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Could she, perhaps, have been the same mistress — now, alas, no longer required — that a ‘gentleman of fortune’ advertised in the Morning Post 11 years later?
Family reasons, he wrote, obliged him ‘to drop a connection which has for some time subsisted between him and an agreeable young lady’.
‘In company he must pay a constant attention to his spouse, and not ogle, or intrigue, by squints and looks, with pert misses, who constantly give men encouragement, by made-up leers, and manufactured sight.
Only he has promised to do so in the sight of heaven.
They then inserted a second ad, asking for the man who’d answered to be at Drury Lane Theatre on a certain night, then to stand up at the end and apply a monocle to his right eye. As they caught sight of each other through their monocle, they gradually became aware that they’d all been had.
In 1828, no fewer than 53 respectable ladies replied to an advert from 24-year-old William Corder saying he was in need of a respectable wife to provide him with property and domestic comforts.
And so, in 1837, they met: he in his best frock coat and she wearing a smart gown.He must never get up after twelve, or rise before nine o’clock; in a word, he must be the very man he ought to be.’Of course, there were always a few who made no pretence of their wish for a different sort of relationship.The following ad, placed in The Gazetteer in 1768, could almost have come from one of the ‘high-fliers’ who feature in the novels of Georgette Heyer.‘A lady, whose accomplishments hath acquired the esteem of the beau monde, having lately lost a secret friend, is desirous of putting herself under the protection of any person of rank and fortune.’The biggest clue that the advertiser is, in fact, a high-class courtesan comes in the word ‘protection’.Proving that the commercialising of matchmaking was well-suited to the mercenary business of 17th-century marriage, a slew of ads quickly followed.Almost all were posted by men wanting to hear from a young, rich woman.
He was willing to ‘give a considerable sum of money with her to any gentleman, or person in genteel business, who has good sense and resolution to despise the censures of the world, and will enter with her into the holy state of matrimony’.