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Produced by Clare Graham




The Etiquette of Engagement and Marriage

Describing Modern Manners and Customs of Courtship and Marriage, and
giving Full Details regarding the Wedding Ceremony and Arrangements


By G.R.M. Devereux
Author of "Etiquette for Women," etc, etc.


First published January 1903

This etext prepared from the reprint of March 1919 published by C.
Arthur Pearson Ltd., Henrietta Street London and printed by Neill
and Co. Ltd., Edinburgh.



LIST OF CONTENTS

PAGE

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS 13

CHAPTER I
THE BEGINNINGS OF COURTSHIP - FAVOURABLE OPPORTUNITIES - INTELLECTUAL
AFFINITY - ARTISTIC FELLOWSHIP - ATHLETIC COMRADESHIP - AMATEUR
ACTING - SOCIAL INTERCOURSE - DIFFERENT IDEAS OF ETIQUETTE 16

CHAPTER II
INTRODUCTIONS - RECOGNITION OF AFFINITY, OR LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT - HOW TO
FOLLOW UP AN ACQUAINTANCE - KINDLY OFFICES OF RELATIONS AND
FRIENDS 21

CHAPTER III
INTERCOURSE BETWEEN UNCONFESSED LOVERS - THE QUESTION OF
PRESENTS - EXCHANGE OF HOSPITALITY - THE MAN WHO LIVES AT HOME - THE MAN
IN ROOMS 25

CHAPTER IV
INTERCOURSE WITH (1) THE HOME GIRL; (2) THE BACHELOR GIRL; (3) THE
BUSINESS GIRL; (4) THE STUDENT OR PROFESSIONAL GIRL - FRIENDS WHO
BECOME LOVERS 30

CHAPTER V
FLIRTS, MALE AND FEMALE - HE CHANGES HIS MIND ON THE VERGE OF A
PROPOSAL - HOW SHE ACCEPTS THE SITUATION - HOW SHE MAY GIVE
ENCOURAGEMENT OR WARD OFF AN UNWELCOME OFFER 36

CHAPTER VI
THE QUESTION OF AGE - YOUNG LOVERS - YOUNG MEN WHO WOO MATURITY - OLD MEN
WHO COURT YOUTH - MIDDLE-AGED LOVERS 41

CHAPTER VII
PROPOSALS: PREMEDITATED, SPONTANEOUS, PRACTICAL, OR ROMANTIC - NO RULE
POSSIBLE - TACT WANTED IN CHOICE OF OPPORTUNITY - UNSEEMLY HASTE AN
INSULT TO A WOMAN - KEEN SENSE OF HUMOUR DANGEROUS TO SENTIMENT - SOME
THINGS TO AVOID - VAGUELY WORDED OFFERS - WHEN SHE MAY TAKE THE
INITIATIVE 46

CHAPTER VIII
ENGAGEMENTS - THE ATTITUDE OF PARENTS AND GUARDIANS - MAKING IT KNOWN IN
THE FAMILY, TO OUTSIDE FRIENDS - CONGRATULATIONS - THE CHOICE AND GIVING
OF THE RING - MAKING ACQUAINTANCE WITH FUTURE RELATIONS-IN-LAW,
PERSONALLY OR BY LETTER 51

CHAPTER IX
HIS VISITS TO HER HOME - THE ENGAGED COUPLE IN PUBLIC - IN
SOCIETY - VISITING AT THE SAME HOUSE - -GOING ABOUT TOGETHER,
ETC. - THE QUESTION OF EXPENSES 56

CHAPTER X
LOVE-LETTERS - LONG OR SHORT ENGAGEMENTS - BROKEN
ENGAGEMENTS - CLANDESTINE ENGAGEMENTS - JUSTIFIABLE IN CERTAIN
CASES - WHERE THE MOTHER SHARES THE SECRET - FRIENDS WHO ACT AS
GO-BETWEEN 60

CHAPTER XI
FOREIGN ETIQUETTE OF ENGAGEMENTS - BETROTHAL MUCH MORE SERIOUS THAN IN
ENGLAND 65

CHAPTER XII
MARRIAGE - FIXING THE DAY - PREPARATIONS - SELECTING THE BRIDESMAIDS AND
THEIR DRESSES - BUYING THE WEDDING-GOWN - THE
TROUSSEAU - INVITATIONS 71

CHAPTER XIII
WEDDING PRESENTS - CHOOSING AND FURNISHING THE HOUSE - WHAT THE
BRIDEGROOM SUPPLIES - THE BRIDE'S SHARE IN THE MATTER 77

CHAPTER XIV
THE NATURE OF THE CEREMONY, RELIGIOUS OR CIVIL - BANNS OR
LICENSE - LEGAL FORMALITIES - SETTLEMENTS, ETC. 81

CHAPTER XV
THE WEDDING-DAY - WHAT IS EXPECTED OF (1) THE BRIDE; (2) THE
BRIDESMAIDS; (3) THE BRIDEGROOM; (4) THE BEST MAN; (5) THE BRIDE'S
PARENTS - AT THE BRIDE'S HOUSE - DRESSING - STARTING FOR THE
CHURCH - THE TYING OF THE KNOT - SOCIAL ASPECT - RECEPTION OR
BREAKFAST 86

CHAPTER XVI
THE GUESTS - THE WEDDING PRESENTS ON VIEW - STARTING FOR THE
HONEYMOON - DRESS AND LUGGAGE - WHERE TO GO AND HOW LONG TO
STAY - INEVITABLE TEST OF TEMPERAMENT - POSSIBLE DISAPPOINTMENTS AND
DISILLUSION, PASSING OR PERMANENT 92

CHAPTER XVII
THE RETURN HOME - A PLUNGE INTO THE PRACTICAL - HOUSEKEEPING - WEDDING
CALLS - THE NEWLY-MARRIED COUPLE AT HOME AND IN SOCIETY 97

CHAPTER XVIII
MIXED MARRIAGES - DIFFERENCES OF COLOUR, NATIONALITY, AND
RELIGION - SCOTCH MARRIAGES - MARRIAGE OF MINORS AND WARDS IN
CHANCERY 102

CHAPTER XIX
FOREIGN ETIQUETTE OF MARRIAGE - VARIOUS CUSTOMS 107

CHAPTER XX
RUNAWAY MATCHES - RE-MARRIAGE OF WIDOWS AND WIDOWERS - THE
CHILDREN - THE HOME - DRESS - COMPARISONS 113

CHAPTER XXI
MARRYING FOR LOVE; FOR MONEY; FOR A HOME; FOR A
HOUSEKEEPER - CONCLUDING REMARKS 117

INDEX 121




{13}

THE ETIQUETTE OF ENGAGEMENT AND MARRIAGE


INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

The word _Courtship_ has an old-world sound about it, and carries the
mind back to the statelier manners of bygone days. Nowadays we have no
leisure for courtly greetings and elaborately-turned compliments. We
are slackening many of the old bonds, breaking down some of the old
restraint, and, though it will seem treason to members of a past
generation to say it, we are, let us hope, arriving at a less
artificial state of things.

During the march of civilisation Marriage and the circumstances that
lead up to it have undergone many and wonderful changes, though the
deep-seated fundamental idea of having a mate has remained unaltered
in essence.

Just as the savage of to-day steals or fights for his dusky bride, so
did our own rude forefathers of past ages look to rapine and the sword
as the natural means of procuring the mate who was to minister to
their joys and necessities.

As the Chinese girl of the twentieth century is bought by her husband
like a piece of furniture or a cooking utensil, so the child bride of
ancient Rome used to take a formal farewell of her dolls and
playthings, making a solemn offering of them to the Gods, before she
was sold to the husband who was legally entitled to beat her if he
liked, she being nothing but his slave in the eyes of the law.

We have travelled far since then, and it would be impossible even to
touch upon the main points of development that have {14} placed
Engagement and Marriage upon their present footing amongst us. It is
to be noted that no two countries have moved quite side by side in this
matter. We find the written and unwritten laws which regulate the conduct
of man to woman different to some extent in every land, and what would be
an act of courtesy in one country would be regarded as a serious breach
of etiquette in another.

No one has made a clean sweep of all the old formalities; there are
still certain things which may and may not be done; and it is for this
reason that a few hints on this ever new, ever-engrossing subject of
Courtship and Marriage may be found helpful to those who are
contemplating the most important step in the life of man or woman.

We are very free and easy now in England, though not quite as
unconventional as they are on the other side of the Atlantic. We have
abolished a great many of the false barriers erected by Mrs. Grundy or
her predecessors, which kept young men and women from enjoying each
other's society in an innocent, natural way. Of course there is no
gain without a certain amount of loss, and while we have advanced in
freedom we have retrograded in chivalry, deference, and courtesy.

The girl who daily meets a man on common ground in his business or his
sport is not regarded by him with the same "distant reverence" which
the devout lover of former days cherished for the lady of his heart.
Perhaps as we are but human beings it is as well that we are more
natural, and less given to idealise our beloved. Women are no longer
brought up in the belief that it is a disgrace not to get married, and
a still greater disgrace to show the least sign of being anxious to
fulfil their destiny. Every normally-minded woman who is honest with
herself must confess to her own heart - even if to no other - that
marriage rightly understood is the life for which she was intended,
and the one in which she would find the highest, purest happiness. If,
however, the right man fails to appear, she can make herself very
happy. She does not think that each man of her acquaintance is
desirous to marry her, or that a ten minutes' _tête-à-tête_ will
expose her to the risk of a proposal.

As things go now men and women in England have abundant opportunities
for seeing and knowing each other before linking their lives together.
This freedom of intercourse, {15} however, is fettered here and there
by what we call Etiquette, which varies considerably in the different
scales of social life. The coster may have less ceremony in his wooing
and wedding than the nobleman; the royal prince is hedged in by
formalities unknown to the middle classes; but in every rank there are
accepted traditions, written and unwritten rules, to which men and
women must submit if they will be self-respecting, law-abiding
citizens.




{16}

CHAPTER I


_The Beginnings of Courtship - Favourable Opportunities - Intellectual
Affinity - Artistic Fellowship - Athletic Comradeship - Amateur
Acting - Social Intercourse - Different Ideas of Etiquette._


Who can fix the exact time at which Courtship begins? It may or may
not be preceded by Love; it may coincide with the birth of the tender
passion; it may possibly be well in advance of Cupid's darts; or, sad
to say, it may be little more than the prelude to a purely business
transaction.


Opportunities.

Men and women meet each other on very varied planes, and each walk in
life has its own opportunities. The intellectually minded may begin
their courtship over musty books or choice editions, and advanced
students will make love as ardently as a country maid and her rustic
lover. A dry mathematical problem may be as good a medium for the
lover as a nosegay or a verse of poetry.


A Love of the Arts

implies an emotional element that lends itself to love-making. Music
is responsible for a great deal. The passion of the love-song, the
pathos of the composer so easily become the language of the
interpreter, when love is in the heart.


Athletic Comradeship.

The fascinations of Art are more sensuous than the vigorous, breezy
pleasures of outdoor pursuits. For healthy-minded love-making this
comradeship yields golden opportunities. {17} The outdoor pair may not
look so sentimental as the artistic couple; but their hearts may be
as tender and their love as true, though their hands meet over the
mending of a tyre or the finding of a tennis ball instead of being
clasped in the ecstasy born of sweet sounds.


Amateur Acting.

I know of an Amateur Dramatic Society that has been nicknamed the
Matrimonial Club from the number of marriages that have taken place
among the members. This amusement does pave the way for courtship, for
in no other are the conventionalities so completely set aside for the
time being. Those who have thus been brought together in make-believe
are not always anxious to resume formal relations. Acting affords
priceless opportunities.


Making up his Mind.

Now when a man has made up his mind that he wants to marry a certain
girl, he emerges from the indefinite stage of observation, admiration,
or flirtation, and begins to make his intentions known. In view of the
impossibility of a universal law of etiquette, it may be said that the
remarks in these pages apply to that largest section of society known
as the middle classes.

When a man is in a position to marry, he should be especially careful
not to single out a girl by his attentions if he does not intend to
propose to her, for the way in which his conduct is regarded will be
greatly influenced by his banking account, and one with a small income
and smaller prospects may do things with impunity that a man in more
affluent circumstances could not do without the risk of having a
serious construction put upon them.


"Ineligibles."

I once heard a very rich young man bewail his fate on this score. He
said: "A fellow with only a hundred a year gets all the fun. He can
talk to any nice girl he likes as much as he likes, and nothing is
said, because people know he can't marry. But if you have a little
money (_his_ ran into thousands) {18} they say you're engaged the
second time you're seen with a lady!"

This may sound mercenary, but after all it is only practical. When it
is known that a man neither is nor is likely to be in a position to
marry, parents encourage his visits to the house, or permit his
attentions to their daughters, at their own risk. Not that lack of
means will prevent falling in love - far from it! When parents think
marriage impossible they sometimes give opportunities to an
_ineligible_, and then are aggrieved at his making good use of them.

There are many things to be considered at the beginning of courtship.
Much must depend upon the family of the lady.


Social Intercourse.

In a household where there is neither father nor brother on the scene
a man must walk warily. He is sure to be chaffed about any special
intimacy with such a family, and even well-meant chaff sometimes
spoils a situation. A woman who has no grown-up son, and has lost, or
is temporarily separated from, her husband, will do well to avoid any
undue eagerness in cultivating masculine society. She should exercise
her own intuition, and extend a cordial, unaffected welcome to such
men as she thinks suitable friends, or possible husbands, for her
daughters. She should be equally careful to eschew any sign of
match-making intrigue or narrow-minded suspicion. If she is the right
sort of mother the men will probably find in her a charming companion
and valuable friend.

It is most essential that girls who have been mainly brought up under
feminine influences should have ample and varied opportunities of
learning something about the other sex, by personal intercourse,
before there is any question of their marriage. If this is not done it
will be found that they generally fall a prey to the first suitor who
comes along. They have formed unreal, impossible, and often foolish
ideas about men, and are unable to distinguish the tares from the
wheat. A girl with brothers or men friends is far more likely to make
a wise choice than one who has formed her ideas from heroes of
fiction.

Where a man is introduced by the son of the house, his path is on
smoother ground. As "Charlie's chum" he has a {19} perfectly reasonable
and innocent excuse for his frequent visits, even though Charlie may
receive a minimum of his attention. On the other hand, fathers and
brothers are not always aids to courtship. They hold different views
about the man to those of their womenkind, and _may_ make things
unpleasant for all parties. A man can soon establish himself as a sort
of oracle in a feminine circle, and has countless chances of making
himself useful to the ladies. He may have to consider the proprieties
a little more, but then he is master of the situation, with none of
his own kind to point out the weak joints in his armour.


Tact.

A tactful suitor will be courteous to every member of his sweetheart's
family. He will not for a moment let it be thought that he considers
her the only one worthy of his notice. Even younger brothers and
sisters are preferable as allies, and it will make the whole position
much pleasanter if he is liked by her own people. He will especially
make it his business to stand well with her parents. By prettily
filial attentions to Mollie's mother his cause will be materially
strengthened, and though the young lady may grudge the time he spends
in discussing politics or stocks and shares with her father, her own
common sense will tell her that it is a very good investment for the
future. Moreover, a really nice-minded girl would never tolerate a man
who was discourteous to her parents, however flattering his attitude
might be to herself.


A Breach of Etiquette.

When a girl is staying with friends, no man should pay his addresses
to her unknown to her hostess or against that lady's wishes. It is
better to end a visit than to abuse hospitality. The hostess is
responsible to her visitor's parents for the time being, and the
lovers should consider her position. Whatever social or domestic
restrictions may stand between a man and the woman he wishes to woo,
he must pay a certain regard to them for her sake, if not for his own.
No two households are regulated by the same code in the smaller
details of etiquette.

{20} In one family old-world notions of decorum prevail, and the lover
will want self-restraint and prudence; in another the law of liberty
reigns supreme, and the young people do pretty much as they like. In
such a circle the lover's presence will be taken for granted - one more
or less does not matter - and courtship is made easy. Man being by
nature a hunter who values his spoils in proportion to the dangers and
difficulties overcome in the chase, is not always so keen to secure
the quarry that costs the least effort, so the free and easy parents
often find that their daughters remain unmarried.




{21}

CHAPTER II

_Introductions - Recognition of Affinity, or Love at First Sight - How to
Follow up an Acquaintance - Kindly Offices of Relations and Friends._


Introductions.

There are definite laws of etiquette in the matter of introductions. A
man has seen the lady once, or, it may be, has watched her from a
distance with longing eyes for months past. He may not make himself
known to her without the aid of a third person, who should first
ascertain whether his acquaintance will be agreeable to the object of
his admiration. It may happen that the gods will send him some lucky
chance of rendering her a timely service. He might rescue her dog from
a canine street fray, pick up a trinket she had dropped, or, better
still, like the people in novels, travel with her on a long journey
and prove himself a tactful cavalier. Under any of these circumstances
the ice would be broken, and possibly an informal introduction would
take place. It ought, however, to be supplemented by more regular
proceedings before any recognised intercourse is possible.

A girl is not supposed to ask for an introduction to a man,
but - low be it spoken - she often does; not publicly, of course, but
she simply confides in her married lady friend or favourite brother,
neither of whom would naturally give her away.

A man ought not to haunt a girl whose acquaintance he wishes to make.
There is a wide margin between accepting invitations to houses, or
turning up opportunely at parties where he may expect to meet her, and
walking obtrusively past her house several times a day, or shadowing
her out shopping and at public places of amusement. A very young girl
{22} might think this romantic, though youth is terribly matter-of-fact
nowadays. Her elders would certainly consider it rude, and put him
down as a man to be avoided. An elderly sentimental spinster would be
in a flutter. A level-headed girl would think him a bore, if not a bit
of a fool.


Love at First Sight.

This seems a very large order, for love means so much. That there is
often a wondrous _recognition of affinity_, a sort of flash from soul
to soul kindling the desire for closer union, is undeniable. A man
suddenly sees the one whom he resolves to win for his wife. A woman
realises that she has found the man of all others to whom she would
gladly give herself. This is not love; it is but the herald that goes
before the king.

Opinions on the subject of marrying one's first love are much divided,
and one has rather to beg the question by saying that it is mainly a
matter of temperament. The age at which you begin falling in love has
also to be taken into account. A modern writer gives it as his opinion
that "A wise man will never marry his first love, for he knows that
matrimony demands as much special attention as any of the learned
professions. Unqualified amateurs swell the lists of the divorce
court."


The Man's Case.

It may be taken for granted that the man who has some experience of
women and their ways makes a better lover than one who knows nothing
of them. Love may supply him with essentials, but only practice can
perfect details. A man of five-and-twenty may be supposed to know his
own mind.


The Girl's Case.

The girl in her teens who gives her love and herself may find full
satisfaction in her marriage; but blind self-confidence and impulsive
inexperience may lay up a store of sorrow for the future. No man is
wise to hurry a young girl into marriage.


{23}

How to follow up an Acquaintance.

Once the introduction is over it remains mainly with the man to make
the most of his advantages. He obtains permission to call; and it is
not a bad plan to allow a short interval to elapse before availing
himself of the privilege. He must not seem neglectful, but may wait
just long enough to give the lady time to think about him, to wonder,
to wish, to long for his coming. He will be careful not to transgress
any detail of etiquette in this his first call, but he will not leave
without having made some distinct advance, having found some pretext
for a less formal visit. He will convey to her in a subtle, meaning
manner that the sun will not shine for him till he sees her again.


Her Family.

He will find out what interests her people. He will bring her father
rare cuttings for his garden, or introduce him to a choice brand of
cigars. He will lend her mother books, sing or recite at her pet
charity entertainments, or even make a martyr of himself at
flower-shows and bazaars. He will bring designs for her sister's
wood-carving, or teach small Tommy to ride a bicycle.

As to the lady of his heart, he will begin by sharing her pursuits
only as a means to an end, for when love-making once steps in other
pursuits are neglected, if not totally shelved, for the time being.
This transition stage requires great tact. He must not startle her by
too sudden a development. Some women may like to be taken by storm, to
be married by capture as it were, but the average girl likes to have
time to enjoy being wooed and won. She basks in the gradual unfolding
of his love; she rejoices over each new phase of their courtship; she
lingers longingly on the threshold of her great happiness. She is
intoxicated by the sense of her own power; she is touched by the
deference which curbs his ardour.


Kindly Offices of Relations and Friends.

Outsiders can often make or mar a possible marriage. When the third
person undertakes to introduce two people in a case {24} where even a
one-sided attraction is supposed to exist, no remark should be made
about it. The lady friend who tells a girl that a man "is very much
taken with her," strikes a fatal blow at the unconscious grace with
which the girl would otherwise have received him. The blundering
brother who blurts out: "My sister says that girl's awfully gone on
you, old chap!" probably makes his chum fight shy of the girl, or
indulge in a little fun at her expense. It should be remembered that a
nearer acquaintance does not always confirm impressions formed at a
distance.

A sister who will discreetly play the part of Number Three is
invaluable. A brother who will bring the man home to dinner, or
arrange cycling expeditions, is a treasure. The aunt who gives dances
or river parties just when he has his holiday is inestimable. The
uncle who has a fancy for stage managing, and casts the two for the
lovers' parts in a charmingly unconscious fashion, is a relation worth
having. Married friends on either side can afford many extra and
delightful opportunities of meeting. While thus smoothing the path of
love, all obtrusive allusion to the suspected or recognised state of
things should be carefully avoided. It is an unpardonable breach of
etiquette for any one to draw attention to the movements of a couple
by a laugh, a nod, or a wink which, though not intended to reach them,
gives frequent rise to unpleasant situations. Her friends should guard
against anything savouring of a husband-trap; his friends should avoid
any indication that they look upon her as his lawful prey.

There should be no questionable chaff or talking at the possible
lovers. Older people who have forgotten how tender their own
sensibilities once were are rather fond of cracking jokes, and make
tactless, pointed remarks. The old friend of the family who slaps the
prospective suitor on the back, and in the lady's presence challenges
him to kiss her under the mistletoe, only succeeds in making them both
uncomfortable. The elderly relative who nods her cap, saying: "Oh yes,
we know all about it! We were young ourselves once!" probably has the
best intentions, but has chosen the worst way of showing them.




{25}

CHAPTER III

_Intercourse between Unconfessed Lovers - The Question of
Presents - Exchange of Hospitality - The Man who lives at Home - The Man
in Rooms._


Unconfessed Lovers.

There is a fascinating, yet withal tormenting, insecurity in the


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