A Lady’s Position. A lady’s choice is only negative – that is to say, she may love, but she cannot declare her love; she must wait. It is hers, when the time comes, to consent or to decline, but till the time comes she must be passive. And whatever may be said in jest or sarcasm about it, this trial of a woman’s patience is often very hard to bear.
A Gentleman’s Position. A man may, and he will learn his fate at once, openly declare his passion, and obtain his answer. In this he has great advantage over the lady. Being refused, he may go elsewhere to seek a mate, if he be in the humor, try his fortune again, and mayhap be the lucky drawer of a princely prize.
To the gentleman seeking a partner for life, we would say – look to it, that you be not entrapped by a beautiful face.
“Regard not the figure, young man; look at the heart.
The heart of a woman is sometimes deformed.”
Conduct of a Gentleman Toward Ladies. 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.
Conduct of a Lady Toward Gentlemen. Neither should a young lady allow marked attentions 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 interested. A young lady will on no account encourage the address of one who she perceives to be seriously interested in her unless she feels it possible that in time she may be able to return his affections. The prerogative of proposing lies with man, but the prerogative of refusing lies with woman; and this prerogative a lady of tact and kind heart can and will exercise before her suitor is brought to the humiliation of a direct offer. She may let him see that she receives with equal favor attentions from others, and she may check in a kind but firm manner his too frequent visits. She should try, while discouraging him as a lover, to still retain him as a friend.
A young man who has used sufficient delicacy and deliberation in this matter, and who, moreover, is capable of taking a hint when it is offered him, need not go to the length of a declaration when a refusal only awaits him.
Premature Declaration. It is very injudicious, not to say presumptuous for a gentleman to make a proposal to a young lady on a brief acquaintance. He may be perfectly satisfied as to her merits, but how can he imagine himself so attractive as to suppose her equally satisfied on her part? A lady who would accept a gentleman at first sight can hardly possess the discretion needed to make her a good wife. Therefore, impatient and impassioned young man, nurse your ardor for a while unless you wish to ensure for yourself disappointment.
Love at First Sight. 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.