Tag Archives: Victorian courtship

Love on a Hearse: 1891

only white hearse in the city 1906 Cairo Bulletin


A Breezy Idyll of the West Side of the Big Windy.

From the Chicago Herald.

Everybody on the West Side knows Barney Sullivan. He drives a hearse for a Madison street undertaker. He wears a fuzzy old plug hat and a monkey-fur cape. Barney also takes great pride in his whiskers. They are of a pleasing though rather tyrannical red, and exude only from his chin.

Not long ago Barney met the Widow McGraw, whose husband was killed last summer in the Burlington yards. It was at a wake that Barney became acquainted with the Widow McGraw. Barney was invited to call, which he did, and on leaving it was arranged that they should go buggy-riding Sunday afternoon if the day was fine.

Barney forgot all about engaging a rig until 10 o’clock yesterday morning. He went to several stables on the west side, but could not hire a horse for love or money. There wasn’t a horse or buggy to be had in all Chicago. As a last resort he hitched up a team of cream-colored horses to a white hearse and started for Prairie avenue. In front of where the widow is employed he turned in so close that the wheels of the hearse scraped against the curbstone.

People in the neighborhood went out on the front steps to inquire who was dead. Presently Barney and the widow came out of the house and mounted the driver’s box. They drove in impressive dignity down Drexel boulevard, and then turned the heads of the cream-colored horses toward Jackson Park. Thousands of persons saw the strange vehicle circling around the park, but they didn’t know what to make of it. Barney and the widow paid no attention to the caustic comments made upon them from time to time. They enjoyed the drive as well as they would have done in a landau.

For on the way home it was all planned that the Widow McGraw will soon change her name to Sullivan.

Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 22 March 1891: p. 9

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil wishes the couple joy, but to be punctilious about a point of etiquette, a white hearse, while no doubt a lovely spectacle, is meant only for the youthful and the previously unmarried, which the Widow McGraw emphatically was not.

There was also a popular superstition that to see a hearse or mourning-coach on one’s wedding day was an ill-omen for the marriage.  Mr Sullivan is fortunate that the lady of his choice not only did not recoil in horror at his choice of vehicle, but took pleasure in the ride and the company, despite the circumstances, hinting at a character of rare flexibility and amiability, and suggesting that their home life will be a happy one.

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 anecdote

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.

Worth Her Weight in Gold: 1896


Gold mesh purse set with diamonds and rubies, c. 1900 http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/art/explore-the-collection?id=20424892


And Knew So Much That She Gave Her Steady Company the Mitten.

Chicago Times-Herald.

“You are worth your weight in gold,” he ventured to remark to the girl he had wanted to marry.

“Am I, indeed,” she returned, “and how much is that?”

“I don’t know the exact amount,” he replied, “but it’s a good deal.”

“Well, I am just going to find out how much you value me at I have been studying the money question lately and I have some books that will tell me.”

And she went to the library and returned with a report of the United States treasury department.

“Here it is. Pure gold is worth $20.86 an ounce. That is troy weight, with 7,000 grains to the pound. Have you a pencil and some paper, Mr. Chapleigh?”

“Oh, Lord,” he groaned.

“What’s that?” sharply.

“I only said, yes, certainly.”

“Well, figure on the value of a pound of avoirdupois; you know people are weighed by avoirdupois. Only precious metals and precious stones are measured.”

“You’re a jewel.”

“No nonsense. Figure it up.”

For five minutes he wrestled with the problem, until he felt his collar climbing up the back of his neck.

At length she inquired:

“Well, what is it?”

“I can’t do it.”

“Give me the paper. Yet they say men are so much better than women at figures.”

In half a minute she read the result.

“A grain of gold is worth $0.043066, so a pound avoirdupois is worth $301.462. I weigh 110 pounds. I am therefore worth, in your estimation, $33,150.82–my weight in gold. In that case, Mr. Chapleigh, I think you had better marry Miss Greenwood; she is worth $50,000. She inherited it from her father. Good day, Mr. Chapleigh.”

Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester NY] 15 November 1896: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil considers that Mr Chapleigh had a fortunate escape from the very literal-minded lady. Her contempt for his mathematical prowess would outweigh any good qualities he might bring to the marriage and before long, one would find him quailing under her censure and slinking off to his Club to drink alone in despair, all the while contemplating faking his own death and running off to South America. One even imagines the lady scornfully uttering the epithet “miserable worm!”

It is to be hoped that Miss Greenwood received the gentleman in a kindlier spirit.


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 anecdote

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.

Mending a Misunderstanding: 1860

early 18th c hussif

Early-18th century house-wife or hussif. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22689/lot/623/



You would have known it for a bachelor’s den the moment you put your head in the door! Blue, spicy wreaths of cigar-smoke circling up to the ceiling–newspapers under the table–Castile soap in the tiny bronze card-receiver–slippers on the mantle-piece, and general confusion everywhere. And yet Mr. Thornbrooke–poor deluded mortal–solemnly believed that his room was in the most perfect order! For hadn’t he poked the empty champagne bottles under the bed, and sent the wood-box to bear them company, and hung up his morning gown over the damp towels, and dusted the ash-besprinkled hearth with his best silk handkerchief? He’d to see a room in better trim than that–guessed he would! And now he was mending himself up, preparatory to going to call on the very prettiest girl in New York. Not that he was particularly fond of the needle, but when a fellow’s whole foot goes through a hole in the northeast toe of his stocking, and there isn’t a button on his shirts, it’s time to repair damages.

Now, as Mr. Thornbrooke’s whole stock of industrial implements consisted of a lump ot wax, an enormous pair of scissors, and one needle, the mending didn’t progress rapidly. His way of managing the button question, too, necessarily involved some delay; he had to cut all these useful little appendages from another shirt and sew them on and next week when the second shirt was wanted, why it was easy enough to make a transfer again! See what it is to be a bachelor of genius! it never once occurred to him to buy a few buttons extra!

“Buttons are not much trouble,” said Mr. Thornbrooke to himself, as he wiped the perspiration from his brow, “but when it comes to coat-sleeves, what the mischief is a fellow to do? I haven’t any black thread either; and he looked dolorously at a small tear just in his elbow, where some vicious nail had caught in the broadcloth. “A black pin may do for to-night, and to-morrow I’ll send it to the tailor. The fact is, I ought to be married; and so I would, if I only dared to ask Lilian. O, dear! I know she wouldn’t have me–and yet I’m not so certain either–if only could muster the courage boldly to put the question! But just as sure as I approach the dangerous ground my heart fails me. And then that puppy, Jones, with his curled mustache, and hair parted in the middle–always hanging round Lilian, and quoting poetry to her—if I could have the privilege of kicking him across the street, I’d die happy! He isn’t bashful, not he ! If somebody would only invent a new way of popping the question–something that wasn’t quite so embarrassing!” Our hero gave a his black, glossy curls an extra brush, surveyed himself critically in the glass, and then, with a deep sigh, set forth to call on the identical Lilian Raymond, resolving as he has done a thousand times before, that if—perhaps—maybe—

Oh, the bashfulness of bachelors!

When Mark Thornbrooke arrived within the charmed precincts of old Mr. Raymond’s handsome parlors, velvet carpeted, chandeliered with gold and ormolu, and crowded to the very doors with those charming knickknacks that only a woman’s taste provides, Miss Lily was “at home” in a bewildering pink merino dress, edged with white lace around the pearly shoulders, and a crimson moss-rose twisted in among the rippling waves of her soft brown hair. She never looked half so pretty; and thank Providence, Jones wasn’t on hand, for once in his life. But what was almost as bad, Lilly’s cousin was there–a tall, slender, black eyed girl, with arch lips and cheeks as red as a Spitzenberg apple. O, how Thornbrooke wished that Miss Esther Allen was at the bottom of the Red Sea, or anywhere else except in that particular parlor. And then her eyes were so sharp—he hadn’t been “doing the agreeable” more than four minutes and a half, before she exclaimed:

“Dear me, Mr. Thornbrooke–pray excuse me–but what on earth is the matter with your elbow?”

Mark turned scarlet–the traitorous black pin has deserted its post. “Only a compound fracture in my coat, Miss Allen,” said he, feeling as though his face might do the duty of all old Mr. Raymond ‘s chandeliers put together, “you know we bachelors are not expected to be exempt from such things.”

“Hold up your arm, sir, and I’ll set it all right in one moment,” said Esther, instantaneously producing from some secret recess in the folds of of her dress, a thimble and needle, threaded with black silk, and setting expertly to work.

“There, now consider yourself whole.”

“How skillful you are,” said Mark, admiringly, after he had thanked her most sincerely. “But then you have so many nice little concerns to work with. I have only a needle and some wax, besides my scissors!”

“You ought to have a house-wife, Mr. Thornbrooke,” said Miss Lily, timidly lifting up her long lashes in his direction. Lily never could speak to Thornbrooke without a soft, little, rosy shadow on her cheek.

“A what?” demanded Mark, turning very red.

“A house-wife.”

“Yes,” said Mark, after a moment’s awkward hesitation, “my friends have told me so very often—and–and I really think so myself, you know. But what sort of a one would you recommend, Miss Raymond?”

“Oh, any pretty little concern. I’ll send you one to-morrow morning, if you’ll accept of it,” she added, with the rosy light in her cheeks again.

“If–I’ll—accept–of it!” gasped Mark, feeling as if he were up in an atmosphere of pearl and gold, with two wings sprouting out of his broadcloth, on either side. And just as he was opening his lips to assure Miss Lily that he was ready to take the precious gift to his arms then and there without any unnecessary delay, the door opened, and in walked Jones.

Mark was not at all cannibalistic in his propensities, but just then he could have eaten Jones up with most uncommon pleasure. And there the fellow sat, pulling his long mustaches and talking the most insipid twaddle–sat and sat until Mark rose in despair to go. Even then he had no opportunity to exchange a private word with Lily. “You–you’ll not forget–”

“Oh, I’ll be sure to remember, said she, smilingly, and half wondering at the unusual pressure he gave her hand. “Ladies often do provide their bachelor friends so!”

Mark went home, the happiest individual that ever trod a New York pavement. Indeed, so great was his felicity that he indulged in various gymnastic capers indicative of bliss, and only paused in them at the gruff caution of a policeman, who probably had forgotten his own courting days–“Come, young man, what are you about?”

“Was there ever a more delicate way of assuring me of her favorable consideration? was there ever a more feminine admission of her sentiment? Of course she will come herself—an angel, breathing airs from Paradise–and I shall tell her of my love! A housewife–oh! the delicious words! Wonder what neighborhood she would like me to engage a residence in–how soon it would be best to name the day? Oh! if I should awake, and find it all a blissful dream!

Early the next morning Mr. Thornbrooke set briskly to work, “righting up things.” How he swept and dusted and scoured—how the dust flew from pillar to post–how the room was aired to get rid of the tobacco-smoke, and sprinkled with Cologne, and beautified generally. And at length, when the dust was all swept into one corner, and covered by a carelessly (!) disposed newspaper, he found the window-glass murky, and polished it with such vengeance that his fist, handkerchief and all, went through, sorely damaging the hand, and necessitating the ungraceful accessory of an old hat to keep out the wintry blast for the time-being. However, even this mishap didn’t long damp his spirits—for was not Lily coming?

Long and wearily he waited, yet no twinkle at the bell gave warning of her approach.

“It’s all her sweet feminine modesty,” thought he, and was content.

At length there was a peal below, and Mark’s heart jumped up into his mouth, beating like a reveille drum. He rushed to the door, but—there was no one but a little grinning boy, with a box.

“Miss Raymond’s compliments, and here’s de housewife, sir!”

“The housewife, you little imp of Erebus!”

“Yes, sir, in de box, all right!”

Mark slunk back into his room and opened the box, half expecting to see a full dressed young lady issue from it, a la  Arabian Nights; but no–it was only a little blue velvet book all tied up with gold cord, and full of odd compartments in azure silk, containing tape, needles, scissors, silk, thimble, and all the nice little work-table accessories!

“And she calls this a housewife!” groaned Mark, in ineffable bitterness of spirit at the downfall of his bright visions. “But I won’t be put off so.”

Desperation gave him courage, and off he hied to the Raymond mansion, determined to settle the matter if there were forty Joneses and Esthers there.

But Lilian was all alone, singing at her embroidery in the sunshiny window casement.

“Dear me, Mr. Thornbrooke! is anything the matter?”

Perhaps it was the shadow from the splendid crimson cactus plumes in the window that gave her cheek such a delicate glow—perhaps–but we have no right to speculate.

“Yes.” And ‘Mark sat down by her side, and took the little trembling, fluttering hand. “You sent me a housewife this morning?”

“Wasn’t it right?” faltered Lilian.

“It wasn’t the kind I wanted at all.”

“Not the kind you wanted?”

“No; I prefer a live one, and I came to see if I couldn’t change it. I want one with brown hair and eyes–something, in short, Miss Lillian, just your pattern. Can’t I have it?”

Lily turned white, and then red—smiled, and then burst into tears–and tried to draw away her hand, but Mark held it fast.

“No, no, dear Lily; first tell me if I can have the treasure I ask for?” “Yes,” she said, with the prettiest confusion in the world; and then, instead of releasing the captive hand, the unreasonable fellow took possession of the other one, too. But as Lily did not object, we suppose it was all right.

And that was the odd path by which Mark Thornbrooke diverged from the walk of old bachelorhood, and stepped into the respectable ranks of matrimony.

The Berkshire County Eagle [Pittsfield MA] 26 July 1860: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A laughable, yet natural mistake. The 19th-century gentleman led a life sheltered from domestic realities, first by his mother, then by his wife, so it is quite possible that he had never seen such a useful article. The “house-wife,” also known as a “hussif,” is, obviously, a little sewing kit in a fold- or roll-up case. It is a more economical version of the necessaire or etui.  Mrs Daffodil suggests that Mr Thornbrooke would be a bachelor still if Miss Lily had recommended an etui. 

One could find similar misapprehensions at the newsagent’s:

He looked over all the papers on the newsstand, and not finding what he wanted, said to the plump, pretty girl clerk: “I want a Fireside Companion.”

“What, sir?” she blushed.

“I want a Fireside Companion,” he repeated.

“O, yes, sir, I hear you now,” and she chewed the corner of her apron; “well-well—do you think I would do?”

It turned out happily.

The Pantagraph [Bloomington IL] 7 January 1880: p. 2

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 anecdote

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 Bridal Path: 1891

1894 walking courting couple British Library

Illustration courtesy of the British Library


Young Men and Women, So a Policeman Says, Understand Each Other There.

There is a short section of Madison avenue not far above the square that has been christened the Bridal Path by the policeman into whose beat it comes.

“I call it the Bridal Path,” said the policeman, “because it leads straight to the altar. I’ve been on this same beat now for four years, and I tell you there’s something about this strip of sidewalk that makes the boys and girls come to terms. The ones that use it nearly all live around here, and so I learn about their getting married. You may not believe it, but I’ve heard the question popped myself right along this walk when I was passing by a spoony couple. And I’ll tell of one real case that I had a hand in, and it’ll prove to you that there is some secret charm about this quiet sidewalk that really brings about marriages.

“I had long watched a girl and her beau walking along Lexington avenue on summer afternoons. His face always looked troubled, while she was always smiling. He would be arguing with her about something, and she would never get serious. I saw right away what the trouble was. The young fellow loved the girl and was trying to get her to say yes, while she was coquetting with him and holding him off. It worried me, and I thought if the two would only do their walking here on Madison avenue instead of on Lexington avenue they would soon come to an understanding.

“But they stuck to Lexington, and the fellow kept on pleading, while the girl laughed him off. Then I couldn’t stand it any longer, and one night when the young man had left the girl at her door I stopped him and said I thought he would find Madison avenue a pleasanter place to walk. At first he got mad at my interference, but afterward he saw that I meant no disrespect and began laughing at my suggestion, I guess he thought I was a crank of some sort. Next day, though, he and the girl changed over on to Madison avenue, and when I passed them the young fellow nodded pleasantly to me. Now, said I to myself, we’ll have a wedding. For a few days the girl didn’t stop smiling, and I was getting a little afraid of the charm.

“Then one afternoon the two came along, and I saw that the girl’s face was serious. She was flushed, and she kept her eyes cast down as she walked. The young man was talking harder than ever, but his face was brighter than I had seen it before. Just at dusk I saw him taking her to her door. She was thoughtful and he was radiant. Well, sir, the two are married now, and they say that she dotes on him. Oh, there’s no doubt about the charm. Look at the boys and girls round here. There are four couples in sight now, and every one is a marriage. Why, I spooned my own wife here, so I ought to know what I’m talking about.” New York Sun.

Carlisle [PA] Evening Herald 27 May 1891: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Well, that is an extraordinary statement, but we must assume that the policeman of the period knew his beat. And we have previously read of a“love-haunted chamber” that inspired the most hardened bachelor or old maid to head for the altar.

Young people who wish to pop the question to-day are under considerable pressure to create an unforgettable event in an impeccably appropriate venue. A simple walk on a magical street would be sneered at by many young persons, who look for billionaire-event-planner levels of detail: a hot air balloon in Provence, furnished with truffles and a bottle of the rare wine the couple drank on their first date; a Harry Winston diamond ring served up on the bride-to-be’s “signature flavour” ice-cream sundae; a proposal written on Roger Federer’s sweat-band, delivered to the loved one in the Royal Box at the Wimbledon finals…

Mrs Daffodil has a word of advice to those besotted lovers who would orchestrate such follies: While fulfilling a loved one’s proposal fantasies seems a harmless indulgence, one may be assured that such demands will only escalate during the wedding planning period, honeymoon, and for the duration of the marriage, which, Mrs Daffodil advises frankly, should be cut short or even omitted altogether should one find themselves yoked with such an exacting spouse-to-be. “High-maintenance” is really only appropriate when it references re-leading the stained glass windows at one’s ancient manor house or maintaining a Bugatti motor-car.

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 Memory Hoop Fad: 1890

memory hoop fad tarnished penny discovered


How the Young Ladies of Washington Amuse Themselves.

The Craze for Fads—How “Memory Hoops” Are Made and Manipulated

Special Correspondence of the Evening Express.

Washington, March 8, 1890.

Every girl in Washington is hunting for a fad. She has no particular idea as to what sort of a fad she wants so long as it is a fad and its possession enables her to say to her three or four dozen intimate friends: “Oh I’ve just got the loveliest fad you ever heard of.” And then she goes on to tell how she got the idea “from something Jack said.” Now there are a lot of pretty girls in Washington and as they all want fads the demand greatly exceeds the supply and as a consequence the girl without any ingenuity of her own soon finds herself where the little boat was—a long way behind—in the fashionable stream.

Well the Washington girl with not much to do has invented and taken up with the vigor of idle enthusiasm a substitute for the old fashioned “memory buttons” and calls the new departure “memory hoops.” I do not wish to be understood as casting any unkind reflection upon the disposed bustle, for the new fad is not that kind of a hoop. The following description was given me by an enthusiastic votary of the “memory hoops:”

“You see you take a hoop. Any kind of a hoop. Some of the girls have old barrel hoops and some of them have the hoops made out of the loveliest kinds of wood. Why, I know one girl who has a hoop made of gentlemen’s walking sticks which she first begged from the possessors and then had steamed and bent into circular form, connecting them with silver bands. Oh yes; you asked where the memory parts comes in. Well it’s just this way: You take the hoop and hang it up anywhere in the parlor or in your own room. Some of the girls hang them so that when standing before their dressing tables the hoops are just over their heads. Well, of course there is nothing in just the hoops about memory. You see, after you get a hoop you ask all your girl friends for a piece of ribbon. Mind, it must be a piece that has been worn, else the charm will not work. Well, of course the girls will exchange ribbons with you and this is supposed to give you enough to start on by winding them around the hoop so as to cover it, each piece being worked with the name and date of the giver. Now, when you have your hoop covered, your work is just begun. The ribbons the girls give you of course don’t count for much, but they start the thing. Then you are to get from all the men you know one of the old-fashioned copper 2-cent pieces, polished on each side so that it just looks like a piece of plain copper and on one side must be engraved the initials of the giver with the date, and on the other side a line of poetry. These must all be paid for by the young lady receiving them at the rate of 10 cents each to defray their cost, but so that you may have given silver for copper and you know you couldn’t well give less than ten cents in silver. Then these copper pieces are to be tied all around the hoop with ribbon matching the dress worn by the young lady when receiving the piece of copper. I think this is where the best part of the memory comes in, for a girl never forgets her dresses. Now, when you have filled your hoop, you hang it up and whenever any one of the copper pieces grows black it means that the giver is in trouble or sickness and the girl must write to him at once. See the idea now? Oh, it’s just splendid, even if it doesn’t always work about the sickness and all that. When the hoops are filled with the little copper pieces dangling from different colored ribbon, it makes a very pretty ornament, indeed, for either the parlor or your own room.”

Then the memory hoop girl went off to get some coppers.

One can imagine the extent to which this fad is going by the fact that I was told at Brentano’s place here that all the men who came in there with girls asked for two cent copper pieces in their change, and at one of the swell candy stores change proprietor actually took the trouble to send to New York for the coppers, and having obtained a lot of them let the fact become known and materially increased his trade thereby.

Los Angeles [CA] Evening Express 15 March 1890: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Young ladies seem to be forever badgering their beaux—if not for ice-cream or visits to the soda-parlour—then for their walking sticks, their hats, those hats’ ribbon bands, or their ties to cut up for crazy-quilts. This is merely one more instance of this magpie behaviour.  The “memory button” fad was an ambitious scheme to collect buttons, preferably all unique in style, from the greatest number of friends. As a novel from 1918, remembering the 1860s, relates:

[J]ust as your scholarly attainments were gauged by the size of your geography and slate, so was your social prestige measured by the length and beauty of your “string.”

The Loyalty of Elizabeth Bess, E.C. Scott, 1918: p. 143

This solicitation of coppers and their associated ribbons suggests those trees found in the British Isles, tied with rags or with coins hammered into them for luck. It is a curiously superstitious artifact to find in hard-headed Washington D.C.

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 anecdote

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 Young Man and His Valentines: 1887

[St. Valentine’s] day is observed right along now, and here in Springfield where we live, move and consequently don’t have to pay any rent, it is particularly celebrated. It’s the biggest day in the year for the largest percentage of people. I like St. Valentine’s day. I once paid $4.45 for a large, sweet-smelling affair with a heart-shaped basque and no end of flesh-colored kids, without buttons or anything on which to button, meandering around over it. I got another fellow to address the envelope. It was a girl on whose outline I was madly and passionately impaled. The other fellow was a good writer and the next day the girl accused him of sending her the valentine. He looked down in sweet confusion and said as he wiggled from side to side, “Oh, Miss Jones, who’d have thought you knew my hand-writing.”

Then the girl was sure it was him, and the next week she crocheted him a horse blanket and a lot of other fancy work, including a cute little money purse to be used as a savings bank in which his nibs was expected to put all his spare coin for missionary purposes. On  one side it had these crewel, crewel words, “Give freely,” and on the other side, “Love the giver.” The young man obeyed one of the mottoes, at least. I never in my life saw a man so stuck on himself. But I got even with him. He married the girl.

Since the sad and foregoing experience, I have rigidly adhered to the habit of slyly writing my name in one corner of every pretty and costly valentine I send. It adds to the poetry of the lovely trifle and keeps the girl’s father from kicking the necktie off of the wrong man.

I put my name once on a comic valentine which I sent to a young fellow whom I used to wake myself up at night with an alarm-clock to hate. I wanted him to know who sent it. It was a hideous caricature, got up in the most exaggerated style. It had a great mouth, like the map of somebody’s affected lung in the almanacs. It was unmistakably homely in six colors and a verse. I put my name on it and sent it to this fellow. I was wild with glee and excitement during the day, and fancied I could see him flinging himself over a four-story precipice and dashing his brains out with a three-“em” dash.

Next morning  I received a note from the recipient of the valentine. He had evidently recipped it. The note was as follows:

Springfield, O., Feb. 15, 1884.

Dear Fellow: — Photo received. Thanks so hard. But the signature was superfluous. I recognized the features as soon as I saw them. But don’t you think that part of the mouth was lost in the retouching of the negative at the expense of the naturalness of the picture.

Yours in earnest inquiry.


P.S. I don’t speak positively about the mouth. I merely throw it out as a suggestion. I had to throw it out, as there wasn’t room enough in the house.

Once More,


The next time I met Gus, we had a chat and when we parted, he looked hurt—especially about the left eye. During the next week, Gus put in his time trying to decipher the inscription on a beef-steak, at a distance of a decimal part of an inch from his sense of sight.

When I was fourteen years old I was wildly stuck on a little girl who lived across from where we were accumulating a rent account. I determined to send her a valentine. I got a lovely one, with a beautiful vine clambering over it and a cluster of violets in the center. A sweet little cherub, attired in an intelligent look and a maxillary dimple, was peering out from between the violets, with one little fat leg trailing along behind him in the airy fashion that cupid affects. But the verse on it made me tired. It was something to the effect that when the starlight was kissing the moonlight and the evening zephyrs were exhaling a bouquet of vesper odors, then I loved her—oh, I loved her. I knew that my girl was a practical sort of a person who always split the family kindling and had to draw the family rain-water by hanging head downward in the cistern and dragging an old brass kettle along the bottom with a sound like an escaped Wagnerian overture. I knew that if I wanted to make any impression on her, I mustn’t spring any “Luna, thou art the moon” business on her, for she would simply come to the front gate and yell across to my folks to put me on ice before I got mildewed. So I made some verses entirely of my own composure and pasted them over the sentimental lollipop. This was my poetry:

Oh maid! My little speckled maid!

This is a world of trouble,

But when I see you—am I glad?

Well, I should gently bubble.


You are the apple of my eye,

As I have oft declared;

And I’m the apple, too, of yours,

Why then can’t we be pa(i)red?


Forgive me for my crime-like rhyme,

And should we ever part,

Dost know fair maid, what restest next

My madly palping heart?

I didn’t see anything of my girl for four days and I had concluded she had fallen into the cistern and broken her pledge. But on the fifth day she came sneaking across the street, shoved something under the front door, rang the bell, and then skinned back again as tight as she could go. On the way she stepped on her left ankle with her right foot and brushed away a mud-puddle in the road, but I laid it to excitement. My heart beat wildly as I heard my big brother go to the door, and present he returned with an envelope in his hand and a broad grin bordering the hair on his head. My brother had the broadest grin I ever stood beside and examined. He handed me an envelope. It was dog-eared and finger-marked. I tore it open. Inside was a half sheet of paper, with the following written on it in red ink:

You talk as though you were a chump,

Or took me for a flirt:

I guess the thing that’s next your heart

Must be your undershirt.

I let this girl alone after this and turned my affections elsewhere. I always felt hard toward the family, and as soon as I grew up and went to work for a newspaper I took my revenge out on her brother. I saw him washing his neck one day, and he got so much soil off of it that I wrote the item up and put it under the head of real estate transfers. He must have appreciated this delicate piece of satire, for I never knew him to repeat the operation.

There are somethings in a person’s life which ought not to be made fun of, and I deeply deplore the habit of sending comic valentines. I admit that the temptation is strong, but it ought to be resisted. I knew a man who had a mother-in-law on his wife’s side of the house, who had a cast of features that would stop the progress of time on a sun-dial when she looked at it. She was so ugly that her son-in-law used to keep a jar of cucumbers pickled by setting her photo next to it. Yet he did not go and get a horrible thing in four and five colors with a satirical verse, and send it to his mother-in-law. Not he. He simply sent her one of her own tintypes. She had him arrested. She then expired to slow curtain, soft music, and plaid fire.

Any young man of good address ought to have no trouble in having plenty of pretty valentines sent him. Mine is care REPUBLIC office. But any one who intends sending me comic ones will please address them to Box ¾, New Zealand.


Springfield [OH] Daily Republic 29 January 1887: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “comic” or “vinegar” valentine was the bane of St Valentine’s Day. The receipt of one of these horrors might cause tears, loving hearts torn asunder, ruptured engagements, horse-whippings, and even worse violence.  Still, unkind as it was, Mrs Daffodil feels that the verse hand-delivered by “the little speckled maid,” equitably summed up the narrator’s “chump” tendencies. One wonders what would have been the outcome had he not called her “speckled” (that deadly insult to the charmingly freckled complexion!) and had left the Valentine versifying to trained professionals.

To be Relentlessly Informative, the puzzling reference to “plaid fire,” refers to melodramatic theatrical conventions as in this passage from an 1866 edition of “Fun,” satirically describing a play: “Dance by all the characters, blue fire, green fire, red fire, plaid fire, grand transformation scene, and rhymed tags…”


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 anecdote

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 Story Successfully Told: 1875


Pretty, plump Mrs. Archibald Steele wrote the following paragraph in one of her letters to her husband the other day:

“John must come down here at once, whether you can spare him or not. Our dear little Laura is greatly taken with a tall, thin young man, with a hooked nose and thin lips, called Stuyvesant.  It is whispered about the hotel that he is a very good match, and has the veritable blue blood of the old Dutch governor in his reins. I must say it has a queer way of showing itself, for the young man is as pale as a specter; and dressed in that white duck, with his sunken eyes and bilious skin, is enough to frighten one. I have grown to hate him, while Laura is growing to be quite the contrary, I am afraid. All the evening he leans up against the wall, never dancing or opening his mouth, save to give vent to some hateful, sarcastic criticism upon the scenes around him, and yet dear little Laura’s eyes–as, indeed, all the other pretty eyes about–are perpetually beseeching him for attention. In the daytime he is always with a long black horse, that covers more ground with its legs while it is going than any other animal that I ever saw. When Laura goes out to drive behind it, and vanishes out of sight with the bony creature, I tremble to think how dreadful it would be if our dear little girl would ever be part and parcel of this wretched man and his beast. So I think John had better come down at once. I quite long to see his handsome face and hear his honest voice, and I think it is about time that John should tell his little story to Laura and have thing settled comfortably.

Mr. Archibald Steele smiled when he put the letter of his wife in his waistcoat pocket, and, picking up the morning paper, scanned through his gold-rimmed spectacles the news of the day. Finding nothing therein to refine the exceedingly satisfactory condition of his affairs, he put it down, smiling as only a prosperous, contented down-town merchant can smile. He was one of those happy exceptions to the ordinary rule of mortals, with whom everything went well. His whole experience was an exclamation point to that effect. If he ventured a little hazardously in trade, fortune trimmed her sails to favor him. If he set his heart upon anything relating to domestic felicity, all the elements of art and nature conspired to bring it about. So when he stepped to the door of his office and beckoned to a young man with a strip of commercial paper in his hand and a pencil behind his ear, with the general air of briskness and shrewdness about him that betokened a successful down-town merchant embryo, Mr. Steele smiled the third time, with the air of one who was not at all afraid of any bilious, blue-blooded obstacle that might be thrown in the path of  domestic happiness which he firmly agreed had been arranged by an Omnipotent hand.

“John,” said Mr. Steele, closing the door of his private office, and looking upon his young clerk benevolently, “I’ve got an order from Mrs. Steele which I wish you would attend to.”

“Certainly, sir,” said John; “shall I go out and get the articles myself?”

“Why, the fact is, John,” said the merchant, enjoying his joke more and more, “it’s only one article–a rather bulky one. It was bargained for a long time ago. I think you will have to go down with it, John.”

“Down to the seashore!” said John, getting a little hot and flustered; “is it a very valuable parcel, sir?”

“Well, perhaps your natural modesty may depreciate its worth, John. Mrs. Steele and I think a good deal of it, and Laura, too, I am sure does. The commodity is yourself, John. Mrs. Steele wants you to go down and take a little holiday there.”

When the name of Laura was mentioned the young man’s face grew more flustered and hot than before.

“You are very kind, sir,” he said, “and Mrs. Steele is more like an angel than a woman.”

“Rather solid and plump for that,” interposed Mr. Steele, but liking the phrase nevertheless.

“But it is a simple madness,” pursued John, “to dream of further happiness than I enjoy now–your affection and that of your wife–my position here; I don’t dare, I can’t hope for anything more. Oh, Mr. Steele, I can’t tell her my story. She would turn from me with horror and aversion. She is so young, so beautiful. Let me at least enjoy the present.”

“And in the meantime some cadaverous, bilious, blue-blooded scoundrel will carry her off from us all.”

Then John’s face grew pale and stern. “If there is the slightest feeling upon her part for–for any one else, then, indeed, Mr. Steele, my case is hopeless.”‘

The commercial paper fluttered from his hand, the pencil fell from his ear, and he leaned his head against the desk and trembled.

“Why, who would suppose you could be such a coward?” said Mr. Steele, impetuously. “You shall go down with me this very day.”

All the way to the seashore John’s face wore the look of one who had resolved to storm a deadly breach, but who did not hope to survive the attempt.

Even the ocean, when it confronted them, wore a threatening look. Upon the horizon a pile of clouds formed a background, wan and gloomy, a great black mist lay in the zenith, and a dense, red vapor almost touched the water.

“A very nasty sea,” said Mr. Steele.

John snuffed it in, his eyes dilating and his head high in the sea-scented air. A tramp on the hard, wet sand, and, like a meteor, a long black horse swept by, disappearing in the mist, leaving for John the memory of a charming head, crowned with blonde curling hair, two kind eyes bent upon his own, and a white waving hand extended in salutation.

“John,” said Mr. Steele,” did you see the face of that man? I count upon your saving Laura. Did you see his thin, cruel lips and treacherous eyes?”

“I only saw Laura, sir,” said John, simply.

Later on Mr. Archibald Steele and his plump, pretty wife were alone together in their private parlor. Her dimpled hand lay lovingly in his, and her shapely head, fresh from the hands of the coiffeur, rested recklessly on his shoulder.

Suddenly the door opened, and there was heard the rustle of silken drapery.  A still shapelier little head, and fresher from the hands of the coiffeur, all unrumpled by the audacious hands of mortal, peeped in at the door. Laura was pale: her little white hands were clasped together and her musical voice trembled.

“Oh, papa, mamma, come directly! Mr. Stuyvesant ventured too far, and—and–”

“Was drowned?” said Mr. Steele, with a queer combination in his voice of pity and relief.

“No, no; how can you suppose so dreadful a thing? He was rescued, but is very weak and ill. He has asked for me, and may I go? Will you not come with me, mamma? Oh, do, I beg of you. Can’t she, papa?”

Her blue eyes filled with tears: her little feet seemed wanting to fly through the corridors.

“Certainly not,” said Mr. Steele. “Let him wait till he is able to come to you or me. Either the man was drowned or he isn’t. Because he was imbecile enough to risk his life, that is no reason for your being the talk of the hotel.”

Laura raised her eyes proudly.

“No danger of that, papa; and besides, every one is occupied now with the one that rescued him.”

“And what madman was that?” said poor Mr. Steele, who could not reconcile himself to the present condition of affairs.

“I don’t know–a stranger, I believe. I was so interested in Mr. Stuyvesant I forgot to ask.”

“Bah!” said Mr. Steele, getting upon his feet and walking to the door. “I’ll go and find out all about it. Do you stay here till I return.”

Before he had gone far, Mr. Steele heard from the excited guests several different versions of the affair; but one and all agreed that the rescuer could be nothing less than a champion swimmer.

“A regular water-dog!” said one to Mr. Steele; and as the merchant had heard this epithet but once before in his life, and that on an occasion of vital interest to himself, he sought out the hero of the hour, and found, to his unbounded astonishment, it was John Waters himself! He was quite enveloped in the flounces and furbelows of pretty and sympathetic women, who insisted upon knowing every half second if he was sure he felt strong and well, and how in the world could he buffet those dreadful waves in that grand, heroic way, and how I he manage to drag poor Mr. Stuyvesant to the shore?

John, like any other hero of the hour, enjoyed this adulation, but looked anxiously at Mr. Steele when he approached.

“Hum,” growled that worthy merchant; “a pretty fellow, you, to interfere with other people’s plans! How do you know he wanted to be rescued?”

“He appeared anxious that way, sir,” said John. “He wrapped himself about me like a devil-fish. I thought at one time we’d both go down together. There ought to be a school for teaching people how to be saved. It’s the easiest thing in the world; the water itself is an accessory if you manage it right.”

“Oh, do tell us how, Mr. Waters, please,” chorused the pretty and women; and as John began his lesson Mr. Steele slipped away.

“Oh, papa,” began Laura, “how is Mr. Stuyvesant?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask,” he replied “I was interested in the fellow that dragged him ashore. He’s an old friend of ours. The way we made his acquaintance was on. such an occasion; he saved a lady from drowning.”

“Why, papa, “said Laura, “he must be a splendid fellow.”

“Magnificent!” said Mr. Steele. “You see, we had traveled over considerable of the world together, your mother and I, while you were yet a baby; and we found it rather odd one morning to discover that having crossed the ocean and the Alps, loitered in the Highlands, traveled thence down the Mississippi valley, across the American desert to California, and back again by another route, your mother had never been up the East river as far as Morrisania. It seemed so absurd to have neglected this home excursion, that we determined upon it at once. The morning was wet, but we didn’t mind it. Your mother looked prettier in a water-proof and with a shovel hat tied down under her chin, than most women would in a ball gown. She wasn’t a bit afraid of rain or mud. She was a little too reckless; for, getting ashore to see the institution for vagabond boys, her foot slipped off the plank, and she disappeared.”

Mr. Steele stopped a minute; his voice faltered; the plump little hand of his wife slipped into his own; he clutched it, and went on again.

“One minute I saw her as neat and trim a little figure as ever graced a waterproof and shovel hat, and the next she was gone.”

“Gone!” cried Laura. “Gone where?”

“Into the water, child: into the hungry green waves that surged up to take her away from the fondest heart in the universe; and if it had not been for one of those very vagabond boys, who had been lurking there for a chance to escape from the island, you would have lost us both, my dear; for I made an agonized plunge after her, though I am ashamed to say I cannot swim a stroke, and should only have gone to the bottom like a plummet of lead: but an official standing by caught and held me, and cried out that Johnny Waters had her safe; and presently that vagabond boy came up with your sweet mother on the other side of the boat, and the officer cried out: ‘He’s a regular water dog, that Johnny Waters!’ and these were the very words a guest here used in relation to John a minute or so ago.”

“John!” cried poor bewildered Laura, “our John? Mamma? My mamma? Was mamma the lady? Was John the boy? And is it John, our John, that saved poor Mr. Stuyvesant?”

“The very same John, our John; he’s always on hand when there is any trouble or danger.”

“Oh, mamma! mamma!” cried Laura, forgetting all the years that had passed since the accident, and crumpling both the coiffeured heads in the most reckless manner.

“Papa,” she then said, “we must go and find John; I want to tell him how much—I–”

“Yes, dear;” said Mr. Archibald Steele, and all the way through the corridor and into the parlors of the hotel with his plump and pretty wife on one arm and his beautiful daughter on the other, he sailed.

But John was still surrounded by the pretty and sympathetic women, who had cruelly deserted the blue-blooded descendant of the old Dutch governor, lying in his most graceful and languid of attitudes on a neighboring lounge–the descendant, not the governor—and had flocked, one and all, to the handsome and heroic founder of the school for teaching people the way to be rescued from drowning…

John was almost hidden in flounces and laces; but when his eyes met Laura’s he plunged out of those costly billows with his usual ease and trepidity. There was something in Laura’s eyes that he had never seen there before–a tempting languor, a bewitching shyness, a bewildering splendor that steeped his soul in a mad, sweet hope.

Laura stopped one moment to whisper to her mamma, and John gasped out to Mr. Steele:

“If I dared–if I only dared to tell her–”

“I have told her myself!” said the merchant.

“That I was a pauper, without home or friends?”

“I told the story in my own way, John,” continued Mr. Steele, “and I flatter myself I told it successfully; do not spoil it, if you please. I have managed the past and the present; do you look out for the future, John.”

And John did. Laura walked through the parlor that night the envied of all the pretty and sympathetic women and brave and appreciative men that congregated there.

The Head-light [Thayer KS] 8 October 1875: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is rather extraordinary to find a successful down-town merchant so eager to marry his only ewe-lamb to a confidential clerk in his establishment. And a confidential clerk, mind you, with no visible antecedents. The sack for the clerk and the convent or remote boarding school for the daughter are the more usual outcome.  But this is, after all, sea-side fiction, when anything can happen and swift endings must be contrived to fit the penny-a-word limit set by the fiction editor.


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.

Cupid’s Court: 1907

cupid reading 1900


An Adverse Decision, an Appeal and an Oral Argument.

The judge’s daughter was perturbed.

“Papa,” she said, knitting her pretty brow, “I am in doubt as to whether I have kept to the proper form of proce­dure. In law one can err in so many little technicalities that I am ever fear­ful. Now, last evening George”— The judge looked at her so sharply over his glasses that she involuntarily paused.

“I thought you had sent him about his business,” he said.

“I did hand down an adverse deci­sion,” she answered, “and he declared that he would appeal. However, I con­vinced him that I was the court of last resort in a case like that and that no appeal would lie from my decision.”

“Possibly the court was assuming a little more power than rightfully belongs to it,” said the judge thoughtful­ly, “but let that pass. What did he do then?”

“He filed a petition for a rehearing.”

“The usual course,” said the judge, “but it is usually nothing but a mere formality.”

“So I thought,” returned the girl, “and I was prepared to deny it without argument, but the facts set forth in his petition were sufficient to make me hesitate and wonder whether his case had really been properly presented at the first trial.”

“Upon what grounds did he make the application?” asked the judge, scowling.

“Well,” she replied, blushing a little, “you see, he proposed by letter, and his contention was that the case cannot be properly presented by briefs, but demands oral arguments. The fact that the latter had been omitted, he held, should be held an error, and the point was such a novel one that I consented to let him argue it. Then his argument was so forceful that I granted his pe­tition and consented to hear the whole case again. Do you think”—

“I think,” said the judge, “that the court favors the plaintiff.”—Chicago Post.

The Worthington [MN] Advance 23 August 1907: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One shudders to think of young George (after being issued a writ of habeas corpus) approaching the bench to plead his case with the judge, although his legal manoeuvres in re the judge’s daughter suggest a man not easily intimidated, and one with Blackstone at his very fingertips.  Mrs Daffodil imagines that the judge put the gentleman under oath for a full deposition, then subjected him to a stiff cross-examination. But if the defendant has withdrawn her objections, what can a judge do but rule in the plaintiff’s favour?

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.

She Asked for His Photograph: 1897


A Lover Who Easily Fell Into an Ingenious Trap.

She was particularly gracious that night, and he was correspondingly happy.  He felt that he had made an impression at last.

She let him hold her hand a minute when she welcomed him, and he thought–in fact, he was quite sure–that she responded to the gentle squeeze he gave it, and heretofore she had been so distant, so cold, although always courteous. Surely it was enough to make him feel happy. Then she laughed at his witticisms, and there was something in her manner that invited him to draw his chair closer to hers. Of course he accepted the invitation, and almost before he knew it he found himself whispering all sorts of silly things to her, while she listened with downcast eyes.

It was blissful, and yet there was a greater pleasure in store for him. She blushed and hesitated a little as she asked if he had a photograph of himself.

Of course he had, and she should have one that very night. He would go for one at once. She protested that that was not necessary, but he insisted. She should have anything that she wanted and have it at once.

She thanked him so coyly and sweetly when he brought it that the boy was nearly insane with joy, and when he left she let him hold her hand again for a minute.

Then, as he walked away with a light step and a light heart, she handed the photograph to her maid and said with decision:

“Mary, hang that in the servants’ hall, where every one can see it, and remember that I am never home when he calls. I must stop this thing somehow, and mamma changes servants so often he gets in every week or two now.”

The Copper County Evening News [Calumet MI] 19 August 1897: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A little-known consequence of the Servant Problem…


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.

Coquettes Command a Premium: 1890

two's company three's a crowd, charles dana gibson suito 1906

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd, Charles Dana Gibson, 1906


The Susceptibility of Mankind to Simplicity and Frivolity.

 Coquettes Seem to Command a Premiums While Brainy Women Are at a Discount—The Masculine Mind Tired of Pedantic Lectures.

A born coquette is more dangerous than a beauty, asserts a writer in the New York World. She inherits a better legacy than wealth, for while money gives life its cushion beauty gives it color and coquetry makes it sparkle. The coquette will go on with her conquests while there is a man left in the world with a heart in his bosom. There is a woman in New York who keeps a big boarding-school for the education of coquettes, and instead of walking on rose leaves she treads on golden eagles. Seats at her performances are secured two years in advance, and to make the application you pay a handsome deposit. There are no graded courses of study, no exhaustive examinations, no tedious memory lessons and no incessant, eternal and intolerable smashing of piano-keys. Aspirants for degrees can go to the Harvard annex. Would-be grenadiers are directed to Holyoke and Columbia, and blue stockings are advised to enter local high schools and universities for intellectual force. Here coquetry is fostered and no secret made about it, either. Square shoulders are rounded into De Milo grace: flat soles are raised by judicious foot coverings; high foreheads sheltered by kiss curls; harsh voices lowered a whole tone; angular elbows turned in; stiff joints loosened and every symptom of a strong mind rigidly suppressed. The pupil is sweetened, softened and curved. She is carefully instructed to know nothing and to do nothing that will rob a grace or mar a smile.

And does she pay?

Doesn’t she.

Drop her in the village lane or quiet promenade of her native city and see if she is not gobbled up by the most promising young lawyer or most prominent bachelor in the town.

This is a serious, angular old world. Men are sick and tired of shrewdness, logic, argument and brains. They want to be amused, distracted, diverted. Good sense is tedious after the market closes, and the woman who talks profit and loss, supply and demand, premium and discount in evening dress, in the moonlight or at a dinner party, is a nightmare in petticoats, to be eluded at the first turn in the lane. Change is rest, and, while we hate giggling, we love gabble. There is where the coquetry of woman wins.

I remember riding in an elevated train beside a grizzly man of fifty and a breezy, chatty girl enveloped in fluttering ribbons, dreamy lace and the scent of wild olives, who was pouring society chat into her companion’s ear. When a lull came in her recital do you think he sighed restfully? Not a bit of it.” His only remark was: “Tell me some more.”

Coquetry is to the wine of life what the sparkle is to champagne, and there are women who can no more help being coquettish than that delicious draught can help bubbling.

A pretty lot of nonsense, too, brothers preach against rice powder, curl papers, lip rouge and sweet scent. It is a matter of comment that these dear protected sisters receive more than a liberal allowance of home, while the veriest Dolly Varden in the set has her fill of the play, the dance and the tennis court.

The coquette is helped over dangerous crossings, her packages are picked up and brushed when she drops them. The first place at a bank window and the first consideration in the shops are hers. The coquette gets the loveliest flowers, the most delicious candies, the newest books and the latest prints in the market. The coquettes receive the idolatry of men. Their hearts, their hands, their names, and finally their worldly goods.

She need not make a show-case of herself nor play the flower garden to the captivating. A girl can be absolutely irresistible in a fifteen-cent cambric. Innocence, youth, beauty, sentiment are associated with a girl in a white dress. Plenty of men shrink from brocade and passementerie as fabrics beyond their income, but the white cambric, the white mull, the white anything is a raiment that blots out arithmetical calculation.

The coquette may be as wise as Maria Mitchell, Susan B. Anthony or Abigail Dodge, but she will never let a man find it out. She knows too well how they hate things didactic. And so she smiles sweetly, talks gayly and lives to please. Here’s luck to the little coquette. Long may she wave and never waver.

Kansas City [MO] Times 29 June 1890: p. 16

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Men are sick and tired of shrewdness, logic, argument and brains.”


Might Mrs Daffodil venture to suggest that the gentlemen are simply jealous?

Especially since they are the logical, shrewd sex who can be taken in by what appears to be a fifteen-cent cambric, but is, in reality, a costly garment from some couturière specialising in the coquette trade. Those cambric-besotted gentlemen will face some hard arithmetical calculations once the trap is sprung and they have bestowed their hearts, hands, names, and worldly goods on the Girl who Lives to Please.


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.