This engraving comes to us from the 1770 French translation of John Cleland's famous erotic novel Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. As such, and this should be obvious by now, the image itself and this post are not safe for work. I debated for some time about including this print, but it wouldn't be a thorough study if I ignored those images that might be seen as distasteful.
Rather than uploading the image as I usually do, I will instead link to it for the curious. This will prevent any misunderstandings that might come from scrolling through my posts. You can find it here.
Despite being a French translation, this edition of Fanny Hill was printed in London on the Strand by G. Fenton. This may be a pseudonym used by the printer in an attempt to obscure their direct connection to smut, but it is the same pseudonym used when they ran the first edition of Fanny Hill back in 1748. Fenton's French version is accompanied by engraved illustrations of Fanny Hill's many salacious adventures.
This print depicts one of the lesser known trysts that Fanny Hill engaged in. It is described in a single paragraph. Perhaps Fenton chose to depict this scene because it was a character he was already familiar with. The Strand, as I've mentioned before, was a sailor community. With their very particular dress, it was easy enough to put that character on paper.
Fanny is walking home from a frustrating evening with an impotent man when "a young sailor...seized me as a prize." Despite her initial anger at his unwelcome kiss, she accepts his offer to join him in a tavern, and there they do the deed "with an impetuosity and eagerness, bred very likely by a long fast at sea."
Cleland peppers the scene with naval metaphors befitting Bowles' prints of sailors courting women. "He fell directly on board me," Fanny says. And when he "was not going by the right door, and knocking desperately at the wrong one, I told him of it:—'Pooh!' says he, 'my dear, any port in a storm.'" When they came to their conclusion, he treated her with "a warm broadside."
Fenton depicts the sailor with a reversed cocked hat and bob wig with a striped neckerchief draped over his jacket. The single breasted jacket is fitted with metal buttons and slash cuffs. Notably, his stick is nearby, despite never being mentioned in the text of the story.