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THE art of Letter Writing consists in a proper expression of those iwas, on paper, which we should convey by conversation to a person were he present; hence it follows that the more natural a letter is writ. ieu the better it is. This remark applies particularly to those which are written to friends and relations upon ordinary topics, where no great degree of accuracy is requisite. But letters on business, or other sub jects of importance should never ho penned in a hurry, and ought to be carefully revised, in order to prevent those disagreeable consequences which frequently arise from writing carelessly or in a passion.
In the following selection of letters, the publisher has endeavored to combine those adapted to every capacity; it is a mistaken notion to Fuppose that a child shows great talents by being able to write a stiff, formal letter to his parents,
however good it may be in itself; it is altogether unnatural, and whatever is unnatural is disgusting. We expect a child to write like one, and it makes him appear just as ridiculous to attempt any other style as it would to put on one of his father's coats.
Agreeably to this opinion, we have commenced srith Letters which children might be supposed, and which would be consistent for them to write, and have followed them by others in that degree in which we may suppose the mind arrives at maturity; among the latter are some finished epistles by a number of eminent men.
It must appear evident that the style of letters should always be in accordance with the condition of the person written to, and with the subject written upon. For instance, to write to a parent in the same manner that we would to a common acquaintance, or to address a per son in distress in a strain of levity, is not only highly improper, but is the latler case, is an insult.
In letters on business, people should endeavor to express their sents ments in as clear and concise a manner as possible, because persons in business have not time to read long letters, and besides, too many word. are apt to bewilder instead of informing. Many mistakes of importano occur from their ambiguity of expression; and yet, perhaps, he that use it is endeavoring to render his meaning doubly plain by explanations.
No precise rules for epistolary writing can be given to any advantage. The most prominent are these.
Think what you wish to say, and put it on paper in the words than most readily occur to your mind, always endeavoring “to use proper wordo la proper places."
In answering a letter, always attend to arıy questions or inquiries for mformation, which may have been addressed to you by your correspon. dent, before you proceed vrith your own thoughts and information.
In all letters strive to make your meaning apparent in as small a compass, as possible; people frequently occupy a page with that which might be comprised in six lines.
Avoid the introduction of too many quotations froin other authors, particularly those in a foreign language; it is a ridiculous affectation to write a Latin or French phrase when an English one would do just as well; it is as bad as talking in the technical language in one's business to a person who knows nothing about it.
Never use hard words unnecessarily; nor particular words or phrasen, too often : use as few parentheses as possible, it is a clumsy way of dis.. posing of a sentence, and often embarrasses the reader.
Correct spelling and good grammar are so essential to fine writing, that the absence of them destroys the force of the best sentiments.
Nothing is more generally admired than handsome penmanship; and although some physicians, lawyers and others may endeavor to excuse their bad writing by calling it unfashionable to write well and legiole depend upon it that it is an absurd and unreasonable practice.
If you write to a stranger, sign your name fairly and in full; and direct your letter, if it goes by mail, with precision as to state, cauty and town.
UNIVERSAL LETTER WRITER.
From a young lad at a boarding-school in the country to his
brother, un apprentice in New York. DEAR CHARLES,
Little master Billy Thompson is going to New York tomorrow in she stage, and I have sent this by him to you. We are all well at school, and I have got as far as Ovid; I have likewise got through the rules of practice, of which I shall give you a better account when I come to town on the fourth of July. Dear brother, give my duty to papa and mamma, and tell them I long to see them ; I pray for them and you every day; and I have read over the Complete Duty of Man, wbich my manima gave me. I spend an hour every day in reading Dr. Goldsmith's Roman History. Pray Charles, send me some books, for I am very fond of reading ; and a neat red pocket book, and I shall do more for you when I leave school.
I am your loving brolher.
I received your kind letter, and am glad to hear you are well, as also of the progress you make in learning. I read your letter to your papa and mamma, and they are much pleased with it. Bill Thompson dines at our house tomorrow, and he will bring you this. Your father has sent you three dollars ; and as you are so fond of books, I have sent you Rollin's Belles Lettres. Mr. Austin, our priest, says, that although all sorts of history are useful, yet he thinks you should begin with that of your own country; and he has sent you a present of Gordon's History of America. I have sent you the pocket book, and some other things, which you will find sealed up in the parcel. We all beg at you will continue to persevere as you have begun, in an uniform Bourse of virtile.
I am, dear brother, gours affectionately
From a young Miss to her parents. I HOPE that my dear papa and mamma will excuse the badness of the writing of this letter, when they shall be pleased to recollect, thao this is my first attempt since I have learned to join my letters together. I have long been anxious to have the pleasure of being able to write to you, and beg you will be pleased to accept this my first bumble offering. As my constant study ever has been, so shall it continue to be, to convince you how much I am, my dearest parents,
Your most affectionate and dutiful daughter
LETTER 4. From the same to her Parents on another occasion. My dear papa and mamma will be pleased to accept of my most respectfud coinpliments on the cluse of the old and commencement of the new year
As it has pleased God to give you good health during the course of the last year, I beseech him to grant you the same to the end of the present, and many more. This is a happiness your family hart most earnestly to wish for, and in particular
Your most humble and dutiful daughter.
You seem to make good the old proverb, “Out of sight, out of mind.” It is now two months since I received a letter from you, and you appear to forget that we little maids do not like to be treated with neglect. You must not pretend to tell me that however fond you may be of your books, you could not find leisure to write me in all this time. They tell me that you spend a great part of your leisure time with a little miss of about eight years of age, with whom you are very fond of reading and conversing. Take care, if I find she is withdrawing your affection from me, that I do not cone down, and pull her cap for her. As for yourself, if you were within the reach of my little tongue, I would give you such a peal as should make you remember it for some time to come. However, if you will write to me soon, I may possibly forgive all that is past, and still consider myself as
Your most affectionate sister
Answer to the preceding. DZAR SISTER,
I am very sorry, that I have given you so much reason to complain of my neglect of writing to you; but be assured, ihat my aflections for you are the same they ever were. I readily confess, that the young la. dy you complain of, has in surue measure been the cause of it: Slie is as fond of reading as I am, and I believe lures you un II incronit;
it then, possible my sister can be displeased with one so amlable. I dia not tell her what you threatened her with : but I am sure, were you to come bere on that errand, instead of pulling her cap, you would embrace and love her. As to what you say respecting your little tongue, I promise you I do not wish to come within reach of the sound of it, when anger sets it in motion. As this is the only thing which can render my sister less agreeable, I shall be very cautious to avoid setting the Jittle alarum in motion, especially when I shall pay you a visit. I have bought you a most brilliant doll, which I shall bring up with me when I come to Hudson.
Your most affectionate brother.
LETTER 7. From a Brother to a Sister in the country, upbraiding her for
being negligent in writing. MY DEAR SISTER,
I write to you to acquaint you how unkindly we all take it here, that you do not write oftener to us, in relation to your health, diversion, and employments in the country. You cannot be insensible how much you are beloved by us all; judge then if you do well to omit giving us the satisfaction absence affords to true friends, which is, often to hear from one another. My mother is highly displeased with you, and says you are a very idle girl; my aunt is of the same opinion, and I would fain, like a loving brother, excuse you if I could. Pray, for the future take care to deserve a better character, and by writing soon, and often, put at in my power to say what a good sister I have for you shall always
Your most affectionate brother.
I am ashamed I stayed to be reminded of my duty by my brother's kind letter. I will offer no excuse for myself for not writing oftener, though I have been strangely taken up by the kindness and favor of your good friends here, particularly my aunt'Willet: for well do I know that my duty to my honored mother ought to take place of all other considerations. All I beg therefore is, that you will be so good as to forgive me, on promise of amendment, and to procure forgiveness also of my aunt Greenough and all friends. Believe me, madam, when I say that no diversions here or elsewhere shall make me forget the duty owe to so good a inother, and such kind relations; and that I sball ever
Your gratefully dutiful daughter. P.S. My aunt and cousins desire their kind love to you, and due respects to all friends.
From a Fulher to his Son at school. MY DEAR CHILD,
I could not give a more convincing proof of my affection for you, that a sulunitting to send you to so great a distance from nie. I preferred