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“There is no tongue that moves”


fraught with tension” (163). It is also significant that Eleanor’s

delivery of the baby in this difficult case did not follow the

method of Dr. William Harvey,


whose theory Willughby had

deemed the supreme guide in midwifery. As Willughby put it,

“I know none but Dr. Harvey’s directions and method,” in

Wilson’s words (153).


Again we see that male practitioners

rely more on texts than on experience, unlike their female

counterparts. David Harley also makes this point: “Midwifery

had always been regarded as a skill that could only be learned

by experience” (1993: 28). Harley continues by presneting

John Maubray, the author of the influential work on


Female Physician

. In Harley’s words, with his

quoting from John Maubray:

a midwife should have served ‘as an assistant to some

skillful Woman of good Business’ because only

practice could equip a midwife, not ‘all the THEORY,

that the most ingenious MAN can make himself

Master of.’ (1993: 28).


The view that male midwives are to be avoided as they

will tend to endanger the life of the fetus or newborn baby is

clearly applicable to the two kings in

The Winter’s Tale

, for

Leontes and Polixenes have both, at one point, killed their own

sons, almost literally in the case of Mamillius and


Evenden argues: “It is highly unlikely that Harvey’s work,

De Generatione


(London, 1651), which was based on experiments with

fertilized hen’s eggs, had any direct bearing on the practice of midwifery,

particularly in the seventeenth century” (2000: 2). Similarly, for Wilson,

“Harvey’s discussion of birth was chiefly theoretical in intent” (1997: 151).


Wilson has noted

Willughby’s use of Harvey’s essay “De Partu,” the

conclusion of his

De Generatione

which was published in 1651 and

translated into English in 1653. Wilson continues: “Willughby wanted to

argue that practical experience was the only effective teacher; yet his

medium contradicted his message, for he was using the written word”

(1997: 151).


For the reference of John Maubray, see Maubray (1724: 176-177).