But this is not an isolated observation. Psychiatrists have long recognized among their patients a characteristic distortion of personality in which there is an extreme interest in productive and retentive activities, and which is also frequently marked by some degree of cruelty or sadism. The origins of this distortion have been analysed in detail and these special interests have been found to be a substitute for, or a sublimation of, a childish preoccupation with excretory matters, for which reason this personality pattern is described as the “anal” type. (This brief summary is hardly fair, for this classification is based on an elaborate and generally accepted theory of how personality is formed, which can be tested in various ways and forms the basis of most psychoanalytical work.)
The suggestion that the great tide of productive and accumulative capitalism which rose during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was due to an increase in the anal elements in character is far from new: but the point is one which has never, I think, been investigated historically. There is, in fact, room for a full-scale study of the relations between puritanism and these anal attitudes from earliest times.
Such a history would undoubtedly reveal a strong contrast between the uninhibited matrist treatment of scatological matters and the shamefaced taboos and obsessive preoccupations of puritans. Rabelais, for instance, treats scatological matters with gusto. Camden notes that at least one manor was held of the king, not by the conventional rent of a rose, payable at midsummer, but by serjeantry, a thing which is quite inconceivable today. This was the case at Hemingston,
“wherein Baldwin le Petteur (observe the name) held land by serjeantry (thus an ancient book expresses it) for he was obliged every Christmas Day to perform before our Lord the King or England, one saltus, one sufflatus and one bumbulus; or, as it is read in another place, he held it by a saltus, a sufflus and a pettus — that is (if I apprehend it aright), he was to dance, make a noise with his cheeks, and let a rousing fart. Such” — adds Camden benignly — “was the plain, jolly mirth of those days.”