Excerpt from a description of the causes of the ‘Venereal Pox’ in Sennertus’ Two Treatises, translated by Nicholas Culpeper, 1673



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But this contagion, by which only now aday

we ſay this diſeaſe is diſſeminated, is received

divers wayes.  For ſometimes ’tis transferred

with the ſeed and menſtruous blood from the Parents

to the Child, and the Diſeaſe becomes

Haereditary; for when the blood, out of which

the Seed is generated, is infected and vitious

the like Diſeaſed ſeed is generated, alſo

Mothers blood being impure, with which the

Child is nouriſht, it Pollutes that, which pollution

afterwards in thoſe brought into the World

doth ſooner or later ſhew it ſelf, according to

greater or leſſer ſtrength of that virulency: what

manner of original of this Diſeaſe, if any

will deny to be properly by contagion, because

it is not by the contract of two bodies, viz

ſound and a ſick, he may for all me; yet

him know this, that then that malignity in the

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body of the Infant is not generated, but from

the infected parents by the ſeed, or the Mothers

blood is communicated to the off-ſpring.

                But by thoſe that are born into the World, the

ſame evil may be contracted two waies: the firſt

is, when with the nouriſhment and milk, the

evil is communicated to Infants by impure Nurſes;

which way indeed is the powerfulleſt of all

for when as the milk they ſuck is changed into

blood, and that is the nouriſhment of the whole

body, the poyſon this way is diſperſed into the

whole body, and inſinuates it ſelf moſt intimately

with it, and therefore thoſe that are this

way infected, are ſeldom cured, and not without

a great deal of Difficulty.

                The other way is by contagion ſo called properly,

and in ſpecy; where firſt of all ’tis enquired,

whether there be any contagion in the

Veneral Diſeaſe at a diſtance, ſo that if one do

neither touch with his body one infected, nor

the fuel which contains in it the contagion, yet

nevertheleſs may be infected with the Veneral

Diſeaſe; truly there is no example given of this

*cauſe, but what Manardus teacheth, Lib. 7.

*piſ. 3. and alſo ſome others affirm that there is

French Ophthalmy: but when as this Diſeaſe

of the Eyes in other caſes is oftentimes contagious,

it is no wonder, if one converſing with a

sick man that is troubled with a French Ophthalmy,

and earneſtly look upon his Eyes, that he

*also may contract ſuch an Ophthalmy.  Yet this

cannot be granted, that as the Plague may be

transferred by the Air to others in diſtant places,

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ſo alſo the Veneral Diſeaſe may be communicated;

for daily experience doth Teſtifie, *that

Phyſitians and many others, do familiarly converſe

with thoſe infected with this evil, yet *are

not infected by them.

                Therefore this evil is chiefly contracted by

contact, and truly moſt frequently by who*

Copulation, when that virulence is communicated

to the naked genital parts being ſoft, *

porous, from the genitals of the other infected

perſon; after which manner this Diſeaſe was

firſt brought out of the Indies, by the Spanish*

Souldiers infected by the Indian Women which

were ſick of this Diſeaſe, into Italy, and diſſeminated

through the French Camp, and hence

ſpread throughout all Europe, as we ſaid before

according to the opinion of many Phyſitians

And though ſome as we ſaid even now, who have

been infected with this Diſeaſe, endeavour to*

renounce the Cauſe of it; yet many if they *

not chaſtly, yet they live cloſely, and Ga*

Fallopius, not without a Cauſe de Morb. G*

cap. 10. ſcoffs at certain chaſt Matrons, as they

boaſted themſelves to be, who ſaid they contracted

this Diſeaſe by ſprinkling them with holy*

water which was polluted; he that believes this

let him believe that too, which Averroes Writ*

2. collect. cap. 10  that a woman was got with

Child in a bath, from ſome ſeed which wicked

men had ſpent there, or with Vallefius let h*

correct the Aphoriſme, 36. Sect. 6. because

many Monks have been ſick of the Gout before

the uſe of Venery.

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                And truly men contract this evil from women

that are infected, becauſe in the act by reaſon of

the concourſe of ſpirits, and the motion, the

Womb being heated, Vapors are raiſed from the

malignant Humors in the womb, which are ſuckt

in by the mans yard being of a porous conſtitution,

and are received into the veins.  But the man

being infected, may infect a ſound woman, either

by his yard, if that be infected and exulcerated,

or by his ſeed, although his yard be not ulcerated,

or both wayes: for though the ſeed in men is not

alwayes wholly corrupt, when as we ſee many

when infected with this diſeaſe do get Children;

yet it is altered and infected, from whence not

only the Iſſue contracts this evil, but alſo a Woman

may be infected by it.

                But though this evil be moſt frequently contracted

by whoriſh Copulation, yet by contagion

* may be derived to others, other manner of

wayes, viz. by Sweat, if any one ſleep in the ſame

bed with one infected with the Veneral Diſeaſe,

*d be wet with his Sweat; then by the filth and

excrements, or that flowing from Ulcers, and

*icking on the Linnen, Bed or Shirt, and garments,

if any one lie in them, or put them on.

The ſame Diſeaſe alſo may be communicated by

fever* or ſpittle, ſo lovers are infected with the

* of Whores ſick of this Diſeaſe, and Infants

by their Nurſes; or if any one drunk out of a

cup, or ſup out of the ſpoon, which one ſick of

this Diſeaſe did uſe a little before.  Beſides, Infants

may be infected another way; to wit, if they

touch the Breaſts of an impure Nurſe with their

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mouth, and that for a double reaſon, either because

they ſuck the infected and corrupted milk, of

which I ſpake before; or becauſe the Breaſts *

Nipples of the Nurſe are exulcerated.  On the

contrary, Nurſes may be infected from infected

Infants, eſpecially if they be troubled with Malignant

puſtles, or ſome Ulcer in the mouth; for the

Nipples of their Breaſts whiles they are ſuckt by

the Infant, grow hot, and their pores are more

opened, whereupon they eaſier receive in the


                But no body is eaſily infected by the breath, as

was ſaid before, and without danger we may be

converſant in the ſame Chamber with thoſe that

are infected; neither are thoſe Chirugeons nor

Phyſitians which cure the Veneral Diſeaſe, *

daily converſe with the ſick, any way infected

and if this Diſeaſe were contagious by breath*

and at a diſtance, the whole World would *

ere now have been French, and the diſeaſe would

be more than Epidemious, as one writes; yet

any one ſleep in bed with one infected, that

do receive his breath very neer, I will not pro*

him free from this evil; when as I know, Wives

that have been infected by their Husbands ſick

the Ptiſick, and afterwards died of it.

                Ths contagion after ’tis received into the body,

ſtayes not in thoſe parts in which it was

received, but after the manner of other poysons

penetrates into the innermoſt parts of the body

and truly sometimes discovers it ſelf present

within a few dayes, ſometimes lies hid a *


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                And Fernelius writes, de abdit. ver. Cauf.

Lib. a. cap. 14. That it doth ſometimes return

and revive after thirty years paſt, and for ſo

long ſpace the Fewel of the diſeaſe does lie hid

as dormant; and nevertheleſs  they who think

themſelves free from all hurt, and that they are

perfectly sound, do corrupt thoſe with whom they

lie, and beget an Iſſue poſſeſt with that Diſeaſe.

The ſame is witneſſed by John Philippus Ingraf*.

And Hercules Saxonia de lev Vener. cap.

I. relates that he cured an Illuſtriſſimo, who had

knobs of the French Diſeaſe came out upon him,

five and twenty years after he had taken the


                But what parts this virulency doth principally

aſſault, we ſaid formerly Authors did diſagree,

where we treated of its ſubject; many indeed do

hold, That this virulency is chiefly an Adverſary

to the Membranes, becauſe the pains do moſt of

all ariſe about the Perioſtia, and external parts,

where are many Membranes, in the Head, Legs,

Arms, Breaſt-bone, and in them the Perioſtiam

being eaten off, are raiſed knobs. But not onely

the Membranous parts are affected, but others

alſo, as the Buboes, Tumors, Ulcers in divers

parts, rottenneſs of the bones, falling of the hair.

*unning of the Reins do teſtifie. And therefore

we muſt enquire for a more common ſubject,

which we ſaid above was the Liver, and the ſimilar

parts dedicated to nutrition, and that have

*conſent with the Liver; for after the contagion

hath pierced as far as the liver (though in the interim

it may corrupt the parts near unto that, by

which the Contagion was received) and hath imprinted

a malignant diſpoſition on that, Sanguin*cation

is hurt, and a malignant quality is imprinted

on that blood which is generated in the Liver

and ſo with the blood are generated malignant

Humors, which when as they are troubleſome to

Nature, they are thruſt forth to the Circumference

of the Body, and ſo not only pains are raised

in the Membranes, but divers Diſeaſes and

Symptoms alſo in other parts; and whereas the

bones are not free, but they are oftentimes affected

with rottenneſs, it is no wonder that the neighbouring

Perioſtia are affected, and moſt cruel

pains raiſed.

                From all which it doth eaſily appear, what is

the manner of the generation of this Diſeaſe; to

wit, When the contagion of this Diſeaſe is communicated

from one ſick of the Veneral Diſeaſe

either by the ſeed and blood of the parents, or by

the ſucking of infected milk, or by Copulation

or by ſpittle, or by meat and drink, or by garments

and Linnen, to any part of a ſound body

firſt of all the part which receives the contagion

is affected and hurt, hence through that, the evil

creeps into the Veins, and by them penetrates

to the Liver, which when it hath put on an evil

diſpoſition, and contracted a malignant Diſeaſe

it generates vitious blood, containing in it the

Seeds of the Veneral Diſeaſe, which when as it

is an enemy to the body, by the expulſive faculty*

’tis driven from the more noble parts to the Circumference

of the body.  And from thence all*

nouriſhment in the whole body is hurt for

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whence are raiſed Spots, Tumors and divers bum+*
out, Ulcers, falling of the hair, pains, and

other evils.

                At length out of all thoſe things which have

been ſaid hitherto of the Nature and Cauſes of the

Veneral Diſeaſe, we make this definition of this

Diſeaſe; The Veneral evil is an occult Diſeaſe,

and peculiarly malignant, taken by infection, and

is infectious, chiefly an enemy to the Liver and

nutritive* faculty, and therefore nutrition being

hurt in the whole body, it raiſeth divers Diſeaſes

and Symptoms.