the sake of her husband's continuing success, the new wife had to attend
parties, bazaars, speech making functions and At Homes. These were
all places in which valuable contacts could be made and friendships created.
cannot help but feel sympathy for the young bride, forced to stifle her
yawns, eat large, stodgy meals and listen, with every evidence of attentiveness,
to political conversations which she was not expected to understand.
No matter how much she may dislike her social superiors, their interest
was vital. And so she must know who was who and who was not, what
was done and what was not done, and all according to the most rigid rules.
women did enjoy this kind of life however, and found a certain fulfillment
from being one of the arbiters of fashion. A successful hostess could
have ambitions of presiding over a salon attended by the rich and influential,
with writers and artists allowed to be received as "entertainment".
She could create society by her choice of who was acceptable to be patronised
and who was not. Women such as Lady Castlereagh and Lady Jersey ruled
society and governed it strictly according to their own tastes.
doting Mamma dreamt of this kind of success for her daughters and helped
to attain it by the acquaintances she formed during her own young bride-hood.
The power of a Victorian Lady was quiet and subtle, but no less powerful
for all that. Even kings and queens had to bow to the rules and the
rules were made, and enforced, by women.
well-born Victorian Lady was, in effect, a social policewoman. A
powerful ally of her husband and every sensible man knew it and accepted