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All I can say is...wow

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I've been putting off dealing with this ad for ages for the obvious reason that it is really, really long and really, really hard to read. But I decided it's time, for no other reason than that I've never actually read the whole thing through myself (too exhausting). So, here you go; I have painstakingly written out the text for you. Unfortunately it looks like the page was folded over about halfway through and part of the ad is overlapped with another, so some of this is impossible to read (to say the least), so I'm doing the best I can. See here:

A young man, in the pride, strength, and bloom of early manhood, remarkably dignified, noble and prepossessing in personal appearance - so his friends say - who has travelled [sic] much, and seen very much of the world and mankind; is talented and possesses many accomplishments, who hopes to be in possession of an interest in an estate (left him by a relative), which will enable him to live in independence, is desirous of forming an acquaintance - with a view of early marriage - with a young, healthy, handsome, and, at least, moderately accomplished young lady, amiable, and capable of loving with the strength and undivided heart of a true woman, and who has a fortune in her own right capable of at least supporting her in independence during life, should she not marry, as the advertiser is determined not to marry, knowingly, any young lady who marries simply for a home and to be supported. This communication is written in sincerity - and truth, and any young lady possessing the above qualifications aiming to form a matrimonial engagement, for sincere and enduring love and affection, and [...] pose of being supported, may answer this [advertisement] stating her circumstances to [...] which last must be of undoubted respectability [none] need reply to this but such as above [described. A carte de] viste would be highly prized, and those [sending one would] be more likely to receive attention than [others. It is] proper to state that the advertiser is a [member of one of the] most respectable and influential families [and] can refer to and show testimonials from [those of the great]est wealth, respectability, and influence in this State, as well as from other parts of the United States [as well as] from foreign lands. Please address, stating real name, address, and when and where an interview may be had, &c., all of which will be considered and kept sacredly confidential, for ten days, Sincerity, box 219 Herald office, N.Y.


Whew! Everything in brackets are either words I can't quite make out and/or my best guesses of what the cut-off parts say.

People, I'm too worn out from trying to make that out to give much commentary. I would just like to note that that entire ad is just five sentences (which is actually less than Bertram's, so I guess kudos to him for that). Seriously, though, does this seem pretty repetitive and rambly to you? Let me remind you that you pay either by the word or letter for these ads (haven't been able to figure that out yet), and one way or another this must have been VERY expensive to print. Getting through this ad, even if it was completely legible, is quite a feat, and any woman who actually made it to the end must have had many accomplishments indeed!

But my two favorite moments are when he describes himself as "remarkably" dignified, and when he says he's all good looking with the aside thrown in that - "so my friends say -" Ha! How modest!

Believe it or not, there's more to say about this ad...but I'll deal with that tomorrow.


Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

8 comments:

Marci June 17, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

...for 10 days
What happens after 10 days? All claims of confidentiality are cast aside?

I don't think he got many responses. Besides the annoyingness of demanding a real name and address, the phrase "determined not marry" would have stood out by itself and turned many people off before they realized that it was a type of woman he was determined not to marry, not that he, himself, was determined not to marry.

the_lady_lily June 17, 2009 at 11:12 AM  

Looking at your brackets - I think [blush] is 'bloom', but that's the only thing I can add!

Matt June 17, 2009 at 11:31 AM  

I think you're right, that the tortured, circuitous prose must mean something, since he's paying for the extra verbiage. It indicates a kind of desperation and, I think, that he's trying to over-explain something. What leaps to mind is something about his appearance, since he spends so much time on that.

Is he disabled -- in war? -- or disfigured in some way? His friends telling him that he is attractive at one deflects his own conceit, but I think it also might leave room for him to claim to be "prepossessing in personal appearance" even with noticeable devoations from conventional beauty.

Pam June 17, 2009 at 12:03 PM  

@Marci - tune in tomorrow for a follow up about the responses (or lack thereof). It was actually pretty common for people to request letters only within a specific time frame, so that's not as strange as it may seem. Also, I totally agree with you that the "determined not marry" would throw people off - I was confused for a moment myself.

@Liz - you're awesome. I knew "blush" wasn't right but couldn't figure out what else it could be. Changing it now.

@Matt - you might be right, but making the claim about being attractive (so my friends say) isn't that uncommon. It's just the way he put it; most people wouldn't put it inside hyphens like that, which makes it sound, as you say, like he's deflecting conceit. Most are more along the lines of, "my friends tell me I'm attractive." Funny how little things like that seem to make such a difference in the way I interpret them!

But my post tomorrow will turn the whole thing on its head. Stay tuned!!

Liz June 19, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

This is exactly like the guys who say, "I'm such a catch, those bitches are only after my money, why can't I find a nice girl?"

With this type of guy, we usually find some major misperceptions about his own attractiveness, and, often, poor hygeine as well.

In fact, the whole ad screams, "Mama's boy." (Nothing against mothers, just entitled wimps).

Pam June 19, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

@Liz - I wouldn't have gone with Mama's boy, myself, but I can see that! Definitely probably thinks more highly of himself than he deserves though.

Tanja June 21, 2009 at 2:03 PM  

Wow! My 2 cents: "travelled" isn't wrong, it's how it was written back in the day, and still is, in England...

Pam June 22, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

@Tanja - It's not about whether or not THEY were spelling it wrong, but to make sure people know I'M not. Thanks though! Hope you're enjoying the blog!

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