It is well known, however, that the old Roman libertines lived constantly in an atmosphere of perfume, as did also that great pillar of the Church, Richelieu; in the first case possibly, and in the latter certainly, with a view to stimulation of the sexual appetite.1 Hildebrande declares that the odor of flowers is remotely connected with the sexual feeling, and calls attention to the passage—"my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh"—in the Love-song of Solomon, to show that the fact had not escaped the latter's observation. The passion of courtesans for perfumes, and the fact that the seraglio of the Sultan is a hot-bed of flowers, ateo go to corroborate the statement.1
1 Mr. Ellis devotes considerably over sixty pages to this subject in his volume on "Sexual Selection," with, bo far as I am capable of judging, very negative results, notwithstanding the keenness of his analysis.
1 Cloquet, he. cit., p. 70, et «eq.
* On the other hand, so far from smell, under ordinary circumstances, being a sexual incentive, I have frequently been informed of instances where coitus with prostitutes has been partially inhibited, and in some cases absolutely prevented, by the strong perfumes which these persons habitually use; and as to the admitted fondness of whores and male voluptuaries for flowers, a more fruitful field of inquiry, I believe, would be found in the well-known close relation between the sexual and the asthrtic and artistic senses, although the suggestion, to my knowledge, has never been hitherto put forth.
Professor Most relates the case of a young peasant who had excited many a chaste girl, sexually, and easily gained his end, by carrying a handkerchief under his arm while dancing, and afterwards wiping his partner's perspiring face with it; and it is recorded that the betrothal of the King of Navarre and Margaret of Valois was brought about by the former accidentally drying his face on a garment of Maria of Cleves which was moist with her perspiration. An analogous instance is told of Henry IV, whose passion for the beautiful Gabriel is said to have begun at a ball where he wiped his face with her handkerchief; and although not, to my knowledge, previously recorded, I have been told, by those who ought to know, that the natural odor of the negro is greatly increased by sexual excitement. The fact that these phenomena occur, however, for the most part, only among the lowest races, and those who have in great measure subordinated intellect to mere animal passion, tends to strengthen the conclusion of Krafft-Ebing,1 as well as of the present writer, that olfactory impressions in man, under normal conditions, "do not play an important role in the excitation of the sexual-center."