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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,-more 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
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 exag. gerations 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 bis 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, here 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 probably be surprised to find that the sense of propriety and selfrespect of their pupils would prove a surer reliance than any
artificial barriers imposed from without. On the other hand, it is important that the intercourse of the young people be regulated by such restrictions as the good sense of the community will justify not minute and arbitrary, in an attempt to meet all deficiencies of taste and judgment, and forestall every conceivable impropriety, but comprehensive and suggestive, expanded as occasion may require in familiar and practical suggestions from principal or teacher. It is desirable that the intercourse of the school be easy and natural, not fettered at every step by some restriction. The government of our school would be impossible, except as approved and sustained by the great body of the pupils. It would be easy, but extremely unwise, to surrender this stronghold in the endeavor to fortify ourselves by artificial barriers.
The experience of the Friends in this country in the management of their schools is instructive. For many years they have had boarding-schools at the East and the West, to which they sent both their sons and their daughters, but intended to allow no association between them in the schools. They found the undertaking too great. Walls could not be built that would entirely separate them. Within two or three years the policy has been changed and the walls removed, and, as I am informed, with the happiest results. A regulated association becomes easy now which was impossible before.
5. But will not the young people form such acquaintances as will result, during their course of study or after they leave school, in matrimonial engagements? Undoubtedly they will; and if this is a fatal objection, the system must be pronounced a failure. The majority of young people form such acquaintances between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, and these are the years devoted to a course of study. It would be a most unnatural state of things if such acquaintances should not be made in a school where young men and young women are gathered in large numbers; nor is it to be expected that marriage engagements even will not be formed more or less frequently. Now and then it may occur that parties will seem to have left school for the purpose of consummating such an engagement. The reasonable inquiry in the case is, whether such acquaintances and engagements can be made under circumstances more favorable to a wise and considerate adjustment, or more promising of a happy result. Are the circumstances such as naturally to promote hasty and ill-assorted marriages? If the system were to stand or fall by this one test, its friends would have no occasion to apprehend the result.
6. But what security is there that positive immoralities may not at times occur, and startling scandals even, that shall shock the community and produce distrust of the system? Of course, such a thing might be; but it would scarce be logical to condemn the system on the ground of such possibilities or even actualities. The only pertinent inquiry is whether such immoralities are the more natural and frequent product of this than of other systems. Is the moral atmosphere of the best and most approved Eastern colleges perfectly free from every taint of iinpurity? Is the propriety of the best-ordered and most carefully-guarded female seminary not liable to be broken in upon by a sporadic offense of this character? Such liabilities go everywhere with fallen human nature; and it has not been shown that the monastic institutions of either ancient or modern times have afforded perfect security upon this point. There may have been a time when one such scandal in a school for joint education would have brought reproach upon the system and overwhelmed it with popular disgust. A generation of successful trial, under a sheltering Providence, should have won for it the impartial judgment which is the right of every system.
7. But is this method adapted to schools in general, or is the success attained at Oberlin due to peculiar features of the school and of the place, which can rarely be found or reproduced elsewhere? This idea is not an unnatural one, and is somewhat prevalent. It is true, we have been favored with some special advantages. The place and the school were founded together-a Christian enterprise, with a common aim. From the beginning, the great interest of the place has been the school. The religious earnestness, in which the enterprise had its birth, has been in some good degree maintained, securing a unity of interest and of action very rare in the history of schools and of communities. The habits of the community have in a good degree taken their shape from the necessi. ties of the school, and there is a very general and hearty interest in all that pertains to its welfare. On the other hand, the village has increased until its population numbers nearly 4000—a population gathered from all parts of the country, with a colored element amounting perhaps to one-fifth of the whole, of every grade of culture and of want of culture, not in any proper sense a disturbing element, but precluding that perfect homogeneity of thought and life embraced in the popular idea of Oberlin society. Our students, too, have been so numerous as to preclude the possibility of the close personal supervision attainable in a smaller school; and while we have had occasion to congratulate ourselves on their general character, their earnest endeavors after improvement and usefulness, still they are essentially like the pupils in other schools at the West between the parallels which embrace the New-England emigration, with the addition of the colored element, varying from five to seven per cent. of the whole.
The experiment was commenced, too, by those who had had no experience in such a school, who had to feel their way through the various questions involved in its organization and arrangement. Thus, with the special advantages of our position, there have been some special difficulties.
But the experiment at Oberlin, if the earliest, is by no means the only one. At least a score of schools have sprung up that have adopted essentially the same plan, and I have yet to learn that there has been
other than a uniform result in the convictions of those who have best understood these movements. There are doubtless advantages in entering upon the plan at the organization of a school instead of introducing it into a college already in existence. The usual style of college life, the traditional customs and habits of action and of thought, are not suited to a school where ladies are gathered as well, and the changes required might occasion difficulty at the outset, and peril the experiment. On this point I have no experience; but I have such confidence in the inherent vitality and adaptability of the system, that I should be entirely willing to see it subjected to this test.
In concluding this statement, permit me to say that I have no special call as an apostle or propagandist of this system of education. The opinions set forth are such as, with my
experience, I am compelled to cherish, and when called upon, as now, I cheerfully express them.