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Let ne conclude by saying to you what I have had too frequent occasi un to say to my other remaining old friends, the fewer we become, the more let us love one another. Adieu, &c. B. Fr. William Cowper to Lady Hasketh.
Huntingdon, October 10, 1765. MY DEAR COUSIN, I should grumble at your long silence, if I did not know that one may love one's friends very well, though one is not always in a humor to write to them. Besides, I have the satisfaction of being perfectly sure that you have at least twenty times recollected the debt you owe me, and as often resolved to pay it; and, perhaps, while you remain indebted to me, you think of me twice as often as you would do if the account was clear. These are the reflections with which I comfort myself under the affliction of not hearing from you; my temper does not incline me to jealousy, and, if it did, I should set all right by having recourse to what i have already received from you.
I thank God for your friendship, and for all the pleasing circumstances here; for my health of body and perfect serenity of mind. To recollect the past and compare it with the present is all I have need of to fill me with gratitude ; and to be grateful is to be hap. py. Not that I think myself sufficiently than or that I ever shall be so in this life. The warmest heart, perhaps, only feels by fits, and is often as insensible as the coldest. This, at least, is frequently the case with mine, and oftener than it should be. But the mercy that can forgive iniquity will never be severe to mark our frailties. To that mercy, my dear cousin, I commend you, with earnest wishes for your welfare, and remain your ever affectionate
W. COWPER. Dr. Johnson to Mr. Elphinston.
September 25, 1750. DEAR SIR, You have, as I find, by every kind of evidences, lost an excel. lent mother, and hope you will not think me incapable of par. taking of your grief. I have a mother now eighty-two years of age, whom, therefore, I must soon lose, unless it please God that she rather should mourn for me.
The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another is to guide, and incite, and elevate his virtues. This your mother will still perform, if you diligently preserve the memory of her life and of her death: a life, so far as I can learn, useful, wise, and innocent; and a death resigned, peaceful, and holy. I can not forbear to mention that neither reason nor revelation denies you to hope that you may increase her happiness by obeying her precepts; and that she may, in her pres
ent state, look with pleasure upon every act of virtue to which her instructions or example have contributed.
There is one expedient by which you may, in some degree, continue her presence. If you write down minutely what you remember of her from your earliest years, you will read it with great pleasure, and receive from it many hints of soothing recollection, when time shall remove her yet farther from you, and your grief shall be matured to veneration. To this, however painful for the present, I can not but advise you, as to a source of comfort and satisfaction in the time to come; for all comfort and all satisfac tion is sincerely wished you by, dear sir, your, &c,
S. Johnson. William Cowper, Esq., to Lady Hesketh. Your letters are so much my comfort, that I often tremble lest by any accident I should be disappointed ; and the more, because you have been, more than once, so engaged in company on the writing-day, that I have had a narrow escape. Let me give you a piece of good counsel, my cousin : follow my laudable example; write when you can; take Time's forelock in one hand and a pen in the other, and so make sure of your opportunity. It is well for me that you write faster than any body, and more in an hour than other people in two, else I know not what would become of me. When I read your letters I hear you talk, and I love talking letters dearly, especially from you. Well! the middle of June will not be always a thousand years off; and when it comes I shall hear you, and see you too, and shall not care a farthing then if you do not touch a pen in a month. Henry Kirke White to his Brother Neville.
Nottingham, 1800, Dear NEVILLE, I can not divine what, in an epistolary correspondence, can have such charms (with people who only write commonplace occur. rences) as to detach a man from his usual affairs, and make him waste time and paper on what can not be of the least benefit to his correspondent. Among relations, certainly, there is always an incitement: we always feel an anxiety for their welfare. But I have no friend so dear to me as to cause me to take the trouble of reading his letters, if they only contained an account of his health, and the mere nothings of the day : indeed, such a one would be unworthy of friendship. What, then, is requisite to make one's correspondence valuable ? I answer, sound sense. Nothing more is requisite: as to the style, one may readily excuse its faults, if repaid by the sentiments. You have better nat. ural abilities than many youth, but it is with regret I see that you will not give yourself the trouble of writing a good letter. There is hardly any species of composition (in my opinion) easier than the epistolary; but, my friend, you never found any art, however
trivial, that did not require some application at first. * * * * * * You may, perhaps, think this art beneath your notice, or unwor. thy of your pains; if so, you are assuredly mistaken; for there is hardly any thing which would contribute more to the advancement of a young man, or which is more engaging.
You read, I believe, a good deal ; nothing could be more ac eptable to me, or more improving to you, than making a part of your letters to consist of your sentiments and opinion of the books you peruse : you have no idea how beneficial this would be to yourself ; and that you are able to do it, I am certain. One of the greatest impediments to good writing, is the thinking too much before you note down. This, I think, you are not entirely free from. I hope that, by always writing the first idea that presents itself, you will soon conquer it; my letters are always the rough first draft-of course there are many alterations: these you will excuse.
* You had better write again to Mr. B. Between friends, the common forms of the world, in writing letter for letter, need not be observed ; but never write three without receiving one in re. turn, because, in that case, they must be thought unworthy of answer. We have been so busy, lately, that I could not answer yours
Once a month, suppose we write to each other. If you ever find that my correspondence is not worth the trouble of carrying on, inform me of it, and it shall cease.
HENRY KIRKE WHITE. P.S. If any expression in this be too harsh, excuse it-I am not in an ill-humor, recollect.
Dr. Franklin to David Hartley, Esq., M.P.
Passy, July 5, 1785. I can not quit the coasts of Europe without taking leave of my ever dear friend, Mr. Aartley. We were long fellow-laborers in the best of all works, the work of peace. I leave you still in the field; but, having finished my day's task, I am going home to to bed. Wish me a good night's rest, as I do you a pleasant evening. Adieu ; and believe me ever yours most affectionately,
B. FRANKLIN. For other specimens, consult the letters of Cowper and Rev. John Newton ; also the Classical Letterwriter, by the author of the Young Man's Own Book.
The following letter is one from the wife of the late poet Southey, of England, to Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, of Connecticut, in reference to the poet's derangement. It is beautiful and touching.
" You desire to be remembered to him, who sang of Thalaba, the wild and wondrous tale.' Alas! my friend, the dull, cold ear of death is not more insensible than his, my dearest husband's, to all communication from the world without. Scarcely can I keep hold of the last poor comfort of believing that he still knows me. This almost complete unconsciousness has not been of more than six months' standing, though more than two years have elapsed since he has written even his name. After the death of his first wife, the · Edith' of his first love, who was for several years insane, his health was terribly shaken. Yet, for the greater part of a year, that he spent with me in Hampshire, my former home, it seemed perfectly re-established, and he used to say, 'It had surely pleased God that the last years of his life should be happy.' But the Almighty's will was otherwise. The little cloud soon appeared, which was, in no long time, to overshadow all. In the blackness of its shadow we still live, and shall pass from under it only through the portals of the grave.
“ The last three years have done on me the work of twenty. The one sole business of my life is, that which I verily believe keeps the life in me, the guardianship of my dear, helpless, unconscious husband."
In a recently published and curious work, containing Fac-similes of Washington's Public Accounts, from 1775 to 1783, are the following, among other letters, from gentlemen in high stations under our government, which may serve as favorable specimens of one kind of letter, for which, in this book-publishing age, a call is often made.
Senate Chamber, 230 June, 1841. Dear Sir, I take pleasure in complying with your request. The fac-sim. ile of General Washington's accounts is a precious relic which every American citizen should possess. It demonstrates the method and the economy of the Father of his Country. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. CLAY. Mr. Franklin Knight.
Office of Attorney General, June 25th, 1841. MY DEAR SIR, I am pleased to learn that you are about to publish a fac-simile of General Washington's accounts. He was a man so exemplary in all that is useful or great, that every thing that marks his conduct and the habits of his life must be interesting and instructive to his countrymen. Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
J.J. CRITTENDEN, Mr. Franklin Knight.
Washington, June 28th, 1841. I concur in the propriety of the publication which you propose. Order and method were striking features in the character of Gen. eral Washington, and they are well exhibited in the manner in which he kept the account of his personal expenses.
DANIEL WEBSTER Franklin Knight.
The following is a specimen of the letter-writing of Mrs. John Adams: it was written before her marriage.
Weymouth, 16th April, 1764. My Friend, I think I write to you every day. Shall not I make my letters very cheap? Don't you light your pipe with them? I care not if you do. 'Tis a pleasure to me to write. Yet I wonder I write to you with so little restraint, for, as a critic, I fear you more than any other person on earth, and 'tis the only character in which I ever did or ever will fear you. What say you? Do you approve of that speech? Don't you think me a courageous being? Courage is a laudable, a glorious virtue, in your sex, why not in mine ? For my part, I think you ought to applaud me for mine.
Here are love, respects, regards, good wishes a whole wagon load of them, sent you from all the good folks in the neighborhood. To-morrow makes the fourteenth day. How many more are to come ? dare not trust myself with the thought. Adieu. Let me hear from you by Mr. Cyers, and excuse this very bad writing ; if you had mended my pen it would have been better. Once more, adieu. Gold and silver have I none, but such as I have give I'unto thee-which is, the affectionate regard of your
DIALOGUE AND ENIGMAS. Q. What do you understand by Dialogue ?
Ă. Conversation, real or supposed, kept up by different speakers upon any subject of interest.
Q. Is it confined to any particular subject ?
Ă. No; for, like letter-writing, it may be applied to subjects of all sorts.
Q. Is it a difficult style of writing ?
A. Very much so; as the different parts of the dialogue, in order to appear natural, require to correspond with the character and sentiments of the different speakers.