The opening address to the reader, mocking the didactic tone of Goncourt's 1877 preface and giving its place of publication an ironic twist, accentuates the satirical nature of the text by arguing that "cette etude n'a jamais eu l'intention de reveiller chez toi des ardeurs erotiques [...] Cette pochade n'est qu'une critique litteraire deguisee, librement faite, plus librement ecrite, il est vrai, mais saupoudree de piments et non de cantharides
" ("Ami lecteur").
In the case of Charles II, who suffered a stroke on February 1st, 1685, his physicians bled him, purged him, shaved his head and applied blister-raising cantharides
plasters to his scalp, pressed red-hot irons upon his skin, administered enemas of rock salt and syrup of buckthorn and orange infusion of metals in white wine.
Propter, a mouthpiece for Huxleyan spiritual philosophy, offers a similar view of literature and art: "Art can be a lot of things; but in actual practice, most of it is merely the mental equivalent of alcohol and cantharides
Among his surviving holograph manuscripts is an essay on the relative efficacy of different aphrodisiacs: viper wine is "powerfull," cantharides
(better known today as Spanish fly) "mighteleye provokes, butt is dangerous," and foods such as lamb's testicles, sparrow's brains, "All younge meates," chestnuts, and melons are effective provokers of lust.(77) And then there are the scores of amorous songs, painstakingly written out in the trembling hand of an elderly roue, which seem to suggest that Cavendish was, right up until his death at the age of eighty-three, hotly in pursuit of a third wife.(78) In the light of such evidence, we should, I think, be willing to countenance the possibility that Bolsover was, in a very practical sense, a house designed for sensual indulgence.
His legs were also blistered with plasters of cantharides
and mustard to draw the humours out through his feet; his forehead was bled with lee ches; he was purged with strong emetics; and his room was kept so cold none of his staff would stay with him.