A DESCRIPTION of the symbols under which the reproductive power was anciently worshipped, having been given in the preceding Essay, the present one will contain some account of the negation or absence of that faculty, whether total or partial, as known under the names of Impotency and Sterility.

Potency or power, as regards the generative act, may be defined as - the aptitude or ability to beget; and Impotency, the negation or absence of such power.

The canon law distinguished three kinds of impotency - viz., that which proceeds from frigidity; that which is caused by sorcery {ligature or point-tying), and that which proceeding from some defect of conformation is properly designated as impotentia coeundi. The different kinds of impotency may be thus classed - 1. Those which are proper to men; 2. Those proper to women, and 3. Those common to both sexes the Fallopian tubes were completely obliterated by the thickening of the parietes or sides, an evident consequence of the continual orgasm in which they were kept by immoderate indulgence in coition.

The absence of menstruation almost always induces barrenness. Cases are, notwithstanding, reported in which women have their menses during pregnancy, but these are exceptions which so far from invalidating the rule, confirm it.

Polypi, or the developement of fibrous bodies in the uterus, present an equal obstacle to fecundation, their presence having the effect of perverting the physiological functions of the uterus, nor does their removal always cause sterility to disappear.

Impotency in women can only result from the absence of the vagina, or from its excessive narrowness which does not allow of the approach of the male, although instances have occured of fecundation being effected without the introduction of the male organ. Thus cases have been found of women who have been fecundated, and have even arrived at the term of pregnancy, having been obliged to submit to a surgical operation for the removal of the Hymen, which membrane had not been broken in the acts which had nevertheless effected the fecundation. Lastly, the excessive length, when it does exist, of the clitoris, also opposes the conjugal act, by the difficulty it presents to the introduction of the fecundating organ; the only remedy to be employed in this case consists in amputation, an operation which has been frequently performed. The organ in question is known to resemble, in a very great degree, the virile member, both in external form and internal structure, to be susceptible of erection and relaxation and endowned with exquisite sensibility.

It has been seen equal to the penis in volume.

A remarkable instance is given by Home.* It occured in a negress who was purchased by General Melville, in the island of Dominica, in the West Indies, about the year 1744. She was of the Mandango nation, 24 years of age, her breasts were very flat, she had a rough voice, and a masculine countenance. The clitoris was two inches long, and in thickness resembled a common sized thumb, when viewed at some distance the end appeared round and of a red colour, but upon closer examination was found to be more pointed than that of a penis, and having neither prepuce nor perforation; when handled it became half erected, and was in that state fully three inches long and much thicker than before: when she voided her urine she was obliged to lift it up, as it completely covered the orifice of the urethra. The other parts of the female organs were found to be in a natural state. Columbus quotes the existence of a woman who had a clitoris as long as the little finger. Haller speaks of another in whom this organ was seven inches in length. Some have even been said to be of the monstrous length of twelve inches. These are the enormous dimensions which sometimes deceive as to the real character of the sex, and which have occasioned a belief in the existence of real hermaphrodites.

Women so formed have also a great disposition to usurp the virile functions; they preserve scarcely anything of their sex except their habits and manners. Their stature is in general tall, their limbs muscular, their face masculine, their voice deep, and their deportment bold and manly - in a word, they completely justify the words of Martial: "Mentiturque virum prodigiosa Venus." †

* See Lectures on Comparative Anatomy by Sir Everard Home, Bart. Vol. III., p. 166. London 1823.

† Lib. I., Epigram. 91.

In the case of man's impotency it often happens, on the contrary, that, with organs to all appearance perfectly formed, he is, nevertheless, impotent.