Have you gotten started on your Valentine’s yet? If not, will you know what to say when you do? Last week we explored the Regency Valentine’s manual for men, Richardson’s New London fashionable gentleman’s valentine writer, or, The lover’s own book for this year : containing a very choice selection of original and popular valentines with appropriate answers (I know, what a mouthful, right?). As promised, I am returning to tell you about its companion book for women, Richardson’s New Fashionable Lady’s Valentine Writer, or, Cupids Festival of Love. I had just a wonderful time going down the rabbit hole of reading both of these books and when I discovered how different they are from each other decided to do a post on each.
And plus, I am of the opinion that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated as much as possible!
Valentines based on profession
What I thought was so fascinating about Richardson’s guide for gentlemen is that it gives Valentine’s scripts based on a man’s profession. They are absolutely charming and range from scripts for a man of “high standing” to a malter and a painter.
The most obvious difference between Richardson’s two Valentine’s manuals is that while the guide for men focuses on how to address a woman according to his profession, the guide for women focuses on how to address a man according to his profession, not her own circumstances.
Next, while Richardson’s guide for men is a manual on how to woo a woman, the guide for women has little to do with romance. Instead, most of the recommended scripts are outrageously insulting to the recipient and seemingly meant to put a man in his place rather than leave any type of favorable impression. I may have had a great time reading them, but at the same time part of me really hurt to think that men may have received such letters in the Regency era.
So – if you have yet to write your Valentine’s, I’d beg you to enjoy this look at the past but please leave it there.
Richardson’s New Fashionable Lady’s Valentine Writer, or, Cupids Festival of Love: Valentine scripts for women
To a butcher
Pert and greasy, rude and sly,
Stands the butcher, “Buy-you-buy,”
Ah! Bt indeed, to buy and rue,
Would be to buy a calf like you:
No, no, Sir; ere you look on betters,
Mend your manners, learn your letters;
And if of love your tongue must pattle
Bleat your lays among the cattle.
To a hair-dresser
The sight of you, good Mr. Fritz,
With lanken legs and pallid phiz,
Make lovers all agig;
Thou twirler of the wooden block,
The scratch and periwig.
I’d sooner single be than join,
With such a soapy Valentine,
A gossip-bearing lout,
A powder-puff, whose idle prate
Disturbs the heart, while be the pate
As rudely turns about
To a baker
Raking, baking, what a sloven,
Out of doors or at the oven,
With darned hose about the legs,
Like dusters hung on wooden pegs.
A mumping pie, polluting sinner,
Who dips in dishes for a dinner,
Meat shaver, who politely takes
From beef or veal or spicy cakes.
O! Never, never, would I be
The wife of such a knave as thee;
And never, never, would I match
With one who’d spoil of love the batch.
From a Young Lady to Her Lover
(Note: one nice Valentine)
Dear youth, to thee I dedicate my hours,
And crown thy bust with amaranthine flow’rs;
The hyacinth so sweet, the violet blue,
And fragrant roseswash’d with morning dew,
Rich scented pinks, jonquils and eglantine,
Enwreath’d by Cupid for my Valentine;
These speak affection that is wholly thine,
And lead me willing on to Hyman’s shrine.
From a Lady
(Note: to an undesirable man)
Right, Master Goose! So you’re in love!
Oh! What a brilliant flame ‘twill prove;
Buzzard! With Cupid you’ll ne’er quaff,
Each time you speak you make me laugh;
Receive from my this admonition,
There’s none will grant you your petition.
From a Lady
(note: to a man with a beard)
Lord, what a monster! With your whisker’d face,
Each feature of it we in a monkeys trace [sic];
With tight-laced stays to make your waist look slender,
Inspiring doubts as to your very gender;
So, like the Welchman I shall say, “God men hur.” \
(Note: despite my best efforts I have no idea what “God men hur” refers to.)