Do you know that one of the oldest love letters could be traced back to more than 5000 years ago in Indian mythology?
Princess Rukmini wrote a letter to King Krishna and it was carried by one of her messenger.
Fast forward to the 21st century with advanced technology, people hardly write love letters to express their feelings to their significant others anymore.
Since Valentine’s day is around the corner, let us look back at some hundreds-year-old love letters which are more romantic than your K-drama romance:
1.Napolean Bonaporte to his first wife Josephine de Beauharnais
Here is one of the earliest love letters French and political leader Napolean wrote to his wife which was translated by Henry Fuljambe Hall in 1901 from the original French:
Marmirolo, July 17, 1796
“I got your letter, my beloved; it has filled my heart with joy. I am grateful to you for the trouble you have taken to send me news; your health should be better to-day — I am sure you are cured. I urge you strongly to ride, which cannot fail to do you good.
Ever since I left you, I have been sad. I am only happy when by your side. Ceaselessly I recall your kisses, your tears, your enchanting jealousy; and the charms of the incomparable Joséphine keep constantly alight a bright and burning flame in my heart and senses.
When, free from every worry, from all business, shall I spend all my moments by your side, to have nothing to do but to love you, and to prove it to you? I shall send your horse, but I am hoping that you will soon be able to rejoin me.
I thought I loved you some days ago; but, since I saw you, I feel that I love you even a thousand times more. Ever since I have known you, I worship you more every day; which proves who false is the maxim of La Bruyère that “Love comes all at once.” Everything in nature has a regular course, and different degrees of growth.
Ah! pray let me see some of your faults; be less beautiful, less gracious, less tender, and, especially less kind; above all never be jealous, never weep; your tears madden me, fire my blood. Be sure that it is no longer possible for me to have a thought except for you, or an idea of which you shall not be the judge.
Have a good rest. Haste to get well. Come and join me, so that, at least, before dying, we could say — “We were happy for so many days!!
Napolean sent many love letters to Josephine when they courted and some were quite sexual.
As romantic as this letter may sound, both Napolean and Josephine had affairs with other people while they were together.
Plus, imagine a man telling her to be less beautiful and less kind today, a 21st century woman might answer, “How could you?”
2.Ludwig van Beethoven to an unidentified ‘Immortal Beloved’ (1812)
Good morning, on 7 July
Even in bed my ideas yearn towards you, my Immortal Beloved, here and there joyfully, then again sadly, awaiting from Fate, whether it will listen to us. I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all.
Yes, I have determined to wander about for so long far away, until I can fly into your arms and call myself quite at home with you, can send my soul enveloped by yours into the realm of spirits — yes, I regret, it must be.
You will get over it all the more as you know my faithfulness to you; never another one can own my heart, never — never!
O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W. as it is now is a miserable life. Your love made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time. At my actual age I should need some continuity, sameness of life — can that exist under our circumstances?
Angel, I just hear that the post goes out every day — and must close therefore, so that you get the L. at once. Be calm — love me — today — yesterday.
What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved
The story behind the mysterious letter
Today, this German composer and pianist is known as one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music.
After Beethoven passed away in March 1827, his assistant discovered a hidden drawer. Inside, he found some pictures, money and letters.
One of the letters was written in pencil spread over 10 small pages, addressed to his ‘immortal beloved’.
Many historians believed that Beethoven never had the chance to send the letter, while others believed that he actually did send a copy of the letter to his secret lover.
The identity of Beethoven’s ‘Immortal Beloved’ remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in musical history.
3. 500 years ago, a pregnant Korean woman wrote a letter to her dead husband, leaving it on his grave
To Won’s Father
June 1, 1586
You always said, ‘Dear, let’s live together until our hair turns grey and die on the same day. How could you pass away without me? Who should I and our little boy listen to and how should we live? How could you go ahead of me?
How did you bring your heart to me and how did I bring my heart to you?
Whenever we lay down together you always told me,
‘Dear, do other people cherish and love each other like we do? Are they really like us?’
How could you leave all that behind and go ahead of me? I just cannot live without you.
I just want to go to you. Please take me to where you are. My feelings toward you.
I cannot forget in this world and my sorrow knows no limit. Where would I put my heart in now and how can I live with the child missing you?
Please look at this letter and tell me in detail in my dreams. Because I want to listen to your saying in details in my dreams I write this letter and put it in. Look closely and talk to me.
When I give birth to the child in me, who should it call father? Can anyone fathom how I feel? There is no tragedy like this under the sky.
You are just in another place, and not in such a deep grief as I am. There is no limit and end (to my sorrows) that I write roughly. Please look closely at this letter and come to me in my dreams and show yourself in detail and tell me. I believe I can see you in my dreams and show yourself in detail and tell me. I believe I can see you in my dreams.
Come to me secretly and show yourself. There is no limit to what I want to say and I stop here.”
The story behind the letter to Won’s father
Written by a grief-stricken pregnant woman, this letter was found on top of a mummified body of a man in Andong city, South Korea.
There were 13 letters altogether addressed to a man named Eung-tae, who is presumed to be in the tomb.
The letter was discovered and translated in 2000. Little is known about the author of the letter but thanks to the well-preserved mummy, more is known about her husband.
Archeologists believe that Eung-tae was a member of Korea’s ancient Goseong Yi clan.
Standing at 175cm (5’8″), Eung-tae was considered taller than most Korean men during his time.
However, his cause of death and age remains unknown.
This Valentine’s day, stay at home and have your pick of any of these Korean dramas.