More Victorian Love Letters and the Basics of Postage Stamp Flirtation

It’s been two long weeks since I last posted an excerpt from The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained by Henry J Wehman.  I feel a sadness in my heart that only a love letter from Mr. Wehman can dispel.  Gentle reader, I have a terrible confession to make: I have missed a very important detail in the art of Victorian love letter writing and that is postage stamp flirtation. My letters might have said, “I love you,” but my straight up and down stamps said, “Goodbye, sweetheart.”  Luckily, Mr. Wehman has set me straight on this count.

Once again, I have included images from Cassell’s Family Magazine published in 1886, four years before the The Mystery of Love. I just adore Cassell’s.  In the very near future, I will include one of its short stories on this blog.


Excerpt of sample love letters from  The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained:

From a poor young man to a rich young lady whom he had only seen but a few times:

 Dear Miss W— ;

 You will no doubt be surprised to receive a letter from one who is almost a total stranger to you, but I hope you will pardon me for my boldness when I tell you how truly, how deeply I love you. Perhaps prudence would dictate that I should, for the present, at least, withhold this confession, but my heart is impatient and will not be quieted until I have made you acquainted with its secret. I am aware that the suddenness of my passion may awaken the suspicion that it is only a shallow and transient feeling, but I am sure that you have won my whole heart, and what more could you do were those charms of yours, which have so easily captivated me, to shine before me for years? Love is not a vegetable that it must grow nor is it a thing of logic that it must depend upon sequences and conclusions; but it is a passion of the soul, which may, like thought, be born in an instant, especially in the presence of beauty and accomplishments such as you possess.

All I expect in answer to this, I fear, imprudent note, is some intimation that I may dare to hope that I do not live without hope. Give me but an opportunity to prove myself worthy of the infinite happiness which your love would bestow, and there is no impossibility I would not achieve to obtain it. Indeed, since the first night I saw you, the perfection and the constellation of charms that shine in your person have filled my heart and brain so full that I can do nothing but think of you all day and dream of you all night. I cannot imagine any happiness for myself in the future which is not identified with you.

If your heart is yet free, and if you do not find objections to answering this note, I entreat you to deal with me with the same direct frankness that I have used in addressing you.

I am, with great respect and devoted love,

Henry B—.

The Answer

Boston, May 10, 18–,

Dear Sir:

It would be affectiation in me to deny that your note, pleases, as much as it surprises me; nor will I attempt to disguise that, at the present moment, I sincerely hope that you have rightly estimated the nature of the sentiment which you so frankly profess. There are no objections either to my corresponding with you, or receiving you as guest at my father’s house. The frankness of your letter agrees with the idea that I had already formed of your character, and inspires me with confidence that you are incapable of any motive which should justly cause a lady to treat you with the severity of greater formality.

 With great respect, &c-,

 Maggie W –


A gentleman, having attended a golden wedding, writes to one of the guests as follows:

 My Dear Miss H–:

 New York, June 2, 18–”.

 The very delightful party of last night was one which will long be remembered by those present, and by none longer than myself. I hope you enjoyed it thoroughly. How exquisite a spectacle, that of the lovers of years ago once more assembling their friends as witnesses to the union of hearts which age has not withered nor the passing of time cooled toward each other. To me there was great significance in the ceremonies of the evening. For those who aspire towards such a union themselves there almost seemed to be a wish and a prophecy of like love and a similar history. To me they spoke words of encouragement and gave me hope. May I not take to myself that courage and that hope, and ask you to return a love which is as fond, and which will be as enduring as that is of our dear host and hostess. My dear Miss H —, I have longed to say this to you before. I have often nearly broken a silence, which in plain truth I need not have kept. I will do so now. I will at once assure you of my earnest love, and beg you to think of me with favor. You are to me dearer than all the world besides, and you always will be. Tell me that I may come to you and say it, and you will make me happier than words can express. This may seem too abrupt — but were I to write a million pages, they would but repeat that I love you and ask you to love me, Am I too bold in signing myself

Ever your most affectionate


Answer to the preceding

 My Dear Mr. J–:

You are rather bold; but I forgive you. I am not even angry enough to scold. Yes, it was a delightful party and the happiness which was diffused around brought tears into my eyes more than once. Not that I am sentimental–but the scene was so full of joyfulness. You ask me to love you. I am not a coquette, and  therefore confess that I love you already. Silly boy — don’t you know it? But I think you do. You see I am perfectly candid. Why should I not be? You may come and tell me again what you have written, and I will repeat your own phrase, that I am

 Ever your most affectionate

 Cora —.

 Sensible girl that. She will make a good wife.

Check back for more love letters, as well as the details of hat flirtation and dinner signaling. Ever your most affectionate,


More from  The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained:

The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained — Handkerchief and Fan Flirtations

The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained — How to Write Victorian Love Letters

Valentine’s Day Edition: The Language of Flowers, How to Write a Victorian Love Letter, and Parasol Flirtations


10 Replies to “More Victorian Love Letters and the Basics of Postage Stamp Flirtation”

  1. @Laura, what part: the love letter, the flirtations or just the book in general?

  2. The post office must have hated the postage stamp flirtation, which does sound rather silly.
    One could take the letters and write stories about the couples except who wpuld believe that p[eople ever really wrote like that? Sounds like a Lytton -Bulwer novel.

  3. Love is not a vegetable. I will for ever carry these words in my heart. 😀

    Nancy: “The post office must have hated the postage stamp flirtation”
    Why? They most certainly knew the code and it was like happening to hear a snippet of a secret conversation. 😀 Also, they stamped all the envelopes by hand any way, it wouldn’t have mattered where the stamps are.
    What I was thinking was the parents who also must have been aware of this… would you give a letter to your daughter from an unknown gentleman with the stamp on the left corner upside down? Or not upside down! I would find it really hard to not read a letter from someone who claims to hate my child!
    And imagine the horror, when one notices the stamp isn’t upside down, and you told your love that you hate her!!! Atonement, all over again! NO! How many young men went to seas because of a sloppily stamped letter? 😀

  4. I don’t think either the post office or the parents knew the code – and probably very few followed it. Ditto for all those other codes. We probably have modern day equivalents that we just haven’t come across. (Certainly there’s still a language of flowers.) I wonder if the handkerchief code acted as a middle-class or lower version of the fan code. Most women carried handkerchiefs, not so fans. The language of the letters reminds me of the sort of thing villians and rakes and puppies write in old books. I can just see Frank Churchhill writing something similar. I don’t know if any of the heroines ever responded favorably to such honey-coated letters. The heros usually cut down even further on the “adjectives.”

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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