Epistles of this kind need to be very carefully written. "Unless there is some actual sympathy in the mind of the writer, they had better, in many cases, be left unwritten, since they may serve the opposite purpose to that designed. A verbal expression of feeling, where there is no feeling, is apt to fail of its intention. If such a letter prove difficult to compose, it is likely to seem studied, cold, and formal. Simplicity and ease of expression are necessary elements in a note of condolence or compliment.

A letter of congratulation should avoid any indication of other than unselfish good feeling in the writer. The slightest show of envy or jealousy at the good fortune of those whom we felicitate is unpardonable. It I should on no account contain a hint of any hope that the advancement, or change of situation, upon which the compliment is made, may afford the person addressed the means of conferring a benefit on the party writing.

Such a letter should, in fact, be an unmixed expression of pleasure and congratulation on the event that calls for its production. But care must be taken to keep within due bounds; to exaggerate in our congratulations may be to seem satirical.

In a letter of congratulation we should be cheerful; from an epistle of condolence all pleasantry should be banished. When addressing a person who is laboring under any grievous calamity, it is bad taste to make light of it; to treat that loss as a mutter which might be endured calmly, by a little firmness on the part of the party who has suffered it, has the effect to irritate rather than soothe. One should seek to enter into the feelings of the mourner, to eulogize the departed relation, to rebuke the ingratitude of the false friend, to confess, the inconstancy of fortune, or otherwise, according to the circumstances; and, without magnifying, to lament the affliction.

Language like this is balm to the wounded mind, which rejects consolation from those who do not seem sensible of the extent of the sorrow under which it labors. But such a subject must be treated with a delicate hand, for an exaggerated expression of sympathy may give the appearance of insincerity, and of a strained endeavor to condole. In such a case it may aggravate the depression which it seeks to remove.