Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

A Constitutional Inclination

NOTE: The following brief excerpt from a biography of a leader in the Societies for the Reformation of Manners is interesting in demonstrating that homosexuality could be thought of as being a "constitutional" sexual orientation long before the notion of "congenital inversion" was theorized in late nineteenth-century sexology.

. . . THUS have I given you a short Sketch of his Principles, and his Practice, his Writings and his Religion: Nor were his Morals, or Behaviour, either in civil or social Life, any ways abhorrent from his other Character. It would have been incompatible, you iknow, with that of a Reformer, and subversive of his own Scheme, for him to have been notorious for any vicious Habit. But then his much boasted Virtues were merely NEGATIVE, in which he appeared no ways superior to the rest of his Fraternity, and vastly inferior to Numbers, that might be mentioned; i.e. if unfeigned, they were purely moral, not evangelical, such as Thousands of the Heathen World excelled him in. E.G. He was no Debauchee, we'll say, either as to Women or Wine; He had no Vicious Taste for the One, no Taste at all for the Other. Some Virtues, as well as some Vices, are constitutional. I have heard a Reverend Vicar of a neighbouring Town, whose Clark had more than once adorned its Pillory for Sodomitical Practices, declare often, that he never had the least Inclination to a Woman [p.41] in his Life, though then near Seventy; and some Folk will pronounce as strong an Aversion to Wine, or other good Liquors. That these People "kept their Bodies in Temperance, Soberness, and Chastity," was very well; but surely no great Virtue in either, any more than it would be in me, or another Man, to abstain from Parmesan, to which we have a like natural Antipathy. Here were no Temptations to struggle with, no difficulties to encounter, no Desires to be curbed, no Passions to be subdued, no Mortification or Self-Denial, nor Triumphs of Grace over Nature: But the Bias of Inclination drew strongly the other Way; and a Man must be very much in Love with the Devil, that will make his Life uncomfortable here, for the Sake of enjoying his Company hereafter. [p.42]

SOURCE: Joseph Horler, Memoirs of Mr. Thomas Chubb, Late of Salisbury, London, 1747, pp. 42-42.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "A Constitutional Inclination," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 19 April 2010 <>.

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