It is a mistake, also, as I have before remarked, to assume that all attachments between women have a lesbian, or even sexual, basis. There is a vein of platonism, or highly etherealized romance in many women; and I have known cases where the highest pleasure was mutually derived from such an association of two girls, without the remotest suspicion of sexuality entering into it. In this assertion I am glad to be in agreement with the views of so renowned an investigator as Mr. H. Ellis, whose Case XLII fully bears out the opinion.
At the age of four this girl used to enjoy seeing the buttocks of a little girl who lived near. When she was six, the nurse-maid, sitting in the fields, used to play with her own privates, telling the child to do likewise, and saying it would make "a baby come." The latter touched herself in consequence, but without producing any sensation.
When about eight, she used to see various nurse-girls uncover their children's genitals, and play with them, and used to think about it when alone. Her first rudimentary sex-feeling developed at the age of eight or nine, being most vivid at about fourteen, and died away on the first appearance of her affection for girls. The earliest of these attachments was for a schoolfellow, a graceful, coquettish girl, with blonde hair and blue eyes, for whom her affection manifested itself in doing various small favors.
At the age of fourteen she had a similar passion for a cousin, and used to look forward with the keenest pleasure to her visits, especially the rare occasions when the cousin slept with her. Her excitement was then so great that she could not sleep; but with it all there was no sexual feeling. At sixteen she fell in love with another cousin, with whom her experiences were full of delicious sensations, Bhe thrilling if that cousin only touched her neck, with an excitement which unquestionably reached the borderland of sexuality, but with no distinctively sexual purpose or result.
On leaving school, at the age of nineteen, she met a girl of about the same age who became very much attached to her, and sought to gain her love. She was attracted to this love, and an intimacy grew up which finally resulted in contact, but of a vague character and vmthout sexual pleasure.
They used to touch, and kiss each other tenderly, especially on the privates, experiencing strong pleasurable feeling in the act, with sexual erethism, but with no orgasm; which latter, indeed, appears to have only very rarely and at a later period occurred. There was neither masturbation, use of the tongue, pressing of the organs together, nor any other of the methods commonly used in sapphism; and the attachment seemed to be one of feminine tenderness rather than sexual passion.
In lesbian love the relation is anthropologically and clinically sirnilar to the corresponding relation between men; and while the sapphist rarely acta from innate impulse, being, like the male invert, most commonly a creature of cultivation, it still cannot be denied that instances occur where the congenital impulse can be very clearly traced, both in its history and manifestation.