Saturday, February 16, 2013

"When a lady goes with a gentleman...."

When Ima began to go out with young men, her father was ready with advice. He wrote to her from New York in February 1900:
         When a lady goes with a gentleman she is safe in fact and also against suspicion and criticism. A gentleman is known by his general reputation in the community where he lives or by his acts or language when he is a girl’s escort. If his reputation is bad the lady who permits him to accompany her must share it with him. If his reputation is good, yet his language or conduct is bad while an escort or at other times, the woman who finds this out must take notice and avoid his attentions in the future. While alone a couple must act and talk with more circumspection than while in the presence of others. – I do not feel that it is at all necessary to say this much to you, for I have all along known you to be sensible, prudent, and well-poised. It cannot be amiss however to present these general suggestions for your own reflection in the light of the well known axiom that a woman’s character is her capital. When it is bad she is poor indeed. Yours is a fine one. I know you will always prudently guard it and from that source draw many of the genuine pleasures of life.
         A few years later, one of Ima’s suitors wrote her a letter, remminiscing the good times they had in Austin in their university days--especially sitting on the high stone steps of St. Mary’s Seminary in the “richest, mellowest moonlight,” when he and Ima “talked and talked of things and things. . . .”
         Ima may not have told her father everything.

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