The passage from the external uterine orifice to the internal parts and 원주치과 uterus itself, where the egg is perfected, is by that part which in other animals is called the vagina or vulva. In the fowl, however, this passage is so intricate, and its internal membrane is so loose and wrinkled, that although there is a ready passage from within outwards, and a large egg makes its way through all without much difficulty, still it scarcely seems likely that the penis of the male could penetrate or the spermatic fluid make its way through it; for I have found it impossible to introduce either a probe or a bristle; neither could Fabricius pass anything of the sort, and he says that he could not even inflate the uterus with air. Whence he was led I fancy to give an account of the uterus, proceeding from more internal to more external parts. Considering this structure of the uterus also, he denies that the spermatic fluid of the male can reach the cavity of the uterus, or go to constitute any part of the egg.[140] To this statement I most willingly subscribe; for, indeed, there is nothing in the fruitful egg which is not also in the barren one; there is nothing in the way of addition or change which indicates that the seminal fluid of the male has either made its way into the uterus, or come into contact with the egg. Moreover, although without the access of the cock all eggs laid are winded and barren, still through his influence, and long after {191}intercourse, fruitful eggs are deposited, the rudiments or matter of which did not exist at the time of the communication.

With a view to explaining how the spermatic fluid of the cock renders eggs fecund, Fabricius says:[141] “Since the semen does not appear in the egg, and yet is thrown into the uterus by the cock, it may be asked why this is done if the fluid does not enter the egg? Farther: if not present in the egg, how is that egg made fruitful by the spermatic fluid of the cock which it yet does not contain? My opinion is that the semen of the cock thrown into the commencement of the uterus, produces an influence on the whole of the uterus, and at the same time renders fruitful the whole of the yelks, and finally of the perfect eggs which fall into it; and this the semen effects by its peculiar property or irradiative spirituous substance, in the same manner as we see other animals rendered fruitful by the testicles and semen. For if any one will but bring to mind the incredible change that is produced by castration, when the heat, strength, and fecundity are lost, he will readily admit that what we have proposed may happen in reference to the single uterus of a fowl. But that it is in all respects true, and that the faculty of impregnating the whole of the ova, and also the uterus itself, proceeds from the semen of the cock, appears from the custom of those housewives who keep hens at home but no cock, that they commit their hens for a day or two to a neighbour’s cock, and in this short space of time the whole of the eggs that will be laid for a certain season are rendered prolific. And this fact is confirmed by Aristotle,[142] who will have it that, among birds, one intercourse suffices to render almost all the eggs fruitful. For the fecundating influence of the seminal fluid, as it cannot exhale, so is it long retained in the uterus, to which it imparts the whole of its virtue; nature herself stores it up, placing it in a cavity appended to the uterus, near the fundament, furnished with an entrance only, so that, being there laid up, its virtue is the better preserved and communicated to the entire uterus.”

I, however, suspected the truth of the above views, all the more when I saw that the words of the philosopher referred to were not accurately quoted. Aristotle does not say that{192} “Birds which have once copulated almost all continue to lay prolific eggs,” but simply “almost all continue to lay eggs;” the word “prolific” is an addition by Fabricius. But it is one thing to have birds conceiving eggs after intercourse, and another to say that these eggs are fruitful through this intercourse. And this is the more obvious from Aristotle’s previous words, where he says, “Nor in the family of birds can those eggs even that are produced by intercourse acquire their full size unless the intercourse between the sexes be continued. And the reason is, that as the menstrual excretion in women is attracted by the intercourse of their husbands, (for the uterus, being warmed, draws the moisture, and the passages are opened,) so in birds it comes to pass that, as the menstruous discharge takes place very gradually, because of its being in small quantity, it cannot make its way externally, but is contained superiorly as high as the waist, and only distils down into the uterus itself. For the egg is increased by this, just as the fœtus of oviparous animals is nourished by that which reaches it through the umbilicus. For when once birds have copulated, almost all continue to lay eggs, but of small size and imperfect;” and therefore unprolific, for the perfection of an egg is its being fertile. If, therefore, without continued intercourse, not even those eggs that were conceived in consequence of intercourse grow to their proper size, or, as Fabricius interprets it, are “perfected,” much less are those eggs prolific which fowls continue to lay independently of intercourse with the male bird.

But lest any one should think that these words, “for the uterus warmed, draws, and the passages are opened,” signify that the uterus can attract the semen masculinum into its cavity, let them be aware that the philosopher does not say that the uterus attracts the semen from without into its cavity, but that in females, from the veins and passages, opened by the heat of intercourse, the menstruous blood is attracted from its own body; so in birds the blood is attracted to the uterus, warmed by repeated intercourse, whereby the eggs grow, as the fœtus of oviparous animals grows through the umbilicus.

But what Fabricius adds upon that cavity or bursa, in which he thinks the semen of the cock may be stored up for a whole year, has been already refuted by us, where we have stated that it contains no seminal fluid, and that it exists in the cock as{193} well as in the hen. Wherefore, though I readily believed (if by fecundity we are to understand a greater number of larger eggs), that the hens of poor people, indifferently fed in all probability, will lay both fewer and smaller eggs unless they have the company of a cock; agreeably to what the philosopher quoted avers, viz.: “that hens which have once been trodden continue to lay larger, better, and a greater number of eggs through the whole of the year,” (a result on which the abundance and the good quality of the food has unquestionably a great influence); still that hens should continue for a whole year to lay prolific eggs after a few addresses of the cock, appeared to me by no means probable: for, had a small number of contacts sufficed for the purposes of generation during so long a period, nature, which does nothing in vain, would have constituted the males among birds less salacious than they are; nor should we see the cock soliciting his hens so many times a day, even against their inclination.