Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “Dorothy: a Country Story.” II. Country Kisses

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Arthur Joseph Munby b. 1828

From “Dorothy: a Country Story.” II. Country Kisses

CURIOUS, the ways of these folk of humble and hardly condition:

Kisses, amongst ourselves, bless me, how much they imply!

Ere you can come to a kiss, you must scale the whole gamut of courtship—

Introduction first; pretty attentions and words;

Tentative looks; and at length, perhaps the touch of a finger;

Then the confession; and then (if she allow it) the kiss.

So that a kiss comes last—’t is the crown and seal of the whole thing;

Passion avow’d by you, fondly accepted by her.

But in our Dorothy’s class, a kiss only marks the beginning:

Comes me a light-hearted swain, thinking of nothing at all;

Flings his fustian sleeve round the ample waist of the maiden;

Kisses her cheek, and she—laughingly thrusts him away.

Why, ’t is a matter of course; every good-looking damsel expects it;

’T is but the homage, she feels, paid to her beauty by men:

So that, at Kiss-in-the-Ring—an innocent game and a good one—

Strangers in plenty may kiss: nay, she pursues, in her turn.