Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/598

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

size of the body, than men. Many external facts strengthen this theory. But nervous matter distributed over the body, in the form of threads and sensory ganglia, although it would certainly increase the amount of sensitiveness, by giving more nervous surface in proportion to the entire mass, would tend to create a preponderance of emotion over thought. Very strong probability is lent to this explanation by the liability of women to nervous excitement and disease.

Before dropping the argument from physiology, I wish to refer once more to the necessary relation between size and power. Let us suppose two cases for experiment. Let them be respectively that of a man weighing one hundred and fifty pounds, and that of a woman weighing one hundred and thirty pounds. These figures are not far from the average weight of man and woman. In the woman the digestive organs will be smaller; the absorbing surface will be less; the lung-surface will be less; the quantity of blood will be less (and here we may throw in the interesting physiological fact that the solid constituents of the blood of woman are rated about eight per cent less than in man—i. e., the watery ingredient is larger in woman). Now, if we suppose these two persons to be under similar and normal conditions, with each organ bearing a harmonious relation in size to every other—i. e., if the brain of the man have the same proportion to the weight of his body as the brain of the woman to the weight of her body it inevitably follows (if both assimilate proportionate amounts of food in a given time) that more blood will be sent to the brain of the man within a given time than to the brain of the woman in the same time. Consequently, the man will do more thinking in an hour than the woman. Nor will the woman ever be able to overtake the man in the race of thought, any more than she can overtake him in the amount of circulation; for his brain is of exactly the same quality as hers, but it is larger.

In order to see more clearly the importance of the factor of time in this calculation, as well as to get a clearer understanding of the law of the transformation of energy, let us make the further supposition that a pound of bread is gradually converted into vital energy in both these organisms. In the first place, the capacity for mastication and deglutition will be smaller in the woman. She will not be able to swallow her pound of bread in the same time as will the man. But supposing that he gave her this advantage (since it would depend on his will), yet, when the pound of bread had been transferred to the respective stomachs, the smaller lining membrane of the woman's could not secrete as much gastric juice in a given time as the man's; and as she could make no gain in time from his generosity (for the bread would have passed beyond the control of his will), she could not possibly get her bread digested and absorbed in so short a time as he. His blood could furnish the intestinal juices, reabsorb them with the food in solution, and go about some other work, while hers, with just as much work