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Romans had a good maxim, Festina lente. Haste makes waste. Hurry is the mother of delay. Do your work carefully. Then you will not have to do it over.1
1 Most printing offices have what are called style books or form sheets. In these minute directions are laid down for the instruction of authors, compositors, and proof-readers on such matters as punctuation, capitalization, the use of abbreviations, spelling, etc. It is desirable that every school also have its style book or form sheet. The Handbook of Style in use at The Riverside Press, which may be procured for 50 cents from Houghton Mifflin Company, is an admirable one. Frequently the editor of a local newspaper is glad to help a school by furnishing copies of his form sheet.
LETTERS OF FRIENDSHIP YOUR DAY
"The gods look with favor on superior courage."
WRITE a letter describing the manner in which you ordinarily spend each day.
Robert Louis Stevenson to Sidney Colvin 1
MY DEAR COLVIN:
608 BUSH ST., SAN FRANCISCO,
January 10, 1880.
This is a circular letter to tell my estate fully. You have no right to it, being the worst of correspondents, but I wish to efface the impression of my last, so to you it goes.
Any time between eight and half-past nine in the morning a slender gentleman in an ulster, with a volume buttoned into the breast of it, may be observed leaving No. 608 Bush and descending Powell with an active step. The gentleman is R. L. S.; the volume relates to Benjamin Franklin, on whom he meditates one of his charming essays. He descends in Sixth on a branch of the original Pine Street Coffee House, no less; I believe he would be capable of going to the original itself, if he could only find it. In the branch he seats himself at a table covered with waxcloth, and a pampered menial, of High Dutch extraction, and, indeed, as yet only partially' extracted, lays before him a roll, a pat of butter, and a cup of coffee, all, to quote the deity, very good. A while ago, and R. L. S. used to find the supply of butter insufficient; but he
1 From Letters and Miscellanies of Robert Louis Stevenson. Seiected and edited by Sidney Colvin, vol. 1, p. 108. By permission of Charles Scribner's Sons.
has now learned the art to exactitude, and butter and roll expire at the same moment. For this refection, he pays ten cents, or five pence sterling.
Half an hour later the inhabitants of Bush Street observe the same slender gentleman armed, like George Washington, with his little hatchet, splitting kindling, and breaking coal for his fire. He does this quasi-publicly upon the window-sill; but this is not to be attributed to any love of notoriety, though he is indeed proud of his prowess with the hatchet (which he persists in calling an axe) and daily surprised at the perpetuity of his fingers. The reason is this: that the sill is a strong supporting beam, and that blows of the same emphasis in other parts of his room might knock the entire shanty into hell. Thenceforth, for from three to four hours, he is engaged darkly with an ink-bottle.
His next appearance is at the restaurant of one Donadieu in Bush Street, between Dupont and Kearney, where a copious meal may be procured for the sum of four bits, alias fifty cents, i.e., 2s. 2d. sterling. He is again armed with a book, but his best friends will observe with pain that he seems at this hour to have deserted the more serious studies of the morning. When last observed, he was studying with apparent zest the exploits of one Rocambole by the late Vicomte Ponson du Terrail.
Then the being walks; where, it is not certain. But by about half-past four a light beams from the window of 608 Bush, and he may be observed sometimes engaged in correspondence, sometimes again plunged in the mysterious rites of the forenoon. About six he returns to the Branch Original, where he once more imbrues himself to the worth of fivepence in coffee and roll. The evening is devoted to writing and reading, and, by eleven or half past, darkness closes over this weird and truculent existence.
Wednesday - Dictation, Notes, and Queries.
(a) Biography of Robert Louis Stevenson.
(b) Treasure Island.
(c) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
(e) Recitation. (One of Stevenson's poems.) (f) The Wrecker.
(g) Critical Essay. (His Place in Literature.)
Oral Composition. Letters by pupils about their own days, to be read and criticized.
(a) Written Composition. Letters read on Monday to be corrected and handed to the teacher.
(b) Review of Proof-reading.
(a) Compositions returned.
(b) Discussion of mistakes.
(c) Oral Composition.
Prepared recitation on mistakes. Friday
Program - Reading of best letters and recitation
IV. Notes and Queries
1. Who were Stevenson and Colvin?
2. What is a circular letter?
3. Be sure that you understand every word. 4. Look up the derivation of ulster.
5. What is the subject of each paragraph?
6. Point out the "Four W's" of each paragraph. 7. Tell whether each sentence is simple, complex, or compound.
8. Write an essay of one hundred words on Benjamin Franklin.
9. Observe that Stevenson uses concrete terms. Instead of "breakfast," he says "coffee, a roll, and a pat of butter." Which expression is more vivid?
Out of the night that covers me,
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.