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On Some Gilded Misalliances
by [?]

A dear old American lady, who lived the greater part of her life in Rome, and received every body worth knowing in her spacious drawing-rooms, far up in the dim vastnesses of a Roman palace, used to say that she had only known one really happy marriage made by an American girl abroad.

In those days, being young and innocent, I considered that remark cynical, and in my heart thought nothing could be more romantic and charming than for a fair compatriot to assume an historic title and retire to her husband’s estates, and rule smilingly over him and a devoted tenantry, as in the last act of a comic opera, when a rose-colored light is burning and the orchestra plays the last brilliant chords of a wedding march.

There seemed to my perverted sense a certain poetic justice about the fact that money, gained honestly but prosaically, in groceries or gas, should go to regild an ancient blazon or prop up the crumbling walls of some stately palace abroad.

Many thoughtful years and many cruel realities have taught me that my gracious hostess of the “seventies” was right, and that marriage under these conditions is apt to be much more like the comic opera after the curtain has been rung down, when the lights are out, the applauding public gone home, and the weary actors brought slowly back to the present and the positive, are wondering how they are to pay their rent or dodge the warrant in ambush around the corner.

International marriages usually come about from a deficient knowledge of the world. The father becomes rich, the family travel abroad, some mutual friend (often from purely interested motives) produces a suitor for the hand of the daughter, in the shape of a “prince” with a title that makes the whole simple American family quiver with delight.

After a few visits the suitor declares himself; the girl is flattered, the father loses his head, seeing visions of his loved daughter hob-nobbing with royalty, and (intoxicating thought!) snubbing the “swells” at home who had shown reluctance to recognize him and his family.

It is next to impossible for him to get any reliable information about his future son-in-law in a country where, as an American, he has few social relations, belongs to no club, and whose idiom is a sealed book to him. Every circumstance conspires to keep the flaws on the article for sale out of sight and place the suitor in an advantageous light. Several weeks’ “courting” follows, paterfamilias agrees to part with a handsome share of his earnings, and a marriage is “arranged.”

In the case where the girl has retained some of her self-respect the suitor is made to come to her country for the ceremony. And, that the contrast between European ways and our simple habits may not be too striking, an establishment is hastily got together, with hired liveries and new-bought carriages, as in a recent case in this state. The sensational papers write up this “international union,” and publish “faked” portraits of the bride and her noble spouse. The sovereign of the groom’s country (enchanted that some more American money is to be imported into his land) sends an economical present and an autograph letter. The act ends. Limelight and slow music!

In a few years rumors of dissent and trouble float vaguely back to the girl’s family. Finally, either a great scandal occurs, and there is one dishonored home the more in the world, or an expatriated woman, thousands of miles from the friends and relatives who might be of some comfort to her, makes up her mind to accept “anything” for the sake of her children, and attempts to build up some sort of an existence out of the remains of her lost illusions, and the father wakes up from his dream to realize that his wealth has only served to ruin what he loved best in all the world.