Letter Writing


Is it true that the charming art of letter-writing has gone out with the introduction of the halfpenny post-card? "There is a great deal to be said on both sides" would, doubtless, be Sir Roger de Coverley's decision; anyway, if we do not write letters, the useful little post-card is not to blame. But, do we not? Have we not all correspondents whose epistles are delightful in their rippling, sparkling flow of talk, with just the little touches of tenderness and confidence which make a letter a personal thing? Do we not know what it is to open an envelope with the certainty that we shall take pure delight in every line of its enclosure? Because we love the writer? Not necessarily. The morning's post may bring you an epistle from an unknown correspondent which shall captivate you, fill you with a sense of well-being for a whole day; and this, not because of the contents, but simply because the gracious courtesy of it puts you on good terms with yourself and the world. One man may refuse a favour and another grant it; and the way in which the refusal is couched may give you more pleasure than the concession.

Possibly, sincere deference is the ingredient which gives flavour to a gracious letter; and if we do not write epistles as charming as those of our grandfathers and grandmothers, is it because we do not think enough of one another to make a spontaneous outpouring worth while? The children of parents living in India usually write and receive interesting letters, and this, because children and parents are glad to make the most of the only means of knowing each other. Perhaps no opportunity of writing detailed, animated letters to children should be omitted. Let them grow up with the idea that it is worth while to write good letters. That schoolboy whose correspondence for a term was comprised in two post-cards, "All right:" "Which train?" is not a good model, except as brevity is the soul of wit!