Thursday, January 28, 2016


An Eruption of Merdal Air

The Grand Mystery, or Art of Meditating over an House of Office, Restor'd and Unveil'd; After the Manner of the Ingenious Dr. S——ft, 2nd ed. (London: J. Roberts, 1726), pp. iv-v (dedication to Dr. W———d, where Corn = our American wheat and Flower = flour):
To a Philosopher there is no one thing more vile than another: His Business is to be acquainted with all Bodies, their Compositions and Properties, with the Reasons of their Changes. Whatever Form Matter is indu'd with, it is an Object to him of Contemplation, and the Transformation of a Pudding into a T——d, merits no less to be consider'd than the Growth of the Corn of which the Flower is made, which composes the main Substance of that Pudding; nay, if any Preference is given, it is rather a Subject of so much more Dignity, as the Operations of Nature in our Bodies are of a higher Estimation than those she performs in the Earth, and as Flesh, and Blood is of more Value than Dirt.
Id., p. 2:
There is nothing the Vulgar betray their Ignorance and the wrong Conceptions they entertain of Things more in, than when they bid a Person, whom they would shew their disesteem of, Go Shite; for, can we wish our best Friends a greater Pleasure, than to discharge those sensible Membranes, the intestines, of a Load, which often produces such dreadful Consequences, when retain'd, and is always an occasion of Fear to us, till we are rid of it.
Id., p. 3:
A Man, to understand the whole Process of the stercoral Matter, besides being perfect in Human Anatomy, must be a profound Philosopher, deeply learned in the Doctrine of Gravity and Motion, and perfectly acquainted with the Laws of Statics. He must know, according to the old saying, How many Farts goes to an Ounce, a Fart being only an eruption of merdal Air, whereby the Body it proceeds from, is diminish'd in Substance and Weight. He must also reason upon, and account for the variety we find in T——ds, their different Consistency, Colours and Smells. He must know why my Lady Squitter does nothing but Water, while Country Jug leaves something at the bottom of a Hay Stack as hard as a Stone.
Id., pp. 13-14:
I know very few who are Masters of the Grand Air in Shi—ting; the generality of People doing it with Precipitancy and Heat, as if frighted with what they are about; or else with Indolence and Unconcern, as if it were an Action of no Moment: The common Form of letting down the Breeches: The aukward Postures in Sitting, the frightful Grimaces and barbarous Exclamations now in vulgar Use, all highly require a Reformation.

I should therefore not think it amiss, if Academies were erected, to be under the Direction of Persons of distinguish'd good Breeding and Ingenuity, where young Gentlemen might learn to do what no Body can do for them, En Cavilier, and little Misses to sh—t in Pots like Ladies: They should be there taught how to walk to the House of Office or Close-Stool, with a handsome Air and Step, and how to take up, or let down, their Cloaths in a genteel Manner, and to sit down with a good Grace, and in an inviting Posture: They should there learn how to draw their Features into agreeable Forms, and to utter musical and significant Interjections; They should moreover be instructed in the Art of wip——g, it being, as generally now practis'd, but what the Puritan calls the Paint upon the Face of the Great Whore, a filthy Daubing.
Id., p. 17:
There is no Body, I believe, who goes abroad, but has been sometimes attacked in the Streets by a sudden and violent Motion to evacuate: What Agonies are we then in? How disorder'd is our whole Frame of Body? And what Care and Dread sits on the Countenance? The Women fly to Shops, where, after cheapening something they have no need to buy, and perhaps dropping the greatest part of their Burden on the Floor or into their Shoes, they desire to speak with the Maid; while we, unhappy Wretches, hurry to some blind Ale-House or Coffee-House, where, before we can get a Candle to light us to a nasty Corner in the Cellar, the fierce Foe, too violent to be resisted, gains the Breach, and lodges itself on our Shirts and Breeches, to our utter Confusion, Sorrow and Shame. And tho' they who keep Coaches have the Convenience of sh———ng under the Seats, I believe they would be better satisfy'd to alight, if, in every Quarter of the Town, there were handsome Receptacles for them.


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