It was mailed in
in 1848, folded into its own envelope
and sealed with orange wax; the recipient, Roxanna Adams Wilder, was my
great-great grandmother—she was sixteen years old in 1848. Boston
We have no idea who sent it. It’s not signed, not anywhere—and we’ve looked, believe me! We’ve always assumed it was her future husband, Lucius Henry Sabin, but we’re not at all sure of that.
The calligraphy is astounding; just look at that initial capital W:
Within this heart dear Valentine
Resides a lady fair,
And if you’ll raise its coverlet
You’ll find that lady there.
And should you wish to know for whom
That pictured form is meant,
For that fair maiden I reply
To whom these lines are sent.
The man looks a bit like Edgar Allen Poe, I think. I’ve seen photographs of Lucius, and he doesn’t look a bit like Edgar Allen, but it may not mean anything. I love the details – the sealed envelope on the table, the inkwell with quill; the Cupid-looking creature in the painting behind the red drapery.
And the border! Gold and red and green; painstaking work here, what with all the roses and the doves, the human figures and all that.
The heart, poking out of the man’s waistcoat, is pasted on the back of the page – whoever it was cut out a section of the man, slipped the heart in, then pasted the whole thing over.
All that work?
Boy, if that ain’t love, baby...
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all – from one hundred sixty-seven years ago!