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Lord Ogilvy to his " ' Angel?
tion of the English wife, I may introduce a loving epistle, written at a somewhat earlier period, by a Scottish husband, in the person of David Lord Ogilvy, granduncle of the present Earl of Airlie, and one of the most devoted of Prince Charlie's band of loyal followers at the battle of Culloden. The letter, which is undated, was kindly given to me by my friend Dr. Laing, of the Signet Library. It was probably written about the beginning of the year 1747, and the 'angel' to whom it is addressed was Lord Ogilvy's first wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir James Johnstone, Bart., of Westerhall, who died ten years afterwards, at the early age of thirtythree. The penmanship is excellent, and the signature bold and distinctive ; but unfortunately only the letter ‘Y’remains of the words immediately preceding, which were no doubt expressive of the most unbounded attachment. His Lordship descants as follows :
My Angel, I aske pardon for troubleing you when I have nothing to say that's worth your while heareing from the Ports of Cambray, where I cou'd not get in to last night. I have no other design by sending you this Billet but to make me think and dream over your Charms, with which I'm Ass enough to be intoxicate, and for to pray you to write me every day, and to appoint when I
shall come back. I think already every hour has been a month sine (since) I left you. My Angel, I have the honour to be, Y..
OGILVY. A My Lady
My Lady Ogilvy, au Cheval d'Or à Lille.
Even the love-letters of eminent persons' are not particularly edifying, if at least we may judge from a volume published under that title in the year 1859, and edited by a gentleman bearing the historical name of Charles Martel. Most of his specimens exhibit that wearisome iteration by which amatory epistles are usually characterized, and thus fully confirm the truth of the Irish poet's estimate already quoted. The editor ventures to hope that his volume may prove useful as a collection of precedents. * As most persons,' he says, 'feel awkward when they first set about making love, they may welcome an opportunity of acquiring confidence by taking a leaf out of the books of those who have distinguished themselves either in the world of letters or of action ! His examples include excerpts from the correspondence of Swift, Pope, Sterne, Burns, Goethe, Nelson, and Napoleon ; but, strange to say, in the case of the Dean of St. Patrick's, only his
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.
SIR RICHARD STEELE TO Miss SCURLOCK.
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
The "Tatler' on Love Letters.
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
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