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DIRECTIONS TO THE TEACHER.
As WORDS are the materials of language, every course of this study should begin with an investigation of their nature and use. The various senses and applications of words are therefore the first lessons in the following pages.
When the learner has acquired sufficient knowledge of this part of the subject, he should proceed to form propositions—that is, to use words of a known meaning in writing simple assertions. This exercise should be continued till an exact knowledge of the nature, parts, and forms of propositions has been attained, and the learner can write and explain them without difficulty.
The three forms of the proposition being well understood, the next point for consideration is the study of sentences. Many beginners have no lack of ideas, but for want of practice in various forms of expression, they are often utterly at a loss. They have the thought, but have no power of expressing it. To remove this difficulty, it is an excellent practice to take some form of sentence from any standard writer, and, adopting it as a model, to write several sentences, similarly constructed, on a variety of subjects. These exercises on structures of sentences will give the learner facility of expression, and, if performed carefully, will soon relieve him from any difficulty under this head.
The definition will next occupy his attention. It has been said, that even the best definitions are arbitrary, and that there are few of them to which some objection may not be raised. Though this may be true, it cannot, on the other hand, be denied that the practice of defining is very useful to the learner. It induces a desire of investigation; gives him a habit of analysing—of endeavouring to discover every idea contained in any given single term, and, so far, is a very salutary discipline for the mind. It is not necessary, however, that this part of the study be too strongly insisted on, or that it occupy too much of the learner's time. At any future period of the course the practice of defining will be found useful as an occasional exercise. But the teacher should satisfy himself that the learner perfectly understands the cautions against errors in defining—that is, the reasons why certain forms of definition are inadmissible.
The next division of the study is the subject of argument. With some this is a very formidable exercise. They have, comparatively, but little difficulty in expressing an opinion; but when called upon to support it, they are frequently much puzzled. The various exercises on sources of argument, to which the reader is referred in Part III., will be of use to the learner in this particular, and, it is hoped, will assist in removing this obstacle to his progress. The teacher should be careful not to exact too much matter from a beginner. If a general assertion be supported by two or three sentences, the exercise should, at first, be considered sufficiently long. It is injudicious to discourage the learner. Some are very slow of perception, and have but little natural power of invention; and this is, no doubt, one cause why young people are generally so reluctant to study composition. Every means should be adopted which may give the beginner confidence in his own powers, and the greatest care should be taken that his early exercises be not beyond his strength.
Having gone through the exercises on arguments, the pupil will be then prepared to write on a subject. Here one should be selected which is suited to his particular powers-a question which will naturally depend upon circumstances, and which must, consequently, be left to the teacher's discretion. It will be observed that these subjects (eee Part IV.) are classified under various heads; but it is not necessary that they should be written in the order in which they are arranged in the book. As a general rule, it is better that the learner should not write too often on the same species of subject.
He should vary from the moral to the literary, practical, or historical, and occasionally recur to a narrative, or a description. The variety of subject may relieve the study of some of its difficulty, and give encouragement to the learner. Practice in writing will also assist in showing him that the power of composing is not, as some imagine, a peculiar gift, bestowed only upon some few favoured mortals, but one which anyone of common sense and ordinary understanding may acquire by steady and careful attention. It is recommended, however, that at first, the proposed subject be always discussed between the teacher and scholar before the latter make tempt at composition.
In every composition of the learner, it should be particularly insisted on that none of its parts be wanting ; in other words, that there should be, in all cases, an introduction, an opinion, arguments in support of the opinion, and a conclusion. There may be cases in which
especial difficulty will be found with some particular parts; but on no account should the learner be allowed to fall into the habit of producing an exercise deficient in any of them. He must be made to understand that in every piece of writing there should be the same proportion of parts as in any other piece of art, and that the absence of any one of these will give an imperfect and distorted effect to his composition. Each of the numbered divisions (see Part IV. p. 118) is intended to furnish matter for a distinct paragraph, so that the paragraphs in every theme may equal in number those given in the sketch. The double subject is intended still further to exercise the learner's powers both of reasoning and expression.
The other chapters in this work-on Style, Sentences, Figurative Language, &c.—are to be read attentively by the pupil, and commented on by the teacher, the questions referring to each division being made use of for
IDEAS, WORDS, AND PROPOSITIONS.
EVERY ONE knows that when he sees an object for the first time (suppose a horse or a stone), a certain impression is made on his mind by the sight of it. The
is the organ or instrument by which this communication is made between the object (here, the horse or the stone) and the mind.
A similar effect takes place in the case of sound. An impression, different from the one above mentioned, is here also made, but through another medium,-viz., the ear. The barking of a dog, the notes of a melody, the moaning of the wind, the creaking of a door, &c., are among the means by which impressions of this kind are received.
Just in the same way, and by similar means, impressions are conveyed to the mind through the organ of smelling. By bringing a sweet-scented flower within