Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/801

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781
MODERN NURSING.


woman lawyer in a Western town. At all events, the opposition to the attempt at widening woman's sphere, or spheres, has ceased, and the recognition of the principles of equal rights, no matter for what color or sex, or previous servitude, is all but universal.

You will not care to go into the question now, whether law or medicine will ever he resorted to by women to any great extent. The entire liberty given them has proved already, will prove more in future, that neither law nor medicine is an appropriate vocation for any but an exceptional class of women, and that the opposition to women practitioners of law and medicine will come less from the professions than from the public. For the public will never admit that a person in the practice of a profession should not give his or her entire attention and strength to it, and the women of the country will never admit that the superintendence of a home and the proper raising of a family are not sufficient employments of all the time and all the powers of the most gifted woman. The amateurs are losing ground. Thus it is that the professions will never be overrun, and the fear of undue competition has long died out, even among the most chicken-hearted braves of the professions. But the question is not how many women will avail themselves of the opportunities granted, but whether they shall have those opportunities, and whether these shall be given the women of all walks of life, of all standards of intellect. And the question has generally been answered affirmatively, to such an extent that it is considered self-understood that, while the mediæval ages attempted to help them as much as possible, modern times prefer to give them the power to help themselves. In regard to nursing, attention was called early to the unmarried and poor among the women. The statistics of Berlin, of the year 1872, proved that every third woman had to provide for herself. It was remarked with surprise that, of 407 such helpless and breadless creatures, but a single one went into nursing as a business. In other Continental cities it was still worse. In Vienna the shiftlessness of women was still greater; misery and poverty reigned supreme, as must be expected when you learn that a woman who took the making of her own clothing, even with the aid of a professional seamstress, into her own hands was punishable under the law.

The proportion of but one nurse to 407 women, who had to work for a living, is remarkable, it is true. For are not nursing, and caring, and attending implanted in woman's nature? What is the reason that so few went into nursing as a business, if not a vocation? Probably, because the women felt, or the public made them feel, that without careful preparation no nurse, or soi-disant nurse, can be efficient. We have still the remnants, I fear numerous ones, of that self-made class of nurses among us. In my own recollection of far-away years I remember a great many, and a great many, I was told but lately, remember me also, perhaps too well. Some of you may have seen