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account of an accident, during which he had access to historical romances, without doubt gave the leaning towards that particular class of literature for which he afterwards became so famous. The social surroundings of the youth of President Garfield, the loss of his father, and his consequent struggles, show the indomitable energy and perseverance by which he won the highest position an American citizen can attain.
In writing history, chronological order is of the greatest importance. By means of it the thoughtful reader sees how one set of events is the natural result of preceding circumstances, without seeing which the study of history is intellectually of little use. It is by means of chronological order that the events narrated pass before the mind in a continuous stream, or as a chain of circumstances. In narrative composition the characters connected with the story must be kept in view throughout, or accounted for when they disappear; when the story extends over a long space of time, they must be made to change with the time, passing from youth to age as time goes on.
Narrative becomes difficult when different sets of persons, or courses of action, are involved. Skill is then necessary to show and maintain the relationships of the various characters, and to keep the principal events prominent and distinct from the subordinate. Thus, in describing a tour taken through a country, the main object of the tour, and the chief route followed, must be kept clear; little deviations from the main track, though they may be mentioned casually, must be kept subordinate.
The use of simile and metaphor is valuable in the realization of narrative, always provided these are to the point. Unless the mind of the narrator is quick to seize upon the exact resemblance, they weaken the force of the composition.
In poetry, the narration of a succession of great events forms the epic. The simple narrative becomes a ballad. Dramatic poetry is story delineated by the actors themselves, instead of being related by a third person.
Argument is proving the stability of a proposition, and rebutting all that can be said against it. The common form of argument is to state the writer's own opinion clearly, then to take up point by point any statements which have been or may be opposed to it, and to show how the writer would meet them, by denial, qualification, contempt or ridicule; finally, to bring forward any strong point which adnits of no refutation.
The laws of syntax, and the main rules for composition, are applicable to letter-writing. The aim in this, as in all composition, should be to express what is intended, clearly and concisely ; taking due care, however, that conciseness does not run into abruptness, which is always ungraceful.
Letters to friends, on topics of mutual interest, should be free, simple, and natural as conversation; with this exception, that common abbreviations of speech, allowable in conversation, must be excluded (for example, he'll for ' he will,' don't for 'do not,' etc.). The letters of Sir Richard Steele, published in the Spectator, and those of Cowper, afford some of the best models of light epistolary composition. They are singularly free and unaffected, and consequently pleasant and graceful.
Business letters, being strictly formal in their character, require conciseness of expression, amounting to brevity. No matter of a personal nature, beyond the mere formalities which politeness and geniality require, is suitable in correspondence of this kind. Unless the correspondent is on equal terms with the person to whom he writes, or is in a higher social position, and wishes to show graciousness and affability, it is better to err on the side of coldness, than to adopt a style which may be mistaken for undue familiarity.
The mode of addressing those to whom it may be necessary to write is generally a difficulty to young people. The following rules will afford some guidance on this point :
In writing to a perfect stranger, 'Sir' or Madam' is the only allowable form of address. A slight knowledge of the person addressed, whether gained by correspondence or conversation, warrants the use of 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam ;' and however genial the relationship may become, however gracious and courteous and kindly the manners of those addressed, so long as the relationship is of a business character, no other form of address is allowable. The practice of addressing any person by his name betokens a familiarity which is likely to be considered presumption in young letter-writers, by reason both of their age and position. It may be adopted towards each other by those on equal terms, or by the employer to the employed ; but it is not the proper form of address to the employer from
the employed. Official letters (that is, those written by men in the public service) are still more formal than those of commerce.
A letter should always be written on abundance of paper; the writing should not be crowded close up, either to the top or the sides of the sheet. The address of the writer and the date should be written on the right upper corner of the sheet, not less than an inch from the top. The address to the person written to follows an inch below, at the left side of the paper; and the substance of the letter should begin, with a capital letter, about half an inch under the last letter of this address. To use every inch of space conveys the impression that the writer begrudges the paper on which he writes, and has not taken the trouble to make his letter as clear as possible to the person whom he addresses.
The conclusion of a letter should be gracefully turned, and should correspond with the address ; thus, if 'Dear Sir' be the form of address, the conclusion should be: 'I am,
Dear Sir,' or I remain,' or 'Believe me to be,' or 'I beg to remain,' the address beginning under the last letter of the previous word, and taking a separate line. Under the last letter of the address, and taking another line, should come the leave-taking of the writer ; this may be, 'Yours faithfully' or Faithfully yours,' in business letters, or ‘Your obedient servant,' in letters of an official character. Any great officer of State having occasion to write to the humblest of Her Majesty's subjects on official business is bound to subscribe himself 'Your obedient servant.' The phrase is purely formal, and does not imply servility. It is used also in commercial business letters. A firm having goods to dispose of, or supplying an order to a customer, a lawyer or any agent writing to his clients, would use this form of conclusion.
The style of conclusion may be compared to the leave-taking after a personal interview ; it is the retiring salutation, and may be gracefully or ungracefully performed.
Each important word of the conclusion of a letter should begin with a capital letter.
After the signature of the writer, and at the left lower corner, should be written the full name and title of the person addressed.
When it is necessary, from want of space on a line, to divide a word, it must be done in syllables, and with a hyphen between. It is never admissible to divide the name, or name and titles of a person.
It is now the custom to address all men who are not in trade as 'Esquire' (Esq.) by courtesy. Business firms are addressed as
Messrs. & Co.' The style .Mr.' is not used with · Esquire,' nor is the title · Esquire' used with the title 'Rev.
In letter-writing a man's titles should be acknowledged. This is giving honour to whom honour is due, such titles being either the reward of industry or the recognition of merit by the sovereign.
The following is a list of abbreviations denoting titles, which abbreviations follow the Christian and surname, and the title • Esquire' of the person addressed :
M.A., Master of Arts.
D.D., Doctor of Divinity. The form of address to persons holding the above titles would, if they were ordained ministers, be as follows:
The Rev. William Owen, M.A. (or B.A. or B.D. or D.D., as the case might be). To persons not ordained :-William Owen, Esq., M.A.
D.C.L., Doctor of Civil Law.
M.P.S., Member of the Pharmaceutical Society.
W.S., Writer to the Signet (in Scotland). Persons holding any of the above would be addressed by their Christian and surname, with the title 'Esquire,' followed by the abbreviation for the degree held. Thus:
William Owen, Esq., M.D. Members of the Royal Engineers, or of the Royal Navy, however, take the title denoting their standing in the profession, in which case Esquire is dropped. Thus :
Captain William Owen, R.N.
Lieutenant William Owen, R.E. H.R.H. is used before the name of any member of the royal family ; it is the abbreviation for His (or Her) Royal Highness.
H.M.I.S. signifies Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools. The title follows the title of Esquire, coming after the Christian and surname of the inspector.
FORMS OF ADDRESS TO PERSONS OF RANK.
May it please your Majesty.
My Lord Duke,
My Lord Marquis, or in the body of the letter), Your Lordship.
The Eldest Sons of Dukes and Marquises are addressed as Right Honourable Lord.
The Sons of Earls as Lord.
The Younger Sons of Earls as Honourable (Hon.) or Esquire (the latter written in full).