The Fine Art of Love Epistles

Ah, dear Patron- to be young and in the throes of courtship once again!
Below I humbly offer you my “top five tips,” as Lady Peabody refers to them, for proper epistolary excellence in the most private and important matter of writing Love Letters. I myself wooed my Mistress, now Lady Peabody, through a fevered epistolary correspondence in which I kept the following five tips in mind whenever I wrote my Mistress a Letter.

As I remember it, the words the revered Richard Steele wrote nearly a century ago still bear considerable relevance in our modern day and age, in the venerable paper The Tatler. Some of you might be too young to have read these words yourself, but I am proud to be the one to pass this wisdom on to you. Delay no more-- have your quill and paper at hand, and prepare yourself to win yourself the most winsome, virtuous lady that you desire- and may she be beautiful, too.

5. Tell the Truth. I have retrieved Steele's words from my archives to provide you with excellent examples of how to go about constructing a letter that cannot fail in conveying to your loved on your true emotions, with honesty and without ornamentation, and of course display your character as that of the utmost virtue.

8. Flattery will get you everywhere!

Women are the most fantastical creatures, and love to be complimented. Ladies need be more modest when bestowing favor upon their gentleman of choice, for fear of compromising appearances. See my tips below from the Amorous Gallant, which have worked very well for me in the past with my previous amours (although of course Lady Peabody is my most precious treasure!)

Henry Alken, "A young suitor kneels in front of a plump and unattractive young lady." © Corporation of London

For the Beauty:

Your Beauty is the Pole-Star of my Soul, and brings my wandring Heart tos’sd on the Billows of Inconstancy, to the desired Haven of its Rest.

My personal favorite (it worked wonders with Mistress Peabody- just ask her!) Your Beauty is the Clue that guides my Heart thro’ all the winding Labyrinths of Love.

For the Virtuous-

Your Goodness, like the Sun’s benign Rays, chears my despairing Soul, and makes me hope, in Spite of my Unworthiness.

For the Charmer:

Tho’ Cupid has oftentimes assayed to wound my Heart, yet I have still despis’d the foolish Boy, and turned his Arrows back again unwounded. But at the Sight of your bright Eyes, my Heart was quickly pierced and I straitways became your Captive. For who cou’d hope to encounter with So many Charms as your are armed withal, and yet come off unvanquish’d?

For Ladies:

Some sincere and kind compliments to use without betraying impropriety of character:

My Wishes, Sir, keep Pace with your Endeavours, and may all your Desires meet with happy Issue.

Sir, I never had those ambitious Thoughts, to think you could affect to imperfect a Creature as Myself.

One that always touches my own heart- Sir, Nothing Shall Rob my Heart of the fair Image to your Virtues, but Death itself.

5. Follow a format- see Familiar Letters for All Occasions (1741)

4. Do not just write- sing her a song, write her a poem.

3. Start out as friends. Remember Mary Davys’ Familiar Letters Betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady (1725) ? Artander and Berina began as lovers who agreed to be Platonic... and yet their letters together are more full of wit and passion than any other, as Artander goes as far as to promise his Lady Compleat Obedience should they be Married (we must all beware spontaneity in the face of love..)

2. Write when she does not Expect it.
Mr. B In Pamela (401) My dearest Love... As I desired you not to expect me, if I returned not by eleven last night, I hope my absence did not discompose you....... I sat up with my poor friend Carlton all night.
I count every hour of this little absence for a day: for I am, with the utmost sincerity, my dearest, love,
For ever your’s,

1. Be persuasive- Do not follow the conduct of Sir Clement Willoughy in Frances Burney's Evelina, but do not give up so easily on the first suit!


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