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Doctors - Lady Hamilton

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59621.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:09 am Reply with quote

Question: What did Lady Hamilton do with her enormous magnetic bed?
Answer: Cured your impotence.

Notes: Before becoming Lady Hamilton, Emma Hart was originally named Amy (or Emma) Lyon and was the beautiful assistant to 'Doctor' James Graham, proprietor of London's most fashionable "Temple of Health and Hymen" in 1780. For as much as £50 a night, the good doctor (or, more accurately, Miss Lyon) would once and for all solve your impotence problems with the aid of modern science's most wonderful power: electricity, magnetism and an enormous bed.

A night on the Celestial Bed - a huge ornate couch raised on eight brass pillars, "with 15 hundredweight of compound magnets pouring forth in an everlasting circle", and a 'hands on' tour of the luxurious and futuristically decorated 10 room apartment in the Adelphi, with its arrays of conducting brass rods and magnetic contraptions, would solve all your problems.

After his lecture, 'On the Means of exciting and rendering permanent the Rational, Temperate and Serene Pleasures of the married state', he was banned from addressing the public due to the alleged 'coarseness and indecency' of its content.

Famed for his good looks and showmanship (but not his actual medical qualifications), Graham was forced to close the 'Temple' after only two years, but he amassed quite fortune from it, which he then squandered in his subsequent madness, ending his days locked in a lunatic asylum in Edinburgh, from whence he came.

At one point, after his ether-sniffing habit had taken too much of his mind, he decided he was a messenger from heaven and called himself 'The Servant of the Lord, O.W.L. (Oh! Wonderful Love!), and in 1792, he fasted for fifteen days and wore grass turf for clothing.

His original flyer read:
The Temple of Health

“The Magnificent Electrical Apparatus and the supremely brilliant and Unique decorations of this Magical Edifice--of this enchanting Elysian Palace! where wit and mirth, love and beauty--all that can delight the sound and all that can ravish the senses, will hold their Court, This and every Evening this Week, in chaste and joyous assemblage. The Celestial Brilliance of the Medico-Electrical Apparatus in all the apartments of the Temple will be exhibited by Dr. Graham himself, who will have the honour of explaining the true Nature and Effects of Electricity, Air, Music and Magnetism when applied to the human body.”

“Precisely at eight o’clock the Gentleman Usher of the Rosy Rod, assisted by the High Priestess, will conduct the rosy, the gigantic, the STUPENDOUS Goddess of Health to the Celestial Throne. The blooming Priestess of the Temple will endeavour to entertain Ladies and Gentlemen of candour and good nature, by reading a Lecture on the simplest and most efficacious means of preserving health, beauty, and personal loveliness, and a serene mental brilliancy even to the extremest old age. VESTINA THE GIGANTIC, on the Celestial Throne, as the Goddess of Health, will exhibit in her own person a proof of the all-blessing effects of virtue, temperance, regularity, simplicity, and moderation; and in these luxurious, artificial and effeminate times, to recommend those great virtues.”

Forfeit: Any variation on the "Lyon round Nelson's column" gag.


59638.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 6:45 am Reply with quote

Was Vestina the Gigantic actually Lady Hamilton, then?

I've definitely never seen them in a room together, if that's any help.

59645.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:16 am Reply with quote

Yes, that does seem to be the case:
One of Dr. Graham’s earliest Goddesses, “Hebe Vestina,” was a beautiful 16-year old domestic servant named Amy (Emma) Lyon. She may have joined his entourage as a singer, but was often featured as the main attraction, posing lightly-clad among the marble statues as the Goddess “Hygiea”--a scene which Thomas Rowlandson later recorded in one of his cartoons. But Emma’s most enticing performance came in the form of a warm mud bath divertissement, in which she frolicked tout nu before an entranced audience.

Although this cartoon hardly does justice to her enormity:

59646.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:21 am Reply with quote

One of the means for ensuring this was the frequent use of mud-baths; and that the doctor might be observed to practise what he preached, he was to be seen, on stated occasions, immersed in mud to the chin; accompanied by a lady to whom he gave the name of Vestina, Goddess of Health, and who afterwards became celebrated as the wife of Sir William Hamilton, and the great counsellor and friend of Lord Nelson.

Slightly further down on that page it mentions that one of Graham's junior 'priests' was one Mr Mitford, later to become father to the well-known authoress.

59667.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:16 am Reply with quote

Fabulous. It's like peeling an onion, isn't it?

59685.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:34 am Reply with quote

I wouldn't know - the wife does the cooking. ;-)

That Chambers 'Book of Days' is amazing - jolly good read.


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