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Title: Sex in Education - or, A Fair Chance for Girls
Author: Clarke, Edward Hammond, 1820-1877
Language: English
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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.                           |
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      |    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.

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



INTRODUCTORY                                              11


CHIEFLY PHYSIOLOGICAL                                     31


CHIEFLY CLINICAL                                          61


CO-EDUCATION                                             118


THE EUROPEAN WAY                                         162


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.

  BOSTON, 18 ARLINGTON STREET, October, 1873.


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.

      Nov. 8, 1873.


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 _quæstio 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

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

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

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 naturæ_ 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 Phædrus, "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

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

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

    "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

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 _débris_
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

                "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

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 vitæ._ 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 Mortalité 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 à être hommes, les femmes puissent, tout en
    restant femmes, devenir hommes aussi, mettant ainsi la main
    sur les deux rôles, exerçant la double mission, résumant le
    double caractère de l'humanité! 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 être répugnant, qui
    déjà parait à 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 hæmatized 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

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
æsthetic 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.

A closer analogy than this, however, exists between these human
individuals and the eunuchs of Oriental civilization. Except the
secretary of the treasury, in the cabinet of Candace, queen of
Ethiopia, who was baptized by Philip and Narses, Justinian's general,
none of that class have made any impression on the world's life, that
history has recorded. It may be reasonably doubted if arrested
development of the female reproductive system, producing a class of
agenes,[16] not epicenes, will yield a better result of intellectual
and moral power in the nineteenth century, than the analogous class of
Orientals exhibited. Clinical illustrations of this type of arrested
growth might be given, but my pen refuses the ungracious task.

Another result of the present methods of educating girls, and one
different from any of the preceding, remains to be noticed. Schools
and colleges, as we have seen, require girls to work their brains with
full force and sustained power, at the time when their organization
periodically requires a portion of their force for the performance of
a periodical function, and a portion of their power for the building
up of a peculiar, complicated, and important mechanism,--the engine
within an engine. They are required to do two things equally well at
the same time. They are urged to meditate a lesson and drive a machine
simultaneously, and to do them both with all their force. Their
organizations are expected to make good sound brains and nerves by
working over the humanities, the sciences, and the arts, and, at the
same time, to make good sound reproductive apparatuses, not only
without any especial attention to the latter, but while all available
force is withdrawn from the latter and sent to the former. It is not
materialism to say, that, as the brain is, so will thought be. Without
discussing the French physiologist's dictum, that the brain secretes
thought as the liver does bile, we may be sure, that without brain
there will be no thought. The quality of the latter depends on the
quality of the former. The metamorphoses of brain manifest, measure,
limit, enrich, and color thought. Brain tissue, including both
quantity and quality, correlates mental power. The brain is
manufactured from the blood; its quantity and quality are determined
by the quantity and quality of its blood supply. Blood is made from
food; but it may be lost by careless hemorrhage, or poisoned by
deficient elimination. When frequently and largely lost or poisoned,
as I have too frequent occasion to know it often is, it becomes
impoverished,--anemic. Then the brain suffers, and mental power is
lost. The steps are few and direct, from frequent loss of blood,
impoverished blood, and abnormal brain and nerve metamorphosis, to
loss of mental force and nerve disease. Ignorance or carelessness
leads to anemic blood, and that to an anemic mind. As the blood, so
the brain; as the brain, so the mind.

The cases which have hitherto been presented illustrate some of the
evils which the reproductive system is apt to receive in consequence
of obvious derangement of its growth and functions. But it may, and
often does, happen that the catamenia are normally performed, and that
the reproductive system is fairly made up during the educational
period. Then force is withdrawn from the brain and nerves and
ganglia. These are dwarfed or checked or arrested in their
development. In the process of waste and repair, of destructive and
constructive metamorphosis, by which brains as well as bones are built
up and consolidated, education often leaves insufficient margin for
growth. Income derived from air, food, and sleep, which should
largely, may only moderately exceed expenditure upon study and work,
and so leave but little surplus for growth in any direction; or, what
more commonly occurs, the income which the brain receives is all spent
upon study, and little or none upon its development, while that which
the nutritive and reproductive systems receive is retained by them,
and devoted to their own growth. When the school makes the same steady
demand for force from girls who are approaching puberty, ignoring
Nature's periodical demands, that it does from boys, who are not
called upon for an equal effort, there must be failure somewhere.
Generally either the reproductive system or the nervous system
suffers. We have looked at several instances of the former sort of
failure; let us now examine some of the latter.

Miss F---- was about twenty years old when she completed her technical
education. She inherited a nervous diathesis as well as a large dower
of intellectual and æsthetic graces. She was a good student, and
conscientiously devoted all her time, with the exception of ordinary
vacations, to the labor of her education. She made herself mistress of
several languages, and accomplished in many ways. The catamenial
function appeared normally, and, with the exception of occasional
slight attacks of menorrhagia, was normally performed during the whole
period of her education. She got on without any sort of serious
illness. There were few belonging to my clientele who required less
professional advice for the same period than she. With the ending of
her school life, when she should have been in good trim and well
equipped, physically as well as intellectually, for life's work,
there commenced, without obvious cause, a long period of invalidism.
It would be tedious to the reader, and useless for our present
purpose, to detail the history and describe the protean shapes of her
sufferings. With the exception of small breasts, the reproductive
system was well developed. Repeated and careful examinations failed to
detect any derangement of the uterine mechanism. Her symptoms all
pointed to the nervous system as the _fons et origo mali_. First
general debility, that concealed but ubiquitous leader of innumerable
armies of weakness and ill, laid siege to her, and captured her. Then
came insomnia, that worried her nights for month after month, and made
her beg for opium, alcohol, chloral, bromides, any thing that would
bring sleep. Neuralgia in every conceivable form tormented her, most
frequently in her back, but often, also, in her head, sometimes in her
sciatic nerves, sometimes setting up a tic douloureux, sometimes
causing a fearful dysmenorrhoea and frequently making her head ache
for days together. At other times hysteria got hold of her, and made
her fancy herself the victim of strange diseases. Mental effort of the
slightest character distressed her, and she could not bear physical
exercise of any amount. This condition, or rather these varying
conditions, continued for some years. She followed a careful and
systematic regimen, and was rewarded by a slow and gradual return of
health and strength, when a sudden accident killed her, and terminated
her struggle with weakness and pain.

Words fail to convey the lesson of this case to others with any thing
like the force that the observation of it conveyed its moral to those
about Miss F----, and especially to the physician who watched her
career through her educational life, and saw it lead to its logical
conclusion of invalidism and thence towards recovery, till life ended.
When she finished school, as the phrase goes, she was considered to be
well. The principal of any seminary or head of any college, judging
by her looks alone, would not have hesitated to call her rosy and
strong. At that time the symptoms of failure which began to appear
were called signs of previous overwork. This was true, but not so much
in the sense of overwork as of erroneously-arranged work. While a
student, she wrought continuously,--just as much during each
catamenial week as at other times. As a consequence, in her
metamorphosis of tissue, repair did little more than make up waste.
There were constant demands of force for constant growth of the system
generally, equally constant demands of force for the labor of
education, and periodical demands of force for a periodical function.
The regimen she followed did not permit all these demands to be
satisfied, and the failure fell on the nervous system. She
accomplished intellectually a good deal, but not more than she might
have done, and retained her health, had the order of her education
been a physiological one. It was not Latin, French, German,
mathematics, or philosophy that undermined her nerves; nor was it
because of any natural inferiority to boys that she failed; nor
because she undertook to master what women have no right to learn: she
lost her health simply because she undertook to do her work in a boy's
way and not in a girl's way.

Let us learn the lesson of one more case. These details may be
tedious; but the justification of their presence here are the
importance of the subject they illustrate and elucidate, and the
necessity of acquiring a belief of the truth of the facts of female

Miss G---- worked her way through New-England primary, grammar, and
high schools to a Western college, which she entered with credit to
herself, and from which she graduated, confessedly its first scholar,
leading the male and female youth alike. All that need be told of her
career is that she worked as a student, continuously and
perseveringly, through the years of her first critical epoch, and for
a few years after it, without any sort of regard to the periodical
type of her organization. It never appeared that she studied
excessively in other respects, or that her system was weakened while
in college by fevers or other sickness. Not a great while after
graduation, she began to show signs of failure, and some years later
died under the writer's care. A post-mortem examination was made,
which disclosed no disease in any part of the body, except in the
brain, where the microscope revealed commencing degeneration.

This was called an instance of death from over-work. Like the
preceding case, it was not so much the result of over-work as of
un-physiological work. She was unable to make a good brain, that could
stand the wear and tear of life, and a good reproductive system that
should serve the race, at the same time that she was continuously
spending her force in intellectual labor. Nature asked for a
periodical remission, and did not get it. And so Miss G---- died, not
because she had mastered the wasps of Aristophanes and the Mécanique
Céleste, not because she had made the acquaintance of Kant and
Kölliker, and ventured to explore the anatomy of flowers and the
secrets of chemistry, but because, while pursuing these studies, while
doing all this work, she steadily ignored her woman's make. Believing
that woman can do what man can, for she held that faith, she strove
with noble but ignorant bravery to compass man's intellectual
attainment in a man's way, and died in the effort. If she had aimed at
the same goal, disregarding masculine and following feminine methods,
she would be alive now, a grand example of female culture, attainment,
and power.

These seven clinical observations are sufficient to illustrate the
fact that our modern methods of education do not give the female
organization a fair chance, but that they check development, and
invite weakness. It would be easy to multiply such observations, from
the writer's own notes alone, and, by doing so, to swell this essay
into a portly volume; but the reader is spared the needless
infliction. Other observers have noticed similar facts, and have
urgently called attention to them.

Dr. Fisher, in a recent excellent monograph on insanity, says, "A few
examples of injury from _continued_ study will show how mental strain
affects the health of young girls particularly. Every physician could,
no doubt, furnish many similar ones."

"Miss A---- graduated with honor at the normal school after several
years of close study, much of the time out of school; never attended
balls or parties; sank into a low state of health at once with
depression. Was very absurdly allowed to marry while in this state,
and soon after became violently insane, and is likely to remain so."

"Miss A---- graduated at the grammar school, not only first, but
_perfect_, and at once entered the normal school; was very ambitious
to sustain her reputation, and studied hard out of school; was slow to
learn, but had a retentive memory; could seldom be induced to go to
parties, and, when she did go, studied while dressing, and on the way;
was assigned extra tasks at school, because she performed them so
well; was a _fine healthy girl in appearance_, but broke down
permanently at end of second year, and is now a victim of hysteria and

"Miss C----, of a nervous organization, and quick to learn; her health
suffered in normal school, so that her physician predicted insanity if
her studies were not discontinued. She persevered, however, and is now
an inmate of a hospital, with hysteria and depression."

"A certain proportion of girls are predisposed to mental or nervous
derangement. The same girls are apt to be quick, brilliant, ambitious,
and persistent at study, and need not stimulation, but repression. For
the sake of a temporary reputation for scholarship, they risk their
health at the _most susceptible period_ of their lives, and break down
_after the excitement of school-life has passed away_. For _sexual
reasons_ they cannot compete with boys, whose out-door habits still
further increase the difference in their favor. If it was a question
of school-teachers instead of school-girls, the list would be long of
young women whose health of mind has become bankrupt by a
_continuation_ of the mental strain commenced at school. Any method of
relief in our school-system to these over-susceptible minds should be
welcomed, even at the cost of the intellectual supremacy of woman in
the next generation."[17]

The fact which Dr. Fisher alludes to, that many girls break down not
during but _after_ the excitement of school or college life, is an
important one, and is apt to be overlooked. The process by which the
development of the reproductive system is arrested, or degeneration of
brain and nerve-tissue set a going, is an insidious one. At its
beginning, and for a long time after it is well on in its progress, it
would not be recognized by the superficial observer. A class of girls
might, and often do, graduate from our schools, higher seminaries,
and colleges, that appear to be well and strong at the time of their
graduation, but whose development has already been checked, and whose
health is on the verge of giving way. Their teachers have known
nothing of the amenorrhoea, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, or leucorrhoea
which the pupils have sedulously concealed and disregarded; and the
cunning devices of dress have covered up all external evidences of
defect; and so, on graduation day, they are pointed out by their
instructors to admiring committees as rosy specimens of both physical
and intellectual education. A closer inspection by competent experts
would reveal the secret weakness which the labor of life that they are
about to enter upon too late discloses.

The testimony of Dr. Anstie of London, as to the gravity of the evils
incurred by the sort of erroneous education we are considering, is
decided and valuable. He says, "For, be it remembered, the epoch of
sexual development is one in which an enormous addition is being made
to the expenditure of vital energy; besides the continuous processes
of growth of the tissues and organs generally, the sexual apparatus,
with its nervous supply, is making _by its development heavy demands_
upon the nutritive powers of the organism; and it is scarcely possible
but that portions of the nervous centres, not directly connected with
it, should proportionally suffer in their nutrition, probably through
defective blood supply. When we add to this the abnormal strain that
is being put on the brain, in many cases, by a forcing plan of mental
education, we shall perceive a source not merely of exhaustive
expenditure of nervous power, but of secondary irritation of centres
like the medulla oblongata that are probably already somewhat lowered
in power of vital resistance, and proportionably _irritable_."[18] A
little farther on, Dr. Anstie adds, "But I confess, that, with me, the
result of close attention given to the pathology of neuralgia has been
the ever-growing conviction, that, next to the influence of neurotic
inheritance, there is no such frequently powerful factor in the
construction of the neuralgic habit as mental warp of a certain kind,
the product of an unwise education." In another place, speaking of the
liability of the brain to suffer from an unwise education, and
referring to the sexual development that we are discussing in these
pages, he makes the following statement, which no intelligent
physician will deny, and which it would be well for all teachers who
care for the best education of the girls intrusted to their charge to
ponder seriously. "I would also go farther, and express the opinion,
that peripheral influences of an extremely powerful and _continuous_
kind, where they concur with one of those critical periods of life at
which the central nervous system is relatively weak and unstable, can
occasionally set going a non-inflammatory centric atrophy, which may
localize itself in those nerves upon whose centres the morbific
peripheral influence is perpetually pouring in. Even such influences
as the psychical and emotional, be it remembered, must be considered
peripheral."[19] The brain of Miss G----, whose case was related a few
pages back, is a clinical illustration of the accuracy of this

Dr. Weir Mitchell, one of our most eminent American physiologists, has
recently borne most emphatic testimony to the evils we have pointed
out: "Worst of all," he says, "to my mind, most destructive in every
way, is the American view of female education. The time taken for the
more serious instruction of girls extends to the age of eighteen, and
rarely over this. During these years, they are undergoing such organic
development as renders them remarkably sensitive." ... "To show more
precisely how the growing girl is injured by the causes just
mentioned" (forced and continued study at the sexual epoch) "would
carry me upon subjects unfit for full discussion in these pages; but
no thoughtful reader can be much at a loss as to my meaning." ...
"To-day the American woman is, to speak plainly, physically unfit for
her duties as woman, and is, perhaps, of all civilized females, the
least qualified to undertake those weightier tasks which tax so
heavily the nervous system of man. She is not fairly up to what Nature
asks from her as wife and mother. How will she sustain herself under
the pressure of those yet more exacting duties which now-a-days she is
eager to share with the man?"[20]

In our schools it is the ambitious and conscientious girls, those who
have in them the stuff of which the noblest women are made, that
suffer, not the romping or lazy sort; and thus our modern ways of
education provide for the "non-survival of the fittest." A speaker
told an audience of women at Wesleyan Hall not long ago, that he once
attended the examination of a Western college, where a girl beat the
boys in unravelling the intracacies of Juvenal. He did not report the
consumption of blood and wear of brain tissue that in her college way
of study correlated her Latin, or hint at the possibility of arrested
development. Girls of bloodless skins and intellectual faces may be
seen any day, by those who desire the spectacle, among the scholars of
our high and normal schools,--faces that crown, and skins that cover,
curving spines, which should be straight, and neuralgic nerves that
should know no pain. Later on, when marriage and maternity overtake
these girls, and they "live laborious days" in a sense not intended by
Milton's line, they bend and break beneath the labor, like loaded
grain before a storm, and bear little fruit again. A training that
yields this result is neither fair to the girls nor to the race.

Let us quote the authority of such an acute and sagacious observer as
Dr. Maudsley, in support of the physiological and pathological views
that have been here presented. Referring to the physiological
condition and phenomena of the first critical epoch, he says, "In the
great mental revolution caused by the development of the sexual system
at puberty, we have the most striking example of the intimate and
essential sympathy between the brain, as a mental organ, and other
organs of the body. The change of character at this period is not by
any means _limited to the appearance of the sexual feelings_, and
their sympathetic ideas, but, when traced to its ultimate reach, will
be found to extend to the highest feelings of mankind, social, moral,
and even religious."[21] He points out the fact that it is very easy
by improper training and forced work, during this susceptible period,
to turn a physiological into a pathological state. "The great mental
revolution which occurs at puberty may go beyond its physiological
limits in some instances, and become pathological." "The time of this
mental revolution is at best a trying period for youth." "The monthly
activity of the ovaries, which marks the advent of puberty in women,
has a notable effect upon the mind and body; wherefore it may become
an important cause of mental and physical derangement."[22] With
regard to the physiological effects of arrested development of the
reproductive apparatus in women, Dr. Maudsley uses the following plain
and emphatic language: "The forms and habits of mutilated men approach
those of women; and women, whose ovaries and uterus remain for some
cause in a state of complete inaction, approach the forms and habits
of men. It is said, too, that, in hermaphrodites, the mental
character, like the physical, participates equally in that of both
sexes. While woman preserves her sex, she will necessarily be feebler
than man, and, having her special bodily and mental characters, will
have, to a certain extent, her own sphere of activity; where she has
become thoroughly masculine in nature, or hermaphrodite in
mind,--when, in fact, she has pretty well divested herself of her
sex,--then she may take his ground, and do his work; but she will have
lost her feminine attractions, and probably also her chief feminine
functions."[23] It has been reserved for our age and country, by its
methods of female education, to demonstrate that it is possible in
some cases to divest a woman of her chief feminine functions; in
others, to produce grave and even fatal disease of the brain and
nervous system; in others, to engender torturing derangements and
imperfections of the reproductive apparatus that imbitter a lifetime.
Such, we know, is not the object of a liberal female education. Such
is not the consummation which the progress of the age demands.
Fortunately, it is only necessary to point out and prove the existence
of such erroneous methods and evil results to have them avoided. That
they can be avoided, and that woman can have a liberal education that
shall develop all her powers, without mutilation or disease, up to the
loftiest ideal of womanhood, is alike the teaching of physiology and
the hope of the race.

In concluding this part of our subject, it is well to remember the
statement made at the beginning of our discussion, to the following
effect, viz., that 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, or fatally injured, by these
causes, is such as to excite the _gravest alarm_, and to demand the
serious attention of the community.

The preceding physiological and pathological data naturally open the
way to a consideration of the co-education of the sexes.


[13] It appears, from the researches of Mr. Whitehead on this point,
that an examination of four thousand cases gave fifteen years six and
three-quarter months as the average age in England for the appearance
of the catamenia.--WHITEHEAD, _on Abortion, &c._

[14] The arrest of development of the uterus, in connection with
amenorrhoea, is sometimes very marked. In the New-York Medical Journal
for June, 1873, three such cases are recorded, that came under the eye
of those excellent observers, Dr. E.R. Peaslee and Dr. T.G. Thomas. In
one of these cases, the uterine cavity measured one and a half inches;
in another, one and seven-eighths inches; and, in a third, one and a
quarter inches. Recollecting that the normal measurement is from two
and a half to three inches, it appears that the arrest of development
in these cases occurred when the uterus was half or less than half
grown. Liberal education should avoid such errors.

[15] Physical Degeneracy. By Nathan Allen, M.D., Journal of
Psychological Medicine. October, 1870.

[16] According to the biblical account, woman was formed by
subtracting a rib from man. If, in the evolution of the future, a
third division of the human race is to be formed by subtracting sex
from woman,--a retrograde development,--I venture to propose the term
agene (+a+ without, +genos+ sex) as an appropriate designation for the
new development. Count Gasparin prophesies it thus: "Quelque chose de
monstreux, cet être répugnant, qui déjà parait à notre horizon," a
free translation of Virgil's earlier description:--

"Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademtum." _3d, 658

[17] Plain Talk about Insanity. By T.W. Fisher, M.D. Boston. Pp. 23,

[18] Neuralgia, and the Diseases that resemble it. By Francis E.
Anstie, M.D. Pp. 122. English ed.

[19] Op. cit., p. 160.

[20] Wear and Tear. By S. Weir Mitchell, M.D.

[21] Body and Mind. By Henry Maudsley, M.D. Lond. p. 31

[22] Op. cit., p. 87.

[23] Op. cit., p. 32.



    "_Pistoc._ Where, then, should I take my place?

    _1st Bacch._ Near myself, that, with a she wit, a he wit may
    be reclining at our repast."--BACCHIDES OF PLAUTUS.

    "The woman's-rights movement, with its conventions, its
    speech-makings, its crudities, and eccentricities, is
    nevertheless a part of a healthful and necessary movement of
    the human race towards progress."--HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.

Guided by the laws of development which we have found physiology to
teach, and warned by the punishments, in the shape of weakness and
disease, which we have shown their infringement to bring about, and of
which our present methods of female education furnish innumerable
examples, it is not difficult to discern certain physiological
principles that limit and control the education, and, consequently,
the co-education of our youth. These principles we have learned to
be, three for the two sexes in common, and one for the peculiarities
of the female sex. The three common to both, the three to which both
are subjected, and for which wise methods of education will provide in
the case of both, are, 1st, a sufficient supply of appropriate
nutriment. This of course includes good air and good water and
sufficient warmth, as much as bread and butter; oxygen and sunlight,
as much as meat. 2d, Mental and physical work and regimen so
apportioned, that repair shall exceed waste, and a margin be left for
development. This includes out-of-door exercise and appropriate ways
of dressing, as much as the hours of study, and the number and sort of
studies. 3d, Sufficient sleep. This includes the best time for
sleeping, as well as the proper number of hours for sleep. It excludes
the "murdering of sleep," by late hours of study and the crowding of
studies, as much as by wine or tea or dissipation. All these guide and
limit the education of the two sexes very much alike. The principle
or condition peculiar to the female sex is the management of the
catamenial function, which, from the age of fourteen to nineteen,
includes the building of the reproductive apparatus. This imposes upon
women, and especially upon the young woman, a great care, a
corresponding duty, and compensating privileges. There is only a
feeble counterpart to it in the male organization; and, in his moral
constitution, there cannot be found the fine instincts and quick
perceptions that have their root in this mechanism, and correlate its
functions. This lends to her development and to all her work a
rhythmical or periodical order, which must be recognized and obeyed.
"In this recognition of the chronometry of organic process, there is
unquestionably great promise for the future; for it is plain that the
observance of time in the motions of organic molecules is as certain
and universal, if not as exact, as that of the heavenly bodies."[24]
Periodicity characterizes the female organization, and developes
feminine force. Persistence characterizes the male organization, and
develops masculine force. Education will draw the best out of each by
adjusting its methods to the periodicity of one and the persistence of
the other.

Before going farther, it is essential to acquire a definite notion of
what is meant, or, at least, of what we mean in this discussion, by
the term co-education. Following its etymology, _con-educare_, it
signifies to draw out together, or to unite in education; and this
union refers to the time and place, rather than to the methods and
kinds of education. In this sense any school or college may utilize
its buildings, apparatus, and instructors to give appropriate
education to the two sexes as well as to different ages of the same
sex. This is juxtaposition in education. When the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology teaches one class of young men chemistry, and
another class engineering, in the same building and at the same time,
it co-educates those two classes. In this sense it is possible that
many advantages might be obtained from the co-education of the sexes,
that would more than counterbalance the evils of crowding large
numbers of them together. This sort of co-education does not exclude
appropriate classification, nor compel the two sexes to follow the
same methods or the same regimen.

Another signification of co-education, and, as we apprehend, the one
in which it is commonly used, includes time, place, government,
methods, studies, and regimen. This is identical co-education. This
means, that boys and girls shall be taught the same things, at the
same time, in the same place, by the same faculty, with the same
methods, and under the same regimen. This admits age and proficiency,
but not sex, as a factor in classification. It is against the
co-education of the sexes, in this sense of identical co-education,
that physiology protests; and it is this identity of education, the
prominent characteristic of our American school-system, that has
produced the evils described in the clinical part of this essay, and
that threatens to push the degeneration of the female sex still
farther on. In these pages, co-education of the sexes is used in its
common acceptation of identical co-education.

Let us look for a moment at what identical co-education is. The law
has, or had, a maxim, that a man and his wife are one, and that the
one is the man. Modern American education has a maxim, that boys'
schools and girls' schools are one, and that the one is the boys'
school. Schools have been arranged, accordingly, to meet the
requirements of the masculine organization. Studies have been selected
that experience has proved to be appropriate to a boy's intellectual
development, and a regimen adopted, while pursuing them, appropriate
to his physical development. His school and college life, his methods
of study, recitations, exercises, and recreations, are ordered upon
the supposition, that, barring disease or infirmity, punctual
attendance upon the hours of recitation, and upon all other duties in
their season and order, may be required of him continuously, in spite
of ennui, inclement weather, or fatigue; that there is no week in the
month, or day in the week, or hour in the day, when it is a physical
necessity to relieve him from standing or from studying,--from
physical effort or mental labor; that the chapel-bell may safely call
him to morning prayer from New Year to Christmas, with the assurance,
that, if the going does not add to his stock of piety, it will not
diminish his stock of health; that he may be sent to the gymnasium and
the examination-hall, to the theatres of physical and intellectual
display at any time,--in short, that he develops health and strength,
blood and nerve, intellect and life, by a regular, uninterrupted, and
sustained course of work. And all this is justified both by experience
and physiology.

Obedient to the American educational maxim, that boys' schools and
girls' schools are one, and that the one is the boys' school, the
female schools have copied the methods which have grown out of the
requirements of the male organization. Schools for girls have been
modelled after schools for boys. Were it not for differences of dress
and figure, it would be impossible, even for an expert, after visiting
a high school for boys and one for girls, to tell which was arranged
for the male and which for the female organization. Our girls'
schools, whether public or private, have imposed upon their pupils a
boy's regimen; and it is now proposed, in some quarters, to carry this
principle still farther, by burdening girls, after they leave school,
with a quadrennium of masculine college regimen. And so girls are to
learn the alphabet in college, as they have learned it in the
grammar-school, just as boys do. This is grounded upon the supposition
that sustained regularity of action and attendance may be as safely
required of a girl as of a boy; that there is no physical necessity
for periodically relieving her from walking, standing, reciting, or
studying; that the chapel-bell may call her, as well as him, to a
daily morning walk, with a standing prayer at the end of it,
regardless of the danger that such exercises, by deranging the tides
of her organization, may add to her piety at the expense of her
blood; that she may work her brain over mathematics, botany,
chemistry, German, and the like, with equal and sustained force on
every day of the month, and so safely divert blood from the
reproductive apparatus to the head; in short, that she, like her
brother, develops health and strength, blood and nerve, intellect and
life, by a regular, uninterrupted, and sustained course of work. All
this is not justified, either by experience or physiology. The
gardener may plant, if he choose, the lily and the rose, the oak and
the vine, within the same enclosure; let the same soil nourish them,
the same air visit them, and the same sunshine warm and cheer them;
still, he trains each of them with a separate art, warding from each
its peculiar dangers, developing within each its peculiar powers, and
teaching each to put forth to the utmost its divine and peculiar gifts
of strength and beauty. Girls lose health, strength, blood, and nerve,
by a regimen that ignores the periodical tides and reproductive
apparatus of their organization. The mothers and instructors, the
homes and schools, of our country's daughters, would profit by
occasionally reading the old Levitical law. The race has not yet quite
outgrown the physiology of Moses.

Co-education, then, signifies in common acceptation identical
co-education. This identity of training is what many at the present
day seem to be praying for and working for. Appropriate education of
the two sexes, carried as far as possible, is a consummation most
devoutly to be desired; identical education of the two sexes is a
crime before God and humanity, that physiology protests against, and
that experience weeps over. Because the education of boys has met with
tolerable success, hitherto,--but only tolerable it must be
confessed,--in developing them into men, there are those who would
make girls grow into women by the same process. Because a gardener has
nursed an acorn till it grew into an oak, they would have him cradle a
grape in the same soil and way, and make it a vine. Identical
education, or identical co-education, of the sexes defrauds one sex or
the other, or perhaps both. It defies the Roman maxim, which
physiology has fully justified, _mens sana in corpore sano_. The
sustained regimen, regular recitation, erect posture, daily walk,
persistent exercise, and unintermitted labor that toughens a boy, and
makes a man of him, can only be partially applied to a girl. The
regimen of intermittance, periodicity of exercise and rest, work
three-fourths of each month, and remission, if not abstinence, the
other fourth, physiological interchange of the erect and reclining
posture, care of the reproductive system that is the cradle of the
race, all this, that toughens a girl and makes a woman of her, will
emasculate a lad. A combination of the two methods of education, a
compromise between them, would probably yield an average result,
excluding the best of both. It would give a fair chance neither to a
boy nor a girl. Of all compromises, such a physiological one is the
worst. It cultivates mediocrity, and cheats the future of its
rightful legacy of lofty manhood and womanhood. It emasculates boys,
stunts girls; makes semi-eunuchs of one sex, and agenes of the other.

The error which has led to the identical education of the two sexes,
and which prophecies their identical co-education in colleges and
universities, is not confined to technical education. It permeates
society. It is found in the home, the workshop, the factory, and in
all the ramifications of social life. The identity of boys and girls,
of men and women, is practically asserted out of the school as much as
in it, and it is theoretically proclaimed from the pulpit and the
rostrum. Woman seems to be looking up to man and his development, as
the goal and ideal of womanhood. The new gospel of female development
glorifies what she possesses in common with him, and tramples under
her feet, as a source of weakness and badge of inferiority, the
mechanism and functions peculiar to herself. In consequence of this
wide-spread error, largely the result of physiological ignorance,
girls are almost universally trained in masculine methods of living
and working as well as of studying. The notion is practically found
everywhere, that boys and girls are one, and that the boys make the
one. Girls, young ladies, to use the polite phrase, who are about
leaving or have left school for society, dissipation, or self-culture,
rarely permit any of Nature's periodical demands to interfere with
their morning calls, or evening promenades, or midnight dancing, or
sober study. Even the home draws the sacred mantle of modesty so
closely over the reproductive function as not only to cover but to
smother it. Sisters imitate brothers in persistent work at all times.
Female clerks in stores strive to emulate the males by unremitting
labor, seeking to develop feminine force by masculine methods. Female
operatives of all sorts, in factories and elsewhere, labor in the same
way; and, when the day is done, are as likely to dance half the night,
regardless of any pressure upon them of a peculiar function, as their
fashionable sisters in the polite world. All unite in pushing the
hateful thing out of sight and out of mind; and all are punished by
similar weakness, degeneration, and disease.

There are two reasons why female operatives of all sorts are likely to
suffer less, and actually do suffer less, from such persistent work,
than female students; why Jane in the factory can work more steadily
with the loom, than Jane in college with the dictionary; why the girl
who makes the bed can safely work more steadily the whole year
through, than her little mistress of sixteen who goes to school. The
first reason is, that the female operative, of whatever sort, has, as
a rule, passed through the first critical epoch of woman's life: she
has got fairly by it. In her case, as a rule, unfortunately there are
too many exceptions to it, the catamenia have been established; the
function is in good running order; the reproductive apparatus--the
engine within an engine--has been constructed, and she will not be
called upon to furnish force for building it again. The female
student, on the contrary, has got these tasks before her, and must
perform them while getting her education; for the period of female
sexual development coincides with the educational period. The same
five years of life must be given to both tasks. After the function is
normally established, and the apparatus made, woman can labor mentally
or physically, or both, with very much greater persistence and
intensity, than during the age of development. She still retains the
type of periodicity; and her best work, both as to quality and amount,
is accomplished when the order of her labor partakes of the rhythmic
order of her constitution. Still the fact remains, that she can do
more than before; her fibre has acquired toughness; the system is
consolidated; its fountains are less easily stirred. It should be
mentioned in this connection, what has been previously adverted to,
that the toughness and power of after life are largely in proportion
to the normality of sexual development. If there is error then, the
organization never fully recovers. This is an additional motive for a
strict physiological regimen during a girl's student life, and, just
so far, an argument against the identical co-education of the sexes.
The second reason why female operatives are less likely to suffer, and
actually do suffer less, than school-girls, from persistent work
straight through the year, is because the former work their brains
less. To use the language of Herbert Spencer, "That antagonism between
body and brain which we see in those, who, pushing brain-activity to
an extreme, enfeeble their bodies,"[25] does not often exist in female
operatives, any more than in male. On the contrary, they belong to the
class of those who, in the words of the same author, by "pushing
bodily activity to an extreme, make their brains inert."[26] Hence
they have stronger bodies, a reproductive apparatus more normally
constructed, and a catamenial function less readily disturbed by
effort, than their student sisters, who are not only younger than
they, but are trained to push "brain-activity to an extreme." Give
girls a fair chance for physical development at school, and they will
be able in after life, with reasonable care of themselves, to answer
the demands that may be made upon them.

The identical education of the sexes has borne the fruit which we have
pointed out. Their identical co-education will intensify the evils of
separate identical education; for it will introduce the element of
emulation, and it will introduce this element in its strongest form.
It is easy to frame a theoretical emulation, in which results only are
compared and tested, that would be healthy and invigorating; but such
theoretical competition of the sexes is not at all the sort of steady,
untiring, day-after-day competition that identical co-education
implies. It is one thing to put up a goal a long way off,--five or six
months or three or four years distant,--and tell boys and girls, each
in their own way, to strive for it, and quite a different thing to
put up the same goal, at the same distance, and oblige each sex to run
their race for it side by side on the same road, in daily competition
with each other, and with equal expenditure of force at all times.
Identical co-education is racing in the latter way. The inevitable
results of it have been shown in some of the cases we have narrated.
The trial of it on a larger scale would only yield a larger number of
similar degenerations, weaknesses, and sacrifices of noble lives. Put
a boy and girl together upon the same course of study, with the same
lofty ideal before them, and hold up to their eyes the daily
incitements of comparative progress, and there will be awakened within
them a stimulus unknown before, and that separate study does not
excite. The unconscious fires that have their seat deep down in the
recesses of the sexual organization will flame up through every
tissue, permeate every vessel, burn every nerve, flash from the eye,
tingle in the brain, and work the whole machine at highest pressure.
There need not be, and generally will not be, any low or sensual
desire in all this elemental action. It is only making youth work over
the tasks of sober study with the wasting force of intense passion. Of
course such strenuous labor will yield brilliant, though temporary,
results. The fire is kept alive by the waste of the system, and soon
burns up its source. The first sex to suffer in this exhilarating and
costly competition must be, as experience shows it is, the one that
has the largest amount of force in readiness for immediate call; and
this is the female sex. At the age of development, Nature mobilizes
the forces of a girl's organization for the purpose of establishing a
function that shall endure for a generation, and for constructing an
apparatus that shall cradle and nurse a race. These mobilized forces,
which, at the technical educational period, the girl possesses and
controls largely in excess of the boy, under the passionate stimulus
of identical co-education, are turned from their divinely-appointed
field of operations, to the region of brain activity. The result is a
most brilliant show of cerebral pyrotechnics, and degenerations that
we have described.

That undue and disproportionate brain activity exerts a sterilizing
influence upon both sexes is alike a doctrine of physiology, and an
induction from experience. And both physiology and experience also
teach that this influence is more potent upon the female than upon the
male. The explanation of the latter fact--of the greater aptitude of
the female organization to become thus modified by excessive brain
activity--is probably to be found in the larger size, more complicated
relations, and more important functions, of the female reproductive
apparatus. This delicate and complex mechanism is liable to be aborted
or deranged by the withdrawal of force that is needed for its
construction and maintenance. It is, perhaps, idle to speculate upon
the prospective evil that would accrue to the human race, should such
an organic modification, introduced by abnormal education, be pushed
to its ultimate limit. But inasmuch as the subject is not only
germain to our inquiry, but has attracted the attention of a recent
writer, whose bold and philosophic speculations, clothed in forcible
language, have startled the best thought of the age, it may be well to
quote him briefly on this point. Referring to the fact, that, in our
modern civilization, the cultivated classes have smaller families than
the uncultivated ones, he says, "If the superior sections and
specimens of humanity are to lose, relatively, their procreative power
in virtue of, and in proportion to, that superiority, how is culture
or progress to be propagated so as to benefit the species as a whole,
and how are those gradually amended organizations from which we hope
so much to be secured? If, indeed, it were ignorance, stupidity, and
destitution, instead of mental and moral development, that were the
_sterilizing_ influences, then the improvement of the race would go on
swimmingly, and in an ever-accelerating ratio. But since the
conditions are exactly reversed, how should not an exactly opposite
direction be pursued? How should the race _not_ deteriorate, when
those who morally and physically are fitted to perpetuate it are
(relatively), by a law of physiology, those least likely to do
so?"[27] The answer to Mr. Greg's inquiry is obvious. If the culture
of the race moves on into the future in the same rut and by the same
methods that limit and direct it now; if the education of the sexes
remains identical, instead of being appropriate and special; and
especially if the intense and passionate stimulus of the identical
co-education of the sexes is added to their identical education,--then
the sterilizing influence of such a training, acting with tenfold more
force upon the female than upon the male, will go on, and the race
will be propagated from its inferior classes.[28] The stream of life
that is to flow into the future will be Celtic rather than American:
it will come from the collieries, and not from the peerage.
Fortunately, the reverse of this picture is equally possible. The race
holds its destinies in its own hands. The highest wisdom will secure
the survival and propagation of the fittest. Physiology teaches that
this result, the attainment of which our hopes prophecy, is to be
secured, not by an identical education, or an identical co-education
of the sexes, but by _a special and appropriate education, that shall
produce a just and harmonious development of every part_.

Let one remark be made here. It has been asserted that the chief
reason why the higher and educated classes have smaller families than
the lower and uneducated is, that the former criminally prevent or
destroy increase. The pulpit,[29] as well as the medical press, has
cried out against this enormity. That a disposition to do this thing
exists, and is often carried into effect, is not to be denied, and
cannot be too strongly condemned. On the other hand, it should be
proclaimed, to the credit and honor of our cultivated women, and as a
reproach to the identical education of the sexes, that many of them
bear in silence the accusation of self-tampering, who are denied the
oft-prayed-for trial, blessing, and responsibility of offspring. As a
matter of personal experience, my advice has been much more frequently
and earnestly sought by those of our best classes who desired to know
how to obtain, than by those who wished to escape, the offices of

The experiment of the identical co-education of the sexes has been set
on foot by some of our Western colleges. It has not yet been tried
long enough to show much more than its first fruits, viz., its results
while the students are in college; and of these the only obvious ones
are increased emulation, and intellectual development and attainments.
The defects of the reproductive mechanism, and the friction of its
action, are not exhibited there; nor is there time or opportunity in
college for the evils which these defects entail to be exhibited.
President Magoun of Iowa College tells us, that, in the institution
over which he presides, "Forty-two young men and fifty-three young
ladies have pursued college courses;" and adds, "Nothing needs to be
said as to the control of the two sexes in the college. The young
ladies are placed under the supervision of a lady principal and
assistant as to deportment, and every thing besides recitations (in
which they are under the supervision of the same professors and other
teachers with the young men, reciting with them); and one simple rule
as to social intercourse governs every thing. The moral and religious
influences attending the arrangement have been most happy."[30] From
this it is evident that Iowa College is trying the identical
co-education of the sexes; and the president reports the happy moral
and religious results of the experiment, but leaves us ignorant of its
physiological results. It may never have occurred to him, that a class
of a hundred young ladies might graduate from Iowa College or Antioch
College or Michigan University, whose average health during their
college course had appeared to the president and faculty as good as
that of their male classmates who had made equal intellectual progress
with them, upon whom no scandal had dropped its venom, who might be
presented to the public on Commencement Day as specimens of as good
health as their uneducated sisters, with roses in their cheeks as
natural as those in their hands, the major part of whom might,
notwithstanding all this, have physical defects that a physiologist
could easily discover, and that would produce, sooner or later, more
or less of the sad results we have previously described. A
philanthropist and an intelligent observer, who has for a long time
taken an active part in promoting the best education of the sexes, and
who still holds some sort of official connection with a college
occupied with identical co-education, told the writer a few months
ago, that he had endeavored to trace the post-college history of the
female graduates of the institution he was interested in. His object
was to ascertain how their physique behaved under the stress,--the
wear and tear of woman's work in life. The conclusion that resulted
from his inquiry he formulated in the statement, that "the
co-education of the sexes is intellectually a success, physically a
failure." Another gentleman, more closely connected with a similar
institution of education than the person just referred to, has arrived
at a similar conclusion. Only a few female graduates of colleges have
consulted the writer professionally. All sought his advice two, three,
or more years after graduation; and, in all, the difficulties under
which they labored could be distinctly traced to their college order
of life and study, that is, to identical co-education. If physicians
who are living in the neighborhood of the present residences of these
graduates have been consulted by them in the same proportion with him,
the inference is inevitable, that the ratio of invalidism among female
college graduates is greater than even among the graduates of our
common, high, and normal schools. All such observations as these,
however, are only of value, at present, as indications of the drift of
identical co-education, not as proofs of its physical fruits, or of
their influence on mental force. Two or three generations, at least,
of the female college graduates of this sort of co-education must come
and go before any sufficient idea can be formed of the harvest it will
yield. The physiologist dreads to see the costly experiment tried. The
urgent reformer, who cares less for human suffering and human life
than for the trial of his theories, will regard the experiment with
equanimity if not with complacency.

If, then, the identical co-education of the sexes is condemned both by
physiology and experience, may it not be that their _special and
appropriate co-education_ would yield a better result than their
special and appropriate _separate_ education? This is a most important
question, and one difficult to resolve. The discussion of it must be
referred to those who are engaged in the practical work of
instruction, and the decision will rest with experience. Physiology
advocates, as we have seen, the special and appropriate education of
the sexes, and has only a single word to utter with regard to simple
co-education, or juxtaposition in education.

That word is with regard to the common belief in the danger of
improprieties and scandal as a part of co-education. There is some
danger in this respect; but not a serious or unavoidable one.
Doubtless there would be occasional lapses in a double-sexed college;
and so there are outside of schoolhouses and seminaries of learning.
Even the church and the clergy are not exempt from reproach in such
things. There are sects, professing to commingle religion and love,
who illustrate the dangers of juxtaposition even in things holy. "No
physiologist can well doubt that the holy kiss of love in such cases
owes all its warmth to the sexual feeling which consciously or
unconsciously inspires it, or that the mystical union of the sexes
lies very close to a union that is nowise mystical, when it does not
lead to madness."[31] There is less, or certainly no more danger in
having the sexes unite at the repasts of knowledge, than, as Plautus
bluntly puts it, having he wits and she wits recline at the repasts of
fashion. Isolation is more likely to breed pruriency than commingling
to provoke indulgence. The virtue of the cloister and the cell
scarcely deserves the name. A girl has her honor in her own keeping.
If she can be trusted with boys and men at the lecture-room and in
church, she can be trusted with them at school and in college. Jean
Paul says, "To insure modesty, I would advise the education of the
sexes together; for two boys will preserve twelve girls, or two girls
twelve boys, innocent amidst winks, jokes, and improprieties, merely
by that instinctive sense which is the forerunner of matured modesty.
But I will guarantee nothing in a school where girls are alone
together, and still less when boys are." A certain amount of
juxta-position is an advantage to each sex. More than a certain amount
is an evil to both. Instinct and common sense can be safely left to
draw the line of demarcation. At the same time it is well to remember
that juxtaposition may be carried too far. Temptations enough beset
the young, without adding to them. Let learning and purity go hand in

There are two considerations appertaining to this subject, which,
although they do not belong to the physiology of the matter, deserve
to be mentioned in this connection. One amounts to a practical
prohibition, for the present at least, of the experiment of the
special and appropriate co-education of the sexes; and the other is an
inherent difficulty in the experiment itself. The former can be
removed whenever those who heartily believe in the success of the
experiment choose to get rid of it; and the latter by patient and
intelligent effort.

The present practical prohibition of the experiment is the poverty of
our colleges. Identical co-education can be easily tried with the
existing organization of collegiate instruction. This has been tried,
and is still going on in separate and double-sexed schools of all
sorts, and has failed. Special and appropriate co-education requires
in many ways, not in all, re-arrangement of the organization of
instruction; and this will cost money and a good deal of it. Harvard
College, for example, rich as it is supposed to be, whose banner, to
use Mr. Higginson's illustration, is the red flag that the bulls of
female reform are just now pitching into,--Harvard College could not
undertake the task of special and appropriate co-education, in such a
way as to give the two sexes a fair chance, which means the _best_
chance, and the only chance it ought to give or will ever give,
without an endowment, additional to its present resources, of from one
to two millions of dollars; and it probably would require the larger
rather than the smaller sum. And this I say advisedly. By which I
mean, not with the advice and consent of the president and fellows of
the college, but as an opinion founded on nearly twenty years'
personal acquaintance, as an instructor in one of the departments of
the university, with the organization of instruction in it, and upon
the demands which physiology teaches the special and appropriate
education of girls would make upon it. To make boys half-girls, and
girls half-boys, can never be the legitimate function of any college.
But such a result, the natural child of identical co-education, is
sure to follow the training of a college that has not the pecuniary
means to prevent it. This obstacle is of course a removable one. It
is only necessary for those who wish to get it out of the way to put
their hands in their pockets, and produce a couple of millions. The
offer of such a sum, conditioned upon the liberal education of women,
might influence even a body as soulless as the corporation of Harvard
College is sometimes represented to be.

The inherent difficulty in the experiment of special and appropriate
co-education is the difficulty of adjusting, in the same institution,
the methods of instruction to the physiological needs of each sex; to
the persistent type of one, and the periodical type of the other; to
the demand for a margin in metamorphosis of tissue, beyond what study
causes, for general growth in one sex, and to a larger margin in the
other sex, that shall permit not only general growth, but also the
construction of the reproductive apparatus. This difficulty can only
be removed by patient and intelligent effort. The first step in the
direction of removing it is to see plainly what errors or dangers lie
in the way. These, or some of them, we have endeavored to point out.
"Nothing is so conducive to a right appreciation of the truth as a
right appreciation of the error by which it is surrounded."[32] When
we have acquired a belief of the facts concerning the identical
education, the identical co-education, the appropriate education, and
the appropriate co-education of the sexes, we shall be in a condition
to draw just conclusions from them.

The intimate connection of mind and brain, the correlation of mental
power and cerebral metamorphosis, explains and justifies the
physiologist's demand, that in the education of girls, as well as of
boys, the machinery and methods of instruction shall be carefully
adjusted to their organization. If it were possible, they should be
adjusted to the organization of each individual. None doubt the
importance of age, acquirement, idiosyncrasy, and probable career in
life, as factors in classification. Sex goes deeper than any or all of
these. To neglect this is to neglect the chief factor of the problem.
Rightly interpreted and followed, it will yield the grandest results.
Disregarded, it will balk the best methods of teaching and the genius
of the best teachers. Sex is not concerned with studies as such.
These, for any thing that appears to the contrary physiologically, may
be the same for the intellectual development of females as of males;
but, as we have seen, it is largely concerned about an appropriate way
of pursuing them. Girls will have a fair chance, and women the largest
freedom and greatest power, now that legal hinderances are removed,
and all bars let down, when they are taught to develop and are willing
to respect their own organization. How to bring about this development
and insure this respect, in a double-sexed college, is one of the
problems of co-education.

It does not come within the scope of this essay to speculate upon the
ways--the regimen, methods of instruction, and other details of
college life,--by which the inherent difficulties of co-education may
be obviated. Here tentative and judicious experiment is better than
speculation. It would seem to be the part of wisdom, however, to make
the simplest and least costly experiment first; that is, to discard
the identical separate education of girls as boys, and to ascertain
what their appropriate separate education is, and what it will
accomplish. Aided by the light of such an experiment, it would be
comparatively easy to solve the more difficult problem of the
appropriate co-education of the sexes.

It may be well to mention two or three details, which are so important
that no system of _appropriate_ female education, separate or mixed,
can neglect them. They have been implied throughout the whole of the
present discussion, but not distinctly enunciated. One is, that during
the period of rapid development, that is, from fourteen to
eighteen,[33] a girl should not study as many hours a day as a boy.
"In most of our schools," says a distinguished physiological authority
previously quoted, "the hours are too many for both boys and girls.
From a quarter of nine or nine, until half-past two, is with us
(Philadelphia schools for girls) the common schooltime in private
seminaries. The usual recess is twenty minutes or half an hour, and it
is not filled by enforced exercise. In certain schools,--would it were
the rule,--ten minutes' recess is given after every hour. To these
hours, we must add the time spent in study out of school. This, for
some reason, nearly always exceeds the time stated by teachers to be
necessary; and most girls between the age of thirteen and seventeen
thus expend two or three hours. Does any physician believe that it is
good for a growing girl to be so occupied seven or eight hours a day?
or that it is right for her to use her brains as long a time as the
mechanic employs his muscles? But this is only a part of the evil. The
multiplicity of studies, the number of teachers,--each eager to get
the most he can out of his pupil,--the severer drill of our day, and
the greater intensity of application demanded, produce effects on the
growing brain, which, in a vast number of cases, can be only
disastrous. Even in girls of from fourteen to eighteen, such as crowd
the normal school in Philadelphia, this sort of tension and this
variety of study occasion an amount of ill-health which is sadly
familiar to many physicians."[34]

Experience teaches that a healthy and growing boy may spend six hours
of force daily upon his studies, and leave sufficient margin for
physical growth. A girl cannot spend more than four, or, in
occasional instances, five hours of force daily upon her studies, and
leave sufficient margin for the general physical growth that she must
make in common with a boy, and also for constructing a reproductive
apparatus. If she puts as much force into her brain education as a
boy, the brain or the special apparatus will suffer. Appropriate
education and appropriate co-education must adjust their methods and
regimen to this law.

Another detail is, that, during every fourth week, there should be a
remission, and sometimes an intermission, of both study and exercise.
Some individuals require, at that time, a complete intermission from
mental and physical effort for a single day; others for two or three
days; others require only a remission, and can do half work safely for
two or three days, and their usual work after that. The diminished
labor, which shall give Nature an opportunity to accomplish her
special periodical task and growth, is a physiological necessity for
all, however robust they may seem to be. The apportionment of study
and exercise to individual needs cannot be decided by general rules,
nor can the decision of it be safely left to the pupil's caprice or
ambition. Each case must be decided upon its own merits. The
organization of studies and instruction must be flexible enough to
admit of the periodical and temporary absence of each pupil, without
loss of rank, or necessity of making up work, from recitation, and
exercise of all sorts. The periodical type of woman's way of work must
be harmonized with the persistent type of man's way of work in any
successful plan of co-education.

The keen eye and rapid hand of gain, of what Jouffroy calls
self-interest well understood, is sometimes quicker than the brain and
will of philanthropy to discern and inaugurate reform. An illustration
of this statement, and a practical recognition of the physiological
method of woman's work, lately came under my observation. There is an
establishment in Boston, owned and carried on by a man, in which ten
or a dozen girls are constantly employed. Each of them is given and
required to take a vacation of three days every fourth week. It is
scarcely necessary to say that their sanitary condition is
exceptionally good, and that the aggregate yearly amount of work which
the owner obtains is greater than when persistent attendance and labor
was required. I have never heard of any female school, public or
private, in which any such plan has been adopted; nor is it likely
that any similar plan will be adopted so long as the community
entertain the conviction that a boy's education and a girl's education
should be the same, and that the same means the boy's. What is known
in England as the Ten-hour Act, which Mr. Mundella and Sir John
Lubbock have recently carried through Parliament, is a step in a
similar direction. It is an act providing for the special protection
of women against over-work. It does not recognize, and probably was
not intended to recognize, the periodical type of woman's
organization. It is founded on the fact, however, which law has been
so slow to acknowledge, that the male and female organization are not

This is not the place for the discussion of these details, and
therefore we will not dwell upon them. Our object is rather to show
good and imperative reason why they should be discussed by others; to
show how faulty and pregnant of ill the education of American girls
has been and is, and to demonstrate the truth, that the progress and
development of the race depend upon the appropriate, and not upon the
identical education of the sexes. Little good will be done in this
direction, however, by any advice or argument, by whatever facts
supported, or by whatever authority presented, unless the women of our
country are themselves convinced of the evils that they have been
educated into, and out of which they are determined to educate their
daughters. They must breed in them the lofty spirit Wallenstein bade
his be of:--

    "Leave now the puny wish, the girlish feeling,
    Oh, thrust it far behind thee! Give thou proof
    Thou'rt the daughter of the Mighty,--his
    Who where he moves creates the wonderful.
    Meet and disarm necessity by choice."

      SCHILLER: _The Piccolomini_, act iii. 8.
        (_Coleridge's Translation._)


[24] Body and Mind. Op. cit., p. 178.

[25] The Study of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer, chap. 13.

[26] The Study of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer, chap. 13.

[27] Enigmas of Life. Op. cit., by W.R. Greg, p. 142.

[28] It is a fact not to be lost sight of, says Dr. J.C. Toner of
Washington, that the proportion between the number of American
children under fifteen years of age, and the number of American women
between the child-bearing ages of fifteen and fifty, is declining
steadily. In 1830, there were to every 1,000 marriageable women, 1,952
children under fifteen years of age. Ten years later, there were
1,863, or 89 less children to every thousand women than in 1830. In
1850, this number had declined to 1,720; in 1860, to 1,666; and in
1870, to 1,568. The total decline in the forty years was 384, or about
20 per cent of the whole proportional number in 1830, a generation
ago. The United-States census of 1870 shows that there is, in the city
of New York, but one child under fifteen years of age, to each
thousand nubile women, when there ought to be three; and the same is
true of our other large cities.--_The Nation_, Aug. 28, 1873, p. 145.

[29] Vid. a pamphlet by the Rev. Dr. Todd.

[30] The New Englander, July, 1873. Art., Iowa College.

[31] Body and Mind. Op. cit., p. 85.

[32] Use of the Ophthalmoscope. By T.C. Allbutt. London. P. 5.

[33] Some physiologists consider that the period of growth extends to
a later age than this. Dr. Anstie fixes the limit at twenty five. He
says, "The central nervous system is more slow in reaching its fullest
development; and the brain, especially, is many years later in
acquiring its maximum of organic consistency and functional
power."--_Neuralgia, Op. cit._, by F.E. ANSTIE, p. 20.

[34] Wear and Tear. Op. cit., p. 33-4.

[35] It is a curious commentary on the present aspect of the "woman
question" to see many who honestly advocate the elevation and
enfranchisement of woman, oppose any movement or law that recognizes
Nature's fundamental distinction of sex. There are those who insist
upon the traditional fallacy that man and woman are identical, and
that the identity is confined to the man, with the energy of
infatuation. It appears from the Spectator, that Mr. and Mrs. Fawcett
strongly object to the Ten-hour Act, on the ground that it
discriminates unfairly against women as compared with men. Upon this
the Spectator justly remarks, that the true question for an objector
to the bill to consider is not one of abstract principle, but this:
"Is the restraint proposed so great as really to diminish the average
productiveness of woman's labor, or, by _increasing its efficacy_, to
maintain its level, or even improve it in spite of the hours lost?
What is the length of labor beyond which an average woman's
constitution is overtaxed and deteriorated, and within which,
therefore, the law ought to keep them in spite of their relations, and
sometimes in spite of themselves."--_Vid. Spectator_, London, June 14,



    "And let it appear that he doth not change his country manners
    for those of foreign parts, but only prick in some flowers of
    that he hath learned abroad into the customs of his own
    country."--LORD BACON.

One branch of the stream of travel that flows with steadily-increasing
volume across the Atlantic, from the western to the eastern continent,
passes from the United States, through Nova Scotia, to England. The
traveller who follows this route is struck, almost as soon as he
leaves the boundaries of the republic, with the difference between the
physique of the inhabitants he encounters and that of those he has
left behind him. The difference is most marked between the females of
the two sections. The firmer step, fuller chest, and ruddier cheek of
the Nova-Scotian girl foretell still greater differences of color,
form, and strength that England and the Continent present. These
differences impressed one who passed through Nova Scotia not long ago
very strongly. Her observations upon them are an excellent
illustration of our subject, and they deserve to be read in this
connection. Her remarks, moreover, are indirect but valuable testimony
to the evils of our sort of identical education of the sexes. "Nova
Scotia," she says, "is a country of gracious surprises."

"But most beautiful among her beauties, most wonderful among her
wonders, are her children. During two weeks' travel in the Provinces,
I have been constantly more and more impressed by their superiority in
appearance, size, and health, to the children of the New-England and
Middle States. In the outset of our journey, I was struck by it; along
all the roadsides they looked up, boys _and girls_, fair,
broad-cheeked, sturdy-legged, such as with us are seen only now and
then. I did not, however, realize at first that this was the
universal law of the land, and that it pointed to something more than
climate as a cause. But the first school that I saw, _en masse_, gave
a startling impetus to the train of observation and influence into
which I was unconsciously falling. It was a Sunday school in the
little town of Wolfville, which lies between the Gaspereau and
Cornwallis Rivers, just beyond the meadows of the Grand Pré, where
lived Gabriel Lajeunesse, and Benedict Bellefontaine, and the rest of
the 'simple Acadian farmers.' I arrived too early at one of the
village churches; and, while I was waiting for a sexton, a door
opened, and out poured the Sunday school, whose services had just
ended. On they came, dividing in the centre, and falling to the right
and left about me, thirty or forty boys and girls, between the ages of
seven and fifteen. They all had fair skins, red cheeks, and clear
eyes; they were all broad-shouldered, straight, and sturdy; the
younger ones were more than sturdy,--they were fat, from the ankles
up. But perhaps the most noticeable thing of all was the quiet,
sturdy, unharassed expression which their faces wore; a look which is
the greatest charm of a child's face, but which we rarely see in
children over two or three years old. Boys of eleven or twelve were
there, with shoulders broader than the average of our boys at sixteen,
and yet with the pure childlike look on their faces. Girls of ten or
eleven were there, who looked almost like women,--that is, like ideal
women,--simply because they looked so calm and undisturbed.... Out of
them all there was but one child who looked sickly. He had evidently
met with some accident, and was lame. Afterward, as the congregation
assembled, I watched the fathers and _mothers_ of these children.
They, too, were broad-shouldered, tall, and straight, _especially the
women_. Even old women were straight, like the negroes one sees at the
South walking with burdens on their heads.

"Five days later I saw, in Halifax, the celebration of the anniversary
of the settlement of the Province. The children of the city and of
some of the neighboring towns marched in 'Bands of Hope,' and
processions such as we see in the cities of the States on the Fourth
of July. This was just the opportunity I wanted. It was the same here
as in the country. I counted, on that day, just eleven sickly-looking
children; no more! Such brilliant cheeks, such merry eyes, such
evident strength,--it was a scene to kindle the dullest soul! There
were scores of little ones there, whose droll, fat legs would have
drawn a crowd in Central Park; and they all had that same quiet,
composed, well-balanced expression of countenance of which I spoke
before, and of which it would be hard to find an instance in all
Central Park.

"Climate, undoubtedly, has something to do with this. The air is
moist; and the mercury rarely rises above 80°, or falls below 10°.
Also the comparative quiet of their lives helps to make them so
beautiful and strong. But the most significant fact to my mind is,
that, until the past year, there have been in Nova Scotia no public
schools, comparatively few private ones; and in these there is no
severe pressure brought to bear on the pupils.... I must not be
understood to argue from the health of the children of Nova Scotia, as
contrasted with the lack of health among our children, that it is best
to have no public schools; only that it is better to have no public
schools than to have such public schools as are now killing off our
children.... In Massachusetts, the mortality from diseases of the
brain and nervous system is eleven per cent. In Nova Scotia it is only
eight per cent."[36]

It would be interesting and instructive to ascertain, if we could, the
regimen of female education in Europe. The acknowledged and
unmistakable differences between American and European girls and
women--the delicate bloom, unnatural weakness, and premature decay of
the former, contrasted with the bronzed complexion, developed form,
and enduring force of the latter--are not adequately explained by
climate. Given sufficient time, difference of climate will produce
immense differences of form, color, and force in the same species of
animals and men. But a century does not afford a period long enough
for the production of great changes. That length of time could not
transform the sturdy German fraulein and robust English damsel into
the fragile American miss. Everybody recognizes and laments the change
that has been and is going on. "The race of strong, hardy, cheerful
girls, that used to grow up in country places, and made the bright,
neat, New-England kitchens of olden times,--the girls that could wash,
iron, brew, bake, harness a horse and drive him, no less than braid
straw, embroider, draw, paint, and read innumerable books,--this race
of women, pride of olden time, is daily lessening; and, in their
stead, come the fragile, easy-fatigued, languid girls of a modern age,
drilled in book-learning, ignorant of common things."[37] No similar
change has been wrought, during the past century, upon the mass of
females in Europe. There--

    "Nature keeps the reverent frame
    With which her years began."

If we could ascertain the regimen of European female education, so as
to compare it fairly with the American plan of the identical education
of the sexes, it is not impossible that the comparison might teach us
how it is, that conservation of female force makes a part of
trans-Atlantic, and deterioration of the same force a part of
cis-Atlantic civilization. It is probable such an inquiry would show
that the disregard of the female organization, which is a palpable and
pervading principle of American education, either does not exist at
all in Europe, or exists only in a limited degree.

With the hope of obtaining information upon this point, the writer
addressed inquiries to various individuals, who would be likely to
have the desired knowledge. Only a few answers to his inquiries have
been received up to the present writing; more are promised by and by.
The subject is a delicate and difficult one to investigate. The
reports of committees and examining boards, of ministers of
instruction, and other officials, throw little or no light upon it.
The matter belongs so much to the domestic economy of the household
and school, that it is not easy to learn much that is definite about
it except by personal inspection and inquiry. The little information
that has been received, however, is important. It indicates, if it
does not demonstrate, an essential difference between the regimen or
organization, using these terms in their broadest sense, of female
education in America and in Europe.

Dr. H. Hagen, an eminent physician and naturalist of Königsburg,
Prussia, now connected with the Museum of Comparative Zoology at
Cambridge, writes from Germany, where he has been lately, in reply to
these inquiries, as follows:--

    NUREMBERG, July 23, 1873.

    DEAR SIR,--The information, given by two prominent physicians
    in Berlin, in answer to the questions in your letter, is
    mostly of a negative character. I believe them to prove that
    generally girls here are doing very well as to the catamenial

    First, most of the girls in North Germany begin this function
    in the fifteenth year, or even later; of course some few
    sooner, even in the twelfth year or before; but the rule is
    after the fifteenth year. Now, nearly all leave the school in
    the fifteenth year, and then follow some lectures given at
    home at leisure. The school-girls are of course rarely
    troubled by the periodical function.

    There is an established kind of tradition giving the rule for
    the regimen during the catamenial period: this regimen goes
    from mother to daughter, and the advice of physicians is
    seldom asked for with regard to it. As a rule, the greatest
    care is taken to avoid any cold or exposure at this time. If
    the girls are still school-girls, they go to school, study and
    write as at other times, _provided the function is normally

    School-girls never ride in Germany, nor are they invited to
    parties or to dancing-parties. All this comes after the
    school. And even then care is taken to _stay at home when the
    periodical function is present_.

    Concerning the health of the German girls, as compared with
    American girls, the German physicians have not sufficient
    information to warrant any statement. But the health of the
    German girls is commonly good except in the higher classes in
    the great capitals, where the same obnoxious agencies are to
    be found in Germany as in the whole world. But here also there
    is a very strong exception, or, better, a difference between
    America and Germany, as German girls are never accustomed to
    the free manners and modes of life of American girls. As a
    rule, in Germany, the mother directs the manner of living of
    the daughter entirely.

    I shall have more and better information some time later.

           H. HAGEN.

A German lady, who was educated in the schools of Dantzic, Prussia,
afforded information, which, as far as it went, confirmed the above.
Three customs, or habits, which exert a great influence upon the
health and development of girls, appear from Dr. Hagen's letter to
make a part of the German female educational regimen. The first is,
that girls leave school at about the age of fifteen or sixteen, that
is, as soon as the epoch of rapid sexual development arrives. It
appears, moreover, that during this epoch, or the greater part of it,
a German girl's education is carried on at home, by means of lectures
or private arrangements. These, of course, are not as inflexible as
the rigid rules of a technical school, and admit of easy adjustment to
the periodical demands of the female constitution. The second is the
traditional motherly supervision and careful regimen of the catamenial
week. Evidently the notion that a boy's education and a girl's
education should be the same, and that the same means the boy's, has
not yet penetrated the German mind. This has not yet evolved the idea
of the identical education of the sexes. It appears that in Germany,
schools, studies, parties, walks, rides, dances, and the like, are not
allowed to displace or derange the demands of Nature. The female
organization is respected. The third custom is, that German
school-girls are not invited to parties at all. "All this comes after
the school," says Dr. Hagen. The brain is not worked by day in the
labor of study, and tried by night with the excitement of the ball.
Pleasant recreation for children of both sexes, and abundance of it,
is provided for them, all over Germany,--is regarded as necessity for
them,--is made a part of their daily life; but then it is open-air,
oxygen-surrounding, blood-making, health-giving, innocent recreation;
not gas, furnaces, low necks, spinal trails, the civilized
representatives of caudal appendages, and late hours.

Desirous of obtaining, if possible, a more exact notion than even a
physician could give of the German, traditional method of managing
the catamenial function for the first few years after its appearance,
I made inquiries of a German lady, now a mother, whose family name
holds an honored place, both in German diplomacy and science, and who
has enjoyed corresponding opportunities for an experimental
acquaintance with the German regimen of female education. The
following is her reply. For obvious reasons, the name of the writer is
not given. She has been much in this country as well as in Germany; a
fact that explains the knowledge of American customs that her letter

    MY DEAR DOCTOR,--I have great pleasure in answering your
    inquiries in regard to the course, which, to my knowledge,
    German mothers adopt with their daughters at the catamenial
    period. As soon as a girl attains maturity in this respect,
    which is seldom before the age of sixteen, she is ordered to
    observe complete rest; not only rest of the body, but rest of
    the mind. Many mothers oblige their daughters to remain in
    bed for three days, if they are at all delicate in health; but
    even those who are physically very strong are obliged to
    abstain from study, to remain in their rooms for three days,
    and keep perfectly quiet. During the whole of each period,
    they are not allowed to run, walk much, ride, skate, or dance.
    In fact, entire repose is strictly enforced in every
    well-regulated household and school. A German girl would
    consider the idea of going to a party at such times as simply
    preposterous; and the difference that exists in this respect
    in America is wholly unintelligible to them.

    As a general rule, a married woman in Germany, even after she
    has had many children, is as strong and healthy, if not more
    so, than when she was a girl. In America, with a few
    exceptions, it appears to be the reverse; and, I have no
    doubt, it is owing to the want of care on the part of girls at
    this particular time, and to the neglect of their mothers to
    enforce proper rules in this most important matter.

    It has seemed to me, often, that the difference in the
    education of girls in America and in Germany, as regards their
    physical training, is, that in America it is marked by a great
    degree of recklessness; while in Germany, the erring, if it
    can be called erring, is on the side of anxious, extreme
    caution. Therefore beautiful American girls fade rapidly;
    while the German girls, who do not possess the same natural
    advantages, do possess, as a rule, good, permanent health,
    which goes hand-in-hand with happiness and enjoyment of life.

      Believe me,
            Very truly yours,
                  ---- ----.

JUNE 21, 1873.

This letter confirms the statement of Dr. Hagen, and shows that the
educational and social regimen of a German school-girl is widely
different from that of her American sister. Perhaps, as is intimated
above, the German way, which is probably the European way also, may
err on the side of too great confinement and caution; and that a
medium between that and the recklessness of the American way would
yield a better result than either one of them.

German peasant girls and women work in the field and shop with and
like men. None who have seen their stout and brawny arms can doubt the
force with which they wield the hoe and axe. I once saw, in the
streets of Coblentz, a woman and a donkey yoked to the same cart,
while a man, with a whip in his hand, drove the team. The bystanders
did not seem to look upon the moving group as if it were an unusual
spectacle. The donkey appeared to be the most intelligent and refined
of the three. The sight symbolized the physical force and infamous
degradation of the lower classes of women in Europe. The urgent
problem of modern civilization is how to retain this force, and get
rid of the degradation. Physiology declares that the solution of it
will only be possible when the education of girls is made appropriate
to their organization. A German girl, yoked with a donkey and dragging
a cart, is an exhibition of monstrous muscular and aborted brain
development. An American girl, yoked with a dictionary, and laboring
with the catamenia, is an exhibition of monstrous brain and aborted
ovarian development.

The investigations incident to the preparation of this monograph have
suggested a number of subjects kindred to the one of which it treats,
that ought to be discussed from the physiological standpoint in the
interest of sound education. Some, and perhaps the most important, of
them are the relation of the male organization, so far as it is
different from the female, to the labor of education and of life; the
comparative influence of crowding studies, that is of excessive brain
activity, upon the cerebral metamorphosis of the two sexes; the
influence of study, or brain activity, upon sleep, and through sleep,
or the want of it, upon nutrition and development; and, most important
of all, the true relation of education to the just and harmonious
development of every part, both of the male and female organization,
in which the rightful control of the cerebral ganglia over the whole
system and all its functions shall be assured in each sex, and thus
each be enabled to obtain the largest possible amount of intellectual
and spiritual power. The discussion of these subjects at the present
time would largely exceed the natural limits of this essay. They can
only be suggested now, with the hope that other and abler observers
may be induced to examine and discuss them.

In conclusion, let us remember that physiology confirms the hope of
the race by asserting that the loftiest heights of intellectual and
spiritual vision and force are free to each sex, and accessible by
each; but adds that each must climb in its own way, and accept its own
limitations, and, when this is done, promises that each will find the
doing of it, not to weaken or diminish, but to develop power.
Physiology condemns the identical, and pleads for the appropriate
education of the sexes, so that boys may become men, and girls women,
and both have a fair chance to do and become their best.


[36] Bits of Talk. By H.H. Pp. 71-75.

[37] House and Home Papers. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. P. 205.

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