Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 480 pages of information about Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897.

My time was now occupied with riding on horseback, studying the game of chess, and continually squabbling with the law students over the rights of women.  Something was always coming up in the experiences of everyday life, or in the books we were reading, to give us fresh topics for argument.  They would read passages from the British classics quite as aggravating as the laws.  They delighted in extracts from Shakespeare, especially from “The Taming of the Shrew,” an admirable satire in itself on the old common law of England.  I hated Petruchio as if he were a real man.  Young Bayard would recite with unction the famous reply of Milton’s ideal woman to Adam:  “God thy law, thou mine.”  The Bible, too, was brought into requisition.  In fact it seemed to me that every book taught the “divinely ordained” headship of man; but my mind never yielded to this popular heresy.



Mrs. Willard’s Seminary at Troy was the fashionable school in my girlhood, and in the winter of 1830, with upward of a hundred other girls, I found myself an active participant in all the joys and sorrows of that institution.  When in family council it was decided to send me to that intellectual Mecca, I did not receive the announcement with unmixed satisfaction, as I had fixed my mind on Union College.  The thought of a school without boys, who had been to me such a stimulus both in study and play, seemed to my imagination dreary and profitless.

The one remarkable feature of my journey to Troy was the railroad from Schenectady to Albany, the first ever laid in this country.  The manner of ascending a high hill going out of the city would now strike engineers as stupid to the last degree.  The passenger cars were pulled up by a train, loaded with stones, descending the hill.  The more rational way of tunneling through the hill or going around it had not yet dawned on our Dutch ancestors.  At every step of my journey to Troy I felt that I was treading on my pride, and thus in a hopeless frame of mind I began my boarding-school career.  I had already studied everything that was taught there except French, music, and dancing, so I devoted myself to these accomplishments.  As I had a good voice I enjoyed singing, with a guitar accompaniment, and, having a good ear for time, I appreciated the harmony in music and motion and took great delight in dancing.  The large house, the society of so many girls, the walks about the city, the novelty of everything made the new life more enjoyable than I had anticipated.  To be sure I missed the boys, with whom I had grown up, played with for years, and later measured my intellectual powers with, but, as they became a novelty, there was new zest in occasionally seeing them.  After I had been there a short time, I heard a call one day:  “Heads out!” I ran with the rest and exclaimed, “What is it?” expecting to see a giraffe or some other

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Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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