All success to great libraries, and skillful book-bindery, and exquisite typography, and fine-tinted plate paper, and beveled boards, and gilt edges, and Turkey morocco! but we are determined that frescoed alcoves shall not lord it over common shelves, and Russia binding shall not overrule sheepskin, and that “full calf” shall not look down on pasteboard. We war not against great libraries. We only plead for the better use of small ones.
Reformation in letter-writing.
We congratulate the country on the revolution in epistolary correspondence. Through postal cards we not only come to economy in stamps, and paper, and ink, and envelopes, but to education in brevity. As soon as men and women get facility in composition they are tempted to prolixity. Hence some of us formed the habit of beginning to read a letter on the second page, because we knew that the writer would not get a-going before that; and then we were apt to stop a page or two before the close, knowing that the remaining portions would be taken in putting down the brakes.
The postal card is a national deliverance. Without the conventional “I take my pen in hand,” or other rigmarole—which being translated means, “I am not quite ready to begin just now, but will very soon”—the writer states directly, and in ten or twenty words, all his business.
While no one can possibly have keener appreciation than we of letters of sympathy, encouragement and good cheer, there is a vast amount of letter-writing that amounts to nothing. Some of them we carry in our pockets, and read over and over again, until they are worn out with handling. But we average about twenty begging letters a day. They are always long, the first page taken up in congratulations upon “big heart,” “wide influence,” “Christian sympathies,” and so on, winding up with a solicitation for five dollars, more or less. We always know from the amount of lather put on that we are going to be shaved. The postal card will soon invade even that verbosity, and the correspondent will simply say, “Poor—very—children ten—chills and fever myself—no quinine—desperate— your money or your life—Bartholomew Wiggins, Dismal Swamp, Ia.”
The advantage of such a thing is that, if you do not answer such a letter no offence is taken, it is so short and costs only a cent; whereas, if the author had taken a great sheet of letter paper, filled it with compliments and graceful solicitations, folded it, and run the gummed edge along the lips at the risk of being poisoned, and stuck on a stamp (after tedious examination of it to see whether or not it had been used before, or had only been mauled in your vest pocket), the offence would have been mortal, and you would have been pronounced mean and unfit for the ministry.