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Courtship and Marriage and the Gentle Art of Home-Making

69 pages
Library of Alexandria
THE LOVERS. f this truly gentle art we do not hear a great deal. It has no academies connected with its name, no learned body of directors or councillors, no diplomas or graduation honours; yet curiously enough it offers more enduring consequences than any other art which makes more noise in the world. Its business is the most serious business of life, fraught with the mightiest issues here and hereafter—viz., the moulding of human character and the guiding of human conduct. It is right and fitting, then, that it should demand from us some serious attention, and we may with profit consider how it can best be fostered and made competent to bless the greatest number, which, I take it, is the ultima Thule of all art. To trace this gentle art from its early stages we must first consider, I think, the relation to each other before marriage of the young pair who aim at the upbuilding of a home, wherein they shall not only be happy themselves, but which, in their best moments, when the heavenly and the ideal is before them, they hope to make a centre of influence from which shall go forth means of grace and blessing to others. I do not feel that any apology is required for my desire to linger a little over that old-fashioned yet ever-new phase of life known as courting days. It is one which is oftener made a jest of than a serious study; yet such is its perennial freshness and interest for men and women, that it can never become threadbare; and though there cannot be much left that is new or original to say about it, yet a few thoughts from a woman’s point of view may not be altogether unacceptable. We are constantly being told that we live in a hard, prosaic age, that romance has no place in our century, and that the rush and the fever of life have left but little time or inclination for the old-time grace and leisure with which our grandfathers and grandmothers loved, wooed, and wed. This study of human nature is my business, and it appears to me that the world is very much as it was—that Eden is still possible to those who are fit for it; and it is beyond question that love, courtship, and marriage are words to conjure with in the garden of youth, and that a love-story has yet the power to charm even sober men and women of middle age, for whom romance is mistakenly supposed to be over. Every man goes to woo in his own way, and the woman he woos is apt to think it the best way in the world; it would be superfluous for a mere outsider to criticise it. Examples might be multiplied; in the novels we read we have variety and to spare. We know the types well. Let me enumerate a few. The diffident youth, weighed down with a sense of his own unworthiness, approaching his divinity with a blush and a stammer; and in some extreme cases—these much affected by the novelists of an earlier decade—going down upon his knees; the bold wooer, who believes in storming the citadel, and is visited by no misgiving qualms; the cautious one, who counts the cost, and tries to make sure of his answer beforehand,—the only case in which I believe that a woman has a right to exercise the qualities of the coquette; then we have also the victim of extreme shyness, who would never come to the point at all without a little assistance from the other side. There are other types,—the schemer and the self-seeker, whose matrimonial ventures are only intended to advance worldly interests. We need not begin to dissect them—it would not be a profitable occupation