Tuesday, January 26, 2010
*Snigger* Okay, I'm mean. Hee. Heeheehee. Hee.
Matrimonial. - A young lady, in her twentieth year, and of a most respectable family, is desirous of opening a correspondence with some gentleman, with a view to matrimony. In explanation, she may add that she has been directed by her spirit friends to take this method of procuring a suitable companion for life. Any response in good faith will meet with immediate attention, by addressing, for ten days, Clara E. Hinton, Broadway Post office, N.Y.
Yes, this was printed in the 1850s. So, I give a wee bit of leeway here since there was a whole lot more spiritualism back then. Maybe there were (and are - I see plenty of ads for psychics around New York today) legitimate cases of, I dunno, spirit communication. But in this case? I think Clara's "spirit friends" might be more out of her own imagination. To be fair, however, there were plenty of respectable people out there who subscribed to this stuff. William James, for example, followed a nontraditional offshoot of Christianity called Swedenborgian that had some occult tendencies. Even Mary Todd Lincoln held seances in the White House.
So, Clara listening to the voices of her "spirit friends" maybe wasn't quite so far out of the mainstream as it might be today. That being said, however, following their advice to print a matrimonial ad, and then actually mentioning the spirit friends in the ad is pushing things a bit far. I suppose it's possible that some equally devoted spiritualist might have answered. But if anyone, I suspect any man who responded was a great big fraud who tried to convince Clara that the spirit voices wanted her to give him all her money. Which is sort of sad. But seriously, Clara, you brought that on yourself. Just sayin'.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein