Whom to Marry and How to Get Married or, The Adventures of a Lady in Search of a Good Husband

For the last two days, I have been chuckling aloud while reading from Whom to Marry and How to Get Marriedby Henry and Augustus Mayhew and illustrated by George Cruikshank.  It’s the tale of Lotty De Roos’s tribulations as she tries to find a suitable husband.  The book was published in 1848, but the story opens in 1832. If you are a fan of Regency and Early Victorian romps, you will enjoy this book, especially the word usage and details of daily living.

I told my mother about the book and promised to post an excerpt. I have just finished reading Chapter Three or “Offer Three” and decided to post the initial scenes from that chapter.  In it, Lotty and her mother go on holiday to Brighton. Enjoy:

OFFER THE THIRD.

THIS WAS AS GOOD AN OFFER AS ANY YOUNG GIRL COULD REASONABLY EXPECT — IT SEEMED TO PROMISE VERY FAIRLY INDEED AT ONE TIME, BUT THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE (AS THE READER VERY WELL KNOWS) NEVER DID RUN SMOOTH, AND MINE MET WITH SO MANY OBSTACLES, THAT UPON MY WORD IT WAS A PERFECT CASCADE OF CALAMITY.

About this period, I found I began to take longer and longer to dress; and yet, whatever time I might have been at my toilet, still I was never thoroughly satisfied with myself when I was forced to finish it. I would sit by the hour before my glass, doing my hair in all kinds of ways: first, trying how I looked with it curled like Mamma’s, en saucisson. When I fancied that was too matronly for me, doing it in two small bunches of ringlets, and immediately afterwards brushing them out again, when I thought of their getting out of curl, and hanging down each side of my face like spaniels’ ears. Then I’d turn it all back “a la Chinoise” so as to show off my forehead, with two little pets of “accroches cceurs” gummed to my cheek bones, till I declare my head looked as round and sleek as a bird’s. If that didn’t please me, I’d pull it all down again, and set to work, first doing it “en bandeaux” or else in braids, or else “a la Madonna” and sometimes wishing to gracious that I had only wetted my front hair, and plaited it tight over night, so as to have given it a beautiful wavy appearance, and made it look as if it had a natural curl in it. After this, I’d tell our Mary I thought, as there was going to be no one particular to dinner, I’d wear my aventurine merino; and then, before she’d time to get it out   No, I wouldn’t. As I looked rather pale, I might as well put on my pink striped mousseline de laine ; and as soon as I had got that on, and taken a peep at myself in the glass, I’d change my mind again, and determine to wear my beautiful silk Macgregor plaid, especially as somebody might drop in the evening, and the body of that old mouslin was so shockingly high, that I shouldn’t like any visitor to see me in it. And then, when at last I was dressed, first this band didn’t seem to go well with it, then that one wouldn’t do a bit better; and now this worked collar didn’t please me, and next I could never wear that fichu : and so I would go on fiddle-faddling over my looking-glass until the upstairs bell had rung at least half a dozen times for dinner. Even then, though I knew they must have finished the soup, and that I should catch it for being late, still I couldn’t, for the life of me, help slipping into Mamma’s room on my way down, and just arranging her two beautiful cheval glasses one in front of the other, so as to see myself both before and behind, and to satisfy myself that my skirt looked as nice and full as I liked.

But luckily I had always a good friend in Mamma, who used to take my part, and tell Papa “he ought rather to be pleased to see his daughter taking a proper pride in her appearance, instead of continually scolding the poor thing for wasting what he called the best part of her life over her looking-glass.”

Indeed, Mamma and I went on so comfortably, that we were always together; and we used to go out shopping, or when we could get the carriage paying visits with one another. And we had all our dresses of the same pattern, and made alike as if we were sisters, though, to tell the truth, this didn’t please me quite so much as it seemed to please Mamma; for though it might take ten years off her looks, I felt that it had the effect of putting them on to mine, and every compliment upon her youthful appearance that she got by it, I knew was a compliment at my expense; for if, as the flattering old whist-players said, she looked young enough to pass for my sister, of course it was as much as to say I looked old enough to pass for hers.

Indeed, it was quite wonderful the pains Mamma used to take with me. Scarcely a moment passed but she was telling me what I ought to do, and what I oughtn’t. First, I was the stupidest thing alive, and never would take a look from her, though she had been frowning at me ever so long, like a beadle at church. Then I was her own dear girl, and if I had learnt nothing else at Miss Thimblebee’s, at least I’d been taught to carry myself like an angel, and she was sure anyone to see me move past them would admit that that walk of mine alone was worth the whole money. One morning it would be, the gifts of Providence and the blessing of a superior education seemed to have been entirely thrown away upon me. How I could ever have danced two quadrilles running, last night, with that Mr. Belchambers, was more than she could tell, when I knew as well as she did that the man hadn’t a sixpence beyond what he had to fag night and day for. What on earth did I expect would become of me, if I went on in that shameful way? Then another morning she would declare I was her own dear pet, I was. The way in which I had waltzed with that dear Sir Frederick Lushington, who was one of the oldest and richest baronets in the kingdom and very luckily a widower did her heart good to see.

“Bless you, my lamb!” she would say, “you are your foolish fond mother’s own dear child, you are, every inch of you.”

But the worst of it all was, Mamma was always taking me up so about my mode of talking; now I didn’t sound this word rightly, and then it wasn’t considered elegant to pronounce that word in the way I did. I recollect one morning, at breakfast, asking her for another cup of coffee, with rather a broad accent on the word.

Kawfee, Charlotte,”  she replied, “and pray what may that mean, Miss ? I never recollect hearing the term used before; but perhaps you may mean coffee, for that’s the only name I ever heard given to it. Really your father might just as well have kept his money in his pocket, and never sent you to school at all, for the good it seems to have done you.”

“Why,”  I replied, quite innocently, “I thought that as a-l spelt al, and a-1-1 awl, so o-f spelt of, and o-f-f owf.”

“And, I dare say,”  she answered, “g-l-a-s glas, and g-l-a-ss glarce. But you’ll please to think otherwise in future, Miss; and remember that in polite society when we join a quadrille we dannce, when we are pleased we laf, (though smiling is more genteel, my dear,) when we have a cold we cof, and when we take a promenade we wal-k; no, I’m wrong, there we do wawk, yes, wawk like other people. So don’t let me hear any more of such vulgarisms from you in future. And now, may I have the pleasure of sending you another cup of cof-fee?’

“Thank you,” I replied, “you are very kind!”

Keyind, keyind ! if you love me, child,” she answered, throwing her hands up; “Keyind; unless you wish to split your poor dear mother’s ears in two. Praydo be more attentive to your pronunciation, my dear! for really it sets my teeth quite on edge to hear you.”

“Well, Mamma,” I answered, “I will try and have more regard for the future.”

Re — what is that?” she exclaimed, drawing in her breath, as if in great bodily pain. “Gard, did I hear you say, child? Oh! if you would not see your poor dear mother fall senseless at your feet, do, do remember to call it re-gheard for the future.”

******

As the London season was drawing to a close, and as every civilized person had flown from the horrid dust of London to the refreshing breezes of the sea-side, Mamma was seized with her usual attack of low spirits, and I felt myself so weak and delicate, that we both agreed that nothing but two or three months at Brighton would restore our healths. So I used to tell Papa that it was positively frightful to see how Mamma was sinking every day for want of change of air, and that I shouldn’t like to answer for the consequences if she remained much longer in London; and Mamma would in her turn declare, that if she had to go down on her bended knees and borrow the money of a mere stranger, we must go out of town somewhere. She didn’t speak for herself, though she felt that she was every day sinking more and more for want of a mouthful of fresh air, and indeed knew that each week she remained boxed up in town at that season was as good as ten long years off her life. But she could not, as a mother, stand still, and see that dear, dear Charlotte growing as white as a plaster cast under her very eyes for the want of a few weeks residence at some fashionable watering-place. And she could and would tell him this, that however clever he might think himself as a physician, still she, as a mother, knew much more of her darling’s constitution than he possibly could. And the end of it all was, that if he couldn’t afford the money for her to take me down to the sea-side, he would be obliged, before long, to afford the money for my funeral expenses, and that — then when it was too late — he’d have the happiness of knowing that he had been the murderer of his eldest and finest girl.

As we neither of us ever ate anything at dinner with Papa, though we kept pressing each other to try as much as would lie on a sixpence, and reminding one another that exhausted nature must give way under the little nutriment we took, Papa at last gave us his consent, and a cheque to go down to Brighton. When Mamma had put the cheque in her purse, she suddenly remembered that it was of no use, for really and truly we hadn’t a dress to put on, or a bonnet that we could wear. For herself, of course, it didn’t matter how she went, so long as she was merely decent; but it was her duty to see that her pet of a Charlotte, who had her way to make in the world, should at least be as well dressed as other people’s daughters. How, on earth, she would ask him, did he, as a man possessing the smallest amount of common sense, expect that his dear girl was ever to get comfortably settled in life, unless she could keep pace with other persons’ daughters ? Mamma said she knew as well as he did, that it was all mere pomp and vanity; but when one’s at Rome, one must do as Rome does; and really there was such a struggle now-a-days, and so much competition in the matrimonial market, that unless you made your girl look as showy and attractive as possible, you wouldn’t get a single offer for her, and have the poor thing remaining on your hands all your life.

As usual, Mamma managed to have her own way somehow, and for my sake she first bought a beautiful white chip “pomp”for herself, and a heavenly drawn silk one for me, and then to do her duty to me she treated herself to a love of a green gros de Naples “vanity,” and me to a pet of salmon-coloured poplin ditto. As soon as the dresses were made up (I had mine trimmed with cherry-colour, and when it came home, oh! it did look heavenly, the dear) we didn’t lose a day before we had booked two inside places for ourselves, and one out for our Mary to Brighton, by that splendid fast safety coach, “The Hurricane,” and the next morning having taken a meat breakfast and an affectionate farewell of Papa, we left home with a tear in our eye, and fourteen boxes in a hackney-coach for the “Bull and Mouth.”

When we got to the office there was “The Hurricane” drawn up ready in front of it, with such a crowd waiting to see it start, that it was as much as we could do to get into our places; and, indeed, scarcely were we seated, before there was a cry of “all right,” and we dashed down Waterloo-place, the guard playing the “Girls we left behind us” so beautifully, that everybody turned round to look at the coach as it darted by; while we kept continually hearing the coachman hallooing out “Heigh! heigh!” to all the carts before us, and abusing the drivers as we rattled past, so that Mamma and I got so nervous, that we expected every minute to be upset, and have to be taken home again on a shutter.

When once we got clear of London, I never knew anything to go so fast as we did; and, although the old gentleman in an intensely black wig and whiskers dyed a dark purple to match, who was our only fellow inside passenger said that the pace was beautiful, still Mamma, who was half dead with fright, expressed an opinion that the coachman must be tipsy, or he’d show more regard to the feelings of the poor dumb animals that he was driving. But the gentleman would have it, that the horses liked it as much as any one though if they did, theirs must have been a merry life and a short one, for he told us immediately afterwards, that they never lasted more than three years on the road, and when we stopped to change, the poor things were all over in such a white lather, that they looked just as if they were going to be shaved.

While they were getting ready to start again, we were quite shocked with the shameful language of that disgusting driver, who kept swearing at the stable boys, first setting at “Jim,” and then giving it “Sam,” and calling everyone either a dog or a scoundrel. Then, if the fellow hadn’t the impudence to come and stand right opposite the coach-window, with his legs apart, and stroke his imperial, while he stared at me, in such an impudent way that Mamma pulled the blind down right in his face, exclaiming aloud, that she never knew such an ill-bred fellow in all her life, and vowing that she should make a point of representing his conduct to the proprietors and get him discharged.

“It will not be of the slightest use I can assure you, Madam,” said the old gentleman, who, although he must have been sixty at least, was dressed in the height of fashion. “Perhaps you are not aware that he is the Honourable Gustavus Adolphus Gee, and it’s only his way, Ma’m; he means nothing by it.”

“The Honourable Mr. Gee! Indeed, sir!”replied Mamma, with a smile. “Well, if he means nothing by it, that alters the case entirely; only I did the gentleman the injustice to mistake him for a common coachman; though really, now I come to think of it,  he! he! he!  it was very short-sighted and silly of me he! he! he! to make such a blunder he! he! he! for now I look at him again,” she continued, pulling up the blind, and taking a peep at him, “any one could tell by that beautiful aristocratic nose of his that he was nobly connected. Gee!” she added, musing to herself   “Gee! yes, of course, if I’d only heard the name, I should have known that it is the family one of Lord   hem ! hem !  Lord…dear me! I shall forget my own name next.”

“Lord Fortiwinx, Ma’m; Mr. Gee is his Lordship’s brother,” suggested the old young man.

“Yes, Fortiwinx! so it is, to be sure,” answered Mamma, as if the truth had just struck her “closely connected, you know, my dear,” she continued, addressing me, “to our friend young Snorhard, who had such a hard right for Beds last election. But dear me,” she added, again turning to the old gentleman, “I thought the family was very rich, and certainly never expected to see one of that noble stock reduced to such extremities. What a nice, handsome, classical face, too, he has of his own, has he not, Charlotte, love? What a pity it is that his Lordship doesn’t put him into the church or the army, with those splendid white teeth of his! And is the poor young man very badly off, can you inform me, sir?” observed my mother, as the Honourable driver finished his glass of soda-water and brandy, and remounted the box.

“Badly off! Dear me! no, Madam,” said the gentleman with the purple whiskers; “he’s rolling in money, I can assure you.”

“Goodness ! what an interesting character!”replied Mamma.

“Plenty of money; and what’s better, he knows how to spend it, Ma’m,” answered the gentleman in the intensely black wig. “Why, he pays a good round sum every year to be allowed to drive this coach.”

“Dear, dear! what a delightfully eccentric being! isn’t he, Charlotte, my love?” replied Mamma. “And his poor, poor lady?  for I think, if my memory serves me truly, I recollect hearing my talented young friend, Mr. Snorhard, say that Mr. Gee was married.”

“I am afraid you have been misinformed, Madam,” answered the old gentleman ; “Mr. Gee is still single, I can assure you.”

“Indeed, you surprise me; I suppose I must make some mistake,” replied Mamma. “And does he really take the half-crowns now, like an ordinary coachman?”

“Oh yes, Madam, he expects the customary perquisite as if he had been bred and born to the business.”

“Dear me! How delightfully he sustains the character!”

“Yes, Ma’m, as if he’d been brought up on the stage he! he!”

“He! he! he!” echoed Mamma, and “He! he! he!” echoed I, at the old gentleman’s jokelet.

“I suppose the passengers do them up in paper, and he presents them to some charity at the end of the year?”asked Mamma.

“Pardon me, Madam, not at all,” he replied. “He says that they just find him in rats, for his famous dog ‘Tommy’ to kill.”‘

“Oh, he’s quite the sportsman, I see,” continued Mamma. “And Mr. Gee, I suppose, resides with my lord his brother at Brighton? for I think I heard my friend young Mr. Snorhard say that Lord Fortiwinx was among the visitors there.”

“I believe not, Madam; Lord Fortiwinx has, to the best of my knowledge, retired for the winter to his seat in Witney, and Mr. Gee usually stays at the hotel where the coach puts up.

This conversation made me so anxious to see more of one who, from my ignorance of young noblemen, struck me at that time as being a most eccentric and singular character, that when the coach stopped again to change horses, I took a good long peep at the Honourable driver. Though Mamma would have it that any one might see at a glance that noble blood flowed in his veins, still, he did look so thoroughly the coachman, that even the Norroy King-at-arms himself would have been puzzled to say whether he was a gentleman or not. Upon my word, if he hadn’t got on a big short drab coat, that hung all loose about him, and looked exactly like a flannel petticoat with large sleeves and pockets to it, and with buttons the size of penny almond cakes at least, on which were engraved pictures of stage-coaches, and sportsmen shooting. His trousers were of the well-known duster pattern, and fitted so tight, that really his legs looked like two thin rolls of wire gauze. Round his neck was twisted a large handkerchief of a staring shawl, or, indeed, almost carpet pattern, fastened by a pin, with a little gold horse-shoe at the top of it. He wore a grey hat, without any nap on it, which gave you an idea that it had been shaved to make the beaver grow stronger, and he had an eye-glass hanging down through the brim of it. He had no whiskers; and his hair was cut so short, that when he took his hat off, it looked like a drab plush wig; and when he walked, he carried his arms as curved and stiff as a pair of parentheses.

Mamma, who I could now see was most anxious to make his acquaintance, kept, every time we stopped, letting down the window, and asking either, what was the name of the place we were at? or, whose mansion that was with the long avenue of elm trees that we had passed on the road? or, how long it would be before we arrived at Brighton? And when Mr. Gee had informed her, she would appear surprised, and say, “Good gracious, so soon as that!   what beautiful horses you must drive, to be sure; but, perhaps, quite as much praise is due to the cleverness of the driver.”The last time the coach stopped to change horses, she asked whether Brighton was full, and whether there were many visitors of “ton” there or not; and having learnt from Mr. Gee that there was ” a tidy show of nobs” there, she requested to know whether he could recommend the hotel the coach stopt at; and after the Honourable Gentleman had told her he’d back it as the best house for bashawed lobsters in the whole place, she said, that, upon his recommendation, she and her daughter (drawing Mr. Gee’s attention to myself,) would make a point of putting up there.

The morning after we arrived in Brighton, on my telling Mamma that I had, whilst coming down in the coach, lost the drop out of one of my earrings, she said that I really ought to take more care of my things, and it was so annoying as she would have to go and see Mr. Gee about it, and really he might think it was only an excuse for making his acquaintance. However, on ringing the bell after breakfast, to know whether she could speak with the gentleman, she was informed that he had just two minutes before stepped out to the barracks, as at twelve o’clock that day he had a match coming off with one of the officers; and on inquiring what the match was, she learnt that Mr. Gee had bet fifty pounds that he would drink a pint of porter out of a soup plate with a teaspoon, before Captain Lollop could devour the whole of a plain penny bun.

Mamma was equally unsuccessful in her endeavours to obtain an interview the next morning, for then she heard that Mr. Gee had to make his appearance before the magistrates, at eleven o’clock, to answer a charge of having on the preceding evening, after dinner, turned off the main gas pipe of the chapel of the Independent “Wesleyans, and so plunged the whole congregation into sudden darkness. On hearing this, I couldn’t help expressing rather an unfavourable opinion of Mr. Gee’s conduct, and though Mamma agreed with me that .it was highly reprehensible, and there was scarcely any excuse to be made for it, still she said I ought to remember that young men would be young men, and that it was ridiculous to expect that you could put an old head upon such youthful shoulders as those of the Honourable Mr. Gee. Besides, I should recollect, that from the little we had seen of him, it was easy to perceive that he was a young man with a great now of animal spirits. And further, that with a purse like his, he would be able to make such ample reparation, that when she came to think of it, it did not strike her as being altogether so inexcusable as she must confess at the first blush of the thing it appeared. And she added, in conclusion, “You see, Charlotte, the poor young man sadly wants a nice little wife to look after him, and between you and me,” she continued, fixing her eyes on me, “if a certain lady I know, who is not a hundred miles from this spot, were the Honourable Mrs. Gee, I have no doubt he would soon become quite an altered being under her guidance.”

However, Mamma had set her mind on seeing Mr. Gee, and at last she succeeded. I declare, when he heard of my loss, and had ascertained that the drop was nowhere to be found in the coach, if he did not, with the greatest politeness imaginable, present me with a beautiful pair of pearl earrings. After this, what with being in the same hotel, and always meeting him either in the passage, or else on the parade, or on the pier, we became more and more intimate, for Mamma had always something complimentary to tell him. First, his dog-cart was the sweetest thing she had ever seen; or then, he must have a constitution of iron, to be able to go through such fatigues, and yet look so remarkably well as he did; and now she would stop him to tell him how I had fancied that I had seen him at the concert the other night, when who should it turn out to be, after all, but Prince George. Then she would ask him, whether the likeness had ever been noticed before, adding, that I, who was very difficult to please, thought the Prince a remarkably handsome young man. Whenever she heard him coming up, or going down stairs, she would rush to meet him, and ask him whether he could spare her a minute, for either she wanted to have his opinion upon some shells that she and her daughter had picked up on the beach, and she was sure he was a Conchologist, or else could he inform her who that disgraceful paragraph, in the Morning Post, about shop -lifting in high life, referred to, for she was dying to know who the Countess of C-with-three-stars was, and whether he thought her ladyship was likely to have carried off the pot of anchovies, as mentioned in the paper.

At last, Mamma, to her great joy, found out that Mr. Gee was a constant visitor at the Tollemaches, who were very intimate with our friends the Dowdeswells, and she got them to take us to a party where we were formally introduced to Mr. Gee, and grew to be very good friends indeed. After this, Mamma arranged a little soiree, which so completely broke the ice, that we ultimately thawed into the best of friends, and very often as we were in the same hotel Mr. Gee would dine with us, and repeatedly drop in of an evening to smoke his cigar, the smell of which, Mamma declared, she was exceedingly partial to.

It was very astonishing how Mr. Gee altered as he became better acquainted with us. When first we knew him, I could, with an occasional exception here and there, understand what he said; but as we grew more and more intimate, his figures of speech got more and more unintelligible to me, until at last really if one wanted to comprehend him, one ought to have had a pocket dictionary of the language he delighted to indulge in ready to refer to every minute. Any human being that was at all to his taste was, he declared, “a brick;” while his hat he would term with equal appropriateness “a tile.”If you inquired after his health of a morning, he was sure to be either “bobbish,” or “seedy;” while if he referred to his father, it was always under the affectionate title of “the governor.”Nor did he restrict the eccentricities of his language solely to his mother tongue. Were he about to take his leave, he would tell you that he was going to counter his baton; while at another time, if he wanted to express his approbation of my appearance, he would declare that I looked quite the fromage. After any of these remarks, he used to chuckle so heartily, that Mamma and I, fancying they must be something funny, used to laugh at them almost as much as he did. And, indeed, we both set him down as a perfect wit; for, upon my word, he would always be putting the v’s for the w’s, and the w’s for the v’s, in the most facetious manner. Sometimes, too, when the fancy took him, he would translate some of the vulgar sayings into fine language; and if ever he met me on the beach along with our Mary of a morning, he would request to know “whether my maternal parent was aware of my absence from home.” But the most curious part of all Mr. Gee’s strange language, and which was a perfect riddle to both Mamma and myself was, that everything that the rest of the world were accustomed to look up to, he styled “slow,” while everything that other people looked down upon he called “fast.” Any kind of mental occupation was “slow,” but all those which to me seemed positively cruel were fast. Reading was “slow,” but taking the linch-pin out of a washerwoman’s cart, was “fast;” music was “slow,” but throwing red-hot halfpence to Italian boys was “fast;”dancing was “slow,” but a maggot race for a hundred pounds a-side was “fast.”

These opinions of Mr. Gee certainly did not tend to increase my admiration of him, and whenever I ventured to hint as much to Mamma, she would say I was a sad, sad, ungrateful girl, and didn’t deserve to be acquainted with a member of the aristocracy, and she really must beg that, whatever my sentiments might be, I would keep them locked up in my own bosom for the future, or else I should be having people fancy that I had never known a young nobleman before in all my life. And my dear, she would continue, you really should remember that, whatever Mr. Gee’s eccentricities may be, still everybody allows he has no vice in him, and I’m sure even his greatest enemy couldn’t charge him with a want of generosity; for if ever he inflicts a wound, he is always ready to heal it with a Bank Note. Now there’s that case when he and Sir Sidney Buzzard punished the policeman so severely that the man was obliged to leave the force didn’t Mr. Gee, in the handsomest manner, settle ten shillings aweek on the lucky fellow for the rest of his life? And hav’n’t you heard Mr. Gee over and over again say he had out of his own pocket put a common prizefighter a ”the Hampstead Bulldog” I think he called him in a very respectable public-house, merely because he had taken a fancy to the man? And isn’t it well known nothing pleases him better than to treat the poor London cabmen of a night to bottles and bottles of champagne, out of their common pewter pots? And surely such acts as these are more than sufficient to make amends for any other little irregularities that the Honourable gentleman might be guilty of. Besides, are you so blind, my love, to your own interest, as to set your face against the young man, when you yourself have heard Mrs. Tollemache say, that the only son between him and the title is going out of this empty world as fast as a consumption can gallop, and that his dear, noble old brother has already got at least one foot in the grave. And, to conclude, you know as well as I do, what kind of husbands “reformed rakes” are generally said to make. The fact was, Mamma, it was clear, had made up her mind that I was to marry Mr. Gee.

She told me she had dreamt that I was Lady Fortiwinx, three nights running; and she was continually planning means for bringing us together. And really I, from seeing the man so often, and from the presents he gave me, began to grow less and less disgusted with him every day. It was no fault of Mamma’s, too, if Mr. Gee didn’t think very highly of me. Before my face, and behind my back, she was continually singing my praises. I was such a dear, affectionate thing   she didn’t know what on earth she should do when the time came for me to leave her, for of course she could not expect that I should remain always with her. Though there was only one thing she prayed for, and that was, that the happy man who had me would be able to appreciate my worth. So that after a month or so, Mr. Gee and I used to be seen so frequently together, that both the Tollemaches and the Dowdeswells, were continually quizzing me, and asking me whether the day was fixed, and requesting to know whether I happened to want such a thing as a bride’s maid or not; while all the time Mamma only kept wondering why Mr. Gee didn’t propose. However, as she said there was nothing like a pic-nic (unless, indeed, it was a moonlight ramble) for converting Bachelors into Benedicts, she was determined to get up a grand one to the Devil’s Dyke, and it would be odd, indeed, if that didn’t bring matters to a crisis. She had no idea of seeing me dilly-dallying away the best part of my life, and all my good looks, with those social dogs-in-the-manger   silent suitors, who won’t propose themselves, and yet prevent people who would from doing so.

End of Excerpt

14 Replies to “Whom to Marry and How to Get Married or, The Adventures of a Lady in Search of a Good Husband”

  1. Poor girl. I don’t think matters were any different during the Regency or later in the century.
    The young aristocratic stagecoach man is a character who needs to be given new life in a different novel.

  2. Nancy, isn’t he just horrible in a fabulous way. When the authors say he was stroking his imperial…does that mean what I think it means?

  3. I’m fairly certain his imperial is a cravat knot, not his neither bits.

    What I want to know for certain is if Mr. Gee was really noble, or this was a hoax on the silliest pair.

    But goodness, when the speak of matchmaking mamas this is clearly what they mean.

  4. I think the imperial is a beard. That is usually what it means.The online dictionary does say imperial could be the top of a carriage– that is a definition unknown to me.

  5. @Abigail – I don’t think it is a hoax. I will read on and let you know. There are more offers coming. Unfortunately, I don’t think the story has a happy ending and there are serious parts to the book. What is interesting to note is that Henry Mayhew is also the author of the deadly serious “London Labour and the London Poor.” I also think he was a contributor to “Punch.”

    What I really like about this piece is the phrasing and words. If I’m writing around 1848, I can review this story and pull out popular cultural phrases.

  6. June, 2012. I have just started to read this book. It has been in my collection of old books for 40 years, unfortunately the front page is missing so that I did not know who wrote it or the date it was written. Thank you very much for the information, I did not think that there would be another copy still in existence! What a coincidence!

  7. @Roger, I wish I could be so lucky as to have a copy of this book with its illustrations. I found it digitized on google books and uploaded it to my kindle. It’s a joy to read. I think there is another such book titled “a lady is search of a good servant” or something like that.

  8. Since finding your excerpt, I see that Amazon sells reprints of this book (paperback) and others of the same authors.
    I also have several fragile books of ‘The Ladies Monthly Museum’ 1802 – 6 which are also mentioned on your website.

  9. Some of the reprints of older books now being sold used to be free Google downloads. Though I bought a physical book of one I had copies from a library years ago ( my photocopies are much better than the published new book of the pdf pages,, but I was afraid of losing separate sheets), it irks me that so many books are now marked so we can’t download them because someone is publishing a book that is 200 years old.
    Roger– you have 4 years of Ladies Monthly museum! How great. I only have 9 months of 1815 printed off of microfiche. There are some copies of this magazine on Google and some even have coloured prints of the fashions.

    I do like that last illustration of the women catching a fish. How apt!

  10. @Roger – You are going to make the Jane Austen fans drool! Do you have any copies of the “The Beau Monde” ? I wish I had more time, I would add more of the short stories found in those old magazines and journals to the blog.

  11. @ Nancy – you gotta start getting some of your source material online. You’re hogging it all 😉

  12. Sorry, Susanna I don’t have “The Beau Monde”

    NANCY – Amazon sells copies of ‘The Ladies Monthly Museum” vols 5 & 6. Quite pricey though, but says that you can download a free copy from the publishers.

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