Talks on Writing English
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.