This month's Aether Salon was on the subject of Romance, quite appropriate for February, though perhaps a week after the Ground Zero of romantic expressions, Valentine's Day.*
The speaker was the intrepid Lady Skye, Eva Bellambi, who brought out her romantic streak for a discussion of courting, manners, dancing, the language of fans, romance, marriage, and, ahem, other aspects of inter-gender relationships.
* Proper ladies were not to be too liberal in the display of their charms.
* A young lady was expected to shine in the art of conversation, but not too brightly.
These two items perhaps shone some light into why so many ladies in the Steamlands were spinsters.
* A gentleman should be seen and not smelled - apparently a reference to perfume, not a lack of bathing, though young Master Tepic may have appropriately believed the remark to refer to his unwashed state.
* Romantic love is now seen as a requirement for marriage, yet marriage was still a business deal in many aspects; one must "marry well," and a young woman was expected todo so at or above her station.
Courtship rituals were highly developed and closely monitored, lest the young lovers act in a manner unbecoming a lady and a gentleman. The couple could take walks only with a chaperone present.
Later research on the bedroom habits of married women** suggested that Victorian ladies did enjoy the more, ah, physical aspects of marriage. One lady referred to her "voluptuous spasms," a phrase that caused much blushing, gasping, and "oh my"-ing of the more delicate members of the audience.
** Hardly a representative sample, but still...