On Courtship and Matrimony Part 2

Ah so young love springs eternal!

At a juncture so critical in the life of a young inexperienced woman as that when she begins to form an attachment for one of the opposite sex at a moment when she needs the very best advice accompanied with a considerate regard for her overwrought feelings the very best course she can take is to confide the secret of her heart to that truest and most loving of friends her mother.

and who do we turn to for sound advice on matters of the heart?

Well not your parents in most cases, maybe a sibling but more than likely your friends who have little or no experience as well!!

Fortunate is the daughter who has not been deprived of that wisest and tenderest of counsellors whose experience of life, whose prudence and sagacity, whose anxious care and appreciation of her child’s sentiments, and whose awakened recollections of her own trysting days, qualify and entitle her above all other beings to counsel and comfort her trusting child, and to claim her confidence. Let the timid girl then pour forth into her mother’s ear the flood of her pent-up feelings. 

Friends in many ways have become family, some times even closer. Now that’s hardly surprising in today’s society where families are so fragmented as opposed to being the centre of community.

Let her endeavour to distrust her own judgment, and seek hope, guidance, and support from one who, she well knows, will not deceive or mislead her. The confidence thus established will be productive of the most beneficial results by securing the daughter’s obedience to her parent’s advice, and her willing adoption of the observances prescribed by etiquette, which, as the courtship progresses, that parent will not fail to recommend as strictly essential in this phase of life. Where a young woman has had the misfortune to be deprived of her mother, she should at such a period endeavour to find her next best counsellor in some female relative, or other trustworthy friend.

Again a trustworthy friend, these are a rare breed in my experience. Trust comes only over a number of years and experience…it’s far too easy to be let down by the people we trust and to find out they are pretenders but back to courting…

We are to suppose that favourable opportunities for meeting have occurred, until, by-and-by, both the lady and her admirer have come to regard each other with such warm feelings of inclination as to have a constant craving for each other’s society. Other eyes have in the meantime not failed to notice the symptoms of a growing attachment; and some “kind friends have, no doubt, even set them down as already engaged. The admirer of the fair one is, indeed, so much enamoured as to be unable longer to retain his secret within his own breast; and, not being without hope that his attachment is reciprocated, resolves on seeking an introduction to the lady’s family preparatory to his making a formal declaration of love. 

Ah a formal declaration of love…it could be none more romantic really. It usually involved:

a formal statement by a plaintiff specifying the facts and circumstances constituting his or her cause of action.

For example, from Mr Darcy to Miss Elizabeth Bennett

“You must know, surely you must know, it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I’d scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I would have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love… I love… I love you. And I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.” – Spoken by Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Bit of a mouthful really when one hasn’t even had so much as a peck on the cheek but there is a certain charm about it!

But surprisingly after all that…

It is possible, however, that the lover’s endeavours to procure the desired introduction may fail of success, although, where no material difference of social position exists, this difficulty will be found to occur less frequently than might at first be supposed. He must then discreetly adopt measures to bring himself in some degree under the fair one’s notice: such, for instance, as attending the place of worship which she frequents, meeting her, so often as to be manifestly for the purpose, in the course of her promenades, etc.. He will thus soon be able to judge even without speaking to the lady whether his further attentions will be distasteful to her. The signs of this on the lady’s part, though of the most trifling nature, and in no way compromising her, will be unmistakable ; for, as the poet tells us in speaking of the sex :

“He gave them but one tongue to say us “Nay, And two fond eyes to grant”

So it’s fine to be refused by the apple of your eye assuming her family also want you to be rejected. However…

Should her demeanour be decidedly discouraging, any perseverance on his part would be ungentlemanly and highly indecorous.

A clear and good piece of advice…if the lady in not interested do not chase her!

But, on the other hand, should a timid blush intimate doubt, or a gentle smile lurking in the half-dropped eye give pleasing challenge to further parley when possible, he may venture to write not to the lady that would be the opening of a clandestine correspondence, an unworthy course where every act should be open and straightforward, as tending to manly and honourable ends but, to the father or guardian, through the agency of a common friend where feasible ; or, in some instances, to the party at whose residence the lady may be staying. In his letter he ought first to state his position in life and prospects, as well as mention his family connection and then to request permission to visit the family, as a preliminary step to paying his addresses to the object of his admiration. By this course he in no wise compromises either himself or the lady ; but leaves open to both, at any future period, an opportunity of retiring from the position of courtship taken up on the one side, and of receiving addresses on the other, without laying either party open to the accusation of fickleness or jilting.

So the message from 1888 is be sensible and make sure you stick to societal manners and etiquette.


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