The Anonymous Letter
( Originally Published 1916 )
LIFT up your hand right now and swear that never, so long as you live, and so help you God, will you write an anonymous letter, except it be a kind one. After which please kiss the Bible.
If you hate anybody, either go and whip him, or else go away and let him alone.
Don't stab him in the back, don't put poison in his tea, don't shoot him from behind a fence corner, and, what is worse, because still more cowardly, don't write him an anonymous letter.
The anonymous letter is the triumph of the petty. It is the victory of the impotent. It is the pride of the cowardly.
The writer of such a letter is a copperhead snake, which differs from the gentlemanly rattlesnake in that it strikes without warning.
An open, out and out enemy who loathes you heartily and says so is a wholesome person. He keeps you humble and makes you careful. But the man that smiles on you and goes home and writes you an anonymous letter is too low to be described here, on account of the postal laws.
Of course you do not use profane language, which is naughty. But recall all the bad words you ever heard, the unrepeatable vile epithets of all the languages you know, focus them upon one point that is the anonymous letter writer.
Don't hint. Don't insinuate. Insult if you must, but do it in plain English. And sign your name.
Imitate the clerk, who was called to the boss's office. The boss said:
"Mr. Brown, I understand you have been making insinuations about me."
"Oh, no. That must be a mistake."
"It is no mistake, Mr. Brown. I have it upon the best authority. Don't try to wriggle out of it."
"But it must be a mistake. I never insinuate. To be sure, I said you were an old muttonhead and a rascal, but I never insinuated anything."
By common consent, since the world was built, and men began the great game of fighting each other for gold, for woman, and for nothing at all, the sneak, the spy, and the traitor have been blackballed from the society of brave men. Away down below sneak, spy, and traitor in the list of human detestables may be found the man or woman who enjoys sending an anonymous letter.
If you are full of venom and must get it out of your system writeŚwrite fully and foully. Then burn your letter. Thus it may relieve your-self and hurt no one.