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dearest,' etc. etc. Another young lady writes to inform her mother of the result of her gaieties at a fashionable watering-place. It seems almost ungrateful,' she says, 'to think of loving any one but you; but oh, mamma, if you saw Henry, you would forgive me, I am sure. He is so handsome, so gentle in his manners, and yet so sensible and accomplished!' Among the gentlemen's epistles, we find an absent lover sending his portrait to his 'dearest Julia,' on her birthday, although he feels that 'its original is too deeply stamped on her heart to require any effigy to remind her of him.' Another, after referring to the painfulness of separation, thus expresses himself:-'I shall soon hope once more to bask in the sunshine of my Fanny's sweet countenance, and to feed my imagination with thoughts of the happiness which her placid and sincere disposition will hereafter shed around a home!'
The formidable objection of want of means, to which I have already incidentally referred, appears to be frequently urged by the softer sex, more especially in the humbler ranks of society. Thus, in a letter to a young farmer, the writer remarks:-'Mother says that "they
172 Unfavourable' Replies.
who ride fast never ride long ;"' while a female servant, in answer to a proposal of immediate marriage, inculcates the necessity of prudence, with the view of avoiding 'that poverty which too often leads to misery on both sides.' The same sentiment is indicated by a better educated correspondent in a more elaborate statement, which she thus concludes :-'No, my dear
we must wait for better times, and not entail misery beyond calculation upon others, as well as ourselves, by a too hasty step.'
The 'unfavourable' reply of a domestic servant to a young tradesman contains the following pithy announcement:-' And I will give you a word of advice, young man. Court your sweetheart with your tongue, and make sure of her that way, before you commit your feelings to paper. You will thereby save yourself and her a great deal of nonsense.' Another 'Mary-Jane' indites the following pointblank refusal:-'John,-I do not know what could have led you to believe that I had any partiality for you. Such is not the case. I wish you well, as I have no reason for wishing you otherwise, but I have no desire for any attentions from you of any kind.'
Loans and Subscriptions.
Besides a form suitable for a proposal from a widower to a widow, in which he touchingly refers to the fact of their both having been deprived of the partners of their earlier years, we have several specimens of replies, both negative and affirmative. One lady considers herself too far advanced in years; another is prevented by the tenderness of her attachment to the memory of her late husband; while a third 'has no dislike to entering again into the marriage state.'
Of applications for loans and subscriptions, we have numerous examples. Thus :-'Dear I write to ask you a rather disagreeable favour. In consequence of imprudently placing my name to one of -'s bills, I find that I am likely to be involved in some expense and difficulty, if I cannot at once meet the amount. Would you, under these circumstances, accommodate me?' etc. etc. Another applicant 'has so great an aversion to borrowing money from professional lenders, that he prefers the course of soliciting the aid of some well-known friend!' One writer promptly says in reply :-' I enclose you the sum you require, to which you are heartily welcome ;' while it affords much pleasure to another generous individual 'to be able
Varied Forms of Refusal.
to accommodate so old and valued a friend.' Refusals, however, are still more amply provided for. Thus we have the brief and decided apology on the score of inability :-'Unhappily I am at this moment so driven for funds that last week I was compelled to borrow five pounds to make up my workmen's wages.' Then follows the polite and circuitous declinature:-'While I readily acknowledge the claim you have upon my friendship, and while I feel that there is no one whom I should be more willing or prouder to oblige than yourself,' etc. etc. Hoping that you may be more successful in some other quarter, believe me to remain, ever your sincere friend!' Lastly, we have the point-blank refusal, which the writer has found to be the safest, and, in the long-run, the kindest course for all parties :'-'I have always made it a principle in life never to borrow or lend money, not even when members of my own family have been concerned.'
The ingenious reply of a lady to an application for a subscription to a charitable institution must close my selection of samples :- Mrs. regrets exceedingly that the demands upon her purse have of late been so frequent and so
Jeffrey's wicked Reply.
heavy, that on this occasion she has nothing to offer but sympathy and good wishes!'1
Apropos to these applications, I have been told that the late Lord Jeffrey was sometimes wicked enough to reply to them in the following strain :-'SIR,-I have received your letter of the 6th inst., soliciting a contribution in behalf of the funds of I have very great pleasure in subscribing' (he always contrived to make 'subscribing' the last word on the first page of his note; then at the top of page 2, not, as the recipient fondly imagined, 'the sum of five or ten pounds,' but) myself, yours faithfully, FRANCIS JEFFREY.'
1 One of the most useful Guides to epistolary correspondence -now unfortunately out of print-was published anonymously in London about twenty-eight years ago, by a gentleman now residing in Edinburgh, under the title of Hints on Letter-Writing. It contains some very sensible suggestions, and the compiler says in his Preface that he has not filled his volume with lifeless forms of letters-dry bones-bare skeletons-destitute of all beauty-nerveless and without feeling on the contrary, he has made a selection from the real correspondence of wellknown and able men and women; and where the letters are fictitious, they are taken with care from the works of authors of first-rate ability.'
Even in the 'far East,' such publications are not entirely unknown. A complete introduction to the art of letter-writing, in the Arabic language, compiled by Shuekh Uhmud, was published at Calcutta as far back as 1813, under the euphonious title of Ul Ujub Ool Oojab.