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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Family, People and Relationships

Boy Love

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -


Boy LoveOne of the queerest and funniest things to think of in after life, is boy love. No sooner does a boy acquire a tolerable stature than he begins to imagine himself a man, and to ape mannish ways. He casts side glances at all the tall girls he may meet, becomes a regular attendant at church or meeting, carries a cane, holds his head erect, and struts a little in his walk. Presently, and how very soon, he falls in love; yes, falls in the proper word, because it best indicates his happy, delirious, self-abasement. He lives now in a fairy region, somewhat collateral to the world, and yet blended somehow inextricably with it. He perfumes his hair with fragrant oils, scatters essences over his handkerchief, and desperately shaves and anoints for a beard. He quotes poetry in which “love” and “dove” and “heart” and “dart” peculiarly predominate; and he plunges deeper in the delicious labyrinth, fancies himself filled with the divine afflatus, and suddenly breaks into a scarlet rash – of rhyme. He feeds upon the looks of his beloved; is raised to the seventh heaven if she speaks a pleasant word; is betrayed into the most astonishing ecstasies by a smile; and is plunged into the gloomiest regions of misanthropy by a frown. He believes himself the most devoted lover in the world. There never was such another. There never will be. He is the one great idolater! He is the very type of magnanimity and self-sonecation. Wealth! He despises the grovelling thought. Poverty, with the adorable beloved, he rapturously apostrophizes as the first of all earthly blessings; and “love in a cottage, with water and a crust,” is his beau-ideal paradise of dainty delights. He declares to himself, with the most solemn emphasis, that he would go through fire and water; undertake a pilgrimage to China or Kamschatka; swim storm-tossed oceans; scale impassable mountains, and face legions of bayonets, for but one sweet smile from her dear lips. He dotes upon a flower she has cast away. He cherishes her glove – a little worn in the fingers – next to his heart. He sighs like a locomotive letting off steam. He scrawls her dear name over quires of foolscap – a sitting medium for his insanity. He scornfully deprecates the attention of other boys of his own age; cuts Peter Tibbets dead because he said that the adorable Angelina had carroty hair; and passes Harry Bell contemptuously for daring to compare “that gawky Mary Jane” with his uncomparable Angelina. Happy! Happy! Foolish boy love! With its joys, and its hopes, and its fears; its sorrows, it jealousies, and its delights; its raptures, and its tortures; its ecstatic fervours and terrible heart-burnings; its solemn ludicrousness and its intensely prosaic termination.