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This book differs from most treatises
rhetoric and composition in two particulars----arrangement, and proportion. The common order is reversed, and the study of words, instead of being put first, is put last, while at the outset attention is centred upon methods of gathering and ordering material. The reason for this should be plain. Composition must begin with ideas. Diction is the very last consideration in the process of constructing an essayit may even be reserved until revision. If words be thrust first upon the attention, the student naturally supposes that words, instead of the ideas behind them, are his raw material. Composition becomes to him wholly an artificial thing. Freshness, independence, naturalness, ease, are put far from him, perhaps never to be attained. It is a matter of history that, excepting here and there a Pater and a Stevenson, our masters of letters have not come into their kingdom through wrestling with words. Such I offer as the main defense of this book, and reason for its being.
The proportion of parts has been determined both by the foregoing consideration and by experience. The bulk of matter in our rhetorics is traditionary and, except for higher, critical purposes, useless. Good writing depends chiefly on half a dozen things-on managing properly the few words that represent the germ ideas, on keeping sentences from being submerged by the weight of their own clauses, on attending to the articulation (the relation-words of all kinds, the pronouns), on logical arrangement and