A Woman's Memories at Eighty-One: Their Lessons in Patience, Service, and Hope

I HAVE seen: —

The Irish famine of 1848. The rise of Fenianism. Gladstone and Home Rule defeated. Parnell and defeat. The Great War and delay.

Then, result of all: the Irish Free State, and the Irish Free State represented at Washington.

The European Revolutions of 1848.

France from a Republic to an Empire, passing through the Commune to the Republic.

The rise and fall of Prussia.

The birth of a new Germany and a new Russia.

A United Italy.

Emancipation of the Russian serf.

The Indian Mutiny and the consequent taking-over of India from ‘John Company’ (the East India Company) by the British Government.

The legislation of Lord Ripon. The later Montagu Act. The beginning of the modern process of India toward a self-governing community. The entrance of the Indian Princes into the World War as voluntary contribution and their publicly expressed reasons for so doing.

England, from a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, becoming under Disraeli an Empire; now, ‘A Commonwealth of Free Nations.’

A peasant’s son, MacDonald, Prime Minister.

The great series of Factory Acts; the protection of women and children in industry and mining.

Women as factory inspectors, with all it means for decency and security.

The work of Octavia Hill and all that has grown from it.

The beginnings of tenement-house and sanitary-housing legislation.

Mr. Charles Brace’s work in New York. Formation of the Children’s Aid Society.

The Charity Organization Society; the first coördinated attempt to deal intelligently with pauperism and poverty.

The end of Negro slavery in America. The work of Booker Washington, of Hampton, Calhoun, and so forth.

The devoted work of Josephine Butler, wife of an Anglican clergyman, in connection with the Contagious Diseases Act. Beginning of the battle for the protection of woman and of the unborn child.

The pamphlet by Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant. Forbidden. To-day the advertisement of Dr. Marie Stopes’s books on the same subject, on the open front page of The Nation and the Athenœum, and she herself among the latest presentations at Court! (Shades of Queen Victoria!)

Organized societies for the protection of animals.

The dawning idea of the conservation of natural resources, forests, water power, and so forth.

The building of the great, railways that have connected the two oceans, making possible the building-up of the Great West.

Practical discovery of mineral oil and its general and expanding use.

The motor engine and car.

The airplane.

General use in medicine and surgery of anæsthetics.

The Atlantic cable.

The changed status of women as regards property-holding and guardianship of children.

Woman suffrage.

Koch’s doctrine of the bacillus —a revolution.

The Einstein theory of relativity.

Colleges for women. All trades and professions open to women.

From the ox at the plough to the tractor.

Applied electricity, probably at the beginning of its possibilities.

Striving toward prison and criminal reform. Toward wiser, saner, curative sentences for the criminal.

The X-ray. Preventive medicine and inoculation against disease.

Radium with its immense potentialities.

Darwinism with all it implies of revolution in thought.

Modern psychology with its unlimited possibilities in every sphere of man’s life and work.

Changed attitude toward divorce and illegitimacy. More humane.

I have seen twelve wars. Mexican War. Crimean War. War for Italian independence. Indian Mutiny. Our Civil War. Prussia against Denmark, Prussia annexing Schleswig-Holstein. Prussia against Austria. Prussia against France, Prussia annexing Alsace-Lorraine. Russo-Turkish. United States and Spain. Russo-Japanese. The World War.

The renewed questioning and life in the churches; a new consciousness of social responsibility.

A new feeling, growing steadily, concerning war and peace.

Education toward the idea of internationalism.

A deepening and strengthening interest in Christ and the implications of his moral and spiritual thought. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren.’

The thrilling development in archæology and Biblical criticism, from the child’s reading of Layard’s Nineveh and Stephens’s Central America, to the Tell el-Amarna Letters, Egypt, Abydos, the Mayas, Crete.

The growth of trade-unionism from small insignificant groups to the power that can stop the wheels of industry and touch directly every home in the land. Trade-unionism, through threatened strike, can force the Adamson Bill, which freed them from trust restrictions by which the trusts, corporations, and so forlh, arc bound. Frees them from much social responsibility and is a temptation.

Labor buying into the industries where employed. Formation of labor banks.

The start ling growth of capital and organized capitalism with the terrible temptation to the abuse of power. These two groups of organized power face each other.

We have passed from the day of small things; the world is big and round, there arc no antipodes! What we make and what we are is needed everywhere. Much of the work can be done only by great groups, wholesale methods, international relations, great capital of brains, money, skill, and of high morality.

Begulation of corporations, a great and delicate responsibility, till great lessons of honesty and moral and generous responsibility are learned.

It seems to me men are not very different — no more dishonest, no more grasping, no more greedy, than in older days; things are simply on a larger scale. The type of men who took mortgages on poor people’s houses to foreclose when they chose, or who gave short weight and measure, are always with us! In legislation, the old codes of Asia, Africa, and Europe all tell the same tale of the grasping heart of man. Psychology is showing the oneness of human nature, from bottom to top, through the whole human scale, the same vices, the same virtues, the same moral downfalls, the same spiritual high adventure. When we realize this, class consciousness and antagonisms must pass away; we shall work together instead of against each other. We shall move from one cycle to another with as little destruction as possible, knowing that destruction is a form of war, leaving victors and vanquished, rancor and hatred.

There seems to me to be an underlying purpose running through all these enormous activities and accumulations — the gaining a world surplus to be used in the next inevitable step of coöperation and expansion.

We must have a surplus of mind and heart from which to fructify the world, to lend on a grand scale w here that way is better, to give greatly when that is best of all.

Another great step I have seen: the man of great wealth feels himself neither safe nor happy unless he gives largely and publicly to found or to carry on great good things for humanity. Money flows like water for great and noble objects, for great purposes, for objects of beauty open to the study and happiness of the poorest.

And now comes the greatest gain of all I have seen in my eighty-one years of pilgrimage—a steadily increasing idea of the beauty of service, a deepening consecration to the service of the individual and to the world.

The modernist says, with reason, that the strong have taken more than their right; the spiritual indictment is that we are unworthy citizens of the City of God and of the Kingdom of Heaven.