I’m reading Pride and Prejudice right now and I am always struck at how important letters were. A different time when this was the best form of communicating when apart. No phones, no email, no instant messaging. Wouldn’t it be fun to receive a good old fashioned letter in the mail. Signed, sealed, and delivered! Here’s some interesting tips from Emily Post.
Emily Post (1873–1960). Etiquette. 1922.
THE ART of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a post-card. Since the events of the day are transmitted in newspapers with far greater accuracy, detail, and dispatch than they could be by the single effort of even Voltaire himself, the circulation of general news, which formed the chief reason for letters of the stage-coach and sailing-vessel days, has no part in the correspondence of to-day.
THE LETTER EVERYONE LOVES TO RECEIVE
The letter we all love to receive is one that carries so much of the writer’s personality that she seems to be sitting beside us, looking at us directly and talking just as she really would, could she have come on a magic carpet, instead of sending her proxy in ink-made characters on mere paper.
Let us suppose we have received one of those perfect letters from Mary, one of those letters that seem almost to have written themselves, so easily do the words flow, so bubbling and effortless is their spontaneity. There is a great deal in the letter about Mary, not only about what she has been doing, but what she has been thinking, or perhaps, feeling. And there is a lot about us in the letter—nice things, that make us feel rather pleased about something that we have done, or are likely to do, or that some one has said about us. We know that all things of concern to us are of equal concern to Mary, and though there will be nothing of it in actual words, we are made to feel that we are just as secure in our corner of Mary’s heart as ever we were. And we finish the letter with a very vivid remembrance of Mary’s sympathy, and a sense of loss in her absence, and a longing for the time when Mary herself may again be sitting on the sofa beside us and telling us all the details her letter can not but leave out.”