The Victorian Language of Flowers, How to Write a Victorian Love Letter, and Parasol Flirtations

Language of Flowers

Once again, I am excerpting from what is becoming my favorite campy antique book, The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained, 1890.

The Language Of Flowers

Arbor Vitæ — Unchanging friendship.
Apple Blossom — My preference.
Alyssum — Worth above beauty.
Aspen Tree — Sorrow.
Blue Canterbury Bell — Fidelity.
China Pink — Hate.
Coreopsis — Love at first sight.
Dead Leaves — Heavy heart.
Forget-me-not — True love.
Geranium — Lost hope.
Hazel – Let us bury the hatchet.
Hawthorn — Hope.
Heliotrope — You are loved.
Ivy — Friendship.
Lily Of The Valley — Happy again.
Linden Tree — Marriage.
Marigold — I am jealous.
Myrtle — Unalloyed affection.
Pansy —Think of me.
Pea — Meet me by moonlight.
Peach Blossom — My heart is thine.
Phlox — Our souls are united.
Pink, red — Woman’s love.
Rose — Perfect beauty.
Rose-Bud — My heart knows no love.
Rose Geranium — You are preferred.
Sweet William — Let this be our last.
Tulip — Declare your love.
Wallflower — You will find me true.
Yellow Lily — You are a coquette.

*For a more comprehensive list, see The Language of Flowers by Kate Greenaway.

More Victorian Love Letters

From a young man to a young lady whom he has known some time.

To Miss Maggie Holmes,

Dear Maggie:- When I began to love you I did not know what ills I was preparing for myself. The fear of hopeless passion has at times depressed me with despair, and yet the object of my adoration is such an inestimable prize that all the energy of my being forces me to strive for it. Since I first met you the world has changed its aspect. Some secret charm enlivens every object; all nature seems animated with the genial warmth of love. Your beautiful image is always before me; neither time nor place can deprive me of it, and it appears still more enchanting with each recurring vision. I wait with impatience the happy moment when I can see you again. You are surrounded by your family and friends, who adore you. You are the ornament of society and the admired representative of a nation. Alas! I have so little to offer in exchange for all these. But you are essential to my happiness, and if you will accept my love and become my wife I shall be inspired with new hopes and endeavors. It shall be the chief effort of my life to make you happy. Sincerely, H. Edward Charles

Favorable Reply to the Foregoing

To H. Edward Charles: Your kind and manly letter opens my eye to the fact that what I believed to be only a warm friendship is a stronger feeling. I see that it would be a pain to me to lose your visits and presence, and that such love as you promise your wife would make me very happy. You see that I answer you frankly, deeming it wrong to trifle with such an affection as you offer to me.  

I have shown your letter to my parents, and they desire me to say that they will be pleased to have you call this evening to see them. With kindest regards, I am,

Ever yours truly,

Maggie Holmes

Parasol Flirtations

Carrying elevated in left hand — Desiring acquaintance.
Carrying elevated in right hand —  You are too willing.  
Carrying closed in left hand — Meet on the first crossing.
Carrying closed in right hand, by your side  — Follow me.
Swinging to and fro by the handle on left side  — Engaged.
Swinging to and fro by the handle on right side  — Married.
Striking it on the hand — I am very much displeased.
Tapping the chin gently — I am in love with another.
Using it as a fan —  Introduce me to your company.
Twirling it around  — Be careful! We are watched.
Carrying over right shoulder  — You can speak to me.
Carrying over left shoulder. — You are too cruel.
Carrying in front of you  — No more at present.
Closing it up — I wish to speak to you, love.
Folding up  — Get rid of your company.
Letting it rest on right cheek  — Yes.
Letting it rest on left cheek  — No.
With handle to lips  — Kiss me.
End of tips to lips  — Do you love me?
Dropping it  — I love you.

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

So, you sit with a pen in your hand and a blank Valentine’s Day card before you.  But you just can’t think of those special words to express your true feelings for your beloved. Have no fear, The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained, 189o has come to your rescue. This book is filled with great advice and sample letters just for you and your special circumstances.

Let’s get started:

Love Letters: It is almost impossible to lay down rules for writing a love letter. Some young gentlemen make themselves very ridiculous with their pens. They overdo the thing. After you are engaged to be married, it is best not to be too sweet upon your sweetheart, or she may become disgusted. Before engagement, she will perhaps bear a little soft-solder or highfalutin, if not laid on too thick. But not put too many adjectives in your letters, and as a general rule avoid the repetition of endearing terms. One dose of adulation is quite sufficient to give at one time. If your sweetheart is a sensible girl, she will make wry faces even at that. The generality of the sex, however, love to be loved, and how are they to know the fact that they are loved unless they are told? To write a sensible love letter requires more talent than to solve, with your pen, a profound problem in philosophy. Lovers must not then expect much from each other’s epistles. As the object of this little treatise is to aid young men in their courtships, we will give a few specimens of letters that may be written to bring about an understanding between would-be contracting parties. Also forms of answers to the same where young ladies desire to return their autographs:

The following letter may be written by a young man who has shown a partiality for the society of a lady, but who has not had the courage to tell her that “he adores her.” If she accepts him under such circumstances, she will consider herself as good as engaged to be married.

Tuesday Afternoon.

Dear Miss Thorne:

I hope you will forgive me for presuming to write to you without permission, for I assure you it is with reluctance I take up my pen, But I feel that I must reveal to you my feelings and my hopes. Trusting that my attentions have, in a measure, prepared you for a demonstration of some kind as regards the future, I now throw myself at your feet, and ask your love! If I know my own heart, it has an unalterable affection for you. Can you, and will you respond to it? I will be with you this evening, when I hope to be greeted with loving smiles of approval. Adieu till then,

H. Seymour.

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