THE NINTH MILESTONE
As time kept whispering its hastening call into my ear I grew more and more vigorous in my outlook. I was given strength to hurry faster myself, with a certain energy to climb higher up, where the view was wider, bigger, clearer. As I moved upward I had but one fear, and that was of looking backward. A minister, entrusted with the charge of souls, cannot afford to retrace his steps. He must go on, and up, to the top of his abilities, of his spiritual purposes.
In the midst of a glorious summer, I refused to see the long shadows of departing day; in the midst of a snow deep winter, I declined to slip and slide as I went on. So it happened that a great many gathered about me in the tabernacle, because they felt that I was passing on, and they wanted to see how fast I could go. I aimed always for a higher place and the way to get up to it, and I took them along with me, always a little further, week by week.
The pessimists came to me and said that the world would soon have a surplus of educated men, that the colleges were turning out many nerveless and useless youngsters, that education seemed to be one of the follies of 1885. The fact was we were getting to be far superior to what we had been. The speeches at the commencement classes were much better than those we had made in our boyhood. We had dropped the old harangues about Greece and Rome. We were talking about the present. The sylphs and naiads and dryads had already gone out of business. College education had been revolutionised. Students were not stuffed to the Adam’s apple with Latin and Greek. The graduates were improved in physique. A great advance was reached when male and female students were placed in the same institutions, side by side. God put the two sexes together in Eden, He put them beside each other in the family. Why not in the college?
There were those who seemed to regard woman as a Divine afterthought. Judging by the fashion plates of olden times, in other centuries, the grand-daughters were far superior to the grand-mothers, and the fuss they used to make a hundred years ago over a very good woman showed me that the feminine excellence, so rare then, was more common than it used to be. At the beginning of the nineteenth century a woman was considered well educated if she could do a sum in rule of three. Look at the books in all departments that are under the arms of the school miss now. I believe in equal education for men and women to fulfil the destiny of this land.
For all women who were then entering the battle of life, I saw that the time was coming when they would not only get as much salary as men, but for certain employments they would receive higher wages. It would not come to them through a spirit of gallantry, but through the woman’s finer natural taste, greater grace of manner, and keener perceptions. For these virtues she would be worth ten per cent. more to her employer than a man. But she would get it by earning it, not by asking for it.