English caricaturist James Gillray‘s famous cartoon ‘Fashionable Contrasts’
If you’re not following John Overholt on Twitter, I suggest you get on it. As a Curator of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts for Houghton Library at Harvard, he Tweets about some strange, beautiful and often hilarious texts. Take The Mysteries of Conjugal Love Revealed an 18th century sex manual written by a French doctor, then translated to (“done into”) English by “a gentleman” (is a gentleman supposed to call himself a gentleman? Sounds a little excessively boastful to me.) Though the language is prissy, and the “information” wildly inaccurate, it’s important to remember that England was in the midst of a sexual revolution at the time, and books like this one represented a major move in cultural liberalism (for the upper classes, at least).
Still, let’s laugh at some particularly absurd excerpts!
We call the principle part of the Man’s Privaties the Virile Member, which the Ancients ranked among the number of their Gods under the Name of Falscines, to teach us what Empire it has acquir’d in the World: For no Charms or Enlightenments can equal it. If perchance a Woman perceives it thro’ some slight unfolding of the Garments, her Heart is at the same Instant inflam’d with a Passion, that is with Difficulty assuaged.
I feel like you might be giving yourself a little too much credit here.
The Privy parts of a Woman, by some called Nature, because all Men owe their Origin to them, are the cause of most of our Sorrows, as well as our Pleasures; and I dare say, that all Disorders, that every happen’d in the World, or do happen in this our time, spring form the same source.
I feel like you might be giving us a little too much credit here.
There is a part above the [Nympha?], longer more or less than half a Finger, called by Anatomists Clitoris,which I may justly term the Fury and Rage of Love. There Nature has plac’d the fear of Pleasure and Lust, as it has, on the other hand, in the Glans of Man. There is has plac’d those excessive Ticklings, and there is Leachery and Lasciviousnes establish’d;
I stopped after “half a finger.”
But ‘tis certain that Women have Testicles, spermatick Vessels and Seed, because they sometimes pollute themselves; and their Testicles, which are hollow instead of being solid, as Men’s are, contain several small Cellules, wherein a Humor is kept, that spurts up in the Face of those that cut them.
I don’t know what you’re doing, or with whom, or why there is “cutting” involved, but this does not sound like conventional heterosexual sex to me.
As soon as the Fancy is touched, and the small Fibres of the Brain shaken by the Thoughts of Love, there is an internal Sweat in our Privy Parts, and the Spirits which rush thither with Precipitation, force out a limpid Liquor of the Prostate which prepares the Conduit for the Passage of the Seed. But when one is join’d amorously to a Woman, the 2 small Bladders, most ready for evacuation, empty
Okay. Gonna start calling it “The Fancy”!
Chapter 6: What Hour of the Day one ought to kiss one’s Wife.
Well… they’re still English.
Via John Overholt and Harvard Library