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COMPOSITION is the art of formirig ideas, and expressing them in lan guage. Its most obvious divisions, with respect to the nature of its subjects, are the Narrative, the Descriptive, the Didactic, the Persuasive, the Pathetic, and the Argumentative. With regard to its form or style, it may be considered as concise or diffuse, as nervous or feeble, as dry, plain, neat, elegant or flowery, as simple, or affected, as cold or vehement, as barren or luxuriant.; and its essential requisites are clearness, unity, strength and harmony. As it is strictly a mental effort, its foundation must be laid in a disciplined and cultivated mind, in the exercise of vigorous thought, on reading and observation, and an attentive study of the meaning and the force of language. The proper preparation for its suc cessful performance should be laid in a diligent attention to the rules of grammar, a thorough knowledge of the principles of rhetoric, and a suc. cessful application of the maxims of logic; for logic must direct us in whe selection of ideas, rhetoric must clothe them in a suitable dress, and grammar must adapt the dress to the peculiar form of the idea. In the following pages an attempt is made gradually to introduce the student to the several departments of English composition by examples and exercises, with such observations and illustrations as may appear to be necessary for an intelligent comprehension of its rules and principles. The early lessons are simple and easily performed, but, in the course of the work, suggestions will be found, which, it is thought, will be useful to those by whom composition is not regarded as a task.
Of the importance of attention to the subject of composition thus much may be said; that there are few individuals, in any station of life, to whom ease and fluency in writing are not valuable acquisitions. Ali who are engaged in professional or commercial pursuits, and even the hardier sons of labor, whose “bread is procured by the sweat of their brow," must have correspondence to manage, or written statements to furnish, requiring at once accuracy and despatch; and therefore the facility which practice alone can impart, in the arrangement of their thoughts, and a ready and correct expression of them, is an attainment exceedingly desirable. In the language of a late transatlantic writer. then, it may boldly be asserted, that "No acquirement can equal that of composition in giving a power over the material of thought, and an apt.
ness in all matters of arrangement, of inquest, and of argumentation." " Writing," says Lord Bacon, “makes a correct man;" and the author of the Essay on Criticism asserts, that
“True grace in writing comes from art, not chance,
As they move easiest who have learnt to dance."
“ He that begins with the calf,” says Mr. Locke, “may carry the ox, but he, that will go at first to take the ox, may so disable himself as not to be able to take the calf after that.” On the same principle, it is recommended that an attention to the subject of composition should be com menced early in life. Exercises of a simple cha, acter prepare the mind for higher exertion; and readiness and facility in the lower departments of writing enable the student to apply himself without reluctance to those mightier efforts by which the progress of intellectual culture is most rapidly advanced.
The words of Horace may here be recommended to particular attention :
"Sumite materiam qui scribitis æquam
Or, in the translation of Mr. Francis :
"Examine well, ye writers, weigh with care,
What suits your gonius, what your strength will bang2.
OBJECTS AND THEIR PARTS. The first step to be taken in writing composition is to obtain ideas. The second is the proper expression of the idea when obtained. To acquire ideas, it is necessary to cultivate habits of observation ; to use the eyes not only in noticing entire objects, but also their different parts; to consider their qualities, uses, operations, and effects; together with their relation to other things. The mind employed in such processes acquires materials for its own operations, and thoughts and ideas arise as it were spontaneously.
For the first exercise in composition, therefore, it is proposed that the student be required to enumerate the parts of some visible object, according to the following
Its parts are
The fire places,
The mantel, The rooms,
The chimney, The ceiling, The closets, The walls, The kitchen,
The parlors or
drawing rooms The wash room, The bathing room, The inner doors, The wood shed, The out buildings.
In a similar manner enumerate the parts of the following objects.
OBJECTS, THEIR QUALITIES AND USES.
The parts of a visible object having been noticed, the next step to be taken is the enumeration of its qualities and uses according to the following
GLASS: It is hard, inodorous, insoluble, solid,
colorless, dry, smooth, heavy,
fusible, bright uninflammable, thick or thin, transparent, durable,
Its uses :
for windows to admit light: For spectacles to assist sight:
For useful vessels, such as tumblers, pitchers, decanters, wine-glasses, jelly-glasses, bottles, phials, inkstands, lamps, and lamp-glasses, chandeliers, handles of doors and drawers vases, cups, and ornaments, such as beads, drops, prisms,
In the same manner enumerate the qualities of the following objects.
OBJECTS, THEIR PARTS, QUALITIES. PROPERTIES, USES
The parts, properties, and uses of visible objects having now been considered, the two processes may be united, in tho consideration of the parts, qualities, properties, uses and ap pendages, as in the following
shaft, nib, groove,
outside. Qualities. The quill is transparent, smooth, elastic
round or bright, yellowish, cylindrical, hard, horny,
hollow, glossy, tough. The shaft is opake,
hard, angular, stiff, grooved The pith is white, porous, soft, spongy