In 1797, a British publisher printed The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which suggested sentimental verses for wooing the ladies. Need similar inspiration this Valentine’s Day? Here are a few swoon-inducing quotes from love letters of the past, and where you can read the rest.
Revolutionary War Gen. Nathanael Greene to his wife, Catharine
“There is not a day or night, nay not an hour, but I wish to fold you to my heart.”
I couldn’t find the full letter online, but you can read more about the correspondence of this couple and their contemporaries in Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts.
Poet Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning, Jan. 10, 1846
“It seems to me, to myself, that no man was ever before to any woman what you are to me.”
Samual Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) to Olivia Langdon, Dec. 31, 1868, transcribed at the Mark Twain Project Online
“The Old Year is passing. … It found me careless of the here & the [hereafter]—it leaves me with faith in the one & hope for the [other. It] found [me. my ] heart scorched, bitter, barren, loveless—& leaves it filled with softening, humanizing, elevating love for the dearest girl on earth, Livy—& I, the homeless then, have on this last day of the [die dying] year, a home that is [pre priceless], a refuge from all the cares & ills of life, in that warm heart of yours, & am supremely happy! And so with grateful benediction I give [Godspeed] to this good Old Year that is passing away. If I forget all else it has done for me I shall still remember that it gave me your love, Livy, …”
Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah, July 14, 1861, a week before he was killed in the Battle of Bull Run (this letter was made famous in Ken Burns’ documentary “The Civil War“)
“… something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. … How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness …”
Harry Truman to his wife, Bess, May 7, 1933
“I still believe that my sweetheart is the ideal woman…”