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hope from nature, human or otherwise, that it may be entirely so.
You must have formed an ideal of what a great and good character should be. If not, it will do no harm to attempt to form one now. Physical features need not be disregarded here any more than in the last exercise, though naturally they will exact a minor share of your attention.
Do not leave the character shadowy merely because it is ideal. Assume that it exists ; give it a name and a vocation if you like; make a living man or woman of it, and then treat that man or woman as if you
knew him or her intimately. Do not say he would have such and such qualities — say explicitly that he has them. Nothing detracts from interest so much as distant, indirect treatment.
Subjects: The Man with the Golden Arm. The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Santa Claus at Home.
the Sailor. In the Land of the Fairies. Through the Gate of Dreams. An Earthly Paradise.
A Château en Espagne. A Child's Idea of Heaven.
In this exercise you will have perfect liberty to make use of all the descriptive materials at your command. One suggestion only: Remember still that the imagination can be said to create only in a certain sense -it can construct and combine. It puts the head and arms
of a man on the body of a horse and we have a centaur; it makes a similar combination of a woman and a fish and we have a mermaid. But when these combinations do such violence to all our preconceived ideas of congruity as to take on the character of monstrosities, not every taste will tolerate them. There is plenty of scope for the imagination without going so far. You may picture to yourself a spot more purely Arcadian than any
Arcadia on earth and yet have in it nothing unnatural. You may conceive of beings more beautiful, more noble, more lovable, than any you have ever known, without in the least transcending the bounds of possibility.
Imaginative work played a great part in the beginnings of literature: witness the Song of Solomon, Hesiod's Theogony, the Nibelungenlied. It plays a large part yet in the literary reading of children: witness the Arabian Nights, the Fairy Tales of Perrault, the Grimm brothers, and Andersen, and the folk-lore of any people. Read George Macdonald's At the Back of the North Wind, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's Gates Ajar and Beyond the Gates. Nathaniel Hawthorne loved to dwell in these realms of the imagination, as many of his shorter tales show; read The Hall of Fantasy in Mosses from an Old Manse. And Jules Verne, allowing his imagination to run riot in the field of modern science, has given us a score of very readable and even instructive books, of which A Trip to the Moon is a fair sample.
Write a fairy story, or an addition to the Arabian Nights' Tales. For anyone of a lively imagination this will prove a real pastime as well as means of literary culture.
SECTION III. – NARRATION AND
SOCIAL GATHERINGS, ETC.
Subjects : An Old-time Husking Bee. The Bachelor Club's Annual Ball. Nellie's Birthday Party.
A Theatre Party. Our Sunday School Picnic.
We shall no longer attempt to keep narration and description apart. As a matter of fact very few productions are purely the one or purely the other; we have seen in the preceding exercises how naturally and almost inevitably we mingle them. On the other hand very few productions partake of the characteristics of both narration and description in an equal degree. Taking advantage of this fact we have in the two foregoing sections pretty well covered the whole ground. There remain however a few classes of subjects into which both kinds of composition enter with nearly equal prominence. But even here you will in all probability find, when you have finished your productions, that they are still essentially narrative or essentially descriptive. That result will be due to yourself —
to the point of view you have chosen to take, or to your predilection for a particular style of treatment. Remember however that the condition is not imposed ; you have entire freedom and should endeavor to make use of it.
In the present exercise we have scenes to be depicted, with little or no real plot to be unfolded. Yet they are scenes in which there is much action and in which moreover you are supposed to have been one of the actors. This is somewhat different from standing passively by and watching the progress of events. Here you contribute your share toward the sum of accomplishment.
The main tendency in treating such subjects as those given above will probably be toward description. Therefore restrain it somewhat, or deflect it. Put all the life and action into the scenes that you can. Make the characters walk and talk, smile and frown, laugh and cry for us. If there is comedy let it come out, if there is tragedy let it be revealed. Read the old fairy tale of Cinderella ; The Christmas Dinner in Irving's Sketch-Book; The Archery Tournament in Cupid's Arrows, Rudyard Kipling's Plain Tales from the Hills.
A Narrow Escape.
On a Runaway Car.