woman and chastity; a triumph over delicacy, and that shrinking, modest
reserve, the safeguard of virtue and the charm of female character. A
glorious triumph! such as a more gallant pagan would blush to acknowledge.
The doctor's doubt as to the full completion of the triumph is very reasonable.
To those who have not read the history of this great 'revolution,' it
may be interesting to know what hard conflicts have been witnessed, and
what uproar has been heard during this long and hard-fought war between
the invaders and the defenders of 'certain natural and inalienable rights.'
One more quotation then from the champion, Dr. Davis. 'The transfer of
these duties from one sex to the other was not indeed effected without
POWERFUL OPPOSITION, and without exciting a PRODIGIOUS
With such opposition and uproar has a partial triumph in a few countries
been achieved. It has evidently been uphill work for the assailants. Inch
by inch has the ground been disputed.
As a specimen of the hazards incurred by the early movers in this revolution,
we are informed that one Dr. Vites, of Hamburg, having
disguised himself in female attire, (a very proper one, by the way, for
men-midwives,) succeeded in being present at a childbirth. He was, however,
arrested, and, for this outrage against the laws of nature and propriety,
was publicly branded.
It appears then that we permit medical gentlemen not only to perform,
but pretty much to monopolize a business, to be a spectator of which once
aroused public indignation, and branded the offender with infamy. Yet,
contradictory as it may seem, we have some practitioners, and some patients,
and some employers, so much more delicate and pure than the good people
of Hamburg, as to be utterly shocked and ready to perform a swoon at the
bare idea of exposing and correcting the pernicious custom.
The progress of the new order of things was very slow, having to encounter
that natural sense of propriety which even custom cannot annihilate nor
thoroughly subdue. This moral and physical plague first appeared,
as we have seen, in the top, or scum of society, and gradually penetrated
the more solid and healthy strata.
The writer of the article 'Midwifery,' in Rees's Cyclopedia, says, 'That
the poor who could not, and those who from prejudice still refused to
employ men, might reap the benefits of the improvements that have been
|made in the
practice of the art, no women are allowed to engage in the business, who
have not been previously instructed by some public teacher, and who do not
obtain from him certificates of their qualifications.' This is very humane,
for the authorities to provide educated midwives for the poor and the scrupulous.
Among us there are multitudes of this latter class who are obliged to employ
men because we have not provided midwives, with that knowledge and
those certificates which would at once insure confidence in their abilities,
and give them the preference over men-operators. And for our rulers and
the sovereign people, by this negligence and necessity, to force the fair
demurrers to act against their delicate scruples, is worse tyranny than
to compel Quakers, against their consciences, to take oath or fight the
If, by having educated midwives, the poor and the particular
can 'reap the benefits of the improvements that have been made in the practice,'
as stated in the above quotation, why may not the whole community reap the
same benefits in the same way?
Neither the Puritans nor the other colonists brought over any accoucheurs
with them. Indeed, the name had not been 'invented,' nor the thought conceived.
And for more than a century after, such a personage was not known among
Dr. Shippen, of Philadelphia, was the first public lecturer on midwifery,
in the United States. He commenced in 1762, with a class of ten pupils.
A Dr. Atwood was the first in the city of New York, who ventured to advertise
himself as a man-midwife, in 1762.
The innovation commenced somewhat later in New England. In 1820, a pamphlet,
entitled, 'Remarks on the Employment of Females as Practitioners in Midwifery,
by a Physician,' was published in this city of Boston. The circumstances
which gave rise to the pamphlet are peculiarly interesting in connection
with this subject, and the document itself is a very remarkable one, of
which some use will be made in the following pages; the history of its origin
will also be given. At present the pamphlet will furnish a little information
as to the antiquity of man-midwifery in Boston, where the profession
were first in assuming and have been foremost in playing 'the trade of a
'Among ourselves,' says the 'Physician,' 'it is scarcely more than half
a century since females were almost the only accoucheurs. It was one of
the first and happiest fruits of