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7. From a school-boy to his school-fellow, describing
how he passed the holidays. 8. From the head of a mercantile house in London to
his correspondent at Hong-Kong; on business. 9. From a tourist on the Continent to a friend in
London. 10. From a father to his son in Australia. 11. From an English merchant at the Havannah to
his London correspondent; on business. 12. From a guardian to his ward, travelling on the
Continent with a tutor. 13. From a friend in the country to one in London ;
an invitation. 14. From a daughter at school to her mother. 15. From a resident in India to a friend in England;
describing his mode of life. 16. From a military officer in India to his family
in England. 17. From a correspondent in Paris to the editor of
a London newspaper (news). 18. From a resident in Paris to his friend in London. 19. From a tourist in N. Wales to his friend. 20. A letter of congratulation to a young friend on his
coming of age.
ON DESPATCHES AND REPORTS.
There are certain forms of writing which, though useful to all, should be the especial study of those who will have to fulfil secretarial duties, or who may be connected in any way with diplomatic affairs; viz, Despatches and Reports. The chief difference between a despatch and a report
is that the former gives an account of actions, or events, of recent occurrence; while the latter simply states the condition of things. A despatch describes the circumstances of a battle, the debates of a conference, the progress of a treaty ; sometimes it gives an account of the particulars of a quarrel or misunderstanding with a foreign court; the result of an interview, the general tenor of a conversation, &c. A report may contain an account of the state of a colony, or of an army as to food, clothes, health, effective force, or numbers, &c.; in fine, a collection of all the statistics applicable in such cases.
It might enter into particulars as to the intellectual or moral advancement of a certain population, the percentage of births and deaths, the prevalent forms of disease, &c.
The general qualities of style required in other cases are applicable to the preparation of a report or a despatch ; though it should be remembered that here all attempts at fine writing are wholly out of place. A plain, unvarnished tale,' a clear and lucid statement, is all that is required, and, indeed, all that can be reasonably expected, when it is remembered that these writings are generally composed rapidly, and on the spur of the moment, when there is no time, even if there were inclination, to be over-fastidious in expression.* Here, if anywhere, the 'pen of a ready writer' is looked for; a power of clear description and methodical arrangement being the main essentials. The
* It is said of Addison, that his fastidiousness in regard to expression would sometimes so embarrass him in the preparation of an urgent despatch, that he was obliged to resign the task to one of the clerks, in order that it might be sent off in time.
language should be correct and perspicuous; unstudied, natural, and flowing, with no unnecessary words, nor a single phrase savouring of affectation.
The despatches of the late Duke of Wellington are celebrated for their brevity and clearness of style, and may be regarded as models of this form of writing. Of these we subjoin the following specimens:
Deleytosa, Aug. 8th, 1809. To Marquis Wellesley.
I am happy to find that the Junta have taken measures to supply the armies. Your Lordship will receive my sentiments upon the permanent arrangements to be adopted for this purpose, by the courier who will deliver this letter. In the mean time, I must inform your Excellency that if the Government have not already made great exertions to supply us, and if we do not experience the immediate effects of these exertions, by receiving a plentiful supply of provisions and forage, we must move away in as many detachments as there are roads from hence to the frontiers of Portugal. I assure your Excellency that, since the 3rd, the army had had no bread till yesterday, when about 4000 lbs. of biscuit were divided among 30,000 mouths.
The army will be useless in Spain, and will be entirely lost, if this treatment is to continue; and I must say, that if any
efficient measures for our relief had been adopted by the Government when they first received the accounts of our distresses from the want of provisions, we ought before now to have received the
benefit of them. There is this day again no bread for the soldiers.
I must at the same time do the late British minister the justice to declare that I do not conceive that this deficiency of supplies for the army is at all to be attributed to any neglect or omission on his part. It is to be attributed to the poverty and exhausted state the country; to the inactivity of the magistrates and people; to their disinclination to take any trouble, except that of packing up their property and running away when they hear of the approach of a French patrol; and to their habits of insubordination and disobedience of, and to the want of power in, the Government and their officers.
Badajoz, Nov. 30th, 1809. To the Earl of Liverpool.
The Spanish army in La Mancha, which I reported to your Lordship in my despatch of the 16th November were on the 10th instant at Los Barrios, not far from Ocaña, moved on that night to attack a French corps which was in Ocaña. It
appears that the Spanish Commander-in-chief was not aware that the French corps in Ocaña consisted of 5000 infantry as well as of 800 cavalry; and he made his first attack with the Spanish cavalry only, supported by the infantry, which were repulsed with some loss of men, and, as I have understood, of two pieces of
The French maintained their position in Ocaña till three in the morning, when they retired one league from the town towards Aranjuez; and at daylight they retired to that town, and the Spanish army took up its quarters again at Los Barrios. They remained there till the 13th, when they moved to their right to Santa Cruz de la Zarza; and on the 18th they returned to Los Barrios, with the intention of attacking a French corps of about 25,000 men, including 5000 cavalry, which was advanced from Aranjuez towards Ocaña.
General Areyzaga found, however, that it was most probable that the enemy would attack him before he should be prepared to make his inovements, and he formed his army in the plain in the rear of Ocaña to receive their attack on the morning of the 19th instant. The enemy
advanced in three columns, with one of which they took possession of Ocaña; and, having overthrown the Spanish cavalry on the right of their position, they broke the Spanish infantry of the right wing, which was thrown into confusion; and the left wing of the army,
which was likewise threatened with an attack by the right column of the enemy, retired without firing a shot. The loss of the Spanish army upon this sion has been considerable.
(3.) The Duke of Marlborough's despatch, announcing the victory of Blenheim :
To Mr. Secretary Harley.
Camp at Hochstet, Aug. 14th, 1704. Sir,
I gave you an account on Sunday afternoon of the situation we were then in, and that we expected to hear the enemy would pass the Danube at Lavingen, in order to attack Prince Eugène. At eleven that