A Way to Answer Illegible Letters

When poet Thomas Bailey Aldritch received a letter from his friend Prof. E. S. Morse which was practically unreadable, he sent the following amusing reply dated December 20, 1889:

My dear Morse:

It was very pleasant to receive a letter from you the other day. Perhaps I should have found it pleasanter if I had been able to decipher it. I don’t think I mastered anything beyond the date, which I knew, and the signature, at which I guessed. There is a singular and perpetual charm in a letter of yours — it never grows old, and it never loses its novelty. One can say every morning, as one looks at it, ‘Here’s a letter of Morse’s I haven’t read yet. I think I shall take another shy at it to-day, and maybe I shall be able in the course of a few years to make out what he means by those t’s that look like w’s and those i’s that haven’t any eyebrows.’

Other letters are read and thrown away and forgotten, but yours are kept forever–unread. One of them will last a reasonable man a lifetime.

Admiringly yours,

T.B. Aldrich

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