He waved toward the tall awkward scribe in the corner.
"But by this time the war was hot and general, and hard blows dealt on both sides. It was artfully suppressed by our enemies in the profession and in the Press that we had begged hard for the separate class which had been promised us in anatomy, and permission to attend, by ourselves, a limited number of wards in the infirmary; and on this falsehood by suppression worse calumnies were built.
"I shall tell you what we really were, and what foul mouths and pens insinuated we must be.
"Two accomplished women had joined us, and we were now the seven wise virgins of a half-civilized nation, and, if I know black from white, we were seven of its brightest ornaments. We were seven ladies, who wished to be doctresses, especially devoted to our own sex; seven good students, who went on our knees to the university for those separate classes in anatomy and clinical surgery which the university was bound in honor to supply us; but, our prayer rejected, said to the university, 'Well, use your own discretion about separate or mixed classes; but for your own credit, and that of human nature, do not willfully tie a hangman's noose to throttle the weak and deserving, and don't cheat seven poor, hard-working, meritorious women, your own matriculated students, out of our entrance-fees, which lie to this day in the university coffers, out of the exceptionally heavy fees we have paid to your professors, out of all the fruit of our hard study, out of our diplomas, and our bread. Solve the knot your own way. We will submit to mixed classes, or anything, except professional destruction.'
"In this spirit our lion-hearted leader wrote the letter of an uninjured dove, and said there were a great many more wards in the infirmary than any male student could or did attend; we would be content to divide the matter thus: the male students to have the monopoly of two-thirds, we to have the bare right of admission to one-third. By this the male students (if any) who had a sincere objection to study the sick, and witness operations, in our company, could never be troubled with us; and we, though less favored than the male students, could just manage to qualify for that public examination, which was to prove whether we could make able physicians or not.
"Sir, this gentle proposal was rejected with rude scorn, and in aggressive terms. Such is the spirit of a trades-union.
"Having now shown you what we were, I will now tell you what our enemies, declining to observe our conduct, though it was very public, suggested we _must_ be-- seven shameless women, who pursued medicine as a handle for sexuality; who went into the dissecting-room to dissect males, and into the hospital to crowd round the male patient, and who _demanded_ mixed classes, that we might have male companions in those studies which every feminine woman would avoid altogether.
"This key-note struck, the public was regaled with a burst of hypocrisy such as Moli'ere never had the luck to witness, or oh, what a comedy he would have written!
"The immodest sex, taking advantage of Moli'ere's decease without heirs of his brains, set to work in public to teach the modest sex modesty.