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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 DN- 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. MM, Esq.
Chamberlain of L-.
While on the subject of indignant letters, I embrace the opportunity of tendering a word of
advice to those of my readers who may ever happen to be placed in the unpleasant position of either receiving or having to indite an angry effusion. In many instances, the golden course after the receipt of a fiery communication is to take no notice of it; but if an answer should be considered necessary, it is generally desirable not to write by return of post. A few hours of cool reflection has a wonderful effect in modifying the intensity of the first impressions, and in the large majority of cases, the most prudent course is to bottle up a considerable amount of one's original dudgeon. We know from the highest authority that, whether verbal or written, 'a soft answer turneth away wrath.'
A very sudden termination, without the slightest warning, is in great favour with a certain class of correspondents, the most important announcement being immediately followed by the writer's signature. Others, again, endeavour to account for an abrupt close by excusing themselves on the score of being 'in haste to
catch the post,' while a very frequent mode of wind-up consists of a humble apology for 'this hurried scrawl.' The most common of all con
clusions, however, embraces a series of affectionate messages in the shape of 'kind regards' or 'best wishes' to Tom, Dick, and Harry, or to 'the family circle;' and in the case of some very generous correspondents, every known relative of the recipient, both direct and collateral, is favoured with a distinct portion of the writer's love! In addition to their many other good qualities, the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, to which I have already referred, are remarkable for the great variety of style with which they close, as well as for the graceful and pleasing manner in which the writer usually slides into the concluding assurance of her faithfulness or affection.
While speaking of stereotyped and commonplace conclusions, I may briefly refer to one or two other blemishes of pretty frequent occurrence, and of a still more objectionable kind. As a topic of conversation, particularly among comparative strangers, the state of the weather is universally acknowledged to be invaluable, furnishing as it does a safe and prudent intro
duction to more special subjects. The same may be said of all the ordinary events of nature, such as the appearance of the first snowdrop, or the fall of the leaf; but incessant allusion to these matters in the course of a friendly correspondence is very far from edifying. However much interested the recipient of a letter may feel in the meteorological conditions of his own immediate neighbourhood, he is, in most cases, comparatively indifferent respecting the amount of rain or sunshine, or of heat or cold, experienced by his correspondent in some distant part of the kingdom.
Other topics besides the state of the weather are very much out of place in epistolary commerce. As Addison truly remarks, in the Tatler, 'to desire to know how Damon goes on with his courtship to Sylvia, or how the wine tastes at the Old Devil,1 are threadbare subjects,
1 If wine is not a very edifying subject for correspondence, as a perpetual topic of conversation it is even more repulsive to all who possess even the average amount of brains. In these abstemious days, when a long sederunt at the dinner-table is quite a rare occurrence, the tiresome discussion of vintages still constitutes a very common occupation; and the most fluent prosers on the subject are not unfrequently shallow pretenders, who, if blindfolded, could hardly tell the difference between port, claret, and burgundy.