The imagination of a Mother may imprint any visualized object on the form of her unborn child

— Aristotle [pseud.]

Place of Publication
Printed for W.B. and are to be sold by most booksellers in London and Westminster
The imagination of a Mother may imprint any visualized object on the form of her unborn child
Metaphor in Context
Lanctantius is of Opinion, That when a Man's Seed falls on the left side of the Womb, a Male Child may be gotten; but by reason it is the proper place for a Female, there will be something in it greatly resembling a Woman, viz. It will be fairer, whiter, and smoother, not very subject to have Hair on the Body or Chin, long lank Hair on the Head, Voice small and sharp, and the Courage feeble; and arguing yet further, he says, that a Female may perchance be procreated, if the Seed fall on the right Side; but then thro' extraordinary heat, she will be very large boned, full of Courage, indued with a big Voice, and have her Chin and Bosom hairy, not being so clear as others of the Sex; subject to quarrel with their Husband when married, for the Superiority, &c. In case of the similitude, nothing is more powerful than the Imagination of the Mother; for if she conceive in her Mind, or do by chance fasten her Eyes upon any Object, and imprint it in her Memory, the Child in its outward Parts, frequently has some representation thereof; so whilst a Man and Woman are in the Act of Copulation, if the Woman earnestly he hold his Countenance, and fix her Mind thereon, without all peradventure, the Child will resemble the Father; nay, so powerful is its Operation, that though a Woman be in unlawful Copulation, yet if fear, or any thing else, causes her to fix her Mind upon her Husband, the Child will resemble him, tho' he never got it. The same effect, according to the Opinion of the Learned, proceeds from Imagination in cause of Warts, Mold spots, Stains, Dashes, and the Figures of strange things, tho' indeed they sometimes happen thro' frights or extravagant Longings: Many Women there are, that seeing a Hare cross them, when great with Child, will, through the strength of Imagination, bring forth a Child with a hairy Lip, Some Children again are born with flat Noses, wry Mouths, great blubber Lips, and ill shaped Bodies, and most ascribe the reason to the strange conceit of the Mother, who has busied her Eyes and Mind upon some ill-shaped or distorted Creatures; therefore it greatly behoves all Women with Child, to avoid any monstruous sight, or at least, to have a stedfast Mind, not easily fixed upon any one thing more than another. And this Opinion Pliny confirms in his 7th Book of natural things, and the 12th Chapter. The famous Sir Thomas Moore likewise confirms it, and discants merrily on a Passage of his times, wherein a Person having divers Children, would own none but one that was like him, when in the end it proved, by the asseveration of the Mother, that all, except that, were of his own begetting; but whilst another Man was mounted in his Saddle, she fearing that he would come and detect her in the Act, had her Imagination so fixed on him, that as she conceived, the similitude could proceed from no other cause; wherefore it is apparent, that likeness can confirm no Child to be a lawful Father's own: Yet in manners, wit, and prophension of the Mind, daily Examples teach us that Children are commonly of the same condition, with their Progenitors, and of the same nature, but there is much in this; whether venery be used with great or weak desire, for many are less inclined to it, and not so hot, and consequensly not so desirous of Copulation, but rather decline it, unless Civility to their Wives cause them to compliance therein, and then they proceed fainting and drowsily, whence it happens that the Children fall short of the Parents nature, wit and manners, and hence it is that wise Men frequently beget stupid sloathful Children of feeble Minds, because they are not much given to these delights. But as I said on the contrary, when the Progenitors are not in venerious Actions, and do liberally & abundantly employ themselves therein, it oftentimes happens that the Children are of the same desires, manners, and actions of the Mind, with their Parents. And thus much for the first point, now I shall proceed to the second, which is to shew, what share each of the Parents have in begetting the Child, &c. And first we will give the Opinion of the Ancients about it.
(pp. 19-22)
Aristotle's Masterpiece, or, The Secrets of Generation Displayed in all the Parts Thereof ... Very Necessary for all Midwives, Nurses, and Young Married Women (Printed for W.B. and are to be sold by most booksellers in London and Westminster, 1694).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.