Tag Archives: weddings

Wedding Tales from a Parish Clerk: 1830

[The narrator is a parish clerk of long-standing.]

It would not perhaps be unamusing to describe the vast changes in fashion which have taken place during the forty years that I have officiated as parish clerk; but though I am not an inattentive observer of dress, I have looked beyond the bridal robes, and my chief delight has been to scrutinize, I hope not impertinently, the conduct of the parties. I was much interested by the appearance of a lady who came in a splendid carriage, and attended by her friends to our church. She was richly and elegantly attired, in white lace and white satin; but no one who looked upon her countenance would ever cast a thought upon her dress again: her form was so thin and fragile, it seemed a mere shadow; her face was of lily paleness, and she wore a look of such deep and touching melancholy, that the heart melted at the piteous sight. There was, however, no violence in her grief; her eyes were tearless, and her manner was calm. I understood that she was a great heiress, who had lately changed her name for a large fortune, and that she was of age, and her own mistress; therefore there could be no constraint employed in inducing her to approach the altar. My ears are rather quick, and I could not help overhearing a part of that lady’s conversation with her bridesmaid, as they walked up and down the aisle together. “I was wrong to come here,” she said in a mournful tone, “wrong to allow any persuasion to tempt me to violate the faith I have plighted to the dead. Can an oath so sacred as that which I have sworn ever be cancelled? I scarcely dare glance my eyes towards those dark and distant corners, lest I should encounter his reproaching shade: it seems as though he must rise from the grave to upbraid me with my broken vow.”

The friend endeavoured to combat these fantastical notions, urged the duty she owed to the living, and the various excellencies of the man who now claimed her hand. “I know it all,” returned the fair mourner, “but still I cannot be persuaded that I have not acted lightly in accepting the addresses of another. My faith should be buried in the tomb with my heart and my affections. I fear me that he who now receives my vows will repent those solicitations which have induced me to break my steadfast resolution to keep that solemn promise which made me the bride of the dead.” Pulling down her veil, she passed her hand across, her eyes and sighed heavily. Not wishing to appear intrusive, I withdrew to the vestry-room; and shortly afterwards the bridegroom entered, accompanied by a gentleman whom he introduced as a stranger, saying that the relative who was to have attended him as the groom’s-man had been suddenly taken ill, and his place unexpectedly supplied by a friend newly arrived from the continent. He then inquired for the bride, entered the church, and led her to the altar. The clergyman opened his book– the ceremony commenced–and the lady, raising her drooping downcast head, fixed her eyes upon the stranger who stood by her intended husband’s side, and, uttering a wild scream, fell lifeless on the ground! We carried her immediately into the vestry, and, after many applications of hartshorn-and-water, she at length revived. In the interim an explanation had taken place; and I learned that in early life the bride had been engaged to the gentleman whose appearance had caused so much agitation, and whom she had long mourned as one numbered with the dead. The bridegroom did not urge the conclusion of the ceremony, and indeed the spirits of the lady had sustained too severe a shock for the possibility of going through it. Her tremor was so great that there was some difficulty in conveying her to the carriage, and the whole party retired looking very blank and dejected.

About three months afterwards, the same lady came to church again to be married, and never in my life did I see so astonishing a change as that which had taken place in her person and demeanour. She had grown quite plump; a sweet flush suffused her face, and her eyes, instead of being sunk and hollow, were now radiantly brilliant. She stepped forward with a cheerful air, and her voice sounded joyously. If my surprise were great at this alteration, it was still greater when I looked at the bridegroom, and saw that he was the very same gentleman who had come before. I thought, to be sure, that the lady who had grieved so deeply was now going to be united to her first love–but no such thing; and I was told afterwards, that the young heiress was so shocked by the inconstancy of the faithless friend–for it seems that he was not aware of the report of his death, and had long ceased to trouble himself about her–that her attachment was quite cured, and she had determined to bestow her hand and fortune upon the man who best deserved them.

There was something very remarkable about the next couple who came to be married. The lady was old, and the gentleman young –a mere boy of one-and-twenty, going to link himself with sixty-five. And such a vinegar, crabbed aspect as the bride possessed, was surely never exhibited at a wedding before. She seemed conscious that she was about to do a foolish thing, and was angry that the world thought so too; the bridegroom looked sheepish, and kept his eyes fixed on the ground, while he rapped his shoe with his cane, much to the discomfiture of the lady, who was compelled to put herself forward as he hung back, and to take his arm instead of waiting to be led to the altar. She could not conceal her mortification at the neglect she experienced, but she bridled, and tossed, and cast such bitter glances upon those who seemed disposed to smile, that all, the party stood awe-struck; and when the ceremony commenced, it was rather curious to hear the bridegroom whispering his part of the service, while the sharp shrill voice of the bride was actually startling in the solemn silence of a large and nearly empty church. The contrast between this antiquated belle’s yellow parchment visage and her snowy drapery was so striking that it increased her ugliness. I could think of nothing but an Egyptian mummy tricked out in white satin; and there were some sly looks passed amid the company when her restless fiery eyes were for a moment withdrawn, which seemed to say that some such idea was gliding through their heads. I suppose that she had a good deal of money; for by the poor lad’s manner I should think that nothing else would have induced so young a man to link himself with such a withered, and I may say pestilent hag.

I have seen, to be sure, many unwilling bride-grooms in my time. One, I remember, was evidently brought to church through fear of the brothers of his bride. They came, three of them, to escort the lady, as fierce as dragoon officers; and I believe one of them was in the army, for he clattered in with long spurs, and wore a brave pair of mustachios on his upper lip. The other two were stout athletic men, with an air of great resolution; while the bridegroom, who was strong enough to have coped with any one of them, but who in all probability disliked the chances of a bullet, looked dogged and sullen, taking especial care to show that the slight civility which he displayed was extorted from him by compulsion. I felt for the poor girl, for she met nothing but stern glances. The rising tears were checked by a frown from some one of her three brothers, who watched her narrowly; and there was little consolation to be drawn from the countenance of her intended husband: if ever he looked up there was a scowl upon his brow. She could only hope to exchange three tyrants for one, and there seemed too great a probability that the last would revenge upon her the treatment which he had received from her kinsmen. The ladies of the party shook their heads and were silent; and altogether I never saw more evil augury, although the termination was not so disastrous as that which I once witnessed upon a nearly similar occasion.

The lady, according to custom, came first. She had many of her friends about her; and the whole company showed more joy than is generally exhibited by the polite world, even on these happy events. There appeared to be a sort of congratulation amongst them, as though they had brought some fortunate circumstance to pass of which they had despaired; and amid them also was a tall bluff-looking brother, who seemed very well pleased with the success of his exertions. The bride, too, was in high spirits, and talked and smiled with her bride’s-maiden, arranged her dress at the glass, and carried her head with an air. So much were the party occupied with their own satisfied feelings, that they did not appear to observe the wild and haggard look of the bridegroom. I was shocked and alarmed at the pale and ghastly countenance which he presented; he was dressed in black, and though somebody took notice of this circumstance, it was only to joke about it. To me he seemed under the influence of brandy, or of laudanum, for he talked strangely, and laughed in such a manner that I shuddered at the sound. Nobody, however, appeared to regard it; and the wedding party entered the church as gaily as possible. During the ceremony the bridegroom’ s mood changed; as if struck by its solemnity, he became grave; a shade of inexpressible sadness passed over his wan, cold brow; and large drops of perspiration chased each other down his face. The nuptial rite ended; he stooped forward to kiss the bride, and just as the clergyman turned to leave the altar, drew a pistol from his bosom, and shot himself through the heart before an arm could be raised to prevent him! Down dropped the new married couple together, for this unhappy gentleman had entangled himself in his wife’s drapery, and dragged her with him as he fell. It was a horrid sight to see the dead and the living stretched in this fearful embrace upon the ground. Paralyzed by the report of the pistol, we stood aghast, and a minute elapsed before even I could stretch out my hand to extricate the bride from her shocking situation.  She had not fainted, and she could not weep; but her eyes were glazed, her features rigid, and her skin changed to a deep leaden hue. Her satin robe was in several places stained with blood; and surely never was any spectacle half so ghastly! Her friends repressed their tears and sobs; and, gathering round her, attempted to convey her away. She submitted as if unwittingly; but when her foot was on the threshold of the portal, she burst into long and continued shrieks. The whole church rang with the appalling cry; and it was not until she had completely exhausted herself by her screams, and had sunk into a sort of torpor, interrupted only by low moans, that she could be taken from the fatal spot. A coroner’s inquest sat in the vestry; and a sad tale of female levity, and of the weakness and libertinism of man, came out. But the subject is too painful to dwell upon, and I gladly turn to pleasanter recollections.

We had a very fine party shortly afterwards, who arrived in two or three carriages. The bride was young and fair, but she held her head down, and seemed greatly agitated. It was very easy to perceive that her heart had not been consulted in the choice of a husband. The father, a tall heavy-browed man, cast severe and threatening glances upon his trembling daughter; but the mother, though she seemed equally bent upon the match, interceded for a little cessation of hostilities; and, when the shrinking girl asked to be allowed to walk for a moment with one friend in the church, in order to collect her scattered thoughts, leave was granted. As she passed out of the door she dropped her white satin reticule, and it clanked heavily against the steps–a sound not at all like that of a smelling-bottle, and I must confess that my curiosity was strongly excited. I endeavoured to pick it up; but before I could bend my arm, which is a little stiff with the rheumatism, she had whipped it off the ground, and down the side aisle she went, leaning upon her companion’s arm. This aisle is long, and rather dark, terminating in a heavy oaken screen, which conceals the green baize door leading to the front portal. She passed behind this screen and was seen no more! I thought it very odd, but it was not my place to speak, so I returned into the vestry room, that I might not be questioned. Presently the bridegroom arrived and an ill-favoured gentleman he was with a fretful discontented countenance; and he began complaining of having been detained at home by some fool’s message. After he had grumbled for a few minutes the bride was called for–she was not to be found. The father stormed. “Is this a time,” he exclaimed, “to play such childish tricks! she has hidden herself in some corner;” and away we all hastened in search of her. The church doors were shut and locked; but as I passed up the gallery stairs, I observed that the bolts were withdrawn from that which led from the side aisle. I did not, however, feel myself compelled to publish this discovery, though I shrewdly suspected that the reticule which had rung so loudly as it fell contained a key; and so it proved. Some time was wasted in examining the organ-loft, and indeed every place in which a mouse might have been concealed. At last somebody hit upon the truth, and a little inquiry placed the elopement beyond a doubt. We learned that a carriage had been in waiting at a corner of the street opposite to the church; and that a gentleman had been seen loitering under the portico, who, the instant that two ladies popped out, conducted them to his equipage, which moved leisurely away, while we were engaged in our unsuccessful search. Upon strict examination, it came out that a pew-opener had furnished the means of obtaining a false key. It would be impossible to describe the rage and dismay of the disappointed parties: the mother went off in hysterics, the bridegroom looked sourer than ever, the father raved and swore bitterly; and the clergyman, after vainly attempting to pacify him, read him a lecture upon his intemperate conduct. All those who were not related to the parties slunk quietly away, perhaps to have their laugh out; and I take shame to myself to say that I could not help enjoying the scene, so thoroughly unamiable did those persons appear with whom the fair bride was unfortunately connected. I was anxious about the young couple, and heard with great pleasure that they got safe to Scotland.

Another young lady, forced by her parents to the altar, did not manage matters quite so cleverly. They had dressed her out, poor thing, in ball-room attire; her beautiful hair fell in ringlets from the crown of her head, down a swanlike throat as white as snow, and these glossy tresses were wreathed with long knots of pearl, which crossed her forehead twice, and mingled in rich loops with the clustering curls. Her white arms were bare, for her gloves had been lost in the coach, and the veil had slipped from her hand and hung in disorder over her shoulders. Before the carriage reached the church, I saw her fair face thrust out of one of the windows, as if in expectation of seeing somebody. She paused for an instant on the steps, and, unmindful of the gazing crowd, cast hurried glances up and down the street; and even in the vestry-room, and in the church, she searched every corner narrowly with her eyes, turning round quickly at the slightest sound. Hope did not forsake her until the very last moment–when the bridegroom appeared– a tall prim person, who drew on his gloves very deliberately, not seeing or heeding the agonizing perturbation of his intended bride. Her movements became more hurried as her expectation of a rescue decreased. She suffered herself, as if bewildered, to be led to the communion table; her head all the time turned over her shoulder, still watching for the arrival of some too tardy friend. But when she stood by the rails, and the actual commencement of the ceremony struck upon her ear, she seemed to awaken to a full sense of her dangerous situation; and, throwing up her beautiful white arms, and tearing away the long curls from her brow, she exclaimed, with much vehemence, “No! no! no!” Her bosom heaved as though it would have burst through the satin and lace which confined it; her dark flashing eyes seemed starting from her head; her cheek was now flushed with the hue of crimson, and now pale as death, and every feature was swelled and convulsed by the tumultuous emotions which shook her frame. The tall prim gentleman looked astounded: there was a gathering together of friends; but the bride was not to be appeased–she still continued her half-frenzied exclamation, “No! no! no!” A slight scuffle was heard outside the church, and in the next moment a fine-looking young man dashed in through the vestry-room, scarcely making two steps to the afflicted fair, who, uttering a piercing cry of joy, rushed into his outstretched arms. The clergyman shut his book, scandalized by the indecorum of these proceedings; the tall prim gentleman opened his eyes, and seemed fumbling in his waistcoat pocket for a card; and the lovers, careless of every thing but each other, clasped in a fervent embrace, had sunk down upon one of the free seats in the middle aisle–the youth swearing by heaven and earth that his beloved should not be torn from his grasp, and the lady sobbing on his shoulder. The parents of the bride, confounded and amazed at this unexpected catastrophe, had nothing to say. They at length attempted to soothe the bridegroom ; but he had elevated his eyebrows, and, looking unutterable things, was evidently preparing to walk off; and, this resolution taken, he was not to be stayed. He seized his hat, placed it solemnly under his arm, faced about, and, perceiving that his rival was wholly engrossed in wiping away the tears from the loveliest pair of eyes in the world, he pursed up his mouth to its original formality, and marched straight out of the church. An arrangement now took place between the intruder and the crest-fallen papa and mamma. The latter was left with her daughter, while the two gentlemen went in quest of a new license. The young lady, a little too wilful, it must be owned, pouted and coaxed, till the old lady’s brow relaxed, and all was harmony. Again the curate was called upon to perform his office, and now radiant smiles played upon the lips of the bride–a soft confusion stole over her cheek, and scarcely waiting until the conclusion of the ceremony, as if she feared a second separation, clung to her husband’s arm, not quitting it even while signing her name in the book.

There was nothing extraordinary about the next couple who joined their hands in our church, excepting their surpassing beauty. It seemed a question which could be styled the handsomer, the lady or the gentleman: both were tall, and both had that noble aspect which one is apt to fancy the exclusive gift of high birth. The bridegroom was a man of rank, and the bride little inferior in family connexion. The friends of each party, magnificently appointed, graced the ceremony: altogether–it seemed a most suitable match, and was one of the grandest weddings that had taken place for a long time. The whole affair was conducted with the greatest propriety; hearts, as well as hands, appeared to be joined; the lady smiling through the few tears which she seemed to shed, only because her mother and her sisters wept at parting from her, and the rapturous delight of the gentleman breaking through the cold and guarded forms prescribed by the fashion.

I was much amazed to see the same lady only five years afterwards come again to our church to be married. The same she certainly was, but still how different! Wrapped in a plain deshabille, attended by a cringing female, who bore the stamp of vulgarity in face, dress, and demeanour; her cheeks highly rouged, and the elegant modesty of her manners changed into a bold recklessness, which seemed to struggle with a sense of shame. I could scarcely believe my eyes; the widow of a nobleman would not surely have been in this degraded state. I was soon convinced of the truth of the surmise which flashed across my mind: she answered to the responses in her maiden name–she had been divorced–and the man to whom she now plighted the vow so lately broken, was he worthy of the sacrifice? I should say, no! He was, I understand, one of the wits of the day; but in person, bearing and breeding; sadly, wretchedly beneath her former lord. She seemed to feel her situation, notwithstanding all her efforts to shake off the painful recollections that would arise. I saw her press her hand once or twice upon her heart; and when her eyes glanced around, and caught those well -known objects which she had gazed upon in happier days, she heaved deep and frequent sighs. There was less of solemn earnestness about the clergyman who officiated than usual, and he seemed to hurry over the service as though the holy rite were profaned in joining guilt and shame together. But though the marriage ceremony was cut short, it had already detained this dishonoured pair too long. As they were leaving the altar the vestry-door opened, and a gay bridal party descended the steps. It was the divorced lady’s deserted husband, leading a beautiful young creature, the emblem of innocence and purity, by the hand, and surrounded by a host of friends splendidly attired. A start, and almost a scream of recognition, betrayed the emotion which the wretched woman, who had forfeited her rank in society, sustained at this unexpected and most unwished-for meeting. She had many mortifications to undergo before she could get away. During the ceremony of signing her name, several individuals made excuse to enter the vestry, in order to stare at her; while the ladies, in passing by, shrunk away as though they feared contamination; and she was obliged to walk half-way down the street, amid a line of gaping menials, before she could reach her shabby carriage, which had drawn off to make room for the coroneted coaches of the noble company in the church.

There was something I thought exceedingly strange about another wedding which took place nearly at the same period. One chariot contained the whole party, which consisted of an elderly and a young gentleman, and the bride, a very pretty girl, not more than seventeen or eighteen at the utmost. She was handsomely dressed, but in colours, and not with the precision and neatness of a bride: her clothes, though fashionable and expensive, were certainly not entirely new, bearing slight tokens of having been worn before. Neither did she show any thing like timidity or bashfulness; asking a hundred questions, as if totally ignorant of the forms and ceremonies usually observed at weddings, laughing heartily at the idea of a set of demure bride-maids, and exclaiming continually, “La! how ridiculous!” The bridegroom lounged upon the chair and benches, and said it would be a fine addition to a parson’s income, if he could unmarry the fools who were silly enough to slip into his noose; and the old gentleman listened to this idle conversation with a grieved and mortified air. The young couple, it seems, had not very long returned from a journey to Scotland, and were now re-united, to satisfy the scruples of the bride’s father; although both appeared as if they would have been as well pleased to have been left at liberty to seize the facilities offered in the North for the annulling, as well as the celebrating of contracts, too often hastily performed and speedily repented.

There was a gentleman, a sort of Blue-beard, I must call him, who, having his town-house in our parish, came five times to be married; and I observed that, in all his five wives, he seemed to make a pretty good choice, at least as far as beauty went. The first was a blooming country nymph, who, except that her hair was powdered, and she wore high-heeled shoes, might have passed, with her large curls pinned stiffly in a row, immense hat, and spreading furbelows, for a belle of the present day; and a mighty comely pair she and the ‘Squire made. The second wife was a languishing lady of quality, who, annoyed at the bridegroom’ s old-fashioned prejudice against a special license, kept her salts in her hand, said that the church smelled of dead bodies, and that she should catch some disease and die; and so she did. Then came the third, buttoned up in a riding-habit, which was an ugly fashion adopted at weddings some fifteen or twenty years ago, with a man’s hat upon her head, and a green gauze veil: her partner, then a little inclining to the shady side of life, affected the fooleries of the times, and was dressed in the very tip of the mode, She looked as though she would see him out; but he came again; and the fourth, a pale, pensive, ladylike woman, apparently far gone in a consumption, who seemed, poor thing, as though she had been crossed in love, and now married only for a maintenance, did not last long. The fifth time we had three weddings: the old gentleman and his son espoused two sisters; the former taking care to choose the younger lady, and his daughter married the uncle of her father’s bride. It was a droll exhibition; and I think that the elder Benedict would have done well to remain in his widowed state; for he appeared to have caught a Tartar at last, and would have some difficulty in carrying things with the high hand which he had done with his former wives. I have not heard of his death, but I still retain the expectation of seeing his widow.

Godey’s Lady’s Book, October 1830

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A candid narrative from a gentleman with a front-pew seat, as we might say. He is most severe upon the ladies, which one feels is ungenerous of him and unfair to a sex put at such a disadvantage by society and the law. One does wonder why the clergy did not put a stop to marriages where there was obviously coercion.

A Consent.—A girl was forced into a disagreeable match with an old man whom she detested. When the clergyman came to that part of the service where the bride is asked if she consents to take the bridegroom for her husband, she said with great simplicity, ” Oh dear, no, sir! but you are the first person who has asked my opinion about the matter.” New-York Mirror, Volume 18, 1840

Or where fashion sowed confusion:

 A certain Macaroni bien peudre et bien frize, with a feather hat under his arm, perfumed like an Egyptian mummy, and who had all the appearance of a modern puppy, went to church with his bride, to receive the nuptial blessing, when the Parson, struck with wonder at the strange apparition, for fear of a mistake, thought proper to ask before the ceremony, which of the two was the Lady?

Spooner’s Vermont Journal [Windsor, VT]  7 April 1784: p. 3

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 Bridal Veil: 1886

Brussels wedding veil 1890


A pretty, dark-eyed girl began to work it, whose lover was over the sea. She was a French girl, and came of a good family of lacemakers.

“I’ll work my own bridal veil in my leisure time,” she said. “So when Walter comes to marry me I shall be a gay bride.”

But she never finished the veil. Walter came too soon. She married her English lover—as poor as herself—and went with him to London, and the half-finished bridal veil went along, carefully folded away at the bottom of a trunk, and, for the time being quite forgotten.

It may have been forgotten in earnest, during twelve years, for aught I know; certainly it lay that long unnoticed. A lovely ten year old girl was the fairy that broke its long sleep at last. She had dark eyes, like the little peasant of twelve years ago, but Walter’s golden hair.

“Oh! the charming lace!” she cried, clapping her hands and dancing delightedly, as Elise shook it out of the folds. “Dear mamma, what is it‘? and who made it? and why is it but half done? Can I have it for a dress for my doll, mamma?”

The pretty, dark-haired matron laughed and shook her head, and half sighed, and she pressed the delicate fabric to her lips. Then she told her child the history of its making.

“Mamma, teach me to work it,” she said one day. “My fingers are much finer and tinier than yours.”

After that she would bring her little work-basket to her mother’s side and work at a veil for her doll. The facility with which she learned the graceful art was astonishing. At the age of fifteen so expert was she that Elise did not fear to let her take part in the creation of the bridal veil itself, but they worked at it now and then as fancy seized them.

* * * *

Louis Riviere was from France, like Adele’s mother—that had been a bond between them from the first —for Adele loved her mother’s country for her mother’s sake, though she herself was proud of being called English ; and she also loved the young Frenchman.

The happy weeks and months grew into years. Adele was seventeen; it was agreed and promised that when spring-time came she would be Riviere’s bride.

“We must finish the bridal veil,” cried Elise, eagerly. “I tell you, Monsieur Louis, no lady of your proud house ever wore a lace more exquisite and rich. Ah! shall I not be proud when I look at my beautiful child in her marriage robes, and think of the poor little peasant girl of long ago, who toiled at the lace to earn coarse bread so far away over the sea?”

Louis turned quickly at these words, a look of displeased surprise in his dark eyes.

“What peasant girl, madam?” he questioned, uneasily.

“Myself,” she answered, happily, not marking the look or the tone. “What was I but a poor little lacemaker when my generous young lover married me, the father of Adele?”

He answered nothing, and Elise went merrily chatting on, but Adele noticed his suddenly downcast air and gloomed eyes, though she was far from suspecting the cause of either.

His haughty family pride had received a blow. He conceived an absolute but violent dislike to the bridal veil.

“I detest the sight of it!” he cried one evening in a moment of self-forgetfulness, and when he and Adele were alone. “If, indeed, you love me, never work at it in my presence, Adele; and if I dared ask one special favor of you it should be__”

He paused suddenly. She was listening in great surprise.

“Well,” she said, “it should be ___”

“Wear any other veil in the world but that one to be married in!”

She folded her work and let her fair hands fall on it in her lap; one could see those little hands were trembling.

“You ask a singular favor,” she said, with forced quietness. “Are you not aware that my dear mother worked this veil?”

The hot, impulsive temper answered instantly, without a thought: “It is for that reason I hate it!”

“You did not know when first you sought me for a bride that mamma was a lace-worker in France; if you had, perhaps you would not have loved me. Since you have learned this fact you have regretted our engagement. You need not speak; I have seen a change in you—I feel that it is so! But there is no harm done,” she went on, with simple dignity, “since I have learned the truth before it is too late; and so,” she held out to him a little trembling hand, which he took mechanically—“and so I will grant you the favor you covet, my friend. Your bride shall not wear my darling mother’s bridal veil”—here he kissed the hand, and she drew it quickly away—“but that is because I shall not be your bride.”

No need to dwell upon what followed. His prayers, his protestations—humble at first, then angry his tears that had no power in them to sap the strength of her resolution.

Her parents questioned her in vain. She had quarreled with Louis; that was all they could learn. And before a chance for reconciliation came Elise was smitten with mortal illness and died in three days, and Adele, overwhelmed by the awful calamity, was prostrate with brain fever.

At this juncture a summons came to Louis from France, demanding his immediate presence there. Strange changes had taken place. Two of the three lives that had stood between him and the titles and estates of the Marquis de la Riviere had been suddenly swept away, and the third, a frail, delicate child, lay dying. The present marquis, himself a feeble old man, was also at the point of death, so they sent in haste for Louis, as the heir of the dying nobleman.

The news bewildered him. His heart swelled with exultation and delight, but it sank again. Adele! Had he lost Adele?

“I care not for rank or wealth, unless she shares them!” cried his heart. “I will go and implore her pardon.”

A few weeks later he wrote, informing her fully of his strangely altered fortunes and imploring her to pardon and accept once more as her true-love the love of the Marquis de la Riviere.

And the letter never reached her. The house to which it came was empty and deserted, the late happy home was broken up, and the little English girl, for whom a husband and title and fortune were waiting in sunny France, was earning a sorrowful living as lace-maker! Such are some of the strange realities of real life more wonderful than any fiction.

* * * * *

Many a gay belle and brilliant beauty had spread her net to secure the splendid prize of a titled husband. Foremost among the many, Rosalind Hale; she was the fairest and wealthiest of them all; and her golden hair was not unlike Adele’s. She arranged charades, tableaux, plays—in which he should sustain a part with her. It never occurred to her that he was at once too good-natured and too indifferent to refuse.

The tableaux were suggestive enough. One, upon which Miss Hale had quite set her heart, was that of a bridal—need it be said that Louis was the bridegroom, herself the bride‘?

“He will speak, now, surely,” she thought, as she blushed and trembled before him, While the curtain came slowly down. But no, he only bowed as he led her from the platform; and then one of the buttons of his coat caught in her bridal veil. As the marquis stopped to disengage the lace suddenly he uttered a strange cry. It was Adele’s bridal veil.

“I borrowed it of a lace-maker,” Miss Hale said, in reply to his anxious questioning. “I had ordered one like it; but her health is bad and she failed to have it finished in time. So I made her lend me this.”

“Oh, no? very thin and worn and sad,” she said in reply to another question of Louis’; “with fine eyes, but too dull and pale to be called pretty. But an exquisite lace maker. I shall be glad to give you her address if you have any work for her.” Yes, he had work for her—work that they would share together; the blessed work of binding up an almost broken heart, of restoring love and happiness to both their lives.

Pale and thin and somewhat careworn still was the bride of the marquis on her wedding day; but to his eyes—the eyes of faithful love—it was still the sweetest face in the whole world that smiled and wept beneath Elise’s bridal veil. And he kissed the old lace and blessed it, because through it he had found her again.

The Otago [NZ] Witness 2 January 1886: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Suggestive tableaux, indeed!  There is a bit of Blanche Ingram in Miss Hale, although fortunately there is no Bertha Mason Rochester to tear Elise’s veil. One hopes that the Marquis, who, we may observe, is no Mr Rochester, ate a good deal of humble pie before Adele took him back.

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.


Hints for Bridal Showers: 1907, 1914

The Wooden Bridal Shower

The Wooden Bridal Shower

The bride of today is a very lucky individual, for, besides her wedding presents, she has all sorts of delightful affairs given by her intimate friends. There are “stocking,” “handkerchief,” “plate and cup and saucer,” “linen,” “book,” “flower,” “kitchen” and “novelty” showers. Some or all of these functions are likely to fall to the lot of a girl who announces her engagement, and who gives her friends this opportunity to show their good will. Great care should be taken that only one’s nearest and dearest friends are asked to parties of this kind; strangers or mere calling acquaintances should not be asked to contribute, for it would be embarrassing both to the giver and the recipient; this is one of the instances where a hostess must be sure of who the bride-elect would like to be present. Remember that the “gift without the giver is bare.”

One of the very latest fads is a “turnover collar shower.” Each guest is asked to bring material for a turnover and her thimble, and at the conclusion of an afternoon the fair (we take it for granted that adjective applies, as it seems to be the prerogative of a bride to be termed thusly) bride-to-be will have a number of these useful accessories to her trousseau.

The “book shower” must be arranged by a person who can find out what volumes the recipient does not possess, so there will not be duplicates. The name of the donor, with an inscription, will greatly enhance the value of the gift, and it is safe to say that this collection will be more than prized when placed upon the bookshelves of the new home.

The handkerchief and linen showers are both pretty. Each article can be thrown at the bride until she is fairly buried under the white offerings.

A unique way was devised for the stocking shower by having a large “shoe” candy box in the center of the luncheon table with a ribbon going to each plate. When the ribbons were pulled all drew out favors except the honored guest, who drew out a number of white packages, all rolled tight in white tissue paper—a pair of silk hose from each guest present.

A flower shower is the very prettiest of all, and should be given the day before the wedding. Each guest brings a bunch of flowers, and the bride is literally showered with blossoms from a huge floral ball suspended in a doorway. Have a large ball made of wire covered with moss, and fill closely with flowers; carnations make a perfect sphere. The ball is made in halves and filled with rose petals. When farewells are being said the hostess pulls the ribbon which separates the two halves, releasing the petals, which fall upon the young woman who is about to leave the realm of single blessedness, for the new and unknown way. This scattering rose leaves in the pathway of a bride is a very old custom.

A Silhouette Party for the Bride Elect

A Silhouette Party given for a bride elect was declared by the guests to be one of the most delightful and amusing affairs they had attended. Each guest was given a small square of black paper (procured at a stationer’s or picture framer’s) and a pair of scissors, with instructions to cut a silhouette of the bride elect performing some household duty. The subjects were: “Her First Baking Day, “Saturday She Scrubbed,” “Monday at the Tub,” “Tuesday She Ironed,” “Thursday Is Sweeping Day,” “Friday She Dusted.” One of the girls posed for the amateur artists, sitting or standing as she was requested. Of course every one protested that she never could cut out anything recognizable, but the results proved the contrary. After the figures were cut out, they were pasted on white mats, given the titles they were supposed to represent, signed by the artist, and all given to the bride-to-be — a souvenir of a most delightful afternoon. When refreshments were served, the table was decorated with a baking pan which was filled with flowers; a scrubbing brush bore the guest of honor’s place card; a small flatiron held her napkin down; while a miniature broom and a half-dozen cheesecloth dusters were on her chair. This was a very practical bridal shower and was much appreciated.

A Handkerchief Shower

This affair for a prospective bride was arranged in a very clever manner. Twelve intimate friends were invited to luncheon, with the request to bring the gift mouchoir rolled up into the smallest package possible. Before going to the dining-room the hostess took all the packages and disappeared. When luncheon was announced, with one voice the guests exclaimed “How pretty!” Suspended from the chandelier there was an inverted Japanese umbrella; from each rib there was a smaller umbrella; and from the centre, hung by ribbons, there was a gilded watering can, the sprinkler of which had twelve holes with baby ribbons of different colors coming out. At the end of each ribbon there was a tightly rolled package. The effect was lovely. The place cards were miniature Japanese parasols with the cards tied to the handles. The candle shades were ornamented with these same tiny parasols, and a small lantern filled with candied puffed rice was at each place.

An Apron Shower

An apron shower given for a bride elect proved to be a most enjoyable affair, and the little bride-to-be, was delighted with her supply of aprons. The hostess asked the guests to bring material for any kind of an apron, with their thimbles; the hours were from two until five. On arriving, the girls were taken upstairs into a spacious room, which contained two sewing machines. There were two kitchen aprons; two of dainty white, made long to cover the best gown while preparing Sunday night tea; two work aprons with bibs and pockets; three of lawn, trimmed with ruffles and lace for serving afternoon tea, and one with sleeves. Amid merry chatter and exchange of confidences so dear to girlish hearts, the hum of the machines and flying fingers, the hours passed so rapidly that when the hostess called time as the clock struck five it was impossible to realize that ten aprons had been made and piled into a basket made by a Dutch peasant, and which henceforth was to be a market receptacle for the new housekeeper.

“Dame Curtsey’s” book of novel entertainments for every day in the year, Ellye Howell Glover, 1907

A Tin Bridal Shower

A Tin Bridal Shower


A washday shower was the name of an affair given in honor of a bride-to-be. She was ushered into the parlor in which a clothes line was suspended after the manner of washday, and on it was hung the various gifts. She was provided with a big clothes basket and ordered to take in the wash, which was neatly pinned on the line. The wash consisted of various articles needed for daily domestic tasks. There were dish towels, dust cloths, ironing blankets, kitchen aprons, a clothes-pin bag, in which she had to collect the pins, and a frame on which to roll the line when she had taken it down, and as a climax the tin tubs stood in one corner.

Duluth [MN] News-Tribune 18 January 1914: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One can scarcely bear the thrill of the tin tub revelation. Mrs Daffodil wonders if any brides were ever smothered into insensibility by the showers of white offerings or rose petals, a la the feast of the Emperor Heliogabalus.

While social and household roles were still quite defined in 1907 and 1914, it seems somewhat dismal to celebrate gifts of dust cloths and clothes-pins in honour of what was supposed to be a romantic, companionate love-match. A silhouette depicting “Saturday She Scrubbed,” is more a reminder of “household duties,” than a pleasant souvenir of a delightful afternoon. Perhaps showers were really meant as a warning of the drudgery looming beyond the veil of the wedding-day.

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.


Miss Georgine’s Husband: A Gothic Tale, Part One


—Did I ever see a ghost? I don’t know just what you mean by a ghost, Miss Bessy, but if you mean the appearance of a person after I had seen him die with my own eyes, and laid him out with my own hands .’

I don’t exactly know about telling you the story. You see, it’s a true story, and a very solemn one, and I shouldn’t like to have it laughed at, or to have any one tell me I didn’t see what I did see. But you was always a pretty-behaved young lady, and you know I can’t refuse you anything, so if you will sit down quiet and take your work, I’ll tell you all about it, my dear.

You know, honey, I’m a very old woman, and when I was young I was a slave to old Judge Cleaveland, over on the Flats. There were slaves in York State then. I was born down in Maryland, but the Judge moved up to these parts when I was very small, and brought his servants with him. We were well enough treated. Judge Cleaveland was a hard, high-tempered man, and used to have awful ugly fits sometimes, but, like most folks of that kind, he could keep his temper well enough when it suited him, and he knew it was easy enough for his servants to run away if they didn’t like their treatment. When I was eighteen I married Zack Davis, the coachman, and after that we lived mostly in a house of our own. We were free by that time, and we bought a nice little log-house and some land for a garden, but we worked up at the house all the same.

The old Judge was a widower when he moved up here, but very soon he married a pretty young lady from the Mohawk Valley. She was only eighteen, and a sweet child as ever I saw. The Judge meant to be good to her, I guess, but she never seemed very happy. When the second little girl was born the Judge was dreadfully disappointed. I suppose he wanted a son, to inherit his great estate and keep up the family name. He never was the same to his wife after that. He was polite to her, especially before company, but he had a kind of cold, sneering way with her that I could see cut her to the heart. Her health failed, and she went home to her father’s house for a change, and there she died. The Judge seemed a good deal cast down by her death — more than I should have expected. I dare say some things came back to him when it was too late. After the funeral he shut up the house and went abroad. He was in foreign parts or down in New York for ten years and more. The young ladies, Miss Anna and Miss Georgine, stayed with their grandma some years, and then they were put to school in New York. All that time Zack and I lived in the old house, to take care of it. It was lonesome enough sometimes, especially in winter, but though I used to go all over the great rooms alone by day and by night, I never saw anything then — not a thing.

Well, when the young ladies were sixteen and seventeen, the Judge wrote and told me to clean up the rooms, and have everything ready, for he was coming home. His wild land was growing very valuable, and there was no one to see to it properly, and for that and other reasons he had decided to come home to the Flats to live. So at the time set they came, with loads of new furniture and carpets and what not, and a very nice widow lady for housekeeper. She had a son, an officer in the army and a very fine man, who would willingly have supported her, but she preferred to do for herself.

I expected to see Miss Anna the favorite, as she was the elder, and Miss Georgine had so disappointed her pa by not being a boy; but I soon found out it was the other way. Miss Anna was not pretty. She looked like her ma, and had just such a quiet, gentle way with her. She was afraid of her father, too, as her mother had been, and with some reason — and she was afraid of her sister. She didn’t care much for company, but liked best to sit down and sew or read. Miss Georgine was like her father, and had just his free, bold way. She wasn’t afraid of anything at all except that she should not be first in everything. She was very handsome, with regular features, and beautiful wavy black hair, and long curled eyelashes. I don’t know that I ever saw a handsomer girl, but for real goodness and truth she was no more to be compared to Miss Anna than a great red woodpecker is to a little sweet bluebird. She always contrived to get the best of everything, and if she got into any trouble or mischief, she generally made her father believe it was Miss Anna’s fault. She made a great show of openness and saying what she thought, but she didn’t think all she said, by a great deal.

When Miss Anna was about eighteen, Mrs. Gracie’s son came to visit his mother, and a very fine, sober, nice young man he was. Everyone liked him, especially the Judge, who could not make enough of him till he found that the captain and Miss Anna were taking to each other; then he began to cool off. Captain Gracie stayed at the tavern in the village, and called most every day to see his mother, and before he left he asked the Judge for Miss Anna. Then there was a time. The Judge went into one of his furious rages, ordered both mother and son out of the house, and shut Miss Anna up in her room. Miss Georgine was as bad as her father, and the way they treated that poor girl was shameful. But Miss Anna had got her spunk up, and she contrived — I never knew how —to send word to Captain Gracie. A few days after, when the Judge was out about his land, Captain Gracie drove up to the door, and asked for Miss Anna. She must have expected him, for she came down in her traveling-dress, and with her bag in her hand. Miss Georgine stormed and scolded and sent all ways for her father, but nobody could find him, and in fact I don’t think anybody tried. Miss Anna bade her sister a kind farewell and got into the carriage, and that was the last we saw of her for many a year. They were married that same day in the city, and went away wherever his regiment was. Captain Gracie sent her father his address and a copy of his marriage lines, but the Judge never took any notice; only he handed me the paper and told me to pack up her clothes and things and send them to her. I don’t approve of runaway matches as a general thing, but I can’t say I blamed Miss Anna one bit.

About this time Judge Cleaveland found out that he needed a clerk. or secretary as he called it; so he sent for Mr. Bogardus, a cousin of his wife’s, to come and live in his house and attend to his business. Mr. Bogardus was a fine, handsome man, about thirty, very grave and sober; but with beautiful manners—a real fine gentleman. The Judge made much of him in his pompous, condescending way. Miss Georgina began by being very cold and scornful, but she soon changed her tone when she found her cousin did not take any particular notice of it or of her, and began to be very polite to him. He had a fine voice, and played beautifully on the violin, and she used to ask him to sing and play with her, especially when they had company; but he almost always excused himself and would often stay in the library till midnight, writing or reading. He seemed like a smart man, and yet he never accomplished anything for himself. He was one of the unlucky ones, poor fellow.

But the more Mr. Bogardus kept out of Miss Georgine’s way, the more she courted him. That was her fashion. If there were ten men in the room and she had nine of them around her, she didn’t care anything about it till she got the tenth. She always had plenty of sweethearts, being such a beauty and a great heiress besides. Mr. Bogardus resisted a good while, but by and by l saw a change. He began to be more attentive to his cousin — to sing with her evenings, and sometimes to go out riding and walking with her. Miss Georgina was altered too. I never saw her so gentle and so — “lovable?” yes, that’s just the word, my dear! as she was that summer; and I thinks to myself, “My beauty, you ’re caught at last, but I wonder what your father will say.” For you see he looked on Mr. Bogardus only as a kind of upper servant, for all he was Mrs. Cleaveland’s own cousin.

The Judge didn’t seem to notice for a while, but by and by I think he got his eyes open. He went down to New York for a week or two, and when he came back, he called Mr. Bogardus and told him he had found him a fine position with a gentleman who was going out to Brazil to set up some kind of manufactures, — a place of great trust, and where he would make a fortune in no time. Mr. Bogardus was much pleased. He was always ready to take up any new notion, and he thought he should make himself rich directly. But Miss Georgine had a bad headache that day, and she wasn’t well for a week afterward.

The very day Mr. Bogardus left, I was sitting in my own door, and as I looked up I saw Miss Georgine walking across the field toward my house. I was rather surprised, for she wasn’t fond of walking, and almost always rode her pony wherever she wanted to go. She walked in a weary kind of way too, and when she came near, I saw she looked very pale. I got out the rocking-chair for her, and made much of her, but she sat down on a little stool and put her beautiful head in my lap, as her poor mother had done many a time, and says she, bursting out crying, .

“Oh, Aunt Dolly! My husband’s gone!”

Honey, you might have knocked me down with a feather. I couldn’t think what she meant at first, and thought she had got light-headed from being out in the sun.

“Child!” says I, “you don’t know what you are saying!”

“Yes I do—too well!” says she; and then she told me between her sobs that she and Mr. Bogardus had been privately married while her father was away, the day that they went down to the city together, and that they meant to keep it quiet till Mr. Bogardus made his fortune.

“I never meant to tell anybody,” says she, “but, Aunt Dolly, I couldn’t bear it all alone, and I knew I could trust you!”

Well, I could have wished she had chosen someone else, but I tried to comfort her as well as I could. Presently I said, “Ah, child, you can feel for your poor sister now!”

“That was very different!” says she, lifting up her head as proud as could be; “I haven’t disgraced myself as Anna did. My husband is a gentleman — not a servant’s son! ”

When she said that, Miss Bessy, I knew she had more yet to suffer.

Says I, “Miss Georgine, I shall never betray you, you may be sure, but you ought to tell your pa. Suppose he finds it out: what will he say, and what will you do? ”

“He won’t find it out!” says she, “and if he does, I shall know what to do.” But then she put her head down in my lap again, and oh, how she did cry! I couldn’t but pity her, though she showed such a wrong spirit; and I tried to tell her of a better comfort than mine, but she wouldn’t hear a word of that. She didn’t want any cant, she said. By and by I made her some tea and coaxed her to drink it and to eat a little, and when the sun got low, I walked home with her. She was always gentler with me after that, and whenever she got a letter from Mr. Bogardus she would come and tell me about it. I was on thorns for a while, and watched her as a cat watches a mouse; but everything went on as usual, and nobody but our two selves knew or mistrusted anything about the matter.

Miss Georgine got her letters pretty regular for about six months, and then they stopped, and she never had another. At first she pined a good deal, and l was afraid she was going into a decline; but presently I saw a change. Her old proud self came back, only harder and colder than before. She was handsomer than ever, and more fond of company and admiration. One day I ventured to ask her if she had heard any more of Mr. Bogardus.

Oh, how her eyes flashed as she said, “Never mention that man’s name to me again! He has shamed and deserted me!” says she.

“You don’t know that,” says I; “he may be dead.”

“He isn’t dead!” she answered. “My father heard he was married to a rich Spanish widow up at the mines.”

“I don’t believe it!” says I boldly. “It isn’t a bit like him.” For you see I had come to know him pretty well. I had nursed him in his sick turns, of which he had a good many, and though I didn’t approve of the secret marriage, I liked him and felt like standing up for him.

“Never mention his name to me again, Dolly!” says she, and I didn’t for a long time, till the day came that I had to do it.

Well, the time went on, year after year in much the same way. Our folks spent the summers on their own estate, and the winters in New York or at the South with the Judge’s family, spending a deal of money and seeing a deal of fine company. It was nine years that very spring since Mr. Bogardus went away, when, after they had been home a couple of days, Miss Georgine rode over to see me. She brought me a fine gown and some other things from New York, and after she had showed them to me, says she, speaking proud and careless like, —

“Aunt Dolly, I want you to come up to the house next week, to make my wedding cake and keep house a while, because I am going to be married.”

Miss Bessy, I couldn’t believe my ears; and says I, “Miss Georgina, I don’t know as I quite understand you.”

“You are growing stupid, Dolly!” says she pettishly. “I’m going to be married to Mr. Philip Livingstone, and I want you to make the cake.”

I don’t know what made me, but I spoke right out. “Mrs. Bogardus,” says I, “have you told your pa and Mr. Livingstone about your first marriage?”

“How dare you call me by that name?” says she, and her eyes fairly blazed. “No, I have not told them and I shall not. You can, if you choose!” says she. “How much do you mean to ask me as the price of keeping the secret I was fool enough to tell you?”

Then I flared up. “Mrs. Bogardus,” says I, “there’s the door. Please walk out of it, and don’t come insulting a woman in her own house that thinks as much of herself as you do, if she is black! If that’s what you think of me, you may get someone else to make your cake! ” says I.

Well, she saw she had gone too far. Like her father, she could command her temper well enough when she chose, and she knew she couldn’t get any one to make such cake as mine, if she went down on her knees to them. Besides, I knew all the ways of the house, and they couldn’t do without me. So she came down and said she was sorry, and she did not mean anything, and so on, till she coaxed me round, and I promised to do all she wanted.

“But if it was the last word I ever spoke, I do say you ought to tell Mr. Livingstone,” says I. “What if Mr. Bogardus should come back some day?”

I knew I was doing right, but I felt sorry for her when I saw how pale she turned. long ago,” says she, “ and if he were not, it is nearly nine years since I heard from him, and that is enough to release me. But you’ll be glad to hear,” says she, “that I have coaxed my father to write to sister Anna, and ask her and her son to the wedding. You know she is a widow now, and there is no use in keeping up the quarrel any longer.”

So then I agreed to make the cake, and keep house for her father while she was away. They were coming back to spend the summer at home. But I didn’t feel happy. I knew she was doing wrong, and that harm would come of it.

The wedding went off nicely. Mr. Livingstone was a fine, handsome man, a good deal older than Miss Georgine. He looked good and sensible, and it was easy to see that he fairly worshiped his wife. My heart ached for both of them, because I knew as things were they never could be happy. You see I felt sure Mr. Bogardus wasn’t dead.

How did I feel sure? Well, it was just like this. Whenever any of my folks had died away from me, I had always seen them in my dreams that same night. I saw my own brother, who was drowned in the lake, and my aunt with her baby, and Miss Georgine’s mother. Now Mr. Bogardus was fond of me. He said once that l was more like a mother than any one had ever been to him, and I knew he wouldn’t die without coming to let me know.

Miss Anna, that was, and her boy were at the wedding and stayed a fortnight after. She wore her deep widow’s weeds, and looked thin and worn, but she had a sweet, placid, happy look, worth more than all her sister’s beauty. She told me that through all her trials, in sickness and loneliness, and losing her husband and her children, she had never regretted her marriage, not one minute.

The boy was a fine, manly fellow, the image of his father. The Judge took to him greatly, and wanted Mrs. Gracie to come home to live; but she excused herself and said she must take care of her husband’s mother, who was feeble and needed her. She told me privately that she didn’t think such a life would be good for her boy, and I dare say she was right.

The bride and bridegroom came home after a month and settled down with us for the summer, and the day she came home, I noticed a scared look in Miss Georgine’s face that I never saw there before.

That night I was sitting in my own house (and glad enough I was to get back to it), when someone knocked softly at the door. Zack opened it, and the minute he did so, he cried out, “Lord ’a’ mercy!” I jumped up, and then I thought surely I saw a ghost, but I didn’t. It was Mr. Bogardus himself, but oh how thin and pale, and with his beautiful hair white as snow!

“Will you take me in, Dolly?” says he. “I am sick to death, old friend, and I have come to die with you.”

[To be continued tomorrow at this link. Mrs Daffodil, who understands the impatience of some modern readers with the leisurely progress of nineteenth century fiction, assures those readers that there will be a ghost.]

Lucy Ellen Guernsey.

The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 34, 1874


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.


Mrs Daffodil Reviews Her Readers’ Favourite Posts of 2015

reading woman


Mrs Daffodil has been leafing through her scrapbooks and noting the posts that most found favour among her readers. As the year 2015 passes, here are some nostalgic favourites. Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers the happiest of New Years!

An archival post on The Angel of Gettysburg is a perennial favourite.

A look at the grewsome relics of King Charles I was also popular.

A Bashful Bridegroom was the “hit” of the June bridal specials.

Strange Flower Superstitions in Many Lands continues to fascinate.

How to Make Stage-Thunder and Lightning seems to have struck a chord.

Also popular were An X-ray Spook Party, Motto Dresses, Men who wear Corsets, Bicycle Jewellery, and, a personal favourite of Mrs Daffodil, who was able to “scoop” that person of mortuary fancies over at Haunted Ohio, The Death Drawer.

Mrs Daffodil will return to her regular level of service early in January 2016. Happy New Year!

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 Marriage Mill of Manhattan: 1905

 Manhattan alderman marrying2THE MARRIAGE MILL OF MANHATTAN

By Nina Carter Marbourg

Illustrated with special photographs

There is a veritable Marriage Mill in New York. Spend a morning in it and then if you can, say that there is no romance in this prosaic world. In this mill the God of Love is not overburdened with care concerning the quality of his grinding, nor is he at all deliberate in the process.

When I stepped from the bright sunlight of City Hall Park, into the gloom of a long corridor that runs through the basement of the City Hall, I suddenly and quite unexpectedly collided with a group of men and women. Naturally I begged pardon, and asked where I could find the Marriage Bureau.

“It’s right here,” in a thin voice and accompanied by a series of suppressed giggles came from a girl near the wall. I started toward the door, when the same voice called out: “It is too early, lady, the door isn’t open yet. Yes we are waiting to get married,” she added amiably. “Been here this half hour. We’ve got to hurry too or put it off until noon, because if—if we are late at the office we’ll lose our jobs.”

Waiting for the opening of the marriage mill.

Waiting for the opening of the marriage mill.

Astonishing and unique it did seem to find young people making this plunge into the maelstrom of the marital sea in such a matter-of-fact way, just as though it were an every-day occurrence, and something that might be deferred until tomorrow without making much difference to either of them.

“You don’t mean to say that you will be married this morning and then go to your office and enjoy no honeymoon, do you?”

“Um—!” the bridegroom-elect rejoined this time, “and later on our vacations come at the same time so we are going away then. We’d have been married last week, only we couldn’t get a chance, one of us was working all of the time—. But…”

At this period of the interesting explanation a man came down the corridor. He cast a glance at the waiting couples, nodded, grinned, placed a key in the lock, turned it and announced: “Business begun for the day. Step in all youse who are in love and want to be married.”

The two young couples needed no urging, and the conductor of the marriage mill surveyed them critically as they filed to the chairs against the wall.


The chamber of ceremony is not over prepossessing. The ceiling is very low; an ordinary flat-topped desk stands at the back of the room; in front of it and around the sides of the wall are ranged a single row of chairs ; a smaller desk completes the furnishings. The supervisor waved the young people to the seats and without taking further notice of them proceeded to dust the desk. Presently he looked up, very much as though his grey matter had begun work.

“In a hurry?” he managed to say out of the side of his mouth, as he chewed a piece of gum.

“Yes, sir,” from the more courageous bridegroom.

“How much is it worth?” he paused a moment in his dusting and looked speculatively at the young people.

“Why, I’ll give you a dollar,” volunteered one of the men.

“So will I,” chimed in the other.

“Well “considered the keeper of the Mill, continuing his dusting, and, judging from the furrows between his brows, thinking deeply.

“Well?” queried the more audacious of the two men.

“Say,” ejaculated Mike, fixing the young people with his eyes, “Say did any of youse ‘lope?”

Indignation in all its righteousness arose; the four young people stood up as though they were mechanical dolls and the spring had been touched.

“Well! Well! That’s all right. Don’t get huffy about it. Stick to yer perches an’ I’ll see if I can hustle an Alderman fer youse. A dollar a piece you said? All right. Hi, Jerrey, pike down the shoot an’ hustle the Alderman. See? Git!”

During this performance the young people, having regained their respective chairs, sat staring at each other in blank amazement, but soon this dazed condition of their minds wore off and they looked rather sheepish.

The young man who entertained apprehensions concerning the safety of his “job” looked at his watch. His bride-to-be whispered at him. For an instant he gazed blankly at the floor and then, man fashion, answered in a distinctly audible tone:

“Yes, and we’ll get a new table for the dining-room and lace curtains bye-and-bye.”

The girl blushed as red as an American Beauty rose, and the young woman on the opposite side of the pillar giggled.

All five of us straightened perceptibly as a sharp, quick step neared the door; then the Alderman, that all-important Mr. Leopold Harburger of this morning’s romances, came in, tossed his hat on the desk, pulled off his gloves, and remarked as he did so: “Now, young people, if you are in as much of a hurry as I am, we’ve no time to lose. Who is first?”

“We are, sir,” returned the prospective purchaser of the new “table for the dining room and lace curtains bye-and-bye.”

“All right, step up; what’s your name?” said the Alderman without pause or break in his sentence.

”Henry Roth.”

‘”The lady’s?”

“Margaret Dean.”

“Your age?”





“New York, and so was she,” he added wishing to hurry matters and evidently thinking of his “job” the whole.

“Now, then, where are your witnesses?”

“Haven’t any.”

“Well, then, you two young people back there step up here, take the witness places and be sworn.”

The other couple did as the Alderman desired and presently the Master of Ceremonies was rattling on in his rapid-fire manner: “Bride and groom join hands. Henry Roth, do you take this woman, Margaret Dean, to be your lawful and wedded wife?”


“Margaret Dean, do you take this man Henry Roth to be your lawful and wedded husband, and do you promise to love, honor and obey him as long as you remain his wife?”


“Well, then, Henry Roth kiss your wife, Mrs. Henry Roth, and go back to your homes and be happy all the rest of your days; there you two stand back and play witnesses for these other young people as they have done for you; it will take you only a minute and as I am in a hurry you will accommodate me as much by doing this as I have by getting you two married and if you owe the keeper of this marriage bureau anything pay it before you go though there is no charge for anything down here.”

a world of advice to the young couple2

I drew a deep, long breath as Alderman Harburger completed this utterly unpunctuated list of instructions. It seemed as though his lung power must be exhausted, but before I had time to draw another breath he was off at the same mile-a-minute pace.


Within twenty minutes four people had been made two, everything was done up in proper shape, the certificates were ready, and the big red seal was placed on them. Then the young man paid the keeper of the Mill his little fee and in a second more had left the room.

“There,” said the Alderman as they disappeared, “I’ve done my duty by them. Now I’m going over to my office. I’ll be back by half-past ten. If others come, hold ’em or get another Alderman.” So saying, he picked up his hat and was off.

The superintendent once more regained his feather duster, not that anything needed dusting, but it was a habit with him. We were left alone in this strange Cupid’s Court. Resting his weight on one foot and flourishing the duster at intervals, he remarked: “You see, it’s this way. These young folks have no people in town, so they don’t have church weddin’s; they just come here, an’ we ties the knot fer ’em. Then there’s folks what ‘lope. Sometimes you can spot ’em, because they look so scared, but now and then they gets away. After them comes older folks what takes marriage just as indifferent like as they do anything else in life. They come here ’cause it’s like going ‘jest round the corner’ and there ain’t no fuss and feathers.” Here he dabbed at the chair as though he were making a body thrust at some hated enemy, and after a pause remarked in subtle, deep-meaning tones: “Last of all there’s them [ethnic slur.] S’pose you call ’em Italians. They are the worst ever. Why, they come here morning, noon and night, and—hello, there’s some now. Want to get hitched? All right, come in here.”

He motioned them to chairs with a grand sweep of his feathered scepter.

The party in hand was a queer one. It was comprised of the young Italian, his sweetheart, her father and mother. They were decked in holiday day regalia, all the colors of the rainbow could be found in the dresses of the women, and brilliant purple and red neckties threw the deep bronzed features of the men into fine relief.

Every Italian in America must be married twice. The man of Little Italy is married in his Church. To our authorities this means nothing, so a civil marriage is necessary. To the Italians a civil marriage means no marriage whatsoever, for this reason there is a double wedding.

The party from Little Italy sat staring in wide-eyed astonishment at the King of the chamber, the little bride-to-be tugged at her husband’s homespun coat sleeve.

“Say—where we find marrying man. Here? Yes?”

He of the homespun nodded, but the little woman was not yet content.

“S—ay, when, now?”

Again he nodded.

By this time two more couples had come to have the knot tied for them. They represented the up-town young people, a homey, comfortable sort. You perceived instantly that they were not strangers to Broadway, still they were not of the theatrical type, but a couple of young people who had succeeded in reaching the happy medium of existence. Being of such a class they sat down for a comfortable chat and a wait for the Alderman. To them, a wait of half an hour or so didn’t matter much; they could find plenty to interest them.

Suddenly there was a rustle of skirts in the corridor, a quick step, a flutter at the door, and a young man quite breathless, demanded: “Where’s the man who ties the knots?”

“He’ll be here after while,” slowly answered the attendant from behind his morning paper, wholly unmoved by this sudden entrance.

“Say, I’ll give you five dollars if you’ll get him here in as many minutes.

“Whew!” whispered Mike, and in an instant he had darted from the room.

He had forgotten to ask whether or not they had eloped; it did not seem to matter to him what they had done. The young girl was all of a flurry, and they sat down near the very much sophisticated young couple. The flurried young woman held her hand to her heart a moment, and the girl in the next seat passed her vinaigrette.

“Oh, thank you ever so much. You see we hurried and—and I’m a little out of breath and…”

“Why, child,” remarked the young woman of the vinaigrette, “you are as white as a ghost, now for heaven’s sake don’t faint, because if you do you’ll probably spoil it all. You see when you’ve had enough courage to elope—there, there, I can read it in your face, you’ve eloped all right enough—and as I was about to say, when you’ve had enough courage to do that you don’t want to ruin things at the very end. There now— here comes the Alderman and everything will be all right. Courage,” she whispered, as she patted the back of the small, well-gloved hand.

The timid girl smiled her thanks, and in a more breathless manner than usual the marriage ceremony was read. The young men exchanged cards and the newly-married pair were out of the marriage bureau door before you could comfortably say Jack Robinson.

The Alderman was just calling the second couple when the door burst open and a very red faced, irate little man raised on tip toe, and shouted: “Where are they?”

“Oh,” remarked the Alderman,” so they did elope after all. I thought so, for the fee was unusually big. Well, they have been gone some twenty minutes, and they said they were going to catch a train.”

“They did, did they?” shouted the little man, “What train where?”

“I don’t know,” said the Alderman, “But I’d advise you to telegraph their description.”

“Oh, it’s a shame. It’s a shame. I’ll forgive them, but I wanted to give them a fine wedding, and only said ‘No’ because I wanted the pleasure of being asked over again. So, they’ve stolen the march on me, the young rascals! Well, that makes me love ’em more than ever,” he completed, as he handed the Alderman a bill for no other reason than that his ill temper had turned to joy, and that smiles superseded the frowns.

“Now, I’m going to telegraph for them, and when I find them we’ll have to celebrate. Good-bye, thank you.”

“Good-bye,” responded the Alderman, “and good luck.” Then turning to the other American couple he remarked: “Queer old codger, isn’t he? Now, what on earth did he thank me for? Well, no time to lose, suppose you want to be made miserable, too?” jocosely smiled the marrying man.

“No, rather happy. But, say, won’t you do me a favor? Read that marriage ceremony in a way that we may understand what we are doing, for goodness sakes don’t make us say ‘yes’ to a lot of things we don’t intend to do.”

“All right,” laughed this good-natured Alderman. “Now, ready? We’re off,” and he read the ceremony in a more decorous manner than previously.

Presently these young folks were married and sauntered out of the Court, but before going, the bridegroom exchanged such a good, well-relished kiss with his bride that it made everybody feel particularly glad that this comfortable young pair had come to the Mill.

manhattan marriage mill2

The two Italians were next taken in hand. They could speak but little English and understand less. The marriage ceremony was read rapidly and when the Alderman came to the question: “Do you take this woman, etc.,” our friend of the feather duster nodded violently at the man and then the man nodded; the same performance was repeated when the question was addressed to the woman. So the ceremony was accomplished, the certificate was handed to the group, he turned it over and contemplated the big red seal. Presently he went to the table in the corner where the superintendent was sitting.

“Red spot,” he said pointing to the seal. “Two?”

“No, that’s all right.”


“No, one’s enough. You’re married now.”

“No. Two red spots.”

“Now, see here,” jerked out the keeper of seals, “you go on back to Little Italy, and be happy. You’re married fast enough, and one seal’ll hold the knot as tight as you want it to be tied. Most folks are willing to do with half a seal. So long.”

He waved the man imperiously aside. In all probability the Italian did not understand a word said to him, but so long was the sentence and in such a gattling-gun rapid-fire manner was it delivered that he picked up his hat and catching his little bride by the hand bolted out of the door, followed by the mother and father.

Sometimes there are as many as twenty or twenty-five marriages ground out in this mill a day. Sometimes it is very dull. There is always an Alderman on the tapis, and at a moment’s notice he will appear and say the word. Alderman Leopold Harburger holds the record for making the greatest number of marriages in the city. He is familiarly known as the “marrying Alderman” and well has he earned his title.

Any one who wants to may visit the Marriage Mill. All he has to do is to go to City Hall and inquire for the place. You may be stared at by the man of whom you inquire your way, but that need not trouble you, for down in City Hall they have a way of staring at one if one only asks where the Mayor’s office is.

The Hampton Magazine, Volume 14, 1905

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is surprised that the “little man” took the elopement with such equanimity. The bereft Papas in the story of The Elopement Bureau displayed much more temper.

The Italians are particularly mentioned because a large wave of emigration from Eastern Europe and Italy had swept the United States at the turn of the 19th century. Many had not yet assimilated into the American mould; hence the careless ethnic slur and remarks on the Italians’ multi-coloured clothing and imperfect command of English and of American customs. Several decades earlier the same charges had been levelled against Irish immigrants to the States (with the exception of the multi-coloured clothing) and with additional accusations of criminality, drunkenness, and humorous dialect stories. The fabled Melting Pot of America has seemed, at times, perhaps more like an Automat.

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 Bashful Bridegroom: 1831

Country Wedding, John Lewis Krimmel, 1820

Country Wedding, John Lewis Krimmel, 1820

A Bashful Bridegroom

Senator Sebastian, of Arkansas, was a native of Hickman county, Tenn. On one occasion a member of Congress was lamenting his bashful awkwardness. “Why,” said the senator from Rackensack, “you don’t know what bashfulness is. Let me tell you a story, and when I get through I will stand the bob if you don’t agree that you never knew anything about bashfulness and its baneful effects. I was the most bashful boy west of the Alleghenies. I wouldn’t look at a girl, much less speak to a maiden; but for all that I fell desperately in love with a sweet, beautiful neighbor girl. It was a desirable match on both side, and the old folks saw the drift, and fixed it up. I thought I should die, just thinking of it. I was a gawky, awkward country lout about nineteen years old. She was an intelligent, refined and fairly well educated girl in a country and at a time when the girls had superior advantages, and were therefore superior in culture to the boys. I fixed the day as far as I could have put it off. I lay awake in a cold perspiration as the time drew near, and shivered with agony and thought of the terrible ordeal. The dreadful day came. I went through with the program somehow in a dazed, confused, mechanical sort of a way, like an automaton booby through a supper where I could eat nothing, and through such games as “Possum Pie,” “Sister Phoebe,” and all that sort of thing. The guests one by one departed, and my hair began to stand on end. Beyond the awful curtain of Isis lay the terrible unknown. My blood grew cold and boiled by turns. I was in a fever and then an ague, pale and flushed by turns. I felt like fleeing into the woods, spending the night in the barn, leaving for the west never to return. I was deeply devoted to Sallie. I loved her harder than mule can kick; but that terrible ordeal!—I could not, dare not stand it. Finally the last guest was gone, the bride retired, the family gone to bed, and I was left alone—horror of horrors, alone with the old man. “John,” said he, “you can take that candle, you will find your room just over this. Goodnight, John, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul,” and with a mischievous twinkle in his fine gray eye the old man left the room. I mentally said “Amen” to his “Heaven help you,” and when I heard him close a distant door, staggered to my feet and seized the farthing dip with nervous grasp. I stood for some minutes contemplating my terrible fate, and the inevitable and speedy doom about to overwhelm me. I knew that it could not be avoided, and yet I hesitated to meet my fate like a man. I stood so long that three love letters had grown in the wick of the tallow dip and a winding sheet was decorating the side of the brass candle-stick. A happy thought struck me. I hastily climbed the stair, marked the position of the landing, and the door of the bridal chamber. I would have died before I would have disrobed in that holy chamber, where awaiting me a trembling and beautiful girl, a blushing maiden, “clothed upon” with her own beauty and modesty, and her snowy robe de nuit. I would make the usual preparations without, blow out the light, open the door, and friendly night would shield my shrinking modesty and bashfulness and grateful darkness at least mitigate the horror of the situation. It was soon done. Preparations for retiring were few and simple in their character in Hickman, altogether consisting of disrobing, and owing to the scarcity of cloth in those days man was somewhere near the Adamic state when he was prepared to woo sweet sleep. The dreadful hour had come; I was ready. I blew out the light, grasped the door-knob with a deathly gripe and a nervous clutch; one moment and it would be over.

One moment and it wasn’t over by a d__n sight. I leaped within, and there around a glowing hickory fire, with candles brightly burning on the mantel and bureau, was the blushing bride, surrounded by the six lovely bridesmaids.”

The Fresno [CA] Republican 24 June 1882: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil really has nothing to add….

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.




Marriage a la Mode: Three Would-be Brides: 1730, 1778, 1820

An 1824 wedding gown. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

An 1824 wedding gown. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


JULY, 1730.

Extracts from the Diary of my Great-grandmother.

Five o’clock.— Got up an hour before my usual time to distil surfeit-water. Said my prayers. Finished one of my father’s new shirts. Mem. To send to town for some currants, raisins, and ratafia water. Six .— Some poor women came for medicine to my mother; gave out of the store-room several doses, and a pint of sack. Mem. To carry two shillings to Tom, the carpenter’s wife, who is ill. Seven. — Breakfasted. A card has come from Mr. Jenkins, to let us know he will do himself the pleasure of dining with us. The match debated during breakfast. My father says, if he finds him a man of good morals, he’ll not differ as to the settlements. I am ordered never to be alone with Mr. J. until all the writings are drawn. Eight.— Read the Psalms and chapters for the day. Taught little Jemmy his catechism. Mem. Betsey has marked J. in her sampler to-day: that stands for Jenkins. Nine.— Darn some old point-lace tuckers. Do some clear-starching and ironing for next week. Ten.— Go see the carpenter’s wife. Her family in very great want. Give them a shilling from my own pocket-money. Eleven .— Sit down to my cross-stitch. A shepherdess the subject, for an urn-rug. Twelve.— My mother orders me to make a custard-pudding, to show Mr. Jenkins what I can do. Orders me to wear my best gown at dinner, and only two patches. Mem. I mean to appear in my new hoop and laced stomacher. Mr. J. is a man of figure, so will look to my appearance. One.— Too much ratafia water in the pudding. Mr. J. praised some hare of my potting. I begin to like him vastly well, but must not let him perceive it. Mem. Our currant wine just out. Mislaid the key of the corner-cupboard. Thinking of Mr. J. Two.— Miss T. and her lover stepped in to tea. Promise her receipt for pickling mushrooms. Mem. Mrs. Hart’s receipt for burns very good. Must have it in the house. Garlick syrup excellent for coughs. Eight. — Supper. My brother tells me Mr. Jenkins is very wild. Mem. Never to see his face again!

A 1779 wedding gown

A 1779 wedding gown


Notes from my Grandmother’s Pocket Diary.

Two o’clock.— Arrived this moment in town. We have been three days coming from S—– in our own coach. Just put off my riding-dress, and huddled on my green gown, to get to the milliner’s, mercer’s, &c. Overjoyed to be in town; so have no appetite for my dinner. Four.— Going out with Miss Tendrill. She tells me coque de perle necklace and ear-rings are much in vogue. Mem. To teaze my mother until she gets them for me. Arrive at Truefit’s. N. B. Truefit the first modeste in the world. Ordered a cane hat, lined with cerulean blue Persian, trimmed with blonde lace and ribbons, for walking in the Park, and making morning calls. Mem. Must bespeak two pairs of white leather shoes, with red heels, and bindings to correspond. Advised to have a Saint Teresa of sarsnet and blonde lace, as ’tis the latest mode. Ordered it at once. Mem. Blonde lace ruffles, with a large slope, vastly genteel. Uneasy till I get them. Eight.— Go home, fearing I may miss Mr. Cleveland. He advises, as my shoulders are rather round, that my stays be made high behind. He says ’tis quite the thing to have them so. I have desired they should be cut low before, as it shows the chest off to advantage. Sunday. Eleven o’clock.— Had no rest last night, anticipating the pleasure of the week to come. Too late for church. I shall dress in time enough for a ride in the Park. One. — Miss Wyndham has called for me. Go to Mrs. Emerson, to engage her to matronize us to an assembly to-morrow night. Mr. —– walked up to speak to us. An acquaintance of Miss Wyndham. A fine well-made man; improves on better acquaintance. He took great notice of me, and told Miss W. I was a prodigious fine girl. Miss W. jealous, and anxious to return home; he offered to escort us. Miss W. complained of headache, and would not speak. I improved the opportunity, by chatting away merrily to Mr. —– all the way home. Mem. To get green Persian calash, same as Miss Wyndham’s. Mr.—– praised it, so I won’t be outdone. Seven.— Mr. —– invited to dinner by my mother. I engrossed all his attention. He is very rich. Eleven.— Desired Mary to waken me at two in the morning, to have my hair dressed. It will be done in about four hours. Monday. Two in the morning.— Crumpe just arrived. Read Damon and Ella, whilst my head is being operated on. A sweet book! Seven.— My hair finished. Mem. Crumpe the first hair-dresser in Europe. Only 463 black pins in it. No other could have accomplished it with less than 470. Eleven. — Out shopping with Mrs. Emerson. Take the round of the fashionable milliners. Bespeak a grenadier cap of blonde lace, with a Mary Stuart peak. Saw a lovely clouded lute-string at Ball and Campbell’s. Resolved to have it. ‘Tis very much genteeler than Miss Wyndham’s. Twelve.— Had a glance at Mr. —–. They say half the reigning belles are dying for love of him. Charming creature! Mem. To dance the first minuet with him to-night, if possible. One.— Much fatigued from tumbling over silks, &c. Tried on my new negligee. Mem. Must not go to the assembly until ten. Country hours will not do here. Tuesday. One.— Paid so many visits yesterday before the assembly, that I was tired and out of sorts. Mr. —– danced with Miss Wyndham half the night. Well, to be sure, what taste some people have! She looked downright frightful. Her fortune is a large one; that covers all defects, I suppose. I am mortified, have a bad headache, and wish our stay in town was at an end. I have just heard that Mr. —– proposed for Miss Wyndham last night. I shall cut her acquaintance most certainly.


Leaves from my Mother’s Journal.

Tuesday, Dec. 2.— The boxes containing my trousseau have just arrived. My cousin Annie and I busy unpacking them. Annie to be my bridesmaid. How brilliant her color is to-day: she looks very lovely, and will grace our wedding. Of course, dear Edward is charmed with her, for my sake. My wedding-dress is of white lace, gored on the hips, and quite tight down to the knee, where small flowers, headed with thick wadded rolls of white satin, commence. The body is just one finger deep in front, and a little deeper behind. The dress is made low, for the ball on the evening of the wedding; and with it has come a white flowered satin spencer, covered with small white tassels on the front, and with a stiff standing collar, which looks very stylish. My hat is composed of blonde and satin, and has six full ostrich feathers in it, three at each side, the two end ones being very long, so as to fall gracefully on the shoulders. Madame Lion has sent, amongst other things, a blue cloth pelisse, trimmed with sable; the price of it is thirty-five guineas. Edward made Annie try on some of my things to see how he liked them. Strange that it was not me he wished to see them upon! Dear Edward, how thoughtful he is— he made me retire to my room very early, saying I looked fatigued. Annie did not follow me until twelve o’clock, and seemed flushed and slightly agitated on entering the room. She says I look so pale I should wear a little rouge. ‘Tis a fashion I never yet adopted. Wednesday, Dec. 3.— Papa and dear Edward all day in the study, closeted with Mr. Grabb, our attorney, arranging about settlements. Tomorrow I shall be the happy bride of him whom I adore. Guests arriving all day. I saw Annie coming out of the shrubbery with dear Edward, before the dinner-bell rang. What could they have gone there for? The hour late, too, for walking, and the evening cold and damp. Twelve o’clock.— Just retired to my room for the night. Take one more peep at my wedding dress, laid on the sofa, and now retire to dream of the happy morn fast approaching.

* * * * * *

Here the manuscript ceases; for, when morn came— that morn so longed for— Edward was missing; and, stranger far, Annie was nowhere to be found, and was sought for in vain. The faithless pair had eloped together, and the following day were united at Gretna Green. Long did my poor mother pine and mourn her sad fate. But at length brighter days arose for her; and in my dear and honored father she found what she had long searched for— a congenial loving, and honest heart. M.E.H.

Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] June 1854

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil wonders what the author’s Great-Grandmother would have thought of Dollar Princesses, or flapper-brides, or today’s faux-celebrity weddings with sponsorships and paparazzi. Obviously her daughter did not absorb that lady’s sensible character or her notions of useful service and parental obedience. And with such a flirt for a mother, the 1820 bride could scarcely choose wisely, no matter how fascinating Dear Edward.

But to some extent, the essentials have not changed: weddings bring on an onslaught of fashion, rather than thoughtful contemplation about how to pass the time after the Happiest Day of one’s life has passed. Marriage ought to mean more than a trousseau, champagne toasts, and the cover of Hello Magazine.


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 Importance of Correct Punctuation to Marital Happiness: 1898


How It Mixed Up a Wedding.

Jane was going to be married. The contract was all ready to be signed that very evening, and the notary with her fiance were to come down from town by the same train in time for dinner (Jane’s father lived in the country) ; but as the happy groom-elect was never known to be on time in any of his appointments, Jane’s papa had privately sent off a telegraphic dispatch half an hour ago, saying to the young man : “Do not come too late,” so now all was in readiness.

The eventful night had come, the guests for the ceremony of signing the contract had arrived, and all was prepared. The little bride-to-be began to feel nervous as the hour drew near for Jean’s arrival. Wheels on the drive! She flew to the door. The notary alone had come by the six-o’clock train — no Jean. Twenty times at least she had gone to the end of the long terrace to catch a glimpse of his approach, but nothing met her view.

“Bah,” said her father, “do not fidget so, my child; he will come by the eight train ; he is very charming, this lover of yours, but he is always late.”

“Oh, papa!”

“Yes, yes, always behind time.”

At eight o’clock they sent again to the station, but no Jean was there. Dinner was served without him, Jane trying bravely to be cheerful with her guests, but as the hours passed and no lover appeared, she could bear it no longer. She left the room and ran to the end of the terrace, where she could weep in solitude, but a young cousin — a fine-looking fellow — had followed her and said, gently: “You weep, Jane.” Jane sobbed out: “Oh, think what an affront — how can I face all these people!”

“Do you love him so much?”

“No, not so much now; but I was happy in being married; all my schoolmates at the convent are married already.”

Jacques smiled. “Never mind,” said he, “we’ll find another husband for you.”

“You think that so easy? Papa was a long time selecting Jean.”

“But suppose I know of another; eh, little cousin?”

Jane answered joyously: “Ah, then I should quickly give Jean his dismissal; but, oh dear, when I think that all the arrangements are made, that to-morrow the wedding guests will be here — I feel as if I should die with shame, I wish I could.”

“Foolish girl, there is no need for that ; to-morrow you shall be a bride ; there will be no excuses to make to the guests ; the bridegroom of whom I speak will ask nothing better than to marry you at once, for he loves you; he has loved you for years, but did not dare to tell his love, because he believed that you loved the other, and if you marry him to-morrow, he will be the happiest of men.” Struggling with emotion, he ceased for a moment, then said, softly: “Little cousin.”



“Well, I do not regret this Jean. I will not give him another thought. Bring your friend here.”

Jacques took her hand. “Have you not divined that it is I who love, who adore you, who has loved you for years; I know I am not a sentimental fellow like the other, but my heart is yours alone.”

Jane thought for a moment, then said, quietly: “Jacques, I believe it is you I have loved, after all, without knowing it, for as you spoke just now my heart beat with joy. But come, let us go to papa — the notary is here; there is nothing to do but change the name in the contract, and tomorrow we will be married. We will leave directly after the wedding-breakfast, and when the other comes, he will find me gone.”

They laughed together like children, and ran to explain matters to her father, who was not quite so ready to accept the situation.

“Why, you stupid fellow, did you never speak before?”

“Because Jane was rich and I poor.”

“But now….”

“Now I, too, am rich. A distant relative has left me all his fortune of two hundred thousand francs, which enables me to ask the hand of Jane without being regarded as fortune-hunter.”

The father speedily became reconciled to the change of bridegrooms, saying : “All is prepared; the priest will be here to-morrow, and the marriage will take place after all —and when the other comes, how furious he will be! But he will be as he always is — too late.”

The happy couple had just driven away from the house next morning, when a note was brought to the old gentleman, with which was inclosed a telegraphic blank. It was his own dispatch.

He read the letter accompanying it, and rubbed his hands, “No wonder he is furious, poor fellow! I sent him a message thus: ‘Do not come too late,’ and the operator made it read thus: ‘Do not come, too late.’ ”

Adapted for the Argonaut from the French of Marie-Louise Neron, French journalist The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 2 May 1898



Tears for Wedding Pearls: 1912

wedding pearls


Miss Pearl Turner Had Placed Gems in Envelope for Safe Keeping.

Miss Pearl Alice Turner’s happiness in becoming the bride of William Daughtrey Drew yesterday was marred only by the loss of two of her most valued wedding presents, a beautiful crescent sunburst, the gift of the groom, and a brooch, presented to her by her parents.

After the wedding ceremony, Miss Turning placed the jewels in an envelope, which she placed on the table, intending to leave it there for only a moment. During the excitement attendant upon the wedding one of the guests [and rather an officious one!] picked up the envelope and, not being aware of its contents, threw it in the fire. The mistake was discovered a short time later, but when the jewels were rescued from the fire only the gold framework was left.

It was stated yesterday that an effort was to be made to replace the jewels if duplicates could be found. They were valued at about $250. Macon [GA] Telegraph 23 January 1912: p. 9 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Pearls mean tears,” was a common saying and some considered it unlucky for a bride to wear pearls on her wedding day, even one named for the gemstone. One wonders if this couple’s married life, with its inauspicious beginning, bore out that proverb? Pearls are also the birthstone for June. 

Please see a previous post on Queen Victoria’s costly pearl error.