It was somewhere in the '70's that the fiend gossip came into New York society to stay. The first newspaper outburst that I remember was after the Beecher trial, which was a terrible beginning. Then the papers began with attacks upon women. There were stories of kleptomaniacs, and of a young and fashionable man who had stolen his cousin's ring at a dinner-party, etc., etc. None of this sort of story was allowed at the dinner of Mrs. Astor, Mrs. Belmont, or Mrs. Fish. I can imagine the fine face of the latter freezing into marble had any one opened such a door of Bluebeard's closet in her stately presence.
M. E. W. Sherwood (1826–1903), U.S. socialite, traveller, and author. An Epistle to Posterity, ch. 11 (1897).
The three ladies mentioned were eminent society hostesses in New York City in the 1870s. In 1875, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), who was a distinguished public speaker and Congregational minister, was sued by journalist Theodore Tilton (1835-1907) for committing adultery with his wife; the Tiltons had been Beecher's parishioners. The jury was unable to reach a verdict. (Beecher was the brother of Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, both of whom are quoted in this book.).