But Among Our Own Selves
The following song was quoted by James Dalton in his book
A Genuine Narrative, published in
London in 1728. Dalton was a petty thief who moved in a circle
of "mollies" (homosexual men) during the 1720s. Much
of the gossip in his book can be verified in other sources, and
generally his account seems to be trustworthy. There is no reason
for us to doubt the truth of Dalton's statement that this song
was sung by "that charming Warbler, Miss Irons" (presumably a
blacksmith). The probability that this is a genuine artefact of
the kind of bawdy songs that circulated in the early eighteenth-
century gay subculture is supported by evidence given at the
trials resulting from investigation of Thomas Wright's molly
house. Constable Sellers testified that he went to Wright's house
on 17 November 1725, "and there I found a Company of Men
fiddling, and dancing, and singing bawdy Songs, kissing, and
using their Hands in a very unseemly Manner." Especially
important is Constable William Davison's testimony that "in
a large room there, we found one a fiddling, and eight more a
dancing Country-Dances, making vile Motions, and singing,
Come let us [bugger] finely."
Unfortunately that song was censored in the court reports, and
the full text is lost. Gay bawdy songs in continental Europe
survive from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but the
following song as recorded by Dalton seems to be the earliest
extant British example. It has no title.
Let the Fops of the Town upbraid
Us, for an unnatural Trade,
We value not Man nor Maid;
- But among our own selves we'll be free,
But among, &c.
- We'll kiss and we'll Sw[iv]e,
Behind we will drive,
And we will contrive
- New Ways for Lechery,
New Ways, &c.
- How sweet is the pleasant Sin?
With a Boy about Sixteen,
That has got no Hair on his Chin,
- And a Countenance like a Rose,
And a Countenance, &c.
- Here we will enjoy
The simpering Boy,
And with him we'll toy;
- The Devil may take the Froes,
The Devil, &c.
- Confusion on the Stews,
And those that Whores do chuse,
We'll praise the Turks and Jews,
- Since they with us do agree,
Since they, &c.
- They're not confin'd
To Water or Wind,
Before or behind,
- But take all Liberty,
But take &c.
- Achilles that Hero great,
Had Patroclus for a Mate;
Nay, Jove he would have a Lad,
- The beautiful Ganymede,
The Beautiful &c.
- Why should we then
Be daunted, when
Both Gods and Men
- Approve the pleasant Deed,
Approve the &c.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "But Among Our Own Selves, 1728",
Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Updated 14 April 2000