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pared with thought. Probably there is not one of us who, after ten years or more of earnest teaching, has not felt baffled and humiliated at the relative barrenness of the results. It is not easy to be content with "leavening the lump," with mere increase in the accurate use of shall and will and with good sentence structure, nor even with the few skilled writers who are the result of our training. One and all we must have felt that the majority of these youths who study with us the principles of literary style as applied in essay writing or in fiction have nothing to say. With nothing to say they mistake the sign for the content, and become enthusiastic and often skillful phrase-makers. It is all ludicrously exemplified in the tale of a contestant for oratorical honors engaged in composing his magnum opus. From time to time he rushed into a room near his crying: "Say, I've got a new sentence, and it's a dandy, if only I can manage to work it in !" Yet, though I have known a youth who had studied the rudiments of rhetoric to write wretchedly when forced, with no taste for literary composition, to narrate and describe, I have rarely found him writing wholly ill on a thesis subject from a course in history, economics or philosophy on which he had thought with pleasure, because it really interested him. There lies the clue: the fact is, much of our teaching in the higher courses in composition has been and always must be fitted to and beneficial to only the few with inborn literary desire or capacity. Between these and the great mass of undergraduates, for all of whom training in the rudiments of rhetoric is necessary, are a large number of youths not likely to be either scientific or literary men, but who in one way or another will probably be often called on to address their fellows. To these should be given at least the principles which will keep them from a pained sense of inadequate results after earnest labor.
For purposes of such instruction, I believe there is no bet
ter definition of style than Cardinal Newman's, "style is a thinking out into language." That puts the emphasis where it belongs, and where the undergraduate usually fails to put it, on the man behind the writing, and particularly on the content of his mind on the subject he treats. Create in your students an interest in thinking on subjects which come daily in their way, not in this case for purposes of literary description or narration, for essay writing, but that they may realize the chaotic condition of their own minds on current college topics, and grow increasingly unwilling to repeat parrot-like what they have heard others say or to make snap judgments. It is not really true that our students "have nothing to say;" the trouble is that we have been trying to make of the most alert only literary men when they are intended for men of affairs, and that the rank and file in these days of manifold aids to thinking such as periodicals, compendia of all kinds, and tutors, have grown lazy and know nothing of the pleasure that lies in swift, accurate thinking. It is just here that study of the forms of address is helpful, for by practice in the public letter, the editorial for a college paper, the after-dinner speech on some college occasion, you may lead your nonliterary student to the discovery, to him startling and delightful, that he has only to formulate carefully what is floating in his mind to have something worth saying to his mates. But if it is worth saying, it is worth saying well. That means, however, not merely expressing it so that any literary critic who may read his words will declare it correctly and gracefully phrased, but what we teachers of composition too often forget, the greater part of persuasion, — the adjustment of the material to the probable moods, opinions, prejudices and principles of its audience. Wake the imagination of your students by training them to write not for themselves only or for the critical instructor, but for definitely described audiences to which they must adapt the presentation of their
subjects. I have found students who have had not only a Freshman course in English but even a second year of work wholly unable to carry out satisfactorily the second of the following exercises. Exercise 1. In a letter to some member of your family, explain your reasons for preferring to room in or out of the college yard, as the case may be with you. This was well done. Exercise 2. Write to some friend of yours, in the summer vacation, urging him to room with you during the coming year. Think over his characteristics before you write and try in your letter so to present your plan as to make it as attractive to him as possible. This was a complete failure: most students merely stated why they like their rooms, hardly one looked at the plan through the eyes of his friend. Yet in that simple effort at persuasion lies the whole secret of persuasive public address. Granted an interest in thinking and in presenting ideas to other people, and you will not have to urge on a student the importance of a rich, varied, and responsive vocabulary or the value of all that courses in purely literary composition can teach him. When thought presses for utterance there needs no other spur to acquirement of the best means of expression.
Now, if all this be admitted, the first difficulty is that even students who have been roused to an interest in thinking for themselves and who have had a course in the elements of rhetoric, do not think clearly, strongly, and in orderly fashion. They may be able to write reports investigating subjects which have but one side or to treat topics in which the preponderance of the evidence is heavily one way, but to steer their course steadily, fair-mindedly, weighing accurately the pros and cons, from the superficial, popular understanding of a college question to its real meaning that is utterly beyond their present powers. After some years of experimentation, I am convinced that students learn most
quickly and lastingly the processes of analysis and structure necessary to good thinking in study of the principles of argumentation as applied in written work. I say "in written work" because that permits the closest and most accurate scrutiny by an instructor, and is free from the nervous conditions of speaking. In a semester, or three months, the principles of analysis, structure and evidence can be so drilled into students that the best will have a trained analytical sense and a permanent feeling for structure, and all of the class will have gained something of both. While the class is acquiring these ideas, it should, for simplicity, write without thought of any other audience than the instructor, that is, it should aim only to convince. The difficult art of persuasion may best be taken up when the fundamental principles just named have been mastered. I believe, too, that at the outset students should be urged to write on subjects depending on research rather than on personal experience, for the first provide them with the material which they always insist they lack if set at once to writing on subjects. drawn from their own experience. Moreover, the large mass of material easily to be collected on matters of research permits a wider training in evidence, and raises more complicated questions of structure and analysis. But the moment one is sure that the students understand these fundamental matters they should be pressed into consideration of topics from college or outside life with which they are familiar. Then, too, they are ready for study of the broader principles of persuasion, -first as applied to argument only. It is often helpful to let a student rewrite for a definitely described audience an argument at first composed only to convince the instructor of the truth of the position taken in it. These principles of analysis, structure, evidence, and persuasion grasped, a student is prepared to examine the non-forensic forms of address, those which I have tried to illustrate in
Personally I have found that the necessary analysis, structure, and evidence, can be taught between the first of October and Christmas, and persuasion in its broader aspects in three to four weeks after the second date. That makes it possible to devote the second half-year to study of the forms of address. As these are examined by a student, it must become clear that the principles of analysis and structure first learned by him in written argument lie back of all these forms, that, indeed, good speaking cannot exist without, for analysis goes to the heart of the question and structure presents it most compactly and clearly. Just, too, as analysis of an opponent's case gave in argumentation one or more central ideas as special issues, analysis of one of these addresses, even the longest, will develop one or more main ideas about which the whole speech is built up. Even as the student drew briefs for his arguments, he can draw outlines of these addresses, and the outline will reveal that good structure with an eye to the audience in question had as much to do with the success of the address as of the argument. As to persuasion, — not only the mere excitation for which solely it too commonly stands in the public mind, but also every means by which the speaker has adapted his material to his particular audience,—that is illustrated at every turn in these other forms of address. In brief, the chief difference between the forensic and the non-forensic forms of public address is that structure in the latter is less rigid and persuasion preponderates over conviction. Surely, as study of these other forms is finished, a student must see that debating is but a highly specialized form of the subdivision, the forensic address, and that consequently it should end, not begin, as it too often does, his training in public discourse.
Throughout all this examination of the forms of address the purpose should of course be, not to point out graces of style, bursts of eloquence, vivid narration and description,