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Book of Nature: 10 hilarious sex lessons from 1861 Always carry to bed a napkin, and eat plenty of phosphorous. Come get your Civil War era sex education on.

When they get a chance, lovebirds might want to consider putting down the laptop and picking up a copy of the erotic 1861 book, The Book of Nature; Containing Information for Young People Who Think of Getting Married, on the Philosophy of Procreation and Sexual Intercourse; Showing How to Prevent Conception and to Avoid Child-Bearing. Also, Rules for Management During Labour and Child-birth.

Sounds hot, right?

The Book of Nature.

The book, written by sexual physiology lecturer James Ashton, M.D. and a part of the Duke University Historical Collection, has resurfaced on internet archive and certainly contains some interesting advice about sex, marriage and procreation. For sexy Civil War-style intimacy, here are romantic pieces of advice straight from its pages.

#1. Keep it clean

I would then suggest to married people the following rule: Always carry to bed a clean napkin, which is to be kept in the hand of the male during the nuptial act. It will then be a very easy matter to place this napkin in a proper position to receive the Semen on withdrawal, at the instant it would otherwise be injected into the body of the female.

#2. Choose your timing

The proper time for sexual indulgence is an important consideration…. Persons who are predisposed to [dyspepsia, indigestion, and other affections of the stomach] should never have sexual intercourse just before eating, nor very soon after a full meal. Its peculiar effect on the stomach is calculated to weaken digestion, particularly on the part of the male; and many a miserable dyspeptic might trace his unhappiness to imprudent acts of sexual intercourse. From two to three hours after or before eating a full meal, is the proper time for this business.

#3. Eat plenty of phosphorous

The particular food which is calculated to stimulate the sexual organs is shell-fish, or sea fish of any kind, and turtle, as these generally contain phosphorus.

Other things that help in the aphrodisiac department include:

Among vegetables may be mentioned celery, parsnips, onions, peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, Lima beans, &c. Mushrooms and truffles are a stimulant, as is also mint, sage, penny-royal, thyme, and spices of all kinds, especially pepper and nutmeg. Canvas-back Duck, in proper season, is of excellent stimulating qualities; and for puddings, sago, tapioca and arrowroot. For drinks take porter and strong beer, wines, or coffee. Spirits are too exhilarating, and cause a reaction.

#4. Hope that your lesbian past doesn’t catch up to you

That escalated quickly.

Young girls of amorous desires get up a sexual excitement, and produce masturbation…and in boarding schools they often practice the habit upon one another until they caused repeated Orgasms, and in this manner injure their health. Many of the diseases of after life may be traced to such unnatural pranks.

#5. Practice safe sex

He is right about it not being ideal (for the wrong reasons), yet lists this tip among his “safe methods of preventing conception that are known.”

Some men tie up the scrotum to prevent a discharge of Semen, and thus hope to avoid impregnating the female; but this method is exceedingly hurtful, as it forces the discharge into the bladder, from whence it passes off with the urine. Such a practice will in a short time so derange the procreative organs as to send all the Semen into the bladder as fast as it generates, and the effect on health will be a wasting away of vitality in the same manner as if the patient constantly practiced self-pollution.

The book also has lots of naked ladies. Ladies that look exactly like the statue of Liberty. Naked ladies…of liberty, if you will. (I’ll see myself out.)

#6. Whatever you do, keep it missionary

…the position of their bodies during the nuptial act. Any unnatural performance of this act is apt to impair the health of the female and many women have been seriously injured…. No female, no matter how robust, can enjoy sexual intercourse except in the position intended by Nature.

#7. And not too much sex — that’s a bad thing

Because it literally retards your brain:

One of the greatest evils to mankind is a too free sexual indulgence by young men and boys. It not only injures their vital powers, but affects their intellects.

The idea that frequent release of semen makes you, uh, special, was widely held up until modern times. Here’s a portrait of an “onanist” (masturbator) from a 1918 Swedish medical book.

Also keep in mind that frequent sex dilutes the sperm and causes feeble children:

Another cause of feeble children is the abuse of the function of generation by too frequent intercourse. In such cases the semen is thin and watery, being too suddenly secreted. Harvey says that to produce vigorous offspring, the spermatic fluid ought to remain two or three days in its receptacles for its thinner parts to become absorbed, when more vitality will be imparted to it, and hence the more vigorous will be the offspring.

#8. Horny women produce female offspring, and nymphos don’t get pregnant

To sum up, amorous females generally breed female children, while those of a colder temperament breed boys. When both are moderate in their desires, children of both sexes are produced. When the female is unnaturally amorous, (and such cases frequently occur,) she seldom becomes impregnated at all.

#9. Giving her another go can permanently damage your penis

The male can have but one perfect Orgasm at the same time, because he must secrete a new supply of Semen before another can take place. Men do frequently attempt the second, third, and even more frequent connections within a few hours, but the subsequent ones are spasmodic and hurtful.

Those who value their health, and desire to enjoy true sexual pleasure, should never attempt these repetitions, as they permanently injure the organs, and impart to them an unnatural craving for frequent intercourse.

#10. And keep in mind women are indifferent to sex any way unless you make contact with their wombs

Many women say that they experience very little sexual feeling, and that the act of copulation is to them a matter of indifference. This is because the mouth of the Womb is not reached or touched by the glans of the male organ; and the pleasurable sensation of the female is then confined to a slight irritation of the Clitoris and Nymphæ, in the private parts.

When the amorous sensations of the female are excited during connection, the Womb becomes engorged with blood, and moves up and down in the Vagina, bringing the neck in contact with the glans of the male organ, and this contact, if not too violent, is the perfection of sexual indulgence for both parties.


Make sure to share this wisdom with your lover, it may come as news to some.

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