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Title: Facts And Fictions Of Life
Author: Gardener, Helen H. (Helen Hamilton), 1853-1925
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By Helen Hamilton Gardener

Third Edition

            "But something may be done, that we will not:
            And sometimes we are devils to ourselves,
            When we will tempt the frailty of our powers,
            Presuming on their changeful potency."


BOSTON Arena Publishing Company Copley Square


Copyright 1893


There are at least two sides to every question. Usually there are
several times two sides; or at least there are several phases in which
the question has a different aspect.

I am led to state these seemingly unnecessary truisms because I have
been confronted by hearers or readers who assumed, since I had presented
a certain phase or manifestation of heredity in a given article
or lecture, that I was intending to argue that a fixed rule of
transmission would necessarily follow the line I had then and there

Nothing could be farther from my idea of the workings of the law of

Nothing could be more absurdly inadequate to the solution and
comprehension of a great basic principle.

Again; an auditor or critic remarks that "We must not forget that we,
also, get our heredity from God;" which is much as if one were to say,
in teaching the multiplication table, "Remember that three times three
is nine except, only, the times when God makes it fifteen." So absolute
a misconception of the very meaning of the word heredity could hardly be
illustrated in any other way as in the idea of "getting it from God."

Scientific terms and facts of this nature cannot be confounded with
metaphysical and religious speculation without hopeless confusion as
to ideas, and absolute worthlessness as to the results of the

The very foundation principle of Evolution, itself, depends upon the
persistence of the laws of hereditary traits, habits and conditions,
modified and diversified by environment and by the introduction of other
hereditary strains from other lines of ancestry.

Of course, there are people who do not believe that Evolution evolves
with any greater degree of regularity and persistence than is consistent
with the idea of a Deity who is liable to change his plans to meet the
prayers or plaints of aspiration or repentance of those who chance to
beg or demand of him certain immunities from the workings of the laws of
nature. But with this type of mentality--with this grade of intellectual
grasp--it were fruitless to pause to argue. They must be left to an
education and an evolution of a less emotional and imaginative cast
before they will be able to take part intelligently in a scientific
discussion even where the merest alphabet of the science is touched, as
is the case in these essays. They must learn a method of thought which
keeps inside of what is, or can be, known and demonstrated, and cease
to vitiate the very basic premises by injecting into them what is merely
hoped or prayed for. The two phases of thought are quite distinct and
totally dissimilar in method.

The essays here collected, which do not deal directly with heredity
and its possibilities, have been included in the book because of the
repeated calls for them upon the different magazines in which they
appeared and because they are rightly classed among the facts and
fictions of life with which we wish here to deal.

That most of them touch chiefly the dark side of the topics discussed
is due to the fact that they were one and all written for a purpose in
which that method of handling seemed most effective. That there is a
brighter side goes without saying; but when a physician is writing a
lecture upon cholera or consumption he does not devote his time and
space to pointing out the indubitable fact that many of us have not, and
are not likely to contract, either one.

In pointing out and commenting upon certain social and hereditary
conditions and evils, which it is desirable to correct or to guard
against, and which it is all-important we shall first recognize as
existing and as in need of improvement, I have, it is true, dwelt
chiefly upon the evil possibilities contained in these conditions. I am
not, therefore, a pessimist. I do not fail to recognize the fact that
both men and conditions are undoubtedly evolving into better and higher
states than of old. If one may so express it, these essays are the
expressions of a pessimistic optimist,--one who is pessimistic upon
certain phases of the present for the present, and optimistic as to and
for the future. Let me illustrate: The housewife who does not have the
house cleaned because it stirs up a dust to do it, is in the position
of those critics who insist that it is all wrong to call attention to
abuses because abuses are not pleasant things to have held up to public
gaze. Or like a physician who would say: "For heaven's sake don't remove
that bandage from the broken skull to dress the wound or you will see
something even uglier than this soiled and ill-arranged cloth. Trust to
luck. Some people have recovered from even worse conditions than this
without intelligent care and treatment. Let him do it."

I have often been asked how and why I ever chanced to think or to write
upon these topics. "How can a woman in your station and of your type
know about them?" It is always difficult to say just how or why one mind
_does_ and another does _not_ grasp any given thing.

When I was a very young girl I heard a famous Judge read and discuss
a series of papers which were then appearing in the Popular Science
Monthly, and which were called "The Relations Of Women To Crime." I was
the only person admitted to the Club, where the consideration of the
papers took place, who was not mature in years and connected with one of
the learned professions. I was admitted because I begged the privilege
as the guest of the family of the Judge at whose house the Club met.
More than any other one thing, perhaps, the thoughts and suggestions
that came to me--a silent and unnoticed child--while listening to the
discussions of those papers which hinted at the various possibilities of
inherited criminal tendencies--hearing the lawyers comment upon it from
the point of view furnished by their court-room experiences, and the
medical men from their side of the topic, as practitioners upon those
who had inherited mental or physical diseases, and the educators from
their outlook and experience with children and youths who had not yet
begun an open criminal course but who showed in their tendencies
the need of intelligent training to modify or correct their faulty
inheritance,--more than any other one thing, perhaps, this experience
of my childhood led me into the study of anthropology and heredity. That
other people have been interested in what I have written from time
to time upon this subject, and that I was, for this reason, asked
to present certain phases of it at the recent World's Congress of
Representative Women, accounts for the publication of this book at this
time. I presume it will be said that it is not "pleasant reading for the
summer season." It is not intended for that purpose. It has been
asked for by many teachers, college professors, students and medical
practitioners, the latter of whom have shown extraordinary interest in
its early issue and wide circulation, and for whose kind encouragement
and aid I am glad to offer here renewed thanks.

I had intended to elaborate and enlarge and republish in book form "Sex
IN Brain," but since there have been hundreds of calls made for it and
since I have not yet found the time to combine, verify and arrange
the large amount of additional material which I have been steadily
collecting through correspondence with leading Anthropologists and brain
Anatomists in England, Scotland, Germany, France and the United States
and other countries, ever since they received, with such cordial and
kindly recognition, the within printed essay, which they have had
translated into several languages, I have concluded to include it
with these, leaving it as it was abridged and delivered before the
International Council in Washington in 1888.

Later on I hope to find time to arrange and verify and issue the new
material on the subject. It has grown in confirmatory evidence as it has
grown in bulk, with steady and assuring regularity.

Helen Hamilton Gardener.


I read--on a recent railway journey--a popular magazine. Its leading
story was labeled as a "story for girls." In it the traditional
gentleman of reduced fortunes continued to still further deplete the
family-resources by speculation, and the three daughters who figure in
most such stories went through the regular paces, so to speak.

One taught music; one painted well and sold her bits of canvas for ten
dollars each; but the third girl had no talent except that of a cheerful
temperament and the ability to drape curtains and arrange furniture
attractively. These girls talked over the fact, that they were now
reduced to their last ten dollars and the pantry was empty, father ill,
and mother--not counted. They joked a little, wept a few tears, and
prayed devoutly. Then the talentless one received an invitation in the
very nick of time to visit the richest lady in town (a cripple with a
grand house). She went, she saw, and, of course, she conquered--earned
money by giving artistic touches to the houses of all the rich people in
town, and eight months later married the nephew of the opulent cripple.
No more mention is made of the empty pantry, the sick father, and the
two talented girls whose labor did not previously keep the wolf from
the door. But it is only fair to suppose that the new husband was to
be henceforth the head of the entire establishment--surely a warning to
most young men contemplating matrimony under such trying circumstances.
All is supposed to move on well, however, and every hapless girl who
reads such a story, is led to believe that _she_ is the household fairy
who will meet the prince and somehow (not stated) redeem her father's
family from want and despair. For it is the object of such stories to
convey the impression that everything is quite comfortable and settled
after the wedding. The young girl who reads these stories looks out upon
life through the absurd spectacle thus furnished her. She sees nothing
as it is. Such little plans as she can make, are based upon wholly
incorrect data. Her whole existence is unconsciously made to bend to the
idea of matrimony as a means of salvation for herself and such persons
as may be in any way objects of care to her.

Indeed, what are commonly known as "safe stories for girls," are made up
of just such rubbish, which if it were only rubbish, might be tolerated;
but the harm all this sort of thing does can hardly be estimated. I
do not now refer to the harm of a more vicious sort that is sometimes
spoken of as the result of story reading. I am not considering the
deliberately scheming nor the consciously self-sacrificing girl who
struts her day on the stage and in fiction marries to save the farm or
her father or any one else. I am thinking of the every-day girl, who
is simply led to see life exactly as it is likely _not_ to be, and is
therefore disarmed at the outset. She is filled with all sorts of
dreamy ideas of rescue by prayer or by means of some suddenly
developed--previously undreamed-of--rich relation or lover or, I had
almost said--fairy. And why not? Literature used to bristle with these
intangible aids to the helpless or stranded author. The name is changed
now, it is true, but the fairy business goes bravely on at the old
stand, and the young are fed with views of life, and of what they will
be called upon to meet, which are none the less harmful and visionary
because of the changed nomenclature.

A gentleman of middle age said to me not long ago: "I grew up with the
idea that people were like those I met in books. I went out into life
with that belief. I measured myself by those standards, and I have spent
much time in my later years re-adjusting myself to fit the facts. It
placed me at a great disadvantage. I saw people and deeds as they were
not--as they are never likely to be in this world--and I could not
believe that my own case was not wholly exceptional. I began to look at
myself as quite out of the ordinary. My experiences were such as belied
my reading, and it was a very long time and after serious struggle,
that I discovered that it was my false standards, derived from reading
popular fiction, that had deceived me and that, after all, life had to
be met upon very different lines from the ones laid down by the ordinary
writers of fiction. I really believe I was unfitted for life as I found
it, more by the fictions of fiction than by any other one influence."

Another gentleman--a writer of renown--said to me: "We may not 'hold the
mirror up to nature' as nature is. The critics will not have it. We must
hold it up to what we are led to think nature _ought_ to be."

Now that would be all very well, no doubt, if the picture were labeled
to fit the facts. If it were distinctly understood by the reader that
in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the outcome of real life would be
wholly different, that the right man would not turn up, in the nick of
time, to point out to the defenseless widow that there was a flaw in
the deed; if the reader was warned that honest effort often precedes
failure; that virtue and vice not only may, but do, walk hand in hand
down many a life-long path and sometimes get the boundary lines quite
obliterated between them; if he understood that in life the biggest
scoundrel often wears the most benign countenance and does not go about
with a leer and a scowl that labels him, all might be well.

A prominent woman, an authority on social topics, who is also a writer,
a short time ago announced to her audience of ladies who gave the
smiling response of a thoughtless yes, that "no one ever committed a
despicable act with the head erect and the chest well out." "A dishonest
man, a criminal, a mean woman," she said, always carry themselves so and

If that were true--if it bore only the relationship of probability to
truth--courts of law to determine upon questions of guilt or innocence,
would be quite unnecessary. A photograph and an anatomical expert would
do the business. The doing of a wrong act would become impossible to a
gymnast, and the graceful "bareback lady" in the circus would be farther
removed from all meanness of soul than any other woman living.

Yet some such idea--stated a little less absurdly--runs through fiction,
the drama, and poetry.

Ferdinand Ward or Carlyle Harris would figure in orthodox fiction with
" furtive eyes," "a hunted look," and with very hard and repellant
features, indeed; yet those who knew them well never discovered any such
expressions. Jesse James would look like a ruffian and treat his old
mother like a brute. But in life he was a mild, quiet, fair-appearing
man who adored his mother, and was shot in the back (while tenderly
wiping the dust from her picture) by a despicable wretch who was living
upon his bounty at the time and accepted a bribe to murder him. Young
girls do not need to be warned against "mother Frouchards." No girl of
fair sense would require such warning; but the plausible, good-looking,
and often nobly-acting man or woman who lapses from rectitude in
one path while carefully treading the straight and narrow way in all
earnestness and with honest intent in others are the ones for whom the
fictions of fiction leave us unprepared.

In short the people who do not exist--the villain who is consistently
and invariably villainous, the woman who is an angel, the people who
never make mistakes, or who are able and wise enough to rectify them
nobly, and all the endless brood are familiar enough. We know all of
them, and are prepared for them when we meet them--which we never do.
But for the real people we are not prepared. For the exigencies of life
that come; for the decisions and judgments we are called upon to make,
the fictions of fiction have contributed to disarm us. We are hampered.
There is no precedent. We feel ourselves imposed upon; we are face to
face, so we believe--with a condition that no one ever met before. We
are dazed; we wait for the orthodox denouement. It does not come. We
pray. There is no angel visitant who cools our fevered brow with gentle
wings and lulls our fears with promise of help from other than human
agencies--which promises are straightway fulfilled, of course, in
fiction. We sit down and wait but no rich relation dies and leaves us a
legacy, nor does the prince appear and wed us. Nothing is orthodox, but
we have lost much valuable time, and strength, and hope in waiting for
it to be so. We have failed to adjust ourselves to life as it is. We do
not measure ourselves nor others by standards that have a par value. We
are discouraged and we are at sea.

A short time ago I read a story of the late war. The burden of it was
that, if a soldier had been brave and loyal, he could also be depended
upon to be honest. I happened to read the story while under the same
roof with an old soldier who was at that time a judge on the bench. He
had served faithfully while in the army; he was brave and he, no doubt,
deserved the honorable discharge he received, and yet while he sat on
the bench, he applied for a pension on the ground of incurable
disease "contracted in active service." While those papers were being
investigated and one doctor was examining him for his pension, he also
applied and was examined for life insurance as a perfectly sound man and
healthy risk, _and he got both_.

The fact is, human nature is very much mixed. Good and bad is
not divided by classes but is pretty well distributed in the same
individual. Weakness and strength, wisdom and ignorance, impulse and
reason, play their part in the same life with all the other attributes,
passions, and conditions, and the literature which makes any individual
the personification of good or of evil leads astray its confiding
readers. Woman has been represented in literature as emotion culminating
in self-sacrifice and matrimony. That was all. And even unto this day
many persons can conceive of her in no other light. The idea has always
been productive of infinite misery to woman whose whole book of life was
read by these pages only, as well as to man who had carefully to spell
out the other pages in the characters of wife or daughter when it was
too late for him to learn new lessons, or to develop a taste for an
unknown language.

Man has been known as pure reason touched with chivalry and devotion,
or else as a dangerous animal who preys upon his kind. There may be--IN
some other life or world--representatives of both of these classes,
but they are not the men with whom we live, and, therefore, whose
acquaintance it is desirable we should make as early as possible.

That a large family is a crown of glory to the parents and an
inestimable boon to the state, is an idea running through literature. Is
it a fact or is it one of the fictions of fiction which it were well to
stimulate and galvanize into life less persistently? What is the answer
from reform schools and penal institutions, filled by ignorance and
passion held in bondage by poverty; from cemeteries where mothers and
babies of the poor and ill-nurtured are strewn like leaves; from,
the homes of the educated and well to do where small families are the
rule--large ones the deplored exception? What is the logical reply
in countries whose sociological students sigh over the struggle for
existence and a scarcity of supplies; "over population" and desperate
emigration? Misery and vice bearing strict proportion to density of
population and poverty, surely offer a hint that at least one of the
fictions of fiction has gone far to do a serious injury to man.

But the fiction of fictions which has done more real harm to the human
race than any other, perhaps, is the one which dominates it--the idea
that woman was created for the benefit and pleasure of man, while man
exists for and because of himself.

Fiction has utilized even her hours of leisure and amusement to sap the
self-respect of womanhood while it helped very greatly to brutalize and
lower man by keeping--in this insidious form--the thought ever before
him that woman is a function only and not a person, and that even in
this limited sphere she is and should be proud to be man's subject. "He
for God only, she for God in him."

It is true that since the advent of women writers fiction has shown
a tendency to modify, to a limited extent, this previously universal
dictum, but the thought still dominates literature greatly to the
detriment of morals and of the dignity of both men and women.

"The woman who has no history is the woman to be envied," says
literature--and yet people do not envy her any more than they do the man
of like inconspicuous position. No one wishes that she might go down to
history, if one may so express it, as history less. No one points with
pride to Jane Smith as his illustrious ancestor any more than if Jane
had chanced to be John. To have been a Mary Somerville, or an Elizabeth
Barrett Browning, or a George Eliot, most historyless women would be
willing to change places even now, and as for "those who come after,"
can there be a question as to which would give more pride or pleasure
to man or woman, to say--"I am the son, or the brother, or the niece of
Mrs. Browning," or to say, "Jane Smith, of Amityville, is my most famous

I have my suspicions that even * Mr. Fitzgerald would waver in favor of
Elizabeth in case both women were his cousins. In public, at least, he
would mention Jane less frequently and with less of a touch of pride.
Personally he might like her quite as well. That is aside from the
question. I have no doubt that he might like John Smith as well as
Shakespeare, personally, too, and John may have led a happier life than
William, but is a man with no history to be envied for that reason? The
application is obvious.

One of the most insidious fictions of fiction, which it seems to me
is harmful, is the theory that the good are so because they resist
temptation, while the bad are vicious because they yield easily--make a
poor fight.

Leaving out heredity and its tremendous power, it is likely that you
would have yielded under as strong pressure as it took to carry your
neighbor down. I say as strong pressure--not the _same_ pressure--for
your tastes not being the same, your temptations will take different
forms. **

     * Fitzgerald "thanked God" when Mrs. Browning died. See
     reply by Robert Browning in Athenaeum.

     ** "Our lives progress on the lines of least resistance."
         --Van Dbr Waukr, M. D.

If you had been born of similar parents and on Cherry Hill; if you had
been one of a family of ten; if you had been stunted in mind and in body
by want of nourishment; if you had been given little or no education;
if you had helped to get bread for the family almost from the time you
could remember; your record in the police court would not differ very
greatly from that of those about you. In nine cases out of ten you would
be where you sent that convict last year. Your pretty daughter would be
the associate of toughs. She might be pure--in the sense in which the
word is applied to women--but she would have a mind muddy and foul with
the murk and odors of a life fit only for swine. She would marry a
brute who honestly believes that so soon as the words of a priest or a
magistrate are said over them, she belongs to him to abuse if he sees
fit, to impose upon, lie to, or to let down into the valley of death
for his pleasure whenever he sees fit, and quite without regard to her
opinions or desires in the matter. She would be an old and broken woman
at thirty, ugly, misshapen, and hopeless, with hungry-faced children
about her, whose next meal would be a piece of bread, whose next word
would be too foul to repeat, whose next act would disgrace a wolf.

In turn they would perpetuate their kind in much the same fashion, and
some of your grandchildren would be in the poor-house, some in
prison, some in houses of ill-repute, and perchance some doing honest
work--sweeping the streets or making shirts for forty cents a dozen for
the patrons of a literature that goes on promoting the theory that the
chief duty of the poor is to irresponsibly bring more children into the
world--to work for them as cheaply as possible. To the end that they may
restrict their own families to smaller limits and--by means of cheaper
labor caused largely by over population from below--clothe their loved
ones in purple and build untaxed temples of worship, where poverty
and crime is taught to believe in that other fiction of fictions--the
"providence" that places us where we deserve to be and where a loving
God wishes us to be content.

Indeed, this supernatural finger in literature has gone farther,
perhaps, to place and keep fiction where it is, as a misleading picture
of life and reality, than has any other influence. It has dominated
talent and either starved or broken the pen of genius. "Oh, if I might
be allowed to draw a man as he is!" exclaims Thackeray, as he leaves the
office of his publisher, with downcast eyes and bowed head. He goes home
and "cuts out most of his facts," and returns the manuscript which is
acceptable now, because it is _not_ true to life!

Because it is now fiction based upon other fiction and has eliminated
from it the elements of probability which might have been educative or
stimulating or prophetic. Now, Thackeray was not a man who would have
mistaken preachments for novels if he had been left to his own judgment;
neither would he have painted vice with a hand that made it attractive,
but he chafed under the dictum that he must not hold the mirror up to
the face of nature, but must adjust it carefully so as to reflect a
steel engraving of a water color from a copy of the "old masters."

It might be well if silver dollars grew on trees and if each person
could step out and gather them at his pleasure; but since they do
not, what good purpose could it serve if fiction were to iterate and
reiterate that such is the case, until people believed that it was their
trees which were at fault and not their fiction?

It might be a good idea, too, if babies were born with a knowledge of
Latin and Mathematics, but to convince young people that such is the
case and that they are pitiful exceptions to a general rule, is to place
them at a humiliating disadvantage from the outset.

It is one of the most firmly rooted of these fictions of fiction, that
such tales as I have mentioned above are "good reading--safe, clean
literature" for girls. Nothing could be farther from the facts. Indeed,
the outcry about girls not being allowed to read this or that, because
it deals with some topic "unfit" for the girls' ears, is another fiction
of fiction which robs the girl of her most important armor--the armor of
truth and the ability to adjust it to life.

A famous man once said in my presence--"The theory that to keep a girl
pure you must keep her ignorant of life--of real life--is based upon
a belief degrading to her and false as to facts. Some people appear to
believe that if they keep girls entirely ignorant of all truth, they
will necessarily become devotees of truth, and if you could succeed in
finding a girl who is a perfect idiot, you would find one who is also a
perfect angel."

"We are a variegated lot at best and worst," said a lady to me the other
day, when discussing the character of a man who is in the public eye, "I
know a different side of his character. The side I know I like. The side
the public knows is so different." But in fiction he would be all one
way. He would be a scamp and know it, or he would be a saint--and know
that too. The fact is he is neither; and we _are_ a variegated set at
best and worst. Why not out with it in fiction and be armed and equipped
for character and life as it is?

There is a school of critics who will say this is not the province of
fiction. Fiction is to entertain, not to instruct. With this I do not
agree--only in part. But accepting the standard for the moment, I am
sure that a picture of life as it is, is far more entertaining than is
that shadowy and vague photograph of ghosts taken by moonlight, which
"safe stories for the young" generally present.

But to enumerate the fictions of fiction would be to undertake an
arduous task--to comment upon them all would be impossible.

How much remorse--how many heartbreaks--have been caused by the one
of these which may be indicated briefly in a sentence thus--"Stolen
pleasures are always the sweetest."

"She sullied _his_ honor," "He avenged his sullied honor," and all the
brood of ideas that follows in this line have built up theories and
caused more useless bloodshed and sorrow than most others. No wife
can stain the honor of her husband. He, only, can do that, and it is
interesting to note the fact that he who struts through fiction with a
broken heart and a drawn sword "avenging" said honor (in the sense
in which the word is used), seldom had any to avenge, having quite
effectively divested himself of it before his wife had the chance.

"She begged him to make an honest woman of her." What fiction of fiction
(and, alas, of law) could be more degrading to womanhood--and hence
to humanity--than the thought here presented? The whole chain of ideas
linked here is vicious and vicious only. Why sustain the fiction that a
woman can be elevated by making her the permanent victim of one who has
already abused her confidence, and now holds himself--because of his own
perfidy--as in a position to confer honor upon his victim? He who is not
possessed of honor cannot confer it upon another. "The purity of family
life" is another fiction of fiction which never did and never can exist,
while based upon a double standard of morals. That there ever was or
ever will be a "union of souls" in a family where a double standard
holds sway, or that women are truthful or frank with men upon whom they
are dependent, are fictions which it were time to face and controvert
with facts. Dependence and frankness never co-existed in this world in
an adult brain--whether it were the dependence of the serf or of the
wife or daughter, the result is ever the same. The elements of character
which tend to self-respect and hence to open and truthful natures, are
not possible in a dependent--or in a social or political inferior. Do
the peasants tell the lord exactly what they think of him, or do they
tell him what they know he wishes them to think?

Did the black men, while yet slaves, give to the master their own
unbiased opinion of the institution of slavery? Not with any degree of
frequency. The application is obvious.

Another of the fictions of fiction upon which the vicious build, and
which has disarmed thousands before the battle, is the insistency with
which the idea is presented that a man (or woman) who is honestly and
truly and conscientiously religious, is therefore necessarily moral or
honorable; that he is a hypocrite in his religion if he is a knave in
his life. Observation and history and logic are all against the theory.
Some of the most exaltedly religious men have been the most wholly
immoral. It was honest religion that burned Servetus and Bruno. They
were not hypocrites who hunted witches. It is not hypocrisy that draws
its skirts aside from a "fallen" sister, and immorally marries her
companion in illicit love to purity and innocence. Do you know any
religious father (or many mothers) in this world who would refuse to
allow their son, whom they know to be of bad character, to marry a girl
who is as pure and spotless and suspicion-less as a flower? "She will
reform him," they say. "It will be good for him to marry such a girl."
And how will it be for her? Does the religious man or woman not take
this view of morals? Has right and wrong, sex? Is honor and truthfulness
toward others limited in application? Have you a right to deceive
certain people for the pleasure or benefit of other people? If so where
is the boundary line? Would the girl marry you or your son if she knew
the exact truth--if she were to see with her own and not with your
eyes--_all_ of your life? Would you be willing to take her with you, or
for her to go unknown to you, through all the experiences of your past
and present? No? Would you be willing to marry her if she had exactly
your record? No? You truly believe then that she is worthy of less than
you are? Honor does not demand as much of you for her as it does of her
for you? You would think she had a right--you would not resent it if
her life had been exactly what yours was and is, and if she had deceived
you? Is that which is coarse or low for women not so for men? Why is
it that men will not submit to, if it comes from women, that which they
impose upon women whom they "adore" and "truly respect?"

Would women accept this sort of respect and adoration if they were not
dependents? Does literature throw a true or a fictitious light on such
questions as these?

To whose advantage is it to sustain such fictitious standard of morals,
of justice, of love, of right, of manliness, of honor, of womanly
dignity and worth? To whose advantage is it to teach by all the arts of
fiction that contentment with one's lot--whatever the lot may be--is a
virtue? Yet it is one of the fictions of fiction that the contented man
or woman is the admirable person. All progress proves the contrary. To
whose advantage is it to insist that virtue is always rewarded--vice
punished? We know it is not true. Is it not bad enough to have been
virtuous and still have failed, without having also the stigma which
this failure implies under such a code? We all know that vicious success
is common--that often vice and success are partners for life and that
in death they are not divided; that the wicked flourish like a green
bay-tree--why blink it in fiction? Why add suspicion to failure
and misfortune, and gloss success with the added glory that it is
necessarily the result of virtue? To those who know how false the theory
is, it is a bad lesson--to those who do not know it, it is a disarmament
against imposition.

Some of the fictions of fiction have their droll side in their nâive
contradictions of each other. These examples occur to me:

"Women are timid and secretive." "They can't keep a secret." "They are
the custodians of virtue." "They are the 'frailer' sex." "Frailty, thy
name is woman." "With the passionate purity of woman."

"Abstract justice is an attribute of the masculine mind." "Man's
inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn."

"No class was ever able to be just to--to do justly by another
class--hence the need of popular representation." "Women should take no
part in politics."

"Women are harder upon women than men are." "He disgraced his honored
name by actually marrying his paramour."

"We are happy if we are good."

"He was one of the best and therefore one of the saddest of men."

But why multiply examples. Many--and different ones--will occur to
every thinking mind, while illustrations of the particular fictions of
fiction, which have gone farthest to cripple you or your neighbor, will
present themselves without more suggestions.



To those accustomed to the atmosphere and tone of a court room, it is
doubtful if its message is impressive. To one who spends a day in
a criminal court for the first time after reaching an age of
thoughtfulness, it is more than impressive; it is a revelation not
easily forgotten. The message conveyed to such an observer arouses
questions, and suggests thoughts which may be of interest to thousands
to whom a criminal court room is merely a name. I went early. I was
told by the officer at the door that it was the summing up of a homicide
case. "Are you a witness?" he asked when I inquired if I was at liberty
to enter. "Were you subpoenaed?"

"No," I replied, "I simply wish to listen, if I may, to the court
proceedings. I am told that I am at liberty to do so."

He eyed me closely, but opened the door. Just as I was about to pass in
he bent forward and asked quickly:

"Friend of the prisoner?"


He said something to another officer and I was taken to an enclosed
space (around which was a low railing) and given a chair. I afterward
learned that it was in this place the witnesses were seated. He had
evidently not believed what I said.

There was a hum of quiet talk in the room, which was ill-ventilated and
filled with men and boys and a few women. Of the latter there were but
two who were not of the lower grades of life. But there were all grades
of men and boys. The boys appeared to look upon it as a sort of matinee
to which they had gained free admission.

The trial was one of unusual interest. It had been going on for several
days. The man on trial (who was twenty-four years of age and of a
well-to-do laboring class,) had shot and killed his rival in the
affections of a girl of fourteen. Some months previous, he had been cut
in the face, and one eye destroyed, by the man he afterward killed,
who was at the time of the killing out on bail for this offense. I had
learned these points from the scraps of conversation outside the court
room, and from the court officer. This was the last day of the trial.
There was to be the summing up of the defense, the speech of the
prosecutor, the charge of the judge, and the verdict of the jury.

The prisoner sat near the jury box, pale and stolid looking. The
spectators laughed and joked. Court officers and lawyers moved about
and chaffed one another. There was nothing solemn, nothing dignified,
nothing to suggest the awful fact that here was a man on trial for his
life, who, if found guilty, was to be deliberately killed by the State
after days of inquiry, even as his victim had been killed, in the heat
of passion and jealousy, by him.

The State was proposing to take this man's life to teach other men _not_
to commit murder.

"Hats off!"

The door near the Judge's dais had been opened by an officer, who had
shouted the command as a rotund and pleasant-faced gentleman, with
decidedly Hibernian features, entered.

He took his seat on the raised platform beneath a red canopy. The buzz
of voices had ceased when the order to remove hats was given. It now
began again in more subdued tones. In a few moments the prisoner's
lawyer--one of the prominent men of the bar--began his review of
the case. He pointed out the provocation, the jealousy, the previous
assault--the results of which were the ghastly marks and the sightless
eye of the face before them. He plead self defense and said over and
over again, "If I had been tried as he was, if I had been disfigured for
life, if I had had the girl I loved taken from me, I'd have killed the
man who did it, _long_ ago! We can only wonder at this man's forbearance!"

I think from a study of the faces that there was not a boy in the room
who did not agree with that sentiment--and there were boys present who
were not over thirteen years of age.

The lawyer dwelt, too, upon the fact that the prosecutor would say this
or that against his client. "He will try to befog this case. He will
tell you this and he will try to make you think that; but every man on
this jury knows full well that _he_ would have done what my client did
under the same conditions." "The prosecutor told you the other day so
and so. He lied and he knew it." The defender warmed to his work and
shook his finger threateningly at the prosecutor. Every one in the room
appeared to think it an excellent bit of acting and a thoroughly good
joke. No one seemed to think it at all serious, and when he closed and
the State's attorney arose to reply there was a smile and rustle of
quiet satisfaction as if the audience had said:

"Now the fur will fly. Look out! It is going to be pretty lively for he
has to pay off several hard thrusts."

There was a life at stake; but to all appearances no one was controlled
by a trifle like that when so much more important a thing was risked
also--the professional pride of two gentlemen of the bar. In the speech
which followed, it did not dawn upon the State's attorney--if one may
judge from his words--that he was "attorney for the people," and that
the prisoner was one of "the people." It did not appear in his attitude
if he realized that the State does not elect him to convict its
citizens, but to see that they are properly protected and represented.

Surely the State is not desirous of convicting its citizens of crime. It
does not employ an attorney upon that theory; but is this not the theory
upon which the prosecutor invariably conducts his cases? Does he not
labor first of all to secure every scrap of evidence against the accused
and to make light of or cover up anything in his favor? Is not the State
quite as anxious that he--its representative--find citizens guiltless,
if they are so, as that he convict them if they are offenders against
the law? Is not the prosecutor offending against the law of the land
as well as against that of ordinary humanity when he bends all the
vast machinery of his office to collect evidence against and refuses to
admit--tries to rule out--evidence in favor of one of "the people" whose
employee he is?

These questions came forcibly to my mind as I listened to the prosecutor
in the trial for homicide. He not only presented the facts as they were,
but he drew inferences, twisted meanings, asserted that the case had but
one side; that the defendant was a dangerous animal to be at large;
that his witnesses had all lied; that his lawyer was a notorious special
pleader and had wilfully distorted every fact in the case. He waxed
wroth and shook his fist in the face of his antagonist and appealed to
every prejudice and sentiment of the jury which might be played upon
to the disadvantage of the accused. He sat down mopping his face and
flashing his eyes. The Judge gave his charge, which, to my mind, was
clearly indicative of the fact that he, at least, felt that there were
two very serious sides to the case. The audience which had so relished
the two preceding speeches, found the Judge tame, and when the jury
filed out, half of the audience went also. Most of them were laughing,
highly amused by "the way the prosecutor gave it to him" as I heard
one lad of seventeen say. The moment the Judge left the stand there was
great chaffing amongst the lawyers, and much merry-making. The prisoner
and his friends sat still. The prosecutor smilingly poked his late legal
adversary under the ribs and asked in a tone perfectly audible to
the prisoner, "Lied, did I? Well, I rather think I singed your bird a
little, didn't I?" When he reached the door, he called back over his
shoulder--making a motion of a pendant body--"Down goes McGinty!"
Everyone laughed. That is to say, everyone except the white-faced
prisoner and his mother. He turned a shade paler and she raised a
handkerchief to her eyes. Several boys walked past him and stopped to
examine him closely. One of them said, so that the prisoner could not
fail to hear, "He done just right. I'd 'adone it long before, just like
his lawyer said."

"Me too. You bet," came from several other lads--all under twenty years
of age.

And still we waited for the jury to return. The prisoner grew restless
and was taken away by an officer to the pen. There was great laughter
and joking going on in the room. Several were eating luncheons
abstracted from convenient pockets. I turned to an officer, and asked:

"Do you not think all this is bad training for boys? It must show them
very clearly that it is a mere game of chance between the lawyers with
a life for stakes. The best player wins. They must lose all sense of the
seriousness of crime to see it treated in this way."

"Upon the other hand," said he, "they learn, if they stay about criminal
courts much, that not one in ten who is brought here escapes conviction,
and not one in ten who is once convicted, fails to be convicted and sent
up over and over again. Once a criminal, always a criminal. If they get
fetched here once they might as well throw up the sponge."

"Is it so bad as that?" I asked. He nodded. "Is there not something
wrong with the penal institutions then?" I queried.


"You told me a while ago," I explained, "that almost all first crimes or
convictions were of boys under seventeen years of age. Now you say that
not one in ten brought here, accused, escapes conviction, and not one in
ten of these fails to be convicted over and over again. Now it seems to
me that a boy of that age ought not to be a hopeless case even if he has
been guilty of one crime; yet practically he is convicted for life if
found guilty of larceny, we will say. Is there not food for reflection
in that?"

"I do' know," he responded, "mebby. If anybody wanted to reflect. I
guess most boys that hang around here don't spend none too much time
reflectin' though--till _after_ they get sent up. They get more time for
it then," he added, dryly.

"Another thing that impresses me as strange," I went on, "is the
apparent determination of the prosecutor to convict even where there is
a very wide question as to the degree of guilt."

"I don't see anything queer in that. He's human. He likes to beat the
other lawyer. Why, did you know that the prosecutor you heard just now
is cousin to a lord? His first cousin married Lord--------."

This was said with a good deal of pride and a sort of proprietary
interest in both the lord and the fortunate prosecutor. I failed
to grasp just its connection with the question in point to which I

"But the public prosecutor is not, as I understand it, hired to convict
but to represent the 'people,' one of whom is the accused. Now, is the
State interested in convictions only--does it employ a man to see that
its citizens are found guilty of crime, or is it to see that justice
is done and the facts arrived at in the interest of _all_ the people,
including the accused?"

"I guess that is about the theory of the State," he replied, laughing as
he started for the door, "but the practice of the prosecuting attorney
is to convict every time if he can, and don't you forget it."

I have not forgotten that nor several other things, more or less
important to the public, since my day in a Criminal Court.

It may be interesting to the reader to know that the jury in the case
cited, disagreed. At a new trial the accused was acquitted on the
grounds of self defense and the prosecutor no doubt felt that he was in
very poor luck, indeed: "For," as I was told by a court officer, "he has
lost his three last homicide cases and he's bound to convict the next
time in spite of everything, or he won't be elected again. I wouldn't
like to be the next fellow indicted for murder if he prosecutes the
case, even if I was as innocent as a spring lamb," said he succinctly.

Nor should I.

But aside from this thought of the strangely anomalous attitude of the
State's attorney; aside from the thought of the possible influence of
such court room scenes upon the boys who flock there--who are largely of
the class easily led into, and surrounded by, temptation; aside from
the suggestions contained in the officer's statement--which I cannot but
feel to be somewhat too sweeping, but none the less illustrative, that
only one in ten brought before the Criminal Court escapes conviction,
and only one in that ten fails to be reconvicted until it becomes
practically a conviction for life to be once sent to a penal
institution; aside from all this, there is much food for thought
furnished by a day in a Criminal Court room. A study of the jury, and of
the judge, is perhaps as productive of mental questions that reach far
and mean much, as are those which I have briefly mentioned; for I am
assured by those who are old in criminal court practice, that my day in
court might be duplicated by a thousand days in a thousand courts and
that in this day there were, alas, no unusual features. One suggestive
feature was this. When the jury--an unusually intelligent looking body
of men--was sworn for the next case, seven took the oath on the Bible
and five refused to do so, simply affirming. This impressed me as a
large proportion who declined to go through the ordinary form; but since
it created no comment in the court room, I inferred that it was not
sufficiently rare to attract attention, while only a few years ago, so
I was told, it would have created a sensation. There appeared to be a
growing feeling, too, against capital punishment. Quite a number of
the talesmen were excused from serving on the jury on the ground of
unalterable objection to this method of dealing with murderers. They
would not hang a man, they said, no matter what his crime.

"Do you see any relation between the refusal to take the old form of
oath, and the growth of a sentiment or conscientious scruple against
hanging as a method of punishment"? I inquired of the officer.

"I do' know. Never thought of that. They're both a growin'; but I don't
see as they've got anything to do with each other."

But I thought possibly they had.


The next week I concluded to visit two of the Police Courts. I reached
court at nine o'clock, but it had been in session for half an hour or
more then, and I was informed that "the best of it was over." I asked at
what time it opened. The replies varied "Usually about this time." "Some
where around nine o'clock as a rule." "Any time after seven," etc. I
got no more definite replies than these, although I asked policemen,
doorkeeper, court officer, and Justice. Of one Justice I asked, "What
time do you close?"

"Any time when the cases for the day are run through," he replied.
"To-day I want to get off early and I think we can clear the calendar by
10:30 this morning. There is very little beside excise cases to-day and
they are simply held over with $100 bail to answer to a higher court for
keeping their public houses open on Sunday. Monday morning hardly ever
has much else in this court."

I was seated on the "bench" beside the Judge. At this juncture a police
officer stepped in front of the desk with his prisoner, and the Justice
turned to him.

"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole tr--'n--g b tr'th--selp y'
God. Kissthebook."

The policeman had lifted the greasy volume, and with more regard for his
health than for the form of oath, had carried it in the neighborhood of
his left cheek and as quickly replaced it on the desk.

"What is the charge?" inquired the Justice.

"Open on Sunday," replied the officer succinctly.

"See him selling anything?"

"No. I asked for a drink an' he told me he was only lighting up for the
night and wasn't sellin' nothing."

"Anybody inside?"

"Only him an' me."

"You understand that you are entitled to counsel at every stage of this
proceeding," said the Justice to the accused man. "What have you to say
for yourself?"

"Your Honor, I have a dye house, and a small saloon in the corner. I
always light the gas at night in both and have it turned low. I had on
these clothes. I was not dressed for work. I went in to light up and
he followed me in, and arrested me and I have been in jail all night. I
sold nothing."

"Is that so, officer?" asked the Justice.

"Yes, your Honor, it is so far as I know. I seen him in there lighting
the gas, an' I went in an' asked for a drink, an' he said he wasn't
selling an' I arrested him."

"Give the record to the clerk. Discharged," said the Justice, and then
turning to me he explained: "You see he had to arrest the man for his
own protection. If a police officer goes into a saloon and is seen
coming out, and doesn't make some sort of an arrest, he'll get into
trouble; so, for his protection he had to arrest the man after he once
went in, and I have to require that record, by the clerk, to show
why, after he was brought before me, I discharged him. That is for my

"What is for the man's protection?" I asked. "He has been in jail all
night. He has been dragged here as a criminal to-day, and he has a court
record of arrest against him all because he lighted his own gas in his
own house That seems a little hard, don't you think so?"

The Judge smiled.

"So it does, but he ought to have locked the door when he went in to
light up. Perhaps he was afraid to go in a dark room and lock his door
behind him before he struck a light, but that was his mistake and this
is his punishment. Next!"

Most of the cases were like this or not so favorable for the accused. In
the latter instance they were held in bail to answer to a higher court.
Two or three were accused of being what the officer called "plain
drunks" and as many more of being "fighting drunks" or "concealed weapon
drunks." In these cases the charge was made by the officer who had
arrested them. There was no suggestion that "you are entitled to
counsel," etc., and a fine of from "$10 or ten days" to "$100 or three
months" or both was usually imposed.

A pitiful sight was a woman, sick, and old, and hungry. "What is the
charge against her, officer?" inquired the Justice.

"Nothing, your Honor. She wants to be sent to the workhouse. She has no
home, her feet are so swollen she can't work, and--"

"Six months," said the Justice, and turned to me. "Now she will go
to the workhouse, from there to the hospital, and from there to the
dissecting table. Next."

I shuddered, and the door closed on the poor wretch who, asking the city
for a home, only, even if that home were among criminals, received a
free pass to three of the public institutions sustained to receive such
as she--at least so said the Justice to whom such cases were not rare
enough to arouse the train of suggestions that came unbidden to me. He
impressed me as a kind-hearted man, and one who tried to be a Justice in
fact as well as in name. He told me that it was not particularly unusual
for him to be called from his bed at midnight, go to court, light up,
send for his clerk and hold a short session on one case of immediate
importance--such as the commitment of a lunatic or the bailing of some
important prisoner who declined to spend a night in jail while only a
charge and not a conviction hung over him.

"I have never committed anyone without seeing him personally," he
explained. "Some judges do; but I never have. Only last night a man's
brother and sister and two doctors tried to have me commit him as a
lunatic, but I insisted on being taken to where he was. They begged me
not to go in as he was dangerous; but I did, and one glance was all I
needed. He was a maniac, but I would not take even such strong evidence
as his relations and two doctors afforded without seeing him personally."

"And some judges do, you say?" I inquired.

"Oh yes. Next."

"Next" had been waiting before the desk for some time. The officer
went through the same form of oath. I did not see a policeman or court
officer actually "kiss the book" during the two days which I spent in
the Police Courts. Some witnesses did kiss it in fact and not only in
theory. A loud resounding smack frequently prefaced the most patent
perjury. Indeed in two cases after swearing to one set of lies and
kissing the Bible in token of good faith, the accused changed their
pleas from not guilty to guilty and accepted a sentence without trial.

These facts did not appear to shake the confidence in the efficacy of
such oaths and the onlookers in the court did not seem either surprised
or shocked. Certainly the court officials were not, and yet the swearing
went on. That it was a farce to the swearers who were quite willing to
say they believed they would "go to hell" if they did not tell the
truth and were equally willing to run the risk, looked to me like a very
strong argument for a form of oath which should carry its punishment for
perjury with it to be applied in a world more immediate and tangible.

The afternoon found me in a more crowded Police Court. The Justice was
rushing business. I stood outside the railing in front of which the
accused were ranged. The charges were made by the police officer who
faced the Judge. The accused stood almost directly behind the policemen
something like four feet away. I was by the officer's side and so near
as to touch his sleeve, and yet I can truly say that I was wholly unable
to hear one-half of the charges made; most of them appeared to relate to
intoxication, fighting, quarreling in the street, breaking windows and
similar misdeeds.

Some of the "cases" took less than a minute and the accused did not hear
one word of the charge made. What he did hear in most cases and _all_ he
could possibly hear was something like one of these:

"Ten dollars or ten days." "Three months." "Ever been here before?"

"No, your Honor."

"Ten days."

"Officer says you were quarreling in a hallway with this woman. Say for

"Well, your Honor, I was a little full and I got in the wrong hall and
she tried to put me out and--"

"Ten dollars."

"Your Honor, I'll lose my place and I've got a wife and--" The officer
led him away. Ten dollars meant ten days in prison to him and the
loss of his situation. What it may have meant to his family did not

To the next "case" which was of a similar nature, the fine meant the
going down into a well-filled pocket, a laugh with the clerk and the
police officer who took the proffered cigar and touched his hat to the
object of his arrest, who, having slept off his "plain drunk," was in
a rather merry mood. Many of the accused did not hear the charges made
against them by the officer; in but few cases were they told that they
had a right to counsel; almost all were fined and at least two-thirds
of the fines meant imprisonment. A little more care was taken, a little
more time spent if the face or clothing of the accused indicated that
he was of the well-to-do or educated class. Indeed I left this court
feeling that the inequality of the administration of justice as applied
by the system of fines was carried to its farthest limit, and that it
would be perfectly possible--easy indeed--to find a man (if he chanced
to be poor and somewhat common looking) behind prison walls without his
knowing even upon what charge he had been put there and without having
made the slightest defense. If he were frightened, or ill, or unused to
courts, and through uncertainty or slowness of speech, or not knowing
what the various steps meant, had suddenly heard the Judge say "Ten
dollars," and had realized that so far as he was concerned it might as
well have been ten thousand; it was quite possible, I say, for such a
man to find himself a convict before he knew or realized what it meant
or with what he was charged.

I wondered if all this was necessary, or if attention were called to
it from the outside if it might not set people to thinking and if the
thought might not result in action that would lead to better things.

I wondered if a rapid picture of a boy of sixteen arrested for fighting,
shot through this court into association with criminals for ten days,
being found in their company afterward and sent by the criminal court
to prison for three months for larceny, and afterward appearing and
re-appearing as a long or short term criminal, would suggest to others
what the idea suggested to me? I wondered, in short, if there were less
machinery for the production and punishment of crime and more for its
prevention, if life might not be made less of a battlefield and hospital
for the poor or unfortunate. I wondered if the farce of oaths, the
flippancy of trials, the passion of the prosecutor for conviction and
all the train of evils growing out of these were necessary; and if they
were not, I wondered if the vast non-court-attending public might not
suggest a remedy if its attention were called to certain of the many
suggestive features of our courts that presented themselves to me during
my first two days as an observer of the legal machinery that grinds out
our criminal population.


I read that headline in a newspaper one morning. Then I asked myself:
Why should the city's dead be "thrown in?"

Where and how are they "thrown in?" Why are they _thrown_ in?

Why, in a civilized land, should such an expression as that arouse no
surprise--be taken as a matter of course? What is its full meaning? Are
others as little informed upon the subject as I? Would the city's
dead continue to be "thrown in" if the public stopped to think; if it
understood the meaning of that single, obscure headline? Believing that
the power of a free and fearless press is the greatest power for good
that has yet been devised; and believing most sincerely, that wrongs
grow greatest where silence is imposed or ignorance of the facts stands
between the wrong doer, or the wrong deed, and enlightened public
opinion, I decided to learn and to tell just the meaning--_all_ of the
meaning--of those six sadly and shockingly suggestive words.

Suppose you chanced to be very poor and to die in New York; or suppose,
unknown to you, your mother, a stranger passing through the city, were
to die suddenly. Suppose, in either case, no money were forthcoming to
bury the body, would it be treated as well, with as humane and civilized
consideration as if the question of money were not in the case? We are
fond of talking about giving "tender Christian burial," and of showing
horror and disgust for those who may wilfully observe other methods.
We are fond of saying that death levels all distinctions. Let us see
whether these are facts or fictions of life.

The island where the "city's dead" are buried--that is, all the
friendless and poor or unidentified, who are not cared for by some
church or society--is a mere scrap of land, from almost any point of
which you easily overlook it all, with its marshy border and desolate,
unkempt surface. It contains, as the officer in charge told me, about
seventy-nine acres at low tide. At high tide much of the border is
submerged. Upon this scrap of land--about one mile long and less than
half a mile wide at its _widest_ point--is concentrated so much of
misery and human sorrow and anguish, that it is difficult to either
grasp the idea one's self or convey it to others.

There are three classes of dead sent here by the city. Those who are
imbecile or insane--dead to thought or reason; those who are dead
to society and hope--medium term criminals; and those whom want, and
sorrow, and pain, and wrong can touch no more after the last indignity
is stamped upon their dishonored clay. I will deal first with these
happier ones who have reached the end of the journey which the other
two classes sit waiting for. Or, perhaps some of them stand somewhat
defiantly as they look on what they know is to be their own last home,
and recognize the estimate placed upon them by civilized, Christian

Upon this scrap of land there are already buried--or "thrown in"--over
seventy thousand bodies. Stop and think what that means. It is a large
city. We have but few larger in this country. Remember that this island
is about one mile long and less than a half mile wide at the widest
point. In places it is not much wider than Broadway.

The spot on which those seventy thousand are "thrown in" is but a small
part of this miniature island. This is laid off in plots with paths
between. These sections are forty-five feet by fifteen, and are dug
out seven feet deep. Again, stop and picture that. It looks like the
beginning of a cellar for a small city house. But in that little cellar
are buried one hundred and fifty bodies, packed three deep. Remembering
the depth of a coffin, and remembering that a layer of earth is put on
each, it is easy to estimate about how near the surface of the earth lie
festering seventy thousand bodies. They are not in metallic cases, as
may well be imagined; but I need only add that I could distinctly see
the corpse through wide cracks in almost every rough board box, for you
to understand that sickening odors and deadly gases are nowhere absent.

But there is one thing more to add before this picture can be grasped.
Three of these trenches are kept constantly open. This means that
something like four hundred bodies, dead from three days to two weeks,
lie in open pine boxes almost on the surface of the earth.

You will say, "That is bad, but the island is far away and is for the
dead only. They cannot injure each other." If that were true, a part of
the ghastly horror would be removed, but, as I have said, the city
sends two other classes of dead here. Two classes who are beyond hope,
perhaps, but surely not beyond injury and a right to consideration by
those who claim to be civilized.

Standing near the "general" or Protestant trench--for while Christian
society permits its poor and unknown to be buried in trenches three
deep; while it forces its other poor and friendless to dig the trenches
and "throw in" their brother unfortunates; while it condemns its
imbeciles and lunatics to the sights, and sounds, and odors, and
poisoned air and earth of this island, it cannot permit the Catholic and
Protestant dead to lie in the same trenches!--standing near the general
trench, in air too foul to describe, where five "short term men" were
working to lower their brothers, the officer explained.

"We have to keep three trenches open all the time, because the Catholics
have to go in consecrated ground and they don't allow the 'generals' and
Protestants in there. Then the other trench is for dissected bodies from
hospitals and the like."

"Are not many, indeed most of those, also, Catholics?" I asked.

"Yes, I guess so; but they don't go in consecrated ground, because they
aint whole." This with no sense of levity.

"Are not many of the unknown likely to be Catholics, too?"

"Yes, but when we find that out afterward, we dig them out if they were
not suicides, and put them in the other trench. If they were suicides,
of course, they have to stay with the generals. You see, we number each
section; then we number each box, and begin at one end with number one
and lay them right along, so a record is kept and you can dig any one
out at any time."

"Then this earth--if we may call it so--is constantly being dug into and
opened up?" I queried.

"I should think it would kill the men who work, and the insane and
imbecile who must live here." "Well," he replied, smiling, "prisoners
have to do what they are told to, whether it kills 'em or not, and I
guess it don't hurt the idiots and lunatics none. They're past hurting.
They're incurables. They never leave here."

"I should think not," I replied. "And if by any chance they were not
wholly incurable when they came, I should suppose it would not be long
before they would be. Where does the drinking water come from?"

"Drive wells, and--"

"What!" I exclaimed, in spite of my determination when I went that I
would show surprise at nothing.

He looked at me in wonder.

"Yes, it is easy to drive wells here. Get water easy."

This time I remained silent. I did not wish to frighten away any farther
confidences which he might feel like imparting.

There is one road from end to end of the island. The houses for the male
lunatics and imbeciles are on the highest point overlooking at all times
the trenches and at all times within hearing of whatever goes on there.
The odors are everywhere so that night and day, every one who is on the
island breathes nothing else but this polluted air, except as a strong
wind blows it, at times, from one direction over another. The women's
quarters--much larger and better houses--are at the other end of the
island. Not all of these overlook the trenches.

Every fair day all these wretched creatures are taken out to walk.
Where? Along this one road; back and forth, back and forth, beside the
"dead trenches." To step aside is to walk on "graves" for about half
the way. We sometime smile over the old joke that the Blue Laws allowed
nothing more cheerful than a walk to the cemetery on Sunday. All days
are Sundays to these wretches who depend on the "civilized" charity of
our city. All laws are very, very blue; all walks lead through what can
by only the wildest abandon of charity be called by so happy a name as
a "cemetery," and even the air and water the city gives them is neither
air nor water; it is pollution.

A gentleman by my side watched the long procession of helpless creatures
walk past. One man waved his hand to me and mumbled something and
smiled--then he called back, "Wie geht's? Wie geht's?" and smiled again.
Several of the wretched creatures laughed at him; but when I smiled and
bowed, nearly half of the line of three hundred, turned and joined in
his salutation. They filed past four times (the whole walk is so short),
and they did not fail each time to recognize me and bid for recognition.
If they know me as a stranger, I thought, they know enough to understand
something of all this ghastliness. The line of women was a long, long
line. I was told that in all there were fourteen hundred women, and
nearly five hundred men on the island. The line of women broke now and
then as some poor creature would run out on the grass and pluck a weed
or flower, and hold it gayly up or hide it in her skirts. One waved
her hand at us, and said in tones that indicated that she was trying to
assume the voice and manner of a public speaker: "The Lord deserteth
not His chosen!" I did not know whether in her poor brain, they or we
represented the chosen who were not to be deserted. Another said gayly
and in an assumed lisp and voice of a little girl (although she must
have been past fifty), "There's papa, oh, papa, papa, papa! My papa!"
This to the gentleman who stood beside me. He smiled and waved his hand
to her. Then he said, between his teeth:

"Civilized savages! To have them _here!_"

"It don't hurt 'em," said the officer beside us. "They're incurables.
They won't any of 'em remember what they saw for ten minutes. People
don't understand crazy folks and idiots. They're the easiest cowed
people in the world. Long as they know they're watched, they'll do
whatever you tell them--this kind will. They're harmless."

"But why have them here?" I insisted. "If they are to be poisoned, why
not do it more quickly and--"

"Poisoned!" he exclaimed, astonished. "Why, if one of the attendants
was caught even striking one, he'd be dismissed quick. They get treated
well. Only it is hard to keep attendants. We can't get 'em to stay here
more than a month or so--just till they get paid. We have to go to the
raw immigrants to get them even then. Nobody else will come."

"Naturally," remarked the gentleman beside me.

"Yes, it's kind of natural. This kind of folks are hard to work with,
and the men attendants get only about seventeen to twenty dollars a
month, and the women from ten to twelve dollars."

"So the attendants of these helpless creatures are raw immigrants," I
said; "who, perhaps, do not speak English, who are constantly changing.
The water they get is from driven wells, the sights and exercise are
obtained from and in and by the dead trenches. The air they breathe is
like this, night and day, you say, and no one ever leaves alive when
once sent here."

"No one."

"Who does the work--the digging, the burying, the handling of the dead,
the carting, and the work for the insane?"

"Medium term prisoners. All these are from one to six months men,"
waving his hand over the men working below us in the horrible trench.

"Do you think they leave here with an admiration for our system of
caring for the city's dead--whether the death be social, mental, or
physical? Do they go back with a desire to reform and become like those
who devise and conduct this sort of thing?"

He laughed.

"Why, it's just a picnic for them to come up here. You can't hardly keep
'em away with a club. Of course, the same ones don't work right _here_
long; but when a fellow gets sent up to _any_ of these places, he comes
over and over until he gets ambitious to go to Sing Sing and be higher

I thought of the same information given me at the Police and Criminal
Courts a little while ago. I wondered if there might not be some flaw
somewhere in the whole reformatory and punitive system. From the time
a fourteen-year-old boy is taken up for breaking a window; sent to the
reform school, where he is herded with older and worse boys, until he
passes through the police court again,--let us say at sixteen, as a
"ten-day drunk,"--to herd again in a windowless prison van, packed close
with fifteen hardened criminals (as I saw a messenger boy of fifteen
on my way to the island), and taken where for ten days he enjoys the
society of the most abandoned; returns to town the companion of thieves;
and goes the next time for three or six months for petit larceny, then
for some graver crime, on and up. At last, when he has no more to learn
or to teach, he is given a cell or room alone until the State relieves
him of the necessity of following the course which has been mapped
out for and steadily followed by so many. He knows when he is a three
months' man where he is going at last. Has he not helped to dig the
trenches for the men who looked so hard and vile to him when he broke
that window and stood in the Police Court by their sides?

Perhaps you will ask: "Why did he not take the warning, and follow a
better course, turn the other way?"

Perchance it might be asked on the other hand--since court, and morgue,
and cemetery officials unite in the assertion that the above record is
almost universal, and that our present methods not only do not reform,
but actually prevent the reform of offenders--why this system is still
followed by the State, and if the warning has not been ample and severe
here, also.

Are we to expect greater wisdom, more far-seeing judgment and a loftier
aim in these unfortunates of society than is developed in those who
control them?

Since it is all such a dismal failure, why not plan a better way? Why
not begin at the other end of the line to keep offenders apart? Why herd
them--good, bad, and indifferent--together, in the stage of their career
when there is hope for some, at least, to reform; and begin to separate
them only when the last mile of the road is reached?

Why, if the city _must_ bury its dead in trenches and under the
conditions only half described above (because much of it is too
sickening to present), why, if cremation or some better mode of burial
is not possible--and certainly I think it is--why, at least, need the
awful, the ghastly, the inhuman combination be made of burying together
medium term criminals, imbeciles, lunatics, and thousands of corpses all
on one mere scrap of land? If a seven-foot mass of corruption exhaling
through the air and percolating through land and water must be devoted
to the dead poor of a great city, why in the name of all that is
civilized or humane, permit any living thing to be detained and poisoned
on the same bit of earth?

I saw a woman who had come to visit her mother who was one of these
poor, insane creatures. "I can't afford to keep her at home," she said,
"and then at times she gets 'snags' and acts so that people are afraid
of her, so I had to let her come here. It is kind of awful, ain't it?"

I thought it was "kind of awful," for more reasons than the poor woman
could realize, for she was so used to foul air and knew so little of
sanitary conditions that she was mercifully spared certain thoughts that
seem to have escaped the authorities also.

"It is her birthday and I brought her this," she said, showing me a
colored cookie. "She will like it. We can visit here one day each month
if we have friends."

"How many bodies do you carry each week?" I asked of the captain of the
city boat.

"About fifty," he said. But later on both he and the official on the
Island told me that there were six thousand buried here yearly, so
it will be seen that his estimate per week was less than half what it
should have been.

I looked at the stack of pine boxes, the ends of which showed from
beneath a tarpaulin on the deck.

They were stacked five deep. There were seven wee ones, hardly larger
than would be filled by a good-sized kitten.

I said: "They are so _very_ small. I don't see how a baby was put

The man to whom I spoke--a deck hand who was a "ten-day-self-committed,"
so the captain told me later--smiled a grim, sly smile and said:

"I reckon you're allowin' fer trimmin's. This kind don't get piliers and
satin linin's. It don't take much room for a baby with no trimmin's an'
mighty little clothes."

"Why are two of them dark wood and all the rest light?" I asked of the
same man.

"I reckon the folks of them two had a few cents to pay fergittin' their
baby's box stained. It kind of looks nicer to them, and when they get a
little more money, they'll come and get it dug up and put it in a grave
by itself or some other place. It seems kind of awful to some folks to
have their little baby put in amongst such a lot."

He said it all quite simply, quite apologetically, as if I might think
it rather unreasonable--this feeling that it was "kind of awful to think
of the baby in amongst such a lot."

At that time, I did not know that he was a prisoner. He showed me a
number of things about the boxes and spoke of the open cracks and knot
holes through which one could see what was inside. I declined to look
after the first glance.

"You don't mind it very much after you're used to it," he said. "Of
course, _you_ would, but I mean _us_."

I began to understand that he was a prisoner.

"When you're a prisoner, you get used to a good deal," he said, later
on, when they were unloading the bodies and some of the men looked white
and sick. "They're new to it," he explained to me. "It makes them sick
and scared; but it won't after a while."

"Why are most of them here?" I asked. "Most of them look honest--and--"

"Honest!" he exclaimed, with the first show he had made of rebellion or
resentment. "Honest! Of course most of us are honest. It is liquor does
it mostly. None of _us_ are thieves--yet!"

I noticed the "us," but still evaded putting him in with the rest.

"Why do they not let liquor alone, after such a hard lesson?"

He laughed. He had a red, bloated, but not a bad face. He was an

"Some of us can't. Some don't want to, and some--some--it is about all
some can get."

Later on, I was told that this man was honest, a good worker, and that
he was "self-committed to get the liquor out of him. He's been here
before. When he gets out, he will be drunk before he gets three blocks
away from the dock, and he'll be sent here again--or to the Island!"

"And has this system gone on for a hundred years," I asked, "without
finding some remedy?"

"Well, since the women began to take a hand, some little has been done,"
the officer replied. "They built a coffee and lodging house right near
the landing, and take returning prisoners there, and give them a chance
to work if they want to--in a broom factory they built. Some get a start
that way and if they work and are honest, they get a letter saying so
when they find places. It is only a drop in the bucket, but it helps a

"It looks a little as though, if women were to take a hand in public,
municipal, or governmental affairs, that reform, and not punishment,
might be made the object of imprisonment if imprisonment became
necessary, doesn't it?"

He laughed.

"Politics is no place for women. This they are doing is charity. That is
all very well, but they got no business meddling with city government,
and courts, and prisoners only _as_ charity."

"Yet you say that, for a hundred years, those who look after the criminal
population, thought very little of helping the men who came out, much
less did they think of beginning at the other end and trying to keep
them from going in. Women have been allowed to devise public charities,
even, for only a few years past. They had no experience in building
manufactories and conducting coffee and lodging houses; they have but
little money of their own to put into such things and yet they have
bethought them to start, in embryo, right here where the returning
convict lands, what appears to have vast possibilities as you say. Now
if this effort for the prevention of crime and want were at the other
end of the line in municipal government, don't you think it might go
even nearer the root of the matter and do more good?"

"How would you like to be a ward politician and a heeler?" he inquired,
wiping a smile away and looking at my gloves.

"I should not like it at all."

"Well, now, look at that! Of course no lady would, so--"

"Do you think it possible that the world might get on fairly comfortably
without having 'heelers' and 'ward politicians'--in the sense you
mean--in municipal or state government? And that it might be better
without such crime producers?" I added, as he began to laugh.

"You women are always visionary. Never practical. You--"

"I thought you said that the one and only really practical measure yet
taken to reduce the criminal population as it returns from the Islands
was invented and is conducted by women and--"

"You can just make up your mind that in every family of six there'll
be one hypocrite and one fool, either one of which is liable to be a
criminal, too, and the State has got to take care of 'em somehow. But
the prisons _are_ getting too full and the Almshouses and Insane Asylums
_are_ growing very large. But there is the Two Brothers' Island. I've
got to attend to my business now. Take the trip with me again some

But it seems to me, I shall not need to go again, and that no judge
or legislator would need to take the journey more than once, unless,
perchance, he took it in the person of either the hypocrite or the fool
of his family; which, let us hope, no judge and no legislator is in a
position to do.


Education, using the word in its restricted scholastic sense, is always
productive of restlessness and discontent, unless education, in its
practical relations to life, furnishes an outlet and safety valve for
the whetted and strengthened faculties. Mere mental gymnastics are
unsatisfactory after the first flush of pleasurable excitement produced
in the mind newly awakened to its own capabilities.

There seems to be something within us which demands that our knowledge
be in some way applied, and that the logic of thought find fruition in
the logic of events. The moment the laborers of the country found time
and opportunity to whet their minds, they also developed a vast and
persistent unrest--a dissatisfaction with the order of things which gave
to them the tools with which to carve a fuller, broader life, but had
not yet furnished them the material upon which they might work.
Their plane of thought was raised, their outlook was expanded, their
possibilities multiplied; but the materials to work with remained the
same. Their status and condition clashed with their new hopes and needs.
This state of things produced what we call "labor troubles," with all
their complications. Capital and labor had no contest until labor became
(to a degree) educated.

If--"in those good old days"--labor was not satisfied, it did not
know how to make the fact very clearly understood. Capital smiled and
patronized labor, and labor smiled and said it was quite content to work
for so kind a master. It was safer to do that way--in those good old
days. Then, too, so long as labor's wits had not been sharpened, so long
as the laborer had not learned the relative values of things, perhaps he
was content. Certainly he was far more so than he is to-day.

It is well that, in his present state of angry unrest, he feels that he
has but to organize and elect his own representatives to help enact just
and repeal unjust laws as they bear upon his own immediate needs. But
for this outlet to his feelings, and this hope for his own future, the
labor troubles would be troubles indeed, and every additional book read
by labor, every new schoolhouse built for labor, would but add flame to
fire. But education brings with it--when taken into practical life--a
certain sense of the responsibilities of life and of the relations of

The laborer begins to argue, "Am not I partly responsible for my own
condition? Is not my salvation in my own hands and in the hands of my
fellows? We are units in our own government. We are in the majority
numerically, and we are, therefore, at least partially responsible for
not only what we do, but for that which is done to us."

It is this feeling that sobers and steadies while it inspires the
so-called working classes to-day.

If, with their present enlightenment, ambitions, and needs, laboring
men felt themselves wholly irresponsible for the present or future
legislation, riots and lawlessness would be the inevitable result. A
sense of responsibility alone makes educational development safe either
in individuals or in classes.

Witness the truth of this in the lives of the "gilded youths" of all
countries whose sharpened wits are not steadied by, or applied in, any
useful occupation. The results are disastrous to themselves and to those
who fall under their sway or influence.

Broadened ambitions, sharpened mental capacities, developed
intellectuality, demand corresponding outlets and responsibilities.
Lacking these, education is but an added danger. Especially is this true
in a Republic where the theory of legal and political equality is held.
At the present time there are but two wholly irresponsible classes in
our republic--Indians and women.

I place the Indians first because it has recently been decided in South
Dakota that if an Indian (male) will "accept land in severalty,"
he thereby becomes a sovereign, and is henceforth presumed to have
sufficient interest in the welfare of his government and the stability
of affairs in general to entitle him to be looked upon as a desirable
citizen, capable of legislating and desiring to legislate wisely for the
public weal.

Since the government has not yet come to believe that any amount of land
in severalty entitles women to so much confidence, and since the lack
of responsibility develops in woman, as in man, a reckless and wanton
spirit, we have the spectacle of this irresponsible element taking
property laws into its own hands, and proudly destroying in public the
belongings of other people where those belongings chanced to be in
the form of beverages which these women disapproved of as articles of
merchandise and use. And we have seen, farther, the grave spectacle
of courts of law which will not or dare not enforce the law for their

The due recognition of property rights is one of the earliest
developments of personal, legal, and political responsibility. The negro
notoriously disregarded these when his own human rights and individual
responsibility were unrecognized. His desires were likely to be the
measure of your loss.

He is not the light-fingered being that he was. Mine and thine have a
new meaning for him since--for the first time in his life--"thine" has
any meaning to his one-time master.

He is also beginning to look to his ballot for his safety and to himself
to work out his future status, whereas one day his legs were his
sole dependence when trickery or blandishment failed him. Woman
still depends--where she wishes to compass an end--upon blandishment,
deception, or a type of force which she believes will not or cannot be
resented in the way it would unquestionably be resented if offered by
men. A body of respectable men in a quiet community do not calmly walk
into another man's business house, and without process of law
destroy his property. Their sense of personal and legal and political
responsibility is a most effective police force; and no matter how rabid
a prohibitionist John Smith is, he does not collect a band of otherwise
respectable men about him and proceed to destroy--with praise and prayer
as an accompaniment--the belongings of his neighbor.

No; he goes to a legal infant and a political nonexistent, and gets
her to do it if it is to be done. He knows that to her the limit of
responsibility is the verge of her desires on this question. He knows
that she recognizes no right of property in a beverage she does not
approve and a traffic she hopes to destroy. He knows that her sense
of helplessness within the law--where she has no voice--gives her that
reckless spirit of the political non-existent of all classes, which
finds its revenge in lawlessness so long as it may not hope to have a
voice in lawfulness. While woman was uneducated and wholly a dependent,
there was little danger from her. She had too much at stake, in a purely
physical sense. Then, too, she had not reasoned out the logical sequence
between the pretension that a Republic of political equals before the
law exists, while in fact one-half of that Republic has no political
status whatever and no voice in the laws they obey. Uneducated and
wholly dependent as woman was, this was safe enough. Educated, and to a
degree financially independent, as she now is, she is a menace to social
order so long as she stands without legal responsibility or political
outlet for the expression of her opinions and desires in matters of

So long as her only means of expression on the subject of the liquor
traffic is a hatchet and prayer, she will use both, and we will have
the shocking spectacle, witnessed a little over a year ago, of a court
refusing to even fine those who committed as clear and wanton an outrage
on property rights as often finds record.

The steadying sense of personal and mental responsibility can develop
only under the exercise of such responsibility. Man passed through
the stage of regulative and prohibitive thought, and learned the true
significance and value of Liberty only by its possession. By being
responsible he learned the folly and danger of undue restrictive
legislation, and the utter futility of the attempt to legislate taste,
moral sense and lofty ideals (i. e. his personal taste and ideals) into
his neighbors.

He also learned the futility and danger of lawless raids upon those who
were not of his way of thinking as to what they should eat or drink, or
wherewithal they should be clothed. Woman will have to learn the same
important lesson in the same way. She will abuse the personal rights and
liberties of others who disagree with her (now that she is educated
and has the power) unless she is steadied, given legal and political
responsibility, and held to the same account for her acts as are her
brothers. Being helpless within the law--having no means of expression
nor of making her will and opinions felt, having no voice in municipal
or governmental management--she has begun to find lawless outlet for
her newly acquired talents and intellectual activity. She is playing
the part of border "regulator" and lobbyist--two very dangerous and
degrading rôles in any case but doubly so in the hands of an educated
but unrepresented class.

It has been argued, by men who are otherwise favorable to woman
suffrage, that to grant the ballot to woman would be to yield up, upon
the altar of fanaticism and narrow personal desires, much of the liberty
for which man has fought and struggled. They argue that women do not
stop to consider whether they have the right to interfere with what
others do, but that they only ask whether they like the thing done.

The argument goes further and asserts that women only want the ballot
that they may restrict the liberty of other people, pass prohibitory,
sumptuary, and religious laws; and that the ballot in the hands of
woman means a return to a union of church and state, and the meddlesome,
personal legislation of the type known to us as Blue Laws.

It is no doubt true that there are many half-developed thinkers among
women who demand the ballot, who desire political power for these petty
reasons. It is also undoubtedly true that many of these would travel the
same road trod by their fathers before them, and learn political wisdom
slowly and only after a struggle with their own narrow ideas of liberty,
which means their own liberty to restrict and regulate the liberty of
other people.

It may be readily admitted, I say, that woman will make some of the same
mistakes, political, religious, and sociological, that have been made by
men in the reach after a better way. But what has taught thoughtful men
wisdom? What has broadened the conception of political liberty? What
taught men the danger and folly of religious and restrictive (sumptuary)
legislation? What but experience and responsibility?

Nothing so steadies the hasty and narrow judgment as power, coupled with
the recognition that responsibility for the use of that power is sure to
be demanded.

Many a man will advise, as secret lobbyist, what he would not do in open
legislature. Many a man in private life asserts that "If I were judge
or president," or what not, so and so should not be done. When the power
and responsibility once rests upon him, his outlook is broadened, and he
recognizes that he would endanger a far more sacred principle were he to
adhere to his plan.

This holds true with woman. With her newly acquired intellectual and
financial power she is seeking an outlet for her capacities. She sees
certain municipal and governmental ills. Having no direct power of
expression, no legal, political status in a country which claims to have
no political classes, she does what all disqualified, irresponsible,
dissatisfied classes of men have done before her when deprived of equal
opportunity with their fellows; she seeks by subterfuge (indirection)
or lawlessness to compass that which she may not attempt lawfully and
which, had she the steadying influence and discipline of responsibility
and power, she would not do.

Inexperience, coupled with irresponsibility and a lax sense of the
rights of others, always did and always will produce tyrants.

Unite this naturally produced and inevitable social and political
condition and outlook with the developed mental capacities and
consequent restless, undirected, and unabsorbed ambition of the women of
to-day, and we have a dangerous lobby--working in secret by indirection
and without open responsibility for their words, deed, or influence--to
handle in our Republic.


_Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in introducing the speaker said: "The
first speaker of the evening is Helen Gardener, who is to give us an
address on the Brain. You know the last stronghold of the enemy is
scientific. Men have decided that we must not enter the colleges and
study very hard; must not have the responsibility of government laid on
our heads, because our brains weigh much less than the brains of men.
Dr. Hammond, of New York, has published several very elaborate articles
in the Popular Science Monthly to prove this fact. But Helen Gardener
has spent about fourteen months in investigation, and has conferred with
twenty able specialists upon the subject, and will give us to-night the
result of her investigation. She will show to us that it is impossible
to prove any of the positions that Dr. Hammond has maintained._"

Read before the International Council of Women in Washington, 1888.

Ladies and Gentlemen:--The political conditions of woman are very
greatly influenced to-day by what is taught to her and about her
by those two conservative moulders of public opinion--clergymen and
physicians. Our law-makers have long since ceased to merely sneer at
the simple claim of human rights by one-half of humanity, and for refuge
they have flown to priest and practitioner, who do not fail them in this
their hour of great tribulation. It is true that men, most of whom never
enter a church, have grown somewhat ashamed to press the theological
arguments against the equality of the sexes, and to these the medical
argument has become an ever-present help in their time of trouble.

In the early days woman was under the absolute sway of club and fist.
Then came censer and gown, swinging hell in the perfumed depths of the
one and hiding in the folds of the other, thumb-screw and fagot for the
woman who dared to think. At last the theory of the primal curse upon
her head has grown weaker. Mankind struggles to be less brutal and
more just. Manly men are beginning to blush when they hear repeated
the well-worn fable of the fall of man through woman's crime and
her inferiority of position and opportunity, justified by priest
and pleader, because of legends inherited from barbarians--mental
deformities worthy of their parentage.

When religious influence and dogma began to lose their terrors, legal
enactments were slowly modified in woman's favor and hell went out
of fashion. Then Conservatism, Ignorance, and Egotism, in dismay and
terror, took counsel together and called in medical science, still in
its infancy, to aid in staying the march of progress which is inevitable
to civilization and so necessary to anything like a real Republic.
Equality of opportunity began to be denied to woman, for the first
time, upon natural and so-called scientific grounds. She was pronounced
physically and mentally incapable, because of certain anatomical
conditions, and she must be prevented--for her own good and that of the
race _here_--from competition with her mental and physical superiors.

It was no longer her soul, but her body, that needed saving from
herself. Her thirst for knowledge the clergy declared had already damned
the souls of a very large majority of mankind--in a hereafter known only
to them. The same vicious tendency, the doctors echoed, will be the ruin
of the physical bodies of the race in this world, as we are prepared
to prove. The case began to look hopeless again. Opportunity must
be denied, these doctors say, because capacity does not exist. Where
capacity seems to exist, it is, it must be, at the expense of individual
health and future maternal capabilities.

As a person, she has no status with these consistent believers in "equal
rights to all mankind." As a potential mother only, can she hope for
consideration either by religious or medical theorist. This has been a
difficult combination to meet. Few who cared to contest their verdict,
possessed the bravery to fearlessly face the religious dictators, and
fewer still had the anatomical and anthropological information to risk
a fight on a field which assumed to be held by those who based all
of their arguments upon scientific facts, collected by microscope and
scales and reduced to unanswerable statistics.

The priest, reinforced by the doctor, promised a long and bitter
struggle, on new grounds, to those who fought for simple justice to
the individual, aside from her sex relations; who wished for neither
malediction nor mercy; those who claim only the right of a unit to
enjoy the common heritage untrammeled by superstition and artificial
difficulties. They do not ask to be helped--only not to be hindered.
They had hailed science as their friend and ally; and behold,
pseudo-science adopted theories, invented statistics, and published
personal prejudices as demonstrated fact. All this has done a vast deal
of harm to the cause of woman.

Educators, theorists, and politicians readily accept the data and
statistics of prominent physicians, and, in good faith, make them a
basis of action, while the victims of their misinformation have been
helpless. It is, therefore, very important to learn, if possible,
just how far medical science and anthropology have really discovered
demonstrable natural sex differences in the brains of men and women, and
how far the usual theories advanced are gratuitous assumptions, founded
upon legend and fed by mental habit and personal egotism.

I began an investigation into this matter a little while ago by
questioning the arguments and logic of the medical pseudo-scientists
from their own basis of facts. I ended by questioning the facts
themselves, upon the evidence furnished me by leading members of the
profession, some of whom are known in this country and abroad as leaders
in original investigation as brain students and anatomists. None of
these gentlemen knew the aim or motive of my inquiries, and they gave
me all the information to be had on this subject without bias and quite
freely. The specialists and brain students to whom my questions were
submitted, were of widely different religious beliefs, which beliefs,
of course, colored their theories as well as their motives, either
consciously or unconsciously.

But the profession has reason to be proud of the ability of the most of
these men, no less than of their sincerity and willingness to confess to
ignorance of facts where proof was lacking. The abler the man the more
willing was he to do this. One or two tried to explain, and, as it
seemed to me, to force an agreement between scientific facts which they
did possess, and their inherited belief in "revelation." Others, who did
not themselves recognize it, performed the same mental gymnastics from
mere force of habit, and gave a black eye to their facts in preserving
a blind eye to their faith. But in the following results are to be found
the opinions of eminent medical men, some of whom are Roman Catholic,
some Protestant, and some of the negative systems of religion. So far as
I know, not one is a believer in "Woman Suffrage," nor even in the more
radical but less comprehensive measures for her development. Not one,
who touched directly upon the subject, believed in sex equality in its
entirety or had not personal prejudice and long-cherished sentiments
opposed to it, if his reason approved. By some of them this was frankly
stated, even while giving facts in her favor. Not more than one, so far
as I know, is "agnostic" in religion or a believer in evolution in its

I have mentioned these latter points, because I found in this line
of investigation, as in all others, that a man's religious leanings
inevitably color and modify all of his opinions, and govern his entire
mental outlook. They even add bitterness to his "jalop" and fizz in his
"seltzer". If he absolutely believe in the "Garden of Eden" story
he deals with "Adam" as a creature after "God's own heart and in his
image," and therefore capable and deserving of all opportunity
and development for and because of himself, and to promote his own
happiness. "Eve," of course, receives due attention as a physical,
anatomical specimen, "with intuitions"--a mere bone or rib of
contention, as it were, between man and man. The more orthodox the man
the bonier the rib. The more literal and consistent his faith the less
likely is he to deal with woman as an intellectual being, capable of
and entitled to the same or as liberal, mental, social, and financial
opportunities or rights as are universally conceded in this country to
be the birthright of man, and quite beyond farther controversy in
his case. Evidence in her favor which cannot be evaded, must be
overwhelming, indeed, then, if an investigator starts out handicapped
with the theory of "revelation" as a part of his mental equipment, and
with the "sphere of woman" formulated for him by the ancient Hebrews.

I went to the men whom the doctors themselves told me were the best
authority to be found on the subject of brain anatomy and microscopy.
One of these men, Dr. E. C. Spitzka, of New York, was referred to by
physicians of all schools of practice as undoubtedly the best informed
man in America, and second to none in the world, in this branch of the
profession. They, one and all, told me that what he could not tell me
himself on this subject, or could not tell me where to find, could not
be of the slightest importance.

I have been asked to tell you just what I started out to learn, and how
far I succeeded. But before I do this it may not be out of place to tell
you an anecdote of my experience in this undertaking: I went personally
with my questions to about twenty of the leading physicians of New
York. [I had them submitted in other ways to many more in this and other
cities. I got written communications from the Old World as well as the
New.] Nearly every one of these twenty, after very kindly telling me
what he himself knew and what he believed on the subject, referred me
to the same man as the final appeal; but not one of them was willing to
introduce me to him. They would introduce me to anybody and everybody
else, but they did not like to risk sending me to him. He was, they
said, utterly impatient of ignorance, and might treat me with scant
courtesy. He would very likely tell me flatly that he could not waste
time on so trivial a matter--that I and everybody else ought to know all
about "sex in brain."

Now, this is a secret--I would not have it get out for a good deal. It
took me a long while to get my courage up to go to that man without an
introduction--a thing I did not do with any of the others. I finally,
with fear and trembling, made up my mind to learn what he knew on this
subject or perish in the attempt. So I took my life in my hands, put on
my best gown--I had previously discovered that even brain anatomists are
subject to the spell of good clothes--and went. I fully expected to be
reduced to mere pulp before I left; but he listened quite patiently,
asked me a few questions as to why I had come to him; told me to read
him my questions; asked me sharply, "Who wrote those questions?" I said
meekly, "I did." He looked at me critically, wrote something on a card,
and dismissed me. I was uncertain whether, he had been so kind in his
manner, because he considered me a harmless lunatic or not. Once in the
street I read the card. I was to call again when he could give me more

I went not once, but many times. I devoted some months to brain anatomy
and anthropology. In his laboratory he had brains from those of a mouse
to those of the largest whale on record. He showed me the peculiarities
of brains as shown by microscope and scales. He looked up points in
foreign journals to which I had not access. In short, he did all he
could to aid me; and he said that no such investigation as I was trying
to learn about had ever yet been made, although no fair record of the
difference of sex in brain, of which we hear so much, could possibly
be made without it. He was delightfully frank, earnest, and thoroughly
honest. He knew--and, what is better, he was willing to tell--where
knowledge stopped and guessing began; a point sadly confused, I found,
by even prominent members of the profession. "I do not know," was a hard
sentence to get from a doctor so long as he was under the impression
that others of his profession would know. "I do not know; nobody knows,"
came freely enough from the man who was sure of the boundaries of
investigation, who recognized the vast difference between theories
and proof. From him, and through him, I collected material that is of
intense interest and importance to woman in this stage of the movement
for her elevation.

It is only right that I say here that I am of opinion that he does not
himself believe in the equality of the sexes, but he is too thoroughly
scientific to allow his hereditary bias to color his statements of facts
on this or any subject. In the hands of a man who has arrived at that
point of mental poise and dignity, our case is safe, no matter what his
sentiments may be. Such men do not go to their emotions for premises
when it comes to a statement of scientific facts. There are writers on
this subject who do.

As you all know, any statement calmly and persistently made is
reasonably sure to be accepted as true, even by its victims. Frequency
of iteration passes as proof. Even thoughtful men, after spending years
of time in trying to explain why a thing is true, often end with the
discovery that it is not true, after all. We are all familiar with the
story of the wrangle of the philosophers as to why a vessel containing
water weighed no more with a fish weighing a pound in it than it did
after the fish was removed. After long and acrimonious debate over the
principle of philosophy involved, some one bethought him to weigh it,
and, of course, discovered that no unfamiliar principle was involved,
since it was a simple misstatement as to facts.

The assumptions of "divine rights" by kings and priests stood as
unquestioned facts for centuries by those who were the victims of both.
The "divine right" of men rests still on the same bare-faced fraud, and
is simply the last of this interesting trinity to die, and it naturally
dies hard, as its fellows did. If a charlatan loudly asserts that he can
do a certain thing, no matter how unlikely that thing is, if he insists
that he has done it often, he will find many believers who will spend
much time in an attempt to explain how he does it, while only the few
will think to question first if he does it.

Upon this basis of calm assumption on the one side, and credulous
acceptance on the other, has grown up a very general belief that there
are great and well-defined natural anatomical differences between the
brains of the sexes of the human race; that these differences are well
known to the medical practitioner or anatomist, and that they plainly
indicate inferiority of capacity in the female brain, which is
structural, while, strangely enough, no one argues that this is the case
in the lower animals. It therefore occurred to me to question--admitting
that the microscope and scales really do show the differences to exist
in adults--whether it would not be fair to assume, at least, that they
are not natural and necessary sex differences, but that they are due to
difference of opportunity and environment, and, under like conditions,
would be produced between members of the same sex; that since this
superiority of brain in the male sex is said to appear in the human
race only, where alone, in all nature, superior opportunities and
environments are held as a sex right and condition by the males, that
the so-called "superiority of structure" is simply better development of
the equally capable but restricted brain of the other sex.

I proposed to test this by an appeal to the brains of infants. And my
assumption although not new, appeared to be borne out by the accepted,
though unproven theory, that the brains of the men and women are nearer
alike the lower we go into the human scale. This assumption is clearly
based upon the idea that where the mental opportunities of the men and
women are nearer equal the physical results are also similar. Indeed,
Topinard plainly states this fact in his Anthropology. He says: "The
reason that the brain of woman is lighter than that of man is that she
has less cerebral activity to exercise in her sphere of duty. In former
times it was relatively larger in the department of Lozère, because then
the woman and man mutually shared the burdens of the daily labor. The
truth is that the weight of the brain increases with the use we make
of it." Since women are not given diversified and stimulating mental
employment, they can not be expected to show the results of such
training on the brain itself.

"Of the physiology of the brain comparatively little is known," says Dr.
McDonald, author of "Criminology."

I was started on my work in this matter by several articles written by
the boldest of the medical men in this country, who is the leader of
the medical party which claims to be opposed to the educational and
political advancement of women because of the inevitable injury to
her physical constitution. The writings of such a man, aided by the
circulation and prestige of the leading journals of the country,
which publish them as authoritative, must inevitably influence school
directors, voters, and legislators, and go far to crystalize the belief
that facts are well known to the medical profession, with which it would
be dangerous to trifle, when the truth is that the positive knowledge on
the subject is not sufficient at this moment to form even an intelligent
guess upon. In spite of this fact the well-known physician of whom I
speak, Dr. Wm. A. Hammond, reiterates in these articles all of the old,
and adds one or two new arguments to prove that woman should not be
allowed to develop what brain she has, because she possesses very little
and even that little is of inferior quality.

Professor Romanes, who is said by many to stand second only to Herbert
Spencer in his branch of science, has also recently published a very
extensive paper on mental differences of the sexes and the proper
education of woman, which is, unfortunately, but most likely honestly,
based upon this same assumption, under the belief that it was a
demonstrated fact. His paper has been very widely copied in spite of its
extreme length, and the fact that the same journals "absolutely can
not find space" for even a moderately long one on the other side. The
editors say, "The public is not interested in it"--that is, in its
correction. I mention these two men not because they are peculiar
in, but because they are honored representatives of, the so-called
scientific school of objectors to human equality, and claim to base the
right of male supremacy upon important scientific facts.

Of course all this is an old assumption and as such has been dealt with
before. But Dr. Hammond now boldly asserts that these differences are
easily discoverable by microscope and scale, and that they are natural,
necessary sex differences. He claims: (1.) That woman's brain is
inferior to man's in size and quality, and, therefore, in possibility.
(2.) That these marks of inferiority are natural and potential, and not
produced by environment. (3.) That they are easily recognizable in the
brain mass itself. (4.) That in consequence of these natural organic
and fundamental differences the female brain is incapable of, first,
accuracy; second, sustained or abstract thought; third, unbiased
judgment (judicial fairness); fourth, the accomplishment of any really
first-class or original work in the fields of science, art, politics,
invention, or even literature. He points out the great danger to woman
herself, and to the race, as her children, if she is allowed to attempt
those things for which the structure of her brain shows her to be

From this outlook it is easy to see that the nonprofessional voter, the
school director, and the legislator might really feel it to be his duty
to protect woman against her own ambition. It is in this way that the
assertions of such men can, and do, cause the greatest injury to women.
There are a number of other indictments; but for the present let us
examine these. First, in the matter of size, the doctor concedes that
the relative size and weight of the brain in the sexes is about the
same, slightly in woman's favor, which he says does not count; although,
when he finds this same difference between men, as between higher and
lower races, he argues that it does count for a great deal. But in the
dilemma to which this seemed to reduce him in proving his case, he says:
"Numerous observations show beyond doubt that the intellectual power
does not depend upon the weight of the brain relative to that of the
body so much as it depends upon absolute brain weight." Now, if this
were the case, an elephant would out-think any of us, and the whale,
whose intellectual achievements have never been looked upon as
absolutely incendiary (if we except Jonah's friend), would rank the
greatest man on record, and have brain enough left to furnish material
for a fair-sized female seminary.

The average human male brain is said to weigh from 1,300 to 1,400
grammes, and even a very young whale furnishes 2,312 grammes of
"intellect-producing substance," as the doctor felicitously terms it,
while the brain of a large whale weighed in 1883 tipped the beam at
6,700 grammes. Truly, then, if absolute brain weight and not relative
weight is the test, here was a "mute inglorious Milton," indeed. Almost
any elephant is several Cuviers in disguise, or perhaps an entire
medical faculty.

The doctor says: "The female brain, however, is not only smaller than
that of man, but it is different in structure, and this fact involves
much more as regards the character of the mental faculties than does the
element of size." Again he says: "Thus accurate measurements show that
the anterior portion of the brain, comprising the frontal lobes, in
which the highest intellectual faculties re side, is much more developed
in man than in woman, and this not only as regards its size, but its
convolutions also. Now, the part of the brain which is especially
concerned in the evolution of mind is the gray matter, and this is
increased or diminished in accordance with the number and complexity
of the convolutions. The frontal lobes contain a greater amount of gray
cortical matter than any other part of the brain, and they are, as we
have seen, larger in man than in woman."

Accepting these sweeping statements for the moment--although many of
them are questioned by the highest authority--would it not be fair to
test the case as to whether this difference in adults is fundamental and
pre-natal, or whether it is the result of outside artificial influences,
by an appeal to the brain of infants. If the brains of one hundred
infants (each child weighing ten pounds) were examined, would the brains
of the fifty males be distinguishable from those of the fifty females?
In other words, when the weight of the body, the age, and other
conditions are the same as to health, parentage, etc., and before the
artificial means of development, educational stimulus and opportunity
are applied to the one and withheld from the other, could the sex be
determined by the difference in brain, weight, shape, size, quality, or
convolutions? That would be the test, although it would not allow for
the ages of hereditary dwarfage of the one, and healthy exercise of the
brains of the other sex; but, as an opening, I was willing to stand on
that test. It was in pursuance of this idea that I caused the following
questions to be submitted to a large number of the leading brain
students of America, went myself somewhat into the study of
anthropology, and collected from several countries certain bits of
information as to just how much basis there is for all this cry about
the difference in men's and women's brains.

Being a matter of heads, I wanted to know how much was "cry" and how
much was "wool."

These are the questions submitted to the doctors, brain anatomists and
microscopists at the outset of my task: (1.) Is it known to the medical
profession whether in infants (of the same age, size, health, and
inheritance at birth) the quantity, quality, and specific gravity of
the gray matter differs in the sexes? Does the relative amount of gray
matter differ? (2.) Do the convolutions? Form? Actual amount of gray
matter, differ? (3.) Given the brain, only, of a number of infants
of the same age, weight, etc., could the sex be determined by the
difference in shape, quantity, quality, and convolutions? (4.) If so,
are the differences more or less marked in infants than in adults? Is
the frontal region of the brain larger and more developed in male than
in female infants? Is the difference as marked as in adults? (5.) Does
use, training, etc., develop gray matter, change texture, size, shape,
etc., of the brain mass, or are these determined and fixed at birth? The
same as to convolutions? (6.) Does use have to do with the location of
the fissure of Rolando, or is that fixed at birth? In an uneducated man
would there be as much of the brain in front of this fissure as in a
man of trained and developed mind? (7.) Does use or development of the
mental powers change the specific gravity of the brain mass? Would it be
the same in a great scholar as in a common laborer of the same general
size and health? (8.) Is there unanimity of opinion on these questions?
Are the facts known or only conjectured? (9.) If ten boys of the same
weight, health, and general inheritance were taken in infancy and five
of them subjected for fifty years to the conditions of a street or farm
laborer, while the other five received all the advantages of the life of
a scholar, would the ten brains present the same relative likenesses at
death as at birth? Would opportunity and mental exercise make a change
in the brains of the five students that would be discoverable by
microscope and scales?

In reply to the last question, the universal opinion was that it would
be fair to assume that such difference would be perceptible. But one
of the replies was that these points must necessarily remain only
conjectural, since we can not do as the Scotch villager who shows to
a wondering public the remains of a famous criminal, with this bit of
history: "This is the skull and brain of a man who was hanged, at the
age of forty, for murdering his entire family. This is the skull and
brain of the same man at the age of seven. You can readily trace in the
boy the man that was to be." Since it might be looked upon with disfavor
if we were to attempt to brain people from time to time in an effort
to discover the effects of culture upon the fissure of Rolando, we
must base all such arguments upon reason and analogy. Is it not a fair
presumption, since reason and analogy lead to this universally accepted
theory as between man and man, that the same causes would produce the
same results when applied between man and woman? Strangely enough, this
is not held to be the case by these acute reasoners against sex equality
in brain.

But to illustrate once more the necessity of questioning facts first and
the reasons for them afterward, I am assured by the most profound and
capable students of these branches of science, that if such differences
exist in the brains of infants as are indicated by my questions, it is
not known to those who make a specialty of brain study; but, upon
the contrary, the differences between individuals of the same sex--in
adults, at least--are known to be much more marked than any that are
known to exist between the sexes. Take the brains of the two poets,
Byron and Dante. Byron's weighed 1,807 grms., while Dante's weighed only
1,320 grms., a difference of 487 grms.; or take two statesmen, Cromwell
and Gambetta. Cromwell's brain weighed 2,210 grms., which, by the way,
is the greatest healthy brain on record--although Cuvier's is usually
quoted as the largest, a part of the weight of his was due to disease,
and if a diseased or abnormal brain is to be taken as the standard,
then the greatest on record is that of a negro, criminal idiot--while
Gambetta's was only 1,241 grms., a difference of 969 grms. Surely it
would not be held because of this, that Gambetta and Dante should have
been denied the educational and other advantages which were the natural
right of Byron and Cromwell. Yet it is upon this very ground, by this
very system of reasoning, that it is proposed to deny women equal
advantages and opportunities, although the difference in brain weight
between man and woman is claimed to be only 100 grms., and even this
does not allow for difference in body weight, and is based upon a system
of averages, which is neither complete nor accurate. There is, then, not
only no proof that the sex of infants could be distinguished by their
brains, but all of the evidence which does exist on this subject is
wholly against the assumption.

Up to this point in my investigation I learned only what I had fully
expected to learn. At the next step, and in connection with it, I
met with information which seems to me to offer an opportunity for
reflection upon the matter of mental--not to say verbal--accuracy in the
sex which does not wear "bangs." In the papers referred to, Dr. Hammond
asserted, and no male voice or pen has seen fit to publicly correct him,
that "it is only necessary to compare an average male with an average
female brain to perceive at once how numerous and striking are the
differences existing between them." He then submits a formidable list of
striking differences which include these: "The male brain is larger, its
vertical and transverse diameters are greater proportionately, the
shape is quite different, the convolutions are more intricate, the sulci
deeper, the secondary fissures more numerous, and the gray matter of the
corresponding parts of the brain decidedly thicker."

But as if all these were not enough to enable the merest novice to
distinguish the one from the other, even if he were near-sighted, he
offers these reinforcements: "It is quite certain, as the observations
of the writer show, that the specific gravity of both the white and gray
matter of the brain is greater in man than in woman." This would seem
to leave woman without a reef to hang to; for if by any chance her brain
did not fall short in gray matter, the specific gravity of the rest of
it would enable the doctor to ticket her as accurately as though she
were to appear with ear-rings and train in a ballroom. Of this point
this is what the leading brain anatomist in America wrote me: "The only
article recognized by the profession as important and of recent date
which takes this theory as a working basis is by Morselli, and he is
compelled to make the sinister admission, while asserting that the
specific gravity is less in the female, that with old age and with
insanity the specific gravity increases." If this is the case, I
don't know that women need sigh over their short-coming in the item of
specific gravity. There appear to be two very simple methods open to
them by which they may emulate their brothers in the matter of specific
gravity if they so desire. One of these is certain, if they live long
enough, and the other--well, there is no protective tariff on insanity.
But to finally clinch his argument, Dr. Hammond continues: "The question
is, therefore, not so much that of quantity" (which appears to collide
with his statement that it was the "absolute brain weight" which was
the sublime test, and drops my whale into the water again), "as it is of
quality. The brain of woman is different from that of man in structure."

Again I applied my test. Does all this difference of structure and
quality appear in the infant or only in the adult brains? Since it is
held that these very differences are the ones produced by education and
properly diversified mental stimulus--as between man and man--is it not
fair to assume that like causes produce like results as between man
and woman? Since woman has never had the advantages of these
brain-developing processes, is it not fair to assume, if all these
differences do exist, that it is less a matter of natural and
characteristic inferiority than of environment and opportunity, unless
it exists in the same ratio in infants? That would be the test as to
whether these are natural, necessary, pre-natal sex characteristics, or
whether they are developed by external circumstances and environment.
The physical sex characteristics, which are natural, are as readily
distinguished at birth as at maturity.

But after a woman's waist and brain are put into tight laces and shaped
to fit the fashion, it is rather a poor time to judge of her natural
figure, either physical or mental. There was but one reply to my
questions. It was this:

"No such test has ever been made with the brains of infants, and the
wildest imagination could only stand appalled at the effort. It would
be impossible to distinguish the male from the female child by these
'radical, natural, easily-discovered sex differences' in brain." I held,
then, that the inference was perfectly legitimate that the great and
numerous differences in the brains of adults, in so far as that was not,
also, a mere flight of fancy, was not natural, pre-natal, and necessary,
but that it was certainly fair to assume it to be produceable, by
outside measures or environment, and that it could be no more natural
nor desirable, for the digestive organs and the brain of one sex to be
decreased and deformed by pressure, than it is for those of the other.

But I confess I was wholly unprepared for the final result of my last
question and argument. I discovered that these differences are not only
not known to exist in infants, but that in spite of all the talk, the
pathetic warnings, and the absolute statements to the contrary, that in
a like number of adult brains such differences are not only not to be
"perceived at once," but that if Dr. Hammond or anybody else will agree
to allow me to furnish him with twenty well-preserved adult brains to
be marked in cipher, so that he will not have his information before he
makes his test, he will find that his "numerous, striking, and easily
perceived" differences will not appear with any relation to sex, so far
as is known at the present time. I made this offer to him through the
_Popular Science Monthly_ some six months ago. Up to date the twenty
brains I offered him to try on have not been called for.

Upon the contrary there will be found greater difference between
individuals of the same sex than any known to exist between the sexes
in any and all of these test characteristics; that, in the main, since
women weigh less than men, it would be pretty safe to guess that most of
the lighter brains belonged to the women, but that this test would prove
wrong in many cases, and that the others would fail utterly.

I asked them why they did not correct the general impression which men
of their profession had given out in this matter. They said they did not
see the use of it; what difference did it make, anyhow? And then it was
a good enough working theory. I said, "But suppose it worked the other
way, do you think that you would say that it made no difference, and
that a working theory that worked all one way was a safe or an honest
one to put forth as an established fact?"

"Well, we are willing to tell you the truth about it," they said; "the
fact is, it is all theory as yet; there has not been a sufficient number
of tests made to warrant the least dogmatism in the matter; what more
can you ask of us than that?"

What indeed?

I made another discovery; it was this: The brain of no remarkable woman
has ever been examined! Woman is ticketed to fit the hospital subjects
and tramps, the unfortunates whose brains fall into the hands of the
profession, as it were, by mere accident; while man is represented by
the brains of the Cromwells, Cuviers, Byrons and Spurzheims. By this
method the average of men's brains is carried to its highest level in
the matter of weight and texture; while that of women is kept at its
lowest, and even then there is only claimed 100 grammes difference! It
is with such statistics as these, it is with such dissimilar material,
that they and we are judged.

Finally, I discovered that there is absolutely no definite information
on the subject now in the hands of the medical profession which can
justify the least show of dogmatism in the matter; or that, if it were
on the other side, would not be explained entirely away in five minutes,
and there would not be the least question as to the desirability of the
explanation, either. They told me not only that they did not know,
but that no one could possibly know upon the statistics and with the
instruments in the hands of the profession to-day.

This being the case, perhaps it will be just as well for women
themselves to take a hand in the future investigations and statements,
and I sincerely hope that the brains of some of our able women may
be preserved and examined by honest brain students, so that we may
hereafter have our Cuviers and Web sters and Cromwells. And I think I
know where some of them can be found without a search-warrant--when Miss
Anthony, Mrs. Stanton, and some others I have the honor to know, are
done with theirs. Until that is done, no honest or fair comparison is
possible. At present there is too great a desire on the part of these
large-brained gentlemen, like Dr. Hammond, to look upon themselves and
their brains as "infant industries," entitled to and in need of a
very high protective tariff, to prevent anything like a fair and equal
competition with the feminine product.

But the fact is that we have heard so much on the one side about woman's
physical and mental short-comings, and on the other side, from our
prohibition friends and others, so much of the moral delinquencies of
men, that it seems to me that we are in danger of believing both. And
I, for one, am beginning to feel a good deal like Mark Twain's Irishman,
whenever I hear either one discussed. He had been having a controversy
with another man, and, as a final "clincher" to his side of the
argument, said, with emphasis: "Now, I don't want to hear anything more
from you on that subject but silence--and mighty little of that."

Allow me to read the closing paragraph of a letter to me from Dr. E. C.
Spitzka, the celebrated New York brain specialist, to whom I am greatly
indebted for much valuable information:

"You may hold me responsible for the following declaration: That any
statement to the effect that an observer can tell by looking at a brain,
or examining it microscopically, whether it belonged to a female or a
male subject, is not founded on carefully-observed facts. The balance
and the compasses show slight differences; the weight of the male brain
being greater, and the angle formed by the sulcus of Rolando, forming
a larger expansion of the frontal lobes; but both these points of
differences have been determined by the method of averages. They do not
necessarily apply to the individual brain and hence can not be utilized
to determine the sex of a single brain, except by those who are willing
to take the chances of guessing. The assertion that the microscope
reveals definite characteristic points of difference between the male
and female brain is utterly incorrect. No such difference has ever been
demonstrated, nor do I think it will be by more elaborate methods than
those we now possess. Numerous female brains exceed numerous male brains
in absolute weight, in complexity of convolutions, and in what brain
anatomists would call the nobler proportions. So that he who takes
these as his criteria of the male brain may be grievously mistaken
in attempting to assert the sex of a brain dogmatically. If I had one
hundred female brains and one hundred male brains together, I should
select the one hundred containing the largest and best developed brains
as probably containing fewer female brains than the remaining one
hundred. More than this no cautious, experienced brain anatomist would
venture to declare."


Ladies and Gentlemen:--If it were not often tragic and always
humiliating, it would be exceedingly amusing to observe the results of a
method of thought and a civilization which has proceeded always upon the
idea that man is the race and that woman is merely an annex to him and
because of his desires, needs and dictum.

Strangely enough, the bigotry or sex bias and pride does not carry this
theory below the human animal. Among scientists and evolutionists, and,
indeed, even among the various religious explanations of the source and
cause of things, the male and female of all species of animals, birds
and insects come into life and tread its paths together and as equals.
The male tiger does not assume to teach his mate what her "sphere" is,
and the female hippopotamus is supposed to have sufficient brain
power of her own to enable her to live her own life and plan her own
occupations, decide upon her own needs and generally regulate her own
existence, without being compelled to call upon the gentleman of
her family in particular, and all of the gentlemen of her species in
general, to decide for her when she is doing the proper thing. The laws
of their species are not made and executed by one sex for the other,
and the same food, sun, covering, educational and general conduct and
opportunities of life which open to the one sex are equally open
and free for the other. No protective tariff is put upon masculine
prerogative to enable him to control all the necessaries of life for
both sexes, to assure to him all the best opportunities, occupations,
education and results of achievement which is the common need of their
kind. In short, the female is in no way his subordinate.

In captivity it is the female which has been, as a rule, most prized,
best cared for and preserved. In the barnyard, field and stable alike,
it is deemed wise to sell or kill most of the males. They are looked
upon as good food, so to speak, but not as useful citizens. What they
add to the world is not thought so much of--their capacities for
the future are less valued than are those of the other sex. Even the
man-made, religious legends bring all of these animals into life in
pairs. Neither has precedence of the other. Neither is subject to the

But when it comes to the human animal--the final blossom of creative
thought, as religionists word it, or of universal energy, as scientists
put it--the male, for the first time, becomes the whole idea.

A helpmate for him is an after-thought, and according to man's teaching
up to the present time, an after-thought only half matured and very
badly executed. In spite of all the practice on other pairs--one of each
sex--it remained for the Almighty, or nature, to make the mistake (for
the first time) of creating the human race with one of its halves a mere
"annex" to the other. A subject. A subordinate. Without brains to do its
own thinking, without judgment to be its own guide. This blunder is not
made with any other pair. In the case of all other animals each sex has
its own brain power with which it directs its own affairs, makes its own
laws of conduct, and so preserves its own individuality, its personal
liberty, its freedom of action and of development.

I am not ignorant of, nor do I forget, the scientific fact that in
nature among ants, birds and beasts there are tribes and communities
where some are slaves or are subject to others; but what I do assert
is this, that this is not a sex distinction or degradation. It is not
infrequently the males who are the subjects in these communities where
liberty is not equal and where, therefore, the very basic principal of
equality is impossible or unknown. And did it ever occur to you that
a community or a people which recognizes in its fundamental laws and
customs--in its very forms of expression--that it is right to preserve
inequality of opportunity, of education, of emolument and of conduct has
yet to learn the meaning of the words "liberty" and "justice?"

Nowhere in all nature is the mere fact of sex--and that the
race-producing sex--made a reason for fixed inequality of liberty,
of subjugation, of subordination and of determined inferiority of
opportunity in education, in acquirement, in position--in a word, in
freedom. Nowhere until we reach man!

Here, where for the first time in nature there enter artificial social
conditions and needs, these artificial demands coupled with the great
fact of maternity (everywhere else in nature absolutely under its
own control), maternity under sex subjection, linked with financial
dependence upon the one not so burdened, has fixed this subordinate
status upon that part of the race which is the producer of the race.
This fact alone is enough to account for the slow, the distorted, the
diseased and the criminal progress of humanity.

Subordinates cannot give lofty character. Servile temperaments cannot
blossom into liberty-loving, liberty-giving descendants. Many of the
lower animals destroy their young if they are born in captivity. They
demand that maternity shall be free. Free from man's conditions or
captivity, as it always has been free from the tyranny of sex control in
their own species. *

     * While reading the proof for this book this corroborative
     and interesting illustration appeared in the New York World
     of date June 24:

     The tragedy which has been expected to occur any time at the
     Zoo was enacted yesterday, when Alice, the lioness who gave
     birth to three whelps on Wednesday morning, ate one and
     killed another. The third was only rescued by strategy.
     Animals never kill their young in their wild state, except
     the male lion, from whom the female hides the young. In
     captivity it's a common thing.

     Keeper Downey first discovered the deed, and when the
     Director arrived Alice was just finishing one of her
     offspring. Another lay dead in the corner and the third had
     crawled away and was crying pitifully. Director Smith had
     the door raised which leads into another cage and Alice was
     coaxed inside. Then the door was let down and Keepers Downy
     and Snyder caught the only survivor and secured the body of
     the other. It was a dangerous proceeding, as Alice was
     terribly angry and beat her great body against the thick
     iron bars.

     The dead cub was sent to the Museum of Natural History, and
     after a good deal of skirmishing around by Keepers Downey
     and Shannon a Newfoundland dog belonging to an employee of
     Clausen's Brewery, on East Fifty-fifth street, who
     yesterday morning gave birth to eight pups, was found, and
     last evening the survivor of the triplets was taken to the

     The Director will pay the owner of the dog $3 per week for
     the baby's board and lodging, and, to the credit of the
     generous-hearted mother dog, she has taken the little
     lioness to her breast without so much as a questioning look.
     She licked it and snuggled it as she did her own and
     caressed it into nursing. After it is a few weeks old and is
     strong it can be taken away from the dog and, with little
     trouble, can be brought up on a bottle.

It is the fashion in this country now-a-days to say that women are
treated as equals. Some of the most progressive and best of men truly
believe what they say in this regard. One of our leading daily papers,
which insists that this is true, and even goes so far as to say that
American gentlemen believe in and act upon the theory that their mothers
and daughters are of a superior quality--and are always of the very
first consideration to and by men--recently had an editorial headlined
"Universal Suffrage the Birthright of the Free Born." I read it through,
and if you will believe me, the writer had so large a bump of sex
arrogance that he never once thought of one-half of humanity in
the entire course of an elaborate and eloquent two-column article!
"Universal" suffrage did not touch but one sex. There was but one sex
"free born." There was but one which was born with "rights." The words
"persons," "citizens," "residents of the state" and all similar terms
were used quite freely, but not once did it dawn upon the mind of the
writer that every one of those words, every argument for freedom, every
plea for liberty and justice, equality and right, applied to the human
race and not merely to one-half of that race.

Sex bias, sex arrogance, sex pride, sex assumption is so ingrained that
it simply does not occur to the male logicians, scientists, philosophers
and politicians that there is a humanity. They see, think of and argue
for and about only a sex of man--with an annex to him--woman. They call
this the race; but they do not mean the race--they mean men. They write
and talk of "human beings;" of their needs, their education, their
capacity and development; but they are not thinking of humanity at all.
They are thinking of, planning for and executing plans which subordinate
the race--the human entity--to a subdivision, the mark and sign of which
is the lowest and most universal possession of male nature--the mere
procreative instinct and possibility. And this has grown to be the habit
of thought until in science, in philosophy, in religion, in law, in
politics--one and all--we must translate all language into other terms
than those used. For the word "universal" we must read "male;" for
the "people," the "nation," we must read "men." The "will of the
majority--majority rule"--really means the larger number of masculine
citizens. And so with all our common language, it is in a false
tense. It is mere democratic verbal gymnastics, clothing the same old
monarchial, aristocratic mental beliefs, with man now the "divine right"
ruler and with woman his subject and perquisite. Its gender is misstated
and its import multiplied by two. It does not mean what it says, and it
does not say what it means.

Our thoughts are adjusted to false verbal forms, and so the thoughts do
not ring true. They are merely hereditary forms of speech. All masculine
thought and expression up to the present time has been in the language
of sex, and not in the language of race; and so it has come about that
the music of humanity has been set in one key and played on one chord.

It has been well said that an Englishman cannot speak French correctly
until he has learned to think in French. It is far more true that no one
can speak or write the language of human liberty and equality until he
has learned to think in that language, and to feel without stopping to
argue with himself, that right is not masculine only and that justice
knows no sex. Were the claim to superior opportunity, status and
position based upon capacity, character or wealth, upon perfection
of form or grace of bearing, one could understand, if not accept, the
reasonableness of the position, for it would then rest upon some sort of
recognized superiority, but while it is based upon sex--a mere accident
of form carrying with it a brute instinct, which is not even glorified
by the capacity to produce, and seldom throughout nature, to suffer for
and protect the blossom of that instinct--surely no lower, less vital or
more degraded a basis could possibly be chosen.

Not long ago a heated argument arose here in Chicago over the teaching
of German in the public schools. This argument was used by one of the
leading contestants in one of the leading journals:

The whole amount of education that 95 per cent, of our public school
pupils receive is lamentably small. It is far less than we could wish it
to be.

Most of these children, who are to be the citizens, and by their ballots
the rulers of this nation, can often remain but a few years in the
schoolroom. For the average American citizen who is not a professional
man, or who is not destined for diplomatic service abroad, English can
afford all the mental and intellectual pabulum needed.

Now here is an amusing and also a humiliating illustration of the way
these matters are handled, and it is for that reason, only, that I have
used a local question here. "Ninety-five per cent, of our public school
pupils," etc., "by their ballots are to be rulers of the nation,"
etc., "future citizens," forsooth! Now it simply did not occur to the
gentleman who wrote this, and to the hundreds who so write and speak
daily, that the most of those 95 per cent have no ballots, do not
"rule," are not "future citizens," but that they belong to the
proscribed sex, have committed the crime of being girls, even before
they entered the public schools, and so have permanently outlawed
themselves for citizenship in this glorious republic of "equals." But
his entire argument (made upon so large a per cent) really rests upon a
much smaller number. But the girls made good ballast for the argument.
They answered to fill in the "awful example," but they are not allowed
the justice of real citizenship, nor to be the future "rulers" for and
because of whom the whole argument is made, for whose educational rights
and needs, alone, because of their future ballots, he cares so tenderly.
It will not do to attempt to avoid this issue by the hackneyed plea.
"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Every one knows that
this is not true in the sense in which it is used. It is true, alas! in
a sense never dreamed of by politician and publican.

It is true that the degraded status of maternity has ruled and does rule
the world, in that it has been, and is, the most potent power to keep
the race from lofty achievement. Subject mothers never did, and subject
mothers never will, produce a race of free, well poised, liberty-loving,
justice-practicing children. Maternity is an awful power. It blindly
strikes back at injustice with a force that is a fearful menace to
mankind. And the race which is born of mothers who are harassed,
bullied, subordinated and made the victims of blind passion or power,
or of mothers who are simply too petty and self-debased to feel their
subject status, cannot fail to continue to give the horrible spectacles
we have always had of war, of crime, of vice, of trickery, of
double-dealing, of pretense, of lying, of arrogance, of subserviency, of
incompetence, of brutality, and, alas! of insanity, idiocy and disease
added to a fearful and unnecessary mortality.

To a student of anthropology and heredity it requires no great brain
power to trace these results to causes. We need only remember that
the mental, as well as the physical conditions, capacities and
potentialities are inherited, to understand how the dead level of
hopeless mediocrity must be preserved as the rule of the race so long as
the potentialities of that race must be filtered always through and
take its impetus from a mere annex to man's power, ambition, desires and

Let me respond right here to those who will--who always do--insist that
woman is not so held to-day at least in England and America. That her
present status is a dignified, an equal or even a superior one. I
will illustrate: In a recent speech by the Hon. William E. Gladstone he
pleaded most eloquently and earnestly for the right of Irishmen to rule
and govern themselves. Among many other things he said: "The principal
weapons of the opposition are bold assertion, persistent exaggeration,
constant misconstruction and copious, arbitrary and baseless prophecies.
True there are conflicting financial arrangements to be dealt with, but
among the difficulties nothing exists which ought to abash or terrify
men desirous to accomplish a great object. For the first time in ninety
years the bill will secure the supremacy of parliament as founded upon
right as well as backed by power."

Had these remarks been made with an eye single to the "woman question,"
they could not have been more exactly descriptive of the facts in
the case; but with Irishmen only on his mind he continued thus: "The
persistent distrust of the Irish people, despite all they can do, comes
simply to this, that they are to be pressed below the level of civilized
mankind. When the boon of self government is given to the British
colonies is Ireland alone to be excepted from its blessings? To deny
Ireland home rule is to say that she lacks the ordinary faculties of

He said "Irish people," but he meant Irish men only. But see to what
his argument leads. He says it is "pressing them below the level of
civilized mankind" to deny them the right to stand erect, to use their
own brains and wills in their own government; and a great party in his
own country and a great party in this country echo with mad enthusiasm
his opinions--for men! They call it "mankind." They mean one-half of
mankind only, for not even Mr. Gladstone is able to rise high enough
above his sex bias to see that the denial of all self-government, all
representation in the making of the laws she is to obey "presses woman
below the level of civilized mankind." Words cease to have a par
value even with the stickler for verbal accuracy the instant their
own arguments are applied to the other sex. Eloquently men can and do
portray the wrongs, the outrages, the abuses which always have arisen,
which always must arise from class legislation--from that condition
which makes it impossible for one class or condition of citizens of a
country to make their needs, desires, preferences and opinions felt
in the organic law of their country on an equal and level footing with
their fellows. Men have needed no great ability to enable them to prove
that tyranny unspeakable always did and always will follow unlimited
power over others so long as their arguments applied between man and
man, but the instant the identical arguments are used to apply between
man and woman that instant their whole attitude changes.

That instant words lose all par value. That instant all men, including
those who have but just waxed eloquent over the injustice and the real
danger of permitting inequality before the law, become aristocrats.
Claiming to be the logical sex, man throws logic to the winds. Claiming
to have fought and bled to enthrone "liberty," he forgets its very name!
Asserting that in his own hand alone can the scales of justice be held
level, he makes of justice, of liberty and of equality a mockery and a
pretense! He has so far read all of those words in the masculine gender
only. He has not yet learned to think them in a universal language. He
stultifies his every utterance and makes of his mind a jailer, and of
his laws slave drivers, for all who cannot by physical force wrench from
him the right to their own liberty and to their human status of equality
of opportunity.

Men have everywhere grown to believe that they have been born and that
they rule women by divine right. Woman is a mere annex to and for his
glory. She exists for him to rule, to think for, to adore, to tolerate
or to abuse as he sees fit, or as is his type or nature. Her appeal must
not be to an equal standard of justice which she has helped to
frame, administer and live by; but it must be to his generosity, his
tenderness, his toleration or his chivalry--in short, to his absolute
power over her. "No people can be free without an equal legal footing
for all of its citizens!" exclaims the statesman, and drums beat and
trumpets blare and men march and countermarch in enthusiastic response
to the sentiment. "We must have a government of the people, by the
people, for the people" is cheered to the echo whenever heard, and
nobody realizes that what is meant always is a government of men, by
men, for men, with woman as an annex.

Only three weeks ago all of our papers had leaders, editorials and
cablegrams to announce that "universal suffrage has been granted in
Belgium." They all grew enthusiastic over it. One of our leading New
York editors said (and I use his editorial simply because it is a very
good example of what almost all of our important journals said):

"The triumph of the Belgian democracy is an event of the first
significance. The masses had long appealed in vain for a removal of the
property qualification which restricted the right of suffrage to
140,000 persons out of a population of over 6,-000,000 but the chambers,
dominated by the wealthy classes, resolutely refused to comply with the
demand until a dangerous revolution was inaugurated.

"Even how the change in the constitution granting universal suffrage is
coupled with the right of plural voting by the property-owners, but it
is quite certain that this obnoxious feature will be soon abandoned by
the chambers and universal suffrage will prevail, as in the adjoining
nations of France and Germany.

"When these newly enfranchised electors choose the next legislature
important changes may be expected in the laws applicable to the
employment of labor, which have hitherto been framed solely in the
interest of the mine-owners and the manufacturers. Fortunately for
the king, he seems to be in sympathy with this effort of the masses to
acquire a fair representation in the government. In the recent riots the
hostility of the people was directed against the assembly rather than
against the crown. It is very evident that the democratic spirit is
gaining ground throughout Europe. Its influence is manifest in the home
rule movement in England, in the hostility to the army bill in Germany,
and in the rapid changes of the ministers of France. It steadily
advances in every direction and never loses ground once acquired. It
progresses peacefully if it can, but forcibly if it must. Its triumph in
Belgium is one of the signs of the times in the old world."

"The people" are all male in Belgium, in France, Germany and America,
or else all of these statements are mere figures of speech, are wholly
untrue, for the women of Belgium, of France, of Germany--and, alas! of
democratic America, were not even thought of when the words "people,"
"citizens," "masses," "laborers," etc., were used. They are counted in
the estimates of the population as all of these. They are used to fill
vacancies, to swell estimates, to round out statistics, but in the
result of these arguments and statistics, in the victories won for
liberty to the individual, woman has no part. She is the one outlaw in
human progress. In a recent magazine this passage occurs:

"Austria.--On April 2 Dr. Victor Adler, a socialist leader, spoke to
about 4,000 workingmen in favor of universal suffrage. He said that
two-thirds of the adult men had not the suffrage. Only half-civilized
countries, like Russia and Spain, now placed their citizens in such
inequality before the law. The workingmen of Austria had never before
this winter suffered such hardships, and now in Vienna 26,000 workmen
were without shelter."

Yet there is no report that Dr. Adler nor the editor of the magazine,
who waxed eloquent over it, saw any special "hardship" or "inequality"
in a degraded status for all women. "Universal suffrage," indeed! And
has Austria no women citizens? Were the working women who have not
the ballot, better sheltered than the men? Or do they need no shelter?
Another editor says: "Don't talk about a free ballot while the bread of
the masses is in the giving of the classes."

Yet, had a venturesome girl type-setter made it read, "Don't talk about
a free ballot, a democracy or freedom while the bread of women is in the
giving of men," the editor would have said: "She is insane, and besides
that, she is talking unwomanly nonsense."

It is the same in science, in literature, in religion. All estimates are
made on and for the "human race," "the people of a country," etc. The
"will of the people" is spoken of; we are told all about the brain size
and capacity and convolutions, etc., of the different "peoples"; we hear
learned discourses about it all, and when you sift them, woman--one-half
of the race talked about--is used always simply and only as ballast,
as filling to make a point in man's favor. She does not figure in the
benefits. He is the race--she his annex.

Not long ago an amusing illustration of this came to my knowledge. As
you may perhaps know, there is more money invested in life insurance
than in any other great financial enterprise in the world.

This is the way insurance experts look at the woman question. The
estimates of longevity, desirability of risk, etc., are based upon male
standards. This is not in itself unnatural or unreasonable, since men
have been the chief insurers, but few companies, indeed, being willing
to insure women at all. But not long ago a lady applied for a policy
on her life in a first-class company. She had three little children for
whom she wished to provide in case of her death. She believed that she
could properly support them so long as she lived. To her surprise she
was told that the rate at which she must pay was $5 on each $1,000 more
than her brother had to pay at the same age. She asked the actuary--a
very profound man--why this was so. He told her that women had been
found to be not so good risks as men, since they were subject to more
dangers of death than were men, and that to make the companies safe it
had been found necessary to charge women a higher rate.

She had heard much and eloquently all her life long of the dangers of
men's lives; of the shielded, sheltered state of feminine humanity, and
she had never dreamed that it was--from a mortuary point of view--"extra
hazardous" to be a woman. She assumed, however, that it must be so and
paid her extra hazardous premium, just as if she belonged to the army or
was a blaster or miner or "contemplated going up in a balloon." A short
time afterward her mother, an elderly lady, had some money to invest.
She did not wish to care for it herself, as she had never had the least
business experience. She applied to the same actuary to know how much
of an annual income or annuity she could buy for the sum she had. He
figured on it for a while and told her. It was a good deal less than a
man could get for the same amount. She had the temerity to ask why.

"Well," said the actuary, gazing benignly over his glasses at her in a
congratulatory fashion, "you see women live longer than men do--"

"But you told my daughter that they did not live so long, and so she
pays at a higher rate on insurance to make you safe lest she should die
too young. Now you charge me more for an annuity on the theory that a
woman lives longer than a man."

"Well," said he, readjusting his glasses and going carefully over the
mortuary table again, "that does seem to be the fact. If a woman assures
her life she beats the company by dying sooner than a man and if she
takes an annuity she beats us by living longer than he would. Don't know
how it happens, but we charge extra to cover the facts as we find 'em."

Such is masculine logic upon feminine perversity even in death.

Yet men say that they understand us and our needs so much better than we
do ourselves that they abandon all of their reasoning, logic, enthusiasm
and beliefs on the great fundamental principles of justice, equality,
liberty and law the moment their own arguments are applied to women
instead of to "labor," the "Irish question" or to any other phase of
class legislation as applied between man and man. The fact is simply
and only this, that the arrogance of sex power and perversion is now so
thoroughly ingrained that man really believes himself to be--by divine
right--the human race and that woman is his perquisite. He has no
universal language. He thinks in the language of sex. But more than
this, and worse than this, he insists upon no one else being allowed to
think in the language of humanity, and to translate that thought into


Read before the World's Congress of Representative Women, Chicago, 1893

Ladies and Gentlemen:--Poets, statesmen, novelists, and artists have for
ages untold striven to eclipse each other in the eulogies of motherhood.
On the stage nothing is so sure of rapturous applause as is some
touching bit of sacrifice which has reached its climax in a mother's
love wherein she has yielded all to shield, to protect, or to better the
condition of husband or child. From the crude topical songs which advise
the son to "Stick to your mother when her hair turns gray," through
the various phases of maternal love and devotion or sacrifice in the
"Camille" type of thought, on up to the loftiest touches in art and
literature, there is alike the effort to celebrate the power, the
potentiality and the beauty of motherhood and to stimulate the
sentiments of gratitude and love and of admiration for and emulation of
the ideal depicted. But through it all, in the building and nurturing
of the ideal, there runs--ever and always--the thread of thought that
self-sacrifice, self-abnegation, self-effacement, are the grandest
attributes of maternity. That in order to be a perfect, an ideal wife
and mother, the woman must be sunk, the individual immolated, the ego
subjugated. To a degree and in a sense, that is, of course, true.
For the willingness to go down to the gates of death; to face its
possibility for long, weary months; to know that suffering, and to fear
that death, stands as a sure and inevitable host at the end of a long
journey--to know this and to be willing to face it for the sake of
others is a heroism, a bravery, a self-abnegation so infinitely above
and beyond the small heroism of camp or battlefield that comparison is
almost sacrilege.

The condemned man, upon whom the death watch has been set, who cannot
hope for executive clemency, who is helpless in the hands of absolute
power, still knows that, although death may be sure, physical suffering
is unlikely or at the worst will be but brief; but he alone stands in
the position to know--even to a degree--the nervous strain, the mental
anguish, the unthinking but uncontrollable panics of flesh and blood and
nerve which woman faces at the behests of love and maternity and,
alas, that it can be true, at the behests of sex power and financial

But when we study anthropology and heredity we come to realize the
indisputable facts that her love, her physical heroism and her bravery,
linked with her political and financial subject status, has cast a
physical blight, a moral shadow and a mental threat upon the world, we
cease to clap quite so vigorously at the theater and our tears or smiles
are mingled with mental reservations and a sigh for a loftier ideal of
the meaning and purpose of maternity than the merely physical one that
man has depicted as material sacrifice to the child and self-abnegation
and subjection to him. We begin to wonder if much of the vice, the
crime, the wrong, the insanity, the disease, the incompetence and
the woe of the world is not the direct lineal descendant of this very
self-debasement of the individual character of woman in maternity!

We wonder if an unwilling, a forced or supinely yielding (and not
self-controlled), a subject motherhood, in short, is not responsible to
the race for the weak, the deformed, the depraved, the double dealing,
pretense-soaked natures which curse the world with failure, with
disease, with war, with insanity and with crime. We wonder if the awful
power with which nature clothes maternity in heredity does not strike
blindly back at the race for man's artificial and cruel requirements at
the hands of the producer of the race. We wonder if mothers do not owe a
higher duty to their offspring than that of mere nurse. We wonder if she
has the moral right to give her children the inheritance that accident
and subserviency stamps upon body and mind. We wonder how she dares face
her child and know that she did not fit herself by self-development
and by direct, sincere, firm and thorough qualifications for maternity
before she dared to assume its responsibilities. We wonder that man has
been so slow in learning to read the message that nature has telegraphed
to him in letters of fire and photographed with a terrible persistency
upon the distorted, diseased bodies and minds of his children and upon
the moral imbeciles she has set before him as an answer to his message
of sex domination.*

     *  "Alienists bold, in general, that a large proportion of
     mental diseases is the result of degeneracy; that is, they
     are the offspring of drunken, insane, syphilitic and
     consumptive parents, and suffer from the action of
     heredity."--Dr. MacDonald; author of Criminology.

     "Who has sinned, this man or his parents that he was blind?"


Self-abnegation, subserviency to man--whether he be father, lover, or
husband--is the most dangerous that can be taught to, or forced upon
her, whose character shall mould the next generation! She has no right
to transmit a nature and a character that is subservient, subject,
inefficient, undeveloped--in short, a slavish character, which is either
blindly obedient or blindly rebellious and is therefore set, as is a
time-lock, to prey or to be preyed upon by society in the future!

If woman is not brave enough personally to demand, and to obtain,
absolute personal liberty of action, equality of status and entire
control of her great and race-endowing function of maternity, she has
no right to dare to stamp upon a child, and to curse a race with
the descendants of a servile, a dwarfed, a time-and-master-serving

We have been taught that it is an awful thing to commit murder--to take
a human life. There are students of anthropology and heredity who think
that it is a far more awful thing to thrust, unasked, upon a human being
a life that is handicapped before he gets it. It is a far more solemn
responsibility to give than to take a human life! In the one case you
invade personal liberty and put a stop to an existence more or less
valuable and happy, but at least all pain is over for that invaded
individuality. In the other case--in giving life--you invade the liberty
of infinite oblivion and thrust into an inhospitable world another human
entity to struggle, to sink, to swim, to suffer or to enjoy. Whether the
one or the other no mortal knows, but surely knows it must contend not
only with its environment but with its heredity--with itself.

Not long ago a great man, who is successful beyond most human units,
who is wealthy, socially to be envied, who enjoys almost ideal family
relations, who is in all regards a man of broad intellect, of large
heart, who is beloved, successful and powerful--not long ago this man
said to me, when talking of life and its chances, its joys and its
burdens and wrongs:

"Well, the more I think of it all, the more I know, the more I delve
into philosophy and science, the more I understand life as it is and as
it must be for long years to come, if not forever, the more I wonder at
the sturdy bravery of those who are less fortunate than I. Does it pay
me to live? Would I choose to be born again? Were I to-day unborn, could
I be asked for my vote, knowing all I do of life, would I vote to come
into this world? Taking life at its best estate are we not assuming a
tremendous risk to thrust it unasked upon those who are at least safe
from its pitfalls? I ask myself these questions very often," he said,
and then hesitatingly, "I sometimes think it pays after all. Of course,
since I am here I am bound to make the best of it, but for all that I am
not sure how I would vote on my birth if I had the chance to try it--not
quite sure."

"If you are so impressed with life for yourself--you, a fortunate,
healthy, wealthy, happily married, successful man," said I, "don't you
think it is a pretty serious thing to assume the right to cast that vote
for another human pawn, who could hardly conceivably stand your chances
in the world?"

"Serious," he exclaimed. "Serious! With the world's conditions what they
are to-day, with the physical, moral and mental chances to run, with
woman, the character-forming producer of the race a half-educated
subordinate to masculine domination, it is little short of madness; it
is not far from a crime. It is a crime unless the mother is a physically
healthy, a mentally developed and comprehending, morally clear, strong,
vigorous entity who knows her personal responsibility in maternity and,
knowing, dares maintain it."

It has been the fashion to hold that the mothers of the race should not
be the thinkers of the race. Indeed, in commenting upon this Congress of
Representative Women, the most widely read newspaper on this continent
last week said editorially:

"There is to be a great series of women's congresses held at Chicago
during the Fair. The purpose is to illustrate and celebrate the progress
of women. Accordingly there will be sessions to discuss the achievements
of women in art, authorship, business, science, histrionic endeavor,
law, medicine and a variety of other activities.

"But so far as the published programmes enable us to judge not one thing
is to be done to show the progress of women as women. There will be
no showing made of any increased capacity on their part to make homes
happier, to make their husbands stronger for their work in the world,
to encourage high endeavors, to maintain the best standards of honor
and duty, to stimulate, encourage, uplift--which--from the beginning
of civilization--has been the supreme feminine function. Nothing, it
appears, is to be done at the congresses to show that a higher education
and a larger intellectual advancement has enabled women to bear
healthier children or to bring them up in a manner more surely tending
to make this a better world to live in, the noblest of all work that can
be done by women.

"We need no congress to show us that women are more thoroughly educated
than they once were, or that they can successfully do things once
forbidden to them. But have wider culture and wider opportunities made
them better wives and mothers? A congress which should show that
would make all men advocates of still larger endeavors for woman's
advancement. A congress, on the other hand, which assumes that the only
thing to be celebrated is an increased capacity to win fame or money
will teach a disastrously false and dangerous lesson to our growing

This fatal blunder as to woman's development as woman--quite aside from
her home relations, which the editor confuses with it--has retarded
the real civilization and caused to be transmitted--unnecessarily
transmitted--the characteristics which have gone far to make insanity,
disease and deformity of mind and body, the heritage of well-nigh every
family in the land.

A great medical expert said to me not long ago, "There is not more
than one family in ten who can show a clean bill of health, mental and
physical--aye, and moral--from hereditary taints that are serious in
threat and almost certain of development in one form or another.

"Now, if a man with a contagious disease enters a community he is
quarantined for the benefit of his fellows, who might never take it if
he were not restrained and isolated. But if a man with a hereditary
or transmittible disorder, which is certain, enters a community, he is
allowed to marry and transmit it to the helpless unborn--to establish a
line of posterity--who are far more directly his victims than would be
those who were exposed to a cholera contagion by a lack of quarantine.
Fathers, physicians, society, and all educational and economic
conditions have conspired to keep mothers ignorant of all the facts of
life of which mothers should know everything; and so it has come about
that the race is the victim of the narrow and dangerous doctrine of sex
domination and sex restriction, and of selfish reckless indulgence. If
not one family in ten can show a clean bill of heredity, is it not more
than time that the mothers learn why, learn where, and in what they
are responsible, and that they cease 'to close the doors of mercy on

Maternity, its duties, needs and responsibilities has been exploited in
all ages and climes; in all phases and spheres, from one point of
view only--the point of view of the male owner. If you think that this
statement is extreme I beg of you to read "The Evolution of Marriage"
by Letourneau. Read it all. Read it with care. It is the production of
a man of profound learning and research, a man who sees the light of
the future dawning, although even he sometimes lapses from a universal,
language of humanity into hereditary forms of speech, hedged in by sex

But in all the past arguments maternity with its duties to itself;
maternity with its duties to the race, has never been more than merely
touched upon, and even then it has been chiefly from the side of the
present, and not with the tremendous search-light of heredity and of
future generations turned upon it. It has been ever and always in its
relations to the desires, opinions and prejudices of the present man
power which controls it.

Some time ago a famous doctor in New York took up the cudgel against
higher education for women, and under the heading of "Education
and Maternity; Woman's Proper Sphere; the Dangers Which Threaten
Intellectual and Society Women;" wrote in favor of ignorant wives and a
larger number of children. A great journal published his article without
protest, thus giving added prestige to the opinions expressed. This,
too, in spite of the fact that at that very time the same journal was
appealing for alms, for free nurses, for volunteer doctors and for a
fresh-air fund to enable the ignorant mothers of the crime-infested,
disease-pol-luted, over populated tenements of the city to get even a
breath of fresh air by the sea, which is only two miles from its doors!
In spite of the fact, too, that Lombroso, Ricardo, Mendel, Spitzka,
MacDonald and other famous anthropologists and experts have pointed out
so plainly in their criminal, insane, imbecile and mortuary statistics
the all-pervading evil of rapid, ill advised, irresponsible parentage.

Professor Edward S. Morse, in a recent paper called "Natural Selection
in Crime," which he courteously sent to me, said: "To one at all
familiar with the external aspects of insanity in its various forms it
seems incredible that its physical nature was not sooner realized. Had
the laws of heredity been earlier understood it would have been seen
that mental derangements, like physical diseases and tendencies, were

Of late years there has sprung into existence a school of criminal
anthropology, with societies, journals, and a rapidly increasing
literature. A most admirable summary of the work thus far accomplished
has recently been given by Dr. Robert Fletcher in his address as
retiring president of the Anthropological Society of Washington. In his
opening paragraphs Dr. Fletcher thus graphically portrays the scourge of
the criminal and his rapid increase:

"In the cities, towns and villages of the civilized world every year
thousands of unoffending men and women are slaughtered; millions of
money, the product of honest toil and careful saving, are carried away
by the conqueror, and incendiary fires light his pathway of destruction.
Who is this devastator, this modern "scourge of God," whose deeds are
not recorded in history? The criminal! Statistics unusually trustworthy
show that if the carnage yearly produced by him could be brought
together at one time and place it would excel the horrors of many a
well-contested field of battle. In nine great countries of the world,
including our own favored land, in one year, 10,380 cases of homicide
were recorded, and in the six years extending from 1884 to 1889, in the
United States alone, 14, 770 murders came under cognizance of the law.

"And what has society done to protect itself against this aggressor?
True, there are criminal codes, courts of law, and that surprising
survival of the unfittest, trial by jury. Vast edifices have been built
as prisons and reformatories, and philanthropic persons have formed
societies for the instruction of the criminal and to care for him when
his prison gates are opened. But, in spite of it all, the criminal
becomes more numerous. He breeds criminals; the taint is in the blood,
and there is no royal touch can expel it."

Commenting on this Professor Morse says: "Certain results of the modern
school of anthropology, as presented by Dr. Fletcher, may be briefly
summed up by stating broadly that in studying the criminal classes from
the standpoint of anatomy, physiology, external appearance, even to
the minuter shades of difference in the form of the skull and facial
proportions, the criminal is a marked man. His abnormities are
characteristic, and are to be diagnosticated in only one way. That these
propositions are being rapidly established there can be no doubt. As an
emphatic evidence of their truth, the criminal is able to transmit his
criminal propensities even beyond the number of generations allotted to
inheritance by Scripture."

And where do all these lunatics and criminals come from? From educated
mothers? from mothers who are in even a small and limited sense allowed
to own themselves, to think for themselves, control their own lives? Not
at all. They are the mothers whose lives belong to their men, as this
learned doctor, who objects to the higher education of women, argues
that all wives should.

Maternity is an awful power, and I repeat that it strikes back at the
race, with a blind, fierce, far-reaching force, in revenge for its
subject status. Dr. Arthur MacDonald, in his "Criminology," says: "The
intellectual physiognomy shows an inferiority in criminals, and when in
an exceptional way there is a superiority, it is rather in the nature of
cunning and shrewdness.... Poverty, misery and organic debility are not
infrequently the cause of crime."

Who is likely to transmit "organic debility?" The mother of many
children or of few? Who is likely to stamp a child with low intellectual
physiognomy? The mother who is educated or she who is the willing or
unwilling subordinate in life's benefits?

Again he says: "Every asymmetry is not necessarily a defect of cerebral
development, for, as suggested above, under the influence of education
defects of function can be corrected, covered up or eradicated." Can
this be true of criminals and not of normal women?

Again he says: "When we consider the early surroundings, unhygienic
conditions, alcoholic parents, etc., of the criminal, where he may begin
vice as soon as consciousness awakes, malformation, due to neglect and
rough treatment, are not surprising. Yet the criminal malformations may
be frequently due to osteological conditions. But here still hereditary
influence and surrounding conditions in early life exert their power."
Benedikt says: "To suppose that an atypically constructed brain can
function normally is out of the question."

So long as motherhood is kept ignorant, dependent and subject in status
just that long will heredity avenge the outrage upon her womanhood, upon
her personality, upon her individual right to a dignified, personal,
equal human status, by striking telling blows on the race.

But let me return to the arguments of the author of "Higher Education
and Woman's Sphere," since he represents all the reactionary thought
on this topic and because he ignores utterly, as do all of his fellows,
woman's duty to herself and her awful power for good or evil upon the
race, according as she makes herself a dignified, developed, educated
and independent individuality first and a function of maternity second.
It seems to me that in discussing no other question in life is there so
little logical reasoning and so much arbitrary dogmatism as in the ones
which are usually embraced under "woman's sphere." In the first place,
it is assumed that because women are mothers they are nothing else; that
because this is her sphere she can have, should have, no other.

Men are fathers. That is their sphere, therefore they should not be
mentally developed, legally and politically emancipated, socially
civilized or economically independent. This would appear to most men,
doubtless, as a somewhat absurd proposition. It appears so to me, but
it is not one whit less absurd when applied to women. Yet this is
constantly done. Because women are mothers is the very reason why
they should be developed mentally and physically and socially to their
highest possible capacity. The old theory that a teacher was good enough
for a primary class if she knew the "A B C's" and little else has long
since been exploded. A high degree of intellectual capacity and a broad
mental grasp are more important in those who have the training and
molding of small children than if the children were older. The younger
the mind the less capable it is to guide itself intelligently and
therefore the more important is it that the guide be both wise and well
informed. In a college, if the professor is only a little wiser than his
class it does not make so much difference. In a post-graduate course it
makes even less, for here all are supposed to be somewhat mature. Each
has within himself an intelligent guide, a reasoner, a questioner and
one to answer questions.

With little children the one who has them in charge most closely must be
all this and more. She must understand the proportions and relations
of things and wherein they touch--the bearing and trend of mental and
physical phenomena. She must furnish self-poise to the nervous child
and stimulus to the phlegmatic one. She must be able to read signs
and interpret indications in the mental and moral, as well as in the
physical being of those within her care. All this she must be able to do
readily and with apparent unconsciousness if she is best fitted to deal
with and develop small children. More than this, she must be not only
able to detect wants but have the wisdom to guide, to stimulate, to
restrain, to develop the plastic creature in her keeping. If she had the
wisdom of the fabled gods and the self-poise of the Milo she would not be
too well equipped for bearing and educating the race in her keeping.

But more than this the ideal mother should know and be. She must have
love too loyal and sense of obligation too profound to recklessly bring
into the world children she cannot properly endow or care for. It does
not appear to occur to the physicians and politicians who discuss this
question that it may be due to other causes than incapacity that the
educated women are the mothers of fewer children than are the "ideal
wives and mothers" of whom they speak in their arguments against her
higher education--the squaws of the Kaffirs and Black-feet Indian women,
who "devote but a few hours to the completion of this act of nature," as
our doctor felicitously expresses it. It is no doubt true that habits
of civilization do tend to make the dangers of motherhood greater. So do
they tend to render men less sturdy--less perfect animals. A Kaffir
or an Indian buck would not find it necessary to stay at home from his
office, for example, because of a broken arm, or a gun shot wound in the
leg. He would tramp sturdily through the forest, and sleep in the jungle
with an arrow imbedded in his flesh. He would sit stolidly down on a log
and cut it out of himself with a scalping-knife. Yet nobody would think
it a desirable thing for a member of the Union League club to stop on
his way up Fifth avenue and attend to his own surgery on the sidewalk.
They would expect him to faint, and to be "carried tenderly into the
nearest drug store" and a doctor would be sent for. He would be put
under the influence of an anaesthetic drug during the operation,
and carefully nursed for weeks afterward by his devoted wife, and
intelligent physician. Then if he pulled through it would be heralded
far and wide as because of his "magnificent physique, his pluck and the
excellent treatment he received." Well now, is he a less "manly man"
than is the Kaffir or the Indian buck? Is he a less desirable husband
and father? Is he "deteriorating in his sphere?" The fact is, the more
sensitive men have become to pain, whether it be mental or physical, the
more manly have they grown, the more nearly fitted to be the fathers of
a race of men and women who are not mere brutes. The race does not need
the brute type any longer. It has already too many mere human animals
to deal with--in its asylums, almshouses, prisons and impoverished

This world is in no danger of suffering from a lack of children, the cry
has always been "over population" and even in our new country the wail
has begun. Not more children, but a better kind of children is what is
needed. Who will be likely to furnish these? The ideal "squaw wife" or
the educated woman, who knows that her obligation to her child begins
before it is born, and does not end even with her death, for she must
leave it the heritage of a good name, an earnest life, a noble example,
even after she is gone.

If by "being unfitted for the sphere of wife and mother" it is meant
that this sphere is truly that of a mere animal--a healthy animal--if
in order to be an ideal wife to civilized man, woman should remain a
savage; if to be a mother to an intellectually advancing race she need
not even comprehend the advance, then truly are these arguments against
her higher education and intellectual development logical.

But even then they are not fair. Why? Simply because she has not been
consulted as to her choice in the matter. The argument is still based
on the tremendous assumption that man's happiness, man's desires, man's
wishes, man's rights, are the sum total of all desire, all right,
all freedom, all happiness and all justice. It omits two tremendous
equations--that of the woman herself and that of her offspring, who will
have a right to demand of her how she dared equip him so badly for the
life into which she has taken the liberty to bring him. To demand of her
how she dared equip herself so ill for her self-imposed task of creator
of a human soul!

Up to the present time woman's moral responsibility in heredity has been
below the point of zero, for the reason that she has had no voice in her
own control nor in that of her children. With the present knowledge
of heredity she who permits herself to become a mother without having
demanded and obtained (1) her own freedom from sex dominion and (2)
fair and free conditions of development for herself and her child, will
commit a crime against herself, against her child and against the race.

But the learned doctor deplores the fact that educated women are
bringing fewer children into the world, and argues that, this being the
case, it shows that education is not within woman's sphere. Now, if
a man does not choose to become the father of ten or twelve children
nobody on earth feels called upon to criticise him as not properly
filling his sphere--as out of his proper sphere--in case he prefers
to spend more of his time on mental development and progress than upon
irresponsible physical indulgence and paternity. If he makes up his mind
that he cannot or does not wish to become responsible for the mental and
physical endowment and well-being of more than one or two children, or
of none, nobody says that his "college training unfitted him for the
holy position of husband and father, which is his sphere." Perhaps the
college training may have a good deal to do with it in the sense that
with his developed mind and wider information, his sense of right and
of personal obligation to the unborn has tended in that direction. We do
not often notice a vast degree of self discipline of this nature in
the uneducated, whether it be man or woman, but is this a reason for
deprecating intellectual training for our boys? Why then for the girls?
It appears to me that it is one of the greatest possible arguments in
favor of higher education for women, unless, indeed, it is desirable
to be mere Kaffirs, both male and female, which has its strong points.
Kaffirs are healthier, hardier, more irresponsibly, happily brutal. They
have few nervous moments, I fancy, over the future good of wife or child
or friend. Their sense of obligation does not keep them awake nights.
They are neither afraid nor ashamed to create helpless human beings
simply to furnish targets for another tribe. They have not even a
glimmer of the thought--still embryonic, indeed, in civilized man--that
the woman whose life is risked, and the child upon whom life is thrust
unasked, are of the least consideration in the matter. These have no
rights which the Kaffir lord is bound to respect. I fancy if he were
asked a question on the subject he would look at you in stupid, silent
wonder, if he did not ask: "What have they got to do with it? I am the
race. What she and my children are for is to look after me, to make me
comfortable, to be my inferiors, for my glory." Most likely he would be
so stupidly unequal to even the shadow of a thought not purely egotistic
that he could not even formulate such preposterous questions and
self-evident statements as these. But his civilized brother does it for
him--so why complain?*

     * The report of the marriage of another educated and refined
     white woman to a full-blooded Sioux Indian shows the species
     of lunacy that attacks those who make a hobby of Indian
     education. The woman who has cast in her lot with an Indian,
     whose savagery is only veneered with civilized manners, will
     repent of her act, as all her sisters in misery have done
     before her. As a husband the American Indian is not a model,
     for even long training among white people fails to uproot
     his native idea that a woman is simply provided to bear him
     children and to do hard work which is beneath his dignity.--
     N. Y. Press. June, 1893.

Now, suppose a woman would prefer to enjoy her mental capabilities
to the full and develop these rather than to be the mother of a large
brood; suppose she thinks she should be a developed woman first before
daring to become a mother, whose right is it to object? If men prefer
Kaffir wives there is a large assortment on hand. Squaws, both white and
red, are to be had for the asking.

Whose right is it to decide that all women shall be squaws in mental
development, in social position, in legal status and in political and
economic relations, if all women do not choose to be such? Has a woman
not the right to be a human being and count one in the economy of life
before she is a mother---quite aside from her maternal capabilities? If
not, when and where did she forfeit that right? When and where did _man_
get his? Every man has and maintains the right to be a man first--a
unit, a responsible human being; after that--aside from it--he may,
if he choose, become also a husband and a father. Is it not more than
possible that the whole human race has been dwarfed and retarded and
hampered in its upward struggle because of this unaccountable effort
to climb one side at a time, because brute force and phenomenal egotism
have always refused to place humanity on terms of equal opportunity and
leave nature alone?

We are constantly informed that those who insist on equal opportunities,
on equal status before the law for women are making an effort to subvert
nature; that nature has done this and that and the other thing with and
for women. Well if she has, then she will take care of the results in
an open field. She does not need special, restrictive laws placed on
the sex that she has already put under the ban of inferiority. If the
superior sex cannot still more than hold its own without putting a high
protective tariff on itself then how can it claim to be the superior
sex? Nature has managed very well with the lower animals, giving them
equal surroundings and opportunities. That nature is not allowed to
manage for women is the very point we object to. Men have made all sorts
of laws for and about women that are not made for and about men. Why
not make laws and make them apply to the human being, leaving the sex
of that human being out of the question? It is the special, restrictive,
unnatural sex provisions in the laws and in the conditions of life
that are objected to. No woman objects to nature's decree that she is
a potential mother any more than men object to her decree that they are
potential fathers.

It is the fact that men insist that women are this and nothing
more--which nature did not say--to which women object. Nowhere else
in nature does the male claim all of the other avenues of life as
his special sex privilege, except alone the one which he cannot
perform--that of maternity. The sexes stand on an exact equality as to
opportunity until we come to man. The brain of each is developed to
the extent of its capacity. The freedom and opportunity for food and
pleasure are enjoyed by the sexes alike. When the desire for maternity
is strong upon her is the only time that the female brute animal ever
becomes a mother. She decides when she is a mere mother, and when she
is an animal with all the rights and privileges of her genus. With
the human race alone is one-half governed upon the theory, and its
opportunities fitted to the idea, that the female is never a unit, never
a human being, never a person, but that she is simply, solely and only a
potential mother, whose one "sphere" even then is to be controlled
and regulated as to time, place and conditions--not by nature, not by
herself, as with the lower animals, but by the other half of the race,
which holds itself as first human, individual, and with rights, duties,
privileges and ambitions pertaining to him as such. His sex relation,
his potential paternity, is truly his "sphere" also, but that it is his
whole sphere he has never dreamed. There are women who look at life the
same way, for the other half of humanity, and decline to read nature's
teachings--are unable to read them--in any other way.

But aside from all this the doctor first claims that it is the
intellectual development which cripples maternal capabilities and then
he proceeds to give the reasons for the poor health of girls, which
turn out to be bad ventilation in their schools, unwholesome sanitary
conditions, injudicious or insufficient nourishment or physical and
mental habits, and a lack of intelligent mothers and teachers, who dress
and train the girls unhealthfully and in vitiated surroundings. How
would boys fare under like conditions? Would the doctor say that it was
the intellectual training which wrecked the health of the boys or would
he say that it was the absurd conditions under which they got their
training? Would he advise less mental work or less vile air; fewer
studies or better light; more healthful clothing and food and exercise,
or that the boys go homeland devote themselves to the sphere nature
marked out for them--paternity?

Again the doctor appears to confuse society women with college women. As
a rule they are totally distinct classes. The mere society woman who--so
the doctor says--"wrecks her health in rounds of pleasure and bears
sickly children or none," is, in nine cases out of ten, the exact
opposite of the intellectual woman--the college-bred girl--who has
learned before she leaves college the value of health and the obligation
to herself and others to be well. It is true that certain of the
fashionable schools which fit girls for society and for nothing else on
earth call their girls educated; but, since no one else does, it were
futile to confuse the two classes. The mere society girl, as a rule, is,
so far as real mental development and higher education and capacity to
think logically, are concerned, as truly a squaw as if she wore blanket
and feathers. Indeed, this is what she does wear mentally. She should be
a perfect wife for the men who wish wives to be physical and not mental
companions; she would be second only to the Kaffir women in that she
wears a trifle more clothing.

But even in her case, would it not be wise to infer that she has not
necessarily physically incapacitated herself for maternity by her
frivolous life, so much as that she does not care for children, and
would find them troublesome to a brain, which holds nothing more serious
and valuable than jewels and reception dates? And, if she did reproduce
her kind, would this world be benefited? Why this constant cry for more
children in a world crushed by the weight of sorrow, suffering and wrong
to those already here? Until children can be born into better conditions
let us be thankful that there is one class of women too narrowly selfish
and another class too full of the sense of obligation to add very
rapidly to this bee hive of misery and discontent and wrong.

The world needs healthier, wiser, truer children, not more of them, and
until mothers are both educated and rank before the law as human beings,
they will never be able to give that kind to the world. Just so long as
men must get their brains from the proscribed sex, just that long
will their minds remain an "infant industry" and be in need of a high
protective tariff in the shape of restrictive laws on women to shield
men from equal competition in a fair field as and with human units. The
laws of heredity are as inflexible as death. Invariable, they are
not; but so surely as there is a family likeness in faces, there are
hereditary reasons for crime, for insanity, for disease, for mental and
for moral imbecility, and women owe it to themselves, and to the world
which they populate, not to allow themselves to be made either the
unwilling, or the supine, transmitters or creators of a mentally,
morally or physically dwarfed or distorted progeny.

     While reading the proof for this book, this interesting
     article comes to me from Germany and shows how thoroughly
     the false basis of thought is being undermined, in other
     countries than our own. H. H. G.

"There has been so much discussion concerning the physical and mental
differences between men and women, and the representatives of social
science have expressed so many contradictory opinions regarding this
question, that I feel it my duty, as a physiologist, to give my opinion
on this important matter. Several fathers of the Church have entirely
denied that woman has a soul. The canonists write: 'Woman is not formed
after the image of God; and many philosophers in the same manner have
considered women of small consequence. In a discourse 'concerning the
education and culture of women,' Prof Sergi has followed the lead of
this pessimistic school. The differences between the sexes, to which
Prof. Sergi lias called attention, are doubtless significant for
anthropology and physiology but, in my opinion, do not depend on the
original condition of woman, but are caused by the barriers which have
been raised by society regarding her destiny. In order to obtain an
unprejudiced judgment, we must free woman from the yoke which man has
placed upon her. We must observe her in the natural position, where she
represents a particular language in the zoological scale. The ladies
must now pardon me if I compare them with the lower animals, for in this
way I can the better exalt them.

"As objects of comparison we will observe the most intelligent and
faithful animals. With regard to dogs and horses we notice little
difference between either the strength or the temperament of males and
females. The hunter fears the lioness more than the lion, and the
same is true of tigers and panthers. Prof. Sergi, in the above-named
discourse, has expressed the following condemnatory opinion: "Neither in
her physical nor mental capacities has woman reached man's normal scale
of development, but on an average has remained so far behind that this
sex seems to have come to a standstill in the general development of the
race." This statement has surprised me in the highest degree. It
appears to me that the marks of the human race, and the real physical
characteristics which distinguish us from the animals, are feminine
peculiarities. The principle has been adduced that the structure of the
brain shows the abyss between man and animals. This is incorrect. There
is no immeasurable difference between our brain and that of the gorilla,
and the effects of the central cavities are shown only in the advancing
development of the expressions of physical activity, not in their
formation and character. A greater morphological difference between man
and the animals is shown in the form of the pelvis. No physician,
even twenty steps away, could mistake the pelvis of man for that of an
anthropoid ape. The pelvis of woman is a new type which has appeared on
the earth. Until now we have sought in vain for that animal which shall
complete the chain between us and animals. It is striking: the narrow,
high pelvis of the man is more ape-like than that of the woman. If the
assertion is correct that the upright gait (on two feet) is the mark of
distinction, and the noblest one for man, then woman certainly possesses
the advantage of a pelvis particularly suitable for upright walking.
Darwin has also demonstrated that female animals often revert to
the masculine type, while the reverse seldom happens. More favorable
conditions are necessary for the production of a female animal than
a male, because the female embryo exhibits a greater fulness of life.
Statistics have shown that under unfavorable conditions more men than
women are born; also, male animals die more easily than female.

"Several judges of the woman question who consider that the brain of
woman cannot compare with that of man, add that women should not enter
into emulation with men in the mental domain lest they should lose the
charm of their femininity, and because they should give themselves up
completely to their vocation as wife and mother. This division of the
work is certainly very useful for man and has greatly assisted him to
his position of power, and has Pushed woman into the background. But it
is incorrect that woman loses her womanliness by cultivating her mind."

[From the Deutsche Revue.]


Read before the World's Congress of Representative Women, Chicago, 1893

Ladies and Gentlemen:--As a student of Anthropology and Heredity one
is sometimes compelled to make statements which seem to the thoughtless
listener either too radical or too horrible to be true. If I were to
assert, for example, that good men, men who have the welfare of the
community at heart, men who are kind fathers and indulgent husbands, men
who believe in themselves as pure, upright and good citizens, if I were
to say that even such men are thorough believers in and supporters of
the theory that it is right and wise to sacrifice the liberty, purity,
health and life of young girls and women and, through the terrible
power of heredity, to curse the race, rather than permit men and boys to
suffer in their own persons the results of their own misdeeds, mistakes
or crimes, I would be accused of being "morbid" and a "man hater." But
let us see if the above statement is not quite within the facts.

I shall take as an illustration the words and arguments of a man who
stands second, only, to our Chief Police officer in the largest city in
the United States, and since he was permitted to present his arguments
in the most widely read journals of the country it seems fitting that
these opinions be dealt with as of unusual importance. All the more is
this the case since they were intended to influence legislation in the
interest of State-regulated vice.

Among other things he said:

"Of course there are disorderly houses, but they are more hidden, and
less of that vice is flaunted, than in any other city in the world. Such
places have existed since the world began and men of observation know
that this fact is a safe-guard around their homes and daughters. Men of
candid judgment, religious men, know, too, that they had ten thousand
times rather have their live, robust boys err in this indulgence, than
think of them in the places of those unfortunates on the island, whose
hands are muffled or tied behind them. This is a desperately practical
question with more than a theoretical and sentimental side. It ought to
be talked about and better understood among fathers.

"Thank God that vice is so hidden that Dr. Park-hurst has to get
detectives to find disorderly houses, and that thousands of wives and
daughters do not know even of their existence. Such horrible disclosures
as were made before innocent women and girls in Dr. Parkhurst's audience
do vastly more harm in arousing their curiosity and polluting their
minds than a host of sin that is compelled to hide its head. When I was
Captain of the Twenty-ninth Precinct, I went with Dr. Talmage on
his errand for sensational information for his sermons. I know, from
observation and from reports which I was careful to gather, that never
in their history were the places he described as thronged by patrons,
largely from Brooklyn, or so much money spent there for debauchery as
after those sermons."

Now I assume that this Police Inspector is a good citizen, father,
husband and man. I assume that he is sincere and earnest in his desire
and efforts to suppress crime and promote--so far as he is able--the
welfare of the community. I assume, in short, that he is, in intent and
in fact, a loyal citizen and a conscientious officer. I have no reason
to believe that he is not doing what he conceives is best and right, and
yet even he is quoted as advocating the sacrifice of purity to impurity,
the creating of moral and social lepers in one sex in order that moral
and social lepers or the ignorantly vicious of the other sex may escape
the results of their own mistakes or vice. It impresses me anew that
such teaching, from such authority, is not only the most unfortunate
that can be put before a boy but that it goes farther perhaps than
anything else can to confirm in men that conditions of sex mania which
the Inspector says is more desirable should be cultivated by means of
regularly recognized state institutions for the utter sacrifice and
death of young girls than that it should end in the wreck of the sex
maniac himself and in his own destruction.

But were our statesmen students of heredity, they would not need to
be told that there is, there can be, no "safeguards around wives and
daughters" so long as their husbands, fathers and sons are polluting the
streams of life before they transmit that life itself to those who are
to be "our daughters and wives."

But not going so deeply into the subject, for the moment, as to deal
with its hereditary bearings; upon what principle his argument can
be valid, I fail to see. Why is it better that some girl shall be
sacrificed, body, mind and soul; why is it better that she shall be his
victim than that he shall be his own? And then again, the problem is
not solved when she is sacrificed. He has simply changed the form of his
disease, and in the change, while it is possible that he has delayed for
himself the day of destruction, he has, in the process, corrupted
not only his victim but the social conscience, as well. Were this all
perhaps it would be still thought wise to follow the advice of the
Inspector--and alas, of some physicians--and continue to sacrifice under
the bestial wheel of sex power those who are from first to last prey to
the conditions of social and legal environment in which they are allowed
no voice.

But this is not all. The seeming "cure" is no cure at all. It is simply
a postponement of the awful day for the sex maniac himself and, worse
than this--more terrible than this--it is the cause of the continuance
of the mania not only in himself but in his children. He marries some
honest girl by and by and thus associates, with the burnt-out dregs of
his life, one who would loathe him did she know his true character
and his concealed but burning flame of insanely inherited, insanely
indulged, bestially developed disease. But he is now--under the
shadow of social respectability and church sanction--to perpetuate his
unfortunate mania in those who are helpless--the unborn. Heredity is
not a slip-shod thing. It does not follow One parent and one alone. The
children of a father who "sowed his wild oats" by the method prescribed
by the Inspector (and alas, by social custom) are as truly his victims
as is the pariah of humanity who is to be quarantined in some given
locality, made a social leper and a physical wreck that he, personally,
may be neither the one nor the other. But nature is a terrible
antagonist. She bides her time and when she strikes she does not forget
to strike a harder, wider-reaching, more terrible blow than can be
compassed by a single individuality or a single generation. This is
the lesson that, so far, we have absolutely refused to learn. I do not
hesitate to take issue with the Inspector, therefore, and say that it
is far better for society, far better for the fathers of unfortunate
victims of sex mania, far better for the victim himself that he be "on
the Island with hands muffled or tied behind him," where death to one
will end the misery to all, than that by applying the remedy which
the Inspector recommends, the result should be, as it is, a
future generation of sex maniacs, scrofulous, epileptic or simply
constitutionally undermined weaklings.

The boys who are encouraged to "sow their wild oats" and taught that it
is safe to do so under State regulation should hear the reports of some
of the students of hereditary traits, conditions and developments. There
is to-day in an asylum not so far from the Inspector's own door but that
its records are easy of access, one victim of this pernicious theory
whose history runs thus: He was a gentleman of good social, financial
and mental surroundings. He was a "young man about town." He possessed,
(perhaps it was an hereditary trait) more consciousness of the fact that
he was a male animal than that he was an intelligent, self-respecting
human being who had no moral right to degrade another human being for
his gratification, while he assumed to still retain a higher and safer
plane than his companions in vice. He was, in brief, no better and no
worse than many young fellows who--alas, that they are so taught by men
who believe themselves good and honorable--"turn out to be good family

After his system was thoroughly inoculated, physically, mentally, and
morally or ethically, with the tone, the condition, the _trend_ of the
life which the inspector, and many other good men, insist is unfit for
the ears of women, but necessary to the welfare of men and "best" for
them; after his life and flesh had this trend and absorption he married
a lovely wife from a good family. All went well. Society smiled (this is
history, not fiction), and said that rapid men when they did marry, made
the best husbands after all. It said such men knew better how to fully
appreciate purity at home.

Society did not state that there could be no purity in a stream where
half of the tributaries are polluted. But society was satisfied to talk
of "pure homes" so long as there was one pure partner to the compact,
which resulted in the home. It does not talk of an honest firm if but
one of its members is (privately and in his own person,) honest while
he accedes to the dishonest practices of his associates. But society
was satisfied. A child was born, society was charmed. Four more children
came. Society said that this late profligate was doing his duty as a
good citizen of the State. He is now about forty-seven years old. He is
a "paretic" in an asylum, and, if that were all, then the inspector's
theory might still stand, because he would say that at least the awful
calamity had been staved off all these years while he had built a "pure"
home and left to his country others to take his place. The facts
are these: His oldest son is an epileptic, the second is a physical
caricature of a man, the third is a moral idiot. He has no moral sense
at all, while he is mentally bright. He delights in victimizing dogs,
cats, or even smaller children. All things, in fact, which are in his
power are his legitimate prey. Then there is a girl. In the phraseology
of the doctor she "shows only the general, constitutional signs of her

The youngest son is now less than seven years old; he is such a
hopeless sex maniac even now that the parents of other children do not
dare allow them to be alone with him for one moment.

In telling me of this case the asylum physician, himself a profound
student of heredity, said of the child:

"He would shame an old Parisian debauchee. The Spartans were not so far
wrong after all. They killed all such children as these before they had
the chance to grow up and still further pollute the stream of life."
And so our good citizen followed only the usual course prescribed by the
inspector--and by society--and the result is (leaving out the horrible,
necessary sacrifice of a woman--some woman or some number of women)--the
result of the plan is this; a house of vice, (in a secluded quarter "for
greater safety"); a few years of license which he believed to be his
legitimate perquisite in the world and "no harm done;" the association
of the later years of his wasted energies, and his pretense and
vice-soaked life and flesh with the life of a pure girl, and then
the legacy to society of five more sex maniacs, (who, being born in a
wedlock, which, by its present terms, laws, and theories, still further
develops sex mania in men and thereby implants the disease in each
generation to be fought with or yielded to again); a doddering,
drivelling wreck of a man in an asylum at the prime of his manhood; a
worse than widowed wife with a knowledge in her soul which is an undying
serpent as she looks in despair upon the five lives she has given, in
her pathetic ignorance and trust. And his is not an unusual record.
Of course its details are seldom known outside of the family and
physicians. It is legitimate fruit of a tree which society in its
avarice and ignorance and vice carefully fosters. It is the tree, the
fruit of which fills our jails, mad-houses, asylums, poorhouses and
prisons year after year, and yet we tend it carefully and keep its root
strong and vigorous by exactly the methods recommended by the police
inspector and by all believers in State regulated and State licensed
vice, that is: It must be systematically continued for the good of
"robust boys who might else be on the island with muffled hands. It must
be kept in certain quarters and secret for greater safety to men, and
that our wives and daughters may not hear of it."

Not hear of it until when? Not until the years come when the honest
physician must tell her, if not the cause, at least the horrible facts,
when it is too late for her to prevent the awful crime of giving life
to the children of such a husband. We hold it a terrible crime to take
life. Is it not far more terrible in such a case to give life? In the
one instance the results to the victims are simply the sudden ending of
a more or less desirable existence in a more or less comfortable
world. In the other case it is assuming to thrust unasked upon helpless
children a living death, an inheritance of pollution which must, and
does, develop itself in one or another form as the years go by. Which is
the greater, more awful responsibility, to give or to take life? The law
says the latter.

Is it certain that heredity--nature's surest and least heeded
voice--does not in many cases say the former? When society is wiser it
will be a bit more like the Spartans. It will say: Far better that they
be "on the island" than that they lay their fatal curse upon the world
to expand and blight to the third and fourth generation, and, I believe,
it was to be the "sin of the _fathers_" which was thus to follow the
children, was it not? What was that sin? Are not its roots to be found
in the very soil advocated as good by believers in State regulation and
in a double standard of morals, and in the ignorance which they say
is desirable for "our wives and daughters." Ignorance that such things
exist as the secret, legalized, regulated slaughter (social, moral, and
actually physical) of hundreds and thousands of one sex at the demands
and for the gratification of the other?

Are there not sex maniacs in more directions than one?

Is not this very double standard theory in itself a sex mania?

Are not the men who advocate and the legislators who make laws which
recognize these double moral standards, and who ignore the plainest
fingerboards set up by nature in hereditary conditions--are not these,
in a sense, one and all sex maniacs?

When they talk of "keeping our wives and daughters" pure and ignorant
they do not seem to realize that the taint of blood which flows in the
veins of that very daughter, which she herself does not understand, and
which an ignorant mother does not dream of, and therefore cannot stand
guard over, flows as an ever present threat that she shall be one of
those very outcasts whom her own father is laboring to quarantine in
darkness and oblivion!

Nature has no favorites.

Heredity does not spare _your_ daughter, and yet men who plant the seeds
of sex perversion in their own families have the infinite impudence to
cast from their doors the blossom of their own tillage!

They go into heroics about being "disgraced." "You are no longer child
of mine!" that rings in a thousand pages of literature, in one hundred
cases out of one hundred and one should be met by the reply: This act
of mine proves as no other could that _I am_, indeed, _your_ daughter!
Blood of your blood and flesh of your flesh! Nature has told your secret
through me. Let us cry quits. You put the cursed taint in my blood when
I could not protect myself. _I_ am the one to complain, not you. Do not
cry out for quarter like a very coward. Face your record made in flesh
and blood. This polluted life of mine is Nature's reply to _your_ life
of license and uncleanness! _I_ am Nature's reply to your uncontrolled
passions--_inside of marriage and out_; I, the moral or mental idiot;
I, the disease polluted wreck; I, the epileptic; I, the lunatic; I,
the drunkard; I, the wrecker of the lives of others--I am your lineal
descendant! You sacrificed others recklessly, by act and by law, to your
desires and your arbitrary sex power; you cultivated a taint in your

It is true that you took the precaution to transmit it through purity
and ignorance to me. That very purity and ignorance of my mother served
to save your peace of mind and enable you to take advantage of her for
infinite opportunity for mischief. It, alas, could not save me, for I am
your child also. Her ignorance was your partner in a crime against
me, her helpless infant! Do not complain. Dislike my face as you will;
presented to you in whatsoever form or phase of distortion it may be,
I am your direct, lineal descendant! Build better! Or go down with the
structure you planned for other men's daughters and in which you locked
me before I was born!

If, because of their sex, men demand privileges, rights, emoluments,
honors, opportunities and freedom, which they claim as good for and
necessary to them and their welfare, while they insist that all these
are not to be allowed to women--would be her damnation--are not these,
also, sex maniacs? Has not humanity been long enough cursed by so
degrading and degraded, so ignorant and so fatally wrong a mental,
moral, social and legal outlook? I am attacking no individual. I am
using an individual utterance on this subject simply to the better
present the side of the case which is sustained by all of our present
laws, conditions and male sentiment. I am wishing to present the
reverse side of this awful picture. From man's point of view it is often
presented--and in many ways. But once or twice have I ever seen the
other side in print where it was looked at from a rational or scientific
point of view.

A short time ago a book was written which touched, to a moderate degree,
woman's side as well as the general human side of this problem. It was
put in the form of a novel that it might appeal to a larger reading
public than would an essay or magazine article. It had a tremendous
sale, and the only--or the chief--adverse criticism made upon it was,
that it pictured a type of father which either did not exist or was too
rare to be even taken as an illustration in fiction. Now, it is this
very type of father of which the Inspector speaks thus: "Men of candid
judgment, religious men, know too, that they had rather have their live,
robust boys err in this indulgence than think of them in the places of
those unfortunates on the island, etc., etc."

That is exactly the point made by the book referred to, and which was
criticised by one man as "morbid in its imaginings about fathers." Is
this Inspector "morbid?"

He said: "This is a desperately practical question with more than a
theoretical or sentimental side. It ought to be talked about and better
understood among fathers."

And I agree with him perfectly so far.

It is indeed, a desperately practical question for both men and
women and Anthropology and Heredity teach, in all peoples and in each
succeeding generation, that the question has not been solved by the
adoption of the double standard of morals!

It is so desperately practical that the land is literally covered with
the deplorable results, in hospitals, in prisons, in imbecile asylums
and in mad houses; but when he goes on to "thank God that this vice is
hidden, and that thousands of wives and daughters do not know of even
its existence," it impresses me that the Inspector is, in deploring the
ignorance of fathers and commending it in mothers, attempting to still
farther hedge boys about with a condition which inevitably makes of them
sex maniacs in more directions than one. Is not his mother as deeply
interested in her boy's welfare as is his father? Is it not to her eyes
and wisdom his younger days are most left and to whose watchfulness,
intelligence and information he must be trusted not to develop or
acquire fatal habits? or if he has them in his blood as a heritage from
his father, or from his father's father, by whom vice was looked upon as
"safe" if only kept from the ears and eyes of wife and daughter; is
it not imperative that the trained eye and mind of a woman who is not
ignorant of nor blind to the very earliest indications that Nature has
sent a message that there is a blood taint, so that, in so far as it
is possible she may labor to modify and control his awful inheritance
before it has him in a fatal grip?

Instead of this being the case it is advocated as desirable that she
be even "ignorant of the existence of such vice!" It is due more to the
fact that she has been ignorant than to any other one thing that, later
on, the boy's developed hereditary curse, or his acquired bad habits,
have so fixed themselves upon his young mind and body that the Inspector
and the boy's father find themselves in a position to choose between
a straight jacket for the boy himself, or first a wrecked and outraged
womanhood and later on descendants that are marked with a brand that is
worse than Cain's.

The Inspector says that such disclosures as Dr. Talmage's sermon before
innocent women and girls do vastly more harm than a host of sin that is
compelled to hide its head.

Now what is the implication? Did he mean to imply that those places
have, since the sermon, been thronged with the "wives and daughters of
Brooklyn?" If not, how did he know that it "polluted _their_ minds?" Has
he not jumped at that conclusion and cast a slur upon the wrong sex? the
sex that did _not_ "squander its money in patronizing these resorts?"
Was not that a rather desperate effort to sustain an argument by a

Are women's minds polluted by a knowledge of vice which they avoid
intelligently rather than simply escape from ignorantly? Are ignorance
and innocence the same thing? Did the Inspector believe that a knowledge
of the degradation into which their sons are led and pushed by just
such theories as these backed by a blind hereditary impulse which has
no intelligent care from a wise parentage, did he believe that such
knowledge would drive or lure "wives and daughters" into polluting vice?
And is it not strange to hear of a condition of things which can be
spoken of as good and desirable for boys and men which is in the same
breath depicted as pollution even to the ears of women? Can good women
live with these same men and not be polluted? How about the children?

Man has for ages past, claimed to be the logical animal. Beasts have no
logic at all, and in this regard woman has been gallantly classed, if
not exactly with the beasts, certainly not with man. We may say she has
been counted by him as a sort of missing link. She had logic--if she
agreed with all he said. Otherwise she was an emotional, irrational,
unclassified creature.

Now, when it comes to dealing with his fellows, man has--in the main--a
fair amount of reason and logic; but the moment he is called upon to
think of woman as simply a human being like himself, to deal with and
for her as such, to give her a chance to do the same with, and by,
and for herself, that moment man becomes an emotional, irrational sex
maniac. He is absolutely unable to look upon woman as first of all, a
free individuality, a human being on exactly the same plane as himself.
She is instantly "wife," "daughter," or victim to his mind always. Never
for one instant does he contemplate her as an entity entitled to life
and liberty, for, and because of herself. Always it is her relation to
him that he sees and deals with--and alas for his theories of justice,
gallantry or right--always it is as his subordinate, for his use, abuse,
or pleasure, that he thinks of and plans for her.

Why confine gilded houses to one quarter? To keep their vicious inmates
away from "our wives and daughters, and the streets which they are on,"
says the Inspector. But that is making sex irregularity a reason for
restricting liberty of residence and resort--even of promenade and
pleasure. That is to say, it restricts the liberty of one party to the
vice--to the irregularity of sex relations. And unfortunately it is the
wrong party who is restricted to compass the object claimed! The one
whose vice can and actually does injure--the wife and daughter--(the
pure woman who is his victim in marriage, and the daughter who is his
victim in heredity) the one who can do infinite wrong, is left to roam
at large!

It is the wrong partner in vice from whom State regulation seeks to
"protect" "our wives and daughters." It is the one who can do the
intelligent wife or daughter no harm whatever!

Man, we are told, is the logical animal. Why not apply a bit of logic
right here? Why not set a watch on and restrict the one who does the
real and permanent harm to the race?

Men claim that it is necessary to their health, happiness and comfort
to sacrifice utterly the characters, health, lives, and even liberty of
locomotion of thousands of women every year. This is simply infamous and
Nature teaches its infamy and unnaturalness.

From the protozoan to the highest beast or bird there is no distinction
of right, or opportunity or privilege as to the occupation, life,
liberty or the pursuit of happiness anywhere in nature between the
sexes until we reach the one species of animal where one sex has been
subordinated to the other by artificial industrial conditions--by
financial dependence.

Now, it so happens that as civilization goes on, Nature is taking a most
terrible revenge upon the human race for this sex perversion. Asylums
multiply, weaklings abound, criminals and lunatics blossom out from
heretofore honored ancestry. Nature is a terrible antagonist. Having
the power, man may pollute the fountain of life if he will, but Nature
revenges herself on him still.

He may cover his vice with the shimmer of gold, but the curse of the
serpent is there as of old. He may bind up the eyes of justice and
right; but he learns at the last 'tis a desperate fight. A cover for
vice in the father may be as fatal as ignorant maternity. Combined they
sow broadcast on the air the horrors of life and breed its despair.
It is to the "ignorance of our wives and daughters" on these points,
combined with the silence of law-protected vice for men and "regulated"
infamy for women that is due the possibility of passing in some states a
bill to reduce to ten years the "age of consent" at which a girl is held
legally responsible for her own ruin. If there was one good woman in the
legislature no such bill would have a ghost of a chance to pass, or be
kept from the public knowledge and rushed through a "secret session."
Yet fathers of daughters pass such bills!

Is it true, after all, that men are not so good protectors of women as
is woman of her sister? Ten years of age! Why, a girl is a baby then!
Think of your own little girl at ten! Do not dare to stop thinking
and talking and writing on the subject until such infamous laws are an

Do not allow any one to make you believe that it is not "modest" or
becoming for a woman to know about--and fight to the bitter death--any
and all such laws! You have no right _not_ to know it! You have no right
to dare to bring into this world a child who shall be subject to such
a law! It seems beyond belief but it is true. And then men talk of
"protecting" women! Men who hold that a girl is not old enough to give
lawful consent to lawful marriage or to the sale of property until she
is 18 years old, say she is, at the age of ten, to be held old enough to
give consent to her own eternal disgrace, ruin, degradation!

That such atrocious acts are possible is largely due to the fact that
"our wives and daughters" do not know these things. The ignorance of
one sex in all the vital affairs of life coupled with its financial
dependence upon the other sex has gone far to make of all men sex
maniacs and of so many children the victims of a polluted ancestry and
the future progenitors of an enfeebled race.

A famous physician who is an expert in these matters says in one of his
articles, read before his brother practitioners: "There are few families
in this country not tainted with one or another form of sex pollution.
If it is not physical in its demonstrations it is mental. Often it is
both, and to the trained eye, and thought, of a student of anthropology
and heredity, the present outlook is pitiful, indeed."

And again he says--and remember that it is not said by a woman about
man. It is the serious warning of a famous expert to his fellows who
were to meet and guard, in their profession, against the hereditary
results of just the sort of legislative provision which has gone far to
make of man the sex maniac he is. He said: "The wild beast is slumbering
in us all. It is not necessary, always, to invoke insanity to account
for its awakening." And if you will take the trouble to understand those
few sentences by a great specialist you will have found the whole of my
essay a mere illustration.


In discussing any question which involves the welfare and happiness of
people who live to-day, or are to live hereafter, I think we may take
it for granted that we must consider it in the light of conditions
now existing or those likely to exist in the future. We must clearly
understand to what domain the question fairly belongs; whether it is a
question of vital importance between human beings in their relations
to each other, and whether it is a matter in which the law is the final
appeal. We may fairly assume that the questions of marriage and divorce
have to do with this world only. Indeed, that point is yielded by the
marriage service adopted by the various Christian churches when it says,
"until death us do part," and by the reply said to have been given by
Christ himself, to the somewhat puzzling query put to him as to whose
wife the seven times married woman would be in heaven.

According to the record, he evaded (somewhat skilfully it must be
admitted) the real question; but his reply at least warrants us in
saying that he held the view that the marriage relation had nothing
whatever to do with another life, but belonged to the province of this
world only, and the necessities and duties of human beings toward each
other here.

This point is conceded, too, by every church when it permits the widowed
to re-marry, and gives them clerical sanction.

Therefore the religious and the civil basis of discussion are logically
on the same premises, and in America, at least, where there is no
contest as to the established fact that all divorces must be legal and
not ecclesiastical, it is clear that the law does not recognize religion
at all in the matter. While a religious marriage service may hold in
law, a religious divorce would be illegal, in fact, fraudulent. It is
conceded on all sides then, as we have seen, that marriage is a matter
pertaining strictly to this world. It affects the happiness or misery of
men and women in their relations with each other, and not at all in any
assumed relation with another life, or a supposititious duty to a Deity.

This would logically take marriage, as it has already taken divorce,
out of the hands of the clergy, since religion and its duties are based
primarily and necessarily upon the relations of human beings to another
life and to a supernatural or Supreme Being. The terms of marriage and
divorce--so far as the public is concerned--are questions of morals and

That is to say, if there were but one man and one woman in the world
it would be for them to say whether they would be married at all,
or--having been married--whether they would stay married, if they
discovered that the relation was productive of misery to one or both.
They could divorce themselves at will without injury and without fear.
But since humanity is associated in groups constituting what is called
society or the state, and since under present conditions men are the
chief producers and owners of wealth and the means of livelihood, the
support of women and children is a matter which affects the welfare of
all so associated, in case the parents separate. The question of divorce
is, therefore, partly in the field of economics and has to do with
the general welfare. This being the case, law and not religion rightly
regulates its terms. People marry because they believe that it will
promote their happiness to do so. I am talking now of ordinary
people under ordinary circumstances, and not of those victims of
institutions--such as kings and princesses--who are married for state
reasons. Nor am I writing of those still greater victims who are taught
that it is their "duty" to marry in order to produce as many of their
kind as possible in a world already sadly overpopulated by the very
class thus influenced and controlled by greed and power. That is to
say, they are so taught by those who are benefited by the unintelligent
increase of an ignorant population.

Since marriage is the most important, solemn, aed sacred contract into
which two people can enter, and since it affects--or may affect--others
than themselves, the State requires that it be public, that the form of
contract be legal and that its terms be respected by both parties, to
the end that others may not be deceived or left helpless.

But if the parties to this contract learn to their sorrow that the
association is productive of misery, if they grow to loathe each other,
if instead of happiness, it results in sorrow or ill health, then surely
the State is not interested in forcing those two people to continue in
a condition which is opposed to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. It is however, concerned in the terms of the separation since
these do or may affect others than the two principals, and since one or
both of these, having entered into a contract (in which the State was
a witness) and now being desirous of terminating said contract, may be
defrauded in a manner which vitally affects society. It can hardly be
claimed that society is benefited by forcing two people to live in the
same house and become the parents of children, when these two people
have for each other only loathing or contempt. If it cannot benefit
society, then who is benefited by the forced continuance of the marriage
relation? The children? Can any rational person believe that it is
well to rear children in an atmosphere of hatred, of contention, of

Do not our penal institutions answer this question? Are the inmates of
these from homes where harmony reigned? Statistics show plainly that
they are not; and they also show that an enormous per cent, of them
come from the families of those who are not allowed by their church the
relief of divorce from bonds grown galling. Children conceived by hatred
and fear, overpowered by the lowest grade of passion known to the world
(which cannot be called brutal, because the brutes are not guilty of
it), bred in an atmosphere of contention, deception, and dread, are fit
material for, and statistics prove that they are the class from which
are recruited the inmates of, the reformatory and penal institutions.

Is it fair to a child that it be so reared? Is it not right--is it not
the duty of the State to secure, so far as it may, quite the opposite
conditions of life for its helpless future citizens? Are the highest and
best types of character bred in discord? Is the State interested in
the high character of its future citizens? All these questions and many
others are involved.

But setting aside these most important features I would like to ask
who is benefited by keeping together those whom hate has separated? The
wife? Not at all. She is simply degraded below the frail creatures of
the street whom men deride. She becomes the helpless instrument of her
own degradation. The woman of the street may own herself, she may
change her life, she may refuse to continue in the course which has lost
her her self-respect. The unwilling wife is helpless. She has lost all.
She has no refuge. She is a more degraded slave than ever felt the lash,
for her slavery is one which sears her soul and will, if she becomes a
mother, sear the bodies and souls of children borne by her unwillingly.

It can hardly be urged that it could add to the dignity or honor of
womanhood for a tie to be indissoluble which in itself, under such
conditions, is a degradation and an insult. Take for example a drunken,
a dissolute or a brutal husband. Can it be said to strike at anything
dear or noble for womankind that some wife is absolutely freed from such
companionship? That she be no longer forced to bear his society or even
his name? Surely no good end can be served by the outward continuance of
a tie already broken in fact. No one can be made better, no one happier.
If it is urged that a God is to be considered, surely such a state of
things could hardly excite his pleasure or admiration. If marriages are
made in heaven those that prove a misfit--so to speak--can scarcely
be claimed by believers in an all-wise ruler to emanate from there.
Religious people will, I fancy, be the last to assert that wrong had its
source in such a locality; while people who look upon this question as
wholly outside of sacramental lines will be slow to see beauty or good
in a relation which is a servitude and a degradation on the one side and
a brutal domination on the other.

How does the question stand then? The wife is degraded, the children
are brutalized--are born with evil tendencies--a God can hardly be
overjoyed; society is endangered and robbed, is deprived from its
very cradle of its inalienable right to happiness. Who is left to be
considered? The husband?

Would any man worthy the name wish to be the husband of an unwilling
wife? If he has a spark of honor or manhood in him could such a
relationship, held by force, give him happiness? Would it not be
unendurable to him?

If he is so far below the brutes in his relationship with his mate that
he can hold his position only by force is he a fit father of children?
Is the State interested in reproducing his kind?

It is true that there are several reasons why divorce is far more
important to women than to men--notwithstanding which fact the question
is usually discussed in the Press and Legislature by men only, the
other interested party not being supposed to have enough at stake to
be consulted or heard in the matter at all. But it is also true that an
uncongenial marriage deprives a man of all of the best that is in him;
it reduces his home to a mere den of discomfort and wretchedness; it
forces him to be either a hypocrite at or an absentee from his own
hearthstone and deprives him of the blessedness and sympathy--the holy
tenderness and beauty--that should be the star in the crown of every man
entitled to the name of husband and father.

But he still owns his own body. He cannot be made an unwilling father
of timid, diseased, or brutalized children; he is not a financial
dependent. For these and other reasons an unhappy marriage can never
mean to a man what it must always mean to a woman.

There is an argument frequently put forward that divorce is wrong
and unfair to the children of those so separated in case the divorced
parties remarry and other children are added to the family. One great
Prelate asked in his article on this subject: "Can we look with anything
short of horror upon such a condition of things? Here is a family, we
will say, composed of the children of three divorced fathers--all by one

This is an extreme and not a pleasing case, we may admit; but suppose
the divorce were by death would the distinguished Prelate be so shocked?
Is it especially uncommon, indeed, for the most devout men and women to
marry three times? Are "half" brothers and sisters and "step" children a
subject of moral shock to the most rigid religionists? Jesus appeared to
approve of a woman marrying seven times. How about a mixed family there?
Does the distinguished Prelate take issue with his Lord? No, the whole
question hinges on the continuance of the life of the parties separated
or divorced. If one of them dies the mixed family relation is not
counted either a sin or a shame. If they live and the divorce is granted
by law instead of by nature it is pronounced both.

In whose interest is this distinction maintained? We have seen that it
is not for the honor of the wife that a loathsome marriage relation
be indissoluble, that it can lend neither dignity nor happiness to the
husband, that it is one of the fruitful causes of diseased and criminal
childhood and that it is, therefore, necessarily, a menace to society.

Legally, morally, economically, then, it is a mistake, and it is
productive of great misery. Who then is benefited? Why is the attempt
so strongly made to revise the laws and check the growing liberality in
divorce legislation?

Who are the movers in that direction and upon what do they base their
arguments? What is the final appeal of these combatants? I shall answer
the two last questions first. The orthodox clergy and their followers,
basing their arguments on the Bible as the final appeal, demand that
this reform go backward. Why?

Because their creeds and tenets have always claimed that marriage is a
sacrament and not a legal contract, that it is or should be under the
control of the clergy, and that the Bible and St. Paul say so and so
about it. The Catholic Church has, by keeping control of the marriage of
its believers, made sure of the children--their education--and therefore
insured to itself their future adherence. It has perpetuated itself and
its power by this means. It is, therefore, not difficult to see why that
church so warmly opposes any movement which can only result in disaster
to its growth and power. Her communicants are taught that it is their
duty to increase and multiply, and this in spite of the fact that
poverty and crime, want and ignorance stare in the face a large per
cent, of the very class which it is thus sought to swell. The Catholics
are the most prolific and furnish _by far_ the largest per cent, of both
paupers and criminals of any other class of the community. With
them marriage is a sacrament; divorce is not allowed, or if allowed,
remarriage is prohibited. Children are born with astounding frequency
of subject mothers to brutal fathers. They are bred in a constant
atmosphere of contention, bickering, and in short, warfare. The result
is inevitable. Contest--war--brings out all the worst elements and
passions in human nature. This fact is well understood where war
is conducted between large bodies of men; but in such case there is
supposed to be a motive--some patriotic principle involved to stir and
call out, also, some of the better nature; but in the petty warfare of
the wretched household there is nothing to redeem life from the basest.

But suppose all this is true, say the advocates of the forced
continuance of the marriage relation; the Bible--our creeds--teach us
to refuse the relief of divorce, and we are bound at any cost to sustain
the indissolubility of the marriage bond. True, for those who accept
these creeds or the Bible as a finality; but to those who do not, the
State owes a duty. Church and State are separated in America, it is
claimed. A magistrate can marry a man and woman, just as he can draw up
another contract. When the State went that far it told the people that
it did not hold marriage as a sacrament. It then and there took the
ground that it was a legal contract, and had no necessary connection
with religious belief or observance. It logically follows, then, that if
the State deals with marriage as a thing not touched by religious belief
or Biblical injunction, that the question of divorce--the terms of the
contract--are also quite outside of the province of the clergy. This
being the case, it appears as futile and as foolish to discuss this
question--making of it a religious one--from the basis of the creeds or
the Bible, as it would be to discuss the rate of interest on money or
the wages per day for labor, from the same outlook.

Believers in the finality of Biblical teaching are at liberty to hold
their marriages as indissoluble, but have no right to insist upon
forcing their religious dogmas upon others, nor to attempt to
crystalize them into law for those who believe otherwise. No doubt
the Bible gave the best light of the Jews, in the day in which it was
written, on these and other subjects. We are quite willing to suppose
that the various creeds and usages of the churches did the same, for the
people whom they represented, but the creeds and the Bible have nothing
whatever to do with the social and economic problems of our day, nor
with the legal questions of our time.

The more they are dragged into places where they do not belong, the more
it is discovered that "revision" is necessary. The old creeds and the
Bible are fast undergoing revision and are recut to fit the people and
the present. It is quite impossible to revise and recut the people and
the present to fit the old creeds and the literature of the Jews.

Let us have done with such trifling with the serious problems of the
day. It is not at all a question of whether St. Paul said or thought
this or that about divorce. It is not at all important what some dead
and gone Potentate said; the question before us is: What is best for
society as it is now? Indeed it appears to me futile to discuss this
subject at all if it is to be done from a theological basis. Every
fairly intelligent person knows what the church teaches in the matter.
One paragraph and a half dozen Biblical references with a notable name
appended is all the space necessary to consume. We all know that in
substance the Catholic church's answer to the question "Is Divorce
wrong?" is emphatically, "Yes."

We are also aware that that church revises its opinions more slowly than
does any other.

It is equally well known to the intelligent reader that the variations
from the emphatic Yes of the Catholic church, run the scale in the
Protestant denominations from a moderately firm yes to a distinctly
audible no. Given the denomination and a slight knowledge of its
history--whether it claims to be infallible and divine, as the Catholic
and Episcopal, or only partly so as the Methodist, Presbyterian, and
Congregational, or whether as the Unitarian and Universalist they claim
to be human only--and you are prepared to state what the adherents
of those churches will hold as to the marriage and divorce questions
without resort to long papers or circumlocution. Now, for the various
sects to teach or believe what they please on this and other subjects
is their undoubted right so long as they do not attempt to control other
people in matters which are outside of the province of the church, and
so long as their own adherents are satisfied to abide by the decisions
of the communion to which they belong.

The question is, then, what is best for society as it is and as it is
likely to be? What is best for society as it is now? Who is benefited or
who harmed by the continuance of a loathesome relationship? Is the State
and are the people interested in refusing to allow two people to correct
a mistake once made? Is it for the good of anyone to make mistakes

I repeat that it is a question in economics and morals. It has nothing
whatever to do with religion.

Let us keep our minds clear of rubbish, and above all let us request
that our legislators do not tamper with a question of such vital
importance to women, in any manner (as is just now proposed) to
crystalize the divorce laws into national form and application,
until women be heard in the matter, freely and fully, without fear or
intimidation. If it were proposed to make a national law for railroads
without giving a hearing to but one side of the question; if it
were suggested that Congress pass an educational bill of universal
application without permitting any but its friends to be heard; if a
general measure to control interest on money were up, and none of the
money-lenders were given a hearing--only borrowers--there would be a
great stir made about the injustice and inequity of such legislation.
But it is deliberately proposed to pass a national marriage and divorce
law, to regulate the one condition of life which is absolutely vital
to women under present conditions, and to make this law a part of the
national Constitution, without taking the trouble to hear one word from
her on the subject. Let us agitate this question thoroughly. Let us
discuss it on the basis where it belongs; where our laws have already
put it--the economic, and moral, and social basis. Let us clear the
track of both sentimentality and superstition. Let us hear from both
sides--from both parties interested. We do not drag religion into the
interstate commerce debate. When a bill comes up for street-paving,
nobody inquires what kind of stone St. Paul was interested in having put
down. When the Chinese bill is before us, it is not necessary to know
what St. Sebastian thought of the laundry business. Their views may have
been sound; but they do not apply. I repeat, therefore, let us keep to
the subject, keep the subject on the basis where it belongs, have our
conclusions at least blood relatives of our premises, and let us hear
from both sides of the fireplace. And finally, let us discuss this
matter thoroughly but let us keep clear of passing a national law until
both parties to the contract be heard, not only in the press, but in the
legislative deliberations.

A recent writer of one of the ablest and clearest papers yet
contributed on this subject, in arguing in favor of an amendment to
the Constitution, which shall make divorce laws uniform, says: "Let it
clearly be shown that Congress can best legislate in the interests of
the _whole people_ (the italics are mine) upon the subject, and the
people, and their representatives, the legislative assemblies, can be
trusted to authorize it." It does not occur to even this able writer
that half of the "whole people" will have no representation in either
the legislative assemblies nor in Congress, and that on this subject
above all others, this unrepresented half has far more at stake than has
the other, and that when an amendment to the national Constitution is
accomplished, it is a very much more difficult thing to correct any
blunder it may contain, than it would be if the blunder were not made a
part of that instrument.

All men appear to agree that marriage is preeminently woman's "sphere."
Certainly under existing conditions, and under conditions as they are
likely to be for some time to come, it is the one field open to her--it
is her "lot." At present she has nothing to say as to the laws which
control--as to the terms of this single contract of her life--the one
disposition she is free to make of herself and still retain her social
status and secure support. It would seem only humane to place no farther
thorns in her path. Until she has a voice--is represented--the "whole
people" cannot amend the Constitution in respect to marriage and
divorce--in respect to the "one sphere" which all men concede is woman's
one peculiar right.

No laws on these subjects--above all others--should be crystalized into
national form and appended to the Constitution until it is done by the
help and with the consent of the half of the people whom it will most
seriously affect.


     Many of the worst features in Life assurance contracts or
     policies, mentioned in this essay, have been amended or
     corrected since its publication, but there remain enough
     other conditions of doubtful fairness to the policy holder
     to, I think, justify including this essay in this book.

     Among these conditions, is the clause, in all Tontine
     policies,--and nearly all policies now issued are Tontine in
     one form or another,--which puts all accumulations on
     policies derived from "dividends," premiums, etc., on lapsed
     policies etc., into the hands of directors or officers of
     the companies, to do with as they choose, the policy holder
     being made, by the terms of his contract or policy, to agree
     to accept whatever proportion of surplus there may be
     "apportioned by the Society" or Company, to his policy, when
     it shall have matured. That is, the policy holder is not
     represented as against the Company, in the determining of
     what, if any surplus, his policy is or should be entitled
     to. "At the end of the Tontine Period, if the person proposed
     for assurance be then living, and the policy in force, the
     policy shall participate in the accumulated surplus, derived
     from policies on the Free Tontine plan, both existing and
     discontinued, as may then be apportioned by the Society."
     (Italics mine.) This leaves the policy holder absolutely at
     the mercy of the Company, or its actuary who is, or may be,
     the instrument of the officers of the Company. And it will
     not do to reply that "the policy holders are the Company"
     for it is well known, at least among insurance experts, that
     this is one of the fictions of the business in its practical

     In illustration of certain other abuses in the management of
     this beneficent and important business, I have also
     included, brief, humorous sketch, which touches some of
     these, a propoi of the fictions versus the facts.

Within the past twenty years the business of life-insurance has grown
with such wonderful rapidity, and changed so radically in its methods
and contracts, that it is to-day as unlike its old self as the
railway-car is unlike the stage-coach.

The old life-insurance contract undertook to define burglary, riot, and
rebellion, and the companies held themselves free from obligations which
they had deliberately assumed, if the other party to the contract did
not conform to the rules of conduct laid down under their definition
and requirements. Nowhere else in the history of large business
organizations has the debtor regulated his obligation by the morals of
his creditor and liquidated his debt by acknowledging its existence, and
then simply charging moral obliquity on the part of said creditor as the
reason for not paying it.

If A owes B fifty dollars, and B is known to be a thief or a
murderer, it does not liquidate A's debt to simply show that fact. But
life-insurance companies have held, and some of them still claim, the
right to so indemnify creditors, and, strange to say, they have been
able to conduct business on that basis. They have even gone further, and
said that a debt to B's heirs is forfeited in like manner--thus making
the destruction of a man's reputation after his death of pecuniary
advantage to the company. They have been enabled to do this because many
men do not read the insurance contract which they sign, and hence have
no idea of its complicated and, in many cases, unfair nature. If men
insisted upon understanding the contract before they sign it, as they do
in other business, the more unfair features would necessarily disappear
from all insurance contracts.

If I deposit a thousand dollars in a bank, it is my money--I can
withdraw it when I please, subject, of course, to business rules, which
have nothing to do with my standing as a citizen. The bank has nothing
to say in regard to my loyalty or my honesty in other affairs. My money
can not revert to the bank on outside ethical or moral grounds. But
in life-insurance--a business in which more money is invested than in
banking--the opposite rule has been, and to some extent still is, in

There are a few companies, it is true, which have rarely taken advantage
of their reserved right to mulct a family of money actually received,
upon the plea of outside ethical delinquencies of the dead--which had
nothing to do with his length of life--and there are companies, at the
present time, which have voluntarily eliminated the greater part of
these oppressive regulations and reserved rights from their forms of
contract. But in many of the companies they still remain in full force,
and in almost all there are improvements of a most important nature
needed even yet.

In other words, while one or two companies have made their contracts,
in large part, what contracts purport to be, a guarantee of good
faith--that, if so much money is paid to them during a stated interval,
they will return to the party insured, or to his heirs, a stated sum
at a given time--there are still many which have not so improved their
contracts, and are doing business in the old way, depending for success
on the ignorance of their applicants in regard to the unfair conditions
of the contracts which they sign. A few have left out most of the
thousand and one ifs and ands and provideds of the old regime, and
have at last undertaken to conduct this important and rapidly-growing
business on strictly business principles, and the results have
abundantly attested the wisdom of the new departure and indicate the
advisability of still more liberal measures. A man may now, if he is
careful and wise with his choice of a company, insure his life, or,
if insured, he may have the temerity to die, without a fairly-grounded
expectation of leaving his family a lawsuit for a legacy. He may also be
reasonably sure that he is not placing his own reputation (after he is
unable to defend it) at the mercy of a powerful corporation intent upon
saving its funds from the inroads of a just debt. And I question if
it is too much to say that, given enough money, a strong motive, and a
powerful corporation, on the one hand, and only a sorrowing family upon
the other, and no man ever lived or died whose reputation could not
be blackened beyond repair, after he was himself unable to explain or
refute seeming irregularities of conduct or dishonesty of motive. No
man's character is invulnerable, and no man's reputation can afford the
strain or test of such a contest. Millions of dollars have been withheld
from rightful heirs by threats of an exposure--the more vague the more
frightful--of the unsuspected crimes or misdeeds of the beloved dead.

Thousands of cases never known to the public have been "compromised,"
and hundreds of heartaches and unjust suspicions and fears about the
dead, which can never be corrected, are aroused in sorrowing but loving
breasts by this method of doing "business." It is, of course, of the
utmost importance that every precaution be taken by life insurance
companies to protect against fraud and trickery, the funds held by them
in trust for others. But with the agent, the examining physician, the
medical directors, and the inspectors all employed by, and answerable
to, the company represented, if fraud is committed in getting into the
company, one or all of these paid officers must, almost of necessity,
be party to that fraud. With all these safeguards in the hands of the
company, if a man is accepted as a "good risk," if he pays his premiums,
surely his family has the right to expect a legacy and not a lawsuit,
nor a "compromise" which must cast reproach on the dead.

If it were not for the enormous value and benefits of this method of
making provision for his family, surely no man in his senses would ever
have risked--would not risk to-day--signing a contract which gives the
other interested party not only an absolute fixed sum of his money, year
by year, but also reserves to it the right to investigate and construe
his actions and motives after he is unable to contest its verdict.

And not only this, but upon the finding of some slight, wholly
immaterial flaw in his statements (which it failed to find when he was
in the hands of its agents and officers), in some companies he not only
forfeits the right of his heirs to their purchased inheritance, but the
company retains his money which he has paid in besides! This is surely a
dangerous contract for any man to sign. It is placing a temptation and
a power in the hands of a corporation that it has never yet been in the
nature of corporations not to abuse.

"If any statement in this application is in any respect untrue, it voids
the policy, and all payments which shall have been made revert to the
company," gives a wide field and doubtful motive of action when it is
remembered that many of the questions are of such a nature that not
one man in a thousand could be absolutely sure that he knew the correct

"At what age did your grandparents die?" All four of them. How many men
are sure that they can answer that question correctly? "Of what did each
one die?" You do not know. You have a general idea. You express it.
You pay your premiums ten years. You die (one doctor says of
consumption--another says of blood-poison); the company finds some old
person who says your grandmother on your father's side died of the
same thing, and there is a rumor that along-forgotten (or never known)
country cousin also had it.

The company sends a representative to the widow.. He assures her (and by
the very terms of the contract, signed by the dead husband, he is
right and she is helpless) that they can refuse to pay a cent; that her
husband got his policy by fraud--although no indication of his physical
disorder appeared to any of the numerous officers employed by the
company for its own protection, when he made his application, and by
general reports he was (and believed himself to be) a sound man.

He assures her that they want to be generous rather than just, and if
she will sign a release, or "compromise," she will be given a small
part of the sum named in the policy. He makes her feel the necessity of
keeping this bargain a secret, lest other policy holders object to the
company paying anything on the life of one who "attempted a fraud"
upon them! He impresses upon her that in case of contest she could
get absolutely nothing; that she is poor, and the company is rich and
strong; and if he fails to arouse her gratitude for his generosity
in offering to pay her anything whatever, he usually succeeds in
intimidating her in her poverty and distress. A sparrow in the hand is
worth more than an eagle on Mount Washington to a widow with a hungry
family, especially if the eagle has successfully maimed his pursuer in
the beginning of the flight.

The company knows this. The widow knows it. The conclusion is therefore
certain before the premises are stated, and the "compromise" is made or
the claim quietly dropped. It is easy to say that a man died of some bad
habit unknown to his family, and his family would rather forego their
claim than drag into light, or into disgrace, the memory of the loved
dead. All this is well understood by those on the "inside," and by
thousands of sad hearts that dare not speak. Is there no remedy for all
this? Is there no way that a useful and powerful business can be rid of
features which make it both dangerous and ghoulish?

The recent steps taken by the best companies are undoubtedly in the
right direction, as those still using the old forms of contract will
sooner or later learn. But there is room yet for improvement even in the
best forms written to-day. The fairest insurance contract written still
has room for improvement.

Is there no way to protect these great corporations against the frauds
of individuals, and at the same time protect the individual against the
frauds of the corporations?

Must life-insurance contracts be absolutely one-sided, and that be the
side of the strong against the weak; the guarded against the unguarded;
the living against the dead? It seems to me that this is wholly
unnecessary. A life-insurance company which has the agents, the doctors,
the medical directors, and inspectors all on its side can well afford to
offer a fair field--a plain, fair contract--to its patrons and then pay
its debts like any other debtor when its obligation falls due. If it can
not find out within a year (with all the machinery in its own hands),
and while the man is alive, that he is a bad risk, it is too late to
make the discovery after he is dead. If the indications are sufficiently
in his favor for them to accept his money from year to year while he
lives, they are sufficiently favorable to him for his family to receive
the company's money when he has died.

Life-insurance is too valuable and too necessary a means of provision
for the family for it to be overlaid with abuses that make many men
hesitate to avail themselves of its benefits; and which put a power for
evil into strong hands, and make temptation to do wrong inevitable and

It is said by some, whose attention has been called to this important
subject, that the form of contract does not so much matter, since almost
any court or jury will decide a suit against the company, and in favor
of the family, in any event. This is taking it for granted that the
heirs are in position, and are willing, to bring suit, and risk the
reputation of the dead as well as the financial drain. But, as a matter
of fact, this is not true--nor is it desirable that it should be. The
rights of these corporations should be as jealously guarded by our
courts as the rights of the individual; and perverted justice is a
dangerous tool to handle. The man who signs an oppressive contract
depending upon a court to nullify it after he is dead, is clinging to
a rope of sand. The letter of the bond is what the court is bound to
enforce, and every man should be sure that he signs only such as shall
deal fairly with his heirs on that basis.

The following extract is from the decision of the Court of Appeals in
the famous Dwight case, which is so recently decided as to most forcibly
illustrate this point:

"If an insurance policy in plain and unambiguous language makes the
observance of an apparently immaterial requirement the condition of a
valid contract, neither courts nor juries have the right to disregard
it or to construct, by implication or otherwise, a new contract in the
place of that deliberately made by the parties... Such contracts are
open in construction,... but are subject to it only when, upon the
face of the instrument, it appears that its meaning is doubtful or its
language ambiguous or uncertain.

"An elementary writer says; 'Indeed, the very idea and purpose of
construction imply a previous uncertainty as to the meaning of a
contract, for when this is clear and unambiguous there is no room for
construction and nothing for construction to do.'"

For this reason the Court of Appeals cited as the ground, and the only
ground, for its decision against the widow, the following clause from
the policy of the contesting company:

"This policy is issued, and the same is accepted by the said assured,
upon the following express conditions and agreements: That the
same shall cease and be null and void and of no effect... if the
representations made in the application for this policy, upon the faith
of which this contract is made, shall be found in any respect untrue."

Colonel Dwight was in the habit of making large business ventures.
Several times, when he had done so, he had taken heavy amounts of
life-insurance, so that in case of the failure of his undertakings,
and his own death before he could regain his financial feet, his family
would not suffer. On previous occasions he had dropped the greater
part of his insurance as soon as his business ventures had terminated
successfully. This is not an uncommon thing for rich or speculative men
to do.

In 1878 Colonel Dwight died, with an insurance on his life of about
$265,000, some of which he had carried for years; but a large part of it
had been recently taken for the reasons above stated, and as he had done
before under similar circumstances. Fifty thousand of this sum was in
old and new policies against one company.

This company paid at once, thus giving the widow means to fight for her
claims against the other companies. In a short time one of the other
companies, against which she had a small claim of $5,000, also paid. The
other nineteen companies contested. The widow employed Senator Conkling,
and the fight has been the hardest, the bitterest, and the most ghoulish
insurance contest ever had in this country; and finally the companies
have won in the Court of Appeals on a purely technical point, after
having dug Colonel Dwight's body up several times, in the effort to
prove that he was poisoned, that he hung himself, and that he was not
dead at all! They failed utterly to prove any material cause of contest;
but they finally won on the ground that, in answering a question in the
application for insurance, Colonel Dwight did not state that he had ever
engaged in the liquor business, whereas it had been known that he had
owned a hotel where liquor was sold.

Now, when it is remembered that at one time these companies tried to
prove that Colonel Dwight had committed suicide, but that they never had
any grounds upon which to claim that he had died of intemperance, the
purely technical grounds for the decision of the Court of Appeals is
apparent. Ninety-nine policies out of a hundred could be contested on
such ground as that; and so long as insurance contracts retain these
unreasonable and oppressive features, no man can be sure that he is not
leaving a lawsuit and bitter sorrow to his family, and, worst of all, a
blasted reputation for himself, when he applies for insurance under such
a form.

An officer of one of the companies was heard to boast of the fact, but a
few days ago, that his company had spent nearly ten times the amount
of the claim against it in this Dwight contest! This is economy indeed!
Whose money was this spent? The policy-holder's. For what? To defeat one
of the policy-holders in a contest for a claim no doubt as honest as any
one of the others will present in his turn.

But suppose that this was not an honest claim; suppose that Colonel
Dwight was not a "good risk," is it not a rather suggestive indication
of the value of the medical examinations by the expert medical examiners
and directors of twenty-one life-insurance companies? A risk good enough
to "pass" some forty-five doctors employed by, and for the protection
of, the companies is, on the face of it, a good enough risk to pay. If
this is not so, then the companies, and not the public, should be made
to bear the responsibility of the incompetency of their own officers.

But for the reputation of these medical men, it is a fortunate fact that
the contest did not prove Colonel Dwight to be an unsafe risk. After his
body was dug up several times, and a number of autopsies held, and most
of him analyzed, they succeeded in proving that he owned a hotel where
liquor was sold!

But under these forms of contract, the companies undoubtedly had a legal
right to refuse payment upon even so absurdly technical a misstatement
of "occupation." It was claimed by his family that his hotel was a side
issue; that he did not think of himself as in that business, and that
his failure to say, because of it, that he was "in any way connected
with the manufacture or sale of spirituous liquors," was a natural one
under the circumstances. How many men give, in answering the question as
to occupation in their applications for insurance, all of the numerous
"plants" in which they have an interest of a financial nature, more or
less important? One man says he is a bookkeeper, but he may possibly,
also, own stock in a mine. His claim could be contested on that ground.
Suppose that he really thought nothing of his mining-stock when he made
his application and signed his contract? Suppose that in a short time
he was called to see the mine, went into it, and died of the results of
that trip? His policy would not, if it contained the usual conditions,
be worth, in a legal fight, the paper it was written on.

That companies often waive their reserved right to contest on such
grounds, is used as an argument to prove the innocent nature of these
forfeiture clauses and other oppressive conditions. But so long as they
hold the legal power to do so, the temptation to contest will be too
great for flesh and blood, not to say for corporations, to bear without
yielding sometimes. The "Get thee behind me, Satan," of a fair, plain
contract will be the best safeguard for the heirs in the matter of
money, and for the companies in the matter of morals; while the "economy
for the sake of surviving policy-holders" might be directed, as there
is surely room for believing that it needs to be, into other and more
legitimate channels. Economizing on debts to dead policy-holders is not
a very good recommendation to living ones, for the companies which thus
lock the wrong stable-door.

The new move toward furnishing fair contracts is in the right direction,
and it now rests with insurers--the public--to see that it does not stop
short of fulfilling the promise of still better things in the future.


Printed in Twentieth Century.

I made up my mind to get my life insured. As i had heard some one say it
was not wise to put all of one's eggs into the same basket, I decided
to apply for a small policy in two of the leading companies at the same
time. I was never seriously ill in my life, so when I was informed that
I had been "held off" by the examining physician of one company
who found theoretical traces of diseased kidneys, I was a good deal
astonished. Professional etiquette prevented the examining physician
of the other company from passing me until this matter was settled,
although he confessed that he could find no such traces himself. In his
opinion my weak spot was my lungs. "But doctor," said I, "I've got lungs
like a bellows. I was stroke oar at college."

"It doesn't make any difference to our doctor whether you were stroke
oar or a stroke of lightning if he discovers that any of your ancestors
died of consumption," remarked the agent, who had lost his temper. "You
ought to have had better sense than to tell Dr. Pulmonary that your
great aunt coughed before she died. He'd find evidence of lung trouble
in a copper-bottomed boiler if it wheezed letting off steam. Who
examined you over at the other place? Old Albumen? I'll bet ten dollars
he'd find traces of his pet disorder in a ham if he examined one."

I was getting a little piqued. I concluded to put my application in to
several other companies and take the first policy issued. In pursuance
of this idea I was examined by Dr. Palpitation of the M. of N. Y.
company, and he discovered that I was liable to drop off at any time
from heart failure. He said that he did not wish to alarm me, but I
needed medical care and a very wise and sustained course of treatment.

At this stage of the proceedings I went to the only physician I had ever
employed for any slight ills during my past career and had him put
me through a thorough and exhaustive physical examination without
disclosing anything of my motive for so doing. He pronounced me fit for
the coming boat race, which was to be an unusually trying one.

"Any trace of albumen, doctor?" I asked.

"None--not a trace."

"Nothing wrong with my heart or lungs?"

"Look here, boy. If you never die until they give out, you're going
under from old age. I tell you, you are as sound a man as ever lived.
There is absolutely nothing to hang a suspicion of any disorder on. For
my sake I wish there was," he added, laughing and slapping his pocket.

The next day I had a call from the doctor who had examined me for the
E. of Y. He said that he'd like to have a second pass at my eyes. He
thought there was a look in one of them that indicated softening of the
brain. I laughed.

He remarked that people in the first stages of that trouble usually took
it just that way. It was a symptom.

"You confounded old fool!" said I, losing my temper. "Are you in
earnest? I supposed you were joking from the first but if you're talking
as good sense as you've got just leave this office. I--"

He left.

He reported to his company that I was in a more advanced stage of the
disorder than he had at first feared. I had arrived at the unnecessarily
irritable condition. Of course my case was settled with that company.
Professional etiquette again stepped in, and the doctor for the M. B.
of C. took another whack at my liver. He said that the organ was badly
enlarged and he'd hold me off for one year to see if it would return to
its normal proportions. According to his diagnosis fully nine-tenths of
the population of New York were carrying around livers that were enough
to tire out an ox. He could tell a big livered man as far as he could
see him, and he pointed out five who passed while he was talking.

He said that enlargment of the liver was getting to be a very real
danger to the population of all of the chief cities, and if the cause
was not soon discovered by the medical profession and a reducing
process, so to speak, clapped on to the metropolitan liver, life
insurance companies would have to keep a mighty sharp eye on all
applicants, or the death rates would wreck the most prosperous of them
in pretty short order.

I was led to infer from the way he poked and prodded around me and
measured and sounded that my liver was rather badly sagged at one side
and that the other lobe was swelled up like a bladder. It seems as if a
person would notice a thing like that himself, but the doctor said
that as like as not I'd never have discovered it at all if he had
not--fortunately for me--been called in to examine me.

He said that he never prescribed for men, he is required to examine for
insurance, but he told me to take a certain remedy for the next three
months and then report to him. Meantime his company would "hold me off."

"We won't reject you outright," he explained "because this thing may be
only temporary--may not be organic--and it wouldn't be a fair thing
to your heirs to decline you outright, because that would most likely
prevent you from ever getting life insurance anywhere in the future."

That was a new idea to me and gave me a good deal of a scare.

It occurred to me that the future of a man's family--where it depended
on the insurance money of its head--was subject to considerable
uncertainty from the various fads of the doctors.

Here I was in danger of being rejected--pronounced an unsound risk--by
four separate and distinct companies for four separate and distinct
ailments of which my own doctor could find not the least trace and I
could feel not the faintest twinge.

If any one of them decided positively against me the future of my family
was nil--so far as insurance went, for the examining physician of
no other company would be bold enough or sufficiently lacking in
"professional courtesy" to pronounce in my favor, whether he could find
anything wrong with me himself or not. I began to realize that what I
had so far looked upon as rather a good joke might be serious after all.

It occurred to me, too, that it would be a good deal more far reaching
than I had supposed.

If Old Pulmonary--as the agent called him--stuck to his theory of my
lungs, not only I, but my children, would be unable to get insurance. It
would establish a family history--a "heredity"--hard to get rid of. My
little joke in speaking of the fact that my aunt had been said to cough
before she died, together with Dr. Pulmonary's ability to scent lung
trouble in the breathing apparatus of a porous plaster, might lead to a
serious complication not only for me but for my children. I concluded to
make a clean breast of it. I did not quite dare tell Dr. Pulmonary that
I had been deliberately guying the profession--and in fact that was not
my first intention--but I asked if he did not think it a little odd that
no two of them had held me off for the same reason and that each one had
found indications of the particular disorder for which he had a special
leaning. He pricked up his ears at once and asked all about the others.
I told him that one had found albumen, another enlarged liver, and the
third was afraid of heart failure or softening of the brain, and one
was still waiting, because he could find no trouble--on account of
professional etiquette--before reporting at all.

"Meantime my own doctor--the one who has known me from
childhood--pronounces me fit for a scull race," said I a little drily.

"Does your physician know of these examinations?*' he inquired.

"No, he doesn't," I responded rather hotly this time, "or no doubt he'd
have discovered that I had inflammatory rheumatism and gangrene. He is a
good deal of a professional ethic man, himself."

The doctor turned and walked into his private room, promising to
overhaul the papers again and talk with his subordinate.

I hunted up the agent who had first called upon me and complained that
this sort of nonsense had gone about as far as I wanted it to go. "That
old donkey at the head of your medical department upholds the idiotic
report of the young gosling that first examined me here, notwithstanding
the fact that he says himself that he can't find the first trace of the
trouble. Now, if insurance companies employ impecunious young physicians
with little experience, because they can get them cheap, and then insist
upon it that professional etiquette forbids any other examiner from
correcting their blunders, it seems to me--"

The agent had been looking about carefully to be sure that no one

At this point he said:

"Sh! Don't talk so loud. You see young Cardiac, who had you first,
passed a man a short while ago who died in about six months and it was
discovered that he had only a part of one lung and had been that way for
years. The referee--Old Pulmonary is our referee, you know--gave him a
pretty bad scare, and he's afraid to pass anybody at all since. 'Fraid
he'll lose his place. All the agents are mad about it. Manage to hold
their men over for examination until he leaves the office and then take
'em to another one of the examiners. He'll refuse every body now for a
while--or hold him off. Fully one-half the men he examined last month
were rejected outright or held over. I didn't know it when I took you to
him or I'd have taken you to some one else to be examined."

"That would be all very well," said I, "if it wasn't for the absurdity
of what the doctors are pleased to call professional etiquette, which
prevents any other examiner for any other company from finding a man so
held or rejected, sound. In the first place nearly all the big companies
refuse to allow any but an 'old school' or 'regular' allopathic
physician to examine a man. Then if that examiner has a fad, or makes
a mistake, they are all banded together to sustain him in it and not to
correct it, even if they can't find the first symptom of a disease about
him. I tell you it is not only outrageous to the man and his family, but
the result will be that men who know it will refuse to place themselves
in any such danger. They won't want a family record of hereditary
diseases made and put on file to stare them and their descendants in the
face just for the sake of professional etiquette toward some young M.
D., who just as like as not got his place from the fact that he married
a daughter of a director of the company and had to be supported some way
and hadn't the skill to do it in an open field in his profession. Men
are not going to stand it. It will injure them, and it is bound to react
on the company too. I'd never have applied at all if I'd known of it in
time. What business has a company to ask whether an applicant has or has
not been rejected by another company? If their own examiner can't find
anything wrong with him, isn't that enough? This thing of the doctors
of all the companies combining to keep a record against a man is
outrageous. Why can't a company depend on the capacity of its own
medical staff? If it wants any other information of a medical nature,
why isn't the applicant's own family physician quite enough? I consider
the thing a good deal of an outrage, and the company that omits from its
papers the sort of questions that result in this absurd and oppressive
professional etiquette folderol, is going to be the company of the
future. Intelligent men know too well the chaotic state of medical
science to be willing to risk it. Why, good Lord, man, that softening of
the brain--paresis--idiot over at the £. of Y. can, and no doubt will,
give me a record that may cling to me and my family in a way that
might, in many a business or other contingency, cause the very greatest
hardship." I looked up and saw that the medical referee who had really
indicated that he meant to reconsider my case was standing where he had
heard me.

His face was a study* He was angry clear through. He would have (in
a medical journal or debate) taken issue with, and proved the utter
incapacity of nine-tenths of the profession, but to have a layman
criticise their action when it might mean even life or death to him and
his was more than the doctor's adherence to professional etiquette could

     * My friend, the agent, saw his face.

"I'll bet you four dollars, John, that you not only won't get a policy
here now but that no other company will pass you," said he under his
breath. "The old man is on the war path."

That was eight months ago and I'm "held off" in eleven companies now. I
was never sick in my life. I'm as sound in person and in heredity as
any man who ever lived, but I am at the mercy of that absurdest of all
covers for personal incapacity--professional etiquette--combined with
the unreasonable fact that insurance companies require an applicant
to tell their examiners just what piece of idiotic prejudice has been
launched at him by the doctor of every other company, so that they can
all hold together and fit his case to the reports, and not the reports
to the facts in his case as they find them.

Meantime, Jack Howard, who died last week, poor fellow, was accepted by
five of them because the first examiner who got hold of him, not being
a kidney fiend but having his whole mind on lung trouble--and Jack
had splendid lungs--didn't discover that he was in the last stages of
Bright's disease. His family made $27,000 out of professional etiquette,
and mine--when I die--will most likely lose that much, together with
a reputation for a sound heredity which may affect the insurers to the
third and fourth generation of them that love truth and tell that their
father was rejected by all the leading life insurance companies for
pulmonary trouble, heart disease, kidney affection, paresis, and
enlargement of the liver. Meantime the first good company that shows
enough sense and sufficient confidence in its own medical men to omit
that sort of questions from its form of examination is going to get
me--and a good many others like me.


There are certain forms of expression which once heard fit themselves
into the mind so firmly, and re-appear in one connection or another so
frequently, that one scarcely recognizes the fact even when one changes
a word or two in order to make the original idea fit the case in point.
So when I stood watching the ingenious method by which the trainers
of the English fox-hounds induced each dog to perform his own surgical
operations after a hunt, I remarked, with no recognition of the
plagiarism from Dr. Holmes, "Every dog his own doctor."

"No," replied the trainer, with a fine sense of distinction which I had
not before observed--"no; I am the doctor; the dogs are the surgeons. I
prescribe; they perform the operation. They do that part far better than
I could; but they wouldn't do it in time to save the pain and trouble of
a much more serious operation that they could not perform, if I did
not set them at it in time, and keep them at work until all danger of
inflammation is past."

It was after a hunt. The dogs--splendid blooded fellows, a great pack
of over sixty of them--had gotten many thorns and briers in their feet.
They came back limping, foot-sore, and with troubled eyes that looked up
piteously for relief from their pain. They were very hungry too, after
the long chase; but "No doctor will allow a patient to eat just before a
surgical operation," remarked the trainer, dryly. "Now watch."

He threw open a door leading into an outer room of the splendid Hunt
Club Kennel, and gave the word of command.

There was a rush, and the entire pack burst through the wide entrance.
Then every dog lay suddenly down, and began with great vigor to lick his

Why? Simply because in rushing through that door they had waded through
a wide, shallow trough or sink of pretty warm soup. This basin was sunk
in the stone floor, and reached entirely across the door, and was too
wide to jump over, even had it been visible from the outside, which it
was not.

The dogs had plunged into it before they knew it was there, and were
instantly out of its rather uncomfortable heat.

Each dog worked at his feet with vigor. He was hungry. The soup was
good; but dogs object to soup on their feet. This process was continued
and repeated until it was thought that all thorns and briers and pebbles
had been licked and picked from the crippled feet. Then the dogs were
fed and put to bed--or allowed to lie down and sleep--in their fresh
straw-filled bunks.

"A doctor and a surgeon may be the same person," remarked the
philosophical trainer, oracularly, "but they seldom are. If you
whine--as the dogs do when their feet hurt after a hunt--or if you
limp or complain, a doctor guesses what is the matter with you. Then he
guesses what will cure you. If both guesses are right, you are in luck,
and he is a skilful diagnostician. In nine cases out of ten he is giving
you something harmless, while he is taking a second and a third look at
you (at your expense, of course) to guess over after himself."

His medical pessimism and his surgical optimism amused and entertained
me, and I encouraged him to go on.

"Now with a surgeon it is different. Surgery is an exact science. Before
I took this position I was a surgeon's assistant in a hospital. In
some places we are called trained nurses. In our place we were called
surgeons' assistants. That's why I make such a distinction between
doctors and surgeons. I've seen the two work side by side so long. I've
seen some of the funniest mistakes made, and I've seen mistakes that
were not funny. I've seen post-mortem examinations that would have made
a surgeon ashamed that he had ever been born, looked upon by the doctor
who treated the case as not at all strange; didn't stagger him a bit
in his own opinion of himself and his scientific knowledge next time.
I remember one case. It was a Japanese boy. He was as solid as a
little ox, but he told Dr. G------ that he'd been taking a homoeopathic
prescription for a cold. That was enough for Dr. G------. A red rag in
the van of a bovine animal is nothing to the word 'homoeopathy' to Dr.
G------. Hydropathy gives him fits, and eclecticism almost, lays him
out. Not long ago he sat on a jury which sent to prison a man who had
failed in a case of 'mind cure.' That gave deep delight to his 'regular'
soul. Well, Dr. G------ questioned the little Jap, who could not speak
good English, and had the national inclination to agree with whatever
you say. Ever been in Japan? No? Well, they are a droll lot. Always
strive to agree with all you say or suggest.

"'Did you ever spit blood?' asked Dr. G------, by-and-by, after he
could find nothing else wrong except the little cold for which the
homoeopathic physician was treating the boy.

"'Once,' replied that youthful victim.

"'Aha! we are getting at the root of this matter now,' said Dr. G------.
'Now tell me truly. Be careful! Did you spit much blood?'

"'Yes, sir; a good deal.'

"The doctor sniffed. He always knew that a homoeopathic humbug could not
diagnose a case, and would be likely to get just about as near the facts
as a light cold would come to tuberculosis.

"'How long did this last?' he inquired of the smiling boy.

"'I think--it seems to me--

"'A half-hour?' queried the doctor; 'twenty minutes?'

"'I think so. Yes, sir. About half an hour--twenty minutes,' responded
the obliging youth.

"I heard that talk. Common-sense told me the boy's lungs were all right;
but it was none of my business, and so I watched him treated, off and
on, for lung trouble for over a month before I got a chance to ask him
any questions. Then I asked, incidentally:

"'What made you spit that blood that time, Gihi?' "'I didn't know I
ought to swallow him,' he replied, wide-eyed and anxious. 'Dentist pull
tooth He say to me, "Spit blood here." I do like he tell me. Your doctor
say ver' bad for lungs, spit blood. Next time I swallow him.'

"I helped another practitioner, in good and regular standing, to examine
a man's heart. He found a pretty bad wheeze in the left side. I had to
nurse that man. He had been on a bat, and all on earth that ailed him
was that spree, but he got treated for heart trouble. It scared the man
almost to death.

"I'd learned how a heart should sound, so one day I tried his. He was in
bed then, and it sounded all right, so when the doctor came in, I took
him aside, and told him that I didn't want to interfere, but that man
was scared about to death over his heart, and it seemed to me it was all
right--sounded like other hearts--and his pulse was all right too. The
doctor was mad as a March h*are, though he had told me to make two or
three tests, and keep the record for him against the time of his next
visit. Well, to make a long matter short, the final discovery was--the
man don't know it yet, and he is going around in dread of dropping off
any minute with heart failure--that at the first examination the man had
removed only his coat and vest, and his new suspender on his starched
shirt had made the squeak. That is a cold fact, and that man paid over
eighty dollars for the treatment he had for his heart, or rather, for
his suspender."

I was so interested in the drollery of this ex-nurse, and in his
scorn for one branch of a profession, while he entertained almost a
superstitious awe and admiration for surgery _per se_, that I decided
upon my return to New York to visit a great surgeon, and ask him
to allow me to see an operation that would fairly represent the
advance-guard so to speak, the upward reach of the profession as it is
to day.

We all know the physician who follows his profession strictly and solely
as a means of support. Most of us also happily know something of one or
more medical men who are a credit to humanity, in that they subordinate
their ability to extort money from suffering to their desire to relieve
pain, even though such relief conduces not to their own financial
opulence. Very few of us who are not close students of the medical
profession realize, I think, some of the magnificent developments not
only of surgery, but of the character of the surgeon. We are led to
think of them as rather hard and brutal men. The side of their work and
nature that means tenderness and devotion to the relief of those who,
but for the skilled and brave surgeon, must die or suffer for life, is
seldom laid before us. The quiet, sweet, and simple devotion of such men
does not reach the public ear.

The operation of which I learned, and which is the first of its kind on
record, was so strange, so great, and so far-reaching in its suggestion
and promise that it seemed to me it could not fail to interest and
inspire the general reader, who never sees a medical or surgical
journal, and who would not read it if he did.

Can you think of an operation that would create a mind? Can you conceive
of the meaning to humanity of a discovery that would transform a
congenital imbecile into a rational being? Such an operation was the one
I was privileged to see.

The patient was a child about one year old, of good parentage and of
healthy bodily growth, aside from the fact that its skull was that of a
new-born child, and it had hardened and solidified into that shape and
size. The "soft spot" was not there, and the sutures or seams of the
skull had grown fast and solid, so that the brain within was cramped and
compressed by its unyielding bony covering.

The body could grow--did grow--but the poor little compressed brain, the
director of the intelligent and voluntary actions of the body, was kept
at its first estate. Even worse than this, its struggle with its bony
cage made a pressure which caused distortion and aimless or unmeaning
movement--the arm and leg turned in, in that helpless, pathetic way
that tells of imbecility. In short, the baby was a physically healthy
imbecile--the most pathetic object on this sad earth. Upon examination,
the surgeon, a gentle, sweet-natured man, whose enthusiasm for his
profession--for the relief of suffering--makes him the object of
devotion of many to whom he has given life and health, and the inspirer
and final appeal for many a brother practitioner, discovered what he
believed to be the trouble. Led by that most uncommon of all things,
common sense, he believed that this little victim of nature's mistake
might be changed from a condition far worse than death to one of comfort
for itself, and to those who now looked upon it only in anguish of soul.

After explaining to the parents and the surgeons who had come to witness
the wonderful experiment (for, after all, at this stage it was but an
experiment based upon common-sense) that it might fail; after a modest
and simple statement of his reason for undertaking so dangerous an
operation, with no precedent before him; after explaining that the
parents fully understood that not to try it meant hopeless idiocy, and
that the trial might mean death--he began the work. I shall try to tell
what it was in language that is not scientific, and may seem to those
accustomed to surgical terms inadequate and unlearned; but to those who
are not technical medical students I believe the less technical language
will be far clearer.

The child's skull was laid bare in front. Two tracks were cut from a
little above the base (or top) of the nose up and over to the back
of the head. One of these tracks was cut on each side, the surgeon
explained, because it would give equal expansion to the two sides of the
brain, and because it would cause death to cut through the middle of the
top of the head, where lies "the superior longitudinal sinus." He left,
therefore, the solid track of bone through the middle, and cut two
grooves or tracks through the bone, one on either side, where nature
(when she does not make a mistake) leaves soft or yielding edges, by
means of which the normal skull expands to fit the needs of the brain

The trench made displaced, or cut away, one-quarter of an inch of solid
bone all the way from near the base of the nose to the back part of the
head. In the middle of the top of the head on each side a cross-wise cut
was made, and one inch of bone divided. Another cut was made on either
side, slanting toward the ears. This was one inch and a half long. The
surgeon then tenderly inserted his forefinger, pressed the internal mass
loose from the bones where it adhered, and pushed the bones wider apart.
This process widened the trenches to one inch.

The wound was now dressed with the wonderfully effective new aseptics,
and the flesh and skin closed over. The operation had taken an hour and
a half. There was little bleeding. The baby was, of course, unconscious
during the entire time. Oh, the blessings of anaesthetics! And now comes
the wonderful result of this bold and radical but tender and humane

The baby rallied well. In three days it showed improved intelligence.
In eight days this improvement was marked. From a creature that sat
listless, deformed, and unmindful of all about it, it began to "take
notice," like other children. From an "it," it had been transformed into
a "he." It had been given personality. It ate and slept fairly well.

On the tenth day the wound was exposed and dressed. It had healed, or
"united by first intention," as the doctors say; and again one can but
exclaim, "Oh, those wonderful aseptic dressings!" It had united without
suppuration. It was a clean wound, cleanly healing.

One month after the operation the feet and hands had straightened out,
and lost their jerky, aimless movements. The child is now a child. It
acts and thinks like other children, laughs and cooes and makes glad the
hearts of those who love it.

Not like other children of its age, perhaps, for it has several months
yet to "catch up," but the last report, in one of the leading medical
journals, said:

"One month after the operation the change in its condition was
surprising and gratifying. The deformities in the extremities had
entirely disappeared, and there was evidently a remarkable increase in
intelligence. It noticed those about it, took hold of objects offered
it, laughed, and behaved much as children of ordinary development at six
or eight months. The pupils were no longer widely dilated, but appeared
normal. It eats and sleeps well, and is in general greatly improved as a
result of the operation."

If in one month the little imprisoned brain was able to "catch up" six
or eight months, we may surely believe that the remaining four or five
months which it lost, because nature sealed the little thinking-machine
firmly in too small a casket, will be wiped away also, and the little
victim of nature's mistake be given full and normal opportunity through
the skill and genius of man.*

     *It has now been several years since the operation, and the
     child is like other children.--H. H. G.

     Is not that common-sense in surgery?

Could anything be more wonderful? Could any operation open to the future
of the race wider possibilities and offer more brilliant hope? I may
quote here farther from the same medical journal the report of Dr.
Wyeth, himself:

"The operation differs from any yet done. Lanne-longue, Keen, and others
cut a trench about a quarter of an inch in width, and on one side, at
a single operation. It seemed to me if the brain was penned in by
premature ossification of the cranial bones, these should be torn loose
and permanently lifted, thus allowing a thorough expansion. Should
only temporary benefit be secured, the operation should be repeated.
Experience alone can demonstrate whether the expansion of the brain will
be able to spread the cranial bones to such an extent that it may reach
even an ordinary development. The condition of these patients is
so hopeless and deplorable that, in my opinion, very great risk is
justifiable in any surgical interference which offers even a hope of

Thus the race is quietly achieving mastery over the blind forces of
nature, and the steady hand of science, coupled with tenderness and
sincerity, is pushing back some of the worst horrors of life, and
throwing a flood of light and hope into the future! It makes one's
step lighter and one's face happier only to think of these marvellous
achievements and victories. A new impulse of hope and happiness
dawns upon life. I owed this new inspiration to my pessimistic
acquaintance--he of the Hunt Club Kennel--and the introduction he gave
me to the rudiments of applied surgery. It was indeed a long sweep from
the one operation to the other.

My first and second glimpses of the operating-room were surely the two
extremes, and yet when I suggested this to Dr. Wyeth, the great and
gentle surgeon who performed this operation, he smilingly replied that,
after all; either or both--indeed, all of it--was simply common-sense in


It has been well said by Herbert Spencer, and more recently by Professor
Osborn, the able biologist of Columbia College, that the question
involved in the discussion of heredity is not a temporary issue and that
its solution will affect all future thought. Whether or not acquired
character is transmitted to children is the most important question that
confronts the human race; for it is upon the character of the race that
depends and will depend the condition of the race.

No school of scientists questions the fact of heredity; but there is
a warm and greatly misunderstood contest over the exact method used
by nature in the transmission. Now so far as the general public is
concerned, so far as the sociological features of the case go, so far
as personal conduct is involved, it does not matter a straw's weight
whether the theory of heredity held by Lamarck and Darwin, or the one
advanced recently by Weismann, be correct.

It matters not whether your drunkenness, for example, is transmitted to
your child directly as plain drunkenness, or whether it descends to him
as a merely weakened and undermined "germ plasm" which "will tend
to inebriety, insanity, imbecility" or what not. It matters not a
farthing's worth, from the point of view of the laity, whether the
transmission is direct, via "pangenesis," or whether it is indirect,
via a weakened and vitiated "germ plasm" as per Weismann, or whether the
exact method and process may not still lie in the unsolved problems of
the laboratory. Whichever or whatever the exact process may be (which
interests the scientist only), the facts and results are before us and
concern each of us more vitally than does the question of what we shall
eat or what we shall drink or wherewithal we shall be clothed. It is all
the more unfortunate, therefore, that even an untested scientific theory
cannot be advanced without the ignorant, the half-educated and the
vicious taking it in some distorted form as a basis of action. Indeed it
would seem to be wise, if one is about to make a scientific suggestion
of importance, to take the precaution to say in advance that you
don't mean it--for the benefit of that large class of intellectual
batrachians who hop to the conclusion that you said something totally
different from your intent.

Because a surgeon might say to you that he knows a boy who carries a
bullet about in his brain and that the youth appears to be no worse
for it in either body or mind, it would not be safe to imply that he
proposes to teach you that it would be a particularly judicious thing
for you to attempt to convert your skull into a cartridge box.

Because Weismann asserts and attempts to prove that nature's method
of hereditary transmission precludes (for example) the possibility
of producing a race of short-tailed cats from Tom and Tabby from whose
caudal appendages a few inches have been artificially subtracted, some
of his followers exclaim in glee: "It does not make the least difference
in the world what we do or refrain from doing in one lifetime. Our
children do not receive the results; we cannot transmit to them our
vices or our virtues. We cannot taint their blood by our ill conduct nor
purify it by our clean living. The 'germ plasm' from which they came
is and has been immortal; we are simply its transmitters--not its
creators. Our children were created and their characters and natures
determined centuries before we were bom. We are in no sense responsible
for what they may be; germ plasm is eternal; we are exempt from
responsibility to posterity. Long live Weismann!"

Now this is about the sort of thing that is springing up on every side
as a result of the new discussion as to how we are to account for the
facts of heredity. One sometimes hears, also, from these half-informed
jubilators that "Weismann does not believe in heredity; that old theory
is quite exploded." The fact is that Weismann is particularly strong
in his belief in heredity--so strong as to give almost no weight to any
possible process of intervention in its original workings. He simply
holds that the transmission of "acquired character" is not proven,
and he doubts the fact of these "acquired" transmissions. In his
illustrations he deals chiefly (when in the higher animals) with
mutilations, and in the human race shows that the most proficient
linguist does not produce children who can read without being taught!

Of course there are many and varied points in his theory of heredity
with which only the biologist is capable of dealing. But as I intimated
at first, the Lamarck-Darwin-Weismann controversy, so far as the
sociological aspect of the question is involved, does not touch us.
It belongs to the laboratory--to the how and not to the fact of
transmission. But since the opposite impression has taken root in even
some thoughtful minds, it is well to meet it in a direct and easily
grasped form. There is a simple and direct method; I undertook it. I
went to a number of well-known biologists and physicians and asked these

1. Are there any diseases known to you, which you are absolutely certain
are contracted by individuals whose ancestors did not have them, which
diseases you can trace as to time and place of contraction, and
which are of a nature to produce physical and mental changes that are
recognizable in the child as due to the parent's condition?

2. Have you ever had such cases under your own care?

3. Have you a record of cases where the children of your patients
received the effects of the disease of the parent in a manner that would
show that "acquired character or condition" is transmittible?

4. Is this true in a kind of disorder which would produce in the child a
change of structure or condition so profound as to change its character
and run it in a channel distinctly the result of the "acquirement" of
the parent?

I thought it best to go to specialists in brain and nerve disorders and
to those who had had large hospital or asylum experiences. One of these,
Dr. Henry Smith Williams, ex-medical superintendent of Randall's Island,
where the city of New York sends its imbecile and epileptic children,
and where many hundreds of these came under his care, replied that
there could be no doubt of the fact that such "acquired" characters or
conditions are transmitted. One case which he gave me, however, from his
private practice will illustrate the point most clearly. B., a healthy
man with no hereditary taint of the kind, acquired syphilis at a given
time and in a known way. Before this time he was the father of one
daughter. Several years later another daughter was born to him. The
first girl is and has always been absolutely free from any and all
taint. The other one has all the inherited marks of her father's
"acquired character" and condition, which even went the length in her
of producing the recognized change in the form of the teeth due to
this disease. Now for all practical purposes it does not matter in
the faintest degree whether that transmission was in accordance with
pangenesis or by means of a vitiated environment of the "germ plasm."
The fact is the appalling thing for the reader to face. And I give this
case only because it was one of a vast number of similar ones which came
to me in reply to my questions addressed to different practitioners and

Among other places, I went to the head of a maternity hospital. This is
what I got there: "If Weismann or any of his followers doubts for one
second the distinct, absolute, unmistakable transmission of acquired
disease of a kind to modify 'character' both mental and physical--if
they doubt its results on humanity--they have never given even a slight
study to the hospital side of life.

"I can give you hundreds of cases where there is no escape from the proof
that the children are born with the taint of an 'acquired character'
from which they cannot free themselves. Sometimes it is shown in one
form, sometimes in another, but it is as unmistakable as the color
of the eyes or the number of the toes. To deny it is to deny all
experience. I am not a biologist and I do not undertake to explain
how it is done, but I will undertake to prove that it is done to the
satisfaction of the most sceptical. Come in this ward. There is a child
whose parents were robust, healthy, strong country folk until"--and then
followed the history of the parents who had "acquired" the "character"
which they transmitted--which had made the mental, moral and physical
cripple in the ward before me. "Now here is what they transmitted. Do
you fancy that if that half idiot should ever have children they will be
'whole'? No argument but vision is needed here. That child's condition
is the result of acquired character. Its children and its children's
children will carry the acquirement--for we are not wise enough yet to
eliminate even such as that from among active propagators of the race!
If it were possible (which, thank Heaven, is not likely) that the other
parent of this half imbecile's children would be of a sane and lofty
type there might be a modification upward again in the progeny, but even
then we would not soon lose the direct, undeniable, patent 'acquirement'
which you see here."

It was the same story from each and every practitioner. The hospital and
asylum experts, the specialists in diseases of mind or body which were
due to direct acquirement (such as drunkenness, syphilis and acquired
epilepsy), were particularly strong in their contempt for even the
theory that acquired character and condition are not transmittible. One
laughingly said: "I'll grant that if I cut off a man's leg or a few of
his fingers, his children will not be likely to be deformed because of
that operation. This is not a permeating constitutional condition, it is
a mere local mutilation. But if I were to take out a part of his brain
so as to produce ["acquired"] epilepsy upon him I believe his children
will be affected, and if he is a bad syphilitic [acquired] I know his
children will be. Mind you, I don't say exactly what they will have,
and they may not all have the same thing, but I do say that their
'germ plasm' or whatever they come from, will carry the results of the
acquired condition and character." *

     *"Brown-Sequard observed that injury to the central or
     peripheral nervous system (spinal cord, oblongata, peduncle,
     corpora quadrigem-ina, sciatic nerve) of guinea pigs
     produced epilepsy, and this condition even became
     hereditary. Westphal made guinea pigs epileptic by repeated
     blows on the skull, and this condition also became
     hereditary."--** Manual of Human Physiology," by L. Landou,
     translated with additions by W. Sterling. 1885.

     Dr. L. Putzell, in his "Treatise on the Common Forms of
     Functional Nervous Diseases," 1880, after describing the
     methods by which Brown-Sequard produced epilepsy
     traumatically in guinea pigs, says: "Brown Sequard also
     made the curious observation that the young of guinea pigs
     who had been made epileptic in this manner, may develop the
     disease spontaneously. These experiments have been verified
     by Schiff, Westphal and numerous other observers."

So I beg of you to remember that while the fact and law of heredity is
as certain as death itself, its course of action, its variability of
operation, is as the March winds. To say that the constitutions of your
children will be de* termined in great part by the condition of your
body and mind is but to utter a truism; but to say exactly how--in what
given channel this effect will flow--is not, in the present state of
biological knowledge, possible.

For the sake of illustration it is usually the part of wisdom to give
the most probable trend of a given disorder; but to assert dogmatically
that the son of a lunatic will be insane or that the daughter of a woman
of the street will live as her mother did, is quite as unsafe as to
say that a fall from a fourth-story window on to an iron door would be
certain death. You must not forget that you may, if you want to take the
chances, drop an infant out of a fourth-story window on to an iron door
with no bad results to the infant (door not heard from), for I have
known that to happen; you may sleep with a bad case of small-pox and not
take it--as I once did; you may shoot a ball into a boy's head, taking
in with it several pieces of bone, you may extract the bone and leave
the ball there and the boy appear to be as good as new afterward; you
may live all your life long with a roue and your children not be inmates
of hospital, lunatic asylum or prison. All these things have been done,
but it is not the part of wisdom to infer that for this reason either
one of them would be a safe or desirable course of action; for in
this world it behooves us to deal--when we are attempting to study
nature--with the law of probability. The accidents, the exceptions, will
take care of themselves.

Notwithstanding this fact it will not be exactly fair to me for you to
report that I say that every single one of Jane Smith's children will
have fits and fall in the fire before they are twenty-one because she or
their father is an epileptic. Perhaps one or two of those children may
die in infancy, instead, or go insane--or to Congress; one may have
hydrocephalus, and another be a moral idiot and astonish the natives
because "His parents were such upright people." One may simply have a
generally weak constitution--and another may win the American cup for
wrestling; but the chances are that confirmed epilepsy (or what not) of
the parent is going to "tell" in one form or another in the children.
What I say of epilepsy is equally true of syphilis. This latter is
so true that it can be readily told by the teeth of the children of a
seriously infected case. That will strike the average "unprofessional"
reader as impossible, yet it is well known to biologists, medical men
and many dentists, so that a great many wholly innocent people who sit
in a dentist's chair reveal more private family history than could be
drawn from them with stronger instruments than mere forceps.

I have been asked to write this paper because at the present time there
is a tendency to discredit some of the well-known and easily proven
facts of heredity, as a result of certain statements supposed to have
been made by the recent school of biologists headed by Weismann. But in
the hands of the laity much that Weismann did say is misunderstood
and misstated and much that he never said is inferred. To professional
biologists the loose inferences from Weismann's suggestions and
speculations are absurd, and to experienced medical men and experts
in the lines of practice indicated above, the arguments are beneath
discussion. It is in this particular line of practice that proof is easy
and abundant, where the "acquired" nature of the modified "character" is
readily traced and the transmission (or heredity) susceptible of proof
beyond controversy.

It is for this reason that the illustrations are all taken from
this field of investigation. If they were taken from consumption,
tuberculosis or any of the various ordinary "transmittible" disorders,
the cheerful opponent would assert (and no one could disprove if he held
to the "germ plasm" theory back far enough) that the "tendency" had
been inherent in the plasm since the days of "Adam"--that it was not
an "acquired" character or condition which was transmitted. But with
artificially produced epilepsy (either by accident or purposely as in
the cases of Brown-Sequard's guinea pigs) or in the other so frequent
and so frightful disorder mentioned above, it is a simple matter to
trace the "acquirement" as well as the transmission. But when a new
light arises in the literary or scientific world there are always many
persons ready to spring forth with the declaration that they agree with
the new point of view without first taking the precaution to ascertain
what the recent theory really is. "Oh, I agree with him, the old theory
is quite dead," greets the ear, and the placid pupils of the rising
light so warp and distort the real opinion of the master as to make of
him an absurdity. This has been markedly true of Weismann and his theory
of heredity.

In ordinary cases of scientific discussion the misconceptions of the
laity would soon adjust themselves and little or no harm would be done
meantime; but in such a problem as the present far more is involved than
appears upon the surface. The ethical and moral results--not to mention
the physical--of a reckless mistranslation or misconception of a
scientific theory of this nature cannot be readily estimated, nor can
it be confined to one generation. It is pathetic to realize that many
fairly well-educated and well-meaning people, who would protect with
their lives the children they give to the world and shield them against
all possible physical, moral or mental distortion, mutilation or
deformity, will stamp upon those children far worse mutilations and
distortions (and even physical disorders) through and because of a
half-understood version of u the new theory of heredity. Therefore
I repeat that so far as the public is concerned, so far as the
sociological features of the problem of heredity are involved, so far as
the new theory relates to conduct and to physical and mental condition
and their transmission, this controversy belongs to the laboratory--to
the how and not to the fact of hereditary transmission, as I trust the
above illustrations (which might be multiplied a thousand times) will
serve to show.


But heredity is not the whole story, any more than the foundation is the
whole house.

Several times when I have spoken or written upon the basic principle of
heredity, I have been met by questions like this: "Then you must think
it is hopeless. With these awful facts and illustrations of the power
and persistence of heredity before us, we must recognize that we are
doomed before we are born, must we not? If there is, as you say, no
escape from our heredity and its power and influence, what is the use
of trying? Why not let go and just drift on the tide of inherited
conditions? If these conditions are unfortunate for us, why not just
accept the tragedy; if favorable, drift in the sunlight that our
ancestors turned upon us, and let the world wag as it will?--we are not
responsible." I confess that each time this sort of reasoning comes to
me it finds me in a state of surprise that it is possible for thoughtful
people--and naturally those are the ones interested in reading or
talking upon the subject--I confess it surprises me anew each time to
find that it is possible for such people to reason so inadequately and
to see with but one eye.

It is undoubtedly true that, do what we will, labor as we may, heredity
has established beyond the possibility of doubt that an apple cannot
be cultivated into a peach. Once an apple always an apple. That is the
power of heredity. That is the foundation of the house. But there is
another story. Plant your apple tree in hard and rugged soil; give it
too little light and too much rain; let some one hack its bark with a
knife from time to time; when the boys climb the tree let them
strain and break it; let Bridget throw all sorts of liquids about its
roots,--in short, let it take "pot luck" on a barren farm with Ignorance
for an owner and Shiftlessness for his wife, and the best apple tree
in the world will not remain so for many years. The apples will not
degenerate into potatoes, however; heredity will attend to this. But
they will become hard and knotty and sour and feeble and few as to
apples; environment will see to that.

Now suppose you had sold that farm to Intelligence and given him for a
wife Observation or Thrift. Suppose that they had dug and fertilized and
nourished and pruned that tree (I do not mean after it had been ruined,
but from the start). It is quite true that you need never expect it to
bear Malaga grapes. Heredity will still hold its own, and the kind of
fruit was determined at birth (if I maybe permitted the form of
speech), but very much of the quality of the fruit will depend upon the
conditions under which it grew--the environment. So while it is true
that our heredity is as certain as the eternal hills, and, as a famous
biologist recently said in my hearing, dates back of the foundation of
the Sierra Nevada mountain range, so that each of us carries within us
mementos of an age when language was not and, as he humorously said,
"Man has in his anatomy a collection of antiques--we are full of
reminiscences"; still it is equally true that the power of environment,
the conditions under which we develop or restrict our inherited
tendencies, will determine in large part whether heredity shall be our
slave-driver or our companion in the race for life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness.

Let me illustrate in another way. Suppose that you are born from a
family which has for its heritage a history of many and early deaths
from consumption. Suppose that you have discovered that the tendency is
strong within yourself. Is it for that reason absolutely necessary that
you buy a coffin-plate to-morrow and proceed to die with lung trouble?
By no means. Knowing your inherited weakness you guard with jealous care
the health you have, and it may be that your intelligent consideration
may secure to you, in spite of your undoubted inheritance, the
threescore years and ten; while your robust neighbor, with lungs like a
bellows and the inheritance from a race of athletes, may succumb to the
March winds which he braved and you did not. Maybe "quick consumption"
will carry him off while you remain to mourn his loss, and quite
possibly leave with your posterity a growing tendency toward strong

I know a man in New York City who had what is called a "family history"
of consumption, who was rejected on that account by every life insurance
company in this country thirty years ago. Well, that frightened him
within an inch of his life; but with that inch he set to work to build
his house "facing the other way," as he expressed it to me when I met
him ten years ago, when he was, as he still is, a hale, hearty old
gentleman. He is not and never could have been exactly robust; but he
is as well, as happy and as content as the average man who has not
inherited his unfortunate potentiality. It is true that nothing but
intelligent and wise care all these years, nothing but his temperate and
judicious life, could have compassed this end. I use the word temperate
in its general sense. So far as I know he has not denied himself any of
the best of life, which he has been amply able to secure; but he has at
all times kept his house "facing the other way." His hereditary threat,
while it has not driven him with a lash, has, it is true, lived in the
back yard--which it does and will and must with us all, no matter what
our environment or wisdom may be; but we need not foolishly throw open
the windows, swing back the doors and invite it to take possession,
while our own individuality moves down into the coal cellar.

I have taken as illustrations in both of these papers inherited disease
and its developments, but this is done only for convenience and because
it will explain more fully, clearly and easily to most people what is
meant. That our heredity is equally strong and certain in its mental and
moral potentialities and tendencies is also true.* It is likewise true
that the environment--the conditions under which we develop, curb or
direct our natural tendencies--has a great and modifying rôle to play.

     * "Alienists hold, in general, that a large proportion of
     mental diseases are the result of degeneracy; that is, they
     are the offspring of drunken, insane, syphilitic and
     consumptive parents, and suffer from the action of
     heredity."--Dr. Arthur McDonald, author of "Criminology."

     It is sometimes asked, if children were changed in the
     cradle, and those of fortunate parentage carried to the
     slums to be nurtured and taught and those from the slums.

     "To one at all familiar with the external aspect of insanity
     in its various forms, it seems incredible that its physical
     nature was not sooner realized. Had the laws of heredity
     been earlier understood, it would have been seen that mental
     derangements, like physical diseases and tendencies, were
     transmitted."--Prof. Edward S. Morse.

If placed in the cradles of luxury, would not all trace of mental, moral
and physical heredity of a fortunate type disappear from the darlings of
Murray Hill in their adopted environment of squalor and vice; and would
not the haggard and half-starved, ill-nurtured waifs of Mulberry Bend
blossom as the rose in strength and virtue in their new environment
of luxury and of wholesome and healthful surroundings? Just here a
digression seems necessary; for while I have no doubt that the change
(even on the terms usually implied) would work wonders in both sets
of infants, still it is to be remembered that for such a test to tell
anything of real value to science, the exchange would need to be made
upon another basis from that which is generally used as an argument,
because it is incorrectly assumed that the children of luxury (as a
rule) are born with clean and lofty heredity. This is, alas, so far from
the case that it is almost a truism that "the highest and the lowest"
(meaning the richest and the poorest) are "nearest together in action
and farthest apart in appearance, only." They both frequently give to
their children tainted mental, moral and physical natures with which
to contend. The self-indulgence of the young men of the "upper classes"
leaves a burned-out, undermined and tainted physical heredity almost a
certainty for their children, while the ethical tone of such men--their
moral fibre--is higher only in appearance and the ability to do secretly
that which puts the tough of Mulberry Bend in the penitentiary because
he has not the gold to gild his vices and to dazzle the eyes of society.
The exchanged children, therefore, would not be so totally different
in inherited qualities, after all. They would have alike a tainted
ancestry. Their physical natures are the hotbeds of vices or diseases
that are to be developed or curbed according as environment shall
determine. But the foundation in both cases--the ground--both mental,
moral and physical, is sowed down and harrowed in with the tainted
heredity. The mother in both instances, as a rule, is but an aimless
puppet who dances to the tune played by her male owner--a mere weak
transmitter or adjunct of and for and to his scale of life. Therefore to
point to the fact that to change these classes of infants in the
cradle is to exchange (by means of their environment only) their mature
development, also, from that of a Wall Street magnate to a Sing Sing
convict, tells nothing whatever against the power and force of heredity.
It tells only what is always claimed for fortunate or unfortunate
environment--that "It gilds the straitened forehead of the fool," or

     "Through tattered clothes small vices do appear;
     Robes and furr'd gowns hide all; plate sin with gold,
     And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
     Arm it with rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it."

Let us start fair. Let us understand that no environment can create what
is not within the individuality--that heredity has fixed this; but that
environment does and must act as the one tremendous and vital power to
develop or to control the inheritance which parents stamp upon their
children. Notwithstanding, you are personally responsible for the trend,
the added power and development you give to much that you inherit. You
are personally responsible to the coming generation for the fight it
will have to make and for the strength you transmit to it to make that
fight. Many a father and mother transmitted to their "fallen" daughter
the weakness and the tendency to commit the acts which they and their
fellows whine about afterward as "tarnishing the family honor." If they
had tied her hand and foot and cast her into the midst of the waves
of the sea expecting her to save herself they would be no more truly
responsible for her death, be it moral or physical.

And let me emphasize here that I do not attribute all of the moral and
physical disasters of the race to the fathers of the race. By no means.
I believe with all my heart that the mothers have to answer for their
full share of the vice, sorrow and suffering of humanity. Woman has not,
perhaps, been such an active agent, and much of the wrong she has done
to her children has been compassed, through what have been regarded
as her very virtues--her sweetest qualities--submission, compliance,
self-abnegation! In so far as the mothers of the race have been weakly
subservient, in that far have they a terrible score against them in the
transmission of the qualities which has made the race too weak to do the
best that it knew--too cowardly to be honest even with its own soul.

I do not believe that the sexes, in a normal state, would differ
materially in moral tone. Why? Simply because throughout all nature
there is no line of demarcation between the sexes on moral grounds.
The male and the female differ in qualities, but neither is "better,"
"purer" nor "wiser" than the other--dividing them on the basis of
sex alone. I do not believe that women are (under natural and equal
conditions) better or purer than men, as is so often claimed. I do not
believe that men are (under natural and equal conditions) wiser and
abler than women. These are all artificially built up conditions, and
they have fixed upon the race a very large share of its sorrow, its
crime, its insanity, its disease and its despair. They have weakened
woman and brutalized man. Children have been bom from two parents, one
of whom is weakly self-effacing and trivial, narrow in outlook and petty
in interests--a dependant, and therefore servile; while the other parent
is unclean, unjust, self-assertive and willing to demand more than he
is willing to give. These conditions have morally perverted the race so
that it will continue long to need those evidences against, instead
of for, civilization--almshouses, insane asylums, reformatories and

It is usual to point with vast pride to the immense sums of money
we spend year by year to support such charitable and eleemosynary
institutions, instead of realizing, in humiliation and shame, that what
we need to do, and what we can do, in great part, is to lock the stable
door before the horse is stolen; that what we need to do, and what we
can do, in large measure, is to regulate conditions and heredity so that
we may congratulate ourselves in pointing to the small sums of money
needed year by year to care for the unfortunate victims of inherited
weakness or vice. We don't want our country covered with magnificently
equipped hospitals, asylums, poor-houses and prisons. What we want is
intelligent and wise parentage which shall depopulate eleemosynary,
charitable and penal institutions. We don't want to continue to boast of
a tremendous and increasing population of sick or weak minds encased in
sick or weak bodies--half-matured, ill-born, mental, moral and physical
weaklings who drag out a few wretched years in some retreat and then
miserably perish.

We want men and women on this continent who shall be well and
intelligent and free and wise enough to see that not numbers but quality
in population will solve the questions that perplex the souls of men. We
want parents who are wise and self-controlled enough to refuse to curse
the world and their own helpless children with vitiated lives, and
who, if they cannot give whole, clean, fine children to the world, will
refuse to give it any. Nothing but a low, perverted and weak moral and
ethical sense makes possible the need of an argument on this subject.
It is self-evident the moment one stops to ask himself a few simple and
primitive questions: "Am I willing to buy my own comfort and pleasure
at the expense of those who are helpless? Am I willing to be a moral and
physical pauper preying upon the rights of my children? Am I willing to
be a thief and misappropriate their physical, mental and moral heritage?
Am I willing to be a murderer and taint with slow poison their lives
before they get them? Am I willing to do this by giving to them a weak
and dependant and silly mother and a father who is less than the best he
can be--who arrogates to himself the prerogative of dictator who has no
account to render?"

All these questions apply to the health of the nation and to what it
shall be in the future. When we speak of the health of a nation, we are
so given to thinking of the physical condition, only, of its citizens
that the more comprehensive thought of their mental, moral, ethical and
business health is likely to escape our minds. Indeed, I fancy that few
persons realize that even in the matter of business ethics and general
moral outlook (including the nation's political policy, of course)
heredity cuts a very wide swath. But it is true that national business
morals are as distinctive from generation to generation as are the
physical characteristics, well-being or mental qualities of the
different peoples. Some one will say, "True, but all this is due to
difference of environment,"--forgetting that the special features of our
environment itself (outside of climate and soil) are due primarily to
the hereditary habits and bias of a people. Natural selection, _per se_,
ceased to have full force the moment man reached the stage when he was
able to control artificial means of protection or power.. The "fittest"
ceased to be so upon the basis of inborn quality. Artificial means--from
the use of a sharp stone to overcome a stronger (or "fitter")
antagonist, on up to the skilful application of money where it will do
the most good--took the place of primary "natural selection," and
the "fittest" to survive in the mental, moral, physical, financial or
political arena became he who could command the artificial means of
guiding and controlling the natural forces of primary "selection."
The "tough" lives in the "slums" primarily because his parents did. He
inherited his social and ethical outlook as well as his physical form,
and the mould in which his thoughts have run was fashioned by nature and
secondarily fixed by an environment or surrounding which also came to
him as a part of his inheritance.

Heredity and environment act and react upon each other with the
regularity and inevitability of succession of night and day. Neither
tells the whole story; together they make up the sum of life; and yet it
is true that the first half--the part or foundation upon which all
else is based and upon which all else must depend--has been taken into
account so little in the conduct and scheme of human affairs that total
ignorance of its very principle has been looked upon as a charming
attribute of the young mothers upon whose weak or undeveloped shoulders
rest the responsibility, the welfare, the shame or the glory, the very
sanity and capacity, of the generations that are to come!

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