Monday, June 7, 2010
I realized I hadn't posted any matrimonial ads from women for awhile - partly because there just aren't as many of them, and as I've said before, they tend to be shorter and more straightforward (in other words, a lot alike). But there are still interesting ones out there, and here are two, from the very same day:
A lady wishes to make the acquaintance of a gentleman of unquestionable merit, that she may introduce him to a young lady friend with a view to matrimony. Cartes de visite confidential. Address, in sincerity, Harmony, station D. References exchanged.
Hmm. This reminds me of this ad, but while I found that one rather distasteful, this one doesn't bother me. It doesn't seem mercenary in the same way. Though that doesn't make it any less rare; as I said in that entry, you don't see that many ads from someone on behalf of another. I would argue it's an issue of modesty - like the girl being introduced doesn't want to be forward by printing an ad herself. But using an ad at all, for a woman, was pretty forward no matter who actually wrote it. The other scenario that comes to mind - and I have no idea how likely this would be - is that Harmony is printing the ad without her friend's knowledge; maybe once she picks a guy she likes, she'll introduce him as if he's an old friend and not someone she met through a matrimonial. Maybe the friend is really sad and lonely and Harmony wants to cheer her up by introducing her to the perfect guy. But in that case Harmony would have to be pretty certain that she could pick someone her friend would really like. I dunno. I do get the impression that Harmony is a little older, either married herself or with enough money to support herself comfortably, who has a little protégé she wants to help - Emma-like. I hope Harmony is a little wiser!
Matrimonial. - A young lady of prepossessing appearance, fascinating manners and romantic sentiments desires to open a correspondence with a gentleman with a view to matrimony. He must be young, handsome, amiable, and a [?] Union man. Any person possessing the abovementioned qualifications will please address L.R. Vincent, Herald office.
So, as you can probably guess, this ad was written during the Civil War. I can't quite figure out what that one word is - any guesses? Since this ad was printed up North, I'm going to hazard a guess that this is something like "pro-Union." I can't figure out a way that a negative would make sense here. Interesting that she wants to meet a pro-Union man, but doesn't take into account that anyone who fits that description would, you know, probably be off fighting the good fight. (Or maybe not - he could be on leave, mustered out, who knows, but you'd think...) But that's not the part of the ad that I find so amusing. My favorite part is when she describes herself as having "fascinating manners and romantic sentiments." Hee. I can totally imagine exactly what this girl is like. I'm going to put her at about 18 years old, just finished reading a silly romance novel - a style of book that was just becoming popular and widespread at the time - and wants to imagine herself as the heroine of such a love story. Maybe it was even a novel (or short story) about a love affair between a Union soldier and a patriotic girl waiting patiently at home for her True Love to return.
Well, I can only hope that she wasn't scammed by a con man who made the same assumptions I did and thought she'd be an easy mark for seduction and theft! That would make for a much different story indeed...
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein