The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 22 of 76

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Griffin's claw, a peculiar hooked instrument.


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

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


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


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


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

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