Pederasty (Richard F. Burton) — 5

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Outside the Sotadic Zone, I have said, Le Vice is sporadic, not endemic: yet the physical and moral effect of great cities where puberty, they say, is induced earlier than in country sites, has been the same in most lands, causing modesty to decay and pederasty to flourish. The Badawi Arab is wholly pure of Le Vice; yet San’á the capital of Al-Yaman and other centres of population have long been and still are thoroughly infected. History tells us of Zú Shanátir, tyrant of “Arabia Felix”, in A.D. 478, who used to entice young men into his palace and cause them after use to be cast out of the windows: this unkindly ruler was at last poniarded by the youth Zerash, known from his long ringlets as “Zú Nowás.” The negro race is mostly untainted by sodomy and tribadism. Yet Joan dos Sanctos59 found in Cacongo of West Africa certain “Chibudi, which are men attyred like women and behaue themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men; are also married to men, and esteem that vnnaturale damnation an honor.” Madagascar also delighted in dancing and singing boys dressed as girls. In the Empire of Dahomey I noted a corps of prostitutes kept for the use of the Amazon-soldieresses.

North of the Sotadic Zone we find local but notable instances. Master Christopher Burrough60 describes on the western side of the Volga “a very fine stone castle, called by the name Oueak, and adioyning to the same a Towne called by the Russes, Sodom, * * * which was swallowed into the earth by the iustice of God, for the wickednesse of the people.” Again: although as a rule Christianity has steadily opposed pathologic love both in writing and preaching, there have been remarkable exceptions. Perhaps the most curious idea was that of certain medical writers in the middle ages: “Usus et amplexus pueri, bene temperatus, salutaris medicina” (Tardieu). Bayle notices (under “Vayer”) the infamous book of Giovanni della Casa, Archbishop of Benevento, “De laudibus Sodomiæ,”61 vulgarly known as “Capitolo del Forno.” The same writer refers (under “Sixte iv”) to the report that the Dominican Order, which systematically decried Le Vice, had presented a request to the Cardinal di Santa Lucia that sodomy might be lawful during three months per annum, June to August; and that the Cardinal had underwritten the petition “Be it done as they demand.” Hence the Fæda Venus of Battista Mantovano. Bayle rejects the history for a curious reason, venery being colder in summer than in winter, and quotes the proverb, “Aux mois qui n’ont pas d’ R, peu embrasser et bien boire.” But in the case of a celibate priesthood such scandals are inevitable: witness the famous Jesuit epitaph Ci-gît un Jésuite, etc.

In our modern capitals, London, Berlin and Paris for instance, the Vice seems subject to periodical outbreaks. For many years, also, England sent her pederasts to Italy, and especially to Naples, whence originated the term “Il vizio Inglese.” It would be invidious to detail the scandals which of late years have startled the public in London and Dublin: for these the curious will consult the police reports. Berlin, despite her strong flavour of Phariseeism, Puritanism and Chauvinism in religion, manners and morals, is not a whit better than her neighbours. Dr. Gaspar,62 a well-known authority on the subject, adduces many interesting cases, especially an old Count Cajus and his six accomplices. Amongst his many correspondents one suggested to him that not only Plato and Julius Cæsar but also Winckelmann and Platen (?) belonged to the Society; and he had found it flourishing in Palermo, the Louvre, the Scottish Highlands and St. Petersburg, to name only a few places. Frederick the Great is said to have addressed these words to his nephew, “Je puis vous assurer, par mon expérience personelle, que ce plaisir est peu agréable à cultiver.” This suggests the popular anecdote of Voltaire and the Englishman who agreed upon an “experience” and found it far from satisfactory. A few days afterwards the latter informed the Sage of Ferney that he had tried it again and provoked the exclamation, “Once a philosopher: twice a sodomite!” The last revival of the kind in Germany is a society at Frankfort and its neighbourhood, self-styled Les Cravates Noires, in opposition, I suppose, to Les Cravates Blanches of A. Belot.

Paris is by no means more depraved than Berlin and London; but, whilst the latter hushes up the scandal, Frenchmen do not: hence we see a more copious account of it submitted to the public. For France of the xviith century consult the “Histoire de la Prostitution chez tous les Peuples du Monde,” and “La France devenue Italienne,” a treatise which generally follows “L’Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules” by Bussy, Comte de Rabutin.63 The headquarters of male prostitution were then in the Champ Flory, i.e., Champ de Flore, the privileged rendezvous of low courtesans. In the xviiith century, “quand le Français à tête folle,” as Voltaire sings, invented the term “Péché philosophique,” there was a temporary recrudescence; and, after the death of Pidauzet de Mairobert (March, 1779), his “Apologie de la Secte Anandryne” was published in L’Espion Anglais. In those days the Allée des Veuves in the Champs Elysees had a “fief reservé des Ebugors”64—“Veuve” in the language of Sodom being the maîtresse en titre, the favourite youth.

At the decisive moment of monarchical decomposition Mirabeau65 declares that pederasty was reglementée and adds, Le goût des pédérastes, quoique moins en vogue que du temps de Henri III. (the French Heliogabalus), sous le règne duquel les hommes se provoquaient mutuellement66 sous les portiques du Louvre, fait des progrès considérables. On sait que cette ville (Paris) est un chef-d’œuvre de police ; en conséquence, il y a des lieux publics autorisés à cet effet. Les jeunes gens qui se destinent à la profession, sont soigneusement enclassés ; car les systèmes réglementaires s’étendent jusques-là. On les examine ; ceux qui peuvent être agents et patients, qui sont beaux, vermeils, bien faits, potelés, sont réservés pour les grands seigneurs, ou se font payer très-cher par les évêques et les financiers. Ceux qui sont privés de leurs testicules, ou en termes de l’art (car notre langue est plus chaste qui nos mœurs), qui n’ont pas le poids du tisserand, mais qui donnent et reçoivent, forment la seconde classe ; ils sont encore chers, parceque les femmes en usent tandis qu’ils servent aux hommes. Ceux qui ne sont plus susceptibles d’érection tant ils sont usés, quoiqu’ils aient tous ces organes nécessaires au plaisir, s’inscrivent comme patiens purs, et composent la troisième classe : mais celle qui préside à ces plaisirs, vérifie leur impuissance. Pour cet effet, on les place tout nus sur un matelas ouvert par la moitié inférieure ; deux filles les caressent de leur mieux, pendant qu’une troisième frappe doucement avec des orties naissantes le siège des désirs vénériens. Après un quart d’heure de cet essai, on leur introduit dans l’anus un poivre long rouge qui cause une irritation considérable ; on pose sur les échauboulures produites par les orties, de la moutarde fine de Caudebec, et l’on passe le gland au camphre. Ceux qui résistent à ces épreuves et ne donnent aucun signe d’érection, servent comme patients à un tiers de paie seulement.67

The Restoration and the Empire made the police more vigilant in matters of politics than of morals. The favourite club, which had its mot de passe, was in the Rue Doyenne, old quarter St. Thomas des Louvre; and the house was a hôtel of the xviith century. Two street-doors, on the right for the male gynæceum and the left for the female, opened at 4 p.m. in winter and 8 p.m. in summer. A decoy-lad, charmingly dressed in women’s clothes, with big haunches and small waist, promenaded outside; and this continued till 1826 when the police put down the house.

Under Louis Philippe, the conquest of Algiers had evil results, according to the Marquis de Boissy. He complained without ambages of mœurs Arabes in French regiments, and declared that the result of the African wars was an éffrayable débordement pédérastique, even as the vérole resulted from the Italian campaigns of that age of passion, the xvith century. From the military the fléau spread to civilian society and the Vice took such expansion and intensity that it may be said to have been democratised in cities and large towns; at least so we gather from the Dossier des Agissements des Pédérastes. A general gathering of “La Sainte Congrégation des glorieux Pédérastes” was held in the old Petite Rue des Marais where, after the theatre, many resorted under pretext of making water. They ranged themselves along the walls of a vast garden and exposed their podices: bourgeois, richards and nobles came with full purses, touched the part which most attracted them and were duly followed by it. At the Allée des Veuves the crowd was dangerous from 7 to 8 p.m.: no policeman or ronde de nuit dared venture in it; cords were stretched from tree to tree and armed guards drove away strangers amongst whom, they say, was once Victor Hugo. This nuisance was at length suppressed by the municipal administration.

The Empire did not improve morals. Balls of sodomites were held at No. 8 Place de la Madeleine where, on Jan. 2, ’64, some one hundred and fifty men met, all so well dressed as women that even the landlord did not recognise them. There was also a club for Sotadic debauchery called the Cent Gardes and the Dragons de l’Impératrice.68 They copied the imperial toilette and kept it in the general wardrobe: hence “faire l’Impératrice” meant to be used carnally. The site, a splendid hotel in the Allée des Veuves, was discovered by the Procureur-Général who registered all the names; but, as these belonged to not a few senators and dignitaries, the Emperor wisely quashed proceedings. The club was broken up on July 16, ’64. During the same year La Petite Revue, edited by M. Loredan Larchy, son of the General, printed an article, “Les échappés de Sodome”: it discusses the letter of M. Castagnary to the Progrès de Lyons and declares that the Vice had been adopted by plusieurs corps de troupes. For its latest developments as regards the chantage of the tantes (pathics), the reader will consult the last issues of Dr. Tardieu’s well-known Études.69 He declares that the servant class is most infected; and that the Vice is commonest between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five.

The pederasty of The Nights may briefly be distributed into three categories. The first is the funny form, as the unseemly practical joke of masterful Queen Budúr ([The Tale of Kamar al-Zaman, The 216th Night]) and the not less hardi jest of the slave-princess, Zumurrud ([The Tale of Ali Shar and Zumurrud, The 326th and 327th Nights]). The second is in the grimmest and most earnest phase of the perversion; for instance, where Abu Nowas70 debauches the three youths ([Abu Nowas with the Three Boys and the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, The 381st, 382nd and 383rd Nights]); whilst in the third form it is wisely and learnedly discussed, to be severely blamed, by the Shaykhah or Reverend Woman ([The Man’s Dispute with the Learned Woman, The 420th Night]).

To conclude this part of my subject, the éclaircissement des obscénités. Many readers will regret the absence from The Nights of that modesty which distinguishes “Amadis de Gaul;” whose author, when leaving a man and a maid together, says, “And nothing shall be here related; for these and suchlike things which are conformable neither to good conscience nor nature, man ought in reason lightly to pass over, holding them in slight esteem as they deserve.” Nor have we less respect for Palmerin of England who after a risqué scene declares, “Herein is no offence offered to the wise by wanton speeches, or encouragement to the loose by lascivious matter.” But these are not Oriental ideas, and we must e’en take the Eastern as we find him. He still holds “Naturalia non sunt turpia,” together with “Mundis omnia munda”; and, as Bacon assures us the mixture of a lie doth add to pleasure, so the Arab enjoys the startling and lively contrast of extreme virtue and horrible vice placed in juxtaposition.

Those who have read through these ten volumes will agree with me that the proportion of offensive matter bears a very small ratio to the mass of the work. In an age saturated with cant and hypocrisy, here and there a venal pen will mourn over the “Pornography” of The Nights, dwell upon the “Ethics of Dirt” and the “Garbage of the Brothel;” and will lament the “wanton dissemination (!) of ancient and filthy fiction.” This self-constituted Censor morum reads Aristophanes and Plato, Horace and Virgil, perhaps even Martial and Petronius, because “veiled in the decent obscurity of a learned language;” he allows men Latinè loqui; but he is scandalised at stumbling-blocks much less important in plain English. To be consistent he must begin by bowdlerising not only the classics, with which boys’ and youths’ minds and memories are soaked and saturated at schools and colleges, but also Boccaccio and Chaucer, Shakespeare and Rabelais; Burton, Sterne, Swift, and a long list of works which are yearly reprinted and republished without a word of protest. Lastly, why does not this inconsistent puritan purge the Old Testament of its allusions to human ordure and the pudenda; to carnal copulation and impudent whoredom, to adultery and fornication, to onanism, sodomy and bestiality? But this he will not do, the whited sepulchre! To the interested critic of the Edinburgh Review (No. 335 of July, 1886), I return my warmest thanks for his direct and deliberate falsehoods:—lies are one-legged and short-lived, and venom evaporates.71 It appears to me that when I show to such men, so “respectable” and so impure, a landscape of magnificent prospects whose vistas are adorned with every charm of nature and art, they point their unclean noses at a little heap of muck here and there lying in a field-corner.

  1. Aethiopia Orientalis, Purchas ii. 1558.
  2. Purchas iii. 243.
  3. For a literal translation see 1re Série de la Curiosité Littéraire et Bibliographique, Paris, Liseux, 1880.
  4. His best-known works are (1) Praktisches Handbuch der Gerechtlichen Medecin, Berlin, 1860; and (2) Klinische Novellen zur gerechtlichen Medecin, Berlin, 1863.
  5. The same author printed another imitation of Petronius Arbiter, the “Larissa” story of Théophile Viand. His cousin, the Sévigné, highly approved of it. See Bayle’s objections to Rabutin’s delicacy and excuses for Petronius’ grossness in his “Éclaircissement sur les obscénités” (Appendice au Dictionnaire Antique).
  6. The Boulgrin of Rabelais, which Urquhart renders Ingle for Boulgre, an “indorser,” derived from the Bulgarus or Bulgarian, who gave to Italy the term bugiardo—liar. Bougre and Bougrerie date (Littré) from the xiiith century. I cannot however, but think that the trivial term gained strength in the xvith when the manners of the Bugres or indigenous Brazilians were studied by Huguenot refugees in La France Antartique and several of these savages found their way to Europe. A grand Fête in Rouen on the entrance of Henri II. and Dame Katherine de Medicis (June 16, 1564) showed, as part of the pageant, three hundred men (including fifty “Bugres” or Tupis) with parroquets and other birds and beasts of the newly explored regions. The procession is given in the four-folding woodcut “Figure des Brésiliens” in Jean de Prest’s Edition of 1551.
  7. Erotika Biblion chapt. Kadésch (pp. 93 et seq.) Edition de Bruxelles, with notes by the Chevalier P. Pierrugues of Bordeaux, before noticed.
  8. Called Chevaliers de Paille because the sign was a straw in the mouth, à la Palmerston.
  9. I have noticed that the eunuch in Sind was as meanly paid and have given the reason.
  10. Centuria Librorum Absconditorum (by Pisanus Fraxi) 4to, p. lx. and 593. London. Privately printed, mdccclxxix.
  11. A friend learned in these matters supplies me with the following list of famous pederasts. Those who marvel at the wide diffusion of such erotic perversion, and its being affected by so many celebrities, will bear in mind that the greatest men have been some of the worst: Alexander of Macedon, Julius Cæsar and Napoleon Buonaparte held themselves high above the moral law which obliges commonplace humanity. All three are charged with the Vice. Of Kings we have Henry iii., Louis xiii., and xviii., Frederick ii. of Prussia, Peter the Great, William ii. of Holland and Charles ii. and iii. of Parma. We find also Shakespeare (i., xv., Edit. François Hugo) and Molière, Theodorus Beza, Lully (the Composer), D’Assoucy, Count Zintzendorff, the Grand Condé, Marquis de Villette, Pierre Louis Farnèse, Duc de la Vallière, De Soleinne, Count D’Avaray, Saint Mégrin, D’Epernon, Admiral de la Susse, La Roche-Pouchin Rochfort S. Louis, Henne (the Spiritualist), Comte Horace de Viel Castel, Lerminin, Fievée, Théodore Leclerc, Archi-Chancellier Cambacèrés, Marquis de Custine, Sainte-Beuve and Count D’Orsay. For others refer to the three volumes of Pisanus Fraxi; Index Librorum Prohibitorum (London, 1877), Centuria Librorum Absconditorum (before alluded to) and Catena Librorum Tacendorum, London, 1885. The indices will supply the names.
  12. Of this peculiar character Ibn Khallikan remarks (ii. 43), “There were four poets whose works clearly contraried their character. Abú al-Atahíyah wrote pious poems, himself being an atheist; Abú Hukayma’s verses proved his impotence, yet he was more salacious than a he-goat; Mohammed ibn Házim praised contentment, yet he was greedier than a dog; and Abú Nowás hymned the joys of sodomy, yet he was more passionate for women than a baboon.”
  13. A virulently and unjustly abusive critique never yet injured its object: in fact it is generally the greatest favour an author’s unfriends can bestow upon him. But to notice in a popular review books which have been printed and not published is hardly in accordance with the established courtesies of literature. At the end of my work I propose to write a paper “The Reviewer Reviewed” which will, amongst other things, explain the motif of the writer of the critique and the editor of the Edinburgh.

Retour à l’article principal Pederasty (Richard F. Burton)
Pederasty (1 — The Sotadic Zone. The ancient Greeks)
Pederasty (2 — Rome)
Pederasty (3 — Al-Islam)
Pederasty (4 — Asia. America)
Pederasty (5 — Modern Europe)

Voir aussi


  • A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights’ entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the Nights. Vol. X / by Richard F. Burton. – The Burton Club, 1886 (printed in the U.S.A.).

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