No person or persons whatsoever, shall at any time print or cause to be imprinted, any book or pamphlet whatsoever [without prior certification by a government censor] that there is nothing in that book or books contained, that is contrary to Christian faith. . . to good life, or good manners.

A Decree of Starre-Chamber, Concerning Printing (1637)

She has been abused in public papers, exposed in print-shops, and to wind up the whole, some wretches, mean, ignorant and venal, would impose upon the public, by daring to pretend to publish her Memoirs. She hopes to prevent the success of their endeavours, by thus publicly declaring that nothing of that sort has the slightest foundation in truth. C. Fisher Advertisement by a courtesan in The Public Advertiser,

24 March 1759

The periodical press of Great Britain. . . is the most powerful
moral machine in the world, and exercises a greater influence
over the manners and opinions of civilized society than the
united eloquence of the bar, the senate and the pulpit.

The Periodical Press of Great Britain (1824), 1

The origins of our modern attitudes to sex lie in the great changes that
swept through western society in the later seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries – the breakdown of religious authority, the dawn of the Enlightenment, the large-scale emergence of female voices into public life. The final major cause was the transformation of the universe of communication. From the later seventeenth century onwards there developed new attitudes towards privacy and publicity, new ways of shaping public opinion, and a new openness about sexual affairs.

Some of these developments have already been alluded to in previ­ous chapters, for they were intimately intertwined with the growing complexity of urban life, the advance of new ways of thinking, and the breakdown of sexual policing. But the media revolution of the Enlightenment was so central to changing ways of living and thinking that we need now to pay it proper attention.1 Without it, there would have been no sexual revolution.