In A Human Moment

Miscellany from the 19th century

The Sex Institute on Euston Road

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

Rebecca Saunders

At the Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition ‘The Institute of Sexology’, visitors must surreptitiously part a curtain to peer at a rosy clay vagina set inside a bifurcated case. Made in the early twentieth century as a teaching aid for health professionals, the Gynaeplaque sits behind a glass pane covered in fingerprints where people have erroneously reached out to put their hands inside. The abiding fascination with laying one’s hands on the hidden ‘truths’ of the sexual body, of rendering sexuality and its psychological corollaries tangible and knowable, forms the drive of the discipline of sexology. This scientific study of human sexual behaviour grew distinct with the work of the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the late nineteenth century, whose seminal work Psychopathia Sexualis explored the ‘perversions’ of non-procreational sex.

Gynaeplaque model, black leather carry case with sponge model that opens to show a section through the vagina of female internal organs, used to help teach medical professionals how to insert a cervical cap, U.S., c.1930s. Gynaeplaque model, black leather carry case with sponge model that opens to show a section through the vagina of…

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Bringing a Murderer to Life

Originally posted on Criminal Historian:

Broadside of Robert Blakesley's execution, 1841 Broadside of Robert Blakesley’s execution, 1841

Look at a criminal broadside from the 19th century. There are the drawings – generic depictions of people hanging, of gaols, of crowds, together with more personalised portraits of the murderer, or the victim.

There is the text – the melodramatic, overly detailed, story of the crime, the penitence of the murderer before he or she is dropped into oblivion.

These are the forerunner of the tabloid newspaper; designed to be bought, read, thrown away.

But now they are in museums, sold in auctions, a historical artefact. The individuals that are written about in these broadsides are somehow lost to us in the present. They are abstract, viewed from a historical distance, fictionalised by their broadside-producing contemporaries.

I own a broadside – and admit to being fascinated by the stories they tell and how they tell them. But can I build a picture of real…

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Productive Procrastination: On Reading Gail Carriger’s Neo-Victorian Fantasies

Originally posted on The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates:

Daný van Dam is a second-year PhD student at Cardiff University. For her PhD, Daný  researches representations of racial and sexual stereotyping in neo-Victorian fiction. Secretly, she also remains interested in science fiction and fantasy novels that play with norms of gender and sexuality. More on her work can be found on her academia page (https://cardiff.academia.edu/DanyvanDam).

With the increasing critical attention garnered by contemporary rewritings of the Victorian period and its fiction (what has become known as ‘neo-Victorianism’), the connected subgenre of steampunk has also made its way onto the critical agenda. In steampunk novels, science fiction meets Victorian industrialism to create a kind of retrofuturistic narrative where all kinds of Victorian machinery come in high-powered steam versions. Think, for example, of high-speed zeppelins or steam-powered computer systems that rival today’s world wide web. Although steampunk is certainly worth the attention it gets, it does tend to overshadow…

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Carl Gustav Jung and the Clairvoyant, Mrs. Fäßler

Originally posted on Forbidden Histories:

The investigation of ‘occult’ phenomena associated with spiritualism and mesmerism occupied the minds of psychologists much more than this has been reflected in standard histories of modern psychology. From Gustav Theodor Fechner and William James to Théodore Flournoy and Hans Eysenck, many prominent psychologists were not only interested in the psychodynamics of altered states of consciousness (such as hypnotism and mediumistic trance), but also in the reality of supposedly transcendental capacities of the mind, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis.

Jung's M.D. thesis Jung’s M.D. thesis

Carl Gustav Jung’s occupation with the occult is of course well known. In fact, Jung’s M.D. thesis, On the Psychology and Pathology of so-called Occult Phenomena, is a study along the lines of the work of Frederic Myers and Théodore Flournoy, though it is purely concerned with psychodynamic rather than parapsychological aspects of mediumship. Jung never published any systematic studies to scientifically evaluate the occurrence of…

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Heart of darkness: from the time-honoured barbarity of the Tudors in Ireland to Islamic State

Originally posted on Mathew Lyons:

The leader of a small military force – perhaps 500 strong – is determined to subdue a province, and to do so quickly. Terror is his explicit policy. Every inroad he makes into enemy territory is followed by indiscriminate slaughter and destruction. Every man, woman and child is killed. Houses, churches, crops – everything is burned and despoiled.

Each night, the heads of all those who have been killed are lain in a path to the commander’s tent so “the people . . . see the heads of their dead fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolk and friends, lie on the ground before their faces, as they come to speak with the colonel”.

If this sounds like the barbarity that Isis has made commonplace in the news in the last couple of years, think again. It is not Isis. It is the English in Ireland in 1569 and the leader in question…

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The case that revolved around the age of a goat

Originally posted on Criminal Historian:

120px-Goat_PortraitIn 1839, a rather ludicrous case was heard at the Drumcondra Petty Sessions in Dublin regarding a goat stolen from a former policeman – where the case hinged on the age of the said animal.

The former policeman, Samuel Stephens, who was now working as a labourer, accused Conliffe Mill proprietor Mr Dollard of having a goat that Stephens swore had been stolen from him some three years earlier.

Magistrate Captain Cottingham noted that the case had been held over from a previous day in order for someone to be called to prove the age of the goat.

Stephens stated that his goat was around seven years old, whereas Dollard argued that HIS goat was only four.

In evidence, Stephens told the magistrate that in mid 1836, three goats had been stolen from him, and that he had received information that they had been stolen by a man and woman…

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Seduction in Stevenage: sex, marriage and keeping it in the family

Originally posted on Criminal Historian:

Székely_Woman_StretchingWilliam Swaine was a Hertfordshire farmer, who had grown accustomed to the help of his young niece around his Stevenage farm.

She had been living with his family since she was two and a half, and he looked on her as his own child. This young girl, Matilda Winters, spent her days looking after the farmhouse whilst her uncle farmed.

Living down the road was the Brown family. Young master Brown lived with his parents, and they all got on well with Farmer Swaine.

The farmer noticed that Brown got on particularly well with Matilda, but thought nothing of it; he supposed “that a man at his time of life was not likely to take advantage of the confidence that was placed in him.”

Unfortunately for William Swaine, his faith was misplaced. Matilda was a good looking girl, who looked younger than her age. Although Brown had known her since…

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Uncovering Cleveland Street: Sexuality, Surveillance and late-Victorian Scandal

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

By Katie Hindmarch-Watson

In the summer of 1889 a 15-year-old London telegraph boy named Charles Swinscow had a monumental encounter with his inspector. Charles had eighteen shillings in his pockets, more than twice his weekly salary. Postal Constable Luke Hanks, after discovering this suspicious amount, extracted a statement from Charles that would eventually lead to three different trials, the imprisonment of four men (two for gross indecency, one for libel, and one for obstruction of justice), the lifelong exile of a noted aristocrat, and an international manhunt for a pimp. Charles, a messenger who delivered telegrams between departments at London’s Central Telegraph Office, St Martins Le Grand, had revealed the existence of a house of assignation at 19 Cleveland Street in Fitzrovia, which offered, among other services, sexual encounters between elite men and telegraph boys.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 5.21.01 PM “The West End Scandals, some Further Sketches,” Illustrated Police News, 4 December 1889.

The subsequent…

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Labiology, or Reading Character by the Lips: 1894

Originally posted on Mrs Daffodil Digresses:

studying lips

LANGUAGE OF THE LIPS

They Tell a Story of the Character of Their Owner

Lips That are Loving; Lips That are Selfish; Lips That Promise Happiness; and Lips That Revel in Mischief.

Mr. Bachelor, when you and the dearest girl in the world stood under the ensnaring dimness of the front hallway and indulged in frequent mellifluous osculatory movements annually made permissible by the tender white berries, did you once think that those two smiling, ruby lips might reveal to you in an unspoken language the story of the ingrained affections or peculiar idiosyncrasies of your most devoted inamorata—did you?

To be sure, there is something new under the sun. And the beneficent fates revealed to me the clew of a neoteric, most interesting science, certain to find favor within the sacred precincts of uppertendom.

Strolling down State Street yesterday afternoon, says the Chicago Times man, I overheard a pretty…

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“It is ME”

An amusing story is told of George III, which shows his kindly disposition under a strange circumstance. He was calling one day on an old lady, to whom he and the queen were much attached and whom they had persuaded to take up her abode in their own royal caste of Windsor. The king knocked at Mrs Delany’s door and waited for an answer. The answer came: –

“Who is there?” said a voice from within.

“It is me,” replied the king.

“Then Me may stay where he is,” returned the voice.

Again the king knocked and again the voice said, “who is it?”

“It is me,” was once more the royal reply.

And once again the voice answered, “Me is impertinent and may go about his business.”

But the knocking went on and by-and-by up jumped the questioner, a merry young lady of seventeen, the niece of Mrs Delany. Imagine her horror at seeing the king! She had thought him far away at Kew, where the royal family were staying.

All she could gasp out was, “What shall I say?”

“Nothing at all,” said the kind monarch. “You were very right to be cautious whom you admitted.”

H.A.F

Mary_Delany_(née_Granville)_by_John_Opie    Mrs Delany

 

Chatterbox (London, England), Saturday, November 12, 1881; pg. 407; Issue 51.
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