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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.

Answer:

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 :

A HUSBAND TO HIS WIFE ON SAILING SUDDENLY FOR NORTH AMERICA.

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.

I02

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.

103

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!'

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

104

An American Courtship.

best Letter-writers and Autobiographers, Mr. Charles Knight gives an amusing example of laconic correspondence between Samuel Foote, the Aristophanes of his day, and his unfortunate mother.

DEAR SAM,-I am in prison for debt; come and assist your loving mother, E. FOOTE.

Reply:

DEAR MOTHER,-So am I, which prevents his duty being paid to his loving mother by her affectionate son, SAM. FOOTE.

I lately met with a curious account of a courtship on the other side of the Atlantic at the end of the seventeenth century, in which a very brief epistle holds a prominent place. In 1693, the Rev. Stephen Mix made a journey to Northampton in search of a wife. He arrived at the Rev. Solomon Stoddard's, and informed him of the object of his visit. Mr. Stoddard introduced him to his six daughters, and then retired. Addressing Mary, the eldest, Mr. Mix said that he had lately settled at Wethersfield, was desirous of obtaining a wife, and concluded by offering his heart and hand. The blushing damsel replied that so important a proposal

'Will You?' and Won't I?' 105

required time for consideration; and accordingly Mr. Mix left the room in order to smoke a pipe with her father, while she took the case to 'avizandum.' On her answer being sent for, she requested further time for consideration, and it was agreed that she should send her answer by letter to Wethersfield. In the course of a few weeks, Mr. Mix received her reply, which was soon followed by the wedding :

-

NORTHAMPTON, 3rd Novr. 1693. REV. STEPHEN MIX.-Yes.-MARY STODDARD.

A certain English nobleman was once so deeply in love with a 'ladye fair' that he resolved to ascertain whether she was willing to become his wife. He happened to meet the object of his affections at a crowded ball, where, however, in consequence of supposed objections on the part of her relatives, or for some other reason, he was unable to dance with her; but in the course of the evening, he contrived to slip a fragment of paper into her hand inscribed with the two words, Will you?' Not many minutes afterwards, he received from her, in a similar manner, an equally brief and perfectly intelligible reply in these words, Won't I?' It may perhaps be questioned whether a Scotch

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