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Robert Louis Stevenson
Sarah K. Bolton
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward
A. J. Church
Lang, Leaf, and Myers
Charles Dudley Warner
Robert Louis Stevenson
Thomas B. Macaulay
James Fenimore Cooper
Charles Dudley Warner G. H. Palmer
Butcher and Lang
Thomas W. Higginson
James Fenimore Cooper John Bunyan
Helen Hunt Jackson
12. Write the titles of all the books in the above list that you have read. Underscore once those which you disliked, twice those which you liked fairly well, and three times those which you particularly enjoyed.1
13. Bring to class a list of all the subjects for compositions that are suggested by the foregoing titles.
For example, you may not have read "The Abbot," but the sight of Scott's name reminds you that you have read "Quentin Durward" or "" Ivanhoe or "Kenilworth," and you may have some opinion not only of one of these books as a whole, but of several incidents or characters in it.
10. Subjects based on Imagination. Now and then we find our thoughts wandering from realities into the imaginative world, and it is sometimes worth while to tell of an excursion of this sort.
1 It will be interesting and suggestive to have some of these lists read to the class.
14. Be prepared to tell the class what the following subjects suggest to you:
1. A Fairy Tale.
2. A Modern Santa Claus.
3. Lost in the Woods.
4. Pictures in the Fire.
5. A Peep into the Future.
6. Cast away on an Island.
8. What the Cat thinks of our Family.
9. Conversation between an Algebra and "Ivanhoe" on how their Owner treats them.
11. Limited Subjects. After we have chosen a subject which seems suitable, we may find that we lack both time and space for a treatment of it which would be satisfactory either to ourselves or to our readers. We should then consider whether we can make the whole subject as interesting as we can make a part of it. We may adopt either of two plans: (1) we may discuss the whole subject briefly, or (2) we may discuss a small part of the subject fully. Let us examine both methods.
1. Discussing the whole subject briefly. A pupil who read "The President's Message" gave in his notebook a summary of the whole message.
THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
The annual report of President McKinley was made public last Monday. It is very long, and every point is enlarged upon too much. Still it is interesting reading.
He occupies half the report in telling about the Spanish War, from the time of the Cuban insurrection in 1895 to the signing of the peace treaty in Paris.
He writes about the blowing up of the Maine, Dewey's victory, Hobson's bravery, and the Sampson-Schley affair.
He then considers other subjects, such as our relations with other countries, especially the South American republics.
The annexation of Hawaii is a subject to which he devotes considerable space. The seizing of the Samoan group of islands, on the death of the Samoan king, by the U.S.S. Adams, — which was only a wooden gunboat, and the holding of it against a fleet of German armorclads, is a feat worthy of notice.
He writes about our trade with China and India, and the want of a large squadron of powerful warships on the Pacific.
2. Discussing a small part of the subject fully. In the same notebook the writer, instead of reporting a lecture on Japan as a whole, limited himself to a small part of the subject, as follows:
Last evening I attended a lecture on Japan given by Miss Mary A. Robinson, a missionary. She told some very entertaining stories about the Japanese and their customs. I was particularly interested in her account of New Year's week. It is proper to go visiting and to enjoy life at that time, but no work should be done. In entertaining the visitors the host brings out ten trays, each divided into partitions and each partition full of food. It is customary merely to taste the food, but Miss Robinson, not knowing this, once ate until she could eat no more. Still there were three full trays left. She thanked her host and returned home, but judge of her astonishment on being told that she had eaten the food which the servant had expected to last for a whole week.
The Time Limit. In choosing a small part of the subject we can often write about something that happened in a brief interval of time—perhaps in less time than it takes to tell it. The following story was told to the girl who wrote it by her father. At first she wrote a composition entitled
"From Liverpool to New York," but the result was not satisfactory, so she limited her subject as shown here.
AN EXCITING MOMENT
Just before the war of 1861 I came as cabin boy from Liverpool to New York. One day as I stood on deck, looking in the direction of my far-off home, I saw a speck in the distance, right in our path. I watched it intently; it grew larger and larger as we neared it, and I soon saw that it was a man-of-war. At the same time my curiosity was aroused by the general confusion on our boat, so different from the quiet of a moment before. When I asked my friend, the second mate, what it all meant, he said, "We are pursued by a hostile cruiser, and if you care for your life you had better go to the cabin." Several women on deck heard this remark, which was evidently meant for them as well as for me, and hastened downstairs. I followed them. If it was confusion on deck, it was panic in the cabin. Every face was pale with fear; some talked, others wept.
Suddenly the cabin door opened, and the burly captain walked slowly in. He uttered the word "silence" so harshly that no one dared do otherwise than obey. Then he called the men and began to give orders. Every one was willing to do his part. Some covered the name of the ship at the stern with canvas; others took the names off the bow. Each man seized the first thing he saw which resembled a gun. Three men emptied a hogshead, pulled it on deck, and beat it loudly. Across the water this sounded much like a drum. All was bustle and hurry; every one was eagerly fulfilling the orders of the captain.
My curiosity got the better of my fear and I crept upon deck again. The vessel was very near now, and the soldiers, standing with guns pointed at me, sent a shiver through my whole body.
The vessel passed us several times, but as we kept some distance from them they could find no clew to our identity, and finally, deciding that we were a man-of-war, left us unharmed.
In "An Exciting Moment" the title, as well as the subject, shows that the time is limited. In the following verses note