A Proposal – 1891 Style

The following instruction for the young man preparing to propose marriage appeared in The Critic and Record (Washington,D.C. newspaper) on May 6, 1891. It seems appropriate for a Valentines Day chuckle (but not advice to follow today).

The Method of Procedure

Prepared for a Bashful Man 

Don’t be too sudden about it. Many a girl has said “no” when she meant “yes,” simply because her lover didn’t choose the right time and pop the question gently.
            Take a dark night for it. Have the blinds closed, the curtains down and the lamp tuned most out. Sit near enough to her so that you can hook your little finger into hers.
            Wait until the conversation begins to flag and then quietly remark: “Susie, I want to ask you something.”
            She will fidget about a little, and probably reply: “Yes?”
            After a pause, you can add: “Susie, my action must have shown—that is, you must have seen—I mean, you must be aware that…”
            Pause here for a while, but keep your little finger firmly locked.  She may cough and try to turn the subject off by asking you how you liked the sermon, but she only does it to encourage you.
            After a pause, you can continue:“I was thinking as I was coming up the street tonight, that before I went away I would ask you—that is, I would broach the subject nearest my—I mean I would know my—“
            Stop again, and give her hand a gentle squeeze. She may make a move to get away or she may not. In either case it augurs well for you.
            Wait five minutes and then go on: “The past year has been a very happy one to me, but I hope that future years will be still happier. However, that depends entirely on you. I am here tonight to know—that is, to ask you—I am here tonight to hear from your own lips the one sweet—“
            Wait again. It isn’t best to be too rash about these things. Give her plenty of time to recover her composure, and then put your hand on your heart and continue: “Yes, I thought as I was coming here tonight how happy I’d been, and I said to myself that if I only knew you would consent to be my—that is, I said if I only knew—if I was only certain that my heart had not deceived me, and you were ready to share—“
            Hold on—there’s no hurry about it. Give the wind a chance to sob and moan outside among the trees. This will make her lonesome and call up all the love in her heart.
            When she begins to cough and grow restless you can go on: “Before I met you this world was a desert to me. I didn’t take any pleasure in life, and it didn’t matter whether the sun shone or not. But what a change in one short year! It is for you to say whether my future shall be a prairie of happiness or one long and never-ending happiness or one long and never-ending pathway of thistles. Speak, dearest Susie, and say—and say that—“
            Give her five minutes more by the clock and then add:“That you—you will be—that is, that you will—be mine?”
            She will heave a sigh, look up at the clock and round the room, and then as she slides her head over your vest pocket she will whisper, “Henry—I will.”

Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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