‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’ (1978 fac-simile of 1775)

This is a directory that includes the names, ages & addresses of some of Edinburgh’s, apparently, most proficient ‘Ladies of Pleasure’. I’d come across this book a few times in my seeking out of other titles but had no real desire to obtain a copy as it doesn’t have too much of a bearing on what my initial purpose was with Random Scottish History. After I’d given the Bridgeton History Group the wee disbound facsimile copy of the ‘Mercurius Caledonius‘ to have a look at, a friend, Wullie, asked me if I’d ever come across this publication, I admitted I had and decided to obtain a copy. There are no original editions to be found for sale anywhere but Paul Harris Publishing have done a nice wee job here in replicating the original. The contemporary pictures at the end of this edition weren’t originally included. I didn’t want to risk breaching any copyright attached to Harris’ introduction by typing it out or including a scan of it here but it explains that the original was “attributed to James Tytler,” which I wouldn’t have believed, apparently this attribution offended the learned Mr Tytler too as he referred to it as “that nasty little book.” I have, however, included here searchable transcriptions of the original Preface text. Whoever the author was we can be sure he REALLY appreciated the prostitutes and their craft as he goes to great lengths to defend their business, considering it as bearing “the seal of heaven”, alluding to them as heroes for potentially sacrificing “their health, their lives, nay, their reputations,” in providing the service they do. He doesn’t shy away from deriding those in high positions as, “the real prostitutes” either.



Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Front Cover and Spine.
Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Publisher’s and Title Page.


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Preface.
“In the succession of  natural things, their progress and their decay, individuals seem like atoms in the sun-beams of little moment in the great scale of Providence. The preservation of the species in general appears to ingross the whole scope and attention of Nature; she is eternally busy in supplying the place of particulars that fall under the hand of time, and by a kind of  plastick renown reviving, in a blooming offspring, the departed fire; and if you trace her through all the various motions in her wide extent, she will be every where found to tend to one great act of love. – To attempt a suppression of this almighty impulse in the human species, would be a task as rash and as idle, as to bid the hills touch heaven. – All coersive bars, all artificial fences, thrown up by the hand of”


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Preface.
“power against this prolifick ardor, that essential act, have hitherto been in all communities, and will for ever be overleaped and trampled down.
The mighty call will be obeyed, and men and women always rebel against such weak restrictions: that generous frenzy which invigorates the soul is invincible, and must command. – Why then such incessant clamours against the votaries of love? Why are the insults of the venal justice, or of the rough-hewn muzzey monarch of the night permitted? Their number is rather increased then lessened by persecution, which in this, as in cases of a higher nature, rather contributes to advance than lessen the point at which it aims. No enthusiasm is so strong, so stimulous as that of copulation, it brings its warrant from nature’s closest cabinet, and bears even the seal of heaven, “increase and multiply;” all nature ecchoes to the general, the universal mandate.
If it be a true position, that “Whatever is, is right,” why shall the victims of this natural propensity, the volunteers of Venus, the fairest, the most amiable of the creation be hunted like outcasts from society, be perpetually griped by the hand of petty tyranny? Do they not sacrifice their health, their lives, nay, their reputations, at the altars of love and benevolence? Let the severest virtue reflect with me a little; and that they are of vast use to the community will be surely allowed.
What villainies do they not prevent? What plots, what combinations do they not dissolve? Clasped in the delicious arms of beauty, the factious malcontent forgets the black workings of his soul. Even here the miser feels some throbbing of human delight; stealing himself, half unwilling from his nature, he for a short space smuggles some small benevolence, and before he departs, is prevailed upon to leave his soul behind – a Guinea. – What a miracle can exceed the opening of a miser’s heart?
In the fair one’s embrace the prodigal escapes from the snares of the gamester, nor is he laid open  to the wiles of the sharper. With her the youth is taught the lesson of the mind practised in genuine taste, and learns the right use of things. Here the drunkard drops a while his swinish appetite, and gazes like a man upon beauty. The lawyer in the case of love, forgets his quirks and equivocations, and is for that short space honest and upright. Behold the merchant also stealing from business,”


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Preface.
“under the mark of night, to the apartments of his Thais; where, forgetful of carking care, no more remembering the rough sea, the bold wind, nor the dangers of the long expected ship, his heart expands with transports; the list of bankrupts remains unread; and her lovely bosom yields him the highest of sublunary bliss. Nor does the minister forget those delightful walks; here even he vouchsafes to call, prompted to be sure by a righteous spirit, to exhort the sisterhood to social duties, and sometimes interlines a Psalm with a visit.
But these are private instances of the advantages reflected upon a community by the fair followers of the Cyprian Queen; these advantages are trivial when compared to the publick good they occasion. Though custom has loaded them with the infamous and ungenerous appellation of prostitutes, do we not owe to them, the peace of families, of cities, nay of kingdoms? This is a point of light in which they are seldom considered – it is here that rigour bends its brow, and severity relaxes its edge. – Were they hindered, which Heaven’s forbid! by hypocritick power, think how terrible might the consequences be. The restless propagating spirit, the stimulating energy implanted in us will work its way; deprive it of food, will bars, bolts, or authority protect the honour of the daughter, or the pious matron’s virtue? This wild frenzy breaking all restraint, will bear down decency, relation, kindred and religion. – What domestick bane! what warfare of humanity! litigation, bloodshed, incest! – but, I forbear, fancy trembles to revolve the horrid anarchy, and the mind declines to dictate.
Say then, ye who have fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends whom ye love, whom ye esteem, will ye not stretch out your hand hereafter to protect, will ye not cease to persecute the sisterhood, whom reason tells you, ye ought to defend? Gratitude will inform you that ye ought. Why named I gratitude? Alas! I had forgotten, that it is an unpractised worn-out virtue, or brutal rigour, disguised like, and miscalled justice, would be taken off from persecuting these benevolent friends to the publick good, these amiable preservers of general tranquillity, who lay aside all that hypocrisy admires, all that fashion with her varnished glass reflects as amiable upon the eye of folly, who sacrifice esteem, rank, and sometimes life, like the martyrs of old, in their country’s sacred cause; yet even do they suffer imprisonments, stripes, and (what custom has entailed upon them) contempt; – unjust, ungenerous proceedings!”


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Preface.
“To the glory of London, and especially to our most amiable Queen, who is the patroness, be it remarked, that in her bosom have lately sprung up some publick spirits, some whole hearts teem with grateful remembrance, some who feel for the common good, who see with pity’s eye those weak individuals languish under tyrant laws, most infringed by the makers of them. Such patriot generous souls, to the honour of this age, even now exist, who with hearts feeling to humanity, have considered this deplorable case, and opened a retreat for hunted or deserted beauty. How good, how gracious, how venerable is such a society, who never shut the gates against harrassed worth, but deal out comfort to the oppressed with the hand of liberality! How praise-worthy would it be, if this metropolis would follow their example.
The lovely Nymphs who are partakers of our bounty have hearts  as large, as universal as our desires; and the whole race of mankind are the objects of their warm regard. Like true citizens of life, they scatter blessings with unrestrained munificence. Neither the dread of want, nor care of children checks their rapid career; their course is like the Nile, it enriches where-ever it overflows. The mercer, the milliner, the play, nay even the parish church, sometimes is gladdened with the chink of their gold, for, whatever exceptions the ministers may pretend to make to their calling, he has none to their purses; and for parish dues, he calls upon them as well as upon the rest of the flock.
Persist then, my friends, persist in the cause of keeping; in that you shew yourselves friends to charity, virtue, and the state; continue to cherish these gifts of heaven, still hug to your bosom the cordial, the reviving warmth communicated by youth and beauty; to the dear, the lovely girl whom you shall select, be your purse-strings never closed, nor let the name of prostitute deter you from this pious resolve. Listen not to unmannerly prudence, let her not argue you from the good purpose, for he will sometimes justle forwards when passion subsides. What is there in the ides of prostitution to which the greatest characters are not sometimes subservient, don’t it flourish in courts, in senates, in halls of justice in fleets and armies? nor is the sacred porch secure from the approach. Is the soft, the gentle minion of love, so great a prostitute, as he who beneath a scarlet robe, and the dignity of Lordship conceals a mind fraught with cor-”


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Preface.
“ruption! Is not the minister of state, who sacrifices his country’s honour to his private interest; the admiral, whom venality teaches to avoid the reflects of an enemy, or the general whom gold allures from the path of conquest, more guilty than she? These, and only these are the real prostitutes, that defile streams of publick virtue, and taint a nation’s glory. On these should justice aim the angry bolt, and vengeance hurl her fiery dart. Nor let the black gown secure his escape, who in the pulpit asserts the cause of religion, and then descends to make a joke of it; who holds forth in publick in defence of every virtue, and in private is the common encourager of vice. These are classes that should bow under the rod of Astrea.
But to you, ye amiable Nymphs, whom elastick spirits prompt to propagate [t]he joys of soft endearments, to soot[h] the soul with the circean cup of pleasure, to you may laws and magistrates be kind, with you may the statesman, the soldier, the parson, the lawyer, and the merchant share his treasure. – But never may that caitif called a surgeon be found within your walls; guard against his approach, as you value life and its support, avoid with care the contaminated embrace. Remember still your keeper, soothe his la[m]bent flame, preserve the torpid wish alive; with wise expedients rouse up faint desire, and make him young again. Consider that keepers are the sinews of your trade, may they multiply in number and in wealth; may they be always ready and willing to keep up the call as honest nature bids; so shall the publick be invigorated, the cause of virtue promoted, and the hateful name of Ganymede blotted from the book of memory.”


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), lan of the City and Castle of Edinburgh by William Edgar (1765).


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Last of the Ladies’ Descriptions [left] and John Kay’s ‘Miss Burns’ (1788) [right].


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), John Kay [left] and James Tytler & Friends [right].


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Deacon Brodie [left] and Plan of Edinburgh’s High Street [right].


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Walter Geikie’s ‘Libberton Wynd’ [left] and Lady Stair’s Close [right].


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Wiiliam Creech’s Land and St. Giles’ Church [left] and Tall Buildings at the Cowgate and Parliament Close [right].


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), A General View of the City,  Castle of Edinburgh, the Capital of Scotland about 1779.


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Advocate’s Close [left] and Carruber’s Close [right].


Anonymous (1775), ‘Directory of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh’, Edinburgh: Paul Harris (1978), Elphinstone Court.

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