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theme it deals with, and both documents are handed in together.

By this means several ends are generally attained. The student, aware of the test to which his work will be exposed, is apt practically to apply, in his own writing, the rhetorical matter contained in the chapter under consideration; he thus learns, half insensibly, to consider the subject not as an abstract one, but rather as a body of practical advice concerning artistic conduct. In categorically criticising the theme of somebody else, he is compelled at once intelligently to master the theory of the chapter under consideration, and to display his knowledge of it in an orderly way. And if he criticises well—which proves the case rather oftener than one would expect—he greatly lightens the task of the instructor who has finally to criticise the theme in question.

Between the second theme and the third, I direct the class similarly to master the chapter on Sentences, their knowledge of which is similarly tested by the following plan:

SENTENCES : 1. Grammatical Purity: Solecism.
2. Kinds of Sentences : a. Long or short.

b. Periodic or loose,

3. Principles of Composition: a. Unity.

b. Mass.

c. Coherence. 4. Denotation and Connotation.

With the next theme, their knowledge of the chapter on Paragraphs is similarly tested thus:

PARAGRAPHS : I. Summarize the theme you criticise, para

graph by paragraph.

II. 1. Kinds of Paragraphs.

2. Principles of Composition.
3. Denotation and Connotation.

With the next theme, their knowledge of the chapter on
Whole Compositions is tested thus:
WHOLE COMPOSITION: I. Summarize, paragraph by para-

II. 1. Principles of Composition.

2. Denotation and Connotation.

Having thus accustomed students to analyzing the Elements of Style, I proceed in the following three themes similarly to

I call their attention to the Qualities of Style. After studying the chapter on Clearness, they are directed to analyze one another's themes by the following plan:


1. Words.
2. Sentences.
3. Paragraphs.

4. Whole Composition.

1. Clearness.

In similar manner I test their knowledge of the two remaining chapters—the chapters on Force and on Elegance.

For the rest of the year, they are regularly required every fortnight to make a complete analysis of one another’s themes. The complete scheme of criticism is as follows:


1. Words.
2. Sentences.
3. Paragraphs.

4. Whole Composition.

1. Clearness.
2. Force.

3. Elegance.

In every case, each student is generally expected to make some comment under each head. Repeated use of this scheme


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certainly fixes the book in their minds to a rather surprising degree.

I may add that I have for years been accustomed, in reading themes, to make a hasty categorical analysis of every theme I read. The pages of my note-book are divided thus:

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When one has sixty or seventy themes to read every week, each single analysis must of course be hasty. If several separate analyses, however, made at considerable intervals, and necessarily in various moods and under various conditions, prove to have much in common, they result in a valid basis for generalizations about the style of the individual they con

The experience of more than ten years confirms my belief that this method of keeping pupils in hand is efficient.





Style is the expression of thought and feeling in written words. All style
must impress us, more or less, in three ways, — intellectually, emotionally,
and ästhetically; in other words, it must possess or lack Clearness, Force,
and Elegance. But all style consists solely of arbitrary signs — letters
which common consent makes symbolic of arbitrary sounds words
which common consent in turn makes symbolic of the immaterial reality

- thought and emotion - which forms our conscious life. In choosing words,

we must be governed wholly by this common consent, which we call Good

Use. In composing words, we find three distinct stages of composition, –

groups of words, which we call Sentences; groups of sentences, which we

call Paragraphs; and larger groups, which we call Whole Compositions.

In making any of these compositions, we may to advantage observe three

general principles. The first, the principle of Unity, concerns the substanco

of a composition: every composition should group itself about one central

idea. The second, the principle of Mass, concerns the external form of

a composition: the chief parts of every composition should be so placed

as readily to catch the eye. The third, the principle of Coherence, con-

cerns the internal arrangement of a composition: the relation of each part

of a composition to its neighbors should be unmistakable. In composing

sentences, the operation of these principles is greatly limited by good use,

in the form of grammar. In composing paragraphs and whole composi-

tions, good use hampers us less and less. And all style may be re-

garded as the result of a constant conflict between good use and the prin-

riples of composition . .

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A paragraph is to a sentence what a sentence is to a word. The prins
ciples which govern the arrangement of sentences in paragraphs, then, are
identical with those that govern the arrangement of words in sentences.

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