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Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

Mrs. Brown’s dark closet

First Letter - Part II


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John Cleland, Memoirs of a woman of pleasure (Fanny Hill), Printed for G. Fenton (first edition), in the Strand, London, 1747.


In the morning I awoke about ten, perfectly gay and refreshed. Phoebe 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.

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 Brussels 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.

The care of dressing, and tricking me out for the market, was then left to Phoebe, 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.

Phoebe’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.

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?

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.

After some little time most agreeably spent before the glass, in scarce self-admiration, since my new dress had by much the greatest share in it, I was sent for down to the parlour, where the old lady saluted me, and wished me joy of my new cloaths, which she was not asham’d to say, fitted me as if I had worn nothing but the finest all my life-time; but what was it she could not see me silly enough to swallow? At the same time, she presented me to another cousin of her own creation, an elderly gentleman, who got up, at my entry into the room, and on my dropping a curtsy to him, saluted me, and seemed a little affronted that I had only presented my cheek to him; a mistake, which, if one, he immediately corrected, by glewing his lips to mine, with an ardour which his figure had not at all disposed me to thank him for; his figure, I say, than which nothing could be more shocking or detestable: for ugly, and disagreeable, were terms too gentle to convey a just idea of it.

Imagine to yourself a man rather past threescore, short and ill-made, with a yellow cadaverous hue, great goggling eyes that stared as if he was strangled; and out-mouth from two more properly tusks than teeth, livid-lips, and breath like a jake’s: then he had a peculiar ghastliness in his grin that made him perfectly frightful, if not dangerous to women with child; yet, made as he was thus in mock of man, he was so blind to his own staring deformities as to think himself born for pleasing, and that no woman could see him with impunity: in consequence of which idea, he had lavish’d great sums on such wretches as could gain upon themselves to pretend love to his person, whilst to those who had not art or patience to dissemble the horror it inspir’d, he behaved even brutally. Impotence, more than necessity, made him seek in variety the provocative that was wanting to raise him to the pitch of enjoyment, which too he often saw himself baulked of, by the failure of his powers: and this always threw him into a fit of rage, which he wreak’d, as far as he durst, on the innocent objects of his fit of momentary desire.

This then was the monster to which my conscientious benefactress, who had long been his purveyor in this way, had doom’d me, and sent for me down purposely for his examination. Accordingly she made me stand up before him, turn’d me round, unpinn’d my handkerchief, remark’d to him the rise and fall, the turn and whiteness of a bosom just beginning to fill; then made me walk, and took even a handle from the rusticity of my gait, to inflame the inventory of my charms: in short, she omitted no point of jockeyship; to which he only answer’d by gracious nods of approbation, whilst he look’d goats and monkies at me: for I sometimes stole a corner glance at him, and encountering his fiery, eager stare, looked another way from pure horror and affright, which he, doubtless in character, attributed to nothing more than maiden modesty, or at least the affectation of it.

However, I was soon dismiss’d, and reconducted to my room by Phoebe, who stuck close to me, not leaving me alone and at leisure to make such reflections as might naturally rise to any one, not an idiot, on such a scene as I had just gone through; but to my shame be it confess’d, such was my invincible stupidity, or rather portentous innocence, that I did not yet open my eyes to Mrs. Brown’s designs, and saw nothing in this titular cousin of hers but a shocking hideous person which did not at all concern me, unless that my respect to all her cousinhood.

Phoebe, however, began to sift the state and pulses of my heart towards this monster, asking me how I should approve of such a fine gentleman for a husband? (fine gentleman, I suppose she called him, from his being daubed with lace). I answered her very naturally, that I had no thoughts of a husband, but that if I was to choose one, it should be among my own degree, sure! So much had my aversion to that wretch’s hideous figure indisposed me to all ’fine gentlemen,’ and confounded my ideas, as if those of that rank had been necessarily cast in the same mould that he was! But Phoebe was not to be beat off so, but went on with her endeavours to melt and soften me for the purposes of my reception into that hospitable house: and whilst she talked of the sex in general, she had no reason to despair of a compliance, which more than one reason shewed her would be easily enough obtained of me; but then she had too much experience not to discover that my particular fix’d aversion to that frightful cousin would be a block not so readily to be removed, as suited the consummation of their bargain, and sale of me.

Mother Brown had in the mean time agreed the terms with this liquorish old goat, which I afterwards understood were to be fifty guineas peremptory for the liberty of attempting me, and a hundred more at the compleat gratification of his desires, in the triumph over my virginity: and as for me, I was to be left entirely at the discretion of his liking and generosity. This unrighteous contract being thus settled, he was so eager to be put in possession, that he insisted on being introduc’d to drink tea with me that afternoon, when we were to be left alone; nor would he hearken to the procuress’s remonstrances, that I was not sufficiently prepared and ripened for such an attack; that I was too green and untam’d, having been scarce twenty-four hours in the house: it is the character of lust to be impatient, and his vanity arming him against any supposition of other than the common resistance of a maid on those occasions, made him reject all proposals of a delay, and my dreadful trial was thus fix’d, unknown to me, for that very evening.

At dinner, Mrs. Brown and Phoebe did nothing but run riot in praises of this wonderful cousin, and how happy that woman would be that he would favour with his addresses; in short my two gossips exhausted all their rhetoric to persuade me to accept them: ’that the gentleman was violently smitten with me at first sight … that he would make my fortune if I would be a good girl and not stand in my own light … that I should trust his honour … that I should be made for ever, and have a chariot to go abroad in … ,’ with all such stuff as was fit to turn the head of such a silly ignorant girl as I then was: but luckily here my aversion had taken already such deep root in me, my heart was so strongly defended from him by my senses, that wanting the art to mask my sentiments, I gave them no hopes of their employer’s succeeding, at least very easily, with me. The glass too march’d pretty quick, with a view, I suppose, to make a friend of the warmth of my constitution, in the minutes of the imminent attack.

Thus they kept me pretty long at table, and about six in the evening, after I was retired to my own apartment, and the tea board was set, enters my venerable mistress, follow’d close by that satyr, who came in grinning in a way peculiar to him, and by his odious presence confirm’d me in all the sentiments of detestation which his first appearance had given birth to.

He sat down fronting me, and all tea time kept ogling me in a manner that gave me the utmost pain and confusion, all the marks of which he still explained to be my bashfulness, and not being used to see company.

Tea over, the commoding old lady pleaded urgent business (which indeed was true) to go out, and earnestly desir’d me to entertain her cousin kindly till she came back, both for my own sake and her’s; and then with a ’Pray, sir, be very good, be very tender of the sweet child,’ she went out of the room, leaving me staring, with my mouth open, and unprepar’d, by the suddenness of her departure, to oppose it.

We were now alone; and on that idea a sudden fit of trembling seiz’d me. I was so afraid, without a precise notion of why, and what I had to fear, that I sat on the settee, by the fire-side, motionless, and petrified, without life or spirit, not knowing how to look or how to stir.

But long I was not suffered to remain in this state of stupefaction: the monster squatted down by me on the settee, and without farther ceremony or preamble, flings his arms about my neck, and drawing me pretty forcibly towards him, oblig’d me to receive, in spite of my struggles to disengage from him, his pestilential kisses, which quite overcame me. Finding me then next to senseless, and unresisting, he tears off my neck handkerchief, and laid all open there to his eyes and hands: still I endur’d all without flinching, till embolden’d by my sufferance and silence, for I had not the power to speak or cry out, he attempted to lay me down on the settee, and I felt his hand on the lower part of my naked thighs, which were cross’d, and which he endeavoured to unlock … Oh then! I was roused out of my passive endurance, and springing from him with an activity he was not prepar’d for, threw myself at his feet, and begg’d him, in the most moving tone, not to be rude, and that he would not hurt me: — ’Hurt you, my dear?’ says the brute; ’I intend you no harm … has not the old lady told you that I love you? ... that I shall do handsomely by you?’ ’She has indeed, sir,’ said I; ’but I cannot love you, indeed I can not! … pray let me alone … yes! I will love you dearly if you will let me alone, and go away … ’ But I was talking to the wind; for whether my tears, my attitude, or the disorder of my dress prov’d fresh incentives, or whether he was not under the dominion of desires he could not bridle, but snorting and foaming with lust and rage, he renews his attack, seizes me, and again attempts to extend and fix me on the settee: in which he succeeded so far as to lay me along, and even to toss my petticoats over my head, and lay my thighs bare, which I obstinately kept close, nor could he, though he attempted with his knee to force them open, effect it so as to stand fair for being master of the main avenue; he was unbuttoned, both waistcoat and breeches, yet I only felt the weight of his body upon me, whilst I lay struggling with indignation, and dying with terror; but he stopped all of a sudden, and got off, panting, blowing, cursing, and repeating ’old and ugly!’ for so I had very naturally called him in the heat of my defence.

The brute had, it seems, as I afterwards understood, brought on, by his eagerness and struggle, the ultimate period of his hot fit of lust, which his power was too short liv’d to carry him through the full execution of; of which my thighs and linen received the effusion.

When it was over he bid me, with a tone of displeasure, get up, saying that he would not do me the honour to think of me any more ... that the old bitch might look out for another cully … that he would not be fool’d so by e’er a country mock modesty in England … that he supposed I had left my maidenhead with some hobnail in the country, and was come to dispose of my skin-milk in town, with a volley of the like abuse; which I listened to with more pleasure than ever fond woman did to protestations of love from her darling minion: for, incapable as I was of receiving any addition to my perfect hatred and aversion to him, I look’d on this railing as my security against his renewing his most odious caresses.

Yet, plain as Mrs. Brown’s views were now come out, I had not the heart or spirit to open my eyes to them: still I could not part with my dependence on that beldam, so much did I think myself her’s, soul and body: or rather, I sought to deceive myself with the continuation of my good opinion of her, and chose to wait the worst at her hands sooner than be turn’d out to starve in the streets, without a penny of money or a friend to apply to: these fears were my folly.

Whilst this confusion of ideas was passing in my head, and I sat pensive by the fire, with my eyes brimming with tears, my neck still bare, and my cap fall’n off in the struggle, so that my hair was in the disorder you may guess, the villain’s lust began, I suppose, to be again in flow, at the sight of all that bloom of youth which presented itself to his view, a bloom yet unenjoy’d, and of course not yet indifferent to him.

After some pause, he ask’d me, with a tone of voice mightily softened, whether I would make it up with him before the old lady returned and all should be well; he would restore me his affections, at the same time offering to kiss me and feel my breasts. But now my extreme aversion, my fears, my indignation, all acting upon me, gave me a spirit not natural to me, so that breaking loose from him, I ran to the bell and rang it, before he was aware, with such violence and effect as brought up the maid to know what was the matter, or whether the gentleman wanted any thing; and before he could proceed to greater extremities, she bounc’d into the room, and seeing me stretch’d on the floor, my hair all dishevell’d, my nose gushing out blood, which did not a little tragedize the scene, and my odious persecutor still intent of pushing his brutal point, unmoved by all my cries and distress, she was herself confounded and did not know what to say.

As much, however, as Martha might be prepared and hardened to transactions of this sort, all womanhood must have been out of her heart, could she have seen this unmov’d. Besides that, on the face of things, she imagined that matters had gone greater lengths than they really had, and that the courtesy of the house had been actually consummated on me, and flung me into the condition I was in: in this notion she instantly took my part, and advis’d the gentleman to go down and leave me to recover myself, and ’that all would be soon over with me … that when Mrs. Brown and Phoebe, who were gone out, were return’d, they would take order for every thing to his satisfaction … that nothing would be lost by a little patience with the poor tender thing … that for her part she was … frighten’d … she could not tell what to say to such doings … but that she would stay by me till my mistress came home.’ As the wench said all this in a resolute tone, and the monster himself began to perceive that things would not mend by his staying, he took his hat and went out of the room, murmuring, and pleating his brows like an old ape, so that I was delivered from the horrors of his detestable presence.

As soon as he was gone, Martha very tenderly offered me her assistance in any thing, and would have got me some hartshorn drops, and put me to bed; which last, I at first positively refused, in the fear that the monster might return and take me at that advantage. However, with much persuasion, and assurances that I should not be molested that night, she prevailed on me to lie down; and indeed I was so weakened by my struggles, so dejected by my fearful apprehensions, so terror-struck, that I had not power to sit up, or hardly to give answers to the questions with which the curious Martha ply’d and perplex’d me.

Such too, and so cruel was my fate, that I dreaded the sight of Mrs. Brown, as if I had been the criminal and she the person injur’d; a mistake which you will not think so strange, on distinguishing that neither virtue nor principles had the least share in the defence I had made, but only the particular aversion I had conceiv’d against the first brutal and frightful invader of my tender innocence.

I pass’d then the time till Mrs. Brown’s return home, under all the agitations of fear and despair that may easily be guessed.

About eleven at night my two ladies came home, and having receiv’d rather a favourable account from Martha, who had run down to let them in, for Mr. Crofts (that was the name of my brute) was gone out of the house, after waiting till he had tired his patience for Mrs. Brown’s return, they came thundering up-stairs, and seeing me pale, my face bloody, and all the marks of the most thorough dejection, they employed themselves more to comfort and re-inspirit me, than in making me the reproaches I was weak enough to fear, I who had so many juster and stronger to retort upon them.

Mrs. Brown withdrawn, Phoebe came presently to bed to me, and what with the answers she drew from me, what with her own method of palpably satisfying herself, she soon discovered that I had been more frighted than hurt; upon which I suppose, being herself seiz’d with sleep, and reserving her lectures and instructions till the next morning, she left me, properly speaking, to my unrest; for, after tossing and turning the greatest part of the night, and tormenting myself with the falsest notions and apprehensions of things, I fell, through mere fatigue, into a kind of delirious doze, out of which I waded late in the morning, in a violent fever: a circumstance which was extremely critical to reprieve me, at least for a time, from the attacks of a wretch infinitely more terrible to me than death itself.

The interested care that was taken of me during my illness, in order to restore me to a condition of making good the bawd’s engagements, or of enduring further trials, and however such an effect on my grateful disposition, that I even thought myself oblig’d to my undoers for their attention to promote my recovery; and, above all, for the keeping out of my sight of that brutal ravisher, the author of my disorder, on their finding I was too strongly mov’d at the bare mention of his name.

Youth is soon raised, and a few days were sufficient to conquer the fury of my fever: but, what contributed most to my perfect recovery and to my reconciliation with life, was the timely news that Mr. Crofts, who was a merchant of considerable dealings, was arrested at the King’s suit, for nearly forty thousand pounds, on account of his driving a certain contraband trade, and that his affairs were so desperate that even were it in his inclination, it would not be in his power to renew his designs upon me: for he was instantly thrown into a prison, which it was not likely he would get out of in haste.

Mrs. Brown, who had touched his fifty guineas, advanc’d to so little purpose, and lost all hopes of the remaining hundred, began to look upon my treatment of him with a more favourable eye; and as they had observ’d my temper to be perfectly tractable and conformable to their views, all the girls that compos’d her flock were suffered to visit me, and had their cue to dispose me, by their conversation, to a perfect resignation of myself to Mrs. Brown’s direction.

Accordingly they were let in upon me, and all that frolic and thoughtless gaiety in which those giddy creatures consume their leisure made me envy a condition of which I only saw the fair side; insomuch, that the being one of them became even my ambitionP a disposition which they all carefully cultivated; and I wanted now nothing but to restore my health, that I might be able to undergo the ceremony of the initiation.

Conversation, example, all, in short, contributed, in that house, to corrupt my native purity, which had taken no root in education; whilst not the inflammable principal of pleasure, so easily fired at my age, made strange work within me, and all the modesty I was brought up in the habit, not the instruction of, began to melt away like dew before the sun’s heat; not to mention that I made a vice of necessity, from the constant fears I had of being turn’d out to starve.

I was soon pretty well recover’d, and at certain hours allow’d to range all over the house, but cautiously kept from seeing any company till the arrival of Lord B . . ., from Bath, to whom Mrs. Brown, in respect to his experienced generosity on such occasions, proposed to offer the perusal ot that trinket of mine, which bears so great an imaginary value; and his lordship being expected in town in less than a fortnight, Mrs. Brown judged I would be entirely renewed in beauty and freshness by that time, and afford her the chance of a better bargain than she had driven with Mr. Crofts.

In the meantime, I was so thoroughly, as they call it, brought over, so tame to their whistle, that, had my cage door been set open, I had no idea that I ought to fly anywhere, sooner than stay where I was; nor had I the least sense of regretting my condition, but waited very quietly for whatever Mrs. Brown should order concerning me; who on her side, by herself and her agents, took more than the necessary precautions to lull and lay asleep all just reflections on my destination.

Preachments of morality over the left shoulder; a life of joy painted in the gayest colours; caresses, promises, indulgent treatment: nothing, in short, was wanting to domesticate me entirely and to prevent my going out anywhere to get better advice. Alas! I dream’d of no such thing.

Hitherto I had been indebted only to the girls of the house for the corruption of my innocence: their luscious talk, in which modesty was far from respected, their description of their engagements with men, had given me a tolerable insight into the nature and mysteries of their profession, at the same time that they highly provok’d an itch of florid warm-spirited blood through every vein: but above all, my bed-fellow Phoebe, whose pupil I more immediately was, exerted her talents in giving me the first tinctures of pleasure: whilst nature, now warm’d and wantoned with discoveries so interesting, piqu’d a curiosity which Phoebe artfully whetted, and leading me from question to question of her own suggestion, explain’d to me all the mysteries of Venus. But I could not long remain in such a house as that, without being an eye-witness of more than I could conceive from her descriptions.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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 Phoebe’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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Phoebe, and received her explanations upon it.

The opportunity, however, did not offer till next morning, for Phoebe did not come to bed till long after I was gone to sleep. As soon then as we were both awake, it was but in course to bring our ly-a-bed chat to land on the subject of my uneasiness: to which a recital of the love scene I had thus, by chance, been spectatress of, serv’d for a preface.

Phoebe could not hear it to the end without more than one interruption by peals of laughter, and my ingenuous way of relating matters did not a little heighten the joke to her.

But, on her sounding me how the sight had affected me, without mincing or hiding the pleasurable emotions it had inspir’d me with, I told her at the same time that one remark had perplex’d me, and that very considerably. ---"Aye!" say she, "what was that?" --- "Why," replied I, "having very curiously and attentively compared the size of that enormous machine, which did not appear, at least to my fearful imagination, less than my wrist, and at least three of my handfuls long, to that of the tender small part of me which was framed to receive it, I can not conceive its being possible to afford it entrance without dying, perhaps in the greatest pain, since you well know that even a finger thrust in there hurts me beyond bearing … As to my mistress’s and yours, I can plainly distinguish the different dimensions of them from mine, palpable to the touch, and visible to the eye; so that, in short, great as the promis’d pleasure may be, I am afraid of the pain of the experiment."

Phoebe at this redoubled her laugh, and whilst I expected a very serious solution of my doubts and apprehensions in this matter, only told me that she never heard of a mortal wound being given in those parts by that terrible weapon, and that some she knew younger, and as delicately made as myself, had outlived the operation; that she believed, at the worst, I should take a great deal of killing; that true it was, there was a great diversity of sizes in those parts, owing to nature, child-bearing, frequent over-stretching with unmerciful machines, but that at a certain age and habit of body, even the most experienc’d in those affairs could not well distinguish between the maid and the woman, supposing too an absence of all artifice, and things in their natural situation: but that since chance had thrown in my way one sight of that sort, she would procure me another, that should feast my eyes more delicately, and go a great way in the cure of my fears from that imaginary disproportion.

On this she asked me if I knew Polly Philips. "Undoubtedly," says I, "the fair girl which was so tender of me when I was sick, and has been, as you told me, but two months in the house.": "The same," says Phoebe. "You must know then, she is kept by a young Genoese merchant, whom his uncle, who is immensely rich, and whose darling he is, sent over here with an English merchant, his friend, on a pretext of settling some accounts, but in reality to humour his inclinations for travelling, and seeing the world. He met casually with this Polly once in company, and taking a liking to her, makes it worth her while to keep entirely to him. He comes to her here twice or thrice a week, and she receives him in her light closet up one pair of stairs, where he enjoys her in a taste, I suppose, peculiar to the heat, or perhaps the caprices of his own country. I say no more, but to-morrow being his day, you shall see what passes between them, from a place only known to your mistress and myself."

You may be sure, in the ply I was now taking, I had no objection to the proposal, and was rather a tip-toe for its accomplishment.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

As if this had been the signal agreed on for pulling off all their cloaths, a scheme which the heat of the season perfectly favoured, Polly began to draw her pins, and as she had no stays to unlace, she was in a trice, with her gallant’s officious assistance, undress’d to all but her shift.

When he saw this, his breeches were immediately loosen’d, waist and knee bands, and slipped over his ankles, clean off; his shirt collar was unbuttoned too: then, first giving Polly an encouraging kiss, he stole, as it were, the shift off the girl, who being, I suppose, broke and familiariz’d to this humour, blush’d indeed, but less than I did at the apparition of her, now standing stark-naked, just as she came out of the hands of pure nature, with her black hair loose and a-float down her dazzling white neck and shoulders, whilst the deepen’d carnation of her cheeks went off gradually into the hue of glaz’d snow: for such were the blended tints and polish of her skin.

This girl could not be above eighteen: her face regular and sweet-featur’d, her shape exquisite; nor could I help envying her two ripe enchanting breasts, finely plump’d out in flesh, but withal so round, so firm, that they sustain’d themselves, in scorn of any stay: then their nipples, pointing different ways, mark’d their pleasing separation; beneath them lay the delicious tract of the belly, which terminated in a parting or rift scarce discernible, that modesty seem’d to retire downwards, and seek shelter between two plump fleshy thighs: the curling hair that overspread its delightful front, cloathed it with the richest sable fur in the universe: in short, she was evidently a subject for the painters to court her sitting to them for a pattern of female beauty, in all the true price and pomp of nakedness.

The young Italian (still in his shirt) stood gazing and transported at the sight of beauties that might have fir’d a dying hermit; his eager eyes devour’d her, as she shifted attitudes at his discretion: neither were his hands excluded their share of the high feast, but wander’d, on the hunt of pleasure, over every part and inch of her body, so qualified to afford the most exquisite sense of it.

In the mean time, one could not help observing the swell of his shirt before, that bolster’d out, and shewed the condition of things behind the curtain: but he soon remov’d it, by slipping his shirt over his head; and now, as to nakedness, they had nothing to reproach one another.

The young gentleman, by Phoebe’s guess, was about two and twenty; tall and well limb’d. His body was finely form’d and of a most vigorous make, square-shoulder’d, and broad-chested: his face was not remarkable in any way, but for a nose inclining to the Roman, eyes large, black, and sparkling, and a ruddiness in his cheeks that was the more a grace, for his complexion was of the brownest, not of that dusky dun colour which excludes the idea of freshness, but of that clear, olive gloss which, glowing with life, dazzles perhaps less than fairness, and yet pleases more, when it pleases at all. His hair, being too short to tie, fell no lower than his neck, in short easy curls; and he had a few sprigs about his paps, that garnish’d his chest in a style of strength and manliness. Then his grand movement, which seem’d to rise out of a thicket of curling hair that spread from the root all round thighs and belly up to the navel, stood stiff and upright, but of a size to frighten me, by sympathy, for the small tender part which was the object of its fury, and which now lay expos’d to my fairest view; for he had, immediately on stripping off his shirt, gently push’d her down on the couch, which stood conveniently to break her willing fall. Her thighs were spread out to their utmost extension, and discovered between them the mark of the sex, the red-center’d cleft of flesh, whose lips, vermilioning inwards, exprest a small rubid line in sweet miniature, such as Guido’s touch of colouring could never attain to the life or delicacy of.

Phoebe, at this gave me a gentle jog, to prepare me for a whispered question: whether I thought my little maidenhead was much less? But my attention was too much engross’d, too much enwrapp’d with all I saw, to be able to give her any answer.

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 ot 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.

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.

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.

Phoebe, 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.

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.

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.

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.

But who could count the fierce, unnumber’s 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.

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.

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.

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 Phoebe, 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.

Phoebe 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.

View online : Duet-parties of pleasure in Chelsea
First Letter - Part III



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