"The Well-Mannered Courtship"
Posted by Lou on May 05, 1998 at 18:41:16:
While reading a Victoria Magazine, Feb. 1996, I came across a wonderful article entitled "The Well-Mannered Courtship", written by Sarah Kortum. The article revolves around quotes taken from various 19th century etiquette books. The following are excerpts taken from the article:
If today’s experts recommend that unmarried couples tell one another "everything," just the opposite approach, it seems, was taken earlier: A man and woman were instructed to protect themselves.
Disingenuousness and intrigue were the rules of the game. Set the stage carefully, warn the etiquette experts. Do not pop the question in a questionable locale: "Lovers would do well to remember that hedges have ears as well as stone walls."
Generally it was the young lady who selected the site and artfully maneuvered her gentleman caller out into the moonlight, under the trellis, where she hesitated beneath the trailing jasmine. "Women cannot make direct advances," explains one book, " but they use infinite tact in giving men occasions to make them."
The "proposal should be received by the lady with a due amount of real or feigned embarrassment," instructs one book, "and whilst acquiescing with coy and modest mien, it is well for the lady not to gasp out "yes" too quick, but allow a little time for the symphony of sentiment to soak in."
A lady’s first refusal need not be taken at face value, particularly "should a timid blush intimate doubt, or a gentle smile lurking in the half-dropped eye give pleasing challenge to further parley," hints one book, for this was an age where how something was said was often conveyed more than what was said. Only after a second refusal should a lovesick swain retire from the field. For a rejected suitor to loiter about, annoying or slighting the victim of his former attentions, was "cowardly and unmanly, to say nothing of its utter violation of good breeding." (Does this last line have "Mr. Collins" written all over it?)
"The etiquette in courtship is not to allow the young gentleman to kiss you until he has proposed marriage," advises one authority. Another expert, however, disagrees: "The prudent maiden should not allow her lover to kiss her even after their engagement. Not until after marriage should such a favor be granted."
Sarah Kortam is the author of "The Hatless Man: An Anthology of Odd & Forgotten Manners" (Viking)
Sounds like a book fun book, if you are interested in the manners of yesterday!
- In the manner of elegant females Marsha 21:21:34 5/12/98 (0)
- LOL Hesitating beneath the jasmine! Thanks! nfm Ann2 14:57:23 5/08/98 (0)
- Thanks Lou! Very interesting! nfm Tracy Y 20:07:24 5/06/98 (0)
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