Below is a chapter from the book "FASHION: The Power that Influences the World" by George Fox ©1871
THE ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP AND MATRIMONY.
" Oh, the daya are gone when beauty bright my heart's chain wove,
When the dream of life, from morn to night, was love, still love.
Oh, flowers may bloom, and skies may gleam with purer, brighter beam,
But there's nothing half so sweet in life as love's young dream."
By all the laws of Society, a gentleman of true principles has a right to ascertain the physical and moral and mental qualifications of a young lady, before he commits himself to a courtship, from which an honorable man finds a difficulty in disengaging himseif. The course a true gentleman should pursue under such circumstances, is to observe the respect and attention due to the lady and her family. We are bound not to permit an innocent and unsuspecting girl to remain one day without parental advice and protection in this most trying epoch in her life. So soon as a gentleman feels that the sentiment a young lady has inspired in him may lead to an ultimate union, he should make known his wishes to her father, and ask if his attentions meet with the approval of her parents. This is necessary upon two grounds; it is due to theni, and will prevent the pain of a refusal and consequent disappointment, which might occur at a more advanced period. In the United States the customs attending courtships differ materially from those of Europe. For the actual happiness of both parties, the gentleman should not take the lady out riding in a carriage alone or on horseback, until an actual engagement has taken place. So long as fashion sanctions a young man in his attentions to the lady of his choice, he should observe that punctilious demeanor towards her, as not to compromise her in society. Parents love their daughters dearly, that they fear as much to have their affections blighted, as they do to have their fame called in question. The educated and conscientious gentleman of mature judgment, the high-toned man of honor, would never tempt an unsuspecting girl to elope with him; in so doing, he risks his reputation, and their own happiness, while he gives the severest blow to that of her parents, who he must remember are entitled to her first confidence and his respect. The daughter may be forgiven after a lapse of time, but the act can never be justified.
The polite gentleman should be well assured that he possesses the lady's love before he asks her hand. If the lady refuse him, he should allow no resentment, however much his feelings may suffer. Where so important and solemn a step as a fate for life is decided on, the lady should have the right of full reflection, and if a doubt of ultimate happiness should cross her mind, she has a full justification, at the last hour, in declining the proffered hand. If the lady be a flirt, the gentleman may well rejoice, instead of grieving that he has avoided an unhappy union.
If a gentleman of refinement really loves a lady, and deems her worthy of his love, he will never use words of endearment, or nauseous love-terms, towards her in society. After an engagement, each calling the other by the Christian name, is sufficient proof of mutual confidence and attachment; besides, true and delicate love is as jealous of the expression of its affection as it is of its reciprocal truth.
The purpose of this brief recapitulation of the code of fashionable intercourse is to show its moral and humanitarian influences upon society, and that all good breeding is derived from the truest of all philosophical data. Our own happiness is secured by the promotion of the happiness of those with whom we are associated; the toleration of the impulses and passions of our nature, and the deficiency of reason which at times should control them, have served to unsettle much of the grace and harmony of society. In a community of equal social and political rights, where the wily politician seeks, through the passions or prejudices of men, to ride into power upon the influence they create, a large amount of mischief must be occasioned by their unnatural excitement Eefined society should prove that the exercise of wisdom, in restraining our passions within the oorrect limits, constitutes the truest happiness, and to teach us that to ensure felicity, we must respect the rights of all, and share them in common.
The duty of the man of fashion, and of honor, is to curb these excitements, and to promote the influence of reason in society, so as to overcome all obstacles to its complete harmony, thus proving incontestibly that a good heart and a love of honesty, equal justice and equal rights, are the only true foundations of real politeness and gentleman-like demeanor, and thereby influencing a nation's happiness by the laws of fashion.
Separate the knave from the honest man, the counterfeit from the genuine, by understood signs, private badges, numbers and recognized recorded signals, credentials, distinguishing, in a word, the best from the worst species of mankind.