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Thursday, May 28, 2009

This one kills me. Even Bertram would have been impressed. I mean, the dude is rhyming! Not very well, to be sure, but still! You should be able to read it if you click on it, but I've written it out below:

A Valentine - Ladies fair, improve the chances this year affords you for advances. I fain would wed ere leap year's close; who'll be the first one to propose? The one I would wed must be wealthy and beautiful, accomplished, affectionate, virtuous, and dutiful. But the beauty that can lure me, and the wealth that can secure me, I would find in heart and mind. The accomplishments majestic, must be useful and domestic. I ask not, offer not silver and gold; a wife I'll not purchase, nor will I be sold. But I have a hand to labor, and I have a heart to live. Lady, wouldst thou win my favor, a true helpmeet thou must prove. Please address A Bashful Man, box 180 Herald office.

Word. I'm sold.

I loves how he signs himself "A Bashful Man"; given the tone of this ad, I find that hard to believe. I actually think he probably had a pretty good sense of humor - the tone is a little cocky and playful, and I like it. I wonder what women at the time would have thought of this (assuming women were reading these ads; that's hard to address and certainly not right now); I mean, he does have quite an impressive list of qualifications his lady love must have ("dutiful" really strikes me). But can you imagine the responses he might have received from young ladies of equally romantic dispositions? Do you think they wrote back in rhyme? Because that? Would be hilarious.

Now, despite the two matrimonials I've posted so far, the majority weren't like this flowery. I will post more typical ones as we go along, but even those whose language is somewhat more straightforward can often betray the same kind of emotion and are often quite poignant. But I suspect this "Bashful Man," at least, probably did all right for himself, whether through this ad or elsewhere. I'll start giving more variety as I go on.

As an aside, if you ever see ads you'd like to know more about, or wonder if there are types of ads I haven't shown, please ask! I've got thousands of these tucked away; odds are I can oblige.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Unknown May 28, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

I think it's "I fain would wed ere leap year's close" and "The accomplishments majestic, must be useful and domestic".

Pam May 28, 2009 at 10:34 AM  

Aha! I think you're right. Thx.

Ryksuga May 28, 2009 at 8:34 PM  

"Bashful Man" was a stud. Just ask him...

I've been wondering if there were responses to these, and if so, what were they like? Were they the 19th Century version of Drunk College Students writing to "Ask Billy Graham" (something I've done)? Or were they legit? I hope that Bashful here got a response. She would have been awesome

Pam May 28, 2009 at 9:13 PM  

Ryksuga, that's a great question and unfortunately almost impossible to answer. I'm sure people did respond, but their letters probably disappeared a long, long time ago. I do have a smattering of letters from women, however, and they all seem to be sincere. I think there were definitely people who replied more for the fun of it, but I don't have much proof of that (other than anecdotal). But I'll find one or two good ones and post them sometime in the next week.

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