Posted by Jessamyn on July 13, 1997 at 13:28:42:
In reply to Re: courting posted by Julia on July 13, 1997 at 09:15:23
] ] How long were you exspected to court someone before marrage?
] I don't know that there are any real guidelines. The couple usually waited until they had the parents' approval, and then they had to spread the news around their social circle. And then it was the matter of scheduleing with your vicer. But speedy proceedings like the Rushworths' and the Collins' were not uncommen, either.
] Am I way off?
I think it was just however long it took for both parties to show a decided preference.
It's interesting to look at Persuasion, wherein Captain Wentworth starts spending a lot of time with the Musgroves; he seems to like both Musgrove girls, and after a few weeks the family members are arguing over which girl he's going to marry. A few weeks more, when he's shown a preference for Louisa, everybody's wondering why he doesn't "come to the point" (that is, propose).
Furthermore, a few weeks beyond that, Wentworth realizes two things: 1) he doesn't love Louisa; 2) everyone thinks he does because of his actions. This is where it gets weird: although he doesn't love her, as a gentleman he feels obligated to marry her if she wishes it, because he's led her on. In other words, making somebody think you're going to propose to them is almost as binding as actually doing it.
That's why everybody considers Emma so ill-used when Frank Churchill turns out to be engaged to someone else. Women were supposed to be able to practically bank on an engagement when a preference was displayed toward them.
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