I have to say, this was not a problem I ever had to deal with in my tender youth (weep, woe, &c). Oh no, I was far too busy watching Hornblower and/or wishing I was Lizzy Bennet to have much to do with boys.
Presuming that most normal humans are less likely to shun The Modern World in such a ridiculous manner, I imagine that many of you are either spending today being gushingly romantic or awkwardly facing the aftermath of the dreaded Unwanted Attentions. Preferring to leave the former group to their own devices, I hope to offer some solace to the latter.
Below, for your delectation, is a selection of Georgian suggestions for declining a Valentine. Some are inspired by virtuous caution… and others are a little less gentle.
Take your pick, and let me know how it goes!
1. For The Ex-Boyfriend
2. For The One You Suspect Would Be A Bad Idea
3. For The One who Wronged You
4. For The Ladies’ Man
5. For The One Whose Flattery Rouses Suspicion In Your Breast
6. For The One Bordering On Harrassment
7. For The One Who Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, But You’re Not So Sure About Anymore
– Text from The Herald of Love, being a choice collection of Valentines and Answers, for various trades, &c, (c.1800).
– Image (top): Detail from ‘Paddy’s Courtship, or Love at First Sight’ (1805). Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library.