Victorian London - Women - and courtship

    “They are as good as betrothed” said the Doctor, on his return. “Going for a day’s pleasure to Greenwich ; honest, decent people those. That’s what I like in English prudery, that it cares for trifles only. Take it all in all, and you will find that the state of affairs is more satisfactory here than it is in Germany. That girl’s father and mother—honest and decent people, I tell you—have no objection to her gadding about for whole days, and half the nights, too, under the protection of her sweetheart. They walk in the park, sit under the trees, talk of love, marriage, household affairs, Morrison’s pills, and other interesting subjects ; and while they talk, they eat cold beef and hot mustard. And the result is, an honest marriage, without dishonourable antecedents. In Germany, such excursions would be suspicious in the extreme. Where’s the prudery, I should like to know. Well, well,” said the Doctor, shaking his head, it ‘s the nature of the people.”
    “And of the tie,” said Mr. Baxter. “A white tie, and a black dress coat, kill all rakishness and scampishness, even in the most talented individuals. Choke a man with a white tie, squeeze him tight in a black coat, and he must needs be prudent, calculating, and respectable. He can’t help it. It's for that very reason I have exacted from my son, at Heidelberg, a vow that he will eschew white ties and black coats, at least, until he is married.”

Max Schlesinger, Saunterings in and about London, 1853

see also George Sala in Twice Round the Clock - click here


Song by a Lady of Fashion

DAUGHTERS to sell! Daughters to sell!
They cost more money than I can tell;
Their education has been first-rate;
What wealthy young nobleman wants a mate?
They sing like nightingales, play as well:
Daughters to sell! Daughters to sell!

Here's fine daughters, my daughters, oh! 
German, Italian, and French, they know,
Dance like Sylphides for grace and ease;
Choose out your partner, whichever you please.
Here's a nice wife for a rich young swell:
Daughters to sell! Daughters to sell!

Beautiful daughters, dark and fair!
Each a treasure to suit a millionnaire,
Or fit to pair with any duke's heir
At St. George's Church by Hanover Square.
Hoy! you that in lordly mansions dwell,
Daughters to sell! Daughters to sell!

Buy my dear daughters! Who wants a bride,
That can give her a carriage, and horses to ride,
Stand an opera-box for his fancy's queen,
And no end of acres of crinoline.
Ever new furniture, jewels and plate,
All sorts of servants upon her to wait;
Visits to Paris, Vienna. and Rome,
In short all that she's been brought up to at home.
Here are girls for your money - if out you can shell.
My daughters to sell! My daughters to sell!

Punch, July 6, 1861

see also Thomas Wright on courtship over Sunday teas - click here

Victorian London - Publications - Humour - Punch - cartoon 13

[Cousin George (ditto) was just going to say that the same idea had struck him, &c., when 'Ma rose, and called out it was time to go home to tea!

Punch, 26th September, 1868

proforma love letters in the Ladies' Letter Writer - click here

also in the Gentleman's Letter Writer - click here

Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Holidays - Valentine's Day

The vanity of this Paphian bubble, a Valentine, is naturally brought much closer home to the fair sex. All the sentiments associated with it are but too often delusive, nay agonizing. The day of the legendary saint is frequently fraught with disappointment. A girl expects many valentines and few arrive, or none come at all. Worse still, what do come are sent by the wrong people. Valentine's day thus becomes a sore trial of temper to many girls. When the longed-for billet does appear, and the doves of Venus have fluttered in at the postman's knock, they not unseldom bear with them a twig of wormwood instead of a spray of myrtle. The vision of bliss evoked by the Valentine rapidly turns into a wintry dissolving view. Cupid may bend his bow and light his torch, but will soon slink off disconsolately with broken arrows and quenched fires. Numbers of girls from the lower classes marry, ridiculous as it seems to sensible people, on no stronger encouragement than a sheet of gilded paper and a copy of purloined verses. Every now and then a trial for breach of promise discloses these love passages of a blighted existence to the wondering gaze of the social philosophers, and then they recognize for how much misery good Bishop Valentine has to answer.

The Queen (a magazine), 1882