Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ilow many wives are there with broken health, with feeble constitutions, and with childless homes! Their number is legion! It is painful to contemplate that, in our country, there are far more unhealthy than healthy wives! There luust surely be numerous causes for such a state of things ! A woman, born with every perfection, to be full of bodily infirmities ! It was ordained by the Almighty that wives should be fruitful and multiply! Surely there must be some thing wrong in the present system if they do not do so! It will, in the following pages, be my object to point out many of the causes of so much ill-health among wives ; ill-health that sometimes leads to barrenness; and to suggest remedies both for the prevention and for the cure of such causes.

4. It is an astounding and lamentable fact, that one out of eight—that twelve and a half per cent. of all the wives of England are barren-are childless! A large majority of this twelve and a half per cent. might be made fruitful, provided a more judicious plan of procedure than is at present pursued were adopted. My anxious endeavours, in the following pages, will be to point out remedies for the evil, and to lay down rules-rules which, I hope, my fair reader will strenuously follow

5. My theme, then, is Health-the Health of Wives—and the object I shall constantly have in view will be the best means both of preserving it and of restoring it when lost. By making a wife strong, she will not only, in the majority of cases, be made fruitful but capable of bringing healthy children into the world. This latter inducement is of great importance; for puny children are not only an anxiety to their parents, but a misery to themselves, and a trouble to all around! Besides, it is the children of England that are to be her future men and women,her glory and her greatness ! How desirable it is, then, that her children should be hardy and strong!

6. A wife may be likened to a fruit-tree, a child to its fruit. We all know that it is as impossible to have fine fruit from an unhealthy tree as to have a fine child from an unhealthy mother. In the one case, the tree either does not bear fruit at all—is barren-or it bears undersized, tasteless fruit-fruit which often either immaturely drops from the tree,* or, if plucked from the tree, is useless ; in the other case, the wife either does not bear children-she is bar.

# " The weakest kind of fruit
Drops earliest to the ground."-Shakespeare.

ren-or she has frequent miscarriages—“untimely fruit”. or she bears puny, sickly children, who often either drop into an early grave, or, if they live, probably drag out a miserable existence. You may as well expect. to gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles," as healthy children from unhealthy parents! Unhealthy parents, then, as a matter of course have unhealthy children; this is as truly the case as the night follows the day, and should deter both man and woman so circumstanced from marrying. There are numerous other complaints besides scrofula and insanity inherited and propagated by parents. It is a fearful responsibility, both to men and women, if they be not healthy, to marry. The result must, as a matter of course, be misery! How many a poor unfortunate child may, with anguish of soul, truly exclaim, “ Be. hold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin hath my mother conceived me. The Psalms.

7. If a wife is to be healthy and strong, she must use the means- -she must sow, the seeds of health before she can, reap a full barvest of health ; health will not come by merely wishing for it. The means are not always at first pleasant; but, like many other things, habit makes them so. Early rising, for instance, is not agreeable to the lazy, and to one fond of her bed; but it is essentially necessary to sound health, and is in the end a pleasure. Exercise is troublesome to the indolent; but no woman can be really strong without it, and exercise becomes after a time, a pastime. Thorough ablution of the whole body is distasteful to one not accustomed to much. washing-to one labouring under a kind of hydrophobia ; but there is no perfect health without the daily cleansing of the whole skin, and thorough ablution becomes after a short period, a luxury. But all these processes entail trouble. True; is anything in this world to be done without trouble? and is not the acquisition of precious health worth trouble? Yes, it is worth more than all 1 our other acquisitions put together! Life without health is a burden ; life with health is a joy and gladness! Up, then, and arouse yourself, and be doing for life is no child's play

"Life is real ! life is earnest.”—Longfellow. , ; ” No time is to be lost if you wish to be well, to be a mother, and to be a mother of healthy children. The misfortune of it is, many ladies are more than half-asleep, and are not aroused to danger until danger stares them in the face ;

66

when danger does show itself, they are like a startled hare -full of fears; they are not cognisant of ill-health slowly creeping upon them, until, in too many cases, the time is gone by for relief, and ill-health has become confirmed-has become a part and parcel of themselves; they do not lock the stable until the steed be stolen; they do not use the means until the means are of no avail

" A sacred burden is this life ye bear,
Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly,
Stand up and walk beneath it steadfastly.
Fail not for sorrow, falter not for sin,
But onward, upward, till the goal ye win."

F. A. Kemble. 8. Idleness is the mother of many diseases ; she breeds them, feeds them, and fosters them, and is, moreover, a great enemy to fecundity. Idleness makes people miserable. I have heard a young girl-surrounded with every luxurybemoan her lot, and complain that she was most unhappy in consequence of not having anything to do, and who wished that she had been a servant, so that she might have been obliged to work for her living. Idleness is certainly the hardest work in the world. 66 Woe to the idle! Woe to the lonely! Woe to the dull! Woe to the quiet little paradise, to the sweet unvaried tenor, to the monotonous round of routine that creates no cares, that inflicts no pangs, and that defies even disappointment." - The Times.

9. It frequently happens that a lady, surrounded with every luxury and every comfort, drags out a miserable exist ence; she cannot say that she ever, even for a single day, really feels well and strong. This is not to live16 For life is not to live, bu

to be well.”-Martial. 10. The life of such an one is wearisome in the extreme; she carries about her a load, grievous to be borne, and, although all around her and about her might be bright and cheerful, a dark cloud of despondency o'ershadows her, and she becomes as helpless and

“As weak as wailing infancy.”-Crabbe. 11. If a person be in perfect health, the very act of living is itself true happiness and thorough enjoyment, the greatest this world can ever bestow. How needful it there fore is that all necessary instruction should be imparted to every Young Wife, and that proper means should, in every way, be used to ensure health !

12. The judicious spending of the first year of married life is of the greatest importance in the making and in the strengthening of a wife's constitution, and in preparing her for having a family. How sad it is, then, that it is the first twelve months that are, as a rule, especially chosen to mar and ruin her own health, and to make her childless ? The present fashionable system of spending the first few months of married life in a round of visiting, of late hours, and in close and heated rooms, calls loudly for a change. How many valuable lives have been sacrificed to such a custom ! How many miscarriages, premature births, and still-born children, have resulted therefrom! How many homes have been made childless—desolate—by it! Time it is that common-sense should take the place of such folly! The present system is abominable, is rotten at the core, and is fraught with the greatest danger to human life and human happiness. How often å lady is, during the first year of her wifehood, gadding out night after night, one evening to a dinner party, the next night to private theatricals, the third to an evening party, the fourth to the theatre, the fifth to a ball, the sixth to a concert, until, in some cases, every night except Sunday night is consumed in this way,—coming home frequently in the small hours of the morning, through damp or fog, or rain or snow, feverish, flushed, and excited, too tired until the morning to sleep, when she should be up, out, and about, When the morning dawns she falls into a heavy, unrefreshing slumber, and wakes not until noon, tired, and unfit for the duties of the day! Night after night-gas, crowded rooms, carbonic acid gas, late hours, wine, and excitement, are her portions. As long as such a plan is adopted the preacher preacheth but in vain. Night after night, week after week, month after month, this game is carried on, until, at length either an illness or broken health supervenes. Surely these are not the best means to ensure health and a family and healthy progeny! The fact is, a wife now-a-days, is too artificial; she lives on excitement; it is like drinking nu wine but champagne, and, like champagne taken in excess, it soon plays sad havoc with her constitution. The pure and exquisite enjoyments of nature are with her too commonplace, tame, low, and vulgar. How little does such a wife know of the domestic happiness so graphically and sweetly described by that foet of the affections, Cowper :

“ Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb'd retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know."

as

13. A fashionable lady might say, “I cannot give up fashionable amusements; I must enjoy myself as others do; I might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion." To such an one I reply, “I myself am not a fashionist-it is not in my line; and as in the following pages I have to tell some plain unvarnished truths, my advice to you is, Close this book at once and read no more of it, as such a work as this cannot be of the slightest use to you, however it might be to one who values health as a jewel of great price one of her most precious earthly possessions." Really the subject is assuming such a serious aspect that it behoves a medical man to speak out plainly and unreservedly, and to call things by their right names. Fashion is oftentimes but another name for suicide and for baby-slaughter--for “massacre of the innocents !” God help the poor unfortunate little child whose mother is a votary of fashion, who spends her time in a round and whirl of fashionable life, and leaves her child to the tender mereies of servants, who.“ gang

their ain gait," and leave their little charge to do the same. Such a mother is more unnatural than a wild beast ; for a wild beast as a rule, is gentle, tender, and attentive to its offspring, scarcely ever for a moment allowing its young to be out of its sight. Truly, fashionable life deadens the feelings and affections. I am quite aware that what I have just now written will, by many fashionable ladies, be pooh-poohed, and be passed by as “the idle wind." They love their pleasures far above either their own or their children's health, and will not allow anything, however precious, to interfere with them; but still I have confidence that many of my judicious readers will see the truth and justness of my remarks, and will profit by them.

14. A round of visiting, a succession of rich living, and a want of rest, during the first year of a wife's life, often plays sad havoc with her health, and takes away years from her existence. Moreover, such proceedings often mar the chances of her ever becoming a mother, and then she will have real cause to grieve over her fatuity.

15. A French poet once sung that a house without a child is like a garden without a flower, or like a cage without a bird. The love of offspring is one of the strongest instincts implanted in woman : there is nothing that will compensate for the want of children. A wife yearns for them; they are as necessary to her happiness as the food she eats and as the air she breathes. If this be true-which, I think, cannot be

« PreviousContinue »