Boswell’s diary of street life in 1762 provides an account of sexual favours currently on offer. On the evening of Thursday 25 November, he picked up a girl in the Strand, and ‘went into a court with intention to enjoy her in armour [i.e. wearing a condom]. But she had none… she wondered at my size, and said if ever I took a girl’s maidenhead, I would make her squeak.’ On the night of 31 March, in the following year, ‘I strolled into the Park and took the first whore I met, whom I without many words copulated with free from danger, being safely sheathed. She was ugly and lean and her breath smelled of spirits. I never asked her name. When it was done, she slunk off.’ On 13 April, ‘I took a little girl into a court; but wanted vigour’. Boswell, often a moralist after the event, does not regard the fact that it was a ‘little girl’ as of any significance; this suggests that there were many such thrown upon the streets of London. (pp. 374-375)
Is Ackroyd’s reading of ‘little girl’ too literal or anachronistic? Could there be other interpretations?
|From Hogarth’s “Morning” (the first in the Four Times of the Day series, 1736)|