Victorian Window Signaling, Hat Flirtations, Love Letters and More

Gentle readers, oh horror! I’ve run out of passages that I want to excerpt from The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained by Henry J Wehman, published in 1890! I adore this book, so I’m feeling a bit sad. *Sniffs and dabs eyes with lacy handkerchief *

Once again, I’m overzealous with images from Cassell’s Family Magazine from 1890. But I don’t care. When I see these illustrations, my inner Susanna child gets excited like she did over the Tasha Tudor illustrations in her Frances Hodgson Burnett books.

Susanna’s note: And, of course, some of Wehman’s passion drenched love letters. How I will miss them!

To Miss Charlotte Vonk.

Dear Charlotte:— My feelings have reached a point which demands expression, and I must tell you something which I hope may not seem to you unwelcome. I have felt for weeks that life meant nothing for me unless you passed through it by my side, as my precious little wife. I love you as ardently as ever a man loved a woman, and all that there is in me of good, whatever powers of mind or body, I will deem it the highest bliss to devote to you. Dear one, you must have felt something of this. When I have touched your hand it has seemed to me that the electric sensation which pervaded my whole being must have affected you. I put the matter to the touch to win or lose, because I can endure this agony of suspense no longer. I pray you by all that is holy in love to think deeply on my words, that I love you from my very soul. Will you make life a heaven for me by saying “Yes?”

Most respectfully yours,

Paul Preston

To Miss Hannah Palmer.

Dear Hannah: — “When there is love in the heart there are rainbows in the eyes.” Dearest, you have thrown a sweet enchantment around me, and I am only happy when near you. By day your worth and beauty haunt me wherever I go, and at night your teasing blue eyes dance thro’ all my dreams— my life, I love you!

“By all the token flowers that tell
What words can never speak so well;
By love’s alternate joy and woe—
Zoe mou sas agapo”

Sweetheart, will you be my wife? I have plenty to make us happy. Our love will draw down the angels! Be my sun by day darling, and my moon by night. My halls are lonely. Eventide is dreary!

“Oh, then is the time when most I miss you,
And I swear by the stars and my soul and say
That I will have you, and hold you, and kiss you,
Though the whole world stand in the way.”

Be the bright angel of my existence, sweet, and I will love you!

“Till the sun grows cold,
And the stars are old,
And the leaves of the Judgement Book unfold!”

I remain, yours truly,

George Atridge

Susanna’s Note: No, no dear Hannah and Charlotte! Don’t accept these men!  I beg you. Not until you have read Wehman’s commandments for husbands and wives. 


Husband’s Commandments

  • Thou shalt love no other man but me.
  • Thou shalt not have a daguerreotype or any any other likeness of any man but thy husband.
  • Thou shalt not keep it in secret, and worship it; for I, thy husband, am a jealous husband.
  • Thou shalt not speak thy husband’s name with levity.
  • Remember thy husband’s commandments to keep them sacred.
  • Honor thy husband and obey him, that thou may’st be long in in the home he has given thee.
  • Thou shalt not find fault when thy husband chews and smokes.
  • Thou shalt not scold.
  • Thou shalt not permit thy husband to wear a buttonless shirt, but shall keep his clothing in good repair.
  • Thou shalt not continually gad about, neglecting thy husband and family.
  • Thou shalt not strive to live in the style of thy neighbor unless thy husband is able to support it.
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s fine house, nor his fine furniture, nor his wife’s thousand dollar shawl, nor her fifty dollar handkerchief, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.
  • Thou shalt not go to Women’s Rights meetings, neither to speak thyself nor to hear others speak.
  • Thou shalt not scold if thy husband stays out till after twelve o’clock at night.
  • Thou shalt not sum up large bills at the stores, which thy husband is unable to foot; for verily he knoweth his means.

Wife’s Commandments

  • Thou shalt have no other woman but me.
  • Thou shalt not have a picture or likeness of any other woman but me ; for I only am thy wife, and a jealous wife.
  • Remember thy wife’s commandments to keep them sacred.
  • Love and cherish thy wife, and no other woman; that you may live lovingly together in the home thou gavest unto her.
  • Thou shalt not find fault when thy wife goes out to spend money, buying fashionable shawls and dresses; for I am thy wife. Thou shalt not scold. Thou shalt not suffer thy wife to wear a thread bare dress, but shall keep her decently clad and in good repair.
  • Thou also shalt furnish buttons and thread to keep thine and thy children’s shirts in order. Fail not.
  • Thou shalt not gad about, from saloon to saloon, after sunset neglecting thy wife and children.
  • Thou shalt not dress thyself in fashion, unless thou dress thy wife also.
  • Thou shalt not go to spiritual or other slight-of-hand meetings, neither to speak thyself, or hear others speak: thus saith thy wife.
  • Thou shalt not find fault if thy wife should fail in getting the meals in due time ; for, knowest thou, O man !— better late than never.
  • Thou shalt not drink beer nor spirits, nor chew, nor smoke-; for knowest thou it consumeth money. Verily, verily I say unto thee: I am mistress of the house thou gavest unto me.

Ouch! History is much more fun in retrospect. And now I must dash off from the house, which my husband gavest me, to gad about to my Women’s Rights meeting where I am speaking.   Dinner will be late, of course, because I will have spent the evening worshiping another man’s daguerreotype and coveting my neighbor’s thousand dollar shawl.

14 Replies to “Victorian Window Signaling, Hat Flirtations, Love Letters and More”

  1. All your replies are 2012 so perhaps you aren’t monitoring these now. I have a 1903 book presumably by Henry J. Wehman titled Because I Love You, published by Drake & Co., no illustrations but many of your same quotations. I can’t find it anywhere online. Do you know of it or it’s possible value?

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