Valentine’s Day, 18th Century-Style

Valentine’s Day, 18th Century-Style

Welcome to the weekend, 18th-centuryists! Do you find yourself swooning, and it’s not just from your corset? Do you feel like spending all day running through the meadows and reading love poems, just like Marianne Dashwood before a fall? Then you might be under the spell of Valentine’s Day.

Not sure who your valentine should be? Over at the John Hopkins University Press blog, Janine Barchas is celebrating with heartthrobs and pinup picks for Jane Austen’s characters.

In the 18th century, you could profess your love by pinning a slip of paper with your sweetheart’s name onto your clothes, leading to the idiom, “wear your heart on your sleeve.”

Of course, you could always get him or her a Founding Fathers valentine, from Publius Esquire:

Want to be a little more generous? Head over to Making History Now for an amazing 18th century-inspired Valentine’s gift guide. I would definitely commit improprieties if my boyfriend got me that Marquis de Lafayette necklace over shrub glass cocktails…

Regardless of how you celebrate or whom you celebrate with (or if you celebrate at all!), here are some sweet words from 1784 to wish you a happy weekend:

The rose is red, the violet’s blue
The honey’s sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

The Conscious Lovers and that guy in a trench coat in the corner

The Conscious Lovers and that guy in a trench coat in the corner

Richard Steele’s (do you think people ever called him “Dick”? Dick Steele? Just wondering) 1722 play basically inaugurating sentimental comedy as a self-consciously new major form and backlash against Restoration comedies. Perfectly benevolent characters, sententious dialogue, improbable happy ending (famous reunion between pathetic heroine and father). Kind of a yawn-fest if we’re being real here.

Except for this one guy. Cimberton. He’s Lucinda Sealand’s mother’s cousin (the mother wants Lucinda to marry him–she thinks he’s so intellectual), and basically a pedantic materialist creep who views Lucinda as livestock with a lot of money.

At first he doesn’t notice Lucinda at all, but when he does, he turns into an incredible lecher:

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