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to Sir Walter Scott.
quainted with all my family. You say you almost love him; but until your almost comes to a quite, I cannot
Before I conclude this famous epistle, I will give you a little hint-that is, not to put so many musts in your letters ; it is beginning rather too soon; and another thing is, that I take the liberty not to mind them much, but I expect you mind me. You must take care of yourself ; you must think of me, and believe me, yours sincerely,
Again, the following day :-
I have only a minute before the post goes, to assure you, my dear sir, of the welcome reception of the stranger. The very great likeness to a friend of mine will endear him to me; he shall be my constant companion, but I wish he could give me an answer to a thousand questions I have to make—one in particular, What reason have you for so many fears you express ? Have your friends changed ! Pray let me know the truth--they perhaps don't like me being French. Do write immediately—let it be in better spirits. Et croyezmoi toujours votre sincère
A few weeks later—about a fortnight before the happy day—she thus expatiates :
If I could but really believe that my letter gave you only half the pleasure you express, I should almost think, my dearest Scott, that I should get very fond of writing merely for the pleasure to indulge you—that is saying a great deal. I hope you are sensible of the compliment I pay you; I don't expect I shall always be so pretty behaved. You may depend on me, my dearest
1 A miniature of Scott.
An Undecided Admirer.
friend, for fixing as early a day as I possibly can ; and if it happens to be not quite so soon as you wish, you must not be angry with me. It is very unlucky you are such a bad housekeeper, as I am no better. I shall try. I hope to have very soon the pleasure of seeing you, and to tell you how much I love you ; but I wish the first fortnight was over. With all my love, and those sort of pretty things, adieu !
CHARLOTTE. P.S.-Etudiez votre Français. Remember you are to teach me Italian in return, but I shall be but a stupid scholar. Aimez Charlotte.
In Southey's Life of the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, author of the Madras System of Education, there are no fewer than three short letters to the learned divine, from an undecided admirer, all written on the same day, which may be given in order to dispel the popular belief that, in matters of the heart, inconstancy is confined to the male sex :
February 27, 1793. DEAR SIR,—I have a favour to ask you—If you would accompany me so far as Conjeveram at any time it is your leisure, and there I shall beg of you to perform a solemn ceremony. It is a serious one, indeed. What do you say? Yes or no is to marry me.-Yours obediently.
February 27, 1793. DEAR SIR,-Upon reflection, I have changed my mind as to what I have wrote you. I beg you will not mention anything about it.—Yours truly.
Byron on his Marriage.
February 27, 1793. DEAR SIR,—I thank you for your letter of this morning. Indeed, I have such confidence in you that I am perfectly satisfied. You will think me an odd woman, perhaps, and I confess I am so.-Adieu !-Your most obliged.
Lord Byron's amusing epistle to the Countess of
in which he announces the unfortunate marriage that has lately been connected with so much sensational excitement, must close my illustrations of amatory and matrimonial correspondence.
ALBANY, October 5th, 1814. DEAR LADY,-. Your recollection and invitation do me great honour; but I am going to be married and cannot come.' My intended is 200 miles off, and the moment my business here is arranged, I must set off in a great hurry to be happy. Miss Milbanke is the goodnatured person who has undertaken me, and, of course, I am very much in love, and as silly as all single gentlemen must be in that sentimental tuation. I have been accepted these three weeks ; but when the event will take place I don't exactly know. It depends partly upon lawyers, who are never in a hurry. One can be sure of nothing, but at present there seems to be no other interruption to this intention, which seems as mutual as possible, and now no secret, though I did not tell first, and all our relations are congratulating away to right and left, in the most fatiguing manner. You perhaps know the lady. She is niece to Lady Melbourne, and cousin to Lady Cowper, and others of your acquaintance, and 132
has no fault, except being a great deal too good for me, and that I must pardon if nobody else should. It might have been two years ago, and, if it had, would have saved me a world of trouble. She has employed the interval in refusing about half-a-dozen of my particular friends (as she did me once, by the way), and has taken me at last ; for which I am very much obliged to her. I wish it was all well over, for I hate bustle, and there is no marrying without some; and then I must not marry in a black coat, they tell me, and I can't bear a blue one. Pray forgive me for scribbling all this nonsense. You know I must be serious all the rest of my life, and this is a parting piece of buffoonery, which I write with tears in my eyes, expecting to be agitated.—Believe me, most seriously and sincerely, your obliged servant,
Juvenile correspondence—including letters to as well as from young persons—constitutes an amusing branch of my subject, and may here be briefly referred to. Although not, of course, possessed of high literary merit, nor remarkable for logical arrangement, the letters of boys and girls are generally at least natural and unrestrained—the unvarnished, outspoken language of warm and open hearts. As their leading characteristics, I may specify the combination of incoherent subjects, sudden and startling Juvenile Letters.
transitions, the capricious use of capital letters, and the total absence of punctuation ; to say nothing of the questionable orthography which they pretty frequently exhibit. In the absence of actual examples, I cannot do better than refer to two choice effusions from the pen of Dick Davenal, one of the heroes in Oswald Cray, with whom most readers of Good Words must be familiar. The two letters in question were respectively addressed to Miss Davenal, the aunt, and Miss Sara Davenal, the cousin, of the youthful writer. The address to the former bore evident marks of care, while that to Sara was scarcely legible. The handwriting of the letters themselves, however, did not correspond with their respective superscriptions. In short, they had been accidentally transposed, and the letter intended exclusively for Sara's eyes fell into the hands of her aunt Bettina! The contrast in the style of the two epistles is very laughable ; the one (intended for Sara) being the genuine letter of the light-hearted schoolboy; the other, formal in its tone, and evidently dictated by the master, commencing, ‘My dear and respected aunt,' and subscribed, Your most sincere and respectful nephew, Richard