How we cite our quotes:
Thomasina: Septimus, what is carnal embrace?
Septimus: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one's arms around a side of beef. (1.1)
By playing on the root meaning of "carnal," Septimus emphasizes the unintentional side effects of language: most people would not think of making love as hugging meat, but that's kind of what it is.
Thomasina: Tell me more about sexual congress.
Septimus: There is nothing more to be said about sexual congress.
Thomasina: Is it the same as love?
Septimus: Oh no, it is much nicer than that. (1.1.48-51)
Septimus might be thinking of his unrequited crush on Lady Croom here, which certainly seems to be causing him more pain than his roll in the hay, er, gazebo with Mrs. Chater – except for the threat of dueling. While the sex itself may be good, it seems that at least some of the repercussions are not so nice.
Chater: You insulted my wife in the gazebo yesterday evening!
Septimus: You are mistaken. I made love to your wife in the gazebo. (1.1)
Word choice demonstrates the two men's vastly different attitudes towards sex. If Chater thinks of making love as an "insult," that's almost enough to make us feel sorry for Mrs. Chater. And it seems the one really feeling insulted by Mrs. Chater and Septimus's fling is Mr. Chater.