Courting and dating history being friends after dating
The woman's father was expected to provide a dowry.The well-heeled were aware that there were scurrilous and ruthless fortune hunters looking to ensnare wealthy heiresses. For some couples there was heartbreak; for others, resignation.In Romeo and Juliet tradition, status, property, and wealth were the dealmakers or the dealbreakers.In early colonial days, marriage might have little to do with the emotional entanglement of two young people. Romantic love did not figure in the parents' equations, and it was not until about the middle of the eighteenth century, when parental influence began to decline, that the concept of love got serious consideration as a matrimonial prerequisite.Ben and Ellen Knecht exchange vows—with, from left, John Labanish, Pamela Blount, Andre Lane, Mike Luzzi, Teresa Ponziani, Jim Kent, Pat Mahon, and Christina Lane. Not a few parents pine for the courtship rules and rites of, let us say, those halcyon colonial times, when, as they understand it, propriety tempered ardor, virtue checked passion, and abstinence made the heart grow fonder.Many a modern mother and father brood about the matches their sons and daughters will make. "Distance," as Thomas Campbell wrote in 1799, "lends enchantment," and two centuries later, for many worry-ridden parents, the perfect courtship model follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen's smoldering Mr.Sometimes these affairs ended happily, sometimes not.For young girls, it was prudent to hide a couple of friends in the closet to secretly witness the pledges and forestall backsliding.
But the rituals of Austen's Pride and Prejudice—idealistically drafted in 1796—as shining examples have long since been passed over, and courtship, that delicate art of hooking a prospective mate and playing the fish all the way to a preacher, is all but dead.
The problem was that a swain eager to start a household of his own often had to wait until his father or guardian saw fit to dispense his property in the son's favor.