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

Readers, I have found a veritable treasure trove of old advice books! Husband-to-be has university borrowing privileges and I had the opportunity to go prowl around the library and take out some real gems that shall be featured on here soon.

The first of these lovelies is Beckard’s Physiology; rather, the full title is The Physiologist; or Sexual Physiology Revealed, being Mysteries and Revelations in Matters of great Importance to the Married and Unmarried of both Sexes; – and Useful Hints to Lovers, Husbands, and Wives. A complete Guide to Health, Happiness, and Personal Beauty. – Containing such Information as can be had by those only who have the advantage of a Medical Education.

With Practical Remarks on Manhood, with the causes of its premature decline, and modes of perfect restoration.

Economy and Abuse of the Generative Organs. Effects of excessive Indulgences. Love, Courtship, and Marriage. Its proper Season. Directions for choosing a Partner. Mysteries of Generation. Causes and Cure of Barrenness. Prevention of Offspring. Solitary Practices, with their best mode of Treatment, &c. &c.

Gotta love those long, ridiculous titles. The original publication date appears to be 1844, at least in the United States, with a reprint edition by Bela Marsh in 1859. The edition I hold in my hands is a facsimile edition of this work, as well as another entitled Marriage Physiologically Discussed, by Jean DuBois, under the heading Sex for the Common Man, which was part of a series of nineteenth-century marriage manuals published by Arno Press in 1974.

Eugene Becklard is a mystery in himself. Not much appears to be known about him, except what he says about himself in the text. The translator of his work, one M. Sherman Wharton, is also a cipher. In his “Translator’s Note,” Dr. Wharton tells us that Dr. Becklard is “one of the most distinguished physicians in France.” Okay, well, great. So, how come he has been lost to history? This writer wonders if, perhaps, “Becklard” and “Wharton” are, in fact, the same person, and that whoever this man was, it was an attempt to lend credence to his work. Which was successful, I suppose, as this book went into several editions!

In the Preface, Dr. Becklard tells his readers that he has over thirty years of experience in the medical field, and has worked in the maternity hospital, as well, which gives him a superior kind of knowledge over others who have not. Unlike Dr. Dewees’ book, which I have yet to finish, this book was written for the layperson, and Dr. Becklard encourages all adults to read it, as well as children at least ten years of age, because keeping our children ignorant just leads to more problems.


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Filed under medical books, sex ed books, sex education

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