Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Virtuous Maiden, Who Can Find?

One of our favorite literary characters that demonstrates virtuous girlhood is Patience Heatherstone in The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat, first published in 1847.

Here's our favorite excerpt from a conversation between Patience and Edward, a young man who is in love with her. They have just had a small dispute between them.

"It is I who am in fault, Patience," replied Edward. "I have been dreaming for a long while, pleased with my dreams, and forgetting that they were dreams, and not likely to be realized. I must now speak plainly. I love you, Patience - love you so much that to part from you would be misery; to know that my love was rejected, as bitter as death. That is the truth, and I can conceal it no longer. Now I admit you have a right to be angry."

"I see no cause for anger, Edward, " replied Patience. "I have not thought of you but as a friend and benefactor; it would have been wrong to have done otherwise. I am but a young person, and must be guided by my father. I would not offend him by disobedience. I thank you for your good opinion of me, and yet I wish you had not said what you have. "

Imagine a young girl of today saying this to a young man who had just declared his ardent love for her. Then imagine this young man actually having his conscience pricked about declaring his love to this young maiden without speaking to her father first. This happens a few sentences on into the story:

"Here comes my father, Edward," said Patience.

(Edward) "Surely I have done wrong, for I feel afraid to meet him."

It is comforting to know that the seemingly radical stand we are taking in the approach of how we plan to give our daughters in marriage is not historically radical at all, but at one time was quite the normal procedure. This idea of daughters belonging to their fathers is to be found in quite a bit of old literature, including the Bible. Feminists will gnash their teeth at the idea, of course, but when we consider where their ideas have led us, we do not give their concerns any merit.

It is sad to realize how foreign these ideas have become to modern people. We plan to do our part in reintroducing these ideas to our culture. The divorce rate being what it is, we can not help think that it only makes sense to consider other alternatives, especially alternatives from times past when the state of marriage was not in such jeopardy.

For My people have forgotten Me,
They burn incense to worthlessness
And they have stumbled from their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk on bypaths,
Not on a highway...
Jeremiah 18:15

2 comments:

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

This a beautiful post! Thanks!

MamaLion said...

Thank *you*! I suspect you have quite a houseful of such maidens! :)