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to discuss. If he reads what others have written, it tends to give shape and direction to his own thoughts, and it may be difficult for him to avoid the suspicion of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the stealing of the expres sions, and especially the written productions, of another person, and passing them off as original. No one can be guilty of plagiarism and maintain any good degree of self-respect. Besides, the practice must weaken a writer's confidence in his own ability.

At the same time, thoughts first expressed by anothcr, facts related by him, and even arguments presented by him, may be used without plagiarism. Illustrations. may suggest other similar illustrations, arguments may suggest other similar arguments. There may be an original combination and application of old material.

Generally, the best method is to gather material of all kinds miscellaneously, before beginning to write, making notes or memoranda of the different thoughts, facts, and illustrations, that occur to the mind.

7. The Third Rule.-A thorough plan or skeleton of the intended production should be drawn out, and amended till it is satisfactory, and this should be taken for a guide in completing the production.

The principal part of the invention will be accomplished in selecting the subject, gathering the material, and constructing the plan. After this it will be comparatively easy to complete the structure.

8. Remarks on the Choice of Subjects. The great difficulty which young writers have in choosing subjects of discourse, arises generally from a notion that the facts and experiences with which they have be



come familiar are not sufficiently dignified and im portant to serve as themes, and they are therefore inclined to select some subject so remote from their own observation as not to furnish an adequate supply of material. No theme is too humble for one who exercises his power of observation and thought. Cowper wrote one of the best poems in the English language on The Sofa, and called it, "The Task." Barlow wrote an interesting poem on "The Hasty Pudding." To a mind stored with the requisite knowledge it would be as easy, and probably more pleasant, to write an essay on a piece of glass, or on an old nail, as on virtue, or vice, or the sun.

Let no writer be discouraged at the difficulty, at first, of gathering sufficient material upon the chosen theme. This is a difficulty to be overcome by study and practice, and has often been keenly felt in early efforts by those who have afterward become prolific writers and speakers. The power of continuous thought and expression is to be acquired only by practice.

It is impossible to become an able writer or speaker without much study.



IN the former parts of this book we have noticed various kinds of composition, to some of which we refer again, simply to show how material is gathered and used in actual composition.

The easiest and most natural themes are descriptive.

9. Definition.-Description is a presentation, in language, of some object as it exists, or is fancied to exist. Thus, for instance, a mountain, plain, river, lake, island, house, town, state, may be described. It is necessary first to obtain full and precise information about the subject. This may be obtained by seeking answers to such questions as, Where is it? How large? — considering all the dimensions applicable, as length, breadth, height, population, etc. For what is it peculiar? Is it used for any special purpose? How long has it existed, or been known? Are there other things of the kind near it, or suggested to the mind by it? Has any great event happened near it?

10. Classification of Items.-Having gathered all the information within reach upon the subject, and perhaps preserved the items in notes, or written memoranda, the next thing requisite is to classify, or arrange the



items which you wish to present, in their proper order, and then proceed to fill out the description.

The mind soon acquires the power thus of describing an object fully and vividly. Many men travel much and learn little; they read much and remember little; all for the want of methodically arranging the separate items which they see, in their proper relations.

11. An Example of Descriptive Invention.-Suppose, for instance, that it was proposed to write a description of Greece. The first business would be to collect information and thoughts, some of which would be already in the mind, and some of which would be found there only partially or incompletely. These thoughts should be jotted down on a piece of paper, preparatory to being wrought into an outline, or frame-work, and might present some such shape as this.

Greece was a small country.

It was mostly a group of islands and a narrow coast.
What were the main divisions?

Its climate was temperate but various.

Mountains, rivers, etc.

Were the people of one race?

Their primitive condition-barbarous.

Was Greece one nation?



Their language, literature.

Philosophers-Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.

Military men-Leonidas, Alcibiades, etc.


Spartan character.

Modern Greece, etc.

These thoughts may now be systematically ar ranged, in an outline, thus:

1. The size and boundaries of Greece.

2. Peculiar geographical character and climate.

3. Character of the people in earliest times.

4. Homogeneity of people.

5. Divisions of people.

6. Their language and literature.

7. Their high culture, philosophers, etc.

8. Their character in war.

9. Modern Greece.

Then a description can be constructed. In uniting the parts, care must be taken not to show the seams too much, but by the use of connecting words and thoughts, let all be welded together into one symmetrical production. Sometimes, however, the transition between two thoughts is so abrupt that a new paragraph should be made. The final shape of the description might be something like this:

(1.) Greece is a name given to a small country in the south-eastern part of Europe, near Asia Minor, famous in ancient history. Its boundaries have not been always the same, but it may properly be said to include the whole of that peninsula between the Euxine and the Adriatic seas, and the islands in the immediate vicinity.

(2.) It is, to a great extent, a mountainous country, and is well watered by small rivers. The coast is lined with good harbors, and the people living in such a country must always have been practiced in navigation. The climate, too, is delightful, neither excessively hot nor cold, and the soil is very productive.

(3.) In the earliest times the people are said to have been barbarous, (4.) but they all spoke one language, or different dialects of one language, and became one of the most highly civilized peoples of antiquity. (5.) It is unfortunate, however, that they were divided into tribes or sections, sometimes intensely hostile to each other. They never, in fact, became one nation till their liberties were hopelessly lost.

(6.) The ancient Greeks were famous for their literature. Their language was rich and beautiful, and they have furnished to the world many of the ablest philosophers and orators. We need but mention Socrates, the martyr, Plato and Aristotle, as philosophers, and Demosthenes, the most famous of orators.

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(7.) This people, though dwelling in so small a country, maintained themselves against all foes for many centuries, for they were extraordinarily brave and successful in war.

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