The words we use to tell one another how we feel have remained startlingly unchanged for hundreds of years. While Bernard Shaw was probably huddled under the covers on that freezing winter night he wrote his “Stella,” the actress Beatrice Campbell, he was without the benefit of a Blackberry and a picture-phone (as I was in the photograph above). Yet how he wrote her is the same way boys write girls today, the chant of her name the mark of true infatuation: in one small letter he writes her name thirty-six times, and spends a whole paragraph worrying about when she will get the letter because he missed the last drop at the post office.
Alexander Pope drunk-writing Martha Blount in the early days of the eighteenth century has all of the wonderful sentiment, and very nearly the same words, of a 21st century drunk-dial. “Most divine,” he scratches, “it is some proof of my sincerity towards you, that I write when I am prepared by drinking to speak truth; and sure a letter after twelve at night must abound with that noble ingredient.”
So: happy Monday.