Изображения страниц

As a help toward lightening his difficulties, let the college presi

dent's work be made as definite as possible. The following is an outline of a portion of an article by Henrietta L. Synnot in the Contemporary Review for November, 1874 :

LITTLE PAUPERS. Discussion limited to those children who are adopted by the State

through no fault of their own ; particularly to girls of the

Metropolitan District.”
Three classes :


Classes defined. Three methods of dealing with them (the methods not coincident with the classes) :

Boarding out,
Separate schools,

District schools.
Results of training. Conclusions drawn from official reports.

Working system of schools.
Later career of girls.

Appearance and health.
Indifference to praise or blame.

Significance of these results.



Subjects : The Flora of Our County. Evolution of Dress. Fauna of the Middle States. Social Orders of America. Lepidoptera.

Newspapers of To-day. The Violet Family.

We shall have to recognize here this class of literature, though it is difficult to select from it suitable subjects for elementary exercise in composition.

The scientific treatise depends for its value so almost entirely on laborious research and severe thought that it seems scarcely worth considering at all from the standpoint of composition. It must be of a length, too, even in monographs on the narrowest subjects, that makes it inconvenient as a form of writing for mere practice.

And yet a little reflection will show that we have already trenched upon this field. In the section devoted to Description, Exercises XVII, and XX.-XXVII., there were included among the subjects many general terms which called more properly for scientific exposition than for description. But the intention was rather that some individual of the class should be selected, in which case the description would not meet the requisites of an exposition. For exposition demands that we shall first observe large numbers of individuals until we shall have formed a general conception from which we can be reasonably sure all particular qualities or temporary conditions have been excluded. One must have seen a great many violets, stemmed and stemless, white and yellow and blue, heart- and arrow- and palmate-leaved, before he can treat scientifically the violet family.

We have treated of exposition thus far as if it had to deal only with logical definition, that is, with the discovery of all the common qualities which the general term implies. But there is another side to it. It deals also with what is called logical division, that is, the enumeration of all the individuals to which the general

term may be applied. The general term is said to con-
note the former and to denote the latter. Thus the word
man connotes two eyes, ten fingers, an upright body, a
reasoning faculty, etc. It denotes, according to geo-
graphical divisions, Americans, Europeans, Africans,
etc.; or, according to one ethnological division, Cauca-
sians, Mongolians, and Ethiopians. Again, men might
be divided into Christians, Jews, Mahometans, etc.
Let us give a scientific exposition of the term triangle :
Triangle connotes

a circumscribed space,
three lines,

three angles.
It denotes

plane triangles,
spherical triangles,

curvilinear triangles.
Plane triangle connotes

a circumscribed space,
three straight lines,

three angles.
It denotes, according to one division, triangles having
no two sides equal — scalene,

all sides equal ----- equilateral, two sides equal {

not all sides equal — isosceles. According to another division, based on the difference in

angles instead of the differences in sides, it denotes
triangles having one right angle --- right-angled,
no right angle — one obtuse angle obtuse-angled,

oblique-angled 7 no obtuse angle — acute-angled. And likewise with the denotation of spherical and curvilinear triangles. Make a similar exposition of the term quadrangle. It is evident that logical division may often be made

a number of different principles ; on so great a


number in the case of certain broad subjects, such for instance as mankind, that no exposition could ever hope to exhaust them. Still, an exposition may be considered complete which, after defining its subject, makes a careful division of it on some one principle. It may be advisable at times to select several, provided always that each division be complete in itself and there be no confusion. It would not do to classify newspapers as weekly, daily, democratic, and independent; for these divisions not only fail to cover the whole class but they overlap one another.

It does not come within our scope here to undertake anything of such magnitude as a genuine scientific treatise. We are concerned only with learning how to proceed when such a work is contemplated. Instead then of writing a regular essay, select a subject which admits of some flexibility of treatment (note the last ones in the above list) and prepare an outline indicating how it may be treated.



Wordsworth and Bryant.
Ibsen's Claim to Greatness.
Light Literature.

Subjects :

Realism in Art.
Standards of Eloquence.
Neutrality as a Political Principle.

The critic should bring to his work the utmost fairness of spirit. He should be ready to praise freely what he finds good as well as to condemn unreservedly

what he finds bad in the object of his criticism. He must of course have certain standards in his own mind. Others will realize that these standards are personal and therefore not absolute. It is the critic's plain duty then to keep these standards as just as may be, and, for the rest, to judge unflinchingly by them. Thus while finality of judgment he may not attain, sincerity at least he can.

Besides impartiality the critic should have a keen perception and a lively sympathy. This last quality is perhaps most essential of all. It is the fundamental principle of the greatest school of modern critics that the critic should endeavor to put himself in the place of the writer and enter into full sympathy with his work, to look at it from his standpoint, to take fully into account his motives and objects, and determine how well he has performed his task and how nearly he has attained the ideal set before him.

Criticism is exposition, for it is concerned with defining the province of art, letters, philosophy, etc., and with determining the place of any particular work in its own province.

One valuable help in exposition is the making of comparisons of all kinds, bringing out similarities and dissimilarities. This is one of our most common resorts in the acquisition of all knowledge and therefore not to be overlooked here. Just as the artist puts a man at the base of the pyramid in his picture, or a tree on the mountain side, or a boat on the river, in order that we may have a more accurate idea of the respective sizes of these objects, so the skillful expositor will set before us familiar things by which to gauge and better under

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »