An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain

London: A. More, 1726.

Arguing for libertines to cease their extra-marital affairs with others' wives and instead fulfill their appetites with London's sex workers

(Item #5625) An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain. Erotic Literature, Anonymous, Satire.

An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain

London: A. More, 1726. First edition. Second issue title page with "Second Edition"; all text produced from the same type setting as the first, with only the title page modified. Bearing what Treadwell identifies as the "false and misleading imprint" of A. More, which was used to protect printers of licentious materials, it is likely that the edition statement was added to suggest that demand and distribution were great enough to merit a second run. Modern drab wraps with paper label to cover. Measuring 200 x 140mm and collating complete: 45, [1, blank]. A Near Fine copy, with a small stain to lower title affecting one letter and pages trimmed close along header with occasional partial loss to page numbers. Internally clean and unmarked. A scarce piece with either title page institutionally and in trade. ESTC lists only 9 copies from 1726 in U.S. libraries -- but it does not provide clarity on whether these are both issues (given that the collations and prices match). No separate listing exists for the variant title. An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry has appeared once at auction (in 1970 as part of a lot of political pamphlets) and the present is the only example on the market.

Bearing the false imprint of A. More to protect its author and printer, An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry is satirically dedicated to John James Heidegger (1659-1749) who served as Master of the Revels to George II in addition to running the Royal Opera House in the Haymarket. Laying at Heidegger's feet the common accusations that theatrical assemblies "tend to the Promotion of Vice, Lewdness, and Debauchery; that they encourage Intriguing, and endanger the Honour of Families," the satirist proposes a series of ironic defenses that highlight how London's culture of prostitution and extra-marital sex extends far beyond the playhouses. "I have heard it observed in your Vindication that if a Woman is in herself wickedly disposed, she may find Opportunities enough in this town to indulge her Inclinations...for if it is possible for a Woman to be made a whore anywhere else, why should we suppose that she is liable to do it in this Place, notwithstanding all of its Temptations?" Indeed, the anonymous author does not ultimately limit his screed to the events unfolding in theatres -- where London's demi-monde were known to appear with their clients and where lesser ranking members of the sex trade might lure in new buyers. He looks at widespread vice that has infiltrated Englishmen's bodies as well as their houses and families; and he points to progressive notions about gender as a key social contaminant. "There cannot, I think, be a stronger Proof of the Degeneracy of this Age than the state of Modern Gallantry (as it is call'd)...Gentlemen of this Cast make themselves very merry with the word Matrimony; which is an old fashioned term, as they observe, for Domestick Slavery." This becomes an excuse for such gallants to encourage wives -- their own or others' -- to resist the boundaries of marriage, to engage in secret affairs, or even to engage in exchanging sexual encounters for gifts and money. Thus women also gain freedom -- sexual and financial -- leading them to "break out in extravagant Dress" to enjoy themselves outside the home.

As with many of the works produced under the imprint "A. More," this piece ends involves a concluding twist that undercuts its virtue signaling and promotes the sex trade. "There always were and will be, to the End of the World, Whores and Whore-masters of all sorts," he begins the common refrain in defense of the sex trade. Modern Gallants must recalibrate where they engage their appetites; respecting the sanctity of wives and daughters (and ensuring that they stay firmly within the domestic sphere), men instead should turn for relief to the "publick Sinks of Leudness" that are London's brothels.

ESTC T27264.
(Item #5625)

An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain
An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain
An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain
An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain
An Essay Upon Modern Gallantry. Address'd to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a Seasonable Admonition to the Young Ladies of Great Britain

"There always were and will be, to the End of the World, Whores and Whore-masters of all sorts."