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Today In History: St. Valentine’s Day – The Washington Herald, February 14th, 1910
|| 2/14/2010 || 10:28 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Scan of the newspaper article Today In History from the Washington Herald, 100 years ago

St. Valentine’s Day has degenerated somewhat in recent years, and is now generally observed by the sending of jocular pictures with suitable verses attached, or an equally ridiculous sentimental picture card. Formerly the proper ceremony of the day was the drawing of a kind of lottery, followed by ceremonies not much unlike what is generally called the game of forfeits.

In Pepy’s Diary we find some notable illustrations of this old custom. It appears that married and single were then alike liable to be chosen as a valentine, and that a present was invariably necessarily given to the choosing party. “Noticing the jewels of the celebrated Miss Stuart, who became Duchess of Richmond,” he records, “the Duke of York, being once her valentine, did give her a jewel of about £800; and my Lord Mandeville, her valentine this year, a ring of about £300. These presents were undoubtedly given in roder to relieve the obligations under which the being drawn as valentines places the donors.”

Notwithstanding the practice of “relieving,” there seems to have been a disposition to believe that the person drawn as a valentine had some considerable likelihood of becoming the associate of the party in wedlock.

It was supposed, for instance, that the first unmarried person of the other sex whom you met on St. Valentine’s morning in walking abroad was a destined wife or a destined husband. Thus Gay makes a rural dame remark:

“Last Valentine, the when birds of kind,
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find,
I early rose just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chased the stars away;
A-field I went, amid the morning dew,
To milk my kine (for so should housewives do).
Thet first I spied- and the first swain we see.
In spite of fortune shall our true love be.”

St. Valentine’s Day is alluded to by Shakespeare and by Chaucer, and also by the poet Lydgate, who died in 1440. One of the earliest known writers of valentines, or poetical amative address for this day, was Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was taken at the battle of Agencourt.

The origin of these peculiar observances of St. Valentine’s Day is a subject of some obscurity. The saint himself, who was a priest of Rome, martyred in the third century, seems to have had nothing to do with the matter beyond the accident of this day being used for the purpose.

Just why St. Valentine was chosen the patron of love seems a little obscure. Wheatly says: “He was a man of admirable parts and so famous for his love and charity that the custom of choosing valentines upon his festival, which is still practiced, too rise from thence.” While Dr. Butler, in his “Lives of the Saints,” says: “To abolish the heathens’ lewd custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honor of their goddess, Februata Juno, on the fourteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints on the billets that were drawn.” and thus in the mutation of time the custom has grown which now takes the form of “valentines.”


February 14 is the date which Gray and Bell each received a patent for the first telephone in 1876; it is the birthday of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock (1824); Charles L. Sholes, father of the typewriter (1819); Samuel Osgood, the first Postmaster General (1748); the day on which the United States flag was first seen in foreign lands and saluted in 1778, and upon which the battle of St. Vincent, in 1797.


This newspaper article was transcribed from the scan of the February 14th, 1910 edition of the Washington Herald from the Chronicling America newspaper collection and is in the public domain.



[Commission] Shirlington Quilt
|| 10/15/2008 || 6:16 pm || Comments Off on [Commission] Shirlington Quilt || ||

: rendered at 9,000 X 6,000 :

I’ve been working on this commissioned map for a few months now. It was originally going to be Paris, but we decided to it would be easier to make a map of their house. I spent some extra time transforming the nearby highway into a heart (below) to signify the love between the husband and wife. I think it looks beautiful :-) It will be placed in the client’s home, which is featured within the map.

View the Google Map of the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:

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Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love by Ovid
|| 4/3/2008 || 1:28 pm || Comments Off on Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love by Ovid || ||

Remedia Amoris (Love’s Remedy or The Cure for Love) is a 814 line poem in Latin by the Roman poet Ovid written around 5 BC. The aim of the poem is to teach young men how they can avoid idealizing the women they love and to give assistance if love brings despair and misfortune.

I discovered this poem when I was researching antique stained glass sundials and I came to the initial conclusion that Ovid’s prose is visually interpreted on Blaeu’s world map from the mid-1600s (detail above). Late last night I found both the latin and translated version of the poem, so I decided to do something I wish there was more of on the internet: a side by side layout which shows the original Latin on the left and the translated English on the right.

To add a unique visual element to the poem, I made the line number (which came from the Latin text) the color of the English translation. This involved quite a bit of manual coding, but I think it makes the latin / english comparison easier and slightly more visually engaging. By using red & white type face and numerical indention, the layout looks like a creve coeur or broken heart when scrolling. I bolded one section for emphasis related it’s discovery [hint: around line #185].

There are a few translation discrepancies that I’ve found thus far and there are many others which come across slightly convoluted and require more inquiry, but overall the poem is quite interesting. It includes topics like tree grafting (Genetic Engineering Version 1.0), having multiple lovers, travelling, and what to do and not to do when getting over a relationship. It’s interesting how much things have changed in the last 2,000 years, and as cliche as it may sound, how much our emotions have stayed the same. We all face the same relationship troubles and like Ovid, there will always be people telling you how to deal with them.



If you’ve got about 45 minutes to spare, here is Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love:
(You might need to widen your browser window to view the on-line polyglot correctly — it was originally design for a previous layout on this website. Drag the lower right hand corner to make the screen wider. Some browsers you can adjust the font size to achieve a similar result.)

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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