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not utterly deceived by our position, our students naturally and readily find their work in the world, because they have been trained in sympathy with the world.
These are among the advantages of the system which have forced themselves upon our attention. The list might be extended and expanded; but you will wish especially to know whether we have not encountered disadvantages and difficulties which more than counterbalance these advantages, and you will properly require me to speak with all frankness upon those difficulties which are commonly apprehended.
1. Have young ladies the ability in mental vigor and bodily health to maintain a fair standing in a class with young men? Do they not operate as a check upon the progress of the class, and degrade the standard of scholarship! and do they not break down in health under a pressure which young men can sustain ?
To this inquiry I answer, where there has been the same preparatory training, we find no difference in ability to maintain themselves in the recitation room. Under the circumstances, I shall be excused for referring to my own individual experience, which has been somewhat varied. The first eight years of my work as a teacher was in the department of the Ancient Languages-Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; the next eleven, in Mathematics, abstract and applied; the last eight, in Philosophical and Ethical studies. In all these studies my classes have included young women as well as young men, and I have never observed any difference between them in performance in the recitation. The strong and the weak scholars are equally distributed between the sexes.
In this statement I do not imply that I see no difference between the normal male and female mind as to taste for particular studies. I have no doubt of the existence of such differences; but they do not appear in the ability as pupils to comprehend and express the truth. A few days since, on a visit to the University of Michigan, I . I attended a recitation in Thucydides. So far as could be judged from a single exercise, in which there were many excellent performances, the daughter of the Professor of Greek, the only young lady under the wing of the University, led the class. But it did not strike me as an anomaly; I had often seen such things.
Nor is there any manifest inability on the part of young women to endure the required labor. A breaking down in health does not appear to be more frequent than with young men. We have not observed a more frequent interruption of study on this account; nor do our statistics show a greater draft upon the vital forces in the case of those who have completed the full college course. Out of eighty-four young ladies who have graduated since 1841, seven have died--a proportion of one in twelve. Of three hundred and sixty-eight young men who have graduated since that date, thirtyfour are dead, or a little more than one in eleven. Of these thirtyfour young men, six fell in the war; and leaving those out, the proportion of deaths still remains one to thirteen. Taking the whole number of gentlemen graduates, omitting the Theological Department, we find the proportion of deaths one to nine and a half; of ladies, one to twelve: and this in spite of the lower average expectation of life for women, as indicated in life insurance tables. The field is, of course, too narrow for perfectly conclusive results; but there is no occasion for special apprehension of failure of health to ladies from study.
2. But it is held by many that ladies need a course of study adapted to their nature and their prospective work, and that it must be undesirable to bring them under the same training with young men. The theory of our school has never been that men and women are alike in mental constitution, or that they naturally and properly occupy the same position in the work of life. The education furnished is general, not professional, designed to fit men and women for any position or work to which they may properly be called. Even in the full college curriculum it does not appear that there is any study that would not be helpful in the discipline and furniture of an educated lady. But only a small proportion of young ladies seeking an education will naturally require the full college course. It is not difficult to frame a suitable course parallel with the college course, made up substantially of studies selected from it, and diversified by the addition of the accomplishments supposed to be peculiarly adapted to female culture. Almost every Western college has a scientific course, involving these substantial elements. The best schools in the land for the education of ladies alone have the same course. We do not find that any peculiar style of teaching is required to adapt these studies to female culture. The womanly nature will appropriate the material to its own necessities under its own laws. Young men and women sit at the same table and partake of the same food, and we have no apprehension that the vital forces will fail to elaborate from the common material the osseous and fibrous and nervous tissues adapted to each frame and constitution. Except under pressure of great external violence, the female nature asserts itself by virtue of its own inherent laws. No education can make alike those whom God has made as unlike as men and women.
3. Yet apprehension is felt and expressed that character will deteriorate on one side or on the other; that young men will become frivolous or effeminate, and young women coarse and masculine. The more prevalent opinion seems to be that, while the arrangement may
be desirable in its effect on young men, it will be damaging to young women. That young men should become trifling or effeminate, lose their manly attributes and character, front proper association with cultivated young women, is antecedently improbable, and false in fact. It is the natural atmosphere for the development of the higher qualities of manhood-magnanimity, generosity, true chivalry, earnestness. The animal man is kept subordinate, in the prevalence of these higher qualities. We have found it the surest way to make men of boys, and gentlemen of rowdies. It must be a very poor specimen of masculine human nature that is not helped by the association, and a very poor specimen of a woman that does not prove a helper. In my judgment, as the result of experience, the chances are better even for the poor specimen.
But, on the other hand, are not womanly delicacy and refinement of character endangered? Will not the young woman, pursuing her studies with young men, take on their manners and aspirations and aims, and be turned aside from the true ideal of womanly life and character? The thing is scarcely conceivable. The natural response of woman to the exhibition of manly traits is in the correlative qualities of gentleness, delicacy, and grace. It might better be questioned whether the finer shadings of female character can be developed without this natural stimulus. If you would transform a woman into an Amazon or virago, take her apart from wellconstituted society, and train her in isolation to a disgust for men, and a rough self-reliance. You will probably fail even thus in your endeavor; but it is the only chance of success.
But it is my duty not to reason, but to speak from the limited historical view assigned me.
You would know whether the result with us has been a large accession to the numbers of coarse, “strongminded' women, in the offensive sense of the word; and I say, without hesitation, that I do not know of a single instance of such a product as the result of our system of education. It is true that in our Triennial' are found the names of three somewhat distinguished lady lecturers, who are some times referred to as belonging to this class. They pursued their studies at Oberlin from four to five years in each case. But, whatever their present position and character may be, I have personal knowledge of the fact that they
came to us very mature in thought, with their views of life settled and their own plans and purposes determined and announced. Whatever help in their chosen life they derived from the advantages afforded them, they have never given us any credit for their more advanced views of woman's rights and duties. While avowing a radical dissent from those views, I can not forbear to say that I am happy to number these ladies among my friends, and to express my admiration of much that is noble and womanly in their character, and of their earnest but mistaken philanthropy.
To show that our system of education does not bewilder woman with a vain ambition, or tend to turn her aside from the work which God has impressed upon her entire constitution, I may state that of the eighty-four ladies that have taken the college course, twentyseven only are unmarried. Of these twenty-seven, four died early, and of the remaining twenty-three, twenty are graduates of less than six years' standing. The statistics of the graduates of the Ladies' Course would give essentially the same result. There may be an apparent indelicacy, perhaps, in parading such private, domestic facts; but the importance of the question upon which they bear will vindicate the propriety.
4. But this view does not touch the exact point of the difficulty. It is in general admitted that the association of young men and women, under proper conditions, is elevating instead of degrading, but there is doubt whether bringing them together in a school provides for these proper associations. The wholesome association of the young requires the presence and influence of those who are mature and have experience and a sense of responsibility,—inore of the family influence than can be secured in a large school. Is there not danger that young men and young women thus brought together in the critical period of life, when the distinctive social tendencies which draw the sexes toward each other seem to act with greatest intensity, will fail of that necessary regulative force and fall into undesirable and unprofitable relations? Will not such associations result in weak and foolish love affairs, and in such habits of communication and social life as lead to these and grow out of them.
It is not strange that such apprehensions are felt, nor would it be easy to give an à priori answer to such difficulties; but, if we may judge from our experience, the difficulties are without foundation. I have no hesitation in expressing the conviction that in the associations of our young people there is as little of this undesirable element as is found in any general society. The danger in this direction results from excited imagination,- from the glowing exaggerations of youthful fancy; and the best remedy is to displace these fancies by every-day facts and realities. The young man shut out from the society of ladies, with the help of the high-wrought representations of life which poets and novelists afford, with only a distant vision of the reality, is the one who is in danger. The women whom he sees are glorified by his fancy, and are wrought into his day-dreams and night-dreams as beings of supernatural loveliness. It would be different if he met them day by day in the recitation-room, in a common encounter with an algebraic problem, or at the table sharing in the common want of bread and butter. There is still room for the fancy to work, but the materials for the picture are more reliable and enduring. Such association does not take all the romance out of life, but it gives as favorable conditions for sensible views and actions upon these delicate questions as can be afforded to human nature.
There is another danger to which the young man is exposed greater even than this of a too high-colored ideal of female character. It is too low an estimate, springing from his own sensual tendencies, and darkened by a dash of misanthropy which is one of the most common experiences of the young. Such an ideal degrades the one who indulges it, and mars his whole conception of life. No greater misfortune can befall a young man than to admit to his heart such a misconception. It can spring up only in an isolated life, apart from the society of the pure and the good. It is good for a young man to face the facts, and let his dreams go, whether bright or dark. In the presence of these facts, he will conceive and maintain a genuine respect for women as worthy of his confidence and regard, which will save him from amorous follies on the one side, and from a degrading misanthropy on the other. There may be, bere and there, displays of these weaknesses of youth; and where are there not ? Among hundreds of the young, such weak ones must be found; but if there is any more potent corrective than the public sentiment of such a company of young people of ordinary good sense, I have not been able to find it.
Of course there is room for the wisdom which comes from experience in regulating the associations of such a school. The danger seems to be in both extremes, of too great strictness and restraint and too great laxity, as in all forms of school discipline. Those who have observed the pressure against restrictions, where there is an attempt to prohibit intercourse, sometimes imagine that any letting-up would prove fatal to all order and propriety. They would