This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
"In the celestial bed no feather bed is employed; sometimes mattresses filled with sweet new wheat or cut straw, with the grain in the ears, and mingled with balm, rose leaves, lavender Bowers, and oriental spices, and, at other times, springy hair mattresses are used. Neither will you find upon the celestial bed linen sheets; our sheets are of the richest and softest silk or satin; of various colours suited to the complexion of the lady who is to repose on them. Pale green, for example, rose colour, sky blue, black, white, purple, azure, mazarin blue, etc., and they are sweetly perfumed in the oriental manner, with otto and odour of roses, jessamine, tuberose, rich gums, fragrant balsams, oriental spices, etc.; in short, everything is done to assist the, ethereal, magnetic, musical and electric influences, and to make the lady look as lovely as possible in the eyes of her husband and he, in hers. But to return, in order that I might have for the important purposes, the strongest and most springy hair, I procured, at a vast expense, the tails of English stallions, which when twisted, baked, and then untwisted and properly prepared, is elastic to the highest degree.
"But the chief elastic priuciple of my celestial bed is produced by artificial loadstones. About fifteen hundred pounds' weight of artificial and compound magnets are so disposed and arranged as to be continually pouring forth in an ever-flowing circle inconceivable and irrestibly powerful tides of the magnetic effluxion, which is well known to have a very strong affinity with the electric fire.
"Such is a slight and indequate sketch of the grand celestial bed, which, being thus completely insulated, - highly saturated with the most genial floods or electrical fire! - fully impregnated moreover, with the balmy vivifying effluvia of restorative balsamic medicines and of soft, fragrant, oriental gums, balsams and quintescence, and pervaded at the same times with full springing tides of the invigorating influences of music and magnets both real and artificial, gives such elastic vigour to the nerves, on the one hand, of the male, and on the other, such retentive firmness to the female; and, moreover, all the faculties of the soul being so fully expanded, and so highly illuminated, that it is impossible, in the nature of things, but that strong, beautiful, brilliant, nay, double-distilled children, if I may use the expression, must infallibly be begotten".
A digression may, perhaps, be here pardonable, in order to give some notice of the latter and last days of the beautiful, highly accomplished and fascinating woman mentioned above.
She had been presented to Nelson by her husband, who had previously told her that he was about to introduce her to a little thread-paper of a man, who could not boast of being very handsome, but who would become, some day, one of the greatest men that England ever produced. After the battle of the Nile he again visited Naples, and was now little better than a perfect wreck. At Calvi, in 1794, he had lost an eye. At Teneriffe his right arm was shattered and amputated close to the shoulder. At the battle of the Nile he was severely wounded in the head. Incessant anxiety and watchfulness for his country's honour and welfare had blanched his brow, and shattered the"little thread-paper of a man" at the outset, till, on his return in triumph to his mistress, he seemed to be on the verge of an early grave.
Yet she proved herself a true woman, if an erring one, in her reception of the man she loved, and unhesitatingly and unequivocally forsook her all, to attend upon and worship him.
Not far from Merton turnpike stood the house of Nelson and his mistress. It was left with all its liabilities to Lady Hamilton, but she was obliged to take a hasty departure, and, harassed by creditors, in sickness of heart and without funds, the unhappy woman escaped to Calais.
Now for the sad, sad finale. From the portal of a house, as cheerless and dreary as can be imagined, in the month of January, with a black silk petticoat stretched on a white curtain thrown over her coffin for a pall, and an half-pay Irish dragoon to act as chaplain over the grave, which was in a timber-yard, were the remains of Nelson's much-adored friend removed to their final resting place, under the escort of a sergent de ville.
She died without the common necessaries of life, and was buried at the expense of the town, notwithstanding Nelson's last words, "Blackwood, take care of my poor Lady Hamilton!"
"Whatever the errors of Lady Hamilton may have been," says Doran, "let us not forget that without her aid, as Nelson said, the battle of the Nile would never have been fought, and that in spite of her sacrifices and services, England left her to starve, because the government was too virtuous to acknowledge the benefits rendered to her country by a lady with too loose a zone".
The remarks of honest old Burton * upon Aphrodisiacs, though quaint, are so judicious and pertinent, that we cannot better conclude this part of our essay than by quoting them: -
"The last battering engines," says he,"are philters, amulets, charms, images, and such unlawful meanes: if they cannot prevail of themselves by the help of bawds, panders, and their adherents, they will fly for succour to the devil himself. I know there be those that denye the devil can do any such thing, and that there is no other fascination than that which comes by the eyes. It was given out, of old, that a Thessalian wench had bewitched King Philip to dote on her, and by philters enforced his love, but when Olympia, his queen, saw the maid of an excellent beauty well brought up and qualified: these, quoth she, were the philters which enveagled King Philip, these the true charms as Henry to Rosamond. *
* Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 3, memb. 3, subj. 5.
" One accent from thy lips the blood more warmes Than all their philters, exorcismes, and charms,"
With that alone Lucretia brags, in Aretine, she could do more than all philosophers, astrologers, alychmists, necromancers, witches, and the rest of the crew. As for herbs and philters 1 could never skill of them. The sole philter I ever used was kissing and embracing, by which alone I made men rave like beasts, stupefied and compelled them to worship me like an idot.†
* Pornodidascalus seu Colloquium Muliebre Petri Aretini ingeniossimi et fere incomparabilis virtutum el vitiorum demostratoris: De Astu nefario, horren-disque dolis, quibus impudicae mulieres juventuti incautae insidiantur. - Frarnco-furti. Anno 1623.
† Verum omni ista scienca (magica) (says Lucretia) nunquam potui movers cor hominis sola vero saliva, mea (id est ampleux et basiis) inungens tarn furiose furere tam bestialiter obstupefieri plurimos coegi ut instar idoil me Amoresque meos adorarint. - p. 47-8.