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While the short glories brief as fair she mourns,
ON WRITING LETTERS.
The great utility and importance of Epistolary Writing, is so well known, and so universally acknowledged, that it is needless to insist on the necessity of being acquainted with an art replete with so many advantages. Those who are accomplished in this art are too happy in their knowledge to need further information concerning its excellence; and those who are unqualified to convey their sentiments to a friend, without the assistance of a third person, feel their deficiency so severely, that nothing need be said to convince them, that it is both their interest and their happiness to be instructed in what is so necessary and agreeable.
Had letters been known at the beginning of the world, Epistolary Writing would have been as old as
love and friendship; for, as soon as they began to flourish, the verbal messenger was dropped, and the language of the heart was committed to characters that faithfully preserved it, and hereby secrecy was maintained, and social intercourse rendered more free and extensive.
The Romans were perfect masters of this art, and placed it in the number of liberal and polite accomplishments; and we find Cicero mentioning with great pleasure, in some of his letters to Atticus, the elegant specimen he had received from his son in this way. It seems indeed to have formed a part in their education; and in the opinion of Mr. Locke, it well deserves to have a share in ours.
The writing of letters enters so much into all the occurrences of life, that no lady or gentleman can avoid shewing themselves in compositions of this kind. Occasions will daily force them to make this use of their pen, by which their sense, their abilities, and their education are exposed to a severer examination than by any oral discourse.
Epistolary Writing, in the common and just acceptation of the word, is confined to those compositions which serve to transact the common business of life, or to promote its most pleasing intercourses. In this point of view, letter writing is the most necessary, at the same time it is happily the most easy of all literary accomplishments.
It was a just observation of the honest Quaker, that, If a man think twice before he speak, he'll speak twice the better for it. With great propriety the above may be applied to epistolary as well as to all sorts of writing.
In letters from one relation to another, the different characters of the persons must be first considered : Thus a father in writing to a son, will use a gentle authority; a son to a father will express a filial duty. And again, in friendship the heart will dilate itselt with an honest freedom: it will applaud with sincerity, and censure with modest reluctance.
In letters concerning trade, the subject matter will be constantly kept in view, and the greatest perspicuity and brevity observed by the different correspondents; and in like manner, these rules may be applied to all other subjects, and conditions of life, namely a comprehensive idea of the subject, and an unaffected simplicity, and modesty, in expression. Nothing more need be added, only, that a constant attention to the above for a few months, will soon convince the learner, that his time has not been spent in vain.
Indeed, an assiduous attention to the study of any art even the most difficult, will enable the learner to surmount every difficulty; and writing letters to his correspondents becomes equally easy as speaking in company; and, if he carefully avoids affectation, will enable him to write in the language of the present times; his thoughts will be clear, his sentiments judicious, and his language plain, easy, sensible, elegant, and suited to the nature of the subject. As letters are the copies of conversation, just consider what you would say to your friend if he were present, and write down the very words that you would speak, which will render your epistle unaffected and intelligible.
When you sit down to write, call off your thoughts from every thing but the subject you intend to handle; consider it with attention, place it in every point of view, and examine it on every side before you begin. By this means you will lay a plan of it in your mind, which will rise like a well contrived building, beautiful, uniform, and regular; whereas, if you neglect to form some method of going through the whole, and leave it to be conducted by giddy accident, your thoughts upon any subject can never appear otherwise than as a mere heap of confusion. Consider, you are now to form a style, or, in other words, to learn the way of expressing what you think; and. your doing it well or ill for your whole life, will de pend in a great measure, upon the manner you fall into at the beginning. It is of great consequence,
therefore, to be attentive and diligent at first; and an expressive, and easy manner of writing, it is so useful, so engaging a quality, that whatever pains it cost, it will amply repay.
As to the subjects, you are allowed in this way the utmost liberty. Whatever has been done, or thought, or seen, or heard; your observations on what you know, your inquiries about what you do not know, the time, the place, the weather, every thing around stands ready for your purpose; and the more variety you intermix, the better. Set discourses require a dignity or formality of style suitable to the subject; whereas letter-writing rejects all pomp of words, and is most agreeable when most familiar. But, though lofty phrases are here improper, the stile must not therefore sink into meanness and to prevent its doing so, an easy complaisance, an open sincerity, and unaffected good nature, should appear in every place. A letter should wear an honest, cheerful countenance, like one who truly esteems, and is glad to see his friend; and not look like a fo admiring his own dress, and seeming pleased with nothing but himself.
Express your meaning as briefly as possible: long periods may please the ear, but they perplex the understanding. Let your letters abound with thoughts more than words. A short stile, and plain, strikes the mind, and fixes an impression; a tedious one is seldom clearly understood, and never long remembered. But there is still something requisite beyond all this, towards the writing a polite and agreeable letter, such as a gentleman ought to be distinguished by; and that is, an air of good-breeding and humanity, which ought constantly to appear in every expression, and gives beauty to the whole. By this, I would not be supposed to mean, overstrained or affected compliments, or any thing that way tending ; but an easy, and obliging manner of address, a choice of words which bear the most civil meaning, and a gen-' erous and good-natured complaisance.
ELOQUENCE OF POPULAR ASSEMBLIES.
The ancients divided all orations into three grand classes, the Demonstrative, the Deliberative, and the Judicial. The scope of the Demonstrative, was to praise or blame: that of the Deliberative, to advise or dissuade; that of the Judicial, to accuse or defend. The chief subject of Demonstrative Eloquence, were Panegyrics, Invectives, Gratulatory and Funeral Orations. The Deliberative was employed in matters of public concern agitated in the Senate, or before the assemblies of the people. The Judicial, is the same with the eloquence of the Bar, employed in addressing Judges, who have powers to absolve or condemn. I have in the following selections, preferred that train which Modern speaking points out, rather than the above division laid down. by the ancient Rhetoricians. Modern Eloquence is divided into three kinds, the Eloquence of popular Assemblies, of the Bar and of the Pulpit ; each of which has a distinct character, which particularly suits it. This division though in some respects different, yet in others corresponds with the ancient one.. The eloquence of the Bar is precisely the same with what the Ancient Rhetoricians called the Judicial. The Eloquence of Popular Assemblies, though mostly