John Davis Batchelder Collection (Library of Congr.

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ting the coat, mother. He'll be as mad
as a hornet.'

Mrs. Smart nodded, with a very se-
rious face; she had been considering
for some time what she should say to

'You take the lantern and go on
ahead, and I'll talk to Thomas.'

Thomas met them at the station,
sleepy and cross. A young man was
waiting, too, — Joe Bogardus. He and
Dorothy walked on up the hill together
quickly, with the lantern swinging be-
tween them. Mrs. Smart and Thomas
followed, slowly, arm in arm.

'Get your coat, mother?'

'Not this time, son. My coat that
I've got's in style. They're going to
wear short coats in Paris this winter.
My coat 's short.'

' I wanted you to get a new one,' said
Thomas, crossly.

'Now, son,' said Mrs. Smart, ten-
derly, 'don't you get to thinking you
know more about clothes than your
mother does. That ain't men's work.
Wait once, till you see your new ties:
black, with red spots, one; blue, with
white lines, one.'

'See any folks you knew?'

'Mr. Lincoln. He's a traveling man,
used to come up here drununing for

'I remember him all right. Used to

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talk to you — thought he was good-
lookin' — fresh!' said Thomas, fero-
ciously. *What did he have to say?'

'Oh, he just talked. Didn't you
used to like him, son?'

'Naw,' said Thomas, *I didn't.
Why you know I did n't, mother. You
used to say he was nice, and I always
told you I did n't like him.'

*I remember,' said Mrs. Smart,

She plodded along the rough road
in the darkness; the November wind
blew keenly from the mountains; she
was tired, and hungry, and cold; her
weary body caught her brave soul in its
clutches, and shook it, and wrung it,
and left it faint and gasping.

'It's a hard world for a woman,' she
muttered. * Maybe I'd better have
said yes.'

'Gee, but Schauss's is fierce,' said
Thomas. 'Guess I'll quit, and go

'You would n't leave me, son,' said
Mrs. Smart, in quick alarm. 'Would

'I'm sick of the store.'

'I'm going to try to get Mr. Hay-
dock to take you at the Inn next sum-
mer,' said Mrs. Smart, forgetting her-
self at once in Thomas's need. 'You

could be in the office with me, and
see the world and society — and may-
be folks would take you out in a car

'Gee, mother, you're a peach. That
would be great,' said Thomas, molli-

It did not take much to please him;
he was his mother's own son, after all.
He clung to her arm, and lurched to
and fro in the road. He was an awk-
ward boy; he seemed to go out of his
way to fall over things; he was like an
overgrown puppy, with his clumsy
ways and his inarticulate, loving heart.
Suddenly, at a turn in the road, a light
shone out above them.

'There's home/ said Mrs. Smart.
'You put the lamp in the window, did
n't you, son?'

'Yes, I did. And the kettle's on the
stove, boiling by this time. I thought
you 'd like some tea,' said Thomas, with
pride. *So I kept the fire up, and had
everything nice.'

Mrs. Smart laughed in the darkness,
a little, well-pleased laugh, and stepped
out briskly.

'After all, I'm glad,' she said.

'To be back home?' said Thomas.

'To be back home,' said Mrs. Smart.
'There's no place like home.'

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Vermont has set an example to the
other states of the Union in being the
first to make a comprehensive effort
to study its educational responsibilities.
In conformity to an act of the legisla-
ture, approved in November, 1912, the
governor appointed a conmiission of
nine persons 'to inquire into the entire
educational system and condition of
this state.' To secure the information
essential for an intelligent and adequate
report, the conmiission, which included
among its members the President of
Columbia University, Dr. Nicholas M.
Butler, and the President of the Amer-
ican Telephone and Telegraph Com-
pany, Mr. Theodore N. Vail, invited
the Carnegie Foundation for the Ad-
vancement of Teaching to make' an ex-
pert study of the school system, includ-
ing the higher institutions of learning.'
Acting upon this invitation, the Foun-
dation caused to be made a first-hand
study of education in Vermont, em-
bracing the whole system, from ele-
mentary school to university.

The detailed examination of the ele-
mentary schools was committed to Pro-
fessor Milo B. Hillegas of Teachers
College, Columbia University; of the
secondary schools to Dr. William S.
Learned of the Harvard School of Edu-
cation; and of the normal schools and
the state system of administration and
expenditure to Professor Edward C.
Elliott of the University of Wisconsin.
Other expert service was employed for
special fields, as the agricultural college
and its relations to the farming indus-
tries, medical and engineering schools.

library facilities in relation to the pub-
lic schools, and the system in use of
school accounts and financial , state-

The results of these investigations
have been published in a Bulletin^ the
primary purpose of which is to place
in the hands of the commission the
essential facts which will enable them
to form conclusions, to make recom-
mendations, and to propose legisla-
tion. Accordingly, it is of great interest
to all who have at heart the better-
ment of our educational system. For
the conditions are not peculiar to
Vermont; similar conditions prevail
throughout the country, and the con-
clusions reached should be thoughtfully
and carefully considered, even though
one may not entirely agree with all the
statements or recommendations. Many
Vermonters think the Bulletin does not
set forth the facts as accurately as they
had hoped it would; while the recom-
mendation of withdrawing the state
financial aid from the colleges is decid-
edly and generally condemned.

A remarkable array of facts of every
kind, from the course of study to the
condition of the schoolhouses, is to be
found in the report of Professor Hille-
gas on the elementary schools. It is
interesting to note that in the propor-
tion of children of school age enrolled,
Vermont holds the first place among
the states. His criticisms are mainly
of the instruction given, the principal
aim of which, he says, is preparation
for the high school. Considering the
fact that practically none of the rural-


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school children enter the high school,
he maintains that there should be two
courses of instruction — one for the
rural and one for the graded town
school. With the present course, the
children of the countryside are taught
only to read indifferently, to write
clumsily, and to make ordinary calcu-
lations with difficulty. The child's
interest in the life of his community is
weakened, and either he is made an
idler, because he has not been taught
to do work that is based upon the
acquirement of skill, or he is educated
away from the life in which he has
grown up. His face is turned from the
duties and opportunities of his own
home to the more tempting but more
illusory ventures of a city. Many will
agree with the conclusion, that * some-
thing is radically wrong with a school
in an agricultural community that de-
velops motormen, stenographers, and
typewriters, and fails to develop far-
mers, dairymen, and gardeners.'

The recommendations of Professor
Hillegas include the consolidation of
the smaller schools, the transportation
of the children by school barges, and
new courses of study, which should be
planned by experienced teachers and
superintendents organized into com-
mittees. For the improvement of teach-
ers already in service he suggests that
a group of highly trained, capable wo-
men supervisors should spend their
time in the schools, assisting the teach-
ers and demonstrating proper meth-
ods. The absolute need of an increase
in the salaries of teachers is empha-
sized by the fact that, according to a
recent comparative study of the public
school systems of all the states, Ver-
mont stands in the forty-third place
in the average annual salary of the

There is much valuable information
in Dr. Leamed's report on the second-
ary schools. It is the outcome of a per-

sonal visit to nearly half of the high
schools and academies, and a careful
study of all attainable facts in regard
to attendance, curriculum, and the
training of teachers. A fact which
stands out prominently and should be
emphasized is that 'almost without ex-
ception' the teachers *gave the im-
pression of being high-minded, natur-
ally capable and painstaking men and
women' who are ^^ing * honest and
faithful work.' It is a matter of regret
that Dr. Learned has apparently had
no experience as a teacher, for his
position in regard to the instruction
given in the high schools is largely
that of a theorist. He reiterates, for
instance, that the curriculum should
have 'greater freedom and elasticity
in order to meet the individual pupil.'
It should be based predominantly on
the pupil's environment. Now this is
admirable in theory, but it would be
difficult to put it in practice.

The economic value of the school
training seems to Dr. Learned to be of
the first importance. 'It is a pressing
duty of the high schools in Vermont,'
he maintains, for instance, 'to display
fairly the power, resources, and signifi-
cance of the farm.' On the other hand
little stress is laid on the old New Eng-
land idea that the highest aim of the
school is the development of the intel-
lectual powers and the building up of

All, however, will agree with what
he says as to the special needs of
training-classes for teachers in elemen-
tary schools, particularly in the coun-
try. His suggestion that this course
should be introduced into more of the
high schools will be welcomed, and, we
trust, acted upon throughout the coun-
try. He maintains that there should
be enough high schools with these
training classes, to enable all those
who are desirous of becoming teachers
in the elementary schools to attend the .

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course without being obliged, as now,
in most instances, to leave their homes.
Another practical reason for the es-
tablishment of these 'regional' high
schools, urged in the section devoted
to the training of teachers, is that
the neighboring village schools would
furnish abundant opportunities for
practice-classes for those who are in
training. The establishment of a new
central training school is also advo-
cated, which should serve the needs of
the state in providing teachers for its
junior high schools.

The problem of trade-education —
a pressing economic as well as educa-
tional question — is discussed in the
rep>ort on the vocational school. This
school is practically the only agency
that society offers for the formal pre-
paration of its youth for those funda-
mental and necessary vocations upon
which stress must always be laid. The
aim should be, not the preparation
for a profession, but the training of
youth for a trade. In this connection,
attention is directed to a remarkable
agricultural school at Lyndonville,
which owes its existence to the gener-
osity of Mr. Vail. It is strictly a far-
mer's school and it aims to furnish a
line of training that will be of immedi-
ate use in farming and its allied indus-
tries, as carpentry, blacksmithing, and
masonry. Consequently, the students
are trained to do farm work intelli-
gently and also the repairing of build-
ings, wagons, and machinery. Thus
they are made independent of any
outside skilled labor, and are put in a
position to assist their neighbors in
these directions. For these special pur-
poses the school has blacksmith and
carpenter shops, as well as a horse-
stable, dairy-bam, poultry-house, and
root-cellar, together with over one hun-
dred acres of tillage land divided into
upland and lowland.

The report upon the higher institu-

tions of learning ^ves considerable
information about the three colleges at
Burlington, Middlebury, and North-
field. There is a brief historical sketch
of each, with facts relating to their
endowment, equipment, curriculum,
teaching-staff, and students. The crit-
icism is confined mainly to the Agri-
cultiuul College connected with the
University of Vermont at Burlington.
The impression made by this part of
the report is that it was written by one
whose whole interest was in the schools
of the state. The one thing needed
for the improvement of both primary
and high schools, he feels, is money
to increase the salary of the teachers,
especially of the primary schools, in
order to secure better teachers, and to
improve the schoolhouses and their
equipment. Accordingly, with this
need predominating in his mind, the
one frequently repeated recommenda-
tion in regard to the higher institutions
of learning is that the state subsidy
should be withdrawn from them and
given to the schools. And with this
conclusion thosd who compiled the
report agreed, for the last of the five
recommendations^ which embody the
results of the survey is, 'Subsidies to
higher education should cease, the col-
leges being given a reasonable time in
which to rearrange their budgets.'

This does not mean that the colleges
are not helpful to the state from an
educational point of view. Of Middle-
bury, for instance, it is said that 'the
work of the college is distinctly good,'
that the 'fundamental work is now
being admirably done.' The one ab-
sorbing aim of President Thomas is
that Middlebury College a
great instrument in the upbuilding of
Vermont. 'I propose,' he said on one
occasion, 'to train as many students as
possible to go back to their homes,
filled with inspiration partaking of
sublime religious faith in the destiny

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of the Green Mountain State, and
there live and toil, and exercise an in-
fluence which no man may measure in
advance.' But what would be the
effect upon the college if more than a
quarter of its annual income should be
withdrawn from it? Would not its use-
fulness be terribly crippled for years,
possibly forever? Would the advantage
to the three thousand school-teachers
of the addition of a few dollars to their
salaries, for that is all the Middlebury
subsidy could give them, justify this

All who know the conditions in Ver-
mont recognize *the urgent needs of
the state in elementary education,'
but they do not feel that because of
these needs, the needs of the institu-
tions of higher education should suffer.
Their needs are very great. To quote
President Thomas again: *I see oppor-
tunities all over the state to stimulate
enterprise and quicken the life of the
people, if only we had the means to do
the work.' This feature of the report,
together with the repeated strange
statement that the state should not
subsidize a college which 'it does not
own and control,' has aroused much
feeling throughout Vermont, and it is
sincerely to be hoped that the useful-
ness of the inquiry will not be impaired
on this account.

For, regarded as a whole, it has un-
doubtedly a high educational value.
All having at heart the training of our
children to make the best of their place
in life should welcome the light thrown
upon the condition of the elementary
schools, especially those in rural dis-
tricts, and should act upon the sug-
gestions for their improvement. It is
to be hoped that the inquiry will give
a new and vivid impression of the in-
fluence of the teacher. This new and
fresh appreciation of the significance of
her duty, second only to that of the par-
ent, should lead to an improvement in
her preparation for her task, and should
increase the reward for her valuable
and painstaking labor. Then, the em-
phasis laid upon the necessity of the
development of agricultural instruc-
tion is of great importance. In view of
the fact that we are seeking all over the
world for food for our constantly in-
creasing millions, it is not only an eco^
nomic, but a national crime to let so
much rich, easily cultivable land lie idle,
not simply in Vermont but through-
out our Atlantic states. And the sim-
plest solution of the great problem is
clearly shown in the Carnegie Foun-
dation report. It is to make by stim-
ulating elementary, but thorough, in-
struction an intelligent and interested
farmer out of the bright country boy.

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I AM seventy-three to-day. That is
well along toward the four-score mark.
I remember that the Psalmist refers
to the strength which brings us to
eighty years as 'labor and sorrow/
and yet, curiously enough, I have no
sensation which squares with his dic-
tum. To be sure, I am not robust. I
do not see as clearly as of yore, and
Tom avers that I am slightly deaf.
But I'm as full of the joy of living as
ever. There's more beauty in the sun-
set than there used to be, and the songs
of the birds, if heard more faintly, have
a sweeter cadence. Spring has never
before borne such fragrance in upon
me, nor have I ever perceived as great
a glory in the autunm or found more
comfort in the winter.

If I have retired from active busi-
ness, it is not because of incapacity.
I notice, indeed, that when a particu-
larly perplexing problem faces Tom,
who succeeded me at the store, he
comes to Father for advice, and to this
date he has rarely failed to heed my
counsel. But why should I toil on in
the market-place? My modest fortune
suffices. It gives me books, lectures,
art, and the theatre. It affords me the
leisure for which I have toiled all my
life long, the leisure really to busy my-
self with the big things which face me
as a man. And I submit that there b
a joy in it all that is very far removed
from 'labor and sorrow.'
• Seventy-three. Ah, how the years
are flying! It seems hardly a month

from birthday to birthday. I remem-
ber to have heard my grandfather
make this remark. I was a child then
and the words seemed unbelievable.
Years afterwards, Father, sitting by
the fireside, used to express the same
sentiment very frequently. I under-
stood it more perfectly by that time,
for right in the thick of business strife
the days were all too short for me. But
now that I've taken my place at the
fireside, and the shadows seem to be
lengthening, I understand to the full
just how swiftly the years are slipping

'A thousand years in thy sight,'
said one of old, 'are but as yesterday
when it is passed and a watch in the
night.' That is God's outlook upon
time. He has always lived. He will
live forever. To Him there is no past,
no future, only one eternal NOW. It
is because He has always been, that the
Eternal Presence lool^ upon a thou-
sand years as 'a watch in the night.'
And the longer we finite beings exist,
so I take it, the shorter the years to
our view. It is not that our days are
drawing to an end that we have this
outlook, — it is that they are receding
from a beginning, that they are piling,
one upon the other, until each seems
small in comparison with the mass. At
three-score and thirteen, a year is but
a seventy-third. Indeed, I am. more
and more firmly convinced that with
advancing years one approaches, as
nearly as a finite being can, the point
of view from which the Infinite One
regards time, and in all reverence I


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cannot avoid the conviction that the
shortness of the years as one looks at
them in old age demonstrates one's
kinship to the Ahnighty, and is an ear-
nest of unending life.

The Reverend Mr. Smithers, who
preaches hell-fire and damnation to a
little congregation of people who are
frightened into denying themselves the
brightness of living that they may 'get
to heaven' sometime, will hardly see
any logic in my thought. Deacon
Jones would regard it as akin to blas-
phemy; but a quiet game of whist is
'gambling' to Deacon Jones. It agon-
izes his soul to see the young folks
dance, and I've more than once heard
him say how hard it is for 'the Lord
to save an old man/ These good peo-
ple may be right, although it would
grieve me to discover it; and yet, I
can't help thinking that time seems
shorter to me in old age because the
years have brought me into at least a
subconscious realization of my im-

The reader needs not to be told that
I have busied myself with selling hard-
ware most of my life rather than in
delving into theology or metaphysics.
My reading has been limited and de-
sultory, and I dare not believe that I ' ve
thought out any solution for the great-
est of the problems that confront me
in common with all my kind. My in-
timates know me as a practical man
and are kind enough to credit me
with more common sense than, I fear, I
really possess. I am fully conscious of
my limitations; more so, perhaps, than
these pages would indicate. Neverthe-
less, the very fact that weeks get more
and more like days to me as the years
multiply, and days seem to shrink into
hours, warms my old heart with what
I believe to be an assurance of unend-
ing existence.

That assurance strengthens, too,
when, looking within, I am able to dis-

cover no trace whatever of decay.
That is to say, I feel as young as I did
at forty, at twenty, at ten. In speak-
ing of age, we invariably make the
mistake of thinking only of the body.
When I wrote just now, *I am seventy-
three to-day,' I meant only, of coiu^e,
that that is the age of my physical
being. There is no assurance that I am
not centuries older. I do not dabble
in the occult, and cannot express my-
self with scientific exactness. I feel
very timid about venturing an opinion
on matters concerning which so many
wiser than I are in doubt, but dares
any one say that his life began in his
mother's womb or that it ends at the
grave? If so, how does he know it?

When I say that I do not feel old, I
mean I, not my body. My body is
not I. If it is, why do I say my body?
I speak of my hands, my feet, my eyes,
my tongue, my stomach, just as I do of
my spectacles, my cane, my clothing,
my store. These things belong to me.
They are my tools. I use them as I see
fit in accomplishing the purposes of
everyday life. Into the warp and woof
of our very language is thus woven the
divine conception of our being. It is an
interesting fact that the materialist
rarely converses for an hour without
unconsciously denying his creed. No
matter what one's professed faith, his
everyday language is an acknowledg-
ment that, however closely he may be
bound to the material and however
dependent thereupon, he, himself, is
not material.

As the body ages, and it ages rapidly,
of course, it is subject to a multitude
of infirmities, most of which are rare
in its youth. We have grown accus-
tomed to associating these infirmities
with old age, therefore, and are quite
likely to view their presence as a de-
monstration of advancing years. Such
indeed it is, but only in relation to the
body. *I feel old,' is a very common

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expression, but one which is very far
from the exact truth. To illustrate: I
notice that the rheumatism grips my
shoulder* quite frequently of late,
especially in damp weather, although
such an attack was quite unknown in
the first sixty years of my life. Old
age? Of the body, perhaps, but not of
me. Tom had the rheumatbm when
he was barely fifteen. The sensation
was to him precisely what it is to me
and the treatment differed very little,
if at all. I need spectacles now, but
many children need them, too. My
step is not as sure as it used to be, but
so far as I can observe, the effect is the
same as it would have been had some
weakness attacked my legs fifty years
ago. My hair is thin and white, but
I know many bald heads under thirty,
and young men have turned gray over

And so I might run through the list
of the so-called infirmities of age, but
it is enough to say that they are purely
bodily and by no means confined to
those who have passed the meridian of
life. They do not affect me, myself, in
any way differently from what they
would do were I forty, or in the cradle.
They occasion inconvenience, pain,
chagrin, just as they would have done
at any period. Through it all I sur-
vive, consciously the same man that I
have been all along. And it is this con-

Online LibraryJohn Davis Batchelder Collection (Library of CongrThe Atlantic monthly → online text (page 17 of 120)