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“Well now, this is capital "exclaimed the laughing lass. “After such a Valentine, you must take the hint, my dear sir: it's really a shame that so good-natured a man should remain a bachelor. I recollect, that when I could only just run about, }. used to be so kind to me; besides, ow you dandled and played with me! and since then, how you have read to me and instructed me till I grew up ! Such a man is the very man to be married: you are every way domestic, and it's settled; you must get married.”—“Well, then, will you have me?” he inquired, with a cheerful laugh. “I have you? No! Why, you are too old; but not too old to find a wife: there are many ladies whom we know, of your age, wholly disengaged; but you 3. P. them any particular attention.” Her father interposed; and the gentleman she addressed playfully said, “It is a little hard, indeed, that I should have these fine compliments and severe reproaches at the same time: however,” taking her by the hand, “you will understand, that it is possible I may have paid particular attention to a lady at an age when the affections are warmer; I did; and I reconciled myself to rejection by courting my books and the pleasures of solitude—
Hast thou been ever wakiu From slumbers soft and light,
And heard sweet music breaking The stillness of the night;
When all thy soul was blending
And night her silence lending
Then on a sudden pausing,
The origin of so pleasant a day, the first pleasant day in the year, whether its season be regarded, or the mode of its celebration, requires some little investigation; nor must some of its past and present usages be unrecorded here.
St. Valentine's Morning.
Hark! through the sacred silence of the night
Hailing with song the first pale gleam of light
Attend we upon ELIA. Hark, how triumphantly that noble herald of, the college of kindness proclaims the day!
“Hail to thy returning festival, old Bishop Valentine! Great is thy name in the rubric, thou venerable arch-flamen of Hymen! Immortal Go-between! who and what manner of person art thou?. Art thou but a name, typifying the restless principle which impels poor humans to seek perfection in union 2 or wert thou indeed a mortal prelate, with thy tippet and thyrochet, thy apron on, and decent lawn siecwes? Mysterious personage! like unto thee, assuredly, there is no other mitred father in the calendar.<-Thou comest attended with thousands and ten thousands of little Loves, and the air is
Brush'd with the hiss of rustling wings;
singing Cupids are thy choristers, and thy precentors; and instead of the crosier. the mystical arrow is borne before thee. “In other words, this is the day on which those charming little missives, ycleped Valentines, cross and intercross each other at every street and turning. The weary and all for-spent twopenny postman sinks beneath a load of delicate embarrassments, not his own. It is scarcely credible to what an extent this ephemeral courtship is carried on in this loving town, to the great enrichment of porters, and detriment of knockers and bell-wires. In these little visual interpretations, no emblem is so common as the heart, that little three-cornered exporent of all our hopes and fears, the bestuck and bleeding heart; it is twisted and tortured into more allegories and affectations than an opera-hat. What authority we have in history or mythology for placing the head-quarters and metropolis of god Cupid in this anatomical seat rather than in any other, is not very clear; out we have got it, and it will serve as well as any other thing. Else we might easily imagine, upon some other system which might have prevailed for any thing which our pathology knows to the contrary, a lover addressing his mistress, in
perfect simplicity of feeling, “Madam, my liver and fortune are entirely at your disposal; or putting a delicate question, “Amanda, have you a midriff to bestow?" But custom has settled these things, and awarded the seat of sentiment to the aforesaid triangle, while its less fortunate neighbours wait at animal and anatomical distance.
“Not many sounds in life, and I include all urban and all rural sounds, exceed in interest a knock at the door. It ‘gives a very echo to the throne where Hope is seated.' But its issues seldom answer to this oracle within. It is so seldom that just the person we want to see comes. But of all the clamorous visitations, the welcomest in expectation is the sound that ushers in, or seems to usher in, a Valentine. As the raven himself was hoarse that announced the fatal entrance of Duncan, so the knock of the postman on this day is light, airy, confident, and befitting one that “bringeth good tidings.’ It is less mechanical than on other days; you will say, ‘That is not the post, I am sure.’ Visions of Love, of Cupids, of Hymens, and all those dehightful, eternal common-places, which ‘having been, will always be;’ which no schoolboy nor schoolman can write away; having their irreversible throne in the fancy and affections; what are your transports, when the happy maiden, opening with careful finger, careful not to break the emblematic seal, bursts upon the sight of some well-designed allegory, some type, some youthful fancy, not without verses—
or some such device, not over abundant in sense—young Love disclaims it, and not quite silly—something between wind and water, a chorus where the sheep might almost join the shepherd, as they did, or as I apprehend they did, in Arcadia.
“All Valentines are not foolish, and I shall not easily forget thine, my kind friend (if I may have leave to call you so) E. B.-E. B. lived opposite a young maiden, whom he had often seen, unseen, from his parlour window in C–e-street. She was all joyousness and innocence, and just of an age to enjoy receiving a Valentine, and just of a temper to beat the disappointment of missing one with good humour. E. B. is an artist of no common powers; in the fancy parts of designing, perhaps inferior to none; his name is known at the bottom of many a well-executed vignette in the way of his profession, but no further; for E. B. is modest, and the world meets nobody half-way. E. B. meditated how he could repay this young maiden for many a favour which she had done him unknown; for, when a kindly face greets us, though but passing by, and never , knows us again, nor we it, we should feel it as an obligation; and E. B. did. This good artist set himself at work to please the damsel. It was just before Valentine's day three years since. He wrought unseen, and unsuspected, a wondrous work. We need not say it was on the finest gilt paper with borders—full, not of common hearts and heartless allegory, but all the prettiest stories of love from Ovid, and older poets than Ovid (for E. B. is a scholar.) There was Pyramus and Thisbe, and be sure Dido was not forgot, nor Hero and Leander, and swans more than sang in Cayster, with mottoes and fanciful devices, such as beseemed, a work in short of magic. Iris dipt the woof. This on Valentine's eve he commended to the all-swallowing indiscriminate orifice—(O, ignoble trusts)—of the common post; but the humble medium did its duty, and from his watchful stand, the next morning, he saw the cheerful messenger knock, and by and by the precious charge delivered. He saw, unseen, the happy girl unfold the Valentine, dance about, clap her hands, as one after one the pretty emblems unfolded themselves. She danced about, not with light love, or foolish expectations, for she had no lover; or, if she had, none she knew that could have created those bright images which delighted her. It was more like some fairy present; a God-send, as our familiarly pious ancestors termed a benefit received, where the benefactor was unknown. It would do her no harm. It would do her good for ever after. It is good to love the unknown. I only give this as a specimen of E. B., and his modest way of doing a concealed kindness.
“Good morrow to my Valentine, sings poor Ophelia; and no better wish, but with better auspices, we wish to all faithful lovers, who are not too wise to despise old legends, but are content to rank themselves humble diocesans with old Bishop Valentine, and his true church.”
Mr. Douce, whose attainments include more erudition concerning the origin and progress of English customs than any other antiquarian possesses, must be referred to upon this occasion. He observes, in his “ Illustrations of Shakspeare,” concerning St. Valentine's day, that “it was the practice in ancient Rome, during a great part of the month of February, to celebrate the Lupercalia, which were feasts in honour of Pan and Juno, whence the latter deity was named Februata, Februalis, and Februlla. On this occasion, amidst a variety of ceremonies, the names of young women were put into a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. The pastors of the early christian church, who by every possible means endeavoured to eradicate the vestiges of pagan superstitions, and chiefly by some commutations of their forms, substituted, in the present instance, the names of particular saints instead of those of the women, and as the festival of the Lupercalia had commenced about the middle of February, they appear to have chosen St. Valentine's day for celebrating the new feast, because it occurred nearly at the same time. This is, in to the opinion of a learned and rational compiler of the “Lives of the Saints,' the Rev. Alban Butler. It should seem, however, that it was utterly impossible to extirpate altogether any ceremony to which the common people had been much accustomed : a fact which it were easy to prove in tracing the origin of various other popular superstitions. And accordingly d. outline of the ancient ceremonies was preserved, but modified by some adaptation to the christian system. It is reasonable to suppose that the above practice of choosing mates would gradually become reciprocal in the sexes; and that all persons so chosen would be called Valentines, from the day on which the ceremony took place.”
Leaving intermediary facts to the curious inquirer, we come immediately to a few circumstances and sayings from grave authors and gay poets respecting