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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/229

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217
FEMALE EDUCATION.

knowledge and for study. If by undue pressure you do call up and use for education the energy that ought to go toward growth and strengthening the body, you produce a small and unhealthy specimen of humanity, just like those plants which have had their flowers unduly forced, and are deficient in bulk and hardiness, and will not produce seed. Nature disposes of her energies in a human being in due proportion to the wants of each organ and faculty. There is a natural and harmonious relation which each bears to the other. This relation is different in different persons, and at different periods of life. The plowman takes up most of his energy in muscular effort and in the repair of waste muscle, and he has little left for thinking. The student uses his up in the mental effort of his brain, and has little left for heavy muscular work. No doubt Nature is sometimes prodigal of energy, and provides enough for the high-pressure working of both the brain and the muscles in some cases. But this is not the rule, and should not be assumed as applicable to many persons. At the different periods of life Nature uses up her available energy in different ways. She allocates it in babyhood chiefly to body-growth, in early girlhood partly to growth and partly to brain development; in adolescence, the period of which I am to speak chiefly to-night, her effort is evidently to complete the building up of the structures everywhere, to bring to full development the various functions, to strengthen and harmonize the whole body and the brain, so that they shall be able to produce, and do in the succeeding years of full maturity all that they are capable of. It is certainly not a period of production, but of acquisition. If the original constitution derived from ancestry has been good, if the conditions of life in childhood have been favorable, if the education has been of the right kind, developing the whole being in all her faculties equally and harmoniously after Nature's plan, and if the period of adolescence has crowned and completed every organ and every faculty, no faculty being unduly called on to the impoverishment of the others, then we expect, and indeed must have, a woman in health, which means happiness, with the full capacity for work, for production, and for resisting hurtful influences, and for living her allotted time. But this can only result from a harmonious and healthy development, which we may take as the physician's word to denote education in his sense. It can only result from regarding the woman as a unit, body and mind inseparable; it can only result from the educator's efforts being on the lines of Nature's facts, and Nature's harmonies, and Nature's laws.

Another fact in regard to the vital energies and forces of the human body is this: That you may use up by an undue push and pressure at one time of life the power that ought to have been spread out over long periods. We see this daily in men who have had trying or or excited lives and occupations. Some of them wear out soon, and grow old soon, and are old men with no energy or vitality left at fifty.