Copyright
Edward Everett Hale.

We, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day online

. (page 5 of 15)
Online LibraryEdward Everett HaleWe, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day → online text (page 5 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


arrange a system in which this shall be brought
about.

The State of Pennsylvania, under right of
eminent domain, can assume the duty of carrying
into effect any system which the arbitration

[76]



CO-OPERATION AND COAL

board shall suggest. It is said of kings that
their wishes are commands. The wishes of this
arbitration board will be a command to the
Legislature of Pennsylvania. It will not be asked
to do anything remarkable, when it is command-
ed to purchase some or all the anthracite coal
lands of the top highlands between the Susque-
hanna and the Delaware. It assumed a much
greater power when, in another generation, it
gave a strip of land to what is now the Pennsyl-
vania Railroad Company, between Philadelphia
and Virginia. It assumed far greater responsi-
bilities when it instructed the city of Philadel-
phia to build the waterworks of the Schuylkill.
If it should flinch, if it should refuse, there is
another political entity, stronger than the State
of Pennsylvania. Its name is the United States.
When it is necessary, it takes what the national
need requires, from the State as from the individ-
ual; and if it needs a rock for a light-house, it
takes that rock. If it needs a railway from St.
Louis to San Francisco, it takes the land for that
railway. If it need, for its navy, for its internal
commerce or for the people of the United States,
to take the coal lands of Pennsylvania, it can
take them.

And it will take them, unless the State of Penn-
sylvania assumes the duty which is properly its
own. [ 77 1



Women's Clubs



MRS. STANTON.

THE death of Mrs. Stanton at a ripe old
age makes men look back in spite of
themselves and inquire how much has
been gained in the proclamation of
the rights of women in which she has been so
loyal to her own sex. It is a satisfaction to be
able to say, that in most of the States the legis-
lation has been largely improved which relates
to the position of women before the courts, and
that their property rights are much more like
those of men than they were at the period of
Mrs. Stanton's birth. Mrs. Stanton has to be
fairly credited with a very considerable share in
the awakening of public attention to the subjects
involved. Meanwhile, the whole of the social
order of the time improves and women have
had their share in the improvement, as men have
had. I like to say in passing that people who
have had to do with Spanish legislation in Louis-
iana, in Texas, in New Mexico, and in Califor-

[78]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



nia, have learned that the Spanish laws on such
subjects were, generally, more simple than ours.
Mrs. Stanton would have said that women are
more sure of their public rights under the customs
and laws in New Mexico than they are in South
Carolina. And whoever wants to study the sub-
ject had better make a pretty careful examination
of the law of Texas, as it exists at this moment,
by way of finding out what he had better "do
about it."

Meanwhile, the women have many other ad-
vantages now such as a girl born in 1815 did
not have. In some of the earlier American
story books, or novels of the beginning of the
century, the Moravian school at Bethlehem is
spoken of as the only school in the country where
young girls could receive what they now call the
higher education. And anybody who will see
what the young girl studied at Bethlehem will be
amused at the contrast to the studies at Vassar
College, or Aurora, or the high schools in New
York to-day. It must be confessed, however,
that a good many of the leaders of the women
in this business have mistaken their "leading," as
our Quaker friends say.

There has been constantly a statement that
higher education of women is neglected in this
country, while the higher education of men is

[79]



, THE PEOPLE"



cared for. This was true enough if people only
chose to speak of the collegiate education of the
most expensive and rare kind. In 1850, for in-
stance, a few thousand men graduated at the
colleges of America, and no women did. But
this whipped syllabub at the top of the education-
al pyramid was not the part of the repast which
most people fed upon. In 1850, in 1870, and in
1900 more young women than young men went
beyond the mere education for the three R's
reading, writing, and arithmetic. For to this
hour, the average American boy is withdrawn
from school at an earlier age than the average
American girl. We must not mislead ourselves
by taking figures from New York or Chicago.
Taking the country at large, the girl in a
well-to-do family remains at school until she is
sixteen or seventeen years of age, on the average.
A boy, excepting perhaps for a few weeks in the
winter school, is withdrawn from school and goes
to work at thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen. In my
own city of Boston, the average boy leaves
school never to enter it again after he is fourteen
years old.

What follows in nine cases out of ten of
American families, where there is money enough
for the advanced education of their children is,
that the girls, say in a well-to-do country town,

[so]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



learn some little rudiments of a foreign language,
that they have some education in music, in art,
that they go through "high school studies,"
so called. If you go to the annual commence-
ments of the high school in any one of our larger
towns, you will find that three-quarters of the
graduating class are young women of sixteen,
seventeen, or eighteen years of age, and only one-
quarter young men of the same age. Now, it is
very likely to happen under such conditions of
school training that the boy forms his associa-
tions with other boys who left school with him,
that he tries the rather dangerous experiments
of the lurking-places of the village in the even-
ing. As a friend of mine writes me, he studies
life by throwing lager beer corks across the fo-
rum of the village store. His sister, a little
older, or a little younger, than he, is at the same
moment attending the Browning Club or the
Cecilia or the something else, with a dozen of
her young lady friends, while the boy is wishing
he were old enough to be chosen into the fire
company. Now, this is not an advantage, either
to the boy or to the girl. It is a disadvantage
to both of them. In my judgment, Mrs. Stanton
and her friends would have done more service to
young men and to young women by trying to keep
the education of each sex on the same plane as
[81]



"WE, THE PEOPLE"



that of the other. Nothing was gained when
the girls were taught "French and philosophy"
if, at the same time, the boys took the notion
that the society which their own sisters were fond
of was not in every sort the society for them.

WOMEN'S CLUBS.

THE establishment of thousands of wom-
en's clubs in all parts of the nation
has worked and is working a great
improvement in social activities. Nat-
urally the leaders lead in such enterprises. In
the long run that is a law of human society.

All the same, sometimes a promising club
goes to the wall, or, as our excellent English
friends say, goes to the bow-wows. It prom-
ises well and it does nothing else well. It has a
president, who has good clothes. It has two
vice-presidents, one of whom lives in the north
part of town and one in the south. That is all
right. It has a recording secretary and a corre-
sponding secretary, and a treasurer and two audi-
tors. That is all right. It has a constitution which
can be amended on a motion made by three mem-
bers at a meeting called for that special purpose.
No harm in that. But alas, and alas, the inter-
est languishes after a year or two! The ladies

[82]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



do not propose new members. And at last there
is no money in the treasury, and after trying a
"course of lectures" to raise money the club dies
and makes no sign.

And yet dear Mrs. Judge Mansfield, writing
from that unknown place in North Dakota,
where they went to live when her husband was
appointed to be district judge for Northwest
America, writes to us to say that they have an
excellent club in New Padua, and to ask why
she does not hear from ours.

So it is as well for the American Journal to
reveal a secret and make it an open secret.

The club which failed, failed because it was
good for nothing. Nothing selfish succeeds in
this world. Poor Mr. Tenmillions who died
the other day did not succeed, because he did
nothing to help anybody else.

The rule of life is that which was laid down
by the musketeers in the beginning of Dumas's
novel, "All for each and each for all." Now,
if you think of it, a club which exists simply for
the amusement and satisfaction of its members
is just as selfish as Mr. Tenmillions was.

The Blue Butterfly Club of Cranberry Centre
existed simply for the amusement of its mem-
bers, or for the instruction of its members, and
for the advancing its members in the social order

[83]



WE, THE PEOPLE*



of Cranberry Centre, and therefore it went to
the bad. It ought to have gone to the bad ; the
laws of the universe compelled it to go to the
bad ; and so I am glad to say that the Blue But-
terfly Club does not exist any longer.

Sometimes it takes a club ten years to die.
That is, when at the outset there was a good,
large subscription and the best people of the
town went in, and they always had a good bal-
ance in the treasury and the officers could get
well paid for a few years.

But if it existed only for the officers, only for
the members, it could not live it could not live
any more than a baby could live at the bottom
of the ocean; it dies because it ought to die.

There is no community between Tiajuana on
the southwest and northeast Norumbega, which
is 47 degrees north latitude, where there is not
something which a woman's club can do for the
improvement or advantage of people outside the
women themselves.

In practice, I observe that it is a good thing
to have such a club in close connection with the
almshouse of the county. It is a good thing for
such a club to be well acquainted with the sani-
tary board and know where the water and the
drainage are bad.

It is a good thing for such a club to welcome

[84]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



the Armenian and the Bohemian and the Cappa-
docian and the Dalecarlian as they arrive from
the different parts of the world; and unless a
woman's club has its eyes opened to see outside
its immediate company, to whom it can be of use,
that club is sure to die. What is more, it is an
excellent thing that it should die.

WHAT DO THE GIRLS NEED?

THIS is not what the leaders among them
ask for. Twenty years ago Mrs.
Stanton and her friends were begging
that they might go to the men's col-
leges. "Do you really mean that you want to
study the integral calculus and analyze the hydro-
protoxide of albumenal protoplasm?" And the
leaders and their friends said, "That is just what
we want."

"Go ahead," said a good-natured world, and
many colleges opened the way for them. At the
same time, the same colleges introduced what
is called the elective system. This means
that if you want to study the curve of the
inner satellite which has just been discovered
at Breslau as eclipsed once in four years and
a half by the planet Neptune, you may
study that. Or if you want to study the

[85]



'WE, THE PEOPLE'



influence of the Digamma as exhibited on the
tombstones at a village on Athos, you may study
that. Or if you want to attend a course of
lectures on Balzac's novels you may attend
them.

Well, some of the bona fide women's colleges
held bravely to their business. They made the
girls pass just such an examination as Yale Uni-
versity and Columbia College require for boys.
They have their reward. That is, they have a
set of hard-working women named in their cata-
logues, who are willing to work and to work
hard.

But the temptation on some of the colleges
was too strong for them to hold to this stiff rule.
If a girl could read a little French and knew
what the rule of three meant, she could slip in.
What follows is, that the leaders in such schools
have a set of nice, pretty girls who elect "Pro-
fessor Doubleday's lectures on Balzac," or "Dr.
Prettyman's course on the Elizabethan plays,"
or "Mr. Wanderjahre's excavations in Vallam-
brosa." Indeed, the girls go to the college
much as a boy does who goes to play base-
ball. She goes "to have a good time," and she
has it.

What American women tell me they want is
to learn how to live and be of use to the people

[86]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



around them. And one thing they think they
need, and which nobody teaches them, is how to
take care of their gardens, their trees, their
orchards, their wood lots. There is not, I be-
lieve, a college or a seminary, outside a few
agricultural schools proper, in which a woman
can be taught how to bud a peach-tree, or how
to thin out a bit of wood-land. She can be taught
rhetoric; yes. She can be taught what was the
mistake when people used syllogisms; yes. But
she cannot learn what corn she shall buy when
she goes to the market town. I have known
plenty of high schools where the scholars could
tell what was the value in English currency of
four hundred and twenty-nine quarters of barley.
They knew that, because the sums in the book
were based on such questions. And yet if I car-
ried into the school a handful of oats and a hand-
ful of barley, not one girl in a hundred would
know which was which.

The girls and the women are as practical as
the men and the boys. They want to be of use,
and the college which wants to train its pupils
for really practical life will teach American
girls to live as Americans. For nineteen out of
twenty of them this life is a life where they are
interested in the growth of flowers, fruit, har-
vests, and forests. They are more interested in

[87]



THE PEOPLE"



it than they are in quaternions or in the drama-
tists of Queen Elizabeth's time. And it is quite
time for the great women's colleges to provide
themselves and their pupils for such necessities.

OPEN-AIR LIFE FOR WOMEN.

OF eighty million people in the United
States, three and a half million live
in Greater New York. Two million
live in Chicago; and five million more,
"be the same more or less," as the old deeds say,
live in the smaller cities Philadelphia, Boston,
Washington, and the rest.

So we have a wail every three months from
somebody that, alas and alas ! a quarter part of
the people in America live in cities, and some-
body reminds us that a hundred years ago Jeffer-
son said that "great cities are great sores." And
then the wailers and weepers and people in gen-
eral who like to show that the world of America
is going to the dogs, shed tears on paper and say
they do not know what to do about it.

Now, in this matter of open-air life and city
life which the rough statistics represent to the
grumblers, it is to be recollected always that "you
can prove anything by statistics except the
truth."

[88]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



In this case, if you winnow out the real truth
from the figures, you find that while about
seven million people live in the three largest
"cities," another seven million live in the "cities"
which have less than a hundred thousand people.
And we find that these "cities" are so large that
very likely you can find huckleberries outside your
window. One of our Massachusetts cities reports
thirty-seven thousand acres for four thousand
families. Really, if I had a garden spot of
nine acres for the eight people in my family I
should not feel as if we were dying of asphyxia-
tion.

At Hampton they have proved that on a four-
acre farm of average land a family can support
itself; I mean that, with the infinite help of the
good God, they can create the food they need
for a year. So that in this "city" of thirty
thousand acres every family might support itself
on the farm, and the boys could have five acres
to play base-ball in.

All this is necessary to say to get the grumblers
out of the way.

The truth is that we are still, and shall always
be, an open-air people. And in this matter of
what the women want, wish, and will have, in
their college training, education of open-air life
comes in as first of all.

[89]



, THE PEOPLE"



It is no sort of answer to say that there is a
botanical professor in the college and that he
teaches the girls the difference between a bulb
and a root, or between an exogenous tree and an
endogenous tree, or between a stamen and a
pistil. The American girl and the American
women have something to do about it. And what
they mean is to do something about it. What
they need and what they must have in college,
if they go to college, is so much experimental
ground that they can see the simple processes
of life and duty in the open air. A woman may
not have to drive a yoke of oxen, but the better
part of American women ought to know the dif-
ference between a Jersey cow and a Holstein.
It is not enough to take care of her winter garden
in the house, though that is not a bad thing, but
she ought to know how to advise in practice
about the work of the field or the forest and at
the very least to learn how she can learn.

I hope my good friends of the women's clubs
do not think we give them too much advice, I
hope they do not say we had better mind our own
business. Their business is our business. They
have a great deal to do in lifting up the social
order of this nation; they have more to do with
it than most of them seem to know.

One of the very pieces of business which they

[90]



WOMEN'S CLUBS



have in hand is to compel the State Boards of
Education and the trustees of colleges to appoint
practical teachers in the arts of open-air life. And
besides appointing teachers, these boards must
equip the colleges for such lines of education.



[90



The New Century

HALF A MILLION DOLLARS.

**A T^ES," said Dr. Primrose, "I know
V/ very well what I should do with
-*- half a million dollars, or with half
of it."

Then he paused a little and in substance he
said this:

That he should look round for a wide-awake
man, anywhere between thirty and forty years
old, who knew decently well how to live, how
other people liked to live, and how they could
help each other in that affair. Then he should
tell this man to talk with the real estate men and
the steamboat men and electric men and tell
them that they might know what was wanted.
Then he must go to the best six places which
they suggested, and he must buy one of those
places, at least six thousand acres of land lying
together within twenty miles of the City Hall.
Dr. Primrose thought and thinks that even
if they have to give a hundred dollars an

[9*]



THE NEW CENTURY



acre for this land they can get it. I have thought
and think they can get it for less.

Anyway, this thousand acres is the new Amer-
ica which Dr. Primrose and his middleman have
discovered. The Doctor would then send out
some intelligent young engineer who would lay
this out into the village his half million dollars
is going to establish. He lays out the thousand
acres into two hundred lots of four acres each,
and he leaves two hundred acres, be the same
more or less, for the streets, parks, and breath-
ing places of the new town. The surveyors, as
in Mr. Oilman's edifying book, have already laid
out the town as we cut a pie into segments. In
the middle you have a round square with the
"meeting-house" in the middle of it, and then*
the roads go out as the knife does when you cut
the pie, and the house lots take their shape, more
or less, according to these radiating streets.

Anyhow, according as the land directs, up
hill, down dale, old orchards, old wood lots or
what not, the village gets laid out into two hun-
dred house lots, as I have said. Then the pro-
per architect is secured some young man who
has not too many crotchets, who knows the
American people and believes in the people ; and
he and Dr. Primrose and the middleman put
their heads together and they build twenty dif-

[93]



WE, THE PEOPLE*



ferent sorts of houses on these two hundred lots,
having about four acres, observe, to each house.
Half of these houses cost six hundred dollars
apiece, and half of them cost two thousand dol-
lars apiece. But they can be built cheaply though
they are built well, because one contractor takes
the whole job and everything is done at whole-
sale prices.

While this enterprise is going forward lots
and lots of people are getting acquainted with
the neighborhood. A really good "meeting-
house" is being built in the middle of the new
town. And everybody understands that this
"meeting-house" is for as many services of wor-
ship as any one wants on Sunday, and is
for lectures on everything from quaternions
down to juggling, and concerts from rag-time
up to the latest Wagner it is really a meeting-
house.

Meanwhile Dr. Primrose and his friends have
been bullying the Cataraugus and Opelousas
Railway, which runs within a mile and a half
of the place. They have played them off against
the Fourier and Owen Railway, which runs two
miles on the other side, and they have made them
agree to an annual ticket, so that a man can go
backwards and forwards into the city, if he be
a regular inhabitant of the new town, for ten

[94]



THE NEW CENTURY



cents a day. Then Dr. Primrose says that things
are ready to begin. He says that this enterprise
will have cost him when he is ready to begin two
hundred thousand dollars. He says that on an
average he shall sell his houses for fifteen hun-
dred dollars apiece; some of them will be as
cheap as a thousand dollars apiece, and some of
them will be as dear as three thousand dollars
apiece. But when a man pays he will pay with
the understanding and agreement that he is to
pay one-tenth part of the money every year, so it
will happen that some people get their houses for
a hundred dollars a year, and some people get
their houses for three hundred dollars a year.
But at the end of ten years they will own the
houses. Dr. Primrose says that if he can get
the ear of an Odd Fellows' lodge or a society of
temperance, or "The Newly Born Association
of the Grandsons of the Followers of Knick-
bocker," or any other community which has a tie
of common interest, he shall make them get to-
gether there. If he can make any community
or organization get together in his new town,
he will do so.

But he does not care, he says, if two hundred
families of people are living together and go in
the trains together and go out on the trains
together, and meet in the same places and same

[95]



WE, THE PEOPLE*



conferences, he says there will be community
enough for him.

He says as for the "meeting-house," he is
willing that the Catholics shall occupy it Sunday
at nine o'clock, the Methodists at eleven o'clock,
and the Salvation Army at one o'clock, the Ger-
man Reform of the Second Secession at three
and the Universalists at five and the Episcopa-
lians at seven, they may do so, every Sunday,
rent free. But they have to pay for their own
electric lights.

Then Dr. Primrose says that in ten years from
the time he began the whole property will be in
the hands of these people, that he shall have
made five per cent, on his investment, "be the
same more or less," and that he shall go to
heaven with the consciousness that two hundred
families have grown up under God's open sky in
God's open air, and that they own their own
homes.

WHAT NEXT?

IT is twenty years ago that I heard Dawson,
the head of physical science in America,
say in a public address that the men of our
time were frightened. He said that our
scientific men had overcome great difficulties; he

[96]



THE NEW CENTURY



said that they had solved nature's most difficult
questions; he said they understood her secrets
and could interpret her laws, and then he made
an exclamation in somewhat these words: "They
have come to the ocean of life, and they are
afraid to plunge in ! They will say of us,
'These men were afraid to use their own great
discoveries. Why were they satisfied with such
trifles as steam engines, locomotives, ocean steam-
ships, electric telegraph, the telephone, the micro-
phone and the macrophone? While they were
playing with such toys, they refused to use the
great resources, which Nature gave them, now
that they had solved her mysteries.' '

Such a speech from the man who had the best
right to make it, is worth remembering now that
the twenty-five lastyears of the century have gone
by. Here is every man of us who lives in New


1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryEdward Everett HaleWe, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day → online text (page 5 of 15)