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WARNING TO ANONYMOUS LETTER-WRITERS.
BY REV. E. HEINER, D. D.
THERE once lived in the town of K., a well known lady-Miss DITTY, we shall call her,—who was generally suspected of giving very special attention to the preparation of anonymous letters. Whenever persons in the town received letters, or communications of any kind, without a name, Miss Ditty was usually fixed upon as the authoress. Every body seemed to know her, and to have knowledge of the fact, too, that she regarded herself as a very important personage. How could the church and the prayer-meetings prosper without the kind aid and regular attendance of Miss Ditty? She moved in all circles ; attended all the religious gatherings; was head manager at the Dorcas and other humane and benevolent Societies, and passed off among some people as a very good sort of a Christian. In all that she undertook, she worked fast and hard, and seldom failed to accomplish her ends. She was persevering to a proverb, and "left no stone unturned” to gain her object.
Miss Ditty's talents were various. She talked well, and with some effect. Of ministers she was very fond, and often courted their society. True, she was not as popular among them as she might have been ; but then to say a word against Miss Ditty's interference in Church matters, and family troubles, was dangerous in the extreme. The preacher that ventured a step in this direction might expect a fitting chastisement for his imprudence and presumption. All feared the tongue that could inflict so great a punishment, and the hand that could pen in the dark, lines so severe and false. Miss Ditty was the terror of reproving ministers, and of all indeed who ventured to cross the "old maid's” path. Her age was forty, at a guess. When in her teens, she was much admired, and could have married, if she would—so at least the "old folks" said. The young suitor's hand she spurned, much preferring a “life of single blessedness" to family cares and troubles.
There were many things in which the heroine of our story was most expert; in one she excelled. Match-making was her great forte. * In this few could equal her-none surpass her. Most insinuating in her address-with a “tongue as smoo:h as oil," and lips that could drop honey-comb sweetness at their pleasure, she could often so touch the loving sensibilities of marriage candidates, whether old or young, as to make them feel that their happiness for both worlds was certainly bound up with those whom she recommended as suitable companions for them in holy wedlock. Many a match Miss Ditty made.
The means which she employed were sometimes honorable ; sometimes base and wicked. Always in trouble, but never disheartened or discouraged. If she failed in accomplishing her purpose by one means, she would try another. Fully bent on having Mr. B. and Miss C. married, she would not hesitate to use any sort of means to carry her point. Sometimes she would write anonymous letters to the parties she wished to bring together, and so construct them as to give them a still higher opinion of each other, and a much lower opinion of any real or supposed rivals in the case. She could write down with a vengeance any one who might chance to stand in her way of match-making; and the letters, purporting to come from a friend, would be received through the post office. If she happened to fail in the accomplishment of her end, the objects of her special attention might expect such a chastisement as their waywardness and incorrigibleness deserved. She would employ misrepresentations, slander, falsehood, anything she could devise, to injure the feelings and tarnish the reputation of those who had disappointed her.
Some years ago Miss Ditty made up her mind that Mr. A. and Miss B. must become one. She was deeply interested in them both, of course, and her heart was fully bent on their union. After the first acquaintance of the parties, she went to work in good earnest to accomplish her object; and it is said, that but for her imprudent eagerness and silly behaviour, the match, perhaps, would have been formed, and the nuptial rites duly solemnized. As soon as it became clear to her mind that she would not succeed in bringing the parties together, she breathed out vengeance against Mr. A., and in her heart vowed to be his enemy, as the sequel proved. She determined to injure his reputation, and to rob him of his good name, if possible. As she was wont to do in such cases, she resorted to anonymous letter-writing. First she wrote long letters to the young man, Mr. A., which were filled with base insinuations and slanderous charges against himself. The young lady she represented as one of the loveliest of women, and a thousand times too good for him who had paid her some attention. Next she wrote to a highly respectable and influential divine in the place. Her letter to him was full of praise for the young lady, but for the young man it was replete with misrepresentation and falsehood. When the anonymous letter was handed to Mr. A., and read, he at once suspected that Miss Ditty was the authoress; and after a slight comparison of the two letters, he was fully confirmed in his suspicions. He at once called on the lady, and charged her with writing the letters. She denied that she was the authoress in the most earnest and decided terms. The charge was repeated, and she then called upon God and angels, heaven and earth, to witness that she was innocent. She wondered again and again how any one could charge her with writing anonymous letters. Who could think her base enough to write such letters, and especially such letters as Mr. A. held in his hand. It was a matter to her of infinite surprise that any
one who knew her as well as Mr. A. did, could even suspect, much less charge her, with conduct so dishonorable and wicked. But her long and oft-repeated protestations of innocency, did not satisfy the young man that she was not really guilty.
Time rolled on, and brought the truth to light. Not long ago a friend wrote to a friend in substance as follows: Many years since, about the time Mr. A. was leaving K., there was an anonymous letter written to him, and another to the Rev. Mr. S. A few weeks after the letters had been written, Miss Ditty proposed to me one evening to take a walk with her. During the walk she said that Mr. A. suspected her of being the authoress of those anonymous letters that he had received, and had actually charged her with the authorship. She then said that she was accused wrongfully, and began to appeal to the Trinity in unity, the Bible, the church, and all that was sacred and holy and good to ratify her innocency. I told her all this was superfluous—that her word to me was sufficient. She then repeated her oaths over and over, I may with truth say twenty times. After we returned home, she proposed to me private prayer. I 'read the 14th chapter of John. In the midst of the prayer she threw herself back and made the most earnest appeal to God to confirm her innocency. Her conduct confused me very much. At length we rose up from our knees and parted. All this time I believed her perfectly innocent; as much so, as I felt myself to be. A few weeks after this interview, she called me into her présence one evening, and prostrating herself before me on the floor she exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. — I have perjured myself! I have perjured myself! I wrote those letters, yes I am the very person that wrote them. Oh, I have perjured myself, what shall I do? There is no hope for me-good God what shall I do? I have no peace, no rest day nor night. I will go at once and see Mr. A., and falling down before him, confess all.” I tried to comfort her. I proposed that I would go with her to see the Rev. Mr. S., which we did that night, dark and rainy as it was. With that divine she had a long interview. What transpired I do not know, except that it was agreed upon she should not communicate with Mr. A. for the present, but that she should commit the whole matter to God, and earnestly seek his pardon. To Mr. A. I believe she never did communicate anything on the subject. She is now dead, and I hope died a true penitent.
What a sad picture is here presented to our view! Some most useful lessons may be gathered from this little sketch of one who erred greatly in the direction here indicated, but who, it is to be hoped, obtained forgiveness of God, and is now saved from all temptation and sin. Let her reprehensible conduct of anonymous letter-writing be a warning to all who are in the habit of indulging in the same practice; and above all, may her confessions of perjury serve as a beacon light to those who are in danger of falling and sinning in the same way!
OR A FACT WITH A MORAL.
BY REV. S. H. REID.
Nor many days ago, while the wild wind was whistling around my ears, and the ice was freezing beneath my feet, I strolled down to the wharf to buy some wood. As is usual in that quarter of the town, the appearance of a stranger standing on a corner or near a wood office, soon attracted special atten.' tion upon the part of a certain class of gentry in these regions. I did not remain long until I was surrounded by some half-dozen of the hale but hungry-looking fellows, slapping their hands around their bodies, and holding their whips under their arms, enquiring most anxiously whether I wanted some wood.
In a very few minutes another leading class of wood and wharf gentlemen made their appearance, with the 'buck' on one arm, and the 'saw' well filed and ready for 'forty cents,' on the other, putting in their proposals for the completion of the job. I soon found that there was not the least difficulty in securing the object of my visit, and accordingly having made my purchase and selected my man, I soon had my wood on its way home.
Just as I was turning away from this scene, an object in the shape of a man made his appearance among the group, who, for singularity of shape and address, I believe I never saw equalled
among all, (and there are many) of the singular beings claiming humanity, in this wide metropolis. His name is John. He is a German by birth, and is a foreigner. The man looked as if he had seen better days, but these days have evidently passed away
. I should judge that he is some few inches over five feet high, though from the odd shape of his person, and the sunken position of his head between his shoulders, he is not really so tall. I should judge also that he is not older than perhaps thirty-five years, but the traces of vice and sin make him appear to be nearer fifty.
An Irish carter standing near, addressed him thus.“Well, John, how do you do this morning? Have you had anything to do to-day yet ?" John, with his hands sunk far down in his pockets, and his toes, red with frost, pushing themselves out of his torn shoes, exclaimed most piteously, “No, I hash not!”
After interchanging some few words more, John, fixing bis ege upon a Beer-shop across the way, soon disappeared, leaving my informant and myself further to consider his history.
"It is a great pity for that man,” immediately commenced the Irishman referred to." “At one time he was very wealthy in Germany. So much so that he was enabled to ride in his carriage and live at ease and in splendor; and now he is not worth a farthing, and can scarcely find enough to eat.”
"And how does it come,” enquired I, “that he is so reduced in his circumstances ?"
“Ah! like many more men in the world, he thought he was rich, and that there was no end to his wealth. And he went into bad company, and throwed himself into bad hands, and they soon helped him out of his money, and brought him to want.'
"And what does he do now for a living," was my next inquiry.
“Oh, we carters take pity on him, and keep him among us; when we haul boards from the lumber-yards, we give him a fip a load for pushing the boards off the pile on to our carts, and in that way he makes out to live."
“Has he a family ?” I inquired.
“Yes, he has a wife and two or three children ; but how they live I don't know.",
And here our conversation ended, and I turned my steps towards my home and my comfortable room. I felt glad that I had a warm home to which to resort, but at the same time I felt sad to think, how many poor human beings were around me, destitute of these common comforts of life, without a whole shoe