A Well-Written Valentine

valentine-envelope“Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.”

Okay, so I hear you JA aficionados saying, “Hey, where did she dig up that line?” And you’re right; it is not strictly a Jane Austen quote. But it certainly could have been. She must have subscribed to this policy (as I do) because she often allowed her characters to explain themselves and express their innermost feelings in letter form.

The line above is actually taken from the movie The Jane Austen Book Club and is said in reference to arguably the most compelling letter composed by one of her characters: the culminating note left by Captain Wentworth for Anne Elliot near the end of Persuasion. Although they had fallen in love when they first met, Anne had been forcefully “persuaded” by her family to reject the captain’s proposal. Now, years later, they have a second chance.

With a letter like this, how could Cpt. Wentworth miss?

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in

F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.

Wentworth's letter_SodabugDid I hear a collective sigh, ladies? Was there ever a more poignant plea for the ultimate consummation of long-thwarted love? I think not.

Here’s wishing you a special Valentine’s Day. Might be a good time to pull out and reread that packet of love letters you saved – perhaps sent to you long ago and now tied with a ribbon and tucked away in a drawer. I have one such bundle. Do you?

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About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Well-Written Valentine

  1. Angie Kroll says:

    There really aren’t love letters written at all anymore, let alone any like the ones from Captain Wentworth. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I do have a bundle like that….maybe I should dig them up!!!

  3. My favorite love letter (from the young man who is now my husband of 17 years) is an email from 1993, when we were both still in college. He wrote a short, encouraging note when I was very anxious about a late research paper. He told me I could do it, and I did. I have a printout of his letter in a box somewhere. I still remember one of the lines: “You always get it done. A little on the edge, but always get it done.” May not be your typical love words, but it meant a ton to me.

    • My first thought was “did we really have email 20 years ago?” I guess so.

      Next thought: a love letter is the words you need to hear sent by the one who knows you well enough (and cares enough) to send them. Your letter qualifies!

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