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NEWSTEAD ABBEY, Sept. 20, 1814.

Here's to her who long

Hath waked the poet's sigh!

The girl who gave to song

What gold could never buy.

My dear Moore, I am going to be married- that is, I am accepted, and one usually hopes the rest will follow. My mother of the Gracchi (that are to be) you think too straight-laced for me, although the paragon of only children, and invested with 'golden opinions of all sorts of men,' and full of most blessed conditions' as Desdemona herself. Miss Milbanke is the lady, and I have her father's invitation to proceed there in my elect capacity,— which, however, I cannot do till I have settled some business in London, and got a blue coat.

She is said to be an heiress, but of that I really know nothing certainly, and shall not inquire. But I do know that she has talents and excellent qualities, and you will not deny her judgment, after having refused six suitors and taken me. Now, if you have

anything to say against this, pray do: my mind's made up, positively fixed, determined, and therefore I will listen to reason, because now it can do no harm. Things may occur to break it off, but I will hope not. In the meantime, I tell you (a secret, by-theby,—at least, till I know she wishes it to be public) that I have proposed and am accepted. You need not be in a hurry to wish me joy, for we mayn't be married for months. I am going to town tomorrow; but expect to be here, on my way there, within a fortnight.

If this had not happened, I should have gone to Italy. In my way down, perhaps, you will meet me at Nottingham, and come over with me here. I need not say that nothing will give me greater pleasure. I must, of course, reform thoroughly; and, seriously, if I can contribute to her happiness, I shall secure my own. She is so good a person, that-that-in short, I wish I was a better.

Ever, etc.

Contemporary with Pope, the centre of an admiring circle, 'the glass of fashion and the mould of form,' lived the celebrated Miss Pierrepont, better known under the name and title of Lady Mary Wortley Montague; a woman of cultivated intellect, good-natured wit, lively in

description, clever and amusing in gossip, able when in earnest, to throw maxims of common sense and worldly wisdom into plain, forceful words; yet, withal, too masculine, writing out of the clearness of the head rather than the abundance of the heart.

Walpole's letters-three thousand or more in number would be worth more if two-thirds of them had been destroyed. We can only mention the full, clear, kindly Southey, the genial Sir Walter Scott, the grotesquely humorous Charles Lamb, the droll Sidney Smith, the pen of Hood, dipped alike in the springs of laughter and the sources of tears.' The list of these might be supplemented by the names of many others, lately passed away, or living, whose correspondence, priceless to its direct recipients, would find its value justly estimated by posterity.

Of course, a letter should be properly dated, addressed, signed, and superscribed; should be legible, grammatical, and perspicuous; properly keyed, and correct, but unaffected. Let a clear head dictate the promptings of a free heart. When most careless and confidential, remember the sentiments of Landor: 'I think it as improper and indecorous to write a stupid or a silly note to you, as one in a bad hand or on coarse paper. Familiarity ought to have a worse name, if it relaxes in its attentiveness to please.' Howell's conception of the epistolary style is


It was a quaint difference the ancients did put betwixt a letter and an oration; that the one should be attired like a woman, the other like a man. The latter of the two is allowed large side-robes, as long periods, parentheses, similes, examples, and other parts of rhetorical flourishes: but a letter or epistle should be short-coated and closely crouched; a hungerskin becomes a letter more handsomely than a gown. Indeed we should write as we speak, and that is a true and familiar letter which expresseth one's mind, as if he were discoursing with the party to whom he writes in succinct and

short terms. The tongue and the pen are both of them interpreters of the mind; but I hold the pen to be the more faithful of the two. The tongue in udo posita, being seated in a most slippery place, may fail and falter in her sudden extemporal expressions, but the pen, having a greater advantage of premeditation, is not so subject to error, and leaves things behind it upon firm and authentic record.

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It might not be straining a point to say that the best letter-writers are either women, or else men having some more or less feminine traits. Would you desire at this day,' says De Quincey, to read our noble language in its native beauty, picturesque form, idiomatic propriety, rich in its phraseology, delicate yet sinewy in its composition -steal the mail-bags, and break open all the letters in female handwriting. Three out of four will have been written by that class of women who have the most leisure and the most interest in a correspondent by the postthat class who combine more of intelligence, cultivation, and thoughtfulness, than any other in Europe - the class of unmarried women above twenty-five.'



To write just treatises requireth time in the writer, and leisure in the reader, which is the cause which hath made me choose to write certain brief notes, set down rather significantly than curiously, which I have called essays.LORD BACON.

The essay writer is the lay preacher upon that vague mass of doctrine which we dignify by the name of knowledge of life or of human nature.--CORNHILL MAGAZINE.


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T is the province of some to spread out a subject in all its breadth and variety; of others, to touch upon many subjects, but to exhaust none. These gleaners in the field of thought have swelled the volume of our literature with a class of productions known as essays. The term literally signifies an attempt, a trial, or endeavor. It was in this sense that Locke modestly styled his great work an Essay on the Human Understanding.' Before him, Bacon had dedicated to the elder brother of Charles I a collection of short formal pieces on life and manners, which he chose to call Essays. Compact and pithy, inexhaustible in aliment, and rich in imagery, they remain the originals and still the models of the severer and statelier essay writing. These, of all my works,' he said, 'have been most current, for that, as it seems, they come home to men's businesse and bosomes.' Fifty years later, Cowley further recommended this kind of composition by his agreeable speculations in moral and social science. Temple and Shaftesbury are principally known by this species of effort. Then came the celebrated essayists, Steele, Addison, Johnson, Goldsmith, and others. The

manner in which these essays were given to the world, on separate sheets-Tatler, Spectator, Rambler, and similar papers at intervals of five days, distinguished them from everything of the kind that had preceded, and was a great cause of their almost incredible popularity. They were peculiar, too, in the circumstance of being suggested by the vices and fashionable follies of the day. The end was moral health; and thus sermons, veiled in pleasantry, light, graceful, and fastidious, were preached on every conceivable text, from the brevity of life to the extravagance of female toilets. To them, especially to Addison, must be referred the introduction of a polite taste for letters. Their success induced a crowd of followers, whose influence, in the aggregate, did much to reduce our language to grammatical correctness and rhetorical force.

Under the auspices of a confederacy of men of wit and learning in the early part of the present century, essay writing assumed a new phase. We allude to the foundation of the Reviews and Magazines,—Edinburgh, London Quarterly, North American, Blackwood's, Westminster, all of which became the exemplars of numerous similar publications. The primary object of most was to furnish thorough criticisms of books and careful papers on the current topics of politics and reform. As their scope enlarged, contributions were received on any subject to which the writer had devoted special attention. Their limits and popular purpose required that the articles should be condensed and spirited. Hence a peculiar style-brief, pithy, trenchant, often eloquent, but always positive. The master spirits were Jeffrey, Sidney Smith, Lamb, Hazlitt, De Quincey, and Macaulay.

Meanwhile Irving's Sketch Book appeared, forming in America an epoch in this kind of literature; of the same generic character as Addison's essays, but with important specific peculiarities. The former have a direct moral

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