Seemingly all written exchanges – by email or Twitter or other electronic device – have eradicated the art of Victorian letter writing. To that end, I re-post my attempt with apologies to all Victorian letter writers.
Great Balderdash, Falls-on-Potomac
November 22, 1871
My Dearest Friend:
In re your letter of the twelfth inst, I am shocked to realize that a great misfortune has occurred wherein my last post has somehow conveyed to you unnecessary hardship in its reading, the poorly administered cause of which is entirely my fault. Believe me when I say that such an unfortunate and distressful outcome is the last emotion I wish to express and even now as I write these words causes me great distress to think that there has been a misunderstanding whose result may break that mutual bond so lengthily constructed and for which I have the most sincere and foursquare concern.
No scurrilous knave, unspeakable cur, enterprising rogue or devious scoundrel could have erected such a formidable barrier to our friendship as has occurred by a simple whim, a mere fancy, a jot so insignificant as to be inconveniently overlooked and misplaced within my last missive and by whose existence has the modest incivility of this slight action been overshadowed with the enormous barbarity of my inadvertent words, the resulting outcome of which has placed our relationship in such precarious jeopardy and confers upon it a deed most foul.
I do hope that the undertakers for the incomparable and advantageous design of the speedy and safe conveyance of letters and packets (under a pound weight) to all parts of the cities, high roads, streets and suburbs thereof will have ordered their messengers, who collect such letters at any of the places aforesaid, to promptly discharge their duties and rapidly transport my reply of deepest regret to you. 1
Lest I be remiss, let me redress my words. When I stated that you have the capacity for drawing liquid out with your mouth, I was only admiring your demonstrative skills to pull on something irresistibly, like the pull of the Sun on the planets or the Moon on the tides. When I wrote of you in a way that implied irritation or annoyance, I dare say I only meant to call attention to your unerring ability to discomfort others by your incomparable talent in presenting indisputable and irrefutable facts in excruciating detail. And, of course, my reference to your origins was not to cast aspersions on your genealogy but was by way of comparison a measure of your originality and uniqueness.
If, after all my aforementioned efforts to postulate my remonstrance and articulate my deepest remorse, you remain steadfast in your resentment and cannot be mellowed by the earnestness of my words nor by the long-standing nature of our relationship, I must then, with all due respect, retract my apology and repeat my original contention that you still suck, you insufferable bastard!
These words notwithstanding, I have in this, as always, the honor to be, very respectfully, your most humble and very ob’t. serv’t.,
1 From William Dockwra’s 18th century advertisement in the Mercurius Civicus as presented in JaneAustensWorld.
Bahahaha!!! Beautifully phrased. (Especially the last six words in the second-last paragraph.) 😉
Reminds me of a letter which once circulated among my Naval colleagues who were frustrated by paperwork:
Secretary of War
If I attempt to answer the mass of futile correspondence that surrounds me I should be debarred from all serious business of campaigning.
I must remind your Lordship for the time, that as long as I retain an independent position I shall see that no officer under my command is debarred by attending to the futile driveling of mere quill driving in your Lordship’s office from attending to his first duty – which is, and always has been, so as to train the private men under his command that they may, without question, beat any force opposed to them in the field.
I am, my Lord, your obedient servant.
LOL. Didn’t see that coming.