Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
(Fanny Hill)

By John Cleland

Edited and abridged by Jack Lynch

There isn't even a minimally adequate electronic text of Fanny Hill, and I don't have the time or energy to create one. I've worked from a few publicly available E-texts and made some revisions throughout to bring this closer to the first edition of 1749, but it has a long way to go.

This abridgment is about a quarter of the length of the original (available here). The motivation is just to shorten, and not to censor, the original — fear not, because what remains is every bit as smutty as what was cut. I've kept all paragraphs intact. Deletions are marked by horizontal rules, and can be seen in the paragraph numbers.

The paragraph numbers are my own. A few late adjustments to the paragraphing of my sources mean there are a few skipped numbers and a few inelegant a's and b's.

[1] Madam,

[2] I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders. Ungracious then as the task may be, I shall recall to view those scandalous stages of my life, out of which I emerg’d, at length, to the enjoyment of every blessing in the power of love, health, and fortune to bestow; whilst yet in the flower of youth, and not too late to employ the leisure afforded me by great ease and affluence, to cultivate an understanding, naturally not a despicable one, and which had, even amidst the whirl of loose pleasures I had been tost in, exerted more observation on the characters and manners of the world than what is common to those of my unhappy profession, who looking on all thought or reflection as their capital enemy, keep it at as great a distance as they can, or destroy it without mercy.

[3] Hating, as I mortally do, all long unnecessary preface, I shall give you good quarter in this, and use no farther apology, than to prepare you for seeing the loose part of my life, wrote with the same liberty that I led it.

[4] Truth! stark, naked truth, is the word; and I will not so much as take the pains to bestow the strip of a gauze wrapper on it, but paint situations such as they actually rose to me in nature, careless of violating those laws of decency that were never made for such unreserved intimacies as ours; and you have too much sense, too much knowledge of the originals, to sniff prudishly and out of character at the pictures of them. The greatest men, those of the first and most leading taste, will not scruple adorning their private closets with nudities, though, in compliance with vulgar prejudices, they may not think them decent decorations of the staircase, or salon.

[5] This, and enough, premised, I go souse into my personal history. My maiden name was Frances Hill. I was born at a small village near Liverpool, in Lancashire, of parents extremely poor, and, I piously believe, extremely honest.

[6] My father, who had received a maim on his limbs that disabled him from following the more laborious branches of country-drudgery, got, by making of nets, a scanty subsistence, which was not much enlarg’d by my mother’s keeping a little day-school for the girls in her neighbourhood. They had had several children; but none lived to any age except myself, who had received from nature a constitution perfectly healthy.

[7] My education, till past fourteen, was no better than very vulgar; reading, or rather spelling, an illegible scrawl, and a little ordinary plain-work composed the whole system of it: and then all my foundation in virtue was no other than a total ignorance of vice, and the shy timidity general to our sex, in the tender stage of life when objects alarm or frighten more by their novelty than anything else. But then, this is a fear too often cured at the expence of innocence, when Miss, by degrees, begins no longer to look on a man as a creature of prey that will eat her.

[8] My poor mother had divided her time so entirely between her scholars and her little domestic cares, that she had spared very little of it to my instruction, having, from her own innocence from all ill, no hint or thought of guarding me against any.

[9] I was now entering on my fifteenth year, when the worst of ills befell me in the loss of my tender fond parents, who were both carried off by the small-pox, within a few days of each other; my father dying first, and thereby hastening the death of my mother; so that I was now left an unhappy friendless Orphan: (for my father’s coming to settle there was accidental, he being originally a Kentish-man). That cruel distemper which had proved so fatal to them, had indeed seized me, but with such mild and favourable symptoms, that I was presently out of danger, and, what I then did not know the value of, was entirely unmark’d. I skip over here an account of the natural grief and affliction which I felt on this melancholy occasion. A little time, and the giddiness of that age dissipated, too soon, my reflections on that irreparable loss; but nothing contributed more to reconcile me to it, than the notions that were immediately put into my head, of going to London, and looking out for a service, in which I was promised all assistance and advice from one Esther Davis, a young woman that had been down to see her friends, and who, after the stay of a few days, was to return to her place.

[10] As I had now nobody left alive in the village who had concern enough about what should become of me to start any objections to this scheme, and the woman who took care of me after my parents; death rather encouraged me to pursue it, I soon came to a resolution of making this launch into the wide world, by repairing to London, in order to seek my fortune, a phrase which, by the bye, has ruined more adventurers of both sexes, from the country, than ever it made or advanced.

[11] Nor did Esther Davis a little comfort and inspirit me to venture with her, by piquing my childish curiosity with the fine sights that were to be seen in London: the Tombs, the Lions, the King, the Royal Family, the fine Plays and Operies, and in short all the diversions which fell within her sphere of life to come at; the detail of all which perfectly turn’d the little head of me.

[12] Nor can I remember, without laughing, the innocent admiration, not without a spice of envy, with which we poor girls, whose church-going clothes did not rise above dowlass shifts and stuff gowns, beheld Esther’s scowered satin gowns, caps border’d with an inch of lace, taudry ribbons, and shoes belaced with silver: all which we imagined grew in London, and entered for a great deal into my determination of trying to come in for my share of them.

[13] The idea however of having the company of a townswoman with her, was the trivial, and all the motives that engaged Esther to take charge of me during my journey to town, where she told me, after her manner and style, “as how several maids out of the country had made themselves and all their kin for ever: that by preserving their Vartue, some had taken so with their masters, that they had married them, and kept them coaches, and lived vastly grand and happy; and some, may-hap, came to be Duchesses; luck was all, and why not I, as well as another,” with other almanacs to this purpose, which set me a tip-toe to begin this promising journey, and to leave a place which, though my native one, contained no relations that I had reason to regret, and was grown insupportable to me, from the change of the tenderest usage into a cold air of charity, with which I was entertain’d even at the only friend’s house that I had the least expectation of care and protection from. She was, however, so just to me, as to manage the turning into money of the little matters that remained to me after the debts and burial charges were accounted for, and, at my departure, put my whole fortune into my hands; which consisted of a very slender wardrobe, pack’d up in a very portable box, and eight guineas, with seventeen shillings in silver; stowed up in a spring-pouch, which was a greater treasure than ever I had yet seen together, and which I could not conceive there was a possibility of running out; and indeed, I was so entirely taken up with the joy of seeing myself mistress of such an immense sum, that I gave very little attention to a world of good advice which was given me with it.

[14] Places then being taken for Esther and me in the Chester-Waggon, I pass over a very immaterial scene of leave-taking, at which I dropt a few tears betwixt grief and joy; and, for the same reasons of insignificance, skip over all that happened to me on the road, such as the waggoner’s looking liquorish on me, the schemes laid for me by some of the passengers, which were defeated by the vigilance of my guardian Esther; who, to do her justice, took a motherly care of me, at the same time that she taxed me for her protection by making me bear all travelling charges, which I defrayed with the utmost cheerfulness, and thought myself much obliged to her into the bargain.

[15] She took indeed great care that we were not over-rated, or imposed on, as well as of managing as frugally as possible; expensiveness was not her vice.

[16] It was pretty late in a summer evening when we reached London-town, in our slow conveyance, though drawn by six at length. As we passed thro’ the greatest streets that led to our inn, the noise of the coaches, the hurry, the crowds of foot passengers, in short, the new scenery of the shops and houses, at once pleased and amazed me.

[17] But guess at my mortification and surprize when we came to the inn, and our things were landed and deliver’d to us, when my fellow traveller and protectress, Esther Davis, who had used me with the utmost tenderness during the journey, and prepared me by no preceding signs for the stunning blow I was to receive, when I say, my only dependence and friend, in this strange place, all of a sudden assumed a strange and cool air towards me, as if she dreaded my becoming a burden to her.

[18] Instead, then, of proffering me the continuance of her assistance and good offices, which I relied upon, and never more wanted, she thought herself, it seems, abundantly acquitted of her engagements to me, by having brought me safe to my journey’s end; and seeing nothing in her procedure towards me but what was natural and in order, began to embrace me by way of taking leave, whilst I was so confounded, so struck, that I had not spirit or sense enough so much as to mention my hopes or expectations from her experience, and knowledge of the place she had brought me to.

[19] Whilst I stood thus stupid and mute, which she doubtless attributed to nothing more than a concern at parting, this idea procured me perhaps a slight alleviation of it, in the following harangue: That now we were got safe to London, and that she was obliged to go to her place, she advised me by all means to get into one as soon as possible —— that I need not fear getting one —— there were more places than parish-churches —— that she advised me to go to an intelligence-office —— that if she heard of any thing stirring, she would find me out and let me know —— that in the mean time I should take a private lodging, and acquaint her where to send to me, —— that she wish’d me good luck, —— and hop'd I should always have the grace to keep myself honest, and not bring a disgrace on my parentage. With this, she took her leave of me, and left me, as it were, on my own hands, full as lightly as I had been put into hers.

[20] Left thus alone, absolutely destitute and friendless, I began then to feel most bitterly the severity of this separation, the scene of which had passed in a little room in the inn; and no sooner was her back turned, but the affliction I felt at my helpless strange circumstances burst out into a flood of tears, which infinitely relieved the oppression of my heart; though I still remained stupefied, and most perfectly perplex’d how to dispose of myself.

[21] One of the waiters coming in, added yet more to my uncertainty by asking me, in a short way, if I called for anything? to which I replied, innocently, No. But I wished him to tell me where I might get a lodging for that night. He said he would go and speak to his mistress, who accordingly came, and told me drily, without entering in the least into the distress she saw me in, that I might have a bed for a shilling, and that, as she supposed I had some friends in town (here I fetched a deep sigh in vain!) I might provide for myself in the morning.

[22] ’Tis incredible what trifling consolations the human mind will seize in its greatest afflictions. The assurance of nothing more than a bed to lie on that night, calmed my agonies; and being asham’d to acquaint the mistress of the inn that I had no friends to apply to in town, I proposed to myself to proceed, the very next morning, to an intelligence office, to which I was furnish’d with written directions on the back of a ballad of Esther’s giving. There I counted on getting information of any place that such a country girl as I might be fit for, and where I could get into any sort of being, before my little stock should be consumed; and as to a character, Esther had often repeated to me that I might depend on her managing me one; nor, however affected I was at her leaving me thus, did I entirely cease to rely on her, as I began to think, good-naturedly, that her procedure was all in course, and that it was only my ignorance of life that had made me take it in the light I at first did.

[23] Accordingly, the next morning I dress’d myself as clean and as neat as my rustic wardrobe would permit me; and having left my box, with special recommendation, with the landlady, I ventured out by myself, and without any more difficulty than can be supposed of a young country-girl, barely fifteen, and to whom every sign or shop was a gazing trap, I got to the wish’d-for intelligence-office.

[24] It was kept by an elderly woman, who sat at the receipt of custom, with a book before her in great form and order, and several scrolls, ready made out, of directions for places.

[25] I made up then to this important personage, without lifting up my eyes or observing any of the people round me, who were attending there on the same errand as myself, and dropping her curtsies nine-deep, just made a shift to stammer out my business to her.

[26] Madam having heard me out, with all the gravity and brow of a petty minister of State, and seeing at one glance over my figure what I was, made me no answer, but to ask me the preliminary shilling, on receipt of which she told me places for women were exceedingly scarce, especially as I seemed too slight built for hard work; but that she would look over her book, and see what was to be done for me, desiring me to stay a little till she had dispatched some other customers.

[27] On this I drew back a little, most heartily mortified at a declaration which carried with it a killing uncertainty that my circumstances could not well endure.

[28] Presently, assuming more courage, and seeking some diversion from my uneasy thoughts, I ventured to lift up my head a little, and sent my eyes on a course round the room, wherein they met full tilt with those of a lady (for such my extreme innocence pronounc’d her) sitting in a corner of the room, dress’d in a velvet mantle (nota bene, in the midst of summer), with her bonnet off; squob-fat, red-faced, and at least fifty.

[29] She look’d as if she would devour me with her eyes, staring at me from head to foot, without the least regard to the confusion and blushes her eyeing me so fixedly put me to, and which were to her, no doubt, the strongest recommendation and marks of my being fit for her purpose. After a little time, in which my air, person and whole figure had undergone a strict examination, which I had, on my part, tried to render favourable to me, by primming, drawing up my neck, and setting my best looks, she advanced and spoke to me with the greatest demureness:

[30] Qu. Sweet heart, do you want a place?

[31] Ans. Yes! and please you, (with a curtsy down to the ground).

[32] Upon this she acquainted me that she was actually come to the office herself to look out for a servant — that she believed I might do, with a little of her instructions, —— that she could take my very looks for a sufficient character, —— that London was a very wicked, vile place, —— that she hoped I would be tractable, and keep out of bad company, — in short, she said all to me that an old experienced practitioner in town could think of, and which was much more than was necessary to take in an artless inexperienced country-maid, who was even afraid of becoming a wanderer about the streets, and therefore gladly jump’d at the first offer of a shelter, especially from so grave and matron-like a lady, for such my flattering fancy assured me this new mistress of mine was; I being actually hired under the nose of the good woman that kept the office, whose shrewd smiles and shrugs I could not help observing, and innocently interpreted them as marks of her being pleased at my getting into place so soon; but, as I afterwards came to know, these Beldams understood one another very well, and this was a market where Mrs. Brown, my mistress, frequently attended, on the watch for any fresh goods that might offer there, for the use of her customers, and her own profit.

[33] Madam was, however, so well pleased with her bargain, that fearing, I presume, lest better advice or some accident might occasion my slipping through her fingers, she would officiously take me in a coach to my inn, where, calling herself for my box, it was, I being present, delivered without the least scruple or explanation as to where I was going.

[34] This being over, she bid the coachman drive to a shop in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where she bought a pair of gloves, which she gave me, and thence renew’d her directions to the coachman to drive to her house in —— street, who accordingly landed us at her door, after I had been cheer’d up and entertain’d by the way with the most plausible flams, without one syllable from which I could conclude anything but that I was, by the greatest good luck, fallen into the hands of the kindest mistress, not to say friend, that the varsal world could afford; and accordingly I enter’d her doors with most compleat confidence and exultation, promising myself that, as soon as I should be a little settled, I would acquaint Esther Davis with my rare good fortune.

[35] You may be sure the good opinion of my place was not lessen’d by the appearance of a very handsome back-parlour, into which I was led and which seemed to me magnificently furnished, who had never seen better rooms than the ordinary ones in inns upon the road. There were two gilt pier-glasses, and a buffet, on which a few pieces of plates, set out to the most shew, dazzled, and altogether persuaded me that I must be got into a very reputable family.

[36] Here my mistress first began her part, with telling me that I must have good spirits, and learn to be free with her; that she had not taken me to be a common servant, to do domestic drudgery, but to be a kind of companion to her; and that if I would be a good girl, she would do more than twenty mothers for me; to all which I answered only by the profoundest and the awkwardest curtsies, and a few monosyllables, such as “yes! no! to be sure”

[37] Presently my mistress touch’d the bell, and in came a strapping maid-servant, who had let us in. “Here, Martha,” said Mrs. Brown — “I have just hir’d this young woman to look after my linen; so step up and shew her her chamber; and I charge you to use her with as much respect as you would myself, for I have taken a prodigious liking to her, and I do not know what I shall do for her.”

[38] Martha, who was an arch-jade, and, being used to this decoy, had her cue perfect, made me a kind of half curtsy, and asked me to walk up with her; and accordingly shew’d me a neat room, two pair of stairs backwards, in which there was a handsome bed, where Martha told me I was to lie with a young gentlewoman, a cousin of my mistress’s, who she was sure would be vastly good to me. Then she ran out into such affected encomiums on her good mistress! her sweet mistress! and how happy I was to light upon her! that I could not have bespoke a better; with other the like gross stuff, such as would itself have started suspicions in any but such an unpractised simpleton, who was perfectly new to life, and who took every word she said in the very sense she laid out for me to take it; but she readily saw what a penetration she had to deal with, and measured me very rightly in her manner of whistling to me, so as to make me pleased with my cage, and blind to the wires.

[39] In the midst of these false explanations of the nature of my future service, we were rung for down again, and I was reintroduced into the same parlour, where there was a table laid with three covers; and my mistress had now got with her one of her favourite girls, a notable manager of her house, and whose business it was to prepare and break such young fillies as I was to the mounting-block; and she was accordingly, in that view, allotted me for a bed-fellow; and, to give her the more authority, she had the title of cousin conferr’d on her by the venerable president of this college.

[40] Here I underwent a second survey, which ended in the full approbation of Mrs. Phœbe Ayres, the name of my tutoress elect, to whose care and instructions I was affectionately recommended.

[41] Dinner was now set on table, and in pursuance of treating me as a companion, Mrs. Brown, with a tone to cut off all dispute, soon over-rul’d my most humble and most confused protestations against sitting down with her Ladyship, which my very short breeding just suggested to me could not be right, or in the order of things.

[42] At table, the conversation was chiefly kept up by the two madams, and carried on in double-meaning expressions, interrupted every now and then by kind assurance to me, all tending to confirm and fix my satisfaction with my present condition: augment it they could not, so very a novice was I then.

[43] It was here agreed that I should keep myself up and out of sight for a few days, till such cloaths could be procured for me as were fit for the character I was to appear in, of my mistress’s companion, observing withal, that on the first impressions of my figure much might depend; and, as they well judged, the prospect of exchanging my country cloaths for London finery, made the clause of confinement digest perfectly well with me. But the truth was, Mrs. Brown did not care that I should be seen or talked to by any, either of her customers, or her Does, (as they call’d the girls provided for them), till she had secured a good market for my maidenhead, which I had at least all the appearances of having brought into her Ladyship’s service.

[44] To slip over minutes of no importance to the main of my story, I pass the interval to bed-time, in which I was more and more pleas’d with the views that opened to me, of an easy service under these good people; and after supper being shew’d up to bed, Miss Phœbe, who observed a kind of reluctance in me to strip and go to bed, in my shift, before her, now the maid was withdrawn, came up to me, and beginning with unpinning my handkerchief and gown, soon encouraged me to go on with undressing myself; and, still blushing at now seeing myself naked to my shift, I hurried to get under the bedcloaths out of sight. Phœbe laugh’d and was not long before she placed herself by my side. She was about five and twenty, by her most suspicious account, in which, according to all appearances, she must have sunk at least ten good years; allowance, too, being made for the havoc which a long course of hackneyship and hot waters must have made of her constitution, and which had already brought on, upon the spur, that stale stage in which those of her profession are reduced to think of showing company, instead of seeing it.

[45] No sooner then was this precious substitute of my mistress’s laid down, but she, who was never out of her way when any occasion of lewdness presented itself, turned to me, embraced and kiss’d me with great eagerness. This was new, this was odd; but imputing it to nothing but pure kindness, which, for aught I knew, it might be the London way to express in that manner, I was determin’d not to be behind hand with her, and returned her the kiss and embrace, with all the fervour that perfect innocence knew.

[46] Encouraged by this, her hands became extremely free, and wander’d over my whole body, with touches, squeezes, pressures, that rather warm’d and surpriz’d me with their novelty, than they either shock’d or alarm’d me.

[47] The flattering praises she intermingled with these invasions, contributed also not a little to bribe my passiveness; and, knowing no ill, I feared none, especially from one who had prevented all doubt of her womanhood by conducting my hands to a pair of breasts that hung loosely down, in a size and volume that full sufficiently distinguished her sex, to me at least, who had never made any other comparison.

[48] I lay then all tame and passive as she could wish, whilst her freedom raised no other emotions but those of a strange, and, till then, unfelt pleasure. Every part of me was open and exposed to the licentious courses of her hands, which, like a lambent fire, ran over my whole body, and thaw’d all coldness as they went.

[49] My breasts, if it is not too bold a figure to call so two hard, firm, rising hillocks, that just began to shew themselves, or signify anything to the touch, employ’d and amus’d her hands a-while, till, slipping down lower, over a smooth track, she could just feel the soft silky down that had but a few months before put forth and garnish’d the mount-pleasant of those parts, and promised to spread a grateful shelter over the seat of the most exquisite sensation, and which had been, till that instant, the seat of the most insensible innocence. Her fingers play’d and strove to twine in the young tendrils of that moss, which nature has contrived at once for use and ornament.

[50] But, not contented with these outer posts, she now attempts the main spot, and began to twitch, to insinuate, and at length to force an introduction of a finger into the quick itself, in such a manner, that had she not proceeded by insensible gradations that inflamed me beyond the power of modesty to oppose its resistance to their progress, I should have jump’d out of bed and cried for help against such strange assaults.

[51] Instead of which, her lascivious touches had lighted up a new fire that wanton’d through all my veins, but fix’d with violence in that center appointed them by nature, where the first strange hands were now busied in feeling, squeezing, compressing the lips, then opening them again, with a finger between, till an “Oh!” express’d her hurting me, where the narrowness of the unbroken passage refused it entrance to any depth.

[52] In the meantime, the extension of my limbs, languid stretchings, sighs, short heavings, all conspired to assure that experienced wanton that I was more pleased than offended at her proceedings, which she seasoned with repeated kisses and exclamations, such as “Oh! what a charming creature thou art! —— What a happy man will he be that first makes a woman of you! ——— Oh! that I were a man for your sake——!” with the like broken expressions, interrupted by kisses as fierce and fervent as ever I received from the other sex.

[53] For my part, I was transported, confused, and out of myself; feelings so new were too much for me. My heated and alarm’d senses were in a tumult that robbed me of all liberty of thought; tears of pleasure gush’d from my eyes, and somewhat assuaged the fire that rag’d all over me.

[54] Phœbe, herself, the hackney’d, thorough-bred Phœbe, to whom all modes and devices of pleasure were known and familiar, found, it seems, in this exercise of her art to break young girls, the gratification of one of those arbitrary tastes, for which there is no accounting. Not that she hated men, or did not even prefer them to her own sex; but when she met with such occasions as this was, a satiety of enjoyments in the common road, perhaps too, a secret bias, inclined her to make the most of pleasure, wherever she could find it, without distinction of sexes. In this view, now well assured that she had, by her touches, sufficiently inflamed me for her purpose, she roll’d down the bed-cloaths gently, and I saw myself stretched nak’d, my shift being turned up to my neck, whilst I had no power or sense to oppose it. Even my glowing blushes expressed more desire than modesty, whilst the candle, left (to be sure not undesignedly) burning, threw a full light on my whole body.

[55] “No! (says Phœbe) you must not, my sweet girl, think to hide all these treasures from me. My sight must be feasted as well as my touch — I must devour with my eyes this springing bosom —— Suffer me to kiss it — I have not seen it enough ——— Let me kiss it once more —— What firm, smooth, white flesh is here! ——— How delicately shaped! —— Then this delicious down! Oh! let me view the small, dear, tender cleft! — This is too much, I cannot bear it, I must, I must ——.” Here she took my hand, and in a transport carried it where you will easily guess. But what a difference in the state of the same thing! —— A spreading thicket of bushy curls marked the full-grown, complete woman. Then the cavity to which she guided my hand easily received it; and as soon as she felt it within her, she moved herself to and fro, with so rapid a friction that I presently withdrew it, wet and clammy, when instantly Phœbe grew more composed, after two or three sighs, and heart-fetched Oh’s! and giving me a kiss that seemed to exhale her soul through her lips, she replaced the bed-cloaths over us. What pleasure she had found I will not say; but this I know, that the first sparks of kindling nature, the first ideas of pollution, were caught by me that night; and that the acquaintance and communication with the bad of our own sex, is often as fatal to innocence as all the seductions of the other: But to go on: —— when Phœbe was restor’d to that calm, which I was far from the enjoyment of myself, she artfully sounded me on all the points necessary to govern the designs of my virtuous mistress on me, and by my answers, drawn from pure undissembled nature, she had no reason but to promise herself all imaginable success, so far as it depended on my ignorance, easiness, and warmth of constitution.

[56] After a sufficient length of dialogue, my bedfellow left me to my rest, and I fell asleep, through pure weariness from the violent emotions I had been led into, when nature (which had been too warmly stir’d and fermented to subside without allaying by some means or other) relieved me by one of those luscious dreams, the transports of which are scarce inferior to those of waking real action.

[57] We breakfasted, and the tea things were scarce removed, when in were brought two bundles of linen and wearing apparel: in short, all the necessaries for rigging me out, as they termed it, completely.

[58] In the morning I awoke about ten, perfectly gay and refreshed. Phœbe was up before me, and asked me in the kindest manner how I did, how I had rested, and if I was ready for breakfast, carefully, at the same time, avoiding to increase the confusion she saw I was in, at looking her in the face, by any hint of the night’s bed-scene. —— I told her if she pleased I would get up, and begin any work she would be pleased to set me about. She smil’d; presently the maid brought in the tea-equipage, and I had just huddled my cloaths on, when in waddled my mistress. I expected no less than to be told of, if not chid for, my late rising, when I was agreeably disappointed by her compliments on my pure and fresh looks. I was “a bud of beauty” (this was her style), “and how vastly all the fine men would admire me!” to all which my answer did not, I can assure you, wrong my breeding; they were as simple and silly as they could wish, and, no doubt, flattered them infinitely more than had they proved me enlightened by education and a knowledge of the world.

[59] Imagine to yourself, Madam, how my little coquette heart flutter’d with joy at the sight of a white lute-string, flower’d with silver, scoured indeed, but passed on me for spick-and-span new, a Brussel-lace cap, braided shoes, and the rest in proportion, all second-hand finery, and procured instantly for the occasion, by the diligence and industry of the good Mrs. Brown, who had already a chapman for me in the house, before whom my charms were to pass in review; for he had not only, in course, insisted on a previous sight of the premises, but also on immediate surrender to him, in case of his agreeing for me; concluding very wisely that such a place as I was in was of the hottest to trust the keeping of such a perishable commodity in as a maidenhead.

[60] The care of dressing, and tricking me out for the market, was then left to Phœbe, who acquitted herself, if not well, at least perfectly to the satisfaction of every thing but my impatience of seeing myself dress’d. When it was over, and I view’d myself in the glass, I was, no doubt, too natural, too artless, to hide my childish joy at the change; a change, in the real truth, for much the worse, since I must have much better become the neat easy simplicity of my rustic dress than the awkward, untoward, taudry finery that I could not conceal my strangeness to.

[61] Phœbe’s compliments, however, in which her own share in dressing me was not forgot, did not a little confirm me in the first notions I had ever entertained concerning my person; which, be it said without vanity, was then tolerable to justify a taste for me, and of which it may not be out of place here to sketch you an unflatter’d picture.

[62] I was tall, yet not too tall for my age, which, as I before remark’d, was barely turned of fifteen; my shape perfectly straight, thin waisted, and light and free, without owing any thing to stays; my hair was a glossy auburn, and as soft as silk, flowing down my neck in natural buckles, and did not a little set off the whiteness of a smooth skin; my face was rather too ruddy, though its features were delicate, and the shape a roundish oval, except where a pit on my chin had far from a disagreeable effect; my eyes were as black as can be imagin’d, and rather languishing than sparkling, except on certain occasions, when I have been told they struck fire fast enough; my teeth, which I ever carefully perserv’d, were small, even and white; my bosom was finely rais’d, and one might then discern rather the promise, than the actual growth, of the round, firm breasts, that in a little time made that promise good. In short, all the points of beauty that are most universally in request, I had, or at least my vanity forbade me to appeal from the decision of our sovereign judges the men, who all, that I ever knew at least, gave it thus highly in my favour; and I met with, even in my own sex, some that were above denying me that justice, whilst others praised me yet more unsuspectedly, by endeavouring to detract from me, in points of person and figure that I obviously excelled in. — This is, I own, too strong of self praise; but should I not be ungrateful to nature, and to a form to which I owe such singular blessings of pleasure and fortune, were I to suppress, through and affectation of modesty, the mention of such valuable gifts?

[63] Well then, dress’d I was, and little did it then enter into my head that all this gay attire was no more than decking the victim out for sacrifice, whilst I innocently attributed all to mere friendship and kindness in the sweet good Mrs. Brown; who, I was forgetting to mention, had, under pretence of keeping my money safe, got from me, without the least hesitation, the driblet (so I now call it) which remained to me after the expences of my journey.

[96] One day, about twelve at noon, being thoroughly recover’d of my fever, I happen’d to be in Mrs. Brown’s dark closet, where I had not been half an hour, resting upon the maid’s settle-bed, before I heard a rustling in the bedchamber, separated from the closet only by two sash-doors, before the glasses of which were drawn two yellow damask curtains, but not so close as to exclude the full view of the room form any person in the closet.

[97] I instantly crept softly, and posted myself so, that seeing every thing minutely, I could not myself be seen; and who should come in but the venerable mother Abbess herself! handed in by a tall, brawny young Horse-grenadier, moulded in the Hercules style: in fine, the choice of the most experienced dame, in those Affairs, in all London.

[98] Oh! how still and hush did I keep at my stand, lest any noise should baulk my curiosity, or bring Madam into the closet!

[99] But I had not much reason to fear either, for she was so entirely taken up with her present great concern, that she had no sense of attention to spare to any thing else.

[100] Droll was it to see that clumsy fat figure of hers flop down on the foot of the bed, opposite to the closet-door, so that I had a full front-view of all her charms.

[101] Her paramour sat down by her: he seemed to be a man of very few words, and a great stomach; for proceeding instantly to essentials, he gave her some hearty smacks, and thrusting his hands into her breasts, disengag’d them from her stays, in scorn of whose confinement they broke loose, and swagged down, navel-low at least. A more enormous pair did my eyes never behold, nor of a worse colour, flagging-soft, and most lovingly contiguous: yet such as they were, this neck-beef eater seem’d to paw them with a most uninvitable gust, seeking in vain to confine or cover one of them with a hand scarce less than a shoulder of mutton. After toying with them thus some time, as if they had been worth it, he laid her down pretty briskly, and canting up her petticoats, made barely a mask of them to her broad red face, that blush’d with nothing but brandy.

[102] As he stood on one side, for a minute or so, unbuttoning his waist-coat and breeches, her fat, brawny thighs hung down, and the whole greasy landscape lay fairly open to my view; a wide open-mouth’d gap, overshaded with a grizzly bush, seemed held out like a beggar’s wallet for its provision.

[103] But I soon had my eyes called off by a more striking object, that entirely engross’d them.

[104] Her sturdy stallion had now unbutton’d, and produced naked, stiff, and erect, that wonderful machine, which I had never seen before, and which, for the interest my own seat of pleasure began to take furiously in it, I star’d at with all the eyes I had: however, my senses were too much flurried, too much concenter’d in that now burning spot of mine, to observe any thing more than in general the make and turn of that instrument, from which the instinct of nature, yet more than all I had heard of it, now strongly informed me I was to expect that supreme pleasure which she had placed in the meeting of those parts so admirably fitted for each other.

[105] Long, however, the young spark did not remain before giving it two or three shakes, by way of brandishing it; he threw himself upon her, and his back being now towards me, I could only take his being ingulph’d for granted, by the directions he mov’d in, and the impossibility of missing so staring a mark; and now the bed shook, the curtains rattled so, that I could scarce hear the sighs and murmurs, the heaves and pantings that accompanied the action, from the beginning to the end; the sound and sight of which thrill’d to the very soul of me, and made every vein of my body circulate liquid fires: the emotion grew so violent that it almost intercepted my respiration.

[106] Prepared then, and disposed as I was by the discourse of my companions, and Phœbe’s minute detail of everything, no wonder that such a sight gave the last dying blow to my native innocence.

[107] Whilst they were in the heat of the action, guided by nature only, I stole my hand up my petticoats, and with fingers all on fire, seized, and yet more inflamed that center of all my senses: my heart palpitated, as if it would force its way through my bosom; I breath’d with pain; I twisted my thighs, squeezed, and compressed the lips of that virgin slit, and following mechanically the example of Phœbe’s manual operation on it, as far as I could find admission, brought on at last the critical extasy, the melting flow, into which nature, spent with excess of pleasure, dissolves and dies away.

[108] After which, my senses recover’d coolness enough to observe the rest of the transaction between this happy pair.

[109] The young fellow had just dismounted, when the old lady immediately sprung up, with all the vigour of youth, derived, no doubt, from her late refreshment; and making him sit down, began in her turn to kiss him, to pat and pinch his cheeks, and play with his hair: all which he receiv’d with an air of indifference and coolness, that shew’d him to me much altered from what he was when he first went on to the breach.

[110] My pious governess, however, not being above calling in auxiliaries, unlocks a little case of cordials that stood near the bed, and made him pledge her in a very plentiful dram: after which, and a little amorous parley, Madam sat herself down upon the same place, at the bed’s foot; and the young fellow standing sideway by her, she, with the greatest effrontery imaginable, unbuttons his breeches, and removing his shirt, draws out his affair, so shrunk and diminish’d, that I could not but remember the difference, now crestfallen, or just faintly lifting its head: but our experienc’d matron very soon, by chafing it with her hands, brought it to swell to that size and erection I had before seen it up to.

[111] I admired then, upon a fresh account, and with a nicer survey, the texture of that capital part of man: the flaming red head as it stood uncapt, the whiteness of the shaft, and the shrub growth of curling hair that embrowned the roots of it, the roundish bag that dangled down from it, all exacted my eager attention, and renewed my flame. But, as the main affair was now at the point the industrious dame had laboured to bring it to, she was not in the humour to put off the payment of her pains, but laying herself down, drew him gently upon her, and thus they finish’d in the same manner as before, the old last act.

[112] This over, they both went out lovingly together, the old lady having first made him a present, as near as I could observe, of three or four pieces; he being not only her particular favourite on account of his performances, but a retainer to the house; from whose sight she had taken great care hitherto to secrete me, lest he might not have had patience to wait for my lord’s arrival, but have insisted on being his taster, which the old lady was under too much subjection to him to dare dispute with him; for every girl of the house fell to him in course, and the old lady only now and then got her turn, in consideration of the maintenance he had, and which he could scarce be accused of not earning from her.

[113] As soon as I heard them go down-stairs, I stole up softly to my own room, out of which I had luckily not been miss’d; there I began to breathe freer, and to give a loose to those warm emotions which the sight of such an encounter had raised in me. I laid me down on the bed, stretched myself out, joining and ardently wishing, and requiring any means to divert or allay the rekindled rage and tumult of my desires, which all pointed strongly to their pole: man. I felt about the bed as if I sought for something that I grasp’d in my waking dream, and not finding it, could have cry’d for vexation; every part of me glowing with stimulating fires. At length, I resorted to the only present remedy, that of vain attempts at digitation, where the smallness of the theatre did not yet afford room enough for action, and where the pain my fingers gave me, in striving for admission, tho’ they procured me a slight satisfaction for the present, started an apprehension, which I could not be easy till I had communicated to Phœbe, and received her explanations upon it.

[120] At five in the evening, next day, Phœbe, punctual to her promise, came to me as I sat alone in my own room, and beckon’d me to follow her.

[121] We went down the back-stairs very softly, and opening the door of a dark closet, where there was some old furniture kept, and some cases of liquor, she drew me in after her, and fastening the door upon us, we had no light but what came through a long crevice in the partition between ours and the light closet, where the scene of action lay; so that sitting on those low cases, we could, with the greatest ease, as well as clearness, see all objects (ourselves unseen), only by applying our eyes close to the crevice, where the moulding of a panel had warped, or started a little on the other side.

[122] The young gentleman was the first person I saw, with his back directly towards me, looking at a print. Polly was not yet come: in less than a minute tho’, the door opened, and she came in; and at the noise the door made he turned about, and came to meet her, with an air of the greatest tenderness and satisfaction.

[123] After saluting her, he led her to a couch that fronted us, where they both sat down, and the young Genoese help’d her to a glass of wine, with some Naples bisket on a salver.

[124] Presently, when they had exchanged a few kisses, and questions in broken English on one side, he began to unbutton, and, in fine, stript to his shirt.

[132] By this time the young gentleman had changed her posture from lying breadth to length-wise on the couch: but her thighs were still spread, and the mark lay fair for him, who now kneeling between them, display’d to us a side-view of that fierce erect machine of his, which threaten’d no less than splitting the tender victim, who lay smiling at the uplifted stroke, nor seem’d to decline it. He looked upon his weapon himself with some pleasure, and guiding it with his hand to the inviting slit, drew aside the lips, and lodg’d it (after some thrusts, which Polly seem’d even to assist) about half way; but there it stuck, I suppose from its growing thickness: he draws it again, and just wetting it with spittle, re-enters, and with ease sheath’d it now up to the hilt, at which Polly gave a deep sigh, which was quite another tone than one of pain; he thrusts, she heaves, at first gently, and in a regular cadence; but presently the transport began to be too violent to observe any order or measure; their motions were too rapid, their kisses too fierce and fervent for nature to support such fury long: both seem’d to me out of themselves: their eyes darted fires: “Oh! - - - oh! - - - I can’t bear it - - - It is too much - - - I die - - - I am going . . .” were Polly’s expressions of extasy: his joys were more silent; but soon broken murmurs, sighs heart-fetch’d, and at length a dispatching thrust, as if he would have forced himself up her body, and then motionless languor of all his limbs, all shewed that the die-away moment was come upon him; which she gave signs of joining with, by the wild throwing of her hands about, closing her eyes, and giving a deep sob, in which she seemed to expire in an agony of bliss.

[133] When he had finish’d his stroke, and got from off her, she lay still without the least motion, breathless, as it should seem, with pleasure. He replaced her again breadthwise on the couch, unable to sit up, with her thighs open, between which I could observe a kind of white liquid, like froth, hanging about the outward lips of that recently opened wound, which now glowed with a deeper red. Presently she gets up, and throwing her arms round him, seemed far from undelighted with the trial he had put her to, to judge at least by the fondness with which she ey’d and hung upon him.

[134] For my part, I will not pretend to describe what I felt all over me during this scene; but from that instant, adieu all fears of what man could do unto me; they were now changed into such ardent desires, such ungovernable longings, that I could have pull’d the first of that sex that should present himself, by the sleeve, and offered him the bauble, which I now imagined the loss of would be a gain I could not too soon procure myself.

[135] Phœbe, who had more experience, and to whom such sights were not so new, could not however be unmoved at so warm a scene; and drawing me away softly from the peep-hole, for fear of being over-heard, guided me as near the door as possible, all passive and obedient to her least signals.

[136] Here was no room either to sit or lie, but making me stand with my back towards the door, she lifted up my petticoats, and with her busy fingers fell to visit and explore that part of me where now the heat and irritations were so violent that I was perfectly sick and ready to die with desire; that the bare touch of her finger, in that critical place, had the effect of a fire to a train, and her hand instantly made her sensible to what a pitch I was wound up, and melted by the sight she had thus procured me. Satisfied then with her success in allaying a heat that would have made me impatient of seeing the continuation of the transactions between our amourous couple, she brought me again to the crevice so favourable to our curiosity.

[137] We had certainly been but a few instants away from it, and yet on our return we saw every thing in good forwardness for recommencing the tender hostilities.

[138] The young foreigner was sitting down, fronting us, on the couch, with Polly upon one knee, who had her arms round his neck, whilst the extreme whiteness of her skin was not undelightfully contrasted by the smooth glossy brown of her lover’s.

[139] But who could count the fierce, unnumber’d kisses given and taken? in which I could of ten discover their exchanging the velvet thrust, when both their mouths were double tongued, and seemed to favour the mutual insertion with the greatest gust and delight.

[140] In the mean time, his red-headed champion, that has so lately fled the pit, quell’d and abash’d, was now recover’d to the top of his condition, perk’d and crested up between Polly’s thighs, who was not wanting, on her part, to coax and deep it in good humour, stroking it, with her head down, and received even its velvet tip between the lips of not its proper mouth: whether she did this out of any particular pleasure, or whether it was to render it more glib and easy of entrance, I could not tell; but it had such an effect, that the young gentleman seem’d by his eyes, that sparkled with more excited lustre, and his inflamed countenance, to receive increase of pleasure. He got up, and taking Polly in his arms, embraced her, and said something too softly for me to hear, leading her withal to the foot of the couch, and taking delight to slap her thighs and posteriors with that stiff sinew of his, which hit them with a spring that he gave it with his hand, and made them resound again, but hurt her about as much as he meant to hurt her, for she seemed to have as frolic a taste as himself.

[141] But guess my surprise, when I saw the lazy young rogue lie down on his back, and gently pull down Polly upon him, who giving way to his humour, straddled, and with her hands conducted her blind favourite to the right place; and following her impulse, ran directly upon the flaming point of this weapon of pleasure, which she stak’d herself upon, up pierc’d and infix’d to the extremest hair-breadth of it: thus she sat on him a few instants, enjoying and relishing her situation, whilst he toyed with her provoking breasts. Sometimes she would stoop to meet his kiss: but presently the sting of pleasure spurr’d them up to fiercer action; then began the storm of heaves, which, form the undermost combatant, were thrusts at the same time, he crossing his hands over her, and drawing her home to him with a sweet violence: the inverted strokes of anvil over hammer soon brought on the critical period, in which all the signs of a close conspiring extasy informed us of the point they were at.

[142] For me, I could bear to see no more; I was so overcome, so inflamed at the second part of the same play, that, mad to an intolerable degree, I hugg’d, I clasped Phœbe, as if she had wherewithal to relieve me. Pleased however with, and pitying the taking she could feel me in, she drew me towards the door, and opening it as softly as she could, we both got off undiscover’d, and she reconducted me to my own room, where, unable to keep my legs, in the agitation I was in, I instantly threw myself down on the bed, where I lay transported, though asham’d at what I felt.

[143] Phœbe lay down by me, and ask’d me archly if, now that I had seen the enemy, and fully considered him, I was still afraid of him? or did I think I could venture to come to a close engagement with him? To all which, not a word on my side; I sigh’d, and could scarce breathe. She takes hold of my hand, and having roll’d up her own petticoats, forced it half-strivingly towards those parts, where, now grown more knowing, I miss’d the main object of my wishes; and finding not even the shadow of what I wanted, where every thing was so flat, or so hollow, in the vexation I was in at it, I should have withdrawn my hand but for fear of disobliging her. Abandoning it then entirely to her management, she made use of it as she thought proper, to procure herself rather the shadow than the substance of any pleasure. For my part, I now pin’d for more solid food, and promis’d tacitly to myself that I would not be put off much longer with this foolery from woman to woman, if Mrs. Brown did not soon provide me with the essential specific. In short, I had all the air of not being able to wait the arrival of my lord B—— tho’ he was now expected in a very few days: nor did I wait for him, for love itself took charge of the disposal of me, in spite of interest, or gross lust.

[163] After breakfast, Charles (the dear familiar name I must take the liberty henceforward to distinguish my Adonis by), with a smile full of meaning, took me gently by the hand, and said: “Come, my dear, I will show you a room that commands a fine prospect over some gardens”; and without waiting for an answer, in which he relieved me extremely, he led me up into a chamber, airy and light-some, where all seeing of prospects was out of the question, except that of a bed, which had all the air of having recommended the room to him.

[164] Charles had just slipp’d the bolt of the door, and running, caught me in his arms, and lifting me from the ground, with his lips glew’d to mine, bore me, trembling, panting, dying, with soft fears and tender wishes, to the bed; where his impatience would not suffer him to undress me, more than just unpinning my handkerchief and gown, and unlacing my stays.

[165] My bosom was now bare, and rising in the warmest throbs, presented to his sight and feeling the firm hard swell of a pair of young breasts, such as may be imagin’d of a girl not sixteen, fresh out of the country, and never before handled; but even their pride, whiteness, fashion, pleasing resistance to the touch, could not bribe his restless hands from roving; but giving them the loose, my petticoats and shift were soon taken up, and their stronger center of attraction laid open to their tender invasion. My fears, however, made me mechanically close my thighs; but the very touch of his hand insinuated between them, disclosed them and opened a way for the main attack.

[166] In the mean time, I lay fairly exposed to the examination of his eyes and hands, quiet and unresisting; which confirm’d him the opinion he proceeded so cavalierly upon, that I was no novice in these matters, since he had taken me out of a common bawdy-house, nor had I said one thing to prepossess him of my virginity; and if I had, he would sooner have believ’d that I took him for a cully that would swallow such an improbability, than that I was still mistress of that darling treasure, that hidden mine, so eagerly sought after by the men, and which they never dig for, but to destroy.

[167] Being now too high wound up to bear a delay, he unbutton’d, and drawing out the engine of love-assaults, drove it currently, as at a ready-made breach - - - Then! then! for the first time, did I feel that stiff horn-hard gristle, battering against the tender part; but imagine to yourself his surprize when he found, after several vigorous pushes which hurt me extremely, that he made not the least impression.

[168] I complain’d but tenderly complain’d that I could not bear it - - - indeed he hurt me! - - - Still he thought no more than that being so young, the largeness of his machine (for few men could dispute size with him) made all the difficulty; and that possible I had not been enjoy’d by any so advantageously made in that part as himself: for still, that my virgin flower was yet uncrop’d, never enter’d into his head, and he would have thought it idling with time and words to have question’d me upon it.

[169] He tries again, still no admittance, still no penetration; but he had hurt me yet more, whilst my extreme love made me bear extreme pain, almost without a groan. At length, after repeated fruitless trials, he lay down panting by me, kiss’d my falling tears, and asked me tenderly what was the meaning of so much complaining? and if I had not borne it better from others than I did from him? I answered, with a simplicity fram’d to persuade, that he was the first man that ever serv’d me so. Truth is powerful, and it is not always that we do not believe what we eagerly wish.

[170] Charles, already dispos’d by the evidence of his senses to think my pretences to virginity not entirely apocryphal, smothers me with kisses, begs me, in the name of love, to have a little patience, and that he will be as tender of hurting me as he would be of himself.

[171] Alas! it was enough I knew his pleasure to submit joyfully to him, whatever pain I foresaw it would cost me.

[172] He now resumes his attempts in more form: first, he put one of the pillows under me, to give the blank of his aim a more favourable elevation, and another under my head, in ease of it; then spreading my thighs, and placing himself standing between them, made them rest upon his hips; applying then the point of his machine to the slit, into which he sought entrance: it was so small, he could scarce assure himself of its being rightly pointed. He looks, he feels, and satisfies himself: the driving forward with fury, its prodigious stiffness, thus impacted, wedgelike, breaks the union of those parts, and gain’d him just the insertion of the tip of it, lip-deep; which being sensible of, he improved his advantage, and following well his stroke, in a straight line, forcibly deepens his penetration; but put me to such intolerable pain, from the separation of the sides of that soft passage by a hard thick body, I could have scream’d out; but, as I was unwilling to alarm the house, I held in my breath, and cramm’d my petticoat, which was turn’d up over my face, into my mouth, and bit it through in the agony. At length, the tender texture of that tract giving way to such fierce tearing and rending, he pierc’d something further into me: and now, outrageous and no longer his own master, but borne headlong away by the fury and over-mettle of that member, now exerting itself with a kind of native rage, he breaks in, carries all before him, and one violent merciless lunge sent it, imbrew’d, and reeking with virgin blood, up to the very hilt in me - - - Then! then all my resolution deserted me: I scream’d out, and fainted away with the sharpness of the pain; and, as he told me afterwards, on his drawing out, when emission was over with him, my thighs were instantly all in a stream of blood that flow’d from the wounded torn passage.

[173] When I recover’d my senses, I found myself undress’d, and a-bed, in the arms of the sweet relenting murderer of my virginity, who hung mourning tenderly over me, and holding in his hand a cordial, which, coming from the still dear author of so much pain, I could not refuse; my eyes, however, moisten’d with tears, and languishingly turn’d upon him, seemed to reproach him with his cruelty, and ask him if such were the rewards of love. But Charles, to whom I was now infinitely endear’d by this complete triumph over a maidenhead, where he so little expected to find one, in tenderness to that pain which he had put me to, in procuring himself the height of pleasure, smother’d his exultation, and employ’d himself with so much sweetness, so much warmth, to sooth, to caress, and comfort me in my soft complainings, which breath’d, indeed, more love than resentment, that I presently drown’d all sense of pain in the pleasure of seeing him, of thinking that I belong’d to him: he who was now the absolute disposer of my happiness, and, in one word, my fate.

[174] The sore was, however, too tender, the wound too bleeding fresh, for Charles’s good-nature to put my patience presently to another trial; but as I could not stir, or walk across the room, he order’d the dinner to be brought to the bed-side, where it could not be otherwise than my getting down the wing of a fowl, and two or three glasses of wine, since it was my ador’d youth who both serv’d, and urged them on me, with that sweet irresistible authority with which love had invested him over me.

[175] After dinner, and as everything but the wine was taken away, Charles very impudently asks a leave, he might read the grant of in my eyes, to come to bed to me, and accordingly falls to undressing; which I could not see the progress of without strange emotions of fear and pleasure.

[466] Mrs. Cole still continuing her friendship, offered me her assistance and advice towards another choice; but I was now in ease and affluence enough to look about me at leisure; and as to any constitutional calls of pleasure, their pressure, or sensibility, was greatly lessen’d by a consciousness of the ease with which they were to be satisfy’d at Mrs. Cole’s house, where Louisa and Emily still continu’d in the old way; and by great favourite Harriet used often to come and see me, and entertain me, with her head and heart full of the happiness she enjoy’d with her dear baronet, whom she loved with tenderness, and constancy, even though he was her keeper, and what is yet more, had made her independent, by a handsome provision for her and hers. I was then in this vacancy from any regular employ of my person, in my way of business, when one day, Mrs. Cole, in the course of the constant confidence we lived in, acquainted me that there was one Mr. Barvile, who used her house, just come to town, whom she was not a little perplex’d about providing a suitable companion for; which was indeed a point of difficulty, as he was under the tyranny of a cruel taste: that of an ardent desire, not only of being unmercifully whipp’d himself, but of whipping others, in such sort, that tho’ he paid extravagantly those who had the courage and complaisance to submit to his humour, there were few, delicate as he was in the choice of his subjects, who would exchange turns with him so terrible at the expense of their skin. But, what yet increased the oddity of this strange fancy was the gentleman being young; whereas it generally attacks, it seems, such as are, through age, obliged to have recourse to this experiment, for quickening the circulation of their sluggish juices, and determining a conflux of the spirits of pleasure towards those flagging, shrivelly parts, that rise to life only by virtue of those titillating ardours created by the discipline of their opposites, with which they have so surprising a consent.

[467] This Mrs. Cole could not well acquaint me with, in any expectation of my offering my service: for, sufficiently easy as I was in my circumstances, it must have been the temptation of an immense interest indeed that could have induced me to embrace such a job; neither had I ever express’d, nor indeed felt, the least impulse or curiosity to know more of a taste that promis’d so much more pain than pleasure to those that stood in no need of such violent goads: what then should move me to subscribe myself voluntarily to a party of pain, foreknowing it such? Why, to tell the plain truth, it was a sudden caprice, a gust of fancy for trying a new experiment, mix’d with the vanity of proving my personal courage to Mrs. Cole, that determined me, at all risks, to propose myself to her, and relieve her from any farther lookout. Accordingly, I at once pleas’d and surpris’d her with a frank and unreserved tender of my person to her, and her friend’s absolute disposal on this occasion.

[468] My good temporal mother was, however, so kind as to use all the arguments she could imagine to dissuade me: but, as I found they only turn’d on a motive of tenderness to me, I persisted in my resolution, and thereby acquitted my offer of any suspicion of its not having been sincerely made, or out of compliment only. Acquiescing then thankfully in it, Mrs. Cole assur’d me that bating the pain I should be put to, she had no scruple to engage me to this party, which she assur’d me I should be liberally paid for, and which, the secrecy of the transaction preserved safe from the ridicule that otherwise vulgarly attended it; that for her part, she considered pleasure, of one sort or other, as the universal port of destination, and every wind that blew thither a good one, provided it blew nobody any harm; that she rather compassionated, than blam’d, those unhappy persons who are under a subjection they cannot shake off, to those arbitrary tastes that rule their appetites of pleasures with an unaccountable control: tastes, too, as infinitely deversify’d, as superior to, and independent of, all reasoning as the different relishes or palates of mankind in their viands, some delicate stomachs nauseating plain meats, and finding no savour but in high-seasoned, luxurious dishes, whilst others again pique themselves upon detesting them.

[469] I stood now in no need of this preamble of encouragement, of justification: my word was given, and I was determin’d to fulfil my engagements. Accordingly the night was set, and I had all the necessary previous instructions how to act and conduct myself. The dining-room was duly prepared and lighted up, and the young gentleman posted there in waiting, for my introduction to him.

[470] I was then, by Mrs. Cole, brought in, and presented to him, in a loose dishabille fitted, by her direction, to the exercise I was to go through, all in the finest linen and a thorough white uniform: gown, petticoat, stockings, and satin slippers, like a victim led to sacrifice; whilst my dark auburn hair, falling in drop-curls over my neck, created a pleasing distinction of colour from the rest of my dress.

[471] As soon as Mr. Barvile saw me, he got up, with a visible air of pleasure and surprize, and saluting me, asked Mrs. Cole if it was possible that so fine and delicate a creature would voluntarily submit to such sufferings and rigours as were the subject of his assignation. She answer’d him properly, and now, reading in his eyes that she could not too soon leave us together, she went out, after recommending to him to use moderation with so tender a novice.

[472] But whilst she was employing his attention, mine had been taken up with examining the figure and person of this unhappy young gentleman, who was thus unaccountably condemn’d to have his pleasure lashed into him, as boys have their learning.

[473] He was exceeding fair, and smooth complexion’d, and appeared to me no more than twenty at most, tho’ he was three years older than what my conjectures gave him; but then he ow’d this favourable mistake to a habit of fatness, which spread through a short, squab stature, and a round, plump, fresh-coloured face gave him greatly the look of a Bacchus, had not an air of austerity, not to say sternness, very unsuitable even to his shape of face, dash’d that character of joy, necessary to complete the resemblance. His light-brown hair was pretty thick, uncurl’d, and look’d as if it had been trimm’d with a bowl-dish, as we are told the Round-heads were in Oliver’s times. His dress was extremely neat, but plain, and far inferior to the ample fortune he was in full possession of; this too was a taste in him, and not avarice.

[474] As soon as Mrs. Cole was gone, he seated me near him, when now his face changed upon me into an expression of the most pleasing sweetness and good humour, the more remarkable for its sudden shift from the other extreme, which, I found afterwards, when I knew more of his character, was owing to a habitual state of conflict with, and dislike of himself, for being enslaved to so peculiar a gust, by the fatality of a constitutional ascendant, that render’d him incapable of receiving any pleasure till he submitted to these extraordinary means of procuring it at the hands of pain, whilst the constancy of this repining consciousness stamp’d at length that cast of sourness and severity on his features: which was, in fact, very foreign to the natural sweetness of his temper.

[475] After a competent preparation by apologies, and encouragement to go through my part with spirit and constancy, he stood up near the fire, whilst I went to fetch the instruments of discipline out of a closet hard by: these were several rods, made each of two or three strong twigs of birch tied together, which he took, handled, and view’d with as much pleasure, as I did with a kind of shuddering presage.

[476] Next we took from the side of the room a long broad bench, made easy to lie at length on by a soft cushion in a callico-cover; and every thing being now ready, he took his coat and waistcoat off; and at his motion and desire, I unbutton’d his breeches, and rolling up his shirt rather above his waist, tuck’d it in securely there: when directing naturally my eyes to that humoursome master-movement, in whose favour all these dispositions were making, it seemed almost shrunk into his body, scarce shewing its tip above the sprout of hairy curls that cloathed those parts, as you may have seen a wren peep its head out of the grass.

[477] Stooping then to untie his garters, he gave them me for the use of tying him down to the legs of the bench: a circumstance no farther necessary than, as I suppose, it made part of the humour of the thing, since he prescribed it to himself, amongst the rest of the ceremonial.

[478] I led him then to the bench, and according to my cue, play’d at forcing him to lie down: which, after some little shew of reluctance, for form-sake, he submitted to; he was straightway extended flat upon his belly, on the bench, with a pillow under his face; and as he thus tamely lay, I tied him slightly hand and foot, to the legs of it; which done, his shirt remaining truss’d up over the small of his back, I drew his breeches quite down to his knees; and now he lay, in all the fairest, broadest display of that part of the back-view; in which a pair of chubby, smooth-cheek’d and passing white posteriours rose cushioning upwards from two stout, fleshful thighs, and ending their cleft, or separation by an union at the small of the back, presented a bold mark, that swell’d, as it were, to meet the scourge.

[479] Seizing now one of the rods, I stood over him, and according to his direction, gave him in one breath, ten lashes with much good-will, and the utmost nerve and vigour of arm that I could put to them, so as to make those fleshy orbs quiver again under them; whilst he himself seem’d no more concern’d, or to mind them, than a lobster would a fleabite. In the mean time, I viewed intently the effects of them, which to me at least appear’d surprisingly cruel: every lash had skimmed the surface of those white cliffs, which they deeply reddened, and lapping round the side of the furthermost from me, cut specially, into the dimple of it such livid weals, as the blood either spun out from, or stood in large drops on; and, from some of the cuts, I picked out even the splinters of the rod that had stuck in the skin. Nor was this raw work to be wonder’d at, considering the greenness of the twigs and the severity of the infliction, whilst the whole surface of his skin was so smooth-stretched over the hard and firm pulp of flesh that fill’d it, as to yield no play, or elusive swagging under the stroke: which thereby took place the more plum, and cut into the quick.

[480] I was however already so mov’d at the piteous sight, that I from my heart repented the undertaking, and would willingly have given over, thinking he had full enough; but, he encouraging and beseeching me earnestly to proceed, I gave him ten more lashes; and then resting, survey’d the increase of bloody appearances. And at length, steel’d to the sight by his stoutness in suffering, I continued the discipline, by intervals, till I observ’d him wreathing and twisting his body, in a way that I could plainly perceive was not the effect of pain, but of some new and powerful sensation: curious to dive into the meaning of which, in one of my pauses of intermission, I approached, as he still kept working, and grinding his belly against the cushion under him; and, first stroking the untouched and unhurt side of the flesh-mount next me, then softly insinuating my hand under his thigh, felt the posture things were in forwards, which was indeed surprizing: for that machine of his, which I had, by its appearance, taken for an impalpable, or at best a very diminutive subject, was now, in virtue of all that smart and havoc of his skin behind, grown not only to a prodigious stiffness of erection, but to a size that frighted even me: a nonpareil thickness indeed! the head of it alone fill’d the utmost capacity of my grasp. And when, as he heav’d and wriggled to and fro, in the agitation of his strange pleasure, it came into view, it had something of the air of a round fillet of the whitest veal, and like its owner, squab, and short in proportion to its breadth; but when he felt my hand there, he begg’d I would go on briskly with my jerking, or he should never arrive at the last stage of pleasure.

[481] Resuming then the rod and the exercise of it, I had fairly worn out three bundles, when, after an increase of struggles and motion, and a deep sigh or two, I saw him lie still and motionless; and now he desir’d me to desist, which I instantly did; and proceeding to untie him, I could not but be amazed at his passive fortitude, on viewing the skin of his butcher’d, mangled posteriours, late so white, smooth and polish’d, now all one side of them a confused cut-work of weals, livid flesh, gashes and gore, insomuch that when he stood up, he could scarce walk; in short, he was in sweetbriars.

[482] Then I plainly perceived, on the cushion, the marks of a plenteous effusion, and already had his sluggard member run up to its old nestling-place, and enforced itself again, as if ashamed to shew its head; which nothing, it seems, could raise but stripes inflicted on its opposite neighbours, who were thus constantly obliged to suffer for his caprice.

[483] My gentleman had now put on his clothes and recomposed himself, when giving me a kiss, and placing me by him, he sat himself down as gingerly as possible, with one side off the cushion, which was too sore for him to bear resting any part of his weight on.

[501] I had, on a visit intended to Harriet, who had taken lodgings at Hampton-Court, hired a chariot to go out thither, Mrs. Cole having promis’d to accompany me; but some indispensable business intervening to detain her, I was obliged to set out alone; and scarce had I got a third of my way, before the axle-tree broke down, and I was well off to get out, safe and unhurt, into a publick-house of a tolerable handsome appearance, on the road. Here the people told me that the stage would come by in a couple of hours at farthest; upon which, determining to wait for it, sooner than lose the jaunt I had got so far forward on, I was carried into a very clean decent room, up one pair of stairs, which I took possession of for the time I had to stay, in right of calling for sufficient to do the house justice.

[502] Here, whilst I was amusing myself with looking out of the window, a single horse-chaise stopt at the door, out of which lightly leap’d two gentlemen, for so they seem’d, who came in only as it were to bait and refresh a little, for they gave their horse to be held in readiness against they came out. And presently I heard the door of the next room, where they were let in, and call’d about them briskly; and as soon as they were serv’d, I could just hear that they shut and fastened the door on the inside.

[503] A spirit of curiosity, far from sudden, since I do not know when I was without it, prompted me, without any particular suspicion, or other drift or view, to see what they were, and examine their persons and behaviour. The partition of our rooms was one of those moveable ones that, when taken down, serv’d occasionally to lay them into one, for the conveniency of a large company; and now, my nicest search could not shew me the shadow of a peep-hole, a circumstance which probably had not escap’d the review of the parties on the other side, whom much it stood upon not to be deceived in it; but at length I observed a paper patch of the same colour as the wainscot, which I took to conceal some flaw: but then it was so high, that I was obliged to stand upon a chair to reach it, which I did as softly as possibly, and, with a point of a bodkin, soon pierc’d it. And now, applying my eye close, I commanded the room perfectly, and could see my two young sparks romping and pulling one another about, entirely, to my imagination, in frolic and innocent play.

[504] The eldest might be, on my nearest guess, towards nineteen, a tall comely young man, in a white fustian frock, with a green velvet cape, and a cut bob-wig.

[505] The youngest could not be above seventeen, fair, ruddy, compleatly well made, and to say the truth, a sweet pretty stripling: he was — I fancy, too, a country-lad, by his dress, which was a green plush frock and breeches of the same, white waistcoat and stockings, a jockey cap, with his yellowish hair, long and loose, in natural curls.

[506] But after a look of circumspection, which I saw the eldest cast every way round the room, probably in too much hurry and heat not to overlook the very small opening I was posted at, especially at the height it was, whilst my eye close to it kept the light from shining through and betraying it, he said something to his companion and presently chang’d the face of things.

[507] For now the elder began to embrace, to press and kiss the younger, to put his hands into his bosom, and give him such manifest signs of an amorous intention, as made me conclude the other to be a girl in disguise: a mistake that nature kept me in countenance for, for she had certainly made one, when she gave him the male stamp.

[508] In the rashness then of their age, and bent as they were to accomplish their project of preposterous pleasure, at the risk of the very worst of consequences, where a discovery was nothing less than improbable, they now proceeded to such lengths as soon satisfied me, what they were.

[508a] For presently the eldest unbutton’d the other’s breeches, and removing the linnen barrier, brought out to view a white shaft, middle-siz’d, and scarce fledg’d, when after handling, and playing with it a little, with other dalliance, all receiv’d by the boy without other opposition, than certain wayward coynesses, ten times more alluring than repulsive, he got him to turn round with his face from him, to a chair that stood hard by, when knowing, I suppose, his office, the Ganymede now obsequiously lean’d his head against the back of it, and project his body, made a fair mark, still cover’d with his shirt, as he thus stood in a side-view to meet but fronting his companion, who presently unmasking his battery, produc’d an engine, that certainly deserv’d to be put to a better use, and very fit to confirm me in my disbelief of the possibility of things being push’d to odious extremities, which I had built on the disproportion of parts; but this disbelief I was now to be cur’d of, as by my consent all young men should likewise be, that their innocence may not be betray’d into such snares, for want of knowing the extent of their danger, for nothing is more certain than, that ignorance of a vice, is by no means a guard against it.

[508b] Slipping then aside the young lad’s shirt, and tucking it up under his cloaths behind, he shew’d to the open air, those globular, fleshy eminences that compose the mount-pleasants of Rome, and which now, with all the narrow vale that intersects them, stood display’d, and expos’d to his attack: nor could I, without a shudder, behold the dispositions he made for it. First then, moistening well with spittle his instrument, obviously to render it glib, he pointed, he introduc’d it, as I could plainly discern, not only from its direction, and my losing sight of it; but by the writhing, twisting, and soft murmur’d complaints of the young sufferer; but, at length, the first streights of entrance being pretty well got through, everything seem&rsqupo;d to move, and go pretty currently on, as in a carpet-road, without much rub, or resistance: and now passing one hand round his minion’s hips, he got hold of his red-topt ivory toy, that sood perfectly stiff, and shewed, that if he was like his mother behind, he was like his father before; this he diverted himself with, whilst with the other, he wanton’d with his hair, and leaning forward over his back, drew his face, from which the boy shook the loose curls that fell over it, in the posture he stood him in, and brought him towards his, so as to receive a long-breath’d kiss, after which, renewing his driving, and thus continuing to harrass his rear, the height of the fit came on with its usual symptoms, and dismiss’d the action.

[509] All this, so criminal a scene, I had the patience to see to an end, purely that I might gather more facts, and certainty against them in my design to do their deserts instance justice, and accordingly, when they had readjusted themselves, and were preparing to go out, burning as I was with rage and indignation, I jumped down from the chair, in order to raise the house upon them, but with such an unlucky impetuosity, that some nail or ruggedness in the floor caught my foot, and flung me on my face with such violence that I fell senseless on the ground, and must have lain there some time e’er any one came to my relief: so that they, alarmed, I suppose, by the noise of my fall, had more than the necessary time to make a safe retreat. This they effected, as I learnt, with a precipitation nobody could account for, till, when come to myself, and compos’d enough to speak, I acquainted those of the house with the whole transaction I had been evidence to.

[510] When I came home again, and told Mrs. Cole this adventure, she very sensibly observ’d to me that there was no doubt of due vengeance one time of other overtaking these miscreants, however they might escape for the present; and that, had I been the temporal instrument of it, I should have been at least put to a great deal more trouble and confusion that I imagined; that, as to the thing itself, the less said of it was the better; but that though she might be suspected of partiality, from its being the common cause of woman-kind, out of whose mouths this practice tended to take something more than bread, yet she protested against any mixture of passion, with a declaration extorted from her by pure regard to truth, which was, “that whatever effect this infamous passion had in other ages and other countries, it seem’d a peculiar blessing on our air and climate, that there was a plague-spot visibly imprinted on all that are tainted with it, in this nation at least; for that among numbers of that stamp whom she had known, or at least were universally under the scandalous suspicion of it, she would not name an exception hardly of one of them, whose character was not, in all other respects, the most worthless and despicable that could be, stript of all the manly virtues of their own sex, and fill’d up with only the worst vices and follies of ours: that, in fine, they were scarce less execrable than ridiculous in their monstrous inconsistence, of loathing and condemning women, and all at the same time apeing all their manners, air, lips, skuttle, and, in general, all their little modes of affectation, which become them at least better than they do these unsex’d male-misses.”

[560] But, alas! how easily is the enjoyment of the greatest sweets in life, in present possession, poisoned by the regret of an absent one! but my regret was a mighty and just one, since it had my only truly beloved Charles for its object.

[561] Given him up I had, indeed, compleatly, having never once heard from him since our separation; which, as I found afterwards, had been my misfortune, and not his neglect, for he wrote me several letters which had all miscarried; but forgotten him I never had. Amidst all my personal infidelities, not one had made a pin’s point impression on a heart impenetrable to the true love-passion, but for him.

[562] As soon, however, as I was mistress of this unexpected fortune, I felt more than ever how dear he was to me, from its insufficiency to make me happy, whilst he was not to share it with me. My earliest care, consequently, was to endeavour at getting some account of him; but all my researches produc’d me no more light than that his father had been dead for some time, not so well as even with the world; and that Charles had reached his port of destination in the South-Seas, where, finding the estate he was sent to recover dwindled to a trifle, by the loss of two ships in which the bulk of his uncle’s fortune lay, he was come away with the small remainder, and might, perhaps, according to the best advice, in a few months return to England, from whence he had, at the time of this my inquiry, been absent two years and seven months. A little eternity in love!

[563] You cannot conceive with what joy I embraced the hopes thus given me of seeing the delight of my heart again. But, as the term of months was assigned it, in order to divert and amuse my impatience for his return, after settling my affairs with much ease and security, I set out on a journey for Lancashire, with an equipage suitable to my fortune, and with a design purely to revisit my place of nativity, for which I could not help retaining a great tenderness; and might naturally not be sorry to shew myself there, to the advantage I was now in pass to do, after the report Esther Davis had spread of my being spirited away to the plantations; for on no other supposition could she account for the suppression of myself to her, since her leaving me so abruptly at the inn. Another favourite intention I had, to look out for my relations, though I had none besides distant ones, and prove a benefactress to them. Then Mrs. Cole’s place of retirement lying in my way, was not amongst the least of the pleasures I had proposed to myself in this expedition.

[564] I had taken nobody with me but a discreet decent woman, to figure it as my companion, besides my servants, and was scarce got into an inn, about twenty miles from London, where I was to sup and pass the night, when such a storm of wind and rain sprang up as made me congratulate myself on having got under shelter before it began.

[565] This had continu’d a good half hour, when bethinking me of some directions to be given to the coachman, I sent for him, and not caring that his shoes should soil the very clean parlour, in which the cloth was laid, I stept into the hall-kitchen, where he was, and where, whilst I was talking to him, I slantingly observ’d two horsemen driven in by the weather, and both wringing wet; one of whom was asking if they could not be assisted with a change, while their clothes were dried. But, heavens! who can express what I felt at the sound of a voice, ever present to my heart, and that is now rebounded at! or when pointing my eyes towards the person it came from, they confirm’d its information, in spite of so long an absence, and of a dress one would have imagin’d studied for a disguise: a horseman’s great coat, with a stand-up cape, and his hat flapp’d - - - but what could escape the piercing alertness of a sense surely guided by love? A transport then like mine was above all consideration, or schemes of surprize; and I, that instant, with the rapidity of the emotions that I felt the spur of, shot into his arms, crying out, as I threw mine round his neck: “My life! - - - my soul! - - - my Charles! . . .” and without further power of speech, swoon’d away, under the pressing agitations of joy and surprize.

[566] Recover’d out of my entrancement, I found myself in my charmer’s arms, but in the parlour, surrounded by a crowd which this event had gather’d round us, and which immediately, on a signal from the discreet landlady, who currently took him for my husband, clear’d the room, and desirably left us alone to the raptures of this reunion; my joy at which had like to have prov’d, at the expense of my life, power superior to that of grief at our fatal separation.

[567] The first object then, that my eyes open’d on, was their supreme idol, and my supreme wish Charles, on one knee, holding me fast by the hand and gazing on me with a transport of fondness. Observing my recovery, he attempted to speak, and give vent to his patience of hearing my voice again, to satisfy him once more that it was me; but the mightiness and suddenness of the surprize, continuing to stun him, choked his utterance: he could only stammer out a few broken, half formed, faltering accents, which my ears greedily drinking in, spelt, and put together, so as to make out their sense; “After so long! —— so cruel! — an absence, — my dearest Fanny! —— can it? can it be you?” —— stifling me at the same time with kisses, that, stopping my mouth, at once prevented the answer that he panted for, and increas’d the delicious disorder in which all my senses were rapturously lost. Amidst however, this crowd of ideas, and all blissful ones, there obtruded only one cruel doubt, that poison’d nearly all the transcendent happiness: and what was it, but my dread of its being too excessive to be real? I trembled now with the fear of its being no more than a dream, and of my waking out of it into the horrors of finding it one. Under this fond apprehension, imagining I could not make too much of the present prodigious joy, before it should vanish and leave me in the desert again, nor verify its reality too strongly, I clung to him, I clasp’d him, as if to hinder him from escaping me again: “Where have you been? — how could you, could you leave me? — Say you are still mine, — that you still love me, — and thus! thus! (kissing him as if I would consolidate lips with him!) I forgive you —— forgive my hard fortune in favour of this restoration.” — All these interjections breaking from me, in that wildness of expression that justly passes for eloquence in love, drew from him all the returns my fond heart could wish or require. Our caresses, our questions, our answers, for some time observ’d no order; all crossing, or interrupting one another in sweet confusion, whilst we exchang’d hearts at our eyes, and renew’d the ratifications of a love unbated by time or absence: not a breath, not a motion, not a gesture on either side, but what was strongly impressed with it. Our hands, lock’d in each other, repeated the most passionate squeezes, so that their fiery thrill went to the heart again.

[569] Thus absorbed, and concentre’d in this unutterable delight, I had not attended to the sweet author of it, being thoroughly wet, and in danger of catching cold; when, in good time, the landlady, whom the appearance of my equipage (which, by-the-bye, Charles knew nothing of) had gain’d me an interest in, for me and mine, interrupted us by bringing in a decent shift of linen and cloaths, which now, somewhat recover’d into a calmer composure by the coming in of a third person, I prest him to take the benefit of, with a tender concern and anxiety that made me tremble for his health.

[570] The landlady leaving us again, he proceeded to shift; in the act of which, tho’ he proceeded with all that modesty which became these first solemner instants of our re-meeting after so long an absence, I could not contain certain snatches of my eyes, lured by the dazzling discoveries of his naked skin, that escaped him as he chang’d his linen, and which I could not observe the unfaded life and complexion of without emotions of tenderness and joy, that had himself too purely for their object to partake of a loose or mistim’d desire.

[571] He was soon drest in these temporary cloaths, which neither fitted him now became the light my passion plac’d him in, to me at least; yet, as they were on him, they look’d extremely well, in virtue of that magic charm which love put into everything that he touch’d, or had relation to him: and where, indeed, was that dress that a figure like this would not give grace to? For now, as I ey’d him more in detail, I could not but observe the even favourable alteration which the time of his absence had produced in his person.

[572] There were still the requisite lineaments, still the same vivid vermilion and bloom reigning in his face: but now the roses were more fully blown; the tan of his travels, and a beard somewhat more distinguishable, had, at the expense of no more delicacy than what he could well spare, given it an air of becoming manliness and maturity, that symmetriz’d nobly with that air of distinction and empire with which nature had stamp’d it, in a rare mixture with the sweetness of it; still nothing had he lost of that smooth plumpness of flesh, which, glowing with freshness, blooms florid to the eye, and delicious to the touch; then his shoulders were grown more square, his shape more form’d, more portly, but still free and airy. In short, his figure show’d riper, greater, and perfecter to the experienced eye than in his tender youth; and now he was not much more than two and twenty.

[573] In this interval, however, I pick’d out of the broken, often pleasingly interrupted account of himself, that he was, at that instant, actually on his road to London, in not a very paramount plight or condition, having been wreck’d on the Irish coast for which he had prematurely embark’d, and lost the little all he had brought with him from the South-Seas, so that he had not till after great shifts and hardships, in the company of his fellow-traveller, the captain, got so far on his journey; that so it was (having heard of his father’s death and circumstances) he had now the world to begin again, on a new account: a situation which he assur’d me, in a vein of sincerity that, flowing from his heart, penetrated mine, gave him to farther pain, than that he had it not in his power to make me as happy as he could wish. My fortune, you will please to observe, I had not enter’d upon any overture of, reserving to feast myself with the surprize of it to him, in calmer instants. And, as to my dress, it could give him no idea of the truth, not only as it was mourning, but likewise in a style of plainness and simplicity that I had ever kept to with studied art. He press’d me indeed tenderly to satisfy his ardent curiosity, both with regard to my past and present state of life since his being torn away from me: but I had the address to elude his questions by answers that, shewing his satisfaction at no great distance, won upon him to waive his impatience, in favour of the thorough confidence he had in my not delaying it, but for respects I should in good time acquaint him with.

[574] Charles, however, thus returned to my longing arms, tender, faithful, and in health, was already a blessing too mighty for my conception: but Charles in distress! ——— Charles reduc’d, and broken down to his naked personal merit, was such a circumstance, in favour of the sentiments I had for him, as exceeded my utmost desires; and accordingly I seemed so visibly charm’d, so out of time and measure pleas’d at his mention of his ruin’d fortune, that he could account for it no way, but that the joy of seeing him again had swallow’d up every other sense, or concern.

[575] In the mean time, my woman had taken all possible care of Charles’s travelling companion; and as supper was coming in, he was introduc’d to me, when I receiv’d him as became my regard for all of Charles’s acquaintance or friends.

[576] We four then supp’d together, in the style of joy, congratulation, and pleasing disorder that you may guess. For my part, though all these agitations had left me not the least stomach but for that uncloying feast, the sight of my ador’d youth, I endeavour’d to force it, by way of example for him, who I conjectur’d must want such a recruit after riding; and, indeed, he ate like a traveller, but gaz’d at, and addressed me all the time like a lover.

[577] After the cloth was taken away, and the hour of repose came on, Charles and I were, without further ceremony, in quality of man and wife, shewn up together to a very handsome apartment, and, all in course, the bed, they said, the best in the inn.

[578] And here, Decency, forgive me! if once more I violate thy laws and keeping the curtains undrawn, sacrifice thee for the last time to that confidence, without reserve, with which I engaged to recount to you the most striking circumstances of my youthful disorders.

[579] As soon, then, as we were in the room together, left to ourselves, the sight of the bed starting the remembrance of our first joys, and the thought of my being instantly to share it with the dear possessor of my virgin heart, mov’d me so strongly, that it was well I lean’d upon him, or I must have fainted again under the overpowering sweet alarm. Charles saw into my confusion, and forgot his own, that was scarce less, to apply himself to the removal of mine.

[580] But now the true refining passion had regain’d thorough possession of me, with all its train of symptoms: a sweet sensibility, a tender timidity, love-sick yearnings temper’d with diffidence and modesty, all held me in a subjection of soul, incomparably dearer to me than the liberty of heart which I had been long, too long! the mistress of, in the course of those grosser gallantries, the consciousness of which now made me sigh with a virtuous confusion and regret. No real virgin, in view of the nuptial bed, could give more bashful blushes to unblemish’d innocence than I did to a sense of guilt; and indeed I lov’d Charles too truly not to feel severely that I did not deserve him.

[581] As I kept hesitating and disconcerted under this soft distraction, Charles, with a fond impatience, took the pains to undress me; and all I can remember amidst the flutter and discomposure of my senses was some flattering exclamations of joy and admiration, more specially at the feel of my breasts, now set at liberty form my stays, and which panting and rising in tumultuous throbs, swell’d upon his dear touch, and gave it the welcome pleasure of finding them well form’d, and unfail’d in firmness.

[582] I was soon laid in bed, and scarce languish’d an instant for the darling partner of it, before he was undress’d and got between the sheets, with his arms clasp’d round me, giving and taking, with gust inexpressible, a kiss of welcome, that my heart rising to my lips stamp’d with its warmest impression, concurring to by bliss, with that delicate and voluptuous emotion which Charles alone had the secret to excite, and which constitutes the very life, the essence of pleasure.

[583] Meanwhile, two candles lighted on a side-table near us, and a joyous wood-fire, threw a light into the bed that took from one sense, of great importance to our joys, all pretext for complaining of its being shut out of its share of them; and indeed, the sight of my idolized youth was alone, from the ardour with which I had wished for it, without other circumstance, a pleasure to die of.

[584] But as action was now a necessity to desires so much on edge as ours, Charles, after a very short prelusive dalliance, lifting up my linen and his own, laid the broad treasures of his manly chest close to my bosom, both beating with the tenderest alarms: when now, the sense of his glowing body, in naked touch with mine, took all power over my thoughts out of my own disposal, and deliver’d up every faculty of the soul to the sensiblest of joys, that affecting me infinitely more with my distinction of the person than of the sex, now brought my conscious heart deliciously into play: my heart, which eternally constant to Charles, had never taken any part in my occasional sacrifices to the calls of constitution, complaisance, or interest. But ah! what became of me, when as the powers of solid pleasure thickened upon me, I could not help feeling the stiff stake that had been adorn’d with the trophies of my despoil’d virginity, bearing hard and inflexible against one of my thighs, which I had not yet opened, from a true principle of modesty, reviv’d by a passion too sincere to suffer any aiming at the false merit of difficulty, or my putting on an impertinent mock coyness.

[585] I have, I believe, somewhere before remark’d, that the feel of that favourite piece of manhood has, in the very nature of it, something inimitably pathetic. Nothing can be dearer to the touch, nor can affect it with a more delicious sensation. Think then! as a love thinks, what must be the consummate transport of that quickest of our senses, in their central seat too! when, after so long a deprival, it felt itself re-inflam’d under the pressure of that peculiar scepter-member which commands us all: but especially my darling, elect from the face of the whole earth. And now, at its mightiest point of stiffness, it felt to me something so subduing, so active, so solid and agreeable, that I know not what name to give its singular impression: but the sentiment of consciousness of its belonging to my supremely beloved youth, gave me so pleasing an agitation, and work’d so strongly on my soul, that it sent all its sensitive spirits to that organ of bliss in me, dedicated to its reception. There, concentreing to a point, like rays in a burning glass, they glow’d, they burnt with the intensest heat; the springs of pleasure were, in short, wound up to such a pitch, I panted now, with so exquisitely keen an appetite for the eminent enjoyment that I was even sick with desire, and unequal to support the combination of two distinct ideas, that delightfully distracted me: for all the thought I was capable of, was that I was now in touch, at once, with the instrument of pleasure, and the great-seal of love. Ideas that, mingling streams, pour’d such an ocean of intoxicating bliss on a weak vessel, all too narrow to contain it, that I lay overwhelm’d, absorbed, lost in an abyss of joy, and dying of nothing but immoderate delight.

[586] Charles then rous’d me somewhat out of this extatic distraction with a complaint softly murmured, amidst a crowd of kisses, at the position, not so favourable to his desires, in which I receiv’d his urgent insistance for admission, where that insistance was alone so engrossing a pleasure that it made me inconsistently suffer a much dearer one to be kept out; but how sweet to correct such a mistake! My thighs, now obedient to the intimations of love and nature, gladly disclose, and with a ready submission, resign up the soft gateway to the entrance of pleasure: I see, I feel the delicious velvet tip! ——— he enters me might and main with — oh! —— my pen drops from me here in the extasy now present to my faithful memory! Description too deserts me, and delivers over a task, above its strength of wing, to the imagination: but it must be an imagination exalted by such a flame as mine that can do justice to that sweetest, noblest of all sensations, that hailed and accompany’d the stiff insinuation all the way up, till it was at the end of its penetration, sending up, through my eyes, the sparks of the love-fire that ran all over me and blaz’d in every vein and every pore of me: a system incarnate of joy all over.

[587] I had now totally taken in love’s true arrow from the point up to the feather, in that part, where making now new wound, the lips of the original one of nature, which had owed its first breathing to this dear instrument, clung, as if sensible of gratitude, in eager suction round it, whilst all its inwards embrac’d it tenderly with a warmth of gust, a compressive energy, that gave it, in its way, the heartiest welcome in nature; every fibre there gathering tight round it, and straining ambitiously to come in for its share of the blissful touch.

[588] As we were giving them a few moments of pause to the delectation of the senses, in dwelling with the highest relish on this intimatest point of re-union, and chewing the cud of enjoyment, the impatience natural to the pleasure soon drove us into action. Then began the driving tumult on his side, and the responsive heaves on mine, which kept me up to him; whilst, as our joys grew too great for utterance, the organs of our voices, voluptuously intermixing, became organs of the touch - - - and oh, that touch! how delicious! - - - how poignantly luscious! - - - And now! now I felt to the heart of me! I felt the prodigious keen edge with which love, presiding over this act, points the pleasure: love! that may be styled the Attic salt of enjoyment; and indeed, without it, the joy, great as it is, is still a vulgar one, whether in a king or a beggar; for it is, undoubtedly, love alone that refines, ennobles and exalts it.

[589] Thus happy, then, by the heart, happy by the senses, it was beyond all power, even of thought, to form the conception of a greater delight than what I was now consummating the fruition of.

[590] Charles, whose whole frame was convulsed with the agitation of his rapture, whilst the tenderest fires trembled in his eyes, all assured me of a prefect concord of joy, penetrated me so profoundly, touch’d me so vitally, took me so much out of my own possession, whilst he seem’d himself so much in mine, that in a delicious enthusiasm, I imagin’d such a transfusion of heart and spirit, as that coalescing, and making one body and soul with him, I was he, and he, me.

[591] But all this pleasure tending, like life from its first instants, towards its own dissolution, liv’d too fast not to bring on upon the spur its delicious moment of mortality; for presently the approach of the tender agony discover’d itself by its usual signals, that were quickly follow’d by my dear love’s emanation of himself that spun our, and shot, feelingly indeed! up the ravish’d in-draught: where the sweetly soothing balmy titillation opened all the juices of joy on my side, which extatically in flow, help’d to allay the prurient glow, and drown’d our pleasure for a while. Soon, however, to be on float again! For Charles, true to nature’s laws, in one breath expiring and ejaculating, languish’d not long in the dissolving trance, but recovering spirit again, soon gave me to feel that the true-mettle springs of his instrument of pleasure were, by love, and perhaps by a long vacation, wound up too high to be let down by a single explosion: his stiffness still stood my friend. Resuming then the action afresh, without dislodging, or giving me the trouble of parting from my sweet tenant, we play’d over again the same opera, with the same delightful harmony and concert: our ardours, like our love, knew no remission; and, all as the tide serv’d my lover, lavish of his stores, and pleasure-milk’d, overflow’d me once more from the fulness of his oval reservoirs of the genial emulsion: whilst, on my side, a convulsive grasp, in the instant of my giving down the liquid contribution, render’d me sweetly subservient at once to the increase of his joy, and of its effusions: moving me so, as to make me exert all those springs of the compressive exsuction with which the sensitive mechanism of that part thirstily draws and drains the nipple of Love; with much such an instinctive eagerness and attachment as, to compare great with less, kind nature engages infants at the breast by the pleasure they find in the motion of their little mouths and cheeks, to extract the milky stream prepar’d for their nourishment.

[592] But still there was no end of his vigour: this double discharge had so far from extinguish’d his desires, for that time, that it had not even calm’d them; and at his age, desires are power. He was proceeding then amazingly to push it to a third triumph, still without uncasing, if a tenderness, natural to true love, had not inspir’d me with self-denial enough to spare, and not overstrain him: and accordingly, entreating him to give himself and me quarter, I obtain’d, at length, a short suspension of arms, but not before he had exultingly satisfy’d me that he gave out standing.

[593] The remainder of the night, with what we borrow’d upon the day, we employ’d with unweary’d fervour in celebrating thus the festival of our re-meeting; and got up pretty late in the morning, gay, brisk and alert, though rest had been a stranger to us: but the pleasures of love had been to us, what the joy of victory is to an army; repose, refreshment, everything.

[594] The journey into the country being now entirely out of the question, and orders having been given over-night for turning the horses’ heads towards London, we left the inn as soon as we had breakfasted, not without a liberal distribution of the tokens of my grateful sense of the happiness I had met with in it.

[595] Charles and I were in my coach; the captain and my companion in a chaise hir’d purposely for them, to leave us the conveniency of a tete-a-tete.

[596] Here, on the road, as the tumult of my senses was tolerably compos’d, I had command enough to head to break properly to him the course of life that the consequence of my separation from him had driven me into: which, at the same time that he tenderly deplor’d with me, he was the less shocked at; as, on reflecting how he had left me circumstanc’d, he could not be entirely unprepar’d for it.

[597] But when I opened the state of my fortune to him, and with that sincerity which, from me to him, was so much a nature in me, I begg’d of him his acceptance of it, on his own terms. I should appear to you perhaps too partial to my passion, were I to attempt the doing his delicacy justice. I shall content myself then with assuring you, that after his flatly refusing the unreserv’d, unconditional donation that I long persecuted him in vain to accept, it was at length, in obedience to his serious commands (for I stood out unaffectedly, till he exerted the sovereign authority which love had given him over me), that I yielded my consent to waive the remonstrance I did not fail of making strongly to him, against his degrading himself, and incurring the reflection, however unjust, of having, for respects of fortune, barter’d his honour for infamy and prostitution, in making one his wife, who thought herself too much honour’d in being but his mistress.

[598] The plea of love then over-ruling all objections, Charles, entirely won with the merit of my sentiments for him, which he could not but read the sincerity of in a heart ever open to him, oblig’d me to receive his hand, by which means I was in pass, among other innumerable blessings, to bestow a legal parentage on those fine children you have seen by this happiest of matches.

[599] Thus at length, I got snug into port, where, in the bosom of virtue, I gather’d the only uncorrupt sweets: where, looking back on the course of vice I had run, and comparing its infamous blandishments with the infinitely superior joys of innocence, I could not help pitying, even in point of taste, those who, immers’d in gross sensuality, are insensible to the so delicate charms of Vartue, than which even Pleasure has not a greater friend, nor than Vice a greater enemy. Thus temperance makes men lords over those pleasures that intemperance enslaves them to: the one, parent of health, vigour, fertility, cheerfulness, and every other desirable good of life; the other, of diseases, debility, barrenness, self-loathing, with only every evil incident to human nature.

[600] You laugh, perhaps, at this tail-piece of morality, extracted from me by the force of truth, resulting from compar’d experiences: you think it, no doubt, out of place, out of character; possibly too you may look on it as the paltry finesse of one who seeks to mask a devotee to Vice under a rag of a veil, impudently smuggled from the shrine of Virtue: just as if one was to fancy one’s self compleatly disguised at a masquerade, with no other change of dress than turning one’s shoes into slippers; or, as if a writer should think to shield a treasonable libel, by concluding it with a formal prayer for the King. But, independent of my flattering myself that you have a juster opinion of my sense and sincerity, give me leave to represent to you, that such a supposition is even more injurious to Virtue than to me: since, consistently with candour and good-nature, it can have no foundation but in the falsest of fears, that its pleasures cannot stand in comparison with those of Vice; but let truth dare to hold it up in its most alluring light: then mark, how spurious, how low of taste, how comparatively inferior its joys are to those which Virtue gives sanction to, and whose sentiments are not above making even a sauce for the senses, but a sauce of the highest relish; whilst Vices are the harpies that infect and foul the feast. The paths of Vice are sometimes strew’d with roses, but then they are for ever infamous for many a thorn, for many a canker-worm: those of Virtue are strew’d with roses purely, and those eternally unfading ones.

[601] If you do me then justice, you will esteem me perfectly consistent in the incense I burn to Virtue. If I have painted Vice in all its gayest colours, if I have deck’d it with flowers, it has been solely in order to make the worthier, the solemner sacrifice of it, to Virtue.

[602] You know Mr. C—— O—— you know his estate, his worth, and good sense: can you, will you pronounce it ill meant, at least of him, when anxious for his son’s morals, with a view to form him to virtue, and inspire him with a fix’d, a rational contempt for vice, he condescended to be his master of the ceremonies, and led him by the hand thro’ the most noted bawdy-houses in town, where he took care he should be familiarized with all those scenes of debauchery, so fit to nauseate a good taste? The experiment, you will cry, is dangerous. True, on a fool: but are fools worth so much attention?

[603] I shall see you soon, and in the mean time think candidly of me, and believe me ever,

M A D A M,

Yours, &c. &c. &c.