Your Constant, Faithful, and Affectionate True Love – Victorian Love Letters

My Dearest Reader—Do you sit glumly at your writing desk, your quill poised as you stare at your blank Valentine’s Day card?  Do you not possess the flowery prose to express your ardent, undying, and very proper love for another? Never fear! The Parlour Letter-writer And Secretary’s Assistant, published in 1845, can help. This volume is overflowing with sappy expressions of adoration that are perfect for almost any Victorian romantic relationship. I have excerpted a few letters for your reading pleasure. I am, gentle reader, Yours most sincerely.

Paisaje con mujer by José Villegas Cordero    

To a Lady.

My dearest Harriet—Ever since the fatal or auspicious evening that I was introduced to your endearing presence, my heart has been riveted to the lovely image of her, who must become the arbitress of my future happiness or misery; that the latter will be the case, will not endure a moment’s reflection, for independent of my own feelings, it would be cruel to suppose that a bosom formed of virtues most sensitive and tender, could ever consign a heart touched with those very virtues to become the victim of aspiring delusion. No, my dear Harriet, you will never overwhelm me with such a fatal reply, and thus annihilate all those endearing prospects of future felicity, which I have so ardently cherished; as an alleviation, then, to those fond feelings, which are at present severely agitated by suspense, permit me, my dear girl, to address your respected parents, for a formal recognition of my visits and attentions to a concession from my Harriet, will relieve me from a state of inexpressible anxiety, and in part secure to me a glowing tranquility, which is only in the power of you, my love, to bestow. Anxiously expecting a favourable reply, I am, dearest Harriet, yours sincerely.

The Answer.

Sir—In answer to your flattering letter, I must beg leave to remind you, that in giving you the permission of addressing my beloved parents upon the subject of your attachment to me, such permission must be understood as implying a reciprocity of feeling; which indeed, in a point involving all the consequences of my future happiness, is no ordinary speculation; however, that I may not incur the charge of cruelty from one whom, I must acknowledge, I at present value with no ordinary esteem, I shall, with the permission of my parents, feel much pleasure in a continuation of your society; but with regard to the success of your present enterprise, time and circumstances alone must determine. Begging you to receive my best acknowledgments for the honour conferred, I remain, sir, with sincere regard, Your affectionate friend.

At the Mirror by Georg Friedrich Kersting 

From a Gentleman to a Widow.

Madam—Since our first introduction, I have no longer been master of my own heart; your wit, beauty, and numerous good qualities, have enslaved it, and thus I offer it to your acceptance.

I will not condescend to employ flattery, for your own excellent understanding would condemn it; neither will I attempt to draw any romantic pictures of conjugal happiness; you are aware of what may be expected from the marriage state, from a man, I trust, of liberal ideas, and who is tenderly devoted to you. You have known me a sufficient time to be a judge of my merits (if I possess any); I shall therefore content myself with making you an offer of my hand and heart, which I trust you will accept. My circumstances, also, you are intimately acquainted with; it will, therefore, be needless for me to enter upon them. Suffice it to say, I can insure you every real comfort in life. Anxiously waiting for a reply to this letter, I remain, dear madam, Your devoted lover.

The Answer.

Sir—The very short time we have been acquainted, prevents my answering your letter in the decisive manner your professions seem to desire. Having already trod the path of conjugal happiness, it is a duty incumbent on me, not to mar my present widowed comforts by any delusive engagement; my former union having contributed to give me more correct views of life, requires that, previous to forming a second engagement, I should use a more matured discretion than may be expected from our sex in our tender years. Upon a better acquaintance, our views may be more congenial; until then, your regard for me will, I trust, spare me a reconsideration of your proposal. With the greatest respect for your kind attentions and esteem, I remain, sir, Yours most sincerely.

Preußisches Liebesglück by Emil Doerstling

From an Officer to a Lady.

My adored Girl—Your beloved society was to me a source of the purest delight. You may me judge, therefore, from your own sentiments, how miserable the order for my removal from you made me. Driven almost to despair, I reprobated the service, and would have given worlds to have resigned my commission, but it fortunately came into my mind that I might still pour out the warm feelings of my heart to you, my beloved, by means of my pen; this soothed my grief, and supported me under our painful separation.

The amusements of this place afford no pleasure to me, it being impossible for me to enjoy that in which you do not partake: no, my beloved, my only happiness consists in fancying scenes of ideal bliss which can never be accomplished till you are mine forever.

You are aware, Julia, that I was fearful of making your father acquainted with our mutual attachment, otherwise than by letter. The enclosed is for him; it contains a declaration of my affection for you; yet, acquainted as I am with his goodness, I am induced to hope for the most flattering result. Expecting to hear from you by return of post, am, my beloved Julia, Your faithful and affectionate lover.

The Lady’s Answer.

Dear Orlando—Your own feelings will explain to you how welcome your dear letter was to your own affectionate Julia, and how grieved I was to learn that you were compelled to tear yourself away from me, even for a short time; but, my dear Orlando, be assured that whether together or absent, your Julia is, and will be, eternally and affectionately your own. Should any obstruction arise, it must spring from yourself alone, as my happiness or misery in this world depends entirely upon your conduct; my very existence being interwoven with your well-being and general prosperity. My father has directed me to transmit you the enclosed. I have every reason to suppose it will prove agreeable, though I can assure you I am totally ignorant of its contents, and can only surmise them, by our last night’s conversation, when he hoped I should be as happy as he wished me. I must acknowledge my pride is not a little gratified at your statement, “that you can enjoy no pleasures in which I do not share.” It is an avowal, dear Orlando, which thrills my heart with unfeigned joy, and never shall you have, on my part, the smallest reason to think otherwise. Anxiously expecting to hear from you soon, I am, dear Orlando, Inviolably yours.

Petrus Van Schendel

From a Rich Gentleman to a Lady, with a Proposal of Marriage.

Madam—You will, perhaps, be surprised at receiving a letter from me; but as I have written it with the most honourable motives, I trust I may expect your pardon should the contents not be perfectly congenial to your views. However, I have every reason to conclude that in making you a proposal consistent with the passion I bear you, that I am not trespassing on a heart already bestowed on some favoured object. I therefore flatter myself that I may not be altogether unsuccessful in arriving at the happy preference to which I ardently aspire. My circumstances and station of life you are fully aware of, and I am happy to say that although there may be a disparity in point of fortune, nevertheless the very amiable qualities of your heart, and accomplishments of person, which have truly riveted my affections on you, have made such an impression on my family, that I can assure you, it would afford them the highest pleasure imaginable to reckon you in the number of their relations. Having prefaced, my dear madam, thus far, permit me to entreat a favourable reception of my attentions; and believe me that your consent will make me the happiest of my sex; on the contrary, madam, a refusal will render me the most miserable of beings; and I feel confident that a heart so truly amiable, will never give a moment’s pain to one who is truly fascinated with your charms, unless some fatal obstacle should exist, of which I am wholly unconscious. Anxiously expecting an answer, which may allay the unsettled feelings which at present agitate a heart wholly yours, I am, dear madam, Your sincere and affectionate admirer.

The Lady’s Answer.

I am truly sensible of the honour you have conferred on me, by the proposal which your letter contains, and can assure you I should be doing an injustice to my own feelings, were I to express sentiments in reply, otherwise than agreeable to your professed wish; the main difficulty to a concession on my part, is fully and agreeably removed, by the very flattering estimation in which you represent me to be held by your amiable and beloved family; had not that been the case, it would have been with much reluctance (supposing it to have been possible) that you would have elicited a consent from me, as I am too well aware of the unhappiness which generally ensues, from the protracted scorn and contempt of haughty relatives, where marriages are formed upon a disparity of fortune. But as I feel convinced that the merits of your family are not to be estimated by any ordinary standard, and that their most ardent wish is to promote your comfort and happiness, believe me, dear sir, I feel highly gratified at the honour of being considered by them worthy of being elevated to the most prominent station, as a contributor to it. You will have the goodness to present my most dutiful respects to them, and accept the sincere and tender affection Of your respectful and honoured.

Marcus Stone

From a Sailor to his Intended Wife.

Dearest Mary—An order has just arrived for our ship to sail immediately for the East Indies, where it is probable we shall remain for three years; but notwithstanding this, my dear girl, be assured that neither time nor absence will make any alteration in the affectionate heart of your devoted sailor. Keep up your spirits, then, my dear, and fear not on account of your lover, for

“There’s a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,

To watch for the life of poor Jack.”

And be assured that whatever may be our course, you will be the pole towards which the needle of my affections will constantly turn. I have got my half of the sixpence which we broke between us, and will preserve it as a sacred deposit; and should I fall among the glorious dead, it shall accompany me to my watery grave. Remember me, dearest Mary, and I trust that Fortune with her smile will soon enable me to return with wealth and honour, to lay them at your feet. May fair winds and a prosperous voyage attend you through life; and, in expectation of an early answer, I am, dearest, lovely Mary, Your affectionate lover.

The Answer.

My dearest John—Your kind letter, my dearest soul, has made me very unhappy. Indeed, it is cruel that we must part just at the moment when I expected we should be married. However, God’s will be done!

Be careful of yourself, my dear John, and remember that if any misfortune happens to you, I shall not long survive it. I am too happy in knowing how truly you love me, which causes me the more sorrow at the thought of parting from you. I have sent you, by the mail-coach, a few articles, which I am sure you will value for the sake of the giver; and be assured, whenever it shall please God for your return, you will find me Your still constant, faithful, and affectionate true love.

Actress and producer Mary Pickford

From a Jealous Lover to his Intended Wife.

October 20th, 18—. My dear Selina— Ah! my Selina, for I cannot entertain the dreadful thought for a moment that you are not mine, how can you be so cruel as to harrow my feelings by a pointed display of your attentions to young men, who, but for your apparent solicitude for their compliments, would have had no pretext for wounding a heart by their assiduity to acknowledge the marked distinction with which you treated them ; I had fondly hoped that the vows of mutual fidelity, and reciprocal love, with which we had pledged each other, would never have been erased from your tender bosom, but alas! what have I not to fear from the agonized feelings I experienced yesterday evening. If, my lovely Selina, you have the smallest respect for your vows, or the least spark of that attractive flame, which once seemed to glow for your now desponding Alfred, you will, by returning me a consolatory answer, heal the wounds you have so cruelly inflicted on a heart so devotedly your own : oh! Selina, let me but once again believe you are mine, and you will banish a load of misery from a heart tenderly and sincerely devoted to you. I am, cruel Selina, Your truly unhappy.

The Lady’s Answer.

My dear Alfred—Who could have supposed that you, who have made such ardent professions of tenderness, could have charged me, your own Selina, with cruelty? Were it not that I have, in compassion to your present feelings, condescended to attribute the charge to an over-sensitive heart, you would not have received any consolatory explanation of the circumstances which seem deep-ly to have affected you; the young men of whom you appear to be so nonsensically jealous, have been from children most intimately connected with our family, and not having had the pleasure of a visit from them for some years, and the particular marks of attention and respect with which I have been invariably treated by their respective families, might have caused that assiduity which they have a right to expect, and my own conscious feelings could not have refused; sorry should I be, my dear Alfred, to cause you a moment’s uneasiness; but since the whole affair has been purely accidental, I cannot but say that I am pleased in some measure with the result, since it has convinced me that your professions of love were genuine, and that I have no occasion to despair of a continuation of those affections, over which I appear to have some control, provided you will be equally alive to the exercise of your own good sense, in suppressing timely such ridiculous paroxysms of jealousy. I am, my dear Alfred, Yours affectionately.

Letter by Okada Saburosuke

From a Gentleman to a Lady greatly his Superior in Rank and Fortune.

Madam—I have no excuse to offer for my presumption in addressing this letter to a lady so greatly my superior, except my ardent love and admiration, which will be sufficient, I hope, to plead my pardon, and to procure me your pity. I have long tenderly loved you with the utmost fondness, but, till this moment, could never resolve to make a disclosure of my passion, on account of the inequality of our situations. Say then, madam, will you permit me to make you an offer of my hand and heart? Will you suffer me to indulge the pleasing expectation of receiving from you a return of mutual love? I can only add, that I am duly sensible of my temerity, but should you condescend to accept my proposal, and by uniting your destiny with mine, make me the happiest of men, then shall my life be devoted to the constant promotion of your happiness. I am, dear madam, Ever yours.  

The Answer.

Sir—As from the whole tenor of your conduct, I have long flattered myself with the possession of your heart, I will confess that I was not much surprised at the receipt of your letter. Believe me, sir, I consider the mere distinction arising from birth or wealth, as idle things. With this impression upon my mind, I feel no hesitation in avowing that I have long loved you with a mutual warmth of affection. Consequently, I can offer no objection to the proposal you have honoured me with; and I consider myself highly distinguished in being selected by you as the female worthy of becoming your wife. Having made this confession, I shall not endeavour to restrain your happiness by any false affectation of reserve, but content myself with stating that I am ready to become your wife; for which purpose I leave the necessary arrangements to you. I am, dear sir, Yours faithfully.   

Pauline Hübner, née Bendemann by Julius Hübner  

Will You Be My Victorian Valentine?

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,

Francis Templeton

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,

Clara Henderson

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.

Passionately yours,

Herbert Holton

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,

Yours affectionately,

Maud Carter

To Miss Belle Carpenter,

Wall St., New York, Oct . 5th, 18—. My Dear Miss,—I am accustomed to speak plainly, and know little of the niceties of etiquette. Do not think the worse of me for opening my heart to you abruptly, without any preliminary flourishes. There cannot be anything offensive, I hope, in the candid declaration that I love you. If you will give me the opportunity, I will endeavor to prove my affection by devoting my whole life to the promotion of your happiness. I should regard the pleasure of calling you my wife as the greatest that earth could afford.

Most sincerely yours,

Albert Seaton

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,

Belle Carpenter

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 business and everything else to the Fates, and takes the first train to New York. However, the hours do move, though they don’t appear to, and in a few more weeks we shall meet again. Let me hear from you as frequently as possible in the meantime. Tell me of your health, your amusements and your affection.

Remember that every word you write will be a comfort to me. Unchangeably yours,

William Archer

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

Kate Martin

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,

Henry Barclay

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,

Yours affectionately,

Jane Grover

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,

Ernest Irving

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 not despair. Sincerely yours,

Alice Martine

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,

Yours devotedly,

Clarence Boardman

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,

Lizzie Bolton

To Mr. Henry Hilton,

Walnut St., Philadelphia, Dec. 2d, 18—. Sir,—I have heard of your flirtations since you have been at New York. In fact I have been told that you were false enough to deny your engagement to me, in the hope of making yourself more acceptable as a beau to your new lady acquaintances. Under such circumstances I am quite willing to release you from all your promises. You are free, sir! I have no inclination to share your affections with half a dozen others. Nothing less than a whole heart will satisfy me.

Yours etc.,

Augusta Wells

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,

Harry Hilton

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.

Your affectionate

Fanny

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

Arthur

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,

William Lloyd

Secret Flirtations at the Dinner Table and More Victorian Love Letters

It was an overcast day, and I was in a bad mood. All morning, I sat and stared at my computer screen with no creative inspiration, no burning desire. My mind was dull, dull, dull.  Then I realized what was wrong: I hadn’t posted in months from The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained by Henry J Wehman, published in 1890!  I was in withdrawal. I needed some bombastic Victorian Gothic lovin’ and fast.

I flipped through an issue of Cassell’s Family Magazine from 1890 (I found this lovely campy short story that I will have to post later! You’ll love it!) and photoshopped some great illustrations. Actually, I found too many illustrations. So in the next few days, I’ll create a post on hat flirtations that includes the additional images.

Anyhoo, let Mr. Wehman teach us the basics of dining room flirtation, as well as more lessons on how to write love letters.

 

And now for some yummy love letters!

FROM A YOUNG MAN WHO IS MODEST BUT SINCERE.

TO MISS ANNA WATTS:

Since our last interview you have been constantly in my thoughts, and from your actions, if not your words, I gleaned that the love I have cherished for you during the past five months is in a slight degree reciprocated. Am I wrong in this conclusion? I pray not.  If right, may I hope that some day in the near future you will become my wife? You are the one woman in the world for whom the intensity of my love is equaled only by its sincerity. Financially I have very little to offer you, but, with hard work, my prospects are promising, and what greater inspiration can a man have than the woman he loves to work for? I realized your superiority to me in every way, and yet I beg you to accept my name and a comparatively humble position, when you are fitted for and capable of filling the highest position in the land. My only plea is that I love you. Feeling sure that, after giving this matter serious and deliberate consideration, you will write me frankly, believe me, with deepest respect and admiration, as anxiously awaiting you reply.

JAMES McKNIGHT

FROM A GENTLEMAN TO A LADY, REQUESTING HER PHOTOGRAPH.

DEAR JOSEPHINE:

Do you remember about  a month ago promising that, if I would give it the first place in my album, you would give me your photograph? I promised, and have faithfully kept the page blank, but your picture does not come. Have you repented your generosity, or have other friends appropriated all the pile of cards you showed me? You cannot escape on the ground of poverty, for I know that your last sitting was a complete success, and have a great desire to own one of those exquisite profiles that you tantalize me by withholding.

Do, my dear Josey, send me at once the promised picture, that it may comfort me for absence from your presence.

Yours, most affectionately,

KARL

FROM A GENTLEMAN TO A LADY, REQUESTING PERMISSIONS TO CALL

MISS VICTORIA DAVIDSON:

Having had the pleasure of meeting you once at the house of our mutual friend, Mrs. Bowen, I venture to write to request permission to call upon you at your own residence. I have been but a short time a resident in this city, but your father will, I think, remember Mr. Martin Krider, of Chicago, who is my uncle..

Trusting that you will pardon the liberty I am taking, and grant me a position among your gentleman acquaintances, I am,

Very respectfully,

H.T. KRIDER

WILL YOU BE MINE

DEAR SARAH:

As  my duties will not allow me to see you in person for some time, I feel unable to refrain any longer from asking a question which has lingered on my lips for months. My actions have been such that you cannot have failed to see my intentions, and, as they have not been rebuked, I have concluded my feelings are reciprocated.  As you are aware, I am alone, having no relatives, and I desire to have a companion—one of home I shall use my every effort to make happy, and who will in turn do likewise. Will you be that companion?  I have not taken this step without first considering your happiness, that being as much to me as my own. My business is sufficiently profitable to support us, and I know I can give you as comfortable a home as the one from which I desire to take you. And I assure you that, unless I was sure of being able to keep sorrow as far away from you in the future as it has been in the past, I would not ask you to be mine.

I await what I trust will be a favorable reply.

Sincerely yours,

HARVEY STONE

Susanna’s note: I have many more lessons in flirting from  The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained. Just check the site archives on the right. 

Victorian Lessons: How to Flirt with Gloves, the Importance of Ring Position, and Writing Love Letters that Get You Married (or not)

Good heavens, it has been months since I last visited The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained by Henry J Wehman, published in 1890.  How my heart has missed its missives of love and longing. Tonight, I learned why I had so much trouble getting dates in my early 20s. It seems I was wearing my ring the wrong finger! I was telegraphing to men of wealth and station my intention to die unmarried.  Not only that, I was constantly biting the tips of my gloves not knowing that I was telling gentlemen to go away. I should been striking my gloves over my shoulder inviting men to follow me.

So, let us learn the proper ways to telegraph love with glove and rings, as well as how to write love letters to strangers, inconstant lovers and heavenly angels that you fell in love with at first sight.

Most of the images in this post come from Cassell’s Family Magazine.

Let’s get started….

Love’s Telegraph

If a gentleman wants a wife, he wears a ring on the first finger of the left hand; if he is engaged, he wears it on the second finger; if married, on the third; and on the fourth if he never intends to be married. When a lady is not engaged, she wears a hoop or diamond on her first finger; if engaged, on the second; if married, on the third and on the fourth if she intends to die unmarried. When a gentleman presents a fan, flower, or trinket to a lady with the left hand, this on his part is an overture of regard; should she receive it with the left hand, it is considered as an acceptance of his esteem; but if with the right hand, it is a refusal of the offer. Thus, by a few simple tokens explained by rule, the passion of love is expressed and through the medium of the telegraph, the most timid and diffident man may, without difficulty, communicate his sentiments of regard to a lady, and, in case his offer should be refused, avoid experiencing the mortification of an explicit refusal.

Letter to a young lady after seeing her in a store:

Madam:

 You will perhaps think it extraordinary that a young man should take the liberty of addressing you without even the formality of a previous introduction. I have to apologize, therefore, and I hope that you will at least forgive me if you cannot confer the favor which I would ask.  I have so far seen only through the window of ——‘s store, bit cannot explain to you how great a desire I feel that I should enjoy the very great pleasure of your acquaintance. I might perhaps obtain this, if you allowed me to do so, by means of some mutual friend, but I know of none. There is no alternative for me but a direct request, and I thought it more respectful to make it by letter. It would at this moment, be impertinent to allude further to the great admiration which I have for you, in begging you to give me an opportunity of introducing myself, and I must add of satisfying you of my respectability. I feel that I have already run the risk of causing you annoyance. To have done so would have been a source of deep regret.  I trust that you will be so kind as to give me even the slightest intimation of your wishes, and you may depend upon my intruding no further without your permission.

Respectfully,

HERBERT WHITE

Her reply

Sir:

Your note has very much surprised me. You are so entirely unknown to me that cannot guess what my correspondent’s appearance even may be. Under these circumstances I must decline saying more than that I can neither refuse nor comply with your request. I think indeed that I ought at once to refuse it.

ROSE

From a lady to an inconstant lover:

Dear C—-:

It is with great reluctance that I enter upon a subject which has given me great pain, and upon which silence has become impossible if I would preserve my self-respect. You cannot but be aware that I have just reason for saying that you have much displeased me. You have apparently forgotten what is due to me, circumstanced as we are, thus far at least.  You cannot suppose that I can tamely see you disregard my feelings, by conduct toward other ladies from which I should naturally have the right to expect  you to abstain. I am not so vulgar a person as to be jealous.  When there is cause to infer changed feelings, or unfaithfulness to promises of constancy, jealousy is not the remedy. What the remedy is I need not say – we both of us have it in our own hands. I am sure you will agree with me that we must come to some understanding by which the future shall be governed. Neither you nor I can bear a divided allegiance.  Believe me that I write more in sorrow than in anger. You have made me very unhappy, and perhaps thoughtlessly. But it will take much to reassure me of your unaltered regard

Yours truly

EMMA

Love at First Sight:

To Miss Rose Terry:

It is but a few short months since we met, and yet in that time I have come to regard you more in the light of a heavenly angel than an earthly mortal, and in thee, dearest, I have found the ideal I have so long pictured as the woman I could love and cherish for a lifetime. I have neither wealth or station to offer thee, but instead an honest, loyal and lasting love, which you will increase tenfold in brightness and glory if you will accept it. This is sudden – too sudden, I fear – but my excuse is the hope of winning a sweet, gracious wife, who alone can make me happy. Write me at the earliest moment, I beseech thee, dearest love, and tell me if I am to be the happiest man in all the world. With feelings of the highest esteem and the deepest, most loyal love, I am thine.

JAMES LEON

See more posts from The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained:

More Victorian Love Letters and the Basics of Postage Stamp Flirtation

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

How to Write Victorian Love Letters

Handkerchief and Fan Flirtations

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

Once again, I am excerpting from what is becoming my favorite book, The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained, 1890. Using my Photoshop skills, I merged a passage about the language of flowers with a floral graphic from Cassell’s Family Magazine, 1885 . I hope you will enjoy this special Valentine’s Day present from me to you. 

 

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