Three Visits to America (2)

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"The discomforts of 19th Century U.S. rail travel - weary passengers settling for the night."
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1878.


CHAPTER IV.


Railroads, drawing-room cars, sleepers, and hotel cars—Cookery in restaurants, hotels, and private houses—Chicago—Mrs. Kate Doggett, Mrs. Fernando Jones, General Osborne—American affection for England.


THE journey from the Atlantic seaboard to Chicago gave me my first experience in American railroad travelling.  I thought then I had performed a great feat, as I left New York on Monday morning and did not reach the "garden city" till Wednesday, though my train, like Dr. Watts's sun, "never tired or stopped to rest."  Subsequent journeys over the Rocky Mountains, across the plains to California, through Arizona and Texas, taught me afterward to regard this as quite "an easy run."  The stations are called depôts, the carriages are "cars," the line is known as the "track," the engine is spoken of as a "locomotive," the guards as "conductors," the luggage is "freight," and the signal for starting is the cry of "All aboard."  The ordinary cars hold about forty persons, and the utter want of ventilation almost stifles you.  No one will allow you to open a window.  If you venture on such an indiscretion, the conductor remonstrates "most politely" against an innovation so singular that it at once betrays your nationality and ignorance of the ways and manners of the natives.  If you persist, he ends the argument by closing the window himself, quietly remarking, "I guess we can't  afford to warm the prairies as we pass."  Fortunately, though the great Republic acknowledges no first or second class, most of the trains are provided with drawing-room cars, in which, for a few extra dollars, you enjoy plenty of space and better air, magnificent upholstery, dressing-rooms, iced water, grand mirrors, etc., while comfortable arm-chairs are ranged on either side of the avenue down the middle, through which people are always passing "back and forth," as they term it, and boys ply a brisk trade in papers, books, figs, and candies.  At night this is changed for a sleeping-car; bona fide beds are made up, like the berths in an ocean steamer, one above the other, and ladies and gentlemen retire to rest behind the curtains which screen them off from the gaze of each other and the inevitable avenue walker, while the negro porter in attendance cleans the passengers' boots, and watches to see that light-fingered gentry do not deprive innocent sleepers of their watches and money.  The entire arrangement is so novel, that an English traveller finds it difficult to become reconciled to being packed up for the night in this promiscuous fashion; for though we have Pullman sleepers for night Journeys on trains to Manchester, Liverpool, and Edinburgh, they are but little used by ladies.  Without being prudish, the idea of a stranger occupying, the berth above you, enclosed within the shelter of your own curtains, is distasteful to most people.  It is somewhat surprising that our Yankee Cousins, who astonish us by providing a separate entrance for ladies in their hotels, and strain at so many gnats in other directions, should swallow such a camel as one sleeping-car, without even arranging that all the ladies should be assigned the part nearest their dressing-room, and the gentlemen the opposite end next the smoking-room.  At first I rebelled altogether against the sleeping-car institution, not so much from modesty, I confess, as from a nervous dread of asthma in these narrow, closed-up sections.  Latterly, however, I became quite reconciled to it; and indeed, the long journeys across the plains and to the South would be impossible without the rest it affords, and at last I learned to slumber as peacefully in a Pullman sleeper as in an ordinary bed, and almost to prefer night to day journeys.  Every night the linen sheets and pillow-slips are changed, and one of the heaviest expenses of a sleeping-car is the washing bill.  The Wagner Company, I am told, pays 30,000 dollars a year, and the Pullman bill for washing is still heavier.  The conductors and porters in these drawing-room and sleeping-cars are some of the most polite men to be found in the whole of America; the former are most intelligent, and take infinite pains to give the stranger any information respecting the route, pointing out places of interest with all the pride of ownership derived from their possession of the road.

    A great deal has been written about the luxury of American railroad travelling.  It did not strike me as luxurious.  It is supposed that these hotel cars accompany each train, and that you have only to step in from your saloon carriage and breakfast and dine whenever you please while continuing your journey.  When you do strike this institution, I admit it is a boon to the weary traveller doomed to such long distances; but as far as my own experience goes, hotel cars, like angel's visits, are few and far between, and meals are arranged at hours which make them practically useless.  For instance, en route for Denver, dinner was offered me at half-past twelve, an hour after I left Chicago, where I had enjoyed an excellent ten o'clock breakfast at the Palmer House.  Toward the end of the afternoon my thoughts naturally reverted to the subject of food, but I found I had lost my opportunity.  The hotel car had been dropped at a depôt when the dinner was over, and I was told we should not "take up another till the next morning."  Thanks, however, to the Luncheon Basket—its size demands the use of capital letters—which, after one or two such experiences, was always well stocked by my thoughtful travelling companion, we became quite independent of these will-o'-the-wisp dining-cars.  The said basket was duly provisioned with tins of oysters, hardboiled eggs, a cold roast fowl, celery, cheese, pots of fresh butter, jam, tea, and claret; so with our portable kettle and spirit lamp, and with the supplies of fresh bread the porter purchased for us at the eating-house depôts, we were able to defy starvation for several days.  Fruit and coffee can also be obtained on the road, but the latter is seldom good, and often costly.  In Arizona, for instance, I have paid a dollar for two cups of coffee which were not fit to drink.  Just when our long journeys were over the Pullman Company opened a buffet at one end of the drawing-room cars, so that good bread and butter, cold meats, tea and coffee, can now be obtained whenever passengers require "that which is necessary for the animal frame."  I heartily congratulate my American friends on this arrangement, for luncheon baskets are not without their difficulties; food is apt to grow stale after a day or two, and existence on the menu I have indicated becomes monotonous after the fifth consecutive meal!

    The trains stop at the eating-house depots for meals at certain hours, but the food is so badly cooked that it is difficult to eat and impossible to digest.  I must note one remarkable exception, for I never wish for a better breakfast than I had at La Junta in Colorado.  Before departing I complimented the manager on the culinary art displayed by his chef, and then the mystery, was explained.  The proprietor proved to be a German, who had learned his trade in Paris; and while waiting for the train to start off again on its way across the plains into Kansas, we talked over American shortcomings in this direction, and agreed that the proverb "God sends the food, and the devil the cook" is terribly applicable to this country.  "They don't understand anything about keeping meat till it is tender; they kill and cook right away," he said.  In every city, hotel cooking is inferior to what you find in the restaurants.  Delmonico's and the Brunswick in New York hold their own with the best dinners I ever had in Paris, or at the Criterion, Bristol, or Continental in London; there are restaurants I could name in Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, and San Francisco, to which I was introduced by hospitable practiced diners-out, and which are equally good.  The hotels make the mistake of aiming at an extensive menu—quantity rather than quality.

    A sagacious black waiter once remarked to me when travelling through Alabama, "What people want here is a good square meal; they are not particular about what they eat, if only they have a lot of things placed in front of them."

    If you pass out of the narrow range of the millionaires who keep French cooks at fabulous wages, or the few houses in which the science of eating is really understood, you find a superabundance of bad cooking, indigestible hot breads, tough beefsteaks hardly warmed through, greasy potatoes—considered an indispensable breakfast dish in America—to say nothing of wonderful and fearful inventions in the shape of pastry cakes and sweets, and unlimited supplies of iced water.  A sense of taste is probably one of the last and highest stage of civilization.

    Many of my friends across the Atlantic frankly "own up" to their country's defects as far as culinary matters are concerned, and an effort is being made to establish cooking schools for ladies in the large cities.  The American housewife is often at the mercy of some raw Irish servant, and if she has no practical knowledge she can not possibly cope with Bridget's ignorance and wastefulness.  Miss Parloa's classes in New York have been well attended, and she seems more than satisfied with the progress she is making, and asserts that "at no distant day Americans will surpass Europeans in the art of cookery"—"a consummation devoutly to be wished" by many who have sighed over the difficulties to be encountered directly you leave the shadow of the larger cities, or can appreciate the fact that there is a delicacy and refinement appertaining to the food you eat, as much as to the clothes you wear and the books you read.  And indeed, as Owen Meredith says:


"We may live without poetry, music, and art,
 We may live without conscience, and live without heart.
 We may live without friends, we may live without books,
 But civilized man can not live without cooks.
 He may live without books; what is knowledge but grieving?
 He may live without hope; what is hope but deceiving?
 He may live without love; what is passion but pining?
 But where is the man that can live without dining?"


    Just as a sensitive mind dreads contact with anything unrefined, the delicate palate refuses coarsely prepared food.  There is a wide gulf between gluttony and a due appreciation of the science of cookery, and in the interests of health itself this can not be too emphatically stated.  Ladies working in the temperance cause should lay this to heart, for many a man has been driven to the use of stimulants for want of a good, nourishing diet.  It has been said that France is a sober nation because it is a nation of cooks.  Imperfectly nourished persons naturally crave for stimulants, and every thoughtful person will acknowledge that the health and happiness of the people will be promoted by good cookery.  I remember reading an amusing article on the "joyless American face."  The writer said it was not the evidence of an impassioned soul, of conflicting doubts or spiritual yearnings, but it is, he exclaimed, "the pies, hot biscuits, pickles, strange drinks, and other vagaries of our national appetite.  The American stomach has been for years, generally and individually, the laboratory of the profoundest experiments in the matter of peculiar mixtures.  We bolt unwholesome provisions, containing the antipodes of heat and cold, in the midst of business hours, and then wonder that we are brought up sharp with a life-long attack of dyspepsia."

    My first visit to Chicago was made a year after the great fire, when the hearts of the people were still full of the destruction of their property and the desolation of their homes, 50,000 families having been suddenly rendered shelterless by the conflagration, which destroyed 27,000 acres of buildings in twenty-four hours, and drove the people into the lake and on to the prairie for safety, and husbands and wives were for days in suspense as to the fate of those nearest and dearest to them.

    Grace Greenwood once told me she regarded Chicago as "New York with the heart left in"; but unable to yield this tribute without an accompanying joke, she added that the genuine Chicagoan had not only learned the Scotchman's prayer, "Lord, gie us a gude conceit o' oorsels," but had it abundantly answered!  Thus it is alleged what when a true-spirited citizen from Chicago first visits New York, he exclaims, "It isn't much of a city after all."  When he drinks New York whisky he complains it isn't half as good as he gets at home, for it only burns "half-way down"!  The Sunday newspapers can't compare with his; and as for the feet to be seen on Fifth Avenue, he contemptuously remarks, "Call that a foot!—our girls have them twice the size!"  Of Course this is a gross libel on the cultured representative of the West.  The history of Chicago is indeed without a parallel.  Fifty years back it was the haunt of the Indian and wolf; and to-day, in spite of the fearful fire of 1871, it has magnificent buildings, law-courts, public libraries, churches, and hotels.  The Palmer House, an entirely fire-proof building, is one of the best hotels in America, thanks to the untiring energy of its courteous manager, Mr. Willis Howe.  The splendid houses on Michigan and Prairie Avenues are models of taste and elegance, and those who have had the good fortune to gain access to the right set, find in Chicago a thoroughly refined and cultivated society.

    My first recollections of this city are connected with Mrs. Kate Doggett, whose death last March many are still deploring.  Her wide range of talents, and extensive acquaintance with European literature, attracted both men and women prominent in various departments of thought and labour, and her hospitable home in palmy days was therefore the centre of many distinguished gatherings.  The social amenities which make up so-called "society life" were unpleasant to her, and a severe manner was apt to be mistaken by strangers for want of sympathy, especially as this was combined with a somewhat aggressive adherence to her own opinions, and a tendency to ignore the possibility of any other view.  She founded the Philosophical Society and Fortnightly Club, and was certainly a power in the circle she moved in.  After a brief and pleasant stay at her house on Michigan Avenue, I was entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Fernando Jones, under whose kind auspices I visited everything of interest in the city, including an institution about 100 miles away from it, viz., the Home for Disabled Soldiers at Milwaukee.  We were escorted there by General Osborne, who materially aided in achieving the one victory ever gained over the redoubtable Stonewall Jackson, and shared with General Sheridan the honour of receiving one of the two pistols awarded to the "bravest general, in the Union Army."

    As one of the managers of the National Asylums, established on the contributions of "bounty jumpers" and the fines of deserters, General Osborne invited me to see the Wisconsin Home, where deserving soldiers are cared for at the expense of bad ones.  After a pleasant dinner at the Governor's, we were taken to the Institution itself, and received by the officers and their wives, who accompanied us through the building—the library and reading-rooms, lecture and concert hall, post and telegraph office, and hospital ward, with its excellent staff of nurses, until we reached the workshops, where those who desire it can learn any kind of trade.  At five o'clock the bugle sounded, and 600 soldiers assembled in the concert-hall.  I was conducted to the platform by the Governor, General Osborne, and Colonel Ludwicke, and the inevitable speeches occupied at least an hour.

    At the conclusion of this part of the entertainment the soldiers, at the Governor's invitation, sent a most "enthusiastic greeting" to the British Army, accompanied by deafening cheers.  How I was to convey it I never knew.  But I thoroughly understood what it meant, and the constant expressions of devotion to the old country, which are heard throughout the States, can not fail to awaken the traveller's cordial response.  The fervid words of the American poet simply express the widespread sentiment of his countrymen, and must certainly find an echo in every manly English breast:


"Britons—in hope and creed,
     In blood and tongue our brothers;
 We too are heirs of Runnymede,
 And Shakespeare's fame and Cromwell's deed
     Are not alone the mother's!

"'Thicker than water,'—in one rill,
     Through centuries of story,
 Our Saxon blood has flowed, and still
 We share with them its good and ill,
     The shadow and the glory!

"Joint-heirs and kinsfolk, leagues of wave
     Nor length of years can part us,
 The right is ours to shrine and grave,
 The common freehold of the brave,
     The gift of saints and martyrs.

"Our very sins and sorrows teach
     Our kindred frail and human;
 We carp at faults with bitter speech,
 The while, for one unshared by each,
     We have a score in common."


    In spite of recent drastic comments, which have naturally excited some resentment in the breasts of our American cousins, even Sir Lepel Griffin owns that they are indeed "bone of our bone"; and he recognizes that when the united Anglo-Saxon race, disdaining all possible occasion of quarrel, joins hands across the Atlantic, "the peace and progress of the world will be insured."  Whether such utterances as are to be found elsewhere in Sir Lepel's book are likely to "cement this lasting alliance" is perhaps another question, but it is satisfactory to note that an Englishman who has discovered so many faults in "the Great Republic" frankly acknowledges that the position "in which Americans have placed their women, is the best guarantee that the nation will outgrow the blemishes" he now complains of, and "will in the future attain a higher civilization than has been enjoyed by any people who have regarded their intellectual and political life as the undivided dominion of man."


 
CHAPTER V.


A visit to the University of Michigan—President Angel—Andrew White of Cornell—Professor Coit Tyler—Kansas State Unicersity—Chancellor Lippincott—Discussion about co-education—Columbia College—Rev. Dr. Dix and Professor Drisler—Consequences of higher education on health—Views of Frances Power Cobbe, George MacDonald, Mrs. Joseph Choate, President Barnard—Rise and Progress of the movement in England—Miss Dawes, the first Master of Arts in the London University—Mrs. Lucy Mitchell.


THE University of Michigan, which, through State aid, offers its privileges to all persons of either sex who are qualified for admission, was naturally an object of considerable interest to me.  Here I was told that while the question of co-education was being discussed in the Eastern States it had been practically settled in the West.  At the President's house at Ann Arbor I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew White, then President of Cornell, and I heard him lecture on "The Battlefields of Science," describing the opposition which had been encountered in every period of history from superstition and fanaticism.

    The following day Professor Coit Tyler took me over the University, which is organized in three departments—literature, science, and arts; medicine and surgery; and law.  I saw the women students attending all classes save the medical; here they have separate lectures and clinical demonstrations.  One of these I attended personally, and when it concluded the sixty women left the room, and in another moment their places were filled by men, who listened to the same lecture we heard, accompanied by the same illustrations.  "Far from injuring the scholarship here," remarked one of the graduates, "they are, by their earnestness and fidelity, stimulating it; their presence is beginning to give class-room conversation that delicate, chaste, and humane tone which the recognition of women among the readers of books has been giving to English literature during the last hundred years."  The President assured me that none of the ladies had found the curriculum too heavy for their physical endurance, adding emphatically, "any woman who can endure the strain that modern dress and modern society make upon her, can certainly endure any college course of instruction."  The same testimony was afforded by President White of Cornell, who declared it would be difficult to find women in better health than those at Cornell, and that "the effect of study was far less disastrous than frivolous, aimless lives."  President Warren, of the Boston University, has also recently stated that he could not recall a single instance in nine years of a girl's health giving way from overwork.

    When I visited the Kansas State University last March (1884), Chancellor Lippincott spoke in the strongest terms about the success of the movement there, claiming that the co-education scheme having been carried in the Legislature of 1864, Kansas deserves the credit of being the first State in the Union to adopt it.  "A kindlier and more courteous spirit has marked all the students, the roughness and brutality known in so many Eastern colleges have never appeared here, and in seventeen years of the most radical co-education not a whisper of scandal has disturbed the social life of the University."

    But in spite of what has been accomplished at the Boston University, Michigan, Oberlin, and Cornell, the propriety of opening universities to women is still hotly disputed in some quarters.  The matter was being vigorously contested in New York in many circles in the spring of 1883, Columbia College being the battlefield and the Rev. Dr. Dix the leader of the opposing force, who boldly predicted the "ruin of the sex" as the result of the movement.  Dr. Dix is evidently in sympathy with the Pope, who was horror-stricken at the proposal to found a college for women at Montpellier, which he feared would "inflate" their minds with "the pride of a vain and impotent science."

    I was also much amused at the support the opposition received from Dr. Drisler, the Greek professor, who expressed to the Tribune reporter "the fear that girls would take to cigarette smoking, hotel dinners with toasts and responses, and the punch-bowl" if ever admitted to men's colleges.

    Direful indeed are to be the consequences of higher education.  Health is to perish before it, matrimony to become distasteful, and motherhood impossible!  As women are able to go through severe fatigue as nurses in cases of fever and prolonged illness, as they toil in factories, at sewing-machines, and wash-tubs, I call only suppose these gentlemen think that their physical strength may be drawn upon as much as we like as long as we carefully abstain from allowing them to exert their minds.

    I wish people who feel such a tender solicitude for the welfare of girls would take the trouble to trace to its right source what Miss Cobbe describes as "the little health of women."  What of the heavy skirts which have to be dragged up and down steep stairs, which collect a vast amount of dampness and dirt if a girl ventures out on a rainy day, and necessitates an entire change of clothing on her return; the high-heeled boots and the low-necked dresses, the ill-cooked and irregular meals, and the barbarous custom of letting bad hot air into houses in the place of the wholesome open fires which give warmth and ventilation at the same time?

    The worst thing possible is to be obliged to live as hundreds of young ladies are forced to do in fashionable society, in obedience to customs which are destructive to everything worthy and noble.  George MacDonald says he believes "many women go into consumption just from discontent—the discontent of a soul that was meant to sit at the Father's table, and so can not content itself with the husks that the swine eat."  I venture to assert that reasonable clothing, plenty of air and exercise, combined with mental activity, would put an end to half the bodily ailments by which women are now troubled.  The proper exercise of the intellectual powers would prove the best means of preventing and counteracting an undue development of the emotional nature.  The extravagances of imagination and feeling have much to do with the ill-health of girls.

    Miss Maria Mitchell, Professor of Astronomy at Vassar College, read a remarkable paper before the first Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women, in which she frankly stated that from a recent visit to England she could not help thinking that there was more interest in educational questions on our side of the Atlantic.  "I rarely meet in my own country," she said, "one who is interested in the education of women, unless she is herself an educator.  The mass of our people do not believe in the education of women.  They believe that women should know no more of mathematics than just to be able to count.  But do not most people, even of the intelligent classes, believe that above all things a woman's first duty is to be useful in the kitchen and ornamental in the parlour?  Public sentiment does not yet require learning in woman, society is decidedly opposed to it; and however public sentiment may be constructed, 'society' is decidedly fashioned by women.  It belongs to women themselves to introduce a better order of things."

    The listlessness of wealthy women to the educational needs of their sex is apparent in several directions.  How few women, for instance, of either nation have left money for the benefit of woman's needs and colleges!  Well might Mrs. Stanton point to the vast sums left to men's colleges: Mrs. Bunn, of Baltimore, left 30,000 dollars to Princeton, Mrs. Garretson gave 300,000 dollars to an Illinois college, and Mrs. Dudley, of Albany, presented 150,000 dollars to a scientific institute for men, "while Harvard," she continued, "has received three gifts of 25,000 dollars each from Miss Plummer, Mary Townsend, and Sarah Jackson, and from other ladies 30,000 dollars, and yet for years returned her thanks by closing her doors against all New England's daughters."  Even then, when the "Annex" was first opened about five years ago, the ladies had to pay fifty dollars more than the men for the privilege of lecturers to themselves.

    Since Miss Mitchell uttered the regret I have quoted, I think her countrywomen have really exerted themselves to bring about a "better state of things."  A charter has been obtained for the Harvard Annex, which is now known under the more dignified title of "The Society for the Collegiate Education of Women," and I have to thank Mr. Gilman for a very pleasant visit there in the spring of 1883.  I received Mrs. Louis Agassiz's valuable testimony that "all anxiety respecting the presence of young ladies in the Harvard University was dissipated by the result of the first year's trial."  While admitting that it is improbable that many women will desire a collegiate education, Mrs. Agassiz maintains that those who intend to become teachers, writers, journalists, or have a strong impulse for intellectual and scientific pursuits, should have the opportunity of doing so.

    Mrs. Joseph Choate, when speaking of the efforts of the New York Association for the Higher Education of Women, assured me that the reason why American women ask admission into existing colleges is that they experience, as we do in England, the greatest difficulty in obtaining first-rate teaching in separate colleges, and they naturally look to the opening of the university classes as the simplest and best means of providing higher education and raising a class of really cultivated teachers.

    In February, 1883, Mrs. Choate forwarded to the trustees of Columbia College the petition in which the Association I have spoken of stated that the present condition of public opinion, both here and abroad, favoured admitting women to the same educational advantages as men, and cited the recent action of the Universities of Cambridge and London.  The trustees were requested to extend to properly qualified women the advantages of Columbia College, by admitting them to examinations and lectures.  This petition was signed by about 1,400 persons, including President Arthur, General Grant, Secretary Folger, Justice Davis, ex-Judge Dillon, the Rev. Drs. Howard Crosby, Henry C. Potter, John Hall, Richard S. Storrs, and Robert Collyer, Drs. Austin Flint, Frederick R. Sturgis. William A. Hammond, and Alonzo Clark, Lloyd Aspinwall, Mr. Peter Cooper, Cyrus W. Field, Edmund C. Stedman, John Jay, George William Curtis, many principals and teachers in schools for young ladies, and by prominent ladies and gentlemen of New York and Brooklyn.

    The trustees of Columbia College, however, satisfied themselves with declaring that co-education, which they were not asked to decide upon, was "inexpedient," but nevertheless undertook to prepare a course of study to be pursued outside the College, with examinations by its professors, and a diploma or testimonial to be given to those who successfully passed the three-years' course.  They declined, however, to admit women to the College lectures and examinations.

    Columbia had always been regarded as a wealthy College, but it soon afterward transpired that she was burdened with a heavy debt, and had no money with which to provide for the instruction of women.  Those who signed the petition were told if they desired to found a school, it must be entirely detached from the University; the Board would not go further than agree to "consider how best to develop the growth of so interesting a foundation."

    President Barnard, of Columbia, has frequently expressed his sympathy with Mrs. Choate and her colleagues.  In his speech before the Convocation of the University of the State of New York, in 1882, he demonstrated with great force why the colleges should be opened to talent, irrespective of sex; and in answer to the objection that young ladies under such circumstances would be in danger of social familiarity with undesirable persons, he remarked:


"To say that women sitting in the same lecture-room with men, for three or four hours a day, are mingled socially with them during that time, is to speak nonsense, or rather to say what is not true in fact.  I know whereof I speak.  As an officer of a college in another State, I have had classes of women, of from fifty to a hundred at once, in daily attendance on my lectures, with my regular classes of young men, without any communication taking place between them whatever beyond a respectful bow in passing.  Young women might, with just as much propriety, be prohibited from going to church because young men are there; and the same suggestion is still more applicable to attendance at the opera or the theatre, or the social receptions at the colleges which young ladies are allowed to attend, and during which there is no limit at all to freedom of intercourse, which extends often deep into the night, with the accompaniment of music and dancing and solitary rambles through all the wide expanse of the college halls and the grounds.  There is no need of social 'mingling' between young men and women in colleges at all, and with proper arrangements there will be none.  The experience of schools of inferior grade shows this plainly enough.  Of the several hundred academies of the State of New York, under the direction of the regents of this University, the larger portion receive both male and female students.  The scheme of instruction which these institutions attempt to carry out embraces nearly or quite every subject taught in our colleges, and the ages of many of their pupils are as advanced as the average age of college students.  Yet though this system has been in operation in these academies time out of mind, we have never heard of any injurious consequences resulting from the intermingling of the sexes in their class-rooms, or out of them.  I myself, in my juvenile days, was a member of such an academy in the State of Massachusetts.  In the same academy, at the same time, there were not only boys and girls of tender age, but also young men and young women, quite grown up.  During school-hours, though all the pupils were assembled together in the same room, there was no possible intercommunication between them; out of school-hours the boys gathered together to pursue their sports, or went and came by themselves, and the girls did the same.  Between these two classes there was practically no intercourse at all—certainly no more than occasionally occurs in going to or from church."


    In spite of the good opinion Miss Mitchell formed of the interest felt in England on the educational question, it took a great many years to extinguish Mrs. Malaprop's sentiments, though few would have expressed them quite so openly or ignorantly: "I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning.  I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman; for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek or Hebrew, or Algebra or Simony, or Fluxions or Paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learning!  Nor will it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments; but, Sir Anthony, I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, to learn a little ingenuity and artifice.  Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts, and as she grew up I would have her instructed in Geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries; above all, she should be taught orthodoxy.  This, Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know, and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it."  For a long time English girls for the most part only received an education which simply aimed at a mere smattering of languages, a little instrumental music, the use of the globes and dumbbells, and a few superficial general notions.  At best they were but dipped in a solution of accomplishments, a process which only left on them a thin varnish, which never bore the test of time.

    Their education stopped at the very moment when it should begin in real earnest.  A youth's plea of serious study is received as a valid excuse for his inability to answer the casual demands of society.  But in our wealthy classes, under the stern rule of fashion and frivolity, social claims and pleasures compel higher duties to give way before them.  A girl's work seldom takes precedence over other people's amusement; invitations to gossip, morning calls and afternoon parties kill the day, and her studies are thrown to the winds; as Miss Cobbe says, "a woman is generally at the beck and call of somebody, generally of everybody."

    But the vexed question of the higher education of women at last attracted the attention of some of our foremost men in England; the revelations made by the Schools Inquiry Commission aroused even public indignation when the imperfect teaching given in many of our pretentious ladies' colleges was exposed, and then people began to ask, "What can be done to remedy this state of things?"

    The Englishwoman's Magazine was started in 1858 by Miss Parkes, Miss Adelaide Procter, Miss Hays, and a few other ladies, who were determined to keep the matter before the public.  Miss Boucherett founded a society for the same purpose, chiefly, however, directed toward promoting the employment of women.  The Social Science Association also called a committee to consider the best way of advancing the interests of the sex, and Lord Brougham invited me to join its deliberations.

    Subsequently I organized in my own house a series of fortnightly breakfast parties and conferences, for the purpose of discussing the best means of inducing the Universities to admit girls to their local examinations.  Thanks to the joint exertions of Lord Shaftesbury, Miss Emily Davis, the Rev. F. Maurice, Canon Kingsley, Lord Lyttleton, Mr. Nassau Senior, Lord Houghton, Mr. Russell Gurney, and others, the University of Cambridge, in December, 1863, was induced to grant "an experimental examination," at which upwards of ninety girls presented themselves.  Shortly after both Oxford and Cambridge admitted girls to their local examinations, and in 1882, 4,000 students were examined at the various local centres.  The Universities of Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Durham, and St. Andrews then followed the good lead, and in 1878 the University of London secured a special charter for the admission of women to University degrees on the same terms and conditions as men.  This is our only English University which insists on no conditions of collegiate residence.

    Then came the establishment of Girton and Newnham Colleges at Cambridge.  At first the University only sanctioned this step by allowing its examiners to report on the students' papers; about four years ago it consented to give women certificates equivalent to degrees.

    Oxford for a long time, acting on its traditional conservatism, held aloof, though two institutions for women—Lady Margaret Hall and Sommerville College—had been opened there.  But this year (1884) the friends of the higher education have won an important victory.  The statute framed for admitting women to certain of the examinations provided for undergraduates was carried by a majority of 464 to 321, and for the future women will have at Oxford the privileges accorded at Cambridge, Edinburgh, the University of London, and elsewhere, of "a fair field and no favour."  Degrees will not be given at Oxford, but it is to be hoped that the certificates accorded to women students will be definite enough to give them a "marketable value."

    The social dignity, if not the remuneration of teaching, depends very largely on such a stamp of recognition.  The last census shows that there are more than 120,000 women teachers in Great Britain and Ireland, and to these a certificate or University degree is certainly a matter of the highest importance.

    The examinations at the London University are notoriously severe, and therefore the friends of the movement have reason to view with the utmost satisfaction the result of the examination concluded in July, 1884, when the highest distinction yet achieved by a woman was obtained by Miss Dawes, a clergyman's daughter. Several hundreds have passed the matriculation examination, but only fifty ladies have hitherto received degree of Bachelor of Arts, eight that of Science, and three that of Medicine.  Miss Mary Clara Dawes passed the matriculation examination in January, 1879, and gained the forty-seventh place in the Honours division.  In last year's B.A. examination she obtained honours in classics, with the first place in the second class.  This summer she is placed fourth in the list of the Masters of Arts of the year who have taken the degree in the first branch of examination.  Mrs. Sophia Bryant, daughter of a late Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, also obtained the degree of Doctor of Science; and it is worthy of note that her work for the University degree has been carried on simultaneously for five years with teaching of a high order, as mathematical mistress at the North London Collegiate School for Girls, a fact ,which is an answer to much of the current questioning as to overwork for women.

    Indeed women are reaping laurels this year in several important directions; it is said that "Michael Field" is but the nom de plume of the lady who has produced the poetic dramas "Callirrhoe " and "Fair Rosamond," and that the American student Mrs. Lucy Mitchell, so well known to frequenters of the British Museum reading-room, and to the savants of Berlin, has just published one of the best books ever written on Greek Art.


 
CHAPTER VI.


Vassar College—Professor Maria Mitchell—President Caldwell—Life of the students—Effect of study upon health—Improvements in the direction of outdoor amusements between visits in 1873 and 1883—Riding, lawn-tennis, and boating—Wellesley College and its fire-brigade manned by girls—Mills' Seminary, the Vassar of the Pacific coast—Miss Haskell at Godfrey—Payment of female teachers in public schools—English governesses—Colonel Higginson on the gross injustice of the inequalities existing between the salaries of men and women teachers in the United States—Kate Field on the difficulties surrounding journalism—Anna Dickinson—The growing taste for plays versus lectures.


Miss MARIA MITCHELL, to whom I alluded in the last chapter, gave me my first invitation to Vassar College, where she holds the position of Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Observatory.  Her reputation in the New World is as deservedly great as Caroline Herschel's was in the Old.

    I was not prepared for the beautiful surroundings of the College, which is charmingly situated on the bank of the magnificent Hudson River, with the Catskill Mountains stretching along the north and the Fishkills on the south.  The first day I knocked at the portal, on which I did not find the poet's ideal inscription, "Let no man enter in, on pain of death," though Tennyson's "Princess" had always been associated with my thoughts of Vassar.  Nor did I find within the "academic silks; in hue the lilac, with a silken hood to each, and zoned with gold"—collegiate costumes so familiar to playgoers of the season, thanks to the brilliant setting of the Gilbert and Sullivan burlesque of the Princess Ida and her girl graduates.

    It was a bright but bitterly cold morning.  The Ice King had set his seal on land and water, the snow deep on the ground at Poughkeepsie, and


"Every pine and fir and hemlock
     Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
 And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
     Was ridged inch deep with pearl."


    When I revisited Vassar in 1883 the spring was far advanced, the atmosphere was balmy, the skies were clear, the landscape exquisite in its early verdure, and the sun shone forth in marvellous splendour.  On this occasion, as the guest of the College, I was ensconced with due pomp and ceremony in the Founder's Room, with its quaint old furniture of the First Empire, and the portraits of various distinguished people on the walls, among them Matthew Vassar, "the founder, friend, and father" of the College, who appeared to be solemnly watching me as I entered in my note-book before retiring to rest a few remarks respecting the splendid memorial he left behind him for the benefit of American girls.

    With pardonable pride I first record the fact that Mr. Vassar was an Englishman, born on the Norfolk coast.  Having acquired a vast fortune in America, he determined to found an institution which should be to girls what Harvard and Yale are to boys.  In 1860 he obtained a charter from the Legislature of New York, transferred 400,000 dollars to trustees, chose the site, and erected the magnificent building in which some of the brightest and best American women have spent their happiest years.  Several mothers complained to me that daughters are always asking "to spend another year at Vassar."  After the pleasant time I spent there with President and Mrs. Caldwell, and what I saw of the life of these bright and enthusiastic girls, I do not wonder that they are loth to quit a place full of such pleasant companionship, happy experiences, and perfect freedom from care.

    Mr. Vassar's munificence did not end with his first gift; 20,000 dollars were expended on an Art Gallery, 75,000 dollars on building purposes, and at his death the College was found to be his principal inheritor.  Some idea of the size of Vassar—which stands on its own 200 acres—may be gathered from the fact that, in the main building, besides accommodation for 400 students, there are six independent dwellings for the president, resident professors, rooms for managers and 100 servants, lecture-halls, class-rooms, parlours, a library, dining-hall, and chapel.  The laboratory is a separate building in the grounds, and so is the observatory, containing some splendid instruments, over which Professor Maria Mitchell reigns supreme.  As you look into that strong, good face, shadowed by grey curls, which soften its outline and grace it with a beauty which often comes with age, you can understand the magnetic sympathy which holds her youthful scholars spellbound, and makes their scientific investigations full of delight as well as of wonder.

    The students "room" together in groups, three or four sharing a pleasant little study, round which their separate small but well-ventilated bedrooms are arranged, and these are furnished according to individual taste.  Pleasant glimpses into character were afforded me of the owners thereof by sundry conversations in them.  Some of these little "parlours" would have even gladdened the heart of Oscar Wilde, had he been permitted to peep into them—so "utterly too-too" are they in colouring and furniture.

    In speaking on the health question, Miss Mitchell and the doctor in charge of the physical well-being of the girls at Vassar stated that those who studied the hardest were the healthiest, and they did not hesitate to attribute the general delicacy of American women to the terrible severity and extremes of the climate, the mode of heating the houses, and the widespread disinclination to physical exercise, to say nothing of the intemperate use of iced water.  I may note here, that while inspecting the steward's department I learned that one item for that day's dinner was 200 quarts of ice-cream.  Founder's day is the greatest in the calendar at Vassar; it is the anniversary of Mr. Matthew Vassar's birthday.  Studies are laid aside, and the evening is devoted to festivity.  Cards of invitation are sent out weeks previously by the students, and scores of young gentlemen and friends from all parts of the country respond, and "a real elegant time" is generally the result.

    There was an excellent riding-school attached to Vassar when I first went there in 1873, and I was very sorry to find it had disappeared; "want of funds" was the reason assigned.  A welcome was given to the girls at the Harvard Annex to Dr. Sargeant's gymnasium there, but so little advantage was taken of it that he told me he was obliged after a short time to discontinue the classes.  Considering that the physical education of the future mothers of the Republic is as important as the mental, these facts are much to be regretted.  Fortunately the Hudson river and the lake in the Vassar College grounds are available for boating in the summer and skating in the winter, and many a student has achieved honourable distinction for herself in handling the oar.

    On the whole, however, it struck me during my last visit to America that a great improvement had been effected generally respecting outdoor healthy amusements.  Lawn-tennis had become quite popular, and many girls I saw were expert players. Considerable rivalry was displayed, not only in point of skill, but costume; and very attractive these bright American girls look in their tight-fitting jerseys and short skirts.  Many of the New York girls ride well, too, and are very particular about the cut of their London habits.  You often see in the early morning parties of ten and twelve riding together in Central Park, with well-mounted grooms behind them.  As one of the leaders of society remarked to me as we were driving together, the "magnificence of the horses and carriages and sleighs to be seen at the fashionable hour is one of the greatest signs of the growth of wealth and luxury in this republican city."  Some of the girls frequent the fencing-school, but are too much inclined to be content with the simplest movements; only a few of the more daring spirits encounter the thrust.  "As soon as one of them makes a pass they both run away," confessed one of the teachers of the noble art.

    I was greatly disappointed to be unable to visit Wellesley College, but was fortunate enough, at ex-Governor Claflin's at Boston, to meet the president, a bright, charming lady, very young to hold such a responsible position, but one who is quite "master of the situation."  The College is open to all, but the severe course of study soon weeds out the stupid and the ignorant, for graduates from Wellesley are intended to "rank with graduates from Harvard and Yale.  I hope the practical work in connection with the fire-brigade will never disappear at Wellesley, as the riding school has at Vassar.  The girls work the hand-pumps distributed throughout the building, every pump having six pails for water.  Each pump has a captain and a company of six girls, who are drilled in handling pumps, forming lines, and passing the pails of water—an excellent discipline, teaching what regular action is worth in the presence of a danger unfortunately so frequent in American hotels and houses.

    Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith's Colleges hold the position in the Eastern States that Mills' Seminary does in the West.  I spent a very pleasant day at the latter during my stay in San Francisco.  The girl graduates enrolled, represent not only California, but even the Sandwich Islands, British Columbia, and Mexico.  Crossing the beautiful bay by ferry, I reached Oakland, and was driven, behind a splendid pair of American trotters, through lovely scenery to the foot of the San Pablo range of mountains.  In a secluded spot, in the midst of the pine, oak, and eucalyptus trees, for which this part of the world is noted, I found a remarkably imposing building, full of eager, vivacious Western girls at the most restless, assertive age, every one of them with some unlived romance in her heart.  It appeared marvellous that such perfect discipline should be maintained.  The whole thing seemed to go like clockwork, though it is not easy to understand how all those throbbing heart strings are kept wound up and in order.  It is scarcely possible to over-estimate the value of such an institution on the Pacific coast, nor the magnanimity of its founder, Mrs. Mills.  Never had girls finer opportunities for study in the midst of surroundings more attractive.

    Nor can I forget while writing about colleges for girls the two days I spent at the Monticello Seminary at Godfrey, about twenty miles from St. Louis.  I think if any one asked me to name one of the "best times" I had during my last trip to America, I should unhesitatingly reply, "the hours I spent with Miss Haskell at Monticello."  Endowed with a fine personal presence, which might be too imposing but for the genial manner and sweet womanliness of her nature, Miss Haskell's boundless share of genuine humour carries the stranger's heart into instant and willing captivity.  Seldom have I met with any one whose influence was so magnetic and healthy.  She has one of those rare and beautiful natures which seems at once to bring out all the good in those with whom she comes in contact.  Fortunate indeed are the girls who find themselves placed under the beneficent care of this intellectual woman, who, in spite of her vast learning and grave responsibilities, retains such a buoyant youthful nature, that when the hour comes for throwing down the reins of government, and promoting the wholesome fun, which is so important an item in a girl's well-being, the youngest student in the College does not enter into any admissible frolic with keener zest than its wise and cultured principal.  Miss Haskell is still the leader, for she is the heart and soul of the entertainment, the merriest spirit in all the happy throng.

    The system of co-education admits of discussion, but there is no question whatever about the advantages of such colleges as these, when every effort has been made to raise them to the height of great educational institutions.  Their endowments and gifted professors give them a distinct prestige, and can not fail to educate the minds of the people, and teach them to realize the benefit of full collegiate advantages for women.

    I was somewhat curious to ascertain if ordinary women teachers in America suffered as much as English women do from want of adequate salaries.  I fear it is so, and there seems yet the opportunity for an honourable rivalship in seeing which country shall first rate a woman's work at its true value.  In America teachers are more trusted; they are certainly in great request, and their work is excellent; but, thanks to tradition and prejudice, they are still under-paid.  I read in one place of the preference for female teachers "on the score of their cheapness, as well as on the ground of their general efficiency."  Another report declared, "We demand and receive the best talent, and lavish on it per diem a sum scarcely equal to the amount paid to the washer woman."  The average salaries of women teachers in Vermont range from eight dollars per month (with board) to $750 a year, those of men from twenty dollars a month to $1,600 a year.  A teacher, in speaking of this matter to me, said, "We are expected to work with alacrity, give up our time, be well posted in every subject, dress like ladies, and accept a salary which a French cook would scorn."  In the grammar schools the male principals receive 3,000 dollars per annum, and vice-principals 2,500, the women occupying a similar position receiving 2,000 and 1,200 dollars, and yet the work is as onerous for a woman as for a man.  To be successful, a school-teacher must have equal physical and mental energy, the women require the same preparatory training, pass the same examinations, teach the same number of hours, the work calls from them the same entire devotion; it does not only mean teaching, but the far higher task of shaping careless, dull children into intelligent men and women, and the still more delicate work of guiding the lawless and precocious.  The question of marriage, which is often assigned as the reason of higher payment in the case of men, is quite irrelevant.  The men are paid more whether they are married or single, and women are paid less, though they may be widows with families to support.  People are perhaps beginning to be ashamed of advancing the argument often heard in times past in England, viz., that women are less extravagant in their habits, and require less food, etc., than men.  But only the other day the daughter of a British officer—a thoroughly qualified governess—told me that she had offered her services in that capacity to a lady, who replied, "I shall be glad to engage you to teach my children in return for a comfortable home, as you must have a pension sufficient for your requirements without salary."  Who would dare to propose such a thing to a man?  Our very servants and charwomen are thought worthy of their hire, but it is more difficult than people generally suppose for educated women to obtain justice.

    I was both surprised and pained to see the following advertisement in the New York Tribune a few months ago, for I had hoped American women would never reach this extremity: "A lone lady of culture would give her time in reading, writing for, and otherwise conducing to the happiness and interest of a lady of means,—for a home."  It is true that young men in both our countries have nowadays to encounter keen competition, but there is no class of men compelled to offer intellectual service in return for food and shelter.

    The inequality in the salaries of the sexes reminds me of Colonel Higginson's observation to me when we were once discussing the same subject at Boston.  He naïvely remarked, "Like Charles Lamb, who atoned for coming so late to his office in the morning by leaving it early in the afternoon, we have in the United States first half educated the women, and then, to restore the balance, only half paid them."  Since these words were spoken much has been done to remedy the first injustice; and most assuredly the day will come when competent teachers will be paid for competent work irrespective of sex.

    That winter Anna Dickinson was lecturing on "What's to Hinder?" in which she maintained that men received large salaries because they earned them, while women get a small salary, and half the time do not earn that!  This she attributed to the poor nature of their work generally.  She did not, to my mind, lay quite sufficient stress upon the reason which accounts for women's shortcomings in all directions of work, namely, the want of due training, though she admitted that while "public opinion" makes it pre-eminently dishonourable for a man to be idle, it not only stimulates the love of ease in women, but binds them hand and foot, to prevent them from working.  "If a woman has to work," she continued, "let her choose her work, learn her work, and know her work, and the world will doff its cap, and acknowledge her true worth."

    The recognition, as far as equal wages are concerned, has not yet come, and that is a recognition which is of the greatest importance.  The very day after hearing Miss Dickinson's lecture I visited the office of the Western Union Telegraph Company in Broadway; there, the lady-superintendent, although her ability is indisputable, was in receipt of a considerably lower salary than would be offered to a man under the same circumstances.  Among the operators was one who had learned the business in Russia and spoke several languages, and was consequently often appealed to by the authorities in the masculine department; nevertheless, she was not paid a higher salary than the rest, and I am convinced it is this want of legitimate reward which depresses women in the various occupations they take up.  Even in literature women are sometimes handicapped by sex.  I was told on authority I could not doubt, that a well-known American authoress, having always conducted her business by correspondence with the firm that published her books, was supposed to be one of the lords of creation, and paid accordingly.  When her sex was accidentally discovered, the payments were reduced.  In the lecture-field, Anna Dickinson, however, was a remarkable illustration that the higher arts are often as just in their rewards to women as to men.  Patti and Christine Nilsson are certainly as well paid as any male singer.  The "leading lady" of a theatrical company often receives a higher salary than "the leading man," and the same applies as a rule to literature, though by no means to journalism.

    Miss Kate Field has recently expressed herself so definitely as to the difficulties a woman journalist experiences, that I shall quote her opinion here, as her means of forming a correct view in this particular direction in her own country far exceed my own:


    "In journalism woman's opportunity is vastly inferior to man's.  I know of women who are strong editorial writers, but their sex is their crime.  Women, as a rule, are not favourites in newspaper offices, though Miss Nelly Hutchinson, of the New York Tribune, whose services are invaluable, is, I believe, thoroughly appreciated.  She is an exception to the rule.  Women are accepted as correspondents, but otherwise they have little chance as journalists.  A reporter must go everywhere at all hours; woman can not then be an ordinary reporter.  There is no reason why she should not be a literary critic, and, on evening papers there is no good reason why she should not be a musical and dramatic critic ; but as a matter of fact she rarely is given the opportunity.

    "In literature proper, I should say the woman of genius has an equal chance with the man of genius; that the woman of less than genius has inferior training than man, and hence is at a disadvantage.  In journalism a woman's sex is her misfortune, and nothing but undaunted pluck can obtain for her what is within easy reach of less able men—remember that I refer to daily journalism.  Miss Mary L. Booth is a shining example of woman's success in editing a weekly paper.  Mrs. Frank Leslie can not fairly be placed in the same category, as she inherited Frank Leslie's publications from her husband; but the masterly manner in which she has resuscitated them from old creditors, and turned bankrupt stock into a yearly income of $100,000 and more, proves what woman can do even in the finance of weekly journalism."


    Miss Dickinson's own career was unique.  The first thing that struck you when you looked at her face, surrounded by a mass of raven-black curly hair, was the extreme power, passion, and spirited beauty of the dark flashing eyes, and her whole physique denoted great nervous power.  At one time she was a teacher in a school, and then the fastest adjuster in the United States Mint.  At the invitation of William Lloyd Garrison she addressed a New England meeting from Theodore Parker's pulpit, and her magnetic power over her audience was so great, that she was requested to give a course of political lectures, which were afterward described as "galvanizing the desponding loyalists to life"—a march of "triumph ending in a complete republican victory."  From that time Anna Dickinson's position as an orator was secure, and she received for many years a larger income than any other regular lecturer.  Latterly Miss Dickinson endeavoured to obtain dramatic laurels, to the great regret of most of her friends, and much to the loss of the lecture-goers.  Whatever may be her title to favour as an actress, I can not say, not having had the chance of seeing her in this capacity, but there is no question as to her skill as a playwright!  Her "Anne Boleyn" is a tragedy full of powerful situations from beginning to end.  When I last saw Miss Dickinson at the Palmer House, Chicago, in March, 1884, she had been confined to her room for weeks with a nervous illness; but her want of "fair play" on the stage had not daunted her, and her conversation was as piquant, vital, and magnetic as ever.  I was glad to hear that she intended, as soon as her strength permitted, to return to her work as a lecturer, where she will doubtless soon regain the position she abandoned for the stage, although the platform will never be as popular as of old.  The American people have ceased to support the literary institutes as they did ten years ago; the vital questions which once occupied the attention of the speakers and audiences have received their solution, those that now arise are discussed elsewhere.  The public, as a rule, asks for amusement, not instruction.  The Rev. Joseph Cook, who is regarded as a "leading local light" on the American platform, had but poor support throughout the country during this last lecture season.  A Buffalo paper stated that only $112 remained after paying expenses, and an appeal was issued to make up the amount to $500.  Even the most popular speakers are forced to be contented with smaller fees and smaller audiences, with the exception of Colonel Ingersoll, who can fill the huge Music Hall at Chicago from floor to ceiling, and whose progress through the West this winter was certainly most remarkable.  Whether people sympathize or not with his attacks on "Orthodoxy," they at least have given his opinions a wide and impartial hearing throughout the country.

    The travelling theatrical company, however, now penetrates into regions where once the lecturer was the only joy,—the one link with the great world beyond.  If they clash, the play-actors have a full house and the lecturer stands dismayed before a row of empty benches.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and I for one have no cause to complain of the kind welcome given me in most of the Institutes I spoke in during my last visit; but the following squib from an American paper represents the change of opinion which has taken place of late years in regard to this once popular form of entertainment,—a change Transatlantic cousins do not hesitate to ascribe to the introduction of English lecturers: "Many persons, in addition to denying themselves their usual luxuries, believe in self-immolation, and compel themselves to suffer as many inflictions as possible.  For this class a lecture course is provided."


 
CHAPTER VII.


The Quaker city—Changes in society—School of Young Lady Potters—New Century Club—The Mint, and women employed in it—Theatres and English artists—Silk culture—Mr. George W. Childs, the Ledger, and his work-people—Wootton—Original manuscripts and autographs—Walt Whitman: his views on New York, Boston, Washington, and the West—Mrs. Hannah Smith and the Temperance Union—Coffee-houses.


THE "Quaker city" may certainly pride itself on being one of the finest in the States, but the Philadelphians, though they glory in their historical relics, are just now sweeping away many of their picturesque houses, and replacing them with some glaring new red brick and marble blocks, which certainly do not represent the highest type of architectural beauty.  The Slate Roof House, with its traditions of Penn, has gone within the last few years, and the Franklin Library has been upholstered in the newest fashion, and now the house in which Jefferson was supposed to have written the Declaration is being destroyed.  A change, too, has come over "society."  Once this was the city in which family antecedents were prized most highly, but now wealth has fought its way, and even the exclusive Assembly Balls have changed their character.  The very names of some of the streets have been altered, though the principal ones still bear the titles bestowed by the founder of the city, Walnut Street, Chestnut Street, Vine Street, Mulberry Street, etc., taking their names from the abundance of the trees which used to flourish in them.

    But in spite of all changes Philadelphia retains a very high position, and many of the innovations which are to be met with daily in cities like New York and Baltimore are not tolerated here.  For instance, "society ladies" do not attempt to paint their faces and improve their natural charms, after the fashion set by many of their sisters in other places.  A leading doctor in Philadelphia told me that a Baltimore lady who was staying here lately attempted to walk down Chestnut Street as she did at home, but found herself subjected to comments which were far from pleasant, and was obliged to abandon the rouge which she could indulge in freely elsewhere, as she was fortunately unwilling to place herself in a mistaken position.  The Quaker leaven still works with good results, though many old customs have been laid aside with the slate-coloured bonnets, cloaks, and old-fashioned prejudices.  A healthy spirit of activity and desire for mental culture prevails, and the Philadelphia ladies are first and foremost in all good works.

    A most interesting sight can be obtained by a visit to the School of Young Lady Potters, which is just now affording an admirable outlet for artistic tendencies.  There you find a number of bright-looking girls, in appropriate costumes of long-sleeved gingham aprons, modelling church cornices or capitals for pillars, in the first place, then advancing to the full-length figure.  Here also the students are taught the chemistry of colours and anatomy, and find not only a delightful occupation, but a very remunerative one.

    The ladies, too, have founded an excellent club, which under the name of "The New Century Club," not only affords a pleasant place for social gatherings and entertainments, but supplies a centre for all interested in women's work and welfare.  Directly I arrived "The New Century Club" gave me a delightful reception, at which I met most of the representative women in Philadelphia—doctors, chemists, teachers, students, artists, journalists, and wealthy ladies who are interested in all that belongs to social progress.

    Valuable practical work goes on in connection with this Club, which doubtless lies at the bottom of its success.  Various committees have been formed for helping those who need advice and aid.  For example, an association is at work for the "Legal Protection of Working Women," which gives clearer ideas to those engaged in toil of the legal character of contracts, and helps them to a proper conception of business relations—undertakes to look into disputes, and to protect its members in cases of difficulty.  Nor is the art of cooking neglected, though music, literary work, etc., come within the scope of the Club's labours.  The fifth year of its existence has just come to an end, and in spite of its having improved quarters, it can close its report with the satisfactory statement of "no debts" but cash in hand.

    I spent a very interesting morning in the Mint, the superintendent, Colonel Snowden, kindly enabling our party to see the entire process under specially favourable circumstances.  We first inspected the Deposit Weighing Room, where all the precious metals are received and weighed; then we were admitted to the vault with its double iron doors defying the burglar's art, in which are kept the bars of gold and silver and the plate which is sent to be converted into coin by those who need to part with their treasures for the necessaries of life, and we listened to some sad stories from the chief official in this department about the destitute ladies who come to sell their precious relics, showing that life goes as hardly with the women of this country sometimes as it does at home.  Then came the Melting Room with its fiery furnaces, and the Rooms of the Refiners, who cast the metals into ingots or small bars, and the Rolling Room; but the process which interested me most was naturally the Adjusting Room, in which seventy-five women sat before sensitive adjusting assay scales, in leather aprons, one end tacked to the table and fastened under their arms to catch any gold that might fall.  Each operator has a fine flat file, and takes a planchet from a pile by her side and puts it in the scales.  The work, though monotonous, looked easy, but much skill, I was told, is required in filing the coin to prevent waste or error.  A number of women were also in the Coining Room, in which were several coining presses, coining from 80 to 120 coins a minute.  The ladies employed in the Mint are well cared for in many directions, but their rate of payment can not be considered very high for a Government office, as it only amounts to a dollar and a half a day.

    A great excitement has been caused here recently by the arrest of some miscreants who were stealing bodies from Lebanon Cemetery for dissection at Jefferson Medical College.  It appears that the horrible system of "body-snatching" is still being kept up, and three doctors have been implicated and indicted through the action of the Philadelphia Press, which has determined to put a stop to this ghastly business.

    Until this year (1883) theatrical ventures have never been very successful in this city; but during this season a decided change has set in, and all the theatres have flourished.  Mrs. Langtry has attracted the largest audiences ever known, in spite of the most cruelly severe newspaper criticisms I ever read on her private character and capabilities as an actress, though it must, of course, be acknowledged that she challenged observation in both directions.  A year later I found Mr. Irving and Mr. Wyndham were dividing the theatrical honours of Philadelphia between them, one being the novelty of the season, the other an established favourite throughout the States.  It seemed quite strange to see so many familiar English faces dotted about the hotel dining-room, and the eager interchange of English newspapers was quite a feature of a "trip" in the elevator, in which some member of the English contingent was sure to be found between ten A.M. and six o'clock.  Mr. Wyndham added not a little to the pleasant week we spent at the Continental Hotel by sundry pleasant breakfasts and dinners.

    I was very pleased with the success achieved by the Women's Silk Culture Association; after nearly three years' work it seems to have established itself on a permanent basis, and executes large orders for the reeling of silk from the cocoon.  Many pupils have attended the school and been taught the process of hatching silkworm eggs and rearing insects, and then they have gone into other cities to introduce the new enterprise, which promises to prove an important source of remunerative occupation in the United States.  At first the Association commenced without a properly constructed reel, but one has now been constructed of cast-iron, which produces excellent results, running off four skeins of silk at one time the process only needing careful attention, and being easily acquired.  Every energy is employed to develop this industry by the planting of mulberry-trees, and great attention has been given to the value of Osage orange leaves as food for silkworms; and as these trees abound in this country there is no necessity for deferring the raising of the silkworm on account of food.  An interesting experiment was made lately in this direction.  Mrs. Van Dusen presented the Association with eighteen ounces of cocoons raised on Osage orange leaves, which were reeled into six and a half ounces of silk, and Rossmasster and Itschner, the well-known Philadelphia silk manufacturers, dyed it a beautiful crimson; and the ribbon made from this silk was pronounced most satisfactory.  Young ladies are specially urged to learn the reeling, on the ground that it belongs to the fine arts; and certainly many in Philadelphia are thus able to support themselves, and I was told of one who had started for Florida in order to establish a school there, a relative having purchased land and planted trees while she was studying in this excellent institution in Chestnut Street.  The recent exhibition has given a great impetus to the work, the whole process of silk culture having been shown, from the egg, the tiny worm, the cocoon, to the reeling and weaving of the beautiful fabric.

    Many of my pleasant recollections of Philadelphia are due to the unfailing courtesy of Mr. George W. Childs, the proprietor of the Ledger, who invariably entertains with princely hospitality the passing traveller.  Mr. Childs is naturally proud of the fact that he started in life without a dollar, and with no friends but his own untiring industry and stout heart.  Today he is one of the millionaires of America, and few have forwarded public enterprises or aided private charities with a more liberal hand.

    The Ledger, a prosperous commercial journal, universally respected, is published in a splendid printing office, built at a cost of half a million of dollars.  Outside, at each corner, is a marble fountain, which furnishes water to the thirsty wayfarer; within are not only well-ventilated rooms, but baths have been built in different parts of the office, which are much prized by the printers.  Everything moves like clockwork, the division of labour, from the "printer's devil" to the editor, being the result of the same masterly discrimination which enabled the owner to amass his own enormous fortune.  I was greatly interested in Mr. Childs's plans for placing life insurances within the reach of his employees, and the small houses and gardens his arrangements enable them to purchase for themselves, and finally their interest in a "burial lot" which he has provided for the time when life's fitful fever is o'er.

    Before Mr. Childs owned the Ledger it often contained the feeble, heartless jokes usually indulged in at the expense of women in general, and old maids and mothers-in-law in particular.  It is his boast that never since the day it passed into his hands has a single innuendo even against a woman ever appeared in it.

    Mr. and Mrs. Childs spend a great part of the year at their lovely country-place, "Wootton"; to this is attached a model farm, a source of special interest to Mrs. Childs, who herself supplied the plans of some of the farm-buildings, thus securing a special kind of rural architecture which she thought best suited to their surroundings.  The town residence in Walnut Street is full of Art treasures of all kinds.  Original manuscripts of books by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bryant, Lowell, Edgar A. Poe, James Fenimore Cooper, Bulwer's Pilgrim's of the Rhine, Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, and many others.  Here, too, is Lord Byron's writing-desk, and many rare and valuable relics, together with autograph letters from most of the distinguished men and women of the age.

    Although I knew Walt Whitman was living near Philadelphia, I was scarcely prepared to find him the cherished guest in a Quaker family of the strictest total abstinence and anti-tobacco persuasion, or as the loved centre of a group of admiring girls just fresh from college; and yet that was the manner of my introduction to the strange poet who has shocked the susceptibilities of the English-speaking race by the freedom with which he has glorified the body and all that appertains to man's physical life.  I shall, however, never forget the delightful hours spent in the society of this most eccentric genius.  I fancy Wait Whitman must resemble Socrates, with his grand, massive head, his flowing white hair and shaggy beard, his open, Byronic collar adding to his weird but venerable appearance.  He certainly follows the ancient philosopher's lead by starting grave discussions, which are by no means treated from a surface point of view, and in which every one present is expected to take a fair share.  His young disciples, on the occasion in question, were nothing loth to contribute their quota.  Young America does not sit at the master's feet and worship; it has definite opinions, which it deems as much deserving of hearing as other people's, and it gives them forth with the bold confidence born of youthful inexperience and immaturity.  Many were the topics which arose that day during the prolonged dinner, and the able arguments pro and con., one of the most brilliant contributors being Dr. Buck, the head of the Canadian State Insane Asylum; the subjects ranged from ancient and modern religion, the morality of the old gods, to the battle now raging in the States respecting co-education.

    Walt Whitman was also very anxious to impress upon me that the grand receptions tendered in all large cities to distinguished English visitors failed to give any idea of the "purport" of this grand Republic.  In Europe, he admitted, the best flavour and significance of the race may be looked for in its upper classes; here, he declares, the rule is reversed, and the "pulse-beats of the nation are never to be found in the sure-to-be-put-forward-on-such-occasions-citizens!"  In fact, what passes current as "society" is to him "dangerously noisome and vapoury," while inexhaustible supplies of true gold ore can be found in "America's general humanity."  New York, perhaps, promises something out of her tremendous and varied material; but Boston, "with its bloodless Unitarianism and its circle of mummies, its complacent vanity of scientism and literature, mere grammatical correctness"—poor Boston gives Mr. Walt Whitman no satisfaction whatever.  "And look at Washington," he cried; "it is full of a sort of high life below stairs.  No farce can be funnier than the crowds bowing before our Presidents and their wives, the Cabinet officers and Senators—our representatives born of good labouring, mechanic, or farm stock antecedents attempting full-dress receptions, foreign ceremonies and etiquettes—it is ridiculous!"  He was, however, somewhat quieted in his mind as to the chances I had of coming to some right conclusion about his country when he heard that my programme included visits to Colorado, Texas, and California.  He told me he was contemplating the publication of a poem as a companion to "Leaves of Grass," based upon the experiences of old age.  Dr. Buck is one of Walt Whitman's most ardent followers, and certainly there is a personal magnetism about this rugged bard which makes itself felt; and though he is sprung from what we may term "the people," he is certainly a cultured man.  Walt Whitman is a deep thinker and an able talker; but surely his truest friends must regret that he did not accept Emerson's advice, and use the pruning-knife freely before publishing his "Leaves of Grass."

    No one can fully appreciate a cold or bronchial attack until he has indulged in what America furnishes in this pleasing direction.  It can be safely backed for severity and tenacity against our puny English attempts.  For some time I was obliged to avoid night air, and was therefore unable to be present at a charming entertainment Mr. and Mrs. Bellangee Cox gave at the Aldine Hotel to Lord and Lady Bury, who were then travelling through the country on a combined pleasure and business trip—the latter having reference to certain railway interests in which Lord Bury and Mr. McHenry consider themselves badly used.

    Philadelphia is a stronghold of the Woman's Temperance Union.  The president, Mrs. Hannah Smith, is a splendid woman, and keeps the great organization under her control in thorough activity and order.  The total abstainers here are rigid in their condemnation of the use of alcohol, and regard its use at the Holy Communion as utterly unjustifiable.  The following incident may be cited in proof of this: A coffee-house was opened, and "an all-day prayer-meeting" was the ceremony decided on to celebrate the day.  Ministers of various denominations were invited to lead the exercises at different hours.  During the evening a Presbyterian joined the worshippers, against whom a prejudice is entertained in extreme circles, because he still uses wine when administering the Sacrament in his own church.  He delivered an eloquent prayer on the curse of drink, and when he concluded a Quaker lady rose with "a message from the Lord," which also took the form of a prayer, in which she fervently pleaded that the minister might cease to dishonour God "by making the Lord's house smell like a grog-shop by placing on the Lord's table the produce thereof."  This will give some idea of the feeling entertained respecting the use of wine under the most sacred circumstances.  But "the drink question" is undoubtedly forced upon all here who value health and sobriety, in a way it is hard for any English person to realize who has not travelled through the States.  Moderation seems a difficult, if not an unknown virtue in this direction, people are either extreme abstainers or hard drinkers.  The light wines which with us have supplanted the fiery sherries and full-bodied ports of our ancestors, are only used by Americans whose tastes have been cultivated by foreign travel; they would not be appreciated by the general palate, and their cost is too high to admit of their general use.  Consequently, in the best hotels you see people daily sitting down to a somewhat extensive dinner, but drinking with it only iced water, milk, or the weakest of tea.  After dinner, unhappily, many of the gentlemen visit the whisky bar, and, as the exhilarating nature of this climate renders spirit-drinking more deadly than it is in England, no one who values the welfare of others can be indifferent to the terrible evils which spring from it.  The only question is—the best way to correct them.  "Shut up the theatres, they are the hotbeds of vice," was the cry of the old bigoted Puritan; but we are now beginning to see that the Church and the Stage can work together for the moral elevation of the people, and it may be that the introduction of light wines in the place of these intoxicating ardent spirits might be really more useful than the bitter condemnation of all who do not join the ranks of the total abstinence party.

    The tropical warmth with which the liquor question is sometimes discussed, has just given rise to a curious case of libel.  The druggists have often been accused of dispensing "poison," and, with curious significance, they are the sole dispensers of alcohol in many parts of America.  A minister in Oberlin, Ohio, lately attacked in the course of his sermon a druggist who was known to sell rum for "medicinal purposes," and said that when his guilty spirit approached the gates of hell the shrieks of those he had destroyed should pierce his ears "with hell's first welcome."  The use of such intemperate language is greatly to be regretted, especially in the pulpit.  But many ministers, from the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher downwards, indulge in utterances which strike the English ear as peculiar.  American preachers, as a rule, however, bring something more than the dry husks of a dead theology into the pulpit; they do not, perhaps, "vex the dull ear of drowsy men" as often as some of their British brethren.  If they "vex" them, it is more likely to be after the fashion of a minister in Hebron, who was so indignant with his congregation for their apathy, that, I was told, he called them at a recent prayer-meeting "blockheads," and complained that there was no more expression in their faces than in "so many wooden heads"!  Since this occurrence, I hear, "apathy" has given place to a remarkably critical and attentive attitude, which is rendering the reverend gentleman extremely uncomfortable.

    The preacher was doubtless only experiencing what many speakers and actors feel before an unresponsive audience.  Mdlle. Rhea, when acting at Utica, complained that the audience was as undemonstrative and cold as Arctic ice.  "How can I warm this assemblage?" she asked in despair; "it chills me; it seems as if I were playing to people far away.  Nothing but dynamite will stir such a house!"

    Perhaps this coldness may account for the introduction of some startling and unseeming novelties into reform meetings of a serious character.  They are certainly calculated to arouse attention and evoke response.  For instance, at a temperance meeting held in New York one Sunday afternoon in March, an actor was introduced to give a representation of three stages of drunkenness and delirium tremens.  I regret to hear this "created enthusiasm."  Such an exhibition is quite as distasteful to earnest workers in the temperance cause there, as a recent meeting of "saved drunkards" in Exeter Hall proved to refined people here.  All kinds of sensational stories were detailed by the various speakers.  One credited himself with every crime but murder" with evident satisfaction.  A Devonshire girl described with undisguised gusto the life she had led before she joined the Salvation Army; then followed speeches from people who gave their names as "Old Whisky," "The Tramp," "The Black Bishop," and the "Cockney Brandy-drinker,"—all describing themselves as thieves, drunkards, wife-beaters, and guilty of other criminal offences.  Such revolting exhibitions can only injure the cause they are supposed to aid, and should be discouraged in both countries.

    Miss Frances Willard is one of the foremost and best temperance advocates in America, and devotes her entire life in support of what she regards "as the most vital question of the day."

    Well-organized coffee-houses are essential aids to the temperance movement, but they must rival the gin-palace in brilliancy, warmth, and attraction.  The artisan requires a place where he is sure to find good substitutes for the alcohol he is advised to relinquish; he wants cheerful rooms and pleasant company; help, not dictation or patronage, from people who are richer and more cultured than himself, and he is entitled to a fair choice of healthy recreations.  The stagnation from which he suffers only needs to be stirred by a vigorous, judicious hand, and healthy growths will soon make their appearance.  Those who try to provide good amusements for the working classes, and cultivate a greater taste for music, art, and literature, will more effectually empty the drinking saloons than any prohibition or Act of Parliament.  To warn people against dangerous indulgences is but to advertise them; the reformer's true wisdom lies in offering something which shall compete in the open market with such seductive pleasures, and thus to win his fellow-creatures from drinking, gambling, debasing spectacles and cruel sports.




 


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