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What a charmer

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not quite as romantic as Christopher or Bertram, but I like his sense of humor.

This ad reads:

A New Yorker, lively, young and rich, (does anybody say he is good looking?) desires to form the acquaintance of some young lady with a view to matrimony, who has beauty, wit and love enough to arouse him from his present dulness, occasioned for want of "someone to love in this wide world of sorrow." How happy could he be if he could find one of the opposite sex, who would combine her life with his, to cause,
Two souls with but a single thought,
Two hearts to beat as one.
Carte de vistes exchanged. Address Harry Vernon, New York Post office

So cute! Harry! Pick me! I like that he wants to meet a woman of wit - that says a lot in my book, being full of wit myself. Also, the self-deprecating "does anyone say he is good looking?" makes me think he must be quite an amusing guy to be around.

Now, the other nice thing for me is the poetry. I couldn't find a reference anywhere with the quote "someone to love in this wide world of sorrow," but the two lines at the end are real. They're from a play called "Der Sohn der Wildnes," by an Austrian poet and playwright named Friedrich Halm, which was published in 1843. This is great, because I tend to take all these advertisers at face value, and when they say they're refined and "of high social standing" I tend to believe them - but of course there were all sorts of people who lied about their age, appearance, financial status, class, employment, etc, etc, etc. But here is a case where it's a little safer to assume this guy probably was who he claimed to be (also because he didn't ask for a wealthy wife, always a good sign). Whether or not this play was available yet in English I don't know, but either way, most likely, someone who wasn't part of the middle class would not have been familiar with this play, in English or German, which leads me to believe that Harry was who he claimed to be. Am I speculating? Of course. And I'd hardly base my dissertation conclusions on this. But it's a clue, and I'll take what I can get.

Have a great weekend!

ETA: Lady Audley amazingly went and did a little unsolicited research and found a link that is almost certainly the source for "someone to love..." It's here, for anyone who is interested. Thank you!

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Unknown July 24, 2009 at 9:31 AM  

Dull question - that formatting at the end looks unusual to me (having the poetry set out as actual indented lines). I don't remember seeing that before - is it common? Probably cost extra if you specified you wanted that to the typesetter...

Pam July 24, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

I have seen it before, but it is pretty rare, and I suspect it would have cost more too.

It's weird; although I haven't dug into this and researched it TOO much, I have simply not been able to find the cost of printing classified ads. I think because you had to go to the office of the paper yourself and pay in person, so they'd just tell you the fee at the time? I can't think of any other reason.

TW July 24, 2009 at 12:32 PM  

The "with a view to matrimony" comment made me laugh. :)

Lady Audley July 25, 2009 at 11:02 AM  

This looks like a probably source for the "wide world of sorrow" bit:,+Publisher,+38+++60+Chatham+Street,+N++Y[n++d+]))

Pam July 25, 2009 at 1:49 PM  

@Lady Audley - you are awesome! I can't believe you went through that effort. I just did a quick Google search and nothing came up.

Lady Audley July 26, 2009 at 12:40 PM  

I love a mystery :-) It actually didn't take too long- Googling "wide world of sorrow" "nineteenth century" turned up a brief mention with a title and publisher, which lead me to the song sheet.

Pam July 26, 2009 at 12:54 PM  

That's so odd - I did a Google search for "someone to love in this wide world of sorrow" and didn't get anything. You'd think that would do it. You are a savvier Googler than I. ;)

Unknown July 26, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

I'll do one better than that. ;-) Here's the complete sheet music for the song:


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