Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1878, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


THE epigrammatic saying, “ Writers are not made by rhetoric,” is not unfrequently quoted as a reason for depreciating a valuable study, and for advocating in its place the practice of exercises in composition. If the only aim of rhetoric were to make good writers, this objection would have to be met and answered; but if it have another and a broader purpose, then its true character should be clearly ascertained and set forth with emphasis.

There is an important distinction between rhetoric and composition. The latter is concerned with practical exercises by which the student acquires skill in writing; the former embraces that wide field of survey by which he makes himself familiar with the qualities of literature. The province of each is therefore quite distinct, and where this is not clearly apprehended, there is a danger lest the work of rhetoric as an educational instrument may not be sufficiently appreciated, and that it may be neglected for the more practical but altogether different work of exercises in composition.

It may be conceded that great writers, like great poets, are born, not made; but for the average mind some training is necessary before it can secure the best power of expression. The most direct way towards the attainment of skill and aptitude in this respect is undoubtedly afforded by the practice of composition; and where this is judiciously carried out it can hardly fail to give to the diligent student the habit of ready and effective writing. But the student cannot pro

« PreviousContinue »