Ah, Valentines Day. When roses are red, and Violets are…well…in the case of Violet Crawley (Dowager Countess of Grantham If You’re Nasty)…mean.

Here at Beekman 1802, we love our historical context. So in doing a little research on the history of Valentines Day, we learned that during the 1800’s, Valentines Day wasn’t just a bounty for florists and candy-makers. February was also a boon month for printers, publishers, and hack poets.  Every year several slim volumes of sample Valentines Day verses were published, to be utilized by those suitors and beloveds who might be a little poetically-challenged.

These minor tomes offered up examples of Valentine missives that were suitable for use on most any object of affection. There were poems appropriate to send to “One With Whom You Have Danced.” Or to a “Far Away Sweet.” There were Valentines crafted for specific professions as well. In love with a “Pastry Cook,” “Parish Clerk,” or a “Duck of a Curate” (whatever that is)? There were sample lyrics tailored for just your mooning and spooning needs.

These volumes weren’t just for admirers, however. They also offered up sample responses to be used by those being admired. While most of the responses to requests to “Be Mine” were crafted to answer in the affirmative, occasionally a suitor needed to be dismissed as well. And the best manner to do so in the 19th century, apparently, was adamantly and succinctly.

We found a wealth of hilariously mercenary verses in our research. And as we were reading through them, we kept hearing the voice of a particularly pithy and cutting 19th century teen girl: Violet Crawley. She may not have been a Dowager Countess yet, but we’re fairly certain her Valentines Day pen was as sharp as her tongue would one day become.

Below are a few of our favorite 19th Century satirical Valentines Day verses we stumbled across.

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A Response to Misplaced Affection from “Cupid’s Annual Charter; or, St. Valentine’s Festival” published in 1815:

Your Valentine, so full of flame,
I put into the fire;
Against your folly I exclaim,
Such nonsense all must tire.
As I had neither twine nor rope,
I could not send a line,
But if you wish to hang, I hope
You’ll buy one, Valentine.
But as you’re full of raging fire,
Water would better cool,
So take a leap off London Bridge,
And drown yourself poor fool.

 

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A Valentine “To a Fat Person” from “A Collection of New and Original Valentines, Serious and Satirical, Sublime and Ridiculous” published in 1858:

…Do be persuaded, unctuous one,
Take something to get thinner;
Or, better still, don’t take so much
When you sit down to dinner.

Your friends may term you “embonpoint,”
Or “stout” – that’s very fine:
You’re fat – uncommon – much too fat
To be my Valentine.

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A Valentine “To a Tall Thin Person” from “A Collection of New and Original Valentines, Serious and Satirical, Sublime and Ridiculous” published in 1858:

When first your tall, gaunt form I saw
With face like any mourner
I thought you were the shadow
Of some person round the corner.

If I am preying on your mind,
Dismiss, I pray, that matter;
The Valentine I choose will be
At least a trifle fatter.

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A Valentine for someone afflicted with bad breath, “LINES TO ACCOMPANY A TOOTH-BRUSH” from “A Collection of New and Original Valentines, Serious and Satirical, Sublime and Ridiculous” published in 1858:

Though silent this mute thing will speak
My sentiments. If not, still louder
My words upon your ear shall break,
While simply I suggest – tooth powder.

Just rinse your mouth out when you rise,
And use this votive gift of mine –
Some day or other, in my eyes,
You then may be a Valentine.

 

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Another Response to Misplaced Affection from “Cupid’s Annual Charter; or, St. Valentine’s Festival” published in 1815:

I once more tell you, foolish swain,
I don’t your suit approve,
With me you only lose your time,
And ne’er will win my love;
When you’re beneath the willow tree,
This plan I recommend,
Pray jump into the stream beneath,
And give your sorrows end.

xoxo,

Violet.

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

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marlene999

Loved this – especially how the looks on her face match the sentiments below! Thank you boys!

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Trina

“Dowager Countess of Grantham, if you’re nasty ”
Hahaha! Goodness, I needed that laugh today. I love and cherish Violet and love that you appreciate her special charm.

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Dianne Beach

Imagine my horror when reading comments from Violet’s Valentines and seeing Joy Woods telling everyone the end of Season 3. Thank you so much Joy. Those of us who are watching episode by episode are so happy that you “shared” that knowledge. Shame on you.

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Josh Kilmer-Purcell

We’re sorry Dianne. We should’ve caught that spoiler and edited it sooner. In these days of DVRs and internet feeds, we think sometimes folks forget about spoilers. We’re sure Joy didn’t mean to upset anyone. Again, apologies.

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bchhse

Thanks Josh. No need for you to apologize. I’m just a rabid fan who looks forward to every episode. I’m so glad you are now on the farm permanately with Brent. So happy for you both. I love everything Beekman. Say hello to Mary. xxoo

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suzanne

While I think these marvelous, I still prefer the love mantra I was raised on, by my mother of WWII vintage:

Let’s be gay while we may
And seize all love with laughter.
I’ll be true as long as you
And not one moment after!

It has worked well for hubby and I…just celebrated our 33rd anniversary!

Happy Valentine’s All!

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Teresa Jones

Polite jabs and to get the point accross fabulous. I must think up some of my own now before the 14th!!!

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Terry Bridges

For a long time I wanted to be your “Aunt Beah” but now I think Maggie Smith should be. Whoa, I didn’t intend that to rhyme. Drat!

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ConnieW.

Oooooo! Anyone who would have even tried to be Violet’s valentine had to be either very brave or very crazy! Sounds like the original DIVA. So much for sweet, demure little ladies of that era! Thanks for sharing those! Enjoyed it!

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Mary Feltman

Lordy mercy!! Such spit and vinegar they had! I could almost hear cats hissing in the background! Too funny!

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JOY WOOD

[Edited to remove spoiler] I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN, MY TWO FAV PEOPLE LOVE VIOLET AND DOWNTON ABBEY. ( I HAVE FRIENDS, STUPID ONES, WHO SAY,,,,, “DOWNTOWN” ABBEY. IT IS LIKE NAILS ON A CHALKBOARD. I LOVE THIS SHOW, AND YOU TWO. …. AND LADY SYBIL DYING IN CHILDBIRTH, BOO HISS. I AM GOING TO ORDER SOME THINGS FROM YOU TO CHEER MYSELF UP. ( NEVER END A SENTENCE IN A PREPOSITION, I HEAR THE NUNS SAYING) LOVE ALL THE PICS OF YOUR HOME, IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL,,, SUMMER WINTER SPRING OR FALL, JUST LIKE THE TWO OF YOU,,,, YEAH, JOSH AND BRENT. YOUR FAN, JOY WOOD.

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Jane Trafton

Spot on boys! Marvelous research and giving Violet a Valentine voice.

sandpiper/new hampshire

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suzanne spina

Wow, they really believed in telling us ” how they really feel” back in the day huh? No filter for those folks!

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Candace Punch

My favorite Valentine card, which I bought two of and sent to a bad beau said. On the front with a cartoon train engine and Engineer “The Valentine’s Express leaves promptly at 7 pm on Valentines day.: Open the card “Be under it!”

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Marie Chilcote

Interesting that you should feature Downton Abbey; another of my favorites. And I am almost a Valentine being born on Feb. 13th. I have received Valentine/birthday cards my whole life.

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Lisa

“Embonpoint.” Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day. Hmmm….I’m going to make it a point to use it in a sentence this week.

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Lena

If you love rarely used words, you might want to check out savethewords.org,
where you can adopt words falling out of use and pledge to use them regularly. My favorite is ‘prandicle’ which, if indulged over much, could definitely lead to ’embonpoint’.

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