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Victorian Murderesses - Yeah, NOW You Want to Read This

Do you ever have people whose stuff you read online and you're secretly like "If you knew me we would be BEST FRIENDS but for now I'm just going to quietly stalk you and not comment on your stuff because then I might go overboard and who wants that really certainly not me"?

Yeah, no, me neither.

So it's Friday. A scant 11 days until the dreaded end of January where book reading trends for the year will perhaps be set, and I STILL HAVE NOT FINISHED A BOOK. This is getting ridiculous. I did, however, start two more. Yes, I understand. But I like starting books. And I hate the middle of books. And I keep reaching the middle of books.

This is me today (and I suspect a number of you):


So blame the subject matter for today on that if you will.

This week I was on TruTV's site, reading about serial killers, as y'do, and when I got to the Scottish 'Bible John', there was a little paragraph discussing other Scottish killers. Among them was Madeleine Smith, who possibly (almost definitely) poisoned her ex-fiance with arsenic in 1857 when he threatened to expose her letters to him. According to the article, the letters, "when read aloud, caused a scandal in the Victorian courtroom."

How do you not then look those up?

After quite a bit of toil, but with my end goal in sight (i.e. pervy letters), I found them on a Harvard archive, located here. There are 149 of them, and DISAPPOINTMENT, very little raciness. Damn you, Victorians, and your easily shocked sensibilities!

What I found from wading through almost all of the letters, for I will put up with much to read Victorians writing about sex, was that the sentiment was overly effusive and generally disgusting. I mean, I knew this about the Victorian era, but as only the best novelists have been filtered down to us, I've almost never experienced it. Example:
Adieu dear love. I shall answer the rest of your letter again. Adieu sweet one of my soul, my own ever dear & ever beloved husband, much much love to you beloved pet. I am thy own true wife thy fond and ever devoted and loving, Mimi L'Angelier
This is to the guy she later dumps for someone richer, and then poisons. So I feel like she was perhaps not being COMPLETELY sincere. 

Here's the extent of the raciness: they write about how she didn't bleed after doing it (shut it, it's my blog, I'll refer to sex how I want), and how whoa, that was weird, but there must be some explanation; then how BAD they feel about having done it. This is probably the part that caused the Victorian courtroom to have apopolexy (from her to him, spelling strangeness intact -- keep in mind 'love' = sex):
Would you were beside me and I would fall asleep on your bosom dearest love. What would I not give to place my head on your breast kiss and fondel you – and then I am sure you would kindly love me – but some night I hope soon we may enjoy each other – what delightful happiness to be loved by a dear sweet husband – our love then shall be more than we shall be able to express.
Bow chicka bow wow. She does seem like a pretty terrible person from her letters. But she got let off with 'Not Proven,' which basically means "We're pretty sure you did it, but no one can prove you were around him when he got poisoned, so we CAN'T convict you."

I do want to say that there were precisely two sentences that made me have either one of those 'oh, what a lovely sentence' or 'connections across Time!' moments. They are: I often wish I could get a peep into futurity and This is such a cold horrid night -- the wind is howling -- and rain -- it makes me feel so sad.

THAT latter sentence makes me like her the slightest bit. But she poisoned a guy and that's not okay. So fie on you, Madeleine Smith.

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