Page images


Painful Experiences.


What his brother has done to him would have broken anybody else's heart. His brother went into business with him, and ran away with the money ; his brother got him to be security for an immense sum, and left him to pay it ; his brother would have given him employment to the tune of hundreds a year, if he would have consented to write letters on a Sunday ; his brother enunciated principles incompatible with his religious views, and he could not (in consequence) permit his brother to provide for him. His landlord has never shown a spark of human feeling. When he put in that execution I don't know, but he has never taken it out. The broker's man has grown grey in possession. They will have to bury him some day.

Once he wrote me rather a special letter, proposing relief in kind. He had got into a little trouble by leaving parcels of mud done up in brown paper, at people's houses, on pretence of being a railway-porter, in which character he received carriage-money. This sportive fancy he expiated in the House of Correction. Not long after his release, and on a Sunday morning, he called with a letter (having first dusted himself all over), in which he gave me to understand that, being resolved to earn an honest livelihood, he had been travelling about the country with a cart of crockery. That he had been doing pretty well until the day before, when his horse had dropped down dead near Chatham, in Kent. That this had reduced him to the unpleasant necessity of getting into the shafts himself, and drawing the cart of crockery to London—a somewhat exhausting pull of thirty miles. That he did not venture to ask again for money ; but that if I would have the goodness to leave him out a donkey, he would call for the animal before breakfast !'

The science of epistolary fraud has very lately Trans-Atlantic Villany.


reached an alarming point of refinement in the doings of a consummate villain on the other side of the Atlantic, bearing the name of Sprague. Not content with deceiving the living, in accordance with the practice of the ordinary impostor, this accomplished scoundrel has, for years, been successfully assaulting the reputation of the dead. His diabolical course of procedure appears to have been to watch the announcements of death in the obituary of the Times, and to appeal to the susceptibilities of widows and executors by transmitting a fictitious application for assistance, addressed to the deceased, in behalf of an alleged illegitimate child or a betrayed victim. His letters are said to have been so skilfully concocted that, in numerous instances, his nefarious scheme proved completely successful; but it is consoling to learn that, through the combined energy of an English gentleman and an American detective, Mr. Sprague is now enjoying a little leisure within the walls of a Philadelphia prison.

Guides to Letter-Writing. The reduction of thought and labour to a minimum appears to be one of the grand



Guides to Letter-Writing.

objects of this luxurious age. Baby-jumpers and perambulators, copying-presses and pen and pencil menders, needle-threaders and sewing-machines, and a host of other modern inventions, are certainly very wonderful in their way; but perhaps the most remarkable productions of recent times are the numerous Guides to the art of Letter-writing, which we so frequently encounter among the 'announcements' of enterprising publishers. Time was, when the chief object of a letter-writer was to express his actual thoughts and feelings; but in these enlightened days, the nuisance of having either to think or to feel is materially modified, if not entirely removed, by these useful manuals, which furnish forms for almost every conceivable style of epistolary communication. Parents and children, brothers and sisters, masters and servants, tutors and governesses, lovers and friends, landlords and tenants, tradesmen and customers, are all amply provided for by means of real or imaginary models, of which some may be transcribed verbatim, while others require to be


* For the purport of some of my observations on Guides to the Art of Letter-writing, I am indebted to an amusing article in the Saturday Review.

Their miscellaneous Contents.



more or less adapted to meet the circumstances of the writer. Of course, a really good compendium aims at furnishing materials for a large number of different cases, and sometimes a series of answers are given for the same epistle. Accordingly, in one of the most recent of these invaluable productions, which may be purchased for the moderate sum of one shilling, we have upwards of 250 examples, arranged under two separate sections, for the use of ladies and gentlemen respectively. We have business letters in every shape—from a tradesman soliciting patronage or rendering an account, from a merchant ordering goods-from a clerk to his principal requesting leave of absenceapplications for situations, from a chancellor to a charwoman-answers to advertisementsletters relative to the character and qualifications of tutors and governesses, cooks and lady'smaids-letters to clergymen and physicians, schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, house-agents and horse-dealers-applications for relief and for subscriptions, for debts and for loans-letters of congratulation and condolence-letters of introduction and invitations-letters from emigrants to their friends at home, and from boys


Courtship and Matrimony.

[ocr errors]


and girls at school to their anxious parents. The all-important subjects of Love, Courtship, and Matrimony, however, appear to occupy the most prominent place. Every possible contingency is most skilfully kept in view. Thus we have a letter from a gentleman who has been acquainted with the object of his affections from her earliest years, and another from a love-sick swain who ventures to address his bewitching charmer within twelve hours of their first interview at an evening party. 'Believe me, dear Miss -, writes the former, 'this is no outbreak of boyish passion, but the hearty and healthy result of a long and affectionate study of your disposition. It is love founded on esteem, and I feel persuaded that your knowledge of my own character will lead you to trace my motives to their right source. The other trusts that the apparent presumption of his somewhat bold address may be mitigated by the consideration that his own feelings are so deeply enlisted in its success or failure !' While another impulsive lover has the audacity to propose a moonlight meeting, a more prudent young man writes first to the lady's papa to announce the ardour of his attachment, and

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »