« PreviousContinue »
to Mary Elliot.
next time, before we kiss the earth, we will have its face well shaved. Did you ever go to Greenwich fair ? I should like to go there with you, for I get no rolling at St. John's Wood. Tom and Fanny only like roll and butter, and as for Mrs. Hood she is rolling in money.
Tell Dunnie that Tom has set his trap in the balcony, and has caught a cold : and tell Jeanie that Fanny has set her foot in the garden, but it has not come up yet. Oh, how I wish it was the season when ‘March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers !' for then of Course you would give me another pretty little nosegay. Besides, it is frosty and foggy weather, which I do not like. The other night, when I came from Stratford, the cold shrivelled me up so, that when I got home I thought I was my own child.
However, I hope we shall all have a merry Christmas. I mean to come in my most ticklesome waistcoat, and to laugh till I grow fat, or at least streaky. Fanny is to be allowed a glass of wine ; Tom's mouth is to have a hole holiday, and Mrs. Hood is to sit up to supper! There will be doings ! And then such good things to eat; but, pray, pray, pray, mind they don't boil the baby by mistake for a plump pudding instead of a plum one.
Give my love to everybody, from yourself down to Willy, with which and a kiss, I remain, up hill and down dale, your affectionate lover,
1 The above and three other letters were written to three of Dr. Elliot's children, special favourites of Hood's, and they all prove how admirably he could adapt his style to children. The allusion at the commencement of the letter is to an accidental tumble and roll at a pic-nic, ending in a furze bush at the bottom of the bank.
Letters of the Commonalty.
Hitherto my remarks have been almost exclusively confined to the correspondence of educated persons. The less elaborate, though not less hearty effusions of the humbler classes of society, must not be passed over in silence. Until a comparatively recent period, the practice of letter-writing was rarely indulged in by our poorer brethren ; but the gradual extension of education, and the vast reduction in the rates of postage, as well as in the price of paper and other requisite materials, have already been productive of a large increase in their correspondence. The touching simplicity and warmth of affection so frequently displayed in the letters received from emigrants to distant lands, which occasionally find their way into the public prints, cannot fail to interest the most callous reader. Reference to the mutual health of the parties constitutes one of the most prominent features of the correspondence under consideration, and the style usually adopted forcibly reminds us of the classical præloquium already referred to. I write these few lines to say that I hop you are well, as this, thank God !
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 1 is quite wore out and tother 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, JACK. P.S.-Don't forget the pigtail.?
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.
· Unlettered' Letter-Writers.
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-
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