This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
A LETTER of sympathy and condolence, though unpleasant to write, may afford inexpressible comfort to a friend in the hour of affliction. Make your letter as brief, but earnest and sincere, as possible. Do not commit the mistake of insinuating that the misfortune is the fault of your friend. Better leave the letter unwritten. Admit the loss. Do not attempt to make light of it. If you are satisfied that it will eventuate in a blessing, you may gently point the way, but with a full admission of the present deep affliction.
To a Friend, on the Death of a Husband.
Newark, O., Oct. 18,18 - . Dear Friend:
I know that no words can make amends for the great loss you have sustained. I deeply realize, from having passed through a similar bereavement, that expressions of condolence wholly fail to restore the loved and lost one, yet I cannot but hope that the heartfelt sympathy of a sincere friend will not be deemed intrusion on your grief.
It has been well said, that "we weep for the loved and lost because we know that our tears are in vain." I would ease your sorrow, and yet I know not how. We can only acknowledge that the affliction is God's will. Over in the beautiful land to which I trust your life-companion has gone, we may not doubt, he is free from the pains that he so long endured here; and when we gather at the river, is it not a sweet consolation to think that among the loved and lost he may meet you on the other side ?
Commending you to Him who doeth all things well, I remain, in the tenderest friendship,
Your Sincere Friend,
WINFIELD BROWN. To Mrs. Clara Wayland, Columbus, O.
Columbus, O., Oct. 20,18 - . My Dear Friend:
I can scarcely express to you how grateful I am for your sympathizing letter, yet the loss of my husband has so prostrated me that I am hardly able to write this reply.
My friends assure me that time will reconcile me to my great bereavement. Yes, time, and the great consolation that you speak of, which comes from the hope that we will meet our friends in a world where partings are no more, will, I trust, enable me to bear my sorrow. God bless you for your thought of me in the dark hours, and your sweet words of consolation.
Evansville, Tenn., Oct. 16,18 - . Friend Albert:
I have just learned, on my return from a visit in the far West, of the death of your mother. Having suffered the loss of my mother when a child, I know how to sympathize with you in your affliction; though, fortunately for you, your mother lived to guide the footsteps of her boy till manhood's years had crowned his intellect with judgment and fixed moral principles. It can truly be said that, in the training of her family, in the church, in the social circle, she always did her duty nobly, and was an ornament to society. Ripened in years, and fully prepared for another state of existence, she passes on now to enjoy the reward of a life well spent on earth.
Restored to maidenhood prime, we cannot doubt that in the flowery walks of spirit life she is the same good woman that we knew so well here.
To A. H. Stewart, HARTLEY JONES.
Belle Plain, Miss.
Lexington, Mo., Dec. 10,18 - . Dear Henry:
I have learned with profound regret of the death of your brother. I condole with you most sincerely on the sad event, and, if sympathy of friends can be any consolation under the trying circumstances, be assured that all who knew him share in your sorrow for his loss. There is, however, a higher source of consolation than earthly friendship, and, commending you to that, I remain,
SANFORD F. BARTON.
Burlington, Iowa, Nov. 10,18 - . My Dear Delwin:
I know that this letter will find you filled with grief at the loss of your dear wife. You have, indeed, suffered a great affliction. A more faithful partner never lived, and few men, I venture to say, ever enjoyed more domestic tranquility than yourself.
A true wife, and a devoted mother! No higher eulogy can be pronounced upon any woman. How the little motherless children will miss her tender care! How those fragile little girls will miss her sweet presence at the evening hour, when she sat by the bedside and listened to their innocent prayers, soothing their little spirits as they dropped off to sleep 1 Truly the great central sun of your household has gone down, and I most truly, deeply sympathize with you in your affliction.
Let us hope, however, in the language of Scripture, "I go to prepare a place for you," that, in the golden summer of another life, children, mother and father will gather again in a sweet reunion, where partings are unknown.
Though the days are dark now, spring will come once more. Thus, I trust, pleasant days will come again for you and yours.
Send both of the little girls to our home for a month's visit, and come yourself as soon as yon can find time to do so. My previously arranged departure, to-morrow, prevents my visiting you.
S. B. OSGOOD. To D. B. Maxwell,
Auburn, N. Y., July 16,18 - . Dear Friend:
I have learned, with sorrow, of the death of your sister Helen. Though I never knew her personally, I knew her so well through you, that it seems as if I, myself, had lost a very near and intimate friend. I recollect her from that sweet face and gentleness of manner, as I saw her once in your company, that impressed me with the belief that she was one of the angelic ones of earth.
I know how deeply you must have grieved at her death. No one could mourn her loss so truly as yourself. Younger than you, frail and delicate, her guardianship entrusted to yourself, confiding everything to you, it was natural that to a sister's affection should be added, also, almost a mother's love for your gentle sister Helen. She died, too, at a time when life was apparently all blossoming before her. How hard to reconcile ourselves to the loss of dear kindred, when their continued presence is so necessary to our happiness. But may we not hope that the same sweet voice, and gentle, confiding heart, that was so dear to sister and kindred here, is waiting for you in the summer land? "Not dead, but gone before."
The loss of near friends thus calls for our contemplation of another life toward which we are all tending. You and I, dear M., have talked these matters over often. I know you expect to meet her on the other side; so do 1. Believing that your faith in that golden, sunny Future, which you and I have so often considered, will sustain you, I am,
Your Ever Faithful Friend,
JAS. D. HENRY.
Hartford, Conn., Nov. 14,18 - . My Dear Friend:
It is with profound sorrow that I have heard of the death of dear Mary. While you have lost a dutiful and affectionate daughter, I have lost one of the dearest friends on earth. Outside of yourself, I am confident no one could more fully appreciate her loss than myself. We were so much together that I can hardly reconcile myself to the thought that I can no more meet her here. True, her death teaches us that, sooner or later, we must all make the journey across that mystic river. The angels called, and, in the ways of an all-wise Providence, it was best that she should go. We all have the ordeal to pass. Fortunate it would be if all could be as certain of being among the exalted angels as was our darling Mary. I will come and see you soon. A propos, I send you this little poem, "The
Your Friend, MYRA.
THE COVERED BRIDGE
BY DAVID BARKER.
Tell the fainting soul in the weary form,
There 's a world of the purest bliss, That is linked, as the soul and form are linked,
By a Covered Bridge, with this.
Yet to reach that realm on the other shore We must pass through a transient gloom,
And must walk, unseen, unhelped, and alone, Through that Covered Bridge - the tomb.
But we all pass over on equal terms,
For the universal toll Is the outer garb, which the hand of God
Has flung around the soul.
Though the eye is dim, and the bridge is dark,
And the river it spans is wide. Yet Faith points through to a shining mount,
That looms on the other side.
To enable our feet in the next day's march
To climb up that golden ridge, We must all lie down for one night's rest
Inside of the Covered Bridge.
Pemberton, Miss., Nov. 18,18 - . My Dear Friend:
I realize that this letter will find you buried in the deepest sorrow at the loss of your darling little Emma, and that words of mine will be entirely inadequate to assuage your overwhelming grief; yet I feel that I must write a few words to assure you that I am thinking of you and praying for you.
If there can be a compensating thought, it is that your darling returned to the God who gave it, pure and unspotted by the world's temptations.
The white rose and bud, I send, I trust you will permit to rest upon your darling's pillow.
With feelings of the deepest sympathy, I remain, dear friend,
Yours, Very Sincerely,
Hannibal, Mo., Aug. 18, 18 - . Friend Stewart:
I regret to hear of your sudden and unexpected heavy loss, and hasten to offer you, not only my earnest sympathy, but aid in whatever way I can assist you.
I know your energy and hopeful spirit too well to believe that you will allow this to depress or discourage you from further effort. Perhaps there is, somewhere, a blessing in this reverse. I have had my dark days, but I learned to trust the truth of that little stanza of Cowper:
"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning Providence He hides a smiling face."
The child learns to walk after many falls, and many of our richest and most prosperous men have attained their eminence and wealth only by the experience resulting from failure.
I predict that you will build on your ruins a brilliant future. How can I serve you? Let me know; by so doing, I shall understand that you have not ceased to value my friendship.
Sincerely Your Friend,
HERBERT D. WRIGHT. To Rob't H. Stewart,