February 14th - Valentine's Day
( Originally Published 1884 )
As the 14th of next month is a day anxiously looked for by the youth of both sexes, in the expectation of exercising their ingenuity in forming those amorous billets denominated " Valentines," I beg leave, through the channel of your Magazine, to offer a few suggestions to parents and guardians on the subject of these productions.
As my family were sitting at breakfast, the two-penny-post-man brought in five letters. Three of these were directed to the young ladies ; the other two were on business, to myself. My eldest daughter who never receives any letter which she would wish to conceal from her parents, finding that her billet contained what appeared to be Poetry, began to read it to us ; but she fortunately had not gone beyond the second line, when I recollected (from having heard of them in my boyish days) what the sequel was; and, snatching, as quick as lightning, the abominable Valentine from her hands before she could possibly arrive at the meaning, threw it upon the fire, congratulating my daughter on having escaped reading the most horrid obscenity that depravity could invent.
A young lady, an inmate in my house, over whom I had not the same authority as over my own daughter, had by this time opened her packet of painted trumpery; and began to read the verses aloud. No sooner heard I the first line than I knew it to contain ribaldry more shockingly indecent, if possible, than the former; I therefore made free to snatch that one also out of the reader's hand, assuring my young friend that, if she had gone to the end of it, she never could again have looked me, or either of the young gentlemen who were then sitting at the table with us, in the face.
The third was then handed to me by my youngest daughter unopened. This was also a Valentine, but contained only a few innocent lines.