Secret Lesbian Clubs in 17th c Literature

This episode of The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast features The New Atalantis – Secret Lesbian Clubs in 17th c Literature

Episode 30d with Heather Rose Jones

Readings from an early 18th century satirical roman à clef that depicts a secret society of sapphists at the court of Queen Anne of England.

In this episode we talk about

  • The context and purpose of Delarivier Manley’s work
  • An annotated reading of selections discussing f/f relationships
  • The full text of The New Atalantis can be found at Google Books
  • This topic is discussed in one or more entries of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project here.
  • A transcript of this podcast is available here.

Listen to this episode here

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

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please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

Music] this is Heather Rose Jones with The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast this weekly podcast looks at lesbian themes in history and literature and historic research into gender and sexuality we talk about current historical fiction with queer female characters including fantastic versions of the past and have interviews with authors who write those stories and in months when we have a fifth show we’re proud to present new original lesbian historical fiction for your enjoyment dila Revere manly was an English writer working around 1700 who wrote in a number of genres but his most famous work was the political satire secret memoirs and manners of several persons of quality of both sexes from the New Atlantis an island in the Mediterranean known more briefly as the New Atlantis if you listen to the podcast on Queen Anne I talked about how Manley was one of a number of satirist hired or at least instigated by Tory politicians to poke fun at their opponents the new Atlantis only makes sense as a political satire if you can trace the connections between its salacious anecdotes and the real people meant to be understood as its targets overwhelmingly the content involves sexual shenanigans unhappy political marriages unpleasant people being unpleasant to each other and the narrator’s of the framing story Estrella and the personifications of virtue and intelligence cutting to each other about how awful and nasty people have become compared to some hypothetical ideal time and place which of course never existed the interest in this podcast is a handful of anecdotes involving a group of women referred to as the new cabal who formed something of a secret society of women whose romantic and by strong implication sexual interests are for each other given how heterosexual relationships are portrayed in the work one has a great deal of sympathy for them but one isn’t meant necessarily to sympathize the new cabal is depicted as being just as self-centered jealous and manual as the rest of society with an extra dollop of the assumption that same-sex relationships must always be somehow lacking and transient in comparison to the attractions of heterosexual ones but to be fair the relationships among the new cabal are neither more nor less satirized than every other relationship discussed in the work anxieties about female power within queen anne’s court in government and quite likely knowledge of actual same-sex relations among these women may have provoked to this part of Manley’s work but there’s little sense that the idea of same-sex relationships is being singled out for special disapproval in vitriol not any more than the idea of adultery nor the idea of loveless marriages or the idea of sexual predation on the less powerful many of man these fictionalized characters both in the new atlantis and in a later work memoirs of europe can be clearly identified with specific historic individuals and the real-life counterparts of some of the women who are depicted in the novel as having same-sex relationships are known to have had similar relationships in real life in the transcript of this show on the website i’ve included a list of some of those correspondences so we aren’t necessarily dealing with a case where accusations of same-sex relations are being used to tarnish reputations any more than the accusations of loveless marriages were there were both things that people did with that understanding we can read man these anecdotes about the new cabal as depicting possible social dynamics among homo radically inclined women of the court the text may not reflect the details of such women’s lives but the reflect how such lives were imagined in their own day the primary narrator of the framings story is a minor divinity of the classical pantheon named Estrella the goddess of innocence and purity having taken a fancy to visiting the great courts of Europe she overshoots her trajectory and comes instead to Atlantis there she encounters the dejected figure of her mother virtue together they have a mutual kids these days what is the world coming to moment then go on a tour to review in detail what they consider the sad failings of society they are joined by a character representing intelligence who is similarly dispirited by kids these days the text is presented as a series of conversational monologues between these characters occasionally including responses from other characters they encounter because the text is often complex and full of allusions I’ve inserted my own explanations and commentary which I will distinguish by tone of voice our scene opens as the trio watches sand vehicles pass by the open enjoyment of the passengers makes them speculate on how these people of all they have met seem to have escaped the sorrows and vices of the age but as I discuss the travelers further their joyful astonishment starts shading over into sarcasm and innuendo estrella does your ladyship’s intelligence extend to the knowledge of these ladies we know them to be such by their voices who fill these three coaches which run along the gravel road on the right hand of us they laugh loud and incessantly to certain they have neither the spleen or vapors or for the present seemed to have forgot those distempers can any persons be more at their ease surely these seem to unknown that there is a certain portion of misery and disappointments allotted to all men which one time or other will assuredly overtake them the very consideration of which is sufficient in my opinion to put a damp upon the serenus much more a tumultuous joy intelligence that would be afflicting themselves unprofitably nothing thought to hinder mankind from enjoying the present nor no reflection of the future carry away his relish of the instant provided to be innocently employed to one of right understanding it will certainly happen to us provided he be free from bodily pain which notwithstanding the vain celebrated apathy of the Stoics none was ever found to be insensible of and who ever has pretended to the contrary it must be as ridiculous as affected but to satisfy your excellency these ladies are of the new cabal a sect however innocent in itself but does not fail from meeting its share of censure from the world alas what can they do how unfortunate are women if they seek their diversion out of themselves and include the other sex they must be criminal if in themselves as those of the new cabal still are they criminal those centuries must carry their imaginations a much greater length than I am able to do mine to explain this hypothesis with success they pretend to find the vices of old Rome revived in the Atlantic and quote use certain detestable authors who to amuse posterity have introduced lasting monuments of Vice which could only subsist in imagination and can in reality have no other foundation than what are to be found in the dreams of poets and the ill nature of these centuries who will have no diversions innocent but what themselves advance here our narrators allude to the writings of classical authors such as Lew and Marshall about sex between women by pretending to consider such activities to be impossible outside of the prurient imagination Manley is able to invoke the spectre of same-sex acts while maintaining the fiction with the new cabal are all just good friends oh how laudable how extraordinary how wonderful is the uncommon happiness of the Cabal they have wisely excluded that rapacious sex who making a prey of the honor of ladies find their greatest satisfaction some of you accepted in boasting of their good fortune the very chocolate houses being witness of their self-love were promiscuously among the known and unknown they exposed the letters of the fare explain the mysterious and refined upon the happy part in their redundancy of vanity consulting nothing but what may feed that insatiable Hydra within this rather tangled prose is the suggestion that the Society of men inevitably results in becoming the subject of gossip we’re men socialized in this case at cafes specializing in serving chocolate a fashionable new drink that rivaled coffee and tea for popularity but women’s company they assert cannot possibly carry any hint of shame or guilt the Cabal run no such dangers they have all happiness in themselves two beautiful ladies joined in an excess of Amity no word is tender enough to express their new delight innocently embrace for how could they be guilty they vow eternal tenderness they exclude the men and condition that they will always do so what irregularity can there be in this tis true some things may be a strained a little too far and that causes reflections to be cast upon the rest and now we’re offered an anecdote meant to give the lie to the former claims of innocence the ladies of the new cabal were not able to live entirely separate from men a lady named Armida had the misfortune to have her male lover and her female partner visit at the same time one of the fair could not defend herself from receiving an impertinent visit from a person of the troublesome sex the lady who was her favorite came and expectedly at the same time upon another army to hurt her chair sat down in the hall and presently knew her inquiring with precipitation who was above having observed a common coach at the gate without delivery the lover became surprised to the last degree to see our meet a surprise she trembled she turned pale she conjured him to pass into her closet and consent to be concealed to the lady was gone his curiosity made him as obliging as she could desire he was no sooner withdrawn but his fair rival entered the chamber enraged her voice shrill her tongue inquisitive and menacing the extremes of jealousy in her eyes and air where is this unconstant where is this ungrateful girl what happy wretch is it upon whom you bestow my rights to whom you deliver the possession of my kisses and embraces upon whom bestowed that part so invaluable and for which I have paid the equivalent come let us see this monster to whom ice happiness is sacrificed are you not sufficiently warned by the ruin of so many are you all so eager to be exposed to be undone to be food for vanity to fill the detestable creatures with vain glory what recompense Oh what satisfaction can there be in any heart of theirs more than in mind have they more tenderness more endearment their truth cannot come in comparison besides they find their account in treachery and boasting their pride is gratified whilst our interest is in mutual secrecy a mutual justice and in mutual constancy such an excess of jealousy of course creates its own suspicions the narrator’s scramble to provide an apparent defense deliberately undermining it by offering a parallel to one of the homoerotic relationships of Socrates such excursions as these have given occasion to the enemies of the Cabal to refine as much as they please upon the mysteries of it there are some who will not allow of innocence in any intimacy detestable sensuous who after the manner of the Athenians will not believe so great a man as Socrates him whom the Oracle delivered to be the wisest of all men could see every hour of the beauty of an Alcibiades without taxing his Sensibility how did they recriminate for his affection for his cares his tenderness to the lovely you how have they delivered him down to posterity as blamable for a to guilty passion for his beloved couple since then it is not in the fate of even so wise men to avoid the center of the busy and the bold care ought to be taken by others less fortified against occasions of detraction and declining such unaccountable intimacy’s to prevent the ill-natured world’s refining upon their mysterious innocence having thus set the stage for how we are meant to understand the internal relationships of the Cabal we’re offered a glimpse of how they spend their time together the persons who passed us in those three coaches we’re returning from one of their private I was going to say silent meetings but far be it from me to detract from any of the attributes of the sex the lady L and her daughters make four of the Cabal they have taken a little lodging about twelve furlongs from Angela in a place obscure and pleasant with a magazine of good wine and necessary conveniences chambers of repose a tolerable garden and the country in prospect they wear away the indulgent happy hours according their own taste their coaches and people of whom they always take as few with them as possible are left to wait at a convenient distance of a field in length an easy walk to their Bower of bliss the day and hour of the rendezvous is appointed beforehand they meet they caress they swear inviolable secrecy and Amity the glass corroborates their endearments they momentarily exclude the men fortify themselves in the precepts of virtue and chastity against all their detestable undermining arts arraigned without pity or compassion those who have been so unfortunate as to fall into their snare and propagate their principles of exposing them without mercy and now the members of the Cabal are presented as one might almost say biphobic but keep in mind that this is within a context where hetero sexual attraction is assumed to be an imperative and where women did not always have the social and economic power to refuse marriage so if marriage is inescapable a woman only society must protect itself with rules they give rules to such of the Cabal who are not married how to behave themselves to such whom they think fit they should marry no such witty affair being to be accomplished without the mutual consent of the society at the same time lamenting the custom of the world that has made it convenient nay almost indispensable for all ladies wants to marry to those that have husbands they have other instructions in which they’re sure to be one to reserve their heart their tender Amity for their fair friend an article in this well-bred willfully undistinguished age which the husband seems to be rarely solicitous of in this passage one is reminded of the 17th century poet Catherine Phillips lamented that for women marriage represents the death of friendship within 17th century English society the women with the most power to control their own lives were widows in the following passage the references to nature invoke the idea that heterosexuality is natural while any other type of desire is against nature those who are in their opinion so happy as to be released from the imposing matrimonial fetters are thought to be the ornaments of the Cabal and by almost happy they claim an ascendant a rite of governing of admitting or excluding and both of which they are extremely nice with particular regard to the constitution of the novice they strictly examine her genius whether it have fitted her for the mysteries of the Cabal or if she may be rendered insensible on the side of nature nature who has the trick of making them dote upon the opposite improving sex for if her foible be down directed to what nature inspires she is unanimously excluded and in particular injunctions bestowed upon all the members of this distinguishing society from admitting her to their bosom or initiating her into the mysteries of their endearments that is if a potential candidate for the Cabal seems positively inclined toward men she is to be refused admittance having sex with men might be necessary but actually loving them was right out this wasn’t merely a philosophical requirement any crack in the armor against male society could prove dangerous to all as we shall see in the next passage secrecy is also a material article this they inviolable promise nor is the least part of the instruction given to a new bride lest she let her husband into a mystery however innocent that may expose and ridicule the community as it happened in the case of the beautiful virgin you philia no sooner did she appear as an attendant on the Queen but the eyes of all the circle were directed to her the men adored the ladies would have discovered something to destroy that adoration if it had impossible except the Marchioness dilemma who bold and masculine loudly texts of these invidious spectators of ill nature and malice she took the fare made into a special consideration shelter her under her distinguishing protections and in short introduced her into the cabal of which they say the Marchioness was one of the first founders in Atlantis having something so robust in her air and mean that the other sex would have certainly claimed her for one of theirs if she had not thought fit to declare herself by her habit alone to be of the other and so much that I have often heard it lamented by the curious who have taxed themselves and negligence and were intimate with her Lord when living but they did not desire him to explain upon that query this description of the March eNOS requires a bit of unpacking historic attitudes regularly shifted regarding whether women’s same sex desire required a butch femme dynamic the prevailing attitude in the 17th century leaned more toward the attitude that what women loved and other women was their shared femininity but this is one of the references in the New Atlantis that suggests the alternate view that it was an inherent masculinity that caused a woman to desire women the description here of the Martinez dilemma suggests that she was so masculine in her effect that if not for the fact that she wore women’s clothing one might have thought her to be a man or perhaps to be something indeterminate between male and female as the image of the hermaphrodite was still invoked in the context of same-sex desire the curious it is suggested here should have questioned her late husband about any anatomical abnormalities that might have explained the Martinez’s behavior but returning to our anecdote the Martinez’s love for you feel the offender Don the offer of a desirable marriage the price of which was that you feel it explain just why the Martinez was so dead-set again match you feel the afluria stun der the shine of so great a favorite the marquee Dilys minutes fell in love with her there was nothing to obstruct his happiness but the Martinez dilemmas jealousy and rage to lose her beautiful pupil she traversed her advancement all that lay in her power but the honor of such a marriage being conspicuous on the young virgin side she was forced to give up the secrets of the cabal and sacrifice the martinez’s honor to preserve the opinion of her own some few such discoveries have happened to cast a taint upon the innocence of the cabal how malicious is the world who would not avoid century if it were possible there is the interesting suggestion here that innocence was entirely a matter of keeping once indiscretion secret and had nothing to do with not committing them in the first place we have another suggestion of a butch femme dynamic in the following passage although interestingly both members of the romantic couple are said to crossdress in order to go pick up women together the word habit here simply means clothing as in the phrase writing habit rather than referring to a personal custom the pseudonym antha is of course a reference to Aubin’s cross-gender character we start to hear the snarky edge in the protestations of how these amorous adventures could not possibly be considered actual fornication we must do justice to the endeavors of the witty Marchioness of sand Amir when she used to mask her diversions in the habit of the other sex and with her female favorite yatha wander through the gallant quarter of atlantis in search of adventures but what adventures good heaven none that quit in reality wound her chastity her virtue sacred to her Lord and the marriage bed was preserved inviolable for what could reflect back upon it with any prejudice in the little Liberty she took with her own sex whom she used to cajole with the affected seeming gallantry of the other engage and carry them through the public gardens and houses of entertainment with music and all diversions these creatures of hire failed not to find their account in obliging the martinez’s and the Anthes peculiar taste by all the liberties that belong to women of their loose character and indigence though I should look upon it as an excess of mortification were either Martina’s to see the corruption of the sex and to what extremes vice may step-by-step lead those who were born and probably educated in the road of innocence it may be surely counted in inhumane curiosity and show a height of courage more blamable than otherwise not to be dejected at the brutality the degeneracy of those of our own species the lesbian talk-show relies on support the support of you our listeners the support of those who like and review our show on their favorite podcast app the support of our patrons on patreon and the support of our sponsors we hope you’ll continue to enjoy and support the lesbian talk-show evidently one member of the Cabal had special license to remain bisexual she is considered so beautiful and charming that she cannot be expected to combine her affections and favors to only one sex this lady and her musical female companion are among those who can be connected with specific historical persons known to have enjoyed a romance together the Viceroy of Peru’s lady has a more extensive taste her circle admitting the eminent of both sexes none can doubt of her condescension to the men and because you believe nothing undiscovered or unattempted in the map of tenderness she has encouraged the warbling Linda Mira Louis is ranked 2 explain to her the terra incognita of the cabal not one of them but think themselves honored by a prison for distinction and agreeable merit to complete their happiness they seem to wish but I doubt it is in vain that it were possible to exclude the other sex and engrossed her wholly to their own but alas what hopes her heart her eyes her air called for other a probations the admiration of the men in her alone that diffusive vanity is pardonable is taking she undoubtedly knows herself born to a greater capacity of giving happiness than ought to fall to the share of one mortal and therefore in her just an equal distribution of beauty she seems to leave none for numerous favorites solid reason of complaint that they are not in their turn considered as they deserved there follows an anecdote that I will skim over with a summary that explains why this lady abandoned men to join the Cabal one of the ladies of the cabal that was in the coach is a writer the Chevalier Pierrot without having much weight of his own married her for hers so with the addition even of gratitude sera could not find her happiness in him he soon grew weary of Zara’s affair not finding it possible to come up to the height of her lovesick romantic expectations she who had all the muses at her head wanted to be caressed in a poetical manner her lover by her goodwill should not be less than Apollo in his attributes of flame and fancy thus she would have been aboard but that was not to be expected from the marquis whose heart was engaged nor could any but a poet answered the extravagance ease of the poet is’s expectations thus dis encouraged by the men she fell into the taste of the Cabal Daphne was her favorite Daphne who when she first set out to travel the road of gallantry had all the reason in the world to expect a lucky journey for her first guide if you will believe herself was no less a person than count for to notice and we now get a long tedious summary of how Daphne was done wrong by count fortunatus who blackmailed her into sleeping with him because she needed a favor for a relative having been discarded by him then it was that she wrote for the stage sometimes with ill fortune sometimes we’ve been different but once with success they could enumerate weren’t it not too tedious many of Daphne’s adventures by which she was become the diversion of as many of the town as found her to their taste and would purchase yet she still assumed an air of virtue pretended and was ever eloquent according to her stiff manner upon the foible of others she also fitted herself with an excellent mask called religion having has often changed and has often professed herself a votary to that shrine where was to be found the most apparent interest or which of the priests had best art of persuading one of series at length fell to her share young scarce initiated in her mysteries and not at all in the profits but a husband was Daphne’s business the only means to prevent her from falling what her youth and charms were upon the wing into extreme contempt and now we discuss inconvenient husbands Zara the poet’s husband is conveniently set off to war Daphne the playwright’s alas takes her away from her friends and she finds religion and respectability Zara who had introduced her to the Cabal but with infinite anxiety suffered that any lover should dare to engage where she had fixed her heart but because narrow circumstances do not always suffer people to do what they would Daphne was still forced to have lovers though if you believe her professions to her fair friend they had no part in her inclination in short they seemed to live for each other Sarah whose poetical genius did not much lead her to better the economy of her family soon found the inconveniences of it the Porsche volley gay her husband stemmed the tide as long as it was possible at length obliged but his in different circumstances to put himself into the army and campaign abroad he left his lady at full liberty to pursue with an uninterrupted good her taste of Amity and the Cabal but Daphne’s marriage crossed her delights how does she exclaim against that breach of friendship in the fair how regret the authority of a husband who has boldly dared to carry his wife into the country where she now sets up for regularity and it tends to be an ornament to that religion which she had once before abandoned and newly again professed she will write no more for the stage tis profane indiscreet unpardonable controversy engrosses all her hours the muses must now give place in this next section although manly is presumably poking fun at these women’s relationships the actual details seem innocuous or even praiseworthy lovers should Lavis each other with gifts share all things in common and support each other there are others of the cabal that lavish vast sums upon their inamorata z– with the impressment diligence and warmth of a beginning lover I could name a widow or two who have almost undone themselves by therefore useless so sacred and invincible is their principle of Amity that misfortunes cannot shake in this little Commonwealth is no property whatever a lady possesses is fun ceremony at the service and for the use of her fair friend without the vain nice scruple of being obliged tis her right the other disputes it not no not so much as in thought they have no reserve mutual love bestows all things in common it would be against the dignity of the passion and unworthy of such exalted abstracted notions as theirs how far laudable your divinities will conclude of these tender Emma teased with all possible submission I refer to your better judgments and undisputed prerogative of setting the stamp of approbation or dislike upon all things keep in mind that this is a conversation among goddesses hence the speaker addressing the others all the preceding has been lady intelligence explaining the Cabal to Estrella and virtue now Estrella Commons pretending to an ignorance of the exact nature of the mysteries of the Cabal that intelligence has been referring to if it is platonic friendship then surely it is presently but if the relationships interfere with federal sexual marriage then that goes too far Estrella it is something so new and uncommon so laudable unblameable that we don’t know how to determine especially wanting light even to guess at what you call the mysteries of the Cabal if only tender friendship enviable and sincere be the regard what can be more meritorious or a truer emblem of their happiness above tis by imitation the nearest approach they can make a faint a distant land shape of immortal joys but if they carry it a length beyond what nature designed and fortified themselves by these new formed a Matiz against the hymeneal union or give their husband but a second place in their affection than cares it is wrong and to be blamed thus far to the marriage of the thing itself but let me look with true regard to the world if it permit a shadow of suspicion a bare imagination that the mysteries they pretend have anything in them contrary to kind and that strict modesty and virtue do not adorn and support the precision tis to be avoided and condemned unless they give occasion for obscene laughter no invented satire fanciful jealousies in an impure distrusts in that nice unforgiving sex who arbitrarily must decide that woman was only created with all her beauty softness passions and complete tenderness to adorn the husband’s reign perfect his happiness and propagated the kind the text then moves on to other topics that are less interesting to us we come back to the matter of the Cabal much later in the text here our friend who goes by the pseudonym antha becomes the topic again you may remember that Jana and her special friend the Martinez of sand Amir weighed about in male clothing picking up women and lady intelligence Ponder’s the attractions of cross-dressing intelligence she that was in the coach with her is one of the widows of the new cabal what an irregularity of taste is theirs they do not in reality love men but don’t on the representation of men in women hence it is that these ladies are so fond of the dress unclear that it is extremely against my liking I would have the sexes distinguished as well by their garbage by their manner that bewitching modesty which is so becoming to the opening veil is against kind in the confirmed bold an agreeable error of the hat feather and Peru if in this man’s dress you pretend to retain the shamefacedness of the other sex you lose the native charm that recommends it if you dismiss modesty you dismiss the highest beauty of the female sex for without regard to that much in fashion virtue assurance next to real innate modesty in ladies which indeed never fails of giving the appearance I think the outward blush and the seeming habitude of it one of the greatest ornaments they can wear yatha evidently was not only fond of adopting masculine dress herself but found it charming on other women she falls for an actress who performed in breeches parts and pays her court but the actress the flattered evidently didn’t like her in quite that way but to return to my widow of the Cabal she fell in love with one of the comedians when she was acting the part of a young lover into libertine the would have sent for the girl and made her very considerable presence ordered her picture in that dress to be taken that length by one of the best hands and carried her to remain with her during the season at her Villa the comedian was dazzled at these endearments and advances from a lady of fortune and did not know how to behave herself in a manner regular enough for her conversation had been pretty much at large however she added her whole endeavors and by that means became tolerably uneasy to herself it’s not being a person abundantly used to decorum and constraint the widow redoubled her kindness and caresses assured her of her tenderness and Amity she even proceeded to gentle squeezes and embraces nothing could be more innocently endearing than her transports the comedian was at the loss not only to know how to merit so many favors but of the meaning of them she was also weary of the solitude and splendor of the widow’s family and wanted to return to the amorous hurry and theatrical littleness she had been used to and therefore received those honours with no new cabal heir but as if rather disgusted at such amiable proofs of Amity told the lady she did not like those hugs and endearments from her own sex they seemed unnatural did they come from a man she should be able to guess at his design but here she was in loss the widow found her companion not of a taste virtuous enough for the mysteries of their union her mind ran all upon what she had been too much used to the other sex the comedian had been vacated by a moor by abominable intrigues with the filthy odious men and was therefore not worthy of the honor being admitted into their community she withdrew those airs of fondness from a tasteless undeserving wrench assumed more coldness in her behavior to her whilst in the country and at her coming back by little and little dropped her very acquaintance when she was returned for house in town to show the lurking sperm malice or gather her detestation device though but in effigy she caused the comedians picture to be let down and with her own hand cut out the face so stamped upon and abused she sent it back to her whom it represented at the same time causing her to be told had by her loose libertine life made it a scandal to her house to have such a picture seen in it the poor comedian fella crying and said she might have let her alone she did not for her part seek nor covet the acquaintance she was no worse now than when twas first drawn neither could her life be a secret to the virtuous widow she should have objected to her then before she gave her the trouble of sitting and not to affront her picture so but she guessed the reason of it and would leave from leadership to be punished by the reflection a third episode on which to conclude our visits with the ladies of the new cabal but when we strip away the snark and sarcasm the pointed political satire and the unavoidable misogyny even from a female author it’s a remarkable picture of how a 17th century writer imagined the lives of women who loved women as Catherine Kraft Fairchild notes in an article covered in the blog recently there is no single identifiable stereotype of lesbians in the 18th century and we see that variety among the members of the new cabal some women form long term couples others play the field some enjoy playing with masculine performance others enjoy traditional femininity some aspire to chaste friendship others seek out sexual relationships some are able to opt out of heterosexual marriage either by luck or widowhood others accommodate their same-sex desires within an unavoidable marriage others enjoy the love of both women and men within this they hold ideals of mutual support and community if they also felt the need to protect the relationships with a veil of secrecy that isn’t so very different from what many modern lesbians have experienced in living memory these women’s lives were not closely similar to ours they had entirely different sets of assumptions challenges strategies strengths and vulnerabilities but they were there even hidden under the flimsy pseudonyms that didn’t protect manly from charges of libel and we can be grateful to her even given her satirical purpose for giving us a glimpse of their lives I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the lesbian historic motif podcast if you want to follow up on anything we’ve covered see the show notes for links and to contact me with questions book announcements or topic suggestions if you enjoyed this podcast please rate it and subscribe on iTunes stitcher or pod bean and consider supporting our patreon and if you’re on Facebook check out the lesbian talk show chat group [Music]