Word Wednesday.

Lurid / Roué



1a: causing horror or revulsion: gruesome; b: melodramatic, sensational, also: shocking.

2a: wan and ghastly pale in appearance. b: of any of several light or medium grayish colours ranging in hue from yellow to orange.

3: shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke or cloud.

-luridly, adverb.

-luridness, noun.

[Origin: Latin luridus pale yellow, sallow.]


Note: I have to say, this held surprises for me. I have never considered lurid to be light, let alone pale yellow! Lurid has always come across as very bold to me; daring and/or scandalous simply doesn’t scream pale or pastel to my mind. I never pictured it as a person being wan or ghastly pale, either. “His face was lurid.” Nope, that doesn’t sound right at all.

Are my expectations possibly getting a little lurid? she wondered. Not really. After all, there is someone out to get me.” – The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman.



A man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure: Rake.

[Origin: French, literally, broken on the wheel, from Medieval Latin rotare, from Latin, to rotate; from the feeling that such a person deserves this punishment.]


Note: I found the origin of this fascinating.

“Don’t be,” Vale said, his tone as caustic as he could make it. “I hardly enjoy the experience. Your are one of the most notorious roués in London.” – The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman.

The Healing Arts: New Discoveries in Pneumaticks!

By James Gillray. In this etching, he caricaturised a lecturer – most likely physician and chemist Thomas Garnett, as administering gas at London’s Royal Institution to a particularly long-winded member of parliament, Sir John Coxe Hippisley. Squeezing the bellows next to the pair is the grinning future Sir Humphry Davy. Just over a week after Hannah Humphrey published Gillray’s etching, Davy would replace Garnett as the Royal Institution’s Lecturer of Chemistry. Source.  Over to the left, toward the bottom, there appears to be an interracial couple with a child. Click for full size!

New Discoveries in Pneumaticks!: or an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air, James Gillray, Etching coloured, 1802. Subject: New Discoveries, Equipment, Supplies, Teaching.

New Discoveries in Pneumaticks!: or an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air, James Gillray, Etching coloured, 1802. Subject: New Discoveries, Equipment, Supplies, Teaching.

The Healing Arts: The Gin Shop.

George Cruikshank, click for full size.

The Gin Shop, George Cruikshank, Etching coloured, 1829. Subject: Alcohol, Gin, Drunkenness, Mother's Ruin, Children, Child Care.

The Gin Shop, George Cruikshank, Etching coloured, 1829. Subject: Alcohol, Gin, Drunkenness, Mother’s Ruin, Children, Child Care.

The GIN Shop –

—”Now oh dear, how shocking the thought is They makes the gin from aquafortis:

They do it on purpose folks lives to shorten And tickets it up at two-pence a quartern.”

New Ballad.

You can read more about the Gin Craze here.

The Healing Arts: A Man Mid-Wife.

An interesting piece, addressing what was a great controversy, with people hotly on one side or another, as male physicians encroached on the world of childbirth. Additional information and sources under the image. Click for full size.

A Man Mid-Wife, Isaac Cruikshank, Etching coloured, 1793. Subject: John Blunt (pseud. S.W. Fores), Midwives, Surgical Instruments, Forceps.

A Man Mid-Wife, Isaac Cruikshank, Etching coloured, 1793. Subject: John Blunt (pseud. S.W. Fores), Midwives, Surgical Instruments, Forceps.

The text reads:

“A Man-Mid-Wife, or a newly discover’d animal, not Known in Buffon’s time; for a more full description or this monster, see, an ingenious book, lately published, price 3/6 entitled Man-Midwifery dissected, containing a variety of well-authenticated cases elucidating this animals Propensities to cruelty & indecency sold by the publisher of this Print who has presented the author with the above [illustration] for the Frontispiece to his Book.”

From the same source:


This etching illustrated a book criticizing (male) physician birth attendants–“man midwives”–today’s obstetricians. The etching shows a figure that is male on one side, female on the other. The male half stands on a plain wood floor next to a large mortar and pestle, holding an instrument labeled a “lever” in his hand, which is pressed against his thigh. The background seems to be a shop, with shelves lined with vials, bottles, and frightening looking instruments labeled “forceps,” “boring scissors,” and “blunt book.”

In contrast, the female half of the figure stands in a homey room on a decoratively carpeted floor; in her outstretched hand she holds a small cup. Behind her, a fire burns in a grate.


This etching was made in 1793, at a time when middle-and upper-middle class English women were being attended by physicians rather than midwives at the births of their children. Midwives were left to attend the beds of birthing women too poor to afford the services of physicians.

At the time, however, criticism was leveled at physicians who chose to demean themselves by doing “women’s work,” with some suggestion that their only motivations must be prurient ones. (This latter accusation is hinted at by one of the bottles on the shelves of the man half of the man-midwife; it is labeled “love water.”).

Today, while few would accuse male ob-gyns of perversion (although male medical students who choose this specialty probably still raise eyebrows in some corners), questions about the proper place, methods, and attendants at childbirth still are debated. Only in the past three decades, for example, has the presence of fathers at childbirth been considered proper, and we still argue about home vs. hospital births, the use of midwives, training for midwives, and the place of technology and medication in normal births.

You can read a fair amount of what was written in the 18th century by people on both the pro- and anti- sides here.

Historian Ruby has an excellent rundown of the great controversy, where once again we encounter the scandal of Mary Toft in this excerpt:

Hugh Chamberlen, as well as being a physician, was also a speculative businessman, and when his proposed business dealings failed, his creditors forced him to flee abroad.  With his credibility damaged, he was lampooned in verse in 1699 in Hue and Cry After a Man-Midwife, Who has Lately Deliver’d the Land-Bank of their Money.  It was noted that ‘great belly’d ladies have mighty respect for’ the man-midwife, demonstrating that the fashion for men-midwives commenced in the seventeenth century and was not just an eighteenth century phenomenon.  The verse also alluded to the outrage that was displayed in some quarters by opponents of men-midwives, ‘Among his profession he’s fam’d as a topper, By some call’d a midwife, by others a groper,’ hinting at sexual improprieties that the man-midwife could commit once alone with vulnerable females.

Public suspicion of the medical profession ran deep in the eighteenth century, in part due to the non-secular society believing that decaying bodies tainted the men who practiced medicine, but also, medicine was considered the least prestigious of the professions and the physicians’ failure to cure illness and stave off death impacted the public’s perception of them.  The man-midwifery profession was further disparaged after several eminent London men-midwives supported Mary Tofts, who in the 1720s claimed to have given birth to a litter of rabbits.  The absurdity of their support of Tofts in her fraudulent claim led to professional ridicule.  Not only were the men of the medical profession considered asinine for agreeing with Tofts’ wild claims, there was a growing suspicion of the practitioner as a ‘corrupter of morals, a threat to female modesty and even as a libertine.’

Blunt’s book, Man-midwifery dissected ; or, the obstetric family-instructor : In fourteen letters, is available to read at the Internet Archive. You can also see the above image properly coloured as the frontispiece of the book.

May Is Mental Health Month: What To Read.

For a list of good reading having to do with mental and emotional health, head over to Rumpus. I’m not big on special days or months, they rarely penetrate most people’s skulls, but this is a timely reminder to be more mindful to others. In that vein, I’ll leave you with this video by The Amity Affliction. It’s harsh, but it’s a damn good reminder to make every effort not to be an oblivious ass. (Added the follow up song.)

The Amity Affliction -All Fucked Up.

The Amity Affliction – I Bring the Weather With Me. (Lyrics below the fold.)

[Read more…]

The Healing Arts: Mixing A Recipe for Corns.

There will be much of George Cruikshank, caricaturist and printmaker coming up, but I felt this one deserved to be on its own, given the sheer amount of very weird detail. There seems to be an implication of witchery and/or paganism here. Interestingly, this one was one of the ones designed by Frederick Marryat, a British naval officer, and author. It’s interesting to note that In 1839, Marryat also published his Diary in America, a travelogue that reflects his criticisms of American culture and society. The book and the author were both subject to acts of violence, including the burning of the book and of Marryat’s effigy in public. It can be read for free at the link provided; I note that the e-books are also available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

There’s an astonishing amount of detail here. Note the painting hanging on the wall – an assault in progress. That earns a WTF? Then the Goddess detail on the mantel, with the dogs. Peacock feathers on the mantel, too. They were associated with witches, particularly those with healing arts. Then there’s the cat and dog, and screaming parrot, with the mouse in between. And what appears to be a Buddha on the mantel, and so. much. more. Click for full size!

Mixing A Recipe for Corns.

Word Wednesday.

Reck / Reckon


Verb, Intransitive Verb.

1: Worry, Care. To have care, concern or regard. 1b: To take heed.

2: archaic: to be of account or interest: Matter.

Transitive Verb

1: archaic: to care for; regard.

2: archaic: to matter to: concern.

[Origin: Middle English, to take heed, from Old English reccan; akin to Old Norse roekja to have care, German (ge)ruhen to deign, akin to Old High German ruohhen to take heed.]

(Before 12th Century.)

Note: I grew up using reck and reckon. I still use reckon, because most people recognize it, but I had to give up reck, it’s unfortunately been lost to most people. I would say I don’t reck instead of I don’t care, and doesn’t reck rather than doesn’t matter.


Verb, Transitive Verb

1a: count <reckon the days to Christmas> b: estimate, compute. c: to determine by reference to a fixed basis.

2: to regard or think of as: consider.

3: chiefly dialectal: think, suppose.

Intransitive Verb

1: to settle accounts.

2: to make a calculation.

3a: judge b: chiefly dialectal: suppose, think.

4: to accept something as certain: place reliance.

-reckon with: to take into consideration.

-reckon without: to fail to consider: ignore.

[Origin: Middle English rekenen, from Old English –recenian (as in gerecenian to narrate); akin to Old English reccan.]

(13th Century.)

The girl had the good grace to blush. “I came in to get a Valentine’s card,” she said, “only I can’t choose. Look.” She pointed to the display near the counter. “Funny, sexy, or romantic – what d’you reckon?” – The Witch’s Daughter, by Paula Brackston.

The Healing Arts: Les Mangeurs d’Huitres, La Luxure, Le Magnetisme, Les Lunettes.

Still with Louis-Léopold Boilly. I know La Luxure is supposed to be creepy, but Boilly outdid himself there. :shudder: But I do love Le Lunettes. All images, click for full size.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Les Mangeurs d'Huitres (aphrodisiacs), Lithograph, 1825.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Les Mangeurs d’Huitres (aphrodisiacs), Lithograph, 1825.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, La Luxure (Lechery), Lithograph, 1824.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, La Luxure (Lechery), Lithograph, 1824.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Le Magnetisme (Hypnotism), Lithograph, 1826.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Le Magnetisme (Hypnotism), Lithograph, 1826.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Les Lunettes (Eyeglasses), Lithograph, undated.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Les Lunettes (Eyeglasses), Lithograph, undated.

The Healing Arts: Les Sangsues, La Gourmandise, La Felicité Parfaite, & Les Ivrognes.

Still with Louis-Léopold Boilly. Click for full size!

Les Sangsues, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph,1827.

Les Sangsues, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph,1827.

La Gourmandise, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph,1824.

La Gourmandise, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph,1824.

La Felicité Parfaite, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph.

La Felicité Parfaite, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph.

Les Ivrognes, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph, 1828.

Les Ivrognes, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Lithograph, 1828.