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Title: Hints to Husbands - A Revelation of the Man-Midwife's Mysteries
Author: Morant, George
Language: English
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  HINTS TO HUSBANDS:
  A Revelation of
  THE MAN-MIDWIFE'S MYSTERIES.


  BY GEORGE MORANT,
  LATE GRENADIER GUARDS.


                     "Sit you down,
  And let me wring your heart, for so I shall,
  If it be made of penetrable stuff;
  If damned custom have not brazed it so,
  That it be proof and bulwark against sense."


  Third Edition,
  REVISED AND ENLARGED.


  LONDON:
  SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO.,
  4, STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
  1857.



  TO THE
  HUSBANDS & FATHERS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM,
  AND TO THOSE HONOURABLE MEN OF THE
  MEDICAL PROFESSION,
  WHO REPROBATE AND CONDEMN
  THE UNNATURAL CUSTOM OF MAN-MIDWIFERY,
  AS AN OUTRAGE ON THE MODESTY OF WOMEN,
  AND DEROGATORY TO THEIR OWN VOCATION;
  AND TO ALL WHO HAVE
  HEARTS TO FEEL AND COURAGE TO COPE WITH
  THIS ENORMOUS WRONG,
  THESE PAGES ARE INSCRIBED BY

  THE AUTHOR.



PREFACE.


The two-fold object which we desire to attain in the following pages, and
to which we earnestly entreat the attention of our readers, is the
exposure and amendment of a vast social evil, which we have reason to
believe has, to most reflecting men, become well nigh intolerable. It will
be obvious that to bring this evil, with effect, to the bar of public
opinion, we must probe it to the very core, and fearlessly unveil and drag
into the light its indecent mysteries. In so doing we shall doubtless
incur the censures of those easy-going people who agree with the poet
that--

  "Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise;"

who, like the bird of the desert, by hiding their heads deem their bodies
out of danger; who, dead to all the generous sympathies which elevate man
above the brute, would reduce the minds of others to their own dull and
dreary level of stolid inanity; of those prudent persons who, closing
their eyes to the lightning flash and their ears to the vollied thunder,
sneak through the world by any side-path sooner than encounter a
difficulty foot to foot and hand to hand; and, without pretending to any
extraordinary knowledge of the human heart, we fear, of the majority of
those women who have already sacrificed their modesty at the altar of
custom; and, above all, of that class whose presumptuous charlatanism we
desire to lay bare. But for all this we care not one jot, provided the
mists of imposture be dispelled, and our countrywomen rescued from the
disgrace and degradation of an odious system, which, originating in a
dissolute age, has since been promoted and encouraged by self-interested
empirics, and sanctioned by indifference, credulity, and error.



HINTS TO HUSBANDS, &c. &c.



CHAPTER I.

  "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
  Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."


The practice of _man_-midwifery is one among the noxious weeds which the
rank luxuriance of civilization has produced, and since its introduction
it has thriven with unrestrained vitality and ever-increasing strength,
until at length it spreads its Upas shadow far and wide over our land, and
treacherously, mysteriously, and silently distils the poison of its
presence deep into the sanctuaries of domestic life. Reader, we will make
plain to you the nature and polluting influence of this redundant growth
of luxury and vice; and then, with God's help, may you, and tens of
thousands of your fellow-men, swear by all things holy, just, and good,
that the hallowed purity of home shall never more be blighted by its
deadly shade.

We are accustomed to speak of ourselves as of a highly moral people; and
of our manners, habits, and customs as superior to those of other
nations; and of our capital as the most civilized city in the world;

  "But these are the days of advance, the works of the men of mind,
  When who but a fool would have faith in a tradesman's ware or his word?
  When the poor are hovell'd and hustled together, each sex like swine,
  When only the ledger lives, and when only not all men lie;
  When chalk, and alum, and plaster are sold to the poor for bread,
  And the spirit of murder works in the very means of life.
  And sleep must lie down armed, for the villanous centre-bits
  Grind on the wakeful ear in the hush of the moonless nights.
  While another is cheating the sick of a few last gasps as he sits,
  To pestle a poison'd poison behind his crimsoned lights."

Oh, but, say you, these are not flaws in the crystal, but mere specks upon
the mirror, which a little careful polishing may remove with ease. See the
propriety, order, and decency of our households; our noble sense of
justice, right, and honour; our strict observance of religious duties; the
chaste and modest demeanour of our women; and beholding these things, who
shall say that we are not a moral people?

To the unreflecting and casual observer, mere outward semblance would
appear to justify and confirm this character of our society. Nevertheless
there is, beneath the surface of this seeming health, a loathsome canker,
eating into the very vitals of home life![1] and we ourselves are sapping
the very foundations of morality, and insulting and outraging the most
precious feelings of those whom we should love best and cherish most upon
earth, by subjecting them to a usage which first robs them of their
birthright, modesty, and then deadens, and finally destroys, all
perception of their loss; while "moral England," under the delusion of a
falsely termed necessity, endures, and even fosters a pollution, which
France, to her honour, now repudiates and abhors!

Believing it to be a fact that ninety-nine men in every hundred are
ignorant of the extent of the outrages to which their wives submit, when
"attended" by a _man_-midwife in their "confinements," we shall, in this
essay, endeavour to clear up the mystery which envelopes the proceedings
of this class of practitioners, showing by extracts from their own
treatises what their "process" is; and having afterwards placed before our
readers the opinions and arguments of able and scientific men against such
an utter subversion of propriety, we shall, with confidence in the
result, leave the question to be decided by the strong voice of public
opinion whether this pernicious custom, indecent and degrading as all will
admit it to be, shall longer disgrace our country.

The spirit of evil, though not, as in Eden,

  "Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
  Assaying by his devilish art to reach
  The organs of her fancy,"

yet, under another shape, was still at his old work at the time when,[2]
instead of the ordinary midwife, whose presence would have given rise to
scandal, a surgeon[3] was summoned to attend the delivery of Mademoiselle
de la Valiere, mistress of Louis XIV., for so powerful was the effect of
fashion in these dissolute times, that, soon after the first examples had
been given by persons whose rank and condition enabled them to brave
public opinion, the Parisian ladies of fashion, throwing aside the veil of
modesty, which had from the earliest ages, and in all countries, enjoined
female attendance, followed the precedent of this abandoned woman, and the
practice of _man_-midwifery soon became general in the French capital.

The historian well and truly describes the state of society in those evil
days, and how the manners of the age became, year by year, more lost to
virtue, dignity, and honour, until at length all the better feelings of
human nature, even religion itself, became a by-word and a mockery amidst
the chaos of the Revolution. "The ante-chambers of Versailles were daily
besieged by crowds of titled, yet needy supplicants, who eagerly sought
employment, favour, or distinction from the king's ministers or his
mistresses, and mandates issued from them were obeyed without a murmur
from Calais to the Pyrenees. What, then, was it which, in a country so
profusely endowed with the riches of nature, and inhabited by a race of
men so brave, so active, and so enterprising, has led to a convulsion
attended with the unspeakable horrors of the French Revolution? The answer
is to be found in the previous state of the country, and the general
perversion of the national mind; in the oppressions to which the people
were subjected, the vices by which the nobles alienated them; the
corruptions by which morals were contaminated; the errors with which
religion was disfigured; the extent to which infidelity had spread."[4]
"Corruption, in its worst form, had long tainted the manners of the court
as well as the nobility, and poisoned the sources of influence. The favour
of royal mistresses, or the intrigues of the court, openly disposed of the
highest appointments, both in the army, the church, and the civil service.
Since the reign of the Roman emperors, profligacy had never been conducted
in so open and undisguised a manner as under Louis XV. and the Regent
Orleans. From the secret memoirs of the period, which have now been
published, it is manifest that the licentious novels, which at that time
disgraced French literature, conveyed a faithful picture of the manners of
the age."[5]

"It is difficult to treat of this subject (times of Louis XV.) without
disclosing particulars at which purity may blush, or on which
licentiousness may gloat; but general observations make little impression
on the mind even of the most reflecting reader, if not attended with a
detail of facts which proves that it is well founded; and one authentic
example of the manner of the court and aristocratic circles in Paris,
anterior to the Revolution, will produce a stronger conviction than whole
chapters of assertion. All that we read in ancient historians, veiled in
the decent obscurity of a learned language, of the orgies of the ancient
Babylon, was equalled, if not exceeded, by the nocturnal revels of the
Regent Orleans, the Cardinal Dubois, and his other licentious
associates."[6] Such is a faithful picture of the manners and vices of the
age and country in which the custom of man-midwifery took its rise. Here
and there a bright star shone out, the brighter for the blackness of that
hideous night: men of the highest order of mind did all that great
eloquence and vigorous thought could do to stay the strong and turbid
current of pollution which threatened to overwhelm the human race, and
amongst these great spirits of the past, the physician Roussel, in a work
remarkable for the delicacy of its sentiments, the force of its satire,
and the strength and power of its language, endeavoured to turn the
attention of his countrymen to the indecency of the practice which was
first adopted in the harlot De la Valiere's chamber.[7] In some measure he
succeeded; but who can wonder if, in that vicious age, his eloquence had
passed unheeded, and the delicacy of his sentiments had been scoffed at
and derided by the charlatans of the day, in a city where adultery was the
fashion, and marriage but a cloak for vice. The causes which then
prevented the writings and counsels of these eminent men from taking full
effect upon the public mind, no longer exist; and, accordingly, in that
very Paris, where, in former times, amidst such scenes of vice and
profligacy as the historian describes, the immodest practice originated,
has since sprung up an agitation against it, which is increasing day by
day. Colleges, both metropolitan and provincial, have long been
established for the instruction of _females_ in the obstetric "art," and
many of those women, who have been educated in them, possessed such
talents and intelligence that the treatises written by them have become
the acknowledged text books of the French medical world.

Madame Boivin[8] in the dedication of her "Mémorial de l'Art des
Accouchements," 4me ed., says:--"Moved and affected by the painful cries
which mothers, victims of barbarity and ignorance, caused to be heard from
far, the Government hastened to reply to them by establishing a practical
School of Midwifery within the Lying-in Hospital: from all parts were
summoned, _not men but women_, to come and assist at the lectures of the
most eminent professors of surgery and medicine.... Already a great
number have, from this fertile source of instruction, derived the
knowledge and the qualities necessary for the exercise of an art so
important in its results to the population of the kingdom and the
happiness of families." In the preface to the above treatise, 4me ed., p.
10, we read the following allusion to the practice on this side the
channel; "Thus you will find in this edition some novel remarks ... on
certain cases of difficult labour, and on the operative process practised
in these cases, so brutally treated by practitioners beyond sea, and in a
manner so simple and so happily different by us, especially at the School
of Midwifery in Paris."

And what are we about in "moral England," all this time? Where are our
colleges of instruction, to which we have summoned "_not men but
women_"--our _Hospices de la Maternité_,[9] wherein and whereby we may
preserve the modesty of our women? Where is the voice to cry shame upon
the custom which introduces men into the sacred precincts of the marriage
chamber to perform offices which are, by nature, the duty of women
alone?[10] Shall it be said that two thousand years ago the Romans
possessed a higher sense of moral feeling than we do now? Roussel says,
"The principal reason which, among the ancients, forbade the belief that
the duty of aiding delivery could be proper to any but women--excepting
in cases of very rare occurrence, where every consideration might
necessarily yield to a pressing danger--was the grand interest of manners.
This was an object to which ancient Governments had always special regard.
They knew morality to be the foundation of all legislation, and that good
laws would be made in vain unless good morals insured their execution. The
cruelty of Archagathus' surgical operations drove the doctors from Rome.
She banished also from her bosom the Greek philosophers and orators who
were accused of having introduced and cultivated the taste for the arts
and vices of Greece. She would surely not have permitted, for any length
of time, the existence of an art, which, practised by men, would, under
the specious pretence of utility, threaten the sanctuary of marriage, and
which, striking a blow at the chief safeguard of families, would next
attack the mainsprings of the state; an art which, with power to alarm the
modesty of women, would soon leave them without a blush,[11] and cause
them to lose even the recollection of that severe virtue which had
merited the respect and veneration of the Romans, and which of old had
been the principle of the grandest revolutions. Cato, always careful to
protect the hearts of the citizens from corruption, would never have
permitted their wives, when presenting children to the republic, to
tarnish the boon by a forgetfulness of the first of all decencies."[12]

"The Greeks," says Dr. Stevens, "invariably employed women; Phanarete, the
mother of that distinguished man, Socrates, was a midwife. Hippocrates
makes mention of them; and Plato speaks somewhat extensively of midwives,
and explains their duties." "We have reason to believe," says Dr. Denman,
"that the obstetric art was altogether in the hands of women, _the natural
delicacy of females having reluctant recourse to the professional aid of
the other sex_."

Hecquet says, "The Greeks, moreover, had their female physicians, as we
perceive by the words [Greek: akestrides] and [Greek: eatrinai], which
have been preserved to us."

"Such was the chasteness of the times, that lithotomy on the female
subject was practised by one of their own sex. At Athens the positive
enactments of the land were inefficient to overcome their scrupulous
modesty. It is said the Athenian doctors procured a legal enactment
transferring the practice of midwifery to themselves; but at the very
attempt the women rose _en masse_, and declared _they would die rather
than submit to such an outrage_ upon common decency.... The Romans[13]
also employed women only. Pliny, in his _Natural History_, speaks of
midwives,[14] explains their duties, and mentions some of great
reputation. According to Roman law, midwives were recognized as a distinct
class in society, and enjoyed certain rights and immunities in common with
the medical profession."[15]

We have shown, on the testimony of medical writers, that the practice of
_man_-midwifery was introduced in France, or rather in Paris, for it was
never generally adopted in the provinces,[16] so early as the end of the
seventeenth century; but more than a hundred years elapsed before the
unnatural and debasing custom became fashionable in England: and we find
that late in the eighteenth century it was considered so objectionable,
that few persons, excepting in those rare cases where danger was imminent,
ever permitted "a medical man" to usurp the duties of the midwife: and it
is only within the last fifty years that _man_-midwifery has prevailed in
these kingdoms. Indeed Dr. Ramsbotham, in 1845, in the preface to his work
on obstetric medicine and surgery, alludes to the difficulty which it
would appear had not even then been entirely got rid of, in overcoming the
very natural aversion of women to the regulations of midwifery practice as
laid down in the many swollen and prurient treatises on the "pretended
art."

Nothing appears more extraordinary, or more opposed to all our
preconceived notions of propriety, than that this _man_ should bustle into
the marriage chamber, our holy of holies, with so much privileged
assurance, and that the world should look upon the affair with such
perfect indifference. But we suppose that his presence is a necessary
evil, and the whole proceeding quite a matter of course, in which
"sensible people" see no harm whatever; _honi soit qui mal y pense_. Some
such train of ideas may have been suggested by the arrival of Dr. A. B. or
C., M.D. and accoucheur, whom you, perhaps, still young in the world's
ways, have summoned, you know not why, but that you had been told, it may
be by your wife's mother, that it was absolutely necessary to engage a
fashionable "ladies' doctor" to "attend" your first born's introduction
into the world; in fact, you began to have grave doubts whether it would
be possible for the child to arrive without the doctor; (you may have
since ascertained, much to the chagrin of A. B. or C., M.D. and
accoucheur, that such an event is not altogether beyond the circle of
probabilities.) You have also hired a "month nurse," _recommended by the
doctor_ as an experienced and skilful woman, in every way fitted for her
office. The critical moment approaches; in a state of nervous excitement
and anxiety you are advised to retire to the drawing-room, which, like a
fool, you do. From time to time you are assured that all is going on as
well as possible, and at length you are gratified by the intelligence that
you are a father. You are, of course, utterly ignorant of all that has
been done, what the nurse's share of duty may have been, and what the
doctor's, although you have perchance a sort of vague and undefined
suspicion that you were wrong in leaving all that you held dearest in the
hands of a stranger, and that stranger a _man_, at a moment when she, the
loved one, required your presence to comfort, console, and strengthen her
in the hour of trial. Nor would your ignorance be enlightened, unless, as
we did after years of credulity and miserable evasion, you catechise the
doctor. Then will break upon you, in all their horrible reality, the
indignities to which you have subjected her for whom you would have given
life itself, the purest of the pure, the idol of your love, the very
essence of your being, your heart of hearts! Then, indeed, will you
repent, when it is all too late, your folly in trusting to the candour of
Dr. A. B. or C., M.D., and the actual crime which you have committed in
not acquainting yourself, _while there was yet time to prevent it_, with
the "process" by which the _man_-midwife pretends to improve upon the
all-powerful machinery of nature, and the infinite wisdom of nature's God.

In the bitterness of your thoughts you may, perhaps, venture to question
the doctor's mode of proceeding, upon the supposition that the nurse,
having been recommended by him as a skilful and competent person, should
alone have _actively_[17] interfered, when you may be truculently told
that he was not there "only to stand by and make reports;" or that "an
accoucheur is not necessarily an old woman;" that "there are no
feelings;"[18] that "the first thing he always does, when he comes to the
bed-side, is to make _an examination per vaginam_!" with other
observations equally harrowing to the sensibilities of a husband.

What shock so terrible to a man who, rejoicing in the delightful sentiment
of a wife's purity, discovers that all he held dearest and most sacred,
all which he would shield from profanation with the last drop of his
life's blood, has been invaded by the presence, and _violated by the
actual contact_ of the _man_-midwife? The doctor may be a sober, discreet,
oily man, of staid appearance, and a very pattern of propriety; or he may
be a vulgar, low-bred person, in his leisure consorting with those of a
similar bent; or

  "Yonder a vile physician, blabbing
  The case of his patient...;"

or he may be a tippling, jovial fellow, who at some roystering party is
always called on for "a good song," sure to have as its theme wine, love,
and woman,--for accoucheurs are mortals like other men; or he may be some
tyro in "the art," just let loose from his course of walking the
hospitals, strong in syphilitic cases, and with all the recollections of a
young surgeon's life fresh upon him: nevertheless, whatever he be, _the
very inmost secrets of your wife's person_ are known to him,[19] the veil
of modesty has been rudely torn aside, and the sanctity of marriage exists
but in the name.

        ----"Such an act,
  That blurs the grace and blush of modesty;
  Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the rose
  From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
  And sets a blister there; makes marriage vows
  As false as dicer's oaths: oh, such a deed,
  As from the body of contraction plucks
  The very soul, and sweet religion makes
  A rhapsody of words: heaven's face doth glow;
  Yea this solidity and compound mass,
  With tristful visage as against the doom,
  Is thought-sick at the act."



CHAPTER II.

"O shame! where is thy blush?"


It now becomes our most painful but necessary task to explain what that
"process" is to which we have alluded, by giving some extracts from one of
the principal works on midwifery, and in the very words of the treatise,
to prove the gross outrages to which women are obliged to submit when
"attended" by these male practitioners. Nothing but a sense of the
enormity of this monster evil would induce us to contaminate our pages by
the introduction of such garbage; but we are well aware that "general
observations make little impression on the mind even of the most
reflecting reader, if not attended with a detail of facts which proves
that it is well founded; and one authentic example will produce a stronger
conviction than whole chapters of assertion."

EXTRACTS FROM DR. RAMSBOTHAM'S OBSTETRIC MEDICINE AND SURGERY.

"_Duties of the Medical Attendant under Natural Labour._

"From the knowledge which the foregoing pages will afford of the
beneficence displayed by nature throughout the processes of
utero-gestation and labour, and of the admirable contrivances adopted by
her to overcome difficulties and avert dangers, it will be evident that,
in a very large proportion of cases, the duties of the obstetrician must
be few and simple. Generally, indeed, no _active_ assistance is necessary,
until after the birth of the child; all that is required of the attendant
being, that he should remain an observant, though unofficious spectator of
the process, ready to exert himself with promptitude and energy on the
first accession of any alarming symptoms, but equally or more ready to
allow the changes necessary for the completion of nature's object to
proceed, uninterrupted by any meddlesome interference; for no maxim in
obstetric science is of more universal application than that unnecessary
'assistance,' rendered with a view of expediting the termination of the
case, or shortening the sufferings of the patient, is not only useless,
but in the highest degree injurious, and directly calculated to defeat its
own end.

"Let it not be supposed this declaration includes the admission, that a
partial acquaintance with the obstetric branch of medicine is sufficient
for the safe practice of the profession; for although, in thirty-nine
cases out of forty, little is required to be done beyond protecting the
extended structures from injury, separating the child, and extracting the
placenta from the vagina after its total exclusion from the uterine
cavity; still, in the fortieth danger may occur, only to be arrested by
the promptest, the most decisive, and most judiciously directed help.

"Much knowledge[20] is necessary to discriminate the kind of cases in
which assistance is proper, and determine the time at which that
assistance ought to be employed, as well as the mode of its application.
It is this which distinguishes the scientific from the ignorant
obstetrician; it is this important knowledge on which the life, the future
health and comfort of many a parturient woman must depend; which,
nevertheless, has been held in such low estimation by some members of the
profession, as to be thought unworthy of cultivation by the scientific and
literary mind; unfit to be possessed by men of respectable station in
society; and the adaptation of which knowledge to practice has been
characterized, in an official document under the seal of the highest of
our medical corporate associations, as 'an art foreign to the habits of
gentlemen of enlarged academical education.'[21] In the same communication
it is asserted, 'that the most successful practice of midwifery requires
no such laborious preliminary study as is necessary for the practice of
medicine, else discreet matrons, and plain uneducated men in the country,
who frequently arrive at great notoriety in this calling, would not
acquire that credit which they often attain.'... nor, perhaps, are we
generally expected to regulate the number of individuals to be present,
though we may be called upon occasionally to exercise our authority in
this respect. The only persons whom I would willingly admit are the nurse
and some female married friend, the mother, or other near relation, or an
intimate acquaintance, to act as _confidante_ to the sufferer, into whose
sympathizing ear she may whisper all her apprehensions and distresses, and
from whom she may receive those numberless comforts and sustaining
consolations of which she stands so eminently in need. Unmarried females
are neither the most fit companions for the patient, nor the most useful
assistants to the practitioner.[22]

"On being ushered into her chamber, we may engage her in some general
conversation, which will give us an opportunity of observing the
frequency, duration, strength, and character of the pains; and our conduct
must be framed according. Should they be of trifling importance, we may
content ourselves with giving some ordinary directions and retire from the
apartment. But if they are returning with frequency and activity, we must
not allow much time to elapse before we require to make an examination PER
VAGINAM.[23] An objection may be raised by the patient to the necessary
examination being then instituted, under the idea that _no assistance_ can
be rendered her so early in the labour. As I would regard the feelings of
a parturient woman in a degree only secondary to her safety, I would by no
means insist on putting her to this inconvenience, unless I thought it
quite indispensable. But as much valuable information may be gained by
this first examination, and as it is highly desirable to obtain that
information during the progress of the first stage, it is right firmly,
but gently, to urge its propriety. It is seldom, indeed, that she will not
accede to the recommendation of her medical attendant, provided he
possesses her confidence, and conveys his request with becoming
delicacy.[24]

"Much knowledge must be acquired during the first vaginal examination. It
is, first, whether the woman be pregnant;[25] secondly, if she be in
labour; thirdly, whether the membranes have ruptured, or are still entire;
fourthly, how the child is presenting; fifthly, how far the labour is
advanced; and, sixthly, the state of the os uteri, vagina, and perineum,
in regard to their distensibility.... She should be also covered by a
light counterpane, or a blanket and a sheet. In this position (lying on
her left side, with the nates brought to the edge of the bed) _the vaginal
examination_ is to be conducted in the following manner:--The attendant,
sitting rather behind her, and having anointed the two first fingers of
his _right_ hand, with some unctuous substance, mostly in readiness, is to
place them on the labia externa; then gently separating these organs, he
must introduce the first finger into the vagina,[26] in the direction of
its entrance, which is backwards and upwards: or he may take the perineum
as his guide, and insinuate his finger within the genital fissure
posteriorly, close to the fourchette. Having introduced it as high as he
conveniently can, he must pronate his wrist, so that the junction of the
first and second finger shall fit in under the symphysis pubis. In this
way he will be able usually to reach the os uteri without difficulty.
Should that organ, however, be situated so high that he cannot perfectly
command it, rather than remain in ignorance of its condition, and of the
presentation of the child, he may introduce the first two fingers of his
left hand, and as these may be passed higher within the pelvis, they will
give a greater facility for inquiry.

"These examinations are commonly made during the urgency of pain; and this
has given rise to the phrase of 'trying a pain.' It is, however,
desirable, on many accounts, that we should not introduce our finger up to
the os uteri at the time when the uterus is acting strongly, because then
the membranes are protruded into the vagina, and if we press against them
at that moment, we may, probably, rupture the cyst, and lose its influence
in the after progress of the labour. Besides, it is impossible, under such
protrusion, to ascertain the presenting part of the foetus with
precision, because of the quantity of water which is then interposed
between our finger and its person.

"Nevertheless, as it is expected that we should examine while the uterus
is in action--and, indeed, as in many cases the patient would not allow us
to pass our finger at all, were it not for the belief that we can 'assist'
her--and that only in the time of pain, it is necessary that we should
request her to inform us when there is a return, and take that opportunity
of introducing our finger within the external parts. Having gained this
advantage, we must allow it to remain inactive in the vagina while the
pain continues; and upon its cessation, which we have seldom any
difficulty in ascertaining, we may direct it up to the os uteri.

"_Frequent examinations should not be made during the first stage of
labour._

"We can do no good by such a practice after we have once gained the
information we require. We cannot facilitate the descent of the child; we
cannot dilate the parts; but we may do a great deal of injury, for we
denude the vagina of that soft relaxing mucus which is designed by nature
to protect it; and we, moreover, run the risk of destroying the integrity
of the membranous cyst. We may, therefore, predispose the parts to
inflammation, and retard the dilatation of the os uteri itself. As,
however, it is a common idea among women that, under each examination,
material assistance is rendered,[27] we shall frequently be urged, during
the first stage, especially if the labour be rather slower than usual, to
remain in close attendance on the patient's person; and these
solicitations are generally advanced with a degree of fervency, that it
appears the extreme of cruelty not to accede to.

"Should this be the case, the finger may be introduced from time to time,
with the greatest care and gentleness; more to pacify the patient's mind,
and assure her she is not neglected, than with any other view beyond that,
and also watching the progress of dilatation. The more rigid the parts
are, the more do they require the softening influence of the natural
secretion, and the more careful must we be to preserve it.... In about an
hour ... we may see her again, and we may then, if we think it right, make
another examination, to ascertain that the labour is proceeding
satisfactorily.


_Duties during the Second Stage._

"The second stage of labour having commenced, we are summoned to the
patient's room, if we have been absent, and told that 'the waters have
broken.' She is most likely found reclining on the bed, and, probably, the
pains are more urgent than they were before; or, perhaps, they are
somewhat suspended. We now require to make another examination, because it
is possible that the head may have fully entered the cavity, and may be
soon expelled. Finding it low in the pelvis, finding the os uteri almost
entirely dilated, the membranes broken, and the pains strong and coming
on frequently, it is right not to leave the room; but unless the perineum
is somewhat on the stretch, we need not yet take our post exactly by the
bed-side. But as soon as the head has come to press upon the external
parts--particularly when it has made its turn, and is beginning to extend
the structures at the outlet of the pelvis, it becomes our duty to take
our seat by the bed-side, and never to move from our position till the
child has passed. This we do to protect the perineum, in order to prevent
laceration.[28]

"_For the purpose of supporting the perineum_ we sit rather behind the
patient, and apply the palm of the left hand--guarded, for the sake of
delicacy, cleanliness, and convenience, with a soft napkin--steadily and
firmly against the perineal tumour. I have already mentioned that the
thighs must be drawn up towards the abdomen, and the legs bent a little
back upon the thighs, and the whole person lying on the left side; and the
patient is usually placed so that her feet may rest against the
bed-post.[29]

"We render the shoulders also another fixed point, so as to steady the
upper part of the body, by tying a long napkin, or a round towel, to the
same bed-post, and desiring her to hold it in her hand. We tell her, when
the pain comes on to press with her feet against the bed-post, and pull
gently at the towel, cautioning her against straining violently. The
consequence is she so fixes her person as to render it almost impossible
for her to jump away suddenly, or to recede to any distance from us.
Independently of this little manoeuvring, when the head is in any
degree extending the vulva the nurse must be required to raise the right
knee to some distance from the other, by which means the thighs are
separated, and an increased facility given to the exit of the head through
the external parts, as well as some control exerted over the patient's
movements.... After having examined the uterus through the parietes of the
abdomen, we must make an internal examination, more perfectly to assure
ourselves in what way the placenta is disposed of. Twisting the funis
umbilicalis around the first two fingers of the left hand, and bringing it
to its bearing, we pass the first finger of the right hand, previously
anointed, into the vagina, as in a common examination. If the placenta be
entirely _in utero_, which, as just remarked, is most commonly the case
immediately after the child's expulsion, we shall either not be able to
touch it at all, or if it be within reach, we shall only detect a very
small portion of it; we may just feel it offering itself at the os uteri;
but we cannot surround its volume, nor can we probably discover the
insertion of the funis.

"_Removal of the Placenta._--There is no part of natural labour which
requires so much judgment as the conduct of the third stage; for the
slightest mismanagement of the placenta may be productive of most serious
mischief, by converting a perfectly natural into a most dangerous and
complicated case. As long, then, as the placenta remains _in utero_, so
long we must wait, within a certain limit--provided there be no
flooding--for those contractions which are to expel it from the uterus
into the vaginal cavity, &c.; while we are thus watching, we shall most
likely be informed of the return of uterine action, by the woman
complaining of two or three comparatively trifling pains affecting the
back and loins. As it is probable that under these pains the placenta may
have somewhat descended, another examination may then be made _per
vaginam_ to satisfy ourselves on this point, &c.

"The removal of the placenta from the vagina is easily effected. Twisting
the funis umbilicalis two or three times around the first and second
finger of the right hand, we draw it down in a line tending towards the
coccyx, and receive it in the left, placed under the perineum; or we may
introduce the two first fingers and the thumb of the left into the vagina,
embrace the mass between them, squeeze it as we would a sponge, and slowly
extract it....

"Having perfectly satisfied ourselves on this point, we may a second time
take away the napkins soiled with the accumulated discharges, and envelope
the lower part of the patient's person in others that are warm and dry.
Three will be sufficient: one must be partially slid under the left hip;
another may be placed over and around the right hip; and the third carried
between the thighs, directly on the vulva, &c....

"Some practitioners adapt the bandage themselves, and apply it immediately
after the placenta has been removed. I think it preferable, in common
cases, to leave this duty to the nurse; and that it should not be put on
until the body linen of the patient is shifted; because, in the first
place, it appears to me more desirable that perfect quietness should be
preserved until the first changes in the uterus consequent upon labour are
effected, that no disturbance may interrupt their progress; and, in the
second, I cannot help thinking that there is something highly indelicate
in its being applied by a man--much more so, indeed, than any of the
duties we are ordinarily called upon to perform under natural labour. It
is of most service when next the skin. It must be sufficiently broad to
reach from the pubes almost to the ensiform cartilage; and it cannot be
properly adapted unless the abdomen be quite uncovered. In addition, I
would remark that the nurse must know very little of her duties, if she
cannot draw a properly contrived bandage round the person, and give it the
due degree of tightness without incurring danger."

The reader of the preceding extracts will have observed that they begin
with a panegyric on the extraordinary powers of nature in adapting means
to an end; which, nevertheless, the author forthwith proceeds to qualify,
as if he had admitted too much, in giving nature credit for the due
execution of her own work, and her capability for enforcing her own laws,
by enlarging on the profound and scientific knowledge required in the
man-midwife, the opinion expressed by the Royal College of Physicians to
the contrary notwithstanding; and in effect impiously detracting the
infinite power and wisdom of God, "who created man in his own image, in
the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God
blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply."

"And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good."

After descanting on the inutility, and even positively detrimental effects
of _active_ interference in natural labour, he warms with his subject,
and, in the course of the three stages by which he limits and defines the
operations of nature in introducing man into the world, enjoins, in
language horribly disgusting from its technical obscenity, an amount of
grossly indecent interference, only to be measured by the credulity and
endurance of his miserable patient. If the maxim of non-interference which
he inculcates holds good, he deceives and wrongs his patient to a most
shameful extent, by permitting and encouraging the delusion that by these
vaginal examinations he can render her "assistance," or mitigate the
sufferings which nature has ordained; and we assert, without fear of
contradiction, that the man who should dare to practise upon the weakness
of women in such a manner, and at a moment when they are least able to
resist his solicitations, deserves the severest condemnation. In all this
foul tissue of verbiage descriptive of the practice in natural labour
there is nothing which a _female_ attendant of the most ordinary
intelligence could not accomplish with the greatest ease, and yet the
nurse, who is generally a well instructed midwife, is scarcely mentioned
at all, and her duties appear to be confined to a trivial and unimportant
after-operation, which the conscientious and sensitive doctor deems an act
of far greater indelicacy than those eight times repeated _examinations
per vaginam_, and other contact with the patient's person, so sedulously
prescribed, and which, in truth, appear to constitute the whole "art," so
far as the treatment of natural labour is concerned. One more extract will
more than suffice to show the nature of this abuse, which we fear is, from
its daily increasing power and influence upon the female mind, becoming
more and more difficult of cure; but which, when considered in all its
hideous bearings, should arouse even the most callous and indifferent to a
sense of its criminality, and cause the hearts of all who reverence
modesty in woman to swell with righteous indignation at the insults which
a vile custom has mercilessly heaped upon the sex:--

"She now, at length, submitted to an examination _per vaginam_, which I
made from behind, as she stood erect by the bed. The finger failed at
first to reach the os and cervix uteri, until, on pressing upwards, as far
as possible, I found the uterus lying transversely, the os higher than the
body, pointing to the right side, and the body of the uterus lodged in the
left side of the pelvis, near the groin, where it seemed to be firmly
fixed. I now made her kneel on the bed, with the head low, so as to
elevate the nates, and cautiously tried through the rectum, as well as
_per vaginam_, to raise the uterus from its position into the median line,
but without success. An attempt on the following day was with no better
result.... After the interval of a month, I made another examination _per
vaginam_, also of the nipples, and found no change in either. After the
interval of another month I found the nipples and areolæ precisely as at
first; but, to my great satisfaction, the uterus had nearly righted itself
in position, and the body of it was rounded and plainly enlarged. The
lady also hinted a suspicion that she had quickened."...

"In this instance my suspicion of pregnancy (which at first was very
slight) rested on the interruption of menstruation alone. The health
improved from the time of quickening, and the pregnancy went on. I may add
that I have no doubt the latero-version of the womb occurred at the period
of the miscarriage;... and that its righting itself, at length, was the
consequence of its increasing bulk."[30]

Such is the practice of man-midwifery! We observe that, in this revolting
case, the disgrace, the shame, the infamy of the poor patient was endured
in vain, and that after all the tentatives, and "manipulations," and
experiments, so perseveringly repeated by the accoucheur, without any
beneficial result whatsoever, nature alone was the true physician.

We will conclude this chapter of horrors in the strong and earnest
language of the late Sir Anthony Carlisle, with the conviction that his
burning words will go right home to the hearts of those who may not
hitherto have given a thought to this fearful violation of the rights of
nature.

"The woman who sacrifices her modesty to fashion, her person to
indignity, and her husband's honour to the sneers and contempt of her male
midwife, is below contempt. She is a disgrace to her sex!

"It is my firm opinion that the practice of man-midwifery compromises the
character and morality of our country. It is demoralizing to society, an
insult to virtuous women, and a foolscap to men. If not checked and
abolished, the pretensions to female modesty, and a respect for the
decorums of society, will eventually be altogether excluded from the
female character."



CHAPTER III.

  "Such devils would pull angels out of heaven,
  Provided they could reach them; 'tis their pride;
  And that's the odds 'twixt soul and body-plague!
  The veriest slave who drops in Cairo's street,
  Cries, 'Stand off from me,' to the passengers;
  While these blotched souls are eager to infect,
  And blow their bad breath in a sister's face,
  As if they got some ease by it."


If the reader views with disgust and horror the above rules of ordinary
practice in _man_-midwifery--and what man is base enough (save an
accoucheur) not so to regard them?--these feelings will be intensified a
thousand-fold by the contemplation of the latest invention[31] of
"obstetric art." We allude to the SPECULUM. The adoption of this
instrument, as we are informed, is now becoming general; and its
employment plunges its wretched victim, woman, down into the lowest deep
of infamy and degradation. We will not pollute our pages by describing its
method of action; suffice it to say, that, to the sense of _touch_,
common to all midwifery practice, is added, in its application, that of
_sight_; exposure the most complete of all which modesty, even in the most
abject of races, invariably conceals.


[Illustration: G. Morant. Inc.

THE SPECULUM]


In confirmation of our own view of this most villanous invention, we will
convict its advocates by the testimony of distinguished members of their
own profession. The denunciations of the speculum, by these
morally-courageous men, addressed, for the most part, solely to their
fellow-practitioners, shall now go forth to be read and pondered on by
every reflecting Englishman who may chance to open these pages.

"We have already exposed, with our utmost vigour, the improper practice
which Drs. Ashwell and Lee so strongly condemned. All we said on that
occasion we repeat now.... To employ it (the speculum), as it is rumoured
certain persons in London have employed it, to attract notice, and place
themselves prominently before the public--to use it merely as a means of
personal advancement--in fact, _to gain practice_--is a crime against the
laws of morality, and treason against professional honour.

"The erroneous and one-sided opinions, which the advocates for the
indiscriminate use of the speculum hold, prove how little they have
presented to themselves the true facts of the case. Dr. Locock, who made
the startling assertion that delicacy ought not to be considered in
matters of disease, and was both for and against the speculum, said, that
he looked into the vagina as he would into the throat. True enough, so far
as _he_ simply is concerned. He would look into the vagina as an ordinary
matter of business, and think _only_ of what, in the course of business,
it might be necessary to do there. But would the _woman_ regard it in this
philosophical light? Is it the same to _her_ whether her tongue is pressed
down with a spatula, or her vagina distended with a speculum? Is _her_
moral state to be left out of account altogether, and are we to treat the
most sensitive organ in her frame as if it was so much inert matter, whose
great use was to be cauterized?

"We do not hesitate to say, that no man, who regards properly his science
and himself, can ever use this instrument without feeling that he is
_driven_ to it; that other means have failed, and that it has become
necessary to adopt additional modes of investigation and of cure. And if
it appear from the inquiries which will, doubtless, now be made--that the
necessities for its employment have been knowingly exaggerated by its
advocates, no condemnation can be too severe for so great a breach of
scientific honour."--_Medical Times_, 8th June, 1850.

"Dr. Marshall Hall describes in the _Lancet_ a new form of hysteria,
connected with and caused by the abuse of the speculum. In his preliminary
remarks, alluding to the manner in which the charge of indecency was
received by one of the speakers at the late meeting of the
Medico-Chirurgical Society, on the ground of the non-necessity of the
exposure of the person, he says, 'But if there be no exposure of the
person, is there, at first, no wounding of the feeling, and is there
afterwards no deterioration and blunting of those feelings by the repeated
daily or weekly use of the speculum vaginæ in the virgin, and in the very
young, even amongst the married?' He declares that there is such
deterioration, and that the female who has been subjected to such
treatment is not the same person, in delicacy and purity, she was before.
Dr. Marshall Hall's declaration on this point is fully confirmed by the
results of experience. The consequences of the abuse of this practice are,
indeed, lamentable. Dr. Hall says he has known cases of the most revolting
attachment on the part of the patients to the practice and the
practitioner. The current of the ideas becomes hypochondriacally directed
to the organs of generation. The very mind is poisoned. A new and
lamentable form of hysteria is induced. The patients become reserved, and
moody, and perverse, and speak unintelligibly in broken sentences; the
peace and happiness of the family are broken up; subjects are discussed on
the domestic hearth which ought never to be mentioned except in the sick
room--words which wound are spoken, and thoughts which are derogatory are
expressed by others, perhaps by the male, members of the family. Dr. Hall
mentions cases in which the speculum has been repeatedly employed, and had
induced this sad, wretched state, and yet no uterine disease existed. He
believes the cases in which the young, and especially the unmarried, are
afflicted, so as really to justify the use of the speculum, to be rare,
and the cases in which the injection of a solution of nitrate of silver,
by the patient herself, may not take the place of the application of this
valuable remedy in substance by the hand of the practitioner, to be rare
indeed. We heartily thank Dr. Marshall Hall for this additional blow at
'the pollution.' It is greatly to his credit."--_Medical Times_, 15th
June, 1850.

"I have no doubt that I was one of a considerable number, who, at the last
meeting of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society (a meeting which will
long be memorable in its annals), wished to express their sentiments on
the subject of the use of the speculum vaginæ, without having what they
deemed a perfect opportunity. I regret that the discussion was not
adjourned to another evening.

"I think the profession deeply indebted to Dr. Robert Lee for bringing
this question forward for discussion. It is not one of mere medical or
surgical treatment, but of medical and public ethics; and I confess myself
astonished at the light manner in which a vaginal examination was spoken
of by one of the gentlemen present at the Society. I think the challenge
of Dr. Bennet should have been accepted at once, and that a committee
should have been, and should now be, appointed to test the existence, or
the non-existence, of the thousand and one 'ulcers,' or 'abrasions,' of
which so much has been said of late.

"The gentleman to whom I have alluded above, huffed the idea of indecency
in making a vaginal examination. There need be no exposure of the person
of the patient. Surgeons make no scruple about an examination of the
rectum (as if the two examinations could, morally speaking, be compared).
But, if there be no exposure of the person, and if the examination of the
rectum be frequently made, is there, at first, no wounding of the
feelings? and is there afterwards no deterioration and blunting of those
feelings by the repeated daily or weekly use of the speculum vaginæ in the
virgin, and in the very young, even amongst the married? I loudly
proclaim that there is such deterioration, and that the female who has
been subjected to such treatment is not the same person, in delicacy and
purity, that she was before.

"I have known cases of the most revolting attachment, on the part of such
patients, to the practice and to the practitioner. I have known them to
speak of the 'womb' and of the 'uterine organs' with a familiarity which
was formerly unknown, and which, I trust, will, ere long, be obsolete. The
current of the ideas becomes hypochondriacally directed to these organs.
The very mind is poisoned. A new and lamentable form of _hysteria_--I had
almost said of _furor uterinus_--is induced, with this aggravation, that
the subject of distress is either concealed by the greatest effort, or
explained at the expense of virgin or female modesty.

"There is a case of 'poisoned mind' in the male sex, induced by the quack
doings of the day, relative to the existence of impotency, which all of us
must have treated and deplored. A similar case of 'mental poisoning' is
now being induced in the other sex, by the frequent, constant, and undue
reference, on the part of the profession, to the condition of the 'uterine
organs.'"...

"One poor, miserable patient comes to me weekly, thus afflicted. She has
been treated by the speculum and the caustic for months, as an out-patient
at University College Hospital. I sent her to Dr. Robert Lee twice. Twice
that gentleman examined, and declared that there was _no_ uterine or
vaginal disease. Meanwhile the miserable patient's mind is absorbed by
this ideal malady, and the peace of her husband's home is destroyed.

"I sent another patient to Dr. Robert Lee a few days ago (whom I had never
seen) under similar circumstances, but moving in a different rank of life.
The same opinion was given, the miserable patient suffering dire
disappointment!

"I recently attended a poor curate's wife, who had come to London for
medical aid, at, as I suppose, great inconvenience. During my short
attendance, this patient was constantly urged by a friend, a titled lady
(the aristocracy always take the lead in quackery), to send for her
physician, who is a strong abettor of the speculum. The course which
followed may be imagined, and need not be described. A case of more
complicated misery for a husband cannot well be conceived. A sickly wife,
afflicted with uterine hypochondriasis, set upon by a titled advocate of
the uterine quackery, with straitened resources.

"The advocates of the speculum speak of cases which had resisted the
efficacy of the usual general and local treatment, and which yielded to
the use of the speculum and the caustic. I have seen cases in which, the
speculum and caustic having been employed--and unduly employed, as I
believe--the patient remained more miserably afflicted in mind and body
than ever, and this the effect of that treatment. Whether the former
supposition be as well founded as the latter, I will not presume to
determine; but I believe the cases in which the young, and especially the
unmarried, are afflicted, so as really to justify the use of the speculum,
to be rare, and the cases in which the injection of a solution of nitrate
of silver, by her own hands, may not take the place of the application of
this valuable remedy in substance, by the hand of the practitioner, to be
rare indeed.

"I will not advert even to the epithets which have been applied to the
frequent use of the speculum by our French neighbours, who are so skilled
in these matters; but I will ask, WHAT FATHER AMONGST US, AFTER THE
DETAILS WHICH I HAVE GIVEN, WOULD ALLOW HIS VIRGIN DAUGHTER TO BE
SUBJECTED TO THIS 'POLLUTION'? Let us, then, maintain the spotless dignity
of our profession, with its well-deserved character for purity of morals,
and throw aside this injurious practice with indignant scorn, remembering
that it is not mere exposure of the person, but the dulling of the edge of
the virgin modesty, and the degradation of the pure minds of the daughters
of England, which are to be avoided." _Dr Marshall Hall in the 'Lancet.'_

Dr. Dickson, an eminent medical reformer, and accomplished surgeon and
physician, formerly on the staff, and now, and for many years past, in
extensive practice in London, says:--

"But of all the medical quackeries that have sprung up in these times,
none can compare with the infamous _speculum_ treatment of certain members
of the faculty, who confine their practice principally to females. No
matter what may be the woman's real complaint--a cough, pain of the side,
or anything else--she is at once assured that it proceeds from 'disease of
the womb.' A pretended examination must, forsooth, be gone through, which,
in every case, is made to confirm the dishonest assurance given in the
first instance. The patient is forthwith victimized, week after week, and
month after month, with a host of operations, for a disease which, in the
beginning, at least, never existed at all, but which is very soon brought
on artificially by the horrible appliances of men, who ride in their
carriages, by this daily and hourly outrage to the constitutions and the
decency of our women."--_The Forbidden Book_, vol. ii. page 195.

Again, in the same work, appears the following letter, under the head of
"Obstetric Quackery in Edinburgh:"--"SIR,--The members of the Town Council
of Edinburgh are the patrons of the University. Most of them are known to
be conscientious men, and keenly alive to all that can affect the honour
and the usefulness of the institution over which they preside. It appears
extraordinary that they should have remained so long unacquainted with the
leprosy which has infected some of the professors; or that they should not
have summarily driven these persons from the chairs they were polluting,
when the fact was discovered.... It is to him (Dr. Simpson) that we
chiefly owe the infinitely more dangerous and disgusting quackery in
midwifery, which rages like a pestilence in London, and in every town and
village throughout the empire, and in some of our most distant colonies.
On the present occasion, it may be sufficient to enumerate the proceedings
to which I allude: To Dr. Simpson we owe the invention of the dangerous
weapon called the uterine-sound or poker--pessaries which have justly been
designated infernal and impaling uterine machines, to cure retroversions
which never existed; instruments for pumping the uterus, to excite
menstruation; and the proposal to rub its inner surface with lunar
caustic, for the same purpose. To him we owe the hysterotome, for slitting
open the os uteri, to cure sterility; and to his efforts, more than any
other individual, we are indebted for the profligate use of the speculum
which has prevailed, and the practice of destroying the os and cervix
uteri with caustic potash. To Dr. Simpson we owe the attempt to revive the
brutal practice of turning in cases of distortion of the pelvis; of
attempting to substitute the Cæsarian operation for the induction of
premature labour; to him we owe the attempt to subvert the established
practice in placental presentation, by extraordinary statistic tables;
and, lastly, we owe to the genius of the Professor of Midwifery in the
University of Edinburgh, the baby-sucker! Are these specimens of what the
_Edinburgh Monthly Journal_ for this month calls 'the simple treatment
taught and practised in Edinburgh, and which, if adopted in London, would
reduce many practitioners from comfort to starvation?' We may well excuse
the members of the Town Council if they are not so dexterous in
_harliquinade_ as the University Professor.--I am, Sir, your obedient
Servant, ISAAC IRONS, M.D. Sept., 1851."

We now proceed to quote the words of "a Fellow of the Royal College of
Surgeons," which appear in a pamphlet entitled, "The Speculum: its Moral
Tendencies." We believe the author to be very well known, both as a writer
in the medical periodicals, and as a skilful and accomplished surgeon. He
says--"Were fame and fortune, however, the only results, were the public
simply gulled, there would be nothing in its consequences to take this
imposition out of the ordinary category. But, unfortunately, this is not
the case. The practices of these men leave results of a far more serious
and lasting character, not to be sought for amongst material things, but
in the lowered and loosened state to which it is rapidly bringing the
morality of the country.

"This is a strong assertion, but not stronger than the facts that support
it. The profession is well aware of the baleful tendency of the
proceedings of these men, whilst they deplore their inability to prevent
or to expose them. Scarcely a member of it whom you meet but has a tale to
tell of their practices, which, if made public, would bring the mighty
from their seats; but there is too much indecency involved in the
disclosure to allow of its publicity. Thus are they doubly hedged; _their
diploma checks suspicion, whilst the nature of their performances secures
them secrecy_.

"To believe in the necessity for this constant and general use of the
speculum, is to admit a sad deterioration in nature itself. Either this,
or that anterior generations were great sufferers without being aware of
it. Perhaps, like the Spartan boy they endured in silence, rather than
betray a want of courage, or, what was more laudable, a want of delicacy.

"But I do not believe in this. I believe the workmanship of the Creator to
be as perfect now as of yore, and that the modern and multitudinous
disorders attributed to the uterine system are wicked inventions put forth
to sanction unnecessary interference. Why, if we are to believe these men,
there is scarcely a patient who applies to them that is not suffering from
one or the other of these numerous affections. The womb, with them, is so
invariably out of order or out of position, that disease and dislocation
are more constant than its normal conditions. Young or old, married or
single, whatever their age, whatever their condition, the same opinion,
the same treatment, varied only in the selection of the instrument. No
matter what the complaint, or what the ailment, the _fons et origo mali_
is declared to be the uterus....

"Nor are these practices confined to the high priests in these temples of
immorality; faith in their professions now pervades a large portion of
female society; like the flame in a stubble field the mania has spread,
the convert quickly becomes the proselyte, and the consequence is, that
some men, in the general practice of our profession, are induced to shape
their treatment less by the nature of the complaints, than the suggestions
of their patients....

"The result of this can be easily imagined; unskilfulness is associated
with fraud. The Speculum is brought into play, and startling are the
revelations made by its glittering wall. Alarmed or amused, no matter
which, the patient is secured, and remains long enough under treatment to
familiarize her with indecency, and to enable the practical hand of the
neophyte to attain the _tour de maitre_, both in handling the instrument
and the fee....

"Then again, these uterine complaints, contrary to the laws that govern
local affections, are made to assume an almost epidemic character, for it
is by no means uncommon to hear that several members of the same household
are under treatment, as they call it, at the same time....

"But besides those whom I have mentioned as abusing the Speculum, there
are others, who, more honest, yet not less dangerous, are, unconsciously
perhaps, contributing their share to this work of demoralization; I mean
that portion of the profession who, unable to form opinions for
themselves, are ready at all times _jurare in verba magistri_, adopting
any practice, provided the example be set in high places.... with these
men one would like to deal charitably; but the best of motives must not be
allowed to compensate the consequences of dangerous acts; THEY MUST NOT BE
ALLOWED TO JEOPARDISE THE MODESTY OF THE SEX, SO LONG THE PRIDE AND THE
PROPERTY OF ENGLAND.

"That an instrument, capable in its application of such wide-spreading
mischief, should possess some compensating good, some power whereby
diseases, hitherto obscure and intractable, should be compelled to render
up the morbid secrets on which they rest, and to take their place amongst
curable disorders, was to have been expected, and had this been so, the
case would stand far differently....

"But unfortunately this is not the case; the diseases here alluded to,
though obnoxious to its application, instead of being benefited are
materially aggravated by its use; take, for instance, the scirrhous
affections, in these cases its use is not only inefficacious, but
positively injurious--it only adds torture to torment....

"Driven, then, from the field of real disease, these advocates of the
Speculum are obliged to invest with a false character ailments that the
profession has hitherto regarded as too trifling to admit of any save the
simplest treatment.... The Speculum has been greatly extolled as the means
of conveying appliances immediately to the parts affected. But it must not
be forgotten that the effects of local remedies in constitutional
affections are short-lived in the extreme, or that those can hardly be
called remedies, that are notoriously so slow in their operation, as to
leave it doubtful whether they have not, after all, been robbing time of
the merit of the recovery.

"That the profession is silent on these abuses is, in my opinion, to be
deplored. Such silence may arise from the fear that the denunciation of
them would tend to lower it in the estimation of the public, more than the
continuance of the abuses themselves. Yielding to none in the desire to
uphold the dignity of my order, I must say that I share in no such
apprehensions. The public in return for the confidence they repose in us,
have a right to such protection, and if they find that it has been
withheld, that, in a mistaken solicitude for our own interests, we have
neglected theirs, they will bind us all up in one common withe together,
and the diploma, though it may still indicate the man of science, will
cease to insure us the position of gentlemen."[32]

The last extract which we shall give appears in the _Lancet_, a periodical
whose very title is behind the age, indicative of professional bigotry, a
record of antiquated fallacy and prejudice. The tide must surely be on the
turn, or the exposure of these speculumizing villainies would never have
been permitted to grace its columns:--

"On the use of the speculum in the diagnosis and treatment of uterine
diseases, by Dr. Robert Lee, the author referred to the tabular statement
of 220 cases of real and imaginary disease of the uterus, published in the
38th volume of the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, and presented in a
similar tabular form the details (of) eighty additional cases, which had
since come under his observation. Of the 300 patients forty-seven were
unmarried, one had barely completed her eighteenth year, several were
under twenty, and the majority under thirty years of age, and were
suffering from hysteria, leucorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, or some nervous
affection of the uterus, without inflammation, ulceration, or any
structural disease or displacement of the organ. In Case 256 the patient
had been told that the womb was prolapsed and much ulcerated, and an
instrument had been introduced for six weeks, with an aggravation of all
the symptoms. The hymen was found so perfect on examination that it was
impossible to reach the os uteri without using an unjustifiable degree of
violence. On the ground of morality, and on every other ground, he could
see no defence for the employment of the speculum in these forty-seven
cases. Of the 300 patients seventy were barren, and the sterility was not
removed, nor the other symptoms relieved in a single instance. SEVERAL OF
THESE INDIVIDUALS SPOKE WITH HORROR AND SHAME OF THE TREATMENT TO WHICH
THEY HAD BEEN SUBMITTED. A considerable number of the cases were suffering
from cancerous disease, in all of which the symptoms seemed to have been
aggravated by the treatment. In Case 236 the character of the disease was
unmistakable, but after an examination with the speculum a favourable
prognosis had been given, and the actual cautery employed for months, and
hopes of recovery held out to the last. The author expressed his
conviction that neither in the living nor in the dead body had he ever
seen a case of simple ulceration from chronic inflammation of the os or
cervix uteri; and to apply the term to states of the os uteri in which the
mucous membrane or, as it is termed by some, the basement membrane, is not
destroyed by ulceration, was an abuse of terms calculated only to deceive
and mislead the members of the medical profession, from whom the truth has
been carefully concealed. The speculum emanates from the syphilitic wards
of the hospitals at Paris, and _it would have been better for the women of
England had its use been confined to those institutions_."--The _Lancet_,
July 25, 1857.

Such is the language of earnest, honourable men, who have dared to dispel,
by the light of true philosophy, the fog of "scientific" rascaldom--that
empiric haze so desolating, so destructive to the inwrapped and blinded
public. Few will deny that there are, in the foregoing extracts,
sentiments which do honour to their authors, and revelations for which
society should feel the deepest gratitude.

Were we to relate the numbers of weak and deluded creatures who, upon the
slightest pretext, submit to this accursed rite, it would appear
incredible. We know that one fashionable pretender to peculiar skill in
the diagnostics of uterine affections, has boasted of five such
examinations in one family in a single day! and that another has spoken of
the exposure of _fifty_ women to his professional gaze in the same space
of time. These are facts--horrible, but undeniable, facts! "O shame! where
is thy blush?" O woman! where is thy vaunted modesty, in a country tainted
by such unspeakable and hideous mysteries, permitted--nay, tacitly
encouraged--as they are, under the hypocritical guise of scientific
discovery, and the pretended mitigation of human ills? Is it possible
that in this age, and in this our land, men should be found so utterly
insensate, so beggared of all feeling, so lost to all the chivalry of
manhood, that, with this libidinous iniquity made patent, they would not
arise, and, in one mighty and overwhelming surge of execration, crush its
perpetrators, and abolish this obscene invasion of marital rights. No!
perish the thought! The azure blood, which throbbed and pulsated in the
British heart in those far off days of the second Richard, when the
indecent outrages of the poll-tax gatherers lashed the people into fury at
their daughters' wrongs, still runs in the veins of Englishmen; and we
will not believe that the halo of purity, which made the homes of "merrie
England" the watchword of our sires, can have departed for ever from those
of their descendants.



CHAPTER IV.

  "The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
  If she unmask her beauty to the moon;
  Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes;
  The canker galls the infants of the spring,
  Too oft before their buttons be disclosed;
  And in the morn and liquid dew of youth,
  Contagious blastments are most imminent.
  Be wary, then, best safety lies in fear."


We have already, in the foregoing pages, quoted the words of Roussel, a
celebrated French physician of the last century, whose delicate and
sensitive mind revolted at the indecency of the practice which had then
but lately been adopted in his country; and before we proceed to quote
more largely from the same author, we think it proper that our readers
should be made acquainted with the character of the man who so lovingly
exerted his great talents to release his countrywomen from the gross
thraldom of designing charlatans and empirical impostors.

Dr. Cerise, in the account of Roussel prefixed to the edition of the
Physical and Moral System of Women, published in Paris, 1855, says: "Among
the celebrated physicians that France has produced, a great number have
distinguished themselves not only by their erudition, but still more by
the elegance of their language, by the elevation of their sentiments, by
the profundity of their conceptions; their names belong to letters and
philosophy, as much as to medicine. Roussel is a member of that glorious
family of Petits, Bordeus, Vicq-d'Azyrs, Cabanis, Aliberts, which, at the
present day, is honourably represented by two writers, Pariset and
Reveillè-Parise. Through them medicine is not only a useful, but it is
also an agreeable science.

"Let us hope, that so illustrious a family will not become extinct, and
that descendants worthy of it will faithfully keep alive the sacred fire,
perpetually threatened by the freezing breath of scientific materialism.

"Roussel was born at Ax, in the department of Ariége, in 1742. His
education, commenced in that town, was finished at Toulouse. His taste for
medical study manifested itself early. He betook himself to Montpellier,
where he profited by the scientific lectures of Lamure, Venel, and
Barthez. These medical studies completed, he was desirous of further
instruction, and came to Paris. He closely allied himself with Bordeu.
This physician, according to the expression of Alibert, was too
illustrious to be happy; the friendship of Roussel consoled his vexations;
but Bordeu soon died, and Roussel had the melancholy commission to
pronounce his funeral elogy. We are assured that love was the genius of
Roussel. "He was still very young," says his biographer, "when this
sentiment was awakened in his soul; it was then that his inspired
imagination began to meditate on the tastes, the manners, the passions,
and the habits of women, and that he made a constant study of their
physical constitution, and of the moral attributes which they derived from
it. He soon arranged the fruits which he had collected, and composed a
body of science interesting as its subject.

"Thus was written _the Physical and Moral System of Woman_. This treatise,
which agreed in its development with a title so imposing, has remained
superior to all those which have been written upon woman, without
excepting the remarkable work of M. Virey, which failed, perhaps, in
eclipsing that of Roussel, solely from its severer method and more
scientific manner of treatment. He soon undertook another treatise,
intended to serve as a pendant to the former. This new treatise, entitled
the _Physical and Moral System of Man_, was not completed, which, judging
from what he had published, is much to be regretted. He caused to be
inserted in the journals of the day, _An Essay on Sensibility_; _An
Account of Madame Helvetius_; a short dissertation, entitled, _Historic
Doubts on Sappho_; some remarks '_On the Sympathies_.' He had commenced a
lengthened work on Stahl, the celebrated head of the medical college,
called _Animist_, but this work remained unpublished; he reviewed the work
of Madame de Staël, upon the Affinities of Literature with Social
Institutions; he applied himself to combat the doctrine of the indefinite
perfectibility of the human spirit, developed by Condorcet, in one of his
most remarkable writings. The problem was then proposed in terms such as
could not afford any satisfactory conclusion--as yet the science of
history did not exist. He wrote upon the right of making a will, which he
regarded as inviolable and imprescriptible; he addressed public
exhortations to political electors, to remind them of their duties and of
their rights; he admired the institutions of Lycurgus, and published a
dissertation on the government of Sparta. It is thus that the empire of
circumstances under which France at present exists dominates over all
minds. Roussel, yet meditating with a tender partiality upon the physical
and moral constitution of woman, could not resist descending into the
arena of political discussion. Thanks to the moderation of his character,
his voice, in the midst of revolutionary storms, was hardly understood,
and his existence was not disturbed.

"Roussel loved retirement and unaffected manners. Traits of a charming
simplicity are related of him. Alibert congratulating him one day on the
marriage of one of his brothers, suggested that he should follow his
example and marry. 'I assure you,' replied the irresolute bachelor, 'that
this idea often occurs to me, but one must go before the priest, before
the magistrate--there is no end to the affair.' There are persons for whom
pleasing and indefinite fantasies have a charm which they love to prolong;
they seem to dread a real happiness which might deprive imagination of its
most smiling visions. Roussel was one of these persons. He was smitten
with a violent passion for a young and beautiful person whom he had
restored to health. Happy, doubtless, in secretly bearing a cherished
image in his heart, he refrained from giving utterance to his thoughts.
One day it was announced that this person was going to be married. 'Ah,'
cried he, '_I am so grieved; I could not have believed it_;' and he shed
abundant tears of regret. He was often sorrowful; in one of these fits of
melancholy, he ran at midnight to a physician of his acquaintance--'My
head turns,' said he; 'I feel myself very ill. I am come to you to implore
your attention.' Imbert reassured him, and calmed his alarmed
imagination. The two friends engaged in conversation, and Roussel forgot
his malady.

"Roussel was good; benevolence, a quality so precious to a physician, was
in him lovely and expansive. When he suffered, study was an asylum for his
grief, a refuge for his afflicted spirit. He found in the joys of the mind
a defence against the sorrows of the heart. His internal agitations
dissipated themselves thus without gall and without bitterness. His
excellence was proof even against evil days. He lived poor, but the
affectionate and delicate hospitality of a respectable family never
allowed him to perceive it. He could, thanks to the care of M. Falaize,
neglect, quite at his ease, both his affairs and his fortune, exercise his
profession with the confident and noble freedom so agreeable to elevated
minds; meditate without interruption upon Plato, Plutarch, and Rabelais,
and withdraw himself, without peril, from those petty torments which
impose themselves under the name of social proprieties. A perfect courtesy
with him was marvellously allied to good nature a little rough, and which
was not without a dash of mischief. Roussel no more sought honours than
fortune. He refused the offer of an honourable employment, made to him by
the Great Frederic. He failed, however, to be called to the legislative
body. He wanted only two votes. Powerful friends had designed him for the
Tribuneship. He declined that honour, urging the weakness of his voice,
and his timidity. Roussel was timid through excess of modesty.

"Roussel was endowed with a delicate constitution. He had been suffering
more than usual for many days, when he quitted Paris to retire into the
country, to M. Falaize, near Chateaudun. Enfeebled by prolonged
sufferings, he soon yielded to the attack of a fever which raged
epidemically in the neighbourhood. He sank under it the second
complementary day of the year X. (1802), aged about sixty years. Roussel
had possessed devoted friends; those who survived him remained faithful to
his memory. Alibert recorded his life with touching eloquence. He did
more; he collected his principal writings, of which some were disseminated
in the journals, and published an edition of his works."

This account of Roussel, brief as it is, will suffice to inform our
readers that he was no ordinary man, and that, from his learning, and long
experience as a physician, his opinions and reflections upon "the
pretended art" of man-midwifery are entitled to the greatest respect.
Those who would ridicule his sentiments, and treat his arguments as false
and visionary, and his ideas as antiquated and unsuited to the taste and
advancement of the present day, are those who, from mean and despicable
motives of self-interest, would confirm the vicious system which Roussel
has denounced, and, while destroying woman's modesty, would erect their
own fortune on its ruins.

Towards the end of the preface to the Physical and Moral System of Woman,
will be found the following sentences, which we would commend to the
serious consideration of every man whose sense of decency has not been
altogether obliterated, and whose mind still retains any of those finer
feelings, which God, when he made man in his own image, implanted in the
human breast. "It is not the same, perhaps, with the abuses introduced by
that art, almost unknown among the ancients, which, under the pretence of
assisting nature in producing man, itself sometimes prevents his seeing
the light, in attempting to do that which she unaided could more
effectually perform; which enervates in woman, by effeminacy and the
needless lengthening out of precautions, the instinct, which alone puts
them in a condition to do without it. In fine, which, by a usage, as
indecently as unreasonably repeated in men's attendance upon women,
enfeebles, and at length annihilates the sentiment which most adorns the
sex. I have made some reflections upon this pretended art in the chapter
which treats of natural labour." Again, in the chapter on pregnancy,
Roussel speaks trumpet-tongued, not only against the indelicacy, but of
the absolute inutility of those digital examinations _per vaginam_ now in
vogue, and so dogmatically prescribed in the text books of midwifery.

"As the instant when a woman conceives does not manifest itself in her by
any well characterized expression, and the consequences of this act remain
for some time concealed by a thick veil, that spirit of unrest which
ordains that man, dissatisfied with the present which he may enjoy, should
ever press on towards that future, which he perhaps shall never see,
induces him to seek with eagerness the as yet hidden signs of pregnancy,
and to question nature long before she deigns to speak. Men might, in this
respect, spare themselves the torments of needless impatience, since it
can neither accelerate nor retard its object. It would be much more in
order to wait patiently until the natural signs themselves announce
pregnancy, than that the tentatives by which it is pretended they are
anticipated should annoy women weak enough to submit to them, without
throwing any more light on the motive which suggests a recourse to them.

"These tentatives are the work of a shameless charlatanism, which
solicits them, and which disports itself with chastity and decency, to
establish its empire upon the ruins of a virtue to which the sex owes its
own most solid foundations.

"We here feel ourselves compelled to inform women, that those whom they
employ at this kind of trials deceive them, in affecting a knowledge which
they do not possess. All information derived from _the touch_ is very
uncertain. The concurrence of external and obvious signs can alone be
reckoned on; such as the increased size of the abdomen, the swelling of
the bosom, preceded by qualms, nausea, and suppression of the menses. But
the most decisive of all, by the actual avowal of all men-midwives, the
sole indubitable proof consists in the movements of the infant, which make
themselves felt towards the fourth month of pregnancy. Thus women can
inform themselves better than any one whether they are with child, and the
men-midwives, who are forced themselves to acknowledge this, ought to
erase from their treatises on midwifery the nonsensical rules which they
give upon _the touch_.[33] To give an idea of the solidity and wisdom of
these rules, I need cite but one, taken from a work of one of the most
celebrated men-midwives. 'When one is called on,' says he, 'to examine a
girl by _the touch_ for some suspicion of pregnancy,[34] one ought at
first to introduce the finger with caution, for fear of deflowering her,
if she was not so.' Is not this the very climax of absurdity to be
willing, upon the simple suspicion of an evil which, perhaps, is
imaginary, to produce a real injury, to expose one's self, for the sake of
knowing whether a girl had committed a fault, to the rendering more easy
to her all those which she might commit in future, by destroying the prime
bulwark which in her opposes itself to vice; in fine, to deflower a girl
in order to discover whether she had lost her virginity?[35] And unhappily
again for the rule, the means which it points out are insufficient to
attain the desired information. It is from time alone that this revelation
may be expected. Three or four months of patience will enlighten you more
than can this dangerous practice, the disgraceful essays of which are
worse than the doubts that they would dissipate. Although the
inconveniences of this practice are not so considerable for women as for
girls, we would never do them the injustice to suppose, that it would not
be painful for them to consent to an examination which ought to humiliate
them in their own eyes, and which must sometimes render them contemptible
in the eyes of others: they should free themselves from this torturing
ceremony, though there was no other reason for it than its inutility for
the object which induces them to submit to it."[36] Again, in the chapter
on natural labour, Roussel says:--

"Final causes, which some philosophers would banish as a barren principle
(which is perhaps true in natural philosophy), are in medicine the
foundation of the most solid truths, which the ancients, and above all,
Hippocrates, have transmitted to us. They have perhaps supposed that it
was too trite and too commonplace to think that the Creator, who presided
at the formation of our bodies, had made the mouth to eat, the eyes to
see, and the ears to hear. We know not if it required much effort and
subtle reasoning to divest them of the first ideas of common sense, but it
seems to us, that they who reject altogether final causes discard perhaps
as much truth as those who have most misused them, for it must be owned,
that certain writers have made a strange use of them. Not to travel out of
the subject which occupies us, we may quote M. Astruc,[37] who alleges
that the coverings of the foetus, in engaging themselves at the same
time with it in the orifice of the womb, serve to line that passage, and
to defend it against the bruisings of the foetus, and _the fingers of
the midwife_. To suppose that nature, in arranging the objects which
should assist delivery, had contemplated the awkwardness of male and
female midwives, is to impute to her a foresight which unhappily would be
only too necessary, but that she had little for the errors that we are
able to commit. She has done all for the best in our favour, so much the
worse for us if we mar her work. _It must be_, said the same author,
_that its face (of the foetus) was turned from the side of the os
sacrum, to prevent its nose from being crushed by the bones of the pubes,
and that it might not be suffocated by the waters of the amnios_. A child
that had been living nine months in water to be suffocated, when passing
out of it, by a few drops! O Astruc! have you well considered this?

"Without, then, ascribing to nature frivolous fears, or confining her to
details which she disdains, we may reasonably believe that after having
alloted to different organs destined to aid in generation, the
modifications most suitable to the conception of the child, and its
preservation during pregnancy, she would afford those also which should,
with the least inconvenience, effect its exit from the maternal
bosom."[38]

After describing the process of nature in parturition, Roussel goes on to
say:--"O Rubens! I leave to your pencil the care of expressing that
touching state in which the last impressions of abated pain still tinge
the serenity of purest joy; where the melancholy, caused by sufferings now
terminating, is not yet effaced by the most delightful sentiments which
can animate the soul; where the dread of losing life, natural enough in
suffering, gives place to the delicious pleasure of having presented it
to a new being. But wherefore must it be, that this state is the price of
a train of inconveniences, and a gradation of suffering often
insupportable; and why are we here compelled to envy the kinds of animals
amongst which pregnancy is without embarrassment, and delivery almost
without a pang, or at least exempt from the sad or fatal consequences
which so often follow it in the human species? It would, nevertheless, be
wrong to tax nature with injustice.[39] We yet find races in whom her
primitive impress has never been effaced by the abuses of a refined
society, and amongst whom women enjoy nearly the same privileges as the
females of animals.

"The women of the Ostiaks, it is said,[40] never have any uneasiness about
the time of their delivery, and take none of those precautions which
European effeminacy renders almost indispensable. They are delivered
wherever they may happen to be without any inconvenience; they, or the
persons who assist them, plunge the new-born infant into water or snow,
and the mother returns immediately to her ordinary occupations, or
continues her march, if on a journey.[41] As these people dwell in the
vicinity of the Samöides,[42] between the fifty-ninth and sixtieth degree
of north latitude, they do not fail to attribute this vigorous
constitution to the severity of the climate.

"Meanwhile, in the same history, we read that the wives of the dwellers in
the island of Amboina, towards the third degree of south latitude, are in
the same category; and the author or compiler of that history, in
reporting the fact, discovers the cause of it in the heat of the climate,
which renders women's members supple and capable of accommodating
themselves with ease to the labours of parturition. One may perceive from
this how versatile are the explanations obtained from _cold_ and _heat_,
and how, in the jargon of mechanicians, causes altogether opposite can
serve with more vraisemblance than actual truth for proof of the same
effect. We repeat again, the effect of manners and custom is not often
enough considered. In all climates nature has given both to man and brute
the faculties necessary for fulfilling the functions of life with ease.
The former has very often perverted their use, believing that
luxuriousness, precautions, and an abundance of all things could supply
their place.

"Without seeking for examples beyond those to which we shall refer, we
might disabuse ourselves of so dangerous an error, if we would compare,
without prejudice, even in our own climate, the women in the rural
districts with those resident in towns. The former, having their attention
continually diverted by their necessary occupations, often find themselves
in the middle of their pregnancy almost without perceiving it, and this is
already a great deal gained. This novel state, without changing anything
in the course of their health, or in their way of living, obliges only
some preparations more necessary for the infant than for themselves.
Arrived at the end of the ninth month (as they are never in a hurry to lie
in) they do not aggravate the troubles which accompany this function by
the anxieties of vexatious expectation. Nature sometimes surprises them in
the midst of the rustic employments in which they are occupied during
their pregnancy, and which only prepare them the better to support those
of labour. Finding in them healthy organs and a calm mind, she operates
without obstruction, and, in consequence, delivers them with less
suffering and more celerity.[43] The consequences of labour, which are, to
the majority of women in towns, in part a real malady, and partly a kind
of etiquette and convention, which subjects them, during a fixed period,
to the regimen of sick persons, when they have ceased to be so, are almost
nothing to women in the country. Nature, having neither caprice nor excess
to combat in them, only occupies herself for their re-establishment; and
as they yield nothing to custom or opinion, they enjoy as much as possible
the favours of nature. They have not time to crawl methodically, during
many weeks, from their bed to a sofa; they have almost always that courage
which increases their powers, and which necessity sometimes gives even to
women resident in towns. Among these even it is by no means rare to see
the wives of poor workmen, who walk to a midwife at the moment of
parturition, and who return the next day free and exempt from accidents,
which the woman of higher rank does not always escape, in the midst of the
studied precautions which are taken on her account; their condition in
life does not permit them to be inconvenienced for more than three or four
days. It seems that nature gives us powers in proportion to the necessity
that we have to make use of them. We have known a young girl who found the
means to conceal from her parents the humiliating signs of her weakness,
and the operation which relieved her from it. As her pregnancy was not
legitimate, she had not the right to be an invalid.[44]

"As for most women in towns, and above all those of the upper classes,
instead of courage capable of annihilating the sentiment of evil, all
concurs to nourish a pusillanimity in them, which renders it more vivid.
The eager curiosity with which they endeavour to find out whether they are
pregnant, the new regimen to which they submit themselves when they are
declared to be so, the preparations, the anxieties, the alarms, real or
feigned, which reign around them, the number of persons who besiege them,
the inaction to which they are condemned, should give them a frightful
idea of their state, and would seem to deprive them of the ability to
make use of their proper powers, and so to render them of no effect. The
feebleness and inertia of their minds, passing to their organs, cannot but
dispose them to a stormy pregnancy, and prepare them for a painful and
sometimes fatal labour. The instinct which watches for the preservation of
our lives, which knows so well how to manage its resources in the most
serious evils, must weaken and lose itself amidst the throng of succours
with which the patients are sometimes overwhelmed. What could it have to
do when so many are acting for it?

"Delivery is an animal function which, in all likelihood, nature had no
desire to render a disease. This function exercises itself almost without
pain and without danger in the brute. In all places where the means of
assisting it have never been reduced to art, women have ordinarily labours
less severe and more fortunate than in those localities which swarm with
accoucheurs and midwives. Whence comes this distinction, if it is not from
the difference of manners and methods of treatment in the one and the
other, or from the abuse which, in the latter places, is made of a
pretended science?

"If the delicacy which results from a luxurious and inactive life renders
the movements of the womb more painful, we should attribute the
irregularity which renders them sometimes fatal to the mother and the
child, to a disordered sensibility, which is excited by attempts almost
always ill-directed, and almost always executed by mischance. It is in
this disturbance that the infant assumes those disadvantageous positions
of which the accoucheurs and midwives unquestionably exaggerate the
danger, to put a higher value on their 'manipulations;'[45] but which, in
effect, render the delivery longer and more laborious: disturbance
maintained and augmented by the embarrassment which the presence of a
number of persons, some dear, others odious, some unknown, who in general
fill the chamber of a woman in labour, must naturally produce, BY THE
TORMENTS OF A MODESTY TOO LITTLE REGARDED, by an air of importance too
much affected, which the assistants, and others who are to operate, throw
over the affair in which they are engaged. All these objects must excite a
variety of sentiments in the woman, which, by distracting her mind,
necessarily disturb the organic action of the parts which should perform
the delivery. Happy is it, if too presumptuous accoucheurs and midwives do
not, by their precocious tentatives, solicit in her a nature which is not
yet prepared to engage itself, precipitate its movements, and consequently
abort the fruit which they ought to await, weary the parts already too
much irritated, and rendered too sensible by the orgasm and tension which
they have suffered, and hurry both mother and child into inevitable ruin.

"Women who have the good fortune not to be annoyed by numerous attendants,
and in whom nothing discomposes nature, are seldom subject to those
catastrophes which, very far from bringing discredit on the operator, who
is often the cause of them, only make him appear the more necessary.
Nature, when she works alone, knows so well how to combine and graduate
her action that she does that only which she ought to do. Ah! why should
she not with ease accomplish an operation for which she has foreseen, and
well prepared everything? Why should she not succeed in extracting with
facility from the centre of the womb, from an active, flexible, and very
vigorous organ, a body which is familiar to it, and which, from its form
and consistence, cannot much injure the parts which it touches? Why should
she be embarrassed in bringing to light an infant whose situation is so
near the outlet through which it is to issue, she whom we have sometimes
seen conducting, without accident, pointed or sharp-edged bodies through
the windings of the urinary ducts, and the tortuous folds of the long
passage of the intestines? There are, besides, operations which she loves
to execute in silence and in secret. This delicate instinct manifests
itself even in some species of animals, which never fulfil certain
functions in presence of witnesses, and fly from the gaze of man to
perform them. Delivery, from its nature, and from all the circumstances
which characterize this function, is one of those which, in the human
species, requires most especially to be covered with a veil. It cannot be
doubted that they would assist her in a way the most efficacious, if the
number of persons in attendance on a woman in labour was limited to two or
three of her most intimate friends, who, by a gay and lively manner,
should divert her from her sufferings, or by their confident appearance
pacify her apprehensions; and to a midwife, whose presence of mind,
patience, reserve, and protection should be a guarantee for her
tranquillity. It is not to be doubted, I say, that a woman would be by
those means more effectually succoured than by the tumultuous assistance
of a number of persons, sorrowful, aghast, impatient, whose multiplied and
often mis-directed attentions magnify in her imagination the evil which
she must endure, and the danger which she fears, and above all by the
awful appearance of a man ever ready to operate, always armed with
suspicious instruments, and to be dreaded from his sex.

"It must be owned that although the midwife's function belongs to the
healing art, it was not intended to be exercised by men.[46] The character
of this function, the small amount of knowledge which it requires, the
entire and absolute confidence which persons of the same sex must
naturally have in each other, in fine, everything demands for it the
agency of women; this employment seems their proper existence; they
possess all the advantages necessary to fulfil it with success. We know
with what address and with what dexterity their hands, small and supple,
glide and insinuate themselves everywhere without annoyance, capable of
penetrating to the very source of the evil without augmenting it, and
conveying the remedy to the part diseased, without awakening, by the act,
pangs which had been allayed.

"It is these precious talents, as well as that delicate attention capable
of divining the wants which there is not strength to express, and that
enlightened sensibility which knows how to regard the very caprices of the
complaint, which gave rise to the proverb, honourable to the sex, that
wheresoever there is a suffering being, his sighs summon woman to console
him.[47]

"They will tell us that long and serious studies, to wit, physics,
mechanics, and even mathematics, are necessary to insure skill in the art
of midwifery. Eh! where is it that they have not introduced, especially of
late, physics and mathematics? All that which is material; all that which
is within the jurisdiction of the senses, belongs, without doubt, to
physics and to mechanics: one could not move a step, one could not lift a
straw, without its being done by the laws of physics; but every one
performs these mechanical operations, as the Bourgeois gentleman did
prose, that is to say, without suspecting it. There are natural mechanics
with which not only all men, but even all animals are acquainted without
having studied them. All perform actions, without having been trained to
them, wherein sparkle the most subtle mechanics; all know of themselves,
and without previous practice, how to assume the most convenient postures
which their different wants demand. Those who compose treatises on
midwifery describe at great length the position which a woman ought to
take during labour, and that which is proper for the accoucheur. The legs
of this latter, say they, ought to describe an angle of _forty-five
degrees_. An operator, to give lustre to his art, may well appeal to that
of mechanics and geometry; but he ought not to say that it is above the
capacity of women. The sole difference which exists, perhaps, between them
is, that a woman, in abandoning herself to her natural dexterity, in
liberating herself from the constraint of a fixed position, and in
effecting the movements which circumstances require, rather than those
which the rule demands, will go about the work better than the man-midwife
gravely moored (_affourché_) at his _angle of forty-five degrees_.

"The art of midwifery, stripped of regulations, useless or of little
moment, and of the frivolous finery wherein it has been arrayed, reduces
itself to a very small number of simple principles,[48] easy to attain,
and most suitable to the capacity of women. They soon learn what are
those faulty positions which the infant may take in the womb: what are
those which they may rectify; and those which, not being remediable, leave
nothing to the address of the operator but the wise resolution to
diminish, as much as possible, their inconveniences.

"Again, it must be considered, that those principles are not to be
applied, excepting in cases wherein nature, insufficient in herself,
demands the assistance of another's hand; for, by the avowal of
accoucheurs themselves, natural labour, which is and ought to be the most
common, can conduct itself without the intervention of art. We may then
conclude, with certainty, that accoucheurs who 'manipulate,' who
instrumentalize us much as they can, most frequently do it without
necessity, and from this cause are prejudicial to the success of the
operation. We may also, in that way, reduce to their just value the
exaggerated details which they give of pretended obstacles which they have
had to overcome, of the address and dexterity which was necessary to
surmount them; details which seem intended to show that the delivery had
been their work, or that, at least, much of it was theirs, and very little
nature's own.[49]

"Either, in the time of the Greeks, women were delivered with greater ease
than now, or they judged better than us of the true degree of influence
that the midwife or the accoucheur possesses in this function. By the
appellation which they gave to their midwives, it appears that they
limited them to the duty of cutting the umbilical cord; they called them
[Greek: omphalotomoi], umbilical cord-cutters. The females of animals
perform this operation with their teeth; and as the umbilical cord can in
their case do without a ligature, there are authors who doubt whether it
is as essential in man as many persons pretend. There are observations for
and against it. This is not the place to discuss this question; but we
believe that they may much deceive themselves if they look upon the
umbilical cord as a simple continuation of the vessels of the child or of
the mother, and not as a fragment of affinity which only serves, for a
certain time, as a point of communication established between the mother
and the infant, that nature retains so long as she requires it, but which
she leaves to decay, and fall away, when it is no longer useful to her.
After the delivery she contracts, compresses, and closes up the part of
the infant to which it adheres; and by intercepting the blood and the life
which gives it subsistence, she soon causes it to wither and dry up,
without any prejudice to the child.

"Although the easiness of the art of midwifery might have been, among the
ancients, a motive for intrusting it to women, they also doubtless had a
regard for natural propriety, which suggested that the infant, on coming
into the world, should be received into the hands of a midwife, to pass
into those of a nurse, and from the hands of the nurse into those of a
governess, who should prepare him to receive from men a masculine
education. A repository so weak and so delicate would perhaps have found,
in the rough and unbending kindness of the latter, aid less adapted to its
state; it required a gentle and yielding support, knowing how to be pliant
as itself, the better to defend it. In fine, the care of infancy is the
destination of women; it is a task which nature has assigned them. It is
woman who must bear the infant during nine months in her womb; _it is
woman who ought to facilitate the means of its exit_; it is woman who
should furnish the first nourishment which it requires; in fine, it is
woman who should keep watch over the first developments of its organs and
of its mind, and prepare it for the lessons which should elevate it to the
condition of man. But the principal reason which, among the ancients,
forbade the belief that the duty of aiding delivery could be proper to any
but women, excepting in cases of very rare occurrence, where every
consideration might necessarily yield to a pressing danger, was the grand
interest of manners.[50] This was an object to which ancient governments
had always special regard.[51] They knew morality to be the foundation of
all legislation, and that good laws would be made in vain, unless good
morals insured their execution. The cruelty of Archagathus' surgical
operations drove the medical men from Rome. She banished also from her
bosom the Greek philosophers and orators, who were accused of having
introduced and cultivated the taste for the arts and vices of Greece. She
would surely not have permitted, for any length of time, the existence of
_an art which, practised by men, would, under the specious pretence of
utility, threaten the sanctuary of marriage_, and which, striking a blow
at the chief safeguard of families, would next attack the mainsprings of
the state; an art which, _with power to alarm the modesty of women, would
soon leave them without a blush_, and cause them to lose even the
recollection of that severe virtue which had merited the respect and
veneration of the Romans, and which of old had been the principle of the
grandest revolutions. Cato, always careful to protect the hearts of the
citizens from corruption, would never have permitted their wives, when
presenting children to the republic, to tarnish the favour by a
forgetfulness of the first of all decencies. All nations were sufficiently
agreed, up to the middle of the last century, never to admit the agency of
men in delivery. M. Astruc[52] alleges that it was not until 1663 that
they began at court to make use of a man-midwife, and this was, say they,
on one of those occasions when honour in danger takes counsel but from the
perplexity which misleads it, and violates one part of its rules to save
the other. Who would believe it? It was shame which compelled recourse,
for the first time, to men. A king, who knew the force of example on the
throne, and who wished to conceal his weaknesses, and to be tender of the
delicacy of her who shared them, believed that he could not place in
better hands an interest so dear. It is thus that Jupiter sometimes
confided to the inferior gods, rather than to the goddesses, his
embarrassments, and the care of concealing from the eyes of Juno the
fruits of his infidelities. Whatever it might be, _unquestionably it was
not in a tranquil moment that a woman could, for the first time, make up
her mind to abandon herself to the mercy of a man to deliver her_. The
first examples having been given by those persons whose rank and condition
carried opinion with them, the usage of men-midwives is since extended
and spread with that rapidity which is common to all inventions of
luxury, although even physicians[53] are themselves forced to expose its
inconveniences."[54]



CHAPTER V.

  "----Mine honour's such a ring:
  My chastity's the jewel of our house,
  Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
  Which were the greatest obloquy i' the world
  In me to lose."


Mrs. Jameson, in her admirable essay, "The Communion of Labour," most
truly observes--"That some departments of medicine are peculiarly suited
to women, is beginning to strike the public mind." Again, in her "Sisters
of Charity," she quotes the following words of the late Dr. Gooch:--"Many
will think that it is impossible to impart a useful knowledge of medicine
to women who are ignorant of anatomy, physiology, and pathology. A
profound knowledge, of course, would not, but a very useful degree of it
might--a degree which, combined with kindness and assiduity, would be far
superior to that which the country poor receive at present. I have known
matrons and sisters of hospitals with more practical tact in the detection
and treatment of disease than half the young surgeons by whom the country
poor are commonly attended."[55]

"Perhaps," says the author of "Women and Work," "there is no profession
which so calls for women as that of medicine. Much suffering would be
saved to young women if they had doctors of their own sex, who, with
friendly counsel and open speaking, would often prevent many forms of
severe disease by attending to first symptoms."

Elizabeth Blackwell,[56] one of those noble women who, braving the servile
conventionalisms of the world, with right and reason, morality and
religion on their side, have triumphed over prejudice and bigotry, by
firmly establishing themselves as female physicians[57]--in "an appeal on
behalf of the medical education of women," after referring to the
establishment and opening of medical schools for women in Philadelphia,
Boston, and other towns of the United States, in the nine years since "the
first woman was admitted as a regular student to a medical college, and
graduated with the usual honours," says:--"In all these places public
opinion has expressed itself heartily in favour of the action of the
colleges. The majority of the female graduates have entered upon the
practice of their profession, and many of them have already formed a
large and highly respectable practice. The intense prejudice which at
first met the idea of a female doctor, is rapidly melting away. If further
evidence were needed of the vitality of the new idea, and its adaptation
to a real want in the community, it might be found in the character of the
practice which has come to those physicians now most firmly established.
Intelligent, thoughtful women, of calm good sense, who appreciate the wide
bearing of this reform, and foresee its important practical influence,
have been the first to employ the new class of physicians in their
families, and encourage them with their cordial approbation."

Dr. Dickson says, in "The Destructive Art of Healing:"--"One of the
greatest obstacles to the progress of medical truth in England, is the
employment of surgeon-apothecaries as midwives--almost entirely
monopolizing the practice of medicine by the influence which they have
gained over the minds of our women; these people will countenance no
physician who does not prescribe large quantities of useless, and too
frequently deleterious medicine.

"The ladies of this country should take a lesson from the American ladies,
who not only prefer midwives of their own sex, but actually employ female
physicians. Female modesty and morality alike require that the diseases of
women should be attended to solely by women; and all through the United
States you now meet with regularly-bred female physicians, most of them
having the degree of M.D. from a university, and many of them being in the
enjoyment of large and lucrative practice.

"We have the pleasure of an acquaintance with Mrs. Dr. Longshore--she is a
lady possessing a strong and original mind, close powers of perception and
reasoning, and a thorough medical education. As a practical anatomist she
has few superiors, even among practitioners of the 'sterner mould.' Mrs.
Dr. Longshore is 'a Friend,' and her whole character is marked by the
excellencies of the 'Friends,' or Quakers, as they are called. Placid,
thoughtful, observant, full of sympathy, and governed by an active
benevolence, she delights in doing good. Her practice is large, rapidly
increasing, and generally successful, and she is devoutly attached to her
noble profession....

"Medicine and midwifery are both domestic arts; woman is all but born a
doctor. Ladies of England, think of this. Hitherto you have left the field
of 'labour' to men who would be better employed with your distaffs and
spindles. Mothers of England, you have a mission--fulfil it; proclaim to
your daughters that the birth of a child is not a surgical operation, but
a natural process; and that there is no case of parturition so difficult
that may not be better managed by a well instructed woman than by a man,
whose very presence in the sick chamber disturbs the uterine action, and
causes the greater number of difficulties that occur in such cases."

"In a country like England, to clear away a given folly is too often,
unfortunately, only to make room for some other folly equally egregious.
This, in our day, has been the case with medicine. Just as a considerable
number of physicians had come to adopt my own view of the true
constitutional origin of diseases, up sprung a class of people who will
have it, that in the majority of female complaints, at least, there must
ever be more or less of _local wrong_, which no possible constitutional
treatment can cure! Whispering mysteriously the words 'engorgement,'
'tumour,' 'inflammation,' 'ulceration of the _os_,' 'version,' and
'retroversion'--phrases for the most part invented for the mere purpose of
striking panic into the hearts of families who must ever be in the dark
_here_--these men straightway confine the patient to her couch--in which
unnatural position they keep her for months, and, if possible, for years
together--during which they subject her to the most odious treatment;
performing, with speculum, caustic, and other dangerous appliances, the
most daring and indecent operations....

"By the people to whose practices I have just alluded a woman is told all
possible and impossible things--things the most frightful that imagination
can conceive--to cure which, forsooth, she must lie on her back for
months. And if this oracular sentence be enforced by two or more of their
number, acting in consultation--anglicè in _collusion_--the weak creature
believes accordingly. From that moment she is the dupe and the victim of
the most unprincipled scoundrels, many of whom, by mixing up religion with
their medical cant, contrive to bring some of the richer class of women to
such a state, that they become annuities to those impostors throughout the
greater part of their most unnatural and most miserable lives....

"If, in common with these medicines, then, every medicinal force will
produce its own peculiar _local_ effect, _when swallowed by the mouth_,
why, in the case of 'uterine disease,' of all others, should any woman
submit to the local application of any remedy that cannot be used thus
without the odious manipulations of the persons whose conduct every right
mind, when properly instructed, must deprecate?

"But, as a matter of fact, these manipulations, so far from curing any
disease of the womb or its appendages, have actually set up in the sound
structure a very large share of the possible diseases for which these
people pretend to apply them; and some of the disorders thus set up too
frequently cease only with the life of the victim. Men of England! if you
only knew what your wives and daughters needlessly--mark that
word!--_needlessly_ experience at the hands of those ruthless cheats, your
brows would burn with shame and indignation. How such brutality as these
creatures practise ever came to pollute our shores, is one of the miracles
of the times. A proper feeling in the minds of our women should have
preserved them from the humiliation and torture to which they have been
subjected; while Englishmen of all ranks should have united, long ere
this, to expel from the land the sordid wretches who first introduced the
grossness and indecency of the hospitals of Paris to the houses and
hearths of a too-confiding nation!"

Again, the Author of "Physic and its Phases" brands these counterfeit
professors with infamy in racy and vigorous verse:--

  "Men, are you men--who lead such hybrid lives,
  Who, being surgeons, sink into midwives?
  If with the sex you seriously would vie,
  Why not the distaff and the spindle try?
  Throughout the Orient, Arab, Turk, and Jew
  On such occasions, never send for you;
  Not even the Nubian, by the harem door,
  Dare show his face, until the birth is o'er.
  Talk of the sanctity of married life--
  Nation of fools! who thus degrade the wife!
  At such a moment, when the feminine mind
  Shrinks from the succour of her nearest kind,
  Could you do worse, were she a courtezan,
  Than to her chamber introduce a man?
  No longer left to woman's gentle care,
  Travail is now her terror everywhere.

         *       *       *       *

  Once in the sick room, with an eye to fees,[58]
  Tales they get up of uterine disease;
  Disease, the realms of Physic never knew,
  Till 'speculating Simpson' gave the cue;
  And, working thus on woman's weaker nerves,
  They raise whatever ghost their purpose serves.
  Then, not the young alone, but graver dames,
  Fooled by mere phantoms with un-English names,
  Endure 'examinations'--Ladies, speak!
  Do these not shock the soul and blanch the cheek?
  Surprise comes first--next horror, ill disguised,
  But soon to worse some get familiarized!
  For what will trusting woman not believe
  And bear, when 'scientific men' deceive?
  With no suspicion of the game these play,
  Their tales of terror haunt her night and day.
  Now she dreads 'tumour,' now 'occlusion,' now
  'Version' she talks of, with a 'why' and 'how.'
  Reasons, of course, and numberless occasions,
  Have these quick rogues for their 'manipulations.'
  But who--immortal truth!--can justify
  The frightful means they locally apply?
  Caustics, that keep their patients always ill,
  Yet ever ready to indorse their skill;
  While abscess, ulcer, hæmorrhage itself,
  Attest what men may CAUSE for love of pelf.
  Note the result--whatever the pretext,
  In soul, at least, the woman is unsexed;
  Words that of yore would make her forehead flush,
  She now blurts out to men without a blush!
  Heavens! how can husbands, fathers, brothers lend
  Their countenance to such an odious end!
  In all the _animal_ kingdom, where or when
  Were such things needed--tell us, Englishmen!
  Of 'base chirurgery' let the world take heed,
  For this is base chirurgery indeed!"

Dr. Ewell, in the introduction to his _Letters to Ladies_, says:--

"The serious object of my present solicitude is to wrest the practice of
midwifery from the hands of men, and transfer it to women, as it was in
the beginning, and ever should be. I have seldom felt a more ardent desire
to succeed in any undertaking, because I view the present practice of
calling on men, in ordinary births, as a source of serious evils in
child-bearing; as an imposition upon the credulity of women, and upon the
fears of their husbands; as a means of sacrificing delicacy, and
consequently virtue; and as a robbery of many good women of their proper
employment and support.

"Several observing moralists have remarked that the practice of employing
men-midwives has increased the corruption among married women. Even among
the French, so prone to set aside the ceremonies between the sexes, the
immorality of such exposures has been noticed. In an anecdote of Voltaire,
it is related, that when a gentleman boasted to him of the birth of a son,
he asked who assisted at the delivery; to the answer, 'a man-midwife,' he
replied, Then you are travelling the road to cuckoldom! The acutely
observing historian of nature, Count Buffon, observes, virginity is a
moral quality which cannot exist but with purity of heart. In the
submission of women to the unnecessary examinations of physicians,
exposing the secrets of nature, it is forgotten that every indecency of
this kind is a violent attack against chastity; that every situation which
causes an internal blush is a real prostitution....

"But the opposition, the detestation of this practice cannot be so great
in any husband as among some women. The idea of it has driven some to
convulsions and derangement; and every one of the least delicacy feels
deeply humiliated at the exposure. Many of them, while in labour, have
been so shocked at the entrance of a man into their apartment, as to have
all their pains banished; others, to the very last of their senses,
suffering the severest torments, have rejected the assistance of men. To
be instrumental in relieving one of this truly interesting class, will be
a heavenly consolation to all who can be alive to the pleasures of serving
the virtuous."

Dr. Beach, in his work on Midwifery, has the following:--

"Who shall officiate in parturition? In consequence of the practice which
prevails in the present day, this has become a grave question. The
physician contends, with much zeal, that it is his province to officiate.
Females, he alleges, are incompetent; and these assertions of physicians
have influenced the minds of females to such an extent, that they are
forcibly impressed with the belief that there are no others competent; and
when it is proposed to many women to employ a midwife, they appear to
shrink with horror, and many even suppose that in trusting themselves to
the most accomplished female accoucheur, they jeopardize their lives....

"The physician takes it for granted, and even boasts, that if he can
attend one single case of midwifery in a family, he has _for ever after_
secured their patronage; so that both interest and prejudice operate as
obstacles and barriers to any improvement or change in the practice; and
although the most fearful consequences have (occurred), and are still
daily occurring, modern females cling to this unnatural practice.

"Notwithstanding, however, the existence of the above obstacles, we are
well assured that females, if rightly qualified, are not only as fully
capable as men, but are even more so; and, therefore, the most valid and
conclusive reasons may be assigned why a reformation should take place in
this department of the practice. What more conclusive than the fact of the
actual attendance of women in child-birth in all nations, previous to the
sixteenth century; and the attestation of competent persons during the
first century of man-midwifery to the fact, that not half so many fatal
cases occurred before as after the innovation. And, in the first
settlement of this country (America), when females[59] attended
exclusively on such occasions, it was as rare a fact to hear of a woman
perishing in child-birth, as it is now to hear of an Indian or an animal
perishing in labour, who are delivered by the unaided powers of nature."

A letter, addressed by Sir Anthony Carlisle, late President of the College
of Surgeons, to the late Sir Robert Peel, on the attempt by some members
of the medical profession to legalize man-midwifery, is well worthy of the
perusal and consideration of our readers. The letter appeared in the
_Times_ newspaper, and raised a ferocious howl from the men-midwives; but
the ever gullible British public looked upon the affair as a mere medical
question in which it had no concern, and the howl carried the day against
reason, morality, and truth:--

"SIR,--The high ministerial station which you deservedly occupy, must
often expose you to the various kinds of applications respecting the
condition and management of our national institutions, and also to
personal or partial interference about their several real or pretended
interests. In all such instances you must perceive the fairness and the
ultimate advantage of preferring direct information from the respective
constituted authorities, of requiring advice from rival institutions upon
doubtful measures, and of regarding with jealousy the private
communications of interested individuals. It is, however, reported that
you are, at this time, beset upon the subject of introducing an ordeal for
licensing men-midwives, by certain members of the London College of
Surgeons, and that you are urged by popular men (whose wisdom and
disinterestedness may be questioned) to favour their scheme with your
powerful influence.

"As the prevalent vice of avarice may have some share in this professional
movement, it is fit that you and the public should be acquainted with the
probably concealed effects of granting the solicited privileges; and, for
the reasons already given, I am induced to address you through the press.

"Man-midwifery has only been practised in England during the last hundred
years, and it was introduced as a French fashion. From the beginning it
has been strongly opposed on the score of its indecency, by many
distinguished and scientific medical men; and also, because the birth of
mankind appears to them to be a purely natural process, so wisely ordered,
that it very rarely demands any other aid than experienced mothers can
safely give. Even so late as the illustrious mother of his present
majesty, that exemplary Queen was personally attended by good Mrs. Draper,
without difficulties or misadventures; whereas the contrary result, under
male management, in the fatal affair of the Princess Charlotte and her
infant, will be long remembered.

"If it should be asked why so many professional men addict themselves to a
degrading vocation, it may be answered, that the practice of man-midwifery
leads to unlimited power in every family, and thence to lucrative ends.
Women, naturally timid, and ignorant of their own structure, are
peculiarly exposed, during the most important office of their existence,
to the persuasions or menaces of more knowing persons, and they are thence
easily made to believe, that the natural and wholesome delays and pains of
childbed are within the controul of medical or surgical art--an assumption
which is too generally acted upon, and with unvarying evil consequences;
because it is a violation of the ways of nature. Men-midwives have
continually alleged that ignorant women practitioners commit many fatal
mistakes, and now they present similar objections against unlicensed men.
If, as I believe, the safeguards of child-bed are amply provided for by
nature, and that not one instance in a thousand calls for any other help
beyond what any moderately experienced woman can give, why are we to
license adventurers, who may seek notoriety by desperate acts, often
involving manslaughter--operative acts, the moral propriety of which is
very doubtful, and the time and the methods for performing them still
subjects for rancorous disputes? But the present affair is not respecting
the utility of men-midwives, but the impropriety of empowering any special
corporate medical body to coerce the rest; to further impede
female-midwives in a becoming duty, and to deprive delicate women of that
great resource of self-respect. Already the prevalence of man-midwifery
has driven country surgeons and apothecaries to adopt this humiliating
office, and the number of women practitioners has been thence so reduced,
that paupers are in many places delivered by apprentice boys under sixteen
years of age. The Royal College of Physicians in London, who rank the
highest for learning and decorum, have lately rescinded their admission of
licentiates in midwifery, whether for considering the practice as
derogatory to a physician, or as an overweening privilege towards females
and children, is not avowed; but it seems that no London physician,
educated at Oxford or Cambridge, has yet condescended to be a man-midwife.
The Royal Colleges of Surgeons in London, in Dublin, and in Edinburgh,
have likewise hitherto renounced every connexion with man-midwifery.

"The teachers of midwifery are indiscriminately doctors and surgeons; but
at this moment the majority of lecturers and superintendents of lying-in
charities are physicians, while a multitude of legally appointed
sub-physicians (styled apothecaries) are equally entitled, with the other
classes of the faculty, to establish tribunals for examining and licensing
candidates for man-midwifery, if they should deem it expedient. Finally,
it may be noted, that the different classes of men-midwives have never yet
agreed among themselves to adopt a common ordeal for certifying the
qualifications of their calling, and you may be assured, Sir, that many
worldly interests will rage against the establishment of any monopoly of
this kind in any single institution, because man-midwifery is the covert
way to medical fortunes. If, however, the greediness of a few individuals
should expose this subject to free discussion, and the judgment of married
men and modest women should be copiously awakened, perhaps the general
custom of employing women may be again resorted to, and their competent
instruction publicly enforced.

"It is said, that our changeable neighbours at Paris are already tired of
their fashionable freak; and when our countrywomen reflect, that not one
in ten thousand of their sex throughout the globe allow of the presence of
a man during the rites of child-bed, they may acquire courage, and unite
their efforts to replace the routine of midwifery among themselves. I will
not offend you and the public by any observations upon the outrageous
stories collected on this occasion, to prove the violent and fatal
injuries committed by unlicensed men-midwives, because I think the
privilege sought for would increase those evils.

"With the greatest respect, I have the honour to be, your very obedient
Servant,

  "ANTHONY CARLISLE.
      "_Langham-place_, Feb. 19."

"In a recent number of the _North British Review_ appeared an excellent
article on 'The Employment of Women;' under the head of women doctors, the
writer says: 'But the something practical--where is it?' We believe that a
great deal, which is very practical, is scattered over this article. But
we have still some further suggestions to offer. Not very long ago, a
statement 'went the round of the papers,' to the effect that there were
already eight diplomatized female physicians practising in Boston (U. S.),
and that there were thirty-eight students in the Female Medical College.
'Whenever,' says an American writer, 'there are sufficient data to
establish the truth (now little if at all disputed in America), that
child-birth is freed from its worst difficulties and dangers when the
unnatural presence of men is dispensed with, the medical and surgical care
of women and children will pass into the hands for which nature designed
it.' There would appear to be nothing very unreasonable in this, but, on
the contrary, something extremely rational and hopeful. But see how the
facts stated above are received by the faculty in England. The leading
medical journal of this country thus comments upon them:--

"'Female physic thrives apace in America. At Boston, where Columbia gave
birth to the young Constitution, which is now sowing its wild oats
broadcast, there is a female medical college, numbering thirty-eight
students. A grant of government money has also been voted towards
establishing a similar institution at New York. This is to be under the
immediate superintendence of Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D., late of St.
Bartholomew's, with a bevy of those spinsters mentioned by Shakespeare as
free "maids who weave their threads with bones" for anatomical
demonstrators.

"'At Boston, moreover, there are eight doctoresses with diplomas in full
practice. We suppose some of these female physicians are married, and this
involves a great social mystery of which we have as yet received no
account. When the Mrs. M.D.'s are attending to patients in their boudoirs
of consultation, or pointing out pathological nicknacks in their
anatomical drawing-rooms, or going their rounds with stethoscopes in their
bonnets, what are their husbands doing? Do they superintend the
perambulators, or are these hitched on to the professional broughams of
their mammas? Is it a part of the husband's marital duty to manage the
nursery--in short, to attend to the domestic affairs generally? Perhaps
matrimony is ignored altogether. Indeed, we do not well see how a
conscientious doctoress could promise to love, honour, and obey a husband
who might order her to give her patients a dose of strychnia all round.'

"Surely this is not the way to deal with so grave a question. Argument
must be wanting, or the sneer would not be resorted to by so distinguished
an authority. The same questions as are here put might be employed also to
write down any description of independent female labour. When women go out
to teach drawing or music, or when they attend to shops, or make caps and
bonnets, gowns or mantles, what, it may be asked, are their husbands
doing? Attending to their own business, if they have any, or living on
their wives' earnings, Mantalini-like, if they have not. We do not mean to
say that there are no practical difficulties in the way of the effectual
working of this scheme. Objections will readily suggest themselves; but
they are not insuperable objections. All women may not be fit for such
work. But all men are not fit for it. Many women will lack the necessary
amount of nerve; but many men lack it also. In difficulty and danger women
have great presence of mind. They are often calm and collected where men
are unhinged and unbalanced, and incapable of exertion. Women have more
tenderness and more patience, and they must necessarily understand many
female ailments better than men. They will always have one great advantage
over male practitioners--female patients will be more unreserved in their
communications to them. Many women have been sacrificed to their
delicacy--to their repugnance to state fully their ailments to
men-doctors; perhaps even to call them in until it is too late. Let such
objections as these be fairly balanced against those which may be adduced
against female practitioners, and let us calmly consider the average
result.

"We do not pretend to know, under the existing order of things in Great
Britain, what proportion of children are annually brought into the world
without the assistance of any male practitioner. But we know that in
humble life it is very common to employ only a nurse or midwife. And we do
not believe that, under such circumstances, more dangerous cases of
parturition occur than where men are professionally employed. But if such
were the case, if the number of deaths or injuries were proportionately
greater, no argument could be derived from the fact against the employment
of educated and diplomatized women. If, in the present state of things,
accidents arise from the absence of men, it is not on account of the sex,
but on account of the ignorance of the practitioner. The same amount of
knowledge, as indicated by the diploma, existing in both cases, we cannot
help thinking that the advantage, in most cases, will be on the side of
the female attendant.

"We might pursue this subject much further; but time and space have alike
narrowed to a small compass, and we have by no means exhausted our notes.
In the early part of this paper we have touched on the subject of nurses,
but rather in connexion with amateur than with professional labour. Many
women of a better kind might find profitable employment in this path of
life; and if licenses, or diplomas of an inferior class, indicating a
certain amount of medical and physiological knowledge, were granted to
them, the business would not be beneath the adoption of women of birth and
education. _But here again, perhaps, the jealousy and selfishness of men
would step in and thwart our efforts; for the presence of such educated
nurses would often render it wholly unnecessary to call in a regular
practitioner at all."--North British Review_, No. LII. page 333.

"Among the highly civilized and numberless ladies and women of China[60]
and the East," says Sir Anthony Carlisle, "ordinary matrons are
universally employed in the sanctuary of child-birth: and they would
revolt with horror from any proposal to admit the presence of a man." This
statement, coming, as it does, from such a high authority, when inveighing
against the needless outrage upon the modesty of women, which we commit by
the employment of men-midwives, cuts from under them the argument of the
interested professors of "the art," who would have us believe, that
British women, from the peculiarities of the climate, and a high state of
civilization, are more liable to accident and danger in the parturient
state, than the women of those countries in which the _fashion_ of
man-midwifery is unknown.

Even Roberton, one of themselves, is compelled to admit, that any argument
based upon climatic influence is fallacious, and easily capable of
disproof, for he says, in his apology for the study of midwifery as a
science:--"In reply to such a statement as this (Sir Anthony Carlisle's),
it has been common to argue that, in warm countries, the parts concerned
in admitting the passage of the child are so relaxed, that labour becomes
comparatively easy; and that hence we are to account for the nonemployment
of accoucheurs. This is a very false view of the subject. In warm
countries, whose inhabitants live after the same manner as ourselves,
parturition is in no degree easier than it is here. In the town of Sierra
Leone, so near the equator as latitude 8° north, we are assured by Dr.
Winterbottom, who resided there, that having been present at a number of
labours, they in every respect resemble those of women in the same
situation of life in England. "I have met," says he, "with instances in
England where the foetus was expelled with more ease than I ever knew it
to be at Sierra Leone."...

"The prophetical writings of the Old Testament furnish many allusions to
painful parturition. The Jews inhabited a warm climate; and yet, were we
to judge of parturition among them from the frequent reference the
prophets make to it in figures and similes, when predicting the sufferings
to be produced by impending judgments, we should conclude that in no
people was nature's sorrow more severe. Thus, Jeremiah, the coming
miseries of Judah passing before his vision, exclaims:--'I have heard a
voice as of a woman in travail, and the _anguish_ as of her that bringeth
forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion that bewaileth
herself, that spreadeth her hands.' A multitude of passages containing a
similar allusion might be cited. In the historical part of the Scriptures,
too, there is incidental mention of several cases in which parturition
proved fatal. So much for the relaxing influence of a warm climate! a
notion which, like various others respecting the influence of climate on
the human system, is at variance with facts."

Among the myriad peoples inhabiting the vast Continent which, in the
aggregate, we term India, men-midwives are unknown. There have been, no
doubt, attempts made by Europeans to introduce the abominable custom, but
we believe, excepting in some of the towns most frequented by them,
without any considerable success. As the inhabitants of Tahiti, and the
isles of the Pacific, once the abode and very Paradise of nature in her
glorious perfection, have found to their cost, so we fear in all other
portions of the world's surface, where our boasted civilization has set
its foot, the evils which accompany its progress invariably take
precedence, and largely preponderate over its advantages. Wherefore
should we add to the primal curse fulminated against woman, irrespective
of locality or race, "in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children," a far
greater one in the ruin of her modesty, by the introduction of man into
the sanctuary hallowed by his absence from the beginning of the world. O
ye fine ladies of England, who talk so glibly of all the virtues, and
blazon your moral excellencies before the nations! if ye will not take
example from the highly civilized and numberless ladies and women of China
and the East, learn from the poor savage, in whom, though doomed to the
lowest grade of earth's inhabitants, there yet glows fresh from Heaven,
like a pure star gleaming through the night of heathenism, that loveliest
attribute of woman--modesty. Over that mysterious rite which God has
confided to the female sex, the rude, wild, cruel, ignorant, uncivilized,
naked, idol-worshipping natives of New Holland, throw a veil impenetrable
to man. Roberton says, page 480, "Among them (the New Hollanders) a man is
not permitted to approach where parturition is going on." There are,
however, rare and beautiful exceptions to that accursed fashion which now
so debases the women of this country; for we have undoubted authority for
stating that "there are ladies, and ladies of rank, titled ladies, who
would not let a man near them." In these bright examples propriety still
finds a refuge; in their chaste minds the light of reason and refinement
shines with a fair and unsullied ray amidst the gloom of apathetic
indecency, which shrouds in its cold and clammy cerements so many of their
sex. All honour to those true-hearted women who so proudly uphold their
native modesty, their sex's loveliest charm, above the rank pollution
which, in these sensuous and degenerate days, infects the sanctuary of
marriage.[61]

Among the Jews, the peculiar people, guarded and preserved so wondrously
by the Providence of God, from the day that Israel went down into Egypt
with three score and ten souls, until they had multiplied "as the stars of
the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore," no such
violation of decency was permitted or required to insure the fulfilment of
God's promise to Abraham. We learn that females were regularly authorized
and appointed as midwives, for the Sacred writings give us the names of
two of them: "And the King of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of
which the name of the one was Shiphah, and the name of the other Puah: and
he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see
them upon the stools: if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be
a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not
as the King of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men-children alive. And
the King of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye
done this thing, and have saved the men-children alive? And the midwives
said unto Pharoah, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women;
for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied and
waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God,
that He made them houses." We know also that there were physicians in
those days, for "Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm
his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel." Now, it is most certain
that if the great protecting power of the Jews--the father of his people,
had deemed it necessary or proper, for the safety of mothers or of
offspring, to afford any assistance beyond that which nature and the
midwife supplied, it would have been so ordained, and as surely mentioned
by the great historian and leader of the Israelites, or by some other of
the sacred writers; but of this there is no sign whatever, and we must,
therefore, infer that this innovation was not so much as thought of by the
Jews, highly civilized and vicious people as they were, and that it was
reserved for us, in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, to permit
such a scandalous breach of decorum as the prostitution of our wives to
the impure touch of a _man_-midwife. Roberton says, in his Apology--"But
an objector will ask, cannot a matron practise these expedients? and if
so, where is the use or propriety of such a class as men-midwives? I
reply, doubtless a matron may practise many of the expedients referred to,
if they have been taught her. It is of the value of midwifery as a
science, originating with and practised by men, compared with matron or
uncultivated midwifery, of which I have been speaking. A certain
proportion of instructed female midwives in a community may, for aught I
know, be a benefit." Let the reader mark, learn, and inwardly digest these
words! Here is the admission of an accoucheur of the present day,
confirming the words of Roussel, and the many other authorities whom we
have quoted, as to the fitness of women for the practice of the expedients
necessary in midwifery, and, further, a most important acknowledgment, as
coming from one of his class, that females, properly instructed as
midwives, would be a benefit to society. To be sure they would! Who doubts
it? And is there not enough of wealth, and energy, and right feeling in
England to say--We will that there shall be in every community properly
instructed midwives; we will that there shall be organized, in all our
great towns, schools of midwifery for the instruction of women,[62] who
shall go forth from them fully competent in "nine hundred and ninety-nine
cases out of every thousand," to perform that office which is now, from
their sex, so indecently performed by men. The instruction of midwives has
nothing of novelty in it: women are so instructed in the Dublin Lying-in
Hospital, at this day, and we believe[63] that they are so instructed at
Manchester and in London; they "walk the hospital," as the term is, for
six months, and at the end of that time they receive a "diploma;" but
there is a jealousy on the part of the accoucheurs, who fear, naturally
enough, that their trade (a very lucrative one[64]) might be injured if
these women should assume too much responsibility, and the consequences of
this jealousy[65] are injurious to the full and complete instruction and
competency of the "nurses."[66]

These nurses are very much in the power of the accoucheurs, for it is
principally through the latter's recommendation that they obtain
employment, at least among the upper classes, and the evils which arise
from this state of things are fatal to the interests of morality. _The
nurse is afraid to act without the man-midwife_, not because she is
incompetent, for she has walked the hospital and has her diploma of
efficiency, but because it essentially concerns the _man_-midwife to play
the principal part, in order that the belief in the necessity for his
presence and _assistance_ should not, by any act of hers, be shaken; such
is their jealousy on this head, that we have known the man-midwife, on
arriving too late to be present at the birth, roundly rate the nurse of
his own appointment for not having sent for him sooner, although the case
was of the most ordinary description, and great additional ease of mind
and general comfort were experienced by the patient, through the absence
of the doctor.[67]

The nurses in their six months' training at the hospital learn much,
however, that is useful to them in their own after-practice, for many of
them are employed by the humbler classes from motives of economy, and we
would fain believe of delicacy also. Through one of these nurses we have
learnt the frightful indignities to which the poor hospital patients are
sometimes subjected. A difficult case of labour, as it is termed, occurs,
the wretched victim is stripped naked, candles are placed around the bed,
and the students assemble in crowds, perched on ladders and benches, to
watch the progress of the labour, and the manipulations of the operator. O
God! that in a Christian land, in our boasted Britain, priding herself on
her civilization and proprieties, such orgies, which would raise a blush
amidst the rites of devils, should disgrace the name of science!

We have said that women are admitted as pupils at the Lying-in Hospital in
Dublin, and that after a six months' probation they obtain a diploma: but,
as they are never permitted to operate in any but ordinary cases, it
cannot be intended that their education should obviate the necessity for
the employment of accoucheurs. Now we would suggest, that instead of this
partial instruction they should be afforded ample opportunity for
acquiring a perfect knowledge of the expedients necessary for overcoming
the difficulties of their profession; that, instead of dismissing them at
the end of six months, they should be retained until they are sufficiently
instructed to be able with confidence and facility to undertake those
extreme cases which are now reserved to men. No man of intelligence, who
reflects on this subject, will for a moment doubt that where nicety of
touch and delicacy of handling are required, the female organization is
more perfectly adapted for them than that of men; and when we consider the
delicate duties to be performed in midwifery, we cannot but think (and the
thought will find an echo in the minds of thousands) that woman, and woman
alone, is both morally and physically fitted for the office.[68] It may
possibly be urged by the men-midwives, that, if they were to be deprived
of their ordinary practice, and to be superseded by women, in all cases
of labour in which no extraordinary difficulty presented itself, they
would not be so well prepared to operate when accident might call for
their interference. We may in all justice reply, what is that to us? see
ye to that; are we to prostitute our wives to your impure touchings,
"manipulations," tentatives, and experiments, in nine hundred and
ninety-nine needless cases, in order to afford you the requisite
experience for the thousandth? We trow not; and the science of surgery
must indeed be at a low ebb if, when occasion requires, there are not to
be found men of that noble profession who could undertake with success any
needful operation.

In former times the difficulties in certain cases of parturition, which
are now trumpeted forth by the writers on man-midwifery "with all the pomp
and state of academic learning," were easily overcome by discreet and
experienced women, who, although innocent of physical, classical, or
mathematical science, knew full well how to operate when necessity called
for their intervention. We find the following passage in Albertus
Magnus:--"Whence it is to be known that in some women there is greater
suffering than in others, because in some it happens that the foetus
sometimes presents a hand, and sometimes a foot, all which are hurtful.
Then the midwives carefully thrust back the foetus, and hence great pain
is produced, so that many women, unless very robust, are weakened even to
death," &c. Then, after describing the effect of an accident which
sometimes occurred even with the more appropriate assistance of the female
hand, but which[69] _if the truth was known_, since the invention of
instruments has probably been of much greater frequency, he continues:
"Then discreet midwives use a certain ointment, anointing the vulva,
because the womb is often injured and wounded in the vulva, and therefore
it is necessary that discreet women and experienced in this operation
should be employed in delivery.[70] But this I have learnt from some
women, that when the foetus presents its head in the outlet, then the
business fares well, because then the other members follow without
difficulty, and an easy labour is the result."[71]

To the casual reader who has the curiosity to wade through the filthy and
disgusting details of the ponderous tomes on obstetricity, for the most
part garnished with engravings at which "purity must blush and
licentiousness may gloat," and who incontinently pins his faith upon the
dogmas thereof, it will seem absolutely incomprehensible how unit after
unit, of millions on millions numberless, who have peopled earth,
contrived to see the light, from the days of our general mother Eve, until
that happy hour when first "obstetric science" flashed upon the world, and
by its magic touch scattering the dreams of a primeval curse, vouchsafed
its "art" to teach poor feeble ineffectual nature how to act.

One result of the frightful tissue of imaginable and unimaginable horrors
contained in these books, is that almost every woman in the upper and
middle classes believes that the chances are ten to one in favour of a
"cross birth;" the nurse, instead of relieving her fears, rather confirms
them, and on the strength of that understanding which always prevails
between the nurse and the _man_-midwife, she takes care to impress upon
the sufferer, wrought up to a pitiable state of nervous excitement, that
nothing but the beastly manipulations of the "doctor" can render the
labour successful.

Women, while suffering under the severe pangs of parturition, most
frequently lose much of that natural delicacy belonging to the sex, and at
the moment when terror and anxiety overrule every other feeling, the
_man_-midwife approaches, and offers to the trembling victim that
disgusting insult, the examination _per vaginam_; an inquest both morally
and physically injurious to the patient, and utterly needless, from the
information previously obtained by the female attendant.

Furthermore, these men well know that "one fool makes many," and that the
more they are able to convince the public of the dangers and difficulties
of child-birth, the more sure are they of an unfailing trade in the
practice of _man_-midwifery. _Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute_, and
when they had successfully achieved one generation of patients, the rest
was easy; all henceforward was plain sailing; the mothers, despite the
qualms of outraged delicacy, once convinced that their safety had been
dependent on the skill of the _man_-midwife, the daughters, as a matter of
course, followed in their wake; the idea, if perchance it occurred, of the
indecency of the act, being promptly set at rest by the recollection that
their mothers had done the same. Thus a kind of freemasonry is established
between the _men_-midwives and women, which, from its very nature, cannot
be free from gross impropriety, and is sometimes attended with most
pernicious consequences, of which the husband is kept in entire
ignorance.[72] It is a common occurrence in ordinary life to see the
_man_-midwife seated as a guest at your dinner-table, or as a morning
visitor in your wife's drawing-room, who perhaps but a few weeks before
may have informed himself both by _touch_ and _sight_ of all the inmost
secrets of her person, who knows as well as you do yourself every hidden
charm which she possesses. Faugh! the very thought is gall and wormwood,
and outraged delicacy demands instant and eternal redress.

Sir Anthony Carlisle, late President of the Royal College of Surgeons,
assures us that child-birth, like parturition in the lower animals, is
purely a natural process, the safety of which Divine Providence has most
wisely secured; and consequently that it is always mischievous to tamper
with pregnant women, under the pretence of hastening, easing, or retarding
their delivery. Roberton, in allusion to the above, says--"If this be
correct, it follows of course that midwifery is no science, but a
presumptuous fraud."[73] Again he says, "Admitting, as I do, not that
ninety-nine in a hundred, but that a large proportion of labours, say
nineteen out of twenty, would terminate well under the eye of an
intelligent nurse, were they left _solely_ to the energies of nature,"[74]
&c.; and again, "I have admitted that a considerable proportion of labours
would do well, unaided, under the eye of a nurse," &c.[75] Dr. Johnson
says--"The ordinary treatment of women in child-bed is irrational,
indefensible, and most preposterously foolish. Nothing can be more absurd.
Childbirth is not a disease! It is simply the performance of a natural
function, like eating, drinking, &c., yet we treat it as though it were
some formidable and dangerous malady. Dr. Conquest, a London accoucheur of
repute, says--'Child-birth is that natural process by which the womb
expels its contents, and returns to the condition in which it was
previously. I call it a natural process; and in my opinion no sentiment is
more pregnant with mischief, than the opinion which almost universally
prevails, that this process is inevitably one of difficulty and danger. I
am well aware that some degree of suffering is connected with child-birth;
and this applies equally to the whole animal creation, whether human or
brute, though the former suffer more than the latter, _because the habits
of brutes are less unnatural_. That the suffering of women during
child-birth is referrible, in a great degree, to their artificial habits
of life, and not to their form and make, is evident from a variety of
circumstances. History, in all ages of the world, establishes this
position. What made the striking difference between the ancient Hebrews
and Egyptians, of whom it is said: "The Hebrew women are not as the
Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives
come in unto them?" What, I would ask, made the marked difference in the
labours of these two classes of women, but the plain, simple, and
industrious habits of the Hebrews, as contrasted with the effeminacy, and
luxurious living of the Egyptians? Look into more modern history, and you
will see the same fact established again and again. I could mention
innumerable proofs, but a few must suffice.

"'The celebrated traveller, Bruce, says, that the Abyssinian women retire
by themselves, and go through the process of child-birth with so much ease
and expedition, that they do not confine themselves a day after labour,
but return to their usual occupations immediately.

"'The same simplicity, expedition, and freedom from danger, attend this
natural process amongst the natives in most parts of Asia, Africa, the
West Indies, and America, where the mode of living among the natives is
more simple and abstemious, and their occupations and general habits more
laborious, than in more civilized countries.

"'The Moorish women have no midwives, but are usually alone at the time of
delivery, lying on the ground under an indifferent tent. They will even
travel, on the same day, a distance of fifteen or twenty miles.

"'In Morocco the women suffer so little, that they frequently go through
the duties of the house on the day after their delivery, with the child on
their back.

"'One respectable traveller assures us, that with the native Africans
labour is so easy, and trusted so entirely to nature, that no one knows of
its existence till the woman appears at the door of the hut with the
child.

"'Another, equally respectable, tells us, that as soon as an American
Indian woman bears a child, she _goes into the water and immerses it and
herself_.[76] One evening he asked an Indian where his wife was: he
replied: "I suppose she has gone into the woods to set a trap for birds."
In about an hour she returned with a new-born infant in her arms, and
holding it up exclaimed: "Here, Englishman, here is a young warrior!" Were
it necessary, many more instances might be brought forward. But it has
been said, this occurs only in warm climates, where the heat relaxes the
parts concerned in parturition. This objection is not consistent with
truth, for the natives of Livonia, and the savages of North America,
retire to some private place, and return immediately after their delivery
to their customary work; and the Greenlanders do all their common business
just before, and very soon after their labour, and a still-born or
deformed child is seldom seen or heard of among them. Still further to
establish the assertion that human parturition is not necessarily a
process of danger, we know that in this country servant girls, who become
illegitimately pregnant, very often absent themselves for an hour or two,
and, after giving birth to a child, return to the discharge of their
household duties immediately.[77] It is, therefore, obvious that the
difficulty and danger that so often attend child-bearing in civilized
society,[78] are attributable, principally, to _unnatural customs and
habits of living_, in which, women, in this and other countries, indulge
from their infancy,[79] and which operate by preventing the constitution
from acquiring its proper firmness and vigour, and by producing a weak,
feeble, and irritable state of body, &c.'" Dr. Johnson adds: "This is the
language of Dr. Conquest--a metropolitan accoucheur physician of much
eminence--a man who, from the long and successful practice of his
profession, has deservedly acquired wealth and distinction--a man,
therefore, who can afford to be honest--a man who, unlike Archdeacon
Paley, can afford to keep a conscience. With those, therefore, who put
their trust in authority rather than in the light of their own
reason--that is to say, with nine hundred and ninety-nine persons out of
every thousand--the opinions of such a man as Dr. Conquest cannot fail to
have more than ordinary weight."[80]

In the foregoing pages we have sought to place before our readers, in the
clearest light, the opinions of Roussel and other eminent men, touching
the practice of man-midwifery; opinions the force and truth of which,
based as they are upon principles of the purest morality, and the sound
doctrines of physical science, cannot be controverted or denied. We have
shown that the Royal College of Physicians, so lately as the year 1827,
designated the practice of _man_-midwifery as "an art foreign to the
habits of gentlemen of enlarged academical education," and one which might
safely be entrusted to discreet matrons. We have, in confirmation of these
opinions, quoted the sentiments expressed by Sir Anthony Carlisle, late
President of the College of Surgeons, who styles the boasted "art" "a
pretence," and accoucheurs "mere nurses." We have proved, by the admission
of men-midwives themselves, that the great majority of cases of midwifery
would do well under the eye of a nurse, and that skilled midwives would be
a benefit in every community. We have before our eyes the example of
France with her schools of midwifery; and against the arguments and
dispassionate opinions of men of the highest rank in the medical
profession, mooted as they have been at various times, and in different
countries, yet all tending to the same conclusion, we find absolutely
nothing but the self-interested doctrine of an anomalous class[81] of
medical men, whose policy it is, for the furtherance of their own selfish
views, to decry the powers of nature, and to abrogate the employment of
females in the sanctuary of child-birth; a doctrine which suffers its
disciples, regardless of all delicacy, and in defiance of the contempt of
their professional brethren, to prey upon the weakness and natural
timidity of the sex, and with presumptuous indecency to arrogate to
themselves duties proper only to women; a doctrine which, while it deals
an irreparable blow[82] at the very heart of every family, threatens with
destruction virtue, modesty, and honour.

Husbands, fathers, countrymen, THINK OF THESE THINGS!

We do most heartily believe that if, unbiassed by the self-interested and
fraudulent assertions of quackery and empiricism, you would exert your own
reasoning powers on the question, the doom of this abuse would soon be
sealed. But as, in many another usage which men individually admit to be
blots in that high state of civilization to which we have advanced, our
apathy overcomes our desire for their correction, and we let them pass;
so, because this wrong has forced its prostituting influence through the
length and breadth of the land, magnified and sustained as it is by the
terrorism of treatises, and the artistic display of its abettors, despite
the warnings of our consciences, we yield ourselves to its guidance, we
dare not lift up the veil which conceals its abominations, and even fear,
cowards that we are, to question its privileges, privileges which a
"damned custom" has accorded; privileges the very thought of which should
make the blood curdle in our veins with disgust and horror! For if we for
a moment reflect upon the precepts laid down in the indecent farragos of
"obstetric science," and further upon the fact, that these precepts are
invariably carried into effect, whenever the "patient" can be induced to
submit to the outrages therein enjoined, we must acknowledge that in all
such cases purity itself can oppose no effectual barrier to these
insidious assaults, and that modesty must fly from the chamber when the
_man_-midwife crosses its threshold.

O hateful, horrible thought! that the young bride, radiant with joyous
innocence, and love's glowing fantasies, "beautiful exceedingly," and pure
as fair, must in a few short months, in blind obedience to a spurious
custom, yield herself to the pollution of a stranger's _touch_, and banish
for ever from her husband's soul that dear delicious dream, entirety of
possession!

This is no exaggerated picture, no overstrained description of that mortal
stain which rends into very shreds the charm of delicacy; but a simple
truth, a terrible reality, not to be glozed over by the fallacious
reasonings of frigid philosophy. O men! if you have the souls of men, if
one drop of the old chivalrous blood of your ancestors yet palpitates in
your veins, if you have not irrecoverably bowed down to the idol custom,
if mammon, lust of gain and power, with all the fell catalogue of vicious
inclinations, have left but one cell unoccupied in your heart's mansion,
if you yet hold woman to be the fairest, purest, best of the Creator's
works; oh! let the cry of "out damned spot," rise heavenward from every
home in the United Kingdom; let sacred purity once more assert her rights,
let nature's illimitable powers do their work unaided, undefiled by the
sordid infamy of charlatanism, and future generations shall gratefully
invoke unnumbered blessings on the memory of those who saved the daughters
of England from the curse of a cruel degradation.


THE END.



Footnotes:

[1] "In the midst of our apparent material prosperity, let some curious or
courageous hand lift up but a corner of that embroidered pall, which the
superficial refinement of our privileged and prosperous classes has thrown
over society, and how we recoil from the revelation of what lies seething
and festering beneath!" _Mrs. Jameson's_ "_Communion of Labour_," pag. 20.

[2] Anno 1663. Vide Roussel, Systeme Moral et Physique de la Femme, ed.
1855, p. 224, and Astruc, Maladies des Femmes, t. vii.

[3] This surgeon was most probably a person named Chison, of whom Count
Bussi Rabutin relates the following anecdote:--"Meanwhile Madame de Crequi
went to seek Madame on the day which she had appointed for their party to
St. Cloud. She there met Chison, who had come to see one of Madame's girls
who was ill; he is La Valiere's medical man, and is facetious and witty;
after he had learned the complaint of the young lady, Cheer up, said he to
her, I have remedies for all, even for lovers' hearts. Ho! G---- G----!
replied Madame, teach me them directly, for ten or a dozen that I have,
whom I should like to cure, provided it costs me only a few garden herbs.
Ha, Madame, replied he, it costs me much less than herbs, it costs me
nothing but words. In fine, Chison, who sacrificed everything for the
entertainment of Madame, related to her how the king had sent to him to
inquire, and that he had demanded, with extreme emotion, whether
Mademoiselle de la Valiere could really survive, and if her leanness was
not a bad symptom. And what was your answer? replied Madame. What, said
he, can your highness be in doubt? I assure you that I promised him, with
as much boldness, the prolongation of her years, as if I had a letter from
Heaven. I spoke as a philosopher of life, and death, and destinies; it
needed nothing (when I saw the joy of the king) but to have promised him
an immortality for the girl. True, G----, cried Madame; what secret charms
has the creature to inspire so great a passion? I assure you, replied
Chison, that it is not her body which supplies them."--_Hist. Am. des
Gaules. Amours de la Valiere_, page 430.

The "witty and facetious" Chison spoke with a certainty which experience
alone could give; he had doubtless attended La Valiere in her
"confinement." Do such conversations ever occur now? There is nothing new
under the sun; what has been will be, and the laureate, not without
reason, sings in Maud:--

  "Yonder a vile physician blabbing
  The case of his patient."

[4] Alison's History, page 111, vol. i.

[5] Ibid. page 180, vol. i.

[6] Alison's History, page 217, vol. i.

[7] Astruc, des Maladies des Femmes.

[8] Ex-Maitresse Sage-Femme, Surveillante-en-chef de l'Hospice de la
Maternité et de la Maison Royale de Santé et de l'Administration Generale
des Hôpitaux et Hospices Civils de Paris; Docteur en Médecine de
l'Université de Marbourg, &c. &c. &c.

[9] Since this was written we have ascertained that a Charity, called the
"Royal Maternity Charity," has existed for a century in London. "It was
instituted, 1757, for the gratuitous delivery of poor _married_ women at
their _own habitations_. The patients are attended in their lying-in by
skilful and well-taught midwives, (of whom there are now thirty-five),
under the watchful superintendence of appointed physicians, by one of whom
the midwives are first carefully instructed at the charge, and expressly
for the service of this charity; and, being located in various parts of
the metropolis, and not restricted, in the exercise of their profession,
to the patients of the Charity solely, though such patients are, at all
times and without exception, to have the preference, their services are
available to any other persons, who, either from choice or necessity, may
be desirous of employing a midwife instead of a medical man; and as these
occasions are not rare, some of the midwives having from fifteen to twenty
_private_ patients per month, it is not among the least of the advantages
incident to the establishment of the ROYAL MATERNITY CHARITY that it is
the means of keeping up a class of respectable, intelligent midwives for
such emergencies."--_Prospectus of the Royal Maternity Charity, office 17,
Little Knight Rider-street, Doctors' Commons, London._

[10] "It must be acknowledged that, although the function of midwife
belongs to the healing art, it was never intended to be exercised by
men."--_Roussel_, page 217.

"It is incompatible with the general infirmities of human nature to expect
that the medical profession, exercised as it is for the daily means of
maintenance, can be filled with men of science, with philosophers, or even
with honourable gentlemen, while the greatest number are remunerated
according to the quantity of drugs they craftily sell at random, as
pretended antidotes, and others follow the business of mere nurses, with
all the pomp and state of academic learning."--_"On Health," by Sir
Anthony Carlisle, F.R.S., late President of the Royal College of Surgeons,
and Surgeon of the Westminster Hospital._ 1841.

[11] "Others, many others, less industrious, have been amusing and
facetious. It is not long since I stood by the bed of a lady, who, between
every pain, was making merry in talking with the nurse; and, the moment
after the head and no more was born, commenced giving me an amusing
account of one of my patients, a relative of hers, whose ailments, she
assured me, arose from inattention to my rules of diet." (!!)--_Roberton,
Physiology_, &c., page 459.

Oh, Roussel, how prophetic were your words!

[12] Roussel, p. 222.

[13] Female physicians were still known at Rome in the time of the
Emperors, according to this verse of Martial,

"Protinus accedunt medici medicæque recedunt."--_Hecquet._

[14] Olympias, Sotira, Salpe, Laïs, all cited by Pliny, and many others of
whom distinguished authors make mention.--_Hecquet._

[15] _Stevens' Man-Midwifery Exposed._

[16] Hecquet says: "The provinces at a little distance from Paris still
find this custom very revolting."--_De l'Indecence aux Hommes d'accoucher
les Femmes_, page 8.

[17] "In labours strictly natural, terminating after a few hours of
moderate suffering, scientific midwifery is passive; its interference
extending only to the division of the funis."--_Roberton._

[18] Lives there a man who would believe that the strongest passion which
nature has implanted in the human heart is altogether dead in the
_man_-midwife, that he is in fact emasculated by his profession, although
"not necessarily an old woman?" It is far otherwise, and many of these
gentry have the organ of philoprogenitiveness strongly developed.

[19] By "_le toucher indiscret_," as the French term this hateful
indecency.

[20] We are informed that in the Dublin Lying-in Hospital neither nurses
in training as midwives, nor male students, are permitted to operate in
any case of difficulty. We are not aware if this remark applies to the
London hospitals and similar institutions in other parts of the kingdom,
but we have little doubt that in this respect the practice is the same in
all. It is not easy to understand how, under these circumstances, either
nurses or students can acquire much, or indeed any, knowledge for
discrimination. It is most painful to reflect that any experience which
these persons may ever possess, must of necessity be gained after they are
let loose upon the world, at the sacrifice, it may be, of life, or at
least of moral and physical suffering, and injury to those patients who
are the unfortunate objects of their first essays.

[21] Letter from the Royal College of Physicians to the Secretary of State
for the Home Department, dated May 2nd, 1827, in reply to a memorial from
the Obstetric Society.

[22] No; because "unmarried females" have not themselves endured these
outrages, and still retain a modesty which is born in every woman, and,
therefore, might possibly re-animate in the patient feelings which,
howsoever natural, beautiful, and holy, would mar "the doctor's process."

[23] "Generally, indeed, no _active_ assistance is necessary until after
the birth of the child," &c. _See ante, Ramsbotham ipse._ "And another
reason is, that such patients have been spared the ill effects arising
from vaginal examinations," &c.--_Treatise on Midwifery._ Hardy and
M'Clintock. Page 9.

"We here feel ourselves obliged to inform women that those persons whom
they employ in this kind of examination deceive them by affecting a
knowledge which they do not possess. All information derived from 'touch'
is very uncertain."--_Roussel Systeme Moral et Physique de la Femme. Chap.
sur la Grossesse._

[24] Has the doctor first informed the husband of the necessity for this
_vaginal examination_? Has he, before entering the patient's chamber, or
at least before he dared to make such "a request" to her, gained the
husband's confidence by candidly and honestly explaining the indelicate
nature of the usages which his "art" permits him to adopt?

[25] See Roussel, _ante_.

[26] There is a maxim prevalent with accoucheurs, and the hellish aphorism
is treated as a jest among them, that a woman will usually desire to
patronise, upon all subsequent occasions, the man-midwife who has once
introduced his finger _per vaginam_.

[27] A foul delusion, promoted and encouraged by the doctor, and the
midwife, at his instigation, well knowing, that in nine hundred and
ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, nothing else would induce a woman to
submit to so gross an indecency.

[28] "It has been said that women delivered under circumstances where they
had no assistance, generally escape laceration; now this is not
universally true; but supposing that it were, it admits of this easy
explanation: namely, that inasmuch as these females are almost always
involuntarily subjected to the deprivation we have mentioned, they
naturally use their utmost endeavours to retard the birth of the child
when they feel the head in the vagina, in the hope of aid reaching them
before the critical moment of delivery; and another reason is, that such
patients have been spared the ill effects arising from vaginal
examinations, &c."--_Extract from Treatise on Midwifery, by Drs. Hardy and
M'Clintock_, page 9.

Let the reader compare these observations with those of Dr.
Ramsbotham--"look on this picture and on that,"--and then he will be
astonished, not at the difference of opinion between the men-midwives, but
at the fact that women do so frequently escape the terrible consequences
of all this interference with the laws of nature.

[29] As if nature would not of herself direct the position most likely to
facilitate delivery.

"Who ever found the eagle dead upon her eyrie, or the she-wolf in her
lair?" and would the doctor have us believe that while giving to man
dominion over every living thing, thus recognizing his physical as well as
mental superiority, and greatly multiplying the conception of woman, God
had forgotten to instruct her in a faculty which he gave in perfection to
all the lower animals?

[30] Roberton, Physiology, &c., page 425.

[31] An instrument called the speculum matricis was, however, in use at
the beginning of the last century, and is mentioned in the Bibliotheca
Anatomica, 1712.

[32] The Speculum; its moral Tendencies. By a Fellow of the Royal College
of Surgeons. London: Bosworth & Harrison.

[33] Vide Ramsbotham, _anté_.

[34] "It was to the midwives that they applied, in the first ages of the
Church, to be assured of that fidelity which Christian virgins had vowed
to their state of chastity. But, if the Fathers found fault from the time
when Christian females were thus exposed to the judgment of their own sex;
if they discovered in this practice something shameful and infamous, of
what criminality would they not have taxed the attempt of men at the
present day, who, in like cases, are not ashamed to deprive the midwives
of this employment."--_Hecquet, De l'Indecence aux Hommes d'accoucher les
Femmes_, page 7.

[35] O ye adepts in chloroform, take heed to your ways, and O ye fools,
who submit to be made _dead-drunk_ under its influence, beware lest a
worse thing happen unto you!

"It would be absurd to suppose that the cases of sudden death from
chloroform constitute the full measure of the mortality. How few even of
these are generally known or reported. Hardly any in private practice; and
now, even in hospitals, they are concealed. It is well known to the
frequenters of the London hospitals, that, in the same week in which the
recent death from chloroform at St. Thomas's occurred, another took place
in another hospital, but which did not become the subject of judicial
inquiry. Humanity, and the character of the profession, demand that the
whole subject should be investigated anew."--_Medical Times and Gazette._

[36] Roussel, page 177, de la Grossesse.

[37] Maladies des Femmes, t. v., p. 375.

[38] Roussel, de l'Accouchement Naturel, page 208.

[39] "It is a common notion, that the brute enjoys great advantages,
compared with woman, in the act of parturition, from the position and
configuration of its pelvis. Is not this groundless? In the first place it
is said that the oblique axis of the brim, in woman, is less favourable to
the descent of the foetal head than the axis of the brim in the brute,
which is parallel with the spine. But the physiologist knows, that
ordinarily in woman, just before the commencement of the labour pains, the
uterus slowly, and without pain, descends by a mechanism, which Sir C.
Bell has so beautifully described in his memoir on the muscularity of that
organ; and that thus a small segment of the foetal head becomes engaged
in the brim, and in the position most favourable for passing, before the
uterine pains commence. The truth is, the obliquity of the axis of the
brim is, in general, _no disadvantage or impediment whatever_. In the
second place, it is urged, that the great size of the human foetal head
occasions incomparably more difficulty than the sharp-pointed, small head
of the brute foetus. For this there is equally no foundation. The size
and figure of the human brim are as well fitted to give passage to the
large head of the child, as the brim of the brute pelvis to allow the
entrance of the comparatively smaller head of the foetal brute, &c., &c.
Still looking at the figure of the human foetus, and comparing it with
that of the foetal brute, some may be inclined to imagine,
notwithstanding what has been said, that the brute will pass with far
greater facility than the child; such was my own opinion till I subjected
the point to the test of experiment. We are not to think, but to try, as
John Hunter advises," &c.--_Roberton, Physiology, &c._, p. 247.

[40] _L'Histoire General des Voyages._

[41] "During pregnancy the squaw continues her usual avocations, and, even
in its most advanced state, she neither bears a lighter burthen on her
back, nor walks a shorter distance in a day, than she otherwise would. If
on a march she feels the pains of parturition, she retires to the bushes,
throws her burthen from her back, and, without any aid, brings the infant
into the world. After washing in water, if at hand, or in melted snow,
both herself and the infant, she immediately replaces the burthen upon her
back (weighing, perhaps, between sixty and one hundred pounds), secures
her child upon the top of it, protected from the cold by an envelope of
bison robe, and thus hurries on to overtake her companions."--_James'
Narrative of Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains._

[42] "The Samöides are a tawny, squat, miserable race of pagan savages,
subjects of the Russian empire. They are found along the Frozen Sea, on
the European side of the Jugorian Mountains, east of these on the River
Oby, and elsewhere on the vast shores of Siberia. According to Tooke, they
are mature at a very early age," &c.--_Roberton_, quoting _Tooke's Russian
Empire_, vol. ii. p. 286.

[43] "The truth is, that when the pregnant will submit to prepare
themselves for what is before them, will be temperate in their eating,
regular in their hours for sleep, and for exercise daily in the open air,
a considerable proportion may secure benign labours. It is the sedentary
and luxurious who oftenest suffer severely in parturition," &c.
&c.--_Roberton's Notes on Pregnancy_, p. 460.

[44] Roberton has a remark to the same effect.

[45] "The beasts ca't manipulated."--_Shepherd on the Phrenologists,
Noctes Ambrosianiæ_, vol. ii. p. 21.

[46] "The calling of 'accoucheur' does not appertain to men. It is with
them nothing but a usurpation, or a rash experiment, founded upon the
timidity of women, who believe that, by this unworthy submission, they
insure their lives; and upon the credulity of husbands, who, by this
dangerous condescension, imagine that they more surely preserve their
wives."--_Hecquet, De l'Indecence aux Hommes d'accoucher les Femmes_, page
9.

[47]

  "Ubi non est mulier, ibi ingemiscit æger."
  Where woman is not, there the sick man groans.

[48] "At the time when this work was published, there had appeared a
catechism, in which M. Dufot, a physician, who was the author of it,
proposed to himself to instruct the midwives in the country, and he set
forth in a manner clear, exact, and perspicuous, the principles of the art
of midwifery. It would be desirable that these ideas, which are sufficient
for their purpose, should be disseminated; they would prepare the public
to do without the help of men in an office where their agency seems
necessarily to compromise morals. This object, to which some men only gave
the attention which it deserved, is doubtless the one which has urged some
intendants to occupy themselves in the instruction of midwives. We learn
from the _Gazette de France_, of 25th September, 1776, that the dame
Ducoudrai, commissioned and pensioned by his Majesty, had, by the care of
M. Fontette, chief magistrate (intendant) of Caen, organized more than a
hundred and fifty midwives in two public courts which she had held. That
example, without doubt, will not be lost on the provinces; whatever the
price of knowledge may be, it is in such close contiguity to the
temptation to abuse it, that I dare hardly put up any prayers for my
country. In all the County of Foix, where I was born, deliveries are
intrusted to women of the lower order, who never have the least idea of
anatomy, and with whom the whole art is reduced to some practical and
traditionary customs. But they display zeal, patience, and uprightness,
while the others apply themselves to nothing but the glitter of a
scientific phantom, and the former cannot but succeed the best. I remember
to have seen but one woman perish, in my little town, from the
consequences of labour. It is true that, contrary to custom, she had been
delivered by a man. The event was so distressing, that they had every
cause to believe that nature reprobated such a fatal innovation."

[49] Here let us illustrate the truth of Roussel's observations, by a
statement of facts which have occurred in our own day:--The _Portafoglio
Maltese_ (October, 1856), in describing the frightful effects of a late
earthquake in Candia, gives the following:--"In one case a woman was
discovered alive under the fallen ruins. She had been miraculously
preserved by a beam falling in such a manner as to leave a small space,
where she remained eight days without food before being discovered. During
this time she gave birth to a child, which was also alive. Another woman
was being delivered when the earthquake commenced; the husband and three
women who were attending her fled. On the husband returning after the
panic was over, on removing the ruins of his house, he found his wife with
her child in her arms alive in a corner of one of the rooms, which had
only partly fallen in. During the awful moment she had been safely
delivered."

[50] "While such are the prominent vices and defects of the poor, vices
and defects of a different kind, but no less offensive to morality, are
found among the rich. Sensuality and excess, selfishness, evil speaking,
want of charity and kindness abound. All these are obstacles to moral and
philosophical progress. Upon what can we rely to counteract them? Upon the
force of civilization? Twice have its powers been tried and found wanting.
In the days of Augustus Cæsar, when order had been established and
prosperity revived, when Virgil and Horace flourished at Rome, and the
vast provinces of the Roman Empire were blest with peace and tranquillity,
everything seemed to promise a long duration of happiness. But the
Christian Apostle and the Pagan Satirist alike prove all was hollow and
delusive. Vice increased, knowledge decayed, power vanished, and soon
everything portended the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Again, in
the eighteenth century of our era, civilization had reached a very high
point. That century, enlightened above all its predecessors, which enjoyed
the literature of the age of Louis XIV. in France, and of Queen Anne in
England, when Racine, Moliere, Boileau, La Fontaine, Dryden, Pope,
Addison, and Swift were read and admired; when Newton's philosophy was
established; when La Voisier, and Black, and Cavendish had advanced
chemistry to a science, and Watt had, by his improvement of the steam
engine, rivalled the invention of the printing press, seemed, in its
course, tending to the happiness of nations. But before that century
ended, revolutions tearing up the foundations of society, wars desolating
all the nations of Europe, bore sad testimony to the mistake that had been
made. What was that mistake? The nature of man is so prone to evil that a
strong restraint is required to keep down his bad passions, and subdue his
vicious inclinations. He requires, likewise, some special incentive to
good. The legislators of antiquity sought that restraint upon evil, and
that incentive to good, in powerful institutions guarded by sanctity of
manners. It was thus that Sparta and Rome were led to virtue. But these
institutions perished when manners no longer supported them."--_Lord John
Russell._ Lecture delivered at Exeter Hall, on the Obstacles which have
retarded Moral and Political Progress, November, 1855.

[51] "I know that our philosophy, always abounding in singular maxims,
pretends, contrary to the experience of all ages, that luxury forms the
glory of states; but after having forgotten the necessity of sumptuary
laws, will she yet dare to deny that good manners are essential to the
duration of empires, and that luxury is diametrically opposed to good
manners?"--_Rousseau Discours_, p. 67.

[52] "It was (says M. Astruc) at the first delivery of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, and for the safer keeping of the secret. It was feared that the
presence of a midwife in the palace, where suspicion reigned already,
would furnish fresh food for the malign curiosity of the courtiers; to
impose on them they made use of a surgeon whose practice attached him to
the court. For the rest, it cannot be denied that there have been, in
every age, men who studied or taught the art of midwifery. We have
treatises on midwifery of very ancient date, written by physicians.
Surgeons, while exercising themselves in other surgical operations, did
not neglect that of midwifery. But the habitual and daily custom of
delivery was never established as it is at present; they interfered only
in difficult cases, where it was believed that an experienced operator was
required."

[53] There is a work of M. Hecquet, entitled _De l' Indecence qu'il y a
aux Hommes d'accoucher les Femmes_.

[54] "There are, nevertheless, women, even now, whom it would be
impossible to induce to be delivered by men. We speak not of those
localities where this employment is confided to women, but in towns, where
men-midwives are more in vogue. There is, it is said, a great Queen in
Europe who has an accoucheur of whom she never makes use. Women deliver
her, and the _man-midwife_ is in the ante-chamber, as a witness of the
tribute yet paid to a custom which had been renounced."

We fear that, in these "days of advance," even Majesty itself has
succumbed to the prevailing fashion.

[55] "Sisters of Charity," page 75.

[56] "While Miss Nightingale is showing the world the great good to be
achieved by ladies devoting themselves to the sick and suffering in
hospitals, there is a lady in Paris who has actually worked her way to the
title of M.D. The lady in question is Dr. Emily Blackwell, daughter of the
late Mr. Samuel Blackwell, of Bristol, and has, it appears, a sister
practising in New York, as a regular physician, armed with the authority
of a diploma. Dr. Elizabeth, like Dr. Emily, completed her medical studies
in Paris. To the latter lady the Paris hospitals have been freely opened,
and Dr. Emily Blackwell has followed the clinical lectures of Jobert de
Lamballe, Huguier, Casenove, Guersaint, and Blanche; and on the Register
of the great hospital of the Hotel Dieu may be seen the first woman's name
ever entered, as a medical student, on its books. The intense earnestness
with which the lady doctor labours to make herself perfect mistress of
those branches of the art which chiefly concern women and children, has
not only overcome prejudice, but made her a favourite with her able
instructors, who have been brought to say, that there can be no more
objection to the presence of ladies in hospitals, practising as
physicians, than to nurses. Baron Sentin, one of the Physicians in
Ordinary to the King of the Belgians, has invited Dr. Emily Blackwell to
visit the great women's hospital at Brussels."--_Daily News._

[57] A respected correspondent has communicated to us the following
extract from a recent paper:--"There are not far from twenty of them, and
several of them are in excellent business. They confine themselves
generally to midwifery, and the diseases of their own sex. Their success
in the former branch tends to establish them firmly in families. The
number will probably be gradually on the increase, since they are
beginning to be employed in the neighbouring cities of Charlestown,
Cambridge, Roxbury, and adjacent towns, much more than formerly."

Among these female physicians the Misses Emily and Elizabeth Blackwell,
natives of Bristol, are justly celebrated. See an interesting sketch of
the life of Miss Emily Blackwell in the _Englishwoman's Review_, June,
1857.

[58] A correspondent has kindly communicated to us the following "ower
true" tale of humble life:--"A poor girl, married, at the age of sixteen,
to a youth not much older than, and equally poor with, herself (so
impoverished are they), fell in labour of her first child. She was living
with her father and mother, and he with his, for they were too poor to
keep house, and her father was an old man and paralyzed, and both
generations, on both sides, were as poor as was possible, consistently
with living at all. Nevertheless, the wife's mother, having known better
days, was ambitious of having her daughter attended by a doctor, and,
during her pregnancy, had, by one device or another, scraped together the
sum of half a guinea--the doctor's fee--which was laid up in store--an
uneasy possession, in the meantime, for the poor mother, whose pressing
occasions often tempted her to break in upon it. Labour, at length, coming
on, late at night, as usual, the chosen doctor was sent or rather gone
for, and came. The girl was in considerable pain, but the doctor, after
the usual examination, declared his services to be, for the present,
unnecessary. The doctor, however, was not so occupied with his patient but
that he was observed, by her mother, to cast sundry glances around the
forlorn and desolate apartment, as if doubtful of his fee. It is but
justice to the apartment to state that it fully warranted the doctor's
suspicions. The doctor, however, not being wanted, as he said, went home,
leaving it to be understood that he would come again. Not coming, a long
time having elapsed, and the labour becoming urgent, the mother went to
the doctor's house (this was the third time that, full of trouble, she
traversed a mile of windy streets at midnight). Her application to the
knocker was answered from the window by the doctor's wife, who stated that
her husband was in bed, and meant to stay there unless his fee was paid
down. In vain the poor woman urged that the fee was ready, pleading
besides her daughter's extremity. 'No,' was the reply, 'if not paid then
and there the doctor would not stir.' This being simply impossible, the
poor woman again sought her home, which, by this time, was a scene of
pain, terror, and confusion. And now, instead of the 'usurper,' the 'true
prince' was first thought of in the person of an old woman in a
neighbouring court, who was well spoken of, and, by her timely aid, the
long protracted labour was at length terminated for the moderate fee of
five shillings. So the girl did well, the mother saved five shillings and
sixpence, and the doctor remains a _respectable man_!!"

[59] Dr. Stevens mentions, that Dr. Gregory took from a gravestone in "the
old burying ground" in Charlestown the following inscription:--

"Here lyes interred the body of Mrs. Elizabeth Phillips, wife to Mr. John
Phillips, who was born in _Westminster_, in Great Britain, and
commissioned by John, Lord Bishop of _London_, in the year 1718, to the
office of a midwife, and came to this country in the year 1719, and, by
the blessing of God, has brought into this world above 3,000 children."

An obituary notice in the _Boston Liberator_ of 1845, runs thus:--

"Mrs. Janet Alexander died in Boston, September 15, 1845, after an illness
of nearly four months, aged 61 years. She was a native of Scotland, and
was instructed in the theory and practice of midwifery by Dr. James
Hamilton, the celebrated professor of Midwifery in the University of
Edinburgh. She received her diploma from him in 1817. She arrived in
Boston in November, 1819, and commenced the exercise of her profession on
the ensuing Christmas day; and for a period of more than twenty-five
years' practice among the most intelligent and respectable portion of the
community, was most singularly successful, having NEVER, IN ANY INSTANCE,
LOST A PATIENT."

[60] "We may, with tolerable safety, estimate the present population of
the Chinese Empire as between 350,000,000, and 400,000,000 of human
beings. The constant flow of emigration from China, contrasted with the
complete absence of immigration into China, is striking evidence of the
redundancy of the population; for though that emigration is almost wholly
confined to two provinces, namely, Kwangtung and Fookein, representing
together a population of probably from 34,000,000, to 35,000,000, I am
disposed to think, that a number nearer 3,000,000 than 2,000,000 from
these provinces alone, is located in foreign countries. In the kingdom of
Siam it is estimated that there are at least 1,500,000 Chinese, of which
200,000 are in the capital (Bankok). They crowd all the islands of the
Indian Archipelago. In Java, we know by a correct census, there are
136,000. Cochin China teems with Chinese. In this colony we are seldom
without one, two, or three vessels taking Chinese emigrants to California
and other places. Multitudes go to Australia, to the Philippines, to the
Sandwich Islands, to the Western Coast of Central and Southern America,
some have made their way to British India. The emigration to the British
West Indies has been considerable; to the Havannah greater still. The
annual arrivals in Singapore are estimated at an average of 10,000, and
20,000 is the number that are said annually to return to China."--_Sir
John Bowring._

[61] "Notwithstanding all our affectation of superior delicacy, and our
reprehension of the coarse manners of our ancestors, we suspect that they
would have been shocked at the idea of the _indelicate_ and _unnecessary_
presence of a man in the sanctuary of the lying-in room."--_Plea for
Physicians, Fraser's Magazine_, March, 1848.

[62] "An institution such as I have in my mind, should be a place where
women could obtain a sort of professional education under professors of
the other sex,--for men are the best instructors of women;--where they
might be trained as hospital and village nurses, visitors of the poor, and
teachers in the elementary and reformatory schools," &c.--_Mrs. Jameson's_
"_Sisters of Charity_," page 116.

[63] Roberton says, "In speaking of the small mortality in child-bed among
the poor, I limit my remark to those of this community (Manchester), who
have long had the advantage of being attended chiefly by midwives
carefully trained and educated in connexion with our Lying-in
Charity."--_Pag._ 437.

[64] We have heard that the almost incredible sum of five hundred guineas
has been paid as a fee to one of the fashionable "ladies' doctors:" and
that another caused it to be understood that he would not take a less fee
than fifty guineas, whereupon the number of patients soliciting his
attendance increased a hundred fold.

[65] We know a case in point, where a lady was anxious to engage a midwife
who had been recommended to her as perfectly competent to perform her
office without the intervention of the _man_-midwife, but the latter would
not hear of this, and insisted on the substitution of one of his "own
nurses." It is easy to perceive the reason of this manoeuvre. Had the
original midwife attended, she would have undertaken the operation, and
the importance of the _man_-midwife would have been materially lessened.
The lady's delicacy and comfort were not of sufficient weight to
counterbalance this consideration. _Ex uno disce omnes._

[66] "In 1848 sixty-one mothers died to every 10,000 children born alive.
Since that year the mortality has progressively declined, as follows:--58,
55, 53, 52, 50, down to 47 in 1854. This is a gratifying result, and there
can be no doubt that by further care and skill, especially by training up
a class of educated nurses, the deaths in child-birth may be largely
reduced from their present high number, 3009."--_Medical Times and
Gazette._

[67] So far from the presence of a _man_-midwife being a source of
consolation or assurance to the sufferer, as Dr. Ramsbotham alleges, we
have it on the authority of a lady, the mother of many children, that on
three occasions, when the "doctor" _was not present_, her labours were
much easier, and in all respects more thoroughly natural and happy in
their results; than on those in which the _man_-midwife officiated; and
further, _that the very ring of the bell announcing the arrival of the
hated accoucheur has frequently "put back" the pains of labour_.

[68] Before we laugh at this short-sighted folly and cruelty, which
supposes that the interests of the two sexes can possibly be antagonistic,
instead of being inseparably bound up together, we must recollect that we
have had some specimens of the same feeling in our own country, as, for
instance, the opposition to the female school at Marlborough House, and
the steady opposition of the inferior part of the medical profession to
all female practitioners. That some departments of medicine are peculiarly
suited to women, is beginning to strike the public mind. I know that there
are enlightened and distinguished physicians both here and in France who
take this view of the subject, though the medical profession as a body
entertain a peculiar dread of all innovation, which they resist with as
much passive pertinacity as Boards of Guardians and London
Corporations."--_Mrs. Jameson's_ "_Communion of Labour_," p. 40.

"When educated gentlemen set an example of selfishness and exclusiveness,
it is only to be expected that the working classes should follow it, and
so the greed of man is the degradation of woman."--_North British Review_,
No. 52, p. 837.

[69] "According to Osborne's testimony, instruments are used _dangerously_
in parturition, _one thousand one hundred and seventy-six times_ in every
twelve hundred cases; and the same author, in his reprobation of Denman's
culpable and inconsiderate introduction of them into practice, makes this
memorable remark: 'I must believe that he must have forgotten THE MANY
UNHAPPY EFFECTS which have come from their use to our mutual knowledge,
even when they had been in the hands of very experienced and skilful
men.'"--_The Author of_ "_The Death-blow to Man-midwifery_," quoting
_Osborne's_ "_Essays_."

[70] "The conduct of medical men in all former ages proves still farther
that which we would establish (that the profession of man-midwife is
repugnant to nature). If they required information on the state of their
female patients, it was to the midwives they applied. The midwife,
therefore, passed for the eye of the doctor, because it was through her
ministration that he assured himself of what he neither committed to his
own examination or to that of another man."--_Hecquet_ "_De l'Indecence
aux Hommes d'accoucher les Femmes_," page 6.

[71] Albertus Magnus de Secretis Mulierum. _Ed. Amst._ 1662, p. 85.

[72] The _man_-midwife usually intimates his wish to make the examination
_per vaginam_, through the medium of the nurse of his own recommendation,
and should the patient, struck with the daring impropriety of his request,
desire to inform her husband of the infamous proposal, the nurse dissuades
her by saying, that "husbands are not supposed to understand these
things," and that she will probably destroy both her own life, and that of
her child, by refusing to submit to it! After this the accoucheur soon
triumphs, the examination is effected without further remonstrance, and
the victim is irretrievably entangled in his insidious toils.

[73] Roberton, Apology, page 470.

[74] Roberton, page 486.

[75] Ibid. page 489.

[76]

  "The moon had gathered oft her monthly store
    Of light, and oft in darkness left the sky,
  Since Monnema a growing burthen bore
    Of life and hope. The appointed weeks go by,
  And now her hour is come, and none is nigh
    To help; but human help she needed none.
  A few short throes, endured with scarce a cry,
    Upon the bank she laid her new-born son,
  Then slid into the stream, and bathed, and all was done."

  _Southey's Tale of Paraguay._

[77] See Roussel, _ante_.

[78] What will the men-midwives, with all their precautionary humbug, say
to this?

"On the 3rd of June, 1857, at Moradabad, amid the terrors of mutiny, the
wife of Captain M. B. W----, Bengal Native Infantry, gave birth to a son,
and on the same day, with all the officers and their families, escaped to
Nynee Tal, a hill station distant about sixty-five miles, which they
reached in safety on the 5th instant at 11 a.m. They fled with only the
clothes on their backs, having been plundered of
everything."--_Correspondent of the Times._

Well might this English lady exclaim with the Indian mother, "Here,
Englishmen, here is a young warrior!"

[79] There cannot be a doubt that the habit of wearing stays is as
injurious to the internal organization of women as it is to their external
form. Physiologists are well aware of this, yet European women are so
enslaved by custom, that we see them tightening up their daughters, from
very infancy, in a framework of iron and bone, until their bodies assume
the shape which the corset-maker chooses, instead of that which nature, in
the perfection of her knowledge, would bestow.

[80] Diseases of Women, by E. Johnson, M.D.

[81] "The most natural proof that, in the first ages of the world, the
_man_-midwife (accoucheur) was unknown, is, that there is no word
whatsoever in the mother or original tongues to signify this profession in
a man, whereas that which signifies a midwife (accoucheuse) is found in
all languages."--_Hecquet de l'Indecence aux Hommes d'accoucher les
Femmes_, p. 1.

[82] Let any man who disputes this position peruse the case of
D----against D----, in Robertson's Reports of Cases in the Ecclesiastical
Courts, a terrible picture of conjugal contention and wretchedness in high
life, all clearly attributable to the accoucheur, who insisted upon the
husband leaving the lying-in chamber, and influenced the wife, fatally for
her husband's peace and her own, to concur in his exclusion. A more
flagrant instance of medical presumption and insolence could not readily
be found.

"Here then," says Sir Herbert Jenner Fust, in his judgment, "is the clue
to everything that subsequently took place--an end of all that happiness
and comfort which might have been expected to attend the union between
these parties."

The archives of the law would afford the inquirer many a fearful example
of similar evils consequent on the unnatural and sinful practice of
man-midwifery.



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these
letters have been replaced with transliterations.

Punctuation has been corrected without note.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  missing "be" added (page 24)
  transposed lines correced (pg 62)
  "instrustrument" corrected to "instrument" (page 63)
  "aros" corrected to "arose" (Footnote 11)
  "Pitsburgh" corrected to "Pittsburgh" (Footnote 41)
  "surgica" corrected to "surgical" (Footnote 52)

The mismatched quotation mark in footnote 68 is presented as in the
original text.

Hyphenation inconsistencies have been retained from the original.





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