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IV. If not true; can I state it so as to make it true? if not, can I show that it is untrue ?
V. If true; can I write down any fact or anecdote exemplifying its truth, something that I have read ? heard? known ?
VI. If true ; can 1, by blending together reasoning and fact, produce an essay illustrative of its truth?
The great difficulty with young writers is to find materiais. In consequence, historical subjects are most suited to them. But in historical subjects, mere copying is easy, and hence it is apt to be substituted for original composition. It is, then, dangerous to intrust boys with mere historical subjects. As, however, I write for young men and young women, I shall supply historical subjects; and, in order that the source of information may be accessible to all my scholars, I shall take these subjects, at least at the first, from the Bible. And narrative being the easiest form of composition, I shall begin with supplying you with subjects for short narratives. Here, then, is your first
God made the world. Now this is the method you are to observe. Read carefully, and as often as necessary, the account given in the commencement of the book of Genesis of the creation of the universe. When you have impressed the record on your mind, close the Bible, and, taking slate and pencil, write down as much as possible in your own words, and in simple sentences, the substance of the account. Look over what you have written and correct it. Having corrected it according to the best of your own judgment, compare it with the original. Compare it first in relation to the facts ; if in respect to the facts your report is not correct, make it correct. Compare it next in regard to the spelling, and correct your spelling by the spelling of the Bible. Again compare it as to the words. You have one word, the Bible has another. If your word is positively inaccurate strike it out, and put in its place the scriptural word. But a deviation in word on your part is desirable rather than not, for it shows that you have comprehended the meaning of the passage, and that you possess instead of a mere slavish imitation, a power of reproduction which may in time enable you to write truly original compositions. If, therefore, your word is only somewhat less appropriate than the word in the sacred page, let it stand; but at the same time ask yourself, and endeavour to ascer. tain why your word is less suitable. Should you, as you can hardly fail to do, at least as your mind grows and your taste improves, meet in the Scriptures with forms of expression which seem to you specially happy or specially forcible, transcribe them into a little note-book, kept in the pocket, ever at hand to receive memoranda, or things deserving to be remembered, things requiring explanation, things illustrative of important truth, &c. ; and having transcribed them, look at them from time to time until you have made them permanently your own.
There is what may be called domestic history, out of which you
may draw a constant supply of useful and interesting materials. By domestic history I mean the occurrences and events of your own home, even in their humblest details. Here you may find themes enough. Take as a
My own history during a day. Write down on your slate every minute particular, such as the time you rose, the meals you took, where you took them. the times at which you left the house, where you went to, what you did, whom you met, with whom you conversed, what was said, &c., until the day's duties and pleasures are closed and you retire to your bed. Do not commit the folly of thinking such a subject unworthy of your notice. You are learning to inform yourself, and can begin well only by beginning with that with which you are familiar. If you are poetically inclived you may narrate.
A morning walk. But begin with prose; let rhyme alone for a while; it is very easy to tag together similar sounds. It is good sense and good feeling expressed in correct English that I want to lead you to, and for so important a purpose practice in prose is indispensable.
But whatever your theme is, be very rigid with yourself ; pass no error; correct all mistakes ; be as particular as if you were writing for the press. And having, according to the best of your ability, made your exercise correct, copy it out into an essay-book-a book kept exclusively to receive your attempts at composition ; copy it into the book as neatly and as well in every respect as you can. The attention to neatness, which I recommend, is closely connected with the attainment of accuracy. You will find benefit as well as pleasure in looking back on your earlier efforts, and comparing together your power of execution as it was at different periods.
It may be desirable to show you in an example how an humble theme may be well treated in composition. I take for the purpose one of Pestalozzi's “ Paternal Instructions.” It is on the domestic business of
BAKING. “ Baking, like all cooking, is a fruit of civilisation. The savage knows of no preparation for his food; he eats everything raw, like the brutes; and accordingly he eats it like them, with brutal greediness. A proper diet is possible only when the food is prepared by art. Baking, therefore, and every other sort of cooking is a far more important business than at first sight it appears to be. By baking we procure the most wholesome of all nutriment-that bread which, as a common necessary of life, we daily ask of God in the most comprehensive of all prayers."
It may be useful to beginners to see the same thought expressed in simple propositions,—that is, propositions, or sentences, not having more than one subject and one object.
BAKING.—The same in simple sentences. Baking is a fruit of civilisation. Indeed all cooking is a fruit of civilisation. The savage knows of no preparation for his food.
The savage eats every thing raw. The brutes eat everything raw. The brutes also eat with greediness. With similar greediness does the savage take his food. Art may be employed in preparing food. In a proper diet food is prepared by art. Baking, therefore, is an important business. Indeed cooking in general is an important business. Cooking is thought to be important. Still more important in reality is baking. By baking we procure the most wholesome of all nutriment. By baking we obtain bread. Bread is a common necessary of life. We daily ask bread of God. We ask bread of God in the most comprehensive of all prayers.
SAXON ELEMENT OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. HAVING shown how the constituents of the English language enter into and form simple propositions, I might now speak of sentences in relation to the laws of their constitution, and exhibit the manner in which simple sentences may be expanded into compound sentences, and how compound sentences may be reduced to simple ones. But there is much, very much, to be learnt respecting the subject-matter already set forth. For instance every separate part of speech has to be more minutely investigated. Besides there are general facts which more or less bear on all the constituent elements of speech. These facts must be set forth, and this investigation must be gone through, before we treat of the formation of compound sentences, if only, because in proceeding in this way I shall conduct the learner onward by easier steps.
Before, then, we formally set about building the house, it may be desirable to consider the materials which we shall have to employ, in order that we may become familiar with their qualities and character. Let us then take w.hat is commonly called " The Lord's Prayer,'' and look a little closely into the words of which it is made up
"Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”—Matt. vi. 9-13.
Now at the first glance I see that here there are words of diverse origin. Father I recognise as of Saxon birth; temptation, I know to be a Latin word slightly altered ; and amen is a Hebrew term in English letters. Hence, I am led to see that if I would know my mother-tongue I must study it in relation to the diverse materials which enter into its composition.
You are not yet sufficiently advanced to assign each word in the preceding quotation to the family to which it belongs in the great community of languages. I must, therefore, be satisfied at present with a somewhat rough division of these words into the three classes already indicated, -namely, words of Saxon origin, words of Latin origin, and words derived from other sources. In all, there are in the Lord's Prayer 66 words. Of these 66 only eight are from sources that are not Saxon. More than seven-eighths of
the words in the Lord's Prayer come from the Saxon. You may now judge to what extent the Saxon prevails in the English tongue. Of the eight words that are not Saxon, six are from the Latin, one from the French, and one from the Hebrew, as seen in this view : Latin. French.
glory The one French word might be added to the Latin column for de liver, though it comes into the English directly from the French, is Latin by extractiont. '
This analysis, however, shows that the materials of the English language may be arranged into two great classes ; namely, the Saron and the Latin. These classes have reference to the origin of the words.
Another view may direct our attention to the condition in which the words are. Some of the words are very short, others are somewhat long. Our has only three letters ; kingdom has seven ; and temptation has ten letters. Our is a word of one syllable; kingdom a word of two syllables ; and temptation is a word of three syllables. Observing that all the words are Saxon, except the eight specified above, you will see that the Saxon words for the most part are short words, and words of one syllable. Of words, however, having more than one syllable, two kinds must be noticed. Take, as an instance, father and kingdom. Now father, though consisting of two syllables, is a simple word; while kingdom is a compound word. Hence arises another division. Words, whether of Saxon or of Latin, origin, are either-l, simple; or 2, com. pound.
deliver The two compound words here presented, from the Lord's Prayer, may be resolved into their elements thus : forgive is made up of for and give, in German vergeben; deliver comes originally from de, down, from, and liber, free. Now observe, I do not put down the import of the component parts of forgive, for they are known. Words of Saxon origin are known to every Englishman. But I do assign their signification to the terms which combine to make up deliver, since those terms awaken no corresponding state of mind in the mere English student; and consequently, their equivalents in terms of Saxon origin must be given, In the progress of these lessons, you will be led to study the constituent elements of all our compound words. Here I wish to dwell on the fact, that the vocabulary of the English language con sists generally of words derived --1, from the Saxon ; 2, from the Latin.
In order to possess a full and exact acquaintance with the Saxon treasures of our language, you must study that language historically ; you must study it in its literature; and you must study the AngloSaxon in its productions, and in the laws of its structure. Apart from so prolonged a labour, you may here learn something on the subject, and at any rate acquire information, which, in general, will enable you to distinguish and recognise words which come from a Saxon source. I lay before you some results of the investigations made by the learned on this subject.
The English language consists of about 38,000 words. Of these, about 28,000, or nearly five-eighths are of Anglo-Saxon origin. The majority of the rest are Latin and Greek; of which the former has the larger share. If we look not merely to the number of words, but to their kind, as well as to the share that Anglo-Saxon has had in the formation of our language, we shall see how important is this element of the English tongue.
I. English grammar is almost exclusively occupied with what is of Anglo-Saxon origin. Our chief peculiarities of structure and of idiom are essentially Anglo-Saxon, while almost all the classes of words, which it is the office of grammar to investigate, are derived from that language. What few inflections we have are all AngloSaxon. The English genitive, the general modes of forming the plural of nouns, and the terminations by which we express the comparative and superlative of adjectives, er and est; the inflections of the pronouns; of the second and third persons, present and imperfect of the verbs; of the preterites and participles of the verbs, whether regular or irregular; and the most frequent termination of our adverbs (ly), are all Anglo-Saxon. The nouns, too, derived from Latin and Greek, receive the Anglo-Saxon terminations of the genitive and the plural, while the preterites and participles of verbs derived from the same sources, take the Anglo-Saxon inflections. As to the parts of speech; those which occur most frequently and are individually of most importance, are almost exclusively Saxon. Such are our articles and definitives generally, as an, a, the, this, that, these, those, many, few, some, one, none; the adjectives whose comparatives and superlatives are irregularly formed, and which in every language are amongst the most ancient, comprehensive in meaning, and extensively used; the separate words more and most by which we as often express the forms of compari. son as by distinct terminations; all our pronouns, personal, possessive, relative, and interrogative; nearly every one of our so. called irregular verbs, including all “the auxiliaries” have, be, shall, will, may, can, must; all the adverbs most frequently employed ; and the prepositions and conjunctions almost without exception.
II. The names of the greater part of the objects of sense, in other words, the terms which occur most frequently in discourse, or which recall the most vivid conceptions, are Anglo-Saxon. Thus, for example, the names of the most striking objects in visible nature, of the chief agencies at work there, and of the changes