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Chance. v. I. intransitive. To happen; fall out; come or arrive without design or expectation.
Our discourse chanced to be upon the subject of death. — STEELE, Tatler, No. 114.
[This verb is sometimes used impersonally.
How chances it they travel? - SHAKE., "Hamlet," ii. 2.]
II. transitive. 1. To befall or happen to. [Rare.]
What would have chanced me all these years.-T. B. ALDRICH, “At
2. To risk; hazard; take the chances of. [Colloq.]
We go to a dictionary for definite information about words, just as we go to a directory to get definite information about people. We are no more justified in using a word because it is in the dictionary than we should be in calling upon a person because his name is in the directory.
One of the best habits young writers can form is to use the dictionary continually. An abridged dictionary, good as far as it goes, is by no means sufficient for a pupil of high school attainments and ambitions. In some way secure Webster's New International Dictionary, or one equally good, and keep it on your table or within arm's reach.
2. Read reputable writers. A man is known by the company he keeps. Good communications inspire good manners. Aside from the value of the thoughts of our best writers, there is a charm due to their language. Through the works that we read again and again, long after the subject matter is familiar, we unconsciously come to appreciate and to use choice English. These writers achieved distinction. Let us try to do likewise; happy at least in this, that we may use their tools.
3. Hear reputable speakers. We may learn much from men and women who use words that no educated person need misunderstand or be ashamed of. Now and then we hear some one whose very speech is charming, no matter what he says, just as we occasionally meet a person whose every movement is graceful, or another whose every act is tactful. Whenever we meet such a speaker, we should seize the opportunity to listen.
4. Be thoroughly alive. By this time it must be clear that one who is to become a good writer must be thoroughly alive. He must con his dictionary and absorb his grammar, but he should also enter with his whole soul into life. He should love life; he should steadily enrich his life; and as he records his own experiences and thoughts, he will always be eager to learn by eye and ear from others who are giving expression to their best thoughts.
We have considered the value of an unstinted supply of words. We can see that it is of prime importance to have such command of them that they will come to the front spontaneously; and we know it will encourage us if we can see that we are adding to our vocabulary day by day. We realize, however, the value of making these additions carefully, for the words that will prove helpful are those that are in good use. It should be our habit, therefore, to find out just what words mean to reputable speakers and writers in our nation at the present time. While adding to our store, we must remember that the way to make our new possessions permanent is to use them. It goes without saying that we can use them best as we talk and write about some subject that interests us; but use them we must, and use them accurately.
THE FORCIBLE WORD
"Just the right way of saying the thing that is to be said is an art more to be desired than much knowledge, and one that goes farther in making life agreeable.". The Century Dictionary.
130. The Choice of Forcible Words. A correct speaker makes himself understood. A forcible speaker not only makes himself understood, but interests his hearers in such a way that they are likely to remember what he says. A correct speaker may put his audience to sleep; a forcible speaker keeps them wide-awake. It is worth our while, then, to try to use language which is both clear and forcible. Hence we should choose simple and specific words.
131. Simple Words. The Reverend Robert Collyer has told us how he grew to like simple words. He says:
"Do you want to know how I manage to talk to you in this simple Saxon? I will tell you. I read Bunyan, Crusoe, and Goldsmith when I was a boy, morning, noon, and night. All the rest was task work. These were my delight, with the stories in the Bible and in Shakespeare, when at last the mighty master came within our doors. . . . I took to these as I took to milk, and, without the least idea what I was doing, got the taste for simple words into the very fiber of my nature. . . . I could not go home for Christmas, 1839, and was feeling sad about it all, for I was only a boy; . . . an old farmer came in and said, 'I notice thou'rt fond of reading, so I brought thee summat to read.' It was Irving's 'Sketch-Book.' I had never heard of it. I went at it and was as 'them that dream.' No such delight had touched me since the old days of Crusoe. I saw the Hudson and the Catskills, took poor Rip at once into my heart, as everybody does,
pitied Ichabod while I laughed at him, thought the old Dutch feast a most admirable thing, and long before I was through, all regret at my lost Christmas had gone down the wind, and I had found out there are books and books. That vast hunger never left me."
425. Let us see what we can learn from Bunyan. As you read aloud the following selection, dwell on those simple, telling words and phrases which please you most.
FROM "THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS "
Neither could they, with all the skill they had, get again to the stile that night. Wherefore, at last, lighting under a little shelter, they sat down there until the day brake; but, being weary, they fell asleep. Now there was not far from the place where they lay, a castle called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair; and it was in his grounds they now were sleeping. Wherefore he, getting up in the morning early, and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then, with a grim and surly voice, he bid them awake; and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds. They told him they were pilgrims, and that they had lost their way. Then said the Giant, You have this night trespassed on me, by trampling in and lying on my grounds, and therefore you must go along with me. So they were forced to go, because he was stronger than they. They also had but little to say, for they knew themselves in a fault. The Giant, therefore, drove them before him, and put them into his castle, into a very dark dungeon, nasty and stinking to the spirits of these two men. Here, then, they lay from Wednesday morning till Saturday night, without one bit of bread, or drop of drink, or light, or any to ask how they did. They were, therefore, here in evil case, and were far from friends and acquaintance. Now in this place Christian had double sorrow, because it was through his unadvised counsel they were brought into this distress.
Now Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence. So when he was gone to bed, he told his wife what he had done; to wit,
that he had taken a couple of prisoners and cast them into his dungeon, for trespassing on his grounds. Then he asked her also what he had best to do further to them. So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound; and he told her. Then she counseled him that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without any mercy. So, when he arose, he getteth him a grievous crab-tree cudgel, and goes down into the dungeon to them, and there first falls to rating of them as if they were dogs, although they never gave him a word of distaste. Then he falls upon them, and beats them fearfully, in such sort that they were not able to help themselves, or to turn them upon the floor. This done, he withdraws and leaves them there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress. So all that day they spent the time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations. The next night, she, talking with her husband about them further, and understanding they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away with themselves. So when morning was come, he goes to them in a surly manner as before, and perceiving them to be very sore with the stripes that he had given them the day before, he told them that, since they were never like to come out of that place, their only way would be forthwith to make an end of themselves, either with knife, halter, or poison; for why, said he, should you choose life, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness? But they desired him to let them go. With that he looked ugly upon them, and, rushing to them, had doubtless made an end of them himself, but that he fell into one of his fits (for he sometimes, in sunshiny weather, fell into fits), and lost for a time the use of his hand; wherefore he withdrew, and left them as before, to consider what to do. Then did the prisoners consult between themselves, whether it was best to take his counsel or no; and thus they began to discourse.
426. Make a list of the words and expressions that seem to you simple and forcible, and discuss them. Probably you will include some of the following:
Grim, surly, whence they were, in evil case, what they were, whither they were bound, beat, grievous crab-tree cudgel, falls to rating, a word of distaste, to turn them upon the floor, never like