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My Dearest Friend

My Dearest Friend,

...should I draw you the picture of my heart it would be what I hope you would still love though it contained nothing new. The early possession you obtained there, and the absolute power you have obtained over it, leaves not the smallest space unoccupied.

I look back to the early days of our acquaintance and friendship as to the days of love and innocence, and, with an indescribable pleasure, I have seen near a score of years roll over our heads with an affection heightened and improved by time, nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my heart.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, her husband. He became the second president of the United States. Written December 23, 1782

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Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah


My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days -- perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure -- and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows -- when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children -- is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death -- and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but 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 battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours -- always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan


Sullivan Ballou wrote to his wife Sarah just one week before he and 27 of his close comrades and 4000 Americans in all would die in the battle at "First Manassas".

July the 14th, 1861

Washington D.C.

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My Dearest Husband

January 1, 1847

My Dearest Husband

...I was at that date of marriage a very different being from what I am now and stood in relation to my Heavenly Father in a very different attitude. My whole desire was to live in love, absorbing passionate devotion to one person. Our separation was my first trial -- but then came a note of comfort in the hope of being a mother. No creature ever so longed to see the face of a little one or had such a heart full of love to bestow. Here came in trial again sickness, pain, perplexity, constant discouragement -- wearing wasting days and nights -- a cross, deceitful, unprincipled nurse -- husband gone... When you came back you came only to increasing perplexities.

Ah, how little comfort I had in being a mother -- how was all that I proposed met and crossed and my may ever hedged up!

...In short, God would teach me that I should make no family be my chief good and portion and bitter as the lesson has been I thank Him for it from my very soul. One might naturally infer that from the union of two both morbidly sensitive and acute, yet in many respects exact opposites -- one hasty and impulsive -- the other sensitive and brooding -- one the very personification of exactness and routine and the other to whom everything of the kind was an irksome effort -- from all this what should one infer but some painful friction.

But all this would not after all have done so very much had not Providence as if intent to try us throws upon the heaviest external pressure... but still where you have failed your faults have been to me those of one beloved -- of the man who after all would be the choice of my heart still were I to choose -- for were I now free I should again love just as I did and again feel that I could give up all to and for you -- and if I do not love never can love again with the blind and unwise love with which I married I love quite as truly tho far more wisely...

In reflecting upon our future union -- our marriage -- the past obstacles to our happiness -- it seems to me that they are of two or three kinds. 1st those from physical causes both in you and in me -- such on your part as hypochondriac morbid instability for which the only remedy is physical care and attention to the laws of health -- and on my part an excess of sensitiveness and of confusion and want of control of mind and memory. This always increases on my part in proportion as a I blamed and found fault with and I hope will decrease with returning health. I hope that we shall both be impressed with a most solemn sense of the importance of a wise and constant attention to the laws of health.

Then in the second place the want of any definite plan of mutual watchfulness, with regard to each other's improvement, of a definite time and place for doing it with a firm determination to improve and be improved by each other -- to confess our faults one to another and pray one for another that we may be healed...

Yours with much love
H.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 - 1896) found immediate success and controversy with her first novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, written in 1852. Surviving that firestorm, she went on to publish eight more novels and dozens of short stories. She enjoyed a happy, albeit busy, home life with her husband, Calvin, and their six children. In this letter, written eleven years after their wedding, Stowe reflects on the joy and tribulations she shared with her husband.

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My angel

July 6, 1806

My angel, my all, my very self -- only a few words today and at that with your pencil -- not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon -- what a useless waste of time. Why this deep sorrow where necessity speaks -- can our love endure except through sacrifices -- except through not demanding everything -- can you change it that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine?

Oh, God! look out into the beauties of nature and comfort yourself with that which must be -- love demands everything and that very justly -- that it is with me so far as you are concerned, and you with
me. If we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I!

Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other; moreover, I cannot communicate to you the observations I have made during the last few days touching my own life -- if our hearts were always close together I would make none of the kind. My heart is full of many things to say to you - Ah! -- there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all -- cheer up -- remain my true, only treasure, my all as I am yours; the gods must send us the rest that which shall be best for us.

Your faithful,
Ludwig

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), one of history's most famous and mysterious composers died at the age of 57 with one great secret. Upon his death, a love letter was found among his possessions. It was written to an unknown woman who Beethoven simply called his *Immortal
Beloved.*

The world may never put a face with this mysterious woman or know the circumstances of their affair and his letters are all that is left of a love as intensely passionate as the music for which Beethoven became famous. Compositions such as the Moonlight Sonata as well as Beethoven's many symphonies express eloquently the tragedy of a
relationship never publicly realized.

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Eight days have passed

Venice October 18, 1503

Eight days have passed since I parted from f.f., and already it is as though I had been eight years away from her, although I can avow that not one hour has passed without her memory which has become such a close companion to my thoughts that now more than ever is it the food and sustenance of my soul; and if it should endure like this a few days more, as seems it must, I truly believe it will in every way have assumed the office of my soul, and I shall then live and thrive on the memory of her as do other men upon their souls, and I shall have no life but in this single thought.

Let the God who so decrees do as he will, so long as in exchange I may have as much a part of her as shall suffice to prove the gospel of our affinity is founded on true prophecy. Often I find myself recalling, and with what ease, certain words spoken to me, some on the balcony with the moon as witness, others at that window I shall always look upon so gladly, with all the many endearing and gracious acts I have seen my gentle lady perform--for all are dancing about my heart with a tenderness so wondrous that they inflame me with a strong desire to beg her to test the quality of my love.

For I shall never rest content until I am certain she knows what she is able to enact in me and how great and strong is the fire that her great worth has kindled in my breast. The flame of true love is a mighty force, and most of all when two equally matched wills in two exalted minds contend to see which loves the most, each striving to give yet more vital proof...

It would be the greatest delight for me to see just two lines in f.f.'s hand, yet I dare not ask so much. May your Ladyship beseech her to perform whatever you feel is best for me. With my heart I kiss your Ladyship's hand, since I cannot with my lips.

Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) was one of the most respected poets and scholars of his day. He was born into an aristocratic Venetian family, and had a brilliant career, achieving notable success in politics, the church, and the arts. This letter was written to Lucrezie Borgia who was the daughter of the Spanish cardinal, Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI.

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I wake filled with thoughts of you

Paris, December 1795

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.


In addition to being a brilliant military mind and feared ruler, Napolean Bonaparte (1763 - 1821) was a prolific writer of letters. He reportedly wrote as many as 75,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them to his beautiful wife, Josephine, both before and during their marriage. This letter, written just prior to their 1796 wedding, shows surprising tenderness and emotion from the future emperor.

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I love you no longer

Spring 1797

To Josephine,

I love you no longer; on the contrary, I detest you. you are a wretch, truly perverse, truly stupid, a real Cinderella. You never write to me at all, you do not love your husband; you know the pleasure that your letters give him yet you cannot even manage to write him half a dozen lines, dashed off in a moment! What then do you do all day, Madame? What business is so vital that it robs you of the time to write to your faithful lover? What attachment can be stifling and pushing aside the love, the tender and constant love which you promised him? Who can this wonderful new lover be who takes up your every moment, rules your days and prevents you from devoting your attention to your husband?

Beware, Josephine; one fine night the doors will be broken down and there I shall be. In truth, I am worried, my love, to have no news from you; write me a four page letter instantly made up from those delightful words which fill my heart with emotion and joy. I hope to hold you in my arms before long, when I shall lavish upon you a million kisses, burning as the equatorial sun.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was born in Corsica. He became an army officer in 1785, and after rapid promotion, took command of the army of the interior in 1795. After a coup in 1799, Napoleon became first consul, and in 1804 emperor. Between 1804 and 1810 he consolidated his empire in Europe. In 1814, following defeat in Russia, he abdicated and was banished to Elba. In 1815 he resumed power, but was crushed at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to St. Helena, where he died in 1821.

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Monsieur

January 8, 1845

Monsieur, the poor have not need of much to sustain them -- they ask only for the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table. But if they are refused the crumbs they die of hunger. Nor do I, either, need much affection from those I love. I should not know what to do with a friendship entire and complete - I am not used to it. But you showed me of yore a little interest, when I was your pupil in Brussels, and I hold on to the maintenance of that little interest -- I hold on to it as I would hold on to life.

This letter was written by Charlotte Bronte, English writer, to Professor Constantin Heger. There is no evidence that this love was ever returned by him.

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I have a thousand images of you

October 2, 1911

I have a thousand images of you in an hour; all different and all coming back to the same... And we love. And we've got the most amazing secrets and understandings. Noel, whom I love, who is so beautiful and wonderful. I think of you eating omlette on the ground. I think of you once against a sky line: and on the hill that Sunday morning.

And that night was wonderfullest of all. The light and the shadow and quietness and the rain and the wood. And you. You are so beautiful and wonderful that I daren't write to you... And kinder than God.
Your arms and lips and hair and shoulders and voice - you.

Rupert Brooke

Rupert, an English poet, wrote this love letter to Noel Olivier. He was killed in World War One.

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And now listen to me in turn

To Robert Browning:

And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me - my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything....

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
(1806-1861)

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The regard and esteem you now give me

To Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

...would I, if I could, supplant one of any of the affections that I know to have taken root in you - that great and solemn one, for instance. I feel that if I could get myself remade, as if turned to gold, I WOULD not even then desire to become more than the mere setting to that diamond you must always wear.

The regard and esteem you now give me, in this letter, and which I press to my heart and bow my head upon, is all I can take and all too embarrassing, using all my gratitude.

- Robert Browning
(1812-1889)

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If only I were a clever woman

Friday 8 p.m.

If only I were a clever woman, I could describe to you my gorgeous bird, how you unite in yourself the beauties of form, plumage, and song!

I would tell you that you are the greatest marvel of all ages, and I should only be speaking the simple truth. But to put all this into suitable words, my superb one, I should require a voice far more harmonious than that which is bestowed upon my species - for I am the humble owl that you mocked at only lately, therefore, it cannot be.

I will not tell you to what degree you are dazzling and to the birds of sweet song who, as you know, are none the less beautiful and appreciative.

I am content to delegate to them the duty of watching, listening and admiring, while to myself I reserve the right of loving; this may be less attractive to the ear, but it is sweeter far to the heart.

I love you, I love you. my Victor; I can not reiterate it too often; I can never express it as much as I feel it.

I recognise you in all the beauty that surrounds me in form, in colour, in perfume, in harmonious sound: all of these mean you to me. You are superior to all. I see and admire - you are all!

You are not only the solar spectrum with the seven luminous colours, but the sun himself, that illumines, warms, and revivifies! This is what you are, and I am the lowly woman that adores you.

Juliette

Juliette Drouet, French actress, to Victor Hugo, French writer, some time in 1835. She wrote passionate and lyrical love letters to Hugo for over 50 years.

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when you have told me to think of you

January 10, 1846

Do you know, when you have told me to think of you, I have been feeling ashamed of thinking of you so much, of thinking of only you--which is too much, perhaps. Shall I tell you? It seems to me, to myself, that no man was ever before to any woman what you are to me--the fulness must be in proportion, you know, to the vacancy...and only I know what was behind--the long wilderness without the blossoming rose...and the capacity for happiness, like a black gaping hole, before this silver flooding. Is it wonderful that I should stand as in a dream, and disbelieve--not you--but my own fate?

Was ever any one taken suddenly from a lampless dungeon and placed upon the pinnacle of a mountain, without the head turning round and the heart turning faint, as mine do? And you love me more, you say?--Shall I thank you or God? Both,--indeed--and there is no possible return from me to either of you! I thank you as the unworthy may.. and as we all thank God. How shall I ever prove what my heart is to you? How will you ever see it as I feel it? I ask myself in vain. Have so much faith in me, my only beloved, as to use me simply for your own advantage and happiness, and to your own ends without a thought of any others--that is all I could ask you without any disquiet as to the granting of it--May God bless you! -- Your B.A.

Elizabeth Moulton Barrett (1806-61) poet, was born near Durham, England, eldest of a family of 12 children, and grew up in the countryside. In 1838 the Barretts moved to 50 Wimpole Street, London. By the time Robert Browning began to correspond with her in 1845, she was an established poet. Four years after their runaway marriage, she wrote her most famous love poems, Sonnets from the Portuguese.

The couple settled in Florence, where their son, Robert Wiedemann Barrett (known as Pen for short), was born in 1849. Elizabeth was then 43. She had a huge popular success with Aurora Leigh (1857), a love story in verse. Her always delicate health gradually became worse; she died on June 29, 1861, and is buried in Florence.

Robert Browning (1812-89) a great Victorian poet, was born in London, the son of a clerk in the Bank of England, and educated by his father, who paid for the printing of his first poems. His early works, mostly verse plays, were little read and less understood. Men and Women (1855), his first collection of dramatic lyrics, sold few copies and the disappointed Browning abandoned writing to care for his adored wife. After her death he turn again to poetry; Dramatis Personae (1864) was a success and was followed by his greatest work, The Ring and the Book (1868-69), which established him as a literary giant, although his many succeeding books never sold as well as Elizabeth's. He died in Venice in the winter of 1889 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

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Robert Burdette minister to Clara Baker

April 25, 1898

And when I have reasoned it all out, and set metes and bounds for your love that it may not pass, lo, a letter from Clara, and in one sweet, ardent, pure, Edenic page, her love overrides my boudaries as the sea sweeps over rocks and sands alike, crushes my barriers into dust out of which they were builded, over whelms me with its beauty, bewilders me with its sweetness, charms me with its purity, and loses me in its great shoreless immensity.

Robert Burdette, minister, to Clara Baker. They were married the following year.

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My dearest Caroline

August 1812

My dearest Caroline,

If tears, which you saw & know I am not apt to shed, if the agitation in which I parted from you, agitation which you must have perceived through the whole of this most nervous nervous affair, did not commence till the moment of leaving you approached, if all that I have said & done, & am still but too ready to say & do, have not sufficiently proved what my real feelings are & must be ever towards you, my love, I have no other proof to offer.

God knows I wish you happy, & when I quit you, or rather when you from a sense of duty to your husband & mother quit me, you shall acknowledge the truth of what I again promise & vow, that no other in word or deed shall ever hold the place in my affection which is & shall be most sacred to you, till I am nothing.

I never knew till that moment, the madness of -- my dearest & most beloved friend -- I cannot express myself -- this is no time for words -- but I shall have a pride, a melancholy pleasure, in suffering what you yourself can hardly conceive -- for you don not know me. -- I am now about to go out with a heavy heart, because -- my appearing this Evening will stop any absurd story which the events of today might give rise to -- do you think now that I am cold & stern, & artful -- will even others think so, will your mother even -- that mother to whom we must indeed sacrifice much, more much more on my part, than she shall ever know or can imagine.

"Promises not to love you" ah Caroline it is past promising -- but shall attribute all concessions to the proper motive -- & never cease to feel all that you have already witnessed -- & more than can ever be known but to my own heart -- perhaps to yours -- May God protect forgive & bless you -- ever & even more than ever.

yr. most attached
BYRON

P.S. -- These taunts which have driven you to this -- my dearest Caroline -- were it not for your mother & the kindness of all your connections, is there anything on earth or heaven would have made me so happy as to have made you mine long ago? & not less now than then, but more than ever at this time -- you know I would with pleasure give up all here & all beyond the grave for you -- & in refraining from this -- must my motives be misunderstood --? I care not who knows this -- what use is made of it -- it is you & to you only that they owe yourself, I was and am yours, freely & most entirely, to obey, to honour, love --& fly with you when, where, & how you yourself might & may determine.

Lord Byron (1788 - 1824) was one of England's most notorious womanizers. A world-famous poet by the age of 24, he had a brief but extremely passionate affair with Lady Caroline Lamb. Pressured by Caroline's mother (who herself may have harbored affections for Byron), he used the opportunity to put an end to the relationship. In this letter, he explains his reasoning.

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My Heart

November 16, 1814

My Heart -

We are thus far separated - but after all one mile is as bad as a thousand - which is a great consolation to one who must travel six hundred before he meets you again. If it will give you any satisfaction - I am as comfortless as a pilgrim with peas in his shoes - and as cold as Charity - Chastity or any other Virtue.

Lord Byron, English poet, to Annabella Milbanke, his future wife.

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My dearest Teresa

25 August, 1819

My dearest Teresa,

I have read this book in your garden;--my love, you were absent, or else I could not have read it. It is a favourite book of yours, and the writer was a friend of mine. You will not understand these English words, and others will not understand them,--which is the reason I have not scrawled them in Italian. But you will recognize the handwriting of him who passionately loved you, and you will divine that, over a book which was yours, he could only think of love.

In that word, beautiful in all languages, but most so in yours--Amor mio--is comprised my existence here and hereafter. I feel I exist here, and I feel I shall exist hereafter,--to what purpose you will decide; my destiny rests with you, and you are a woman, eighteen years of age, and two out of a convent. I love you, and you love me,--at least, you say so, and act as if you did so, which last is a great consolation in all events.

But I more than love you, and cannot cease to love you. Think of me, sometimes, when the Alps and ocean divide us, --but they never will, unless you wish it.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

English Romantic poet and satirist, Byron was brought up in poverty in Scotland. At the age of 10 he inherited his great-uncle's title and property, and moved to Newstead Abbey, England. Byron was educated at Harrow and later Cambridge. Travels in Greece resulted in the sardonic poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. In January 1815 he married Annabella Milbanke, who bore him a daughter, Augusta, and then left him. During 1818-23, years spent with Teresa Guiccioli, he wrote three cantos of Don Juan, a satirical romance, the Prophecy of Dante, and four poetic dramas. Longing to help Greece obtain independence from Turkey, he joined their fight in December 1823, but died of fever on April 19, 1824. Refused burial in Westminster Abbey, he is buried with his ancestors near Newstead Abbey. Bologna,

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A real love letter

18th November 1912
33 Kensington Square


No more shams -- a real love letter this time -- then I can breathe freely, and perhaps who knows begin to sit up and get well --

I haven't said 'kiss me' because life is too short for the kiss my heart calls for... All your words are as idle wind -- Look into my eyes for two minutes without speaking if you dare! Where would be
your 54 years? and my grandmother's heart? and how many hours would you be late for dinner?

-- If you give me one kiss and you can only kiss me if I say 'kiss me' and I will never say 'kiss me' because I am a respectable widow and I wouldn't let any man kiss me unless I was sure of the wedding ring --

Stella
(Liza, I mean).

George Bernard Shaw, an Irish dramatist, and 'Stella' (Beatrice Campbell, English actress), corresponded for 40 years.

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You will be sorry

Christ Church, Oxford, October 28, 1876

My Dearest Gertrude:

You will be sorry, and surprised, and puzzled, to hear what a queer illness I have had ever since you went. I sent for the doctor, and said, "Give me some medicine. for I'm tired." He said, "Nonsense and stuff! You don't want medicine: go to bed!"

I said, "No; it isn't the sort of tiredness that wants bed. I'm tired in the face." He looked a little grave, and said, "Oh, it's your nose that's tired: a person often talks too much when he thinks he knows a
great deal." I said, "No, it isn't the nose. Perhaps it's the hair." Then he looked rather grave, and said, "Now I understand: you've been playing too many hairs on the pianoforte."

"No, indeed I haven't!" I said, "and it isn't exactly the hair: it's more about the nose and chin." Then he looked a good deal graver, and said, "Have you been walking much on your chin lately?" I said, "No." "Well!" he said, "it puzzles me very much.

Do you think it's in the lips?" "Of course!" I said. "That's exactly what it is!"

Then he looked very grave indeed, and said, "I think you must have been giving too many kisses." "Well," I said, "I did give one kiss to a baby child, a little friend of mine."

"Think again," he said; "are you sure it was only one?" I thought again, and said, "Perhaps it was eleven times." Then the doctor said, "You must not give her any more till your lips are quite rested
again." "But what am I to do?" I said, "because you see, I owe her a hundred and eighty-two more." Then he looked so grave that tears ran down his cheeks, and he said, "You may send them to her in a box."

Then I remembered a little box that I once bought at Dover, and thought I would someday give it to some little girl or other. So I have packed them all in it very carefully. Tell me if they come safe or if any are lost on the way."

Lewis Carroll

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My Lord and Dear Husband

1535

My Lord and Dear Husband,

I commend me unto you. The hour of my death draweth fast on, and my case being such, the tender love I owe you forceth me, with a few words, to put you in remembrance of the health and safeguard of your soul, which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and tendering of your own body, for the which you have cast me into many miseries and yourself into many cares.

For my part I do pardon you all, yea, I do wish and devoutly pray God that He will also pardon you.

For the rest I commend unto you Mary, our daughter, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage-portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants, I solicit a year's pay more than their due, lest they should be unprovided for.

Lastly, do I vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.

The Queen of England and mother to Queen Mary, Catherine of Aragon (1485 - 1536) is best known as the first of the many wives of Henry VIII. Though he divorced her in 1533, Catherine remained devoted to Henry until her death in 1536, as this letter shows.

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