One often reads that marriage is the most momentous event in a woman's life. Indeed, looked at in advance, through girlhood and young womanhood, it certainly looms large, and is the goal to which the majority of girls look forward.
This, however, is not the case. Nature has bestowed upon womankind a desire to please, a vanity which is not a fault when kept within the bounds of moderation; and, in some cases, an innate coquetry that displays itself at a remarkably early age.
Noting this armour for the subjugation of man, the male observer has naturally inferred a deliberate attack upon his liberty, a resolute determination to conquer. But, as a matter of fact, the average girl is innocent of anything other than a desire to please, a love of admiration, and a happy enjoyment of complimentary remarks. Her attitude towards men is not that of the huntress, but that of the spectator interested in an amusing game which at any minute she may be called upon to join.
Men seldom do justice to the innocence of a girl's thoughts about love and marriage. They attribute to her not only the man-hunting propensity, but ideas and feelings which very few young women entertain. There is a virginal delicacy in the heart and mind of the ordinary girl, and this can be appreciated only by those of the other sex who are pure-minded and fine of nature.
There are many such men; we have it on excellent authority, that of Dr. Winnington Ingram, Bishop of London, and it is one of the happiest characteristics of the present age that there is a large number of young men with a high moral standard, whose ideal of life is star-high compared with that of their predecessors of but one generation ago.
We had ancestors who seldom went sober to bed, and who thought every village girl, every dressmaker's assistant, a lawful prey. It is to such men as these - the two-bottle men, the dissipated ones - that women owe the poor place they occupy even now in the estimation of many.
Mothers ought to prepare their girls in some way against the onslaught of love. It is so insidious in its approach, so overwhelming when it seizes a victim, so utterly different from any previous experience, that a girl is often hard put to it to conceal her preference.
The poor girl, however must not sigh. She has been taught that to show a preference for any man before he has shown a decided one for her is to be unmaidenly. Moreover. even without such teaching she is aware that to display any such inclination would result in much humiliation for herself if the man were not to reciprocate the sentiment.
Sometimes, out of pure anxiety to hide her feeling, she snubs the unfortunate man so effectually that he, much wounded in his pride, turns his thoughts to another girl, whom he woos and wins.
Life is full of such heart-wearing episodes, and novelists and playwrights could not live without them.
There is a delightful time that comes before a definite word is spoken between the two whom mutual inclination draws together. It is like the rosy flush of dawn before the sunrise. Each knows that the other is attracted, and has a confident anticipation of happiness to come. It is a time of expectant waiting when the two are reverent to each other and to the beautiful sense of love.
There is about it a soft vagueness which, like a light morning mist, enhances the exquisite charm of the atmosphere.
Then comes the word that crystallises and concentrates the tumultuous sensations.
The sun has risen, and brought with it sharp effects of light and shadow. The beautifying mists are gone, and even the happiest girl, her promise given. feels some vague sense of faint regret for a moment which never can recur. It is the same kind of feeling that makes her. if truly in love, wish to delay speaking of her engagement, even to her nearest.
To talk of a thing so sacred, she feels, takes some of the bloom off it. Like Mary of the Bible story, she would like to ponder these things in her heart. The actual, the real, however, steps in, and the ideal has to retreat before it.
Worldly wisdom sometimes sets itself against young love, and often it is justified in doing so.
The two so irresistibly attracted to ea other cannot stay to consider such trifling things as inequality of rank, insufficiency of means. some hereditary taint of constitution, difference of religion, or other rocks in the stream that prevent the course of true love from running smoothly.
To be precipitate. therefore, in announcing an engagement to one's circle of acquaintance is a mistake, unless fair weather is likely to attend the journey to the wedding.
Who has not seen in the columns of the " Morning Post " or the " Court Journal ' an announcement to the effect that ' the marriage arranged between Miss Such-an-one and Mr. So-and-so will not take place '
Many a girl has regretted that her engagement should have been made public before the wishes of both families had been fully ascertained. or ample inquiry made into the circumstances of her fiance and his previous life.