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It was a night of yes.
Yes to the White House masquerade. Yes to a private tour by President John Tyler himself. Yes to hearing the soft strings and lull of party conversation as they ventured further into the candlelit corridors.
It was a night of yes for Julia Gardiner until it wasn’t at all.
“No!” She couldn’t possibly have heard him right. President Tyler shouldn’t have— wouldn’t have asked for her hand in marriage. “No.”
A forceful shake of her head caused the tassel of her hat to slap him. “No.”
Victorians engaged in long distance relationships—especially when both parties were present in the same room. The hustle and bustle of courtship etiquette was truly more hampering than a crinoline!
Thankfully, love letters preserved a myriad romances like Mark Twain’s. . .
Perhaps if there is one Victorian love story that comes to mind, it is that of its namesake.
Young Victoria truly succeeded in ruling her people once Prince Albert became her consort. With his partnership, Victoria came to trust her instincts over the flawed advice from Lord Melbourne. Together, the royal couple held each other’s hearts, and their English subjects’.
Testimonies, letters, and the monarch’s diary document their affection from courtship to Albert’s death. But they weren’t the only Victorians to marry happily.
Even the queen herself is speculated to have found love again.
Tighter. . . Tighter. . . Tighter still.
Maidservants secured Empress Sisi (Elisabeth of Austria) into her corset. Often the hour stretched long before they’d constricted the royal’s waist to a mere 16 inches. Once cinched, she’d then take to her private gym, one of the first. She practiced her disciplines there on the balance beam and mats. Thus, her day continued.
Sisi’s health fixation expanded to mastering activities such as fencing and horsemanship. During intermissions when her body could not permit such extreme regiments, she abided in walks, sometimes all day and in spite of weather.
An icon in part to her her station and illustrious beauty, the empress postured a fever of exercise amongst Victorians—especially court ladies. Be it any wonder when imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?