The Historical Spectator.

Advice on Courtship.

From a chapbook published in the early 1800s comes some very practical advice on how to win hearts. One might be forgiven for thinking that the penultimate paragraph contradicts some of the other advice.

Bachelors, Maids, Widowers, and Widows.

There are certain rules which must be observed in courtships: and first, to maids who do not possess their first blushes, your first address must be with gentleness and modesty, lest you frighten them with an opinion that you are rude and uncivil of behaviour, and rather aim at debauching them than any intention of marriage; and you must be brisk with them, or they will take you for a drone without a sting.

Widows, especially young ones, are gamesome and buxom; for having once smelt the spit, they always love a good joint. Those you must entertain with some merry discourse, and lay aside whining or solemn protestations; kiss them till their ears crack and when you find a convenient time and place, warm them with caresses, squeezing their hand, gently treading on their toes; and when you kiss bear close to them. You will soon perceive, by their eager looks, blushing, and frequent changing of colour, that now is the time to ask a favour, to which you will have a faint denial, if any at all; then make the best use of your time, and press forward without delay;—delays are dangerous, and many a fair opportunity has slipped, that could never afterwards be recovered.

As for maids or widows, if you like a brisk man, and are bashful, you may use dumb signs, which is called love’s silent language; gaze on his face, and when he perceives it, suddenly take off your eyes and turn your head aside; blush naturally, forcibly hold out your breathing, and start a little when first you see him at any time, as if you were surprised; if he takes your hand grasp him with a little trembling, and then seem to withdraw your hand again, as if uneasy; if he kisses you, stay your lips on his awhile, as if with great affection. He must be very dull that will not take these hints for the signs of tender love.

Above all things, either men or women ought to conduct themselves with perfect modesty and decorum in the presence of those they esteem, as it is the most certain method of gaining their esteem and love.

More might be said on this subject, but nature and practice are the best instructors.

From The New Golden Dreamer. A true interpretation of dreams, with other curious matter regarding love and courtship. —An addendum: the same text is found in this chapbook, which is probably twenty years older.