I hold these truths to be self-evident, that not all words are created equal, that those that use them must bear certain unalienable responsibilities, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It is the Right of the People to read and write such words as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms of language to which they are accustomed. But when exposed to a long train of abuses and usurpations, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such language, and to provide new words for their future security and happiness.
The following eight principles are drawn from the writings of Austen in order to make modern intercourse more elegant, moderate and restrained, a change that will have inestimable benefits for society at large.
1. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that’ anything worth saying is worth saying well.
2. ‘How much more might have been said but for the restraints of propriety’ and everything that falls outside the restraints of propriety should be left unsaid.
3. If you wish to write, first read – ‘The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid’.
4. Aim for elegance in all that you write, so that others may say of your words ‘that sentence is very prettily turned’.
5. Write well, and you shall be rewarded - ‘Consideration and esteem as surely follow command of language as admiration waits on beauty’.
6. Let every word, enhance rather diminish the happiness of others – ‘She said little, but every sentence aimed at cheerfulness’.
7. Do not write or say anything you are likely to regret. Avoid the sin of writing ‘sentences as I was ashamed to put my name to’. Or even worse – write a shameful sentence and hide behind anonymity.
8. Never write in anger - ‘angry people are not always wise’. Take heed and, while you might on occasion speak in anger, reflect before committing words to the page. The written word lasts longer, often in perpetuity, and cuts deeper.