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My Angel's grieving streams

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I couldn't decide what kind of ad I was in the mood to post today, but I saw these two right next to each other and thought, why not both?

They read:

Wall street ferry; Madison stage; half-past nine; black dress, with blue trimmings: Thirty-first street. If you have the kindness to favor me with a letter it will be cordially received at Union square Post office by J.F. CHARMED.

Weeping spirit of my midnight dreams,
My despairing absence you can well divine;
Whilst it drains my Angel's grieving streams,
It keeps your frail relic from his hallowed shrine.

Man, people are so weird.

Okay, first things first. What struck me most about the first ad, which I hope you noticed too, is that these people got around! For anyone who hasn't been to New York City, Wall Street is nowhere near Madison Avenue. Wall Street is about four mile south of Madison and 31st St. My best guess is that, perhaps, there was a ferry that went up and down Manhattan's East side, but even then, Madison Ave is about three-quarters of a mile from the East River. I did a little Google search about New York ferries in the 19th century, didn't come across anything suggesting this, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist. Either way, that's a very long trip, which makes me wonder if "J.F. Charmed" was anything like these guys.

The second ad - I'm not certain I got it exactly right as it is hard to read, but there's no way to know because it makes no sense! AT ALL! No, but seriously. The first and second lines I get. But the third and fourth are like gibberish. "Whilst it drains my Angel's grieving streams"? I's making you sick with misery? What the hell is a "grieving stream"? Perhaps his absence is making you cry a lot? And then the last line: "It keeps your frail relic from his hallowed shrine." WHAT? I got nothing. Since a relic is often a belonging of a holy person and this crazy nutjob mentions a hallowed shrine, I, I don't assume anything. My fallback on ads like these are that they're codes, which makes as much sense as anything else.

Can you imagine picking up the paper every day and running across these? It must have been so much fun. No wonder personal ads got to be such popular reading in the 19th century.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


Anonymous September 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

"Grieving stream" = tears. Or so I assume.

Pam September 8, 2009 at 11:57 AM  

Yeah, I figured that out right after I posted it and added an edit (above), but that was too late for RSS feeds!

Ms Avery September 8, 2009 at 3:37 PM  

Your frail relic = the guy, because he is the woman's belonging. His hallowed shrine = her presence.

So, his absence keeps him far away from her (as absences are wont to do), while making her cry.

Also, he is one pretentious dude.

Pam September 8, 2009 at 8:56 PM  

That makes sense! Thanks, Ms Avery!

My Own Wife September 9, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

Hi Pam,
I would love to correspond with you over email about your project. I'm beginning something similar for Victorian England:
I can be reached at

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