Contents

“True Christian politeness will always be the result of an unselfish regard for the feelings of others, and though you may err in the ceremonious points of etiquette, you will never be impolite.”



“If you wish to be a well-bred lady, you must carry your good manners everywhere with you. It is not a thing that can be laid aside. True politeness is uniform disinterestedness trifles, accompanied by the calm self-possession which belongs to a noble simplicity of purpose; and this must be the effect of a Christian spirit running through all you do, or say, or think; and, unless you cultivate it and exercise it, upon all occasions and towards all persons, it will never be a part of yourself.”

The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness

Author: Florence Hartley Published: 1860

Introduction


Chapter I.

Conversation

Chapter II.

Dress

Chapter III.

Traveling

Chapter IV.

How to Behave at a Hotel

Chapter V.

EVENING Parties--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter VI.

EVENING Parties--etiquette for the Guest

Chapter VII.

Visiting--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter VIII.

Visiting--etiquette for the Guest

Chapter IX.

MORNING RECEPTIONS OR Calls--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter X.

MORNING RECEPTIONS OR Calls--etiquette for the Caller

Chapter XI.

DINNER Company--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter XII.

DINNER Company--etiquette for the Guest

Chapter XIII.

Table Etiquette

Chapter XIV.

Conduct in the Street

Chapter XV.

Letter Writing

Chapter XVI.

Polite Deportment and Good Habits

Chapter XVII.

Conduct in Church

Chapter XVIII.

BALL ROOM Etiquette--for the Hostess

Chapter XIX.

BALL ROOM Etiquette--for the Guest

Chapter XX.

Places of Amusement

Chapter XXI.

Accomplishments

Chapter XXII.

Servants

Chapter XXIII.

On a Young Lady's Conduct When Contemplating Marriage

Chapter XXIV.

Bridal Etiquette

Chapter XXV.

Hints on Health

Chapter XXVI.

Miscellaneous

Receipts

For the Complexion




CHAPTER XV.

LETTER WRITING.

There is no branch of education called so universally into requisition as the art of letter writing; no station, high or low, where the necessity for correspondence is not felt; no person, young or old, who does not, at some time, write, cause to be written, and receive letters. From the President in his official capacity, with the busy pens of secretaries constantly employed in this branch of service, to the Irish laborer who, unable to guide a pen, writes, also by proxy, to his kinsfolks across the wide ocean; all, at some time, feel the desire to transmit some message, word of love, business, or sometimes enmity, by letter.

Yet, in spite of the universal need, and almost universal habit, there are really but very few persons who write a good letter; a letter that is, at the same time long enough to interest, yet not long enough to tire; sufficiently condensed to keep the attention, and not tedious, and yet detailed enough to afford satisfaction; that is correct in grammatical construction, properly punctuated, written in a clear, legible hand, with the date, address, signature, all in the proper place, no words whose letters stand in utter defiance to spelling-book rules; in short, a well-written letter.

Thousands, millions are sent from post to post every day. The lightning speed of the telegraph takes its messages from city to city; the panting steamer carries from continent to continent its heavy mail-bags, laden with its weight of loving messages; the "iron horse" drags behind it, its measure of the many missives; while, in the far-distant Western wilds, the lumbering wagon bears its paper freight, with its pen eloquence, to cheer and comfort, or sadden and crush, the waiting emigrants, longing for news of home.

To some, who, with hearts desolated by the separation from the home circle, could read, with an eager interest, volumes of the most common-place, trivial incidents, if only connected with the loved ones there, will come pages, from the pen of the dearest relative, full of learning, wit, and wisdom, wholly uninteresting to the receiver.

Why is this? Not from any desire upon the part of the writer to display learning or talent, but because, writing a letter being to them a great undertaking, and the letter being destined to go a long distance, they look upon it as an event too unusual to be wasted in detailing the simple, every-day details of domestic life, and ransack memory and learning for a subject worthy of the long journey and unusual labor.

Others will have, from mere acquaintances, long, tedious details of uninteresting trivialities, and from the near relatives, short, dry epistles, which fall like stones upon the heart longing for little, affectionate expressions, and home memories.

From some letter writers, who are in the midst of scenes and events of the most absorbing interest, letters arrive, only a few lines long, without one allusion to the interesting matter lying so profusely around them; while others, with the scantiest of outward subjects, will, from their own teeming brain, write bewitching, absorbing epistles, read with eagerness, laid aside with the echo of Oliver Twist's petition in a sigh; the reader longing for "more."

It is, of course, impossible to lay down any distinct rule for the style of letter writing. Embracing, as it does, all subjects and all classes, all countries and associations, and every relation in which one person can stand to another, what would be an imperative rule in some cases, becomes positive absurdity in others. Every letter will vary from others written before, in either its subject, the person addressed, or the circumstances which make it necessary to write it.

Letter writing is, in fact, but conversation, carried on with the pen, when distance or circumstances prevent the easier method of exchanging ideas, by spoken words. Write, therefore, as you would speak, were the person to whom your letter is addressed seated beside you. As amongst relatives and intimate friends you would converse with a familiar manner, and in easy language, so in your letters to such persons, let your style be simple, entirely devoid of effort.

Again, when introduced to a stranger, or conversing with one much older than yourself, your manner is respectful and dignified; so let the letters addressed to those on these terms with yourself, be written in a more ceremonious style, but at the same time avoid stiffness, and above all, pedantry. A letter of advice to a child, would of course demand an entirely different style, from that written by a young lady to a friend or relative advanced in life; yet the general rule, "write as you would converse," applies to each and every case.

Neatness is an important requisite in a letter. To send a fair, clean sheet, with the words written in a clear, legible hand, will go a great way in ensuring a cordial welcome for your letter. Avoid erasures, as they spoil the beauty of your sheet. If it is necessary to correct a word, draw your pen through it, and write the word you wish to use as a substitute, above the one erased; do not scratch out the word and write another over it: it is untidy, and the second word is seldom legible. Another requisite for a good letter is a clear, concise style. Use language that will be easily understood, and avoid the parenthesis. Important passages in letters are often lost entirely, by the ambiguous manner in which they are worded, or rendered quite as unintelligible by the blots, erasures, or villainously bad hand-writing. A phrase may, by the addition or omission of one word, or by the alteration of one punctuation mark, convey to the reader an entirely different idea from that intended by the writer; so, while you write plainly, use good language, you must also write carefully, and punctuate properly.

If you are in doubt about the correct spelling of a word, do not trust to chance, hoping it may be right, but get a dictionary, and be certain that you have spelt it as it ought to be.

Simplicity is a great charm in letter-writing. What you send in a letter, is, as a general rule, intended for the perusal of one person only. Therefore to cumber your epistles with quotations, similes, flowery language, and a stilted, pedantic style, is in bad taste. You may use elegant language, yet use it easily. If you use a quotation, let it come into its place naturally, as if flowing in perfect harmony with your ideas, and let it be short. Long quotations in a letter are tiresome. Make no attempt at display in a correspondence. You will err as much in such an attempt, as if, when seated face to face with your correspondent, alone in your own apartment, you were to rise and converse with the gestures and language of a minister in his pulpit, or a lecturer upon his platform.

As everything, in style, depends upon the subject of the letter, and the person to whom it is addressed, some words follow, relating to some of the various kinds of correspondence:

BUSINESS LETTERS should be as brief as is consistent with the subject; clear, and to the point. Say all that is necessary, in plain, distinct language, and say no more. State, in forcible words, every point that it is desirable for your correspondent to be made acquainted with, that your designs and prospects upon the subject may be perfectly well understood. Write, in such a letter, of nothing but the business in hand; other matters will be out of place there. Nowhere is a confused style, or illegible writing, more unpardonable than in a business letter; nowhere a good style and hand more important. Avoid flowery language, too many words, all pathos or wit, any display of talent or learning, and every merely personal matter, in a business letter.

LETTERS OF COMPLIMENT must be restricted, confined entirely to one subject. If passing between acquaintances, they should be written in a graceful, at the same time respectful, manner. Avoid hackneyed expressions, commonplace quotations, and long, labored sentences, but while alluding to the subject in hand, as if warmly interested in it, at the same time endeavor to write in a style of simple, natural grace.

LETTERS OF CONGRATULATION demand a cheerful, pleasant style, and an appearance of great interest. They should be written from the heart, and the cordial, warm feelings there will prompt the proper language. Be careful, while offering to your friend the hearty congratulations her happy circumstances demand, that you do not let envy at her good fortune, creep into your head, to make the pen utter complaining words at your own hard lot. Do not dampen her joy, by comparing her happiness with the misery of another. There are many clouds in the life of every one of us. While the sun shines clearly upon the events of your friend's life let her enjoy the brightness and warmth, unshadowed by any words of yours. Give her, to the full, your sympathy in her rejoicing, cheerful words, warm congratulations, and bright hopes for the future. Should there be, at the time of her happiness, any sad event you wish to communicate to her, of which it is your duty to inform her, write it in another letter. If you must send it the same day, do so, but let the epistle wishing her joy, go alone, unclouded with the news of sorrow. At the same time, avoid exaggerated expressions of congratulation, lest you are suspected of a desire to be satirical, and avoid underlining any words. If the language is not forcible enough to convey your ideas, you will not make it better by underlining it. If you say to your friend upon her marriage, that you wish her "joy in her new relations, and hope she may be entirely happy in her domestic life," you make her doubt your wishes, and think you mean to ridicule her chances of such happiness.

LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE are exceedingly trying, both to read and to write. If the affliction which calls for them is one which touches you nearly, really grieving and distressing you, all written words must seem tame and cold, compared with the aching sympathy which dictates them. It is hard with the eyes blinded by tears, and the hand shaking, to write calmly; and it is impossible to express upon paper all the burning thoughts and words that would pour forth, were you beside the friend whose sorrow is yours. If you do not feel the trial, your task is still more difficult, for no letters demand truth, spoken from the heart, more than letters of condolence. Do not treat the subject for grief too lightly. Write words of comfort if you will, but do not appear to consider the affliction as a trifle. Time may make it less severe, but the first blow of grief must be heavy, and a few words of sincere sympathy will outweigh pages of mere expressions of hope for comfort, or the careless lines that show the letter to be one of mere duty, not feeling. Let your friend feel that her sorrow makes her dearer to you than ever before, and that her grief is yours. To treat the subject with levity, or to wander from it into witticisms or every-day chit-chat, is a wanton insult, unworthy of a lady and a friend. Do not magnify the event, or plunge the mourner into still deeper despondency by taking a despairing, gloomy view of the sorrow, under which she is bent. Show her the silver lining of her cloud, try to soothe her grief, yet be willing to admit that it is a cloud, and that she has cause for grief. To throw out hints that the sorrow is sent as a punishment to an offender; to imply that neglect or imprudence on the part of the mourner is the cause of the calamity; to hold up the trial as an example of retribution, or a natural consequence of wrong doing, is cruel, and barbarous. Even if this is true, (indeed, if this is the case, it only aggravates the insult); avoid such retrospection. It is as if a surgeon, called in to a patient suffering from a fractured limb, sat down, inattentive to the suffering, to lecture his patient upon the carelessness which caused the accident. One of the most touching letters of condolence ever written was sent by a literary lady, well known in the ranks of our American authoresses, to her sister, who had lost her youngest child. The words were few, merely:--

"SISTER DARLING:

"I cannot write what is in my heart for you to-day, it is too full. Filled with a double sorrow, for you, for my own grief. Tears blind me, my pen trembles in my hand. Oh, to be near you! to clasp you in my arms! to draw your head to my bosom, and weep with you! Darling, God comfort you, I cannot.

"S."

That was all. Yet the sorrowing mother said that no other letter, though she appreciated the kind motive that dictated all, yet none comforted her as did these few lines. Written from the heart, their simple eloquence touched the heart for which they were intended. Early stages of great grief reject comfort, but they long, with intense longing, for sympathy.

LETTERS WRITTEN TO GENTLEMEN should be ceremonious and dignified. If the acquaintance is slight, write in the third person, if there is a necessity for a letter. If a business letter, be respectful, yet not servile. It is better to avoid correspondence with gentlemen, particularly whilst you are young, as there are many objections to it. Still, if a friend of long standing solicits a correspondence, and your parents or husband approve and permit compliance with the request, it would be over-prudish to refuse. Write, however, such letters as, if they were printed in the newspapers, would cause you no annoyance. If the acquaintance admits of a frank, friendly style, be careful that your expressions of good will do not become too vehement, and avoid any confidential communications. When he begins to ask you to keep such and such passages secret, believe me, it is quite time to drop the correspondence.

LETTERS OF ENQUIRY, especially if they request a favor, should contain a few lines of compliment. If the letter is upon a private subject, such as enquiry with regard to the illness or misfortune of a friend, avoid making it too brief. To write short, careless letters upon such subjects, is unfeeling, and they will surely be attributed to motives of obligation or duty, not to interest. Letters of enquiry, referring to family matters, should be delicately worded, and appear dictated by interest, not mere curiosity. If the enquiry refers to matters interesting only to yourself, enclose a postage-stamp for the reply. In answering such letters, if they refer to your own health or subjects interesting to yourself, thank the writer for the interest expressed, and answer in a satisfactory manner. If the answer interests your correspondent only, do not reply as if the enquiry annoyed you, but express some interest in the matter of the letter, and give as clear and satisfactory reply as is in your power.

LETTERS OFFERING FAVORS--Be careful in writing to offer a favor, that you do not make your friend feel a heavy weight of obligation by over-rating your services. The kindness will be duly appreciated, and more highly valued if offered in a delicate manner. Too strong a sense of obligation is humiliating, so do not diminish the real value of the service by forcing the receiver to acknowledge a fictitious value. Let the recipient of your good will feel that it affords you as much pleasure to confer the favor as it will give her to receive it. A letter accompanying a present, should be short and gracefully worded. The affectionate spirit of such little epistles will double the value of the gift which they accompany. Never refer to a favor received, in such a letter, as that will give your gift the appearance of being payment for such favor, and make your letter of about as much value as a tradesman's receipted bill.

LETTERS OF THANKS for enquiries made, should be short, merely echoing the words of the letter they answer, and contain the answer to the question, with an acknowledgement of your correspondent's interest. If the letter is your own acknowledgement of a favor conferred, let the language be simple, but strong, grateful, and graceful. Fancy that you are clasping the hand of the kind friend who has been generous or thoughtful for you, and then write, even as you would speak. Never hint that you deem such a favor an obligation to be returned at the first opportunity; although this may really be the case, it is extremely indelicate to say so. In your letter gracefully acknowledge the obligation, and if, at a later day, you can return the favor, then let actions, not words, prove your grateful recollection of the favor conferred upon you. If your letter is written to acknowledge the reception of a present, speak of the beauty or usefulness of the gift, and of the pleasant associations with her name it will always recall.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION should be truthful, polite, and carefully considered. Such letters may be business letters, or they may be given to servants, and they must be given only when really deserved. Do not be hasty in giving them; remember that you are, in some measure responsible for the bearer; therefore, never sacrifice truth and frankness, to a mistaken idea of kindness or politeness.

LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION must be left unsealed. They must not contain any allusion to the personal qualities of the bearer, as such allusion would be about as sure a proof of ill-breeding as if you sat beside your friend, and ran over the list of the virtues and talents possessed by her. The fact that the person bearing the letter is your friend, will be all sufficient reason for cordial reception by the friend to whom the letter is addressed. The best form is:--

PHILADELPHIA, June 18th, 18--. MY DEAR MARY:

This letter will be handed to you by Mrs. C., to whom I am pleased to introduce you, certain that the acquaintance thus formed, between two friends of mine, of so long standing and so much beloved, will be pleasant to both parties. Any attention that you may find it in your power to extend to Mrs. C. whilst she is in your city, will be highly appreciated, and gratefully acknowledged, by

Your sincere friend A----.

LETTERS OF ADVICE should not be written unsolicited. They will, in all probability, even when requested, be unpalatable, and should never be sent unless they can really be of service. Write them with frankness and sincerity. To write after an act has been committed, and is irrevocable, is folly, and it is also unkind. You may inform your friend that, "had you been consulted, a different course from the one taken would have been recommended," and you may really believe this, yet it will probably be false. Seeing the unfavorable result of the wrong course will enable you fully to appreciate the wisdom of the right one, but, had you been consulted when the matter was doubtful, you would probably have been as much puzzled as your friend to judge the proper mode of action. You should word a letter of advice delicately, stating your opinion frankly and freely, but giving it as an opinion, not as a positive law. If the advice is not taken, do not feel offended, as others, more experienced than yourself upon the point in question, may have also been consulted. Let no selfish motive govern such a letter. Think only of the good or evil to result to your friend, and while you may write warmly and earnestly, let the motive be a really disinterested one.

LETTERS OF EXCUSE should be frank and graceful. They must be written promptly, as soon as the occasion that calls for them admits. If delayed, they become insulting. If such a letter is called forth by an act of negligence on your own part, apologize for it frankly, and show by your tone that you sincerely desire to regain the confidence your carelessness has periled. If you have been obliged by positive inability to neglect the fulfilment of any promise you have given, or any commission you have undertaken, then state the reason for your delay, and solicit the indulgence of your friend. Do not write in such stiff, formal language that the apology will seem forced from you, but offer your excuse frankly, as if with a sincere desire to atone for an act of negligence, or remove a ground of offence.

LETTERS OF INTELLIGENCE are generally the answer to letters of enquiry, or the statement of certain incidents or facts, interesting both to the writer and reader of the letter. Be careful in writing such a letter that you have all the facts in exact accordance with the truth. Remember that every word is set down against you, if one item of your information prove to be false; and do not allow personal opinion or prejudice to dictate a single sentence. Never repeat anything gathered from mere hearsay, and be careful, in such a letter, that you violate no confidence, nor force yourself upon the private affairs of any one. Do not let scandal or a mere love of gossip dictate a letter of intelligence. If your news is painful, state it as delicately as possible, and add a few lines expressive of sympathy. If it is your pleasant task to communicate a joyful event, make your letter cheerful and gay. If you have written any such letter, and, after sending it, find you have made any error in a statement, write, and correct the mistake immediately. It may be a trivial error, yet there is no false or mistaken news so trifling as to make a correction unnecessary.

INVITATIONS are generally written in the third person, and this form is used where the acquaintance is very slight, for formal notes, and cards of compliment. The form is proper upon such occasions, but should be used only in the most ceremonious correspondence. If this style is adopted by a person who has been accustomed to write in a more familiar one to you, take it as a hint, that the correspondence has, for some reason, become disagreeable, and had better cease.

AUTOGRAPH LETTERS should be very short; merely acknowledging the compliment paid by the request for the signature, and a few words expressing the pleasure you feel in granting the favor. If you write to ask for an autograph, always inclose a postage stamp for the answer.

Date every letter you write accurately, and avoid postscripts.

Politeness, kindness, both demand that every letter you receive must be answered. Nothing can give more pleasure in a correspondence, than prompt replies. Matters of much importance often rest upon the reply to a letter, and therefore this duty should never be delayed. In answering friendly letters, it will be found much easier to write what is kind and interesting, if you sit down to the task as soon as you read your friend's letter. Always mention the date of the letter to which your own is a reply.

Never write on a half sheet of paper. Paper is cheap, and a half sheet looks both mean and slovenly. If you do not write but three lines, still send the whole sheet of paper. Perfectly plain paper, thick, smooth, and white, is the most elegant. When in mourning, use paper and envelopes with a black edge. Never use the gilt edged, or fancy bordered paper; it looks vulgar, and is in bad taste. You may, if you will, have your initials stamped at the top of the sheet, and on the seal of the envelope, but do not have any fancy ornaments in the corners, or on the back of the envelope.

You will be guilty of a great breach of politeness, if you answer either a note or letter upon the half sheet of the paper sent by your correspondent, even though it may be left blank.

Never write, even the shortest note, in pencil. It looks careless, and is rude.

Never write a letter carelessly. It may be addressed to your most intimate friend, or your nearest relative, but you can never be sure that the eye for which it is intended, will be the only one that sees it. I do not mean by this, that the epistle should be in a formal, studied style, but that it must be correct in its grammatical construction, properly punctuated, with every word spelt according to rule. Even in the most familiar epistles, observe the proper rules for composition; you would not in conversing, even with your own family, use incorrect grammar, or impertinent language; therefore avoid saying upon paper what you would not say with your tongue.

Notes written in the third person, must be continued throughout in the same person; they are frequently very mysterious from the confusion of pronouns, yet it is a style of correspondence much used and very proper upon many occasions. For compliment, inquiry where there is no intimacy between the parties, from superiors to inferiors, the form is elegant and proper. If you receive a note written in the third person, reply in the same form, but do not reply thus to a more familiar note or letter, as it is insulting, and implies offence taken. If you wish to repel undue familiarity or impertinence in your correspondent, then reply to the epistle in the most formal language, and in the third person.

It is an extraordinary fact, that persons who have received a good education, and who use their pens frequently, will often, in writing notes, commence in the third person and then use the second or first personal pronoun, and finish by a signature; thus--

Miss Claire's compliments to Mr. James, and wishes to know whether you have finished reading my copy of "Jane Eyre," as if Mr. James had finished it, I would like to lend it to another friend.

Sincerely yours, ELLA CLAIRE.

The errors in the above are too glaring to need comment, yet, with only the alteration of names, it is a copy, verbatim, of a note written by a well educated girl.

Never sign a note written in the third person, if you begin the note with your own name. It is admissible, if the note is worded in this way:--

Will Mr. James return by bearer, the copy of "Jane Eyre" he borrowed, if he has finished reading it, and oblige his sincere friend,

ELLA CLAIRE.

If you use a quotation, never omit to put it in quotation marks, otherwise your correspondent may, however unjustly, accuse you of a desire to pass off the idea and words of another, for your own.

Avoid postscripts. Above all, never send an inquiry or compliment in a postscript. To write a long letter, upon various subjects, and in the postscript desire to be remembered to your friend's family, or inquire for their welfare, instead of a compliment, becomes insulting. It is better, if you have not time to write again and place such inquiries above your signature, to omit them entirely. Nobody likes to see their name mentioned as an afterthought.

Punctuate your letters carefully. The want of a mark of punctuation, or the incorrect placing of it, will make the most woful confusion. I give an instance of the utter absurdity produced by the alteration of punctuation marks, turning a sensible paragraph to the most arrant nonsense:

"Caesar entered; on his head his helmet; on his feet armed sandals; upon his brow there was a cloud; in his right hand his faithful sword; in his eye an angry glare; saying nothing, he sat down."

By using precisely the same words, merely altering the position of the punctuation marks, we have--

"Caesar entered on his head; his helmet on his feet; armed sandals upon his brow; there was a cloud in his right hand; his faithful sword in his eye; an angry glare saying nothing; he sat down."

Be careful, then, to punctuate properly, that you may convey to the reader the exact sense of what is in your mind.

If you receive an impertinent letter, treat it with contempt; do not answer it.

Never answer a letter by proxy, when you are able to write yourself. It is a mark of respect and love, to answer, in your own hand, all letters addressed to you. If you are obliged to write to a friend to refuse to grant a favor asked, you will lessen the pain of refusal by wording your letter delicately. Loving words, if it is a near friend, respectful, kind ones if a mere acquaintance, will make the disagreeable contents of the letter more bearable. Try to make the manner smooth and soften the hardness of the matter.

Every letter must embrace the following particulars: 1st. The date. 2d. The complimentary address. 3d. The body of the letter. 4th. The complimentary closing. 5th. The signature. 6th. The address.

There are two ways of putting the date, and the address. The first is to place them at the top of the sheet, the other is to place them after the signature.

When at the top, you write the name of your residence, or that of the city in which you reside, with the day of the month and the year, at the right hand of the first line of the sheet. Then, at the left hand of the next line, write the address, then the complimentary address below the name; thus--

WILLOW GROVE, NEW YORK, June 27th, 1859.

MRS. E. C. HOWELL,

My dear Madam, I received your letter, etc.

At the end of the letter, on the right hand of the sheet, put the complimentary closing, and then the signature; thus--

I remain, my dear Madam, With much respect, Yours sincerely, S. E. LAW.

If you place the date and address after the signature, put it at the left of the sheet; thus--

I remain, my dear Madam, With much respect, Yours sincerely, S. E. LAW.

MRS. E. C. HOWELL. June 27th, 1859.

For a long letter, it is better to put the date and address at the top of the page. For a letter of only a few lines, which ends on the first page, the second form is best. In a letter written to a person in the same city, you need not put the address under the signature; if not, write it--

S. E. LAW, WILLOW GROVE, NEW YORK.

In writing to a dear friend or relative, where there is no formality required, you may omit the name at the top of the letter; put the date and address thus--

WILLOW GROVE, NEW YORK, June 27th, 1859.

DEAR ANNA:

I write, etc.

It is best, however, to put the full name at the bottom of the last page, in case the letter is mislaid without the envelope; thus--

E. C. LAW. MISS ANNA WRIGHT.

If you use an envelope, and this custom is now universal, fold your letter neatly to fit into it; then direct on the envelope. Put first the name, then the name of the person to whose care the letter must be directed, then the street, the city, and State. If the town is small, put also the county.

This is the form:--

MISS ANNA WRIGHT, Care of Mr. John C. Wright, No. 40, Lexington street, Greensburg--Lee County. Mass.

If the city is a large one, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or any of the principal cities of the Union, you may omit the name of the county. If your letter is to go abroad, add the name of the country: as, England, or France, in full, under that of the city.

The name of the state is usually abbreviated, and for the use of my readers, I give the names of the United States with their abbreviations:

Maine, Me. New Hampshire, N. H. Vermont, Vt. Massachusetts, Mass. Rhode Island, R. I. Connecticut, Conn. New York, N. Y. New Jersey, N. J. Pennsylvania, Pa., or, Penn. Delaware, Del. Maryland, Md. Virginia, Va. North Carolina, N. C. South Carolina, S. C. Georgia, Ga., or, Geo. Alabama, Ala. Mississippi, Miss. Missouri, Mo. Louisiana, La. Tennessee, Tenn. Kentucky, Ky. Indiana, Ind. Ohio, O. Michigan, Mich. Illinois, Ill. Wisconsin, Wis. Arkansas, Ark. Texas, Tex. Iowa, Io. Florida, Flo. Oregon, O. California, Cal. Minnesota, Minn. District of Columbia, D. C. If you are writing from another country to America, put United States of America after the name of the state.

On the upper right hand corner of your envelope, put your postage-stamp.

If you send a letter by private hand, write the name of the bearer in the lower left hand corner, thus:

MRS. E. A. HOWELL, Clinton Place, Boston.

Mr. G. G. Lane.

In directing to any one who can claim any prefix, or addition, to his proper name do not omit to put that "republican title." For a clergyman, Rev. for Reverend is put before the name, thus:--

REV. JAMES C. DAY.

For a bishop:

RIGHT REVEREND E. BANKS.

For a physician:

DR. JAMES CURTIS.

or,

JAMES CURTIS, M.D.

For a member of Congress:

HON. E. C. DELTA.

For an officer in the navy:

CAPT. HENRY LEE, U. S. N.

For an officer in the army:

COL. EDWARD HOLMES, U. S. A.

For a professor:

PROF. E. L. JAMES.

If the honorary addition, LL.D., A. M., or any such title belongs to your correspondent, add it to his name on the envelope, thus:--

J. L. PETERS, LL.D.

If you seal with wax, it is best to put a drop under the turn-over, and fasten this down firmly before you drop the wax that is to receive the impression.

Cards of compliment are usually written in the third person. I give a few of the most common and proper forms.

For a party:

Miss Lee's compliments to Mr. Bates, for Wednesday evening, Nov. 18th, at 8 o'clock.

Addressed to a lady:

Miss Lee requests the pleasure of Miss Howard's company on Wednesday evening, Nov. 18th, at 8 o'clock.

For a ball, the above form, with the word Dancing, in the left hand corner.

Invitations to dinner or tea specify the entertainment thus:

Mrs. Garret's compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Howard, and requests the pleasure of their company to dine (or take tea) on Wednesday, Nov. 6th, at 6 o'clock.

The form for answering, is:--

Miss Howard accepts with pleasure Miss Lee's polite invitation for Wednesday evening.

or,

Miss Howard regrets that a prior engagement will prevent her accepting Miss Lee's polite invitation for Wednesday evening.

Mr. and Mrs. Howard's compliments to Mrs. Garret, and accept with pleasure her kind invitation for Wednesday.

or,

Mrs. Howard regrets that the severe illness of Mr. Howard will render it impossible for either herself or Mr. Howard to join Mrs. Garret's party on Wednesday next.

Upon visiting cards, left when the caller is about to leave the city, the letters p. p. c. are put in the left hand corner, they are the abbreviation of the French words, pour prendre conge, or may, with equal propriety, stand for presents parting compliments. Another form, p. d. a., pour dire adieu, may be used.

No accomplishment within the scope of human knowledge is so beautiful in all its features as that of epistolary correspondence. Though distance, absence, and circumstances may separate the holiest alliances of friendship, or those who are bound together by the still stronger ties of affection, yet the power of interchanging thoughts, words, feelings, and sentiments, through the medium of letters, adds a sweetness to the pain of separation, renovating to life, and adding to happiness.

The wide ocean may roll between those who have passed the social years of youth together, or the snow-capped Alps may rise in sublime grandeur, separating early associates; still young remembrances may be called up, and the paradise of memory made to bloom afresh with unwithered flowers of holy recollection.

Though we see not eye to eye and face to face, where the soft music of a loved voice may fall with its richness upon the ear, yet the very soul and emotions of the mind may be poured forth in such melody as to touch the heart "that's far away," and melt down the liveliest eye into tears of ecstatic rapture.

Without the ability to practice the refined art of epistolary correspondence, men would become cold and discordant: an isolated compound of misanthropy. They would fall off in forsaken fragments from the great bond of union which now adorns and beautifies all society. Absence, distance, and time would cut the silken cords of parental, brotherly, and even connubial affection. Early circumstances would be lost in forgetfulness, and the virtues of reciprocal friendship "waste their sweetness on the desert air."

Since, then, the art and practice of letter-writing is productive of so much refined and social happiness, a laudable indulgence in it must ever be commendable. While it elevates the noble faculties of the mind, it also chastens the disposition, and improves those intellectual powers which would otherwise remain dormant and useless.

Notwithstanding the various beauties and pleasures attendant upon the accomplishment, yet there are many who have given it but a slight portion of their attention, and have, therefore, cause to blush at their own ignorance when necessity demands its practice. There is no better mode by which to test the acquirements of either a young lady or gentleman than from their letters.

Letters are among the most useful forms of composition. There are few persons, who can read or write at all, who do not frequently have occasion to write them; and an elegant letter is much more rare than an elegant specimen of any other kind of writing.

The more rational and elevated the topics are, on which you write, the less will you care for your letters being seen, or for paragraphs being read out of them; and where there is no need of any secrecy, it is best not to bind your friend by promises, but to leave it to her discretion.


2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

MyChurchGrowth.com