Sources, Cautionary Note,& Elaboration on The Question
Posted by Marie-Bernadette on August 10, 1998 at 01:26:22:
In response to I'm abuzz with comments..., written by Marie-Bernadette on August 09, 1998 at 02:47:03
Here are the books from which I gathered most of the information of my above post. The birth control methods that I mentioned were known of or used during the Georgian period and the Regency.
A Midwife's Tale (this is the book about Martha Ballard and I believe that it is in the bib), The Reshaping of Everyday Life in America 1790-1840 by John Larkin (Harper & Row, ISBN 0-06-015905-7), The Family, Sex & Marriage by Lawrence Stone (I've mentioned this book before and so has Patricia. My mum finally returned my copy to me but now I can't find where I put it so if anyone needs the ISBN, e-mail me)and, as I mentioned, I'm still looking for the source about the Queen Anne's Lace seed.
I had meant to mention that pennyroyal is a tricky herb. I was tired when I wrote that post and I appologise for my ommission. Pennyroyal can be dangerous. It was as an abortifactent, but also had other medicinal uses. We must remember, though, that these herbs were utilised by people who had been trained in their uses all their lives by their mothers and grandmothers, &c. Sure, women used various herbs as as birth control methods, but they weren't always effective and sometimes women got poisoned, too.
As to where urban people learned about 'the birds and the bees', Reshaping of Everyday Life... mentions that there were "underground texts" such as Aristotle's Masterpiece that were quite explicit as to the details of procreation,&c. That particular book was published anonymously originally in the 17th C. and had many printings from that time until 1831. There were other books and novels as well. Reshaping... also mentions that children learned about matters of amourous congress from "domestics and immodest school companions". In the biography Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin, the author mentions that women learned what to expect on their wedding night from talking to their married sisters, other female relatives and friends. (JA seemed to learn a lot from her talks with her cousin Eliza).
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