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The Etiquette of Engagement and Marriage
by G. R. M. Devereux
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In Hungary.

A society has been formed in South Hungary to enable the bride to have her name joined with that of her husband, and it may be noted, in passing, that in Germany and Austria the wife takes the title as well as the name of the man she marries. She is Mrs. Dr. Braun or Mrs. Sanitary Inspector Meyer, Mrs Colonel Schmidt, and so on. The day before a marriage in Hungary there is a grand display of the bride's presents and trousseau, and the more garments, household linen, and beds she has, the prouder she feels. Two matrons and six maids clad in white, each of the latter carrying a crown, escort the bride to church. After the service she goes to her husband's home, where the feast lasts for days with occasional intervals. Each guest may have a dance with and a kiss from the bride, for which payment is made in small coins.

In Switzerland,

as in France, the civil marriage must precede the religious ceremony. A widow or a woman separated from her {112} husband may not marry again till at least ten months have elapsed since the death or deed of separation. At a peasant's wedding there is often a mistress of the ceremonies, who distributes red and blue handkerchiefs among the guests, in return for which she receives money for the bride. The sum thus collected is not given to her till she has been married for forty-eight hours. They marry young, and life is too hard to leave them much leisure for love-making. The Swiss are not an emotional people on the whole, and the head, generally dominates the heart with them. Customs vary according to the locality and the canton in which the marriage takes place.

In Denmark

the same plain gold ring does duty both for betrothal and marriage, the bridegroom changing it from the third finger of the left hand to the third finger of the right at the marriage ceremony.

In France

women of the upper and middle classes often wear no wedding-ring. They seem to regard it as a badge of servitude, and leave it to their humbler sisters. In a Roman Catholic French church the bride is attended by one bridesmaid and a groomsman, who after the service make a collection from the guests and hand it over to the priest. The two perform this act very gracefully. The gentleman turns one hand palm upwards and the lady lets her fingertips rest upon his with her palm downwards, while, as they pass down the aisle together, each holds an alms-bag to the company with the other hand.

At one point in the service both bride and bridegroom are, given lighted candles to hold. Rather risky for the wedding dress! thinks the careful woman. The bride wears a costume similar to that worn in England, but the bridesmaid is in more ordinary afternoon dress, and the same may be said of the guests, who do not assume a distinctively bridal appearance. Sometimes the civil marriage takes place immediately before the religious one, or it may be performed on the preceding day. The Protestant service is of course very simple. Most married men in France wear a wedding-ring.



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CHAPTER XX

Runaway Matches—Remarriage of Widows and Widowers—The Children—The Home—Dress—Comparisons.

Runaway Matches.

The old glamour and romance that idealised the runaway match in the days of post-chaises and wayside hostelries have been destroyed by the express train and the telegraph wire. In spite of the change that has come over our social life, the clandestine marriage does still take place; in fact it has been rather boomed in high circles of late; but it might rather be called a "walkaway" than a runaway match. It can all be done in such a quiet, business-like manner that no notice need be drawn to what is going on. The man who urges a young girl into a secret marriage lays himself open to some ugly charges, for parental tyranny is out of date, and that alone provided sufficient excuse for such a grave step.

The man who is mean enough to bind a girl to himself by marriage before he has a home to give her, and then sends her back to her parents as if nothing had happened, is not calculated to make a good husband, unless his offence has the excuse of extreme youth. Let him work his hardest and trust the girl to wait for him. If she will not do that, it is certainly not worth while to commit a dishonourable action for her sake.

The couple who marry and keep the fact a secret because they are afraid of losing some one's money if they tell the truth, would have done better to wait, or to tell each other that love was not good enough without the wherewithal to gild it. In England no one can be forced into a marriage, and all are free to choose whom they like {114} as soon as they are of age; so why stain the start of their wedded life by deception and falsehood? The seeds of distrust and contempt may thus be sown in hearts where there should be mutual love and trust, and then bitter fruits will spring up when once the novelty is over. Given patience, honesty, and fidelity, there need be no secret marriages in this empire.

A private marriage celebrated in the presence of only a few chosen friends is what many may prefer and desire; but considering the inevitable slur contained in the words: "Why did they do it?" the woman, at least, would do well to refrain from the sweets of stolen waters.

Second Marriages.

Dr. Johnson pronounced a second marriage to be "The triumph of Hope over Experience." Others who are less epigrammatic affirm that to take a second partner is the highest compliment that can be paid to the departed first. In some cases the real romance of marriage only awakes with the second wooing. It by no means follows that it must be a dull, prosaic, practical transaction.

The Children.

The great question in the remarriage of parents with children under age is the welfare of those children, and the choice of husband or wife, especially the latter, should be largely influenced by this consideration. The step-father is not held in such disfavour as the step-mother, probably because his relations with the young people are not so intimate.

The Widow.

A genial student of womankind says: "A little widow is a dangerous thing! She knows not only her own sex but the other too, and knowledge is power. She is experienced, accessible, and free, and withal fatally fascinating. There is a great charm in loving a woman who is versed in the lore of love, and is practised in all the sleight-of-heart tricks of it." Her courtship is more untrammelled than that of a {115} single woman. Her position is all in her favour. If she is very young, she will probably have a companion, or live with some relative. If she has small children they can afford a very convenient element of propriety when a lover comes to woo.

She does not always have a second engagement ring; she may prefer some other trinket. It is also a matter of taste whether she retain her first wedding-ring in its place or not. If she decides to banish it she should do so before going to be married.

Dress.

Grey is no longer the compulsory shade for a widow's wedding frock. Any light, delicate colour may be worn; but a woman has only one white wedding and one bridal veil in her life. The widow is not supposed to make a display over her wedding. An air of somewhat chastened joy is considered more suitable. Instead of bridesmaids she has one lady attendant who should be in her place in church before the bride arrives, and be ready to move to her side when required, to take the gloves and bouquet (which should not be composed of purely white flowers, nor is orange blossom permissible). There may be a second edition of the wedding cake and the presents, but favours and floral tributes are things of the past.

The Home.

If the widow has a nice home of her own she and her husband may decide to live in it; but he will need to exercise tact in taking up his position as master of a household that has hitherto gone on quite well without him. An entire change of servants would probably be advisable if not inevitable. The wife would be careful to give him his full dignity, and not to let it appear that he was to be regarded in the light of a pensioner on her bounty.

The Widower.

A man whose wife dies leaving him with young children, or even one baby, is in a most pathetic position, and the best thing he can do is to find some nice woman to console him and mother the little ones. It is a pity that the two {116} qualifications cannot always go together. It is rather risky for a sister or a niece to regard the home offered her by a widowed brother or uncle as a permanency. Men who are apparently satisfied with existing arrangements have a way of springing surprises upon their devoted womenfolk, and when the new wife appears, the sister or niece who has tided him over the worst part of his life must find a home elsewhere. Of course the man is quite within his rights, but I would warn those who may be living in a fool's paradise.

The widower with a house or estate would, naturally, consult the future mistress of it about any alterations he proposed making before his marriage. On her visits of inspection she would either be chaperoned by her mother or some married relation; but, if more convenient, he would ask a lady friend to come and meet her. If he had a grown-up daughter she would continue to preside over his household till after his marriage. It is not fair for a man to take a second wife without giving any previous intimation to his adult sons and daughters who may still be making their home with him. The installation of a girl step-mother over youths of her own age places them all in rather a difficult position, and has the possible making of a tragedy in it. The widower who marries a spinster may go through all the glories of a smart wedding for a second or third time if he likes, seeing that it is the condition of the bride that decides such matters.

Comparison with the Predecessor.

Those who play the role of No. 2 must make up their minds to be compared, in thought if not in word, involuntarily if not intentionally, with No. 1, and the process need not necessarily be painful. Unless there has been some distressing or tragic element in the first marriage, why should the memory of the dead be banished, except by jealousy or inconstancy? It is not generous of No. 2 to try and sweep away all traces of the predecessor. The man or woman who will lightly abandon all the memories of the partner of youth, is not so calculated to make an ideal companion for middle age as the one who cherishes a tender regard for the dead side by side with an honest love for the living.



{117}

CHAPTER XXI

Marrying for Love; for Money; for a Home; for a Housekeeper—Concluding Remarks.

Marrying for Love.

In spite of all that the cynics and pessimists may say, Love should be the Lord of Marriage.

"How sweet the mutual yoke of Man and Wife When holy fires maintain Love's heavenly life!"

True happiness cannot exist without it, however great the wealth or exalted the position of the married pair may be, while the worst evils of life are lightened and made bearable by its presence. Marrying for love need not mean improvidence. Only an unreasoning passion based on selfishness will plunge the beloved into privation and want. The highest, truest love has its substratum of common sense, self-restraint, and thought for others.

It is very hard to draw the line, for vices and virtues tread somewhat closely on each other's heels. The division between prudence and cowardice is often ill-defined. The love that rushes into poverty that it is not strong enough to endure, has in it an element of the selfishness that makes another sit still in comfort while the path is being made smooth for her soft tread.

There are those who laugh at love, and say that mutual respect and sufficient means are the only two reliable things with which to enter upon matrimony. Both these excellent possessions may, however, be quite compatible with love, in fact the former is bound to be included in the softer passion or it will not wear very well. No one will deny that a marriage founded on mere mutual respect may one day be {118} crowned by true and lasting love; nor yet that pre-matrimonial love may die a speedy or even violent death soon after the lovers are united; but these possibilities do not alter the fact that taking things all round, Love is the best and most precious asset with which to begin married life.

Marrying for Money.

There are many marriages that are casually put under this heading which do not deserve to be. A man's position may be such that it will mean ruin to him if he adds to his expenses by taking a wife without a penny. He honourably refrains from making any advances to girls who are so situated; but that does not prevent his becoming really attached to one whose income will make married life possible for him. The possession of money does not make a woman unlovable for herself, though it may give her an unenviable experience at the hands of the fortune hunter.

The cold, calculating nature that deliberately plans a mercenary marriage is probably satisfied for the time being by the acquisition of the coveted wealth. Little pity will be given when the long-starved human element of the man or woman begins to cry out for something more than money can buy.

There are excuses for some mercenary alliances. The sorely-tried daughter of impecunious parents, whose youth has been clouded by grey, grinding poverty, and who sees the prospects of her brothers and sisters blighted by lack of means to start them in life, is to be pardoned, if not commended, when she marries for money, but she should not deceive the man who gives it to her if she does not love him.

The man with talents and high ambitions may easily be tempted to take the wife whose money will open a field for the realisation of his hopes. He would be more of a man if he fought his way through alone. The curse of it all is that no one marrying for money dares say so. It would be brutal, no doubt; and unless there were some fair equivalent to offer in exchange, probably few such marriages would take place. When the cloak of simulated love is thrown over the real motive, often only to be cast aside as soon as the prize is secured, it is hard not to feel contempt and indignation.

{119} Marriage with money is a necessity; marriage for money is a mere business affair, a travesty of the sacred institution.

"He that marries for money sells his liberty." It is humiliating enough for a woman, but immeasurably mean in a man.

Marrying for a Home.

The woman with strong domestic instincts, who dreads to face life alone, or has grown weary in the attempt to wage the fight single-handed, often yields to the temptation of marrying one who can give her a home, with only a secondary regard for the man himself. If she duly counts the cost and does not ask too much, the plan may succeed very well; but the entirely domestic woman does not hold the highest place in a man's mind. He may fully value the creature comforts she ensures for him, but she so soon becomes a drudge, and so soon loses touch with the higher side of his nature that he will probably seek sympathy elsewhere, and salve his conscience with the thought that he has given her what she really wanted most.

She must never forget that she has to reckon with the man who has provided her with a home; and she will probably have to repay him in whatever coin he may choose.

Marrying for a Housekeeper.

The man who must keep a home together and maintain appearances grows tired of wrestling with domestic problems, and either dreads the sudden departure of his cook-housekeeper or trembles under her tyrannical sway. He finally takes a lady who cannot give him a month's notice, nor leave his roof by stealth without unpleasant consequences to herself. When he thus primarily marries for a housekeeper who will promote his own comfort, he should be satisfied if she shows the needful domestic efficiency. He sometimes finds that the one who was intended to be little more than a dependant turns out to be his mistress. There are plenty of level-headed women who have done with romance, and who are perfectly willing to take up the position of wife to a man who honestly states that he requires a companion to {120} help his digestion by conversing at meals, to manage his house, entertain his guests, and darn his socks. When such a couple meet together let them show mutual respect for each other's motives, and invest the arrangement with comfort and dignity in the absence of tenderer emotions.

Concluding Remarks.

However short a marriage may fall of the high ideal standpoint, there should never be recrimination in public between man and wife, nor the utterance of taunts as to the avarice, expediency, or cowardice that may have influenced either side in the presence of a third person. Few attain to the highest happiness of which we are capable in this state: few, perhaps, make the most of what they have; yet it is very rare to find a married woman who honestly wishes herself single, and that is a powerful argument in favour of an institution which seems to give the weaker sex her full share of the burden. There is much soul-disquieting discussion nowadays on the relative positions of the sexes. The following lines express that which surely might make marriage a very heaven on earth:—

"This is Woman's need; To be a beacon when the air is dense, A bower of peace, a lifelong recompense— This is the sum of Woman's worldly creed.

And what is Man the while? And what his will? And what the furtherance of his worldly hope? To turn to Faith, to turn, as to a rope A drowning sailor; all his blood to spill For One he loves, to keep her out of ill— This is the will of Man, and this his scope."



{121}

INDEX

Courtship and Marriage, Etiquette of— Acting as a host during, 28 Amateur acting and, 17 Artistic fellowship in, 16 Athletic comradeship in, 16 Best age for, 41 Between friends who have become lovers, 34 Breaches of etiquette in, 19, 25 Danger to be avoided in, a, 27 Dark side of an unequally aged, 43 Drifting in, 42 Etiquette for the man who lives at home in, 27 Etiquette for the man who lives in rooms, 28 Exchange of hospitality in, 26 Hints to the man about the girl's family, 23 Hints to the man making up his mind about, 17 "Ineligibles" and, 17 Intellectual affinity in, 16 Kindly offices of relations and friends, 23 Love at first sight, 22 Middle-aged lovers, 44 Old men who court youth, 43 Opportunities for, 16 Question of age in, the, 41 Question of presents, the, 26 Social inequality in, 32 Social intercourse and its etiquette, 18 Tact shown in, 19 The girl's case, 22 The man's case, 22 With the bachelor girl, 30 With the business girl, 31 With the dramatic student, 33 With the home girl, 30 With the medical student and hospital nurse, 33 With the student or professional girl, 32 Young lovers, 42 Young men who woo maturity, 42

Engagements— Attitude of parents and guardians in, 52 Breaking off, 62 Clandestine, 62 Congratulations on, 53 Etiquette of in former days, 51 Friends who act as go-betweens, 63 Going about together, 58 His visits to her home, 56 In France, 66 In Germany, 66 In Greece, 69 In Hungary, 69 In Italy, 65 In Norway, 69 In Russia, 67 In Spain, 67 In Sweden, 68 In Switzerland, 68 Justifiable clandestine, 63 Length of, the, 61 Letters from and to future mothers-in-law, 55 Love-letters, 60 Making acquaintance with future relations, 54 Making them known, 53 Parent's refusal to, 52 Question of expenses in, 58 Telling friends at a distance, 53 The engaged couple— In public, 56 In society, 57 Visiting at the same house, 58 The interview with the father, 51 The ring, 54 What the girl should avoid in, 54 When the mother shares the secret, 63

{122}

Etiquette— How to follow up an acquaintance, 23 Of intercourse between unconfessed lovers, 25 Of Introductions, 21

Flirts— Female— Due reserve of, 39 How they accept a changed situation, 39 How they may give encouragement, 39 How to ward off unwelcome offers, 40 Methods of, 37 Transparent devices of, 40 Kindly spontaneous flirts, 37 Male— Making a girl conspicuous, 36 Slow awakening of, 39 Two classes of, 36 Ways of escape for, 38 Who change their minds on the verge of a proposal, 38 To withdraw gracefully from a flirtation, 38

Honeymoon, the— Disillusion, passing or permanent, 96 How long to stay on, 94 Inevitable test of temperament, 95 Possible disappointments in, 95

House, the— Bride's share in the matter, 80 Furnishing, 79 Selection of, 79 Things to be considered, 80

Marriage— Bride's burdens, the, 72 Bridesmaids' dresses, 73 Choice of bridesmaids, the, 72 Concluding remarks about, 120 Different nationalities, between, 103 Expenses of, 73 Fixing the day, 71 Invitations to the, 75 Mixed, 102 Necessary formalities in mixed, 104 Of British subjects living abroad, 105 Of different religious persuasions, 105

Marriages— Of minors and wards in Chancery, 106 Proposals— A woman's point of view, 48 A warning to women, 50 Methods of, 46 Some things to avoid in, 47 Tact in choosing the opportunity for, 46 Too keen a sense of humour in, 47 Too much haste in, 47 Vaguely worded offers, 48 When a woman may help, 49 When the woman may take the initiative, 49 Question of colour, the, 102 Scotch, 106 Trousseau, the, 74 Wedding frocks, 73

Marrying— For a home, 119 For a housekeeper, 119 For love, 117 For money, 118

Newly married couple, the— At home, 100 In society, 101

Return home, the— Housekeeping, on, 98 Money matters, on, 99 Plunge into the practical, on, 98 Wedding calls, 100 What it means, 97

Runaway matches, 113

Second marriages— Children, the, 114 Comparison with the predecessor, 116 Dress for a widow, 115 For and against, 114 Home, the, 115 Widower, the, 115 With a widow, 114

Wedding, the— Banns, 81 Bride's dowry, the, 85 Civil contract, the, 83 Licence for, 82 Nature of the ceremony, the, 81 Religious ceremony, the, 81 Settlements, 84 Witnesses for, 83

Wedding day, the— Arrangement of seats on, 90 At the bride's house, 89 Best man, the, 88 Bride's parents, the, 88 Bridegroom, the, 88 {123} Bridesmaids, the, 87 Dressing the bride, 89 Etiquette of, 86 Guests, the, 92 Journey, the, 94 Luggage on, 94 Presents on view, 93 Social side, the, 90 Some items of expense, 91 Starting for the honeymoon, 93 Tying of the knot, the, 90 What is expected of the bride, 87 Where to go for the honeymoon, 94

Wedding presents— Art of giving, the, 78 How to send them, 78 Temptation, a, 78 What to give, 77

Weddings, Continental— Breton, 109 Danish, 112 French, 112 German, 107 Hungarian, 111 Italian, 109 Norwegian, 108 Russian, 109 Spanish, 111 Swedish, 110 Swiss, 111



THE END

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