Page images

A Naval Victory.


Mediterranean under Sir George Byng, who was ultimately compelled to execute the ample powers with which he had been invested. He accordingly engaged the Spanish squadron near the coast of Sicily, and took seven large ships, while eight others were captured by Captain Walton, who had been detached from the main fleet. The gallant captain sent the following terse announcement of his victory to the Admiral :


Off Syracuse, August 16, 1718.

To Admiral Sir George Byng.


SIR, We have taken and destroyed all the Spanish ships and vessels which were upon the coast. number as per margin.—And I am, etc.,


On one occasion, when Sir Walter Scott was in the company of the late Miss Catherine Sinclair, knowing that she was descended through her mother from Alexander, first Lord Macdonald, he began jocularly to disparage the claims of that family, the Macdonalds of Sleat, or Slate, as he affected to call them, after an obscure parish in the Isle of Skye. 'Well, Sir Walter,' said Miss Sinclair, say what you please, you will always find the slates at the


Sleat v. Glengarry.

top of the house!' She then added, ‘Did you ever hear of my uncle's reply when Glengarry wrote to say that he could prove himself the chief of the Macdonalds? "My dear Glengarry, As soon as you can prove yourself to be my chief, I shall be ready to acknowledge you ; in the meantime, I am yours, MACDONALD."' 'That letter,' exclaimed Sir Walter, 'is the most pointed that I ever heard or read of.'

The letter which the brave and proud Countess of Dorset addressed to the secretary of Charles II., in answer to a communication in which he pressed on her notice a candidate for Appleby, is a characteristic specimen :

I have been bullied by a usurper, I have been neglected by a Court, but I will not be dictated to by a subject. Your man shan't stand.


1 A recent contributor to Notes and Queries refers to a silver medal of 'the triple countess,' who thus quaintly describes herself in her own True Memorial:-'The colour of mine eyes was black, and the form and aspect of them was quick and lively, like my mother's. The hair of my head was brown and very thick, and so long that it reached to the calf of my legs when I stood upright; with a peak of hair on my forehead, and a dimple on my chin; like my father, full cheeks; and round face like my mother; and an exquisite shape of body, resembling my father. But now time and age have long since ended all those beauties, which are to be compared to the grass of the field.'

Every Dog has his day. ΙΟΙ

Laconic Letters.

Laconic epistles are naturally suggested by quaint and pithy ones. The name of Dorset reminds me of an amusing correspondence between two noble lords-the date of which I am unable to specify-somewhat in the following terms :

MY DEAR DORSET,-I have just been married, and am the happiest dog alive. (Signed) BERKELEY.


MY DEAR BERKELEY,-Every dog has his day!

(Signed) DORSET.

Perhaps I ought to state that my authority for this correspondence is a bachelor of more than seventy summers!

From the same source I have received several other good examples of laconic letters, some of which I shall here introduce :


MY DEAR WIFE,-I am going to North America.Your affectionate husband.

To which she thus replied:

MY DEAR HUSBAND, I wish you a happy voyage.— Your affectionate wife.


So-ho and So-so.

A young man when at college addressed his uncle, on whose liberality he entirely depended, as follows:

MY DEAR UNCLE,-Ready for the needful.-Your affectionate nephew.

To which the uncle replied:

MY DEAR NEPHEW,-The needful is not ready.-Your affectionate uncle.

Mr. James Sibbald, editor of the Chronicles of Scottish Poetry, was a man of eccentricity and humour. For three or four years he resided in London, without ever letting his Scotch friends know anything of his proceedings, or even where he lived. At last his brother, a Leith merchant, found means to get a letter conveyed to him, the object of which was to inquire into his circumstances, and to ask where he resided. Sibbald sent the following laconic reply :

DEAR BROTHER,—I live in So-ho, and my business is so-so.-Yours, JAMES SIBBALD.

A young gentleman, on going to sea, was presented with a handsome pocket-Bible by his aunt, who desired him, whenever he was in want, to look into his Bible. After being some time from home, he found it necessary to write

A Well-read Bible.


to his aunt for a supply of money, and she answered him thus:

MY DEAR NEPHEW,-Look into your Bible.-Your affectionate aunt.

He wrote to her repeatedly on the same subject, and in still more urgent terms; but he could never draw from her any other answer than

MY DEAR NEPHEW,-Look into your Bible.-Your affectionate aunt.

At last the young man returned home in despair; and on being asked, in reply to his complaints, whether he had looked into his Bible, 'Oh, yes! every day in the world; but could the Bible fill an empty purse?' His aunt then begged him to produce it, and on going to his trunk, she found it in the same corner and in same position as it was when he left, unopened and unread. On taking it up and opening it, she showed him a ten-pound note pinned to one leaf, a twenty-pound to another, a fiftypound to a third, etc., and observed to the astonished youth, 'My dear nephew, you have looked into your Bible to great purpose!'

In the second series of his recent and most interesting work entitled Half-hours with the

« PreviousContinue »