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prived of that portion of temper and discretion which are necessary to the contemplation of beauty, it is there. It is the very temple of discomfort, and the only charity that the builder can extend to us is to show us, plainly as may as may be, how soonest to escape from it. The whole system of railroad travelling is addressed to people who, being in a hurry, are therefore, for the time being, miserable. No one would travel in that manner who could help it, who had time to go leisurely over hills and between hedges, instead of through tunnels and between banks; at least those who would have no sense of beauty so acute as we need consult it at the station. The railroad is, in all its relations, a matter of earnest business, to be got through as soon as possible. It transmutes a man from a traveller into a living parcel. For the time, he has parted with the nobler characteristics of his humanity for the sake of a planetary motion of locomotion. Do not ask him to admire any thing. You might as well ask the wind. Carry him safely, dismiss him soon : he will thank you for nothing else. All attempts to please him in any other way are mere mockery, and insults to things by which you endeavour to do so. There never was more flagrant nor impertinent folly than the smallest portion of ornament in any thing connected with railroads or near them. Keep them out of the way, take them through the ugliest country you can find, confess them the miserable things they are, and spend nothing upon them but for safety or speed.”
Now turning from Satire on ornament misplaced to the sense of beauty well-placed :
* Seven Lamps of Architecture p. 106. The Lamp of Beauty.
“The question of greatest external or internal decoration depends entirely on the condition of probable repose. It was a wise feeling which made the streets of Venice so rich in external ornament, for there is no couch of rest like the gondola. So, again, there is no subject of street ornament so wisely chosen as the fountain, where it is a fountain of use; for it is just there that perhaps the happiest pause takes place in the labour of the day, when the pitcher is rested on the edge of it, and the breath of the bearer is drawn deeply, and the hair swept from the fore head, and the uprightness of the form declined against the marble ledge, and the sound of the kind word or light laugh mixes with the trickle of the falling water, heard shriller and shriller as the pitcher fills. What pause is so sweet as that—so full of the depth of ancient days, so softened with the calm of pastoral solitude 7”
Characteristics of a true letter—Historical and familiar letters—Lord |Bacon—Dr. Arnold’s remarks—Despatches of Marlborough—Nelson—Franklin—John Adams—Reception by George III.--Washington's correspondence—Bishop White's anecdote of Washington —American diplomatic correspondence—Lord Chatham's Letters— Duke of Wellington’s—Archdeacon Hare’s remarks on—General Taylor's official letters—Familiar letters—Cowley—Impropriety of publishing private correspondence—Arbuthnot and Johnson’s remarks on—Burns's Letters—Tennyson—Howell’s Letters—The Paston Letters—Lady Russell’s—Pope's—Hartley Coleridge's remark —Chesterfield—Horace Walpole–Swift and Gray's—Cowper's— Scott's—Byron's—Southey's, and Lamb's Letters of Dedication— Lamb's to his sister.
IN devoting a lecture to what I have entitled “The Literature of Letter-Writing,” I had less hope of being able to make the treatment of such a subject interesting than of pointing out some of the uses of this department, and suggesting the agreeable and instructive reading which is to be found in collections of letters. It is a department which may be viewed in several aspects, either as tributary to history, political or literary, or as a form
# March 20, 1851. Had I no other reason for publishing this, the ast of this series of lectures, I could find one in the familiarity it shows with American history and its original materials. Thoroughly mbued as was the writer with the spirit and sentiment of English iterature, he was as well-informed in all that related to his own counry, its men, and its republican institutions. W. B. R. 375
of biography—thus helping us to a knowledge of the movements of mankind, or of individual character, by its written disclosures. Our English literature is enriched with collections of remarkable and very various interest: so varied as to furnish an abundant adaptation to different tastes. In treating this subject, my aim will be to endeavour not to wander off into either history or biography, but, as far as possible, to confine my attention, to the epistolary literature in itself, making some comments on the principal collections, and incidentally considering the character of a true letter. It happens not unfrequently that the form of the letter is assumed for the sake of convenience, when neither the writer nor the hearer is at all deluded in the belief that the production is what is usually understood by the term “a letter,” or epistle. Essays, disquisitions, satires, wear the epistolary name and garb, fulfilling a not unreasonable fancy of the writer that such a medium interposes less of formality between him and his readers, and, indeed, brings them into closer and more life-like relations—the letter being somehow more of a reality between the writer and the recipient, than a book is between the author and the reader. The “Drapier's Letters” of Swift, Bolingbroke's Letter to Wyndham, the “Letters of Junius,” Burke’s “Reflections on the French Revolution,” and other similar productions, of which there are many with an epistolary designation, do not belong to the proper class of “Letters;” to which class I propose to confine my attention—at the outset simply suggesting to your minds that it is a subject which does not admit of convenient illustration in a Lecture. I have arranged this subject under the two general divisions “historical letters” and “familiar letters”—an arrangement which may be found convenient in the general consideration of it, but which makes no pretension to any thing of logical precision. Under the first head, I do not propose to limit the class to public or official correspondence, but rather to comprehend such letters, whether public or private, which subserve a knowledge of history, and are thus valuable in the study of it: while the second class, being under a more exact principle of classification, is intended to include those private letters, the nature of which is readily understood by the title “Familiar Letters;” and the true aim and character of which I will endeavour to explain, when I come to that division of my subject. Lord Bacon, in his treatise on the Advancement of Learning—that great legacy, so rich in counsel for the guidance of inquiry in various departments of human knowledge, that treasury of sagacious sentences of advice—has specially referred to letters among what he calls the “appendices” to history. “Letters,” he says, “are according to all the variety of occasions, advertisements, advices, directions, propositions, petitions, commendatory, expostulatory, satisfactory; of compliment, of pleasure, of discourse, and all other passages of action. And such as are written from wise men are, of all the words of man, in my judgment, the best; for they are more natural than orations and public speeches, and more advised than conferences or private ones. So, again, letters of affairs from such as manage them, or are privy to them, are, of all others, the best instructions for history, and, to a diligent reader, the best histories in themselves.”