HEROINES OF SERVICE
[Illustration: Mary Lyon]
HEROINES OF SERVICE
MARY LYON -- ALICE FREEMAN PALMER -- CLARA BARTON -- FRANCES WILLARD -- JULIA WARD HOWE -- ANNA SHAW -- MARY ANTIN ALICE C. FLETCHER -- MARY SLESSOR OF CALABAR -- MADAME CURIE JANE ADDAMS
MARY R. PARKMAN
Author of "Heroes of Today," etc.
ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO. 1921
Copyright, 1916, 1917, by THE CENTURY CO.
_Published September, 1917 Reprinted April, 1918; Reprinted August, 1918._
PRINTED IN U. S. A.
TO MY MOTHER
AND ALL WHO, LIKE HER, ARE TRUE MOTHERS, AND SO, TRUE "HEROINES OF SERVICE."
From time immemorial women have been content to be as those who serve. _Non ministrari sed ministrare_--not to be ministered unto but to minister--is not alone the motto of those who stand under the Wellesley banner, but of true women everywhere.
For centuries a woman's own home had not only first claim, but full claim, on her fostering care. Her interests and sympathies--her mother love--belonged only to those of her own household. In the days when much of the labor of providing food and clothing was carried on under each roof-tree, her service was necessarily circumscribed by the home walls. Whether she was the lady of a baronial castle, or a hardy peasant who looked upon her work within doors as a rest from her heavier toil in the fields, the mother of the family was not only responsible for the care of her children and the prudent management of her housekeeping, but she had also entire charge of the manufacture of clothing, from the spinning of the flax or wool to the fashioning of the woven cloth into suitable garments.
Changed days have come, however, with changed ways. The development of science and invention, which has led to industrial progress and specialization, has radically changed the woman's world of the home. The industries once carried on there are now more efficiently handled in large factories and packing-houses. The care of the house itself is undertaken by specialists in cleaning and repairing.
Many women, whose energies would have been, under former conditions, inevitably monopolized by home-keeping duties, are to-day giving their strength and special gifts to social service. They are the true mothers--not only of their own little brood--but of the community and the world.
The service of the true woman is always "womanly." She gives something of the fostering care of the mother, whether it be as nurse, like Clara Barton; as teacher, like Mary Lyon and Alice Freeman Palmer; or as social helper, like Jane Addams. So it is that the service of these "heroines" is that which only women could have given to the world.
Many women who have never held children of their own in their arms have been mothers to many in their work. It was surely the mother heart of Frances E. Willard that made our "maiden crusader" a helper and healer, as well as a standard bearer. It was the mother heart of Alice C. Fletcher, that made that student of the past a champion of the Indians in their present-day problems and a true "campfire interpreter." It was the woman's tenderness that made Mary Slessor, that torch-bearer to Darkest Africa, the "white mother" of all the black people she taught and served.
The Russian peasants have a proverb: "Labor is the house that Love lives in." The women, who, as mothers of their own families, or of other children whose needs cry out for their understanding care, are always homemakers. And the work of each of these--her labor of love--is truly "a house that love lives in."
I MARY LYON 3
II ALICE FREEMAN PALMER 31
III CLARA BARTON 61
IV FRANCES E. WILLARD 89
V JULIA WARD HOWE 119
VI ANNA HOWARD SHAW 151
VII MARY ANTIN 185
VIII ALICE C. FLETCHER 211
IX MARY SLESSOR 235
X MARIE SKLODOWSKA CURIE 267
XI JANE ADDAMS 297
Mary Lyon _Frontispiece_
Mary Lyon Chapel and Administration Hall 17
Alice Freeman Palmer 36
College Hall, Destroyed by Fire in 1914 53
Tower Court, which Stands on the Site of College Hall 53
Clara Barton 79
Frances E. Willard 94
The Statue of Miss Willard in the Capitol at Washington 103
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe 133
Anna Howard Shaw 167
Mary Antin 201
Alice C. Fletcher 227
Mary Slessor 253
Marie Sklodowska Curie 280
Madame and Dr. Curie and Their Little Daughter Irene 289
Jane Addams 299
Polk Street Façade of Hull-House Buildings 309
A Corner of the Boys' Library at Hull House 309
PROPHET AND PIONEER: MARY LYON
Anything that ought to be done can be done.
HEROINES OF SERVICE
PROPHET AND PIONEER
"What is my little Mistress Mary trying to do?" The whir of the spinning-wheel was stilled for a moment as Mrs. Lyon glanced in surprise at the child who had climbed up on a chair to look more closely at the hourglass on the chimneypiece.
"I am just trying to see if I can find the way to make more time," replied Mary.
"That's not the way, daughter," laughed the busy mother, as she started her wheel again. "When you stop to watch time, you lose it. Let your work slip from your fingers faster than the sand slips--that's the way to make time!"
If busy hands can indeed make time, we know why the days were so full of happy work in that little farm-house among the hills of western Massachusetts. It takes courage and ceaseless toil to run a farm that must provide food and clothing for seven growing children, but Mrs. Lyon was never too busy or too tired to help a neighbor or to speak a word of cheer.
"How is it that the widow can do more for me than any one else?" asked a neighbor who had found her a friend in need. "She reminds me of what the Bible says, 'having nothing yet possessing all things.' There she is left without a husband to fend for her and the children, so that it's work, work, work for them all from morning till night, and yet they're always happy. You would think the children liked nothing better than doing chores."
"How is it that the harder a thing is the more you seem to like it, Mary?" asked her seat-mate in the district school, looking wonderingly at the girl whose eyes always brightened and snapped when the arithmetic problems were long and hard.
"Oh, it's lots more fun _climbing_ than just going along on the level," replied Mary. "You feel so much more alive. I'll tell you what to do when a thing seems hard, like a steep, steep hill, you know. Say to yourself: 'Some people may call you Difficulty, old hill; but I know that your name is Opportunity. You're here just to prove that I can do something worth while.' Then the climbing is the best fun--really!"
It is a happy thing to be born among the hills. Wherever one looks there is something to whisper: "There is no joy like climbing. Besides, the sun stays longer on the summit, and beyond the hill-tops is a larger, brighter world." Perhaps it was the fresh breath of the hills that gave Mary Lyon her glowing cheeks, as the joy of climbing brought the dancing lights into her clear blue eyes.
The changing seasons march over the hills in a glorious pageant of color, from the tender veiling green of young April to the purple mists and red-and-gold splendor of Indian summer. Every day had the thrill of new adventure to Mary Lyon, but perhaps she loved the mellow October days best. "They have all the glowing memory of the past summer and the promise of the spring to come," she used to say.
How could one who had, through the weeks of growing things, worked together with rain and sunshine and generous earth for the harvest but feel the happy possession of all the year at the time when she saw bins overflowing with brown potatoes, yellow corn, and other gifts of fields and orchard? She could never doubt that, given the waiting earth and faithful labor, the harvest was sure. Duties and difficulties were always opportunities for higher endeavor and happier achievement.
There was no play in Mary Lyon's childhood except the play that a healthy, active child may find in varied, healthful work done with a light heart. There was joy in rising before the sun was up, to pick weeds in the dewy garden, to feed the patient creatures in the barn, and to make butter in the cool spring-house. Sometimes one could meet the sunrise on the hill-top, when it happened to be one's turn to bring wood to the dwindling pile by the kitchen door. Then there was the baking--golden-brown loaves of bread and tempting apple pies. When the morning mists had quite disappeared from the face of the hills, the blue smoke had ceased to rise from the chimney of the little farm-house. Then was the time to sit beside Mother and knit or weave, sew or mend, the garments that were homemade, beginning with the moment when the wool, sheared from their own sheep, was carded and spun into thread. For holidays, there were the exciting mornings when they made soap and candles, or the afternoons when they gathered together in the barn for a husking-bee.
Beauty walked with Toil, however, about that farm in the hills. Mary had time to lift up her eyes to the glory of the changing sky and to tend the pinks and peonies that throve nowhere so happily as in her mother's old-fashioned garden.
"May I plant this bush in the corner with your roses?" asked a neighbor one day. "It is a rare plant of rare virtue, and I know that in your garden it cannot die."
As the labor of her hands prospered, as her garden posies blossomed, so the wings of Mary Lyon's spirit grew. No matter how shut in the present seemed, no hope nor dream for the future died in her heart as the days went by.
Her plans only took deeper and deeper root as she worked and waited patiently for the time of flowers and fruit. There were few books to be had, but these yielded her of their best. There was opportunity for but few scattered terms in distant district schools, but she learned there more than the teachers taught.
"Anything is interesting when you realize that it is important," she used to say. And to Mary everything was important that was real. She learned not only from books, but from work, from people, from Nature, and from every bit of stray circumstance that came her way. It is said that when the first brick house was built in the village she made a point of learning how to make bricks, turning them up, piling them on the wheelbarrow, and putting them in the kiln. She was always hungry to know and to do, and the harder a thing was the more she seemed to like it. Climbing was ever more fun than trudging along on the level.
The years brought changes to the home farm. The older sisters married and went to homes of their own. When Mary was thirteen her mother married again and went away with the younger children, leaving her to keep house for the only brother, who had from early childhood been her best comrade. The dollar a week given her for her work was saved to pay for a term in the neighboring academy. She also taught in a district school for a while, receiving seventy-five cents a week and board.
The nineteen-year-old girl who appeared one day at the Ashfield Academy somehow drew all eyes to her. Her blue homespun dress, with running-strings at neck and waist, was queer and shapeless, even judged by village standards in the New England of 1817. Her movements were impulsive and ungainly and her gait awkward. But it was not the crudity, but the power, of the new-comer that impressed people. Squire White's gentle daughter, the slender, graceful Amanda, gave the loyalty of her best friendship to this interesting and enthusiastic schoolmate from the hill farm.
"She is more alive than any one I know, Father," said the girl, in explanation of her preference. "You never see her odd dress and sudden ways when once you have looked into her face and talked to her. Her face seems lighted from within--it isn't just her bright color and red-gold curls; it isn't even her merry laugh. I can't explain what I mean, but it seems as if her life touches mine--and it's such a big, warm, beautiful life!"
The traditions of this New England village long kept the memory of her first recitation. On Friday she had been given the first lesson of Adams's Latin Grammar to commit to memory. When she was called up early Monday afternoon, she began to recite fluently declensions and conjugations without pause, until, as the daylight waned, the whole of the Latin grammar passed in review before the speechless teacher and dazzled, admiring pupils.
"How did you ever do it? How could your head hold it all?" demanded Amanda, with a gasp, as they walked home together.
"Well, really, I'll have to own up," said Mary, with some reluctance, "I studied all day Sunday! It wasn't so very hard, though. I soon saw where the changes in the conjugations came in, and the rules of syntax are very much like English grammar."
Studying was never hard work to Mary, because she could at a moment's notice put all her attention on the thing at hand. Her busy childhood had taught her to attack a task at once, while others were frequently spending their time thinking and talking about doing it.
"No one could study like Mary Lyon, and no one could clean the school-room with such despatch," said one of her classmates.
It seemed as if she never knew what it was to be tired. She appeared to have a boundless store of strength and enthusiasm, as if, through all her growing years, she had made over into the very fiber of her being the energy of the life-giving sunshine and the patience of the enduring hills. Time must be used wisely when all one's little hoard of savings will only pay for the tuition of one precious term. Her board was paid with two coverlets, spun, dyed, and woven by her own hands.
"They should prove satisfactory covers," she said merrily, "for they have covered all my needs."
On the day when she thought she must bid farewell to Ashfield Academy the trustees voted her free tuition, a gift which, as pupil-teacher, she did her best to repay. The hospitable doors of Squire White's dignified residence were thrown open to his daughter's chosen friend, and in this second home she readily absorbed the ways of gracious living--the niceties and refinements of dress and manners for which there had been no time in the busy farm-house.
When the course at the academy was completed, the power of her eager spirit and evident gifts led Squire White to offer her the means to go with his daughter to Byfield Seminary near Boston, the school conducted by Mr. Joseph Emerson, who believed that young women, no less than their brothers, should have an opportunity for higher instruction. In those days before colleges for women or normal schools, he dreamed of doing something towards giving worthy preparation to future teachers. It was through the teaching and inspiration of this cultured Harvard scholar and large-hearted man that Mary Lyon learned to know the meaning of life, and to understand aright the longings of her own soul. Years afterward she said: "In my youth I had much vigor--was always aspiring after something. I called it longing to study, but had few to direct me. One teacher I shall always remember. He taught me that education was to fit one to do good."
On leaving Byfield Seminary, Miss Lyon began her life-work of teaching. But with all her preparation for doing and her intense desire to do, she did not at first succeed. The matter of control was not easy to one who would not stoop to rigid mechanical means and who said, "One has not governed a child until she makes the child smile under her government." Besides, her sense of humor--later one of her chief assets--seemed at first to get in the way of her gaining a steady hold on the reins.
When she was tempted to give up in discouragement, she said to herself: "I know that good teachers are needed, and that I ought to teach. 'All that ought to be done can be done.'"
To one who worked earnestly in that spirit, success was sure. Five years later, two towns were vying with each other to secure her as a teacher in their academies for young ladies. For some time she taught at Derry, New Hampshire, during the warm months, going to her beloved Ashfield for the winter term. Wherever she was she drew pupils from the surrounding towns and even from beyond the borders of the State. Teachers left their schools to gather about her. She had the power to communicate something of her own enthusiasm and vitality. Bright eyes and alert faces testified to her power to quicken thought and to create an appetite for knowledge.
"Her memory has been to me continually an inspiration to overcome difficulties," said one of her pupils.
"You were the first friend who ever pointed out to me defects of character with the expectation that they would be removed," another pupil wrote in a letter of heartfelt gratitude.
At this time all the schools for girls, like the Ashfield Academy and Mr. Emerson's seminary at Byfield, were entirely dependent upon the enterprise and ideals of individuals. There were no colleges with buildings and equipment, such as furnished dormitories, libraries, and laboratories, belonging to the work and the future. In the case of the most successful schools there was no guarantee that they would endure beyond the lifetime of those whose interest had called them into being.
Miss Lyon taught happily for several years, often buying books of reference and material for practical illustration out of her salary of five or six dollars a week. The chance for personal influence seemed the one essential. "Never mind the brick and mortar!" she cried. "Only let us have the living minds to work upon!"
As experience came with the years, however, as she saw schools where a hundred young women were crowded into one room without black-boards, globes, maps, and other necessaries of instruction--she realized that something must be done to secure higher schools for girls, that would have the requisite material equipment for the present and security for the future. "We must provide a college for young women on the same conditions as those for men, with publicly owned buildings and fixed standards of work," she said.
This idea could appeal to most people of that day only as a strange, extravagant, and dangerous notion. Harvard and Yale existed to prepare men to be ministers, doctors, and lawyers. Did women expect to thrust themselves into the professions? Why should they want the learning of men? It could do nothing but make them unfit for their proper life in the home. Who had ever heard of a college for girls! What is unheard of is to most people manifestly absurd.
To Mary Lyon, however, difficulties were opportunities for truer effort and greater service. She had, besides, a faith in a higher power--in a Divine Builder of "houses not made with hands"--which led her to say with unshaken confidence, "'All that ought to be done can be done!'"
[Illustration: Mary Lyon chapel and administration hall]
It was as if she were able to look into the future and see the way time would sift the works of the present. Those who looked into her earnest blue eyes, bright with courage, deep with understanding, could not but feel that she had the prophet's vision. It was as if she had power to divine the difference between the difficult and the impossible, and, knowing that, her faith in the happy outcome of her work was founded on a rock.
It took this faith and hope, together with an unfailing charity for the lack of vision in others and an ever-present sense of humor, to carry Mary Lyon through the task to which she now set herself. She was determined to open people's eyes to the need of giving girls a chance for a training that would fit them for more useful living by making them better teachers, wiser home-makers, and, in their own right, happier human beings. She must not only convince the conservative men and women of her day that education could do these things, but she must make that conviction so strong that they would be willing to give of their hard-earned substance to help along the good work.
Those were not the days of large fortunes. Miss Lyon could not depend upon winning the interest of a few powerful benefactors. She must enlist the support of the many who would be willing to share their little. She must perforce have the hardihood of the pioneer, no less than the vision of the seer, to enable her to meet the problems, trials, and rebuffs of the next few years.
"I learned twenty years ago not to get out of patience," she once said to some one who marveled at the unwearied good-humor with which she met the most exasperating circumstances.
First enlisting the assistance of a few earnest men to serve as trustees and promoters of the cause, she, herself, traveled from town to town, from village to village, and from house to house, telling over and over again the story of the Mount Holyoke to be, and what it was to mean to the daughters of New England. For the site in South Hadley, Massachusetts, had been early selected, and the name of the neighboring height, overlooking the Connecticut River, chosen by the girl who was born in the hills and who believed that it was good to climb.
"I wander about without a home," she wrote to her mother, "and scarcely know one week where I shall be the next."
All of her journeying was by stage, for at that time the only railroad in New England was the one, not yet completed, connecting Boston with Worcester and Lowell. To those who feared that even her robust health and radiant spirit could not long endure the strain of such a life, she said: "Our personal comforts are delightful, but not essential. Mount Holyoke means more than meat and sleep. Had I a thousand lives, I would sacrifice them all in suffering and hardship for its sake."
During these years Miss Lyon abundantly proved that the pioneer does not live by bread alone. Only by the vision of what his struggles will mean to those who come after to profit by his labors is his zeal fed. It seemed at the time when Mount Holyoke was only a dream of what might be, and in the anxious days of breaking ground which followed, that Miss Lyon's faith that difficulties are only opportunities in disguise was tried to the utmost. Just when her enthusiasm was arousing in the frugal, thrifty New Englanders a desire to give, out of their slender savings, a great financial panic swept over the country.
Miss Lyon's friends shook their heads. "You will have to wait for better times," they said. "It is impossible to go on with the undertaking now."
"When a thing ought to be done, it cannot be impossible," replied Miss Lyon. "_Now_ is the only word that belongs to us; with the afterwhile we have nothing to do."
In that spirit she went on, and in that spirit girls who had been her pupils gave of their little stipends earned by teaching, and the mothers of girls gave of the money earned by selling eggs and braiding palm-leaf hats.
"Don't think any gift too small," said Miss Lyon. "I want the twenties and the fifties, but the dollars and the half-dollars, with prayer, go a long way."
So Mount Holyoke was built on faith and prayer and the gifts of the many who believed that the time cried out for a means of educating girls who longed for a better training. One hard-working farmer with five sons to educate gave a hundred dollars. "I have no daughters of my own," he said, "but I want to help give the daughters of America the chance they should have along with the boys." Two delicate gentlewomen who had lost their little property in the panic, earned with their own hands the money they had pledged to the college.
Even Miss Lyon's splendid optimism had, however, some chill encounters with smallmindedness in people who were not seldom those of large opportunities. Once when she had journeyed a considerable distance to lay her plans before a family of wealth and influence in the community, she returned to her friends with a shade of thought on her cheerful brow. "Yes, it is all true, just as I was told," she said as if to herself. "They live in a costly house, it is full of costly things, they wear costly clothes--but oh, they're _little bits of folks_!"
Miss Lyon, herself, gave to the work not only her entire capital of physical strength and her gifts of heart and mind, but also her small savings, which had been somewhat increased by Mr. White's prudent investments. And for the future she offered her services on the same conditions as those of the missionary--the means of simple livelihood and the joy of the work.
"Mount Holyoke is designed to cultivate the missionary spirit among its pupils," declared an early circular, "that they may live for God _and do something_."
Always Miss Lyon emphasized the ideal of an education that should be a training for service. To this end she decided upon the expedient of coöperative housework to reduce running expenses, to develop responsibility, and to provide healthful physical exercise. Long before the day of gymnasiums and active sports, this educator recognized the need of balanced development of physical as well as mental habits.
"We need to introduce wise and healthy ideals not only into our minds, but into our muscles," she said. "Besides, there is no discipline so valuable as that which comes from fitting our labors into the work of others for a common good."
One difficulty after another was met and vanquished. When the digging for the foundation of the first building was actually under way, quicksand was discovered and another location had to be chosen. Then it appeared that the bricks were faulty, which led to another delay. After the work was resumed and all was apparently going well, the walls suddenly collapsed. "Then," said the man in charge, "I did dread to see Miss Lyon. Now, thought I, she will be discouraged."
As he hurried towards the ruins, however, whom should he meet but Miss Lyon herself, smiling radiantly! "How fortunate it is that it happened while the men were at breakfast!" she exclaimed. "I understand that no one has been injured!"
The corner-stone was laid on a bright October day that seemed to have turned all the gray chill of the dying year into a golden promise of budding life after the time of frost.
"The stones and brick and mortar speak a language which vibrates through my soul," said Miss Lyon. "I have indeed lived to see the time when a body of gentlemen have ventured to lay the corner-stone of an edifice which will cost about fifteen thousand dollars--and for an institution for women! Surely the Lord hath remembered our low estate. The work will not stop with this foundation. Our enterprise may have to struggle through embarrassments for years, but its influence will be felt."
How lovingly she watched the work go on! When the interior was under way, how carefully she considered each detail of closets, shelves, and general arrangements for comfort and convenience! When the question of equipment became urgent, how she worked to create an interest that should express itself in gifts of bedroom furnishings, curtains, crockery, and kitchen-ware, as well as books, desks, chairs, and laboratory material! All sorts and conditions of contributions and donations were welcomed. One was reminded of the way pioneer Harvard was at first supported by gifts of "a cow or a sheep, corn or salt, a piece of cloth or of silver plate." Four months before the day set for the opening, not a third of the necessary furnishing had come in.
"Everything that is done for us now," cried Miss Lyon, "seems like giving bread to the hungry and cold water to the thirsty!"
On the eighth of November, 1837, the day that Mount Holyoke opened its door, all was excitement in South Hadley. Stages and private carriages had for two days been arriving with road-weary, but eager, young women. The sound of hammers greeted their ears. It appeared that all the men, young and old, of the countryside had been pressed into service. Some were tacking down carpet or matting, others were carrying trunks, unloading furniture, and putting up beds. Miss Lyon seemed to be everywhere, greeting each new-comer with a word that showed that she already knew her as an individual, putting the shy and homesick girls to work, taking a cup of tea to one who was overtired from her journey, and directing the placing of furniture and the unpacking of supplies.
It might well have seemed to those first arrivals that they must live through a period of preparation before a reluctant beginning of regular work could be achieved, but in the midst of all the noise of house-settling and the fever of uncompleted entrance examinations the opening bell sounded on schedule time and classes began at once. What seemed, at first glance, hopeless confusion became ordered and stimulating activity through the generalship and inspiration of one woman whose watchword was: "Do the best you can _now_. Do not lose one golden opportunity for doing by merely getting ready to do something. Always remember that what ought to be done can be done."
This spirit of assured power--the will to do--became the spirit of those who worked with her, and was in time recognized as "the Mount Holyoke spirit."
"I can see Miss Lyon now as vividly as if it were only yesterday that I arrived, tired, hungry, and fearful, into the strange new world of the seminary," said a white-haired grandmother, her spectacles growing misty as she looked back across the sixty-odd years that separated her from the experiences that she was recalling.
"Tell me what you remember most about her," urged her vivacious granddaughter, a Mount Holyoke freshman, home for her Christmas vacation. "Was she really such a wonder as they all say?"
"Many pictures come to me of Miss Lyon that are much more vivid than those of people I saw yesterday," pondered the grandmother. "But it was, I think, in morning exercises in seminary hall that she impressed us most. Those who listened to her earnest words and looked into her face alight with feeling could not but remember. Her large blue eyes looked down upon us as if she held us all in her heart. What was the secret of her power! My dear, she _was power_. All that she taught, she was. And so while her words awakened, her example--the life-giving touch of her life--gave power to do and to endure."
The young girl's bright face was turned thoughtfully towards the fire, but the light that shone in her eyes was more than the reflected glow from the cheerful logs. "It is good to think that a woman can live like that in her work," she ventured softly.
The grandmother's face showed an answering glow. "There are some things that cannot grow old and die," she said. "One of them is a spirit like Mary Lyon's. When they told us that she had died, we knew that only her bodily presence had been removed. She still lived in our midst--we heard the ring of her voice in the words we read, in the words our hearts told us she would say; we even heard the ring of her laugh! And to-day you may be sure that the woman-pioneer who had the faith to plant the first college for women in America, lives by that faith, not only in her own Mount Holyoke, but in the larger lives of all the women who have profited by her labors."
"THE PRINCESS" OF WELLESLEY: ALICE FREEMAN PALMER
Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow forever and forever.
"THE PRINCESS" OF WELLESLEY
This is the story of a princess of our own time and our own America--a princess who, while little more than a girl herself, was chosen to rule a kingdom of girls. It is a little like the story of Tennyson's "Princess," with her woman's kingdom, and very much like the happy, old-fashioned fairy-tale.
We have come to think it is only in fairy-tales that a golden destiny finds out the true, golden heart, and, even though she masquerades as a goose-girl, discovers the "kingly child" and brings her to a waiting throne. We are tempted to believe that the chance of birth and the gifts of wealth are the things that spell opportunity and success. But this princess was born in a little farm-house, to a daily round of hard work and plain living. That it was also a life of high thinking and rich enjoyment of what each day brought, proved her indeed a "kingly child."
"Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous!" said the sage of Concord. So it was with little Alice Freeman. As she picked wild strawberries on the hills, and climbed the apple-tree to lie for a blissful minute in a nest of swaying blossoms under the blue sky, she was, as she said, "happy all over." The trappings of royalty can add nothing to one who knows how to be royally happy in gingham.
But Alice was not always following the pasture path to her friendly brook, or running across the fields with the calling wind, or dancing with her shadow in the barn-yard, where even the prosy hens stopped pecking corn for a minute to watch. She had work to do for Mother. When she was only four, she could dry the dishes without dropping one; and when she was six, she could be trusted to keep the three toddlers younger than herself out of mischief.
"My little daughter is learning to be a real little mother," said Mrs. Freeman, as she went about her work of churning and baking without an anxious thought.
[Illustration: Alice Freeman Palmer]
It was Sister Alice who pointed out the robin's nest, and found funny turtles and baby toads to play with. She took the little brood with her to hunt eggs in the barn and to see the ducks sail around like a fleet of boats on the pond. When Ella and Fred were wakened by a fearsome noise at night, they crept up close to their little mother, who told them a story about the funny screech-owl in its hollow-tree home.
"It is the ogre of mice and bats, but not of little boys and girls," she said.
"It sounds funny now, Alice," they whispered. "It's all right when we can touch you."
When Alice was seven a change came in the home. The father and mother had some serious talks, and then it was decided that Father should go away for a time, for two years, to study to be a doctor.
"It is hard to be chained to one kind of life when all the time you are sure that you have powers and possibilities that have never had a chance to come out in the open," she heard her father say one evening. "I have always wanted to be a doctor; I can never be more than a half-hearted farmer."
"You must go to Albany now, James," said the dauntless wife. "I can manage the farm until you get through your course at the medical college; and then, when you are doing work into which you can put your whole heart, a better time must come for all of us."
"How can you possibly get along?" he asked in amazement. "How can I leave you for two years to be a farmer, and father and mother, too?"
"There is a little bank here," she said, taking down a jar from a high shelf in the cupboard and jingling its contents merrily. "I have been saving bit by bit for just this sort of thing. And Alice will help me," she added, smiling at the child who had been standing near looking from father to mother in wide-eyed wonder. "You will be the little mother while I take father's place for a time, won't you, Alice?"
"It will be cruelly hard on you all," said the father, soberly. "I cannot make it seem right."
"Think how much good you can do afterward," urged his wife. "The time will go very quickly when we are all thinking of that. It is not hard to endure for a little for the sake of 'a gude time coming'--a better time not only for us, but for many besides. For I know you will be the true sort of doctor, James."
Alice never quite knew how they did manage during those two years, but she was quite sure that work done for the sake of a good to come is all joy.
"I owe much of what I am to my milkmaid days," she said.
She was always sorry for children who do not grow up with the sights and sounds of the country. "One is very near to all the simple, real things of life on a farm," she used to say. "There is a dewy freshness about the early out-of-door experiences, and a warm wholesomeness about tasks that are a part of the common lot. A country child develops, too, a responsibility--a power to do and to contrive--that the city child, who sees everything come ready to hand from a near-by store, cannot possibly gain. However much some of my friends may deplore my own early struggle with poverty and hard work, I can heartily echo George Eliot's boast:
"But were another childhood-world my share, I would be born a little sister there."
When Alice was ten years old, the family moved from the farm to the village of Windsor, where Dr. Freeman entered upon his life as a doctor, and where Alice's real education began. From the time she was four she had, for varying periods, sat on a bench in the district school, but for the most part she had taught herself. At Windsor Academy she had the advantage of a school of more than average efficiency.
"Words do not tell what this old school and place meant to me as a girl," she said years afterward. "Here we gathered abundant Greek, Latin, French, and mathematics; here we were taught truthfulness, to be upright and honorable; here we had our first loves, our first ambitions, our first dreams, and some of our first disappointments. We owe a large debt to Windsor Academy for the solid groundwork of education that it laid."
More important than the excellent curriculum and wholesome associations, however, was the influence of a friendship with one of the teachers, a young Harvard graduate who was supporting himself while preparing for the ministry. He recognized the rare nature and latent powers of the girl of fourteen, and taught her the delights of friendship with Nature and with books, and the joy of a mind trained to see and appreciate. He gave her an understanding of herself, and aroused the ambition, which grew into a fixed resolve, to go to college. But more than all, he taught her the value of personal influence.
"It is people that count," she used to say. "The truth and beauty that are locked up in books and in nature, to which only a few have the key, begin really to live when they are made over into human character. Disembodied ideas may mean little or nothing; it is when they are 'made flesh' that they can speak to our hearts and minds."
As Alice drove about with her father when he went to see his patients and saw how this true "doctor of the old school" was a physician to the mind as well as the body of those who turned to him for help, she came to a further realization of the truth: It is people that count.
"It must be very depressing to have to associate with bodies and their ills all the time," she ventured one day when her father seemed more than usually preoccupied. She never forgot the light that shone in his eyes as he turned and looked at her.
"We can't begin to minister to the body until we understand that spirit is all," he said. "What we are pleased to call _body_ is but one expression--and a most marvelous expression--of the hidden life
"that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things."
It seemed to Alice that this might be a favorable time to broach the subject of college. He looked at her in utter amazement; few girls thought of wanting more than a secondary education in those days, and there were still fewer opportunities for them.
"Why, daughter," he exclaimed, "a little more Latin and mathematics won't make you a better home-maker! Why should you set your heart on this thing?"
"I must go, Father," she answered steadily. "It is not a sudden notion; I have realized for a long time that I cannot live my life--the life that I feel I have it within me to live--without this training. I want to be a teacher--the best kind of a teacher--just as you wanted to be a doctor."
"But, my dear child," he protested, much troubled, "it will be as much as we can manage to see one of you through college, and that one should be Fred, who will have a family to look out for one of these days."
"If you let me have this chance, Father," said Alice, earnestly, "I'll promise that you will never regret it. I'll help to give Fred his chance, and see that the girls have the thing they want as well."
In the end Alice had her way. It seemed as if the strength of her single-hearted longing had power to compel a reluctant fate. In June, 1872, when but a little over seventeen, she went to Ann Arbor to take the entrance examinations for the University of Michigan, a careful study of catalogues having convinced her that the standard of work was higher there than in any college then open to women.
A disappointment met her at the outset. Her training at Windsor, good as it was, did not prepare her for the university requirements. "Conditions" loomed mountain high, and the examiners recommended that she spend another year in preparation. Her intelligence and character had won the interest of President Angell, however, and he asked that she be granted a six-weeks' trial. His confidence in her was justified; for she not only proved her ability to keep up with her class, but steadily persevered in her double task until all conditions were removed.
The college years were "a glory instead of a grind," in spite of the ever-pressing necessity for strict economy in the use of time and money. Her sense of values--"the ability to see large things large and small things small," which has been called the best measure of education,--showed a wonderful harmony of powers. While the mind was being stored with knowledge and the intellect trained to clear, orderly thinking, there was never a "too-muchness" in this direction that meant a "not-enoughness" in the realm of human relationships. Always she realized that it is people that count, and her supreme test of education as of life was its "consecrated serviceableness." President Angell in writing of her said:
One of her most striking characteristics in college was her warm and demonstrative sympathy with her circle of friends. Her soul seemed bubbling over with joy, which she wished to share with the other girls. While she was therefore in the most friendly relations with all those girls then in college, she was the radiant center of a considerable group whose tastes were congenial with her own. Without assuming or striving for leadership, she could not but be to a certain degree a leader among these, some of whom have attained positions only less conspicuous for usefulness than her own. Wherever she went, her genial, outgoing spirit seemed to carry with her an atmosphere of cheerfulness and joy.
In the middle of her junior year, news came from her father of a more than usual financial stress, owing to a flood along the Susquehanna, which had swept away his hope of present gain from a promising stretch of woodland. It seemed clear to Alice that the time had come when she must make her way alone. Through the recommendation of President Angell she secured a position as teacher of Latin and Greek in the High School at Ottawa, Illinois, where she taught for five months, receiving enough money to carry her through the remainder of her college course. The omitted junior work was made up partly during the summer vacation and partly in connection with the studies of the senior year. An extract from a letter home will tell how the busy days went:
This is the first day of vacation. I have been so busy this year that it seems good to get a change, even though I do keep right on here at work. For some time I have been giving a young man lessons in Greek every Saturday. I have had two junior speeches already, and there are still more. Several girls from Flint tried to have me go home with them for the vacation, but I made up my mind to stay and do what I could for myself and the other people here. A young Mr. M. is going to recite to me every day in Virgil; so with teaching and all the rest I sha'n't have time to be homesick, though it will seem rather lonely when the other girls are gone and I don't hear the college bell for two weeks.
Miss Freeman's early teaching showed the vitalizing spirit that marked all of her relations with people.
"She had a way of making you feel 'all dipped in sunshine,'" one of her girls said.
"Everything she taught seemed a part of herself," another explained. "It wasn't just something in a book that she had to teach and you had to learn. She made every page of our history seem a part of present life and interests. We saw and felt the things we talked about."
The fame of this young teacher's influence traveled all the way from Michigan, where she was principal of the Saginaw High School, to Massachusetts. Mr. Henry Durant, the founder of Wellesley, asked her to come to the new college as teacher of mathematics. She declined the call, however, and, a year later, a second and more urgent invitation. Her family had removed to Saginaw, where Dr. Freeman was slowly building up a practice, and it would mean leaving a home that needed her. The one brother was now in the university; Ella was soon to be married; and Stella, the youngest, who was most like Alice in temperament and tastes, was looking forward hopefully to college.
But at the time when Dr. Freeman was becoming established and the financial outlook began to brighten, the darkest days that the family had ever known were upon them. Stella, the chief joy and hope of them all, fell seriously ill. The "little mother" loved this "starlike girl" as her own child, and looked up to her as one who would reach heights her feet could never climb. When she died it seemed to Alice that she had lost the one chance for a perfectly understanding and inspiring comradeship that life offered. At this time a third call came to Wellesley,--as head of the department of history,--and hoping that a new place with new problems would give her a fresh hold on joy, she accepted.
Into her college work the young woman of twenty-four put all the power and richness of her radiant personality. She found peace and happiness in untiring effort, and her girls found in her the most inspiring teacher they had ever known. She went to the heart of the history she taught, and she went to the hearts of her pupils.
"She seemed to care for each of us--to find each as interesting and worth while as if there were no other person in the world," one of her students said.
Mr. Durant had longed to find just such a person to build on the foundation he had laid. It was in her first year that he pointed her out to one of the trustees.
"Do you see that little dark-eyed girl? She will be the next president of Wellesley," he said.
"Surely she is much too young and inexperienced for such a responsibility," protested the other, looking at him in amazement.
"As for the first, it is a fault we easily outgrow," said Mr. Durant, dryly, "and as for her inexperience--well, I invite you to visit one of her classes."
The next year, on the death of Mr. Durant, she was made acting president of the college, and the year following she inherited the title and honors, as well as the responsibilities and opportunities, of the office. The Princess had come into her kingdom.
The election caused a great stir among the students, particularly the irrepressible seniors. It was wonderful and most inspiring that their splendid Miss Freeman, who was the youngest member of the faculty, should have won this honor. "Why, she was only a girl like themselves! The time of strict observances and tiresome regulations of every sort was at an end. Miss Freeman seemed to sense the prevailing mood, and, without waiting for a formal assembly, asked the seniors to meet her in her rooms. In they poured, overflowing chairs, tables, and ranging themselves about on the floor in animated, expectant groups. The new head of the college looked at them quietly for a minute before she began to speak.
"I have sent for you seniors," she said at last seriously, "to ask your advice. You may have heard that I have been called to the position of acting president of your college. I am, of course, too young; and the duties are, as you know, too heavy for the strongest to carry alone. If I must manage alone, there is only one course--to decline. It has, however, occurred to me that my seniors might be willing to help by looking after the order of the college and leaving me free for administration. Shall I accept? Shall we work things out together?"
The hearty response made it clear that the princess was to rule not only by "divine right," but also by the glad "consent of the governed." Perhaps it was her youth and charm and the romance of her brilliant success that won for her the affectionate title of "The Princess"; perhaps it was her undisputed sway in her kingdom of girls. It was said that her radiant, "outgoing spirit" was felt in the atmosphere of the place and in all the graduates. Her spirit became the Wellesley spirit.
"What did she do besides turning all of you into an adoring band of Freeman-followers?" a Wellesley woman was asked.
The reply came without a moment's hesitation: "She had the life-giving power of a true creator, one who can entertain a vision of the ideal, and then work patiently bit by bit to 'carve it in the marble real.' She built the Wellesley we all know and love, making it practical, constructive, fine, generous, human, spiritual."
For six years the Princess of Wellesley ruled her kingdom wisely. She raised the standard of work, enlisted the interest and support of those in a position to help, added to the buildings and equipment, and won the enthusiastic cooperation of students, faculty, and public. Then, one day, she voluntarily stepped down from her throne, leaving others to go on with the work she had begun. She married Professor George Herbert Palmer of Harvard, and, (quite in the manner of the fairy-tale) "lived happily ever after."
"What a disappointment!" some of her friends said. "That a woman of such unusual powers and gifts should deliberately leave a place of large usefulness and influence to shut herself up in the concerns of a single home!"
"There is nothing better than the making of a true home," said Alice Freeman Palmer. "I shall not be shut away from the concerns of others, but more truly a part of them. 'For love is fellow-service,' I believe."
The home near Harvard Yard was soon felt to be the most free and perfect expression of her generous nature. Its happiness made all life seem happier. Shy undergraduates and absorbed students who had withdrawn overmuch within themselves and their pet problems found there a thaw after their "winter of discontent." Wellesley girls--even in those days before automobiles--did not feel fifteen miles too great a distance to go for a cup of tea and a half-hour by the fire.
[Illustration: College Hall, destroyed by fire in 1914]
[Illustration: Tower Court, which stands on the site of College Hall]
Many were surprised that Mrs. Palmer never seemed worn by the unstinted giving of herself to the demands of others on her time and sympathy. The reason was that their interests were her interests. Her spirit was indeed "outgoing"; there was no wall hedging in a certain number of things and people as hers, with the rest of the world outside. As we have seen, people counted with her supremely; and the ideas which moved her were those which she found embodied in the joys and sorrows of human hearts.
Mrs. Palmer wrote of her days at this time:
I don't know what will happen if life keeps on growing so much better and brighter each year. How does your cup manage to hold so much? Mine is running over, and I keep getting larger cups; but I can't contain all my blessings and gladness. We are both so well and busy that the days are never half long enough.
Life held, indeed, a full measure of opportunities for service. Wellesley claimed her as a member of its executive committee, and other colleges sought her counsel. When Chicago University was founded, she was induced to serve as its Dean of Women until the opportunities for girls there were wisely established. She worked energetically raising funds for Radcliffe and her own Wellesley. Throughout the country her wisdom as an educational expert was recognized, and her advice sought in matters of organization and administration. For several years, as a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, she worked early and late to improve the efficiency and influence of the normal schools. She was a public servant who brought into all her contact with groups and masses of people the simple directness and intimate charm that marked her touch with individuals.
"How is it that you are able to do so much more than other people?" asked a tired, nervous woman, who stopped Mrs. Palmer for a word at the close of one of her lectures.
"Because," she answered, with the sudden gleam of a smile, "I haven't any nerves nor any conscience, and my husband says I haven't any backbone."
It was true that she never worried. She had early learned to live one day at a time, without "looking before and after." And nobody knew better than Mrs. Palmer the renewing power of joy. She could romp with some of her very small friends in the half-hour before an important meeting; go for a long walk or ride along country lanes when a vexing problem confronted her; or spend a quiet evening by the fire reading aloud from one of her favorite poets at the end of a busy day.
For fifteen years Mrs. Palmer lived this life of joyful, untiring service. Then, at the time of her greatest power and usefulness, she died. The news came as a personal loss to thousands. Just as Wellesley had mourned her removal to Cambridge, so a larger world mourned her earthly passing. But her friends soon found that it was impossible to grieve or to feel for a moment that she was dead. The echoes of her life were living echoes in the world of those who knew her.
There are many memorials speaking in different places of her work. In the chapel at Wellesley, where it seems to gather at every hour a golden glory of light, is the lovely transparent marble by Daniel Chester French, eternally bearing witness to the meaning of her influence with her girls. In the tower at Chicago the chimes "make music, joyfully to recall," her labors there. But more lasting than marble or bronze is the living memorial in the hearts and minds "made better by her presence." For it is, indeed, people that count, and in the richer lives of many the enkindling spirit of Alice Freeman Palmer still lives.
OUR LADY OF THE RED CROSS: CLARA BARTON
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,-- Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me.
"The Vision of Sir Launfal."--LOWELL.
OUR LADY OF THE RED CROSS
"A Christmas baby! Now isn't that the best kind of a Christmas gift for us all?" cried Captain Stephen Barton, who took the interesting flannel bundle from the nurse's arms and held it out proudly to the assembled family.
No longed-for heir to a waiting kingdom could have received a more royal welcome than did that little girl who appeared at the Barton home in Oxford, Massachusetts, on Christmas Day, 1821. Ten years had passed since a child had come to the comfortable farm-house, and the four big brothers and sisters were very sure that they could not have had a more precious gift than this Christmas baby. No one doubted that she deserved a distinguished name, but it was due to Sister Dorothy, who was a young lady of romantic seventeen and something of a reader, that she was called Clarissa Harlowe, after a well-known heroine of fiction. The name which this heroine of real life actually bore and made famous, however, was Clara Barton; for the Christmas baby proved to be a gift not only to a little group of loving friends, but also to a great nation and to humanity.
The sisters and brothers were teachers rather than playmates for Clara, and her education began so early that she had no recollection of the way they led her toddling steps through the beginnings of book-learning. On her first day at school she announced to the amazed teacher who tried to put a primer into her hands that she could spell the "artichoke words." The teacher had other surprises besides the discovery that this mite of three was acquainted with three-syllabled lore.
Brother Stephen, who was a wizard with figures, had made the sums with which he covered her slate seem a fascinating sort of play at a period when most infants are content with counting the fingers of one hand. All other interests, however, paled before the stories that her father told her of great men and their splendid deeds.
Captain Barton was amused one day at the discovery that his precocious daughter, who always eagerly encored his tales of conquerors and leaders, thought of their greatness in images of quite literal and realistic bigness. A president must, for instance, be as large as a house, and a vice-president as spacious as a barn door at the very least. But these somewhat crude conceptions did not put a check on the epic recitals of the retired officer, who, in the intervals of active service in plowed fields or in pastures where his thoroughbreds grazed with their mettlesome colts, liked to live over the days when he served under "Mad Anthony" Wayne in the Revolutionary War, and had a share in the thrilling adventures of the Western frontier.
Clara was only five years old when Brother David taught her to ride. "Learning to ride is just learning a horse," said this daring youth, who was the "Buffalo Bill" of the surrounding country.
"How can I learn a horse, David?" quavered the child, as the high-spirited animals came whinnying to the pasture bars at her brother's call.
"Catch hold of his mane, Clara, and just feel the horse a part of yourself--the big half for the time being," said David, as he put her on the back of a colt that was broken only to bit and halter, and, easily springing on his favorite, held the reins of both in one hand, while he steadied the small sister with the other by seizing hold of one excited foot.
They went over the fields at a gallop that first day, and soon little Clara and her mount understood each other so well that her riding feats became almost as far-famed as those of her brother. The time came when her skill and confidence on horseback--her power to feel the animal she rode a part of herself and keep her place in any sort of saddle through night-long gallops--meant the saving of many lives.
David taught her many other practical things that helped to make her steady and self-reliant in the face of emergencies. She learned, for instance, to drive a nail straight, and to tie a knot that would hold. Eye and hand were trained to work together with quick decision that made for readiness and efficiency in dealing with a situation, whether it meant the packing of a box, or first-aid measures after an accident on the skating-pond.
She was always an outdoor child, with dogs, horses, and ducks for playfellows. The fuzzy ducklings were the best sort of dolls. Sometimes when wild ducks visited the pond and all her waddling favorites began to flap their wings excitedly, it seemed that her young heart felt, too, the call of large, free spaces.
"The only real fun is to do things," she used to say.
She rode after the cows, helped in the milking and churning, and followed her father about, dropping potatoes in their holes or helping weed the garden. Once, when the house was being painted, she begged to be allowed to assist in the work, even learning to grind the pigments and mix the colors. The family was at first amused and then amazed at the persistency of her application as day after day she donned her apron and fell to work.
They were not less astonished when she wanted to learn the work of the weavers in her brothers' satinet mills. At first, her mother refused this extraordinary request; but Stephen, who understood the intensity of her craving to do things, took her part; and at the end of her first week at the flying shuttle Clara had the satisfaction of finding that her cloth was passed as first-quality goods. Her career as a weaver was of short duration, however, owing to a fire which destroyed the mills.
The young girl was as enthusiastic in play as at work. Whether it was a canter over the fields on Billy while her dog, Button, dashed along at her side, his curly white tail bobbing ecstatically, or a coast down the rolling hills in winter, she entered into the sport of the moment with her whole heart.
When there was no outlet for her superabundant energy, she was genuinely unhappy. Then it was that a self-consciousness and morbid sensitiveness became so evident that it was a source of real concern to her friends.
"People say that I must have been born brave," said Clara Barton. "Why, I seem to remember nothing but terrors in my early days. I was a shrinking little bundle of fears--fears of thunder, fears of strange faces, fears of my strange self." It was only when thought and feeling were merged in the zest of some interesting activity that she lost her painful shyness and found herself.
When she was eleven years old she had her first experience as a nurse. A fall which gave David a serious blow on the head, together with the bungling ministrations of doctors, who, when in doubt, had recourse only to the heroic treatment of bleeding and leeches, brought the vigorous young brother to a protracted invalidism. For two years Clara was his constant and devoted attendant. She schooled herself to remain calm, cheerful, and resourceful in the presence of suffering and exacting demands. When others gave way to fatigue or "nerves," her wonderful instinct for action kept her, child though she was, at her post. Her sympathy expressed itself in untiring service.
In the years that followed her brother's recovery Clara became a real problem to herself and her friends. The old blighting sensitiveness made her school-days restless and unhappy in spite of her alert mind and many interests.
At length her mother, at her wit's end because of this baffling, morbid strain in her remarkable daughter, was advised by a man of sane judgment and considerable understanding of child nature, to throw responsibility upon her and give her a school to teach.
It happened, therefore, that when Clara Barton was fifteen she "put down her skirts, put up her hair," and entered upon her successful career as a teacher. She liked the children and believed in them, entering enthusiastically into their concerns, and opening the way to new interests. When asked how she managed the discipline of the troublesome ones, she said, "The children give no trouble; I never have to discipline at all," quite unconscious of the fact that her vital influence gave her a control that made assertion of authority unnecessary.
"When the boys found that I was as strong as they were and could teach them something on the playground, they thought that perhaps we might discover together a few other worth-while things in school hours," she said.
For eighteen years Clara Barton was a teacher. Always learning herself while teaching others, she decided in 1852 to enter Clinton Liberal Institute in New York as a pupil for graduation, for there was then no college whose doors were open to women. When she had all that the Institute could give her, she looked about for new fields for effort.
In Bordentown, New Jersey, she found there was a peculiar need for some one who would bring to her task pioneer zeal as well as the passion for teaching. At that time there were no public schools in the town or, indeed, in the State.
"The people who pose as respectable are too proud and too prejudiced to send their boys and girls to a free pauper school, and in the meantime all the children run wild," Miss Barton was told.
"We have tried again and again," said a discouraged young pedagogue. "It is impossible to do anything in this place."
"Give me three months, and I will teach free," said Clara Barton.
This was just the sort of challenge she loved. There was something to be done. She began with six unpromising gamins in a dilapidated, empty building. In a month her quarters proved too narrow. Each youngster became an enthusiastic and effectual advertisement. As always, her success lay in an understanding of her pupils as individuals, and a quickening interest that brought out the latent possibilities of each. The school of six grew in a year to one of six hundred, and the thoroughly converted citizens built an eight-room school-house where Miss Barton remained as principal and teacher until a breakdown of her voice made a complete rest necessary.
The weak throat soon made it evident that her teaching days were over; but she found at the same time in Washington, where she had gone for recuperation, a new work.
"Living is doing," she said. "Even while we say there is nothing we can do, we stumble over the opportunities for service that we are passing by in our tear-blinded self-pity."
The over-sensitive girl had learned her lesson well. Life offered moment by moment too many chances for action for a single worker to turn aside to bemoan his own particular condition.
The retired teacher became a confidential secretary in the office of the Commissioner of Patents. Great confusion existed in the Patent Office at that time because some clerks had betrayed the secrets of certain inventions. Miss Barton was the first woman to be employed in a Government department; and while ably handling the critical situation that called for all her energy and resourcefulness, she had to cope not only with the scarcely veiled enmity of those fellow-workers who were guilty or jealous, but also with the open antagonism of the rank and file of the clerks, who were indignant because a woman had been placed in a position of responsibility and influence. She endured covert slander and deliberate disrespect, letting her character and the quality of her work speak for themselves. They spoke so eloquently that when a change in political control caused her removal, she was before long recalled to straighten out the tangle that had ensued.
At the outbreak of the Civil War Miss Barton was, therefore, at the very storm-center.
The early days of the conflict found her binding up the wounds of the Massachusetts boys who had been attacked by a mob while passing through Baltimore, and who for a time were quartered in the Capitol. Some of these recruits were boys from Miss Barton's own town who had been her pupils, and all were dear to her because they were offering their lives for the Union. We find her with other volunteer nurses caring for the injured, feeding groups who gathered about her in the Senate Chamber, and, from the desk of the President of the Senate, reading them the home news from the Worcester papers.
Meeting the needs as they presented themselves in that time of general panic and distress, she sent to the Worcester "Spy" appeals for money and supplies. Other papers took up the work, and soon Miss Barton had to secure space in a large warehouse to hold the provisions that poured in.
Not for many days, however, did she remain a steward of supplies. When she met the transports which brought the wounded into the city, her whole nature revolted at the sight of the untold suffering and countless deaths which were resulting from delay in caring for the injured. Her flaming ardor, her rare executive ability, and her tireless persistency won for her the confidence of those in command, and, though it was against all traditions, to say nothing of iron-clad army regulations, she obtained permission to go with her stores of food, bandages, and medicines to the firing-line, where relief might be given on the battle-field at the time of direst need. The girl who had been a "bundle of fears" had grown into the woman who braved every danger and any suffering to carry help to her fellow-countrymen.
People who spoke of her rare initiative and practical judgment had little comprehension of the absolute simplicity and directness of her methods. She managed the sulky, rebellious drivers of her army-wagons, who had little respect for orders that placed a woman in control, in the same way that she had managed children in school. Without relaxing her firmness, she spoke to them courteously, and called them to share the warm dinner she had prepared and spread out in appetizing fashion. When, after clearing away the dishes, she was sitting alone by the fire, the men returned in an awkward, self-conscious group.
"We didn't come to get warm," said their spokesman, as she kindly moved to make room for them at the flames, "we come to tell you we are ashamed. The truth is we didn't want to come. We know there is fighting ahead, and we've seen enough of that for men who don't carry muskets, only whips; and then we've never seen a train under charge of a woman before, and we couldn't understand it. We've been mean and contrary all day, and you've treated us as if we'd been the general and his staff, and given us the best meal we've had in two years. We want to ask your forgiveness, and we sha'n't trouble you again."
She found that a comfortable bed had been arranged for her in her ambulance, a lantern was hanging from the roof, and when next morning she emerged from her shelter, a steaming breakfast awaited her and a devoted corps of assistants stood ready for orders.
"I had cooked my last meal for my drivers," said Clara Barton. "These men remained with me six months through frost and snow and march and camp and battle; they nursed the sick, dressed the wounded, soothed the dying, and buried the dead; and, if possible, they grew kinder and gentler every day."
An incident that occurred at Antietam is typical of her quiet efficiency. According to her directions, the wounded were being fed with bread and crackers moistened in wine, when one of her assistants came to report that the entire supply was exhausted, while many helpless ones lay on the field unfed. Miss Barton's quick eye had noted that the boxes from which the wine was taken had fine Indian meal as packing. Six large kettles were at once unearthed from the farm-house in which they had taken quarters, and soon her men were carrying buckets of hot gruel for miles over the fields where lay hundreds of wounded and dying. Suddenly, in the midst of her labors, Miss Barton came upon the surgeon in charge sitting alone, gazing at a small piece of tallow candle which flickered uncertainly in the middle of the table.
"Tired, Doctor?" she asked sympathetically.
"Tired indeed!" he replied bitterly; "tired of such heartless neglect and carelessness. What am I to do for my thousand wounded men with night here and that inch of candle all the light I have or can get?"
Miss Barton took him by the arm and led him to the door, where he could see near the barn scores of lanterns gleaming like stars.
"What is that!" he asked amazedly.
"The barn is lighted," she replied, "and the house will be directly."
"Where did you get them!" he gasped.
"Brought them with me."
"How many have you?"
"All you want--four boxes."
The surgeon looked at her for a moment as if he were waking from a dream; and then, as if it were the only answer he could make, fell to work. And so it was invariably that she won her complete command of people as she did of situations, by always proving herself equal to the emergency of the moment.
Though, as she said in explaining the tardiness of a letter, "my hands complain a little of unaccustomed hardships," she never complained of any ill, nor allowed any danger or difficulty to interrupt her work.
"What are my puny ailments beside the agony of our poor shattered boys lying helpless on the field?" she said. And so, while doctors and officers wondered at her unlimited capacity for prompt and effective action, the men who had felt her sympathetic touch and effectual aid loved and revered her as "The Angel of the Battlefield."
One incident well illustrates the characteristic confidence with which she moved about amid scenes of terror and panic. At Fredericksburg, when "every street was a firing-line and every house a hospital," she was passing along when she had to step aside to allow a regiment of infantry to sweep by. At that moment General Patrick caught sight of her, and, thinking she was a bewildered resident of the city who had been left behind in the general exodus, leaned from his saddle and said reassuringly:
"You are alone and in great danger, madam. Do you want protection?"
Miss Barton thanked him with a smile, and said, looking about at the ranks, "I believe I am the best-protected woman in the United States."
The soldiers near overheard and cried out, "That's so! that's so!" And the cheer that they gave was echoed by line after line until a mighty shout went up as for a victory.
The courtly old general looked about comprehendingly, and, bowing low, said as he galloped away, "I believe you are right, madam."
Clara Barton was present on sixteen battle-fields; she was eight months at the siege of Charleston, and served for a considerable period in the hospitals of Richmond.
[Illustration: Clara Barton]
When the war was ended and the survivors of the great armies were marching homeward, her heart was touched by the distress in many homes where sons and fathers and brothers were among those listed as "missing." In all, there were 80,000 men of whom no definite report could be given to their friends. She was assisting President Lincoln in answering the hundreds of heartbroken letters, imploring news, which poured in from all over the land when his tragic death left her alone with the task. Then, as no funds were available to finance a thorough investigation of every sort of record of States, hospitals, prisons, and battle-fields, she maintained out of her own means a bureau to prosecute the search.
Four years were spent in this great labor, during which time Miss Barton made many public addresses, the proceeds of which were devoted to the cause. One evening in the winter of 1868, while in the midst of a lecture, her voice suddenly left her. This was the beginning of a complete nervous collapse. The hardships and prolonged strain had, in spite of her robust constitution and iron will, told at last on the endurance of that loyal worker.
When able to travel, she went to Geneva, Switzerland, in the hope of winning back her health and strength. Soon after her arrival she was visited by the president and members of the "International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded in War," who came to learn why the United States had refused to sign the Treaty of Geneva, providing for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers. Of all the civilized nations, our great republic alone most unaccountably held aloof.
Miss Barton at once set herself to learn all she could about the ideals and methods of the International Red Cross, and during the Franco-Prussian War she had abundant opportunity to see and experience its practical working on the battle-field.
At the outbreak of the war in 1870 she was urged to go as a leader, taking the same part that she had borne in the Civil War.
"I had not strength to trust for that," said Clara Barton, "and declined with thanks, promising to follow in my own time and way; and I did follow within a week. As I journeyed on," she continued, "I saw the work of these Red Cross societies in the field accomplishing in four months under their systematic organization what we failed to accomplish in four years without it--no mistakes, no needless suffering, no waste, no confusion, but order, plenty, cleanliness, and comfort wherever that little flag made its way--a whole continent marshaled under the banner of the Red Cross. As I saw all this and joined and worked in it, you will not wonder that I said to myself 'if I live to return to my country, I will try to make my people understand the Red Cross and that treaty.'"
Months of service in caring for the wounded and the helpless victims of siege and famine were followed by a period of nervous exhaustion from which she but slowly crept back to her former hold on health. At last she was able to return to America to devote herself to bringing her country into line with the Red Cross movement. She found that traditionary prejudice against "entangling alliances with other powers," together with a singular failure to comprehend the vital importance of the matter, militated against the great cause.
"Why should we make provision for the wounded?" it was said. "We shall never have another war; we have learned our lesson."
It came to Miss Barton then that the work of the Red Cross should be extended to disasters, such as fires, floods, earthquakes, and epidemics--"great public calamities which require, like war, prompt and well-organized help."
Years of devoted missionary work with preoccupied officials and a heedless, short-sighted public at length bore fruit. After the Geneva Treaty received the signature of President Arthur on March 1, 1882, it was promptly ratified by the Senate, and the American National Red Cross came into being, with Clara Barton as its first president. Through her influence, too, the International Congress of Berne adopted the "American Amendment," which dealt with the extension of the Red Cross to relief measures in great calamities occurring in times of peace.
The story of her life from this time on is one with the story of the work of the Red Cross during the stress of such disasters as the Mississippi River floods, the Texas famine in 1885, the Charleston earthquake in 1886, the Johnstown flood in 1899, the Russian famine in 1892, and the Spanish-American War. The prompt, efficient methods followed in the relief of the flood sufferers along the Mississippi in 1884 may serve to illustrate the sane, constructive character of her work.
Supply centers were established, and a steamer chartered to ply back and forth carrying help and hope to the distracted human creatures who stood "wringing their hands on a frozen, fireless shore--with every coal-pit filled with water." For three weeks she patrolled the river, distributing food, clothing, and fuel, caring for the sick, and, in order to establish at once normal conditions of life, providing the people with many thousands of dollars' worth of building material, seeds, and farm implements, thus making it possible for them to help themselves and in work find a cure for their benumbing distress.
"Our Lady of the Red Cross" lived past her ninetieth birthday, but her real life is measured by deeds, not days. It was truly a long one, rich in the joy of service. She abundantly proved the truth of the words: "We gain in so far as we give. If we would find our life, we must be willing to lose it."
A MAIDEN CRUSADER: FRANCES E. WILLARD
Instead of peace, I was to participate in war; instead of the sweetness of home, I was to become a wanderer on the face of the earth; but I have felt that a great promotion came to me when I was counted worthy to be a worker in the organized crusade for "God and Home and Native Land."... If I were asked the mission of the ideal woman, I would say it is to make the whole world homelike. The true woman will make every place she enters homelike--and she will enter every place in this wide world.
FRANCES E. WILLARD.
A MAIDEN CRUSADER
There is no place like a young college town in a young country for untroubled optimism. Hope blossoms there as nowhere else; the ideal ever beckons at the next turn in the road. When Josiah Willard brought his little family to Oberlin, it seemed to them all that a new golden age of opportunity was theirs. Even Frances, who was little more than a baby, drank in the spirit of the place with the air she breathed.
It was not hard to believe in a golden age when one happened to see little Frances, or "Frank," Willard dancing like a sunbeam about the campus. She liked to play about the big buildings, where father went every day with his big books, and watch for him to come out. Sometimes one of the students would stop to speak to her; sometimes a group would gather about while, with fair hair flying and small arms waving, in a voice incredibly clear and bird-like, she "said a piece" that mother had taught her.
"Is that a little professorling?" asked a new-comer one day, attracted by the child's cherub face and darting, fairylike ways.
"Guess again!" returned a dignified senior. "Her father is one of the students. Haven't you noticed that fine-looking Willard? The mother, too, knows how to appreciate a college, I understand--used to be a teacher back in New York where they came from."
"You don't mean to say that this happy little goldfinch is the child of two such solemn owls!" exclaimed the other.
"Nothing of the sort. They are very wide-awake, alive sort of people, I assure you,--the kind who'd make a success of anything. The father wants to be a preacher, they say--wait, there he comes now!"
It was plain to be seen that Mr. Willard was an alert, capable man and a good father. The little girl ran to him with a joyful cry, and a sturdy lad who had been trying to climb a tree bounded forward at the same time.
"I trust that my small fry haven't been making trouble," said the man, giving his free hand to Frances and graciously allowing Oliver to carry two of his armful of books.
"Only making friends," the senior responded genially, "and one can see that they can't very well help that."
The Oberlin years were a happy, friendly time for all the family. While both father and mother were working hard to make the most of their long-delayed opportunity for a liberal education, they delighted above all in the companionship of neighbors with tastes like their own. After five years, however, it became clear that the future was not to be after their planning. Mr. Willard's health failed, and a wise doctor said that he must leave his book-world, and take up a free, active life in the open. So the little family joined the army of westward-moving pioneers.
Can you picture the three prairie-schooners that carried them and all their goods to the new home? The father drove the first, Oliver geehawed proudly from the high perch of the next, and mother sat in the third, with Frances and little sister Mary on a cushioned throne made out of father's topsyturvy desk. For nearly thirty days the little caravan made its way--now through forests, now across great sweeping prairies, now over bumping corduroy roads that crossed stretches of swampy ground. They cooked their bacon and potatoes, gypsy-fashion, on the ground, and slept under the white hoods of their long wagons, when they were not kept awake by the howling of wolves.
When Sunday came, they rested wherever the day found them--sometimes on the rolling prairie, where their only shelter from rain and sun was the homely schooner, but where at night they could look up at the great tent of the starry heavens; sometimes in the cathedral of the forest, where they found Jack-in-the-pulpit preaching to the other wild-flowers and birds and breezes singing an anthem of praise.
[Illustration: _Photo by Brown Bros._
Frances E. Willard]
It was truly a new world through which they made their way--beginnings all about--the roughest, crudest sort of beginnings, glorified by the brightest hopes. Tiny cabins were planted on the edge of the prairies; rough huts of logs were dropped down in clearings in the forest. Everywhere people were working with an energy that could not be daunted--felling trees, sowing, harvesting, building. As they passed by the end of Lake Michigan they caught a glimpse of a small, struggling village in the midst of a dark, hopeless-looking morass, from which they turned aside on seeing the warning sign _No bottom here_. That little settlement in the swamp was Chicago.
Northward they journeyed to Wisconsin, where on the bluffs above Rock River, not far from Janesville, they found a spot with fertile prairie on one side and sheltering, wooded hills on the other. It seemed as if the place fairly called to them: "This is home. You are my people. My fields and hills and river have been waiting many a year just for you!"
Here Mr. Willard planted the roof-tree, using timber that his own ax had wrested from the forest. Year by year it grew with their life. "Forest Home," as they lovingly called it, was a low, rambling dwelling, covered with trailing vines and all but hidden away in a grove of oaks and evergreens. It seemed as if Nature had taken over the work of their hands--house, barns, fields, and orchards--and made them her dearest care. Here were people after her own heart, people who went out eagerly to meet and use the things that each day brought. They found real zest in plowing fields, laying fences, raising cattle, and learning the ways of soil and weather. They learned how to keep rats and gophers from devouring their crops, how to bank up the house as a protection from hurricanes, and how to fight the prairie fires with fire.
Frank Willard grew as the trees grew, quite naturally, gathering strength from the life about her. She had her share in the daily tasks; she had, too, a chance for free, happy, good times. There was but one other family of children near enough to share their plays, but the fun was never dependent on numbers or novelty. If there were only two members of the "Rustic Club" present, the birds and chipmunks and other wood-creatures supplied every lack. Sometimes when they found themselves longing to "pick up and move back among folks," they played that the farm was a city.
"'My mind to me a kingdom is,'" quoted Frank, optimistically; "and I think if we all put our minds to it, we can manage to people this spot on the map very sociably."
Their city had a model government, and ideal regulations for community health and enjoyment. It had also an enterprising newspaper of which Frank was editor.
Frank was the leader in all of the fun. She was the commanding general in that famous "Indian fight" when, with Mary and Mother, she held the fort against the attack of two dreadful, make-believe savages and a dog. It was due to her strategy that the dog was brought over to their side by an enticing sparerib and the day won. Frank, too, was the captain of their good ship _Enterprise_.
"If we do live inland, we don't have to _think inland_, Mary," she said. "What's the use of sitting here in Wisconsin and sighing because we've never seen the ocean. Let's take this hen-coop and go a-sailing. Who knows what magic shores we'll touch beyond our Sea of Fancy!"
A plank was put across the pointed top of the hen-coop, and the children stood at opposite ends steering, slowly when the sea was calm and more energetically when a storm was brewing. The hens clucked and the chickens ran about in a panic, but the captain calmly charted the waters and laid down rules of navigation.
Perhaps, though, the best times of all were those that Frank spent in her retreat at the top of a black oak tree, where she could sit weaving stories of bright romance to her heart's content. On the tree she nailed a sign with this painted warning: "The Eagle's Nest. Beware!" to secure her against intruders. Here she wrote a wonderful novel of adventure, some four hundred pages long.
But this eagle found that the wings of her imagination could not make her entirely free and happy. She had to return from the heights and the high adventures of her favorite heroes to the dull routine of farm life. She was not even allowed to ride, as Oliver was.
"Well, if I can't be trusted to manage a horse, I'll see what can be done with a cow and a saddle. I simply must ride _something_," Frank declared, with a determined toss of her head.
It took not only determination, but also grim endurance and a sense of fun to help her through this novel experiment, which certainly had in it more excitement than pleasure. However, when her father saw her ride by on her long-horned steed, he said with a laugh:
"You have fairly earned a better mount, Frank. And I suppose there is really no more risk of your breaking your neck with a horse."
That night Frank wrote in her journal:
"Hurrah! rejoice! A new era has this moment been ushered in. Rode a horse through the corn--the acme of my hopes realized."
In the saddle, with the keen breath of a brisk morning in her face, she felt almost free--almost a part of the larger life for which she longed. "I think I'm fonder of anything out of my sphere than anything in it," she said to her mother, whose understanding and sympathy never failed her.
Perhaps she loved especially to pore over a book of astronomy and try to puzzle out the starry paths on the vast prairie of the heavens, because it carried her up and away from her every-day world. Sometimes, however, she was brought back to earth with a rude bump.
"When I had to get dinner one Sunday, I fairly cried," she said. "To come back to frying onions, when I've been among the rings of Saturn, is terrible."
She didn't at all know what it was for which she longed. Only she knew that she didn't want to grow up--to twist up her free curls with spiky hair-pins and to wear long skirts which seemed to make it plain that a weary round of shut-in tasks was all her lot and that the happy days of roaming woods and fields were over.
Through all the girlhood days at "Forest Home" Frank longed for the chance to go to a real school as much as she longed to be free. Oliver went to the Janesville Academy, and later to Beloit College, but she could get only fleeting glimpses of his more satisfying life through the books he brought home and his talks of lectures and professors. She remembered those far-off days at Oberlin as a golden time indeed. There even a girl might have the chance to learn the things that would set her mind and soul free.
It was a great day for Frances and Mary Willard when Mr. Hodge, a Yale man who was, like her father, exiled to a life in a new country, decided to open a school for the children of the neighboring farms. On the never-to-be-forgotten first day the girls got up long before light, put their tin pails of dinner and their satchels of books with their coats, hoods, and mufflers, and then stood watching the clock, whose provokingly measured ticks seemed entirely indifferent to the eager beating of their hearts. At last the hired man yoked the oxen to the long "bob-sled," and Oliver drove them over a new white road to the new school. The doors were not yet open.
"I told you it was much too early," said Oliver. "The idea of being so crazy over the opening of a little two-by-four school like this!"
"It does look like a sort of big ground-nut," said Frank, with a laugh, "but it's ours to crack. Besides, we have a Yale graduate to teach us, and Beloit can't beat that!"
"Let's go over to Mr. Hodge's for the key, and make the fire for him," suggested Mary.
There was an unusually long entry in Frank's diary that night:
At last Professor Hodge appeared, in his long-tailed blue coat with brass buttons, carrying an armful of school-books and a dinner-bell in his hand. He stood on the steps and rang the bell, long, loud, and merrily. My heart bounded, and I said inside of it, so that nobody heard: "At last we are going to school all by ourselves, Mary and I, and we are going to have advantages like other folks, just as Mother said we should." O! goody-goody-goody! I feel satisfied with the world, myself, and the rest of mankind.
This enthusiasm for school and study did not wane as the days went by. "I want to know everything--_everything_," Frank would declare vehemently. "It is only _knowing_ that can make one free."
The time came when she was to go away to college. Wistfully she went about saying good-by to all the pleasant haunts about "Forest Home." For a long time she sat on her old perch in the "Eagle's nest," looking off towards the river and the hills.
"I think that as I know more, I live more," said Frank to her mother that night. "I am alive to so many things now that I never thought of six months ago; and everything is dearer--is more a part of myself."
[Illustration: The Statue of Miss Willard in the Capitol of Washington]
The North-West Female College, at Evanston, Illinois, was Frank's alma mater. Here her love of learning made her a leader in all her classes; and her originality, daring, and personal charm made her a leader in the social life of the students. She was editor of the college paper, and first fun-maker of a lively clan whose chief delight it was to shock some of their meek classmates out of their unthinking "goody-goodness." She was known, for instance, to have climbed into the steeple and to have remained on her giddy perch during an entire recitation period in the higher mathematics.
In her days of teaching, Frank was the same alert, free, eager-minded, fun-loving girl. First in a country school near Chicago, and afterward in a seminary in Pittsburg, she was a successful teacher because she never ceased to be a learner.
"Frank, you have the _hungriest_ soul I ever saw in a human being. It will never be satisfied!" said one of her friends.
"I shall never be satisfied until I have entered every open door, and I shall not go in alone," said Frank.
In all of her pursuit of knowledge and culture she was intensely social. She was always learning with others and for others. A bit from her diary in 1866 reveals the spirit in which she worked:
I read a good deal and learn ever so many new things every day. I get so hungry to know things. I'll teach these girls as well as possible.... Girls, girls, girls! Questions upon questions. Dear me, it is no small undertaking to be elder sister to the whole 180 of them. They treat me beautifully, and I think I reciprocate.
"Miss Willard seems to see us not as we are, but as we hope we are becoming," one of her girls said. "And so we simply _have_ to do what she believes we can do."
No one was a stranger or indifferent to her. When her clear blue eyes looked into the eyes of another, they always saw a friend.
Through these early years of teaching Frances Willard was learning not only from constant study and work with others, but also from sorrow. Her sister Mary was taken from her. The story of what her gentle life and loving comradeship meant to Frank is told in the first and best of Miss Willard's books, "Nineteen Beautiful Years," which gives many delightful glimpses of their childhood on the Wisconsin farm and the school-girl years together. Soon after Mary's death "Forest Home" was sold and the family separated. Frank wrote in her journal at this time:
I am to lose sight of the old familiar landmarks; old things are passing from me, whose love is for old things. I am pushing out all by myself into the wide, wide sea.
The writing of the story of Mary's life, together with essays and articles of general interest for the papers and magazines, "took the harm out of life for a while." In all her writing, as in her teaching and later in her public speaking, her instinctive faith in people was the secret of her power and influence as a leader.
"For myself, I liked the world, believed it friendly, and could see no reason why I might not confide in it," she said.
When another sorrow, the loss of her father, threatened to darken her life for a time, a friend came to the rescue and "opened a new door" for her--the door of travel and study abroad. They lived for two and a half years in Europe, and made a journey to Syria and Egypt. During much of this time Miss Willard spent nine hours a day in study. She longed to make her own the impressions of beauty and the haunting charm of the past.
"I must really enter into the life of each place," she said, "if it is only for a few weeks or months. I want to feel that I have a right to the landscape--that I'm not just an intruding tourist, caring only for random sight-seeing."
But Miss Willard brought back much more than a general culture gained through a study of art, history, and literature, and a contact with civilization. She gained, above all, a vital interest in conditions of life, particularly those that concern women and their opportunities for education, self-expression, and service. The Frances E. Willard that the world knows, the organizer and leader in social reform, was born at this time. On her thirtieth birthday she wrote:
I can _do_ so much more when I go home. I shall have a hold on life, and a fitness for it so much more assured. Perhaps--who knows?--there may be noble, wide-reaching work for me in the years ahead.
It seemed to Miss Willard, when she returned to her own country, that there was, after all, no land like America, and no spot anywhere so truly satisfying as Rest Cottage in Evanston, where her mother awaited her home-coming. A signal honor awaited her as well. She was called to be president of her alma mater; and when the college became a part of the North-Western University, she remained as Dean of Women.
At this time many towns and cities of the Middle West were the scene of a strange, pathetic, and heart-stirring movement known as the Temperance Crusade. Gentle, home-loving women, white-haired mothers bent with toil and grief, marched through the streets, singing hymns, praying, and making direct appeals to keepers of saloons "for the sake of humanity and their own souls' sake to quit their soul-destroying business." Their very weakness was their strength. Their simple faith and the things they had suffered through the drink evil pleaded for them. A great religious revival was under way.
In Chicago a band of women who were marching to the City Council to ask that the law for Sunday closing of saloons be enforced were rudely jostled and insulted by a mob. Miss Willard, who had before been deeply stirred by the movement, was now thoroughly aroused. She made several eloquent speeches in behalf of the cause, which was, she said, "everybody's war." Her first instinct was to leave her college and give her all to the work. Then it seemed to her that she ought to help just where she was--that everybody ought. So, just where she was, the young dean devoted her power of eloquent speech and her influence with people to the cause. Day by day her interest in reform became more absorbing. She realized that the early fervor and enthusiasm of the movement needed to be strengthened by "sober second thought" and sound organization.
"If I only had more time--if I were more free!" she exclaimed.
Then the turn of events did indeed free her from her responsibility to her college. A change of policy so altered the conditions of her work that she decided to resign her charge and go east to study the temperance movement. The time came when she had to make a final choice. Two letters reached her on the same day: One asked her to assume the principal-ship of an important school in New York at a large salary; the other begged her to take charge of the Chicago branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union at no salary at all. The girl who had worshiped culture and lived in books decided to accept the second call; and turning her back on a brilliant career and worldly success, she threw in her lot with the most unpopular reform of the day. Frances Willard, the distinguished teacher, writer, and lecturer, became a crusader.
"How can you think it right to give up your interest in literature and art!" wailed one of her friends and admirers.
"What greater art than to try to restore the image of God to faces that have lost it?" replied Miss Willard.
Those early days in Chicago were a brave, splendid time. Often walking miles, because she had no money for car-fare, the inspired crusader "followed the gleam" of her vision of what this woman's movement might accomplish. Where others saw only an uncertain group of overwrought fanatics, she saw an organized army of earnest workers possessed of that "loftiest chivalry which comes as a sequel of their service to the weakest."
"I seemed to see the end from the beginning," she said; "and when one has done that, nothing can discourage or daunt."
Miss Willard often said that she was never happier than during this time, when her spirit was entirely free, because she neither longed for what the world could give nor feared what it might take away. She felt very near to the poor people among whom she worked.
"I am a better friend than you dream," she would say in her heart, while her eyes spoke her sympathy and understanding. "I know more about you than you think, for I am hungry, too."
Of course, in time, the women discovered that their valued leader did not have an independent income as they had imagined (since she had never seemed to give a thought to ways and means for herself), and a sufficient salary was provided for her. But always she spent her income as she spent herself--to the utmost for the work.
The secret of Miss Willard's success as a speaker lay in this entire giving of herself. The intensity of life, the irrepressible humor, the never-failing sympathy, the spirit that hungered after all that was beautiful shone in her clear eyes, and, in the pure, vibrant tones of her wonderful voice, went straight to the hearts of all who listened. She did not enter into her life as a crusader halt and maimed; all of the woman's varied interests and capacities were felt in the work of the reformer.
"She is a great orator because in her words the clear seeing of a perfectly poised mind and the warm feeling of an intensely sympathetic heart are wonderfully blended," said Henry Ward Beecher.
Miss Willard was not only a gifted speaker, whose pure, flame-like spirit enkindled faith and enthusiasm in others; she was also a rare organizer and indefatigable worker. As president of the National Union, she visited nearly every city and town in the United States, and, during a dozen years, averaged one meeting a day. The hours spent on trains were devoted to making plans and preparing addresses. On a trip up the Hudson, while everybody was on deck enjoying the scenery, Miss Willard remained in the cabin busy with pad and pencil.
"I know myself too well to venture out," she said to a friend who remonstrated with her. "There is work that must be done."
Under Miss Willard's leadership the work became a power in the life and progress of the nation and of humanity. There were those who objected the very breadth and inclusiveness of her sympathies and interests, and who protested against the "scatteration" policies, that would, they said, lead to no definite goal.
"I cannot see why any society should impose limitations on any good work," said this broad-minded leader. "Everything is not in the temperance movement, but the temperance movement should be in everything."
In 1898 the loyal crusader was called to lay down her arms and leave the battle to others. She had given so unstintedly to every good work all that she was, that at fifty-eight her powers of endurance were spent. "I am so tired--so tired," she said again and again; and at the last, with a serene smile, "How beautiful it is to be with God!"
In the great hall of the Capitol, where each State has been permitted to place statues of two of its most cherished leaders, Illinois has put the marble figure of Frances E. Willard, the only woman in a company of soldiers and statesmen. In presenting the statue to the nation, Mr. Foss, who represented Miss Willard's own district in Illinois, closed his address with these words:
Frances E. Willard once said: "If I were asked what was the true mission of the ideal woman, I would say, 'It is to make the whole world home-like.'" Illinois, therefore, presents this statue not only as a tribute to her whom it represents,--one of the foremost women of America,--but as a tribute to woman and her mighty influence upon our national life; to woman in the home; to woman wherever she is toiling for the good of humanity; to woman everywhere who has ever stood "For God, for home, for native land."
JULIA WARD HOWE: THE SINGER OF A NATION'S SONG
We have told the story of our mother's life, possibly at too great length; but she herself told it in eight words.
"Tell me," Maud asked her once, "what is the ideal aim of life?"
She paused a moment, and replied, dwelling thoughtfully on each word:
"To learn, to teach, to serve, to enjoy!"
_Life of Julia Ward Howe._
THE SINGER OF A NATION'S SONG
Two little girls were rolling hoops along the street when they suddenly caught them over their little bare arms and drew up close to the railings of a house on the corner.
"There is the wonderful coach and the little girl I told you about, Eliza," whispered Marietta, pushing back the straw bonnet that shaded her face from the sun and pointing with her stick.
It was truly a magnificent yellow coach, pulled by two proud gray horses. Even Cinderella's golden equipage could not have been more splendid. Moreover, the little girl who sat perched upon the bright-blue cushioned seat wore an elegant blue pelisse, that just matched the heavenly color of the lining, and a yellow-satin bonnet that was clearly inspired by the straw-colored outer shell of the chariot itself. The fair chubby face under the satin halo was turned toward the children, and a pair of clear gray eyes regarded them with eager interest.
"She looked as if she wanted to speak!" said Marietta, breathlessly. "Oh, Eliza, did you ever see any one so beautiful? Just like a doll or a fairy-tale princess!"
"Huh!" cried Eliza, the scornful; "didn't you see that she has red hair? Who ever heard of a doll or a princess with red hair?"
"Maybe a witch or a bad fairy turned her spun-gold locks red for spite," suggested Marietta. "Anyway, I wouldn't mind red hair if I was in her place--so rich and all. Wouldn't it be grand to ride in a fine coach and have everything you want even before you stop to wish for it!"
How astonished Marietta would have been if she could have known that the little lady in the chariot was wishing that she were a little girl with a hoop! For even when she was very small Julia Ward had other trials besides the red hair. Nowadays, people realize that red-gold hair is a true "crowning glory," but it wasn't the style to like it in 1825, at the time this story begins. So little Julia's mother tried her best to tone down the bright color with sobering washes and leaden combs. One day, however, the child heard a visitor say, "Your little girl is very beautiful; her hair is pretty, too, with that lovely complexion."
Eagerly Julia climbed upon a chair and then on the high, old-fashioned dressing-table, so that she could gaze in the mirror to her heart's content. "Is that all?" she cried after a moment, and scrambled down, greatly disappointed.
Eliza and Marietta would have been truly amazed if they had known that the little queen of the splendid coach had very little chance for the good times that a child loves. In these days I really believe that people would pity her and say, "Poor little rich girl!" She was brought up with the greatest strictness. There were many lessons,--French, Latin, music, and dancing--for she must have an education that would fit her to shine in her high station. When she went out for an airing, it was always in the big coach, "like a little lady." There was never a chance for a hop-skip-and-jump play-hour. Her delicate cambric dresses and kid slippers were only suited to sedate indoor ways, and even when she was taken to the sea-shore for a holiday, her face was covered with a thick green veil to keep her fair skin from all spot and blemish. Dignity and Duty were the guardian geniuses of Julia Ward's childhood.
Her father, Samuel Ward, was a rich New York banker, with a fine American sense of _noblesse oblige_. He believed that a man's wealth and influence spell strict accountability to his country and to God, and he lived according to that belief. He believed that as a banker his most vital concern was not to make himself richer and richer, but to manage money matters in such a way as to serve his city and the nation as a whole. In those times of financial stress which came to America in the early part of the nineteenth century, his heroic efforts more than once enabled his bank to weather a financial storm and uphold the credit of the State. On one occasion his loyalty and unflagging zeal secured a loan of five million dollars from the Bank of England in the nick of time to avert disaster.
"Julia," cried her brother, who had just come in from Wall Street, "men have been going up and down the office stairs all day long, carrying little wooden kegs of gold on their backs, marked 'Prime, Ward & King' and filled with English gold!"
Mr. Ward, however, did not see the triumphal procession of the kegs; he was prostrated by a severe illness, due, it was said, to his too exacting labors. Years afterward, Mr. Ward's daughter said that her best inheritance from the old firm was the fact that her father had procured this loan which saved the honor of the Empire State.
"From the time I was a tiny child," said Julia Ward, "I had heard stories of my ancestors--colonial governors and officers in the Revolution, among whom were numbered General Nathanael Greene and General Marion, the 'Swamp Fox' whose 'fortress was the good green wood,' whose 'tent the cypress-tree.' When I thought of the brave and honorable men and the fair and prudent wives and daughters of the line, they seemed to pass before my unworthy self 'terrible as an army with banners'--but there was, too, the trumpet-call of inspiration in the thought that they were truly mine own people."
If a sense of duty and the trumpet-call of her forebears urged little Julia on to application in her early years, she soon learned to love study for its own sake. When, at nine years of age, she began to attend school, she listened to such purpose to the recitations of a class in Italian that she presently handed to the astonished principal a letter correctly written in that language, begging to be admitted to the study of the tongue whose soft musical vowels had charmed her ear. She had not only aptitude, but genuine fondness, for languages, and early tried various experiments in the use of her own. When a child of ten she began to write verse, and thereafter the expression of her thoughts and feelings in poetic form was as natural as breathing.
If you could have seen some of the solemn verses entitled, "All things shall pass," and, "We return no more," written by the child not yet in her teens, you might have said, "What an extraordinary little girl! Has she always been ill, or has she never had a chance for a good time?"
It was certainly true that life seemed a very serious thing to the child. Her eyes were continually turned inward, for they had not been taught to discover and enjoy the things of interest and delight in the real world. New York was in that interesting stage of its growth that followed upon the opening of the Erie Canal. Not yet a city of foreigners,--the melting-pot of all nations,--the commercial opportunities which better communication with the Great Lakes section gave caused unparalleled prosperity. In 1835 the metropolis had a population of 200,000; but Broadway was still in large part a street of dignified brick residences with bright green blinds and brass knockers, along which little girls could roll their hoops. Canal Street was a popular boulevard, with a canal bordered by trees running through the center and a driveway on either side; and the district neighboring on the Battery and Castle Garden was still a place of wealth and fashion.
It is to be doubted, however, if Julia Ward ever saw anything on her drives to call her out of her day-dreaming self. Nor had she eyes for the marvels of nature. The larkspurs and laburnums in the garden had no language that she could understand. "I grew up," she said, "with the city measure of the universe--my own house, somebody else's, the trees in the park, a strip of blue sky overhead, and a great deal about nature read from the best authors, most of which meant nothing at all. Years later I learned to enjoy the drowsy murmur of green fields in midsummer, the song of birds and the ways of shy wood-flowers, when my own children opened the door into that 'mighty world of eye and ear.'"
When Julia was sixteen, the return of her brother from Germany opened a new door of existence to her. She had just left school and had begun to study in real earnest. So serious was she in her devotion to her self-imposed tasks that she sometimes bade a maid tie her in a chair for a certain period. Thus, in bonds, with a mind set free from all temptation to roam, she wrestled with the difficulties of German grammar and came off victorious. But Brother Sam led her to an appreciation of something besides the poetry of Schiller and Goethe. He had a keen and wholesome enjoyment of the world of people, and in the end succeeded in giving his young sister a taste of natural youthful gaiety.
"Sir," said Samuel, Junior, to his father one evening, "you do not keep in view the importance of the social tie."
"The social what?" asked the amazed Puritan.
"The social tie, sir."
"I make small account of that," rejoined the father, coldly.
"I will die in defense of it!" retorted the son, hotly.
The young man found, however, that it was more agreeable to live for the social tie than to die for it. And Julia, beginning to long for something besides family evenings with books and music varied by an occasional lecture or a visit to the house of an uncle, seemed to herself "like a young damsel of olden times, shut up within an enchanted castle." When she was nineteen she decided upon a declaration of independence. If she could only muster the courage to meet her affectionate jailer face to face, she thought that the bars of his prejudice against fashionable society must surely fall.
"I am going to give a party--_a party of my very own_," she announced to her brothers; "and you must help me with the list of guests."
Having obtained her father's permission to invite a few friends "to spend the evening," she set about her preparations. This first party of her young life should, she resolved, be correct in every detail. The best caterer in New York was engaged, and a popular group of musicians. She even introduced a splendid cut-glass chandelier to supplement the conservative lighting of the drawing-room. "My first party must be a brilliant success," she said, with a smile and a determined tilt of her chin.
A brilliant company was gathered to do the débutante honor on the occasion of her audacious entrance into society. Mr. Ward showed no surprise, however, when he descended the stairs and appeared upon the festive scene. He greeted the guests courteously and watched the dancing without apparent displeasure. Julia, herself, betrayed no more excitement than seemed natural to the acknowledged belle of the evening, but her heart was beating in a fashion not quite in tune with the music of the fiddles. When the last guest had departed she went, according to custom, to bid her father good night. And now came the greatest surprise of all! Mr. Ward took the young girl's hand in his. "My daughter," he said with tender gravity, "I was surprised to see that your idea of 'a few friends' differed widely from mine. After this you need not hesitate to consult me freely and frankly about what you want to do." Then, kissing her good night with his usual affection, he dismissed the subject forever.
Julia's brief skirmish for independence proved not a rebellion, but a revolution. Her brother's marriage to Miss Emily Astor introduced an era of gaiety at this time; and when the young girl had once fairly taken her place in society, there was no such thing as going back to the old life. "Jolie Julie," as she was lovingly called in the home-circle, became a reigning favorite. Even rumors of her amazing blue-stocking tendencies could not spoil her success. It was whispered that she was given to quoting German philosophy and French poetry. "I believe she dreams in Italian," vowed one greatly awed damsel.
However that might be, "Jolie Julie" certainly had a place in the dreams of many. Her beauty and charm won all hearts. The bright hair was now an acknowledged glory above the apple-blossom fairness of her youthful bloom. But it was not alone the loveliness of the delicately molded features and the tender brightness of the clear gray eyes that made her a success. Notwithstanding the early neglect of "the social tie," it was soon plain that she had the unfailing tact, the ready wit, and native good humor that are the chief assets of the social leader who is "born to the purple." Besides, Miss Ward's unusual acquirements could be turned so as to masquerade, in their rosy linings, as accomplishments. Her musical gifts were not reserved for hours of solitary musing, but were freely devoted to the pleasure of her friends; and even the lofty poetic Muse could on occasion indulge in a comic gambol to the great delight of her intimates.
Miss Ward soon tried her wings in other spheres beyond New York. She found a ready welcome in Boston's select inner circle, where she made the acquaintance of Longfellow, Emerson, Whittier, Holmes, and other leading figures in the literary world. Charles Sumner, the brilliant statesman and reformer, was an intimate friend of her brother, and through him she met Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who not long after became her husband.
From both Longfellow and Sumner Miss Ward had heard glowing accounts of their friend Howe, who was, they declared, the truest hero that America and the nineteenth century had produced and the best of good comrades. He had earned the name of "Chevalier" among his friends because he was "a true Bayard, without fear and without reproach," and because he had, moreover, been made a Knight of St. George by the King of Greece for distinguished services during the Greek war for independence. For six years he had fought with the patriots, both in the field and as surgeon-in-chief. While in hiding with his wounded among the bare rocks of the heights, he had sometimes nothing to eat but roasted wasps and mountain snails. When the people were without food, he had returned to America, related far and wide the story of Greece's struggles and dire need, and brought back a shipload of food and clothing. Having relieved the distress of the people, he had helped them to get in touch with normal existence once more by putting them to work. A hospital was built, and a mole to enclose the harbor at Ægina. Then, after seeing the hitherto distracted peasants begin a new life as self-respecting farmers, he had returned to America.
[Illustration: Julia Ward Howe]
At this time he was doing pioneer work in the education of the blind. As director of the Perkins Institution, in Boston, he was not only laboring to make more efficient this first school for the blind in America, but he was also going about through the country with his pupils to show something of what might be done in the way of practical training, in order to induce the legislatures of the several States to provide similar institutions for those deprived of sight. In particular, Dr. Howe's success in teaching Laura Bridgman, a blind deaf-mute, was the marvel of the civilized world.
One day, when Longfellow and Sumner were calling upon Miss Ward, they suggested driving over to the Perkins Institution. When they arrived the hero of the hour--and the place--was absent. Before they left, however, Mr. Sumner, who had been looking out of the window, suddenly exclaimed, "There is Howe now on his black horse!" Miss Ward looked with considerable eagerness in her curiosity, and saw, as she afterward said, "a noble rider on a noble steed."
In this way the Chevalier rode into the life of the fair lady. As the knight of the ballad swung the maiden of his choice to the croup of his charger and galloped off with her in the face of her helpless kinsmen, so this serious philanthropist and reformer carried off the lovely society favorite, in spite of the fact that he cared not at all for her gay, care-free world, and was, moreover, twenty years her senior. The following portion of a letter which Miss Ward wrote to her brother Sam shows how completely she was won:
The Chevalier says truly--I am the captive of his bow and spear. His true devotion has won me from the world and from myself. The past is already fading from my sight; already I begin to live with him in the future, which shall be as calmly bright as true love can make it. I am perfectly satisfied to sacrifice to one so noble and earnest the day-dreams of my youth.
Dr. Howe and his bride went to Europe on their wedding-trip--on the same steamer with Horace Mann and his newly made wife, Mary Peabody, the sister of Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne. The teacher of Laura Bridgman was well known in England through Dickens's "American Notes," and people were anxious to do him honor. Dickens not only invited the interesting Americans to dinner, but he offered to pilot Dr. Howe and his brother reformer, Horace Mann, about darkest London and show them the haunts of misery and crime which no one knew better than the author of "Oliver Twist," "Little Dorrit," and "Bleak House." The following note, written in Dickens's characteristic hand, shows the zest with which the great novelist undertook these expeditions and his boyish love of fun:
My dear Howe,--Drive to-night to St. Giles's Church. Be there at half past 11--and wait. Somebody will put his head into the coach after a Venetian and mysterious fashion, and breathe your name. Follow that man. Trust him to the death.
So no more at present from
Ninth June, 1843. THE MASK.
It had been the plan to go from England to Berlin; but Dr. Howe, who had once incurred the displeasure of the king of Prussia by giving aid to certain Polish refugees, and had, indeed, been held for five weeks in a German prison, was now excluded from the country as a "dangerous person." This greatly amused Horace Mann, who remarked, "When we consider that His Majesty has 200,000 men constantly under arms, and can in need increase the number to two million, we begin to appreciate the estimation in which he holds your single self." When, some years later, the king sent Dr. Howe a medal in recognition of his work for the blind, the Chevalier declared laughingly: "It is worth just what I was obliged to pay for board and lodging while in the Berlin prison. His Majesty is magnanimous!"
After traveling through Switzerland, Italy, and France, the Howes stopped for a second visit to England, where they were entertained for a time by the parents of Florence Nightingale. A warm attachment sprang up between them and the earnest young woman of twenty-four.
"I want to ask your advice, Dr. Howe," said Miss Nightingale, one day. "Would it be unsuitable for a young Englishwoman to devote herself to works of charity in hospitals and wherever needed, just as the Catholic sisters do?"
The doctor replied gravely, "My dear Miss Florence, it would be unusual, and in England whatever is unusual is apt to be thought unsuitable; but I say to you, go forward, if you have a vocation for that way of life; act up to your inspiration, and you will find that there is never anything unbecoming or unladylike in doing your duty for the good of others."
After the Howes had returned to Boston and settled down to the work-a-day order in the Institution the young wife's loyalty to the new life was often sorely tried. She loved the sunshine of the bright, gracious world of leisurely, happy people, and she felt herself chilled in this bleak gray place of sober duties. If only she could warm herself at the fire of friendship oftener! But all the pleasant people lived in pleasant places too far from the South Boston institution for the give and take of easy intercourse. Dr. Howe, moreover, was much of the time so absorbed in the causes of which he was champion-in-chief that few hours were saved for quiet fireside enjoyment.
"I hardly know what I should have done in those days," said Mrs. Howe, "without the companionship of my babies and Miss Catherine Beecher's cook-book."
The Chevalier loved to invite for a weekly dinner his especial group of intimates--five choice spirits, among whom Longfellow and Sumner were numbered, who styled themselves "The Five of Clubs." These dinners brought many new problems to the young hostess, who now wished that some portion of her girlhood days lavished on Italian and music had been devoted to the more intimate side of menus. However, she was before long able to take pride in her puddings without renouncing poetry; and to keep an eye on the economy of the kitchen and her sense of humor at the same time, as the following extract from a breezy letter to her sister Louisa can testify:
Our house has been enlivened of late by two delightful visits. The first was from the soap-fat merchant, who gave me thirty-four pounds of good soap for my grease. I was quite beside myself with joy, capered about in the most enthusiastic manner, and was going to hug in turn the soap, the grease, and the man, when I reflected that it would not sound well in history. This morning came the rag man, who takes rags and gives nice tin vessels in exchange.... Both of these were clever transactions. Oh, if you had seen me stand by the soap-fat man, and scrutinize his weights and measures, telling him again and again that it was beautiful grease, and that he must allow me a good price for it--truly, I am a mother in Israel.
The hours spent with her wee daughters were happy times. Sometimes she improvised jingles to amuse Baby Flossy (Florence, after Florence Nightingale) and tease the absorbed father-reformer at the same time:
Rero, rero, riddlety rad, This morning my baby caught sight of her dad, Quoth she, "Oh, Daddy, where have you been?" "With Mann and Sumner a-putting down sin!"
Sometimes she sang little bedtime rhymes about lambs and baby birds, sheep and sleep; and, when the small auditors demanded that their particular pets have a part in the song, readily added:
The little donkey in the stable Sleeps as sound as he is able; All things now their rest pursue, You are sleepy too.
As soon as Dr. Howe could find a suitable place near the Institution he moved his little family into a home of their own. On the bright summer day when Mrs. Howe drove under the bower formed by the fine old trees that guarded the house, she exclaimed, "Oh, this is green peace!" And "Green Peace" their home was called from that day. The children enjoyed here healthful outdoor times and happy indoor frolics--plays given at their dolls' theater, when father and mother worked the puppets to a dialogue of squeaks and grunts; and really-truly plays, such as "The Three Bears" (when Father distinguished himself as the Great Big Huge Bear), "The Rose and the Ring," and "Bluebeard."
In the midst of the joys and cares of such a rich home-life, how was it that the busy mother still found time for study and writing? For she was always a student, keeping her mind in training as an athlete keeps his muscles; and the need of finding expression in words for her inner life became more insistent as time went on. One of her daughters once said:
"It was a matter of course to us children that 'Papa and Mamma' should play with us, sing to us, tell us stories, bathe our bumps, and accompany us to the dentist; these were the things that papas and mammas did! Looking back now with some realization of all the other things they did, we wonder how they managed it. For one thing, both were rapid workers; for another, both had the power of leading and inspiring others to work; for a third, so far as we can see, neither wasted a moment; for a fourth, neither ever reached a point where there was not some other task ahead, to be begun as soon as might be."
Life with the beloved reformer was often far from easy, but there were never any regrets for the old care-free days. "I shipped as captain's mate for the voyage!" she said on one occasion, with a merry laugh that was like a heartening cheer; and then she added seriously, "I cannot imagine a more useful motto for married life." Always she realized that she owed all that was deepest and most steadfast in herself to this union. "But for the Chevalier, I should have been merely a woman of the world and a literary dabbler!" she said.
A volume of verse, "Passion Flowers," was praised by Longfellow and Whittier and won a wide popularity. A later collection, "Words for the Hour," was, on the whole, better, but not so much read. Still, the woman felt that she had not yet really found herself in her work. She longed to give something that was vital--something that would fill a need and make a difference to people in the real world of action.
The days of the Civil War made every earnest spirit long to be of some service to the nation and to humanity. Dr. Howe and his friend were among the leaders of the Abolitionists at the time when they were a despised "party of cranks and martyrs." It was small wonder that, when the struggle came, Mrs. Howe's soul was fired with the desire to help. There seemed nothing that she could do but scrape lint for the hospitals--which any other woman could do equally well. If only her poetic gift were not such a slender reed--if she could but command an instrument of trumpet strength to voice the spirit of the hour!
In this mood she had gone to Washington to see a review of the troops. On returning, while her carriage was delayed by the marching regiments, her companions tried to relieve the tensity and tedium of the wait by singing war songs, among others:
"John Brown's body lies a-moldering in the grave; His soul is marching on!"
The passing soldiers caught at this with a "Good for you!" and joined in the chorus. "Mrs. Howe," said her minister, James Freeman Clarke, who was one of the company, "why do you not write some really worthy words for that stirring tune?"
"I have often wished to do so," she replied.
Let us tell the story of the writing of the "nation's song" as her daughters have told it in the biography of their mother:
Waking in the gray of the next morning, as she lay waiting for the dawn the word came to her.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord--"
She lay perfectly still. Line by line, stanza by stanza, the words came sweeping on with the rhythm of marching feet, pauseless, resistless. She saw the long lines swinging into place before her eyes, heard the voice of the nation speaking through her lips. She waited till the voice was silent, till the last line was ended; then sprang from bed, and, groping for pen and paper, scrawled in the gray twilight the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
And so the "nation's song" was born. How did it come to pass that the people knew it as their own? When it appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly" it called forth little comment; the days gave small chance for the poetry of words. But some poets in the real world of deeds had seen it--the people who were fighting on the nation's battle-fields. And again and again it was sung and chanted as a prayer before battle and a trumpet-call to action. A certain fighting chaplain, who had committed it to memory, sang it one memorable night in Libby Prison, when the joyful tidings of the victory of Gettysburg had penetrated even those gloomy walls. "Like a flame the word flashed through the prison. Men leaped to their feet, shouted, embraced one another in a frenzy of joy and triumph; and Chaplain McCabe, standing in the middle of the room, lifted up his great voice and sang aloud:
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"
Every voice took up the chorus, and Libby Prison rang with the shout of 'Glory, glory, hallelujah!'"
Later, when Chaplain McCabe related to a great audience in Washington the story of that night and ended by singing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," as only one who has lived it can sing it, the voice of Abraham Lincoln was heard above the wild applause, calling, as the tears rolled down his cheeks, "Sing it again!"
It has been said that what a person does in some great moment of his life--in a moment of fiery trial or of high exaltation--is the result of all the thoughts and deeds of all the slow-changing days. So the habits of a lifetime cry out at last. Is it not true that this "nation's song," which seemed to write itself in a wonderful moment of inspiration, was really the expression of years of brave, faithful living? All the earnestness of the child, all the dreams and warm friendliness of the girl, all the tenderness and loyal devotion of the wife and mother, speak in those words. Nor is it the voice of her life alone. The trumpet-call of her forebears was in those stirring lines. Only a tried and true American, whose people had fought and suffered for freedom's sake, could have written that nation's song.
Julia Ward Howe's long life of ninety-one years was throughout one of service and inspiration. Many people were better and happier because of her life. It was a great moment when, on the occasion of any public gathering, the word went around that Mrs. Howe was present. With one accord those assembled would rise to their feet, and hall or theater would ring with the inspiring lines of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The man who said, "I care not who shall make the laws of the nation, if I may be permitted to make its songs," spoke wisely. A true song comes from the heart and goes to the heart. A nation's song is the voice of the heart and life of a whole people. In it the hearts of many beat together as one.
A CHAMPION OF "THE CAUSE":
ANNA HOWARD SHAW
Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great Cause more than life itself, and to have the privilege throughout life of working for that Cause.
ANNA HOWARD SHAW.
A CHAMPION OF "THE CAUSE"
A young girl was standing on a stump in the woods, waving her arms and talking very earnestly. There was no one there to listen except a robin a-tilt on a branch where the afternoon sun could turn his rusty brown breast to red, and a chattering, inquisitive bluejay. All the other little wood folk were in hiding. That strange creature was in the woods but not of them. She belonged to the world of people.
The girl knew that she belonged to a different world. She was not trying to play that she was a little American Saint Francis preaching to the birds in the forests of northern Michigan. She was looking past the great trees and all the busy life that lurked there to the far-away haunts of men. Somehow she felt that she would have something to say to them some day.
She raised her clasped hands high above her head and lifted her face to the patch of sky that gleamed deep blue between the golden-green branches of the trees. "There is much that I can say," she declared fervently. "I am only a girl, but I feel in my heart that some day people will listen to me."
A gray squirrel scampered noisily across the dry brown leaves and frisked up a tree trunk, where he clung for a moment regarding the girl on the stump with shining, curious eyes.
"Saucy nutcracker!" cried the child, tossing an acorn at the alert little creature. "Do you too think it strange for a girl to want to do things? What would you say if I should tell you that a young girl once led a great army to victory?--a poor girl who had to work hard all day just as I do? She did not know how to read or write, but she knew how to answer all the puzzling questions that the learned and powerful men of the day (who tried with all their might to trip her up) could think to ask. They called her a witch then. 'Of a truth this girl Joan must be possessed of an evil spirit,' they said. 'Who ever heard of a maid speaking as she speaks?' Years afterward they called her a saint. She was the leader of her people even though she was a girl--Now I don't mean, fellow birds and squirrels, that I expect to be another Joan of Arc, but I know that I shall be something!"
Anna Shaw's bright dark eyes glowed with intense feeling. Like the maid of whom she had been reading, she had her vision--a vision of a large, happy life waiting for her--little, untaught backwoods girl though she was. Her book led the way down a charmed path into the world of dreams. For the time she forgot the drudgery of the days--the plowing and planting and hoeing about the stumps of their little clearing, the cutting of wood, the carrying of water. She walked back to the cabin that was home, with her head held high and her lips parted in a smile. But all at once she was brought back to real things with a rude bump.
"What have you been doing, Anna?" demanded her father, who stood waiting for her in the doorway.
"Reading, sir," the girl faltered.
"So you have been _idling_ away precious hours at a time your mother has needed your help?" the stern voice went on accusingly. "What do you suppose the future will bring to one who has not proved 'faithful in little'?"
The girl looked at her father without speaking. She knew that her share in the work of the household was not "little." Her young hands hardened from rough toil twitched nervously; the injustice cut her to the quick. Couldn't her father imagine what holding down that claim in the woods had meant for the little family during the eighteen months that he and the two older boys had remained behind in the East? In his joy at securing the grant of land from the Government, he already pictured the well-conditioned farm that would one day be his and his children's. "The acorn was not an acorn, but a forest of young oaks."
In a flash she saw as if it were yesterday the afternoon when their pathetic little caravan had at last reached the home that awaited them. She saw the frail, tired mother give one glance at the rude log hut in the stump-filled clearing, and then sink in a despairing heap on the dirt floor. It was but the hollow shell of a cabin--walls and roof, with square holes for door and windows gaping forlornly at the home-seekers. She heard the wolves and wildcats as she had on that first night when they had huddled together--helpless creatures from another world--not knowing if their watch-fires would keep the hungry beasts at bay. She saw parties of Indians stalk by in war-paint and feathers. She saw herself, a child of twelve, trudging wearily to the distant creek for water until the time when, with her brother's help, she dug a well. There was, too, the work of laying a floor and putting in doors and windows. Like Robinson Crusoe, she had served a turn at every trade; to-day that of carpenter or builder, to-morrow that of farmer, fisherman, or woodcutter.
As these pictures flashed before the eye of memory she looked at her father quietly, without a word of defense or self-pity. All she said was, "Father, some day I am going to college."
The little smile that curled his lips as he looked his astonishment drove her to another boast. The dreams of the free calm woods and the heroic Maid of Orleans had faded away. Somehow she longed to put forth her claim in a way to impress any one, even a man who felt that a girl ought not to want anything but drudging. "And before I die I shall be worth $10,000," she prophesied boldly.
However, the months that succeeded gave no sign of any change of fortune. A sudden storm turned a day of toil now and then into a red-letter day when one had chance to read the books that father had brought with him into the wilderness. Sometimes one could stretch at ease on the floor and dreamily scan the pages of the "Weekly" that papered the walls. There was always abundant opportunity in the busy hours that followed to reflect on what one had read--to compare, to contrast, and to apply, and so to annex for good and all the ideas that the books had to give.
It was clear, too, that there were many interesting things to be seen and enjoyed even in the most humdrum work-a-day round, if one were able to read real life as well as print. Could anything be more delightful than the way father would drop his hoe and run into the house to work out a problem concerning the yield of a certain number of kernels of corn? The days would go by while he calculated and speculated energetically over this problem and that, leaving such trivial tasks as planting and plowing to others. Then there were the weekend visitors. Often as many as ten or a dozen of the neighboring settlers--big lumbermen and farmers--would come on Saturday, to spend the night and Sunday listening to her father read. When it was delicately hinted that this was a tax on the family store of tallow dips, each man dutifully brought a candle to light the way to learning. It never seemed to occur, either to them or to the impractical father, who liked nothing better than reading and expounding, that the entertainment of so many guests was a severe tax on the strength and patience of the working members of the household.
But life was not all labor. There was now and then a wonderful ball at Big Rapids, then a booming lumber town. When it was impossible to get any sort of a team to make the journey, they went down the river on a raft, taking their party dresses in trunks. As balls, like other good things in pioneer experience, were all too rare, it was the custom to make the most of each occasion by changing one's costume at midnight, and thus starting off with fresh enthusiasm to dance the "money musk" and the "Virginia reel" in the small hours.
"Our costumes in those days had at least the spice of originality," said Miss Shaw with a reminiscent smile. "I well remember a certain gay ball gown of my own, made of bedroom chintz; and the home-tailored trousers of my gallant swain, whose economical mother had employed flour sacks, on which the local firm-name and the guarantee, '96 pounds,' appeared indelibly imprinted. A blue flannel shirt and a festive yellow sash completed his interesting outfit."
When Anna Shaw was fifteen she began to teach in the little log schoolhouse of the settlement for two dollars a week and "board round." The day's work often meant a walk of from three to six miles, a trip to the woods for fuel, the making of the wood fire and the partial drying of rain-soaked clothes, before instruction began. Then imagine the child of fifteen teaching fifteen children of assorted ages and dispositions out of fifteen different "reading books," most of which she had herself supplied. "I remember that one little girl read from a hymn-book, while another had an almanac," she said.
As there was no money for such luxuries as education until the dog-tax had been collected, the young teacher received one bright spring day the dazzling sum of twenty-six dollars for the entire term of thirteen weeks. In the spending of this wealth, spring and youth carried the day. Joan of Arc and the preaching in the woods were for the time forgotten; she longed above everything else to have some of the pretty things that all girls love. Making a pilgrimage to a real shop, she bought her first real party dress--a splendid creation of rich magenta color, elaborately decorated with black braid.
Perhaps she regretted all too soon the rashness of this expenditure, for the next year brought hard times. War had been declared, and Lincoln's call for troops had taken all the able-bodied men of the community. "When news came that Fort Sumter had been fired on," said Miss Shaw, "our men were threshing. I remember seeing a man ride up on horseback, shouting out Lincoln's demand for troops and explaining that a regiment was being formed at Big Rapids. Before he had finished speaking the men on the machine had leaped to the ground and rushed off to enlist, my brother Jack, who had recently joined us, among them."
Anna Shaw was now the chief support of the little home in the wilderness, and the pitiful sum earned by teaching had to be eked out by boarding the workers from the lumber-camps and taking in sewing, in order to pay the taxes and meet the bare necessities of life. With calico selling for fifty cents a yard, coffee for a dollar a pound, and everything else in proportion, one cannot but marvel how the women and children managed to exist. They struggled along, with hearts heavy with anxiety for loved ones on the battle-fields, to do as best they could the work of the men--gathering in the crops, grinding the corn, and caring for the cattle--in addition to the homekeeping tasks of the daily round. It takes, perhaps, more courage and endurance to be a faithful member of the home army than it does to march into battle with bands playing and colors flying.
When, at the end of the war, the return of the father and brothers freed her from the responsibility for the upkeep of the home, Anna Shaw determined upon a bold step. Realizing that years must pass before she could save enough from her earnings as country school-teacher to go to college, she went to live with a married sister in Big Rapids and entered as a pupil in the high school there. The preceptress, Miss Lucy Foot, who was a college graduate and a woman of unusual strength of character, took a lively interest in the new student and encouraged her ambition to preach by putting her in the classes in public speaking and debating.
"I vividly remember my first recitation in public," said Miss Shaw. "I was so overcome by the impressiveness of the audience and the occasion, and so appalled at my own boldness in standing there, that I sank in a faint on the platform. Sympathetic classmates carried me out and revived me, after which they naturally assumed that the entertainment I furnished was over for the evening. I, however, felt that if I let that failure stand against me I could never afterward speak in public; and within ten minutes, notwithstanding the protests of my friends, I was back in the hall and beginning my recitation a second time. The audience gave me its eager attention. Possibly it hoped to see me topple off the platform again, but nothing of the sort occurred. I went through the recitation with self-possession and received some friendly applause at the end."
After this maiden speech, the young girl appeared frequently in public, now in school debates, now in amateur theatricals. It was as if the Fates had her case particularly in hand at this time, for everything seemed to further the secret longing that had possessed her ever since the days when she had preached to the trees in the forest.
There was a growing sentiment in favor of licensing women to preach in the Methodist Church, and Dr. Peck, the presiding elder of the Big Rapids district, who was chief among the advocates of the movement, was anxious to present the first woman candidate for the ministry. Meeting the alert, ardent young student at the home of her teacher, Dr. Peck took pains to draw her into conversation. Soon she was talking freely, with eager animation, and her questioner was listening with interest, nodding approval now and then. Then an amazing thing happened. Dr. Peck looked at her smilingly and asked in an off-hand manner:
"Would you like to preach the quarterly sermon at Ashton?"
The young woman gasped; she stared at the good man in astonishment. Then she realized that he was speaking in entire seriousness.
"Why," she stammered, "I can't preach a sermon!"
"Have you ever tried?" he asked.
"Never!" she began, and then as the picture of her childish self standing on the stump in the sunlit woods flashed upon her, "Never to human beings!" she amended.
Dr. Peck was smiling again. "Well," he said, "the door is open. Enter or not, as you wish."
After much serious counsel with Miss Foot and with her own soul, Anna Shaw determined to go in at the open door. For six weeks the preparation of the first sermon engaged most of her waking thoughts, and even in her dreams the text she had chosen sounded in her ears. It was, moreover, a time of no little anguish of spirit because of the consternation with which her family regarded her unusual "call." One might as well be guilty of crime, it appeared, as to be so forward and unwomanly. Finding it impossible to bring her to reason in any other way, they tried a bribe. After a solemn gathering of the clans, it was agreed that if she would give up this insane ambition to preach, they would send her to college--to Ann Arbor--and defray all her expenses. The thought of Ann Arbor was a sore temptation; but she realized that she could no more be faithless to the vision that had been with her from childhood than she could cease being herself.
The momentous first sermon was the forerunner of many others in different places, and when at the conference the members were asked to vote whether she should be licensed as a local preacher, the majority of the ministers raised both hands!
She was, however, still regarded as the black sheep of the family, and it was with a heavy spirit that she plodded on day by day with her studies. Surely nobody was ever more in need of a friendly word than was Anna Shaw at the time that Mary A. Livermore came to lecture in Big Rapids. At the close of the meeting she was among those gathered in a circle about the distinguished speaker, when some one pointed her out, remarking that "there was a young person who wanted to preach in spite of the opposition and entreaties of all her friends."
Mrs. Livermore looked into Anna Shaw's glowing eyes with sudden interest; then she put her arm about her and said quietly, "My dear, if you want to preach, go on and preach. No matter what people say, don't let them stop you!"
Before Miss Shaw could choke back her emotion sufficiently to reply, one of her good friends exclaimed: "Oh, Mrs. Livermore, don't say that to her! We're all trying to stop her. Her people are wretched over the whole thing. And don't you see how ill she is? She has one foot in the grave and the other almost there!"
"Yes," said Mrs. Livermore, looking thoughtfully at the white face that was turned appealingly toward her, "I see she has. But it is better that she should die doing the thing she wants to do than that she should die because she can't do it."
"So they think I'm going to die!" cried Miss Shaw. "Well, I'm not! I'm going to live and preach!"
[Illustration: _Photo by Brown Bros._
Anna Howard Shaw]
With renewed zeal and courage she turned again to her books, and, in the autumn of 1873, entered Albion College. "With only eighteen dollars as my entire capital," she said, "and not the least idea how I might add to it, I was approaching the campus when I picked up a copper cent bearing the date of my birth, 1848. It seemed to me a good omen, and I was sure of it when within the week I found two more pennies exactly like it. Though I have more than once been tempted to spend those pennies, I have them still--to my great comfort!"
At college she was distinguished for her independence of thought and for her alert, vigorous mind. When, on being invited to join the literary society that boasted both men and women members instead of the exclusively feminine group, she was assured that "women need to be associated with men because they don't know how to manage meetings," she replied with spirit:
"If they don't, it's high time they learned. I shall join the women, and we'll master the art."
Her gift as a public speaker not only earned her a place of prominence in her class through her able debates and orations, but it also helped pay her way through college, since she received now and then five dollars for a temperance talk in one of the near-by country schoolhouses. But such sums came at uncertain intervals, and her board bills came due with discouraging regularity. A gift of ninety-two dollars, sent at Christmas by her friends in Big Rapids, alone made it possible for her to get through the term.
Though the second year at Albion was comparatively smooth sailing because her reputation had brought enough "calls" to preach and lecture to defray her modest expenses, she decided to go to Boston University for her theological course. She was able to make her way in the West; why was it not possible to do the same in the place where she could get the needed equipment for her life work?
But she soon found what it means to be alone and penniless in a large city. Opportunities were few and hungry students were many. For the first time in her life she was tempted to give up and own herself beaten, when a sudden rift came in the clouds of discouragement. She was invited to assist in holding a "revival week" in one of the Boston churches.
It was soon evident that one could live on milk and crackers if only hope were added. The week's campaign was a great success. If she herself had not been able to feel the fervor and enthusiasm that the meetings had aroused, she could have no doubt when the minister assured her that her help had proved invaluable--that he greatly wished he were able to give her the fifty dollars, which at the very lowest estimate she deserved--but alas! he had nothing to offer but his heartfelt thanks!
When Miss Shaw passed out of the church her heart was indeed heavy. She had failed! "I was friendless, penniless, and starving," she said, "but it was not of these conditions that I thought then. The one overwhelming fact was that I had been weighed and found wanting. I was not worthy."
All at once she felt a touch on her arm. An old woman who had evidently been waiting for her to come out put a five-dollar bill in her hand. "I am a poor woman, Miss Shaw," she said, "but I have all I need, and I want to make you a little present, for I know how hard life must be for you young students. I'm the happiest woman in the world to-night, and I owe my happiness to you. You have converted my grandson, who is all I have left, and he is going to lead a different life."
"This is the biggest gift I have ever had," cried Miss Shaw. "This little bill is big enough to carry my future on its back!"
This was indeed the turning point. Here was enough for food and shoes, but it was much more than that. It was a sign that she had her place in the great world. There was need of what she could do, and there could be no more doubt that _her_ needs would be met. Even though she could not see the path ahead she would never lose heart again.
The succeeding months brought not only the means to live but also the spirit to make the most of each day's living. "I graduated in a new black silk gown," she said, "with five dollars in my pocket, which I kept there during the graduation exercises. I felt special satisfaction in the possession of that money, for, notwithstanding the handicap of being a woman, I was said to be the only member of my class who had worked during the entire course, graduated free from debt, and had a new outfit as well as a few dollars in cash."
Miss Shaw's influence as a preacher may be illustrated by a single anecdote. In the months following her graduation she went on a trip to Europe, a friend having left her a bequest for that express purpose. While in Genoa she was asked to preach to the sailors in a gospel-ship in the harbor; but when she appeared it was evident that the missionary in charge had not understood that the minister he had invited was a woman. He was unhappy and apologetic in his introduction, and the weather-beaten tars, in their turn, looked both resentful and mocking. It was certainly a trying moment when Miss Shaw began to speak. She had never in her life felt more forlorn or more homesick, when all at once the thought flashed through her that back of those unfriendly faces that confronted her there were lonely souls just as hungry for home as she was. Impulsively stepping down from the pulpit so that she stood on a level with her hearers, she said:
"My friends, I hope you will forget everything that Dr. Blank has just said. It is true that I am a minister and that I came here to preach. But now I do not intend to preach--only to have a friendly talk, on a text that is not in the Bible. I am very far from home, and I feel as homesick as some of you men look. So my text is, 'Blessed are the homesick, for they shall go home.'"
Then out of the knowledge of sea-faring people which she had gained during summer vacations when she had "filled in" for the absent pastor of a little church on Cape Cod, she talked in a way that went straight to the hearts of the rough men gathered there. When she saw that the unpleasant grin had vanished from the face of the hardest old pirate of them all, she said: "When I came here I intended to preach a sermon on 'The Heavenly Vision.' Now I want to give you a glimpse of that in addition to the vision we have had of home."
After her return to America, Miss Shaw was called as pastor to a church at East Dennis, Cape Cod, and a few months later she was asked to hold services at another church about three miles distant. These two charges she held for seven happy years, rich in the opportunity for real service.
Feeling the need of knowing how to minister to the bodily needs of those she labored among, Miss Shaw took a course at the Boston Medical School, going to the city for a part of each week and graduating with the degree of M.D. in 1885. When some one who knew about her untiring work as leader and helper of the people to whom she preached, asked her how it had been possible for her to endure so great a strain, she replied cheerfully, "Congenial work, no matter how much there is of it, has never yet killed any one."
During the time of her medical studies when Miss Shaw was serving as volunteer doctor and nurse to the poor in the Boston slums, she became interested in the cause of woman suffrage--"The Cause" it was to her always in the years that succeeded. A new day had come with new needs. She saw that everywhere there were changed conditions and grave problems brought about by the entrance of women into the world of wage-earners; and she became convinced that only through an understanding and sharing of the responsibilities of citizenship by both men and women could the best interests of each community be served. She, therefore, gave up her church work on Cape Cod to become a lecturer in a larger field. For a while she devoted part of her time to the temperance crusade until that great leader of the woman's movement, Susan B. Anthony--"Aunt Susan," as she was affectionately called--persuaded her to give all her strength to the Cause.
Without an iron constitution and steady nerves, as well as an unfailing sense of humor, she could never have met the hardships and strange chances that were her portion in the years that succeeded. In order to meet the appointments of her lecture tours she was constantly traveling, often under the most untoward circumstances--now finding herself snow-bound in a small prairie town; now compelled to cross a swollen river on an uncertain trestle; now stricken with an attack of ptomaine poisoning while "on the road," with no one within call except a switchman in his signal-tower.
Perhaps more appalling than any or all of these tests was the occasion when she arrived in a town to find that the lecture committee had advertised her as "the lady who whistled before Queen Victoria," and announced that she would speak on "The Missing link." When she ventured to protest, the manager remarked amiably that they had "mixed her up with a Shaw lady that whistles."
"But I don't know anything about the 'missing link'!" continued Miss Shaw.
"Well, you see we chose that subject because they have been talking about it in the Debating Society, and we knew it would arouse interest," she was assured. "Just bring in a reference to it every now and then, and it'll be all right."
"Open the meeting with a song so that I can think for a minute and then I'll see what can be done," said Miss Shaw pluckily. As the expectant audience, led by the chairman, sang with patriotic fervor "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America," the shipwrecked lecturer managed to seize a straw of inspiration that turned in her grasp magically into a veritable life-preserver. "It is easy," she said to herself. "Woman is the missing link in our government. I'll give them a suffrage speech along that line."
Miss Shaw has labored many years for the Cause. She worked with courage, dignity, and unfailing common sense and good humor, in the day of small things when the suffrage pioneers were ridiculed by both men and women as a band of unwomanly "freaks" and fanatics. She has lived to see the Cause steadily grow in following and influence, and State after State (particularly those of the growing, progressive West) call upon women to share equally with men many of the duties of citizenship and social service. She has seen that in such States there is no disposition to go back to the old order of things, and that open-minded people freely admit that it is only a question of time until the more conservative parts of the country will fall into line and equal suffrage become nation wide.
Her days have been rich in happy work, large usefulness, and inspiring friendships. Many honors have been showered upon her both in her own country and abroad; but she has always looked upon the work which she has been privileged to do as making the best--and the most honorable--part of her life.
Once, while attending a general conference of women in Berlin, she won the interest and real friendship of a certain Italian princess, who invited her to visit at her castle in Italy and also to go with her to her mother's castle in Austria. As Miss Shaw was firm in declining these distinguished honors, the princess begged an explanation.
"Because, my dear princess," Miss Shaw explained, "I am a working-woman."
"Nobody need _know_ that," murmured the princess, calmly.
"On the contrary, it is the first thing I should explain," was the reply.
"But why?" demanded the princess.
"You are proud of your family, are you not?" asked Miss Shaw. "You are proud of your great line?"
"Assuredly," replied the princess.
"Very well," continued Miss Shaw. "I am proud, too. What I have done I have done unaided, and, to be frank with you, I rather approve of it. My work is my patent of nobility, and I am not willing to associate with those from whom it would have to be concealed or with those who would look down upon it."
Anna Howard Shaw's autobiography, which she calls "The Story of a Pioneer," is an absorbingly interesting and inspiring narrative. It gives with refreshing directness and wholesome appreciation the story of her struggles and her work, together with revealing glimpses of some of her comrades in the Cause; it is at once her own story and the story of the pioneer days of the movement to which she gave her rich gifts of mind and character. In conclusion she quotes a speech of a certain small niece, who was overheard trying to rouse her still smaller sister to noble indifference in the face of the ridicule of their playmates, who had laughed when they had bravely announced that they were suffragettes.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself," she demanded, "to stop just because you are laughed at once? Look at Aunt Anna! _She_ has been laughed at for hundreds of years!"
"I sometimes feel," added the Champion of the Cause, "that it has indeed been hundreds of years since my work began; and then again it seems so brief a time that, by listening for a moment, I fancy I can hear the echo of my childish voice preaching to the trees in the Michigan woods. But, long or short, the one sure thing is that, taking it all in all, the fight has been worth while. Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great Cause more than life itself, and to have the privilege throughout life of working for that Cause."
THE MAKING OF A PATRIOT:
Where is the true man's fatherland? Is it where he by chance is born? Doth not the yearning spirit scorn In such scant borders to be spanned? O yes! his fatherland must be As the blue heaven wide and free!
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
THE MAKING OF A PATRIOT
You know the story of "The Man without a Country"--the man who lost his country through his own fault. Can you imagine what it would mean to be a child without a country--to have no flag, no heroes, no true native land to which you belong as you belong to your family, and which in turn belongs to you? How would it seem to grow up without the feeling that you have a big country, a true fatherland to protect your home and your friends; to build schools for you; to give you parks and playgrounds, and clean, beautiful streets; to fight disease and many dangers on land and water for you?--This is the story of a little girl who was born in a land where she had no chance for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Far from being a true fatherland, her country was like the cruel stepmother of the old tales.
It was strange that one could be born in a country and yet have no right to live there! Little Maryashe (or Mashke, as she was called, because she was too tiny a girl for a big-sounding name) soon learned that the Russia where she was born was not her own country. It seemed that the Russians did not love her people, or want them to live in their big land. And yet there they were! Truly it was a strange world.
"Why is Father afraid of the police?" asked little Mashke. "He has done nothing wrong."
"My child, the trouble is that we can do nothing right!" cried her mother, wringing her hands. "Everything is wrong with us. We have no rights, nothing that we dare to call our own."
It seemed that Mashke's people had to live in a special part of the country called the "Pale of Settlement." It was against the law to go outside the Pale no matter how hard it was to make a living where many people of the same manner of life were herded together, no matter how much you longed to try your fortune in a new place. It was not a free land, this Polotzk where she had been born. It was a prison with iron laws that shut people away from any chance for happy living.
It is hard to live in a cage, be it large or small. Like a wild bird, the free human spirit beats its wings against any bars.
"Why, Mother, why is it that we must not go outside the Pale?" asked Mashke.
"Because the Czar and those others who have the power to make the laws do not love our people; they hate us and all our ways," was the reply.
"But why do they hate us, Mother?" persisted the child with big, earnest eyes.
"Because we are different; because we can never think like them and be like them. Their big Russia is not yet big enough to give people of another sort a chance to live and be happy in their own way."
Even in crowded Polotzk, though, with police spying on every side, there were happy days. There were the beautiful Friday afternoons when Mashke's father and mother came home early from the store to put off every sign of the work-a-day world and make ready for the Sabbath. The children were allowed to wear their holiday clothes and new shoes. They stepped about happily while their mother hid the great store keys and the money bag under her featherbed, and the grandmother sealed the oven and cleared every trace of work from the kitchen.
How Mashke loved the time of candle prayer! As she looked at the pure flame of her candle the light shone in her face and in her heart. Then she looked at the work-worn faces of her mother and grandmother. All the lines of care and trouble were smoothed away in the soft light. They had escaped from the prison of this unfriendly land with its hard laws and its hateful Pale. They were living in the dim but glorious Past, when their father's fathers had been a free nation in a land of their own.
But Mashke could not escape from the prison in that way. She was young and glad to be alive. Her candle shone for light and life to-day and to-morrow and to-morrow! There were no bars that could shut away her free spirit from the light.
How glad she was for life and sunlight on the peaceful Sabbath afternoons when, holding to her father's hand, she walked beyond the city streets along the riverside to the place where in blossoming orchards birds sang of the joyful life of the air, and where in newly plowed fields peasants sang the song of planting-time and the fruitful earth. Her heart leaped as she felt herself a part of the life that flowed through all things--river, air, earth, trees, birds, and happy, toiling people.
It seemed to Mashke that most of her days were passed in wondering--wondering about the strange world in which she found herself, and its strange ways. Of course she played as the children about her did, with her rag doll and her "jacks" made of the knuckle bones of sheep; and she learned to dance to the most spirited tune that could be coaxed from the teeth of a comb covered with a bit of paper. In winter she loved to climb in the bare sledge, which when not actively engaged in hauling wood could give a wonderful joy-ride to a party of happy youngsters, who cared nothing that their sleigh boasted only straw and burlap in place of cushions and fur robes, and a knotted rope in place of reins with jingling bells.
But always, winter and summer, in season and out of season, Mashke found herself wondering about the meaning of all the things that she saw and heard. She wondered about her hens who gave her eggs and broth, and feathers for her bed, all in exchange for her careless largess of grain. Did they ever feel that the barnyard was a prison? She wondered about the treadmill horse who went round and round to pump water for the public baths. Did he know that he was cheated out of the true life of a horse--work-time in cheerful partnership with man and play-time in the pasture with the fresh turf under his road-weary hoofs? Did the women, who toiled over the selfsame tasks in such a weary round that they looked forward to the change of wash-day at the river where they stood knee-deep in the water to rub and scrub their poor rags, know that they, too, were in a treadmill?--Sometimes she could not sleep for wondering, and would steal from her bed before daybreak to walk through the dewy grass of the yard and watch the blackness turn to soft, dreamy gray. Then the houses seemed like breathing creatures, and all the world was hushed and very sweet. Was there ever such a wonder as the coming of a new day?--As she watched it seemed that her spirit flew beyond the town, beyond the river and the glowing sky itself--touching, knowing, and loving all things. Her spirit was free!
Sometimes it seemed that the wings of her spirit could all but carry her little body up and away. She was indeed such a wee mite that they sometimes called her Mouse and Crumb and Poppy Seed. All of her eager, flaming life was in her questioning eyes and her dark, wayward curls. Because she was small and frail she was spared the hard work that early fell to the lot of her older, stronger sister. So it happened that she had time for her wonderings--time for her spirit to grow and try its wings.
Mashke was still a very little child when she learned a very big truth. She discovered that there were many prisons besides those made by Russian laws; she saw that her people often shut themselves up in prisons of their own making. There were hundreds of laws and observances--ways to wash, to eat, to dress, to work--which seemed to many as sacred as their faith in God. Doubtless the rules which were now only empty forms had once had meaning, such as the law forbidding her people to touch fire on the Sabbath, which came down from a time before matches or tinder-boxes when making a fire was hard work. But all good people observed the letter of the law, and, no matter what the need of mending a fire or a light, would wait for a Gentile helper to come to the rescue.
One memorable evening, however, Mashke saw her father, when he thought himself unobserved, quietly steal over to the table and turn down a troublesome lamp. The gleam of a new light came to the mind of the watching, wondering child at that moment. She began to understand that even her father, who was the wisest man in Polotzk, did many things because he feared to offend the prejudices of their people, just as he did many other things because of fear of the Russian police. There was more than one kind of a prison.
When Mashke was about ten years old a great change came to her life. Her father decided to go on a long journey to a place far from Polotzk and its rules of life, far from Russia and its laws of persecution and death, to a true Promised Land where all people, it was said, no matter what their nation and belief, were free to live and be happy in their own way. The name of this Promised Land was America. Some friendly people--the "emigration society," her father called them--made it possible for him to go try his fortune in the new country. Soon he would make a home there for them all.
At last the wonderful letter came--a long letter, and yet it could not tell the half of his joy in the Promised Land. He had not found riches--no, he had been obliged to borrow the money for the third-class tickets he was sending them--but he had found freedom. Best of all, his children might have the chance to go to school and learn the things that make a free life possible and worth while.
Mashke found that they had suddenly become the most important people in Polotzk. All the neighbors gathered about to see the marvelous tickets that could take a family across the sea. Cousins who had not thought of them for months came with gifts and pleadings for letters from the new world. "Do not forget us when you are so happy and grand," they said.
"You will see my boy, my Möshele," cried a poor mother again and again. "Ask him why he does not write to us these many months. If you do not find him in Boston maybe he will be in Balti-moreh. It is all America."
The day came at last when every stool and feather-bed was sold, and their clothes and all the poor treasures they could carry were wrapped in queer-looking bundles ready to be taken in their arms to the new home. All of Polotzk went to the station to wave gay handkerchiefs and bits of calico and wish them well. They soon found, however, that the way of the emigrant is hard. In order to reach the sea they had to go through Germany to Hamburg, and a fearful journey it proved to be. It was soon evident that the Russians were not the only cruel people in the world; the Germans were just as cruel in strange and unusual ways, and in a strange language.
They put the travelers in prison, for which they had a queer name, of course--"Quarantine," they called it. They drove them like cattle into a most unpleasant place, where their clothes were snatched off, their bodies rubbed with an evil, slippery substance, and their breath taken away by an unexpected shower that suddenly descended on their helpless heads. Their precious bundles, too, were tossed about rudely and steamed and smoked. As the poor victims sat wrapped in clouds of steam waiting for the final agony, their clothes were brought back, steaming like everything else, and somebody cried, "Quick! Quick! or you will lose your train!" It seemed that they were not to be murdered after all, but that this was just the German way of treating people whom they thought capable of carrying diseases about with them.
Then came the sixteen days on the big ship, when Mashke was too ill part of the time even to think about America. But there were better days, when the coming of morning found her near the rail gazing at the path of light that led across the shimmering waves into the heart of the golden sky. That way seemed like her own road ahead into the new life that awaited her.
The golden path really began at a Boston public school. Here Mashke stood in her new American dress of stiff calico and gave a new American name to the friendly teacher of the primer class. Mary Antin she was called from that day, all superfluous foreign letters being dropped off forever. As her father tried in his broken English to tell the teacher something of his hopes for his children, Mary knew by the look in his eyes that he, too, had a vision of the path of light. The teacher also saw that glowing, consecrated look and in a flash of insight comprehended something of his starved past and the future for which he longed. In his effort to make himself understood he talked with his hands, with his shoulders, with his eyes; beads of perspiration stood out on his earnest brow, and now he dropped back helplessly into Yiddish, now into Russian. "I cannot now learn what the world knows; I must work. But I bring my children--they go to school for me. I am American citizen; I want my children be American citizens."
The first thing was, of course, to make a beginning with the new language. Afterward when Mary Antin was asked to describe the way the teacher had worked with her foreign class she replied with a smile, "I can't vouch for the method, but the six children in my own particular group (ranging in age from six to fifteen--I was then twelve) attacked the see-the-cat and look-at-the-hen pages of our primers with the keenest zest, eager to find how the common world looked, smelled, and tasted in the strange speech, and we learned!" There was a dreadful time over learning to say _the_ without making a buzzing sound; even mastering the v's and w's was not so hard as that. It was indeed a proud day for Mary Antin when she could say "We went to the village after water," to her teacher's satisfaction.
How Mary Antin loved the American speech! She had a native gift for language, and gathered the phrases eagerly, lovingly, as one gathers flowers, ever reaching for more and still more. She said the words over and over to herself with shining eyes as the miser counts his gold. Soon she found that she was thinking in the beautiful English way. When she had been only four months at school she wrote a composition on _Snow_ that her teacher had printed in a school journal to show this foreign child's wonderful progress in the use of the new tongue. Here is a bit of that composition:
Now the trees are bare, and no flowers are to see in the fields and gardens (we all know why), and the whole world seems like a-sleep without the happy bird songs which left us till spring. But the snow which drove away all these pretty and happy things, try (as I think) not to make us at all unhappy; they covered up the branches of the trees, the fields, the gardens and houses, and the whole world looks like dressed in a beautiful white--instead of green--dress, with the sky looking down on it with a pale face....
At the middle of the year the child who had entered the primer class in September without a word of English was promoted to the fifth grade. She was indeed a proud girl when she went home with her big geography book making a broad foundation for all the rest of the pile, which she loved to carry back and forth just because it made her happy and proud to be seen in company with books.
"Look at that pale, hollow-chested girl with that load of books," said a kindly passer-by one day. "It is a shame the way children are overworked in school these days."
The child in question, however, would have had no basis for understanding the chance sympathy had she overheard the words. Her books were her dearest joy. They were indeed in a very real sense her only tangible possessions. All else was as yet "the stuff that dreams are made of." As she walked through the dingy, sordid streets her glorified eyes looked past the glimpses of unlovely life about her into a beautiful world of her own. If she felt any weight from the books she carried it was just a comfortable reminder that this new Mary Antin and the new life of glorious opportunity were real.
When she climbed the two flights of stairs to her wretched tenement her soul was not soiled by the dirt and squalor through which she passed. As she eagerly read, not only her school history but also every book she could find in the public library about the heroes of America, she did not see the moldy paper hanging in shreds from the walls or the grimy bricks of the neighboring factory that shut out the sunlight. Her look was for the things beyond the moment--the things that really mattered. How could the child feel poor and deprived when she knew that the city of Boston was hers!
As she walked every afternoon past the fine, dignified buildings and churches that flanked Copley Square to the imposing granite structure that held all her hero books, she walked as a princess into her palace. Could she not read for herself the inscription at the entrance: Public Library--Built by the People--Free to All--? Now she stood and looked about her and said, "This is real. This all belongs to these wide-awake children, these fine women, these learned men--and to _me_."
Every nook of the library that was open to the public became familiar to her; her eyes studied lovingly every painting and bit of mosaic. She spent hours pondering the vivid pictures by Abbey that tell in color the mystic story of Sir Galahad and the quest of the Holy Grail, and it seemed as if the spirit of all romance was hers. She lingered in the gallery before Sargent's pictures of the "Prophets," and it seemed as if the spirit of all the beautiful Sabbaths of her childhood stirred within her, as echoes of the Hebrew psalms awoke in her memory.
[Illustration: © _Falk_
When she went into the vast reading-room she always chose a place at the end where, looking up from her books, she could get the effect of the whole vista of splendid arches and earnest readers. It was in the courtyard, however, that she felt the keenest joy. Here the child born in the prison of the Pale realized to the full the glorious freedom that was hers.
"The courtyard was my sky-roofed chamber of dreams," she said. "Slowly strolling past the endless pillars of the colonnade, the fountain murmured in my ear of all the beautiful things in all the beautiful world. Here I liked to remind myself of Polotzk, the better to bring out the wonder of my life. That I who was brought up to my teens almost without a book should be set down in the midst of all the books that ever were written was a miracle as great as any on record. That an outcast should become a privileged citizen, that a beggar should dwell in a palace--this was a romance more thrilling than poet ever sung. Surely I was rocked in an enchanted cradle."
As Mary Antin's afternoons were made glorious by these visits to the public library, so her nights were lightened by rare half-hours on the South Boston Bridge where it crosses the Old Colony Railroad. As she looked down at the maze of tracks and the winking red and green signal lights, her soul leaped at the thought of the complex world in which she lived and the wonderful way in which it was ordered and controlled by the mind of man. Years afterward in telling about her dreams on the bridge she said:
"Then the blackness below me was split by the fiery eye of a monster engine, his breath enveloped me in blinding clouds, his long body shot by, rattling a hundred claws of steel, and he was gone. So would I be, swift on my rightful business, picking out my proper track from the million that cross it, pausing for no obstacles, sure of my goal."
Can you imagine how the child from Polotzk loved the land that had taken her to itself? As she stood up in school with the other children and saluted the Stars and Stripes, the words she said seemed to come from the depths of her soul: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands--one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Those were not words, they were heart throbs. The red of the flag was not just a bright color, it was the courage of heroes; the white was the symbol of truth clear as the sunlight; the blue was the symbol of the wide, free heavens--her spirit's fatherland. The child who had been born in prison, who had repeated at every Passover, "Next year, may we be in Jerusalem," had found all at once her true country, her flag, and her heroes. When the children rose to sing "America," she sang with all the pent-up feeling of starved years of exile:
I love thy rocks and rills, Thy woods and templed hills.
As the teacher looked into the glorified face of this little alien-citizen she said to herself, "There is the truest patriot of them all!"
Only once as they were singing "Land where my fathers died," the child's voice had faltered and died away. Her cheek paled when at the close of school she came to her teacher with her trouble.
"Oh, teacher," she mourned, "our country's song can't to mean me--_my_ fathers didn't die here!"
The friendly teacher, whose understanding and sympathy were never failing, understood now:
"Mary Antin," she said earnestly, looking through the child's great, dark eyes into the depths of her troubled soul, "you have as much right to those words as I or anybody else in America. The Pilgrim Fathers didn't all come here before the Revolution. Isn't your father just like them? Think of it, dear, how he left his home and came to a strange land where he couldn't even speak the language. And didn't he come looking for the same things? He wanted freedom for himself and his family, and a chance for his children to grow up wise and brave. It's the same story over again. Every ship that brings people from Russia and other countries where they are ill-treated is a _Mayflower_!"
These words took root in Mary Antin's heart and grew with her growth. The consciousness that she was in very truth an American glorified her days; it meant freedom from every prison. Seven years after her first appearance in the Boston primer class she entered Barnard College. After two years there and two more at Teachers College, she entered the school of life as a homemaker; her name is now Mary Antin Grabau. Besides caring for her home and her little daughter, she has devoted her gifts as a writer and a lecturer to the service of her country.
In her book, "The Promised Land," she has told the story of her life from the earliest memories of her childhood in Russia to the time when she entered college. It is an absorbing human story, but it is much more than that. It is the story of one who looks upon her American citizenship as a great "spiritual adventure," and who strives to quicken in others a sense of their opportunities and responsibilities as heirs of the new freedom. She pleads for a generous treatment of all those whom oppression and privation send to make their homes in our land. It is only by being faithful to the ideal of human brotherhood expressed in the Declaration of Independence that our nation can realize its true destiny, she warns us.
Mary Antin was recently urged to write a history of the United States for children, that would give the inner meaning of the facts as well as a clear account of the really significant events.
"I have long had such a work in mind," she wrote, "and I suppose I shall have to do it some day. In the meantime I _talk_ history to my children--my little daughter of eight and the Russian cousin who goes to school in the kitchen. Only yesterday at luncheon I told them about our system of representative government, and our potatoes grew cold on our plates, we were all so absorbed."
In all that Mary Antin writes and in all that she says her faith in her country and her zeal for its honor shine out above all else. To the new pilgrims who lived and suffered in other lands before they sought refuge in America, as well as to those who can say quite literally, "Land where my fathers died," she brings this message:
"We must strive to be worthy of our great heritage as American citizens so that we may use wisely and well its wonderful privileges. To be alive in America is to ride on the central current of the river of modern life; and to have a conscious purpose is to hold the rudder that steers the ship of fate."
A CAMPFIRE INTERPRETER:
ALICE C. FLETCHER
Ho! All ye heavens, all ye of the earth, I bid ye hear me! Into your midst has come a new life; Consent ye! Consent ye all, I implore! Make its path smooth, then shall it travel beyond the four hills.
_Omaha Tribal Rite._
Translated by Alice C. Fletcher.
A CAMPFIRE INTERPRETER
A great poet once tried to look into the future and picture the kind of people who might some day live upon the earth--people wiser and happier than we are because they shall have learned through our mistakes and carried to success our beginnings, and so have come to understand fully many things that we see dimly as through a mist. These people Tennyson calls the "crowning race":
Of those that eye to eye shall look On knowledge; under whose command Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand Is Nature like an open book.
You see he believed that the way to gain command of Earth is through learning to read the open book of Nature. That book is closed to most of us to-day, but we are just beginning to spell out something of its message, and as we begin to understand we feel that it is not a strange speech but our own true mother tongue, which ears, deafened by the noise of the busy world, have almost ceased to hear and understand. There comes a time, however, when we feel "the call of the wild." We long to get away from the hoarse cries of engines, and the grinding roar of turning wheels, to a quiet that is unbroken even by a passing motor horn.
Have you ever found yourself for a happy half-hour alone among the great trees of the friendly woods? You must have felt that in getting near to Nature you were finding yourself. Did not the life of the trees, of the winged creatures of the branches, of the cool mossy ground itself, seem a part of your life?
Have you ever climbed a hill when it seemed that the wind was blowing something of its own strength and freshness into your soul? Did you not feel as if you were mounting higher and higher into the air and lifting the sky with you? Have you ever found yourself at evening in a great clear open place where the tent of the starry heavens over your head seemed nearer than the shadowy earth and all the things of the day?
This is the story of a girl who loved to listen to the deep chant of the ocean, to the whisper of the wind in the trees, and to the silence in the heart of the hills. She came to feel that there was a joy and a power in the open--in the big, free, unspoiled haunts of furtive beasts and darting birds--that all the man-made wonders of the world could not give.
"If I am so much happier and more alive," she said to herself, "in the days that I spend under the open sky, what must it be like _always_ to live this freer life? Did not the people who lived as Nature's own children in these very woods that I come to as the guest of an hour or a summer, have a wisdom and a strength that our life to-day cannot win?"
Again and again the thought came knocking at her heart: "The men whom we call savages, whom we have crowded out of the land they once roamed over freely, must have learned very much in all the hundreds of years that they lived close to Nature. They could teach us a great deal that cannot be found in books."
Alice C. Fletcher grew up in a cultured New England home. She had the freedom of a generous library and early learned to feel that great books and wise men were familiar friends. They talked to her kindly and never frightened her by their big words and learned looks. She looked through the veil of words to the living meaning.
She was, too, very fond of music. Playing the piano was more than practising an elegant accomplishment--just as reading her books was more than learning lessons. As the books stirred her mind to thinking and wondering, so the music stirred her heart to feeling and dreaming.
It often seemed, however, that much that her books and music struggled in vain to bring to her within walls was quite clear when she found herself in the large freedom of Nature's house. The sunshine, the blue sky, and the good, wholesome smell of the brown earth seemed to give a taste of the
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
Once in her reading she came upon the story of the scholar who left Oxford and the paths of learning to follow the ways of the wandering gypsies in order that he might learn the natural wisdom they had won. "Ah," she said to herself, "some day when I am free to live my life in my own way I shall leave my books and go out among the Indians. Our country should know what its first children saw and thought and felt. I shall try to see with their eyes and hear with their ears for a while and I shall discover, in that way, perhaps, a new world--one that will be lost forever when the Red Men are made to adopt all the tricks and manners of civilized life."
The time came when she found herself free to realize this dream.
"You don't mean to say you are really going to live with the Indians?" her friends exclaimed.
"How else can I know them?" she replied quietly.
"But to give up every necessary comfort!"
"There is something perhaps better than just making sure that we are always quite comfortable," said Miss Fletcher. "Of course, I shall miss easy chairs and cozy chats, and all the lectures, concerts, latest books, and daily papers, but I'm glad to find out that all these nice things are not really so _necessary_ that they can keep me from doing a bit of work that is really worth while, and which, perhaps, needs just what I can bring to it."
At this time Miss Fletcher's earnest, thoughtful studies of what books and museums could teach about the early history of America and the interesting time before history, had given her a recognized place among the foremost scholars of archeology--the science that reads the story of the forgotten past through the relics that time has spared.
"Many people can be found to study the things about the Indians which can be collected and put in museums," said Miss Fletcher, "but there is need of a patient, sympathetic study of the people themselves."
In order to make this study, she spent not only months but years among the Dakota and Omaha Indians. From a wigwam made of buffalo skins she watched the play of the children and the life of the people and listened to their songs and stories.
"The Indian is not the stern, unbending wooden Indian that shows neither interest nor feeling of any sort, as many people have come to think of him," said Miss Fletcher. "Those who picture him so have never really known him. They have only seen the side he turns toward strangers. In the home and among their friends the Indians show fun, happy give-and-take, and warm, alert interest in the life about them."
The cultivated New England woman and distinguished scholar won their confidence because of her sincerity, tact, and warm human sympathy. She not only learned their speech and manners but also the language of their hearts. Her love of Nature helped her to a ready understanding of these children of Nature or Wakonda--as they called the spirit of life that breathes through earth and sky, rocks, streams, plants, all living creatures, and the tribes of men. The beautiful ceremony by which, soon after his birth, each Omaha child was presented to the powers of Nature showed this sense of kinship between the people and their world. A priest of the tribe stood outside the wigwam to which the new life had been sent, and with right hand outstretched to the heavens chanted these words in a loud voice:
Ho, ye Sun, Moon, Stars, all ye that move in the heavens, I bid ye hear me! Into your midst has come a new life; Consent ye, I implore! Make its path smooth, that it may reach The brow of the first hill.
Next the forces of the air--winds, clouds, mist, and rain--were called upon to receive the young child and smooth the path to the second hill. Then hills, valleys, rivers, lakes, trees, and all growing things were invoked, after which the spirits of birds, animals, and all moving creatures were summoned to make the path smooth to the third and fourth hills. As the priest intoned the noble appeal to all the powers of the earth and air and bending heavens, even those who could not understand the words would know that the four hills meant childhood, youth, manhood, and age, and that a new life was being presented to the forces of the universe of which it was a part. So it was that each child was thought of as belonging to Wakonda--to the spirit of all life--before he belonged to the tribe. For it was not until he was four or five years old that he gave up his "baby name," such as Bright Eyes, Little Bird, or Baby Squirrel, and was given a real name and received into the life of the people.
Miss Fletcher soon became interested in the music of the Indians. Her trained ear told her that here was something new. The haunting bits of melody and strange turns of rhythm were quite different from any old-world tunes.
"At first it was very hard to hear them," said Miss Fletcher. "The Indians never sang to be heard by others. Their singing was a spontaneous expression of their feeling--for the most part, religious feeling. In their religious ceremonies the noise of the dancing and of the drums and rattles often made it very hard to really catch the sound of the voice."
Day after day she strove to hear and write down bits of the music, but it was almost like trying to imprison the sound of the wind in the tree-tops.
"Do you remember," said Miss Fletcher, "how the old Saxon poet tried to explain the mystery of life by saying it was like a bird flying through the windows of a lighted hall out of the darkness to darkness again? An Indian melody is like that. It has no preparations, no beginning. It flashes upon you and is gone, leaving only a teasing memory behind."
While this lover of music was vainly trying to catch these strangely beautiful strains of melody, the unaccustomed hardships of her life brought upon her a long illness. There was compensation, however, for when she could no longer go after the thing she sought it came to her. Her Indian friends who had found out that she was interested in their songs gathered about her couch to sing them for her.
"So my illness was after all like many of our so-called trials, a blessing in disguise," said Miss Fletcher. "I was left with this lameness, but I had the music. The sigh had become a song!"
You have, perhaps, heard of the great interest that many learned people have in the songs and stories of simple folk--the folk-songs and folk-tales of different lands. Did you know that Sir Walter Scott's first work in literature was the gathering of the simple ballads of the Scottish peasants which they had long repeated just as you repeat the words of "ring games" learned from other children?
Did you know that most of the fairy stories and hero tales that you love were told by people who had never held a book in their hands, and were repeated ages and ages ago before the time of books? Just as it is true that broad, flowing rivers have their source in streams that well up out of the ground, so it is true that the literature of every nation has its source in the fancies that have welled up out of the hearts and imaginations of the simple people. The same thing is true of music. Great composers like Brahms and Liszt took the wild airs of the Hungarian gypsies and made them into splendid compositions that all the world applauds. Chopin has done this with the songs of the simple Polish folk. Dvorák, the great Bohemian composer, has made his "New World Symphony" of negro melodies, and Cadman and others are using the native Indian music in the same way.
Just as the Grimm brothers went about among the German peasants to learn their interesting stories, just as Sir George Dasent worked to get the tales of the Norse, so Alice Cunningham Fletcher worked to preserve the songs and stories of the Indians. Others have come after her and have gone on with the work she began, following the trail she blazed. All musicians agree that this native song with its fascinating and original rhythms may prove the source of inspiration for American composers of genius and give rise to our truest new-world music.
Much of Miss Fletcher's work is preserved in great learned volumes, such as "The Omaha Tribe," published by the National Government, for she wrote as a scientist for those who will carry on the torch of science into the future. But realizing that the music would mean much to many who cannot enter upon the problems with which the wise men concern themselves, she has presented many of the songs in a little book called "Indian Story and Song." We find there, for instance, the "Song of the Laugh" sung when the brave young warrior recounts the story of the way he has slain his enemy with his own club and so helped to fill with fear the foes of his tribe.
We find, too, the story of the youth who begins his life as a man by a lonely vigil when by fasting he proves his powers of endurance.
The Omaha tribal prayer is the solemn melody that sounded through the forests of America long before the white man came to this country--a cry of the yearning human spirit to Wakonda, the spirit of all life.
Try to picture Miss Fletcher surrounded by her Indian friends, explaining to them carefully all about the strange machine before which she wants them to sing. For the graphophone was a field worker with her--for a time her chief assistant in catching the elusive Indian songs. Perhaps there could have been no greater proof of their entire confidence in her than their willingness to sing for her again and again, and even to give into the keeping of her queer little black cylinders the strains that voiced their deepest and most sacred feelings. For Indian music is, for the most part, an expression of the bond between the human spirit and the unseen powers of Nature. It must have been that they felt from the first that here was some one who understood them because she, too, loved the Nature they knew and loved.
While Miss Fletcher was thus happily at work she became aware, however, that there was keen distress among these friends to whom she had become warmly attached. Some of their neighbors, the Ponca Indians, had been removed from their lands to the dreaded "hot country"--Indian Territory--and the Omaha people feared that the same thing might happen to them, for it was very easy for unprincipled white men to take advantage of the Indians who held their lands as a tribe, not as individuals.
Always on the frontier of settlement there were bold adventurers who coveted any promising tracts of land that the Indians possessed. They said to themselves, "We could use this country to much better advantage than these savages, therefore it should be ours." They then would encroach more and more on the holdings of the Indians, defying them by every act which said plainly, "A Redskin has no rights!" Sometimes when endurance could go no further the Indians would rise up in active revolt. Then what more easy than to cry out, "An Indian uprising! There will be a massacre! Send troops to protect us from the mad fury of the savages!" The Government would then send a detachment of cavalry to quell the outbreak, after which it would seem wiser to move the Indians a little farther away from contact with the white men, who now had just what they had been working toward from the first--the possession of the good land.
Miss Fletcher realized that the only remedy for this condition was for each Indian to secure from the Government a legal title to a portion of the tribal grant which he might hold as an individual. She left her happy work with the music and went to Washington to explain to the President and to Congress the situation as she knew it. The cause was, at this time, greatly furthered by the appearance of a book by Helen Hunt Jackson, called "A Century of Dishonor," an eloquent presentation of the Indians' wrongs and a burning plea for justice.
There was need, however, of some practical worker, who knew the Indians and Indian affairs intimately, to point to a solution of the problem. The conscience of the people was aroused, but they did not know how it was possible to prevent in the future the same sort of wrongs that had made the past hundred years indeed "a century of dishonor." Then the resolute figure of Miss Alice Fletcher appeared on the scene. She was well known to the government authorities for her valuable scientific work. Here was some one they knew, who really could explain the exact state of affairs and who could also interpret fairly the mind of the Indian. She could be depended on as one who would not be swayed by mere sentimental considerations. She would know the practical course to pursue.
"Let the Indians hold their land as the white men hold theirs," she said. "That is the only way to protect them from wrong and to protect the Government from being a helpless partner to the injustice that is done them."
[Illustration: Alice C. Fletcher]
Now, it is one thing to influence people who are informed and interested and quite another to awaken the interest of those who are vitally concerned with totally different things. Miss Fletcher realized that if anything was to be actually accomplished she must leave no stone unturned to bring the matter to the attention of those who had not heretofore given a thought to the Indian question and the responsibility of the Government. She presented a petition to Congress and worked early and late to drive home to the people the urgent need of legislation in behalf of the Indians. She spoke in clubs, in churches, in private houses, and before committees in Congress. And actually the busy congressmen who always feel that there is not half time enough to consider measures by which their own States and districts will profit, gave right of way to the Indian Land Act, and in 1882 it became a law.
There was the need of the services of some disinterested person to manage the difficult matter of dividing the tribal tracts and allotting to each Indian his own acres, and Miss Fletcher was asked by the President to undertake this work.
"Why do you trust Miss Fletcher above any one else?" asked President Cleveland on one occasion when he was receiving a delegation of Omahas at the White House.
"We have seen her in our homes; we have seen her in her home. We find her always the same," was the reply.
The work which Miss Fletcher did in allotting the land to the Omahas was so successfully handled that she was appealed to by the Government to serve in the same capacity for the Winnebago and Nez Percé Indians. The law whose passage was secured by her zeal was the forerunner the Severalty Act of 1885 which marked a change in policy of the Government and ushered in a better era for all the Indian tribes.
"What led you to undertake this important work?" Miss Fletcher was asked.
"The most natural desire in the world--the impulse to help my friends where I saw the need," she replied. "I did not set out resolved to have a career--to form and to reform. There is no story in my life. It has always been just one step at a time--one thing which I have tried to do as well as I could and which has led on to something else. It has all been in the day's work."
Miss Fletcher has been much interested in the work of the Boy and Girl Scouts and in the Campfire Societies, because she feels that in this way many children are brought to an appreciation of the great out-of-doors and win health, power, and joy which the life of cities cannot give. For them she has made a collection of Indian games and dances.
"Just as the spirit of Sir Walter Scott guides us through the Scottish lake country and as Dickens leads us about old London, so the spirit of the Indians should make us more at home in the forests of America," said Miss Fletcher. "In sharing the happy fancies of these first children of America we may win a new freedom in our possession of the playground of the great out-of-doors."
THE "WHITE MOTHER" OF DARKEST AFRICA:
I am ready to go anywhere, provided it be forward.
God can't give His best till we have given ours!
THE "WHITE MOTHER" OF DARKEST AFRICA
Among all the weavers in the great factory at Dundee there was no girl more deft and skilful than Mary Slessor. She was only eleven when she had to help shoulder the cares of the household and share with the frail mother the task of earning bread for the hungry children. For the little family was worse than fatherless. The man who had once been a thrifty, self-respecting shoemaker had become a slave to drink; and his life was a burden to himself and to those who were nearest and dearest to him.
"Dinna cry, mither dear," Mary had said. "I can go to the mills in the morning and to school in the afternoon. It will be a glad day, earning and learning at the same time!"
So Mary became a "half-timer" in the mills. At six o'clock every morning she was at work among the big whirling wheels. Even the walls and windows seemed to turn sometimes as the hot wind came in her face from the whizzing belts, and the roar of the giant wheels filled all her day with din and clamor.
But as Mary worked week after week, she learned more than the trick of handling the shuttle at the moving loom. She learned how to send her thoughts far away from the noisy factory to a still place of breeze-stirred trees and golden sunshine. Sometimes a book, which she had placed on the loom to peep in at free moments, helped her to slip away in fancy from the grinding toil. What magic one could find in the wonderful world of books! The wheels whirled off into nothingness, the walls melted away like mist, and her spirit was free to wander through all the many ways of the wide world. And so it was that she went from the hours of work and earning to the hours of study and learning with a blithe, morning face, her brave soul shining through bright eager eyes.
"When we're all dragged out, and feel like grumbling at everything and nothing seems of any use at all, Mary Slessor is still up and coming, as happy as a cricket," said one of the girls who worked by her side. "She makes you take heart in spite of yourself, and think it's something to be glad over just to be living and working."
"It's wonderful the way your hand can go on with the shuttle and do the turn even better than you could if you stopped to take thought," Mary would explain. "That leaves your mind free to go another way. Now this morning I was not in the weaving shed at all; I was far away in Africa, seeing all the strange sights the missionary from Calabar told us about last night at meeting."
Heaven was very near to Mary Slessor, and the stars seemed more real than the street lamps of the town. She had come to feel that the troubles and trials of her days were just steps on the path that she would travel. Always she looked past the rough road to the end of the journey where there was welcome in the Father's house for all His tired children. There was, moreover, one bit of real romance in that gray Scotch world of hers. The thrill of beauty and mystery and splendid heroism was in the stories that the missionaries told of Africa, the land of tropical wonders--pathless forests, winding rivers under bending trees, bright birds, and brighter flowers--and people, hundreds of black people, with black lives because the light of truth had never shone in their world. She knew that white people who called themselves Christians had gone there to carry them away for slaves; and to get their palm-oil and rubber and give them rum in exchange--rum that was making them worse than the wild beasts of the jungle. How Mary Slessor longed to be one to carry the good news of a God of Love to those people who lived and died in darkness! "Somebody must help those who can't help themselves!" she said to herself.
"The fields are ripe for the harvest but the laborers are few," one of the missionaries had said. "We fear the fever and other ills that hide in the bush more than we fear to fail in God's service. Men have gone to these people to make money from the products of their land; they have bought and sold the gifts of their trees; they have bought and sold the people themselves; they are selling them death to-day in the strong drink they send there. Is there no one who is willing to go to take life to these ignorant children who have suffered so many wrongs?"
These words sank deep into Mary Slessor's heart. But it was plain that her mission was to the little home in Dundee. She was working now among the turning wheels all day from six until six, and going to school in the evening; but she found time to share with others the secret of the joy that she had found, the light that had made the days of toil bright. The boys that came to her class in the mission school were "toughs" from the slums of the town, but she put many of them on the road to useful, happy living. Her brave spirit won them from their fierce lawlessness; her patience and understanding helped to bring out and fortify the best that was in them.
Once a much-dreaded "gang" tried to break up the mission with a battery of mud and jeers. When Mary Slessor faced them quietly, the leader, boldly confronting her, swung a leaden weight which hung suspended from a cord, about her head threateningly. It came nearer and nearer until it grazed her temple, but the mission teacher never flinched. Her eyes still looked into those of the boy's--bright, untroubled, and searching. His own dropped, and the missile fell forgotten to the ground.
"She's game, boys!" he cried, surprised out of himself.
And the unruly mob filed into the mission to hear what the "game" lady had to say. Mary Slessor had never heard of the poet, Horace; but she had put to the proof the truth of the well-known lines, which declare that "the man whose life is blameless and free from evil has no need of Moorish javelins, nor bow, nor quiver full of poisoned arrows."
As in her work with the wild boys of the streets, so in her visits to the hopeless people of the dark tenements, Mary Slessor was a powerful influence because she entered their world as one of them, with a faith in the better self of each that called into new life his all-but-extinguished longing for better things.
"As she sat by the fire holding the baby and talking cheerily about her days at the mills and the Sabbath morning at chapel, it seemed as if I were a girl again, happy and hopeful and ready to meet whatever the morrow might bring," said a discouraged mother to whom Mary had been a friend in need.
"It is like hearing the kirk-bells on a Sunday morning at the old home, hearing your voice, Mary Slessor," said a poor blind woman to whom Mary had brought the light of restored faith.
For fourteen years this happy Scotch girl worked in the factory for ten hours each day, and shared her evenings and Sundays with her neighbors of the mission. Besides, she seized moments by the way for study and reading. Her mind was hungry to understand the meaning of life and the truths of religion. One day, in order to find out the sort of mental food she craved, a friend lent her Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus."
"How are you and Carlyle getting on together?" he asked quizzically when they next met.
"It is grand!" she replied with earnest enthusiasm. "I sat up reading it, and was so interested that I did not know what the time was until I heard the factory bells calling me to work in the morning."
Thus her mind was growing and expanding, while her spirit grew through faithful work and loyal service. Her simple, direct speech had an eloquent appeal that went straight to the heart. In spite of an unconquerable timidity that made her shrink from platform appearances, her informal addresses had wide influence. Once she rose in her place at a public meeting and gave a quiet talk on the words: _The common people heard him gladly._ "And," it was said, "the common people heard _her_ gladly, and crowded around, pleading with her to come again."
In 1874, when every one was stirred by the death of David Livingstone, Mary Slessor's life was transfigured by a great resolve. The years had brought changes. Her father was dead, and her sisters were old enough to share the burden of supporting the family.
"The time has come for me to join the band of light-bearers to the Dark Continent," said Mary, with a conviction that overcame every obstacle. "It is my duty to go where the laborers are few. Besides, there must be a way to work there and send help to mother at home."
She knew that the missionaries were given a stipend to support them in the manner of the country from which they came. "I shall as far as possible live on the food of the country," she said. "It may be that by sharing to a greater extent the conditions of life of the people, I can come to a fuller understanding of them and they of me. Besides, it will not be so hard to leave home if I can feel that I am still earning something for mother."
So Mary Slessor went, after a few months of special preparation to teach the natives of Calabar. She was at this time twenty-eight years old. Ever since she was a mere slip of a girl, she had longed to serve in that most discouraging of fields--"the slums of Africa," it was called. The people who inhabited that swampy, equatorial region were the most wretched and degraded of all the negro tribes. They had for ages been the victims of stronger neighbors, who drove them back from the drier and more desirable territory that lay farther inland; and of their own ignorance and superstitions, which were at the root of their blood-thirsty, savage customs.
It was in September, 1876, that the vessel _Ethiopia_ sailed out of the clean, blue Atlantic into the mud-colored Calabar River. At its prow stood Mary Slessor, gazing soberly at the vast mangrove swamps and wondering about the unknown, unexplored land beyond, where she should pitch her tent and begin her work. Though white men had for centuries come to the coast to trade for gold dust, ivory, palm oil, spices, and slaves, they had never ventured inland, and the natives who lived near the shore had sought to keep the lion's share of the profit by preventing the remoter tribes from coming with their goods to barter directly with the men of the big ships. So only a few miles from the mouth of the Calabar River was a land where white people had never gone, whose inhabitants had never seen a white face. It was to this place of unknown dangers that Mary Slessor was bound.
For a time she remained at the mission settlement to learn the language, while teaching in the day school. As soon as she gained sufficient ease in the use of the native speech, she began to journey through the bush, as the tropical jungles of palms, bananas, ferns, and thick grass were called. Her heart sang as she went along, now wading through a spongy morass bright with orchids, now jumping over a stream or the twisted roots of a giant tree. After the chill grayness of her Scottish country, this land seemed at first a veritable paradise of golden warmth, alluring sounds and scents, and vivid color. Now she paused in delight as a brilliant bird flashed through the branches overhead; now she went on with buoyant step, drinking in the tropical fragrance with every breath. Surely so fair a land could not be so deadly as it was said. She _must_ keep well for the task that lay before her. She could not doubt that each day would bring strength for the day's work.
With two or three of the boys from the Calabar school as guides, she made the journey to some of the out-districts. Here a white face was a thing of wonder or terror. The children ran away shrieking with fear; the women pressed about her, chattering and feeling her clothing and her face, to see if she were real. At first she was startled, but she soon divined that this was just the beginning of friendly acquaintance.
Miss Slessor soon showed an astonishing mastery of the language, and an even more amazing comprehension of the minds of the people. She realized that the natives were not devoid of ideas and beliefs, but that, on the contrary, certain crude conceptions, strongly rooted through the custom and tradition of ages, accounted for many of their horrible practices. They put all twin babies to death because they believed that one of them was a demon-child whose presence in a tribe would bring untold harm on the people. They tortured and murdered helpless fellow creatures, not wantonly, but because they believed that their victims had been bewitching a suffering chief--for disease was a mysterious blight, caused by the "evil eye" of a malicious enemy. When a chief died many people were slaughtered, for of course he would want slaves and companions in the world of spirits.
It was wonderful the way Mary Slessor was able to move about among the rude, half-naked savages as confidently as she had among her people in Scotland, looking past the dirt and ugliness to the human heart beneath, tortured by fear or grief, and say a word that brought hope and comfort. She feared neither the crouching beasts of the jungle nor the treacherous tribes of the scattered mud villages. Picking her way over the uncertain bush trails, she carried medicine, tended the sick, and spoke words of sympathy and cheer to the distressed. Sometimes she stayed away over several nights, when her lodging was a mud hut and her bed a heap of unpleasant rags.
The people soon learned that her interest went beyond teaching and preaching and giving aid to the sick. She cared enough for their welfare to lead them by night past the sentries of the jealous coast tribes to the factory near the beach, where they could dispose of their palm oil and kernels to their own profit. She won in this way the good will of the traders who said:
"There is a missionary of the right sort! She will accomplish something because she is taking hold of all the problems that concern her people, and is working systematically to improve all the conditions of their lives."
One day she set forth on a trip of thirty miles along the river to visit the village of a chief named Okon, who had sent begging her to come. A state canoe, which was lent by King Eyo of Calabar, had been gaily painted in her honor, and a canopy of matting to shield her from the sun and dew had been thoughtfully erected over a couch of rice bags. Hours passed in the tender formalities of farewell, and when the paddlers actually got the canoe out into the stream it was quite dark. The red gleam of their torches fell upon venomous snakes and alligators, but there was no fear while her companions beat the "tom-tom" and sang, as they plied their paddles, loud songs in her praise, such as:
"Ma, our beautiful, beloved mother is on board! Ho! Ho! Ho!"
Such unwonted clamor no doubt struck terror to all the creatures with claws and fangs along the banks.
After ten hours' paddling, she arrived at Okon's village. A human skull stuck on a pole was the first sight that greeted her. Crowds gathered about to stare and touch her hand to make sure that she was flesh and blood. At meal times a favored few who were permitted to watch her eat and drink ran about, excitedly reporting every detail to their friends.
For days she went around giving medicines, bandaging, cutting out garments, and teaching the women the mysteries of sewing, washing, and ironing. In the evenings all the people gathered about her quietly while she told them about the God she served--a God of love, whose ways were peace and loving kindness. At the end they filed by, wishing her good night with much feeling before they disappeared into the blackness of the night.
These new friends would not permit her to walk about in the bush as she had been used to doing. There were elephants in the neighboring jungle, they said. The huge beasts had trampled down all their growing things, so that they had to depend mainly on fishing. One morning, on hearing that a boa constrictor had been seen, bands of men armed with clubs and muskets set off, yelling fearsomely, to hunt the common enemy. But more terrible to Mary Slessor than any beast of prey were the skulls, horrible images, and offerings to ravenous spirits, that she saw on every side. How was it possible to teach the law of love to a people who had never known anything but the tyranny of fear?
"I must learn something of the patience of the Creator of all," she said to herself again and again. "For how long has He borne with the sins and weakness of His poor human children, always caring for us and believing that we can grow into something better in spite of all!"
After two weeks in "Elephant Country," Miss Slessor made ready to return to the mission. Rowers, canoe, and baggage were in readiness, and a smoking pot of yams and herbs cooked in palm oil was put on board for the evening meal. Scarcely had they partaken, however, when Mary saw that the setting sun was surrounded by angry clouds, and her ear caught the ominous sound of the wind wailing in the tree-tops.
"We are coming into a stormy night," she said fearfully to Okon, who was courteously escorting the party back to Old Town.
The chief lifted his black face to the black sky and scanned the clouds solemnly. Then he hastily steered for a point of land that lay sheltered from the wind. Before they could reach the lee side, however, the thunder broke, and the wild sweep of the wind seized the canoe and whirled it about like a paper toy. Crew and chief alike were helpless from terror when Mary took her own fear in hand and ordered the rowers to make for the tangle of trees that bordered the bank. The men pulled together with renewed hope and strength until the shelter of the bush was reached. Then springing like monkeys into the overhanging branches, they held on to the canoe which was being dashed up and down like a straw. The "White Mother," who was sitting in water to her knees and shaking with ague, calmed the fears of the panic-stricken children who had buried their faces in her lap, and looked about in awed wonder at the weird beauty of the scene. The vivid flashes of lightning shattered the darkness with each peal of thunder, revealing luxuriant tropical vegetation rising above the lashed water, foaming and hissing under the slanting downpour of the rain, and the tossing canoe with the crouching, gleaming-wet figures of the frightened crew.
This was but one of many thrilling adventures that filled the days of the brave young missionary. When the appeal came, no matter what the time of midday heat or midnight blackness, she was ready to journey for hours through the bush to bring succor and comfort.
Once the news came that the chief of a village had been seized by a mysterious illness. Knowing that this would mean torture, and death, perhaps, to those suspected of having enviously afflicted him by the "evil eye," she set off along the trail through the dense forest to use all her influence to save the unfortunate victims.
[Illustration: _Courtesy of George H. Doran Company_
"But, Ma," the people would protest, "you don't understand. If you god-people not punish evil, bad ones say, 'God-ways no good!' Bad ones go round cast spells with no fear. No one safe at all."
Of all their superstitious fears, the horror of twin babies was the most universal. With great difficulty Miss Slessor managed to save a few of these unfortunate infants. At first some of the people refused to come into the hut where a twin child was kept; but when they saw that no plague attacked the place or the rash white "Ma," they looked upon her with increased respect. The "White Mother" must have a power much greater than that of the witch-doctors.
The witch-doctors knew a great deal, no doubt. When a man had a tormented back they could tell what enemy had put a spell on him.
"Oh, yes, Ma, the witch-doctor he knows," declared a chief who was suffering with an abscess, "just see all those claws, teeth, and bones over there. He took them all out of my back."
But if "Ma" did not understand about such spells, she had a wonderful magic of her own; she knew soothing things to put on the bewitched back that could drive the pain away and make it well. The influence of the healer was often stronger than the influence of the witch-doctor and the superstitious fears of all the tribe. Again and again her will prevailed in the palaver, and the chief to please her would spare the lives of those who should by every custom of the land be put to death.
"Ma" required strange things of them, but she was the best friend they had ever had. When she stood up before them and spoke so movingly it seemed as if she would talk the heart right out of the sternest savage of them all! She made them forget the things that they had known all their lives. Who would have believed that they would even dream of allowing a chief's son to go unattended into the spirit-world? Yet when she begged them to spare the lives of the slaves who should have been sent with him, they had at last consented. And it didn't take a witch-doctor to tell one that a twin-child should never be allowed to live and work its demon spells in the world. Still they allowed her to save some of them alive. It was said that prudent people had even gone into the room where the rescued twins were kept and had touched them without fear. They had been almost persuaded that those queerly born babies were just like other children!
The "White Mother" of Calabar always had a family of little black waifs that she had rescued from violent death or neglect. Besides the unfortunate twins, there were the children whose slave mothers had died when they were tiny infants. "Nobody has time to bring up a child that will belong to somebody else as soon as it is good for something," it was said. So the motherless children were left in the bush to die.
Mary Slessor loved her strange black brood tenderly. "Baby things are always gentle and lovable," she used to say. "These children who have had right training from the beginning will grow up to be leaders and teachers of their people."
For twelve years Miss Slessor worked in connection with the established mission at Calabar, journeying about to outlying villages as the call came. It had for long been her dream, however, to go still farther inland to the wild Okoyong tribe whose very name was a terror throughout the land. Her mother and her sister Janie, who together made "home" for her, had died.
"There is no one to write and tell all my stories and troubles and nonsense to," she said. "But Heaven is now nearer to me than Britain, and nobody will be anxious about me if I go up country."
In King Eyo's royal canoe she made the journey to the strange people. Leaving the paddlers, who were mortal enemies to the Okoyong tribe, at the water's edge, she made her way along the jungle trail to a village four miles inland. Here the people crowded about her greatly excited. They called her "Mother," and seemed pleased that she had come to them without fear. The chief, Edem, and his sister, Ma Eame, received her in a friendly fashion. Her courage, frankness, and ready understanding won favor from the beginning.
"May I have ground for a schoolhouse and a home with you here?" she asked. "Will you have me stay as your friend and help you as I have helped the people of Calabar?"
Eagerly they assented. It would be a fine thing to have a "White Mother" in their country.
"Will you grant that the house I build shall be a place of refuge for those in distress--for those charged with witchcraft or threatened with death for any other cause? Will you promise that they shall be safe with me until we can consider together their case?"
The people looked at the strange white woman wonderingly. Why should she ask this thing? What difference could it make to her?
"All life is precious," she said simply, as if she had read their thoughts. "I am here to help you--to care for those who are sick or hurt, and I must be allowed to see that each one who is in any sort of trouble is treated fairly. Will you promise that my house shall be a place of refuge?"
Again they gravely assented. So, greatly encouraged, she returned to Calabar to pack her goods and prepare to leave the old field for the new.
All her friends gathered about her, loudly lamenting. She was surely going to her death, they said. Her fellow workers regarded her with wonder and pity. "Nothing can make any impression on the Okoyong save a consul and a British gunboat," they declared. But Mary Slessor was undaunted. She stowed her boxes and her little family of five small waifs away in the canoe as happily as if she were starting out on a pleasure trip. To a friend in Scotland, she wrote:
I am going to a new tribe up-country, a fierce, cruel people, and every one tells me that they will kill me. But I don't fear any hurt--only to combat their savage customs will require courage and firmness on my part.
The life in Okoyong did indeed require fortitude and faith. Remote from friends and helpers, in the midst of that most dreaded of all the African tribes, she patiently worked to lighten the darkness of the degraded people and make their lives happier and better. With her rare gift of intuition she at once felt that Ma Eame, the chief's sister, had a warm heart and a strong character.
"She will be my chief ally," she said to herself, and time proved that she was right. A spark in the black woman's soul was quickened by the White Mother's flaming zeal. Dimly she felt the power of the new law of love. Often at the risk of her life, should she be discovered, she kept the missionary informed in regard to the movements of the people. Whether it was a case of witchcraft or murder, of vengeance or a raid on a neighboring tribe, "Ma" was sure to find it out; and her influence was frequently strong enough to avert a tragedy.
As at Calabar, she found that the greatest obstacle in the way of progress was the general indulgence in rum, which the white people gave the natives in exchange for their palm oil, spices, rubber, and other products.
"Do not drink the vile stuff--do not take it or sell it," she begged. "It is like poison to your body. It burns out your life and heart and brings every trouble upon you."
"What for white man bring them rum suppose them rum no be good?" they demanded. "He be god-man bring the rum--then what for god-man talk so?"
What was there to say? With a heavy heart the White Mother struggled on to help her people in spite of this great evil which men of the Christian world had brought upon these weak, ignorant black children. And she did make headway in spite of every discouragement. "I had a lump in my throat often, and my courage repeatedly threatened to take wings and fly away--though nobody guessed it," she said.
For years this brave woman went on with her work among the wild tribes of Nigeria. As soon as she began to get the encouragement of results in one place she pressed on to an unworked field. Realizing that her pioneer work needed to be reënforced and sustained by the strong arm of the law, she persuaded the British Government to "take up the white man's burden" and (through the influence of consuls and the persuasive presence of a gunboat or two) assume the guardianship of her weak children. In spite of failing health and the discouragement of small results, she went from one post to another, leaving mission houses and chapel-huts as outward signs of the new life to which she had been a witness. "I am ready to go anywhere, provided it be forward," was her watchword, as well as Dr. Livingstone's.
There are many striking points of likeness between the careers of these two torch-bearers to the Dark Continent. As children both had worked at the loom, studying hungrily as they toiled. Both did pioneer work, winning the confidence and love of the wild people they taught and served. No missionary to Africa, save Dr. Livingstone alone, has had a more powerful influence than Mary Slessor.
When at last in January, 1915, after thirty-nine years of service, she died and left to others the task of bearing on the torch to her people, Sir Frederick Lugard, the Governor-General of Nigeria said:
"By her enthusiasm, self-sacrifice, and greatness of character she has earned the devotion of thousands of natives among whom she worked, and the love and esteem of all Europeans, irrespective of class or creed, with whom she came in contact."
She was buried in the land to which she had given her long life of service. At the grave when the women, after the native fashion, began their wild wail of lament, one of them lifted up her voice in an exalted appeal that went straight to the heart:
"Do not cry, do not cry! Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Ma was a great blessing."
Of all the words of glowing tribute to her faithful work, we may be sure that none would have meant more to the lowly missionary than this cry from the awakened soul of one of her people of the bush.
THE HEROINE OF RADIUM:
MARIE SKLODOWSKA CURIE
One truth discovered is immortal and entitles its author to be so; for, like a new substance in nature, it cannot be destroyed.
THE HEROINE OF RADIUM
You would hardly think that a big, bare room, with rows of battered benches and shelves and tables littered with all sorts of queer-looking jars and bottles, could be a hiding-place for fairies. Yet Marie's father, who was one of the wise men of Warsaw, said they were always to be found there.
"Yes, little daughter," he said, "the fairies you may chance to meet with in the woods, peeping from behind trees and sleeping in flowers, are a tricksy, uncertain sort. The real fairies, who do things, are to be found in my dusty laboratory. They are the true wonder-workers, and there you may really catch them at work and learn some of their secrets."
"But, Father, wouldn't the fairies like it better if it wasn't quite so dusty there?" asked the child.
"No doubt of it," replied the professor.
"We need one fairy more to put us to rights."
At a time when most little girls are playing with dolls, Marie was playing "fairy" in the big classroom, dusting the tables and shelves, and washing the glass tubes and other things that her father used as he talked to his students. "I think we might see the fairies better if I make all these glasses clear and shiny," said Marie.
"Can I trust your little fingers not to let things fall?" asked her father. "Remember, my funny glasses are precious. It might cost us a dinner if you should let one slip."
The professor soon found that his little daughter never let anything slip--either the things he used or the things he said. "Such a wise little fairy and such a busy one!" he would say. "I don't know how we could do our work without her."
If Professor Ladislaus Sklodowski had not loved his laboratory teaching above all else, he would have known that he was overworked. As it was, he counted himself fortunate in being able to serve Truth and to enlist others in her service. For the professor's zeal was of the kind that kindles enthusiasm. If you had seen the faces of those Polish students as they hung on his words and watched breathlessly the result of an experiment, you would have known that they, too, believed in the wonder-working fairies.
It seems as if the Polish people have a greater love and understanding of the unseen powers of the world than is given to many other nations. If you read the story of Poland's tragic struggles against foes within and without until, finally, the stronger surrounding countries--Germany, Austria, and Russia--divided her territory as spoil among themselves and she ceased to exist as a distinct nation, you will understand why her children have sought refuge in the things of the spirit. They have in a wonderful degree the courage that rises above the most unfriendly circumstances and says:
One day with life and heart Is more than time enough to find a world.
Some of them, like Chopin and Paderewski, have found a new world in music; others have found it in poetry and romance; and still others in science. The child who dreamed of fairies in her father's classroom was to discover the greatest marvel of modern science--a discovery that opened up a new world to the masters of physics and chemistry of our day.
Marie's mother, who had herself been a teacher, died when the child was very small; and so it happened that the busy father had to take sole care of her and make the laboratory do duty as nursery and playroom. It was not strange that the bright, thoughtful little girl learned to love the things that were so dear to her father's heart. Would he not rather buy things for his work than have meat for dinner? Did he not wear the same shabby kaftan (the full Russian top-coat that looks like a dressing-gown) year after year in order that he might have material for important experiments? Truth was, indeed, more than meat and the love of learning more than raiment in that home, and the little daughter drank in his enthusiasm with the queer laboratory smells which were her native air and the breath of life to her.
The time came when the child had to leave this nursery to enter school, but always, when the day's session was over, she went directly to that other school where she listened fascinated to all her father taught about the wonders of the inner world of atoms and the mysterious forces that make the visible world in which we live. She still believed in fairies,--oh, yes!--but now she knew their names. There were the rainbow fairies--light-waves, that make all the colors we see,--and many more our eyes are not able to discover, but which we can capture by interesting experiments. There were sound-waves, too, and the marvelous forces we call electricity, magnetism, and gravitation. When she was nine years old, it was second nature to care for her father's batteries, beakers, and retorts, and to help prepare the apparatus that was to be used in the demonstrations of the coming day. The students marveled at the child's skill and knowledge, and called her with admiring affection "professorowna," (daughter-professor).
There was a world besides the wonderland of the laboratory, of which Marie was soon aware. This was the world of fear, where the powers of Russia ruled. In 1861 the Poles had made a vain attempt to win their independence, and when Marie was a little girl (she was born in 1867), the authorities tried to stamp out any further sparks of possible rebellion by adopting unusually harsh measures. It was a crime to speak the Polish language in the schools and to talk of the old, happy days when Poland was a nation. If any one was even suspected of looking forward to a better time when the people would not be persecuted by the police or forced to bribe unprincipled officials for a chance to conduct their business without interference, he was carried off to the cruel, yellow-walled prison near the citadel, and perhaps sent to a life of exile in Siberia. Since knowledge means independent thought and capacity for leadership, the high schools and universities were particularly under suspicion. Years afterward, when Marie spoke of this reign of terror, her eyes flashed and her lips were set in a thin white line. Time did not make the memory less vivid.
"Every corridor of my father's school had finger-posts pointing to Siberia!" she declared dramatically.
When Marie was sixteen, she graduated from the "gymnasium" for girls, receiving a gold medal for excellence in mathematics and sciences. In Russia, as in Germany, the gymnasium corresponds to our high school, but also covers some of the work of the first two years of college. The name gymnasium signifies a place where the mind is exercised and made strong in preparation for the work of the universities.
The position as governess to the daughters of a Russian nobleman was offered to the brilliant girl with the sweet, serious eyes and gentle voice. As it meant independence and a chance to travel and learn the ways of the world, Marie agreed to undertake the work.
Now, for the first time in her life, the young Polish girl knew work that was not a labor of love. Her pupils cared nothing for the things that meant everything to her. How they loved luxury and show and gay chatter! How indifferent they were to truth that would make the world wiser and happier.
"How strangely you look, Mademoiselle Marie," said the little Countess Olga one day, in the midst of her French lesson. "Your eyes seem to see things far away."
Marie was truly looking past her pupils, past the rich apartment, beyond Russia, into the great world of opportunity for all earnest workers. She had overheard something about another plot among the students of Warsaw, and knew that some of her father's pupils had been put under arrest.
"Suppose they should try to make me testify against my friends," said the girl to herself. "I must leave Russia at once. My savings will surely take me to Paris, and there I may get a place as helper in one of the big laboratories, where I can learn as I work."
The eyes that had been dark with fear an instant before became bright with hope. Eagerly she planned a disguise and a way to slip off the very next night while the household was in the midst of the excitement of a masquerade ball.
Everything went well, and in due time she found her trembling self and her slender possessions safely stowed away on a train that was moving rapidly toward the frontier and freedom. No one gave a second thought to the little elderly woman with gray hair and spectacles who sat staring out of the window of her compartment at the fields and trees rushing by in the darkness and the starry heavens that the train seemed to carry with it. Her plain, black dress and veil seemed those of a self-respecting, upper-class servant, who was perhaps going to the bedside of a dying son.
"I feel almost as old as I look," Marie was saying to herself. "But how can a girl who is all alone in the world, with no one to know what happens to her, help feeling old? Down in my heart, though, I know that life is just beginning. There is something waiting for me beyond the blackness--something that needs just little me."
It was a wonderful relief when the solitary journey was over and the elderly disguise laid aside. "Shall I ever feel really young again?" said the girl, who was not quite twenty-four. But not for a moment did she doubt that there was work waiting for her in the big, unexplored world.
During those early days in Paris, Marie often had reason to be grateful for the plain living of her childhood that had made her independent of creature comforts. Now she knew actual want in her cold garret, furnished only with a cot and chair, like a hermit's cell. She lived, too, on hermit's fare--black bread and milk. But even when it was so cold that the milk was frozen,--cold comfort, indeed!--the fire of her enthusiasm knew no chill. Day after day she walked from laboratory to laboratory begging to be given a chance as assistant, but always with the same result. It was man's work; why did she not look for a place in a milliner's shop?
One day she renewed her appeal to Professor Lippman in the Sorbonne research laboratories. Something in the still, pale face and deep-set, earnest eyes caught the attention of the busy man. Perhaps this strange, determined girl was starving! And besides, the crucibles and test-tubes were truly in sad need of attention. Grudgingly he bade her clean the various accessories and care for the furnace. Her deftness and skill in handling the materials, and a practical suggestion that proved of value in an important experiment, attracted the favorable notice of the professor. He realized that the slight girl with the foreign look and accent, whom he had taken in out of an impulse of pity, was likely to become one of his most valuable helpers.
A new day dawned for the ambitious young woman. While supporting herself by her laboratory work, she completed in two years the university course for a degree in mathematics, and, two years later, she won a second degree in physics and chemistry. In the meantime her enthusiasm for science and her undaunted courage in the face of difficulties and discouragements attracted the admiration of a fellow-worker, Pierre Curie, one of the most promising of the younger professors.
"I love you, and we both love the same things," he said one day. "Would it not be happier to live and work together than alone?"
And so began that wonderful partnership of two great scientists, whose hard work and heroic struggle, crowned at last by brilliant success, has been an inspiration to earnest workers the world over.
Madame Curie set up a little laboratory in their apartment, and toiled over her experiments at all hours. Her baby daughter was often bathed and dressed in this workroom among the test-tubes and the interesting fumes of advanced research.
"Irene is as happy in the atmosphere of science as her mother was," said Madame Curie to one of her husband's brother-professors who seemed surprised to find a crowing infant in a laboratory. "And if I could afford the best possible nurse, she could not take my place! For my baby and I know the joy of living and growing together with those we love."
What was the problem that the mother was working over even while she sewed for her little girl, or rocked her to sleep to the gentle crooning of an old Polish folk-song whose melody Chopin has wrought into one of his tenderest nocturnes?
[Illustration: Marie Sklodowska Curie]
The child who used to delight in experiments with light-waves in her father's laboratory, was interested in the strange glow which Prof. Becquerel had found that the substance known as uranium gave off spontaneously. Like the X-rays, this light passes through wood and other bodies opaque to sunlight. Madame Curie became deeply interested in the problem of the nature of the Becquerel rays and their wonderful properties, such as that of making the air a conductor for electricity. One day she discovered that pitchblende, the black mineral from which uranium is extracted, was more _radioactive_ (that is, it gave off more powerful rays) than the isolated substance itself, and she came to the conclusion that there was some other element in the ore which, could it be extracted, would prove more valuable than uranium.
With infinite patience and the skill of highly trained specialists in both physics and chemistry, Madame Curie and her husband worked to obtain this unknown substance. At times Pierre Curie all but lost heart at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way. "It cannot be done!" he exclaimed one day, with a groan. "Truly, 'Nature has buried Truth deep in the bottom of the sea.'"
"But man can dive, _cher ami_," said his wife, with a heartening smile. "Think of the joy when one comes up at last with the pearl--the pearl of truth!"
At last their toil was rewarded, and _two_ new elements were separated from pitchblende--polonium, so named by Madame Curie in honor of her native Poland, and radium, the most marvelous of all radioactive substances. A tiny pinch of radium, which is a grayish white powder not unlike coarse salt in appearance, gives out a strange glow something like that of fireflies, but bright enough to read by. Moreover, light and heat are radiated by this magic element with no apparent waste of its own amount or energy. Radium can also make some other substances, diamonds for instance, shine with a light like its own, and it makes the air a conductor of electricity. Its weird glow passes through bone almost as readily as through tissue-paper or through flesh, and it even penetrates an inch-thick iron plate.
The Curies now woke to find not only Paris but the world ringing with the fame of their discovery. The modest workers wanted nothing, however, but the chance to go on with their research. You know how Tennyson makes the aged Ulysses look forward even at the end of his life to one more last voyage. The type of the unconquerable human soul that ever presses on to fresh achievement, he says:
All experience is an arch where-thro' Gleams that untravel'd world, whose margin fades Forever and forever when I move.
So it was with Pierre Curie and his wife. Their famous accomplishment opened a new world of interesting possibilities, a world which they longed above all things to explore.
Their one trouble was the difficulty of procuring enough of the precious element they had discovered to go on with their experiments. Because radium is not only rare, but also exceedingly hard to extract from the ore, it is a hundred times more precious than pure gold. It is said that five tons of pitchblende were treated before a trifling pinch of the magic powder was secured. It would take over two thousand tons of the mineral to produce a pound of radium. Moreover, it was not easy to secure the ore, as practically all the known mines were in Austria, and those in control wanted to profit as much as possible by this chance.
"It does seem as if people might not stand in the way of our obtaining the necessary material to go on with our work," lamented Pierre Curie. "What we discover belongs to the world--to any one who can use it."
"We have passed other lions in the way. This, too, we shall pass," said Madame Curie, quietly.
They lived in a tiny house in an obscure suburb of Paris, giving all that they possessed--the modest income gained from teaching and lecturing, their share of the Nobel prize of $40,000, which, in 1903, was divided between them and Professor Becquerel, together with all their time and all their skill and knowledge, to their work.
For recreation they went for walks in the country with little Irene, often stopping for dinner at quaint inns among the trees. On one such evening, when Dr. Curie had just declined the decoration of the Legion of Honor, because it had "no bearing on his work," his small daughter climbed on his knee and slipped a red geranium into his buttonhole, saying, with comical solemnity: "You are now decorated with the Legion of Honor. Pray, Monsieur, what do you intend to do about it?"
"I like this emblem much better than a glittering star on a bit of red ribbon, and I love the hand that put it there," replied the father, his face lighting up with one of his rare smiles. "In this case I make no objection."
Other honors, which meant increased opportunity for work, were quietly accepted. Pierre Curie was elected to the French Academy--the greatest honor his country can bestow on her men of genius and achievement. Madame Curie received the degree of Doctor of Physical Science, and--a distinction shared with no other woman--the position of special lecturer at the Sorbonne, in Paris.
One day in 1906, when Dr. Curie, his mind intent on an absorbing problem, was absent-mindedly hurrying across a wet street, he slipped and fell under a passing truck and was instantly killed. When they attempted to break the news to Madame Curie by telling her that her husband had been hurt in an accident, she looked past them with a white, set face, and repeated over and over to herself, as if trying to get her bearings in the new existence that stretched blackly before her, "Pierre is dead; Pierre is dead."
Now, as on that night when she was leaving Russia for an unknown world, she saw a gleam in the blackness--there was work to be done! There was something waiting in the shadowy future for her, something that she alone could do. As on that other night, she found her lips shaping the words: "The big world has need of little me. But oh, it will be hard now to work alone!" Then her eyes fell on her two little girls (Irene was now eight years old and baby Eve was three), who were standing quietly near with big, wondering eyes fixed on their mother's strange face.
"Forgive me, darlings!" she cried, gathering her children into her arms. "We must try hard to go on with the work Father loved. _Together_ is a magic word for us still, little daughters!"
Everybody wondered at the courage and quiet power with which Madame Curie went out to meet her new life. She succeeded to her husband's professorship, and carried on his special lines of investigation as well as her own. The value of her work to science and to humanity may be indicated by the fact that in 1911 the Nobel prize was again awarded to her--the only time it has ever been given more than once to the same person.
At home, she tried to be father as well as mother. She took the children for walks in the evening, and while she sewed on their dresses and knitted them mittens and mufflers, she told them stories of the wonderland of science.
"Why do you take time to write down everything you do?" asked Eve one day, as she looked over her mother's shoulder at the neat note-book in which the world-famous scientist was summing up the work of the day.
"Why does a seaman keep a log, dearie?" the mother questioned with a smile. "A laboratory is just like a ship, and I want things shipshape. Every day with me is like a voyage--a voyage of discovery."
"But why do you put question marks everywhere, Mother!" persisted the child.
It was true that the pages fairly bristled with interrogation points. Madame Curie laughed as if she had never noticed this before. "It is good to have an inquiring mind, child," she said. "I am like my children; I love to ask questions. And when one gets an answer,--when you really discover something,--it only leads to more questions; and so we go on from one thing to another."
When Madame Curie was asked on one occasion to what she attributed her success, she replied, without hesitation: "To my excellent training: first, under my father, who taught me to wonder and to test; second, under my husband, who understood and encouraged me; and third, under my children, who question me!"
[Illustration: Madame and Dr. Curie and their little daughter Irene]
It is the day of one of Madame Curie's lectures. The dignified halls of the university are a-flutter with many visitors from the world of wealth and fashion. There, too, are distinguished scientists from abroad, among whom are Lord Kelvin, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Sir William Ramsay. The President of France and his wife enter with royal guests, Don Carlos and Queen Amélie of Portugal, and the Shah of Persia. The plodding students and the sober men of learning, ranged about the hall, blink at the brilliant company like owls suddenly brought into the sunlight.
At a given moment the hum of conversation dies away and the assemblage rises to its feet as a little black-robed figure steps in and stands before them on the platform. There is an instant's stillness,--a hush of indrawn breath you can almost hear,--and then the audience gives expression to its enthusiasm in a sudden roar of applause. The little woman lifts up her hand pleadingly. All is still again and she begins to speak.
She is slight, almost pathetically frail, this queen of science. You feel as if all her life had gone into her work. Her face is pale, and her hair is only a shadow above her serious brow. But the deep-set eyes glow, and the quiet voice somehow holds the attention of those least concerned with the problems of advanced physics.
Bank and wealth mean nothing to this little black-robed professor. It is said that when she was requested by the president to give a special demonstration of radium and its marvels before the Shah of Persia, she amazed his Serene Highness by showing much more concern for her tiny tube of white powder than for his distinguished favor. When the royal guest, who had never felt any particular need of exercising self-control, saw the uncanny light that was able to pass through plates of iron, he gave a startled exclamation and made a sudden movement that tipped over the scientist's material. Now it was the Lady Professor's turn to be alarmed. To pacify her, the Shah held out a costly ring from his royal finger, but this extraordinary woman with the pale face paid not the slightest attention; she could not be bribed to forget the peril of her precious radium. It is to be doubted if the eastern potentate had ever before been treated with such scant ceremony.
In 1911, Madame Curie's name was proposed for election to the Academy of Sciences. While it was admitted that her rivals for the vacancy were below her in merit, she failed of being elected by two votes. There was a general protest, since it was felt that service of the first order had gone unrecognized merely because the candidate happened to be a woman. It was stated, however, that Madame Curie was not rejected for this reason, but because it was thought wise to appoint to that vacancy Professor Branly, who had given Marconi valuable aid in his invention of wireless telegraphy, and who, since he was then an old man, would probably not have another chance for the honor. As Madame Curie, on the other hand, was only forty-three, she could well wait for another vacancy.
Since the outbreak of the present war the world has heard nothing new of the work of the Heroine of Radium. We do not doubt, however, that like all the women of France and all her men of science, she is giving her strength and knowledge to the utmost in the service of her adopted country. But we know, also, that just as surely she is seeing the pure light of truth shining through the blackness, and that she is "following the gleam." When the clouds of war shall have cleared away, we may see that her labors now, as in the past, have not only been of service to her country, but also to humanity. For Truth knows no boundaries of nation or race, and he who serves Truth serves all men.
THE HEART OF HULL-HOUSE:
The Russian peasants have a proverb that says: "Labor is the house that Love lives in"; by which they mean that no two people, or group of people, can come into affectionate relation with each other unless they carry on a mutual task.
THE HEART OF HULL-HOUSE
Do you remember what the poet says of Peter Bell?
At noon, when by the forest's edge He lay beneath the branches high, The soft blue sky did never melt Into his heart: he never felt The witchery of the soft blue sky!
In the same way, when he saw the "primrose by the river's brim," it was not to him a lovely bit of the miracle of upspringing life from the unthinking clod; it was just a common little yellow flower, which one might idly pick and cast aside, but to which one never gave a thought. He saw the sky and woods and fields and human faces with the outward eye, but not with the eye of the heart or the spirit. He had eyes for nothing but the shell and show of things.
This is the story of a girl who early learned to see with the "inward eye"; she "felt the witchery of the soft blue sky" and all the wonder of the changing earth, and something of the life about her melted into her heart and became part of herself. So it was that she came to have a "belonging feeling" for all that she saw--fields, pine woods, mill-stream, birds, trees, and people.
Perhaps little Jane Addams loved trees and people best of all. Trees were so big and true, with roots ever seeking a firmer hold on the good brown earth, and branches growing up and ever up, year by year, turning sunbeams into strength. And people she loved, because they had in them something of all kinds of life.
There was one special tree that had the friendliest nooks where she could nestle and dream and plan plays as long as the summer afternoon. Perhaps one reason that Jane loved this tree was that it reminded her of her tall, splendid father.
[Illustration: Jane Addams]
"You are so big and beautiful, and yet you always have a place for a little girl--even one who can never be straight and strong," Jane whispered, as she put her arms about her tree friend. And when she crept into the shelter of her father's arms, she forgot her poor back, that made her carry her head weakly on one side when she longed to fling it back and look the world in the face squarely, exultingly, as her father's daughter should.
"There is no one so fine or so noble as my father," Jane would say to herself as she saw him standing before his Bible-class on Sundays. Then her cheek paled, and her big eyes grew wistful. It would be too bad if people discovered that this frail child belonged to him. They would be surprised and pity him, and one must never pity Father. So it came about that, though it was her dearest joy to walk by his side clinging to his hand, she stepped over to her uncle, saying timidly, "May I walk with you, Uncle James?"
This happened again and again, to the mild astonishment of the good uncle. At last a day came that made everything different. Jane, who had gone to town unexpectedly, chanced to meet her father coming out of a bank on the main street. Smiling gaily and raising his shining silk hat, he bowed low, as if he were greeting a princess; and as the shy child smiled back she knew that she had been a very foolish little girl indeed. Why of course! Her father made everything that belonged to him all right just because it _did_ belong. He had strength and power enough for them both. As she walked by his side after that, it seemed as if the big grasp of the hand that held hers enfolded all the little tremblings of her days.
"What are these funny red and purple specks?" Jane asked once as she looked with loving admiration at the hand to which she clung.
"Those marks show that I've dressed millstones in my time, just as this flat right thumb tells any one who happens to notice that I began life as a miller," said her father.
After that Jane spent much time at the mill industriously rubbing the ground wheat between thumb and forefinger; and when the millstones were being dressed, she eagerly held out her little hands in the hope that the bits of flying flint would mark her as they had her father. These marks, she dimly felt, were an outward sign of her father's true greatness. He was a leading citizen of their Illinois community by right of character and hard-won success. Everybody admired and honored him. Did not President Lincoln even, who was, her father said, "the greatest man in the world," write to him as a comrade and brother, calling him "My dear Double D'ed Addams"?
Years afterward, when Jane Addams spoke of her childhood, she said that all her early experiences were directly connected with her father, and that two incidents stood out with the distinctness of vivid pictures.
She stood, one Sunday morning, in proud possession of a beautiful new cloak, waiting for her father's approval. He looked at her a moment quietly, and then patted her on the shoulder.
"Thy cloak is very pretty, Jane," said the Quaker father, gravely; "so much prettier, indeed, than that of the other little girls that I think thee had better wear thy old one." Then he added, as he looked into her puzzled, disappointed eyes, "We can never, perhaps, make such things as clothes quite fair and right in this hill-and-valley world, but it is wrong and stupid to let the differences crop out in things that mean so much more; in school and church, at least, people should be able to feel that they belong to one family."
Another day she had gone with her father on an errand into the poorest quarter of the town. It had always before seemed to her country eyes that the city was a dazzling place of toy- and candy-shops, smooth streets, and contented houses with sleek lawns. Now she caught a glimpse of quite another city, with ugly, dingy houses huddled close together and thin, dirty children standing miserably about without place or spirit to play.
"It is dreadful the way all the comfortable, happy people stay off to themselves," said Jane. "When I grow up, I shall, of course, have a big house, but it is not going to be set apart with all the other big homes; it is going to be right down among the poor horrid little houses like these."
Always after that, when Jane roamed over her prairie playground or sat dreaming under the Norway pines which had grown from seeds that her father had scattered in his early, pioneer days, she seemed to hear something of "the still, sad music of humanity" in the voice of the wind in the tree-tops and in the harmony of her life of varied interests. For she saw with the inward eye of the heart, and felt the throb of all life in each vital experience that was hers. It would be impossible to live apart in pleasant places, enjoying beauty which others might not share. She must live in the midst of the crowded ways, and bring to the poor, stifled little houses an ideal of healthier living. She would study medicine and go as a doctor to the forlorn, dirty children; but first there would be many things to learn.
It was her dream to go to Smith College, but her father believed that a small college near her home better fitted one for the life to which she belonged.
"My daughter is also a daughter of Illinois," he said, "and Rockford College is her proper place. Afterward she may go east and to Europe in order to gain a knowledge of what the world beyond us can give, and so get a fuller appreciation of what life at home is and may be."
Jane Addams went, therefore, to the Illinois college, "The Mt. Holyoke of the West," a college famed for its earnest, missionary spirit. The serious temper of her class was reflected in their motto which was the Anglo-Saxon word for lady--_hláfdige_ (bread-kneader), translated as _bread-giver_; and the poppy was selected for the class flower, "because poppies grow among the wheat, as if Nature knew that wherever there was hunger that needed food there would be pain that needed relief."
The study in which she took the keenest interest was history,--"the human tale of this wide world,"--but even at the time of her greatest enthusiasm she realized that while knowledge comes from the records of the past, wisdom comes from a right understanding of the actual life of the present.
After receiving from her Alma Mater the degree of B. A., she entered the Woman's Medical College in Philadelphia to prepare for real work in a real world, but the old spinal trouble soon brought that chapter to a close. After some months in Doctor Weir Mitchell's hospital, and a longer time of invalidism, she agreed to follow her doctor's pleasant prescription of two years in Europe.
"When I returned I decided to give up my medical course," said Jane Addams, "partly because I had no real aptitude for scientific work, and partly because I discovered that there were other genuine reasons for living among the poor than that of practicing medicine upon them."
While in London Miss Addams saw much of the life of the great city from the top of an omnibus. Once she was taken with a number of tourists to see the spectacle of the Saturday night auction of fruits and vegetables to the poor of the East Side, and the lurid picture blotted out all the picturesque impressions, full of pleasant human interest and historic association, that she had been eagerly enjoying during this first visit to London town. Always afterwards, when she closed her eyes, she could see the scene; it seemed as if it would never leave her. In the flare of the gas-light, which made weird and spectral the motley, jostling crowd and touched the black shadows it created into a grotesque semblance of life, she saw wrinkled women, desperate-looking men, and pale children vying with each other to secure with their farthings and ha'pennies the vegetables held up by a hoarse, red-faced auctioneer.
One haggard youth sat on the curb, hungrily devouring the cabbage that he had succeeded in bidding in. Her sensation-loving companions on the bus stared with mingled pity and disgust; but the girl who saw what she looked on with the inward eye of the heart turned away her face. The poverty that she had before seen had not prepared her for wretchedness like this.
"For the following weeks," she said, "I went about London furtively, afraid to look down narrow streets and alleys lest they disclose this hideous human need and suffering. In time, nothing of the great city seemed real save the misery of its East End."
[Illustration: Polk Street façade of Hull-House buildings]
[Illustration: A corner of the Boys' Library at Hull-House]
This first impression of London's poverty was, of course, not only lurid, but quite unfair. She knew nothing of the earnest workers who were devoting their lives to the problem of giving the right kind of help to those who, through weakness, ignorance, or misfortune, were not able to help themselves.
When, five years later, she visited Toynbee Hall, she saw effective work of the kind she had dimly dreamed of ever since, as a little girl, she had wanted to build a beautiful big house among the ugly little ones in the city. Here in the heart of the Whitechapel district, the most evil and unhappy section of London's East End, a group of optimistic, large-hearted young men, who believed that advantages mean responsibilities, had come to live and work. While trying to share what good birth, breeding, and education had given them with those who had been shut away from every chance for wholesome living, they believed that they in turn might learn from their humble neighbors much that universities and books cannot teach.
"I have spent too much time in vague preparation for I knew not what," said Jane Addams. "At last I see a way to begin to live in a really real world, and to learn to do by doing."
And so Hull-House was born. In the heart of the industrial section of Chicago, where workers of thirty-six different nations live closely herded together, Miss Addams found surviving a solidly built house with large halls, open fireplaces, and friendly piazzas. This she secured, repaired, and adapted to the needs of her work, naming it Hull-House from its original owner, one of Chicago's early citizens.
"But we must not forget that the house is only the outward sign," said Miss Addams. "The real thing is the work. 'Labor is the house that love lives in,' and as we work together we shall come to understand each other and learn from each other."
"What are you going to put in your house for your interesting experiment?" Miss Addams was asked.
"Just what I should want in my home anywhere--even in your perfectly correct neighborhood," she replied with a smile.
You can imagine the beautiful, restful place it was, with everything in keeping with the fine old house. On every side were pictures and other interesting things that she had gathered in her travels.
Of course, Miss Addams was not alone in her work. Her friend, Ellen Gates Starr, was with her from the beginning. Miss Julia Lathrop, who is now the head of the Children's Bureau in Washington, was another fellow-worker. Soon many volunteers came eagerly forward, some to teach the kindergarten, others to take charge of classes and clubs of various kinds. They began by teaching different kinds of hand-work, which then had no place in the public schools.
"One little chap, who was brought into the Juvenile Court the other day for breaking a window, confessed to the judge that he had thrown the stone 'a-purpose to get pinched,' so they would send him to a school where 'they learn a fellow to make things,'" Miss Addams was told.
Classes in woodwork, basketry, sewing, weaving, and other handicrafts were eagerly patronized. There were also evening clubs where boys and girls who had early left school to work in factories could learn to make things of practical value or listen to reading and the spirited telling of the great world-stories.
One day Miss Addams met a small newsboy as he hastily left the house, vainly trying to keep back signs of grief. "There is no use of coming here any more," he said gruffly; "Prince Roland is dead!"
The evening classes were also social clubs, where the children who seemed to be growing dull and unfeeling like the turning wheels among which they spent their days could relax their souls and bodies in free, happy companionship and get a taste of natural living.
"Young people need pleasure as truly as they need food and air," said Miss Addams. "When I see the throngs of factory-girls on our streets in the evening, it seems to me that the pitiless city sees in them just two possibilities: first, the chance to use their tender labor-power by day, and then the chance to take from them their little earnings at night by appealing to their need of pleasure."
One of the new buildings that was early added to the original Hull-House was a gymnasium, which provided opportunities for swimming, basket-ball, and dancing.
"We have swell times in our Hull-House club," boasted black-eyed Angelina. "Our floor in the gym puts it all over the old dancehalls for a jolly good hop,--no saloon next door with all that crowd, good classy music, and the right sort of girls and fellows. Then sometimes our club has a real party in the coffeehouse. That's what I call a fine, cozy time; makes a girl glad she's living."
Hull-House also puts within the reach of many the things which their active minds crave, and opens the way to a new life and success in the world.
"Don't you remember me?" a rising young newspaper man once said to Miss Addams. "I used to belong to a Hull-House club."
"Tell me what Hull-House did for you that really helped," she took occasion to ask.
"It was the first house I had ever been in," he replied promptly, "where books and magazines just lay around as if there were plenty of them in the world. Don't you remember how much I used to read at that little round table at the back of the library?"
Some good people who visit the Settlement in a patronizing mood are surprised to discover that many of "these working-girls" have a taste for what is fine. Miss Addams likes to tell them about the intelligent group who followed the reading of George Eliot's "Romola" with unflagging interest.
"The club was held in our dining-room," she said to one incredulous visitor, "and two of the girls came early regularly to help wash the dishes and arrange the photographs of Florence on the table. Do you know," she added, looking her prosperous guest quietly in the eyes, "that the young woman of whom you were inquiring about 'these people' is one of our neighborhood girls? Those who live in these dingy streets because they are poor and must live near their work are not a different order of beings. Don't forget what Lincoln said, 'God must love the common people--He made so many of them.' You have only to live at Hull-House a while to learn how true it is that God loves them."
"Nothing has ever meant more real inspiration to me," said a student of sociology from the university, who had spent a year in the Settlement, "than the way the poor help each other. A woman who supports three children by scrubbing will share her breakfast with the people in the next tenement because she has heard that they are 'hard up'; a man who has been out of work has a month's rent paid by a young chap in the stock-yards who boarded with him last year; a Swedish girl works in the laundry for her German neighbor to let her stay home with her sick baby--and so it goes."
"Our people have, too, many other hardships besides the frequent lack of food and fuel," said Miss Addams. "There are other hungers. Do you know what it means for the Italian peasant, used to an outdoor life in a sunny, easy-going land, to adapt himself to the ways of America? It is a very dark, shut-in Chicago that many of them know. At one of the receptions here an Italian woman who was delighted with our red roses was also surprised that they could be 'brought so fresh all the way from Italy.' She would not believe that roses grew in Chicago, because she had lived here six years and had never seen any. One always saw roses in Italy. Think of it! She had lived for six years within ten blocks of florists' shops, but had never seen one!"
"Yes," said Miss Starr, "they lose the beauties and joys of their old homes before they learn what the new can give. When we had our first art exhibit, an Italian said that he didn't know that Americans cared for anything but dollars--that looking at pictures was something people did only in Italy."
A Greek was overjoyed at seeing a photograph of the Acropolis at Hull-House. He said that before he came to America he had prepared a book of pictures in color of Athens, because he thought that people in the new country would like to see them. At his stand near a big railroad-station he had tried to talk to some of those who stopped to buy about "the glory that was Greece," but he had concluded that Americans cared for nothing but fruit and the correct change!
At Hull-House the Greeks, Italians, Poles, and Germans not only find pictures which quicken early memories and affections, but they can give plays of their own country and people. The "Ajax" and "Electra" of Sophocles have been presented by Greeks, who felt that they were showing ignorant Americans the majesty of the classic drama. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays are celebrated by plays and pageants. Nor are the great days of other lands forgotten. Garibaldi and Mazzini, who fought for liberty in Italy, are honored with Washington and Lincoln.
Old and young alike take part in the dramatic events. A blind patriarch, who appeared in Longfellow's "Golden Legend," which was presented one Christmas, spoke to Miss Addams of his great joy in the work.
"Kind Heart," he said (that was his name for her),--"Kind Heart, it seems to me that I have been waiting all my life to hear some of these things said. I am glad we had so many performances, for I think I can remember them to the end. It is getting very hard for me to listen to reading, but the different voices and all made this very plain."
The music classes and choruses give much joy to the people, and here it seems possible to bring together in a common feeling those widely separated by tradition and custom. Music is the universal language of the heart. Bohemian and Polish women sing their tender and stirring folk-songs. The voices of men and women of many lands mingle in Schubert's lovely melodies and in the mighty choruses of Handel.
As Miss Addams went about among her neighbors she longed to lead them to a perception of the relation between the present and the past. If only the young, who were impatiently breaking away from all the old country traditions, could be made to appreciate what their parents held dear; if the fathers and mothers could at the same time understand the complex new order in which their children were struggling to hold their own. When, one day, she saw an old Italian woman spinning with distaff and spindle, an idea came to her. A Labor Museum, that would show the growth of industries in every country, from the simplest processes to the elaborate machinery of modern times, might serve the purpose.
The working-out of her plan far exceeded her wildest dream. Russians, Germans, and Italians happily foregathered to demonstrate and compare methods of textile work with which they were familiar. Other activities proved equally interesting. The lectures given among the various exhibits met with a warm welcome. Factory workers, who had previously fought shy of everything "improving," came because they said these lectures were "getting next to the stuff you work with all the time."
Hull-House has worked not only _with_ the people but _for_ them, by trying to secure laws that will improve the conditions under which they labor and live. The following incident will speak for the fight that Miss Addams has made against such evils as child labor and sweat-shop work.
The representatives of a group of manufacturers waited upon her and promised that if she would "drop all this nonsense about a sweat-shop bill of which she knew nothing," certain business men would give fifty thousand dollars for her Settlement. The steady look which the lady of Hull-House gave the spokesman made him wish that some one else had come with the offer of the bribe.
"We have no ambition," said Miss Addams, "to make Hull-House the largest institution in Chicago; but we are trying to protect our neighbors from evil conditions; and if to do that, the destruction of our Settlement should be necessary, we would gladly sing a Te Deum on its ruins."
The girl who saw what she looked on with "the eye of the heart," had become a leader in the life and the reforms of her time. "On the whole," one writer has said of her, "the reach of this woman's sympathy and understanding is beyond all comparison wider in its span--comprehending all kinds of people--than that of any other living person."
Jane Addams has won her great influence with people by the simple means of working with them. Her life and the true Hull-House--the work itself, not the buildings which shelter it--give meaning to the saying that "Labor is the house that love lives in."
Simple typographical errors were corrected.
Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.
This book contains double quotation marks within double quotation marks.