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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 102, May 21, 1892   By:

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VOL. 102

MAY 21, 1892



"She Pantaloons? seedy? Now, do we look like it?"

The speaker was a tall, robust maiden with fair hair; on her knee was an edition (without notes) of the Anabasis of Xenophon , and by her side was Liddell and Scott's Lexicon , in which she had just been 21 tracking an exceptionally difficult but, let me hasten to add, a perfectly regular Greek verb to its lair. There were a considerable number of roseate specimens of English womanhood in the library of Girnham College, where, with some natural diffidence, I had ventured to put the rather delicate question to which I received the above reply.

For I had been much troubled in my soul about Sir JAMES CRICHTON BROWNE's recent deliverances with regard to the injurious physical effect of the Higher Education upon women, and, as a devoted if hitherto unappreciated admirer of the Fair Sex, I felt I had a theoretical interest in the question, and was bound to verify Dr. BROWNE's views. The most obvious way of satisfying my anxiety was to go to Girnham myself and ask the lady students what they thought about it, and so I did.

[Illustration: "I received the football in the pit of my stomach."]

"I quite agree," I said, mildly, as I unwound my comforter, "that your course of studies seems to suit you remarkably well. Quite a bevy of female admirable CRICHT !"

The effect was immediate; an unmistakable rush of lexicons or were they Todhunters? hurtled around my devoted head from the fair hands of disturbed and ruffled girlhood.

"Pray don't mention that person again!" said my fair haired interlocutor, and I thought I wouldn't.

"Well, but," I began, with heroic daring, as I laid aside my respirator, "as to weak chests now?"

I was interrupted by a paroxysm of coughing, which I tried to explain, as my young friends thumped my back with unnecessary zeal, was, owing to my having imprudently ventured out without my chest protector. As soon as I was able, I feebly hazarded the suggestion that, for growing girls, the habit of stooping over their books seemed calculated to induce weakness in the lungs but their roars of merriment at the idea instantly convinced me that any uneasiness on this score was entirely superfluous.

"You certainly all look remarkably well," I observed, genially, "particularly sunburnt and brow "

Here there was a roar of quite another kind. I endeavoured to protest, as I got behind an arm chair and dodged a Differential Calculus and a large glass inkstand, that I hadn't meant to allude to the obnoxious Physician at all, but had merely intended to convey my hearty admir

"I know what you're going to say!" interrupted the fair haired girl, vivaciously. "And you had better not."

As she spoke, she raised me from my seat by the coat collar with no apparent effort, and deposited me on the top of a tall bookcase, from which I found myself compelled to prosecute my inquiries.

"Nature has been very bountiful to you very much so, I am sure," I murmured, blinking amiably down upon them through the spectacles I wear to correct a slight tendency to strabismus. "Still, don't you er find that your eyes "

I got no further; I thought some of them would have died!

"How about the effect of learning on your looks , now?" I next inquired. "Is it true that classical and mathematical pursuits are apt to exercise a disfiguring effect? Not that, with such blooming faces as I see around me er if you will allow me to say so "

But they wouldn't; on the contrary, I was given to understand, somewhat plainly, that compliments were perhaps ill advised in that gathering.

"Are you hem fond of athletics?" was the question I put next from my lofty perch. "Do you go in for games at all, now?"

"Of course we do!" said the fair haired girl, affording a practical demonstration of the fact by taking me down and proceeding with her lively companions to engage in the old classical game of pila or [Greek: sphairistikae], the recreation in which Ulysses long ago found Nausicaa engaged with her maidens... Continue reading book >>

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