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

The Game of Flats


Of the Game of Flatts.

I am credibly informed, in order to render the Scheme of Iniquity still more extensive amongst us, a new and most abominable Vice has got footing among the W[ome]n of Q[ualit]y, by some call'd the Game of Flats; however incredible this may appear to some People, I shall mention a Story from an Author of very great Credit, applicable to the Matter, who, speaking of the Turks, says,

A Turke hates bodily Filthiness and Nastiness, worse than Soul-Defilement; and, therefore, they wash very often, and they never ease themselves, by going to Stool, but they carry Water with them for their Posteriors. But ordinarily the Women bathe by themselves, bond and free together; so that you shall many Times see young Maids, exceeding beautiful, gathered from all Parts of the World, exposed naked to the View of other Women, who thereupon falll in Love with them, as young Men do with us, at the Sight of Virgins.

By this you may guess, what the strict Watch over Females comes to, and that it is not enough to avoid the Company of an adulterous Man, for the Females burn in Love one towards another; and the Pandaresses to such refined Lovers are the Bards; and, therefore, some Turks will deny their Wives the Use of their public Baths, but they cannot do it altogether, because their Law allows them. But these Offences happen among the common sort; the richer sort of Persons have Bathes at home, as I told you before.

It happened one time, that at the public Baths for Women, an old Woman fell in Love with a Girl, the Daughter of a poor Man, a Citizen of Cosntantinople; and, when neither by wooing nor flattering her, she could obtain that of her which her mad Affection aim'd at, she attempted to perform an Exploit almost incredible; she feign'd herself to be a Man,changed her Habit, hired an House near the Maid's Father, and pretended he was one of the Chiauxes of the Grand Seignor; and thus, by reason of his Neighbourhood, she insinuated herself into the Man's Acquaintance, and after some Time, acquaints him with the Desire of his Daughter. In short, he being a Man in such a prosperous Condition, the Matter was agreed on, a Portion was settled, such as they were able to give, and a Day appointed for the Marriage; when the Ceremonies were over, and this doughty Bridegroom went into the Bride-chamber to his Spouse; after some Discourse, and plucking off her Head-geer, she was found to be a Woman. Whereupon the Maid runs out, and calls up her Parents, who soon found that they had married her not to a Man, but a Woman: Whereupon they carried the supposed Man, the next Day, to the General of the Janizaries, who, in the Absence of the Grand Seignor, was Governor of the City. When she was brought before him, he chid her soundly for her beastly Love; what, says he, are you not asham'd, an old Bedlam as you are, to attempt so notorious a Bestiality, and so filthy a Fact?

Away, Sir, says she! You do not know the Force of Love, and God grant you never may. At this absurd Reply, the Governor could scarce forbear Laughter, but commanded her, presently, to be pack'd away and drown'd in the Deep; such was the unfortunate Issue of her wild Amours.

See Busbequius's Travels into Turkey, P. 147, 147.


The reference is to A. G. Busbequius, Travels into Turkey, English translation (London, 1744). The original book, published much earlier, was invariably cited whenever lesbianism was mentioned, e.g. William Walsh's A Dialogue Concerning Women (London, 1691) and in Martin Schurig's Muliebria Historico-Medica (1729).

Rictor Norton

SOURCE: Satan's Harvest Home: or the Present State of Whorecraft, Adultery, Fornication, Procuring, Pimping, Sodomy, And the Game at Flatts, Collected from the Memoirs of an intimate Comrade of the Hon. Jack S**n**r, and concern'd with him in many of his Adventures, London: Printed for the Editor, 1749, pp. 60-1.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Game of Flats, 1749," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 14 April 2000, updated 30 March 2003 <>.

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