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There are frequent gatherings in restaurants, bars, churches, museums or country walks.
Those who reach the altar seem to have stumbled on it by accident." It may be that the traditional route to conjugal correctness—chaste courtship, formal engagement, church wedding, consummation, and parenthood, in that order—is less traveled.Defying parental prohibitions, youths occasionally caught the quickest ride to their connubial destination.At left, a coach waits for a pair leaving by the back fence in John Collet's The Elopement, from ca. Starting a family at times leapfrogged a wedding—baby-to-be making a party of three. The anxiety is quickened by the feeling that society has been on the road to ruin since maybe Miles Standish's day and that the prospects of their offspring walking the path to the altar with a nice young man or sweet young woman have greatly diminished since John Alden and Priscilla Mullins made the trip.Darcy and the demure Miss Elizabeth Bennett, where ne'er a lusty thought or word between them passed.But the rituals of Austen's Pride and Prejudice—idealistically drafted in 1796—as shining examples have long since been passed over, and courtship, that delicate art of hooking a prospective mate and playing the fish all the way to a preacher, is all but dead.