“A Merry Christmas” (1887) from Glances Backward

The following is an excerpt from Glances Backward: An Anthology of American Homosexual Writing, 1830-1920, edited by James J. Gifford. This anthology brings together in one volume a broad selection of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century American writings about gay male love, including love stories, Westerns, ghostly tales, poetry, drama, essays, letters, and memoirs.

We have chosen a touching selection illustrating a loving relationship to celebrate the holidays.

Some indications of homosexual feelings of past times occasionally surface, quite unexpectedly, in surprising places. Coy Ludwig, a personal friend of mine and retired art professor (with expertise on Maxfield Parrish [1870–1966] 26), discovered this Christmas letter—written in careful cursive—totally by chance while rummaging through a Syracuse antiques shop in the 1970s and offered to share its contents for this anthology. In a different handwriting, apparently many years after the note had been sent, someone else had written “To Dad, from Bernard” on the envelope. There is no clue as to the identity of either man, or what the various relationships, long buried in the past, might be. The feelings such a carefully- written card conceal can only be guessed at by present-day readers. It reminds us that countless strong male–male relationships of the past have come and gone with no record of their existence.

“A Merry Christmas” (1887)

A Merry Christmas
and A
Happy New Year.
Dec 24th 1887.

Dear Ernest.

What ever betide,
No change of time
Can our true hearts divide.
If thou in me,
and I in thee
Shall trustingly confide.

your friend

Posted on December 18, 2018