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What for all time will the harvest be, Sister?
What will spring up from the seed that is sown?
- FREDERICK GEORGE SCOTT: To France.
I In what line do you find the topic of each stanza of these poems?
Show how each stanza is built around its topic.
Explain how the two questions in the first stanza of To France are really only one question. Do the same for the second stanza.
Show how the topics in each stanza of the two poems follow a natural order. Change the order and note the difference.
FINDING PARAGRAPH TOPICS
In all the preceding chapters, except the last, the paragraph topics have been written out for you; but it will be a better training for you if you will think out and write out the topics for yourselves. Here are two selections, each of which seems to me a little masterpiece. The paragraphs are well built, each seeming to enfold its topic as a peach enfolds its seed or a walnut its kernel. In the first paragraph studied in this book, the exact words of the topic were found in the first sentence. There is of course no rule to be followed. The exact words may not occur anywhere in the paragraph. If they do, use them at once; if they do not, express the subject in your own way.
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes says that in every one of us there are two persons. First, there is yourself, and then there is the Other Fellow! Now, one of these is all the time doing things, and the other sits inside and tells what he thinks about the performance. Thus, I do so-and-so; but the Other Fellow sits in judgment on me all the time.
I may tell a lie, and do it so cleverly that the people may think that I have done or said a great or good thing; and they may shout my praises far and wide. But the Other Fellow sits inside, and says, “You lie! you're a sneak, and you know it!” I tell him to shut up, to hear what the people say about me; but he only continues to repeat over and over again, “You lie! you lie! You're a sneak, and you know it !”
Or, again, I may do a really noble deed, but perhaps be misunderstood by the public, who may persecute me and say
all manner of evil against me, falsely; but the Other Fellow will sit inside
"Never mind, old boy! It's all right! stand by!” And I would rather hear the “well done” of the Other Fellow than the shouts of praise of the whole world; while I would a thousand times rather that the people should shout and hiss themselves hoarse with rage and envy, than that the Other Fellow should
sit inside and say, “You lie! you lie! You're a sneak, and you know it!”
WILLIAM HAWLEY SMITH: The Other Fellow.
The following address on Margins, admirable alike in thought and expression, was delivered by James A. Garfield as a chapel talk before the students of Hiram College:
I was thinking, young ladies and gentlemen, as I sat here this morning, that life is almost wholly made up of margins. The bulk itself of almost anything is not what tells; that exists anyway. That is expected. That is not what gives the profit or makes the distinguishing difference. The grocer cares little for the great bulk of the price of his tea. It is the few cents between the cost and the selling price, which he calls the “margin,” that particularly interests him. “Is this to be great or small ?” is the thing of importance. Millions of dollars change hands in our great marts of trade just on the question of margins. This same thing is all-important in the subject of thought. One mind is not greater than another, perhaps, in the great bulk of its contents; but its margin is greater, that's all. I may know just as much as you
do about the general details of a subject, but you can go just a little farther than I can. You have a greater margin than I. You can tell me of some single thought just beyond where I have gone. Your margin has got me. I must succumb to your superiority.
A good way to carry out the same idea, and better illustrate it, is by globes. Did you ever see globes whose only difference was that one had half an inch larger diameter than the other? This larger one, although there is so little difference, will entirely inclose the other, and have a quarter of an inch in every direction to spare besides. Let these globes be minds, with a living principle of some kind at their centers, which throws out its little tentacle-like arms in every direction as radii to explore for knowledge. The one goes a certain distance and stops. It can reach no farther. It has come to a standstill. It has reached its maximum of knowledge in that direction. The other sends its arms out, and can reach just a quarter of an inch farther. So far as the first mind is able to tell, the other has gone infinitely farther than it can reach. 'It goes out to its farthest limit and must stop; the other tells him things he did not know before. Many minds you may consider wonderful in their capacity. They may be able to go only a quarter of an inch beyond you. What an incentive this should be for any young man to work, to make this margin as great as, if not greater than, the margin of his fellows.
I recall a good illustration of this when I was at college. A certain young man was leading the class in Latin. I thought I was studying hard. I couldn't see how he got the start of us all so. To us he seemed to have an infinite knowledge. He knew more than we did. Finally, one day, I asked him when he learned his Latin lesson. “At night," he replied. I learned mine at the same time. His window was not far from mine, and I could see him from my own. I had finished my lesson the next night as well as usual, and, feeling sleepy, was about to go to bed. I happened to saunter to my window, and there I saw my classmate still bending diligently over his book. “There's where he gets the margin on me," I thought. “But he shall not have it for once," ,
, I resolved. “I will study just a little longer to-night than he does.” So I took my books again, and, opening to the lesson, went to work with renewed vigor. I watched for the light to go out in my classmate's room. In fifteen minutes it was all dark. “There is his margin," I thought. It was fifteen minutes more time. It was hunting out fifteen minutes more of rules and root-derivatives. How often, when a lesson is well prepared, just five minutes spent in perfecting it will make one the best in the class. The margin in such a case as that is very small, but it is all-important. The world is made up of little things.
- JAMES A. GARFIELD: Margins.
1. Who is the Other Fellow? 2. What'two kinds of actions does he pass judgment on? 3. In the second selection what is meant by “the margin”? 4. What two illustrations are given?
Write out in your own words the topics of the paragraphs in the first selection.
Find the topic of the last paragraph in the second selection.
PLANNING A COMPOSITION BY PARAGRAPH TOPICS
Never begin to write a composition until you have planned the whole. It may be a very brief outline, but without an outline of some sort you will not know how to start or how to stop. The same is true of speeches. However short your speech may be, if you have decided on your beginning and your main "points" and your ending, you can hardly help making a good talk. If you fail, it will probably be