I found this hilarious series of quotations from The History of Love blog here, who was actually quoting from a Washington Post article here (both of which were written by scholar Emily Brand, who delights me). I think I've entered a wormhole of reblogging.
ANYWAY, Brand's research reveals seduction advice given to men in the late 1700s, cited specifically from a 1799 book entitled The New Academy of Compliments. Because nothing says "I sincerely love you" quite like quoting aloud from a mass-produced list of generic praise. Ahh, the manufacturing of sentiment. And you thought Hallmark invented that.
Without further ado, Brand's article, with my comments in square brackets:
"Gentleman readers, follow the suggested plan of attack at your peril. I, for one, have a new-found respect for the beleaguered ladies of 18th century New York — it seems the modern experience of 'courtship' wasn’t so different as we might think.
"Presenting six steps to seducing a woman, from the 'The New Academy of Compliments'
1. Tell her that you think she’s hot. Suggested pick up lines include:
“Madam, as you are fair and beauteous, be generous and merciful to him that is your slave.”
“Sweet lady, your virtues have so strangely taken up my thoughts, that therein they encrease and multiply in abundant felicity.” [Did you just say that my virtues are breeding inside your brain?]
“I have a long time been broiling on the flames of ardent affection towards your dear self.” [Well, that's too bad. I prefer my meat medium-rare.]
2. If necessary, catch her off-guard by insulting her first.
“I am as lantern-jaw’d as you are platter-fac’d; but yet perhaps we may have lovely babes when we come together, if we can but tell how to get them.” [Two genetic wrongs don't make a right. Also, nothing woos a woman quite so much as saying 'I want to put my babies inside you and see what comes out.']
3. Make a dramatic entrance. When all eyes are on you, make the most of it — preferably with a bit of fancy footwork:
“If a young man enters into a room, on his approaching those he intends to pay his respects to, he must. . . bow with his hat in his right hand, and then advancing three steps traverse ways, and by degrees approach the party, and if there be more than one, he must salute them severally: if a man, by a genteel embrace, in pressing the left side with his right arm: if a woman, a proferred salute, if not a real one.” [Guys, this is called 'uncomfortably sidling up to someone'. You know what also works? Walking like a normal person.]
4. Don’t open with “the conversation”. Assessing her suitability by quizzing her about her virginity/previous partners is probably not a very good idea. (This one is actually pretty sensible.)
“When a young gentleman has found a conqueress of his affection, let him not rudely accost her if she be a virgin, lest his good meaning be taken in evil part.” ["HI PRETTY LADY, WHAT IS THE STATUS OF YOUR GENITALS, PLS? I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW FOR REASONS OF GOOD MEANING."]
5. Keep within her sights. Because there is nothing more effective than a bit of light stalking.
“Then it is his business to walk before her window, or watch her going abroad, that she may have a perfect sight of him, which commonly creates a liking love.” ["How did you guys get together?" "He stalked me all the way to the altar!"]
6. Don’t give up, even if she rejects you. At which point it all gets a bit “Blurred Lines.”
“There is no way after the ice is once broke, like opportunity and resolution, in spight of all resistance, not to be denied, to haunt her like her shadow, and fill her ears with themes of love, settled with a few scattered protestations, which is the only way to obtain her.” ["Your words are saying 'No', but the way you punched me in the face and slammed the door said 'Yes'".]