james boswell would like to wish you a very, very special valentine’s day . . . .


London Journal, MONDAY 14 February.  Erskine drank tea with me.  We were in a luscious flow of spirits and vastly merry.  “How we do chase a thought,” said Erskine,”when once it is started.  Let it run as it pleases over hill and dale and take take numberless windings, still we are at it.  It has a greyhound at its heels every turn.”  The distemper was now almost over.  I was free from pain, and had pleasurable ease.  This night my new tent-bed was put up.  I liked it much.  It gave a snug yet genteel look to my room, and had a military air which amused my fancy and made me happy.”

Through some accident I was teaching Boswell’s London Journal this week at the same time I was leading my students through E.P. Thompson’s “Patrician Society, Plebeian Culture.” That’s when I realized that Thompson’s take on the theatrical nature of hegemony could not be better represented than Boswell’s images of himself, huffing and puffing his way through the streets of London.  And no, it is not a very romantic picture of either Boswell or the women he met.

But of all the 18c people I can imagine who might enjoy giving and receiving valentines, I think Boswell would enjoy them the most.  The exchange of gifts, the sweets, the letter-writing, the private visions of love someday happily requited–all these are perfectly suited for Boswell’s dreamy temperament.

[Louisa and I] agreed that the time should be a week, and that if I remained of the same opinion, she would make me blessed.  There is no telling how easy it made my mind to be convinced that she did not despise me, but on the contrary had a tender heart and wished to make me easy and happy.

[image of Kitty Fisher from Christa Davies’ review of the 2005 Reynolds exhibition]

2 responses to “james boswell would like to wish you a very, very special valentine’s day . . . .

  1. Laura Rosenthal

    I’m thinking that Kitty would have been happy to get some valentines as well (especially the kind that come with notes for 50 pounds).

  2. Nothing says, “I love you,” like a 50-pound banknote . . . .