The Pearl was an extraordinary subterranean magazine that had a brief life of eighteen months in the years and It was devoted to unrestrained erotica, comprising astonishing sexual escapades, jokes and bawdy rhymes. This volume contains three of the novellas which were serialised in The Pearl.
Having decided to bring out a Journal, the Editor racks his brains for a suitable name with which to christen his periodical. Friends are generally useless in an emergency of this kind; they suggest all kinds of impossible names; the following were some of the titles proposed in this instance: "Facts and Fancies," "The Cremorne," "The All Round," "The Monthly Courses," "The Devil's Own," and "Dugdale's Ghost"; the two first had certainly great attractions to our mind, but at last our own ideas have hit upon the modest little "Pearl," as more suitable, especially in the hope that when it comes under the snouts of the moral and hypocritical swine of the world, they may not trample it underfoot, and feel disposed to rend the publisher, but that a few will become subscribers on the quiet. To such better disposed piggywiggys, I would say, for encouragement, that they have only to keep up appearances by regularly attending church, giving to charities, and always appearing deeply interested in moral philanthropy, to ensure a respectable and highly moral character, and that if they only are clever enough never to be found out, they may, sub rosa, study and enjoy the philosophy of life till the end of their days, and earn a glorious and saintly epitaph on their tombstone, when at last the Devil pegs them out.
It was closed down by the British authorities for violating contemporary standards of obscenity. The Pearl ran for eighteen issues from July to Decemberwith two Christmas supplements. As an underground publication, it was limited to copies and cost twenty-five pounds, which made it unusually expensive relative to comparable contemporaneous pornographic periodicals.
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A pretty little novice in her convent woke at dawn, And looking from her lattice she spied upon the lawn, A handsome shepherd quite intent On playing with his instrument, his instrument so long! She tarried not a moment, but swiftly rushed below, And with the handsome shepherd she learned her lesson so That soon she played most excellent Fantasies on his instrument, his instrument so long! Once more her fingers to work went, Which made him use his instrument, his instrument so long!
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Private Case, Public Scandal by Peter Fryer was the peculiar tome that pointed me to the explosion in the Victorian erotic book trade and the penumbrous underworld of the mysterious Walter. When we write about the past, we pack moral conundrums into tidy boxes. Yet morality shifts with time.
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