Sex in Education - or, A Fair Chance for Girls
by Edward H. Clarke
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Transcriber's Notes: A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. This document has inconsistent hyphenation. Greek has been transliterated and marked with + marks


Or, A Fair Chance for Girls.



Member of the Massachusetts Medical Society; Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Late Professor of Materia Medica in Harvard College, Etc., Etc.

Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, (Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co.) 1875. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by Edward H. Clarke, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington Boston: Stereotyped and Printed by Rand, Avery, & Co.

"An American female constitution, which collapses just in the middle third of life, and comes out vulcanized India-rubber, if it happen to live through the period when health and strength are most wanted." OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES: Autocrat of the Breakfast Table.

"He reverenced and upheld, in every form in which it came before him, womanhood.... What a woman should demand is respect for her as she is a woman. Let her first lesson be, with sweet Susan Winstanley, to reverence her sex." CHARLES LAMB: Essays of Elia.

"We trust that the time now approaches when man's condition shall be progressively improved by the force of reason and truth, when the brute part of nature shall be crushed, that the god-like spirit may unfold." GUIZOT: History of Civilization, I., 34.













About a year ago the author was honored by an invitation to address the New-England Women's Club in Boston. He accepted the invitation, and selected for his subject the relation of sex to the education of women. The essay excited an unexpected amount of discussion. Brief reports of it found their way into the public journals. Teachers and others interested in the education of girls, in different parts of the country, who read these reports, or heard of them, made inquiry, by letter or otherwise, respecting it. Various and conflicting criticisms were passed upon it. This manifestation of interest in a brief and unstudied lecture to a small club appeared to the author to indicate a general appreciation of the importance of the theme he had chosen, compelled him to review carefully the statements he had made, and has emboldened him to think that their publication in a more comprehensive form, with added physiological details and clinical illustrations, might contribute something, however little, to the cause of sound education. Moreover, his own conviction, not only of the importance of the subject, but of the soundness of the conclusions he has reached, and of the necessity of bringing physiological facts and laws prominently to the notice of all who are interested in education, conspires with the interest excited by the theme of his lecture to justify him in presenting these pages to the public. The leisure of his last professional vacation has been devoted to their preparation. The original address, with the exception of a few verbal alterations, is incorporated into them.

Great plainness of speech will be observed throughout this essay. The nature of the subject it discusses, the general misapprehension both of the strong and weak points in the physiology of the woman question, and the ignorance displayed by many, of what the co-education of the sexes really means, all forbid that ambiguity of language or euphemism of expression should be employed in the discussion. The subject is treated solely from the standpoint of physiology. Technical terms have been employed, only where their use is more exact or less offensive than common ones.

If the publication of this brief memoir does nothing more than excite discussion and stimulate investigation with regard to a matter of such vital moment to the nation as the relation of sex to education, the author will be amply repaid for the time and labor of its preparation. No one can appreciate more than he its imperfections. Notwithstanding these, he hopes a little good may be extracted from it, and so commends it to the consideration of all who desire the best education of the sexes.



The demand for a second edition of this book in little more than a week after the publication of the first, indicates the interest which the public take in the relation of Sex to Education, and justifies the author in appealing to physiology and pathology for light upon the vexed question of the appropriate education of girls. Excepting a few verbal alterations, and the correction of a few typographical errors, there is no difference between this edition and the first. The author would have been glad to add to this edition a section upon the relation of sex to women's work in life, after their technical education is completed, but has not had time to do so.



The attention of the reader is called to the definition of "education" on the twentieth page. It is there stated, that, throughout this essay, education is not used in the limited sense of mental or intellectual training alone, but as comprehending the whole manner of life, physical and psychical, during the educational period; that is, following Worcester's comprehensive definition, as comprehending instruction, discipline, manners, and habits. This, of course, includes home-life and social life, as well as school-life; balls and parties, as well as books and recitations; walking and riding, as much as studying and sewing. When a remission or intermission is necessary, the parent must decide what part of education shall be remitted or omitted,—the walk, the ball, the school, the party, or all of these. None can doubt which will interfere most with Nature's laws,—four hours' dancing, or four hours' studying. These remarks may be unnecessary. They are made because some who have noticed this essay have spoken of it as if it treated only of the school, and seem to have forgotten the just and comprehensive signification in which education is used throughout this memoir. Moreover, it may be well to remind the reader, even at the risk of casting a reflection upon his intelligence, that, in these pages, the relation of sex to mature life is not discussed, except in a few passages, in which the large capacities and great power of woman are alluded to, provided the epoch of development is physiologically guided.




"Is there any thing better in a State than that both women and men be rendered the very best? There is not."—PLATO.

It is idle to say that what is right for man is wrong for woman. Pure reason, abstract right and wrong, have nothing to do with sex: they neither recognize nor know it. They teach that what is right or wrong for man is equally right and wrong for woman. Both sexes are bound by the same code of morals; both are amenable to the same divine law. Both have a right to do the best they can; or, to speak more justly, both should feel the duty, and have the opportunity, to do their best. Each must justify its existence by becoming a complete development of manhood and womanhood; and each should refuse whatever limits or dwarfs that development.

The problem of woman's sphere, to use the modern phrase, is not to be solved by applying to it abstract principles of right and wrong. Its solution must be obtained from physiology, not from ethics or metaphysics. The question must be submitted to Agassiz and Huxley, not to Kant or Calvin, to Church or Pope. Without denying the self-evident proposition, that whatever a woman can do, she has a right to do, the question at once arises, What can she do? And this includes the further question, What can she best do? A girl can hold a plough, and ply a needle, after a fashion. If she can do both better than a man, she ought to be both farmer and seamstress; but if, on the whole, her husband can hold best the plough, and she ply best the needle, they should divide the labor. He should be master of the plough, and she mistress of the loom. The quaestio vexata of woman's sphere will be decided by her organization. This limits her power, and reveals her divinely-appointed tasks, just as man's organization limits his power, and reveals his work. In the development of the organization is to be found the way of strength and power for both sexes. Limitation or abortion of development leads both to weakness and failure.

Neither is there any such thing as inferiority or superiority in this matter. Man is not superior to woman, nor woman to man. The relation of the sexes is one of equality, not of better and worse, or of higher and lower. By this it is not intended to say that the sexes are the same. They are different, widely different from each other, and so different that each can do, in certain directions, what the other cannot; and in other directions, where both can do the same things, one sex, as a rule, can do them better than the other; and in still other matters they seem to be so nearly alike, that they can interchange labor without perceptible difference. All this is so well known, that it would be useless to refer to it, were it not that much of the discussion of the irrepressible woman-question, and many of the efforts for bettering her education and widening her sphere, seem to ignore any difference of the sexes; seem to treat her as if she were identical with man, and to be trained in precisely the same way; as if her organization, and consequently her function, were masculine, not feminine. There are those who write and act as if their object were to assimilate woman as much as possible to man, by dropping all that is distinctively feminine out of her, and putting into her as large an amount of masculineness as possible. These persons tacitly admit the error just alluded to, that woman is inferior to man, and strive to get rid of the inferiority by making her a man. There may be some subtle physiological basis for such views—some strange quality of brain; for some who hold and advocate them are of those, who, having missed the symmetry and organic balance that harmonious development yields, have drifted into an hermaphroditic condition. One of this class, who was glad to have escaped the chains of matrimony, but knew the value and lamented the loss of maternity, wished she had been born a widow with two children. These misconceptions arise from mistaking difference of organization and function for difference of position in the scale of being, which is equivalent to saying that man is rated higher in the divine order because he has more muscle, and woman lower because she has more fat. The loftiest ideal of humanity, rejecting all comparisons of inferiority and superiority between the sexes, demands that each shall be perfect in its kind, and not be hindered in its best work. The lily is not inferior to the rose, nor the oak superior to the clover: yet the glory of the lily is one, and the glory of the oak is another; and the use of the oak is not the use of the clover. That is poor horticulture which would train them all alike.

When Col. Higginson asked, not long ago, in one of his charming essays, that almost persuade the reader, "Ought women to learn the alphabet?" and added, "Give woman, if you dare, the alphabet, then summon her to the career," his physiology was not equal to his wit. Women will learn the alphabet at any rate; and man will be powerless to prevent them, should he undertake so ungracious a task. The real question is not, Shall women learn the alphabet? but How shall they learn it? In this case, how is more important than ought or shall. The principle and duty are not denied. The method is not so plain.

The fact that women have often equalled and sometimes excelled men in physical labor, intellectual effort, and lofty heroism, is sufficient proof that women have muscle, mind, and soul, as well as men; but it is no proof that they have had, or should have, the same kind of training; nor is it any proof that they are destined for the same career as men. The presumption is, that if woman, subjected to a masculine training, arranged for the development of a masculine organization, can equal man, she ought to excel him if educated by a feminine training, arranged to develop a feminine organization. Indeed, I have somewhere encountered an author who boldly affirms the superiority of women to all existences on this planet, because of the complexity of their organization. Without undertaking to indorse such an opinion, it may be affirmed, that an appropriate method of education for girls—one that should not ignore the mechanism of their bodies or blight any of their vital organs—would yield a better result than the world has yet seen.

Gail Hamilton's statement is true, that, "a girl can go to school, pursue all the studies which Dr. Todd enumerates, except ad infinitum; know them, not as well as a chemist knows chemistry or a botanist botany, but as well as they are known by boys of her age and training, as well, indeed, as they are known by many college-taught men, enough, at least, to be a solace and a resource to her; then graduate before she is eighteen, and come out of school as healthy, as fresh, as eager, as she went in."[1] But it is not true that she can do all this, and retain uninjured health and a future secure from neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system, if she follows the same method that boys are trained in. Boys must study and work in a boy's way, and girls in a girl's way. They may study the same books, and attain an equal result, but should not follow the same method. Mary can master Virgil and Euclid as well as George; but both will be dwarfed,—defrauded of their rightful attainment,—if both are confined to the same methods. It is said that Elena Cornaro, the accomplished professor of six languages, whose statue adorns and honors Padua, was educated like a boy. This means that she was initiated into, and mastered, the studies that were considered to be the peculiar dower of men. It does not mean that her life was a man's life, her way of study a man's way of study, or that, in acquiring six languages, she ignored her own organization. Women who choose to do so can master the humanities and the mathematics, encounter the labor of the law and the pulpit, endure the hardness of physic and the conflicts of politics; but they must do it all in woman's way, not in man's way. In all their work they must respect their own organization, and remain women, not strive to be men, or they will ignominiously fail. For both sexes, there is no exception to the law, that their greatest power and largest attainment lie in the perfect development of their organization. "Woman," says a late writer, "must be regarded as woman, not as a nondescript animal, with greater or less capacity for assimilation to man." If we would give our girls a fair chance, and see them become and do their best by reaching after and attaining an ideal beauty and power, which shall be a crown of glory and a tower of strength to the republic, we must look after their complete development as women. Wherein they are men, they should be educated as men; wherein they are women, they should be educated as women. The physiological motto is, Educate a man for manhood, a woman for womanhood, both for humanity. In this lies the hope of the race.

Perhaps it should be mentioned in this connection, that, throughout this paper, education is not used in the limited and technical sense of intellectual or mental training alone. By saying there is a boy's way of study and a girl's way of study, it is not asserted that the intellectual process which masters Juvenal, German, or chemistry, is different for the two sexes. Education is here intended to include what its etymology indicates, the drawing out and development of every part of the system; and this necessarily includes the whole manner of life, physical and psychical, during the educational period. "Education," says Worcester, "comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits, of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations." It has been and is the misfortune of this country, and particularly of New England, that education, stripped of this, its proper signification, has popularly stood for studying, without regard to the physical training or no training that the schools afford. The cerebral processes by which the acquisition of knowledge is made are the same for each sex; but the mode of life which gives the finest nurture to the brain, and so enables those processes to yield their best result, is not the same for each sex. The best educational training for a boy is not the best for a girl, nor that for a girl best for a boy.

The delicate bloom, early but rapidly fading beauty, and singular pallor of American girls and women have almost passed into a proverb. The first observation of a European that lands upon our shores is, that our women are a feeble race; and, if he is a physiological observer, he is sure to add, They will give birth to a feeble race, not of women only, but of men as well. "I never saw before so many pretty girls together," said Lady Amberley to the writer, after a visit to the public schools of Boston; and then added, "They all looked sick." Circumstances have repeatedly carried me to Europe, where I am always surprised by the red blood that fills and colors the faces of ladies and peasant girls, reminding one of the canvas of Rubens and Murillo; and am always equally surprised on my return, by crowds of pale, bloodless female faces, that suggest consumption, scrofula, anemia, and neuralgia. To a large extent, our present system of educating girls is the cause of this palor and weakness. How our schools, through their methods of education, contribute to this unfortunate result, and how our colleges that have undertaken to educate girls like boys, that is, in the same way, have succeeded in intensifying the evils of the schools, will be pointed out in another place.

It has just been said that the educational methods of our schools and colleges for girls are, to a large extent, the cause of "the thousand ills" that beset American women. Let it be remembered that this is not asserting that such methods of education are the sole cause of female weaknesses, but only that they are one cause, and one of the most important causes of it. An immense loss of female power may be fairly charged to irrational cooking and indigestible diet. We live in the zone of perpetual pie and dough-nut; and our girls revel in those unassimilable abominations. Much also may be credited to artificial deformities strapped to the spine, or piled on the head, much to corsets and skirts, and as much to the omission of clothing where it is needed as to excess where the body does not require it; but, after the amplest allowance for these as causes of weakness, there remains a large margin of disease unaccounted for. Those grievous maladies which torture a woman's earthly existence, called leucorrhoea, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, chronic and acute ovaritis, prolapsus uteri, hysteria, neuralgia, and the like, are indirectly affected by food, clothing, and exercise; they are directly and largely affected by the causes that will be presently pointed out, and which arise from a neglect of the peculiarities of a woman's organization. The regimen of our schools fosters this neglect. The regimen of a college arranged for boys, if imposed on girls, would foster it still more.

The scope of this paper does not permit the discussion of these other causes of female weaknesses. Its object is to call attention to the errors of physical training that have crept into, and twined themselves about, our ways of educating girls, both in public and private schools, and which now threaten to attain a larger development, and inflict a consequently greater injury, by their introduction into colleges and large seminaries of learning, that have adopted, or are preparing to adopt, the co-education of the sexes. Even if there were space to do so, it would not be necessary to discuss here the other causes alluded to. They are receiving the amplest attention elsewhere. The gifted authoress of "The Gates Ajar" has blown her trumpet with no uncertain sound, in explanation and advocacy of a new-clothes philosophy, which her sisters will do well to heed rather than to ridicule. It would be a blessing to the race, if some inspired prophet of clothes would appear, who should teach the coming woman how, in pharmaceutical phrase, to fit, put on, wear, and take off her dress,—

"Cito, Tuto, et Jucunde."

Corsets that embrace the waist with a grip that tightens respiration into pain, and skirts that weight the hips with heavier than maternal burdens, have often caused grievous maladies, and imposed a needless invalidism. Yet, recognizing all this, it must not be forgotten that breeches do not make a man, nor the want of them unmake a woman.

Let the statement be emphasized and reiterated until it is heeded, that woman's neglect of her own organization, though not the sole explanation and cause of her many weaknesses, more than any single cause, adds to their number, and intensifies their power. It limits and lowers her action very much, as man is limited and degraded by dissipation. The saddest part of it all is, that this neglect of herself in girlhood, when her organization is ductile and impressible, breeds the germs of diseases that in later life yield torturing or fatal maladies. Every physician's note-book affords copious illustrations of these statements. The number of them which the writer has seen prompted this imperfect essay upon a subject in which the public has a most vital interest, and with regard to which it acts with the courage of ignorance.

Two considerations deserve to be mentioned in this connection. One is, that no organ or function in plant, animal, or human kind, can be properly regarded as a disability or source of weakness. Through ignorance or misdirection, it may limit or enfeeble the animal or being that misguides it; but, rightly guided and developed, it is either in itself a source of power and grace to its parent stock, or a necessary stage in the development of larger grace and power. The female organization is no exception to this law; nor are the particular set of organs and their functions with which this essay has to deal an exception to it. The periodical movements which characterize and influence woman's structure for more than half her terrestrial life, and which, in their ebb and flow, sway every fibre and thrill every nerve of her body a dozen times a year, and the occasional pregnancies which test her material resources, and cradle the race, are, or are evidently intended to be, fountains of power, not hinderances, to her. They are not infrequently spoken of by women themselves with half-smothered anathemas; often endured only as a necessary evil and sign of inferiority; and commonly ignored, till some steadily-advancing malady whips the recalcitrant sufferer into acknowledgment of their power, and respect for their function. All this is a sad mistake. It is a foolish and criminal delicacy that has persuaded woman to be so ashamed of the temple God built for her as to neglect one of its most important services. On account of this neglect, each succeeding generation, obedient to the law of hereditary transmission, has become feebler than its predecessor. Our great-grandmothers are pointed at as types of female physical excellence; their great-grand-daughters as illustrations of female physical degeneracy. There is consolation, however, in the hope, based on substantial physiological data, that our great-grand-daughters may recapture their ancestors' bloom and force. "Three generations of wholesome life," says Mr. Greg, "might suffice to eliminate the ancestral poison, for the vis medicatrix naturae has wonderful efficacy when allowed free play; and perhaps the time may come when the worst cases shall deem it a plain duty to curse no future generations with the damnosa hereditas, which has caused such bitter wretchedness to themselves."[2]

The second consideration is the acknowledged influence of beauty. "When one sees a god-like countenance," said Socrates to Phaedrus, "or some bodily form that represents beauty, he reverences it as a god, and would sacrifice to it." From the days of Plato till now, all have felt the power of woman's beauty, and been more than willing to sacrifice to it. The proper, not exclusive search for it is a legitimate inspiration. The way for a girl to obtain her portion of this radiant halo is by the symmetrical development of every part of her organization, muscle, ovary, stomach and nerve, and by a physiological management of every function that correlates every organ; not by neglecting or trying to stifle or abort any of the vital and integral parts of her structure, and supplying the deficiency by invoking the aid of the milliner's stuffing, the colorist's pencil, the druggist's compounds, the doctor's pelvic supporter, and the surgeon's spinal brace.

When travelling in the East, some years ago, it was my fortune to be summoned as a physician into a harem. With curious and not unwilling step I obeyed the summons. While examining the patient, nearly a dozen Syrian girls—a grave Turk's wifely crowd, a result and illustration of Mohammedan female education—pressed around the divan with eyes and ears intent to see and hear a Western Hakim's medical examination. As I looked upon their well-developed forms, their brown skins, rich with the blood and sun of the East, and their unintelligent, sensuous faces, I thought that if it were possible to marry the Oriental care of woman's organization to the Western liberty and culture of her brain, there would be a new birth and loftier type of womanly grace and force.


[1] Woman's Wrongs, p. 59.

[2] Enigmas of Life, p. 34.



"She girdeth her loins with strength."—SOLOMON.

Before describing the special forms of ill that exist among our American, certainly among our New-England girls and women, and that are often caused and fostered by our methods of education and social customs, it is important to refer in considerable detail to a few physiological matters. Physiology serves to disclose the cause, and explain the modus operandi, of these ills, and offers the only rational clew to their prevention and relief. The order in which the physiological data are presented that bear upon this discussion is not essential; their relation to the subject matter of it will be obvious as we proceed.

The sacred number, three, dominates the human frame. There is a trinity in our anatomy. Three systems, to which all the organs are directly or indirectly subsidiary, divide and control the body. First, there is the nutritive system, composed of stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, glands, and vessels, by which food is elaborated, effete matter removed, the blood manufactured, and the whole organization nourished. This is the commissariat. Secondly, there is the nervous system, which co-ordinates all the organs and functions; which enables man to entertain relations with the world around him, and with his fellows; and through which intellectual power is manifested, and human thought and reason made possible. Thirdly, there is the reproductive system, by which the race is continued, and its grasp on the earth assured. The first two of these systems are alike in each sex. They are so alike, that they require a similar training in each, and yield in each a similar result. The machinery of them is the same. No scalpel has disclosed any difference between a man's and a woman's liver. No microscope has revealed any structure, fibre, or cell, in the brain of man or woman, that is not common to both. No analysis or dynamometer has discovered or measured any chemical action or nerve-force that stamps either of these systems as male or female. From these anatomical and physiological data alone, the inference is legitimate, that intellectual power, the correlation and measure of cerebral structure and metamorphosis, is capable of equal development in both sexes. With regard to the reproductive system, the case is altogether different. Woman, in the interest of the race, is dowered with a set of organs peculiar to herself, whose complexity, delicacy, sympathies, and force are among the marvels of creation. If properly nurtured and cared for, they are a source of strength and power to her. If neglected and mismanaged, they retaliate upon their possessor with weakness and disease, as well of the mind as of the body. God was not in error, when, after Eve's creation, he looked upon his work, and pronounced it good. Let Eve take a wise care of the temple God made for her, and Adam of the one made for him, and both will enter upon a career whose glory and beauty no seer has foretold or poet sung.

Ever since the time of Hippocrates, woman has been physiologically described as enjoying, and has always recognized herself as enjoying, or at least as possessing, a tri-partite life. The first period extends from birth to about the age of twelve or fifteen years; the second, from the end of the first period to about the age of forty-five; and the third, from the last boundary to the final passage into the unknown. The few years that are necessary for the voyage from the first to the second period, and those from the second to the third, are justly called critical ones. Mothers are, or should be, wisely anxious about the first passage for their daughters, and women are often unduly apprehensive about the second passage for themselves. All this is obvious and known; and yet, in our educational arrangements, little heed is paid to the fact, that the first of these critical voyages is made during a girl's educational life, and extends over a very considerable portion of it.

This brief statement only hints at the vital physiological truths it contains: it does not disclose them. Let us look at some of them a moment. Remember, that we are now concerned only with the first of these passages, that from a girl's childhood to her maturity. In childhood, boys and girls are very nearly alike. If they are natural, they talk and romp, chase butterflies and climb fences, love and hate, with an innocent abandon that is ignorant of sex. Yet even then the difference is apparent to the observing. Inspired by the divine instinct of motherhood, the girl that can only creep to her mother's knees will caress a doll, that her tottling brother looks coldly upon. The infant Achilles breaks the thin disguise of his gown and sleeves by dropping the distaff, and grasping the sword. As maturity approaches, the sexes diverge. An unmistakable difference marks the form and features of each, and reveals the demand for a special training. This divergence, however, is limited in its sweep and its duration. The difference exists for a definite purpose, and goes only to a definite extent. The curves of separation swell out as childhood recedes, like an ellipse, and, as old age draws on, approach, till they unite like an ellipse again. In old age, the second childhood, the difference of sex becomes of as little note as it was during the first. At that period, the picture of the

"Lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side, * * * * * Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing,"

is faithful to either sex. Not as man or woman, but as a sexless being, does advanced age enter and pass the portals of what is called death.

During the first of these critical periods, when the divergence of the sexes becomes obvious to the most careless observer, the complicated apparatus peculiar to the female enters upon a condition of functional activity. "The ovaries, which constitute," says Dr. Dalton, "the 'essential parts'[3] of this apparatus, and certain accessory organs, are now rapidly developed." Previously they were inactive. During infancy and childhood all of them existed, or rather all the germs of them existed; but they were incapable of function. At this period they take on a process of rapid growth and development. Coincident with this process, indicating it, and essential to it, are the periodical phenomena which characterize woman's physique till she attains the third division of her tripartite life. The growth of this peculiar and marvellous apparatus, in the perfect development of which humanity has so large an interest, occurs during the few years of a girl's educational life. No such extraordinary task, calling for such rapid expenditure of force, building up such a delicate and extensive mechanism within the organism,—a house within a house, an engine within an engine,—is imposed upon the male physique at the same epoch.[4] The organization of the male grows steadily, gradually, and equally, from birth to maturity. The importance of having our methods of female education recognize this peculiar demand for growth, and of so adjusting themselves to it, as to allow a sufficient opportunity for the healthy development of the ovaries and their accessory organs, and for the establishment of their periodical functions, cannot be overestimated. Moreover, unless the work is accomplished at that period, unless the reproductive mechanism is built and put in good working order at that time, it is never perfectly accomplished afterwards. "It is not enough," says Dr. Charles West, the accomplished London physician, and lecturer on diseases of women, "it is not enough to take precautions till menstruation has for the first time occurred: the period for its return should, even in the healthiest girl, be watched for, and all previous precautions should be once more repeated; and this should be done again and again, until at length the habit of regular, healthy menstruation is established. If this be not accomplished during the first few years of womanhood, it will, in all probability, never be attained."[5] There have been instances, and I have seen such, of females in whom the special mechanism we are speaking of remained germinal,—undeveloped. It seemed to have been aborted. They graduated from school or college excellent scholars, but with undeveloped ovaries. Later they married, and were sterile.[6]

The system never does two things well at the same time. The muscles and the brain cannot functionate in their best way at the same moment. One cannot meditate a poem and drive a saw simultaneously, without dividing his force. He may poetize fairly, and saw poorly; or he may saw fairly, and poetize poorly; or he may both saw and poetize indifferently. Brain-work and stomach-work interfere with each other if attempted together. The digestion of a dinner calls force to the stomach, and temporarily slows the brain. The experiment of trying to digest a hearty supper, and to sleep during the process, has sometimes cost the careless experimenter his life. The physiological principle of doing only one thing at a time, if you would do it well, holds as truly of the growth of the organization as it does of the performance of any of its special functions. If excessive labor, either mental or physical, is imposed upon children, male or female, their development will be in some way checked. If the schoolmaster overworks the brains of his pupils, he diverts force to the brain that is needed elsewhere. He spends in the study of geography and arithmetic, of Latin, Greek and chemistry, in the brain-work of the school room, force that should have been spent in the manufacture of blood, muscle, and nerve, that is, in growth. The results are monstrous brains and puny bodies; abnormally active cerebration, and abnormally weak digestion; flowing thought and constipated bowels; lofty aspirations and neuralgic sensations;

"A youth of study an old age of nerves."

Nature has reserved the catamenial week for the process of ovulation, and for the development and perfectation of the reproductive system. Previously to the age of eighteen or twenty, opportunity must be periodically allowed for the accomplishment of this task. Both muscular and brain labor must be remitted enough to yield sufficient force for the work. If the reproductive machinery is not manufactured then, it will not be later. If it is imperfectly made then, it can only be patched up, not made perfect, afterwards. To be well made, it must be carefully managed. Force must be allowed to flow thither in an ample stream, and not diverted to the brain by the school, or to the arms by the factory, or to the feet by dancing. "Every physician," says a recent writer, "can point to students whose splendid cerebral development has been paid for by emaciated limbs, enfeebled digestion, and disordered lungs. Every biography of the intellectual great records the dangers they have encountered, often those to which they have succumbed, in overstepping the ordinary bounds of human capacity; and while beckoning onward to the glories of their almost preternatural achievements, register, by way of warning, the fearful penalty of disease, suffering, and bodily infirmity, which Nature exacts as the price for this partial and inharmonious grandeur. It cannot be otherwise. The brain cannot take more than its share without injury to other organs. It cannot do more than its share without depriving other organs of that exercise and nourishment which are essential to their health and vigor. It is in the power of the individual to throw, as it were, the whole vigor of the constitution into any one part, and, by giving to this part exclusive or excessive attention, to develop it at the expense, and to the neglect, of the others."[7]

In the system of lichens, Nylander reckons all organs of equal value.[8] No one of them can be neglected without evil to the whole organization. From lichens to men and women there is no exception to the law, that, if one member suffers, all the members suffer. What is true of the neglect of a single organ, is true in a geometrical ratio of the neglect of a system of organs. If the nutritive system is wrong, the evil of poor nourishment and bad assimilation infects the whole economy. Brain and thought are enfeebled, because the stomach and liver are in error. If the nervous system is abnormally developed, every organ feels the twist in the nerves. The balance and co-ordination of movement and function are destroyed, and the ill percolates into an unhappy posterity. If the reproductive system is aborted, there may be no future generations to pay the penalty of the abortion, but what is left of the organism suffers sadly. When this sort of arrest of development occurs in a man, it takes the element of masculineness out of him, and replaces it with adipose effeminacy. When it occurs in a woman, it not only substitutes in her case a wiry and perhaps thin bearded masculineness for distinctive feminine traits and power, making her an epicene, but it entails a variety of prolonged weaknesses, that dwarf her rightful power in almost every direction. The persistent neglect and ignoring by women, and especially by girls, ignorantly more than wilfully, of that part of their organization which they hold in trust for the future of the race, has been fearfully punished here in America, where, of all the world, they are least trammelled and should be the best, by all sorts of female troubles. "Nature," says Lord Bacon, "is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished." In the education of our girls, the attempt to hide or overcome nature by training them as boys has almost extinguished them as girls. Let the fact be accepted, that there is nothing to be ashamed of in a woman's organization, and let her whole education and life be guided by the divine requirements of her system.

The blood, which is our life, is a complex fluid. It contains the materials out of which the tissues are made, and also the debris which results from the destruction of the same tissues,—the worn-out cells of brain and muscle,—the cast-off clothes of emotion, thought, and power. It is a common carrier, conveying unceasingly to every gland and tissue, to every nerve and organ, the fibrin and albumen which repair their constant waste, thus supplying their daily bread; and as unceasingly conveying away from every gland and tissue, from every nerve and organ, the oxidized refuse, which are both the result and measure of their work. Like the water flowing through the canals of Venice, that carries health and wealth to the portals of every house, and filth and disease from every doorway, the blood flowing through the canals of the organization carries nutriment to all the tissues, and refuse from them. Its current sweeps nourishment in, and waste out. The former, it yields to the body for assimilation; the latter, it deposits with the organs of elimination for rejection. In order to have good blood, then, two things are essential: first, a regular and sufficient supply of nutriment, and, secondly, an equally regular and sufficient removal of waste. Insufficient nourishment starves the blood; insufficient elimination poisons it. A wise housekeeper will look as carefully after the condition of his drains as after the quality of his food.

The principal organs of elimination, common to both sexes, are the bowels, kidneys, lungs, and skin. A neglect of their functions is punished in each alike. To woman is intrusted the exclusive management of another process of elimination, viz., the catamenial function. This, using the blood for its channel of operation, performs, like the blood, double duty. It is necessary to ovulation, and to the integrity of every part of the reproductive apparatus; it also serves as a means of elimination for the blood itself. A careless management of this function, at any period of life during its existence, is apt to be followed by consequences that may be serious; but a neglect of it during the epoch of development, that is, from the age of fourteen to eighteen or twenty, not only produces great evil at the time of the neglect, but leaves a large legacy of evil to the future. The system is then peculiarly susceptible; and disturbances of the delicate mechanism we are considering, induced during the catamenial weeks of that critical age by constrained positions, muscular effort, brain work, and all forms of mental and physical excitement, germinate a host of ills. Sometimes these causes, which pervade more or less the methods of instruction in our public and private schools, which our social customs ignore, and to which operatives of all sorts pay little heed, produce an excessive performance of the catamenial function; and this is equivalent to a periodical hemorrhage. Sometimes they produce an insufficient performance of it; and this, by closing an avenue of elimination, poisons the blood, and depraves the organization. The host of ills thus induced are known to physicians and to the sufferers as amenorrhoea, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, hysteria, anemia, chorea, and the like. Some of these fasten themselves on their victim for a lifetime, and some are shaken off. Now and then they lead to an abortion of the function, and consequent sterility. Fortunate is the girls' school or college that does not furnish abundant examples of these sad cases. The more completely any such school or college succeeds, while adopting every detail and method of a boy's school, in ignoring and neglecting the physiological conditions of sexual development, the larger will be the number of these pathological cases among its graduates. Clinical illustrations of these statements will be given in another place.

The mysterious process which physiologists call metamorphosis of tissue, or intestitial change, deserves attention in connection with our subject. It interests both sexes alike. Unless it goes on normally, neither boys, girls, men, nor women, can have bodies or brains worth talking about. It is a process, without which not a step can be taken, or muscle moved, or food digested, or nutriment assimilated, or any function, physical or mental, performed. By its aid, growth and development are carried on. Youth, maturity, and old age result from changes in its character. It is alike the support and the guide of health convalescence, and disease. It is the means by which, in the human system, force is developed, and growth and decay rendered possible. The process, in itself, is one of the simplest. It is merely the replacing of one microscopic cell by another; and yet upon this simple process hang the issues of life and death, of thought and power.

Carpenter, in his physiology, reports the discovery, which we owe to German investigation, "that the whole structure originates in a single cell; that this cell gives birth to others, analogous to itself, and these again to many future generations; and that all the varied tissues of the animal body are developed from cells."[9] A more recent writer adds, "In the higher animals and plants, we are presented with structures which may be regarded as essentially aggregates of cells; and there is now a physiological division of labor, some of the cells being concerned with the nutriment of the organism, whilst others are set apart, and dedicated to the function of reproduction. Every cell in such an aggregate leads a life, which, in a certain limited sense, may be said to be independent; and each discharges its own function in the general economy. Each cell has a period of development, growth, and active life, and each ultimately perishes; the life of the organism not only not depending upon the life of its elemental factors, but actually being kept up by their constant destruction and as constant renewal."[10] Growth, health, and disease are cellular manifestations. With every act of life, the movement of a finger, the pulsation of a heart, the uttering of a word, the coining of a thought, the thrill of an emotion, there is the destruction of a certain number of cells. Their destruction evolves or sets free the force that we recognize as movement, speech, thought, and emotion. The number of cells destroyed depends upon the intensity and duration of the effort that correlates their destruction. When a blacksmith wields a hammer for an hour, he uses up the number of cells necessary to yield that amount of muscular force. When a girl studies Latin for an hour, she uses up the number of brain-cells necessary to yield that amount of intellectual force. As fast as one cell is destroyed, another is generated. The death of one is followed instantly by the birth of its successor. This continual process of cellular death and birth, the income and outgo of cells, that follow each other like the waves of the sea, each different yet each the same, is metamorphosis of tissue. This is life. It corresponds very nearly to Bichat's definition that, "life is organization in action." The finer sense of Shakspeare dictated a truer definition than the science of the French physiologist,—

"What's yet in this That bears the name of life? Yet in this life Lie hid more thousand deaths."

Measure for Measure, Act iii. Scene 1.

No physical or psychical act is possible without this change. It is a process of continual waste and repair. Subject to its inevitable power, the organization is continually wasting away and continually being repaired.

The old notion that our bodies are changed every seven years, science has long since exploded. "The matter," said Mr. John Goodsir, "of the organized frame to its minutest parts is in a continual flux." Our bodies are never the same for any two successive days. The feet that Mary shall dance with next Christmas Eve will not be the same feet that bore her triumphantly through the previous Christmas holidays. The brain that she learns German with to-day does not contain a cell in its convolutions that was spent in studying French one year ago. Whether her present feet can dance better or worse than those of a year ago, and whether her present brain can do more or less German and French than the one of the year before, depends upon how she has used her feet and brain during the intervening time, that is, upon the metamorphosis of her tissue.

From birth to adult age, the cells of muscle, organ, and brain that are spent in the activities of life, such as digesting, growing, studying, playing, working, and the like, are replaced by others of better quality and larger number. At least, such is the case where metamorphosis is permitted to go on normally. The result is growth and development. This growing period or formative epoch extends from birth to the age of twenty or twenty-five years. Its duration is shorter for a girl than for a boy. She ripens quicker than he. In the four years from fourteen to eighteen, she accomplishes an amount of physiological cell change and growth which Nature does not require of a boy in less than twice that number of years. It is obvious, that to secure the best kind of growth during this period, and the best development at the end of it, the waste of tissue produced by study, work, and fashion must not be so great that repair will only equal it. It is equally obvious that a girl upon whom Nature, for a limited period and for a definite purpose, imposes so great a physiological task, will not have as much power left for the tasks of the school, as the boy of whom Nature requires less at the corresponding epoch. A margin must be allowed for growth. The repair must be greater and better than the waste.

During middle age, life's active period, there is an equilibrium between the body's waste and repair: one equals the other. The machine, when properly managed, then holds its own. A French physiologist fixes the close of this period for the ideal man of the future at eighty, when, he says, old age begins. Few have such inherited power, and live with such physiological wisdom, as to keep their machine in good repair,—in good working-order,—to that late period. From the age of twenty-five or thirty, however, to that of sixty or sixty-five, this equilibrium occurs. Repair then equals waste; reconstruction equals destruction. The female organization, like the male, is now developed: its tissues are consolidated; its functions are established. With decent care, it can perform an immense amount of physical and mental labor. It is now capable of its best work. But, in order to do its best, it must obey the law of periodicity; just as the male organization, to do its best, must obey the law of sustained effort.

When old age begins, whether, normally, at seventy or eighty, or, prematurely, at fifty or thirty, repair does not equal waste, and degeneration of tissue results. More cells are destroyed by wear and tear than are made up from nutriment. The friction of the machine rubs the stuff of life away faster than it can be replaced. The muscles stiffen, the hair turns white, the joints crack, the arteries ossify, the nerve-centres harden or soften: all sorts of degeneration creep on till death appears,—Mors janua vitae. There the curves unite, and men and women are alike again.

Sleep, whose inventor received the benediction of Sancho Panza, and whose power Dryden apostrophized,—

"Of all the powers the best: Oh! peace of mind, repairer of decay, Whose balm renews the limbs to labor of the day,"—

is a most important physiological factor. Our schools are as apt in frightening it away as our churches are in inviting it. Sleep is the opportunity for repair. During its hours of quiet rest, when muscular and nervous effort are stilled, millions of microscopic cells are busy in the penetralia of the organism, like coral insects in the depths of the sea, repairing the waste which the day's study and work have caused. Dr. B.W. Richardson of London, one of the most ingenious and accomplished physiologists of the present day, describes the labor of sleep in the following language: "During this period of natural sleep, the most important changes of nutrition are in progress: the body is renovating, and, if young, is actually growing. If the body be properly covered, the animal heat is being conserved, and laid up for expenditure during the waking hours that are to follow; the respiration is reduced, the inspirations being lessened in the proportion of six to seven, as compared with the number made when the body is awake; the action of the heart is reduced; the voluntary muscles, relieved of all fatigue, and with the extensors more relaxed than the flexors, are undergoing repair of structure, and recruiting their excitability; and the voluntary nervous system, dead for the time to the external vibration, or, as the older men called it, 'stimulus' from without, is also undergoing rest and repair, so that, when it comes again into work, it may receive better the impressions it may have to gather up, and influence more effectively the muscles it may be called upon to animate, direct, control."[11] An American observer and physiologist, Dr. William A. Hammond, confirms the views of his English colleague. He tells us that "the state of general repose which accompanies sleep is of especial value to the organism, in allowing the nutrition of the nervous tissue to go on at a greater rate than its destructive metamorphosis." In another place he adds, "For the brain, there is no rest except during sleep." And, again, he says, "The more active the mind, the greater the necessity for sleep; just as with a steamer, the greater the number of revolutions its engine makes, the more imperative is the demand for fuel."[12] These statements justify and explain the instinctive demand for sleep. They also show why it is that infants require more sleep than children, and children than middle-age folk, and middle-age folk than old people. Infants must have sleep for repair and rapid growth; children, for repair and moderate growth; middle-age folk, for repair without growth; and old people, only for the minimum of repair. Girls, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, must have sleep, not only for repair and growth, like boys, but for the additional task of constructing, or, more properly speaking, of developing and perfecting then, a reproductive system,—the engine within an engine. The bearing of this physiological fact upon education is obvious. Work of the school is work of the brain. Work of the brain eats the brain away. Sleep is the chance and laboratory of repair. If a child's brain-work and sleep are normally proportioned to each other, each night will more than make good each day's loss. Clear heads will greet each welcome morn. But if the reverse occurs, the night will not repair the day; and aching heads will signalize the advance of neuralgia, tubercle, and disease. So Nature punishes disobedience.

It is apparent, from these physiological considerations, that, in order to give girls a fair chance in education, four conditions at least must be observed: first, a sufficient supply of appropriate nutriment; secondly, a normal management of the catamenial functions, including the building of the reproductive apparatus; thirdly, mental and physical work so apportioned, that repair shall exceed waste, and a margin be left for general and sexual development; and fourthly, sufficient sleep. Evidence of the results brought about by a disregard of these conditions will next be given.


[3] Human Physiology, p. 546.

[4] As might be expected, the mortality of girls is greater at this period than that of boys, an additional reason for imposing less labor on the former at that time. According to the authority of MM. Quetelet and Smits, the mortality of the two sexes is equal in childhood, or that of the male is greatest; but that of the female rises between the ages of fourteen and sixteen to 1.28 to one male death. For the next four years, it falls again to 1.05 females to one male death.—Sur la Reproduction et la Mortalite de l'Homme. 8vo. Bruxelles.

[5] Lectures on Diseases of Women. Am. ed., p. 48.

[6] "Much less uncommon than the absence of either ovary is the persistence of both through the whole or greater part of life in the condition which they present in infancy and early childhood, with scarcely a trace of graafian vesicles in their tissue. This want of development of the ovaries is generally, though not invariably, associated with want of development of the uterus and other sexual organs; and I need not say that women in whom it exists are sterile."—Lectures on the Diseases of Women, by Charles West, M.D. Am. ed., p. 37.

[7] Enigmas of Life, pp. 165-8.

[8] Tuckerman's Genera Lichenum, Introduction, p. v.

[9] Carpenter's Human Physiology, p. 455.

[10] Nicholson, Study of Biology, p. 79.

[11] Popular Science Monthly, August, 1872, p. 411.

[12] Sleep and its Derangements, pp. 9, 10, 13.



"Et l'on nous persuadera difficilement que lorsque les hommes ont tant de peine a etre hommes, les femmes puissent, tout en restant femmes, devenir hommes aussi, mettant ainsi la main sur les deux roles, exercant la double mission, resumant le double caractere de l'humanite! Nous perdrons la femme, et nous n'aurons pas l'homme. Voila ce qui nous arrivera. On nous donnera ce quelque chose de monstreux, cet etre repugnant, qui deja parait a notre horizon."—LE COMTE A. DE GASPARIN.

"Facts given in evidence are premises from which a conclusion is to be drawn. The first step in the exercise of this duty is to acquire a belief of the truth of the facts."—RAM, on Facts.

Clinical observation confirms the teachings of physiology. The sick chamber, not the schoolroom; the physician's private consultation, not the committee's public examination; the hospital, not the college, the workshop, or the parlor,—disclose the sad results which modern social customs, modern education, and modern ways of labor, have entailed on women. Examples of them may be found in every walk of life. On the luxurious couches of Beacon Street; in the palaces of Fifth Avenue; among the classes of our private, common, and normal schools; among the female graduates of our colleges; behind the counters of Washington Street and Broadway; in our factories, workshops, and homes,—may be found numberless pale, weak, neuralgic, dyspeptic, hysterical, menorrhagic, dysmenorrhoeic girls and women, that are living illustrations of the truth of this brief monograph. It is not asserted here that improper methods of study, and a disregard of the reproductive apparatus and its functions, during the educational life of girls, are the sole causes of female diseases; neither is it asserted that all the female graduates of our schools and colleges are pathological specimens. But it is asserted that the number of these graduates who have been permanently disabled to a greater or less degree by these causes is so great, as to excite the gravest alarm, and to demand the serious attention of the community. If these causes should continue for the next half-century, and increase in the same ratio as they have for the last fifty years, it requires no prophet to foretell that the wives who are to be mothers in our republic must be drawn from trans-atlantic homes. The sons of the New World will have to re-act, on a magnificent scale, the old story of unwived Rome and the Sabines.

We have previously seen that the blood is the life, and that the loss of it is the loss of so much life. Deluded by strange theories, and groping in physiological darkness, our fathers' physicians were too often Sangrados. Nourishing food, pure air, and haematized blood were stigmatized as the friends of disease and the enemies of convalescence. Oxygen was shut out from and carbonic acid shut into the chambers of phthisis and fever; and veins were opened, that the currents of blood and disease might flow out together. Happily, those days of ignorance, which God winked at, and which the race survived, have passed by. Air and food and blood are recognized as Nature's restoratives. No physician would dare, nowadays, to bleed either man or woman once a month, year in and year out, for a quarter of a century continuously. But girls often have the courage, or the ignorance, to do this to themselves. And the worst of it is, that the organization of our schools and workshops, and the demands of social life and polite society, encourage them in this slow suicide. It has already been stated that the excretory organs, by constantly eliminating from the system its effete and used material, the measure and source of its force, keep the machine in clean, healthy, and working order, and that the reproductive apparatus of woman uses the blood as one of its agents of elimination. Kept within natural limits, this elimination is a source of strength, a perpetual fountain of health, a constant renewal of life. Beyond these limits it is a hemorrhage, that, by draining away the life, becomes a source of weakness and a perpetual fountain of disease.

The following case illustrates one of the ways in which our present school methods of teaching girls generate a menorrhagia and its consequent evils. Miss A——, a healthy, bright, intelligent girl, entered a female school, an institution that is commonly but oddly called a seminary for girls, in the State of New York, at the age of fifteen. She was then sufficiently well-developed, and had a good color; all the functions appeared to act normally, and the catamenia were fairly established. She was ambitious as well as capable, and aimed to be among the first in the school. Her temperament was what physiologists call nervous,—an expression that does not denote a fidgety make, but refers to a relative activity of the nervous system. She was always anxious about her recitations. No matter how carefully she prepared for them, she was ever fearful lest she should trip a little, and appear to less advantage than she hoped. She went to school regularly every week, and every day of the school year, just as boys do. She paid no more attention to the periodical tides of her organization than her companions; and that was none at all. She recited standing at all times, or at least whenever a standing recitation was the order of the hour. She soon found, and this history is taken from her own lips, that for a few days during every fourth week, the effort of reciting produced an extraordinary physical result. The attendant anxiety and excitement relaxed the sluices of the system that were already physiologically open, and determined a hemorrhage as the concomitant of a recitation. Subjected to the inflexible rules of the school, unwilling to seek advice from any one, almost ashamed of her own physique, she ingeniously protected herself against exposure, and went on intellectually leading her companions, and physically defying nature. At the end of a year, she went home with a gratifying report from her teachers, and pale cheeks and a variety of aches. Her parents were pleased, and perhaps a little anxious. She is a good scholar, said her father; somewhat over-worked possibly; and so he gave her a trip among the mountains, and a week or two at the seashore. After her vacation she returned to school, and repeated the previous year's experience,—constant, sustained work, recitation and study for all days alike, a hemorrhage once a month that would make the stroke oar of the University crew falter, and a brilliant scholar. Before the expiration of the second year, Nature began to assert her authority. The paleness of Miss A's complexion increased. An unaccountable and uncontrollable twitching of a rhythmical sort got into the muscles of her face, and made her hands go and feet jump. She was sent home, and her physician called, who at once diagnosticated chorea (St. Vitus' dance), and said she had studied too hard, and wisely prescribed no study and a long vacation. Her parents took her to Europe. A year of the sea and the Alps, of England and the Continent, the Rhine and Italy, worked like a charm. The sluiceways were controlled, the blood saved, and color and health returned. She came back seemingly well, and at the age of eighteen went to her old school once more. During all this time not a word had been said to her by her parents, her physician, or her teachers, about any periodical care of herself; and the rules of the school did not acknowledge the catamenia. The labor and regimen of the school soon brought on the old menorrhagic trouble in the old way, with the addition of occasional faintings to emphasize Nature's warnings. She persisted in getting her education, however, and graduated at nineteen, the first scholar, and an invalid. Again her parents were gratified and anxious. She is overworked, said they, and wondered why girls break down so. To insure her recovery, a second and longer travel was undertaken. Egypt and Asia were added to Europe, and nearly two years were allotted to the cure. With change of air and scene her health improved, but not so rapidly as with the previous journey. She returned to America better than she went away, and married at the age of twenty-two. Soon after that time she consulted the writer on account of prolonged dyspepsia, neuralgia, and dysmenorrhoea, which had replaced menorrhagia. Then I learned the long history of her education, and of her efforts to study just as boys do. Her attention had never been called before to the danger she had incurred while at school. She is now what is called getting better, but has the delicacy and weaknesses of American women, and, so far, is without children.

It is not difficult, in this case, either to discern the cause of the trouble, or to trace its influence, through the varying phases of disease, from Miss A——'s school-days, to her matronly life. She was well, and would have been called robust, up to her first critical period. She then had two tasks imposed upon her at once, both of which required for their perfect accomplishment a few years of time and a large share of vital force: one was the education of the brain, the other of the reproductive system. The schoolmaster superintended the first, and Nature the second. The school, with puritanic inflexibility, demanded every day of the month; Nature, kinder than the school, demanded less than a fourth of the time,—a seventh or an eighth of it would have probably answered. The schoolmaster might have yielded somewhat, but would not; Nature could not. The pupil, therefore, was compelled to undertake both tasks at the same time. Ambitious, earnest, and conscientious, she obeyed the visible power and authority of the school, and disobeyed, or rather ignorantly sought to evade, the invisible power and authority of her organization. She put her will into the education of her brain, and withdrew it from elsewhere. The system does not do two things well at the same time. One or the other suffers from neglect, when the attempt is made. Miss A—— made her brain and muscles work actively, and diverted blood and force to them when her organization demanded active work, with blood and force for evolution in another region. At first the schoolmaster seemed to be successful. He not only made his pupil's brain manipulate Latin, chemistry, philosophy, geography, grammar, arithmetic, music, French, German, and the whole extraordinary catalogue of an American young lady's school curriculum, with acrobatic skill; but he made her do this irrespective of the periodical tides of her organism, and made her perform her intellectual and muscular calisthenics, obliging her to stand, walk, and recite, at the seasons of highest tide. For a while she got on nicely. Presently, however, the strength of the loins, that even Solomon put in as a part of his ideal woman, changed to weakness. Periodical hemorrhages were the first warning of this. As soon as loss of blood occurred regularly and largely, the way to imperfect development and invalidism was open, and the progress easy and rapid. The nerves and their centres lacked nourishment. There was more waste than repair,—no margin for growth. St. Vitus' dance was a warning not to be neglected, and the schoolmaster resigned to the doctor. A long vacation enabled the system to retrace its steps, and recover force for evolution. Then the school resumed its sway, and physiological laws were again defied. Fortunately graduation soon occurred, and unintermitted, sustained labor was no longer enforced. The menorrhagia ceased, but persistent dysmenorrhoea now indicates the neuralgic friction of an imperfectly developed reproductive apparatus. Doubtless the evil of her education will infect her whole life.

The next case is drawn from different social surroundings. Early associations and natural aptitude inclined Miss B—— to the stage; and the need of bread and butter sent her upon it as a child, at what age I do not know. At fifteen she was an actress, determined to do her best, and ambitious of success. She strenuously taxed muscle and brain at all times in her calling. She worked in a man's sustained way, ignoring all demands for special development, and essaying first to dis-establish, and then to bridle, the catamenia. At twenty she was eminent. The excitement and effort of acting periodically produced the same result with her that a recitation did under similar conditions with Miss A——. If she had been a physiologist, she would have known how this course of action would end. As she was an actress, and not a physiologist, she persisted in the slow suicide of frequent hemorrhages, and encouraged them by her method of professional education, and later by her method of practising her profession. She tried to ward off disease, and repair the loss of force, by consulting various doctors, taking drugs, and resorting to all sorts of expedients; but the hemorrhages continued, and were repeated at irregular and abnormally frequent intervals. A careful local examination disclosed no local disturbance. There was neither ulceration, hypertrophy, or congestion of the os or cervix uteri; no displacement of any moment, of ovarian tenderness. In spite of all her difficulties, however, she worked on courageously and steadily in a man's way and with a woman's will. After a long and discouraging experience of doctors, work, and weaknesses, when rather over thirty years old, she came to Boston to consult the writer, who learned at that time the details just recited. She was then pale and weak. A murmur in the veins, which a French savant, by way of dedication to the Devil, christened bruit de diable, a baptismal name that science has retained, was audible over her jugulars, and a similar murmur over her heart. Palpitation and labored respiration accompanied and impeded effort. She complained most of her head, which felt "queer," would not go to sleep as formerly, and often gave her turns, in which there was a mingling of dizziness, semi-consciousness, and fear. Her education and work, or rather method of work, had wrought out for her anemia and epileptiform attacks. She got two or three physiological lectures, was ordered to take iron, and other nourishing food, allow time for sleep, and, above all, to arrange her professional work in harmony with the rhythmical or periodical action of woman's constitution. She made the effort to do this, and, in six months, reported herself in better health—though far from well—than she had been for six years before.

This case scarcely requires analysis in order to see how it bears on the question of a girl's education and woman's work. A gifted and healthy girl, obliged to get her education and earn her bread at the same time, labored upon the two tasks zealously, perhaps over-much, and did this at the epoch when the female organization is busy with the development of its reproductive apparatus. Nor is this all. She labored continuously, yielding nothing to Nature's periodical demand for force. She worked her engine up to highest pressure, just as much at flood-tide as at other times. Naturally there was not nervous power enough developed in the uterine and associated ganglia to restrain the laboring orifices of the circulation, to close the gates; and the flood of blood gushed through. With the frequent repetition of the flooding, came inevitably the evils she suffered from,—Nature's penalties. She now reports herself better; but whether convalescence will continue will depend upon her method of work for the future.

Let us take the next illustration from a walk in life different from either of the foregoing. Miss C—— was a bookkeeper in a mercantile house. The length of time she remained in the employ of the house, and its character, are a sufficient guaranty that she did her work well. Like the other clerks, she was at her post, standing, during business hours, from Monday morning till Saturday night. The female pelvis being wider than that of the male, the weight of the body, in the upright posture, tends to press the upper extremities of the thighs out laterally in females more than in males. Hence the former can stand less long with comfort than the latter. Miss C——, however, believed in doing her work in a man's way, infected by the not uncommon notion that womanliness means manliness. Moreover, she would not, or could not, make any more allowance for the periodicity of her organization than for the shape of her skeleton. When about twenty years of age, perhaps a year or so older, she applied to me for advice in consequence of neuralgia, back-ache, menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, and general debility. She was anemic, and looked pale, care-worn, and anxious. There was no evidence of any local organic affection of the pelvic organs. "Get a woman's periodical remission from labor, if intermission is impossible, and do your work in a woman's way, not copying a man's fashion, and you will need very little apothecary's stuff," was the advice she received. "I must go on as I am doing," was her answer. She tried iron, sitz-baths, and the like: of course they were of no avail. Latterly I have lost sight of her, and, from her appearance at her last visit to me, presume she has gone to a world where back-ache and male and female skeletons are unknown.

Illustrations of this sort might be multiplied but these three are sufficient to show how an abnormal method of study and work may and does open the flood-gates of the system, and, by letting blood out, lets all sorts of evil in. Let us now look at another phase; for menorrhagia and its consequences are not the only punishments that girls receive for being educated and worked just like boys. Nature's methods of punishing men and women are as numerous as their organs and functions, and her penalties as infinite in number and gradation as her blessings.

Amenorrhoea is perhaps more common than menorrhagia. It often happens, however, during the first critical epoch, which is isochronal with the technical educational period of a girl, that after a few occasions of catamenial hemorrhage, moderate perhaps but still hemorrhage, which are not heeded, the conservative force of Nature steps in, and saves the blood by arresting the function. In such instances, amenorrhoea is a result of menorrhagia. In this way, and in others that we need not stop to inquire into, the regimen of our schools, colleges, and social life, that requires girls to walk, work, stand, study, recite, and dance at all times as boys can and should, may shut the uterine portals of the blood up, and keep poison in, as well as open them, and let life out. Which of these two evils is worse in itself, and which leaves the largest legacy of ills behind, it is difficult to say. Let us examine some illustrations of this sort of arrest.

Miss D—— entered Vassar College at the age of fourteen. Up to that age, she had been a healthy girl, judged by the standard of American girls. Her parents were apparently strong enough to yield her a fair dower of force. The catamenial function first showed signs of activity in her Sophomore Year, when she was fifteen years old. Its appearance at this age[13] is confirmatory evidence of the normal state of her health at that period of her college career. Its commencement was normal, without pain or excess. She performed all her college duties regularly and steadily. She studied, recited, stood at the blackboard, walked, and went through her gymnastic exercises, from the beginning to the end of the term, just as boys do. Her account of her regimen there was so nearly that of a boy's regimen, that it would puzzle a physiologist to determine, from the account alone, whether the subject of it was male or female. She was an average scholar, who maintained a fair position in her class, not one of the anxious sort, that are ambitious of leading all the rest. Her first warning was fainting away, while exercising in the gymnasium, at a time when she should have been comparatively quiet, both mentally and physically. This warning was repeated several times, under the same circumstances. Finally she was compelled to renounce gymnastic exercises altogether. In her Junior Year, the organism's periodical function began to be performed with pain, moderate at first, but more and more severe with each returning month. When between seventeen and eighteen years old, dysmenorrhoea was established as the order of that function. Coincident with the appearance of pain, there was a diminution of excretion; and, as the former increased, the latter became more marked. In other respects she was well; and, in all respects, she appeared to be well to her companions and to the faculty of the college. She graduated before nineteen, with fair honors and a poor physique. The year succeeding her graduation was one of steadily-advancing invalidism. She was tortured for two or three days out of every month; and, for two or three days after each season of torture, was weak and miserable, so that about one sixth or fifth of her time was consumed in this way. The excretion from the blood, which had been gradually lessening, after a time substantially stopped, though a periodical effort to keep it up was made. She now suffered from what is called amenorrhoea. At the same time she became pale, hysterical, nervous in the ordinary sense, and almost constantly complained of headache. Physicians were applied to for aid: drugs were administered; travelling, with consequent change of air and scene, was undertaken; and all with little apparent avail. After this experience, she was brought to Boston for advice, when the writer first saw her, and learned all these details. She presented no evidence of local uterine congestion, inflammation, ulceration, or displacement. The evidence was altogether in favor of an arrest of the development of the reproductive apparatus, at a stage when the development was nearly complete. Confirmatory proof of such an arrest was found in examining her breast, where the milliner had supplied the organs Nature should have grown. It is unnecessary for our present purpose to detail what treatment was advised. It is sufficient to say, that she probably never will become physically what she would have been had her education been physiologically guided.

This case needs very little comment: its teachings are obvious. Miss D—— went to college in good physical condition. During the four years of her college life, her parents and the college faculty required her to get what is popularly called an education. Nature required her, during the same period, to build and put in working-order a large and complicated reproductive mechanism, a matter that is popularly ignored,—shoved out of sight like a disgrace. She naturally obeyed the requirements of the faculty, which she could see, rather than the requirements of the mechanism within her, that she could not see. Subjected to the college regimen, she worked four years in getting a liberal education. Her way of work was sustained and continuous, and out of harmony with the rhythmical periodicity of the female organization. The stream of vital and constructive force evolved within her was turned steadily to the brain, and away from the ovaries and their accessories. The result of this sort of education was, that these last-mentioned organs, deprived of sufficient opportunity and nutriment, first began to perform their functions with pain, a warning of error that was unheeded; then, to cease to grow;[14] next, to set up once a month a grumbling torture that made life miserable; and, lastly, the brain and the whole nervous system, disturbed, in obedience to the law, that, if one member suffers, all the members suffer, became neuralgic and hysterical. And so Miss D—— spent the few years next succeeding her graduation in conflict with dysmenorrhoea, headache, neuralgia, and hysteria. Her parents marvelled at her ill-health; and she furnished another text for the often-repeated sermon on the delicacy of American girls.

It may not be unprofitable to give the history of one more case of this sort. Miss E—— had an hereditary right to a good brain and to the best cultivation of it. Her father was one of our ripest and broadest American scholars, and her mother one of our most accomplished American women. They both enjoyed excellent health. Their daughter had a literary training,—an intellectual, moral, and aesthetic half of education, such as their supervision would be likely to give, and one that few young men of her age receive. Her health did not seem to suffer at first. She studied, recited, walked, worked, stood, and the like, in the steady and sustained way that is normal to the male organization. She seemed to evolve force enough to acquire a number of languages, to become familiar with the natural sciences, to take hold of philosophy and mathematics, and to keep in good physical case while doing all this. At the age of twenty-one she might have been presented to the public, on Commencement Day, by the president of Vassar College or of Antioch College or of Michigan University, as the wished-for result of American liberal female culture. Just at this time, however, the catamenial function began to show signs of failure of power. No severe or even moderate illness overtook her. She was subjected to no unusual strain. She was only following the regimen of continued and sustained work, regardless of Nature's periodical demands for a portion of her time and force, when, without any apparent cause, the failure of power was manifested by moderate dysmenorrhoea and diminished excretion. Soon after this the function ceased altogether; and up to this present writing, a period of six or eight years, it has shown no more signs of activity than an amputated arm. In the course of a year or so after the cessation of the function, her head began to trouble her. First there was headache, then a frequent congested condition, which she described as a "rush of blood" to her head; and, by and by, vagaries and forebodings and despondent feelings began to crop out. Coincident with this mental state, her skin became rough and coarse, and an inveterate acne covered her face. She retained her appetite, ability to exercise and sleep. A careful local examination of the pelvic organs, by an expert, disclosed no lesion or displacement there, no ovaritis or other inflammation. Appropriate treatment faithfully persevered in was unsuccessful in recovering the lost function. I was finally obliged to consign her to an asylum.

The arrest of development of the reproductive system is most obvious to the superficial observer in that part of it which the milliner is called upon to cover up with pads, and which was alluded to in the case of Miss D——. This, however, is too important a matter to be dismissed with a bare allusion. A recent writer has pointed out the fact and its significance with great clearness. "There is another marked change," says Dr. Nathan Allen, "going on in the female organization at the present day, which is very significant of something wrong. In the normal state, Nature has made ample provision in the structure of the female for nursing her offspring. In order to furnish this nourishment, pure in quality and abundant in quantity, she must possess a good development of the sanguine and lymphatic temperament, together with vigorous and healthy digestive organs. Formerly such an organization was very generally possessed by American women, and they found but little difficulty in nursing their infants. It was only occasionally, in case of some defect in the organization, or where sickness of some kind had overtaken the mother, that it became necessary to resort to the wet-nurse or to feeding by hand. And the English, the Scotch, the German, the Canadian French, and the Irish women now living in this country, generally nurse their children: the exceptions are rare. But how is it with our American women who become mothers? To those who have never considered this subject, and even to medical men who have never carefully looked into it, the facts, when correctly and fully presented, will be surprising. It has been supposed by some that all, or nearly all, our American women could nurse their offspring just as well as not; that the disposition only was wanting, and that they did not care about having the trouble or confinement necessarily attending it. But this is a great mistake. This very indifference or aversion shows something wrong in the organization as well as in the disposition: if the physical system were all right, the mind and natural instincts would generally be right also. While there may be here and there cases of this kind, such an indisposition is not always found. It is a fact, that large numbers of our women are anxious to nurse their offspring, and make the attempt: they persevere for a while,—perhaps for weeks or months,—and then fail.... There is still another class that cannot nurse at all, having neither the organs nor nourishment requisite even to make a beginning.... Why should there be such a difference between the women of our times and their mothers or grandmothers? Why should there be such a difference between our American women and those of foreign origin residing in the same locality, and surrounded by the same external influences? The explanation is simple: they have not the right kind of organization; there is a want of proper development of the lymphatic and sanguine temperaments,—a marked deficiency in the organs of nutrition and secretion. You cannot draw water without good, flowing springs. The brain and nervous system have, for a long time, made relatively too large a demand upon the organs of digestion and assimilation, while the exercise and development of certain other tissues in the body have been sadly neglected.... In consequence of the great neglect of physical exercise, and the continuous application to study, together with various other influences, large numbers of our American women have altogether an undue predominance of the nervous temperament. If only here and there an individual were found with such an organization, not much harm comparatively would result; but, when a majority or nearly all have it, the evil becomes one of no small magnitude."[15] And the evil, it should be added, is not simply the inability to nurse; for, if one member suffers, all the members suffer. A woman, whether married or unmarried, whether called to the offices of maternity or relieved from them, who has been defrauded by her education or otherwise of such an essential part of her development, is not so much of a woman, intellectually and morally as well as physically, in consequence of this defect. Her nervous system and brain, her instincts and character, are on a lower plane, and incapable of their harmonious and best development, if she is possessed, on reaching adult age, of only a portion of a breast and an ovary, or none at all.

When arrested development of the reproductive system is nearly or quite complete, it produces a change in the character, and a loss of power, which it is easy to recognize, but difficult to describe. As this change is an occasional attendant or result of amenorrhoea, when the latter, brought about at an early age, is part of an early arrest, it should not be passed by without an allusion. In these cases, which are not of frequent occurrence at present, but which may be evolved by our methods of education more numerously in the future, the system tolerates the absence of the catamenia, and the consequent non-elimination of impurities from the blood. Acute or chronic disease, the ordinary result of this condition, is not set up, but, instead, there is a change in the character and development of the brain and nervous system. There are in individuals of this class less adipose and more muscular tissue than is commonly seen, a coarser skin, and, generally, a tougher and more angular make-up. There is a corresponding change in the intellectual and psychical condition,—a dropping out of maternal instincts, and an appearance of Amazonian coarseness and force. Such persons are analogous to the sexless class of termites. Naturalists tell us that these insects are divided into males and females, and a third class called workers and soldiers, who have no reproductive apparatus, and who, in their structure and instincts, are unlike the fertile individuals.

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