Studies in the psychology of sex, volume 2 by Havelock Ellis. - HTML preview

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Klaatsch in 1906 that at Boulia in Queensland the operated men are said to

"possess a vulva."[41]

These various accounts are of considerable interest, though for the most

part their precise significance remains doubtful. Some of them,

however,--such as Holder's description of the _boté_, Baumann's account of

homosexual phenomena in Zanzibar, and especially Seligmann's observations

in British New Guinea,--indicate not only the presence of esthetic

inversion but of true congenital sexual inversion. The extent of the

evidence will doubtless be greatly enlarged as the number of competent

observers increases, and crucial points are no longer so frequently


On the whole, the evidence shows that among lower races homosexual

practices are regarded with considerable indifference, and the real

invert, if he exists among them, as doubtless he does exist, generally

passes unperceived or joins some sacred caste which sanctifies his

exclusively homosexual inclinations.

Even in Europe today a considerable lack of repugnance to homosexual

practices may be found among the lower classes. In this matter, as

folklore shows in so many other matters, the uncultured man of

civilization is linked to the savage. In England, I am told, the soldier

often has little or no objection to prostitute himself to the "swell" who

pays him, although for pleasure he prefers to go to women; and Hyde Park

is spoken of as a center of male prostitution.

"Among the working masses of England and Scotland,"

Q. writes,

"'comradeship' is well marked, though not (as in Italy) very

conscious of itself. Friends often kiss each other, though this

habit seems to vary a good deal in different sections and

coteries. Men commonly sleep together, whether comrades or not,

and so easily get familiar. Occasionally, but not so very often,

this relation delays for a time, or even indefinitely, actual

marriage, and in some instances is highly passionate and

romantic. There is a good deal of grossness, no doubt, here and

there in this direction among the masses; but there are no male

prostitutes (that I am aware of) whose regular clients are manual

workers. This kind of prostitution in London is common enough,

but I have only a slight personal knowledge of it.

Many youths

are 'kept' handsomely in apartments by wealthy men, and they are,

of course, not always inaccessible to others. Many keep

themselves in lodgings by this means, and others eke out scanty

wages by the same device: just like women, in fact.


reinforce the ranks to a considerable extent, and private

soldiers to a large extent. Some of the barracks (notably

Knightsbridge) are great centres. On summer evenings Hyde Park

and the neighborhood of Albert Gate is full of guardsmen and

others plying a lively trade, and with little disguise, in

uniform or out. In these cases it sometimes only amounts to a

chat on a retired seat or a drink at a bar; sometimes recourse is

had to a room in some known lodging-house, or to one or two

hotels which lend themselves to this kind of business. In any

case it means a covetable addition to Tommy Atkins's pocket-money." And Mr. Raffalovich, speaking of London, remarks:

"The number of soldiers who prostitute themselves is greater than

we are willing to believe. It is no exaggeration to say that in

certain regiments the presumption is in favor of the venality of

the majority of the men." It is worth noting that there is a

perfect understanding in this matter between soldiers and the

police, who may always be relied upon by the former for

assistance and advice. I am indebted to my correspondent "Z" for

the following notes: "Soldiers are no less sought after in France

than in England or in Germany, and special houses exist for

military prostitution both in Paris and the garrison-towns. Many

facts known about the French army go to prove that these habits

have been contracted in Algeria, and have spread to a formidable

extent through whole regiments. The facts related by Ulrichs

about the French foreign legion, on the testimony of a credible

witness who had been a pathic in his regiment, deserve attention

(_Ara Spei_, p. 20; _Memnon_, p. 27). This man, who was a German,

told Ulrichs that the Spanish, French, and Italian soldiers were

the lovers, the Swiss and German their beloved (see also General

Brossier's Report, quoted by Burton, _Arabian Nights_, vol. x, p.

251). In Lucien Descaves's military novel, _Sous Offs_ (Paris,

Tresse et Stock, 1890), some details are given regarding

establishments for male prostitution. See pages 322, 412, and 417

for description of the drinking-shop called 'Aux Amis de

l'Armée,' where a few maids were kept for show, and also of its

frequenters, including, in particular, the Adjutant Laprévotte.

Ulrichs reports that in the Austrian army lectures on homosexual

vices are regularly given to cadets and conscripts (_Memnon_, p.

26). A soldier who had left the army told a friend of mine that

he and many of his comrades had taken to homosexual indulgences

when abroad on foreign service in a lonely station.

He kept the

practice up in England 'because the women of his class were so

unattractive.' The captain of an English man-of-war said that he

was always glad to send his men on shore after a long cruise at

sea, never feeling sure how far they might not all go if left

without women for a certain space of time." I may add that A.

Hamon (_La France Sociale et Politique_, 1891, pp.

653-55; also

in his _Psychologie du Militaire Professional_, chapter x) gives

details as to the prevalence of homosexuality in the French army,

especially in Algeria; he regards it as extremely common,

although the majority are free. A fragment of a letter by General

Lamoricière (speaking of Marshal Changarnier) is quoted: _En

Afrique nous en étions tous, mais lui en est resté ici_.

This primitive indifference is doubtless also a factor in the prevalence

of homosexuality among criminals, although, here, it must be remembered,

two other factors (congenital abnormality and the isolation of

imprisonment) have to be considered. In Russia, Tarnowsky observes that

all pederasts are agreed that the common people are tolerably indifferent

to their sexual advances, which they call "gentlemen's games." A

correspondent remarks on "the fact, patent to all observers, that simple

folk not infrequently display no greater disgust for the abnormalities of

sexual appetite than they do for its normal manifestations."[42] He knows

of many cases in which men of lower class were flattered and pleased by

the attentions of men of higher class, although not themselves inverted.

And from this point of view the following case, which he mentions, is very


A pervert whom I can trust told me that he had made advances to

upward of one hundred men in the course of the last fourteen

years, and that he had only once met with a refusal (in which

case the man later on offered himself spontaneously) and only

once with an attempt to extort money. Permanent relations of

friendship sprang up in most instances. He admitted that he

looked after these persons and helped them with his social

influence and a certain amount of pecuniary support-

-setting one

up in business, giving another something to marry on, and finding

places for others.

Among the peasantry in Switzerland, I am informed, homosexual

relationships are not uncommon before marriage, and such relationships are

lightly spoken of as "Dummheiten". No doubt, similar traits might be found

in the peasantry of other parts of Europe.

What may be regarded as true sexual inversion can be traced in Europe from

the beginning of the Christian era (though we can scarcely demonstrate the

congenital element) especially among two classes--men of exceptional

ability and criminals; and also, it may be added, among those neurotic and

degenerate individuals who may be said to lie between these two classes,

and on or over the borders of both. Homosexuality, mingled with various

other sexual abnormalities and excesses, seems to have flourished in Rome

during the empire, and is well exemplified in the persons of many of the

emperors.[43] Julius Cæsar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero,

Galba, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Commodus, and

Heliogabalus--many of them men of great ability and, from a Roman

standpoint, great moral worth--are all charged, on more or less solid

evidence, with homosexual practices. In Julius Cæsar--

"the husband of all

women and the wife of all men" as he was satirically termed--excess of

sexual activity seems to have accompanied, as is sometimes seen, an excess

of intellectual activity. He was first accused of homosexual practices

after a long stay in Bithynia with King Nikomedes, and the charge was

very often renewed. Cæsar was proud of his physical beauty, and, like

some modern inverts, he was accustomed carefully to shave and epilate his

body to preserve the smoothness of the skin. Hadrian's love for his

beautiful slave Antinoüs is well known; the love seems to have been deep

and mutual, and Antinoüs has become immortalized, partly by the romance of

his obscure death and partly by the new and strangely beautiful type which

he has given to sculpture.[44] Heliogabalus, "the most homosexual of all

the company," as he has been termed, seems to have been a true sexual

invert, of feminine type; he dressed as a woman and was devoted to the men

he loved.[45]

Homosexual practices everywhere flourish and abound in prisons. There is

abundant evidence on this point. I will only bring forward the evidence of

Dr. Wey, formerly physician to the Elmira Reformatory, New York.

"Sexuality" (he wrote in a private letter) "is one of the most troublesome

elements with which we have to contend. I have no data as to the number of

prisoners here who are sexually perverse. In my pessimistic moments I

should feel like saying that all were; but probably 80

per cent, would be

a fair estimate." And, referring to the sexual influence which some men

have over others, he remarks that "there are many men with features

suggestive of femininity that attract others to them in a way that reminds

me of a bitch in heat followed by a pack of dogs."[46]

In Sing Sing prison

of New York, 20 per cent, of the prisoners are said to be actively

homosexual and a large number of the rest passively homosexual. These

prison relationships are not always of a brutal character, McMurtrie

states, the attraction sometimes being more spiritual than physical.[47]

Prison life develops and fosters the homosexual tendency of criminals; but

there can be little doubt that that tendency, or else a tendency to sexual

indifference or bisexuality, is a radical character of a very large number

of criminals. We may also find it to a considerable extent among tramps,

an allied class of undoubted degenerates, who, save for brief seasons, are

less familiar with prison life. I am able to bring forward interesting

evidence on this point by an acute observer who lived much among tramps in

various countries, and largely devoted himself to the study of them.[48]

The fact that homosexuality is especially common among men of exceptional

intellect was long since noted by Dante:--

"In somma sappi, che tutti fur cherci E litterati grandi, et di gran fama

D'un medismo peccato al mondo lerci."[49]

It has often been noted since and remains a remarkable fact.

There cannot be the slightest doubt that intellectual and

artistic abilities of the highest order have frequently been

associated with a congenitally inverted sexual temperament. There

has been a tendency among inverts themselves to discover their

own temperament in many distinguished persons on evidence of the

most slender character. But it remains a demonstrable fact that

numerous highly distinguished persons, of the past and the

present, in various countries, have been inverts. I may here

refer to my own observations on this point in the preface.

Mantegazza (_Gli Amori degli Uomini_) remarks that in his own

restricted circle he is acquainted with "a French publicist, a

German poet, an Italian statesman, and a Spanish jurist, all men

of exquisite taste and highly cultivated mind," who are sexually

inverted. Krafft-Ebing, in the preface to his _Psychopathia

Sexualis_, referring to the "numberless"

communications he has

received from these "step-children of nature,"

remarks that "the

majority of the writers are men of high intellectual and social

position, and often possess very keen emotions."


(_Uranisme_, p. 197) names among distinguished inverts, Alexander

the Great, Epaminondas, Virgil, the great Condé, Prince Eugène,

etc. (The question of Virgil's inversion is discussed in the

_Revista di Filologia_, 1890, fas. 7-9, but I have not been able

to see this review.) Moll, in his _Berühmte Homosexuelle_ (1910,

in the series of _Grenzfragen des Nerven- und Seelenlebens_)

discusses the homosexuality of a number of eminent persons, for

the most part with his usual caution and sagacity; speaking of

the alleged homosexuality of Wagner he remarks, with entire

truth, that "the method of arguing the existence of homosexuality

from the presence of feminine traits must be decisively

rejected." Hirschfeld has more recently included in his great

work _Die Homosexualität_ (1913, pp. 650-674) two lists, ancient

and modern, of alleged inverts among the distinguished persons of

history, briefly stating the nature of the evidence in each case.

They amount to nearly 300. Not all of them, however, can be

properly described as distinguished. Thus we end in the list 43

English names; of these at least half a dozen were noblemen who

were concerned in homosexual prosecutions, but were of no

intellectual distinction. Others, again, are of undoubted

eminence, but there is no good reason to regard them as

homosexual; this is the case, for instance, as regards Swift, who

may have been mentally abnormal, but appears to have been

heterosexual rather than homosexual; Fletcher, of whom we know

nothing definite in this respect, is also included, as well as

Tennyson, whose youthful sentimental friendship for Arthur Hallam

is exactly comparable to that of Montaigne for Etienne de la

Boëtie, yet Montaigne is not included in the list.

It may be

added, however, that while some of the English names in the list

are thus extremely doubtful, it would have been possible to add

some others who were without doubt inverts.

It has not, I think, been noted--largely because the evidence was

insufficiently clear--that among moral leaders, and persons with strong

ethical instincts, there is a tendency toward the more elevated forms of

homosexual feeling. This may be traced, not only in some of the great

moral teachers of old, but also in men and women of our own day. It is

fairly evident why this should be so. Just as the repressed love of a

woman or a man has, in normally constituted persons, frequently furnished

the motive power for an enlarged philanthropic activity, so the person

who sees his own sex also bathed in sexual glamour, brings to his work of

human service an ardor wholly unknown to the normally constituted

individual; morality to him has become one with love.[50] I am not

prepared here to insist on this point, but no one, I think, who studies

sympathetically the histories and experiences of great moral leaders can

fail in many cases to note the presence of this feeling, more or less

finely sublimated from any gross physical manifestation.

If it is probable that in moral movements persons of homosexual

temperament have sometimes become prominent, it is undoubtedly true,

beyond possibility of doubt, that they have been prominent in religion.

Many years ago (in 1885) the ethnologist, Elie Reclus, in his charming

book, _Les Primitifs_,[51] setting forth the phenomena of homosexuality

among the Eskimo Innuit tribe, clearly insisted that from time immemorial

there has been a connection between the invert and the priest, and showed

how well this connection is illustrated by the Eskimo _schupans_. Much

more recently, in his elaborate study of the priest, Horneffer discusses

the feminine traits of priests and shows that, among the most various

peoples, persons of sexually abnormal and especially homosexual

temperament have assumed the functions of priesthood. To the popular eye

the unnatural is the supernatural, and the abnormal has appeared to be

specially close to the secret Power of the World.

Abnormal persons are

themselves of the same opinion and regard themselves as divine. As

Horneffer points out, they often really possess special aptitude.[52]

Karsch in his _Gleichgeschlechtliche Leben der Naturvölker_ (1911) has

brought out the high religious as well as social significance of castes of

cross-dressed and often homosexual persons among primitive peoples. At the

same time Edward Carpenter in his remarkable book, _Intermediate Types

among Primitive Folk_ (1914), has shown with much insight how it comes

about that there is an organic connection between the homosexual

temperament and unusual psychic or divinatory powers.

Homosexual men were

non-warlike and homosexual women non-domestic, so that their energies

sought different outlets from those of ordinary men and women; they became

the initiators of new activities. Thus it is that from among them would in

some degree issue not only inventors and craftsmen and teachers, but

sorcerers and diviners, medicine-men and wizards, prophets and priests.

Such persons would be especially impelled to thought, because they would

realize that they were different from other people; treated with reverence

by some and with contempt by others, they would be compelled to face the

problems of their own nature and, indirectly, the problems of the world

generally. Moreover, Carpenter points out, persons in whom the masculine

and feminine temperaments were combined would in many cases be persons of

intuition and complex mind beyond their fellows, and so able to exercise

divination and prophecy in a very real and natural sense.[53]

This aptitude of the invert for primitive religion, for sorcery and

divination, would have its reaction on popular feeling, more especially

when magic and the primitive forms of religion began to fall into

disrepute. The invert would be regarded as the sorcerer of a false and

evil religion and be submerged in the same ignominy.

This point has been

emphasized by Westermarck in the instructive chapter on homosexuality in

his great work on Moral Ideas.[54] He points out the significance of the

fact, at the first glance apparently inexplicable, that homosexuality in

the general opinion of medieval Christianity was constantly associated,

even confounded, with heresy, as we see significantly illustrated by the

fact that in France and England the popular designation for homosexuality

is derived from the Bulgarian heretics. It was, Westermarck believes,

chiefly as a heresy and out of religious zeal that homosexuality was so

violently reprobated and so ferociously punished.

In modern Europe we find the strongest evidence of the presence of what

may fairly be called true sexual inversion when we investigate the men of

the Renaissance. The intellectual independence of those days and the

influence of antiquity seem to have liberated and fully developed the

impulses of those abnormal individuals who would otherwise have found no

clear expression, and passed unnoticed.[55]

Muret, the Humanist, may perhaps be regarded as a typical example of the

nature and fate of the superior invert of the Renaissance. Born in 1526 at

Muret (Limousin), of poor but noble family, he was of independent,

somewhat capricious character, unable to endure professors, and

consequently he was mainly his own teacher, though he often sought advice

from Jules-César Scaliger. Muret was universally admired in his day for

his learning and his eloquence, and is still regarded not only as a great

Latinist and a fine writer, but as a notable man, of high intelligence,

and remarkable, moreover, for courtesy in polemics in an age when that

quality was not too common. His portrait shows a somewhat coarse and

rustic but intelligent face. He conquered honor and respect before he died

in 1585, at the age of 59. In early life Muret wrote wanton erotic poems

to women which seem based on personal experience. But in 1553 we find him

imprisoned in the Châtelet for sodomy and in danger of his life, so that

he thought of starving himself to death. Friends, however, obtained his

release and he settled in Toulouse. But the very next year he was burnt in

effigy in Toulouse, as a Huguenot and sodomist, this being the result of a

judicial sentence which had caused him to flee from the city and from

France. Four years later he had to flee from Padua owing to a similar

accusation. He had many friends but none of them protested against the

charge, though they aided him to escape from the penalty. It is very

doubtful whether he was a Huguenot, and whenever in his works he refers to

pederasty it is with strong disapproval. But his writings reveal

passionate friendship for men, and he seems to have expended little energy

in combating a charge which, if false, was a shameful injustice to him. It

was after fleeing into Italy and falling ill of a fever from fatigue and

exposure that Muret is said to have made the famous retort (to the

physician by his bedside who had said: "Faciamus experimentum in anima

vili"): "Vilem animam appellas pro qua Christus non dedignatus est


A greater Humanist than Muret, Erasmus himself, seems as a young man, when

in the Augustinian monastery of Stein, to have had a homosexual attraction

to another Brother (afterward Prior) to whom he addressed many

passionately affectionate letters; his affection seems, however, to have

been unrequited.[57]

As the Renaissance developed, homosexuality seems to become more prominent

among distinguished persons. Poliziano was accused of pederasty. Aretino

was a pederast, as Pope Julius II seems also to have been. Ariosto wrote

in his satires, no doubt too extremely:--

"Senza quel vizio son pochi umanisti."[58]

Tasso had a homosexual strain in his nature, but he was of weak and

feminine constitution, sensitively emotional and physically frail.[59]

It is, however, among artists, at that time and later, that homosexuality

may most notably be traced. Leonardo da Vinci, whose ideals as revealed in

his work are so strangely bisexual, lay under homosexual suspicion in his

youth. In 1476, when he was 24 years of age, charges were made against him

before the Florentine officials for the control of public morality, and

were repeated, though they do not appear to have been substantiated. There

is, however, some ground for supposing that Leonardo was imprisoned in his

youth.[60] Throughout life he loved to surround himself with beautiful

youths and his pupils were more remarkable for their attractive appearance

than for their skill; to one at least of them he was strongly attached,

while there is no record of any attachment to a woman.

Freud, who has

studied Leonardo with his usual subtlety, considers that his temperament

was marked by "ideal homosexuality."[61]

Michelangelo, one of the very chief artists of the Renaissance period, we

cannot now doubt, was sexually inverted. The evidence furnished by his own

letters and poems, as well as the researches of numerous recent

workers,--Parlagreco, Scheffler, J.A. Symonds, etc.,--

may be said to have

placed this beyond question.[62] He belonged to a family of 5 brothers, 4

of whom never married, and so far as is known left no offspring; the fifth

only left 1 male heir. His biographer describes Michelangelo as "a man of

peculiar, not altogether healthy, nervous temperament."

He was indifferent

to women; only in one case, indeed, during his long life is there evidence

even of friendship with a woman, while he was very sensitive to the beauty

of men, and his friendships were very tender and enthusiastic. At the

same time there is no reason to suppose that he formed any physically

passionate relationships with men, and even his enemies seldom or never

made this accusation against him. We may probably accept the estimate of

his character given by Symonds:--

Michelangelo Buonarotti was one of those exceptional, but not

uncommon men who are born with sensibilities abnormally deflected

from the ordinary channel. He showed no partiality for women, and

a notable enthusiasm for the beauty of young men....

He was a man

of physically frigid temperament, extremely sensitive to beauty

of the male type, who habitually philosophized his emotions, and

contemplated the living objects of his admiration as amiable, not

only for their personal qualities, but also for their esthetical


A temperament of this kind seems to have had no significance for the men

of those days; they were blind to all homosexual emotion which had no

result in sodomy. Plato found such attraction a subject for sentimental

metaphysics, but it was not until nearly our own time that it again became

a subject of interest and study. Yet it undoubtedly had profound influence

on Michelangelo's art, impelling him to find every kind of human beauty in

the male form, and only a grave dignity or tenderness, divorced from every

quality that is sexually desirable, in the female form.

This deeply rooted

abnormality is at once the key to the melancholy of Michelangelo and to

the mystery of his art.

Michelangelo's contemporary, the painter Bazzi (1477-1549), seems also to

have been radically inverted, and to this fact he owed his nickname

Sodoma. As, however, he was married and had children, it may be that he

was, as we should now say, of bisexual temperament. He was a great artist

who has been dealt with unjustly, partly, perhaps, because of the

prejudice of Vasari,--whose admiration for Michelangelo amounted to

worship, but who is contemptuous toward Sodoma and grudging of

praise,--partly because his work is little known out of Italy and not

very easy of access there. Reckless, unbalanced, and eccentric in his

life, Sodoma revealed in his painting a peculiar feminine softness and

warmth--which indeed we seem to see also in his portrait of himself at

Monte Oliveto Maggiore--and a very marked and tender feeling for

masculine, but scarcely virile, beauty.[64]

Cellini was probably homosexual. He was imprisoned on a charge of

unnatural vice and is himself suspiciously silent in his autobiography

concerning this imprisonment.[65]

In the seventeenth century another notable sculptor who has been termed

the Flemish Cellini, Jérôme Duquesnoy (whose still more distinguished

brother François executed the Manneken Pis in Brussels), was an invert;

having finally been accused of sexual relations with a youth in a chapel

of the Ghent Cathedral, where he was executing a monument for the bishop,

he was strangled and burned, notwithstanding that much influence,

including that of the bishop, was brought to bear in his behalf.[66]

In more recent times Winkelmann, who was the initiator of a new Greek

Renaissance and of the modern appreciation of ancient art, lies under what

seems to be a well-grounded suspicion of sexual inversion. His letters to

male friends are full of the most passionate expressions of love. His

violent death also appears to have been due to a love-adventure with a

man. The murderer was a cook, a wholly uncultivated man, a criminal who

had already been condemned to death, and shortly before murdering

Winkelmann for the sake of plunder he was found to be on very intimate

terms with him.[67] It is noteworthy that sexual inversion should so often

be found associated with the study of antiquity. It must not, however, be

too hastily concluded that this is due to suggestion and that to abolish

the study of Greek literature and art would be largely to abolish sexual

inversion. What has really occurred in those recent cases that may be

studied, and therefore without doubt in the older cases, is that the

subject of congenital sexual inversion is attracted to the study of Greek

antiquity because he finds there the explanation and the apotheosis of his

own obscure impulses. Undoubtedly that study tends to develop these


While it is peculiarly easy to name men of distinguished ability who,

either certainly or in all probability, have been affected by homosexual

tendencies, they are not isolated manifestations. They spring out of an

element of diffused homosexuality which is at least as marked in

civilization as it is in savagery. It is easy to find illustrations in

every country. Here it may suffice to refer to France, Germany, and


In France in the thirteenth century the Church was so impressed by the

prevalence of homosexuality that it reasserted the death penalty for

sodomy at the Councils of Paris (1212) and Rouen (1214), while we are told

that even by rejecting a woman's advances (as illustrated in Marie de

France's _Lai de Lanval_) a man fell under suspicion as a sodomist, which

was also held to involve heresy.[68] At the end of this century (about

1294) Alain de Lille was impelled to write a book, _De Planctu Naturæ_, in

order to call attention to the prevalence of homosexual feeling; he also

associated the neglect of women with sodomy. "Man is made woman," he

writes; "he blackens the honor of his sex, the craft of magic Venus makes

him of double gender"; nobly beautiful youths have

"turned their hammers

of love to the office of anvils," and "many kisses lie untouched on maiden

lips." The result is that "the natural anvils," that is to say the

neglected maidens, "bewail the absence of their hammers and are seen sadly

to demand them." Alain de Lille makes himself the voice of this


A few years later, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, sodomy was

still regarded as very prevalent. At that time it was especially

associated with the Templars who, it has been supposed, brought it from

the East. Such a supposition, however, is not required to account for the

existence of homosexuality in France. Nor is it necessary, at a somewhat

later period, to invoke, as is frequently done, the Italian origin of

Catherine de Medici, in order to explain the prevalence of homosexual

practices at her court.

Notwithstanding its prevalence, sodomy was still severely punished from

time to time. Thus in 1586, Dadon, who had formerly been Rector of the

University of Paris, was hanged and then burned for injuring a child

through sodomy.[70] In the seventeenth century, homosexuality continued,

however, to flourish, and it is said that nearly all the numerous

omissions made in the published editions of Tallement des Reaux's

_Historiettes_ refer to sodomy.[71]

How prominent homosexuality was, in the early eighteenth century in

France, we learn from the frequent references to it in the letters of

Madame, the mother of the Regent, whose husband was himself effeminate and

probably inverted.[72] For the later years of the century the evidence

abounds on every hand. At this time the Bastille was performing a useful

function, until recently overlooked by historians, as an _asile de sureté_

for abnormal persons whom it was considered unsafe to leave at large.

Inverts whose conduct became too offensive to be tolerated were frequently

placed in the Bastille which, indeed "abounded in homosexual subjects," to

a greater extent than any other class of sexual perverts. Some of the

affairs which led to the Bastille have a modern air. One such case on a

large scale occurred in 1702, and reveals an organized system of

homosexual prostitution; one of the persons involved in this affair was a

handsome, well-made youth named Lebel, formerly a lackey, but passing

himself off as a man of quality. Seduced at the age of 10 by a famous

sodomist named Duplessis, he had since been at the disposition of a number

of homosexual persons, including officers, priests, and marquises. Some of

the persons involved in these affairs were burned alive; some cut their

own throats; others again were set at liberty or transferred to the

Bicêtre.[73] During the latter part of the eighteenth century, also, we

find another modern homosexual practice recognized in France; the

rendezvous or center where homosexual persons could quietly meet each


Inversion has always been easy to trace in Germany.

Ammianus Marcellinus

bears witness to its prevalence among some German tribes in later Roman

days.[75] In mediæval times, as Schultz points out, references to sodomy

in Germany were far from uncommon. Various princes of the German Imperial

house, and of other princely families in the Middle Ages, were noted for

their intimate friendships. At a later date, attention has frequently been

called to the extreme emotional warmth which has often marked German

friendship, even when there has been no suspicion of any true homosexual

relationship.[76] The eighteenth century, in the full enjoyment of that

abandonment to sentiment initiated by Rousseau, proved peculiarly

favorable to the expansion of the tendency to sentimental friendship. On

this basis a really inverted tendency, when it existed, could easily come

to the surface and find expression. We find this well illustrated in the

poet Heinrich von Kleist who seems to have been of bisexual temperament,

and his feelings for the girl he wished to marry were, indeed, much cooler

than those for his friend. To this friend, Ernst von Pfuël (afterward

Prussian war minister), Kleist wrote in 1805 at the age of 28: "You bring

the days of the Greeks back to me; I could sleep with you, dear youth, my

whole soul so embraces you. When you used to bathe in the Lake of Thun I

would gaze with the real feelings of a girl at your beautiful body. It

would serve an artist to study from." There follows an enthusiastic

account of his friend's beauty and of the Greek "idea of the love of

youths," and Kleist concludes: "Go with me to Anspach, and let us enjoy

the sweets of friendship.... I shall never marry; you must be wife and

children to me."[77]

In all social classes and in all fields of activity, Germany during the

nineteenth century produced a long series of famous or notorious

homosexual persons. At the one end we find people of the highest

intellectual distinction, such as Alexander von Humboldt, whom Näcke, a

cautious investigator, stated that he had good ground for regarding as an

invert.[78] At the other end we find prosperous commercial and

manufacturing people who leave Germany to find solace in the free and

congenial homosexual atmosphere of Capri; of these F.A.

Krupp, the head of

the famous Essen factory, may be regarded as the type.[79]

In England (and the same is true today of the United States), although

homosexuality has been less openly manifest and less thoroughly explored,

it is doubtful whether it has been less prevalent than in Germany. At an

early period, indeed, the evidence may even seem to show that it was more

prevalent. In the Penitentials of the ninth and tenth centuries "natural

fornication and sodomy" were frequently put together and the same penance

assigned to both; it was recognized that priests and bishops, as well as

laymen, might fall into this sin, though to the bishop nearly three times

as much penance was assigned as to the layman. Among the Normans,

everywhere, homosexuality was markedly prevalent; the spread of sodomy in

France about the eleventh century is attributed to the Normans, and their

coming seems to have rendered it at times almost fashionable, at all

events at court. In England William Rufus was undoubtedly inverted, as

later on were Edward II, James I, and, perhaps, though not in so

conspicuous a degree, William III.[80]

Ordericus Vitalis, who was himself half Norman and half English, says that

the Normans had become very effeminate in his time, and that after the

death of William the Conqueror sodomy was common both in England and

Normandy. Guillaume de Nangis, in his chronicle for about 1120, speaking

of the two sons of Henry and the company of young nobles who went down

with them, in the _White Ship_, states that nearly all were considered to

be sodomists, and Henry of Huntingdon, in his _History_, looked upon the

loss of the _White Ship_ as a judgment of heaven upon sodomy. Anselm, in

writing to Archdeacon William to inform him concerning the recent Council

at London (1102), gives advice as to how to deal with people who have

committed the sin of sodomy, and instructs him not to be too harsh with

those who have not realized its gravity, for hitherto

"this sin has been

so public that hardly anyone has blushed for it, and many, therefore, have

plunged into it without realizing its gravity."[81] So temperate a remark

by a man of such unquestionably high character is more significant of the

prevalence of homosexuality than much denunciation.

In religious circles far from courts and cities, as we might expect,

homosexuality was regarded with great horror, though even here we may

discover evidence of its wide prevalence. Thus in the remarkable

_Revelation_ of the Monk of Evesham, written in English in 1196, we find

that in the very worst part of Purgatory are confined an innumerable

company of sodomists (including a wealthy, witty, and learned divine, a

doctor of laws, personally known to the Monk), and whether these people

would ever be delivered from Purgatory was a matter of doubt; of the

salvation of no other sinners does the Monk of Evesham seem so dubious.

Sodomy had always been an ecclesiastical offense. The Statute of 1533 (25

Henry VIII, c. 6) made it a felony; and Pollock and Maitland consider that

this "affords an almost sufficient proof that the temporal courts had not

punished it, and that no one had been put to death for it, for a very long

time past."[82] The temporal law has never, however, proved very

successful in repressing homosexuality. At this period the Renaissance

movement was reaching England, and here as elsewhere it brought with it,

if not an increase, at all events a rehabilitation and often an

idealization of homosexuality.[83]

An eminent humanist and notable pioneer in dramatic literature, Nicholas

Udall, to whom is attributed _Ralph Roister Doister_, the first English

comedy, stands out as unquestionably addicted to homosexual tastes,

although he has left no literary evidence of this tendency. He was an

early adherent of the Protestant movement, and when head-master of Eton he

was noted for his love of inflicting corporal punishment on the boys.

Tusser says he once received from Udall 53 stripes for

"fault but small or

none at all." Here there was evidently a sexual sadistic impulse, for in

1541 (the year of _Ralph Roister Doister_) Udall was charged with

unnatural crime and confessed his guilt before the Privy Council. He was

dismissed from the head-mastership and imprisoned, but only for a short

time, "and his reputation," his modern biographer states, "was not

permanently injured." He retained the vicarage of Braintree, and was much

favored by Edward VI, who nominated him to a prebend of Windsor. Queen

Mary was also favorable and he became head-master of Westminster


An Elizabethan lyrical poet of high quality, whose work has had the honor

of being confused with Shakespeare's, Richard Barnfield, appears to have

possessed the temperament, at least, of the invert. His poems to male

friends are of so impassioned a character that they aroused the protests

of a very tolerant age. Very little is known of Barnfield's life. Born in

1574 he published his first poem, _The Affectionate Shepherd_, at the age

of 20, while still at the University. It was issued anonymously, revealed

much fresh poetic feeling and literary skill, and is addressed to a youth

of whom the poet declares:--

"If it be sin to love a lovely lad, Oh then sin I."

In his subsequent volume, _Cynthia_ (1595), Barnfield disclaims any

intention in the earlier poem beyond that of imitating Virgil's second

eclogue. But the sonnets in this second volume are even more definitely

homosexual than the earlier poem, though he goes on to tell how at last he

found a lass whose beauty surpassed that

"of the swain

Whom I never could obtain."

After the age of 31 Barnfield wrote no more, but, being in easy

circumstances, retired to his beautiful manor house and country estate in

Shropshire, lived there for twenty years and died leaving a wife and

son.[85] It seems probable that he was of bisexual temperament, and that,

as not infrequently happens in such cases, the homosexual element

developed early under the influence of a classical education and

university associations, while the normal heterosexual element developed

later and, as may happen in bisexual persons, was associated with the more

commonplace and prosaic side of life. Barnfield was only a genuine poet on

the homosexual side of his nature.

Greater men of that age than Barnfield may be suspected of homosexual

tendencies. Marlowe, whose most powerful drama, _Edward II_, is devoted to

a picture of the relations between that king and his minions, is himself

suspected of homosexuality. An ignorant informer brought certain charges

of freethought and criminality against him, and further accused him of

asserting that they are fools who love not boys. These charges have

doubtless been colored by the vulgar channel through which they passed,

but it seems absolutely impossible to regard them as the inventions of a

mere gallows-bird such as this informer was.[86]

Moreover, Marlowe's

poetic work, while it shows him by no means insensitive to the beauty of

women, also reveals a special and peculiar sensitiveness to masculine

beauty. Marlowe clearly had a reckless delight in all things unlawful, and

it seems probable that he possessed the bisexual temperament. Shakespeare

has also been discussed from this point of view. All that can be said,

however, is that he addressed a long series of sonnets to a youthful male

friend. These sonnets are written in lover's language of a very tender and

noble order. They do not appear to imply any relationship that the writer

regarded as shameful or that would be so regarded by the world. Moreover,

they seem to represent but a single episode in the life of a very

sensitive, many-sided nature.[87] There is no other evidence in

Shakespeare's work of homosexual instinct such as we may trace throughout

Marlowe's, while there is abundant evidence of a constant preoccupation

with women.

While Shakespeare thus narrowly escapes inclusion in the list of

distinguished inverts, there is much better ground for the inclusion of

his great contemporary, Francis Bacon. Aubrey in his laboriously compiled

_Short Lives_, in which he shows a friendly and admiring attitude toward

Bacon, definitely states that he was a pederast. Aubrey was only a careful

gleaner of frequently authentic gossip, but a similar statement is made by

Sir Simonds D'Ewes in his _Autobiography_. D'Ewes, whose family belonged

to the same part of Suffolk as Bacon's sprang from, was not friendly to

Bacon, but that fact will not suffice to account for his statement. He was

an upright and honorable man of scholarly habits, and, moreover, a trained

lawyer, who had many opportunities of obtaining first-hand information,

for he had lived in the Chancery office from childhood.

He is very precise

as to Bacon's homosexual practices with his own servants, both before and

after his fall, and even gives the name of a "very effeminate-faced youth"

who was his "catamite and bedfellow"; he states, further, that there had

been some question of bringing Bacon to trial for sodomy. These

allegations may be supported by a letter of Bacon's own mother (printed in

Spedding's _Life of Bacon_), reproving him on account of what she had

heard concerning his behavior with the young Welshmen in his service whom

he made his bedfellows. It is notable that Bacon seems to have been

specially attracted to Welshmen (one might even find evidence of this in

the life of the Welshman, Henry VII), a people of vivacious temperament

unlike his own; this is illustrated by his long and intimate friendship

with the mercurial Sir Toby Mathew, his "alter ego," a man of dissipated

habits in early life, though we are not told that he was homosexual. Bacon

had many friendships with men, but there is no evidence that he was ever

in love or cherished any affectionate intimacy with a woman. Women play no

part at all in his life. His marriage, which was childless, took place at

the mature age of 46; it was effected in a business-like manner, and

though he always treated his wife with formal consideration it is probable

that he neglected her, and certain that he failed to secure her devotion;

it is clear that toward the end of Bacon's life she formed a relationship

with her gentleman usher, whom subsequently she married.

Bacon's writings,

it may be added, equally with his letters, show no evidence of love or

attraction to women; in his _Essays_ he is brief and judicial on the

subject of Marriage, copious and eloquent on the subject of Friendship,

while the essay on Beauty deals exclusively with masculine beauty.

During the first half of the eighteenth century we have clear evidence

that homosexuality flourished in London with the features which it

presents today in all large cities everywhere. There was a generally known

name, "Mollies," applied to homosexual persons, evidently having reference

to their frequently feminine characteristics; there were houses of private

resort for them ("Molly houses"), there were special public places of

rendezvous whither they went in search of adventure, exactly as there are

today. A walk in Upper Moorfields was especially frequented by the

homosexual about 1725. A detective employed by the police about that date

gave evidence as follows at the Old Bailey; "I takes a turn that way and

leans over the wall. In a little time the prisoner passes by, and looks

hard at me, and at a small distance from me stands up against the wall as

if he was going to make water. Then by degrees he siddles nearer and

nearer to where I stood, till at last he was close to me. 'Tis a very fine

night,' says he. 'Aye,' say I, 'and so it is.' Then he takes me by the

hand, and after squeezing and playing with it a little, he conveys it to

his breeches," whereupon the detective seizes the man by his sexual organs

and holds him until the constable comes up and effects an arrest.

At the same period Margaret Clap, commonly called Mother Clap, kept a

house in Field Lane, Holborn, which was a noted resort of the homosexual.

To Mother Clap's Molly-house 30 or 40 clients would resort every night; on

Sunday there might be as many as 50, for, as in Berlin and other cities

today, that was the great homosexual gala night; there were beds in every

room in this house. We are told that the "men would sit in one another's

laps, kissing in a lewd manner and using their hands indecently. Then they

would get up, dance and make curtsies, and mimic the voices of women, 'Oh,

fie, sir,'--'Pray, sir,'--'Dear sir,'--'Lord, how can you serve me

so?'--'I swear I'll cry out,'--'You're a wicked devil,'-

-'And you're a

bold face,'--'Eh, ye dear little toad,'--'Come, bus.'

They'd hug and play

and toy and go out by couples into another room, on the same floor, to be

'married,' as they called it."

On the whole one gains the impression that homosexual practices were more

prevalent in London in the eighteenth century, bearing in mind its

population at that time, than they are today.[88] It must not, however, be

supposed that the law was indulgent and its administration lax. The very

reverse was the case. The punishment for sodomy, when completely effected,

was death, and it was frequently inflicted. Homosexual intercourse,

without evidence of penetration, was regarded as

"attempt" and was usually

punished by the pillory and a heavy fine, followed by two years'

imprisonment. Moreover, it would appear that more activity was shown by

the police in prosecution than is nowadays the case; this is, for

instance, suggested by the evidence of the detective already quoted.

To keep a homosexual resort was also a severely punishable offense. Mother

Clap was charged at the Old Bailey in 1726 with "keeping a sodomitical

house"; she protested that she could not herself have taken part in these

practices, but that availed her nothing; she could bring forward no

witnesses on her behalf and was condemned to pay a fine, to stand in the

pillory, and to undergo imprisonment for two years. The cases were dealt

with in a matter-of-fact way which seems to bear further witness to the

frequency of the offense, and with no effort to expend any specially

vindictive harshness on this class of offenders. If there was the

slightest doubt as to the facts, even though the balance of evidence was

against the accused, he was usually acquitted, and the man who could bring

witnesses to his general good character might often thereby escape. In

1721 a religious young man, married, was convicted of attempting sodomy

with two young men he slept with; he was fined, placed in the pillory and

imprisoned for two months. Next year a man was acquitted on a similar

charge, and another man, of decent aspect, although the evidence indicated

that he might have been guilty of sodomy, was only convicted of attempt,

and sentenced to fine, pillory, and two years'

imprisonment. In 1723,

again, a schoolmaster was acquitted, on account of his good reputation, of

the charge of attempt on a boy of 15, his pupil, though the evidence

seemed decidedly against him. In 1730 a man was sentenced to death for

sodomy effected on his young apprentice; this was a bad case and the

surgeon's evidence indicated laceration of the perineum.

Homosexuality of

all kinds flourished, it will be seen, notwithstanding the fearless yet

fair application of a very severe law.[89]

In more recent times Byron has frequently been referred to as experiencing

homosexual affections, and I have been informed that some of his poems

nominally addressed to women were really inspired by men. It is certain

that he experienced very strong emotions toward his male friends. "My

school-friendships," he wrote, "were with me passions."

When he afterward

met one of these friends, Lord Clare, in Italy, he was painfully agitated;

and could never hear the name without a beating of the heart. At the age

of 22 he formed one of his strong attachments for a youth to whom he left

£7000 in his will.[90] It is probable, however, that here, as well as in

the case of Shakespeare, and in that of Tennyson's love for his youthful

friend, Arthur Hallam, as well as of Montaigne for Etienne de la Boëtie,

although such strong friendships may involve an element of sexual emotion,

we have no true and definite homosexual impulse; homosexuality is merely

simulated by the ardent and hyperesthetic emotions of the poet.[91] The

same quality of the poet's emotional temperament may doubtless, also, be

invoked in the case of Goethe, who is said to have written elegies which,

on account of their homosexual character, still remain unpublished.

The most famous homosexual trial of recent times in England was that of

Oscar Wilde, a writer whose literary reputation may be said to be still

growing, not only in England but throughout the world.

Wilde was the son

of parents who were both of unusual ability and somewhat eccentric. Both

these tendencies became in him more concentrated. He was born with, as it

were, a congenital antipathy to the commonplace, a natural love of

paradox, and he possessed the skill to embody the characteristic in

finished literary form. At the same time, it must not be forgotten,

beneath this natural attitude of paradox, his essential judgments on life

and literature were usually sound and reasonable. His essay on "The Soul

of Man Under Socialism" witnessed to his large and enlightened conception

of life, and his profound admiration for Flaubert to the sanity and

solidity of his literary taste. In early life he revealed no homosexual

tendencies; he married and had children. After he had begun to outgrow his

youthful esthetic extravagances, however, and to acquire success and fame,

he developed what was at first a simply inquisitive interest in inversion.

Such inquisitive interest is sometimes the sign of an emerging homosexual

impulse. It proved to be so in Wilde's case and ultimately he was found to

be cultivating the acquaintance of youths of low class and doubtful

character. Although this development occurred comparatively late in life,

we must hesitate to describe Wilde's homosexuality as acquired. If we

consider his constitution and his history, it is not difficult to suppose

that homosexual germs were present in a latent form from the first, and it

may quite well be that Wilde's inversion was of that kind which is now

described as retarded, though still congenital.

As is usual in England, no active efforts were made to implicate Wilde in

any criminal charge. It was his own action, as even he himself seems to

have vaguely realized beforehand, which brought the storm about his head.

He was arrested, tried, condemned, and at once there arose a general howl

of execration, joined in even by the judge, whose attitude compared

unfavorably with the more impartial attitude of the eighteenth century

judges in similar cases. Wilde came out of prison ambitious to retrieve

his reputation by the quality of his literary work. But he left Reading

gaol merely to enter a larger and colder prison. He soon realized that his

spirit was broken even more than his health. He drifted at last to Paris,

where he shortly after died, shunned by all but a few of his friends.[92]

In a writer of the first order, Edward Fitzgerald, to whom we owe the

immortal and highly individualized version of _Omar Khayyam_, it is easy

to trace an element of homosexuality, though it appears never to have

reached full and conscious development. Fitzgerald was an eccentric person

who, though rich and on friendly terms with some of the most distinguished

men of his time, was always out of harmony with his environment. He felt

himself called on to marry, very unhappily, a woman whom he had never been

in love with and with whom he had nothing in common. All his affections

were for his male friends. In early life he was devoted to his friend W.K.

Browne, whom he glorified in _Euphranor_. "To him Browne was at once

Jonathan, Gamaliel, Apollo,--the friend, the master, the God,--there was

scarcely a limit to his devotion and admiration."[93] On Browne's

premature death Fitzgerald's heart was empty. In 1859 at Lowestoft,

Fitzgerald, as he wrote to Mrs. Browne, "used to wander about the shore at

night longing for some fellow to accost me who might give some promise of

filling up a very vacant place in my heart." It was then that he met

"Posh" (Joseph Fletcher), a fisherman, 6 feet tall, said to be of the best

Suffolk type, both in body and character. Posh reminded Fitzgerald of his

dead friend Browne; he made him captain of his lugger, and was thereafter

devoted to him. Posh was, said Fitzgerald, "a man of the finest Saxon

type, with a complexion _vif, mâle et flamboyant_, blue eyes, a nose less

than Roman, more than Greek, and strictly auburn hair that any woman might

envy. Further he was a man of simplicity; of soul, justice of thought,

tenderness of nature, a gentleman of Nature's grandest type," in fact the

"greatest man" Fitzgerald had ever met. Posh was not, however, quite so

absolutely perfect as this description suggests, and various

misunderstandings arose in consequence between the two friends so unequal

in culture and social traditions. These difficulties are reflected in some

of the yet extant letters from the enormous mass which Fitzgerald

addressed to "my dear Poshy."[94]

A great personality of recent times, widely regarded with reverence as the

prophet-poet of Democracy[95]--Walt Whitman--has aroused discussion by his

sympathetic attitude toward passionate friendship, or

"manly love" as he

calls it, in _Leaves of Grass_. In this book--in

"Calamus," "Drumtaps,"

and elsewhere--Whitman celebrates a friendship in which physical contact

and a kind of silent voluptuous emotion are essential elements. In order

to settle the question as to the precise significance of

"Calamus," J.A.

Symonds wrote to Whitman, frankly posing the question.

The answer (written

from Camden, N.J., on August 19, 1890) is the only statement of Whitman's

attitude toward homosexuality, and it is therefore desirable that it

should be set on record:--

"About the questions on 'Calamus,' etc., they quite daze me.

_Leaves of Grass_ is only to be rightly construed by and within

its own atmosphere and essential character--all its pages and

pieces so coming strictly under. That the 'Calamus'