The Perfumed Garden, by Richard Burton

Chapter xv

Concerning Medicines which Provoke Abortion

Know, O Vizir (God be good to you!) that the medicines which will bring on abortion, and the ejection of the foetus, are innumerable. But I shall speak of those to you which I have proved, and therefore acknowledge as good, so that everybody may learn what may benefit and what may do harm.

I shall in the first place speak of the madder-root184 A small quantity of this substance freshly gathered, or even dried, but in the latter case bruised and moistened at the time when it is to be used, vitiates the virile sperm or kills the foetus, bringing abortion on and provoking the menstruation when introduced in the woman’s vagina. The same end may be obtained by means of a decoction of the same plant taken fasting by the woman, and used at the same time by an external application to moisten the vagina.

Fumigation with the smoke of burnt cabbage seeds cause abortion, if the woman introduces the vapour into her vagina by means of a tube or reed.

I now come to alum. This substance, powdered, and introduced into the vagina, or sprinkled on the verge before coition, prevents the woman from conceiving by obstructing the arrival of the sperm in the uterus; for it has the property of drying up and contracting the vagina. But the too frequent use of it will make the woman barren and annihilate all her capability of conception.

The man who at the moment of copulation coats his member with tar185 deprives his sperm of its generative faculty. This is the most powerful of all applications, and if a woman during her pregnancy introduces some of the substance repeatedly into her vagina, she will be sterile, and the child will be born dead.

The woman who drinks the weight of a mitskal of laurel water, with a little pepper, will cause her courses to flow again, and clear her uterus from the clots of blood which sometimes lodge there. If she makes use of this medicine when she is already pregnant, the embryo will be expelled; and taken after confinement, this medicine has the property of causing the expulsion from the matrix of all deleterious matter and of the after-birth.

The woman who drinks an infusion of coarse cinnamon186 mixed with red myrth, and then introduces into her vagina a plug of wool saturated with the mixture, kills the foetus and provokes its expulsion, with the will of God the Highest!

If the foetus dies in the womb, a decoction of yellow wall-flowers in water will cause the expulsion of the same, with the will of God the Highest!

All the above enumerated medicines are efficacious and their effect is certain.

184 Certain texts have araoua, which would mean the buphtalmum silvestram; but there is reason to believe that it is madder-root which is meant, as according to the work of Abd er Rezeug el Djezairi this is an abortive.

185 The Arabs have known since a long period the vegetable tar, guetrane, and, in fact the French name for it has been derived from their language. They obtain it by distillation in rough furnaces from, the wood of the resinous trees found in their country, the pine and the cedar.

186 Note in the autograph edition. — The common name of cinnamon is keurfa. Dar sini is the name of an inferior quality.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31