The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

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Holy Martyr Saint Valentina of Caesarea

Note: This post is unlike any other on this blog. Because of my dear grandmother’s steadfast dedication to studying the Eastern Orthodox saints, I have delved into these studies, as well. These studies will not be regularly posted on this blog. This post is purely for research purposes.

Today we commemorate the Holy Martyr Saint Valentina of Caesarea, Palestine.  According to Eusebius of Caesarea in “The History of the Martyrs in Palestine, Saint Valentina was condemned in 308 AD by the governor of Palestine for her strong faith in the Lord, as well as for rising to the defense of her sister, Thea, who was tortured and convicted for her faith and defiance against the Egyptian emperor. Notably, although “small indeed in person,” Valentina was “courageous in soul.” When accosted after speaking out against the torture being inflicted upon her sister, Valentina boldly kicked an altar containing sacrifices, which overturned, consequently scattering fire from the altar upon the ground. Because of her rebellious actions, Valentina was persecuted, and subsequently both Thea and Valentina were tortured and bound together, sentenced to death by fire, for their acts of resilience and for testifying the name of Jesus Christ.

 

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This is my own icon of Saint Valentina. Many thanks to David of Russian Icons online for posting an incredibly helpful guide on translating Vyaz’ Church Slavic calligraphy. Without his post, I would not know the subject of this icon. I was unable to find an icon of Saint Valentina like this one online, which is why I’m posting it here. Please feel free to use it as needed. 

 

 

Concerning Bookplates

When browsing through used books, undoubtedly one will come across a name of ownership and/or inscription, along with a date and, if gifted, “To:— From:—.” Many of these are of interest to both collectors and casual readers, as they offer a personal glimpse into the previous owner’s life. However, the art of inscribing in books is, of course, not new to today’s modern readership, and in fact was more elaborate in past centuries.

Bookplates, or ex-libris, were especially common during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. These displayed a pictorial representation of ownership, sometimes marking heraldry, sometimes portraying the owner themselves. These pictures were paired with either a name, an inscription, or both. Inscriptions were commonly phrases, such as family mottos, or general statements (for example, an insert statement may say something along the lines of “don’t steal my book”). According to King’s College, Cambridge online, simple bookplates date back to the Middle Ages, with the earliest known printed bookplates dating to the 15th century. The Jacobean period to Edwardian era saw a shift in elaborating these bookplates, incorporating “engravings and etchings known as ex-libris (‘from the books of…’)” into the plates.

Over the span of several centuries, numerous styles emerged. For example, and according to the Bookplate Societywhich also provides a comprehensive list of all of the British styles, along with detailed written and pictorial descriptions of each type, Heraldic bookplates dated from 1580-1680; Early Armorial bookplates dated from 1680-1715; Jacobean Armorial dated from 1715-1745; Chippendale Armorial plates dated from 1740-1770; Festoon, Wreath and Ribbon, and Spade Shield Armorial plates dated from 1770-1810; Landscape and Pictorial dated from 1780-1820; and Plain Armorial dated from 1800-1900. To view examples of famous bookplates, both American and European, dating from the 18th-20th centuries, you can click here.

Because of the artistic and historic value of each unique plate, these have become collectible and highly valued today.  As mentioned, there is great artistic value in these unique items; so great was the artistic value, that creating bookplates was a profession for some artists. For example, even a quick glimpse through A Directory of Bookplate Artists edited by Alfred Fowler from 1919 will imply the desire, or at least the high competition, of bookplate artists. You can even still contact modern bookplate artists to commission your own, unique plate.

To learn more about bookplates and to view other examples of bookplates throughout history, you can visit the Bookplate Society and the American Society of Bookplate Collectors & DesignersTo read more about American bookplates specifically, I recommend American book-plates, a guide to their study with examples by Charles Dexter Allen.

All in all, the next time you come across an antique book, be sure to give the plate a second glance—you never know the story it will tell. Below, you will find a couple from my own collection that tell their own stories. Note: these are posted only for educational purposes.

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This plate comes from the collection of Robert Apthorp Boit, author of Eustis: A Novel. The plate dons the “ex-libris” statement, and the artist’s name, L. S. Ipsen, can be found in the bottom right corner of the plate. Because Boit lived from 1846-1919, this clue gives me reason to, naturally, believe it dates to the late 19th century, early 20th century. Do you have any ideas of its specific plate period? Please feel free to comment below!

 

 

FullSizeRender-1This plate comes from William Herbert, Dean of Manchester. (See this similar one from Yale.) The artist is identified as Cole, although I am unsure as to whom this artist may be. It bears the Carnarvon motto, “Ung je serviray” (“I will serve but one master”), and represents the Carnarvon crest. Because of the Rococo-esque style of this plate, I deduce it is of the Chippendale Armorial period. Although Herbert was born in 1778, eight years after the end of this period, it likens most to this style, and is unlike the Festoon, Wreath and Ribbon, or Spade Shield Armorial styles. Again, what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

“The Flower Manual” by Thomas King

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From Godey’s Lady’s Book, July, 1849

In this post I wish to share a delightful list of clever puns, found in the July, 1849 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book. In his article, the author humorously attaches various flowerswith their “intended” recipient. I’ll leave it at that. 

The Flower Manual
Thomas King

The following directions for the appropriate distribution of flowers are ingenious and amusing. We are much obliged to the gentleman who suggested the plan, and hope he will receive, from the friends of the Lady’s Book, plenty of “Forget-me-nots.”

I would give—
To Heroes, “Laurels.”
To the Cruel, “Barberry.”
To the Wounded, “Balsam.”
To the Afflicted, “Heart’s Ease.”
To the Persecuted, “Balm of Gilead.”
The Housewives, “Thrift.”
To Murderers, “Devil in a Bush.”
To Banditti, “Deadly Night Shade.”
To Victoria, A “Crown Imperial.”
To the Grand Seignor, A “Turk’s Cap.”
To Priests, A “Monk’s Head.”
To the Lady Mayoress, “London Pride.”
To the Chancellor of Exchequer, “Penny Royal.”
To those who love kissing, “Tulips.”
To Lawyers, “Honesty.”
To Ploughmen, “Milk Maids.”
To the Lassies, “Lad’s Love.”
To the Vain, “Coxcombs.”
To the Malicious, “Black Hellebore.”
To the Restless, “Poppies.”
To your wife, “Yew.”
To Eliza, “Sweet William.”
To Broadway Beaux, “Painted Ladies.”
To Beauties, “Venus’s Looking Glass.”
To those who Sigh in Secret, “Love in a Mist.”
To little Girls, “Wax Work.”
To the Nervous, “Valerian.”
To Apothecaries, “Senna.”
To Perfumers, “Jasmines and Violets.”
To Writing Masters, “Jonquill.”
To the Low Spirited, “Lavender.”
To the Precise, “Primroses.”
To the Learned, “Sage.”
To the Wicked, “Rue.”
To Spinsters, “Bachelor’s Buttons.”
To the Frigid, “Snow Drop.”
To the Huntsman, “Larkspur.”
To the fair Recluse, “Lily of the Valley.”
To Tobacconists, “Virginia Stock.”
To Triflers, “Catch Fly.”
To the deserted Damsel, “Willow.”
To Peace Makers, “Everlasting.”
To Masons, “Stone Crop.”
To the Notable, “Thyme.”
To the Idle, “Birch.”
To my best Friend, “Forget-me-not.”

“Faith” by Alfred B. Street

FAITH.
Alfred B. Street
Found in The New-Yorker, July 4, 1840, Vol. IX, No. 16.

If that bright Faith, whose holy beam
The Future’s darkness turns to day,
Be but Delusion’s feverish dream,
Returning Reason sweeps away—
Oh, who could nerve against Despair!
Oh, who survive the loss of Bliss!
And, slave-like, still his burthen bear,
And toil on through a world like this?

Brow-furrowing Care, heart-breaking Grief,
The bitter tears that Anguish showers—
Oh, where from these is found relief—
Oh where, if that dark creed be ours?
Better at once to end our pain,
In the hushed grave our sorrows cast,
Than drag along Life’s galling chain,
And have no goal to reach at last.

But if that Faith which heavenward glows
Sheds in my heart its light sincere,
Then come, oh Earth! with all thy woes—
I care not for my sorrows here.
The soul within me cannot die;
‘T will soon from every pang be free;
Though chained by ‘mortal’ here, on high
‘T will dwell in ‘immortality.’

“Spring” by Nathaniel Parker Willis

Spring.
Nathaniel Parker Willis
From The Poems, Sacred, Passionate, and Humorous, of Nathaniel Parker Willis, 1849.

“L’onda del mar divisa
Baguna la valle e l’monte,
Va passegiera
In fiume,
Va prigionera
In fonte,
Mormora sempre e geme
Fin che non torna al mar.”
Metastasio.

The Spring is here—the delicate-footed May,
With its slight fingers full of leaves and flowers,
And with it comes a thirst to be away,
In lovelier scenes to pass these sweeter hours,
A feeling like the worm’s awakening wings,
Wild for companionship with swifter things.

We pass out from the city’s feverish hum,
To find refreshment in the silent woods;
And nature, that is beautiful and dumb,
Like a cool sleep upon the pulses broods—
Yet, even there, a restless thought will steal,
To teach the indolent heart it still must feel.

Strange, that the audible stillness of the noon,
The waters tripping with their silver feet,
The turning to the light of leaves in June,
And the light whisper as their edges meet—
Strange—that they fill not, with their tranquil tone,
The spirit, walking in their midst alone.

There’s no contentment in a world like this,
Save in forgetting the immortal dream;
We may not gaze upon the stars of bliss,
That through the cloud-rifts radiantly stream;
Bird-like, the prison’d soul will lift its eye
And pine till it is hooded from the sky.