Monday, July 26, 2010
Wow, that "week off" went by super fast. Like, so fast that I apparently took two weeks off without even realizing it! I hope there's anyone still out there. I will say, it was a relatively productive two weeks, so while I know it was difficult for you guys to get through without me, in the end, it was a sacrifice worth making. (Not that I inflate my own importance or anything!)
So, without any further ado:
The advertiser, being a romantic miss of nineteen summers, is desirous of corresponding with a gentleman (military preferred) with a view to matrimony; must be of lively turn of mind, intelligent, prepossessing, generally fascinating and possessing some wealth. Address in sincerity Miss Annie Clayton, box 19 Lesser Cross Roads, N.J. Enclose carte de visite.
This ad reminds me of the third one down here, because both women say they want their husbands to be "fascinating." Don't we all, my dear? Ah well, who wasn't hoping to meet some "fascinating" man or woman at the age of nineteen?
But in a way this matrimonial makes me very sad. Why? Well, it was published right before - and I mean right before the Civil War really got going. When the war started, everyone thought, oh this is going to be over in a few months. I'm too lazy to go find the exact quote, but Jefferson Davis supposedly offered to drink all the blood spilled in the South if war broke out - that's how unconcerned people were about what was about to happen. So when this silly little girl wrote this ad, she's seeing all these officers strutting about in their stylish uniforms and imagining herself on the arm of a War Hero. She doesn't know that in just a few short months, all hell's gonna break loose.
So I wonder, if she really did meet and marry - or at least become engaged to - a handsome Union officer, did he survive? This poor creature - seeing herself as a romantic war bride - and instead she's about to face four years of daily horrors and wondering each and every day if her husband/fiance is going to survive. It breaks my heart to imagine how all her illusions must have been shattered.
You know, post-dissertation defense one of my advisers told me I should add a chapter about the Civil War - something that I agree is an excellent idea, but would make it impossible for me to graduate in October as planned. Yet, when I go back and see just how many entries in this blog have been about the Civil War, I wonder if maybe I should make the sacrifice. Put off graduating a few more months and write a chapter that will encompass this era that is clearly so, so fascinating? I hate to stay in school another semester and still not be done, despite having passed the defense, and yet...will my dissertation be all that it can be otherwise? Could I be satisfied knowing that something so, well, fascinating, has been left out?
What do you all think?
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein