The History of Harry Harper, 1773

The novel from which the following excerpt is taken was published in 1773, so I suspect that the sodomitical episode was inspired by the Captain Jones affair of 1772. It provides a believable picture of an elderly sodomite's cruising technique. The author is unknown.


Our Hero arrives at London, goes to the play, receives a message from his Lordship, and returns an answer. Two adventures more, one with an old man, the other with two boys. — Puts an advertisement in the Paper, which is answered. — Meets with an accident which reduces him to great distress, and is relieved by a Publican.

He resolved to go that very evening to the play, if possible to shew his triumph over the machinations of a Nobleman, who under the mask of friendship had treated him so unworthily; and he had not been long seated before this honourable kidnapper made his appearance in an opposite box. He was in company with some ladies, and behaved with so much gallantry and politeness that he attracted the notice of the pit and boxes; but accidently espying Mr. Harper, who pulled out his Euphemia's box, (we may now call her so to be sure) and pretending to take a pinch of snuff, affected an air of triumph and disdain; but it was not long before he received a message from his lordship, [p.185] intreating his company at the Bedford to supper; when he returned for answer, "He was engaged." – My Lord then seemed to threaten him in his countenance with ruin, at which Mr. Harper smiled, looked again at the picture, and taking no farther notice of his Lordship, sat out the play.

          In his way through the Piazza he was accosted by a man whose face he had remembered seeing in the house. — The usual introduction to conversation, viz. a remark on the weather, being past, he craved the liberty of supporting himself on Mr. Harper's arm; but forty years ago says he, I did not need it. His discourse soon turned to the girls of the Town, and asking Mr. Harper if so pretty a young gentleman could be without his connections, he at the same time squeezed his hand, and made an observation on its softness as well as whiteness and smallness. They had not proceeded far before this gentleman stopt occasionally, but bustled to overtake him, as Mr. Harper was walking gently forwards. — He then began an harangue on the passions of youth, exclaimed violently against bad women, and our youth paying a compliment to his age, by assenting to all he said, as they passed through a narrow passage, the unnatural aged Letcher caught him in his arms and endeavoured to kiss him, when Mr. Harper [p.186] gave him a violent push from him, by the force of which he fell backwards, and screamed out violently murder, watch, murder, thieves; on which a mob was soon gathered, and a few enquiring of Mr. Harper the reason of this outcry, he directly acquainted them with his proceedings, and soon found the fellow had sufficient reason for exclaiming against bad women; for a general cry of Buggery running through the whole company, he was seized by a parcel of Ladies, who pelted him with all the rubbish they could find, tumbled him down in the gutter, and treated him almost inhumanly; nor did they release him till he had long begged for mercy, and at last being frighted by the feebleness of his groans, they thought proper to fly for their own safety, and Mr. Harper made towards the Inn trembling with fear, and struck with horror at the depravity of a man, who by his look and confession, was tottering on the brink of his dissolution. — However, he had not proceeded two hundred yards, before he perceived two dirty boys to follow him; but not thinking of any design, walked forward; the boys soon parted, one went before, the other behind him, and at a corner of a street the first tumbled down close at his feet, and Mr. Harper tumbled over him. In his fall, the boy behind snatch'd his hat, round which was a handsome gold [p. 187] band, button the loop; the other slipp'd out his watch, and both ran off before he could recover his feet; – Mr. Harper concluded, they must run into some house near hand, for though he was up almost instantly, they were disappeared, and left him to walk home without his hat. — If he was before astonished at the proceedings of age, he was not startled at the principles of youth, and concluded from the behaviour of the young sprig of a mercer who had sent him out of the road, from the treatment had had met with from My Lord D—— and Mr. L——, who though Euphemia's Uncle he could not from his heart excuse, from the riot at the play-house, the horrid addresses of an old Libertine, and the villainy of two boys, that London was a Sink of Sin, and deserved the fate of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. [p.188]

SOURCE: The Prudential Lovers, or The History of Harry Harper (2 vols), London: Printed for the Author, and sold by John Bell, in the Strand, 1773, vol. 1, pp. 185-188.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The History of Harry Harper, 1773", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 22 April 2007, corrected 26 September 2010 <>.

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