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I.--FIRST STEPS IN COURTSHIP.
It would be out of place in these pages to grapple with a subject so large as that of Love in its varied phases: a theme that must be left to poets, novelists, and moralists to dilate upon. It is sufficient for our purpose to recognize the existence of this the most universal--the most powerful--of human passions, when venturing to offer our counsel and guidance to those of both sexes who, under its promptings, have resolved to become votaries of Hymen, but who, from imperfect knowledge of conventional usages, are naturally apprehensive that at every step they take, they may render themselves liable to misconception, ridicule, or censure.
We will take it for granted, then, that a gentleman has in one way or another become fascinated by a fair lady--possibly a recent acquaintance--whom he is most anxious to know more particularly. His heart already feels "the inly touch of love," and his most ardent wish is to have that love returned.
At this point we venture to give him a word of serious advice. We urge him, before he ventures to take any step towards the pursuit of this object, to consider well his position and prospects in life, and reflect whether they are such as to justify him in deliberately seeking to win the young lady's affections, with the view of making her his wife at no distant period. Should he after such a review of his affairs feel satisfied that he can proceed honourably, he may then use fair opportunities to ascertain the estimation in which the young lady, as well as her family, is held by friends. It is perhaps needless to add, that all possible delicacy and caution must be observed in making such inquiries, so as to avoid compromising the lady herself in the slightest degree. When he has satisfied himself on this head, and found no insurmountable impediment in his way, his next endeavour will be, through the mediation of a common friend, to procure an introduction to the lady's family. Those who undertake such an office incur no slight responsibility, and are, of course, expected to be scrupulously careful in performing it, and to communicate all they happen to know affecting the character and circumstances of the individual they introduce.
We will now reverse the picture, and see how matters stand on the fair one's side.
First let us hope that the inclination is mutual; at all events, that the lady views her admirer with preference, that she deems him not unworthy of her favourable regard, and that his attentions are agreeable to her. It is true her heart may not yet be won: she has to be wooed; and what fair daughter of Eve has not hailed with rapture that brightest day in the springtide of her life? She has probably first met the gentleman at a ball, or other festive occasion, where the excitement of the scene has reflected on every object around a roseate tint. We are to suppose, of course, that in looks, manner, and address, her incipient admirer is not below her ideal standard in gentlemanly attributes. His respectful approaches to her--in soliciting her hand as a partner in the dance, &c.--have first awakened on her part a slight feeling of interest towards him. This mutual feeling of interest, once established, soon "grows by what it feeds on." The exaltation of the whole scene favours its development, and it can hardly be wondered at if both parties leave judgment "out in the cold" while enjoying each other's society, and possibly already pleasantly occupied in building "castles in the air." Whatever may eventually come of it, the fair one is conscious for the nonce of being unusually happy. This emotion is not likely to be diminished when she finds herself the object of general attention--accompanied, it may be, by the display of a little envy among rival beauties--owing to the assiduous homage of her admirer. At length, prudence whispers that he is to her, as yet, but a comparative stranger; and with a modest reserve she endeavours to retire from his observation, so as not to seem to encourage his attentions. The gentleman's ardour, however, is not to be thus checked; he again solicits her to be his partner in a dance. She finds it hard, very hard, to refuse him; and both, yielding at last to the alluring influences by which they are surrounded, discover at the moment of parting that a new and delightful sensation has been awakened in their hearts.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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, &c. 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 unmistakeable; 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!"
Should her demeanour be decidedly discouraging, any perseverance on his part would be ungentlemanly and highly indecorous. 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 connections; 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 nowise 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.
II.--ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP.
In whatever way the attachment may have originated, whether resulting from old association or from a recent acquaintanceship between the lovers, we will assume that the courtship is so far in a favourable train that the lady's admirer has succeeded in obtaining an introduction to her family, and that he is about to be received in their domestic circle on the footing of a welcome visitor, if not yet in the light of a probationary suitor.
In the first case, matters will in all probability be found to amble on so calmly, that the enamoured pair may seldom find it needful to consult the rules of etiquette; but in the latter, its rules must be attentively observed, or "the course of true love" will assuredly not run smooth.
If the gentleman be a person of good breeding and right feeling, he will need no caution from us to remember that, when he is admitted into the heart of a family as the suitor of a daughter, he is receiving one of the greatest possible favours that can be conferred on him, whatever may be his own superiority of social rank or worldly circumstances; and that, therefore, his conduct should be marked by a delicate respect towards the parents of his lady-love. By this means he will propitiate them in his favour, and induce them to regard him as worthy of the trust they have placed in him.
Young people are naturally prone to seek the company of those they love; and as their impulses are often at such times impatient of control, etiquette prescribes cautionary rules for the purpose of averting the mischief that unchecked intercourse and incautious familiarity might give rise to. For instance, a couple known to be attached to each other should never, unless when old acquaintances, be left alone for any length of time, nor be allowed to meet in any other place than the lady's home--particularly at balls, concerts, and other public places--except in the presence of a third party. This, as a general rule, should be carefully observed, although exceptions may occasionally occur under special circumstances; but even then the full consent of the lady's nearest relatives or guardians should be previously obtained.
_What the Lady should observe during Courtship_.
A lady should be particular during the early days of courtship--while still retaining some clearness of mental vision--to observe the manner in which her suitor comports himself to other ladies. If he behave with ease and courtesy, without freedom or the slightest approach to licence in manner or conversation; if he never speak slightingly of the sex, and be ever ready to honour its virtues and defend its weakness; she may continue to incline towards him a willing ear. His habits and his conduct must awaken her vigilant attention before it be too late. Should he come to visit her at irregular hours; should he exhibit a vague or wandering attention--give proofs of a want of punctuality--show disrespect for age--sneer at things sacred, or absent himself from regular attendance at divine service--or evince an inclination to expensive pleasures beyond his means, or to low and vulgar amusements; should he be foppish, eccentric, or very slovenly in his dress; or display a frivolity of mind, and an absence of well-directed energy in his worldly pursuits; let the young lady, we say, while there is yet time, eschew that gentleman's acquaintance, and allow it gently to drop. The effort, at whatever cost to her feelings, must be made, if she have any regard for her future happiness and self-respect. The proper course then to take is to intimate her distaste, and the causes that have given rise to it, to her parents or guardian, who will be pretty sure to sympathise with her, and to take measures for facilitating the retirement of the gentleman from his pretensions.
_What the Gentleman should observe during Courtship_.
It would be well also for the suitor, on his part, during the first few weeks of courtship, carefully to observe the conduct of the young lady in her own family, and the degree of estimation in which she is held by them, as well as amongst her intimate friends. If she be attentive to her duties; respectful and affectionate to her parents; kind and forbearing to her brothers and sisters; not easily ruffled in temper; if her mind be prone to cheerfulness and to hopeful aspiration, instead of to the display of a morbid anxiety and dread of coming evil; if her pleasures and enjoyments be those which chiefly centre in home; if her words be characterised by benevolence, goodwill, and charity: then we say, let him not hesitate, but hasten to enshrine so precious a gem in the casket of his affections. But if, on the other hand, he should find that he has been attracted by the tricksome affectation and heartless allurements of a flirt, ready to bestow smiles on all, but with a heart for none; if she who has succeeded for a time in fascinating him be of uneven temper, easily provoked, and slow to be appeased; fond of showy dress, and eager for admiration; ecstatic about trifles, frivolous in her tastes, and weak and wavering in performing her duties; if her religious observances are merely the formality of lip service; if she be petulant to her friends, pert and disrespectful to her parents, overbearing to her inferiors; if pride, vanity, and affectation be her characteristics; if she be inconstant in her friendships; gaudy and slovenly, rather than neat and scrupulously clean, in attire and personal habits: then we counsel the gentleman to retire as speedily but as politely as possible from the pursuit of an object quite unworthy of his admiration and love; nor dread that the lady's friends--who must know her better than he can do--will call him to account for withdrawing from the field.
But we will take it for granted that all goes on well; that the parties are, on sufficient acquaintance, pleased with each other, and that the gentleman is eager to prove the sincerity of his affectionate regard by giving some substantial token of his love and homage to the fair one. This brings us to the question of
a point on which certain observances of etiquette must not be disregarded. A lady, for instance, cannot with propriety accept presents from a gentleman _previously_ to his having made proposals of marriage. She would by so doing incur an obligation at once embarrassing and unbecoming. Should, however, the gentleman insist on making her a present--as of some trifling article of jewellery, &c.,--there must be no secret about it. Let the young lady take an early opportunity of saying to her admirer, in the presence of her father or mother, "I am much obliged to you for that ring (or other trinket, as the case may be) which you kindly offered me the other day, and which I shall be most happy to accept, if my parents do not object;" and let her say this in a manner which, while it increases the obligation, will divest it altogether of impropriety, from having been conferred under the sanction of her parents.
We have now reached that stage, in the progress of the courtship where budding affection, having developed into mature growth, encourages the lover to make
When about to take this step, the suitor's first difficulty is how to get a favourable opportunity; and next, having got the chance, how to screw his courage up to give utterance to the "declaration." We have heard of a young lover who carried on a courtship for four months ere he could obtain a private interview with his lady-love. In the house, as might be expected, they were never left alone; and in a walk a third party always accompanied them. In such a dilemma, ought he to have unburdened his heart of its secret through the medium of a letter? We say not. A declaration in writing should certainly be avoided where the lover can by any possibility get at the lady's ear. But there are cases where this is so difficult that an impatient lover cannot be restrained from adopting the agency of a _billet-doux_ in declaring his passion.
The lady, before proposal, is generally prepared for it. It is seldom that such an avowal comes without some previous indications of look and manner on the part of the admirer, which can hardly fail of being understood. She may not, indeed, consider herself engaged; and, although nearly certain of the conquest she has made, may yet have her misgivings. Some gentlemen dread to ask, lest they should be refused. Many pause just at the point, and refrain from anything like ardour in their professions of attachment until they feel confident that they may be spared the mortification and ridicule that is supposed to attach to being rejected, in addition to the pain of disappointed hope. This hesitation when the mind is made up is wrong; but it does often occur, and we suppose ever will do so, with persons of great timidity of character. By it both parties are kept needlessly on the fret, until the long-looked-for opportunity unexpectedly arrives, when the flood-gates of feeling are loosened, and the full tide of mutual affection gushes forth uncontrolled. It is, however, at this moment--the agony-point to the embarrassed lover, who "doats yet doubts"--whose suppressed feelings render him morbidly sensitive--that a lady should be especially careful lest any show of either prudery or coquetry on her part should lose to her for ever the object of her choice. True love is generally delicate and timid, and may easily be scared by affected indifference, through feelings of wounded pride. A lover needs very little to assure him of the reciprocation of his attachment: a glance, a single pressure of hand, a whispered syllable on the part of the loved one, will suffice to confirm his hopes.
_Refusal by the Young Lady_.
When a lady rejects the proposal of a gentleman, her behaviour should be characterised by the most delicate feeling towards one who, in offering her his hand, has proved his desire to confer upon her, by this implied preference for her above all other women, the greatest honour it is in his power to offer. Therefore, if she have no love for him, she ought at least to evince a tender regard for his feelings; and, in the event of her being previously engaged, should at once acquaint him with the fact. No right-minded man would desire to persist in a suit when he well knew that the object of his admiration has already disposed of her heart.
When a gentleman makes an offer of his hand by letter, the letter must be answered, and certainly not returned, should the answer be a refusal; unless, indeed, when, from a previous repulse, or some other particular and special circumstances, such an offer may be regarded by the lady or her relatives as presumptuous and intrusive. Under such circumstances, the letter may be placed by the lady in the hands of her parents or guardian, to be dealt with by them as they may deem most advisable.
No woman of proper feeling would regard her rejection of an offer of marriage from a worthy man as a matter of triumph: her feeling on such an occasion should be one of regretful sympathy with him for the pain she is unavoidably compelled to inflict. Nor should such, a rejection be unaccompanied with some degree of self examination on her part, to discern whether any lightness of demeanour or tendency to flirtation may have given rise to a false hope of her favouring his suit. At all events, no lady should ever treat the man who has so honoured her with the slightest disrespect or frivolous disregard, nor ever unfeelingly parade a more favoured suitor before one whom she has refused.
_Conduct of the Gentleman when his Addresses are rejected_.
The conduct of the gentleman under such distressing circumstances should be characterised by extreme delicacy and a chivalrous resolve to avoid occasioning any possible annoyance or uneasiness to the fair author of his pain. If, however, he should have reason to suppose that his rejection has resulted from mere indifference to his suit, he need not altogether retire from the field, but may endeavour to kindle a feeling of regard and sympathy for the patient endurance of his disappointment, and for his continued but respectful endeavours to please the lukewarm fair one. But in the case of avowed or evident preference for another, it becomes imperative upon him, as a gentleman, to withdraw at once, and so relieve the lady of any obstacle that his presence or pretensions may occasion to the furtherance of her obvious wishes. A pertinacious continuance of his attentions, on the part of one who has been distinctly rejected, is an insult deserving of the severest reprobation. Although the weakness of her sex, which ought to be her protection, frequently prevents a woman from forcibly breaking off an acquaintance thus annoyingly forced upon her, she rarely fails to resent such impertinence by that sharpest of woman's weapons, a keen-edged but courteous ridicule, which few men can bear up against.
_Refusal by the Lady's Parents or Guardians_.
It may happen that both the lady and her suitor are willing; but that the parents or guardians of the former, on being referred to, deem the connection unfitting, and refuse their consent. In this state of matters, the first thing a man of sense, proper feeling, and candour should do, is to endeavour to learn the objections of the parents, to see whether they cannot be removed. If they are based on his present insufficiency of means, a lover of a persevering spirit may effect much in removing apprehension on that score, by cheerfully submitting to a reasonable time of probation, in the hope of amelioration in his worldly circumstances. Happiness delayed will be none the less precious when love has stood the test of constancy and the trial of time. Should the objection be founded on inequality of social position, the parties, if young, may wait until matured age shall ripen their judgment and place the future more at their own disposal. A clandestine marriage should be peremptorily declined. In too many cases it is a fraud committed by an elder and more experienced party upon one whose ignorance of the world's ways and whose confiding tenderness appeal to him for protection even against himself. In nearly all the instances we have known of such marriages, the results proved the step to have been ill-judged, imprudent, and highly injurious to the reputation of one party, and in the long run detrimental to the happiness of both.
III--ETIQUETTE OF AN ENGAGEMENT.
We will now regard the pair of lovers as formally engaged, and bound together in that state of approximation to marriage which was in the ancient Christian Church, and indeed is still in many countries of Europe, considered in a very sacred light, little inferior to, and, in fact, regarded as a part of, marriage itself--the Betrothment.
_Conduct of the Engaged Couple_.
The conduct of the bridegroom-elect should be marked by a gallant and affectionate assiduity towards his lady-love--a _devouement_ easily felt and understood, but not so easy to define. That of the lady towards him should manifest delicacy, tenderness, and confidence; while looking for his thorough devotion to herself, she should not captiously take offence and show airs at his showing the same kind of attention to other ladies as she, in her turn, would not hesitate to receive from the other sex.
In the behaviour of a gentleman towards his betrothed in public, little difference should be perceptible from his demeanour to other ladies, except in those minute attentions which none but those who love can properly understand or appreciate.
In private, the slightest approach to indecorous familiarity must be avoided; indeed, it is pretty certain to be resented by every woman who deserves to be a bride. The lady's honour is now in her lover's hands, and he should never forget in his demeanour to and before her that that lady is to be his future wife.
It is the privilege of the betrothed lover, as it is also his duty, to give advice to the fair one who now implicitly confides in him. Should he detect a fault, should he observe failings which he would wish removed or amended, let him avail himself of this season, so favourable for the frank interchange of thought between the betrothed pair, to urge their correction. He will find a ready listener; and any judicious counsel offered to her by him will now be gratefully received and remembered in after life. After marriage it may be too late; for advice on trivial points of conduct may then not improbably be resented by the wife as an unnecessary interference: now, the fair and loving creature is disposed like pliant wax in his hands to mould herself to his reasonable wishes in all things.
_Conduct of the Lady during her Betrothal_.
A lady is not expected to keep aloof from society on her engagement, nor to debar herself from the customary attentions and courtesies of her male acquaintances generally; but she should, while accepting them cheerfully, maintain such a prudent reserve, as to intimate that they are viewed by her as mere acts of ordinary courtesy and friendship. In all places of public amusement--at balls, the opera, &c.--for a lady to be seen with any other cavalier than her avowed lover in close attendance upon her would expose her to the imputation of flirtation. She will naturally take pains at such a period to observe the taste of her lover in regard to her costume, and strive carefully to follow it, for all men desire to have their taste and wishes on such apparent trifles gratified. She should at the same time observe much delicacy in regard to dress, and be careful to avoid any unseemly display of her charms: lovers are naturally jealous of observation under such circumstances. It is a mistake not seldom made by women, to suppose their suitors will be pleased by the glowing admiration expressed by other men for the object of _their_ passion. Most lovers, on the contrary, we believe, would prefer to withdraw their prize from general observation until the happy moment for their union has arrived.
_Conduct of the Gentleman towards the Family of his Betrothed_.
The lover, having now secured his position, should use discretion and tact in his intercourse with the lady's family, and take care that his visits be not deemed too frequent--so as to be really inconvenient to them. He should accommodate himself as much as possible to their habits and ways, and be ever ready and attentive to consult their wishes. Marked attention, and in most cases affectionate kindness, to the lady's mother ought to be shown: such respectful homage will secure for him many advantages in his present position. He must not, however, presume to take his stand yet as a member of the family, nor exhibit an obtrusive familiarity in manner and conversation. Should a disruption of the engagement from some unexpected cause ensue, it is obvious that any such premature assumption would lead to very embarrassing results. In short, his conduct should be such as to win for himself the esteem and affection of all the family, and dispose them ever to welcome and desire his presence, rather than regard him as an intruder.
_Conduct of the Lady on Retiring from her Engagement_.
Should this step unhappily be found necessary on the lady's part, the truth should be spoken, and the reasons frankly given: there must be no room left for the suspicion of its having originated in caprice or injustice. The case should be so put that the gentleman himself must see and acknowledge the justice of the painful decision arrived at. Incompatible habits, ungentlemanly actions, anything tending to diminish that respect for the lover which should be felt for the husband; inconstancy, ill-governed temper--all which, not to mention other obvious objections--are to be considered as sufficient reasons for terminating an engagement. The communication should be made as tenderly as possible: room may be left in mere venial cases for reformation; but all that is done must be so managed that not the slightest shadow of fickleness or want of faith may rest upon the character of the lady. It must be remembered, however, that the termination of an engagement by a lady has the privilege of passing unchallenged,--a lady not being _bound_ to declare any other reason than her will. Nevertheless she owes it to her own reputation that her decision should rest on a sufficient foundation, and be unmistakably pronounced.
_Conduct of the Gentleman on Retiring from his Engagement_.
We hardly know how to approach this portion of our subject. The reasons must be strong indeed that can sufficiently justify a man, placed in the position of an accepted suitor, in severing the ties by which he has bound himself to a lady with the avowed intention of making her his wife. His reasons for breaking off his engagement must be such as will not merely satisfy his own conscience, but will justify him in the eyes of the world. If the fault be on the lady's side, great reserve and delicacy will be observed by any man of honour. If, on the other hand, the imperative force of circumstances, such as loss of fortune, or some other unexpected calamity to himself, may be the cause, then must the reason be clearly and fully explained, in such a manner as to soothe the painful feelings which such a result must necessarily occasion to the lady and her friends. It is scarcely necessary to point out the necessity for observing great caution in all that relates to the antecedents of an engagement that has been broken off; especially the return on either side of presents and of all letters that have passed.
This last allusion brings us to the consideration of
Letter-writing is one great test of ability and cultivation, as respects both sexes. The imperfections of education may be to some extent concealed or glossed over in conversation, but cannot fail to stand out conspicuously in a letter. An ill-written letter infallibly betrays the vulgarity and ignorance indicative of a mean social position.
But there is something more to be guarded against than even bad writing and worse spelling in a correspondence: _saying too much_--writing that kind of matter which will not bear to be read by other eyes than those for which it was originally intended. That this is too frequently done is amply proved by the love letters often read in a court of law, the most affecting passages from which occasion "roars of laughter" and the derisive comments of merry-making counsel. Occurrences of this kind prove how frequently letters are not returned or burnt when an affair of the heart is broken off. Correspondence between lovers should at all events be tempered with discretion; and, on the lady's part particularly, her affectionate expressions should not degenerate into a silly style of fondness.
It is as well to remark here, that in correspondence between a couple not actually engaged, the use of Christian names in addressing each other should be avoided.
_Demeanour of the Suitor during Courtship_.
The manners of a gentleman are ever characterized by urbanity and a becoming consideration for the feelings and wishes of others, and by a readiness to practise self-denial. But the very nature of courtship requires the fullest exercise of these excellent qualities on his part. The lover should carefully accommodate his tone and bearing, whether cheerful or serious, to the mood for the time of his lady-love, whose slightest wish must be his law. In his assiduities to her he must allow of no stint; though hindered by time, distance, or fatigue, he must strive to make his professional and social duties bend to his homage at the shrine of love. All this can be done, moreover, by a man of excellent sense with perfect propriety. Indeed, the world will not only commend him for such devoted gallantry, but will be pretty sure to censure him for any short-coming in his performance of such devoirs.
It is, perhaps, needless to observe that at such a period a gentleman should be scrupulously neat, without appearing particular, in his attire. We shall not attempt to prescribe what he should wear, as that must, of course, depend on the times of the day when his visits are paid, and other circumstances, such as meeting a party of friends, going to the theatre, &c., with the lady.
_Should a Courtship be Short or Long_?
The answer to this question must depend on the previous acquaintanceship, connection, or relationship of the parties, as well as on their present circumstances, and the position of their parents. In case of relationship or old acquaintanceship subsisting between the families, when the courtship, declaration, and engagement have followed each other rapidly, a short wooing is preferable to a long one, should other circumstances not create an obstacle. Indeed, as a general rule, we are disposed strongly to recommend a short courtship. A man is never well settled in the saddle of his fortunes until he be married. He wants spring, purpose, and aim; and, above all, he wants a _home_ as the centre of his efforts. Some portion of inconvenience, therefore, may be risked to obtain this; in fact, it often occurs that by waiting too long the freshness of life is worn off, and that the generous glow of early feelings becomes tamed down to lukewarmness by a too prudent delaying; while a slight sacrifice of ambition or self-indulgence on the part of the gentleman, and a little descent from pride of station on the lady's side, might have ensured years of satisfied love and happy wedded life.
On the other hand, we would recommend a long courtship as advisable when--the friends on both sides favouring the match--it happens that the fortune of neither party will prudently allow an immediate marriage. The gentleman, we will suppose, has his way to make in his profession or business, and is desirous not to involve the object of his affection in the distressing inconvenience, if not the misery, of straitened means. He reflects that for a lady it is an actual degradation, however love may ennoble the motive of her submission, to descend from her former footing in society. He feels, therefore, that this risk ought not to be incurred. For, although the noble and loving spirit of a wife might enable her to bear up cheerfully against misfortune, and by her endearments soothe the broken spirit of her husband; yet the lover who would wilfully, at the outset of wedded life, expose his devoted helpmate to the ordeal of poverty, would be deservedly scouted as selfish and unworthy. These, then, are among the circumstances which warrant a lengthened engagement, and it should be the endeavour of the lady's friends to approve such cautious delay, and do all they can to assist the lover in his efforts to abridge it. The lady's father should regard the lover in the light of another son added to his family, and spare no pains to promote his interests in life, while the lady's mother should do everything in her power, by those small attentions which a mother understands so well, to make the protracted engagement agreeable to him, and as endurable as possible to her daughter.
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