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HENRY ADELBERT WHITE
WALLACE PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AND PUBLIC SPEAKING
WASHINGTON AND JEFFERSON COLLEGE
D. C. HEATH AND CO., PUBLISHERS
Enolish hahr 11-16-23 939
TO TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
BEFORE we begin to use another text, let us answer the pertinent question, Why a new book on the study and writing of English? Little is to be added to the theory of composition; for the simple rules of writing, since the times of Aristotle, have been expounded by many generations of competent scholars.
Still criticism persists. Those who teach, and some of those who receive instruction, are often confronted by the charge that we do not secure the right results. Practical men, in office and counting house, assert that our schools and colleges are failing to graduate either logical reasoners or ready writers. Nor can we hope to answer, or to refute, some of many criticisms before we have studied all the problems seriously. Complaints seem to increase. Hence the growing number of school books that once again restate the rules that were discovered by old rhetoricians. Are we not all trying to render a genuine service to the nation and to those individuals who come under our influence? For a number of years the writer of this text has been trying to divest the study of English composition and literature of much that ordinary pupils find either impractical or superfluous.
The book you are to study contains the results of this effort. Nothing revolutionary is claimed for it. One principle is stressed throughout: We acquire a good English style by observation and by practice. Our native literature is the foundation on which we shall build. That the study of our finest English authors should be made a part of every curriculum the schools and colleges have long realized. More of late, however, a new emphasis is being laid upon two elements; and these in the past have often been slighted. First, a working knowledge of grammar is now regarded as absolutely essential. Second, books on the history of literature, and the biography of single authors, are now giving way to the reading, more intensively, of good literature itself. Literary history now defers to literary study.
To attain an individual style, we find, therefore, three main elements are combined: 1. Information as to the correct grammatical and rhetorical laws.