HIGHER EDUCATION OP WOMEN.
“In die Erd’ isi’s aufgenommen,
Glucklich ist die Form gefullt;
Wird’s auch schon zu Tage kommen,
Dass es Fleiss und Kunst vergilt?
Wenn der Guss misslang?
Wenn die Form zersprang?
Ach, vielleicht, indem wir hoffen,
Hat uns Unheil schon getroffen.”
SCHILLER, “Das Lied von der Gloeke.”
So far in these pages the education of girls has only been considered up to the age of eighteen or so, that is to the end of the ordinary school-room course. At eighteen, some say that it is just time to go to school, and others consider that it is more than time to leave it. They look at life from different points of view. Some are eager to experience everything for themselves, and as early as possible to snatch at this good thing, life, which is theirs, and make what they can of it, believing that its only interest is in what lies beyond the bounds of childhood and a life of regulated studies; they want to begin to live. Others feel that life is such a good thing that every year of longer preparation fits them better to make the most of its opportunities, and others again are anxious—for a particular purpose, sometimes, and very rarely for the disinterested love of it—to undertake a course of more advanced studies and take active part in the movement “for the higher education of women.” The first will advance as far as possible the date of their coming out; the second will delay it as long as they are allowed, to give themselves in quiet to the studies and thought which grow in value to them month by month; the third, energetic and decided, buckle on their armour and enter themselves at universities for degrees or certificates according to the facilities offered.
There can be no doubt that important changes were necessary in the education of women. About the middle of the last century it had reached a condition of stagnation from the passing away of the old system of instruction before anything was ready to take its place. With very few exceptions, and those depended entirely on the families from which they carae, girls were scarcely educated at all. The old system had given them few things but these were of value; manners, languages, a little music and domestic training would include it all, with perhaps a few notions of “the use of the globes” and arithmetic. But when it dwindled into a book called “Hangnail’s Questions,” and manners declined into primness, and domestic training lost its vigour, then artificiality laid hold of it and lethargy followed, and there was no more education for “young ladies.”