[Editor: This article (including a poem), regarding Valentine’s Day, was published in the Morwell Advertiser (Morwell, Vic.), 21 February 1896.]
The old institution of St. Valentine’s day has, like various other imported traditions, fallen out of favor. Not many years ago the 14th February was celebrated by the community in such a manner that the labors of the Postal department were enormously increased in the transmission of valentines, but the custom of exchanging such compliments has now fixed itself on Christmas and the New Year, and St. Valentine’s day is almost forgotten.
At one time the shop windows for weeks before St. Valentine’s day were filled with valentines of all classes, from the artistic and expensive present, adapted to sentimental circumstances, down to the paper caricature printed in glaring colors, with which the fads of our friends might be mercilessly ridiculed. These are now only to be found in limited numbers, and their disappearance marks the decay of a practice which perhaps was never fully understood in this generation.
Another mode of observing this much neglected season has, however, taken place, for on 14th Feb., we were treated to the following effusion, evidently from a lady who resides in the delightful village of Narracan, but she was unfortunately oblivious to the fact that the recipient had a small wife and large family of his own, and could not therefore conveniently take another unto himself. This being the case he had very reluctantly to decline the offer and the resident of “Dove Cottage” must make a fresh proposal. The year is, however, young, so we wish her better luck and more reliable information in the future. The lines are undoubtedly meritorious, the metre being especially fine, and far above the efforts of the every-day provincial poet, so, in justice, we can only give them the space they deserve. They are as follows:—
Dearest Mr. G———
It is leap year,
So pray excuse the liberty I am taking.
I hope you will not refuse the offer I am making
Is it true you have made up your mind
To disregard the fair?
I hope you will not be so unkind,
And leave me in despair.
How can you lead the wretched life
A bachelor’s must be?
Oh pray take unto yourself a wife,
And let that wife be me.
But if this offer you reject,
The consequences must be,
A pair of gloves I shall expect
To be addressed to me.
If you do not mean to take a wife,
As I really think you ought to,
I hope there is no offence,
But the size is 6½.
Morwell Advertiser (Morwell, Vic.), 21 February 1896, p. 3
fair = “the fair sex”, i.e. females, women (in a collective sense); also phrased as “the fairer sex”
metre = the rhythmic arrangement or pattern of a poem, song, or piece of music (also spelt: meter)
St. = (abbreviation) Saint
valentine = a Valentine’s Day card; a greeting card, gift, message, or token (anonymous or signed) which expresses affection, attraction, or love, which is sent to a lover, sweetheart, or the object of one’s affection on the occasion of Saint Valentine’s Day (14th February); someone who is the recipient or sender of a Valentine’s Day card, gift, message, or token; one’s lover or sweetheart
[Editor: Inserted commas after “season has”, “taken place”, “14th Feb.”, “however, young”, “meritorious”, “provincial poet”, “provincial poet, so”, “in justice”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]