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DIRECTIONS TO THE TEACHER.
As words are the materials of language, every course of this study should begin with an investigation of their nature and use. The various senses and applications of words are therefore the first lessons in the following pages.
When the learner has acquired sufficient knowledge of this part of the subject, he should proceed to form propositions ; that is, to use words of a known meaning in writing simple assertions. This exercise should be continued till an exact knowledge of the nature, parts, and forms of propositions has been attained, and the learner can write and explain them without difficulty.
The three forms of the proposition being well understood, the next point for consideration is the study of sentences. Many beginners have no lack of ideas, but for want of practice in various forms of expression, they are often utterly at a loss. They have the thought, but have no power of expressing it. To remove this difficulty, it is an excellent practice to take some form of sentence from any standard writer, and, adopting it as a model, to write several sentences, similarly constructed, on a variety of subjects. These exercises on structures of sentences will give the learner facility of expression, and, if performed
carefully, will soon relieve bim from any difficulty under this head.
The definition will next occupy bis attention. It has been said, that even the best definitions are arbitrary, and that there are few of them to which some objection may not be raised. Though this may be true, it cannot, on the other hand, be denied that the practice of defining is very useful to the learner. It induces a desire of investigation; gives him a habit of analysing—of endeavouring to discover every idea contained in any given single term, and, so far, is a very salutary discipline for the mind. It is not necessary, however, that this part of the study be too strongly insisted on, or that it occupy too much of the learner's time. At any future period of the course the practice of defining will be found useful as an occasional exercise. But the teacher should satisfy himself that the learner perfectly understands the cautions against errors in defining; that is, the reasons why certain forms of definition are inadmissible.
The next division of the study is the subject of argument. With some this is a very formidable exercise. They have, comparatively, but little difficulty in expressing an opinion; but when called upon to support it, they are frequently much puzzled. The various exercises on sources of argument to which the reader is referred in Part III., will be of use to the learner in this particular, and, it is hoped, will assist in removing this obstacle to his progress. The teacher should be careful not to exact too much matter from a beginner. If a general assertion be supported by two or three sentences, the exercise should, at first, be considered sufficiently long. It is injudicious to discourage the learner. Some are very slow of perception, and have but little natural power of invention; and this is, no doubt, one cause why young people are generally so reluctant to study composition. Every means should be adopted which may give the beginner confidence in his own powers; and the greatest care should be taken that his early exercises be not beyond his strength.
Having gone through the exercises on arguments, the pupil will be then prepared to write on a subject. Here one should be selected which is suited to his particular powers; a question which will naturally depend upon circumstances, and which must, consequently, be left to the teacher's discretion. It will be observed that these subjects (see Part IV.) are classified under various heads; but it is not necessary that they should be written in the order in which they are arranged in the book. As a general rule, it is better that the learner should not write too often on the same species of subject. He should vary from the moral to the literary, practical, or historical, and occasionally recur to a narrative, or a description. The variety of subject may relieve the study of some of its difficulty, and give encouragement to the learner. Practice in writing will also assist in showing him that the power of composing is not, as some imagine, a peculiar gift, bestowed only upon some few favoured mortals, but one which any one of common sense and ordinary understanding may acquire by steady and careful attention. It is recommended, however, that, at first, the proposed subject be discussed between the teacher and scholar before the latter make any attempt at composition.
In every composition of the learner, it should be particularly insisted on that none of its parts be wanting; in other words, that there should be, in all cases, an introduction, an opinion, arguments in support of the opinion, and a conclusion. There may be cases in which especial