Sage Advice For Hinterland Suitors

To attain the status of married bliss on the frontier it was essential, said BA,  for a young man to observe a few formalities. This young man, who simply called himself BA wrote in the December, 1859 issue of The Cape Monthly Magazine “Courtship must be conducted during a series of amorous visits. For these a good horse is essential. It must be brushed, burnished and gleaming. It must also sport a saddle and bridle of the finest shining leather. A quality saddle cloth, preferably red or blue, is essential and it should be set off with fringes and tassels.  The idea is to impress all who see him along the road, as well as his intended.

“Once he reaches her home it matters little what he says to his adored. In fact, he need not speak at all. It seems the essence of a farmer’s love resides in the act of sitting silently in the “voorhuis,” staring silently at his own huge ‘veldschoens’.  Then, by degrees, if the atmosphere warms,  he may gradually, with a doleful smile, sidle his chair towards hers while she blushes deeply at his every move . This whole pantomime takes place after the day’s work is finished, so it is all done by the light of a short, stubby candle, which he brings along with him in his pocket. While the candle spits and splutters he may “visit,”  but when it dies, the visit must end. So, the trick is to court mother and father and tickle them into consent.  Oddly these courtships always seem to work out quite amicably and as intended.”

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