We have recently acquired a small nineteenth-century commonplace book belonging, we think, to someone by the name of Winnie, who has collected verses, newspaper clippings, excerpts from literature and engravings, as well as her own sketches and watercolours.
We particularly liked this hand-coloured scrap which has been intricately cut to create a three-dimensional cloche shape. When the tiny string is pulled and the paper shape is lifted, it reveals two tiny hand-painted hearts entwined together.
In spite of her apparent delight in romantic trivia, Winnie had obviously seen enough of life to have developed a keen sense of irony, and on another page she neatly copies out this piece of eighteenth-century wit entitled ‘Recipe for a love-letter’:
Take five hundred protestations, half as many vows, three thousand lies, fifty pounds weight of deceit, an equal quantity of nonsense, and treble the whole of flattery. Mix all these ingredients up together and add thereto half a scruple of sincerity, sweetening it often with the words Angel – Goddess – Charmer – Honey and the like. When it is sweetened to your taste, take as much of it as a time as you think proper, fold it up in gilt paper, seal it with the impression of a flaming heart full of wounds – let it be carefully delivered, and it is irresistible.