In 1909 a sexual directive was issued to members of the Colonial Service which for the first time laid down a general rule to discourage concubinage, warning of the severe penalties that could be expected. This change of official attitude was one of the few tangible elements differentiating the post-Edwardian empire from what had gone before. Hubert Silberrad was an assistant district commissioner at Nyeri, near Fort Hall in central Kenya. The Times carried several letters commenting on the Silberrad case, together with an editorial on 26 December. In Northern Rhodesia, however, the situation remained unchecked until 1909-10, when the sexual activities of three men attracted attention: C. J. Macnamara, R. L. Harrison and R. A. Osborne. Macnamara, Native Commissioner of Guimbi sub-district in Northwestern Rhodesia, admitted concubinage with an African woman from December 1906 until September 1907.
This book tries to show how sexual attitudes and activities influenced the lives of the imperial elite as well as the subjects of empire. It begins with an examination of the nature of sexuality and of its influence on individuals. The book argues that sexual dynamics crucially underpinned the whole operation of British empire and Victorian expansion. Sexual needs can be imperative, and people will go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy them. The book considers the behaviour of members of the imperial ruling elite, and examines their attitude to marriage and the relationship between their private lives and service of the empire. It looks at sexual opportunity in some different types of imperial situation, both formal and informal, in an attempt to see how sexual interaction underpinned the operative structures of British expansion. As the keeping of mistresses was not uncommon in eighteenth-century Britain, the keeping of a mistress in British India became a well-established practice. Europeans in India could flirt outrageously, but they must not fall in love or marry. To keep the women free from disease, Indian prostitutes were admitted to the cantonments, to the lal bazar after medical examination and registration, where they were given periodical checks. Official reaction against sexual opportunism began in earnest with the Purity Campaign launched in 1869, which changed the visible face of British life and attitudes. Undoubtedly there was thereafter more decorum, more chastity, less opportunity and less fun.
Sexuality, Catholicism and modernisation in Ireland, 1940–65
Michael G. Cronin
, however, considerably more complicated than any
such crude allegory of ‘Bríd Mahon’ and ‘Angela MacNamara’ would
suggest. There was, for instance, the irony of Mahon’s own biography.
Behind the leisured persona of the Sunday Press column was a hardworking and underpaid folklorist, whose ‘day job’ was with that most
‘traditional’ of institutions, the Irish Folklore Commission.5 On the
other hand, MacNamara’s promotion of purity, chastity and marriage is
wholly entwined with a rigorously individualist rhetoric of self-development and cultivating ‘personality’. Since the
is both ‘immodestly restrained’ (Arden ed. 272n400) and modest, i.e. contraries
‘hold unity’. 10 According to the
Arden editors, oxymoron and chiasmus ‘enact the reconciliation of life and death
and sex and chastity’ (Arden ed. 272n400). But the riddle of the life–death
chiasmus is still there, and the apparent chiasmus – life’s triumph in
the map of death / And death’s dim look in life’s mortality
– does not exactly express a double
has already decided is death, a decision he seems to have reached even before he arrives (Chaucer tells us that he comes ‘[w]ith fadres pitee stikynge thurgh his herte, / Al wolde he from his purpos nat converte’ (211–12)). From Virginius's perspective, Virginia, the epitome of shamefast chastity, must either die or suffer violation at the hands of a lustful judge; but Chaucer nowhere suggests that the latter is really an option for Virginius. After a prolonged exchange, Virginia submits to her father's logic, and Virginius cuts off the maiden's head to preserve her
concubinage), to which the problematic issue of lay investiture would later be added. It is useful here to consider each in turn.
Simony and clerical chastity
Simony had a long history within the Western Church. It derived its name from Acts 8.18 where Simon Magus attempted to purchase from Peter the gift of the Holy Spirit which had descended on the apostles at Pentecost. Although repeatedly condemned at ecumenical and regional councils from the time of Chalcedon ( AD 431) onwards, and identified by Pope Gregory the Great as a heresy whether by promise or payment
make them appear much craftier and more experienced than the apparently incompetent panders, much as occurs in The Humorous Lieutenant .
There, after the disappointing attempts of the panders Charinthus, Timon, and Menippus, it is only through the intervention of the bawd Leucippe that King Antigonus manages to track down Celia – with whom his son Demetrius is in love – and lure her to court in order to test her character and chastity (though he is then overcome by the desire actually to seduce her). Leucippe is
unconsummated pilgrimage. Finally, I’ll suggest that Shakespeare
painted with the colors of Marian idolatry the convert Catholic
Othello’s obsession with the chastity of his bride.
In 1961 Emrys Jones noticed the correlation between the
date of the writing of Othello – ‘probably the first
of Shakespeare’s tragedies to be written for the King’s
Men’ 34 – and
the reprinting in
invariably included a depreciation of the coniugati as the lowest state in the sexual–moral hierarchy, well behind the continent and the virgins. The reformers’ rhetoric, as has been discussed, was accompanied by increasing accusations of sexual misconduct, more frequent allegations of both spiritual and genealogical incest, and at the same time an increasing exaltation of chastity, continence, asceticism and even spiritual marriage. The reformers undoubtedly believed that these new values were in the best interests of Christian society. Yet, as Moore notes, what they
How can one know if a woman is honourable? In medieval culture, female honour
rested most heavily on one thing: sexual continence, or chastity. But how could
one be absolutely sure if a given woman was chaste? Practising Shame
demonstrates how, in the literature of later medieval England, female honour is
a matter of emotional practice and performance – it requires learning how to
‘feel’ in a specific way. In order to safeguard their chastity, women were
encouraged to cultivate hypervigilance against the possibility of sexual shame
through a combination of inward reflection and outward comportment. Often termed
‘shamefastness’, this practice was believed to reinforce women’s chastity of
mind and body, and to communicate that chastity to others through a combination
of conventional gestures. At the same time, however, medieval anxiety concerning
the potentially misleading nature of appearances rendered these gestures suspect
– after all, if good conduct could be learned, then it could also be
counterfeited. Practising Shame uncovers the paradoxes and complications that
emerged out of the emotional practices linked to female honour, as well as some
of the unexpected ways in which those practices might be reappropriated by male
authors. Written at the intersection of literary studies, gender studies, and
the history of emotions, this book transforms our understanding of the ethical
construction of femininity in the past and provides a new framework for thinking
about honourable womanhood now and in the years to come.