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Sir Richard Steele.


letters to Varina and Vanessa are introduced, and not even a single specimen of those addressed to Stella, which are usually considered his best, if not his only love-letters.

The style of the love-letters of the beginning of the eighteenth century may be gathered from the imaginary epistles in the novels and essays of that period-more particularly the Tatler and the Spectator. The latter of these also contains several of Steele's actual letters to his future wife, Mary Scurlock, the Andromache' of the Spectator, which have been well described as 'masterpieces of ardour and respect, of tender passion and honest feeling, of good sense and earnestness, as well as of playful sweetness.' Steele's Epistolary Correspondence' is remarkably free from the character of 'Composition Letters,' and that air of solemn declamation which is to be found in most of the familiar letters of Pope and other eminent persons of the eighteenth century.


September 25th, 1761.

MADAM,-It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend business. As for me, all that speak to me find me out; and I must lock myself up, or other

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people will do it for me. A gentleman asked me this morning, 'What news from Holland?' and I answered, She's exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know when I had been last at Windsor. I replied, 'She designs to go with me.' Prythee, allow me at least to kiss your hand before the appointed day, that my mind may be in some composure. Methinks I could write a volume to you, but all the language on the earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I am ever yours, etc.

In one of his contributions to the Tatler, the author of the preceding effusion inculcates the propriety of being 'as near what you speak face to face as you can,' in the concoction of loveletters; and indicates, as his decided opinion, that writing has lost more mistresses than any one mistake in the whole legend of love. 'When you write to a lady,' he says, 'for whom you have a solid and honourable passion, the great idea you have of her, joined to a quick sense of her absence, fills your mind with a sort of tenderness that gives your language too much the air of complaint, which is seldom successful. For a man may flatter himself as he pleases, but he will find that the women have more understanding in their own affairs than we have, and women of spirit are not to be won by mourners. He that can keep hand

Rousseau's Recommendation.


somely within rules, and support the carriage of a companion to his mistress, is much more likely to prevail than he who lets her see that the whole relish of his life depends upon her. If possible, therefore, divert your mistress rather than sigh for her. The pleasant man she will desire for her own sake; but the languishing lover has nothing to hope from, but her pity.'

Rousseau used to say that to write a good love-letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written. Probably a good many lovers act upon this principle; and if their effusions are not always of a very high stamp, they are at least not quite so ridiculous as another well-known class of more laboured epistles, abounding in allusions to flowers and sunshine, and for which, by the way, a writer in the Saturday Review has the audacity to say the ladies are chiefly responsible. The first

thing,' he says, 'that a woman likes when she is being courted, is to be called something like what amateur musicians are always calling one another in duets. She is quite willing to be a bee, or a bird, or a lily; but it is de rigueur that she should be either in the ornithological or the


Viva Voce Declarations.

botanical line. It is all very well if the lover happens to have been a little in the duet way too. He can, in this case, understand the feeling, and nerve himself without much difficulty to respond to it. But if he is entirely ignorant about birds and botany, his task becomes more serious. He has the humiliation of being obliged to confine himself entirely to calling his future wife an angel or a goddess, according as he is most addicted to classical or to Christian mythology; while the mortifying thought cannot fail to strike him that both appellations are a little elevated and a little trite.' The same critic considers that in these days of rapid locomotion, love-letters ought to be regarded as an anachronism; and in suggesting the substitution of a viva voce declaration in the shape of either a personal interview or a serenade, he refers to the celebrated letter of Penelope to her absent lord.1 As I have already indicated, however, a systematic correspondence seems still to be regarded as part and parcel of every properly conducted courtship, and the facilities afforded by our modern postal arrangements


1 Hanc tua Penelope lento tibi mittit, Ulysse.

Nil mihi rescribas attamen ipse veni!'

A Sculptor's Love-Letter.


are no doubt calculated to extend the practice.

The following serio-comic incident was related a few years ago in a Parisian newspaper :-'In the street of Cherche-Midi there exists a little eating-house, known under the name of Cabaret de la Mère Rigault, and much frequented by engravers and sculptors. It is kept by an amiable young widow, who received, a few days ago, from one of her customers, a sculptor, named Auguste R., the following curious letter:

""DIVINE PEBBLE,1-Were you not harder than porphyry or agate, the chisel of my love, guided by the mallet of my fidelity, would have made some impression upon you. I, who have given every form to the roughest materials, had hoped that with the compass of reason, the saw of constancy, the fine file of friendship, and the polish of my words, I should have made of you one of the prettiest statues in the world. But, alas! you are but an insensible stone; and yet you fire my soul, yourself remaining cold as marble. Have pity on me ; I longer know what I say or do. When I have a dragon to sculpture it is Cupid that rises under my chisel. Dear column of my hopes, pedestal of my happiness, cornice


1 The commencement of the poor sculptor's letter will no doubt remind the reader of the famous epistle in Peregrine Pickle which Tom Pipes procured from the village schoolmaster, beginning with the words, 'Divine Empress of my Soul.'

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