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25. Difficulty in the Investigation of Abstract Subjects. -WHEN we pass from subjects that may be denominated external, the facts concerning which are obtained by an exercise of the senses, to those of a purely mental character, we enter a range of thought which is developed later in life, and not very largely, except in those who acquire a liberal education, either by special effort or as the result of their occupation.

26. Requisites for Invention on such Subjects. — The great requisite is close and connected thought upon the subject; and the proper methods of thought are taught, not in a Rhetoric, but in the sciences respectively that embrace the subject. How could one write or speak extensively or vigorously on memory, mental association, volition, or any such theme, who had not studied Mental Philosophy? How could one treat in a masterly manner such a subject as electricity, mechanical motion, or machinery, who had not studied Natural Philosophy? How could one write or speak ably upon food, poisons, health, disease, diet, who had not investigated Physiology? How could one write an able dissertation on insanity, or idiocy, who did

not understand both Physiology and Mental Philosophy? Ignorance is the great foe of efficiency. Abundant knowledge is the exhaustless fountain of a good speaker or writer. That the fountain should be exhaustless, streams must run inward as well as outward. There must be faithful, constant industry. Invention can not create raw material, and raw material is always used up by actual labor.

27. More than Information necessary.-Still there are some men, encyclopædiac in information, who can not command their resources and put their information into shape, and this is often the result of not knowing how to use information, so as to bring it to bear on an end in view.

28. Practical Directions.—In considering a subject, it is well to inquire first, where it resides, how far it extends, how long it has existed. Then, how great is its power. Is it useful or pernicious? If both, when and why is it the one, and when and why the other? Is it often confounded with some other. subject? If so, what, and-why, and how? Has it any special application to any end you have now in view? Is it connected with human conduct? Can you make it appear attractive, or disagreeable, by any comparisons or illustrations? Is there any method by which you can in the prosecution of the subject appeal to the passions of your hearers?

These are but a few of the many questions that a writer may bear in mind when he is collecting information and thoughts, and arranging them, preparatory to the construction of his production.

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29. Example. Let the abstract theme, patriotism, for instance, be selected as the.subject of an essay, and examined according to the above questions, and an outline like the following could be constructed.


Patriotism, or the love of one's own country, is nearly if not quite a universal passion.

It has been manifested from the earliest times [Hebrews, Grecians, Romans, French, Swiss, English, Americans-or any others].

Its power, as evinced in war, in diplomacy. Even among savages. [Look up some instances in history to illustrate this.]

Its good effects in leading every nation to try to excel.

Show some bad effects when not regulated. [Cæsar crossing the Rubicon. Napoleon's campaigns in Russia and Egypt.]

True patriotism should not be confounded with ambition, nor with attempt to exalt a part of a nation over other parts. Speak of rebellion and civil war.

Compare it to love for members of the same family-to coherence of the parts of one structure together, as of a house-to the union between different organs of the same body-to the blood circulating through the body giving life to the whole, etc.

Refer to monuments erected to honor brave patriots and useful men and women, by nations. Find some, and give the inscriptions on them.

Show how one may feel and manifest patriotism in peace, as well as in war. Was Franklin a patriot? Was Howard a patriot? etc. Close with an application of the subject to present circumstances.

30. The Writer should invent new Modes in the Presentation of Subjects.—It is not well for a writer or speaker to confine himself to any model in forming a plan of his production. But the above will show that the questions recommended will put the mind upon a track that will be likely to lead to a thorough treatment of a theme.

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31. A List of Subjects for Practice. We subjoin a brief list of abstract subjects in which the student can

exercise his powers of invention. In all cases let a full outline be prepared, and give much attention to the collection of information and illustrations.

1. The Power and Abuses of Faith.

2. The Effects of Labor.

3. A Republican Form of Government.

4. The Invention and Use of Steam-power.
5. Moral Courage.

6. The English Language.

7. The Magnetic Telegraph.

8. The Missionary Enterprise.
9. The Power of Music.

10. The Effects of War.

11. Ancient and Modern Oratory.

12. The Importance of Restraining the Passions,

13. Mental Refinement.

14. Radicalism.

15. Value of Health.

16. Power of Heat.

17. Military Ambition.
18. Enthusiasm.





32. Prevalence of Discussions.-MUCH of the writing and speaking of men in actual life is argumentative, and a large part of this is discussion in courts, or deliberative or legislative bodies. Even when an address is made, or a sermon is preached, very frequently it is argumentative, attempting to prove what is known to be disputed, and it partakes, therefore, of the character of a discussion, in which one party only is present. It becomes a matter of great importance to know how most efficiently to investigate a subject upon which diverse opinions are entertained.

33. The First Requisite in a Discussion.-In a discussion, the first requisite is a clear understanding of the question at issue. Many questions are so loosely and ambiguously stated that no thorough discussion of them is possible. Disputants, even defending the same side, are not considering the same subject, and may be diametrically opposed to each other. When duty requires the discussion of any such proposition, an effort should be made to show the ambiguity or incoherency of the theme, and to put it into definite shape, and determine just what you propose to affirm, and what you

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