The Language of Flowers

“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” [Mr. Knightley] soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Emma, Jane Austen

Undoubtedly countless gentlemen found themselves identical to Mr. Knightley’s distress. What Victorians held in their hearts was not always so easily expressed. Even so, sweet sentiments were not to be neglected.

Etiquette hardly made allowances for improper introductions—let alone grand gestures.

That is how the language of of flowers (floriography) came into being. Feelings that could not be spoken or proclaimed publicly could instead be expressed through blooms.

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White House Romances

It was a night of yes.

Yes to the White House masquerade. Yes to a private tour by President John Tyler himself. Yes to hearing the soft strings and lull of party conversation as they ventured further into the candlelit corridors.

It was a night of yes for Julia Gardiner until it wasn’t at all.

“No!” She couldn’t possibly have heard him right. President Tyler shouldn’t have— wouldn’t have asked for her hand in marriage. “No.”

A forceful shake of her head caused the tassel of her hat to slap him. “No.”

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Paper Hearts: Victorian Courtship Correspondence

Victorians engaged in long distance relationships—especially when both parties were present in the same room. The hustle and bustle of courtship etiquette was truly more hampering than a crinoline!

With such limitations, it comes as no surprise that couples resorted to delivering flirtations by postage stamps, fans, and flowers.

Thankfully, love letters preserved a myriad romances like Mark Twain’s. . .

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Tender Victorian Love Stories

Perhaps if there is one Victorian love story that comes to mind, it is that of its namesake.

Young Victoria truly succeeded in ruling her people once Prince Albert became her consort. With his partnership, Victoria came to trust her instincts over the flawed advice from Lord Melbourne. Together, the royal couple held each other’s hearts, and their English subjects’.

Testimonies, letters, and the monarch’s diary document their affection from courtship to Albert’s death. But they weren’t the only Victorians to marry happily.

Even the queen herself is speculated to have found love again.

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Hanky History

coy-hanky-photo

We have all heard the old adage, “Ladies don’t sweat, they glisten.” Well, the dog days of summer are upon us, and glistening has become routine. A handkerchief, that most basic of accessories, has long served the purpose of dabbing a dampened brow. But the full span of its historical significance bears examination. Continue reading “Hanky History”

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