Amidst work, going to a wedding and everything else that happened this past weekend, I managed to squeeze in something special. After dating for just over six years, I proposed to Miss L. I won't go into the full details, but we had dinner in Annapolis, walked down to the waterfront and I popped the question in a somewhat quiet spot along the water. It wasn't a surprise at all---we've been talking about it for months, so when I said we were going somewhere nice for dinner and it wasn't a special occasion it was pretty obvious. I must have done ok, though, because she said yes.
One of the growing trends these days is for the woman to give the man gift after the proposal. I've read everything from plasma tv's to ipods, but when Miss L asked me I told her it should be something more permanent and personal than that, but I didn't want jewelry. So when we got back to her apartment Miss L lit some candles and handed me a wrapped package. I opened it, intensely curious to find out what she picked for a gift. Inside I found a book, an old volume bound in worn leather. After opening to the title page, I found this:
The book holds a mixture of articles, criticism, fiction and poetry. I noticed familiar names like HW Longfellow and Mary Spencer as well as crazy pictures like these:
Finally, on page 257, I found the reason for her choice:
After a little research, I've learned that Graham's Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine was a Philly based journal known for mixing articles on art and fashion and including new works of short fiction and poetry for many writers of the day. At the time, it was one of the highest paying markets in the U.S. Poe himself worked as editor for the journal for a little over a year, and used the journal to publish and promote both his own work and work by others that he admired (Longfellow, Dickens, etc). Its pages were the first to publish Poe works like "A Descent into the Maelstrom", "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and yes, "The Mask of Red Death".
Not exactly romantic by today's meaning of the term, it does show how well Miss L knows me. It's a wonderful choice for a gift, especially since "Masque" or "Mask" as it's called here is one of my favorite Poe stories. I've always thought about collecting old books. A couple of years ago my grandpa gave me an early printing of a collection of Ambrose Bierce stories. Placed together, the two volumes make a nice start to a collection. Hopefully Miss L and will be able to add to it as the years go by.