Monday, 22 November 2010

A true Lovers Knot to thee my Dear I send

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Popular amongst a small section of Pennsylvania Quakers in the late-18th and early 19th century, the 'True Lover's Knot' is both an undeniably romantic form of love letter and an impressively intricate, labyrinthian work of art of which very few examples still exist. Handcrafted using quill, brush and compass, the stunning knot seen below was written in 1801 by an itinerant Quaker schoolmaster named Hugh Pugh - then aged 54, approximately - and sent to one of his pupils, 20-year-old Mary Fisher. Its various geometric shapes are filled and surrounded by poetic messages in Pugh's copperplate script, and can be read fully, in any order, by rotating the paper.

Click image to enlarge. Image and subsequent transcript supplied by Meg Schultz, great-great-great granddaughter to the letter's recipient, Mary Fisher. Visit her blog for more background information. Enormous thanks, Meg.


Image: Meg Schultz

Transcript
(INTERWOVEN TRAIL, BEGINNING WITH LARGE CAPITAL 'A' ON LEFT-HAND SIDE)

A true Lovers Knot to thee my Dear I send, An Emblem of true Love without an end, Crossing turning, winding in and out, Never ceasing turning round about. And as thee sees its Linkes and Crosses here, so hath thy Beauty prov'd to me a Snare, By observation of true Love I find I am bereaved of both ♥ and mind.

Most lovely fair one look with pity down, And do not on thy faithful Lover frown, But pardon him who ever doth thy Love desire, And ever will thy Beauteous form admire.

Therefore thou Lovely fair one let thy Beauty shine, With Beams of Comfort ravishing and divine, That so my raving Soul may by thy Love, Pass into Bliss if we both constant prove, Then shall these Crosses in this Knot of Love, Be all disdain'd if thou consenting prove.

Here is an Impression of my ♥ thee may see, Within this Knot that I present, to thee, Therefore thee may imagine that I am in grief, And none but thee can yield to me Relief, My ravished Soul doth ever long to see, The Marriage Knot so firmly ty'd between thee and me.

(TOP CENTRE CIRCLE)

Why do I Love, go ask
the Alerious Sun
Why every Day he around the World doth run
Ask Thames and Tiber why they Ebb and flow
Ask Damask Roses why in June the grow.
They shew to us how everything doth move
Thus teaching them to that, and me
to Love.
Mary Fisher
Bedford County Decem'r 9th
1801

(RIGHT CIRCLE)

There is but one
And only one
And I am only he
That loves but one
And only one
And thou art the only she
Requite me with like love again
And say thus unto me —
There is but one, And only one
And thou art the only he.
Mary Fisher

(BOTTOM CENTRE CIRCLE)

Accept lovely fair Maid
From thy neighbor and friend
Each wish that can friendship endear
May the bounty of Heaven propitiously endear
Long Life and Happy each Year.
May every enjoyment which prudence allow
Thy Life Long continue to Bless —
May Love and Esteem
Weave a Wreath for thy Brow
And thy Beauty be crown'd with Success.
Mary Fisher

(LEFT CIRCLE)

As soon grief shall
sink into my ♥
2CUX my Love without desert (?)
You have a ♥, a double ♥, I fear.
2 great a X of ♥ oh ♥ forbear
AX, AX, ICUB,
A double XU are to me.

H Pugh [Monogram]

This Ring is round
And hath no end
So is my Love
To thee my Friend
Mary Fisher

(DIAGONAL RECTANGLE, TOP LEFT)

Here I dare venture with my Love a lot (?)
In Half an Hour she does not read my Knot

(DIAGONAL RECTANGLE, TOP RIGHT)

And if she wins I'll freely pay my Debt,
But if she loses the I'll claim my Bett.

(DIAGONAL RECTANGLE, BOTTOM RIGHT)

As for description, A begins thee will find,
E Ends the same, be constant in thy mind.

(DIAGONAL RECTANGLE, BOTTOM LEFT)

Lovers well know what it is to part,
When between 2 Lovers there is but one ♥

H Pugh [Monogram]

(8 SMALL OUTER BOXES)

My ♥ you have
Your ♥ I crave

My ♥ you have
Confin'd

And leaves all other
Hearts behind.

(4 TINY CORNER DIAGONAL BOXES)

If thou refuse me

I must say
thou art

An unconstant
Creature

With a double ♥