Saturday, June 20, 2009
These two ads are also among the first that I found, right around the same time as Bertram's. And they're pretty similar to his, although not quite so long.
A gentleman of culture and refinement, is desirous (for the romance of the affair,) of corresponding with a lady who can appreciate a loving disposition and luxuriant home. Lack of money no objection whatsoever, as only a warm, unfettered heart is asked for one as good in return. Address G.D.E., Mail Station D. New-York
Matrimonial. - The world is so full of poetry, beauty, and glory, and I have no one to share it with me; no one to read with me my Shakespeare and Milton, to enjoy with me nature, art, letters, society; I seek, therefore, my other and better half, my complement and peer, equal, though not like; myself a New-Englander by birth, of liberal culture and pursuits, of about 35 years of age, a gentleman and a Christian in my aspirations. Ladies so minded will please address Mr. CHRISTOPHER LEIGHTON, Box No. 144 Times Office.
Aw. How can you not love these guys? If I lived back then, I definitely, definitely might have responded to one of these. I've noticed I've got a lot of cynics in the crowd, so I wonder - do you think they were sincere? I do. I like how G.D.E. puts that little parenthesis in: "for the romance of the affair." So, he thinks that matrimonial ads are romantic? Or that a correspondence would be? I don't know, but I think it's charming.
These are so entertaining to me because I do think they are in dead earnest, but they are so completely different from what we'd expect a man to write in an ad today. They say a lot about values, and what constituted masculinity. Were men being romantic here because they couldn't elsewhere? Or did Christopher really talk like that? I wonder what he was like - 35 years old was middle-aged back then; I can't imagine he was wandering around town spouting off about Shakespeare and Milton and poetry without getting some crazy looks. Maybe this was a way for him to meet his ideal woman, since everyone had to be so polite and staid in high society?
I have another installment of the Sadda and Lalla Rang variety, and with so many newcomers I think I ought to point you back to the beginning series. See this entry from June 9 for an explanation of what they're all about. This one is from Christmas day; it reads "A.- Sadda and Lalla Rang are observed at every fashionable Christmas reception. Wonderful how they are multiplying themselves." (The "A" at the beginning is to get the ad at the top of the column, since they were published in alphabetical order.)
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2009 Pam Epstein