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the humbler Classes.
leaves us at preasant'-a very creditable translation of 'Si vales, gaudeo; ego valeo.' Perhaps the most objectionable characteristic of these unpretending epistles is the superfluous statement with which they almost invariably close: No more at present, but remains, etc.' It must be frankly acknowledged, however, that a stereotyped conclusion is by no means an unusual feature in letters of a more ambitious kind.
In her well-known work entitled English Hearts and English Hands, Miss Marsh introduces a number of characteristic letters which she received from some of the 'navvies' employed at the erection of the Crystal Palace (in whose welfare she had taken a warm and active interest), after they had joined the ranks of the British Army on the eve of the Crimean War. She explains, in her Preface, that in the first instance these letters were sent to press untouched; but on further consideration it was deemed due to the surviving writers to correct mis-spelt words, leaving all else intact.'
The following letter, addressed by a sailor to his brother, is a charming specimen of the rough and ready' style. The determined
A Sailor's Epistle.
manner in which the writer sticks to the main point of his epistle is highly amusing :
WARREN HASTINGS, EAST INDIAMAN,
Off Gravesend, 24th March.
DEAR BRO' TOM,-This cums hopeing to find you in good helth as it leaves me safe ankord here yesterday at 4 P.M. arter a plesent vyage tolerable short and few squalls. Dear Tom, hopes to find poor old father stout, am quite out of pigtail. Sights of pigtail at Gravesend, but unfortinly not fit for a dog to chor. Dear Tom, captain's boy will bring you this and put pigtail in his pocket when bort. Best in London at the blackboy 7 diles, where go, ax for best pigtail, pound a pigtail will do. And am short of shirts. Dear Tom, as for shirts onley took 2, whereof I is quite wore out and t'other most, but don't forget the pigtail, as I arnt had nere a quid to chor never sins Thursday. Dear Tom as for the shirts your size will do only longer. I liks um long, got one at present, best at Tower hill and cheap, but be pertickler to go to 7 diles for the pigtail at the blackboy and Dear Tom ax for a pound of best pigtail and let it be good. Captain's boy will put the pigtail in his pocket, he likes pigtail so tie it up. Dear Tom shall be up about Monday or there abouts. Not so perticler for the shirts as the present can be washed, but don't forget the pigtail without fail, so am your lovein brother,
P.S.-Don't forget the pigtail.1
Numerous letters are received in the public department with which I am connected from persons in humble life, usually in the form of applications for extracts of births, deaths, or 1 See Appendix No. IV.
marriages. Not a few of these are curiosities in their way; and it sometimes requires a good deal of ingenuity to discover the precise object of the 'unlettered' writers. The following may be given as an example of what is not a very common occurrence, to wit, a man deliberately writing to announce his own death and burial! It was probably presumed that the object of the 'Pensioneer' was to procure a certificate of his son's death; and the mysterious communication was doubtless answered accordingly:
TO THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL.
M- May 16/65.
SIR, This is iform you that I Henry D- Pensioneer M- the Farther of Thomas D- of Edinbourgh Died on the 19th April 1865 and Burred on the 23 and the Effects that belongs to Me as I am the nearest Heir to him when alive I have sent you all information as I am his Farther Please to send me answer by returne of Post by so doing you Oble.
B. Direct for Henry D
Back Lane East M- Pensioneer.
If the art of letter-writing is now an all but universal accomplishment, no less universal is the patronage of photographic portraiture, in the shape of cartes-de-visite; and it is impossible to pass through the smallest country town without one's attention being arrested by a
prominent frame filled with a perfect gallery of local celebrities, in every rank of life. About three years ago, I happened to come across a very solicitous epistle from a Midlothian farm-servant to a well-known photographer in the Scottish metropolis, which appears to be worthy of a place in these pages:
Abriel 26th, 1865.
DARE SIR,-i write to you in order to see if you are going to Send my cards devisit or not for there is kno excuse for dull wether this mounth back for it has ben Good wether for other People geting theres doun so if you intend to get my wones reddy sends them to me as quick as posoble for i have looked for them this last mounth or if you dont send my cards you mus send the money for i have wated till i can wate no longer and if you dont send eathere the wone or the other i (then follows a full stop). so i will look for a ansure this week so i close and ramain your truelay JOHN M-,
The following epistle addressed by a West Highland tenant to his landlord's chamberlain, is a very amusing specimen of Celtic indignation. In order to be thoroughly appreciated, it requires to be read with that peculiar nasal intonation by which the large majority of our countrymen to the north of the Clyde and the Tay are more or less distinguished:
B-, 30th July 1853.
HONOURED SIR,-I had Great Cause to Build My mind Upon Your Word in any thing you Would promish me and still Rely on The same Untill you Deny the promish To me of The half of The Widows Lot Now if you have Given It to that Subtil Hypocrite D— N- Who has Been an Usurping tyrant All his Days feathering his nest At other Peoples Coat tails and The Greedy Giddy Gatherlage his Son in Law after They took Pocession at S-Cut peats and Sent Part of Their Stock there But They are Both able Enough to Butter The Roughest Lyes polish it to Smooth Truth To any Unacquainted Person and if it be the case that they Got it this Farm shall never be in peace with Them And They may Well Brag and Vaunt as They were all The Season That They had The factor Under Their Lee bow To Give Them any Thing They would Demand Besides it will open a Door for All maner of Bad vices among them They are not fit To occupy Both at S and B- The Upshot will be a Subset among them That will Encourage others The people of M― had a great Disgust at them And the people of 5 peny B if they come among them shall Never have peace with Them If I had gotten The Denyal at first I would think it no Disapointment But now I shall Conclude In the holy Psalmists Words That Blessed is He that Doth the Poor man's Case Consither
And with Due Respects Remains Your Honour's Obt. Servt. D-M-.
J. M-M-, Esq.
Chamberlain of L-.
While on the subject of indignant letters, I embrace the opportunity of tendering a word of