Prostitution in 18th Century England Essay

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Prostitution in 18th Century England

"Miss B____rn. No. l 8 Old Compton Street, Soho Close in the arms she languishingly lies
With dying looks, short breath, and wishing eyes.

This accomplished nymph has just attained her eighteenth year, and fraught with every perfection, enters a volunteer in the field of Venus. She plays on the pianofort, sings, dances, and is mistress of every Maneuver in the amorous contest that can enhance the coming pleasure; is of the middle stature, fine auburn hair, dark eyes and very inviting countenance, which ever seems to beam delight and love. In bed she is all the heart can wish, or eyes admires every limb is symmetry, every action under cover truly amorous; her price two pounds." (Maccubbin 63)
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Contradictory though it may seem, prostitution was, in a way, a rather romantic occupation. There were several classes of prostitutes: those "common" who walked the streets and could be had for a shilling and a bottle of wine; those a little better, who charged three or four shillings and perhaps lived in a brothel; those yet a little better, and so on and so on; until we reach the upperest of the upper-class tart. This woman may have been high-born to begin with. She is probably relatively famous, and certainly respectable in some twisted way. She may be someone's mistress, some nobleman or other, or she may...shall we say ...freelance her favors. Either way, she is well educated, and extremely far removed from the potentially syphilis-ridden streetwalkers. This was the dream role model of those entering the trade: an aristocratic gentle-woman, acquainted with persons of quality, and treated as well, or better than many other wealthy women. There was power and prestige to be had if you could work your way up the ladder to that point, sharing the bed of an MP, or better, HM the King. Way better than sitting hunched over needlework in poor light for the greater part of your life. In reality, this rise to greatness rarely happened. Those who attained wealth and fame were likely born into it, and were already upper-class women, not those who worked their way up

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