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قراءة كتاب The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 353, October 2, 1886.

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‏اللغة: English
The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 353, October 2, 1886.

The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 353, October 2, 1886.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

required in business letters, but to the subject of style a few lines more may be devoted. Business letters are of necessity dry and matter-of-fact, and in writing them no time should be lost in hunting for fine expressions. They should contain politeness, but light and airy sentences are worse than thrown away.

"Accuracy of expression," says Mr. George Seton, in his pleasant "Gossip about Letters and Letter-writers," "as distinguished from looseness and slovenliness of statement, is of the utmost consequence—not only with the view of saving the time of one's correspondent, but also to prevent what may prove a very serious misunderstanding. I have known many cases of prolonged litigation which were chiefly owing to some doubtful or equivocal expressions in the course of a business correspondence."

There are many phrases peculiar to business letters—formal beginnings, for example, such as—

"I am favoured with yours of 14th curt."

"I duly received your favour of 19th inst."

"I am in receipt of your lines of y'day, and note that, &c."

"I beg to confirm my last respects of 25th ult."

"I beg to confirm my letter of yesterday."

These phrases and many others which will appear in the course of these articles may seem formal enough, but we must not expect in business to meet with the language of story-books.

A common business term is "advice," used to mean information sent by letter. For example: "I wait your advice as to the despatch of the parcel." A funny misunderstanding of the word occurred recently, when a provincial postmaster, new to his duties, in the United States, sent the following communication to the Postmaster-General:—

"Seeing by the regulations that I am required to send you a letter of advice, I must plead in excuse that I have been postmaster but a short time; but I will say, if your office pays no better than mine, I advise you to give it up."

Every subject mentioned in a letter should have a separate paragraph. Very formal, you may say. Perhaps; but it is also very clear.

Always acknowledge receipt of business letters at the earliest possible opportunity. If they come with money, an acknowledgment ought to be sent by return of post, that is to say, by the first post after they arrive. The same rule may safely be applied to letters coming with any enclosure whatever. Sometimes delay may be of no consequence, but to answer at once will at any rate get you the credit of courtesy.

Of all business letters a copy should be kept. If you write few they may be copied by hand into a book kept for the purpose, but if many the use of a copying-press saves a great deal of monotonous labour, and secures absolute accuracy besides.

The way to use a copying-press is this. Write the letter with copying-ink. Then put a sheet of oiled paper under the leaf of the letter-book on which you wish to take the copy. Letter-books of thin paper are sold for the purpose. Wet the leaf with a brush or soft sponge. On the top of the wet leaf put a sheet of blotting paper, and on the top of that another sheet of oiled paper. Then shut the book, put it in the press, and give it a squeeze for a second to take off the superfluous moisture. Take out the book, remove the blotting-paper and the top sheet of oiled paper, and in their place put your letter face downwards on the damp page. Shut the book, put it back into the copying-press, give it a hard squeeze by means of the lever or screw, leave it in from half a minute to a minute, and the whole thing is done; an exact copy of the letter will be left in your letter-book.

A letter being written and copied, has to be posted; but before being posted it must be addressed. The address should be written neatly and plainly, neither too high up nor too low down.

To say, Be sure to put the direction on your letters is not unnecessary advice. Thousands of letters are posted every year without any address whatever. In the year ending 31st March, 1886, there were no fewer than 26,228 of them, and of this large number 1,620 contained cash and cheques to the amount, in all, of £3,733 17s. 5d.

Be sure, too, that your letters are properly fastened. On this subject, hear Mr. George Seton. "There is," he says, "no real security in wafers, and probably still less in adhesive envelopes, which are now in almost universal use. Both may easily be loosened by the application of either water or steam. The best mode of securing a letter is first to wafer it and then seal it with wax. When, however, an adhesive envelope is used, the proper course is to damp, rather than wet, both sides of the flap before pressing it down; and if the paper is very thick, the upper side should be again damped after being pressed down."

Insufficient and wrong addresses occasion a great deal of trouble to the Post Office officials, and this trouble one of the present Postmaster-General's predecessors remarks, with some pathos, "ought scarcely to be given to make up for what generally arises from the carelessness of the writers, without an additional charge." Last year, through some fault in the addresses, no fewer than 12,822,067 letters, postcards, newspapers, and parcels were received in the returned letter offices.

As an example of an insufficiently-addressed letter, we may mention one the subject of a complaint made by a Mrs. Jones of Newmarket. She stated that a letter had been posted to her, but had not reached her. It appeared, however, on inquiry, that there were twenty-nine Mrs. Joneses at the place, and that there was nothing in the address to help the postman to decide between their several claims.

When money or anything of value is sent through the post, the letter in which it goes should be registered. By this means we can be almost absolutely sure of its travelling safely. The fee for a registered letter was at one time half-a-crown, and not so long ago was a shilling. In 1878 it was reduced from 4d. to 2d. Not only has the fee been reduced to what may be thought the lowest possible point, but registered letter envelopes are now sold in different and convenient sizes. The Post Office also undertakes to make good, under certain reasonable conditions, up to £2 the value of any registered letter which it loses.

If people who have these facilities for sending letters securely provided for them choose to run the risk of loss, they deserve very little sympathy if the chance goes against them. Last year an unregistered letter containing a cheque was alleged to have been stolen in the post. It was found, however, to have been duly delivered by being pushed under the front door, and afterwards to have been torn in pieces by some puppies inside the house. The fragments were in the end discovered in the straw of the dog-kennel. Now, had the sender only spent 2d. in registering this letter, a receipt would have been taken on its delivery, and all chance of its falling into the paws of the puppies would have been prevented.

But it is wonderful what people, penny-wise and pound foolish, will sometimes do to save 2d. A few years back the sealing-wax on a letter was found to contain £1 10s. in gold coins. There could hardly be a more stupid way of sending money.

If coin, or watches, or jewellery are posted in letters or packets without registration, and the fact is discovered, the Post Office people bring into force a system of registration by compulsion, and on delivery charge a fee of 8d. in addition to the ordinary postage.

When coins are sent in a letter they should on no account be put in loose, but should be packed so as to move about as little as possible. The best way is to take a card, and, cutting quite through to the other side, make a cross on it for each coin; then slip the coin into the cross, so that it is held in its place by the tongues of cardboard, two on each side.

Who owns letters whilst they are in the post? In Great Britain the ownership of a letter whilst it is in the post lies