Pushed up the visor of his cap, and said:
“That low, black building is the cause of all.”
And would you know what ’t was that wrought such ill,
And what the name of that low building was?
Go to thy neighbor, read to him these lines,
And if he does not tell thee right, at first,
Then come to me and you shall know its name.
There is nothing from which more real enjoyment can be derived than the art of letter-writing. All praise to the inventive genius that gave to man a written language, and with it the implements with which to talk across the world! Did you ever think, reader, what a world this would be without pen, ink, and paper? Then, the absence of friends were painful, and, as we grasped the friendly hand, bade our acquaintances “good-by,” and saw the last, far-distant wave of the parting signal, we might turn aside to weep, as we thought we should never hear from them till we met face to face-perhaps never. But, as it is, when friends leave, we expect a message from their hearts soon, to solace our own. How we watch, and how we hope! What a welcome rap is the postman’s! With what eagerness we loosen the seal; with what pleasure we read, from date to signature, every word!
It may not be uninteresting, nor wholly uninstructive, to examine the various modes of letter-writing, and to spend a brief half-hour with those who have by their letters made grave or gay impressions on the public mind.
Some write letters with great ease; others, with great difficulty. Miss Seward was an inveterate letter-writer. There have been published six large volumes of letters written by her; besides these, she left twelve quarto volumes of letters to a publisher of London, and these, it is said, are but a twelfth part of her correspondence. It seems as though she must have written nothing but letters, so many and various were they; but her fame as an authoress will convince any one that her industry overcame what might seem an impossibility, and that her genius in this particular resembled that of the steam-writing machine, Dumas, of the present time.
Lord Peterborough had such a faculty for this kind of composition, that, when ambassador to Turin, according to Pope, who says he was a witness of the performance, he employed nine amanuenses, who were seated in a room, around whom Lord Peterborough walked and dictated to each what he should write. These nine wrote to as many different persons, upon, perhaps, nine times as many subjects; yet the ambassador retained in his mind the connection of each letter so completely as to close each in a highly-finished and appropriate manner.
These facts show the ease and rapidity of some writers. In contradistinction to these are the letters of many eminent Latin writers, who actually bestowed several months of close attention upon a single letter. Mr. Owen says: “Such is the defect of education among the modern Roman ladies, that they are not troubled to keep up any correspondence; because they cannot write. A princess of great beauty, at Naples, caused an English lady to be informed that she was learning to write; and hoped, in the course of time, to acquire the art of correspondence.”