As a twist on men needing to be married off, I bring you a rather lovely caricature from George Woodward, an artist who lived between 1760 and 1809 and who rejoiced in the nick-name of ‘Mustard George’. It is entitled “An advertisement for a husband!” and first appeared in 1803. It is shown courtesy of the excellent Lewis Walpole Library.
The Lewis Walpole site offers this explanation:
“A footman leads a parson and six prospective suitors that have arrived in response to an advertisement for a husband posted by an ‘old maid’.
The bachelors include a Welshman, a Scotsman, and a doctor that offer flatteries while waiting, “Splutter hur, how pretty she looks, she be a nice wench”, “Leave a Scotch laddie alone for carrying off the sillar”, and “From my conscience, she looks like a Venus of medicine!” respectively. The footman leans forward to shout into the elderly woman’s ear trumpet, “Please your ladyship all these gentlemen be come about an advartisement for a husband and to lose no time they have brought the Parson with them; please your Virginship what am I to say to ‘em?”
The elderly woman responds, “Say to them, why the men are mad, if I was so inclined – do they think I would marry six husbands at once!!” A hissing cat followed by a litter of kittens stand beside the woman’s chair.”
Setting aside the racist reference to the Scot wanting to carry off the silver, or the idea of the Welshman describing her as a nice wench, I rather like the picture of the elegantly dressed doctor, quizzing glass in hand, peering at the old crone and offering platitudes while appraising the goods. The old bat, complete with chin stubble, was presumably loaded!