Why the Club Disbanded: 1898

7 spinsters

The Seven Solitary Spinsters Club


When the President of the “Seven Solitary Spinsters” called the club to order at the last meeting she announced that she had a bitter declaration to make.

“One of our number,” she said, “has proved a renegade. Agnes, our Vice-president, has confessed that she is about to become engaged. Now, ladies, what shall we do? Shall we expel her ignominiously, or—“

A shout of disapproval drowned her voice.

“Make her an honorary member,” said the remaining members.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked, amazed. “I believe you’re all contemplating mischief of the same kind. Mme. Secretary, please hand me the list of members. Each one will please answer promptly as her name is called.”

“Alice Murray,” she continued, gazing searchingly at that young person, “are you engage?”

“Perhaps,” was the hesitating reply.

“Estelle Higgins,” was the next call, and “Yes,” came boldly in response.

“Alicia Browne,” the President called weakly, “are you engaged?”

“No,” said Alicia, but so faintly that the suspicions of the President were aroused in full force.

“Are you going to be?” she questioned again, and “I think so,” responded the tortured one.

“Malvina Emerson Stowe,” the President’s voice had a harsh ring by this time, and Malvina trembled as she admitted that she, too, was contemplating matrimony. The President made a dramatic pause. Then: “There are seven of us, or, rather, there were seven, and five have admitted their guilt. There only remains the Secretary and myself. Miss Secretary, how is it with you? Are you ‘engaged,’ or are you only going to be?”’

“I rather think I am going to be,” said the Secretary, softly.

“Then, ladies,” the President began, rising with impressive air, “The only thing to be done is to disband the club. Six of its seven members have unequivocally declared their intentions of deserting, while the seventh member, myself”—again she paused dramatically—“wishes to announce that she is ahead of you all. My wedding cards are already in the engraver’s hands, and I am to be married two weeks from Saturday.” Chicago Times-Herald.

The Record-Union [Sacramento, CA] 17 January 1898: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well, really… if Mrs Daffodil had been there, she might have snapped the President with a wedding garter. The nerve.  Plus engraved wedding cards.  Mrs Daffodil will grudgingly grant her that. At least their recipients will have nothing to carp about as they run a fingernail over the raised lettering.

Still, Mrs Daffodil has noticed that the young folks seem to take increased pleasure in their courtships, the more surreptitiously they are conducted. There is something about sneaking out of the house on a moonlit night to meet one’s lover in the orchard that adds a certain zest not found when one’s young man is seated several inches away on the horsehair sofa in the parlour, leafing through an album of photo-gravures and making himself agreeable to the chaperone.  Indeed, without the contemplation of mischief and the thrill of secret engagements, the human race might die out altogether.

Spinsters’ Clubs were a novelty of the late-19th and early-20th century, often arising among young ladies at college and inspired by the Women’s Rights movement. One suspects that many of them quietly dispersed when their members defected into matrimony.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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