The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher – Aristotle



Containing his Complete Masterpiece and Family Physician; his Experienced Midwife, his Book of Problems and his Remarks on Physiognomy





On marriage and at what age young men and virgins are capable of it: and why so much desire it. Also, how long men and women are capable of it.


There are very few, except some professional debauchees, who will not readily agree that “Marriage is honourable to all,” being ordained by Heaven in Paradise; and without which no man or woman can be in a capacity, honestly, to yield obedience to the first law of the creation, “Increase and Multiply.” And since it is natural in young people to desire the embraces, proper to the marriage bed, it behoves parents to look after their children, and when they find them inclinable to marriage, not violently to restrain their inclinations (which, instead of allaying them, makes them but the more impetuous) but rather provide such suitable matches for them, as may make their lives comfortable; lest the crossing of those inclinations should precipitate them to commit those follies that may bring an indelible stain upon their families. The inclination of maids to marriage may be known by many symptoms; for when they arrive at puberty, which is about the fourteenth or fifteenth year of their age, then their natural purgations begin to flow; and the blood, which is no longer to augment their bodies, abounding, stirs up their minds to venery. External causes may also incline them to it; for their spirits being brisk and inflamed, when they arrive at that age, if they eat hard salt things and spices, the body becomes more and more heated, whereby the desire to veneral embraces is very great, and sometimes almost insuperable. And the use of this so much desired enjoyment being denied to virgins, many times is followed by dismal consequences; such as the green weesel colonet, short-breathing, trembling of the heart, etc. But when they are married and their veneral desires satisfied by the enjoyment of their husbands, these distempers vanish, and they become more gay and lively than before. Also, their eager staring at men, and affecting their company, shows that nature pushes them upon coition; and their parents neglecting to provide them with husbands, they break through modesty and satisfy themselves in unlawful embraces. It is the same with brisk widows, who cannot be satisfied without that benevolence to which they were accustomed when they had their husbands.

At the age of 14, the menses, in virgins, begin to flow; then they are capable of conceiving, and continue generally until 44, when they cease bearing, unless their bodies are strong and healthful, which sometimes enables them to bear at 65. But many times the menses proceed from some violence done to nature, or some morbific matter, which often proves fatal. And, hence, men who are desirous of issue ought to marry a woman within the age aforesaid, or blame themselves if they meet with disappointment; though, if an old man, if not worn out with diseases and incontinency, marry a brisk, lively maiden, there is hope of him having children to 70 or 80 years.

Hippocrates says, that a youth of 15, or between that and 17, having much vital strength, is capable of begetting children; and also that the force of the procreating matter increases till 45, 50, and 55, and then begins to flag; the seed, by degrees, becoming unfruitful, the natural spirits being extinguished, and the humours dried up. Thus, in general, but as to individuals, it often falls out otherwise. Nay, it is reported by a credible author, that in Swedland, a man was married at 100 years of age to a girl of 30 years, and had many children by her; but his countenance was so fresh, that those who knew him not, imagined him not to exceed 50. And in Campania, where the air is clear and temperate, men of 80 marry young virgins, and have children by them; which shows that age in them does not hinder procreation, unless they be exhausted in their youths and their yards be shrivelled up.

If any would know why a woman is sooner barren than a man, they may be assured that the natural heat, which is the cause of generation, is more predominant in the man than in the woman; for since a woman is more moist than a man, as her monthly purgations demonstrate, as also the softness of her body; it is also apparent that he does not much exceed her in natural heat, which is the chief thing that concocts the humours in proper aliment, which the woman wanting grows fat; whereas a man, through his native heat, melts his fat by degrees and his humours are dissolved; and by the benefit thereof are converted into seed. And this may also be added, that women, generally, are not so strong as men, nor so wise or prudent; nor have so much reason and ingenuity in ordering affairs; which shows that thereby the faculties are hindered in operations.


How to beget a male or female child; and of the Embryo and perfect Birth; and the fittest time for the copula.


When a young couple are married, they naturally desire children; and therefore adopt the means that nature has appointed to that end. But notwithstanding their endeavours they must know that the success of all depends on the blessing of the Gods: not only so, but the sex, whether male or female, is from their disposal also, though it cannot be denied, that secondary causes have influence therein, especially two. First, the general humour, which is brought by the arteria praeparantes to the testes, in form of blood, and there elaborated into seed, by the seminifical faculty residing in them. Secondly, the desire of coition, which fires the imagination with unusual fancies, and by the sight of brisk, charming beauty, may soon inflame the appetite. But if nature be enfeebled, some meatsmust be eaten as will conduce to afford such aliment as makes the seed abound, and restores the exhaustion of nature that the faculties may freely operate, and remove impediments obstructing the procreating of children. Then, since diet alters the evil state of the body to a better, those subject to barrenness must eat such meats as are juicy and nourish well, making the body lively and full of sap; of which faculty are all hot moist meats. For, according to Galen, seed is made of pure concocted and windy superfluity of blood, whence we may conclude, that there is a power in many things, to accumulate seed, and also to augment it; and other things of force to cause desire, as hen eggs, pheasants, woodcocks, gnat-snappers, blackbirds, thrushes, young pigeons, sparrows, partridges, capons, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, currants, strong wines taken sparingly, especially those made of the grapes of Italy. But erection is chiefly caused by scuraum, eringoes, cresses, crysmon, parsnips, artichokes, turnips, asparagus, candied ginger, acorns bruised to powder and drank in muscadel, scallion, sea shell fish, etc. But these must have time to perform their operation, and must be used for a considerable time, or you will reap but little benefit from them. The act of coition being over, let the woman repose herself on her right side, with her head lying low, and her body declining, that by sleeping in that posture, the cani, on the right side of the matrix, may prove the place of conception; for therein is the greatest generative heat, which is the chief procuring cause of male children, and rarely fails the expectations of those that experience it, especially if they do but keep warm, without much motion, leaning to the right, and drinking a little spirit of saffron and juice of hissop in a glass of Malaga or Alicant, when they lie down and arise, for a week.

For a female child, let the woman lie on her left side, strongly fancying a female in the time of procreation, drinking the decoction of female mercury four days from the first day of purgation; the male mercury having the like operation in case of a male; for this concoction purges the right and left side of the womb, opens the receptacles, and makes way for the seminary of generation. The best time to beget a female is, when the moon is in the wane, in Libra or Aquaries. Advicenne says, that when the menses are spent and the womb cleansed, which is commonly in five or seven days at most, if a man lie with his wife from the first day she is purged to the fifth, she will conceive a male; but from the fifth to the eighth a female; and from the eighth to the twelfth a male again: but after that perhaps neither distinctly, but both in an hermaphrodite. In a word, they that would be happy in the fruits of their labour, must observe to use copulation in due distance of time, not too often nor too seldom, for both are alike hurtful; and to use it immoderately weakens and wastes the spirits and spoils the seed. And this much for the first particular.

The second is to let the reader know how the child is formed in the womb, what accidents it is liable to there, and how nourished and brought forth. There are various opinions concerning this matter; therefore, I shall show what the learned say about it.

Man consists of an egg, which is impregnated in the testicles of the woman, by the more subtle parts of the man’s seed; but the forming faculty and virtue in the seed is a divine gift, it being abundantly imbued with vital spirit, which gives sap and form to the embryo, so that all parts and bulk of the body, which is made up in a few months and gradually formed into the likely figure of a man, do consist in, and are adumbrated thereby (most sublimely expressed, Psalm cxxxix.: “I will praise Thee, O Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”)

Physicians have remarked four different times at which a man is framed and perfected in the womb; the first after coition, being perfectly formed in the week if no flux happens, which sometimes falls out through the slipperiness of the head of the matrix, that slips over like a rosebud that opens suddenly. The second time of forming is assigned when nature makes manifest mutation in the conception, so that all the substance seems congealed, flesh and blood, and happens twelve or fourteen days after copulation. And though this fleshy mass abounds with inflamed blood, yet it remains undistinguishable, without form, and may be called an embryo, and compared to seed sown in the ground, which, through heat and moisture, grows by degrees to a perfect form in plant or grain. The third time assigned to make up this fabric is when the principal parts show themselves plain; as the heart, whence proceed the arteries, the brain, from which the nerves, like small threads, run through the whole body; and the liver, which divides the chyle from the blood, brought to it by the vena porta. The two first are fountains of life, that nourish every part of the body, in framing which the faculty of the womb is bruised, from the conception of the eighth day of the first month. The fourth, and last, about the thirtieth day, the outward parts are seen nicely wrought, distinguished by joints, from which time it is no longer an embryo, but a perfect child.

Most males are perfect by the thirtieth day, but females seldom before the forty-second or forty-fifth day, because the heat of the womb is greater in producing the male than the female. And, for the same reason, a woman going with a male child quickens in three months, but going with a female, rarely under four, at which time its hair and nails come forth, and the child begins to stir, kick and move in the womb, and then the woman is troubled with a loathing for meat and a greedy longing for things contrary to nutriment, as coals, rubbish, chalk, etc., which desire often occasions abortion and miscarriage. Some women have been so extravagant as to long for hob nails, leather, horse-flesh, man’s flesh, and other unnatural as well as unwholesome food, for want of which thing they have either miscarried or the child has continued dead in the womb for many days, to the imminent hazard of their lives. But I shall now proceed to show by what means the child is maintained in the womb, and what posture it there remains in.

The learned Hippocrates affirms that the child, as he is placed in the womb, has his hands on his knees, and his head bent to his feet, so that he lies round together, his hands upon his knees and his face between them, so that each eye touches each thumb, and his nose betwixt his knees. And of the same opinion in this matter was Bartholinus. Columbus is of opinion that the figure of the child in the womb is round, the right arm bowed, the fingers under the ear, and about the neck, the head bowed so that the chin touches the breast, the left arm bowed above both breast and face and propped up by the bending of the right elbow; the legs are lifted upwards, the right so much that the thigh touches the belly, the knee the navel, the heel touches the left buttock, and the foot is turned back and covers the secrets; the left thigh touches the belly, and the leg lifted up to the breast.


The reason why children are like their parents; and that the Mother’s imagination contributes thereto; and whether the man or the woman is the cause of the male or female child.


In the case of similitude, nothing is more powerful than the imagination of the mother; for if she fix her eyes upon any object it will so impress her mind, that it oftentimes so happens that the child has a representation thereof on some part of the body. And, if in act of copulation, the woman earnestly look on the man, and fix her mind on him, the child will resemble its father. Nay, if a woman, even in unlawful copulation, fix her mind upon her husband, the child will resemble him though he did not beget it. The same effect has imagination in occasioning warts, stains, mole-spots, and dartes; though indeed they sometimes happen through frights, or extravagant longing. Many women, in being with child, on seeing a hare cross the road in front of them, will, through the force of imagination, bring forth a child with a hairy lip. Some children are born with flat noses and wry mouths, great blubber lips and ill-shaped bodies; which must be ascribed to the imagination of the mother, who has cast her eyes and mind upon some ill-shaped creature. Therefore it behoves all women with child, if possible, to avoid such sights, or at least, not to regard them. But though the mother’s imagination may contribute much to the features of the child, yet, in manners, wit, and propension of the mind, experience tells us, that children are commonly of the condition with their parents, and possessed of similar tempers. But the vigour or disability of persons in the act of copulation many times cause it to be otherwise; for children begotten through the heat and strength of desire, must needs partake more of the nature and inclination of their parents, than those begotten at a time when desires are weaker; and, therefore, the children begotten by men in their old age are generally weaker than, those begotten by them in their youth. As to the share which each of the parents has in begetting the child, we will give the opinions of the ancients about it.

Though it is apparent that the man’s seed is the chief efficient being of the action, motion, and generation: yet that the woman affords seed and effectually contributes in that point to the procreation of the child, is evinced by strong reasons. In the first place, seminary vessels had been given her in vain, and genital testicles inverted, if the woman wanted seminal excrescence, for nature does nothing in vain; and therefore we must grant, they were made for the use of seed and procreation, and placed in their proper parts; both the testicles and the receptacles of seed, whose nature is to operate and afford virtue to the seed. And to prove this, there needs no stronger argument, say they, than that if a woman do not use copulation to eject her seed, she often falls into strange diseases, as appears by young men and virgins. A second reason they urge is, that although the society of a lawful bed consists not altogether in these things, yet it is apparent the female sex are never better pleased, nor appear more blythe and jocund, than when they are satisfied this way; which is an inducement to believe they have more pleasure and titulation therein than men. For since nature causes much delight to accompany ejection, by the breaking forth of the swelling spirits and the swiftness of the nerves; in which case the operation on the woman’s part is double, she having an enjoyment both by reception and ejection, by which she is more delighted in.

Hence it is, they say, that the child more frequently resembles the mother than the father, because the mother contributes more towards it. And they think it may be further instanced, from the endeared affection they bear them; for that, besides their contributing seminal matters, they feed and nourish the child with the purest fountain of blood, until its birth. Which opinion Galen affirms, by allowing children to participate most of the mother; and ascribes the difference of sex to the different operations of the menstrual blood; but this reason of the likeness he refers to the power of the seed; for, as the plants receive more nourishment from fruitful ground, than from the industry of the husbandman, so the infant receives more abundance from the mother than the father. For the seed of both is cherished in the womb, and then grows to perfection, being nourished with blood. And for this reason it is, they say, that children, for the most part, love their mothers best, because they receive the most of their substance from their mother; for about nine months she nourishes her child in the womb with the purest blood; then her love towards it newly born, and its likeness, do clearly show that the woman affords seed, and contributes more towards making the child than the man.

But in this all the ancients were very erroneous; for the testicles, so called in women, afford not only seed, but are two eggs, like those of fowls and other creatures; neither have they any office like those of men, but are indeed the ovaria, wherein the eggs are nourished by the sanguinary vessels disposed throughout them; and from thence one or more as they are fecundated by the man’s seed is separated and conveyed into the womb by the ovaducts. The truth of this is plain, for if you boil them the liquor will be of the same colour, taste and consistency, with the taste of birds’ eggs. If any object that they have no shells, that signifies nothing: for the eggs of fowls while they are on the ovary, nay, after they are fastened into the uterus, have no shell. And though when they are laid, they have one, yet that is no more than a defence with which nature has provided them against any outward injury, while they are hatched without the body; whereas those of women being hatched within the body, need no other fence than the womb, by which they are sufficiently secured. And this is enough, I hope, for the clearing of this point.

As for the third thing proposed, as whence grow the kind, and whether the man or the woman is the cause of the male or female infant—the primary cause we must ascribe to God as is most justly His due, who is the Ruler and Disposer of all things; yet He suffers many things to proceed according to the rules of nature by their inbred motion, according to usual and natural courses, without variation; though indeed by favour from on high, Sarah conceived Isaac; Hannah, Samuel; and Elizabeth, John the Baptist; but these were all extraordinary things, brought to pass by a Divine power, above the course of nature. Nor have such instances been wanting in later days; therefore, I shall wave them, and proceed to speak of things natural.

The ancient physicians and philosophers say that since these two principles out of which the body of man is made, and which renders the child like the parents, and by one or other of the sex, viz., seed common to both sexes and menstrual blood, proper to the woman only; the similitude, say they, must needs consist in the force of virtue of the male or female, so that it proves like the one or the other, according to the quantity afforded by either, but that the difference of sex is not referred to the seed, but to the menstrual blood, which is proper to the woman, is apparent; for, were that force altogether retained in the seed, the male seed being of the hottest quality, male children would abound and few of the female be propagated; wherefore, the sex is attributed to the temperament or to the active qualities, which consists in heat and cold and the nature of the matter under them—that is, the flowing of the menstruous blood. But now, the seed, say they, affords both force to procreate and to form the child, as well as matter for its generation; and in the menstruous blood there is both matter and force, for as the seed most helps the maternal principle, so also does the menstrual blood the potential seed, which is, says Galen, blood well concocted by the vessels which contain it. So that the blood is not only the matter of generating the child, but also seed, it being impossible that menstrual blood has both principles.

The ancients also say that the seed is the stronger efficient, the matter of it being very little in quantity, but the potential quality of it is very strong; wherefore, if these principles of generation, according to which the sex is made were only, say they, in the menstrual blood, then would the children be all mostly females; as were the efficient force in the seed they would be all males; but since both have operation in menstrual blood, matter predominates in quantity and in the seed force and virtue. And, therefore, Galen thinks that the child receives its sex rather from the mother than the father, for though his seed contributes a little to the natural principle, yet it is more weakly. But for likeliness it is referred rather to the father than to the mother. Yet the woman’s seed receiving strength from the menstrual blood for the space of nine months, overpowers the man’s in that particular, for the menstrual blood rather cherishes the one than the other; from which it is plain the woman affords both matter to make and force and virtue to perfect the conception; though the female’s be fit nutriment for the male’s by reason of the thinness of it, being more adapted to make up conception thereby. For as of soft wax or moist clay, the artificer can frame what he intends, so, say they, the man’s seed mixing with the woman’s and also with the menstrual blood, helps to make the form and perfect part of man.

But, with all imaginary deference to the wisdom of our fathers, give me leave to say that their ignorance of the anatomy of man’s body have led them into the paths of error and ran them into great mistakes. For their hypothesis of the formation of the embryo from commixture of blood being wholly false, their opinion in this case must of necessity be likewise. I shall therefore conclude this chapter by observing that although a strong imagination of the mother may often determine the sex, yet the main agent in this case is the plastic or formative principle, according to those rules and laws given us by the great Creator, who makes and fashions it, and therein determines the sex, according to the council of his will.


That Man’s Soul is not propagated by their parents, but is infused by its Creator, and can neither die nor corrupt. At what time it is infused. Of its immortality and certainty of its resurrection.


Man’s soul is of so divine a nature and excellency that man himself cannot comprehend it, being the infused breath of the Almighty, of an immortal nature, and not to be comprehended but by Him that gave it. For Moses, relating the history of man, tells us that “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul.” Now, as for all other creatures, at His word they were made and had life, but the creature that God had set over His works was His peculiar workmanship, formed by Him out of the dust of the earth, and He condescended to breathe into his nostrils the breath of life, which seems to denote both care and, if we may so term it, labour, used about man more than about all other living creatures, he only partaking and participating of the blessed divine nature, bearing God’s image in innocence and purity, whilst he stood firm; and when, by his fall, that lively image was defaced, yet such was the love of the Creator towards him that he found out a way to restore him, the only begotten son of the Eternal Father coming into the world to destroy the works of the devil, and to raise up man from that low condition to which sin and his fall had reduced him, to a state above that of the angels.

If, therefore, man would understand the excellency of his soul, let him turn his eyes inwardly and look unto himself and search diligently his own mind, and there he shall see many admirable gifts and excellent ornaments, that must needs fill him with wonder and amazement; as reason, understanding, freedom of will, memory, etc., that clearly show the soul to be descended from a heavenly original, and that therefore it is of infinite duration and not subject to annihilation.

Yet for its many operations and offices while in the body it goes under several denominations: for when it enlivens the body it is called the soul; when it gives knowledge, the judgment of the mind; and when it recalls things past, the memory; when it discourses and discerns, reason; when it contemplates, the spirit; when it is the sensitive part, the senses. And these are the principal offices whereby the soul declares its powers and performs its actions. For being seated in the highest parts of the body it diffuses its force into every member. It is not propagated from the parents, nor mixed with gross matter, but the infused breath of God, immediately proceeding from Him; not passing from one to another as was the opinion of Pythagoras, who held a belief in transmigration of the soul; but that the soul is given to every infant by infusion, is the most received and orthodox opinion. And the learned do likewise agree that this is done when the infant is perfected in the womb, which happens about the twenty- fourth day after conception; especially for males, who are generally born at the end of nine months; but in females, who are not so soon formed and perfected, through defect of heat, until the fiftieth day. And though this day in either case cannot be truly set down, yet Hippocrates has given his opinion, that it is so when the child is formed and begins to move, when born in due season. In his book of the nature of infants, he says, if it be a male and be perfect on the thirtieth day, and move on the seventieth, he will be born in the seventh month; but if he be perfectly formed on the thirty-fifth day, he will move on the seventieth and will be born in the eighth month. Again, if he be perfectly formed on the forty-fifth day, he will move on the ninetieth and be born in the ninth month. Now from these paring of days and months, it plainly appears that the day of forming being doubled, makes up the day of moving, and the day, three times reckoned, makes up the day of birth. As thus, when thirty-five perfects the form, if you double it, makes seventy the day of motion; and three times seventy amounts to two hundred and ten days; while allowing thirty days to a month makes seven months, and so you must consider the rest. But as to a female the case is different; for it is longer perfecting in the womb, the mother ever goinglonger with a girl than with a boy, which makes the account differ; for a female formed in thirty days does not move until the seventieth day, and is born in the seventh month; when she is formed on the fortieth day, she does not move till the eightieth and is born in the eighth month; but, if she be perfectly formed on the forty-fifth day she moves on the ninetieth, and the child is born in the ninth month; but if she that is formed on the sixtieth day, moves on the one hundred and tenth day, she will be born in the tenth month. I treat the more largely of love that the reader may know that the reasonable soul is not propagated by the parents, but is infused by the Almighty, when the child has its perfect form, and is exactly distinguished in its lineaments.

Now, as the life of every other creature, as Moses shows, is in the blood, so the life of man consists in the soul, which although subject to passion, by reason of the gross composures of the body, in which it has a temporary confinement, yet it is immortal and cannot in itself corrupt or suffer change, it being a spark of the Divine Mind. And that every man has a peculiar soul plainly appears by the vast difference between the will, judgment, opinions, manners, and affections in men. This David observes when he says: “God hath fashioned the hearts and minds of men, and has given to every one his own being and a soul of its own nature.” Hence Solomon rejoiced that God had given him a soul, and a body agreeable to it. It has been disputed among the learned in what part of the body the soul resides; some are of opinion its residence is in the middle of the heart, and from thence communicates itself to every part, which Solomon (Prov. iv. 23) seems to confirm when he says: “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” But many curious physicians, searching the works of nature in man’s anatomy, do affirm that its chief seat is in the brain, from whence proceed the senses, the faculties, and actions, diffusing the operations of the soul through all parts of the body, whereby it is enlivened with heat and force to the heart, by the arteries, corodities, or sleepy arteries, which part upon the throat; which, if they happen to be broken or cut, they cause barrenness, and if stopped an apoplexy; for there must necessarily be ways through which the spirits, animal and vital, may have intercourse and convey native heat from the soul. For though the soul has its chief seat in one place, it operates in every part, exercising every member which are the soul’s instruments, by which she discovers her power. But if it happen that any of the original parts are out of tune, its whole work is confused, as appears in idiots and mad men; though, in some of them, the soul, by a vigorous exertion of its power, recovers its innate strength and they become right after a long despondency in mind, but in others it is not recovered again in this life. For, as fire under ashes, or the sun obscured from our sight by thick clouds, afford not their native lustre, so the soul, overwhelmed in moist or morbid matter, is darkened and reason thereby overclouded; and though reason shines less in children than it does in such as are arrived at maturity, yet no man must imagine that the soul of an infant grows up with the child, for then would it again decay; but it suits itself to nature’s weakness, and the imbecility of the body wherein it is placed, that it may operate the better. And as the body is more capable of recovering its influence, so the soul does more and more exert its faculties, having force and endowment at the time it enters the form of a child in the womb; for its substance can receive nothing less. And thus much to prove that the soul does not come from the parents, but is infused by God. I shall next prove its immortality and demonstrate the certainty of our resurrection.


That the soul of man is a Divine ray, infused by the Sovereign Creator, I have already proved, and now come to show that whatever immediately proceeds from Him, and participates of His nature, must be as immortal as its original; for, though all other creatures are endowed with life and motion, they yet lack a reasonable soul, and from thence it is concluded that their life is in their blood, and that being corruptible they perish and are no more; but man being endowed with a reasonable soul and stamped with a Divine image, is of a different nature, and though his body is corruptible, yet his soul being of an immortal nature cannot perish; but at the dissolution of the body returns to God who gave it, either to receive reward or punishment. Now, that the body can sin of itself is impossible, because wanting the soul, which is the principle of life, it cannot act nor proceed to anything either good or evil; for could it do so, it might even sin in the grave. But it is plain that after death there is a cessation; for as death leaves us so judgment will find us.

Now, reason having evidently demonstrated the soul’s immortality, the Holy Scriptures do abundantly give testimony of the truth of the resurrection, as the reader may see by perusing the 14th and 19th chapters of Job and 5th of John. I shall, therefore, leave the further discussion of this matter to divines, whose province it is, and return to treat of the works of nature.


Of Monsters and Monstrous Births; and the several reasons thereof, according to the opinions of the Ancients. Also, whether the Monsters are endowed with reasonable Souls; and whether the Devils can engender; is here briefly discussed.


By the ancients, monsters are ascribed to depraved conceptions, and are designated as being excursions of nature, which are vicious in one of these four ways: either in figure, magnitude, situation, or number.

In figure, when a man bears the character of a beast, as did the beast in Saxony. In magnitude, when one part does not equalise with another; as when one part is too big or too little for the other parts of the body. But this is so common among us that I need not produce a testimony.

There was a Monster at Ravenna in Italy of this kind, in the year 1512.

I now proceed to explain the cause of their generation, which is either divine or natural. The divine cause proceeds from God’s permissive will, suffering parents to bring forth abominations for their filthy and corrupt affections, which are let loose unto wickedness like brute beasts which have no understanding. Wherefore it was enacted among the ancient Romans that those who were in any way deformed, should not be admitted into religious houses. And St. Jerome was grieved in his time to see the lame and the deformed offering up spiritual sacrifices to God in religious houses. And Keckerman, by way of inference, excludes all that are ill-shapen from this presbyterian function in the church. And that which is of more force than all, God himself commanded Moses not to receive such to offer sacrifice among his people; and he also renders the reason Leviticus, xxii. 28, “Lest he pollute my sanctuaries.” Because of the outward deformity, the body is often a sign of the pollution of the heart, as a curse laid on the child for the incontinency of its parents. Yet it is not always so. Let us therefore duly examine and search out the natural cause of their generation, which (according to the ancients who have dived into the secrets of nature) is either in the mother or in the agent, in the seed, or in the womb.

The matter may be in default two ways—by defect or by excess: by defect, when the child has only one arm; by excess, when it has four hands or two heads. Some monsters are begotten by a woman’s unnatural lying with beasts; as in the year 1603, there was a monster begotten by a woman’s generating with a dog; which from the navel upwards had the perfect resemblance of its mother: but from its navel downwards it resembled a dog.

The agent or womb may be in fault three ways; firstly, the formative faculty, which may be too strong or too weak, by which is procured a depraved figure; secondly, to the instrument or place of conception, the evil confirmation or the disposition whereof will cause a monstrous birth; thirdly, in the imaginative power at the time of conception; which is of such a force that it stamps the character of the thing imagined on the child. Thus the children of an adulteress may be like her husband, though begotten by another man, which is caused through the force of imagination that the woman has of her own husband at the act of coition. And I have heard of a woman, who, at the time of conception, beholding the picture of a blackamoor, conceived and brought forth an Ethiopian. I will not trouble you with more human testimonies, but conclude with a stronger warrant. We read (Gen. xxx. 31) how Jacob having agreed with Laban to have all the spotted sheep for keeping his flock to augment his wages, took hazel rods and peeled white streaks on them, and laid them before the sheep when they came to drink, which coupling together there, whilst they beheld the rods, conceived and brought forth young.

“Where children thus are born with hairy coatsHeaven’s wrath unto the kingdom it denotes”

Another monster representing a hairy child. It was all covered with hair like a beast. That which made it more frightful was, that its navel was in the place where its nose should stand, and its eyes placed where the mouth should have been, and its mouth placed in the chin. It was of the male kind, and was born in France, in the year 1597, at a town called Arles in Provence, and lived a few days, frightening all that beheld it. It was looked upon as a forerunner of desolations which soon after happened to that kingdom, in which men to each other were more like brutes than human creatures.

There was a monster born at Nazara in the year 1530. It had four arms and four legs.

The imagination also works on the child, after conception, of which we have a pregnant instance.

A worthy gentlewoman in Suffolk, who being with child and passing by a butcher who was killing his meat, a drop of blood sprung on her face, whereupon she said her child would have a blemish on its face, and at the birth it was found marked with a red spot.

Likewise in the reign of Henry III, there was a woman delivered of a child having two heads and four arms, and the bodies were joined at the back; the heads were so placed that they looked contrary ways; each had two distinct arms and hands. They would both laugh, both speak, and both cry, and be hungry together; sometimes the one would speak and the other keep silence, and sometimes both speak together. They lived several years, but one outlived the other three years, carrying the dead one (for there was no parting them) till the survivor fainted with the burden, and more with the stench of the dead carcase.

It is certain that monstrous births often happen by means of undue copulation; for some there are, who, having been long absent from one another, and having an eager desire for enjoyment, consider not as they ought, to do as their circumstances demand. And if it happen that they come together when the woman’s menses are flowing, and notwithstanding, proceed to the act of copulation, which is both unclean and unnatural, the issue of such copulation does often prove monstrous, as a just punishment for doing what nature forbids. And, therefore, though men should be ever so eager for it, yet women, knowing their own condition, should at such times positively refuse their company. And though such copulations do not always produce monstrous birth, yet the children, thus begotten, are generally heavy, dull, and sluggish, besides defective in their understandings, lacking the vivacity and loveliness with which children begotten in proper season are endowed.

In Flanders, between Antwerp and Mechlin, in a village called Uthaton, a child was born which had two heads, four arms, seeming like two girls joined together, having two of their arms lifted up between and above their heads, the thighs being placed as it were across one another, according to the figure on p. 39. How long they lived I had no account of.

By the figure on p. 40 you may see that though some of the members are wanting, yet they are supplied by other members.

It remains now that I make some inquiry whether those that are born monsters have reasonable souls, and are capable of resurrection. And here both divines and physicians are of opinion that those who, according to the order of generations deduced from our first parents, proceed by mutual means from either sex, though their outward shape be deformed and monstrous, have notwithstanding a reasonable soul, and consequently their bodies are capable of resurrection, as other men’s and women’s are; but those monsters that are not begotten by men, but are the product of women’s unnatural lusts in copulating with other creatures shall perish as the brute beasts by whom they were begotten, not having a reasonable soul nor any breath of the Almighty infused into them; and such can never be capable of resurrection. And the same is also true of imperfect and abortive births.

Some are of opinion that monsters may be engendered by some infernal spirit. Of this mind was Adigus Fariur, speaking of a deformed monster born at Craconia; and Hieronimus Cardamnus wrote of a maid that was got with child by the devil, she thinking it had been a fair young man. The like also is recorded by Vicentius, of the prophet Merlin, that he was begotten by an evil spirit. But what a repugnance it would be both to religion and nature, if the devils could beget men; when we are taught to believe that not any was ever begotten without human seed, except the Son of God. The devil then being a spirit and having no corporeal substance, has therefore no seed of generation; to say that he can use the act of generation effectually is to affirm that he can make something out of nothing, and consequently to affirm the devil to be God, for creation belongs to God only. Again, if the devil could assume to himself a human body and enliven the faculties of it, and cause it to generate, as some affirm he can, yet this body must bear the image of the devil. And it borders on blasphemy to think that God should so far give leave to the devil as out of God’s image to raise his own diabolical offspring. In the school of Nature we are taught the contrary, viz., that like begets like; therefore, of a devil cannot man be born. Yet, it is not denied, but the devils, transforming themselves into human shapes, may abuse both men and women, and, with wicked people, use carnal copulation; but that any unnatural conjunction can bring forth a human creature is contrary to nature and all religion.


Of the happy state of matrimony, as it is appointed by God, the true felicity that rebounds thereby to either sex; and to what end it is ordained.


Without doubt the uniting of hearts in holy wedlock is of all conditions the happiest; for then a man has a second self to whom he can reveal his thoughts, as well as a sweet companion in his labours, toils, trials, and difficulties. He has one in whose breast, as in a safe cabinet, he can confide his inmost secrets, especially where reciprocal love and inviolable faith is centred; for there no care, fear, jealousy, mistrust or hatred can ever interpose. For base is the man that hateth his own flesh! And truly a wife, if rightly considered, as Adam well observed, is or

“I take not that to be my dowry, whichThe vulgar sort do wealth and honour call;That all my wishes terminate in this:——I’ll obey my husband and be chaste withall;To have God’s fear, and beauty in my mind,To do those good who are virtuously inclined.”

ought to be esteemed of every honest man as “Bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,” etc. Nor was it the least care of the Almighty to ordain so near a union, and that for two causes; the first, for the increase of posterity; the second, to restrain man’s wandering desires and affections; nay, that they might be yet happier, when God has joined them together, he “blessed them,” as in Gen. ii. An ancient writer, contemplating this happy state, says, in the economy of Xenophon, “that the marriage bed is not only the most pleasant, but also profitable course of life, that may be entered on for the preservation and increase of posterity. Wherefore, since marriage is the most safe, and delightful situation of man he does in no ways provide amiss for his own tranquillity who enters into it, especially when he comes to maturity of years.”

There are many abuses in marriage contrary to what is ordained, the which in the ensuing chapter I shall expose to view. But to proceed: Seeing our blessed Saviour and His holy apostles detested unlawful lusts, and pronounced those to be excluded the kingdom of heaven that polluted themselves with adultery and whoring, I cannot conceive what face people have to colour their impieties, who hating matrimony, make it their study how they may live licentiously: for, in so doing, they take in themselves torment, enmity, disquietude, rather than certain pleasure, not to mention the hazard of their immortal soul; and certain it is that mercenary love (or as the wise man called it harlot-smiles) cannot be true and sincere and therefore not pleasant, but rather a net laid to betray such as trust in them with all mischief, as Solomon observes of the young man void of understanding, who turned aside to the harlot’s house, “as a bird to the snare of the fowler, or as an ox to the slaughter, till a dart was struck through his liver.” Nor in this case can they have children, those endearing pledges of conjugal affection; or if they have, they will rather redound to their shame than comfort, bearing the odious brand of bastards. Harlots, likewise are like swallows, flying in the summer season of prosperity; but the black stormy weather of adversity coming, they take wing and fly into other regions—that is, seek other lovers; but a virtuous, chaste wife, fixing her entire love upon her husband, and submitting to him as her head and king, by whose directions she ought to steer in all lawful courses, will, like a faithful companion, share patiently with him in all adversities, run with cheerfulness through all difficulties and dangers, though ever so hazardous, to preserve and assist him, in poverty, sickness, or whatsoever misfortunes befall him, acting according to her duty in all things; but a proud, imperious harlot will do no more than she lists, in the sunshine of prosperity; and like a horse-leech, ever craving, and never satisfied; still seeming displeased, if all her extravagant cravings be not answered; not regarding the ruin and misery she brings on him by those means, though she seems to doat upon him, used to confirming her hypocrisy with crocodile tears, vows and swoonings, when her cully has to depart awhile, or seems but to deny immediate desires; yet this lasts no longer than she can gratify her appetite, and prey upon his fortune.

Now, on the contrary, a loving, chaste and even-tempered wife, seeks what she may to prevent such dangers, and in every condition does all she can to make him easy. And, in a word, as there is no content in the embraces of a harlot, so there is no greater joy in the reciprocal affection and endearing embraces of a loving, obedient, and chaste wife. Nor is that the principal end for which matrimony was ordained, but that the man might follow the law of his creation by increasing his kind and replenishing the earth; for this was the injunction laid upon him in Paradise, before his fall. To conclude, a virtuous wife is a crown and ornament to her husband, and her price is above all rubies: but the ways of a harlot are deceitful.


Of Errors in Marriages; Why they are, and the Injuries caused by them.


By errors in marriage, I mean the unfitness of the persons marrying to enter into this state, and that both with respect to age and the constitution of their bodies; and, therefore, those who design to enter into that condition ought to observe their ability and not run themselves into inconveniences; for those that marry too young may be said to marry unseasonably, not considering their inability, nor examining the forces of nature; for some, before they are ripe for the consummation of so weighty a matter, who either rashly, of their own accord, or by the instigation of procurers or marriage-brokers, or else forced thereto by their parents who covet a large dower take upon them this yoke to their prejudice; by which some, before the expiration of a year, have been so enfeebled, that alltheir vital moisture has been exhausted; which had not been restored again without great trouble and the use of medicines. Therefore, my advice is: that it is not convenient to suffer children, or such as are not of age, to marry, or get children.

He that proposes to marry, and wishes to enjoy happiness in that state, should choose a wife descended from honest and temperate parents, she being chaste, well bred, and of good manners. For if a woman has good qualities, she has portion enough. That of Alcmena, in Plautus, is much to the purpose, where he brings in a young woman speaking thus:—

“I take not that to be my dowry, whichThe vulgar sort do wealth and honour call;That all my wishes terminate in this:——I’ll obey my husband and be chaste withall;To have God’s fear, and beauty in my mind,To do those good who are virtuously inclined.”

And I think she was in the right, for such a wife is more precious than rubies.

It is certainly the duty of parents to bring up their children in the ways of virtue, and to have regard to their honour and reputation; and especially to virgins, when grown to be marriageable. For, as has been noted, if through the too great severity of parents, they may be crossed in their love, many of them throw themselves into the unchaste arms of the first alluring tempter that comes in the way, being, through the softness and flexibility of their nature, and the strong desire they have after what nature strongly incites them to, easily induced to believe men’s false vows of promised marriage, to cover their shame: and then too late, their parents repent of their severity which has brought an indelible stain upon their families.

Another error in marriage is, the inequality of years in the parties married; such as for a young man, who, to advance his fortune, marries a woman old enough to be his grandmother: between whom, for the most part, strife, jealousies, and dissatisfaction are all the blessings which crown the genial bed, is being impossible for such to have any children. The like may be said, though with a little excuse, when an old doting widower marries a virgin in the prime of her youth and her vigour, who, while he vainly tries to please her, is thereby wedded to his grave. For, as in green youth, it is unfit and unseasonable to think of marriage, so to marry in old age is just the same; for they that enter upon it too soon are soon exhausted, and fall into consumptions and divers other diseases; and those who procrastinate and marry unseemingly, fall into the like troubles; on the other side having only this honour, if old men, they become young cuckolds, especially if their wives have not been trained up in the paths of virtue, and lie too much open to the importunity and temptation of lewd and debauched men. And thus much for the errors of rash and inconsiderate marriages.


The Opinion of the Learned concerning Children conceived and born within Seven Months; with Arguments upon the Subject to prevent Suspicion of Incontinency, and bitter Contest on that Account. To which are added Rules to Know the Disposition of Man’s Body by the Genital Parts.


Many bitter quarrels happen between men and their wives upon the man’s supposition that the child comes too soon, and by consequence, that he could not be the father; whereas, it is the want of understanding the secrets of nature which brings the man into that error; and which, had he known, might have cured him of his suspicion and jealousy.

To remove which, I shall endeavour to prove, that it is possible, and has been frequently known, that children have been born at seven months. Paul, the Counsel, has this passage in the 19th Book of Pleadings, viz.: “It is now a received truth, that a perfect child may be born in the seventh month, by the authority of the learned Hippocrates; and therefore, we must believe that a child born at the end of the seventh month in lawful matrimony may be lawfully begotten.”

Galen is of opinion that there is no certain time set for the bearing of children; and that from Pliny’s authority, who makes mention of a woman that went thirteen months with child; but as to what concerns the seventh month, a learned author says, “I know several married people in Holland that had twins born in the seventh month, who lived to old age, having lusty bodies and lively minds. Wherefore their opinion is absurd, who assert that a child at seven months cannot be perfect and long lived; and that it cannot in all parts be perfect until the ninth month.” Thereupon the author proceeds to tell a passage from his own knowledge, viz.: “ Of late there happened a great disturbance among us, which ended not without bloodshed; and was occasioned by a virgin, whose chastity had been violated, descending from a noble family of unspotted fame. Several charged the fact upon the Judge, who was president of a city in Flanders, who firmly denied it, saying he was ready to take his oath that he never had any carnal copulation with her, and that he would not father that, which was none of his; and farther argued, that he verily believed it was a child born in seven months, himself being many miles distant from the mother of it when it was conceived. Upon which the judges decreed that the child should be viewed by able physicians and experienced women, and that they should make their report. They having made diligent inquiry, all of them with one mind, concluded the child, without discussing who was the father, was born within the space of seven months, and that it was carried in the mother’s womb but twenty-seven weeks and some odd days; but if she should have gone full nine months, the child’s parts and limbs would have been more firm and strong, and the structure of the body more compact; for the skin was very loose, and the breast bone that defends the heart, and the gristles that lay over the stomach, lay higher than naturally they should be, not plain, but crooked and sharp, rigid or pointed, like those of a young chicken hatched in the beginning of spring. And being a female, it wanted nails upon the joints of the fingers; upon which, from the masculous cartilaginous matter of the skin, nails that are very smooth do come, and by degrees harden; she had, instead of nails, a thin skin or film. As for her toes, there were no signs of nails upon them, wanting the heat which was expanded to the fingers from the nearness of the heart. All this was considered, and above all, one gentlewoman of quality that assisted, affirming that she had been the mother of nineteen children, and that divers of them had been born and lived at seven months, though within the seventh month. For in such cases, the revolution of the month ought to be observed, which perfects itself in four bare weeks, or somewhat less than twenty-eight days; in which space of the revolution, the blood being agitated by the force of the moon, the courses of women flow from them; which being spent, and the matrix cleansed from the menstruous blood which happens on the fourth day, then, if a man on the seventh day lie with his wife, the copulation is most natural, and then the conception is best: and the child thus begotten may be born in the seventh month and provevery healthful. So that on this report, the supposed father was pronounced innocent; the proof that he was 100 miles distant all that month in which the child was begotten; as for the mother she strongly denied that she knew the father, being forced in the dark; and so, through fear and surprise, was left in ignorance.”

As for coition, it ought not to be used unless the parties be in health, lest it turn to the disadvantage of the children so begotten, creating in them, through the abundance of ill humours, divers languishing diseases. Wherefore, health is no better discerned than by the genitals of the man; for which reasons midwives, and other skilful women, were formerly wont to see the testicles of children, thereby to conjecture their temperature and state of body; and young men may know thereby the signs and symptoms of death; for if the cases of the testicles be loose and feeble, which are the proofs of life, are fallen, but if the secret parts are wrinkled and raised up, it is a sign that all is well, but that the event may exactly answer the prediction, it is necessary to consider what part of the body the disease possesseth; for if it chance to be the upper part that is afflicted, as the head or stomach, then it will not so then appear by the members, which are unconnected with such grievances; but the lower part of the body exactly sympathising with them, their liveliness, on the contrary, makes it apparent; for nature’s force, and the spirits that have their intercourse, first manifest themselves therein; which occasions midwives to feel the genitals of children, to know in what part the gulf is residing, and whether life or death be portended thereby, the symptoms being strongly communicated to the vessels, that have their intercourse with the principal seat of life.


Of the Green-Sickness in Virgins, with its causes, signs and cures; together with the chief occasions of Barrenness in Women, and the Means to remove the Cause, and render them fruitful.


The green-sickness is so common a complaint amongst virgins, especially those of a phlegmatic complexion, that it is easily discerned, showing itself by discolouring the face, making it look green, pale, and of a dusty colour, proceeding from raw and indigested humours; nor doth it only appear to the eye, but sensibly affects the person with difficulty of breathing, pains in the head, palpitation of the heart, with unusual beatings and small throbbings of the arteries in the temples, back and neck, which often cast them into fevers when the humour is over vicious; also loathing of meat and the distention of the hypochondriac part, by reason of the inordinate effluxion of the menstruous blood of the greater vessels; and from the abundance of humours, the whole body is often troubled with swellings, or at least the thighs, legs and ankles, all above the heels; there is also a weariness of the body without any reason for it.

The Galenical physicians affirm, that this distemper proceeds from the womb; occasioned by the gross, vicious and rude humours arising from several inward causes; but there are also outward causes which have a share in the production of it; as taking cold in the feet, drinking of water, intemperance of diet, eating things contrary to nature, viz., raw or burnt flesh, ashes, coals, old shoes, chalk, wax, nutshells, mortar, lime, oatmeal, tobacco pipes, etc., which occasion both a suppression of the menses and obstructions through the whole body; therefore, the first thing necessary to vindicate the cause, is matrimonial conjunction, and such copulation as may prove satisfactory to her that is afflicted, for then the menses will begin to flow according to their natural and due course, and the humours being dispersed, will soon waste themselves; and then no more matter being admitted to increase them, they will vanish and a good temperament of body will return; but in case this best remedy cannot be had soon enough, then let blood in the ankles, and if she be about sixteen, you may likewise do it in the arm, but let her be bled sparingly, especially if the blood be good. If the disease be of any continuance, then it is to be eradicated by purging, preparation of the humour being first considered, which may be done by the virgin’s drinking the decoction of guaiacum, with dittany of erete; but the best purge in this case ought to be made of aloes, agaric, senna, rhubarb; and for strengthening the bowels and removing obstructions, chaly-beate medicines are chiefly to be used. The diet must be moderate, and sharp things by all means avoided.

And now, since barrenness daily creates discontent, and that discontent breeds indifference between man and wife, or, by immediate grief, frequently casts the woman into one or another distemper, I shall in the next place treat thereof.



Formerly, before women came to the marriage-bed, they were first searched by the mid-wife, and those only which she allowed of as fruitful were admitted. I hope, therefore, it will not be amiss to show you how they may prove themselves and turn barren ground into fruitful soil. Barrenness is a deprivation of the life and power which ought to be in the seed to procreate and propagate; for which end men and women were made. Causes of barrenness may be over much cold or heat, drying up the seed and corrupting it, which extinguishes the life of the seed, making it waterish and unfit for generation. It may be caused also, by the not flowing or over-flowing of the courses by swellings, ulcers, and inflammation of the womb, by an excrescence of flesh growing about the mouth of the matrix, by the mouth of the matrix being turned up to the back or side by the fatness of the body, whereby the mouth of the matrix is closed up, being pressed with the omentum or caul, and the matter of the seed is turned to fat; if she be a lean and dry body, and though she do conceive, yet the fruit of her body will wither before it come to perfection, for want of nourishment. One main cause of barrenness is attributed to want of a convenient moderating quality, which the woman ought to have with the man; as, if he be hot, she must be cold; if he be dry, she must be moist; as, if they be both dry or both moist of constitution, they cannot propagate; and yet, simply considering of themselves, they are not barren, for she who was before as the barren fig-tree being joined to an apt constitution becomes as the fruitful vine. And that a man and woman, being every way of like constitution, cannot create, I will bring nature itself for a testimony, who hath made man of a better constitution than woman, that the quality of the one, may moderate the quality of the other.



If barrenness proceeds from overmuch heat, if she is a dry body, subject to anger, has black hair, quick pulse, and her purgations flow but little, and that with pain, she loves to play in the courts of Venus. But if it comes by cold, then the signs are contrary to the above mentioned. If through the evil quality of the womb, make a suffumigation of red styrax, myrrh, cassia-wood, nutmeg, and cinnamon; and let her receive the fumes into her womb, covering her very close; and if the odour so received passes through the body to the mouth and nostrils, she is fruitful. But if she feels not the fumes in her mouth and nostrils, it argues barrenness one of these ways—that the spirit of the seed is either extinguished through cold, or dissipated through heat. If any woman be suspected to be unfruitful, cast natural brimstone, such as is digged out of mines, into her urine, and if worms breed therein, she is not barren.



Barrenness makes women look young, because they are free from those pains and sorrows which other women are accustomed to. Yet they have not the full perfection of health which other women enjoy, because they are not rightly purged of the menstruous blood and superfluous seed, which are the principal cause of most uterine diseases.

First, the cause must be removed, the womb strengthened, and the spirits of the seed enlivened. If the womb be over hot, take syrup of succory, with rhubarb, syrup of violets, roses, cassia, purslain. Take of endive, water-lilies, borage flowers, of each a handful; rhubarb, mirobalans, of each three drachms; make a decoction with water, and to the straining of the syrup add electuary violets one ounce, syrup of cassia half an ounce, manna three drachms; make a potion. Take of syrup of mugwort one ounce, syrup of maiden-hair two ounces, pulv-elect triasand one drachm; make a julep. Take prus. salt, elect. ros. mesua, of each three drachms, rhubarb one scruple, and make a bolus; apply to the loins and privy parts fomentations of the juice of lettuce, violets, roses, malloes, vine leaves and nightshade; anoint the secret parts with the cooling unguent of Galen.

If the power of the seed be extinguished by cold, take every morning two spoonfuls of cinnamon water, with one scruple of mithridate. Take syrup of calamint, mugwort and betony, of each one ounce; waters of pennyroyal, feverfew, hyssop and sage, of each two ounces; make a julep. Take oil of aniseed two scruples and a half; diacimini, diacliathidiamosei and diagla-ongoe, of each one drachm, sugar four ounces, with water of cinnamon, and make lozenges; take of them a drachm and a half twice a day, two hours before meals; fasten cupping glasses to the hips and belly. Take of styrax and calamint one ounce, mastick, cinnamon, nutmeg, lign, aloes, and frankincense, of each half ounce; musk, ten grains, ambergris, half a scruple; make a confection with rosewater, divide it into four equal parts; one part make a pomatum oderation to smell at if she be not hysterical; of the second, make a mass of pills, and let her take three every other night: of the third make a pessary, dip it in oil of spikenard, and put it up; of the fourth, make a suffumigation for the womb.

If the faculties of the womb be weakened, and the life of the seed suffocated by over much humidity flowing to those parts: take of betony, marjoram, mugwort, pennyroyal and balm, of each a handful; roots of alum and fennel, of each two drachms; aniseed and cummin, of each one drachm, with sugar and water a sufficient quantity; make a syrup, and take three ounces every morning.

Purge with the following things; take of the diagnidium, two grains, spicierum of castor, a scruple, pill foedit two scruples, with syrup of mugwort, make six pills. Take apeo, diagem. diamoser, diamb. of each one drachm; cinnamon, one drachm and a half; cloves, mace and nutmeg, of each half a drachm; sugar six ounces, with water of feverfew; make lozenges, to be taken every morning. Take of decoction of sarsaparilla and virga aurea, not forgetting sage, which Agrippa, wondering at its operation, has honoured with the name of sacra herba, a holy herb. It is recorded by Dodonoeus in the History of Plants, lib. ii. cap. 77, that after a great mortality among the Egyptians, the surviving women, that they might multiply quickly, were commanded to drink the juice of sage, and to anoint the genitals with oil of aniseed and spikenard. Take mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, styrax and amber, of each one drachm; cloves, laudanum, of each half a drachm; turpentine, a sufficient quantity; trochisks, to smooth the womb. Take roots of valerian and elecampane, of each one pound; galanga, two ounces; origan lavender, marjoram, betony, mugwort, bay leaves, calamint, of each a handful; make an infusion with water, in which let her sit, after she hath her courses.

If barrenness proceed from dryness, consuming the matter of the seed; take every day almond milk, and goat’s milk extracted with honey, but often of the root satyrion, candied, and electuary of diasyren. Take three wethers’ heads, boil them until all the flesh comes from the bones, then take melilot, violets, camomiles, mercury, orchia with their roots, of each a handful; fenugreek, linseed, valerian roots, of each one pound; let all these be decocted in the aforesaid broth, and let the woman sit in the decoction up to the navel.

If barrenness be caused by any proper effect of the womb, the cure is set down in the second book. Sometimes the womb proves barren where there is no impediment on either side, except only in the manner of the act; as when in the emission of the seed, the man is quick and the woman is slow, whereby there is not an emission of both seeds at the same instant as the rules of conception require. Before the acts of coition, foment the privy parts with the decoction of betony, sage, hyssop and calamint and anoint the mouth and neck of the womb with musk and civet.

The cause of barrenness being removed, let the womb be strengthened as follows; Take of bay berries, mastic, nutmeg, frankincense, nuts, laudanum, giapanum, of each one drachm, styracis liquid, two scruples, cloves half a scruple, ambergris two grains, then make a pessary with oil of spikenard.

Take of red roses, lapididis hoematis, white frankincense, of each half an ounce. Dragon’s blood, fine bole, mastic, of each two drachms; nutmeg, cloves, of each one drachm; spikenard, half a scruple, with oil of wormwood; make a plaster for the lower part of the belly, then let her eat candied eringo root, and make an injection only of the roots of satyrion.

The aptest time for conception is instantly after the menses have ceased, because then the womb is thirsty and dry, apt both to draw the seed and return it, by the roughness of the inward surface, and besides, in some, the mouth of the womb is turned into the back or side, and is not placed right until the last day of the courses.

Excess in all things is to be avoided. Lay aside all passions of the mind, shun study and care, as things that are enemies to conception, for if a woman conceive under such circumstances, however wise the parents may be, the children, at best, will be but foolish; because the mental faculties of the parents, viz., the understanding and the rest (from whence the child derives its reason) are, as it were, confused through the multiplicity of cares and thought; of which we have examples in learned men, who, after great study and care, having connection with their wives, often beget very foolish children. A hot and moist air is most suitable, as appears by the women in Egypt, who often bring forth three or four children at one time.


Virginity, what it is, in what it consists, and how vitiated; together with the Opinions of the Learned about the Change of Sex in the Womb, during the Operation of Nature in forming the Body.


There are many ignorant people that boast of their skill in the knowledge of virginity, and some virgins have undergone harsh censures through their ignorant conclusions; I therefore thought it highly necessary to clear up this point, that the towering imaginations of conceited ignorance might be brought down, and the fair sex (whose virtues are so illustriously bright that they excite our wonder and command our imitation), may be freed from the calumnies and detractions of ignorance and envy; and so their honour may continue as unspotted, as they have kept their persons uncontaminated and free from defilement.

Virginity, in a strict sense, signifies the prime, the chief, the best of anything; and this makes men so desirous of marrying virgins, imagining some secret pleasure is to be enjoyed in their embraces, more than in those of widows, or of such as have been lain with before, though not many years ago, a very great personage thought differently, and to use his own expression:—”The getting a maidenhead was such a piece of drudgery, that it was fitter for a coal heaver than a prince.” [1] But this was only his opinion, for I am sure that other men think differently.

The curious inquirers into the secrets of Nature, have observed, that in young maidens in the sinus pudoris, or in what is called the neck of the womb, is that wonderful production usually called the hymen, but in French bouton de rose, or rosebud, because it resembles the expanded bud of a rose or a gilly flower. From this the word defloro, or, deflower, is derived, and hence taking away virginity is called deflowering a virgin, most being of the opinion that the virginity is altogether lost when this membrane is fractured and destroyed by violence; when it is found perfect and entire, however, no penetration has been effected; and in the opinion of some learned physicians there is neither hymen nor expanded skin which contains blood in it, which some people think, flows from the ruptured membrane at the first time of sexual intercourse.

Now this claustrum virginale, or flower, is composed of four little buds like myrtle berries, which are full and plump in virgins, but hang loose and flag in women; and these are placed in the four angles of the sinus pudoris, joined together by little membranes and ligatures, like fibres, each of them situated in the testicles, or spaces between each bud, with which, in a manner, they are proportionately distended, and when once this membrane is lacerated, it denotes Devirgination. Thus many ignorant people, finding their wives defective in this respect on the first night, have immediately suspected their chastity, concluding that another man had been there before them, when indeed, such a rupture may happen in several ways accidentally, as well as by sexual intercourse, viz. by violent straining, coughing, or sneezing, the stoppage of the urine, etc., so that the entireness or the fracture of that which is commonly taken for a woman’s virginity or maidenhead, is no absolute sign of immorality, though it is more frequently broken by copulation than by any other means. [2]

And now to say something of the change of the sexes in the womb. The genital parts of the sexes are so unlike each other in substance, composition, situation, figure, action and use that nothing is more unlike to each other than they are, and the more, all parts of the body (the breasts excepted, which in women swell, because Nature ordained them for suckling the infant) have an exact resemblance to each other, so much the more do the genital parts of one sex differ, when compared with the other, and if they be thus different in form, how much more are they so in their use.

The venereal feeling also proceeds from different causes; in men from the desire of emission, and in women from the desire of reception. All these things, then, considered I cannot but wonder, he adds, how any one can imagine that the female genital organs can be changed into the male organ, since the sexes can be distinguished only by those parts, nor can I well impute the reason for this vulgar error to anything but the mistake of inexpert midwives, who have been deceived by the faulty conformation of those parts, which in some males may have happened to have such small protrusions that they could not be seen, as appears by the example of a child who was christened in Paris under the name of Ivan, as a girl, and who afterwards turned out to be a boy, and on the other hand, the excessive tension of the clytoris in newly-born female infants may have occasioned similar mistakes. Thus far Pliny in the negative, and notwithstanding what he has said, there are others, such as Galen, who assert the affirmative. “A man,” he says, “is different from a woman, only by having his genitals outside his body, whereas a woman has them inside her.” And this is certain, that if Nature having formed a male should convert him into a female, she has nothing else to do but to turn his genitals inward, and again to turn a woman into a man by a contrary operation. This, however, is to be understood of the child whilst it is in the womb and not yet perfectly formed, for Nature has often made a female child, and it has remained so for a month or two, in its mother’s womb; but afterwards the heat greatly increasing in the genital organs, they have protruded and the child has become a male, but nevertheless retained some things which do not befit the masculine sex, such as female gestures and movements, a high voice, and a more effeminate temper than is usual with men; whilst, on the other hand, the genitals have become inverted through cold humours, but yet the person retained a masculine air, both in voice and gesture. Now, though both these opinions are supported by several reasons, yet I think the latter are nearer the truth, for there is not that vast difference between the genitals of the two sexes as Pliny asserts; for a woman has, in a way, the same pudenda as a man, though they do not appear outwardly, but are inverted for the convenience of generation; one being solid and the other porous, and that the principal reason for changing sexes is, and must be attributed to heat or cold, which operates according to its greater or lesser force.



Attributed to George IV (Translator).


A young man was once tried at Rutland Assizes for violating a virgin, and after close questioning, the girl swearing positively in the matter, and naming the time, place and manner of the action, it was resolved that she should be examined by a skilful surgeon and two midwives, who were to report on oath, which they did, and declared that the membranes were intact and unlacerated, and that, in their opinion, her body had not been penetrated. This had its due effect upon the jury, and they acquitted the prisoner, and the girl afterwards confessed that she swore it against him out of revenge, as he had promised to marry her, and had afterwards declined.


Directions and Cautions for Midwives; and, first, what ought to be the qualifications of a midwife.


A midwife who wishes to acquit herself well in her employment, ought certainly not to enter upon it rashly or unadvisedly, but with all imaginable caution, remembering that she is responsible for any mischief which may happen through her ignorance or neglect. None, therefore, should undertake that duty merely because of their age or because they themselves have had many children, for, in such, generally, many things will be found wanting, which she should possess. She ought to be neither too old nor too young, neither very fat, nor so thin, as to be weak, but in a good habit of body; not subject to illness, fears, nor sudden frights; well-made and neat in her attire, her hands small and smooth, her nails kept well-trimmed and without any rings on her fingers whilst she is engaged in her work, nor anything upon her wrists that may obstruct her. And to these ought to be added activity, and a due amount of strength, with much caution and diligence, nor should she be given to drowsiness or impatience.

She should be polite and affable in her manners, sober and chaste, not given to passion, liberal and compassionate towards the poor, and not greedy of gain when she attends the rich. She should have a cheerful and pleasant temper, so that she may be the more easily able to comfort her patients during labour. She must never be in a hurry, though her business may call her to some other case, lest she should thereby endanger the mother or the child.

She ought to be wary, prudent, and intelligent, but above all, she ought to be possessed by the fear of God, which will give her both “knowledge and discretion,” as the wise man says.


Further Directions to Midwives, teaching them what they ought to do, and what to avoid.


Since the duties of a midwife have such a great influence on the well-doing or the contrary of both women and children, in the firstplace, she must be diligent in gaining all such knowledge as may be useful to her in her practice, and never to think herself so perfect, but that it may be possible for her to add to her knowledge by study and experience. She should, however, never try any experiments unless she has tried them, or knows that they can do no harm; practising them neither upon rich nor poor, but freely saying what she knows, and never prescribing any medicines which will procure abortion, even though requested; for this is wicked in the highest degree, and may be termed murder. If she be sent for to people whom she does not know, let her be very cautious before she goes, lest by attending an infectious woman, she runs the danger of injuring others, as sometimes happens. Neither must she make her dwelling a receiving-house for big-bellied women to discharge their load, lest it get her a bad name and she by such means loses her practice.

In attending on women, if the birth happens to be difficult, she must not seem to be anxious, but must cheer the woman up and do all she can to make her labour easy. She will find full directions for this, in the second part of this book.

She must never think of anything but doing well, seeing that everything that is required is in readiness, both for the woman and for receiving the child, and above all, let her keep the woman from becoming unruly when her pains come on, lest she endanger her own life, and the child’s as well.

She must also take care not to be hurried over her business but wait God’s time for the birth, and she must by no means allow herself to be upset by fear, even if things should not go well, lest that should make her incapable of rendering that assistance which the woman in labour stands in need of, for where there is the most apparent danger, there the most care and prudence are required to set things right.

And now, because she can never be a skilful midwife who knows nothing but what is to be seen outwardly, I do not think it will be amiss but rather very necessary, modestly to describe the generative parts of women as they have been anatomised by learned men, and to show the use of such vessels as contribute to generation.


The External, and Internal Organs of Generation in Women.


If it were not for the public benefit, especially for that of the professors and practitioners of the art of midwifery, I would refrain from treating the secrets of Nature, because they may be turned to ridicule by lascivious and lewd people. But as it is absolutely necessary that they should be known for the public good, I will not omit them because some may make a wrong use of them. Those parts which can be seen at the lowest part of the stomach are the fissure magna, or the great cleft, with its labia or lips, the Mons Veneris, or Mountain of Venus, and the hair. These together are called the pudenda, or things to be ashamed of because when they are exposed they cause a woman pudor, or shame. The fissure magna reaches from the lower part of the os pubis, to within an inch of the anus, but it is less and closer in virgins than in those who have borne children, and has two lips, which grow thicker and fuller towards the pubis, and meeting on the middle of the os pubis, form that rising hill which is called the Mons Veneris, or the Hill of Venus.

Next come the Nymphae and the Clitoris, the former of which is a membrany and moist substance, spongy, soft and partly fleshy, of a red colour and in the shape of two wings, which are joined at an acute angle at their base, producing a fleshy substance there which covers the clitoris, and sometimes they extend so far, that an incision is required to make room for a man’s instrument of generation.

The Clitoris is a substance in the upper part of the division where the two wings meet, and the seat of venereal pleasure, being like a man’s penis in situation, substance, composition and power of erection, growing sometimes to the length of two inches out of the body, but that never happens except through extreme lustfulness or some extraordinary accident. This clitoris consists of two spongy and skinny bodies, containing a distinct original from the os pubis, its tip being covered with a tender skin, having a hole or passage like a man’s yard or penis, although not quite through, in which alone, and in its size it differs from it.

The next things are the fleshy knobs of the great neck of the womb, and these knobs are behind the wings and are four in number,resembling myrtle berries, and being placed quadrangularly one against the other, and here the orifice of the bladder is inserted, which opens into the fissures, to evacuate the urine, and one of these knobs is placed before it, and closes up the passage in order to secure it from cold, or any suchlike inconvenience.

The lips of the womb, which appear next, disclose its neck, if they are separated, and two things may be observed in them, which are the neck itself and the hymen, or more properly, the claustrum virginale, of which I have spoken before. By the neck of the womb we must understand the channel that lies between the above-mentioned knobs and the inner bone of the womb, which receives the penis like a sheath, and so that it may be more easily dilated by the pleasure of procreation, the substance is sinewy and a little spongy. There are several folds or pleats in this cavity, made by tunicles, which are wrinkled like a full blown rose. In virgins they appear plainly, but in women who are used to copulation they disappear, so that the inner side of the neck of the womb appears smooth, but in old women it is more hard and gristly. But though this channel is sometimes crooked and sinks down yet at the times of copulation, labour, or of the monthly flow, it is erected or distended, which overtension occasions the pain in childbirth.

The hymen, or claustrum virginale, is that which closes the neck of the womb, and is broken by the first act of copulation; its use being rather to check the undue menstrual flow in virgins, rather than to serve any other purpose, and usually when it is broken, either by copulation, or by any other means, a small quantity of blood flows from it, attended with some little pain. From this some observe that between the folds of the two tunicles, which constitute the neck of the womb there are many veins and arteries running along, and arising from, the vessels on both sides of the thighs, and so passing into the neck of the womb, being very large; and the reason for this is, that the neck of the bladder requires to be filled with great vigour, so as to be dilated, in order that it may lay hold of the penis better; for great heat is required in such motions, and that becomes more intense by the act of friction, and consumes a considerable amount of moisture, for supplying which large vessels are absolutely necessary.

Another cause of the largeness of the vessels is, that menses make their way through them, which often occasions pregnant women to continue menstruating: for though the womb be shut up, yet the passages in the neck of the womb through which these vessels pass, are open. In this case, we may further observe, that as soon as the pudenda are penetrated, there appear two little pits or holes which contain a secretion, which is expelled during copulation, and gives the woman great pleasure.


A description of the Fabric of the Womb, the preparing Vessels and Testicles in Women. Also of the Different and Ejaculatory Vessels.


The womb is joined to its neck in the lower part of the Hypogastrium where the hips are the widest and broadest, as they are greater and broader there than those of men, and it is placed between the bladder and the straight gut, which keeps it from swaying, and yet gives it freedom to stretch and dilate, and again to contract, as nature requires. Its shape is somewhat round and not unlike a gourd, growing smaller and more acute towards one end, being knit together by its own ligaments; its neck likewise is joined by its own substance and by certain membranes that fasten into the os sacrum and the share-bone. Its size varies much in different women, and the difference is especially great between those who have borne children and those who have had none. Its substance exceeds a thumb’s breadth in thickness, and so far from decreasing conception, it rather increases; and in order to strengthen it it is interwoven with fibres which cross it from side to side, some of which are straight and some winding, and its proper vessels are veins, arteries and nerves. Amongst these there are two small veins which pass into the womb from the spermatic vessels, and two larger ones from the neck: the mouth of these veins pierces as far as the inward cavity.

The womb has two arteries on both sides of the spermatic vessels and the hypogastric, which accompany the veins; and besides these, there are several little nerves in the form of a net, which extend throughout it, from the bottom of the pudenda; their chief function is sensibility and pleasure, as they move in sympathy between the head and the womb.

It may be further noted that the womb is occasionally moveable by means of the two ligaments that hang on either side of it, and often rises and falls. The neck of the womb is extremely sensitive, so that if it be at any time out of order through over fatness, moisture or relaxation, it thereby becomes subject to barrenness. With pregnant women, a glutinous matter is often found at the entrance to the womb so as to facilitate the birth; for at the time of delivery, the mouth of the womb is opened as wide as the size of the child requires, and dilates equally from top to bottom.

The spermatic vessels in women, consist of two veins and two arteries, which differ from those of men only in size and the manner of their insertion; for the number of veins and arteries is the same as in men, the right vein issuing from the trunk of the hollow vein descending and besides them there are two arteries, which flow from the aorta.

These vessels are narrower and shorter in women than in men; but it must be noticed that they are more intertwined and contorted than in men, and shrink together by reason of their shortness that they may, by their looseness, be better stretched out when necessary: and these vessels in women are carried in an oblique direction through the lesser bowels and testicles but are divided into two branches half way. The larger goes to the stones and forms a winding body, and wonderfully inoculates the lesser branches where it disperses itself, and especially at the higher part of the bottom of the womb, for its nourishment, and that part of the courses may pass through the vessels; and seeing that women’s testicles are situated near the womb, for that cause those vessels do not fall from the peritoneum, nor do they make so much passage as in men, as they do not extend to the share-bone.

The stones of woman, commonly called testicles, do not perform the same function as in men, for they are altogether different in position, size, temperature, substance, form and covering. They are situated in the hollow of the muscles of the loins, so that, by contracting greater heat, they may be more fruitful, their office being to contain the ova or eggs, one of which, being impregnated by the man’s seed engenders the child. They are, however, different from those of the male in shape, because they are smaller and flatter at each end, and not so round or oval; the external superficies is also more unequal, and has the appearance of a number of knobs or kernels mixed together.

There is a difference, also, in the substance, as they are much softer and more pliable, and not nearly so compact. Their size and temperature are also different for they are much colder and smaller than in men, and their covering or enclosure is likewise quite different; for as men’s are wrapped in several covers, because they are very pendulous and would be easily injured unless they were so protected by nature, so women’s stones, being internal and thus less subject to being hurt, are covered by only one membrane, and are likewise half covered by the peritoneum.

The ejaculatory vessels are two small passages, one on either side, which do not differ in any respect from the spermatic veins in substance. They rise in one place from the bottom of the womb, and do not reach from their other extremity either to the stones or to any other part, but are shut up and impassable, and adhere to the womb as the colon does to the blind gut, and winding half way about; and though the testicles are not close to them and do not touch them, yet they are fastened to them by certain membranes which resemble the wing of a bat, through which certain veins and arteries passing from the end of the testicles may be said to have their passages going from the corners of the womb to the testicles, and these ligaments in women are the cremasters [3] in men, of which I shall speak more fully when I come to describe the male parts of generation.



Muscles by which the testicles are drawn up.


A Description of the Use and Action of the several Generative Parts in Women.


The external parts, commonly called the pudenda, are designed to cover the great orifice and to receive the man’s penis or yard in the act of sexual intercourse, and to give passage to the child and to the urine. The use of the wings and knobs, like myrtle berries, is for the security of the internal parts, closing the orifice and neck of the bladder and by their swelling up, to cause titillation and pleasure in those parts, and also to obstruct the involuntary passage of the urine.

The action of the clitoris in women is similar to that of the penis in men, viz., erection; and its lower end is the glans of the penis, and has the same name. And as the glans of man are the seat of the greatest pleasure in copulation, so is this in the woman.

The action and use of the neck on the womb is the same as that of the penis, viz., erection, brought about in different ways: first, in copulation it becomes erect and made straight for the passage of the penis into the womb; secondly, whilst the passage is filled with the vital blood, it becomes narrower for embracing the penis; and the uses of this erection are twofold:—first, because if the neck of the womb were not erected, the man’s yard could find no proper passage to the womb, and, secondly, it hinders any damage or injury that might ensue through the violent striking of the penis during the act of copulation.

The use of the veins that pass through the neck of the womb, is to replenish it with blood and vigour, that so, as the moisture is consumed by the heat engendered by sexual intercourse, it may be renewed by those vessels; but their chief business is to convey nutriment to the womb.

The womb has many properties belonging to it: first, the retention of the impregnated egg, and this is conception, properly so called; secondly, to cherish and nourish it, until Nature has fully formed the child, and brought it to perfection, and then it operates strongly in expelling the child, when the time of its remaining has expired, becoming dilated in an extraordinary manner and so perfectly removed from the senses that they cannot injuriously affect it, retaining within itself a power and strength to eject the foetus, unless it be rendered deficient by any accident; and in such a case remedies must be applied by skilful hands to strengthen it, and enable it to perform its functions; directions for which will be given in the second book.

The use of the preparing vessels is this; the arteries convey the blood to the testicles; some part of it is absorbed in nourishing them, and in the production of these little bladders (which resemble eggs in every particular), through which the vasa preparantia run, and which are absorbed in them; and the function of the veins is to bring back whatever blood remains from the above mentioned use. The vessels of this kind are much shorter in women than in men, because they are nearer to the testicles; this defect is, however, made good by the many intricate windings to which those vessels are subject; for they divide themselves into two branches of different size in the middle and the larger one passes to the testicles.

The stones in women are very useful, for where they are defective, the work of generation is at an end. For though those bladders which are on the outer surface contain no seed, as the followers of Galen and Hippocrates wrongly believed, yet they contain several eggs, generally twenty in each testicle; one of which being impregnated by the animated part of the man’s seed in the act of copulation, descends through the oviducts into the womb, and thus in due course of time becomes a living child.


Of the Organs of Generation in Man.


Having given a description of the organs of generation in women, with the anatomy of the fabric of the womb, I shall now, in order to finish the first part of this treatise, describe the organs of generation in men, and how they are fitted for the use for which Nature intended them.

The instrument of generation in men (commonly called the yard, in Latin, penis, from pendo, to hang, because it hangs outside the belly), is an organic part which consists of skin, tendons, veins, arteries, sinews and great ligaments; and is long and round, and on the upper side flattish, seated under the os pubis, and ordained by Nature partly for the evacuation of urine, and partly for conveying the seed into the womb; for which purpose it is full of small pores, through which the seed passes into it, through thevesicula seminalis, [4] and discharges the urine when they make water; besides the common parts, viz., the two nervous bodies, the septum, the urethra, the glans, four muscles and the vessels. The nervous bodies (so called) are surrounded with a thick white, penetrable membrane, but their inner substance is spongy, and consists chiefly of veins, arteries, and nervous fibres, interwoven like a net. And when the nerves are filled with animal vigour and the arteries with hot, eager blood, the penis becomes distended and erect; also the neck of the vesicula urinalis, [5] but when the influx of blood ceases, and when it is absorbed by the veins, the penis becomes limp and flabby. Below those nervous bodies is the urethra, and whenever they swell, it swells also. The penis has four muscles; two shorter ones springing from the Cox endix and which serve for erection, and on that account they are callederectores; two larger, coming from sphincters ani, which serve to dilate the urethra so as to discharge the semen, and these are called dilatantes, or wideners. At the end of the penis is the glans, covered with a very thin membrane, by means of which, and of its nervous substance, it becomes most extremely sensitive, and is the principal seat of pleasure in copulation. The outer covering of the glans is called the preputium (foreskin), which the Jews cut off in circumcision, and it is fastened by the lower part of it to theglans. The penis is also provided with veins, arteries and nerves.

The testiculi, stones or testicles (so called because they testify one to be a man), turn the blood, which is brought to them by the spermatic arteries into seed. They have two sorts of covering, common and proper; there are two of the common, which enfold both the testes. The outer common coat, consists of the cuticula, or true skin, and is called the scrotum, and hangs from the abdomen like a purse; the inner is the membrana carnosa. There are also two proper coats—the outer called cliotrodes, or virginales; the inner albugidia; in the outer the cremaster is inserted. The epididemes, or prostatae are fixed to the upper part of the testes, and from them spring the vasa deferentia, or ejaculatoria, which deposit the seed into the vesicule seminales when they come near the neck of the bladder. There are two of these vesiculae, each like a bunch of grapes, which emit the seed into the urethra in the act of copulation. Near them are the prostatae, about the size of a walnut, and joined to the neck of the bladder. Medical writers do not agree about the use of them, but most are of the opinion that they produce an oily and sloppy discharge to besmear the urethra so as to defend it against the pungency of the seed and urine. But the vessels which convey the blood to the testes, from which the seed is made, are the arteriae spermaticae and there are two of them also. There are likewise two veins, which carry off the remaining blood, and which are called venae spermaticae.



Seminal vesicle.


Urinary vesicle.


A word of Advice to both Sexes, consisting of several Directions with regard to Copulation.


As Nature has a mutual desire for copulation in every creature, for the increase and propagation of its kind, and more especially in man, the lord of creation and the masterpiece of Nature, in order that such a noble piece of divine workmanship should not perish, something ought to be said concerning it, it being the foundation of everything that we have hitherto been treating of, since without copulation there can be no generation. Seeing, therefore, so much depends upon it, I have thought it necessary, before concluding the first book, to give such directions to both sexes, for the performance of that act, as may appear efficacious to the end for which nature designed it, but it will be done with such caution as not to offend the chastest ear, nor to put the fair sex to the blush when they read it.

In the first place, then, when a married couple from the desire of having children are about to make use of those means that Nature has provided for that purpose, it is well to stimulate the body with generous restoratives, that it may be active and vigorous. And the imagination should be charmed with sweet music, and if all care and thoughts of business be drowned in a glass of rosy wine, so that their spirit may be raised to the highest pitch of ardour, it would be as well, for troubles, cares or sadness are enemies to the pleasures of Venus. And if the woman should conceive when sexual intercourse takes place at such times of disturbance, it would have a bad effect upon the child. But though generous restoratives may be employed for invigorating nature, yet all excess should be carefully avoided, for it will check the briskness of the spirits and make them dull and languid, and as it also interferes with digestion, it must necessarily be an enemy to copulation; for it is food taken moderately and that is well digested, which enables a man to perform the dictates of Nature with vigour and activity, and it is also necessary, that in their mutual embraces they meet each other with equal ardour, for, if not, the woman either will not conceive, or else the child may be weak bodily, or mentally defective. I, therefore, advise them to excite their desires mutually before they begin their conjugal intercourse, and when they have done what nature requires, a man must be careful not to withdraw himself from his wife’s arms too soon, lest some sudden cold should strike into the womb and occasion miscarriage, and so deprive them of the fruits of their labour.

And when the man has withdrawn himself after a suitable time, the woman should quietly go to rest, with all calmness and composure of mind, free from all anxious and disturbing thoughts, or any other mental worry. And she must, as far as possible, avoid turning over from the side on which she was first lying, and also keep from coughing and sneezing, because as it violently shakes the body, it is a great enemy to conception.




Treating of the several Maladies incident to the womb, with proper remedies for the cure of each.


The womb is placed in the hypogastrium, or lower part of the body, in the cavity called the pelvis, having the straight gut on one side to protect it against the hardness of the backbone, and the bladder on the other side to protect it against blows. Its form or shape is like a virile member, with this exception, that the man’s is outside, and the woman’s inside.

It is divided into the neck and body. The neck consists of a hard fleshy substance, much like cartilage, and at the end of it there is a membrane placed transversely, which is called the hymen. Near the neck there is a prominent pinnacle, which is called the door of the womb, because it preserves the matrix from cold and dust. The Greeks called it clitoris, and the Latins praeputium muliebre, because the Roman women abused these parts to satisfy their mutual unlawful lusts, as St. Paul says, Romans 1. 26.

The body of the womb is where the child is conceived, and this is not altogether round, but dilates itself into two angles; the outward part is full of sinews, which are the cause of its movements, but inside it is fleshy. It is wrongly said, that in the cavity of the womb there are seven divided cells or receptacles for the male seed, but anatomists know that there are only two, and also that those two are not divided by a partition, but only by a line or suture running through the middle of it.

At the bottom of the cavity there are little holes called cotyledones, which are the ends of certain veins or arteries, and serve breeding women to convey nourishment to the child, which is received by the umbilical and other veins, to carry the courses to thematrix.

As to menstruation, it is defined as a monthly flow of bad and useless blood, and of the super-abundance of it, for it is an excrement in quality, though it is pure and incorrupt, like the blood in the veins. And that the menstruous blood is pure in itself, and of the same quality as that in the veins, is proved in two ways.—First, from the final object of the blood, which is the propagation and preservation of mankind, that man might be conceived; and that, being begotten, he might be comforted and preserved both in and out of the womb, and all allow that it is true that a child in the matrix is nourished by the blood. And it is true that when it is out of it, it is nourished by the same; for the milk is nothing but the menstruous blood made white in the breast. Secondly, it is proved to be true by the way it is produced, as it is the superfluity of the last aliment of the fleshy parts.

The natural end of man and woman’s being is to propagate. Now, in the act of conception one must be an active agent and the other passive, for if both were similarly constituted, they could not propagate. Man, therefore, is hot and dry, whilst woman is cold and moist: he is the agent, and she the passive or weaker vessel, that she may be subject to the office of the man. It is necessary that woman should be of a cold constitution, because a redundancy of Nature for the infant that depends on her is required of her; for otherwise there would be no surplus of nourishment for the child, but no more than the mother requires, and the infant would weaken the mother, and like as in the viper, the birth of the infant would be the death of the parent.

The monthly purgations continue from the fifteenth to the forty-sixth or fiftieth year; but a suppression often occurs, which is either natural or morbid: the courses are suppressed naturally during pregnancy, and whilst the woman is suckling. The morbid suppression remains to be spoken of.


Of the Retention of the Courses.


The suppression of the menstrual periods, is an interruption of that accustomed evacuation of blood, which comes from the matrix every month, and the part affected is the womb.



The cause of this suppression is either external or internal. The external cause may be heat or dryness of air, want of sleep, too much work, violent exercise, etc., whereby the substance is so consumed, and the body so exhausted that nothing is left over to be got rid of, as is recorded of the Amazons who, being active and constantly in motion, had their courses very little, if at all. Or it may be brought about by cold which is very frequent, as it vitiates and thickens the blood, and binds up the passages, so that it cannot flow out.

The internal cause is either instrumental or material; in the womb or in the blood. In the womb, it may be in various ways; by humours, and abscesses and ulcers, by the narrowness of the veins and passages, or by the adipose membrane in fat bodies, pressing on the neck of the matrix, but then they must have hernia, zirthilis, for in men the membrane does not reach so low; by too much cold or heat, the one vitiating the action, and the other consuming the matter through the wrong formation of the uterine parts; by the neck of the womb being turned aside, and sometimes, though rarely, by a membrane or excrescence of the flesh growing at the mouth or neck of the womb. The blood may be in fault in two ways, in quantity and in quality; in quantity, when it is so consumed that no surplus is left over, as in viragoes or virile women, who, through their heat and natural strength, consume it all in their last nourishment; as Hippocrates writes of Prethusa, for when her husband praised her overmuch, her courses were suppressed, her voice changed and she got a beard with a manly face. But I think, rather that these must be Gynophagi, or woman-eaters, rather than women-breeders, because they consume one of the principles of generation, which gives a being to the world, viz., the menstruous blood. The blood may likewise be lost, and the courses checked by nosebleeding, by bleeding piles, by dysentery, commonly called the bloody flux, by many other discharges, and by chronic diseases. Secondly, the matter may be vitiated in quality, and if it be sanguineous, sluggish, bilious or melancholy, and any of these will cause an obstruction in the veins.



Signs which manifest the disease are pains in the head, neck, back and loins; weariness of the whole body (but especially of the hips and legs, because the womb is near those parts); palpitation of the heart. The following are particular signs:—If the suppression arises from a cold, the woman becomes heavy, sluggish, pale and has a slow pulse; Venus’ combats are neglected, the urine is thick, the blood becomes watery and great in quantity, and the bowels become constipated. If it arises from heat, the signs are just the opposite. If the retention be natural and arises from conception, this may be known by drinking hydromel, i.e., water and honey, after supper, before going to bed, by the effect which it has; for if after taking it, she feels a heating pain about the navel and the lower parts of the abdomen, it is a sign that she has conceived, and that the suppression is natural.



The whole body is affected by any disorder of the womb, and especially the heart, the liver and the brain, and there is a singular sympathy between the womb and those three organs. Firstly, the womb communicates with the heart by the mediation of those arteries which come from the aorta. Hence, when menstruation is suppressed, fainting, swooning, a very low pulse, and shortness of breath will ensue. Secondly, it communicates with the liver by the veins derived from the hollow vein. Obstructions, jaundice, dropsy, induration of the spleen will follow. Thirdly, it communicates with the brain by the nerves and membranes of the back; hence arise epilepsy, madness, fits of melancholy, pains in the back of the head, unaccountable fears and inability to speak. I may, therefore, well agree with Hippocrates that if menstruation be suppressed, many dangerous diseases will follow.



In the cure of this, and of all the other following cases, I shall observe the following order:—The cures will be taken from surgical, pharmaceutical and diuretical means. The suppression has a plethoric effect, and must be removed by the evacuation; therefore we begin with bleeding. In the middle of the menstrual period, open the liver vein, and two days before, open the saphena in both feet; if the repletion is not very great apply cupping glasses to the legs and thighs, although there may be no hope of removing the suppression. As in some women, the cotyledones are so closed up that nothing but copulation will open them, yet it will be well to relieve the woman as much as possible by opening the hemoroid veins by applying a leech. After bleeding let the place be prepared and made flexible with syrup of stychas, calamint, betony, hyssop, mugwort, horehound, fumitary, maidenhair. Bathe the parts with camomiles, pennyroyal, savias, bay-leaves, juniper-berries, rue, marjoram, feverfew. Take a handful each of nep, maidenhair, succory and betony leaves and make a decoction, and take three ounces of it, syrup of maidenhair, mugwort and succory, half an ounce of each. After she comes out of her bath, let her drink it off. Purge with Pill agaric, fleybany, corb, feriae. In this case, Galen recommends pilulae of caberica coloquintida; for, as they are good for purging the bad humours, so also they open the passages of the womb, and strengthen it by their aromatic qualities.

If the stomach be over-loaded, let her take an emetic, yet such a one as may work both ways, lest if it only works upwards, it should check the humours too much. Take two drachms of trochisks of agaric, infuse this in two ounces of oxymel in which dissolve one scruple and a half of electuary dissarum, and half an ounce of benedic laxit. Take this as a purge.

After the humour has been got rid of, proceed to more suitable and stronger remedies. Take a drachm and a half of trochisk of myrrh; ten grains of musk with the juice of smallage; make twelve pills and take six every morning, or after supper, on going to bed. Take half an ounce of cinnamon, two drachms each of smirutium, or rogos, valerin aristolochia; two scruples each of astrumone root and saffron; two drachms of spec. diambia; four scruples of trochisk of myrrh; two scruples tartari vitriolari; make half into a powder; make lozenges with mugwort water and sugar, and take one drachm of them every morning; or mix a drachm of the powder with one drachm of sugar, and take it in white wine. Take two drachms each of prepared steel and spec. hair; one scruple each of borax and spec. of myrrh, with savine juice; make it up into eighty-eight lozenges and take three every other day before dinner. Take one scruple of castor, half a drachm of wild carrot seed with syrup of mugwort, and make four pills, take them in the morning fasting, for three days following, before the usual time of purging. Take five drachms each of agaric, aristolochia, and juice of horehound; six drachma each of rhubarb, spikenard, aniseed, guidanum, asafoetida, mallow-root, gentian, of the three peppers and of liquorice: make an electuary with honey, and take three drachms for a dose. For phlegmatic constitutions nothing can be better than the decoction of guaiacum wood with a little disclaim, taken fasting in the morning, for twelve days consecutively, without producing sweating.

Treat the lower parts of the body to suffumigating, pessaries, ointments and injections; for fumigating use cinnamon, nutmeg, the berries of the bay tree, mugwort, galbanum, molanthium, amber, etc. Make pessaries of figs and the bruised leaves of dog’s mercury, rolled up in lint, and if a stronger one is required, make one of myrrh, opopanax, ammoniac, galbanum, sagepanum, mithridate, agaric, coloquintida, tec. Make injections of a decoction of origane mugwort, dog’s mercury, betony, and eggs; inject into the womb with a female syringe. Take half an ounce each of oil of almonds, lilies, capers, camomiles; two drachms each of laudanum and oil of myrrh; make a salve with wax, with which anoint the place; make injections of fenugreek, camomiles, melilot, dill, marjoram, pennyroyal, feverfew, juniper berries and calamint; but if the suppression arises from a lack of matter, then the courses ought not to be brought on until the spirits be raised and the amount of blood increased; or if it arises from affections of the womb itself, as dropsy or inflammation, then particular care must be used; but I will not lay stress on this here, but will mention the remedies in their order.

If the retention comes from repletion or fullness, if the air be hot and dry, take moderate exercise before meals, and very light diet and drinks, and with your food take garden savory—thyme and origane, if it arises from emptiness and defect of matter: if the weather be moist and moderately hot, avoid exercise and late hours; let your food be nourishing and easy of digestion, such as raw eggs, lamb, chickens, almonds, milk and the like.


Of Excessive Menstruation.


The learned say, that truth is manifested by comparing contraries, and so, as I have above spoken of the suppression of menstruation, it is now necessary that I should treat of excessive menstruation, which is no less dangerous than the former. This immoderate monthly flow is defined as a sanguineous discharge, as it consists merely of blood, wherein it differs from the false courses or whites, of which I shall speak further on. Secondly, it is said to proceed from the womb; for there are two ways in which the blood issues forth; one by the internal veins of the body of the womb (and this is properly called the monthly flow), the other is by those veins which terminate in the neck of the matrix, which Aetius calls haemorrhoids of the womb. In quantity, Hippocrates said, it should be about eighteen ounces, and they should last about three days: and when the faculties of the body are weakened by their flow, we may take it that the discharge is inordinate. In bodies which abound in gross humours, this immoderate flow sometimes unburdens nature of her load and ought not to be checked without a physician’s advice.


The cause is either internal or external. The internal cause is threefold; in the substance, the instrument or the power. The matter, which is the blood, may be vitiated in two ways; first, by the heat of the constitution, climate or season, heating the blood, whereby the passages are dilated, and the power weakened so that it cannot retain the blood. Secondly, by falls, blows, violent motions, rupture of the veins, etc. The external cause may be the heat of the air, heavy burdens, unnatural childbirth, etc.



In this excessive flow the appetite is lessened, conception is checked and all the functions weakened; the feet swell, the colour of the face changes, and the whole body is weakened. If the flow comes from the rupture of a vein, the body is sometimes cold, the blood flows out in streams, suddenly, and causes great pain. If it arises from heat, and the orifice of the vein is dilated, there is little or no pain, but yet the blood flows faster than it does when caused by erosion, but not so fast as it does in a rupture. If caused by erosion, the woman feels a scalding of the passage, and it differs from the other two, in so much as it does not flow so quickly or so freely as they do. If it is caused by weakness of the womb, the woman feels a dislike for sexual intercourse. Lastly, if it proceeds from the defective quality of the blood let some of it drop into a cloth, and when it is dry, you may judge, of the quality by the colour. If it be passionate it will be yellow; if melancholy, it will be black, and if phlegmatic, it will be waterish and whitish.



If convulsions are joined to the flow, it is dangerous, because that intimates that the noble parts are affected, convulsions caused by emptiness are deadly. If they continue long, they will be very difficult to cure, and it was one of the miracles which our Saviour Christ wrought, to cure a woman of this disease of twelve years standing.

To conclude, if the flow be excessive, many diseases will follow, which will be almost impossible to cure; the blood, being consumed together with the innate heat, either morbid, dropsical, or paralytical diseases will follow.



The cure consists in three particulars. First, in expelling and carrying away the blood. Secondly, in connecting and removing the fluxibility of the matter. Thirdly, in incorporating the veins and faculties. For the first, to get rid of the superfluous blood, open a vein in the arm, and draw off as much blood as the strength of the patient will allow; not all at one time, but at intervals, for by those means the spirits are less weakened, and the reaction so much the greater.

Apply cupping glasses to the breasts and also over the liver, and to correct the flexibility of the matter, purgative means, moderated by astringents, may be employed.

If it is caused by erosion, and salt phlegm, prepare with syrup of violets, wormwood, roses, citron peel, succory, etc. Then make the following purge:—mirabolans, half an ounce; trochisks of agaric, one drachm; make a decoction with the plantain-water, and add syrup of roses lax. three ounces, and make a draught.

If caused by any mental excitement, prepare the body by syrup of roses, myrtles, sorrel and parsley, mixed with plantain-water, knot-grass and endive. Then purge with the following draught:—Take one drachm each of the void of mirabolans, and rhubarb, cinnamon fifteen grains; infuse for a night in endive water; add to the strained water half an ounce of pulp of tamarinds and of cassia, and make a draught. If the blood be waterish as it is in dropsical subjects and flows out easily on account of its thinness, it will be a good plan to draw off the water by purging with agaric, elaterium and coloquintida. Sweating is also useful in this case, as by it the noxious matter is carried off, and the motion of the blood to other parts. To produce sweating, employ cardus water, and mithridate, or a decoction of guaiacum and sarsaparilla. Gum guaiacum is also a great producer of perspiration, and sarsaparilla pills, taken every night before going to bed are also highly to be recommended. If the blood pours out, without any evil quality in itself, then strengthening means only should be employed, which is a thing to be done in cases of inordinate discharge.

Take one scruple of ol. ammoniac, one drachm of treacle, half an ounce of conserve of roses and make an electuary with syrup of myrtle, or if the discharge be of long standing take two drachms of matrix, one drachm of olilanum troch. de carbara, a scruple of balustium; make into a powder and form into pills with syrup of quinces, and take one before every meal. Take two scruples each of troch. dechambede, scoriaferri, coral and frankincense; pound these to a fine powder, and make into lozenges with sugar and plantain water. Asses’ dung is also approved of, whether taken inwardly with syrup of quinces or applied outwardly with steeled water. Galen by sending the juice of it into the womb by means of a syringe for four days consecutively, cured this immediate flow, which could not be checked in any other way. Let the patient take one scruple and a half of pilon in water before going to bed; make a fumigation for the womb of mastic, frankincense and burnt frogs, adding the hoof of a mule. Take an ounce each of the juice of knot-grass, comfoly and quinces; a drachm of camphor; dip a piece of silk or cotton into it and apply it to the place. Take half an ounce each of oil of mastic, myrtle, and quinces; a drachm each of fine bole and troch. decardas, and a sufficient quantity of dragon’s blood, make an ointment and apply it before and behind. Take an ounce and a half each of plantain, shepherd’s purse and red rose leaves; an ounce of dried mint, and three ounces of bean flour; boil all these in plantain water and make two plasters:—apply one before and one behind. If the blood flows from those veins which are terminated at the neck of the matrix, then it is not called an undue discharge of the menses, but haemorrhoids of the womb. The same remedy, however, will serve for both, only the instrumental cure will be a little different; for in uterine haemorrhoids, the ends of the veins hang over like teats, which must be removed by cutting, and then the veins closed with aloes, fine bole, burnt alum, myrrh, mastic, with comfoly-juice and knot grass, laid upon it like a plaster.

The air should be cold and dry, and all motion of the body should be prohibited. Her diet should consist of pheasants, partridges, grouse, rabbits, calves’ feet, etc., and her drink should be mixed with the juice of pomegranates and quinces.


Of the Weeping of the Womb.


The weeping of the womb is an unnatural flow of blood, coming from it in drops, like tears, and causing violent pains in it, and occurring at no fixed period or time. By some it is supposed to be produced by the excessive flow of the courses, as they flow copiously and freely; this is continued, though only little at a time, and accompanied by great pain and difficulty of passing it, and on this account it is compared to the strangury.

The cause is in the power, instrument or matter; in the power, on account of its being enfeebled so that it cannot expel the blood, and which, remaining there, makes that part of the womb grow hard, and distends the vessels, and from that, pains in the womb arise. In the instrument, from the narrowness of the passage. Lastly, it may be the matter of the blood which is at fault, and which may be in too great quantities; or the quality may be bad, so that it is thick and gross and cannot flow out as it ought to do, but only in drops. The signs will best be ascertained by the patient’s own account, but there will be pains in the head, stomach and back, with inflammation, difficulty of breathing and excoriation of the matrix. If the patient’s strength will permit it, first open a vein in the arm, rub the upper parts and let a cord be fastened tightly round the arm, so that the force of the blood may be carried backward; then apply such things as may relax the womb, and assuage the heat of the blood, as poultices made of bran, linseed, mallows, dog’s mercury and artiplex. If the blood be viscous and thick, add mugwort, calamint, dictain and betony to it, and let the patient take about the size of a nutmeg of Venic treacle, and syrup of mugwort every morning; make an injection of aloes, dog’s mercury, linseed, groundsel, mugwort, fenugreek, with sweet almond oil.

Sometimes it is caused by wind, and then bleeding must not be had recourse to, but instead take one ounce of syrup of feverfew; half an ounce each of honey, syrup of roses, syrup of stachus; an ounce each of calamint water, mugwort, betony and hyssop, and make a julep. If the pain continues, use this purge:—Take a drachm of spec. Hitrae, half an ounce of diacatholicon, one ounce of syrup of roses and laxative, and make a draught with a decoction of mugwort and the four cordial flowers. If it proceeds from weakness, she must be strengthened, but if from grossness of blood, let the quality of it be altered, as I have shown in the preceding chapter. Lastly, if her bowels are confined, move them by an injection of a decoction of camomiles, betony, feverfew, mallows, linseed, juniper-berries, cumminseed, aniseed, melilot, and add to it half an ounce of diacatholicon; two drachms of hiera piera, an ounce each of honey and oil and a drachm and a half of sol. nitre. The patient must abstain from salt, acid and windy food.


The false Courses, or Whites.


From the womb, not only the menstruous blood proceeds, but many evacuations, which were summed up by the ancients under the title of rhoos gunaikeios, [6] which is the distillation of a variety of corrupt humours through the womb, which flow from the whole body or a part of it, varying both in courses and colour.



The cause is either promiscuously in the whole body, by a cacochymia; or weakness of it, or in some of its parts, as in the liver, which by a weakness of the blood producing powers, cause a production of corrupt blood, which then is reddish. Sometimes, when the fall is sluggish in its action, and does not get rid of those superfluities engendered in the liver, the matter is yellowish. Sometimes it is in the spleen when it does not cleanse the blood of the dregs and rejected particles, and then the matter which flows forth is blackish. It may also come from a cold in the head, or from any other decayed or corrupted member, but if the discharge be white, the cause lies either in the stomach or loins. In the stomach, by some crude substance there, and vitiated by grief, melancholy or some other mental disturbance; for otherwise, if the matter were only crude phlegm and noways corrupt, being taken into the liver it might be converted into the blood; for phlegm in the ventricle is called nourishment half digested; but being corrupt, though sent into the liver it cannot be turned into nutriment, for the second decoction in the stomach cannot correct that which the first corrupted; and therefore the liver sends it to the womb, which can neither digest nor reject it, and so it is voided out with the same colour which it had in the ventricle. The cause may also be in the veins being overheated whereby the spermatical matter flows out because of its thinness. The external causes may be moistness of the air, eating bad food, anger, grief, sloth, too much sleep, costiveness.

The signs are bodily disturbances, shortness of breathing, and foul breath, a distaste for food, swollen eyes and feet, and low spirits; discharges of different colours, as red, black, green, yellow and white from the womb. It differs from the flowing of the courses and from too abundant menstruation, in so far as it keeps no certain period, and is of many colours, all of which spring from blood.

If the flux be phlegmatic, it will last long and be hard to cure, but if sickness or diarrhoea supervene, it carries off the humour and cures the disease. If it is abundant it does not last so long, but it is more dangerous, for it will cause a cleft in the neck of the womb, and sometimes also an excoriation of the matrix; if melancholy, it must be dangerous and obstinate. The flux of the haemorrhoids, however, assists the cure.

If the matter which flows out be reddish, open a vein in the arm; if not, apply ligatures to the arms and shoulders. Galen boasts that he cured the wife of Brutus, who was suffering from this disease, by rubbing the upper part with honey.

If it is caused by the brain, take syrup of betony and marjoram. Give as a purgative Pill. coch. or Agaric; make nasalia of sage, or hyssop juice, betony, flagella, with one drop of oil of Elect. Dianth. Rosat. Diambrae, diamosci dulus, one drachm of each, and make lozenges to be taken every morning and evening. Auri Alexandrina, half a drachm at night on going to bed. If these things have no effect, try suffumigation and plasters, as they are prescribed above.

If it arises from crudities of the stomach or from a cold, disordered liver, take a decoction of lignum sanctum every morning, purge with pill de agaric, de hermadact, de hiera, diacolinthis, foetid-agrigatio; take two drachms of elect. aromet-roses, one scruple each of dried citron peel, nutmeg, long pepper; one drachm of draglanga; half a scruple each of fantalum album, ling, aloes; six ounces of sugar, with mint water: make lozenges of it, and take them before meals. If there be repletion besides the rigidity of the liver, purging by means of an emetic is to be recommended, for which take three drachms of the electuary diasatu. Galen allows diuretical remedies, such as aqua petrofolma.

If the discharge be angry, treat it with syrup of roses, violets, endive and succory; give a purge of mirabolans, manna, rhubarb, and cassia. Take two drachms of rhubarb, one of aniseed, and one scruple and a half of cinnamon; infuse them into six ounces of syrup of prunes, and add one ounce of strained manna, and take it in the morning as required. Take one drachm each of the following drugs: diatonlanton, diacorant, diarthod, abbaris, dyacydomei, four ounces of sugar, and make into lozenges with plantain water. If the gall be sluggish, and does not stir the bowels, give warm injections of a decoction of the four mollifying herbs, with honey of roses and aloes.

If the flow be bilious, treat the patient with syrup of maiden-hair; epithynium, polypody, borage, buglos, fumitary, hart’s tongue and syrups, bisantius, which must be made without vinegar, else it will assist the disease instead of nature, for melancholy is increased by the use of vinegar, and both Hippocrates, Silvius and Avenzoar reject it as injurious for the womb, and therefore not to be used internally in uterine diseases. Pilulae sumariae, pilulae lud. delupina, lazuli diosena and confetio hamec are purges of bile. Take two ounces of pounded prunes, one drachm of senna, a drachm and a half each of epithimium, polypody and fumitary, and an ounce of sour dates, and make a decoction with endive water; take four ounces of it and add three drachms of hamesech and three of manna. Or take a scruple each of pil. indic. foetid, agarici, trochis ati; one scruple of rhubarb pills, six grains of lapis lazuli, make into pills with epithimium, and take them once a week. Take three drachms of elect. loetificans. Galen three drachms, a drachm each of diamargaritum, calimi, diamosci dulus; a drachm of conserve of borage, violets and burglos; one drachm of candied citron peel, seven ounces of sugar, and make into lozenges with rose water.

Lastly let the womb be cleansed of all corrupt matter, and then be strengthened. In order to purify it, make injections of the decoction of betony, feverfew, spikenard, bismust, mercury and sage, and add two ounces each of sugar and sweet almond oil; pessaries may also be made of silk or cotton, softened in the juice of the above mentioned herbs.

You must prepare trochisks, thus, to strengthen the womb. Take one ounce each of mugwort, feverfew, myrrh, amber, mace, storax, ling aloes and red roses, and make lozenges or troches with mucilage of tragacanth; throw one of them on to hot coals and fumigate the womb with red wine, in which mastic, fine bole, malustia and red roots have been decocted; anoint the matrix with oil of quinces and myrtles, and apply a plaster to it, for the womb; and let the woman take diamosdum dulcoaract, and slemoticumevery morning.

A drying diet is recommended as best, because in these cases the body abounds with phlegmatic and crude humours. On this account, Hippocrates advises the patient to go to bed supperless. Her food should consist of partridges, pheasant and grouse, roasted rather than boiled, too much sleep must be prohibited whilst moderate exercise is very advisable.



The female flowing.


The Suffocation of the Mother.


This, which if simply considered, will be found to be merely the cause of an effect, is called in English, “the suffocation of the mother,” not because the womb is strangled, but because by its retraction towards the midriff and stomach, which presses it up, so that the instrumental cause of respiration, the midriff, is suffocated, and acting with the brain, cause the animating faculty, the efficient cause of respiration, also to be interrupted, when the body growing cold, and the action weakened, the woman falls to the ground as if she were dead.

Some women remain longer in those hysterical attacks than others, and Rabbi Moses mentions some who lay in the fit for two days. Rufus writes of one who continued in it for three days and three nights, and revived at the end of the three days. And I will give you an example so that we may take warning by the example of other men. Paroetus mentions a Spanish woman who was suddenly seized with suffocation of the womb, and was thought to be dead. Her friends, for their own satisfaction, sent for a surgeon in order to have her opened, and as soon as he began to make an incision, she began to move, and come to herself again with great cries, to the horror and surprise of all those present.

In order that the living may be distinguished from the dead, old writers prescribe three experiments. The first is, to lay a feather on the mouth, and by its movements you may judge whether the patient be alive or dead; the second is, to place a glass of water on the breast, and if it moves, it betokens life; the third is, to hold a bright, clean, looking-glass to the mouth and nose, and if the glass be dimmed with a little moisture on it, it betokens life. These three experiments are good, but you must not depend upon them too much, for though the feather and the glass do not move, and the looking-glass continues bright and clear, yet it is not a necessary consequence that she is dead. For the movement of the lungs, by which breathing is produced, may be checked, so that she cannot breathe, and yet internal heat may remain, which is not evident by the motion of the breast or lungs, but lies hidden in the heart and arteries.

Examples of this we find in flies and swallows, who seem dead to all outward appearances, breathless and inanimate, and yet they live by that heat which is stored up in the heart and inward arteries. At the approach of summer, however, the internal heat, being restored to the outer parts, they are then brought to life again, out of their sleeping trance.

Those women, therefore, who apparently die suddenly, and from no visible cause, should not be buried until the end of three days, lest the living be buried instead of the dead.



The part affected is the womb, of which there are two motions—natural and symptomatic. The natural motion is, when the womb attracts the male seed, or expels the infant, and the symptomatical motion, of which we are speaking, is a convulsive drawing up of the womb.

The cause is usually in the retention of the seed, or in the suppression of the menses, which causes a repletion of the corrupt humours of the womb, from which a windy refrigeration arises, which produces a convulsion of the ligaments of the womb. And just as it may arise from humidity or repletion, so also, as it is a convulsion, it may be caused by dryness or emptiness. Lastly also, it may arise from abortion or from difficult childbirth.


On the approach of suffocation of the womb the face becomes pale, there is a weakness of the legs, shortness of breathing, frigidity of the whole body, with a spasm in the throat, and then the woman falls down, bereft of sense and motion; the mouth of the womb is closed up, and feels hard when touched with the finger. When the paroxysm or the fit is over, she opens her eyes, and as she feels an oppression of the stomach, she tries to vomit. And lest any one should be deceived into taking one disease for another, I will show how it may be distinguished from those diseases which most resemble it.

It differs from apoplexy, as it comes without the patient crying out; in hysterical fits also the sense of feeling is not altogether destroyed and lost, as it is in apoplexy; and it differs from epilepsy, as the eyes are not distorted, and there is spongy froth from the mouth. That convulsive motion also, which is frequently accompanied by symptoms of suffocation, is not universal, as it is in epilepsy, but there is some convulsion, but that without any violent agitation. In syncope both breathing and the pulse fail, the face grows pale, and the woman faints suddenly; but in hysterical attacks there are usually both breathing and pulse, though these are indistinct; the face is red and she has a forewarning of the approaching fit. It cannot, however, be denied that syncope may accompany this feeling of suffocation. Lastly, it can be distinguished from lethargy by the pulse, which is rapid in the former, but weak in the latter.



In the cure of this affection, two things must be taken care of:—In the first place, nature must be stimulated to expel these hurtful humours which obscure the senses, so that the woman may be brought back from that sleepy fit. Secondly, during the intervals of the attack, proper remedies must be employed, in order to remove the cause.

To stimulate nature, apply cupping-glasses to the hips and navel: apply ligatures to the thighs, rub the extremities with salt, mustard and vinegar, and shout and make a great noise in her ears. Hold asafoetida to the nose, or sacopenium steeped in vinegar; make her sneeze by blowing castor-powder, white pepper and hellebore up her nose; hold burnt feathers, hair, leather, or anything else with a strong, stinking smell under her nose, for bad odours are unpleasant to nature, and the animal spirits so strive against them, that the natural heat is restored by their means. The brain is sometimes so oppressed, that it becomes necessary to burn the outer skin of the head with hot oil, or with a hot iron, and strong injections and suppositories are useful. Take a handful each of sage, calamint, horehound, feverfew, marjoram, betony and hyssop; half an ounce of aniseed; two drachma each of coloquintida, white hellebore and salgem; boil these in two quarts of water till reduced to half; add two ounces of castor oil and two drachms of hiera piera and make an injection of it. Or take two ounces of boiled honey, half a scruple of spurge, four grains of coloquint, two grains of hellebore and drachm of salt; make a suppository. Hippocrates mentions a hysterical woman who could only be relieved of the paroxysms by pouring cold water on her: yet this is a strange cure, and should only be administered in the heat of summer, when the sun is in the tropic of Cancer.

If it be caused by the retention and corruption of the seed, let the mid-wife take oil of lilies, marjoram and bay leaves, and dissolve two grains of civet in them, and the same quantity of musk, and at the moment of the paroxysm let her dip her finger into the mixture and put it into the neck of the womb, and tickle and rub it with it.

When the fit is over, proceed to remove the cause. If it arises from suppression of the menses, look in Chapter XI, p. 102, for the cure. If it arises from the retention of the seed, a good husband will administer the cure, but those who cannot honourably obtain that remedy, must use such means as will dry up and diminish the seed, as diaciminum, diacalaminthes, etc. The seed of the agnus castus is highly valued as a draught, whether taken inwardly, applied outwardly or used as a suffumigation. It was held in high esteem by the Athenian women, for by its means they remained as pure vessels and preserved their chastity, by only strewing it on the bed on which they lay, and hence the name of agnus castus, which was given to it, as denoting its effects. Make an issue on the inside of each leg, four inches below the knee, and then make lozenges of two scruples of agric, half a scruple each of wild carrot seed and ligne aloes; three drachms of washed turpentine, and make a bolus with a conserve of flowers. Eight drachms of castor taken in white wine are very useful in this case, or you may make pills of it with dog’s tooth, and take them on going to bed. Take an ounce of white briony root dried and cut up like carrots, put it into a little wine and place it on the fire, and drink when warm. Take one scruple each of myrrh, castor and asafoetida; four grains each of saffron and rue-seed, and make eight pills and take two every night on going to bed.

Galen, from his own experience, recommends powdered agaric, of which he frequently gave one scruple in white wine. Put a head of bruised garlic on the navel at bed time, and fasten it with a swathing band. Make a girdle for the waist of galbanum, and also a plaster for the stomach, and put civet and musk on one part of it, which must be applied to the navel. Take two drachms each of pulvis benedict, and of troches of agaric, a sufficient quantity of mithridate, and make two pessaries, and that will purge the matrix of wind and phlegm; foment the private parts with salad oil in which some feverfew and camomiles have been boiled. Take a handful of roseleaves and two scruples of cloves, sew them in a little cloth and boil them for ten minutes in malmsey; then apply them, as hot as they can be borne, to the mouth of the womb, but do not let the smell go up her nose. A dry diet must still be adhered to and the moderate use of Venus is advisable. Let her eat aniseed biscuits instead of bread, and roast meat instead of boiled.


Of the Descending or Falling of the Womb.


The descent of the womb is caused by a relaxation of the ligatures, whereby the matrix is carried backward, and in some women it protrudes to the size of an egg, and there are two kinds of this, distinguished by a descending and a precipitation. The descending of the womb is, when it sinks down to the entrance of the private parts, and appears either very little or not at all, to the eye. Its precipitation is when it is turned inside out like a purse, and hangs out between the thighs, like a cupping glass.



This is either external or internal. The external cause is difficult childbirth, violent pulling away, or inexperience in drawing away the child, violent coughing, sneezing, falls, blows, and carrying heavy burdens. The internal cause, is generally the flow of too much moisture into these parts, which hinders the operation of the womb, whereby the ligaments by which the womb is supported are relaxed. The particular cause, however, lies in the retention of the semen, or in the suppression of the monthly courses.



The principal gut and the bladder are often so crushed, that the passage of both evacuations is hindered. If the urine flows out white and thick, and the midriff is interfered with, the loins suffer, the private parts are in pain, and the womb descends to them, or else comes clean out.



If an old woman is thus affected, the cure is very difficult, because it weakens the womb, and therefore, though it may be put back into its proper place, yet it is apt to get displaced again, by a very slight amount of illness. And also with younger women, if this disease is inveterate, and if it is caused by putrefaction of the nerves, it is incurable.


The womb, being placed by nature between the straight gut and the bladder, ought not to be put back again until the powers of both are excited. Now that nature is relieved of her burden, let the woman be laid on her back so that her legs may be higher than her head; let her feet be drawn up towards her private parts, and her knees spread open. Then apply oil of sweet almonds and lilies, or a decoction of mallows, beet, fenugreek and linseed, to the swelling; when the inflammation is reduced, let the midwife rub her hand with oil of mastic, and restore the womb to its proper place. When the matrix is up, the patient’s position must be changed. Her legs must be put out quite straight and laid together, and apply six cupping glasses to her breast and navel. Boil feverfew, mugwort, red rose leaves and comfrey in red wine; make a suffumigation for the matrix, and apply sweet scents to her nose. When she comes out of her bath, give her an ounce of syrup of feverfew with a drachm of dog’s tooth (mithridate). Take three drachms each of laudanum and mastic, and make a plaster for the navel of it, and then make pessaries of asafoetida, saffron, comfrey, and mastic, adding a little castor oil.—Parius in such cases makes his pessaries only of cork, shaped like a small egg; he covered them with wax and mastic dissolved together, and fastening them to a thread, he put them into the womb.

The immediate danger being now removed and the matrix returned to its natural place the remote cause must be got rid of. If she be of full habit of body open a vein, after preparing her with syrup of betony, calamint, hyssop and feverfew. Give a purge, and if the stomach be oppressed with any crude matter relieve it by emetics and by sudorifics of lignum sanctum and sassafras taken twenty days consecutively, which dry up the superfluous moisture, and consequently suppress the cause of the disease.

The air should be hot and dry, and her diet hot and attenuating. Let her abstain from dancing, jumping, sneezing, as well as from all mental and bodily emotions, eat sparingly, not drink much, and be moderate in her sleep.


Of the Inflammation of the Womb.


The phlegmon, or inflammation of the matrix, is a humour which affects the whole womb, and is accompanied by unnatural heat, by obstruction and by an accumulation of corrupt blood.



The cause of this affection is suppression of the courses, fullness of body, the immoderate use of sexual intercourse, frequent handling the genitals, difficult child-birth, violent motions of the body, falls, blows, to which may be added, the use of strong pessaries, whereby the womb is frequently inflamed, cupping glasses, also, fastened to the pubis and hypogastrium, draw the humours of the womb.



The signs are pains in the lower parts of the body and head, humours, sickness, coldness in the knees, throbbing in the neck, palpitation of the heart. Often, also, there is shortness of breath because of the heart which is close to the midriff, and the breasts sympathising with the swollen and painful womb. Besides this, if the front of the matrix be inflamed, the privates suffer, and the urine is suppressed, or only flows with difficulty. If the hinder part be inflamed, the loins and back suffer, and the bowels are very costive; if the right side be inflamed, the right hip suffers, and the right leg is heavy and moves slowly, so that at times she seems almost lame. If, however, the left side of the womb be inflamed, then the left hip suffers and the left leg is weaker than the right. If the neck of the womb is affected, by putting her finger in, the midwife feels that its mouth is contracted and closed up, and that it is hard round it.



In the cure, first of all, let the humours which flow to the womb be expelled. To effect this, after the bowels have been loosened by cooling clysters bleeding will be necessary. Therefore, open a vein in the arm, if she is not with child; the day after strike the saphena in both feet, fasten ligatures and cupping glasses to the arm, and rub the upper part. Purge gently with cassia, rhubarb, senna and myrobalan. Take one drachm of senna, a scruple of aniseed, myrobalan, half an ounce, with a sufficient quantity of barley water. Make a decoction and dissolve syrup of succory in it, and two ounces of rhubarb; pound half an ounce of cassia with a few drops of oil of aniseed and make a draught. At the commencement of the disease, anoint the private parts and loins with oil of roses and quinces: make plasters of plantain, linseed, barley meal, melilot, fenugreek, white of eggs, and if the pain be intense, a little laudanum; foment the genitals with a decoction of poppy-heads, purslace, knot-grass and water-lilies. Make injections of goat’s milk, rose water, clarified whey and honey of roses. When the disease is on a decline, use injections of sage, linseed, mugwort, pennyroyal, horehound, fenugreek, and anoint the lower parts of the stomach with oil of camomiles and violets.

Take four ounces each of lily and mallow roots, a handful of dog’s mercury, a handful and a half each of mugwort, feverfew, camomile flowers and melilot, bruise the herbs and roots, and boil them in a sufficient quantity of milk; then add two ounces each of fresh butter, oil of camomiles and lilies, with a sufficient quantity of bran, make two plasters, and apply one before and the other behind.

If the tumour cannot be removed, but seems inclined to suppurate, take three drachms each of fenugreek, mallow roots, boiled figs, linseed, barley meal, dove’s dung and turpentine; half a drachm of deer’s suet, half a scruple of opium and make a plaster of wax.

Take bay leaves, sage, hyssop, camomiles, and mugwort, and make an infusion in water.

Take half a handful of wormwood and betony and half a pint each of white wine and milk, boil them until reduced to half; then take four ounces of this decoction and make an injection, but you must be careful that the humours are not brought down into the womb. Take three drachms each of roast figs, and bruised dog’s mercury; three drachms each of turpentine and duck’s grease, and two grains of opium; make a pessary with wax.

The room must be kept cool, and all motions of the body, especially of the lower parts, must be prohibited. Wakefulness is to be recommended, for humours are carried inward by sleep, and thus inflammation is increased. Eat sparingly, and drink only barley water or clarified whey, and eat chickens and chicken broth, boiled with endive, succory, sorrel, bugloss and mallows.


Of Scirrhous Tumours, or Hardness of the Womb.


scirrhus, or a hard unnatural swelling of the matrix is generally produced by neglected, or imperfectly cured phlegm, which, insensibly, hinders the functions of the womb, and predisposes the whole body to listlessness.



One cause of this disease may be ascribed to want of judgment on the part of the physician, as many empirics when attending to inflammation of the womb, chill the humour so much that it can neither pass backward nor forward, and hence, the matter being condensed, turns into a hard, stony substance. Other causes may be suppression of the menses, retention of the Lochein, commonly called the after purging; eating decayed meat, as in the disordered longing after the pleia to which pregnant women are often subject. It may, however, also proceed from obstructions and ulcers in the matrix or from some evil affections of the stomach or spleen.

If the bottom of the womb be affected, she feels, as it were, a heavy burden representing a mole, [7] yet differing from it, in that the breasts are attenuated, and the whole body grows less. If the neck of the womb be affected, no outward humours will appear; its mouth is retracted and feels hard to the touch, nor can the woman have sexual intercourse without great pain.



Confirmed scirrhus is incurable, and will turn to cancer or incurable dropsy, and when it ends in cancer it proves fatal, because as the innate heat of these parts is almost smothered, it can hardly be restored again.



Where there is repletion, bleeding is advisable, therefore open a vein in one arm and in both feet, more especially if the menses are suppressed.

Treat the humours with syrup of borage, succory made with a poultice, and then take the following pills, according to the patient’s strength.

Hiera piera six drachms, two and a half drachms each of black hellebore and polypody; a drachm and a half each of agaric, lapis lazuli, sal Indiae, coloquintida, mix them and make two pills. After purging, mollify the hardness as follows:—the privy parts and the neck of the womb with an ointment of decalthea and agrippa; or take two drachms each of opopanax, bdellium, ammoniac and myrrh, and half a drachm of saffron; dissolve the gum in oil of lilies and sweet almond and make an ointment with wax and turpentine. Apply diacatholicon ferellia below the navel, and make infusions of figs, mugwort, mallows, pennyroyal, althea, fennel roots, melilot, fenugreek and the four mollifying herbs, with oil of dill, camomiles and lilies dissolved in it. Take three drachms of gum bdellium, put the stone pyrites on the coals, and let her take the fumes into her womb. Foment the privy parts with a decoction of the roots and leaves of dane wort. Take a drachm each of gum galbanum and opopanax, half an ounce each of juice of dane wort and mucilage of fenugreek, an ounce of calve’s marrow, and a sufficient quantity of wax, and make a pessary. Or make a pessary of lead only, dip it in the above mentioned things, and put it up.

The atmosphere must be kept temperate, and gross and salt meats such as pork, bull beef, fish and old cheese, must be prohibited.



Mole: “A somewhat shapeless, compact fleshy mass occurring in the uterus, due to the retention and continued life of the whole or a part of the foetal envelopes, after the death of the foetus (a maternal or true mole); or being some other body liable to be mistaken for this, or perhaps a polypus or false mole.” (Whitney’s Century Dictionary.)


Of Dropsy of the Womb.


Uterine dropsy is an unnatural swelling, caused by the collection of wind or phlegm in the cavity, membranes or substance of the womb, on account of the want of innate heat and of sufficient alimentation, and so it turns into an excrescence. The causes are, too much cold and moisture of the milt and liver, immoderate drinking, eating insufficiently cooked meat, all of which by causing repletion, overpower the natural heat. It may likewise be caused by undue menstruation, or by any other immoderate evacuation. To these may be added abortions, subcutaneous inflammations and a hardened swelling of the womb.


The signs of this affection are as follows:—The lower parts of the stomach, with the genitals, are swollen and painful; the feet swell, the natural colour of the face is lost, the appetite becomes depraved, and there is a consequent heaviness of the whole body. If the woman turns over in bed a noise like flowing water is heard, and sometimes water is discharged from the womb. If the swelling is caused by wind and the stomach feels hot, it sounds like a drum; the bowels rumble, and the wind escapes through the neck of the womb with a murmuring noise. This affection may be distinguished from true conception in many ways, as will be shown in the chapter on conception. It is distinguished from common dropsy, by the lower parts of the stomach being most swollen. Again, it does not appear so injurious in this blood-producing capability, nor is the urine so pale, nor the face so altered. The upper parts are also not so reduced, as in usual dropsy.



This affection foretells the ruin of the natural functions, by that peculiar sympathy it has with the liver, and that, therefore, kathydria, or general dropsy will follow.


In the cure of this disease, imitate the practice of Hippocrates, and first mitigate the pain with fomentations of melilot, dog’s mercury, mallows, linseed, camomiles and althoea. Then let the womb be prepared with syrup of stoebis, hyssop, calamint, mugwort, with distilled water, a decoction of elder, marjoram, sage, origan, spearage, pennyroyal, and betony. Purge with senna, agaric, rhubarb, and claterium. Take spicierum hier, a scruple each of rhubarb, agaric lozenges, and make into pills with iris juice.

When diseases arise from moistness, purge with pills, and in those affections which are caused by emptiness or dryness, purge by means of a draught. Apply cupping glasses to the stomach and also to the navel, especially if the swelling be flatulent. Put a seton on to the inside of each leg, the width of a hand below the knee. Take two drachms each of sparganium, diambrae, diamolet, diacaliminti, diacinamoni, myrrh lozenges, and a pound of sugar; make these into lozenges with betony water, and take them two hours before meals. Apply a little bag of camomiles, cummin and melilot boiled in oil of rue, to the bottom of the stomach as hot as it can be borne; anoint the stomach and the privates with unguent agripp, and unguent aragon. Mix iris oil with it, and cover the lower part of the stomach with a plaster of bay berries, or a cataplasm made of cummin, camomiles, briony root, adding cows’ and goats’ dung.

Our modern medical writers ascribe great virtues to tobacco-water, injected into the womb by means of a clyster. Take a handful each of balm of southernwood, origanum, wormwood, calamint, bay berries and marjoram, and four drachms of juniper berries; make a decoction of these in water, and use this for fomentations and infusions. Make pessaries of storax, aloes, with the roots of dictam, aristolochia and gentian, but instead of this you may use the pessary prescribed at the end of Chapter XVII. Let her take aromatic electuary, disatyrion and candied eringo roots, every morning.

The air must be hot and dry, moderate exercise is to be taken and too much sleep prohibited. She may eat the flesh of partridges, larks, grouse, hares, rabbits, etc., and let her drink diluted urine.


Of Moles [8] and False Conceptions.


This disease may be defined as an inarticulate shapeless piece of flesh, begotten in the womb as if it were true conception. In this definition we must note two things: (1) because a mole is said to be inarticulate or jointless, and without shape, it differs from monstrosities which are both formata and articulata; (2) it is said to be, as it were a true conception, which makes a difference between a true conception, and a mole, and this difference holds good in three ways. First, in its genus, because a mole cannot be said to be an animal: secondly, in the species, because it has not a human figure and has not the character of a man; thirdly, in the individual, for it has no affinity to the parent, either in the whole body, or in any particular part of it.


There is a great difference of opinion amongst learned writers as to the cause of this affection. Some think, that if the woman’s seed goes into the womb, and not the man’s, that the mole is produced thereby. Others declare that it springs from the menstruous blood, but if these two things were granted, then virgins, by having their courses or through nocturnal pollutions, might be liable to the same things, which none have ever been yet. The true cause of this fleshy mole is due both to the man and from the menstruous blood in the woman both mixing together in the cavity of the womb. Nature finding herself weak there (and yet wishing to propagate her species), labours to bring forth a defective conception rather than nothing and instead of a living creature produces a lump of flesh.



The signs of a mole are these. The menses are suppressed, the appetite becomes depraved, the breasts swell and the stomach becomes inflated and hard. So far the symptoms in a pregnant woman and in one that has a mole are the same, but now this is how they differ. The first sign of difference is in the movements of a mole. It may be felt moving in the womb before the third month, whereas an infant cannot be so felt; yet this motion cannot proceed from any intelligent power in the mole, but from the capabilities of the womb, and of the seminal vigour, distributed through the substance of the mole, for it does not live an animal, but a vegetable life, like a plant. Secondly, in a mole the stomach swells suddenly, but in true conception it is first contracted, and then rises by degrees. Thirdly, if the stomach is pressed with the hand, the mole gives way, and returns to its former position as soon as the hand is removed. But a child in the womb does not move immediately though pressed with the hand, and when the hand is removed it returns slowly or not at all. Lastly, no child continues in the womb more than eleven months, but a mole continues for four or five years, more or less, sometimes according as it is fastened to the matrix; and I have known a mole pass away in four or five months. If, however, it remains until the eleventh month, the woman’s legs grow weak and the whole body wastes away, but the stomach still increases, which makes some women think that they are dropsical, though there is no reason for it, for in dropsy the legs swell and grow big, but in a mole they wither and fall away.


In the school of Hippocrates we are taught that bleeding causes abortion, by taking all the nourishment which should preserve the life of the embryo. In order, therefore, that this faulty conception may be deprived of that nourishing sap by which it lives, open the liver vein and saphena in both feet, apply cupping glasses to the loins and sides of the stomach, and when that has been done, let the uterine parts be first softened, and then the expulsive powers be stimulated to get rid of the burden.

In order to relax the ligatures of the mole, take three handfuls of mallows with their roots, two handfuls each of camomiles, melilot, pellitory of the wall, violet leaves, dog’s mercury, fennel roots, parsley, and one pound each of linseed and fenugreek; boil them in oil and let the patient sit in it up to her navel. When she comes out of her bath, she should anoint her private parts and loins with the following ointment:—”Take one ounce each of oil of camomiles, lilies and sweet almonds: half an ounce each of fresh butter, laudanum and ammoniac, and make an ointment with oil of lilies. Or, instead of this, you may use unguentum agrippae or dialthea. Take a handful of dog’s mercury and althea roots; half a handful of flos brochae ursini; six ounces of linseed and barley meal. Boil all these together in honey and water and make a plaster, and make pessaries of gum galbanum, bdellium, ammoniac, figs, pig’s fat and honey.

After the ligaments of the mole are loosened, let the expulsive powers be stimulated to expel the mole, and for doing this, all those drugs may be used which are adapted to bring on the courses. Take one ounce of myrrh lozenges, half an ounce each of castor, astrolachia, gentian and dittany and make them into a powder, and take one drachm in four ounces of mugwort water. Take calamint, pennyroyal, betony, hyssop, sage, horehound, valerian, madder and savine; make a decoction in water and take three ounces of it, with one and a half ounces of feverfew. Take three scruples each of mugwort, myrrh, gentian and pill. coch.; a drachm each of rue, pennyroyal and opopanax, and the same of asafoetida, cinnamon, juniper-berries and borage, and make into pills with savine juice, to be taken every morning. Make an infusion of hyssop, bay leaves, bay berries, calamint, camomiles, mugwort and savine. Take two scruples each of sacopenium, mugwort, savine, cloves, nutmeg, bay berries; one drachm of galbanum; one scruple each of hiera piera and black hellebore, and make a pessary with turpentine.

But if these medicaments are not procurable, then the mole must be pulled out by means of an instrument called the pes gryphis, [9]which may be done without much danger if it be performed by a skilful surgeon. After she has been delivered of the mole (because the woman will have lost much blood already), let the flow of blood be stopped as soon as possible.

Apply cupping glasses to the shoulders and ligatures to the arms, and if this be not effective, open the liver vein in the arm.

The atmosphere of the room must be kept tolerably dry and warm, and she must be put on a dry diet, to soothe the system; she must, however, drink white wine.



Mole: “A somewhat shapeless, compact fleshy mass occurring in the uterus, due to the retention and continued life of the whole or a part of the foetal envelopes, after the death of the foetus (a maternal or true mole); or being some other body liable to be mistaken for this, or perhaps a polypus or false mole.” (Whitney’s Century Dictionary.)


Griffin’s claw, a peculiar hooked instrument.


Of Conception and its Signs, and How a Woman may know whether it be Male or Female.


Ignorance often makes women the murderesses of the fruit of their own body, for many, having conceived and finding themselves out of order, and not rightly knowing the cause, go to the shop of their own conceit and take whatever they think fit, or else (as the custom is) they send to the doctor for a remedy, and he, not perceiving the cause of their trouble, for nothing can be diagnosed accurately by the urine, prescribes what he thinks best; perhaps some diuretic or cathartic, which destroy the embryo. Therefore Hippocrates says, it is necessary that women should be instructed in the signs of conception, so that the parent as well as the child may be saved from danger. I shall, therefore, lay down some rules, by which every woman may know whether she is pregnant or not, and the signs will be taken from the woman, from her urine, from the child and from experiments.



The first day after conception, she feels a slight quivering and chilliness throughout her body; there is a tickling of the womb and a little pain in the lower parts of her stomach. Ten or twelve days after she feels giddy and her eyes dim and with circles round them; the breasts swell and grow hard, with some pain and pricking in them, whilst the stomach rises and sinks again by degrees, and there is a hardness about the navel. The nipples grow red, the heart beats unusually strongly, the natural appetite abates, and the woman has a craving after strange food. The neck of the womb is contracted, so that it can scarcely be felt when the finger is put in. And the following is an infallible sign; she is alternately in high spirits and melancholy; the monthly courses cease without any apparent cause, the evacuations from the bowels are retained unusually long, by the womb pressing on the large gut, and her desire for sexual intercourse is diminished. The surest sign is taken from the infant, which begins to move in the womb in the third or fourth month, and not in the manner of a mole, mentioned above, from side to side like a stone, but gently, as may be perceived by applying the hand cold upon the stomach.



The best writers affirm that the water of a pregnant woman is white and has little specks in it, like those in a sunbeam, ascending and descending in it, of an opal colour, and when the sediment is disturbed by shaking the urine, it looks like carded wool. In the middle of gestation it turns yellow, then red and lastly black, with a red film. At night on going to bed, let her drink water and honey, and if afterwards she feels a beating pain in her stomach and about the navel, she has conceived. Or let her take the juice of cardius, and if she brings it up again, that is a sign of conception. Throw a clean needle into the woman’s urine, put it into a basin and let it stand all night. If it is covered with red spots in the morning, she has conceived, but if it has turned black and rusty, she has not.



If it is a male, the right breast swells first, the right eye is brighter than the left, the face is high-coloured, because the colour is such as the blood is, and as the male is conceived of purer blood and of more perfect seed than the female, red specks in the urine, and making a sediment, show that a male has been conceived, but if they are white, a female. Put the urine of the woman into a glass bottle, let it stand tightly stoppered for two days, then strain it through a fine cloth, and you will find little animals in it. If they are red, it is a male, but if white, it is a female.

The belly is rounder and lies higher with a boy than with a girl, and the right breast is harder and plumper than the left, and the right nipple redder, and the woman’s colour is clearer than when she has conceived a girl.

To conclude, the most certain sign to give credit to, is the motion of the child, for the male moves in the third month, and the female not until the fourth.


Of Untimely Births.


When the fruit of the womb comes forth before the seventh month (that is, before it comes to maturity), it is said to be abortive; and, in effect, the children prove abortive, that is, do not live, that are born in the eighth month. Why children born in the seventh or ninth month should live, and not those born in the eighth, may seem strange, and yet it is true. The cause of it is ascribed by some to the planet under which the child is born; for every month, from conception to birth, is governed by its own planet, and in the eighth month Saturn predominates, which is dry and cold; and coldness, being an utter enemy to life, destroys the natural constitution of the child. Hippocrates gives a better reason, viz.:—The infant, being every way perfect and complete in the seventh month, wants more air and nourishment than it had before, and because it cannot obtain this, it tries for a passage out. But if it have not sufficient strength to break the membranes and to come out as ordained by nature, it will continue in the womb until the ninth month, so that by that time it may be again strengthened. But if it returns to the attempt in the eighth month and be born, it cannot live, because the day of its birth is either past or is to come. For in the eighth month Avicunus says, it is weak and infirm, and therefore on being brought into the cold air, its vitality must be destroyed.



Untimely births may be caused by cold, for as it causes the fruit of the tree to wither and fall before it is ripe, so it nips the fruit of the womb before it comes to perfection, or makes it abortive;—sometimes by humidity, which weakens its power, so that the fruit cannot be retained until the proper time. It may be caused by dryness or emptiness, which rob the child of its nourishment, or by an alvine discharge, by bleeding or some other evacuation, by inflammation of the womb, and other severe disease. Sometimes it is caused by joy, anger, laughter and especially by fear, for then the heat forsakes the womb, and goes to the heart, and so the cold sinks into the womb, whereby the ligaments are relaxed, and so abortion follows. On this account, Plato recommended that the woman should avoid all temptations to excessive joy and pleasure, as well as all occasions for fear and grief. Abortion may also be caused by the pollution of the air by filthy odours, and especially by the smell of the smouldering wick of a candle, and also by falls, blows, violent exercise, jumping, dancing, etc.



Signs of coming abortion are a falling away of the breast, with a flow of watery milk, pains in the womb, heaviness in the head, unusual weariness in the hips and thighs, and a flowing of the courses. Signs denoting that the fruit is dead in the womb are sunken eyes, pains in the head, frights, paleness of the face and lips, gnawing at the stomach, no movements of the infant; coldness and looseness of the mouth of the womb. The stomach falls down, whilst watery and bloody discharges come from the womb.


Directions for Pregnant Women.


The prevention of untimely births consists in removing the aforementioned causes, which must be effected both before and after conception.

Before conception, if the body be too hot, dry or moist, employ such treatment as to counteract the symptoms; if the blood be vitiated purify it, if plethoric, open the liver vein; if gross, reduce it; if too thin strengthen and nourish it. All the diseases of the womb must be removed as I have shown.

After conception, let the atmosphere be kept temperate, do not sleep too much, avoid late hours, too much bodily exercise, mental excitement, loud noises and bad smells, and sweet smells must also be avoided by those who are hysterical. Refrain from all things that may provoke either urine or menstruation, also salt, sour, and windy food, and keep to a moderate diet.

If the bowels are confined, relieve the stomach with injections made of a decoction of mallows and violets, with sugar and salad oil; or make a broth with borage, buglos, beetroot, and mallows, and add a little manna to it. If, on the other hand, she be troubled with looseness of the bowels, do not check it with medical advice, for all the uterine fluxes have some bad qualities in them, which must be evacuated before the discharge is stopped.

A cough is another thing to which pregnant women are frequently liable, and which causes them to run great danger of miscarrying, by the shock and continual drain upon the vein. To prevent this shave off the hair from the coronal commissures, and apply the following plaster to the place.

Take half an ounce of resin, a drachm of laudanum, a drachm each of citron peel, lignaloes and galbanum, with a sufficient quantity of liquid and dry styrax. Dissolve the gum in vinegar and make a plaster, and at night let her inhale the fumes of these lozenges, thrown upon bright coals. Take also a drachm and a half each of frankincense, styrax powder and red roses: eight drachms of sandrich, a drachm each of mastic, benjamin and amber; make into lozenges with turpentine, and apply a cautery to the nape of the neck. And every night let her take the following pills:—Half an ounce each of hypocistides, terrae sigilatae and fine bole; two drachms each of bistort, alcatia, styrax and calamint, and one drachm of cloves, and make into pills with syrup of myrtles.

In pregnant women, a corrupt matter is generated which, flowing to the ventricle, spoils the appetite and causes sickness. As the stomach is weak, and cannot digest this matter, it sometimes sends it to the bowels which causes a flux of the stomach, which greatly adds to the weakness of the womb. To prevent all these dangers the stomach must be strengthened by the following means:—Take one drachm each of lignaloes and nutmeg; a scruple each of mace, cloves, mastic, laudanum; an ounce of oil of spikenard; two grains of musk, half an ounce each of oil of mastic, quinces and wormwood, and make into an ointment for the stomach, to be applied before meals. Instead of this, however, you may use cerocum stomachile Galeni. Take half an ounce each of conserve of borage, buglos and atthos; two drachms each of confection of hyacinths, candied lemon peel, specierum, diamarg, pulo. de genunis: two scruples each of nutmeg and diambra; two drachma each of peony roots and diacoratum, and make into an electuary with syrup of roses, which she must take twice a day before meals. Another affection which troubles a pregnant woman is swelling of the legs, which happens during the first three months, by the superfluous humours descending from the stomach and liver. To cure this, take two drachms of oil of roses, and one drachm each of salt and vinegar; shake them together until the salt is dissolved, and anoint the legs with it hot, rubbing it well in with the hand. It may be done without danger during the fourth, fifth and sixth months of pregnancy; for a child in the womb is compared to an apple on the tree. For the first three months it is a weak and tender subject, like the apple, to fall away; but afterwards, when the membranes become strengthened, the fruit remains firmly fastened to the womb, and not subject to mischances, and so it remains, until the seventh month, until when it is near the time, the ligaments are again relaxed (like the apple that is almost ripe).

They grow looser every day, until the appointed time for delivery; if, therefore, the body is in real need of purging, the woman may do it without danger in the fourth, fifth or sixth month, but neither before nor after that unless in the case of some violent illness, in which it is possible that both mother and child may perish. Apply plasters and ointments to the loins in order to strengthen the fruit in the womb. Take one drachm each of gum Arabic, galangale, bistort, hypocistid and storax, a drachm and a half each of fine bole, nutmeg, mastic, balaust, dragon’s blood and myrtle berries, and a sufficient quantity of wax and turpentine and make into a plaster. Apply it to the loins in the winter, and remove it every twenty-four hours, lest the loins should become overheated by it. In the interim, anoint the private parts and loins with countess’ balsam but if it be summer time and the loins hot, the following plaster will be more suitable. Take a pound of red roses, two drachms each of mastic and red Sanders, one drachm each of bole ammoniac and red coral, two drachms and a half each of pomegranate seed and prepared coriander seed, two scruples of barberries, one ounce each of oil of mastic and of quinces, and plantain-juice.

Anoint the loins also with sandalwood ointment, and once a week wash them with two parts of rose-water and one of white wine mixed together and warmed at the fire. This will assuage the heat of the loins, get rid of the oil of the plaster from the pores of the skin, and cause the fresh ointment or plaster to penetrate more easily, and to strengthen the womb. Some think that a load-stone laid upon the navel, keeps a woman from abortion. The same thing is also stated of the stone called aetites or eagle-stone, if it is hung round the neck. Samian stone has the same virtue.


Directions for Women when they are taken in Labour, to ensure their safe Delivery, and Directions for Midwives.


Having thus given the necessary directions to pregnant women, how to manage their health during their pregnancy, I will now add what is necessary for them to do, in order that they may be safely delivered.

When the time of birth draws near, the woman must be sure to send for a skilful midwife, and that rather too soon than too late. She must have a pallet bed ready to place it near the fire, so that the midwife and those who are to help her, may be able to pass round it, and give assistance on either side, as may be required. A change of linen must be in readiness, and a small stool to rest her feet against, as she will have more power when her legs are bent, than when they are straight.

When everything is thus ready, and when the woman feels the pains coming on, if the weather be not cold, she should walk about the room, rest on the bed occasionally, waiting for the breaking of the waters, which is a fluid contained in one of the outward membranes, and which flows out thence, when the membrane is broken by the struggles of the child. There is no special time for this discharge, though it generally takes place about two hours before the birth. Movements will also cause the womb to open and dilate, and when lying long in bed will be uncomfortable. If she be very weak she may take some mild cordial to give her strength, if her pain will permit her; and if the labour be tedious, she may be revived with chicken or mutton broth, or she may take a poached egg; but she must be very careful not to eat to excess.

There are many postures in which women are delivered; some sitting in a chair, supported by others, or resting on the bed; some again upon their knees and resting on their arms; but the safest and most commodious way, is in the bed, and then the midwife ought to observe the following rules:—Let her lay the woman upon her back, with her head a little raised by means of a pillow, with similar supports for her loins and buttocks, which latter should also be raised, for if she lies low, she cannot be delivered so easily. Then let her keep her knees and thighs as far apart as she can, her legs bent inward towards each other, and her buttocks, the soles of her feet and her heels being placed upon a small rest, placed for the purpose, so that she may be able to strain the stronger. In case her back should be very weak, a swathing band should be placed under it, the band being doubled four times and about four inches broad. This must be held by two persons who must raise her up a little every time her pains come on, with steady hands and in even time, but if they be not exact in their movements, they had better leave her alone. At the same time two women must hold her shoulders so that she may strain out the foetus more easily; and to facilitate this let one stroke or press the upper part of her stomach gently and by degrees. The woman herself must not be nervous or downhearted, but courageous, and forcing herself by straining and holding her breath.

When delivery is near, the midwife must wait patiently until the child’s head, or some limb, bursts the membranes, for if the midwife through ignorance, or through haste to go to some other woman, as some have done, tears the membrane with her nails, she endangers both the woman and the child; for by lying dry and lacking that slipperiness which should make it easy, it comes forth with severe pains.

When the head appears, the midwife must hold it gently between her hands, and draw the child, whenever the woman’s pains are upon her, but at no other times; slipping her forefingers under its armpits by degrees, and not using a rough hand in drawing it out, lest the tender infant might become deformed by such means. As soon as the child is taken out, which is usually with its face downwards,—it should be laid upon its back, that it may receive external respiration more freely; then cut the navel string about three inches from the body, tying the end which adheres to it with a silk string, as closely as you can; then cover the child’s head and stomach well, allowing nothing to touch its face.

When the child has been thus brought forth, if it be healthy lay it aside, and let the midwife attend to the patient by drawing out the afterbirth; and this she may do by wagging and stirring it up and down, and afterwards drawing it out gently. And if the work be difficult, let the woman hold salt in her hands, close them tightly and breathe hard into them, and by that she will know whether the membranes are broken or not. It may also be known by making her strain or vomit; by putting her fingers down her throat, or by straining or moving her lower parts, but let all be done immediately. If this should fail, let her take a draught of elder water, or the yolk of a new laid egg, and smell a piece of asafoetida, especially if she is troubled with a windy colic. If she happen to take cold, it is a great obstruction to the afterbirth; in such cases the midwife ought to chafe the woman’s stomach gently, so as to break, not only the wind, but also to force the secundine to come down. But if these should prove ineffectual, the midwife must insert her hand into the orifice of the womb and draw it out gently.

Having thus discussed common births, or such as are generally easy, I shall now give directions in cases of extremity.


What ought to be done in cases of extremity, especially in women who, in labour, are attacked by a flux of blood, convulsions and fits of wind.


If the woman’s labour be hard and difficult, greater care must be taken than at other times. And, first of all, the situation of the womb and her position in lying must be across the bed, and she must be held by strong persons to prevent her from slipping down or moving during the surgeon’s operations. Her thighs must be put as far apart as possible, and held so, whilst her head must rest upon a bolster, and her loins be supported in the same manner. After her rump and buttocks have been raised, be careful to cover her stomach, belly and thighs with warm clothes, to keep them from the cold.

When the woman is in this position, let the operator put up his or her hand, if the neck of the womb be dilated, and remove the coagulated blood that obstructs the passage of the birth; and by degrees make way gently, let him remove the infant tenderly, having first anointed his hand with butter or some harmless salve. And if the waters have not come down, they may then be let out without difficulty. Then, if the infant should attempt to come out head foremost, or crosswise, he should turn it gently, to find the feet. Having done this, let him draw out one and fasten it with ribbon and then put it up again, and by degrees find the other, bringing them as close together and as even as possible, and between whiles let the woman breathe, and she should be urged to strain so as to help nature in the birth, that it may be brought forth. And to do this more easily, and that the hold may be surer, wrap a linen cloth round the child’s thighs, taking care to bring it into the hand face downwards.

In case of flux of blood, if the neck of the womb be open, it must be considered whether the infant or the secundine, generally called the afterbirth, comes first, and as the latter happens to do so occasionally, it stops the mouth of the womb and hinders the birth, and endangers both the woman’s and the child’s life. In this case the afterbirth must be removed by a quick turn. They have deceived many people, who, feeling their softness, have supposed that the womb was not dilated, and by that means the woman and child, or at least the latter, have been lost. When the afterbirth has been removed, the child must be sought for and drawn out, as directed above; and if the woman or the child die in such a case, the midwife or the surgeon are blameless because they have used their best endeavours.

If it appears upon examination that the afterbirth comes first, let the woman be delivered as quickly as possible, because a great flow of blood will follow, for the veins are opened, and on this account two things have to be considered.

First:—The manner in which the afterbirth advances, whether it be much or little. If the former, and the head of the child appears first, it may be guided and directed towards the neck of the womb, as in the case of natural birth, but if there appears any difficulty in the delivery, the best way is to look for the feet, and draw it out by them; but if the latter, the afterbirth may be put back with a gentle hand, and the child taken out first. But if the afterbirth has come so far forward that it cannot be put back, and the child follows it closely, then the afterbirth must be removed very carefully, and as quickly as may be, and laid aside without cutting the entrail that is fastened to it; for you may be guided to the infant by it, which must be drawn out by the feet, whether it be alive or dead, as quickly as possible; though this is not to be done except in cases of great necessity, for in other cases the afterbirth ought to come last.

In drawing out a dead child, these directions should be carefully followed by the surgeon, viz.—If the child be found to be dead, its head appearing first, the delivery will be more difficult; for it is an evident sign that the woman’s strength is beginning to fail her, that, as the child is dead and has no natural power, it cannot be assisting in its own delivery in any way. Therefore the most certain and the safest way for the surgeon is, to put up his left hand, sliding it into the neck of the womb, and into the lower part of it towards the feet, as hollow in the palm as he can, and then between the head of the infant and the neck of the womb. Then, having a forceps in the right hand, slip it up above the left hand, between the head of the child and the flat of the hand, fixing it in the bars of the temple near the eye. As these cannot be got at easily in the occipital bone, be careful still to keep the hand in its place, and gently move the head with it, and so with the right hand and the forceps draw the child forward, and urge the woman to exert all her strength, and continue drawing whenever her pains come on. When the head is drawn out, he must immediately slip his hand under the child’s armpits, and take it quite out, and give the woman a piece of toasted white bread, in a quarter of a pint of Hippocras wine.

If the former application fails let the woman take the following potion hot when she is in bed, and remain quiet until she begins to feel it operating.

Take seven blue figs, cut them into pieces and add five grains each of fenugreek, motherwort and rue seed, with six ounces each of water of pennyroyal and motherwort; reduce it to half the quantity by boiling and after straining add one drachm of troches of myrrh and three grains of saffron; sweeten the liquor with loaf sugar, and spice it with cinnamon.—After having rested on this, let her strain again as much as possible, and if she be not successful, make a fumigation of half a drachm each of castor, opopanax, sulphur and asafoetida, pounding them into a powder and wetting the juice of rue, so that the smoke or fumes may go only into the matrix and no further.

If this have not the desired effect, then the following plaster should be applied:—Take an ounce and a half of balganum, two drachms of colocynth, half an ounce each of the juice of motherwort and of rue, and seven ounces of virgin bees’ wax: pound and melt them together, spreading them on a cere-cloth so that they may spread from the navel to the os pubis and extending to the flanks, at the same time making a pessary of wood, enclosing it in a silk bag, and dipping it in a decoction of one drachm each of sound birthwort, savin colocinthis, stavescare and black hellebore, with a small sprig or two of rue.

But if these things have not the desired effect, and the woman’s danger increases, let the surgeon use his instruments to dilate and widen the womb, for which purpose the woman must be placed on a chair, so that she may turn her buttocks as far from its back as possible, at the same time drawing up her legs as close as she can and spreading her thighs open as wide as possible; or if she is very weak it may be better to lay her on the bed with her head downwards, her buttocks raised and both legs drawn up. Then the surgeon may dilate the womb with his speculum matrices and draw out the child and the afterbirth together, if it be possible, and when this is done, the womb must be well washed and anointed, and the woman put back to bed and comforted with spices and cordials. This course must be adopted in the case of dead children and moles, afterbirths and false births, which will not come out of themselves, at the proper time. If the aforementioned instrument will not widen the womb sufficiently, then other instruments, such as the drake’s bill, or long pincers, ought to be used.

If any inflammation, swelling or congealed blood happens to be contracted in the womb under the film of these tumours, either before or after the birth, let the midwife lance it with a penknife or any suitable instrument, and squeeze out the matter, healing it with a pessary dipped in oil of red roses.

If the child happens at any time to be swollen through cold or violence, or has contracted a watery humour, if it is alive, such means must be used as are least injurious to the child or mother; but if it be dead, the humours must be let out by incisions, to facilitate the birth.

If, as often happens, the child is presented feet foremost, with the hands spreading out from the hips, the midwife must in such a case be provided with the necessary ointments to rub and anoint the child with, to help it coming forth, lest it should turn into the womb again, holding both the infant’s arms close to the hips at the same time, that it may come out in this manner; but if it proves too big, the womb must be well anointed. The woman should also take a sneezing powder, to make her strain; the attendant may also stroke her stomach gently to make the birth descend, and to keep it from returning.

It happens occasionally, that the child presenting itself with the feet first, has its arms extended above its head; but the midwife must not receive it so, but put it back into the womb, unless the passage be extraordinarily wide, and then she must anoint both the child and the womb, and it is not safe to draw it out, which must, therefore, be done in this manner.—The woman must lie on her back with her head low and her buttocks raised; and then the midwife must compress the stomach and the womb with a gentle hand, and by that means put the child back, taking care to turn the child’s face towards the mother’s back, raising up its thighs and buttocks towards the navel, so that the birth may be more natural.

If the child happens to come out with one foot, with the arm extended along the side and the other foot turned backwards; then the woman must be immediately put to bed and laid in the above-described position; when the midwife must immediately put back the foot which appears so, and the woman must rock herself from side to side, until she finds that the child has turned, but she must not alter her position nor turn upon her face. After this she may expect her pains and must have great assistance and cordials so as to revive and support her spirits.

At other times it happens that the child lies across in the womb, and falls upon its side; in this case the woman must not be urged in her labour; therefore, the midwife when she finds it so, must use great diligence to reduce it to its right form, or at least to such a form in the womb as may make the delivery possible and most easy by moving the buttocks and guiding the head to the passage; and if she be successful in this, let the woman rock herself to and fro, and wait with patience till it alters its way of lying.

Sometimes the child hastens simply by expanding its legs and arms; in which, as in the former case, the woman must rock herself, but not with violence, until she finds those parts fall to their proper station; or it may be done by a gentle compression of the womb; but if neither of them avail, the midwife must close the legs of the infant with her hand, and if she can get there, do the like by the arms, and so draw it forth; but if it can be reduced of itself to the posture of a proper birth it is better.

If the infant comes forward, both knees forward, and the hands hanging down upon the thighs, then the midwife must put both knees upward, till the feet appear; taking hold of which with her left hand let her keep her right hand on the side of the child, and in that posture endeavour to bring it forth. But if she cannot do this, then also the woman must rock herself until the child is in a more convenient posture for delivery.

Sometimes it happens that the child presses forward with one arm extended on its thighs, and the other raised over its head, and the feet stretched out at length in the womb. In such case, the midwife must not attempt to receive the child in that posture, but must lay the woman on the bed in the manner aforesaid, making a soft and gentle compression on her belly, oblige the child to retire; which if it does not, then must the midwife thrust it back by the shoulder, and bring the arm that was stretched above the head to its right station; for there is most danger in these extremities; and, therefore, the midwife must anoint her hands and the womb of the woman with sweet butter, or a proper pomatum, and thrust her hand as near as she can to the arm of the infant, and bring it to the side. But if this cannot be done, let the woman be laid on the bed to rest a while; in which time, perhaps, the child may be reduced to a better posture; which the midwife finding, she must draw tenderly the arms close to the hips and so receive it.

If an infant come with its buttocks foremost, and almost double, then the midwife must anoint her hand and thrust it up, and gently heaving up the buttocks and back, strive to turn the head to the passage, but not too hastily, lest the infant’s retiring should shape it worse: and therefore, if it cannot be turned with the hand, the woman must rock herself on the bed, taking such comfortable things as may support her spirits, till she perceives the child to turn.

If the child’s neck be bowed, and it comes forward with its shoulders, as it sometimes doth, with the hands and feet stretched upwards, the midwife must gently move the shoulders, that she may direct the head to the passage; and the better to effect it, the woman must rock herself as aforesaid.

These and other like methods are to be observed in case a woman hath twins, or three children at a birth, which sometimes happens: for as the single birth hath but one natural and many unnatural forms, even so it may be in a double and treble birth.

Wherefore, in all such cases the midwife must take care to receive the first which is nearest the passage; but not letting the other go, lest by retiring it should change the form; and when one is born, she must be speedy in bringing forth the other. And this birth, if it be in the natural way, is more easy, because the children are commonly less than those of single birth, and so require a less passage. But if this birth come unnaturally, it is far more dangerous than the other.

In the birth of twins, let the midwife be very careful that the secundine be naturally brought forth, lest the womb, being delivered of its burden, fall, and so the secundine continue longer there than is consistent with the woman’s safety.

But if one of the twins happens to come with the head, and the other with the feet foremost, then let the midwife deliver the natural birth first; and if she cannot turn the other, draw it out in the posture in which it presses forward; but if that with its feet downward be foremost, she may deliver that first, turning the other aside. But in this case the midwife must carefully see that it be not a monstrous birth, instead of twins, a body with two heads, or two bodies joined together, which she may soon know if both the heads come foremost, by putting up her hand between them as high as she can; and then, if she finds they are twins she may gently put one of them aside to make way for the other, taking the first which is most advanced, leaving the other so that it do not change its position. And for the safety of the other child, as soon as it comes forth out of the womb, the midwife must tie the navel-string, as has before been directed, and also bind, with a large, long fillet, that part of the navel which is fastened to the secundine, the more readily to find it.

The second infant being born, let the midwife carefully examine whether there be not two secundines, for sometimes it falls out, that by the shortness of the ligaments it retires back to the prejudice of the woman. Wherefore, lest the womb should close, it is most expedient to hasten them forth with all convenient speed.

If two infants are joined together by the body, as sometimes it monstrously falls out, then, though the head should come foremost, yet it is proper, if possible, to turn them and draw them forth by the feet, observing, when they come to the hips, to draw them out as soon as may be. And here great care ought to be used in anointing and widening the passage. But these sort of births rarely happening, I need to say the less of them, and, therefore, shall show how women should be ordered after delivery.


How child-bearing Women ought to be ordered after Delivery.


If a woman has had very hard labour, it is necessary that she should be wrapped up in a sheep’s skin, taken off before it is cold, applying the fleshy side to her veins and belly, or, for want of this, the skin of a hare or coney, flayed off as soon as killed, may be applied to the same parts, and in so doing, a dilation being made in the birth, and the melancholy blood being expelled in these parts, continue these for an hour or two.

Let the woman afterwards be swathed with fine linen cloth, about a quarter of a yard in breadth, chafing the belly before it is swathed, with oil of St. John’s wort; after that raise up the matrix with a linen cloth, many times folded: then with a linen pillar or quilt, cover the flanks, and place the swathe somewhat above the haunches, winding it pretty stiff, applying at the same time a linen cloth to her nipples; do not immediately use the remedies to keep back the milk, by reason the body, at such a time, is out of frame; for there is neither vein nor artery which does not strongly beat; and remedies to drive back the milk, being of a dissolving nature, it is improper to apply them to the breasts during such disorder, lest by doing so, evil humours be contracted in the breast. Wherefore, twelve hours at least ought to be allowed for the circulation and settlement of the blood, and what was cast on the lungs by the vehement agitation during labour, to retire to its proper receptacles.

Some time after delivery, you may take a restrictive of the yolks of two eggs, and a quarter of a pint of white wine, oil of St. John’s wort, oil of roses, plantain and roses water, of each an ounce, mix them together, fold a linen cloth and apply it to the breast, and the pains of those parts will be greatly eased.

She must by no means sleep directly after delivery; but about four hours after, she may take broth, caudle or such liquid victuals as are nourishing; and if she be disposed to sleep it may be very safely permitted. And this is as much, in the case of a natural birth, as ought immediately to be done.

But in case of an extremity or an unnatural birth, the following rules ought to be observed:—

In the first place, let the-woman keep a temperate diet, by no means overcharging herself after such an extraordinary evacuation, not being ruled by giving credit to unskilful nurses, who admonish them to feed heartily, the better to repair the loss of blood. For that blood is not for the most part pure, but such as has been retained in the vessels or membrane better voided, for the health of the woman, than kept, unless there happen an extraordinary flux of the blood. For if her nourishment be too much, which curding, very often turns to imposthumes.

Therefore, it is requisite, for the first five days especially, that she take moderately panado broth, poached eggs, jelly of chickens or calves’ feet or fresh barley broth; every day increasing the quantity a little.

And if she intend to be a nurse to the child, she may take something more than ordinary, to increase the milk by degrees, which must be of no continuance, but drawn off by the child or otherwise. In this case likewise, observe to let her have coriander or fennel seeds boiled in barley broth; but by all means, for the time specified, let her abstain from meat. If no fever trouble her, she may drink now and then a small quantity of pure white wine or of claret, as also syrup of maidenhead or any other syrup that is of an astringent quality, taken in a little water well boiled.

After the fear of fever or contraction of humour in the breast is over, she may be nourished more plentifully with the broth of capons, pullets, pigeons, mutton, veal, etc., which must not be until after eight days from the time of delivery; at which time the womb, unless some accident binds, has purged itself. It will then likewise be expedient to give cold meats, but let it be sparingly, so that she may the better gather strength. And let her, during the time, rest quietly and free from disturbance, not sleeping in the day time, if she can avoid it.

Take of both mallows and pellitory of the wall a handful; camomile and melilot flowers, of each a handful; aniseed and fennel of each two ounces; boil them in a decoction of sheep’s head and take of this three quarts, dissolving in it common honey, coarse sugar and fresh butter and administer it clysterwise; but if it does not penetrate well take an ounce of catholicon.


Acute Pains after Delivery.


These pains frequently afflict the woman no less than the pain of her labour, and are, by the more ignorant, many times taken the one for the other; and sometimes they happen both at the same instant; which is occasioned by a raw, crude and watery matter in the stomach, contracted through ill digestion; and while such pains continue, the woman’s travail is retarded.

Therefore, to expel fits of the cholic, take two ounces of oil of sweet almonds, and an ounce of cinnamon water, with three or four drops of syrup of ginger; then let the woman drink it off.

If this does not abate the pain, make a clyster of camomile, balm-leaves, oil of olives and new milk, boiling the former in the latter. Administer it as is usual in such cases. And then, fomentation proper for dispelling the wind will not be amiss.

If the pain produces a griping in the guts after delivery, then take of the root of great comfrey, one drachm, nutmeg and peach kernels, of each two scruples, yellow amber, eight drachms, ambergris, one scruple; bruise them together, and give them to the woman as she is laid down, in two or three spoonfuls of white wine; but if she be feverish, then let it be in as much warm broth.



For the Apoplexy.

Take man’s skull prepared, and powder of male peony, of each an ounce and a half, contrayerva, bastard dittany, angelica, zedvary, of each two drachms, mix and make a powder, add thereto two ounces of candied orange and lemon peel, beat all together to a powder, whereof you may take half a drachm or a drachm.

A Powder for the Epilepsy or Falling Sickness.

Take of opopanax, crude antimony, castor, dragon’s blood, peony seeds, of each an equal quantity; make a subtle powder; the dose, half a drachm of black cherry water. Before you take it, the stomach must be prepared with some proper vomit, as that of Mynficht’s emetic tartar, from four grains to six; if for children, salts of vitrol, from a scruple to half a drachm.

For a Headache of Long Standing.

Take the juice or powder in distilled water of hog lice and continue it.

For Spitting of Blood.

Take conserve of comfrey and of hips, of each an ounce and a half; conserve of red roses, three ounces; dragon’s blood, a drachm; spices of hyacinths, two scruples; red coral, a drachm; mix and with syrup of poppies make a soft electuary. Take the quantity of a walnut, night and morning.

For a Looseness.

Take Venice treacle and diascordium, of each half a drachm, in warm ale or water gruel, or what you like best, at night, going to bed.

For the Bloody Flux.

First take a drachm of powder of rhubarb in a sufficient quantity of conserve of red roses, in the morning early; then at night, take of tornified or roasted rhubarb, half a drachm; diascordium, a drachm and a half; liquid laudanum cyclomated, a scruple: mix and make into a bolus.

For an Inflammation of the Lungs.

Take of cherious water, ten ounces; water of red poppies, three ounces; syrup of poppies, an ounce; pearl prepared, a drachm; make julep, and take six spoonfuls every fourth hour.

An Ointment for the Pleurisy.

Take oil of violets or sweet almonds, an ounce of each, with wax and a little saffron, make an ointment, warm it and bathe it upon the parts affected.

An Ointment for the Itch.

Take sulphur vive in powder, half an ounce, oil of tartar per deliquim, a sufficient quantity, ointment of roses, four ounces; make a liniment, to which add a scruple of rhodium to aromatize, and rub the parts affected with it.

For Running Scab.

Take two pounds of tar, incorporate it into a thick mass with well-sifted ashes; boil the mass in fountain-water, adding leaves of ground-ivy, white horehound, fumitory roots, sharp-pointed dock and of flocan pan, of each four handfuls; make a bath to be used with care of taking cold.

For Worms in Children.

Take wormseed, half a drachm, flour of sulphur, a drachm; mix and make a powder. Give as much as will lie on a silver threepence, night and morning, in grocer’s treacle or honey, or to grown up people, you may add a sufficient quantity of aloe rosatum and so make them up into pills; three or four may be taken every morning.

For Fevers in Children.

Take crab-eyes, a drachm, cream of tartar, half a drachm; white sugar-candy finely powdered, weight of both; mix all well together and give as much as will lie on a silver threepence, in a spoonful of barley-water or sack whey.

A Quieting Night-Draught, when the Cough is Violent.

Take water of green wheat, six ounces, syrup diascordium, three ounces, take two or three spoonfuls going to bed every night or every other night.

An Electuary for the Dropsy.

Take best rhubarb, one drachm, gum lac, prepared, two drachms, zyloaloes, cinnamon, long birthwort, half an ounce each, best English saffron, half a scruple; with syrup of chicory and rhubarb make an electuary. Take the quantity of a nutmeg or small walnut every morning fasting.

For a Tympany Dropsy.

Take roots of chervil and candied eringo roots, half an ounce of each, roots of butcher-broom, two ounces, grass-roots, three ounces, shavings of ivory and hartshorn, two drachms and a half each; boil them in two or three pounds of spring water. Whilst the strained liquor is hot, pour it upon the leaves of watercresses and goose-grass bruised, of each a handful, adding a pint of Rhenish wine. Make a close infusion for two hours, then strain out the liquor again, and add to it three ounces of magirtral water and earth worms and an ounce and a half of the syrup of the five opening roots. Make an apozen, whereof take four ounces twice a day.

For an Inward Bleeding.

Take leaves of plantain and stinging nettles, of each three handfuls, bruise them well and pour on them six ounces of plantain water, afterwards make a strong expression and drink the whole off. Probatum est.


Worthy of Notice.



A red man to be faithful, a tall man to be wise, a fat man to be swift of foot, a lean man to be a fool, a handsome man not to be proud, a poor man not to be envious, a knave to be no liar, an upright man not too bold and hearty to his own loss, one that drawls when he speaks not to be crafty and circumventing, one that winks on another with his eyes not to be false and deceitful, a sailor and hangman to be pitiful, a poor man to build churches, a quack doctor to have a good conscience, a bailiff not to be a merciless villain, an hostess not to over-reckon you, and an usurer to be charitable——


Ye have found a prodigy.

Men acting contrary to the common course of nature.





I have given this Part the title of The Experienced Midwife, because it is chiefly designed for those who profess Midwifery, and contains whatever is necessary for them to know in the practice thereof; and also, because it is the result of many years’ experience, and that in the most difficult cases, and is, therefore, the more to be depended upon.

A midwife is the most necessary and honourable office, being indeed a helper of nature; which therefore makes it necessary for her to be well acquainted with all the operations of nature in the work of generation, and instruments with which she works. For she that knows not the operations of nature, nor with what tool she works, must needs be at a loss how to assist therein. And seeing the instruments of operation, both in men and women, are those things by which mankind is produced, it is very necessary that all midwives should be well acquainted with them, that they may better understand their business, and assist nature, as there shall be occasion.

The first thing then necessary as introductory to this treatise, is an anatomical description of the several parts of generation both in men and women; but as in the former part of this work I have treated at large upon these subjects, being desirous to avoid tautology, I shall not here repeat anything of what was then said, but refer the reader thereto, as a necessary introduction to what follows. And though I shall be necessitated to speak plainly so that I may be understood, yet I shall do it with that modesty that none shall have need to blush unless it be from something in themselves, rather than from what they shall find here; having the motto of the royal garter for my defence, which is:—”Honi soit qui mal y pense,”—”Evil be to him that evil thinks.”




SECTION I.—Of the Womb.

In this chapter I am to treat of the womb, which the Latins call matrix. Its parts are two; the mouth of the womb and the bottom of it. The mouth is an orifice at the entrance into it, which may be dilated and shut together like a purse; for though in the act of copulation it is big enough to receive the glans of the yard, yet after conception, it is so close and shut, that it will not admit the point of a bodkin to enter; and yet again, at the time of a woman’s delivery, it is opened to such an extraordinary degree, that the child passeth through it into the world; at which time this orifice wholly disappears, and the womb seems to have but one great cavity from the bottom to the entrance of the neck. When a woman is not with child, it is a little oblong, and of substance very thick and close; but when she is with child it is shortened, and its thickness diminished proportionably to its distension; and therefore it is a mistake of anatomists who affirm, that its substance waxeth thicker a little before a woman’s labour; for any one’s reason will inform him, that the more distended it is, the thinner it must be; and the nearer a woman is to the time of her delivery the shorter her womb must be extended. As to the action by which this inward orifice of the womb is opened and shut, it is purely natural; for were it otherwise, there could not be so many bastards begotten as there are, nor would any married women have so many children. Were it in their own power they would hinder conception, though they would be willing enough to use copulation; for nature has attended that action with so pleasing and delightful sensations, that they are willing to indulge themselves in the use thereof notwithstanding the pains they afterwards endure, and the hazard of their lives that often follows it. And this comes to pass, not so much from an inordinate lust in woman, as that the great Director of Nature, for the increase and multiplication of mankind, and even all other species in the elementary world, hath placed such a magnetic virtue in the womb, that it draws the seed to it, as the loadstone draws iron.

The Author of Nature has placed the womb in the belly, that the heat might always be maintained by the warmth of the parts surrounding it; it is, therefore, seated in the middle of the hypogastrium (or lower parts of the belly between the bladder and the belly, or right gut) by which also it is defended from any hurt through the hardness of the bones, and it is placed in the lower part of the belly for the convenience of copulation, and of a birth being thrust out at full time.

It is of a figure almost round, inclining somewhat to an oblong, in part resembling a pear; for being broad at the bottom, it gradually terminates in the point of the orifice which is narrow.

The length, breadth and thickness of the womb differ according to the age and disposition of the body. For in virgins not ripe it is very small in all its dimensions, but in women whose terms flow in great quantities, and such as frequently use copulation, it is much larger, and if they have had children, it is larger in them than in such as have had none; but in women of a good stature and well shaped, it is (as I have said before), from the entry of the privy parts to the bottom of the womb usually about eight inches; but the length of the body of the womb alone, does not exceed three; the breadth thereof is near about the same, and of the thickness of the little finger, when the womb is not pregnant, but when the woman is with child, it becomes of a prodigious greatness, and the nearer she is to delivery, the more the womb is extended.

It is not without reason then, that nature (or the God of Nature) has made the womb of a membranous substance; for thereby it does the easier open to conceive, is gradually dilated by the growth of the foetus or young one, and is afterwards contracted or closed again, to thrust forth both it and the after-burden, and then to retire to its primitive seat. Hence also it is enabled to expel any noxious humours, which may sometimes happen to be contained within it.

Before I have done with the womb, which is the field of generation, and ought, therefore, to be the more particularly taken care of (for as the seeds of plants can produce no plants, nor sprig unless grown in ground proper to excite and awaken their vegetative virtue so likewise the seed of man, though potentially containing all the parts of the child, would never produce so admissible an effect, if it were not cast into that fruitful field of nature, the womb) I shall proceed to a more particular description of its parts, and the uses for which nature has designed them.

The womb, then, is composed of various similar parts, that is of membranes, veins, arteries and nerves. Its membranes are two and they compose the principal parts of the body, the outermost of which ariseth from the peritoneum or caul, and is very thin, without it is smooth, but within equal, that it may the better cleave to the womb, as it is fleshier and thicker than anything else we meet with within the body, when the woman is not pregnant, and is interwoven with all sorts of fibres or small strings that it may the better suffer the extension of the child, and the water caused during pregnancy, and also that it may the easier close again after delivery.

The veins and arteries proceed both from the hypogastric and the spermatic vessels, of which I shall speak by and by; all these are inserted and terminated in the proper membranes of the womb. The arteries supply it with food and nourishment, which being brought together in too great a quantity, sweats through the substance of it, and distils as it were a dew at the bottom of the cavity; from thence proceed the terms in ripe virgins, and the blood which nourisheth the embryo in breeding women. The branches which issue from the spermatic vessels, are inserted on each side of the bottom of the womb, and are much less than those which proceed from the hypogastrics, those being greater and bedewing the whole substance of it. There are some other small vessels, which arising the one from the other are conducted to the internal orifice, and by these, those that are pregnant purge away the superfluity of the terms when they happen to have more than is used in the nourishment of the infant: by which means nature has taken so much care of the womb, that during pregnancy it shall not be obliged to open itself for passing away those excrementitious humours, which, should it be forced to do, might often endanger abortion.

As touching the nerves, they proceed from the brain, which furnishes all the inner parts of the lower belly in them, which is the true reason it hath so great a sympathy with the stomach, which is likewise very considerably furnished from the same part; so that the womb cannot be afflicted with any pain, but that the stomach is immediately sensible thereof, which is the cause of those loathings or frequent vomitings which happen to it.

But beside all these parts which compose the womb, it has yet four ligaments, whose office it is, to keep it firm in its place, and prevent its constant agitation, by the continual motion of the intestines which surround it, two of which are above and two below. Those above are called the broad ligaments, because of their broad and membranous figure, and are nothing else but the production of the peritoneum which growing out of the sides of the loins towards the veins come to be inserted in the sides of the bottom of the womb, to hinder the body from bearing too much on the neck, and so from suffering a precipitation as will sometimes happen when the ligaments are too much relaxed; and do also contain the testicles, and as well, safely conduct the different vessels, as the ejaculatories, to the womb. The lowermost are called round ligaments, taking their origin from the side of the womb near the horn, from whence they pass the groin, together with the production of the peritoneum, which accompanies them through the rings of the oblique and transverse muscles of the belly, by which they divide themselves into many little branches resembling the foot of a goose, of which some are inserted into the os pubis, the rest are lost and confounded with the membranes which women and children feel in their thighs. These two ligaments are long, round and nervous, and pretty big in their beginning near the matrix, hollow in their rise, and all along the os pubis, where they are a little smaller and become flat, the better to be inserted in the manner aforesaid. It is by their means the womb is hindered from rising too high. Now, although the womb is held in its natural situation by means of these four ligaments, it has liberty enough to extend itself when pregnant, because they are very loose, and so easily yield to its distension. But besides these ligaments, which keep the womb, as it were, in a poise, yet it is fastened for greater security by its neck, both to the bladder and rectum, between which it is situated. Whence it comes to pass, that if at any time the womb be inflamed, it communicates the inflammation to the neighbouring part.

Its use or proper action in the work of generation, is to receive and retain the seed, and deduce from it power and action by its heat, for the generation of the infant; and it is, therefore, absolutely necessary for the conservation of the species. It also seems by accident to receive and expel the impurities of the whole body, as when women have abundance of whites, and to purge away, from time to time, the superfluity of the blood, as when a woman is not with child.


SECT. II.—Of the difference between the ancient and modern Physicians, touching the woman’s contributing seed for the Formation of the Child.

Our modern anatomists and physicians are of different sentiments from the ancients touching the woman’s contributing seed for the formation of the child, as well as the man; the ancients strongly affirming it, but our modern authors being generally of another judgment. I will not make myself a party to this controversy, but set down impartially, yet briefly, the arguments on each side, and leave the judicious reader to judge for himself.

Though it is apparent, say the ancients, that the seed of man is the principal efficient and beginning of action, motion and generation, yet the woman affords seed, and contributes to the procreation of the child, it is evident from hence, that the woman had seminal vessels, which had been given her in vain if she wanted seminal excretions; but since nature forms nothing in vain, it must be granted that they were formed for the use of the seed and procreation, and fixed in their proper places, to operate and contribute virtue and efficiency to the seed; and this, say they, is further proved from hence, that if women at years of maturity use not copulation to eject their seed, they often fall into strange diseases, as appears by young women and virgins, and also it appears that, women are never better pleased than when they are often satisfied this way, which argues, that the pleasure and delight, say they, is double in women to what it is in men, for as the delight of men in copulation consists chiefly in the emission of the seed, so women are delighted, both in the emission of their own and the reception of the man’s.

But against this, all our modern authors affirm that the ancients are very erroneous, inasmuch as the testicles in women do not afford seed, but are two eggs, like those of a fowl or other creatures; neither have they any such offices as in men, but are indeed an ovarium, or receptacle for eggs, wherein these eggs are nourished, by the sanguinary vessels dispersed through them; and from hence one or more, as they are fecundated by the man’s seed, are conveyed into the womb by the oviducts. And the truth of this, say they, is so plain, that if you boil them, the liquor shall have the same taste, colour and consistency with the taste of bird’s eggs. And if it be objected that they have no shells, the answer is easy; for the eggs of fowls while they are in the ovary, nay, after they have fallen into the uterus, have no shell: and though they have one when they are laid, yet it is no more than a fence which nature has provided for them against outward injuries, they being hatched without the body, but those of women being hatched within the body have no need of any other fence than the womb to secure them.

They also further say, that there are in the generation of the foetus, or young ones, two principles, active and passive; the active is the man’s seed elaborated in the testicles out of the arterial blood and animal spirits; the passive principle is the ovum or egg, impregnated by the man’s seed; for to say that women have true seed, say they, is erroneous. But the manner of conception is this; the most spirituous part of the man’s seed, in the act of copulation, reaching up to the ovarium or testicles of the woman (which contains divers eggs, sometimes fewer) impregnates one of them; which, being conveyed by the oviducts to the bottom of the womb, presently begins to swell bigger and bigger, and drinks in the moisture that is so plentifully sent hither, after the same manner that the seed in the ground suck the fertile moisture thereof, to make them sprout.

But, notwithstanding what is here urged by modern anatomists, there are some late writers of the opinion of the ancients, viz., that women both have, and emit seed in the act of copulation; and even women themselves take it ill to be thought merely passive in the act wherein they make such vigorous exertions; and positively affirm, that they are sensible of the emission of their seed in that action, and that in it a great part of the delight which they take in that act, consists. I shall not, therefore, go about to take away any of their happiness from them, but leave them in possession of their imaginary felicity.

Having thus laid the foundation of this work, I will now proceed to speak of conception, and of those things which are necessary to be observed by women from the time of their conception, to the time of their delivery.


Of Conception; what it is; how women are to order themselves after Conception.


SECTION I.—What Conception is, and the qualifications requisite thereto.

Conception is nothing but an action of the womb, by which the prolific seed is received and retained, that an infant may be engendered and formed out of it. There are two sorts of conception: the one according to nature, which is followed by the generation of the infant in the womb; the other false and wholly against nature, in which the seed changes into water, and produces only false conceptions, moles, or other strange matter. Now, there are three things principally necessary in order to a true conception, so that generation may follow, viz., without diversity of sex there can be no conception; for, though some will have a woman to be an animal that can engender of herself, it is a great mistake; there can be no conception without a man discharge his seed into the womb. What they allege of pullets laying eggs without a cock’s treading them is nothing to the purpose, for those eggs should they be set under a hen, will never become chickens because they never received any prolific virtue from the male, which is absolutely necessary to this purpose, and is sufficient to convince us, that diversity of the sex is necessary even to those animals, as well as to the generation of man. But diversity of sex, though it be necessary to conception, yet it will not do alone; there must also be a congression of the different sexes; for diversity of sex would profit little if copulation did not follow. I confess I have heard of subtle women, who, to cover their sin and shame, have endeavoured to persuade some peasants that they were never touched by man to get them with child; and that one in particular pretended to conceive by going into a bath where a man had washed himself a little before and spent his seed in it, which was drawn and sucked into her womb, as she pretended. But such stories as these are only for such who know no better. Now that these different sexes should be obliged to come to the touch, which we call copulation or coition, besides the natural desire of begetting their like, which stirs up men and women to it, the parts appointed for generation are endowed by nature with a delightful and mutual itch, which begets in them a desire to the action; without which, it would not be very easy for a man, born for the contemplation of divine mysteries, to join himself, by the way of coition, to a woman, in regard to the uncleanness of the part and the action. And, on the other side, if the woman did but think of those pains and inconveniences to which they are subject by their great bellies, and those hazards of life itself, besides the unavoidable pains that attend their delivery, it is reasonable to believe they would be affrighted from it. But neither sex makes these reflections till after the action is over, considering nothing beforehand but the pleasure of the enjoyment, so that it is from this voluptuous itch that nature obliges both sexes to this congression. Upon which the third thing followeth of course, viz., the emission of seed into the womb in the act of copulation. For the woman having received this prolific seed into her womb, and retained it there, the womb thereupon becomes depressed, and embraces the seed so closely, that being closed the point of a needle cannot enter into it without violence. And now the woman may be said to have conceived, having reduced by her heat from power into action, the several faculties which are contained in the seed, making use of the spirits with which the seed abounds, and which are the instruments which begin to trace out the first lineaments of the parts, and which afterwards, by making use of the menstruous blood flowing to it, give it, in time, growth and final perfection. And thus much shall suffice to explain what conception is. I shall next proceed to show


SECT. II.—How a Woman ought to order herself after Conception.

My design in this treatise being brevity, I shall bring forward a little of what the learned have said of the causes of twins, and whetherthere be any such things as superfoetations, or a second conception in a woman (which is yet common enough), and as to twins, I shall have occasion to speak of them when I come to show you how the midwife ought to proceed in the delivery of the women that are pregnant with them. But having already spoken of conception, I think it now necessary to show how such as have conceived ought to order themselves during their pregnancy, that they may avoid those inconveniences, which often endanger the life of the child and many times their own.

A woman, after conception, during the time of her being with child, ought to be looked upon as indisposed or sick, though in good health; for child bearing is a kind of nine months’ sickness, being all that time in expectation of many inconveniences which such a condition usually causes to those that are not well governed during that time; and therefore, ought to resemble a good pilot, who, when sailing on a rough sea and full of rocks, avoids and shuns the danger, if he steers with prudence, but if not, it is a thousand to one but he suffers shipwreck. In like manner, a woman with child is often in danger of miscarrying and losing her life, if she is not very careful to prevent those accidents to which she is subject all the time of her pregnancy. All which time her care must be double, first of herself, and secondly of the child she goes with for otherwise, a single error may produce a double mischief; for if she receives a prejudice, the child also suffers with her. Let a woman, therefore, after conception, observe a good diet, suitable to her temperament, custom, condition and quality; and if she can, let the air where she ordinarily dwells be clear and well tempered, and free from extremes, either of heat or cold; for being too hot, it dissipateth the spirits too much and causes many weaknesses; and by being too cold and foggy, it may bring down rheums and distillations on the lungs, and so cause her to cough, which, by its impetuous motion, forcing downwards, may make her miscarry. She ought alway to avoid all nauseous and ill smells; for sometimes the stench of a candle, not well put out, may cause her to come before time; and I have known the smell of charcoal to have the same effect. Let her also avoid smelling of rue, mint, pennyroyal, castor, brimstone, etc.

But, with respect to their diet, women with child have generally so great loathings and so many different longings, that it is very difficult to prescribe an exact diet for them. Only this I think advisable, that they may use those meats and drinks which are to them most desirable, though, perhaps, not in themselves so wholesome as some others, and, it may be not so pleasant; but this liberty must be made use of with this caution, that what they desire be not in itself unwholesome; and also that in everything they take care of excess. But, if a child-bearing woman finds herself not troubled with such longings as we have spoken of, let her take simple food, and in such quantity as may be sufficient for herself and the child, which her appetite may in a great measure regulate; for it is alike hurtful to her to fast too long as to eat too much; and therefore, rather let her eat a little and often; especially let her avoid eating too much at night, because the stomach being too much filled, compresseth the diaphragm, and thereby causeth difficulty of breathing. Let her meat be easy of digestion, such as the tenderest parts of beef, mutton, veal, fowls, pullets, capons, pigeons and partridges, either boiled or roasted, as she likes best, new laid eggs are also very good for her; and let her put into her broth those herbs that purify it, as sorrel, lettuce, succory and borage; for they will purge and purify the blood. Let her avoid whatever is hot seasoned, especially pies and baked meats, which being of hot digestion, overcharge the stomach. If she desire fish let it be fresh, and such as is taken out of rivers and running streams. Let her eat quinces and marmalade, to strengthen her child: for which purpose sweet almonds, honey, sweet apples, and full ripe grapes, are also good. Let her abstain from all salt, sour, bitter and salt things, and all things that tend to provoke the terms—such as garlic, onions, mustard, fennel, pepper and all spices except cinnamon, which in the last three months is good for her. If at first her diet be sparing, as she increases in bigness, let her diet be increased, for she ought to consider that she has a child as well as herself to nourish. Let her be moderate in her drinking; and if she drinks wine, let it be rather claret than white (for it will breed good blood, help the digestion, and comfort the stomach, which is weakly during pregnancy); but white wine being diuretic, or that which provokes urine, ought to be avoided. Let her be careful not to take too much exercise, and let her avoid dancing, riding in a coach, or whatever else puts the body into violent motion, especially in the first month. But to be more particular, I shall here set down rules proper for every month for the child-bearing woman to order herself, from the time she first conceived, to the time of her delivery.

Rules for the First Two Months.

As soon as a woman knows, or has reason to believe, that she has conceived, she ought to abstain from all violent motions and exercise; whether she walks afoot, or rides on horseback or in a coach, it ought to be very gently. Let her also abstain from Venery (for which, after conception, she has usually no great inclination), lest there be a mole or superfoetation, which is the adding of one embryo to another. Let her beware not to lift her arms too high, nor carry great burdens, nor repose herself on hard and uneasy seats. Let her use moderately good, juicy meat and easy of digestion, and let her wines be neither too strong nor too sharp, but a little mingled with water; or if she be very abstemious, she may use water wherein cinnamon has been boiled. Let her avoid fastings, thirst, watchings, mourning, sadness, anger, and all other perturbations of the mind. Let no one present any strange or unwholesome thing to her, nor so much as name it, lest she should desire it and not be able to get it, and so either cause her to miscarry, or the child to have some deformity on that account. Let her belly be kept loose with prunes, raisins or manna in her broth, and let her use the following electuary, to strengthen the womb and the child—

“Take conserve of borage, buglos and roses, each two ounces; an ounce of balm; an ounce each of citron peel and shreds, candied mirobalans, an ounce each; extract of wood aloes a scruple; prepared pearl, half a drachm; red coral and ivory, of each a drachm; precious stones each a scruple; candied nutmegs, two drachms, and with syrup of apples and quinces make an electuary.”

Let her observe the following rules.

“Take pearls prepared, a drachm; red coral and ivory prepared, each half a drachm, precious stones, each a scruple; yellow citron peel, mace, cinnamon, cloves, each half a drachm; saffron, a scruple; wood aloes, half a scruple; ambergris, six drachms; and with six ounces of sugar dissolved in rosewater make rolls.” Let her also apply strengtheners of nutmeg, mace and mastich made up in bags, to the navel, or a toast dipped in malmsey, or sprinkled with powdered mint. If she happens to desire clay, chalk, or coals (as many women with child do), give her beans boiled with sugar, and if she happens to long for anything that she cannot obtain, let her presently drink a large draught of pure cold water.

Rules for the Third Month.

In this month and the next, be sure to keep from bleeding; for though it may be safe and proper at other times, yet it will not be so at the end of the fourth month; and yet if blood abound, or some incidental disease happens which requires evacuation, you may use a cupping glass, with scarification, and a little blood may be drawn from the shoulders and arms, especially if she has been accustomed to bleed. Let her also take care of lacing herself too straitly, but give herself more liberty than she used to do; for inclosing her belly in too strait a mould, she hinders the infant from taking its free growth, and often makes it come before its time.

Rules for the Fourth Month.

In this month also you ought to keep the child-bearing woman from bleeding, unless in extraordinary cases, but when the month is passed, blood-letting and physic may be permitted, if it be gentle and mild, and perhaps it may be necessary to prevent abortion. In this month she may purge, in an acute disease, but purging may only be used from the beginning of this month to the end of the sixth; but let her take care that in purging she use no vehement medicine, nor any bitter, as aloes, which is disagreeable and hurtful to the child, and opens the mouth of the vessels; neither let her use coloquintida, scammony nor turbith; she may use cassia, manna, rhubarb, agaric and senna but dyacidodium purgans is best, with a little of the electuary of the juice of roses.

Rules for the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Months.

In these months, child-bearing women are troubled with coughs, colds, heart-beating, fainting, watching, pains in the loins and hips, and bleeding. The cough is from a sharp vapour that comes to the jaws and rough artery from the terms, or the thin part of that blood got less into the reins of the breast; this endangers abortion, and strength fails from watching: therefore, purge the humours that come to the breast, with rhubarb and agaric, and strengthen the head as in a catarrh, and give sweet lenitives as in a cough. Palpitation and faintness arises from vapours that go to it by the arteries, or from blood that abounds and cannot get out of the womb, but ascends and oppresses the heart; and in this case cordials should be used both inwardly and outwardly. Watching, is from sharp dry vapours that trouble the animal spirits, and in this case use frictions, and let the woman wash her feet at bed-time, and let her take syrup of poppies, dried roses, emulsions of sweet almonds, and white poppy seed. If she be troubled with pains in her loins and hips, as in those months she is subject to be, from the weight of her child as it grows big and heavy, and so stretches the ligaments of the womb and part adjacent, let her hold it up with swathing bands about her neck. About this time also the woman often happens to have a flux of blood, either at the nose, womb or haemorrhoids, from plenty of blood, or from the weakness of the child that takes it not in, or else from evil humour in the blood, that stirs up nature and sends it forth. And sometimes it happens that the vessels of the womb may be broken, either by some violent motion, fall, cough or trouble of the mind (for any of these will work that effect), and this is so dangerous, that in such a case the child cannot be well, but if it be from blood only, the danger is less, provided it flows by the veins of the neck of the womb, for then it prevents plethora and takes not away the nourishment of the child; but if it proceeds from the weakness of the child, that draws it not in, abortion of the child often follows, or hard travail, or else she goes beyond her time. But if it flows from the inward veins of the womb, there is more danger by the openness of the womb, if it come from evil blood; the danger is alike from cacochymy, which is like to fall upon both. If it arises from plethora, open a vein, but with great caution, and use astringents, of which the following will do well:—Take prepared pearls, a scruple; red coral, two scruples; mace, nutmeg, each a drachm; cinnamon, half a drachm; make a powder, or with white sugar make rolls. Or give this powder in broth:—”Take red coral, a drachm; half a drachm precious stones; red sander, half a drachm; bole, a drachm; scaled earth and tormental roots, each two scruples, with sugar of roses and Manus Christi; with pearl, five drachms; make a powder.” You may also strengthen the child at the navel, and if there be a cacochymy, alter the humours, and if you can do it safely, evacuate; you may likewise use amulets on her hands and about her neck. In a flux of haemorrhoids, wear off the pain, and let her drink hot wine with a toasted nutmeg. In these months the belly is also subject to be bound, but if it be without any apparent disease, the broth of a chicken or veal, sodden with oil, or with the decoction of mallows or marsh-mallows, mercury or linseed, put up in a clyster, will not be amiss, but in less quantity than is given in other cases:—viz. of the decoction, five ounces, of common oil, three ounces, of sugar, two ounces, and of cassia fistula, one ounce. But if she will not take a clyster, one or two yolks of new laid eggs, or a little peas-pottage warm, a little salt and sugar, and supped a little before meat, will be very convenient. But if her belly be distended and stretched with wind a little fennel seed and aniseed reduced to a powder and mixed with honey and sugar made after the manner of an electuary, will be very well Also, if thighs and feet swell let them be anointed with erphodrinum (which is a liquid medicine) made with vinegar and rose-water, mingled with salt.

Rules for the Eighth Month.

The eighth month is commonly called the most dangerous; therefore the greatest care and caution ought to be used, the diet better in quality, but no more, nor indeed, so much in quantity as before, but as she must abate her diet, she must increase her exercise; and because then women with child, by reason that sharp humours alter the belly, are accustomed to weaken their spirits and strength, they may well take before meat, an electuary of diarrhoden, or aromaticum rosatum or diamagarton; and sometimes they may lick a little honey. As they will loathe, nauseate their meat, they may take green ginger, candied with sugar, and the rinds of citron and oranges candied; and let them often use honey for strengthening the infant. When she is not very far from her labour, let her eat every day seven roasted figs before her meat, and sometimes let her lick a little honey. But let her beware of salt and powdered meat, for it is neither good for her nor the child.

Rules for the Ninth Month.

In the ninth month let her have a care of lifting any great weight, but let her move a little more, to dilate the parts, and stir up natural heat. Let her take heed of stooping, and neither sit too much nor lie on her sides, neither ought she to bend herself much enfolded in the umbilical ligaments, by which means it often perisheth. Let her walk and stir often, and let her exercise be, rather to go upwards than downwards. Let her diet, now especially, be light and easy of digestion and damask prunes with sugar, or figs with raisins, before meat, as also the yolks of eggs, flesh and broth of chickens, birds, partridges and pheasants; astringent and roasted meats, with rice, hard eggs, millet and such like other things are proper. Baths of sweet water, with emollient herbs, ought to be used by her this month with some intermission, and after the baths let her belly be anointed with oil of sweet roses and of violets; but for her privy parts, it is better to anoint them with the fat of hens, geese or ducks, or with oil of lilies, and the decoction of linseed and fenugreek, boiled with oil of linseed and marshmallows, or with the following liniment:—

Take mallows and marshmallows, cut and shred, of each one ounce; of linseed, one ounce; let them be boiled from twenty ounces of water to ten; then let her take three ounces of the boiled broth, of oil of almonds and oil of flower-de-luce, of each one ounce; of deer’s suet, three ounces. Let her bathe with this, and anoint herself with it, warm.

If for fourteen days before the birth, she do every morning and evening bathe and moisten her belly with muscadine and lavender water, the child will be much strengthened thereby. And if every day she eat toasted bread, it will hinder anything from growing to the child. Her privy parts must be gently stroked down with this fomentation.

“Take three ounces of linseed, and one handful each of mallows and marshmallows sliced, then let them be put into a bag and immediately boiled.” Let the woman with child, every morning and evening, take the vapour of this decoction in a hollow stool, taking great heed that no wind or air come to her in-parts, and then let her wipe the part so anointed with a linen cloth, and she may anoint the belly and groins as at first.

When she has come so near to her time, as to be ten or fourteen days thereof, if she begins to feel any more than ordinary pain let her use every day the following:—”Take mallows and marshmallows, of each a handful; camomiles, hard mercury, maidenhair, of each a handful; of linseed, four ounces; let them be boiled in a sufficient quantity of water as to make a bath therewith.” But let her not sit too hot upon the seat, nor higher than a little above her navel; nor let her sit upon it longer than about half an hour, lest her strength languish and decay, for it is better to use it often than to stay too long in it.

And thus have I shown how a child-bearing woman ought to govern herself each month during her pregnancy. How she must order herself at her delivery, shall be shown in another chapter, after I have first shown the intended midwife how the child is first formed in the womb, and the manner of its decumbiture there.


Of the Parts proper to a Child in the womb; How it is formed there, and the manner of its Situation therein.


In the last chapter I treated of conception, showed what it was, how accomplished and its signs, and how she who has conceived ought to order herself during the time of her pregnancy. Now, before I come to speak of her delivery, it is necessary that the midwife be first made acquainted with the parts proper to a child in the womb, and also that she be shown how it is formed, and the manner of its situation and decumbiture there; which are so necessary to her, that without the knowledge thereof, no one can tell how to deliver a woman as she ought. This, therefore, shall be the work of this chapter. I shall begin with the first of these.


SECTION I.—Of the Parts proper to a Child in the Womb.

In this section, I must first tell you what I mean by the parts proper to a child in the womb; and they are only those that either help or nourish it; and whilst it is lodged in that dark repository of nature, and that help to clothe and defend it there and are cast away, as of no more use, after it is born, and these are two, viz., the umbilicars, or navel vessels, and the secundinum. By the first it is nourished, and by the second clothed and defended from wrong. Of each of these I shall speak distinctly; and first,

Of the Umbilicars, or Navel Vessels.

These are four in number, viz.:—one vein, two arteries, and the vessel which is called the urachos.

(1) The vein is that on which the infant is nourished, from the time of its conception till the time of its delivery; till being brought into the light of the world, it has the same way of concocting the food we have. This vein ariseth from the liver of the child, and is divided into two parts when it has passed the navel; and these two are divided and subdivided, the branches being upheld by the skin calledchorion (of which I speak by and by), and are joined to the veins of the mother’s womb, from whence they have their blood for the nourishment of the child.

(2) The arteries are two on each side which proceed from the back branches of the great artery of the mother, and the vital blood is carried by those to the child being ready concocted by the mother.

(3) A nervous or sinewy production is led from the bottom of the bladder of the infant to the navel, and this is called urachos, and its use is, to convey the urine of the infant from the bladder to the alantois. Anatomists do very much vary in their opinion concerning this, some denying any such thing to be in the delivery of the woman, and others on the contrary affirming it; but experience has testified there is such a thing, for Bartholomew Carbrolius, the ordinary doctor of anatomy to the College of Physicians at Montpellier in France, records the history of a maid, whose water being a long time stopped, at last issued out through the navel. And Johannes Fernelius speaks of the same thing that happened to a man of thirty years of age, who having a stoppage at the neck of the bladder, his urine issued out of his navel for many months together, and that without any prejudice at all to his health, which he ascribes to the ill lying of his navel, whereby the urachos was not well dried. And Volchier Coitas quotes such another instance in a maid of thirty-four at Nuremburg in Germany. These instances, though they happen but seldom, are sufficient to prove that there is such a thing as anurachos in men.

These four vessels before mentioned, viz., one vein, two arteries and the urachos, join near the navel, and are united by a skin which they have from the chorion and so become like a gut or rope, and are altogether void of sensibility, and this is that which women call the navel-string. The vessels are thus joined together, that so they may neither be broken, severed nor entangled; and when the infant is born are of no use save only to make up the ligament which stops the hole of the navel and for some other physical use, etc.

Of the Secundine or After-birth.

Setting aside the name given to this by the Greeks and Latins, it is called in English by the name of secundine, after-birth or after-burden; which are held to be four in number.

(1) The first is called placenta, because it resembles the form of a cake, and is knit both to the navel and chorion, and makes up the greatest part of the secundine or after-birth. The flesh of it is like that of the melt or spleen, soft, red and tending something to blackness, and hath many small veins and arteries in it: and certainly the chief use of it is, for containing the child in the womb.

(2) The second is the chorion. This skin and that called the amnios, involve the child round, both above and underneath, and on bothsides, which the alantois does not. This skin is that which is most commonly called the secundine, as it is thick and white garnished with many small veins and arteries, ending in the placenta before named, being very light and slippery. Its use is, not only to cover the child round about, but also to receive, and safely bind up the roots of the veins and arteries or navel vessels before described.

(3) The third thing which makes up the secundine in the alantois, of which there is a great dispute amongst anatomists. Some say there is such a thing, and others that there is not. Those who will have it to be a membrane, say it is white, soft and exceedingly thin, and just under the placenta, where it is knit to the urachos, from which it receives the urine; and its office is to keep it separate from the sweat, that the saltness of it may not offend the tender skin of the child.

(4) The fourth, and last covering of the child is called amnios; and it is white, soft and transparent, being nourished by some very small veins and arteries. Its use is, not only to enwrap the child, but also to retain the sweat of the child.

Having thus described the parts proper to a child in the womb, I will next proceed to speak of the formation of the child therein, as soon as I have explained the hard terms of the section, that those for whose help it is designed, may understand what they read. Avein is that which receives blood from the liver, and distributes in several branches to all parts of the body. Nerve is the same withsinew, and is that by which the brain adds sense and motion to the body. Placenta, properly signifies sugar cake; but in this section it is used to signify a spongy piece of flesh resembling a cake, full of veins and arteries, and is made to receive a mother’s blood appointed for the infant’s nourishment in the womb. The chorion is an outward skin which compasseth the child in the womb. Theamnios is the inner skin which compasseth the child in the womb. The alantois is the skin that holds the urine of the child during the time that it abides in the womb. The urachos is the vessel that conveys the urine from the child in the womb to the alantois. I now proceed to


SECT. II.—Of the Formation of the Child in the Womb.

To speak of the formation of the child in the womb, we must begin where nature begins, and, that is at the act of coition, in which the womb having received the generative seed (without which there can be no conception), the womb immediately shuts up itself so close that the point of a needle cannot enter the inward orifice; and this it does, partly to hinder the issuing out of the seed again, and partly to cherish it by an inward heat, the better to provoke it to action; which is one reason why women’s bellies are so lank at their first conception. The woman having thus conceived, the first thing which is operative in conception is the spirit whereof the seed is full, which, nature quickening by the heat of the womb, stirs up the action. The internal spirits, therefore, separate the parts that are less pure, which are thick, cold and clammy, from those that are more pure and noble. The less pure are cast to the outside, and with these seed is circled round and the membrane made, in which that seed that is most pure is wrapped round and kept close together, that it may be defended from cold and other accidents, and operate the better.

The first thing that is formed is the amnios; the next the chorion; and they enwrap the seed round like a curtain. Soon after this (for the seed thus shut up in the woman lies not idle), the navel vein is bred, which pierceth those skins, being yet very tender, and carries a drop of blood from the veins of the mother’s womb to the seed; from which drop the vena cava, or chief vein, proceeds, from which all the rest of the veins which nourish the body spring; and now the seed hath something to nourish it, whilst it performs the rest of nature’s work, and also blood administered to every part of it, to form flesh.

This vein being formed, the navel arteries are soon after formed; then the great artery, of which all the others are but branches; and then the heart, for the liver furnisheth the arteries with blood to form the heart, the arteries being made of seed, but the heart and the flesh, of blood. After this the brain is formed, and then the nerves to give sense and motion to the infant. Afterwards the bones and flesh are formed; and of the bones, first of all, the vertebrae or chine bones, and then the skull, etc. As to the time in which this curious part of nature’s workmanship is formed, having already in Chapter II of the former part of this work spoken at large upon this point, and also of the nourishment of the child in the womb, I shall here only refer the reader thereto, and proceed to show the manner in which the child lies in the womb.


SECT. III.—Of the manner of the Child’s lying in the Womb.

This is a thing so essential for a midwife to know, that she can be no midwife who is ignorant of it; and yet even about this authors extremely differ; for there are not two in ten that agree what is the form that the child lies in the womb, or in what fashion it lies there; and yet this may arise in a great measure from the different times of the women’s pregnancy; for near the time of its deliverance out of those winding chambers of nature it oftentimes changes the form in which it lay before, for another.

I will now show the several situations of the child in the mother’s womb, according to the different times of pregnancy, by which those that are contrary to nature, and are the chief cause of ill labours, will be more easily conceived by the understanding midwife. It ought, therefore, in the first place to be observed, that the infant, as well male as female, is generally situated in the midst of the womb; for though sometimes, to appearance a woman’s belly seems higher on one side than the other, yet it is so with respect to the belly only, and not to her womb, in the midst of which it is always placed.

But, in the second place, a woman’s great belly makes different figures, according to the different times of pregnancy; for when she is young with child, the embryo is always found of a round figure, a little long, a little oblong, having the spine moderately turned inwards, and the thighs folded, and a little raised, to which the legs are so raised, that the heels touch the buttocks; the arms are bending, and the hands placed upon the knees, towards which part of the body, the head is turned downwards towards the inward orifice of the womb, tumbling as it were over its head so that then the feet are uppermost, and the face towards the mother’s great gut; and this turning of the infant in this manner, with its head downwards, towards the latter end of a woman’s reckoning, is so ordered by nature, that it may be thereby the better disposed of its passage into the world at the time of its mother’s labour, which is not then far off (and indeed some children turn not at all until the very time of birth); for in this posture all its joints are most easily extended in coming forth; for by this means its arms and legs cannot hinder its birth, because they cannot be bent against the inner orifice of the womb and the rest of the body, being very supple, passeth without any difficulty after the head, which is hard and big; being passed the head is inclined forward, so that the chin toucheth the breast, in which posture, it resembles one sitting to ease nature, and stooping down with the head to see what comes from him. The spine of the back is at that time placed towards the mother’s, the head uppermost, the face downwards; and proportionately to its growth, it extends its members by little and little, which were exactly folded in the first month. In this posture it usually keeps until the seventh or eighth month, and then by a natural propensity and disposition of the upper first. It is true there are divers children, that lie in the womb in another posture, and come to birth with their feet downwards, especially if there be twins; for then, by their different motions they do so disturb one another, that they seldom come both in the same posture at the time of labour, but one will come with the head, and another with the feet, or perhaps lie across; but sometimes neither of them will come right. But, however the child may be situated in the womb, or in whatever posture it presents itself at the time of birth, if it be not with its head forwards, as I have before described, it is always against nature, and the delivery will occasion the more pain and danger, and require greater care and skill from the midwife, than when the labour is more natural.


A Guide for Women in Travail, showing what is to be done when they fall in Labour, in order to their Delivery.


The end of all that we have been treating of is, the bringing forth of a child into the world with safety both to the mother and the infant, as the whole time of a woman’s pregnancy may be termed a kind of labour; for, from the time of the conception to the time of her delivery, she labours under many difficulties, is subject to many distempers, and in continual danger, from one affection or other, till the time of birth comes; and when that comes, the greatest labour and travail come along with it, insomuch that then all the other labours are forgotten, and that only is called the time of her labours, and to deliver her safely is the principal business of the midwife; and to assist therein, shall be the chief design of this chapter. The time of the child’s being ready for its birth, when nature endeavours to cast it forth, is that which is properly the time of a woman’s labour; nature then labouring to be eased of its burden. And since many child-bearing women, (especially the first child) are often mistaken in their reckoning and so, when they draw near their timetake every pain they meet with for their labour, which often proves prejudicial and troublesome to them, when it is not so, I will in the first section of this chapter, set down some signs, by which a woman may know when the true time of her labour is come.


SECTION I.—The Signs of the true Time of a Woman’s Labour.

When women with child, especially of their first, perceive any extraordinary pains in the belly, they immediately send for their midwife, as taking it for their labour; and then if the midwife be not a skilful and experienced woman, to know the time of labour, but takes it for granted without further inquiry (for some such there are), and so goes about to put her into labour before nature is prepared for it, she may endanger the life of both mother and child, by breaking the amnios and chorion. These pains, which are often mistaken for labour, are removed by warm clothes laid to the belly, and the application of a clyster or two, by which those pains which precede a true labour, are rather furthered than hindered. There are also other pains incident to a woman in that condition from the flux of the belly, which are easily known by the frequent stools that follow them.

The signs, therefore, of labour, some few days before, are that the woman’s belly, which before lay high, sinks down, and hinders her from walking so easily as she used to do; also there flow from the womb slimy humours, which nature has appointed to moisten and smooth the passage that its inward orifice may be the more easily dilated when there is occasion; which beginning to open at this time, suffers that slime to flow away, which proceeds from the Glandules called prostata. These are signs preceding the labour; but when she is presently falling into labour, the signs are, great pains about the region of the reins and loins, which coming and retreating by intervals, are answered in the bottom of the belly by congruous throes, and sometimes the face is red and inflamed, the blood being much heated by the endeavours a woman makes to bring forth her child; and likewise, because during these strong throes her respiration is intercepted, which causes the blood to have recourse to her face; also her privy parts are swelled by the infant’s head lying in the birth, which, by often thrusting, causes those parts to descend outwards. She is much subject to vomiting, which is a good sign of good labour and speedy delivery, though by ignorant people thought otherwise; for good pains are thereby excited and redoubled; which vomiting is excited by the sympathy there is between the womb and the stomach. Also, when the birth is near, women are troubled with a trembling in the thighs and legs, not with cold, like the beginning of an ague fit, but with the heat of the whole body, though it must be granted, this does not happen always. Also, if the humours which then flow from the womb are discoloured with the blood, which the midwives call shows, it is an infallible mark of the birth being near. And if then the midwife puts up her fingers into the neck of the womb, she will find the inner orifice dilated; at the opening of which the membranes of the infant, containing the waters, present themselves and are strongly forced down with each pain she hath; at which time one may perceive them sometimes to resist, and then again press forward the finger, being more or less hard and extended, according as the pains are stronger or weaker. These membranes, with the waters in them, when they are before the head of the child, midwives callthe gathering of the waters, resemble to the touch of the fingers those eggs which have no shell, but are covered only with a simple membrane. After this, the pains still redoubling the membranes are broken by a strong impulsation of these waters, which flow away, and then the head of the infant is presently felt naked, and presents itself at the inward orifice of the womb. When these waters come thus away, then the midwife may be assured the birth is very near, this being the most certain sign that can be; for theamnios alantois, which contained these waters, being broken by the pressing forward of the birth, the child is no better able to subsist long in the womb afterwards than a naked man in a heap of snow. Now, these waters, if the child comes presently after them, facilitate the labour by making the passage slippery; and therefore, let no midwife (as some have foolishly done) endeavour to force away the water, for nature knows best when the true time of birth is, and therefore retains the waters till that time. But if by accident the water breaks away too long before the birth, then such things as will hasten it, may be safely administered, and what these are, I will show in another section.


SECT. II.—How a Woman ought to be ordered when the time of her labour is come.

When it is known that the true time of her labour is come by the signs laid down in the foregoing, of which those most to be relied upon are pains and strong throes in the belly, forcing downwards towards the womb, and a dilation of the inward orifice, which may be perceived by touching it with the finger, and the gathering of the waters before the head of the child, and thrusting down the membranes which contain them; through which, between the pains, one may in some manner with the finger discover the part which presents itself (as we have said before), especially if it be the head of the child, by its roundness and hardness; I say, if these things concur and are evident, the midwife may be sure it is the time of the woman’s labour, and care must be taken to get all those things that are necessary to comfort her at that time. And the better to help her, be sure to see that she is not tightly laced; you must also give her one strong clyster or more, if there be occasion, provided it be done at the beginning, and before the child be too forward, for it will be difficult for her to receive them afterwards. The benefit accruing therefrom will be, that they excite the gut to discharge itself of its excrements, so that the rectum being emptied there may be the more space for the dilation of the passage; likewise to cause the pains to bear the more downward, through the endeavours she makes when she is at stool, and in the meantime, all other necessary things for her labour should be put in order, both for the mother and the child. To this end, some get a midwife’s; but a pallet bed, girded, is much the best way, placed near the fire, if the season so require, which pallet ought to be so placed, that there may be easy access to it on every side, that the woman may be the more easily assisted, as there is occasion.

If the woman abounds with blood, to bleed her a little more may not be improper, for thereby she will both breathe the better, and have her breasts more at liberty, and likewise more strength to bear down her pains; and this may be done without danger because the child being about ready to be born, has no more need of the mother’s blood for its nouri