A Pedagogic Sunset


FORTY years’ teaching in one women’s college! It is a long retrospect. The face of civilization can be changed in forty years. People tell the impatient radical not to be in a hurry, but history is sometimes in a hurry. It has its accelerations and retards. During the last fifteen years it has been so accelerated that we have been swept from our moorings into seas unknown.

Forty years have carried the higher education of women from the pioneer stage into the full heyday of external success. Has the success been more than external? Has the concentration of one’s first energies on that cause been justified? There were many summoning possibilities—‘life’s business being just the terrible choice.’ Should one turn away from them all, abandon personal aims, and dedicate one’s self to the coming generations, making the surrender which only two people, teacher and mother, are called to make? More or less casually, that was my decision. Most of the forty years have been spent in the semicloistral seclusion of a women’s college. Am I glad, or not?

I think I am. Certainly my choice has yielded much happiness, and that is something. Nobody is disinterested enough to consider only whether one’s achievement has been worth while: human nature asks also whether one has had a good time. Yes! It is delightful, at least for a woman with a bent that way, to belong to a college faculty. There are the mixed joys of the classroom, of which hereafter; there are libraries, laboratories, the pleasant apparatus of learning; and, best of all, there is the sense of intellectual fellowship. Community life has its exasperations, but an affectionate disposition and a sense of humor go far to find sources of satisfaction even in these. What pleasure not only to follow a private line of study or research, — everybody on a college faculty has one, — but to listen to others when they come back from their summers or sabbaticals, bringing — what do I know? — reports on ‘Exultet’ scrolls in southern Italy or on recent researches into the brains of ants, talks on Roman toys, old prints of eighteenth-century landscape gardens, or some recondite formula which may revolutionize our concept ion of matter! Quite apart from the stream of undergraduates flowing through a college, the life of a faculty among its own members is fascinating in variety and stimulus. Probably it is especially fascinating to women, to whom this sort of group activity is comparatively new.

And to share this great adventure has been not only fascinating but fruitful. To defend a losing or a threatened cause is a romantic privilege — one, incidentally, which every liberal can enjoy to-day. But there is solid comfort in devotion to a cause which succeeds, and certainly no cause has this hall mark, if popularity measure success, more than the higher education of women. The modern world is strewn with fiascoes. Perhaps — though I don’t believe it — we are passing into that cyclical stage which has usually preceded the scrap heap. It is cheering to feel that the aim to which one’s private powers have been dedicated has been attained.

When I was an undergraduate in the eighties of the last century, echoes of Dr. Clarke’s Sex in Education still sounded. Women’s physiques would never stand the combined strain of Greek, of examinations, of community life. The great Dr. Eliot also shook a disapproving head, and his disapproval rankled. Put on our mettle, we watched our physiques with amused anxiety, though it did not take us long to feel reassured. Only daring girls tried the new adventure, and they knew the delicious exhilaration of the pioneer. Health did not suffer, and we had a beautiful time — better perhaps than any young women, except a favored few, had ever enjoyed before. Not only had we received the freedom of the city of the mind, but we rejoiced in the expansion of our feminine horizon beyond our old limits of the domestic circle and the social clique. Emotional enrichment is no merely sentimental gain; it liberates. Devotion to Alma Mater, with the intricate and rich relationships it carries, is ennobling to the alumnæ. With men this devotion to the fatherland of the mind has long been potent. With women it is new. I often think we do not adequately realize how much modern colleges for women have added in many ways to the joy of the world.

Girls have appreciated the fact. They have knocked in increasing hordes at the college doors, till to-day all the chief colleges have ruthlessly to limit their numbers. So far as popularity goes, the ‘higher’ education has obviously arrived.

But let us rise above the level of mere pleasure. Let us ask the significance of the movement. Apart from the happiness it brings, what is the higher education of women meaning to society?

The most important immediate change it has brought is doubtless the introduction of purpose into feminine life.

Purpose! Central need of every life which is to attain stability and peace! We forget how completely the lives of women lacked it a hundred or less years ago. In Victorian novels and other social records, marriage and motherhood are assumed as the one interest and raison d’être of women. Some people still so assume, and they are right, in the same sense that marriage and fatherhood lire the raison d’être of men. Marriage is normal; most women crave it, though not all. But the normal is rarely the sufficient. It is well that modern girls can no longer be described as ‘ ladies in waiting.’ Apparently as large a proportion of college graduates as of their sisters marry; but deliberately to aim at marriage is no longer an ignominious necessity, and the married state, not degraded by being viewed as an occupation, becomes to women, as to men, the crown of a life which has its own adequate centre.

It goes without saying that these summary remarks do not cover the ground. No one denies that children interrupt other pursuits more with women than with men, and one does not want to hear college-bred wives adopting what Shaw cites as the habitual phrase of the honest mother, ‘ Run away now, darling.’ The situation bristles with difficulties, and basic readjustments are in order. At these, colleges and alumnæ are working practically, summers as well as winters, with some prospect of success. There is long experimentation ahead. But the demand of some women to possess both a home and a profession has come to stay. Meanwhile, as vocational guidance improves, and as one by one the last barriers fall separating women from the free range of human pursuits, we may expect to see more and more effective results from the release of their trained powers into the general life.

To predict these results would be premature. But after watching girls sympathetically for forty years I am inclined reluctantly to endorse the ideas about their specific ability expressed some time ago by an Atlantic essayist. I see small indication that women are likely to excel in arts or letters. They are so sensitive and so quick in imaginative response that the absence of high creative power comes as a surprise, and I earnestly hope that I am mistaken, and that we may yet see a woman Shakespeare, Beethoven, or Michelangelo. And that women have a distinctive if secondary contribution to make in sculpture, poetry, and other arts seems proved. In fiction, especially, they already hold their own with men, and the revelation of life from the feminine angle has increasing freshness and value. But in general I think that the strength and worth of women are less on the side of the arts than on that of executive work. Women arc going, I believe, to make great statesmen. They will be busy shaping civilization itself. And this is natural. We all hope that the fostering statesmanship of the future will concern itself less with defending the nation against external enemies than with enabling the citizens to live in harmony. That is to say, it will be a sublimation of motherhood. The father has defended and supported the family, but on the mot her has devolved the task of furthering the intimate cooperation on which it depends. Her powers, developed in domestic privacy, can now be put to wider use. She must, as she has always done, regulate consumption and secure internal unity, but on a larger scale. Women, with their new training, emerge into public life precisely when the need for their special gifts begins to be acutely felt. I believe that the maternal State of the future will trust its destinies to them to an extent as yet unimagined, of which the appointment of police women, of women probation officers, and still more the considerable share of women in starting and conducting social enterprises, afford a foretaste. The article by seven presidents of women’s colleges in a late Atlantic gives an enumeration of some of their activities that bears out my idea.


But to return from these far flights to the adventures of a pedagogue among the colleges of to-day.

Every professor who breaks into the magazines is expected to attack or else to defend the rising generation. What can be said by a rueful person whose first instinct is to think it very like its forerunners? Hair, to be sure, is bobbed, though I observe that the fashion is passing. Skirts are short — let us hope that this fashion will remain. To watch bygone class pictures on the screen at commencement time is to enjoy a merry hour. Nor can it be denied that reticences have ceased and standards have altered. This is not all the fault of youth, as anyone can testify who has tried to comfort a distressed girl recoiling in distaste from the prospect of a vacation to be passed either with the divorced mother and stepfather or with the divorced father and stepmother. Small wonder that old values become confused, that youth is quite outspoken, that, for instance, a girl will frankly avow — I have known it done in the classroom — that motherhood often appeals to a woman when marriage does not, or vice versa. Yet, in spite of lip stick, of ‘petting parties,’ of immunity to shock, of occasional graver things, what chiefly impresses me is the curious sameness down the years. In essentials, I find the girls of to-day as sensitive of perception, as morally fastidious, as clean-minded and clean-living, as were their mothers. The talk that goes on round my study fire echoes the talk of the past; for each generation rediscovers ancient problems, and the sometimes taxing business of the teacher is to listen with unflagging sympathy as each supposes that it breaks new trails.

Ordinary remarks concerning the decline in manners and morals do not worry me much, though the manners have changed more than the morals. I am inclined to discredit most of the superficial criticism of the rising generation. On the other hand, I wish I could regard it more confidently as the hope of the world. Youth is always that, of course, but I wonder if the present generation is any more likely to save society than its parents were. When I hear sentiment about the Youth Movement, I always remember that there was a Youth Movement in the time of Disraeli. Youth Movement in side whiskers!

But I should be the last to deny that serious and interesting changes are going on — involving, as changes always do, both good and bad. I seem to reach the heart of them best by notes on my own teaching. One can watch the swing of the current by watching the curve of banks as well as the swish of waters, teachers as well as taught. I find that my objective has altered. I used to work by my own secret methods with primary desire to set young minds free from convention and orthodoxy; of late, my attempt has been to keep them loyal to tradition. . . . No, this is not because I have become more conservative myself. I have n’t!

The two aims are not incompatible; an institution of learning has precisely the function of equal solicitude for both. It must put the student within reach of his full rich heritage, and it must so quicken and train his critical and creative powers that, if may be, he can add new wealth. Neither end is ever neglected by a genuine teacher. But he should be alert to perceive when his emphasis should change. Enslavement to formulæ is a persistent curse, with groups and with individuals. All half-educated minds are under it, and pretty much all young people come to college so enslaved. Our job is to discredit the habit and to shatter the formula, whatever it may be. Rarely have I known a sweeter moment than when the saying was reported to me in the early days of my teaching that a student going into my class orthodox would probably come out a rebel, but one going in unorthodox was quite likely to turn Christian.

Formulas change. Those which too often hold modern youth in a cold and lifeless grip are formulæ of negation. The enslaving code, in relation to authority, is one of resentment rather than appeal. It does not bid, ‘Think this because your ancestors thought it,’ but ‘Think this because it would surely shock your grandfather.’ The one form of slavery is as bad as the other, but I am inclined to think that the modern is the more vulgar. At all events, I have been fighting it hard, trying all along the line to rouse recognition of the force and worth of our racial heritage, and to instill reverence for ancient sanctities. And I am quite unafraid, just at present, that the escape from inhibitions or the rampant desire for self-expression — often before there is much self to express — will be unduly imperiled by my policy. When a mature set of students refuses to respond to Wordsworth’s ‘Ode to Duty,’and remarks to me after class, ‘You see, we learn in our Ethics that those old notions of duty are obsolete,’I know that for me at least the time has come to stress the immutable law in a mutable universe.

As I have said, all change involves both good and bad, and, in spite of the need for a corrective, I think that the rise of a challenging spirit of independence among young people is mainly to the good. If only it can be real independence, and not insolent defiance of restraint, or, which is worse, mere parrot chatter, faint echoes of simian critics among the magazines. Direct thinking is desperately needed among young women. The chief discouragement I have personally met in teaching them is that they are so docile; and this, I fear, is an almost constant quality. They follow their professor like little sheep; and, while a lamb is supposed to be an endearing object, a sheep is not. They persist in giving one’s own thoughts back to one. Now, unless the teacher can arouse a spirit of challenge and criticism, he is defeated; I have often wondered whether, if it had fallen to my lot to teach young men, I should not have met more of this invigorating spirit.

I do not mean that students should not be amenable to guidance. But they should never know that they are being guided. The teacher should create in them the illusion of freedom, as the Almighty creates it in the human race. There is a passage in Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound on which my pedagogic mind has often brooded. In it he describes how a ‘plume-uplifting wind’ drives all spirits on their secret way, while they believe that their swift wings and feet obey the sweet desires within. Yes! The teacher must furnish the ‘plume-uplifting wind,’but the student must feel self-impelled, and when he does n’t, when his plumes won’t be uplifted, but slump, he might better be anywhere than in college.

Of course, independence of mind can never become general. Some students will to the end of time say on an examination paper what they think you want them to say, unaware that by so doing they pass on themselves the relentless judgment reported to the office as C or C—. They have always behaved like that; they will always so behave. The majority acquiesce in the system in which they find themselves and the instruction they receive. But I think this majority grows smaller. The distrust of tradition brings with it a slight rise of student initiative on intellectual lines. Intellectual lines, observe. I do not allude to student self-government, for on that subject I am paradoxically a heretic. I think that it robs young students of essential freedom to expect them to manage their own community fife, and that the system places too heavy a burden of responsibility on an inexperienced and shifting body and distracts their minds from the real interests for which they come to college. No, the initiative I mean appertains to the use of those minds. And here I hail improvement. It appears in the student committees on curricula, springing up here and there; it controls an institution like Brookings. And it seems to me, though I hesitate, that my later classes have had a little more authentic fife than the earlier.

The manifestations of this life are sometimes disconcerting, and I repeat that they call for regulation. But I have always preferred the rebellious to the acquiescent or the lazy. Well I remember one clever girl the other day who had slipped out of the classroom illegally and was being dealt with as woman to woman. Should I have liked it better, she asked, if she had stayed in the room writing a private letter? Was such her classroom custom? I countered. Yes. Whereupon I expressed an ironical fear lest my rapid and sometimes emphatic utterance prove distracting to her. ‘Not at all,’she reassured me frankly. ‘I have excellent concentration.’ We became capital friends, that student and I. Her initiative was real, if a little misapplied. Seldom have I received a better final paper.

But I was sorry that my lectures had not held her. I wish I had pursued the method more of having the class quiz me, instead of quizzing the class myself. When I do it, it works. I open a course by collecting written statements of the questions the students want to discuss, and I assure you that these statements are drawn up by able minds. Through the year the class discusses them, while I often withhold my own views, and at the end I try to ascertain what has happened in our thinking. Whether students know it or not, and they know it better than they used to, their supreme desire is neither for information nor for the ideas of the professor, but for self-expression; and the successful teacher is the one who opens a way ‘ whence the imprisoned splendor may escape.’ ‘For each word she said, she made me say ten,’said an alumna to me about a beloved teacher.

Of course I am thinking of those students for whom the colleges really exist, who have at least a potential passion for the things of the mind. There are plenty of others, fine girls some of them. It is with these I suppose that most of the magazine articles about women’s colleges are concerned. But why pay much attention to them? From the college point of view, their importance is secondary. We were all troubled some time ago by the complaint of a professor of repute that the education which at great cost he had given his daughters had not been worth while. It would be cruel to make the obvious retort. But the truth is that college is a discipline in selection, and not all people choose wisely. So it has always been for men. Recalling what English universities have meant to English life and letters, one recalls also the indifferent lads who stroll through Thackeray’s Oxbridge. Among the young listeners to Socrates were some who became dull citizens, capable of condemning him to death. Probably they were attracted, for the moment, less by the pure idea than by the ‘life’ of that merry group, with their country walks, their good jokes, and their high-spirited enjoyment of one other. It has been the fact that any decently intelligent girl could slip through college with an almost invisible amount of information, culture, or purpose.

But the colleges are entering a new phase. As was hinted earlier, they can now afford, indeed they are forced, to winnow their candidates more carefully. And it is a mooted question what principle of selection to adopt. Are all girls better off for going to college? Ought we to welcome students to whom the ‘life’ is consciously or not the chief inducement? My answer to both questions would be categorically in the negative.

And I think the authorities agree with me. For the second change I note, as significant as the growth in student initiative, is the tendency to abandon our conscientious and, I think, fallacious habit of concentrating effort on the average student. That has seemed to many teachers a democratic duty. But one can be a passionate believer in democracy, and yet perceive spheres in which aristocracy works better. Education is such a sphere, unless democracy and mediocrity are to become synonyms. We have patiently adapted ourselves to the mass, and have shown tender solicitude for the laggard. What if the swifter minds meantime have been neglected? Differentiation is in order; there should be varied types of schools for girls. But in some the policy should be deliberate concentration on the abler students, who arc probably no more valuable to the State than others, but whose needs are different. A salient American lack is met by the present effort of the leading colleges for women to secure a higher intellectual standard, both in choice of students and in classroom policies. The honor courses everywhere multiplying are a cheering sign.

No one can hope that, even when Utopia arrives, all our graduates wilt be liberally educated. In the interim, critics would do well to realize the obstacles in the way: chief among them, the abysmal ignorance of most girls of eighteen, appalling to our English visitors — natural result of early years spent in the Ford car (or the RollsRoyce, if you prefer), which has been not inaptly described as ‘the American home.’

Why worry? Why not ignore the failures — the callous, the untouched, the light-minded? They lose their chance. It is their own affair, and I have no words to say how little the fact concerns me. For are there not always those others — rapt young spirits, burrowing into ideas, greedy for their inheritance, eagerly seizing on one’s every point, whether to challenge or agree? Is there not the memory of those classroom hours when the clock seemed to fly, while fire flashed from mind to mind — hours when ‘the inert were roused and lively natures rapt away’? Never have I known a year in all my forty devoid of such hours; never failed to find in every class students alert and brilliant, whose seeking intelligence has reassured me as to the quality of the American future. How they respond! Ours it may be, as our day stoops to evening, to watch through our own dusty atmosphere young minds rediscovering ancient truths till those truths glow in the light of an eternal dawn. It is a glorious thing to be a teacher! For unless one had first seen the vision, those others might not have caught its light.

I have not taught many foreign students. I confess that when one has come my way, as does happen now and then under the present excellent system of student exchanges, I have been mortified to find her better equipped than our own girls, whether from the point of view of method or of knowledge. And how those students do work! How amazed they are at the amount of time American girls spend on ‘the nonacademic’! But I remind myself that these foreign students are a picked lot. And in the American girls I find a wholesome breadth and freshness, an instinctive drive of the whole nature toward efficient and productive womanhood. They seem years younger than their European contemporaries, and beyond measure more gay. They convey an impression of less intellectual earnestness, to be candid, but of equal moral earnestness, and of more reserve force. But these generalizations are dangerous.


On the part of students, a disquieting distrust of tradition carrying with it a slight increase, cheering as far as it goes, of genuine intellectual independence. On the part of teachers, escape from false obsession by democracy. One more change I note, and it starts with the third group constituting the organism of the college. I mean the trustees. I recognize with pleasure a gradual advance in their idea of the function of the faculty.

At the outset, the women’s colleges had to take what they could get. The article already referred to, by the seven presidents, shows that to-day they dare be satisfied with nothing but the best. And to secure the best more is necessary than generous salaries.

Funny things happened in the early days. The little new colleges drew some brilliant teachers, but some queer ones, too. Well I remember how we fared in English studies. A large lady — an accredited woman of letters, by the way — had reached Milton in a jumpy general course. ’Paradise Lost! Supposed to be a great poem,’ said she. ‘I doubt if you will ever read it through. I’ve done it myself, but it was on a bet from my gentleman admirers.’ That lady departed, her place taken by an exquisite Southern gentlewoman whose burden was: ‘What would you like to read, young ladies? I am quite at your service.’ Her only positive preference I remember was for Tennyson’s ‘Geraint and Enid.’ ‘The most perfect treatment I know of wifely fealty — a virtue I trust every one of you will be called to practise.’ Needless to say, ‘wifely fealty’ became the slogan of the class. ... In all modesty, we do better than that now. I believe no one need feel ashamed of the quality of the teaching force in the main women’s colleges.

But to maintain and raise the standard of excellence it must be realized that the value of a faculty does not consist only in its work for the students, but also in the direct contribution it can make to creative scholarship. Our teachers need more leisure.

Earlier I spoke of the teacher’s joys. But there are sorrows, too. And I do not allude to the little annoyances incident to the profession, as to most group activities — the antagonisms, frictions, suspicions, rivalries. Discount them; they are the useful school of democracy. The difficulty is deeper. An ambitious man or woman, with some touch of intellectual passion, suffers when so pressed with teaching routine that no time remains for personal work. That, till lately, has been the normal situation in our colleges for women. Now people drawn to the teacher’s life are not mercenary. As a rule they would be happily content with a rational living wage, plus assured provision for old age. But the truer scholars they are, the more they want to supplement that instruction of youth in which they delight by advanced study of their own. We shall not for generations reach the standard in these matters of European universities, where only three to six lectures a week are expected from the professor. I am too superficially American in my ideas of efficiency to wish even to see these measurements obtain. (In the Middle Ages, I read the other day, teachers were not allowed to give more than one lesson a day!) But that our emphasis has fallen too exclusively on duty toward the student is patent to me. Especially since the Carnegie Institute has, doubtless inevitably, been forced to change its system from pensioning after twenty-five years of service to pensioning at the age of sixtyfive, the prospects of our scholars being able to reap their harvests when their teaching is done grow faint. It is now or never with them.

Not every teacher worth his salt is writing a book or pursuing an investigation. Heaven forbid! There are differences of gifts in the service of Lord Truth. But the college sinks to the level of a secondary school unless it is by and large a community of scholars; and this means that some of its members cannot always be putting primary stress on pedagogy. From the great foundations of the thirteenth century down, contribution to knowledge has been as important a factor in the institutions of higher learning as instruction of youth. One would be ashamed to write such platitudes were it not that in the colleges for women they have been virtually ignored. Perhaps related to this overvaluation of pure teaching power is the chief criticism that, with some hesitation, I pass on the colleges — their dominant drive rather toward practical efficiency than toward the disinterested enrichment of life. Among both teachers and students one finds the deadly impulse to finish a job: in case of the student, to pass those examinations and be free to forget that old subject; in case of the teacher, to put through that course and be done with it. And perhaps here also is unfortunate reënforcement to the natural but unlucky tendency to measure the value of the teacher by his power to entertain and excite the immature mind rather than by his solid equipment. Sometimes it seems as if animal magnetism were the chief key to student appreciation. Personally, I measure the promise of a student largely by the extent to which she chooses courses independently of the fascinations of the teacher, and ‘takes’ a subject rather than a person.

The situation improves. We even begin to see positions created in which stress is explicitly laid on research rather than on teaching, and a time is in sight when the balance in this matter will be as fair as our practical civilization can expect. That will be a good time for undergraduate as for professor, since the whole tone of the college will be raised. It is a capital thing for students to realize the dignity and importance of the creative work of their teachers, and to have the fact rubbed in that the institution does not exist exclusively in the interests of the undergraduate body.

On the whole, then, I think the situation of the colleges for women full of promise. The larger liberty given the faculty for its own life, the rise of student initiative, the growing sense of responsibility for specialized service to those exceptional minds on whom the future must so much depend, are all good signs. Add gratitude for the wholesome spirit of educational experiment abroad, leading to sundry intellectual adventures on which we have not been able to touch, and the retiring veteran feels of good cheer.


Yet, on the note of facile optimism who would dare to end? This is a difficult age for truth-seekers. I pointed out at the beginning that the chief result of the freer education of women had been to arouse in them a keen desire for purpose. That is the achievement. But the tragedy is that our situation in these strange years makes purpose increasingly hard to discover.

Not so much in practical surface ways. More occupations are opening to girls every day, and any serious young woman can find her niche after a little fumbling. And perhaps nothing more should be asked. But youth craves faith as well as occupation. And clearly to conceive the goal toward which one would fain help civilization press grows harder and harder. Yet the impulses roused by the higher education will be satisfied with nothing less.

Getting educated is not an end in itself, unless to a minute number of potential scholars; nor indeed to all of t hose. In graduate work, above all, our students clamor for some vital use to which their training can be put. Intelligent women are coming to regard with restless distaste the meticulous or commercialized pursuit of the Ph.D. too common in America. I, for one, cannot blame them. It is not unknown for a professor to set his students on bits of research entirely profitless to them, but helpful to him in writing his book. That callous proceeding has never come under my own observation in a women’s college. But it exists. And I think that to pursue study with enthusiasm under such circumstances calls for rare faith in the book of the professor.

In more fundamental ways, however, the direction of energy baffles us all. With what forces shall we invite our students to ally themselves? We do not know; small wonder if they grope, unable to find their bearings. Forty years ago it was different. Formulæ shining clear clamored for allegiance, and youth heard the call.

Democracy was such a formula. Old Carlyle helping, the teacher had always tried to shake American youth out of cocksure satisfaction with our country, but only to restore deeper faith, and to suggest new avenues of chivalric service. But events have dimmed the formula, and the deeper faith is still to seek. Who can thrill to democracy to-day? Or socialism? There was a word charged with magic for some people thirty years ago. To-day it means not one thing but fifty, and the magic has faded. Where are the new formulæ? Not stirring young America. To find either an ardent Fascist or an ardent Bolshevik in a college is extremely rare.

In religion the situation is worse. Youth moves through a fog. A definite attitude was easy in the last century. One could be fervently evangelical; Christian Endeavorers, student volunteers, and others clung to their creedal formulæ with passion. Or one could vehemently deny those formulæ and gain great support from the denial. For a destructive campaign has positive inspiration so long as your enemy is alive, and active, and hurt by you. But attack on an inert foe holds no inspiration, and creeds are too languidly held to-day — pace Bishops Barnes and Brown — to make repudiation of them exciting. Youth, incurably religious, is hard put to it to know where to rebel and where to cling.

The majority of young intellectuals, though not all, have ceased to regard institutional Christianity with either expectation or interest. From creeds in any form they shy away. My students used to write Utopias for me, after reading many Utopias by other people, from Plato and More to H. G. Wells. We had good fun over those ideal states. But one thing in them that struck me year by year was the absence of any churches. The remark would be complacently — and inelegantly — made that there was ‘nothing creedy’ about these perfect citizens. The only provision for corporate religion I recall was in one paper where the happy Utopians sat on their doorsteps in the evening and listened to music in the air. Man was apparently not to use his mind in his religion except to bid it not bother him.

Such papers reflect undergraduate impatience under the mild expectations of the college as to attendance on religious functions. It is a shame to see the congregations fall off, for strong men give their best in the college chapels, though it must be confessed that they too often slay the slain. Alas! Those who would profit most won’t come.

Yet no one knows the colleges intimately without being conscious of intense stir of spiritual desire. Witness the vogue of such an author as Blake. Mysticism is a word to conjure with, till one uses it with caution in topic captions, while its first cousin, our old friend Personal Religion, is viewed with scorn. It is touching to see how minds once directed to the old conceptions are refreshed by them. In the college where I taught, the eagerness for mediæval studies is striking just now. Here a new course offered on request in mediæval Latin; there a student who feeds on Aquinas ‘as if he were bread,’ says her professor; big classes for study of Middle English and Arthurian romance. And, along with all this, hunger for the ultramodern, in philosophy, in art. And for genuine religion anywhere. To be noted is the troubling effect of a man like Bill Simpson on some students. Conviction grows that what leaves these young people cold is never religion, but the conventional garb which even sincere religious faith too often wears. Should there be a change in religious institutions corresponding to the change in feminine dress? Should they become franker and more revealing — that is to say, more outspoken concerning the revolutionary implications of Christian creeds? At all events, the strong spiritual impulses seething among our young people demand a fresh expression. For them the religion of the future must mean not. a creed but a Way; or, rather, creed must point out the Way, imperiously summoning its votaries far from the beaten track.

Youth will be satisfied all along the line only by something unconventional, adventurous, heroic. This is true in the sphere of arts and sciences, in music, sculpture, poetry, where you will. Everywhere appears the restless instinct to press toward a faintly descried future. And the spheres in which this instinct appears most strongly are those of conduct and faith. The ideals which shall gain allegiance must be far beyond the range of accepted creed or domestic virtue. They cannot yet be defined, but it is natural to suppose that they will bear relation to the keen if skeptical interest in bold social experiment, to the search for new forms of personal or corporate sacrifice, and to the repudiation of war.

The rising generation waits. But while it waits it seeks. Who can doubt that it shall find?