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three pairs of lovers with space

, 1698


John Fryer (died 1733) was an English doctor and Fellow of the Royal Society, who sailed from Gravesend in December 1672 for a lengthy tour of India and Persia undertaken in the interests of the East India Company, and from which he did not return until August 1682.[1] His book about life in the lands he visited, A new account of East-India and Persia, in eight letters being Nine Years Travels. Begun 1672. And finished 1681 was published in London in 1698.

The text here is taken from the Hakluyt Society edition edited by William Crooke and published in three volumes in London in 1909. The two footnotes that are Crooke’s are so indicated.

A Description of Surat[2], And Journy into Duccan. (in Letter III, 22 Sept. 1675)


Animadversions on the City and People of Surat in the East-Indies.

John Fryer, in the frontispiece to his book

[In a list of judicial sentences handed down by the Governor of Surat:]

The following Delinquents being of another kind, we shall see how they fare: … The other was a Boy’s sticking a Sodomitish Moor to the Heart with his own Catarre,[3] while he attempted upon his Body; which Fact was so far from being accused as a Fault, that the Boy came off with a Commendation; though there is nothing more frequently committed among them, than the unnatural Sin of Buggery. [I 245]


Of [the people of Surat’s] … abundant Wealth, and Fitness for Trade.

The Moors, who are by Nature slothful, will not take pains; being proud, scorn to be taught; and jealous of the Baseness of Mankind, dare not trust their Children under tuition, for fear of Sodomy; whereby few of their Great Men or Merchants can read, but keep a Scrivan of the Gentues: One which account it is the Banyans make all Bargains, and transact all Money-business; … [I 282]

A Special Chorography and History of East-India. (in Letter IV, undated)


Is a Summary Rehearsal of the Whole.

A Fakier

Is an Holy Man among the Moors; … Of this Order are many the most Dissolute, Licentious and Profane Persons in the World, committing Sodomy, will be Drunk with Bang, and Curse God and Mahomet; depending on the Toleration the Mogul[4] indulges them with, having been one himself in the time of the Contest among his Brethren; … [II 113-4]

The Present State of Persia. (in Letter V, undated)


Of their Bookmen and Books; …

                       The title page

The Children of Nobles, or other Rich Men, are brought up at home, not stirring out of their Houses without a Train of Eunuchs and Servants, for fear of Sodomy, so much practised among the pestilent Sect of Mahometans: Other Children of Inferior Rank are taught in their Publick Schools for a small matter. [III 66]


Nor does it seldom fall out, from their aptness to Venery, and proneness to make use of Boys, that they are afflicted with terrible Mariscae, or swoln Piles of several forms, by them called Obne;[5] wherein Worms, as they perswade themselves, are bred, that excruciate them with such an Itch as they cannot lay, without adding Sin to Sin, and therein they report their Cure to be completed, and this brings on them a white Leprosy, not incommoding the Body with Illness, but disgracing it with Spots in the Face, Thighs, Breast, and other parts about them. [III 99]


… The Eunuchs, Vertues and Vices; …

The Persians, when they let go their Modesty, put no bounds to their lascivious Desires, not being content with Natural Inclinations, outdo the sensuality of the hottest Beasts, who never attempt on other than the Females of their own Species; but these, oh shame! covet Boys as much as Women; and to speak an horrid Truth, are too guilty of Buggering other Creatures; these poor Children thus abused are sad Spectacles, looking diseased, and are not long liv’d. [III 131]


[1] “John Fryer (d. 1733)” in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).

[2] Surat was the capital of the province of Gujarat in the Mughal Empire.

[3] Hind. katār, “a dagger” (Yule, Hobsob-Jobson, 496) [footnote by Crooke]

[4] The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (reign name Alamgir).

[5] “Pers. ubna, piles resulting from vicious practices” claims Crooke, but actually a man’s craving, considered a sickness, for the passive role in pedication. See Chapter One of Khaled El-Rouayheb’s Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 (Chicago, 2005) for a detailed explanation.




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