Popping the Question with the Phonograph: 1888

phonograph recording couple

SHE HAD HIM.

The Phonograph as a Third Party at a Popping of the Question.

From The Chicago Tribune.

“Are you in earnest, Mr. Hankinson?”

The lovely girl who asked this question of Marcellus Hankinson sat behind the cater table with her hands in her lap and regarded the young man intently.

“In earnest, Irene!” he exclaimed, pale with emotion and chronic dyspepsia. “The whole happiness of my life is wrapped up in your answer to the question I have asked. If you will trust your future in my hands, my life shall be devoted to the task of making you happy. It will be my sole aim to shield you from the rude blasts of all adversity, to smooth your pathway through the world, to interpose my right arm between you and every danger that threatens to disturb your peace, and—“

“If I listen to your suit, Mr. Hankinson,” interrupted the young lady, casting her eyes with some timidity and confusion to the floor, “you may regret it some day. You would find me ignorant of the practical duties of housekeeping and without—“

“Practical duties of housekeeping!” broke in the enthusiastic youth; “you will have no practical duties of that kind. As my wife you shall not be a drudge. You shall be the queen of my home. You consent, do you not, my dar—“

“Wait a moment, my dear Mr. Hankinson. I am afraid you would find me thoughtless and extravagant in a great many things.”

“Extravagant! Irene, it will be the joy of my life to provide you with whatever may gratify your slightest whim. You can never make a request of me that I would not rejoice to anticipate and grant beforehand.”

“And you would be willing to spend all your evenings at home?”

“My angel, I never would want to spend them anywhere else.”

“You would never break my heart by joining a club or becoming a drinking man?”

“Hear me, Irene! I promise never to do either.”

“Let me see,” said the young lady, meditatively; “I think that is all—O! You will agree to have the word ‘obey’ left out of my part of the marriage service, will you, Mr. Hankinson?”

“Obey! Ha! Ha! Why, my own, certainly. I am even willing to promise to obey you!”

“Then, Marcellus,” said the lovely girl, as she lifted a full-grown phonograph off her lap, locked it carefully in the drawer of the secretary that stood against the wall, turned up the gas, and beamed in a sweet yet business-like manner upon the terror-stricken young man, “I am yours!”

St. Louis [MO] Post-Dispatch 5 March 1888: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One does feel a certain amount of sympathy for the terror-stricken young man. Who among us wishes to recall the foolish things said in heedless moments of youthful passion? And who among us wishes to be the principal in a breach of promise suit, when there is such iron-clad evidence? Mrs Daffodil fears that the young man will just have to take his medicine and like it. If he is a smoker, he will have one solace: the young lady did not mention tobacco use. He may be able to retreat to a cosy smoking room or spend his leisure time out on the porch with a cigarette or a pipe. That is, if the “obey” clause is not invoked over such behaviour.

On a happier note, this shy swain used the technology to his advantage.

POPPING THE QUESTION

A Backward Swain Utilized His Adored One’s Photograph.

A few days ago a neatly dressed, well appearing young man entered a music store in this city and asked to look at their line of phonographs.

The obliging clerk, in a courteous manner, showed him how the instruments were operated and entered into a minute description concerning the delicate parts of which they are composed.
The young man seemed to be ill at ease, acting in a manner to lead one to surmise that he had some grave problem before him with which to grapple. And as future developments proved, he most assuredly had.

After several unsuccessful attempts he finally opened the conversation or the subject which had called him thither. Could they furnish him a blank “record” and would they record it?

When assured by the clerk that they were only too pleased to thus accommodate him, he asked that the blank be placed in the instrument. This was done, and the stranger, taking the mouth piece, started out something like the following, or at least as near as the clerk could remember:

‘Dear Alice. I trust you will pardon me, but for the past year I have silently worshipped you, only from a distance, as I could never summon sufficient courage to declare my suit. Heaven at last seems to have provided the way, and I hasten to avail myself of this opportunity, my adored one, etc. etc.” This ardent lover, by means of the phonograph did declare his love.

When the sheet was taken from the instrument, he asked that it be carefully wrapped as he wished to preserve it.

By this time the curiosity of the clerk was fully aroused and in a polite way inquired if it was to be used at an evening’s entertainment. If such was the fact it would surely make a hit.

The love stricken swain hesitated a moment, and then explained that he trusted it would make a hit, but not in the way suggested. Calling the clerk to one side in a confidential manner, he told how he had loved the young lady in question for nearly a year but could never bring himself to the point of a positive declaration and had almost given up in despair, when lo! And behold! The lady of his choice purchased a phonograph and now he would simply present her with the “record” with a request that she place it in the instrument and the business was done.

Trenton [NJ] Evening News 24 October 1899: p. 6

 

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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