“Didn’t you like the lecture?” we asked.
“I cannot understand,” he complained, “why as intelligent a man as Hubbard should split his infinitives.”
Naturally, a man with a mind like this could not construct a plot or outline an article. His writings, like his conversations, were long drawn out, meandering and painfully tiresome recitations of trifling and, for the most part, irrelevant detail.
We counselled him to lay aside his pen and take hold of plow handles instead. He has since become a successful farmer, perfectly happy, working out all the infinitude of minutiae in connection with the intensive cultivation of small fruits.
Still another phase of this problem is presented by the case of N.J.F. This man also wanted to be an editor and writer. He was a big, fine-looking fellow, fairly well educated, had some ability in written expression, and frequent good ideas. With his aptitudes, training, and talents, it seemed, at first sight, that he certainly ought to be able to succeed in an editorial capacity. Further examination showed, however, a lamentable lack of discrimination, a deficient sense of the fitness of things, and consequently, unreliable judgment. These deficiencies are worse than handicaps to an editor. They are absolute disqualifications. An editor’s first duty is to discriminate, to sift, to winnow the few grains of wheat out of the bushels of chaff that come to his mill. Editors must have a very keen sense of the fitness of things. It is true that the discriminating reader of newspapers and magazines may be tempted to feel at times that this sense of the fitness of things is very rare in editors. Unquestionably, it could be improved in many cases, and yet, on the whole, it must be admitted that newspaper and magazine editors perform at least one important function with a very fair degree of acceptability, namely, they purvey material which is at least interesting to the particular class of readers to whom they wish to appeal. If readers could be induced to wade through for a week the masses of uninteresting material which is submitted, they would doubtless have far greater respect for the intelligence, criticism, peculiarities, and sense of fitness of things of the editors.