The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 9 of 76

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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