09 February 2012

Leap Year Advice - 1884


Miss Belinda Valentine asks us how ladies should proceed in their leap year love-making.  She remarks plaintively that the opportunity comes only once in four years, and she therefore wishes to make the best of her advantages, and any light that can be thrown on the theory and practice she will be very grateful for.

The subject is one which we take up with the greatest diffidence, feeling our utter inability to furnish her with a sustained and accurate detail of what she should or should not do.  We have also a fellow feeling for our own sex.  Women are sufficiently dangerous already.  If informed of our little vanities, weaknesses, points of attack and the hidden approaches to our hearts, no man could call himself safe.  But an editor owes a duty to the public which he cannot justly neglect.  We will therefore make the attempt, giving all the information that we can, and deprecating censure if we fail.

In the first place, it is as well to say right here that there is a certain class of young men who will meet you half way, or more, in any advances you make.  About these it is useless to give any advice, for your efforts in any case will be crowned with success.  The other class comprise the modest, bashful young men, and with these it is necessary to proceed cautiously.  Usually they have been brought up in a quiet little country town like San Rafael, and have spent most of their time in company with their mothers or maiden aunts. To these you must make love by the method which rhetoricians call "progressive approach"—in other words, step by step.

You have become acquainted with the young man, and he has asked you to call on him. Your first visit is, of course, informal.  Talk to him about flowers, the country, horseback riding, and the books he likes best.  First impressions are always valuable, and hence, above all things, avoid shocking him in any way.  Don't chew cloves to make him believe you haven't been drinking, and avoid all conversation about cock-fighting, horse-racing and the like.  Also, don't stay too late.  Young men of this class like to go to bed early, and if he wonders why the milkman has not come or goes out to look for the morning paper, you should take it as a hint and leave.

Repeat your visit in a few days, and let your calls increase in frequency, by degrees insinuating yourself into his confidence.  Flatter him judiciously, and show a certain deference to his opinions.  At the same time, do not run this into the ground.  If the youth is inclined to be vain, take his conceit down a peg or two in a quiet, womanly way.  It may be even necessary occasionally to hit him a moral slap on the face, as, for instance, ignoring him in the presence of other young men, and by talking of other people you are sweet on.  In this way he is made to understand that he is not the only fellow in the world.

As your acquaintance grows ask him to go walking with you.  Call him Willy or George (as the case may be), and then immediately beg his pardon for taking the liberty of addressing him by his Christian name.  He will probably say that you can do so always, if you like.  This is a great step gained.  Now you may begin to make love to him in a sly way; but be careful, or you will scare him off.  Everything in this should be done in the most circumspect manner, so that his natural coyness may be overcome gradually and without any direct shock to his feelings or principles.

When you are once satisfied that you have established yourself impregnably in his affections, the hardest part of the campaign is still before you.  Having made up your mind to declare yourself, call on him early in the evening, about the full of the moon, and propose to sit on the little vine-clad portico away from the street.  When there, be at first a trifle abstracted; heave a sigh now and then, and seem generally miserable.  Then say, with a sudden burst of feeling, that you have determined never to marry.  He will start at this and appear uneasy.  After your remark has had complete effect on him, add in a confidential whisper: "Unless the man I intend to propose to will have me."  Mark the result.  If he loves you, he will hang his head and blush.  

Now, if ever, is your opportunity.  Fire his imagination with descriptions of a cottage covered with the trailing honey-suckle, and how happy both of you might be in it.  Draw a picture of the scene.  Himself driving the team a-field, and you staying at home darning his stockings, chopping kindling wood and keeping the pot boiling.  All this time work your chair nearer and nearer to where he is seated.  When you have reached the proper distance lay your hand carelessly on his.  If he makes no resistance, but simply looks on the ground and says nothing, gently entwine your arms around his waist.  He will probably draw back and say "don't," but you are now in for it, and decisive measures are necessary.  Draw him to your bosom with kind and imperceptible force and smother his remonstrance with a kiss.  If he flutters like a bird, in a sort of happy fear, release him partially, stroke his mustache and tell him not to be frightened, for you love him dearly.

Unless he expresses himself in the most positive manner, and says he is an unprotected male, but will defend himself, etc., the battle is over and you have won him.  What transpires after this you must be personally responsible for.  The writer has never been married, and consequently can give no advice as to your deportment when you reach this state.  If, however, you wish to rehearse these rules, come to our office and we will indulge you, or, if we are not in, some one of our many good looking employes will.  The Teacher, unlike some doctors, is always ready to take its own medicine.

The California Teacher and Home Journal, Vol 2-3 (1884), p. 107