The plot was inspired by a series of pictures by William Hogarth entitled Marriage à-la-mode that satirized the treatment of British marriages as business negotiations, in which wealthy British merchants married off their daughters to impoverished peers, exchanging their money for improved social status.
POETS and Painters, who from Nature draw Their beſt and richeſt Stores, have made this Law: That each ſhould neighbourly aſſiſt his Brother, And ſteal with Decency from one another. To-night, your matchleſs Hogarth gives the Thought, Which from his Canvas to the Stage is brought. And who ſo fit to warm the Poet's Mind, As he who pictur'd Morals and Mankind? But not the ſame their Characters and Scenes; Both labour for one End, by different Means: Each, as it ſuits him, takes a ſeparate Road, Their one great Object, Marriage-a-la-mode! Where Titles deign with Cits to have and hold, And change rich Blood for more ſubſtantial Gold! And honour'd Trade from Intereſt turns aſide, To hazard Happineſs for titled Pride.
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