By Janice Schulz
In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, the Archives & Rare Books Library is highlighting some of our holdings related to love, romance, and marriage. Like the course of romance itself, our material can run the gamut from wonderful, to bittersweet, to downright tragic.
Their Wedding Journey, written by William Dean Howells in 1871, chronicles the expedition of newlyweds Basil and Isabel March, a European couple taking their honeymoon in North America. The March’s are beyond the “standard,” age of newlyweds, having had some fits and starts in their relationship before finally tying the knot, and as such, they wish to behave with a bit more maturity than the average honeymooners. Disembarking in Boston (where, on a local note, conversation from the ticket counter leads them to believe that “it is easy enough to buy a ticket in Cincinnati, but it is somewhat harder to arrive there”) their plans take them through New York, to Niagara, Montreal, and finally Quebec. The story is one of a truly contented couple. Upon arriving home, “Their holiday was over to be sure, but their bliss had but begun; they had entered upon that long life of holidays which is happy marriage.” The book is available in the ARB Rare Books collection, cataloged as PS2025 .T58 1871.
In the classic and beloved song Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair, composer Stephen Foster extols the virtues of his beloved Jeanie, imagining her “tripping where the bright streams play, happy as the daisies that dance on her way.” Longingly he hears “her melodies, like joys gone by” But finally he laments that “her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown, flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone.” It has been suggested that Foster wrote Jeanie with his estranged wife Jane in mind.
Foster’s Molly Do You Love Meoffers a bit more hope as Molly’s prospective suitor repeatedly inquires, “Molly! do you love me? Tell me, tell me true! Molly! do you love me, Love as I love you?” Molly is described as a “morning beam,”
and her ringlets, eyes of blue, musical voice, and merry dimples provide every kind of enchantment to her captivated admirer. But alas, as the song ends we, like this love struck gentleman, are no closer to an answer to the question, “Molly Do You Love Me?”
These and more of Foster’s love songs can be found in our Stephen Foster Collection. The collection has been cataloged and is available in UCLID.
A Sad, Sad Honeymoon, published in 1899, tells two stories of love gone wrong. In the first, newlyweds George and Genie Gardiner have the terrible misfortune to stop in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on the very day in 1889 when a dam holding back the Conemaugh River breaks, unleashing its fury on the city. The “Dying Diary” of the couple, found floating in a wooden box in the waters of Pittsburgh, tells of their last tragic days. First written by Mr. Gardiner, then after his death continued by Mrs. Gardiner, the diary chronicles three days of heartbreak as they struggle to survive the disaster. Before dying, Genie Gardiner writes, “Bury George and me in one grave… Above all things do not take my wedding ring off, but please bury me with it.”
In the second story, Philadelphian Mary Lesley marries English gentleman Mr. Gordon, only to be neglected, imprisoned, and abused by her new husband before she is finally rescued by police from Scotland Yard. Mary is returned to her parents in America while Gordon is pursued and eventually found in Manitoba, where he ends his own life. The book is available in the ARB Rare Books collection, cataloged as PS648.W6 S22 1889
Here are some other books on the subjects of love and romance:
Celtic and mediæval romance by Alfred Nutt
ARB Rare Books PB1097 .N88 1899
Essays on chivalry, romance, and the drama by Sir Walter Scott
ARB Rare Books PR5301 .E34 1834-36 v.6
A treatise of romances and their original by Monsieur Huet.
Translated from French
ARB Rare Books PN3329 .H75 1672
The spirit of romance; an attempt to define somewhat the charm of the pre-renaissance literature of Latin Europe by Ezra Pound
ARB Rare Books PN681 .P6
Early English prose romances, with bibliographical and historical introductions edited by William J. Thoms, F. S. A
ARB Rare Books PR2115 .T5 1858 in 3 volumes
Love’s bitter-sweet: translations from the Irish poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Robin Flower
ARB Rare Books PB1424 .F5 1925
A correspondence between Charles M. Titus of Hackettstown, N.J. and Rosanna Mintzer of Philadelphia, Pa by Charles M. Titus
ARB Rare Books PS673.L7 T5
Paneros; some words on aphrodisiacs and the like by Norman Douglas
ARB Rare Books HQ12 .D6 1931
The inconstant mistris by Thomas Carew
ARB Rare Books PR3339.C2 I5 1948
Nuptial dialogues and debates: or, An useful prospect of the felicities and discomforts of a marry’d life, incident to all degrees, from the throne to the cottage … by Edward Ward
ARB Rare Books PR3757.W8 N8 1723 in 2 volumes