I am heartbroken. I can’t possibly compose an introduction to this blog as well as Arthur Martine, the author of Martine’s Sensible Letter-writer: Being a Comprehensive and Complete Guide and Assistant for Those who Desire to Carry on an Epistolary Correspondence, might have done. He would write something rapturous such as, it is my ardent hope that these delightful letters and Victorian Valentine cards proofs, which I located in the New York Public Library Digital Collection, leave an indelible impression upon your gentle mind. Please let me impress upon you that if you find these images to your kind heart’s satisfaction, you may find great joy in downloading high-resolution TIF versions of these images and many, many more, which you may use to express your fervent admiration for another.
To Mrs. Clara Henderson,
West Twenty-third St., New York, Sept. 22d, 18—. My Dear Madam,—I am sure you are too clear sighted not to have observed the profound impression which your amiable qualities, intelligence and personal attractions have made upon my heart, and as you have not repelled my attentions nor manifested displeasure when I ventured to hint at the deep interest I felt in your welfare and happiness, I cannot help hoping that you will receive an explicit expression of my attachments, kindly and favorably. I wish it were in my power to clothe the feelings I entertain for you in such words as should make my pleadings irresistible; but after all what could I say, more than that you are very dear to me, and that the most earnest desire of my soul is to have the privilege of calling you my wife? Do you can you love me? You will not, I am certain, keep me in suspense, for you are too good and kind to trifle for a moment with sincerity like mine. Awaiting your answer, I remain, with respectful affection, Ever yours,
To Francis Templeton, ESQ.,
West Forty-second St., New York, Sept. 24th, 18—. My Dear Mr. Templeton,—I despise false delicacy, and therefore shall not pretend that I have been blind to the state of your feelings. Nay, more, I will say that if your attentions had been altogether unwelcome I should have treated them with a degree of coldness which you say I have not shown. Widows, you know, are supposed to have more experience and tact in these matters than single ladies, and depend upon it if I had disliked you I should have known how to make you aware of the fact. Under all the circumstances I think you may hope. I shall be pleased to see you whenever you feel inclined to call, and meanwhile, I remain, Yours very truly,
To Miss Maud Carter,
Pearl St., New York, March llth, 18—. My Dearest Maud,—I am off, to-morrow, and yet not altogether, for I leave my heart behind in your gentle keeping. You need not place a guard over it, however, for it is as impossible that it should stay away, as for a bit of steel to rush from a magnet. The simile is eminently correct, for you, my dear girl, are a magnet, and my heart is as true to you as steel. I shall make my absence as brief as possible. Not a day, not an hour, not a minute, shall I waste either in going or returning. Oh! this business! But I won’t complain, for we must have something for our hive besides honey—something that rhymes with it—and that we may have it, I must bestir myself. You will find me a faithful correspondent. Like the spider, I shall drop a line by (almost) every post; and mind, you must give me letter for letter I can’t give you credit. Your returns must be prompt and punctual.
To Herbert Holton, ESQ.,
Fifth Avenue, March 11th, 18—. Dear Herbert,—What a rattlebrain you are! I cried for half an hour over your letter, though not that it was particularly pathetic, but simply because it told me you were going away. Of course I know that your journey is a matter of necessity, but that does not help my loneliness. I have two injunctions to lay upon you, and I charge you by your love, to obey them. They are comprised in six words —write often, and come back soon. I won’t pay myself so poor a compliment as to suppose you will forget me for a moment. Impatiently awaiting your return, believe me, Dear Herbert,
To Miss Belle Carpenter,
Wall St., New York,
Most sincerely yours,
To Albert Seaton, ESQ.
East Thirty-eighth St., New York, Oct. 7th, 18—. Dear Sir,—I have received your letter, and must say that there is an air of straight-forward sincerity about it that I like. Fine phrases have never been much to my taste, for I have found the language of truth simple and direct. Following your own example, and waiving all evasion, I will say at once that I think you worthy of the affection you solicit, and that, with the consent of my parents, I shall not object to receive your addresses. I shall be at home to-morrow evening and shall be glad to see you. Yours sincerely,
To Miss Kate Martin,
Chicago, Iii., Sept. l0th, 18– My Dearest Kate,—This sheet of paper, though I should cover it with loving words, could never tell you truly how I long to see you again. Time does not run on with me now at the same pace as with other people; the hours seem days, the days weeks, while I am absent from you, and I have no faith in the accuracy of clocks and almanacs. Ah! if there was truth in clairvoyance, wouldn’t I be with you at this moment! I wonder if you are as impatient to see me as I am to fly to you? Sometimes it seems as if I must leave
Remember that every word you write will be a comfort to me. Unchangeably yours,
To William Archer, ESQ.,
Bleecker St., New York, Sept. 16th, 18—. Dear William,—Your affectionate letter was most welcome. I won’t tell you where I keep it, but I dare say you will guess that it is not very far from my heart. I need not inform you, for you know it well, that you have my entire and undivided affection, and that I look forward to your return with the most pleasurable emotions. I am in excellent health, but cannot know real happiness until I share it with yon. There, now I think you will not complain that I do not reciprocate your devotion. According to the rules of etiquette I suppose I ought to be more reserved; but truth is truth, and you shall never have aught else
From your attached
To Miss Jane Grover,
Wednesday, Oct. 20th, 18– Dearest Jane,—The delightful hours I have passed in your society have left an impression on my mind that is altogether indelible, and cannot be effaced even by time itself. The frequent opportunities I have possessed, of observing the thousand acts of amiability and kindness which mark the daily tenor of your life, have ripened my feelings of affectionate regard into a passion at once ardent and sincere, until I have at length associated my hopes of future happiness with the idea of you as a life-partner in them. Believe me, dearest Jane, this is no puerile fancy, but the matured result of a long and warmly cherished admiration of your many charms of person and mind. It is love—pure, devoted love: and I feel confident your knowledge of my character will lead you to ascribe my motives to their true source.
May I then implore you to consult your own heart, and, should this avowal of my fervent and honorable passion for you be crowned with your acceptance and approval, to grant me permission to refer the matter to your parents. Anxiously waiting your answer, I am, dearest Jane,
Your sincere and faithful lover,
To Henry Barclay, ESQ.
Dear Henry,—I have just perused your too flattering letter, and, believe me, I feel so excited that I scarcely know how or what to reply. You cannot but have observed that the favorable impressions I received on the night of our first meeting, have gradually deepened as our intimacy matured, and it would be false modesty in me now to disclaim a feeling of the sincerest and most affectionate regard-for you, after such undoubted proofs of your attachment. Dear Henry, my heart is yours. Need I say more than that your proposals to my parents will find a warm and not uninterested advocate, in one to whom the acceptance of them will be happiness—their rejection a misfortune?
Excuse the brevity of this letter, for I cannot trust myself to say more than that I am,
To Miss Alice Martine,
Chestnut St., Philadelphia, May 2d, 18—. My Dear Miss,—I have intended many times when we have been together to put the simple question, which this note is intended to propose; but although it seems the easiest thing in the world to make an offer of marriage, yet when the heart is as deeply interested in the answer as mine is, it is apt to fail one at the critical moment. Can I, dare I hope, that you will permit me to call you mine? Am I mistaken, misled by vanity, in supposing that this proposal, made in the truest spirit of respectful love, will not be displeasing to you? My position and prospects warrant me in saying that I can provide for you a comfortable home, and I may truly add that without you no place can be a home to me. Anxiously awaiting your answer, I remain, Yours affectionately,
To Ernest Irving, ESQ.,
Green St., Philadelphia, May 5th, 18—. Dear Sir,—Your offer of marriage is certainly unexpected, but it is made in a manner so diffident and respectful as to preclude the possibility of its giving offense. I am not offended; but marriage is a serious matter, and although I confess my own inclinations are in your favor, I must advise with those who have a right to be consulted, before I give you a decided answer. I think I may say, however, in the meantime, that you need
To Miss Lizzie Bolton,
Madison Square, New York, Feb. 24th, 18—. Dear Miss,—Although I have been in your society but once, the impression you have made upon me is so deep and powerful, that I cannot forbear writing to you, in defiance of all rules of etiquette. Affection is sometimes of slow growth; but sometimes too it springs up in a moment. In half an hour after I was introduced to you, my heart was no longer my own. I have not the assurance to suppose that I have been fortunate enough to create any interest in yours; but will you allow me to cultivate your acquaintance in the hope of being able to win your regard in the course of time? Petitioning for a few lines in reply, I remain, dear Miss,
To Clarence Boardman, Esq.,
East Thirty-fourth St., New York, Feb. 27th, 18—. Dear Sir,—I ought, I suppose, to call you severely to account for your declaration of love at first sight, but I cannot in conscience do so ; for to tell you the truth, I have thought more about you since our brief interview than I should be willing to admit, if you had not come to confession first. And now a word or two in seriousness: We know but little as yet of each other, and hearts should not be exchanged in the dark. I shall be happy to receive you here as a friend, and as to our future relations to each other, we shall be better able to judge what they ought to be, when we know each other more intimately. I am, dear sir, Yours truly,
To Mr. Henry Hilton,
Walnut St., Philadelphia, Dec. 2d, 18—. Sir,—I have heard of your flirtations since you have been
To Miss Augusta Wells,
My Dear Gussie,—You have been imposed upon ; by whom I know not, but unquestionably by some one who has a grudge against me. I have never since our engagement paid more attention to any lady than ordinary politeness required. My heart has never wandered from you for a moment. Dismiss such groundless suspicions from your mind. Your letter has wounded me deeply. To break off our engagement would be to render me the most miserable of men. I am willing that the strictest inquiry should be made into my conduct, for it will bear the closest scrutiny.
Dearest, let me hear from you again soon, and in the old kind vein. Ever yours,
Dear Frank,—No letter again! You are really growing intolerably negligent, and I shall begin to think that you are getting tired of me, and that some new attraction is in the field. Knowing how anxious I am respecting your health and welfare, I am sure you will give me the credit of not writing from idle jealousy, although really I feel grieved and anxious at your unusual neglect.
I have no news just at present—indeed, I am too much out of spirits to write at any great length. Pray hasten to remove all doubt from the mind of one whose thoughts, day and night, are upon you only.
To Miss Lucy Hartman,
No. — St. Luke’s Place, Oct. 3d, 18—. My Dear Lucy,—It is with pain I write to you in aught that can seem like a strain of reproach, but I confess that your conduct last night both surprised and vexed me. Your marked approbation of the attentions paid to you by Mr. Walters was as obvious as your neglect of myself. Believe me, I am in no way given to idle jealousy—still less am I selfish or unmanly enough to wish to deprive any lady on whom I have so firmly fixed my affections, of any pleasure to be obtained in good society. But my peace of mind would be lost forever, did I believe that I have lost one atom of your affection.
Pray write, and assure me that you still preserve your undivided affection for
Your devoted but grieved
To Miss Catherine Morton,
Arch St., Philadelphia, Oct. 22st, 18—. My Dearest Kate,—How grieved am I that you should think me capable of wavering in my affection toward you, and inflicting a slight upon one, in whom my whole hopes of happiness are centered! Believe me, my attentions to Miss Hamilton were never intended for anything more than common courtesy. My long acquaintance with her father, and my knowledge of her amiable character—as well as the circumstance of her being a comparative stranger to the Howards,—such were my sole reasons for paying more attention to her than I might otherwise have done.
Pray rest confident in the belief that my affection for you is as unchanging as my regret is great that I should ever have given you cause to doubt it, and believe me, Dearest Kate,
Yours, ever sincerely and devotedly,