Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

second place, in one part, with those in the first or second place, in the other part; or, dividing it into three columns, and applying this rule alternately; first, to the first column, and then to the second : and a number of other ways there are, too numerous to mention.

The third way of writing secretly, is, First, by writing with the juice of a lemon, the juice of an onion, urine, or the spirits of vitriol, which will not appear legible till it be holden to the fire.

Secondly, by tracing the letters on the back of the paper, after it is written, with a pen-dipped in milk; these letters, so traced, will not appear legibie, till the paper be holden to the fire; then they will appear of a bluish colour. But, in this manner of writing, the paper should be very thin. .

The last method I Mall mention, is, by using sympathetic inks, as they are generally called: there are various prepara. tions under this name. I shall mention only two, aud which may safely be depended upon.

1. If a little green vitriol be dissolved in water, with a little bitrous acid, the characters written with it will be inviGble, till they are welted with the following mixture :

Put iwo ounces of small Aleppo galls in half a pint of water ; when it has stood three or four days, pour it off. A pencil, dipped in this mixture, and drawn over the letters, written with the former ink, will render thein of a beautiful black.

Or letters written with the latter ink, will be invisible, till they are wetted with a solution of Prussian blue in water; and letters written with this solution, will also be invisible, till wetted with the above ink of galls, and water.

2. Incorporate one ounce of litharge of lead with two ounces of distilled vinegar; let it stand twenty-four hours, then strain it off, and let it settle.

Put one ounce of orpiment, in powder, and two ounces" of quick lime, in a quart bottle, with water fufficient to

cover them about an inch above the ingredients. . Place the bottle in a moderate heat, for twenty-four hours:, then pouc it off, and cork it close.

The letters written with the former of these inks, will not appear till they be exposed to the vapours of this latter iuk; Esben they will appear perfectly plain.

[ocr errors][merged small]



Or every species of composition, there is none that, in its nature, approaches nearer to familiar conversation. (except plain dialogue) theni epistolary writing. A letter is a direct address from one person to another, and should, therefore, contain all the eafe, elegance, and familiarity of conversation; paying the same regard to the nature of the subject, and the person addressed, as in a personal application.

The principal characteristics of a letter are, nature, Simpli. city, sprightliness, and wit. The style of a letter thould be natural; and appear to express the genuine feelings of the mind. It should not indicate the least mark of fudy. There should be no formal division of the parts, no laboured introduction, nor pathetic conclufion; but all should appear the spontaneous product of the writer's own emotions. It should likewise he wholly devoid of any complexity or ambiguity of expreffion : for this purpose, the sentences should be thort, and the style perspicuous. It should contain all the vivacity of conversation. And, if the writer be master of any wit, a letter (if the subject permit) affords as proper a place for the


display of it, as any composition whatever. A gentle satire, a repartee; or a burlefque, may sometimes be introduced with success; nay, it is often expected, in letters on domestic subjects, between familiar friends.

It is needless to give copies of letters on different occasions, in such a number as is usually done; the subjects of let. ters being as various as those of conversation : any attempt, therefore, to give specimens of letters, to serve for every purpose for which the writer may have occasion, mua be absurd. A learner who copies his letter from any prece. dent, will not be able to express his own thoughts with ease and freedom. By being confined to a copy, from which he will find it difficult to depart, his letters will carry an awk. ward tiffness and formality; and he will be a long time before he acquires that freedom, and unadorned elegance, always expected in extemporary writing.

To form av epistolary writer no more is requisite than an intimate acquaintance with Englith grammar; whereby he will be able to deliver his sentiments with propriety in conversation. If he possess this qualification, it will supersede the necessity of any artificial helps; but if this be wanting, other aftstances will be of little use, except to serve to publith his deficiency to his correspondents.

Nevertheless, in conformity to general custom, I have added a few examples. It need hardly be mentioned, that the name, by which the person is addressed, be placed on the left hand side of the page, at the top of the letter; and the letter begun just under it: the name of the writer at the bottom of the letter, on the right band; the date of the letter, either on the right hand, at the top of the letter, or on the left, and at the bottom; and the letter should conclude with the name by which the receiver of it is addressed at the beginning.

[merged small][ocr errors]

From a Mafter to his Scholar, during the Holidays.

Dear George,

I take the first opportunity that has offered, to inquire after your health, and that of your friends. And I expect, that you will regularly answer each of my letters, that, during this time of leisure, I may have an opportunity of observing, whether you remember, or have forgotten, the rules I formerly gave you, concerning writing letters. I now, therefore, call upon you to put those rules into pra&ice. But, willing to grant you every indulgence at this time of festivity, and left your recollection fhould not be so clear, as when in constant exercise, I Mall briefly repeat those rules, to which, I hope, you will pay a ftri&t attention.

You remember, no doubt, my first direction was, to be very correct and circumspect in your spelling: this is the first, and most essential requisite in all kinds of writing: and make use of no word, of which you do not perfe&tly understand the sense. The vulgar part of the world, in general, are very much addicted to this absurdity. You will, now, often hear people condemn a work, as ungrammatical, and deficient in the ornaments of style, though themselves be unacquainted with the first form of grammar, and know not the meaning of a flower in rhetoric.—Avoid repetitions : they always of. fend the judicious ear, and are seldom proper, except when they enforce any particular meaning, or explain it more fully, Parentheses are always inelegant, and should never be used (but when absolutely necessary), as they render the sentence too complex. Never use the long / in a word, except when two meet, in which case it is necessary for distinction. A letter interlined has a very ungraceful appearance; it is also an af. front: for it indicates either laziness or indifference, or both. Use no capital letters, but at the beginning of a sentence, to proper names, and to the first word of every line in poetry. When you wish to lay a strong emphasis on any word, or in


tend that it thould be particularly noticed, it is common to draw a froke under it with the pen, thus; such words, when printed, are put into Italics; but when these emphatical words are employed too frequently, they lose their effect, and when used improperly, they puzzle the reader. Beware of using many monofy Hables, they are insignificant words ; nor use many too long words, left you exceed comprehenfion. Shun

particles, as much as poffible: be very sparing of your ands, fors, and buts. Be not fond of inventing new words; there

are enough, already, to express all our ideas; and more, I fear, than you will ever fully comprehend. Be attentive to the rules of grammar, and do not jumble the present, past, and fasure times of the verb together; as many incorrect writers do: neither cou found the genders of the pronoun; por use the fingular, for the plural verb; which is frequently done: as, goe was, for you want. If the fentence be condi. tional, ufe the conditional mode. Let your style be simple and perfpicuous, and your sentences fhort: let it be as concise as poffible; for a prolix writer tires the patience of his reader. Observe that your points be all placed justly, which will add grace and perfpicuity to your writing. These hints I hope will be attended to : let me see the effects of them in your next letter; while I remain, with compliments to your father and mother,

Dear George,
Briiire, Your fincere friend, &c. &c.
Fax, 2, 1803.

The Scholar's Anfuer.

Honoured Sir,

I return you my fincere thanks for the kind attention you shew me. It Mall always be my study and am. bition to follow your instructions. I never write a letter to


« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »