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In the English-speaking world two women stand prominently before the public as contributing most of the change that is taking place in the popular estimate of the capacity and the status of woman. They are each distinctive types of their sex—one English, the other American. Each has had a serious and responsible post to fill, which brought them conspicuously before the eyes of their contemporaries, and each, tested, by the practical strain and wear and tear of fifty years, has displayed supreme capacity, both moral, intellectual and physical. No one can over-estimate the enormous benefit it has been to the cause of progress that during the whole of the period during which the conception of woman's citizenship was germinating in the public mind, the English throne should have been occupied by a woman as capable, as upright, and as womanly as QUEEN VICTORIA.
The British Constitution has many defects, but it has done one thing which the American Constitution would never have done : it has given an able woman an unequalled opportunity of proving, in the very foretop of the State, that in statesmanship, courage and all the more distinctively sovereign virtues, she could hold her own with the ablest and the most powerful men who could be selected from the millions of her subjects. The Queen has lived in the heart of politics, home and foreign, for more than fifty years. The problems which it is held would demoralize the female householder if once in seven years she had to express an opinion upon them at the ballot-box, have been her daily bread ever since her childhood. She is a political woman to her finger tips. She knows more about foreign politics by far than the permanent secretaries at the Foreign Office, and in all constitutional and domestic affairs she can give tips to Mr. Gladstone in matters of precedents, and to any of her ministers as to questions of procedure. John Bright said of her, after knowing her for years, "She is the most perfectly truthful person I ever met." Mr. Forster, another sturdy Briton of Quaker antecedents, said as emphatically that no one could ever be with the Queen without contracting a very sincere personal regard for her. Even Mr. Gladstone, of whom Lord Beaconsfield said he forgot his sovereign was a woman, and conceived her only to be a Government department, has paid high homage to her extraordinary memory.and her marvellous mastery of what may be called the tools of the profession of a constitutional mon. arch.
Broadly speaking, it may be fairly said that the Queen would be acknowledged by all her ministers, Liberal or Conservative, to have more knowledge of the business of governing nations than any of her prime ministers, more experience of the mysteries and intricacies of foreign affairs than any of her foreign secretaries, as loyal and willing a subservience to the declared will of the nation as any democrat in Parliament, and as keen and passionate an Imperial patriotism as ever beat in any human breast. And yet, while all that would be admitted, not even the most captious caviller will pretend that the tremendous pressure of politics, kept up daily for over fifty years, has unsesed the Queen. She is a woman as womanly as any of her subjects, and she is the standing refutation of the silly falsehood that a lady cannot be a politician. As long as the one woman, who has to toil at politics as a profession, is our “Sovereign Lady the Queen," the sneer of the popinjays whose ideal woman is a doll well dressed, but without brains, is somewhat pointless to the common sense of Her Majesty's subjects. Hence it is, perhaps, not very surprising that the two prime ministers who have seen the most of the Queen of late years, Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury, both voted for female suffrage. With that object lesson in the highest place of the capacity of woman to discharge, with advantage to herself and to others, by far the most responsible of all political duties, it was simply impossible for them to maintain the position of antagonism to woman's suffrage, which is only natural to those who despise the capacity or distrust the character of one-half the human race.
The English woman who has done the most to familiarize the world with the capacity and utility of the woman in statesmanship upon a throne has given her name to the Victorian era. In America there are no thrones on which a woman can sit. Even the Presidential chair is the monopoly of the male. The platform and the press, the pulpit and organization, these are the only means by which, in the Republic of the West, either man woman can prove themselves possessed of eminent capacity, and
can make their personality potent in influencing the thoughts and actions of the nation. And no one has even cast so much as a cursory glance over the dead level of American society without realizing that among American women Miss Willard stands first.
ANCESTRY AND UPBRINGING.
She was well born, of pious and healthy parents, in an almost ideally happy home. Her mother, Mary Willard, who, full of years and of honour, passed away last autumn, was one of those who have a natural genius for motherhood. In her own phrase, to her, “ motherhood was life's richest and most delicious romance.” “ Mothers are the creed of their children,” was another of her sayings, and, like most people who do things supremely well, she was always painfully conscious of ber utter inability to realize her own ideal. But her daughter, writing of her after fifty years of wide experience of men and women, said : “For mingled strength and tenderness, sweetness and light, I have never met her superior.” Her supreme gift of motherliness reached, in her children's estimation, the height of actual genius.
Mrs. Willard was a native of Vermont, where she was born in 1805. Five years after Waterloo was fought she began to earn her living as school teacher near Rochester. They were a longlived family. Her father lived to be eighty-six, her grandmother ninety-seven ; Mrs. Willard herself lived to be eighty-seven. It was a sturdy stock, ith sound minds in sound bodies, with the light of humour laughing in their eyes, and the imperious conscience of the New England Puritan governing their life. Miss Willard's father was born the same year as her mother, in the same State. They married in Ogden, N. Y., when they were sixand-twenty, and remained in New York until after Frances was born.
The children were taught to love books, and they were encouraged to read and to enquire. Frances was from the first given to question everything. When first told the Bible was God's word, she immediately asked, “ But how do you know?” and it was one of the standing difficulties of her childhood, how if God were good He could permit the ghastly horror of death. Her enquiries were never checked, but rather encouraged, and her mother had the satisfaction of seeing her daughter a declared Methodist Christian before she had attained her twentieth year.
They could seldom attend church, being miles away from any meeting-house, and they got but little Sunday schooling; but they learned all they knew of this world and the next from books and at their mother's knee. Every Sunday they had one full hour devoted to sacred song, and the rest of the day was spent in reading books borrowed from the nearest Sunday-school library, and the Sunday-school magazines. They were taught to repeat by heart whole chapters of the New Testament and screeds of poetry.
Four years after settling in Oberlin (and where these remarkable parents had studied diligently in the college), Mr. Willard's
health began to fail, and they decided to go west to Wisconsin. What a curious picture it is—that of the exodus from Oberlin ! All that they had was placed into three white covered waggons ; Mr. Willard drove one; Oliver-then a twelve-year-old boydrove the second, while Mrs. Willard drove the third. Frances and Mary sat on a writing desk in their mother's waggon. The big Newfoundland dog trotted behind. They were three weeks in accomplishing their journey. When they reached Chicago, "we found so many mud holes with big signs up, .No bottom here,' that father said he wouldn't be hired to live in such a place. Once the horse my mother drove went down in the quicksand almost to the ears, and men had to come with rails from the fences and pry him out.”
When at last they reached Forest Home in Wisconsin, they had everything to build. They entered their house before it had either windows or door, but in time they made it the prize home of the whole country. Here Frances Willard lived from her seventh to her nineteenth year, with no neighbours within a mile, but with nature all around. Her parents were enthusiastic lovers of nature. Her mother early introduced her children to the poems of Coleridge, Cowper, Thomson, and Wordsworth, while the father was a kind of prairie Thoreau.
The time came, however, when the glorious freedom of the girl had to be exchanged for the restrained propriety of the young woman. It was a bitter moment. Miss Willard told me at Eastnor Castle last month, that on the whole, it was about the bitterest and blackest sorrow she had when she had to assume the regimentals of civilization. She wrote in her journal at the time:
“My “back' hair is twisted up like a corkscrew; I carry eighteen hairpins ; my head aches miserably ; my feet are entangled in the skirt of my hateful new gown. I can never jump over a fence again as long as I live.”
“ BOOKS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED ME.” In this home education, books naturally played a very considerable part. First and foremost there was of course, the Bible, which was read through every year at the regulation rate of three chapters a day and five on Sunday. Then there was the “Children's Pilgrim's Progress," "the sweetest book of my childhood.” But the life-shaping book for her was a little fanatical Sunday-school Abolitionist book, entitled “The Slave's Friend." Miss Willard says:
"The Slave's Friend,' that earliest book of all my reading, stamped upon me the purpose to help humanity, the sense of brotherhood, of all nations as really one, and of God as the equal Father of all races.
When she was eighteen she records that up to that time life had known no greater disappointment than the decision of her practical-minded mother that she should not study Greek. In that year the family removed to Evanston, the chief suburb of Chicago, where Miss Willard has been at home ever since. She broke down from over-study before she graduated, but her indomitable will carried her through. She had an almost savage lust for learning, and she often rose at four, and more than once was found on the floor in dead sleep, with her face in Butler's “ Analogy." When she was twenty she left college, determined to "earn my own living, pay my own way, and be of some use in the world.”
Like most romantic school girls, whose thoughts do not turn to the predestined Prince Charming, she dreamed of incongruous destinies, and ultimately settled down to be a school teacher.
“I once thought I would like to be Queen Victoria's maid of honour; then that I wanted to go and live in Cuba ; next I made up my mind that I would be an artist ; next that I would be a mighty hunter of the prairies. But now, I suppose, I am to be a teacher-simply that and nothing more.
Of one thing she was quite sure—she would not stay at home and do nothing. Her father, who was well-to-do, and a member of the Legislature of Wisconsin, urged her to remain under the old rooftree. “Nobody," she said, “ seems to need me at home. In my present position there is actually nothing I might do that I do not, except to sew a little and make cake."
As life's alarums nearer roll,
The ancestral buckler calls,
Self-clanging from the halls
In the high temple of the soul. So by way of making a beginning she went out to be a schoolmarm when in her twenty-first year. From 1858 to 1874 she had thirteen separate seasons of teaching in eleven separate institutions and six different towns, her pupils in all numbering about two thousand.
Miss Willard, in 1868, made a two years' trip to Europe with Miss Kate Jackson, who defrayed the expense. They visited Egypt, the Holy Land, Russia, and all the rest of Europe.
But even while travelling for pleasure, she never forgot her obligations to her people at home. She brought home 800 photographs, and set up a kind of forerunner of the Magic Lantern Mission.
Miss Willard was thirty-five years old before she found her true vocation. All the first part of her life was but preparatory to the career on which she was now to be launched. College studies, European travel, and a dozen years spent in actual tuition, had equipped her admirably for the work that lay ready to her hand, but of which, even up to the last, she was utterly unaware.
Miss Willard was hereditarily disposed to temperance work. She began temperance work when seventeen years old :
“In 1855 I cut from my favourite Youths' Cabinet, the following pledge, and pasting it in our family Bible, insisted on its being signed by every member of the family-parents, brother, sister aud self :
A pledge we make no wine to take,