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Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected
Gregory, Samuel
Published by George Gregory, New York
Location of original: Countway Rare Books, Harvard University
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physicians, who were even then distinguished and influential, gave the midwife their encouragement and assistance, and endeavored to introduce her into practice among the middle and higher classes. It appears, moreover, that the female practitioner had the audacity to advertise and give notice by handbills that she was qualified and prepared to wait upon ladies. This circumstance, together with the fact that two prominent physicians, 'of good and regular standing,' encouraged the lady, explains how public attention was turned to the subject, and why there was 'some discussion among the faculty.'
The nature of that discussion, it being, of course, in secret conclave, and not reported for the papers, does not fully appear; but from some paragraphs in the 'Remarks by a Physician,' it is evident that the debate was much like that of certain silversmiths, who made shrines for the temple of the voluptuous goddess Diana, when that man, who went about turning the world upside down, proclaimed the true doctrine of the Deity.---'Great is Diana of the Ephesians,'---Great is man-midwifery!'
That the cases were much alike will appear from that interesting document, 'Remarks by a Physician.'
'It is in vain ot say,' remarks the 'Physician,' 'that we have nothing to do with the general principle; that the present is a particular case, and will extend no farther. It is impossible any man should believe, that when a female has offered herself for practice, has been believed to be competent to her office, and has been received as an attendant among the most respectable families, her example should not be followed, that others should not likewise offer themselves and be employed, that the fashion should not go down in society till all classes had followed it, and had their practitioners of different degrees of respectability and merit.'
'But suppose, for a moment,' continues the 'Physician,' 'that the practice is not to extend beyond a single individual. If there is any good reason for recommending the employment of a female at all, why restrict the practice? If there is good reason for employing this one, there is good reason for employing another; therefore, why employ her at all? And besides, one cannot last forever, so that her patients must finally return to the employment of physicians, which must become doubly disagreeable from the idea which has been cherished, and will become
more powerful, that their employment is indelicate and improper.'
Here it is! The faculty were as much afraid of this midwife as the silversmiths were of the 'True God.' Here is logic: 'If there is good reason for employing this one, [and the remark implies there was,] there is good reason for employing another; [so there is;] therefore, why employ her at all?' Because it was right and proper, and those medical gentlemen who recommended her knew it.
But the next objection, that one midwife cannot last forever, is quite amusing; as if no more could be raised up, or in any manner be obtained, either native or imported! The argument founded on that objection is, however, worthy of the particular attention of the reader. The unfortunate patients must finally by necessity be forced back into the hands of the doctors, 'which must become doubly disagreeable, [no doubt of that,] from the idea which has been cherished, [there is then such an idea, though uncherished,] and which will become more powerful, that their employment [that of physicians] is indelicate and improper.'
True,---true! as the voice of nature, and that this voice 'will become more powerful by being cherished.' Let the idea that it is indelicate and improper become prevalent, and it is the death of man-midwifery.
Therefore, beloved brethren of the 'craft,' and particularly you who are so recreant to its interests, you perceive it is vitally important that we should not let these 'bond-women' go. It is even now difficult to keep them quietly in subjection; but let them once escape, and learn that they can live independently of us, their 'true and legitimate' lords obstetrical, let them once taste the pressures and blessings of freedom, and, unfortunately for themselves, it will be doubly diagreeable for them to return to our authority, and, alas for us! trebly difficult to reclaim the fugitives.
To prevent such a catastrophe, and stay the progress of the man-midwifery abolitionism so rife at the time, the pamplet---'Remarks by a Physician,' just quoted---was put forth to the profession, and the public at large. Tradition says they were, gratuitously of course, 'thrown into houses.' Whether the 'Physician' was a young David, who volunteered against the female Goliah, or whether, as appears most probable, he was duly appointed during the'discussion among the faculty,' as being their strongest man, and
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