Beckard’s Physiology, or the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Nine

Chapter 11. More tips and tricks. Labor pains are easier in those women who continue to live with their husbands during their confinement. Wait, so there was an option back then? Lucky women!!

Infants who aren’t laughing or smiling by their second month are probably sick.

“Green sickness,” as denoted by the pallor of the skin, is usually caused by menstrual complaints, but mainly is due to the inability to obtain the object of one’s desires. Unsparing use of a bidet, low diet, and, of course, marriage, are the cures.

More suggestions for impotency – ginseng, blistering the skin, flagellating the loins with nettles (OUCH), and electricity. However, Dr. Becklard still says Lucina Cordial beats them all.

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Becklard’s Physiology, or the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Eight

Chapter 9. Once again, masturbation is bad. It will make you sick and insane. Help the children by talking to them about it, and giving them this book. Indulge in a little blood-letting and cold baths. Avoid down beds, hot clothing, and exciting fiction. We’ll revisit this again later, I’m sure.

Chapter 10. Women differ from men, not just in the sexual organs, but in everything. According to “science,” women do not possess as much intellect, but understand things more quickly than men. They also have more sensibility, but do not “receive such lasting impressions.” Which means, what, exactly? Memory?

Much assistance is generally not necessary during delivery, but if matters become complicated, one should not trust to the midwife, as she has not studied anatomy, and this could be fatal. Better to enlist an experienced accoucher instead, one perhaps from a poor district, as he will have plenty of experience in deliveries. Because poor people breed like rabbits, you understand.

At this time period, doctors and science still differed on whether the female contributed anything during reproduction. Becklard believed that both men and women contributed on equal portion, and that the child resulting from this union would most resemble the parent who was more “vigorous” at the time of conception.

The belief was that the semen entered the uterus through suction, which makes me think of a vaginal straw, or something. He repeats his assertion, once again (this makes three) about women being unable to conceive from a rape.

Twins were only possible in women less intellectual, with strong erotic drive. I suppose that’s the only way double suction could occur! Some medical men were positing that there must be more than one ovum to account for twins, but Becklard finds this to be untrue.

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Becklard’s Physiology, or, the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Seven

Chapter 8. What is the proper age for marriage? Becklard believes between 25 and 30 for men, and 19 to 25 for women. Any younger age is not yet suited for intercourse. In addition, men who marry too young become bald, myopic, and flabby, and women lose the bloom of youth very quickly. And both lose their mental acuity.

Rich people can marry earlier, because they have access to better food, and wines and other stimulants accelerate puberty. Sorry, poors, you have to wait! Also, nymphos, women who suffer from “uterine epilepsy,” or virgin convulsions should be married quickly, for that is the only sure cure.

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Becklard’s Physiology; or, the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Six

Chapter 7. So, how best to choose a partner? One should choose one’s exact opposite, in temperament as well as body type. There are exceptions, of course. The opposites must complement each other, or the relationship is sure to fail. Thus, a man who is warm-hearted should avoid a cold woman, and such like. Nature helps us in this, as we look for qualities in others that we don’t have in ourselves. There is someone for everyone, he says. Which is why no one ever dies alone, right?

Becklard advises against marriage between blood relations, as it weakens the offspring. Just look at the royal families.

People with low foreheads should not marry the like, lest their children be idiots. Women should be three inches shorter than their man. Marry women with wide hips and bigger asses, as they will bear good children. He goes into extreme detail about neck lengths, and chests, and waists. Women are best if they are moderately plump, but not too much, because then they could be barren.

Blue-eyed people should marry black-eyed people, to avoid blind children. This is especially important for those suffering from consumption, as the blue-eyed are the ones that survive. However, consumptives should not marry at all if the disease is hereditary.

In short, Becklard believes that “crossing the breed” is the best way to ensure a happy married life.

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Becklard’s Physiology; or, the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Five

Chapter 6. Dr. Becklard believes that many men and women get married who are quite unsuited to one another, which leads to a lot of shame, heartache, and divorce. (Some things never change, eh?) He discusses hand-fasting, the Scottish ceremony of living together on a trial basis before taking the true legal plunge (which in certain circles is thought of as a myth; see this link). He very nearly agrees with this idea, as “any marriage is better than none.” That’s a bit contradictory, isn’t it?

He does not believe in polygamy, however, for he feels it would only engender jealousy, and what woman in a civilized nation is going to share her bed with another woman?

Marriage is best for all, as eventually, if you remain single, you will either wank to death or go insane. Even if you don’t subscribe to solitary vice, the voluptuous images shall come to haunt you.

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Becklard’s Physiology; or the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Four

Chapter Five, which I like to call “Hints and Tips and ‘True Facts.’”

Long courtships are almost as bad as hasty marriages.

The healthiest children are born in February through May.

Twins can have different fathers. If one birth precedes another by a month or so, you can be sure that there was an adulterous union involved.

Blondes make the most affectionate wives.

If you’re a writer, and especially a poet, don’t get married, as man cannot serve the muses and his wife together.

A lack of a hymen does not necessarily mean a woman is not a virgin, as it could have been lost due to illness. However, this is rare, and if the maiden’s blood doesn’t stain those sheets the first night of consummation, she better have a damned good explanation!

A sure cure for consumption is marriage, but this is mainly for females. For males, it tends to hasten their deaths.

Hermaphrodites are not real.

Black people have an inky fluid like carbon under their skin, and that is why they are dark.

A woman’s eyes give away the fact that this is “in the family way” before her body does. To hide this, snuff can be taken, which stops the eyes from looking glassy.

Celibacy does not make you smarter. You’re better off giving in to your desires, in moderation, of course.

If you want children, move to a colder climate. The amorous embrace seems to be even more effective there.

Ladies, if your menses are giving you trouble, you’ve more than likely been jilted. Fall in love with another and that’s sure to cure your problem. Failing that, take a dip in the sea and some syrup of ipecac.

Races where puberty comes earliest tend to be the least intellectual, and closest to animals.

Porter, mixed with milk, is great for babies. [I kind of want to make this into a T-shirt now.]

Even though woman is the “passive agent” in procreation, she is supposed to be able to enjoy it more, but this is never been proven.

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Becklard’s Physiology; or, the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Three

Chapter Four. Everyone should have children, but even this doctor recognizes the fact that sometimes, the time is not ripe for children – due to economy, or injury or disease, and so on. He knows that some will take umbrage with his tips to prevent pregnancy, but he avers that it is better to teach prevention than wind up with cases of infanticide.

Here are some ways to prevent pregnancy, as thought of in the nineteenth century:

- brisk exercise, such as horseback riding

- bathing in salt water after intercourse

- use of a sponge (which is once again on the market)

- an “oiled-silk covering,” presumably an early version of a condom

- eating spicy food

- warm water douches

- seeds of the Chaste Tree (which was thought to inhibit libido)

- a “supine” vagina, as without contractions, there can be no pregnancy. Women can’t become pregnant from rape, sayeth Becklard.

    “Thus, unless the female vagina [as opposed to the male vagina?] is in a busy, active state, there is but little apprehension of offspring. Let me add, that this supineness, even in the most healthy females, is a sure attendant of disgust or abhorrence; therefore, I have no faith in the stories of women, who are said to have borne children as the consequence of rape or violation. Indeed, the thing is impossible unless the parties are agreed, for the muscular effort, to the action of which the uterus responds, is voluntary on the part of the female, and is only called in play in moments of enjoyment.”

    A few sentences prior to this, however, he admits that the process of impregnation is “still a mystery.” Now we know where the “body has a way of shutting that thing down” bullshit has its origins. Sigh.

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