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have a shape until you try to express them in words. Nevertheless you must think before you can write or speak, and

you should cultivate a habit of thinking at all appropriate seasons. But do not misunderstand this suggestion. I do not design advising you to set yourself a-thinking as you would take up a book to read at the intervals of business, or as part of a course of self-training, for such attempts would probably begin with wandering fancies, and end in a comfortable nap. It is a fact worth noting, that few persons can think continuously while the body is at perfect rest. The time for thinking is that when you are kept awake by some slight and almost mechanical muscular exercise, and the mind is not busily attracted by external subjects of attention. Thus walking, angling, gardening, and other rural pursuits, are pre-eminently the seasons for thought, and you should cultivate a habit of thinking during those exercises, so needful for health of body and for fruitfulness of mind. Then it is that you should submit whatever subject you desire to treat about to careful review, turning it on all sides, and inside out, marshalling the facts connected with it, trying what may be said for or against every view of it, recalling what you may have read about it, and finally thinking what you could say upon it that had not been said before, or how could

put old views of it into new shapes. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this will be to imagine yourself writing upon it, or making a speech upon it, and to think what in such case you would say; I do not mean in what words you would express yourself, but what you would discourse about; what ideas you would put forth ; to what thoughts you would give utterance. At the beginning of this exercise, you will find your reflections extremely



vague and disconnected, you will range from theme to theme, and mere flights of fancy will be substituted for steady, continuous thought. But persevere day by day, and that which was in the beginning an effort will soon grow into a habit, and you will pass few moments of your working life in which, when not occupied from without, your mind will not be usefully employed within itself.

Having attained this habit of thinking, let it be a rule with you, before you write or speak on any subject, to employ your thoughts upon it in the manner I have described. Go a-fishing. Take a walk. Weed your garden. While so occupied, think. It will be hard if your own intelligence cannot suggest to you how the subject should be treated, in what order of argument, with what illustrations, and with what new aspects of it, the original product of your own genius. At all events this is certain, that without preliminary reflection you cannot hope to deal with any subject to your own satisfaction, or to the profit or pleasure of others. If you neglect these precautions, you can never be more than a windbag, uttering words that, however grandly they may roll, convey no thoughts. There is hope for ignorance ; there is none for emptiness.

To sum up the exhortations of this letter. To become a writer, or an orator, you must fill your mind with knowledge by reading and observation, and educate it to the creation of thoughts by cultivating a habit of reflection. There is no limit to the knowledge that will be desirable and useful; it should include something of natural science, much of history, and still more of human nature. The quicquid agunt homines must be your study, for it is with these that the speaker has to

deal. Remember, that no amount of antiquarian, or historical, or scientific, or literary, lore will make an orator, without intimate acquaintance with the ways of the world about him, with the tastes, sentiments, passions, emotions and modes of thought of the men and women of the age in which he lives, and whose minds it is his business to sway.

An orator must be most of all a man of the world ; but he must be accomplished also with the various acquirements which I have here endeavoured briefly to sketch.




You must think, that you may have thoughts to convey ; and read, that you may possess words wherewith to express your thoughts correctly and gracefully. But something more than this is required to qualify you to write or speak. You must have a style. I will endeavour to explain what I mean by that.

Style is not art, like language—it is a gift of nature, like the form and the features. It does not lie in words, or phrases, or figures of speech ; it cannot be taught by any rules ; it is not to be learned by examples. As

; every man has a manner of his own, differing from the manner of every other man, so has every mind its own fashion of communicating with other minds. The dress in which our thoughts clothe themselves is unconsciously moulded to the individualities of the mind whence they


This manner of expressing thought is style, and therefore may style be described as the feature of the mind displayed in its communications with other minds; as manner is the corporeal feature exhibited in personal communication.

But, though style is the gift of nature, it is nevertheless to be cultivated ; only in a sense different from that commonly understood by the word cultivation.

Many elaborate treatises have been written on style, and the subject usually occupies a prominent place in all books on writing and oratory. It is usual with such teachers to be emphatic on the importance of cultivating style, and they proceed to prescribe ingenious recipes for producing it. All these proceed upon the assumption that style is something artificial, capable of being taught, and which should be learned by the student, like spelling

grammar. But if the definition of style which I have submitted to you is right, these elaborate trainings are a needless labour-probably a positive mischief. I do not design to say that a style might not be taught to you; but it will be the style of some other man and not your own; and not being your own, it will no more fit your

mind than a second-hand suit of clothes, bought without measurement at a pawnshop, would fit your body, and your appearance in it will be as ungainly. But you must not gather from this that you have nothing to do with style ; that it may be left to take care of itself, and that it will suffice for you to write or speak as untrained nature prompts.


that cultivate style ; but I say also that the style to be cultivated should be your own, and not the style of another. Most of those who have written upon the subject recommend you to study the styles of the great writers of the English language, with a view to the learning of their accomplishment.

So I say-study them, by all means ; but not for the purpose of imitation, not with a view to acquire their manner, but to learn their language, to see how they have embodied their

you must


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