A Very Vintage Crap Email From A Dude


This CEFAD comes to us all the way from 1875, and the pen of one Lafcadio Hearn.

Lafcadio Hearn was something of a celebrity in his day: a popular translator, writer and sensationalist reporter who made headlines himself when he married Mattie Foley, a former slave. (The marriage was illegal at the time.) All of which may have captured the interest of Ellen Freeman, a matron who apparently inundated Hearn with letters and gifts, despite his polite coolness. However his response to what was apparently a photograph of the lady in a low-cut dress was anything but polite. Indeed, one can only call it…a CEFAD.

I do not like the picture at all, — in fact I cannot find words to express how much I dislike it.
You were never physically attractive to me; you are neither graceful nor beautiful, and you evidently know nothing of the laws or properties of beauty. Otherwise you could not have sent me such a picture, as it could only disgust me.
Whatever liking I have had for you, it has never been of such a character that I could be otherwise than disgusted by such a picture as that. It is unutterably coarse and gross and beefy. It is simply unendurable.
Not that I object to low dresses — or even to an utter absence of dress, when the unveiling reveals attractions which the eye of the artist loves as something shapely and beautiful. I have an instinctive and cultivated knowledge of what physical beauty is, and anything in direct violation of my taste and knowledge — like your picture, — simply sickens me. I have studied every limb and line in the bodies of fifty young women, and more; and know what form is and beauty is. You must not think me a fool. You are a fine woman in regard to health and strength; you are not a handsome or even a tolerably good looking woman physically, and your picture is simply horrible, horrible, horrible.
This is plain speaking; but I think it is necessary for you. You cannot make yourself physically attractive to me. Don’t try. I am an artist, a connoisseur, a student of beauty, and it is very hard to please me. Don’t disgust me, please —
Yours truly,
L. Hearn.

There’s no word on whether there was more to this correspondence, but we’re going to go with no. In any event, in 1890 Hearn moved to Japan, where he married a Japanese woman, became a citizen, and lived the rest of his days.

Lafcadio Hearn Begs “Don’t Disgust Me, Please —”
[The Morgan]
Lafcadio Hearn [Wikipedia]

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