The Art of Writing Letters

From the chapter on letter writing in The Lady’s Guide to Perfect Genitility, by Emily Thornwell, 1856 – the letter to be sent inviting your best friend to be a bridesmaid at your wedding.

MY DEAR JANETTE You have witnessed the attentions which have so long been paid me by Mr Weston and are of course aware that he has addressed them to me as suitor. I can assure you it has not been without a very close scrutiny into his moral character, his temper, tastes, ideas and habits, that I have come to the conclusion of being his partner in the wedded life. His disposition is always cheerful. I know him to be a man of the nicest honor and I rejoice to say as I have hitherto found that we seldom fail to coincide in our opinions, which shows at least that we are actuated by the same tastes. I have therefore every reasonable prospect of enjoying happiness in the married state for which I am convinced, from your friendship to me, you will cheerfully offer me your congratulations. The day of our union has at length been decided and the mention of this brings me at once to the chief purport of my letter, which is that of inviting you to become my bridesmaid. Allow me to promise myself this favor. The last day of this month has been fixed upon as the auspicious day upon which, if you have no other engagement, may I rely upon seeing you. An early reply and if possible a favorable one is the earnest wish of Your affectionate friend NELLIE HART 

And when Janette runs off with Mr Weston, here is the letter you send him:

Dear Mr Weston 

In my behavior toward you of late you have no doubt observed a certain alteration in my speech and manner amounting perhaps to coolness, or you may have thought aversion. If so you will be less surprised at the receipt of this letter which is meant to intimate that your addresses to me must henceforth cease. It is true that many protestations of a sincere attachment have passed between us; but, Sir, those protestations were made under the supposition that neither party would descend to deception – this you have done in what particular I will not advert to, since your own consciousness will not fail to satisfy you fully on that point The subject of my letter will not admit of my being prolix. I have therefore only this to add that I expect you will return whatever letters you may have of mine in your possession. I herewith send you yours, also certain presents which I wish no longer to regard as mine and which I received from your hands when I believed you incapable of deception or of wounding the happiness of Sir Yours disappointedly ELEANOR HART 

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