Read CHAPTER X of Maria Mitchell: Life‚ Letters‚ and Journals, free online book, by Maria Mitchell, on



In 1873, Miss Mitchell spent the summer in Europe, and availed herself of this opportunity to visit the government observatory at Pulkova, in Russia.

“Eydkuhnen, Wednesday, July 30, 1873. Certainly, I never in my life expected to spend twenty-four hours in this small town, the frontier town of Prussia. Here I remembered that our little bags would be examined, and I asked the guard about it, but he said we need not trouble ourselves; we should not be examined until we reached the first Russian town of Wiersbelow. So, after a mile more of travel, we came to Wiersbelow. Knowing that we should keep our little compartment until we got to St. Petersburg, we had scattered our luggage about; gloves were in one place, veil in another, shawl in another, parasol in another, and books all around.

“The train stopped. Imagine our consternation! Two officials entered the carriage, tall Russians in full uniform, and seized everythingshawls, books, gloves, bags; and then, looking around very carefully, espied W’s poor little ragged handkerchief, and seized that, too, as a contraband article! We looked at one another, and said nothing. The tall Russian said something to us; we looked at each other and sat still. The tall Russians looked at one another, and there was almost an official smile between them.

“Then one turned to me, and said, very distinctly, ‘Passy-port.’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘the passports are all right; where are they?’ and we produced from our pockets the passports prepared at Washington, with the official seal, and we delivered them with a sort of air as if we had said, ‘You’ll find that they do things all right at Washington.’

“The tall Russians got out, and I was about to breathe freely, when they returned, and said something elsenot a word did I understand; they exchanged a look of amusement, and W. and I, one of amazement; then one of them made signs to us to get out. The sign was unmistakable, and we got out, and followed them into an immense room, where were tables all around covered with luggage, and about a hundred travellers standing by; and our books, shawls, gloves, etc., were thrown in a heap upon one of these tables, and we awoke to the disagreeable consciousness that we were in a custom-house, and only two out of a hundred travellers, and that we did not understand one word of Russian.

“But, of course, it could be only a few minutes of delay, and if German and French failed, there is always left the language of signs, and all would be right.

“After, perhaps, half an hour, two or three officials approached us, and, holding the passports, began to talk to us. How did they know that those two passports belonged to us? Out of two hundred persons, how could they at once see that the woman whose age was given at more than half a century, and the lad whose age was given at less than a score of years, were the two fatigued and weary travellers who stood guarding a small heap of gloves, books, handkerchiefs, and shawls? Two of the officials held up the passports to us, pointed to the blank page, shook their heads ominously; the third took the passports, put them into his vest pocket, buttoned up his coat, and motioned to us to follow him.

“We followed; he opened the door of an ordinary carriage, waved his hand for us to get in, jumped in himself, and we found we were started back. We could not cross the line between Germany and Russia.

“We meekly asked where we were to go, and were relieved when we found that we went back only to the nearest town, but that the passports must be sent to Konigsberg, sixty miles away, to be endorsed by the Russian ambassadorit might take some days. W. was very much inclined to refuse to go back and to attempt a war of words, but it did not seem wise to me to undertake a war against the Russian government; I know our country does not lightly go into an ‘unpleasantness’ of that kind....

“So we went back to Eydkuhnen,a little miserable German village. We took rooms at the only hotel, and there we stayed twenty-four hours. Before the end of that time, we had visited every shop in the village, and aired our German to most of our fellow-travellers whom we met at the hotel.

“The landlord took our part, and declared it was hard enough on simple travellers like ourselves to be stopped in such a way, and that Russia was the only country in Europe which was rigid in that respect. Happily, our passports were back in twenty-four hours, and we started again; our trunks had been registered for St. Petersburg, and to St. Petersburg they had gone, ahead of us; and of the small heap of things thrown down promiscuously at the custom-house, the whole had not come back to usit was not very important. I learned how to wear one glove instead of two, or to go without.

“We had the ordeal of the custom-house to pass again; but once passed, and told that we were free to go on, it was like going into a clear atmosphere from a fog. We crossed the custom-house threshold into another room, and we found ourselves in Russia, and in an excellent, well-furnished, and cheery restaurant. We lost the German smoke and the German beer; we found hot coffee and clean table-cloths.

“We did not return to our dusty, red-velvet palace, but we entered a clean, comfortable compartment, with easy sofas, for the night. We started again for St. Petersburg; we were now four days from London. I will omit the details of a break-down that night, and another change of cars. We had some sleep, and awoke in the morning to enjoy Russia.

“And, first, of Russian railroads. When the railroads of Russia were planned, the Emperor Nicholas allowed a large sum of money for the building. The engineer showed him his plan. The road wound by slight curves from one town to another. This did not suit the emperor at all. He took his ruler, put it down upon the table, and said: ’I choose to have my roads run so.’ Of course the engineer assentedhe had his large fund granted; a straight road was much cheaper to build than a curved one. As a consequence, he built and furnished an excellent road.

“At every ‘verst,’ which is not quite a mile, a small house is placed at the roadside, on which, in very large figures, the number of versts from St. Petersburg is told. The train runs very smoothly and very slowly; twenty miles an hour is about the rate. Of course the journey seemed long. For a large part of the way it was an uninhabited, level plain; so green, however, that it seemed like travelling on prairies. Occasionally we passed a dreary little village of small huts, and as we neared St. Petersburg we passed larger and better built towns, which the dome of some cathedral lighted up for miles.

“The road was enlivened, too, by another peculiarity. The restaurants were all adorned by flags of all colors, and festooned by vines. At one place the green arches ran across the road, and we passed under a bower of evergreens. I accepted this, at first, as a Russian peculiarity, and was surprised that so much attention was paid to travellers; but I learned that it was not for us at all. The Duke of Edinboro’ had passed over the road a few days before, on his way to St. Petersburg, for his betrothal to the only daughter of the czar, and the decorations were for him; and so we felt that we were of the party, although we had not been asked.

“We approached St. Petersburg just at night, and caught the play of the sunlight on the domes. It is a city of domesblue domes, green domes, white domes, and, above all, the golden dome of the Cathedral of St. Isaac’s.

“It is almost never a single dome. St. Isaac’s central, gilded dome looms up above its fellow domes, but four smaller ones surround it.

“It was summer; the temperature was delightful, about like our October. The showers were frequent, there was no dust and no sultry air.

“There must be a great deal of nice mechanical work required in St. Petersburg, for on the Nevsky Perspective, the principal street, there were a great many shops in which graduating and measuring instruments of very nice workmanship were for sale. Especially I noticed the excellence of the thermometers, and I naturally stopped to read them. Figures are a common language, but it was clear that I was in another planet; I could not read the thermometers! I judged that the weather was warm enough for the thermometer to be at 68. I read, say, 16. And then I remembered that the Russians do not put their freezing point at 32, as we do, and I was obliged to go through a troublesome calculation before I could tell how warm it was.

“But I came to a still stranger experience. I dated my letters August 3, and went to my banker’s, before I sealed them, to see if there were letters for me. The banker’s little calendar was hanging by his desk, and the day of the month was on exhibition, in large figures. I read, July 22! This was distressing! Was I like Alice in Wonderland? Did time go backward? Surely, I had dated August 3. Could I be in error twelve days? And then I perceived that twelve days was just the difference of old and new calendars.

“How many times I had taught students that the Russians still counted their time by the ‘old style,’ but had never learned it myself! And so I was obliged to teach myself new lessons in science. The earth turns on its axis just the same in Russia as in Boston, but you don’t get out of the sunlight at the Boston sunset hour.

“When the thermometer stands at 32 in St. Petersburg, it does not freeze as it does in Boston. On the contrary, it is very warm in St. Petersburg, for it means what 104 does in Boston. And if you leave London on the 22d of July, and are five days on the way to St. Petersburg, a week after you get there it is still the 22d of July! And we complain that the day is too short!

“Another peculiarity. We strolled over the city all day; we came back to our hotel tired; we took our tea; we talked over the day; we wrote to our friends; we planned for the next day; we were ready to retire. We walked to the windowthe sun was striking on all the chimney tops. It doesn’t seem to be right even for the lark to go to sleep while the sun shines. We looked at our watches; but the watches said nine o’clock, and we went off to our beds in daytime; and we awoke after the first nap to perceive that the sun still shone into the room.

“Like all careful aunts, I was unwilling that my nephew should be out alone at night. He was desirous of doing the right thing, but urged that at home, as a little boy, he was always allowed to be out until dark, and he asked if he could stay out until dark! Alas for the poor lad! There was no dark at all! I could not consent for him to be out all night, and the twilight was not over. You may read and read that the summer day at St. Petersburg is twenty hours long, but until you see that the sun scarcely sets, you cannot take it in.

“I wondered whether the laboring man worked eight or ten hours under my window; it seemed to me that he was sawing wood the whole twenty-four!

“W. came in one night after a stroll, and described a beautiful square which he had come upon accidentally. I listened with great interest, and said, ’I must go there in the morning; what is the name of it?’’I don’t know,’ he replied.’Why didn’t you read the sign?’ I asked.’I can’t read,’ was the reply.’Oh, no; but why didn’t you ask some one?’’I can’t speak,’ he answered. Neither reading nor speaking, we had to learn St. Petersburg by our observation, and it is the best way. Most travellers read too much.

“There are learned institutions in St. Petersburg: universities, libraries, picture-galleries, and museums; but the first institution with which I became acquainted was the drosky. The drosky is a very, very small phaeton. It has the driver’s seat in front, and a very narrow seat behind him. One person can have room enough on this second seat, but it usually carries two. Invariably the drosky is lined with dark-blue cloth, and the drosky-driver wears a dark-blue wrapper, coming to the feet, girded around the waist by a crimson sash. He also wears a bell-shaped hat, turned up at the side. You are a little in doubt, if you see him at first separated from his drosky, whether he is a market-woman or a serving-man, the dress being very much like a morning wrapper. But he is rarely six feet away from his carriage, and usually he is upon it, sound asleep!

“The trunks having gone to St. Petersburg in advance of ourselves, our first duty was to get possession of them. They were at the custom-house, across the city. My nephew and I jumped upon a droskywe could not say that we were really in the drosky, for the seat was too short. The drosky-driver started off his horse over the cobble-stones at a terrible rate. I could not keep my seat, and I clung to W. He shouted, ’Don’t hold by me; I shall be out the next minute!’ What could be done? I was sure I shouldn’t stay on half a minute. Blessings on the red sash of the drosky-manI caught at that! He drove faster and faster, and I clung tighter and tighter, but alarmed at two immense dangers: first, that I should stop his breath by dragging the girdle so tightly; and, next, that when it became unendurable to him, he would loosen it in front.

“I could not perceive that he was aware of my existence at all! He had only one object in life,to carry us across the city to our place of destination, and to get his copecks in return.

“In a few days I learned to like the jolly vehicles very much. They are so numerous that you may pick one up on any street, whenever you are tired of walking.

“My principal object in visiting St. Petersburg was the astronomical observatory at Pulkova, some twelve miles distant.

“I had letters to the director, Otto von Struve, but our consul declared that I must also have one from him, for Struve was a very great man. I, of course, accepted it.

“We made the journey by rail and coach, but it would be better to drive the whole way.

“Most observatories are temples of silence, and quiet reigns. As we drove into the grounds at Pulkova, a small crowd of children of all ages, and servants of all degrees, came out to meet us. They did not come out to do us honor, but to gaze at us. I could not understand it until I learned that the director of the observatory has a large number of aids, and they, with all their families, live in large houses, connected with the central building by covered ways.

“All about the grounds, too, were small observatories,little temples,in which young men were practising for observations on the transit of Venus. These little buildings, I afterwards learned, were to be taken down and transported, instruments and all, to the coast of Asia.

“The director of the observatory is Otto Struvehis father, Wilhelm Struve, preceded him in this office. Properly, the director is Herr Von Struve; but the old Russian custom is still in use, and the servants call him Wilhelm-vitch; that is, ‘the son of William.’

“When I bought a photograph of the present emperor, Alexander, I saw that he was called Nicholas-vitch.

“Herr Struve received us courteously, and an assistant was called to show us the instruments. All observatories are much alike; therefore I will not describe this, except in its peculiarities. One of these was the presence of small, light, portable rooms, i.e., baseless boxes, which rolled over the instruments to protect them; two sides were of wood, and two sides of green silk curtains, which could, of course, be turned aside when the boxes, or little rooms, were rolled over the apparatus. Being covered in this way, the heavy shutters can be left open for weeks at a time.

“Everything was on a large scalethe rooms were immense.

“The director has three assistants who are called ‘elder astronomers,’ and two who are called ‘adjunct astronomers.’ Each of these has a servant devoted to him. I asked one of the elder astronomers if he had rooms in the observatory, and he answered, ’Yes, my rooms are 94 ft. by 50.’

“They seem to be amused at the size of their lodgings, for Mr. Struve, when he told me of his apartments, gave me at once the dimensions,200 ft. by 100 ft.

“The room in which we dined with the family of Herr Struve was immense. I spoke of it, and he said, ’We cannot open our windows in the winter,the winters are so severe,and so we must have good air without it.’ Their drawing-room was also very large; the chairs (innumerable, it seemed to me) stood stiffly around the walls of the room. The floor was painted and highly varnished, and flower-pots were at the numerous windows on little stands. It was scrupulously neat everywhere.

“There was very little ceremony at dinner; we had the delicious wild strawberries of the country in great profusion; and the talk, the best part of the dinner, was in German, Russian, and English.

“Madame Struve spoke German, Russian, and French, and complained that she could not speak English. She said that she had spent three weeks with an English lady, and that she must be very stupid not to speak English.

“I noticed that in one of the rooms, which was not so very immense, there was a circular table, a small centre-carpet, and chairs around the table; I have been told that ‘in society’ in Russia, the ladies sit in a circle, and the gentlemen walk around and talk consecutively with the ladies,kindly giving to each a share of their attention.

“They assured me that the winters were charming, the sleighing constant, and the social gatherings cheery; but think of four hours, only, of daylight in the depth of the winter. Their dread was the spring and the autumn, when the mud is deep.

“Everything in the observatory which could be was built of wood. They have the fir, which is very indestructible; it is supposed to show no mark of change in two hundred years.

“Wood is so susceptible of ornamentation that the pretty villages of Russiaand there are some that look like New England villagesstruck us very pleasantly, after the stone and brick villages of England.

“I try, when I am abroad, to see in what they are superior to us,not in what they are inferior.

“Our great idea is, of course, freedom and self-government; probably in that we are ahead of the rest of the world, although we are certainly not so much in advance as we suppose; but we are sufficiently inflated with our own greatness to let that subject take care of itself when we travel. We travel to learn; and I have never been in any country where they did not do something better than we do it, think some thoughts better than we think, catch some inspiration from heights above our ownas in the art of Italy, the learning of England, and the philosophy of Germany.

“Let us take the scientific position of Russia. When, half a century ago, John Quincy Adams proposed the establishment of an astronomical observatory, at a cost of $100,000, it was ridiculed by the newspapers, considered Utopian, and dismissed from the public mind. When our government, a few years since, voted an appropriation of $50,000 for a telescope for the National Observatory, it was considered magnificent. Yet, a quarter of a century since (1838), Russia founded an astronomical observatory. The government spent $200,000 on instruments, $1,500,000 on buildings, and annually appropriated $38,000 for salaries of observers. I naturally thought that a million and a half dollars, and Oriental ideas, combined, would make the observatory a showy place; I expected that the observatory would be surmounted by a gilded dome, and that ‘pearly gates’ would open as I approached. There is not even a dome!

“The central observation-room is a cylinder, and its doors swing back on hinges. Wherever it is possible, wood is used, instead of stone or brick. I could not detect, in the whole structure, anything like carving, gilding, or painting, for mere show. It was all for science; and its ornamentations were adapted to its uses, and came at their demand.

“In our country, the man of science leads an isolated life. If he has capabilities of administration, our government does not yet believe in them.

“The director of the observatory at Pulkova has the military rank of general, and he is privy councillor to the czar. Every subordinate has also his military positionhe is a soldier.

“What would you think of it, if the director of any observatory were one of the President’s cabinet at Washington, in virtue of his position? Struve’s position is that of a member of the President’s cabinet.

“Here is another difference: Ours is a democratic country. We recognize no caste; we are born ‘free and equal.’ We honor labor; work is ennobling. These expressions we are all accustomed to use. Do we live up to them? Many a rich man, many a man in fine social position, has married a school-teacher; but I never heard it spoken of as a source of pride in the alliance until I went to despotic Russia. Struve told me, as he would have told of any other honor which had been his, that his wife, as a girl, had taught school in St. Petersburg. And then Madame Struve joined in the conversation, and told me how much the subject of woman’s education still held her interest.

“St. Petersburg is about the size of Philadelphia. Struve said, ’There are thousands of women studying science in St. Petersburg.’ How many thousand women do you suppose are studying science in the whole State of New York? I doubt if there are five hundred.

“Then again, as to language. It is rare, even among the common people, to meet one who speaks one language only. If you can speak no Russian, try your poor French, your poor German, or your good English. You may be sure that the shopkeeper will answer in one or another, and even the drosky-driver picks up a little of some one of them.

“Of late, the Russian government has founded a medical school for women, giving them advantages which are given to men, and the same rank when they graduate; the czar himself contributed largely to the fund.

“One wonders, in a country so rich as ours, that so few men and women gratify their tastes by founding scholarships and aids for the tuition of girlsit must be such a pleasant way of spending money.

“Then as regards religion. I am never in a country where the Catholic or Greek church is dominant, but I see with admiration the zeal of its followers. I may pity their delusions, but I must admire their devotion. If you look around in one of our churches upon the congregation, five-sixths are women, and in some towns nineteen-twentieths; and if you form a judgment from that fact, you would suppose that religion was entirely a ‘woman’s right.’ In a Catholic church or Greek church, the men are not only as numerous as the women, but they are as intense in their worship. Well-dressed men, with good heads, will prostrate themselves before the image of the Holy Virgin as many times, and as devoutly, as the beggar-woman.

“I think I saw a Russian gentleman at St. Isaac’s touch his forehead to the floor, rise and stand erect, touch the floor again, and rise again, ten times in as many minutes; and we were one day forbidden entrance to a church because the czar was about to say his prayers; we found he was making the pilgrimage of some seventy churches, and praying in each one.

“Christians who believe in public prayer, and who claim that we should be instant in prayer, would consider it a severe tax upon their energies to pray seventy times a daythey don’t care to do it!

“Then there is the democracy of the church. There are no pews to be sold to the highest bidderno ‘reserved seats;’ the oneness and equality before God are always recognized. A Russian gentleman, as he prays, does not look around, and move away from the poor beggar next to him. At St. Peter’s the crowd stands or kneelsat St. Isaac’s they stand; and they stand literally on the same plane.

“I noticed in the crowd at St. Isaac’s, one festival day, young girls who were having a friendly chat; but their religion was ever in their thoughts, and they crossed themselves certainly once a minute. Their religion is not an affair of Sunday, but of every day in the week.

“The drosky-driver, certainly the most stupid class of my acquaintance in Russia, never forgets his prayers; if his passenger is never so much in a hurry, and the bribe never so high, the drosky-driver will check his horse, and make the sign of the cross as he passes the little image of the Virgin,so small, perhaps, that you have not noticed it until you wonder why he slackens his pace.

“Then as to government. We boast of our national freedom, and we talk about universal suffrage, the ‘Home of the Free,’ etc. Yet the serfs in Russia were freed in March, 1861, just before our Civil war began. They freed their serfs without any war, and each serf received some acres of land. They freed twenty-three millions, and we freed four or five millions of blacks; and all of us, who are old enough, remember that one of the fears in freeing the slaves was the number of lawless and ignorant blacks who, it was supposed, would come to the North.

“We talk about universal suffrage; a larger part of the antiquated Russians vote than of Americans. Just as I came away from St. Petersburg I met a Moscow family, travelling. We occupied the same compartment car. It was a family consisting of a lady and her three daughters. When they found where I had been, they asked me, in excellent English, what had carried me to St. Petersburg, and then, why I was interested in Pulkova; and so I must tell them about American girls, and so, of course, of Vassar College.

“They plied me with questions: ’Do you have women in your faculty? Do men and women hold the same rank?’ I returned the questions: ’Is there a girl’s college in Moscow?’ ‘No,’ said the youngest sister, with a sigh, ‘we are always going to have one.’ The eldest sister asked: ’Do women vote in America?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘Do women vote in Russia?’ She said ‘No;’ but her mother interrupted her, and there was a spicy conversation between them, in Russian, and then the mother, who had rarely spoken, turned to me, and said: ’I vote, but I do not go to the polls myself. I send somebody to represent me; my vote rests upon my property.’

“Have you not read a story, of late, in the newspapers, about some excellent women in a little town in Connecticut whose pet heifers were taken by force and sold because they refused to pay the large taxes levied upon them by their townsmen, they being the largest holders of property in the town? That circumstance could not have happened in barbarous Russia; there, the owner of property has a right to say how it shall be used.

“‘Why do you ask me about our government?’ I said to the Russian girls. ‘Are you interested in questions of government?’ They replied, ’All Russian women are interested in questions of that sort.’ How many American women are interested in questions concerning government?

“These young girls knew exactly what questions to ask about Vassar College,the course of study, the diploma, the number of graduates, etc. The eldest said: ’We are at once excited when we hear of women studying; we have longed for opportunities to study all our lives. Our father was the engineer of the first Russian railroad, and he spent two years in America.”

“I confess to a feeling of mortification when one of these girls asked me, ‘Did you ever read the translation of a Russian book?’ and I was obliged to answer ‘No.’ This girl had read American books in the original. They were talking Russian, French, German, and English, and yet mourning over their need of education; and in general education, especially in that of women, I think we must be in advance of them.

“One of these sisters, forgetting my ignorance, said something to me in Russian. The other laughed. ‘What did she say?’ I asked. The eldest replied, ‘She asked you to take her back with you, and educate her.’ ‘But,’ I said, ’you read and speak your languagesthe learning of the world is open to youfound your own college!’ And the young girl leaned back on the cushions, drew her mantle around her, and said, ’We have not the energy of the American girl!’

“The energy of the American girl! The rich inheritance which has come down to her from men and women who sought, in the New World, a better and higher life.

“When the American girl carries her energy into the great questions of humanity, into the practical problems of life; when she takes home to her heart the interests of education, of government, and of religion, what may we not hope for our country!

London, 1873. “It was the 26th of August, and I had no hope that Miss Cobbe could be at her town residence, but I felt bound to deliver Mrs. Howe’s letter, and I wished to give her a Vassar pamphlet; so I took a cab and drove; it was at an enormous distance from my lodgingshe told me it was six miles. I was as much surprised as delighted when the girl said she was at home, for the house had painters in it, the carpets were up, and everything looked uninhabitable. The girl came back, after taking my card, and asked me if I would go into the studio, and so took me through a pretty garden into a small building of two rooms, the outer one filled with pictures and books. I had never heard that Miss Cobbe was an artist, and so I looked around, and was afraid that I had got the wrong Miss Cobbe. But as I glanced at the table I saw the ’Contemporary Review,’ and I took up the first article and read itby Herbert Spencer. I had become somewhat interested in a pretty severe criticism of the modes of reasoning of mathematical men, and had perceived that he said the problems of concrete sciences were harder than any of the physical sciences (which I admitted was all true), when a very white dog came bounding in upon me, and I dropped the book, knowing that the dog’s mistress must be coming,and Miss Cobbe entered. She looked just as I expected, but even larger; but then her head is magnificent because so large. She was very cordial at once, and told me that Miss Davies had told her I was in London. She said the studio was that of her friend. I could not refrain from thanking her for her books, and telling her how much we valued them in America, and how much good I believed they had done. She colored a very little, and said, ’Nothing could be more gratifying to me.’

“I had heard that she was not a women’s rights woman, and she said, ’Who could have told you that? I am remarkably so. I write suffrage articles continuallyI sign petitions.’

“I was delighted to find that she had been an intimate friend of Mrs. Somerville; had corresponded with her for years, and had a letter from her after she was ninety-two years of age, when she was reading Quaternions for amusement. She said that Mrs. Somerville would probably have called herself a Unitarian, but that really she was a Theist, and that it came out more in her later life. She said she was correcting proof of the Life by the daughters; that the Life was intensely interesting; that Mrs. Somerville mourned all her life that she had not had the advantages of education.

“I asked her how I could get a photograph of Mrs. Somerville, and she said they could not be bought. She told me, without any hint from me, that she would give Vassar College a plaster cast of the bust of Mrs. Somerville. She said, as women grew older, if they lived independent lives, they were pretty sure to be ‘women’s rights women.’ She said the clergythe broadest, who were in harmony with herwere very courteous, and that since she had grown old (she’s about forty-five) all men were more tolerant of her and forgot the difference of sex.

“I felt drawn to her when she was most serious. I told her I had suffered much from doubt, and asked her if she had; and she said yes, when she was young; but that she had had, in her life, rare intervals when she believed she held communion with God, and on those rare periods she had rested in the long intermissions. She laughed, and the tears came to her eyes, all together; she was quick, and all-alive, and so courteous. When she gave me a book she said, ’May I write your whole name? and may I say “from your friend"?’

“Then she hurried on her bonnet, and walked to the station with me; and her round face, with the blond hair and the light-blue eyes, seemed to me to become beautiful as she talked.

“In Edinburgh I asked for a photograph of Mary Somerville, and the young man behind the counter replied, ‘I don’t know who it is.’

“In London I asked at a bookstore, which the Murrays recommended, for a photograph of Mrs. Somerville and of Sir George Airy, and the man said if they could be had in London he would get them; and then he asked, ‘Are they English?’ and I informed him that Sir George Airy was the astronomer royal!

“‘The Glasgow College for Girls.’ Seeing a sign of this sort, I rang the door-bell of the house to which it was attached, entered, and was told the lady was at home. As I waited for her, I took up the ‘Prospectus,’ and it was enough,’music, dancing, drawing, needlework, and English’ were the prominent features, and the pupils were children. All well enough,but why call it a college?

“When the lady superintendent came in, I told her that I had supposed it was for more advanced students, and she said, ’Oh, it is for girls up to twenty; one supposes a girl is finished by twenty.’

“I asked, as modestly as I could, ’Have you any pupils in Latin and mathematics?’ and she said, ’No, it’s for girls, you know. Dr. M. hopes we shall have some mathematics next year.’ ‘And,’ I asked, ‘some Latin?’ ’Yes, Dr. M. hopes we shall have some Latin; but I confess I believe Latin and mathematics all bosh; give them modern languages and accomplishments. I suppose your school is for professional women.’

“I told her no; that the daughters of our wealthiest people demand learning; that it would scarcely be considered ‘good society’ when the women had neither Latin nor mathematics.

“‘Oh, well,’ she said, ‘they get married here so soon.’

“When I asked her if they had lady teachers, she said ’Oh, no [as if that would ruin the institution]; nothing but first-class masters.’

“It was clear that the women taught the needlework.”