Reumont related: In Prato as well as in Pistoia there were firmly entrenched in the Dominican convents disorders of the worst kind, a mixture of pietism and physical aberrations that bordered madness, and which had been no secret to the spiritual leaders for a long time. Some sort of order was established in Pistoia, but in Prato, where most of the compromised nuns were sent, there was an outbreak at Easter in The Grand Duke led an investigation by the police commissioner, the two principal culprits were locked up at Prato, then sent to Florence for trial.
The Dominicans were forced to break all connections with the convent and were threatened with expulsion in case of disobedience. The entire affair made a grand sensation because of the vice and the fact that the nuns who were incriminated came of highly respected parents. A detailed description may be found in the biography of the Bishop of Prato, Scipione de' Ricci, by Potter.
The eighteenth century is, at least in France, the century of women. Georg Brandes rightly believes that the de Goncourts, those refined worshippers of women, felt drawn to the history of the eighteenth century, since "the influence of women was highest at that time. There is an unequalled description of the powerful influence of women in the chapter The Mastery and Intelligence of Women of the above work. Woman ruled in state, politics, and in society; her influence was felt in every field of life.
War and peace were decided by the caprice of a woman, and not by the welfare of France. And in the famous salons of Do Deffand, Necker, Lespinasse, Geoffrin, Grandval, women set the fashion in the discussions of questions of the day and scientific affairs. Here was formed the modern "cultured society. The age also showed that where the influence of women became predominant, the family broke up, love took on immoral forms, and was accompanied by a contempt for the feminine sex. Love in this age was thoroughly sensual. It had become debauchery.
Passion was recruited from the curious; the husband taught his wife all the tricks of love of a mistress. Philosophy aided in justifying debauchery and in apologizing for its shame. It should be fastened with pins. The purely physical love, which was proclaimed as the ideal by naturalism and materialism, finally appeared in woman "in all its brutality. The sexual relations followed wholly sensual purposes, and those which tried to beautify love were confined to making more pleasant and lasting the coarsest curiosities by light hindrances and by a mixture of such embellishments, which had more appeal to the mind than to the heart.
The word "gallantry" received an entirely new meaning. It signified immoral manners and conduct which only differed from the wantonness of common whores by such forms as would increase the pleasure and serve as preservation of the appearance of esteem before the public. Bernhard's famous imitation of Ovid's Art of Love preached conventional behavior in the greatest lewdness. Not much better were the "platonic loves," the " liaisons of society," the "private affairs" of that time. Love became an exciting play in which all the refinements of spiritual prostitution were essayed in order to increase the pleasure.
They prepared themselves for these pleasures by indulging in the most obscene conversations. Repeatedly de Sade mentioned in his novels how the pleasures of love were increased by conversations employing the dirtiest words and topics. This experience was taken directly from reality. Mercier tells that the great number of public whores had incited the youths to a very free speech which they used in addressing the most honorable women.
The conversation with the most respected women was seldom delicate but reveled in dirty jokes, puns and scandals. Therefrom resulted an unheard of immodesty in women.
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At thirty, woman lost the last particle of feeling of shame. There remained but "elegancy in vice," grace in debauchery.
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The woman took all the counterparts of a male libertine; her great pleasure was "to enjoy fully the shame of her calling. She described herself and her body in all details in her Autobiography ; she told of her breasts, hips, legs, etc. Shall we wonder then that de Sade had Juliette describe her own charms with a boundless cynicism Juliette IV, ?
Indeed even women from the aristocracy went so far as to seek their pleasure in bordellos.
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Conversely, it was no rarity for a prostitute to marry into polite society. In his Contemporaries , de Ia Bretonne says further: "I have indeed seen something far worse than this: a daughter of a hunchback, after she had passed through the hands of the madames, had a child, lived in the St. Here in the bordello he met Count Jean du Barry, to whose brother she was later married on her advancement to the position of the mistress of Louis XV.
Thus the nearer one approaches the time of the Revolution the more moral corruption lay hold of the women of the country. It was prepared and nourished by the famous "convulsions," that remarkable, hysterical epidemic of convulsions lasting from to and attacking mainly the lower classes.
Its center was the courtyard of the St. Medardus church. Medardus in order to participate in the trances, fits, amps, convulsions and similar ecstasies. The entire courtyard and even the neighboring streets were packed tight with girls, women, invalids of all ages, etc. One can recognize the erotism in these convulsions in that the young maidens in their "fits" "never called to women for aid, but always to men, and to young, strong men at that.
Indeed, some cried out loudly: Da liberos, alioquin moriar!
Thus vice and debauchery did not wait in abeyance; when the women in their orgasms invited the men "to use as a promenade their belly, bosom, thighs, etc. Hysteria Vapeurs was prevalent with the French women throughout the century. The hysteria libidinosa then also brought to a head notable eccentricities. Woman in the eighteenth century created what a later age designated as "sadism," and which we shall later define in a significantly broader meaning. Machiavelli was the master of love. With some women debauchery even reached satanism.
They tormented respectable women, whose virtue was offensive to them; they also dastardly and with evil joy had the objects of their hate and also their love removed. Real people gave the stamp to this society; their existence was confirmed by numerous personalities. And a respectable Dame of Grenoble, the Marquise L. The age of terror for love had broken out long before the reign of terror of the great Revolution, even before de Sade, intoxicated by the flowing blood from the guillotine, depicted in the most notable literary documents: The Terror of Love! The four greatest thinkers of France in the eighteenth century: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire and Diderot all taught contempt for women.
One has only to think of Voltaire's bitterly sarcastic expressions on his true friend Madame Du Chatelet. Woman, according to Rousseau, was created only for man's enjoyment. For Montesquieu man has power and reason, woman only gracefulness. Diderot saw in woman only an object of passion.
Marriage, as Westermarck has shown in his classical work, is that institution to which humanity owes its moral perfecting; it is the absolute moral institution.
Ulysses ()/Chapter 14 - Wikisource, the free online library
In marriage the woman is of equal rank with the man, since she completes him. Outside of the marriage the woman cannot compensate him and consequently appears inferior. We close with an almost unbelievable example of the contempt of women. Maurice, amazed at her boldness, applied for aid to the French crown. That he should have made such an application is sufficiently strange; but the result of it is hardly to be paralleled except in some eastern despotism.
The government of France, on hearing the circumstance, had the inconceivable baseness to issue an order directing Favert to abandon his wife, and entrust her to the charge of Maurice, to whose embraces she was compelled to submit Grimm, Corresp. Of course, the representation of sexual passion was an old story in French literature, and was even present in the numerous fabliaux of the middle ages; but it was not until the eighteenth century that the healthily coarse naturalism and naiveness of these older forms of erotic stories were replaced with pictures of sensuality, whose studied premeditation served as a malignant stimulus to an enervated society.
The eighteenth century produced the greater part of the pornographic literature existing today; and in the number of individual erotic works more than all the other centuries combined. The lion's share in the production of pornography falls in the period from to when only eroticism could move the public. These books made the worship of flesh their main theme. They recognized nothing but lascivious experiences and all the forms of sexual pleasure.
The bordello was a paradise, the prostitute far nobler than the most faithful wife. The bookstores were literally pornographic libraries. Everywhere these monstrosities are sold in baskets and pushcarts near the bridges, the doors of the theatres and the open streets. The poison is not expensive: ten sous a book. This center of all vice was also the principal market for the obscene writings that flooded Paris. One found these works even in the toilette rooms of Parisian ladies. Bernard has an interesting tale about this which also serves to show the enormous spread of the writings of Marquis de Sade: "A respectable lady both in age and position had written out a list of books she intended to take to the country for herself and children and asked me to procure them for her.
On the list was Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue , which she thought was a pedagogical work! Napoleon I ordered all such books found in the possession of prostitutes to be seized and destroyed; only one example of each to be saved for the National Library where they we still preserved in a special corner of the building.
De Sade forever talked of obscene books. Juliette and Clairwil ransacked the dwelling of a Carmelite monk, Claude, and found a select library of pornography. Juliette said: "You have no idea what obscene books and pictures we found there!
Finally, The Philosopher Therese , the enchanting book of Marquis d'Argens with pictures by Caylus, the only one of the four books that combined vice and atheism. We present as an orientation a short survey of the most important French erotica of the eighteenth century. For a complete list die student is referred to Gay's Bibliography of Erotica six volumes.