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.
I have always admired your natural ability; I appreciate you for your industry; I respect you for your filial conduct towards your parents. In fact, I consider you quite a model young man, were it not for one habit, which has always been, heretofore, a very delicate subject for me to speak of, fearing that it might give you offense. But believing it best that I be true to my convictions and state my objections plainly, I thus freely write them.
I have reference to the use of tobacco. Apparently, this is a little thing. I am aware that ladies generally consider it beneath their notice; but so thoroughly convinced am I that it is one of the most destructive habits, sapping the morality and vigor of our young men, that I could never consent to wed a man addicted to its use, my reasons being as follows:
It would impoverish my home. Only ten cents a day expended for a cigar, in a lifetime of forty years, with its accumulations of interest, amounts to over four thousand dollars! The little sum of eleven cents per day, saved from being squandered on tobacco, and properly put at interest, amounts in that time to $5,160! No wonder so many homes, the heads of which use tobacco, are without the comforts of life.
It might wreck my happiness. It is a well-known physological fact that the use of tobacco deadens the sense of taste; that water and all common drinks become insipid and tasteless when tobacco is used, so that the person using the same involuntarily craves strong drink, in order to taste it. Therein lies the foundation of a large share of the drunkenness of the country. Observation proves that, while many men use tobacco that are not drunkards, almost every drunkard is a user of tobacco, having nearly always formed the habit from the use of this narcotic weed.
It would surround me with filth. To say nothing of the great drain on the physical health by the constant expectoration of saliva, thus ruining the health of many robust constitutions, I could not endure the fetid breath of the tobacco-user. I sicken at the sight of the brown saliva exuding from between the lips; physiology proving that, with tobacco-chewers, nearly all the waste fluids from the body pass through the mouth. I am immediately faint at the thought of dragging my skirts through spittle in a railway car, or any place where it is thrown upon the floor; I turn with disgust at the atmosphere - God's pure, fresh air - that is tainted with the stench of tobacco smoke. It would corrupt my husband's morals. All the associations of tobacco are bad. It is true that many good men use tobacco. It is also a truth that nearly every man that is bad is addicted to its use. To smoke in peace, the man must resort to the place where others smoke. In that room are profanity, obscene language and every species of vulgarity. There may be occasionally an exception. The fact is patent, however, that, in the room in which vulgarity and obscenity prevail, there is always tobacco smoke in the air, and the vile spittle on the floor.
You will forgive me for speaking thus plainly. I love you too well to disguise my feelings on the subject. I could not possibly constantly love a tobacco-user, for the reasons that I have given.
While I devotedly love you, I cannot consent that you 6hould bestow your affections upon a person that would instinctively repel you. Believing, therefore, under the circumstances, that our further correspondence should cease, I remain,
Your Friend and Weil-Wisher,
478-----St., Jan. 1, 18 - .
I beg to apologize for addressing you thus, being an entire stranger; but having the misfortune to be unknown to you is my excuse for this strange proceeding, which, I am well aware, is entirely at variance with the rules of etiquette. I have for two sabbaths seen you at church, and I am frank to confess that your appearance has made so deep an impression upon me as to make me extremely desirous of forming your acquaintance. I am, at present, a clerk in the ribbon department at Smith & Brown's store. Will you do me the great favor of allowing this to commence a friendship, which, I trust, will never be regretted by yourself. Please deign to give me at least a single line in reply to this, and oblige,
Your Sincere Admirer,
Dear Sir :
I considerably question whether it is due to propriety to answer your note at all. But as yon might fear that your letter had miscarried, and thus be induced to write again, it is best, probably, for me to make an immediate reply, and thus settle the affair entirely, and relieve you, possibly, of further suspense. It will be impossible for me to recognize you, or to think under any circumstances of permitting an acquaintance to be commenced by such an introduction as you seem to deem sufficient. More especially should I regret allowing a friendship to be formed by recognitions in the hours of divine service in church, while the mind should be employed in religious observances. You will, therefore, please understand that I am not favorable to further recognition, nor to a continuance of correspondence.
355-----St., June 10, 18 - .
Mr. Barnum. Dear Sir:
I am in receipt of your note, and must confess that I am surprised at your request. I am entirely opposed to commencing, on general principles, an acquaintance with such an introduction, and consider it very improper, especially to allow it to originate in church during the hours of divine service. Were it not that I think your meaning kind and your intentions good, I would return your letter unanswered. As it is, I will take your request under consideration, and, if I think best to grant it, you may know of the fact by my recognition at the close of the service in the Sabbath School.