Slike strani

for writing with care; and, fourth, because, when employed with discretion, it lightens the teacher's burden without impairing his efficiency.

The fact that writing is only one of several processes involved in composition, is everywhere kept in mind. Due emphasis, it is hoped, has therefore been put on the gathering and organizing of material, on the revision of manuscript, and on the necessity of having a definite audience for the finished composition. In other words, an effort has been made to render the exercises vital.

The quotation at the head of each chapter and the poem at the end are placed there for the purpose of emphasizing the fact that the will and the imagination are indispensable aids to high success. Indeed, the books have all been written on the theory that great practical achievement never has been and never will be divorced from those brave translunary things which we call imagination, inspiration, and idealism.





"Of all those arts in which the wise excel
Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well."

I. Introduction

COMPOSITION is the art of putting ideas together in words so that the words, whether oral or written, will make an impression on somebody. Whenever you write or speak you compose. Whenever you compose you aim to cause somebody to think, to feel, or to act. Composition is, therefore, the most practical of all studies. Some people can go through life with a fair degree of credit and yet be profoundly ignorant of mathematics, science, history, and shorthand; but the person who cannot write and speak fluently and correctly is at once set down as ignorant and inefficient. The reason for this is noteworthy. Relatively few persons need to be experts in science and mathematics; everybody has ⚫to speak and write. The result is that, while ignorance of chemistry or trigonometry is seldom discovered, a lack of skill in composition is instantly detected and punished. It is punished by that loss of the power to influence other people which is its inevitable consequence. Remember, therefore, that composition is the most practical of all subjects, because in studying composition you are acquiring an art which you will have

occasion to practice every day and all day throughout your life.

II. Nature of Composition

From the definition of composition you will perceive that, in order to compose, you must have something to say and somebody to whom to say it. This really means that composition consists usually of three


I. Gathering material, or getting something to say. II. Putting this material together, which involves: (1) Arranging it; (2) Oral discussion or oral composition; (3) Writing; (4) Revision.

III. Publication, which includes the presentation of the finished product to an audience and the reaction of that audience.

In other words, the student of composition must not make the mistake of thinking that composition is merely writing. There are seven steps in composition: (1) Gathering material; (2) Arranging material; (3) Oral composition; (4) Writing; (5) Revision; (6) Publication; (7) The Reaction (that is, Approval or Disapproval). Writing is therefore only one of the seven processes that compose composition. In relation to the composition as a whole it stands in importance about as a postage stamp stands in size to the envelope which it carries.

A concrete example will make this clearer. We will take the case of a book with which most boys and girls of fourteen are familiar. We will take Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome. From boyhood Macaulay studied Roman history and read Roman poetry. In this way he gathered a great mass of material. This was Step 1. While he was still a small boy, Macaulay read

« PrejšnjaNaprej »