Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Wonderful Horrible Letter


Somebody please buy this! One of the best pieces of ephemera I think I've ever seen on Ebay. So many questions left unanswered and yet, one feels that the lady to whom it was addressed probably had any questions she might have had well and truly answered.

As this is nothing more than a blatant advert for them I hope Mainstreet Books from Amherst, MA in the States won't mind my pinching some of their scan and their transcription of this amazing letter. You can buy it here. And the description/letter goes like this:

It is not signed or have the name of the woman it was intended for on it, at the top it is dated , Jan 4th, 1877 and has Guilford before the date. One can assume it originated in Guilford CT as it was purchased in New England.

From the letter:
Guilford Jan 4th, 1877

The great love I have hitherto expressed for you is false, and I find my indifference towards you increases daily. The more I see of you, the more you appear in my eyes an object of contempt. I feel myself every way disposed and determined to hate you. Believe me, I never had an intention to offer you my hand. Our last conversation has left a tedious insipidity, which has no means given the most exalted idea of your character, your temper would make me extremely unhappy; and if we are united I shall experience nothing but the hatred of my parents, added to everlasting displeasure in living with you. I have indeed a heart to bestow, but I do not desire you to imagine it at your service. I could not give to any one more inconsistent and capricious than your self and less capable to do honor to my choice and my family. Yes Miss. I hope you will be persuaded that I speak sincerely and you will do me a favor to avoid me. I shall excuse you taking the trouble to answer this. Your letters are always full of impertinence and you have not even a showdown of wit and good sense. Adieu, Adieu believe me so averse to you that it is impossible for me even to be your affectionate friend and humble servant.


6 comments:

Algabal said...

Oh, thank you so much for posting this! I'm happy to say I was the lucky person to purchase it. How happy that I can treasure this letter, without being the subject of its contents!

J said...

This is a trick letter. I don't know how it would work on this copy, but when it's folded a certain way (and all the excess verbiage concealed), the real message can be seen:

"The great love I have hitherto expressed for you / increases daily. The more I see of you, the more / I feel myself every way disposed and determined to / offer you my hand. Our last conversation has / given the most exalted idea of your character, / and if we are united I shall experience nothing but /pleasure in living with you. I have indeed a heart to bestow, / imagine it at your service. I could not give to any one more / capable to do honor to my choice and my family. Yes Miss. I hope you will be persuaded that I speak sincerely and you will do me a favor to / trouble to answer this. Your letters are always full of / wit and good sense. Adieu, Adieu believe me / to be your affectionate friend and humble servant."

John Hamilton said...

If you look at the photo on ebay, I think it's clear that there's no way of folding it to get any other message. Nah, I think it's a piece of genuine glorious hate mail. I particularly like "tedious insipidity". That showed her!

Callum said...

Algabal, I'm so glad you bought this, I think it deserves a good home, which I nearly gave it myself! As for the trick or not-trick, and I'm taking no sides... I think it would be a very cool thing whichever way it's supposed to be read, perhaps Algabal could report back when it arrives from the seller...

Glad it provoked some interest...

CJ

J said...

I took John's suggestion, and grabbed a copy of the scan from the eBay listing. I was mistaken--the trick is to read every other line. (If you print it out, and cross out the even lines of text, you will see what I mean. Note that "displeasure" is the *only* word that's hyphenated, while some lines are oddly short.) It's still a marvelous piece of wordplay...

John Hamilton said...

My goodness, you're absolutely right! It couldn't possibly be a coincidence; it has to be, as you say, a (very clever) trick letter.

 
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