Wuthering Hearts: Brontës and Valentines

250px-The_Brontë_Sisters_by_Patrick_Branwell_Brontë_restoredOne of my favorite Valentine’s Day stories centers on the Brontë sisters. So much tragedy surrounds the brief lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne that it’s a pleasant change of pace to read about the good things that happened to them. One of which was their friendship with William Weightman, their father’s charming young curate. (Many speculate that at least one of the sisters was secretly in love with him.)

weightmnAlthough Weightman succumbed to a cholera epidemic in 1842, he brightened the Brontës’ lives during his time in Haworth. One of the nicest things he did was to send Valentines to the sisters and their friend Ellen Nussey, on hearing that none of them had ever received one. Weightman even walked ten miles to Bradford to post them anonymously, though the girls soon discovered the ruse–and returned the favor by writing their benefactor the following poem:

‘A Rowland for your Oliver˛ˇ

We think you’ve justly earned;
You sent us each a valentine,
Your gift is now returned.
We cannot write or talk like you;
We’re plain folks every one;
You’ve played a clever trick on us,
We thank you for the fun.
Believe us when we frankly say
(Our words, though blunt are true),
At home, abroad, by night or day,
We all wish well to you.
And never may a cloud come o’er
The sunshine of your mind;
Kind friends, warm hearts, and happy hours,
Through life we trust you’ll find.
Where’er you go, however far
In future years you stray,
There shall not want our earnest prayer
To speed you on your way. . .

Victorian Valentine: The message reads "My Dearest Miss, I Send Thee a Kiss"
Victorian Valentine: The message reads “My Dearest Miss, I Send Thee a Kiss”

So while Valentine’s Day has come to be associated mainly with couples, other kinds of love are also worth celebrating on February 14. Whether single or attached, no one is ever the worse for being loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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