A rare “sex manual” from 1720 revealing the most bizarre beliefs of Georgian England has been unearthed and could fetch hundreds of pounds at auction.
The 300-year-old book offers a fascinating insight into attitudes towards sex at a time in Britain when witches were still burnt at the stake.
They include weird tips to help women avoid giving birth to children “with a hairy lip, wry mouth or great blubber-lips”.
It also advises men to eat meat, blackbirds and sparrows to “make the seed abound” before engaging in “conjugal embraces to invigorate mutual desires”.
Meanwhile, women – who are portrayed as being prone to sexual indulgence – wanting a boy should lie on their right hand side after sex, or on their left for a girl.
It also talks of man being “the wonder of the world, to whom all things are subordinate” and his seed should be seen as a “divine gift abundantly endued with vital spirit”.
The “secrets of sex manual”, which was banned until the 1960s due to its shocking content, was discovered recently after being handed in to an auction house.
The book – Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed In Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation – will go under the hammer next month in Etwall, Derbyshire.
Jim Spencer, books and manuscripts valuer at Hanson’s Auctioneers, said:
The first edition of this book was published in 1684 and it was as good as banned until the 1960s.
There were several reasons for that.
For example, it includes woodcut illustrations of ‘monsters’ that ‘are begot by Women’s unnatural lying with Beasts’ – an example being a woman ‘generating with a dog’.
There are several illustrations of beast-like creatures including a man sporting a bushy dog’s tail and a monster being born in Ravenna, Italy, in 1512.
This is blamed on ‘filthy and corrupt affection’. But you have to bear in mind that this book was written when people were still being burnt for witchcraft in Georgian England.
The book even claims parents’ imaginations produce a child’s features, and includes an illustration of a ‘maid all hairy and an infant that was born black by the imagination of the parents’.
In fact, if women cast their eyes on ill-shaped bodies, ‘the force of imagination’ could produce a child with ‘a hairy lip, wry mouth or great blubber-lips’.
Instead, during sex woman were urged to ‘earnestly look upon the man and fix her mind upon him.’ Then ‘the child will resemble its father’.
A century after women first won the right to vote in the UK, this book takes us back to very different times.
It talks of man being ‘the wonder of the world, to whom all things are subordinate’.
Meanwhile women are painted as being prone to sexual indulgence.
The archaic manual, which is laced with elements of religion, witchcraft, old wives’ tales and astrology, does also include traces of romance in time for Valentine’s Day.
Without doubt, the uniting of hearts in holy wedlock is of all conditions the happiest, for then a man has a second self to whom he can unravel his thoughts as well as a sweet companion in his labour.
It also offers “A Word of Advice to both Sexes in the Act of Copulation”.
The book reads:
I do advise, before they begin their conjugal embraces to invigorate their mutual desires and make their flames burn with a fiercer ardour by those endearing ways that love can better teach than I can write.
And when they have done what nature can require, a man must have a care he does not part too soon from the embraces of his wife.
The inclinations of maids in marriage is to be known by many symptoms for when they arrive to puberty (which is about the 14th or 15th year of their age) then their natural purgations begin to flow, and the blood which is no longer taken to augment their bodies abounding, fires up their minds to venery (sexual indulgence).
External causes may also incite ’em to it; for the spirits being brisk and inflamed when they arrive at this age, if they eat hard, fat things and spices, the body becomes more and more heated; whereby the desire to veneral embraces is very great.
It even touches on pregnant women’s ‘greedy longings for things that are contrary to nutriments’ such as “coals, rubbish, chalk, hob-nails, leather, man’s flesh and horse flesh”.
The book, which has an estimate of between £80 and £120, will be sold on 27 March.