A brief description of The Romance of Lust as described by Pisanus Fraxi in his book Catena Librorum Tacendorum:
"Altogether The Romance of Lust, though no masterpiece of composition, is far better written than most English works of its class. It contains scenes not surpassed by the most libidinous chapters of Justine. The episodes, however, are frequently most improbable, sometimes impossible, and are as a rule too filthy and crapulous. No attempt is made to moderate the language, but the grossest words are invariably employed. The last 26 pages of the 4th volume are occupied by Letters produced in the Divorce Case, Cavendish v. Cavendish and Rochefoucault. They are 12 in number, and were written by the young Count De La Rochefoucault, in 1859, while attaché to the French Embassy at Rome. No pen can adequately depict their nasty licentiousness; and it would appear from allusions they contain that those from the lady to whom they were addressed were still worse. The author of The Romance gives the following account of them:
"When the husband's counsel handed up the letters with the sworn . notary's translation he remarked that he thought they were too horribly scandalous to be read in Court. The judge scanned a few of them, and addressing the Count, (sic) said, "I am perfectly of your opinion, my learned brother, I shall take them home and make a point of them in my address to the Jury."
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"Some of the letters are a string of imaginary events as to how far they could carry their imaginations. The Count constantly alludes to the inferiority of his descriptions to those given in her replies. Alas! as he possesses those exciting replies of the lady they cannot be got at, but from his descriptions and the remarks on certain gross familiarities, it is evident she was gifted with as lascivious and lustful a temperament as either my aunt or the divine Frankland (two characters in The Romance of Lust.)
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Surely fact is stranger than fiction! But let us return to the novel the title of which heads my notice. The Romance of Lust is not the product of a single pen, but consists of several tales, "orient pearls at random strung," woven into a connected narrative by a gentleman, perfectly well known to the present generation of literary eccentrics and collectors, as having amassed one of the most remarkable collections of erotic pictures and bric-a-brac ever brought together. He was also an ardent traveller, and The Romance of Lust was composed during a voyage he made to Japan.
Questions of authorship exist for this novel, and there are two likely candidates, William Simpson Potter, and Edward Sellon. Sellon is the author of other erotic novels and a book on snake worship, whereas Potter wrote and had privately printed two books of letters on the Prince of Wales' visit to India in 1875–1876. From examining the text in Letters from India during H. R. H. the Prince of Wales visit in 1875–6, from William S. Potter to his sister, one could make a stronger case for Potter, as there are similarities in writing style between the book of letters and The Romance of Lust. Ashbee asserts that Potter acted as editor to contributions by a number of aficionados.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :
When her ablutions were completed, she sat down and drew off her stockings, displaying her beautiful white calves and charming little feet. I believe it was this first admiration of the really exquisitely formed legs, ankles and feet, which were extraordinarily perfect in make, that first awakened my passion for those objects, which have since always exercised a peculiar charm over me. She was also so particularly neat in her shoes--little dark ones--that were bijoux to look at, I often took them up and kissed them, when left in the room. Then her silk stockings, always drawn up tight and fitting like a glove, set off to the greatest advantage the remarkable fine shape of her legs.