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period when it commenced; by which they were prompted to exercise every insinuating art, and urge pretences of necessity for accomplishing their purposes, and establishing their practice. Doubtless they were accustomed then, as they now are, to be admitted into families on much freer terms than other male visitors. It is probable that they did not then, in general, act with the unblushing effrontery of their successors of the present age. Their practice in midwifery would generally be first introduced amongst young females only, on whose comparative artlessness and timidity they could most easily impose; and then a sense of delicacy having placed these completely and permanently under their restraint, as respects complaining of a breach of it to their husbands and the world, as I shall presently show, the next generation of females, by the arts of medical men, aided by the force of example, would more readily fall into their snares. In the mean time, the husband, as in the present day, being totally unacquainted with the business of midwifery, and hoping and fully expecting, in the ordinary course of events, that his wife's labor would be quite regular, and that the chance of a necessity for artificial aid was barely possible, confidently anticipated that the surgeon, though present, would not have occasion to offer more than a very slightly offensive assistance; and therefore made no objection to his attendance. The medical man well knew, by reflection on the properties of the human mind or by experience, that having once gained a point, delicacy would seal the mouth of the wife, and those of her female confidential attendants; and would even so far restrain them from complaining of the particular case, that in general they would not even do so to others of their own sex. He also well knew, that the husband, being entirely ignorant of the real character of the affair, or in case of unexpected or pretended difficulty, presuming on necessity, would manifest no objection. Thus the general practice of man-midwifery was established, and has been continued to the present time.
I am certain, that had husbands in general been aware of the nature and long continuance of the ordinary assistance personally given by the accoucheur, uniformly, in the later periods of even a perfectly natural and easy labor, the abominably gross indelicacy of it, as administered by a man, would have prevented the origin, or at least have speedily shortened the continuance of man-midwifery. Though this particular interference is exercised by every common midwife, as well as accoucheur, and has more relation to the temporary ease, than the safety of the mother; and though nature alone would operate effectually in nearly all instances, as it does throughout the whole viviparous creation, yet as it is of so simple a nature, that with a midwife it is quite harmless,
should it even be useless, I do not wish to be understood as censuring its adoption in proper hands.
Having taken a cursory view of the origin of man-midwifery, and of the primitive causes of its present continuance, the reader will not be surprised that the practice should be so very prevalent in this country as it now is, more especially if he advert to the present situation of affairs connected with it. The facility afforded to young men in late years of instruction in surgery and midwifery, the numerous anatomical lectures, and lectures on midwifery at the same time provided for their improvement, the great advances, both real and pretended, which have been lately made in the science of midwifery, the surprisingly increased number of surgeons, and even of physicians in the country who practise as such, have combined, as the immediate causes, almost wholly to extinguish the ancient and salutary practice of midwives, in consequence of their not having kept equal pace in improvement. It is well known that medical men, in general, have hitherto exerted all their influence to prevent women from acquiring a scientific knowlege of midwifery.
I will now proceed to point out the various great evils peculiar to the present system.
Besides the ordinary abuse arising out of man-midwifery, as before mentioned, licentious tricks of enormous depravity are sometimes committed, and others highly objectionable are very frequently practised by accoucheurs, in the course of their professional avocations. In entering on this part of the present subject, I will, with a view to prove the frequency of these extraordinary abuses, in the first place, quote the convincing arguments on this point, expressed in an excellent tract, published since the last edition of my pamphlet appeared, and which is intitled, "Observations on the impropriety of Men being employed in the business of Midwifery." The author's words are as follows:
"1st. Lust is the most powerful of all the appetites: to whatever extent it may be gratified, its demands are soon again renewed, especially if attracted by variety in its objects; and when the body has lost its power of indulgence, the mind frequently retains its desires, sometimes even heightened in a great degree. Therefore men advanced in years, when inclined by their vicious propensities, are empowered by their experience, and consequent subtleties, to contaminate the minds of women more than younger and less experienced men. Lust being thus the most powerful of all the appetites, it is, and it is necessary for natural purposes that it should be, less under the influence of the reason, than any other appetite; for if we had the power of coolly deliberating on the effects of indulgence, the intentions of nature would be
often frustrated. In consequence whereof this appetite is most subject to abuse.
2nd. It is natural to man to abuse power and opportunity. "3rd. From the peculiar nature of their profession, accoucheurs have the greatest incitement to lust, and possess more ready means and pretences by which they may gratify it to a great extent, than any other class of men.
"If these propositions be granted, and I think they cannot be denied, every thing is admitted that I wish to establish; namely, that great moral abuses are necessarily committed by medical men."
I shall presently adduce various substantial reasons why the accoucheurs cannot be easily hindered, or seldom positively detected, in great abuses. One general conclusion, to be drawn from this observation and the arguments I have just cited, is, that, even without reference to various other objections to man-midwifery, and the abuse arising out of the ordinary practice of the accoucheur, no man, of whatever age, constitution, character, or station, can be reasonably depended on to act safely and correctly as an assistant at childbirth under any circumstances.
But should any person be so inconvincible, as really to consider the author's reasoning inconclusive, I appeal to such disinterested part of the community, as is competent to decide, for the truth of the frequency and generality in practice of the following wanton abuse, which the necessity of understanding will at once justify an allusion to here. It is common with many accoucheurs, besides the usual attention, to interfere in an early stage of even a regular labor, and occasionally afterwards, for the pretended purposes of ascertaining the progress made, or what length of time the practitioner may give to the pursuit of other professional avocations before assistance will become requisite. This being a very common practice, and of itself a grossly indelicate abuse, is it not exceedingly probable, that the accoucheur who, acting under the impulse of lust, thus takes one step in crime, must in time become hardened in guilt; and, accustomed to witness corporal agony with indifference, may be urged by a shocking depravity and the impetuosity of this passion to commence a dangerous surgical operation, under a pretence of its necessity, trusting that the real character of such an affair will not be discovered?
For an account of numerous general and particular instances of atrocious abuses, proceeding from lustful appetite, as committed by accoucheurs, I refer the reader to the respectable tract from which I have before quoted. The instances, to which I more especially allude, are the following: the abuses in the practice of the London hospitals, where the young medical man commonly finishes his studies; abuses in private practice, as unavailing personal ex
aminations by the accoucheur, when consulted during pregnancy, under pretence of ascertaining the position of the child; or if the female complain of pains in the abdomen, which are not uncommon during pregnancy, suggesting the possibility of an inflammation of the womb, and requiring a visual examination; in the case of an unfortunate single woman, requiring such examination, when consulted to ascertain whether she were with child; a particular instance of very gross licentiousness towards a young married lady, in a case of miscarriage, committed by one of the most celebrated professors in London; and a case, which, though not exactly in point, is a collateral proof of the existence of these abuses, an infamous, but happily frustrated, scheme formed by a surgeon, to wantonly resort to a highly indelicate surgical process in a certain female disorder, when the use of medicine alone was subsequently deemed by another surgeon, his partner, amply sufficient, as the case proved, to give effectual relief.
I will give in the author's words a description of the general practices of the celebrated London professor, whom I have just mentioned, and accompany it with an extract from another part of the author's tract. "It appears that he does not indiscriminately attend ladies who apply to him; but when his attendance is required, he calls on the party. If her person be attractive, he agrees to attend her; if otherwise, he excuses himself on the plea of ill-health, or having already too much business; professing his call to be one of politeness merely. To prove motives is impossible, but this is certain. He has offers of so much more business than he would be able to attend to, that he has the power of making a choice without sacrificing his self-interest; and he does reject some ladies, although of superior station, in the manner and on the pleas ascribed to him. Also in the case of the young lady I have mentioned, he proved himself to be a gentleman not unlikely to adopt such a system. Besides, the extent to which the refinements of vice are carried by many persons, every body is acquainted with.
"It often happens that when those men who practise midwifery have acquired celebrity in their profession, and have therefore no longer occasion to win their way by gentleness and courting (and this generally happens at that period of life when gentleness and courting would avail them little), they commonly assume, grounded on their great experience and profound wisdom, a. grave and decided air; demanding openly and boldly any kind of examination their virtuous propensities may prompt them to require. The husband, if he be apprised of the doctor's dictum, is compelled to concede, from the supposed necessity and urgency of the case the wife, under the influence of fear, of course sub
mits, and the doctor has his gratification; knowing little about the matter, if there be any thing the matter, and caring no more for the result; receives his fee and departs, laughing as he goes at the gullibility of mankind."
It has been observed, says the same author, first, "that women offer no attractions to men at the time of childbirth;" secondly, "that if the man have any enjoyment, it is of little importance, as the woman does not participate ;" and thirdly, "that the nurse is a protector from excessive abuse to women in these situations." He also anticipates an objection by stating, fourthly, "that unless for his previous and subsequent remarks, it might be supposed that accoucheurs would be deterred by self-interest from the commission of professional crimes." The author has refuted this sophistry, and I refer the reader to his tract for his reasoning. These excuses or arguments in favor of man-midwifery are so absurd, that I will say only a few words in reply to them. And first, it is important to remark that they purpose to obviate one only of the evils of the present system of midwifery-that is lust. Women, on the occasions mentioned, certainly offer few or none of the attractions arising from mental accomplishments; but they do offer the attractions of the person; and if these are impaired in some degree by the absence of these accomplishments and the occasion, the defect is readily extinguished in the mind of the experienced and intrepid accoucheur. He obviates the defect by the allowance he can make for its being temporary, for its not being the consequence of disease, but of a regular course of nature, and by the strong sensations arising from his extraordinarily unrestrained possession and enjoyment of the person, heightened by the novelty, and perhaps the youthful modesty, of the particular object. In reply to the second argument, freely admitting that the woman has no enjoyment, it does not contend that the accoucheur is free from unlawful lust, and as he is not, here is one crime; and surely to be with alacrity the passive object of this lust, if such a case should happen, is to be an abettor of the crime. In reference to the third excuse; the nurse bears such an intimate relation to the accoucheur, that she is rather an approver than a protector; besides an experienced accoucheur is too hardened to suffer the least restraint in his professional business from the presence of women, who I shall presently show are of little avail for the purpose of either detection or exposure. As to the fourth argument; it is extremely difficult to expose or positively detect the accoucheur, in cases even of great extraordinary abuse, on account of his ready. plea, and for other reasons noticed hereafter; besides experience proves that men frequently sacrifice their greatest temporal, as well as their eternal interests to their passions.