A Brief Letter to Young English Gentlewomen on the Importance of Behaving with Modesty, Virtue and Good Sense Upon Entering Into That Blessed State Called Marriage; or, How to Snag a Baronet
Inspired by: "A Father's Legacy to His Daughters," by John Gregory

By: Lady Emily Susan Fox, first daughter of the honorable Lord Jerry Duane Fox, the first, and Lady Kathryn Mary Enright Fox

 As I prepare to enter into a blessed union of marriage on June 30th, I feel that I am qualified to explain the best manner of entering into such an arrangement to benefit those unfortunate members of our readership who have as yet failed to secure themselves of a husband.  In John Gregory's famous conduct book , "A Father's Legacy to His Daughters", Mr. Gregory warns us that "Indeed, without an unusual share of natural sensibility, and very peculiar good fortune, a woman in this country has very little probability of  marrying for love" 45.  If you have read our article on the purposes of marriage [link] and have taken our helpful quiz [link] you can see that this is often the case. While indeed every marriage and courtship is unique, I would like to share my journey down the road to marriage to show you one way to secure for yourself a suitable husband.  I do not claim to provide a model for finding great love and passion, but rather how to find a suitable man whom you can grow to be attached to.

  Two summers ago, I made an extended visit to my cousins in the countryside, at Redgrave Hall in Sussex. A young baronet by the name of Adrian Cook was also visiting at this time, as he was a great friend and school fellow of my cousin James, who attended Oxford. I was immediately affected by the air, manners, andRedgrave Hall person of Mr. Cook, but made sure to conceal my interest, as that would have "done damage to both [my] pride and modesty," as Mr. Gregory has warned us 46. In conversation, I made a point of never appearing to be more learned than Mr. Cook. My modesty and good sense were rewarded, as I began to notice that Mr. Cook was beginning to show signs of a forming attachment to myself.  Ladies, you may ask: What are these signs? I will tell you. Mr. Cook was unfailingly polite, and in fact, his delicate manners sometimes became tiresome.  His first priority at all times was my comfort and happiness. He also refrained from outwardly shewing any vulgar signs of attachment, such as trying to be in a room alone with me, or staring at me at inappropriate times and places.  An absence of such behavior is often a sure sign of attachment. It means that the suitor is trying to prove his good manners and his concern for your comfort and reputation. After I became more sure of Mr. Cook's feelings, I began to purposely display some of my womanly talents that men of his station in life often find attractive in a potential wife. I played my harpsichord and sang many a pretty tune for Mr. Cook, and the rest of the company.  We engaged in many lively conversations about the weather, astronomy, and other interesting topics of general appeal. I also painted a very like portrait of my Aunt, which Mr. Cook much admired, and in fact, I often found him staring at this portrait as if examining a work of great art.

    At the end of the summer, Mr. Cook made his feelings and intentions known to me in a very properly worded and prettily written letter.  I did not long consider my answer, as I knew that such a union would secure my fortune and rank in society, as well as provide me with an agreeable companion.  I knew that even though Mr. Cook's feelings for me were perhaps a bit stronger than mine for him, I would grow to form a stronger attachment, since my gratitude for his kind proposal was very great 47.  We followed the proper procedure, applying to both of our parents for their approval of the marriage. As the rank and fortune of Mr. Cook and I were so well matched, neither family was averse to the match, but my family only wished that I waited until I turned twenty-one.  The rest, ladies, as they say, is history.

Ladies, I hope that my experience has been able to teach you some of the behaviors which are so essential in securing a spouse.

  1. Do not make your heart known too soon
  2. Be able to recognize the behavior of suitors
  3. Do not pretend to be more knowledgeable than the potential suitor
  4. In a subtle way, make your womanly accomplishments and arts known to the potential mate
  5. Recognize that your feelings about that certain man are only apt to grow stronger
  6. Do not attempt to marry clandestinely, but apply to your parents for their approval.

  I wish you the best of luck!

This site was completed December 08, 2000, at the University of Michigan.

Any Questions? E-mail: englishbride@umich.edu

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