The randy Victorians; Banned book lifts lid on depravity.
VICTORIAN ladies were thought to swoon at the merest glimpse of an illustration from it and its contents were thought so immoral the book was often kept under lock and key.
But the 19th-century manual, Curious Pleasures: A Gentleman's Collection Of Beastliness by the Reverend Dr Eramus St Jude, was also supposedly considered an essential reference book by doctors and professors attempting to understand the depravities of man.
Although anyone reading the A-Z description of every type of perversion, degradation and sinfulness known to man could now be forgiven for thinking that the book was never intended for scientific purposes, such is the relish with which the reverend seems to embrace his topic.
And the illustrations are more end-of-the-pier than serious scientific diagrams. The once forbidden work is now back in print, with 50 original illustrations.
So, to whet your appetite for the Victorian view on the depravities of man and woman, here a few of the tamer entries.
Aregrettably common form of beastliness in which a man, or woman, instead of being content with the Lord's creation, chooses to adopt characteristics more typically associated with the opposite gender. The male androgyne may be identified by a smooth face, unusually long hair, effete mannerisms, unnatural delicacy, strong scent or even cosmetics and the absence of that robust vigour so characteristic of the Englishman.
Known to the vulgar as "mudlarking". This is a corruption of that manly outdoor joy known to every schoolboy, whereby playful combat conducted in mud is carried out not to build the character and aid in physical development but for purposes of carnal indulgence.
I regret to say, that those who were supreme sportsmen in their schooldays are all too often the very same ones who carry the depraved form of this practice into adult life.
The carnal enjoyment of being trodden on or trampled which is incomprehensible to the normal mind. A male colcolagniac will typically select a partner of slender or even elfin proportions, whom he will invite to walk on his prostrate form. Most often the lady is required to be barefoot, or in stockinged feet.
It may seem strange to find a virtue among the vices but even chastity can be corrupted.
Indeed, I am grieved to report that those devices manufactured for the enforcement of chastity, for men and women alike, enjoy far healthier sales among the depraved than they do among the virtuous.
The association of carnal desire with close-fitting leg wear and, in particular, sheer silk stocking as worn by women of at least moderate wealth or social rank.
So far as I have been able to determine, it is an exclusive male form of depravity. I have identified three primary groups ... those who enjoy stockings on a lady, those who enjoy wearing stockings themselves and those who enjoy stockings as stockings.
The enjoyment of pictures or photographs of an erotic nature, an ancient vice made ever more popular by the corruption of inventions.
Commonly known as "naturism" or "nudism", this describes the desire to be naked and, usually, naked in company, a beastly practice despite claims to the contrary. This is rare in our own country but relatively common in Germany.
Physical combat as employed for erotic purposes, generally wrestling or occasionally boxing. Most often performed by women for the amusement of men and, all too frequently, in mud.
A most pernicious form of beastliness, used by the debased male in order to take advantage of the feminine susceptibility by tickling.
And by the debased female in order to find an excuse for the expression of hysterical inclination.
An obsessive worship of the belly, this is one of the minor body fetishes. It is found in both male and female and, while one might at least understand the appreciation of an elegant and gently swelling female belly, this peculiar paraphilia is almost invariably expressed as a desire for the object of worship to be as large as possible.
Curious Pleasures: A Collection Of Gentleman's Beastliness, by the Rev Dr Eramus St Jude, is available from Virgin Books from October 31 for pounds 12.99.