21 JULY 1866, Page 22

English Composition and Rhetoric. By Alexander Bain, M.A. (Long- mans.)—Professor

Bain, in publishing this little manual, is quite aware of the difficulty of the task that he has set himself to accomplish. All that the teacher can do for the pupil in the matter of English composi- tion is to set before him certain rules that shall enable him to discrimi- nate between what is good and what is bad ; he cannot teach him to construct—that must come from the practice of a life. And in laying down the rates in question he is in danger of expressing them in such vague and inapprehensible terms that they shall be useless for all pur- /yeses of application. We cannot say that the professor has always avoided this tendency, but he has taken pains to do so ; and has cer- tainly produced a book that is pregnant with useful suggestions, and wilt be eminently useful for purposes of education in the hands of a judicious. instructor. He divides his work into two parts, the first relating to composition in general, the second to its five leading kinds—description, narrative, exposition, oratory, and poetry. In the earlier portion he dis- cusses the figures of speech, the qualities of style, and the principles. governing the structure of the sentence and the paragraph. Finally, he. subjoins a number of extracts from celebrated authors, which he analyzes with great nicety, pointing out the merits and defects, and thus showing in exercise the principles and rules that had been laid down in the body of the volume.