Mary Caroline Crawford.

The college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is online

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society does not care for them.

The one sin which college girls do not pardon
is stupidity. By this is meant not simply a lack of
pronounced brilliancy in scholarship, — many very
popular girls, both rich and poor, have that, — but
a lack of all the qualities which go to make up an
interesting personality. A poor girl may be clever
at theatricals, a pleasing singer, a brilliant student,
an original talker, a fascinating beauty, or only a
lovable, womanly young woman, and have friends
galore, invitations galore, and hold office, too, in
leading clubs.

But just as exception has been taken to the
phrase " smart set," I would protest against the
use of the adjective " fashionable," in connection

30 The College Girl of America

with a college club. Similarity of intellectual inter-
ests, social interests, or human interests is the only
reason for the existence of college clubs. When the
snobbery of the society world exercises any potent
influence upon the life of college girls, it will be
time enough to talk of the ignominy of poverty.
Such a day has not yet come, and, let us hope, it
never will. The college girl who works her way
through her alma mater always receives the respect
due her from her better-conditioned sisters. If she
has a personality which in outside life would win
her social position and the affection of friends, she
is, of course, popular in college — even in Smith




Wellesley, the " College Beautiful," is the ex-
quisite product of a poet's lovely thought. To say
that Wellesley is a poem were hardly to put the
thing too strongly, founded as the institution was,
in memory of a poet's dead child, as testimony to
a poet's faith in a kind and gracious God.

Just fifty years ago Henry Welles Smith, a rising
young lawyer of Boston, — who was later to take
the name of Henry Fowle Durant, because he was
being constantly confounded with a neighbouring
business man who bore his own name, — married
Pauline Fowle, his cousin, and the daughter of a
gallant soldier. The young couple lived for a time
in Boston, but the year after their marriage pur-
chased the Wellesley estate. Here, in a rambling
farmhouse, it was the Durants' custom to spend
the summers enjoying the delights of country life.
And here, in 1855, their child was bom, a lovely
boy, who was the pride and delight of both.

Yet it was not ordained that this Henry Durant
should grow to manhood, for when he was but eight


32 The College Girl of America

he slipped away under a trying illness. While his
little boy was hovering between life and death, and
he did not yet know what would be the issue of the
illness, the clever lawyer, his father, saw clearly
that he had a duty to God which he had never fully
discharged, and he resolved, whether his son were
spared or not, to devote himself and all his posses-
sions to the highest ends. The little heir was taken
away, but in the keenness of his sorrow, Henry
Durant accepted the loss in the higher sense of
discipline and determined tO' put into a consecrated
life the same earnestness which he had hitherto
put into a worldly one.

The secret of Mr. Durant's success at the bar
had been a certain intensity which enabled him
to influence others by giving his whole strength
to any case he had undertaken. This intensity now
spent itself in a different direction. It was devoted
to the service of Christ. He became a lay preacher,
and laboured the rest of his life to win to a religious
state many who had been heretofore careless and
indifferent toward heavenly things.

How ardently his wife must have shared in the
new interest that had come into his life can be
appreciated more fully after we have traced some^
what the family of this surviving founder of
Wellesley College. Her mother's family bore the

Wellesley College 33

name of De Cazenove, honourably known in France
for nearly one thousand years previous to the
Huguenot persecution. Their rank was that of
marquis, but when the men of the family emigrated
to Geneva for religious liberty, and determined to
enter upon a business career, they thought it fitting
to drop titles. In the little republic of Geneva (then
not one of the cantons of Switzerland) the Caze-
noves soon distinguished themselves by their pro-
bity, intelligence, and refinement, no less than by
reason of their acuteness in the business of finance,
which they elected to follow. But religious and
political feeling ran high, and during the Jacobin
revolution Mrs. Durant's grandfather was seized
by the mob and thrown into prison. As soon as
he was recognized, however, he was permitted by
the revolutionary tribunal tO' return to his family,
and two nights afterward, by the advice of his
father, he and his brother made their escape from
the country and emigrated for America by way
of Hamburg.

These gallant young Frenchmen landed in Phila-
delphia in November, 1794. Here they soon met
two beautiful sisters, whom they married. The
lady who was to become Mrs. Durant's grandmother
seems to have been possessed of remarkable learning
and culture for her time, for she was a Latin and

34 The College Girl of America

French scholar of parts. Her husband rapidly
attained marked success in business. Associating
himself with some gentlemen of kindred interests,
he purchased a tract of land at the mouth of
George's Creek, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania,
where the partners founded the town of New
Geneva, established stores, built mills, and set up
glass-works. John Jacob Astor, perceiving young
Cazenove's remarkable business ability, offered him
a partnership in his great fur venture, but this the
youth refused, preferring to try his fortunes in a
shipping concern, for which purpose he removed to
Alexandria, Virginia.

Five sons and five daughters came in the course
of years to the Cazenove household, and one of these,
Pauline, while on a visit to Boston in the autumn
of 1826, met Major Fowle of Watertown, at that
time in the regular United States army.

The Fowles of Watertown were of English
descent, and as interesting a family in their own
way as even the Cazenoves. The father. Captain
John, had done good service in the war of the revo-
lution, and he and his wife were reputed at the
time of their marriage to be the handsomest bride
and groom Newton had ever known. Their eight
children, especially the daughters, were far-famed
for their loveliness, and it is said that when the girls

Wellesley College 35

were sewing or reading by the window at early-
even their father would frequently steal out to
shield his Three Graces from the glances of the
youths of the place.

Robert Treat Paine, apropos of these beauteous
maids, composed a toast that was long famed in the
countryside :

" To the fair of every town
And the Fowle of Watertown,"

and this was wont to be drunk reverently, all stand-
ing, by the gallants of the period.

Harriet, the most intellectual of these maids,
married a young lawyer by the name of Smith, and
went with her husband to live in Hanover, N. H. ;
it was here, Feb. 20, 1822, that she gave birth to the
child who was afterward to found Wellesley College,
Henry Welles Smith, who changed his name to
Henry Fowle Durant because his own patronymic
was annoyingly like that of another man.

The brother of the Three Graces, the soldier who
won Pauline Cazenove as his bride, was not in his
first youth at the time of this wedding, having
reached indeed twoscore years when he met his
beloved. He had served in the war of 18 12 in New
York, and had taken part with that illustrious corps
known as Scott's brigade in the Niagara campaign,

36 The College Girl of America

remaining at the head of his company through the
battle of Lundy's Lane, regardless of the wound
he had received early in the action. Later he served
in the Indian wars on the frontier.

Major Fowle was a man of the greatest integrity,
and was nicknamed Honest Jack in his regiment.
So fine and high was his sense of responsibility for
others that he abandoned card playing (which at
home had been a favourite recreation of the family
circle) because he had noticed the demoralizing
effect of this practice on his men.

As a lover, the major seems to have been ideal.
A sister of his betrothed called him " the most
thoughtful and considerate man for one in love I
ever knew." And her friends agreed that " since
the creation of the world no lover was ever half so
attentive and agreeable as the major."

The union of the major and his bride was cele-
brated in May, 1831, and on June 13th of the follow-
ing year, Pauline Fowle (Mrs. Durant) was born
in Alexandria. Even while an infant she journeyed
much with her parents from one army post to an-
other. In the spring of 1833, we learn. Major
Fowle was ordered to Fort Dearborn, Chicago, and
from his evangelistic efforts in a not inappropriate
carpenter shop there sprang what was afterward
the first church in Chicago. An appointment as

Wellesley College 37

instructor of tactics and as commandant of the corps
of cadets at West Point soon followed, and in the
fascinating army life of this military academy on the
Hudson little Pauline passed five years of her early

The little girl was early trained in all womanly
arts, and when her father was promoted to the rank
of lieutenant-colonel and ordered to the command of
his regiment in the Seminole Indian wars, he car-
ried with him a pretty hussy, laboriously fashioned
by his daughter's childish fingers. This gift was
the last one he ever received from Pauline. For,
having placed his family temporarily in Alexandria,
he embarked at Wheeling, Virginia, on the steam-
boat Moselle, on which he lost his life April 25,
1838. The boat had been urged beyond her power,
and at Cincinnati the boiler burst. In the river near
Madison, Indiana, one hundred miles down-stream,
the soldier's body was recovered May 13, 1838, and
there he was buried with the honours of war. In
remembrance of this, Mrs. Durant, a few years ago,
gave the town a check of $5,000 for the benefit of the
King's Daughters Hospital, now doing a very
valuable service in that community. Naturally, the
blow was a terrible one to Mrs. Fowle. Pauline,
then only a child of six, was forced to attend to
nearly everything, for her mother was utterly pros-

38 The College Girl of America

trated by the shock of her husband's loss. The little
girl was only eight years old when she first met her
cousin Henry, then a student in Harvard. But she
soon grew up, and while he was attending the law
school, being admitted to the bar, and making his
way as a young attorney, she was being carefully
educated for the place she was later to fill so splen-

As has been said, young Durant was a poet. Dur-
ing his courtship he penned many lines which
showed his skill as a rhymester. Wellesley College
was, however, to be the epic of his life. He had
made a fortune in the law, and this he wished to
surrender as a gift to God. From 1863 onward,
therefore, he was considering how best it could be
done. Finally, the thought took shape. " Wouldn't
you like to consecrate these Wellesley grounds, this
place that was to have been Harry's, to some special
work for God?" he asked his wife, one day, and,
receiving her joyful affirmative, the planning for
Wellesley was begun. In a letter written to her in
1867, he said : " The great object we have in view
is the appropriation and consecration of our country-
place and other property to the service of the Lord
Jesus Christ, by erecting a seminary."

In September, 1875, the original Wellesley build-
ings, erected at a cost of $1,000,000, were opened

Wellesley College 39

by the Durants in their beautiful park of three hun-
dred acres, on the shore of Lake Waban. Years
before, it is interesting here to note, a famous Boston
physician, who had instituted careful research to
ascertain the most healthful town in Massachusetts,
decided in favour of Wellesley.

When the main building was erected it was
thought to be absurdly large, because it offered
accommodations for three hundred students. Now
there are nine hundred and seventy-eight girls in
the college, with fourteen professors, twenty-three
assistant professors, and fifty-four instructors. And
from the main building with which the college
started has sprung the large group of buildings now
scattered about what was originally the Durant Park.
Eleven dormitories — three halls and eight cottages
— are this year in use, besides the recently erected
Noanett House in the village, rented by the college
for a student home, and the Wellesley Inn, incor-
porated and conducted by Wellesley graduates,
which likewise has its little family of students. All
the cottages on the grounds are connected with
College Hall by a telephone system, and nearly all
are heated from the fine new heating plant for which
Mr. Rockefeller contributed $150,000. Mention
might as well be made here of the extremely low
price of board and tuition at this institution. For

40 The College Girl of America

the former two hundred and twenty-five dollars a
year, and for the latter one hundred and seventy-
five dollars is required. This prevails whether a
girl lives in College Hall, as the majority of fresh-
men do, or in one of the charming co.ttages, the
cherished homes of upper class girls.

College Hall, with its palm-filled rotunda, has
been compared to an immense hotel. Three hun-
dred people can be accommodated here, and there is
a telegraph and telephone office, a book store, a
library, and a natural history museum, as well as
many executive offices under its huge roof, which,
from end to end, covers an eighth of a mile. Noan-
ett House, the latest of the dormitories, is named
after the Indian king who was the friend of John
Eliot, and is the second cottage to recognize in its
distinctive title early American history. The first
was Norumbega, so named in honour of Professor
Horsford's historical city.

The opening of Norumbega was very interesting,
for Miss Freeman (the late Mrs. Alice Freeman
Palmer), who was then president of the college, had
asked the poet Whittier to be present on that occa-
sion. In reply he sent a letter, now framed and
hanging over the mantel of this charming students'
home, enclosing the following poem entitled " Nor-
umbega " :









Wellesley College 41

« Not on Penobscot's wooded bank the spires
Of the sought city rose, nor yet beside
The winding Charles, nor where the daily tide

Of Naumkeag's haven rises and retires

The vision tarried ; but somewhere we knew
The beautiful gates must open to our quest,
Somewhere that wondrous city of the West

Would lift its towers and palace domes in view;

And lo ! at last its mystery is made known,
Its only dwellers maidens fair and young,
Its princess such as England's laureate sung;

And safe from capture, save by love alone.
It lends its beauty to the lake's green shore
And Norumbega is a myth no more."

One of the first questions asked by people who
are interested in the student Hfe of girls at any col-
lege is, ''How are the young women governed?
How much liberty do they have?" At Wellesley
this query might be answered by saying that the girls
are subjected only to such rules as would naturally
govern the action of any well-bred girl. A student
does not, of course, come to town in the evening,
or go anywhere else where a chaperon would be
required, without having some older person with her.
But she can ask her friends out to Wellesley tO' play
golf or tennis, or go boating, and she does it, too,
whenever her studies and the general scheme of
things make it possible. Very largely, nowadays,
the students of Wellesley College are self-governing

42 The College Girl of America

by virtue of an " agreement between the faculty and
students," in which certain matters of every-day
conduct are relegated entirely to the control of the
girls themselves.

It is, of course, by a college's graduates that its
work is best known, and by them alone can it be
fairly judged. Thus the quality of Wellesley Col-
lege training may perhaps be best hinted at by citing
two instances — not wholly apocryphal — of girls
who needed its blessings.

The stories I am about to relate were told me by a
friend, who is not herself a college woman, in reply
to a chance observation of mine that the best college
is the one which a girl can attend without leaving

" That may be true sometimes," my friend in-
stantly replied. '^ But there are cases, many of them
in America, where a mother does her whole duty to
her child only when she sends her quite away from
home. If the girl has been accustomed to luxury, the
college life teaches the difference between real worth
and mere ostentation. And if she has lacked at
home the amenities many very good homes are
wholly without, she will learn at college how tO' bear
herself gently. What if the acquirement of better
manners and higher home ideals on the part of the
girl does make it hard for her to adjust herself,



h- 1


Wellesley College 43

when she comes back from her college life, and does
create a breach between her mother and herself.
There has got to be such a breach, hasn't there, in a
country like this one, where the daughter of a shop-
keeper in a small way may grace the White House —
or the English peerage?

" I was very forcibly struck, a few years ago,"
my friend went on, earnestly, " with the change
Wellesley may work in three months in a girl's man-
ners. We'll call the girl I am to tell you of Florence
Gray, because that isn't in the least like her name.
I myself prepared her for college. She had a good
mind, but the worst manners I ever saw in any
maiden of her years. She used to dine with me some-
times. Such occasions were, however, so painful to
my family that I really could not ask her often. She
was horribly noisy, voraciously hungry, — a thing
all waist and elbows and giggles.

" But that was before she went to college. When
she came home for her first Christmas vacation,
she was so changed that I scarcely could believe
my eyes ! Her voice was quiet, her manners deferen-
tial, her elbows at her sides instead of on the table,
and she had learned that a lady does not display,
even if she possesses, the appetite of a tramp. I was
proud of her metamorphosis, I can tell you. Now
I'll grant that another girl might have gotten all

44 The College Girl of America

this by observation, or as you please. But this girl
would never have gotten it without college, for
her home had lacked refinement, and she, being she,
was incapable of picking it up easily, as a result of
occasional visits to people who make a change in
their dress for dinner, and eat their soup noiselessly.
But intimate contact with good manners three times
a day for three months, at a formative period of her
life, served to rescue her from her heritage of vul-

" The second girl fell under my observation the
same year. Her mother was a school friend of my
own, her father a clever professional man, who had
attained local success. Neither of the parents had
ever gone much into society in a large city, and so
were accustomed to the rather low tone of manners
in their little community. They were not so much
underbred as grossly careless, you see. Well, their
one daughter grew up and fitted for college in the
excellent academy of the town. She was still in the
high light of her graduation halo, when her crudity
burst full upon me. I then saw her for the first time
in some years. The occasion was a church one. Half
a dozen of the young people in the religious society
to which my friends belonged had graduated in the
same class with Gertrude — let us call her — and a
reception was being given them on the evening of my

Wellesley College 45

arrival in town. I went, accompanied by an elderly
relative of mine, of whom Gertrude was really fond.

" Imagine my emotions when, upon entering the
church parlours, I saw the girls and boys for whom
the reception had been arranged sitting in a rocking-
chair circle in the middle of the room, laughing and
chatting together, with their backs toward their
guests. When their friends congratulated them,
they still sat rocking, receiving the good wishes and
pleasant words over their shoulders. To my relative,
a woman of nearly seventy, Gertrude thrust out a
hand without rising. I was so annoyed that I did
not congratulate the young person at all.

'' In a few days I saw the girl's mother and was
taken into her confidence as to Gertrude's choice
of college. ^ I think we'll send her where she can
live at home,' my friend announced. ' Of course it
isn't the money, — Gertrude is our only child, and
we can get her everything, — but I like to have her
with me, and so does her father. She's all we've
got, you see.'

*' I thought of the reception and determined to
risk an injudicious criticism. * You've known me
a good while, Fanny,' I began, slowly, * and you say
you're fond of me. Will you forgive me, then, for
telling you that I think Gertrude would be a great
deal better off away from home, in some good col-

46 The College Girl of America

lege like Wellesley or Smith, where she will be seen
by eyes that are not partial, and helped to self-poise?
Really, you know, she needs a little toning up in the
matter of manners.'

'' * What do I care for her manners if her mind
is all right ? ' demanded my frank friend with some

" And so obvious was it that she cared nothing,
that I dropped the subject.

" Gertrude is now a B. A. cum laude. But she still
shakes hands with me without rising."

The social life at Wellesley is a thing of rare
beauty. Almost all the students are " Barn Swal-
lows," and so cultivate good-fellowship and partici-
pate in the biweekly dramatics and occasional dances
which occur in the barn, a building near College
Hall that has been well described as " a sublimated
hay shed." The bam is lighted by electricity, heated
by steam, and has a fine dancing-floor, upon which,
however, none except students and their girl friends
have ever trod a measure.

Here many fair actresses have begun — and
ended — their careers behind the footlights, have
tried to stifle their laughter and preserve an impas-
sioned tone while the crowded house giggled frankly
at their love-making, have done the gallant to pretty

Wellesley College 47

freshmen, and have served their neighbours and their
class in many similar ways, self-sacrificing and yet

One of the most select societies of the college is
the Shakespeare Club, which holds meetings every
Wednesday evening throughout the academic year
in a beautiful little house which exactly reproduces
in its exterior aspect Shakespeare's birthplace, and
holds, on an inner view, much of charm. The
Phi Sigma, the Zeta Alpha, the Alpha Kappa Chi
and the Tau Zeta Epsilon are the Greek letter
societies here, and the Agora is the debating club.
It was Mr. Durant himself who founded the Shake-
speare Society, and who later encouraged Wellesley
girls to give the annual outdoor play which has since
become so important a feature of the college life.

Another distinctly Wellesley rite is the May-day
hoop-rolling of the seniors. A curious enough sight
it is, too, to see these tall, graceful girls, clad in aca-
demic gown and mortar-board, rolling their hoops
over the level carriage road in front of College Hall
very early in the morning, and having far more
trouble at the business, you may be sure, than they
were wont to experience In those long ago days when
simple problems in addition represented their high-
est scholarly achievement. Even to this final frolic
of college life there is, however, an impressive side

48 The College Girl of America

when the members of the class, soon to be parted,
make a circle with their hoops, and, so massed to-
gether, lustily sing their dear class song.

Tree Day, which comes later on, is a direct herit-
age from Mr. Durant, who bade the earliest classes
set aside one day in Maytime for an outdoor college
revel, for the planting and cherishing of chosen
trees, for song and ode and pageantry, and for recog-
nition of the sympathy between life and its mother,
Nature. Since the primitive celebration of 1877,
there has been no break in the succession of Welles-
ley's Tree Days; on the contrary, the evolution has

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 3 of 18)