the lewd embraces

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gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi there,

"According to their doctrine, the offspring of perhaps the lewd embraces of a successful invader shall, from generation to generation, arrogate the right of lavishing on their pleasures a proportion of the fruits of the earth, more than sufficient to supply the wants of thousands of their fellow-creatures; claim authority to manage them like beasts of burthen, and, without superior industry, capacity, or virtue, nay, though disgraceful to humanity, by their ignorance, intemperance, and brutality, shall be deemed best calculated to frame laws and to consult for the welfare of society."

- iBoston.org

Previously, he asks what kind of character the statesmen have introduced.

What does "the lewd embraces" mean? Based on the context, it should be a certain kind of person. Does it mean "disgraceful or venal retinues"? I just find the usage unusual. I can feel the vibrancy and vivacity underlying but my words failed me.

Thanks

Gil
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This is old-fashioned, ornate, long-winded writing, Gil. The author is telling you that these offspring are creatures who were created by the impregnation of women who succumbed to the ugly lust of conquering invaders. That implies that the women were raped by invading soldiers or something like that.

    Please remember to include the title of the work and the author's name in the text of your questions. A bare link to "iBoston.org" doesn't tell us enough.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    This is old-fashioned, ornate, long-winded writing, Gil. The author is telling you that these offspring are creatures who were created by the impregnation of women who succumbed to the ugly lust of conquering invaders. That implies that the women were raped by invading soldiers or something like that.

    Please remember to include the title of the work and the author's name in the text of your questions. A bare link to "iBoston.org" doesn't tell us enough.
    Thanks. I will try my best to do that.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    The author is telling you that these offspring are creatures who were created by the impregnation of women who succumbed to the ugly lust of conquering invaders. That implies that the women were raped by invading soldiers or something like that.
    I can feel something is going on, but without your help, I could have never figured it out. I mean there is so much information.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    That's not surprising, Gil. The author didn't give you many clues to work with. "The lewd embraces of a successful invader" isn't much information about the picture he apparently had in mind as he wrote those words.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    It seems to be describing the beginning of monarchy. The first invader (like William of Normandy) claims a right to rule derived from a successful invasion. Yet his claim is no better than that of a rapist who impregnates his victim. Worse, the descendants (by monarchical succession) of the act of rape assert the same right to rule, so perpetuating the injustice, while framing laws to suit themselves rather than the citizenry.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That implies that the women were raped by invading soldiers or something like that.
    I don't often disagree with you, Owlman, but here I beg to differ.

    I don't think the phrase means more than 'the children of the successful invader'.

    The suggestion that the embraces of such a person will be lewd I see as nothing more than a gratuitous insult springing from Adams' dislike of usurpers.
     
    Adams is speaking of hereditary aristocracy. Keep in mind that at this time, the more important house of Parliament was the House of Lords, and that membership normally depended on birth rather than merit. Many noble houses have dishonorable origins -- for example, William the Conqueror was himself illegitimate, as his father never married William's mother, who was his mistress, and some of the highest peers in England at the time (such as the Dukes of Grafton, St. Albans, Cleveland, Buccleuch, and Richmond) all owed their titles to the fact that they were descended from the numerous illegitimate children Charles II had with his mistresses.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I don't often disagree with you, Owlman, but here I beg to differ.

    I don't think the phrase means more than 'the children of the successful invader'.
    That's okay, TT. I'm not offended. I must confess that I wasn't interested enough in the quote to dig around in the source behind Gil's bare link. I wrote a quick answer based on my impression of what "the lewd embraces of a successful invader" meant to me upon seeing the remark in that hurricane of words.;)
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    You might want to read the next paragraph, TT, where Adams writes:
    The Deity, then, has not given any order or family of men authority over others; and if any men have given it, they only could give it for themselves.

    And, yes, I agree with GWB that he is probably speaking more broadly of the hereditary aristocracy - though I think that it was the monarchy in particular that he had in his crosshairs.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You might want to read the next paragraph, TT, where Adams writes:
    The Deity, then, has not given any order or family of men authority over others; and if any men have given it, they only could give it for themselves.
    You say I might, but what does that have to do with the usurper's embraces being lewd?

    And I do realise that the word lewd originally meant lay/not clerical, but Adams is surely using it in its sense as lascivious. So I don't feel that the divine right of kings really comes into consideration here.
     
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    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    Thank you, TT. I had in mind the Norman invasion, and the subsequent butchery and rapes for which the Bishops of Normandy imposed penance. However, the offspring of such rapes would not belong to the ruling classes, and so it is unlikely that "lewd embraces" refers to them. I think that GWB's explanation, which is consistent with your interpretation, is much more plausible.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think Adams is directly discussing "royalty" (and therefore through implication hereditary aristocracy as well, per GWB's post #8), and as such, it is a direct poke at the monarchy from William the Conqueror (Pertinax's posts) through to the then Hanoverian monarch, George III against whom the American War of Independence was being fought. Adams is saying that monarchs take what is not theirs by right, as they have no more right to any more than any other person. It's a declaration of his belief in equality and freedom. Just before the OP he says:

    We have explored the temple of royalty, and found that the idol we have bowed down to has eyes which see not, ears that hear not our prayers, and a heart like the nether millstone. We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which he bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may his kingdom come!

    ...But to the eye of reason what can be more clear than that all men have an equal right to happiness?...

    He then says that nature only gave us higher or lower degrees of intelligence and physical strength, and that the distortion of this natural order whereby hereditary monarchs (and peers) are elevated far above other people has been introduced "due to the craft of statesmen, more fatal than priestcraft..."

    The quote in the OP then directly follows, in which "the lewd embraces" is purely a sexual insult implying lasciviousness (per TT in post #11), in that monarchs, with the implication that especially British ones, can't keep their hands off women which also has the inference that they can't keep their hands off the Thirteen Colonies in America either.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The quote in the OP then directly follows, in which "the lewd embraces" is purely a sexual insult implying lasciviousness (per TT in post #11), in that monarchs, with the implication that especially British ones, can't keep their hands off women which also has the inference that they can't keep their hands off the Thirteen Colonies in America either.
    This is where we disagree, Trochfa. I think any husband's embraces are 'lewd' in Adams' sense.

    Don't forget William III, who one might consider an usurper, and for whom Adams, with his puritan upbringing, regarded more favourably than the earlier, Catholic, monarchs, not that this regard survived the apparent prodigality and tyrannical treatment of the colonies by the Hanoverians.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    [I know you'll disagree with this Thomas T :cool:, but I just wanted to explain what is perhaps my own weird way of viewing the world! :D]

    I was trying to make the point, albeit poorly as usual, that although Adam's is talking in generalities about royalty, usurpers, "lewd embraces", unearned rights, control over others and taking more than their fair share of resources, the specific king that all would actually be thinking of in America during the time of the American War of Independence would be George III. Therefore the meaning of "lewd embraces" is in the general context of the speech the same as any husband's lewd embraces, but in the context of this section of the speech about royalty and the paragraph quoted in the OP all being addressed would be directly thinking of George III who had become the main focus of animosity. Just under one month before Adam's speech, this strength of feeling against George III was vented in Bowling Green Park (New York), where the gilded statue of the king upon a horse in the style of a Roman emperor was torn down by African slaves as ordered by the Sons of Liberty after the Declaration of Independence had been read to Washington's troops. Therefore anti-George III sentiments would be simmering and boiling throughout the Thirteen Colonies at that time.


    Bowling Green (New York City) - Wikipedia

    Successful invader:
    The Hanoverian's themselves were seen by some as usurpers and invaders. George I became king in 1714 after the last Stuart monarch Queen Anne died. This was because he was Protestant and only a Protestant could become monarch as they would also become head of the (Protestant) Church of England. However, many saw this as wrong since George I was only Queen Anne's second cousin. There were in fact over 50 Catholic candidates with a closer relationship to Queen Anne and some thought they had a better claim to the throne. Hence the Jacobite risings which had only ceased in 1746 with the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden.

    Whig politicians believed Parliament had the right to determine the succession, and bestow it on the nearest Protestant relative of the Queen, while many Tories were more inclined to believe in the hereditary right of the Catholic Stuarts, who were nearer relations. In 1710, George announced that he would succeed in Britain by hereditary right, as the right had been removed from the Stuarts, and he retained it. "This declaration was meant to scotch any Whig interpretation that parliament had given him the kingdom [and] ... convince the Tories that he was no usurper."[27]
    George I of Great Britain - Wikipedia

    Therefore George III could be seen by some to be the great-grandson of a usurper and "invader".

    Lewd embraces:
    "Lewd embraces", while not directly meaning only George III it would no doubt remind people of him. George could be seen to be the product of a successful "invader" where the crown had been passed on "generation to generation" through the Hannovarians down to him. Also, George's father, Frederick the Prince of Wales had had nine children and George and his wife Charlotte were particularly fertile. By August 1776 they had already had ten children and showed no signs of stopping. Indeed, I believe they went on to have fifteen children in total. As such a contemporary in America or Britain might well see him (and perhaps the Hanoverians) as being rather expert in "lewd embraces".
    George III of the United Kingdom - Wikipedia

    [For anyone interested there is the online Georgian Papers Programme launched by the Queen, which is a five-year project to digitise original documents and papers, as part of this the Georgian Papers Online website allows free access to these scans. It was started in 2015 and is "a partnership between the Royal Archives, the Royal Library and King’s College London. The Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture (OI) and William & Mary are also sharing in this work as primary partners for the US." It takes some digging down through the links but eventually you reach viewable pdfs of the original documents. What is in the Catalogue? )
     
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