A gentleman is struck with the appearance of a lady and is desirous of her acquaintance, but there are no means within his reach of obtaining an introduction, and he has no friends who are acquainted with herself or her family. In this dilemma, there is no alternative but a letter.
There is, besides, a delicacy, a timidity, and nervousness in love, which makes many men desire some mode of communication rather than the speech, which in such cases too often fails them. In short, there are reasons enough for writing — but when the enamored youth has set about penning a letter to the object of his passion, how difficult does he find it! How many sheets of paper does he spoil! How many efforts does he make before he succeeds in writing one to suit him.
It may be doubted whether as many reams of paper have ever been used in writing letters upon all other subjects, as have been consumed upon epistles of love; and there is probably no man living who has not at some time written, or desired to write, some missive which might explain his passion to the amiable being of whom he was enamored; and it has been the same, so far as can be judged, in all the generations of the world.
Affairs of the heart — the delicate and interesting preliminaries of marriage, are oftener settled by the pen than in any other manner.
To write the words legibly, to spell them correctly, to point them properly, to begin every sentence and every proper name with a capital letter, as every one is supposed to learn at school.
To give examples of letters would be useless and absurd, as each particular case must necessarily require a widely different epistle, and the judgment and feelings of the party writing, must be left to control both the style and substance of the letter.
For a love letter, good paper is indispensable. When it can be procured, that of a costly quality, gold-edged perfumed, ornamented in the French style, may be properly used. The letter should be carefully enveloped, and nicely sealed with a fancy wafer — not a common one of course, where any other can be had; or what is better, plain or fancy sealing wax.
As all persons are more or less governed by first impressions and externals, the whole affair should be as neat and elegant as possible.
>> Also see:
- How to win the favor of ladies (1850)
- The etiquette of marriage: Popping the question (1850)
- The etiquette of marriage: The ceremony & after (1850)
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Source publication: Facts for the people, or Things worth knowing
Publication date: 1850
Notes: Top image courtesy of University of Washington archive; Envelope via the LOC / From the chapter "Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen" / The etiquette of courtship & marriage