Thursday, May 15, 2008

No doubt there is such a thing as love at first sight, but love alone is a very uncertain foundation upon which to base marriage. There should be thorough acquaintanceship and a certain knowledge of harmony of tastes and temperaments before matrimony is ventured upon.

A gentleman whose thoughts are not upon marriage should not pay too exclusive attentions to any one lady. He may call upon all and extend invitations to any or all to attend public places of amusement with him, or may act as their escort on occasions, and no one of the many has any right to feel herself injured. But as soon as he neglects others to devote himself to a single lady he gives that lady reason to suppose he is particularly attracted to her, and there is danger of her feelings becoming engaged.

Neither should a young lady allow marked attention from any one to whom she is not especially attracted, for several reasons; one, that she may not do an injury to the gentleman in seeming to give his suit encouragement, another that she may not harm herself in keeping aloof from her those whom she might like better, but who will not approach her under the mistaken idea that her feelings are already engaged.

Some young ladies pride themselves upon the conquests which they make, and would not scruple to sacrifice the happiness of an estimable person to their reprehensible vanity. Let this be far from you. If you see clearly that you have become an object of especial regard to a gentleman and do not wish to encourage his addresses, treat him honorably and humanely, as you hope to be used with generosity by the person who may engage your own heart. Do not let him linger in suspense; but take the earliest opportunity of carefully making known your feelings on the subject. ... Let it never be said of you that you permit the attentions of an honorable man when you have no heart to give him; or that you have trifled with the affections of one whom perhaps you esteem, although you resolve never to marry him. It may be that his preference gratifies and his companionship interests you; that you are flattered by the attentions of a man whom some of your companions admire; and that, in truth, you hardly know your own mind on the subject. This will not excuse you. Every young woman ought to know the state of her own heart; and yet the happiness and future prospects of many an excellent man have been sacrificed by such unprincipled conduct.

It is a poor triumph for a young lady to say, or to feel, that she has refused five, ten or twenty offers of marriage; it is about the same as acknowledging herself a trifler and a coquette, who, from motives of personal vanity, tempts and induces hopes and expectations which she has predetermined shall be disappointed. Such a course is, to a certain degree, both unprincipled and

It is a still greater crime when a man conveys the impression that he is in love, by actions, gallantries, looks, attentions, all -- except that he never commits himself -- and finally withdraws his devotions, exulting in the thought that he has said or written nothing which can legally bind him.

Remember that if a gentleman makes a lady an offer, she has no right to speak of it. If she possesses either generosity or gratitude for offered affection, she will not betray a secret that does not belong to her. It is sufficiently painful to be refused, without incurring the additional mortification of being pointed out as a rejected lover.

Rejected suitors sometimes act as if they had received injuries they were bound to avenge, and so take every opportunity of annoying or slighting the helpless victims of their former attentions. Such conduct is cowardly and unmanly, to say nothing of its utter violation of good breeding.

It may be well to hint that a lady should not be too demonstrative of her affection during the days of her engagement. There is always the chance of a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip; and overt demonstrations of love are not pleasant to remember by a young lady if the man to whom they are given by any chance fails to become her husband. An honorable man will never tempt his future bride to any such demonstration. He will always maintain a respectful and decorous demeanor toward her.

No lover will assume a domineering attitude over his future wife. If he does so, she will do well to escape from his thrall before she becomes his wife in reality. A domineering lover will be certain to be still more domineering as a husband; and from all such the prayer of the wise woman is "Good Lord, deliver us!"

"Social Culture: A Treatise on Etiquette, Self-Culture, Dress, Physical Beauty and Domestic Relations," 1902, the King-Richardson Co., Springfield, Mass. This post was inspired by the continuing disintegration of the comic strip "For Better or For Worse."

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