86; number, 85; 
punctuation, 71, 86 

Subordination, methods of, 83f. 

Substantive clause, in apposition, 
punctuation of, 86 

"Suicides in the Rue Sombre, The," 

"Suite Homes and Their Ro- 
mances," 326 

Sunday editions, 298 

"Supers," 326 

Suspense, in plot, 156; result of def- 
inite devices, 155 

Swift, Jonathan, 141, 269f. 

Swinburne, A. C., 12, 399 

Syllogism, 237f.; value of, 240 

Synecdoche, 256f. 

Synge, J. M., 324, 333, 334 

Synonyms, as structural device, 

Taine, H. A., 30, 233 

Tale of Two Cities, A. 141, 373 

Toiler, The, 351, 354 

"T. B.," 326 

"Tell-Tale Heart, The," 141 

Tennyson, Alfred Lord, 245, 398, 

399, 400 

Tense agreement, 460 
Tess of the Z>' Urbervilles, 157 
Thackeray, W. M., 141, 155, 157 
That, 471 

That and which, 466 
Theme, use of, 3 
"Theory and the Hound, The," 141, 


"They," 141, 305, 326 
Thomas, Edward, Oxford, 29 
Thompson, A. H., Cambridge and 

Its Colleges, 29 

Thought relations between sen- 
tences, methods of indicating, 

Through the Looking-Glass, 269 
"Time Machine, The," 305 
Time order, as basis of narrative, 1 24 
Tolstoi, Count L., 157 
Tone-color, 11 
"Toomai of the Elephants," 139, 


Topic sentence, 123; position of, 124 
"Tragedy of a Comic Song, The," 


Tragic plot, 156 

Traill, H. D., Social England, 146 
Transition methods, 152 
Transitional words, phrases, and 

clauses, punctuation of, 68 
Treasure Island, 141, 157 
Troilus and Cressida, 407 
Twelve Pound Look, The, 325 
Two sides, in argument, 223 
Types of writing, fundamental dis- 
tinctions, 277 

Under the Greenwood Tree, 139, 157, 

169, 179, 261 
"Unfinished Story, An," 305 



UniBcation of plot, 306 

Unifying principle, in description, 

Unity, of sentence, how to secure, 


Unpopular Review, The, 63, 339 
Usage, books on, 48 

Vanity Fair, 141, 157 
"Venus of Hie, The," 141 
Verb, nature and functions, 54 
Verbs, List of Troublesome, 457f. 
Verbs, series of, punctuation, 72ff. 
Verse, 277, 398ff.; method of quot- 
ing, 415 

Verse, Uank, 400 
Vocatives, punctuation of, 68, 448 
Voice, 460 
Voice production, 15f. 

Walpole, Horace, 388 

Walton, Isaac, 379 

War and Peace, 157 

Washington, George, Letters of, 233 

"Weaver Who Clad the Summer, 

The," 326 

Well-built sentence, 96, 107 
Wells, H. G., 5, 67, 217, 367, 368 
Wells, J., Oxford and Its Colleges, 26 
Wharton, Mrs. Edith, 216, 217, 305, 


Wheeler, Fifes and Drums, 19 
"While the Auto Waits," 326 

Whitaker's Almanac, 432 

Whittier, John Greenleaf, 402 

Who's Who, 232 

Who's Who in America, 232 

"Whose Dog ?" 326 

Wilkins-Freeman, Mary E., 319 

"Wireless," 305 

Word lists: differences in meaning, 
487; spelling lists, 435-438 

Words and Their Ways, 265 

Words, birth of, 255; change and 
growth of, 256; history of, 258; 
importance of, 259; mastery of, 
31; processes of growth, 258; 
sources for writer, 259; stimula- 
tive power, 260; transitional, 68; 
values of, 255; variation in values, 
259; vital force of, 30 

Wordsworth, William, 377-379, 400 

World Almanac, 232 

Writing, art of, 48; fundamental 
purpose, 138; good form, 412-420; 
initial problem, 4f.; purpose and 
process, distinguished, 138; read- 
ing and, 3 

Xingu, 305, 326 

Year Book, Stateman's, 232 
"Years, The," 305 
Yeats, W. B., 19 
Youth, 305, 363 
Youth's Encounter, 29 


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