The Conspirators; or,
The Case of Catiline

Part II, 1721

IT may seem at first a very odd Transition to turn from the Religion of CATILINE to his Gallantries: But as his Principles were founded only to support his Pleasures, so his Pleasures [p. 43] were as bad and extravagant as his Principles. In Spight of the universal Odium that pursued him, and the many Invectives that were levell’d at his Character, he labour’d much to appear easy, and applied himself to those vicious Diversions, in the Pursuit of which he was very vehement, and indefatigable.

     LUXURY, as we have observ’d, was now in its Height as well as Poverty, in the Roman Republick: And what made the People more unhappy than ever they had been before, made the Great Ones drunk with Riotings, and wanton with Abundance. Therefore did they strain their Inventions to explore new Ways of gratifying their sensual Appetities; Nature was forsaken, and abus’d in their Pleasures; and Love, with which by her Laws Man was allow’d to gratify his Passions, (for she gives us not Desires in vain,) was perverted to a most abominable Use.

     CATILILNE was publick and preposterous in this Sort of Gallantry: Nor was he alone or singular in the Practice of it. For the Pathicks, and Cinædi, began to be in the greatest Request in those Times, and to be look’d upon as the fine Gentlemen of the Age. Of these, Numbers resorted to CATILINE’s House, and found Entertainment, who were publickly reported not to have any Regard to their Modesty. [p. 44]

     THESE Sallies of unnatural Lewdness must proceed from Surfeits of Pleasure, or from a restless Desire of making Discoveries, more unreasonable than his, who, not content with the World that we enjoy’d, would toil to discover a new one. In short, nothing that was common could go down with these luxurious Men. A Poet of ours, I remember, talks somewhere of diving into the Bottom of the Sea, to pluck up drown’d Honour by the Locks: These Men, on the other Hand, were for diving into the very Sinks of Nature, in the Quest of infamous Pleasure. But the Romans, who hated CATILINE, were very severe in their Reflexions upon his Gallantries; and were wont to say, that he was forc’d upon these preposterous Ways of solacing himself, because he frighten’d Love away from him with his Looks.

     MY Readers, perhaps, may be apt to think, that the Gallantries of CATILINE are foreign to the Nature of these Memoirs; but since Sallust and Plutarch have both taken Notice of them, I could not pass them over in Silence with any Justice. For, in those Orations which were spoken against him in the Senate, when he was present, the Licentiousness of his Amours was thrown in his Face, and made an Aggravation of his other Vices. Julius Cæsar, particularly, tho’ he was a Man of Pleasure and free Conversation, complains, that by the Dissoluteness of CATILINE, rapi & Virgines & Pueros: A Sentence which I shall forbear to translate out of Regard to Decency; and lest, accidentally, these Memoirs should fall into the Hands of the Ladies. [p. 45]

     BUT, to return from those Vices, which were only personal in Him, to those by whichthe Commonwealth was affected. Never was the Republick in a more desperate Condition: An Impunity was granted to the highest Crimes; immense Riches were in the Hands of a few Great Ones; and Loss, Discredit and Ruin oppress’d the State in general. These were all the Consequences that CATILINE’s Ambition wish'd for; all his Aims of Happiness were centred in the Distress of his Country. [p. 46]

SOURCE: The Conspirators, or, The Case of Catiline. Part II. London: J. Roberts, 1721. Preface signed Britannicus, i.e. John Gordon.

NOTES: For more details, see Part I. This second part was published as a result of a charge of libel being brought against Thomas Gordon for publishing the first part. In this second part, he refers explicitly to the "fatal Consequences of the South-Sea Project" (p. 3), and he doesn’t seem to be afraid to pursue his attack on Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, in the character of Catiline, portrayed as a sodomite.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Conspirators, Part II, 1721", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 1 March 2003, updated 16 June 2008 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England