London: For T. Payne, 1732. First thus. Rebound to style in full panelled calf with morocco and gilt to spine. Measuring 150 x 93mm and collating complete: , lviii, , 240. Archival paper repair to title page along gutter; discrete ownership stamp to foot of title. Light toning throughout, otherwise unmarked. One of two variants with matching collation but different printers listed on the titles (E. Curll and T. Payne, and T. Payne respectively), both scarce; ESTC document 11 copies of the present printing. In the past century, first editions of either variant have appeared only twice at auction.
The present work draws together previously published works of four male authors debating social, ecclesiastical, and legal approaches to "deviant" behaviors related to marital sexuality. Bernardino Orchino (1487-1564), the Catholic-turned-Protestant whose early modern justifications of polygamy and divorce were deemed heretical for undermining the marriage sacrament; John Manners, Lord Roos (1638-1711) who sued his wife Anne in Ecclesiastical court for "separation from bed and board" before using his position in the House of Lords to introduce a bill supplying divorce and disinheriting his children; Sir Charles Wolseley (1630-1714) who served in the House of Lords after his father's pardon for serving Cromwell; and Castamore, of whom we were unable to uncover details but whose inclusion at the end raises interesting implications for the text. Published by unscrupulous bookseller and printer Edmund Curll and his frequent collaborator Payne, the text has clear erotic rather than moralistic implications. "A notorious figure among the publishers of the early eighteenth century for his boldness, lack of scruple, publication of work without authors' consent, and taste for erotic and scandalous publications," Curll would not be involved with the release of a text that aimed to education men and women into their socially dictated marital roles (Baines and Rogers). Rather, the texts with their real-world scandal presented readers of all genders with information on alternative sexual relationships and practices outside the bounds of traditional marriage, confirmed for readers that these practices were occurring in real life, and even provided them with titillating details both on the sexual activities and philosophical defenses of them. For while the majority of included texts written by men place moral blame on the women involved, the final text by Castamore undercuts this. Though the "duty of chastity fell particularly onerously on women," texts like Castamore's make it clear that this is not because of women's purity but because of their "propensity for sensuality and inherent lustfulness...the ever-present risk of female sexual excess" (Turner). With a seemingly learned title and an overtly risque set of publishers, The Cases provided readers of any gender an opportunity to reflect on women's sexual desire, autonomy, and uncontrollability in real and imagined scenarios.
ESTC T153320. Register of Erotic Books 753. (Item #5063)