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What would you say makes the most solid foundation for a marriage? Trust? Financial security? The sort of profound and death-defying passion that would make Jack & Rose weep with envy? [let’s face it, they are the modern-day Romeo & Juliet, and I’m only moderately ashamed to admit it.]

It was in the latter half of the eighteenth century that the concept of marrying for love began to gain currency in the English popular mindset, and the younger generation expected a bit more say in who their partner might be. Inevitably, centuries of parental tyranny in these matters meant that alliances negotiated in terms of acreage and titles continued to sweep many reluctant couples to the altar.

Here, however, we have a brilliant print suggesting that many people cannot be trusted with such a momentous decision, giving a range of slightly less conventional – but still remarkably unwise – reasons for marriage. Take heed, single readers! Yes, even if you are presented with the prospect of a free bar… It’s probably not going to end well.

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1. Because she probably won’t live very long anyway

Ah, that old romantic chestnut. The consolation for unsentimental men choosing to attach themselves to a woman past the bloom of youth and/or good health. Bless.

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2. Because she will probably cheat on me, and I can seek financial recompense for the trauma

A sure consolation, if one were needed, for marrying a beautiful young lady clearly out of your league. Fingers crossed, eh?

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3. Because those pies aren’t going to sell themselves

What woman could resist such pragmatism, such unwavering selflessness in the face of his unsold wares? Swoon.

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4. Because the make of his shoulders pleases you vastly

Or any other body part, for that matter.

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5. Because having a baby is a clever way of getting your beau to put
a ring on it


It’s really not. Especially if he is as unconvinced about the whole thing as this fellow. ‘Never mind John…’

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6. Because I want FREE BOOZE

If you can contrive to find yourself a landlord for a lover, why not? Oh right, because being a drunken mess at his expense every night probably isn’t going to make you wildly attractive to a new husband.

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7. Because I want BABIES

And saying so never terrified any man, ever

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8. Because … she’s a woman

And sometimes, that’s all it takes

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Images taken from ‘Matrimonial Speculation’ by William Esdall (1792). Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library. The full image can be viewed here.

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153 thoughts on “8 Ill-advised Reasons for Getting Married, 1792

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