The Works of Aristotle - AN ANATOMICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE INSTRUMENTS OF GENERATION BOTH IN MAN AND WOMAN.

AN ANATOMICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE INSTRUMENTS OF GENERATION BOTH IN MAN AND WOMAN.

 

SECT. I. Of the Parts of Generation in Man.

As the generation of mankind is produced by the coition of both sexes, it necessarily follows that the instruments of generation are of two sorts, viz., male and female; the operations of which are by action and passion; and herein the agent is the seed, and the patient blood; whence we may easily collect, that the body of man being generated by action and passion, he must needs be subject thereunto during his life. Now, since the instruments of generation are male and female, it will be necessary to treat of them both distinctly, that the honest and discreet midwife may be well acquainted with their several parts, and their various operations, as they contribute to the work of generation. And, in doing this, I shall give the honour of precedence to my own sex, and speak first of the parts of generation in man, which will be comprehended under six particulars, viz., The preparing vessels, the corpus varicosum, the testicles, or stones, the vasa deferentia, the seminal vessels, and the yard. Of each of which in their order.

I.-- The first are the vasa preparentia, or preparing vessels, which are in number four, two veins, and as many arteries; and they are called preparing vessels from their office, which is to prepare that matter or substance which the stones turn into seed to fit it for the work. Whence you may note, that the liver is the original of blood, and distributes it through the body by the veins and not the heart, as some have taught. As to the original of these veins, the right vein proceedeth from the vena cava, or great vein, which receives the blood from the liver, and distributes it by its branches to all the body; the left is from the emulgent vein, which is one of the two main branches of the hollow vein passing to the reins. As to the arteries, they both arise from the great artery, which the Greeks call that which is indeed the great trunk and original of all the arteries. But I will not trouble you with Greek derivations of words, affecting more to teach you the knowledge of things than words.

2.-- The next thing to be spoken of is the corpus varicosum, this is an interweaving of the veins and arteries which carry the vital and natural blood to the stones to make seed of. These, though at their first descension they keep at a small distance the one from the other, yet before they enter the stones they make an admirable intermixture of twisting the one from the other, so that sometimes the veins go into the arteries, and sometimes the arteries into the veins; the substance of which is very hard and long, not much unlike a pyramid in fort, without any sensible hollowness: The use is to make one body of the blood and vital sprits, which they both mix and change the colour of from red to white, that so the stones may both have a fit matter to work upon, and do their work more easily; for which reason, the interweaving reacheth down to the very stones, and pierceth in their substance.

3.-- The stones are the third thing to be spoken of, called also testicles; in Latin Teste, that is, a witness, because they witness one to be a man. As to these I need not tell you their number, nor where nature has placed them, for that is obvious to the eye. Their substance is soft, white, and spongy, full of small veins and arteries, which is the reason they swell to such bigness upon the flowing down of the humour in them. Their form is oval; but most authors are of opinion that their bigness is not equal, but that the right is the biggest, the hottest, and breeds the best and strongest seed. Each of these stones hath a muscle, called cremaster, which signifies to hold up, because they pull up the stones in the act of coition, that so the vessels being slackened may the better void the seed. These muscles are weakened both by age and sickness; and then the stones hang down lower than in youth and health. These stones are of great use, for they convert the blood and vital spirits into seed for the procreation of man; but this must not be understood as if they converted all the blood that comes into them into seed, for they keep some for their own nourishment. But besides this, they add strength and courage to the body; which is evident from this, that eunuchs are neither so hot, strong, nor valiant, as other men, nor is an ox so hot or valiant as a bull.

4.-- The next in order are the vasa deferentia, which are the vessels that carry the seed from the stones to the seminal vessels, which is kept there till its expulsion. These are in number two, in colour white, and in substance nervous or sinewy; and from certain hollowness which they have in them are also called spermatic spores. They rise not far from the preparing vessels; and when they come into the cavity of the belly, they turn back again, and pass into the backside of the bladder, between it and the right gut; and when they come near the neck of the bladder they are joined to the seminal galls, which somewhat resemble the cells of an honey-comb; which cells contain an oily substance, for they draw the fatty substance from the seed, which they empty into the urinal passage, which is done for the most part in the act of copulation, that so the thin internal skin of the yard suffers not through the acrimony or sharpness of the seed. And when the vasa deferentia has passed, as before declared, they fall into the glandula prostrata, which are the vessels by nature ordained to keep the seed, and with are next to be spoken of.

5.-- The seminal vessels, called glandulum seminal, are certain kernels placed between the neck of the bladder and the right gut, composing about the vasa deferentia, the urethra. or common passage for seed and urine, passing through the midst of it, and may properly enough be Sled the conduit of the yard. At the mouth of the urethra, where it meets with the vasa deferentia, there is a thick skin, whose office is to hinder the seminal vessels, which are of a spongy nature, from shedding their seed against their will; this skin is very full of pores, and through the heat of the act of copulation the pores open, and so give passage to the seed, which being of a very subtile spirit, and especially being moved, will pass through this caruncle or skin as quicksilver through a leather; and yet the pores of skin are not discernible unless In the anatomy of a man who had some violent running in the reins when he died, and then they are conspicuous, those vessels being the proper seat of that disease.

6.-- The last of the parts of generation in man to be spoken of is the yard, which has a principal share in the work of generation, and is called Penis, from its hanging without the belly; and it consists of skin, tendons, veins, arteries, sinews, and great ligaments, and is long and round, being ordained by nature both for the passage of the urine, and for the conveying of the seed into the matrix. It has some parts common with it to the rest of the body , as the skin, o the Membrana Carnosa; and some parts of it has peculiar to itself, as the two nervous bodies the Septum, the Urethra, the Glans, the four muscles, and the vessels. The skin, which the Latins called Cutus, is full of pores, through which the sweet and suligmous or sooty black vapours of the third concoction (which concocts the blood into flesh) pass out. These pores are very many and thick, but hardly visible to the eye; and when the yard stands not, it is sluggy; but when it stands, it is stiff. The skin is very sensible, because the nerves concur to make up its being; for the brain gives sense to the body by the nerves. As to the Carnus Membrana, or fleshy skin, it is so called not because its body is fleshy, but because it lies between the flesh and passeth in other parts of the body underneath the fat, and sticks close to the muscles; but in the yard there is no fat at all, only a few superficial veins and arteries pass between the former skin and this, which when the yard stands are visible to the eye. These are the parts common both to the yard and to the rest of the body. I will now weak of those parts of the yard which are peculiar to itself, and to no other parts of the body: And those are likewise six, as has been already said, of which it Will also be necessary to speak particularly. And,

1.-- Of the Nervous Bodies: Those are two, though joined together, and are hard, long, and sinewy; they are spongy within, and full of black blood: the spongy substance of the inward part of it seems to be woven together like a net, consisting of innumerable twigs of veins and arteries. The black blood contained therein is very full of spirits, and the delights or desire of Venus add heat to these; which causeth the yard to stand; and that is the reason that both venereal sights and tales will do it. Nor need it be strange to any, that Venus, being a planet cold and moist, should add heat to those parts, since by night, as the Psalmist testifies, psalm cxxi., 9. Now this hollow, spongy intermixture or weaving was so ordered by nature, on purpose to contain the spirit of venereal heat, that the yard may not fail before it has done its work. These two side-ligaments of the yard, where they are thick and round, arise from the lower part of the share-bone, and at the beginning are separated the one from the other, resembling a pair of horns, or the letter Y, where the Urethra, or passage of urine and seed, passeth between them.

2.--Those nervous bodies of which I have spoken, so soon as they come to the joining of the share-bone, are joined by the Sceptum Lucium, which is the second internal part to be described, which in substance is white and nervous, or sinewy, and its use is to uphold the two side-ligaments and the Urethra.

3.-- The third thing in the internal parts of the yard is the Urethra, which is the passage or channel by which both the seed and urine are conveyed out through the yard. The substance of it is sinewy, think, soft, and loose, as the side-ligaments are; it begins at the neck of the bladder, and, being joined to it, passeth to the Glans. It has in the beginning of it three holes, of which the largest of them is in the midst, which receives the urine into it; the other two are smaller, by which it receives the seed from each seminal vessel.

4.-- The yard has four muscles, on each side two; these muscles are instruments of voluntary motion, without which no part of the body can move itself. It consists of fibrous flesh to make its body, of nerves for its sense, of veins for its nourishment, of arteries for its vital heat, of a membrane or skin to knit it together and to distinguish one muscle from another, and all them from the flesh: Of these muscles, as I said before, the yard has two on each side, and the use of them is to erect the yard and make it stand, and therefore are they also called Erectores. But here you must note, that of the two on each side, the one is shorter and thicker than the other, and these are they that do erect the yard, and so are called Erectores; the other two are longer and smaller, their office is to dilate the lower part of the Urethra, both for making water and emitting the seed; upon which account they are called Accelerators.

5.-- That which is called the Glans, is the extreme part of the yard, which is very soft, and of a most exquisite feeling, by reason of the thinness of the skin wherewith it is covered: This is covered with the praeputium, or foreskin, which in some men covers the top of the yard quite close, but in others it doth not; which skin moving up and down in the act of copulation, brings pleasure both to man and woman. This outer skin is that which the Jews were commanded to cut off on the eighth day. This praeputium, or fore-skin, is tied to the Glans by a ligament or bridle, which is called Fraenum.

6.-- The last internal part of the yard are the vessels thereof, veins nerves and arteries. Of these some pass by the skin, and are visible to the eye when the yard stands; others pass by the inward parts of the yard; the arteries are wonderfully dispersed through the body of the yard, much exceeding the dispersion of the veins; for the right artery is dispersed to the left side, and the left to the right side. It hath two nerves, the lesser whereof is bestowed upon the skin, the greater upon the muscles and body of the yard. But this much shall suffice to be said in describing the parts of generation in men: And shall therefore, in the next place, proceed to describe those of women, that so the honest and industrious midwife may know how to help them in their extremities.

 

SECT. II. Describing the Parts of Generation in Women.

WHATEVER ignorant person may imagine, or some good women think, they are unwilling those private parts, which nature has given them, should be exposed, yet it is in this case absolutely necessary; for I do positively affirm that it is impossible truly to apprehend what a midwife ought to do, if these parts are not perfectly understood by them; nor do I know any reason they have to be ashamed to see or hear a particular description of what God and nature has given them, since it is not the having these parts, but the unlawful use of them, that causes shame.

To proceed then in this description more regularly, I shalt speak in order of these following principal parts: 1st, Of the Privy Passage; 2ndly, Of the Womb; 3rdly, Of the Testicles, or Stones; 4thly, Of the Spermatic Vessels.

1st. Of the Privy Passage. Under this head I shall consider the six following parts:

1. The Lips, which are visible to the eye, and are designed by nature as a cover to the Fissura Magna, or great orifice: These are framed of the body, and have pretty store of spongy fat; and their use is to keep the internal parts from cold and dust. These are the only things that are obvious to the sight; the rest are concealed, and cannot be seen unless these two tips are stretched asunder and the entry of the privities opened.

2. When the lips are severed, the next thing that appears is the Nymphae, or wings; they are formed of soft and spongy flesh, and are in form and colour like the comb of a cock.

3. In the uppermost part, just above the urinary passage, may be observed the Clitoris, which is a sinewy and hard body, full of spongy and black matter within, like the side ligament of the yard, representing in form the yard of a man, and suffers erection and falling as that doth; and it grows hard and becomes erected as a man's yard, in proportion to the desire a woman hath in copulation; and this desire also is that which gives a woman delight in copulation; for without this a woman hath neither a desire to copulation and delight in it, nor can she conceive by it. And I have heard that some women have had their Clitoris so long that they have abused other women therewith: Nay, some have gone so far as too say that those persons that have been reported to be Hermaphrodites, as having the genitals both of men and women, are only such women to whom the Clitoris hangs out externally, resembling the form of a yard. But though I will not be positive in this, yet it is certain, that the larger the Clitoris is in any woman the more fruitful she is.

4. Under the Clitoris and above the neck, appears the Orifice, or urinary passage, which is much larger in women than men, and causes their water to come from them in a great stream. On both sides the urinary passage may be seen two small membranous appendices, a little broader above than below, issuing forth of the inward parts of the great lips, immediately under the Clitoris; the use whereof is to cover the orifice of the urine, and defend the bladder from the cold air; so that when a woman pisseth, she contracts herself so, that she conducts out the urine without suffering it to spread along the privities, and often without so much as wetting the lips; and therefore these small membranous wings are called the Nymphae, because they govern the woman's water. Some women have them so great and long, that they have been necessitated to cut off so much as has exceeded and grew without the lips.

5. Near this are four Caruncles, or fleshy knobs, commonly called Caruncles Myrtiformes; these are placed on each side two, and a small one above, just under the urinary passage, and in virgins are reddish, plump, and round, but hang flagging when virginity is lost. In virgins they are joined together by thin and sinewy skin or membrane, which is calls the Hymen, and keeps them in subjection, and makes them resemble a kind of rose-bud half blown. This disposition of the Caruncles is the only certain mark of virginity, it being in vain to search for it elsewhere, or hope to be informed of it any other way. And 'tis from the passing and bruising these Caruncles, and forcing and breaking the little membranes (which is done by the yard in the first act of copulation), that there happens an effusion of blood; after which they remain separated, and never recover their first figure, but become more and more flat as the acts of copulation are increased; and in those that have children they are almost totally deseated, by reason of the great distension these parts suffer in the time of their labour. Their use is to straighten the neck of the womb, to hinder the cold air from incommoding it, and likewise to increase mutual pleasure in the act of coition; for the caruncles being then extremely swelled and filled with blood and spirits, they close with more pleasure upon the yard of the man, whereby the woman is much more delighted. What I have said of the effusion of blood which happens in the first act of copulation, though when it happens it is an undoubted sign of virginity, showing the Caruncles Myrtiformes have never been pressed till then, yet when there happens no blood, it is not always a sign that virginity is lost before; for the Hymen may be broken without copulation by the defluction of sharp humours, which sometimes happens to young virgins, because in them it is thinnest. It is also done by the unskilful applying of bestaries to provoke the terms, etc. But these things happen so rarely, that those virgins to whom it so happens do thereby bring themselves under a just suspicion.

6. There is next to be spoken of the neck of the womb, which is nothing else but the distance between the privy passage and the mouth of the womb, into which the man's yard enters in the act of copulation: and in women of reasonable stature is about eight inches in length. 'Tis of a membranous substance, fleshy without, skinny and very much wrinkled within; that it both may retain the seed cast into it in the act of copulation, and also that it may dilate and extend: itself to give sufficient passage to the infant at its birth. it is composed of two membranes, the innermost of them being white, nervous, and circularly wrinkled, much like the palate of an ox, that so it might either contract or dilate itself according to the bigness or length of the man's yard; and to the end that, by the collision, or squeezing, or pressing made by the yard in copulation, the pleasures may be naturally augmented. The external or outmost membrane is red and fleshy like the muscle of the Fundament, surrounding the first, to the end the yard may the better be closed within it; and it is by means of this membrane that the next adheres the stronger both to the bladder and the right guts. The internal membrane in young girls is very soft and delicate, but in women much addicted to copulation it grows harder; and in those that are grown aged, if they have been given much to venery, it is almost become grisly

2ndly, Having spoken of the privy passage, I come now to speak of the Womb, which the Latins call Matrix, yet the only English word is the womb. Its parts are two; the mouth of the womb and the bottom of it. The mouth is an orifice at the entrance into it, which may be dilated and shut together like a purse; for although in the act of copulation it be big enough to receive the glans of the yard, yet after conception it is so close and shut, that it will not admit of the point of a bodkin to enter; and yet again at the time of the woman's delivery it is opened so extraordinary that the infant passeth through it into the world at which time this orifice wholly disappears, and the womb seems to have but one great cavity, from its bottom to the very entrance of the neck. When a woman is not with child it is a little oblong, and of substance very thick and close; but when she is with child it is shortened, and its thickness diminisheth proportionably to its distension. And therefore it is a mistake of some anatomists to affirm, that its substance waxeth thicker a little before a woman's labour; for any one's reason will inform them, that the more distended it is the thinner it must be, and the nearer a woman is to the time of her delivery the shorter her womb must be extended. As to the action by which this inward orifice of the womb is opened and shut, it is purely nature; for, were it otherwise, there would not be so many bastards begotten as there are; nor would many married women have so many children were it at their own choice, but they would hinder conception, though they would be willing enough to use copulation; for nature has attended that action with something so pleasing and delightful, that they are willing to indulge themselves in the use thereof, notwithstanding the pains they afterwards endure and the hazard of their lives that often follow it. And this comes to pass not so much from any inordinate lust in women, as for that the great Director of Nature, for the increase and multiplication of mankind, and even of all other species in the elementary world, hath placed such a magnetic virtue in the womb, that it draws the seed to it as the lode-stone draws iron.

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

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

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

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

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

The womb then is composed of various similary parts, that is, of membranes, veins, arteries, and nerves. Its membranes are two, and they compose the principal part of its body; the outmost of which ariseth from the Peritoneum or cawl, and is very thin, without smooth, but within equal, that is may the better cleave to the womb, as it were fleshy and thicker than any else we meet within the body when a woman is not pregnant, and is interwoven with all sorts of fibres or small strings, that it may the better suffer the extension of the child, and the waters caused during the pregnancy, and also that it may the easier close again after delivery.

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

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

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

Its use, or proper action in the work of generation, is to receive and retain the seed, and to reduce it from power to action by its heat, for the generation of the infant, and is therefore absolutely necessary for the conservation of the species. It also seems by accident to receive and expel the impurities of the whole body, as when women have abundance of whites, and to purge away from time to time the superfluity of the blood, as it doth every month by the evacuation of the blood, as when woman is not with child. And this much shall suffice for the description of the womb, on which I have been the larger, because, as I have said before, it is the field of generation.

3rdly. The next thing to be described in the genitals of women is the Testicles or Stones, for such women have as well as men, but are not for the same use, and indeed are different from those in men in several particulars; as first, in place, being within the belly, whereas in men they are without. Secondly, in figure, being uneven in women, but smooth in men. Thirdly, in magnitude, being lesser in women than in men. Fourthly, they are not fixed in women by muscles, but by ligatures. Fifthly, they have no prostrates, or kernels as men have. Sixthly, they differ in form, being depressed or flattish in women, but oval in men. Seventhly, they have but one skin, whereas men have four; for the stones of men being more exposed, nature has provided for them accordingly. Eighthly, their substance is more soft than in men. And ninthly, their temperature is colder than men. And so they differ in all these respects, so do they also in their use, for they perform not the same actions as men's, as I shall show presently. As for their seat, it is in the hollowness of the abdomen, and therefore not extremely pendulous, but rest upon the ova, or egg. 'Tis true Galen and Hippocrates did erroneously imagine that the stones in women both contain and elaborate the seed, as those do in men, but it is a great mistake; for the testicles of a woman are as it were no more than two clusters of eggs, which lie there to be impregnated with the most spirituous particles, or animating effluviums conveyed out of the womb through the two tubes or different vessels. But, however, the stones in women are very useful, for where they are defective generation work is at an end. For though these little bladders, which are on their superfices, contain nothing of seed, yet they contain several eggs (commonly to the number of twenty in each testicle), one of which being impregnated in the act of coition, by the most spirituous part of the seed of man, descends through the oviducts into the womb, and there in process of time becomes a living child,

4thiy. I am now to speak of the Spermatic Vessels in women, which are two, and are fastened in their whole extent by a membranous appendix to the broad ligament of the womb: Those do not proceed from the testicles as in men, but are distant from them a finger's breadth at least; and being disposed after the manner of the Miseraic Veins, are trained along this membranous distance between the different vessels and the testicles. Their substance is, as it were, nervous and moderately hard; they are round, hollow, big, and broad enough at their end, joining to the horn of the womb. Some authors affirm that by these women discharge their seed into the bottom of the womb; but the whole current of our modern authors run quite another way, and positive that there is no seed at all in their vessels, but that after the egg or eggs in the Ovaria or testicles are impregnated by the seed of the man, they descend through these two vessels into the womb, where, being placed, the embryo is nourished. These vessels are shorter in women than they are in men; for the stones of a woman lying within the belly, their passage must needs be shorter; but their various wreathings and windings in and out makes amends for the shortness of the passage. These vessels are not united before they come to the stones, but the biggest only passes through the testicles, the lesser to the womb, both for the nourishment of itself and the infant in it. I will only observe further, that these spermatic veins receive the arteries as they pass by the womb, and so there is a mixture between vital and natural blood, that so the work might be the better wrought; and that it is so, appears by this, that if you blow up the spermatic vein you may perceive the right and the left vessel of the womb blown up; from whence also the communion of all the vessels of the womb may be easily perceived.

The deferentia, or carrying vessels, spring from the lower part of the testicles, and are in colour white, and in substance sinewy, and pass not the womb straight, but wreathed with several turnings and windings, as was said of the spermatic vessels, that so the shortness of the way may be likewise recompensed by their winding meanders; yet near the womb they become broad again. They proceed in two parts from the womb, which resemble horns, and are therefore called the horns of the womb. And this is all that is needful to be known or treated of concerning the parts of generation both in men and women.

Only since our modern anatomists and physicians are of different sentiments from the ancients, touching the woman's contribution of seed for the formation of the child as well as the man; the ancients strongly affirming it, but our modern authors being generally of another judgment; I will here declare the several reasons for their different opinions, and so pass on.

 

SECT. III. Of the Differences between the ancient and modern Physicians, touching the Woman's contra-uniting Seed to the formation of the Child.

I WILL not make myself a party in this controversy, but set down impartially, but yet briefly, the arguments on each side, and leave the judicious reader to judge for himself.

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

But against all this our modern authors affirm that the ancients were never erroneous, forasmuch as the testicles in women do not afford seed but are two eggs, like those of fowls and other creatures, neither have they any such offices as men, but indeed are as Ovarium, or receptacle for eggs, wherein these eggs are nourished by the sanguinary vessels dispersed through them, and from thence one or more, as they are foecundated by the man's seed, are conveyed into the womb by the oviducts. And the truth of this, say they, is so plain that if you boil them, their liquor will have the same taste, colour and consistency with the taste of birds' eggs. And if it be objected that they have no shells, the answer is easy, for the eggs of fowls, while they are in the ovary, nay, after they have fallen into the Uterus, hove no shell; and though they have one when they are lain, yet it is no more than a fence, which nature has provided for them against outward injuries, they being hatched without the body; but those of women being hatched within the body, hath no need of any other fence than the womb to secure them.

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

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

Having thus laid the foundation of this work in the description I have given of the parts dedicated to the work of generation both in man and woman, I will now proceed to speak of conception, and of those things that are necessary to be observed by women from the time of their conception to the time of their delivery.

 

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