Advice on manners and morals.
Feb. 14 1998 3:30 AM

Dear Readers,

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Prudence is greatly pleased at the confidence so many of you have shown in her by asking her advice. Sadly she must, however, return to her needlework now. Some answers to questions previously posed to her will be posted here in the next few weeks, but she will be unable to answer any questions received after this date.

In leaving, Prudence would like to offer this last piece of advice:

Except in a very few instances, Prudence is neither better informed nor wiser than the persons who write to her. She is able to offer helpful advice only because the problems described are not hers; she is not emotionally involved in them and can consider them objectively. So her advice has two parts: First, when you are greatly troubled with a problem you should write it down in the form of a letter--which you may, if you wish, address to Prudence. The act of translating the problem into written words, rather than brooding over it endlessly and incoherently, will itself be helpful. It will enable you to see the problem in its true dimensions. Second, you should not mail the letter but should read it over to yourself and imagine what Prudence would say. You will find--not always, but often--that you know the answer. As Prudence read the letters she received, she often felt that the writer knew the answer but only wanted some confirmation. Try it seriously for yourself.

--Prudence, fondly bidding you farewell

Dear Prudence,

Aren't baby boomers suffering from a surfeit of Beatles nostalgia? Wouldn't Dear Jerry or Dear Altamont have been a nom de plume more worthy of Slate's cutting-edge tone? I mean, even my dad is sick of hearing references to the Beatles.

--Nathan

Dear Nathan,

Prudence was prudent long before the Beatles were beat. She has no intention of being evicted from her proper name by those upstarts.

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