MARQUIS DE SADE: HIS LIFE AND WORK
THE AGE OF MARQUIS DE SADE
De Sade called the eighteenth century "the age of complete corruption" (Justine 1, 2) and in another place had Noirceuil say: "It is dangerous to desire to be virtuous in a corrupt century" (Juliette 1, 261). The consciousness of the general evil of the century was sufficiently impressed upon him as on others. Hegel in his Philosophy of History has the most pertinent expression for this epoch: "The whole state of France at that time was a dissolute aggregation of privileges against idea and reason; in general, a mad state with which, at the same time, was bound the highest depravity of morals and spirit—an empire of injustice with the growing consciousness of that state."
The eighteenth century belongs to that frivolous era, whose essence was masterfully described by a student of Hegel, Kuno Fischer, in his Diotima: "Frivolous times are those which always conclude a moribund era and completely destroy the life of mankind so that it can start afresh." Fichte once called it "completed sinfulness." In all great turning points of history the traits of the different ages resemble one another. They are weakened and appear so flabby and impotent, that one despairs of new ones. And in fact, when an era has completely lived itself out, there remains from its customary life but the external shell, and this needs artistic charm to excite it again, for the inward power is lacking which alone can bring it forth in its youthful freshness.
"It is unrestrained and yet a feeble life; it is unfettered, and yet dull powers which complete the drama of life. There is no character, no formation in such times; everywhere the prose of selfishness without its power; the impotency of pleasure without its poetry." The world of the Caesars, the age of expiring popery, the French monarchy before the Revolution were all such periods. The second was the complete sinfulness of Catholicism; the last, the complete sinfulness of the monarchy.
Pleasure, à tout prix, was the watchword in the eighteenth century. But the man who wants enjoyment at any cost is the egoist. Never was egoism so prolific in France as in the ancien régime and during the Revolution. The minister Saint Fond, a true copy of a minister under Louis XV, said (Juliette 11, 37): "A statesman would be a fool if he did not let his country pay for his pleasures. What matters to us the misery of the people if only our passions arc satisfied? If I thought that gold might flow from the veins of people, I would have them blood-let one after the other, that I might cover myself in their gore."
De Sade found this expression characteristic of the ancien régime. Before the Revolution this egoism was encountered only in the ruling classes, monarch, nobility and clergy. In the Revolution it seized all ranks of the populace. Adolf Schmidt, who drew his description of the Revolutionary days from authentic contemporary documents, said: "It was the sharp expressed egoism, the selfishness and avarice, which not only pierced the higher ranks of society, but all classes of people and, foremost of all, the overwhelming number of peasants; indeed it was so powerful, that all other feelings, even those of country and of humanity, were deeply submerged and forgotten. It is astonishing and dreadful when one perceives how, amid all the gleaming declamations on liberty, equality and fraternity, on the rights of love and man, on sacrifice for the well-being of society, greatness and fame of the country, there was in almost all classes a race for wealth and property, a cold-blooded reckoning on taking advantage of the circumstances, an avaricious speculation on the misfortunes of the state and the misery of their fellow creatures. Each wanted to outwit and impose on the other." We will have to study this egoism, this chief trait of the eighteenth century, in its various forms.
For it brought to a head the search for pleasure which reached its summit in sexual abandonments. The eighteenth century was the century of the systematizing of sexual pleasures and pursuits. Paul Moreau distinguished three epochs in the history of sexual debauchery and aberration. The first is the epoch of the Roman Empire; the second embraces those great epidemics de névropathie de toutes sortes in the middle ages, especially the belief in the existence of the incubus and succubus, the cult of the so-called "Devil's Church" with its horrible sexual monstrosities. The third period falls in the eighteenth century, luminous in its peculiar French individuality by the saturnalias of the regency and Louis XV.
Debauchery! That is the word for the eighteenth century, declare the best savants of that time, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt. "That is its secret, its charm and its soul. Debauchery is the air on which it breathes and lives. It is its atmosphere, its element, its inspiration, its life and its genius. It circulates in its heart, nerves and brain. It gives its own peculiar charm and savor to in customs, morals and works. Debauchery proceeds from the innermost being of the age and speaks from its mouth. From there it flies over this world, takes possession, is its fairy, its muse, the dictator of custom, style and art. And nothing has remained from this time, nothing from this century of woman, which was not created, moved and protected by debauchery."
What the French eighteenth century delineated, above all, in a manner never before nor after seen, was the systematizing of sexual love. It remained for this century to draw up a codex of machlosophy.
"The entire life strives for the sexual act: science, art, fashion, literature, gastronomy. Everything permeates the languishing breeze of purely physical love and leaves behind that heavy languor which enervates all spiritual energy. And as this arose in the great, glorious and unforgettable Revolution, which the new age had given birth to, that heavy perfume still hung on, carried the people again down, enslaved them and turned the heavily yoked forces into wild ferocity and pitiless bloodthirstiness."
The main characteristics of this century of injustice, egoism and sexual immorality, are to be observed at their highest in the life and works of Marquis de Sade; we must henceforth always seek, in relation to the personality of de Sade, the origin of that frivolity, and to investigate the factors which combined to form the general character of the century.
The spirit of an age is most clearly and decidedly shown in its philosophy. French philosophy was the scientific expression of the egoism, the search for pleasure and sexual desire of that time. It was thoroughly sensualistic and materialistic. De Sade had Dubois say very definitely (Justine 1, 122): "The principle of philosophy is the search for pleasure." Philosophy plays an important role in de Sade’s works. Very often is this expression met: "The fire of passion is always ignited on the torch of philosophy." (e.g. Juliette 1, 92, 158, 319, etc.). A good part of de Sade’s works embraced long-winded philosophic excursions, which we will evaluate in a later section. Therein de Sade acted very eclectically and uncritically. He named, e.g., in one breath Spinoza, Vanini and Holbach, the author of The System of Nature (Juliette 1, 31); then Buffon (Philosophy in the Boudoir I, 77), who made an attempt to soften the stark materialism. The names of Voltaire (Juliette I, 88), and Montesquieu (Juliette IV, 8) were, of course, present. But Montesquieu was a mere "demi-philosophe." Reminiscent of Rousseau sounds the expression: "Men are pure only in the natural state; as soon as they depart therefrom, they lower themselves." (Juliette IV, 242). La Mettrie appeared to have had the greatest influence on de Sade. At least it seems to us that the philosophic system of Marquis de Sade, if one may so name his eclectic potpourri, showed a preference for the thoughts of La Mettrie. Both sought to legitimize and exalt sexual pleasure in a philosophic analysis. In this connection La Mettrie was expressly mentioned (Juliette III, 211).
Montesquieu and Voltaire had acquainted France with the sensualistic philosophy of Locke; already the skepticism of Pierre Bayle had opposed the Christian belief as the higher and truer philosophy. As with English philosophers, so with Voltaire and Montesquieu: the sensualistic views were only developed theoretically; the sensualism remained essentially a theory of knowledge. But influences were being felt which tried to carry sensualism and its natural consequence, materialism, over to the practical field. Knowledge is a function of mind. The foundation of morals is personal well-being, egoism. The only eternal thing is movement which brings forth all other things and requires no creator. Free will and immortality of the soul, as well as the conception of God, are hence utopian. Matter alone is certain. There is no soul. Atheism is the only religion and finds its gratification in the adoration of nature, in a happy life and physical pleasure. From these representative formulae and propositions of La Mettrie and Holbach, the natural result was the special characteristic of French philosophy in the eighteenth century: the opposition to church and religion, the espousal of freedom for individuals.
Never had philosophy turned its attention with such vigor to all the life-relations and with such conscious desire to reform them. The French Revolution was preeminently the work of the philosophers; this was recognized very early. Barruel, a fanatic supporter of the ancien régime, said in 1793: "The Revolution was brewing for a long time and was planted by men who under the guise of philosophers had assumed the task of destroying throne and altar." There were hence political and religious philosophers. The chief representative of political philosophy was Mirabeau, the passionate attorney of the Third Estate. He wrote, however, that famous dictum: "If you want a revolution, you must first decatholicize France." How deeply imbedded in the people was the atheism of a La Mettrie and a Holbach is shown by an actual case reported by Dotard. Three priests were returning from a pious performance of their official duties. The foremost shoved out of his way with his silver cross a heavily laden porter who was walking by with a friend. "Say," called out the porter, "you there, clear out with that cross!" "Sh," cried his friend, "it is the good God!" "Aw, the good God!" answered the other, "there's no good God any more!"
There was consistent progress to the practical execution of the abolition of the hated religion. In the meeting of the Convention, November 17, 1793, Cloots declared that religion was the greatest hindrance to happiness; there was no other God than nature; no other master than the human race; the God of the people, Reason, must unite all men. Feirlich, on November 7, 1793, with a small body of clergy, in the pale of the convent of Bishop Gobel, abjured Catholicism and Christianity. The clergymen of the convent immediately followed his example. On November 10th in the Notre Dame church the strange cult “Reason” was initiated. Reason became flesh in the form of a pretty young girl whom the president of the convent embraced with a fraternal kiss. Abstract Reason became Concrete Sensualism. It is thus seen that the atheism which took such frightful forms with de Sade was not peculiar to him but customary of the time. It is further seen how conclusively this whole atheistic conduct terminated in sexual pleasure, which took on enormous dimensions at the time of the Revolution.
De Sade mentioned La Mettrie’s work On Lust with which The Art of Enjoyment was apparently joined (Juliette IV, 198). Here La Mettrie developed the rules for the enjoyment of physical love, which he prized as the most beautiful and valuable conduct in the world, for thereby was derived the satisfaction of all the "caprices de l’imagination."
Philosophy, in which the spiritual movement of that time found the universal and most intense expression, fought for political, religious and moral freedom. It aligned itself against state, church and traditional custom. Marquis de Sade also made these factors subjects of his weightiest attacks. We therefore essay an investigation of individual relations in state, church, literature and public life, insofar as they may shed light on the personality of Marquis de Sade.
Louis XV ruled in the youth of Marquis de Sade; Louis XVI at his maturity. In 1774 when de Sade was thirty-four years old the most corrupt monarch that ever ruled France, Louis XV, died. We pass over the following facts as too well known: the political misgovernment of the French rulers in the eighteenth century, the great scandal involving John Law, and the loss of the most important colonies under Louis XV, the revolution under Louis XVI and the marked patronage of the nobility and clergy. The search for pleasure and the sexual debauchery of the monarchy were especially stigmatized by de Sade. Here, too, he had his prototypes in reality. "When a prince of the blood walks the way of vice he is accompanied by the entire society." The example given by the French rulers must have had the most corrupt effects on the out-and-out materialistically minded society of the ancien régime. The time of the Regency created the name and type of roué, which became a characteristic phenomenon of the whole century. The roué par excellence was King Louis XV, famous for the number of his mistresses and for his Deer Park. His life, as Moreau says, was a "steadfast prostitution." Hence, his mistresses, in spite of their great number and frequent exchange, could not keep him satisfied. In his famous Deer Park he had built the original of private bordellos, which played an important rôle in the works of Marquis de Sade. Imagine! A king maintaining a whole bordello for his private use! The Deer Park was built in 1750 in the hermitage at Versailles in the quarter called Parc-aux-Cerfs, by the Marquise de Pompadour who, in order to retain the reins of government, created this new sort of enjoyment for the king. The administrator of the bordello was a certain Bertrand; the purveyor of the young girls was called Lebel. In the beginning there were only two or three inmates in the house. After the death of Pompadour it became very crowded (très peuplée). According to another version (Mouffle D'Angerville), "the Marquise de Pompadour, since she was superintendent of his (the king's) pleasures, had incessantly to levy new and fresh beauties, in order to stock the seraglio, wherein she was sovereign; therefrom developed the so-called Deer Park (Parc-aux-Cerfs), that grave of innocence and virtue, swallower of masses of victims, who, when returned to human society, brought with them depravity, debauchery and all those vices, which they must have been infested with by the infamous keepers of that pleasure resort.
"Apart from the evil which this dreadful place did to the morals of society, it is horrible when one reckons the immense amount of money that it cost the state. And who can reckon the costs of this legion of master and minor pimps and pimpesses who were constantly on the go even to the farthest bounds of the empire to track out the objects of their investigations; the costs of conveying the girls to their destination; the necessary polish, dress, perfume and all the other means in the world for making them alluring? To this must be added the gratuities presented to those who were not successful in arousing the complete passions of the sultan, but had nevertheless to be paid for their submission, for their discretion, and still more for their being eventually despised. There were also the rewards for those nymphs who were more fortunate and received the monarch for a time in their arms and caused the fire of passion to burn in his veins. Finally there were the sacred undertakings to those girls who bore in their womb the precious fruit of their fecundity."
It was deduced that each girl cost the public treasury a million Livres. "If only two a week came (little enough), this mounts up in ten years to a thousand and the result is thus ten thousand million Livres. And even then the great number of children born in the Deer Park is not figured, a matter of no little account." It is accordingly viewed by many historians that the initial cost and upkeep of the Deer Park was the main cause of the financial ruin of Louis XV. Many rumors flitted about concerning the organized orgies in the Deer Park, which in any case have not been unduly exaggerated.
"The Saturnalia of the Romans at the time of the Caesars, the horrible Lupercalia of Tiberius, Caligula, Nero or of Agrippina, Messalina, Locusta and other human monsters were but pale copies of the scenes that took place in the Deer Park. Intoxication was here multiple; induced by play, spices, wine and other beverages, perfumes, scenes from magic lanterns, music and every conceivable kind of animal pleasure." Moreau, from authentic sources on the connection between religion and debauchery, wrote: "Every time Louis XV wanted to spend a night in the Deer Park he not only fulfilled his religious duties with fervor, but also could not bear the young priestesses of another cult to fail in the application of their Christian belief. As soon as he was closeted with one of his odalisques he commanded her to undress behind a curtain, while he did the same.
"Then clad in Adam's costume they genuflected on the carpet and said the daily prayer, while they wet their forehead with holy water, which was contained in a crystal flask at the head of the bed. After they had prayed and crossed themselves, the king stroked the naked bosom of his co-worshipper with his pious finger. Then they arose, stepped in bed, drew the drapes together, and the names of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary were whispered again and again until the rites of love brought forth another vocabulary."
Louis XV also had his own official for the arrangement of his orgies in the person of La Ferte, Intendant de Menus-Plaisirs (the Minister of Dainty Pleasures). This cabinet-member was abolished by Louis XVI. On Thursday, May 19, 1774, when Louis XVI, nine days after the death of his predecessor, was strolling with his queen and child in the Bois de Boulogne, La Ferte presented himself. The king looked at him from top to bottom and asked: "Who are you?" "Sire, I am La Ferte." "What do you want of me?" "Sire, I am here to take the orders of your Majesty." "But why?" "Since—since I am the Intendant—of the Menus—” "What is that?" "Sire, it is the Menus-Plaisirs of your Majesty.” "My Menus-Plaisirs consist in walking in the park. I do not need you." Thereupon the king turned his back on him and left.
Louis XVI and his consort, Marie Antoinette, are personally absolved from the reproaches of immorality. Still, under their rule the same sensual life at court continued and his brother, Prince d'Artois, was indeed a noted libertine. It was impossible for the private life of the king and especially of the queen, who as an Austrian princess enjoyed small sympathy, to be free from suspicion. The well known necklace story was strongly taken advantage of, much to the queen's dismay. Indeed five years after Louis XVI's coronation there appeared an obscene poem, The Loves of Charlot and Toinette, later reprinted in numberless editions. The poem treated of the alleged love between Marie Antoinette and her cousin D’Artois (later King Charles X). The queen was here described in the most obscene verses as a true Messalina, whom the impotent king could not satisfy!
"Charlot," the Prince d’Artois, was indeed a chief participant in the orgies of the court nobility in the Residence, as was the Duke of Orleans, Philippe Egalité. At the famous nightly promenades in the Palais Royal the appearance of Prince d'Artois was a daily occurrence. In the Nights of Paris Restif de Ia Bretonne tells of a bordello in Saint Antoine, which the Duke of Orleans, the Prince d'Artois and others, frequently visited. "There took place all the infamies and bestialities which were later described by de Sade in his horrible novel Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue."
De Sade called (Juliette IV, 16) Marie Antoinette "la première putain de France" (the first public prostitute of France) and allowed no opportunity to go by without insulting her (Juliette V, 235, 252, etc.). In general he cherished an overwhelming hatred against the House of Austria. He indeed wanted to wipe out all the kings of the earth and found a "république universelle" (Juliette V, 119).
The nobility and clergy play the main rôles in the novels of Marquis de Sade. Princes, dukes, counts, marquis, and chevaliers accompany popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, monks of all orders, abbesses and nuns as erotic and atheistic monsters. All the corruption of the ancien régime passes before our eyes in his works. The nobility and clergy formed indeed only one class in France for the clergy were mostly recruited from the nobility. The oldest son of the nobleman became an officer, the second son a priest or monk, the daughters, who for lack of dowry could not be married, nuns. The parsonage of the nobility by the state reached unheard of dimensions in the eighteenth century. All state officers, judgeships and military positions were usually given to the nobility. At eighteen to twenty the young noblemen, without having the slightest idea of military tactics, were given regiments. They passed their youth in luxury and debauchery with women.
A noted intermediary between clergy and nobility was the institution of abbés, that degenerate mixed breed which one found everywhere without any fixed official duties. Mercier declared that Paris was full of abbés, priests with tonsure, serving neither the church nor the state, passing their time in utmost sloth but playing no unimportant role as "friends of the house," pedagogues, writers, etc. They were at home in all bordellos, although at an early period every courtesan who could prove the visit of an abbé received 50 francs. But that ceased under Louis XVI. An excellent description of the abbé of the eighteenth century was given by that celebrated gastronomist, Brillat Savarin: "If a family of the nobility had many sons, one of them was set aside for the church. He first received simple prebends which sufficed for the costs of his education; he later became a canon, abbot or bishop according to his talent for the spiritual calling. That was the true type of abbé. But there were also many false ones, and many well-to-do youngsters appeared in Paris as abbés. Nothing was simpler and so convenient: by a slight change of attire the appearance of a benefice was simulated. One had friends, lovers and hosts, for every house had its abbé. They were small, fat, round, well-dressed, bland, obliging, curious connoisseurs, lively and insinuating." De Sade has drawn this type in Abbé Chabert, the friend of Juliette and teacher of her daughter (Juliette 111, 280). The abbés also figure in the police reports of Manuel on the vice of the clergy in Paris which we shall quote in a later section.
A second characteristic phenomenon of the eighteenth century was the "knight," the chevalier. He also has found a loving commentator in Brillat Savarin: "Many knights had found it advantageous to present the fraternal kiss to each other. They were mostly pretty men. They carried their swords vertically, their heads high, their noses up, their bodies stiff; they were gamblers, seducers, squabblers and really belonged to the train of a lady of fashion. At the beginning of the Revolution most of the knights entered the army, others left the country and the rest lost themselves in the crowd. The few survivors can be recognized by their features. For now they are skinny and walk laboriously. They have the gout."
The champions of the cloth were, in de Sade's novels, the perpetrators of the most abominable outrages. With a special preference de Sade described the vices, hypocrisy, and the ungodliness of the clergy of every rank. He overwhelmed the cloth with the most vulgar insults. And he had excellent justification.
In the discussion of the wickedness of the French clergy we will present authentic historic documents. The discoveries of the police speak of and justify de Sade, whose works were placed on the Index Expurgatorius as much for their anti-clerical contents as for their obscenity. Thus Juliette called the pope an "old ape" (Juliette IV, 285); and the other prelates, monks, etc., did not fare much better. The tribade Clairwil cried (Juliette II, 336): "Who are the only true destroyers of society? The priests! Who daily seduce and rape our women and children? The priests! Who are the greatest enemy of every reign? The priests! Who continually deceive us with lies and frauds? Steal our last penny? Work most for the destruction of the human race? Defame themselves most with crimes and infamies? Who are the most dangerous and horrible persons?… And yet we hesitate to put an end to these pestilent worms of the earth? Then we really deserve all these evils."
All the troubles of France were the work of the Jesuits (Juliette III, 169). Numberless were the orgies and debaucheries, which the priests arranged in de Sade’s novels. Therein appeared all the pathologic sexual types. The pederast, the pathicus, the lécheur, the sanguinaire, etc., etc. We here call attention only to the dreadful orgies of the Carmelites (Juliette III, 143), the Archbishop of Lyons (Juliette I, 234); the orgies in the catacombs of the Panthémont monastery between monks and nuns (Juliette I, 96); of Pope Pius VI and the Cardinals Albani and Bernis in Rome (Juliette IV, 100 ff.). All these clergymen were atheists and blasphemers. De Sade repeated—unique in his works—two obscene and blasphemous poems of Cardinal Bernis in Juliette.
We shall next present contemporary reports as proofs that de Sade was not unjust when he exposed the clergy in such an abusive manner in his works.
Pierre Manuel has left us in his famous work The Parisian Police Exposed (Paris, 1794), a photographically true picture of the moral conditions of Paris before the outbreak of the great Revolution. Adolf Schmidt, one of the best savants of the history of France in the eighteenth century and who, like Manuel, collected similar reports, in his Tableaux of the French Revolution, called Manuel's book one of the most reliable sources for the Eighteenth Century.
Manuel, in his famous work, had a chapter "Police, Priests and Prostitutes." He repeated in bitterly satiric words the vow of chastity of the priests and said: "I will reveal the lascivious actions of these missionaries of heaven, who themselves damn to Hades the passions of noble and sensitive persons. Naming these failings is not doing away with them. For the pure man is he who sleeps with his wife."
The following laconic records refer to the reports of the police inspectors and commissioners, to the confessions of the culprits and their accomplices. We give verbatim same of the striking reports.
February 12, 1760. Brother François Lortal, House of Toulouse. He reversed the maxim of Virgil in practice: nudus ara, sere nudus! Commissioner Thierion, Inspector Marais.
July 2, 1766. George le Payen, vicar in Cerny, lover on lover in the garden. Commissioner Grimperil, Inspector Marais.
March 30, 1764. J. Ignace Xavier Dreux, licentiate, Professor of Theology, at Agathe, under the bed. Commissioner Mutel, etc.
February 8, 1763. Jacques Brebi, from Maubert Place. He was under the name Jacques Mazure with the guards; he thought it was a church. Report of Prior Martin, etc.
Pierre Simon, 46 years in the cloth. He described his pleasures with trembling hands. Commissioner Mutel, etc.
December 14, 1762. Laurent Dilly, mendicant friar from Rue St. Honoré, at the Boyerie, where he sang: tirez-moi par mon cordon! Report of the Father Guardian Grégoire, etc.
November 9, 1765. Joseph Biache, called Brother Constant, and Joseph Etienne, called Brother Constantine, from the monastery at Crépy; both in the inn, The Mounting Deer, where they asked for a bed for three, although they only had the image of the Virgin Mary with them. Commissioner Mutel, etc.
Recollects (strictest branch of Franciscans):
June 30, 1763. Noel-Clément Berthe, called Brother Paul, whipped at Leblanc. Com. Fontaine, etc.
March 1, 1765. Gabriel Anheisser, called Father Gabriel, in his nightshirt under the bed of Agnes Viard. He lived together with this former sutler for seven or eight years. Com. de Ruisseau, etc.
February 19, 1767. Father Constance between Victoire and Emilie, like the ass of Buridon. Com. cle Ruisseau, etc.
January 17, 1760. André Carron, while writing on the wall of the room of Zaire: "I am always ready for whipping." Com. Sirebeau, etc.
December 30, 1762. Dom Claude Jousse, 63 years old, at Marie la Neuve, where he was not abashed with the maidens. Report of Prior Jean Baptiste of St. Marie-Magdalene. Com. de Ruisseau.
November 5, 1763. Bernard-Nicolas, from Palais-Royal House, in the Avenue de Vincennes, with them Franciscans and Rosalie, who was a match for a dozen of them. Com. Mutel, etc.
October 26, 1765: "I, the undersigned, Honoré Regnard, 53 years old, canon of the holy Augustine order, procurator, House of St. Catherine, confirm that Inspector Marais found me at the St. Louis, rue do Figuier, to which I went yesterday of my own desire, in order to satisfy myself with Félix. I had her undress and caressed her with my hand concealed under the cloak. And today I played with Félix and her friend Julie, who took off my vestment and dressed and painted me as a woman. The inspector surprised me in this condition. I declare that I have had this desire for many years but which I have never been able to satisfy until today. As proof of authenticity I sign the following declaration, which contains the whole truth and nothing but the truth, with my name Honoré Regnard." Com. Mutel, etc.
July 18, 1768. Simon Boucel, with the Prévilles, Louise and Sophy.
March 17, 1760. François de Maugre, from rue Haute-Feuille, between Desirée and Zaire, all three happy. Com. Sirebeau, etc.
Penitents of Nazareth:
May 2, 1766. Brother Nicephorus, with Laville, who showed him every part of the body, including some internal ones. Com. Mutel, etc.
December 3, 1760. J. D. Tordoir, Prior of Nanites, at Mausy, in the garb of the prophet who awaked the son of the Sunamites.
Brothers of Mercy:
October 19, 1762. Jacques François Boulard, former overseer of novices and priors, at Lagarde, with Victoire and Julie, trying to take in as much as possible. Com. de Ruisseau, etc.
Order of St. Genevieve:
May 8, 1761. Jean Pierre Bedosse with Zephire, per ipsam, cum ipsa et in ipsa. Com. Sirebeau, etc.
August 2, 1752. Father Bernard, famous preacher. He chose two or three prostitutes at Lasolle. This cost him the wealth of a duchess. He gave six and a half Louisdors. And the surgeon, as a result, charged him forty Thalers and three Livres. for the visit.
August 5, 1773. Brother Camille, from the monastery at Hayet, at Therese's where he described himself as “The Porter of Chartreux.” Com. Mutel, etc.
September 14, 1763. Brother Firmin at Royer’s, who compared him with those bad readers who begin a book and don’t finish it. Com. Mutel, etc.
Order of St. Antoine:
September 28, 1765. François Vanova, at Lamourette’s, in flagrante delicto by Commissioner Mutel and Inspector Marais.
November 5, 1764. François Terrasse-Desbillon, 52 years old, at Mouton's, where he was enjoying himself in reversed rôles. Com. Mutel, etc.
Deans, Dignitaries and Canons:
April 3, 1764. Blaise Messier, Canon of Beauvais, at Blampié’s. He appeared to have the same views as Rubens, liking his beauties around the 200 pound class. Com. Rochebrune, etc.
August 14, 1761. Marc-Antoine Manuel, of the holy church, at Provençale's, working away. Com. de Ruisseau, etc.
July 8, 1760. Marie Mocet, Bishop of Tours, 60 years old. Gasping away. His hands doing the work of four men.
June 20, 1765. Jean Pierre Pelletier, curé, at Lambert’s, devouring the work of God. Com. Mutel, etc.
August 22, 1760. Pierre Louis Thorin. Zaire in a three-quarter turn. Com. Sirebeau,, etc.
October 27, 1763. Charles Marie Thibault was sent to St. Lazarre, having been found at Aurora's for the third time. A poem was found in his pocket praising what Hebe showed the goddesses.
Doctors of the Sorbonne:
May 9, 1765. J. Baptiste R. who lay inert with his useless firepiece at Guerin’s.
May 23, 1763. Fel. Auguste Tomalle turning over the pages at Denoyer's. His third thesis.
February 24, 1761. P., Teacher of the children of Marquis de P. at Pearl’s. Looking for gems at the altar of Venus. Corn. Sirebeau, etc.
These are some out of a long, long list. A commentary would be superfluous. Facta loquuntur. These facts from authentic documents afford a satisfying proof and justification for the description in de Sade's novels of the orgies of the clergy; and also for the hatred which the priests were looked on not alone by de Sade. Manuel remarked at the end of his tale that no Bishop was named therein. He explained it from the fact that one may not even speak of the illnesses of a Bishop, let alone his sexual adventures.
Besides these reports of Manuel there exists a very great work on the immorality of the French clergy. After the storming of the Bastille in 1789 there were found in that prison two volumes on The Chastity of the Clergy Exposed. Louis XV had the reports of the visits of the clergy in bordellos sent to him every morning. These bulletins were called the Paris Nights. The two volumes contained 189 reports from April 10, 1755 to June 7, 1766. They appeared more to have served "the revival of the dead libido of the king" than the interests of morals and the honor of the king.
In the same category was the affair of the Vicar of Bagnolet with Mademoiselle Mimi. In the autograph collection of Lucas Montigny there is a letter from the Archbishop of Paris to Police Superintendent Le Noir: "I have been informed that the Vicar of Bagnolet when in Paris visits a prostitute, Mimi, who lives in the me Pierre Poissons. If you can verify this, I would be extremely grateful, for I am very interested in discovering the truth."
The letter had the following notation by Le Noir: "Get Quidor to verify the fact immediately and send me his report."
Further interesting details on the conduct of the Parisian clergy are found in the Confessions of a Young Girl. We are introduced to the bordello of Madame Richard. Sapho, (for so the young girl is called), looks through the peephole at the tête-à-tête of the madame with a priest. The madame takes out a cuirass of doubled horse-hair, bordered by a mass of blunted iron nails, enfolds the breast and back of the priest with it, ties him tightly on all sides with heavy cord, fastens an iron chain around his belly, which supports some kind of suspensory around his groin. This suspensory is also braided with strong coarse hair, in a way not preventing the use of the hands on the sources of pleasure. Similar "bracelets" are placed on the wrists. Tumescence then follows. Now the madame begins the flagellation and the other incitations of love.
Sapho tells further how she becomes the mistress of a bishop, whose vicarage follows him in his mode of life and presents a lively picture of the immoral conduct of the clergy in this diocese. She has an adventure with four priests, one of whom is a pederast, having a motto: tout est connus dans une femme.
The sexual dissoluteness of the clergy is also found in poems and pictures. The following verse is to the point:
This poem refers to a Board of Morals composed of the Archbishops of Rheims, Arles, Narbonne, Bourges and Toulouse. This Board of Censorship was indeed a mark of the age! But how they were judged by public opinion these verses best show.
In Persian Letters Montesquieu had Rica visit a monastery library where a monk described the contents of the works. Under the theologians were named especially the casuists, who bring the secrets of night into the daylight; who create in their fantasies all the monsters that the demon of love can produce, collect, compare and form as eternal objects of their thoughts. Yet fortunate if the heart is not enmeshed and does not become the plaything of the many delusions which are so naively described and so nakedly painted!
In this field of "sexual casuistry" we find the Jesuits masters in the eighteenth century. No order understood so well how to legitimize pleasure by religion and how to clothe their own immoral actions with a cover of mysticism and piousness. It was not necessary for the Jesuits to find their pleasures in bordellos (Manuel found only one Jesuit in these resorts, explained also by the fact that they were too clever to be caught in such traps). In his dual rôle as father confessor and teacher it was easy for him to satisfy his, by no means weak, sexual feelings which were protected from police inspection as "divine inspiration." Early in the seventeenth century Cornelius Jansen inveighed against the Jesuit father confessors, “who regulated the gallant sins of the household and permitted the nuns to be fingered lewdly on their bosoms and thighs by their comforters." For the Jesuit Benzi taught expressly: to pinch checks, bosoms, and to shamelessly handle the genitals. As a result of these precepts, de la Chaise, father confessor of Louis XIV, violated the ladies of the court and had mistresses sent to the King of England. Young ladies in Holland let themselves be whipped by the Jesuits for their pleasure. Similarly the ladies in the court in Lisbon under Nunez. The Jesuit Herreau in 1642 taught that it was permissible to use abortive medicines. In the sixteenth century in Lyons the Jesuits influenced the ladies to wear open chemises; this practice was copied in 1789.
The notorious "Theology of Murder" of the Jesuits, in no way inferior to the apology of murder by de Sade, may be originally blamed to the treatise of their founder, J. de Mariana (1599), as well as the famous work of Blaise Pascal, Provincial Letters (1657), describing the entire immorality of the Jesuits. In the eighteenth century the commanders of the order allowed the father confessors obscene tracts, insofar as it was favorable to the order. Thus the last commander of the order before the Revolution, Lorenzo Ricci, wrote on how the young Jesuits ought to act to the young—and rich—widows. They took every possible care to keep them from a second marriage, pointing out indefatigably the inconveniences of such a state, the danger to the soul, etc., etc. "But when in spite of all this the young widows have a great yearning for a second marriage, when they find themselves in the state: it is better to marry than to burn, then a clever and discreet father may offer his services against the seductions of the flesh."
World famous was the scandal of the relation between the Jesuit, Jean Baptiste Girard, and his penitent, Catherine Cadière, which started at Toulon in May, 1782. The affair occasioned an immense literature and served as a model for many pornographic novels. The case was fully documented in The Girard Case (1791). A folio volume of etchings portrayed the most piquant situations; its collection has been variously ascribed to Marquis d'Argens, Count Caylus and Mirabeau. It has also been asserted that Marquis de Sade was moved to write Justine by the above work.
The Jesuit Girard, as rector of the seminary and as naval chaplain at Toulon, had started a private penitential school for women, in which Catherine Cadière, the pretty and pious daughter of a merchant, entered. Girard, by the application of the most cunning sexual mysticism, succeeded in seducing the innocent maiden and utilized fully her visions and dreams for his lustful desires. Carnal flogging, indecent embraces, and the horrible mental prostitution soon lead to acute hysteria and in the course of time she became pregnant, but by reason of Jesuit precepts abortive drugs stopped the process. Finally action was brought against him, but, to the wrath of the public, he was freed.
Voltaire, under a picture of Girard and Cadière, wrote the following verse:
The height of religious sexual mysticism was reached in the cult of the so-called "Satan’s Church." Satan here became the "Personification of the Physical Mysterium of Copulation" as a protest against the exclusive mastery of the "Metaphysical Mysticism of Idolization." The history of this remarkable sect has been written for all time by Stanislaw Przybyszewski in his The Cult of Satan's Church. Satan-Satyr, Satan-Pan, and Satan-Phallus was the ancient "God of instincts and corporeal passions, equally honored by the highest and lowest in spirit, the inexhaustible source of joy in life, enthusiasm and intoxication.
"He taught women the art of seduction, men to satisfy their feelings in their double sexual desires, he ran rim in color, discovered the flute and set the muscles in rhythmical movement, until the divine mania embraced the heart and the divine Phallus with its opulence sowed the fruitful womb."
That was the age of the pagan mysteries of motherhood. Then came the Judeo-Grecan Christianity and preached the supernatural, ascetic mysticism of fatherhood. The church tore man forcefully from nature. "She destroyed the unconscious selection of nature, which expressed itself externally in beauty, power and splendor; she protected everything that nature would uproot: din, ugliness, sickness, cripples and eunuchs." But nature did not allow itself to be rejected. And so the church had to give in and amalgamate the pagan creed with its own. "The bacchanalias at the feasts of Ceres Libera were celebrated with greater freedom than ever before on Lady-day, and until the thirteenth century the people celebrated in common with the priests, lascivious and orgiastic festivals, the feast of the Ass, the feast of the Idiots. The remainder of the Phallus cult stole away to the church; the columns and pillars swarmed with obscene figures, a favorite theme for the reliefs in the church was Noah sleeping with his daughters." But the real cult of "Satan’s Church" was founded by the Manichees in southern France. "From here began the monstrous triumphal procession of Satan through all Europe." The secret societies of "Perfect Beings" formed everywhere, serving exclusively the most obscene sexual vices. "They insulted and stoned the priests, violated the holy objects with their obscene purposes and parodied the Catholic services in their rites." In spite of the persecution of the church the sect and its motto persevered: Nemo potest peccare ab umbilico et inferius; it found command support from "unsatisfied" priests. Sins slay sins! That was the great principle of their sexual orgies. The priest sanctifies all women who sin with him. The nuns are "consecrated," i.e. they become the mistresses of the priests. The black death in the fourteenth century, flagellation, dance-mania, famine, all heightened immeasurably the sexual hysteria. Now the sect of devil worshippers enjoyed their triumphs. Since then, in spite of persecution, they remained in the self-same position and further celebrate their public masses. Even in modern times they have appeared in various forms. The "Adamites" or "Nicolites," "Picards," who congregate nude and enjoy wives in common, were founded by John Ziska on an island in the Luschnitz River. They appeared again in 1848 in five villages as "Moroccanes." The name was chosen due to their expectation of the extirpation of all Catholics by an enemy coming from Morocco. Similarly the name "Oneida" or the older name of "Perfecti," later "Perfectionists" in New York State (since 1831). Even today the Satan cult is carried on in Paris, as is described by J. K. Huysmans, in Là Bas:
The Marquis de Sade gave evidence in his novels of being a fanatic Satanist. Many black masses appeared in Justine and Juliette. A mass in a monastery was fully described in Justine (II, 239). A Maiden, as the Holy Virgin, with arms raised to heaven, was bound in a niche in the church. Later she was laid naked on a great table, candles were lit, a crucifix decorated her buttocks, and "they celebrated on her buttocks the most absurd mysteries of Christianity." Then a mass was read on the same place. As soon as there was a Host of God, she seized the monk Ambrose and held fast to his member, whereby the believers in the Host were derided with the maddest expressions.
Two black masses were read in the privates of two tribades, (Juliette III, 147), then the Host was placed in the dung, after which the main altar became the place of the wildest orgies.
Pope Pius VI, himself, read a black mass in St. Peter's church, the Host being placed in the anus of a young girl.
So many comments have already been made on the life of nuns in the eighteenth century that we can be content with a short description. The Panthémont Convent in Paris described by de Sade (Juliette I, 1 if.) actually existed! "The great convent of the eighteenth century, after the convent at Fontevrault, is Panthémont, the royal convent where the princesses were educated and where the greatest nobles sent their daughters." Panthémont was the most expensive of all convents.
In the eighteenth century the convents were becoming more and more secularized. "The motto of the convent of the Nouvelles Catholiques, vincit mundum fides nostra, had for a long time been a dead letter. The world had stepped into the convent." Of course, the secular students lived separately from the nuns. But nevertheless intercourse between them easily sprung up and the nuns were informed as to the events of the outside world by the lay-sisters. Gossip and scandal were never far from the convent; then, too, the intercourse with the father confessors and the intimate companionship of so many young and old women did not allow the sexual aberrations of the previous centuries to cease in the convents. The brothers de Goncourt wonder how a book like Mademoiselle d'Albert's Escapades of a Jolly Girl could have ever been written at the Panthémont convent. We rather wonder how the de Goncourts in their expressed preference for the eighteenth century, for "the good old times," failed to recognize the immorality in the spiritual convents. It is true we haven't many reliable reports on the French convents. We can find, for example, only a few scandalous stories about the Panthémont convent. But what does that show? The entire spiritual corruption was open as day. From the beginning of the century till the French Revolution clear-seeing minds condemned it with grave reproaches. One reads, for example, the account of this situation, derived from reliable reports, in Buckle's History Of Civilization in England. Or the other citations, the dissolution of the Jesuit order, the historically confirmed intercourse of the confessors with the nuns. Tocqueville says: "The clergy preach of morals but they are compromising by their actions." Buckle calls special attention to this state of affairs in his authoritative work.
What the de Goncourts have further overlooked is the decisive proof: the affairs in the convents became objects of public ridicule in contemporary drama, represented in Lanjon's Nunnery, Papers Johanna, The Dragoon, The Convent Girls, etc. That is shown further by the enormous spread of tribadism in France in the eighteenth century, which we shall later investigate, and which found its favorite center in convents. It is proven finally by the famous novel of Diderot, The Nun, and the many pictures of the corruption in the convents, as well as the erotic writings of the eighteenth century.
So we can well believe de Sade when he said (Juliette, I, 1): "The prettiest and most immoral girls in Paris are those that come from the Panthémont convent" and also when he had the tribade, Zanetti, say (Juliette VI, 156); "The churches serve as bordellos," and when he described an instrument of pleasure, much used by women, as the "jewel of the 'sisters' ".
At any rate, immorality in the convents of neighboring Italy had reached a very high degree. Gorani, whose reliability is well known, reported wild orgies in the Neapolitan convents. The discovery of sexual debaucheries of the nuns at Prato (near Florence) brought to light one of the most noted spiritual scandals of the eighteenth century. Reumont related: In Prato as well as in Pistoia there were firmly entrenched in the Dominican convents disorders of the worst kind, a mixture of pietism and physical aberrations that bordered madness, and which had been no secret to the spiritual leaders for a long time. Some sort of order was established in Pistoia, but in Prato, where most of the compromised nuns were sent, there was an outbreak at Easter in 1781. The Grand Duke led an investigation by the police commissioner, the two principal culprits were locked up at Prato, then sent to Florence for trial. The Dominicans were forced to break all connections with the convent and were threatened with expulsion in case of disobedience. The entire affair made a grand sensation because of the vice and the fact that the nuns who were incriminated came of highly respected parents. A detailed description may be found in the biography of the Bishop of Prato, Scipione de' Ricci, by Potter.
The eighteenth century is, at least in France, the century of women. Georg Brandes rightly believes that the de Goncourts, those refined worshippers of women, felt drawn to the history of the eighteenth century, since "the influence of women was highest at that time." Woman in the Eighteenth Century by the de Goncourts is one of the most pleasant historical works, dealing with the highlights instead of the sidelights of its subject.
There is an unequalled description of the powerful influence of women in the chapter The Mastery and Intelligence of Women of the above work. "The soul of this age, the center of this world, the point from which everything radiates, the mount from which everything descends, the pattern that forms everything else, is the Woman." From the beginning to the end of the century woman ruled: Mesdames de Prie, de Mailly, de Châteauroux, de Pompadour, du Barry, de Polignac. Woman ruled in state, politics, and in society; her influence was felt in every field of life. War and peace were decided by the caprice of a woman, and not by the welfare of France. And in the famous salons of Do Deffand, Necker, Lespinasse, Geoffrin, Grandval, women set the fashion in the discussions of questions of the day and scientific affairs. Here was formed the modern "cultured society."
The age also showed that where the influence of women became predominant, the family broke up, love took on immoral forms, and was accompanied by a contempt for the feminine sex. Love in this age was thoroughly sensual. It had become debauchery. Passion was recruited from the curious; the husband taught his wife all the tricks of love of a mistress. Philosophy aided in justifying debauchery and in apologizing for its shame. "At a supper in the house of a famous actress, at the table of a Quinault, among the obscene talk of a Duclos and Saint-Lambert, one heard women in all stages of sweet drunkenness speak of modesty: Pretty virtue! It should be fastened with pins." Convenient sophisms confused all moral conceptions of the woman. The purely physical love, which was proclaimed as the ideal by naturalism and materialism, finally appeared in woman "in all its brutality."
The sexual relations followed wholly sensual purposes, and those which tried to beautify love were confined to making more pleasant and lasting the coarsest curiosities by light hindrances and by a mixture of such embellishments, which had more appeal to the mind than to the heart. The word "gallantry" received an entirely new meaning. It signified immoral manners and conduct which only differed from the wantonness of common whores by such forms as would increase the pleasure and serve as preservation of the appearance of esteem before the public. Bernhard's famous imitation of Ovid's Art of Love preached conventional behavior in the greatest lewdness. Not much better were the "platonic loves," the "liaisons of society," the "private affairs" of that time. The Abbé Baliani says; "The women did not then love with the heart but with the head." Love was "complete freedom in the making." One realized in it the dirtiest dreams of a decadent artist, the temptations of spiritual corruption, the strangest fancies of an insatiable lechery. Love became an exciting play in which all the refinements of spiritual prostitution were essayed in order to increase the pleasure.
They prepared themselves for these pleasures by indulging in the most obscene conversations. Repeatedly de Sade mentioned in his novels how the pleasures of love were increased by conversations employing the dirtiest words and topics. This experience was taken directly from reality. Mercier tells that the great number of public whores had incited the youths to a very free speech which they used in addressing the most honorable women. The conversation with the most respected women was seldom delicate but reveled in dirty jokes, puns and scandals.
Therefrom resulted an unheard of immodesty in women. At thirty, woman lost the last particle of feeling of shame. There remained but "elegancy in vice," grace in debauchery. The woman took all the counterparts of a male libertine; her great pleasure was "to enjoy fully the shame of her calling." So also the women in de Sade's novels rejoiced and exulted that they were prostitutes, that they belonged to the whole world and could bear the honored name of "whore." Even so pious a soul and so tender a heart as Madame Roland knew no feeling of modesty and reserve. She described herself and her body in all details in her Autobiography; she told of her breasts, hips, legs, etc., so cold-bloodedly that it would avail for a criticism of a statue. Shall we wonder then that de Sade had Juliette describe her own charms with a boundless cynicism (Juliette IV, 103)?
Gated women carried their immodesty so far as to rent petites maisons, just like male roués. Indeed even women from the aristocracy went so far as to seek their pleasure in bordellos. Rétif de la Bretonne recognized Princess d’Egmont as a prostitute in a bordello. Conversely, it was no rarity for a prostitute to marry into polite society. In his Contemporaries, de Ia Bretonne says further: "I have indeed seen something far worse than this: a daughter of a hunchback, after she had passed through the hands of the madames, had a child, lived in the St. Honoré as a public prostitute, etc., etc.; she then married a rich man, had children by him and moved in polite society." Yet another example: Do Barry! Daughter of a low tax-collector, first a model in Paris, then a prostitute in the house of Madame Gourdan, of whom we shall speak more later. Here in the bordello he met Count Jean du Barry, to whose brother she was later married on her advancement to the position of the mistress of Louis XV. No wonder that the aristocracy eagerly copied such an example and inaugurated a true hunt of the beautés populaires. Thence arose a new fashion-word s'encanailler.
Thus the nearer one approaches the time of the Revolution the more moral corruption lay hold of the women of the country. It was prepared and nourished by the famous "convulsions," that remarkable, hysterical epidemic of convulsions lasting from 1727 to 1762 and attacking mainly the lower classes. Its center was the courtyard of the St. Medardus church. "From all quarters of the city the crowds turned to St. Medardus in order to participate in the trances, fits, amps, convulsions and similar ecstasies. The entire courtyard and even the neighboring streets were packed tight with girls, women, invalids of all ages, etc., who strove to outdo one another in convulsions." Women, lying stretched out, begged the spectators to beat their bellies and were not satisfied until the weight of ten or twelve men were piled high on them with full force. Passionate dances, like the famous "saut de carpe" of Abbé Bécherand, soon gave an erotic color to these "convulsions." Dulaure told what final rôle lust played in this notable form of hysteria and how these convulsions assisted in spreading sexual licentiousness. One can recognize the erotism in these convulsions in that the young maidens in their "fits" "never called to women for aid, but always to men, and to young, strong men at that." Hence they dressed very indecently, always showed an inclination for adamite nudeness, assumed lascivious postures, threw longing looks at the young men running to help them. Indeed, some cried out loudly: Da liberos, alioquin moriar! Thus vice and debauchery did not wait in abeyance; when the women in their orgasms invited the men "to use as a promenade their belly, bosom, thighs, etc., to fight with them," there was, of course, the natural result from the absolvement of morals by the convulsions.
Hysteria (Vapeurs) was prevalent with the French women throughout the century. Sauvages rightly holds that the origin of this hysteria was the crass egoism (amour excessif de soi-même), the weak, vicious life of the women of that time. The hysteria libidinosa then also brought to a head notable eccentricities.
Woman in the eighteenth century created what a later age designated as "sadism," and which we shall later define in a significantly broader meaning. The méchanceté, the evil, and the noirceurs, the malicious tricks, became fashionable in love; the sinful sentiment (scélératesse) became a necessary ingredient of sexual pleasure. "Debauchery became an art of cruelty, perfidy, treachery and tyranny. Machiavelli was the master of love." Shortly before the Revolution, after the petits maîtres of love there appeared the grands maîtres of perversity, the heartless advocates of theoretical and practical immorality. With some women debauchery even reached satanism. They tormented respectable women, whose virtue was offensive to them; they also dastardly and with evil joy had the objects of their hate and also their love removed. They embodied the lustful pleasure in evil, the "libertinage des passions méchantes."
Real people gave the stamp to this society; their existence was confirmed by numerous personalities. The de Goncourts named the Duke of Choiseul, the Marquis de Louvois, Count de Frise, etc., as such lustful devils. And a respectable Dame of Grenoble, the Marquise L.T.D.P.M. was the feminine counterpart of these heroes, perhaps the pattern for de Sade’s Juliette. The age of terror for love had broken out long before the reign of terror of the great Revolution, even before de Sade, intoxicated by the flowing blood from the guillotine, depicted in the most notable literary documents: The Terror of Love! And as in the age of terror under Chaumette’s leadership the "theosophical orgies of lust" were celebrated, as the "goddesses of reason” were honored by a Maillard, a Moncore, an Aubry, in their bestial fashion, there suddenly appeared the "tricoteuses de Robespierre," the "flagelleuses" and the horrible "furies de guillotine."
The four greatest thinkers of France in the eighteenth century: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire and Diderot all taught contempt for women. One has only to think of Voltaire's bitterly sarcastic expressions on his true friend Madame Du Chatelet. Woman, according to Rousseau, was created only for man's enjoyment. For Montesquieu man has power and reason, woman only gracefulness. Diderot saw in woman only an object of passion. "So a woman to Diderot is a courtesan, to Montesquieu a graceful child, to Rousseau an object of pleasure, to Voltaire—naught." In the Revolution Condorcet and Sieyès appeared for the family and political emancipation, but their protests were quickly stifled by the “mighty voices of the three great continuers (continuateurs) of the eighteenth century, through Mirabeau, Danton and Robespierre." The reason for this contempt is clear. Marriage, as Westermarck has shown in his classical work, is that institution to which humanity owes its moral perfecting; it is the absolute moral institution. In marriage the woman is of equal rank with the man, since she completes him. Outside of the marriage the woman cannot compensate him and consequently appears inferior.
We close with an almost unbelievable example of the contempt of women. The reference will be found in Buckle's History of Civilization in England, Pact I, Chapter XII: "In the middle of the eighteenth century, there was an actress on the French stage by the name of Chantilly. She, though beloved by Maurice de Saxe, preferred a more honorable attachment, and married Favert, the well-known writer of songs and of comic operas. Maurice, amazed at her boldness, applied for aid to the French crown. That he should have made such an application is sufficiently strange; but the result of it is hardly to be paralleled except in some eastern despotism. The government of France, on hearing the circumstance, had the inconceivable baseness to issue an order directing Favert to abandon his wife, and entrust her to the charge of Maurice, to whose embraces she was compelled to submit (Grimm, Corresp. Lit., Vol. viii, pp. 231-233)."
The French literature of the eighteenth century is brand-marked pornography! At no other time in the history of the world, even under the Caesars, had literature been made a tool of vice in such a systematic fashion as in the ancien régime. Of course, the representation of sexual passion was an old story in French literature, and was even present in the numerous fabliaux of the middle ages; but it was not until the eighteenth century that the healthily coarse naturalism and naiveness of these older forms of erotic stories were replaced with pictures of sensuality, whose studied premeditation served as a malignant stimulus to an enervated society. The eighteenth century produced the greater part of the pornographic literature existing today; and in the number of individual erotic works more than all the other centuries combined. The lion's share in the production of pornography falls in the period from 1770 to 1800 when only eroticism could move the public. These books made the worship of flesh their main theme. They recognized nothing but lascivious experiences and all the forms of sexual pleasure. The bordello was a paradise, the prostitute far nobler than the most faithful wife. "What age has so dirtied itself with obscene books as this great century?" asked Janin, "that even men like Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Montesquieu and Mirabeau fashioned their works accenting to the taste of the time." Shortly before and during the Revolution machlosophy appears to have suppressed all nobler motives. The bookstores were literally pornographic libraries. Mercier declared in 1796: "Only obscene books are displayed, especially those whose title-page and frontispiece mock and jeer at modesty and good taste. Everywhere these monstrosities are sold in baskets and pushcarts near the bridges, the doors of the theatres and the open streets. The poison is not expensive: ten sous a book." The principal market was the notorious Palais Royal, of which we shall later speak. This center of all vice was also the principal market for the obscene writings that flooded Paris. One found these works even in the toilette rooms of Parisian ladies. Bernard has an interesting tale about this which also serves to show the enormous spread of the writings of Marquis de Sade: "A respectable lady both in age and position had written out a list of books she intended to take to the country for herself and children and asked me to procure them for her. On the list was Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue, which she thought was a pedagogical work!" That such writings were plentiful in bordellos was not strange and, indeed, such is the case today. Napoleon I ordered all such books found in the possession of prostitutes to be seized and destroyed; only one example of each to be saved for the National Library where they were still preserved in a special corner of the building.
De Sade forever talked of obscene books. Juliette and Clairwil ransacked the dwelling of a Carmelite monk, Claude, and found a select library of pornography. Juliette said: "You have no idea what obscene books and pictures we found there!" First they note the Porter of Chartreux, "more a comic than a dirty book, which the author, nevertheless, is supposed to have written on his death bed." Second, the Academy of Ladies, well conceived but poorly carried out. Third, the Education of Laura, a wretched work which had too little vice, murders and gouts crûels for Juliette. Finally, The Philosopher Therese, the enchanting book of Marquis d'Argens with pictures by Caylus, the only one of the four books that combined vice and atheism. And the monk had, of course, a number of the "wretched brochures that we found in all the cafés and bordellos."
The Marquis de Sade, indeed, intended his works to serve as models for all later obscene works.
We present as an orientation a short survey of the most important French erotica of the eighteenth century. For a complete list the student is referred to Gay's Bibliography of Erotica (six volumes).
The Ovid of the Eighteenth Century was Pierre Joseph Bernard (1708-1775). In 1761 appeared his l'Art d’aimer, a verse imitation of Ovid's Art at Love. Nevertheless it caused great excitement and was present in the toilette table of every respectable lady. The verses were bound together with rose-bands and were appropriately about billing and cooing. But these latter were very passionate and the plainness of speech compared with Ovid. Bernard enfolded in his poem a whole course of refined sexual life, in which he recommended strongly the reading of piquant works.
The younger Crébillon (Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon, 1707-1777) can be called the real creator of lascivious writings in the eighteenth century. His writings were characterized by an "elegant cynicism and graceful vice." The most famous was The Sofa, a Moral Tale, whose title indicates the content of the work. Of a similar kind were The Loves of Zeo Kinizal, King of Cofirons (1746), which described the love adventures of Louis XV; The Night and The Moment (1755), Oh! What a Story! (1751), The Sins of the Heart and the Spirit (1796), etc. In Crébillon's novels the tendency is apparent: to prettify and justify the commonest sensuality with a philosophic cover.
Jean François Marmontel (1723-1799) created the type of anti-clerical novel in The Incas, and had unmistakable influence on the representation of the clergy in later erotic novels.
Sidelights on the History of M. Dirrag and Mlle. Eràdicée, in addition to the case of Girard (Dirrag) and Cadière (Eràdicée), portrayed the sexual debaucheries of the Jesuits. De Sade, as we have seen, ascribed this work to Marquis d'Argens and the pictures to Count Caylus.
André Robert Andréa de Nerciat (1739-1800) was for two years librarian in Cassel and was later confidant of Queen Charlotte at Naples. He wrote the notorious Félicia and a sequel Monrose or a Libertine by Fate.
That pornography at that time was fashionable and in good taste was shown most strikingly by the circumstance that the greatest figures of the age did not disdain the earning of this cheap fame. We have already mentioned that savant of the classical times, Caylus. But such men as Mirabeau and Diderot did not shrink from sullying their literary work by the production of obscene stories. Mirabeau especially was often quoted by de Sade and there is no doubt that Mirabeau’s Education of Laura served as the model for Philosophy in the Boudoir. In My Conversion Mirabeau described the experiences of a male prostitute, who had respectable ladies, nuns, etc., pay for his services. A third obscene book of Mirabeau’s was Erotica Biblion (1783).
In Denis Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist were presented obscene stories that put him below Crébillon's class. His famous The Sister which, "when first published, was thought to have been written by a nun, dealt with the torture to which a nun was put by the perverse lubricity of her abbess, for whom, it was said, Diderot found a model in the Abbess of Chelles, a daughter of the Regent, and thus a member of a family which for several generations showed a marked tendency to inversion." (Havelock Ellis in Sexual Inversion.) His Indiscreet Joys was also erotic and contained a number of paradoxical assertions and paronomasias in the sexual field; this feature probably gave occasion to de Sade's preference for Diderot.
Choderlos de Laclos was the Petronius of "a less literary and more degenerate epoch than that of the real Petronius." His much quoted Dangerous Liaisons described the corruption of the aristocracy, of which the author, the friend of the notorious Philippe Egalité, has first-hand knowledge.
Less cynical in his description of the debaucheries of the nobility was J. B. Louvet de Couvray who drew the type of the "chevalier" in his Loves of Chevalier de Faublas. In Faublas' rich love-adventures the hero (borrowed from the artificial effeminization of the real Chevalier d’Eon) played a rôle also found at the end of Juliette where Noirceuil, dressed as a woman, married a man.
Next to the Marquis de Sade the most famous erotic writer of the Revolutionary period was the productive Restif (Rétif) de la Bretonne. We shall later evaluate Rétif de la Bretonne as one of the first critics of de Sade. We are at present interested in him only as a contemporary of de Sade and in his influence upon him. It was plainly Rétif, whom de Sade referred to unfavorably in his novels: "R… floods the public and needs a printing press next to his bed. By good fortune they groan alone under his frightful products; a dull decrepit style, nauseous adventures in the worst society; no other merit but a great verbosity for which only the store-keepers will be thankful." May not professional jealousy have played a part in his judgment? We will later see that Rétif did not think much better of de Sade. It may also be that the highborn Marquis thought himself far removed from the lowborn Rétif.
Indeed Rétif de la Bretonne (1734-1806) mainly occupied himself with the representation of the moral corruption in the lower classes, thus supplementing the work of Marquis de Sade, with whom he had otherwise much in common. Eulenburg declares: "An infinitely closer figure to de Sade than Rousseau is that Rousseau du ruisseau Rétif de la Bretonne. He was lashed by a powerful sensuality and driven into a kind of exhibitionism by the idolatry of the ego. Therefore he was unequalled in understanding how to analyze the origin, essence and power of sexual life and to devote the ego to a greatly refined worship." There we have the germs of a literary de Sade but far weaker, more passive and less passionate. Were Rétif more active and impulsive, of a less contemplative nature, and were the means and milieu of the célébré Marquis given to the poor peasant's son from youth onward, then perhaps a second de Sade would have resulted, who would have been literally equal in power and in sensitiveness of description. Not aimlessly does Rétif praise above all this unusual sensitiveness, this "sensibility, sometimes delicate, sometimes horrible, cruel and wicked." We add to the characteristics of this remarkable writer that he was a passionate connoisseur of women and, unsatisfied with his very numerous mistresses, would run after every pretty girl he met on the street, and would not rest until he had made her acquaintance. He was personally of the greatest uncleanliness. He writes in the Contemporaries: "Since 1773 till today, December 6, 1796, I have brought no new clothes. I have no underwear. An old blue coat is my daily garment." Rétif hence loved cleanliness—in women. He continually spoke thereof, gave detailed information in this connection in his Pornography, and approved the spread of this virtue among the Parisian prostitutes.
Despite his own patient observations he did not hesitate to avail himself of the adventures of others. Count Alexander of Tilly told in his Memoirs that Rétif de la Bretonne came to him with the request that he tell him his erotic adventures so that he could put them in a book. Very important was the relation of Rétif to Mathieu François Pidanzat de Mairobert (1727- 1797), the famous author of The English Spy and the editor of Secret Memoirs of Bachaumont. The latter not only had his works printed at the secret press of Rétif but also collaborated with him in many works. One valuable treatise that appeared from there was Rétif's Pornography on the sixteen classes of prostitutes and panders. Also the Contemporaries, the Owl and the Paternal Malediction were enriched by Pidanzat de Mairobert.
The greatest work of Rétif was undoubtedly Nights of Paris, an inexhaustible thesaurus for the moral life in the Revolutionary period, the only representation of its kind of the moral physiognomy of Paris at the end of the eighteenth century, the true Nocturnal Tableaux of Paris, whose content rendered necessary a twenty years' work. "Every morning," said Rétif, "I wrote down what I had seen in the night." The result was eight voluminous volumes from which unfortunately space does not permit us to quote.
In Monsieur Nicolas (Paris, 1794-1797, 16 vols.) Rétif de la Bretonne told the story of his life more truthfully than the authors of such similar works as Faublas, Clarissa and Heloise. Of especial interest is the thirteenth volume, My Calendar, in which Rétif, day by day, wrote down all the women, whose acquaintance he had made and whom he had seduced and made pregnant.
His Contemporaries is a collection of tales that are founded on actual experiences. The heroes of these adventures were supposed to have authorized the author to use their real names. They are essentially tales of the moral life of the people.
The Farmer and the Perverted Farmer's Wife or the Dangers of the City are the liaisons dangereuses of the lower classes, which preach the sad truth that virtue through constant intercourse with vice necessarily is destroyed.
Fanchette's Feet is the story of a young modist from the Rue Saint-Denis, whose small foot enchanted Rétif, for he was an outspoken foot-fetichist. He had a fanatic passion for pretty women's feet and shoes. Franchette's feet are indeed the heroes of the story.
"Her foot, her small foot, that turns so many heads was shod with a pink pump, so beautifully made and as worthy of enclosing such a beautiful foot that my eyes once fixed on that charming foot could not turn themselves away. Beautiful foot! I said very softly, you don't walk on Persian or Turkish carpets, a beautiful carriage does not guarantee you the fatigue of carrying that superb body, that masterpiece of the graces, but you have an eternal throne in my heart."
He really did see "Franchette" one day in the Rue Saint-Denis, and her feet, "her wonderfully small feet," inspired him to write the story.
The work of Rétif that sounded most like those of the Marquis de Sade was Innocent Saxancour or the Divorced Woman, supposedly the story of his unhappily married daughter, Agnes. Rétif in this work "crossed the boundaries of the boldest cynicism" and the author himself said that one will find in the work "all things that are called atrocities.” The unfortunate wife after the marriage had to submit to all the moods of a degenerate roué from her husband; she suffered the most unbelievable infamies and horrors of her passionate tyrant.
We will refer to some other works of his in a later, more pertinent section. In conclusion to our short survey, which stresses only the characteristic works, we wish to remark on two very well known obscene poems of the eighteenth century. The first is Fourtromania, a Lascivious Poem far Connoisseurs. It contained six stanzas, each of 600 verses. The "foutroamania" is the good luck of the gods, that drives away the boredom. But it also makes men happy. The author led the dance of these fortunates with Mlle. Dubois, an actress of the Comédie Française. Then follow the ladies Aroux and Clarion. At the end of the first stanza appear the duchesses and ladies of the court, who satisfy themselves with their lackies. Finally the inexhaustible libido of old Polignac de Paulien is described.
The second stanza starts with the description of the charms of a young girl, who succumbs to the passions of a young roué. Inserted is a poem Father Chrysostome against sexual debaucheries in the convents. Later a man suffering from satyriasis breaks into the convent. Then follows an attack on tribadism and pederasty. The old Due d'Elboeuf was one of the first who introduced the sect of pederasts to France. The conclusion is an excursion on syphilis.
The third stanza is almost entirely devoted to the rôle of syphilis in love. First the high perfection in the healing of this grave ailment is praised; then the "syphilitic heroes of love" are extolled. Archbishop of Lyons, Sire de Montazet, etc., are named together with the Duchesse de Mazarin. After highly indecent expressions on the Duke of Orleans and Madame de Montesson the liaison between the Duchess of Orleans and de I'Aigle as well as de MeIfort is disclosed, the last two receiving syphilis from the duchess. Finally, high praise for Aretino, the discoverer of the “plastic positions."
The fourth stanza is devoted to the praise of the bordellos. The famous procuresses and madames are presented: Paris, Cardier, Rockingston, Montigny, d’Hericourt and Gourdan. Description of the orgies in these infamous resorts. "Bed and Board" must then follow, hence German women are more susceptible to "foutromania." The author curses Italy where he lost health and wealth.
In the fifth stanza the syphilophobias are encouraged. Not all women have syphilis. Montesquieu had been in the fire as had been Rousseau and Marmontel. Great praise for Dorat, the poète foutromane. The Hollanders who love only money. Description of the immoral cardinals. Spinola sleeps at Palestrina's, Albani at Altieri's, Bernis at Saint-Croix, Borghese is… It's too bad that the "Dames de France," the aunts of Louis XVI, live in celibacy.
Agyroni, the author of a popular work on the therapy of syphilis, is the hero of the sixth stanza. This charlatan had indeed cured the author of his complaint. Numerous medical details as in Robé’s poem on syphilis. For a conclusion, “foutromania” is again praised as the soul of the universe.
The second poem, Parapilla, is a translation of the Italian original Il Cazzo (Phallus), the favorite word of Pope Benedict XIV. When a courtier pointed to the obscenity of the word, he replied: "Cazzo, cazzo! I will repeat it until it no longer sounds dirty." The French poem consists of five stanzas whose content, in short, is: Rodric receives from Heaven a certain instrument that makes all women happy. Firstly in Florence, the famous Donna Capponi. Then it thrives in a nunnery in the hands of Lucrezia, the daughter of Alexander VI. The debaucheries of this pope in Rome are then described and the poem closes with an obscene conversation between him and his daughter.
We could only touch on the most important erotic works of the French literature of the eighteenth century. Their influence on morals was tremendous and the Marquis de Sade was sensible of this influence. In his Ideas on the Novel he showed that he had recognized the significance of pornography. He said: "The epicureanism of Ninon de Lenclos, Marion de Lorme, Marquise de Sévigné and de Lafare, Chaulieu, St. Evremond, this entire society, tired of mere cytheric love, turned to Buffon, held that only bodily passions were worthwhile in love, and soon changed the style in novels. The writers found it simpler to amuse and corrupt these women than to serve and glorify them. They created incidents, descriptions and conversations more in the spirit of the time and developed its cynicism and immorality in a pleasant, easy and at times philosophic style."
The French art of the eighteenth century was also a true mirror of the time. Architecture, painting, theatre and dance all served in excitation of the senses. The famous "rococo" was nothing less than a picture of harmony. Rococoism followed the inspirations of the artistically excited senses in the preference for detailed ornamentation, in intricate interlaced lines, in the representation of passionate scenes and delicately conceived "nudités." A splendid description of the graphic arts and especially of architecture was given by Georg Brandes: "What was sought after in architecture under Louis XIV was the impressive. Heavily interlaced and cumbersome details were the general style. The petites maisons of the time were a prerequisite of the man of the world. Every part of the room was designed to excite the mind. Indeed all the rooms smelled of passionate perfume…”
The eighteenth century was expressed even more clearly in its painting than in its architecture. The desire for something new "to delight the blasé appetites" gave the artists a cunning talent for inventiveness. Fragonard, Lancret, the painter of fêtes galantes, disdained the simple naive nudity of the goddesses of Lebrun and Nicholas Mignard. Their baigneuses and bergères are no longer mythological figures but Parisian prostitutes who are displayed in voluptuous positions in bath or bed. These pleasant naiads and coquettish shepherdesses with bare breasts and more or less revealing dress were women of the time, ladies, "very much in vogue at the little parties at Trianon and Lucrinnes."
If books worked so much for the glorification of sexual passions, then their graphic representation must have been a thousand times more effective. "The realism of the painter shows itself in actions and in words, in books and in songs; it is bound to exert a bold influence on the youth by overexciting the sexual senses." And the Marquis de Sade, who told in his novels all the possible means of increasing sexual pleasure, had Saint Fond cry out after a wild orgy: "Oh! A painter should be here now so that he might hand down to posterity this passionate and divine picture!"
Hence it could not fail but happen that after the piquant Nudités of Fragonard and Lancret all sorts of obscene pictures would spread enormously. It was not unusual for mistresses to have painted for their lovers pictures or casts of themselves in the nude. Well known is the story of O'Morphi, mistress of Louis XV, inmate of the Deer Park, and for whom Louis XV had to thank the famous adventurer Casanova in this wise. Casanova, in one of his many love-adventures in Paris, had made the acquaintance of a Flemish actress, O'Morphi, who had a young sister of surpassing beauty, whose charms Casanova enthusiastically described. He had a painting made of this splendid body in the "divine manner" for six louisdors. The posture in which she was painted was "entrancing." "She lay on her belly, resting her arm and bosom on a cushion and held her head turned about as if lying three-fourths on her back. The artist has painted her bottom part with such great talent and truth that it is impossible to imagine anything more beautiful." A friend of Casanova was very eager to procure a copy of this painting. The painter exhibited in Versailles this copy which Saint-Quentin found so beautiful that be rushed off with it to the king. "His most Christian majesty, a great connoisseur in this field, wanted to convince himself with his own eyes whether the painter had made a true copy, and whether the original was as beautiful as the copy." Thus Casanova lost his mistress to Louis XV, who, after a payment of one thousand louisdors to her sister, had her brought to his Deer Park, where after a year she came down with child. The infant was immediately spirited away lest the queen be disturbed.
Casanova later showed this famous picture to a French nun in Aix, with whom he had an affair. The nun, too, had herself painted for Casanova, in the same obscene posture.
Especially before the Revolution the most immoral pictures were distributed in and about the bordellos without hindrance from the police. From 1790 to 1793 the most shameful caricatures of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, etc., were distributed to the customers in the bordellos. One can truly say that these places contributed greatly to the political breakdown of France. In the Reign of Terror such pictures were to be found not alone in the bordellos but in public shops and galleries where the boldest pictures imaginable of the most strange and obscene pictures hung in open display.
That erotica were richly illustrated with obscene pictures is understood. The novels of Marquis de Sade were no exception to the rule. We shall return later to this subject.
La Chronique Scandaleuse reported a remarkable hiding place for obscene pictures, "a new kind of obscenity, an epoch-making discovery." This was the vestes de petits-soupers. According to the fashion of that time coats or jackets were buttoned to the neck; hence the vests or waistcoats could not be seen. But during the orgies the gay young bloods would unbutton their jackets and show their vests decorated with paintings and stickers, which showed with true fidelity the very orgies themselves!
There was still another kind of obscene pictures we must discuss. For de Sade defecation was also an object of pleasure and passion. The faeces were delicious and were swallowed by men and women as a great delicacy. One can hardly believe it! Even the act of defecation was presented before the eyes of the Parisians. Reichart tells that poems, essays and pictures, all describing, praising and extolling this act were offered on every corner to passersby. Even respectable persons bought these pamphlets and treated the whole matter as a rich joke.
Sculpture also tried to extol the purely sensual in its limited fashion. Virgin nudity was profaned by the expression of sensual love. The women were almost always represented as petites filles, lascivious courtesans, wanton shop-girls, etc.
André Grétry, the chief representative of French music of the eighteenth century, who loved "filles et fillettes" all the time, showed in his musical works no noble passion but only lust.
That Marquis de Sade was a true product of the age was shown by the fact that he also was bitten by the mania of the age; "thespian madness, mimomania." He not only wrote many plays but also directed some amateur productions. The passion for the theater, the "mimomania," ruled in France during the entire century with a force scarcely comprehensible to us today. Throughout the entire country amateur societies sprung up.
There was a theatre in every castle, in every noble house. "It is an unbelievable mania," said Bachaumont, "even every pimp wants to have a stage and troupe in his home!" Theatrical madness also ran in the circle of the clergy. Louis XV, of course, by Pompadour's influence, had the plays presented in the Court.
The drama, especially in the last decade before the Revolution, had taken on an ever freer character. We have already mentioned Lanyon's convent plays. Shortly before and during the Revolution there came a real flood of obscene comedies against the king and church. The number of these so-called Pièces révolutionnaires is very great. The most extreme are by Guigoud Pigale (The Triumph of Public Reason), Léonard Bourdon (The Grave of Imposters of the Temple of the Revolutionary Truth, dedicated to the Pope), Sylvain Maréchal (The Last Judgments of the King), Desbarreaux (The Potentates Crushed by the Mountain and the Reason or the Deportation of the Kings of Europe). In the last-named play the princes of Europe quarrel about a piece of land. The Empress Catherine says to the Pope; "Have you swallowed your piece, Holy Father?" He answers: "Don't worry, you'll have the first try." Thereupon he boxes the ears of the King of Prussia who retaliates by stepping on his corns, and so the merry conversation proceeds with familiarities and obscenities.
The Marquis de Sade had a further model in the notorious Théâre gaillard for his obscene comedies which he had his fellow-prisoners play in Bicêtre and in Charenton. The obscenity went further than mere words. In April, 1791, there existed in the Palais Royal a public theatre where a so-called savage and his mate, both nude, before the eyes of a crowded audience of both sexes, went through the act of coition. Coitus as a play! That must have pleased the numerous voyeurs of the city, who appear in de Sade's novels. La Mettrie had already said: "The pleasure that other people's pleasure afford us" in his Art of Joy. The magistrate finally had both actors summoned before him. It was discovered that the Savage was a rascal from the suburb St. Antoine and that the female was a common whore who earned her money in this wise from the curious spectators.
The actresses, opera singers, chorus and ballet girls formed a very desirable number of the prostitutes, whom we shall treat of later. The foyers of the theatres were the "favorite hunting grounds for paramour, pander and prostitute."
Clothing! That can make women seem more desirable by showing just slight hints of charms and arousing the passions of both sexes. That is the rôle which Marquis de Sade had Minister Saint Fond impart to fashion. Saint Fond also recommended to Juliette that she should show herself half naked in the streets to the public if she wanted to remove her last vestige of modesty.
Here, too, de Sade let reality speak. The advice of Saint Fond was actually followed. "On a quiet day of the year V of the Revolution two women paraded up and down the Champs-Elysées, completely nude and covered only with a thin gauze. Many women also showed themselves with wholly base bosoms. The sight was not unusual."
The blaséness was shown in remarkable conceits. Young men and women tried to better nature and borrowed the white hair of age. The de Goncourts excellently describe the incessant changes in fashion in their bizarre fancies, their delicate concealment and unveilment, the gigantic friseurs of the women, their "make-up," beauty spots and patches, etc. Fashion paid homage to the age.
The nearer one comes to the time of the Revolution the more does nudity appear in fashion. The style of gauze, the preference for gossamer becomes more apparent. The clothing of the "Goddesses of Reason" becomes ever more transparent. Clothing retreated to the center to show its opposite semicircles, bosom and legs. Ankle bracelets and golden rings on the toes were the fashion. Terpsichore, in the Greek fashion, reigned in the public gardens. A journalist who attended the opening of the Parisian Tivoli, declared that the goddesses appeared in such light and transparent dress that nothing was left to the imagination. "The women in the audience are dressed as outrageously as possible. The indecency of their behavior is impossible to describe. In the last great ball in the opera house Madame Tallien appeared garbed only with jewels in the necessary place." These costumes, whose wearers were called merveilleuses, had been introduced in Paris by Therese Cabarries, the mistress of Tallien, after she thus publicly showed herself in the Reign of Terror in Bordeaux. The male merveilleuses were called incroyables and clothed themselves according to the ideal of offensiveness. For during the Revolution the highest ideal was not beauty but power and strength of muscles. Don Juan was changed to Hercules.
The perverse sexual impulses also found expression in fashion. The wide spread paedicatio, also practiced between man and woman, brought the notable fashion of the so-called "Cul de Paris." It spread to such an extent that even the prostitutes delighted in this form of passion, since it was the "style." Under Louis XVI the seat in women's dress was so extended that they resembled "Venus Hottentote."
On the other hand, tribadism was a cause of rather strange costumes. The tribades with male inclinations had remarkably increased during the Reign of Terror. The virago on the streets was a daily incident. Her costume differed little from the man's. Since her hair was cut close and her voice was strident, it took a good look to make sure of the sex.
Marquis de Sade had made his studies for his two notorious novels Justine and Juliette in Paris. Here he, himself, experienced and conceived the greater part of the contents. Parisian incidents and experiences had permanently fructified his phantasy. And the models for the descriptions of individuals in his works are easy to discover. This will be shown in surprising fashion in the discussions of prostitution and sexual life in Paris. Even today Paris justifies the remark of Montesquieu in his Persian Letters: "It is the most sensual city in the world where the fanciest pleasures are invented." De Sade's description of the great bordello with its ingenious contrivances and settings refers almost entirely to Parisian bordellos. Most of his heroines are Parisian prostitutes. It is therefore fitting that we should cost consider these conditions.
In Juliette, (I, 87) the Marquis de Sade describes the bordello of Duvergier in a suburb of Paris. This madame had a bordello for both men and women. In a private house, surrounded by a pretty garden, Madame Duvergier had her own cook, delicious wine and charming maidens who received ten lounsdors for a tête-à-tête. The house had the requisite back entrance for safeguarding of propriety. The furniture was of the best; the boudoirs most fitting for their purposes. Duvergier, protected by the police, could celebrate more atrocities than her fellow-madames. The bordello supplied princes, nobles, and rich citizens with its wares.
When Juliette organized a house in Paris, six pimpesses (maquerelles) were sufficient to provide for girls from Paris and the provinces. Clairwil introduced Juliette, into the house of the "Society of the Friends of Crime," which lay in the heart of Paris but was discreetly concealed. It had splendid drawing-rooms, boudoirs, cabinets d’aisance and harems or, as de Sade called them, seraglios in which both sexes disported themselves in wild orgies. The girls were, for the most part, torn from their parents, under the protection of the police. Here the respectable world was assisted by hangmen, jailers, floggers and flagellants (Juliette III, 33 ff.).
Alcide Bonneau believes that the Deer Park served de Sade as a pattern for his descriptions of bordellos. Nonetheless de Sade had made a thorough study of Parisian bordellos and had found many incidents to his liking. He wrote (Juliette I, 333) that in many bordellos in Paris turkey-cocks were much esteemed for lustful purposes in zoophilia. At any rate it cannot be denied that de Sade took his descriptions of Parisian bordellos from actual experiences. Authentic reports will conclusively confirm this. The most notorious bordellos of Paris, the secret pornologic clubs and the affairs of the prostitutes will be described in later sections.
The most famous, most sought after, most mentioned Parisian bordello in the Eighteenth Century was the House of Madame Gourdan on Rue des Deux Portes; under the reign of Louis XV and Louis XVI it served the court and nobility. This bordello was distinguished by the genteel attempt to satisfy every desire of male and female visitors. A short description of the place is appended.
1. The "Seraglio." This was a great salon with "plastrons de corps-de-garde," i.e., twelve prostitutes who had always to be in a position such as to satisfy any whim of the visitor. There the price and details of their pleasure were agreed upon. Even the minute details were stipulated. Pidanzat de Mairobert at this description in The English Spy cries out: "Just imagine the horrors and infamies that took place in such a house!"
There is no doubt that de Sade expressed such a great preference for the word "seraglio" from this salon of Madame Gourdan. De Sade also discussed the understandings on the price of love in his novels and was particularly concerned with the analysis of the details for preparing an orgy.
2. The "Piscine." This was the bathroom of the bordello, where the girls, fresh from the provinces, were sent to the madame. There they were bathed, powdered and perfumed. Among the many essences and toilet waters was the famous Eau de Pucelle. This was a strong astringent with which Madame Gourdan renewed "lost beauties" and restored that "which can be lost only once." Marquis de Sade often mentioned this remarkable miracle which will be discussed later under the section: Cosmetics and Aphrodisiacs. Also in the piscine was the Essence a l’usage des monstres, which made impotent persons potent again by its strong odor and excited them to passionate cruelty. The specific of Doctor Guilbert de Préval (we shall later say more of this charlatan) was truly a magic charm. For it served at one blow as a prevention, diagnosis and cure of syphilis! Truly a sexual panacea!
3. The "Cabinet de Toilette." Here the students of the Venus-seminar received their second lessons.
4. The "Salle de Bal." From this classroom a secret passageway led into the home of a merchant on Rue Saint Sauveur. Through his house the prelates and preachers (gens à simarre) as well as respectable ladies could enter the bordello. In this secret room were clothing of all kinds as well as "objects of delicacy." Here the clergy could turn into laymen, officials into soldiers, ladies into cooks. Here the respectable ladies permitted unflinchingly the powerful embraces of a coarse peasant, whom her trusty madame had chosen to satisfy her indomitable temperament. On the other hand the peasant believed her to be one of his own kind and was little embarrassed in expression and action.
5. The "Infermerie." This was the room for the impotent. The attendants tried to incite and arouse drooping spirits by all possible means. The light fell from above; on the walls were passionate pictures; in the corners stood similar statues; on the table lay obscene books. In the alcove was a bed of black silk; its top and sides consisted of plate-glass so that it mirrored and reflected all the objects and actions of this pretty boudoir. Perfumed thorny switches served for flagellation. Dragées- pastilles in all colors were offered for food; "only one was needed to make one feel like a new man." They were called Pastilles à la Richelieu because he had often given them to women as aphrodisiacs. Women were also taken care of in this Infermerie. There were present so-called pommes d'amour, little balls of stone, to satisfy them. Mairobert could not discover if "the chemists had analyzed this stone which had a decided chemical reaction and was often made use of by the Chinese." The consolateur was an ingenious instrument "found in convents" as a substitute for a man. Madame Gourdan did a wholesale business with this artificial phallus. In her possession were numberless letters from abbesses and simple nuns asking her to send them a consoler. Great, black rings, so-called aides, served the men as artificial irritations in women. Many of these rings were covered with hard studs for increasing the pleasure. Finally there was a whole arsenal of redingotes d’Angleterre, which are today called condoms, and which, as Mairobert has it, "protect from the virus of love but dull the pleasure." Madame de Sevigné called it "protector of pain and despoiler of pleasure" in one of her letters.
6. The "Chambre de la Question." This was a private room in which one could see through a secret peephole all that took place. A contrivance for voyeurs.
7. The "Salon des Vulcan." In it was a fauteuil of a strange form. The moment one sat in it, one was snuck a heavy blow. The person sank backwards with outstretched legs, which were fastened to the sides. This chair was a discovery of Sire de Fronsac, son of the Duke of Richelieu, and served him as a faithful aid to seduction. The Salon des Vulcan was so situated that the crying and wailing could not be heard outside the room. This mechanization of vice will also be found in de Sade's writings.
Gourdan was the leading madame for the respectable world. She could satisfy all desires and was extremely wealthy. In Villiers le Bel she had a private country house in the forest to which she seldom went but often sent her sick and pregnant girls. The villa also served as a useful hiding place for especially delicate debaucheries. It was ironically called by the peasants the convent.
There were two kinds of madames in Paris; first, the seducers of virgins, second, purveyors of already deflowered maidens. Only the first were punished by being forced to ride backwards on an ass. Gourdan belonged to the second class and took care that her novices were officially prostituted by one of her assistants. But the head-madames had also to make regular reports of the physical health of their girls. We shall later give such a report.
In the House of Gourdan the mistresses were educated for the respectable world. The later Countess Du Barry had to thank her resplendent career to her early stay at the bordello of Madame Gourdan. Many aristocrats also sought new pleasures here. A respectable lady, Madame d'Oppy, was discovered in 1776 by the police at Gourdan's where she was officiating as a prostitute.
On November 14, 1773, Madame Gourdan delivered a funeral oration on her deceased colleague, Justine Paris, which was printed in The English Spy and is so full of sadism that we append a short summary of it. The idea for this funeral oration was conceived by Prince Conti, one of the most notorious adventurers of the ancien régime. It was read at an orgy in Conti's home. The "Funeral Oration of the very proud and very powerful Lady, Madame Justine Paris, Grand Priestess of Cytherea, Paphos, Amathonte, etc., given November 14, 1773, by Madame Gourdan, fellow Priestess, in presence of all the nymphs of Paris" has the characteristic motto:
On their dying-bed Justine's parents preach to her that immorality is the only redemption for the future. "Don't count the days you haven't consecrated to pleasure!" Justine immediately transposed this advice into action, which one finds on almost every page in the novels of Marquis de Sade, and dedicated herself to the advice of her parents. She then entered a Parisian bordello, where she made great advances in the service of Venus and became famous through an affair with the Turkish ambassador. Trips to England, Spain and Germany taught her to be phlegmatic with the Englishmen, serious with the Spaniards, and ardent (emportée) with the Germans. She finally came to Italy and in Rome was the "Queen of the World and the centre of Paillardise." She traveled through all Italy, honored and coveted by nobles and clergy. Unfortunately she was attacked from time to time by her hereditary syphilis but that did not prevent her at her return to Paris from celebrating new orgies, winning success and great honor as the proprietor of a bordello. She ended in a hospital.
Could this funeral oration have been unknown to Marquis de Sade? It is hardly probable; it is almost certain that Madame Paris was the prototype for Juliette who was celebrated throughout all Italy, in Florence, Rome and Naples as the queen of the world and as the ideal prostitute.
Casanova, the famous confidant, whose historic trustworthiness is attested by Barthold, told in his Confessions of a visit in 1750 to the bordello of Paris, the so-called HôteI du Roule, and presented a living picture of the life and action in a Parisian bordello of the eighteenth century, which may here serve as an addition to the more systematic description of the house of Gourdan.
"The HôteI du Roule was famous in Paris, but was as yet unknown to me. The proprietress has furnished it elegantly and has from twelve to fourteen splendid girls. One finds there all the desirable comforts: good table, good beds, cleanliness; her cook was excellent, her wine splendid.
"She is called Madame Paris, undoubtedly a pseudonym that pleases all.
"Protected by the police, she was far enough from Paris to be certain that the visitors to her place were persons well above the middle-class.
"The inside was well policed by servants, and all pleasures had a fixed tariff.
"One paid six francs for breakfast with a nymph, twelve for a dinner and double that for a night."
Here we pause for a moment and declare that the above description of Casanova tallies almost word for word with the description of Duvergier's in de Sade's Juliette. The house of Duvergier was just like that of Justine Paris.
Casanova died in 1798; his memoirs reaching only to 1773 remained in manuscript form long after his death and were not made public until 1822. Juliette appeared early in 1797. The only conclusion to be drawn is that both men have described independently the same bordello. To return to the description of Casanova.
"We enter a fiacre and Zatu says to the driver: 'To Chaillot.'
"After half an hour journey he stops before a gate on which is a sign, HôteI du Roule.
"The gate was closed. A Swiss with a great beard stepped out from a side-door and seriously sized us up with his eyes. He found us respectable, opened the gate and we walked in.
"A one-eyed woman of about fifty years, but still showing traces of former beauty, greeted us and asked if we would like to dine.
"Upon my assent she led us into a very pretty salon, in which we saw fourteen young maidens who were all pretty and dressed in muslin.
"At our entrance they arose and made a charming bow.
"All were about the same age, some blonde and some brunette.
"Every taste could be satisfied here.
"We spoke a word to all and made our choice.
"The two chosen let loose a joyous cry, embraced us with a passion that was virginal, and we went to the garden expecting that we would be called to dinner.
"This garden was extensive and so arranged that it could serve the joys of love.
"Madame Paris said: 'Go, sirs, and enjoy the fresh air and reassure yourselves; my house is a temple of peace and of health.'
"During the sweetest occupation we were called to eat.
"We were very well served; the meal had aroused new longing in us, but with the clock in her hand the one-eyed attendant entered to inform us that our party was ended.
"Pleasure was here measured by the hour."
Finally Casanova and his friend were induced to spend the night in the bordello.
This home was mainly visited by the clergy. Madame Richard had started her career with the systematic seduction of young father confessors. This specialty gave her the idea of opening a bordello exclusively for the clergy. It flourished. Madame Richard became the purveyor of young girls for a "missionary home, for prelates and other clergymen." We have previously described an erotic scene in this house.
A roué in Venice always brought with him two Negresses in the bordello of Juliette because the contrast between white and black girls afforded him special satisfaction (Juliette VI, 152). Negroes also played a rôle in the anthropophagic dinner in Venice (Juliette VI, 204). In the castle of Cardoville at Grenoble, where Justine was led as a sacrifice to the passions of this roué, two Negroes are active accomplices at this orgy (Justine IV, 331). In the third volume of Aline and Valcourt there is an obscene picture on page 200 showing three naked women and four Negresses swinging heavy clubs at one another.
The Negroes are no invention of de Sade. Long before 1790 there existed a Negro bordello in Paris. This was in the house of a Mlle. Isabeau, first on Rue Neuve de Montmorency, later on Rue Xaintonge. In this bordello Negresses, mestizos, and mulattos were at hand. There were no set prices; the inmates were sold "like slaves in a caravan."
Fraxi believes that the taste for black women belongs exclusively to the French. At any rate one finds today in many bordellos in Paris and the provinces permanent examples of these black beauties. Hagen in his Sexual Osphresiology makes many references to this preference for Negresses by the French; he ascribes it to the charm of their odor.
For descriptions of the other great bordellos of Paris we must refer to the famous work of Rétif de la Bretonne, Pornography and to the Bordellos of Paris. Yet we would like to mention the house in Faubourg Saint-Antoine, where, according to Retif, the Duke of Orleans, Prince d'Artois, enjoyed the wildest debaucheries and atrocities, where those bestialities were encountered which the Marquis de Sade described in his exécrable romance, Justine.
Manifestly even this great number of bordellos could not satisfy the desires of the ancien régime. Passion must be made private. Hence the respectable gentlemen and rich roués of that time had in the so-called petites maisons, their own private bordello in miniature. Every one had his little house with some mistresses. That was the high tone in young and old. Casanova became acquainted in Paris with the eighty year old Chevalier d'Arzigny, the oldest of the petits maîtres, who powdered and perfumed himself, scented his heavy wig, penciled his eyebrows, etc. Even this old worldling was devoted to his mistress, who managed his little house, in which he always ate at evening in the society of her friends, who were all young and lovable and gave up every company for his.
The Marquis de Sade also had his petite maison in Saint-Roch in 1772.
What Marquis de Sade described in the "Society of the Friends of Crime," and what we shall later delineate as the mysterium of vice in the novels of this author, actually existed. There were in Paris secret clubs whose members united for the practical study of debauchery. They had their temple with a statue of Priapus, of Sappho and other symbols of sexual passion; they had also their own special speech and symbols.
The Island of Happiness or The Order of Happiness or The Society of Hermaphrodites was the notorious love-club. This secret society borrowed all descriptions, ceremonies and other forms of seafaring life, addressing their songs and prayers to holy Nicolaus. Maître, Patron, Chef d'escadre, Viceadmiral were the names for the individual grades of cavalier, and cavalieresses, who bore an anchor on their heart and had to swear eternal fidelity and silence if they wished to be borne to the island of fortune. In their more than gallant meetings the most obscene conversations were held. A very zealous member of this obscene club was Moët, the author of the Code of Cytherea and translator of the English work Lucina sine Concubitu. He wrote for his club the famous Anthropophily or the Secrets and Mysteries of the Order Devoted to the Pleasure of Mankind. It contained the rules and statutes of the organization, its vocabulary and poems. I chose a few expressions from the dictionary: "chaloupe, petite fille; flute, grosse femme; frégate, femme; gabari, fille on femme bien faite; goudron, fard; hisser une frégate, enlever une femme; mât, les corps; mer, amour; sondes, les doigts." The purpose of the club is given in the following verse:
Very mysterious was the Society of Aphrodites who by a holy oath, and by frequent change of their meeting place, sought to hide their secret. The men were given names from the animal kingdom; the women from the flower kingdom.
On the other hand in another club we have the manuscript of the statutes, signs of recognition, and index of members with the noms de plaisir. This was the Société du Moment. This manuscript affords a profound insight into the atmosphere in which this society of cynicism reveled.
A fourth secret pornologic society was the Secte Anandryne, the club for tribades, who celebrated their orgies in the Temple of Vesta. We will give later a detailed description of this club and its meetings.
The origin of this secret society is explained by Delbène (Juliette I, 25): "Vice need not be suppressed for that is the only fortune of our life. One must only surround it with such a mystery that will never be revealed." De Sade’s description of the Society of the Friends of Crime was plainly designed from the above plans. This society had its own printing plant with twelve copyists and four readers. In the club building were many cabinets d'aisance which were served by young girls and boys who were forced to gratify all the desires of the visitors of this place. One found seringues, bidets, lieux à I'anglaise, linges très-fins, odeurs. But one could be cleaned by the tongues of boys and girls.
In both seraglios of the house were boys, girls, men, women and animals for the satisfaction of every kind of vice. Murder cost 100 Thaler. The novice entered nude into the assembly room with a crucifix at the end of which was a Bible. Before her admittance Juliette was asked if she wished to undergo the kinds of immorality and crime that are tolled off. After she assented she received The Instructions for Women entering the Society of Joy. The orgies taking place in this secret club will be described later in the analysis of Juliette.
It is apparent from the foregoing representation that the eighteenth century with its animal passion was the century of the prostitute. The prostitute was idolized and idealized. The more vice and pleasure she knew the higher she stood over the honorable woman. In Philosophy in the Boudoir the novice Eugenie asked her teacher in love, Madame de St. Ange, what a putain was, a word she heard for the first time. The teacher replied: "So are called these public sacrifices to male debauchery who are always prepared to sacrifice their temperament and their interests. It is a fortunate and noble profession but is dishonored by the general meaning since it crowns joy. They are more useful to the state than all the prudes and virtue for they have the courage to serve it. They are indeed the women truly worthy of love, the only wise women in the world. Since I was 12 years old I have striven to be worthy of the name and feel most happy when in the middle of pleasure I hear myself called this, for then I fly into the heights of passion." This was what the de Goncourts called “enjoyment of the damage of a good calling" and stood as a universal monument of the women of the eighteenth century.
Rétif de la Bretonne rose to the following swansong of prostitution in his Monsieur Nicolas: "If you (the prostitutes) cannot marry do not therefore despair. You are still useful. By the pleasures which you can afford, by the joys of your profession you can bring the basest of men into the bounds of pure nature and prevent them from giving themselves to sick women and suffering loss of health. Never be defiant and irritable, always remember that maidens of your profession are the true joys of men, true priests of passion. Guard yourselves!"
This glorification of the prostitute often took on strange forms. The Chevalier de Forges often uttered the wish to the in the arms of a prostitute. In his lifetime he had sought his pleasure and fortune with prostitutes. He also wanted to find death there. This wish was granted him. He died in the middle of his pleasure in the arms of a prostitute.
This elevated opinion of prostitutes was mirrored most brilliantly in their relations with the police. We saw that de Sade had the bordello of Duvergier protected by the police. This was actually true at the time of the origin of Juliette, during the Reign of Terror and the Directory. Yet under the regency stray prostitutes were punished, individuals were even sent to New Orleans. Manon Lescaut, the famous tale of Abbé Privost, need only be recalled to show the glorification of the prostitute in French literature. Sick prostitutes were sent to Bicêtre. Inspector Marais, as we have said, had to send regular reports on the prostitutes of Paris to King Louis XV. But a serious inspection was lacking. Parent Duchatelet has gone through the archives of the police prefect of Paris from 1724 to 1788 and made the following observations:
"That the toleration of the police in regards to prostitutes and bordellos was unlimited; that they entered only in very severe cases. That they never searched the houses unless upon repeated complaints by neighbors.
"That in many houses murder was committed, in some, maidens and men were thrown from the windows, the uproar was mainly from the soldiers; the neighbors ran the greatest danger in getting home and often were unable to pass.
"That in all arrests the greatest arbitrariness prevailed, everything depended on the mood of the police commissioner and his aides."
The Revolution was the golden age of prostitution. Those events which de Sade described in his works were actualities. According to Parent Duchatelet all rules and regulations were done away with in 1791. The profession of prostitution was no longer an especial object for legal statutes. It was recognized as a business which everyone was privileged to practice and held that any restrictions thereupon would be an affront to personal liberty.
So these maidens were to all intent free and were allowed to do as they pleased. They saw themselves emancipated, a state of affairs which they had at no other time and in no other land enjoyed.
An unbridled boldness, an unexampled scandal was the result. The Reign of Terror and Directory delineate the highest summit of freedom and undiscipline which prostitution had ever reached. We recall that Marquis de Sade spent the entire period of 1790 to 1801 in complete freedom in Paris.
The prostitute became the Goddess of Reason whom all must worship, and every woman became a prostitute. In July, 1793, a new play was presented at the Theatre of the Republic, entitled, The Freedom of Women. But in reality it described the boldness of vice. The chief character, a husband, dissolute by inclination, inconstant in character and enemy of propriety, declared: "The charms of my wife should be shared by more than one fortunate being!"
Public prostitutes multiplied on all the streets, especially in the Palais Royal, Maison Egalité and Champs Elysées; in the loges of the theatre, in the public houses and in the great restaurants one saw the most outrageous behavior. Paris became the cloaca of the whole Republic and drew to it all the dissolute characters of the provinces. Pleasure soon became brutality. In the summer of 1796 the Boulevard du Temple was the scene of unrestrained vice. In a great company of men and women, including girls of 12 and 13 years of age, there was carried on a truly animal relation. The animal passions took hold of them all and they gave way to the most shocking fornication. But in spite of all the indignation, even to attacking the police, there took place in the wide expanses of the Palais Royal and the Champs Elysées almost daily "scenes of the most horrible and most shameful immorality."
Here the ideal that Marquis de Sade had in his novels was actualized: mass-vice! The immoral conduct was accomplished by costumes à la grecque that led moral people into the maelstrom of vice. This infection of morals by the poison of vice has been excellently described by Rétif de la Bretonne in his account of the activity of a prostitute on the streets.
"The girls walk up and down the streets; some make themselves known by the elegancy of their clothing, but most by the unashamed revealment of their charms. Young men permit themselves the greatest of freedoms in public. Our children lap up the poison of their charms. The daughter of a worker sees a well-dressed woman walking down the street eagerly followed by some young men; they stop her, talk to her and embrace her. The innocent girls feel a longing to be like that well-dressed woman and to be the object of admiration of young men. Another easy convert to prostitution! Easy enough for the young boys and girls to find opportunity to sin. To step on the streets was to step into sin."
According to police reports in October, 1793, the galleries of the theatres were packed full of children from 7 to 15 years of age; both stage and gallery were scenes of unbridled lust. "Many of the children were stark naked and made lascivious gestures to the spectators." It is no accident that these monstrosities took place in the autumn of 1793 after that fateful September day when the blood flowed freely down the streets. It is no accident that the pinnacle of vice was reached in the days of terrorism. De Sade who in the December of this year had again been placed in prison had during this time viciously waded in blood and lust. It was the time when even the secret pornologic clubs became public and there were celebrated in the opera house "nude balls," the face alone being masked. The number of daily balls for prostitutes entered into the hundreds. "The Nudities of Greeks and Romans" was a daily sight in the theatres.
The number of prostitutes in Paris in 1770 is estimated by Parent Duchatelet to have been 20,000 in a population of 600,000. At the time of the Revolution it grew to 30,000.
If but a glance at the different kinds of prostitutes is vouchsafed it is apparent that the mistresses of the ancien régime were mainly recruited from the theatre-world. Actresses, singers and dancers were special favorites.
Mercier tells that the filles d’Opéra had decided favor with the men. La Mettrie emphatically declares: "Where can voluptuousness be shown off to its best limits than on the stage?" and praises the charms of the famous dancer Camargo. D’Alembert cynically believed that the good fortune and richness of the dancers and singers was "a necessary result of the law of movement."
Vivid light is cast upon these affairs by two anecdotes told by Casanova. His friend Patu introduced him to a famous opera singer, Mademoiselle Le Fel, favorite of Paris and member of the Imperial Academy of Music. "She had three lovable little children who ran all around the house. 'I adore them,' she said. 'They deserve it for their beauty,' I (Casanova) answered, 'although each has a different facial appearance.' 'I can well believe it! The oldest is the son of the Duke of Annecy, the second of Prince Egmont, and the youngest is due to Maisonrouge who has just married Romainville.' 'Oh, pardon me, I thought you were the mother of the three children.' 'But of course I am!' As she said this she looked at Patu and broke out into loud laughter with him. I was a novice and unaccustomed to seeing women usurp the privileges of men.
"But Le Fel was no bold creature and belonged to good society. Had I been better acquainted with the times I would have known that it was nothing unusual. The great gentlemen who strew about their posterity left their children in the arms of their mothers, paying them heavy pensions. As a result the more fecund these ladies were, the better they lived."
The second anecdote is yet more characteristic. One day Casanova saw at Lani's, the ballet master at the opera, five or six young girls from 13 to 14 years old, accompanied by their mothers. He began flattering them, while they listened with modestly closed eyes. One of them complained of headaches. While Casanova offered her his smelling-bottle, one of the girls said to her: "You must have slept very badly last night." "No, that’s not it," answered the innocent Agnes, "I think I'm with child." At this so unexpected answer from the young girl whom from her age and appearance he had taken for a virgin, Casanova said: "I did not think that Madame was married." She looked at him for a moment surprised. Then she turned to her companion and they both laughed aloud.
The ballet dancers and the chorus girls received no salary so that "many men had to make up for the deficiency of an honorarium." With few exceptions this caste took "pride in being disdainful." At that time there were many ballet dancers and singers who were more vicious than tolerable, had no talent and yet lived comfortably. For it was self-understood that such a girl must destroy every virtue in order to escape starvation.
A dialogue in The English Spy showed that the same was typical throughout the theatrical world.
The Duke of Bouillon spent 800,000 Livres in three months on the opera singer La Guerre. The prostitute La Prairie belonged to those women who are in the nude at the petite maison of Marshal Soubise. "It's the custom of my friend, Abbé Terrai!" This moral priest had a precious bed in his house on Rue Notre Dame. When the dear visitor entered she found a covered painting which when uncovered revealed the pretty body of a nude woman. "Madame, it's the Costume," the abbé cold-bloodedly remarked, showing her with these words that he would also like to have her in this costume.
The famous Mademoiselle Du Thé was originally "Rosalie" in chorus and as such initiated the young duke of Chartres into the practices of Venus. When she was discarded by this prince she went to London, ruined many lords there, returned to Paris, where she opened a gambling hall that brought her much money and allowed only the rich to enter. This Messalina was thoroughly greedy and selfish. She later became the mistress of Prince d'Artois. But Du Thé did not always swim in gold. In a report of Police Inspector Marais of December 12, 1766 we find: "Yesterday Du Thé did not have a sou! She had to borrow a thaler and six livres in order to go to the Italian opera."
The actress Dubois made a catalog of her lovers reckoning on a twenty-year-activity 16,527, i.e. about three a day. "Her greed for gold was equal to her greed for pleasure." This well known history influenced Marquis de Sade. In the Philosophy in the Boudoir Madame St. Ange estimated that she had given herself to 12,000 men in 12 years.
La Chanterie, originally a chorus girl, was of a rare beauty. The artists often used her as a model. She was also painted as a madonna for the chief altar in a church. After an Englishman had seen her in the theatre, but not without a bitter after-taste, he came to the church, saw the head of the madonna and cried out in surprise: "Oh, it's the virgin who gave me a dose!”
Next to the theatrical profession the shop-girls were most in demand. The jeunes ouvrières appear in de Sade more than once. Rétif de In Bretonne described this class of prostitutes with especial preference in his works. He held for a long time a secret correspondence with the modists of a large establishment in rue le Grenelle Saint Honoré. The proprietor of this shop was a Madame Devilliers, who worked for Countess Du Bury. The latter had also been a modist before she entered the bordello of Gourdan. The life and activity of these modists, were described by Rétif in his Le Quadragénaire. According to Parent Duchatelet professional prostitutes gladly entered the shops during the Revolution. It almost seemed as if the shops had become adjuncts to the regular houses. Prostitutes were of course always present at the restaurants, cafés and bars. Casanova when in search for beauty would first visit a café. The Paris police-order fining the host 100 francs if caught having immoral girls was never enforced.
Pimping reached a high stage of development in the eighteenth century. Marquis de Sade described many types, for example, Dorval who through the work of his prostitutes owned thirty houses. Peuchet in 1789 spoke of pimps in his Encyclopedia and Rétif de la Bretonne discussed them in his Pornography (1770). The police lieutenant received an anonymous letter from a prostitute: "We girls cannot exist without protectors. Usually our choice falls on the wickedest scoundrel in the neighborhood so that he can protect us for better or worse. Once we have made our choice we must stick to it. We must tolerate his laziness, drunkenness, gamblings, beatings and vices. The only way to get rid of him is to find a worse scoundrel who can beat the old one up and is for that reason a worse tyrant and despot."
All kinds of pimps and pimpesses, that necessary correlative to prostitution, are found in de Sade’s works. On the last page of the Pornography there is an index of these mamans publiques. Such women had many names. Those companions who could no longer practice their trade were called pieds-levés. The actual pimps and pimpesses were variously named maquerelles, baillives, abbesses, supérieures, mamans. The name maîtresse or dame de maison did not appear before 1796.
In Justine and Juliette all bordellos are richly provided with children, especially little girls, who served the purposes of vice and were given over to the brutal passions of the crowd. All this led to a great expansion in the traffic for boys and girls. We have already seen the extensiveness of the supply for the Deer Park. Similar places existed for the needs of private individuals. Rétif de la Bretonne gave detailed information on the modus operandi in Vol. 16 of his Nights of Paris. Under the arcades of the Palais Royal one saw children of both sexes being led by pimpesses. The death rate must have been fearfully high. "One pays the children," says Rétif, "as one pays for an animal. Parent and pimps come to an agreement on the price." Rétif remarks that this trade existed under the ancien régime and that it formed one of the chief sources of income to the Inspector of Prostitution, who no doubt had to share his profit with the police lieutenants. Needless to say the trade was never in danger of interruption from the police.
The Palais Royal was a city within a city. It was the city of prostitutes of Paris and the centre of Parisian life in the eighteenth century. It formed a pretty little world all of its own with its gambling-dens, royal and jacobin conspirators, prostitutes and bandits, respectable yet degenerate customs, its luxury and poverty. The Palais Royal, not far from the Louvre, was built for Cardinal Richelieu in the years 1629 to 1634 by Lemercier in the spot of the former Hôtel de Mercoeur; it was inhabited for a time by Louis XIV who had it rebuilt and then presented it to his uncle, Duke of Chartres, and thus it was passed on to the Orleans family. The regent, Phillip of Orleans, inaugurated it as the chief city of pleasure and debauchery for respectable society. His great-grandchild, Duke Louis Philipp Joseph of Orleans, the notorious Philippe-Egalité, had the palace entirely reconstructed in the years 1781 to 1786 until it received its present form, consisting of a great number of palaces, gardens, arcades, market-halls, theatres, cafés, gambling-dens and other resorts for pleasure. The chief galleries of the Palais Royal were in the east, the Galerie de Valois, in the west, the Galerie de Montpensier on whose northern end the Palais Royal theatre lay, in the north, the Galerie de Beaujolais. The splendid garden of the Palais Royal was in the form of a parallelogram and was surrounded by 186 arcades. In the immediate proximity stood the theatre of the Comedic Française.
Before and during the Revolution the Palais Royal developed into that gay and colorful centre that has found so many excellent descriptions by travelers from all countries. Casanova described how it looked before its reconstruction in 1750: "Curious as I was about this so famous place, I looked closely at everything. I saw a very pretty garden, walks surrounded by great trees, reservoirs, tall houses, throngs of men and women walking about, stalls here and there selling books, perfumes, toothpicks and other small articles. I saw great number of straw-chairs that were rented for a sou, men and women eating alone or in company, waiters hastening to and from the foilage concealing steps." An abbé named for Casanova all the prostitutes who were walking around.
In the year 1772 Marquis de Carraccioli remarked that the Palais Royal was the place for elegancy, the Luxembourg for dreamers, and the Tuileries for "all the world." But after the burning of the Opera (1781) and the consequent reconstruction of the Palais Royal all the night life of Paris gathered in this latter place. Here took place during the Revolution and Directory all those horrible scenes which we have partly already described. The Palais Royal became the Hall of Prostitution and the Sewer of Paris as Mercier in his The New Paris and Rétif de la Bretonne in his great work on the Palais Royal have described. Rétif investigated the night life in the Palais Royal as a doctor would the "anatomy of a corpse." He wrote in Monsieur Nicolas in 1796: "It is well-known that the Palais Royal is the general rendezvous for all the passions and enterprises of vice, prostitution, gambling, swindling, crime, etc., and hence has become the center of all observation. This famous bazaar enticed me not by its sights but by the pleasures I found there."
Mercier gayly desired that Lavater, the famous physiognomist, might be present at the Palais Royal on a Friday evening so that he could read in the faces of those present everything that is usually kept in the deepest recesses of the heart. There were to be found prostitutes, courtesans, duchesses, and respectable housewives: they did not delude themselves there. But perhaps with all his science this great doctor might have been deluded. For there were distinctions and very fine nuances which must be very carefully studied. "I assert that Dr. Lavater would have great difficulty in distinguishing an ordinary prostitute from a respectable woman and that a shop-girl can without his great knowledge point out the fine points of differentiation." Such unconstraint, unceremoniousness, and free and easy ways has never existed in the world except in Paris and there only in the Palais Royal. All were familiarly addressed, words were bandied to and fro, remarks were made about the woman's lover in the presence of her husband, and vice versa, couples were caught up in a mad whirl, laughter and frank talk resounded everywhere. Lavater should by all means have made his physiognomical studies in the Palais Royal.
'"The weather may have been fair or rainy but every evening at five I would walk along the Palais Royal. I am usually alone around the Bank d'Argenson. I converse with myself on politics, love, gastronomy or philosophy and give myself up to the complete freedom of the Palais Royal. One sees the young rakes in the Allée de la Foi follow the footsteps of a courtesan who walks along unashamedly with laughing gestures and joyous eyes. But immediately they leave her for another, banter her in common and attach themselves to none. My thoughts are my prostitutes." So wrote Diderot in the beginning of Rameau's Nephew.
These nightly promenades in the Palais Royal were famous throughout the whole world and was the first sight that tourists flocked to see in Paris. Here piquant adventure was sought—and found. It often happened that men looking for pleasure in the nightly promenade at the Palais Royal surprised their own wives with the same purposes. The women in the Palais Royal were all whores whether they belonged to the profession of prostitution or not. Whoever made nightly visits there was stamped with that name.
The famous Street of Sighs (Allée des Soupirs) was the promenade for the prettiest and most enticing girls and women recruited from all classes of life. Respectable ladies, the theatrical world, the higher demimondes and the better-class prostitutes were the goal of the rakes seeking for plunder. But also in the other streets, in the Allée de la Foi, the Allée de Club, under the colonnades and arcades there gathered untold numbers of dispensers of lust followed in close numbers by young and old roués from all parts of the world. This was the El Dorado of prostitution. Here were hidden corners, secret nooks, and lurking places in the form of numerous shops, beer dens, gambling halls and theatres. Here Rétif de la Bretonne learned from his friend, the notorious charlatan Guilbert de Préval, who was well versed in the secrets and kinds of passion in the Palais Royal, "how best to amuse women and how women can best satisfy the desires of men." Rétif could recite from memory the names of the prostitutes of the Street of Sighs; he also knew well the huris, the exsunamites, the berceuses, the chanteuses, the converseuses, as well as many other sexopathologic types. Rétif in his work on the Palais Royal wrote: "We will write a moral book about immoral affairs which has to do with foals, asses and other animals. The beauties of the Palais Royal are very pretty, especially the young ones. What happens to the old ones is the same all over the world: an old animal is never pretty. We will tell of remarkable and unbelievable morals. But first we would like to give an idea of the features, the age, the general appearance, the morals and talents of these beauties under the name they have assumed, noms de guerre." Here Rétif described thirty-two prostitutes of the Allée des Soupirs. He then told the history of each of these girls, throwing many interesting side-lights on the state of morals during the Revolution. The second volume of his work treated of the famous "circus" of the Palais Royal. "The majesty of this ball, the charm of the orchestra, the proud movements of the dancers, the beauty, the elegance of the spectators, all contributed in giving a magical appearance to this subterranean retreat. Later attention was excited by the drinks, the gambling and the private rooms serving all kinds of tastes for love. We noticed that after nine o'clock, the hour when respectable women go out to eat, only prostitutes remained. We observed them very curiously in our capacity as an investigator." One of the girls served as cicernone for him and pointed out the others, the so-called "sunamites."
The sunamites received their name from the concubines of King David who was kept alive in his old age by the heat of their bodies which aflamed anew his powers. There were many in the Palais Royal who kept a number of girls just for this purpose. Six girls were furnished to act as a cure for a single man. The first time the matron herself was present to superintend his wants. He was given an aromatic bath and a thorough cleansing of his body. Then a heavy muzzle was placed on him and he was placed in bed with a sunamite close to each side. Two girls could save him in this manner for only eight days, then they were replaced by a fresh pair. The first pair then rested for fourteen days so that in all there were three alternate pairs. The patient had to pay the girls three louisdors all told. Each girl received six francs, the matron twelve. Careful protection was given that the virgin modesty of these sunamites went untasted. Otherwise the cure would have been harmful rather than useful. Indeed if the patient wrought a miracle, proved again that the Lord is all-powerful, he would have to pay heavy damages to the girl; as a precaution the sum was placed on deposit with the matron before the cure. A girl lasted in this business three years, counting from the time she reached womanhood. A girl who was used every day could last at the utmost one year. The period of sunamite service amounted practically to the novitiate in the order of prostitutes. When the first was finished the girl automatically entered the higher rank.
Marquis de Sade also had Justine do this nightly heating service to a hoary old monk (Justine II, 228).
The third volume of Rétif's Palais Royal treated of the "Colonnades" and introduced the converseuses or exsunamites, 43 in number, whose work it was to entertain respectable ladies in diverse ways.
Mercier tells of another specialty of the Palais Royal. During the evening meal in a restaurant, which also served as a bordello, at a given signal from the proprietor there stepped down from a balcony, to the accompaniment of soft music, a nude nymph, who pirouetted about the tables presumably to aid the digestion of the diners.
At the hours from eleven to twelve one could see along the galleries of the Palais Royal the four and forty famous figurae Veneris, lascivious positions classified by a contemporary French author and very popular at the time.
In the Reign of Terror the Palais Royal became the scene of the maddest orgies and a favorite meetingplace for the dregs of prostitution and for the soldier-girls. The gardens, the galleries and other public places of the Palais Royal "were the most notorious gathering places for prostitutes and soldiers. They boldly transacted the most lewd practices in the streets and blocked all respectable people from passing. Obscene pictures of men and women, scribblings as well as paintings were drawn all over the streets and walls. In the nooks hidden by trees and fountains the freest practices were indulged in by the soldiers and prostitutes." Almost all the soldiers in the guard were pimps. Indeed many of them had only enlisted so that they could live on the proceeds of their staff.
We will close our description of the Palais Royal with the words of one of the best connoisseurs of Parisian corruption in the eighteenth century. Mairobert cried out in The English Spy: "All the bulwarks of vice and depravity, all the passionate and voluptuous orgies, wild abandonment and free and easy familiarity, all are to be found on the nightly promenades in the Palais Royal!"
All other amusement places paled before the Palais Royal yet there were a great number nearby. As fast as one died out another took its place. A similar condition, though far milder, exists in the present nightclubs. Of the others the Vauxhall d’été and d'hiver and the Colisée were the most popular. Admission cost from one to three livres but ensured the entrant pleasures of every imaginable kind.
An Italian artist Torré opened the Vauxhall d’été in the year 1764 in the Boulevard Saint Martin. Fireworks, lantern-shows and elaborate plays were held. From 1768 on dances and balls were added. The Vauxhall d'hiver was in the western part of the city district of Saint Germain, near rue Guisard. It was built in 1769 and opened on April 3, 1770. Ballets with very pretty dancers were mainly given.
The Colisée was a building with gardens for dancing, song, play, festival, fireworks, etc. It lay in the western part of the Champs Elysées, near the Avenue Neuilly and was opened at the marriage of the Dauphin, later Louis XVI.
According to Dulaure the public purpose of these establishments was to amuse the Parisians. But the secret purpose was "to corrupt and plunder them." The managements winked at the number of Prostitutes in their places and entered into arrangements with them and the police.
We proceed from the description of prostitution and amusement places to an investigation of the chief aberrations of the sexual life and begin with the most common, onanism.
The branler, as it is technically called by de Sade, occurs almost on every page. In the very beginning of Justine as she was sorrowing for her parents, Juliette showed her how to satisfy herself by manustupration, a practice she had learned in the convents. This passionate excitation, which can be done every moment without the aid of another, was the best consolation for sorrow, for onanism caused all pain to disappear with safety (Justine 1, 5). Delbène, the superior in the convent, to whom Juliette was entrusted, was a very passionate woman and had from the age of nine "used her finger to satisfy the wishes of her mind." (Juliette I, 3). In the "Society of Friends of Crime" there even existed a Room for Masturbation (Juliette III, 65). The Duke of Chablais also praised the French method of onanism as the best (Juliette III, 292). Madame de St. Ange, who in the beginning of Philosophy in the Boudoir imputed to Eugenie an entire course in the arts and technical expression of love, does not forget to acquaint her with this comfortable kind of self-pleasure (Philosophy in the Boudoir I, 43). Havelock Ellis has also noted the use of masturbation for driving away pain.
Mairobert had Madame Richard express herself in characteristic fashion on the enormous spread of onanism in France. This so very refined art which she learned from a member of the French Academy became more and more the fashion in this century of passion and—philosophy. In the famous bordellos of Paris, Gourdan, Florence, and Brisson these arts were practiced. "Many also practiced simple and mutual onanism to escape children and the danger of syphilis" (The English Spy).
The number of poems and brochures on the "voluptuous fingers of the libertines" were very numerous at this time. Many prostitutes indeed even preferred onanism and practiced it with their clients.
This chapter is perhaps most notable for the sexual life of France in the eighteenth century from an historical viewpoint. We do not believe that ancient Lesbos saw such conditions as ruled in France at this time. Here too de Sade's works truly mirror the picture of his age and inform us on the frequency of amor lesbicus or Sapphic love.
Juliette immediately opens with a description of the passionate tribadic scene among the nuns of the Panthémont convent (Juliette I, 43, if.). Mondor entertained himself by peeping at a lesbic love scene (Juliette I, 283). A decided type of tribade was drawn in the man-hater, Clairwil (Juliette II, 106), who promptly organized an orgy with Juliette and four other women (Juliette II, 138-150, also III, 157). The highest tribadic arts were to be found in Bologna (Juliette II, 306 ff.). The Princess Borgia (Juliette IV, 100 ff.), Queen Charlotte of Naples (Juliette V, 259, VI, 12 ff.) are tribades. This specialty of love has a great number of adherents in Venice (Juliette VI, 156 ff.).
In Justine there are also to be found as many, if not more, lesbian scenes, e.g., between Dorothée and Madame Gernande (Justine III, 285); Seraphine was a worshipper of the Sapphic art (Justine IV, 116).
De Sade also did not lack allusions on the explanation of tribadism. A tribadic orgy between Juliette and Durand surprised a young and an old woman, the latter in the autumn of her life and resigned to her own sex a substitute. But perhaps she was predestined to this by the extreme length of her clitoris. De Sade mentioned this expressly as being the case of another tribade, Madame de Volmar (Juliette I, 34). Only twenty years old, she was the passionate companion of Delbène and had a clitoris de trois pouces, thus being able to play the rôle of a man and pederast. The Venetian tribade Zatta was a similar woman with masculine allurements (Juliette VI, 194). De Sade asserted that nearly all tribades, practiced paedicatio.
Mirabeau described in My Conversion a tribadic orgy of thirty court ladies. The descriptions of this author, whom Diderot and numerous other authors have followed, did not transgress reality. Mairobert in his English Spy furnished us with many highly interesting documents that afford astounding insights into the activity and organization of the Parisian tribades of the eighteenth century. His already often mentioned Confessions of a Young Girl unrolled a picturesque panorama of the mysteries of the notorious Sect Anandryne which celebrated its orgies in the Temple of Vesta.
A young girl from the town Villiers le Bel, daughter of a peasant, was recruited by Madame Gourdan for her bordello. One day the father met her as a prostitute at the Tuileries. A great public scandal grew from this. But the daughter had already been promised to the Imperial Academy of Music so that the father had to return home empty-handed. In addition she became pregnant. Mairobert had the girl, who called herself Mademoiselle Sapho, tell him the story of her life. It can certainly be assumed that Mairobert, the imperial censor in all the secrets of Parisian society, has woven in his own experiences in the Confessions of a Young Girl. At any rate this strange report is one of the most famous and important contributions to the cultural history of France in the eighteenth century. We give a detailed discussion of the case and book.
From youth Sapho was inclined to coquetry, fond of finery, vain, lazy and with an insatiable desire for pleasure; in short, all the attributes of a prostitute. At fifteen she was already very lascivious and often gazed in admiration at her own nudeness and lasciviously caressed all parts of her body. This circumstance is very instructive and shows how sexual perversity comes to the fore. Sapho would never have been seduced by Gourdan no matter how she was kept at home by her parents unless the girl had found an opportunity for intercourse with a man; it is clear that such a fiery nature went of her own accord on the path of tribadism due to the necessity of her nature. The mode of life, the interplay of contrary sexual feelings play the main rôle. We look very skeptically at her heredity.
One day Sapho was surprised at these caressings of her body and was severely punished by her mother; she decided to flee from her parents. We have already mentioned that Madame Gourdan had a branch of her Parisian bordello at Villiers le Bel; Sapho had often seen the inmates prettily dressed, laughing, singing and dancing in the village. She determined to go there and was naturally received with joy and sent to Gourdan in Paris where she was turned over to an accomplice who took charge of the first prostitutions of Gourdan's novices. But after this accomplice had examined the girl she forgot about her usual course and sent the following characteristic letter to Gourdan:
Gourdan immediately let this discovery be known to Madame de Furiel, one of the most famous tribades of Paris, by the following letter:
The business was completed and Sapho was sold to Furiel for 100 louisdors.
There now follows a description of the luxurious house of Madame de Furiel. First Sapho had to take a bath, eat a rich supper and then go to bed. On the following morning Furiel's dentist investigated Sapho's mouth, fixed her teeth, cleaned her and gave her aromatic mouthwash. Then followed another bath, careful manicuring of fingers and nails, removal of superfluous hair and a thorough cleaning of all parts of her body. She was next sprayed with a great amount of essences and perfumes, her hair was curled into great locks and let fall loose on her breasts, bright flowers were placed in her hair. A slip, à la tribade (cut wide in front and back) was carefully adjusted so that nothing was really hidden. She was then brought to Madame de Furiel.
Madame de Furiel, reclining on a sofa, received her. She was a woman of about thirty years, brunette with very black eyebrows, somewhat corpulent and masculine (homasse). It took two hours for Sapho to be initiated into all the mysteries of lesbian love. After the love-bout Madame de Furiel called two chambermaids by whom they were washed and perfumed. Then they sat down to a delicious supper at which Furiel told Sapho all about tribadism in Paris and that they were organized as the Secte Anandryne and held their festivals in the Temple of Vesta. Not every woman was admitted. There were examinations for those who desired entrance to the sect. They were especially severe for married women and only one out of ten passed. The parties were shut up in a boudoir, which contained a statue of Priapus "dans toute son énergie." There were besides different groups of males and females in the most obscene positions. The wall-frescoes displayed similar pictures. Numerous representations of the male members excited the senses; books and pictures of an obscene content lay on the table. At the foot of the statue was a little fire that had to be continually fed with inflammable material, so that the postulante had always to take care that there was sufficient fuel on the fire; if but for a moment she forgot to watch the fire in the entrancement of so many objects of masculine passion, the fire went out and gave proof of her weakness and destruction. These examinations lasted three hours daily for three days.
After this tale Madame de Furiel promised our Sapho pretty clothes, hats, diamonds, theatres, promenades, instruction in reading, writing, dancing and singing if she would only be true to her and never have intercourse with men. Sapho readily agreed to this.
Then on the next day began the great metamorphosis. Modists, manicurists, and other shop-girls arrived and surrounded Sapho in all comfort, she was then brought to the opera and was joyously admired by the other tribades.
On the following day Sapho was introduced into the mysteries of the anandryne sect with great solemnity and notable ceremonies. In the middle of the Temple of Vesta stood a cylindrical room that received light from a glass cover on top and on the sides. A small statue of Vesta was in the room. The goddess was represented standing majestically on a globe as if just stepping down to preside at the meeting. She seemed to sway in mid-air.
About this sanctuary of the goddess was a small corridor, in which two tribades paraded up and down during the meeting so that all the entrances were watched. Between the entrances stood a marble plaque on which were inscribed golden verses, at each side were altars with the necessary vestal fires. Next to the most resplendent altar stood a bust of Sappho, the protector of the temple, the oldest and most noted tribade. Next to the other altar stood a bust of Mademoiselle (alias Chevalier) d'Eon, "the most famous modern tribade." Around the niches in the walls stood the famous Greek tribades sung of by Sappho: Thelesyle, Amythone, Cydno, Megare, Pyrrhine, Andromeda, Cyrine, etc. In the middle of the room stood a great cylindrical couch on which rested the Lady President and her scholars. Pairs of tribades sat all around in Turkish fashion on small footstools, each pair interlaced and composed of mother and novice, or in the mystical terminology, incuba and succuba. The walls of the room were decorated with hundreds of reliefs, showing the various private parts of the woman as shown in Venette's Tableau of Conjugal Love, Buffon's Natural History and in the cleverest anatomical plates.
The reception of our Sapho was in the following manner: all the tribades sat in their places in their festival clothes. The mothers wore a red levite with a blue girdle, the novices a white levite and a red girdle and no underclothes. As Sapho entered she first saw the holy fire that burned with a pleasant and aromatic flame upon a golden pan; it was continually fed by two tribades with pulverized fuel. Sapho had to kneel at the feet of the president, Mademoiselle Raucourt, a noted actress at the Comédie Française; her mother, Madame Furiel said: "Dear president and dear companions, here is a postulante. She appears to have all the desirable properties. She has never had intercourse with a man, is wonderfully built, and has shown fire and zeal at the trial I gave her. I beg that she be taken in under the name Sapho." After this speech both had to withdraw. Shortly thereafter one of the guardesses of Sapho informed her that she had been admitted to a test without a dissenting vote. Sapho was then completely undressed, given a pair of white slippers, covered with a light mantel and brought back to the assemblage. Here the Lady President arose, gave Sapho her own seat and uncovered her mantel. Sapho was then put to a thorough examination by all the tribades as to how many of the thirty charms of women inscribed on the marble plaque she possessed:
Then one of the oldest of tribades read the following old French poem:
Of these charms somewhat more than half were needed for admittance, i.e., at least sixteen. Each pair of tribades decided separately and whispered their opinion into the ear of the Lady President, who counted them and announced the result. All had decided in favor of our novice. This result was then corroborated by a kiss à la florentine. Sapho was then dressed as a tribade and had to swear an oath never to have intercourse with men or to betray the secrets of the order. Then Madame Raucourt gave an inaugural address whose content in short was:
"Ladies, receive me in your ranks, I am worthy of you." These words are to be found in the Lettres of Mile. D’Eon. This d'Eon was a model for tribadism. Her expression can well stand as a motto for the address.
Next Raucourt spoke of the origin of the Secte Anandryne. Lycurgus had started a school for tribades in Sparta. The convents in modern Europe, an emanation of the colleges of vestals, embody the constant priesthood of tribadism. How gratifying it is that a woman can find her pleasure so much easier than a mere man. For any suitable instrument in the boudoir or toilette is sufficient for the purpose.
Tribadism must spread everywhere the cult of Vesta and furnish zealous propaganda for it. The best known tribades were then named. Duchess of Urbsrex, Marquise de Terracenes, Madame de Furiel (the protectress of our Sapho and wife of the general-procurator), the Marquise de Téchul (who dressed as a chambermaid, cook or modist to satisfy her passion), Mademoiselle Clairon (famous actress of the Théâtre Français), the actress Arnould, the German tribade Sonck (kept by a brother of the Prussian king). Poulet-Malassis has solved the puzzles of these names in his edition of The English Spy: "Furiel" is Mme. de Fleury, "Urbsrex" is the Duchess of Villeroy, "Terracenes" is the Marquise de Senecterre and "Téchal" is the Marquise de Luchet.
Mlle. Julie, a young tribade, is mentioned; she has been initiated into the lesbian art of love by Arnould and Raucourt. In conclusion the joys of tribadism are extolledL intercourse between the opposite sexes is fleeting, short and illusory. Only that between women is true, pure and lasting and has no remorse. Are defloration, pregnancy and childbirth pleasures?
"Tribadism leaves no remorse and is the sauve-garde of our young girls and widows, it increases our charms, holds them longer, is the comfort of our old age when no man wants us, a real rose without thorns throughout our whole life."
After this effective speech the holy fire is allowed to go out and all depart for the banquet in the vestibule; there is an abundance of wines, especially those of the Greeks; a number of passionate verses are sung from Sappho. When all were intoxicated and could no longer restrain their passions, the fire was again lighted in the sanctuary, and a wild orgy began. The two heroines who held their "lovebout" longest received as a reward a golden medal with the picture of Vesta and the pictures and names of the two heroines. On this day the winners were Madame de Furiel and Sapho.
Thus we leave our happy Sapho in the arms of her victory.
Marquis de Sade sang the song of pederasty in all refrains. The most finished and expert pederast was Dolmancé in the Philosophy in the Boudoir. "There is," says Dolmancé, "no other pleasure in the world comparable to this, Oh, there is nothing more delightful than the back of a sweet young boy!" (Philosophy in the Boudoir I, 99). He described in detail all the joys of this vice. Although Dolmancé felt more drawn to the male sex he was not abashed at undertaking paedicatio with a woman and indeed introduced young Eugenie to this pleasure. On the other hand Bressac, whom Justine surprised in the act of intercourse with his lackeys, was a thorough homosexualist and had a deep hatred for the feminine sex (Justine 1, 145). As far as we recall, he was the only character whose sexual perversion de Sade ascribed to heredity. All the others had gradually acquired sexual perversions during their formative years. We are certain that de Sade who showed himself to be a profound savant of patho-sexual personalities here described from reality. And so it is in real life. Pederasty by heredity is the exception; pederasty by seduction, by vicious degeneracy and last but not least by mental illness, is the rule. Bressac develops the theory that the pathicus, of whom he was one, was destined by Nature to be an entirely different man from all others (Justine I, 162-164). He explained that this inborn passion rested upon a construction toute différente. It would be a stupidité to punish them for what was not their fault. Dolmancé, however, gave an entirely different explanation that suffices for most pederasts. "If the purpose of nature was not such then why did she make the openings to the exact proportion of our members. What other reason could there be for nature to have made round openings."
The tribades, too, in de Sade rejoiced at Grecian love, whether by artificial instruments or by the aid of a clitoris. The spread of this vice is described as tremendous by contemporary authors. Duvergier tells that the pederasts are much sought after and are well paid. Numerous scenes of pederasty appear in the pages of Justine and Juliette.
Since the sixteenth century pederasty had found an increasing horde of devotees in Paris. Mirabeau assures us that during the reign of Henry III "men were found in mutual embrace under the portals of the Louvre," and that under Louis XIV pederasty was governed under strict laws and statutes. Henry III was himself a homosexual. Henry IV was very much opposed to it but could not prevent the reappearance of homosexual intercourse in court under Louis XIII. Philipp Orleans, brother of Louis XIV, became a homosexual; the story of his unhappy marriage with Elizabeth Charlotte von der Pfalz, due to his preference for men, is well known. It is reported on contemporary authority that nobles in the court of Louis XIV vied to turn him from his perverted path so that they could rule him by a mistress. But the young king exhibited a deadly hate toward the men who so sought to influence him. One of the Gentlemen of the Chamber of the king reports in his Memoirs that in 1652 after a dinner with the fifteen year old king Cardinal Mazarin had sexual intercourse with him.
In an old work Gallant France (1695), which is the second part of the Amorous History of the Gauls of Prince of Bussy-Rabutin, there is a chapter on the founding of a pederasty club by the Duke of Grammont, Sire de Tilladet, Manicamp and Marquis de Biran. All members were investigated on the strength, health, potency, vitality and beauty of their bodies. Celibacy from women was a cardinal rule. Every member had to undergo a rigid regime to fit himself for the arduous duties and demands of his laybrethren. If one of the brothers married he had to explain if it had happened because he was forced by his parents, by reason of an inheritance, dowry, etc. He had at the same time to swear never to love his wife and to sleep with her only until she bore him a son. For this grace, special permission was also necessary and this was allowed him only once a week. The brothers were divided in four classes although the father-priors could possess anyone. Those wishing to enter the order were examined in a series by the four father-priors. A strict silence over the affairs of the club was enjoined and only those whose inclination for Greek love were known could be admitted to the rest. The pederastic orgies took place in a country house. The participants wore over their official robe a cross on which was represented in relief a man stepping on a woman. The club did not last long for a royal prince joined the ranks and the club was summarily banned by the king.
At any rate the cult of pederasty was still prevalent in the French court in the eighteenth century. It would have been a miracle if that lascivious roué, Louis XV, had not fallen a victim to paedicatio and other homosexual practices. So it is reported that he often showed himself nude to a handsome boy that he was fond of and often embraced him.
The Revolution also brought this vice to the highest point. We have already given many illustrations of pederasty. In the year 1798, Dupin, the Commissioner of the Department of the Seine, reported: "For some time there has spread a yet more shameful kind of immorality. The reports of the police-agents on pederasty have increased to a horribly enormous sum. Sodomy and sapphic love have also appeared with the same boldness until they are as prevalent as prostitution."
In his Porter of Chartreux of 1789, Rétif de la Bretonne declared that "pederasty, bestiality and other forms of immorality degraded France continually for five or six generations."
Flagellation, that mighty assistant of vice, was thoroughly described in all its branches by Marquis de Sade in all his seven works. We mention only the great scenes of flagellation in Justine and Juliette (Justine III, 129; Juliette II, 138-150) between women; (Juliette V, 335). Juliette with three young modists visits the home of the Duke of Dendemar in St. Maur; his sexual monomania consisted of whipping the girls until they bled; he had to pay great sums for his pleasurable sacrifices (Juliette I, 344 ff.).
Marquis de Sade had also made extensive literary researches on this subject. He mentioned the most important writings of his time on flagellation by Meibom and Boileau (Juliette V, 169). These studies had taught him that it was the man who at all times took the active role in flagellation. He was surprised that the active whipping found little preference in women with their natural cruelty and had Dolmancé hope for the time that women would also show themselves masters in this specialty (Philosophy in the Boudoir I, 157).
Interesting details are given by Cooper in his Flagellation and the Flagellants in the Eighteenth Century. Voltaire often mentions the whip especially when he wants to make the jesuits look ridiculous. The whip is also often mentioned in the memoirs of the time.
The blows were often imparted on even small children. It was asserted that thereby the muscles and skin were "strengthened." In all French convent schools the rod was the usual punishment for the young girl, as it was the favorite instrument for flagellation with the nuns. The holy sisters whipped their students with delight in the same manner that the holy fathers absolved their penitents.
During the Reign of Terror the nuns were waylaid and ignominiously flogged. The tragic case of Théroigne de Méricourt is well known. She was flogged by a band of women and as a consequence lost her reason. After the downfall of Robespierre the young girls on the street were disrobed and beaten by the anti-terrorists.
Shortly before the Reign of Terror there existed a Whipping Club whose feminine members "delightfully laid on the whip." Many respectable ladies belonged to this club of whose sexual tendency there can be no doubt.
There has already been so much written about Jean Jacques Rousseau’s preference for this kind of sexual excitation that we refer to Krafft Ebing for the story of his chastisement by Mademoiselle Lambercier. Cooper is full of stories of battles in which the fair sex took a prominent part. His reports on some causes célèbres of this kind are very interesting.
England is well known today as the classic land of sexual flagellation. One of her most famous flagellants was Theresa Berkeley in London, 28, Charlotte Street, who obtained great wealth and fame through her art. She possessed untold numbers of instruments of all kinds for excitation and enrichment of passion, "Thus, at her shop, whoever went with plenty of money, could be bitched, whipped, fustigated, scourged, needlepricked, half-hung, holly-brushed, furse-brushed, butcher-brushed, stinging-nettled, curry-combed, phlebotomized and tortured till he had a belly full." She also had prostitutes, a Negress and a gypsy for active flagellation. She invented a machine which caused the man fastened in it to experience voluptuous sensations (The Berkeley Horse). "There is a print in Mrs. Berkeley's memoirs, representing a man upon it quite naked. A woman is sitting in a chair exactly under it, with her bosom, belly and bottom exposed: she is manualizing his embolon, whilst Mrs. Berkeley is bitching his posteriors. The female acting as fricatrix was intended for Fisher, a fine, tall, dark-haired girl. Everyone who visited Charlotte Street at that day must recall her as well as the good humored blonde, Willis; the plump, tight, frisky and merryarsed Thurlow. Grenville with the enormous bubbies; Bentine, with breadth of hip and splendor of buttock; Oliver, the gypsy, whose brown skin, wicked black eyes, and medicean form would melt an anchorite; the mild and amiable Palmer with luxurious and well fledged mount, from whose tufted honors many a noble lord has stolen a sprig; and Pryce, the pleasing and complaisant, who, if birch was the question, could both give and take." Berkeley died in 1836, having amassed a fortune of 10,000 pounds sterling in eight years. Her correspondence containing letters from both sexes and from the highest classes in Europe were destroyed.
We gave this small description because we have found no description of the Institution of Mrs. Berkeley in modern works on flagellation and because there are to be found in de Sade's works similar machines in which the victims are tied.
Phlebotomy also plays an important part with de Sade. In the third volume of Justine there appeared a Prince Gernande, who could excite himself only by bleeding the veins of women. There were many such scenes in his works. Particularly horrible was the scene in which the prince bled his own wife and then satisfied himself sexually on her unconscious body (Justine III, 253).
Phlebotomy in the eighteenth century was an operation also practiced by the clergy. Brissaud stated that there were definite periods for bloodletting in convents. With the Carthusian friars, for example, the rule was five times a year, with the premonstrates once a year. The feasts of St. Matthew and Valentine were special seasons for bloodletting.
Raulin was accustomed to cure the frequent hysteria of women by phlebotomy. Brierre de Boismont reported the case of a man who had infusions made in the genitals and posteriors of his wife. As soon as he saw the blood, he became extremely excited and satisfied himself on her person.
De Sade gave special attention to "sexual medicines” (in the widest sense) in his works. Here, too, will plainly be seen that his descriptions had in almost every case an exact counterpart in the actual world.
It is no wonder that the many and unnatural debaucheries wore out the roués of de Sade and that they needed sexual stimulants to a great degree. There was no scarcity of aphrodisiacs of all kinds to enliven anew the impotent cravings of de Sade's characters. Delmonse had to rub very vigorously the scrotum of the impotent merchant Dubourg. This unfortunate had also to continually take bouillons composes d’aramotes et d’épins (Justine I, 62). Cornaro has whiskey used there. Oil of Wintergreen burns like the very devil. But Durand rubbed the member itself with a terribly exciting activity. The ancient Persians' use of asafoetida was also powerful. The odor of jasmine was also popular. De Sade also knew internal as well as external aphrodisiacs. Juliette used wine, liqueurs, opium (the opinion today is that opium has the negative result) and "other aphrodisiacs that were openly sold in Italy" (Juliette IV, 104). Durand has a regular business with aphrodisiacs and anti aphrodisiacs (Juliette III, 229).
We have already mentioned that the bordello of Madame Gourdan was richly furnished with sexual stimulants. The Pastilles à la Richelieu were also alluded to. Since the latter are of importance in relation to Marquis de Sade and their main ingredient, cantharides, "played an important rôle in France in the eighteenth century," a few words on these cantharidic stimulants may not be amiss. The cantharides mentioned by Dioscordies (Materia Medica, Lib. II, Cap. 65) have been used for a long time as sexual stimulants. The Roman poet Lucretius is said to have died as a result of an aphrodisiac containing cantharide. Ambroise Paré reports many such cases. In Paré's time the use of pastilles or bonbons was the fashion in France. The home of these bonbons with their aphrodisiac effect was Italy, from where they were introduced to France by Catherine de Medici. The courts of Henry III and Charles IX found employment for them. In the eighteenth century Richelieu made very prolific use of the seemingly innocent bonbons. His propaganda for the pastilles named after him had as a result their adoption as the fashion in the last year of the reign of Louis XV. At this time occurred the affair of Marquis de Sade in Marseilles, the bonbons playing a fatal rôle. The Secret Tablets of Madame du Barry, the Powder of Joy, the Seraglio- pastilles were all very probably cantharidic.
The cantharides were a dangerous method for they very easily caused inflammation of the kidneys, urethra and skin. The erections produced by them came by the excitation of the mucous membrane of the urethra and bladder. An advancement of sexuality can best be observed at the beginning of the action.
Cosmetics enjoyed an especially wide use. Charlatanry was at its height in this field. Thus in 1769 a society received the privilege of renting parasols on both sides of the Pont Neuf so that persons wishing to cross the bridge and protect their delicate skin from the ravages of the sun might hire a parasol at one end of the bridge and return it at the other. The aids for beauty were so numerous that Casanova had perfect right—he also liked to play the charlatan from time to time—in forbidding the use of all cosmetic applications to the Duchess of Chartres who suffered from acne. He prescribed a mild purgative and the constant cleansing.
For depilation Marquis de Sade mentioned Rusma, the Turkish depilatory. "Rusma" is an old and favorite depilatory of the Orientals. The Depilatory Paste or Rusma Turcorum or Nurék Persarum is composed of 2 parts auripigment, 15 parts calcaria and a 2.5 parts of wheaten flour. That is the prescription of J. J. Plenck, a famous dermatologist of the eighteenth century. It may be noted here, that Marquis de Sade had a great interest in all medical and anthropological matters. He studied by himself all the available scientific works of his time. We shall later mention how his wife had to continually supply him with books when he was in prison.
A notable anomaly in the eighteenth century was the so-called false virginities; its great frequency brought it into special prominence. The remainder of the hymen was sought and brought together artificially by astringent means, mainly by narrowing the introitus vaginae. This attempt had a long history in France. In the thirteenth chapter of the surgery of Henry de Mondeville, a physician of the fourteenth century, there are instructions on the deception of virginity by the use of astringent plants. A number of other methods to draw blood at the touch are also given. Such practices were ordinary occurrences in the France of the eighteenth century. We have already noted the virginity-water of Madame Gourdan. De Sade knew other methods for the restoration of the hymen. Delbènee praised her pomade and wanted to repair the already deflowered Laurette (Juliette I, 171) and gave to Juliette, victim of the same fate, a myrthus extract, which she had to rub in for nine days in order to arise on the tenth a virgin, (Juliette I, 179). Duvergier also used a similar virginity salve (Juliette I, 187).
In general this whole century was a golden age for toilette aids. It is notable that all important cosmetic aids of modern times were employed in the eighteenth century. There were hundreds of essences, pastes and salves, toilette waters and astringents. Especially important was, of course, the rouge. An anecdote of the Reign of Terror told by Mercier illustrates the high opinions of rouge by women:
The men likewise used the same toilette articles, rouged themselves, spilled "artificial tests" and depilated their entire body at the request of their mistress. A great achievement in the eighteenth century in the cosmetic field was the bath. In the latter half of the year they became an immense luxury and were mostly used for cosmetic baths. The heroines of de Sade after their full day's or night's work take their bath.
The writings of Marquis de Sade afford a frightful picture of the frequency of abortion and contraception which had a definite connection with cosmetics in the eighteenth century. The statistics of Galliot which began with the year of 1789 show what a horrible decline there was in the birth rate. "The state must go further: it must not only protect the infant but also the fetus." All the means used today were known then; every possible means was used to hinder conception or to force away the forms. Highly characteristic is the discussion in Philosophy in the Boudoir in which Madame de St. Ange, upon a question from Eugenie, told of the means of prevention: of éponges, which served the women, condoms which served the men and paedicatio, which was an excellent method for both parties. But if this "misfortune" had happened, the heroes and heroines of de Sade knew means and ways of killing the fruit in the womb (Juliette III, 204, 212).
A last group of sexual cures was the anti-venereal class, with which the country was flooded. For in spite of all the debaucheries there was a great fear of syphilis and the charlatans found a very gullible public for their lies. We are not certain whether the bordello with its emblazoned motto Safe Love fulfilled its promises. At any rate extreme precaution was certainly justified. Casanova had a cardinal principle never to sleep in a strange bed. Juliette always investigated her clients for syphilitic symptoms. A man tainted with syphilis received short shrift with Juliette. It is told in The English Spy how a man voluntarily got syphilis so that he could infect his mistress who would pass it on to his rival. A similar idea was carried out by de Sade in Philosophy in the Boudoir. There a syphilitic servant is brought in and before the eyes of the triumphant monster infected the unhappy Madame de Mistival, whereupon Dolmancé called out: Parbleu, voici une inoculation, comme Tronchin n'en fit de ses jours (Philosophy in the Boudoir).
Medical preventatives against syphilis were mainly fashioned in the cellars of the Palais Royal. There were also many who made their wares known by means of fugitive papers and posted advertisements of their wares an the streets and walls.
We have previously mentioned the charlatan Agirony and the "specificurn of Doctor Préval." The latter was perhaps the most notorious charlatan of the eighteenth century. It was indeed Guilbert de Préval who introduced Rétif de la Bretonne to the secret of Parisian prostitution and the artes amandi of the Palais Royal. The history of this arch-charlatan is told in detail in The English Spy.
Préval studied from 1746 in Cannes, where he built up a rich practice, and then moved to Paris to take his doctor's degree in anatomical studies in Paris. He spent over twenty years on the therapy of syphilis and discovered at the end of this period an "infallible cure" against this disease, of which he cured more than eight thousand people! The specific also possessed the power of curing all the other "blood and skin diseases." This cure was also a trustworthy prophylactic for syphilis. It was claimed to be a so-called eau fondante but really consisted of a sublimate of lime-water. It finally also served for a diagnosis of syphilis for which purpose it was, for example, used by Madame Gourdan. The announcement of this cure made an extraordinary sensation and "there was a tremendous riot in the old court when all the roués came storming at his door." Préval was received with the honors scarcely accorded to the discoverer of a new part of the world but was asked to perform his miracle in the presence of witnesses. Préval assented. In the June of 1772 there occurred the unbelievable. In the presence of respectable gentlemen our charlatan completed coition with an unfortunate prostitute who had already been under observation in the hospital of the Compassionate Sisters. He first, of course, had taken his infallible cure. He remained healthy but it was not investigated whether this immunity was the result of a previous but indiscernible syphilis. Parent Duchatelet "could still name the witnesses of this remarkable scene, but the high circle in which they moved prevented the disclosure of their names."
Since we are not in the position of Parent Duchatelet we can name the gentlemen. There were the Duke of Chartres, Count de la Marche, Richelieu, Duke of Nivernois, and other "cavaliers." Préval was ordered by a Parisian magistrate to try his cure on the syphilitics in Bicêtre. Six men and four women were given him for this purpose. These affairs came to the knowledge of the Parisian Medical Faculty and at a notable meeting on August 8, 1772, the name of Préval was stricken from the lists of their members. He started action against the faculty and brought the suit before the Parliament. The decree of the faculty was lifted early in 1777 but on August 13, 1777, it was again confirmed and Préval in addition had to pay a penalty of 3000 francs. The arguments for the decision of the faculty were of a questionable character. We quote from the charges: "It is a matter of morals to investigate to what degree may be permitted a remedy which has no other purpose but the enhancement of pleasure in vice and removal of all restraint and punishment. We believe it would be a calamity to allow any such purpose for destruction of morals." Even Girtaner, a vigorous moralist, noted: "The discoverer of such a method earns the thanks and not the hatred of the human race for thereby in a short time syphilis throughout the entire world could be destroyed. And what friend of man does not desire so fortunate a revolution!"
The main preventative in the eighteenth century for venereal diseases was the same as today's—the condom. We have pointed many times to the wide use of condoms of which there was a whole arsenal in every bordello. The prostitutes in business for themselves also used these redingotes d'Angleterre. When Casanova came to Marseilles and according to his custom sought his first relaxation from the trip at a prostitute's where he expressed fear of disease, the girl offered english caps. But he did not care for them because they were of poor quality. Thereupon the beauty offered "better quality at 3 francs apiece and which were sold only in dozen lots." Casanova bought a whole dozen and had a few specimens adapted for the use of a fifteen-year-old servant girl.
The condom was discovered by a London doctor in the court of Charles II, named Dr. Conton; hence it should really be called conton. According to the plan of the doctor it was to be prepared from ceaca of lambs. For this purpose the desired length of the intestine was cut from the lamb, dried and then well oiled to make it soft and pliable. Proksch in his Prevention of the Venereal Diseases gives a complete history of this discovery and believed that in modern times "the hyper-moralistic ravings against the condom have almost entirely ceased." All doctors recognize the high value of the condom as a method of protection against venereal disease. Most of the recognition of the protective value of the condom came involuntary from sources one never expected. In 1826 there appeared a Papal Bull by Leo XII in which he damned this discovery "because it hindered the arrangement of providence." The moralistic attacks against the condom hold no water with those who know that everything in this world is misused and that the health of society must be considered more important than the caprices of an individual. The doctor who protects the health of the family cannot take the stand of the theologian.
After detailed physical and chemical examination of forty-eight varieties of condoms Proksch came to the conclusion that those made of india-rubber were the best and withstood the greatest amount of pressure.
We finally come to the last group of aphrodisiacs. They were the substitutes for man; the artificial apparatus by which women compensated for the absence of man. They were the leather phallus, godmichés, the consoler or as in English dildo. These artificial penes have been in use since ancient times. During the eighteenth century they became very prevalent in France. De Sade described the workings of an automatic godmiché (Juliette V, 328) as well as other sharp pointed instruments that were used by the tribade Zatta (Joliette VI, 124). The engravings in Philosophy in the Boudoir show that the dildos used in the eighteenth century were similarly constructed to the ones found in France today. Garnier gives the following description: "Here in Paris they make perfect imitations of hard red rubber; they are sold secretly at the known addresses to all the interested parties. The mechanism is most ingenious. They can be blown up and filled with milk or any other liquid. They heat up in contact with the vagina and the liquid flows out at the psychological moment to give the proper illusion.”
These things were not only used in lesbian bouts but also between male and female; Madame de St. Ange used it for paedicatio of Dolmancé (Philosophy in the Boudoir II, 31).
Gamier believed that the Japanese Balls, which were used in Japan, China and India from the earliest times by nymphomaniacs, first reached Europe in 1819 and were then written up in the Dictionary of Medical Science. This is entirely wrong. We have shown that these Pommes d'Amour were already well known in France in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Sine Baccho et Cerere friget Venus. Good food and drink are also aphrodisiacs not to be despised. Marquis de Sade knew this well. In the very beginning of Juliette, Delbène called out after the orgy: “Déjeunons près amils, restausons-nous; lorsqu’on a beaucoup déchargé il faut réparer ce qu’on a perdu” (Juliette I, 10). "Good plentiful food makes one efficient for physical love," said Noirceuil (Juliette II, 151). "Let us drink," said Rodin, "I love to prepare myself for the joys of love by a good drink" (Justine I, 332). Ambroise described "the powers that Bacchus lend to Venus" (Justine III, 126). The participants in the horrible orgy at Minister Saint Fond's prepared themselves by "splendid wine and opulent food (Juliette II, 15). Juliette and Queen Charlotte of Naples drank two flasks full of champagne between their love scenes (Juliette IV, 18). A horrible gourmée was Count Gernande who had for a motto: "Intemperance is my goddess, her image stands next to that of Venus in my temple." He prepared himself for the joys of love by drinking 12 flasks of wines of different kinds, 2 flasks of liqueur, 1 flask of rum, 2 glasses of punch and 10 cups of coffee! (Justine III, 231-232).
The eighteenth century was "in truth the age of great chefs and cuisines.” Everyone was at that time a gourmand, especially among the aristocracy where "very excellent meals were prepared." Indigestion was often the punishment of the glutton. The Field Marshal, Prince Soubise, was "more famous for his opulent dinners than his battles." The prince had an especial preference for a sumptuous omelet that cost one hundred thalers. Voltaire spoke very sharply against gastronomic excesses which he held were ruinous both for mind and body. The alcoholic parties which under the regency took place every evening in the Palais Royal, were again adopted under the rule of Louis XVI. According to Brillat Savarin the chevaliers and the abbés were the greatest connoisseurs of transcendental gastronomy. Déjeuners littéraires et philosophiques et soupers célèbres were the fashion throughout all France. Casanova, de la Bretonne and many others have often described such feasts.
Reichardt has well described how the alcoholic debaucheries served to enkindle the muses in the Reign of Terror. He concluded that the unaccustomed strong drinks were in the main responsible for that bloody September Day.
It is notable that Marquis de Sade delineated the vegetarian and the anti-alcoholic types in his novels. The first code of modern vegetarianism was the work of J. Newton, Return to Nature and Defense of the Vegetable Regime, which appeared in London in 1811. De Sade described in Bandole a typical vegetarian and prohibitionist who refrained for sexual grounds. He ate little, and then only vegetables, and drank only water. A number of such characters and beliefs appeared in Justine and Juliette.
The fact that prostitution and crime go hand-in-hand was clearly stated in Marquis de Sade's novels. Fatime, the sixteen-year-old friend of Juliette, had as her specialty stealing from her customers, for one of the most famous thieves, Dorval, of the suburb La Villette. The latter had reported to him by spies through all Paris the arrival of every stranger, whom he had seduced and robbed with the help of his prostitutes. He experienced intense sexual pleasure if he were present at the execution of such robberies. We shall later speak of his theory and justification of robbery. The chief passion of the Venetian tribade, Zanetti, was also robbery. Such personalities to whom robbery was a delight, appeared very often in de Sade.
The greediness for money at this time in France was very enormous. We read in Rameau's Nephew: "There is no longer a country. I see only tyrants and slaves from one end of the country to another. Gold is All, and he without gold is Nought." Gold, as Madame de Hurset has it, was the universal motor of the age. The robbers and thieves who flooded the pages of de Sade's novels formed the real framework of the Revolution and were closely connected with prostitution in the city and provinces. Since 1789 robbery and murder took a sharp climb and became daily occurrences during the Revolution. The first half of the year 1792 proved most prolific in robberies and murders. The prisons and guards had increased almost double. August the 10th and the September Day both gave a dreadful impulse to all kinds of crimes.
Paris drew more and more to itself the swarms of criminals from all over the country. The first few months of the year 1796 saw armed bands of thieves openly parading down the streets looking for plunder. They would search for well-to-do houses, break in, terrify and murder the inhabitants and then proceed at their leisure in despoiling the house.
The reasons for this criminal state of affairs in Paris and the vicinity were drawn up in an official report: the number of public places of depravity, the degeneration of morals, the hiding places of prostitutes and robbers, the schools of vice, the balls, the gambling dens, the impotency of the police force because of politics, numbers, etc., etc.
All conversation in Paris turned on murders and robberies. The impunity of crime called forth more and more disrespect for the law and for continual imitations of the latest crimes. It meant the citizen’s life to be found on strange streets in the dark. Even the respectable streets had to be patrolled by a body of citizens at night. Jaded Paris certainly received its morning quota of thrills when it heard the latest recitals of the crimes of the night before.
Poisoning ever follows in the wake of prostitution and sexual debaucheries. Even in Ancient Rome, Suburra, the residential and business section of prostitutes, was the gathering place for poison-makers and sellers. It was no accident that the notorious poisoners like Brinvilliers and Voisin, were sexually passionate women. De Sade, with his profound knowledge of all relationships of the sexual life, thoroughly understood this connection and brought it out in the description of his characters. In a highly intuitive manner he painted the mood and passions of the poisoners who received tremendous sexual satisfaction from their profession (Juliette III, 214). Poisoning was also given the preference over other kinds of killing because of its quietness. Verneuil said: "No forceful act! Under your very eyes death surprises the victim, without noise or scandal. O Justine! Justine! Poison is a splendid power! How many services has it performed! How many people enrichened! Of how many useless beings has it freed the world!" (Justine III, 235.)
The poisoner Durand living in the Faubourg was an erotic monster par excellence (Juliette III, 220 ff.). De Sade plainly described her as a sickly degenerate individual. He displayed an hysteric fit of Durand that represented a panorama of classic poisoning with her cold, calculated cruelty, her cynical atheism and her colossal sexual excitability. She had an entire garden full of poisonous plants and a great number of prepared poisons, emmenagogs, aphrodisiacs and anti-aphrodisiacs. Her main poisons were: the poudre du crapaud verdier which when given to a girl in coitus gave the other party the greatest of pleasure in seeing her moribund contractions and sufferings; the chair calcinée de l’engu, espèce de tigre d’Ethiopie, by which a young man was removed from the world; the poison royal by which, according to de Sade, many members of the royal family of Louis XV were poisoned. There were also poisoned needles and arrows and various snake-poisons, Cucuruca, Cocol, Polpoc, Aimorrhois, etc.
Minister Saint Fond carried on a wholesale poisoning. Likewise Noirceuil sang a hymn of praise to Brinvilliers (Juliette II, 31 and 85); Juliette poisoned Count Lorsange with the poison royal and mixed strammonium in the chocolate of the monstrous cannibal, Minski (Juliette III, 285 and IV, 15). When Durand and Juliette opened a bordello in Venice, the poison-trade was a profitable sideline (Juliette V1, 251).
Since the seventeenth century, which had a real epidemic of poisoning under the rule of Louis XIV and the aristocracy, poison became the ever-increasing favorite of the land. At that time the notorious Abbé Guibourg, the organizer of the Devil's Masses, supplied the entire aristocracy with poison and lovephiltres. Poisonings indeed became so numerous that the King had to organize a special tribunal, the chamber royale de l’arsénale or chamber ardente which dealt exclusively with cases of poisoning. The poisoner best known was Marie Madelaine Marquise de Brinvilliers, very often mentioned by Marquis de Sade. It is interesting to note that this female devil reveled in sexual debaucheries from earliest youth. An insatiable sexual appetite was her lot throughout her whole life. She early learned the art of making poisons and devoted herself zealously to this field. She poisoned her father, two brothers, sisters and many others. Upon discovery of her crime she was beheaded. The corpse was then burned and scattered to the four winds so that as Madame de Sévigné wrote in her letters: "All Paris ran the danger of breathing in the atoms of this little woman and thereby becoming infected with the same poisonous desires."
And this infection actually spread. The poisonings increased in dreadful fashion. The most notorious poisoners of the seventeenth century, Voisin, Vigouroux, Oeillets and Delagragne were also active in the field of prostitution. Both trades developed hand-in-hand in the eighteenth century. The most famous poisoner was Desrues and his wife, whose one desire was to get rich at any price, and who poisoned all who stood in their way.
De Sade had this Desrues serve as hangman of the great robber Cartouche at an orgy (Juliette VI, 323). Rétif de la Bretonne described the whole affair in the fourth volume of Gentle Ladies.
The works of Marquis de Sade drip with the blood of his century. No one before or after him has described with such monstrous fidelity that dangerous union which ruled steadfastly and securely throughout the century: the union of the century—Vice and Blood! He brought his age to eternal life in the pages of his novels. Hence his works have such horrible effects upon the reader. The terror and fear, the horror and dread, the vice and blood, all have their living corpse in the novels of Marquis de Sade: Justine and Juliette.
The executions in the eighteenth century were public. Before the Revolution the executions had a horrible effect upon the populace: during the Revolution the guillotine had an even more powerful influence for cruelty and ferocity.
Montesquieu in his Spirit of the Laws as well as Voltaire and many others, described the public executions and declared that they were making the people more cruel in spirit, regarding the executions as pleasurable spectacles.
Until the Revolution the principal kinds of death penalties in France were quartering, the wheel and the gallows. The less stringent decapitation was so seldom practiced that even the executioners forgot the methods as was shown by the execution of Count de Lally in 1766. The usual form of execution was the wheel, often met with in de Sade. The unfortunate delinquent was stretched out on a wagon-wheel. The executioner with a heavy iron band broke the upper and larger bones of the victim with great dexterity so that he might be awarded the approval of the spectators. The criminal was then fastened to the spokes of the wheel and exhibited to the spectators in his dying convulsions.
The punishment at the gallows is well known. We shall become acquainted with quartering at the later description of the horrible execution of Damiens.
An execution was always "a great festival for the populace" which was extremely curious to see all the morbid details. Most of the executions took place on the Place de Grève. The most famous were those of the robber Cartouche and his band (November 27, 1721), the robber Nivet and his accomplices (1729) by the "wheel," Deschauffonis, who was first strangled and then burned (1733), the wife-murderer Lescombat by the gallows (1755), Derues and his wife by the wheel (1777). The day and hour set for the execution were cried throughout the streets, printed accounts of the trial were hawked by street-urchins. In this tumultuous and often passionately moved mass, women and children were not those least impatient. Each followed avec ardeur all the dramatic points of the execution which often lasted for more than an hour.
The executioner, surrounded by his servants, bore the expression of a seigneur on display; he was barbered and powdered, clothed in white silk and looked about very proudly. His every movement was jealously watched. The condemned soon learnt whether the crowd was in a good or bad mood according to the expression of sympathetic or curse words on the part of the spectators.
The most horrible execution, perhaps of all time, was that of unfortunate Robert François Damiens who made an attempt on the life of Louis XV and on March 21 of that year was tortured to death. Thomas Carlyle in his The French Revolution cries out: "Ah, the eternal stars look down as if shedding tears of compassion down on the unfortunate people." We believe that a thousand executions by the guillotine cannot balance the terrible execution such as that of poor Damiens, who merited the sympathy of heaven and the stars. This shameful deed of the ancien régime could not have been washed away by all the blood that fell during the Revolution.
And when the individual details are given, the cruelty in Marquis de Sade's works seems entirely conceivable and heralds the passionate bloodthirstiness of the Revolution.
We possess the following account of the execution of Damiens by an eyewitness, de Croy, which we follow in the main. The same judgment was carried out on Damiens as on the murderer of Henry IV, François Ravaillac, on May 27, 1610. On the morning of March 28, 1757 Damiens was put on the rack; with glowing hot forceps his breasts, arms, legs and calves were torn out and in the wounds were poured molten lead, boiling oil, burning pitch mixed with red hot wax and sulphur. At three o'clock in the afternoon the victim was first brought to Notre Dame and then to the Place de Grève. All the streets that he had to pass by were packed with people who showed "neither hate nor pity." Charles Manselet reported: "Wherever one turns one's eyes one sees only crowds in Rue de la Tannerie! The crowds at the intersection of Rue de I'Épine and Rue de Mouton! The crowds in every part of the Place de Grève. The court itself was a compact mass, consisting of all possible classes, particularly the rabble."
At half past four that dreadful spectacle began. In the middle of the court was a low platform upon which the victim, who showed neither fear nor wonder but asked only for a quick death, was bound fast with iron rings by the six executioners so that his body was completely bound. Thereupon his right hand was extended and was placed in a sulphurous fire; the poor fellow let loose a dreadful outcry. According to Manselet, while his hair was burning, they stood on end. Thereupon his body was again attacked with glowing tongs and pieces of flesh were ripped from his bosom, thighs and other parts; molten lead and boiling oil were again spilled on the fresh wounds, the resulting stench (declared Richelieu in his Memoirs), infected the air of the entire court. Then four horses on the four sides of the platforms pulled hard on the heavy cables bound to his arms, shoulders, hands and feet. The horses were spurred on so that they might pull the victim apart. But they were unused to acting as the handmaids of executioners. For more than a hour they were beaten to strain away so that they might tear off the legs or arms of the victim. Only the wailing cries of pain informed the "prodigious number of spectators" of the unbelievable sufferings that a human creature had to endure. The horses now increased to six, were again whipped and forced to jerk away at the cables. The cries of Damiens increased to a maniacal roaring. And again the horses failed. Finally the executioner received permission from the judges to lighten the horrible task of the horses by cutting off the chains. First the hips were freed. The victim "turned his head to see what was happening," he did not cry but only turned close to the crucifix which was held out to him and kissed it while the two father-confessors spoke to him. At last after one and one-half hours of this "unparalleled suffering" the left leg was torn off. The people clapped their hands in applause! The victim betrayed only "curiosity and indifference." But when the other leg was torn off he started anew his wailing. After the chains on his shoulders had been cut off his right arm was the first to go. His cries became weaker and his head began to totter. When the left arm was ripped off the head fell backwards. So there was only left a trembling rump that was still alive and a head whose hair had suddenly become white. He still lived! As the hair was cut off and his legs and hands collected and dropped into a basket, the father-confessors stepped up to the remainder of Damiens. But Henry Sanson, the executioner, held them back and told them that Damiens had just drawn his last breath. "The fact is" wrote trustworthy Rétif, "that I saw the body still move about and the lower jaw move up and down as if he wanted to speak." The rump still breathed! His eyes turned to the spectators. It is not reported if the people clapped their hands a second time. At any rate during the length of the entire execution none moved from their places in the court or from the windows of adjoining buildings. The remainder of this martyr was burnt at a stake and the ashes strewn to the four winds. "Such was the end of that poor unfortunate who it may well be believed—suffered the greatest tortures that a human being has ever been called upon to endure." So concluded the Duke de Croy, an eyewitness, whose report we have almost literally translated. We will give a few more accounts by eyewitnesses of that fateful day when an entire populace greedily waited through few hours for the most dreadful tortures that the world had ever seen.
"The assemblage of people in Paris at this execution was unbelievable. The citizen of near and far provinces, even foreigners, came for the festival. The windows, roofs, streets were packed head on head. Most surprising of all was the dreadful impatient curiosity of women who strained for closer views of the torturings." Madame du Hausset tells in her memoirs that gambling went on during the execution and that wagers were made on the length of the duration of the tortures by Damiens.
Casanova, one of those who came from a foreign country to see the execution, reported a scene that was an excellent if terrible example of the theory of de Sade, that the tortures of another spur on real pleasure. He writes: "On March 28, the day of the Martyrdom of Damiens, I called for the ladies at Lambertini's and since the carriage could scarcely hold us all, I placed my charming friend on my lap without much difficulty and so amused ourselves until we came to the Place de Grève. The three ladies pressed as close to each other as they could so that they could all look through the window. They rested on their arms so we could see over their heads.
"We had the patience to maintain our uncomfortable position for four hours of this horrible spectacle. The execution of Damiens is too well-known for me to write about it. Also because the description would take too long and because nature revolts at such atrocities. During the execution of this sacrifice of the jesuits (his execution was said to have been done by order of the jesuits), I had to turn my eyes and hold my ears so that I might not hear that heart-rending cry when he had but half of his body. But Lambertini and her old friend made not the slightest movement; was that because of the cruelty of their souls? I had to pretend that I believed them when they said that his crime had prevented them from feeling sympathy for his plight. The fact is that Tiretta occupied herself during the execution in a most peculiar manner. She lifted her skirt high because, she said, she didn't want it dirtied. And her friend obliged her in the same way. Their hands were busily engaged during all the tortures."
Commentaries to Casanova's account are superfluous. That it was not an isolated case of satyriasis but one of the phases accompanying the horrible execution and calling forth passionate ecstasies was shown clearly by the fact that this charming sexual maneuver lasted two hours as expressly mentioned by Casanova later. "The action was repeated and without a resistance.” That Louis XV told the embassies all the details of the execution with great satisfaction is not strange. The execution of the poisoner Desrues who, on May 6, 1772, was placed on the wheel and then burnt alive, was also "well attended by a distinguished crowd."
The Revolution hence found a ready public for executions. We have mentioned a number of times that de Sade witnessed all the atrocities of the Reign of Terror since he was freed from prison in 1790 and was a prisoner again only from December, 1793 to July 28, 1794. The first forerunners of the September murder, the storming of the Bastille (July 14, 1789), the drive to Versailles (October 5, 1789), the bloody events in Avignon in 1790 and 1791, showed what roles the women played in the executions and murders. In Avignon the fight between the Papal Aristocrats and the Patriotic Brigands for the possession of Avignon flamed to white heat. Thomas Carlyle has well described the open street murders and the role of l’escuger in Bk. V, Chap. III of his The French Revolution. "A hundred and thirty corpses of men, nay of women and even of children (for the trembling mother, hastily seized, could not leave her infant), lie heaped in that glacière; putrid under putriditics: the horror of the world!"
Marquis de Sade was a keen observer. He had besides become very well acquainted with contemporary literature during his stay in prison. It is therefore no wonder that we find the signs of both properties in his work. What seems to us most characteristic is the great rôle that ethnology plays with de Sade. That was no accident. The first pretences to folklore started in France. Lafitau wrote the first important work of this kind in 1724 on the American savages. The great interest in the wild races was increased by the number of expeditions of French savants in the eighteenth century. We name only such well known figures as Bouguer, La Condamine, Bougainville, La Pérouse, Marchand, d'Auteroche, Duhalde, Charlevoix, Savary, Le Vaillant, Volney, Dumont. In a tentative fashion comparative analyses of morals and customs of primitive races and the development of humanity were essayed. The glorification of European civilization thus started from these early ideas of ethnology. Lafitau says: "I have read with great irritation the usual works on savage races; they are described to us as people who have no religious instincts, no knowledge of a God, no personality, neither laws, justice nor organization; men who have only the form in common with us. They indeed differ but little from animals." This conception of savage races is also found in de Sade.
He justified all the vice and cruelty found in the savage races. James Cook found pederasty rampant in the South Seas. Therefore it was good (Philosophy in the Boudoir I, 201). The cruelty of women was the same all over the world. Zingua, Queen of Angola (often mentioned by de Sade), the "most cruel of all women" sacrificed her lover after her pleasure, had battles fought for her and gave herself to the victor and had all pregnant women under thirty years of age stamped to death in a huge mortar. (Philosophy in the Boudoir, 1856.) Zoë, the wife of the Chinese Emperor, found the greatest pleasure in having criminals executed before her very eyes, and had all slaves sacrificed in the bed chamber where she was engaged with her husband. The greater the cruelty, the greater the pleasure. She found her greatest enjoyment in watching men roasted alive! Theodora amused herself by castrating men (ib., p. 157). De Sade also told the well known story of Amerigo Vespucci, that the women of Florida had their men place small poisonous insects in their members which swelled up tremendously at the contact and caused an insatiable libido accompanied by dreadful pain and ulcers (Philosophy in the Boudoir I, 157). De Sade had ethnological examples in plenty for poisoning, prostitution, anthropophagy, sexual degeneration, Malthusianism, atheism, etc. The Bible, for one, gave him a number of examples. Then the Africans, Asiatics, Turks, Chinese, etc., etc. De Sade had all the facts. He had all the available material and quoted that in Lapland, Tartary and America it was "an honor to prostitute one's wife," that the Illyrians celebrated remarkable mass orgies, that adultery flourished among the Greeks, that the Romans borrowed one another's wives, that his beloved Zingua had made a law that proscribed vulgivaguibilité of the women. Sparta, Formosa, Otaheiti, Cambodia, China, Japan, Peru, Cucuana, Riogabor, Scotland, etc., afforded him a mass of convincing examples on the justification of his theories.
All bizarre ideas, all remarkable cases of notorious erotic monsters were made use of by de Sade. Noirceuil declared that he would marry twice in one day and indeed at ten o'clock dressed as a woman he married a man; a twelve o'clock, dressed as a man, he married a boy who was married as a woman. Juliette also wanted to marry in the same church and at the same time, two tribades, one dressed as a woman and another dressed as a man. This, of course, was an imitation of the double union of Nero who married Tigellinus as a woman and Sporus as a man (Juliette VI, 319). Juliette, who did not want to fall behind Noirceuil in imitative talent, took an example from the Empress Theodora. She sprinkled barley in her most secret part and had the geese peck there, thus affording her continued pleasure (Juliette IV, 341).
De Sade made continual mention of Marshal Gilles Laval de Rais throughout Justine, Juliette and the Philosophy in the Boudoir. This "bluebeard" was a man of elegant appearance and great learning. At the age of 27 he left the court and army, cast off his wife and child, disappeared to his lonely castle, delved in mystical studies, alchemy, devil-craft and similar pursuits, finally gave himself up to sexual debaucheries and became a pederast, kidnapper, murderer, sadist, coprophiliac, etc., etc. This monster systematically murdered over 140 children in his castle. The victim was thrown on the floor, his throat cut deep and Gilles de Rais drank in his pleasures in watching the convulsive movements of the body. Then the extremities were cut off, breast and stomach opened and the entrails ripped out. At times he sat on the body of the victim to feel the death struggles. He also beheaded the corpse, took the head in his hands, looked at it closely and kissed it passionately. He often said to his accomplices: "No one in the world understands or can understand what I have done in my life. There is no other person who could have enacted my deeds." The heroes of de Sade spoke with similar pride of their crimes.
But the very age of Marquis de Sade was full of similar figures! "How many secret privileged criminals were there," asked Michelet, "who were not prosecuted? How many murders were set down as simple disappearances?"
De Sade also mentioned very often Count Charolais (1700-1760) who "committed murder for pleasure." This Count combined a raging cynicism with an unbelievable boldness. He loved to see blood flowing at his orgies and executed the courtesans who were brought to him in a dreadful fashion. "In the middle of his debaucheries with his mistress he would suddenly shoot a roof-thatcher. The rolling of the body from the roof afforded him infinite satisfaction." Abbé de Beauffremont is also said to have shot down people on the roofs. De Sade indeed placed this monomania in his register of sexual perversions. Juliette shot her father, while satisfying herself sexually with another man, in order to increase the pleasure (Juliette III, 115).
According to Michelet, Charolais loved the fair sex only "in bloody condition.” His father, Prince Condé, had derived his pleasure from poisoning people as, for example, the poet Santeul, and had willed to his sons, the Duke of Bourgogne and Prince Charolais, these perverse inclinations. Both served as accomplices at the orgies of Madam de Prie. One day, there appeared a Madame de Sart S… who when undressed by the princes was lightly browned in a servette. In spite of this experience the victim again came to the house of de Prie and this time was "roasted like a bud." Michelet expressly mentioned that the Duke of Bourgogne had this horrible idea. This monster was described in Juliette as Duke Dendemar, who poured burning oil on the naked bodies of four prostitutes (Juliette I, 352).
The notorious anthropophagist, Blaize Ferrage, called Seyé, seemed to have served the Marquis as a model. This man terrorized the Pyrenees, killed men, women and especially young children; he ate men only when hungry; he used the women sexually before he murdered them; it was reported that he especially satisfied his passion in the most brutal manner on children. On December 12, 1782, he was condemned to death by the whel; on the following day, only 25 years old, he was executed. De Sade described such an anthropophagist in Minski, the "Hermit of the Apennines" (Juliette III, 313).
Brunet mentioned additional sadistic types of the eighteenth century. A respectable Pole, author of many historical works, Count von Potocki, committed crimes "of the kind of Marquis de Sade." In Lyons the morals before the Revolution were so degenerate that "a number of sadistic outrages took place within a short time." Michelet rightly said in his History of the French Revolution that "not without justice did a notorious writer find a number of his episodes in his horrible novels in Lyons."
Jean Paul Marat, undoubtedly the most bloodthirsty person among the great Revolutionaries, gave the Marquis many ideas that are to be found in his novels. "He behaved like a drunkard who had washed himself in blood and was greedy for the flow of more blood." He advised mass murders in his Friend of the People and returned again and again to this favorite topic of his. We will encounter this idea of mass murders more than once in de Sade's novels.
In the year 1772, after the Marsellais Scandal, Marquis de Sade and his cousin fled to Italy where they remained for six years. The result of this story was the description of Italian conditions which occupy more than three volumes of Juliette (from the end of the third volume to the end of the sixth volume). The Marquis made it clear that he knew Italy from his own experience and said (Juliette III, 290): "Those who know me are aware that I went to Italy with a very pretty woman whom I, by a unique principle of obscene philosophy, introduced to the Grandduke of Toscana, the Pope, Princess Borgia, the King and Queen of Naples. They may be assured that I have truthfully described the actual morals of these persons. Had the reader himself been an eyewitness he could not have described them more truthfully. The reader may also be assured that I have faithfully described my journey with the greatest accuracy."
Italy was undoubtedly the breeding-ground of real modern and refined immorality. We have but to mention Pietro Aretino, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, Giulio Romano and Agostino and Annibale Carracci, those great artists of passion. In comparison how innocent and naive sound the love-adventures in Boccaccio's Decameron! The Renaissance and the jesuits started a new era in the sexual life of Italy.
Marquis do Sade described the growth of prostitution in Italy as enormous. All the cities that Juliette visited overflowed with prostitutes of all kinds who bore themselves proudly and were in no way ashamed. According to the glossary of the Pope a real whore was one who had sinned at least 23,000 times! What an enormous mount of sins Italy had on its poor head!
Venice was especially degenerate in its sexual life and Marquis do Sade had some horrible things to tell (Juliette IV, p. 144 ff.). The courtesans, for centuries the "pestilence of the city," were glorified in Venice. "Where in the world were there so many charms and pleasures as in Venice? Where were the courtesans prettier, better formed and more accomplished as priestesses of Cytherea? To Venice on the first train came all the roués, to taste every sin they could imagine and to find many they had never dreamed of. Only one purpose led all to Venice. This was the significance of the city of lagoons: The metropolis of absolute freedom for sexual delights. The prostitutes enjoyed the especial protection of the authorities."
Italy was very famous for its pederasty. Marquis de Sade, in this point certainly a true observer, cried: "The back is the best part of Italy" (Juliette III, 290). This was the inheritance from Greece and Rome. Dante even mentioned the great spread of homosexualism in the fifteenth and sixteenth stanza of the Inferno. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) swore allegiance in the widest sense to pederasty and was said to have raised his Ganymede to a cardinalship. A few cardinals asked the Pope to be allowed to practice pederasty and the Pope is said to have granted it. The following verse found its adherent in Pope Sixtus IV.
In the eighteenth century pederasty was the daily fare in Italy. Indeed one ran the danger of being attacked by pederasts in the open streets. Casanova told of such an attempt that a man made upon him. Cardinal Brancaforte, one of the greatest roués of the world, according to Casanova, "when he went into a bordello he went in to stay," was especially fond of pederasty. At a stay in Paris a young girl of Padua confessed to him that some men had taken certain freedoms with her that were strongly forbidden in the codes. Before he granted her absolution he desired to hear every detail of the crime. At each recital he would cry "but this is monstrous! Oh, my dear, you have committed a horrible sin—but it’s a very pretty story." Casanova, gave many similar anecdotes.
Even today masculine protection in Italy is more general than in any other country. "In Naples, today, on the Via Toledo young men offer themselves to passersby and the pimps proudly describe their masculine as well as feminine wares." Moll, who tells this in his Perversions of the Sex Instinct believes that Italy has always been more disposed to homosexualism than all other countries of Europe.
It is unnecessary to add that the Italian clergy of the eighteenth century played a great part in these sexual debaucheries. The enormous number of the clergy that overran the entire country speaks for itself. Joseph Goroni, whose interesting Memoirs have been verified as historically accurate, estimated that the Kingdom of Naples (without counting Sicily) had 60,000 monks, 3,000 lay brothers and 22,000 nuns in a population of 480,000. Those clergy were of an "unheard of ignorance" and of a monstrous débauche crapuleuse. The convents were scenes of most depraved orgies. The clergy was in addition so rich that it possessed one-third of all the property in the country. Casanova was escorted in all the Italian bordellos by the clergy. The horrible abuse of castrates for spiritual purposes is an additional proof of the extreme depravity of the Italian clergy.
Zoophilia and sodomy were also more rampant in Italy than in other countries. Marquis de Sade saw in the house of Princess Borgiose a regular parade of turkey-cocks, a great bull-dog, one ape and a goat used as Maîtres de plaisir! (Juliette IV, 262.) The shepherds in Sicily were one and all said to have preferred goats. Cardinal Bellarmin after 1624 had "immoral intercourse with women and four pretty goats." Casanova was replete with information on sexual affairs and conditions in Italy. In his own words "there was no kind of depravity that was not practiced in Italy, especially among the clergy." Marquis de Sade's description of Pope Pius VI and Queen Charlotte of Naples will prove interesting.
According to de Sade this Pope was a great roué (Juliette IV, 26 f.); Juliette had a long conversation with him on the immorality of the Popes (TV, 270, ff.) and called him "an old ape" (IV, 285). Later His Holiness held an equally long discourse and his conclusion was that murder was the "simplest and most legitimate action in the world" (IV, 370) and did not fall behind this assurance in his numerous orgies (V, I ff.).
Was Pope Pius VI such a man? History assents only partly. Pius VI (1775-1798), previously Giovanni Angelo, Prince Braschi, was one of the most beautiful men of his times, "tall, of noble appearance and rudulent complexion." He carried his royal wand coquettishly, liked to show his well-rounded lines and laid great emphasis on his harboring.
He had the clergy and the faithful worship him with a stupid veneration, but which often concealed an ironical attitude. Pius was regarded in the Vatican as a much bespotted man, outside, as a god. When he stopped into the street, the women cried: "Quanto è bello, quanto è bello!" Cardinal Bemis called him a lively child who had always to be watched. According to Casanova, he approved of prostitution; according to Gorani, he had many mistresses and even committed incest with his natural daughter. In all, a handsome man with too many vanities that he could not help but succumb to.
Marquis do Sade described Queen Charlotte of Naples as the perfect tribade (Juliette V, 258) and wrote of her charms "according to nature." She, as well as her husband, King Ferdinand IV, were distinguished by their high degree of passionate cruelty and often expressed themselves with a cold fervor on the great Neapolitan festival, at which 400 persons were killed (Juliette VI, 1).
Here Marquis de Sade actually described "according to nature." Gorani and Coletta as well as other authorities, agree that Charlotte was an actual Messalina and Ferdinand a suitable consort.
The relation of Charlotte to the famous Lady Emma Hamilton, the huntress of Nelson, was especially notorious. Coletta’s judgment on tribadic liaison is confirmed by all scientific investigators.
De Sade's description of orgies celebrated in the ruins of Pompey actually occurred (Juliette V, 34 ff.). The great mass-murder of which de Sade wrote is also an historical fact. On October 18, 1794, there was a great street fight in Naples, thirty men were killed and many hundreds were wounded.
All other Neapolitan conditions were actually as bad as represented in Juliette. According to Gorani the Roman Empire had never seen such moral corruption as in the court of Naples, no such Messalina as Queen Charlotte. Nelson said of Naples: "Not a woman is virtuous, not a turn deserves but to be hanged on the gallows." Again according to Consul, King Ferdinand IV's main passion was the torturing and killing of conies, cats and men; his next preference was his countless love-adventures, leaving Acton and the Queen to go on with their orgies without him.
We have seen that Marquis de Sade presented in the main a true account of the condition of cultural and sexual life in France and Italy and that his works have high value in regard to historical, literary, and philosophical proposes. In a later section we will give detailed analysis of his works.