The lady, or the tiger? and other stories/Every Man His Own Letter-Writer


[Mr. Editor: I find, in looking over the various "Complete Letter-writers," where so many persons of limited opportunities find models for their epistolary correspondence, that there are many contingencies incident to our social and domestic life which have not been provided for in any of these books. I therefore send you a few models of letters suitable to various occasions, which I think may be found useful. I have endeavored, as nearly as possible, to preserve the style and diction in use in the ordinary "Letter-writers."

Yours, etc.,F. R. S.]

No. 1.

From a little girl living with an unmarried aunt, to her mother, the widow of a Unitarian clergyman, who is engaged as matron of an Institution for Deaf Mutes, in Wyoming Territory.

New Brunswick, N.J., Aug. 12th, 1877.

Revered Parent: As the morning sun rose, this day, upon the sixth anniversary, both of my birth and of my introduction to one who, though separated from me by vast and apparently limitless expanses of territory, is not only my maternal parent but my most trustworthy coadjutor in all points of duty, propriety and social responsibility, I take this opportunity of assuring you of the tender and sympathetic affection I feel for you, and of the earnest solicitude with which I ever regard you. I take pleasure in communicating the intelligence of my admirable physical condition, and hoping that you will continue to preserve the highest degree of health compatible with your age and arduous duties, I am,

Your affectionate and dutiful daughter,

No. 2.

From a young gentleman, who having injured the muscles of the back of his neck by striking them while swimming, on a pane of glass, shaken from the window of a fore-and-aft schooner, by a severe collision with a wagon loaded with stone, which had been upset in a creek, in reply to a cousin by marriage who invites him to invest his savings in a patent machine for the disintegration of mutton suet.

Belleville Hospital, Center Co., O.,
Jan. 12, 1877.

My Respected Cousin: The incoherency of your request with my condition [here state the condition] is so forcibly impressed upon my sentient faculties [enumerate and define the faculties] that I cannot refrain from endeavoring to avoid any hesitancy in making an effort to produce the same or a similar impression upon your perceptive capabilities. With kindest regards for the several members of your household [indicate the members], I am ever,

Your attached relative,

No. 3.

From a superintendent of an iron-foundry, to a lady who refused his hand in her youth, and who has since married an inspector of customs in one of the southern states, requesting her, in case of her husband's decease, to give him permission to address her, with a view to a matrimonial alliance.

Brier Iron Mills, Secauqua, Ill., July 7, '77.

Dear Madam: Although I am fully aware of the robust condition of your respected husband's health, and of your tender affection for him and your little ones, I am impelled by a sense of the propriety of providing in time for the casualties and fortuities of the future, to ask of you permission, in case of your (at present unexpected) widowhood, to renew the addresses which were broken off by your marriage to your present estimable consort.

An early answer will oblige,
Yours respectfully,

No. 4.

From a cook-maid in the family of a dealer in silver-plated casters, to the principal of a boarding-school, enclosing the miniature of her suitor.

1317 East 17th St., N.Y., July 30, '77.

Venerated Madam: The unintermittent interest you have perpetually indicated in the direction of my well-being stimulates me to announce my approaching conjugal association with a gentleman fully my peer in all that regards social position or mental aspiration, and, at the same time, to desire of you, in case of the abrupt dissolution of the connection between myself and my present employers, that you will permit me to perform, for a suitable remuneration, the lavatory processes necessary for the habiliments of your pupils.

Your respectful well-wisher,

No. 5.

From a father to his son at school, in answer to a letter asking for an increase of pocket-money.

My Dear Joseph: Your letter asking for an augmentation of your pecuniary stipend has been received, together with a communication from your preceptor, relative to your demeanor at the seminary. Permit me to say, that should I ever again peruse an epistle similar to either of these, you may confidently anticipate, on your return to my domicile, an excoriation of the cuticle which will adhere to your memory for a term of years.

Your affectionate father,

No. 6.

From the author of a treatise on molecular subdivision, who has been rejected by the daughter of a cascarilla-bark-refiner, whose uncle has recently been paid sixty-three dollars for repairing a culvert in Indianapolis, to the tailor of a converted Jew on the eastern shore of Maryland, who has requested the loan of a hypodermic syringe.

West Orange, Jan. 2, 1877.

Dear Sir: Were it not for unexpected obstacles, which have most unfortuitously arisen, to a connection which I hoped, at an early date, to announce, but which, now, may be considered, by the most sanguine observer, as highly improbable, I might have been able to obtain a pecuniary loan from a connection of the parties with whom I had hoped to be connected, which would have enabled me to redeem, from the hands of an hypothecater the instrument you desire, but which now is as unattainable to you as it is to

Yours most truly,

No. 7.

From an embassador to Tunis, who has become deaf in his left ear, to the widow of a manufacturer of perforated under-clothing, whose second son has never been vaccinated.

Tunis, Africa, Aug. 3, '77.

Most Honored Madam: Permit me, I most earnestly implore of you, from the burning sands of this only too far distant foreign clime to call to the notice of your reflective and judicial faculties the fact that there are actions which may be deferred until too recent a period.

With the earnest assurance of my most distinguished regard, I am, most honored and exemplary madam, your obedient servant to command,


No. 8.

From a hog-and-cattle reporter on a morning paper, who has just had his hair cut by a barber whose father fell off a wire-bridge in the early part of 1867, to a gardener, who has written to him that a tortoise-shell cat, belonging to the widow of a stage-manager, has dug up a bed of calceolarias, the seed of which had been sent him by the cashier of a monkey-wrench factory, which had been set on fire by a one-armed tramp, whose mother had been a sempstress in the family of a Hicksite Quaker.

New York, Jan. 2, '77.

Dear Sir: In an immense metropolis like this, where scenes of woe and sorrow meet my pitying eye at every glance, and where the living creatures, the observation and consideration of which give me the means of maintenance, are, always, if deemed in a proper physical condition, destined to an early grave, I can only afford a few minutes to condole with you on the loss you so feelingly announce. These minutes I now have given.

Very truly yours,

No. 9.

From the wife of a farmer, who, having sewed rags enough to make a carpet, is in doubt whether to sell the rags, and with the money buy a mince-meat chopper and two cochin-china hens of an old lady, who, having been afflicted with varicose veins, has determined to send her nephew, who has been working for a pump-maker in the neighboring village, but who comes home at night to sleep, to a school kept by a divinity student whose father has been educated by the clergyman who had married her father and mother, and to give up her little farm and go to East Durham, N.Y., to live with a cousin of her mother, named Amos Murdoch, or to have the carpet made up by a weaver who had bought oats from her husband, for a horse which had been lent to him for his keep—being a little tender in his fore-feet—by a city doctor, but who would still owe two or three dollars after the carpet was woven, and keep it until her daughter, who was married to a dealer in second-hand blowing-engines for agitating oil, should come to make her a visit, and then put it down in her second-story front chamber, with a small piece of another rag-carpet, which had been under a bed, and was not worn at all, in a recess which it would be a pity to cut a new carpet to fit, to an unmarried sister who keeps house for an importer of Limoges faïence.

Greenville, July 20, '77.

Dear Maria: Now that my winter labors, so unavoidably continued through the vernal season until now, are happily concluded, I cannot determine, by any mental process with which I am familiar, what final disposition of the proceeds of my toil would be most conducive to my general well-being. If, therefore, you will bend the energies of your intellect upon the solution of this problem, you will confer a most highly appreciated favor upon

Your perplexed sister,