The Unnaturalists, or Deserters of the Fruit-shop.

When things were even arrived at the pitch where we left them, at the close of the last chapter [the subject of which was cuckholdry], the iniquity of the human race was not as yet completed; for, while a fair intercourse is kept up between the Fruit-shop and its natural customers [i.e. men and women], this world is an object of the Deity's mercy: but of his wrath when, through a misconceived notion of self-sufficiency, either attempts to be actuated to blissful rapture without the friendly concurrence of the other [i.e. masturbation]. To all such selfish and uncommunicative transgressors, we cannot more energically convey our disapprobation, than in the words of a learned, ingenious, and modest Scot, which the most exasperated among the South-Britons must allow to be a phenomenon both rare and valuable!

—— Banish from thy shades
Th' ungen'rous, selfish, solitary joy:
Did nature form thee? For thy narrow self
Grant thee the means of pleasure? —
Impious forbear — — —
To shed thy blossoms thro' the desart air,
And sow thy perish'd off-spring in the winds.

A still greater degree of criminality (than even what misguided and erroneous groping after a chymerical but destructive implieth) is chargeable to unnaturalism [i.e. homosexualitiy]; which horrid form of sin stigmatizeth with public infamy, and calls aloud for heavenly vengeance on its followers; against whose turpitude the poet we have last quoted from strenuously inveigheth, in his elegant OEconomy of Love.

— For man with man,
And man with woman (monstrous to relate)
Leaving the natural road, themselves debase
With deeds unseemly, and dishonour foul.
Britons, for shame! be male and female still.
Banish this foreign vice; it grows not here;
It dies, neglected; and, in clime so chaste,
Cannot, but by forc'd cultivation, live.

This is a gentle yet keen reproof, but at the same time palliating. Now let us see how, against such execrable subjects, our Herculean satyrist, as his friends are pleased to call him, wields his formidable mass, or club in vulgar phrase:

Go where we will, at ev'ry time and place,
Sodom confronts and stares us in the face; —
They ply in public, at our very doors,
And take the bread from much more honest whores.
Those who are mean, high paramours secure;
And the rich guilty screen the guilty poor:
The sin, too proud to feel from reason awe,
And those who practise it too great for law.
- - - - - - - - - -
Woman is out of date, a thing thrown by
As having lost its use; —
- - - - - - - - - -
Women are kept for nothing but the breed,
For pleasure we must have a Ganymede;
A fine fresh Hylas, a delicious boy,
To serve our purposes of beastly joy.

The author's advice to young men that they may walk the streets of London unmolested, is,

Lay by thy sex, thy safety to procure;
Put off the man, from men to be secure;
Go forth a woman to the publick view,
And, with their garb, asume their manners too.

He gives a very melancholy account of the present situation of every mother in England.

Let her discharge her cares, throw wide her doors,
Her daughters cannot if they would be whores;
Nor can a man be found, as Times now go,
Who thinks it worth his while to make them so.

The author concludes his poem with a seemingly wished-for picture of London in a blaze, which certainly would afford a more epic conflagration than the burning of Troy, although coelestial incendiaries lent their assistance.

God, in wrath, shall let his vengeance fall,
And make a great example of them all;
Bidding, in one great pile, this town expire;
Her tow'rs in dust, her Thames a lake of fire.

Those passages we have quoted are not all, but only some of, the leading strokes. Every reader may now compare the moral exhibition, or rather immoral, of English males, as given by the North and South-British bards; then pronounce who of the two writers on so detestable a subject, touches it with more filial tenderness, and nearer to the standard of truth.

The violent resentment of some against The Times, and palliative arguments made use of by others, as well as our own private judgment upon the whole, we reserve for another place; wishing to all culprits of that diabolical fraternity here fulminated against, the title of our ensuing chapter.


A general Submersion.

Notwithstanding the many causes which have been assigned for this tremendous event, in Deucalion and Pyrrha's time, some reasons lately discovered induce most of the truly learned to think that it was an act of just vengeance to punish and exterminate those ungrateful sons of men who betook themselves to selfish or backsliding ways [punning references to masturbation and sodomy], to the total neglect of the deserted Fruit-shop.

The women assembled upon the high places, there united their grievances, and determined upon instant revenge; of which the sex, however delicate in other matters, is, upon all negative occasions on the part of man, very capable.

There happened, as a co-operating cause in this astonishing event, a very unusual phenomenon, deviating from an old proverb in regard to woman; which implies that the more she does of one thing, the less she does of another. But the contrary then fell out; — for, brim-full of rage, the congregated dames let open the sluices of their resentment: so the waters from above joining the waters from below, rushed with an impetuous course into the valley of foulness situate beneath. Thus were surprised the sons of men (not in the least aware of any such sudden submersion) some in shameful combination [i.e. in homosexual intercourse], others in selfish and wasteful retirement [i.e. "wasting their seed" in secret], and swept away in those very attitudes in which they had been caught. Only a few saved themselves by getting into a little floating thatched house, through private intelligence from some of the ladies, on account of their invariable zeal and orthodox worship of the Fruit-shop. — Away the rest were hurried to the sea, which they acquired, and hath ever since retained, its brackish taste.

How were the places of this lost generation of men supplied? That we learn in Ovid; by Phrrha's figuratively throwing, which means directing, stones in the proper and natural line. — Whatever mortals deviate from that direction will be sure to meet with condign punishment. But to restore the divorced parties to love and amity, the dove, that true emblem of a kindly intercourse between the sexes, flew over them with an olive-twig in its bill, by way of proclaiming a general pacification.

SOURCE: The Fruit-Shop, a Tale; or, a Companion to St. James's Street, 2nd edition, London: Printed for J. Harrison, near Covent-Garden, 1766, vol. 1, pp. 160-8.


The author provides a note to "Our herculean satyrist, &c.":
The death of Mr. Churchill prevents an humorous expostulation, ad-hominem, which we had intended upon his poem, The Times. But the loss of him is now the sincere object of our regret, for two reasons; the one, his being so early snatched away: the other, that we had seen but the meanest part of what his superior faculties were able to attain. For pity it is, that he was so all engrossed by the spirit of party; and so indulgent of particular resentments, for which there was often neither sufficient nor indeed any cause.

Elsewhere on this site I have published much longer extracts from Charles Churchill's The Times, which was published two years before The Fruit Shop. The "Fruit-shop" is of course the external female genitalia, i.e. the cunt, as a quotation from another part of the book shows very clearly:

"Now behold him [Jove in the form of a serpent] alternately encircle her [Olympias's] swelling breasts and most lovely shape. Now view him coiled up for a most exquisite pressure on the ruby entrance of the Fruit-shop, where nestling he most devoutly clings until the mystic rite be performed!" (vol. 2, p. 47).
Only "Philo-gonists" or "Philogynists", i.e. lovers of women, are "the truly Orthodox" (vol. 2, p. 112). Later in the book the author condemns "Platonicism" and "eunuchism", and abstinence by monks and nuns. All of these, together with homosexuality, are grouped under non-procreative sexuality, but I'm not sure how serious an attack this is meant to be — it is mainly an excuse for soft pornography and witty titillation.

Rictor Norton

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Unnaturalists, or Deserters of the Fruit Shop," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Updated 10 April 2000 <>.

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