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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/343

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FEMALE EDUCATION.

an organic habit of the body. For any woman to become liable to severe neuralgia is a most terrible thing. It means that while it lasts life is not worth having. It paralyzes the power to work, it deprives her of the power to enjoy anything, it tends toward irritability of temper, it tempts to the use of narcotics and stimulants.

There is but little doubt that a tendency to take stimulants to excess, a morbid craving for alcohol, or drugs that have something like the same effect, goes with the nervousness engendered by school-life. A healthy brain in a healthy body should have no inordinate craving for stimulants. Some of the worst examples I have seen of a craving for stimulants or opium, having become uncontrollable and a real disease, have been in our highly-educated ladies. Tea sometimes is craved for, and taken to excess in such cases.

The most important effect of all I can not very well enter on in detail, for it relates to woman's highest function, that of motherhood. But that this is affected, and most seriously, by over-education in bad methods and under bad conditions, no physician will deny. If the end of mind-culture is to be that its victim is to suffer in a more terrible way from mother Eve's primal curse, and is to have fewer offspring, and those she has are to be of a puny kind, the risk will be recognized by all thoughtful persons as too severe to be deliberately run for our daughters. Perfect health is a priceless blessing to all, but it means even more to women than to men. The cheerfulness and vivacity that are their special characteristic, seem to exist not for themselves alone, but for their families as well, and those are, generally speaking, wanting if the health is bad. Woman is gifted with the power not only of bearing her own share of ills, but of helping to bear those of others. She can't do so in the same degree if she is not in health. She is a plant more difficult to rear than man in our state of society. More care has to be taken of her to mature and consolidate all her organs and functions. Once fully formed as a woman, she can then stand much, but she is specially liable to the effects of adverse conditions during her development. The full bloom of her perfection as the tender mother, the never-tiring nurse of a large family of children, can not be attained if she has been stunted in her full development in any way. Whether she is an actual mother or not, she is infinitely the better for having the full capacity of motherhood. Be she teacher, scholar, or lady of fortune, she will be happier and do her work far better, if she has all the qualities of motherhood. They influence body and mind; any process of education that lessens them deprives the world of means of happiness. It stunts the woman and robs the world. No intellectual results, no culture, no mental elevation, can make up to the world for the loss of any perceptible degree of motherhood; and, as an actual fact, physicians find that over-education by bad methods and under bad conditions has this effect.

The first appearance of the conditions called hysteria is usually