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

Chapter 15. More tips and tricks and “true facts.” Some women have a double uterus, and therefore, can have two different fetuses born months apart.

The dominant party at the time of intercourse determines the sex of the child.

People should go around naked; it would be a help in morals, because then, people would be used to seeing other people’s bits and bobs (and be so disturbed they’d never want to have sex EVER AGAIN).

Older parents end up with delicate, ill-formed children.

Being chaste now ensures virility later.

Man makes his own misery.
Chapter 16. Final words. Keep clean. Don’t overindulge (in food, drink, OR sex). Be early to bed and early to rise. Keep the body open. Get regular exercise, and always pay attention.

But not too much to yourself, as then you’ll have to masturbate, and THEN where will you be??

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

Chapter 14. Let’s discuss beauty! Yes, it IS in the eye of the beholder, but, for grins, Becklard has a whole checklist of characteristics, from the general, like height (approximately 5 feet 10 inches), to the shape of the nose, and even the type of instep! Also, obvious Adam’s apples are a no-no, and there should be approximately eight inches between the tips of the middle fingers and the knees. This whole thing is way too specific, and frankly, creepy. It puts me in mind of that guy who built a website years ago, looking for his perfect woman, with his sketch of what she should look like.

But it is not enough to have the body. Clothes make the man, you know! All black suit, white cravat, diamond pin, and no ruffles, please! Too many metal buttons are objectionable. Blue is alright, but must be used sparingly.

For women, height doesn’t matter, and complexion is a matter of personal taste. He then gives a highly specific example of perfect woman – five foot five inches, wrinkle free, of low forehead, with long eyelashes; aquiline nose; a mouth that is somehow short, small, full, and pouting, at the same time; small chin and ears; a delicate blusher; a sweet smiler; has a flexible neck (O RLY? for what?); a gently swelling bosom; full hips and buttocks (so she’s a good birther, don’tcha know?); small waist and hands; plump thighs and calves; and a high instep with small feet and knees. This would be a disproportionate woman. I will call her 19th Century Barbie.

He reiterates that this is merely HIS own example, and tastes vary widely. And, above all, character is the most important attribute. He gives three other ridiculous examples, much like the one described above.

Becklard next attempts to advise ladies on how to dress. Color should be uniform, simple jewelry, feathers on one side only. No short waists for drooping-shouldered women. And so on, with hints to correct flat chests and butts. He advises washing in cold water only, and drying with soft towels. Goat milk is good for the skin, as is a rich diet. Lacing is very bad for the body. But we knew that.

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

Chapter 13. Having no knowledge of genetics, Becklard describes how various men of science and medicine believe the resemblance of children to their parents occurs. His notion is that the divide is fifty-fifty, physically. As for their “mental organs,” he was under the impression that this was influenced by the state of mind at the time of intercourse. Like begets like, except genius, as those great men allow their minds to wander, even during coitus; this is why most of their children are idiots, or otherwise deficient.

He believed that a black parent with a white one always produced a blended-colored child. Becklard advises that this chapter is very important, and will probably produce some trouble – ya think? I’m sure many more women were accused of infidelity than should have been.

In sum, keep your eye on the prize, for the sake of the child, and take a good look once they’re born to be sure that they’re yours!

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

Chapter 12. Be yourself when courting, lest you deceive and marry someone not suited to you at all. Be determined, and fight for the woman if you must; however, make sure she actually cares about you in kind, so that your actions may not be in vain. Do not be cavalier, unless the woman in question is an incorrigible flirt.

Bashfulness is also a detriment to courting. It, many times, may be mistaken for cowardice, and in old bachelors of middle age, it’s nearly curmudgeonly.

No man should stop himself from making love to any woman, even though he is not good-looking and she is. Women (the ones that count, anyway) are not that shallow.

As for proposing, be neither too hasty nor too lingering; three months’ courtship is an adequate enough time to become acquainted. Don’t even rehearse, as you will forget everything in the moment. Trust to nature, and you will be just fine.

Stringing a woman along? You should be ashamed of yourself, especially for wasting her time. She has every right to call you out.

No one is ever happy single. There is only one excuse for not getting married, and that is having some hereditary condition.

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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 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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