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not stated how much of this is represented by the “ embellishments,” and the privilege of having neighbors of so much culture and refinement; but the sum must undoubtedly be large. At all events, after an enumeration of a goodly number of advantages which the institution is said to have, we are informed that “all are intended to be worthy of a UNIVERSITY of young ladies in our city.” That it is a University is the idea most prominently put forward throughout the pamphlet; and the “ notices of the press” which, properly enough,
serve as a sort of appendix, are headed with the title, “ A Female University.” Now, when it is remembered that a University generally consists of several colleges, we think that it will not seem either modest or proper to call the institution under consideration by that name.
In order, however, that we may do no injustice in the matter to the Principal, we quote his own words, as printed before us, capitals, italics, note of exclamation, and all :
“The great aim of the Institution has always been, to provide for daughters privileges of education equal to those of sons in our Universities, Colleges and Halls. It had its orgin in a careful examination of educational endowments, both in Europe and America. In many instances, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some, MILLIONS, were invested in providing educational appliances, of every variety, and on the most ample scale, for sons. It did not appear that there was in the world a single Institution for the education of daughters, with a well distributed endowment of a hundred thousand dollars !"-p. 12.
It evidently does not occur to the Rev. Dr. Abbot that there are certain sciences which “sons" have to learn, that would not be very useful to “ daughters.” Admitting that the latter may be excellent physicians, and very wise legislators, as well as good teachers, painters, sculptors, &c., there is yet some doubt, even among the most ambitious and enterprising of themselves, as to their qualifications for the business of navigating vessels, exploring new countries, commanding large armies in war times, on land or sea, acting as advocates in courts of justice in “delicate" cases, or as judges on the bench. It will hardly be denied that a certain amount of study and training is necessary for each of these positions; and, perhaps, some others could be added, of which the same may be said. Undoubtedly, ladies may be, and often are, good linguists; they learn nothing better than languages—the use of tongues ; yet we have no female Bopp, Grimm, or Prichard. Comparative philology, one of the most valuable of sciences, owes little, if anything, to the gentler sex. We have never known a lady yet that could institute intelligent comparisons between the Coptic, the Sanscrit, the Zend, and the Hebrew. Good female astronomers there have been ; but no female Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, or Descartes. Even in works of imagination, they do not altogether equal the ruder sex; for we have no female Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, or Milton. What is stranger still
, the world has yet to produce a female Phidias, Angelo, Raphael, or Canova.
But, assuming woman to be intellectually equal in every respect to man, still there remain those positions for which women are deemed unsuited, by the wisest of all ages
and nations, and in general they are such as require most study and preparation. What, then, is there so very absurd in the disparity spoken of in the above extract? Would it not be more absurd to require the young lady, who has to enter on the duties of a matron perhaps at the age of eighteen, or twenty, to go through as extensive a course of study as the young man who devotes himself to the bar, the army, or the navy? And since it is thus clear that females do not require as much learning as males, why expend as much in educating the former as the latter ? Let every necessary facility be afforded, by all means, for educating the one as well as the other ; but to maintain that, because the education of sons costs a certain sum, an equal sum ought to be devoted to the education of daughters, is about as sensible and logical as to maintain that, because a lady sometimes pays twenty dollars for a bonnet, a gentleman ought to pay an equal amount for a hat, if he has a due regard for the rights and privileges of his sex!
But the Rev. Dr. Abbot speaks of female education as if no female had ever been educated anterior to his time. That his mission is, to “elevate the standard of female education,” we are everywhere reminded in the pamphlet before
Nor is it any longer an experiment, for he tells us that “ the result of the undertaking has been eminently successful” (p. 12); so successful that “ there is scarcely a State or territory in the Union from which deputations or correspondence have not been received, with the view to the introduction elsewhere of some of the features of its system of education” (pp. 12, 13). Now, far be it from us to question the sincerity of the learned Principal in all he tells us in this way ; extravagant as most of it is, he has a right to expect that we shall believe in his veracity, if not in his judgment, and we are making the best effort we can to do so. It may be that he has not visited many other female schools ; and the best meaning people in the world may be led to mistake molehills for mountains, if they have not been used to the latter., This, we may observe in passing, is forcibly illustratéd by a well known French fable, entitled The Rat and the Oyster (Le Rat et l'Huître). The little quadruped, we are told, being rather deficient in brains (de peu de cerville), grew weary of living in solitude, and took it into his head to travel. He had only proceeded a few miles, when he began to make philosophical reflections on the vast extent of the world. One little hill he takes to be the Alps, and another the Pyrenees. “Voilà” he says, “les Alpes, et voici les Pyrénées.” On reaching the sea, he mistakes some oysters for ships, and finding one open he puts in his head to help himself to the dishes, and gets caught as in a trap. We wish no such evil as this in the present case; we refer to it merely to show that, with the most benevolent intentions, one may exaggerate his own importance, and everything he has to do with, even to his ruin.
Seriously, it shows lack of intelligence, or a still worse defect, to maintain that the standard of female education is higher now in the Fifth avenue, or anywhere else, than it was in former times in other parts of the world. No historical fact of early times is better authenticated than that ladies used to lecture on the sciences before the Alexandrine School.: The accomplished daughter of Theon used to lecture on mathematics to scholars and scientific men from all countries, from behind a screen, lest her beauty might divert the students from the contemplation of the subject under discussion ; and similar scenes have been witnessed in our own time, in the most learned universities of Italy. We are told that Queen Cleopatra was familiarly acquainted with at least sixteen languages, including Greek, Latin, Persian, and Arabic. Strype, in his “Life of Archbishop Parker," informs us, that Anne, the mother of Lord Bacon, corresponded in Greek with Bishop Jewel, and translated his Apologia from the Latin so correctly, that neither he nor the Archbishop could suggest an alteration. Still more learned was Mildred, the wife of Lord Burleigh, who, according to Ascham, the Latin Secretary of Queen Elizabeth, was the best Greek scholar in England with the excep
tion of Lady Jane Grey. Madam Dacier was perfectly acquainted with the principal Greek poets in the original, and her renderings of difficult passages in Homer are among the most ingenious and elegant we have ; and Elizabeth Barrett Browning translated the Prometheus of Æschylus while a mere girl. We might easily extend this list, and give a similar list of ladies versed in modern languages, in the sciences and the arts-as well versed, we suspect, as any that have ever been, or ever will be, educated in the Abbot Collegiate Institute. To prove this, it would be almost sufficient to mention one American lady, i. e., Margaret Fuller Ossoli, one of the most accomplished linguists of her time.
The truth is, that there is nothing new in the silly fuss that has recently been made about “Female Universities." A certain class of educators——chiefly ladies, vulgarly called old maids-have been maintaining for centuries that ladies require to be at least as learned as gentlemen, if, indeed, not more learned. It was so more than two hundred years ago, when Molière wrote his L'École des Femmes, La Critique de l'École and Les Femmes Savantes, each of which was written for the express purpose of ridiculing precisely such affectation.*
In the time of Addison, Steele, Swift and Pope, the same pedantry was an object of ridicule in England.
Of this we have evidence throughout the Spectator. The following extract will serve as a specimen of the style in which it was laughed at by those who could not be charged with want of appreciation for intellectual culture in the female sex; it purports to have been written by an honest shop-keeper, whose spouse bad brought him to the brink of ruin by her superior learning. “My wife,” he writes," at the beginning of our establishment showed herself very assisting to me in my business, as much as could lie in her way, and I have reason to believe it was her inclination; but of late she has got acquainted with a schoolman who values himself for his great
* This is particularly true of Les Femmes Savantes, which is one of the best comedies ever written. The second scene of the third act is particularly amusing, and most effective in its satire-especially that part in which Trissotin is induced to read his sonnet to the Princess Uranie, for Belise, Armande, and Philaminte, each praising every line as he proceeds. After having been repeatedly interrupted, when commencing to read, he is at last allowed to proceed. Ah ! le joli debut! exclaims Belise. Armande. Qu'il a le tour galant! Philaminte. Loui seul des vers aisés possède le talent. • J'aime superbement et magnifiquement, ces deux adverbes joints fort admirablement. Belise. Ah!
knowledge in the Greek tongue. He entertains her frequently in the shop with discourses of the beauties and excellencies of that language, and repeats to her several passages out of the Greek poets, wherein, he tells her, there is unspeakable harmony and agreeable sounds, that all other languages are wholly unacquainted with. He has so infatuated her with this jargon that, instead of using her former diligence in the shop, she now neglects the affairs of the house, and is wholly taken up with her tutor in learning by heart
tout deux! laissez moi, de grace, respirer. Armande. Donnez-nous, s'il vous
De n'entendre l'effort de notre intelligence
Ou des beautés d'un point, ou d'un brocart nouveau.
Et mettre hautement notre esprit hors de page.
Et, si je rends hommage aux brillants de leurs yeux,
De leur esprit aussi j'honore les lumières.
Mais nous voulons montrer à de certain esprits,
Faire entrer chaque secte, et n'en point épouser.
Armande. Epicure me plait, et ses dogmes sont forts,'' &c. In Scene V. of the same act, the satire is still more trenchant. Trissotin introduces Vadius, a savant, as a Greek scholar:
Philaminte. Du grec ô ciell du grec ! il sait du grec, ma soeur !
du Armande. Du grec ! quelle douceur ! To afford some tangible proof of her love for Greek, Philaminte embraces the new comer. Philaminte. Quoi! monsieur sait du grec ! Ah! permittez, de grace,
Que, pour l'amour du grec, monsieur, on vous embrasse. The savant embraces both, and then proceeds to favor Henriette in a similar manner ; but she declines, on the ground that she does not understand Greek. The whole party sit down.
Philaminte. J'ai pour les livres grecs un merveilleux respect. Vadius apologises to the bas bleux lest his coming may have interrupted some learned discussion ; but he is assured that nothing wrong can be done by one understanding Greek. Philaminte. Monsieur avec du grec on ne peut gâter rien.
Molière-Les Femmes Savantes, Acte III., Scenes ii.-Y.