From John Hennessy:
Pardon the momentary departure from our strictly Fredericksburg-area themes, but I think this little passage has especial relevance to today’s match.com-oriented society. It is proof that the penchant for improving oneself through false description is not new. It’s a little late for Valentine’s Day, but perhaps amusing for those of you for whom the day still glows.
This is a letter written by a Union Lieutenant (at least so he claims) in February 1864 to a woman who had responded to his “lonely hearts” ad published in a northern magazine or newspaper.
Before proceeding farther truth and candor compel me to acknowledge that a little desception was used in the advertisement in the “Waverly.” In other words my true description differs materially from the one therein set forth, and may not please you as well as the one “fancy painted,” but I thought it was all for fun, therefore funningly gave a fictitious description as well as cognomen. Be it known unto you then, this individual is twenty-nine years of age, five feet and eleven inches high, dark blue eyes, brown hair, and light (ruddy) complexion. There you have it. How do you like the descripion? Me thinks I hear you answer. I dont like it so well as the advertised description. Well! I’ll admit it is not quite so fascinating to a young lady as the fictitious one…
The original of this letter is in the special collections at Virginia Tech. You can find the entire letter here.
On a slightly different topic, all of us are a bit overawed with exhibit and other work at the moment, and so our attention to the blog has lagged a bit. We should be through the backlog soon enough and back to our customary rate of what we hope are interesting and useful posts.