Maupassant - a nice man (not)
Warning - not a post for the squeamish ...
Maupassant: "one day he had painted a false chancre on his penis and paraded thus in front of his mistress, whom he then raped to make her think that he had given her a dose of the pox."
Of course he did really have syphilis, although he didn't realise it, until March 1877, when he wrote to a friend, Robert Pinochon: "
For five weeks I have been taking four centigrammes of mercury and 35 centigrammes of potassium iodide a day, and I feel very well on it. Soon mercury will be my staple diet. My hair is beginning to grow again ... the hair on my arse is sprouting ... I've got the pox! at last! the real thing! not the contemplible clap, no the ecclesiastical crystalline, not the bourgeois coxcombs or the leguminous cauliflowers - no - no, the great pox, the one which Francis I died of. ... I don't have to worry about catching it any more, and I screw the street whores and trollops, and afterwards I say to them 'I've got the pox'. They are afraid and I just laugh."
It's a reminder of the hatred many men through the ages have felt for women. (Sorry to be depressing; got a cold and feeling rather miserable!)
From C. Quetel (Trans. J. Braddock and B. Pike) History of Syphilis, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1990, p. 129-30.)
You might think it is odd reading material (academic remainders again), but although my Camden Historical Society book on Leather Lane (on which I live - London EC1) manages not to mention it, the lane was best known from the 17th to the 19th century for its mercury baths, run, at the time the infamous John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, was treated there, by one Madam Fourcard. (That's from C. Goldsworthy, The Satyr, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2001, p. 129 - a not very good biography.)