and give the public an opportunity
to judge impartially of the merits of the case.
The question is, can the practice of midwifery be carried
on with equal safety by female as by male Practitioners? This is the only
question which ought fairly to be considered, for no one can deny that
safety is the principal consideration; so important indeed that we can
conceive of none that can come in competition with it. If this be decided
in the affirmative, the controversy is settled; for every other consideration
would lead us to the preference of females. But it appears to me that
the objections to this are of a most serious nature. Both the character
and education of women disqualify them for the office.
I do not intend to imply any intellectual inferiority or incompetency
in the sex. My objections are founded rather upon the nature of their
moral qualities, than of the powers of their minds, and upon those very
qualities, which render them, in their appropriate sphere, the pride,
the ornament, and the blessing of mankind.
Women are distinguished for passive fortitude, firmness, &c.
to a much greater degree than men and this whether they are called to
endure suffering themselves, or only witness it in others. They bear painful
operations in surgery or witness them with a resolution at least equal
to that of men. But this is all; their virtues of this kind are wholly
passive. They have not that power of action, or that active power of mind,
which is essential to the practice of the surgeon. They have less pow-