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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/527

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EMOTIONS VERSUS HEALTH IN WOMEN.

the individual exciting the complex emotions of anxiety, worry, are largely responsible for inducing this affection. We believe, indeed, that hard work, unaccompanied by emotional excitement, seldom injures either man or woman. It is the man who, in addition to close application to work, is harrassed by fears of poverty, of loss of position, of anxieties for himself or his family, and the woman who bears the burden of domestic cares, of private griefs, or sustains the strain of a complex social system, who suffers from nervous exhaustion, not the bard-working mechanic, or the unemotional washer-woman. The experience of every school-girl testifies that mental anxiety produces a degree of physical exhaustion out of all proportion to the muscular work effected. The agitations of school politics, the over-emotional character often infused into school-girl friendships, the fears of failure and kindred commotions result in more physical weariness than hours of calm, steady work in the laboratory or in the class-room.

A college graduate confesses that one of the most exhausting experiences of her college life was a morning spent in absolute physical inactivity in a student's meeting, but in a state of mental commotion impossible to describe, over an absorbing issue in college politics. "After four hours of that experience," she said, "I was fit for bed, and for nothing else." It requires no great ingenuity to suggest that this tendency in the training of woman which affects her mental and physical health, may be met by remedies addressed to body and mind alike. The education which shall discipline, not eradicate, the emotional susceptibility of women must begin where the gentility of Dr. Holmes's ideal gentleman began, with our great-grandmothers.

Heredity may not be able to shoulder all of the sins of mankind, but, at least, it must bear its share. The coming woman must not only be well-born, she must be bred in more hygienic methods. She must not only possess inherited vigor, she must also be educated nearer to Nature. The genuine child of Nature is not a morbidly emotional child. The girl who lives in the open air, who knows every bird and flower and brook in the neighborhood, has neither time nor inclination to spend in reading the sentimental histories of departed childsaints, and takes small delight in morbid conversation.

Out-of-door life has never been made popular or interesting for little girls as it always has been for boys. Girls will voluntarily seek fresh air and sunshine if they appreciate the delightful occupations as well as the fun to be found in it. They are quite right in "hating to go out because there is nothing to do." Open wide to them the fascinating book of Nature; let them read the story of bird-life and animal-life, and find their first hints of the wonders of plants and rocks by sunlight, and at first hand, not from a printed page in unventilated libraries. Then, when out-of-door life and out-of-door sports have been made as attractive and popular for girls as for boys, and when they have accepted the creed that a nobly-developed and