love letter to philadelphia

To the lovely and amiable Eloisa, from her constant lover and friend, Arnando

In 1809-1810, a young Quaker man named Arnando, living in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote a series of love letters to his sweetheart, Eloisa Pole. Twelve of these letters are preserved in the Todd A. Herring collection. Two are sampled here.

Dearly Beloved Girl, O lovely Girl how sweet the rosy kisses of thy heart. To me they burn my heart with loves sweet fire and make me think no pleasure equal to that of being in thy arms, no nothing on Earth can give me this same pleasure. Nothing can give me the least satisfaction but thee. How Insipid how foolish doth every other fair appears compared to thee. To thee who is the perfect Image of love & perfection thee was brought up in the nursery of love. Thy heart formed of love o sweetest heart. I am now supremely happy Because I know the loves me with a constant heart. What shall I say. How shall I still deserve thy love. I will yield my self to thee who has conquered my heart yes and I will love thee with the hole of that heart. I will love thee till death. Farewell my dearest till we meet again. I am thy faithful lover & truest friend. Arnando 

 To Miss E. Pol  Write tomorrow dearest. I am fraid thee will get a lecture for tearing thy Gound [gown?] which will not I know make thee uneasy but it will make me as I’m affraid to hear thy name told altho it is the dearest name to me in the world. Arnando  

I went over to your house to give this to thee but thee was sitting sewing with Grandmother and Mary. I waited but thee would not come out so I come home but still I wished I longed to see thee. Please to excuse bad writing.

Dearest Girl, How shall I ever be able to requite thy uncommon Goodness. Tell o tell me. What shall I give - if Love - if Friendship - if my all and every thing I can give will pay - thee shall be paid. O delightful Love. O dearest Friendship. It was thee that first raised those sentiments in my breast. It was thee that first caused me to Love. It was thee that I first Loved. Last night when I came home, I thought I would try and break myself from thee, try and kill this passion of Love. For I was affraid I only troubled thee. I was affraid thee did not Love me. But o this heart of mine could not keep its resolution - no - when morning came, my flame came also. When I saw thee my soul was again on fire. I thought could I take our parting kiss one last embrace, I could leave thee - but no - it would only make me love thee more. Ever day I love thee more. Farwell Dearest Girl. Write tomorrow. I am still thy Constant Lover and Friend Arnando.  

To the Lovly & Amiable Eloisa. 

Do not tear up any more but send them. Never mind how there wrote.

Beautiful. (Love Letter to Philadelphia by ESPO)

While on my trip to Philadelphia, I primarily used my iPhone to document the trip (check out my instagram feed for those photos– SakiWaki); but there were a select few images I took with my Nikon. 

The entire Love Letter to Philly experience was both inspirational and heart-felt. Not only because of the words and wordplay Steve Powers ESPO used, but because West Philadelphia has this treasure amidst the decay and neglect. And yeah, I didn’t even know about the project (from 2009!!)– until I’d found this hidden RIP dedication that contained ESPO’s signature and then the familiar typography was confirmed. My future machine (iPhone) confirmed that this had clearly gone over my head. LOVED IT!


A love letter from Philadelphia. 

“We knew you before the world did.”