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ATLANTIC READINGS 

Number 5 

A FATHER TO HIS FRESHMAN SON 
A FATHER TO HIS GRADUATE GIRL 

BY 

EDWARD SANFORD MARTIN 





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BOSTON 



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Copyright, 1917, 
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY 

Copyright, 1918, 
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS. Inc. 




**A Father to His Freshman Son" is one of the sixteen essays published in 
the Atlantic Classics, First Series; "A Father to His Graduate Girl " 
was originally published in The Atlantic Monthly for June, 1917. 




A Father to his Freshman Son 

By Edward Sanford Martin 

No doubt, my son, you have got out of me already 
what there was to help or mar you. You are eigh- 
teen years old and have been getting it, more or less 
and off and on, for at least seventeen of those years. I 
regret the imperfections of the source. No doubt you 
have recognized them. To have a father who is atten- 
tive to the world, indulgent to the flesh, and with a 
sort, of kindness for the Devil — dear son, it is a good 
deal of a handicap! Be sure I make allowances for 
you because of it. Ex eo fonte — fons^ masculine, as 
I remember; fons and mons and pons, and one other. 
Should the pronoun be illo? As you know, I never was 
an accurate scholar, and I suppose you 're not — Ex eo 
fonte the stream is bound to run not quite clear. 

My advice to you is quite likely to be bad, partly 
from the imperfection of its source, partly because I 
am not you, and partly because of my imperfect ac- 
quaintance with the conditions you are about to meet. 
When I came to college my father gave me no advice. 
He gave me his love and some necessary money, which 

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• • • • 2 • • 



•'•'•. : :•*'; .•• • : :' • •* fAtiANT|c Classics 

did not come, I fear, as easy as the love. His venerable 
uncle who lived with us — my great uncle — gave me 
his blessing and told me, I remember, that so far as 
book-learning went, I could learn as much without 
going to college. Still he did not discourage my going. 
He was quite right. I could have got more book-learn- 
ing out of college than I did get in college, and I sup- 
pose that you, too, might get, out, more than you will 
get, in. Of course, that's not the whole story; neither 
is it true of all people. For me, college abounded in 
distractions, and I suppose it will for you. And I was 
incorrigibly sociable and ready to spend time to get 
acquainted, and more, to stay acquainted, and if you 
have that propensity you need n't think it was left on 
the doorstep. You come by it lawfully. Getting ac- 
quainted is, for most of us, one of the important 
branches. But it's only one of them, and to devote 
one's whole time to it is a mistake, and one that the 
dean will help you avoid if necessary, which probably, 
if I know you at all, it won't be. 

It is important to know people, but it is more im- 
portant to be worth knowing. College offers you at 
least two valuable details of opportunity: a large 
variety of people to know, and a large variety of 
means to make yourself better worth knowing. I 
hope, my son, that you will avail yourself of both 
these details. 

This is a mechanical age, and the most obtrusive of 

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A Father to his Freshman Son 

the current mechanisms is the automobile. It has 
valves and cylinders and those things that give it 
power and speed, and rubber tires that it runs on, and 
a wheel and steering-gear and handles and treadles 
by which it is directed. Your body, especially your 
stomach, is the rubber tires; your brains are the cylin- 
ders and valves; and your will and the spiritual part 
of you are the chauffeur and his wheel. 

I beg you to be kind to your stomach, as heretofore. 
It needs no alcohol at your time of life — if ever — and 
the less you find occasion to feed into it, the more 
prosperous both your physical and mental conditions 
are likely to be. I am aware that life, and college life 
in particular, has its convivial intervals; but you 
might as well understand (and I have been remiss, or 
have wasted time, if you do not understand it already) 
that alcohol is one of the chief man-traps, abounding 
in mischiefs if you play with it too hard. Be wary, 
always wary, with it, my son, and especially with 
hard liquor. 

Your mind, like your body, is a thing whereof the 
powers are developed by effort. That is a principal 
use, as I see it, of hard work in studies. Unless you 
train your body you can't be an athlete, and unless 
you train your mind you can't be much of a scholar. 
The four miles an oarsman covers at top speed is in 
itself nothing to the good, but the physical capacity to 
hold out over the course is thought to be of some 

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Atlantic Classics 

worth. So a good part of what you learn by hard 
study may not be permanently retained, and may not 
seem to be of much final value, but your mind is a 
better and more powerful instrument because you 
have learned it. ^Knowledge is power,' but still more 
the faculty of acquiring and using knowledge is power. 
If you have a trained and powerful mind, you are 
bound to have stored it with something, but its value 
is more in what it can do, what it can grasp and use, 
than in what it contains; and if it were possible, as it 
is not, to come out of college with a trained and disci- 
plined mind and nothing useful in it, you would still 
be ahead, and still, in a manner, educated. Think of 
your mind as a muscle to be developed; think of it as 
a searchlight that is to reveal the truth to you, and 
don't cheat it or neglect it. 

As to competitive scholarship, to my mind it is like 
competitive athletics, — good for those who have the 
powers and like the game. Tests are useful; they stim- 
ulate one's ambition, and so do competitions. But a 
success in competitive scholarship, like a success in 
competitive athletics, may, of course, be too dearly 
bought. Not by you, though, I surmise, my son. If 
you were more urgent, either as a scholar or as an 
athlete, I might think it needful to warn you not to 
wear your tires out scorching too early in life. As 
things are, I say to you, as I often say to myself; 
Don't dawdle; don't scramble. When you work, work; 

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A Father to his Freshman Son 

when you play, play; when you rest, rest; and think 
all the time. 

When you get hold of an instructor who is worth 
attention, give him attention. That is one way of get- 
ting the best that a college has to offer. A great deal 
you may get from books, but some of the most valu- 
able things are passed from mind to mind, and can 
only be had from some one who has them, or else from' 
the great Source of all truth. I suspect that the subtle 
development we call 'culture' is one of those things, 
and the great spiritual valuables are apt to come that 
way. 

You know you are still growing, both in mind and 
body, and will continue so to be for years to come, — 
I hope, always. One of the valuable things about 
college is that it gives you time to grow. You won't 
have to earn any money and will have time to think 
and get acquainted with yourself and others, as well 
as with some of the wisdom that is spread upon the 
records. You would be so engaged, more or less, in these 
years, wherever you might be. But in college, where 
you are so much your own man, and are freed from 
the demands and solicitudes of your parents, the con- 
ditions for it are exceptionally favorable. I suppose 
that is one thing that continues the colleges in busi- 
ness, since I read so often that at present they are 
entirely misdirected and teach the wrong things in the 
wrong way. 

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Atlantic Classics 

But nobody denies that they give the young a 
breathing spell. Breathe, my son; breathe freely. Re- 
member that the aim of all these prospective processes 
is to bring out the man there is in you, and arm him 
more or less for the jousts ahead. It is not to make you 
over into somebody else: that can't be done, — not in 
three or four years, anyhow; but only to bring out, 
and train as much as possible of you. There's plenty 
in most of us if we can only get it out; more, very much 
more, than we ever do get out. So will you please 
think of college as a nursery in which you are to grow 
a while, — and mind you do grow, — and then, pres- 
ently, to be transplanted. It is not as if college was 
the chief arena of human effort. Nevertheless, for your 
effort, while you are there, it is the chief arena, and I 
am far from giving you the counsel to put off trying 
until you leave. 

I hear a good deal about clubs and societies: how 
many there are, how important they are; how it is 
that, if a youth shall gain the whole of scholarship 
and all athletics and not 'make' a proper club, he shall 
still fall something short of success in college. Parents 
I meet who are more concerned about clubs than 
about either scholarship or deportment. They are con- 
cerned and at the same time bothered: so many strat- 
egies and chances the clubs involve; so bad it may be 
to be in this one; so bad to be out of that; so much 
choice there is between them, and so much choice 

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A Father to his Freshman Son 

exercised within them, by which any mother^s hopeful 
may be excluded. 

There is a democratic ideal of a great college without 
any clubs, where the lion and the lamb shall escort one 
another about with tails entwined, and every student 
shall be like every other student, and have similar 
habits and associates. This ideal is a good deal dis- 
cussed and a good deal applauded in the public press. 
Whether it will ever come true I can't tell, but there 
has been some form or other of clubs in our older 
colleges, I suppose, for one or two centuries, and they 
are there now and will at least last out your time; so 
it may be you will have to take thought about them 
in due time. 

Not much, however, until they take thought of you. 

You see, clubs seem to be a sort of natural provision, 
just as tails were, maybe, before humanity outgrew 
them. I guess there is a propensity of nature toward 
groups, and the natural basis of grouping seems to be 
likeness in feathers and habits. The propensity works 
to include the like and, incidentally but necessarily, to 
exclude the unlike. Whether it is the Knights of the 
Round Table or the Knights of the Garter or the Phi 
Beta Kappa, you see these principles working. The 
measure of success in a club is its ability to make 
people want to join it, and that seems to be best dem- 
onstrated and preserved by keeping most of them out. 

Now the advantages of the clubs are considerable. 

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Atlantic Classics 

To have a place always open where you can hang up 
your hat, and where a hospitable welcome always 
awaits you, and where there is enough of a crowd and 
not too much, and where you can in your later years 
inspect at all times a family of selected undergraduates, 
— all that is valuable and good, and pleasant besides, 
and this continuity of interest that the clubs foster 
among their members helps to keep up in those mem- 
bers a lively and helpful interest in their college. The 
drawback to the clubs is their essential selfishness, and 
their disposition to take you out of a large family and 
limit you to a small one, and one that is not yours by 
birth, or entirely by choice, but is selected for you 
largely by other persons. 

In any club you yield a certain amount of freedom 
and individuality, the amount being determined by 
the degree in which the club absorbs you. Don't 
yield too much! Don't take the mould of any club! 
A college is always bigger than its clubs, and the big- 
gest thing in a college is always a man. The object of 
being in college is to develop as a man. If clubs help 
in that development, — and I think they do help some 
men, — they are a gain; but, of course, if they dwarf 
you down to the dimensions of a club-man, they are 
a loss. Some men take their club shape, such as it is, 
and find a sufficient satisfaction in it. Others react 
on their clubs, take what they have to give, add to it 
what is to be had elsewhere, and turn out rather more 

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A Father to his Freshman Son 

valuable people than if they had had no club experi- 
ence. 

At all events, don't take this matter of the clubs too 
hard. For those youths, comparatively few, who by 
luck and circumstances find themselves eligible to 
them, they are an interesting form of discipline or 
indulgence, and I will not say that they are unim- 
portant. Neither would I have you keep out of them 
because of their drawbacks. If you begin by keeping 
out of all things that have drawbacks, your progress 
in this world will involve constant hesitations. Alco- 
hol has numerous drawbacks, but I don't advise you 
to be a teetotaller. Tobacco has drawbacks, but I 
believe you smoke it. Money has drawbacks, and so 
has advertisement. But, bless you, we have to take 
things as they come and deal with them as we can. 
The trick is to get the kernel and eliminate the shuck. 
A large proportion of people do the opposite. If you 
can manage that way with the clubs, — provided you 
ever get a chance, — you will be amused to observe 
in due time how large a proportion of your brethren 
value these organizations chiefly for their shuck, and 
grasp most eagerly at that. For the shuck, as I see it, 
is exclusiveness, which is not valuable except to per- 
sons justly doubtful of their own merits. Whereas the 
kernel is the fellowship of like minds which has always 
been treasured by the wise. 

The clubs, my son, some more than others, are re- 

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cruited considerably from what is known as the leisure 
class. To be sure, I don't see any very definite or 
important leisure class about in our land. Everybody 
who amounts to anything works, and always did and 
must, for you can't amount to anything otherwise; 
but the people who have money laid up ahead for 
them, are apt to work somewhat less strenuously than 
the rest of us, and not so much for money. Don't get 
it into your head that you want to tie up to the leisure 
class, or that the condition of not having to work is 
desirable. Have it in mind that you are to work just 
about as hard as the quality of your tires and cylinders 
will warrant. Plan to get into the game if you have 
to go on your hands and knees. Plan to earn your 
living somehow. Don't aim to go through life spoon- 
fed; don't aim to get a soft seat. If you do, you won't 
have your fair share of fun. There is no real fun in 
ease, except as you need it because you have worked 
hard. \ 

I say, plan to earn your living! Whether you act- 
ually earn the money you live on, makes no great 
difference, though in your case I guess you '11 have to 
if you are going to live at all well. But if you get 
money without earning it, it leaves you in debt to so- 
ciety. Somebody has to earn the money you spend. In 
mine, factory, railroad, or office, somebody works for 
the money that supports you. No matter where the 
money comes from, that is true: somebody has to earn 

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A Father to his Freshman Son 

it. If you get it without due labor of your own, you 
owe for it. Recognize that debt and qualify yourself 
to discharge it. Study to put back into the world 
somewhat more than you take out of it. Study to be 
somewhat more than merely worth your keep. Study 
to shoulder the biggest load your strength can carry. 
That is life. That is the great sport that brings the 
great compensations to the soul. Getting regular meals 
and nice clothes, and acceptable shelter and transpor- 
tation, and agreeable acquaintances, is only a means 
to an end, and if you accept the means and shirk the 
end, the means will pall on you. 

I said 'agreeable acquaintances.' A very large pro- 
portion of the acquaintances you can make will be 
agreeable if you can bring enough knowledge and a 
sufl&ciently hospitable spirit to your relations with 
them. I don't counsel you to cultivate the arts of pop- 
ularity, for they are apt not to wash, — apt, that is, to 
conflict with inside qualities that are vastly more val- 
uable than they are. But keep, in so far as you can, an 
open heart. There is no one to whom you are not re- 
lated if only you can find the relation; there is no one 
but you owe him a benefit if you can see one you can 
do him. 

Don't be too nice. It is such an impediment to 
usefulness as stuttering is to speech, — a sort of spirit- 
ual indigestion; a hesitation in your carbureter. By 
all means, be a gentleman, in manners and spirit, in 

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so far as you know how, but be one from the inside 
out. 

If you had come as far as you have in Hf e without 
acquiring manners, you might well blush for your 
parents and teachers. I don't think you have, but I 
beg you hold on to all the good manners you have, 
and get more. Good manners seem to me a good deal 
to seek among present-day youth, but I suppose they 
have always been fairly scarce, and the more appre- 
ciated for their scarcity. Tobacco manners are un- 
commonly free and bad in this generation; more so, I 
think, than they were in mine. Since cigarettes came 
in, especially, youths seem to feel licensed to smoke 
them in all places and company. And the boys are 
prone to too much ease of attitude, and lounge and 
loll appallingly in company, and I see them in parlors 
with their legs crossed in such a fashion that their feet 
might almost as well be in the ladies' laps. 

Have a care for these matters of deportment. Be 
strict with yourself and your postures. Keep your legs 
and feet where they belong; they were not meant for 
parlor ornaments. Show respect for people! Lord bless 
me! the things I see done by males with a claim to 
be gentlemen: tobacco-smoke puffed in women's faces; 
men who ought to know better, smoking as they drive 
out with ladies; men who put their feet on the table 
and expect you to talk over them! Show respect for 
people; for all kinds of people, including yourself, for 

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A Father to his Freshman Son 

self-respect is at the bottom of all good manners. They 
are the expression of discipline, of good-will, of respect 
for other people's rights and comfort and feelings. I 
suppose good manners are unselfish, but the most 
selfish people might well cultivate them, they are so 
remunerative. In the details of life, in the public vehi- 
cles, in crowds, and in all situations where the demand 
presses hard on supply, what you get by hogging 
is incomparably less than what you get by courtesy. 
The things you must scramble and elbow for are not 
worth having; not one of them. They are the swill of 
life, my son; leave them to swine. 

You will have to think more or less about yourself, 
because that belongs to your time of life, provided you 
are the sort that thinks at all. But don't overdo it. 
You won't, because you will find it, as all healthy 
people do, a subject in which over-indulgence tends 
rapidly to nausea. To have one's self always on one's 
mind is to lodge a kill- joy; to act always from calcula- 
tion is a sure path to blunders. 

Most of these specific counsels I set down more for 
your entertainment than truly to guide you. You 
don't live by maxims any more than you speak by 
rules of grammar. You will speak by ear (improving, 
I hope, in your college environment), and you will 
live by whatever light there is in you, getting more, I 
hope, as you go along. 

Grow in grace, my son! If your spirit is right, the 

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details of life will take care of their own adjustment. 
Go to church; if not invariably, then variably. They 
don't require it any more in college, but you can't 
afford not to; for the churches reflect and recall — 
very imperfectly, to be sure — the religion and the 
spirit of Christ; and on that the whole of our civiliza- 
tion rests. Get understanding of that. It is by far the 
most important knowledge in the whole book, the 
great fountain of sanity, tolerance, and political and 
social wisdom, a gateway to all kinds of truth, a recti- 
fying and consoling current through all of life. 



A Father to his Graduate Girl 

By Edward S. Martin 

For you, my daughter in cap and gown, the reflec- 
tions that greeted your graduation in white muslin 
only four years ago will have to be revised. All the 
wisdom of the ages could be drawn upon for admoni- 
tion, as the ministrations of the Miss Minervas cul- 
minated on that June morning, and you made your 
curtsy to the world that was. You cast about for a 
year, inspecting the show to which you had gained 
admission ; and then, as you remember, having stronger 
aspirations for knowledge than for social exercises, 
you went to college. Here you are, again inspecting 
the planet you were born into, and looking, I suppose, 
for a suitable place to take hold of its activities. 

But bless me! what a distracted tragedy of a planet! 
All the people in it running about like ants in an ant- 
hill that the ploughshare has cut through ; every tradi- 
tion upset; every habit of life threatened with disturb- 
ance! Here you come, bringing a new education to a 
new heaven and a new earth! Take your parent by 

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the hand, my dear, and lead him forth into the un- 
known. This is no world of his. Yours it may be; 
yours it must be, as much as any one*s; yours to make 
and shape, and share its destinies. I see not much 
further into it than that it must have work for such as 
you ; and as always heretofore you have done the task 
that you attempted, I have the more faith to find you 
equal to whatever tasks are coming. 

Of what you have learned in these three scholastic 
years now crowned with A.B., I have only vague and 
general knowledge, but I know that you have par- 
taken faithfully of the repast that was set before you, 
and that, if there is anything good for girls in a college 
education, you must have got it. I can get assurance 
from expert educators that you have been taught 
nothing by the right method, and little or nothing 
that you should have learned, and that you face life 
again not really much to the good for all your recent 
endeavors. But that I shall not believe. Between 
ideal education and what you have obtained, no doubt 
a great gulf stretches ; but at least you have got your 
share of what has been offered to your generation, and 
I own that I look upon your bachelor of arts degree as 
a life-belt strapped around you as you stand on the 
deck of a ship that navigates a zone of danger. If it is 
any good for a girl to have practiced a little to live her 
own life, to choose her own companions, to form her 
own opinions and test them for herself, surely this is 

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A Father to his Graduate Girl 

the time and this the state of the world for that good 
to become apparent. 

I notice that this distinction seems to rule between 
the girls who come out of boarding-schools and you 
beginning Bachelors: that they look forward to a little 
play-time period, and that most of you look for ' a job.' 
The difference does not go so deep as appears, for both 
of you are after training, with a view to future em- 
ployment, and are likely in the end to come to similar 
activities. For women are women, and will be to the 
end; and the work they do, in the long run and with 
due exceptions, will be women's work. The boarding- 
school misses are quite as apt to pick up valuable les- 
sons in applied energy in their playtime, as you will be 
in the employment that you hope to find. 

At least, I suppose that you hope to find it. All the 
graduating college girls, having had a training and 
learned something, — at least, they hope so, — want 
to try it out on real work and find out what it is good 
for. Certainly this is their year if there ever was one. 
The young men graduates of colleges in '6i found the 
Civil War ready made for them, and most of them, 
deferring all other occupations, went into it. Here 's 
a war ready for you, and one that promises to have a 
job waiting for every woman that is ready for it. It 
may be a job that women have been used to do ; it may 
be something quite novel and untried. If the latter, 
so much the better for you whose training is believed 

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to have made you a little readier than your sisters to 
try out experiments. A little more than other girls, 
the girls who have been to college are used to variety 
of association. They are apt, not only to know more 
girls than their boarding-school sisters, but more 
kinds of girls. In some of the big girls* colleges in the 
great cities there is obtainable an experience of human 
fellowship something like that which imaginative 
persons see as one of the precious possibilities of uni- 
versal military service. If the dog- tent sheltering two 
young citizens from widely different social layers is an 
instrument of democracy, so is the classroom bench of 
a big girls* college in a great city. 

Three years ago we thought that employments for 
women had been marvelously amplified, and so they 
had. The girls had flocked into offices; they were 
typewriters and stenographers, lawyers, doctors, edi- 
tors, cashiers and bookkeepers; they did most of the 
work of the great department stores; they were deep 
in social service, and had almost monopolized the great 
profession of teaching. But since the war began, and 
men by the million have been called into it, armies of 
women almost equally large have been poured into the 
places these men left vacant. In Europe before the 
war women contended for employment ; but since the 
war began, almost all employments, except actual mil- 
itary service, have contended for the women. Women 
censor the mails ; women make the munitions ; women, 
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A Father to his Graduate Girl 

even in England, tend the cattle and till the land. Only 
by this vast, wholesale cooperation of the women of the 
nations with the men of the nations has the war been 
kept going. Whenever there was work to be done and 
lack of men to do it, women have been enlisted. 

And that, my daughter with your sheepskin in your 
hand, is the world into which you have graduated. It 
is a world in crisis; a world struggling toward a salva- 
tion only to be won by bitter effort; a world to which 
these states have suddenly been joined again after 
four generations of separation. Physically we Ameri- 
cans are far distant from the war and its agonies, but 
spiritually, mentally, nationally, it has become our af- 
fair and we are joined to it. It is our concern now that 
it shall come out right and do its appointed work of 
destruction and renovation. Our great estate and all 
our powers are committed to that vast duty. No one 
of us is exempt from contributing what we have and 
what we are to that endeavor. 

The deep impressions which affect our lives are apt 
to come suddenly, to be matters of weeks or months of 
very active thought, rather than of years of slow expe- 
rience. Like enough you, my daughter, and your co- 
evals, will have your ideas about many important mat- 
ters shaped by the thoughts that are born of this crisis 
in human affairs. No one who is really alive will escape 
those thoughts. They will concern the relations of na- 
tions and of all the people who compose them. One of 

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the great lessons that the war is teaching is the power 
and duty of cooperation ; that no one may Hve for self 
alone, but each for all and all for each. Wherever you 
take hold to help in these affairs, you will work with 
some one in a common cause; you will work, not for 
yourself alone, but for your country ; not for your coun- 
try alone, but for France, for England, for Belgium, 
for Serbia, for Russia, for Poland, for Italy, for Japan, 
for China, for all the world, to save it from the ruin of 
misapplied knowledge and selfish counsels. Nothing 
like this vast cooperation was ever known before. It 
used to be said that the United States had learned to 
think in the terms of a continent, and that Europe had 
got to learn that lesson. But now people must think in 
terms of all the continents. Nothing less than the 
whole world is in the pangs of readjustment; of hardly 
less than the whole world will you be a citizen when 
this work is finished. 

But as you will remain distinctively a citizen of the 
United States, so, whatever you find to do, you will re- 
main distinctively a woman. No extension of oppor- 
tunity or novelty of occupation is going to swerve you 
from that inexorable condition. The work that you are 
to do in the world is to be woman's work. It may be 
driving an aeroplane or a motor-car, or making muni- 
tions, or keeping cows or chickens, or raising cabbages, 
or folding bandages, or nursing, or teaching, or knitting 
socks, or organizing enterprises, but if you do it, you 

[ 64 ] 



A Father to his Graduate Girl 

make woman*s work of it, for you are more important 
and less changeable than any occupation, and you will 
dominate the work, and not the work you. 

If the work does not suit you as a woman, you will 
drop it presently, because it is more important in the 
long run that you should be a woman and do a woman's 
work than that any specified job should continue to be 
done. In an emergency, to be sure, the specific job may 
be all-important because the continuance of women's 
true work depends on it. But that is a temporary mat- 
ter, to be cured at the first chance, so that the world 
may notecase to be worth living in, or run out of people. 

I observe, and you will notice, that notwithstanding 
the great incursion of women, of late years, into one or 
another department of business, they are not of much 
account as fortune-builders. Some of them earn or 
make a good deal of money, but they seldom get rich 
by their own exertions, and nearly all the rich women 
have inherited their fortunes from men. Moreover, the 
women who are most successful as money-makers are 
not, as a rule, the most successful as women. The wom- 
en seem to be a consecrated sex, too valuable to be em- 
ployed in mere money-getting. Vast numbers of them 
earn a living — sometimes a good one — and have to ; 
but few of them get rich. It is common for a young 
man to start out deliberately to accumulate a fortune. 
It is very uncommon for a young woman to do so. 
She is much more likely to accumulate a young man. 

1 65 ] 



Atlantic Classics 

Will you please take note of that, my daughter? In 
spite of your cap and gown, you are still a consecrated 
vessel, designed rather to confer benefits upon the 
world, than exact an excessive recompense for living in 
it. If you are to have much money you must get it in- 
directly. Your life is too valuable to be sacrificed to 
getting rich. I believe you will feel that to be true, no 
matter what you undertake ; feel that you cannot af- 
ford to give up being a woman and fulfilling a woman's 
destiny, for the sake of winning the common rewards 
that are open to men. For you know man's great re- 
ward is woman. She is the crown of his endeavors and 
often the goal of them, but not of yours. 

One of the consolations of these extraordinary times, 
so terrible and so afflicting in many aspects, is that 
they are bringing us closer to the French, the people in 
our modern world who seem to know best how to live, 
and who, we suspect, have come the nearest to solving 
the problem of the woman's place in life. Of course 
they are not a perfect model for us, and of course there 
are things that they may learn of us as well as we of 
them; but the Frenchwoman's place in life, as we hear 
of it, seems the nearest right that any people has work- 
ed out. It is a place of power and honor, a place in 
which the woman is valued to the full as a woman, and 
in which she cooperates intimately and effectively with 
the man. Probably we idealize the Frenchwoman's 
position somewhat, but as we see her, she is not only 
[ 66 ] 



A Father to his Graduate Girl 

the decoration of life, but ideally the helpmate of the 
man; helping with her head and with her hands, with 
her companionship, her love, her thrift, her skill, her 
labor. We hear of her potency in business affairs ; of her 
share, at least equal, and apt to be superior, in the 
management of farm and shop and household. We 
have learned all over again these last three years what 
wonderful stuff there is in the French, and wish there 
was more of it in the world. Never was mankind so 
much disposed to go to school to France, nor ever had 
this French tradition of woman's power and place and 
work a better chance to influence mankind. Perhaps it 
will help to temper in this land and generation the pro- 
pensity to make a battle cry of 'Women for women,* 
with a prospect that it will yield in its turn to the 
slogan, * Every woman for herself!' 

Not with any such motto, my daughter, will civiliza- 
tion go any gait but backwards. The women of France 
have won great honor by great service, but their work 
has been woman's work. They have kept their hands 
on the details — the things that make the difference 
between profit and loss in trade or agriculture, and be- 
tween paths of pleasantness and bad going in our daily 
walk. They are wise in the technique of living — not 
for themselves alone, but for France, her men and her 
children. 

If France is pleasant and Frenchmen love it, it is 
Frenchwomen who h^ve made it so. If life is pleasant 

[ 67 ] 



Atlantic Classics 

to French men and they love it, it is French women 
who have made it so. If French men love France more 
than life, it is because in a conquered France, French 
life could not flourish, or French women train it and 
make it worth living to French men. It is a great office 
to make life pleasant ; to make it worth living. So far 
as it is done, it is done chiefly by women, but not by 
women whose motto is 'Women for women,* or 'Every 
woman for herself.* 

It is the fault of people who are good at details that 
they are prone to make details overshadow life. Per- 
haps the Frenchwomen have room among their virtues 
for that fault. It is one, my daughter, that your col- 
lege education should help to keep you out of. I don*t 
suppose that college has made you proficient in the de- 
tails of life, but at least it should have qualified you to 
see the forest in spite of the trees. You ought in the 
end — and long before the end — to see life broader 
and truer for having been to college; and because of 
those three years of reading and listening and thinking, 
should be able to bestow your mind upon the details of 
life with less risk of their absorbing you. 

But the best thing to save the spirit from being 
swamped by details is religion, which keeps the imag- 
ination alive and constantly reminds the hands and the 
brain what their activities are about. Most of the 
French women are religious, and that helps immensely 
to humanize them and keep them pleasant in spite of 
[ 68 ] 



A Father to his Graduate Girl 

their strong bent toward thrift. Perhaps after the war 
France will offer the world a new-style Christian 
church, a church of France — Catholic as France is 
Catholic, free as France is free, bomething like that is 
coming to all the world, and coming, sooner or later, 
out of the great dissolution of obstacles to human unity 
that is the great fruit and consequence of the war. 

The wonderful war! The wonderful war! Praise 
God that we are in it, and practicing to beat the Devil 
along with our brethren ! Be confident, my child, in the 
destiny of mankind ! Here you come with that inno- 
cent sheepskin into a world loaded with new debts, 
mourning its innumerable dead, grieved at the havoc 
done to it, filled with orphans and widows and still 
struggling toward a goal obscured by smoke. But it 
is a world of promise beyond all the promise of a thou- 
sand years, in which whoever is strong in the faith may 
hope everything that saints foresaw or martyrs died to 
bring. Be glad it is your year. ' A. B. 1917* is distinc- 
tion in itself. Accept it, my daughter, and make it 
good! 



4 



i(^lV 



ATLANTIC READINGS 



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