Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I stumbled upon this gem, published by David Hogan in 1818, under the immoderate title:
The New Universal Letter Writer or, complete Art of Polite Correspondence.

There are earlier versions, but this one has been scanned into Google books in it's entirety and has given me great pleasure over the past few days. I agree completely with Mr. Hogan's simple guidance, and would like to think I put to practise in letters and posts this ideal:

"Letters are most agreeable when most familiar. But, though lofty phrases are improper, the style should not be low and mean; but let an easy complaisance, an open sincerity, and an unaffected good nature, appear in all you say; for a fine letter does not consist in saying fine things, but in expressing ordinary ones with elegance and propriety." pg.3

Even though this text is going on 200 years old, the information is still practical. I know email and cell phones have become the means to an end in communication, but never underestimate the important human connection a well written letter, journal, or blog, offers. For those of you who do appreciate the art of correspondence, this excerpted advertisement should bring you a laugh.

"...In fact ,this book,...ought not be rejected from the Gentleman's private Library- and deserves to take precedence on the Young Lady's Toilette, of most of the novels and light reading with which it is too often cumbered." pg.8


Carmen said...

Just downloaded the book. I love all things grammar related (the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss is one of my favorites). I'm also very excited to read "A Minister's Advice To A Young Lady" as well as "Rules For Reading With Propriety." Good find!

Mo said...

I love getting and writing letters, but it seems to have died out. I think that's why I like blogging so much (and not email or cell phones)...because it doesn't facilitate the use of abbreviations and slang. The written word is beautiful for a reason :)