Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brown's Matrimonial Method

Brown's Matrimonial Method
A Vignette of Victorian Advice

Marriage and home : or, proposal and espousal : a Christian treatise on the most sacred relations to mortals known, love, marriage, home
by "A Clergyman"
Published 1888, Copyright 1886 (now in the public domain)
[See source links at bottom of article.]

"Brown, I don't see how it is that your girls all marry off as soon as they are old enough, while none of mine can marry."

"Oh! that's simple enough. I marry my girls off on the buckwheat straw principle."

"But what is that principle? I never heard of it before."

"Well, I used to raise a good deal of buckwheat, and it puzzled me a good deal to get rid of the straw. Nothing would eat it, and it was a great bother to me. At last I thought of a plan. I stacked my buckwheat straw nicely, and built a high rail fence around it. My cattle, of course, concluded that it was something good, and at once tore down the fence and began to eat the straw. I drove them away and put up the fence a few times, but the more I drove them away, the more anxious they became to eat the straw. After this had been repeated a few times, the cattle determined to eat the straw, and eat it they did, every bit of it. As I said, I marry my girls off on the same principle. When a young man I don't like begins calling on my girls, I encourage him in every way I can. I tell him to come as often and stay as late as he pleases, and I take pains to hint to the girls that I think they'd better set their caps for him. It works first-rate. He don't make many calls, for the girls treat him as coolly as they can. But when a young fellow that I like comes around, a man that I think would suit me for a son-in-law, I don't let him make many calls before I give him to understand that he isn't wanted around my house. I tell the girls, too, that they shall not have anything to do with him, and give them orders never to speak to him again. The plan works first rate. The young folks begin to pity each other, and the next thing I know they are engaged to be married. When I see that they are determined to marry, I always give in, and pretend to make the best of it. That's the way to manage it."

See the full text of this Victorian-era book:

Note: the transcription, above, is precisely as it appears in the original text on pp 129-130, including paragraphs.

Because I write Sweet Victorian American West Romance, I'm particularly interested in attitudes about courtship and matrimony in the 19th century and found this vignette amusing. As a mother, I see human nature hasn't changed in the intervening 128 years. Much has changed since the Victorian West; much has remained constant.

What do you think of Brown's advice? Is it as applicable today as it was in 1888?

Hi! I'm Kristin Holt.

I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page) about the nineteenth century American west–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Americana Sweethearts (first Friday of each month) and Romancing the Genres (third Tuesday of each Month).

I love to hear from readers! Please drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook.

Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC


Paty Jager said...

This is funny and so true! Both of the cows and the people. Great post.

Kristin Holt said...

Thanks, Paty!
One of those golden historical nuggets I found while researching. Thanks for commenting!

Diana McCollum said...

I had to laugh at the post. Reverse psychology is still in practice today! Great post!

Connie said...

So funny! I may have to try it.

Connie said...

So funny! I may have to try it.

Kristin Holt said...

Thanks, Diana--
You're so right! Isn't history fun?

Kristin Holt said...

Thanks, Connie!
I agree--funny and charming. I love how some things seem to always stay the same, no matter how much has changed since the Victorian era.

Margaret Tanner said...

Very true. Great post.

Kristin Holt said...

Thanks, Margaret!

Judith Ashley said...

Totally agree that it can still be true...the grass (or in this case buckwheat straw) is often greener on the other side. I'm always struck by the attitudes from the Regency and Victorian era that still have residuals even in 2016 but were strong influences in the years of my childhood and early adulthood.