The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher
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Containing his Complete Masterpiece and Family Physician; his Experienced Midwife, his Book of Problems and his Remarks on Physiognomy


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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.

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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 meats must 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.

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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.

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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 going longer 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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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 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.

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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 all their 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, which The 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.

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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 prove very 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.

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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.

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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.


[1] Attributed to George IV (Translator).

[2] 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.

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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 first place, 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.

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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.

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