Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/845

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EDUCATION AND THE HEALTH OF WOMEN.

pleasant, or enduring his passion. Besides his ungovernable temper, the father had no vices; the mother came of a healthy but somewhat nervous family, who were remarkably religious.

There were five children, three of whom were sons. The eldest inherited his father's temper, was a libertine, and fond of drink. The second son died of delirium tremens; and the third, having squandered his strength and fortune upon women and drink, shot himself. The older daughter, a pale and slender woman of most saintly spirit, gave birth to two children; the first died in infancy; the second lived till the age of puberty, and then went into a rapid consumption. The younger daughter was, during middle life, subject to a periodic insanity, and one of her three children, after suffering from chorea for years, lapsed into idiocy.

Of the family of the oldest son I can only speak with certainty of two. One of his sons had epileptic fits, and one daughter had anger fits quite like her venerable grandfather, when she would swear with a volubility a trooper might envy. These explosions of temper usually ended in hysterical convulsions. Curious to know more, I inquired of a gentleman, an old acquaintance of the family, what sort of a mother old Mr. Blank had. "Oh, she was a nice old lady when I knew her, though she had spells, and, when she was younger, I've heard them say her spells were awful," was the reply. "What kind of spells?" I asked. "I don't know. When I knew her, anything that crossed her, or made her feel bad, would set her going. She seemed to faint, and would go from one fit to another, till sometimes it was hours afore she was herself. She said she felt as if she was choking, and the doctors gave her no end of 'fæta pills,' but she always had spells till she died." "Were you acquainted with Mrs. Blank's family?" I asked, still curious. "Oh, yes, knew them well," said the old man with an air of marked respect. "They were excellent people. The old lady, Mrs. Blank's mother, was very religious, and at camp-meetings was a master hand at having the power. Oh, she was good, and the right sort."

I do not say that if these mothers had not yielded their self-control, the one to hysterics, the other to religious enthusiasm, all the train of evils that appeared in the family I have described would not have happened; but I am sure I keep within the limits of probability if I assert that determined self-control and self-government on their part would have been markedly influential in producing a corresponding nerve-strength and self-control in their offspring.

The radical defect in the education of girls is, that knowledge, and that of a very superficial sort, instead of the cultivation of the faculties, is made its aim. Regarded by the large majority of educators in a partial light as a means organized for something outside of herself, the girl is simply taught to appear educated. The directing of her mind into a wholesome and self-controlled activity, which is the only means of perfecting the intellectual faculties, is not thought of. Her mind is