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Moll Flanders

Chapter 5
I accepted her offer, and was with her half a year, and should have been longer, but in
that interval what she proposed to me happened to herself, and she married very much
to her advantage. But whose fortune soever was upon the increase, mine seemed to be
upon the wane, and I found nothing present, except two or three boatswains, or such
fellows, but as for the commanders, they were generally of two sorts: 1. Such as, having
good business, that is to say, a good ship, resolved not to marry but with advantage,
that is, with a good fortune; 2. Such as, being out of employ, wanted a wife to help them
to a ship; I mean (1) a wife who, having some money, could enable them to hold, as
they call it, a good part of a ship themselves, so to encourage owners to come in; or (2)
a wife who, if she had not money, had friends who were concerned in shipping, and so
could help to put the young man into a good ship, which to them is as good as a portion;
and neither of these was my case, so I looked like one that was to lie on hand.
This knowledge I soon learned by experience, viz. that the state of things was altered as
to matrimony, and that I was not to expect at London what I had found in the country:
that marriages were here the consequences of politic schemes for forming interests,
and carrying on business, and that Love had no share, or but very little, in the matter.
That as my sister-in-law at Colchester had said, beauty, wit, manners, sense, good
humour, good behaviour, education, virtue, piety, or any other qualification, whether of
body or mind, had no power to recommend; that money only made a woman agreeable;
that men chose mistresses indeed by the gust of their affection, and it was requisite to a
whore to be handsome, well-shaped, have a good mien and a graceful behaviour; but
that for a wife, no deformity would shock the fancy, no ill qualities the judgment; the
money was the thing; the portion was neither crooked nor monstrous, but the money
was always agreeable, whatever the wife was.
On the other hand, as the market ran very unhappily on the men's side, I found the
women had lost the privilege of saying No; that it was a favour now for a woman to have
the Question asked, and if any young lady had so much arrogance as to counterfeit a
negative, she never had the opportunity given her of denying twice, much less of
recovering that false step, and accepting what she had but seemed to decline. The men
had such choice everywhere, that the case of the women was very unhappy; for they
seemed to ply at every door, and if the man was by great chance refused at one house,
he was sure to be received at the next.
Besides this, I observed that the men made no scruple to set themselves out, and to go
a-fortunehunting, as they call it, when they had really no fortune themselves to demand
it, or merit to deserve it; and that they carried it so high, that a woman was scarce
allowed to inquire after the character or estate of the person that pretended to her. This
I had an example of, in a young lady in the next house to me, and with whom I had
contracted an intimacy; she was courted by a young captain, and though she had near
 
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