During the winter of 1895-96 I was busy writing alternately on this autobiography and “The Woman’s Bible,” and articles for magazines and journals on every possible subject from Venezuela and Cuba to the bicycle. On the latter subject many timid souls were greatly distressed. Should women ride? What should they wear? What are “God’s intentions” concerning them? Should they ride on Sunday? These questions were asked with all seriousness. We had a symposium on these points in one of the daily papers. To me the answer to all these questions was simple—if woman could ride, it was evidently “God’s intention” that she be permitted to do so. As to what she should wear, she must decide what is best adapted to her comfort and convenience. Those who prefer a spin of a few hours on a good road in the open air to a close church and a dull sermon, surely have the right to choose, whether with trees and flowers and singing birds to worship in “That temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” or within four walls to sleep during the intonation of that melancholy service that relegates us all, without distinction of sex or color, to the ranks of “miserable sinners.” Let each one do what seemeth right in her own eyes, provided she does not encroach on the rights of others.
In May, 1896, I again went to Geneva and found the bicycle craze had reached there, with all its most pronounced symptoms; old and young, professors, clergymen, and ladies of fashion were all spinning merrily around on business errands, social calls, and excursions to distant towns. Driving down the avenue one day, we counted eighty bicycles before reaching the post-office. The ancient bandbox, so detested by our sires and sons, has given place to this new machine which our daughters take with them wheresoever they go, boxing and unboxing and readjusting for each journey. It has been a great blessing to our girls in compelling them to cultivate their self-reliance and their mechanical ingenuity, as they are often compelled to mend the wheel in case of accident. Among the visitors at Geneva were Mr. Douglass and his daughter from the island of Cuba. They gave us very sad accounts of the desolate state of the island and the impoverished condition of the people. I had long felt that the United States should interfere in some way to end that cruel warfare, for Spain has proved that she is incompetent to restore order and peace.
[Footnote A: Part II. of “The Woman’s Bible,” which completes the work, will be issued in January, 1898.]
MY EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY.
Without my knowledge or consent, my lifelong friend, Susan B. Anthony, who always seems to appreciate homage tendered to me more highly than even to herself, made arrangements for the celebration of my eightieth birthday, on the 12th day of November, 1895. She preferred that this celebration should be conducted by the National Council of Women, composed of a large number of organizations representing every department of woman’s labor, though, as the enfranchisement of woman had been my special life work, it would have been more appropriate if the celebration had been under the auspices of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association.