Victorian women of dating age
The man who assisted in effecting a brother's ruin, is not a suitable partner for his sister; and a moment's reflection might have convinced you that your agency in the matter to which I allude, has earned for you, not the love, but the unchangeable dislike of..." "Sir.
-- There was a time when your addresses would have flattered and pleased me, but that time has long since passed away.
The short paragraph headed "Refusal on the grounds of dislike" is important information to a historian today for what it reveals about the life of men in 1879.
That such a letter was not absurd to include in a serious work is mute testimony to the number of young men who "failed" in the world. -- I am astonished at your temerity, or, rather, your impudence.
The lady writes to her future husband that the company he is keeping of late is "fast" and that his associates are "prejudicial to his future prospects" in business and also, since possessed of greater fortunes than has he, are luring him into a life beyond his means.
In all these letters we catch a glimpse of what was relatively new in America -- a young educated man with a living to earn, probably separated from his family and living on his own in a city.
Feminist ideas spread among the educated middle classes, discriminatory laws were repealed, and the women's suffrage movement gained momentum in the last years of the Victorian era.
In the Victorian era women were seen, by the middle classes at least, as belonging to the domestic sphere, and this stereotype required them to provide their husbands with a clean home, to put food on the table and to raise their children.
Near the end of the section there is generally one curt letter of refusal to a marriage proposal."The rules and suggestions for courtship and romance occupy most of the space in Victorian etiquette and letter writing books.-- Half a dozen good fellows, together with your humble servant, propose devoting a few hours on Wednesday evening to a little social chit-chat, etc., enlivened by the imbibitions of sundry bottles of wine. believe me, we shall have a right merry party."What course was left for the young man who had strayed?If he had acquired a taste for high living and the suitable young women were refusing his advances, perhaps he could find a wealthy widow.In nineteenth century America a young man was reared to look to his mother and sisters for moral guidance and away from these influences he was culturally unprepared to take a strong moral stand on his own.
As a "victim" of the new technology, the town worker had more leisure than had even his recent ancestors.When you can convince me that, in point of age, fortune, and morals, you are such a person as I can, without reproach, take for my husband, and constitute the guardian of my children, I shall cease to suspect, that motives not the most honorable have induced you to play the lover to a woman sufficiently old to be your mother.