« EelmineJätka »
qualified persons from examination, and so robbing them of their license and their bread, had an overpowering interest to exclude qualified women from medicine; they had the same interest as the watch-makers' union, the printers', the painters on china, the calico engravers', and others, have to exclude qualified women from those branches, though peculiarly fitted for them, but not more so than they are for the practice of medicine, God having made them, and not men, the medical, and unmusical, sex.
"Wherever there's a trades - union, the weakest go to the wall. Those vulgar unions I have mentioned exclude women from skilled labor they excel in, by violence and conspiracy, though the law threatens them with imprisonment for it: was it in nature, then, that the medical union would be infinitely forbearing when the legislature went and patted it on the back, and said, Ton can conspire with safety against your female rivals? Of course the clique were tempted, more than any clique could bear, by the unwariness of the legislature, and closed the doors of the medical schools to female applicants. Against unqualified female practitioners they never acted with such zeal and consent; and why ?—the female quack is a public pest, and a good foil to the union; the qualified doctress is a public good, and a blow to the union.
"The British medical union was now in a fine attitude by Act of Parliament. It could talk its contempt of medical women, and act its terror of them, and keep both its feigned contempt and its real alarm safe from the test of a public examination—that crucible in which cant, surmise, and mendacity are soon evaporated or precipitated, and only the truth stands firm.
"For all that, two female practitioners got upon the register, and stand out, living landmarks of experience and the truth, in the dead wilderness of surmise and prejudice.
"I will tell you how they got in. The Act of Parliament makes two exceptions: first, it lets in, without examination—and that is very unwise — any foreign doctor who shall be practicing in England at the date of the Act, although, with equal incapacity, it omits to provide that any future foreign doctor shall be able to demand examination (in with the old foreign fogies, blindfold, right or wrong; out with the rising foreign luminaries of an ever-advancing science, right or wrong); and secondly, it lets in, without examination, to experiment on the vile body of the public, any person, qualified or unqualified, who may have been made a doctor by a very venerable and equally irrelevant functionary. Guess, now, who it is that a British Parliament sets above the law, as a Doctor-maker for that public it professes to love and protect!"
"The Regius Professor of Medicine f"
"Then I give it up."
"The Archbishop of Canterbury."
"Oh, come! a joke is a joke."
"This is no joke. Bright monument of British flunkyism and imbecility, there stands the clause setting that Reverend and irrelevant Doctor-maker above the law, which sets his Grace's female relations below the law, and in practice outlaws the whole female population, starving those who desire to practice medicine learnedly, and oppressing those who, out of modesty, not yet quite smothered by custom and monopoly, desire to consult a learned female physician, instead of being driven, like sheep, by iron tyranny—in a country that babbles Liberty—to a male physician or a female quack.
"Well, Sir, in 1849 Miss Elizabeth Blackwell fought the good fight in the United States, and had her troubles; because the States were not so civilized then as now. She graduated Doctor at Geneva, in the State of New York.
"She was practicing in England in 1858, and demanded her place on the Register. She is an Englishwoman by birth; but she is an English M.D. only through America haying more brains than Britain. This one islander sings,' Hail, Columbia 1' as often as 'God save the Queen!' I reckon.
"Miss Garrett, an enthusiastic student, traveled north, south, east, and west, and knocked in vain at the doors of every great school and university in Britain; but at last found a chink in the iron shutters of the Loudon Apothecaries. It seems Parliament was wiser in 1815 than in 1858, for it inserted a clause in the Apothecaries Act of 1815 compelling them to examine all persons who should apply to them for examination after proper courses of study. Their charter contained no loop-hole to evade the Act, and substitute 'him' for 'person;' so they let Miss Garrett in as a student. Like all the students, she had to attend lectures on Chemistry, Botany, Materia Medica, Zoology, Natural Philosophy, and Clinical Surgery. In the collateral subjects they let her sit with the male students; but in Anatomy and Surgery she had to attend the same lectures privately, and pay for lectures all to herself. This cost her enormous fees. However, it is only fair to say that, if she had been one of a dozen female students, the fees would have been diffused; as it was, she had to gild the pill out of her private purse.
"In the hospital teaching she met difficulties and discouragement, though she ask
ed for no more opportunities than are granted readily to professional nurses and female amateurs. But the -whole thing is a mere money question; that is the key to every lock in it.
"She was freely admitted at last to one great hospital, and all went smoothly till some surgeon examined the students vivd voce; then Miss Garrett was off her guard, and displayed too marked a superiority; thereupon the male students played the woman, and begged she might be excluded; and, I am sorry to say, for the credit of your sex, this unmanly request was complied with by the womanish males in power.
"However, at her next hospital Miss Garrett was more discreet, and took pains to conceal her galling superiority.
"All her trouble ended—whore her competitors' began—at the public examination. She passed brilliantly, and is an English apothecary. In civilized France she is a learned Physician.
"She had not been an apothecary a week before the Apothecaries' Society received six hundred letters from the medical smallfry in town and country; they threatened to send no more boys to the Apothecaries, but to the College of Surgeons, if ever another woman received an Apothecary's license. Now you know all men tremble in England at the threats of a trades-union; so the Apothecaries instantly cudgeled their brains to find a way to disobey the law and obey the union. The medical press gave them a hint, and they passed a by-law forbidding their students to receive any part of their education privately, and made it known at the same time that their female students would not be allowed to study the leading subjects publicly. And so they baffled the legislature and outlawed half the nation by a juggle which the press and the public would have risen against, if a single grown-up man had been its victim, instead of four million adult women. Now you are a straightforward man; what do you think of that V
"Humph!" said Vizard. "I do not altogether approvo it. The strong should not use the arts of the weak in fighting the weak. But in spite of your eloquence, I mean to forgive them any thing. Shakspeare has provided them with an excuse that fits all time:
"'Onr poverty, but not onr will, consents."'
"Poverty! the poverty of a company in the city of London! Allons done. Well, Sir, for years after this all Europe, oven Russia, advanced in civilization, and opened their medical schools to women; so did the United States: only the pig-headed Briton stood stock-still, and gloried in his minority of one; as if one small island is likely to be right in its monomania, and all civilized nations wrong.
"But while I was studying in France, one lion-hearted Englishwoman was moving our native isle. First she tried the University of London, and that sets up for a liberal foundation. Answer: 'Our charter is expressly framed to exclude women from medical instruction.'
"Then she sat down to besiege Edinburgh. Now Edinburgh is a very remarkable place. It has only half the houses, but ten times the intellect, of Liverpool or Manchester. And the University has two advantages as a home of science over the English universities: it is far behind them in Greek, which is the language of Error and Nescience, and before them in English, and that is a tongue a good deal of knowledge is printed in. Edinburgh is the only centre of British literature, except London.
"One medical professor received the pioneer with a concise severity, and declined to hear her plead her cause, and one received her almost brutally. He said, 'No respectable woman would apply to him to study Medicine.' Now respectable women were studying it all over Europe."
"Well, but perhaps his soul lived in an island."
"That is so. However, personal applicants must expect a rub or two; and most of the professors, in and out of medicine, treated her with kindness and courtesy.
"Still, she found even the friendly professors alarmed at the idea of a woman matriculating, and becoming Civis Edinensis; so she made a moderate application to the Senate, viz., for leave to attend medical lectures. This request was indorsed by a majority of the medical professors, and granted. But on the appeal of a few medical professors against it, the Senate suspended its resolution, on the ground that there was only one applicant.
"This got wind, and other ladies came into the field directly, your humble servant among them. Then the Senate felt bound to recommend the University Court to admit such female students to matriculate as could pass the preliminary examination; this is in history, logic, languages, and other branches; and we prepared for it in good faith. It was a happy time: after a good day's work, I used to go up the Calton Hill or Arthur's Seat, and view the sea and the Pirajus and the violet hills and the romantic undulations of the city itself, and my heart glowed with love of knowledge and with honorable ambition. I ran over the names of worthy women who had adorned medicine at sundry times and in divers places, and resolved to deserve as great a name as any in history. Refreshed by my walk—I generally walked eight miles, and practiced gymnastics to keep my muscles hard—I used to return to my little lodg
ings; and they too were sweet to me, for I was learning a new science—Logic." "That was a nut to crack." "I have met few easier or sweeter. One non-observer had told me it was a sham science and mere pedantry; another, that it pretended to show men a way to truth without observing. I found, on the contrary, that it was a very pretty little science, which does not affect to discover phenomena, but simply to guard men against rash generalization and false deductions from true data. It taught me the untrained world is brimful of fallacies and verbal equivoques that ought not to puzzle a child, but, whenever they creep into an argument, do actually confound the learned and the simple alike, and all for want of a month's logic.
"Yes, I was happy on the hill and happy by the hearth; and so things went on till the preliminary examination came. It was not severe; we ladies all passed with credit, though many of the male aspirants failed."
"How do you account for thatf" asked Vizard.
"With my eyes. I observe that the average male is very superior in intellect to the average female; and I observe that the picked female is immeasurably more superior to the average male than the average male is to the average female."
"Is it so simple as that T"
"Ay; why not T What! are you one of those who believe that Truth is obscure, hides herself, and lies in a well T I tell you, Sir, Truth lies in no well. The place Truth lies in is—the middle of the turnpike-road. But one old fogy puts on his green spectacles to look for her, and another his red, and another his blue; and so they all miss her, because ehe is a colorless diamond. Those spectacles are preconceived notions, a priori reasoning, cant, prejudice, the depth of Mr. Shallow's inner consciousness, etc., etc. Then comes the observer, opens the eyes that God has given him, tramples on all colored spectacles, and finds Truth as surely as the spectacled theorists miss her. Say that the intellect of the average male is to the average female as ten to six, it is to the intellect of the picked female as ten to a hundred and fifty, or even less. Now the intellect of the male Edinburgh student was much above that of the average male, but still it fell far below that of the picked female. All the examinations at Edinburgh showed this to all God's unspectacled creatures that used their eyes."
These remarks hit Vizard hard. They accorded with his own good sense and method of arguing; but perhaps my more careful readers may have already observed this. He nodded hearty approval for ouce, and she went on:
"We had now a right to matriculate and enter on our medical course. But, to our dis
may, the right was suspended. The proofs of our general proficiency, which we hoped would reconcile the professors to us as students of Medicine, alarmed people, and raised us unscrupulous enemies in some who were justly respected, and others who had influence, though they hardly deserved it.
"A general council of the University was called to reconsider the pledge the Senate had given us, and overawe the University Court by the weight of Academic opinion. The Court itself was fluctuating and ready to turn either way. A large number of male students co-operated against as, with a petition. They, too, were a little vexed at our respectable figure in the preliminary examination.
"The assembly met, and the union orator got up; he was a preacher of the Gospel, and carried the weight of that office. Christianity, as well as Science, seemed to rise against us in his person. He made a long and eloquent speech, based on the intelligent surmises and popular prejudices that were diffused in a hundred leading articles, and in letters to the editor by men and women to whom history was a dead letter in modern controversies; for the Press battled this matter for two years, and furnished each party with an artillery of reasons pro and con.
"He said: 'Woman's sphere is the hearth and the home: to impair her delicacy is to take the bloom from the peach: she could not qualify for Medicine without mastering anatomy and surgery—branches that must unsex her. Providence, intending her to be man's helpmate, not his rival, had given her a body unfit for war or hard labor, and a brain four ounces lighter than a man's, and unable to cope with long study and practical science. In short, she was too good and too stupid for Medicine.'
"It was eloquent, but it was a priori reasoning, and conjecture versus evidence; yet the applause it met with showed one how happy is the orator' qui hurle avec les loups.' Taking the scientific preacher's whole theory in theology and science, woman was high enough in creation to be the mother of God, but not high enough to be a sawbones.
"Well, a professor of belles-lettres rose on our side, not with a rival theory, but with facts. He was a pupil of Lord Bacon and a man of the nineteenth century; so he objected to a priori reasoning on a matter of experience. To settle the question of capacity, he gave a long list of women who had been famous in science: such as Bettesia Gozzadini, Novella Andrea, Novella Calde rini, Madalena Buonsignori, and many more, who were doctors of law and university professors: Dorotea Bocchi, who was professor both of philosophy and medicine; Laura Bassi, who was elected professor of philosophy in 1732 by acclamation, and afterward professor of experimental physics; Anna
Manzolini, professor of anatomy in 1760; Gaetaua Agnesi, professor of mathematics; Christina Roccati, doctor of philosophy in 1750; Clotilde Tambroni, professor of Greek in 1793; Maria Dalle Donne, doctor of medicine in 1799; Zaffira Ferretti, doctor of medicine in 1800; Maria Sega, doctor of medicine in 1799; Modalena Noe, graduate of civil law in 1807. Ladies innumerable who graduated in law and medicine at Pavia, Ferrara, and Padua, including Elena Lucrezia Cornaro, of Padua, a very famous woman. Also in Salamanca, Alcala, Cordova, he named more than one famous doctress. Also in Heidelberg, Gottingen, Giessen, WUrzburg, etc., and even at Utrecht, with numberless graduates in the arts and faculties at Montpellier and Paris in all ages. Also outside reputations, as of Doctor Bouvin and her mother, acknowledged celebrities in their branch of medicine. This chain, he said, has never been really broken. There was scarcely a great foreign university without some female student of high reputation. There were such women at Vienna and Petersburg; many such at Zurich. At Montpellier Mademoise]le Doumergue was carrying all before her, and Miss Garrett and Miss Mary Pntman at Paris, though they were weighted in the race by a foreign language. Let the male English physician pass a stiff examination in scientific French before he brayed so loud. He had never done it yet. This, he said, is not an age of chimeras; it is a wise and wary age, which has established in all branches of learning a sure test of ability in man or woman—public examination followed by a public report. These public examinations are all conducted by males, and women are passing them triumphantly all over Europe and America, and graduate as doctors in every civilized country, and even in half-civilized Russia.
"He then went into our own little preliminary examination, and gave the statistics: In Latin were examined 55 men and 3 women; 10 men were rejected, but no woman; 7 men were respectable, 7 optimi, or first-rate, 1 woman bona, and 1 optima. In mathematics were examined 67 men and 4 women, of whom 1 woman was optima, and 1 bona; 10 men were optimi, and 35 boni; the rest failed. In German 2 men were examined and 1 woman; 1 man was good and 1 woman. In logic 28 men were examined and 1 woman; the woman came out fifth in rank, and she had only been at it a month. In moral philosophy 16 men were examined and 1 woman; the woman came out third. In arithmetic 51 men and 3 women; 2 men were optimi and 1 woman optima; several men failed, and not one woman. In mechanics 81 men and 1 woman; the woman passed with fair credit, us did 13 men, the rest failing. In French were examined 58 men and 4 women; 3 men and 1 woman were respectable; 8 men and
1 woman passed; 2 women attained the highest excellence, optima; and not one man. In English, 63 men and 3 women; 3 men were good and 1 woman; but 2 women were optima) and only 1 man."
"Fancy you remembering figures like that," said Vizard.
"It is all training and habit," said she, simply.
"As to the study and practice of medicine degrading women, he asked if it degraded men. No; it elevated them. They could not contradict him on that point. He declined to believe, without a particle of evidence, that any science could elevate the higher sex and degrade the lower. What evidence we had ran against it. Nurses are not, as a class, unfeminine, yet all that is most appalling, disgusting, horrible, and unsexing in the art of healing is monopolized by them. Women see worse things than doctors. Women nurse all the patients of both sexes, often under horrible and sickening conditions, and lay out all the corpses. No doctor objects to this on sentimental grounds; and whyf because the nurses get only a guinea a week, and not a guinea a flying .visit: to women the loathsome part of medicine; to man the lucrative! The noble nurses of the Crimea went to attend malt* only, yet were not charged with indelicacy. They worked gratis. The would-be doctresses look mainly to attending women; but then they want to be paid for it: there was the rub. It was a mere money question, and all the attempts of the union to hide this and play the sentimental shop-man were transparent hypocrisy and humbug.
"A doctor justly revered in Edinburgh answered him, but said nothing new nor effective, and, to our great joy, the majority went with us.
"Thus encouraged, the University Court settled the matter. We were admitted to matriculate and study medicine under certain conditions, to which I beg your attention.
"The instruction of women for the profession of medicine was to be conducted in separate classes confined entirely to women.
"The professors of the Faculty of Medicine should, for this purpose, be permitted to have separate classes for women.
"All these regulations were approved by the Chancellor, and are to this day a part of the law of that University.
"We ladies, five in number, but afterward seven, were matriculated and registered professional students of medicine, and passed six delightful months we now look back upon as if it was a happy dream.
"We were picked women, all in earnest; we deserved respect, and we met with it. The teachers were kind, and we attentive and respectful; the students were courteous, and we were affable to them, but discreet.
Whatever seven young women could do to earn esteem, and reconcile even our opponents to the experiment, we did. There was not an anti-student or downright flirt among us: and, indeed, I have observed that an earnest love of study and science controls the amorous frivolity of women even more than men's. Perhaps our heads are really mailer than men's, and we haven't room in them to be like Solomon—extremely wise and arrant fools.
"This went on until the first professional examination: but, after the examination, the war, to our consternation, recommenced. Am I, then, bad-hearted for thinking there most have been something in that examination which roused the sleeping spirit of trades-unionism I"
"It seems probable."
"Then view that probability by the light of fact:
"In physiology the male students were 127. In chemistry, 226.
"25 obtained honors in physiology.
"In physiology and chemistry there were 5 women; 1 obtained honors in physiology alone; 4 obtained honors in both physiology and chemistry.
"So, you see, the female students beat the male students in physiology at the rate of five to one, and in chemistry seven and three-quarters to one.
"But, horrible to relate, one of the ladies eclipsed twenty-nine out of the thirty-one gentlemen who took honors in chemistry. In capacity she surpassed them all; for the two who were above her obtained only two marks more than she did, yet they had been a year longer at the study. This entitled her to a' Hope Scholarship' for that year.
"Would you believe it f the scholarship was refused her—in utter defiance of the founder's conditions—on the idle pretext that she had studied at a different hour from the male students, and therefore was not a member of the chemistry class."
"Then why admit her to the competition V said Vizard.
"Why T because the a priori reasoners took for granted she would be defeated. Then the cry would have been,'Yon had your chance; we let you try for the Hope Scholarship, but you could not win it.' Having won it, she was to be cheated out of it somehow or anyhow. The separate class system was not that lady's fault; she would have preferred to pay the University lecturer lighter fees, and attend a better lecture with the male students. The separate class was an unfavorable condition of study, which the University imposed on us as the condition of admitting us to the professional study of medicine. Surely, then, to cheat that lady out of her Hope Scholarship, when she had earned it under conditions of study
enforced and unfavorable, was perfidious and dishonest. It was even a little ungrateful to the injured sex; for the money which founded these scholarships was women's money, every penny of it. The good Professor Hope had lectured to ladies fifty years ago; had taken their fees, and founded his scholarships with their money: and it would have done his heart good to see a lady win and wear that prize, which, but for his female pupils, would never have existed. But it is easy to trample on a dead man; as easy as on living women.
"The perfidy was followed by ruthless tyranny. They refused to admit the fair criminal to the laboratory,'else,' said they, 'she'll defeat more men.'
"That killed her, as a chemist. It gave inferior male students too great an advantage over her. And so the public and Professor Hope were sacrificed to a trades-union, and lost a great analytical chemist, and something more: she had, to my knowledge, a subtle diagnosis. Now we have, at present, no great analyst, and the few competent analysts we have do not possess diagnosis in proportion. They can find a few poisons in the dead, but they are slow to discover them in the living; so they are not to be counted on to save a life, where Crime is administering poison. That woman could, and would, I think.
"They drove her out of chemistry, wherein she was a genius, into surgery, in which she was only a talent. She is now housesurgeon in a great hospital, and the public has lost a great chemist and diagnostic physician combined.
"Up to the date of this enormity the' press had been pretty evenly divided for and against ns. But now, to their credit, they were unanimous, and reprobated the juggle as a breach of public faith and plain morality. Backed by public opinion, one friendly professor took this occasion to move the University to relax the regulations of separate classes, since it had been abused. He proposed that the female students should be admitted to the ordinary classes.
"This proposal was negatived by 58 to 47.
"This small majority was gained by a characteristic manoeuvre. The Queen's name was gravely dragged in as disapproving the proposal, when, in fact, it could never have been submitted to her, or her comment, if any, must have been in writing; and as to the general question, she has never said a public word against medical women. She has too much sense not to ask herself how can any woman be fit to be a queen, ^vith powers of life and death, if no woman is fit to be so small a thing, by comparison, as a physician or a surgeon.
"We were victims of a small majority, obtained by imagination playing upon flunkyism, and the first result was, we were not