Byron’s adventures led me to Casanova. I came upon this illustration at the Library of Congress, which in turn led me to his memoirs, where you can read on to discover his alternative to condoms.
…as soon as the syndic came we set off to renew our voluptuous orgy. On the way he talked about modesty, and said,—
“That feeling which prevents our shewing those parts which we have been taught to cover from our childhood, may often proceed from virtue, but is weaker than the force of education, as it cannot resist an attack when the attacking party knows what he is about. I think the easiest way to vanquish modesty is to ignore its presence, to turn it into ridicule, to carry it by storm. Victory is certain. The hardihood of the assailer subdues the assailed, who usually only wishes to be conquered, and nearly always thanks you for your victory.
“Clement of Alexandria, a learned man and a philosopher, has remarked that the modesty which appears so deeply rooted in women’s hearts really goes no farther than the clothes they wear, and that when these are plucked off no trace of it remains.”
We found the three girls lightly clad and sitting on a large sopha, and we sat down opposite to them. Pleasant talk and a thousand amorous kisses occupied the half hour just before supper, and our combat did not begin till we had eaten a delicious repast, washed down with plenty of champagne.
We were sure of not being interrupted by the maid and we put ourselves at our ease, whilst our caresses became more lively and ardent. The syndic, like a careful man, drew a packet of fine French letters from his pocket, and delivered a long eulogium on this admirable preservative from an accident which might give rise to a terrible and fruitless repentance. The ladies knew them, and seemed to have no objection to the precaution; they laughed heartily to see the shape these articles took when they were blown out.
Top left illustration courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, CALL NUMBER: Illus. in D285.8.C3 1872 [Rare Book RR], Reproduction No. LC-USZ62-48784 (b&w film copy neg.)
Bottom right illustration: Portrait of Giacomo Casanova in Venice, 1750-1755 ca., painted by his brother Francesco Casanova (1727-1802 or 3), Gosundarstvennyj Istoreceskij Muzej, Moscow