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Robert Dale Owen.

Moral physiology; or, A brief and plain treatise on the population question online

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there existed such mechanical obstruction in the vagina, os
tincaB or collum uteri, as to render the passage of the seminal
fluid next to impossible, that that fluid does not enter the
uterus at all, and, consequently, that the doctrine on which the
whole work is founded, is physiologically false ; and, as being
false, is calculated to do much and cruel mischief. There are
two chief theories, he says, now. generally received on the sub-
ject, the absorbent and the sympathetic; according to both of
which, all that appears absolutely necessary to impregnation is,
that the semen should be deposited somewhere in the vagina ;
perhaps, to be taken up by a set of absorbent vessels, and by
them conveyed to the ovum, which ovum is, in its turn, taken
up by the fimbriated ends of the Fallopian tube, and thereby
deposited in the uterus ; perhaps, (but I confess this seems to
me a very poetical theory,) merely to produce simultaneous
and sympathetic action, thereby effecting the great and secret
work of nature.

Now, my expression was, that " almost all physiologists are
agreed, that the entrance of the sperm itself, or of some volatile
particles proceeding' from it, into the uterus, must precede con-
ception."* The favourers of the absorbent theory will not, I
presume, deny this ; the few advocates of the ^sympathetic, may.
Nor am I tenacious as regards any theory whatever, on a sub-
ject of which the arcana still remain shrouded in comparative
mystery. Enough for my purpose, that the condition indis-
pensable to reproduction is, (as Dr. S himself reminds us,)

the deposition of the sperm in the vagina. The preventive sug-
gested in " Moral Physiology," positively precludes the fulfil-



* In proof that I have not spoken unadvisedly on this subject, I may quote what,
I believe, is now considered the highest authority:

" If the most recent works on Physiology are to be credited, the uterus, during
impregnation, opens a little, draws in the semen by inspiration, and directs it to
the ovariumby means of the Fallopian tubes, whose fimbriated extremity closely
embraces that organ." Magendie, p. 416, Philad. Ed.

See also BiundelVs and Brighton's experiments on the rabbit, at Guy's hospi>
tal. See also Spallanzani's experiments.



APPENDIX, 83

ihent of this condition ; and it could only have been, I imagine,
by confounding it with the partial expedient of which I have
spoken, (page 66,) that my medical friend arrived at the con-
clusions to which I have here alluded.

The only argument which I conceive can be fairly urged
against it by the physiologist, is that to which I have adverted
and replied : (last paragraph of page 65.)

Having thus answered all the objections which have hitherto
reached me, I conceive it unnecessary to lengthen this Appen-
dix by farther quotations approbatory of the work, or corrobo-
rative of the facts it details. Let " Moral Physiology" abide
the ordeal of public examination ; if found wanting, to be cast
aside and forgotten ; but if deemed true and useful, to be re-
membered and approved.





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Online LibraryRobert Dale OwenMoral physiology; or, A brief and plain treatise on the population question → online text (page 7 of 7)