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Darcy and the demure Miss Elizabeth Bennett, where ne'er a lusty thought or word between them passed.
But the rituals of Austen's Pride and Prejudice—idealistically drafted in 1796—as shining examples have long since been passed over, and courtship, that delicate art of hooking a prospective mate and playing the fish all the way to a preacher, is all but dead.
Today, love is popularly considered the reason for a marriage, but for the best part of 150 years, colonial marriages among the gentry were arranged in the same way that they are still agreed upon in parts of the world.
The well-heeled were aware that there were scurrilous and ruthless fortune hunters looking to ensnare wealthy heiresses. For some couples there was heartbreak; for others, resignation.
The survival and consolidation of the families' power and prosperity were at stake.
Courtship and marriage were arrangements that would be of mutual benefit to the families. There were instances when young women and men tried to circumvent the order of the day.
Sometimes these affairs ended happily, sometimes not.
For young girls, it was prudent to hide a couple of friends in the closet to secretly witness the pledges and forestall backsliding.
But historians say the modern, mixed-up, anything-goes form of bonding that includes physical intimacy and permanent or temporary cohabitation, with children born in or out of wedlock, is not altogether different from some of the practices of segments of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century populations.