« 前へ次へ »
and give them caudle ; cerebral exhaustion cannot be rectified by muscular fatigue. Indeed, I hold that no girl who suffers from broken rest, or who shirks breakfast, should be allowed to go to school at all, or to engage in brain work of any kind.
OBSTETRICIAN. While maintaining that a high education is, in the main, a good thing for both sexes, I believe that the managers of high grade schools for girls are much to blame for their want of due attention to one cardinal point, viz. that the sexual functions of a growing girl dominate her entire life in an altogether different way from those of a boy. There ought to be more provision, too, I think, in these girls' schools for outdoor games than is common, and by this I mean to advocate a radical alteration in the time-bill of studies, as well as the addition of a playground.
LADY DOCTOR. In this, I heartily agree with my obstetrical friend. But, in London at least, the cost of land is enormous; and to add an adequate playground to each high school would necessitate a very considerable rise in fees. Many of the girls, however, get a good walk twice daily to and from school. As for the time-bill, I would shorten the morning by at least one hour.
MEDICAL LADY. What evidence in life is there that the improved education of women during the last twenty years has resulted in the nervous degenerations of which you speak ?
KNIGHT (impressively). In life, 'tis yet soon to look for witness on the large and startling scale, but you will find it, if you look for it, in the grave.
LADY DOCTOR. You referred to the shirking of solid food at breakfast ; I should like to condemn the forenoon bun as a wretched substitute for that meal. Unsuitable food is a contributing cause of some of the evils to which you have alluded.
KNIGHT. Undoubtedly, combined with the mal-nutrition caused by the withdrawal of nerve energy from the digestive organs, where it is wanted—to the brain, where it might be dispensed with. Indeed, the gastric disorder thus caused is now so common that it might receive the distinctive name of anorexia scholastica, or high-school debility. Unfortunately, the ailments of girihood do not always come to an end when the girl leaves school ; the headachy girl is no: unlikely to grow up into the invalid woman; sleeplessness lays the foundation of insanity; somnambulism leads to hysteria ; and malnutrition in adolescence gives rise to life-long debility.
MEDICAL LADY. Is it not a fact that during the last forty years the average life of women has been lengthened by three and a half years?
KNIGHT (aside). What a storehouse of facts is this lady's imagination. (Aloud.) It is not a fact, madam, though you have some ground for thinking so. The apparent prolongation of life has been due to a reduced mortality among infants, children, and young persons; but beyond middle life the reduction has been trilling, while from 65 to 75 years of age, the death rate has actually increased. In one important point, to which I have not yet alluded (smiling), I feel quite certain that you will agree with me, viz. that it is our sacred duty to preserve the beauty of our girls.
Lady Doctor (blushing). Certainly, if we only knew how. But in this respect we are what our parents made us. Beauty is so much an affair of heredity that it is difficult to conceive how any one can conserve the beauty of other people's children.
KNIGHT. If we are allowed to control the lives of other people's children while they are growing, nothing can be easier than to mar their beauty. For beauty is an affair of environment as well as of heredity. No woman can be absclutely ugly who has a perfect set of sound teeth. But the soundness of the teeth is, to a large extent, dependent on perfect nutrition in childhood, and nothing is more certain to injure this than the dyspepsia which nervous overstrain so often induces at this period.
MEDICAL LADY (smiling, and disclosing a pretty set— adhesive). I think, sir, that women are more interested and happier than they were twenty years ago, and probably, on that account, better looking.
KNIGHT (bowing). I have much pleasure in agreeing with you, madam. To proceed : No woman can be absolutely beautiful who has decayed or artificial teeth.
Medical LADY (tartly). In my opinion, sir, the intellectual development of women may very well be left to women themselves.
KNIGHT. If your wishes could be carried out, the result would be somewhat lopsided. Even women's beauty might suffer from such an arrangement, for genuine education contributes to beauty ; but high-pressure cducation must, in the long run, impair it. i
LADY Doctor. It seems to me that the cult of physical beauty is pursued with greatest zeal by that section of society in which the devotion to frivolity is most intense.
KNIGHT. And yet that cult, in its best sense, is inseparable from the pursuit of true womanly nobility of mind. The brain and the body are not in antagonism. They act and re-act on each other and, like Mrs. Hemans's children, should
Grow in beauty, side by side,
In beauty's palace there are many mansions, but the pathway thither lies not through midnight vigils and tripos examinations. If you wish your girls to grow as pretty as they can, see that they have no work at night with which to sag their weary brains ; see that the drudgery is done in school, when the brain is in prime vigour ; and see that all competition, emulation, marks, prizes, and examinations are abolished. Strive after beauty, and with it there will come health both of body and of mind. For beauty is health, and is not health “in some sense the net total of whatever worth is in us”? To conclude in the words of M. Guyau : “In the education of woman we have to conciliate two opposing principles. On the one hand, having at her disposal less strength than man, woman cannot restore her energy after an equal expenditure of mental work; on the other hand, being destined to be man's companion and the educator of his children, she ought not to be a stranger to any of his occupations or sentiments.” (Exeunt omnes.)
It sounds to one's sleepy ears like a falling house, but it is only Charles ; Charles, our valet, interpreter, courier, beater, pack mule, and game carrier ; Charles-and his boot. He always finds my bedroom door in that fashion, and then, stepping back stealthily into the big bare room which separates my quarters from the rest of the house, approaches again with two timid taps which would not rouse a butterfly. His daily advent expresses him ; he has gone through the world foot first, rousing everything with his boot-including other boots.
He laughs when I expostulate ; an extraordinary laugh, as invariable as his boots, and always at command ; the horse laugh in a foal. With it he clears his mind as a consumptive his chest, to be able to speak; it is a tribute to everything he does not understand, but which looks like humour.
Silence follows when I demand my walking gear, and then our henchman sets about discovering if either brogues or gaiters can by a foolish freak have made their own way upstairs.
He stumbles over everything in the empty room, and comes down at last, amid a chaos of trunks and broken cartridge boxes, with a rifle between his legs, before giving up the search. I hear him crashing through the room beyond, in which the "Sunfish ” sleeps, like an exhausted bombshell.
Three o'clock though it be of an autumn morning in latitude north of Petersburg, that worthy has his word to sling at the intruder; for though he has “ tinned no tongues” during a life of travel, the “Sunfish” has always certain expressions handy which need no interpreter.
Then all is still again. The daughters of the house are below preparing breakfast ; the “Don” is, no doubt, taking a tub in his usual noisy fashion ; Charles is hunting down those boots to the corner where, in his phrase, he forgot to remember he had left them ; our host is in the dark cow-shed looking for something to “oversee"
(he seems pervaded with that notion); but in the wing where I am lodged one hears nothing. Apples, yellow and red, bob on windy nights against the casements, and from the windows on three sides one can crawl out into their mossy forks. What a sweetness soaks out from them after the rain ! Apples, soft as Eden's, and dyed with rosy streaks into their core.
The “Sunfish” begins to sing ; that means he is half through dressing; he indulges every morning in little pæans like a bird, when, as it were, he sees the light through the other end of his clothes. His song is a plain melancholy chant, like a Welsh hymn, in which any note seems equally distant from either end; and it always stops in the middle of a word, in a tragical throat-cut style, but only, I fancy, because the “fish” has forgotten the rest of it, or remembered that he cannot sing.
The “Sunfish”is a sportsman; that is, he shoots straight, and talks learnedly on whisky and“ patterns.” He is fat, and short, and yellow, has a little light hair, and a little light moustache, and little round indefinite eyes which might, from the look of them, have been an heirloom in his family for generations. He has a lordly air and walk, much money and condescension (we have seen the end of neither), is easily flurried and soothed ; supports a pompous wrath, like an old retainer, and desires, above all things, a bubble reputation at the breech-loader's butt.
He has a generous disposition, and will give away almost everything which does not belong to him, including his friends; is the eldest of our party, and has seen the world ; that is, has carried his shaving glass through either hemisphere. We named him so because he is flabby, and fat, and yellow, talks of his "flapper," and has a "ray (not Stiva's, but another). We do not call him the “Sunfish” to his face.
He, the “Don," myself, and another make up our party; the other is still asleep.
He has come to kill nothing but time, does not carry a gun, and will not be down to breakfast ; we must leave him in bed. A mild summons from our host, announcing in Norse that our early meal is waiting, is followed by a stentorian “Wee, ah, wee!” from the “Sunfish.” It is a curious way of his always to shout at the inhabitants of an alien country, because they are deaf to his English, and, where he can, to shout in French ; he seems to think that what is foreign to him must be current with foreigners ; though it may be sometimes, I think, the desire to use a strange tongue with security, or merely an imitative effect.
The “Don," when we arrive downstairs, is at work upon a plate