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the task of interpreting his language, to find the true meaning lying under the apparent meaning. Circumlocution is not the invention of refinement and civilization, but the vice of the uncultivated ; it prevails the most with the young in years and in minds that never attain maturity. You cannot too much school yourself to avoid this tendency, if it has not already seized you, as is most probable, or to banish it, if infected by it. If you have any doubt of your condition in this respect, your better course will be to consult some judicious friend, conscious of the evil and competent to criticism. Submit to him some of your compositions, asking him to tell you candidly what are their faults and especially what are the circumlocutions in it and how the same thought might have been better, because more simply and plainly, expressed. Having studied his corrections, rewrite the article, striving to avoid those faults. Submit this again to your friendly censor and, if many faults are found still to linger, apply yourself to the labour of repetition once more. Repeat this process with new writings, until you produce them in a shape that requires few blottings, and having thus learned what to shun, you may venture on self reliance.

But even when parted from your friendly critic, you should continue to be your own critic, revising every sentence, with resolute purpose to strike out every superfluous word and substitute an expressive word for every fine word. You will hesitate to blot many a pet phrase, of whose invention you felt proud at the moment of its birth ; but, if it is circumlocution, pass the pen through it ruthlessly, and by degrees you will train yourself to the crowning victory of art—SIMPLICITY.

If you cannot find such a friendly critic, and the fit are few, you may achieve the object by your own effort, though less speedily and perfectly. Take one of our writers of the purest English ; read a page ; write his thoughts in your own words ; compare your composition with his, mark line by line the differences, correct your writing from his texts, then repeat the task, bearing in memory the faults you had committed before and striving to avoid them; this exercise often repeated will tutor you to write well; but it is more laborious than learning from a teacher, and will demand a large measure of patience and perseverance.

When you are writing on any subject, go to it directly. Come to the point as speedily as possible and do not walk round and round it, as if you were reluctant to grapple with it. There is so much to be read now-adays that it is the duty of all who write to condense their thoughts and words. This cannot always be done in speaking, where slow minds must follow your faster lips ; but it is always practicable in writing, where the reader may move slowly, or repeat what he has not understood on the first passing of the eye over the words.

In constructing your sentences, marshal the words in the order of thought—that is the natural, and therefore the most intelligible, shape for language to assume. In conversation we do this instinctively, but in writing the rule is almost always set at defiance. The man who would tell you a story in a plain straightforward way could not write it without falling into utter confusion and placing almost every word precisely where it ought not to be. In learning to write, then, let this be your next care. Probably it will demand much toil at first in rewriting for the sake of redistributing your words ;

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acquired habit of long standing will unconsciously mould your sentences to the accustomed shape ; but persevere and you will certainly succeed at last, and your words will express your thoughts precisely as you think them and as you desire that they should be impressed upon the minds of those to whom they are addressed. So with the sentences. Let each be complete in itself, embodying one proposition. Shun that tangled skein of sentences in which some writers involve themselves, to the perplexity of their readers and their own manifest bewilderment. When you find yourself falling into such a maze, halt and retrace your steps. Cancel what you have done and reflect what you design to say.

Set clearly before your mind the ideas that you had begun to mingle, disentangle them, set them in orderly array and so express them in distinct sentences, where each will stand separate, but in its right relationship to all the rest. This exercise will improve, not only your skill in the art of writing, but also in the art of thinking, for those involved sentences are almost always the result of confused thoughts; the resolve to write clearly will compel you to think clearly, and you will be surprised to discover how often thoughts, which had appeared to you most definite in contemplation, are found, when you come to set them upon paper, to be most incomplete and shadowy.

These hints will, perhaps, suffice to give you aid in the Art of Writing, so far as it is a necessary introduction to the Art of Speaking, and that is all that I purpose to attempt in these letters.



I TURN now to the Art of Reading, for that also is a necessary introduction to the art of speaking. To be a successful speaker you must have something to say ; you must be able to clothe what you desire to say in the best language, and you must give utterance to that language in such manner as to win the ears of your audience. Books and reflection are required to supply thoughts; composition, to enable you to put those thoughts into words ; reading, that you may express those words rightly. If you do all these well, you will be a great orator; but it is not essential to success in speaking that you should attain proficiency in each of these acquirements. Many public speakers of great reputation fail in one or more of these ingredients in the accomplishing of a great orator. But this is a defect in them, to be avoided so far as you can—not a manner specially to be imitated. Because one distinguished man hesitates in his speech, another is ungainly in action, a third does not frame a complete sentence, and a fourth is at a loss for words, you are not to deem yourself


exempt from endeavours to avoid the faults into which they have fallen. They are not the less faults, not the less to be shunned ; and if you desire success, you must consent to learn what to do and what to shun, and strive earnestly to put in practice what you have so learned.

It is true that many persons speak well who read badly, and I do not say that good reading is necessarily allied with good speaking ; but I confidently assert that the two arts are so nearly connected that the surest way to learn to speak is to learn to read. But it is not alone as a pathway to speaking that I earnestly exhort you to the study of reading. It is an accomplishment to be sought for its own sake. It has incalculable uses and advantages of its own, apart from its introduction to oratory. Tolerable readers are few, good readers are extremely rare. Not one educated man in ten can read a paragraph in a newspaper with so much propriety that to listen to him is a pleasure and not a pain. Nine persons out of ten are unable so to express the words as to convey their meaning; they pervert the sense of the sentence by emphasising in the wrong place, or deprive it of all sense by a monotonous gabble, giving no emphasis to any word they utter; they neglect the “stops," as they are called ; they make harsh music with their voices; they hiss, or croak, or splutter, or mutter-everything but speak the words set down for them as they would have talked them to you out of book. Why should this be? Why should correct reading be rare, pleasant reading rarer still, and good reading found only in one man in ten thousand ? The enthusiastic advocates for popular music assert that every man who can speak can sing, if he would only learn the art of singing. If this be true of singing, much more is it true

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