Discusses the 'innate distinctive powers and attributes, both mental and bodily' which divide the male from the female. Physical distinctions include the claim that woman is more delicate and has a weaker muscular system than man. Psychical distinctions include the claim that man is formed 'for corporeal and intellectual power' while woman is formed for 'gentleness, affection, and delicacy of feeling'. Adds that woman is more credulous, more sympathetic to others, more inclined to adopt the opinions of others, 'follows and imitates man', but 'intuitively seizes the character of things within her sphere'. (74) Concludes that the 'Author of nature' has made woman unfit for 'the intellectual world' and the 'physical labours of life', but fit for 'quieter intellectual occupations'. Expatiates on woman's 'natural and proper position' and 'those pursuits and objects for which she is fitted'. (75) Condemns the 'American women-reformers' for advising woman to embark on careers in the rough world of 'the arts, science, politics, and government', thus destroying her sex and 'dragging' woman 'from her peaceful shade of home–from the sphere assigned to her by her All-wise God'. (77) Believes medicine to be 'the most revolting' profession 'to be practised by women' owing to their 'instinctive delicacy and refinement' of mind. Warns that a medical training and, moreover, a medical career, must be 'highly offensive' to and destructive of 'female modesty and reserve'. Challenges arguments of Harriot K HuntHunt, Harriot Kezia
WBI CloseView the register entry >> and Elizabeth BlackwellBlackwell, Elizabeth
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, but points out that the qualifications that render women 'invaluable' as nurses 'unfit them to be physicians or surgeons'. Ends by stressing that there is a 'sex of the mind and of the brain'. (79)
Notes the dependence of the beauties of the vegetable world on the 'secret agencies' in sunlight, and the 'Eternal goodness and order' to be 'read in every leaf' (154). Distinguishes between growth in plants and crystals and traces the development of a plant from seed to flower. Describes the latent vitalism in seeds and the chemical and combustion processes involved in germination and vegetation. Considers the power of light to awaken the 'dormant powers' of a plant to be illustrative of the 'mutual dependence of the vegetable and animal kingdoms' (155). Believes that it is the 'call of science' to explain some of the mysteries of vegetable growth. Goes on to explain the nature of the solar spectrum and the importance of actinic rays on vegetable growth (156).
The mother of the character Georgina explains how 'the vital force' causes flowers to blossom and, using an analogy between human intellectual and plant growth, discusses the benefits of strengthening the soul before it is allowed to blossom (167).
Distinguishes the various physiognomies of the inhabitants of the Philippines, including the Spanish and Japanese Tagals, and peoples deriving from Japan, Java, and the archipelago of the South Seas, and the Tinguian Indians.
Describes the striking physical features and habits, and some of the mysteries surrounding, the bird of paradise, including Johann R Forster'sForster, Johann Reinhold
DSB CloseView the register entry >> claim that the ancient Egyptians mistakenly confused the bird with the phoenix. Notes the breeding place and flying behaviour of the bird.
The protagonist laments the fact that his 'strong relish for physical philosophy has [...] tinctured my mind with a very common error of this age—I mean the habit of referring occurrences, even the least susceptible, to the principles of science' (193).
From an analysis of marriage statistics argues that marriage is not the result of 'arbitrary volition and chance' but that 'the passions and affections of men are governed by laws as certain as those of the heavenly bodies or any of the phenomena of nature'. Adds that while marriage statistics do not have the predictive certainty of the 'fortune-teller or the astrologist', they can be used to predict the 'acts of numbers of individuals' with 'sufficient certainty for practical purposes'. (211)
Health, Medical Treatment, Human Development, Sanitation
Gives advice on nursing infants. This includes suggestions for types of medicine to administer to children, an attack on 'Sanitary enthusiasts' for their recommendations regarding fastening children's clothes, and the claim that 'sickly growth' follows from constant suckling (218). Concludes with the dictum, 'Let us subdue mere Nature at her first start, and make her civilised in her beginnings' (219).
Noting how the Crimean War has allowed 'the brightest side of our nature' to appear, provides a biographical account of Florence NightingaleNightingale, Florence
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>. Observes that she 'is endowed with literary and scientific tastes in a remarkable degree'. (243) Relates the sacrifices she made to pursue a medical career and to 'form and control the entire establishment for our sick and wounded soldiers and sailors in the Levant'. Praises her 'heroism in dashing up the heights of Alma in defiance of death and all mortal opposition'. (244)
Mr Churchill, responding to his wife's claim that mathematics is not 'poetical', denies that the 'grand science of numbers' is merely for 'trade', and argues that it is 'divine' and only 'prosaic' owing to the way it is taught (260).
The protagonist is excited by one anomaly of the 'science of the mind' overlooked by the 'schools'—the tendency to find ourselves, while trying to recall a long-forgotten memory, 'upon the very verge of remembrance, without being able [...] to remember' (266). Compares the 'sentiment' he feels towards Lady Ligeia to that experienced on scrutinising various natural phenomena, including a chrysalis, 'the falling of a meteor', and two stars in the constellation Lyra. Astonished by Ligeia's learning, he asks 'where breathes the man who has traversed, and successfully, all the wide areas of moral, physical and mathematical science?'. (267)
Presents cases supporting the claim that 'ordinary dreams take place in imperfect sleep' and are often caused by sensations conveyed from the skin through the nerves to the brain. Discusses how food, or a 'strong impression' made on the mind during the day, can influence dreams. Explores ancient interpretations of dreams and the possibility of influencing dreams by whispering in a sleeper's ear. (275) Records cases of 'intellectual feats' performed during dreams and notes that 'unexpected faculties' are sometimes manifested in the 'dying' and in 'somnambulic' 'idiots' (276). Wonders at the speed of travel and communication in dreams and records cases of dreams which are 'retrospective' and which 'coincide' with distant events (276–77). Gives examples of dreams which 'partake of the nature of second sight' and those of an 'allegorical' nature (277).
Provides a portrait of Florence NightingaleNightingale, Florence
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> for the 'thousands who have womanly hearts to pity and to love'. Upholds her reputation and ridicules the accusation that she gave up home for hospital in order 'to convert the British soldier to Puseyism'.
Astronomy, Measurement, Observation, Time, Instruments
Observes that a character, Harry Woodford, counted the noises of eggs hatching 'with all the precision of an astronomer noting the ticks of his chronometer during the transit of a planet across the lines of his object-glass' (299).
Assesses claims regarding the catching of colds and remedies for the condition, not least the advice of 'Our grandmothers'. Upholds the efficacy of the cold bath as a 'prophylactic or precautionary' measure, but discusses the application of this treatment via the shower-bath and sponges (302).
Upholds the 'necessity' of teaching children religion; notes how 'easy' it is for a child to contemplate the 'goodness and power which formed and sustained' aspects of 'creation' by glimpsing the 'thousand wonders, which by the aid of the microscope, are presented to the eye' (310).
Describes the zoological classification, diet, physical features, importation, animal foes, and nesting habits of various species of the weaver bird, including the broad-shafted whidah finch and bottle-nested sparrow.
Notes the claim of an 'old writer' that 'old physicians were so assured of the virtues derived by' the third finger of the left hand 'that they used to mix their potions and medicaments with it' (365).