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For the romance of the affair

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


Ms Avery June 20, 2009 at 7:57 AM  

I think I'm in love with Christopher. The opening of his ad is so very sad. I hope he found someone.

Pam June 20, 2009 at 11:03 AM  

Right? I'm kind of in love with him too. Glad you're enjoying the blog!

Anonymous June 20, 2009 at 12:28 PM  

Christopher's ad is amazing. Possibly my favorite so far (not in the least because there is ZERO mention of money ;) ).

Matt June 20, 2009 at 2:28 PM  

The funny thing is thate there's so much freedom of expression in these two ads. I'm fascinated that finding someone to read poetry with or finsing romance in a correspondence CAN be sought after as romantic.

How many guys today would say "I just want to find someone to read poetry with?" How many guys today wish they COULD say that?

There's something powerfully ironic in that, even in the presumably far more restrictive standards of the time, there actually seems to be a greater range of masculine-acceptable relationship models...

Pam June 20, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

@ yogagrrl - yeah, Christopher is pretty awesome. I have to agree - one of my favorite ads too.

@ Matt - do you think that there was a greater range of freedom of expression? I think that part of what made these ads interesting is that they seem to provide a space to be open without censure.

Michael Farr June 25, 2009 at 8:11 PM  

Indeed! What modern man of passion doesn't yearn to express himself in such words? We make fun of the socially and morally restricted Victorians but I wonder, when we achieved the freedom to be vulgar, did we lose the space to be sublime?


Candace June 26, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

Oh! I was born 200 years too late...or rather, Christopher was born 200 years too early.

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