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I, Matchmaker

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I know it is futile to try and hook up people who've been dead for over 100 years, but here is another couple I'd love to put together. Their ads were only about two months apart, so you never know - maybe these two did meet!

Here is the text of both:

An accomplished young lady, eighteen years of age, of prepossessing appearance, having become heartily sick of "fashionable society," wishes to open a correspondence with a gentleman between 20 and 25 years of age, with a view to matrimony. One who has some faults, with frankness enough to own them, may address Minnie, Godfrey's Union square Post office.

A young gentleman, 25 years of age, with a limited number of female acquaintances, takes this method of procuring a wife. He is considered good looking, of a loving nature and amiable disposition. Desires a young lady between the ages of 16 and 23. Good looks not so essential as a kind and true heart. Address, in full confidence, HOWARD, Box. No. 119, Times office.

Granted, Howard seems more focused on affection than Minnie, but I think he'd like her forthrightness. More importantly, she's tired of society and he's apparently not much in it, given his "limited number of female acquaintances." Neither of them seems to care for money or good looks in their partner, two things that are rare - even today!

As is my habit, I can't help wondering about the circumstances around these two. How could an 18-year-old girl be tired of "fashionable society"? She probably only just entered it a year or so ago! What happened? Back-stabbing friends? Flirtatious but shallow young men?

And as for Howard, my heart goes out to him, because he seems terribly lonely. This is the same issue Alfred, of yesterday's post, mentioned. Part of my dissertation (the chapter I'm struggling through right now, should you care) is all about how matrimonial advertisements came about in part because city dwellers had few opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex (need I mention my dear friend Bertram again?). So ads like these back that up very well. Nice for me, sorta depressing for them.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


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