Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

One of the reasons for the popularity of flagellation was, however, the debauched state of many gallants, who could only obtain the necessary stimulus by subjecting themselves to flagellation. And this devitalization may be found in such eccentricities as the development of voyeurism; just as in certain music-halls now, girls — the so-called ” posture girls ” — would pose in the nude. (13).

The third strand in the web of the period is that of homosexuality. The trend had certainly started during the Restoration, for Pepys speaks of it as general at Court, and in 1698 Elizabeth, Duchess of Orleans, when Lord Portland was sent as Ambassador to Paris, wrote to a friend: “Nothing’s more ordinary in England than this unnatural vice.” Just fifty years later, Strutwell, in Roderick Random, declares that

“homosexuality gains ground apace and in all probability will become in a short time a more fashionable device than fornication”.

Allowing for the element of satire, this is confirmed by Satan’s Harvest Home, the second part of which consists of an essay entitled “Reasons for the Growth of Sodomy“.

In view of this it is perhaps understandable to find “a young Irish clergyman” writing a tract called “An Essay upon Improving and adding to the Strength of Great Britain and Ireland by Fornication“.