Letter to Fanny Gridley, July 1840
In July 1840 Fanny Gridley received a letter from Frederic Augustus Ferdinand Fitz Clarence Bonoparte Hobbs of Providence, R.I. The letter is addressed to “Celestial Fanny” and is filled with flowery prose including “so art thou above all damsels in Beauty, Accomplishments, and Intellectual excellence.” Hobbs ends the letter “as I have now given utterance to all the eloquence with which all-potent Love has inspired my soul, so now I will wind up.”
We do not know what became of Mr. Hobbs but we do know that Fanny Gridley never married. She lived in Amherst her entire life, from her birth in January 1816 to her death in March 1904.
Providence, R.I. July 2nd ‘40
As honey is sweeter than molasses so are sweeter than any girl whose presence has gladdened my vision. As the Lily is more beautiful than the Burdock, so art thou more transcendently beautiful than any maiden who ever came within the scope of my optics. As the Diamond incomparably outshines Pewter so the sun in its course is not reflected by eyes that can for an instant compare with thine. As the voice of the Nightingale exceeds in the richness of its music, the voice of the Guinea hen, so thine excels all others in the music of its celestial cadences. As the Oak of the forest surpasses in majesty the Cabbage of the garden so the queenly beauty of thy symmetrically molded form tar paper all others. As the Arab coursor of the desert in the graceful ease of his motions excels the Dutch dray horse, so do thy gracefully dignified movements outvie thy companions. As gold purified by fire exceeds in value the baser copper so the treasures of thy mind compared with all others and as things celestial are high above terrestrial existences, so art thou above all damsels in Beauty, Accomplishments, and Intellectual excellence. Such a mirror of Perfection! are thy charms, and now permit thy adorer to make some humble mention of his claims to preeminence among men as thou art most excellent among women. As vinegar is sourer than the best Newark cider, so acidified has become the honeycomb of my disposition. As far as perfect ugliness is removed from most perfect beauty so far do I exceed all others in hideousness of aspect. As the rays of the sun are refracted from a direct line so my eyes rejoice in a certain obliquity of the axes of vision. As the sun riseth in the east and shineth over even unto the west, so with one eye I can scan the Orient, with the other the Occident. As grate the harsh notes of the Peacock upon the ear of the listener, so fall the discordant tones from the lips of thy worshipper. As Hoyarth’s line of beauty was a curve so I am beautifully crooked. Is the bow in the cloud a straight line? As the pig delighteth ro revel in clover, so delight I to luxuriate in the smiles of thy beauty most Angelic. As I have now given utterance to all the eloquence with which all-potent Love has inspired my soul, so I will now wind up. As one word will make thy adorer supremely happy or irrevocably miserable, so most Lovely! address the devoted
Frederic Augustus Ferdinand Fitz Clarence Bonaparte Hobbs