Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify'd

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Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify'd  (1749) 
by Thomas Cannon

No copy of Cannon's anonymously published pamphlet is known to survive. The 1750 indictment of Cannon's printer, John Purser, for his part in printing ‘a Certain Wicked Lewd Nasty Filthy Bawdy Impious and Obscene Libel,’ is excerpted liberally from the pamphlet. This, being the only known direct reproduction of the work, is the source of this text.

Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d

Among the many Unspeakable Benefits which redound to the World from the Christian Religion, no one makes a more conspicuous Figure than the Demolition of Pederasty. That celebrated Passion, Seal’d by Sensualists, espoused by Philosophers, enshrin’d by Kings, is now exploded with one Accord and Disown’d by the meanest Beggar. Wherefore since Fashion discountenances, Law punishes, God forbids, the Detested Love, we may present it in it’s studied Attitudes, and the lively colouring, with which the Master-hands of the Ancients have so pompously overspread it, free from Apprehension of exciting in any Breast so preposterous, and Severe-treated an Inclination. What Charm then held so many Sages and Emperors, clear Heads and hale Hearts? Inform me, what was that which like a chrystal expanded Lake drew all Mankind to bathe entranc’d in Joys, too mighty every one for our poor Utterance? Not the Flavour of forbidden Fruit: Every Dabbler knows by his Classics, that it was pursu’d and prais’d with the Heighth of Liberty. Was it the Perfection of a gradually lessening Shape? or, you in turn demand, was it the Firmness, yet Delicacy of Masculine Limbs? Hush; the Beauty-engrossing Sex will over-hear us. In Time, was it the more equally close Pressure, a certain Part afforded? Let the Adepts in the Abominable Practice pronounce. With wond’rous Boast curst Pederasts advance, that Boy-love ever was the top Refinement of most enlighten’d Ages; or, never in Supreme Degree prevail’d where liberal Knowledge had not fix’d his Seat, and banish’d crampsoul Prejudice. When polish’d Greece bow’d her once laurell’d Head to all-subduing Rome, frequent Journeys to and fro wore a capacious Channel, thro’ which to the great Victrix roll’d the proud Streams of Learning, Taste, and Pederasty. The Theology of the Ancients plainly Shews, they preferr’d the horrible Passion to the Love of Women; blooming Hebe resigns to dazzling Ganymede, who ever after enjoys the Place of Cup-bearer to Jupiter. Lucian a most witty Ancient, has two Dialogues upon this Subject; in one Ganymede is courted; in the other Juno is reprimanded for disparaging that fair Boy; both so extremely entertaining, I make no Doubt, they will be with Pleasure accepted in the Room of any thing, I am able to produce: And here let me Beg Leave to declare once and for all, that I shall patch-work, or as some may think, variegate, my plain English Stile with no Greek and Latin Quotations; will nevertheless constantly keep in view the main Sense of my Authors; shall not in the mean Time hesitate to alter, omit, and add an Expression, or even an entire Paragraph, under the Restriction, that it is perfectly agreeable to the manifest Turn of the Composition, being I take for granted, the Reader will prefer a Spirited, yet equally Just Version to a dull dogg’d Translation, perpetually failing in the ridiculous Attempt of transfusing unattainable Greek and Latin Idioms into a meer modern Language . I paraphrase, or, use ancient Writers only as a Basis: If you like what you meet with, is it not enough?



Cannon, Thomas. “The Indictment of John Purser, Containing Thomas Cannon’s Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d.” Edited by Hal Gladfelder and Dudley Ryder Knight. Eighteenth-Century Life (Duke University Press) 31, no. 1 (2007): 39–61.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.