Talks on Writing English

boston and new york

These talks were given in the autumn of 1894 as a course on Advanced English Composition in the Lowell Free Classes, and that they are now printed is largely due to the fact that they were so well received by those who then heard them. In preparing them, I consulted whatever books upon composition came to my hand. I examined some with profit, some with pleasure, and some, it must be confessed, not wholly without amusement, or even impatience. Doubtless, I owe something to many of these books; but I am not conscious of much obligation to any save the “Principles of Rhetoric,” by Professor A. S. Hill, “English Composition,” by Professor Barrett Wendell, and “English Prose,” by Professor John Earle.

I have conscientiously endeavored to make the lectures as practical as possible, stating as clearly as I could those things which would have been most helpful to me had I read and heeded them twenty years ago. The necessity of holding an audience made fitting some effort to render the talks entertaining; but I have never consciously said anything for the mere purpose of being amusing, and I have never been of the opinion that a book gains either in dignity or in usefulness by being dull. My purpose has throughout been sincerely serious, and if the book shall prove helpful, I shall have attained the object for which it was written.

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boston and new york
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Dec 31, 1896
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Love in a Cloud : A Comedy in Filigree

The two men who entered were widely different in appearance.


That Mr. Bradish was considerably the elder was evident from his appearance, yet he came forward with an eager air which secured for him the first attention. He was lantern-jawed, and sanguine in color. Near-sight glasses unhappily gave to his eyes an appearance of having been boiled, and distorted his glance into an absurd likeness to a leer. A shadow of melancholy, vague yet palpable, softened his face, and was increased by the droop of his Don Quixote like yellow mustaches. The bald spot on his head and the stoop in his shoulders betrayed cruelly the fact that Harry Bradish was no longer young; and no less plainly upon everything about him was stamped the mark of a gentleman.


Jack Neligage, on the other hand, came in with a face of irresistible good nature. There was a twinkle in his brown eyes, a spark of humor and kindliness which could evidently not be quenched even should there descend upon him serious misfortune. His face was still young enough hardly to show the marks of dissipation which yet were not entirely invisible to the searching eye; his hair was crisp and abundant; his features regular and well formed. He was a young fellow so evidently intended by nature for pleasure that to expect him to take life seriously would have seemed a sort of impropriety. An air of youth, and of jocund life, of zest and of mirthfulness came in with Jack, inevitably calling up smiles to meet him. Even disapproval smiled on Jack; and it was therefore not surprising if he evaded most of the reproofs which are apt to be the portion of an idle pleasure-seeker. He moved with a certain languid alertness that was never hurried and yet never too late. This served him well on the polo-field, where he was deliberately swift and swiftly deliberate in most effective fashion. He came into the drawing-room now with the easy mien of a favorite, yet with an indifference which seemed so natural as to save him from all appearance of conceit. He had the demeanor of the conscious but not quite spoiled darling of fortune.

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