Bills of Exchange; or, A Bride Worth Paying for

A humorous Adventure of a Marriage negotiated by a Bill of Exchange, in one of the English West India Islands. A Merchant, originally from London, having acquired a great fortune in this island, concluded with himself he could not be happy in the enjoyment of it, unless he shared it with a woman of merit ; and knowing none to his fancy, he resolved to write to a worthy correspondent of his in London. He knew no other [????] than that he used in his trade ; therefore treating affairs of love as he did his business, after giving his friend in a letter several commissions, and re serving this for the last, he went on thus: “Item, seeing that I have taken a resolution to marry, and that I do not find a suitable match for me here, do not fail to send by next ship, bound hither, a young woman of the qualifications and form following: As for a portion I demand none; let her be of an honest family; between 20 and 25 years of age ; of a middle stature, and well pro portioned ; her face agreeable, her temper mild, her character blameless, her health good, and her constitution strong enough to bear the change of the climate, that these may be no occasion to look out for a second through lack of the first, soon after she comes to hand ; which must be provided against as much as possible, considering the great distance and the dangers of the sea. If she arrives, and conditioned as abovesaid, with the present letter endorsed by you, or, at least, an at tested copy thereof, that there may be no mistake or imposition, I hereby oblige and engage myself to satisfy the said letter, by marrying the bearer at 15 days sight. In witness whereof I [????] this, &c.”

The London correspondent read over and over the odd article, which put the future spouse on the same footing with the bales of goods he was to send to his friend ; and after admiring the prudent exactness of the naturalised Creole, and his laconic stile, in enumerating the qualifications which he insisted on,he endeavoured to serve him to his mind; and after many enquiries, he judged he had found a lady fit for his purpose, in a young person of a reputable family, but no fortune ; of good humour, and of a polite education ; well shaped, and more than tolerably handsome. HE made the proposal to her as his friend had directed, and the young gentlewoman, who had no subsistence but from a cross old aunt, who gave her a great deal of uneasiness, accepted it. A ship bound for the West Indies was then fitting out at Bristol; the gentlewoman went on board the same, together with the bale of goods, being well provided with all necessaries, and particularly with a certificate in due form, and indorsed by the correspondent. She was also included in the invoice, the last article of which ran thus: “Item, a maid of 21 years of age, of the quality, shape, and condition as per order; as appears by the affidavits and certificates she has to produce.” Writings, which were thought necessary to so exact a man as the future husband, were an extract from the parish register ; a certificate of her character, signified by the curate ; an attestation of her neighbours, setting forth that she had for the space of three years lived with an old aunt who was intolerably peevish, and that she had not, during all that time, given her said aunt the least occasion of complaint. And lastly, the goodness of her constitution was certified, after consideration by *line unreadable* departure, the London correspondent sent several letters to advise by other ships to his friend, whereby he informed him, that per such a ship he sent him a young woman of such an age, character, and condition, &c. in a word, such what desired to marry. The letters of advice, the bales, and the gentlewoman, came safe to the port ; and our Creole, who happened to be one of the foremost on the pier at the lady’s landing, was charmed to see a handsome person, who having heard him called by his name, told him, “Sir, I have a bill of exchange upon you, and you know that it is not usual for people to carry a great deal of money about them in such a long voyage as I have made ; I beg the favour you will be pleased to pay it.” At the same time she gave him his correspondent’s letter, on the back of which was wrote, “The bearer of this is the spouse you ordered me to send you.” Ha, madam ! said the Creole, I never yet suffered my bills to be protested, and I swear this shall not be the first : I shall reckon myself the most fortunate of all men, if you allow me to discharge it.” Yes, Sir, replied she, and the more willingly, since I am apprized of your character. We have several persons of honour on board, who knew you very well, and who, during my passage; have answered all the question I asked of them concerning you, in so advantageous a manner, that it has raised in me a perfect esteem for you.”

This first interview was in a few days after followed by the nuptials, which were very magnificent. The new married couple are satisfied with their happy union made by a bill of exchange, which was the most fortunate that had happened in that island for many years.

The Glasgow Advertiser, 17 September 1790

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