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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.
Modes of Address.
Modes of Address and Superscriptions.
The mode of address has varied considerably at different periods. I have already referred to the quaint mixture of formality and affection in the letters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as illustrated by the Eglinton correspondence. At a comparatively recent date, boys and girls at school were taught to address their fathers and mothers, in their letters, as
Honoured Sir,'Honoured Madam,' or 'Honoured Parent;' but the existing style of 'My dear Father,' and 'My dearly beloved Mother,' if not so reverential in its tone, seems to indicate a greater amount of love and affection. Formerly, it was the custom, excepting in the case of very old and intimate friends, to commence every letter with the word “Sir' or Madam,' which are now confined to the correspondence of strangers. "Respected Sir' appears to be quite obsolete. According to one of the many 'Complete Letter-Writers,'" “ Dear Sir” and “ Dear Madam” are justified by a very slight acquaintanceship. In more advanced intimacy,' we are further informed, especially in the case of the male sex—we may proceed to
“My dear Sir”-“My dear Mr. Jones"“My dear Friend "--"Dear Jones”—“My dear Jones," etc. The illustrious author of Waverley must have been influenced by a belief in this delicate graduation when he sat down, on one occasion, to indite an epistle to his friend Tom Moore, which he commenced, in an unguarded moment, with the formal exordium of My dear Sir.' Drawing his pen through the unintended words, he wrote immediately below them, 'Damn Sir—My dear Moore.' I have sometimes thought that, except in the case of the Mormons, the expression ‘My dearest Wife,' so frequently adopted by affectionate husbands, is open to very grave objection-implying, as it does, in strict grammar, at least two other partners-a 'dear' and a 'dearer.' When applied to a special friend, or to a particular son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, or aunt, the superlative epithet may, of course, be used quite correctly ; but even in these instances, it is questionable whether the person who indulges in it really means what he says. The close of a letter to a perfect stranger is sometimes calculated to provoke a smile ; but still more ludicrous is the concluding mutual assurance of two
178 Superscriptions. inveterate foes, engaged in an angry correspondence I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant!'
Modes of address in the inside of letters naturally suggest a few remarks on outside addresses or superscriptions, to which also incidental allusion has already been made. In the case of the upper ten thousand,' the
" proper form of superscription is well defined, and most of the letter-writing manuals embrace detailed instructions to the uninitiated. Among the other ranks of society, however, a considerable amount of confusion has for some time prevailed with respect to designations. I should, perhaps, be more correct in saying that the 'names of worship’ are now generally regarded as common property; and while among the softer sex, not only lady's-maids, but even the rulers of the kitchen, are indignant at the omission of Miss' or 'Mrs.,' the humblest butler considers himself quite as much entitled to the addition of · Esquire' as the master whom he serves, although the said master's blood may happen to be as red as that of the Douglases or the Howards. According to one of the most recent Manuals of Letter-writing, the title of