Considerable surprise was occasioned, among the sophomores, by the fact that one of the instructors in themes had lowered the marks of his division in order to make them conform to a standard adopted by the other instructor in the same course. The question naturally arises, why did not the latter instructor raise his marks in order to make them conform to the standard adopted by his colleague?
While all will acknowledge that undoubted advantages are derived from the writing of themes, the system of invariably giving low marks, the custom of correcting an exercise until it resembles a map of Ancient Greece or a Chinese wash-bill, certainly has its bad results.
A man finally becomes so timid that he hardly dares to write a line, unless surrounded by dictionaries, grammars, rhetorics, a "thesaurus," books of synonyms, etc. His spontaneity disappears; he looks upon originality as something for which he must never make the slightest attempt, and he comes to think he has attained the ideal when his writing reads like a catalogue, and when he has acquired a style, which, from its lack of individuality, is no style at all.