My Secret Life: An Erotic Diary of Victorian London

My Secret Life: An Erotic Diary of Victorian London

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From his precocious childhood to the end of what he calls his “amatory career,” an adventurous Victorian known only as “Walter” records a breathtaking carnal epic through hundreds of sexual encounters with one or more nursemaids, prostitutes, cousins, actresses, workingmen, and other men’s wives. In ruling everything sexual within the

Overview

From his precocious childhood to the end of what he calls his “amatory career,” an adventurous Victorian known only as “Walter” records a breathtaking carnal epic through hundreds of sexual encounters with one or more nursemaids, prostitutes, cousins, actresses, workingmen, and other men’s wives. In ruling everything sexual within the realm of possibility, Walter reveals “varied delights…whims and fancies normal and abnormal,” sexual violence, fetishes—and sometimes, surprisingly, love. From his many escapades, he learns an invaluable lesson: “One can never know too much concerning human nature.” Portraying an era of notorious repression, in which the appearance of propriety had to be strictly maintained, My Secret Life provides a rare look at the hidden side of Victorian life: the upstairs and downstairs encounters where nothing is “proper”—or forbidden. First published in London around 1900, this landmark work freshly illuminates the complex sexual dynamics of a society strictly divided between rich and poor, male and female, sexual and chaste. In James Kincaid’s abridgment, Walter and his world come to vivid life in new and often surprising ways.
 
Edited and with an Introduction by James Kincaid and with an Afterword by Paul Sawyer

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101006900
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/06/2007
Series:
Signet Classics Series
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
624
Sales rank:
314,709
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Introduction

PREFACE

 

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER XXXII

CHAPTER XXXIII

CHAPTER XXXIV

CHAPTER XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER XXXVII

CHAPTER XXXVIII

CHAPTER XXXIX

CHAPTER XL

CHAPTER XLI

CHAPTER XLII

CHAPTER XLIII

CHAPTER XLIV

CHAPTER XLV

CHAPTER XLVI

CHAPTER XLVII

CHAPTER XLVIII

CHAPTER XLIX

CHAPTER L

CHAPTER LI

CHAPTER LII

CHAPTER LIII

CHAPTER LIV

CHAPTER LV

CHAPTER LVI

CHAPTER LVII

CHAPTER LVIII

 

Afterword

SIGNET CLASSICS

"My Secret Life is by far the most famous and the longest sexual autobiography written in the nineteenth century. It has in it invaluable material for social and cultural historians, literary scholars, students of manners and morals — and it has more of what we might call ‘encounters’ than any narrative ever penned in English.”

— From the Introduction by James Kincaid

 

The anonymous author of My Secret Life has never been identified. Rumors have suggested he was a prominent scholar, the eccentric son of an earl, even a titled woman. All we do know is evident in the text: He was raised by servants and educated at a good boarding school. His young adulthood was spent not in learning a trade, but in exploring the world of sex and recording every encounter.

 

James Kincaid is Aerol Arnold Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture, as well as books on Dickens, Trollope, and Tennyson.

 

Paul Sawyer is George Reed Professor of Writing and Rhetoric and director of the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University. The author of Ruskin’s Poetic Argument: The Design of the Major Works, he is a noted scholar of the Victorian age.

SIGNET CLASSICS
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Published by Signet Classics, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Signet Classics Printing, April 1996
First Signet Classics Printing (Sawyer Afterword), November 2007

 

Abridgment copyright © Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 1996

Introduction copyright © James Kincaid, 1996

Afterword copyright © Paul Sawyer, 2007

All rights reserved

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eISBN : 978-1-101-00690-0

INTRODUCTION

My Secret Life is by far the most famous and the longest sexual autobiography written in the nineteenth century. Its eleven fat volumes contain invaluable material for social and cultural historians, literary scholars, students of manners and morals — and I believe it has more of what we might call “encounters” than any narrative ever penned. Since the book’s publication around 1902, this astounding document — narrated by the otherwise anonymous “Walter” — has been notorious as an energetic, entertaining narrative of one man’s tireless sexual activity.

Since only scholars and the mentally tangled could read the original in its entirety, nearly everyone who knows My Secret Life has read it in an abridged form. These abridgements have generally taken care to present a somewhat expurgated and sanitized image of Walter, a Walter who (apart from his insatiable sexual appetite) is a safe, agreeable, and somehow recognizable individual. None, until now, has shown us Walter in anything like his full range of poses and postures. But the Walter in the volume you are holding, much more like the Walter who grinds through the original eleven volumes, is a more varied, indiscriminate, and often disturbing protagonist. This new Walter is not simply rollicking through life but also, we will see, raping; reveling not only in flesh, but in pain; not only in lust, but in fear. Take care.

The Walter presented here seems to me also the first Walter who has behind him a coherent story, who can be said to be recognizable as a man with a background and a life. This version actually has something like a plot; not much of a plot, to be sure, since even our more well-rounded Walter seems only to do one thing. Like a good Victorian, he has listened to the sage Thomas Carlyle: “Find your work and do it.” Walter has found what he’s good at — sex — and he is determined to lunge into it and never leave off, which may not be exactly what Carlyle had in mind. But it’s probably what readers of My Secret Life have in mind; otherwise, they’d do as well reading Carlyle, where at least they’d not find things like:

“ ‘Oho — oho’ she said with a prolonged sigh, ’do — oh, take away — oh — your hand, Walter dear, — oh I shall be ill, — oho — oho.’ ” As descriptions of such things go, this seems conventional enough — though we ourselves may never have found “oho” coming so often to mind when we reached for the perfect word on such occasions.

In fact, My Secret Life contains so little of what we have learned to recognize as conventional for writing on sexual activity that it may seem more like a journal than fantasy, more social history than pornography. There is less panting, sighing, and swooning than there is sweating, flopping, grunting, elbowing, washing, and attending to unromantic bodily details: “ ‘Get up love, I want to piddle,’ said she. I rolled off her belly.” Walter takes such pleasure in absolutely all things bodily — after skidding off her belly, he probably goes and watches her piddle — that he can’t get enough of it. “I liked flesh,” he says agreeably; “a woman’s bum could not be too big for me.” A bum the size of the Ritz: that’s his dream.

He nearly finds it in one of his sweetest partners, Big Sarah: “Her bum was vast, but she was thick up to her waist, and had large breasts as firm as a rock. Her thighs were lovely, but her knees so big, that no garter would remain above them.” Sarah is no Harlequin heroine, and not just in appearance. She is desperately poor but generous, not easily shocked but sadly innocent. Walter likes her so much and is so appreciative of that lovely, boundless flesh that he gives her a ten-pound note. Sarah had never in her life even seen a bank note, and she asks Walter just what it can be. When he tells her, Sarah, large in heart as in body, vows to share some with her old mother, and goes off into the night, calculating the exact extent of her delight: “I had two pounds, and now I’ve twelve.”

With all this emphasis on class, and money, and on who has the power to do what to whom, Sarah starts to look like a heroine from Zola or Stephen Crane. We may begin to wonder what kind of book we have entered. My Secret Life may be seen as pure social history, absurdist (or erotic) fantasy, or some mixture of the two. It has but one subject, the oft-repeated and remarkably successful search for and the performance of sexual intercourse or something like it; yet this is no hack-work piece of porn. Single-minded as it is, it presents us with a mind capable of reflecting on the world about him, those with whom he comes in (very close) contact, his own obsessions, even his follies. One thing is clear: This strange and compelling book, perhaps the strangest to come down to us from those mysterious, devious Victorians, is unlike anything else produced then-or now.

My Secret Life, probably written in the 1880s, made its inaugural public appearance as a tease, the first six chapters being published in 1901 as The Dawn of Sensuality by the publisher “Charles Carrington,” who followed this up the next year with a catalogue announcing the whole book, a whopping eleven volumes, for sale. According to Carnngton, who seems never to have said a truthful thing in his life if he could help it, the work was printed in Amsterdam around 1880 in an edition limited by the author to six copies (though more may have been run off by an unscrupulous printer, Carrington claimed). Since that time the work has been issued in many different forms and titles, some of which have been seized by police and, predictably, made the subject of periodic legal/moral battles. Imitations have appeared, and also “Supplements,” one nearly as long as the original written for an Oklahoma oil-baron whose thirst for new matter was such that he needed a couple of hundred fresh pages a week and was willing to pay what it took to get them. All in all, My Secret Life is hardly a pure text, which would have pleased the decidedly impure “Walter.”

But who is Walter? As with most other things connected with this book, the question of its authorship wallows in the land of rumor. We will never know who wrote this; who (if anyone) experienced all, some, or any of these adventures; who chose to publish such intimate accounts (or lies) and why. There is an intriguing possibility, floated by some experts, that the author was one Henry Spencer Ashbee, a fascinating scholar, bibliographer, collector, and tweaker of the righteous. It is my guess that Ashbee knew more about printed erotica than any man who ever lived: He published a remarkable three-volume listing (with details and copious selections) of nineteenth-century arousing material called Bibliography of Prohibited Books and he possessed a good deal of erotica himself, willing it at his death to the British Museum, on condition that they make it available to one and all. This was a brilliant piece of satiric blackmail, since the Museum’s acceptance of the racy books that they did not want was a condition for the receipt of innumerable other valuable materials that they very much did want and that Ashbee also proposed to donate. But there really is no evidence to confirm his authorship, outside of Ashbee’s undeniable devilishness, knowledge, and interest in the subject; all areas in which he was extraordinarily proficient but hardly alone.

So what we do have in My Secret Life: An arty sexual autobiography that will remind us of Henry Miller; a cynical bit of pornography; an accurate and serious (if quickening) peek at the habits of our far-from-starchy forebears; or a novel? What mask are we to put on when we read My Secret Life? It all depends on what we think we’re reading — and that’s not easy to decide. First of all, do we regard what Walter’s telling us as plain fact? Walter says he has had intercourse with twelve hundred women and manually manipulated the genitals of “certainly three hundred others.” That number, which modestly excludes the men and boys with whom he had fun, gathers into its fold women of twenty-seven “empires, kingdoms or countries and eighty or more different nationalities, including every one in Europe except a Laplander.”

On the other hand, the matter-of-fact tone of the work and the mundane details that the narrator includes seldom suggest Casanova-style boasting, parody, or mad fantasy. Maybe Walter just had a way about him, but he says he didn’t: He insists that he was an average guy who just happened to be persevering; as if fifteen hundred different sexual partners would fall into the lap of anyone who wasn’t a slacker. He suggests that women are really as anxious to have sex as men and that they’ll do just that, given reasonable encouragement and opportunity. He says further that what he’s doing is nothing very remarkable: “What I have done, thousands of others are doing.”

Sure. Perhaps others will simply nod in agreement at this observation, but my own experience and perhaps gaunt sense of the probable cause me to abandon at just this point the idea that Walter is an historical character, at least in the usual sense, though he is a brilliant fictional narrator, a novel-writer. It’s a novel whose plot is, I grant, formed as a set of variations on a single theme. Here we have a picaresque (or post-modern) novel which invites us playfully to participate in all the episodes — or the single repeated episode. Dickens’s Great Expectations opens with Pip recalling his first memory of “the identity of things,” of the whole cosmos; but Walter’s first words take a more limited world for his survey: “My first recollection of things sexual . . .” Walter’s focus (one could say his artistic integrity) is so intense that he makes sex the measure of all things, even time: When he is young, he orders events not by the calendar but by the size of his penis. This novel operates as a subversive version of genteel fiction and its main motor: How sheer tenacity and good luck can overcome the odds, master the obstacles created by class, modesty, and money. As in many other novels, from Defoe to Horatio Alger to Joseph Heller, Walter overcomes them again and again, and yet again.

This work takes as its subject the Inexhaustible and poses as its main artistic goal the representation of recurrence. Now, recurrence is a different thing from blunt repetition, to be sure, but not much different; and how does an author make us feel that each going-at-it is indeed a new dawn and not just another slog through the same old routine? Walter knows he has a problem on his hands: “fucking is always much the same,” he says, and fucking, he admits, is his major (only) subject. “The roads to copulation are like the act, very much the same everywhere.” There is, in fact, “nothing mysterious about it excepting in the psychology.” Only that — but that “psychology,” which he elsewhere terms “imagination,” is everything, transforming dull routine into heady new exploration. For Walter, as for any artist, “novelty always stimulates my salacity,” and he can always, literally always, find novelty by exercising his imagination, the secret of all art and, we gather, sexual bliss.

It is true that, especially in the second half of the novel, Walter does seem to locate variety not simply through ingenious imaginative contemplation, but through more and more direct recourse to external stimulants: including boys, flagellation, partners with unusual body formations, and group play. He decides at about midpoint in the novel that his life (sex-life that is, but they seem the same) has been “simple, commonplace, and unintellectual,” so he vows to cut down the amount of “simple belly to belly exercise,” charming as it has been, and to add a lot of, as he puts it (and who could say it better?), “suck and fuck all around.” One could see this welcoming of variety as an act of sad desperation, an attempt to hide from himself the emptiness of his life, an addiction he cannot rid himself of.

But Walter himself sees his life in grandly heroic terms: He was “determined to know everything, and to do everything once in my life.” Everything! And he’s not talking about skydiving, snorkeling, and safaris. He’s not some timid Ernest Hemingway sort. He really means everything that is personal, vulnerable. Walter has a literal mind, and he has a literal courge: He means to make his body available to pleasure at the risk of ridicule, failure, and pain. The very opposite of Hemingway in this respect, he throws himself into the most sensitive and dangerous tests of all. He doesn’t need to shoot a lion as a substitute for sex. Walter has no truck with substitutes and thus is like a bedroom-Faust — unsatisfied with less than All. Walter laments his failure not simply to sleep with a Lapland woman but with the entire population of Lapland. But he’s a comic Faust, of course, since, there’s so little that he doesn’t get at the finish. At the end, Walter says, “Eros adieu,” but this is just a way to stop the book, not conclude it. Nobody believes him when he says adieu to anything, certainly not eros. Even if Walter were to be stricken with a fatal disease, he’d make love to the ambulance drivers, the entire emergency room, the undertaker, the grave diggers — his erotic urge would not stop for death.

Whether we regard the work as a comic novel or not, we will notice about it some very striking and unusual features. It is, for one thing, the least sexually squeamish work to come down to us from the past. Walter is apparently incapable of censoring anything, even when we might like him to do so. Walter is wildly excited by many things most of us might regard as uninteresting or actively unattractive. For instance, nothing excites him more than the sight or sound of a woman peeing: “seeing them piddle became a taste I kept all my life,” he says right off the bat. (page 27) He carries an auger with him to foreign hotels, eagerly drilling holes so he can catch others at play or at the chamber pot.

Not that this peculiarity blocks him from more conventional engagements, though even these are sometimes portrayed as more than a little grotesque: “I had to pull open this one’s sausage lips and hold back the dark fringe, which got into my eyes and tickled my nose.... Then her thighs closed round my head tightly enough to squeeze it off.” The Rabelaisian humor is not lost on the narrator, who can even laugh at the vagaries of his mind-of-its-own penis, and the difficulties he has in choreographing the more complex figures in group sex, at one point having so many arms and legs blocking the essential organs that he resorts to a series of ceiling hooks, pulleys, and ropes to hoist the excess out of the way. We sometimes feel we are in the middle of an X-rated Night at the Opera.

But just as often we glide over from the grotesque to the lyrical, especially to passionate celebrations of the woman he’s near — or near to engaging. He often says that he has little interest in faces or bodies (apart from one area, on which he is a connoisseur), that he simply likes best of all in the world the woman with whom he is about to copulate, no matter what she looks like. Sometimes he falls in love, and he often seems to develop considerable affection for women he knows, even when their relationship is decidedly short-term. Indeed, one of the most attractive features of Walter is the respect he has for prostitutes and the easy and quite convincing friendships he forms with them. He can move us most strongly when he is talking to these women, inquiring after their interests and needs, wondering how it is they get by. Such passages are probably more affecting than the self-conscious apostrophes to “cunt” or, even worse, the celebration of the power (untold) of the penis. All his life, he nourishes the belief that once he gets his penis — “What a persuader!” — into a woman’s hand or even into her line of vision, she is a goner “Powerful organ which all women worship!” I like him better myself when he is talking about pleasure rather than worship; for instance, when he tells us how much fun he and a very early partner named Charlotte had together, totally unable to keep their hands off one another and going at it in halls, privies, on tables, in a schoolroom, in fields, in the rain, standing up and kneeling — hanging from the ceiling, probably. He reflects on all this with an unusual note for him, understated and simple lucidity: “Nothing in my career since is so lovely as our life then was.”

I have held off talking directly about the character of this “Walter,” since there is so much about him that will assault modem sensibilities, and perhaps any sensibilities. Except for the time with prostitutes, he is pretty much devoting his life to a career of sexual harassment; when he isn’t, that is, actually committing rape. There is probably no other way we can view all this, though we ought to remain aware that such terms would not be altogether meaningful then. Still, Walter clearly believes that he knows what women want and what they mean much better than they do; that he is, always and without exception, doing them a favor by fulfilling what, if they only knew it, is their own will and deep desire. His scientific curiosity, while sometimes amusing to us and perhaps even commendable, also leads him inevitably to wonder what it would be like to deflower ten-year-olds.

For some readers, there is no more to be said; and to point out that Walter is also honest, often compassionate, and without conceit would be as wrongheaded as insisting on the Marquis de Sade’s good grooming habits. Still, it is worth noting, though not as an apology, that Walter does not see himself as exceptionally endowed (in any way) or even exceptionally successful with women; that he is invariably generous in his financial dealings, and that he never imagines that he is seeking or finding some kind of higher truth. He knows very well that the search for pleasure will get you, if you’re lucky, pleasure — but not enlightenment. The wisdom he picks up on the way he does give to us, but it amounts to no more than a few (dubious) tips on how to use “the persuader” to best effect in the seducing game and a long essay on the genitals, offered for the naive of all ages.

The best that can be said for Walter is that, for all his occasional brutality, he does certainly, by his lights, respect and like women. He believes that they love what he loves and that their pleasure in it is every bit as intense as his. Walter has in mind an organization of our (male and female) being in which will and consciousness are more or less superficial, in which libido, once awakened and released, can give us a taste of bliss in a cold and careless world. Walter can be hard-nosed and callous about money and class (most of his relationships are with poor women), but he rarely makes the error of believing that women are demeaned by being poor, or that poor women are any different from those more fortunate. He is, in this sense, a liberal, a democrat.

But let’s not stretch the point: Walter is not a social philosopher, but a party boy. He’s writing the book not to instruct or entertain us, but to keep the party going: “The writing indeed completed my enjoyment.” Readers may find that a disturbing thought — Walter writing all this down and then reading it back to himself in order to relive the excitement. What room is there for us in such a closed circuit? Going through this book, we might feel a little like voyeurs; as if, like Walter, we had taken out our auger, bored through the wall, and started peeking at someone else’s “enjoyment.”

Still, what a lot of enjoyment there is; and how ingeniously it is renewed, over and over again. It is this comic energy, I think, which is most evident. Walter is hospitable, after all; he has a kind of affable and daffy confidence that his pleasure will give us pleasure; and he welcomes us to take what we like. Not everyone will choose to accept his invitation, and even those who do, may well hold on to some outrage and a fair number of ethical and political objections. But raising objections before Walter is like trying to dodge killer bees. And many readers — “oho, oho” — will not — “oho, oho,” — I guess — “oho, no” — be too much — “oh, oho” — interested — “ahhhhh” — in escaping anyhow — “oho, oho.”

— JAMES R. KINCAID

A NOTE ON THE ABRIDGEMENT

This abridgement of the original eleven-volume edition is carefully selected to catch such continuous narrative strands as exist and to be faithful to the range of Walter’s experiences and views as they develop over time. Since this often meant using parts of and sometimes splicing consecutive chapters, we felt that it would be clearer to number our chapters consecutively, without regard to the original volume and chapter designations. The key below will indicate, for those interested, how our chapters correspond to the original and how this abridgement is fashioned.

SIGNET CLASSIC EDITION/11-VOLUME 1902 EDITION

INTRODUCTION

In 18 — my oldest friend died. We had been at school and college together, and our intimacy had never been broken. I was trustee for his wife and executor at his death. He died of a lingering illness, during which his hopes of living were alternately raised, and depressed. Two years before he died, he gave me a huge parcel carefully tied up and sealed. “Take care of but don’t open this,” he said; “if I get better, return it to me, if I die, let no mortal eye but yours see it, and burn it.”

His widow died a year after him. I had well nigh forgotten this packet, which I had had full three years, when, looking for some title deeds, I came across it, and opened it, as it was my duty to do. Its contents astonished me. The more I read it, the more marvellous it seemed. I pondered long on the meaning of his instructions when he gave it to me, and kept the manuscript some years, hesitating what to do with it.

At length I came to the conclusion, knowing his idiosyncrasy well, that his fear was only lest any one should know who the writer was; and feeling that it would be sinful to destroy such a history, I copied the manuscript and destroyed the original. He died relationless. No one now can trace the author; no names are mentioned in the book, though they were given freely in the margin of his manuscript, and I alone know to whom the initials refer. If I have done harm in printing it, I have done none to him, have indeed only carried out his evident intention, and given to a few a secret history, which bears the impress of truth on every page, a contribution to psychology.

PREFACE

I began these memoirs when about twenty-five years old, having from youth kept a diary of some sort, which perhaps from habit made me think of recording my inner and secret life.

When I began it, I had scarcely read a baudy book, none of which, excepting Fanny Hill, appeared to me to be truthful: that did, and it does so still; the others telling of récherché eroticisms or of inordinate copulative powers, of the strange twists, tricks, and fancies of matured voluptuousness and philosophical lewedness, seemed to my comparative ignorance as baudy imaginings or lying inventions, not worthy of belief; although I now know, by experience, that they may be true enough, however eccentric and improbable, they may appear to the uninitiated.

Fanny Hill’s was a woman’s experience. Written perhaps by a woman, where was a man’s written with equal truth? That book has no baudy word in it; but baudy acts need the baudy ejaculations; the erotic, full-flavored expressions, which even the chastest indulge in when lust, or love, is in its full tide of performance. So I determined to write my private life freely as to fact, and in the spirit of the lustful acts done by me, or witnessed; it is written therefore with absolute truth and without any regard whatever for what the world calls decency. Decency and voluptuousness in its fullest acceptance cannot exist together, one would kill the other; the poetry of copulation I have only experienced with a few women, which however neither prevented them nor me from calling a spade a spade.

I began it for my amusement; when many years had been chronicled I tired of it and ceased. Some ten years afterwards I met a woman, with whom, or with those she helped me to, I did, said, saw, and heard well nigh everything a man and woman could do with their genitals, and began to narrate those events, when quite fresh in my memory, a great variety of incidents extending over four years or more. Then I lost sight of her, and my amorous amusements for a while were simpler, but that part of my history was complete.

After a little while, I set to work to describe the events of the intervening years of my youth and early middle age, which included most of my gallant intrigues and adventures of a frisky order; but not the more lascivious ones of later years. Then an illness caused me to think seriously of burning the whole. But not liking to destroy my labor, I laid it aside again for a couple of years. Then another illness gave me long uninterrupted leisure; I read my manuscript and filled in some occurrences which I had forgotten but which my diary enabled me to place in their proper order. This will account for the difference in style in places, which I now observe; and a very needless repetition of voluptuous descriptions, which I had forgotten and had been before described; that however is inevitable, for human copulation, vary the incidents leading up to it as you may, is, and must be, at all times much the same affair.

Then, for the first time, I thought I would print my work that had been commenced more than twenty years before, but hesitated. I then had entered my maturity, and on to the most lascivious portion of my life, the events were disjointed, and fragmentary and my amusement was to describe them just after they occurred. Most frequently the next day I wrote all down with much prolixity; since, I have much abbreviated it.

I had from youth an excellent memory, but about sexual matters a wonderful one. Women were the pleasure of my life. I loved cunt, but also who had it; I like the woman I fucked and not simply the cunt I fucked, and therein is a great difference. I recollect even now in a degree which astonishes me, the face, colour, stature, thighs, backside, and cunt, of well nigh every woman I have had, who was not a mere casual, and even of some who were. The clothes they wore, the houses and rooms in which I had them, were before me mentally as I wrote, the way the bed and furniture were placed, the side of the room the windows were on, I remembered perfectly; and all the important events I can fix as to time, sufficiently nearly by reference to my diary, in which the contemporaneous circumstances of my life are recorded.

I recollect also largely what we said and did, and generally our baudy amusements. Where I fail to have done so, I have left description blank, rather than attempt to make a story coherent by inserting what was merely probable. I could not now account for my course of action, or why I did this, or said that, my conduct seems strange, foolish, absurd, very frequently, that of some women equally so, but I can but state what did occur.

In a few cases, I have, for what even seems to me very strange, suggested reasons or causes, but only where the facts seem by themselves to be very improbable, but have not exaggerated anything willingly. When I have named the number of times I have fucked a woman in my youth, I may occasionally be in error, it is difficult to be quite accurate on such points after a lapse of time. But as before said, in many cases the incidents were written down a few weeks and often within a few days after they occurred. I do not attempt to pose as a Hercules in copulation, there are quite sufficient braggarts on that head, much intercourse with gay women, and doctors, makes me doubt the wonderful feats in coition some men tell of.

I have one fear about publicity, it is that of having done a few things by curiosity and impulse (temporary aberrations) which even professed libertines may cry fie on. There are plenty who will cry fie who have done all and worse than I have and habitually, but crying out at the sins of others was always a way of hiding one’s own iniquity. Yet from that cause perhaps no mortal eye but mine will see this history.

The Christian names of the servants mentioned are generally the true ones, the other names mostly false, tho phonetically resembling the true ones. Initials nearly always the true ones. In most cases the women they represent are dead or lost to me. Streets and baudy houses named are nearly always correct. Most of the houses named are now closed or pulled down; but any middle-aged man about town would recognize them. Where a road, house, room, or garden is described, the description is exactly true, even to the situation of a tree, chair, bed, sofa, pisspot. The district is sometimes given wrongly; but it matters little whether Brompton be substituted for Hackney, or Camden Town for Walworth. Where however, owing to the incidents, it is needful, the places of amusement are given correctly. The Tower, and Ar. gyle rooms, for example. All this is done to prevent giving pain to some, perhaps still living, for I have no malice to gratify.

I have mystified family affairs, but if I say I had ten cousins when I had but six, or that one aunt’s house was in Surrey instead of Kent, or in Lancashire, it breaks the clue and cannot matter to the reader. But my doings with man and woman are as true as gospel. If I say that I saw, or did, that with a cousin, male or female, it was with a cousin and no mere acquaintance; if with a servant, it was with a servant; if with a casual acquaintance, it is equally true. Nor if I say I had that woman, and did this or that with her, or felt or did aught else with a man, is there a word of untruth, excepting as to the place at which the incidents occurred. But even those are mostly correctly given; this is intended to be a true history, and not a lie.

SECOND PREFACE

Some years have passed away since I penned the foregoing, and it is not printed. I have since gone through abnormal phases of amatory life, have done and seen things, had tastes and letches which years ago I thought were the dreams of erotic mad-men; these are all described, the manuscript has grown into unmanageable bulk; shall it, can it, be printed? What will be said or thought of me, what became of the manuscript if found when I am dead? Better to destroy the whole, it has fulfilled its purpose in amusing me, now let it go to the flames!

I have read my manuscript through; what reminiscences! I had actually forgotten some of the early ones; how true the detail strikes me as I read of my early experiences; had it not been written then it never could have been written now; has anybody but myself faithfully made such a record? It would be a sin to burn all this, whatever society may say, it is but a narrative of human life, perhaps the every day life of thousands, if the confession could be had.

What strikes me as curious in reading it is the monotony of the course I have pursued towards women who were not of the gay class; it has been as similar and repetitive as fucking itself; do all men act so, does every man kiss, coax, hint smuttily, then talk baudily, snatch a feel, smell his fingers, assault, and win, exactly as I have done? Is every woman offended, say “no,” then “oh!” blush, be angry, refuse, close her thighs, after a struggle open them, and yield to her lust as mine have done? A conclave of whores telling the truth, and of Romish Priests, could alone settle the point. Have all men had the strange letches which late in life have enraptured me, though in early days the idea of them revolted me? I can never know this; my experience, if printed, may enable others to compare as I cannot.

Shall it be burnt or printed? How many years have passed in this indecision? why fear? it is for others’ good and not my own if preserved.

CHAPTER I

Earliest recollections. — An erotic nursemaid. — Ladies abed. — My cock. — A frisky governess. — Cousin Fred. — Thoughts on pudenda. — A female pedlar. — Baudy pictures. — A naked baby.

 

My earliest recollections of things sexual are of what I think must have occurred some time between my age of five and eight years. I tell of them just as I recollect them, without attempt to fill in what seems probable.

She was I suppose my nursemaid. I recollect that she sometimes held my little prick when I piddled, was it needful to do so? I don’t know. She attempted to pull my prepuce back, when, and how often, I know not. But I am clear about seeing the prick tip show, of feeling pain, of yelling out, of her soothing me, and of this occurring more than once. She comes to my memory as a shortish, fattish, young female, and that she often felt my prick.

One day, it must have been late in the afternoon for the sun was low but shining — how strange I should recollect that so clearly — but I have always recollected sunshine, — I had been walking out with her, toys had been bought me, we were both carrying them, she stopped and talked to some men, one caught hold of her and kissed her, I felt frightened, it was near a coach stand, for hackney coaches were there, cabs were not then known, she put what toys she had onto my hands and went into a house with a man. What house? I don’t know. Probably a public-house, for there was one not far from a coach stand, and not far from our house. She came out and we went home.

Then I was in our house in a carpeted room with her; it could not have been the nursery I know, sitting on the floor with my toys; so was she; she played with me and the toys, we rolled over each other on the floor in fun, I have a recollection of having done that with others, and of my father and mother being in that room at times with me playing.

She kissed me, got out my cock, and played with it, took one of my hands and put it underneath her clothes. It felt rough there, that’s all, she moved my little hand violently there, then she felt my cock and again hurt me, I recollect seeing the red tip appear as she pulled down the prepuce, and my crying out, and her quieting me.

Then of her being on her back, of my striding across or between her legs, and her heaving me up and down, and my riding cockhorse and that it was not the first time I had done so; then I fell flat on her, she heaved me up and down and squeezed me till I cried. I scrambled off of her, and in doing so my hand, or foot, went through a drum I had been drumming on, at which I cried.

As I sat crying on the floor beside her, I recollect her naked legs, and one of her hands shaking violently beneath her petticoats, and of my having some vague notion that the woman was ill; I felt timid. All was for a moment quiet, her hand ceased, still she lay on her back, and I saw her thighs, then turning round she drew me to her, kissed me and tranquillised me. As she turned round I saw one side of her backside, I leant over it and laid my face on it crying about my broken drum, the evening sunbeams made it all bright, it had at some time been raining, I recollect.

I expect I must have seen her cunt, as I sat beside her naked thigh. Looking towards her and crying about my broken drum, and when I saw her hand moving no doubt she was frigging. Yet I have not the slightest recollection of her cunt, nor of anything more than I have told. But of having seen her naked thighs I am certain, I seem often to have seen them, but cannot feel certain of that.

The oddest thing is that whilst I early recollected more or less clearly what took place two or three years later on, and ever afterwards on sexual matters, and what I said, heard, and did, nearly consecutively, this, my first recollection of cock and cunt, escaped my memory for full twenty years.

Then one day, talking with the husband of one of my cousins, about infantine incidents, he told me some thing which had occurred to him in his childhood; and suddenly, almost as quickly as a magic lantern throws a picture on to a wall, this which had occurred to me came into my mind. I have since thought over it a hundred times, but cannot recollect one circumstance relating to the adventure more than I have told.

My mother had been giving advice to my cousin about nursemaids. They were not to be trusted. “When Walter was a little fellow, she had dismissed a filthy creature, whom she had detected in abominable practices with one of her children”; what they were my mother never disclosed. She hated indelicacies of any sort, and usually cut short allusion to them by saying, “It’s not a subject to talk about, let’s talk about some thing else.” My cousin told her husband, and when we were together he told me, and his own experiences, and then all the circumstances, came into my mind, just as I have told here.

I could not, as the reader will hear, thoroughly uncover my prick tip without pain till I was sixteen years old, nor well then when quite stiff unless it went up a cunt. My nursemaid I expect thought this curious, and tried to remedy the error in my make, and hurt me. My mother, by her extremely delicate feeling, shut herself off from much knowledge of the world, which was the reason why she had such implicit belief in my virtue, until I had seen twenty-two years, and kept, or nearly so, a French harlot.

I imagine I must have slept with this nursemaid, and certainly I did with some female, in a room called the Chinese room, on account of the color of the wall papers. I recollect a female being there in bed with me, that I awoke one morning feeling very hot and stifled and that my head was against flesh; that flesh was all about me, my mouth and nose being embedded in hair, or some thing scrubby, which had a hot peculiar odour. I have a recollection of a pair of hands suddenly clutching and dragging me up on to the pillow, and of daylight then. I have no recollection of a word being uttered. This incident I could not long have forgotten, having told my cousin Fred of it before my father did. He used to say it was the governess. I suppose I must have slipped down in my sleep, till my head laid against her belly and cunt.

Some years afterwards, when I got the smell of another woman’s cunt on my fingers, it at once reminded me of the smell I had under my nose in the bed; and I knew at a flash that I had smelt cunt before, and recollected where, but no more.

How long after I have no idea, but it seems like two or three years, there was a dance in our house, several relations were to stop the night with us, the house was full, there was bustle, the shifting of beds, the governess going into a servant’s room to sleep, and so on. Some female cousins were amongst those stopping with us; going into the drawing-room suddenly, I heard my mother saying to one of my aunts, “Walter is after all but a child, and it’s only for one night.”

“Hish-hish,” both said as they saw me, then my mother sent me out of the room, wondering why they were talking about me, and feeling curious and annoyed at being sent away.

I had been in the habit then of sleeping in a room either with another bed in it or close to a room leading out of it, with another bed, I cannot recollect which; I used to call out to whoever might have been there when I was in bed: for being timid, the door was kept open for me. It could not have been a man who slept there, for the men-servants slept on the ground-floor, I have seen their beds there.

The night I speak of, my bed was taken out, and put into the Chinese-paper room, one of the maids who helped to move it sat on the pot and piddled; I heard the rattle, and as far as I can recollect it was the first time I noticed anything of the sort, tho I recollect well seeing women putting on their stockings and feeling the thigh of one of them just above her knee. I was kneeling on the floor at the time and had a trumpet, which she took angrily out of my hand soon afterwards, because I made noise.

I recollect the dance, that I danced with a tall lady, that my mother, contrary to custom as it seems to me, put me to bed herself, and that it was before the dance was over, for I felt angry and tearful at being put to bed so early. My mother closed the curtains quite tightly all round a small four post bed, and told me I was to lie quietly and not get up till she came to me in the morning; not to speak, nor undo my curtains, nor to get out of bed, or I should disturb Mr. and Mrs. *** who were to sleep in the big bed; that it would make them angry if I did. I am almost certain she named a lady and her husband who were going to stay with us; but can’t be sure. A man then frightened me more than a woman, my mother I dare say knew that.

I dare say, for it was the same the greater part of my early life that I went to sleep directly I laid down, usually never awaking till the morning. Certainly I must have gone fast asleep that night; perhaps I had had a little wine given me, who knows; I have a sudden consciousness of a light, and hear someone say, “He is fast asleep, don’t make a noise”; it seemed like my mother’s voice. I rouse myself and listen, the circumstances are strange, the room strange, it excites me, and I rise on my knees, I don’t know whether naturally, or cautiously, or how; perhaps cautiously, because I fear angering my mother, and the gentleman; perhaps a sexual instinct makes me curious, though that is not probable. I have not in fact the slightest conception of the actuating motive, but I sat up and listened. There were two females talking, laughing quietly and moving about, I heard a rattling in the pot, then a rest, then again a rattle and knew the sound of piddling. How long I listened I don’t know, I might have dozed and awakened again, I saw lights moved about; then I crawled on my knees, with fear that I was doing wrong, and pushed a little aside the curtains where they met at the bottom of the bed. I recollect their being quite tight by the tucking in, and that I could not easily make an opening to peep through.

There was a girl, or young woman, with her back to me, brushing her hair, another standing by her, one took a night gown off the chair, shook it out, and dropped it over her head, after drawing off her chemise. As this was done I saw some black at the bottom of her belly, a fear came over me that I was doing wrong and should be punished if found looking, and I laid down wondering at it all; I fancy I again slept.

Then there was a shuffling about, and again it seems as if I heard a noise like piddling, the light was put out, I felt agitated, I heard the women kiss, one say “Hish! you will wake that brat,” then one said, “Listen” then I heard kisses and breathing like some one sighing, I thought some one must be ill and felt alarmed and must then have fallen asleep. I do not know who the women were, they must have been my cousins, or young ladies who had come to the dance. That was the first time I recollect seeing the hair of a cunt, though I must have seen it before, for I recollect at times a female (most likely a nursemaid) stand naked, but don’t recollect noticing anything black between her thighs, nor did I think about it at all afterwards.

In the morning my mother came and took me up to her room, where she dressed me; as she left the room, she said to the females in bed they were not to hurry up, she had only fetched Wattie.

But all this only came vividly to my mind when, a few years after, I began to talk about women with my cousin, and we told each other all we had seen, and heard, about females.

Until I was about twelve years old I never went to school, there was a governess in the house who instructed me and the other children, my father was nearly always at home. I was carefully kept from the grooms and other men servants; once I recollect getting to the stable yard and seeing a stallion mount a mare, his prick go right out of sight in what appeared to me to be the mare’s bottom, of father appearing and calling out, “What does that boy do there?” and my being hustled away. I had scarcely a boy acquaintance, excepting among my cousins, and therefore did not learn as much about sexual matters as boys early do at schools. I did not know what the stallion was doing, I could have had no notion of it then, nor did I think about it.

The next thing I clearly recollect, was one of my male cousins stopping with us, we walked out, and when piddling together against a hedge, his saying, “Shew me your cock, Walter, and I will shew you mine.” We stood and examined each other’s cocks, and for the first time I became conscious that I could not get my foreskin easily back like other boys. I pulled his backwards and forwards. He hurt me, laughed and sneered at me, another boy came and I think another, we all compared cocks, and mine was the only one which would not unskin, they jeered me, I burst into tears, and went away thinking there was some thing wrong with me, and was ashamed to shew my cock again, tho I set to work earnestly to try to pull the foreskin back, but always desisted, fearing the pain, for I was very sensitive.

My cousin then told me that girls had no cock, but only a hole they piddled out of, we were always talking about them, but I don’t recollect the word cunt, nor that I attached any lewed idea to a girl’s piddling hole, or to their cocks being flat, an expression heard I think at the same period. It remained only in my mind that my cock and the girl’s hole were to piddle out of, and nothing more, I cannot be certain about my age at this time.

Afterwards I went to that uncle’s house often, my cousin Fred was to be put to school, and we talked a great deal more about girls’ cocks, which began to interest me much. He had never seen one, he said, but he knew that they had two holes, one for bogging and the other to piddle from. They sit down to piddle said he, they don’t piddle against a wall as we do, but that I must have known already, afterwards I felt very curious about the matter.

One day, one of his sisters left the room where we were sitting. “She is going to piddle,” he said to me. We sneaked into a bedroom of one of them one day and gravely looked into the pot to see what piddle was in it. Whether we expected to find any thing different from what there was in our own chamber pot I do not know. When talking about these things my cousin would twiddle his cock. We wondered how the piddle came out, if they wetted their legs and if the hole was near the bum hole, or where; one day Fred and I pissed against each other’s cocks, and thought it was excellent fun.

I recollect being very curious indeed about the way girls piddled after this, and seeing them piddle became a taste I have kept all my life. I would listen at the bed room doors, if I could get near them unobserved, when my mother, sister, the governess, or a servant went in, hoping to hear the rattle and often succeeded. It was accompanied by no sexual desire or idea, as far as I can recollect; I had no cock-stand, and am sure that I then did not know that the woman had a hole called a cunt and used it for fucking. I can recall no idea of the sort, it was simple curiosity to know something about those whom I instinctively felt were made different from myself. What sort of a hole could it be, I wondered? Was it large? Was it round? Why did they squat instead of stand up like men? My curiosity became intense.

How long after this the following took place I can’t say, but my cock was bigger. I have that impression very distinctly.

One day, there were people in one of the siting rooms; where my mother and father were I don’t know; they were not in the room, and were most likely out. There were one or two of my cousins, some youths, my big sister and one brother, besides others, our governess, and her sister, who was stopping with us, and sleeping in the same room with her. I recollect both going into the bed room together, it was next to mine. It was evening, we had sweet wine, cake, and snap-dragon, and played at something at which all sat in a circle on the floor. I was very ticklish, it nearly sent me into fits, we tickled each other on the floor. There was much fun, and noise, the governess tickled me, and I tickled her. She said as I was taken to bed, or rather went, as I then did by myself, “I’ll go and tickle you.” Now at that time, when I was in bed, a servant, or my mother, or the governess took away the light and closed the door; for I was still frightened to get into bed in the dark, and used to call out, “Mamma. I’m going to get in to bed.” Then they fetched the light, they wished to stop this timidity, often scolded me about it, and made me undress myself, by myself, to cure me of it.

I expect the other children had been put to bed. My mother keeping all the younger ones in the room near her. The nursery was also upstairs; my room, as said, was next to the governess.

When in bed, I called out for some one to put out the light, up came the governess and her sister. She began to tickle me, so did her sister, I laughed, screeched, and tried to tickle them. One of them closed the door and then came back to tickle me. I kicked all the clothes off and was nearly naked, I begged them to desist, felt their hands on my naked flesh, and am quite sure that one of them touched my prick more than once, though it might have been done accidentally. At last I wriggled off bed, my night-gown up to my armpits, and dropped with my naked bum on to the floor, whilst they tickled me still, and laughed at my wriggling about and yelling.

Then what induced me heaven alone knows; it may have been what I had heard about the piddling-hole of a woman, or curiosity, or instinct, I don’t know; but I caught hold of the governess’ leg as she was trying to get me up on to the bed again, saying, “That will do, my dear boy, get into bed, and let me take away the light.” I would not; the other lady helped to lift me, I pushed my hands up the petticoats of the governess, felt the hair of her cunt, and that there was something warm, and moist between her thighs. She let me drop on to the floor, and jumped away from me. I must have been clinging to her thigh, with both hands up her petticoats, and one between her thighs, she cried out loudly — “Oh!”

Then slap-slap-slap, in quick succession, came her hand against my head. “You ... rude ... bad ... boy,” said she, slapping me at each word. “I’ve a good mind to tell your mamma, get into bed this instant,” and into bed I got without a word. She blew out the light and left the room with her sister, leaving me in a dreadful funk. I scarcely knew that I had done wrong, yet had some vague notion that feeling about her thighs was punishable. The soft hairy place my hand had touched, impressed me with wonder, I kept thinking there was no cock there, and felt a sort of delight at what I had done.

I heard them then talking and laughing loudly thro the partition. “They are talking about me; oh, if they tell mamma, oh! what did I do it for?” Trembling with fear, I jumped out of bed, opened my door, and went to theirs, listening; theirs was ajar; I heard: “Right up between my thighs. I felt it! He must have felt it; ah! ah! ha! would you ever have thought the little beast would have done such a thing!” They both laughed heartily. “Did you see his little thing?” said one. “Shut the door, it’s not shut”; — breathless I got back to my room and into bed, and laying there heard them through the partition roaring with laughter again.

That is the first time in my life I recollect passing an all but sleepless night. The dread of being told about, and dread at what I had done, kept me awake. I heard the two women talking for a long time. Mixed with my dread was a wonder at the hair, and the soft, moist feel I had had for an instant on some part of my hand. I knew I had felt the hidden part of a female, where the piddle came from, and that is all I did think about it, that I know of, I have no recollection of a lewed sensation, but of a curious sort of delight only.

It must have been from this time, that my curiosity about the female form strengthened, but there was nothing sensual in it. I was fond of kissing, for my mother remarked it; when a female cousin, or any female, kissed me, I would throw my arms round her and keep on kissing. My aunts used to laugh, my mother corrected me and told me it was rude. I used to say to the servants, “Kiss me.” One day I heard my godfather say: “Walter knows a pretty girl from an ugly one doesn’t he?”

I had a dread of meeting the governess at breakfast, watched her and saw her laugh at her sister, I watched my mother for some days after, and at length said to the governess, who had punished me for something, “Don’t tell mamma.” “I have nothing to tell about, Walter,” she replied, “and don’t know what you mean.” I began to tell her what was on my mind. “What’s the child talking about? You are dreaming, some stupid boy has been putting things into your head, your papa will thrash you, if you talk like that.” “Why, you came and tickled me,” said I. “I tickled you a little when I put your light out,” said she, “be quiet.” I felt stupefied, and suppose the affair must have passed away from my mind for a time, but I told my cousin Fred about it afterwards. He thought I must have been dreaming, and I began to wonder if it really had occurred, I never thought much about it until I began to recall my childhood for this history.

I must have been twelve years old when I went to an uncle’s in Surrey and became a close friend of my cousin Fred, a very devil from his cradle, and of whom much more will be told: before then I had only seen him at intervals. We were then allowed, and it seems to me not before that time, to go out by ourselves. We talked boyish baudiness. “Ain’t you green,” said he, “a girl’s hole isn’t called a cock, it’s a cunt, they fuck with it,” and then he told me all he knew. I don’t think I had heard that before, but can’t be sure.

From that time a new train of ideas came into my head. I had a vague idea, though not a belief, that a cock and cunt were not made for pissing only. Fred treated me as a simpleton in these matters and was always calling me an ass; I had quite a painful recollection of my inferiority to him in such things, and of begging him to instruct me. “They make children that way,” said Fred. “You come up and we will ask the old nurse where children come from, and she’ll say ‘out of the parsley-bed,’ but it’s all a lie.” We went and asked her in a casual sort of way. She replied. “The parsley-bed,” and laughed. The nurse at my house told me the same when I asked her afterwards about my mother’s last baby. “Ain’t they liars?” Fred remarked to me. “It comes out of their cunts, and it’s made by fucking.”

We both desired to see women piddling, though both must have before seen them at it often enough. Walking near the market-town with him, just at the outskirts, and looking up a side-road, we saw a pedlar woman squat down and piss. We stopped short and looked at her: she was a shortpetticoated, thick-legged, middle-aged woman; the piss ran off in a copious stream, and there we stood grinning. “Be off, be off, what are you standing grinning at, yer damned young fools,” cried the woman. “Be off, or I’ll heave a stone at yer,” and she pissed on. We moved a few steps back, but, keeping our faces toward her, Fred stooped and put his head down. “I can see it coming,” said he jeeringly. He was rude from his infancy, bold in baudiness to the utmost, had the impudence of the Devil. The stream ceased, the woman rose up swearing, took up a big flint and threw it at us. “I’ll tell on yer,” she cried. “I knows yer, wait till I see yer again.” She had a large basket of crockery for sale, it was put down in the main-road at the angle; she had just turned round into the side lane to piss. We ran off, and, when well away, turned round and shouted at her. “I saw your cunt,” Fred bawled out; — she flung another stone. Fred took up one, threw it and it crashed into the crockery, the woman began to chase us, off we bolted across the fields home. She could not follow us that way; it was an eventful day for us. I recollect feeling full of envy at Fred’s having seen her cunt. Though writing now, and having in my mind’s eye exactly how the woman squatted, and the way her petticoats hung, I am sure he never did see it; it was brag when he said he had, but we were always talking about girls’ cunts, the desire to see one was great, and I then believed that he had seen the pedlar woman’s.

Then one of Fred’s companions shewed us a baudy picture, it was coloured. I wondered at the cunt being a long sort of gash. I had an idea it was round, like an arse-hole. Fred told his friend I was an ass, but I could not get the idea of a cunt not being a round hole quite out of my head, until I had fucked a woman. We were all anxious to get the picture, and tossed up for it, but neither I nor Fred got it, some other boy did.

Soon after that, Fred came to stop with us and our talk was always about women’s privates, our curiosity became intense. I had a little sister about nine months old, who was in the nursery. Fred incited me to look at her cunt, if I could manage it. The two nurses came down in turns, to the servants’ dinner, I was often in the nursery, and, soon after Fred’s suggestion, was there one day when the oldest nurse said: “Stop here, master Walter, while I go downstairs for a couple of minutes, Mary (the other nurse) will be up directly, and don’t make a noise.” My little sister was lying on the bed asleep. “Yes, I’ll wait.” Down went the nurse, leaving the door open; quick as lightning, I threw up the infant’s clothes, saw her little slit, and put my finger quite gently on it, she was laying on her back most conveniently. I pulled one leg away to see better, the child awakened and began crying, I heard footsteps and had barely time to pull down her clothes, when the under nursemaid came in. I only had had a momentary glimpse of the outside of the little quim, for I was not a minute in the room with the child by myself altogether and was fearful of being caught all the time I was looking.

There must have been something in my face, for the nursemaid said, “What is the matter, what have you been doing to the baby?” “Nothing.” “Yes, you are colouring up, now tell me.” “Nothing, I have done nothing.” “You wakened your sister.” “No, I have not.” The girl laid hold of me and gave me a little shake. “I’ll tell your mamma if you don’t tell me, what is it now?” “No, I have done nothing, I was looking out of the window when she began to cry.” “You’re telling a story, I see you are,” said the nursemaid; and off I went, after being impudent to her.

I told Fred, and he tried the same dodge, but don’t recollect whether he succeeded or not. His sisters were some of them older, and we began to scheme how to see their cunts, when I was on a visit to his mother’s (my aunt), which was to come off in the holidays. The look of the little child’s cunt, as I described it, convinced him that the picture was correct, and that a cunt was a long slit and not a round hole. That cast doubt on males putting their pricks into them, and we clung somehow to the idea of the round hole, and we quarrelled about it.

It must have been about this time that I was walking with my father and read something that was written in chalk on the walls. I asked him what it meant. He said he did not know, that none but low people, and blackguards wrote on walls; and it was not worth while noticing such things. I was conscious that I had done wrong somehow, but did not know exactly what. When I went out, which I was now allowed to do for short distances by myself, I copied what was on the walls, to tell Fred, it was foul, baudy language of some sort, but the only thing we understood at all, was the word cunt.

Just then being out with some boys, we saw two dogs fucking. I have no recollection of seeing dogs doing that before. We closed round them, yelling with delight as they stuck rump to rump, then one boy said that was what men and women did, and I asked, did they stick together so, a boy replied that they did; others denied it, and, all the remainder of the day, some of us discussed this; the impression left on my mind is that it appeared to me very nasty; but it seemed at the same time to confirm me in the belief that men put their pricks up into women’s holes, about which I seem at that time to have had grave doubts.

After this time my recollection of events is clearer, and I can tell not only what took place, but better what I heard, said, and thought.

CHAPTER II

My godfather.At Hampton-Court. — My aunt’s backside. — Public baths. — My cousins’ cunts.Haymaking frolics.Family difficulties.School amusements.A masturbating relative.Romance and sentiment.

 

My godfather (whose fortune I afterwards inherited) was very fond of me; somewhere about this time he used perpetually to be saying, “When you get to school, don’t you follow any of the tricks yourself that other boys do, or you will die in a mad-house; lots of boys do.” And he told me some horrible tales; it was done in a mysterious way. I felt there was a hidden meaning and, not having knowledge of what it was, asked him. I should know fast enough, said he, but mark his words. He repeated this so often that it sunk deeply into my mind, and made me uneasy, something was to happen to me, if I did something — I did not know what — it was intended as a caution against frigging, and it had good effect on me I am sure in various ways in the after time.

One day talking with Fred, I recollected what I had done to the governess. I had kept it to myself all along for fear. “What a lie,” said he. “I did really.” “Oh! ain’t you a liar,” he reiterated, “I’ll ask Mis Granger.” The same governess was with us then.

At this remark of his, an absolute terror came over me, the dread was something so terrible that the recollection of it is now painful. “Oh don‘t, pray, don’t, Fred,” I said, “oh, if Papa should hear!” He kept on saying he would. I was too young to see the improbability of his doing anything of the sort. “If you do, I’ll tell him what we did when the pedlar woman piddled.” He did not care. “Now, it’s a lie, isn’t it, you did not feel her cunt?” In fear, I confessed it was a lie. “I knew it was,” said Fred. He had kept me in a state of terror about the affair for days, till I told a lie to get quit of the subject.

I was evidently always secret, even then, about anything amorous, excepting with Fred (as will be seen), and have continued so all my life. I rarely bragged or told anyone of my doings; perhaps this little affair with the governess was a lesson to me, and confirmed me in a habit natural to me from my infancy. I have kept to myself everything I did with the opposite sex.

We now frequently examined our pricks, and Fred jeered me so about my prepuce being tight that I resolved no other boy should see it; and though I did not keep strictly to that intention, it left a deep-seated mortification on me. I used to look at my prick with a sense of shame and pull the prepuce up and down, as far as I could, constantly, to loosen it, and would treat other boys’ cocks in the same way, if they would let me, without expecting me to make a return; but the time was approaching when I was to learn much more.

One of my uncles, who lived in London, took a house in the country for the summer near Hampton-Court Palace. Fred and I went to stay there with him. There were several daughters and sons, the sons quite young. People then came down from London in vans, carts, and carriages of all sorts, to see the Palace and grounds (there was no railway), they were principally of the small middle classes, and used to picnic, or else dine, at the taverns when they arrived; then full, and frisky, after their early meal, go into the parks and gardens. They do so still, but times were different then, so few people went there comparatively, fewer park-keepers to look after them, ankles of what is called delicacy amongst visitors of the class named.

Our family party used to go into the grounds daily, and all day long nearly, if we were not on the river banks. Fred winked at me one day, “Let’s lose Bob,” said he, “and we’ll have such a lark.” Bob was one of our little cousins, generally given into our charge. We lost Bob purposely. Said Fred, “If you dodge the gardeners, creep up there, and lay on your belly quietly, some girls will be sure to come and piss, you’ll see them pull their clothes up as they turn round, I saw some before you came to stay with us.” So we went, pushing our way among shrubs and evergreens, till a gardener, who had seen us, called out, “You there, come back, if I catch you going off the walks, you’ll be put outside.” We were in such a funk, Fred cut off one way, I another, but it only stopped us for that day. Fred so excited me about the girls’ arses, as he called them, that we never lost an opportunity of trying for a sight, but were generally baulked. Once or twice only we saw a female squat down, but nothing more, till my mother and Fred’s came to stop with us.

Fred’s mother, mine, the girls, Fred and I went into the park gardens, one day after luncheon. A very hot day, for we kept on the shady walks, one of which led to the place where women hid themselves to piss. My aunt said, “Why don’t you boys go and play, you don’t mind the sun,” so off we went, but when about to leave the walk, turned round and saw the women had turned back. Said Fred, “I’m sure they are going to piss, that’s why they want to get rid of us.” We evaded the gardeners, scrambled through shrubs, on our knees, and at last on our bellies, up a little bank, on the other side of which was the vacant place on which dead leaves and sweepings were shot down. As we got there, pushing aside the leaves, we saw the big backside of a woman, who was half standing, half squatting, a stream of piss falling in front of her, and a big hairy gash, as it seemed, under her arse; but only for a second, she had just finished as we got the peep, let her clothes fall, tucked them between her legs, and half turning round. We saw it was Fred’s mother, my aunt. Off aunt went. “Isn’t it a wopper,” said Fred, “lay still, more of them will come.”

Two or three did; one said, “You watch if anyone is coming,” squatted and piddled, we could not see her cunt, but only part of her legs, and the piddle splashing in front of her. Then came the second, she had her arse towards us, sat so low that we could not even see the tips of her buttocks. Fred thought it a pity they did not stand half up like his mother. On other occasions, we went to the same place, but though I recollect seeing some females’ legs, don’t recollect seeing any more. Nevertheless the sights were very delightful to us, and we used to discuss his mother’s “wopper” and the hair, and the look of the gash, but I thought there must be some mistake, for it was not the idea I had formed of a cunt.

Fred soon after stopped with us in town, we had been forbidden to go out together without permission, but we did, and met a boy bigger than either of us, who was going to bathe. “Come and see them bathing,” he said. My father had refused to take me to the public baths. Disregarding this, Fred and I paid our six pence each, and in we went with our friend; we did not bathe, but amused ourselves with seeing others, and the pricks of the men. None, as far as I can recollect, wore drawers in those days, they used to walk about hiding their pricks generally with their hands, but not always. I was astonished at the size of some of them, and at the dark hair about them and on other parts of their bodies. I wondered also at seeing one or two, with the red tip shewing fully, so different from mine. All this was much talked over by us afterwards, it was to me an insight into the male make and form. Fred told me he had often seen men’s pricks in their fields, and in those days, living in the country as he did, I dare say it was true, but I don’t recollect ever having seen the pricks of full grown men, or a naked man, before in my life.

It must have been in the summer of that same year that I went after this to spend some days at my aunt’s at H***dfs***1***, Fred’s mother. We slept in the same room and sometimes got up quite at daybreak to go fishing. One morning Fred had left something in one of his sisters’ rooms, and went to fetch it, though forbidden to go into the girls’ bed-rooms. The room in question was opposite to ours. He was only partly dressed, and came back in a second, his face grinning. “Oh! come Wat, come softly. Lucy and Mary are quite naked, you can see their cunts, Lucy has some black hair on hers.” I was only half dressed, and much excited by the idea of seeing my cousins’ nudity. We both took off our slippers and crept along through the door half open, then went on our knees! but why we did so, to this day I don’t understand, and so crept to the foot of the bed, then raising ourselves, we both looked over the footboard.

Lucy, fifteen years old, was laying half on her side, naked from her knees to her waist, the bed-clothes kicked off (I suppose through heat), were dragging across her feet and partly laying on the floor; we saw her split, till lost in the closed thighs, she had a little dark short hair over the top of her cunt, and that is all I can recollect about it.

Mary-Ann by the side of her, a year younger only, laid on her back, naked up to her navel, just above which was her night-gown in a heap and ruck; she had scarcely a sign of hair on her cunt, but a vermillion line lay right through her crack. Projecting more towards the top, where her cunt began, she had what I now know was a strongly developed clitoris; she was a lovely girl and had long chestnut hair.

Whilst we looked she moved one leg up in a restless manner, and we bobbed down, thinking she -was awaking; when we looked again, her limbs were more open, and we saw the cunt till it was pinched up, by the closing of her buttocks. In fear of being caught, we soon crept out, closed the door ajar, and regained our bed-room, so delighted that we danced with joy as we talked about the look of the two cunts; of which after all we had only had a most partial, rapid glimpse.

Lucy was a very plain girl, and was so as a woman. She had, I recollect, a very red bloated looking face as she lay (it was so hot); she it was, who in after-life my mother cautioned about leaving her infant son to a nursemaid.

Mary-Ann was lovely. I used afterwards to look and talk with her, thinking to myself: “Ah! you have but little idea, that I have seen your cunt.” She was unfortunate; married a cavalry officer, went to India with him, was left at a station unavoidably by her husband, who was sent on a campaign, for a whole year; could not bear being deprived a cock, and was caught in the act of fucking with a drummer boy, a mere lad. She was separated from him, came back to England, and drank herself to death. She was a salacious young woman, I think, from what I recollect of her, and am told was afterwards fucked by a lot of men; but it was a sore point with the family, and all about her was kept quiet.

One of Lucy’s sons, in after years, I saw fucking a maid in a summer-house: both standing up against a big table; I was on the roof. Many years before that I fucked a nursemaid, she laying on that table in the very same summer-house, as I shall presently tell.

Fred and I used to discuss the look of his sisters’ and mother’s cunts, as if they had belonged to strangers. The redness of the line in Mary-Ann’s quim astonished us. I do not recollect having even then formed any definite notion of what a girl’s cunt was, though we had seen the splits, but had still, and till much further on, the notion that the hole was round, and close to where the clitoris is, having no idea then of what a clitoris was, though we had got an Aristotle and used to read it greedily; the glimpses of the two cunts were but momentary, and our excitement confused our recollections.

Fred and I then formed a plot to look at another girl’s cunt; who the girl was I don’t know, it may have been another of Fred’s sisters, or a cousin by another of my aunts, but I think not; at all events, she was stopping in aunt’s house, and from her height, which was less than that of Fred and myself, I should think a girl of about eleven or twelve years of age. I scrupulously avoid stating anything positively unless quite certain. Some years afterwards when we were very young men, we did the same thing with a female cousin (but not his sister), as I shall tell.

There was haymaking. We romped with the girl, buried each other in hay, pulled each other out, and so on. I was buried in the hay and dragged out by my legs by Fred and the girl. Then Fred was; then we buried the girl, and as Fred pulled her out he threw up her clothes, I lay over her head, which was covered with hay. Fred saw, winked, and nodded. It came to my turn again to be buried, and then hers; I laid hold of her legs and pulling them from under the hay, saw her thighs, I pushed her knees up, and had a glimpse of the slit, which was quite hairless. My aunt and others were in the very field, but had no idea of the game we were playing, the girl romping with us had no idea that we were looking at her cunt, and an instantaneous peep only it was.

What effect sensuously these glimpses of cunt had on me, I don’t know; but have no recollection of sexual desire, nor of mine nor Fred’s cock being stiff. I expect that what with games and our studies, that, after all, the time we devoted to thinking about women was not long, and curiosity our sole motive in doing what we did. I clearly recollect our talking at that time about fucking, and wondering if it were true or a lie. We could repeat what we had read and heard, but it still seemed improbable to me that a cock should go up a cunt, and the result be a child.

Then a passionate liking for females came over me; I fell in a sort of love with a lady who must have been forty, and had a sad feeling about her, that is all I recollect. Then I began to follow servants about, in the hope of seeing their legs or seeing them piddle, or for some undefined object: but that I was always looking after them I know very well.

Then (I know now) my father got into difficulties, we moved into a smaller house, the governess went away, I was sent to another school, one of my brothers and sisters died; my father went abroad to look after some plantations, and after a year’s absence came back and died, leaving my mother in what, compared with our former condition, were poor circumstances, but this in due course will be more fully told.

I think I went to school, though not long before what I am going to tell of happened, but am not certain; if so, I must have seen boys frigging; yet as far as I can arrange in my mind the order of events, I first saw a boy doing that, in my own bed-room at home.

I was somewhere, I suppose, about thirteen years of age when a distant relative came from the country to stay with us, until he was put to some great school. He was the son of a clergyman, and must have been fifteen, or perhaps sixteen, years old, and was strongly pitted with the small-pox. I had never seen him before and took a strong dislike to him; the family were poor, this boy was intended for a clergyman. I was excessively annoyed, that he was to sleep with me, but in our small house there was just then no other place for him.

How many nights he slept in my bed I don’t recollect, it can have been but few. One evening in bed he felt my prick; repulsing him at first, I nevertheless afterwards felt his, and recollect our hands crossing each other and our thighs being close together. Awakening one morning, I felt his belly up against my rump, and his feeling or pushing his prick against my arse, putting my hand back, I pushed him away; then I found it pushing quickly backwards and forwards between my thighs, and his hand, passed over my hips, was grasping my cock. Turning round, I faced him; he asked me to turn round again, and said I might do it to him afterwards, but nothing more was done. An unpleasant feeling about sleeping with him is in my memory, but as said, I disliked him.

The next night, undressing, he showed me his prick stiff, as he sat naked on a chair; it was an exceedingly long but thin article; he told me about frigging, and said he would frig me, if I would frig him. He commenced moving his hand quickly up and down on his prick, which got stiffer and stiffer, he jerked up one leg, then the other, shut his eyes, and altogether looked so strange that I thought he was going to have a fit, then out spurted little pasty lumps, whilst he snorted, as some people do in their sleep, and fell back in the chair with his eyes closed; then I saw stuff running thinner over his knuckles. I was strangely fascinated as I looked at him, and at what was on the carpet, but half thought he was ill; he then told me it was great pleasure, and was eloquent about it. Even now, as it did then, the evening seemed to me a nasty, unpleasant one, yet I let him get hold of my prick and frig it, but had no sensation of pleasure, He said, “Your skin won’t come off, what a funny prick”; that annoyed me, and I would not let him do more, we talked till our candle burnt out; he stamped out the sperm on the carpet, saying the servants would think we had been spitting. Then we got into bed.

Afterwards he frigged himself several times before me, and at his request I frigged him, wondering at the result, and amused, yet at the same time much disgusted. When frigging him one day, he said it was lovely to do it in an arse-hole, that he and his brother took it in turns that way: it was lovely, heavenly! would I let him do it to me. In my innocence I told him it was impossible, and that I thought him a liar. He soon left us and went to college. I saw him once or twice after this, in later years, but at a very early age he drowned himself. I told my cousin Fred about this when I saw him; Fred believed in the frigging, but thought him a liar about the arse-hole business, just as I did. This was the first time I ever saw frigging and male semen, and it opened my eyes.

Though now at a public school, I was shy and reserved, but greedily listened to all the lewed talk, of which I did not believe a great deal. I became one of a group of boys of the same tastes as myself. One day some of them coaxed me into a privy, and there, in spite of me, pulled out my cock, threw me down, held me, and each one spat upon it, and that initiated me into their society. They had what they called cocks-all-round: anyone admitted to the set was entitled to feel the others’ cocks. I felt theirs, but again, to my mortification, the tightness of my prepuce caused jeering at me; I was glad to hear that there was another boy at the school in the same predicament, though I never saw his. This confirmed me in avoiding my companions, when they were playing at cocks-all-round; being a day scholar only, I was not forced at all times into their intimacy, as I should have been had I been a boarder.

We had a very large playground; beyond it were fields, orchards, and walks of large extent reserved for the use of the two head-masters’ families, many of whom were girls. On Saturday half-holidays only, if the fruit was not ripe, we were allowed to range certain fields, and the long bough-covered paths which surrounded them. Two or three boys of my set told me mysteriously one afternoon that when the others had gone ahead we were to meet in the playground privy, in which were seats for three boys of a row, and I was. to be initiated into a secret without my asking. I was surprised at what took place, there was usually an usher in the playground in play-hours, and if boys were too long at the privy, he went there, and made them come out. On the Saturdays, he went out with the boys into the fields: there was no door to the privy; I should add, it was a largish building.

One by one, from different directions, some dodging among trees which bordered one side of the playground, appeared boys. I think there were five or six together in the privy, then it was cocks-all-round, and every boy frigged himself. I would not, at first. Why? I don’t know. At length incited, I tried, my cock would not stand, and vexed and mortified, I withdrew, after swearing not to split on them, on pain of being kicked and cut. I don’t think I was one of the party again, though I saw each of the same boys frig himself in the privy when alone with me, at some time or another.

After this a boy asked me to come to a privy with him in school time, and he would show me how to do it. Only two boys were allowed to go to those closets at the same time, during school time. There were two wooden logs with keys hung up on the wall by string: A boy, if he wanted to ease himself, looked to see if a log and key was hanging up, and if there was, stood out in the centre of the room; by that the master understood what he wanted. If he nodded, the boy took the key and went to the bog-house (no water-closets then), and when he returned, he hung up the log in its place. Those privies were close together, and separate, there were but two of them.

You wait till there are two logs hanging up, and directly I get one, you get up and come after me. Soon we were both in one privy together. “Let’s frig,” said he; we were only allowed to be away five minutes. Out he pulled his prick, then out I pulled mine; he tried to pull my skin back, and could only half do it, he frigged himself successfully, but I could not. He had a very small prick compared with mine. How I envied him the ease with which he covered and uncovered the red tip. I frigged that boy one day, but finding my cock was becoming a talk among our set, I shrunk from going to their frigging parties, which I have seen even take place in a field, boys sitting at the edge of a ditch whilst one stood up to watch if anyone approached. When they were frigging in the privy, a boy always stood in the open door on the watch, and his time for frigging came afterwards. With this set I began to look through the Bible and study all the carnal passages; no book ever gave us perhaps such prolonged, studious, baudy amusement; we could not understand much, but guessed a good deal.

Before I had seen anyone frig, I had been permitted to read novels, not a moment of my time when not at studies was I without one. My father used to select them for me at first, but soon left me to myself, and, now he was dead, I devoured what books I liked, hunting for the love passages, thinking of the beauty of the women, reading over and over again the description of their charms, and envying their lovers’ meetings. I used to stop at print-shop windows and gaze with delight at the portraits of pretty women, and bought some at six pence each, and stuck them into a scrapbook. Although a big fellow for my age, I would sit on the lap of any woman who would let me, and kiss her. My mother in her innocence called me a great girl, but she nevertheless forbade it. I was passionately fond of dancing and annoyed when they indicated a girl of my own age, or younger, to dance with.

These feelings got intensified when I thought of my aunt’s backside, and the cunts of my cousins, but when I thought of the heroines, it seemed strange that such beautiful creatures should have any. The cunt which seemed to have affected my imagination was that of my aunt, which appeared more like a great parting, or division of her body, than a cunt as I then understood it; as if her buttock parting was continued round towards her belly, and as unlike the young cunts I had seen as possible. Those seemed to me but little indents. That the delicate ladies of the novels should have such divisions seemed curious, ugly, and unromantic. My sensuous temperament was developing, I saw females in all their poetry and beauty, but suppose that my physical forces had not kept pace with my brain, for I have no recollection of a cockstand when thinking about ladies; and fucking never entered into my mind, either when I read novels or kissed women, though the pleasure I had when my lips met theirs, or touched their smooth, soft cheeks, was great. I recollect the delight it gave me perfectly.

After having seen frigging, it set me reflecting, but it still seemed to me impossible, that delicate, handsome ladies, should allow pricks to be thrust up them, and nasty stuff ejected into them. I read Aristotle, tried to understand it, and thought I did, with the help of much talk with my schoolfellows; yet I only half believed it. Dogs fucking were pointed out to me; then cocks treading hens, and at last a fuller belief came.

I began then, I recollect, to think of their cunts.when I kissed women, and then of my aunt’s; I could not keep my eyes off of her, for thinking of her large backside and the gap between her thighs; it was the same with my cousins. Then I began to have cock-stands and suppose a pleasurable feeling about the machine, though I do not recollect that. I then found out that servants were fair game, and soon there was not one in the house whom I had not kissed. I had a soft voice and have heard an insinuating way, was timorous, feared repulse, and above all being found out; yet I succeeded. Some of the servants must have liked it, who called me a foolish boy at first; for they would stop with me on a landing, or in a room, when we were alone, and let me kiss them for a minute together. There was one, I recollect, who rubbed her lips into mine, till I felt them on my teeth, but of what she was like I have no recollection, and I did not like her doing that to me.

My curiosity became stronger, I got bolder, told servants I meant to see them wash themselves, and used to wait inside my bed-room till I heard one of them come up to dress. I knew the time each usually went to her bed-room for that purpose, the person most in my way was the nurse: she after a time left, and mother nursed her own children. “Let’s see your neck; do, there is a dear,” I would say. “Nonsense, what next?” “Do, dear, there is no harm; I only want to see as much as ladies show at balls.” I wheedled one to stand at the door in her petticoats and show her neck across the bedroom lobby. The stays were high and queerly made in those days, the chemises pulled over the top of them like flaps. One or two let me kiss their necks, a girl one day said to my entreaties, “Well, only for a minute”; and easing up one breast, she showed me the nipple, I threw my arms round her, buried my face in her neck and kissed it. “I like the smell of your breast and flesh,” said I. She was a biggish woman, and I dare say I smelt breasts and armpits together; but whatever the compound, it was delicious to me, it seemed to enervate me. The same woman, when I kissed her on the sly afterwards, let me put my nose down her neck to smell her. We were interrupted, “Here is some one coming,” said she, moving away.

“What makes ladies smell so nice?” said I to my mother one day. My mother put down her work and laughed to herself. “I don’t know that they smell nice.” “Yes, they do, and particularly when they have low dresses on.” “Ladies,” said mother, “use patchouli and other perfumes.” I supposed so, but felt convinced from mother’s manner that I had asked a question which embarrassed her.

I used to lean over the backs of the chairs of ladies, get my face as near to their necks as I could, quietly inhale their odours, and talk all the time. Not every woman smelt nice to me, and when they did, it was not patchouli, for I got patchouli, which I liked, and perfumed myself with it. This delicate sense of the smell of a woman I have had throughout life, it was ravishing to me afterwards when I embraced the naked body of a fresh, healthy young woman.

From about this time of my life I recollect striking events much more clearly, yet the circumstances which led up to them or succeeded them I often cannot. One day Miss Granger, our former governess, came to see us. I kissed her. Mother said: “Wattie, you must not kiss ladies in that way, you are too big.” I sat Miss Granger on my lap in fun (my mother then in the room), and romped with her. Mother left us in the room, and then, seating Miss Granger on my lap again, I pulled her closely to me. “Kiss me, she’s gone,” I said. “Oh! what a boy,” and she kissed me, saying, “Let me — go — now — your mamma is coming.” It came into my mind that I had had my hand up her clothes, and had felt hair between her legs. My prick stiffened; it is the first distinct recollection of its stiffening in thinking of a woman. I clutched her hard, put one hand on to her and did something, I know not what. She said: “You are rude, Wattie.” Then I pinched her and said: “Oh! what a big bosom you have.” “Hish! hish!” said she. She was a tallish woman with brown hair; I have heard my mother say she was about thirty years of age.

A memorable episode then occurred. There were two sisters, with other female servants, in our house. My father was abroad at that time; I was growing so rapidly that every month they could see a difference in my height, but was very weak. My godfather used to look at me and severely ask if I was up to tricks with the boys. I guessed then what he meant, but always said I did not know what he meant. “Yes, you do; yes, you do,” he would say, staring hard at me, “you take care, or you’ll die in a mad-house, if you do, and I shall know by your face, not a farthing more will I give you.” He had been a surgeon-major in the Army, and gave me much pocket-money. I could not bear his looking at me so; he would ask me why I turned down my eyes.

About this time, I had had a fever, had not been to school for a long time, and used to lie on the sofa reading novels all day. Miss Granger had come to stop with my mother. One day I put my hand up her clothes, nearly to her knees; that offended her, and she left off kissing me. One of my little sisters slept with her, in a room adjoining my mother’s room; I slept now on the servants’ floor, at the top of the house. Again I recollect my cock standing when near Miss Granger, but recollect nothing else.

I was then ordered by my mother to cease speaking to the servants, excepting when I wanted anything, though I am sure my mother never suspected my kissing one. I obeyed her hypocritically, and was even at times reprimanded for speaking to them in too imperious a tone. She told me to speak to servants respectfully. For all that, I was after them, my curiosity was unsatiable, I knew the time each went up to dress, or for other purposes, and if at home, would get into the lobby, or near the staircase, to see their legs, as they went upstairs. I would listen at their door, trying to hear them piss, and began for the first time to peep through keyholes at them.

CHAPTER III

A big servant. — Two sisters. — Armpits. — A quiet feel. — Baudy reveries. — Felt by a woman. — Erections. — My prepuce.Seeing and feeling. Aunt and cousin. — A servant’s thighs. — Not man enough.

 

A big servant, of whom I shall say much, had most of my attention; she went to her room usually when my mother was taking a nap in the afternoon; or when out with my sisters and brother. When I was ill in bed, this big woman usually brought me beef-tea; I used to make her kiss me, and felt so fond of her, would throw my arms round her, and hold her to me, keeping my lips to hers and saying how I should like to see her breasts; to all which she replied in the softest voice, as if I were a baby. I wonder now if my homage gave the big woman pleasure, or my amatory pressures made her ever feel randy. She was engaged to be married, but I only heard that at a later day, when my mother talked about her; her sister was also with us, as already said.

The sister was handsome, according to my notions then (I now begin to remember faces clearly); both had bright, clear complexions. I kissed both, each used to say, “Don’t tell my sister,” and ask, “Have you kissed my sister?” I was naturally cunning about women, and always said I had done nothing of the sort. The two were always quarrelling, and my mother said she must get rid of one of them.

The youngest was often dancing my little sister round in the room, then swinging herself round, and making cheeses with her petticoats. As I got better, I would lay on the rug with a pillow, and my back to the light reading, and say it rested me better to be on the floor, but in hope of seeing her legs as she made cheeses. I often did, and have no doubt now that she meant me to do so, for she would swing round, quite close to my head so that I could see to her knees, and make her petticoat’s edge, as she squatted, just cover my head, immediately snatching her petticoats back and saying: “Oh! you’ll see more than is good for you.”

It used to excite me. One day as she did it, and squatted, I put out my hand and pulled her clothes, she rolled on to her back, threw up her legs quite high, and for a second I saw her thighs; she recovered herself, laughing. “I saw your thighs,” said I. “That you didn’t.” One day she let me put my hand into her bosom; I sniffed. “What’s there to smell?” said she. I have some idea that she used to watch me closely when I was with her sister, as she was always looking after her, and before she kissed me would open the door suddenly or go out of the room and then return. I’ve seen the other sister just outside the door of the room, when suddenly opened.

The big sister must have been five feet nine high, and large in proportion; the impression on my mind is that she was two and twenty: that age dwells in my recollection, and that my mother remarked it. She had brown hair and eyes, I recollect well the features of the woman. Her lower lip was like a cherry, having a distinct cut down the middle, caused she said by the bite of a parrot, which nearly severed her lip when a girl. This feature I recollect more clearly than anything else. My mother remarked that, though so big, she was lighter in tread than anyone in the house, her voice was so soft; it was like a whisper or a flute, her name was I think Betsy.

I had none of the dash, and determination towards females, which I had in after life; was hesitating, fearful of being repulsed or found out, but was coaxing and wheedling. Betsy used to take charge of my two little sisters (there was no regular nursery then), and used to sit with them in a room adjoining our dining room; it had a settee and a large sofa in it, we usually breakfasted there. She waited also at table, and did miscellaneous work. I am pretty certain that we had then no man in the house. I used to lie down on the sofa in this room. One day I talked with her about her lip, put my head up and said: “Do let me kiss it.” She put her lips to mine, and soon after, if I was not kissing her sister, I was kissing her regularly, when my mother was out of the way.

One day when she went up to her bed-room, I went softly after her, as I often did, hoping to hear her piddling. Her door was ajar, one of my little sisters was in the room with her, I expect I must have had incipient randiness on me. She taught the child to walk up stairs in front of her, holding her up, and in stooping to do so, I had glimpses of her fat calves. At the door, I could not see her wash, that was done at the other side of the room, but I heard the splash of water and, to my delight, the pot moved, and her piddle rattle. The looking-glass was near the window. Then she moved to the glass and brushed her hair, her gown off, and now I saw her legs, and most of her breast, which looked to me enormous.

Then I noticed hair in her armpits; it must have been the first time I noticed any thing of the sort, for I told a boy afterwards, that brown women had hair under their armpits; he said every fool knew that. When she had done brushing, she turned round, and passing the door, shut it: she had not seen me.

I fell in love with this woman, an undefined want took possession of me, I was always kissing her, and she returned it without hesitation. “Hush! your mamma’s coming”; then she would work, or do something with the children if there, as demurely as possible. I declare positively as I write this that I believe I gave that woman a lewed pleasure in kissing me, her kisses were so much like those I have had from women I have fucked in after years, so long, and soft, and squeezing.

One day I was in the sitting-room laying on the sofa reading, she sitting and working; where the children were, where my mother was, I can’t say: they must have been out; why this servant was in the room with me alone, I don’t know. On a table was something the doctor had ordered me to sip from time to time. “Come and sit near me, I like to touch you, dear” (I used to say “dear” to her). She drew her chair to the sofa, so that her thighs were near my head, she handed me my medicine, I turned on one side, put my head on her lap, and then my hand on her knee. “Kiss me.” “I can’t.” I moved my head up and she bent forward and kissed. “Keep your face to mine, I want to tell you something.” Then I told her I had seen her brushing her hair, her breasts, her armpits. “Oh! you sly boy! you naughty boy! you must not do it again, will you?” “Won’t I, if I get the chance; put your head down, I’ve something more to tell you.” “What?” “I can’t if you look at me; put your ear to my mouth.” I was longing to tell her, and could not do it whilst she looked at me. I recollect my bashfulness perfectly, and more than that, my fear of saying what I wanted to say.

She bent her ear to my mouth. “I heard you piddle.” “Oh! you naughty!” and she burst into a quiet laugh. “I’ll take care to shut the door in future.” I let my hand drop by the side of the sofa, laid hold of her ankle, then the calf of her leg (without resistance); then up I slid it gently, and gradually above her garter, and felt the flesh; she was threading a needle. As I touched the thigh, she pressed both hands down on to her thighs, barring further investigation. “Now, Wattie, you’re taking too much liberty, because I’ve let you feel my ankles.” I whined, I moaned. “Oh, do, dear, do, kiss me dear; only for a minute.” I tried very gently to push my hand (it was my left hand) further. “What do you want?” “I want to feel it, oh! kiss me — let me, — do, — Betsy, do,” and I raised my head.

Sitting bent forward towards me as I lay, until she was nearly double, she put her lips to mine and, kissing me, said: “What a rude boy you are, what do you expect to find?” “I know what it’s called, and it’s hairy, isn’t it, dear?” Her hands relaxed, she laughed, my left hand slid up, until I felt the bottom of her belly. I could only twiddle my fingers in the hair, could feel no split, or hole, was too excited to think, too ignorant of the nature of the female article; but of the intense delight I felt at the touch of the warm thighs, and the hair, which now I knew as outside the cunt, somewhere, I recollect my delight perfectly.

She kept on kissing me, saying in a whisper, “What a rude boy you are.” Then I whispered modestly, all I had read, told of the Aristotle I had hidden in my cupboard, and she asked me to lend her the book. I touched nothing but hair, her thighs must have been quite closed, and a big stay-bone dug into my hand and hurt it, as I moved it about. I have felt that obstacle to my enterprise in years later on, with other women.

Then came over me a voluptuous sensation, as if I was fainting with pleasure, I seem to have a dream of her lips meeting mine, of her saying oh! for shame! of the tips of my fingers entangling in hair, of the warmth of the flesh of her thighs upon my hand, of a sense of moisture on it, but I recollect nothing more distinctly.

Afterwards she seems to have absorbed me. I ceased speaking to her sister, and could think of nothing but her neck, legs and the hair at the bottom of her belly. I was several times in the same room with her, and was permitted the same liberties, but no others. I lent her Aristotle, which I had borrowed, and one day recollect my prick stiffening, and a strange overwhelming, utterly indescribable feeling coming over me, of my desire to say to her “cunt,” and to make her feel me, and at the same time a fear and a dread overtook me, that my cock was not like other cocks, and that she might laugh at me. After that, I used to pull the skin down violently every day, I bled, but succeeded; it became slightly easier to do so, yet I have no recollection of having a desire to fuck that woman, all that I recollect of my sensations I have here described.

I was still ill, for there was brought me to my bed at nights a cup of arrowroot. My mother usually did this, but sometimes the big woman did; I was so glad when my mother did not. Then I would kiss her as if I never wanted to part with her, but my hand out of bed, scramble it up her clothes, till I could feel the hair. Then she would jut her bum back, so that I could not touch more. One night my prick stood, “Take the light outside,” I said, “I’ve something to say to you.” The door was half open when she had complied; the gleam of the light struck across the room, my bed was in the shade, “Do let me feel you further, dear and kiss me.” “You naughty boy!” but we kissed. Again I felt her thighs, belly, and hair. “What good does it do you, doing that,” she said. I took hold of her hand, and put it under the bed-clothes on to my prick. She bent over me, kissing and saying, “Naughty boy,” but feeling the cock, and all around it, how long, I can’t say, “Oh! I’d like to feel your hole,” I said. “Hish!” said she, going out of the room, and closing the door.

She felt me several times afterwards. When my mother brought me the arrowroot, she having an idea that I liked her to do so, I would not take it, saying it was too hot. She said, “I can’t wait, Wattie, while it cools.” “Don’t care, mamma, I don’t want it.” “But you must take it.” “Put it down then.” “Well, don’t go to sleep, and I’ll send Betsy up with it in a few minutes.” Up Betsy would come, and quickly and voluptuously kissing, keeping her lips on mine for two or three minutes at a time, she would glide her hand down and feel my cock, whilst my fingers were on her motte, her thighs closed, then she would glide out of the room. I never got my hand between her thighs, I am sure.

I used to long to talk to her about all I had heard, but don’t think I ever did more than I have told, for I had a fear about using baudy words to a woman, though I already used them freely enough among boys. I used to talk only of her hole, my thing, of doing it, and so forth; but what made her laugh was my calling it pudendum, a word I had got out of Aristotle and my Latin dictionary. In spite of all this, and of the voluptuous sensations which used to creep over me, I have no clear, defined, recollection of wishing to fuck her, nor did I ever say anything smutty, if I could see her face.

I got better. Then she refused either to feel me, or let me feel her, on account of my boldness. One day, just at dusk, she was closing the dining-room shutters, I went behind her, and after pulling her head back to kiss me, stooped and pulled up her clothes to her waist; it exposed her entire backside. Oh how white and huge it seemed to me. She moved quickly round not holloring out but saying quietly: “What are you doing? Don’t, now!” As she turned round, so did I, gloating over her bum, then laid both hands on it, slid them round her thighs, and rapidly kneeling down, put my lips on to the flesh, her petticoats fell over my head. She dislodged me, saying she would never speak with me again. She never either felt me or permitted me any liberties afterwards, and soon left. One or two years after that, she came to see my mother with her baby. She smiled at me. I don’t recollect what became of her sister, but think she soon left us also.

My physique could not then have been strong, nor my sexual organs in finished condition, because I am sure that up to that time, I had not had a spend; perhaps my growing fast and the fever may have had something to do with it. My father came home broken-hearted I have heard, and ill. Soon after we only kept two female servants, a man outside the house, and a gardener. Father was ordered to the sea-side, my mother went with him, taking the children and one servant (all went by coach then). One of father’s sisters, my aunt, a widow, came to take charge of our new house, and brought her daughter, a fair, slim girl, about sixteen years old.

I remained at home, so as to go to school; the servant left in the house was a pleasant, plump young woman, dark haired, and was always laughing; she was to do all the work. My godfather, who lived a mile or two away from us and whose maiden sister kept house for him, was to see me frequently, and did so till I was sick of him. Every half-holiday, he made me spend with him in walking, and riding; he insisted on my boating, cricketting, and keeping at athletic games when not at my studies. The old doctor I expect guessed my temperament, and thought, by thoroughly occupying and fatiguing me, to prevent erotic thoughts. He wanted me to stay at his house, but I refused, and it being a longer way from school, it was not persisted in.

My aunt slept in my parents’ bed-room, my cousin in the next room. I was taken down, during my parents’ absence, from the upper floor to sleep on the same floor as my aunt. They had not been in the house a week before I had heard my cousin piddle, and stood listening outside her bed-room door, night after night, in my bed-gown, trying to get a glimpse of her charms through the keyhole, but was not successful.

I made up to the servant, beginning when she was kneeling, by putting myself astride on her back. It made her laugh, she gave her back a buck up, and threw me over; then I kissed her, and she kissed me. She and my aunt quarrelled, my aunt was very poor and proud, and wanted a hot dinner at seven o’clock, I my dinner in the middle of the day. The servant said she could not do it all. The girl said quietly to me, “I’ll cook for you, don’t you go without, let her do without anything hot at night.” She did not like her. My aunt said she was saucy and would write to my mother and complain that she wasted her time with the gardener. Godfather then renewed his offer for me to stay with him, but I would not, for I was getting on very comfortably with the servant in kissing, and things settled themselves somehow. I learnt the ways of my aunt, and tried to get home when she was out, so as to be alone with the servant; but to escape both aunt and godfather was difficult. I did so at times by saying I was going out with the boys somewhere, on my half-holidays, or something of the sort, but was rarely successful.

The servant went to her bed-room, one afternoon; with palpitating heart I followed her, and pushed her on to the bed. She was a cheeky, chaffing, woman, and I guess knew better than I did, what I was about. I recollect her falling back on to the bed, and showing to her knees. “Oh! what legs!” said I, “Nothing to be ashamed of,” said she. Whatever my wishes or intentions might have been, I went no further. My relations were of course out.

Meet the Author

My Secret Life is by far the most famous and the longest sexual autobiography written in the nineteenth century. It has in it invaluable material for social and cultural historians, literary scholars, students of manners and morals—and it has more of what we might call ‘encounters’ than any narrative ever penned in English.”
—From the Introduction by James Kincaid
 
The anonymous author of My Secret Life has never been identified. Rumors have suggested he was a prominent scholar, the eccentric son of an earl, even a titled woman. All we do know is evident in the text: He was raised by servants and educated at a good boarding school. His young adulthood was spent not in learning a trade, but in exploring the world of sex and recording every encounter.
 
James Kincaid is Aerol Arnold Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture, as well as books on Dickens, Trollope, and Tennyson.
 
Paul Sawyer is George Reed Professor of Writing and Rhetoric and Director of the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University. The author of Ruskin’s Poetic Argument: The Design of the Major Works, he is a noted scholar of the Victorian age.

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My Secret Life 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one hot book; a seemingly endless series of trysts and liasons engaged in by the author, known as 'Walter' as he progresses through Victorian England and the continent of Europe in search of the perfect lay. No need to hunt for the good parts. The whole book is good parts. What makes this work especially enthralling is the fact that the author has a masterful ear and eye for detail, both in his innumerable female friends, as well as for his own reactions. The throbbing eroticism of 'amateur' videos lies in the excitement of seeing real people 'going at it,' and that is the power of this work. This is not the life of a saint, and the author makes no such claims. Indeed parts of this work would qualify the author as a pervert, and probably even a criminal, by today's values and sensibilities. But the book is an erotic masterpiece. This man worships sex and loves its infinite variety. His detail is a voyeur's delight, and proof positive that when it comes to the raw, spiritual, delicious, animal delight of men and women hitting the sheets to get hot and sweaty together, there is nothing new under the sun.
Curt Kapus More than 1 year ago
Love this book, but when I purchased it on my Nook there was no mention that it only includes Volumes 1-3 instead of all 11 volumes of other versions on BN. Now I have to spend another $8 to get the whole book. Had I known this from the start I would have never purchased this version.
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humm very yummmy read.
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