I thought it would be appropriate if for my first blog post I introduced you to some words of wisdom from Lewis Carroll, of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland fame. When I was searching for inspiration for a name for my blog I ran across a booklet written by Carroll in 1890, that accompanied his “Wonderland Postage Stamp Case”, supposedly invented by him when he couldn’t find his stamps. Even though Carroll’s “Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter Writing” was written in 1890, it still provides common sense advice, with a nod toward the humorous side of Carroll.
Under “How to Begin a Letter”, he begins, quite simply:
“If the Letter is to be in answer to another, begin by getting out that other letter and reading it through, in order to refresh your memory, as to what it is you have to answer, and as to your correspondent’s present address (otherwise you will be sending your letter to is regular address in London, though he has been careful in writing to give you his Torquay address in full).”
I want to say “duh”, but how many of us skip this step? Or, send a letter or card to an old address?
One of my favorite parts of the essay is:
“Next, Address and Stamp the Envelope. What! Before writing the Letter? Most certainly.” And, continuing; “Next, put your own address, in full, at the top of the note-sheet. It is an aggravating thing – I speak from bitter experience – when a friend, staying at some new address, heads his letter “Dover”.” And; “Next, put the date in full. It is another aggravating thing, when you wish, years afterwards, to arrange a series of letters, to find them dated “Feb. 17″, Aug. 2”, without any year to guide you as to which comes first. And, never, never. . .put “Wednesday”, simply, as the date! That way to madness lies.”
Under “How to Go On With a Letter”; “Here is a golden Rule to begin with. Write legibly.”
Finally, in “How to End a Letter”; “When you take your letters to the Post, carry them in your hand. If you put them in your pocket you will take a long country-walk (I speak from experience), passing the Post-Office twice, going and returning, and, when you get home, will find them still in your pocket.” Although we typically don’t walk to the Post Office these days, I think we get the point.
Although written more than 125 years ago, it is still a good read today. Carroll’s essay is chock-full of witty advice. If you would like to read the entire essay, a Google search should help you find it. I found it here, if you would like to skip the search: