This week we discover Tom Rakewell giving rise to a historical romance novel trope: the profligate in need of a wife with blunt. In other words, beggars cannot be choosers. Hence the title of Plate 5 of A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth – Married to an Old Maid. Our hero/antihero/idiot needs money yesterday.
The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.
Indigent man seeking to enrich himself by marrying a woman of fortune.
From the Wikipedia description:
In the fifth, Tom attempts to salvage his fortune by marrying a rich but aged and ugly old maid at St Marylebone. In the background, Sarah arrives, holding their child while her indignant mother struggles with a guest. It looks as though Tom’s eyes are already upon the pretty maid to his new wife’s left during the nuptials.
Slang term is taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.