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A lady, wreathed with laurel in her hair, sits by a brick wall with vines and flowers holding a large sheet of paper in one hand and a pen in the other: she is about to write. She wears a loose dress and a hat; she is barefoot.
1. Love.—There is no greater or more profound reality than love. Why that reality should be obscured by mere sentimentalism, with all its train of absurdities is incomprehensible. There is no nobler possession than the love of another. There is no higher gift from one human being to another than love. The gift and the possession are true sanctifiers of life, and should be worn as precious jewels, without affectation and without bashfulness. For this reason there is nothing to be ashamed of in a love letter, provided it be sincere.
2. Forfeits.—No man need consider that he forfeits dignity if he speaks with his whole heart: no woman need fear she forfeits her womanly attributes if she responds as her heart bids her respond. “Perfect love casteth out fear” is as true now as when the maxim was first given to the world.
3. Telling Their Love.—The generality of the sex is, love to be loved: how are they to know the fact that they are loved unless they are told? To write a sensible love letter requires more talent than to solve, with your pen, a profound problem in philosophy. Lovers must not then expect much from each other’s epistles.
4. Confidential.—Ladies and gentlemen who correspond with each other should never be guilty of exposing any of the contents of any letters written expressing confidence, attachment or love. The man who confides in a lady and honors her with his confidence should be treated with perfect security and respect, and those who delight in showing their confidential letters to others are unworthy, heartless and unsafe companions.
5. Return of Letters.—If letters were written under circumstances which no longer exist and all confidential relations are at an end, then all letters should be promptly returned.
6. How to Begin a Love Letter.—How to begin a love letter has been no doubt the problem of lovers and suitors of all ages and nations. Fancy the youth of Young America with lifted pen, thinking how he shall address his beloved. Much depends upon this letter. What shall he say, and how shall he say it, is the great question. Perseverance, however, will solve the problem and determine results.
7. Forms of Beginning a Love Letter.—Never say, “My Dearest Nellie,” “My Adored Nellie,” or “My Darling Nellie,” until Nellie has first called you ‘My Dear,” or has given you to understand that such familiar terms are permissible. As a rule a gentleman will never err if he says “Dear Miss Nellie,” and if the letters are cordially reciprocated the “Miss” may in time be omitted, or other familiar terms used instead. In addressing a widow “Dear Madam,” or, “My Dear Madam,” will be a proper form until sufficient intimacy will justify the use of other terms.
8. Respect.—A lady must always be treated with respectful delicacy, and a gentleman should never use the term “Dear” or “My Dear” under any circumstances unless he knows it is perfectly acceptable or a long and friendly acquaintance justifies it.
9. How to Finish a Letter.—A letter will be suggested by the remarks on how to begin one. “Yours respectfully,” “Yours truly,” “Yours sincerely,” “Yours affectionately,” “Yours ever affectionately,” “Yours most affectionately,” “Ever yours,” “Ever your own,” or “Yours,” are all appropriate, each depending upon the beginning of the letter. It is difficult to see any phrase which could be added to them which would carry more meaning than they contain. People can sign themselves “adorers” and such like, but they do so at the peril of good taste. It is not good that men or women “worship” each other—if they succeed in preserving reciprocal love and esteem they will have cause for great contentment.
10. Permission.—No young man should ever write to a young lady any letter, formal or informal, unless he has first sought her permission to do so.
11. Special Forms.—We give various forms or models of love letters to be studied, not copied. We have given no replies to the forms given, as every letter written will naturally suggest an answer. A careful study will be a great help to many who have not enjoyed the advantages of a literary education. (p. 37)