The gulf is bridged over as often as we converse with them at a distance by means of the post. Just as a photograph tells us how much the lapse of years has altered their familiar features and enables us to think of them as they really are, so their letters inform us of what they are doing and thinking, and of everything in the distant lands in which they live, that interests them and is likely to interest us.
How much more painful would the separation be between parents and their sons, who go to seek their fortune far from home, if the pain were not alleviated by mutual promises of a regular correspondence! The emigrant sends home frequent accounts of the new conditions of life in which he lives.
His letters are eagerly read by the parents, relations and friends he has left in his native place, and in return he has received news of deaths and marriages and other interesting events that take place in his family and among his friends after his departure.
In this way the old bond of friendship and kindred is kept up in spite of distance, and when, after many years, the wanderer returns, he is not regarded as a stranger, but easily resumes his place in his old family circle, his connection with which has been maintained during the interval of absence by regular correspondence.
On this account absent relations should be careful to observe the duty of corresponding with one another. This duty is particularly incumbent on young men who have left home to make their own way in the world. They themselves perhaps, in the novelty of their new experience, and in the active struggle of life, feel less keenly the need of communication with their relatives.
But they should never forget the old folks at home, who in the quiet seclusion of their declining years have few interests except the fortunes of their children, and derive more pleasure from the letters of the absent ones, than from any other source.
When so much happiness can be so easily conferred on those we love, we should allow neither business nor pleasure to divert us from the fulfillment of our duty in this respect. No one is so busy as not to have time for correspondence with his relations and friends.
Indeed the writing of such letters is one of the best relaxations for the overworked man. The memory of the peaceful quiet of his home, that comes back to him as he writes, will be a spell to soothe the excitement of his wearied brain.
This will be especially the case if his letters are written, as letters ought to be written, not in a hurry, but with the careful attention that ought to be devoted to all acts of kindness.
The great object of a friendly letter is to give pleasure to our correspondent, and, to secure this, we should write legibly on good paper, and take the trouble to remember all that is likely to be interesting. A letter to a friend or relation should not be hastily scribbled off, as if it were a distasteful task to be got through as quickly as possible.