The Works of Aristotle - CHAPTER II.

CHAPTER II.

Sec. I. How a woman should order herself in order to conception.

I AM very well satisfied that many women desire copulation, not from any delight or satisfaction they take therein, more than as it is the means appointed by Him that bids us increase and multiply, for the obtaining of children and the propagation of mankind. And though several make use of coition to obtain that end, yet we find by experience, that in many it does not succeed, because they order not themselves as they ought to do; for though it must be granted that all our endeavours depend upon the divine blessing, yet, if we are wanting in anything to ourselves, how can we expect that blessing to succeed our endeavours? My business therefore, in this section shall be to show how women that desire to have children should order themselves.

1st.-- Women that are desirous to have children must, in order thereunto give themselves to moderate exercise; for want of exercise and idleness are very great enemies to the work of generation, and indeed, are enemies both to soul and body. Those that do give themselves the trouble to observe it, will find those city dames that live high and do nothing, seldom have children, or if they have, they seldom live; whereas those poor women that accustom themselves to labour have many children, and those strong and lusty. Nor need we wonder at it if we consider the benefit that comes by moderate exercise and labour; for it opens the pores, quickens the spirits, stirs up the natural heat, strengthens the body, sense and spirits, comforts the limbs, and helps nature in all her exercises, of which procreation of children is none of the least.

2nd.-- Women, in order to conception, should avoid all manner of discontent, and the occasion of it; for discontent is a great enemy. to conception; and it so dispirits either man or woman, that it hinders them from putting forth that vigour which ought to be exercised in the act of coition. When on the contrary content and satisfaction of mind dilate the heart and arteries, whereby the vital blood and spirits are freely distributed throughout the body; and then arise such affections as please, recreate, and refresh the nature of man; as hope, joy, love, gladness and mirth. Nor does it only comfort and strengthen the body, but also the operation and imagination of the mind; which is so much the more necessary; inasmuch as the imagination of the mother works forcibly upon the conception of the child. Women, therefore, ought to take great care that their imagination be pure and clear, that their child may be well formed.

3rd.-- Women ought to take care to keep the womb in good order; and to see that the Menses come down as they ought to do: for if they are discoloured they are out of order. But if the blood comes down pure, then the woman will be very prime to conceive with child, especially if they use copulation in two or three days after the monthly terms are stayed.

4th.-- A woman that would conceive should observe that she does not use the act of coition too often; for satiety gluts the womb, and renders it unfit for its office.

There are two things that demonstrate this: i.e. that common whores (who often use copulation) have never, or rarely, any children; for the grass seldom grows in a path that is commonly trodden in. The other is, that women, whose husbands have been long absent, do, after copulation with them again, conceive very quickly.

5th.-- Care should be taken that the time of copulation be convenient, that there may be no fear of surprise: for fear hinders conception. And then it were best also that the desire of copulation be natural, and not stirred up by provocation; and if it be natural, the greater the woman's desire of copulation is, the more likely she is to conceive.

I will add no more, but what some authors report, that a lodestone carried about the woman not only causeth conception, but concord between man and wife; if it be true, I would have no married woman go without one, both for her own and husband's quiet.

 

Let all the fair who would have children from
Their soft embraces, read what's here laid down;
Those that to exercise themselves incline,

And in their love to be content design.
Who have their monthly terms in order flow,
And regulate them if they do not so;

That love's embraces moderately use,
And to enjoy them a fit season choose.
These may content with what they've done remain,
And need not fear their wishes to obtain.

 

Sec. II. What a Woman ought to observe after conception.

AFTER a woman has conceived, or has reason to think so, she ought to be very careful of herself, lest she should do anything that might hinder nature in her operation. For in the first two months after conception, women are very subject to miscarriages, because then the ligaments are weak, and soon broken. To prevent this, let the woman every morning drink a draught of sage ale, and it will do her abundant good. And if signs of abortion or miscarriage appear, let her lay a toast dipped in tent (in case muscadale cannot be got) to the navel for this is very good. Or let her take a little garden tansy, and having bruised it, sprinkle it with muscadale, and apply it to the navel, and she will find it much better. Also tea infused in ale, like sage ale, and a draught drunk every evening, is most excellent for such women as are subject to miscarriages. Also take juice of tansy, clarify it, and boil it up into a syrup, with twice its weight in sugar, and let a woman take a spoonful or two of it in such cases, and it will be an excellent preservative against miscarriages. Also if she can, let her be where the air is temperate. Let her sleep be moderate; let her also avoid all watching and immoderate exorcise, as also disturbing passions, loud clamour and filthy smells; and let her abstain from all things which may provoke either urine or the courses; and also from all sharp and windy meats; and let a moderate diet be observed. If the excrements of the guts be retained, lenify the belly with clysters made of the decoction of mellows and violets, with sugar and common oil; or make broth of borage, bugloss, beets, mallows, and take therein a little manna; but, on the contrary, if she be troubled with a looseness of the belly, let it not be stopped without the judgment of a physician; for that matter all uterine fluxes have a malignant quality, and must be evacuated and removed before the flux be stayed.

 

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