The Department of Art, under Professor Alice V.V. Brown, formerly of the Slater Museum of Norwich, Connecticut, is doing a work in the proper interpretation and history of art as unique as it is valuable. The laboratory method is used, and all students are required to recognize and indicate the characteristic qualities and attributes of the great masters and the different schools of paintings by sketching from photographs of the pictures studied. These five and ten minute sketches by young girls, the majority of whom have had no training in drawing, are remarkable for the vivacity and accuracy with which they reproduce the salient features of the great paintings. The students are of course given the latest results of the modern school of art criticism. In addition to the work with undergraduates, the department offers courses to graduate students who wish to prepare themselves for curatorships, or lectureships in art museums, and Wellesley women occupy positions of trust in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in the Boston Art Museum, in museums in Chicago, Worcester, and elsewhere. The "Short History of Italian Painting" by Professor Brown and Mr. William Rankin is a standard authority.
The Department of Music, working quite independently of the Department of Art, has also adapted laboratory methods to its own ends with unusual results. Under Professor Hamilton C. Macdougall, the head of the department, and Associate Professor Clarence G. Hamilton, courses in musical interpretation have been developed in connection with the courses in practical music. The first-year class, meeting once a week, listens to an anonymous musical selection played by one of its members, and must decide by internal evidence—such as simple cadences, harmonic figuration as applied to the accompaniment and other characteristics—upon the school of the composer, and biographical data. The analysis of the musical selection and the reasons for her decision are set down in her notebook by the listening student. The second-year class concerns itself with "the thematic and polyphonic melody, the larger forms, harmony in its aesthetic bearings, the aesthetic effects of the more complicated rhythms, comparative criticism and the various schools of composition."
These valuable contributions to method and scope in the study of the History of Art and the History of Music are original with Wellesley, and are distinctly a part of her history.
Among the departments which carry prestige outside the college walls are those of Philosophy and Psychology, English Literature, and German. Wellesley's Department of English Literature is unusually fortunate in having as interpreters of the great literature of England a group of women of letters of established reputation. What Longfellow, Lowell, Norton, were to the Harvard of their day, Katharine Lee Bates, Vida D. Scudder, Sophie Jewett, and Margaret Sherwood are to the Wellesley of their day and ours. Working together, with unfailing enthusiasm for their subjects, and keen insight into the cultural needs of American girls, they have built up their department on a sure foundation of accurate scholarship and tested pedagogic method. At a time when the study of literature threatened to become, almost universally, an exercise in the dry rot of philological terms, in the cataloguing of sources, or the analyzing of literary forms, the department at Wellesley continued unswervingly to make use of philology, sources, and even art forms, as means to an end; that end the interpretation of literary epochs, the illumination of intellectual and spiritual values in literary masterpieces, the revelation of the soul of poet, dramatist, essayist, novelist. No teaching of literature is less sentimental than the teaching at Wellesley, and no teaching is more quickening to the imagination. Now that the method of accumulated detail "about it and about it", is being defeated by its own aridity, Wellesley's firm insistence upon listening to literature as to a living voice is justified of her teachers and her students.
Indications of the reputation achieved by Wellesley's methods of teaching German are found in the increasing numbers of students who come to the college for the sake of the work in the German Department, and in the fact that teachers' agencies not infrequently ask candidates for positions if they are familiar with the Wellesley methods. In an address before the New Hampshire State Teachers' Association, in 1913, Professor Muller describes the aims and ideals of her department as they took shape under the constructive leadership of her predecessor, Professor Wenckebach, and as they have been modified and developed in later years to meet the needs of American students.
"Cinderella became a princess and a ruler over night," says Professor Muller, "that is, German suddenly took the position in our college that it has held ever since. Such a result was due not merely to methods, of course, but first of all to the strong and enthusiastic personality that was identified with them, and that was the main secret of the unusual effectiveness of Fraulein Wenckebach's teaching.
"But this German professor had not only live methods and virile personal qualities to help her along; she also had what a great many of the foreign language teachers in this country must as yet do without, that is, the absolute confidence, warm appreciation, and financial support of an enlightened administration. President Freeman and the trustees seem to have done practically everything that their intrepid professor of German asked for. They not only saw that all equipments needed... were provided, but they also generously stipulated, at Fraulein Wenckebach's urgent request, that all the elementary and intermediate classes in the foreign language departments should be kept small, that is, that they should not exceed fifteen. If Fraulein Wenckebach had been obliged, as many modern language teachers still are, to teach German to classes of from thirty to forty students; if she had met in the administration of Wellesley College with as little appreciation and understanding of the fine art and extreme difficulty of foreign language work as high school teachers, for instance, often encounter, her efforts could not possibly have been crowned with success.
"Another agent in enabling Fraulein Wenckebach to do such fine constructive work with her Department was the general Wellesley policy, still followed, I am happy to say, of centralizing all power and responsibility regarding department affairs in the person of the head of the Department. Centralization may not work well in politics, but a foreign language department working with the reformed methods could not develop the highest efficiency under any other form of government. With a living organism, such as a foreign language department should be, there ought to be one, and only one, responsible person to keep her finger on the pulse of things—otherwise disintegration and ineffectiveness of the work as a whole is sure to follow."
Professor Muller goes on to say, "Now JOY, genuine joy, in their work, based on good, strong, mental exercise, is what we want and what on the whole we get from our students. It was so in the days of Fraulein Wenckebach and is so now, I am happy to say—and not in the literature courses only, but in our elementary drill work as well.
"It may be of interest to note that our elementary work and also the advanced work in grammar and idiom are at present taught by Americans wholly. I have come to the conclusion that well-trained Americans gifted with vivid personalities get better results along those lines than the average teacher of foreign birth and breeding."
Even in the elementary courses, only those texts are used which illustrate German life, literature, and history; and the advanced electives are carefully guarded, so that no student may elect courses in modern German, the novel and the drama, who has not already been well grounded in Goethe, Schiller, and Lessing. The drastic thoroughness with which unpromising students are weeded out of the courses in German enhances rather than defeats their popularity among undergraduates.
The learned women who direct Wellesley's work in Philosophy and Psychology lend their own distinction to this department. Professor Case, a graduate of the University of Michigan, has been connected with the college since 1884, and her courses in Greek Philosophy and the Philosophy of Religion make an appeal to thoughtful students which does not lessen as the years pass. Professor Gamble, Wellesley's own daughter, is the foremost authority on smell, among psychologists. In her chosen field of experimental psychology she has achieved results attained by no one else, and her work has a Continental reputation. Professor Calkins, the head of the Department, is one of the distinguished alumnae of Smith College. She has also passed Harvard's examination for the Doctor's degree; but Harvard does not yet confer its degree upon women. She was the first woman to receive the degree of Litt.D. from Columbia University, and the first woman to be elected to the presidency of the American Psychological Association, succeeding William James in that office.
In the Department of Economics and Sociology, organized under the leadership of Professor Katharine Coman, in 1901, Wellesley has been fortunate in having as teachers two women of national reputation whose interest in the human side of economic problems has vitalized for their eager classes a subject which unless sympathetically handled, lends itself all too easily to mechanical interpretations of theory. Professor Coman's wide and intimate knowledge of American economic conditions, as evidenced in her books, the "Industrial History of the United States", and "Economic Beginnings of the Far West", in her studies in Social Insurance published in The Survey, and in her practical work for the College Settlements Association and the Consumers' League, and as an active member of the Strike Committee during the strike of the Chicago Garment Workers in 1910-1911, lent to her teaching an appeal which more cloistered theorists can never achieve. The letters which came to her from alumnae, after her resignation from the department in 1913, were of the sort that every teacher cherishes. Since her death in January, 1915, some of these letters have been printed in a memorial number of the Wellesley College News. Nothing could better illustrate her influence as an intellectual force in the college to which she came as an instructor in 1880. One of her oldest students writes:
"I am too late for the thirtieth anniversary, but still it is never too late to say how much I enjoyed my work with you in college. It always seemed such grown-up work. Partly, I suppose, because it was closely related to the things of life, and partly because you demanded a more grown-up and thoughtful point of view. It was a great privilege to have your Economics as a sophomore. I have always meant to tell you, too, of what great practical value your seminar in Statistics was to me; it gave me enough insight into the principles and practice to encourage me to present my work the first year out of college in statistical form. It was approved. Without the incentive and the little experience I had gained from you I might not have tried to do this. Since then, in whatever field of social work I have been I have found this ability valuable, and I developed enough skill at it to handle the investigation into wages of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission without other training. I am very grateful to you for this bit of technical training for which I would never have taken the time later."
Another says: "It is a pleasure to have an opportunity, after so many years, to make some expression of the gratitude I owe you. The course in Political Economy which I was so wise as to take with you has proved of vital importance to me. That was in 1887-1888, but as I look back I see that in your teaching then, you presented to us the ideas, the concepts, which are now accepted principles of men's thought as to the relation of class to class, of man to man. And so I feel that it was to your enthusiasm, your power of inspiring your pupils that I owe my own interest in economic and sociological affairs."
And still another: "I have had more real pleasure from my Economics courses and Sociology courses than from any others of my college course. Had it not been for yourself and Miss Balch, that work would not have stood for so much. For your guidance and your inspiration I am most grateful. I have tried to carry out your ideals as far as possible in the Visiting Nurse work and the Social Settlement in Omaha ever since leaving Wellesley."
Professor Emily Greene Balch, who succeeded Miss Coman as head of the Department of Economics, is herself an authority on questions of immigration; her book, "Our Slavic Fellow Citizens", is an important contribution to the history of the subject, and has been cited in the German Reichstag as authoritative on Slavic immigration. She has also served on more than one State commission in Massachusetts,—among them the disinterested and competent City Planning Board,—and the sanity and judicial balance of her opinions are recognized and valued by conservatives and radicals alike. Besides the traditional courses in Economic History and Theory, Wellesley offers under Miss Balch a course in Socialism, a critical study of its main theories and political movements, open to juniors and seniors who have already completed two other courses in Economics; a course entitled "The Modern Labor Movement", in which special attention is given to labor legislation, factory inspection, and the organization of labor, with a study of methods of meeting the difficulties of the modern industrial situation; and a course in Immigration and the problems to which it gives rise in the United States.
The Wellesley fire did the college one good turn by bringing to the notice of the general public the departments of Science. When so many of the laboratories and so much of the equipment were swept away, outsiders became aware of the excellent work which was being done in those laboratories; of the modern work in Geology and Geography carried on not only in Wellesley but for the teachers of Boston by Professor Fisher who is so wisely developing the department which Professor Niles set on its firm foundation; of the work of Professor Robertson who is an authority on the bryozoa fauna of the Pacific coast of North America and Japan; of the authoritative work on the life history of Pinus, by Professor Ferguson of the Department of Botany; of the quiet, thorough, modern work for students in Physics and Chemistry and Astronomy.
An evidence of the excellent organization of departmental work at Wellesley is found in the ease and smoothness with which the Department of Hygiene, formerly the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, has become a force in the Wellesley curriculum under the direction of Miss Amy Morris Homans, who was also the head of the school in Boston. By a gradual process of adjustment, admission to the two years' course leading to a certificate in the Department of Hygiene "will be limited to applicants who are candidates for the B.A. degree at Wellesley College and to those who already hold the Bachelor's degree either from Wellesley College or from some other college." A five years' course is also offered, by which students may obtain both the B.A. degree and the certificate of the department. But all students, whether working for the certificate or not, must take a one-hour course in Hygiene in the freshman year, and two periods a week of practical gymnastic work in the freshman and sophomore years.
Like all American colleges, Wellesley makes heavy and constant demands on the mere pedagogic power of its teachers. Their days are pretty well filled with the classroom routine and the necessary and incessant social intercourse with the eager crowd of youth. It may be years before an American college for women can sustain and foster creative scholarship for its own sake, after the example of the European universities; but Wellesley is not ungenerous; the Sabbatical Grant gives certain heads of departments an opportunity for refreshment and personal work every seven years; and even those who do not profit by this privilege manage to keep their minds alive by outside work and contacts.
Every two years the secretary to the president issues a list of faculty publications, ranging from verse and short stories in the best magazines to papers in learned reviews for esoteric consumption only; from idyllic novels, such as Margaret Sherwood's "Daphne", and sympathetic travel sketches like Katharine Lee Bates's "Spanish Highways and Byways", to scholarly translations, such as Sophie Jewett's "Pearl" and Vida D. Scudder's "Letters of St. Catherine of Siena", and philosophical treatises, of which Mary Whiton Calkins's "Persistent Problems of Philosophy", translated into several languages, is a notable example.
But the Wellesley faculty is a public-spirited body; its contribution to the general life is not only abstract and literary; for many of its members are identified with modern movements toward better citizenship. Miss Balch, besides her work on municipal committees, is connected with the Woman's Trade Union League, and is interested in the great movement for peace. In the spring of 1915, she was one of those who sailed with Miss Jane Addams to attend the Woman's Peace Congress at the Hague, and she afterwards visited other European countries on a mission of peace. Miss Bates is active in promoting the interests of the International Institute in Spain. The American College for Girls in Constantinople often looks to Wellesley for teachers, and more than one Wellesley professor has given a Sabbatical year to the schoolgirls in Constantinople. During the absence of President Patrick, Professor Roxana Vivian of Wellesley was acting president, and had the honor of bringing the college safely through the perplexities and terrors of the Young Turks' Revolution in 1908 and 1909. Professor Kendall, of the Department of History, is Wellesley's most distinguished traveler. Her book, "A Wayfarer in China", tells the story of some of her travels, and she has received the rare honor, for a woman, of being made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Miss Calkins is an officer of the Consumers' League. Miss Scudder has been identified from its outset with the College Settlements Movement, and of late years with the new service to Italian immigrants inaugurated by Denison House.
As a result of these varied interests, the intellectual fellowship among the older women in the college community is of a peculiarly stimulating quality, and the fact that it is almost exclusively a feminine fellowship does not affect its intellectuality. The Wellesley faculty, like the faculty of Harvard, is not a cloistered body, and contact with the minds of "a world of men" through books and the visitations of itinerant scholars is about as easy in the one case as in the other. Every year Wellesley has her share of distinguished visitors, American, European, and Oriental, scholars, poets, scientists, statesmen, who enrich her life and enlarge her spiritual vision.
One chapter of Wellesley's history it is too soon to write: the story of the great names and great personalities, the spiritual stuff of which every college is built. This is the chapter on which the historians of men's colleges love best to dwell. But the women's lips and pens are fountains sealed, for a reticent hundred years—or possibly less, under pressure—with the seals of academic reserve, and historic perspective, and traditional modesty. Most of the women who had a hand in the making of Wellesley's first forty years are still alive. There's the rub. It would not hamper the journalist. But the historian has his conventions. One hundred years from now, what names, living to-day, will be written in Wellesley's golden book? Already they are written in many prophetic hearts. However, women can keep a secret.
Even of those who have already finished their work on earth, it is too soon to speak authoritatively; but gratitude and love will not be silent, and no story of Wellesley's first half-century would be complete that held no records of their devotion and continuing influence.
Among the pioneers, there was no more interesting and forceful personality than Susan Maria Hallowell, who came to Wellesley as Professor of Natural History in 1875, the friend of Agassiz and Asa Gray. She was a Maine woman, and she had been teaching twenty-two years, in Bangor and Portland, before she was called to Wellesley. Her successor in the Department of Botany writes in a memorial sketch of her life:
"With that indefatigable zeal so characteristic of her whole life, she began the work in preparation for the new position. She went from college to college, from university to university, studying the scientific libraries and laboratories. At the close of this investigation she announced to the founders of the college that the task which they had assigned to her was too great for any one individual to undertake. There must be several professorships rather than one. Of those named she was given first choice, and when, in 1876, she opened her laboratories and actually began her teaching in Wellesley College, she did so as professor of Botany, although her title was not formally changed until 1878.
"The foundations which she laid were so broad and sure, the several courses which she organized were so carefully outlined, that, except where necessitated by more recent developments in science, only very slight changes in the arrangement and distribution of the work in her department have since been necessary.... She organized and built up a botanical library which from the first was second to that of no other college in the country, and is to-day only surpassed by the botanical libraries of a few of our great universities."
Fortunately the botanical library and the laboratories were housed in Stone Hall, and escaped devastation by the fire.
Professor Hallowell was the first woman to be admitted to the botanical lectures and laboratories of the University of Berlin. She "was not a productive scholar", again we quote from Professor Ferguson, "as that term is now used, and hence her gifts and her achievements are but little known to the botanists of to-day. She was preeminently a teacher and an organizer. Only those who knew her in this double capacity can fully realize the richness of her nature and the power of her personality." She retired from active service at the college in February, 1902, when she was made Professor Emeritus; but she lived in Wellesley village with her friend, Miss Horton, the former professor of Greek, until her death in 1911. Mrs. North gives us a charming glimpse of the quaint and dignified little old lady. "When in recent years the blossoming forth of academic dress made a pageant of our great occasions, the badges of scholarship seemed to her foreign to the simplicity of true learning, and she walked bravely in the Commencement procession, wearing the little bonnet which henceforth became a distinction."
Another early member of the Department of Botany, Clara Eaton Cummings, who came to Wellesley as a student in 1876 and kept her connection with the college until her death, as associate professor, in 1906, was a scientific scholar of distinguished reputation. Her work in cryptogamic botany gained the respect of botanists for Wellesley.
With this pioneer group belongs also Professor Niles, who was actively connected with the college from 1882 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1908. Wellesley shares with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology her precious memories of this devoted gentleman and scholar. His wise planning set the Department of Geology and Geography on its present excellent basis. At his death in 1910, a valuable legacy of geological specimens came to Wellesley, only to be destroyed in 1914 by the fire. But his greatest gifts to the college are those which no fire can ever harm.
Anne Eugenia Morgan, professor in the Department of Philosophy from 1878 to 1900; Mary Adams Currier, enthusiastic head of the Department of Elocution from 1875 to 1896, the founder of the Monroe Fund for her department; Doctor Speakman, Doctor Barker, Wellesley's resident physicians in the early days; dear Mrs. Newman, who mothered so many college generations of girls at Norumbega, and will always be to them the ideal house-mother,—when old alumnae speak these names, their hearts glow with unchanging affection.
But the most vivid of all these pioneers, and one of the most widely known, was Carla Wenckebach. Of her, Wellesley has a picture and a memory which will not fade, in the brilliant biography [Carla Wenckebach, Pioneer (Ginn & Co. pub.).] by her colleague and close friend, Margarethe Muller, who succeeded her in the Department of German. As an interpretation of character and personality, this book takes its place with Professor Palmer's "Life of Alice Freeman Palmer", among literary biographies of the first rank.
Professor Wenckebach came to Wellesley in 1883, and we have the story of her coming, in her own letters, given us in translation by Professor Muller. She was attending the Sauveur Summer School of Languages at Amherst, and had been asked to take some classes there, in elementary German, where her methods immediately attracted attention; and presently we find her writing:
"Hurrah! I have made a superb catch—not a widower nor a bachelor, but something infinitely superior! I must not anticipate, though, but proceed according to program....
"The other day, when I was in my room digging away at my Greek lessons, the landlady brings in three visiting cards, remarking that the three ladies who wish to see me are in the reception room. I look at the cards and read: Miss Alice Freeman, President (in German, Rector Magnificus) of Wellesley College; Mrs. Durant, Treasurer; and Miss Denio, Professor of German Literature at Wellesley College (Wellesley, you must know, is the largest and most magnificent of all the women's colleges in the United States). I immediately comprehended that these were three lions (grosse Tiere), and I began to have curious presentiments. Fortunately, I was in correct dress, so that I could rush down into our elegant reception room. Here I made a solemn bow, the three ladies returning the compliment. The president, a lady who must be a good deal younger than myself, a real Ph.D. (of Philosophy and History), told me that she had heard of me and therefore wished to see me in regard to a vacancy at Wellesley College, which, according to the statutes, must not be filled by a man so long as a woman could be procured. The woman she was looking for must be able, she said, to give lectures on German Literature in German, and to expound the works of German writers thoroughly; she would engage me for this position, she added, if she found that I was the right person for it.
"I was dumfounded at the mere suggestion of this gift of Heaven coming to me, for I had heard so many beautiful things about Wellesley that the idea of possibly getting a position there totally dazed me. Summoning up courage, however, I controlled my wild joy, and pulling myself together with determination, I gave the ladies the desired account of my studies, my journalistic work, etc., whereupon the president informed me that she would attend my class the next day."
The ordeal was successfully passed, and the position of "head teacher in the German Department at Wellesley" was immediately offered her. "Now you think, I suppose, that I fell round the necks of those angels of joy! I didn't though!" she blithely writes. But she agreed to visit Wellesley, and her description of this visit gives us old College Hall in a new light.
"The place in itself is so beautiful that we could hardly realize its being merely a school. The Royal Palace in Berlin is small compared to the main building, which in length and stateliness of appearance surpasses even the great Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The entrance hall is decorated with magnificent palms, with valuable paintings, and choice statuary. The walls in all the corridors are covered with fine engravings; there are carpets everywhere and elegant pieces of furniture; there is gas, steam heat, and a big elevator; everything, down to the bathrooms, is princely."
Professor Muller adds, "Of course, she was 'kind enough' to accept the position offered, although it was not especially lucrative. 'But what is a high salary,' she exclaims, 'in comparison to the ease and enthusiasm with which I can here plow a new field of work! That, and the honor attached to the position, are worth more to me than thousands of dollars. I am to be a regular grosses Tier now myself,—what fun, after having been a beast of burden so long!'"
From the first, Wellesley recognized her quality, and wisely gave it freedom. In addition to her work in German, we owe to her the beginnings of the Department of Education, through her lectures on Pedagogy.
Speaking of her power, Professor Muller says: "Truly, as a teacher, especially a teacher of youth, Fraulein Wenckebach was unexcelled. There was that relieving and inspiring, that broadening and yet deepening quality in her work, that ease and grace and joy, that mark the work of the elect only,—of those rare souls among us who are 'near the shaping hand of the Creator.'" And Fraulein Wenckebach herself said of her profession: "Every teacher, every educator, should above all be a guide. Not one of those who, like signposts, stretch their wooden arms with pedantic insistence in a given direction, but one, rather, who, after the manner of the heavenly bodies, diffusing warmth and light and cheer, draws the young soul irresistibly to leave its dark jungles of prejudice and ignorance for the promised land of wisdom and freedom." And her students testify enthusiastically to her unusual success. One of them writes:
"To Fraulein Wenckebach as a teacher, I owe more than to any other teacher I ever had. I cannot remember that she reproved any student or that she ever directly urged us to do our best. She made no efforts to make her lectures attractive by witticisms, anecdotes, or entertaining illustrations. Yet her students worked with eager faithfulness, and I, personally, have never been so absorbed and inspired by any lectures as by hers. The secret of her power was not merely that she was master of the art of teaching and knew how to arouse interest and awaken the mind to independent thought and inquiry, but that her own earnestness and high purpose touched our lives and made anything less than the highest possible degree of effort and attainment seem not worth while."—"We girls used to say to each other that if we ever taught we should want to be to our students what she was to us, and if they could feel as we felt toward her and her work we should want no more. She demanded the best of us, without demanding, and what she gave us was beyond measure.—It was courses like hers that made us feel that college work was the best part of college life."
These are the things that teachers care most to hear, and in the nineteen years of her service at Wellesley, there were many students eager to tell her what she had been to them. She writes in 1886: "What a privilege to pour into the receptive mind of young American girls the fullness of all that is precious about the German spirit; and how enthusiastically they receive all I can give them!"
In the late eighties and early nineties there came to the college a notable group of younger women, destined to play an important part in Wellesley's life and to increase her academic reputation: Mary Whiton Calkins, Margarethe Muller, Adeline B. Hawes, the able head of the Department of Latin, Katharine M. Edwards, of the Department of Greek, Sophie de Chantal Hart, of the Department of English Composition, Vida D. Scudder, Margaret Sherwood, and Sophie Jewett, of the Department of English Literature. In the autumn of 1909, Sophie Jewett died, and never has the college been stirred to more intimate and personal grief. So many poets, so many scholars, are not lovable; but this scholar-poet quickened every heart to love her. To live in her house, to sit at her table, to listen to her "cadenced voice" in the classrooms, were privileges which those who shared them will never forget. Her colleague, Professor Scudder, speaking at the memorial service in the College Chapel, said:
"We shall long rejoice to dwell on the ministry of love that was hers to exercise in so rare a measure, through her unerring and reverent discernment of all finest aspects of beauty; on her sensitive allegiance to truth; on the fine reticence of her imaginative passion; on that heavenly sympathy and selflessness of hers, a selflessness so deep that it bore no trace of effort or resolute purpose, but was simply the natural instinct of the soul....
"Let us give thanks, then, for all her noble and delicate powers; for her all-controlling Christianity; for her subtle rectitude of intellectual and spiritual vision; for her swift ardor for all high causes and great dreams; for that unbounded tenderness toward youth, that firm and steady standard of scholarship, that central hunger for truth, which gave high quality to her teaching, and which during twenty years have been at the service of Wellesley College and of the Department of English Literature."
This very giving of herself to the claims of the college hampered, to a certain extent, her poetic creativeness; the volumes that she has left are as few as they are precious, every one "a pearl." Speaking of these poems, Miss Scudder says: "And in her own verse,—do we not catch to a strange degree, hushed echoes of heavenly music? These lyrics are not wholly of the earth: they vibrate subtly with what I can only call the sense of the Eternal. How beautiful, how consoling, that her last book should have been that translation, such as only one who was at once true poet and true scholar could have made, of the sweetest medieval elegy 'The Pearl'!" And Miss Bates, in her preface to the posthumous volume of "Folk-Ballads of Southern Europe", illumines for us the scholarship which went into these close and sympathetic translations:
"For the Roumanian ballads, although she pored over the originals, she had to depend, in the main, upon French translation, which was usually available, too, for the Gascon and Breton. Italian, which she knew well, guided her through obscure dialects of Italy and Sicily, but Castilian, Portuguese, and Catalan she puzzled out for herself with such natural insight that the experts to whom these translations have been submitted found hardly a word to change. 'After all,' as she herself wrote, 'ballads are simple things, and require, as a rule, but a limited vocabulary, though a peculiarly idiomatic one.'"
Not the least poetic of her books, although it is written in prose, is the delicate interpretation of St. Francis, written for children and called "God's Troubadour."
"Erect, serene, she came and went On her high task of beauty bent. For us who knew, nor can forget, The echoes of her laughter yet Make sudden music in the halls." ["In Memoriam: Sophie Jewett." A poem by Margaret Sherwood, Wellesley College News, May 1, 1913.]
In 1913, Madame Colin, who had served the college as head of the Department of French since 1905, died during the spring recess after a three days' illness. Madame Colin had studied at the University of Paris and the Sorbonne, and her ideals for her department were high.
Among Wellesley's own alumnae, only a very few who were officers of the college during the first forty years have died. Of these are Caroline Frances Pierce, of the class of 1891, who was librarian from 1903 to 1910. To her wise planning we owe the conveniences and comforts in the new library building which she did not live to see completed.
In 1914, the Department of Greek suffered a deep loss in Professor Annie Sybil Montague, of the class of 1879. Besides being a member of the first graduating class, Miss Montague was one of the first to receive the degree of M.A. from Wellesley. In 1882, the college conferred this degree for the first time, and Miss Montague was one of the two candidates who presented themselves. One of her old students, Annie Kimball Tuell, of the class of 1896, herself an instructor in the Department of English Literature, writes:
I think Miss Montague would wish that another of her pupils, one who worked with her for an unusually long time, should say—what can most simply and most warmly and most gratefully be said—that she was a good teacher. So I want to say it formally for myself and for all the others and for all the years. For I suppose that if we were doomed to go before our girls for a last judgment, the best and the least of us would care just for the simple bit of testimony that we knew our business and attended to it. And of all the good people who made college days so rich for me, there is none of whom I could say this more entirely than of Miss Montague.
Often as I have caught sight of her in the jostling crowd of the second floor, I have felt a lively regret that she was known to so few of the girls, and that her excellent ability to give zest to drill and to stablish fluttering wits in order, could not have a fuller and freer exercise. In the old days we valued what she had to give, and in the usual silent, thankless way, elected her courses as long as there were courses to elect; but we have had to teach many years since to know how special that gift of hers was. Just as closer acquaintance with herself proved her breadth of mind and sympathy not quite understood before, so more intelligent knowledge of her methods showed them to be broader and more fundamental than we had quite comprehended. With her handling, rules and sub-rules ceased to jostle and confuse one another, but grouped themselves in a simpler harmony which we thought a very beautiful discovery, and grammar took on a reasonable unity which seemed a marvel. So we took our laborious days with cheer and enjoyed the energy, for we quite understood that our work would lead to something.
But if there could be an interchange of grace and I could take a gift from Miss Montague's personality, I would rather have what she in a matter-of-fact way would take for granted, but what is harder for us who are beginners here to come by,—I mean her altogether fine and blameless relation to her girls outside the classroom. She was a presence always heartily responsive, but never unwary, without the slightest reflection of her personality upon us, with never a word too much of praise or blame, of too much intimacy or of too much reserve. She was a figure of familiar friendliness, ready with sympathy and comprehension, but wholesome, sound and sane, without trace of sentimentality. Above all, I felt her a singularly honorable spirit, toward whom we always turned our best side, to whom we might never go with talk wanton or idle or unkind or critical, but always with our very precious thoughts on whatsoever things are eager, and honest and kindly and of good report. And so she was able to do us much good and no harm at all. She can have had no millstones about her neck to reckon with....
Miss Montague used to have a little class in Plato, and I have not forgotten how quietly we read together one day at the end of the Phaedo of the death of Socrates. After Miss Montague died, I turned to the book and found the place where the servant has brought the cup of poison, but Crito, unreconciled, wants to delay even a little:
"For the sun," said he, "is yet on the hills, and many a man has drunk the draught late."
"Yes," said Socrates, "since they wished for delay. But I do not think that I should gain anything by drinking the cup a little later."
In January, 1915, while this story of Wellesley was being written, Katharine Coman, Professor Emeritus of Economics, went like a conqueror to the triumph of her death. Miss Coman's power as a teacher has been spoken of on an earlier page, but she will be remembered in the college and outside as more than a teacher. Her books and her active interest in industrial affairs, her noble attitude toward life, all have had their share in informing and directing and inspiring the college she loved.
"A mountain soul, she shines in crystal air Above the smokes and clamors of the town. Her pure, majestic brows serenely wear The stars for crown.
"She comrades with the child, the bird, the fern, Poet and sage and rustic chimney-nook, But Pomp must be a pilgrim ere he earn Her mountain look.
"Her mountain look, the candor of the snow, The strength of folded granite, and the calm Of choiring pines, whose swayed green branches strow A healing balm.
* * * * * * *
"For lovely is a mountain rosy-lit With dawn, or steeped in sunshine, azure-hot, But loveliest when shadows traverse it, And stain it not."
[From a poem, "A Mountain Soul," by Katharine Lee Bates, 1904.]
THE STUDENTS AT WORK AND PLAY
The safest general statement which can be made about Wellesley students of the first forty years of the college is that more than sixty per cent of them have come from outside New England, from the Middle West, the Far West, and the South. Possibly there is a Wellesley type. Whether or not it could be differentiated from the Smith, the Bryn Mawr, the Vassar, and the Mt. Holyoke types, if the five were set up in a row, unlabeled, is a question. Yet it is true that certain recognizable qualities have developed and tend to persist among the students of Wellesley.
Wellesley girls are in the best sense democratic. There is no Gold Coast on the campus or in the village; money carries no social prestige. More money is spent, and more frivolously, than in the early days; there are more girls, and more rich girls, to spend it; yet the indifference to it except as a mechanical convenience, a medium of exchange and an opportunity for service, continues to be naively Utopian.
But money is not the only touchstone of democratic sensitiveness. At Wellesley there has always been uneasiness at the hint of unequal opportunity. When the college grew so large that membership in the six societies took on the aspect of special privilege, restiveness was as marked among the privileged as among the unprivileged, and more outspoken. The first result was the Barn Swallows, a social and dramatic society to which every student in college might belong if she wished. The second was the reorganization of the six societies on a more democratic and intellectual basis, to prevent "rushing", favoritism, cliques, and all the ills that mutually exclusive clubs are heir to. The agitation for these reforms came from the societies themselves, and they endured with Spartan determination the months of transitional misery and readjustment which their generous idealism brought upon their heads.
Enthusiasm for equality also enters into the students' attitude toward "the academic", and like most enthusiasts, from the French Revolution down, they are capable of confusing the issue. In the early days, they were not allowed to know their marks, lest the knowledge should rouse an unworthy spirit of competition; and of all the rules instituted by the founder, this is the one which they have been most unwilling to see abolished. Silent Time they relinquished with relief; Domestic Work they abandoned without a pang; Bible Study shrank from four to three years and from three to two, and then to one, almost without their noticing it. But when, in 1901, the Honor Scholarships were established, a storm of protest burst among the undergraduates, and thundered and lightened for several weeks in the pages of College News. And not the least vehement of these protestants were the "Honor girls" themselves. To see their names posted in an alphabetical list of twenty or more students who had achieved, all unwittingly, a certain number of A's and B's throughout their course, seems to have caused them a mortification more keen than that experienced by St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar. But that the college ideal should be "degraded" pained them most.
There was something very touching and encouraging about this wrong-headed, right-hearted outburst. After the usual Wellesley fashion, freedom of speech prevailed; everybody spoke her mind. In the end "sweetness and light" dispersed the mists of sentiment which had assumed that to acknowledge inequality of achievement was to abolish equality of opportunity, and burned away the ethical haziness which had magnified mediocrity; the crusaders realized that the pseudo-compassion which would conceal the idle and the stupid, the industrious and the brilliant, in a common obscurity, is impracticable, since the fool and the genius cannot long be hid, and unfair, since the ant and the grasshopper would enjoy a like reward, and no democracy has yet claimed that those who do not work shall eat. When in 1912 the faculty at last decided to inform the students as to all their marks, the news was received with no protest and with an intelligent appreciation of the intellectual and ethical value of the new privilege.
The college was founded "for the glory of God and the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, in and by the education and culture of women"; and Wellesley girls are, in the best sense, religious. There has been no time in the first forty years when the undergraduates were not earnestly and genuinely preoccupied with religious questions and religious living. One recognizes this not only by the obvious and commonplace signs, such as the interest in the Christian Association, the Student Volunteer Movement, the Missionary Field, Silver Bay, manifested by the conventional Christian students; it is evident also in the hunger and thirst of the sincere rebels, in such signs as the "Heretics' Bible Class" a volunteer group which existed for a year or two in the second decade of the century, and which has had its prototypes at intervals throughout the forty years. One sees it in the interest and enthusiasm of the students who follow Professor Case's course in the Philosophy of Hegel; in the reverence and love with which girls of all creeds and of none speak of the Chapel services, and attend them. When two thirds of the girls go voluntarily and as a matter of course to an Ash Wednesday evening service, when Jew and Roman Catholic alike testify eagerly to the value of the morning Chapel service in their spiritual development, it is evident that the religious life is genuine and healthy. And it finds its outlet in the passion for social service which, if statistics can be trusted, inspires so many of the alumnae. The old-fashioned Puritan, if she still exists, may tremble for the souls of the Wellesley girls who crowd by hundreds into the "matinee train" on Saturday afternoon, but let us hope that she would be reassured to find the voluntary Bible and Mission Study classes attended, and even conducted, by many of these same girls. She might grieve over the years of Bible Study lost to the curriculum, and over the introduction of modern methods of Biblical Higher Criticism into the classroom; but surely she would be comforted to see how the students have arisen to the rescue of the devotional study of the Scriptures, with their voluntary classes enthusiastically maintained. It might even touch her sense of humor.
As the college has grown larger, undoubtedly more and more girls have come to Wellesley for other than intellectual reasons,—because it is "the thing" to go to college, or for "the life." But it is reassuring to find that the reactions of "the life" upon them always quicken them to a deeper respect for intellectual values. The "academic" holds first place in the Wellesley life, not perfunctorily but vitally. The students themselves are swift to recognize and rebuke, usually in the "Free Press" or the "Parliament of Fools", of the College News, any signs of intellectual indifference or laxity. Wellesley, like Harvard and other large colleges, has its uninspiring level stretches of mediocrity; but it has its little leaping hills, its soaring peaks as well. Every class has its band of devoted students for whom the things of the mind are supreme; every class has its scattering of youthful scholars to give distinction to the academic landscape.
It would be absurd and useless to deny that Wellesley girls have their defects; they are of the sort that press for recognition; defects of manner, and manners, which are not confined to the students of any one college, or even to college students, but are due in a measure to the general change in our attitude towards women, and to the new freedom in which they all alike share. It is true that, to a degree, the graces and reserves which give charm and finish to daily living are sacrificed to the more pushing claims of study and athletics, in college. It is true that the unmodulated voice, the mushy enunciation, the unrestrained attitude, the slouchy clothes, too often go unrebuked in classroom and dormitory, where it seems to be nobody's business to rebuke them; but it is also usually true that, before they ever came to college, that voice, that attitude, those clothes, went unrebuked and even unheeded, at home or in the girls' camp, where it emphatically was somebody's business to heed and rebuke.
But it is the public which sees the worst of it, especially on trains, where groups of young voices or extreme fashions in dress become quite unintentionally conspicuous. Experienced from within, the life, despite its many little roughnesses, its small lapses in taste, is gracious and gentle, selfless in unobtrusive ways, and genuinely kind.
Religious, democratic, intellectually serious is our Wellesley girl, and last but not least, she is a lover of beauty. How could she fail to be? How many times, in early winter twilights, has she come over the stile into the Stone Hall meadow, and stood long moments, hushed, bespelled, by the tranquil pale loveliness of the lake, the dusky, rimming hills, the bare, slim blackness of twig and bough embroidering the silver sky,—the whole luminous etching? How often, mid-morning in spring, has she sat with her book in a green shade west of the library, and lifted her eyes to see above the daffodil-bank of Longfellow's fountain the blue lake waters laughing between the upspringing trunks of the tall oak trees? Wherever there are Wellesley women, when spring is waking,—in Switzerland, in Sicily, in Japan, in England,—they are remembering the Wellesley spring, that pageant of young green of lawns and hills and tenderest flushing rose in baby oak leaves and baby maples, that twinkling dance of birches and of poplars, that splendor of the youth of the year amid which young maidens shone and blossomed, starring the campus among the other spring flowers. And are there Wellesley women anywhere in the autumn who do not think of Wellesley and four autumns? Of the long russet vistas of the west woods? Of the army with banners, scarlet and golden, and bronze and russet and rose, that marched and trumpeted around Lake Waban's streaming Persian pattern of shadows? When you speak to a Wellesley girl of her Alma Mater, her eyes widen with the lover's look, and you know that she is seeing a vision of pure beauty.
In 1876, the students, shocked and grieved by the discovery of one of those cases of cheating with which every college has to deal from time to time, met together, and made a very stringent rule to be enforced by themselves. This "law", enacted on February 18, 1876, marks the first step toward Student Government at Wellesley; it reads as follows:
"The students of Wellesley College unanimously decree as a perpetual law of the college that no student shall use a translation or key in the study of any lesson or in any review, recitation, or examination. Every student who may enter the college shall be in honor bound to expose every violation of this law. If any student shall be known to violate this law, she shall be warned by a committee of the students and publicly exposed. If the offense be repeated the students shall demand her immediate expulsion as unworthy to remain a member of Wellesley College." It is signed by the presidents of the two classes, 1879 and 1880, then in college.
Until 1881, when the Courant, the first Wellesley periodical, gave the students opportunity to express their minds concerning matters of college policy, we have no definite record of further steps toward self-government on the part of the undergraduates. The disciplinary methods of those early years are amusingly described by Mary C. Wiggin, of the class of '85, who tells us that authority was vested in four bodies, the president, the doctor, the corridor teacher and the head of the Domestic Department.
"The president was responsible for our going out and our coming in. The 'office' might give permission to leave town, but all tardiness in returning must be explained to the president. How timidly four of us came to Miss Freeman in my sophomore year to explain that the freshman's mother had kept us to supper after our 'permitted' drive on Monday afternoon! What an occasion it gave her to caution us as to sophomore influence over freshmen!
"Very infrequent were our journeys to Boston in those days, theaters were forbidden. Once during my four years I saw Booth in 'Macbeth' during a Christmas vacation, salving my conscience with a liberal interpretation of the phrase, 'while connected with the college', trying to forget the parting injunction, 'Remember, girls, that You are Wellesley College.'...
"In the old days we were seated alphabetically in church and chapel, where attendance was kept in each 'section' by one of its members. A growing laxity permitted you to sit out of place on Sunday evenings, provided that you reported to your section girl. Otherwise you would be called to the office to explain your absence....
"Very slowly did the idea dawn upon me that there was a faculty back of all these very pleasant personal relations."
But in the late '80's, the advance toward student self-government begins to be traceable, slowly but surely. In the spring of 1887, on the initiative of the faculty, the first formal conference between representatives of faculty and students was called, to consider questions of class organization. Other conferences took place at irregular intervals during the next seven years, as occasion arose, and these often led to new legislation. The subjects discussed were, the Magazine, the Legenda, Athletics, the Junior Prom. In the autumn of 1888, students were first allowed to hand in excuses for absence from college classes; the responsibility for giving a "true, valid and signed excuse" resting with the individual student. In this same autumn the law forbidding eating between meals was repealed, but students were still not permitted to keep eatables in their rooms.
Articles on college courtesy, quiet in the library, articles for and against Domestic Work, begin to appear in the Courant and the Prelude in 1888 and 1889. In May, 1890, we learn of a Students' Association, which was the means of obtaining class bulletin boards in the autumn of 1890. From this time also, agitation on all topics of interest to the students is more openly active. In September, 1891, the faculty consent to allow library books to be taken out of the library on Saturday afternoon for use over Sunday. In October, 1891, we find that the Students' Association is to offer a medium for discussion and to foster a scholarly spirit. In December, 1891, a plea appears in the Prelude for occasional conferences between faculty and students on problems of college policy. In 1892, we read that the individual students are allowed to choose a church in the village and attend it on Sundays, if they so desire, instead of attending the College Chapel. In 1892 also, we have the agitation, in the Wellesley Magazine, for the wearing of cap and gown, and in this year senior privileges are extended, and the responsibility for absence from class appointments rests with the student. In November, 1892, the Magazine prints an article on Student Government by Professor Case of the Department of Philosophy. And the cap and gown census and discussion go gayly on. Early in 1893, there is a discussion of Student Government. In the spring of this year, there is an agitation for voluntary chapel. In September, the seniors begin to wear the cap and gown throughout the year. The year 1894 sees Silent Time abolished; and agitation,—always courteous and friendly,—goes on for Student Government, for the opening of the library on Sunday, for the abolition of Domestic Work. In 1893 or 1894, Professor Burrell, as head of College Hall, introduces the custom of having students sign for overtime when they wish to study after ten o'clock at night. In 1894, excuses for absence from chapel and classes are no longer required. In the spring of 1894, at the request of undergraduates, a conference with the faculty, in a series of meetings, considers matters of interest in student life. Beginning with May, 1895, the library is opened on Sundays.
It is significant to note, in looking over these old files of college magazines, that when the students' interest waned, the faculty were always ready to administer the necessary prod. Not all the articles in favor of Student Government are written by students. President Shafer herself gave the strongest early impetus to the movement, although not through the press. In 1899, Professor Woolley, as head of College Hall, instituted a House Organization, which as an experiment in Student Government among the students then living in College Hall was a complete success. In June, 1900, we find arrangements made for a Faculty-Student Conference, to be held during the autumn months; and this body met five times. Its establishment did a great deal in paving the way to mutual understanding and trust when the definite question of Student Government was approached.
On March 6, 1901, at a mass meeting of the students, and after a spirited discussion, it was voted that the Academic Council be petitioned to give self-government to the students in all matters not academic. This date is kept every year as the birthday of Student Government. At another mass meeting, on April 9, Miss Katharine Lord, the President of the Student Association of Bryn Mawr, spoke to the college on Student Government, and on April 23, there was still another mass meeting. The student committee appointed to confer with the committee from the faculty had for its chairman Mary Leavens, of the class of 1901, student head of College Hall; Miss Pendleton, at that time secretary of the college, was the chairman of the faculty committee. Student Government found in her, from the beginning, a convinced and able champion. In April, the constitution was submitted to the committee of the faculty, and in May the constitution and the agreement, after careful consideration, were submitted to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. On May 29, an all day election for president was held, resulting in the choice of Frances L. Hughes, 1902, as first president of the Student Government Association of Wellesley College. On June 6, the report was adopted and the agreement was signed by the president and secretary of the Board of Trustees and the president of the college. On June 7, in the presence of the faculty and the whole student body, in chapel, the agreement was read and signed on behalf of the faculty by the secretary of the college. The ceremony was impressive and memorable in its simplicity and solemnity. After Miss Pendleton had signed her name, the students rose and remained standing while the agreement was signed by Frances L. Hughes, President of the Association for 1901 and 1902, May Mathews, President of the Class of 1902, Margaret C. Mills, President of the Class of 1901, and Mary Leavens, President of the House Council of College Hall. The Scripture lesson was taken from I. Corinthians, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid," and the recessional was, "How firm a foundation."
The Association is organized with a president and vice president, chosen from the senior class, and a secretary and a treasurer from the juniors; these are all elected by the whole undergraduate body. There is an Executive Board whose members are the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of the association, the house presidents and their proctors, and a representative from each of the four classes, elected by the class. The government is in all essentials democratic. The rules are made and executed by the whole body of students; but all legislation of the students is subject to approval by the college authorities, and if any question arises as to whether or not a subject is within the jurisdiction of the association, it is referred to a joint committee of seven, made up of a standing committee of three appointed by the faculty, a standing committee of three appointed by the association, and the president of the college.
In intrusting to the association the management of all matters not strictly academic concerning the conduct of students in their college life, the College authorities reserve the right to regulate all athletic events and formal entertainments, all societies, clubs and other organizations, all Society houses, and all publications, all matters pertaining to public health and safety and to household management and the use of college property. The students are responsible for all matters of registration and absence from college, for the regulation of travel, permission for Sunday callers, rules governing chaperonage, the maintenance of quiet, the general conduct of students on the campus and in the village. It is they who have abolished the "ten-o'clock-bedtime rule"; it is they who have decreed that students shall not go to Boston on Sundays, but this rule is relaxed for seniors, who are allowed two Boston Sundays, in which they may attend church or an afternoon sacred concert in the city. If a student wishes to spend Sunday away from college, she must go away on Saturday and remain until Monday.
Questions of minor discipline, such as the enforcing of the rule of quiet in the dormitories, are handled by the students; not yet, it must be confessed, with complete success, as the quiet in the dormitories—especially the freshman houses—falls short of that holy calm which studious girls have a right to claim. Serious misdemeanors are of course in the jurisdiction of the president of the college and the faculty. One very important college duty, the proctoring of examinations, which would seem to be an entirely legitimate function of the Student Government Association, the students themselves have not as yet been willing to assume. During the years when the freshmen, sometimes as many as four hundred, were housed in the village because of the crowded conditions on the campus, the burden upon the Student Government Association, and especially upon the vice president and her senior assistants who had charge of the village work, was, in the opinion of many alumnae and some members of the faculty, heavier than they should have been expected to shoulder; for, when all is said, students do come to college primarily to pursue the intellectual life, rather than to be the monitors of undergraduate behavior. Fortunately, with the endowment of the college and the building of new dormitories on the campus, the village problem will be eliminated. The students themselves are unanimously enthusiastic concerning Student Government, and the history of the association since its establishment reveals an earnest and increasingly intelligent acceptance of responsibility on the part of the student body. From the beginning the ultimate success of the movement has been almost unquestioned, and the association is now as stable an institution, apparently, as the Academic Council or the Board of Trustees.
The most important of the associations which bring Wellesley students into touch with the outside world are the Christian Association and the College Settlements Association. These two, with the Consumers' League and the Equal Suffrage League—also flourishing organizations—help to foster the spirit of service which has characterized the college from its earliest days.
The Christian Association did not come into existence until 1884, but in the very first year of the college a Missionary Society was formed, which gave "Missionary concerts" on Sunday evenings in the chapel, and adopted as its college missionary, Gertrude Chandler (Wyckoff) of the class of 1879, who went out to the mission field in India in 1880. In the first decade also a Temperance Society was formed, and noted speakers on temperance visited the college. But in 1883, in order to unify the religious work, a Christian Association was proposed. The initiative seems to have come from the faculty, and this was natural, as the little group of teachers from the University of Michigan—President Freeman, Professor Chapin of the Department of Greek, Professor Coman of Economics, Professor Case of Philosophy, Professor Chandler of Mathematics,—had had a hand in developing the Young Women's Christian Association at Ann Arbor.
The first meeting of this Association was held in College Hall Chapel, October 8, 1884, and we read that it was formed "for the purpose of promoting Christian fellowship as a means of individual growth in character, and of securing, by the union of the various societies already existing, a more systematic arrangement of the work to be done in college by officers and students, for the cause of Christ."
Those who joined the association pledged themselves to declare their belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and to dedicate their lives to His service. They promised to abide by the laws of the association and seek its prosperity; ever to strive to live a life consistent with its character as a Christian Association, and, as far as in them lay, to engage in its activities; to cultivate a Christian fellowship with its members, and as opportunity offered, to endeavor to lead others to a Christian life. Wellesley is rightly proud of the Christian simplicity and inclusiveness of this pledge.
The work of the association included Bible study, devotional meetings, individual work, and the development of missionary interest. Three hundred and seventy signed as charter members, and Professor Stratton of the Department of Rhetoric was the first president. The students held most of the offices, but it was not until 1894 that a student president,—Cornelia Huntington of the class of 1895—was elected. Since then, this office has always been held by a student. From its inception the association received the greatest help and inspiration from Mrs. Durant, for many years the President of the Boston Young Women's Christian Association, which was one of the first of its kind.
Early in its career, the Wellesley Association adopted, besides its foreign missionary, a home missionary, and later a city missionary who worked in New York. An Indian committee was formed, and Thanksgiving entertainments were given at the Woman's Reformatory in Sherborn and the Dedham Asylum for released prisoners. In this prison work, the college always had the fullest help and sympathy of Mrs. Durant. The Wellesley Student Volunteer Band was organized May 26, 1890, and in 1915 there were known to be about one hundred Wellesley girls in the foreign field, and there were probably others of whom the college was uninformed. It is a noble and inspiring record.
In 1905, after the union of many of the Young Women's Christian Associations and the formation of the National Board, Wellesley was urged to affiliate herself with the National Association, but she was unwilling to narrow her own pledge, to meet the conditions of the National Board. She felt that she better served the cause of Christian Unity by admitting to her fellowship a wider range of Christians, so-called, than the National Board was at that time prepared to tolerate; and she was also more or less fearful of too much dictation. It was not until 1913, at the Fourth Biennial Convention of the Young Women's Christian Associations, held at Richmond, Virginia, that Wellesley was received into the National organization; and she came retaining her own pledge and her own constitution.
In the old days, the Christian Association was the stronghold of the dying Evangelicalism, and was looked on with distaste by many of the radical students; but of late years, its tone and its method have changed to meet the needs of the modern girl, and it has become a power throughout the college. The annual report for 1913-1914 shows a total membership of 1297. The association carries on Mission Study Classes; Bible Classes which the students teach, under the direction of volunteers from the faculty, in such subjects as "The Social Teachings of Jesus", "The Ideals of Israel's Leaders as Forces in Our Lives", "Christ in Everyday Life"; "General Aid" work, for girls who need to earn money in college. Its Social Committee is active among freshmen and new students. Of its special committees, the one on Conferences and Conventions plays an important part in quickening the interest in Silver Bay, and the one on "the College in Spain" presents the needs and claims of the International Institute for Girls at Madrid. Besides its regular meetings, the Christian Association now has charge of the Lenten services, and this effort to deepen the devotional life of the college has met with a swift response from the students. During 1913-1914, in Lent, the chapel was open every afternoon for meditation and prayer, and cards with selected prayers for each day were furnished to all who cared to use them. Unquestionably, Wellesley possesses no student organization more living and more life-giving than its Christian Association.
Four years after the foundation of the Christian Association, Wellesley had opened her heart and her mind to the College Settlement idea. The movement, as is well known, originated in the late '80's in America. At the same time that Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr were starting Hull House in Chicago, a group of Smith College alumnae, chief among whom were Vida D. Scudder, Clara French, Helen Rand (Thayer), and Jean Fine (Spahr), was pressing for the establishment of a house in the East. And the idea was understood and fostered by Wellesley about as soon as by Smith, for it was interpreted at Wellesley by Professor Scudder, who became a member of the college faculty, as instructor in English Literature, in the autumn of 1887. In 1889, the Courant printed an article on College Settlements, and students of the later '80's and early '90's will never forget the ardor and excitement of those days when Wellesley was bearing her part in starting what was to be one of the important movements for social service in the nineteenth century. All her early traditions and activities made the college swift to understand and welcome this new idea.
From the beginning, the social impulse has been inherent in Wellesley, and settlement work was native to her. Professor Whiting tells us that there used to be a shoe factory in Wellesley Village, about where the Eliot now stands; that the students became interested in the girl operatives, most of whom lived in South Natick, and that they started a factory girls' club which met every Saturday evening for years, and was led by college girls. In Charles River Village, also at that time a factory town, Mr. Durant held evangelistic services during one winter, and "teacher specials" used to help him, and to teach in the Sunday School.
In 1890-1891, probably because of the settlement impulse, work among the maids in the college was set going by the Christian Association. A maids' parlor was furnished under the old gymnasium, and classes for the maids were started.
In 1891, the Wellesley Chapter of the College Settlements Association was organized. It was Professor Katharine Lee Bates (Wellesley '80) who first suggested the plan for an intercollegiate organization, with chapters in the different colleges for women; and her friend Adaline Emerson (Thompson), a Wellesley graduate of the class of '80, was the first president of the association. Wellesley women have ever since taken a prominent part in the direction of the association's policy and in the active life of the settlement houses in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Wellesley has given presidents, secretaries, and many electors to the association itself, and head-workers and a continuous stream of efficient and devoted residents, not only to the four College Settlements, but to Social Settlement houses all over the country. The College Chapter keeps a special interest in the work of the Boston Settlement, Denison House; students give entertainments occasionally for the settlement neighbors, and help in many ways at Christmas time; but practical social service from undergraduates is not the ideal nor the desire of the College Settlements Association. It aims rather at the quickening of sympathy and intelligence on social questions, and the moral and financial support which the College Chapter can give its representatives out in the world. Such by-products of the settlement interest as the Social Study Circle, an informal group of undergraduates and teachers which met for several years to study social questions, are worth much more to the movement than the immature efforts of undergraduates in directing settlement clubs and classes.
Already the historic perspective is sufficiently clear for us to realize that the College Settlement Movement is the unique, and perhaps the most important organized contribution of the women's colleges to civilization during their first half century of existence. Through this movement, in which they have played so large a part, they have exerted an influence upon social thought and conscience exceeded, in this period, by few other agencies, religious, philanthropic or industrial, if we except the Trade-union Movement and Socialism, which emanate from the workers themselves. The prominent part which Wellesley has played in it will doubtless be increasingly understood and valued by her graduates.
Let it be frankly acknowledged: the ordinary adult is usually bored by the undergraduate periodical—even though he may, once upon a time, have edited it himself. The shades of the prison-house make a poor light for the Gothic print of adolescence. But the historian, if we may trust allegory, bears a torch. For him no chronicle, whether compiled by twelfth-century monk or twentieth-century collegian, can be too remote, too dull, to reflect the gleam. And some chronicles, like the Wellesley one, are more rewarding than others.
No one can turn over the pages of these fledgling journals, Courant, Prelude, Magazine, News, without being impressed by the unconscious clarity with which they reflect not merely the events in the college community—although they are unusually faithful and accurate recorders of events—but the college temper of mind, the range of ideas, the reaction to interests beyond the campus, the general trend of the intellectual and spiritual life.
The interest in social questions is to the fore astonishingly early. In Wellesley's first newspaper, the Courant, published in the college year 1888-1889, we find articles on the Working Girls of Boston, on the Single Tax, and notes of a prize essay on Child Labor. And throughout the decade of the '90's, the dominant note in the Prelude, 1889-1892, and its successor, the Wellesley Magazine, 1892-1911, is the social note. Reports of college events give prominent place to lectures on Woman Suffrage, Social Settlements, Christian Socialism. In 1893, William Clarke of the London Chronicle, a member of the Fabian Society, visiting America as a delegate to the Labor Congress in Chicago, gave lectures at Wellesley on "The Development of Socialism in England", "The Government of London", "The London Working Classes." Matthew Arnold's visit came too early to be recorded in the college paper, but he was perhaps the first of a notable list of distinguished Englishmen who have helped to quicken the interest of Wellesley students along social lines. Graham Wallas, Lowes-Dickinson, H. G. Wells, are a few of the names found in the pages of the Magazine and the News. The young editors evidently welcomed papers on social themes, such as "The Transition in the Industrial Status of Women, by Professor Coman"; and the great strikes of the decade, The Homestead Strike, the Pennsylvania Coal Strike, the New Bedford Strike, are written up as a matter of course. It is interesting to note that the paper on the Homestead Strike, with a plea for the unions, was written by an undergraduate, Mary K. Conyngton, who has since won for herself a reputation for research work in the Labor Bureau at Washington.
Political articles are only less prominent than social and industrial material. As early as 1893 we have an article on "The Triple Alliance" and in the Magazine of 1898 and 1899 there are papers on "The Colonial Expansion of the Great European Powers", "The Italian Riots of May, 1898", "The Philippine Question", "The Dreyfus Incident." This preoccupation of young college women of the nineteenth century with modern industrial and political history is significant when we consider the part that woman has elected to play in politics and reform since the beginning of the twentieth century.
In the first years of that new century, the Magazine and the weekly News begin to reflect the general revival of religious interest among young people. The Student Volunteer Movement, the increased activities in the Christian Associations for both men and women, find their response in Wellesley students. Letters from missionaries are given prominence; the conferences at Silver Bay are written up enthusiastically and at great length. Social questions never lapse, at Wellesley, but during the decade 1900 to 1910, the dominant journalistic note is increasingly religious. Later, with the activity of the Social Study Circle, an informal club for the study of social questions, and its offspring the small but earnest club for the study of Socialism, the social interests regained their vitality for the student mind.
Besides the extra mural problems, the periodicals record, of course, the events and the interests of the little college world. Through the "Free Press" columns of these papers, the didactic, critical, and combative impulses, always so strong in the undergraduate temperament, find a safe vent. Mentor and agitator alike are welcomed in the "Free Press", and many college reforms have been inaugurated, and many college grievances—real and imagined—have been aired in these outspoken columns. And not the least readable portions of the weeklies have been the "Waban Ripples" in the Prelude, and the "Parliament of Fools" in the News. For Wellesley has a merry wit and is especially good at laughing at herself,—yes, even at that "Academic" of which she is so loyally proud. Witness these naughty parodies of examination questions, which appeared in a "Parliament of Fools" just before the mid-year examinations of 1915.
Philosophy: "Translate the following into Kant, Spencer, Perry, Leibnitz, Hume, Calkins (not more than one page each allowed).
"'Little drops of water, little grains of sand, Make the mighty ocean, and a pleasant land.'
"The remainder of the time may be employed in translating into Kantian terminology, the title of the book: 'Myself and I.'"
English Literature: "Give dates and significance of the following; and state whether they are persons or books: Stratford-on-Avon, Magna Charta, Louvain, Onamataposa, Synod of Whitby, Bunker Hill, Transcendentalism, Mesopotamia, Albania, Hastings.
"Write an imaginary conversation between John Bunyan and Myrtle Reed on the Social significance of Beowulf.
"Do you consider that Browning and Carlyle were influenced by the Cubist School? Cite passages not discussed in class to support your view.
"Trace the effects of the Norman strain in England in the works of Tolstoi, Cervantes, and Tagore."
English Composition: "Write a novelette containing: (a) Plot; (b) two crises; (c) three climaxes; (d) one character.
"Write a biography of your own life, bringing out distinctly reasons pro and con. Outline form."
Biblical History: "Trace the life of Abraham from Genesis through Malachi.
"Quote the authentic passages of the New Testament. Why or why not?
"Where do the following words recur? Verily, greeting, begat, therefore, Pharisee, holy, notacceptedbythescholars."
Excellent fooling, this; and it should go far to convince a skeptical public that college girls take their educational advantages with sanity.
As literary magazines, these Wellesley periodicals are only sporadically successful. Now and again a true poet flashes through their pages; less often a true story-teller, although the mechanical excellence of most of the stories is unquestionable,—they go through the motions quite as if they were the real thing. But the appeals of the editors for poetry and literary prose; their occasional sardonic comments upon the apathy of the college reading public,—especially during the waning later years of the Magazine, before it was absorbed into the monthly issue of the News,—would seem to indicate that the pure, literary imagination is as rare at Wellesley as it is in the world at large. Yet there are shining pages in these chronicles, pages whose golden promise has been fulfilled.
In 1911, the Alumnae Association discussed the advisability of publishing an alumnae magazine, but it was decided that the time was not yet ripe for the new enterprise, and instead an agreement was entered into with the News, by which a certain number of pages each month were to be at the disposal of the alumnae editor, for articles and essays on college matters which should be of interest to the alumnae. The new department has been marked from the beginning by dignity and interest, and the papers contributed have been unusually valuable, especially from the point of view of college history.
In 1889 Wellesley's Senior Annual, the Legenda, came into being. In general it has followed the conventional lines of all college annuals, but occasionally it has departed from the beaten path, as in 1892, when it was transformed into a Wellesley Songbook; in 1894, when it printed a memorial sketch of Miss Shafer, and a biographical sketch of Mrs. Durant; in 1896, when it became a storybook of college life.
In October, 1912, The Wellesley College Press Board was organized by Mrs. Helene Buhlert Magee, of the class of 1903. The board is the outgrowth of an attempt by the college authorities, in 1911, to regulate the work of its budding journalists. Up to this time the newspapers had been supplied, more or less intermittently and often unsatisfactorily, with items of college news by students engaged by the newspapers and responsible only to them. The college now appoints an official reporter from its own faculty, who sends all Wellesley news to the newspapers and is consulted by the regular reporters when they desire special information. The Press Board, organized by this official reporter, consists of seven students reporting for Boston papers and two for those in New York. At the time of the Wellesley fire, this board proved itself particularly efficient in disseminating accurate information.
But it is not the workaday Wellesley, tranquilly pursuing her serious and semi-serious occupations, that the outsiders know best. To them, she is wont to turn her holiday face. And no college plays with more zest than Wellesley. Perhaps because no college ever had such a perfect playground. Every hill and grove and hollow of the beautiful campus holds its memories of playdays and midsummer nights.
Those were the nights when Rosalind and Orlando wandered out of Arden into a New England moonlight; when flitting Ariel forsook Prospero's isle to make his nest in Wellesley's bowering rhododendrons—in blossom time he is always hovering there, a winged bloom, for eyes that are not holden. Those were the nights when Puck came dancing up from Tupelo with Titania's fairy rout a-twinkle at his heels; when the great Hindu Raj floated from India in his canopied barge across the moonlit waters of Lake Waban; when Tristram and Iseult, on their way to the court of King Mark, all love distraught, cast anchor in the little cove below Stone Hall and played their passion out; when Nicolette kilted her skirts against the dew and argued of love with Aucassin. Those were the nights when the Countess Cathleen—loveliest of Yeats's Irish ladies—found Paradise and the Heavenly Host awaiting her on a Wellesley hilltop when she had sold her soul to feed her starving peasants.
But the glamour of the sun is as potent as the glamour of the moon at Wellesley. High noon is magical on Tree Day, for then the mythic folk of ancient Greece, the hamadryads and Dian's nymphs, Venus and Orpheus and Narcissus, and all the rest, come out and dream a dance of old days on the great green billows of the lawn. To see veiled Cupid, like a living flame, come streaming down among the hillside trees, down, swift as fire, to the waiting Psyche, is never to forget. No wood near Athens was ever so vision-haunted as Wellesley with the dancing spirits of past Tree Days.
On that day in early June the whole college turns itself into a pageant of spring. From the long hillside above which College Hall once towered, the faculty and the alumnae watch their younger sisters march in slow processional triumph around and about the wide green campus. Like a moving flower garden the procession winds upon itself; hundreds and hundreds of seniors and juniors and sophomores and freshmen,—more than fourteen hundred of them in 1914. Then it breaks ranks and plants itself in parterres at the foot of the hill, masses of blue, and rose, and lavender, and golden blossoming girls. Contrary Mistress Mary's garden was nothing to it. And after the procession come the dances. Sometimes a Breton Pardon wanders across the sea. The gods from Olympus are very much at home in these groves of academe. Once King Arthur's knight came riding up the wide avenue at the edge of the green. The spirits of sun and moon, the nymphs of the wind and the rain, have woven their mystical spells on that great greensward. And in the fairy ring around Longfellow fountain, gnomes and fays and freshmen play hide-and-seek with the water nixies.
The first Tree Day was Mr. Durant's idea; no one was more awake than he, in the old days, to Wellesley's poetic possibilities. And the first trees were gifts from Mr. Hunnewell; two beautiful exotics, Japanese golden evergreens—one for 1879 and one for 1880. The two trees were planted on May 16, 1877, the sophomore tree by the library, the freshman tree by the dining room. An early chronicler writes, "Then it was that the venerated spade made its first appearance. We had confidently expected a trowel, had written indeed 'Apostrophe to the Trowel' on our programs, and our apostrophist (do not see the dictionary), a girl of about the same height as the spade, but by no means, as she modestly suggested, of the same mental capacity, was so stricken with astonishment when she had mounted the rostrum and this burly instrument was propped up before her, that she nearly forgot her speech.... And then it was there was introduced the more questionable practice of planting class trees too delicate to bear the college course. Although a foolish little bird built her nest and laid her eggs in the golden-leaved evergreen of '79, and although a much handsomer nest with a very much larger egg appeared immediately in the Retinospora Precipera Aurea of '80, yet the rival 'nymphs with golden hair' were both soon forced to forsake their withered tenements; Mr. Hunnewell's exotics, after another trial or two, being succeeded by plebeian hemlocks."
The true story of the Wellesley spade and how it came to be handed down from class to class, is recorded in Florence Morse Kingsley's diary, where we learn how the "burly instrument" of 1877 was succeeded by a less unwieldy and more ladylike utensil. Under the date, April 3, 1878, we find:
Our class (the class of '81) had a meeting last night. We held it in one of the laboratories on the fifth floor, quite in secret, for we didn't want the '80 girls to find it out. The class of '80 is thought to be extraordinarily brilliant, and they certainly do look down on us freshmen in haughty disdain as being correspondingly stupid. I don't say very much against them, since I—— is an '80 girl: besides, if I work hard I can graduate with '80, but at present my lot is cast with '81. We have decided to have a tree planting, and it is to be entirely original and the first of a series. Mr. Durant has given a Japanese Golden Evergreen to '79 and one to '80. They are precisely alike and they had been planted for quite a while before he thought of turning them into class trees. We heard a dark rumor yesterday to the effect that Mr. Durant is intending to plant another evergreen under the library window and present it to us. But we voted to forestall his generosity. We mean to have an elm, and we want to plant it out in front of the college, in the center or just on the other side of the driveway. The burning question remained as to who should acquaint Mr. Durant with our valuable ideas. Nobody seemed ravenously eager for the job, and finally I was nominated. "You know him better than we do," they all said, so I finally consented. I haven't a ghost of an idea what to say; for when one comes to think of it, it is rather ungrateful of '81 not to want the evergreen under the library window.
April 10. Alice and I went to Mr. Durant to-day about the tree planting; but Alice was stricken with temporary dumbness and never opened her lips, though she had solemnly promised to do at least half the talking; so I had to wade right into the subject alone. I began in medias res, for I couldn't think of a really graceful and diplomatic introduction on the spur of the moment. Mr. Durant was in the office with a pile of papers before him as usual; he appeared to be very preoccupied and he was looking rather severe. The interview proceeded about as follows:
He glanced up at us sharply and said, "Well, young ladies," which meant, "Kindly get down to business; my time is valuable." I got down to it about as gracefully as a cat coming down a tree, like this: "We have decided to have a regular tree-planting, Mr. Durant." Of course I should have said, "The class of '81 would like to have a tree-planting, if you please."
Mr. Durant appeared somewhat startled: "Eh, what's that?" he said, then he settled back in his chair and looked hard at us. His eyes were as keen as frost; but they twinkled—just a little, as I have discovered they can and do twinkle if one isn't afraid to say right out what one means, without unnecessary fuss and twaddle.
"Alice and I are delegates from the Class of '81," I explained, a trifle more lucidly. "The class has voted to plant an elm for our class tree, and we would like to plant it in front of the college in a prominent spot." We had previously decided gracefully to ignore the evergreen rumor.
Mr. Durant looked thoughtful. "Hum," he said, "I'd planned to give you girls of '81 a choice evergreen, and as for a place for it: what do you say to the plot on the north side, just under the library window?"
I looked beseechingly at Alice. She was apparently very much occupied in a meek survey of the toes of her boots, which she had stubbed into premature old age scrambling up and down from the boat landings.
Meanwhile Mr. Durant was waiting for our look of pleased surprise and joyful acquiescence. Then, without a vestige of diplomacy, I blurted right out, "Yes, Mr. Durant; we heard so; but we don't think, that is, we don't want an evergreen under the library window; we would like a tree that will live a long, long time and grow big like an elm, and we want it where everybody will see it."
Mr. Durant looked exceedingly surprised, and for the space of five seconds I was breathless. Then he smiled in the really fascinating way that he has. "Well," he said, and looked at me again, "what else have you decided to do?"
Then I told him all about the program we had planned, which is to include an address to the spade (which we hope will be preserved forever and ever), a class song, a procession, and a few other inchoate ideas. Mr. Durant entered right into the spirit of it, he said he liked the idea of a spade to be handed down from class to class. He asked us if we had the spade yet, and I told him "no," but Alice and I were going to buy it for the class in the village that afternoon.
"Well, mind you get a good one," he advised. We said we would, very joyfully. Then he told us we might select any young elm we wanted, and tie our class colors on it, and he would order it to be transplanted for us. After that he put on his hat and all three of us went out and fixed the spot right in front of the college by the driveway. Mr. Durant himself stuck a little stick in the exact place where the elm of '81 will wave its branches for at least a hundred years, I hope.
The hundred years are still to run, and old College Hall has vanished, but the '81 elm stands in its "prominent" place, a tree of ancient memories and visions ever young.
It was not until 1889 that the pageant element began to take a definite and conspicuous place in the Tree Day exercises. The class of '89 in its senior year gave a masque in which tall dryads, robed in green, played their dainty roles; and that same year the freshmen, the class of 1892, gave the first Tree Day dance: a very mild dance of pink and white English maidens around a maypole—but the germ of all the Tree Day dances yet unborn. In its senior year, 1892 celebrated the discovery of America by a sort of kermess of Colonial and Indian dances with tableaux, and ever since, from year to year, the wonder has grown; Zeus, and Venus, and King Arthur have all held court and revel on the Wellesley Campus. Every year the long procession across the green grows longer, more beautiful, more elaborate; the dancing is more exquisitely planned, more complex, more carefully rehearsed. In the spring, Wellesley girls are twirling a-tiptoe in every moment not spent in class; and in class their thoughts sometimes dance. Indeed, the students of late years have begun to ask themselves if it may not be possible to obtain quite as beautiful a result with less expense of effort and time and money; for Tree Day, the crowning delight of the year, would defeat its own end, which is pure recreation, if its beauty became a tyrant.
This multiplication of joys—and their attendant worries—is something that Wellesley has to take measures to guard against, and the faculty has worked out a scheme of biennial rotatory festivities which since 1911-1912 has eased the pressure of revelry in May and June, as well as throughout the winter months.