Dating in the 1800s
These days, if a guy is interested in a woman, he walks up to her, says a cheesy pick-up line, and she decides if it’s too corny or not, and then either offers him a seat or gives him the boot.In my day, if you hit it off, the guy would call you the next day to show his continued interest and a second date would generally follow.And that, my friends, is a first date and a follow-up – Regency style.I have diluted this process greatly, and some historians might argue that if a lady danced more than one dance with a gentleman she would be labeled “fast.” However, for this article, I’m keeping it simple.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on courtship amongst the upper echelon of British society during the Regency period (early 1800s).Courtship was a very serious matter back in the day.Until 1882, virtually all of a woman’s property became her husband’s upon marriage. Actually, in Regency times, if a gentleman did not know the lady, he must first be introduced to her before speaking to her.Flash forward to the 20th century where romance played an increasingly important role in dating.
So you can see why a woman of marriageable age would be somewhat selective in her beau. How did a gentleman eager for a lady’s attention garner her notice? As she strolled by, he would present her with the delicate turn of his Hessian-clad ankle. After the appropriate introduction, he might ask her to dance. High society would have the couple practically engaged if the couple stood up together for more than two or three dances in one evening.
The next morning, the gentleman would send his ladylove a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or he would hand deliver them himself during a prescribed 15-minute visit.