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of his age.' 'We find that in 1898-99 the number of seamen in the Navy was 75,709, and the number of marines 17,807.'
Abbreviations and symbols, such as &, etc., e.g., i.l., should never be employed in an essay.
Correct spelling is largely an affair of the eye; if a word looks right, it is right, nine times out of ten. In reading a printed book, the worst speller would at once detect a misprint, and would probably be able to correct it. Consequently, if you improve your handwriting, so that it becomes formed, and the same word is always written in the same way, your spelling will become more correct. Your eye will become accustomed to the look of written words; just as it became accustomed to the look of printed words. Some people are naturally able to spell correctly; others find a chronic difficulty. To the bad speller I would say, Get a picture of the word fixed in your mind. For, there is probably a certain set of common words about which you are always uncertain. Whenever the uncertainty occurs, look up the word in the dictionary, take a separate slip of paper and write the word on it, correctly. This will give you a little picture of the word in your mind; so that, in course of time, you will possess correct pictures of all the doubtful words.
You will find it useful to remember that in words such as 'field,' 'receive,' etc., the rule is i before e except after c, and in seize.
In writing against time, or in an examination, your first notion of a word is more likely to be correct than your second. For, the picture of the word in your mind is more likely to reproduce itself accurately before you
have begun to think about it. But, if a doubt arises, write the word on a slip of paper, with the alternative spelling, and take the one which looks correct. If (as may happen) neither looks correct, find another word, and use that.
AN ENGLISH VILLAGE
THE first thing you have to do, is to make sure that you understand the exact meaning of the title of the essay, which conveys the meaning of the subject. In this case, the meaning is plain; the subject being an English Village, evidently you are to make plain to the reader what kind of place an English Village is. The next thing you must do, is to ascertain the nature of the subject; if it be Concrete or Abstract, or a combination of the two. For, upon the nature of the subject depends the nature of your treatment of it. Now, a concrete subject is one that deals with practical experience; with facts, material objects, things seen.1 An abstract subject deals with ideas, theories, fancies, visionary matters and things unseen.2 It is easy to see that almost any given subject-such as Friendship -Taste-Telling the Truth-might be treated from either an Abstract or a Concrete point of view. But,
1 'In a concrete notion the objects with their qualities as it were grow together, and are perceived together.'
2 'Viewed apart from concrete form, individual example, or actual practice, said of numbers, attributes, qualities, etc.; general, as opposed to particular; theoretical, as opposed to practical. . . . Ideal; imaginary; visionary; opposed to real, practical, rational.'
in this case, although it would be possible to write an essay under the title of an English Village, which dealt with Abstract ideas, it seems more natural to treat the subject from the point of view of actual experience; that is, as a Concrete subject. In dealing with a Concrete subject, you have to ask yourself, first, What do I know about it? A little Reflection will show you what you know, and (what is more important) what you don't know. If you have lived for long in a village, you ought to have plenty to say, concerning its daily life; if you have stayed in such a place for a short time, you can at least describe its aspect—what it looks like and its daily life.
Assuming, now, that you have completed your preliminary task of Reflection, you may begin to get the skeleton of the essay together, by means of notes. Each note will presently be expanded into a paragraph. Supposing, then, we begin by setting down the notes Aspect, and Daily Life. You have now to select your point of view; the single idea which is to underlie and to inspire your composition; and which every word you write must help to illustrate. Thus, at the outset, you strike the first law of composition; the Selection of the Central Idea. Its observance is not a matter of choice; it is a matter of necessity; for, if you disregard the law, your essay will be worth nothing—nothing at all. What, then, is to be your Central Idea? You must choose it from among many which offer themselves. For, if you think a moment, you will see, with regard to the first head, Aspect, that the look of a place varies from season to season, month to month, even from hour to hour. Hence, you must choose one particular aspect. As you naturally desire your essay to be as good as possible, I suggest that you choose the most picturesque aspect known to you.
And with regard to the second head, Daily Life, also, there are various points of view. There are, for instance, the points of view of monotony, tranquillity, heavy and continual toil, dulness, poverty, simplicity, hardship, beauty, ugliness. Again, I suggest that you choose the best aspect; which, in this case, seems also the most obvious; I mean the aspect of beautiful tranquillity. Thus, you have in addition to your two chief headings, two sub-headings: under Aspect, Beauty, illustrated by (say) early morning-sunlight; and under Daily Life, Tranquillity. Your Central Idea, then, is two-fold: the Picturesqueness-the beauty-and the Tranquillity of an English village. How are you going to develop and to illustrate it? With regard to Aspect, your way is plain; you must take the best-that is, the most beautiful-you can find; in this case (for the sake of argument) a picture of early morning in summer. The treatment of Daily Life is not so simple to plan, though it may be the easier to execute. The most natural
method would seem to be, to take the events of one day, which you recollect, and to describe them, in so far as they illustrate the tranquillity of the life, as they occurred. But, as the events of one particular day might not be sufficient to make a really typical—that is, characteristic -picture, it will be better to collect in your mind all the characteristic little incidents, and describe them as happening on one particular day.
Now add to your notes. Each note represents a paragraph, into which it will presently be expanded. It is not necessary that your notes should be set down in the order which it is best to follow in the paragraphs they represent. They are so arranged here, for the sake of clearness; but in practice, your notes are set down as they occur to your mind. They are then either rearranged before you begin to write, or they are re