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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/233

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FEMALE EDUCATION.

has now entered a new country, the face of which she does not know, but which may be full of good and happiness to her. The reasoning faculty acquires more backbone, but is as yet the slave of the instincts and the emotions. A conception of an ideal in anything is then attainable, and the ideal is very apt to take the place of the real. The relations and feelings toward the other sex utterly change, and the change makes its subject liable to tremendous emotional cataclysms, that may utterly overmaster the rest of the mental life. There is a subjective egoism, and often selfishness, tending toward objective dualism. There is resolute action from instinct, and there is a tendency to set at defiance calculation and reason. All those changes go hand in hand with bodily changes and bodily development. There is a direct action and interaction between body and mind, all through. Accompanying all these there are, when health is present, a constant ebullition of animal spirits, a joyous feeling, a pleasure in life for its own sake, and there is a craving for light and beauty in something. There should not only be enough energy in the body and mind to do work, but there should be some to spare for fun and frolic, which is just Nature's pleasant way of expending vital force that is not needed at the time for anything else.

For the origination, for the gradual evolution of all these mental changes into perfect womanhood, there are needed corresponding bodily developments. Without these we should have none of those marvelous mental and emotional phenomena properly evolved and developed. If the health is weak, the nutrition poor, the bodily functions disordered and imperfect, and the nervous force impaired, we are liable to have the whole feminine mental development arrested or distorted. If undue calls are made on the nervous force, or the mental power, or the bodily energies, the perfection of nature can not be attained, and womanhood is reached without the characteristic womanly qualities of mind or body. The fair ideal is distorted. The girl student who has concentrated all her force on cramming book knowledge, neglecting her bodily requirements; the girl betrothed who has been allowed to fall in love before her emotional nature was largely enough developed; and the girl drudge who has been exhausted with physical labor all alike are apt to suffer the effects of an inharmonious, and therefore an unhealthy, mental and bodily constitution. The body and the mind go in absolute unison, just as the blush on the maiden's cheek comes and goes with emotion, as the brightness and mobility of her features go with mental vivacity and happiness.

All those mental and bodily changes are not sudden, nor fully completed and brought to perfection at once; it takes on an average from ten to twelve years before they are fully completed. All that time they are going on, and during that time there is an immense strain on the constitution. All that time the whole organic nature is in a state of what we call instability: that is, it is liable to be upset