3 January 1857
FRESH FERN LEAVES.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by Robert Bonner, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
That prurient young men, and broken-down old ones, should seek amusement in matrimonial advertisements, is not so much a matter of surprise; but that respectable papers should lend such, a voice in their columns, is, I confess, astonishing. I do not say that a virtuous woman has never answered such an advertisement; but I do say, that the virtue of a woman who would do so is not invincible. There is no necessity for an attractive, or to use a hateful phrase, a "marketable" woman, to take such a degrading step to obtain what, alas! under legitimate circumstances often proves, when secured, but a Dead Sea apple. It is undesirable, damaged and unsaleable goods that are oftenest offered at auction. A woman must first have ignored the sweetest attributes of womanhood, have overstepped the last barrier of self-respect, who would parley with a stranger on such a topic. You tell me that marriage has sometimes been the result. Granted: but has a woman who has effected it in this way, bettered her condition, how uncongenial soever it might have been? Few husbands, (and the longer I observe, the more I am convinced of the truth of what I am about to say, and I make no exception in favor of education or station,) have the magnanimity to use justly, generously, the power which the law puts in their hands. But what if a wife's helplessness be aggravated by the reflection that she has abjectly solicited her wretched fate? How many men, think you, are there, who, when out of humor, would hesitate tauntingly to use this drawn sword which you have foolishly placed in their hands?
Our sex has need of all the barriers, all the defences, which nature has given us. No—let woman be the wooer, save as the flowers woo, with their sweetness—save as the stars woo, with their brightness—save as the summer wind woos—silently unfolding the rose's heart.
Fanny Fern, "Matrimonial Advertisements," The New-York Ledger (3 January 1857): 4
To cite this project:
Fanny Fern, "Matrimonial Advertisements," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2018) http://fannyfern.org.