Tuesday, February 14, 2006


"'Omnia uincit Amor: et nos cedamus Amori.'"

From Virgil's Eclogues, translated thusly by David Ferry: "'Love conquers all, and all must yield to love.'"

I've returned to Samuel Pepys, after a long hiatus, and am particularly taken with how Valentines were treated in his day. Apparently names were drawn among friends, and the name one drew became one's Valentine for the coming year, a person on whom to bestow small gifts of affection (gloves, lace, an embrace) from time to time. Pepys wasn't always pleased with his Valentines, either, but graciously bowed to tradition in public, only to vent about it in his diary. A man after my own heart.

Speaking of hearts, here is yet another book from the shelves of my book-room at home:

The author, Carolyn Wells, was well-known for her poetry and satire, and this lovely little book dates from 1912 (Stokes Company). The endpapers are maps for this imaginary travel guide through the land of love; place names include Elysian Fields, Fools Paradise, the River Lethe, Twolip Court, the Hearticultural Gardens, the Course of True Love, Primrose Path, Great Joy Street, and, of course, Lover's Lane. Illustrations (including the fine cover) by A.D. Blashfield.

Advice for the traveler entering Arcady, at the Custom House:

"Hearts... are dutiable articles, and should be declared as such.

Worn on the sleeve, they are easily examined by the Inspector, though a dishonest smuggler has sometimes gone ashore with his heart in his boots.

Hearts are appraised by weight, so heavy hearts should be avoided and light hearts should be carried whenever possible.

Broken hearts are not dutiable, unless they have been repaired and are quite as good as new.

Stolen hearts may be confiscated by the Customs Inspectors and returned to their original owners. Stony hearts are exempt.

Passions should always be declared." (pp.24-26)

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