Saturday, June 30, 2007

Old letters

Amongst my husband's papers I came across this letter written more than 200 years ago. I have copied the punctuation and spacing as nearly as I could, and used an 'f' to replace an 's' where double 'ss' occurs, as in the original. What I cannot copy is the perfectly aligned, regular, sloping script with elegant capitals and curlicues.

Leeds 10th June 1799.

Honored Parents,


The advanced period of the present half-year calls me to the Discharge of that Duty which your parental Care lays upon me. I trust I am fully sensible of your affectionate Kindnefs,in giving me so good an Opportunity of Improvement,and of qualifying myself to pafs through the various Duties of Society with Credit and Advantage. How far I have made a proper Use of these Privileges,my own performances and the Account of my Instructor will enable you to determine. I have applied to those branches of Education,which your Care pointed out as necefsary for the Line of Life in which I am likely to be placed: And moral Acquirements and useful Information have been carefully cultivated by Admonition and the perusal of such Books as have been put into my Hands.This specimen will show you what Improvement I have made in Writing;and I flatter myself that upon Examination,you will find me equally improved in every other Part of my Learning.Am desired to present respectful Compliments from Mr & Mrs Kemplay.I beg my Love to my Brother & Sister,and Respects to all where due.

With Gratitude & Duty I subscribe myself,
Honored Parents,
Your very affectionate Son,
John Linley


I can't help wondering if they are the young man's own words, or if perhaps he was taking dictation from his Instructor in Writing!

6 comments:

Lee said...

Wow! A window in time!

Judith said...

Yes indeed. Our information about my husband's forbears does not include any Linleys. The name just appears in 1850 as the middle name of somebody in the direct line. However, if we have a letter it does suggest that Linleys are in the tree somewhere. Too much research to track that one down I think - we're still trying to find out who my husband's paternal grandfather married!

Avus said...

That's the way to do it! Deference and respect for his elders and betters!
Trouble is the pendulum always swings too far the other way (to where we are now)

Marty: said...

Compare that with a modern letter home asking for money!

Lucy said...

Not exactly warm and chatty is it? I hope they were impressed though!
Hope you're feeling better now!

Lillie said...

When one finally gets through all the convolutions, it comes down to this: "Hi mom and dad, here is the twice yearly letter you demand. Thanks for sending me to school. Doing well, as you can see from my report card. Love to bro and sis and respect to anyone else who might deserve it. love, John.
Can't help but wonder why it has survived 200 years?