Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Graham, James (1745-1794), quack"

At the Telegraph, Vic Gatrell on a new biography of the eighteenth-century sex therapist:
Installing [in his Temple of Health] a 'magnetic throne', Graham energetically advertised his discoveries (a pioneer in advertising guff, indeed, in an era of expanding consumption) and pulled in well-heeled audiences to hear his lecture 'On the Generation Increase and Improvement of the Human Species'.

His recommendations were filtered through metaphors and grandiloquent rhetoric.

The daily cold washing of the genitals, for example, would not only 'lock the cock and secure all for the next rencontre', but also much improve the testicular condition: 'certain parts which next morning after a laborious night would be relaxed, lank, and pendulous, like the two eyes of a dead sheep dangling in a wet empty calf's bladder, by the frequent and judicious use of the icy cold water, would be[come] like a couple of steel balls, of a pound apiece, inclosed in a firm purse of uncut Manchester velvet!'

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