Victorian Valentine’s Day Verses for Rejecting Unwanted Suitors

If you are having trouble discouraging your admirers, help is on the way.

Mimi Matthews

The Two Central Figures in Derby Day by William Powell Frith, 1860.(Met Museum) The Two Central Figures in “Derby Day” by William Powell Frith, 1860.
(Met Museum)

Published in 1875, The Lover’s Poetic Companion and Valentine Writer is a book intended for Victorian ladies and gentlemen “who wish to address those they love in suitable terms.”  It contains a variety of Valentine verses, ranging from the sweet to the satirical.  The book promises that these “Love Lyrics” are harmless and that even the more comical lines do not descend into vulgarity.  But what these verses lack in vulgarity, they more than make up for in unkindness and—in some instances—outright cruelty.

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Charley’s Tale Part 29

“Cora, I don’t want to talk to my mother.  Call her and tell her to send that gal over with my girls.  I want to see how these outfits look. Tell her I don’t have all day.”

“Yes, ma’am.”  Cora ambled on downstairs.  They ain’t no way she’s gittin’ her claws in them babies.  She dialed directly into Charles’s office.  “Miss Ellen told me to have Josie bring the babies over right away.”

“Thanks for calling, Cora.  I’ll take care of it” Charles answered.

In about ten minutes Charles called Ellen. “Ellen Dear, Miss Geneva called me to check on the baby this morning.  I just ran by.  Ginny has a fever and may have chicken pox.  They can’t go out, but I can pick you up to visit them if you want.”

“No!  I don’t want to get exposed to chicken pox.  My face might scar, besides, I’m not speaking to Mother.  Do you think the baby’s face will scar?”

“Young children don’t usually scar.  It’s adults who have to worry.  Your mother didn’t know if you’d had chicken pox.  Do you remember?”  He had certainly struck the right chord with her.

“No, and I don’t want it.  The dresses will have to wait a few days,”  she told him.

“Whatever you think, Dear.  I’ll be home around six.”  Charles had scared her off for now.

After the call from Charles, Cora overheard Ellen calling her friend Sarah Marshall.  Of course, Cora couldn’t hear Sarah’s replies, but it was clear Ellen made opportunities to point out all the ways she felt superior to Sarah.

“Sarah, I’ve decided to invite a few more friends to tea. There’s no point in going to all that trouble for just you.  I’m feeling great. I have a new hairdo I’m dying to show off.  I never realized how smart I’d look with short hair.  If you didn’t have such a round face, you might want to try it.  Of course, my hair curls naturally.  You’d have to get a permanent wave, and those just fry hair.  That certainly wouldn’t make you look any better.  I guess I’m just one of those lucky women who doesn’t show her age.  Charles still thinks I am a bride.  If we didn’t sleep in separate rooms, I’d never get any rest.

You know my Cousin Jean died.  I was always her favorite.  I’ll be inheriting her farm and her family home in Jasper.  She was from a prominent and very wealthy.  She rarely used her lake home in Jasper, but kept it in lovely condition.  I’ll be sure to invite you when we have a country weekend.  Got to go.  I have a lot more calls to make.”

Ellen had never spoken directly to Cora about the tea, but clearly expected her to be ready.   I am so glad I ain’t got no friend like her.  Woo, Lordy, that’d be rough!