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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 peruse you have no idea how beneficial this would be to your self; 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 ex.









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 return, because, in that case, they must be thought unworthy of






We have been so busy, lately, that I could not answer yours sooner. 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. Hartley. 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 go 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, 23d June, 1841.


I take pleasure in complying with your request. The fac-simile 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,


Mr. Franklin Knight.

Office of Attorney General, June 25th, 1841.


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.,

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 General Washington, and they are well exhibited in the manner in which he kept the account of his personal expenses.


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.


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? I 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 A. S



Q. What do you understand by Dialogue?

A. Conversation, real or supposed, kept up by dif ferent speakers upon any subject of interest.

Q. Is it confined to any particular subject?

A. 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.

Q. Is this branch of literature much in request?

A. Not nearly so much so as it once was; though there are still some very popular works of this class; as, Conversations on Natural Philosophy, Morehead's Dialogues on Natural and Revealed Religion, &c.

Q. Who are supposed to have excelled most in this kind of writing?

A. The ancients; particularly Plato, Socrates, and Cicero.

Q. What is supposed to have given rise to this particular de scription of composition?

A. The desire of imitating real life, or probably the conversations between ancient philosophers, who were mostly all public instructors, and their pupils.

Q. What was the particular mode of conversation pursued by Socrates called?

A. The Socratic dialogue; and consisted of a particular mode of reasoning by means of question and


Q. What kind of composition is an Enigma?

A. It is an obscure question, as, for example, What word is that in the English language, and in common use, which will describe a person or thing as not to be found in any place, and yet, without any other alteration than a separation of the syllables, will correctly describe him as being present at the same moment? The proper answer to this enigma would be-" Nowhere," "Now here."

[Note.-In connection with this lesson, each scholar should be required to write a letter and a dialogue, or several of each, in the course of the study of this book.]



Q. Do you think History an important branch of composition: A. Exceedingly so; as upon it depends all our knowledge of events beyond our own limited circle of observation.

Q. What may all be included under the term history?

A. Annals, voyages, and travels, with the lives and memoirs of distinguished individuals.

Q. How may these, in treating of composition, be included under the term history?

A. Because they are all, though very different in other respects, an account of events and transactions that are entirely past, and therefore beyond the observation of the person who reads them.

Q. By what name is the history of individuals generally known?

A. By the term biography; while that of kingdoms is called national history, or, by way of eminence, merely history.

Q. What is the chief excellence of all these?

A. That of being a true report of what has actually taken place, without any appearance of either distortion or exaggeration.

Q. In what style should history be written?

A. The parts that relate to common events and occurrences should be simple and perspicuous; while those which relate to great and splendid actions may rise to the highest elevation of style.

Q. What, upon the whole, may be considered the best history? A. That which is at once the most faithful in its details, and the most interesting to the mind of the reader.

Q. On what does fidelity in history depend?

A. Upon the writer's diligence of inquiry and freedom from prejudice.

Q. And on what does the interest of history depend?

A. Partly on the subject, but more upon the manner in which it is treated.

Q. How do you know this?

A. By the circumstance that, in the hands of some writers, every subject acquires interest; while, in those of others, every subject becomes dull and insipid.

Q. Have we many good historians?

A. Many excellent writers of national history; as, Robertson, Gibbon, Hume, Bancroft, Prescott, &c., but few good writers of biography.

Q. What are the most common faults in biography?

A. It generally displays either a minuteness which renders it tedious, or a partiality which excites disgust.

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