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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/52

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The only child does not mean this, but that the one came so near costing its mother her life that he to whom she is dearer than even his hope of children can not bear to let her undergo the ordeal again. Dr. Engelmann has referred to the fact that men more often than their wives wish to limit the number of their children. I shall never forget the pathos of the day when K, a boy who had graduated from college and married hardly a year before, came to tell me of the birth of his son. For twenty-four hours his wife had striven between life and death; as soon as she was out of immediate danger, he came to me, her long-time friend, and broke down. 'If this is what babies cost,' he said, 'there will never be any more at our house.' The son born that day is seven years old, but he is still an only child. I know many instances where children are few because the one or two who have come 'have cost their mother too much.'

These women are not cowards. Undoubtedly the first six hundred women who cross the campus to-morrow morning would make a Balaklava charge without a desertion. But how many men would go one by one into an advance in which they have been told there was no hope of winning and every chance of being left burdensome cripples for life? I have known many, many college women who have said, 'I will have my baby!' Some of them died for the faith that was in them, some of them are happy mothers; a good many are invalids, of higher or lower degree.

Occasionally we find an alumna who, not strong before maternity, is well thereafter. The stunted system develops, and she becomes the woman that she was meant to be. And what beautiful families these women have! I recall two; in one there are four children under six, in the other, five under twelve, and all hearty, beautifully brought up children.

That it is alumna's misfortune, not her fault, that her children are so few I do not expect to prove. The testimony for the defendant can not, in the nature of the case, be brought into court. Even were I made an accredited observer, the examples quoted could give no scientific proof, since so small a per cent, of the class has been examined. But naturally they influence my opinion because they are 100 per cent, of the cases which I happen to know all about. But I can not even say 'name and address given on application,' as the patent medicine advertisements promise.

The theory which attributes childlessness to physical weakness is by no means a new one. It has been consciously or unconsciously suggested over and over again by students of vital statistics. Dr. Holmes touches upon it in a medical address given in 1867; the declining birth rate was attracting attention even then. And again and again in discussions of the subject by students who are advancing