Over at The Hairpin, Annalisa Grier shares some of the love letters her great-grandfather sent his wife during the Civil War. So much for the stereotype of the repressed 19th century man, this guy was in touch with his feelings.
A sample sentence:
“[I]f I should wander the United States over I would never forget you nor cease to love you. They might pass me by all the beautiful young Ladies in the universe and they would make no impression on me for my heart is irrecoverably lost and it is yours, for ever.”
If a guy ever sends me a text message that says something along the lines of “I think you’re cute,” using full capitalization and punctuation, I swoon for about a week. So it’s pretty safe to say that the standards for verbally communicating affection has decreased a bit since the 1860s. (Though I, too, recently had the opportunity to read a letter written by my Great-Grandfather to my Great-Grandmother, and found it disappointingly perfunctory. “Arrived at 10. Porter was late. So&So says hi. Trip uneventful.” etc etc.)