“Would you desire,” says De Quincey
in his “Essay on style,” “at this day to read our noble language in its native beauty, picturesque from idiomatic propriety, racy in its phraseology, delicate yet sinewy in its composition, steal the mail-bags and break open all the letters in female handwriting.”
This he goes on to demonstrate, he himself writing in that involved and elaborate style of which he was so fond — a sort of Coleridge-and-water, or perhaps one light say, Coleridge-and-air-full of cloudy glimpses and rich treasures half displayed.
Had De Quincey
imitated the women's letters he described, his writings would have a longer lease of life.
And in the same spirit with him, but in a better style, speaks one of the most cultivated of American scholars, himself a delightful letter-writer, Joseph G. Cogswell
, first librarian and organizer of the Astor Library
This is his statement of the matter:
To preserve the true spirit of friendly correspondence, I conceive, requires more exercise of the