Tag Archives: marriage

People Who Should Not Marry: 1903

Sound advice for the man or woman who marries for money.

Sound advice for the man or woman who marries for money.

Women Who Should Not Marry.

The woman who would rather nurse a pug dog than a baby.

The woman who thinks she can get $5,000 worth of style out of a $1,000 salary.

The woman who wants to refurnish her house every spring.

The woman who buys for the mere pleasure of buying.

The woman who does not know how many pennies, halves, quarters, dimes and nickels there are in a dollar.

The woman who thinks men are angels and demi-gods.

The woman who would die rather than wear a bonnet two seasons.

The woman who thinks that the cook and the nurse can run the house.

The woman who reads cheap novels and dreams of being a duchess or a countess.

The woman who thinks it is cheaper to buy bread than to bake it.

The woman who marries in order to have somebody pay her bills.

The woman who expects a declaration of love three times a day.

The woman who anticipates a good, easy time all her life.

The woman who cares more for the style of her winter coat than she does for the health and comfort of her children.

The woman who stays at home only because she has no place to visit.

The woman who thinks embroidered centrepieces and doylies are more important than sheets, pillow-cases and blankets.

The woman who buys bric-a-brac for her parlor and borrows kitchen utensils from her neighbors.

Men Who Should Not Marry.

On the masculine side it is the man who talks about supporting a wife when she is working fourteen hours a day, including Sunday.

The man who thinks it is all nonsense for a woman to want a ten-cent bunch of violets when she hasn’t seen a flower for five months.

A man who imagines a woman’s bonnet ought to cost about seventy-five cents.

A man who thinks his wife exists for the comfort and convenience of his mother and sisters.

The man who provides himself with a family and trusts in Providence to provide a home and something to eat.

The man who thinks all women are angels.

The man who thinks that no one but an angel is fit to be his wife.

The man who thinks a woman ought to be her own milliner, dressmaker, seamstress, cook, housemaid and nurse.

The man who cannot remember his wife’s birthday.

The man who thinks his wife is fixed for the season if she has a new gown.

The man who thinks a woman ought to give up a thousand-dollar salary and work in his kitchen for her board and a few clothes, and be glad of the chance.

The man who labors under the delusion that his wife’s money belongs to him.

The man who says, “Love me, love my dog.”

The man who thinks a parlor carpet ought to last fifteen years.

The man who has a $75 fishing tackle and cannot afford new curtains for the dining room.

The man who doesn’t know what on earth a woman wants with money when she has credit at a dry goods store.

The man who thinks a sick wife would feel a great deal better if she would get up and stir around.

The man who forgets his manners as soon as he steps across his own threshold.

The man who thinks he can keep house better than his wife does.

The man who loves to go home to grumble and growl.

The man who quotes the Apostle Paul on the “woman question” and who firmly believes that the mantle of the apostle has fallen upon him.

The man who looks upon his wife as a waste basket into which he dumps the “chips” collected during the day. –Philadelphia Inquirer.

New Castle, [PA] News, December 30 1903

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: And there, neatly tied up in a parcel, we find nearly every cliché of the nineteenth-century Battle of the Sexes. Some are still current in the twenty-first. On wet afternoons Mrs Daffodil sometimes enjoys an agony aunt column in one of the lurid tabloids favoured by the footmen. Recently she read a cri de coeur from a lady whose husband repeatedly ignored her birthday despite her exceedingly modest request for a fairy cake or a card, and a puzzled complaint from a gentleman who has given his inamorata a car, paid her bills, bailed her “cousin” out of jail, and yet feels that the cosy intimacy he had hoped for is somehow lacking. If Mrs Daffodil has learnt anything from the annals of agony-aunting, it is that a) many people enter alliances in a rosy cloud of misplaced hope, b) those same hopeful people seem determined to repeat their mistakes, and c) there is very little in domestic relations that cannot be mended by a dose of some undetectable poison. [Disclaimer: the latter course should only be put into the capable hands of a professional. It is always disagreeable to see amateurs in the dock.]

Here are rules for choosing agreeable husbands and hints to young men on selecting a wife.

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.


The Society of American Widows: 1916

1916 widow


Omaha, Neb., March 30. The widows of the nation are organizing!

Led by Mrs. Bessie C. Turpin of Omaha, widows have founded a union to prepare for the avalanche of widows that will sweep down upon this country at the end of the European war and to better the lot of all widows in this man-made world.

“All classes in the world except widows are organized,” says Mrs. Turpin, “and there are no persons more in need of the help that comes through co-operation.

“Most widows are mothers, and when these women are suddenly thrown upon the world to support themselves and children they find almost insurmountable obstacles. We are organizing to help them solve these problems.

The Society of American Widows is no joke. It has a real program, and Mrs. Turpin has taken up the work so seriously she has lost her job as bookkeeper at the Booth fisheries.

But she has not allowed a little thing like that to block her campaign to organize the millions of widows throughout the country.

Here are some of the things the widows’ society plans to do:

Obtain from merchants a 10 per cent discount on all purchases.

Establish a sewing department, employment bureau, reading, rest and lunch rooms and a day nursery in the business districts in all large cities.

Build profit-sharing apartment houses, including gymnasium, music and assembly rooms, to be occupied by widows and their families at low rentals.

Publish a monthly magazine to deal with the widows’ problems and arouse interest in the movement in every city.

Mrs. Turpin has been able to go on with the work of organizing widows by the generosity of wealthy persons. She has been presented a checking account equivalent to two months of the salary she received keeping books for the fish company.

Any widow in any town or city who wants to start a local branch of the widows’ organization can have full information by writing Mrs. Turpin at 2415 Dewey Ave., Omaha, Neb.

“There are more than 2,000 widows in this city alone, and most of them are mothers,” says Mrs. Turpin. “It is therefore safe to say millions of children in America will also be helped by our society.

“We will try to win co-operation of business men. Already the outlook in Nebraska and Iowa is bright.

“I have found that widows number among the lowest percentage of persons receiving aid. We will not offer charity to widows. If we find one destitute we will help her on her promise to pay when she can.

“We aim to place all widows in an independent position so they may face the world without fear for the future, and, if necessary, take care of their children as well, as if there were a good husband at their side to fight their battles for them.”

The Day Book [Chicago, IL] 31 March 1916: p. 15

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has not been able to find that the American widows’ union ever gained much of a foothold, even though the intrepid Mrs Turpin was sadly correct about the avalanche of widows at the end of the Great War. Yet perhaps there was a different outlook in the States, for in 1919, English widows were said to be in high demand.


Single Girls Abandoned in England for Women Who Have Plenty of Experience

London, Friday, Aug. 15. Traditionally attractive, the widow is becoming even more popular with “marriageable” men in Britain.

“Why did I marry a widow? Well, just imagine you were buying a horse; you’d buy one that had been broken in. In any case you’d have more sense that to put a fresh young thing straight into harness and expect it to carry you and your dog cart into town without a mishap,” quoth one sturdy swain who possessed the heavenly gift of logic and had reached the stage of fat-and-forty, when Comfort so often cuts out Cupid.

“The same with a woman. Take my advice, marry a widow; you’ll find she is well trained for domestic life. The worst is over. She has no illusions about men.”
This growing popularity of the widow is creating quite a stir among “bachelor girls.” They prefer the name to that of spinsters. Their protest is to the effect that widows have had their share and they ought to stand aside and let others have a chance. [See a previous post on this subject.] But widows are in great demand….

The widow holds strange power. Many girls say if they wore widow’s weeds and a ring they would have proposals in no time.

“More widders is married than single wimmen,” said the immortal Sam Weller. He’s right—in England. Seattle [WA] Daily Times 15 August 1919: p. 14

Several chapters about widows, along with a myriad of other items on the oddities of Victorian mourning will be found in The Victorian Book of the Dead, by Chris Woodyard, which is now available as a paperback and in a Kindle edition. The book is a look at the popular manifestations and ephemera of Victorian death culture. In addition to mourning novelties, burial alive, strange funerals, ghost stories, bizarre deaths and petrified corpses may be taken as read.

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.



A Love-Haunted Chamber: 1901




All Who Sleep Within Its Walls Succumb to His Power

A Cure for Celibacy.

A love-haunted chamber is something new in spook lore, and it is a departure from conventional stories of the weird and eerie to encounter an experience in which the god of love, wreathed in smiles and soft blandishments, takes the place of sheet-shrouded wraith or horrid specter.

There is a certain mansion near Washington that possesses a haunted apartment, which, however, instead of being shunned by visitors is eagerly sought by the young and sometimes designedly inhabited by persons of uncertain age, but, like Barkis, willin’. For it is whispered through the country around that if an unmarried person but stay overnight in this room matrimonial prospects will soon thereafter be manifest, and if the sleeper be inclined that way, will take definite shape and eventuate at the altar. Indeed, there are stories of the potency of the charm that hovers about the room going further and enthralling unwilling captives or those who unwittingly and with no thought of love have risked themselves within its magic portals.

It is a large and cheery room, beautifully decorated in blue and gold and rose, with rose-tinted curtains and carpet. On one wall is a panel bearing a painting of Cupid leading a maid through a tangle of roses, she half-hesitating yet half eagerly following her guide. On the opposite wall another Cupid beckons an Apollo, who, nothing loath, presses joyously onward. The room was once the bower of a young girl, the pride of the countryside and the light of that household, who, before Cupid could rivet the silk-incased chains he was winding about her, was called away.

For a long time he room was closed and remained just as she had left it. Then, after a period, when the hospitable old house again opened its doors, and one night when there was a press of company, the daughter’s room was given over to occupancy by a guest. It happened that this guest was a maiden relative whom the gods had punished for her early scorning of their offers by withholding opportunities until anxiety had begun to take the place of indifference. All unconscious of what was in store for her, she laid herself between the lavender-scented linen of the mahogany bed, and before blowing out the candle by the bedside admired the decoration of the walls and noted the harmonious scheme that was worked out in the Cupids rioting in the carving of the footboard.

All thorough the night she was half aware of delightful dreams. The Cupids from the walls and the carvings seemed to be busy about her bedside with garlands and ropes of flowers, and throughout their weaving game the Apollo on the wall appeared to be active and to stand out in a strange, soft radiance of light. Next day she laughingly told her story, and when a week later she departed, lo, she carried with her the heart and offer of the hand of a member of the party.

The next coincidence was connected with the visit of a hardened bachelor, whom a prayerful mother had wished for years to see safely in the leading strings of some good woman. This scornful wretch openly flouted the story of the love-haunted room, and defiantly offered to sleep within it, betting a basket of France’s best vintage that he would come off unscathed by Cupid’s arrows. With mock ceremony he was escorted to the haunted chamber, and left by his host with an earnest wish for a safe night and sound sleep.

The visitor noted that the bed was between the two panels, and he moved it beneath the panel of Apollo and Cupid, in a very spirit of bravado, as if to dare them to do their worst. Then he blew out the candle and was soon snoring most unromantically, as the result of the day’s hard hunting. What happened before morning he would never tell. Sure it was, however, that he was disturbed enough to cut his visit short and leave, being ashamed not to sleep in the room again, and the family would never have known the result of the experiment if the hostess had not a month later received a letter from the aforesaid prayerful mother, in which she declared how thankful she was that her beloved John would be married before New Year to a woman noted for her piety and strong qualities of mind.

There were other strange coincidences connected with the room that winter, and when spring came the mansion was fairly beset with visitors. Oddly enough, many of them sought to occupy the room. Some, by shameless strategy, professing incredulity in the charm and a disposition to defy it, when all knew ‘twas but eagerness to reap the beneficent magic. So were other schemes employed to entrap unsuspecting and guileless young men into the fatal circle, they never knowing why fate had so swiftly overtaken them.

Beneath the bay window of the love-haunted room is an old-fashioned garden, with an arbor and seats therein, and it is said that as the summer waxed the charm of the room would extend to the garden, and on moonlight nights, when the dew sparkled and heliotrope and lilac gave off their fragrance, the couples would slip away from the verandas and the dimly lit parlor to wander together along its walks.

It was dangerous for single men, however successfully they had avoided the traps and pitfalls set by designing mammas and crafty papas up to that time, to venture into these mystic shades to smoke a bed-time cigar, and now the confirmed old bachelors and the hardened old maids will never attend house parties in that mansion unless assured beforehand that there are rooms in plenty and that no one of them will be bedded in Cupid’s chamber.

The Evening Star [Washington DC] 21 December 1901: p. 19

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Art has always held the power to inspire love. Yet Mrs Daffodil has some doubts about the strict veracity of this item. Although the location is described as in a private house, it seems to have more visitors than the average home–or is that merely the famed Virginia hospitality? Said mansion is unnamed, but the detailed description of the murals in the fateful chamber hints that some real location is being depicted. There is a suspicion that this could have been a puff-piece for a resort wishing to draw more customers.

Mrs Daffodil is reminded of the claims for “Doctor” Graham’s “Celestial Bed,” at the Temple of Health in London, where the young person who later became Lady Hamilton, made her debut. Just as match-making services advertise their marriage statistics, this establishment should have been held to account. Two confirmed engagements is scarcely an adequate sample.

Yet, who knew that celibacy was a condition that needed curing? Pretty murals and erotic dreams may have tipped the balance, but Mrs Daffodil is not sanguine about a “hardened bachelor” donning the silk-incased chains with a lady of such strong mind and piety.

Mrs Daffodil has chosen the topic of tomorrow’s Valentine holiday for her theme today. For a more relevant story on how the Thirteen Club celebrated Friday the 13th, please see this post.

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.



“All the Batchelors are Blindly Captivated by Widows”: 1734

The first lieutenant governor of New York, as a young bachelor of 1730

The first lieutenant governor of New York, as a young bachelor of 1730

Charleston, March 2. On the 23d last past in the morning, one Martin Dunn,belonging to his Majesty’s Ship the Alborough, happened to be with Benjamin Story in his Periauger in the Northern Branch of Store’s River, and striking at an Alligator, fell over board and down to the Ground immediately: No doubt but the Alligator made a good breakfast on him.

We have by the last Advice from Purrysburgh [South Carolina] an account of the noble Effects the Climate of that Colony has produced: There is six Couples embarked thence for Savannah in Georgia, to be join’d in the holy State of Matrimony, and half a dozen pair more preparing themselves for the same.

To His Excellency Governor Johnson, The humble Petition of all the Maids whose Names are under-written.

WHEREAS we the humble Petitioners are at present in a very melancholly Disposition of Mind, considering how all the Batchelors are blindly captivated by Widows , and our more youthful Charms thereby neglected, the Consequence of this our Request is, that your Excellency will for the future order, that no Widow shall presume to marry any young Man till the Maids are provided for, or else to pay each of them a Fine for Satisfaction, for invading our Liberties, and likewise a Fine to be laid on all such Batchelors as shall be married to Widows . The great Disadvantage it is to us Maids is, that the Widows by their forward Carriages do snap up the young Men, and have the Vanity to think their Merits beyond ours, which is a great Imposition upon us, who ought to have the Preference. This is humbly recommended to your Excellency’s Consideration, and hope you will prevent any further Insults. And we poor Maids as in duty bound will ever pray. P.S. I— being the oldest Maid, and therefore most concerned, do think it proper to be the Messenger to your Excellency, in behalf of my Fellow Subscribers.

(Was signed by sixteen Maids, and delivered to the Governor Yesterday at the Feast.)

The Pennsylvania Gazette 28 March 1734

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil thinks it clever of the author to have begun this account of rapacious widows snapping up eligible men with an alligator breakfasting on an unfortunate gentleman. Because Mrs Daffodil is Relentlessly Informative, she will mention that a Periauger is a shallow draft sailing vessel, also known as a pirogue.

The Governor was Robert Johnson, the British colonial Governor of the Province of South Carolina, also known as “the Good Governor,” as he was much-beloved. He was a kindly administrator (except to pirates), but one is uncertain whether the petition was ever granted. One hopes so, for the sake of that oldest Maid.

“You May Now Kiss the Ghost:” A Haunted Justice of the Peace: 1887

Day of the Dead Bride and Groom

Day of the Dead Bride and Groom


Two People Return from the Spirit World and Are Properly Married by a Justice of the Peace.

New York correspondence Cincinnati Enquirer: How remarkably the evidences of the existence of a spiritual sphere about us accumulate! Still they come, these spectral messengers, to teach us that there are more truths under the sun than science takes cognizance of. Here is another:

The village of Farmingdale, Queen’s County, Long Island, is a suburb of the rapidly growing city of Brooklyn. Its people are of the most conservative nature, mostly descendants from old Puritan fathers, who came here before the Revolution and Presbyterians almost to a man. All are very much excited at present over the occurrence of a remarkable spiritual manifestation that came to light without the presence in their midst of a medium. Three days ago the Enquirer correspondent received a letter from his aunt who lives in the village mentioned, requesting him to come down and hear the remarkable story. On arriving in Farmingdale the following is the story which he heard, and which is authenticated by the persons before whose eyes the strange event occurred:

John J. Powel, Esq., is civil magistrate for the village, or rather he is Justice of the Peace. He is a member in high standing of the church, and every way reliable. He is married and has several grown children. He lives in a large, old-fashioned house, surrounded by tall spruce and elm trees, with a high stone wall around the lawn. Last week, one night, he had retired to bed and got into a doze. Mrs. Powel was sleeping soundly. There was no light in the room, but the moon, half way up the sky, was sending a broad beam of ghostly light into the east window. Everything was as still as a country town usually is, but a slight moaning wind that tossed about the leafy spruce tree boughs. Suddenly Mr. Powel


From his doze. He had heard a door open. What could it be that had made the noise? He thought of thieves and quickly arose, and was pulling on his clothing when he heard a light tread of feet to his door. He stopped breathing in his anxiety for he thought he was about to be robbed. On came the tread to his door, which was quickly thrown wide open, and in an instant almost was closed again. Did any one enter? Mr. Powel asked himself, for he could see no one; but the doubt was soon settled in the affirmative. Something, at least, did enter, for he still heard the light tread of footsteps on the carpet approaching him, but could see nothing. Did his eyes belie him, or did he see two feet, without body, approaching? His hair, he says, bristled up and his spine  verily crept—a nameless horror seized him. Ghosts, thought he; is it possible that there are such things? Suddenly the tread passed into the broad moonbeam from the window. Now was the marvel revealed! The greenish moonlight lit up the outlines of two persons—shadows that were perfectly transparent, and seemed to reveal a ghostly gleam only on their outlines. A man and a woman—both young, both handsome—and as their spectral forms became more strongly materialized on passing out of the moonlight, Mr. Powel though he could recognize both their faces. Soon he was sure of it, and in a moment more they both confronted him, no longer looking like ghosts, however, and no one seeing them then would have believed that they were not entirely human; in fact, dwellers upon earth. In spite of what he had already seen, Mr. Powel began to think he was being played a trick upon, but on looking again, after rubbing his eyes, he saw that they could not be human, as both, to his certain knowledge, had been dead nearly a year. This only increased his horror, but he gathered strength to speak to them, which somehow he remembered was the proper thing to do on such an occasion.

“What—do—you want?” stammered he.


Was the answer, which the more greatly horrified the Squire.

“Married!” he echoed.

“Yes, married, and quickly, in the most binding form known to the law. We haven’t any time to lose, either.”

“But you must have at least one witness.” Said the squire, hoping he had found a good idea.

“Well, then, take Mrs. Powel,” said the would-be ghostly bridegroom; not waiting of the Squire to do so, he approached the bed and shook Mrs. Powel’s arm quite sharply. She at once awoke and on seeing such a strange sight, gave a piercing shriek. “Be still,” said the ghost. “You will not be hurt; you are needed for a few minutes.” By this time she had awakened and was looking at her husband. He returned her gaze as he says “without flinching,” and simply said, “My dear, those people want to be married, and you are needed as a witness.”

“What! Katie Baylis and John Van Sise here, and want to be married? La! I thought they had died more than a year ago!” Well, however, they are here now, and I’m going to hitch them as soon as I can dead or alive,” said the Squire growing desperate. “Shall I light the lamp?” “No, no!” said the ghosts, “for you can not see us if you do; but proceed at once with the marriage.” Squire Powel told the ghosts to join hands and stand before him. Then he proceeded with the usual formula until it came to “Until death do us part,” which was left out as unnecessary. Then the groom produced a blank marriage certificate, which all present signed, and which the bride put into her bosom.

“Is that all there is to it?” said the groom.

“Yes,” answered the Squire. “except the magistrate usually kisses the bride,” added he, forgetting the ghostly character of the contracting parties, and remembering, perhaps, occasions in which he had availed himself of this privilege. “Then the bride must be kissed,” said the groom. “This at once brought the Squire to his senses and made his hair raise again.


He echoed. The bride stepped forward at this, evidently thinking it an invitation. She brought her face to his, and with a desperate endeavor he gave her a proper kiss. As his lips met hers, he says, a terrible coldness seemed poured into him. He felt as though he was dying, but almost at once recovered himself. “Is there anything else?” asked the groom. “Nothing,” answered the Squire faintly. “And now I suppose you would both like to know what this is for. There is no reason why you should not. You already know the story of our guilty intercourse while we were alive on earth, and that it resulted in our deaths. We are now in the spirit world, which is far more like the earth than is usually supposed, only we have greater privileges and powers, but the man who does not marry while on earth cannot marry in the spirit form, and must live apart from  all the married, who inhabit a higher sphere and will in the end inherit greater powers than the unmarried, but I can’t explain this, as it is not to be revealed. However, when we died, we left a son, born to shame, and without our marriage, which you have solemnized, to be a bastard forever. As we are now, for the time being, in material form, we are able to contract marriage by the laws of mortals, and this marriage will be recorded as perfectly lawful by the Almighty.”

By the time he had finished this long speech he had perceptibly grown less material, and in a few minutes both bride and groom had faded away.

Such is the story which Mrs. Powel told on the next day, and her husband confirmed it in every particular.

The story of the lives of John Van Sise and Katie Baylis is quite romantic. John Van Sise was the son of a poor farmer in the neighborhood. Katie was the daughter of a well-to-do country gentleman, a retired merchant. They fell in love. Their parents were dead against their marriage, and it was the old story that followed. Love was too strong for parents or any other bonds. They met constantly. At last Katie gave birth to an illegitimate child, still alive. She died in child-birth. John died soon after of what was called by the neighbors hasty consumption, but his friends knew it was of a broken heart.

How strange Fate works!

Daily Inter Ocean [Chicago, IL] 28 December 1887: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The ghostly groom expresses some unusual theories about the post-mortem world, probably derived from the Theosophists or Spiritualists, although Matthew 22:30 tells us “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” The situation raises an interesting legal point: did the marriage of the two ghosts “in material form” legitimise their little son?


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.


The Elk: 1914


As we come to the end of June, the month of brides, grooms, courtships, and weddings, Mrs Daffodil would like to finish with a tale of a courtship with a happy ending.


Teresa, Mrs. Thropplestance, was the richest and most intractable old woman in the county of Woldshire. In her dealings with the world in general her manner suggested a blend between a Mistress of the Robes and a Master of Foxhounds, with the vocabulary of both. In her domestic circle she comported herself in the arbitrary style that one attributes, probably without the least justification, to an American political Boss in the bosom of his caucus. The late Theodore Thropplestance had left her, some thirty-five years ago, in absolute possession of a considerable fortune, a large landed property, and a gallery full of valuable pictures. In those intervening years she had outlived her son and quarrelled with her elder grandson, who had married without her consent or approval. Bertie Thropplestance, her younger grandson, was the heir-designate to her property, and as such he was a centre of interest and concern to some half-hundred ambitious mothers with daughters of marriageable age. Bertie was an amiable, easy-going young man, who was quite ready to marry anyone who was favourably recommended to his notice, but he was not going to waste his time in falling in love with anyone who would come under his grandmother’s veto. The favourable recommendation would have to come from Mrs. Thropplestance.

Teresa’s house-parties were always rounded off with a plentiful garnishing of presentable young women and alert, attendant mothers, but the old lady was emphatically discouraging whenever any one of her girl guests became at all likely to outbid the others as a possible granddaughter-in-law. It was the inheritance of her fortune and estate that was in question, and she was evidently disposed to exercise and enjoy her powers of selection and rejection to the utmost. Bertie’s preferences did not greatly matter; he was of the sort who can be stolidly happy with any kind of wife; he had cheerfully put up with his grandmother all his life, so was not likely to fret and fume over anything that might befall him in the way of a helpmate.

The party that gathered under Teresa’s roof in Christmas week of the year nineteen-hundred-and-something was of smaller proportions than usual, and Mrs. Yonelet, who formed one of the party, was inclined to deduce hopeful augury from this circumstance. Dora Yonelet and Bertie were so obviously made for one another, she confided to the vicar’s wife, and if the old lady were accustomed to seeing them about a lot together she might adopt the view that they would make a suitable married couple.

“People soon get used to an idea if it is dangled constantly before their eyes,” said Mrs. Yonelet hopefully, “and the more often Teresa sees those young people together, happy in each other’s company, the more she will get to take a kindly interest in Dora as a possible and desirable wife for Bertie.”

“My dear,” said the vicar’s wife resignedly, “my own Sybil was thrown together with Bertie under the most romantic circumstances – I’ll tell you about it some day – but it made no impression whatever on Teresa; she put her foot down in the most uncompromising fashion, and Sybil married an Indian civilian.”

“Quite right of her,” said Mrs. Yonelet with vague approval; “it’s what any girl of spirit would have done. Still, that was a year or two ago, I believe; Bertie is older now, and so is Teresa. Naturally she must be anxious to see him settled.”

The vicar’s wife reflected that Teresa seemed to be the one person who showed no immediate anxiety to supply Bertie with a wife, but she kept the thought to herself.

Mrs. Yonelet was a woman of resourceful energy and generalship; she involved the other members of the house- party, the deadweight, so to speak, in all manner of exercises and occupations that segregated them from Bertie and Dora, who were left to their own devisings – that is to say, to Dora’s devisings and Bertie’s accommodating acquiescence. Dora helped in the Christmas decorations of the parish church, and Bertie helped her to help. Together they fed the swans, till the birds went on a dyspepsia-strike, together they played billiards, together they photographed the village almshouses, and, at a respectful distance, the tame elk that browsed in solitary aloofness in the park. It was “tame” in the sense that it had long ago discarded the least vestige of fear of the human race; nothing in its record encouraged its human neighbours to feel a reciprocal confidence.

Whatever sport or exercise or occupation Bertie and Dora indulged in together was unfailingly chronicled and advertised by Mrs. Yonelet for the due enlightenment of Bertie’s grandmother.

“Those two inseparables have just come in from a bicycle ride,” she would announce; “quite a picture they make, so fresh and glowing after their spin.”

“A picture needing words,” would be Teresa’s private comment, and as far as Bertie was concerned she was determined that the words should remain unspoken.

On the afternoon after Christmas Day Mrs. Yonelet dashed into the drawing-room, where her hostess was sitting amid a circle of guests and teacups and muffin- dishes. Fate had placed what seemed like a trump-card in the hands of the patiently-manoeuvring mother. With eyes blazing with excitement and a voice heavily escorted with exclamation marks she made a dramatic announcement.

“Bertie has saved Dora from the elk!”

In swift, excited sentences, broken with maternal emotion, she gave supplementary information as to how the treacherous animal had ambushed Dora as she was hunting for a strayed golf ball, and how Bertie had dashed to her rescue with a stable fork and driven the beast off in the nick of time.

“It was touch and go! She threw her niblick at it, but that didn’t stop it. In another moment she would have been crushed beneath its hoofs,” panted Mrs. Yonelet.

“The animal is not safe,” said Teresa, handing her agitated guest a cup of tea. “I forget if you take sugar. I suppose the solitary life it leads has soured its temper. There are muffins in the grate. It’s not my fault; I’ve tried to get it a mate for ever so long. You don’t know of anyone with a lady elk for sale or exchange, do you?” she asked the company generally.

But Mrs. Yonelet was in no humour to listen to talk of elk marriages. The mating of two human beings was the subject uppermost in her mind, and the opportunity for advancing her pet project was too valuable to be neglected.

“Teresa,” she exclaimed impressively, “after those two young people have been thrown together so dramatically, nothing can be quite the same again between them. Bertie has done more than save Dora’s life; he has earned her affection. One cannot help feeling that Fate has consecrated them for one another.”

“Exactly what the vicar’s wife said when Bertie saved Sybil from the elk a year or two ago,” observed Teresa placidly; “I pointed out to her that he had rescued Mirabel Hicks from the same predicement a few months previously, and that priority really belonged to the gardener’s boy, who had been rescued in the January of that year. There is a good deal of sameness in country life, you know.”

“It seems to be a very dangerous animal,” said one of the guests.

“That’s what the mother of the gardener’s boy said,” remarked Teresa; “she wanted me to have it destroyed, but I pointed out to her that she had eleven children and I had only one elk. I also gave her a black silk skirt; she said that though there hadn’t been a funeral in her family she felt as if there had been. Anyhow, we parted friends. I can’t offer you a silk skirt, Emily, but you may have another cup of tea. As I have already remarked, there are muffins in the grate.”

Teresa dosed the discussion, having deftly conveyed the impression that she considered the mother of the gardener’s boy had shown a far more reasonable spirit than the parents of other elk-assaulted victims.

“Teresa is devoid of feeling,” said Mrs. Yonelet afterwards to the vicar’s wife; “to sit there, talking of muffins, with an appalling tragedy only narrowly averted – ”

“Of course you know whom she really intends Bertie to marry?” asked the vicar’s wife; “I’ve noticed it for some time. The Bickelbys’ German governess.”

“A German governess! What an idea!” gasped Mrs. Yonelet.

“She’s of quite good family, I believe,” said the vicar’s wife, “and not at all the mouse-in-the-back- ground sort of person that governesses are usually supposed to be. In fact, next to Teresa, she’s about the most assertive and combative personality in the neighbourhood. She’s pointed out to my husband all sorts of errors in his sermons, and she gave Sir Laurence a public lecture on how he ought to handle the hounds. You know how sensitive Sir Laurence is about any criticism of his Mastership, and to have a governess laying down the law to him nearly drove him into a fit. She’s behaved like that to every one, except, of course, Teresa, and every one has been defensively rude to her in return. The Bickelbys are simply too afraid of her to get rid of her. Now isn’t that exactly the sort of woman whom Teresa would take a delight in installing as her successor? Imagine the discomfort and awkwardness in the county if we suddenly found that she was to be the future hostess at the Hall. Teresa’s only regret will be that she won’t be alive to see it.”

“But,” objected Mrs. Yonelet, “surely Bertie hasn’t shown the least sign of being attracted in that quarter?”

“Oh, she’s quite nice-looking in a way, and dresses well, and plays a good game of tennis. She often comes across the park with messages from the Bickelby mansion, and one of these days Bertie will rescue her from the elk, which has become almost a habit with him, and Teresa will say that Fate has consecrated them to one another. Bertie might not be disposed to pay much attention to the consecrations of Fate, but he would not dream of opposing his grandmother.”

The vicar’s wife spoke with the quiet authority of one who has intuitive knowledge, and in her heart of hearts Mrs. Yonelet believed her.

Six months later the elk had to be destroyed. In a fit of exceptional moroseness it had killed the Bickelbys’ German governess. It was an irony of its fate that it should achieve popularity in the last moments of its career; at any rate, it established, the record of being the only living thing that had permanently thwarted Teresa Thropplestance’s plans.

Dora Yonelet broke off her engagement with an Indian civilian, and married Bertie three months after his grandmother’s death – Teresa did not long survive the German governess fiasco. At Christmas time every year young Mrs. Thropplestance hangs an extra large festoon of evergreens on the elk horns that decorate the hall.

“It was a fearsome beast,” she observes to Bertie, “but I always feel that it was instrumental in bringing us together.”

Which, of course, was true.

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Another superlative tale from H.H. Munro (“Saki”) from Beasts and Super-Beasts. (The title is meant to mock that beastly Mr. Shaw and his Man and Superman.) You will find more of his stories at this admirable site if you have the afternoon before you.

Saturday Snippets: 29 June 2013: Bridal stockings, a Southern bride’s wedding outfit, strange elopement, trigamy, and bridesmaids’ favours

Queen Victoria in her wedding veil, painted for her anniversary.

Queen Victoria in her wedding veil, painted for her anniversary.

As we come to the close of June, the month of the Bride and the Groom, Mrs Daffodil has collected one last assortment of wedding snippets and other oddments.

Bridal Stockings.

The daintiest stockings to be worn by a bride are of fine white silk with a medallion of Valenciennes lace set in the instep, the design being one of orange blossoms. They are as frail as the proverbial cobweb, however. When one is going to save one’s wedding gown and wedding fan, it is just as well to have the beautiful stockings to go with it, so that the next generation may see just what mamma wore on her wedding day. Jacksonian [Heber Springs, AR] 30 July 1891: p. 2


“One of our fair countrywomen,” says a correspondent, “the daughter of a rich and independent farmer of Rockingham, was married, the other day, to a gentleman who may congratulate himself upon having secured a prize worth having. She was what we should call ‘an independent girl,’ sure enough. Her bridal outfit was all made with her own hands, from her beautiful straw hat down to the handsome gaiters upon her feet! Her own delicate hands spun and wove the material of which her wedding dress and travelling cloak were made; so that she had nothing upon her person, when she was married, which was not made by herself! Nor was she compelled by necessity or poverty to make this exhibition of her independence. She did it for the purpose of showing to the world how independent Southern girls are. If this noble girl were not wedded, we should be tempted to publish her name in this connection, so that our bachelor readers might see who of our girls are most to be desired. If she were yet single, and we were to publish her name, her pa’s house would be at once thronged with gallant gentlemen seeking the hand of a woman of such priceless value.” Richmond Sentinel,  Anecdotes, Poetry, and Incidents of the War: North and South: 1860-1865, Frank Moore, 1867


Bride-to-be Arrives as Women Fight for Body

Hammond, Ind., Jan. 18. When Miss Cora Guthrie of Allegheny, Pa., arrived here today to wed James S. Snyder of the Inland Steel CO. plant at Indiana Harbor, she found that her fiancé was dead, and that two women, claiming to be Snyder’s wives were fighting for his body. Mrs. Harry Thomas of Lorain, O., and Mrs. J.S. Snyder of Moundsville, Pa., were the women. Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 19 January 1911: p. 1

The girls attending college at Columbia, Mo., have organized a sort of marriage mutual aid society that is working very satisfactorily. Every time one of the members has a gentleman escort to whom she is not engaged she pays twenty-five cents into the treasury. When a member becomes engaged she pays in five dollars. When a member gets married the club makes her a wedding present of $100. Patriot [Harrisburg, PA] 24 April 1891: p. 2 


A curious phase in elopements was developed last week in Brooklyn, N.Y., the particulars of which are given as follows:

A married woman has for some time past frequently visited New York under pretense of seeing her sister. On the 23d of last month, on returning from one of these visits, she brought a lady with her, who was introduced to her husband as Mrs. Cleveland, an old schoolmate of the wife, who wished to stay with the family for a few days. The generous husband acquiesced in everything his good wife wished, and no objection was made.

The visitor was very timid and not used to the noise of the city, and was afraid to sleep alone, so the wife retired with her to the room assigned her, while the husband slept with his children. This programme continued until Monday of the last week, when the visitor, who had exceedingly enjoyed her visit to her friend and neighbor, departed for home. On election day the wife took advantage of her spouse remaining home, to have him assist her in getting carpets up and shaking of the same, preparatory to cleaning house for the Winter. Then on Wednesday morning the house was in the most imaginable confusion. On the husband’s return in the evening he found his wife, family and household articles all gone. Thursday developed the fact that the wife had shipped her children to Norwalk, Conn., to her husband’s sister; and she took tickets for a tour Westward with the above-mentioned Mrs. Cleveland, who turns out to be a young man of effeminate characteristics. One of the children remarked, on Mrs. Cleveland entering the house that she acted something like a man; but it was not then noticed. The furniture, money and valuables taken amounts to nearly $400. The family has enjoyed a good reputation and this unlooked-for incident has shocked the sensibilities of the neighbrhood. Boston [MA] Herald 9 November 1868: p. 2 

Mermaid With Cork Soles

[Salt Lake Letter in Ogden Pilot]

Writing of the lake reminds me to say, for the benefit of my Ogden sisters, be warned in time and don’t’ do when you go bathing as one of my lady friends did. She said the pebbles on the lake bottom hurt her feet, so she had a pair of sandals made with cork soles. She put them on and went into the water. She’s not a vain woman, but she has a pretty foot, and she showed it that day with less effort than she ever did before in her life. Her feet went up and her head (heavy, of course, with the weight of a brain that could originate cork soles for sea-bathing) went down—on somebody’s broad shoulders—or I might have been under the painful necessity of elaborating on ‘another case of strangulation from sea-water.” Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 24 September 1881: p.12 

There is an interesting couple in Cincinnati who have been engaged to be married for the last five years, but no time has occurred within that period when they were both out of prison at the same time. Patriot [Harrisburg, PA] 25 April 1891: p. 2

An Exhibition of Vanity

The most glaring exhibition of human vanity that I ever saw was a young man as he stood admiring the reflection of his well-dressed figure in the glass of a hearse. The hearse stood in front of an undertaking establishment, and, being heavily draped on the inside, it made a first rate mirror. There he stood for several minutes adjusting his neck-tie and turning his head in an admiring way from side to side, as unconcerned as if he had been standing in front of a pier glass instead of a carriage for the dead. And this wasn’t all. There was a casket in the hearse, and his face was really reflected in one side of it. Buffalo News. Muskegon [MI] Chronicle 11 May 1888: p. 3  

ANNE OF AUSTRIA, queen of Louis XIII., was extremely delicate in all that concerned the care of her person; it was scarcely possible to find lawn or cambric sufficiently fine for her use. Cardinal Mazarin used to say that her punishment in purgatory would be her being obliged to sleep in Holland sheets. Godey’s Lady’s Book October 1854 

Burned Up a Marriage License

Terre Haute, Feb. 7. Madison Bryant, a wealthy farmer of this county, prevented the marriage of his 16-year-old daughter to Ferd Little, a young farmer, by burning the marriage license just as the clergyman was preparing to perform the ceremony in the presence of fifty guests. Mr. Bryant, without displaying the slightest emotion, requested Mr. Little to accompany him to an adjoining room. When they were alone Bryant asked to examine the marriage license. Little produced the paper, which was seized by Bryant, who darted into the parlor where the guests were assembled and threw it into the blazing grate. He then ordered Little from the house and dismissed the guests. It is said that Little broke a pledge to Bryant to quit drinking. Little has obtained a new license. Elkhart [IN] Daily Review 7 February 1895: p. 1  

A Wedding Fancy.

If you are to be the bride, here is a novelty which will delight your bridesmaids and be in its prophecies after the gracious grandmother fashion in its sweet simplicity. Laid around the cake are five white satin bags exactly alike, holding either a ring, a thimble, a silver dime or a button. The bride takes the bags off during the breakfast and presents them to her principal bridesmaids. She who gets the ring will be married first, the young lady who finds the button in her bag must make up her mind to remain single, and she who takes the silver piece will be wealthy. Sometimes a very valuable ring is sent by the future bride to be included in her bridesmaids’ bags. St Louis Globe-Democrat. Daily Journal and Journal and Tribune [Knoxville, TN] 6 April 1894: p. 6

The Death-bed Promise: 1911

Edvard Munch

By The Deathbed, Edvard Munch

The couple in the story below, Mr and Mrs Simon Fisher, had a fraught relationship, much of it over Mrs Fisher’s “friend,” the married Walter Carnes, and all of it conducted very publically in the newspaper. Charges of adultery and abuse were brought; divorce papers were filed; the adulteress and her affinity were arrested and imprisoned in the Workhouse; the Fisher children were sent to the County Home….

Then, unexpectedly, and after an illness of only ten days, Simon Fisher died on March 13, 1911.  The dying man made his wife promise that after he was gone she would not marry Walter Carnes, nor even see him again. Linnie promised.

Death-bed promises were a serious matter, having an almost sacred binding force.  They were not made lightly. That should have been the end of it.

But love—or obsession—never dies….







            The wrath of the spirit of the late Simon Fisher has been brought down upon the wife of Walter Carnes whose second husband was Fisher. Fisher secured a promise from his wife on his death-bed that she would never marry Carnes, whom he hated with a bitter hate; but just one month and three days after the death of Fisher the widow broke her promise and married Carnes. Since a month after the marriage the ghost of the late Mr. Fisher has haunted the little house on North Sixth Street in which Fisher and his wife lived but which is now occupied by Carnes and Fisher’s widow. Mrs. Carnes has worried until she is but a shadow of her former self and little strands of silver have appeared in her hair. Although only 40 years old, Mrs. Carnes looks 50.

Simon Fisher when alive was a non-believer—had no religion. He and his wife quarreled and lived unhappily. Fisher was much older than his wife which partly explained the strained relations. Mrs. Fisher became enamored of Carnes and the two became fast friends. Fisher took a decided dislike to the younger man. At one time he became so enraged that he purchased a revolver and started out to find Carnes to shoot him.


            One day Fisher became suddenly ill and rapidly failed. Worry over his family troubles and physical disability soon sapped away his life blood and he died. A few minutes before his death he called his wife to his bedside and extracted from her the promise that she would never marry Carnes and would have nothing more to do with him. The promise was given.

Mr. Fisher was buried wearing a black suit and a white shirt and collar.

Just one month and three days after the death of her husband Mrs. Fisher was married to Carnes—on Easter Sunday last. They lived happily for a month when one night they were awakened by strange noises, as though someone were walking through the rooms of the restaurant in which the Carnes lived at the time. Mrs. Carnes and her husband became so frightened that they arose and lighted up the dining room of their restaurant and spent the rest of the night there.

A few weeks later the restaurant (now the Imperial) was sold by Mrs. Carnes and they moved into a house on North Sixth Street in which Mrs. Carnes and her former husband lived. The strange noises followed them there.


            Ernest Middy, a son of Mrs. Carnes’ by her first husband, Christ Middy, was lying on a couch in a downstairs room about two weeks ago when he was awakened by someone gently touching him on the shoulder. He awoke and was startled to see Simon Fisher standing by the couch. Before Middy could speak the shadowy form walked across the room to a door and entered the bedroom which was formerly used by Fisher. Middy, in an interview Tuesday, said that Fisher wore the same clothes he wore when buried. Middy declares that the vision was not an hallucination as he does not believe in spirits.

“I was born with a veil,” said Middy. It is said that if the veil is kept that the child may see and talk with spirits. Middy however does not attach any importance to this.

Middy told the whole story to an Age reporter and is stout in his claim of its absolute veracity in every particular.

Other members of the family have heard strange noises in the house. One of Fisher’s own children says that she heard sounds as though someone were walking through the house. Others have heard dresser drawers in an upstairs room rattle and doors have opened and closed. Investigation into the cause of these has never revealed anything.


            Mrs. Carnes has been followed around the house for hours by the spirit. She hears the footsteps but when glancing around she is unable to see anything. She will say but little about the strange occurrences but is worrying herself sick. Ever since the first strange noise was heard she has been ill and is rapidly losing flesh.

Mr. and Mrs. Carnes are now spending the summer in a camp to get away from the noises and the spirit’s strange actions. The family fears that Mrs. Carnes may worry herself into a critical illness.

Mrs. Carnes was married three times. Her first husband was Christ Middy. By this marriage one son was born, Ernest, who with his wife lived with Mrs. Carnes. Her second husband was Fisher. They had five children all of whom are at home and all of whom have heard the noises. The third husband is Walter Carnes.

Coshocton [OH] Daily Age 25 July 1911: p. 1

One might think that the apparition of her late husband was simply a projection of Linnie’s guilty conscience—except that there were so many other witnesses….

In an article headed DEATHBED REQUEST VIOLATED; GHOSTS MAKE THINGS LIVELY,  it was said that all five of the children were “showing the strain….A grown son and daughter each declare that on separate occasions they saw visions of Fisher. So vividly did he appear before one of them, and so penetrating the stern look in his eyes, that the child shrank back in horror and seemed to suffer a prolonged shock.”

Warren [PA] Evening Mirror 27 July 1911: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: You may read the entire lurid, but riveting story in The Face in the Window. It is, Mrs Daffodil regrets to say, like watching a train-wreck.

The Ghost of a Perfect Husband: 1841

Victorian widow at the grave

A widow swoons on the grave of  the best of husbands. 1846



WE often see young men in the gaiety of youth, resolve against marrying while they enjoy health and spirits; and we as often see, that some unforeseen accident disconcerts all their fine resolutions.
So it was with Julius de Mersaint. Young, rich, handsome, possessing all the advantages of life, he was positively determined, that as long as he was able to enjoy them, he would remain a bachelor. It would be time enough to think of marriage, when he was tired of amusement. In consequence of this resolution, he had courageously resisted the numerous attacks that had been made on him. The kind attentions of the mammas who had marriageable daughters; the pretty airs of the young ladies themselves, had all been met with equal indifference. But at last he met with a widow, and matters took a different turn.

A widow is a two-edged sword; the most adroit master of fence can hardly escape a wound in such an encounter. Julius thought he might trifle with the lady, and found himself in love before he was aware. He had engaged himself too far to retreat; but he found it no difficult matter to reconcile himself to his fate. “After all,” thought he, “what can I do better than to marry a woman who is young, pretty, rich, amiable, and irreproachable in her character? It is every way, an excellent match!” So the project of celibacy was given to the winds, and the lady suffered herself to be persuaded to renounce the state of widowhood.

Soon after the wedding, a friend of Julius arrived from a journey, and came to see the bridegroom. “I am glad to see you,” said the latter; “of course, you come to congratulate me.” “Not at all,” said Frederic, “you know how sincere I am. I should have advised you not to marry; but since the step cannot be recalled, I shall content myself with saying it was a very imprudent one.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Julius; “you cannot have heard any thing against my wife.” “Oh no! by no means. During her first husband’s life, she lived chiefly in the country, and was but little seen in Paris. Since she has been a widow, and returned to society, she has not given the least occasion for slander. I am happy to do her that justice. In fact, I know no fault that can be found with her except her having been a widow. It is that fact my friend, that constitutes your imprudence.”

“Really, Frederic, I thought you had more sense. You are rather too sentimental.” “No, it is not as a matter of sentiment that I object to it. Did you know the late Mr. Doligny?” “No, I did not.” “Then you do not know who you have married.” “I know I have married a charming woman, only twenty-five years old, who is perfectly amiable, and whom, notwithstanding your odd notions, I am sure you will be delighted with; though she has had the misfortune of being a wife during four years.” “I admire the light manner in which you treat so serious an affair; you marry a woman who has come to years of discretion, without considering in the least what sort of an education she has received from her first master, or caring what responsibilities this reign of four years entails upon you.”

“Indeed, I am not afraid of the past.” “Then you know something about Mr. Doligny; you have heard what was his character, his temper, his habits.” “No, I have seen nobody who knew much about him; but there hangs his portrait in that handsome frame, look at it.” “Why, I must acknowledge that the dear deceased was not very handsome. In that point you have a decided advantage over him. Still, that may not be sufficient. There are some men who can make their wives forget their ugliness; and that very face that quiets your alarms, is perhaps exactly what ought to excite them. You do not know what a degree of complaisance, what attention, what sacrifices, the original of that portrait may have considered himself obliged to use; and depend upon it, no less will be expected from you, notwithstanding your good looks.”

“Well, I intend to be a good husband. I shall endeavour to make my wife happy; what more can be expected?” “I do not know what may be expected. But why is that portrait still there? When the reign is concluded, and the interregnum past; when the people have cried, the king is dead, long live the king, it is the usual custom to transfer the emblem of defunct royalty, either to the lumber room or the garret.” “What! a painting like that! done by one of the first masters. We preserve it as a work of art, without reference to the original, who is dead and out of the way.” “I hope you may find that he is.” “Why you do not believe in ghosts?” “I believe ghosts sometimes come when they are called, and I believe the apparition of a first husband is very apt to be in the way of the imprudent man who has ventured to take his place.”

The next day, the two friends took a ride together. On their return, Frederic requested Julius to go with him into a cemetery, saying with a solemn air, “The living ought to take lessons from the dead.” They walked through several rows of tombstones, with cypresses drooping over them, till Frederic stopped and pointed out an inscription to his friend. “Here rests John Joseph Aristides Doligny; the best of men, and the model of husbands. His inconsolable widow has raised this monument to his memory.” “That inconsolable,” observed Derville, “is an honour to you, for you have triumphed over an eternal sorrow. But the lesson to which I would call your attention, is comprised in the first line. ‘The best of men, and the model of husbands.’ Mark what I tell you, this epitaph will be repeated to you, and this funeral eulogium held up to you as a rule of conduct, from which you may not depart without exposing yourself to witness regrets, which will not be very flattering to you; and to see your wife become once more an inconsolable widow. You smile, you do not believe me?” “How can I? am I not the happiest of husbands.” “Certainly, at this period of your marriage; you may expect to enjoy your honey moon as every body else does; only in the case of a widow, this moon is sometimes curtailed of its fair proportions, and only lasts two or three weeks.” “Really, Frederic, if you were not such an old friend, I should quarrel with you.” “I should not be surprised if you did.”

Julius went home and dined alone with his wife. As he looked on her sweet face, and listened to her agreeable conversation, he thought of the ridiculous fears of his friend. “Poor Frederic,” said he to himself, “he certainly means kindly, but he is strangely mistaken?” His wife interrupted his meditations, by asking if he had not been riding out that morning. “Yes my dear, I took a ride while you were with your mother.” “And I believe you had a friend with, you.” “Yes, Frederic Derville, a charming young man.” “Charming! oh I do not doubt that. But I have heard of the gentleman; and between you and I, that intimacy is one which I think is no longer very suitable for you.” “Not suitable ? why?” “Why, do not you think that a single man has sometimes acquaintances, whom it is as well to give up when he marries?” “Certainly; but Frederic – ” “He is a singular man, and besides he has met with some adventures. He has been talked of, and his attentions have injured the characters of some ladies.” “That is to say, some ladies who had no characters to lose, have been very willing to allow his attentions; but I assure you that Frederic is a man of honour, and incapable – ” “Oh! I dare say, but I can only judge from what I hear. Mr. Frederic Derville would be an improper acquaintance for me, and you surely would not keep up any acquaintance with a person who could not be admitted into my society.” “But, my love, when you become acquainted with Frederic, you will become convinced of your prejudices.” “I shall not become acquainted with him, I assure you.” “Is it possible, Amelia? an old friend of your husband’s?” “If you choose still to consider him as such, I cannot certainly prevent it; but at least, I trust you will refrain from introducing to my acquaintance a person whose character I cannot approve.”

“I hope we are not going to quarrel so soon.” “I certainly do not wish to do so, but I must confess I did not expect so much opposition to a very reasonable request. But I have been deceived by the past.” “What do you mean?” “I mean, that when Mr. Doligny married me, he made no difficulty in giving up any of his old companions; and that the moment I had expressed my disapprobation of any person, he broke with him immediately.” Julius could not answer. The name of Doligny had proved that Frederic was not altogether mistaken: and the honey-moon, had as yet completed but half its course. The cloud, however, soon passed away from the face of the fair planet.

A little time, and this unpleasant scene was forgotten, and the bridegroom again revelled in his visions of perfect happiness, when one day his wife said to him, “My dear, winter is drawing near; have you thought of our box at the opera, and the Italian theatre?” “What box, my love?” “You know how fond I am of music.” “I know that you sing like an angel.” “Then surely, the angel must have at least once a week, a box at the opera, and the Italian theatre.” “Why, I am not quite sure that our fortune will allow of such an indulgence.” “Mr. Doligny had precisely the same income as you; and in his time, I had a box every Monday at the opera, and every Saturday at the Italian theatre.” There was the phantom of the first husband coming a second time, to disturb the comfort of poor Julius; he could not resolve to appear less generous than his predecessor, so he consented to hire both boxes. In another respect he was obliged to imitate Mr. Doligny; he saw Frederic but seldom and almost by stealth. “I do not ask you to come to our house,” said he, “I can offer you so little pleasure. We live very much alone, we see no company, – you would find us very dull.” “Don’t trouble yourself to apologize,” said his friend with a smile, “it is not you, but Mr. Doligny, who refuses to welcome me.”

M. de Mersaint was not only one of the prettiest women in Paris, but one of the best drest. The expense in that particular, was enormous. Her husband observed one day with a manner that was but half agreeable, “You appear frequently in new dresses.” “Is that a compliment, or a reproof,” asked the lady. The poor husband made no reply, and the lady continued. “Mr. Doligny always liked to see me outshine the best dressed women in company; he never thought his idol could be too much adorned.” Presently, the bills came in, and very long bills they were. That of the milliner in particular, presented a frightful amount. Julius could not refrain from expressing some surprise. “What,” cried he, “such a sum for nothing but flowers, feathers, and ribbons.” “Do you think it much?” “What do you think yourself?” “Really, I never had occasion to think about it. Mr. Doligny never made any remarks about such details. The bills were presented, and he paid them, and I heard no more about it.”

The visits of the apparition were becoming more frequent. At first, he only appeared at intervals, but he ended by taking complete possession of the house. He was always present; was brought in on every occasion, consulted in every debate, and there was no appeal from his decisions. He ruled his successor with a rod of iron. At last, he thought fit to introduce another inmate into the family, in the person of a young officer of hussars, a cousin of the lady. “I hope,” said Madame de Mersaint, “that you will treat my cousin Edward as Mr. Doligny used to do. He always considered our house as his home when he had leave of absence.” The tyranny of the ghost was really becoming insupportable; the only consolation Julius had, was to complain in secret to his friend Frederic.

“Ah!” said he to him, “you were quite right. Mr. Doligny does persecute me strangely; his epitaph is a most unreasonable rule of conduct; and I am almost worn out with the difficulty of keeping up to it.” “You would not be the first who has sunk under such a task. I have known many unlucky fellows, who like you, had thoughtlessly married widows, without knowing any thing of their past lives. Some died under the trial; the others only lived to repent; and I have heard more than one express the wish that the admirable customs of India, respecting widows, had been the fashion in France.” Sometimes Julius would make an attempt at rebellion. Then Madame de Mersaint with tears in her eyes, would turn towards the portrait, and exclaim, “Oh! my Aristides, you would not thus have afflicted me! you loved me, and made me happy!” How was it possible to resist that!

However, one evening Julius met at a ball, an old gentleman who had known Madame de Mersaint during her first marriage. “I rejoice,” said he, “to see Madame de Mersaint so happily married; she really deserved some compensation, for all she suffered with her first husband.” “Suffered, my dear sir, why he was a model for all husbands! so says his epitaph, and so his widow says. I try to replace him worthily, but I assure you it is a difficult matter: he was so good a husband as to spoil her for any other.” “My dear sir, it is all very proper for you and her to talk so, but I happened to know Mr. Doligny very well; I spent a great deal of time with them at their country house.” “A beautiful place, was it not?” “You have never been there?” “Never.” “So I perceive.” The curtain was drawn; a new world was opening to the astonished husband. He went on from one discovery to another, and found them well worth making.

Soon after, he informed his wife that he was called from home by business; he refused to answer her inquiries on the subject. “Business which I must not know! Mr. Doligny never had any secrets for me.” Julius went; and on his return, found his wife in rather an ill humour; at last she consented to make peace on one condition. “What is it?” “Take me to the waters of Baden, Mr. Doligny used often to go there with me.” “When you did not pass the summer at your delightful country house.” “Oh! if I had a country house I should like it quite as well to go there.”

“Well, I have got one for you. I wanted to give you a surprise. Make your preparations, and we will set off” “Is it far from here?” “You shall see.” The surprise of Madame de Mersaint may be imagined when she found herself driving up to her former country house. The husband certainly could never have found it out from her description. “My love,” said he, as he handed her from the carriage, “I have bought this place to please you; you know I wish to procure you all the pleasures and indulgences which Mr. Doligny delighted to lavish upon you. And I shall now find it easy to follow his example; as I find his conduct traced by your own hand in this paper.” “My own hand!” cried his wife alarmed. “Yes, my love, your own hand. I received the precious document from your lawyer, with whom I have had a conference; read it yourself.” It was a petition for a separation founded on various acts of ill-treatment, and cruelty, which this model of husbands had exercised towards his disconsolate widow; his death had prevented the affair from coming before the public. Madame de Mersaint cast down her eyes, and the phantom disappeared for ever. They returned to Paris. Julius opened his house to Frederic, who observed, “You have discovered the secret: apparitions are only to be feared in the dark.”

Godey’s Lady’s Book, December, 1841