My inclinations lean not your way

Following my post on the ideal exchange for a courting couple, I’ve had quite a few requests for further pearls of wisdom from the same author. So here is more advice on 17th century etiquette. The first is an entertaining example of a letter from an unwanted suitor, and the proper form of reply for a lady of good character.  The second demonstrates how best to handle the sudden arrival of a gentleman during a gathering of respectable ladies.

Love protested, with its Repulse

Madam,

It hath pleased Heaven you should have the sole command of my affections, with which I am joyfully content and stand disposed to obey you in every thing, when you shall be pleased to count me worthy of your service. Enjoying you I must account my self the happiest man in the world; but being deprived of you I shall not only live, but die miserably; either then reward him who adores you, or chastise him who idolizeth you. Yet must I confess all my good to proceed from you, and that all the evil I can endure must come from your disdain; however hoping that you will commiserate my languishing condition, I shall greedily subscribe my self,

Entirely Yours, &c.

The Answer

Sir,

If it hath pleas’d Heaven you should love me, you cannot blame me though you suffer by it; should I except the tenders of affection from all such amorous pretenders, I might be married to a whole Troop, and make my self a legal Prostitute. My inclinations lean not your way; wherefore give me leave to tell you, that you would do better to bestow your affections on some Lady who hath more need of a Servant than I have. And if you think your affection ought not to go unrewarded, receive the perswasion which I give you, never to trouble me more, lest you run a worse hazzard by persevering in your intentions. Be advised by her who is

Your faithful Monitor and humble Servant, &c.

*

A Gentleman accidentally happening into a room where a Company of Ladies are well known to him.

Gentleman
Your pardon, Ladies; let not my coming interrupt your Discourse, but rather give me the freedom that I may participate in the satisfaction.

Ladies
Our discourse is of no great concernment; we can take some other time to continue it, that we may now give way to yours, which we doubt not will prove every whit if not more agreeable.

Gentleman
My invention, Ladies, cannot want a subject for Discourse, where the company so overflows with wit and ingenuity; but my tongue will want expressions to answer your Critical expectations.

Ladies
Sir, we acknowledge no such thing in our selves, and therefore let not that, we pray, be the subject of your eloquence lest we suspect you intend to laugh at us.

Gentleman
Ladies, you must suffer me, not withstanding all this, that though modesty interdicts you the acknowledging a truth, yet the respect I bear to Ladies, commands me not only to acknowledge it, but also to divulge and maintain it.

Ladies
We confess, Sir, the frailty and weakness of our Sex requires some support; and for my own part I cannot look upon any person so worthy as your self to be our Champion.

Gentleman
What power I have to vindicate your person, is derivative from your virtues; and were I so feeble that the supporters of my body were no longer able to support that burthen; yet one propitious glance of any of your eyes would dart heat and vigor through my whole body, and so my feet would be enabled to run in your service.

Ladies
Have a care, Sir, you do not strain your invention above the reach of an Hyperbole; but lower your fancy to the meanness of our capacity; if you cannot perform it at present we will give you time.

Gentleman
Ladies, I am fearful my company may be troublesome, or interrupt you from more agreeable conversation, wherefore your Servant, Ladies. [Exits, presumably].

 

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2 Comments

  • November 19, 2010 - 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. Although her footman may well have used a sharpened candlestick or a sawn-off blunderbuss.

  • November 19, 2010 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I am most unfamiliar with 17th century Englishe, does “lest you run a worse hazzard by persevering in your intentions” actually mean “my footman will bust your kneecap with a crowbar and no mistake, blood”?

  • Comments are closed.

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