>Review of So Faithful a Heart by K. Lynette Erwin

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So Faithful a Heart: The Love Story of Nancy Storace and Wolfgang Mozart
By K. Lynette Erwin

So Faithful a Heart: The Love Story of Nancy Storace and Wolfgang Mozart by K. Lynette Erwin skillfully draws the reader into the often mysterious and romanticized world of 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amade Mozart, and his operatic leading lady, Anna Storace. The story is told mostly from the point of view of Storace, called Nancy by her family and friends, as she works as an opera singer and actress under contract with Emperor Joseph. She is drawn into an intense, and sometimes tumultuous, affair with the married composer that leads to scandal, heartbreak, hope and explores how far soulmates are willing to go for one another.

Erwin’s masterful grasp on not only the lives and personalities of her characters but the atmosphere and intricacies of 18th century Austria immerses the reader in a world that engages and pulls at the heartstrings. Her ability to write a defined historical piece and still inject modern relevance into the characters and plot is sure to reach a wider audience than the average historical romance novel. The romance is realistic, as is the world of 18th century music and theater, and readers will easily find themselves rooting for Mozart and Storace to find peace and happiness against all the odds. Erwin manages to humanize the Herculaneum legend of Mozart and displays his flaws, humor, passion and genius with the vulnerability of a man struggling to cope with the mistakes in his life. Storace is a likable heroine with a healthy balance of fire and the demure expectations of women in her time. They make an unstopable pair.

Music and theater enthusiasts, history enthusiasts, romance readers, and Mozart and Storace fans will all greatly enjoy So Faithful a Heart.

Book website: http://www.allabreve.org/storace/book/

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>Married to a Victorian man: Part II

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>I pulled this blog from my old blog. It was originally posted on August 30, 2009.

Not everything was sweet and romantic, though. Lawrence had an intense dark side and I did too. No relationship is perfect, even if you are cut from the same cloth. We both suffered from bouts of depression throughout our lives before and after we were together, before depression as a concept was understood. I once wrote to him before we were married that I wished I had never been born, to which he replied to the effect of, “If you knew how much I loved you, you would never say that you wished you were never born.” I referenced “those morbid states of feeling” to which Lawrence “often fell” numerous times. We seemed to pull each other out of it when it was necessary but our frequent separations made it worse.

In today’s terms, he would have been considered a child raised by an abusive father. He was also extremely sheltered as a boy. His mother didn’t allow him to read any poetry, novels or anything that weren’t deeply religious in nature, so he wasn’t exposed to things like Lord Byron until he was in college. When he started college, he was socially awkward, he was very shy and he had a serious stuttering problem. It was a disability, despite his genius. To get over the stuttering, he began singing and went on to become a famous orator and a talented singer. His voice was a smooth baritone and music was how we bonded a lot. I was a professionally trained singer, musician and performer. He was self-taught but his raw talent allowed him to keep up with me. We spent a lot of time singing together, he played bass viol, I played piano, and the music allowed us a way to say things to each other that we couldn’t ordinarily say. In all of our differences, music was like speaking the same language.

The early signs of his dark side manifested as jealousy. He called jealousy his “demon” and it almost killed our relationship before it began. For him, seeing me was love at first sight. I had a reputation as a flirt and I floated around seeing several men at the same time. At one point, I was seeing both Lawrence and his college friend, Samuel. I had no intention of settling down with one man but Lawrence was so certain and so ardent in his love for me that seeing me around other men drove him crazy. I admit, some of it was intentional. I admired him and respected him so much that I couldn’t figure out how seeing me on the street with another man could make him so unglued. In times when we argued about other things, I made sure he saw me out with one of his friends just to prove my point that I was not going to be controlled and me deciding to see him was my choice and my choice alone. Early on, we could get so angry at each other about the stupidest things and then do things just to prove points to the other. We could have intense arguments, followed by intense making up. That was just part of the dynamic of our entire marriage, although his jealousy cooled after we started having children. Admittedly, I tortured him early on. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was trying to push him away or see how deep he really cared, if he would stand by me no matter what I did. He never gave up, even when the things I did made him write things like this:

I could not bear to come away from you tonight and not have you speak to me … not to the silly clown that I seem, but to the heart dark and dead within me. It cannot be dead for it would be still and there is no rest for it now. What am I living for and what am I doing. Will I not be driven mad. I turned away before you should see my tears, for I am sick of weak tears and I could not stay for it would trouble you. Is it enough that I am full of such furious agonies, that I can only smile like a driveling idiot, to save myself from being a maniac. I am tempted and tormented by the old adversary, clutching at my heart and torturing it, murdering it and glorying over it with a devilish grimace. Why do I have a super natural impulse to read the minutest action and word, and contend with most powerful imaginings of my own fancy. I see with grief how you have to sacrifice to my unreasonable demands and I see how you try to be too cheerful in company when I am looking at you. Try not to satisfy me, for I am all unreasonable, but I require of you all that I would give you and can give you myself, and thank heavens, you do not know how much that is. I do not want you to try, for I do not have to try, for I feel always and everywhere the same to you. I am ready to show you how tenderly I care for you, but I know you would not like that, and you are right. Believing you do not understand me is the most charitable belief I can have, and I cling to the hope that at some time you will see but one single glimpse of me and know me. If I had not seen you that night, I would have spoken tenderly, and would not have suffered the demon to speak. If you could only have… but then it was I who let you go away as if you were nobody to me. I cling to you with the eager grasp of a sinking man, so earnestly hoping that you might only kiss me. Am I mad. What am I saying? Must I bear it long? It may be soon that the last dagger may be driven. How strange it will be to be at peace.

Long term separation during our engagement left Lawrence so lonely, stressed out and depressed that he unintentionally allowed another woman to fall in love with him. He had planned to try to finish four years of seminary school in two years so that we could get married sooner but he basically ran himself into the ground. He was also a man who didn’t function well unless he had someone around him loving him and offering support. Enter his cousin, Annie. In those days, cousins getting together was not the taboo that it is today. Since I was a thousand miles away in Georgia teaching music at a girls school, I don’t really know what happened.

Historical evidence shows that Annie fell in love with Lawrence to the point of being an unhealthy, obsessive love. On his end, it seems that he didn’t grasp what was going on until it all blew up in his face. I don’t think he was completely innocent though because there is a letter in which he wrote to me about being sick in bed all that day, while his journal of the same date shows that he was out sledding with Annie. Her father found letters that were unsettling and an entire branch of the family stopped speaking to Lawrence because of it. Annie was forbidden from seeing him again and she was shipped away to live in another state. When Lawrence wrote to her to effectively end whatever was going on, she became furious. I think she wanted him to fight her father on it and I think she wanted him to proclaim love for her, which he never did. I don’t think Annie ever really got over him. I think Lawrence unintentionally led her on in his need for female companionship.

Despite the bumps in the road, we managed to overcome all of it and get married. Typically, women were married at that time between 17 and 21 while men were older, like between 25 and 35. Lawrence was 27 when we got married and I was 30. We were never a typical couple. We were married by my father, a minister, on December 7, 1855, at 4:30 in the afternoon, which, again, was not typical.

Most weddings in the early-Victorian period happened early in the morning, followed by a wedding breakfast/lunch at the bride’s family’s home. It was Queen Victoria who brought white wedding dresses into fashion in the 1830s but most brides were still wearing whatever they wanted in the 1850s and 1860s. Most brides wore their Sunday church dress as their wedding dress, or they had a new dress made in any manner of color. Dancing was frowned upon and alcohol was illegal in Maine, so the wedding breakfasts/lunches were based around a lot of food, socializing, etc. There was no entertainment because it was considered the high privilege of attending the wedding itself. In those days, it really was just about the bride, groom and the marriage. A corner of the room was decorated where the bride sat with the groom and each guest had to come and pay their respects. Saying congratulations was strictly reserved for the groom, while “best wishes” were offered to the bride. Only the groom got congratulated because it was implied that the honor was given to the bride by marrying her.

Food for a winter wedding would have been some type of fowl like turkey, fish, soup, probably cranberries, potatoes, nuts, sweets, “chocolate” which we call hot chocolate now (it was a luxury then), probably some type of ice (ice cream), etc. There would have been three wedding cakes. One was made of dark, rich fruitcake with white frosting decorated in ornate scrolls and orange blossoms to go with the ones in the bride’s hair. Orange blossoms symbolized purity and fertility. Then there was a smaller, simpler white cake made to represent the bride and a smaller, simpler dark cake to represent the groom. Pieces of cake were boxed up and handed out to guests as they left the wedding breakfast/lunch. The top of the cake was saved for the bride and groom for their 25th wedding anniversary.

Typically, the newlyweds would leave for their honeymoon immediately after the wedding breakfast/lunch. Only the best man was allowed to know where they were going, as it was considered rude for others to ask and the best man typically took care of all the arrangements. Wealthy people took fashionable trips to Europe for months, while poorer people went to borrowed cottages or the city just to have some time alone together. Since Lawrence and I got married so late in the day, we couldn’t leave until the next morning. So we spent our wedding night in my father’s house, in the room where I grew up. For the honeymoon, we went up north to Brewer to his family farm and spent several weeks there. Literally, within a month of being married, I was pregnant.

While Lawrence and I were deeply in love and we respected each other as individuals, we did not have an easy marriage. Like any modern couple, we never had enough money for the babies we had, Lawrence had to work a lot to make ends meet, it took us a few years to be able to afford a home of our own, etc. Neither one of our families wanted us to see each other or be married. His father didn’t like me and my father didn’t like me. Eventually our families resigned themselves to the fact that we were not going to give each other up.

We had four babies between 1856 and 1860. Grace, a son (officially unnamed but I’ve always said George), Wyllys and Emily. I gave up my entire life as a performer and an artist to be a mother, despite my initial reservations about it. George was three months premature and he only lived a few hours. Emily died before she was a year old in a scarlet fever epidemic. There is no way to describe the deaths of your own children, so I’m not even going to try. I do remember a little of the aftermath of each child’s death. We lost a third baby, Gertrude, to scarlet fever again in 1865. Even the strongest marriage will be tested and stretched to its limits with the grief and blame that comes with the death of a child. Death was an everyday fact of life in those days but I get really angry when historians sort of brush it off when it comes to the grieving parents endured. It doesn’t matter how high the child mortality rate is. When you hold your dead child in your arms, someone could rip your heart out of your chest and it wouldn’t even come close to the pain. Lawrence was a very hands-on father, not afraid to change diapers or play with the babies, so he took the deaths very hard. He wanted to be a father more than I wanted to be a mother. I don’t think I ever really let go of the guilt, thinking my early distaste for motherhood made God punish me by taking away three out of five of my children.

Pregnancy and childbirth in the nineteenth century were almost never referenced in positive terms. When a woman was pregnant, it was talked about within the family as being “ill” or “sick.” Before we were married, I had written to Lawrence saying that I expected to be sick again before the summer was over. He told his little brother, Tom (who was a child, like 15, I think), not thinking anything of it, so Tom went and told their mother (in front of a bunch of women) that, “Fanny expects to be sick soon!” Mother Chamberlain looked at Lawrence and said, “So Fanny expects to be sick, does she?” and Lawrence quipped something to the effect of, “Well, if she does, it isn’t on *my* account,” and everyone had a good laugh over it. There was not much to laugh about when it came to pregnancy and childbirth though. It was very difficult without modern medical care. Most women gave birth at home without doctors but with the help of other women in the neighborhood who had already gone through childbirth. I had a doctor but it didn’t save me from complication. I had a staph infection for months after my first baby was born, probably acquired during her birth.

Preparing for a baby involved sewing or buying all the necessary clothing and blankets. In writing to family members who were helping me, we referred to baby clothes as “articles of a small dimension.” It was considered vulgar to talk openly, show off, or go out in public if your pregnancy could no longer be hidden with clever use of clothes. Some women even found it vulgar to make baby items in front of the baby’s father, although I was not one of them. Babies were not named, nor were names planned or discussed until it was sure that they were going to live. The mother usually named the baby but again, we weren’t typical. Lawrence would get impatient with saying “the baby” for weeks, so he would start throwing names out there. He named Grace, the first baby, since I couldn’t make up my mind.

Being parents is what really became the glue that held us together. Not that we were necessarily immature but having babies forced us to quit playing jealousy games, give up old fanciful dreams and be responsible parents. Typically, child rearing was solely up to the mother because the father was responsible for bringing home the income. I enjoyed traveling a lot and there were many instances when I would leave the children with Lawrence and neighbor women and go down to Boston or New York City, especially early in the marriage when we were still setting up household. There were places to buy furniture for cheap in Boston that you couldn’t find in Portland or Brunswick, and I had a lot of family and friends in Boston too. Lawrence never thought it was beneath him or emasculating to take care of his own babies. He had a special bond with Grace, the oldest, and referred to her as a soulmate. She was his in every way, just as Wyllys was mine in every way. Lawrence was gone in the army for much of Wyllys’ childhood, so they didn’t know each other as well as he knew Grace.

We moved around a lot in the first few years of being married. It’s not unlike now with young couples starting out in tiny apartments or rented rooms in houses. In 1858, we ended up buying the first house in which we rented rooms as newlyweds. Wyllys was either not born yet or he was just a tiny baby (I can’t remember). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had lived in the house as a newlywed as well, and our family grew there, built up the house and stayed there for almost the next half-century. When you spend such a significant portion of your life in the same home, filling that space with your energy, whether it’s happiness, love, anger or sorrow, the feeling within those walls will be familiar no matter how many centuries pass. I have been to the home twice in this life. The first time, I went into Lawrence’s library and dissolved into tears. Oprah jokingly calls it the “ugly cry” when it consumes your whole body.

This is a modern painting of Lawrence in his library as an old man. It’s very accurate.

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Married to a Victorian man: Part I

Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

Originally posted on August 28, 2009.

I keep getting asked what it was like to be married in the 1800s to a man like Lawrence, so I’m writing this blog quite candidly to give you guys an accurate picture of it. Some of it is historical documentation but most of it is me talking as the wife in the relationship. It was me married to him. My soul was just in the body below rather than the body I use now. The truths about my past life have come through ten years of reflection, research, meditation, guidance from other intuitives, etc. Part II will come soon.

The first time I saw Lawrence, we were toddlers who’s mothers once visited each other by coincidence. We didn’t see each other again until we were adults, which proves that nothing is by accident. He wasn’t my first spouse by far, nor will he be my last. I have known several of my past spouses in my 27 years but there is always “the one” for every person. He’s above the rest. He’s my twin flame, my literal other half, a huge part of my heart and soul, despite not being alive with this generation. We have been together five times that I am aware of but the most recent time is the most documented, the most debated and the clearest picture of what a twin flame relationship is like.

For NKOTB fans, I’ll do this to hold your attention: I had a lot of commonality with them today when I was her back then. I was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, in 1825, which is where Joe McIntyre was raised. I spent parts of my childhood at the time in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where Jon and Jordan Knight, Danny Wood and Donnie Wahlberg went to school and where their early performances were in the group. Lawrence invested quite a lot of money during the late 1800s in the real estate development of Ocala, Florida, where Jon Knight boarded several of his horses and spent a lot of time in the 1990s. Without Lawrence and his partners, Ocala would not have existed for Jon to enter Shakespeare into competitions and train his horses. In fact, we lost most of our emassed fortune developing that place from nothing but fields and a few buildings. Those are just some bizarre commonalities. So do I have your attention, NKOTB fans? Good. Keep reading. Learn a few new things 🙂

A major reason why I have had spontaneous flashbacks since I was a toddler about being Fanny is because of Lawrence. When you are born into a life with your twin flame, it leaves such an impact that it transcends time and if you’re at all spiritually sensitive, being without your twin flame leaves a gaping hole in you. No amount of achievement or material gain, no “stuff,” nothing fills the void. I’m not saying it leaves you a depressed shell of a human being to be without your other half, but the sense of something missing always nags at you in the back of your mind. You live your life and you have great successes, even great loves, but you also learn to co-exist with a hole in your soul from a very young age. Being with your twin flame is hard, it’s intense, it’s always for the better good of humanity or a cause bigger than yourselves, and it’s extremely fulfilling. It’s hard because you’re basically trying to live with a copy yourself in some ways and most people laugh and say, “I’d kill me if I had to live with myself.” It’s true in a lot of ways.

Lawrence and I were unique for our time. We’re old souls, so the restraints of society wear thin on us pretty quick when those restraints try to force us to go against what’s in our hearts. I speak in present tense about things like this because he may not be around with this generation but it doesn’t mean we won’t be together again in the future and I’m sure we’ll be breaking rules of society then too. It’s just part of our dynamics with each other and using our time as Fanny and Lawrence is the best way to illustrate it. Let’s face it — he wrote a lot and he was a famous figure so the state of Maine has a lot of his stuff archived.

This is a photograph of Lawrence as a general late in the Civil War that my friend colorized based on my descriptions. He was five-foot-ten and a half (he never forgot to include the half), which was pretty tall for the time when the average height was five-foot-eight. He was athletically built but not “ripped” like men strive to be today. There was no such thing as working out at the gym, so his strength and natural body shape came from years and years of manual labor on the family farm in Brewer, Maine. He had thick brownish hair (not yellow blonde like Jeff Daniels who played him) and he started going gray in his mid-to-late twenties, at the temples first and so on. His eyes were technically blue but they could change from gray to intense blue depending on the intensity of his moods, fatigue, illness or other circumstances. His eyes really lack verbal description. People throughout his life up until the present have remarked about how intense they were, how he could look right through a person and show his own internal passions, anger, happiness and love.

When people think of Victorian couples, romance and marriage, there is a very definite stereotype of no physical affection, not really knowing each other before marrying or even after marrying, and that marriages were arranged. Love rarely fits in with the idea of Victorian marriage and even today, suggesting that Victorians were sexual beings is enough to make people gasp and say it couldn’t have been true. The truth of the matter is that there was an idealized version of Victorian life that many strove to achieve but then there was a whole other reality too. The stereotypes of uptight Victorians vastly come from the upper 2% of the super rich population, which was its own world compared to normal society.

Average everyday people had a similar moral code to uphold but there was a lot more freedom in the lower classes, as long as it wasn’t out there in the open. More people worked so it was harder to constantly chaperone unmarried people. Statistical estimates show that about 20% of brides were pregnant on their wedding days and there are even some who suggest that Mary Todd Lincoln was one of them. Birth control and pornography were illegal but were produced at rates not much different from modern times. Common types of birth control were sheepskin condoms, “puddings” which were designed to be like sperm blockers or spermicide, lemon juice or whiskey douches, herbal teas, the ever classic “pulling out” method, and so on. It was acceptable for men of the upper class to have women of the lower classes to learn about sex before they took a respectable wife of their own class. On the other hand, women of all classes were expected to remain pure and innocent outwardly, but with a marriage day pregnancy rate of about 20%, clearly it was a fanciful dream and not quite a measure of reality. The biggest stereotype of Victorian love is that men thought women never enjoyed sex or romance. Again, it’s a result of the idealized Victorian woman as opposed to a real Victorian woman.

In my case specifically, Lawrence and I were part of the working class for most of our lives. Had we been part of the upper stratosphere of society, I really doubt so many of our letters would have survived because families had a habit of burning embarrassing documents after death. We are not unique in that we talked so frankly about our love and our relationship. We are unique in that so much of it survived into this century for people to study. I understand the fascination from the outside as scholars and regular people interested in reading about a real Victorian romance. From the inside though, I do squirm sometimes about certain passages of what I felt at the time were private letters being published for mass consumption. Lawrence, on the other hand, would just smile and tease me about blushing and being embarrassed about people knowing I actually might have loved him.

That was the thing about Lawrence as a person. Military and political figures like him are remembered by history as two-dimensional, cold, serious, boring men and there is no humanity to who they were. Lawrence was a jokester and a prankster. He was witty, clever and he had a sharp tongue to match a sharp mind. He felt emotions so deeply that sometimes all he could do was either mask it with silence or a perfectly timed dry joke to get the room rolling with laughter. His keen mind easily pounced on things about people that were normally serious but he made people find a way to see humor in their weaknesses. In my case, I was a very emotionally closed person. I had a terrible time bearing my soul, especially about things such as love and affection, that flew in the face of the idealized Victorian woman that I thought I was supposed to be. He knew better and he knew *me* better. His way of expressing those desires in the years before we were married often took the shape of humor, like this:

I guess you will be very angry if I confess to you what I have done. Can you believe it? I slept with a girl the other night. It came about queerly — I could not help it — such a sweet delicious maiden & then the opportunity — … It was rather too much for human flesh & blood. And then her head laid on my shoulder so cunning & coy — can you blame me for kissing her so passionately when she was so soft & warm? It wasn’t a dream…. You do not care, do you? You know you are above all such things — they are ‘cruel’ & ‘unnatural’! If I am never to touch my wife, nobody can blame me for this. If you want to know who it was, why it was my own Fannie in the nice goldplate case I keep her in, so that nobody can see her except me.

In that letter, he made teasing references to very serious matters that worried me at the time. I had told him after we were engaged that maybe it was a better idea for us to have a platonic marriage because I felt that the entire concepts of marriage and motherhood were cruel ways to imprison women. I disagreed with biblical passages that said motherhood was the “natural” order of things for a wife and my liberal ideas baffled him. Eventually he dug deeper, as he was always prone to doing, until he hit the root cause of my problem. It wasn’t that I truly wanted a sexless marriage — I had written to him that such a life would require as much self-denial on my part as his — but motherhood was something I never wanted. I was unique by Victorian standards because I had lived in the city on my own terms, I made money, I was a stage singer and musician, I taught music a thousand miles away from home, etc. Going from total freedom to being chained down in service to a husband and a litter of children was deeply upsetting to me, as was the very real possibility that I would die in childbirth.

“I am in earnest darling about the matter in the note — We can have mischief enough, without any trouble. I guess you will be as ready for it as I–“ he had written during the long distance part of our engagement. He suggested that I begin learning about “puddings and things” (birth control) before the wedding so that we could have our “mischief” without having children immediately. He also made very frank statements about knowing that women wanted affection with their husbands as much as their husbands. He told me not to pretend that I didn’t have any passionate feelings because he didn’t like to think of me as a fossil. Several other teasing instances followed in letters, such as:

I want to kiss her. I want her to put up her lips and tempt me, so that I shall fall into her arms, as I used to try not to do … Now, now I’m going to kiss her — there; only see her blush now — quite a sparkle in her eye — I guess she is a rogue; that is what I guess.

And:

I dreamed last night that my F____ had a little ‘gold-____’ tossing him up in her arms & playing with him. I was very jealous, for she would not let me take him at all & I was so unreasonable as to imagine I had as much right to him as she. But there wasn’t any quarrel. I wish I could tell you my feelings when I looked upon those two. I wish I could. Only remember my starting when I thought that my F____ was not F____ *********** yet — After that I dreamed of something else, which if it had been carried much farther, I am afraid would have made the two dreams come in rather an inverted order, now isn’t that pretty well said. Dont scold me.

When he wanted to say something directly but knew that I wouldn’t like the frankness, he would tease me by putting fill-in-the-blanks, stars for letters or drawing cartoons. In the case above, “gold-____” meant gold-baby and “F____” meant Fanny/Fannie and *********** stood for Chamberlain, as it was bad luck and improper to write a woman’s married name before she was married.

The thing that bothers me the most about historians today is that it’s almost common knowledge, though completely false, that I never loved Lawrence. Historians can be a very cruel lot. Since there was very little left from my correspondence to him and a good deal of his correspondence sounded like a forlorn lover, they assume I was cold-hearted, flighty, uncaring, treated him like dirt, and some have even theorized that I was a lesbian. As my friend Jeffrey Keene says, “History is the greatest piece of fiction ever written.” To understand the way I dealt with Lawrence’s open affection, you have to understand that before him, I was sent away to be adopted without explanation at the age of four, I was raised by a minister, I had been through other relationships that went badly and I had been intensely independent. People had been gossiping about me for my entire life and I had built up a very thick wall around myself. Lawrence was almost three years younger, he was still in school, he had no prospects, etc. He pursued me from the minute he saw me and I fought my feelings for a while because nobody approved.

Love is love, though, and nothing can stop it no matter how you try, especially when you’re dealing with a twin flame situation. Without him, I was miserable. With him, I was afraid of the intense things I felt. It wasn’t in my personality to pour out every thought and desire into letters like he did. I was a person of act and deed rather than written contemplation. He had trouble understanding that and he was prone to depression when I didn’t answer his letters with equal intensity that he wrote to me. Being in love and exposing his heart was effortless for him. For me, it was a matter of losing control of something else and I had trouble handling that. I loved him as intensely as he loved me but I was much more comfortable showing him in person rather than writing it down. In person, it was just for us and nobody had to know about it. In letters, there was a risk that other people (like historians today!), would see it and gossip about me even more.

A woman who didn’t love a man wouldn’t write something like this:

You know dear Lawrence that I may breathe to you, even as to my own heart, in all innocence and perfect trustfulness, those things which would ever sink me in the estimation and respect of any third person; for no other being can know what we are to each other.

Or this:

I am sitting now at the same window where we sat together all that night. How could you think that I would shrink from you ever! You who seem so holy, so pure and noble to me! — how could I even if you did press my finger to your dear lips? O! there was nothing even then, that you could have done that would not have seemed beautiful and right to me. Ah! those nights! so full of terrible beauty; will they never come again?…O! dear Lawrence I would know you more, and I would have you know me as you never have known me. My soul longs to speak to yours as it never has spoken…I rest in you as I never have rested before; — you know it, do you not? and I would be everything to you; I would nestle closely in your arms forever, and love you and cling to you and be your ‘bird’: dear, precious heart!

Also, I wrote this note (below) to him during the early part of our relationship after we had committed to each other without being engaged yet. He proposed frequently and almost immediately after we began seeing each other but it took me about a year to finally come to terms with the fact that being his wife was my destiny. This note is not very different from women texting men today and saying, “Hey, come on over while we have some privacy.” There are several other instances of me arranging private time before we were married too, which, again, flies in the face of Victorian stereotypes.

I am disappointed at not seeing you last eve. Why not give Mary J. her lesson early and give rehearsal the skip for I will be home alone. Father is away and Addie will be out. Will you come, if that is agreeable to yourself? Your singing book is here and you will need it for the next day.

In another letter much later on from him, he made this reference:

…then too when she invited me one night to sl___ Wasn’t I good, not to? But I shall remember that invitation till two rooms come — then we shall see.

Here we have another fill-in-the-blank, let’s make Fanny blush and roll her eyes, passage from a letter. This was well before we were married and the blank suggests that I had invited him to sleep with me one night, although historians aren’t sure if he was serious or joking. The truth? I’m not sure either. I know our premarital physical relationship went beyond what was acceptable in polite society but I’m not completely sure that I would have extended such an invitation while living under my minister father’s roof. I find it very doubtful, in fact. Lawrence had a very dirty, dark sense of humor at times.

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