“Ne m’oubliez pas – forget-me-not”
Held within the George Boole Papers at UCC Library there is a letter (BP/1/267) from an unidentified former student from Doncaster recounting a Valentine’s Day incident which resulted in Boole composing a short verse, “Ne m’oubliez pas” as a response to the occasion. The text of the letter is as follows:
“During the second half year he was with us I received a valentine, a very common place affair, sent by two young ladies one of them a Preacher’s daughter as I learned afterwards but at the time suspected to be from a Miss Walker, sister of one mutual friend, J.B. Merriman, Esq. M.A., Fellow of St. Johns and now Professor in the University of Toronto, Canada. Their grandmother with whom they resided kept a confectioners shop. At the bottom of the sheet on which the Valentine was written were the words “Ne m’oubliez pas”.
“I asked Mr. Boole to put his rhyming talents which I knew were considerable into requisition in a reply. I regret that I have some years since lost the copy of it, I preserved it for a length of time but only remember scraps of the three verses which I write on the next sheet. It was never sent to the lady and I was glad of it because she was totally ignorant of the course of it; but it serves to show the facility in which Mr. Boole possessed of extemporaneous rhyme.”
“Reply to a Valentine “Ne m’oubliez pas”
Wearied with the jarring noise,
Of five and forty stupid Boys;
When my patience just was spent,
Three sweet words in pity sent,
Bid my bewildered senses shine
“Ne m’oubliez pas”, Valentine.”
Happy Valentine’s day from George Boole!
For information on events celebrating George Boole’s Bicentenary throughout 2015 please visit http://georgeboole.com/. To read more about this letter and others from the archive, visit The Papers of George Boole http://georgeboole.ucc.ie/.
(Extracts taken from BP/1/267(2) & BP/1/267(3) George Boole Papers, UCC Library).