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AFTER studying carefully the Rules for Punctuation (page 252), the pupil will be sufficiently advanced to apply to his own compositions the various principles and rules requisite for their full correction. The following suggestions are designed to afford a guide to the teacher and pupils for a series of graded exercises in composition, in continuation of the practical language lessons already interspersed through this work.
In connection with these exercises, the pupils should be required to study carefully the principles and rules contained in Appendix II.
Preliminary Exercises. 1. Read a story, biographical sketch, or incident in history; and require the pupils to reproduce it in their own language, as far as possible.
This exercise should be continued sufficiently long to familiarize the pupils with the narrative style of composition, and to teach them to avoid the awkward expressions and repetitions customary with those untrained in this branch of composition. The simplest and easiest narratives should at first be selected.
2. Write out, or otherwise give to the pupils, a full account of any particular incident or event, and require them to abridge or condense it, omitting all but the most important circumstances.
3. Write a brief account of any incident or event, and require the pupils to expand it, adding any circumstances which they may conceive could have existed or occurred in connection with the facts stated.
Both of these exercises of condensation and expansion should be continued for some time, as they cultivate special faculties of the mind, most important to be addressed in training the pupil in the production and expression of thought.
4. Select a piece of poetry, and require the pupils to express the same thoughts in prose, using a plainer and less figurative style.
Be careful to select only such pieces as are fully adapted to the pupils' comprehension.
5. Require the pupils to write an analysis of any piece of prose or poetry, giving the topics treated, with the arguments and illustrations employed, etc.
Begin with easy pieces, and advance gradually to more difficult ones. Do not give argumentative pieces at first. This exercise, when skillfully employed, is a most excellent one, as it will go far to impart to the mind habits of regular, logical thought.
6. Require the pupils to write out criticisms of selected pieces, making observations on the thoughts, their arrangement and relation to the subject, as well as the modes of expression employed.
These exercises will prepare the mind for writing compositions on miscellaneous subjects. This is a task which should never be imposed without the preliminary exercises. Many pupils are permanently disgusted with composition by being required to perform this impossible task.
Original Composition. 7. Assign a subject, or theme, and suggest the mode of treatment, writing down for the pupils the topics which should be considered and discussed, with the arrangement to be employed.
This exercise should be pursued until the pupils' minds have become accustomed to the discovery of topics. It is designed to afford training in what is called, in rhetoric, Invention.
During the exercise, the teachers should require the pupils to suggest the topics, before deciding himself what is proper.
8. Reverse the above exercise ; that is, select an appropriate subject, and require the pupils to discover the topics which should be treated under it, and to write, by properly arranging them, an analysis of the mode of treatment.
This should be done at first so as to afford a băief sketch or outline, which afterward may be expanded or filled in, by suggesting illustrations, arguments, etc., under each topic. As considerable exercise of this kind will be needed, the pupils should be required write out in full only an occasional composition; but the analysis should be copied in a book, and preserved by the pupil, for the next exercise, which is the writing of compositions on selected themes.
9. Require the pupils to write compositions on subjects either selected for them or suggested by their own minds.
It is preferable, at this stage, that the pupils should select their own subjects, as a general thing, in order to give full scope to the original suggestions of the mind, and to the unfolding of any special talent or genius for composition, which will often be found to show itself under the training here outlined, if it be faithfully persevered in.
In connection with the above exercises, the pupils should be instructed in letter-writing. This will include the proper forms, as shown below.
Heading. The heading consists of the name of the place (sometimes the street and number) from which the letter is sent, and the date,- including month, day, and year. This should be written a line or two from the top of the page, and should be commenced so that it may end near the margin of the sheet at the right. Thus :
New York, May 10, 1882. Or, when the street is mentioned :
56 Lafuyette Place, New York, May 10, 1882.
Address. The address should, in formal letters, follow on the next line, near the left side of the page, usually a little to the right of the body of the letter. Thus :Mr. Thomas H. Brown,
My dear Sir,
New York, Gentlemen, In less formal letters, the address may be written below and at the left of the signature, at the end of the letter.
Other forms of address will be required according to circumstances, varying with the persons addressed and the terms of intimacy that exist. Thus :
A. B. Palmer, Esq.; John Porter, M.D.; Dr. John Porter ; B. C. Baldwin, LL.D.; Rev. H. J. Davis, or Rev. Mr. Davis; Noah Porter, D.D., LL.D.; etc.
When ladies are addressed, the following are customary : Miss Brown ; Miss Kate Field ; Mrs. George Burns ; Mrs.
i General Grant ; etc.
These may be followed by :
Sir, Dear Sir, My dear Sir, Sirs, Gentlemen; Madam, Dear Madam, My dear Madam, Ladies ; Dear Mr. Hart, My dear Mr. Smith; Dear Friend, My dear Friend, etc.
The title Hon. is applied to persons holding high governmental positions ; His Excellency is sometimes applied to the President of the United States and to State Governors.
Body. The body of the letter should be commenced on the line next below the address, and a little to the right of it. The style will vary with the character of the letter. Business letters should be formal, brief, and to the point. Friendly correspondence requires an easy, familiar style, for the acquisition of which the study of good models will be very useful. A few specimens for the opening are here given :
Yours of the 5th inst. is just received, etc.
Closing. The forms of closing, followed by the signature, are various. A few are here given :
Respectfully yours ; Very respectfully yours ; Truly yours; Yours truly ; Very truly yours; Your obedient servant ; Your obedient, humble servant ; Yours cordially ; Faithfully yours ; Yours affectionately; Ever affectionately yours; As ever, your friend; etc.
Superscription. Write the name about midway between the top and bottom of the envelope ; under this write the address, commencing each line a little farther to the right than that above it. Great care should be taken to make the address as legible as possible.
Affix the postage stamp to the right-hand corner at the top of the envelope.