This letter is held by the American Library of Congress. It dates from the 1850's, and whether the original version was genuine or contrived, it is a most delightful find. Do read the explanation at the bottom of this transcription to fully understand the true intention of the message.


The great love and tenderness I have hitherto expressed for you 
is false, and I now feel that my indifference towards you 
increases proportionably every day, and the more I see you 
the more I appear ridiculous, and an object of contempt, and
the more I feel disposed, inclined, and finally determined, to 
hate you. Believe me I never had the least inclination to 
offer you my hand and heart. Our last conversation has 
I assure you, left a wretched insipidity, which has be no means
possessed me with the most exalted opinion of your character. 
Yes, madam, and you will much oblige me by avoiding me. 
And if ever we are united, I shall experience nothing but the 
fearful hatred of my parents, added to an everlasting dis
pleasure of living with you. Yes, madam, I think sincerely. 
You need not put yourself to the smallest trouble or send or 
write me an answer ------ Adieu. And believe that I am 
so averse to you that it is really impossible I should ever be,
                                 Your affectionate lover till death.
                                                                               W. GOFF


There are two ways of reading it; the father compelled his daughter to show him all letters sent to her - the unsuspecting father reads straight forward, but the daughter having the clue, reads the first, third and fifth lines, and so on. Then the contrast will be discovered. 


  1. That is excellent! I wonder how often this kind of tactic was used.

  2. Hello CharmedLassie, I might try and use a similar ploy in some fiction.

  3. Love knows no locksmith.
    That line was written in the 1640's, and is as true now as it was then.

  4. Oh I love this now I've gone back and 'read between the lines.' It's so romantic!

  5. It is isn't it - and a great ploy!

  6. Brilliant, Essie. When I read it first, it depressed me. Then redemption. So clever!

  7. Wonderful and interesting! Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Brillant tactics !
    I have seen this sort of strategies on fiction too but they always let me wondering one thing : how do they know they have to read line one, the third, etc... to have the real meaning ? I don't know if it is because i'm less litterate than victorian people or just more stupid but without the explanation, I doubt to discover how to read the real proposal.
    Do people of these time was inspired by similar strategies in history or fiction ? Do they rely on context (He llove, so he can't say he hate me, so I have to read the letter in an another way) ? Or do they agree face-to-face on how to write and read their letter before ?
    If someone know something on this, I will be glad to know more

  9. ah, the days before social media. Or TV. Or radio.....

  10. Haha, very clever! I actually read an article recently on letter writing during the Victorian era and the article mentioned how Victorians loved to play with the letters and words.

    Tam May
    The Dream Book Blog

  11. Great post.thank you so much.Love this blog.

  12. Love your blog, thanks for sharing.

  13. Hi Essie, Would you mind if I reshared some of your content to my facebook page Rousseau History Project? I love illustrating the concepts in Victorian pianist, Sarah Rousseau's diary with vivid and entertaining clips like you've created.
    I'm also curious if you would have time to read and review Sarah's diary - especially considering you are well-versed in the habits and mindsets of the Victorian woman. Your perspective is very welcome. The title is The 1864 Diary of Mrs. Sarah Rousseau.

  14. How charming and how clever! I must say, I would simply love to be the recipient of a love-letter like that. And what a wonderful blog!