THE accounts given in The Atlantic and in other journals, last year, of the very modest Society to Encourage Studies at Home brought to light the fact that there was a much larger number of girls awaiting encouragement than the society, by its policy of privacy, had hitherto reached. The third year has just closed, showing the number of 298 students upon the rolls of the society against 82 for the second year and 45 for the first year. With this great increase of students it does not appear that there has been any marked change of policy on the part of the society, or any lowering of its standard. Its organization is so simple and elastic that an increase of students seems only to give more life and enthusiasm to both committee and students; more work has fallen, of course, to the share of the committee, which has wisely met the exigency by enlarging its number, including now several names in New York city and one or two elsewhere. By this means the society becomes less local in its management, but it is evident that, while it makes no difference how widely scattered throughout the country the students may be, efficiency of management under one committee may easily be lessened, if the committee be not able to concentrate its counsels and fortify itself by frequent and personal meetings. The society has rightly, we think, preferred maintaining one organization to forming subsidiary ones; but if the numbers continue to increase in anything like the ratio of the past year, it would seem wiser to create independent societies in other large centres, each having its own circle of students. This is not a very complex matter, however.

The various brief statistics afforded by the record of the year are interesting to note. The average of satisfactory work is curiously close to that of last year, which showed a marked improvement over the previous year. There were 45 names on the lists the first year, and 60 per cent. of satisfactory work was done; there were 82 names the second year, with 70 per cent. of satisfactory work; yet when the number of names was increased to 298, the third year, the percentage of satisfactory work was 67, a result more noticeable when one considers the immediate cause of the increase of names: before, the additions came through those already members, and through personal relations with members of the committee. It would seem as if the large accession of persons having but a hearsay acquaintance with the object of the society would include a larger number, proportionally, of merely curious and fickle students. The choice of studies was, with two exceptions, in the same order as during the previous year.

127 selected History; 90 persevered.

118 “ English Literature; 97 “

44 “ Science; 22 “

36 “ Art; 27 “

19 “ German; 17 “

16 “ French 7 “

In this list art occupies the fourth place instead of the seventh, which it held last year, and history and English literature have changed places. These data are too slight for any very precise inductions, but the advance of history and art to higher places is quite in accordance with the increase of interest in those studies which is indicated by other signs. In English literature attention is mainly directed to the great masters of prose, and it is to be hoped that work done in this quarter may have its influence in our schools, where a traditional regard for poetry seems to us to have partially excluded a study of prose, a study more necessary now than ever before. The fountains of poetry have a more inherent power of self-purification, while the prose which we speak and write for ordinary purposes is constantly impairing the beauty and dignity of literary prose.

In science, aids have been given through the distribution of specimens for chemical analysis, and in one instance a student who chose zoölogy gathered a class of one hundred and twenty-eight in her town, and acted as a conductor to them of the scientific knowledge and stimulus which she received in her connection with the society. In art, the Portfolio did good service by passing in turn from one member to another, and the students in German contributed essays in that language. The exact knowledge of each student was tested by monthly examinations, which were conducted by correspondence, the student of course being upon her honor to conform to the conditions imposed. Indeed, nothing in the conduct of the society strikes us more agreeably than the absence of all chicanery and the steady appeal to the higher motives. A love of study is at once assumed and encouraged, while the happy connection of wise friend and eager student is turned toward the best, most fruitful results. The society, working as it does under the shelter of privacy, is consistently pursuing its purpose of giving its members greater power to make their home-life noble and contented. The slight publicity which its aims and methods obtain may properly increase the range of its influence, but will not, it is very evident, persuade it from its true policy of quiet, unblazoned activity.