Eloping in the 19th Century

Yes, Amy, I'm here.
Just writing at the moment, cause that's like, what I do.

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I've been worried about you and all the, ahem, wonderful decisions you've been making in the 19th century. Let me just grab a coffee before you upset me...

Okay. Last I heard you were heading back to town to get to the house above the store where Charlotte the maid (who was banished from the awesome house I put you in) fled to. 

Am I right so far? Is this your new home now, too? Was Charlotte thrilled to see you?

What? What's happened?

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George came to get Charlotte!!! And the owner of this place said they eloped! I can't even get in touch with her. When the f*** are they gonna invent the phone?

Seriously WTF?

Hmmm, looks like you've gotten yourself into a bit of a pickle. All I can suggest at this point is to settle in for the night. Is the owner of the house willing to let you stay there until you figure out what to do?

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Yeah, as long as I work in the store. They gave me a stupid outfit to wear and told me to wear my hair in a stupid braided ponytail. 

Not to say, "I told you so", but I actually did tell you not to make the rash decision of leaving the (totally awesome) house I put you in. I have no idea how you're going to locate Charlotte because you're absolutely right - no phones, no email, no technology, no way to reach her.

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Normally in 1868 when you currently (and resentfully) live, marriage brings together friends, family and the community where festivities can go on for days. But perhaps because of a new found rebellious temperament beginning to form, running off to get married is becoming increasingly heard of.

As a matter of fact, "Life" magazine, which will begin circulating in 1883, will state in 1884 that an "elopement epidemic" ... has played havoc with so many hearts and homes."

In Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, we can see elopement took place even then, as one of the five sisters, Lydia Bennet, elopes with officer George Wickham and risks her entire reputation.

And what would propel our ancestors to elope? Well, perhaps money was an issue, or rather the lack of money for such a lavish affair. But more often than not, the situation would be similar to Charlotte's - eloping is the only answer when one's partner is deemed not acceptable or has been shunned by the community.

The word elope literally means to run away and not come back to the original place. But to elope has over time come to mean a marriage that has been conducted in impatience, without family engagement or knowledge.