London: [no printer], 1711.
Duodecimo: 14.6 x 8.4 cm. , iv, 180, pp. With the woodcut frontispiece (leaf A1), and the folding woodcut illustration. Collation: A-H12
“SECOND EDITION”(But in fact 4th edition).
First published under this title in 1700 (BL, NLS; National Library of Medicine and State Library of South Australia). This second edition is recorded at BL, Birmingham University and Glasgow University. No copies recorded on ESTC in the USA. This work also printed under the title “Culpeper's Compleat and Experienc'd Midwife” in the same year (no copies recorded in ESTC but there is a copy at Bodley).
A very good copy in very contemporary sheepskin, seamlessly rebacked, boards ruled in blind, and with the initials "H / C E" to upper and lower boards. Contents lightly toned, folding plate a little creased and with a short tear that just touches the plate, last few lvs. a little frayed at edges, but otherwise a very fine copy. Contemporary sheep, covers ruled in blind, blind initials "H / C E" to upper and lower boards.
A popular childbirth manual covering the entire process from conception through pregnancy, labor and the caring for new born babies and older children. With a frontispiece depicting a woman who has just given birth attended to by six women. The folding plate shows the position of a baby in the womb.
Part of the vast number of publications on reproduction attributed to Aristotle, most famous of which being ‘Aristoteles Master-Piece’ (first published in London in 1684).
The present book trades on Aristotle's name but provides much more practical and medically informed advice on the process of childbirth. The book purports to be a translation into English and the dedication is to "The Midwives" on account of the "many Persons, as I saw every Day in danger of Perishing, by the committing themselves into the Hands of unskilled Midwives." (p.1)
The initial sections set out the rudimentary process of conception with anatomical attention given to the sexual reproductive parts of both the male and female. Next follows a section on successful conception and the biological signs of pregnancy. Great detail is then given on a month-by-month basis regarding the correct preparation for childbirth (including the questionable practice of anointing with duck, hen or goose fat, p.27). In this section the rudimentary woodcut diagram shows a child in the womb prior to delivery.
The next sections are on labor and birth and provide information on the delivery of the after-birth and the correct procedure for "labouring of a dead child" (p.74). The rest of the work concentrates on the care of the newborn child, medical complications after birth and the nursing of the newborn. There are also chapters on disease related to the womb.
The simultaneous printing of this work under two titles - utilizing the fame of both Aristotle and Culpeper suggests that the book was aimed at the widest possible readership with the publisher hedging their bets on whether a purchaser might be attracted to the pseudo-classical reputation of Aristotle or the medically-trained reputation of Nicholas Culpeper. It is also hard to imagine that the attribution of "W S" as the translator - no doubt supposed to be the doctor and medical author William Salmon (1644-1713) - can be correct.
A popular childbirth manual aimed at a mass market and dismissed, at the time as one of the "many miserable volumes" on the subject derided by more serious works such as Thomas Chamberlayne's “The Compleat Midwife's Practice Enlarged” (1695). Despite all of the drawbacks of this cheap work though its popularity means that it must have been consulted and may well have been in use for centuries after its publication. While more affluent women may have been able to afford a doctor or trained midwife, lower sections of society would no doubt have turned to these cheap manuals as a guide to all aspects of childbirth and reproduction and as such deserve to be studied as an important source for information on women's heath in the period.