THE EDUCATlON OF A WOMAN.*
It is an honor to be permitted any share, however humble, in such Anniversary exercises as these. As a fellow-worker from an adjoining field, I come to congratulate both teachers and scholars here upon the results of another rounded year of labor. Some of these results are visible, and we see them before us. Many more are not open to casual sight, but are all the more permanent and valuable. The teacher's reward is not so much in the present, as in the future. As Jean Paul says of the obscure teachers of village schools: "They fall from notice like the spring blossoms, but they fall that the fruit may be born." So, as I look about me upon these many evidences of thorough and successful work, and reflect that all this patient endeavor and achievement has gone to the widening of mental view, the training of faculty, and the building up of character, I am filled with rejoicing that such institutions exist, and that such teachers devote to them the unselfish service of their lives.
And yet, it is not merely the assurancc of my reverent regard that I would extend to-day. I would, if possible, give some help also. Lofty estimates of others' work are more cheering, if they are accompanied by something that shall make the practical problems of that work more comprehensible, or its prosecution more inspiring. It would be presumptuous for one whose thoughts have been mainly occupied in another sphere of inquiry to assume to settle any of the vexed questions here. And yet the subject of The Education of a Woman is one upon which each of us may well have thoughts of his own. Let me venture, even in the presence of those whose practical experience has been far greater than mine, to give you a few results of my reflections.
The most difficult problem of education in general is, how at once to store the mind, and to set the mind to work. Reception on the one hand, and mental gymnastics on the other, — the filling of the furnace, and the fusing of the ore. Education certainly implies this last. Etymologically, as you know, the word means a "drawing forth," and it implies that the mind has in it certain hidden capacities or powers, which by appropriate means can be drawn forth in exercise or use. Now there is important truth here. Education is a process of eliciting the inner aptitudes of the soul, and training them to harmonious and effective action. Discipline is one of its most obvious implications. But you are well aware that it is possible to carry this idea too far. There are certain doctrinaires who would make discipline the be-all and end-all of education. They would develop the mind by taxing it,
* An Address delivered at the Commencement of the Granger Place School. Canandaiirun, Tuesday morning, June 20, 1882.
just as you bring out the elasticity of a ru bber band by stretching it. Within are inexhaustible fountains, they would say; all you have to do is to draw upon them. Out of itself the mind will spin you a web, as the spider does. It may criticise and compare what comes to it from without, but all real material of knowledge is from within. And this scheme reaches its acme and best illustration in the idealistic philosophy, which regards the external world as merely the inward creation of him who thinks it — constructed only out of "such stuff as dreams are made of."
The German Christlieb has well expressed the fundamental error of this way of thinking, when he says: "Reason is not a material source of knowledge, but a faculty without concrete contents." You cannot expect to get anything out, unless you first put something in. Involution before evolution, always. Education does not consist simply in discipline. All our mechanical systems of school training need to be corrected here. Before discipline, and in order to furnish the material upon which it is to work, there must be impartation and reception of truth. Before the training and drawing forth of faculty are possible, there must be something for faculty to work upon. How do you draw out the plant? Surely not by stretching it, as you stretch the elastic baud. No, you treat it as a living thing. You supply it with soil and water and sunshine. You impart to it, before you expect it to impart to you. Now the human soul is, in like manner, a living thing. It is not independent of God or of the truth. It never will create God or the universe. And yet it must be brought into contact with these, or it will never grow. This is the teacher's work — to bring truth in contact with the living mind and soul. Truth is the mind's natural nutriment and stimulus. Impartation of truth is the first part of education; the drawing out and exercise of the powers is the second.
Thus I have taken you back to the basis of all education — the truth. The teacher hus the magnificent task of bringing the wide range of truth in contact with the mind, and of directing the processes of the mind as it appropriates the truth and exercises itself upon it; while the scholar has the correspondingly noble task, first, of reception from without, and then of living reconstruction from within. But now I wish you to push on with me to another point of view, and to consider that the success of education is to be tested by the scholar's ability to find truth for himself, and to be independent of his teacher. That is a very dead and mechanical view of education which conceives of it as the stamping of the seal into soft wax,— it is more nearly like the transformation of the wax into a seal. The teacher's work is not done, until the scholar is ready to be a teacher. The teacher has imparted nothing of great value, unless he has imparted the love for knowledge; the disposition to use elementary training as the instrument for further investigation; and such facility and accuracy in the processes of study, as turns them from a burden into a pleasure. How much we owe to the personal influences that have formed our youthful ambitions! Many a noble woman looks back to the teachers of this school as the source of that passion for knowledge which has elevated and refined her whole life, and many more I trust will yet go out from these walls, scorning to be mere reflectors of chance influences from without; burning after some original understanding of philosophy and science, of literature and history and art; and ready to be, under God, independent centres of thought and of motive power to others.
We sometimes speak of "the higher education,"—and we ordinarily mean by it all training beyond that of our common schools. The higher education would to most minds imply something of classical study. But I am inclined to use the phrase in a new sense, and to say that no human being, whatever he may study, passes over the line which separates the lower education from the higher, until he seeks knowledge, not from reward or from compulsion, but from an inward love. Let us call that the lower education which busies itself with youth while they are yet mainly in the receptive stage, exercising themselves for the most part upon what they have received from without, and held to their work more because they have been set there to do it, than because of any eager desire of their own. The higher education begins whenever the pupil wakes to the recognition of the slumbering possibilities of his being, and begins of his own accord to reach outward after the true, the beautiful, and the good. In the lower education, the teacher imparts knowledge as a manufactured article; in the higher, he furnishes only the raw material, and moves the pupil to manufacture for himself. In the lower, the scholar is still wholly dependent; in the higher, he has acquired something of spontaneity, and ability to conduct business for himself. There is no educated man or woman who does not remember the passage from the one stage to the other as one of the marked epochs of life, and say of it: '' Then first I emerged from bondage into freedom." And the glory of these school months and years is this, that they witness these changes from the chrysalis state, — the leaving behind of childhood, and the dawn of a new intellectual life and liberty.
Receptivity and spontaneity,— these are the two things I have thus far urged as essential to true education. But I must mention another, and that is — exhaustive study within a certain limited sphere. I shall never forget my first college recitation, and the seemingly infinite number of questions which I found could be asked about one line of the Iliad. For the first time in my life I learned what it was to study a subject thoroughly,— to leave no stone unturned,— to examine it in all its relations. To learn that lesson is worth years of work. One text-book, absolutely mastered, is worth a whole library skimmed over and half forgotten. We may utter inward objurgations upon the head of the teacher who will not tolerate inaccuracy, but we bless afterwards; while the teacher who smooths over our errors and neglects we may only curse in after years. Let us set the standard of scholastic attainment so high that a tone of thoroughness shall be imparted to the whole thinking and life. Here, if I mistake not, is the fault which most educated men find with the ordinary girls' schools of our day,— they do not ground their pupils thoroughly in the elements of knowledge; and, the foundation being insecure, the superstructure cannot possibly be firm. And this is the fault of much of women's writing. There are sprightliness, imagination, clear observation, inimitable strokes of description. With a little more thoroughness, as another has said, all that liveliness might become literature. But habits of exactness have not been cultivated,—the one flaw spoils the diamond. Patient production under criticism, the weighing of every word, the endless labor that makes a work of art,— these things must be learned in school days, or never. I am glad that there is so much in this School that answers to this idea of intellectual honesty. Be sure that there is no nobler praise than this for a seminary of learning, that it sends out students who know what they pretend to know. To do a few things thoroughly well,—this should be the constant aim of our modern education.
And yet, as I said a little while ago that receptivity must be complemented by spontaneity, so here I must urge that this thoroughness in a limited sphere should be complemented by a certain breadth and completeness of culture. We not only need to know everything of something, but also something of everything. It does not follow that, because I cannot, with Macaulay, "say off all my Archbishops of Canterbury," it is useless for me to know about that early Archbishop, Thomas a-Becket, or thut latest of all, Archbishop Tail. Knowledge is for use, and a little of it, instead of being a dangerous thing, may save a life from poisoning, or wing God's arrows of mercy to f>ome recalcitrant and obdurate heart. One of the great advantages of schools like this is, that the pupil s°es, in classmates and in teachers alike, many varieties of excellence, recognizes and admires many traits of character and gifts of mind, the very existence of which in the world was unknown before. Conceit and egotism disappear. So too with regard to studies. We commonly get our first bent toward a new kind of knowledge by the observation of some friend's enthusiasm for it. In a generous commonwealth like that of the seminary, we learn to respect all studies which have come to occupy the heads and hearts of its citizens. Provincialism and bigotry cannot live in such an atmosphere. I know that there are curious gusta of popular opinion in such schools, and universal, though temporary, misjudgments. But these errors correct themselves after a little, and the errors themselves are not half so narrow as the prejudices of the city set or clique. Breadth of view, and a generous sympathy with all good men and all good things, can nowhere be better learned than amid tho peculiar excitements and emulations of the school, under the guiding hands of calm and wise teachers, with the whole world of truth and beauty opening around one like a new creation of God.
Ought women to learn the alphabet? So Mr. Higginson asked mockingly, a few years ago. But in some antediluvian era it was doubtless asked seriously. And there are people now who ask what good there is in women's learning Conic Sections and Greek. The only answer is, that God has given to women, just as he has to men, an intellectual nature, and that this fact binds them to make the most of themselves for his glory and for the good of humankind. He has bestowed upon them a talent,— he will require his own with usury. He has put within them a desire to know,—let them venture out upon the limitless track of discovery, and make tributary all the continents of knowledge. Let them study Geometry, for nothing exists like her demonstrations to teach us what it is to have a thing proved beyond all question or peradventure. Let them study Logic to sharpen their reasoning powers, and Grammar to discipline their powers of thought. Language opens the doors into other literatures, and furnishes the material for expression. Rhetoric teaches us how to order this material aright. Astronomy tells the laws of planetary motion in the great concave above us; Geology describes the making of the world beneath our feet; Chemistry whispers of the secret constitution of the air we breathe. We study Physiology, to learn the wonderful mechanism of our bodies; Psychology, to get some idea of tho powers and processes of our minds. How shall we know the simplest facts of production and of commerce unless we have studied Political Economy; how can the past, with the lessons of its suffering and trinmph, its progress and its failures, be other than a dreary blank to us, until wo have read History? Is there one of these things that a woman may not, should not, know?
A bishop of the English church said, no long time ago: "Our girls are doubtless very badly educated, but our boys will never find it out." I would not advise our girls to trust him. Our boys are learning all these things, and they are beginning to be impatient of the babyish superstitions which the girls are cherishing, in place of knowledge. Girls can never be quite happy, when they suspect that boys are laughing at them. The great philosopher, Kant, tells us that women carry books, as they do watches. The watches do not go, or if they go, they go wrong. They carry them, he says, only that it may be seen that they have them. Now if I believed this were true, I should not have thought it worth while to speak to you to-day. I should scorn to appeal to the motive of vanity. I appeal to the loftier instincts of womanhood, to the desire to be true, to the love of knowledge for its own sake, to the longing to be. of the highest use in the world, to the sacred ambition to attain likeness to Him in whose image we are made.
And, with this motive, I do not know what learning may not be consecrated. I believe that a young woman ought to learn everything, ought to do everything. "It is an ill mason that refuses any stone,"—so says the proverb. Thrust aside no experience or attainment as worthless,— some day it will be of value,— aye, all your life it will be of value, because it gives you confidence and the sense of power. Education, we have seen, is the drawing out, under proper nutriment and stimulus, of all the powers,— some, let us now say, with thoroughness; the rest, to the greatest extent consistent with the time at command nial with the rightful claims of the more important. The young woman should know how to use her physical powers, and to keep them in working trim. Beauty itself is duty,— since health is beauty, and health is a matter of food and air and sleep and exercise. Every girl should learn to row a boat and to ride a horse. She may or may not have a voice and an ear, but she should at least learn the elements of music and be taught the correct method of singing. She may or may not possess the dramatic faculty,— she should at auy rate train her elocutionary powers to a perfectly clear articulation, and learn to read aloud with propriety and expression. She may never be required to do the cooking of a family; nevertheless she ought to consider herself a helpless thing till she can make a loaf of bread. She may have her trousseau from Paris,—nevertheless she ought in an emergency to be able to make a dress. She may not be a bookkeeper,— but she can easily learn to keep her household accounts; she may never be a merchant's clerk,— but she ought to know how to draw a check upon the bank, or to write a letter in simple business form. There is no need that she be a politician or a litterateur, — but one hour a day spent in judicious scanning of the morning paper, or of the last critical review, will enable her to be a perpetual source of brightness and inspiration in the family, and will make her conversation an educating, stimulating, refining influence, throughout a wide circle of friends.
You have perceived, long since, that the education I am advocating is something broader than the mere education of the school. It is nothing less than the healthful and symmetrical development of the whole being — a process which may begin in school days, but which requires for its completion the labor of a life. Much is accomplished in the school, in an informal way, that never could be done in regular classes and by set lessons. The scholar who has eyes and ears attent to learn may get in a whole stock of preparation for life, while another is only dawdling. I value not least, in a School like this, that unconscious influence of example, shed continually by teachers and older scholars upon the younger and less mature, and transforming those on whom it falls,— I mean the influence of conversation, of temper, of demeanor, of tact and skill in entertaining guests, of generalship in administration of affairs. There are young persons who get tenfold more of education from society, than they will ever get from books. What they read they forget; the living voice impresses itself upon their memories. I am not excusing the neglect of books,— that would be a grievous blunder,— I am only urging the improvement, to the utmost, of other opportunities which the school affords, side by side with its scholastic work. A modern thinker has said that the only empire freely conceded to women is that of manners, but that this is worth all the rest put together. It is worth all the rest put together, if by manners we mean the whole pervasive but nameless influence that breathes through movement and tone and speech and act; for out of the heart thtr mouth speaketh, and a good manner cannot be counterfeited, because it is the shadowy effluence of the soul itself. To say then that one of the great matters of education is the attainment of a good manner is only to say, in another form of words, that education ought to give to every woman the gentle and quiet spirit, the large and calm intelligence, the quick sympathy, the modest self-confidence, the readiness upon emergency either to serve or to command, the constant setting of the claims of pleasure beneath the claims of duty, which constitute the genuinely Christian character. It is the poet's picture over again:
"A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveler between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill;
"A perfeet woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, to command;
And yet a spirit still, and bright.
With something of an angel light."
Let us reverently acknowledge that for the production of such scholarship as this there will have to be something more than merely human teaching. But I think that, if we do our duty, we may depend on a higher wisdom to reinforce and supplement our efforts. The large-minded womanhood of which I have been speaking has its directory and text-book in a certain venerable volume of which we know. I am sorry that the only great classic in which our American colleges pretend to give no instruction is the Bible. In Germany, with all its rationalism, it is not so. '' There are two books," says Pastor Braun to the boys of his Gymnasinm, "there are two books, all the ins and outs of which you must learn here,—they are Homer and the Bible." I am thankful that, in this respect, our girls' schools are commonly better than our colleges. The one book better than all books, the one book from which more of wisdom for the conduct of life can be drawn than from any or from all others combined, that one book is the Bible. Not Homer first and then the Bible, but the Bible first, and then all other books at an infinite remove. No education can be worthy of the name, which does not fill the soul with the knowledge and love of God and of his word. That alone can rectify our imperfect standards of judgment, fashion after the highest model of character, and send us out with a divine ambition to fill the lives of others with sweetness and beauty, to comfort the church of God, and to hasten the coming of the kingdom of truth and righteousness in the earth.
Thus my thoughts with regard to woman's education have circled about the four ideas of Receptivity, Spontaneity, Thoroughness, Breadth. You have noticed that I have not regarded the education of woman as essentially different from the education of man. She is a human being before she is a woman, and nothing that affects humanity should be foreign to her. There is a common liberal education which we give to all young men, irrespective of the fact that some are to enter the law, and others to devote themselves to civil engineering. We allow some slight modification of this course, according to the vocation which one is to follow. He who is to be a physician may take a little more of Chemistry; he who is to preach may take a little more of Greek. But to all we give substantially the same course, — to all we give the elements of a liberal culture. Now woman, as she is a human being, and therefore is man in the generic sense, has a valid claim to the same liberal culture which men enjoy. As she is not a man, but possessed of peculiar aptitudes and destined to a peculiar vocation, her course of training should be modified accordingly. She is the equal of man,— let her have as great advantages as he. She is different from man,— let her education be adapted to her idiosyncrasies and to her probable future work. If she have special gifts for Astronomy, let her by all means have the opportunity to study the higher mathematics and to calculate eclipses. If her tastes however be for literature and art, let her greatest strength be put forth in these. But, whatever be the minimum of required attainment for the young man, let that same be the minimum of required attainment for the young woman. Let liberal education for the young woman imply just as much of general training as it does for the young man.
An equal education, but not co-education. Physically the young woman is the weaker. She has her nervous force more at command, so that in competition with young men she can distance them for a time, but she gains this advantage only at fearful cost. The youth of study is followed by the age of nerves. The loss of health and spirits is poorly purchased by the higher examination marks. The acting President of one of our co-educating colleges told me that in his senior class there were three young women each one of whom was better than the best of the young men, but I told him that after-years were yet to be heard from. Let the aspiring girl resolve that she will secure a training equal in quantity and quality to the best which the schools for boys can give; but then let her also lay down two fundamental principles, first, that she will never set out to be a man, and secondly, that she will never attempt to do her work in the precise way in which men do. If she does, she will grasp after the shadow only to lose the substance of power, while her sceptre of womanly persuasion and delicate sympathy will have passed from her forever. Fifty years ago, a class of girls prepared for Harvard College and passed their Grammar School examinations as satisfactorily as the boys with whom they had been studying. They applied to President Quincy for admission. "Well, President Quincy, you feel sure the trustees will let us come, don't you?" "Oh, by no means," replied he, "this is a place only for men." Whereupon the young miss of sixteen, who had been speaker for the rest, burst into tears, and exclaimed with vehemence: "I wish I could annihilate the women, and let the men have everything to themselves!" I am glad she did not get her wish. What would have become of us, if she had? I am glad that our oldest and foremost University still prefers simultaneous education to co-education, — the offering of equal advantages to all without regard to sex, rather than the training of young women and young men together.
I am of course entirely prepared to hear that my scheme is a purely ideal one, and that, until the physical powers of young women are much greater than we see them now, and until these same young women are willing to postpone marriage a full ten years, the attainment of such a standard of education is wildly impracticable. This leads me to say that I am not unmindful of the great difficulties in the way. Let me mention some of them, and as I mention them, let me suggest methods for their removal. The first, and perhaps the chief, is found in the absurd elementary training that is now furnished equally to our boys and girls. No one who looks back to his own childhood can fail to perceive that under a competent teacher the work of his first twelve years might easily have been put into nine, and that with less of cost to nerve and brain than he actually had to pay. When we read of the training which James Mill gave to his son John Stuart, and which the historian Niebuhr received from his father, we begin to recognize that our own lack of early proficiency was not wholly due to native stupidity, but to a wrong conception on the part of our early teachers of the work to be done. At ten years of age Niebuhr knew his eight languages, and Mill was discussing logical problems with his father. The best specimens of the Kindergarten are showing how much can be accomplished in giving an elementary knowledge of natural science to children of five and six. A celebrated professor at Vassar, on a certain picnic occasion, was startled to hear his own children calling to him to come and play geology with them. They were taking a day of sport, to play over again what they played at the Kindergarten. The professor's department was a different one from that of geology, and he was obliged to confess himself too ignorant of the subject to play comfortably with his own children. The son of one of my old college teachers was looking over a text-book of chemistry. The boy's age was six years. Father and mother were both in the room, though both were busy with their own work. The small boy broke the silence with the question: "Father, do yon think there is any bicarbonate of soda in the pantry?" The father without much reflection replied, "I think not, my son," and turned again to his work. A few moments passed, when the boy spoke again: "Mother, do you think there is any bicarbonate of soda in the pantry?" The mother, much more decidedly: "No, my son, I think not," and turned to her work. The boy of six pondered deeply, and at last was. heard to say: "Father thinks there is none there, because he does n't know anything about the pantry; and mother thinks there if) n't any there, because she does n't know anything about chemistry."
Improved methods of training will do much to shorten the time spent in the drudgery of acquiring mere rudiments, and will fit the child to enter upon work that will elicit interest and will be doue for its own sake. I believe that there are many things which must be taught during the first five year's of the child's life or never. Among them is elocution — or at least the most important part of it, a clear articulation and a pure tone. In many an American family where final syllables are clipped, vowels shortened, and consonants half pronounced, an English nurse, with the full, clear enunciation so often found even among servants in England, would give the children simply by the unconscious influence of example and without any formal training, a lesson in elocution that a life-time would be too short to unlearn. It is a question, indeed, whether the pronunciation of the foreign languages is not best learned in childhood in the same way. One of my New York acquaintances employed a French nurse for his children, with peremptory instructions never to say to them an English word. The experiment was continued until the children did their quarreling in French, because that was most natural to them. A German nurse was then substituted for the French. The remarkable facility of the traveled and educated Russian in the speaking of languages not his own is due, not so much to any natural linguistic gift, as to this training in childhood. The child catches, as by instinct, the language that is spoken about him, whereas in later years the same acquisition would be made at great cost of time and labor, and many American parents residing on the Continent have been put out to find how much more quickly and how much more accurately their little children learned a language than they themselves did.
There has been some progress in our public schools, since we were children. It has been progress in accuracy and thoroughness, in a limited range. It is very questionable whether it has been progress in breadth, in development of thinking power, in real love for knowledge. The variety of the old curriculum was stimulating, and the teacher was apt to be wakened up by the variety of the things he taught. The modern principle of division of labor, which condemns the teacher to a narrow round, endlessly trodden, tends to make teaching mechanical. The vivlda vis is absent from it. The result is a sort of technical learning on the part of the scholar, which has little connection with life. We have still in our schools such relics of barbarism as the compulsory writing out of a thousand words after school, as a penalty for disorder, and the compulsory learniug, in their order, of a whole column of words arbitrarily following each other in the spelling-book. And as for power to write an intelligent letter, or to give account in grammatical language of a simple incident of every-day life, that is rare among the scholars of our public schools. We are all familiar with the investigation into the nature of the instruction at Quincy, Mass., which was conducted a few years ago by Mr. Charles Francis Adams, Jr., and the amazing ignorance with regard to the simplest practical matters which was found to exist among the older scholars of the public schools. The result of that exposure was the entire reconstruction of the system of public instruction, the retirement of certain fossilized officials, the abolition of the old plan of mere memorizing from text-books, and the adoption of a new method which substitutes instruction for mere hearing of recitations, brings the personality of the teacher into living contact with the scholar, and tests the value of the student's acquirements by his power to put the principles he learns to use in ways such as he is likely to use them in after life. I am happy to say that a lady of intelligence, in one of our neighboring towns, who had become convinced of the utter inadequacy of the ordinary school methods of that town, has introduced the Quincy system there, has imported teachers who had learned the art at Quincy, has secured the building of a school-house at private expense, has seen it filled with scholars, financially prosperous, and already producing such results that children of ten seem to be further advanced in powers of thought and expression than those of fifteen used to be. When such elementary training for both boys and girls shall become common, one of the great obstacles in the way of my general scheme for the edncation of young women will be removed.
Another difficulty with which woman's education has to contend, is that it does not extend over a sufficient period of time. Indeed, we may say that it commonly stops just when it has fairly begun. In this respect it differs very greatly from the best training given to young men. Only when the young man has mastered the elements of knowledge, and got command of the instruments of investigation, can he be-naid fairly to begin to think for himself. This period usually comes at the end of the Junior year in College, when he enters upon the broader s-tudies of the Senior. Then he perceives for the first time the use of his past acquisitions. Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Political Economy, Constitutional and International Law, the Philosophy of History — all these give him an outlook that is novel and inspiring. Or perchance, this recognition of himself as a free-born citizen in the great republic of letters begins only with his entrance upon the studies of his chosen profession. Then first he feels himself a man, bound to form judgments for himself, and deeply interested in knowing all that can l>e known about the art and mystery of theology, or medicine, or law. Then he finds himself, not only in possession of the discipline needed in conducting research for himself — the result of long continued and often irksome labors,—but he has also a physique hardened and vigorous and matured — a physique which he can subject to long continued strain without fear that it will break. In fine, the conditions of a real education are now for the first time in existence, and the results of three or four years of work are surprising. The youth changes into the man. These last years are worth all the rest put together.
Compare with this the intellectual history of the young woman, even under circumstances which are apt to be considered exceptionally favorable. Until she is eighteen, nineteen, or twenty, her physical system is not in its best estate,— indeed, the dangers attending a long-coutinued strain upon it are very great, as is proved by the multitude of wrecked constitutions which result from our present high-pressure system of education. Until she is twenty, she has not the physical strength for the hardest study. But — what is equally important to my purpose — she has not the maturity of mind. She has quick memory, but what she learns goes as quickly from her, for lack of time to reflect upon it, and for lack of understanding of its importance. She has susceptibility aud enthusiasm, but the3e are not yet under control of a dominant purpose. She does not know what to do with her powers, even if she had the will. She reaches the age at last when she has strength of body, discipline of her powers, maturity of judgment,—the age corresponding to that at which the young man first enters upon a real selfcentered growth, the age at which she herself is fairly prepared to begin study, the ag3 when three or four years would make her thoroughly accomplished, genuinely self-reliant, broadly thoughtful, in short truly educated, — aud just then and there she stops her intellectual work, turns her back on study, leaves her school, leaves behind her all this fund of discipline, and devotes herself to society aud to embroidery. There is no eud of young ladies who can show only a single thousand-dollar polka or nocturne as the net result of eight or nine years of musical training. And so, in more purely literary aud scientific work, the tools are sharpened at great cost through years of labor, only to bj allowed at the end of those years to lie aud rust. Of course we know what does it all. The mind of parents aud daughters alike is prepossess ;d with the idea that the age of twenty or twenty-two is the fit age for marriage. If the idea of fitness for marriage could only supersede this, it would be well for us. We have heard a great deal of advice about early marriages. They are encouraged by the public press. Well, we have the principle most fully exemplified in Siam, where a girl is betrothed at six and married at twelve. But civilization changes all this. It teaches us that the young woman should be educated, before she is married. And when we in America recognize, as fully as our English cousins do, that the fit age for marriage is not twenty, but rather twenty-five, we shall see the removal of the second great hindrance in the way of woman's education.
But now I must speak of a last hindrance, which is almost as serious. I mean the indifference of the average young woman to the means of culture within her reach. You will bear me witness that I do not regard education as a mere matter of the schools. It has to do with the whole woman, and with all life. For this reason, even those who leave school may still continue the process of self-training, — indeed no school education is of much value which does not form the habit of study, and make it a part of the very being. We shall have better educated women, when those we have are bent, school or no school, on securing the development of all their powers, on filling up the gaps in their knowledge, on knowing the what and the why in all departments of huraau activity. For this reason, travel is a great means of education. It forces things upon the attention which, merely read of, would not interest. Herbert Spencer has well said, that other things being equal, that individual and that nation makes greatest advance movement which has had the greatest variety of environment. Education is a very different thing from scholarship. There is a discipline of the faculties which comes from constant contact with men and women of varied temperaments and culture. By all means let us have scholarship,— but let us supplement it by knowledge of the world. Otherwise it will be narrow and unsympathetic. The educated woman may not be a scholar, but she may know the best in literature aud art; may have her taste cultivated by seeing the best pictures and by hearing the best music; may have a large and loving regard for human nature everywhere, because she has seen in it so much of good, and at the same time a power of estimating character und of distinguishing the true from the false, because her enthusiasm of humanity has been tempered by comparison of a multitude of actual examples. And here, as in the case of young men, lies the undeniable advantage of great schools. They constitute a world in themselves. Their inmates learn from one another. There is an enlargement of the individual as the individual feels merged in the great body. The silent, constant influence of the multitude of scholars is ever with us, like the pressure of the atmosphere, powerfully supporting us and furthering our effort even wheu we feel it least. If I could also say that these great bodies of students wore free from lawlessness of opinion anil of manner, I should think their influence wholly a good. It is ouly a qualified approbation I can give, with the admonition that the young woman who spends years of her life in such companionship should be self-centered, with principles and even manners in large degree formed, lest the school sentiment override the society sentiment, and conventionalities lose their true aspect of rationality. To become rude and mannish, to lose the gentle and quiet spirit, to learn forth-putting and egotism, this would be too largo a price to pay for any merely intellectual advantage. In Mrs. Kemble's autobiography published three years ago, she tells us that more than once, when looking from her reading-desk over the sea of faces uplifted towards her, a sudden feeling seized her that she must say something from herself to all those human beings whose attention she felt at that moment entirely at her command, and between whom and herself a sense of sympathy thrilled powerfully and strangely through her heart, as she looked steadfastly at them before opening her lips. But she adds that on wondering afterwards what sho might, could, would or should have said to them from herself, she never could think of anything but two words: "Be good '."
Frances Power Cobbe, in her recent essay on the fitness of woman for the ministry of the religion, quotes thus remark of Mrs. Kemble as indicating that women of genins feel within them an impulse to use their powers of emotion and expression in public address. I draw from it the opposite conclusion, that the most gifted women feel the incongruity of assuming to be teachers in the pulpit or upon the platform. There were prophetesses of old, indeed; a Jean d'Arc roused France against the invader; a Mrs. Booth, of the Salvation Army, is the most effective preacher in England. But publicity must be justified, not as the rule, but as an exception to the rule. Quiet ways for the most are best. And in these quiet ways the education of a woman best proceeds. I am persuaded that it is in the power of every woman to educate herself. However small her present attainments may be, if she will but regularly devote to the reading of good literature a single hour in each day, this simple habit will in the progress of years give her an education which will qualify her to exert a real and beneficent influence on the tone of society around her. On,e such woman I have known. The cares of a largo household have not broken in upon her devotion of this one hour to the improvement of her mind. Her example is an incitement and stimulus to the young,— her conversation is elevating to the circle in which she moves. It seems an easy thing to compass this self-education. But will the average woman of our time do it? No, she has not time. She can spend hours in making and receiving calls, hours in the details of household management, hours in shopping and in the preparation of her dress,— but one hour a day for communion with the master minds of all time she cannot give,— it is enough for her if she succeeds in reading her Bible and in saying her prayers. Still, she that has ears to hear, let her hear. There is the ideal. She who strives after it will surely accomplish more than she who gives up the struggle is despair.
Marheinecke tells us that we need never fear that women will become too learned. Learned women, he says, only need husbands who are more learned than themselves. I wish I could assure each womau who loves knowledge that the kind fates would entangle the thread of her life with that of some man who knows more than she. But all I can promise is that she will deserve it. And whatever may betide, this stands fast,— the ambition to reach the noblest heights of womanhood, to compass the widest fields of knowledge, to wield the largest influence for good, to bring the grandest tribute of praise to him who created and redeemed mankind,— this is to attain the end of her being, and to fulfill the purpose for which God created her and sent her into the world. Each one of us is a separate creature of God, and each one's work, however solitary it may be, or however linked in with the work of others, has yet an individuality of its own, a special type of God's creative wisdom to reflect, a special destiny to fulfill. There are capacities within you which are unlike those of any other human creature; there is a task set for you to accomplish such as no angel or archangel can perform in your stead; there is an honor you can render to Him who made you which only you in all the universe can give. Wait not then for any other, but take up your burden and push on. "Trust no future, howe'er pleasant,"—but act to-day. Remember that we cannot put our finger on the moment, and say: "This is present." While we say it, it is gone. There is no present,— only past and future. The world is moving down that future in one grand harmony. The universe is revolving round the throne of God, and every star is singing, as it whirls and shines. Let us not break in upon that solemn music with the jingling of "rings on our fingers and bells on our toes;" but, keeping time to the movement of the rolling anthem, let us, with God's help, add one concordant note, however faint and low, to the grand harmony of universal life!