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

Chapter One is a brief introduction, and one that we have heard before. Self-pollution is bad, mmkay? Lots of turrible things happen when you play with yourself. Hot flashes, acne, blindness . . . you know the drill. Let’s move on to new territory.

Chapter Two. Must Man be born of Woman? You’d be surprised! Becklard talks about some theories and ideas that others have had upon this. However, he concludes that man is always born of woman. Thanks for clearing that up, doc.

Chapter Three talks about barrenness. He waxes lyrical about the immortality of the soul. He feels that man’s soul must be immortal, or how else to explain man’s horrid goal of living and dying in a world that is, essentially, hostile to him? Anyway, Becklard is convinced that all normal men and women are capable of having children; the exceptions are deformity or injury to the generative parts.

So, why are there so many “unfruitful” marriages? The good doctor gives a few reasons: mutual coldness of the parties, mutual intensity of desire, physical unfitness of the parties for intercourse (anatomically, that is), disgust, shyness, et cetera. Also, and this is rare, but women who are lacking a vaginal canal, or ovaries. These women are monsters, and horrible liars if they know they are unable to have children and still get married. Ouch.

For an example of mutual intensity and coldness, one need only to look at Napoleon and Josephine, who did not have any children together, but once they separated, were able to have fruitful marriages with others. People who have really amorous sex will not have children, for they need to

Differences in anatomical structure should be prevented by foreknowledge prior to marriage. However, Becklard knows that people are too “delicate” to discuss such things, which he finds shameful, as we as a society seem to choose a horse more carefully than a marriage partner!

Sometimes, men become debilitated and need a stimulant, but beware of those that are not nourishing to the system. The good doctor recommends Lucina Cordial, which even HE is unable to tell the contents of, but has seen its effects in action. I am unable to really find anything on it myself, except the bottles look really cool and sell for quite a bit at auction. If Lucina Cordial is not available, Verrey’s Tincture will also serve. I suppose these items were so well known during the time period that the doctor felt it wasn’t necessary to explain. He relates a story of a barren couple who were finally able to conceive after several bottles of the cordial. I found an old advertisement for it in a vintage newspaper, and the stuff certainly wasn’t cheap – 3 dollars for a bottle, or four bottles for ten dollars. Now, the Inflation Calculator only goes back as far as 1913, but for argument’s sake, US $3 in 1913 would be US $70.59 in 2013. With a little imagination, one can see how desperate one would have to be for children to shell out 3 bucks for some nineteenth-century Viagra.

Some more tips from Dr. Becklard regarding “fecundation” – morning nookie is better. Women, if you have “low wombs” and are married to “very masculine” men, be sure that your husbands to not attempt to plant BEYOND the soil. It doesn’t go in your stomach!

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