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and well-directed energy of mind. He might ultimately attain to a fuller maturity of his mental powers, a greater vigor and clearness in his intellectual exercises, and a superior command of expression. The sphere of public usefulness might thus be better filled; the character of the literary institutions of the United States might be still higher raised ; and the national literature more speedily attain that eminence to which it seems rising.

A more general attention has, within a few years, been directed to composition; but no successful exertions seem to have been used to make it a more prominent branch of education. One obstacle to such an attempt, has been the want of a definite, systematical plan of instruction. Several useful works, partly or wholly relating to composition, have been produced; but the plan of some is too theoretical for the use of beginners, and that of others excludes many things essential to the learner's progress. Most books on this subject, have passed but very slightly over the wide field lying between the rules and principles of rhetoric, and the exercise of composing. Now this is the very ground on which a beginner finds that his difficulties lye. His mind is familiar with directions, but he needs assistance in applying them. A practical volume is therefore required, which shall conduct the pupil in a systematical, but easy and intelligible way, from principles to practice.

To attain this point is the object of the present work. The author has therefore avoided every thing like excursive speculation on the philosophy of the subject. He has exhibited every principle in its simplest form, condensed every remark, and confined himself to the mere sketch of a plan which is to derive its chief value from the exertions of the teacher. The system is that which the author has pur sued in instructing the youth who have been under his own care ; he has found it serviceable to them; and he hopes that publication will make it more extensively useful.

The subjects selected for exercises, are such as seemed likely to improve the mind; and it is hoped that the pupil, whilst writing his compositions, will thus be at once reviewing useful knowledge, and acquiring a facility in communicating it.

The course of instructions contained in this work, is designed to be of service to four classes of youth : those who are engaged in the higher branches of education, at academies; those who are preparing for college, by private study ; and those who have entered on their college studies, without having previously devoted to this branch as much time as they afterwards find it requires. The plan may also be found useful in completing the English department of the education of young ladies.

The Introduction contains some observations on the arrangement of the subjects comprehended in the following pages, together with directions designed to facilitate the progress of the student. In the Appendix will be found a few practical instructions, regarding the formation and the correction of style.

WM. RUSSELL. New-Township Academy, New-Haven,


April, 1823.

*** This work will be accompanied by one on Declamation; and the two volumes will, it is hoped, do something towards supplying a vacancy which has hitherto existed in the English department of preparatory education.


Copy of a note from the Reverend Chauncey A. Goodrich, professor of rhetoric and oratory in YaleCollege, respecting the MS. outline of a course of instructions, on the plan of the following work.

“Yale College, Oct. 1821. MR. RUSSELL,

I have read with interest your sketch of a plan for the instruction of youth in composition. It is, in my view, highly judicious,-excellently adapted to remove those obstacles which embarrass and retard the young pupil in his first advances. I concur likewise in the expediency of making this a distinct branch of education ; and sincerely hope that the success of your system may equal the felicity of its conception, and prove no less advantageous to yourself than to the public. I am, Sir, your obedient servant,



The simplicity of the plan delineated in the following pages, makes it seem unnecessary to enter on minute introductory explanations and directions.

The pupil cannot advantageously commence practical exercises, unless his mind is prepared by recent impressions, and a distinct recollection of those principles of rhetoric, which have a more immediate relation to composition. For this reason, the review which forms Part I. contains only the more important rules and definitions, expressed as briefly as possible. Young pupils may, in a few of their first exercises, require the assistance of the teacher, to direct them in applying the rules of punctuation. But the sooner the learner is left to depend on his own diligence, the more accurate will be his knowledge of this branch.

When the pupil has reviewed the principles of composition, contained in the rules of rhetoric, he is prepared to apply them; but not, in the first instance, to exercises of his own. Such a transition is too abrupt, and too difficult for the minds of youth, and has gen

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