Feb 3, 2016
The electronic age may have displaced cursive writing, but love letters, thank-you notes, and letters to Santa, for example, are typically handwritten. It's the personal touch that counts. Certain letters have become fixed and valued historical documents. In fact, St. Paul's letters were the first New Testament writings to be recorded, even before the gospel writers. As such, they belong to the canonical texts.
Letter Writing among the Ancients
Letter writing dates from about 3300 BCE. People wrote letters because they had an idea they wished to communicate to a wider audience, except for love letters which were meant for only one-the beloved. Most letters were powerful forms of expression because of their compact organization, except for love letters which were scattered and loosely-structured. As one example of the latter, while still married to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII wrote seventeen love letters to his mistress, Anne Boleyn. While plotting his request for an annulment from Clement VII, the King supersaturated his letters with effusive nosegays; they read like gushing sentiments of a smitten, love-sick adolescent.
Emperors had a trusted courier, a slave, or secretary who notated their words and delivered their letters. A poor man took his letter to a favorite tavern; a relative or trusted friend collected and delivered it as a circular letter to a group. A love letter, especially if it involved an illicit liaison, had to be sent through a discreet and trusted carrier.