Popular Science Monthly/Volume 30/December 1886/The Higher Education of Woman

972915Popular Science Monthly Volume 30 December 1886 — The Higher Education of Woman1886E. Lynn Linton



ON all sides the woman question bristles with difficulties, and the higher education is one of them. The excess of women over men—reaching to not far from a million—makes it impossible for all to be married—Mormonism not being our way out of the wood. At the same time, this paucity of husbands necessitates the power of self-support for those women of the unendowed classes who are left penniless on the death of the bread-winner, and who must work if they would eat. This power of self-support, again, must be based on broad and honorable lines, and must include something that the world really wants and is content to pay for. It must not be a kind of well-masked charity if it is to serve the daughters of the professional class—women who are emphatically gentle, not only by birth, but by that refinement of habit and delicacy of sentiment which give the only true claim to the comprehensive term of lady. These women must be able to do something which shall not lower their social status and which shall give them a decent income. They must keep in line with their fathers and brothers, and be as well-considered as they. Certainly, they have always had the office of teachers; but all can not be schoolmistresses or governesses, and the continual addition made to the number of candidates for work demands, and has already opened, other avenues and fresh careers. And—but on this no one can help save women themselves—as teachers and governesses they are not generally treated as on an equality with their employers, and are made to feel that to gain money, even by their brains, lowers their social status and reduces them perilously near to the level of the servants. As authoresses or artists they may hold their own; the glamour of "fame" and "genius" gilding over the fact that they make their incomes and do not draw them, and have nothing capitalized—not even their own reputations.

Of late years this question of woman's work has passed into another phase, and the crux now is, not so much how they can be provided with work adequately remunerated, but how they can fit themselves for doing it without damage to their health and those interests of the race and society which are bound up with their well-being. This is the real difficulty, both of the higher education and of the general circumstances surrounding the self-support of women. For the strain is severe, and must be, if they are to successfully compete with men—undeniably the stronger, both in mind and body, in intellectual grasp and staying power, in the faculty of origination, the capacity for sustained effort, and in patient perseverance under arduous and it may be distasteful labor. But the dream and the chief endeavor of women now is to do the same work as men alone have hitherto done—which means that the weaker shall come into direct competition with the stronger—the result being surely a foregone conclusion. This is the natural consequence of the degradation by women themselves of their own more fitting work; so that a female doctor, for the present, holds a higher social position than does the resident governess, while a telegraph-girl may be a lady, but a shop-girl can not.

For well-paid intellectual work a good education is naturally of the first necessity, and the base on which all the rest is founded. Wherefore, the higher education has been organized more as a practical equipment than as an outcome of the purely intellectual desire of women to learn where they have nothing to gain by it. For all this, many girls go to Girton and Newnham who do not mean to practically profit by their education—girls who want to escape from the narrow limits of the home, and who yearn after the quasi-independence of college-life—girls to whom the unknown is emphatically the magnificent, and who desire novelty before all things; with the remnant of the purely studious—those who love learning for its own sake only, independent of gain, kudos, freedom, or novelty. But these are the women who would have studied as ardently, and with less strain, in their own homes; who would have taken a longer time over their education, and would not have hurt their health and drained their vital energies by doing in two or three years what should have taken five or six; who would have gathered with more deliberation, not spurred by emulation nor driven by competition; and who, with energy super-added to their love of knowledge, would have made the Mrs. Somervilles or Caroline Herschels, the Miss Burneys or Harriet Martineaus, of history. But such women are not many; voluntary devotion, irrespective of self-interest, to art, literature, science, philosophy, being one of the rarest accidents in the history of women—as, indeed, must needs be if they are to fulfill the natural functions of their sex.

Three important points come into this question of the higher education of women. These are—1. The wisdom or unwisdom for a father of limited means and uncapitalized income to send to college, at great expense, girls who may marry, and so render the whole outlay of no avail. 2.The effect which this higher education has on the woman and the individual. 3.The physical results on her health and strength, especially in relation to her probable maternity.

To give a good education to a boy is to lay the foundations, not only for a successful individual life, but also those for a well-conditioned family. It is the only thing a man can do who has no fortune to leave his son, and is, in fact, a fortune under another form. With a good education, and brains to profit by it, nothing is impossible. From the Prime Minister to the Lord Chancellor, from the Archbishop of York to the leader of the House of Commons, a clever lad, well educated, has all professional possibilities before him—as the French private has the marshal's báton in his knapsack. But to go to the like expense for the education of a daughter is by no means the same investment, nor can it be made to produce the same return. Where the man's education enables him to provide for his family, a woman's may be entirely thrown away for all remunerative results to herself and others. Indeed, it may be hurtful rather than beneficial. At the best—taking things by their rule and not by their exceptions—it is helpful to herself only; for the women of the professional class, like those of the laboring, support only themselves. For which cause, we may say parenthetically, they are able to undercut the men, and can afford to work for less than can those who have wives and children to support. And this is the reason—again parenthetically—why men try to keep them out of certain trades; seeing in them not so much honest competitors for so much work, as the ultimate destroyers of the home and the family itself. In the education, too, of his sons a father discriminates and determines according to their future. The boy intended for commerce he does not usually send to college; nor is stress laid on Latin or Greek or art or literature at school. For the one destined to the law or the church he stipulates for a sound classical training, and ultimately sends him to the university. For the artist he does not demand science; for the engineer he does not demand music—and so on. Almost all boys who have their own way to make are educated with a distinct reference to their future work; and wise men agree on the folly of wasting time and force on useless acquirements, with corresponding neglect of those which are useful. But how can girls be educated in this special manner? What professions are open to them as to men? The medical alone of the three learned, public opinion not yet being ripe for barristers in petticoats or for women preachers regularly ordained and beneficed; while the army and navy are still more closely shut against those ambitious amazons who think there should be no barriers against them in the barrack-yard or on the quarter-deck, and that what any individual woman can do she should be allowed to do, general rules of prohibition notwithstanding. The higher education gives us better teachers, more accurate writers, and our scantling of medical women. But, if a girl is not to be one of these three things, the money spent on her college career will be emphatically wasted, so far as relates to the wise employment of funds in reference to a remunerative future.

And then there is always that chance of marriage, which knocks the whole thing to pieces; save in those exceptional cases where two students unite their brains as well as their fortunes, and the masculine M. A. marries the feminine, for the better perfecting of philosophic literature. Even in this rare instance the fact of marriage nullifies the good of the education; and, after a father has spent on his daughter's education the same amount of money as would have secured the fortune of a capable son, it can not give him retrospective satisfaction to see her married to some one who will make her the mother of a family, where nothing that she has gained at so much cost will tell. Her knowledge of Greek and German will not help her to understand the management of a nursery; nor will her ability to solve all the problems of Euclid teach her to solve that ass's bridge of domestic economy—the co-ordination of expenditure with means, and the best way of extracting the square root of refinement out of that appalling x of insufficiency.

To justify the cost of her education a woman ought to devote herself to its use, else does it come under the head of waste; and to devote herself to its use she ought to make herself celibate by philosophy and for the utilization of her material, as nuns are celibate by religion and for the saving of their souls. As things are, it is a running with the hare of self-support and hunting with the hounds of matrimony—a kind of trusting to chance and waiting on the chapter of accidents, which deprives this higher education of anything like noble stability in results, making it a mere cast of the die which may draw a prize or throw blank. But very few women would elect to renounce their hope of marriage and maternity for the sake of utilizing their education, or would voluntarily subordinate their individual desire to that vague thing, the good of society. On this point I shall have something to say further on. Yet this self-dedication would be the best answer to those who object to the higher education for the daughters of struggling professional men, because of the large chance there is of its ultimate uselessness. It would give, too, a social purpose, a moral dignity, a philosophic purity, and a personal earnestness to the whole scheme which would make it solid and organic, instead of, as now, loose and accidental.

So far as we have yet gone, has this higher education had a supremely beneficial effect on the character of women themselves? As intelligences, yes; as women, doubtful. We are not now taking the individual women who have been to Girton or Newnham, but the whole class of the quite modern advanced women. These are the direct product of the movement which has not only given us female doctors and superior teachers, but female orators, female politicians, and female censors all round—women who claim for themselves the leadership of life on the ground of a superior morality and clearer insight than have men. In dealing with the woman question, we can never forget the prominent characteristics of the sex—their moral vanity, coupled with their love of domination. The great mass of women think they know better than they can be taught; and on all moral questions claim the highest direction and the noblest spiritual enlightenment. Judging from sentiment and feeling, they refuse the testimony of facts; the logic of history has no lesson for them, nor has any unwelcome science its rights or its truths. They are Anglo-Israelites, but not the products of evolution; and ghosts are real where germs are imaginary. This sentiment, this feeling, is like some other things, a good servant but a bad master. When backed by religious faith it stops at no superstition; when backed by moral conviction, it is a tyranny under which the free energies of life are rendered impossible; when backed by a little knowledge, it assumes infallibility. Scarcely a week passes without some letter in the papers, wherein an imperfectly educated woman attacks a master in his profession, on the ground of her sentiment as superior to his facts—her spiritual enlightenment the Aaron's rod which swallows up his inferior little serpents of scientific truths. This restless desire to shoot with all bows—Ulysses', Nestor's, whose one will—may be, and probably is, the first effervescence of a ferment which will work itself clear by time and use. It is to be hoped so; for the pretensions to supremacy, by reason of their superiority, of women in these later times is not one of the most satisfactory results of the emancipation movement. And they can not be too often reminded that the higher education, with all that this includes, is not meant to supersede their beautiful qualities, but only to strengthen their weak intellectual places and supply their mental deficiencies.

It would not be for the good of the world were the sentiment and tenderness of women to be lost in their philosophic calmness. But as little is it for the advantage of society when that sentiment rules rather than influences, shapes rather than modifies. That old adage about two riding on horseback together, when one must ride behind, is getting a new illustration. Hitherto the man was in front. It was thought that he was the better fitted to both discern the dangers ahead and receive the first brunt of such blows as might be about, while the woman crouched behind the shield of his broad body; and in return for that protection left the reins in his hands and did not meddle with the whip—or if she did, then was she censured while he was ridiculed. Now, things are changing; and on all sides women are seeking to dispossess the men of their places to take them for themselves. In the home and out of the home woman's main desire is for recognized leadership, so that man shall live by their rule. The bed of Procrustes was no myth; we have it in full working activity at this present time.

We come now to the third and most important point, the physical results of the educational strain in relation to maternity. On this head we will take Dr. Withers-Moore as our guide, in his speech made at the British Association on the 11th of August. The pith of his position is in this sentence, "Bacon's mother (intellectual as she was) could not have produced the 'Novum Organum,' but she, perhaps she alone, could and did produce Bacon." The same may be said of Goethe's mother. She could not have written "Faust," but she formed and molded and influenced the man who did. In almost all the histories of great men it is the mother, and not the father, whose influence and teaching are directly traceable; and it is a remark as trite as the thing is common, that great men do not often produce great sons, but almost all great men have notable mothers. As the "Oxford tutor," quoted by Dr. "Withers-Moore, said, "A man's fate depends on the nursing—on the mother, not the father. The father has commonly little to do with the boy till the bent is given, and the foundation of character laid. All depends on the mother." And this means not only her moral influence, but the actual shaping and molding force of her physical condition reacting on his. Following this are the opinions of experts and philosophers who have given time and thought to the subject; and in all the authorities quoted—fourteen in number—there is the same note of warning against overstudy in girls who are one day to be mothers. It is an unwelcome doctrine to those who desire above all things to be put on an absolute equality with men; who desire to do man's special work, while leaving undone their own; who will not recognize the limitations of sex nor the barriers of Nature; who shut their eyes to the good of society and the evil which may be done by individuals; and who believe that all who would arrest a movement fraught with danger to the whole are actuated by private motives of a base kind, and are to be treated as enemies willfully seeking to injure, rather than as friends earnestly desirous of averting injury. Dr. Withers-Moore's summary of the whole question bearing on the physical condition of women as mothers is this:

Excessive work, especially in youth, is ruinous to health, both of mind and body; excessive brain-work more surely so than any other. From the eagerness of woman's nature, competitive brain-work among gifted girls can hardly but be excessive, especially if the competition be against the superior brain-weight and brain-strength of man. The resulting ruin can be averted—if it be averted at all—only by drawing so largely upon the woman's whole capital stock of vital force and energy as to leave a remainder quite inadequate for maternity. The Laureate's "sweet girl graduate in her golden hair" will not have in her the fulfillment of his later aspiration—

"May we see, as ages run.
The mother featured in the son."

The human race will have lost those who should have been her sons. Bacon, for want of a mother, will not be born. She who should have been his mother will perhaps be a very distinguished collegian. That one truism says it all—women are made and meant to be, not men, but mothers of men. A noble mother, a noble wife—are not these the designations in which we find the highest ideal of noble womanhood? Woman was formed to be man's helpmate, not his rival; heart, not head; sustainer, not leader.

The ideal mother is undoubtedly a woman more placid than nervous in temperament, more energetic than restless in habits, and with more strength of character and general good sense than specialized intellectual acquirements. Strong emotions, strained nerves, excitement, anxiety, absorption, are all hurtful to the unborn child. They tend to bring on premature birth; and if not this, then they create sickly offspring, whom the mother can not nourish when they are born. And, speaking of this, I may as well state here that the number of women who can not nurse their own children is yearly increasing in the educated and well-conditioned classes; and that coincident with this special failure is the increase of uterine disease. This I have from one of our most famous specialists. The mental worries and the strain of attention inseparable from professional life make the worst possible conditions for satisfactory child-bearing; while the anxiety bound up with the interruption to her work, consequent on her health and changed condition, must tell heavily on the nerves and mind of the woman whose professional income counts in the family. Her physical troubles, of themselves quite enough to bear, have thus extra weight; and mind, nerves, work, and condition, act and react in a vicious circle all round. Even where her profession is one that does not take her out-of-doors, and does not involve any great personal fatigue—as literature or art—the anxiety of her work and the interruption which must needs result from her state are more disastrous to the unborn than to herself; and the child suffers as much from the relaxation as from the strain. As one of the wisest and best-trained women I know said to me the other day: "How much of all the grand force and nervous power, the steadiness and courage of Englishmen, may not be owing to the fact of the home-life and protection of women; and how much shall we not lose when the mothers of the race are rendered nervous, irritable, and overstrained by the exciting stimulus of education carried to excess, and the exhausting anxieties of professional competition!"

This does not say that only the "stupid women" are therefore to be wives and mothers. Specialized education does not necessarily create companionable nor even sensible women; else, by parity of reasoning, would all professional men be personally charming and delightful, which undoubtedly they all are not. A girl may be a sound Grecian, a brilliant mathematician, a sharp critic, a faultless grammarian, yet be wanting in all that personal tact and temper, clear observation, ready sympathy, and noble self-control which make a companionable wife and a valuable mother. Nor is unprofessional or unspecialized instruction necessarily synonymous with idleness and ignorance; while a good all-round education is likely to prove more serviceable in the home and in society than one or two supreme accomplishments. Many of us make the mistake of confounding education with acquirements, and of running together mental development and intellectual specialization. The women of whom we are most proud in our own history were not remarkable for special intellectual acquirements so much as for general character and the harmonious working of will and morality. The Lady Fanshawes and Elizabeth Frys, the Mary Carpenters and Florence Nightingales, whose names are practically immortal, were not noted for their learning, but they were none the less women whose mark in history is indelible, and the good they did lives after them, and will never die. And taking one of the, at least, partially learned ladies of the past—is it her Latinity and her bookishness that we admire so much in Lady Jane Grey; or is it her modesty, her gentleness, her saintly patience, her devotion?—in a word, is it her education or her character?—the intellectual philosopher, or the sweet and lovely and noble woman?

Modern men want intelligent companions in their wives. But the race demands in its turn healthy, wise, and noble mothers of vigorous children. Only a few of the less worthy men desire simply an upper servant for domestic use, or a mistress for personal pleasure, or both in one, with whom they, the husbands, feel no true comradeship. But do the mass of men want the specialized companionship of a like education? Does not human nature rather desire a change—the relaxation of differences?—and do specialists want to be always talking to their wives of literature, art, science, medicine, law—whatever may be their own assigned work? Would they not rather forget the shop, even though that shop be the library or the studio, and pass into a fresh intellectual atmosphere when they lay aside their MSS. or fling down their brushes? We must always remember, too, that the conduct and management of the house and family belong to women; and that, if the wife and mother does not actively superintend those departments which the fitness of things has apportioned to her, subordinates must—subordinates who will not put into their work either the love or the conscience of the wife, whose interests are identical with her husband's—of the mother, with whom reason and instinct, education and affection, create that half-divine power to which most great men have owed the chief part of their greatness.

Not going all the length of the Turkish idea that women are born into the world only to be the wives and mothers of men—as mothers of women simply keeping up the supply, and that for themselves they are of no account outside their usefulness to and relations with men—it is yet undeniably better that they should be unnoted as individuals and perfect as mothers, rather than famous in their own persons and the mothers of abortive and unsatisfactory children. In this lies the soul of the controversy; for the whole question is contained in the relative importance of individual rights and social duties—freedom for self-development in such direction as may suit ourselves, or subordinating our personal desires to the general and unindividualized good.

We are in the midst of one of the great revolutions of the world. The old faiths are losing their hold and the new are not yet rooted; the old organization of society is crumbling to pieces and we have not even founded, still less created, the new. In this revolution, naturally one of the most prominent facts is the universal claim for individual freedom, outside the elemental laws which hold the foundations together, made by every one alike. We preach the doctrine of rights everywhere, that of duties straggles in where it can; and the one crying need of the world at this moment is for some wise and powerful organizer who shall recombine these scattered elements and reconstruct the shattered edifice. Women, who always outstrip their leaders, are more disorganized, because at this time they are even more individualized, than are men. Scarcely one among them takes into account the general good. Even in those questions where they have made themselves the leaders, individual victories are of greater value than general policy, and they would always subordinate the practical welfare of the majority to the sentimental rights of the minority. An individual sorrow moves them where the massed results of a general law leave them cold. This characteristic is perfectly sound and righteous in those to whom have been confided the care of the family and the arrangement of details. Women ought to be individual, not for themselves but for others; and in that individualism there ought to be the injustice inseparable from devotion. An altruistic mother who would sacrifice her one child for the sake of her neighbor's two does not exactly fulfill our ideas of maternal care; on the other hand, a mother who would rather her son was disgraced as a coward than that he should run the dangers of courage, or the partisan of her own sex who would sacrifice twenty men to save one woman inconvenience or displeasure, is as little fit to be the leader of large movements involving many and varied interests as is that other to be a mother. In their own persons women carry out to a very remarkable degree this principle of individualism, the general good notwithstanding. Speak to an ordinary woman of the evil economic effects of her actions, and you speak a foreign language. She sees only the individual loss or gain of the transaction, and a public or social duty to creatures unknown and unseen does not count. In the cruel vicissitudes of fashion and the ruin of thousands brought about by simple change of material—in the selfish greed for bargains, no matter at whose cost obtained—in the complete ignoring of and indifference to all the results to others of her own example, a woman of the ordinary type is essentially individual and unsocial. In America—whence, however, we have received so many grand and noble impulses—this female individualism, with its corresponding indifference to the public good or to public duty, is even more pronounced than here; and the right of woman to her own development, though that should include what is called "the painless extinction of man," is the very heart and soul of the new creed.

Women, seeking to rule, have forgotten how to obey. Wishing to reorganize society according to their own desires, they have at the same time thrown off all sense of discipline in their own lives; and the former feminine virtues of devotion, patience, self-suppression, and obedience are flung aside as so much tarnished finery of a decayed and dishonored idol. The ordinary woman can not be got to see that she is not only herself but also a member of society and part of an organization; and that she owes, as a duty to the community, the subordination of her individualism to that organization. She understands this only in religious communities, where she obeys her director as one divinely commissioned. Outside religious discipline she refuses obedience to general principles. Society has grown so large and its disorganization is so complete that, she says to herself, her own example does not count. She is but a fractional part of a grain added to a tonweight; and by the law of psycho-dynamics she is undiscerned and without influence. It is all very well in small communities, like those of Greece for instance, or when the one grand lady of the village was the mirror for all to dress by. Then, the individual example was of value; but now—who cares for one out of the tens of thousands crowded in London; and what duty has she to the community comparable to that which she owes herself?

And this brings us round once more to the subject-matter of this paper—the effect on the community of the higher education of women, in its good and evil results on mothers and their offspring, and their own indifference to these results.

It is impossible not to sympathize with a bright girl anxious to go on with her education, and petitioning for leave to study higher matters than have been taught her at her school. It is as impossible not to feel a sense of indignation at the injustice when parents say frankly the education of their girls does not count with them; and, so long as these know how to read and write and can play the piano and are able to dance and perhaps to sew, there is nothing more necessary. We do battle then for the right of the individual to know, to learn, to perfect itself to the utmost of its ability, irrespective of sex. But if we are wise we stop short of such strain as would hurt the health and damage the reproductive energies, if marriage is to come into one of the chances of the future. A girl is something more than an individual; she is the potential mother of a race; and the last is greater and more important than the first. Let her learn by all means. Let her store her mind and add to her knowledge, but always with quietness and self-control—always under restrictions bounded by her sex and its future possible function. Or, if she disregards these restrictions, and goes in for competitive examinations, with their exhausting strain and feverish excitement—if she takes up a profession where she will have to compete with men and suffer all the pain and anxiety of the unequal struggle—let her then dedicate herself from the beginning as the vestal of knowledge, and forego the exercise of that function the perfection of which her own self-improvement has destroyed. We can not combine opposites nor reconcile conflicting conditions. If the mental strain consequent on this higher education does waste the physical energies, and if the gain of the individual is loss to the race, then must that gain be sacrificed or isolated.

Of course, it all depends on that if; and of this experts are the only trustworthy judges. We must be guided by the better knowledge of specialists and those who have studied in all its bearings a subject of which we know only one side, and that side the one turned to our own desire. If one examiner[1] reports that "of the boys twentynine per cent, and of the girls forty-one per cent, were found to be in a sickly state of health"; if another,[2] in confirmation, says that "11,6 per cent of boys and girls in the St. Petersburg schools suffer from headache," we must suppose there is something to be taken note of in the opposition of most medical men to this higher education of women. For we must put out of court, as unworthy of serious consideration, that old, well-worn accusation of man's opposition to woman's advancement from jealousy, tyranny, the desire of domination, and the preference of slaves and mistresses over companions and wives. We must accept it as part of all sane argument that people desire the best—ideas as to what is the best differing according to the point of view; as now in this very question under consideration, where the individual gain clashes with the good of the community, and the personal advantage of the woman hurts her usefulness as a mother. We must acknowledge, too, that experts know better than the unlearned; and that, in matters of health and the wisest rules for physical well-being, medical men are safer guides than girls ambitious for their own distinction, or women ambitious for their sex—holders, too, of the doctrine of absolute equality in mental strength with men, and of free trade in all employments and careers.

A great deal of the difficulty surrounding the question of woman's employment could be got over by women themselves. If, instead of degrading their own more natural work by the social ostracism of the workers, they would raise it by respect and honor, large fields of productive usefulness would be opened and much cause for heart-burning would cease. The greater democracy of the present age makes it possible for great ladies to earn money. Even a queen throws her books into the market, and sells them all the same as others. A generation or so ago no lady could have made money, save by the two methods of painting and writing—both done within the sacred seclusion of the four walls of home. Actresses were what we call in the north "chancey." Some were thoroughly respectable, and came to good ends and high positions; but the bulk were best left alone by women who wished to keep alive anything like veneration for virtue. Now, however, we have opened all gateways, and made it possible for ladies of condition, repute, and birth to do what they will in the way of money-making and still retain both character and position. A princess opens a milliner's shop; a lady of rank is a cow-keeper and profits by her dairy-farm; women of title go on the stage; ladies of gentle birth and breeding are storekeepers and horse-breeders. But as yet these are only the showy—we had almost said theatrical—and quasi-romantic vanguard; and what we want is a stable condition of self-support for women whose inherited position is not of that high class which no work can degrade, but who, ladies as they are, stand or fall according to the arbitrary estimation of their work.

In this, we repeat, no one can help women save women. Certain tailors and certain shopkeepers are received in London society as among its favorite and most honored guests. Do we meet with a milliner, a lady shopkeeper? Do we not all know milliners and dressmakers who are well-educated, pleasant-mannered, honorable ladies; yet would the countesses and dames for whom they devise their dainty costumes agree to meet them on equal terms at balls and dinners? Why not? Surely it can not be on the ground of making their own money. The highest ladies in the land do not disdain to turn an honest penny if they can; and where, pray, is the essential difference between the clergyman's daughter who sells mantles or laces in a shop for her living and the young duchess who sells pincushions and button-holes at a bazaar for her vanity, masked as charity? Here, if we will, the principle of individualism would work with advantage. If we could get rid of all caste feeling, and judge of people by themselves and not by their work—if we would allow that a milliner could be a lady, and a shop-girl on a level with her sister the governess, and both on an equality with their brother the clergyman and their aunt the physician's wife—we should have done more for the question of the employment of women than we have done by the establishment of colleges and the creation of educational standards, the attainments of which are inimical to the best interests of society because hurtful to women themselves. We must do what we can in this life, not always what we would; and the general interests of society are to be considered before those, of a special section, by whose advancement will come about the corresponding degeneracy of the majority.

In these two propositions, then, we think the whole thing lies—in voluntary celibacy for those who overtax their vital energies by an intellectual strain that hurts the offspring; and in the honoring of those lighter and easier methods of making money which have hitherto condemned a woman to social ostracism, and denied her the status she deserves and has inherited.—Fortnightly Review.

  1. Dr. Hertel, speaking of over-pressure in the high-schools of Denmark.
  2. Professor J. N. Bystroff. Both quoted by Dr. Withers-Moore in his speech at the British Association.