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invectives, seldom omitting an epithet of contempt or denunciation which was likely to hit its mark, that he insensibly used more adjectives and expletives than he needed. Perhaps I may afterwards give examples, for Cobbett furnished both useful rules and serviceable models.

I wish the student to observe carefully, not only the shortness of the sentences and the aptness and fewness of the words in these extracts from Chaucer, but also the admirable skill with which they are put together.

In the last paragraph see how much precision of meaning is secured by the placing as well as use of the three words “at several times.” Most writers would have said “several times.” If so, it would have been doubtful whether the lawyer had filled these offices together or separately; the word "at” prevents the doubt; he held them separately as well as sererally. Many would have placed these words at the end of the sentence, and then it would have been doubtful whether he was merely knight of the shire several times, that he several times held all these offices. By placing the words before them ambiguity is obviated. Let this be noted as one of the many features of a good style, namely, to express one's meaning without possibility of misapprehension.

The description of the bounteous board kept by the Franklin is inimitable. "And of these the daintiest;" also,

« Ill befell his cook if the sauce were too pungent,” &c. What racy lively modes of saying what would be trite enough if tamely expressed. No rules can be laid down for these and such like modes of phrase. It requires a lively fancy to excel in this knack of expression. The words are choice, without being far-fetched or pedantic. "There was not his compeer.” How well this sounds, and how much better than his "equal" is the word "compeer." Oftentimes these well chosen words, if they lie a little out of the common track, give great zest to what one writes; they are the condiments of style. The description of the sergeant at law so shrewd and cautious—"a prudent and deferential man,” is also excellently given, and conveys much historical information as well as the description of the individual. The demure and simply smiling Prioress, the Lady Eglantine—by Saint Eloy! how well she may be painted from those few truly graphic words, that so well tell us of her modest virtues and comely graces. These be indeed models of style, the more remarkably excellent because Chaucer had no pattern to imitate; though he has set one to each succeeding generation of imaginative writers, who would be sadly off if bereft of all the aid they have gained from his and many other good old models.

One great cause of confusion in style is that which arises from not sufficiently considering what is the antecedent in a sentence, and what the predicate.

“ Among the innumerable historical authors (writes Johnson in the Rambler) who All every nation with accounts of their ancestors, or undertake to transmit to futurity the events of their own time, the greater part, when fashion and novelty have ceased to recommend them, are of no other use than chronological memorials which necessity may sometimes require to be consulted."

Now “the authors” are the antecedents to "their ancestors," and yet Johnson never meant to say so. He meant those of the nation, but the word “their” does not apply to a noun of multitude such as nation. What arrant nonsense it would be to write “the nation forfeited their right!" The second word “their” does refer to authors, and thus makes the meaning more obscure than before. Then we have the word “ than " as applying to its antecedent “greater part,” which many people would suppose referred to "events, or forwards to the "chronological memorials” which follow after. In fact the words “ of these authors” are needed after “greater part," to shew the reference to them. All this sad confusion would have been avoided by a simplification of the sentence, thus :

The greater part of the authors' works which fill a nation with accounts of its ancestors, or record the events of the time in which they were written, are of no other use, when fashion and novelty have ceased to recommend them, than that of chronological memorials which it may

be necessary to consult."

At least I guess this to have been Johnson's meaning.
Here is another bad sentence, also from Johnson :-

“I asked the question with no other intention than to set the gentleman free from the necessity of silence, and give him an opportunity of mingling on equal terms with a polite assembly, from which, however uneasy, he could not then escape, by a kind introduction of the only subject on which I believed him to be able to speak with propriety.” Cobbett

says of this :-"This is a very bad sentence altogether. "However uneasy' applies to assembly and not to gentleman. Only observe how easily this might have been avoided. •From which he, however uneasy, could not then escape.'

After this we have ‘he could not then escape, by a kind introduction. We know what is meant, but the Doctor, with all his commas, leaves the sentence confused. Let us see whether we cannot make it clear:

*I asked the question with no other intention than, by a kind introduction of the only subject on which I believed him to be able to speak with propriety, to set the gentleman free from the necessity of silence, and to give him an opportunity of mingling on equal terms with a polite assembly, from which he, however uneasy, could not then escape.'

Let us see if we cannot improve on this improvement by simply transposing the different parts of the sentence; for though Cobbett has now rescued it from ambiguity, he leaves it still awkwardly worded; and it is seldom desirable to place the antecedent after its pronoun: the pronoun ‘him' precedes the antecedent 'gentleman.' Sometimes this is an elegant mode of inversion, but here it has the bad effect of increasing the difficulty of making clear one of Johnson's lengthy sentences. In the first place the pleonasm of “no other intention" should be abscinded. Everything that need be expressed may be thus worded :-"I asked the question solely in order to introduce the only subject on which I believed the gentleman able to speak with propriety, and to enable him to converse on equal terms with a polite assembly, from which he could not then escape; however uneasy he might be."

It is the absurd use of the word “mingle" instead of converse, as is really meant, which requires the preceding verbiage about being released from the necessity of silence. The poor gentleman needed not to be helped to mingle, but to be helped to talk. It is always best to place a distinct branch of the sentence, though subordinate to the rest, after the material parts. Thus I have avoided putting in “however uneasy” parenthetically. I prefer, even though it costs three more words, to place it by itself at the end, so as to stand like a separate sentence. The more we cut up

what we write into distinct sentences the better. Where it is impossible to get rid of a long sentence, the next best rule is to divide it, so as to make it approach to distinct sentences. It will be often found that these subordinate


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appendages may be dispensed with altogether. Were I not bound to express in the above example all that the great lexicographer meant to say, I should certainly omit the above appended sentence; for if the unhappy gentleman could not escape from the assembly in which he seems to have been imprisoned, what need is there to say that he could not, though he

uneasy." There seems just as much and no more occasion to say that he could not escape though sick, though sleepy, though ashamed, though alarmed, &c. &c. All these provocatives to escape are already barred by the allegation that he could not escape. Major in se minus continet. If there be no sense in this wordiness there is still less grace; the words appended injure the euphony of the sentence and certainly do not increase its force. If we omit those last five words, I think I may safely say that I have more plainly expressed in forty-four words what Johnson originally wrote in sixty-two, and Cobbett certainly improved in sixty-three.

I do not apologise for this minute criticism. On the contrary I invite and recommend it. I think to do this is certainly to improve our style, and not only to teach us how to detect and abridge our own redundancies, but to attain precision and force in expressing our ideas.

The main reason why people indulge in amplifications is that they have little, not that they have much to say. Redundant foliage usefully conceals scanty fruit. Here is a precious sample of verbal chaff, not very successfully concealing the paucity of grains :

“In the eternal chemistry of being and of circumstance history is evolved. Outward phenomenal reality and inward conscious thought here meet together, become fused into one, and result in a new fact. Time, the arch experimenter, is continually varying the conditions in which these, the chief co-efficients in human life are brought into relation with each other; and hence that series of actions and reactions—the collective pbenomena of which we call history-is undergoing ceascless change. The events of to-day affect the events of to-morrow, and the undulations of the influences of the past work for ever onward into the future. The act intended and accomplished generates other purposes, and affects, in multiplex modes, the course and issue of other events. No thought is ever investured in one final, permanent, conclusive act. Each gives an impulse and a tendency to a wide scheme of consequences and contingencics," &c. &c. &c.

That is to say—if we may presume to reduce this superlatively beautiful writing and about a page more of it into three words—causes produce effects. Thus as a gifted contemporary aptly remarks in its review of this astounding essay—" voluminous merit is seldom intense.” Here again is a passage from the same author in which the sense is so utterly bewildered by words that I have not the slightest notion what it means, more than that man is affected by circumstances and that he also affects them,-a somewhat self-evident truism :

“From the crowding, dizzying, stupendous multiplicity of external phenomena, whose influences affect him on every point, man elaborates the beautiful orderliness of purpose; from the chaos of, impressions which the various environments of his being originate in him, he derives incentives to action, and from

The sights the sounds, the struggle, and the strife

Of hourly being,' he aequires the hardihood which, under the guidance of a wisely enthusiastic zeal enables him, with cumulative persistency, to subdue obdurate circumstances, and to Fork out his ideas into act, fact, reality!!"

Let all persons desirous of cultivating a good style cherish such jargon as this, and set it up as a beacon of avoidance. Every man of good sense shudders at such stilted bombast, and turns in disgust from any

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author who does his ideas, if he has any, the cruel injustice of clothing them in such tawdry garb. This love of fine writing often induces men insensibly into the grossest errors. Excempli gratid :

“Thought is life, and history is its flower and fruit. In all the great crises of history we find the affluent inspiration of a new idea pouring invigorative energy into lifeunseen spiritual thought becoming operant in changing the credence of the world, and determining the outward and actual ongoings of the period.” So far from it, the "great crises of history" have been mainly wrought by rebellions, conquests, and the fiercest excesses of carnal passions, and have been about as little brought to pass by “spiritual thought,” as are the phases of the moon, or the libations of Hodge the ploughman. Fine writing and a stilted style are snares even to deep thinkers; but they are sure pitfalls to feeble minds.

Swift and Thackeray are the best models I can suggest of the reverse. They both excel in the power of simple writing. Each expresses what he means in such an easy manner, that one thinks at first sight any body might have so expressed himself. This arises from the natural mode in which the thoughts flow in familiar words; but it is not so easy thus to write:

ut sibi quivis
Speret idem, sudet multum, frusta que laboret

Ansus idem." It is an excellency which springs from a well disciplined mind, a clear intellect, and in no small degree, an ingenuous nature. Inasmuch as the best specimens of a plain style are fraught, nevertheless, with beauty, and often with wit, and oftener with sprightlinesss of fancy, such perfection is not attainable by rules, nor is it the necessary result of much practice. Still much towards it may be effected, by those who will take the trouble of trying. The best practicable modes I may here repeat are those of endeavouring to imitate the best models, by rewriting passages which we have read over attentively enough to gather the ideas without remembering the words; then by comparing our own compositions with the original, and amending our own. The next lesson is to practice the arrangement and then the expression of ourown thoughts, and thus cultivate composition and style. Great care is requisite in this. Festina lente. Quintilian admirably says—“By writing hastily we shall never learn to write well : it is by writing well that we shall learn to write quickly."

(To be continued.)

INCREASE OF KNOWLEDGE IN SCHOLARS.—Each new idea, and each new piece of knowledge to which the idea leads, are to the schoolboy what the floating weeds and the discovered islands were to Columbus in his voyage of discovery, equally interesting and exciting to the schoolboy in his little world; and the schoolmaster who is up to his work may realize all this. His life will then, instead of being dull, tedious, and monotonous, be agreeable and happy. He will be happy in doing his “duty in that state of life in which it has pleased God to place him," and happy in teaching children, as they grow up to manhood, to do the same.- Effective Primary Instruction.


ERY necessary is it that in giving prizes, as we understand some

Schoolmasters' Associations do, they should avoid the manifest evil of increasing the over instruction of the forward scholars in the first class, to the certain detriment of the rest of the school.

Now if these prizes are to be given to the crack lads and lasses of the flock the present mischievous hot bed system of forcing for

ward intellects will be terribly aided and aggravated. Every teacher knows perfectly which half dozen scholars to cram if he wishes his school to get such a proportion of prizes as will do him most credit. It is but human nature that school teachers should do this.

The result will be most injurious to the general cause and progress of education.

The educational aim of our times is—NOT TO FORCE A FEW SHOW SCHOLARS, or to create precocious prodigies. The nced of the times is to spread useful practical knowledge, evenly and generally among ALL classes of children. Now as regards the poorer and working classes the great mass of these are comparatively ignorant, slow to learn, hard to teach, saxon-skulled children. Small chance have they of prizes: smaller still of the pains which will be diverted from them by this very prize system to the few children who will repay this pains and get prizes, and with prizes laurels for the teacher to crown his brows with.

Now this is a wrong done to the great bulk and body of our young folk. For of what is that body composed ? Clearly not of the clever but of the slow and stolid thoughted with large thews and strong sinews, but scanty brains. Oh! how unjust to these, to make schools designed for the many hotbeds for the few!

The prizes must be given to the lower classes, or they will do infinite mischiet. There should be just as many prizes given to the third and to the second classes as to the first : better still if there were more. Then there should be other prizes given so as to encourage attendance which is a main aid to the teacher's efforts. The Dean of Hereford has seen the necessity of doing this; and has just organised in the city of Hereford this capital “SCIEME FOR THE REGISTRATION OF School CHILDREN."

" It is intended to establish in these Schools a system of registration of all Children who have attended School regularly, and conducted themselves well for a period of two years subsequent to their ninth birthday.

No certificate will be given when the attendance is less than 176 days in the year, but two odd half-days will be allowed to count as one day.

A copy of this registration will be given to the child or parents who may require it, as a certificate of character and a recommendation to employment.

At the end of every additional period of six months' attendance by a child to whom a certificate has been given, the certificate will be added to, and will of course be increased in value as a testimonial.

A similar system has been established in Staffordshire, by Mr. NORRIS, the Inspector of Schools and has been found to work well.

Many of the employers of labour there have promised to give a preference to children holding these certificates of good conduct while at school, and find it their interest to do 80. A little reflection must show that it is of the greatest importance both to parents and children—to employers and employed--that children should feel and learn the value of good conduct in the commencement of life.

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