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All right* reserved 



ft ^(A£ 



It has often been urged that a record should be 
preserved of some of the first efforts by means of 
which the medical profession of our day has been 
opened to women. 

In the belief that a large providential guidance 
may often be recognised in the comparatively trivial 
incidents of an individual life, this request of many 
friends is here complied with. 

The possession of old journals and of family 
correspondence gives accuracy to these details of 
past years. 

Hastixoh, 1895. 






Family Life in England — Walks around Bristol — May Mis- 
sionary Meetings — A Vivid Beminiscence — Bristol Biots — 
'Early Beligious Impressions — Emigration to the United 
States — Schooldays in New York — Anti-slavery — Bemoval 
to Ohio— The Struggle of Life — Establishment of Boarding- 
school — The Wider Education of Women— Join the Episcopal 
Church — Oeneral Harrison's Election — ^Transcendentalism 
— The Bev. W. H. Ghanning'-s Congregation — Experiences 
in Henderson, Kentucky 




The Medical Idea taking Shape^<— Lack of an Absorbing Object 
— Objection to falling in Love — Struggles with Disinclina- 
tion to the Study of Medicine— The Moral Aspect of the 
Work conquers — Besolution to earn Money for Study — 
Journey to j^.sheville, N.C. —Life in Ashe ville-^ Journey to 

Charleston, S.C Teaching at Mrs. du Pr6*s — Beading 

Medicine with Dr. S- H. Dickson — Sivori Concerts— Calhoun 
on States Bights — Dr. Warrington on Medical Study — 
Boarding-school Experiences— Summer at Aiken, S.C. .. 26 






Searching for a College — ^Application to Colleges of Philadelphia 
and New York — Interviews with Professors— Anatomical 
Study with Dr. Allen — Lectures at Dr. Warrington's— Ap- 
plication to other Schools — Joyful Besult — Life at College — 
Residence in Blockley Almshouse — Graduation ... 58 




Glimpse of the Black Country — Visit to Medical Institutions 
of Birmingham — Stay in London — Fashionable Life — Visits : 
to Dr. Carpenter, to Professor Owen, to St. Thomas's 
Hospital, to Dr. Wilkinson — Leave for Paris — Descriptive ^ 
Letters —Interview with Lamartine — Interview with Police 
Ofl&cial, with M. Louis — Difficulties to be overcome — 
Political Troubles in Paris — Entrance into La Maternity — 
Severe Life there — Friendship with the Interne — A Sortie 
and Hypnotic S^nce — Serious Accident — Visit to Graf en- 
berg — Life there — Firpt Patient— Study in London — Admis- 
sion to St. Bartholomew's — Visit to Rev. Dr. Leifchild — 
Hospital Experiences — Medical Scepticism awakens— Letter 
to Dr. S. H. Dickson — Social Belaxation — Woman *s Bights 
Movement in the United States — Visit to Miss Nightingale — 
Visit to Lady Byron — Opening of the Great Exhibition — 
Anxious Discussion as to remaining in England — Farewell 
Visits— Last Days in England 9C 




Settlement in New York — First Medical Consultation — Lectures 
on the Physical Education of Girls — Formation of Inde- 
pendent Dispensary— Quaker Help— Incorporation of the 



New York Infirmary, 1854— Letters descriptive of Early 
Difi&culties— Purchase of House — Adoption of Child — ^First 
Drawing-room Address— Sister resolves to study— Letters 
to her whilst in Europe — ^Am using Experience with Dr. 
Simpson of Edinburgh — Joined by Dr. Emily Blackwell in 
New York 190 




Letter from Paris — Acquaintance with Dr. Tr61at of La Salp6- 
tri^re — Addresses given in England — Besult of London 
Addresses — Circular for proposed Hospital — ^Letters from 
London — Registered as English Physician, 1859 — Beasons 
for returning to New York — Work there continued — Civil 
War — Ladies' Sanitary Aid Association established— Inci- 
dents of the War — Establishment of Infirmary Medical 
School — Letters from Miss Elizabeth Garrett — Sanitary 
Work of the New York Infirmary 213 



The Social Science Congress of 1869— Medical Work— Health 

Work— Moral Work 241 

Appendix 255 




It is a great advantage to have been born one of a 
large family group of healthy, active children, sur- 
rounded by wholesome influences. 

The natural and healthy discipline which chil- 
dren exercise upon one another, the variety of tastes 
and talents, the cheerful companionship, even the 
rivalries, misunderstandings, and reconciliations 
where free play is given to natural disposition, under 
wise but not too rigid oversight, form an excellent 
discipline for after-life. 

Being the third daughter in a family of nine 
brothers and sisters, who grew up to adult life 
with strong ties of natural affection, I enjoyed this 

My earliest recollections are connected with the 
house in Bristol, No. 1 Wilson Street, near Portman 
Square, to which the family removed from Counter- 
slip, where I was bom, when I was about three 



years old. My childish remembrances are chiefly 
associated with my elder sisters, for being born be- 
tween two baby brothers, who both died in infancy, 
I naturally followed my sisters' lead, and was allowed 
to be their playmate. 

Our Wilson Street home had the advantage of 
possessing a garden behind it, containing fine trees ; 
and also a large walled garden opposite to it, with 
fruit trees and many flowers and shrubs, which 
afforded us endless delight and helped to create an 
early love of Nature. 

I cannot recall the sequel of incidents in this 
period of my life, for being so young when we moved 
to Wilson Street, the recollections of those early 
years are confused ; but some things stand out, dis- 
tinctly impressed on the memory. 

My eldest sister had become possessed of a small 
telescope, and gazing through one of the garret win- 
dows, we thought we could spy the Duchess of 
Beaufort's woods over the tops of the houses. There 
was a parapet running along the front of the house, 
and we were seized with a desire for a more exten- 
sive view through the precious telescope than the 
garret window afforded, so a petition for liberty to 
go on to the roof was sent to papa in our names by 
my lively eldest sister. The disappointing answer 
soon came : 

Anna, Bessie, and Polly, Your request is mere folly, 
The leads are too high For those who can't fly. 
If I let you go there, I suppose your next prayer 
Will be for a hop To the chimney top I 


So I charge you three misses, Not to show your phizes 
On paxapet wall, Or chimney so tall, 
But to keep on the earth, The place of your birth. 
* Even so,* says papa. ' Amen,' says mama. ' Be it so,' 
says Aunt Bar. 

The Aunt Barbara here referred to was a maiden 
sister of my father's, a somewhat stern though up- 
right ruler of our youngest days ; but the dear 
father, with his warm affection, his sense of fun, 
and his talent for rhyming, represented a beneficent 
Providence to me from my earliest recollection. 

Another very vivid remembrance of that first 
period of childhood remains. My father was an 
active member of the * Independent ' body, belonging 
to the Eev. Mr. Leifchild's Bridge Street congrega- 
tion, and the May missionary meetings were a great 
event to us children, for, taking lunch with us, we 
sometimes picnicked in the gallery of the selected 
chapel, and divided our time between listening to 
thrilling stories of the missionaries and more physi- 
cal pleasures. A number of these rather jolly 
divines often dined at our house, and the dinner 
party of the ministers was one of the incidents of 
the May meetings. There was a certain Mr. Burnet 
of Cork, who used to keep the table in a roar. To 
be allowed to dine and listen at a side-table was in- 
deed a treat. But on one occasion, my name, alas ! 
was in the Black Book, for some childish misde- 
meanour — I forget what ; but the punishment I well 
remember. I was sent up to the attics, instead of 
being allowed to join the dinner party. Upstairs in 

B 2 


the dark I leaned over the banisters, watched the 
light stream out from the dining-room as the servants 
carried the dishes in and out, and listened to the 
cheerful buzz of voices and frequent peals of laughter 
as the door opened. I felt very miserable, with also 
a sense of guilt that I should have been so wicked 
as to let my name get into the Black Book, for I 
always accepted, without thought of resistance, the 
decrees of my superiors. The fact that those in 
authority were capable of injustice or stupidity was 
a perception of later growth. 

The impression made by this little incident on a 
childish mind was curiously shown on my revisiting 
Bristol, after an absence of nearly forty years. 
Wishing to see the scene of my early childhood, I 
called at the Wilson Street house, and its occupants 
kindly allowed me to enter my old home, the home 
which I remembered as so large, but which then 
looked so small. All was changed. The pleasant 
walled-in garden across the street, with its fine fruit 
trees, where we played for hours together with a 
neighbour's children, was turned into a carpenter's 
yard. The long garden behind the house, with its 
fine trees, and stable opening into a back street, was 
built over ; but as I stood in the hall and looked up, 
I suddenly seemed to see a little childish face peep- 
ing wistfully over the banisters, and the whole scene 
of that dining-room paradise, from which the child 
was banished, rose vividly before me. 

But a stranger incident still occurred as I stood 
there. The sound of a latch-key was heard in the 


hall-door, and a figure, that I at once recognised as 
my father's, in a white flannel suit, seemed to enter 
and look smihngly at me. It was only a momentary 
mental vision, but it was wonderfully vivid; and 
I then remembered what I had utterly forgotten — 
forgotten certainly for forty years — that our father 
would sometimes remain late at his sugar-house, 
and come home in the white flannel suit worn in 
the heated rooms of the refinery, letting himself into 
the house with a rather peculiar latch-key. 

Far clearer and more varied recollections are, 
however, connected with the house in Nelson Street, 
to which we moved in 1824, and whence the family 
emigrated to New York in 1832. 

This comfortable family home, made by throwing 
two houses together, with its walled-in courtyard 
leading to the sugar refinery and my father's offices* 
was our town residence for eight very happy years. 
Here the group of brothers and sisters grew up to- 
gether, taking daily walks with our governess into 
the lovely environs of the then small town. We 
became familiar with St. Vincent's Eocks and the 
Hot Wells, with Clifton Down and Leigh Woods, 
which were not built on then. The Suspension 
Bridge across the Avon was a thing of the future, 
and Cook's Folly stood far away on the wild Durd- 
ham Down. In another direction. Mother Pugsley's 
field, with its healing spring, leading out of Kings- 
down Parade, was a favourite walk — for passing 
down the fine avenue of elms we stood at the great 
iron gates of Sir Eichard Vaughan's place, to admire 


the peacocks, and then passed up the lane towards 
Bedland, where violets grew on the grassy banks 
and natural curiosities could be collected. All these 
neighbourhoods were delightfully free and open. 
Our governess encouraged our natural tastes, and 
the children's pennies were often expended in pur- 
chasing the landscape stones and Bristol diamonds 
offered for sale on Clifton Down. In still another 
direction, the * Brook,* leading through pleasant 
fields to the distant Beaufort woods, had a never- 
ending charm. Daily, and often twice a day, the 
group of children with their governess wandered to 
these pleasant spots. In the summer time Weston- 
super-Mare and Clevedon gave endless seaside de- 
lights, and furnished a charming picture-gallery 
through all the subsequent wanderings of later 

During the last years of our Bristol life, a house 
at Olveston, about nine miles from town, was rented 
as a summer residence. This afforded fresh delight. 
Not only was the neighbourhood beautiful, and 
interesting with views of the Welsh mountains 
seen across the Severn from a high common near 
by, and the remains of an old abbey where wolves' 
heads were formerly taken as tribute still remained ; 
but the large, well-stocked garden was separated 
from the orchard by a rapid stream, over which two 
tiny bridges were thrown. 

To active, imaginative children this little domain 
was a source of never-ending enjojnnent, whether 
cherishing pet animals, cultivating gardens, or play- 


ing Eobinson Crusoe. When not staying in town 
we lived in this pleasant place, my father driving 
out from business daily. 

Only on rare occasions did any of the children go 
to school. Governesses and masters at home sup- 
plied the necessary book knowledge ; and a passion 
for reading grew up, which made the present of a 
new book the greatest delight, and our own pocket- 
money was chiefly spent in buying books. 

Whilst the home life was thus rich and satisfying 
to children, echoes from the outside world came 
vaguely to us. The Bristol Eiots took place during 
this period, and I remember watching the glare of 
incendiary fires from the heights round our country 
home. Also I vividly recall the * chairing * of Bright 
and Protheroe, with their red and yellow colours, 
and the illumination of the house and premises in 
Nelson Street, in honour of this Liberal victory. 

Our interest was early enlisted in the anti-slavery 
struggle then vigorously proceeding in England, and 
Wilberforce was an heroic name. The children 
voluntarily gave up the use of sugar, as a * slave 
product,' although it was only in later years, when 
living in America, that they threw themselves 
ardently into the tremendous fight. 

My father was an active member of the Inde- 
pendent body, and strongly opposed to the Esta- 
blished Church. *Eags of Popery' was a phrase 
early learned in a parrot-like way. But a very 
strong sense of religion was early implanted. The 
Bible was held in affectionate reverence. Mrs» 


Sherwood's stories were favourite books ; and 
although we soon learned to skip the endless dis- 
quisitions on metaphysical dogmas which they con- 
tained, yet goodness, gentleness, and reverence were 
inseparably blended with breezy commons, lovely 
woods, clear streams, and waterfalls, from reading 
those charming story-books. Eeligion thus became 
associated with all that was beautiful in Nature and 
lovely in social life. 

Mtiller and Craik, the founders of the Plymouth 
Brethren, were then beginning their work in Bristol, 
and I was much impressed by the earnest eloquence 
of the young Scotch evangelist. 


The first eleven years of life had been passed 
under these happy influences of a healthy English 
home, when a great change of social surroundings 
took place, by my father's emigration to the United 
States with his large and increasing family. 

Early life in America. — In the month of August 
1832, the family party of eight children and seven 
adults sailed from Bristol in the merchant ship 
* Cosmo,' reaching New York in about seven 

The cholera was raging in England when we 
left ; we found New York comparatively deserted, 
from the same cause, when we arrived, and several 
steerage passengers died during the voyage ; but the 
family party remained in good health, and the ocean 


life furnished delightful experiences to the younger 

The following six years were spent in New York 
and its suburb, Jersey City, across the bay. 

As daily pupil in an excellent school in New 
York, entering ardently into the anti-slavery struggle, 
attending meetings and societies, the years passed 
rapidly away. Our brothers being younger than 
the three elder sisters, habits of unconscious inde- 
pendence amongst the sisters were formed, which 
became a matter of course. 

Often in returning home from some evening 
meeting in New York the hourly ferry-boat would 
be missed, and we have crossed by the eleven or 
twelve o'clock boat, with no sense of risk or ex- 
perience of annoyance. 

We became acquainted with William Lloyd 
Garrison and other noble leaders in the long and 
arduous anti-slavery struggle. Garrison was a wel- 
come guest in our home. He was very fond of 
children, and would delight them with long repeti- 
tions of Eussian poetry. 

But fierce antagonisms were already aroused by 
this bitter struggle ; and on one occasion the Eev. 
Samuel H. Cox, a well-known Presbyterian clergy- 
man, and his family, sought refuge at our country 
house. This gentleman had stated in the pulpit 
that the Lord Jesus belonged to a race with darker 
skins than ours. At once the rumour went abroad 
that * Dr. Cox had called Jesus Christ a nigger,' and 
it was resolved forthwith to lynch him ! So he came 


out to our country house on Long Island until the 
storm had blown over. 

Bemoval to OhiOy 1838. — ^When I was seventeen 
years old my father removed from New York with 
his family to Cincinnati, then a small but flourish- 
ing town, on the Ohio Eiver, where a promising 
opening for the extension of his business presented 

We left New York full of hope and eager antici- 
pation. We were delighted with the magnificent 
scenery of the mountains and rivers as we crossed 
Pennsylvania by canal and stage (for it was before 
the time of railways), and sailed down the noble 
Ohio Eiver, then lined with forests. With eager en- 
joyment of new scenes, the prosperous little Western 
town was reached. It was picturesquely situated 
on a plateau, overlooking the river, and surrounded 
by pleasant hills. 

For a few months we enjoyed the strange inci- 
dents of early Western civilisation, so different from 
the older society of the East. 

Amongst other curious experiences, we attended 
a public Fourth of July picnic, held in the neighbour- 
ing woods. At this festival, the well-known * Gome- 
outers ' ^ — the Wattles brothers — were the chief 
speakers. Augustus, the elder, had estabhshed in 
the unsettled districts of the West what he called 
* Humanity's Barn,' where any human being might 

' A term then applied in the West to those who were dissatisfied 
with every phase of our social life ; they were generally noticeable 
for their long hair and peculiar mode of dressing. 


find a night's shelter. His younger brother, John, 
was a chief speaker on this special occasion, and he 
concluded his speech with the following (to us) 
astounding sentiment, which was loudly applauded 
by the large assembly present — viz. : * Priests, Law- 
yers, and Doctors, the Trinity of the Devil ! * 

But all these curious experiences were suddenly 
checked by a catastrophe which compelled us to 
face the stem realities of Ufe, in the strange land to 
which we had just removed, without friends or 
pecuniary resources. This was the sudden death of 
our earthly Providence. 

The hot, oppressive summer of that Western 
climate proved too much for the English constitution 
of our father. Within a few months of our arrival 
in Cincinnati he died, after a short illness, from 
bilious fever, leaving his widow and nine children 
entirely unprovided for. 

This irreparable loss completely altered our lives. 
Recovering from the first effects of the stunning 
blow, we began to realise our position, and the heavy 
responsibilities henceforth devolving on us. The 
three elder sisters set zealously to work, and in time 
established a day and boarding school for young 
ladies ; whilst our eldest brother obtained a situation 
in the Court House of Cincinnati, under Major 

For the next few years, until the younger chil- 
dren grew up and were able gradually to share in 
the work, we managed to support the family and 
maintain a home. 


During this long struggle our minds rapidly 
opened to new views of social and religious duty in 
the untrammelled social atmosphere of the West. 

The wider education of women was a subject 
then coming to the front ; and we three sisters 
threw ourselves with ardour into the public con- 
ferences held in Cincinnati on this subject, actively 
supporting our staunch champion Lawyer Johnston, 
who ably opposed the reactionary efforts of the Eomau 
Catholic Archbishop Purcell in his endeavour to 
check the liberal tendencies of the age in relation 
to women's education. 

About this time we had joined the Episcopal 
Church, being confirmed by the venerable Bishop 
Mcllvaine of Ohio. We became members of St. 
Paul's Church, of which the Eev. H. V. Johns was 
rector, entering heartily into its social life and 
teaching in its Sunday-school. We shared also in 
the stirring political contest which took place when 
General Harrison defeated Van Buren, the *Loco- 
f oco ' ^ candidate for the presidency. We attended 
political conventions and public meetings, and joined 
in singing political songs. It was a most exciting 

Some years later, the New England Transcen- 
dental movement spread to the West. It was the 
era of the Brook Farm experiment. We became 
acquainted with the very intelligent circle of New 
England society settled in Cincinnati, of which the 

' The popular name for the Democratic as opposed to the 
Repablican candidate. 


Rev. W. H. Channing was the attractive centre. 
This gentleman, nephew of Dr. Ellery Channing 
of Boston, and father of our present parlia- 
mentary representative of the Kettering Division 
of Northamptonshire, was afterwards well known 
in Liverpool and in London. He was a man 
of rare moral endowments and eloquence as a 
speaker. His social influence on a limited circle 
was remarkable. Men of thought and active intelli- 
gence gathered round him. Men from New England 
who were then intellectual leaders of Cincinnati 
thought — such as James Perkins, C. P. Cranch, 
William Greene, and Judge Walker — formed a society 
of which he was the inspiring centre, a society which 
strongly attracted us. The * Dial,' and afterwards the 
' Harbinger,' with its anticipation of social reorganisa- 
tion, were then appearing. The writings of Cousin, 
Carlyle, and Fourier were keenly studied, and 
Emerson was revolutionising American thought. I 
well remember the glowing face with which I found 
Mr. Channing reading a book just received. * Sit 
down,' he cried, * and listen to this ! ' and forthwith 
he poured forth extracts from Emerson's essays. 

Notwithstanding our close and arduous teaching 
occupations, we eagerly shared in the active awaken- 
ing of thought that marked the time, and joined 
the Church of which Mr. Channing was minister. 

In the year 1842, our elder brothers entering 
into business, the boarding-school was given up, and 
I occupied myself with private pupils. Whilst still 
engaged in this way I was invited to take charge of 


a girls* district school, to be established in the town 
of Henderson, situated in the western part of Ken- 
tucky. The invitation seemed to promise useful 
remunerative work, so it was accepted. 

The region of Kentucky, where I then went, was 
a tobacco-growing district. I there gained my first 
practical experience of negro slavery and the crude 
civilisation of a Western slave State. 

This being my first separation from the family, a 
constant correspondence was kept up with home. 
Some extracts from these letters will give a curious 
glimpse of Kentucky rural life fifty years ago. 

Henderson : March 5, 1844. 

No doubt you've reproached me for my silence, after 
promising to write the second day from my arrival, but 
we had a very long trip, and it was not till the morning 
of the fourth day that I set my foot in the mud of 
Henderson. The * Chieftain ' left Cincinnati at two o'clock 
Wednesday morning, and in seven hours we made twenty 
miles. All seemed lazy on board the boat. The first 
night we laid up, on account of the fog ; the second we 
spent at Louisville, the third at Evansville ; we had on 
board a quantity of green wood, and stopped continually 
to take in fresh supplies. The captain, a fat, red-faced, 
good-natured fellow, went to sleep, or took matters very 
easily. As we entered the canal at Louisville he was 
standing on the hurricane-deck, at the head of the boat, 
apparently fast asleep ; the helmsman steered imme- 
diately for the rough stone wall of the canal, and with a 
tremendous shock smashed in a great deal of the wood- 
work in the fore part of the boat. The captain gave one 
jump, wrung his hands, spun round, and went to sleep 
again. In the morning I went with Mr. S. into Louisville ; 


there I got my watch-key mended (a providential piece of 
foresight, for 'twould have been impossible here), bought 
various Httle things, and saw also the famed Kentucky 
giant, and bade good-bye to Louisville, having been five 
hours passing through the canal. One afternoon Mr. S. 
was playing on his guitar on the side deck, when a great 
rough-looking boy made his appearance, and addressed 
me : * The ladies sent me to tell you to bring your man 
into the cabin, that he may sing for them.' I translated 
for the man's benefit, and a good hearty laugh we had. 
One of Mr. S.'s favourite amusements was to stand on the 
hurricane-deck with me and joke about my milage ; every 
two or three dirty -looking shanties that we passed he would 
tell me to look out, for he had a presentiment that we 
were reaching Henderson. I grew almost nervous as we 
were approaching the situation, for really all the httle 
towns we had passed looked so straggling, dingy, and 
uninteresting that it appeared to me almost impossible 
for a decent individual to inhabit them ; you may imagine 
how I felt standing, for the last time, on a bright Satur- 
day morning, with my last friend and remaining piece of 
civilisation, awaiting my destiny. The clerk approached. 
* Madam, we have reached Henderson ; ' the boat turns, I 
give one glance, three dirty old frame buildings, a steep 
bank covered with mud, some negroes and dirty white 
people at the foot, and behold all that I could see of my 
future home. I looked resolutely down, exclaiming (to 
my French friend), * Laide, vilain, horrible ! ' but the boat 
touched and I was hurried off. Upon my inquiring for 
Dr. Wilson, a rough-looking man presented his arm, 
three negroes seized my trunks, to * tote them up,' the 
steamboat shoved off, and I followed my companion — 
holding his hand to prevent myself shpping down the 
bank. In the middle of the mud I stopped to see the 
last of our friend and civihsation; we waved our hand- 


kerchiefs till the boat was out of sight, and then, gulping 
down my tears and giving a few convulsive laughs, we 
proceeded on our way through a dirty, Httle, straggling, 
country village ; we stopped before a small frame house, 
entered a low, shabbily-furnished room, where a poorly- 
dressed, sleepy-looking woman was introduced as Mrs. 
Wilson. I longed to be shown to my bedroom, for my 
head was in a perfect whirl, but I had to sit down and 
talk about I know not what. At last I ventured to 
request permission to go upstairs ; the daughter showed 
me up old, crooked, creaking steps, and opened the bed- 
room door. How shall I describe it ? A Httle window 
looking upon the side of a house not two yards from it, 
the rough board walls daubed with old whitewash, the 
bed, the furniture, dirty, covered with litter and dust, all 
gloomy and wretched. My disposition to cry vanished 
at once, tears froze far below zero ; I smiled on my com- 
panion, who stood examining me, and asked to have my 
trunks carried up. This request brought my hostess, 
who with some confusion told me, * This was not to be 
my home, but that her niece was gone to make some 
preparations for my reception and would take me there 
in the evening, she being perfectly aware that I could not 
live in such a hole.' The word * hole ' revived me ; the 
inhabitants of Henderson were, then, not perfectly blind ; 
they had some Httle consciousness that there were degrees 
of decency; there was a small ray of comfort in that 
little word * hole.' I descended, and soon found that every- 
thing proceeded with real Kentucky slowness. Begin to 
teach on Monday ! This was utterly impossible ! The idea 
seemed to them preposterous, the schoolhouse was hardly 
selected, the windows were broken, the floor and waUs 
filthy, the plaster fallen off, the responsible trustees not 
appointed, the scholars unnotified of my arrival ; no, 'twas 
impossible, I must wait a week ; but the idea of spending 


an unnecessary week in Henderson was insupportable, 
so I urged and argued, and persuaded and ran about, till 
a man was sent to mend the windows, and another to 
clean the floor, and the Eesponsibles came to visit me, 
and promised to collect the scholars, and on Monday I 
was to begin. Then, to avoid the necessity of having to sit 
and repeat wearisome inanities, I set out, accompanied 
by the daughter, to view the so-called city. All looked 
dreary on a dull winter day — in fact, Henderson is a very 
small, very uninteresting country place, though, it must 
be confessed, the view of it from the river is the worst of 
all. Towards evening I took a look at my schoolhouse ; 
nothing was done but mischief. The old negro had flooded 
the muddy floor with water and gone away, leaving the 
floor like the bed of the Nile ; 'twas now too late to get 
the place into order. The people are very pious, nothing 
could be done Sunday ; so, cursing the laziness of a slave 
society, I resigned myself to fate, and followed my young 
hostess — a tall, graceful, sleepy-eyed girl — to my new- 

A substantial, rough brick house opened its enormous 
gates to receive me. I entered a small, high-ceilinged 
bedroom, where I was to make one of fottr, and then my 
conductress ghded away to bring her mother and two 
other sisters. The sight of the sisters somewhat consoled 
me, because I immediately hoped to be able to teach for 
my board. The mother received me with good-nature, 
and ever since I've been here the whole family have 
treated me with kindness to the extent of their know- 
ledge, one portion of which is never to leave me alone, 
and I, who so love a hermit life for a good part of the 
day, find myself living in pubhc, and almost losing my 
identity. Well, Sunday, and a refreshing Presbyterian 
sermon, of an eternity's duration, I must leave to your 
imagination. Monday I ran about, and at last seated 



myself in Dr. Wilson's parlour, where I received a visit 
from one of the Eesponsibles, a fussy, pompous little 
doctor, who talked grandly ^ whereupon I talked grandlier, 
upon which he told me this was an epoch in the history 
of Henderson. Then in came the other Eesponsibles, 
when I spoke and they rejoined, and the little doctor 
called to order, and after a wonderful quantity of fuss 
the schoolhouse was pitched upon, put into something 
like order, and on Tuesday morning I took my seat at 
the head of fourteen girls, and organised my school. 

March 20, 1844. — So far as I can learn I give general 
satisfaction, but I beheve the people are a Uttle afraid of 
me, particularly when they see me read German (for I 
often forget myself with Hoffman). I am amused to 
learn accidentally how I have been talked over in every 
direction, and my teeth particularly admired in peculiarly 
Kentucky style. *Well, I do declare she's got a clean 
mouth, hasn't she ! ' — white teeth seeming remarkable 
where all use tobacco ! All the chief people of the place 
have called on me, which plagues me dreadfully, as I 
have to return the calls, and find them in the lowest 
degree uninteresting, with nothing to do but knit, nothing 
to hear but their own petty affairs. Then they are most 
unmerciful in the length of visit. If they live in what is 
called out of town, nothing will satisfy but giving up the 
afternoon, taking tea, and sleeping. The sleeping I have 
victoriously fought against, but the rest I have sometimes 
been betrayed into, and have sat hour after hour striving 
dreadfully to take an interest in the gossip, swallowing 
yawns until my eyes watered, and then suddenly awaking 
out of a long reverie on all of you to the consciousness 
that everybody is sitting in an awkward silence, and that 
it is absolutely necessary to say something. The first 
evening I so spent I was rejoicing at the prospect of 
escape, for the watches had been pulled out, and it 


was declared late (half -past eight), when I was taken 
quite by surprise by seeing the Episcopal clergyman who 
was present seat himself by the table with a large Bible 
before him, wipe his spectacles, and^give a preparatory 
hem! I gave an inward groan, sat down again and 
looked with a long face steadily at the fire, whilst a 
north-wester was blowing all the time through a crack of 
the door into my ear. As we knelt down, and I looked 
roimd at the funny kneehng figures and up at the walls 
of a real log cabin, and on one side at the immense wood 
fire, it all seemed so very odd that I almost began to 
doubt my own identity. 

We have had miserable weather for more than a 
week. The house, though substantially built of brick, 
with a deep verandah all roimd, is dreadfully cold ; the 
two immense brick-paved halls, which cross in the centre, 
have great doors almost always open. The four rooms 
occupying the four comers, in one of which we sleep, 
have chimneys, all of which smoke. Then none of the 
windows seem to fit, and there are holes in the wall 
where the plaster has been knocked off, and will be re- 
placed, I suppose, next doomsday. 'Tis pretty much the 
same in the schoolhouse. There, one very cold day, I 
drew my feet on the bar of my chair, then I put on my 
worsted gloves, then drew on my blanket shawl; and, 
finally, finding a great blowing about my head from 
everywhere in general, I put on my hood I . . . 

April 4. — The young ladies and gentlemen of Hender- 
son are most contemptible walkers, opening wide their 
eyes at the idea of two or three miles, and telling doleful 
tales of blistered feet, wild bulls, and furious dogs, of 
which latter there is certainly a larger supply than at 
any place I have ever seen. Every negro has his pet 
dog, the more savage the better, and all the masters 
follow their example. 

c 2 


I had a good fright from some of them yesterday, as I 
was returning from school. I'd no sooner crossed the 
steps that lead into the lawn than an enormous brindled 
fellow, with black, devilish face, sprang furiously towards 
me, followed by two others, barking and showing their 
horrid jaws. Now, thought I, my time has come ! I 
hesitated whether I should endeavour to tear their mouths 
open, or jump upon them and crush them, should the 
worst arrive. I involuntarily thought of A., who has a 
horror of dogs, and then called out in my blandest tones, 
' Poor fellows ; po-or fellows ! ' The voice had the desired 
effect, and instead of having to fight Samson-wise, the 
gentlemen contented themselves with jumping upon me 
and knocking my dinner-tray out of my hand. I am in 
general quite a favourite with the canine race, and have 
not the slightest fear of them, which the ladies here can 
hardly beUeve, as their life is almost a torment to them 
for fear of dogs and cows ; indeed, I would always sooner 
meet a dozen dogs than one negro, and the only un- 
easiness I have in taking my long, solitary walks pro- 
ceeds from this ; for of all brutes the human brute is the 
worst, and I never meet one in a lonely place without 
feeling a sudden perspiration. 

I dislike slavery more and more every day ; I suppose 
I see it here in its mildest form, and since my residence 
here I have heard of no use being made of the whipping- 
post, nor any instance of downright cruelty. (It was 
really meant as an act of hospitality when they placed a 
little negro girl as a screen between me and the fire the 
other day !) But to Uve in the midst of beings degraded 
to the utmost in body and mmd, drudging on from 
earhest morning to latest night, cuffed about by everyone, 
scolded at all day long, blamed unjustly, and without 
spirit enough to reply, with no consideration in any way 
for their feehngs, with no hope for the future, smelling. 


horribly, and as ugly as Satan — to live in their midst, 
utterly unable to help them, is to me dreadful, and what 
I would not .do long for any consideration. Meanwhile 
I treat them civilly, and dispense with their services as 
much as possible, for which I believe the poor creatures 
despise me. The mistresses pique themselves on the 
advantageous situation of their blacks ; they positively 
think them very well off, and triumphantly compare their 
position with that of the poor in England and other 
countries. I endeavour, in reply, to sUde in a little truth 
through the small apertures of their minds, for were I 
to come out broadly with my simple, honest opinion I 
should shut them up tight, arm all their prejudices, and do 
ten times more harm than good. I do long to get hold 
of someone to whom I can talk frankly; this constant 
smiling and bowing and wearing a mask provokes me 
intolerably ; it sends me internally to the other extreme, 
and I shall soon, I think, rush into the woods, vihfy 
Henderson, curse the Whigs, and rail at the Orthodox, 
whose bells have been going in a fruitless effort at re- 
vivals ever since I have been here. Not, mind, mother, 
that I really have such diabolical feehngs against the 
poor Orthodox in general and particular, but I have an 
intense longing to scream, and everyone here speaks in a 

My school, I think I have told you, is limited to twenty- 
one ; it has been full for some time, and many have been 
refused. The girls are a good, pleasant set, much more 
gentle than in Cincinnati, and all with faces that seem 
familiar to me ; in fact, I have hardly seen a face in Hen- 
derson that does not torment me with a likeness to some 
former acquaintance. My school hours for the present 
are from nine to three. At half-past twelve I ring my 
bell, when there is a general rush and devouring. I 
uncover the tin knife-box devoted to me, and find 


regularly inside a saucer with three or four little slices 
of haru, a roll, a piece of corn bread, a cup of cream, and 
a raw egg; the latter I throw into the hot ashes, and 
when it has split with a loud report I take it out, and, 
peeling off the coating of burnt egg and ashes, am gene- 
rally happy enough to find a httle clean piece in the 
middle, which I swallow, and bum my throat. Then 
I put on my hood and gloves, and walk up and down 
under a tree in front of the schoolhouse, eating the 
remainder, and endeavouring not to think of you all, as I 
find it does not assist the digestion. 

I used to look sentimentally to one corner of the 
heavens and fancy I saw you all, when one evening, to 
my amazement, I beheld the sun set in that comer, so I 
had to turn right round and look in the opposite direction, 
anathematising the river for being so stupid as to wind, 
and convert the subhme imaginings of a forlorn damsel 
into a ridiculous blunder. 

I have at present four music scholars, and one out-of- 
school French, but two go for boarding. I teach ten 
hours, three days of the week, and wish the other three 
were similarly filled; but it is small remuneration for 
such an outlay of breath, and as soon as I have the 
opportunity I shall fly off to some other point of the 
compass, where at any rate I may learn myself while 
teaching others. Carlyle's name has never even been 
distantly echoed here, Emerson is a perfect stranger, 
and Channing, I presume, would produce a universal 


I was delighted to receive my box last Sunday, the 
12th ; the things do admirably, the dresses I like exceed- 
ingly, they are both very pretty. 

The people here begin to interest me more than they 


did at first ; all continue very kind, and I think well 
satisfied. When I came here, I did not care one straw 
what was thought of my personal appearance, I dressed 
entirely from a principle of self-respect ; now I some- 
times dress for others, and feel a slight satisfaction if the 
glass tells me I shall not scare people. Is not this a good 
sign ? . . . Do not imagine I am going to make myself a 
whole just at present ; the fact is I cannot find my other 
half here, but only about a sixth, which would not do. 
There are two rather ehgible young males here, whose 
mothers have for some time been electioneering for 
wives ; one tall, the other short, with very pretty names, 
of good family, and with tolerable fortune, but imfor- 
tunately one seems to me a dolt, the other, well, not 
wise, so I keep them at a respectful distance, which you 
know I am quite capable of doing. 

There is a spot called Lovers' Grove, about three- 
quarters of a mile from the town, a sweet place on the 
river bank, encircled by trees, with a hill behind, and a 
dehghtful walk by the river-side connecting it with the 
* city.' This used to be my Simday afternoon stroll, but 
unfortunately it is the favourite resort of the beaux and 
belles of Henderson, who, during the summer, after 
afternoon church, regularly promenade thither, in groups 
of four or five, and meet accidentally on purpose. Here 
they stroll about, recHne on the grass, watch the steam- 
boats, flirt a very Httle (it being Sunday), and carve 
one another's names, and sentimental verses, on the 
unfortunate locust trees. I had many offers of an escort 
thither and as many beaux as I might desire. I went 
once or twice, but at last got dreadfully tired of it, so 
while my party was busily engaged round a tree, I 
started off on a good brisk walk home, where, some time 
after, the others arrived, in some consternation to know 
how or why I had so suddenly vanished. I laughed at 


them and their sentimental doings, and they have not 
invited me since. 

I had a very pleasant drive yesterday to make a 
bridal call on the Presbyterian minister, who has been 
quite poUte. The country reminded me in some parts of 
our charming Staten Island drives, though the scenery 
here will not, of course, compare with that Httle gem. 

The people of Henderson were all very friendly 
to me personally, and my relations always pleasant 
with them ; but the injustice of the state of society 
made a gradually deepening impression on my mindt 
The inhabitants lived in constant fear of an outbreak 
among the slaves. Women did not dare to walk in 
the pleasant woods and country around the village, 
for terror of runaway slaves. Painful social contrasts 
constantly forced themselves on my notice. I well 
remember sitting with my hostess, who was re- 
clining in her rocking-chair, on the broad, shaded 
verandah, one pleasant Sunday morning, listening to 
the distant church bells and the rustling of the locust 
trees, when the eldest daughter, a tall, graceful girl, 
dressed for Sunday, in fresh and floating summer 
drapery, came into the verandah on her way to 
church. Just at that moment a shabby, forlorn- 
looking negro in dirty rags approached the verandah ; 
he was one of the slaves working in the tobacco 
plantation. His errand was to beg the mistress to 
let him have a clean shirt on that Sunday morning. 
The contrast of the two figures, the young lady and 
the slave, and the sharp reprimand vdth which his 
mistress from her rocking-chair drove the slave 


away, left a profound impression on my mind. 
Kind as the people were to me personally, the sense 
of justice was continually outraged ; and at the end 
of the first term of engagement I resigned the 





The idea taking shape. — When I returned from 
the Kentucky engagement the family had removed 
to the pleasant suburb of Walnut Hills, where the 
well-known Lane Theological Seminary, under the 
direction of the Beechers and Professor Stowe, was 
situated. This healthy place, with its intellectual 
resources, became the home for many years. I found 
the family sharing a delightful house with the Rev. 
Mr. and Mrs. Vail, to whom it belonged, who, with 
their charming daughter and the professor and elder 
students of the seminary, formed a very intelligent 

It was during the residence of the family on 
Walnut Hills that the noble-hearted woman, Lucy 
Stone, became the wife of an elder brother of mine. 

My brothers were engaged in business, my 
sisters variously occupied, the family life was full 
and active, and for a while I keenly enjoyed the 
return home. But I soon felt the want of a more 
engrossing pursuit than the study of music, German, 


and metaphysics, and the ordinary interests that 
social life presented. 

It was at this tiine that the suggestion of study- 
ing medicine was first presented to me, by a lady 
friend. This friend finally died of a painful disease, 
the delicate nature of which made the methods of 
treatment a constant suffering to her. She once 
said to me : * You are fond of study, have health and 
leisure ; why not study medicine ? If I could have 
been treated by a lady doctor, my worst sufferings 
would have been spared me.* But I at once re- 
pudiated the suggestion as an impossible one, saying 
that I hated everything connected with the body, 
and could not bear the sight of a medical book. 

This was so true, that I had been always foolishly 
ashamed of any form of illness. When attacked 
many years before by intermittent fever, I desperately 
tried to walk off the deadly chill ; and when unable 
to do so, shut myself up alone in a dark room till 
the stage of fever was over, with a feeling that such 
subjection to disease was contemptible. As a school- 
girl I had tried to harden the body by sleeping on 
the floor at night, and even passing a couple of days 
without food, with the foolish notion of thus sub- 
duing one's physical nature. I had been horrified 
also during my schooldays by ' seeing a bullock's 
eye resting on its cushion of rather bloody fat, by 
means of which one of the professors wished to 
interest his class in the wonderful structure of the 
eye. Physiology, thus taught, became extremely dis- 
tasteful to me. My favourite studies were history and 


metaphysics, and the very thought of dwelling on 
the physical structure of the body and its various 
ailments filled me with disgust. 

So I resolutely tried for weeks to put the idea 
suggested by my friend away; but it constantly 
recurred to me. 

Other circumstances forced upon me the necessity 
of devoting myself to some absorbing occupation. I 
became impatient of the disturbing influence exer- 
cised by the other sex. I had always been extremely 
susceptible to this influence. I never remember the 
time from my first adoration, at seven years old, of 
a little boy with rosy cheeks and flaxen curls when 
I had not suffered more or less from the common 
malady — falling in love. But whenever I became 
sufficiently intimate with any individual to be able 
to realise what a life association might mean, I 
shrank from the prospect, disappointed or repelled. 

I find in my journal of that time the following 
sentence, written during an acute attack : — 

I felt more determined than ever to become a physician, 
and thus place a strong barrier between me and all ordi- 
nary marriage. I must have something to engross my 
thoughts, some object in life which will fill this vacuum 
and prevent this sad wearing away of the heart. 

But the struggle with natural repugnance to the 
medical line of life was so strong that I hesitated to 
pass the Eubicon, and fought many a severe battle 
with myself on the subject. 

kt this time I had not the slightest idea of how 
to become a physician, or of the course of study 


necessary for this purpose. As the idea seemed to 
gain force, however, I wrote to and consulted with 
several physicians, known to my family, in various 
parts of the country, as to the possibility of a lady 
becoming a doctor. 

The answers I received were curiously unanimous. 
They all replied to the effect that the idea was a 
good one, but that it was impossible to accomplish 
it; that there was no way of obtaining such an 
education for a woman ; that the education required 
was long and expensive ; that there were innumer- 
able obstacles in the way of such a course ; and that, 
in short, the idea, though a valuable one, was impos- 
sible of execution. 

This verdict, however, no matter frbm how great 
an authority, was rather an encouragement than 
otherwise to a young and active person who needed 
an absorbing occupation. 

If an idea, I reasoned, were really a valuable 
one, there must be some way of realising it. The 
idea of winning a doctor's degree gradually assumed 
the aspect of a great moral struggle, and the moral 
fight possessed immense attraction for me. 

This moral aspect of the subject was increased 
by a circumstance which made a very strong im- 
pression on me. There was at that time a certain 
Madame Eestell flourishing in New York. This 
person was a noted abortionist, and known all over 
the country. She was a woman of great ability, 
and defended her course in the public papers. She 
made a large fortune, drove a fine carriage, had a 


pew in a fashionable churchy and though often 
arrested, was always bailed out by her patrons. 
She was known distinctively as a * female phy- 
sician/ a term exclusively applied at that time to 
those women who carried on her vile occupation. 

Now, I had always felt a great reverence for 
maternity — the mighty creative power which more 
than any other human faculty seemed to bring 
womanhood nearer the Divine. 

The first serious essay I ever attempted was 
on * The Motherhood of the Race, or Spiritual 
Maternity* — that great fact of universal love and 
service which is the formative principle striving to 
express itself in the lower physical manifestations. 

The gross perversion and destruction of mother- 
hood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, 
and awakened active antagonism. That the honour- 
/ able term * female physician ' should be exclusively 
applied to those women who carried on this shocking 
trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter de- 
gradation of what might and should become a noble 
position for women. 

Being at that time a reader of Swedenborg, and 
strongly impressed by his vivid representations of 
the unseen world, I finally determined to do what 
I could to * redeem the hells,' and especially the 
one form of hell thus forced upon my notice. 

My journals of those days, 1845, are full of the 
various difficulties encountered as this determination 

took root. 

I find it written : — 


Doctor Muzzey (a .well-known Cincinnati doctor) was 
horrified at the idea of a woman's going to the Parisian 
schools, which he visited some years ago ; and he declares 
that the method of instruction was such that no American 
or EngUsh lady could stay there six weeks. 

Mrs. Beecher Stowe thought, after conversation with 
Professor Stowe, that my idea was impracticable, though 
fi(he confessed, after some talk, that if carried out it might 
be highly useful. She also spoke of the strong prejudice 
which would exist, which I must either crush or be 
crushed by. I felt a little disappointed at her judgment 
and the hopelessness of all help from Dr. M. I resolved 
to write to Dr. Cox (our family physician when we lived 
in the East), as a last hope for the present. 

Sunday^ May 4. — I read my letter to Dr. Cox to 
Mrs. Vail, who sympathises strongly with my desire. 
She stated Dr. Peck's opinion of the impossibility of a 
lady studying in Paris, but asserts that the most thorough 
education can be obtained in private. I will not, how- 
ever, make up my mind too hastily on so important a 

Wednesday, Uth, — I mentioned my plan to Mr. 
Perkins. He talked it over a little, and then said with a 
bright face : * I do wish you would take the matter up, if 
you have the courage — and you have courage, I know.' 
So invigorating was his judgment, that I felt at the 
moment as if I could conquer the world. He offered with 
real interest to obtain the opinion of the Boston physi- 
cians, to talk with Dr. Avery, and lent me a book of 
Jackson's Memoirs which gives much information relative 
to the French schools. 

But a little later it is vmtten : — 

I felt cold and gloomy all day; read in Jackson's 
l^emoirs, and felt almost disheartened at the immensity of 


tho field before me. I hesitate as if I were about to take 
the veil, but I am gradually coming up to the resolution. 

Again it is written : — 

I heard an admirable sermon from Mr. Giles, an 
English minister, on Christian worship ; very logical, full 
of poetry, some of the sentences so perfect that I held my 
l)reath till they were finished. I thought much on my 
future course, and turned for aid to that Friend with whom 
1 am beginning to hold true communion. It cannot be 
my fancy, Tesus Christ must be a living Spirit, and have 
tho power of communicating with us, for one thought 
towards flim dispels all evil, and earnest, continued 
thought produces peace unspeakable. 

May 20. — Harry brought me home last evening a 
letter from Dr. Cox ; my hand trembled as I took it. It 
was kind, giving the necessary information, but perfectly 
non-committal as to advice. I carried the letter over this 
morning to the lady friend who had promised to help me 
pecuniarily. I made up my mind fully to undertake the 
study if she fulfilled her promise, and already I felt 
separated from the rest of womankind ; I trembled and 
hoped together. But alas for promises and plans ; she 
offered to lend me 100 dollars — when I am told that I 
shall want 3,000 dollars ! I did not express my disappoint- 
ment, but asked who would be Ukely to assist further ? 
She did not know, but thought the plan I had sug- 
gested of teaching, and laying up money for a few years, 
decidedly the best. 

Thrown thus entirely on my own resources, I 
finally resolved to accept a teacher's position in a 
school in North Carolina, where, whilst accumu- 
lating money for future use, I could also commence 
a trial of medical study, for the Eev. John Dickson, 


who was principal of the school, had previously 
been a doctor. 

My old diary of those years, still existent, vividly 
portrays the anxiety and painful effort with which 
I left the family circle and ordinary social life, and 
took the first step in my future medical career. I 
felt that I was severing the usual ties of life, and 
preparing to act against my strongest natural incli- 
nations. But a force stronger than myself then 
and afterwards seemed to lead me on ; a purpose 
was before me which I must inevitably seek to 

My own family showed the warmest sympathy 
with my plans. It was before the time of railways ; 
the roads through Kentucky were little travelled ; 
several rivers had to be forded, and three lines of 
mountains to be crossed. Two of my brothers 
determined to drive me to my unknown destina- 
tion amongst the mountains of North Carolina. So 
the carriage was packed with books and comforts 
for the eleven days' journey, and on June 16, 1845, 
with loving good-byes and some tears, in spite of 
strong efforts to restrain them, I left home for 
Asheville, North Carolina, to begin preparation for 
my unknown career. 

I find interesting details of that long drive, when 
every day took me farther and farther away from all 
that I loved. We forded more than one rapid river, 
and climbed several chains of the Alleghanies in 
crossing through Kentucky and Tennessee into North 
Carolina. The wonderful view from the Gap of 



Clinch Mountain, looking down upon an ocean of 
mountain ridges spread out endlessly below us, and 
seen in the fresh light of an early morning, remains 
to this day as a wonderful panorama in memory. 

We at last reached our destination — viz. the 
school and parsonage of the Eev. John Dickson 
(formerly a physician), where I was to teach music. 
The situation of Asheville, entirely surrounded by 
the Alleghanies, was a beautiful plateau, through 
which the rapid French Broad Eiver ran. 

I must here note down an experience occurring 
at that time, unique in my life, but which is still as 
real and vivid to me as when it occurred. 

I had been kindly welcomed to my strange new 
home, but the shadow of parting with the last links 
to the old life was upon me. The time of parting 
came. My two brothers were to leave on their 
return journey early on the following morning. 
Very sadly at night we had said farewell. I retired 
to my bedroom and gazed from the open window 
long and mournfully at the dim mountain outlines 
visible in the starlight — mountains which seemed 
to shut me away hopelessly from all I cared for. 
Doubt and dread of what might be before me 
gathered in my mind. I was overwhelmed with 
sudden terror of what I was undertaking. In an 
agony of mental despair I cried out, ' Oh God, help 
me, support me ! Lord Jesus, guide, enHghten 
me ! * My very being went out in this yearning 
cry for Divine help. Suddenly, overwhelmingly, an 
answer came. A glorious presence, as of brilliant 


light, flooded my soul. There was nothing visible 
to the physical sense; but a spiritual influence so 
joyful, gentle, but powerful, surrounded me that the 
despair which had overwhelmed me vanished. All 
doubt as to the future, all hesitation as to the right- 
fulness of my purpose, left me, and never in after- 
life returned. I knew that, however insignificant 
my individual eff'ort might be, it was in a right 
direction, and in accordance with the great provi- 
dential ordering of our race's progress. 

This is the most direct personal communication 
from the Unseen that I have ever consciously had ; 
but to me it is a revealed experience of Truth, a 
direct vision of the great reality of spiritual exist- 
ence, as irresistible as it is incommunicable. 

During my few months' stay in this friendly 
household I borrowed medical books from the 
Doctor's library, for my purpose of becoming a phy- 
sician was known and approved of. 

On one occasion a fellow-teacher laughingly came 
to me with a dead cockchafer, which had been 
smothered between her pocket-handkerchiefs, and 
off'ered it to me as a first subject for dissection. I 
accepted the off'er, placed the insect in a shell, held 
it with a hair-pin, and then tried with my mother- 
of-pearl-handled penknife to cut it open. But the 
eff^ort to do this was so repugnant that it was some 
time before I could compel myself to make the 
necessary incision, which revealed only a little 
yellowish dust inside. The battle then fought, how- 
ever, was a useful one. In my later anatomical 

D 2 


studies I never had so serious a repugnance to con- 
tend with; 

The winter passed pleasantly away in beautiful 
Asheville. I was in friendly relations with all around 
me. In my leisure time I studied in the pleasant 
grove which connected the school with the church, 
rejoicing in the ever-changing moimtain outline 
visible through the trees. The * Harbinger/ with its 
bright visions of associated life, came regularly to 
me, and nurtured that faith in co-operation as the 
necessary future of society which has become one 
of my articles of faith, my chief regret at this 
time being the stoppage of my attempt to teach 
coloured children to read, as this was forbidden by 
the laws of North Carolina ! 

The following letters describe the life in North 
Carolina : — 

Asheville : June 29, 1845. 

Deak M., — My first impressions of Asheville are de- 
cidedly pleasant. I find the Kev. Mr. D. a well-educated, 
intelligent man, beloved by all, and regarded quite as a 
father by all his pupils. He reminds me continually of 
Mr. L. in the shortness of his legs and the activity of 
mind and body, in superficiality of thought, and obliging 
social disposition. Mrs. D. is decidedly lovable, quite a 
little lady, ever cheerful, kind, and intelligent, performing 
her numerous duties like a small, true Christian. . . . 

Asheville : 1846. 

Dear H., — I am very glad to find that you have the 
feelings of a gentleman, that though you would not pro- 
mise to write to me, you perform, which is decidedly the 
better of the two. Now I have to call you and S. to 


account for your breach of promise. What is the reason 
you did not come to my window, as you agreed to do, the 
morning you left AsheviUe? I got up before four o'clock 
and waited and watched, at last grew angry, and wished 
in revenge that you might have fine weather and plenty 
of ripe blackberries the whole way ! It was a very shabby 
trick, and if you do not render a satisfactory explanation 
I shall — scold you well when next we meet. 

Your domestic items all interest me. How do you like 
the change of teachers in the school, and who will super- 
intend your room ? Will Dr. Eay still teach ? You must 
tell me also what day school begins, that I may think of 
you and Billy sitting with grave faces behind the little 
wooden desks, rivalling one another in intense application. 

Did you take home any stones for our cabinets ? Does 
the collecting fit continue, or has it vanished with the 
departure of Mr. Hildreth ? I have not obtained many 
specimens as yet; little Sarah Dickson takes great 
interest in bringing me what she considers pretty rocks, 
and putting them on a newspaper on my window seat. I 
was really surprised the other day to see how pretty they 
looked, though, of course, not of much value — little bits of 
quartz, white, grey, brown, pink ; a stone full of mica, 
which looks like a piece of lead ore ; a conglomerate of 
gneiss quartz tinged with some metallic substances, and 
with garnets embedded in some of the stones ; and flints 
of various colours ; nothing to a professed mineralogist, 
but pleasing to me. 

Last week I went to a party at Mrs. P.'s. She has 
a separate establishment from the hotel, with which she 
does not choose to have anything to do. I was invited to 
meet some Charleston ladies who had called on me, and 
made themselves very agreeable. I suppose you would 
have been most pleased with the eatables (the ice-cream, 
whips, jelly, and cakes were deUcious), but what dehghted 


me was a little Channing glorification (M. will under- 
stand what I mean) that Mrs. Carr (the lady who so 
resembles Ellen Channing) and I held in the garden. 
She has never seen our Mr. Channing, but the Doctor 
used to visit at their house, and she described with en- 
thusiasm a splendid sermon that she heard him deliver 
in Philadelphia. I replied by describing the eloquence of 
our Mr. C. Then she expatiated on the kindness and 
lovehness of the Doctor's character, to which I added a 
description of the goodness, purity, and the angelicalness 
of his nephew ; whereupon she expressed a great desire 
to see him, and I said that I should consider it one of the 
greatest of blessings to have enjoyed the social inter- 
course of the good Doctor. The conversation was quite 
a treat to me— a sort of safety-valve to heterodox steam 
that I lacked so deplorably at Henderson. 

My playing seemed to give satisfaction ; the piano is a 
beautiful one, like ours on a more brilliant scale, and as 
there was no one to rival me in the instrumental way I 
raised the top, played the ' Pot Pourri,' and made a tre- 
mendous noise. (I do wish that minister would stop 
singing his nasal hymn-tunes just underneath me ; he has 
been at it all day, and it quite puts me out.) 

I also showed some tricks which puzzled the company 
— particularly a very tall man, with long, projecting nose 
and retreating forehead, who looked like a stupid fox. 
Miss Jane P. was seated in a comer, behind a little 
table, on which were draughts arranged as the nuns of 
the Lady Abbess, she challenging everybody to introduce 
the four cavaliers unknown to the blind mistress. Every- 
body said it was not possible, and Miss Jane turned 
triumphantly to me to know if I could do it. I said I 
could not only introduce the four knights, but their 
four squires also, and then suffer knights, squires, and 
four nuns to elope, without the blind Abbess having the 


slightest suspicion of the defection. Everybody thought 
it impossible, but when I actually performed the feat 
they looked upon me as half a conjuror — particularly the 
stranger fox — and Mrs. Dickson thought it was hardly 
safe that I should occupy the front bedroom in a young 
ladies' boarding-school. I also amused them with the 
three jealous couples crossing the stream ; we were all 
very merry, and I did more talking than I have accom- 
plished in the same space of time for many a day. On 
our return home, the young gentleman who accompanied 
me said that if he had only known I was coming he 
would have gone from New York to Cincinnati, to escort 
me to Asheville (I did not tell him how very glad I was 
he did not know it) ; and on my expressing a wish to visit 
Mount Pisgah, he assured me that to the very next party 
that was made up he would be sure to see that I received 
an invitation. (I did not say he need not trouble himself, 
that I should get the invitation without his interference ; 
I only thought all that, for I am growing very polite in 
my manners.) 

. . . About a week ago I rode to the Sulphur Springs, 
which are about four miles from Asheville ; they are not 
much resorted to, the country round being tangled and 
rather uninteresting. The springs, however, are situated 
in a delightful valley, through which the wind blew most 
refreshingly ; a roofed platform is erected in the midst of 
the grass plat, the perfectly clear water welling up into a 
marble basin on one side, and then flowing away in a 
little rivulet. I found a country woman resting herself 
on the platform, with a bright, pleasant face and very 
communicative. I sat and talked to her and thought of 
the woman of Samaria; presently a bihous-looking 
Southerner came down and drank a dipper full of water, 
which dispelled all the illusion, for my imagination con- 
jured up rice-swamps and clanking chains. 


I have not taken many walks about here, for the 
weather, though delightful for July, is too hot for walking, 
and riding seems out of the question, it being harder to 
get a horse here even than it was at Henderson. Dr. 
Dickson has one old fellow, but he is used in the fields a 
good deal, and one person cannot ride alone. Borrowing 
or hiring seems equally impossible, so I shall be the poorest 
rider in the family apparently, for I suppose Henry's 
' nice Httle pony,' and our three (?) other horses, will be 
kept in constant use. 

I find it equally impossible to get a partner in chess ; 
Dr. Dickson understands no such games, and disapproves 
of them, so I cannot train any of the girls, and Miss 
C. does not care to play. I set up the men one after- 
noon and tried to beat myself ; but it would not do, I 
could get up no enthusiasm, so I put the pieces away in 
despair, and used the board as a writing-desk. 

Tell me all the home news : what M. does and 
Ellen and Kate, what nonsense H. talks and S.'s 
puns, the visits they receive and the excursions they 

If you hear of any new books let me know, for I 
imagine they do not find their way up here very quickly. 
I have Littel's * Living Age ' regularly, and I am reading 
Alison's * History of Europe ; ' but such a thing as a 
novel Dr. Dickson reprobates, and all he calls Ught 

Now, Howy, do you not think I am very good to 
send you such a long letter for your Httle scrap ? Write 
me a full sheet soon. 

Asheville : July 27, 1845. 

Dear Mother, — I received your welcome letter last 
night while engaged in your favourite Saturday evening's 
employment — singing hymns. A stranger minister who 
was to preach next day had just arrived, and I, seated at 


the piano, surrounded by the girls, was supplying him 
with sacred entertainment, when Howard Dickson laid 
your letter beside me. I smiled, and gave an involuntary 
quaver in the * Come, Holy Spi — ,' which made the girls 
giggle; but seeing the four eyes of the two ministers 
bent astonishedly upon us, I pulled a long face, the girls 
straightened theirs, and we continued — * rit, heavenly 

I soon ran off with a candle and my letter, and read 
with eagerness all the profane parts, and most of the 
religious, as it is a first letter. I am very glad that you 
derive so much peaceful satisfaction from Upham. I 
know it has a soothing influence, for whenever I had to 
go into your room of an afternoon I found you asleep on 
the bed with the book in your hand ; but I find no lack 
of such books here — Jonathan Edwards on the Affec- 
tions, which I have lately read, has the same peaceful 

I have just performed my first professional cure, and 
am already dubbed Dr. Blackwell by the household. I 
mesmerised away a severe headache that afflicted Miss 
O'Heara, a kind-hearted, child-Hke, black-haired little old 
maid, the favourite of the family and especial pet of the 
children. She had just recovered from a very severe 
attack of illness, and great suffering in the mouth from 
calomel, which made her declare that no physician ought 
to receive his diploma till he has been salivated, that he 
may know the torture he is inflicting on his patients. I 
went into her room last night, and found her suffering 
from an intense throbbing headache. I offered to relieve 
her, half doubting my own powers, never having at- 
tempted anything of the kind ; but in a quarter or half 
an hour she was entirely reheved, and declared some 
good angel had sent me to her aid. 

I have just returned from the Sunday-school which 


we have organised to-day for the slaves. When I first 
came here I determined to teach all the slaves I could to 
read and write, and elevate them in every way in my 
power, as the only way I could reconcile it to my con- 
science to live amongst them ; but to my consternation 
I found that the laws forbade it, and that Dr. Dickson 
was not wilHng to evade them. Not the slightest effort 
was made to instruct them in any way, except that now 
and then a sermon was preached to them ; but they had 
to labour on without a ray of light or hope. It was in- 
tolerable to me, and I proposed at last we should have 
Sunday-school, and give them real instruction ; and as 
such a scheme had been talked of about a year ago, I 
found a few who were willing to engage in the under- 
taking. Accordingly, this afternoon at three o'clock we 
made a beginning— four ladies and one gentleman, with 
about twenty-five scholars ; we have a class of men, 
women, boys, and two of girls. I take one of the latter, 
four girls, from eight to twelve years old. I assure you 
I felt a little odd, sitting down before those degraded little 
beings, to teach them a religion which the owners pro- 
fessed to follow whilst violating its very first principles, 
and audaciously presuming to stand between them and 
the Almighty. As I looked round the little room and 
saw those ladies holding forth to their slaves, fancying 
that now they were fulfilling every duty and were quite 
model mistresses, I longed to jump up, and, taking the 
chains from those injured, unmanned men, fasten them 
on their tyrants till they learned in dismal wretched- 
ness the bitterness of that bondage they inflict on their 
brethren. But one person can do nothing. I sat quietly 
teaching, and reserved my indignation to vent on this 
inoffensive white paper. I am afraid much cannot be 
done for the slaves in this way ; their minds are so ob- 
scured, and oral instruction is so tedious, that the patience 


of both teachers and scholars may be worn out. I, how- 
ever, shall do my utmost to illuminate both head and 
heart, and the poor children thanked me with humble 
sincerity this afternoon for my efforts. 

You need not be afraid I shall make myself con- 
spicuous, or gain the hated name of Abolitionist. I 
sometimes reproach myself for my prudence and the 
calmness with which I answer some outrageous injustice, 
whUe I am really raging with indignation ; but it is the 
only way in which I can hope to do any good, for the 
sHghtest display of feehng arms all their prejudices, and 
I am no orator to convert by a burst of passionate elo- 
quence ; so I must even go on in my own quiet manner, 
knowing that it does not proceed from cowardice. 

I wish I could give you a cheering account of numer- 
ous music scholars and French and German classes, but 
the place is too small for anything of the sort. I hear 
constantly a great deal about Charleston; everybody 
seems connected with that city, and a great many of the 
inhabitants are spending. the summer here and at the 
Springs. I mean to make some inquiries about the 
schools and teachers of that city ; it would be a pleasant 
residence in some respects. I mention this, not from 
any serious idea of going there, but that you may know 
the schemes that are passing through my mind. I am 
fixed here till December. 

My brain is as busy as can be, and consequently I am 
happy ; for one is only miserable when stupid and lazy, 
wasting the time and doing no good to self or anybody 

So you, too, mother, confirm Henry's account of the 
* fine doings ' on our quiet Walnut Hills. I shall really 
begin to think that I have been the evil genius of the 
place, withholding the rain from the garden, the visitors 
from the house ; for no sooner am I gone than floods of 


both flow down and up, and everywhere are greenness 
and gaiety. Very well; I certainly won't come back 
to bring a bHght into Paradise. . . . But, seriously, if 
Miss A. G. comes up, I hope M. will consider it a call 
and return it with dignity, for it seems to me H. is 
growing wild and turning our house into a sort of 
banqueting-hall for Comus and his crew, which I 
beg M. to set her face against by taking every visit to 
herself. . . . 

My white bonnet is much admired here. Miss Char- 
lotte Carr sent to borrow it the other day, and has made 
one its exact image, flowers and all. I felt quite proud in 
setting the fashion in Asheville ! 

In 1846 the Asheville school was broken up, and 
I resolved to try my fortunes in the South, jour- 
neying with Mrs. John Dickson to Charleston, S.C., 
exchanging the fine mountain country for the level 
rice-fields of South Carolina. It was a striking 
journey — a transformation scene ! It is thus de- 
scribed in a journal of that date : — 

On January 14 we left by stage early in the morning. 
We jolted off in the bright moonlight ; the ground was 
frozen hard and very rough. I walked with FUnn over 
the Blue Ridge and the Saluda, another branch of the 
Alleghanies. The weather was beautiful, the air invigo- 
rating, and the mountain seeined to deserve its name. 
On the top of the Saluda a stone marks the boundary of 
the two Carolinas. I hesitated at crossing it, for my 
affections are all with the * old North State.' At the foot 
we drank to its health from the Poinsett Spring, as we 
had promised John to do. A little afterwards we passed 
the wildest scenery I ever remember to have seen. The 
road wound down the south side of the moimtain in very 


abrupt curves, so as to form a succession of terraces one 
above the other ; whilst, on the opposite side, the wooded 
mountain ridge, though so near, was softened by mist, 
and seemed to tower to tremendous heights, though I 
was surprised to see how this height seemed to lessen as 
we descended. We reached Greenville late, after eighty 
miles of horribly rough staging ; there we spent the next 
day, and I took a pleasant walk with Flinn by the reedy 
river, which rushes in cascades through rocks and wooded 
hills. The next two days we travelled through pretty, 
undulating country, gradually becoming more level. I 
saw the first characteristic swamp, also the palmetto and 
the strange grey moss, a yard long, hanging from the 
trees. We spent a night in Columbia. It seemed a 
strange revival of old associations to enter a city once 
more. The hotel was full of horse-racers engaged in 
betting. The next day a rapid railway journey brought 
us to Charleston by two o'clock. The country between 
Columbia and Charleston was much prettier than I 
expected. The lovely day made everything beautiful; 
the numerous pines, the holly, wild orange, live oak, and 
other evergreens seemed to give the lie to January. 
The moss, hanging one or two yards long from the trees, 
looked like gigantic webs or the ghosts of weeping 
willows ; the rice-fields, under water, were as blue as the 
sky ; the level cotton-fields, extending for hundreds of 
acres, with their belts of evergreens, were strange and 

When we reached Charleston we were met at the 
station by Dr. Sam. Dickson's carriage, with its very 
gentlemanly negro coachman, who had been sent for 
Flinn and * the lady.' So I said good-bye to kind Mrs. 
John Dickson, and, driving softly along to a large old- 
fashioned house, surrounded by a garden full of tall 
evergreens, I entered a spacious hall and was welcomed 


by Dr. Sam. and Mrs. Dickson and their eldest daughter, 
and ushered into a handsome drawing-room, cloak, hood, 
smoke, and all. 

Dr. Samuel H. Dickson, who thus hospitably 
welcomed me, was a distinguished physician of 
Charleston and professor in the Medical College of 
that town. He gave me kind encouragement in 
relation to my medical studies. Through his in- 
fluence I soon obtained a position as teacher of 
nuisic ii;i the fashionable boarding-school of Mrs. 
Du Pr6 (a connection of the Doctor), where I taught 
for some hours every day, spending all my spare 
time in pursuing the medical studies which Dr. 
Dickson directed. Every morning a couple of hours 
were devoted before breakfast to learning the neces- 
sary rudiments of Greek (for I had only so far 
been acquainted with Latin). 

The boarding-school occupied a fine old-fashioned 
mansion. The noble drawing-room, with its numer- 
ous windows overlooking the bay, was the scene of 
my teaching duties. 

When they were over, many quiet hours were 
passed in that pleasant room, studying the medical 
books which the Doctor supplied from his library. 

The severe duties of teaching and study were 
occasionally varied by larger interests, such as 
hearing a very able (though erroneous) oration on 
States' Eights, by Calhoun; or the more carnal 
pleasure of a visit to a banana plantation. 

John C. Calhoun's address, given to the enthusi- 
astic meeting which crowded the theatre, was note- 


worthy. The contrast between the cabn, able orator, 
who appeared entirely unmoved by the rapturous 
demonstrations of his audience, who responded to 
every point in his clever but measured oratory, 
resembled the effect produced in our later day by 
the able statesman Pamell, who dominated his 
ardent Irish followers by a similarly contrasted 
mental constitution. The influence of this able 
statesman, John C. Calhoun, was largely instru- 
mental in causing the Civil War in America. 

The following familiar home letters indicate some 
of the varieties in the Charleston life : — 

Charleston : January 30, 1847. 

Now, dear M., for a comfortable Sunday afternoon 
chat with you, after a long — it seems to me a very long 
— silence. I've just replenished my body with a com- 
fortable portion of our regular Sunday dinner — viz. ham, 
fowl, sweet potatoes, and macaroni — of which last I've 
grown particularly fond, and now, wrapped in my blanket- 
shawl, I sit with my feet on the fender, over the embers 
of the parlour fire, and, as the girls are at church and 
only good Miss B. in the room, I hope for a nice long 
quiet time. But I must tell you of a great musical treat 
I've had, really the highest pleasure in that way that I 
ever remember ; no less than two concerts by Herz and 
Sivori. I never have been so affected by music before ; 
yet the first concert made me sad, homesick, and dis- 
contented. I felt as I do after reading a powerful novel 
of Bulwer's. It was Sivori' s violin that produced so 
strange an effect. Herz was a smooth, brilliant piano- 
forte player, with considerable superficial talent, nothing 
more; but Sivori has genius. His playing bewildered 


me ; I did not understand it. It seemed to me like a 
chaos that might become a world of beauty could I only 
find the word that should reduce it to order. I went 
home unhappy and indignant at being obliged to pass 
life in such a stupid place, amongst such stupid people, 
where is neither beauty, nor intelligence, nor goodness. 
The next concert it went better with me. I sat near the 
platform immediately in front of Sivori, and examined 
his countenance, which certainly renders his performance 
clearer. He is very small, his head large for his body, a 
fine forehead, grand eyes, a stiff, sober manner, and 
occasional half-suppressed smile that reminded me con- 
tinually of EUery Channing. The first piece, * II Cam- 
panello ' of Paganini, was a gem ; the solemn, subduing 
adagio, with a wild, striving conclusion, and the httle 
clear silver bell coming in continually, like an angel's 
voice in the conflict of good and bad spirits. Then his 
prayer from * Moise,' performed on one string, was the 
most devout music I ever listened to. I felt as if I were 
worshipping in an old cathedral at twilight, and I shut 
my eyes not to destroy the illusion by the expressionless 
concert-room and faces all round. The duet between 
Herz and Sivori was grand, both parts were so perfect. 
I went to the concert with a prejudice against Herz, from 
knowing his very bad moral character ; but his playing is 
very brilliant, though he is far from being a De Meyer. 
He has the most self-satisfied expression in his mouth, 
which, as a gentleman remarked, * seems to be going to 
eat his ears,* it is so large. He was recalled after one of 
his pieces, and said, smiling, *I will play you a piece 
which I composed, since I am in Charleston. It is called 
" Souvenir de Charleston." ' 'Twas quite a dashing affair ; 
and then he extemporised beautifully on * Lucy Long.' 
I hope you may have the pleasure in Cincinnati of 
hearing these real artists. Oh for the time when such 


music may be a daily feast for all, and when the per- 
formers shall be as noble in character as they are gifted 
in talent ! 

Charleston : February 28, 1847. 

My deab Mother, — Two letters from you within a 
twelvemonth seems as extraordinary as it is welcome. I 
was much gratified by the kind home voices which greeted 
my birthday. I always think of old family times on that 
day — the penny for each year which father used laugh- 
ingly to bestow, and the silver that came after, and then 
the little children's party, and all the merry old times ; 
but I am quite satisfied that my childhood has gone ; I 
never wish to recall it, happy as it was ; I want to be up 
and doing, not simply enjoying myself; and if I never 
succeed in accompUshing all my intentions, I mean to 
have the comfortable assurance that I have tried hard 
and done my best. Your letter, besides its highly re- 
spected rehgious advice, which I always lay up carefully 
in a little scented comer of my mind, contains many little 
interesting domestic items. How I should like to tap at 
the window some night, while the briUiant solar lamp is 
illuminating the planets and glorifying the cheerful faces 
inside, and make you all start as if you saw a ghost, till a 
most substantial shaking of the hand should convince 
you to the contrary I We have had a very mild winter 
on the whole, to my no small delight, for I dreaded the 
cold exceedingly in this great house, where the wind 
rushes grievously through every door and window and 
finds only the ghost of a fire to warm it, and where heavy 
mists from the ocean chill the very marrow of your bones. 
I've fortunately had no broken chilblains on my hands 
this winter, and as I teach in the warmest room in the 
house, and throw open the shutters to let in all the sun- 
shine, I don't often have to wear my blanket, but get 
along pretty comfortably. I am teaching at present more 



than eight hours a day, and you may imagine I get pretty 
tired by tea-time. Such a press of teaching, however, will 
not last very long, and I am quite wiUing that Mrs 
Du Pr6 should gain as much as possible by me while I 
am with her. 

About a week ago I received an answer from the old 
Quaker physician, Dr. Warrington of Philadelphia, to 
whom I was introduced by Mrs. Willard of Troy some 
time ago. The letter is quite an original ; I must transcribe 
a little for your benefit : — 

' My dear E. Blackwell, — Thy letter of November 18 
came duly to hand ; it has indeed remained unanswered, 
but not unheeded. I have reflected much on the proposi- 
tions contained in it ; so strong a hold has the communi- 
cation had on my feehngs and sympathies that I feared I 
might speak imprudently if I should reply impromptu to 
such noble sentiments. I have myself been so circum- 
stanced in life as to be rendered measurably competent 
to understand the force of promptings to move in some- 
what new and Httle-tried paths. My immediate response 
would therefore perhaps have been, " Go onwards ; " and 
though if in reasonings with flesh and blood in this 
matter I may appear less ardent in my encouragement, 
let it be borne in mind that He who puts forth can with- 
out fail lead His devoted servants ; He can make a way 
where there appeared to be no way ; He can accompHsh 
His purposes by instruments of His own selection in the 
bringing about His own ends — " God shall work, and who 
shall let (hinder or prevent) Him ? " 

* Now, this principle is recognisable by the pious of all 
denominations. It is one which has been found opera- 
tive in very many important enterprises, and it is one 
which thy own mind seems so firmly to have settled that 
I scarcely need advert to it now, but to show that my 
own faith may sometimes be so feeble that I enter into 


human calculation as to the expediency of certain plans 
of operation which have suggested themselves to me in 
the course of my movements about this great city, or 
when I am reflecting upon the condition of humanity at 
large. Now, I frankly confess that it is in such a balance 
that I have from time to time weighed thy interesting 
concern. I have personally appealed to some of the 
most inteUigent and Hberal-minded ladies of my acquaint- 
ance how far the services of a well-educated female phy- 
sician would be appreciated by them. The response 
uniformly is, " Mrs. Gove and Mrs. Wright were unfit to 
teach, nor could any female become acceptable to us, 
either as a teacher or practitioner of medicine." This 
language is stronger than I should be willing to use 
myself. It is an interesting matter of history, and one 
which may afford some encouragement to reformers to 
persevere, when they are assured that their cause has its 
foundation in truth, justice, and mercy ; that Saul, who 
had been most bitter in his persecution of Christians, 
joining in the popular outcry against the great Innovator, 
not only himself became a convert to the new faith, but 
under the name of Paul, for the balance of his active Hfe, 
employed his powerful talents in the extension of the 
very doctrines which in his misguided zeal he had 
laboured to subvert. I confess, my dear lady, that I 
with thee see many difficulties in the way to the attain- 
ment — firstly, to the acquisition of the kind and amount of 
education thou art aware is necessary as a capital stock 
with which to begin the enterprise which has been opened 
to thy mind ; secondly, that after years spent in the 
attempt the popular mind will be found barred against 
thy mission of love and humanity; but I beg thee to 
believe with me that if the project be of divine origin 
and appointment it will sooner or later surely be accom- 
plished. Thus, in the language of Gamaliel on another 

E 2 


occasion, " If this work be of men it will come to nought, 
but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye 
be found even to fight against God." In now addressing 
thee personally I cordially reiterate the invitation. I 
should be happy to compare notes with thee at any 
leisure moment which may be afforded me, though I am 
in the whirl of occupation ; and if after our conferences 
together thou shouldest become as persuaded as I am 
that woman was designed to be the helpmeet for man, 
and that in the responsible duties of relieving ills which 
flesh is heir to it is appropriate that man he the physician 
and woman the nurse, it may possibly occur to thee that 
thy real mission in this world of probation will be to con- 
tribute with all the talents which thy Father in Heaven 
has so bountifully bestowed the exaltation of a portion of 
thy sex to the holy duties of nursing the sick, and thus 
succouring the distressed. With sentiments of most 
respectful consideration. . - .' 

This is a portion of the good Doctor's letter, and 
though our opinions differ considerably I cannot complain 
of his treating the matter too lightly. He seems to be an 
honest, simple-minded, enthusiastic old man, and I feel 
as if I might regard him as a friend in Philadelphia. The 
letter is copied by his wife in a clear, pretty hand, so I 
consider her as interested also. 

Well, my dear mother, I wish I could tell you some- 
thing amusing ; but though we do a good deal of small 
laughing, it would hardly be worth while to put our jokes 
down on paper. Miss Buell and I talk of hiring a beau if 
we can get one cheap, for really these beautiful moonhght 
nights a walk on the Battery would be very pleasant, and 
a visit to the opera that is now in town would be by 
no means disagreeable ; but now we have to sit at our 
window and admire the moonlight on the waters, and sigh 
in vain after the vanities of the world, all for want of a 


beau — alas ! poor nuns that we are. Then sometimes the 
girls get up a little screaming for our benefit. The other 
night, for instance, the ten o'clock bell had rung. Miss 
Buell had seen that the lights were out and the girls in 
bed. We were comfortably sinking into forgetfulness on 
our pillows, when I fancied I heard some poor dog yelling 
in some yard. I Hstened sympathisingly, and found it 
was a human voice in the distance uttering at short 
intervals a succession of agonised shrieks. I was horri- 
fied and indignant. * Do Hsten/ I cried ; ' they must be 
whipping a poor negro; isn't it abominable?' We lis- 
tened ; the shrieks seemed to draw nearer. * Why, Miss 
Buell, 'tis certainly the girls in the opposite room ! ' * Oh, 
no, they are all asleep ; 'tis sonny's voice downstairs : 
they must be washing him.' * At this time of night I 
What an idea I I'm convinced it is the girls.' The shrieks 
increased, and at intervals we distinguished the words : 
* Oh, Penny, Penny Grimke ! Oh, Miss Buell, Miss Black- 
well, Mrs. Peters ! Oh, Mrs. Peters ! ' I jumped out of 
bed, got a Hght, and hurried into the opposite room ; as I 
opened the door the noise almost stunned me. There 
were six girls, all screaming at the top of their voices, as 
pale as their nightgowns, and some of them almost in 
fits ; all the other doors were thrown open, and I was 
immediately surrounded by a perfect mob of girls in 
white nightgowns and caps, talking, crying, laughing, in 
a regular uproar. I threatened to blow out the lamp, to 
call Mr. Bonnetheau, to beat them all if they wouldn't 
hush, and at last I got at the origin of the affray. A 
couple of brushes had fallen on the floor, and one of the 
girls, affirming that somebody had touched her arm, began 
to scream ; all the others joined in, and I really believe 
that if I had not gone to them when I did they would 
have fallen into convulsions, so completely had they 
given themselves up to terror. These are some of the 


pleasant diversions of our life, and as I welcome anything 
that makes me laugh, they are quite acceptable. 

When the hot weather arrived I superintended 
the summer school, which for the health of the 
pupils was removed to Aiken, South Carolina, amongst 
the pine barrens; a spot renowned for its healthi- 
ness, and which has since become a famous health 

Aiken : July 1846. 

Many happy returns, dear M., of your birthday. I 
send you the old greeting ; old, and full of meaning ; for 
life is a blessing, though our low, unworthy view may 
make us sometimes doubt it. Even if life were full of 
sufifering, and annihilation its end, I should still hail it as 
a noble gift. But with a firm faith in infinite goodness 
and immortality, the most wearisome hfe becomes a 
source of triumphant thanksgiving. So I wish you again 
many happy returns of glorious Hfe ! And now I must 
thank you right heartily for a letter that was a real home 
gif c ; or, as the * Dial ' saith, * a letter that was no letter, but 
a leaf out of the book of Nature.' How do your com- 
mentatical studies go on? I am afraid it will be an 
unsatisfactory sort of business to search for the sun with 
a parcel of rushlights ; if it do not glow forth with 
unmistakable brilliancy I fear there's very little true 
solar light to be found. Last Sunday, not caring to pay 
the Episcopal church a second visit, I told Mrs. Du Pre I 
would go to a church in the woods, so she need not send 
the carriage back for me. I had seen a dark wooden 
building with little steeple, half hidden amongst the trees, 
that took my fancy. So I dressed and strolled through 
the sandy wood paths at the rate of a mile an hour, as I 
hate overheating myself. I reached my church at length. 


when, lo I it proved to be a deserted schoolhouse, contain- 
ing two large cool rooms, built of weather-beaten pine, 
with projecting roof and pleasant elevated porch. Here 
I took my seat, whilst the village bells were ringing 
merrily. The schoolhouse was situated in the midst of 
pretty woods, encircled by a path of white sand which 
winds through the woods to the village. The sky was 
briUiantly blue ; the rich odour of the pines and the hum 
of insects had a very soothing eflFect, and I spent my 
time so pleasantly that I think I shall be tempted to pay 
my church in the woods many visits this summer. By- 
the-by, I find that the schoolhouse, cool and pleasant 
as it is, has been for some time deserted, because the 
three denominations .of Aiken cannot agree on the choice 
of a teacher. I have found the summer here very plea- 
sant hitherto. Indeed, I invite yoa all to come South and 
get cool ; I think I have never suffered so Httle from heat 

November, — Let me set yoiu* mind at ease with regard 
to my fastidiousness, love of beauty, professional horrors, 
and so forth. My mind is fully made up. I have not 
the shghtest hesitation on the subject ; the thorough 
study of medicine I am quite resolved to go through 
with. The horrors and disgusts I have no doubt of van- 
quishing. I have overcome stronger distastes than any 
that now remain, and feel fully equal to the contest. As 
to the opinion of people, I don't care one straw per- 
sonally ; though I take so much pains, as a matter of 
poHcy, to propitiate it, and shall always strive to do so ; 
for I see continually how the highest good is eclipsed by 
the violent or disagreeable forms which contain it. I 
think you attribute a foolish sentimental fastidiousness to 
me that I do not possess. You also speak of my want of 
bodily sympathy being an objection. If I understand 
what you mean, I think it would prove of the most valu- 


able assistance possible. I suspect you were thinking of 
that unlucky dose of lobeha I once gave you when I grew 
angry because you groaned and groaned, and obstinately 
refused to drink the warm stuff that would relieve you. I 
think I have sufficient hardness to be entirely unaffected 
by great agony in such a way as to impair the clearness 
of thought necessary for bringing relief, but I am sure the 
warmest sympathy would prompt me to reheve suffer- 
ing to the extent of my power ; though I do not think any 
case would keep me awake at night, or that the responsi- 
bility would seem too great when I had conscientiously 
done my best. ... I want very much to have a Httle 
story printed which I have translated from the German. 
It is very pretty, and pleases the children greatly. I 
might get a hundred dollars for it. . . . Aiken is almost 
deserted, but I shall not go down till the 15th, when the 
Episcopal minister arrives to take charge of the school. 
To-morrow I shall be left entirely alone, not a soul in the 
house besides ; and only a negro man somewhat given to 
drink and a negro woman greatly given to scolding in the 
yard. . . . The autumn winds are howling round the 
house, blowing the leaves in whirlwinds. Our * Fall ' has 
beeti very pleasant, though we've had fires for several 
weeks. The changing trees had a curious effect for a few 
days. I have four windows in my room, and the hickory 
trees outside turned a brilliant yellow, fiUing the room 
with a beautiful glow. During a very rainy day I several 
times looked up with joy thinking the sun was breaking 
forth ; but the rain soon changed their beauty, and now 
our pines and some oaks are the only cheerful things 

Returning to Charleston, the winter and spring 
were fully occupied with teaching ; the Christmas 
being cheered by the receipt from home of our * Family 


Christmas Annual/ a collection of articles in prose 
and verse, specially prepared anonymously by the 
various members of the family, and decorated by 
domestic artists. This diversion was continued for 
many years ; and several volumes are still preserved 
as mementoes of those pleasant times. 




In the summer of 1847, with my carefully hoarded 
earnings, I resolv6d to seek an entrance into a 
medical school. Philadelphia was then considered 
the chief seat of medical learning in America, so to 
Philadelphia I went; taking passage in a sailing 
vessel from Charleston for the sake of economy. 

In Philadelphia I boarded in the family of Dr. 
William Elder. He and his admirable wife soon 
became warm and steadfast friends. Dr. Elder 
(author of the life of Dr. Kane, the Arctic voyager) 
was a remarkable man, of brilliant talent and genial 
nature. He took a generous interest in my plans, 
helping by his advice and encouragement through 
the months of effort and refusals which were now 

Applications were cautiously but persistently 
made to the four medical colleges of Philadelphia for 
admission as a regular student. The interviews with 
their various professors were by turns hopeful and 
disappointing. Whilst pursuing these inquiries I 
commenced my anatomical studies in the private 


school of Dr. Allen. This gentleman by his thought- 
ful arrangements enabled me to overcome the natural 
repulsion to these studies generally felt at the outset. 
With a tact and delicacy for which I have always 
felt grateful, he gave me as my first lesson in 
practical anatomy a demonstration of the human 
wrist. The beauty of the tendons and exquisite 
arrangements of this part of the body struck my 
artistic sense, and appealed to the sentiment of 
reverence with which this anatomical branch of 
study was ever afterwards invested in my mind. 

During the following months, whilst making 
apphcations to the different medical colleges of 
Philadelphia for admission as a regular student, 
I enlisted the services of my friends in the search 
for an Alma Mater. The interviews with the 
various professors, though disappointing, were often 

Extracts from the Journal of 1847 

May 27. — Called on Dr. Jackson (one of the oldest 
professors in Philadelphia), a small, bright-faced, grey- 
haired man, who looked up from his newspaper and 
saluted me with, * Well, what is it ? What do you want ? ' 
I told him I wanted to study medicine. He began to 
laugh, and asked me why. Then I detailed my plans. 
He bepame interested; said he would not give me an 
answer then ; that there were great difi&culties, but he 
did not know that they were insurmountable ; he would 
let me know on Monday. I came home with a hghter 
heart, though I can hardly say I hope. On Monday Dr. 
Jackson said he had done his best for me, but the pro- 


fessors were all opposed to my entrance. Dr. Homer 
advised me to try the Filbert Street and Franklin schools. 
A professor of Jefferson College thought it would be 
impossible to study there, and advised the New England 

June 2. — Felt gloomy as thunder, trudging roiuid to 
Dr. Darrach. He is the most non-committal man I ever 
saw. I harangued him, and he sat full five minutes 
without a word. I asked at last if he could give me any 
encouragement. * The subject is a novel one, madam, I 
have nothing to say either for or against it ; you have 
awakened trains of thought upon which my mind is 
taking action, but I cannot express my opinion to you 
either one way or another.' * Your opinion, I fear, is 
unfavourable.' *I did not say so. I beg you, madam, 
distinctly to understand that I express no opinion one 
way or another ; the way in which my mind acts in this 
matter I do not feel at liberty to unfold.' * Shall I call 
on the other professors of your college ? ' * I cannot take 
the responsibility of advising you to pursue such a 
course.' * Can you not grant me admittance to your 
lectures, as you do not feel unfavourable to my scheme ? ' 
* I have said no such thing ; whether favourable or 
unfavourable, I have not expressed any opinion ; and I 
beg leave to state clearly that the operation of my mind 
in regard to this matter I do not feel at liberty to unfold.' 
I got up in despair, leaving his mind to take action on 
the subject at his leisure. 

Dr. Warrington told me that he had seen his friend 
Dr. Ashmead, who had told him that Paris was such a 
horrible place that I must give up my wish for a medical 
education — indeed, his communication would be so im- 
favourable that he would rather not meet me in person. 
I told the Doctor that if the path of duty led me to hell 
I would go there ; and I did not think that by being with 


devils I should become a devil myself — at which the 
good Doctor stared. 

Nevertheless, I shrink extremely from the idea of 
giving up the attempt in America and going to France, 
although the suggestion is often urged on me. 

The fear of successful rivalry vsrhich at that time 
often existed in the medical mind vsras expressed -^ 
by the dean of one of the smaller schools, who 
frankly replied to the application, *You cannot 
expect us to furnish you with a stick to break our 
heads with ; ' so revolutionary seemed the attempt 
of a woman to leave a subordinate position and seek 
to obtain a complete medical education, A similarly 
mistaken notion of the rapid practical success which 
would attend a lady doctor was shown later by one 
of the professors of my medical college, who was 
desirous of entering into partnership vdth me on 
condition of sharing profits over 5,000 dollars on my 
first year's practice. 

During these fruitless efforts my kindly Quaker 
adviser, whose private lectures I attended, said to 
me : * Elizabeth, it is of no use trying. Thee cannot 
gain admission to these schools. Thee must go to 
Paris and don masculine attire to gain the necessary 
knowledge.' Curiously enough, this suggestion of 
disguise made by good Dr. Warrington was also 
given me by Doctor Pankhurst, the Professor of 
Surgery in the largest college in Philadelphia. He 
thoroughly approved of a woman's gaining complete 
medical knowledge ; told me that although my 
public entrance into the classes was out of the 


question, yet if I would assume masculine attire and 
enter the college he could entirely rely on two or 
three of his students to whom he should communi- 
cate my disguise, who would watch the class and 
give me timely notice to withdraw should my 
disguise be suspected. 

But neither the advice to go to Paris nor the 
suggestion of disguise tempted me for a moment. 
It was to my mind a moral crusade on which I had 
entered, a course of justice and common sense, and 
it must be pursued in the light of day, and with 
public sanction, in order to accomplish its end. 

The following letter to Mrs. Willard of Troy, 
the well-known educationalist, describes the diffi- 
culties through which the young student had to 
walk warily : — 

Philadelphia : May 24. 

I cannot refrain from expressing my obligations to 
you for directing me to the excellent Dr. Warrington. 
He has allowed me to visit his patients, attend his 
lectures, and make use of his hbrary, and has spoken to 
more than one medical friend concerning my wishes ; but 
with deep regret I am obliged to say that all the informa- 
tion hitherto obtained serves to show me the impossi- 
bility of accomplishing my purpose in America. I find 
myself rigidly excluded from the regular college routine, 
and there is no thorough course of lectures that can 
supply its place. The general sentiment of the physicians 
is strongly opposed to a woman's intruding herself into 
the profession ; consequently it would be perhaps impos- 
sible to obtain private instruction, but if that were 
possible, the enormous expense would render it imprac- 


ticable, and where the feelings of the profession are 
strongly enlisted against such a scheme, the museums, ^ 
Hbraries, hospitals, and all similar aids would be closed 
against me. In view of these and numerous other 
difficulties Dr. Warrington is discouraged, and joins with 
his medical brethren in advising me to give up the 
scheme. But a strong idea, long cherished till it has 
taken deep root in the soul and become an all-absorbing 
duty, ca^nnot thus be laid aside. I must accompHsh my 
end. I consider it the noblest and most useful path that 
I can tread, and if one country rejects me I will go to 

Through Dr. Warrington and other sources I am 
informed that my plan can be carried out in Paris, 
though the free Government lectures, delivered by the 
faculty, are confined to men, and a diploma is strictly 
denied to a woman, even when (as in one instance, as it 
is said) she has gone through the course in male attire ; ' 
yet every year thorough courses of lectures are delivered 
by able physicians on every branch of medical know- 
ledge, to which I should be admitted without hesitation 
and treated with becoming respect. The true place for 
study, then, seems open to me ; but here, again, some 
friendly physicians raise stronger objections than ever. 
* You, a young immarried lady,' they say, * go to Paris, 
that city of fearful immorality, where every feeling will 
be outraged and insult attend you at every step ; where 
vice is the natural atmosphere, and no young man can 
breathe it without being contaminated ! Impossible, you 
are lost if you go 1' 

Now, dear madam, I appeal to you, who have had 
the opportunity of studying the French in their native 
land, is not this a false view, a greatly exaggerated fear ? 
Is it not perfectly true everywhere that a woman who 
respects herself will be respected by others; that where 


the life is directed by a strong, pure motive to a noble 
object, in a quiet, dignified, but determined manner, the 
better feehngs of mankind are enlisted, and the woman 
excites esteem and respectful sympathy? To my mind 
this is perfectly clear, and I trust that your more 
experienced judgment will confirm my opinion. Probably, 
then, if all the information which I am still collecting 
agree with what I have already received, I may sail for 
France in the course of the summer, that I may fami- 
liarise myself with a rapid French delivery before the 
commencement of the winter lectures. 

I have tried to look every diflBculty steadily in the 
face. I find none which seem to mo unconquerable, and 
with the blessing of Providence I trust to accomplish my 

After a short, refreshing trip v^ith my family to 
the seaside, the search was again renewed in Phila- 
delphia. But applications made for admission to 
the medical schools both of Philadelphia and of New 
York were met with similarly unsuccessful results. 

I therefore obtained a complete list of all the 
smaller schools of the Northern States, 'country 
schools,* as they were called. I examined their pro- 
spectuses, and quite at a venture sent in applications 
for admission to twelve of the most promising in- 
stitutions, where full courses of instruction were 
given under able professors. The result was awaited 
with much anxiety, as the time for the conmience- 
ment of the winter sessions was rapidly approaching. 
No answer came for some time. At last, to my 
immense relief (though not surprise, for failure never 
seemed possible), I received the foUov^ing letter from 


the medical department of a small university town 
in the western part of the State of New York : — 

GeneVa : October 20, 1847. 
To Elizabeth Blackwell, Philadelphia. 

I am instructed by the faculty of the medical depart- 
ment of Geneva University to acknowledge receipt of 
yours of 3rd inst. A quorum of the faculty assembled 
last evening for the first time during the session, and it was '.. 
thought important to submit your proposal to the class (of 
students), who have had a meeting this day, and acted 
entirely on their own behalf, without any interference on 
the part of the faculty. I send you the result of their de- 
Hberations, and need only add that there are no fears but 
that you can, by judicious management, not only * disarm 
criticism,' but elevate yourself without detracting in the 
least from the dignity of the profession. 

Wishing you success in your undertaking, which some 

may deem bold in the present state of society, I subscribe 


Yours respectfully, 

Chaeles a. Lee, 

Dean of the Faculty. 
15 Gteneya Hotel. 

This letter enclosed the following unique and 
manly letter, which I had afterwards copied on 
parchment, and esteem one of my most valued pos- 
sessions : — 

At a meeting of the entire medical class of Geneva 
Medical College, held this day, October 20, 1847, the 
following resolutions were unanimously adopted : — 

1. Besolved — That one of the radical principles of a 




Bepublican Government is the universal education of 
both sexes ; that to every branch of scientific education 
the door should be open equally to all ; that the applica- 
tion of Elizabeth Blackwell to become a member of our 
class meets our entire approbation ; and in extending our 
unanimous invitation we pledge ourselves that no conduct 
of ours shall cause her to regret her attendance at this 

2. Besolved — That a copy of these proceedings be 
signed by the chairman and transmitted to Elizabeth 

T. J. Stratton, Chairman, 

With an immense sigh of relief and aspiration of 
profound gratitude to Providence I instantly ac- 
cepted the invitation, and prepared for the journey 
to Western New York State. 

Leaving Philadelphia on November 4, 1 hastened 
through New York, travelled all night, and reached 
the little town of Geneva at 11 p.m. on November 6. 

The next day, after a refreshing sleep, I sallied 
forth for an interview with the dean of the college, 
enjoying the view of the beautiful lake on which 
Geneva is situated, notwithstanding the cold, drizz- 
ling, windy day. After an interview with the 
authorities of the college I was duly inscribed on 
the list as student No. 130, in the medical de- 
partment of the Geneva University. 

I at once established myself in a comfortable 
boarding-house, in the same street as my college, 
and three minutes* walk from it — a beautiful walk 
along the high bank overlooking the lake. I hung 
my room with dear mementoes of absent friends, 


and soon with hope and zeal and thankful feelings 
of rest I settled down to study. 

Naturally, some Uttle time was required to adjust 
the relations of the new student to her unusual sur- 
roundings. My first experiences are thus given in 
a letter to a sister : — 

Geneva : November 9, 1847. 

IVe just finished copying the notes of my last lecture. 
Business is over for to-day ; I throw a fresh stick into my 
* air-tight, ' and now for refreshment by a talk with my own 
dear sister. Your letter containing E.'s was the first to 
welcome me in my new residence ; right welcome, I assure 
you, it was, for I was gloomy — very. It was on Monday 
evening your letter came — my first work-day in Geneva. 
It had rained incessantly ; I was in an upper room of a 
large boarding-house without a soul to speak to. I had 
attended five lectures, but nevertheless I did not know 
whether I could do what I ought to, for the Professor of 
Anatomy was absent, and had been spoken of as a queer 
man. The demonstrator hesitated as to my dissecting ; 
I had no books, and didn't know where to get any ; and 
my head was bewildered with running about the great 
college building — never going out of the same door I went 
in at. 

This evening, however, I have finished my second 
day's lectures; the weather is still gloomy, but I feel 
sunshiny and happy, strongly encom*aged, with a grand 
future before me, and all owing to a fat Httle fairy in the 
shape of the Professor of Anatomy I This morning, on 
repairing to the college, I was introduced to Dr. Webster, 
the Professor of Anatomy, a Httle plump man, blunt in 
manner and very voluble. He shook me warmly by the 
hand, said my plan was capital; he had some fun too 
about a lady pupil, for he never lost a joke ; the class had 

F 2 


acted manfully ; their resolutions were as good as a politi- 
cal meeting, &c. 

He asked me what branches I had studied. I told him 
all but surgery. * Well,' said Dr. Lee, * do you mean to 
practise surgery ? ' * Why, of course she does,' broke in 
Dr. Webster. * Think of the cases of femoral hernia ; only 
think what a well-educated woman would do in a city like 
New York. Why, my dear sir, she'd have her hands full 
in no time; her success would be immense. Yes, yes, 
you'll go through the course, and get your diploma with 
great 6clat too ; we'll give you the opportunities. You'll 
make a stir, I can tell you.' 

I handed him a note of introduction from Dr. War- 
rington, and then he told me to wait in the ante-room 
while he read it to the medical class, who were assembled 
in the amphitheatre for his lecture, which was to be pre- 
paratory to one of the most delicate operations in surgery, 
and I suppose he wanted to remind them of their promise 
of good behaviour. I could hear him reading it. When 
his age and experience were spoken of there was a shout 
of laughter, for he can't be more than forty-five and not 
much of dignity about him ; but at the conclusion there 
was a round of applause, after which I quietly entered, 
and certainly have no reason to complain of medical 
students, for though they eye me curiously, it is also in a 
very friendly manner. After the lecture was over, the 
demonstrator, who now shows the utmost friendhness, 
explained to me at the Doctor's request a very important 
subject which I had lost. It was admirably done, illus- 
trated on the subject, and if to-day's lessons were a fair 
specimen, I certainly shall have no cause to complain of 
my anatomical instructors. The plan pursued here is 
admirable, and New York and Philadelphia may learn 
more than one lesson from Geneva. Dr. Webster came 
to me laughing after the first lecture, saying : * You attract 


too much attention, Miss Blackwell ; there was a very 
large number of strangers present this afternoon — I shall 
guard against this in future/ * Yes,' said Dr. Lee ; * we 
were saying to-day that this step might prove quite a good 
advertisement for the college ; if there were no other 
advantage to be gained, it will attract so much notice. 
I shall bring the matter into the medical journals ; why, 
I'll venture to say in ten years' time one-third the classes 
in our colleges will consist of women. After the prece- 
dent you will have established, people's eyes will be 

Now, all this kind feeling encourages me greatly, and 
I need it ; for though my piu^ose has never wavered, a 
flat, heavy feeling was growing upon me from constant 
disappointment. I was fast losing that spring of hope 
that is so pleasant ; consequently praise cannot make me 
vain, and the notice I attract is a matter of perfect indif- 
ference. I sit quietly in this large assemblage of young 
men, and they might be women or mummies for aught I 
care. I sometimes think I'm too much disciplined, but 
it is certainly necessary for the position I occupy. I be- 
lieve the professors don't exactly know in what species of 
the human family to place me, and the students are a 
little bewildered. The other people at first regarded me 
with suspicion, but I am so quiet and gentle that sus- 
picion turns to astonishment, and even the Httle boys in 
the street stand still and stare as I pass. 'Tis droll; 
sometimes I laugh, sometimes I feel a Httle sad, but in 
Geneva the nine days' wonder soon will cease, and I 
cannot but congratulate myself on having found at last 
the right place for my beginning. 

I had not the slightest idea of the commotion 
created by my appearance as a medical student in 
the little town. Very slowly I perceived that a 


doctor's wife at the table avoided any communica- 
tion with me, and that as I walked backwards and 
forwards to college the ladies stopped to stare at 
me, as at a curious animal. I afterwards found 
that I had so shocked Geneva propriety that the 
theory was fully established either that I was a bad 
woman, whose designs would gradually become 
evident, or that, being insane, an outbreak of in- 
sanity would soon be apparent. Feeling the un- 
friendliness of the people, though quite unaware of 
all this gossip, I never walked abroad, bat hastening 
daily to my college as to a sure refuge, I knew 
when I shut the great doors behind me that I shut 
out all unkindly criticism, and I soon felt perfectly 
at home amongst my fellow-students. 

The following extracts from my journal of those 
days show how any early difficulties were success- 
fully overcome : — 

Noveviher 9. — My first happy day; I feel really 
encouraged. The little fat Professor of Anatomy is a 
capital fellow ; certainly I shall love fat men more than 
lean ones henceforth. He gave just the go-ahead direct- 
ing impulse needful ; he will afford me every advantage, 
and says I shall graduate with ^cldt. Then, too, I am 
glad that they like the notoriety of the thing, and think 
it a good * spec' 

November 10. — Attended the demonstrator's evening 
lecture — very clear — how superior to books ! Oh, this is 
the way to learn ! The class behaves very well ; and 
people seem all to grow kind. 

November 11. — Anatomy very interesting to-day ; 
two admirable demonstrations. Dr. Webster, full of 


enthusiasm, told us of Godman, who was converted to 
phrenology by reading a work against it, in order to cut 
it up. 

November 15. — To-day, a second operation at which 
I was not allowed to be present. This annoys me. I 
was quite saddened and discouraged by Dr. Webster 
requesting me to be absent from some of his demonstra- 
tions. I don't beheve it is his wish. I wrote to him 
hoping to change things. 

November 17. — ^Dr. Webster seemed much pleased 
with my note, and quite cheered me by his wish to 
read it to the class to-morrow, saying if they were all 
actuated by such sentiments the medical class at Geneva 
would be a very noble one. He could hardly guess how 
much I needed a Httle praise. I have no fear of the kind 

November 20. — ^In the amphitheatre yesterday a Httle 
folded paper dropped on my arms as I was making 
notes ; it looked very much as if there were writing in it, 
but I shook it off and went on quietly with my notes. 
Some after-demonstration of a similar kind produced a 
hiss from the opposite side of the room. I felt also a very 
Hght touch on my head, but I guess my quiet manner 
will soon stop any nonsense. 

November 22. — A trying day, and I feel almost worn 
out, though it was encouraging too, and in some measure 
a triumph; but 'tis a terrible ordeal! That dissection 
was just as much as I could bear. Some of the students 
blushed, some were hysterical, not one could keep in a 
smile, and some who I am sure would not hurt my 
feehngs for the world if it depended on them, held down 
their faces and shook. My dehcacy was certainly shocked, 
and yet the exhibition was in some sense ludicrous. I 
had to pinch my hand till the blood nearly came, and call 
on Christ to help me from smiling, for that would have 


ruined everything ; but I sat in grave indifiference, though 
the effort made my heart palpitate most painfully. Dr. 
Webster, who had perhaps the most trying position, be- 
haved admirably. 

November 24. — To-day the Doctor read my note to the 
class. In this note I told him that I was there as a 
student with an earnest purpose, and as a student simply 
I should be regarded ; that the study of anatomy was a 
most serious one, exciting profound reverence, and the 
suggestion to absent myself from any lectures seemed to 
me a grave mistake. I did not wish to do so, but would 
yield to any wish of the class without hesitation, if it was 
their desire. I stayed in the ante-room whilst the note 
was being read. I hstened joyfully to the very hearty 
approbation with which it was received by the class, and 
then entered the amphitheatre and quietly resumed my 
place. The Doctor told me he felt quite reUeved. 

No further difficulty ever afterwards occurred. 

December 4. — Dr. Webster sent for me to examine a 
case of a poor woman at his rooms. 'Twas a horrible 
exposure ; indecent for any poor woman to be subjected 
to such a torture ; she seemed to feel it, poor and ignorant 
as she was. I felt more than ever the necessity of my 
mission. But I went home out of spirits, I hardly know 
why. I felt alone. I must work by myself all life long. 

Christmas Day. — Bright and gay with sleighs. The 
lake looks most beautiful, the mist rising from it in arches, 
the sky a brilHant blue, and the ground covered with 
snow. I received my Christmas Annual with great joy ; 
and having purchased 25 cents' worth of almonds and 
raisins, I had quite a cosy time reading it. 

Sunday, January 16. — A most beautiful day ; it did me 
good. The text impressed itself on me — * Thou wilt keep 
him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.' I 


felt happy and blessed. Ah ! if the Almighty would 
always shine on me, how strong I should be ! * The Lord 
God is a sun and shield ; the Lord will give grace and 
glory ; no good thing will He withhold from them that 
walk uprightly/ 

The behaviour of the medical class during the 
two years that I was with them was admirable. It 
was that of true Christian gentlemen. I learned 
later that some of them had been inclined to think 
my application for admission a hoax, perpetrated at 
their expense by a rival college. But when the 
bona-fide student actually appeared they gave her a 
manly welcome, and fulfilled to the letter the pro- 
mise contained in their invitation. 

My place in the various lecture-rooms was 
always kept for me, and I was never in any way 
molested. Walking down the crowded amphitheatre 
after the class was seated, no notice was taken of 
me. Whilst the class waited in one of the large 
lecture-rooms for the Professor of Practice, groups 
of the v^ilder students gathered at the windows, 
which overlooked the grounds of a large normal 
school for young ladies. The pupils of this institu- 
tion knew the hour of this lecture, and gathered at 
their vdndows for a little fun. Here, peeping from 
behind the blinds, they responded to the jests and 
hurrahs of the students. ' See the one in pink ! ' 
* No, look at the one with a blue tie ; she has a 
note,' &c. — fun suddenly hushed by the entrance 
of the Professor. Meanwhile I had quietly looked 
over my notes in the seat always reserved for me, 

74 PIO!!(£EB WOSK 

entirely imdistnrbed by the frolic going on at the 

My studies in anatomy were most thongfatf nlly 
arranged by Dr. Le Ford, who selected f oxur of the 
steadier stadents to work with me in the private 
room of the snrgical professor, adjoining the amphi- 
theatre. There we worked erening after evening in 
the most firiendly way, and I gained cnrioos gUmpses 
into the escapades of stadent life. Being several 
years older than my companions, they treated me 
like an elder sister, and talked freely together, feel- 
ing my friendly sympathy. 

Under the inteUigent instraction of the demon- 
strator anatomy became a most fascinating stndy. 
The wonderful arrangements of the human body 
excited an interest and admiration which simply 
obliterated the more superficial feelings of repug- 
nance ; and I passed hour after hour at night alone 
in the college, tracing out the ramification of parts, 
until, suddenly struck by the intense stillness around, 
I found that it was nearly midnight, and the rest of 
the little town asleep. 

I was equally amazed and shocked some years 
later, after dining with Mr. Walsh, the American 
Consul in Paris, to learn that he had remarked tliat 
he could not look at my long slender fingers without 
thinking of the anatomical work in which they had 
been engaged. 

As the term drew to its end there was regret at 
parting from friends I had made, and also anxiety 
from the uncertainties that still attended my future 


course. These feelings are expressed in my jour- 
nal : — 

January 21. — I felt sad when the lectures actually 
closed. I received a ciudous friendly letter from one of 
the students, requesting the honour of an occasional cor- 
respondence. It cheered me, funny as it was. Another 
student told me he had a daguerreotype-room, and asked 
me to sit for my likeness to-morrow ; but I told him it 
had annoyed me so much to see my name in the papers 
that I certainly could not give my face too.^ He said he 
had thought of graduating in August, but now he was glad 
he had not, as I intended returning to Geneva — too 
fimny ! 

January 24. — Went to Dr. Hadley for my certificate ; 
and attended the examinations. I suppose they were as 
thorough as most ; but they were certainly not much of 
a test. Most of the students answered very well, but 
some very badly. 

Miss Waller gave me an oyster supper and we had a 
very pleasant time. Mrs. Wilson convulsed us by an 
accoimt of how she was actually struck down by the 
sudden braying of a jackass, which she heard for the first 
time during a visit to the North, she never having heard 
the bray before. 

* I was then very shy, and much annoyed by such public notices 
as the following : — 

* A very notable event of the year 1848 was the appearance at the 
medical lectures of a young woman student named Blackwell. She 
is a pretty little specimen of the feminine gender, said the Boston 
Medical Journal^ reporting her age at twenty-six. She comes into 
the class with great composure, takes off her bonnet and puts it 
under the seat, exposing a fine phrenology. The effect on the class 
has been good, and great decorum is observed while she is present. 
The sprightly Baltimore Sun remarked that she should confine her 
practice, when admitted, to diseases of the heart.' — Springfield 


January 25. — Attended Commencement (or ceremony 
of graduation), which after all was not so very formidable. 
When I went to wish Dr. Hadley good-bye I found the 
whole faculty assembled, and very merry at breaking up. 
They talked over my affairs, but gave me no important 
advice. To my great disappointment no letters of intro- 
duction were prepared for me, but only a promise given 
that they should be sent on at once. I was very sad at 
parting from the Wallers ; but had a pleasant chat with 
the students whom I found in the railroad cars. 

Passing through New York, where I dined v^ith 
my kind preceptor, Dr. S. H. Dickson, and his vdfe, 
then living in the town, I returned to Philadelphia 
to try and arrange for summer study. Whilst seek- 
ing medical opportunities I again stayed in Dr. 
Elder's family, and endeavoured to increase my 
slender finances by disposing of some stories I had 
written, and by obtaining music pupils. 

Knowing very little of practical medicine, I 
finally decided to spend the summer, if possible, 
studying in the hospital wards of the great Bleckley 
Almshouse of Philadelphia. This enormous institu- 
tion promised a fine field of observation. I obtained 
a letter of introduction to Mr. Gilpin, one of the 
directors of the almshouse. 

He received me most kindly, but informed me 
thai the institution was so dominated by party feel- 
ing that if he, as a Whig, should bring forward my 
application for admission, it would be inevitably 
opposed by the other two parties — viz. the Demo- 
crats and the Native Americans. He said that my 
V only chance of admission lay in securing the support 


of each of those parties, without referring in any way 
to the other rival parties. I accordingly undertook 
my sole act of * lobbying.* I interviewed each poli- 
tical leader with favourable results, and then sent in 
my petition to the first Board meeting— when, lo ! a 
unique scene took place ; all were prepared to fight 
in my behalf, but there was no one to fight ! I 
was unanimously admitted to reside in the hospital. 
This unanimity, I was afterwards assured, was quite 
without precedent in the records of the institution. 

On entering the Blockley Almshouse, a large 
room on the third floor had been appropriated to my 
use. It was in the women's sjrphilitic department, 
the most unruly part of the institution. It was 
thought that my residence there might act as a 
check on the very disorderly inmates. My presence 
was a mystery to these poor creatures. I used to 
hear stealthy steps approach and pause at my door, 
evidently curious to know what I was about. So I 
placed my table with the books and papers on which 
I was engaged directly in a line with the keyhole ; 
and there I worked in view of any who chose to in- 
vestigate the proceedings of the mysterious stranger. 
The following home letter gives a glimpse of the 
Blockley life : — 


Deab Mother, — Do not fear for me. I go on 
smoothly and healthily at Blockley ; there is really 
nothing pestilential amongst the diseases, and I live 
simply, do my duty, trust in God, and mock at the devil I 
The matron is the only lady in the establishment (present 
company excepted), and I frequently step in to see her. 


She wears a nice white cap, has smooth grey hair, and 
soft dove's eyes like yours, and I sometimes look at her 
and think of you till her loud voice breaks forth in fierce 
scolding, and then I think of Mrs. Beelzebub. She sits 
in an immense room, in the centre of the almshouse 
proper, and ensconced in her armchair, with feet propped 
on a velvet footstool, she dispenses orders from morning 
to night, gives out clothing, raves at the paupers, and 
dooms the refractory ones to a shower-bath. She is a 
Quaker — very pious, I believe — attends yearly meeting 
regularly, and has an Episcopal minister for her only son ; 
she is one of the * strong-minded women,' and manages 
matters to the entire satisfaction of the committee. I 
like to talk with her occasionally, for she is shrewd and 
has seen much of Hfe through dark spectacles. 

What a contrast she is to our head physician ! When 
I first saw Dr. Benedict I thought him the very loveliest 
man the Almighty ever created, and I still preserve my 
opinion ; the tears come into his eyes as he bends down 
to soothe some dying woman, and his voice is as gentle, 
his touch as kind to each patient as if she were his sister. 
Then he is as truthful, energetic, and spirited as he is 
kind, so, of course, we are very good friends, though we 
don't see much of each other. 

I often send a thought to Cincinnati as I roam through 
the wards and imagine our contrasted employments ; all 
letters unite in calling you the best, the most cheerful, 
most indefatigable mother that ever did exist. * All her 
daughters praise her, and her sons call her blessed.' 
How I wish you could pay me another visit this sum- 
mer ! Well, dear mother. Heaven bless you — write to 
me sometime. 

Your loving physician, E. 

At that time, and for many years after, the sub- 


ject which those wards where I Hved represented 
was an unknown problem to me. I was strangely 
ignorant of the extent and meaning of that phase of 
our human society which represents the selfish rela- 
tions of men and women. This semi-blindness, 
however, proved a real safeguard to me through the 
many unusual experiences of my subsequent life. It 
was not until 1869, when attending the Social Science 
Congress in Bristol, that my mind at last fully com- 
prehended the hideousness of modern fornication. 

But my residence at Blockley prepared my mind 
to some extent for later revelations, as is shown by 
entries in my journal : — 

June 22. — I had a long talk with Nurse Welch, on 
the patients in her departments, which impressed me 
deeply. Most of the women are unmarried, a large pro- 
portion having lived at service and been seduced by their 
masters, though, on the whole, about as many seducers 
are unmarried as married; I found no instance of a 
married woman living with her husband entering. 

This morning one young woman tried to escape from 
Blockley by tying sheets together and fastening them 
outside the window bars, but they giving way, she fell 
down from the third storey, and was picked up suffering 
from concussion of the brain and other injuries. All this 
is horrible ! Women must really open their eyes to it. 
I am convinced that they must regulate this matter. But 

August 17. — Drank tea with the matron, and had a 
very pleasant time. She excites me, and I influence her. 
She actually apologised to me for her rough and tyran- 
nical treatment of one of the women. 

August 19 — A beautiful thought came to me this 


lovely morning. .Emerson says, ' Our faith comes to us 
in moments, our vice is habitual/ I never till now could 
explain this to my satisfaction. It is that the atmosphere 
of our society, of our daily surroundings, is false ; it 
attracts the demons, they encompass us continually, for 
we live in their home. The angels have to strive to 
come to us. But when by a holy inspiration, or an effort 
of man's nobler nature, he rises to a purer sphere, then 
the angels throng lovingly round him : he breathes the 
Divine life. But the moment this effort is relaxed, he, 
not living in a heavenly atmosphere, naturally and 
inevitably sinks again into hell, because his present home 
is there — for he cannot separate himself from the race. 
Not till the race is redeemed will our habitual state be 
heavenly, and the true spontaneous Divine hfe be pos- 
sible. This is the philosophy of effort. The sohdarity of 
our race asserts the impossibihty of present permanent 
Divine Hfe. Bless God for our deep momentary expe- 
riences — our prophetic assurances ! This sweet morning 
refreshes me inexpressibly. The wind that lifts my hair 
seems filled with angel hands that soothe the soul to 
peace ; that little warbling bird fills me with holy joy ; a 
glory seems to rest everywhere, a tide from the Divine 

During my residence at Bleckley, the medical 
head of the hospital, Dr. Benedict, was most kind, 
and gave me every facility in his power. I had free 
entry to all the women's wards, and was soon on 
good terms with the nurses. But the yomig resi- 
dent physicians, unlike their chief, were not friendly. 
When I walked into the wards they walked out. 
They ceased to write the diagnosis and treatment of 
patients on the card at the head of each bed, which 


had hitherto been the custom, thus throwing me ^-^ 
entirely on my own resources for clinical study. 

During the summer of 1848 the famine fever was 
raging in Ireland. Multitudes of emigrants were 
attacked with fever whilst crossing the ocean, and 
so many were brought to Blockley that it was diffi- 
cult to provide accommodation for them, many being 
laid on beds on the floor. But this terrible epidemic 
furnished an impressive object-lesson, and I chose 
this form of typhus as the subject of my graduation 
thesis, studying in the midst of the poor dying 
sufferers who crowded the hospital wards. I read 
my thesis to Dr. Elder, and was greatly encouraged 
by his hearty approbation. 

Trying as my painful residence at Blockley had 
been both to body and mind, I was conscious of the 
great gain in medical knowledge and worldly experi- 
ence which it had afforded. The following journal 
entry expresses the mixed feeUngs with which that 
strange residence was left : — 

September 22. — My last evening at Blockley. Here I 
sit writing by my first fire. How glad I am, to-morrow, 
to-morrow, I go home to my friends 1 And yet as I 
watched the beautiful sunset from my great windows, as 
little Mary Ann pays her willing attendance, and all 
seems so friendly ; as I walked to Dr. Benedict's with 
my thesis, and felt the entrancing day and the lovely 
country, I almost regretted that I was going to leave. 
Heaven guide me 1 May good spirits ever surround me 1 

At the end of the summer I gladly returned to 
the healthy and hopeful college life at Geneva. 



Passing through New York, where I saw Dr. Dick- 
son and his family and heard Henry Ward Beecher 
preach, I reached my winter's home on October 3, 
reported myself at college, met everywhere a kind 
welcome, and settled down for winter work. The 
clever demonstrator again afforded me his valuable 
aid in anatomy, and the friendliness of the class con- 
tinued. Sometimes, whilst sitting by the Doctor 
during some delicate demonstration of the brain, 
the students who were crowding round, standing on 
chairs, leaning on one another's shoulders, kept most 
respectfully from me, drawing back instantly when 
by accident they touched my head or shoulder.^ 

October 26. — The class held a meeting to-day to request 
a holiday on election day ; and a political division was 
called for by the assembled students. I went over to the 
* Free Soil ' side, and was received with repeated cheer- 
ing. I asked Dr. Le Ford, reproachfully, if he was going to 
vote for the slave-holder, Taylor ; whereupon he gave me 
his reasons for poHtical action, and grew quite eloquent 
in his self-defence. 

November 12. — Howy made his appearance to-day, just 
as I settled down to perpetrate an essay for the family 
Christmas Annual. How good it is to see a brother! 
He looked very well, and we had a merry time together. 
1 stayed away from afternoon lectures to be with him. 
He is a capital companion and greatly improved. I did 
more laughing than I've done for months. His visit did 
me real good, for I have been so lonely. Heaven bless 
the dear boy in his futiure 1 

Sunday, l^th, — Alone all day in my room, yet any- 
thing but lonely. Bright visions of usefulness have been 

^ See Appendix I. 


floating round me. I consecrated myself anew to the 
accomplishment of a great idea. I tried to lecture for an 
hour to an imaginary audience; striving to prepare for 
work by seeking expression for my thoughts. 

I would I were not so exclusively a doer ; speech 
seems essential to the reformer, but mine is at present a 
very stammering, childish utterance. 

26th, — Went to church. Mr. Hogarth said some true 
things. He drew our thoughts to the reformers of old, 
with their subhme trust in the Most High. With a 
strange feehng of pleasure I claimed kindred with Asa, 
King of Judah, who broke the idols of the people and 
overcame the hosts of the Ethiopians. 

November 30. — Our evening lecture broke up in a poli- 
tical Hurrah ! for a Whig orator and John Van Buren were 
both speaking in the town, and the students rushed to 
attend the poHtical meetings. I again discussed the sub- 
ject with Dr. Le Ford ; he justifying himself enthusias- 
tically for being a Whig. He talked well, but I grew 
tired of those old expediences. 

By this time the genuine character of my medi- 
cal studies was fully established. 

Had I been at leisure to seek social acquaintance, 
I might have been cordially welcomed. But my 
time was anxiously and engrossingly occupied with 
studies and the approaching examinations. I lived 
in my room and my college, and the outside world 
made little impression on me. 

Extracts from the Journal. 

December 22. — The deepest snow I have seen for years. 
It was as much as I could do to walk to college ; but all 
was pleasant, the class seem so very friendly. One set 

o 2 


me a chair, another spoke so pleasantly, and I had several 
httle friendly chats. How httle they know my sensitive- 
ness to these trifling tokens ! The unusual weather, an 
alarm of fire, Dr. Webster's arrival, were so many points 
for sociability. 

December 31. — The New Year's Eve. Alone, as usual, 
I spent the day ; at night, as I watched the last moments 
of the year slowly depart, a deep solemnity came over 
me— a hopeless sorrow for poor humanity. I seemed to 
hear the heavy resounding bell of time, tolling mournfully 
the dying year, whilst angels with covered faces, and 
forms that bent with sorrow, waited to receive the finish- 
ing scroll of the world's existence, that the fearful record 
guarded in darkness and silence might at last be unrolled 
in the terrible Hght of eternity I 

January 1. — Stayed quietly in my room, whilst the 
merry sleigh-bells and gay voices rang without. 

11th. — I called to see the pretty bhnd girl operated on 
this morning ; she was all alone in the hotel, her friends 
far away. Poor child 1 she has no protector^ within or 
without ; she asked me who the student was that brought 
her home, when college would be out, &c. ; her simple 
heart and idle fancy are soon caught. Such are the 
women I long to surround with my stronger arm. Alas ! 
how almost hopeless does the task seem ! But God is 

January 19. — Dear M., — I sit down to try and quiet 
myself by writing to you for this morning. I, as first 
on the list of candidates, passed through the usual 
examinations, presented my certificates, received the 
testimony of satisfaction from the faculty, whose recom- 
mendation will procure me the diploma next Tuesday. 
Now, though the examinations were not very formidable, 
still the anxiety and effort were as great as if everything 
were at stake, and when I came from the room and 


joined the other candidates who were anxiously awaiting 
their turn, my face burned, my whole being was excited, 
but a great load was lifted from my mind. The students 
received me with applause — they all seem to like me, and 
I beheve I shall receive my degree with their united 
approval; a generous and chivalric feeUng having con- 
quered any Httle feelings of jealousy. I often feel when 
I am with them how beautiful the relations of man and 
woman might be under a truer development of character, 
in nobler circumstances. I do not know the moral cha- 
racter of any one of our students, for I have no genius for 
hunting up the darker parts of a person's soul ; but I know 
that Geneva is a very immoral place, the lower classes of 
women being often worthless, the higher ones fastidious 
and exclusive, so that there is no healthy blending of the 
sexes. But notwithstanding the bad associations in 
which they may have been brought up, I have never had 
any difficulty in giving the right tone to our intercourse. 
I am more convinced than ever that Fourier is right in 
placing this matter in the hands of women, and my hope 
rises when I find that the inner heart of the human being 
may still remain pure, notwithstanding some corruption 
of the outer coverings. I don't know if IVe ever told you 
how deep this matter of Hcentiousness has gradually 
sunk into my soul, and that the determination to wage a 
war of extermination with it strengthens continually, and 
the hope of gaining power and experience to do it 
worthily is one of my strongest supports in action. So 
help me God, I will not be bUnd, indifferent, or stupid 
in relation to this matter, as are most women. I feel 
specially called to act in this reform when I have gained 
wisdom for the task ; the world can never be redeemed 
tUl this central relation of Hfe is placed on a truer 

But I meant to talk to you about the cholera. Our 


physicians confessedly cannot cure it. The Professor 
who lectured upon it yesterday commenced : * Gentle- 
men, I wish I could tell you how to cure the cholera, but 
under all modes of treatment the mortality seems to be the 
same ; however, I will tell you something of the disease, 
and what I would do if called to a case/ 

The cordial relations with Professor and students 
continued. Throughout the examination time the 
most friendly interest was felt in my success by my 
fellow-students. One of my brothers came on to 
Geneva to attend my graduation. Being personally 
a stranger to the students, he was much amused by 
the free indications of friendly comradeship which he 
overheard. The ceremony of conferring the full and 
, equal diploma of Doctor of Medicine upon a woman 
excited much interest in the neighbourhood. It 
was held in the large Presbyterian Church, which, 
with its ample galleries, was crowded in every part 
with spectators. The other students walked in pro- 
cession from the college to the church, but I went 
up with my brother and took my seat in the side 

Extracts from the Journal of 1849. 

January 22. — Our examinations came off successfully. 
Hurrah, 'tis almost over ! 

Tuesday^ January 23, 1849. — The day, the grand 
day, is nearly finished ; and now whilst visitors are drop- 
ping in I must record my first entrance into pubUc life — 
'twas bright and beautiful and very gratifying. Great 
curiosity was felt. As I entered and sat in the church I 


gave one thought to friends, and then thought only of the 
Holy One. After the degree had been conferred on the 
others, I was called up alone to the platform. The Presi- 
dent, in full academical costume, rose as I came on the 
stage, and, going through the usual formula of a short 
Latin address, presented me my diploma. I said : ' Sir, 
I thank you ; it shall be the effort of my life, with the help 
of the Most High, to shed honour on my diploma.' The 
audience applauded, but their presence was Httle to me. 
I was filled with a sense of the grandeur of a holy life, with 
high resolves for the future. As I came down, George 
Field opened the door of the front row, and I was much 
touched by the graduates making room for me, and insist- 
ing that I should sit with them for the remainder of the 
exercises. Most gladly I obeyed the friendly invitation, 
feeUng more thoroughly at home in the midst of these 
true-hearted young men than anywhere else in the town. 
I heard Httle of what was said ; my whole soul was ab- 
sorbed in heavenly communion. I felt the angels around 
me. Dr. Lee gave the valedictory address ; he surprised 
me by the strong and beautiful way in which he alluded 
to the event. I felt encouraged, strengthened to be 
greatly good. As I stood at the door the faculty all most 
kindly wished me good-bye, and Dr. Hale and Bishop De 
Lancy shook hands and congratulated me. All the ladies 
collected in the entry, and let me pass between their 
ranks ; and several spoke to me most kindly. 

For the next few hours, before I left by train, my 
room was thronged by visitors. I was glad of the sudden 
conversion thus shown, but my past experience had 
given me a useful and permanent lesson at the outset of 
Ufe as to the very shallow nature of popularity. 

The following letter, written by a younger 
brother who came to be with me on this important 


occasion, gives some interesting as well as amusing 
details of the event : — 

^ Geneva : January 23, 1849. 

Beloved Eelations. — The important crisis is past, 
the great occasion over, the object of so much and 
so justifiable anticipation has been attained, and proud 
as I always feel of the Blackwells, my familism never 
seemed to me so reasonable and so perfectly a matter 
of course as it did this morning, when, having escorted 
E. into the crowded church and taken my seat beside 
her, we learned from the music that the graduating 
class, headed by the dean, trustees, faculty, &c., were 
marching in solemn conclave into the aisle. I found 
E. well and in good spirits, as you may suppose. 
Monday morning E. and I went to the college, where 
she underwent a second examination, as did also the 
other members of the graduating class, from the cura- 
tors of the university, no others but themselves, the class, 
and the faculty being admitted. From this, as from the 
former one, our Sis came off with flying colours and 
the reputation of being altogether the leader of the class. 
In the afternoon they were successively called upon to 
read from their theses, and to this I was admitted ; but 
Elizabeth's being in Buffalo to be printed, she could not 
be called upon. The Professor and students all seem to 
feel most kindly and warmly friendly. While I sat by 
the stove on Monday morning at the college whilst the 
graduating class were undergoing their examination below, 
the other students, scarcely any of them being acquainted 
with my personality, conversed freely about matters and 
things, and of course about Elizabeth. * Well, boys,* one 
would say, * our Elib. feels first-rate this morning. Do you 
notice how pleased she looks?' 'Yes, indeed,' rephed 
another, * and I think she well may after the examination 
she passed yesterday.' * So Lizzie will get her diploma 


after all/ said a third. ' If any member of the class gets 
one, she is sure of it/ said a fourth. Then all agreed that 
* our Elib.' was * a great girl/ and in short I found that 
she was a universal favourite with both professors and 
students. Nothing could be more cordial than the former 
are, and several are very gentlemanly and intelligent 
men indeed, and I formed some pleasant acquaintances 
among them. 

On the morning of the Commencenient little Dr. 
Webster was in his glory ; he is a warm supporter of 
Elizabeth and Hkes a fuss, and nothing could exceed 
his delight when he found that the whole country round 
was sending in large numbers of people, and that all 
the ladies of Geneva were turning out en masse to see 
a lady receive a medical diploma. At ten o'clock a.m. the 
students met at the college and marched in procession with 
music to the Literary College, where they were headed 
by the Bishop of New York, Dr. Hale, the dean, and the 
curators, the faculty, &c. Dr. Webster was very anxious 
that E. should march in procession, and sent down two 
messages to that effect; but E. very properly refused. 
About half-past ten o'clock EHzabeth and I walked up 
to the church — she was very nicely dressed in her black 
brocaded silk gown, invisibly green gloves, black silk 
stockings, &c. As we ascended the college steps, Dr. 
Webster met Eliz. and again urged the request, where- 
upon she told him peremptorily that *it wouldn't be 
ladylike.' * Wouldn't it indeed ? Why, no, I forgot — I 
suppose it wouldn't,* said the little Doctor, evidently 
struck for the first time with the idea. So it was arranged 
that EHz. and I should sit down at the entrance of the 
left aisle and join the procession as it came up, and we 
then walked in and sat down. We found the church,- gal- 
leries and all, crowded with ladies, they only having been 
as yet admitted ; and of course when we came in there 


was a general stir and murmur, and everybody turned 
to look at us. By the time the procession came up, all 
the pews, except those reserved for students, were filled, 
and the gentlemen had to pour in afterwards and take the 
aisles, &c. When the procession entered, Mr. Field, a 
very pleasant, gentlemanly fellow-graduate, offered his 
arm, and all the class took their seats together in front of 
the stage. After a short discourse by Dr. Hale, the Presi- 
dent, the diplofnas were conferred — four being called up 
at a time — and, ascending the steps to the platform, the 
President, addressed them in a Latin formula, taking off 
his hat, but remaining seated, and so handed them their 
diplomas, which they received with a bow and retired. 
EHzabeth was left to the last and called up alone. The 
President taking off his hat, rose, and addressing her in 
the same formula, substituting Domina for Domine, pre- 
sented her the diploma, whereupon our Sis, who had 
walked up and stood before him with much dignity, 
bowed and half turned to retire, but suddenly turning 
back replied : * Sir, I thank you ; by the help of the Most 
High it shall be the effort of my life to shed honour upon 
your diploma ; ' whereupon she bowed and the President 
bowed, the audience gave manifestations of applause, 
little Dr. Webster rubbed his hands, the learned curators 
and faculty nodded grave approbation at each other upon 
the platform, and our Sis, descending the steps, took her 
seat with her fellow-physicians in front. Now walks up 
into the pulpit Professor Lee, with a large manuscript and 
a solemn air, and commences his address to the graduates. 
It was on the whole good ; he gave it pretty strong to 
Homceopathists, Hydropathists, Mesmerists, Thompso- 
nians, &c., and gave the ladies of the audience quite a 
lecture for their encouragement and circulation of quack 
medicines, informing them that they had better study 


a little the principles of medicine before attempting to 
practise what they were so profoundly ignorant about. 
At the close he alluded to the novel proceeding which 
they had taken, and the censure or imitation which it 
would necessarily create. He justified the proceeding, 
and passed a most gratifying and enthusiastic encomium 
on the result of the experiment in the case of Eliz. He 
pronounced her the leader of her class ; stated that she had 
passed through a thorough course in every department ^ 
shghting none ; that she had profited to the very utmost 
by all the advantages of the institution, and by her lady- 
Hke and dignified deportment had proved that the 
strongest intellect and nerve and the most untiring per- 
severance were compatible with the softest attributes of 
feminine dehcacy and grace, &c., to all which the stu- 
dents manifest by decided attempts at applause their 
entire concurrence. As the audience passed out the 
Bishop came up with Dr. Hale, requested an intro- 
duction, and spoke very pleasantly, congratulating her on 
her course, to the great astonishment of the conservatives. 
As we walked out of the church we found that almost all 
the ladies had stopped outside, and as we appeared, 
opened their ranks and let us pass, regarding E. with 
very friendly countenances. Most of E.'s time was taken 
up till our departure next day at half -past one o'clock in 
receiving calls from her few friends. 

The admission of a woman for the first time to a 
complete medical education and full equality in the 
privileges and the responsibilities of the profession 
produced a widespread effect in America. The 
public press very generally recorded the event, and 
expressed a favourable opinion of it. 


Even in Europe some notice of it was taken, and 
* Punch ' showed his cordial appreciation by his 
amusing but friendly verses.^ 

I knew, however, that a first step only had been 
taken. Although popular sanction had been gained 
for the innovation, and a full recognised status 
secured, yet much more medical experience than I 
possessed was needed before the serious responsi- 
bilities of practice could be justly met. Returning, 
therefore, to Philadelphia, I endeavoured still to 
continue my studies. I was politely received by the 
heads of the profession in Philadelphia as a pro- 
fessional sister, and made the following notes in a 
journal of that date : — 

March 6. — A morning of great gratification ; wel- 
comed cordially to the university, and afterwards heard 
Doctors Jackson, Hodges, Gibson, Chapman, and Homer 
lecture. Drs. Lee and Ford were with me, the former 
quite in spirits at my reception. 

March 10. — Heard Dr. Williamson lecture and re- 
ceived his ticket. Visited the Pennsylvania Hospital, 
Dr. Levich showing me over it ; admired the gallery with 
its alcoves and the excellent ventilation. I heard Professor 
Agassiz last night. He has just commenced a course of 
lectures on the animal world; his manner was simple 
and earnest, and the principle he laid down will render 
his course of lectures very interesting if he develop them 
fully. I am also rubbing up my French, which may be 
very important to me. 

The following letter is characteristic of that 
period of life : — 

' See Appendix II. 


February 25. 

My deab Mother. — You sent me a dear, good, 
welcome letter, and I kiss you heartily for all its affection 
and sympathy in my eccentric course. I did not miss 
out, either, any of the pious parts, but I do think, 
mother mine, that it is a little hard that you will not 
believe me when I tell you so seriously that my soul is 
doing first-rate. You urge upon me the importance of 
religion — why, bless the dear mother, what am I doing 
else but living rehgion all the time ? Isn't it my meat and 
my drink to do the good will of God ; didn't I use to sit 
in the lecture-room and send up a whole cannonade of 
little prayers ; and didn't a whole flood of answers come 
straight down from the throne of grace ? And what am I 
doing now ? Do you think I care about medicine ? Nay, 
verily, it's just to kill the devil, whom I hate so heartily 
— that's the fact, mother ; and if that isn't forming Christ 
in one, the hope of Glory, why, I don't know what is. 
So pray comfort yourself, and have faith that such a 
* child of many prayers ' will be fixed up all straight at 
last. ... I hve in a good society, the fellowship of hard- 
workers, for however Uttle the result of my actions may 
be, I have the strengthening conviction that my aim is 
right, and that I, too, am working after my Httle fashion 
for the redemption of mankind. I agree with you fully in 
distrusting the * Harbinger,' and should certainly banish 
it from my centre table if I had risen to the dignity of 
possessing one. I dislike their discussions, and their way 
of discussing some subjects. I think them calculated to 
do a great deal of mischief, and am only consoled by the 
reflection that few people read them. I go in whole- 
souledly for the Divine marriage institution, and shall 
always support it by precept, and as soon as I get the 
chance by example too, and all those who would upset it 


I consider fools and infidels. I think Associationists too 
often a very poor set of people, and if they would 
commence by reforming themselves, and let the Almighty 
take care of the world, I think they would be much 
better employed. As to the infidel French philosophy 
you talk of, it is just twaddle, which I should instantly 
reject if anybody were to stuff it into me. I am now 
longing to be at work abroad, where I might spend my 
time much more profitably — but I do want greatly to see 
you all again. How long it is since I was at home 1 — more 
than five years, I think. I cannot consent to become a 
stranger to the Geschwistern, and W. and E. & E. seem 
almost unknown. Good-bye, dear mother. I shall see 
you soon, and then you will be able to read me sermons 
to your heart's content. — Your M. D. 

I felt, however, keenly the need of much vdder 
opportunities for study than were open to women in 
America. "Whilst considering this problem I received 
an invitation from one of my cousins, then visiting 
America, to return with him to England, and en- 
deavour to spend some time in European study 
before engaging in practice in America. This valu- 
able offer was joyfully accepted, and I prepared for 
a journey to Europe, first of all paying a short fare- 
well visit to my family in Cincinnati. 

Extracts from the Journal. 

April 5. — How kind and good and glad to see me 
they all were ! I walked out with S. and met them all. 
G. had quite grown out of my knowledge. I am very 
glad to have spent this fortnight at home. We had 
general and private talks without end. 

April 7. — They all came down to see me off. They 


stood on the adjoining boat as we sailed away up the 
river, mother leanmg on S., the three sisters on one 
side, H. and G. on the other, all hearts in sympathy. 
I could not keep down the tears as I caught the last 
ghmpse of those dear, true ones. 

Travelling East, I joined my cousin in Boston, 
whence we sailed for Liverpool. 

Extracts from the Journal. 

April 18. — Dear Mr. Channing was with me till I 
left. His medical uncle, Dr. Channing, also came to see 
me. I never met my old friend more fully ; he regretted 
deeply this flying visit, which disappointed him in the 
talks he had planned. Beautiful Boston Bay vanished 
in the distance. America, that land of memories, was left 
far behind. I took to my berth and lay there in misery 
five days and nights. How I loathe the ship ! 




On April 30 we landed at Liverpool, and I began to 
make acquaintance with the wonderful and unknown 
Old World, which I had left when a child of eleven. 
Everything seemed new and striking. The sub- 
stantial character of Liverpool, the ' finished look * 
of the surrounding country, the extraordinary cha- 
racter of the mining district — all awakened keen 
interest. My poor cousin being ill with rheumatism, 
however, we journeyed on at once to his home 
at Portway Hall, near Dudley. A fortnight was 
spent in this pleasant home, which, though in the 
centre of the ' Black Country,' was surrounded by 
gardens where the flowers were fresh and sweet, the 
trees in beautiful leaf, whilst the cuckoo saluted us 
in the morning and the nightingales at night. I 
gained a glimpse of the lovely English country, and 
spent a memorable time in examining the novel 
surroundings of the great mining district of England. 
The following letters are descriptive of a young 
student's impressions on revisiting her native land 
more than a generation ago. 


Portway : May 2, 1849. 

Thanks be to Heaven, I am on land once more, and 
never do I wish again to experience that hideous night- 
mare—a voyage across the ocean. We had the warmest 
welcome at my cousin's pleasant home. ... I went 
one afternoon to see the casting — that is, when the melted 
iron, like a river of fire, flows into the moulds which 
shape it. The Kussel Hall Works are close by the town 
of Dudley. There is a wide extent of smoky country, 
with many Httle groups of machinery and brick buildings, 
each constituting or rather surrounding a pit ; many 
mounds of glowing coal turning into coke ; piles of iron- 
stone being burned previous to the smelting ; the houses 
of the managers in various directions, the ofiBce at the 
entrance ; and immediately in front the two great blast- 
furnaces, which burn incessantly day and night, making 
many thousands of tons a year. Very few workmen 
were to be seen, but underground a whole army of them 
were hard at work. The casting was very curious. Twice 
a day the melted iron is drawn off from the bottom of the 
great brick towers they call furnaces. Strong men with 
faces as black and scorched as a coal were busy, armed 
with iron poles, guiding the sea of fire that rushed out 
into the moulds that covered a great extent of ground, 
drawing out the white-hot masses of cinders and dirt, 
and splashing cold water over the front of the furnace to 
enable them to stand there. We remained at the farther 
end, but the heat was so great that we had to cover our 
faces. Suddenly, with a loud noise, the flames burst out 
from the furnaces, ascending to the very top, immense 
volumes of black smoke rolled over our heads, and 
the rushing noise grew louder and louder. I thought 
some accident had occurred, and looked out for the 
safest retreat, when I found it was only the clearing of 



the furnaces by sending a powerful blast through them, 
which was always practised after a casting. Within 
a square of twelve miles one- sixth of the iron used in 
the world is said to be made. ... I paid a visit to 
Dudley Castle, having a great curiosity to see a veritable 
old castle, a ruined castle ; and I explored every comer, 
looked up the broad chimneys, and peeped out of the 
stone window frames and loopholes with a feeling of 
true antiquarian enthusiasm. We sat down on a stone 
bench at the foot of the keep, which is very old, and on 
a little hill on the western side of the courtyard ; there 
we tried to revive the scene as it may have looked 
hundreds of years ago, when armed men were busthng 
about the coiu:t, and visions of fair ladies gleaming from 
the upper windows and now ruined terraces. The 
castle crowns a wooded hill, commanding the town and 
level country for many miles ; the remains of a double 
wall with a moat between still surround the castle. As 
I stood by those strong walls and looked down on the 
wide fields below, I began to imagine how grandly an 
army would approach, and how noble a defence the 
castle would make, till I longed to revive the ancient 
conflicts, and almost frightened my companions by my 
martial demonstrations and visions of grim warriors 
peeping through the iron-barred windows. But the 
illusion could not last long ; the country is covered with 
smoke and coal-pits, the wallflower is smihng on the 
ruins of the old castle, and instead of subterranean 
dungeons and dark passages the hill is excavated for 
limestone ; and these artificial caverns of enormous 
extent, with a canal winding through them and echoing to 
the voices of the workmen, form one of the most curious 
features of the place, and show how the same energy and 
power are still at work, though in a very different direction. 
We drove home through the little town of Dudley, which 


presented a most curious spectacle, for it was market 
day, and the workmen from all the country round, having 
received their wages, were come in with their wives and 
children to make their weekly purchases. The streets 
were crammed with people, and our carriage made its 
way through a hving mass that hardly opened to let it 
through. I examined the people, as I have constantly 
done since I entered the country, with great curiosity. 
I could not see one handsome face in the whole 
multitude — indeed, the EngHsh appear to me a very 
common-looking people — but neither was I struck by the 
misery I expected to see. In Liverpool I had peered 
into all the back alleys and odd corners I could 
find ; I have done the same in Dudley. There is great 
cleanliness observed everywhere, that compares most 
favourably with American cities, and the inhabitants of 
those districts, though miserable, of course, according to a 
true standard of human life, were neither more numerous 
nor more wretched than I have been accustomed to see 
in America. I have very rarely seen a beggar, and in no 
instance one that has particularly excited my compassion. 
This district is one of the most thickly peopled in 
England, and certainly presents an average view of the 
mining districts, and the poor labourers seem far more 
comfortable and inteUigent than I had supposed. The 
manufacturing districts, I have no doubt, would present 
a different spectacle. I have had no opportunity of 
judging them. I have just learned to my great satis- 
faction that Mr. Charles Plevins, an old friend of my 
cousin, is going to London for a few days, and will escort 
me there and remain during my stay. I can hardly tell 
you what a relief this is, for the idea of going to that 
great city an entire stranger, and wandering about it 
utterly alone, was a most desolate, oppressive thought, 
and entirely destroyed all the pleasure of the anticipation, 

H 2 


though I assumed a very independent tone in speaking of 
my journey when I found it was utterly impossible for 
cousin to accompany me. He is an old friend of cousin's, 
though young— only twenty-five — and there is an air of 
youth and immaturity about all his opinions and actions ; 
but his spirit is so beautiful that you have only to see 
in order to love it, so pure and gentle, so true and genial. 
In my opinion he belongs to a class of young Englishmen 
that I find is large and constantly increasing. Cousin 
S. is one of them. They are reformers in spirit, but not 
destroyers ; they have no clear iramediate plan of reform, 
and so earnestly maintain the present system until they 
find a better one ; but they are all the time seeking for 
truth, and longing most earnestly to realise that grand 
future in which they all believe. Fichte is one of their 
favourite teachers; Carlyle, Emerson, Channing, all we 
have known and learned from in the past, they worship 
now ; but they have yet to study Fourier and Swedenborg 
before they can reach that strong hope and clear insight 
which will make their working strong, happy, and prac- 
tically efiicient. Now, there is too much of metaphysical 
abstraction in their thoughts, their religious faith is not 
a glorious reality, and in the case of our friend Charles, 
he despises the material world too much, and seeks to 
subdue the body and purify the spirit by privations which 
proceed from the noblest motive but a mistaken faith. 

I have a curious interest in seeing and hearing him ; 
it revives so completely my earher Hfe, when I thought 
as he does now, and strove for the same ends by the 
same means. My medical effort won his admiration 
before I arrived, and since I came here he has done me 
every little service in his power. His family is an old 
and highly respected one in Birmingham, and when he 
found I wished to see something of medicine in the city 
he used his influence to arrange a useful day for me. 


Accordingly, the day before yesterday I went in with 
him to Birmingham, having received invitations from 
several physicians. We spent the day in visiting the 
various institutions together, and as it was my first intro- 
duction to the English medical world, and as I consider it 
a good omen, I must describe our doings particularly. 

Mr. Parker, surgeon to the Queen's Hospital, had 
some difficulty in beHeving that it was not an ideal being 
that was spoken of ; but when he found I was really and 
truly a Hving woman he sent me an invitation to witness 
the amputation he was going to perform, and promised 
to show me all the arrangements of the institution, 
sending also a note of admission to the college and 
museum. Dr. Evans, a distinguished physician, invited 
me to the General Hospital, the largest and oldest one, 
and expressed much sympathy in my undertaking. Dr. 
McKay, of the Lying-in Hospital, thought that God and 
Nature had indicated the unfitness of women for such a 
pursuit as I had chosen, but still said he would be very 
happy to show the lady all he could. All the students 
were on the qui vive to see the lady surgeon, and as we 
approached the building I saw them peeping through 
doors and windows. Mr. Parker, a fat, rosy-faced John 
Bull, received me very poHtely, introduced me to some 
M.D.'s who had come to see the sight, showed me 
the arrangements of the hospital, which is young and 
not particularly interesting, and then took me to the 
operating-room. It was crammed with students, and as 
fresh ones arrived they would peep about, whisper to 
their neighbours, and then work their way to a place 
where they could see me. It was just a repetition of old 
scenes ; a few minutes* curiosity, and then all went on as 
usual. The students presented the same mixture of faces 
as our American ones, wore rather better coats, and 
seemed to be quicker in their movements. I noted 


nothing peculiar in the operation, which was skilfully 
performed, without chloroform, which Mr. Parker dis- 
liked. Before leaving, he offered me a letter to the 
famous Koux of Paris. 

At the General Hospital, established sixty years. 
Dr. He slop received me with the utmost deference, 
showed me every ward, male and female, pointed out 
every case of note, let me examine it, and detailed the 
treatment, particularly one operation for subclavian 
aneurism, which was so remarkable that they were going 
to publish the case. Dr. Percy, of Birmingham, a par- 
ticular friend of S., has promised to meet me in London, 
and to furnish me with all the necessary introduction to 
give me an insight into the medical world of the great 
metropolis. So I look forward now with great hope to a 
short but delightful visit, and leave for London next 
Saturday, the 12th, to await my passports, which I shall 
probably receive with letters on the 16th, and then off 
again for the land of dancing and wooden shoes. I 
heard the cuckoo this morning ; what a soft human 
sound it is ! Last night the nightingales were singing 
sweetly in the twilight. Our garden is full of lovely 
English flowers ; the primrose and cowslip, laurustinea, 
and many others make our garden beautiful, though the 
weather is a most cold, gloomy nurse to the little darlings. 

May 17. — We left Portway yesterday afternoon. I 
parted from our friends with great regret ; we were 
getting used to one another ; a home feeling was growing 
up there to me, and so it was time to be off. We arrived 
late in London, so I could only remark the many hand- 
some houses in gardens that marked its environs, the 
fine and spacious orderly railway station, the wide streets 
and gay shops. This morning, after seeing Dr. Percy, 
Cousin S.'s friend, who has promised to give me the 
necessary introductions to the hospitals to-morrow, we 


walked about five miles through the city before reaching 
Mrs. X/s house in Devonshire Street. During our walk 
we passed through many handsome squares with monu- 
ments and pubHc buildings, not an isolated one, as with 
us, but row after row of grand pillared edifices, whole 
streets of palaces, substantial, built of freestone, but all 
rendered dingy by smoke, which permeates the atmo- 
sphere and penetrates everywhere. The most venerable 
pile of Westminster Abbey is crumbling with age ; the 
cathedral service was being chanted when we entered ; 
the central space was filled with people. The aisles are 
in the form of a cross, bordered by tall pillars rising Ipfty 
and plain to support the long vistas of arches. The 
spaces are filled up by a wilderness of monuments, a 
subdued light pouring in, a cool, stony atmosphere filling 
the cathedral. It is a noble old building, and has im- 
pressed me more than anything I've seen. From West- 
minster Bridge I saw the new Houses of ParUament — an 
immense pile, the ornaments too delicate for its size. 
The poor Httle river was covered with boats, and the 
bridge with people enjoying the Sunday ; but London was 
much quieter than I supposed it would be. I noticed 
but one * confectionery store ' partly open ; the day seemed 
to be very strictly observed. We walked through Kegent 
Street, and through endless rows of handsome houses 
constituting the *West End,' to Mrs. X.'s. We were 
shown in by a footman in crimson plush breeches, white 
stockings, and claret-coloured coat with gold buttons, to 
the drawing-rooms — the walls lined with figured crimson 
velvet, and all manner of lounges and tables covered 
with knick-knackery scattered about. The lady made 
her appearance in a blue and black satin dress with jet 
ornaments and a lace headdress — a handsome brunette, 
with red cheeks and very black eyes and hair, and alto- 
gether too much mannerism to please me. She was 


evidently criticising me, and holding herself in a non- 
committal attitude. I sat still and talked very quietly, 
thinking to myself that if I were condemned to live there 
one week I should overturn the lady and smash every- 
thing to atoms. Presently a few fashionable morning 
visitors dropped in to condole with the lady, who had 
scratched her throat by swallowing a mouthful too 
hastily, and so was an invalid ; some messages of inquiry 
and condolence were delivered by an old, grave footman, 
so very silly, and answered in so absurd a manner, that I 
wondered how the man could keep a grave countenance ; 
and yet the lady had wit and spirit which occasionally 
flasTied out. Sir J. H. came in with Dr. H. to see me. 
I had a little very pleasant talk, and am to meet him on 
Tuesday. We descended to lunch, ladies sitting down in 
their bonnets. The dining-room and Hbrary had ceihngs 
beautifully painted to imitate the sky with clouds ; the 
whole house was hung with paintings. The lady's 
manner grow gradually pleasanter ; she seemed to Hke 
me, admired my hand, and insisted on my drinking a 
glass of wine — the first I ever took. I told her so, and 
she was much pleased at her influence. She took us in 
her barouche through Kegent's Park, and then extended 
her drive to Hyde Park. These parks are very beautiful — 
miles of grassy lawn, scattered over with groves, gardens, 
and clumps of trees, with occasional water, and varied 
with little valleys. They are surrounded by rows of 
palace houses, sometimes approaching the carriage road, 
sometimes lost in gardens and shrubbery. I did enjoy 
to see the people walking about, sitting under the trees, 
inhaling a little fresh air on the quiet Sunday, for the 
most perfect order prevailed. Our hostess became quite 
agreeable, laughed, and chatted merrily about all manner 
of nothings. It was impossible to converse with her; 
she must do the talking with a little support, and she gave 


forth a good deal of shrewd worldly wisdom. She set us 
down at the Zoological Gardens in Kegent's Park, with 
many regrets that an engagement to a dinner-party in the 
country prevented her asking me home, and the expres- 
sion of a strong desire to have a long, full conversation. 

Monday, May 1849.— This morning I called on Dr. Car- 
penter, who has written those admirable works on phy- 
siology. He Hves near Kegent's Park ; it was spark- 
Hng with dew as I walked through— refreshingly sweet. 
I found him and his wife exceedingly agreeable. I liked 
them at once. They questioned me with great interest 
about my past course. I am to meet some distinguished 
people at their house to-night, and among them a Miss 
Gillies, an artist who has watched my steps with the 
highest pleasure, and who thinks the only true livers 
are the workers. I received several notes of intro- 
duction from Dr. C. He says I must hear Mr. Paget 
lecture ; that he is the most promising surgeon in Eng- 
land. I found an invitation to a pharmaceutical soirde 
awaiting me on my return, with the information that I 
might see all the distinguished M.D.'s there assembled. 

Evening. — I have just retm-ned from Dr. C.'s delight- 
ful Httle party. The ladies were in regular ball costume ; 
some dresses very elegant ; dancing to the piano ; music, 
vocal and instrumental. Dr. C. gave us a very beautiful 
piece of Mendelssohn's on the organ ; he and his wife 
sang together with great feeling. His microscopes, said 
to be the most beautiful in England, were there. His 
preparations were exquisite : the lung of a frog most 
minutely injected, a piece of shark skin which seems 
covered with innumerable teeth, and piles of other speci- 
mens. Miss GiUies is a distinguished artist. I am to 
visit her and see her relation. Dr. Southwood Smith. 
Chapman, the well-known publisher, was present, and 
talked a good deal to me, but seemed a httle undecided 


what tone to take. He has a very handsome, intellectual 
face. I was introduced to many pleasant people ; one 
had the rare, beautiful face of Cowper's mother. Great 
interest seemed to be felt in my course. 

Before going to Dr. C.'s I went to examine the 
specimens collected for the pharmaceutical soirde. I 
was surprised to find that the papier-mdchd models have 
been hitherto unknown in England, and that the people 
were regarding with the utmost rapture specimens which 
are in common use in all American colleges. Sir 
J. H. drove us to the Consumption Hospital and the 
Chelsea Botanical Gardens — a most kind-hearted, simple- 
mannered old gentleman. . . . 

Dr. Percy secured me a great treat. I visited the 
Hunterian Museum in company with Mr. Owen, who 
lectures at the institution. It is said to be the finest 
collection of comparative and morbid anatomy in the 
world. Mr. Owen is a man of genius, and the hour 
passed away like a minute while hstening to his eloquent 
descriptions of the fossil remains and the laws which re- 
lated them to living animals, to man, and to the globe. He 
invited me to come any morning between ten and twelve, 
but unfortunately my time is too crowded. The obstetric 
collection is very fine ; if I return through London I 
shall certainly try to spend a week or two in examining it. 

We next took the railroad and went to Greenwich, 
choosing the third-class open cars that I might see the 
country, which is laid out in market gardens richly culti- 
vated, all round London, though the city, stretching out 
through Deptford fco Greenwich, makes one uninterrupted 
town in that direction. Greenwich Hospital for Sailors 
has impressed me more than any other institution with 
the power and wealth of the nation. It is a series of 
great palaces, connected by colonnades with double rows 
of pillars ranged round a large green open to the river, 


with the park and observatory in the background. The 
old sailors were hobbling about in comfortable dresses, 
with enormous rations of bread and meat ; for we 
reached it just at dinner-time, and they were allowed to 
take their meals and eat in their cabins. There are long 
walks where they smoke, and they rove about in the 
freest style. Their chapel is a very beautiful hall, 
though I fear the rich painting and mosaic is lost on the 
rough tars. The Painted Hall is immediately opposite ; 
the vaulted ceihng is covered with figures which are 
larger than life, even from below ; the walls are entirely 
covered with large paintings, richly framed, of naval 
engagements and naval heroes, and many relics of the 
great commanders are preserved in cases. The park is 
always open to the pubHc ; groups of women and chil- 
dren were sitting under the fine old trees, and the deer 
were so tame that they took no notice of passers-by. 
We sailed up the river to Waterloo Bridge, passing the 
Tower and St. Paul's, and several handsome stone 
bridges. Then we went over the British Museum, which 
is thrown open to the pubHc. We had only time to pass 
rapidly through hall after hall devoted to branches of 
natural science, Egyptian monuments, Grecian remains, 
&c., all admirably classified, with a label to every speci- 
men. How I longed that our students, and particularly 
a certain E. B., could enjoy the great advantage of walk- 
ing to such an institution, and seeing each object of 
study actually there in its natural relations ! I hastened 
home to wash and dress, and reached Mrs. X.'s just in 
time for the seven o'clock dinner. It was a tremendous 
operation. We sat at table for three hours. I really 
grew stiff, notwithstanding the champagne I drank. By- 
the-by, that is the only wine I like ; iced champagne is 
really good. I sat by Sir J. H. at table, and never 
discovered till I had left that it was actually mother's 


old friend. He told Charles that he knew my mother, 
and remembered my face perfectly, having often seen me 
at church. I regretted exceedingly that I did not know 
the connection till too late, for I had always liked the 
kind old gentleman, and he would have seemed to me 
quite like an old friend. He has been rather unfortunate 
in money matters lately, and was robbed of all his family 
jewels by a foreign count and countess w^hom he was 
hospitably entertaining. He possesses an old chfi,teau in 
France, which he often visits, and gave me his card to use 
at Boulogne, in case I went that way. The general conver- 
sation, however, was stupid, and I really needed our three- 
mile walk home to wear off its constraining effects. . . . 

Thursday morning I visited my first hospital, St. 
Thomas's, but under rather unpleasant circumstances ; 
indeed, I hesitated whether to go at all. The surgeon to 
whom I sent my letter of introduction knew nothing 
about me, thought it was a very indelicate undertaking, 
and simply sent me a line to one of the nurses, with the 
request that I would not enter any of the men's wards. 
I swallowed the indignity, however, and went, feeling 
very uncomfortable. But to my surprise, after I had 
been there a little while I was met by Mr. South, the 
senior surgeon, who had come on purpose to meet me 
and show me everything — a very kind, rather eccentric 
man, who paid me the utmost attention, and pointed out 
everything, even to the everlasting brewhouse of the 
establishment. In the museum he drew my attention to 
many noteworthy specimens, such as the aorta tied by 
Sir Astley Cooper. St. Thomas's is a series of enormous 
buildings, which is the character of most public institu- 
tions here ; its income is 30,000Z. per annum, and some 
hospitals have even more. Then he invited me to attend 
his clinical lecture ; so at the head of a large body of 
students, who had been peeping at me in every direction, 


I passed with him through ward after ward, men's and 
women's, the students preserving the most perfect order, 
though I could see that they were filled with the in- 
tensest curiosity. He gave me the fullest description of 
interesting cases, and made me examine several. He 
left his students to the house-surgeon, and accompanied 
me to the Barclay Brewery — an enormous afifair, quite a 
national curiosity. It was here that the brutal Haynau, 
whilst visiting the place a short time ago, was mobbed 
by the men when they heard who had come amongst 
them, and barely escaped some very rough usage. My 
courteous escort left me in the kindliest manner, promis- 
ing me an introduction to the Bethlehem. While at 
St. Thomas's I received three invitations to post-inortcms, 
to a lecture, and to the Ophthalmic Dispensary, all of 
which I was compelled to decUne for want of time. 

At the brewery visitors enter their names. I set 
mine down without the M.D. ; Mr. South insisted on 
my adding it. I have been asked by physicians again 
and again if they shall call me doctor — they fully recog- 
nise my right. I always answer this question in the 
affirmative, as a matter of principle. I can hardly de- 
scribe to you the difference of feeling with which I 
entered and left the hospital. We walked a couple of 
miles to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Charles T., an ele- 
gant household, though without the fetters of fashion ; 
they welcomed me most kindly. My two remaining days 
will be very busy : I have two or three hospitals to visit 
and several people to see ; indeed, engagement treads 
upon engagement, so that I've hardly a moment to think. 
I thought such excitement would have bothered me in- 
tensely. It did at first bewilder, but now I've roused my- 
self to meet it and I really enjoy it. I've never had such 
an experience ; I must have walked ten miles a day. I 
come home sometimes hardly able to move a foot ; I 


wash and dress, and in an hour I'm up again and fresh 
for as much more — the more I have to do, the more I can. 
I believe I've never yet begun to call out my power of 

The girl has just come in with my letters, passport, 
and papers by the * Europa ' — what a good sight ! Bless 
you all ten thousand times ! My next letter will probably 
be from Paris. . . . 

• . I have had a delightful visit to Hampstead, where 
Dr. Wilkinson lives. He received me at once with the 
greatest kindness and interest, introduced me to his wife, 
a very sweet woman, graceful and gentle, and to some 
very pretty black-eyed children. He was disappointed 
that my stay was so short ; told me I ought certainly to 
spend a year in London, that the longer he lived in it the 
more wonderful it seemed to him, that every idea was 
represented there not by a single individual but by a 
whole class, and that the societies I might study there 
would be of great service to me as a means of develop- 
ment. He is a tall, strong man, not handsome, wears 
spectacles, and has a strong expression of goodness in his 
face. He took me to see two people who were desirous 
of making my acquaintance, and showed me all the fine 
points of view from Hampstead, which truly is a most 
lovely spot, though only two miles from London. It is a 
hilly range, looking down on wide undulating country on 
both sides, with blue hills in the distance — Windsor 
Castle being distinctly visible twenty miles off. I cannot 
describe the place ; it seems to have built itself in one of 
Nature's choicest nooks. There is a common covered 
with golden gorse, broken by little dells in which pretty 
cottages are nestled, and there are old mansions hidden 
in noble parks, old walls covered with luxuriant ivy, 
shady lanes with long avenues of trees and smooth 
hedges of hawthorn and laurel, fields covered with a 


rich carpet golden with buttercups and daisies, the cows 
quietly feeding in a veritable paradise to them. Then 
there are all manner of odd comers and irregular clusters 
of houses, but everywhere the most intense vegetation. 
The Uttle cottage occupied by Byron, who used often to 
resort to this lovely spot, was pointed out to me, and 
Harrow, where he went to school. We had much inte- 
resting conversation. In the omnibus I parted from the 
doctor with real regret, but qtiite refreshed by the cordial 

Journey to Paris. — All my teachers and medical 
friends in America had strongly advised my going to 
Paris, as the one place where I should be able to 
find unlimited opportunities for study in any branch 
of the medical art. Being then desirous of pursuing 
surgery as well as medicine, I followed their advice. 
On May 21, 1849, with a very slender purse and 
few introductions of any value, I found myself in the 
unknown world of Paris, bent upon the one object 
of pursuing my studies, with no idea of the fierce 
political passions then smouldering amongst the 
people, nor with any fear of the cholera which was 
then threatening an epidemic. 

Curious glimpses of this outer world are given in 
letters sent home at that time. 

Paris, 11 Rue de Seine : May 1819. 

You see, dear friends, that I have reached my destina- 
tion at last, and fairly established myself in this strange 
city. I parted from my kind companion, who in London 
had spent the whole week in one continued effort to aid 
me in every possible way, with real gratitude. I could 
not thank him, words seemed too meaningless. ... I 


left London with the profoundest respect for the vast 
power of many kinds displayed there, and a grateful 
remembrance of a personal reception that had been so 
encouraging. It rained the whole way over. An English 
lady returning to Paris with her husband was very 
friendly. She promised to show me the best place to 
stay at in Calais, and said if I would travel with them in 
the cars she could give me much information about 
Paris, for the French made a point of cheating the 
EngUsh unmercifully, thinking they were immensely 
wealthy. We were notified of our approach to Calais by 
a strong smell of fish. It was quite dark and raining in 
torrents ; I was very glad to have companions. We 
picked our way as well as we could over the stone pier, 
enclosed by walls on which stood a Ughthouse glaring 
into the dark night. We stepped into the rooms where 
the passports are examined, and there the whiskered 
faces showed me I was amongst strangers, and the Oil 
allez-vous, vuidaine ? confirmed the fact. Next morning 
I stood for some time on the pier waiting for the Custom- 
house officer and watching the strange people. Market- 
women in their white caps (the common people wear no 
bonnet), groups of workmen in blue blouses, fish women 
of enormous muscular development, though short, return- 
ing from fishing laden with their nets, clad in a single 
petticoat scarcely reaching to the knee, little children 
with their school-books making sundry excursions on to 
the fishing-smacks by the way, and chattering French 
with all their might. At the Custom-house the search 
was very slight ; they did not even see the cases which I 
had put at the back of a larger trunk, and I was only 
charged a couple of francs. We left Calais at nine o'clock, 
and the difference between France and England was 
apparent the whole way. The country was no flatter 
than between Liverpool and Birmingham, but badly 


drained and badly cultivated, with many peat bogs and 
dwarf willows bordering the watercourses. There were 
many villages built of light-coloured stone, but apparently 
not one brisk, thriving town. The whole way wooden 
fences instead of beautiful Hve hedges, women digging 
trenches and working in the peat bogs, and the railroad 
left in the rough, unfinished style of America, without the 
excuse of an immense young country. At the Custom- 
house in Paris, where they search the trunks for butter 
and cheese, I parted from my travelling companions and 
launched boldly into the sea of Paris. It looked very odd 
as I drove along; the streets so narrow, with such odd, 
old-fashioned houses, all built of this light-coloured stone, 
which has no sort of expression. They charged extra- 
vagantly at the hotel where I passed the night, so I 
determined at once to procure lodgings, and set off early 
next morning to hunt up Mr. Doherty, who I knew 
through Dr. Wilkinson would tell me the right quarter 
for medical doings. 

I started off with a map in my hand and hope in my 
heart, and reached Mr, Doherty's house very early, I 
suppose, for Parisian hours, for the gentleman was in bed 
when my letters were handed in ; and soon after a short 
sleepy-looking man made his appearance, with a horrid 
coarse beard, a blue and red woollen dressing-gown, and 
green baize trousers hanging about his ankles. I had 
some difficulty in making him comprehend that I was 
not Anna. At last, however, with the help of letters and 
my explanations, all became clear. I found him very 
pleasant ; he breakfasted, dressed, &c., while I talked to 
his brother Thomas, who is a beautiful artist. Mr. D. 
went with me to some places he knew of. At last we 
found a little room with bedroom attached in a central 
situation and at a moderate rent. The hostess was a very 
pleasant-looking woman, with her own room close by, the 


whole suite being separated from the rest of the house. 
I felt, however, quite disappointed in the city ; it did not 
seem to me handsome, gay, or elegant after London ; but 
then, in truth, I was so busy settling my own httle 
matters that I hardly had time to examine closely. To- 
day I have spent in walking about the city with my 
hostess, chiefly for the sake of chattering with her and 
accustoming my ear to the strange sounds, for I find I 
have much to learn. I have great trouble in expressing 
myself with any elegance, and I cannot see the phy- 
sicians until I have acquired a tolerable command of 
words ; I shall very soon, however, be able to do so. I 
went out to buy a bonnet to-day, but found that my 
unfortunate organs were totally unable to squeeze them- 
selves into a Parisian head-dress ; so I was obliged to 
order a bonnet, choosing plain grey silk, although I was 
assured again and again that nobody wore that colour. . . . 

An interview with Lamartine. — At this period 
much sympathy was felt in America for the Eepub- 
lican movement in France, of which Lamartine was 
the head. Before leaving Philadelphia a friend had 
asked me to be the bearer of one of those expressions 
of sympathy from public meetings which were then 
sent to the poet from all parts of the United States. 
I willingly undertook the commission, and now 
wrote to the President for permission to present the 
document entrusted to me. 

May 31, 1849. 

I have just returned from my visit by appointment to 
Lamartine, where I went to dehver the Philadelphia 
resolution entrusted to me. I must hasten to give you 
a sketch before this post — the last — closes. 

Of course I dressed with great care, and arrived just 
at the appointed hour. I was asked if I was a lady from 


America, for Lamartine is to most people in the country. 
I was shown through several ante-chambers into a draw- 
ing-room, where stood the poet entertaining some visitors ; 
he bowed, requested me to wait a few moments, and 
withdrew with his visitors into another room. I examined 
the apartment : a lofty room, carved and richly gilded, 
three long windows opening on to a balcony commanding 
a garden full of trees. The room contained a rich carpet 
and purple velvet couches and chairs, some portraits, an 
exquisite female profile in bas-relief, a golden chandelier 
from the ceiling, some antique vases, &c., and a soft 
green light from the trees of the large garden diffused 
through the room. The door opened and Lamartine 
entered ; very tall and slender, but the most graceful man 
I have ever seen, every movement was music ; grey eyes 
and hair. The Httle bust is a pretty good likeness. He 
has the gentlemanly voice (Uncle Charles's), clear, melo- 
dious, perfectly well-bred. In fact, his exterior harmo- 
nised perfectly with his poetry. He understood Enghsh. 
Slowly and distinctly I explained the commission which 
had been entrusted to me. He asked me if the resolution 
referred to the fraternity of the race, and seemed to 
understand at once the whole matter when I replied in 
the afl&rmative. I referred him to the letters accompany- 
ing the resolution for full explanation respecting the 
document and the manner of presenting it. He said he 
was very happy to receive these expressions of sympathy. 
He would read the letters carefully and send me an 
answer, which I promised to transmit to America. He 
accompanied me very poHtely to the stairs, bowed, and 
we parted. I was in no way disappointed; there was 
perfect harmony in the man and his surroundings. 
Doubtless he is a true man, though unable to work into 
practice the great thoughts he cherishes. 

I went last night with my good little hostess to a 



neighbouring church, where there is service every even- 
ing. It was well lighted round the central altar, but in 
every direction the lofty aisles stretched away into the 
darkness, with an occasional lamp illuminating some 
saint, and small groups of dark figures kneeling on the 
pavement. The people were assembled in the centre — 
mostly the lower classes, women in their white caps, and 
little children dressed Hke miniature women ; they knelt 
or stood, or sat on chairs and benches as the service 
required, generally with the utmost devotion. The little 
children used the holy water, crossed themselves, and 
knelt with their mothers, and regarded the bright Ughts, 
the flowers round the golden Virgin, and the impressive 
music with eager, wondering faces. The service was 
sung or chanted entirely in Latin ; occasionally a pause in 
the music would be broken by the sudden, deep tones of 
a man's voice away in the darkness, or a choir of boys' 
voices would burst forth apparently from the clouds. 
The walls were covered with enormous pictures partially 
illuminated. I felt fully the impressiveness of this scene 
to the uneducated people ; no thought awakened, but the 
emotional religious sentiment powerfully addressed ; and 
this every night, when the solemn ceremonial contrasts so 
strongly and soothingly with the traffic of the day. The 
children are nursed in this atmosphere until it becomes 
a part of their nature that no reasoning can ever change. 

My first introduction to Paris institutions was 
through the visit of a public official, who brought a 
registration paper to be filled up. I put myself down 
as Etudiante. The man stared, and then standing 
in front of me began to make the most extraordinary 
grimaces, opening his eyes until the whites showed 
all round them. My first astonished thought was — 


* You ugly little brute, what on earth are you doing 
that for ? ' when, his manner suddenly changing on 
my look of astonishment, he tapped me benevolently 
on the shoulder, saying, * Mon enfant^ you must not 
pat yourself down as student — rentiere is the word 
you must use ! * 

In later life, with larger experience, I came to 
the conclusion that I had been interviewed by the 
Pohce des Moeurs ! Fortunately at that time I knew 
nothing of the corrupt system of accepting and 
regulating female vice. 

My next important interview was of a very 
different character. A Boston friend had procured 
for me, from a physician, an introduction to the 
famous Louis, then at the height of his reputation. 
It was a sealed introduction, which I forwarded 
with my card. The next day a tall, imposing-looking 
gentleman called upon me, who proved to be Louis 
himself. I soon felt instinctively that his visit was 
one of inspection. I told him frankly of my earnest 
desire for hospital and practical instruction. After 
a long conversation he most strongly advised me to 
enter La Maternity, where in one most important 
branch I could in a short time obtain more valuable 
practical knowledge than could be obtained any- 
where else, and he informed me of the steps to be 
taken in order to obtain admission. Before leaving, 
however, M. Louis handed to me the letter of intro- 
duction which I had sent to him, saying that he 
thought I ought to see it. It was an astounding 
production, written in such wretched French that I 


could only suppose that its author was unaware 
of its insulting character, or of the effect that such a 
letter delivered to a French gentleman by a young 
unknown woman was likely to produce. I never 
again presented a sealed letter of introduction. 
Some years later, when the distinguished physician 
who had sent it called upon me in New York, I 
returned the letter to him, with a few words of very 
serious remonstrance. 

On June 1 one of my sisters and a friend came 
to Paris, and we moved into pleasant lodgings in the 
Eue de Fleurus overlooking the Luxembourg Garden. 
Whilst there I attended lectures at the College de 
France and the Jardin des Plantes, and earnestly 
V/ sought for admission to some of the hospitals for 

practical instruction. It seemed, however, that an 
entrance into La Maternity would be the most 
direct first step in obtaining the practical instruction 
needed, and although regretting the delay in my 
surgical studies which would be involved in such a 
course, I finally resolved to pursue the courses of 
that great institution. 

The following letters refer to this period of effort. 

My dear Cousin. — 1 find that I cannot enter the 
Maternity at present for want of an acte de naissance. I 
am trying to get over the difi&culty, but French regula- 
tions are so strict that it is still uncertain whether I can 
succeed. Would it be possible to secure in Bristol a 
copy of my register of baptism, with a statement of my 
birthday and my parents, certified by the mayor or some 
proper authority? I was baptised at Bridge Street by 


Mr. Leif child; I was bom on February 3, 1821. I do 
not know, however, whether such a register is kept in 
England. If it could be procured, it would remove the 
difficulty which Ues in my way. 

We find Paris a very lively residence ; every day some- 
thing new is occurring, or we discover some wonderful 
old place which we must certainly visit. One day it is 
the funeral celebrations of Marshal Bugeaud, at which 
all the great men assist, with an army of soldiers and an 
enormous crowd ; or a thousand Httle girls take their first 
commmiion at St. Sulpice, dressed in white with long 
veils ; or some grand collection of flowers or manufac- 
tured articles calls out the spectacle-loving people. There 
is a constant effervescence of fife in this great city, which 
concentrates all its energy in itself, and makes the 
Parisians at the same time the most brilliant and the 
most conceited people in the world. The greatest plea- 
sure which we have yet enjoyed was our trip last Sunday 
to Versailles ; it is really a place to be proud of, and I 
could not wonder at the worship which is paid to that 
beautiful temple by the people who, day after day, range 
freely through its grand galleries and spacious gardens. 

I received to-day a very pleasant letter from Dr. 
Webster, one of our professors at Geneva ; I was much 
gratified to find that their course to me has been approved 
by the profession in America. It would have grieved me 
inexpressibly if they had been condemned for the aid 
they had given me, and there seemed to be some possibility 
of it when I left. But he tells me my thesis was com- 
mented on in the Eeport on Medicine at the National 
Medical Convention held in Boston, and their course in 
relation to me justified and approved. The thesis was 
received with applause. This information is quite a rehef 
to me, for the thought would be too painful that you 
could injure your friends. 


June 15. 

Dear Cousin, — By the first of July, as soon as I 
have conquered some miserable little difficulties, such as 
the acte de naissance, certificate of vaccination, &c., 
which I cannot produce, I shall enter La Maternity, a 
world-famous institution, and remain until I have suc- 
ceeded in my first object — viz. to become an accompUshed 
obstetrician. There are personal objections connected 
with this course that I was not prepared for — viz. a strict 
imprisonment, very poor lodging and food, some rather 
menial services, and the loss of three or four nights' sleep 
every week. Still, these are things that can be borne (if 
the health will stand them) when the end to be gained is 
an important one ; and I am sure you will agree with 
me that it is wise to sacrifice physical comfort for a 
while in order to attain it. I propose to remain there 
three months, and then I shall try and accomplish my 
second object — viz. surgery. 

I hope in a day or two to receive permission from 
the Direeteur-General, M. Davenne, to examine all the 
hospitals of Paris. I am working on gradually ; but I 
find more clearly every day that the genius of the French 
nation does not suit me, and my love for the Anglo-Saxon 
race, and my admiration for our wonderful Fatherland, 
increase by the comparison. . . . 

We have had a strange glimpse of a revolution, a sort 
of theatrical representation of what that terrible thing 
might be. I confess that the whole exhibition seemed 
to me peculiarly French ; and yet there are noble and 
terrible passions, lying below this mercurial excitability, 
that command hearty sympathy or serious consideration, 
and the unjust, tyrannical acts of the Government excite 
one's strongest indignation. Now all is quiet again, how- 
ever, and the whole affair is said to have been planned 
by the authorities to get rid of certain troublesome men. 


A. and E. have stood the shock well, though they 
turned quite pale on finding as they were quietly parading 
the streets that they were in the midst of an dnieute, and 
later I was sent out to see if they had not better instantly 
return to England, before civil war broke out and their 
throats were cut. ... 

On the afternoon of the 13th E. and I went out to 
see the curious sight. The Quai to the National Assembly, 
more than a mile long, was hned with soldiers with their 
drawn bayonets. The Louvre and the Tuileries opposite 
were closed and filled with soldiers. An army of cavalry 
was mounted and ready to start at any moment. We 
passed through hiurying crowds full of excitement, hear- 
ing fearful reports of what had happened and what was to 
come. On the bridges, at the corners of the streets, were 
large groups of blouses, students, citizens, women, listen- 
ing to some orator of the moment, gesticulating violently. 
More than once I observed a woman enthusiastically 
haranguing an audience. The most curious mixture of 
passions was visible on the faces — fear, anger, indignation, 
hope, hatred ; there was many a figure that realised the 
horrors of an earlier revolution. It seems inconceivable 
now that those violent expressions should have died 
away, and that Paris is going on in its usual busy way. 

. . June 1849. 

My Friends, one and all, — I closed my last letter 
apparently on the eve of a great insurrection. I went 
out with E. G. quickly to put it in the post, not knowing 
how soon we might be prisoners in the house or stirring 
out at the risk of life. We passed through hurrying 
crowds full of excitement. Through the night heavy 
waggons of ammunition and provisions, escorted by 
soldiers, had rumbled through the streets. The public 
squares were shut and filled with soldiers. The Demo- 
cratic press was destroyed ; and the next morning the 


city was declared in a state of siege, and a proclamation 
was published by the President calling on all good citizens 
to maintain the authority of the law. 

But nothing occurred, the commotion subsided, and 
the Conservative press congratulated the country on its 
preservation from the dangerous conspiracy of a few 
seditious demagogues. 

It is difi&cult to get at the truth in a country where 
everybody hes upon principle ; but it is now commonly 
believed that the whole affair was a trick of the Govern- 
ment to get rid of Ledru Eollin, Consid6rant, and other 
troublesome members of the Montague, who were deter- 
mined to call the President to account for his infamous 
conduct to the poor Eomans. 

I do not know whether American papers give these 
particulars — you must tell me if I repeat what you can 
get better elsewhere — but we have taken deep interest in 
these events passing round us. Our indignation is much 
roused against the Conservative tyranny ; and the behef 
in the Government trick shows, curiously enough, of 
what it may be capable. 

A manifestation meeting was called, to support by 
general feeling the attack which had been made by the 
advanced party in the Assembly on the unconstitutional 
measures of the President in suppressing popular gather- 
ings. Two hundred thousand men were passing quietly 
to the place of meeting, some of the most respectable 
and distinguished citizens of Paris amongst them, not 
the slightest disturbance, not even one * Vive la Constitu- 
tion ! ' was heard ; but a proclamation had been stuck 
about the streets, of the most inflammatory character, call- 
ing the citizens to arms, and signed by Consid^rant and 
Ledru Eollin. On the strength of that proclamation, 
which is fully believed to have been a forgery, the * meet- 
ing ' was dispersed and proceedings instituted against the 


.members. The Government is proceeding with a high 
hand. I see that • to-day even the Conservative press is 
putting in a feeble protest. 

You would be amused to see how universally poUtics 
are discussed : the boy who arranged our rooms, the 
market-women at their stalls, everyone finds time to read 
a journal and give some opinion about it. 

On June 30 I entered La Matemite ; my resi- 
dence there was an invaluable one at that stage 
of the medical campaign, when no hospitals, dis- 
pensaries, or practical cliniques were open to 
women. La Maternity was a great State institu- 
tion, where young women to be trained as midwives 
were sent up from every department of France. 
The system of instruction, both theoretical and 
practical, was a remarkable illustration of that 
genius for organisation which belongs to the French. 
Every moment of time was appropriated; no dis- 
traction of books, newspapers, or other than medical 
works were allowed ; lectures, wardwork, drills, and 
cliniques were arranged from morning to night with 
no confusion, but no pause ; and the comprehension 
and progress of each pupil was constantly tested by 

The institution occupied the old convent of Port 
Royal, and the discipline was monastic in simplicity, 
regularity, and seclusion. 

Stirring events were occurring in Paris during 
my residence in the Maternity, but only vague 
rumours reached us, as no newspapers were allowed 
within the old grey convent walls. 



The following letters give curious pictures of life 
in this remarkable French institution. 

July 1, 1849 : k la Maternity. 

Dear Mother, — I have now entered upon a strange 
phase of life, which I must try and describe, that you 
may imagine me running about in my great white apron, 
in which respectable article of apparel I expect to figure 
for the next three months. I had a good many obstacles 
to encounter from my ignorance of French customs ; 
and the physicians of Paris, as far as I can judge, are 
determined not to grant the slightest favour to a femi- 
nine M.D. I could not obtain from any persons con- 
nected with the Maternity the smallest modification to 
suit the very different status with which I enter from 
the young French sages-femmes ; but I was determined 
to enter on whatever conditions, and enter, too, by the 
first of July, to habituate myself a little to the ways of 
the place before the annual lectures commenced. I find 
now that nothing would have been easier than to have 
given me a little room to myself, permission to go out 
occasionally, and similar favours, which need have occa- 
sioned no jealousy or inconvenience ; for the very fact 
of my being a foreigner impresses the French girls, and 
they would freely have accepted any claim made for me. 
But everything was obstinately refused to all the repre- 
sentations of myself or the Consul, Mr. Walsh, and I 
was only too glad to enter as a young, ignorant French 
girl. On June 30 I drove down with Anna to the 
hospital. A high stone wall, with the tops of old build- 
ings peeping above, extends nearly the whole length of 
a little street. A very small door led into a dark httle 
entrance, the portiere on one side, and a long room, 
called by courtesy the parhir, on the other. You must 
notice the parloir^ for it is there I shall receive my 


visitors, if I ever have any, at two o'clock, in common 
with the other dUves ; and there in one corner, in a sort 
of Httle glass box, sits the good dame who attends to the 
letters and transacts all the outdoor business for the 
Mves. The ceiling is very low, the floor of brick, rows 
of wooden benches ranged one before the other — the 
most uninteresting room you can possibly conceive ; the 
only pretty thing being the vine leaves which peep 
through the diamond- shaped windows. This room forms 
part of a row of old buildings standing against the wall, 
which contain the director's bureau, the Interne's rooms, 
&c. It was too late for me to see M. Boivin, the direc- 
tor, so an old woman took me into the central buildings, 
through a labyrinth of Httle passages and long galleries, 
and all manner of rooms and queer places, to Madame 
Charrier, the sage-femme in chief, who has her own 
rooms in a particular part of the building. Her parlour 
is the funniest httle cabinet of curiosities, with a carpet 
on the floor, as it is of brick instead of waxed wood. 
Little chintz sofas, mosaic tables, boxes, china and 
figures, crucifixes, pictures and embroideries, and cur- 
tains everywhere. Madame Charrier is a little deformed 
woman, elderly, but with a fresh colour still, and kind 
blue eyes. I like what I have seen of her ; she seems 
generally loved by the pupils, and though I do not 
imagine her of any particular amount of intellect, she 
seems to have good sense, and after twelve years in such 
an estabhshment as this she ought to have much valu- 
able experience. Madame Charrier conducted me by 
unknown ways to Madame Blockel, the superintendent 
of the dortoirs, who took me into the infirmary, and 
said I must sleep there until I had arranged my affairs 
with the director. I did not much admire the idea of 
passing the night in the infirmary. There was a large 
wood fire on the hearth, and the air felt warm and some- 


what close. I lopked suspiciously at the long rows of 
beds extending on each side, their white curtains closely 
drawn ; I did not know what undesirable emanations 
might be proceeding from them. However, I said 
nothing, but determined to investigate the contents of 
the beds as soon as the observers had withdrawn. My 
trunk was brought up, my bed pointed out, a little lamp 
placed on the table, and I was left alone. I proceeded 
then to make my observations, and found to my great 
relief that every bed was empty, except one, in which 
one of the Mves, who happened to have a headache, was 
lying, and from her I found that the place is healthy and 
no epidemic has prevailed there for a long time. I found 
her, like all the other French girls, fuU of those light 
kindnesses which are so pleasant. She asked me eagerly 
if I was from her province, and seemed to regard me 
with much interest when , she found I was a stranger 
from New York, which was the only part of the United 
States she had heard of, and which she took to be an 
island near Havannah. I have since found that the 
pupils are much disappointed that I am not black, as they 
supposed all persons from America were ! After talking 
a little with her I took out my writing materials, and sat 
down to the table determining to pay a Httle visit across 
the water before going to rest in my new home; but 
I had no sooner seated myself than Madame Charrier 
entered with a .crowd of Mves, to know if I would pass 
the night in the salle d^accouchements, it being an optional 
matter the first night. Of course I expressed the utmost 
willingness. I put up my letter with a sigh, dressed my- 
self for duty, and accompanied an ancienne 4Uve (that 
is, one who has already studied a year, and who always 
has one or more of the nouvelles 4Uves under her care for 
initiation) to the room where the children are born. A 
large apron of coarse towelling was given me, with the 


injunction not to lose it, or I should have to pay three 
francs. It was a large upper room, rather dimly lighted, 
beds all round, a fire on the hearth, cupboards full of 
linen in the corners, heaps of shining copper and tin 
utensils, several rush-bottomed chairs and wooden tables, 
and in the centre a large wooden stand with sides, on 
which the Httle new-comers, tightly swathed and ticketed, 
are ranged side by side. In the course of the night 
we had the pleasure of arranging eight in this way, 
and the next morning when Madame Charrier made her 
appearance the cloth was removed and the sight shown 
with much triumph. It was really very droll. Each 
little shapeless red visage peeped from under a coarse 
peaked cap, on the front of which was a large label with 
the name and sex ; a black serge jacket with a white 
handkerchief pinned across, and a small blanket tightly 
folded round the rest of the body, completed the appear- 
ance of the little mummy. Their behaviour certainly 
realised Fourier's supposition, for there was very little 
crying all the time they lay there together. There were 
four young French girls sitting up with me, besides the 
girl who makes the beds and does the roughest work. 
They were all pretty and pleasant, of no education except 
their studies in the institution ; but those had been evi- 
dently carefully attended to, and it sounded not a little 
droll to hear the scientific terms flowing so ghbly from 
their laughing lips, which were busily employed in talk- 
ing nonsense all the time that their duties did not call 
them to the bedside. The next morning at ten o'clock 
we were discharged from duty ; it was Sunday, a com- 
paratively leisure day, and I being a Protestant was 
excused from the religious services, but I was too sleepy 
to do much. I wrote, walked in the garden and read a 
little there, retired early, and had a most welcome sleep 
and very pleasant dreams. 


Our dortoir is a large airy room, with a row of 
windows and beds on each side, divided into two by a 
large archway ; it contains sixteen beds, occupied mostly 
by anciennes Mves. I have a window behind my bed ; I 
have shoved the bed forward, fitted in a chair behind, 
hung up my dressing-gown, and put a few books on the 
floor by my side, and call it my room. I am now sitting 
there writing to you. I have just room enough to move 
my right arm freely, but I am out of the way, I am 
breathing fresh air, so I consider myself very well off. An 
old crucifix ornamented by gilded leaves hangs at one end 
of the dortoir, two little lamps are suspended from the ceil- 
ing, an iron bedstead and a chair are appropriated to each 
individual. The floor is formed of httle hexagon bricks, 
which in some of the rooms are so terribly poHshed that 
I walk on them with difficulty. The dortoir is seldom 
quiet ; the girls sit there a good deal, and some who have 
watched through the night are generally there in bed ; 
and how French girls do chatter ! How they do go into 
sudden fits of ecstasy or rage ! Once at least in the 
day we have a grand storm, Madame Blockel coming in 
for some trouble or other, in which she and the accused 
out-scream each other, and appear to be mortal enemies 
for a few minutes, and the best of friends immediately 
after. At twelve o'clock we receive our supply of bread 
for the day, which we keep in our bedroom and take 
backwards and forwards to meals. I have frequently 
wished that you could see me walking gravely along the 
gallery with my loaf of bread wrapped in a napkin under 
my arm. The dining-room is a large hall full of round 
tables, only three of which are occupied at present, as the 
dldves only number thirty, instead of ninety, the usual 
number. At dinner I saw them all together for the first 
time ; some very pretty and graceful, some very rough. I 
am learning to take wine ; everyone advises me to do so, 
and I shall soon be able to drink my bottle a day. 


There seems to be an admirable organisation of work 
here in every department. I have been much amused to- 
day by the lessons in theory that I have received from 
my ancienne dUve or chef. The pupils all sat round, and 
the young instructress, furnished with some bones, gave 
out an explanatory sentence, which was repeated by each 
one in turn ; I found it an excellent plan of learning 
French. Of course, the repetition would have been 
intolerable without the language, but to listen to a dozen 
different voices and to repeat myself I found to be ad- 
mirable practice ; indeed, being cut ofif from all English 
communication is a great advantage in learning French. 

July 3. — This morning I finish my letter in another 
situation. I wrote last night till it was dark, and the 
little lamp in our dortoir gave so much darkness that I 
went to bed for want of light. To day I am en service — 
that is to say, I shall spend the day from eight in the 
morning till eight in the evening in superintending the 
six rooms of the infirmary. I have been handling leeches 
for the first time (disgusting httle things). I enter with 
an ancienne ^iSve, who shows me all the ways of the house. 
At present the lectures have not commenced, but the 
visits of Madame Charrier and the physician take place 
every day ; and nature is always here in great abundance 
to be studied. I feel I shall gain a great deal, and 
hitherto it has really not proved nearly so formidable an 
imprisonment as I supposed. The air is delightful this 
beautiful summer weather, the girls pleasant. There is 
much to interest in so large an establishment, and I sup- 
pose the three months will soon slip away, for I have 
entered, in my own mind, only for the three months, 
though I have been asked so often if I am going to stay 
two years that I have had to tell a great many — evasions. 
I shall have, doubtless, many weary moments, but I want 
you all to know that it will not be so utterly miserable as 



my former letters may have represented it. And great 
will be the reward ! So send a welcome greeting to the 
Voluntary Prisoner. 

July 1849. 

Dear M., — I last wrote to you when I was my 
own mistress ; now in some measure I have given 
up my hberty, and I must give you a little sketch 
of my prison life, that you may be able to picture the 
surroundings of your sister M.D. Imagine a large square 
of old buildings, formerly a convent, set down in the 
centre of a great court with a wood and garden behind, 
and many little separate buildings iill around, the whole 
enclosed by very high walls, over the tops of which, 
shining out beautifully against the clear sky, may be seen 
the dome of the Pantheon, the H6tel des Invalides, and 
the whole building of the observatory which is close 
adjoining. The inner court is surrounded by les cloitres, 
a most convenient arched passage which gives a covered 
communication to the whole building, and which I sup- 
pose was formerly traversed by shaven monks on their 
way to the church, whose great painted window looks out 
mto the court, but which now echoes the laughter of 
many merry girls, and across which at half-past seven 
every morning you may see your humble servant with 
her coarse tablier de service and little white pot in hand 
hurrying to get some coffee. At half-past five every 
morning I start up in bed, roused by the bustle of the 
dldveSy who are up before me. I make violent efforts to 
drive away sleep, which are only partially successful, and 
then follow the example of twenty girls who inhabit the 
same long dortoir, and who are busy each by her own 
iron bedstead dressing hastily to be ready for the visit. 
I hasten upstairs to the long corridor, the * Sainte-EUsa- 
beth,' where my patients He. I inquire carefully their 
condition, wash them, and see that the beds have been 
properly arranged. By that time it is a quarter past six ; 


Madame Charrier makes her appearance and goes the 
rounds, accompanied by the Mves, each one giving a 
short report of the patients under her care. It is a funny 
group : fifty women or more of all ages, wide awake from 
the hurry of their duties, but dressed mostly in haste 
with little white caps, coloured handkerchiefs, and the 
coarser ones in short bed-gowns, their faces browned by 
the sun, their hands red with hard work, but all good- 
tempered, with a kind word always ready, and their black 
eyes sparkHng with hfe. We pass through the Salles 
Sainte-Marguerite, Sainte-Elisabeth, Sainte-Anne, visiting 
each patient in her alcove — it is seven when we finish. I 
hasten back to my dortoir, make my bed, &c., fetch my 
coffee, which I procure for two sous a morning from the 
superintendent of the infirmary, eat it hastily with my 
bread, which is always supplied for the day at noon, and 
then hurry off to the Salles Sainte-Marie and Sainte- 
Marthe, where the more sick patients are placed, whom the 
attending physicians visit every morning at eight. At this 
visit are present M. Girardin, the chief physician, a tall, 
dry, grey-haired man, full of pomposity ; the interne j 
M. Blot, a very handsome, somewhat dignified young 
physician, with, I fancy, rather a cross temper ; Madame 
Charrier, the aide-sag e-femmey and as many of the Mves 
as choose to be present. This over, I make some inde- 
pendent visits to cases which interest me, to the nursery, 
&c., and try to pick up a little here and there ; then I 
return to the dortoir and read or write a little. After- 
wards I join the class instruction in the wood, a preparatory 
lesson which the elder Mves give to the younger ones, 
and which I attend for the sake of the French. It is a 
very pretty method of instruction : the young teacher 
seated on the grass, all the pupils grouped around under 
the thick shade of some fine tree, the atmosphere being 
of an elastic purity which is truly charming. The French 

K 2 


girls have a natural talent for instruction ; they are so in 
the habit of talking that they never find the slightest 
difficulty in expressing what they know, and their Uvely 
perceptions give them a peculiar power for superficial 
instruction. Our poor country girls find it very hard at 
first to catch scientific words that they do not understand, 
but in a surprisingly short time they roll them ofif smoothly 
and to a certain extent understand well what is taught them. 
At twelve the bell sounds for the first meal, only milk 
being given at seven o'clock. We enter a large hall, full 
of round tables, each holding twelve ; to each are furnished 
a couple of white plates, a tumbler and small bottle of 
wine, a loaf of bread, a spoon and fork. The meal con- 
sists of soup, boiled meat, and vegetables ; it is eaten in 
haste to the music of Madame Blockel's voice, which 
keeps up a storm the whole time. She is a somewhat 
important personage, superintending our meals and our 
(lortoirs ; she is a little red-faced, squint-eyed being, with 
tremendous projecting teeth, and dressed always in rusty 
black with a black cap. She is good-natured, liked by 
the girls, but has a tremendous vocal organ, which is 
always sounding forth at its highest pitch. Morning, 
noon, and night good Madame Blockol's voice drowns 
all opposing sounds ; and really now I am getting as 
used to it as to a noisy street, and would not care if only 
she would keep out of the dortoir at night when I am 
sleepy, for, hke a barking dog, she sets all the girls going, 
and I don't know when the storm subsides, for I sink to 
sleep in spite of it. When the meal is over we present a 
funny sight, each carrying off her loaf, napkin, knife, and 
various bottles and remnants of dinner. I return to the 
dortoir, do up little matters, read or attend the class 
again, visit my patients in the corridor, and from two to 
three go to the p<jtrloir to see my friends, if they are so 
good as to come at that hot hour to see me. This parhir 
is a funny affair — a plain room, filled with wooden 


benches, where all manner of rough people are assem- 
bled to visit the 4Uves. On certain days, also, in one 
corner a woman estabhshes a little shop, where she sup- 
plies all the small wants of the girls in the way of haber- 
dashery, stationery, perfumery, &c. ; and in another corner 
sits the old lady, la dame du hUreaUy observing everything, 
and giving the signal precisely at three for the departure 
of everybody. At six a second meal is served, consisting 
of roast meat and some little kind of cake, and another 
bottle of wine ; afterwards we are free to do as we choose. 
I generally sit a Httle in the wood and write till it is 
dark ; in a few days, however, the lectures commence, 
and four or five hours will be occupied in that way. I 
have described my idle, or rather my free days. When I 
am en service I spend the whole day in the ward where 
I am placed; or the night, if I happen to be on night 
service. About three or four days are thus spent, and 
after passing the night in watching I am not worth much 
the next day, for I am not yet accustomed to the duty. 
Then httle extra touches come in to diversify the day. I 
pay a visit to Madame Charrier or to Mile. Mallet, one 
of the aideS'Sage-femmeSy whom I like very much, or some 
difficult operation calls us to the amphitheatre. Next 
week I shall be able to tell you how I like the lectures ; 
we shall have several each day, and I hope they will 
supply the want whicJh I now feel of an intelligent ex- 
planation of the phenomena which I observe. 

Augtcst — The lectures have now commenced. From 
seven to eight Madame Charrier gives her lesson every 
morning; I occupy a chair beside her in consideration 
of my foreignness, she being anxious that I should under- 
stand thoroughly. I wish I could describe that lesson 
to you; it is the most curious spurring- up of pupils I 
ever saw, and really it makes some of them gallop ad- 
mirably, though many tumble down in the effort. Three 
pupils are called down every morning, seated on a long 


bench in front of Madame Charvier's table, and undergo 
an hour's examination on what they have heard from the 
teachers. If they answer promptly and well, her satis- 
faction is extreme, her face grows beautiful, and her 
* Bien ! tr^s bien I ' really does me good, it is so hearty ; 
but if an unlucky pupil hesitate, if she speak too low, if 
intelligence or attention be wanting, then breaks forth 
the most admirable scolding I ever listened to. Alter- 
nately satirical and furious, she becomes perfectly on fire, 
rises upon her chair, claps her hands, looks up to heaven, 
and the next moment, if a good answer has redeemed the 
fault, all is forgotten, her satisfaction is as great as her 
anger. There is not the slightest wickedness about her ; 
she puts her whole soul into her lesson, and does not 
realise how very difficult it is for ignorant girls to study a 
science. At first I was a little shocked at this stormy 
instruction, but really it seems almost necessary now, 
and produces wonderful results. If the girls only keep 
their temper under it and do not cry, it comes right at 
last ; but a tear is an unpardonable offence, and con- 
sidered an insult and a total misunderstanding. Madame 
Charrier is a woman of great experience and always 
speaks to the point, and her lessons are often very useful. 
From nine till ten we listen to M. Paul Dubois. I Hke 
his lectures exceedingly. A little, bald, grey-haired man, 
with a clear, gentle voice and a very benevolent face, 
he thoroughly understands his subject, and expresses 
himself with precision and completeness. 

At a little after twelve our dinner-bell rings, and right 
glad I always am to hear it. The large round tables are 
speedily encircled, all stand up, and a grace is said with 
such rapidity that to this day I can make out no words 
but saint usage, and the sign of the cross made with 
wonderful dexterity on the forehead and breast. At the 
conclusion of the meal another prayer rocket is sent up, 
amidst laughing and bustle, and all crowd out of the hall, 


with their loaves of bread under their arms and all manner 
of odd little pots full of eatables in their hands. From 
one till two another lesson in the amphitheatre — which, 
fortunately, is a pleasant room — from the second aide- 
sage-femme, a lesson useful on the whole, but sometimes 
a little wearisome. Fi'om two to three is the hour for 
receiving visitors, but if I am not expecting a visit, and if 
I have sat up the preceding night, I take a bath — for 
there are six baths prepared every day at that hour for 
the Mves, The same communism exists in the baths as 
in everything else. They are side by side, in a double 
row, down the middle of the room; and the withered 
genius of the bath-room stands, observing every move- 
ment, and talking an incomprehensible patois the whole 
time. I try to imagine it is only the bubbling of water 
that I hear ; I shut my eyes, lie quietly for half an hour, 
and fancy that I am deliciously reposing on the heaving 
waters of some soft summer lakfe ; then I spring up, take 
a cold dash, to the horror of my companions, and hurry 
off as fast as possible, really the better for the divine 
element. ... , 

Were I a good CathoHc I should find my time filled 
with visits to the chapel — morning and evening prayers, 
vespers, and the daily baptisms are regular services, with 
numerous extras on saints' days, &c. ; but most happily 
I am Protestant, and again and again I have blessed 
Heaven for the fact. The great fat, red-faced priest 
occasionally leaves the retirement of his clerical dwelhng 
and strolls in the wood, or makes a visit to the infirmary ; 
he always gives me long stares of excessive curiosity 
when I pass him, but I have taken a great disHke to 
his sensual-looking worship, and wdll not give him the 
sUghtest opportunity to make my acquaintance. . . . 

After dinner, when fine, I generally go into our wood, 
and, seating mysfelf imder my favoui'ite tree, I write till 



it grows dark ; or I stroll up and down the broad alleys, 
sending my thoughts far off into the past or the future. 
It is very pleasant iu our wood; outside the walls are 
large gardens and pubHc walks, so that the air is very 
fresh, and the beauty of the Parisian summer climate is 
extreme. Sometimes my friendly aide joins me, for she 
cannot bear to see me alone ; it seems to the French a 
sign of deplorable melancholy. She walks with me, 
chatting gaily, and bearing my clumsy French with great 
patience ; for, as I said, she has taken a fancy to me, and 
I have to welcome with a good grace the pinches, shakes, 
and similar tokens of French affection. Fortunately, 
however, it shows itself in more satisfactory ways also, 
and I owe many an opportimity for interesting observa- 
tion to her kindness. The girls look picturesque in the 
wood by the sunset Hght. Sometimes a group is seated 
on the grass round its chief, eagerly taking in the instruc- 
tion that may aid it in the next day's examination; 
others are singing or playing ; but I think I have never 
seen one engaged by herself in meditation or work. 
Their character is eminently social, communicative. Mr. 
Doherty remarked wisely that vanity, in its widest sense, 
is their ruling spirit, which makes it impossible for them 
to understand the English, where pride rules. There is 
one young girl I like to talk with. I have never seen 
anything more graceful, lively, and finished than the httle 
pictures of life which she throws off with perfect ease ; 
every motion of her pretty little head, every gesture and 
intonation is perfect, and occasionally I am really startled 
by a profound view of life that she just glances at, and 
then is off again. I would give much to be able to note 
down some of her narrations, but when I try to tm-n 
them into another language their exquisite spirit seems 
to vanish. . . . 

You must not be surprised if my letter contains an 


immense number of perplexed parentheses, and has a 
tendency to return always to the same subject. If you 
could only hear * what hideous sounds salute mine ear,' 
you would not wonder. The girls are singing hymns to 
the Virgin in an adjoining room, and really, if the Virgin 
be a lady of as much taste as beauty according to the 
representations of Eaphael, she must be considerably 
annoyed by the zeal without knowledge displayed by her 
admirers. Our second aide-sage-femme is a very pious 
young Catholic, of really a sweet disposition. A week 
or two ago, on the commencement of the month of 
Mary, she assembled the girls together, reminded them 
of the season, and proposed to meet frequently in the 
evening and sing canticles in honour of the Lady, adding 
that undoubtedly the object of their attention would be 
gratified by this demonstration and would not be un- 
mindful of those who offered the homage. The propo- 
sition was received with enthusiasm, and since that 
unlucky day Mile. Boisonnet and her followers have 
exercised their lungs in season and out of season, to the 
horror of all my nerves and, I fear, to the serious dis- 
pleasure of the Virgin. They have numerous little books 
of canticles. I looked over the index the other day — 

* Who so pure as she,' * The brightness of her presence,' 

* Mary, pray for us,' and all such titles filled the pages. 
The tunes have a striking resemblance to American camp- 
meeting hymns. There is one which was certainly the 
original of * Oh, let us be joyful.' I often think, if H. 
were only here, how he would join in honouring the 
Virgin. . . . 

I must give you a few more sketches of my present 
life. Imagine, then, that you have retired early to bed, 
after a night spent in hard work, and the day in that 
nervous mystification that follows loss of rest. You have 
taken a refreshing bath and laid yourself down, encifcled 


by dear memories that fan you to sleep with their gentle 
dreams ; you have just entered that beautiful dreamland, 
when you are suddenly startled by a scream, a burst of 
laughter, and then the vision of one white-robed form 
darting past in the twilight, pursued by a similar form, 
mysterious to your veiled senses. The chase continues 
over beds and boxes, while shouts of laughter, followed 
by a shower of small articles, proceed from the other 
beds ; then a loud smack is heard, whose nature is easily 
divined by those who are at all famihar with juvenile 
offenders, a spring from the bed and a rush by the injured 
party follow ; but still you resolutely shut your eyes and 
will yourself asleep, in the fond hope that nature is really 
too tired to keep awake, when a sudden rolling sound, 
followed by a violent shock, at once convinces you of the 
vanity of your efforts, and you resign yourself to wakeful- 
ness, for a favourite amusement has commenced — they 
are * promenading the bedsteads ' ! You must know that 
our bedsteads are of iron, and placed on rollers so 
movable that a slight impulsion will speed them a con- 
siderable distance. Often in stepping into bed the slight 
movement has caused the mercurial article to describe a 
sudden semicircle. This property of these usually sober 
pieces of furniture is taken advantage of by the girls, 
who are now in a frolic and exercising in the most 
ingenious way, to the unspeakable annoyance of a quiet 
individual. An impulsion is given to one end of a long 
row of beds, which is quickly communicated to the whole 
row, or a simultaneous shock is given to the two extremi- 
ties and their force brought to bear on the unfortunate 
centre. But the favourite freak is to place a bedstead at 
the end of the room and drive it with great violence down 
the centre. The rolhng noise over the brick floor is tre- 
mendous, and accompanied by a regular Babel of laughter, 
shouting, and jokes of every description. Some get on 


top of their beds, which consist of three thick mattresses, 
and jump up and down like mad things ; others get up a 
wild dance in one corner of the room, which grows con- 
tinually faster and noisier, and the strife of tongues is 
truly astonishing. Their jokes are really amusing occa- 
sionally ; the scientific terms that they hear daily play a 
conspicuous part. The frolic ends as suddenly as it 
began, when, fairly fully of fun, they suddenly jump into 
bed, say good-night, and in five minutes all are sound 
asleep. The first night I was thus rudely awakened I 
was much incHned to be angry, but I philosophised a 
little and came to the conclusion that it was my voluntary 
action to be there, and that youthful spirits must have 
free play. I pitied the poor children in their undeveloped 
life and the restrictions they suffer here too much to be 
disturbed by their httle outburst, and the next morning 
they begged me to excuse them because they were so 
young \ 

My time is very fully occupied; my former leisure 
moments are now employed in writing compositions and 
taking observations. These last I willingly consent to ; they 
will be records to me of French practice. They consist 
of a httle history of the patient and a daily account of her 
condition and treatment. But as they are in French, I 
am somewhat longer in noting them down than I should 
be if I could employ my own noble language. I have 
made two * observations ' of surgical cases that have been 
very much approved of. I was quite amused with one of 
them. I was directed to note the case down under the 
direction of my chief in that department. As usual, I did 
promptly and cheerfully what was required ; I wrote 
all she dictated, and then I made a private memorandum 
for my own satisfaction. This latter was seen by the 
Superior, and immediately the * chief ' was directed to 
copy it ; she did it wilHngly, for she is a good little being, 


and has a profound respect for the stranger. The other 
day two of our chiefs begged me to give them a private 
lesson on the circulation of the blood, which I willingly 
comphed with. We seated ourselves in the wood, and I 
explained to them what they did not know ; they were 
very grateful, and have come to me several times since 
to beg me to continue my lesson — indeed, the girls here 
have a sweet nature in many respects. There are httle 
jealousies and excitements amongst themselves, but they 
take the right relationship to me ; they think me singularly 
grave and self-sufiBcing, but they show me continually the 
utmost respect, and are always glad to do me any httle ser- 
vice. I frequently enter the salle d' accouchements, when 
the other divisions are engaged there, to- see what is going 
on, and I always meet a pleasant welcome. One evening 
I phrenologised them, to their unbounded delight ; for 
some time after I could never enter the room without 
being surrounded by a small mob eagerly demanding an 
examination. Everything delights them ; they are perfect 
children in their full, unthinking enjoyment of the present. 
A little English lesson is a never-failing source of merri- 
ment, and I am continually saluted with some oddly 
pronounced English word, followed by a burst of merri- 
ment. We have girls from all parts of France ; some are 
remarkable for their stupidity, which is generally ex- 
plained by the province from which they arrive. Madame 
Charrier's morning lesson is an ordeal through which all 
have to pass, and seated by her, every morning, I have 
a fine opportunity for studying the various departments 
of France. When some singularly obtuse intellect has 
exhausted all the patience and all the impatience of the 
teacher, she folds her hands and asks in a subdued voice, 
* Mademoiselle, from what department do you come ? * and 
on receiving the answer, adds, * Ah, then it is all accounted 
for ; the case is a hopeless one ; ' which announcement 


greatly delights the rest of the class who belong to more 
enlightened departments. 

We have one dUve who goes by the name of * La 
Normande ; ' she is one of my pictures. A fresh, healthy 
complexion, browned by the sun and the sea air of her 
beautiful home, regular features, a stout, vigorous frame 
that has never known a touch of sickness,, she walks 
about with a step that feels the ground ; in her white 
quilled cap, and handkerchief pinned over her bosom, 
she looks with her clear blue eyes right into your face, 
and has a frank, loyal manner that marks her honest, 
independent nature. On Sunday she dresses in the 
short full petticoat, the silk-laced jacket, and the lace cap, 
with its towering pyramidal crown and circular ray-like 
border, that I think I have already described to you. 
She sometimes visits our dortoir and forms the centre of 
a group, whom she entertains with her constantly over- 
flowing Ufe, sometimes singing, in a deep contralto voice, 
her peasant hymns to the Virgin — simple pathetic melodies 
chanted under the hndens when the day's labours are 
finished — or dancing vigorously the figures, more gay than 
graceful, of her country, while she sings some lively air. 
I admire her vigorous life, I like to see her in the in- 
firmary ; she tends the sick with such an honest awkward- 
ness, such a kind heart, and lifts them like babies in her 
strong arms, that I see the green fields and smell the 
sweet country air as I watch her. Then I have a little 
Parisian that I hang up beside her, as plump as a par- 
tridge, with merry black eyes, glossy hair always arranged 
a la mode, and full of little coquettish ways. Her temper 
is like a lucifer match, the slightest friction fires it ; the 
smile and the tear are equally ready, though the sunshine 
generally prevails. She has spent several years in busi- 
ness in Paris, in cigar stores and similar employments, 
where she has had much to do with gentlemen, and she 


repeats to me the compliments they paid her, the offers 
they made, and her own witty, contemptuous repHes, with 
the utmost na'ivetd. Poor child ! she has been thrown on 
her own simple instincts for protection, for her mother 
was soon jealous of the attractions of her daughter, and 
removed her to a distance ; but the real innocence of her 
heart, and a true attachment to a young ship's surgeon, 
seem to have supplied the place of her natural protectors. 
But true to her Parisian blood, she has coquetted from 
first to last, and she never talks to me now but I find it 
playing in every dimple. Think of it ! she was given me 
as my * Chief of Theory ' ! Now she asks me in the 
sweetest manner if I will come sometimes to her lessons, 
and explain to the girls what she does not understand. 
Poor child ! I wilhngly oblige her. 

But I must not weary you with my portrait gallery, 
my walls are covered with curious figinres ; let me sketch 
for you our * vaccinations,* which take place every Tues- 
day at one o'clock. The numbers of the babies are 
distributed beforehand amongst the ^Uves who are to 
perform the operations ; thus, 25 Ste. Marie to one, 32 
Ste. Marthe to another, and so on. The dUvcs seek their 
babies and bring them into the Hall of the Nurses, a 
large upper room, full already of women and babies. A 
space is cleared by one of the windows, chairs placed ; in 
the centre sits M. Blot, the director of the operation ; I 
occupy a chair beside him. Mademoiselle, who super- 
intends another division, stands beside, and then baby after 
baby is subjected to the awkward manoeuvres of the SUves, 
to their utmost dissatisfaction. The babies are very ugly 
in their coarse hospital swaddling clothes ; I never saw 
the little beings so enveloped before. They are just Hke 
mummies, but they perform a terrible concert altogether, 
with the voices of the dUves to help them. I sit a quiet 
spectator of the operation, occasionally addressing a 


question to M. Blot as he touches knife after knife on 
the arm of the infant before him ; which question seems 
rather to embarrass the handsome interne^ for he colours, 
or passes his hand through his hair and looks intently at 
the baby, in a very un-Frenchmanhke manner. I think he 
must be very youngs or very much in awe of me, for he 
never ventures to give me a direct look, and seems so 
troubled when I address him that I very rarely disturb 
his hfe in that way. 

I think I have given you enough of my external 
hospital hfe to enable you to picture me somewhat in my 
surroundings ; do you want to know how the spirit feels 
in its curious home ? Then know, dear friends, that it is 
strong and hopeful, that it has moments of weariness, of 
intense yearning for its true related life, but that it lives 
ever in the great presence of the Eternal, and feels the 
angels always near. 

The difficult breaking-in to the practical work of 
the obstetrician is noted in the journal of those 
days; and also the pleasant comradeship which 
gradually sprang up vdth the very intelligent young 
physician who served as interne at that time ; this 
companionship was a great relief to my imprisonment 
in La Maternity. 

Notes from the Journal. 

July 4. — Attended lessons by the aides-sag es-femmes ; 
very clever instruction. Spent the day in the sallc 
d'accou^hementSf but was disgusted by the treatment ^y 
of a jprimipara. With all the instruction they have 
received, the very first principles of humane treatment 
seem too often neglected. They are still ignorant mid- 
wives with their mischievous interference. . . . The ver- 
sion seemed to me horrible. I almost fainted. . . . Spent 
the night in the infirmary — weary work. I cannot bear 


this loss of sleep. . . . To-day, three operations ; much 
interested in the morning, but grew weary and disgusted 
in the afternoon. 

July 22. — Attended the interne's visit and spoke to 
him about one of the patients ; he replied so pleasantly 
that I said a little more, and he promised to lend me a 
medical journal to look over, and see how I liked it. The 
little friendliness encouraged me. . . . 

August 12.— The poor woman whom I have attended 
as my first complete patient gave me a little prie-dieu 
which she had made. Her humble heart longs to express 
its gratitude. I put it in my Bible where my friends are 
reading to-day. . . . M. Dubois again waited after the 
lecture to say a few pleasant words. He wished I would 
stay a year and gain the gold medal ; said I should be 
the best obstetrician, male or female, in America ! Had 
quite a pleasant visit to the infirmary, where M. Blot 
made me observe several interesting points, and answered 
my questions intelHgently and frankly. . . . 

August 24. — Quite taken by surprise at the infirmary 
visit this afternoon. M. Blot met me so pleasantly, and 
asked me to give him some lessons in English. I think 
he must have been meditating this request for some time ; 
it had hardly the air of a spontaneous thought. I hke him. 
I hope we may come a little more closely together. . . . 

September 2. — I have been quite happy for three 
hours. I must note down what I've learned. M. Blot 
brought his microscope to the Infirmerie des El^ves. I 
was exceedingly interested in his microscopic lecture. 
He showed us in a work of M. Hubert's the difference 
between the epithelium pavimenteux, such as covers the 
tongue, skin, &c., and the epithelium vibratile, as in other 
parts, and the fibro-plastic formations in the reparation of 
tissues, showing specimens of each kind. The first 
species was represented by a cellule full of little cellules, 


a noyau in the centre containing a nucleolus — thus. . . . 
The second was of elongated form, thus. . . . The third 
represented the growth of fibre from cells, which cells 
are distinguished from the first by the relatively smaller 
size of the noyaUj thus. . . . By such examination dif- 
ferent formations can be distinguished from each other ; 
thus cancer possesses very distinctive elements. It is 
necessary to examine bodies of varying shapes under 
different foci of the microscope, otherwise illusions may 
be created. In illustration he placed some blood globules, 
and showed us that what appeared a central spot in each 
globule was owing to the convexity not being in focus, 
and it disappeared when the focus was a little lengthened. 
He spoke also of a paper read before a society yesterday 
by a young physician, which proved that the azote, which 
in the ox is voided by the excrement, in the cow is 
absorbed into the milk ; and that the difference in the 
manure of the two is great. 

He is busy himself now in preparing for an examina- 
tion of internes ; if he gain the gold medal, he has the 
right to enter any hospital he chooses as iJiterne for a 
second term, and receive also his M.D., not otherwise 
granted to an interne. What chance have women, shut 
out from these instructions ? Work on, Ehzabeth ! . . . 

To-day M. Blot spoke of a friend, Claude Bernard, a 
distinguished young inquirer, who is now, he thinks, on 
the eve of a discovery that will immortalise him — viz. 
the discovery of an accessory circulation, by which sub- 
stances are sent directly to the kidneys without traversing 
the general circulation, which will explain, for instance, 
the rapid effect of champagne on the kidneys. This 
second heart is situated in the ascending vena cava, close 
by the liver ; strong muscular fibres are evident in the 
human subject, but in the horse are as large as quills. 
He does not perceive yet what veins return the blood, if 


his supposition be true. He also spoke of the power 
which the Hver has of secreting sugar in a normal state, 
when animals are fed on certain substances which can be 
so converted; also of the curious experiment by which 
a dog was made, in his presence, to secrete albuminous 
or diabetic urine, according to the pricking of one or 
another point of the pneumogastric nerve near its 
origin. . . .^ 

At the afternoon visit we had quite a philosophical 
discussion on society, &c. Mile. Mallet was dehghted 
with a bon mot of M. Blot. She remarked that she un- 
derstood that les demoiselles had answered Uke anges. 
* Yes,* he answered, * en dtant le g.* They had been un- 
usually stupid I She asked me if M. Blot were not rather 
moqueur, I said I did not know, but that I had discovered 
that he w^as very ambitious. His sentiments seem to be 
good, but his character is certainly not French. 

September 21. — M. Dubois stopped to speak to me 
after the lecture, and again expressed his great desire 
that I should remain a year in the institution. I told 
him I had determined to remain another three months ; 
but I had many other branches to study. He rephed 
that anything else I might learn elsewhere as well as in 

> I was at that time utterly unaware of the amount of degrading 
cruelty perpetrated by many foreign investigators upon helpless 
animals under methods erroneously called soientific. It required the 
extended observation of the physician to realise the intellectual 
fallacy necessarily involved in experiments which destroy the thing 
to be observed ; and also to recognise how the constant promulga- 
tion of false theory and practice arising from erroneous methods of 
investigation hinders the attainment of scientific medicine. 

I have long since realised that conscience and humanity must 
guide intellectual activity and curiosity, or we wander from the high- 
road of truth into a labyrinth of error. The above experience illus- 
trates how the eager young student, thirsting for knowledge, may be 
blind to the unscientific or immoral methods of pseudo-science. 


Paris, but that the opportunity of seeing all that was 
remarkable in three thousand deUveries in that space of 
time could be met with nowhere else in the world ; that 
it equalled the whole practice of most physicians, and he 
was persuaded that I should regret it if I did not remain. 
He parted saying he would talk the matter over again 
with me. If it be pin:e interest that makes him urge this, 
I am glad ; but it seems to me now an impossible en- 

October 4. — Another midnight scene — a strange spec- 
tacle of suffering and of science. As I stood on the 
crowded benches of the amphitheatre I heard the clock 
strike one, the holy noon of night. I wondered how long 
our sins would thus be fearfully visited upon us. The 
rain beat in torrents on the skyUght, the wind shook the 
building, and I could look with intense interest on that 
rare and dangerous accident submitted to our investiga- 
tion — lithotomy, the only way to save life; a tedious 
operation lasting, I should think, an hour, for in the hurry 
of midnight dressing I had forgotten my watch. . . . 

To-night I have been walking in the wood ; the wind 
blows fresh under the clear starUght. I am happier now 
that my mind is clearly determined to leave at the end of 
six months, with the conviction that my work here is 
thoroughly done. . . . 

October 30. — Madame Charrier sent for me this after- 
noon to present me with my portrait. It was a lithograph 
picture of Elizabeth Blackwell, taken from a history of 
sages-femmes cMbres, This lady, about 1737, published 
a work on medical botany in two large folio volumes, in 
order to get her husband, a medical man, out of prison, 
where he was confined for debt. 

I imagined a whole romance out of the picture, and a 
little biography — a romance of a beautiful, true spirit, 

I. 2 


struggling with a society too strong to be turned from its 
ancient habits of evil. But the pure spirit is not lost, it 
is working bravely still. . 

A Sortie from La MatemiU. 

October 22. 
Deab Friends, one and all, — Yesterday I spent 
a delightful day — a day which I passed in doing nothing 
— and it was so pleasant, so refreshing, that I must 
tell you about it. I had laid out so many plans for 
my first day of freedom. I was to see so many medical 
people, and so many medical places, that I was almost 
exhausted in the anticipation, and when my leave of 
absence actually came, when all things worked right, and 
I was neither en service, nor in the infirmary, nor in the 
reception, and when moreover, for a wonder, it did not 
rain, I just determined to give up everything like business, 
forget there was such a thing as medicine or such a place 
as the Maternity, and give myself up like a child to the 
pleasure of looking and moving and eating, and every- 
thing that was natural and nothing that was wise ! In 
fact, I found that I could really do nothing of business in 
a satisfactory way in the short space of eleven hours, so my 
troublesome conscience for once was quiet, and permitted 
me to waste a day. I was really amused at myself to find 
how anxious I was that it should not rain, and how im- 
patient I was for the moment to arrive when I could 
leave, for by the rules of the place Anna must take me 
out, and Anna must bring me back precisely at eight 
o'clock ! The directeur could not help laughing when he 
informed me of these regulations ; still, as he said, * no 
exceptions could be made.' Anna was anxious that I 
should lose no portion of my short day. She woke up an 
hour earher than usual, with the sense of some weighty 
responsibility resting upon her, which she could not at 
first understand ; but as the idea of the Maternity dawned 


upon her she rose in haste, and at nine o'clock the 
summons for Mademoiselle Blackwell was shouted forth 
under the windows of my dormitory. You must know 
that these sorties are quite an event to the Mves ; they 
gather about the happy departing one with all manner of 
good wishes for her enjoyment and safe return. So while 
one hooked my dress, another fastened my gloves, a third 
arranged my collar, the rest admired with the often re- 
peated compliment, * Oh, que vous 6tes belle I ' and all sped 
me on my way with the pleasant greetings of their kind, 
light hearts. 

How gay and free and dehghtful the city seemed to me 
after my four months' imprisonment — four months shut 
'Up within the high boundary wall of the institution, with 
the sky above the tops of tall houses only visible, and all 
life concentrated in a single subject I My chest seemed 
to grow broader as I stepped over the threshold and saw 
no barrier before me, but the beautiful Luxembourg 
Garden on one side, and unending streets on the other. 
The variety of busy life, the gay dresses, the cheerful 
houses, looked charming to me. I was surprised to find 
how strange everything seemed. I really saw Paris again 
for the first time, and criticised everything as on my first 
arrival. We walked down the long avenue that led from 
the observatory to the garden. On each side are nursery 
grounds on a much lower level than the great central 
avenue ; they form a large lake of trees and flowers on 
each side the promenade. We descended into the beau- 
tiful flowery labyrinth to admire the magnificent dahlias of 
all colours and in immense quantities. The French are very 
fond of what they call corbeilles. There is one in every court 
of the Maternity ; it is a large round plot of ground, filled 
to overflowing with every variety of bright flower, en- 
closed by a treUis-work that is covered inside and outside 
by morning glories, nasturtiums, &c., so that it is nothing 


but a hedge of flowers. The nursery grounds we walked 
through were full of these, which sent forth a delicious 
odour ; and occasionally they were varied by an enclosed 
grass plot, hollowed out, and kept in the most beautiful 
order, with bright borders of flowers. As we ascended 
to the garden I was struck by the noble trees, dressed 
now in their varied autumn robes, through which the 
marble statues and antique palace sparkled as brightly 
as in the green summer time. We were saluted by 
showers of dead leaves, which gave the children much 
sport and the keepers much trouble. By the western 
gate is the immense block of buildings in which Anna 
has her pretty appartement. She introduced me to them, 
for the change of residence had been made since my 
retirement from the world, and I duly admired the elegant 
furniture, carved ceihng, tasteful paper, and above all the 
pretty look-out upon a long avenue of trees whose autumn 
foHage shed a warm glow through the rooms. At half- 
past twelve we hurried off to attend a magnetic stance 
at the Baron Dupotet's, which commenced precisely at 
one o'clock ; and finding the omnibus too slow, we jumped 
into a cab with a lady who was bound on the same 

Now I must describe a magnetic stance to you ; but 
I beg that you will receive the description with becoming 
seriousness, for I have a decided respect for M. Dupotet, 
and if any risibility should be excited it will proceed 
from your own nervous imagination, and not from my 
sober portraiture. These revelations of a higher sphere 
of existence are received up several pairs of stairs, in the 
back-room of a house situated in the heart of the city. It 
is a large, somewhat darkened room hung round with 
curious pictures, and lined with very curious people. 
Mesmer occupies a large frame carved with firebrands 
and anchors and other significant images; he looks 


fixedly at a pale lady hanging opposite to him, who has 
evidently undergone several magnetic crises. There are 
some verses framed and hanging very near the ceiHng, 
surrounded by a thick wreath of yellow immortelles, but 
I have not yet been able to decipher their meaning. On 
the seats lining the walls about fifty persons assemble. 
It is an original assembly always, though it seems to be 
constantly changing. There was a lady with a small 
hole in her cheek, a child with a crooked neck, and the 
painter to the King of Sweden, with very hght eyes and 
hair and great impressibiUty, with his companion who 
laughs and says, * Oui, monsieur,* to every question ad- 
dressed to him ; and the son of the English Consul to 
Sicily, who displays a large amount of good clothes, 
good flesh, a little peaked moustache, and an immense 
amount of enthusiasm. But it would be difficult to give 
all the varieties of structure and expression in this group 
of believing heretics, some looking very fierce, some very 
sheepish, some with features turned up, some with them 
turned down, and some with them turned every way. 
The folding-doors of this room open into a small cabinet 
which is always opened on these occasions to receive 
Madame Dupotet and all the impressible ladies who 
form a circle inside, and go through many sympathetic 
manoeuvres during the magnetising in the larger room : 
that is to say, the impressible ladies perform various 
antics, for Madame Dupotet, who is fat, fan-, and forty, 
seems in no way affected, but looks on with smiling 
health and assists the nervous ladies. There was one 
remarkably fat dame, seated just within the folding-doors, 
who had powerful fits of nervous twitching, which gave 
her a singular appearance of pale, tremulous red jelly. 

It would be impossible to describe the ornaments of 
M. Dupotet' s study cabinet — the mystic symbols and 
black-letter books of the Black Art ; but there is a little 


metallic mirror of oval form, traced with magic charac- 
ters, which exerts a truly wonderful efifect upon impres- 
sible subjects, exciting an ecstasy of dehght or a transport 
of rage ; but always an irresistible attraction for all who 
are affected by the magnetic influence. While M. Dupotet 
has been displaying it to the one particular object of his 
attention, half-a-dozen others steal up from all parts of 
the room to seize the prize ; one little old lady under the 
magnetic influence came tottering up, with the drollest 
expression of violent jealousy on her face, and with her 
clenched fist prepared to fight the other equally eager 
disputants for the possession of this wonderful mirror. 

Unfortunately, this particular meeting passed without 
any of those singular occurrences which are said some- 
times to electrify the spectators. I heard much of the 
ecstasy of a young man which had thrilled every person 
present — believer or non-believer — the meeting before, in 
which the ordinary law of gravitation seemed to be 
superseded, and the entranced soul would actually have 
fled up into the heaven it was striving for had not M. Du- 
potet clasped the body tightly in his arms and com- 
manded it back ! But though no miracle was wrought, 
the faithful audience hung with intense interest on every 
manifestation of simple magnetic power; the aspiring 
features assumed a higher aspect, the downward ones 
bent more determinedly, and the red jelly became more 
tremulous at every fresh magnetisation ; and when the 
seance closed everybody shook everybody's hand, and 
found it good to have been there. 

Now, do not think my picture is a caricature — verily, 
I am very serious. There is an odd side to all rieformers, 
to ull who are pursuing a new idea earnestly, that is very 
whimsical. I am obliged to laugh at it ; and yet I have 
true respect for M. Dupotet. Though he believes in 
ancient magic, though he lives in the hope of working 


miracles, I really believe him to be an honest, enthusiastic 
man, engaged with his whole soul in pursuing what 
seems to him the most important of all discoveries. His 
manner is perfectly unpretending, his conversation full 
of good sense ; for twenty-five years he has pursued the 
same object, through suffering and ridicule and failure. 
He is honest, I am sure ; how much truth he may possess 
I am at present quite unable to say ; for my position, 
whilst it has given me occasional ghmpses of his proceed- 
ings, has given no power of really investigating them ; 
but some time I hope to really study magnetism. 

As we walked back we stopped at the Louvre; I 
longed to see again that rich collection of art, particularly 
the statues, that seemed more beautiful than ever. We 
called in the Eue de Seine, hoping to gratify my old land- 
lady, but she was out. Then Anna introduced me to her 
reading-room, where we studied the affairs of Europe, 
and grew indignant at the barbarism which seems for the 
moment triumphant. Anna took great pleasure all day 
in filling me with all manner of eatables, having great 
faith in * the very best beef,' and I must confess that 
when dinner was concluded my dress felt a little tight at 
the waist ! 

Punctually at eight o'clock the recluse retired again 
from the vanities of the world. But, seriously, the idle 
day refreshed me ; I needed it, and feel all the better for 
a little change. 

October 24. — A most pleasant occurrence. Professor 
Lee, my Geneva Professor of Materia Medica, is in town, 
and is coming to see me to-morrow. He has been 
making a tour of two months in Great Britain, and now 
he visits Paris. How glad I shall be to see him, as a 
friend whom I respect, and with whom I can have a long 
delightful gossip ! perhaps also he can give me informa- 
tion and some advice and introductions. 


October 25. —By these most absurd regulations I was 
not allowed to show Dr. Lee over the hospital when he 
called. However, the directeur escorted him, and M. Blot 
offered an introduction to Kicord. 

Although the residence in La Maternite was an 
extremely trying one from the utter absence of privacy, 
the poor air and food, and really hard work when 
sleep was lost on the average every fifth night, yet 
the medical experience was invaluable at that period 
of pioneer effort. It enabled me later to enter upon 
practice with a confidence in one important branch 
of medicine that no other period of study afforded ; 
and I have always been glad that I entered the 
institution, notwithstanding the very grave accident 
which now befell me. 

This event was noted at the time as follows : — 

Sunday J November 4. — Served all day in the infirmary, 
and witnessed M. Dayau's first application of the serre- 
fine. I felt all the afternoon a httle grain of sand, as it 
were, in one eye. I was afraid to think what it might be, 
for in the dai'k early morning, whilst syringing the eye of 
one of my tiny patients for purulent ophthalmia, some of 
the water had spurted into my own eye. It was much 
swollen at night, and in the morning the fids were closely 
adherent from suppuration. 

November 5. — I applied for permission to leave until the 
eye was well, and was refused. I went to the infirmary 
of the Aleves and informed M. Blot that I was prisoner. 
He examined the eye carefully, discovered that it was 
the dreaded disease, consulted his chief, and then told 
me that as everything depended on the early active treat- 
ment, he should give up the first days entirely to me. 


He expressed mufth sympathy, arranged everything for 
me in the most thoughtful way, and I went to bed — I 
little knew for how long! I despatched a note to my 
sister, and then active treatment commenced — the eyehds 
cauterised, leeches to the temple, cold compresses, oint- 
ment of belladonna, opium to the forehead, purgatives, 
footbaths, and sinapisms, with broth for diet. The eye 
was syringed every hour, and I reahsed the danger of the 
disease from the weapons employed against it. Poor 
Anna came down in the evening to sympathise with the 
* inflamed eye ' I had vsrritten about, and was dreadfully 
shocked. She has told me since how many times she 
hid behind the curtain to cry. My friendly young doctor 
came every two hours, day and night, to tend the eye, 
Mile. Mallet acting in the alternate hours. The infirmary 
was kept profoundly quiet, and a guard appointed day 
and night. The sympathy was universal and deep, the 
dUves asking after me with tears. An unheard-of per- 
mission was granted to Anna to visit me three times a 
day. For three days this continued — then the disease 
had done its worst ; and I learned from the tone of my 
friends that my eye was despaired of. Ah ! how dreadful 
it was to find the dayhght gradually fading as my kind 
doctor bent over me, and removed with an exquisite 
delicacy of touch the films that had formed over the 
pupil ! I could see him for a moment clearly, but the 
sight soon vanished, and the eye was left in darkness. 

For three weeks I lay in bed with both eyes closed, 
then the right eye began to open gradually, and I could 
get up and do little things for myself. How kind every- 
body was ! I shall never forget it. Anna, with her faith 
in magnetism, came down regularly three times a day in 
rain and snow to sympathise and impart * the vital fluid.' 
My friendship deepened for my young physician, and I 
planned a little present for his ofifice. Madame Charrier 


entered into it with spirit ; we had long discussions to- 
gether, and finally secured an elegant pair of lamps for 
his consultation-rooms, which I hurried through the cor- 
ridors to see, bundled up in my dressing-gown and shawl, 
looking and feeling very much like a ghost. The lamps 
were conveyed to his room that night. The next morn- 
ing he came to me evidently full of dehght, and longing 
to be amiable, yet too conscientious to infringe the rules 
of the Maternity by acknowledging the 'present. He 
admired my braid of long hair, wondered how fingers 
without eyes could arrange anything so beautifully regu- 
lar ; spoke of the Protestant rehgion, thought if he joined 
any Church it would be that ; turned to go, turned 
back again, and was evidently hardly able to leave 
without thanking me. Mile. Mallet told me that the 
night before he had run in to Madame Charrier to tell 
her of his present, and on his way out passed by the 
cloisters in an evident perplexity, longing to enter the 
infirmary of the iUves, but unable to do so. I do admire 
his delicate conscientiousness ! 

I received a visit from M. Davenne, who had sent me 
a message of sympathy. I could not clearly make him 
out with my dim eye, but had a general idea of a short, 
elderly man standing hat in hand, and regarding me 
as one would a solemn religious spectacle. M. Boivin 
made some very friendly remarks to me, and concluded, 
raising his hand, * et, voyez-vous ? c'est d'une patience.' 

* Ang^lique ! * replied M. Davenne. 

Saturday, 22nd, — Oh, how happy I am at this moment, 
for Dubois has just left me, understanding for the first 
time the justice of my determination to obtain a full 
medical education, and obhged to confess that I was 
right in principle. I shall have my congd, and a hope of 
cliniques and study in the Eccentric hospitals. Heaven 
has answered that heart-cry of the other night. 


Wedftesday, 26th. — Off actually ! I dressed for the first 
time. Bandaged and veiled ; the carriage drove to the 
door, Anna guided me in. I made kind adieus, caught 
gUmpses of stone walls in the cold dull light, and thus 
ended my Maternity life. I felt very weak, and laughed 
hystericaUy the whole evening. 

The following letter, written at this time to an 
uncle, an officer in the British army, shows the 
important support which the mind can render the 
body in combating disease : — 

Dear Uncle, — I thank you with all my heart for the 
kind sympathy you have expressed for me so warmly. 
Fate certainly gave me a strange and sudden blow, but 
now I am up again strong and hopeful, and eager for 
work, and I beg uncle to feel quite sure that a brave 
soldier's niece will never disgrace the colours she fights 
under ; but will be proud of the wounds gained in a 
great cause, and resolve more strongly than ever to 
* conquer or die.* In truth, dear friends, the accident 
might have been so much worse that I am more dis- 
posed to rejoice than to complain. Even in its present 
state the eye is not a very striking disfigurement, and it 
will gradually become still less so. As to the more 
serious consideration — loss of vision —I still hope to re- 
cover that in time, and meanwhile the right eye grows 
daily stronger. I can write without difi&culty, read a 
little, and hope soon to resume my usual employments. 
I certainly esteem myself very fortunate, and I still mean 
to be at no very distant day the first lady surgeon in the 

I find from your letters that there is a possibility of 
your visiting Paris. I should rejoice in the prospect of 
meeting you, if my own stay were certain ; but it is by 
no means so. I have already accomplished much in 


France, but I find it very difficult to proceed further; 
still, I cannot yet judge decidedly of my prospects. I have 
just received permission from Government to visit the 
hospitals, which is encouraging, and one opening may 
lead to others, so that I may still hope to meet you some 
day, unless you should grow frightened at the idea of my 
scalpel and lancet, and feel uncertain how far the ties of 
relationship may modify the experimental researches of 
the medical student ! 

BeUeve me, very truly, 

Your niece, . 

Elizabeth Blackwell. 

But the six months which followed my departure 
from the Matemite proved to be a time of great mental 
suffering, under which a strong physical constitution 
threatened to give way; for the condition of the 
affected organ entirely prevented that close applica- 
tion to professional study which was needed. Both 
anatomical and surgical work were out of the ques- 
tion ; and even reading had to be laid aside. I 
followed a few lectures and some cliniques at the 
Hotel-Dieu, by permission of M. Eoux, and engaged 
a repetiteur, but this was quite inadequate to accom- 
plish the end in view. 

In June of 1850 a visit to the fine mountain air 
of Priessnitz's famous establishment at Grafenberg 
was resolved on, in the hope of regaining strength 
and power of study. Travelling rapidly through 
France, Germany, and Prussia, in five days I reached 
the famous water-cure region. On the journey a 
day had been spent in Berlin, where I had been 
struck by the arrogance of the Prussian officers, and 


the fear which was expressed by a friend with whom 
I talked freely in Kroirs Garden lest conversation 
should be overheard ! 

Freiwaldau, at the foot of the Grafenberg, was 
full of Kurgdste ; but, being warned by a lady to 
whom I brought an introduction that it would be 
impossible for a lady to go alone to the Grafenberg 
Hotel, for it * was full of gentlemen who went about 
in their shirt-sleeves,' I was rather perplexed as to 
where to go. A home letter describes this curious 
experience : — 

Grafenberg^ 3 p.m. — On a shady seat on the brow of 
a hill commanding a most beautiful prospect. Dearly 
beloved people, this cometh to you from a very watery 
person in a very watery place. The sound of water is 
heard everywhere. But I must give you some particu- 
lars. Not being able to find lodgings in Freiwaldau, I 
left word for Priessnitz to call, and was sitting in my 
little upper room at the hotel, feeling decidedly blue, 
when the door opened and in walked a middle-sized, 
elderly man, with sun-burnt face marked with the small- 
pox, with grey hair, light-blue eyes, a- pleasant expres- 
sion of face, and dressed in country-best style. I liked 
his appearance, 'twas honest and good. He examined 
me very closely with his little blue eyes all the time I 
was explaining my wishes. Then, in his abrupt manner, 
he told me he could make me quite strong in about six 
weeks, and the cure would do no harm to my eye. 
When I told him that I was informed Grafenberg was 
quite full, he said, * You can come, child ; come this 
afternoon, and bring your things with you,' and off he 
went. I felt quite relieved to be spared the bother of 
lodging-hunting and housekeeping. I determined to 


face the innumerable gentlemen in shirt sleeves, and let 
properness go ; if the Grdfinn did not like my position — 
why, she might dislike it ! When I reached the place qf 
my destination I was a little confounded. At the very 
top of the house, with bare rafters for the roof and the 
wall, a row of Uttle windows a foot high let into the roof 
above my head, a wooden crib full of straw, three wooden 
chairs, a table, and low bureau with a green earthenware 
bowl ; this was my room and its furniture. I must have 
looked rather dismayed, for the girl hastened to inform 
me that I had an Italian count and countess for my next- 
door neighbours, and that there were eight ladies and 
eight gentlemen on the same floor, and that we should 
be out in the woods all day. Of course I could say 
nothing when I found I had such noble neighbours, or 
rather when I found that it was really the last vacant 
room in the house ! 

When the bell rang for tea I was shown into an 
immense hall that might seat 500 people, gaily painted, 
and ornamented with chandeliers. I sat down and found 
myself, to my utter amazement, beside a row of ladies in 
grand toilette gossamer dresses with short sleeves and 
waists a little lower than I thought waists were ever 
worn ; hair dressed out with curls and flowers, bracelets 
(I counted five on the arm next ijie) and rings to match ! 
The long tables were covered with alternate bowls of sour 
and sweet milk, and brown bread and butter. The bread 
looked inviting, but when, with difi&culty, I had sawn off 
a morsel, it was so sour that I could hardly swallow it ; 
but the milk was good, and I did it justice. People kept 
coming in in groups, very merry, but all talking German ; 
the gentlemen, I presume, were in shirt sleeves, but as 
they were all covered with coats, I was not shocked ! 

The next morning early I went through a series of 
hydropathic operations, at which Priessnitz assisted, as 


he always does the first time. The course never varied — 
viz. packing, a half-bath, a plunge bath, a wet bandage, 
and some glasses of cold water at six o'clock in the 
morning ; an Ahreihung, sitz bath, and another wet band- 
age at twelve o'clock ; ditto at four p.m., and water ad 
libitum all through the day. 

The diet is plain, but every morning an old woman 
opens a white-bread shop outside the dining-room, to 
which almost every one is customer. Each one comes in 
from the early morning walk, buys a roll, and marches in 
with it under his aim ; and morning and evening the 
little strawberry gatherers offer the Alpine strawberries, 
with their fine wild-wood flavour, for sale. 

Everybody seems to have a good appetite. My own is 
ravenous ; a half -day in the open air, rambling over these 
fine mountain- sides, stimulated by the wind and the 
abimdant really living water, I find myself suddenly in 
strong, vigorous health, and the idea of sickness seems a 

At first I felt very lonely in such a large assembly; 
but now I speak to a good many, and I have found one 
young American, Mr. Glynn, who seems like a brother in 
this concourse of strangers. He is about twenty-two, 
nearly blind from amaurosis, but one of the * smartest ' 
fellows I have ever met ; quick as a flash, full of Yankee 
shrewdness, he bears his terrible misfortune with real 
heroism, and has rendered me numberless little services. 

There are several mountain-sides laid out with walks 
innumerable. The favourite early morning walk is to the 
Priessnitz spring; you wind round and up the nioiintuin, 
partly through open, sweet-smelling fields, partly through 
pleasant fir woods, passing several springs by the way, 
each with its name and inscription and rustic seats 
around ; at each you stop and drink, chat a little with 
those you meet, and perhaps sit down for a few moments. 


It is very sweet at this hour : the leaves smell so fresh, the 
beautiful flowers are covered vnth dew, and the cuckoo is 
heard in the woods all day. This stroll generally occupies 
two hours. ... 

It is very amusing to watch the people. Grafenberg 
is the rage in Germany ; all classes are represented here. 
The Countess von Westhalp offers to introduce me to a 
fashionable English circle in Freiwaldau, headed by Lady 
Darley ; and to our great indignation the * butcher ' Hay- 
nau, notorious for his barbarities, made his appearance 
here one day. In the house we have gymnasium, billiard- 
room, hbrary, theatre, and balls frequently take place. . . . 
Priessnitz has 500 patients under his care, and with 
their friends they amount to hundreds more. You see 
him sitting at the head of one of the large tables, three 
times a day, looking very pleasant. He is quiet and 
simple in manner, but has a very determined mouth. 
They say he is proud of having been an Austrian serf. 
His pleasant-looking daughter is married to an Hun- 
garian baron. 

These foreign titles are really a farce. I am here in 
my loft one day, in slippers and old dressing- go vsm, when 
a knock comes to my door. When I open it, a tall, black- 
whiskered foreigner appears, who presents the respects of 
Mme. la Princesse Obolenska, and hopes I will call upon 
her when I next go to Freiwaldau. The man made quite 
sure that I was I — as well he might, for I never had 
quite such queer surroundings. ... I paid my visit, a 
professional one, after all. I had to put up with four 
gulden, instead of the honour; but she was a simple, 
pleasant lady, and we parted on the pleasantest terms. 
This was, in fact, my first regular professional consul- 

The air and water, however, of that lovely region, 
with the constant outdoor life and endless rambles 


over the Bohemian mountain-sides, proved too 
stimulating to the still sensitive organ : a violent 
attack of inflammation supervened. With great diffi- 
culty I returned to Paris, and placed myself under 
the care of the famous oculist Desmarres. This 
gentleman rendered me the most skilful and generous 
aid. In the course of a few weeks he restored me 
to active work again, although the sight of one eye 
was permanently lost, and the intention of making 
surgery a speciality necessarily abandoned. 

During this trying period of Parisian study, my 
cousin, Mr. Kenyon Blackwell, a South Staffordshire 
ironmaster, was endeavouring to promote my strong ^ 
desire to study in one of our London hospitals. He 
applied to the able and highly esteemed dean of St. 
Bartholomew's Hospital, who presented the applica- 
tion to the treasurer. The subject was referred to 
the Medical Council of the hospital. The result 
was forwarded to me as follows : — 

At a House Committee held on Tuesday, the 14th 
day of May, 1850, a letter addressed to the treasurer 
from Mr. Paget, communicating to him the request of 
Miss Elizabeth Blackwell, a lady well connected in this 
country and the United States, to attend as a student in 
the wards and other departments of the hospital, was 
read, when the treasurer reported that the same had been 
referred to the Medical Council, and the opinion of aU the 
members of the council having been read, and Mr. Paget 
having attended and furnished the committee with such 
information as was required, it was resolved : 

' That in the opinion of this committee Miss Blackwell 

M 2 




should be admitted as a student under such regulations 
as the treasurer and almoners may from time to time 
deem necessary.' 

James Paget, Esq. 

The ticket of admission forwarded at the same 
time granted permission to study in any ward, and 
follow the visit of any physician or surgeon who was 
willing to extend to me the facilities of his depart- 
ment. The permission was accompanied by a 
cordial welcome from the dean, Mr. James Paget, 

This was indeed joyful news. I could now in 
an open and honourable way, no longer regarded with 
suspicion, but protected by the highest medical sanc- 
tion, devote myself to the unlimited field of practical 
medicine so cordially thrown open to me, and which 
I ardently desired to study. I hastened to London, 
and, after some little difficulty in obtaining lodgings, 
on account of being a lady, alone, established myself 
in rooms in Thavies Inn, then a delightfully quiet set 
of houses, entered by an archway from busy Hol- 

Every morning after breakfast I now regularly 
betook myself to the hospital, spending many hours 
tlioie daily, and making the Faith wards, under 
Dr. Burrows, my headquarters ; but Messrs. Law- 
rence, Stanley, and Lloyd courteously welcomed me 
to their wards. Indeed, every department was cor- 
dially opened to me, except the department for female 
diseases I 


Kind old Dr. Hue was always ready to show me 
cases of interest, and he took me by an underground 
passage, which led to Christ's Hospital, to taste the 
famous pea-soup made for the lads of that old 
Foundation school. 

I particularly valued the special visits of clinical 
observation, without students, which Dr. Baly and 
Mr. Kirkes were making. 

Mr. Kirkes was preparing a new edition of his 
excellent ' Student's Physiology,' and Dr. Baly was 
pursuing his valuable investigations on dysentery. 
In relation to the latter, it is noted in my journal : 
* He is so gentle, so friendly, and so learned in his 
art, that he teaches me more than anyone else.' 

I also attended Mr. Paget's admirable lectures on 
pathological anatomy, given in the amphitheatre. 
My seat there was always courteously * reserved for 
me. I experienced also the utmost consideration 
from the students, a large class of whom always 
followed Dr. Burrows's visits. Indeed, so natural 
did this innovation of a lady student soon become, 
that when, the following year, I paid my farewell 
visit to the treasurer, he remarked, to my great 
gratification, * Why, we had quite forgotten you were 
here ! ' 

Many home letters mark the various incidents 
of this extremely interesting period of study. 

London, 28 Thavies Inn : November 1. 

Dear Friends, — When I arrived in London on 
October 3, 1 was actually dismayed by the intolerable atmo- 
sphere, the dense envelope of foggy smoke that made me 


sick during the day and kept me awake at night ; and as I 
continued to make observations on persons and things, 
and finally settled down in my present prosaic lodgings, 
I asked myself with astonishment. Is this the same Lon- 
don I saw a year and a half ago, or is it a different person 
examining the same objects? But now, happily, that 
state of forlornity has passed away. I have almost for- 
gotten the smoke ; my lodgings are clean and convenient. 
I am making friends, and I shall use all the opportunities 
I can get for studying social subjects and seeing society, 
provided they do not interfere with my work and are not 
too expensive. 

My first introduction to St. Bartholomew's was at a 
breakfast at Mr. Paget 's. He has a house within the hos- 
pital boundaries, and a special oversight of the students. 
At the commencement of each session he invites the 
students to breakfast in parties of about a dozen, and to 
one of those breakfasts I, on my arrival, was invited. The 
students seemed to be gentlemanly fellows, and looked 
with some curiosity at their new companion ; the con- 
versation was general and pleasant, the table well covered, 
Mrs. Paget very sensible and agreeable, so that it was 
quite a satisfactory time. Soon after I was invited to meet 
a distinguished German gentleman. Professor Kolliker, 
whom I found mosj; agreeable and intelligent. My old 
acquaintance. Professor Owen, entertained us with tradi- 
tions of London. Dr. Carpenter was also present, and 
some of the older students, looking very amiable, though 
awkward. The gentlemen I find more friendly than 
the ladies ; I fear I shall find them in the shocked 
phase this winter. There are, however, a few decided 
exceptions. . . . 

But now I am going to tell mother of a visit which I 
made yesterday on purpose to amuse her — ^viz. to our old 
Bridge Street minister. Dr. Leifchild, whose christening 


of me I distinctly remember ! Between three and four, 
on my retmn from hospital, I set out determined to hunt 
up the family, and after searching directories and trudg- 
ing several miles, and being wrongly directed, when I 
finally inquired at No. 5 Camden Street, a quiet, respect- 
able house, whether Dr. Leifchild was in, I listened 
with great reUef to the announcement that he was pro- 
bably taking his nap. I was ushered into a large plainly 
furnished parlour, where sat Mrs. Leifchild, sewing by a 
round table in the middle. My childish recollection had 
retained a general impression of the person, though I 
should not have recognised her. She is seventy-two, and 
wearing spectacles, but does not look more than fifty, so 
fresh, plump, and pretty, though unfortunately so deaf 
that she could only hear an occasional word. I an- 
nounced myself. She replied, *I remember the family 
well. Mr. Blackwell was deacon in the chapel. You 
are one of his sisters.' I could hardly make her believe 
that I was third datcghter. She remembered A. and M. 
well ; said they were clever girls ; she knew they would 
turn out something remarkable, but she had no recol- 
lection of me. Their son John came in at that moment — 
a tall, thin man, reminding me of the Lane Seminary 
student, Jones. I don't know whether I ever saw him 
before. Of course the doctor was sent for to see the 
stranger. I recognised him at once, and should have 
known him anywhere — fat, rosy, and laughing, notwith- 
standing his grey hair. I did not detect anything of the 
old man in him. * Ah,' said he, * I know that face,' and 
then he made me take my bonnet off and occupy a large 
chair by the fire, and tell him all about the family, and 
particularly my mother. * A sweet creature she was ! 
How I should Uke to see her again ! Doesn't she talk 
about visiting England? I wish she would.' He spoke 
of father with great affection, as a true friend, He had 


received most beautiful letters from him. * If my 
memoirs are published, one of his letters will appear in 
them.' They had been told that the two eldest Miss 
Blackwells were very dashing girls, and wanted to know 
the truth. Then, why had I come to England ? I told 
him I had been doing a rather singular thing; I had 
been studying medicine. He looked at me to see if I 
were in earnest, and then burst out into such a hearty, 
merry laugh that I joined in with all my might. * Yes, I 
had obtained a diploma as doctor in medicine.' * You — 
doctor ! ' and then another hearty laugh. Of course Mrs. 
Leifchild wanted to know what we were laughing at. 
* Why, my dear, that girl there is Doctor in Medicine ! ' 
and then I must give them the whole history; and I 
certainly never had three more attentive hsteners, inter- 
rupted by the doctor's exclamations : * Bless me, what she 
has done ; what she has suffered ! Why, the girl's a 
genius ! Where did she get it all from ? Why, no man 
could have done what she has done ! ' And if ever I 
stopped, John would say, * Now, Miss Blackwell, pray go 
on ; it's the most interesting narrative I ever hstened to ; 
you left off at Paris.* I was much amused. To that 
little family, who had been staying so quietly at home in 
the same routine, it did sound like a romance. When I 
had done, the doctor declared * it was a capital thing — it 
was the beginning of a new era.' And John at once 
brought out pen and paper and begged me to give him 
my autograph. The doctor said the Kev. Mr. May, from 
America, was an old friend and class-mate who had 
visited England about two years ago, and he graphically 
described their interview. When Dr. L. opened the door, 
he started back. * No ! Yes! It isn't— it is! It can't 
be possible ! It is very certain ; but won't you let me 
in ? ' From Mr. May he learned that the eldest of the 
Blackwells had become Socinians ; and then I must give 


an acconnt of my religious faith. Of course I spoke up 
for myself. I told him my religion was certainly a little 
peculiar ; but nevertheless it was a very good and very 
strong one — and he didn't seem much troubled about the 
state of my soul ; indeed, I believe that, on the whole, he 
considered that it was a httle safer than most of the 
ladies' of his acquaintance ! So, mother, I beg you to 
take the same view of the matter. Altogether, I met 
with the heartiest reception. The doctor placed all his 
influence at my service, and Mrs. Leifchild will write you 
all the news of your old Bristol friends. So I hope you 
approve of my calling. . . . 

Now I am writing in a queer place — viz. one of the 
wards of St. Bartholomew's, whilst awaiting the visit of 
one of the physicians. This famous old hospital is only 
five minutes' walk from my lodgings, and every morning, 
as the clock strikes nine, I walk down Holborn Hill, 
make a short cut through the once famous Cock Lane, 
and find myself at a gate of the hospital that enables me 
to enter with only a side glance at Smithfield Cattle 
Market. * Punch ' had really frightened me by his account 
of the dangerous tumult of animals ; but, happily, I need 
only glance across the open space, forgetting the bulls, 
pigs, &c., that occupy it now, and also the fearful fires of 
persecution once Ughted there, and try to bring back the 
time when it was lined with gay tents, and surrounded 
by galleries filled with beauty, eager to witness the bril- 
liant encounters of arms that took place there in the age 
of tournaments. Now a little dark figure with doctorial 
sack and writing-case under arm makes its way through 
assembhng students, who poUtely step aside to let it 
pass, and entering the museum, studies its numerous 
preparations till the hour of lecture, when an attendant 
shows it to a seat. I only attend regularly one course of 
lectures — viz. Mr. Paget's very interesting course on 


pathology. Mr. Paget spoke to the students before I 
joined the class. When I entered and bowed, I received 
a round of applause. My seat is always reserved for me, 
and I have no trouble. There are, I think, about sixty 
students, the most gentlemanly class I have ever seen. 
I have been here about ten days. There are so many 
physicians and surgeons, so many wards, and all so 
exceedingly busy, that I have not yet got the run of the 
place ; but the medical wards are thrown open im- 
reservedly to me, either to follow the physician's visits 
or for private study ; later, I shall attend the surgical 
wards. At first no one knew how to regard me. Some 
thought I must be an extraordinary intellect overflowing 
with knowledge ; others, a queer, eccentric woman ; and 
none seemed to understand that I was a quiet, sensible 
person who had acquired a small amount of medical 
knowledge, and who wished by patient observation and 
study to acquire considerably more. One of the old 
physicians takes much interest in the strange little 
doctor, and has given me valuable hints from his own 
experience ; but I confess that this system of practice is 
both difficult and repellent to me ; I shall, however, study 
it diUgently. Mr. Paget, who is very cordial, tells me that 
I shall have to encounter much more prejudice from 
ladies than from gentlemen in my course. I am prepared 
for this. Prejudice is more violent the bhnder it is, and 
I think that Englishwomen seem wonderfully shut up in 
their habitual views. But a work of the ages cannot be 
hindered by individual feeling. A hundred years hence 
women will not be what they are now. 

The growing perplexity of the conscientious 
student awakening to the uncertainty of the art of 
medicine is now apparent in letters written at this 


November 20, 1850. 

Dear B., — I want to talk to you seriously about the 
future — that is to say, my medical future. It has been a 
heavy, perplexing subject to me on what system I should 
practise, for the old one appeared to me wrong, and I have 
even thought every heresy better ; but since I have been 
looking into these heresies a little more closely I feel as 
dissatisfied with them as with the old one. We hear of 
such wonderful cures continually being wrought by this 
and the other thing, that we forget on how small a number 
the novelty has been exercised, and the failures are never 
mentioned ; but on the same principle, I am convinced 
that if the old system were the heresy, and the heresy 
the established custom, we should hear the same wonders 
related of the drugs. Neither hydropathy nor mesmerism 
are what their enthusiastic votaries imagine them to be. 
At Grafenberg I could not hear of one case of perfect 
cure, and unfortunately the undoubtedly great resources 
of cold water are not so developed and classified as to 
enable a young practitioner to introduce it, professedly, 
into his practice. Mesmerism has not converted me 
since watching its effects on patients. I do wish most 
heartily that I could discover more of the remedial agency 
of magnetism, for my conviction is that it ought to be 
powerfully beneficial in some cases ; and as I find they 
have a magnetic dispensary here in London, I shall cer- 
tainly try and attend it frequently. I am sorry that I 
have been unable hitherto to attend more to homoeopathy, 
the third heresy of the present time, but I am trying now 
to find out opportunities. Here I have been following now 
with earnest attention, for a few weeks, the practice of a 
very large London hospital, and I find the majority of 
patients do get well ; so I have come to this conclusion — 
that I must begin with a practice which is an old-esta- 



blished custom, which has really more expressed science 
than any other system ; but nevertheless, as it dissatisfies 
me heartily, I shall conmience as soon as possible building 
up a hospital in which I can experiment ; and the very 
instant I feel sure of any improvement I shall adopt it in 
my practice, in spite of a whole legion of opponents. 
Now E., future partner, what say you — is it not the only 
rational course ? If I were rich I would not begin private 
practice, but would only experiment ; as, however, I am 
poor, I have no choice. I look forward with great interest 
to the time when you can aid me in these matters, for I 
have really no medical friend ; all the gentlemen I meet 
seem separated by an invincible, invisible barrier, and the 
women who take up the subject partially are inferior. It 
will not always be so ; when the novelty of the innovation 
is past, men and women will be valuablefriends in medi- 
cine, but for a time that cannot be. I spend now about 
three or four hours each day in the wards, chiefly medical, 
diagnosing disease, watching the progress of cases, and 
accustoming my ear to the stethoscope. Already, in this 
short time, I feel that I have made progress, and detect 
sounds that I could not distinguish on my entrance. I 
advise you, E., to familiarise yourself with the healthy 
sounds of the chest. When you go home, auscultate all 
the family ; you will find quite a variety in the sounds, 
though all may be healthy persons. Lay a cloth over the 
chest and listen with the ear simply ; it is as good as a 
stethoscope with clean people. I wish I could lend you 
my little black stethoscope that I brought from the 

I have been disappointed in one thing here — the Pro- 
fessor of Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Chil- 
dren wrote me a very polite note, telling me that he 
entirely disapproved of a lady's studying medicine, and 
begging me to consider that his neglecting to give me 


aid was owing to no disrespect to me as a lady, but to 
his condemnation of my object. 

By-the-by, I must tell you of a scientific explanation 
of the toughness of meat which I obtained from Mr. 
Paget' s lecture the other morning ; it arises from cooking 
meat during the rigor mortis ! Would not that be a dehcate 
suggestion for a^ squeamish individual ? . . . 

28 Thavies Inn : 1850. 

Deae Dr. Dickson,— I believe that my kind preceptor 
and earhest medical friend will be interested in a little 
account of my foreign Ufe. 

My request for permission to attend St. Bartholomew's 
Hospital was cordially granted, and I have received a 
friendly welcome from professors and students. I have 
the full rights of a student granted to me. I do not 
attend many of the lectures, but confine my attention 
chiefly to the practice of the hospital, and at present, 
more particularly, to the medical practice. If I remain 
through the summer, I shall gradually extend my visits 
to the surgical and other wards, as I am particularly 
anxious to become widely acquainted with disease. I am 
obliged to feel very sceptical as to the wisdom of much of 
the practice which I see pursued every day. I try very 
hard to beUeve, I continually call up my own inexperience 
and the superior ability of the physicians whose actions I 
am watching ; but my doubts will not be subdued, and 
render me the more desirous of obtaining the bedside 
knowledge of sickness which will enable me to commit 
heresy with intelligence in the future, if my convictions 
impel me to it. I hope you will forgive this confession of 
want of faith, which I do not venture to make to my pre- 
sent instructors, for the EngHsh are in general too con- 
servative to have sympathy with unbehef, however 



I do not find so active a spirit of investigation in the 
English professors as in the French. In Paris this spirit 
pervaded young and old, and gave a wonderful fascination 
to the study of medicine, which even I, standing only on the 
threshold, strongly felt. There are innumerable medical 
societies there, and some of the members are always on 
the eve of most important discoveries ; a briUiant theory is 
almost proved, and creates intense interest ; some new 
plan of treatment is always exciting attention in the 
hospitals, and its discussion is widely spread by the 
immense crowds of students freely admitted. The noble 
provision of free lectures, supported by the French Go- 
vernment, increases this tendency ; the distinguished men 
who fill the chairs in these institutions have all the 
leisure and opportunity necessary for original investiga- 
tion, and a receptive audience always ready to reflect the 
enthusiasm of the teacher. I have often Hstened to some 
of these eloquent men in the College of France, their 
natural eloquence increased by the novelty or brilliant 
suggestions of the subject, till I shared fully in the enthu- 
siasm of the assembly ; and then, in the excited feeling of 
the moment, I would enter with some friend into the 
beautiful adjacent garden of the Luxembourg, and, sitting 
down at the foot of some noble statue, we would prolong 
the interest by discussion ; while the brilliant atmosphere, 
tlio trees, the wind and the water, the fine old palace and 
tlie varied groups of people moving amongst the flowers, 
contributed to the charm of the moment, producing some 
of the intensest pleasurable sensations I have ever enjoyed. 
I cannot wonder that students throng to Paris, instead of 
to tlio immense smoke-hidden London ; here there is no 
excitement, all moves steadily onward, constantly but with- 
out enthusiasm. No theory sets the world on fire till it 
is well established, and the German observers are much 
more studied than the French. Everything is stamped 


by good sense and clear substantial thought ; my respect 
is fully commanded, but I often long for a visit to the 
College of France and a stroll in the Luxembourg. 

Whilst devoting all my daytime to the rare 
advantage of practical study so providentially opened 
to me, the evenings w^ere in another direction equally 
delightful and beneficial. I was sitting, one dull 
afternoon, in my bare lodging-house drawing-room, 
somewhat regretfully thinking of the bright skies of 
Paris and pleasant study under the trees of the 
Luxembourg Garden, when the door opened and 
three young ladies entered, and introduced them- 
selves as Miss Bessie Eayner Parkes and the Misses 
Leigh Smith. 

This proved the commencement of a lifelong 
friendship. These ladies were filled with a noble 
enthusiasm for the responsible and practical work 
of women in the various duties of life. They 
warmly sympathised in my medical effort, and were 
connected vdth that delightful society of which 
Lady Noel Byron, Mrs. Follen, Mrs. Jameson, the 
Herschels, and Faraday were distinguished mem- 
bers, and with which the Eev. Mr. Morris and the 
Hon. Eussell Gumey were in full sympathy. 

My young friends hung my dull rooms with their 
charming paintings, made them gay with flowers, 
and welcomed me to their family circles with 
the heartiest hospitality. 

A bright social sun henceforth cheered the some- 
what sombre atmosphere of my hospital life; for 
when the day's duties were accomplished there was 


always some pleasant social gathering, or some con- 
cert or lecture attended with friends, to refresh the 
medical student. I often walked home from my 
friends in the West between twelve and one at night 
(being too poor to engage cabs), not exhausted, but 
invigorated for the next day's work. Lady Noel 
Byron became warmly interested in my studies. I 
went with her to Faraday's lectures, visited her at 
Brighton, and she long remained one of my corre- 

One of my most valued acquaintances was Miss 
Florence Nightingale, then a young lady at home, 
but chafing against the restrictions that crippled her 
active energies. Many an hour we spent by my 
fireside in Thavies Inn, or walking in the beautiful 
grounds of Embley, discussing the problem of the 
present and hopes of the future. To her, chiefly, I 
owed the awakening to the fact that sanitation is 
the supreme goal of medicine, its foundation and its 

My acquaintance also with Professor Georgii, the 
Swedish professor of kinesipathy and the favourite 
disciple of Brandt, whose consultation-rooms in 
Piccadilly I often visited, strengthened my faith in 
the employment of hygienic measures in medicine. 
When, in later years, I entered into practice, ex- 
tremely sceptical in relation to the value of drugs 
and ordinary medical methods, my strong faith in 
hygiene formed the solid ground from which I 
gradually built up my own methods of treatment. 
Looking back upon a long medical Ufe, one of my 


\ ■ 


\>»ppiest recollections is of the number of mothers 
\\m I influenced in the healthy education of their 

\ ^en. 
\ \4ters written home at this date indicate the 
\ \lterests of the time. 

November 1850. 

Deab E., — The great topics of the day here are the 
Great Industrial Exhibition and Popery. 

On November 5 the bells were ringing and the boys 
hurrahing for * Gunpowder Plot Day.' This anniversary 
was celebrated with more enthusiasm than usual from 
the Pope's having appointed a Cardinal Archbishop of 
England, and * No Popery ' placards are posted every- 

The great building of iron and glass for the Exhibition 
is rapidly rising in Hyde Park, and the papers in this 
rank-loving country duly inform us whenever Prince 
Albert comes in from Windsor to inspect its progress, 
and furthermore that the Prince is modelling a group of 
statuary, and the Queen designing a carpet, to figure in 
the display. The last time I was at the Twamleys* we 
drove round to see the building, which is a curious sight 
from the dehcate appearance of the immense quantity of 
iron framework ; it looks too fragile to support a crowd, 
and yet it will hold myriads. There is a splendid old 
elm tree which they have enclosed in the building, and 
his great black arms look in strange contrast to the sur- 
rounding tracery. 

December 24, 1850. 

Deab M., — I was just stretching myself after break- 
fast, and thinking that I must put on my boots and turn 
out into the horrible fog that was darkening daylight, 
when your welcome letters came, and it being holiday 
time I treated myself to an immediate perusal. I must 


beg you not to imagine me sitting in a large bare room 
in an inn. The term * inn ' is only applied in this case to 
a particularly quiet and respectable httle street. The 
term * Inns of Court ' means a number of buildings round 
an open court, withdrawn from the street, entered by an 
arched passage under some house, and used now or at 
some former time for law purposes. That was the origin 
of Thavies Inn ; it was formerly a portion of an old law 
court, and is particularly proper^ having iron gates at the 
archway, which are shut at night, and a porter hving in 
the Httle house at the entrance, who is always on the 
look-out for beggars or other un-respectable characters ; 
and the way in which a little barrel organ that has 
managed to sUp in is * shut up ' at the first bar has 
always amused me, and provoked me at the same time. 
The room also, which was bare enough at first, has 
assumed a much more homelike aspect since two young 
friends sent me some pictures to hang on the walls, and 
a portfolio of paintings, with a little stand on which to 
place a new one every day ; and having turned the side- 
board into a bookcase, I can assure you it looks quite 
comfortable when I have drawn the round table to the 
fire and settled down for the evening. 

Your letter alludes to many topics of interest. First 
of all this * Woman's Eights Convention,' held at Wor- 
cester, Mass. I have read through all the proceedings 
carefully. They show great energy, much right feeling, 
but not, to my judgment, a great amount of strong, clear 
thought. This last, of course, one ought not to expect in 
the beginning ; but in my own mind I have settled it as 
a society to respect, to feel sympathy for, to help incident- 
ally, but not — for me — to work with body and soul. I 
cannot sympathise fully with an anti-man movement. 
I have had too much kindness, aid, and just recognition 
from men to make such attitude of women otherwise 


than painful ; and I think the true end of freedom may 
be gained better in another way. I was touched by the 
kind remembrance of W. H. C, which placed my name 
. on the Industrial Committee ; and if I were in America 
and called on to attend I should certainly send them a 
note full of respect and sympathy ; but I must keep my 
energy for what seems to me a deeper movement. But 
I think you did perfectly right to act on the Education 
Committee, and if I can send you any information I will 
gladly do so. But I feel a little perplexed by the main 
object of the Convention — Woman's Eights. The great 
object of education has nothing to do with woman's 
rights, or man's rights, but with the development of the 
human soul and body. But let me know how you mean 
to treat the subject, and I will render you what aid I 
can. . . . My head is full of the idea of organisation, 
but not organisation of women in opposition to men. I 
have been lately meditating constantly on this idea, and 
seeking some principle of organisation which should be 
a constantly growing one, until it became adequate to 
meet the wants of the time. . . . This horrible fact of 
immorality has weighed upon me fearfully since I came 
to London, for I believe in no city in the world does it 
show itself so publicly as it does here. In Paris it is 
legalised and hidden, and is recognised and profitable as 
a branch of the Government ! 

In the United States it is not so old and widespread 
(written in 1850) ; but here in London it has been let 
alone, has taken an unrestrained course, exists to a 
fearful extent, and shows itself conspicuously in its lowest 
form. At all hours of the night I see groups of our poor 
wretched sisters, standing at every comer of the streets, 
decked out in their best, which best is generally a faded 
shawl and even tattered dress, seeking their wretched 
living; and many aching hearts I have seen looking 

V 2 


through the thin, hungry features. But I will not pain 
you farther ; you know the general fact, though you have 
never had it pressed home to you in a thousand ways, as 
I have. My great dream is of a grand moral reform 
society, a wide movement of women in this matter ; the 
remedy to be sought in every sphere of life — radical 
action — not the fooUsh application of plasters, that has 
hitherto been the work of the so-called * moral reform ' 
societies ; we must leave the present castaway, but 
redeem the rising generation. In my own mind I have 
divided my * Union ' into many branches, several of which 
I see Mr. Channing has proposed for this * Woman's 
Eights Society.' Education to change both the male and 
female perverted character ; industrial occupation, in- 
cluding formation of a priesthood of women ; colonial 
operations, clubs, homes, social unions, a true Press, and 
many other things, have been among my visions; and 
the whole so combined that it could be brought to bear 
on any outrage or prominent evil. In England I should 
seek to interest the Queen, and place her, as the highest 
representative of womanhood, at the head of this grand 
moral army. Indeed, many of my modifications naturally 
fit themselves to EngUsh society, which is immediately 
around one. When I return to America, of course the 
European mould of my thoughts will drop off, and fit 
itself to the New World ; but it never can be an anti-man 
movement. . . . One thing now pleases me much ; all 
the women seem to hke me, from the aristrocratic Miss 
Montgomery, bosom friend of one of the Queen's maids 
of honour, down to the humble sisters of the hospital, 
aU welcome me, and many with enthusiasm. I have 
passed several dehghtful evenings with Mrs. Follen, Mrs. 
Jameson, and the Chapmans ; the De Morgans, Morells, 
and many others are unceasing in their kindness. I find 
these people varying in religion and everything else, but 

Visit to lady byeon 181 

all alive and open to progressive ideas — if they are not 
shocked back. There seems to be a very large class of 
this kind/who are not united in any special effort, but in 
whom the true ideas are germinating, which will some 
time — perhaps in their children, for things move slowly 
in England — reach a perfect development. It is my 
impression^ for I ought only to put it in that modest form, 
that the corresponding class in America is less humane, 
more addicted to money-getting and party spirit; and 
that reform ideas in America are much more talked of, 
but less acted on. , . . 

April 4, 1851. 

Dear E., — I have been very gay lately, with so many 
social entertainments. One evening at the Hon. Miss 
Murray's I saw the Duchess of Buckingham, Duke of 
Argyll, Marquis of Lansdowne, and many distinguished 
people, Sir Lyon Playfair, Sir John Herschel, the Speaker 
of the House of Commons, &c. But my studies go 
steadily on, and I do enjoy going round with Dr. Baly ; 
he is so gentle and friendly, and so learned in his art, 
that he teaches me more than anyone else. I wish I 
could go round with him oftener. . . . 

But I must tell you of a delightful three days' visit 
that I made to Lady Byron at Brighton a week ago. I 
had heard her most highly spoken of, and her connection 
with the poet has thrown a romance around her ; so 
when I received through Miss Montgomery an invitation 
from her, stating that she had herself paid some attention 
to medical matters and would be most happy to see me, 
and that her friend Dr. King would do the honours of the 
well-arranged hospital at Brighton, I determined to accept, 
and give myself a three days' treat. I arrived in Brighton 
one bright, blowing afternoon. Nearly three miles of 
good stone houses face the broad sea, the road in front 
of them forming a delightful elevated promenade open 


to the spray and the Atlantic winds. In the distance at 
one extremity was Beachy Head, at the other the project- 
ing point that hid Portsmouth, and far out, dim in the 
distance, lay the Isle of Wight. Bare, rounded, green 
hills formed the background to the town. In the bow- 
windowed parlour of one of these large stone houses I 
was set down, and soon after. Lady Byron, who had been 
to the railroad to look for me, entered — a slender, rather 
small, but venerable-looking lady of sixty, with fair com- 
plexion, delicate features, and grey hair. She welcomed 
me kindly, and conversed for a little while with a gentle, 
benevolent manner, but a voice that had a very sad tone 
in it. I found that she was a confirmed invalid, and 
learned afterwards that she had never recovered from the 
blow caused by the conduct of her husband, whom she 
had worshipped with real idolatry. Then we went out 
to see th^ sunset and some electrical apparatus, and 
on our return I was introduced to Mrs. Jameson, the 
authoress, who was paying a little visit, and to Dr. King, 
a beautiful old gentleman, more of a philosopher, how- 
ever, than a physician. The next morning I had a 
delightful tSte-d-tite breakfast with Mrs. Jameson, who is 
a charming person with a warm Irish heart, an exquisite 
appreciation of art, and a deep interest in all high 
reform. Meanwhile it had begun to rain and the wind 
battered the house furiously, but nevertheless I went in 
the carriage with Dr. King to visit the hospital and a 
famous manufactory of mineral waters. I returned in a 
hurry to go off with Mrs. Jameson and hear Fanny 
Kemble read * Macbeth.' This was a great treat, for I 
had never heard Shakespeare well given. I had caught 
a glimpse of Fanny Kemble the evening before, when 
Mrs. Jameson had brought her back from reading the 
* Midsummer Night's Dream.' She entered the parlour 
for a few minutes, throwing open the door and declaiming 


a tragic Shakespearian quotation, dressed in rose-coloured 
satin, with a crimson mantle trimmed with white fur, a 
large bouquet in her bosom, her jet-black hair braided 
low down, with large black eyes, and a grand, deep-toned 
voice. She sat on the sofa beside Lady Byron — a most 
strange contrast. She was really magnificent in * Mac- 
beth,' dressed in black velvet trimmed with ermine, and 
Mrs. Jameson, who sat beside me, was in raptures. 

The longer I saw Lady Byron the more she interested 
me ; her insight and judgment are admirable, and I never 
met with a woman whose scientific tendencies seemed so 
strong. She seemed well versed in medicine and was 
her own physician, having consulted many physicians 
who were quite unable to aid her; she has for many 
years taken particular interest in labour schools, and has 
some admirably arranged on her estates. I much enjoyed 
my conversation vsdth her, for she has a rare intelligence 
and a long experience. On Sunday she took me to hear 
a most eloquent preacher, a Mr. Eobertson, who preached 
on the wisdom of Solomon and Christ. He is now in 
the EstabHshed Church, but will, I imagine, soon work 
himself out, for he is continually progressing, and has 
already drawn upon himself much persecution from his 
professional brethren. I certainly never heard his equal 
in torrent-like eloquence ; it was quite a flood. 

How gloriously the wind howled round the house at 
night I As I lay in bed and listened to the wind and the 
heavy swell of the waves, it was dehcious. There is a 
pier built far out into the water as a private promenade. 
I had a beautiful walk there all alone one evening at 
sunset as the tide was coming in. On Sunday afternoon 
I was obliged to leave my new friends. Lady Byron, in 
a purple velvet mantle lined with white silk, a rich dress, 
and a purple satin bonnet trimmed with black lace, es- 
corted me to the cars and put me into the second class. 


which economy obliged me to take. With the most 
hearty shake of the hand we parted, and we have ex- 
changed several notes since I returned, for, as I said, she 
interests me, and I want to know more of her. 

I have a standing invitation to Mrs. Jameson's Thurs- 
day evening meetings, of which I shall try to avail myself 
frequently. Life opens to me in London, social hfe par- 
ticularly ; but I am looking with pleasure to my return. 
I am too impatient to begin my practical career to be 
able to stay anywhere much longer where that is not to 
be commenced. . . . 

April 7. — Miss Murray invited me to see the Queen's 
favourite little German baron, but I did not accept ; for to 
go such a distance on foot or in omnibus in my silk dress 
to meet people with whom I should probably have httle 
sympathy, and to whom I should only seem a quiet, ill- 
dressed person, seemed to me foolish. . . . Spent the 
evening at Mrs. FoUen's. Miss Montgomery told me a 
very strange story of her father's ' double ' appearing to 
her and her brother when they were children playing 
together during his absence in London. They were 
amusing themselves by dressing-up in clothes taken from 
a closet on the staircase, when, hearing their father's 
study door open and fearing reproof, they shut them- 
selves in the closet, watching through a crack of the door 
their father in his dressing-gown with a candle in his 
hand slowly ascend the staircase. They then remem- 
bered that their father had gone to London, and rushed 
up to their mother's room, where she was dressing for a 
party, exclaiming, * Papa has come home I We saw him 
come out of the library with a candle in his hand and go 
upstairs.' The authority of this story was unimpeach- 
able, the details minute. What must one think of it ? . . . 

April 17. — Went down with my friend Florence to 
Embley Park. The laurels were in full bloom. Ex- 


amined the handsome house and beautiful grounds. 
Saturday a perfect day. Walked much with Florence 
in the dehcious air, amid a luxury of sights and sounds, 
conversing on the future. As we walked on the lawn in 
front of the noble drawing-room she said, * Do you know 
what I always think when I look at that row of windows ? 
I think how I should turn it into a hospital ward, and 
just how I should place the beds ! ' She said she should 
be perfectly happy working with me, she should want no 
other husband. 

April 20. — A beautiful Sabbath morning. Saw the 
sea and Isle of Wight in the distance ; watched the 
peasants' picturesque scarlet cloaks going to church. 
As we crossed the fields, conversing on religious matters, 
it was a true communion. . . . 

May 1. — A most brilliant opening of the Great Exhi- 
bition. Thanks to Cousin S., who is an exhibitor, we 
enjoyed a sight which we shall always remember. The 
place was so vast that the musical sound of the great 
organ was lost in the beating of the air. The great build- 
ing, resplendent with the products of the whole world, 
was filled to overflowing with enthusiastic spectators. 
When the Queen, holding Prince Albert's arm, with the 
young Prince of Wales on one side and the Princess 
Boyal on the other, followed by the aged Duke of 
WelHngton arm in arm with the Marquis of Anglesea, 
and a long train of nobility and distinguished men, made 
the tour of the building and declared it open, it was 
indeed a memorable sight. 

The advisability of remaining in England and 
establishing myself in practice in London was 
seriously considered at this time. Under other 
circumstances I should gladly have made the 
attempt, for I was strongly attracted to my native 


land. But I was extremely poor, with no capital to 
fall back on, and with a great horror of running 
into debt ; neither had I any circle of family friends 
to aid me, and whilst I saw the importance of a 
settlement in London, I reaUsed also its difficulties. 
Meanwhile the years of my study in America had 
produced their effect there. Popular feeUng had 
sanctioned the effort. In both Philadelphia and 
Boston attempts were being made to form schools 
for women. My sister Emily also had adopted the 
medical life. She had entered the Medical College 
of Cleveland, Ohio, and was looking forward to 
joining me ultimately in the medical work ; my 
own family also, to whom I was warmly attached, 
were fully expecting my return. 

I determined, therefore, after much anxious con- 
sideration, to make my first settlement in New 
York, hoping in ten or fifteen years' time to have 
attained a position, when I might be able to work 
in England. The parting from English friends and 
opportunities was a painful one. 

London : May 5. 

I gave the day to JFlorence, who is about leaving, 
uncertain whether she will see me again. We heard 
Mr. Ellis lecture at the National Association on Political 
Economy. We also visited the Verral Hospital, but were 
not favourably impressed by the judiciousness of the 
exercises. Dined with her at the Bracebridges*, and 
parted from her with tears. 

May 20. — Visited Guy's Hospital, Dr. Oldham doing 
the honours most kindly. The museum is the best for 
study that I have yet seen. There are about 600 beds in 


the hospital ; twenty are for midwifery, especially under 
Dr. Oldham's care, providing about 1,800 cases in the 
year, and looked after by four young students, who are 
maintained by the hospital for that purpose. There was 
a room especially devoted to electrical treatment. The 
whole establishment bore the marks of wealth. 

July 15. — Wished Dr. Oldham good-bye, who ex- 
pressed great friendliness, wished to see my sister 
should she visit England, and offers to make an appli- 
cation for admission to Guy's Hospital. . . . 

July 17. — Said good-bye to Mr. Paget, Dr. Burrows, 
Dr.Hue,&c. — in fact, cut my connection with the hospitals. 
Did it with much regret ; all were extremely kind, ex- 
pressing the utmost interest and respect for the work. 
Mrs. Paget introduced me to a lady as * a benefactor to 
the race,' and hoped to hear of me through Mr. Paget. 
He spoke of the perfectly satisfactory nature of the ex- 
periment, and that it may be done by another lady under 
similar circumstances, but not as a simple student, he 
thinks. Dr. Burrows also was extremely friendly, and 
paid me indirectly the highest compliment, as having 
* established a principle for others, by the success of m^ 
laudable enterprise; he thought that quite a new idea 
had been gained in this matter, which would help anyone 
else in future.' I found also, with mingled sadness and 
triumph, that now I might do anything I pleased at St. 
Bartholomew's. They have learned to know and welcome 
me as I am going away, and are, as Mr. Paget said, sorry 
to lose me. 

Last Days in England. — Farewells. 

Saturday y July 19, 1851. — I have wished all good- 
bye, and am now ready to go. Much as I regret 
England, my deepest feehngs are with my work, which I 
always carry with me. . . . Bessie P. spent part of the 


day with me. We parted with a few cheerful words, but 
I saw her face colour with emotion as she looked back 
and saw me watching her from the door. Beautiful, true 
heart ! it grieves me deeply to part from her. . . . 

Monday, 21st. — Left London at seven o'clock. A. turned 
from me in tears. I felt very sad as I looked at her thin 
face and thought of all she has suffered, and will suffer. . . . 
In the evening I met a cordial welcome at Dudley. . . . 
Howy and I made an expedition to Worcester and 
Malvern ; it gave us an opportunity for much intimate 
conversation. We had lovely weather, and found the 
country exceedingly beautiful. Eode up the Worcester- 
shire Beacon on donkeys, eating, talking, and laughing 
at our entanglement with other parties, and enchanted 
with the prospect ; there was a tent on the hill, and 
parties dancing. We slid all the way down, and walked 
by Gully's and Wilson's water-cure estabhshments. 
Visited the noble old Worcester Cathedral, but looked in 
vain for our crest of arms, said to be there on the 
windows. Went over Grainger's china manufactory ; 
the production of cups and saucers on the wheel was 
like magic. . . . 

To Liverpool, but found the ship would not sail until 
Saturday. The very sight of it made me sick ; so Cousin 
S. accompanied me to Manchester, where we had a very 
interesting visit. Mr. Wilson, an intelhgent business 
man, escorted us over a large cotton manufactory. It 
was of exceeding interest. Eight hundred looms were at 
work in one room ; mostly tended by women and many 
very young girls. We commenced our inspection by 
descending by ropes deep down into the vaults, where 
the cotton arrives from America and India ; we then pro- 
ceeded through room after room where all the processes 
were conducted, from breaking up the bales, tearing to 
pieces, sorting, carding, forming into sheets, twisting, 


spinning, weaving, and finally measuring and folding the 
cloth. We went up and down, by movable trap -doors, 
underground from street to street, all through the im- 
mense establishment. The noise was tremendous, the 
dust and heat oppressive. I noticed closely the work- 
women, who seemed brutified by their toil ; their phy- 
siognomies were assuming the projecting mouth of the 
lower animals. Most of them carried their hair-comb stuck 
in the back of their head ; they were mostly youngish 
women, sallow and perspiring, and I noticed one woman so 
exhausted that she was obHged continually to sit down ; 
they had often more than one loom to feed. They keep 
the men and women separate in their work as far as 
possible. . . . 

Saturday, 26//t. — Actually my last day on this noble 
British land I I left pale good Cousin S. standing in the 
street of Dudley; watched dear H. running up the rail- 
way bank as I rushed off in the train ; and then I felt 
that I was indeed severed from England, and only anxious 
to get through my journey. I found myself at night on 
board ship, out in the Mersey. Another most impor- 
tant page in life fairly closed ! 

Adieu, dear friends I Heaven keep us all I 




The first seven years of New York life were years 
of very difficult, though steady, uphill work. It 
was carried on without cessation and without 
change from town, either summer or winter. I took 
good rooms in University Place, but patients came 
very slowly to consult me. I had no medical 
companionship, the profession stood aloof, and 
society was distrustful of the innovation. Insolent 
letters occasionally came by post, and my pecuniary 
position was a source of constant anxiety. 

Soon after settling down I made an application 
to be received as one of the physicians in the 
women's department of a large City dispensary; 
but the application was refused, and I was advised 
to form my own dispensary. 

My keenest pleasure in those early days came 
from the encouraging letters received from the many 
valued English friends who extended across the 
ocean the warm sympathy they had shown in 
London. They strengthened that feeling of kin- 
ship to my native land which finally drew me 
back to it. 


A correspondence with Lady Byron, which ex- 
tended over some year^, was particularly encourag- 
ing ; for the strong scientific tastes of this admirable 
woman, as well as her large benevolence, le^ her to take 
a steady interest in the study of medicine by women. 

The following is a characteristic letter from this 
valued friend : — 

Brighton : December 9, 1861. 

I received your letter some days ago, and have ever 
since longed to write to you. The business which has 
chiefly prevented me is of a nature to interest you. A 
conference, originating with Miss Carpenter, is to be held 
at Birmingham to-morrow between chaplains, governors 
of gaols, magistrates, and a few ladies on the means of 
saving the young from sin and reforming them after its 
commission. I could not attend, and perhaps can render 
as much service in absence, indirectly. Miss Murray, Mr. 
Eathbone of Liverpool, Mrs. Jameson, and Miss Mont- 
gomery will be present. 

The subject of this letter is to be the magnetoscope. 
The pamphlet by Mr. Butter shall be sent you. Since its 
publication new discoveries have been made and amply 
tested, and of these I will try to give you some account. 
One objection received as conclusive against the reality 
of the magnetic influence from the operator was that the 
motions of the pendulum suspended from the instrument 
were produced solely by unconscious muscular movement 
on the part of the operator. Although to engineers and 
persons acquainted with the laws of motion this rotation 
of the pendulum in the instrument appeared to be a 
strange new mechanical power, yet the Boyal College of 
Physicians and the ' Lancet ' decreed that it should be 
explained by involuntary muscular movement, and one 
M.D. of eminence wrote a letter to me implying that 


believers in the magnetoscope were to be classed with 

It has since been proved beyond a doubt by Mr. 
Eutter that the touch of the poles of a magnet or crystal 
to the spot before touched by the hand will be followed by 
movements exactly similar, the rotation being from east to 
west or from west to east, according as the north or south 
pole of the crystal is directed to the spot. After contact it 
occurred to Mr. E. to try pointing only with the poles of 
the crystal held in his hand. The same effect ensued. 
What becomes of the muscular impulse theory ? Another 
objection is now considered as fatal — that when the eyes 
are closed all motion is stopped if the operator is either 
holding the thread or touching the magnetoscope. Ergo, 
they say, it is all imposture. But is there not another 
light thrown by this on the power of the eyes — on their 
'electric glance'*? It is stated in Carpenter's * Animal 
Physiology ' that a woman whose left arm was palsied 
could hold up a child with it as long as she looked at it. 
When she closed her eyes the arm dropped. A Mr. John 
Dimson, well known now in Brighton, has a paralytic 
affection of his feet, and cannot walk unless he fixes his 
eyes upon them. To this fact Mr. and Mrs. Bracebridge 
(Florence's friends) and Lady Easthope have recently 
given me their attestation as eye-witnesses, and I under- 
stand that the fact is observed at German baths for lame 

With the disposition, then, to * pooh-pooh * the dis- 
covery in London, I think it will probably be left to 
America — perhaps to you ! — to evolve the truth. There- 
fore I shall feel it my duty to put you in possession of 
facts bearing upon it. I have, however, had the satisfac- 
tion of seeing conviction produced on the mind of one of 
our most distinguished geologists, who perceived the 
connection between the influences of magnetism and 


metals on the pendulum, and some of the subterranean 
operations, particularly mineral springs. (My hand is 
tired and must rest.) 

The application of magnetism to the principle of life 
is most satisfactory to me. The unification of the mag- 
netism of the human head by finding that the pendulum 
is influenced by it, exactly as by a real magnet, that the 
poles correspond, the forehead being north when the 
person is upright. (Changes take place in the recumbent 
position.) This is when a person stands in any direction, 
live bodies being independently magnetic. It is the case 
even with an egg new laid. After boiling, that power 
ceases, and it is a magnet only by inductionj like any 
other inorganic matter. In trying experiments the feet 
must not be crossed, nor the legs, nor the hands clasped, 
nor thumbs joined. These attitudes all occasion the 
motions to stop — for they complete this circuit — analogous 
to electrical phenomena. After all, I have not told you 
what appears the most curious fact in its consequences, 
that (as far as yet tried) the body loses its influence on 
the magnetoscope in sleep. Its polarity is gone, as in 
death ! * Twin brothers ! ' 

On reading over what I have written I perceive a 
want of explicitness, which I hope the pamphlet will 
make up. I will divide it into sheets to be sent in 

With a strong feeling that the ocean is not distance, 

Yours most truly, 

A. I. Noel Byeon. 

At this time I employed the leisure hours of a 

young physician in preparing some lectures on the 

physical education of girls, which were delivered in 

a basement Sunday school room in the spring 

of 1852. 



These lectures, owing to the social and pro- 
fessional connections which resulted from them, gave 
me my first start in practical medical life. They 
were attended by a small but very intelligent 
audience of ladies, and amongst them were some 
members of the Society of Friends, whose warm and 
permanent interest was soon enlisted. Indeed, my 
practice during those early years became very 
much a Quaker practice ; and the institutions which 
sprang up later owed their foundation to the active 
support of this valuable section of the community. 
The family of Mr. Stacy B. Collins, a highly 
respected member of the Society of Friends, will 
always be affectionately remembered. They first 
engaged me as the family physician. The grand- 
daughter, now Dr. Mary B. Hussey, was my ' first 
baby ; ' and a warm friendship continues into the 
third generation. The names also of Robert Hay- 
dock, Merritt Trimble, and Samuel Willets will 
always be gratefully remembered in connection with 
this movement in New York. These well-known 
and highly respected citizens with their families 
gradually became our most steadfast friends. 

My first medical consultation was a curious 
experience. In a severe case of pneumonia in an 
elderly lady I called in consultation a kind-hearted 
pliysician of high standing who had been present in 
Cincinnati at the time of my father's fatal illness. 
This gentleman, after seeing the patient, went with 
me into the parlour. There he began to walk about 
the room in some agitation, exclaiming, * A most 



extraordinary case ! Such a one never happened to 
me before ; I really do not know what to do ! ' I 
listened in surprise and much perplexity, as it was a 
clear case of pneumonia and of no unusual degree of 
danger, until at last I discovered that his perplexity 
related to me, not to the patient, and to the pro- 
priety of consulting with a lady physician ! I was \ 
both amused and relieved. I at once assured my 
old acquaintance that it need not be donsidered in 
the light of an ordinary consultation, if he were 
uneasy about it, but as a friendly talk. So, finally, 
he gave me his best advice ; my patient rapidly 
got well, and happily I never afterwards had any 
difficulty in obtaining a necessary consultation from 
members of the profession. 

In 1852, warmly encouraged by Mrs. Dr. Bellows, 
I published the lectures I had given, under the title, 
* The Laws of Life in reference to the Physical 
Education of Girls.' This little work was favour- 
ably regarded by physicians; it drew forth an 
encouraging letter from the dean of my college, 
to my very great gratification. It also happened 
to fall under Mr. Ruskin's notice, and gained his 
valuable commendation. 

Being still excluded from medical companionship, 
and from the means of increasing medical knowledge 
which dispensary practice affords, I finally deter- 
mined to try and form an independent dispensary. 

In 1853, with the aid of some of my friends, a 
small room was engaged in a poor quarter of the 
town near Tompkin's Square; one of my Quaker 

o 2 

196 3^I*I^^"EER WORK 

friends, Mrs. Cornelia Hussey, actively assisted in 
arranging drugs, covering a screen, &c. This dis- 
pensary (afterwards moved to Third Street) was 
opened three afternoons in each week, and I had the 
satisfaction during the following two years of find- 
ing it welcomed by the poor, and steadily enlisting 
a larger circle of friends. 

In 1854 the Act of Incorporation for an institu- 
tion where women physicians could be available for 
the poor was obtained, and a few well-known citi- 
zens consented to act as trustees. The first annual 
report of this modest little dispensary is given in 
the Appendix. From this very small beginning have 
gradually arisen the present flourishing institutions 
of the New York Infirmary and College for Women. 

It was during these first early years that, not 
being able to continue the expense of good consul- 
tation-rooms, I determined to buy a house. A friend 
lent me the necessary money at fair interest, and a 
house in a good situation in Fifteenth Street was 
selected. This transaction proved a very material 
assistance in many different ways, and enabled me 
to form the home centre which is so necessary 
to the most efficient work. In later years also 
this early experience helped me to realise more fully 
the fundamental importance of the great land ques- 
tion, or * a stake in the soil,' as well as other weighty 
social problems. 

The difficulties and trials encountered at this 
early period were severe. Ill-natured gossip, as well 
as insolent anonymous letters, came to me. Although 


I have never met with any serious difficulties in 
attending to my practice at all hours of the night, 
yet unpleasant annoyances from unprincipled men 
were not infrequent. Some well-dressed man would 
walk by my side on Broadway, saying in a low voice, 
' Turn down Duane Street to the right ; ' or whilst 
waiting for a horse-car at midnight by the City 
Hall a policeman would try to take my hand ; or 
a group of late revellers would shout across the 
street, * See that lone woman walking like mad ! ' 
But with common sense, self-reliance, and attention 
to the work in hand, any woman can pursue the 
medical calling without risk. 

The heat of a New York summer also was at 
this time very trying to an English constitution. 
A letter to my sister in 1853 exclaims : — 

Oh, dear I it is so hot I can hardly write. I was 
called this morning to Flushing to see a sick child, and 
then attended my dispensary, the thermometer varying 
from 86 to 90 in the house, and it stood at 102 in some 
rooms down town. Walk as deliberately as- 1 would, it 
made my brain seem too large for my head. Flushing 
reminded me of the Sahara ; it lay breathless under a 
cloudless sky, leaden with haze. 

In relation to mischievous gossip it is writ- 
ten : — 

These malicious stories are painful to me, for I am 
woman as well as physician, and both natures are wounded 
by these falsehoods. Ah, I am glad I, and not another, 
have to bear this pioneer work. I understand now why 
this life has never been hved before. It is hard, with no 


\ support but a high purpose, to live against every species 
/ of social opposition. ... I should like a little fun now 
and then. Life is altogether too sober. 

The utter loneliness of life became intolerable, 
and in October of 1854 I took a little orphan girl 
from the great emigrant dep6t of EandalFs Island 
to live wdth me. This congenial child I finally 
adopted. The wisdom of such adoption is abun- 
dantly shown by an entry in my journal, two years 
later, written on my birthday : — 

On this bright Sunday morning I feel full of hope and 
strength for the future. Eatty plays beside me with her 
doll. She has just given me a candy basket, purchased 
with a penny she had earned, full of delight in * Doctor's 
birthday ' ! Who will ever guess the restorative support 
which that poor little orphan has been to me ? When I 
took her to live with me she was about seven and a half 
years old. I desperately needed the change of thought 
she compelled me to give her. It was a dark time, and 
she did me good — her genial, loyal, Irish temperament 
suited me. Now I look forward with much hope to the 
coming events of this year. 

An amusing circumstance relating to this child 
is worth recording. She had always been accus- 
tomed to call me * Doctor.' On one occasion she 
was present during the visit of a friendly physician. 
After he was gone, she came to me with a very 
puzzled face, exclaiming, * Doctor, how very odd it 
is to hear a ma7i called Doctor ! * 

In December of 1855 I gave a first drawing-room 
' Address on the Medical Education of Women.' 


In this address (which was afterwards printed) 
it was shown that the movement was only a revival 
of work in which women had always been engaged ; 
but that it was a revival in an advanced form, suited 
to the age and to the enlarging capabilities of 

The clear perception of the providential call to 
women to take their full share in human progress 
has always led us to insist upon a full and identical 
medical education for our students. From the be- 
ginning in America, and later on in England, we 
have always refused to be tempted by the specious 
offers urged upon us to be satisfied with partial or 
specialised instruction. On the occasion of this 
address an appeal was made for assistance in collect- 
ing funds for the growth of the dispensary and the 
gradual formation of a hospital, as indispensable for 
the accomplishment of the work. A committee of 
three ladies was appointed at this drawing-room 
meeting, for the purpose of beginning the difficult 
work of collecting a permanent fund. 

In 1854, my sister. Dr. Emily Blackwell, who 
had graduated with honour at the Medical College of 
Cleveland, Ohio, was pursuing her studies in Europe. 

There she gained invaluable surgical experience 
from having been generously received as assistant 
by Sir James Simpson in his extensive practice in 
female diseases. The genial character of this well- 
known physician was shown not only by his cordial 
reception of Dr. Emily as pupil and assistant, but 
by an amusing incident which occurred whilst his 


consulting-rooms were filled by a waiting assembly 
of aristocratic patients. My sister, being a classical 
scholar, was often employed by the Doctor in making 
translations or extracts for him. On one occasion, 
whilst thus engaged in the farthest room of the suite, 
he called in a low voice, *Dr. Blackwell,' then a 
little louder, * Dr. Blackwell,' and when the attention 
of all his patients was thus aroused, he called in a 
voice loud enough for my sister to hear, * Dr. Black- 
well ! * and then from the comer of his eye, and 
with intense amusement, he watched the varied ex- 
pressions of surprise and dismay depicted on the 
countenances of his distinguished patients as they 
saw the approach along the suite of rooms of a lady 
who thus answered to the summons. 

The following letters to my medical sister refer 
to this period of the work : — 

New York : May 12. 

I need not tell you with what interest and hope I look 
forward to your Edinburgh news. The prospect is very 
good. . . . One of the most difficult points I have to 
contend with here is the entire absence of medical sym- 
pathy ; the medical solitude is really awful at times ; I 
should thankfully turn to any educated woman if I could 
find one. . . . Pray bear in mind to collect all the infor- 
mation you can about maternity, the relation of the sexes, 
and kindred subjects. We have a vast field to work in 
this direction, for reliable information is desperately 
needed in the world on these topics. I feel as if it were 
peculiarly our duty to meet this want. There is much 
vain thought given to these matters here. An active set 
of people are making desperate efforts to spread their 


detestable doctrines of * free love ' under scientific guise, 
placing agents with the advertisements of their books 
worded in the most specious and attractive manner at the 
doors of the conventions now being held here ; on the 
other hand, equally misleading publications are brought 
out in opposition. Such teaching is utterly superficial 
and untrustworthy, and consequently misleading. We 
want facts, scientifically accurate observations, past and 
present, on all that bears on these matters. ... 

You remember the pamphlet sent me by Dr. Sims of 
Alabama. He is now here, determined to estabhsh a 
hospital for the special treatment of women's diseases ; 
he is enlisting much support, and will, I think, succeed. 
He seems- to be in favour of women studying medicine. 
I think I shall help him in any way I can. . . . 

I have at last found a student in whom I can take 
a great deal of interest — Marie Zackrzewska, a German, 
about twenty-six. Dr. Schmidt, the head of the Berlin 
midwifery department, discovered her talent, advised her 
to study, and finally appointed her as chief midwife in 
the hospital under him ; there she taught classes of 
about 150 women and 50 young men, and proved herself 
most capable. When Dr. Schmidt died, the American 
Minister advised her to come to New York ; but here the 
German doctors wanted her to become a nurse. In 
desperation she consulted * The Home for the Friend- 
less,' where they advised her to come to me. There is 
true stuff in her, and I shall do my best to bring it out. 
She must obtain a medical degree. . . . 

July 24. 
Don't be discouraged. There is no doubt about 
our losing many opportunities because of our sex, but you 
must also bear in mind the disadvantages all students 
labour under, unless in exceptional cases. Crowded 
together in masses, they only see at a distance the most 


interesting cases; the complete study is reserved for 
the physician or his constant attendant. I remember 
expressing my impatience while in the Maternity at the 
restrictive rules there, and M. Blot said, * What you wish 
for are only enjoyed by the few who occupy the most 
favoured positions/ Yet I gained, in spite of all difficul- 
ties, a great deal, and in accelerating ratio the longer I 
stayed. I remember that it seemed to me I had gained 
more in my fourth month at the Maternity than in the 
whole three preceding ones. Now I say this because I 
don't want you to over-estimate the worth of pantaloons. 
Disguise in France or elsewhere would by no means give 
you all you need ; if the disguise were complete you 
would just be reduced to the level of the common poor 
student, and would be, I think, quite disappointed. It 
needs also that influential men should take an interest 
in you, and give you chances quite beyond the ordinary 
run. I know that at St. Bartholomew's I would not have 
exchanged my position for that of the simple student, 
though I would gladly for the clinical clerk or interne s 
position. Now you can do nothing in France, except by 
special medical influence. Your time is limited, and you 
cannot wait for examinations and promotions as an 
ordinary student. You ask me what I did, and what can 
be done as a lady. I entered the Maternity, dissected at 
I'Ecole des Beaux- Arts alone, employed a rdpdtiteur who 
drilled me in anatomy and smuggled me into the dead- 
house of La Charity at great risk of detection, where I 
operated on the cadavre. I once made the rounds of his 
wards in the Hotel-Dieu with Koux, heard his lectures, 
and saw his operations. I attended lectures on medical 
generalities at the College of France and Jardin des 
Plantes. I believe that was all in the way of Parisian 
study. I applied to Davenne, Director-General of the 
hospitals, for permission to follow the physicians — 


refused ; applied to Dubois and Trousseau to attend lec- 
tures at the Ecole de M6decine — refused ; Trousseau 
advising me to disguise. You see I had no introductions, 
no experience. I went into the Maternit6 soon after 
going to France, and came out with a sad accident, not 
incUned to renew the battle, not well knowing how, and 
with a promising chance opened to me in London. I 
should do differently now. I should get the most influ- 
ential introduction I could ; I should tell them just what 
I wanted, find which hospitals would be most suited to 
my purpose, and if by putting on disguise I could get 
either an assistant's post or good visiting privilege, I 
would put it on. I don't believe it would be a disguise 
at all to those you were thrown with, but it would be a 
protection if advised by intelHgent men, and would make 
them free to help you. I should avoid crowds, because 
you gain nothing in them ; I don't think either the lec- 
tures at I'Ecole de MMecine or the great hospital visits, 
where from one to five hundred students follow, would 
be of any use. It is in a more private and intimate way, 
and in hospitals where many students do not go, that you 
might gain. I know no one in a position to give you 
more valuable letters than Dr. Simpson, if he is disposed 
to. You ask me what I saw at the Maternity, but I find 
my notes imperfect ; I have only noted down nine ver- 
sions, &c. But I think the most important thing in the 
Maternity is the drilling in the more ordinary labours, 
for only where the finger is thoroughly trained can you 
detect varieties. The cases you send me are very 
interesting, and I am very glad you have made such full 
notes, as they will be useful hints in future solitary prac- 
tice. Don't be in a hurry to leave Dr. S., for I fear you 
will nowhere else find a good drilling in that department. 
I shall see how far I can make your notes available from 
time to time in my own practice. With regard to my 


own clienUle, I shall have advanced 50 dollars over last 
year ; slow progress, but still satisfactory, as it is rehable 
practice, not capricious success. Only think, the thermo- 
meter has been up to 102 in some of the rooms down town ! 
We have had three days' * spells ' this July that seem to 
me a little beyond anything I have ever had to endure. 

November 13. 
I shall be very anxious to know what you do in Paris. 
I almost doubt the propriety of your entering the Mater- 
nit6, or rather I hope that the necessity may be obviated 
by your finding other openings. That Dubois is somewhat 
of an old fox, and will, I presume, at once advise your en- 
trance, to get rid of any responsibility ; but I would not 
think of doing so until I had seen all the others and tried 
for better openings. I think you could get sufficient mid- 
wifery at the Ecole de M6decine, where the midwives have 
the night cases ; the association would be unpleasant from 
the character of the women, but it would leave you your 
freedom. You have done excellently in Edinburgh, and 
nothing could be more satisfactory than the way you leave. 
I think, however, before going to Paris you had certainly 
better see Dr. Oldham of Guy's; he is disposed to be 
friendly, and if he chose might greatly help you. It 
would seem as if it would be well to pursue your English 
studies before the Parisian ; if you could follow Doctors 
Burrows and Baly in medicine at St. Bartholomew's, 
and Oldham at Guy's, you would do well. I am very 
glad you are collecting special medical statistics ; we 
shall find them very serviceable in lecture or pamphlet 
form. It will be necessary next year to make an active 
effort for the dispensary, and I think a few lectures would 
be very important. My conviction becomes constantly 
stronger that you will return, and my plans for the future 
all involve that fact. A pleasant circumstance occurred 
to my German, Dr. Zackrzewska. I aiTanged a Cleve- 


land course for her, and she entered two weeks ago ; she 
met a very friendly reception, and found that Dr. Kirk- 
land is in correspondence with Professor Miiller of Berlin, 
and he had mentioned her in some of his letters in such 
high terms, that the faculty told her, if she would qualify 
herself for examination in surgery and chemistry and 
write an English thesis, that they would graduate her 
at the end of this term. Of course she is studying with 
might and main, and will, I have no doubt, succeed ; so 
we may reckon on a little group of three next year. That 
will be quite encouraging. 

November 27. 

I cannot but feel glad that you rejected the urgent 
persuasions to go to the Crimea. I cannot say what 
going to Kussia might have done for you in English 
reputation, but for America it would have been sheer 
waste of time. I am constantly surprised to see what an 
entire non-conductor of enthusiasm the ocean is, and 
reputation in England, except in very rare cases, is 
utterly unavailing here. The radical differences in 
national character, and the eager, youthful nature of this 
people, quite prevent full sympathetic transmission of 
feeling and recognition of older experience. I am vexed 
to think how completely unavailing your Scotch studies 
will be in the puffing line, but make yourself really strong, 
and we will turn them to the best account in another and 
a better way. Don't forget to bring a full earnest testi- 
monial from Simpson and from others as you progress. 

I'm delighted you are going to Malvern. Oh, those 
breezy uplands of our native isle ! is anything in Nature 
so delicious as their air and freedom? My ride with 
K. over the Welsh hills stands alone in my memory, 
and my shde with Howy down Malvern makes my mouth 


January 23, 1855. 

Your letter came yesterday, giving me an account 
of M.'s relapse and the many anxieties you have 
suffered lately. I confess to feeling an intense anxiety 
about her notwithstanding the hope conveyed in your 
letter, and I shall look to the coming of the postman 
with dread for the next three weeks lest he should bring 
me evil news. You have been pursuing your studies in 
a way we did not anticipate the last eight weeks, but 
very surely it is not lost time ; the responsibilities of such 
a case will strengthen you for every future case, and as 
an illustration of or commentary on Dr. S.'s practice, I 
don't think it will be lost to you. The whole case from 
beginning to end strikes me as a horrid barbarism, but at 
the same time I fully allow that it is the way to make a 
reputation. M.'s death would be little to him, the 
responsibility would be staved off in a dozen different 
ways, and if she succeeded in her object, no end to the 
trumpeting of his praise ! I see every day that it is the 
* heroic,' self-rehant, and actively self-imjpGsing practi- 
tioner that excites a sensation and reputation ; the rational 
and conscientious physician is not the famous one. 

I have just heard one piece of news which decidedly 
indicates progress and which is peculiarly cheering to me, 
because I am persuaded that I have been chiefly instru- 
mental in it. The New York Hospital has opened its 
doors to women this winter ; there is now a class of eight 
women, all pupils from Dr. Trail's hydropathic institute, 
who attend regularly the clinical visits and lectures in 
the amphitheatre with all the other students. The 
matter was discussed in full board, Trimble and Collins 
both advocating, and it was resolved to make the experi- 
ment, Drs. Smith, Buck, and Watson, the then attend- 
ing physicians, being present and consenting, quite con- 


curring in the principle, and only pleading the embarrass- 
ment they should themselves occasionally feel. Mr. 
Trimble assured them they would soon conquer their 
bashfulness ! Thus far, it seems, there has been no 
difl&culty. I consider the matter so important that I 
intend at once to take the hospital ticket and watch the 
experiment in person as closely as I can. I only wish 
the girls came from other than quack auspices. 

Do the * knockings ' prevail at all in England ? it is 
astonishing how they increase here. Judge Edmunds 
has pubUshed two large volumes, which are astonishing, I 
think, as a record of self-deception or credulity. The pro- 
moters hold pubhc discussions in the tabernacle, publish 
endless Hterature, and have hired a large house in Broadway 
at 2,200 dollars, and Katy Fox at a salary of 1,200 dollars 
per annum to give free demonstrations to whoever wishes 
to investigate the truth of * this wonderful new revelation.' 
I attended one of these free sittings lately at Mrs. B.'s 
invitation. It was a curious physical phenomenon to my 
mind of the animal magnetism order. My few questions 
were all answered wrong ; but Mrs. B. and many others 
asked similar questions, the answers of which she knew, 
and they were answered promptly and correctly. Every- 
one who queried with eager temperament got prompt and 
correct rephes, independent of Katy Fox's volition. It 
was odd, but quite disgusting in the view taken of it, as 
an ultra-mundane exhibition. 

Establishment of a hospital. — In 1856 my work- 
ing powers were more than doubled by the arrival 
of my sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, who became 
henceforth my partner and able co-worker. Dr. 
Maria E. Zackrzewska also joined us as soon as she 
had graduated at Cleveland, and became for some 


years before her removal to Boston our active and 
valued assistant in the New York work. 

The refreshing Sunday walks taken with this 
warm-hearted doctor when, crossing the bay by an 
early ferry-boat, we walked for hours in the beautiful 
environs of Hoboken or Staten Island, will always 
remain as a pleasant background to the affectionate 
friendship which still continues. 

Thus reinforced, an advanced step was made in 
1857 by the renting of a house, No. 64 Bleecker 
Street, which we fitted up for a hospital where both 
patients and young assistant physicians could be 
received. This institution, under the name of * The 
New York Infirmary for Women and Children,' was 
formally opened in the May of this year by a public 
meeting, in which the Eev. Henry Ward Beecher, 
Dr. Elder of Philadelphia, and the Eev. Dr. Tyng, 
jun., warmly supported the movement. In this 
institution Dr. Zackrzewska accepted the post of 
resident physician, Dr. Emily becoming chiefly 
responsible for the surgical practice. 

This first attempt to establish a hospital con- 
ducted entirely by women excited much opposition. 
At that date, although college instruction was being 
given to women students in some places, no hospital 
was anywhere available either for practical instruc- 
tion or the exercise of the woman-physician's skill. 
To supply the need had become a matter of urgent 
importance. Our difficulties are thus noted in the 
Annual Report for 1864 : — 

* But to this step (the establishment of a hospital) 


a host of objections were raised by those whom the 
early friends of the institution attempted to interest 
in their effort. They were told that no one would 
let a house for the purpose, that female doctors 
would be looked upon with so much suspicion that 
the police would interfere ; that if deaths occurred 
their death certificates would not be recognised ; 
that they would be resorted to by classes and 
persons whom it would be an insult to be called 
upon to deal with; that without men as resident 
physicians they would not be able to control the 
patients; that if any accident occurred, not only 
the medical profession but the public would blame 
the trustees for supporting such an undertaking ; 
and, finally, that they would never be able to collect 
money enough for so unpopular an effort.' 

Through a cloud of discouragement and distrust 
the little institution steadily worked its way, its few 
friends holding to it the more firmly for the diffi- 
culties it experienced. The practice of the infirmary, 
both medical and surgical, was conducted entirely 
by women ; but a board of consulting physicians, 
men of high standing in the profession, gave it 
the sanction of their names. Dr. Valentine Mott, 
Dr. John Watson, Drs. Willard Parker, E. S. 
Kissam, Isaac E. Taylor, and George P. Camman 
were the earliest medical friends of the infirmary. 

The pecuniary support of this institution, in 
addition to the medical responsibility involved in its 
conduct, was no small burden. For many years its 
annual income rested mainly on our exertions. A 



bazaar was held in its behalf for seven years in 
succession ; lectures, concerts, and every other 
available means of collecting funds were resorted to. 

At one time Fanny Kemble was giving a series 
of Shakespearian readings in New York, and often 
rendered generous help to benevolent institutions by 
the use of her great talent. We hoped that she 
might aid our struggling infirmary by giving a pubhc 
reading in its behalf. So on one occasion I called 
with our fellow-worker Dr. Zackrzewska at the 
hotel where she was staying to prefer our request. 
She received us courteously, listened with kindness 
to an explanation of the object of our visit and of 
the needs of the infirmary; but when she heard 
that the physicians of the institution were women 
she sprang up to her full height, turned her flashing 
eyes upon us, and with the deepest tragic tones of 
her magnificent voice exclaimed : ' Trust a woman — 
as a DOCTOR !— NEVEE ! ' 

The thunder-clap which thus smote us in the 
New York hotel brought back amusingly to my 
mind the scene at Brighton, when the parlour door 
suddenly opened, and a brilliant figure in stage 
costume advanced to the gentle, refined Lady Byron 
with an impassioned quotation from * Julius Caesar.' 
The contrast between two women's natures was so 
remarkable ! 

The necessity, however, of a separate hospital 
for the general training of women students had by 
this time been recognised. Experience both at the 
New York Hospital and at the large Bellevue 


Hospital, where classes of imperfectly trained women 
had failed to maintain their ground, proved that a 
special woman's centre was needed, not only as 
affording them practical instruction, but for the 
purpose of testing the capacity and tact of the 
students themselves, before admitting them to walk 
the general hospitals where male students were 
admitted. The New York Infirmary for Women 
therefore gradually enlisted the active help of en- 
lightened men and women. 

We were much encouraged by the kindly contri- 
butions of articles for our annual bazaars from 
English friends; and a generous-hearted French 
lady, Madame Tr^lat, who felt much interest in 
the new medical movement, sent a donation to 
the funds of the hospital. The continued interest 
of English friends is shown by our correspondence. 

To Lady Noel Byron 

New York : December 27, 1867. 

My dear Friend, — Your kind interest in our hospital 
cheers me. Very few persons understand the soul of this 
work, or the absolute necessity which lies upon us to 
live out the ideal life to the utmost of our power. My 
work is undoubtedly for the few. It is labour in the inter- 
linkings of humanity, and is necessarily difficult of appre- 
ciation by the mass of people, and is very slow in gaining 
their esteem. It has been a most toilsome lesson to 
translate my thought into the common language of life. 
I labour at this translation perpetually, and still remain too 
often incomprehensible. I will not degrade the central 
thought of this work, but I seek in every way to accommo- 

p 2 


date it wisely to the practical common-sense feeling of the 

My sister is a noble helper, and we shall stand, I trust, 
shoulder to shoulder through many years of active service. 
I shall have the pleasure of soon forwarding to you a 
report of our last year's proceedings ; this will give the 
simple facts of our hospital life. 

Allow me to remain, with very true affection, 

Your friend, 

Elizabeth Blackwbll. 

79 East Fifteenth Street. 




The ten years during which this pioneer medical 
work had been steadily carried on had thus firmly 
established the new departure as a useful innovation 
in the United States. The reform was at that time 
steadily growing, not only in New York, but also in 
Philadelphia and Boston, under the guidance of able 
bodies of women. We were now desirous of learning 
what openings existed in England for the entrance of 
women into the medical profession. We knew that 
much interest had been felt there in the progress 
of the American work, and we had been urged by 
friends in Europe to give some account of it. 

It was determined, therefore, in August 1858 
that I should again revisit my native land and urge 
the importance of this medical work. Soon after 
my arrival in Europe I took the occasion of a visit 
made to a sister in Paris to prepare carefully a series 
of three addresses to be delivered in England, show- 
ing what was being done in medicine by women in 
the United States, and the reasons for that work. 
The first of these addresses was on the value of 
physiological knowledge to women, the second on 


the value of medical knowledge, and the third on the 
practical aspect of the work as established in America 
and its adaptability to England. Whilst engaged in 
the preparation of the lectures I entered into rela- 
tions with the large-hearted Countess de Noailles, 
whose devotion to sanitary reform and generous sup- 
port of benevolent enterprises were equally remark- 
able. This lady was very desirous that a country 
sanatorium for women should be established in 
England or France, being firmly convinced that 
hygienic conditions in their fullest application were 
the chief necessity in the successful treatment of 
special diseases. This lady wrote to an old friend in 
Paris : * I wish to direct all my efforts to this object. 
Let me know as soon as possible what it would cost 
to establish a small hospital for women and children 
either in France or England, under Miss Blackwell's 
direction.' She also requested one of her noble 
French relatives to make my acquaintance. The 
interview is thus described in a letter to Dr. Emily 
in New York. 

Paris: 1858. 

Yesterday I saw Madame by appointment at her 

own house. A. says she is a daughter of the Prince de 
P. ; to me she seemed a stout, black-eyed Frenchwoman 
of forty-five, cordial in manner, speaking English well, 
and knowing as much of England and Anglo-Saxon nature 
as a Frenchwoman ever can know. We conversed ener- 
getically for two hours. She is seriously interested in the 
entrance of women into the medical profession, a wish 
founded in her case on the moral degradation which she 
has observed amongst her own acquaintance from the 


practice of being treated by men in female complaints. 
The fact which most struck her in all I told her was your 
amputating a breast ; in this she actually triumphed. Her 
face became radiant with the intense satisfaction of the 
thing, for it proved to her by a fact what she wanted to 
believe, but could only accept intellectually from all 
my reasons — viz. the necessity of letting the midwife 
drop, and striking unfUnchingly for the highest position. 
This one fact, worth to this sort of nature a host of argu- 
ments, gave her real faith in th,e physician. She opened 
freely her objections, or rather difficulties, and I met 
them one after another ; and this difference I observed in 
the encounter with the cultivated European nature — when 
I gave her a reason she understood it and accepted it ; it 
did not go in at one ear and out at the other as with 
more frivolous people ; there is some soil or substance 
you can plant in in this stouter nature. As years ago 
with Lady Byron, so with this lady, it was of some use 
talking to her. She propounded, of course, foolish as 
well as serious ideas ; thus she thought that women 
physicians should never marry ; she also would be shocked 
to see me with a garland on my head dancing in a ball- 
room, and she thought they should be devoted, like the 
sisters of charity, &c. I combated her idea of abnega- 
tion for a while, and put in a feeler to see if she could take 
in a higher notion ; but finding it was impossible, I at once 
ceased the attempt, and allowed her to hold to her own 
highest idea, which I could see was tinged by her French 
nature. Of course it wearied me a little, and I wanted 
after a while to expand my lungs and breathe freely ; 
but I certainly made a strong impression upon her. She 
thanked me and shook my hand again and again at part- 
ing, and said that she should not think of letting this be 
our last interview, and she should write to Madame de 
Noailles the very next day. She had asked me previously 


if I was resolved in any case to go back to America, and 
I had told her *No,' but described at the same time the 
excellent beginning we had made there. I feel convinced 
that I shall have some proposition in relation to my (or 
rather our) establishment in London. What, then, ought 
we to say should such an offer arise? I will accept 
nothing that is not offered to us both, on that I am quite 
determined ; we cannot separate ia practice. 

Paris : November, 1858. 

Preparing my lectures is a troublesome business. My 
first one would not do ; it was so much more adapted to 
an American than an EngUsh audience. I wanted also 
quantities of facts that I did not know how to get. But 
I have now re-written twenty-one pages. I have vvritten 
it with pleasure, though very slowly, and I am really sur- 
prised to find how very slowly I write. I can only write 
when I feel fresh in the morning ; sometimes only a page, 
sometimes none. I will not force it when I don't feel 
fresh, but I shall take whatever time is necessary to do 
the work well, for it is really important. 

It was during this visit that I had the privilege 
of becoming personally acquainted with Dr. Trelat, 
the head of La Salp^triere, and his admirable vdfe, 
who remained steadfast friends through life. I visited 
them at La Salp^triere — that large asylum for infirm > 
women, over which Dr. Trelat presided with truly 
paternal care. La Salpetriere was not then a great 
school of experimentation, but a benevolent refuge, 
where the well-being and kindly protection of its 
inmates formed the primary object of the director. 

The following letters are descriptive of this time. 


To Lady Byron 

Paris : December 30, 1858. 
160 Kue St. Dominique. 

My dear and venerated Friend, — I received your 
letter yesterday. The mere chance of being in any way 
useful to the valuable friend you refer to is reason sufficient 
for a short return at once to England, so I have made my 
arrangements to reach London on Monday evening, 
January 3. 

I have heard with great pleasure of an invitation to 
lecture in London, which I will acknowledge when I 
receive it. I shall be glad of an opportunity of laying 
very important considerations before my fellow country- 
women, but I cannot lecture just at present. I find that 
I must first go to Italy, for reasons which I will explain 
when we meet ; therefore it is too soon to engage rooms 
at present, for which kind offer I sincerely thank you. 

My chief object in making this hurried visit of a few 
days is to see Miss Nightingale and a few valued friends, 
amongst whom I hope I may reckon yourself. I shall 
therefore remain quietly at my cousin's, No. 73 Gloucester 
Terrace, Hyde Park, not attempting to enter into society. 

To Dr, Emily Blackwell 

London : February 1859. 
I have just returned from an interview with Miss 
Nightingale at Malvern in relation to a school for nurses 
which she wishes to establish ; and I start to-morrow for 
France en route for Mentone. My old friend's health is 
lailing from the pressure of mental labour. I cannot go 
into the details of her last five years now, but the labour 
has been and is immense. I think I have never known 
a woman labour as she has done. It is a most remarkable 
experience ; she indeed deserves the name of a worker. 
Of course we conversed very earnestly about the nursing 


plan in which she wished to interest me. She says that 
for six months she shall be utterly unable to give any 
thought to the fund work, and wants me meanwhile to 
observe EngHsh life very carefully, and make up my mind 
as to whether I can give up America, which she thinks a 
very serious matter. Unfortunately she does not think 
private practice possible in connection with her plan. If 
so, it would be impossible for us to help her. She thinks 
her own health wiR never permit her to carry out her 
plan herself, and I much fear she is right in this behef . 

After a short visit to the Eiviera, to confer vdth 
the Countess de Noailles about her proposed sana- 
toriiun for women, I returned to London. There my 
warm friends the Misses Leigh Smith, supported by 
their generous-hearted father, and Miss Bessie Ray- 
ner Parkes, interested themselves actively in prepar- 
ing for the first delivery of my lectures. The Mary- 
lebone Hall was secured. Our young friends brought 
up primroses and other lovely flowers and green 
wreaths from Hastings to ornament the reading- 
desk, and warmly supported me by their ardent 
sympathy. On March 2, 1859, the first lecture was 
given to a very intelligent and appreciative audience, 
whose interest was warmly enlisted. I well remember 
the tears rolling down the benevolent face of Miss 
Anna Goldsmid, who sat immediately in front of me. 
But the most important listener was the bright, 
intelligent young lady whose interest in the study 
of medicine was then aroused — Miss Elizabeth 
Garrett — who became the pioneer of the medical 
movement in England, and who, as Mrs. Garrett 


Anderson, lives to see the great success of her difficult 
and brave work. 

These addresses were afterwards given in Man- 
chester, Birmingham, and Liverpool; Mr. Brace- 
bridge kindly making arrangements for them in 
Birmingham and the Eev. W. H. Channing in 

The interest thus excited in London led to some 
effort being made to commence in England similar 
work to that being done in America. A meeting of 
ladies was held at the St. John's Wood residence of 
Mrs. Peter Taylor, over which Mr. William Shaen 
presided. A committee was formed to consider the 
subject, and encouraged by the offer of help made by 
the Countess de Noailles, a circular was prepared, 
stating the object to be accomplished and inviting 
support. This circular, which was revised by Dr. 
Mayo, Lady Byron, Mr. Shaen, and the Hon. Eussell 
Gumey, was gradually signed by a large number of 
influential ladies. 


Proposed Hospital for the Treatment of the 
Special Diseases of Women 

The Lectures recently delivered by Doctor Elizabeth 
Blackwell at the Marylebone Literary Institution have 
produced in the minds of the ladies who heard them a 
strong conviction of the necessity for a more general 
diffusion of hygienic knowlege among women ; and have 
led to a proposition to found a hospital for a class of 
diseases, the ordinary treatment of which too frequently 
involves much avoidable moral suffering, to be placed 


under the direction of competent women physicians, in 
connection with a Board of consulting physicians and 

A lady, impressed with the want of such an institu- 
tion, and convinced of the value of hygienic knowledge 
in the treatment and prevention of female diseases, has 
already promised 1,000Z. towards th^ hospital, and offers 
5,000Z. more for the endowment of a Sanitary Professor- 
ship in connection with it, provided a sufi&cient sum be 
raised by donation to place the institution on a per- 
manent basis. 

In order to secure the advantages of this offer, it is 
proposed to raise and invest an additional sum of not less 
than 10,000 Z. for the purpose of securing and furnishing 
a suitable house, and forming the nucleus of a permanent 
hospital endowment; and also to collect an annual 
subscription Hst of not less than 500Z., to assist in 
defraying the current expenses of the hospital. 

The ladies whose names are appended to this state- 
ment have signified their cordial concurrence in the 
proposal to establish such an institution, and their desire 
to aid it in any way that may be within their power. 

Contributions will be received by Messrs. Williams, 
Deacon & Co., Bankers, 20 Birchin Lane, E.C. Any 
communications may be addressed to Miss Braysher, 
Hon. Secretary, 73 Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, W. 

Messrs. Bracebridge, the Hon. Eussell Gurney, 
Q.C., and the Hon. W.Cowper accepted the posts of 
trustees, and sixty-six names of well-known ladies 
were gradually added to the circular. 


To Dr, Emily Blackwelh New York 

London : April 15, 1859. 

The more I see of work in England, the more I 
Uke it. From the Queen downwards I see signs of 
favour. On all hands we make converts, and those 
who are indoctrinated make converts. The whole 
way in which the cause is regarded by laity and 
doctors is most respectful. I believe we could get into 
general practice. We could shape the whole matter in 
the right way, for people welcome true ideas. There is 
an immense charm in this fresh field, where soUd EngHsh 
heads receive the highest view of truth, where generosity 
and largeness of idea meet you at every turn. I like 
working and living in England, and there is no limit to 
what we might accomplish here. But, alas ! there is the 
same old difficulty. We ought to have an independent 
300Z. per annum between us, and for want of that it is all 
vitiated. I see the charm of work here as clearly as I 
did on my arrival nine months ago, and feel immeasurably 
more hopeful about the possibilities of English work, but 
I realise more than ever the difficulty of working here 
upon nothing. I am writing to you upon our last pro- 
spectus, one which is to be widely circulated when we 
are satisfied with the names appended. It has been care- 
fully revised, and it is contemplated to distribute many 
thousands of them. But we have been six weeks shaping 
the prospectus and collecting some names, and I know 
that it will take many weeks more to secure the names it 
is hoped to obtain. In fact, it is a long work of initiation 
that has to be carried on, which would be very thorough, 
excellently well done, but which I cannot wait to do. 

It is very unfortunate that the probable dissolution of 
Parliament and consequent ferment of re-elections will 
interfere with our proceedings ; all lecturing is out of the 
question during the excitement of elections. 


I shall probably join A. in the Isle of Wight for a week 
or two. I do want to see that dear Httle island again, 
and I shall there find leisure to revise my little book for 
an English edition. 

I am going to dine with the Gumeys to-night, to meet 
the Eev. Mr. Maurice, who is so highly regarded by a 
large party, and whom I am to convert ! It will be a 
clerical party to-night, and to-morrow I am engaged to 
meet a few medical gentlemen at Mr. Hawes's ! 

The country looks lovely, and as usual I am longing 
for it, and wiU break away at Easter for a little holiday. 
How hard you must be working! You must have a 
hoHday when I come back. 

Easter was spent in the Isle of Wight revising the 
little work on * The Laws of Life/ an English edition 
of which was brought out by Sampson Low & Co. 

During this time the plan of the proposed hospital 
was being circulated in London. 

It was during this visit to England that the 
important step was taken of placing a woman's 
name on the authorised Medical Eegister of the 
United Kingdom. Influential friends were desirous 
of keeping me in England. They presented the 
various testimonials of English and Continental study 
given by distinguished physicians and credentials of 
American practice to the Medical Council. On this 
council, of which Sir Benjamin Brodie was president, 
were old friends of the St. Bartholomew's days. 
The subject was very carefully considered, and after 
mature deliberation this just and important conces- 
sion to qualified women was authorised. I had the 
satisfaction of being enrolled as a recognised phy- 


sician of my native land in the Medical Register of 
January 1, 1859. 

To Dr. Emily Blackwell, New York 

May 13, 1859. 
My letter this week must be rather short, for I 
am overwhelmed with all sorts of engagements pre- 
vious to leaving for Birmingham, where I give my 
first provincial lecture next Monday. I have commu- 
nicated to our Httle committee Madame de Noailles's 
insistence upon a country site for the hospital, and also 
the necessity that exists for not abandoning our work in 
New York until the institutions there are self-supporting. 
They are very much disappointed by the country condition 
attached to the hospital ; but were I settled in England 
and working there, it would not discourage them. But 
all our friends seem to think that as the New York In- 
firmary is the best argument that can be used for English 
work, its downfall would be an irreparable misfortune, 
and they are willing, under the circumstances, to let me go. 
Indeed, I find it necessary to come to a decision myself, 
and after carefully weighing everything I have made up my 
mind to return, at any rate for some time. I can secure 
any amount of personal interest from various quarters ; 
but as the prospect of speedily realising an institution 
where we could both work is put farther off, I do not 
wish to stay under the circumstances. . . . 

Edgbaston : May 17, 1859. 
A letter just received from the Countess de Noailles 
urges me to begin a sanatorium in the country near New 
York. She says : * As the central hospital already 
exists in New York, if you will aUow me to help in 
beginning a sanatorium in country air I should be 
able to realise my idea at once. I think you might 
obtain some house or farmhouse for the purpose in the 


course of the autumn or spring. The importance of con- 
valescent hospitals in the country is beginning to be 
recognised in England ; let women be the first to set the 
example of one in America. I believe that in women's 
complaints they are of more importance than in any 
other, and that in seven cases out of ten the air alone 
would effect the cure.' Now I think this is extremely 
rational and liberal, and we must discuss together how 
we can do it for her. 

To Lady Byron 
73 Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park : June 10, 1859. 

It grieves me much to know of these constantly re- 
curring illnesses, crippling so valuable a life. What a 
satire it is to call our science * The Art of Healing ' ! 

My provincial trip has been very interesting to me, as 
bringing me into contact with a great number of people 
in different classes of society, showing me everywhere a 
great want and an eager reception of what I have to give. 
From Leeds, Nottingham, and Edinburgh came earnest 
invitations to lecture. A message sent to my sister from 
Edinburgh stated a total revolution in womanly sentiment, 
and that her reception would now be as hearty as it was 
formerly hostile. A student from Cambridge told me the 
young men were warmly in our favour. 

Mothers beg me for instruction in health. Young 
ladies listen eagerly to the idea of work. Three desired 
to become medical students. Wise old physicians ask 
me to * break up ' certain fashionable London practices 
by substituting our own practice. Thus from many 
different points of view a deep interest awakens, but 
everywhere the London experience was repeated — viz. 
conversion ; women thinking themselves hostile, but re- 
ceiving the idea when they knew what it really meant. 
But the sympathy is necessarily intellectual only — prac- 


tical reception and familiarity with the new position of 
women must necessarily be of slow growth; It must be, 
in fact, a Hfe work. The children of the present genera- 
tion will grow up accustomed to women doctors, respect- 
ing and trusting them, but the large majority of the 
adults will only hold a half-faith, and this will be a 
gradual growth. I am convinced that there would not 
be a rapidly brilliant success in England, such as some 
enthusiastic friends dream of. 

There is a call for the work, an admirable field, but 
the work itself is a very slow one, the steady conquest of 
innumerable difficulties — a creation, in fact. The hospital 
scheme I think premature. 

I had promised to bring it forward, and have done so, 
but I beUeve, to be successful, it must spring, as in 
America, out of private practice. I have no faith in its 
rapid success. 

My own opinions and plans, then, may be briefly 
summed up. 

There is a valuable and much-needed work to be done 
in England. Slow, uphill work, not remunerative (my 
tour was an expense to me) ; a repetition, to a great ex- 
tent, of our last seven years' work. It would need us 
both to do it weU ; and so greatly does England want 
just our experience that, were it possible, I should counsel 
the transference of our work to this side of the water. 
But this we cannot do, and I shall therefore endeavour 
to prepare others for English work by receiving and 
educating students in America. In America, as here, it 
is a life work. I shall go back to create the institutions 
of which we have planted only the little germ. In ten 
years' time we may hope for permanent institutions 
there, worthy of their object, but we can during that time 
efficiently aid earnest young Englishwomen for their 
work here. Mrs. Bracebridge, who is much interested 


in this plan, is coming to London in Trinity Week for 
the special purpose of becoming acquainted with Mrs. 
Gumey and Mrs. Battin. They will form a committee 
for appointing and testing students. There will be a 
good deal of work connected with these arrangements, 
but directly it is completed I leave, as I am much wanted 
across the water. 

I shall see you, my dear friend, before I leave (about 
June 25). I shall be sad to say good-bye, but I know 
that distance will not necessarily part us. 

73 Gloucester* Terrace, London : June 17, 1859. 

Deab E., — I have only one piece of information to 
send, but that is of the highest importance — viz. that the 
Medical Council has registered me as physician ! I have 
just learned the news from my lawyer, Mr. Shaen, who 
made the application, and at once forwarded the neces- 
sary fees, that I may be published in the first register. 
This will be of immeasurable value to the future of 
medical women in England. . . . 

73 Gloucester Terrace : July 7. 

I am busy making inquiries about the plates, &c., I 
Want to take over to New York. I cannot go to the ex- 
pense of a journey to Paris, but I have the catalogue of 
Auzoux, who stands unrivalled in the manufacture of 
papier-mdchd models. I must make a selection and let 
the pieces be boxed up in Paris, and sent dh-ect by sailing 
vessel. Vassourie is the modeller in wax ; his models 
are the most exquisite things I have ever seen, but 
horribly dear. The microscope I shall buy in England 
I have settled to sail by the Persia on the 23rd, but the 
difl&culty of deciding on our future course does not lessen. 
I am convinced that England is the place where we 
should work to best advantage. Lady Byron, Mrs. 


Bracebridge, the Peter Taylors, Miss Goldsmid— each 
the centre of a large and very different set of. people — 
are each of them sure that we should have a large and 
valuable practice. Many doctors think the same. I can- 
not but think that the next ten years might be better 
spent in England than America. Our work is needed, and 
I know not who else can do it ; indeed, we seem pecu- 
harly suited to do this work in England. Well, we will 
soon discuss these matters together, and I am managing 
as well as I can in shaping things here, and gathering 
information under the uncertainty. 

Returning to New York in August 1859, I found 
the permanent fund which had been commenced for 
the purchase of a hospital site prospering. The 
steady friends of the movement — Stacy B. Collins, 
Eobert Haydock, Merritt Trimble, and Samuel Wil- 
lets, formed the nucleus of an earnest band of sup- 
porters, both men and women. The spacious house, 
126 Second Avenue, was purchased and adapted to 
the use of hospital and dispensary, with accommo- 
dation for several students. 

Our able fellow-worker. Dr. Zackrzewska, having 
left us to superintend the new hospital in Boston, 
we carried on the rapidly growing work of the 
infirmary vdth the aid of intelligent graduates from 
Philadelphia, who came to us for practical instruc- 
tion in medicine. 

In addition to the usual departments of hospital 
and dispensary practice, which included the visiting 
of poor patients at their own homes, we established 
a sanitary visitor. This post was filled by one of 
our assistant physicians, whose special duty it was 

Q 2 


to give simple, practical instruction to poor mothers 
on the management of infants and the preservation 
of the health of their famiUes. An intelUgent young 
coloured physician, Dr. Cole, who was one of our 
resident assistants, carried on this work with tact 
and care. Experience of its results serve to show 
that the establishment of such a department would 
be a valuable addition to every hospital. 

Correspondence with English friends continued, 
and we were deeply interested by the following 
letters from Miss EUzabeth Garrett, who was 
bravely commencing the necessary pioneer work in 
England : — 

Aldebargh, Suffolk : January 2, 1861. 

I feel anxious to tell you how very much I enjoy the 
work and study, as this is to a great extent unexpected to 
me. As I had not any very strong interest in the subjects, 
and was led to choose the profession more from a strong 
conviction of its fitness for women than from any ab- 
sorbing personal bias, I was prepared to find the first 
year's preparation work tedious and wearing. That this 
has not been the case is, I believe, mainly due to the fact 
of my having access to the hospital practice, which acts 
as a continual aid and stimulus to study. For three 
months I attended as a probationary nurse, learning what 
I could both from the doctors and nurses, and reading in 
the spare moments. It was, however, very difficult to 
make way in this desultory manner. The temptation to 
discursiveness and want of system met me continually, 
and at last I determined to begin the study of anatomy, 
chemistry, and materia medica, working steadily at these 
and enduring the ignorance of other branches which could 
not be studied rightly till a foundation of this kind had been 


laid. In pursuance of this plan, when the three months' 
nursing had expired I had an interview with the treasurer 
of the hospital, and asked permission to visit the wards 
and go round with the house doctors. This Mr. De 
Morgan agreed to, and also suggested that Mr. Plaskitt, 
the apothecary, should be asked to take me as a pupil in 
the dispensary, which I found him very willing to do. 
Mr. De Morgan, however, will hold out no hope of my 
being admitted as a regular student, and the general feel- 
ing seems to be that each doctor is willing to help me 
privately and singly, but they are afraid to countenance 
the movement by helping me in their collective capacity. 
This will, however, come in time, I trust, and in the 
meantime it is a great thing to meet with so much indivi- 
dual courtesy and help. When I left the special nursing 
work. Dr. WiUis, the house physician, offered to super- 
intend my reading in private lessons at my own house, 
which was precisely the kind of help I was most glad to 
accept. I continue to go to the hospital early, and go 
round the female medical wards alone, making notes of 
all difficulties and writing descriptions of heart and chest 
sounds and diagnosing as well as I can. This occupies 
the time till Dr. Willis comes, when I go round again and 
consult him upon all doubtful points, and learn a great 
deal-by observing his method and principles. After this 
I go into the dispensary for two or three hours and learn 
the Pharmacopoeia practically, and spend the afternoon in 
study in a room which the authorities have kindly lent me 
in the hospital. I am to continue on my present footing 
till April, but beyond that time I have no very clear plans. 
I wish to get all the education that is possible in London, 
even if it must be of a private or irregular kind. Perhaps 
it would be best to call upon Dr. Southwood Smith, Dr. 
Mayo, and Dr. Jenner, and hear if they can help me into 
any other medical school. 


I should be very glad to know your opinion upon the 
plan of applying for admittance as a student at the 
Middlesex for the next winter session, and also what you 
would advise in the event of this being refused. 

22 Manchester Square : May 8, 1862. 

I have delayed writing, hoping that I might have at 
last some good news of success to give you ; now, as this 
seems farther off than I had hoped it would be, I will delay 
no longer. I think Mrs. Eussell Gurney wrote you that I 
was spending all my time just now in preparing for the 
matriculation examination of the University of London. 
I decided to make this the first step, in consequence of the 
experience last summer brought us. We then made three 
very careful and vigorous efforts to gain the admission of 
women into a medical school. Those we tried were the 
Middlesex, the Westminster, and the London Hospitals ; 
and early in this year we attempted the Grosvenor Street 
School. I need not tell you we were in each case unsuc- 
cessful, though in one or two cases the adverse decision 
was gained by a very small majority of votes. In each 
case those gentlemen who opposed always urged as one 
ground for their doing so, that as the examining bodies 
were not prepared to admit women to their examinations, 
the school could not educate a woman to be an illegal 
practitioner, and that by doing so they would incur the 
certain risk of injuring the school in the eyes of the public 
without really aiding women. The medical papers also 
took up the same line. The * Lancet ' was particularly 
anxious to point out that we were beginning at the wrong 
end, and that the first thing we should do was to settle 
the question of examination. I also had private informa- 
tion from several of the lecturers at the Middlesex that if 
I could matriculate at the London University and enter 
as a medical student for its examinations, my friends at 


their school would do all they could to get the adverse 
decision there altered. I therefore applied to the Apothe- 
caries' Hall and to the College of Surgeons, asking the 
latter body if they would allow me to compete for the 
special diploma for midwifery which they now give. This 
was refused, with an intimation that the College would not 
in any way countenance the introduction of ladies into 
the medical profession. The application to the Hall was 
more fortunate ; the question turned on a legal technicality, 
and was referred to counsel and finally decided in my 
favour. I must, of course, conform to all the ordinary 
regulations, but when I have done so I can obtain the 
licence to practise granted by that body. One of the 
regulations I have met without difi&culty — viz. being ap- 
prenticed to a medical man for five years before the final 
examination. I had indentures made out as soon as I 
knew the decision. The second one (spending three years 
in a medical school in the United Kingdom) is more diffi- 
cult : it is something to be able to say when applying for 
admission into a school that the Hall would examine me 
and give me its licence. Still, as the licence is not all 
that I want, I thought it better to make an effort at some 
university for the M.D. For many reasons it seems de- 
sirable to make the attempt at the London University. 
The medical examinations there are exceedingly good ; 
the constitution of the body is of the most liberal descrip- 
tion, and no residence is required nor any teaching given, 
so that the students would not be brought into any kind 
of contact till they met in the examination-room. Stu- 
dents of all kinds (whatever degree they may ultimately 
desire to take) are required to pass the matriculation 
examination in arts, and this includes the classics, 
natural philosophy, and mathematics, besides a modern 
language and the ordinary school subjects, history and 
geography, and is altogether an examination which would 


require a more liberal and careful education (in the case 
of girls) than is now generally given, even if the candi- 
dates never went in for the M.A. or B.A. degree. It was 
clear that the only chance of obtaining admission to the 
examinations generally lay in keeping the question on 
the widest, most general ground, advocating the claims of 
governesses and other women who required a good general 
examination, without introducing the question of medical 
degrees or the admission of women to any new professions. 
The university is about to have a new charter, and we 
therefore thought that this was the time to raise the ques- 
tion by praying the Senate to obtain the insertion of a 
clause expressly extending to women the benefits of their 
examinations. Before doing this we had submitted the 
present charter to the Attorney-General, and had had his 
opinion upon the power of the Senate to admit women 
upon its authority, as it is now drawn up. He thought 
they had no power to do so, and therefore there was no 
alternative but to ask for a new clause. In order to get 
some expression of the general feeling on the question, 
circulars similar to the one I send you were extensively 
distributed. More than 1,500 were sent out, and as a 
result we obtained a very respectable number of names 
as allies. Some of their letters were so cordial that we 
had extracts printed and sent to the members of the 
Senate with the hst of names. The Vice-Chancellor and 
Mr. Grote were throughout most kindly ready to help us, 
and to give the proposal the full weight of their influence. 
The discussion at the Senate came on yesterday, and was 
a most lengthened and animated one ; of twenty-one 
members present, ten were for, ten against, and one neutral. 
The Chancellor (Lord Granville) then had the casting-vote, 
and gave it against us. 

I am exceedingly sorry, as this would have been 
fraught with such great benefit to many different classes 


of women, and would, I think, have been just the en- 
couragement needed by girls when they leave school to 
keep them interested in their studies and out of the 
merely fashionable or domestic hfe they are so liable to 
fall into. It would also have been a great encouragement 
to parents, and would have made them more willing to 
let their daughters have time and opportunity for culture 
after they leave the schoolroom. These advantages would 
have been widely felt, and for professional women, whether 
governesses or physicians, the opportunity of being able 
to take a degree would have been invaluable. However, 
it is not to be had now ; perhaps, when they are having 
another charter eight or ten years hence, we may try 
again and succeed. I do not imagine there is much 
chance of being able to do more at any other university 
in the United Kingdom than we can do here, so that I 
fear the possibiUty of ever obtaining an EngHsh degree 
as M.D. is a very remote one. 

My notion now is to try to get into a school and 
obtain the Apothecaries' Hall licence. If this should 
prove possible, it would occupy between three and four 
years from next October. I should then wish to come to 
America and obtain the M.D. there, and then spend a 
year in Paris. I should be glad to know if you think I 
ought to make a point of getting the best M.D. diploma I 
can, either in America or on the Continent, if it should 
prove impossible to obtain one here, and if I can get the 
Apothecaries' licence. My own feehng is in favour of 
having the M.D. ; though it should be a foreign one, I 
believe it would command more respect than the licence 
from the Hall would alone. I am fortunately able to 
choose to do whatever is most advisable, as I need not 
be in a hurry to enter upon the profession from pecuniary 
or any other motives, and I think I cannot aid the cause 
more soundly than by trying to do everything in the 


most thorough and exact way. It would be well, I 
think, to spend a good deal of time and strength on 
getting the very best diploma or certificate open to 
women. Should it prove to be quite impossible to get 
into a school, the licence from the HaU would not be 
within my reach. I must, in this case, rely entirely on 
foreign diplomas and on American schools. I shall not 
be too ready to admit this necessity, as I fear the advan- 
tage to the cause would be greatly dimini^ed by the 
fact of my being educated in America. 

I should be very glad to spend a year with you in the 
infirmary after having studied in a school here, but I 
should be very sorry to give up my Enghsh friends and 
interests for the whole period of study, if it can by any 
means be avoided. Still, if it cannot, I am ready to go 
on with the work. The time spent in study has been 
most pleasant, and I am more than ever convinced both 
that this special work is one which a woman may have a 
divine right to engage in, and that every single woman's 
life is both happier and more useful if she has an absorb- 
ing interest and pursuit. I shall be very glad to have 
your advice, when you can kindly find time to write to 
me. Believe me, yours sincerely, 

E. Garrett. 

In the full tide of our medical activity in New 
York, with a growing private practice and increas- 
ing hospital claims, the great catastrophe of civil 
war overwhelmed the country and dominated every 
other interest. 

The first shot at Fort Sumpter aroused the whole 
North, and the assassination of Lincoln enlisted the 
indignant energy of every Northern woman in the 
tremendous struggle. As the deadly contest pro- 


ceeded, and every town and village sent forth its 
volunteers to the fearful slaughter of civil war, the 
concentration of thought and action on the war 
dwarfed every other effort. 

The war was essentially a rebellion by a portion 
of the States for the maintenance of slavery. To us, 
nourished from childhood on the idea of human 
freedom and justice, the contest became of absorbing 
interest. Though our American friends often re- 
proached us as Englishwomen for the action of the 
English Government, we threw ourselves energeti- 
cally into the cause of freedom. 

On the outbreak of the war, an informal meeting 
of the lady managers was called at the infirmary to 
see what could be done towards supplying the want 
of trained nurses so widely felt after the first battles. 
A notice of this meeting to be held at the infirmary 
having accidentally found its way into the ' New York 
Times,' the parlours of the infirmary were crowded 
with ladies, to the surprise of the little group of 

The Eev. Dr. Bellows and Dr. Elisha Harris 
being present, a formal meeting was organised. 
Whilst the great and urgent need of a supply of 
nurses was fully recognised, it was also felt that the 
movement would be too vast to be carried on by so 
small an institution. A letter was therefore drafted 
on this occasion, calling for a public meeting at the 
Cooper Institute, and a committee of the ladies 
present was appointed to obtain signatures to this 


The meeting at the Cooper Institute was crowded 
to overflowing. The National Sanitary Aid Asso- 
ciation was then formed, in order to organise the 
energetic efforts to help that were being made all 
over the country. 

The Ladies' Sanitary Aid Association, of which 
we were active members, was also formed. This 
branch worked daily at the Cooper Institute during 
the whole of the war. It received and forwarded 
contributions of comforts for the soldiers, zealously 
sent from the country ; but its special work was the 
forwarding of nurses to the seat of war. All that 
could be done in the extreme urgency of the need 
was to sift out the most promising women from the 
multitudes that applied to be sent on as nurses, put 
them for a month in training at the great Bellevue 
Hospital of New York, which consented to receive 
relays of volunteers, provide them with a small outfit, 
and send them on for distribution to Miss Dix, who was 
appointed superintendent of nurses at Washington. 

The career of one of these nurses, a German, 
deserves recording. We hesitated about receiving 
her, on account of her excitable disposition, but she 
insisted on going. This feeble-looking woman soon 
drifted away from the Washington Dep6t to the 
active service of the front. After the battle of 
Gettysburg she spent two days and nights on the 
field of slaughter, wading with men's boots in the 
blood and mud, pulling out the still living bodies 
from the heaps of slain, binding up hideous wounds, 
giving a draught of water to one, placing a rough 


pillow under the head of another, in an enthusiasm 
of beneficence which triumphed equally over thought 
of self and horror of the hideous slaughter. 

A welcome relief to the great tension of life 
during those years was the visit of Mr. Herman 
Bicknell, F.E.C.S., who was travelling in America 
after the death of his wife. I remembered him as a 
fellow-student of the St. Bartholomew's days, who 
sat by me in the lecture-room ; and he recalled many 
interesting reminiscences of that eventful time. He 
was a man of great though eccentric talent, and a 
clever Persian scholar, having resided long in the 
East. His cordial friendship during many later 
years was much prized, and continued until his 
premature death. 

It was not until this great national rebellion was 
ended that the next step in the growth of the 
infirmary could be taken. 

The infirmary service of young assistant physi- 
cians, which had been hitherto supplied by students 
whose theoretical training had been obtained else- 
where, no longer met the New York needs. 

In 1865 the trustees of the infirmary, finding 
that the institution was estabUshed in public favour, 
applied to the Legislature for a charter conferring 
college powers upon it. 

They took this step by the strong advice of some 
of the leading physicians of New York interested in 
the infirmary, who urged that the medical education 
of women should not be allowed to pass into the 
hands of the irresponsible persons who were at that 


time seeking to establish a women's college in New 
York. We took this step, however, with hesitation, 
for our own feeling was adverse to the formation of 
an entirely separate school for women. The first 
women physicians connected with the infirmary, 
having all been educated in the ordinary medical 
schools, felt very strongly the advantage of admis- 
sion to the large organised system of public instruc- 
tion already existing for men ; and also the benefits 
arising from association with men as instructors and 
companions in the early years of medical study. 
They renewed their efforts, therefore, to induce some 
good recognised New York school to admit, under 
suitable arrangements, a class of students guaranteed 
by the infirmary, rather than add another to the 
list of female colleges already existing. Finding, 
however, after consultation with the different New 
York schools, that such arrangements could not at 
present be made, the trustees followed the advice of 
their consulting staff, obtained a college charter, 
and opened a subscription for a college fund. 

The use of a spacious lecture-room in the New 
York University, on Washington Square, was tem- 
porarily obtained, until the house adjoining the in- 
firmary could be leased and fitted for college 

A full course of college instruction was gradually 
organised, with the important improvement of esta- 

* The fine property on Stuyvesant Square, at the comer of East 
Fifteenth Street, has sinoe been purchased, and is now the site of the 
New York Infirmary and College. 


blishing the subject of hygiene as one of the princi- 
pal professorial chairs, thus making it an equal as 
well as obligatory study. Another important im- 
provement adopted was the establishment of an 
Examination Board, independent of the teaching 
staff, a plan not then customary in the United States. 
This Board was composed of some of the best known 
members of the profession, and at the same time we 
changed the ordinary term of medical study from 
three years to four. 

During the early years of the college I occupied 
the Chair of Hygiene, and had the pleasure of wel- 
coming Miss Jex Blake, then visiting America, as a 
member of the first class. The Professor of Hygiene 
also superintended the important work of the sanitary 
visitor at the homes of the poor. It has always 
seemed to me, during many years of active private 
practice, that the first and constant aim of the family 
physician should be to diffuse the sanitary knowledge 
which would enable parents to bring up healthy 

The most painful experience which I met with in 
practice was the death of one of my little patients 
from the effects of vaccination. This baby, though 
carefully tended and the lymph used guaranteed 
pure, died from the phagedenic ulceration set up by 
vaccination in a rather scrofulous constitution. To 
a hygienic physician thoroughly believing in the 
beneficence of Nature's laws, to have caused the 
death of a child by such means was a tremendous 


This serious experience awakened a growing dis- 
trust as to the wisdom of all medical methods which 
introduce any degree of morbid matter into the blood 
of the human system ; a distrust which no amount 
of temporary professional opinion or doubtful statis- 
tics has been able to remove. Although I have 
always continued to vaccinate when desired, I am 
strongly opposed to every form of inoculation of 
attenuated virus, as an unfortunate though well- 
meaning fallacy of medical prejudice. 




In 1869 the early pioneer work in America was 
ended. During the twenty years which followed the 
graduation of the first woman physician, the public 
recognition of the justice and advantage of such 
a measure had steadily grown. Throughout the 
Northern States the free and equal entrance of 
women into the profession of medicine was secured. 
In Boston, New York, and Philadelphia special 
medical schools for women were sanctioned by the 
Legislatures, and in some long-established colleges 
women were received as students in the ordinary 

Our New York centre was well organised under 
able guidance, and I determined to return to England 
for a temporary though prolonged residence, both to 
renew physical strength, which had been severely 
tried, and to enlarge my experience of life, as well 
as to assist in the pioneer work so bravely com- 
mencing in London, and which extended later to 

I soon found that social questions of vital im- 


portance to human progress were taking root in the 
prepared soil of the older civiUsation — questions 
which were of absorbing interest. During the 
following twenty years the responsibility of the 
Christian physician assumed to me an ever-deepen- 
ing significance. 

After a refreshing tour in the lovely Lake 
District, arranged by my old friend Herman Bick- 
nell, we attended the Social Science Congress held 
in Bristol in September of 1869. This was indeed a 
noteworthy experience. I was the guest with Miss 
Mary Carpenter of her relations Mr. and Mrs. 
Thomas. One morning Miss Carpenter came into 
my room with her hands full of papers, saying, 
* These papers refer to a subject that you must take 
up. It is to be discussed at a sectional meeting 
to-day, from which all women are excluded ; but 
you, as a doctor, have a right to be present, and will 
be admitted, and you must attend.' 

This formed my introduction to that tremendous 
campaign against the unequal standard of sexual 
morality known as the repeal of the * Contagious 
Diseases Acts,' in which for the following seventeen 
years I was to take an active part, and which, from 
its extended bearings, moulded the whole of my 
future life. 

The study of the papers thus brought to my 
notice by Miss Carpenter was a revelation to me. 
Perhaps happily for me, during my past Ufe and 
medical experiences I had never fully realised the 
wide bearing of this subject and the inevitable 


social degradation produced by a double Standard of 
morality. My eyes were now suddenly opened, 
never to be closed again, to that direful purchase of 
women which is really the greatest obstacle to the 
progress of the race. 

Ignorant as I then was of the various aspects of 
the Contagious Diseases Acts, I instantly perceived 
their injustice, and at once accepted the difficult 
mission Miss Carpenter laid upon me. 

It was hoped by some members of the congress 
that a resolution would be passed supporting the 
one-sided Contagious Diseases Acts legislation, 
against which a strong opposition was beginning 
to arise, and I resolved that the voice of one member 
of the congress, at any rate, should support the 
foundation of morality — viz. equal justice. I there- 
fore attended the section, held at the Blind Asylum, 
sitting far back in that assemblage of men. 

I soon found, however, to my immense relief and 
gratitude, that the cause of justice was in able and 
vigorous male hands, led by Professor Francis New- 
man ; so I gladly withdrew from a painful position 
in that sectional meeting, my advocacy not being 

I was privileged at this time to make the ac- 
quaintance of the Eev. Charles Kingsley and his 
generous-hearted wife. On our first meeting, at an 
evening party, Mr. Kingsley overwhelmed me by his 
enthusiastic greeting. 'You are one of my heroes,* 
he said — a speech which I really could not then 
understand; it seemed to stun me, in my quiet 

fi 2 


life. Later, as I learned to know his enthusiastic 
character and profound social insight, I knew his 
meaning. A sincere personal friendship was then 
begun. He supported me by constant and wise 
counsel until the time of his lamented death, which 
was indeed a severe personal loss. I was warmly 
welcomed to the Eectory of Eversley, and later to 
the Deanery of Chester. On the pleasant and 
historic pine hills of Bramshill, by the Eversley 
Parsonage, and on the ancient walls of Chester, with 
their noble outlook to the Welsh mountains, when 
visiting the Deanery, I enjoyed memorable walks 
with this generous-hearted man, when he threw 
open his delightful stores of natural history and 
strengthened me by his social wisdom. 

An amusing personal experience at the Bristol 
Congress was a * breakfast of all the reUgions,' 
organised by my eccentric friend Herman Bicknell, 
and at which he insisted that I should help him 
preside. He said to me : ' Holyoake is an Atheist, 
Cowell Stepney a Materialist, Baunerj6 and Chat- 
terje are of the Hindoo Brahma Somaj, you are a 
Christian, and I am a Catholic. It will be a most 
remarkable gathering, and the discussion of such 
varied opinions extremely interesting.* I accepted 
the queer invitation. The breakfast was held in a 
large parlour of the hotel. We assembled at table, 
and one of the first things the very deaf gentleman 
on my right hand said to me was : * What an extra- 
ordinary, odd notion that of a soul is ! I wonder 
how it could have arisen,' But the most interesting 


remark by far was made by Holyoake, who, re- 
turning from a secularist meeting of Bristol working 
men, was at once accosted by our host : * Now, 
Holyoake, pray let us have your famous demonstra- 
tion of the non-existence of a God.' Mr. Holyoake 
accepted the demand, and thought for some time in 
a profound silence ; then, with a puzzled face, he 
suddenly burst out : * Upon my word, Bicknell, I 
have really quite forgotten it ! ' 

Mr. Kingsley once said to me, pointing to Holy- 
oake : * That man, many years ago, I put into prison 
for blasphemy ; now I am begging him to come 
down and visit me at Eversley ! ' Our breakfast of 
all the religions as an active contest was a failure. 
The hostile forces met together, but, instead of 
fighting, they fraternised ! 

It was during this visit to Bristol in 1869 that 
the curious experience, already referred to on page 4, 
occurred, when I visited the house where my early 
childhood was spent. 

On settling in London as a physician, I resided 
for some time with my valued friend Barbara Leigh 
Smith, then Madame Bodichon, at whose house in 
Blandford Square I met her wide and varied circle 
of literary and artistic friends and many leaders of 
social reform. Herbert Spencer, Dante Eossetti, 
Mrs. Lewes, the Peter Taylors, Mrs. Crawshay, Miss 
Goldsmid, Miss Cobbe, and Keshub Chunder Sen 
represent a few of the persons I was privileged to 

At this time I had engaged medical consultation- 


rooms in an apparently respectable house in York 
Place, on the front door of which the house agent 
allowed me to place my name. I soon found, how- 
ever, that my doctor's sign was intended to conceal 
the dubious character of the occupier of the house, 
and I had unconsciously walked into a trap ! But 
friends came to the rescue and compelled the can- 
celling of the lease with which I was entangled. I 
then established myself at No. 6 Burwood Place, 
where the commencement of a promising medical 
practice was soon formed. 

I eagerly entered upon the varied and intensely 
interesting social life now opened to me. 

My long-cherished conviction of the supreme 
importance of the medical profession as the great 
conservator of health constantly deepened. 

In 1870, being invited to address the Working 
Women's College, I took as the subject of my discourse 
* How to Keep a Household in Health.' This lecture 
laid down rules of health for the guidance of poor 
women in the management of their households, and 
was welcomed by the audience. One person present, 
however, sent a slanderous account of this lecture to 
the * Pall Mall Gazette,' and I was overwhelmed by 
the receipt of anonymous letters, and letters from 
persons in all classes of society, requesting medical 
advice on the most important and delicate subjects 
— subjects which are only suitable for the confidential 
counsel of the physician's consulting-room, where 
alone advice adapted to each individual case can be 
judiciously given. I mentioned this experience of 


the newspaper attack and the subsequent correspond- 
ence to my friend Mr. Kingsley. He exclaimed : * Oh, 
you did not answer those letters, I trust ? ' I assured 
him that I had always refused to give the advice asked 
for by letter, and had invariably returned fees when 
enclosed. ' Thank God for that ! ' he exclaimed with 
an energy that amazed me ; and he then related to me 
a very painful experience of his own, saying : * Let me 
warn you, never answer a newspaper attack. There 
are some newspapers that delight in getting hold of 
a scandal or whatever may make their paper sell, and 
are utterly unscrupulous as to the means by which 
such a purpose is accomplished. You have no chance 
against such corrupt speculation ; your only weapon 
is silence and your own established character.' 

On February 19, 1871, under the auspices of the 
Sunday Lecture Society, I gave an address, * On the 
Eeligion of Health,' to a large appreciative audience 
in St. George's Hall. The same year a small 
meeting was held in the drawing-room of 6 Burwood 
Place, to consider the important subject of a steady 
and wide diffusion of sanitary knowledge among all 
the people. There ' The National Health Society ' 
was formed, for which Mr. Prout Newcombe (who 
was present) shaped the stamp of the society, 
with its motto, 'Prevention is better than cure.' 
This society, which established its first office in 
Berners Street under the intelligent secretaryship of 
Miss Toulmin Smith, continues its enlarging sphere 
of usefulness under the able management of Miss 
Fay Lankester. 


At this time the medical dispensary established 
by Miss Garrett for women and children in Seymour 
Place was growing and enlisting a large number of 
influential friends. 

From this small beginning has grown the New 
Hospital and London School of Medicine for Women, 
connected with the Boyal Free Hospital. This is 
not the place to speak of the intelligent and perse- 
vering efforts to which those institutions owe their 
origin. The work of Dr. Garrett Anderson and 
Dr. Sophia Jex Blake will always be remembered. 
It was my privilege and pleasure in some small 
degree to encourage these brave workers in their 
pioneer enterprise in England. 

Whilst attending to an increasing medical prac- 
tice, a visit from Mr. William Pare, who had written 
an interesting account of the Ealahine land experi- 
ment in Ireland, which proved so successful under the 
management of Mr. E. T. Craig, drew my attention to 
the important co-operative movement steadily growing 
in England.* The abortive attempts at co-operative 
society which I had watched in the United States, 
at Brook Farm, Eed Bank, Eagleswood, and other 
places, in no way shook the faith that through failure 
and renewed effort the true principles of a wise 
organisation of human relations would gradually be 
evolved. The English co-operative movement was 
characteristic of the common-sense, unambitious way 

* This remarkable experiment of 1831, with its tragic termina- 
tion, is related by Mr. Pare (Longmans, Green, & Go.) and by Mr. 
Craig (Triibner). It is well worth the careful study of all co-operative 


in which reforms grow in England. The religious 
element introduced by such a noble band of Christian 
Socialists as Maurice, Kingsley, Hughes, and Ludlow 
gave a hopefulness to this movement which no 
attempts based on a limited view of material well- 
being can afford. 

Medical experience was daily showing the in- 
fluence of the mind over the body, and I eagerly 
longed to see an embodiment of Christian principles 
in society, which embodiment was, as yet, far from 

In pursuance of this investigation, at the end of 
August 1872 I determined to visit the Familistere 
of Guise, formed by Godin Lemaire. His book, 
' Solutions Sociales,' describing the growth of the in- 
stitution, was exceedingly interesting, and contained 
valuable suggestions for future workers, and I wished 
to see its practical working for myself. At the end 
of a fatiguing journey to Guise, on the Belgian 
frontier of France, for at that time many miles had 
to be traversed by diligence, I was cordially welcomed 
by M. Lemaire, and spent several very interesting 
days in the great Familistere, observing the life 

The Familistfere, which accommodated several 
hundred people, was erected on a tract of land 
almost encircled by the river, which tract was laid 
out in gardens and pleasure grounds. Across the 
river stood the large factories and workshops for the 
manufacture of stoves, &c., which furnished the 
remunerative occupation of the little community. 

I attended the prize-giving at the schools, saw 


the theatre, workmen's club and choral society, 
witnessed a ball, and visited the manufactory. The 
organisation was a great object-lesson both in its 
success and its defects ; full of interest to those who 
seriously study this important subject of improved 
social relations. The Ufe at the Familistere, how- 
ever, was intense, and rather overpowering to me. 

Shortly after my return I was attacked by illness, 
which proved so serious in its effects that in 1873 
the Burwood Place estabUshment was broken up, 
and my plan of life necessarily changed. During the 
next three years I vainly endeavoured to resume my 
London work, but was frequently obliged to seek 
health in change of residence and foreign travel. 
This travel included a memorable winter in Rome, 
which need not be further referred to, although the 
approach to the Eternal City — when, across the 
Campagna, the dome of St. Peter's was first visible 
— was a thrilUng personal joy, never to be forgotten. 
But my purely personal experiences will not be 
dwelt on. 

When the London School of Medicine for Women 
was established I hastened my return, and accepted 
the Chair of Gynaecology in the college. 

In my lodgings in Dorset Square I again suffered 
from atrocious biliary colic, which the able physicians 
whom I consulted were unable to relieve, finished my 
course of lectures with extreme difficulty, and came 
to the conclusion, with bitter disappointment, that 
any future residence in London under my circum- 
stances must be given up. 


The winters of 1876-78 were spent chiefly at 
Bordighera and in Nice. An episode there is worth 

My enlarging experience in various countries in 
respect to the relations between men .and women — 
the customs, the diseases, the social disaster spring- 
ing from errors as to human physiology and neglect 
in education with regard to the most important 
functions — showed me the imperative work which 
devolved upon the physician in this matter. I 
realised that the mind cannot be separated from the 
body in any profound view of the scope of medical 
responsibility. Under the olive trees of Bordighera, 
and sitting by its lovely blue sea, I meditated on the 
duty of the physician, and finally wrote the small 
work, * Counsel to Parents on the Moral Education 
of their Children.' 

So little at that time was the importance of sexual 
education understood, and the necessity of its con- 
sideration accepted, that when I read my manuscript 
to a warm and enlightened English friend staying 
at Mentone, she assured me that if I published that 
manuscript my * name would be a forbidden word in 
England. ' 

I sent the manuscript, however, to about twelve 
of the leading London publishers, who all declined 
the publication. I therefore printed a small edition 
myself, which a bookseller consented to keep on sale. 
A copy of this little book fell under the notice of 
Miss Ellice Hopkins, who, considering that it would be 
useful in the special work in which she was engaged, 


induced Mr. Hudson, the then acting member of the 
firm of Hatchard & Co., to reconsider the matter and 
pubhsh the book for her use. The arrangement was 
made and the book printed; but soon after I re- 
ceived a letter sajdng that though the firm had 
never yet broken faith with an author, yet they 
feared they must do so now ; for the senior member 
of the firm, Bishop Hatchard's widow, had seen the 
proof of the book, thrown it into the fire, and desired 
that its publication should be stopped ! 

Finally, a little consultation of elderly clergymen 
was called to consider the subject, and it was at 
last resolved that if the name of the work could be 
changed, and the distinct announcement made in 
the title that it was a medical as well as a moral 
work, the publication might be continued. Of course 
the change was made, and ' Counsel to Parents ' 
became * The Moral Education of the Young, con- 
sidered under Medical and Social Aspects.* 

I mention this curious experience as an encou- 
ragement to those who are engaged in all branches 
of moral work. PubHc sentiment has advanced since 
1876. Looking now at the very reticent way in 
which the subject is treated in this little book, it is 
difficult to believe that such an episode could have 

It has become clear to me that our medical pro- 
fession has not yet fully realised the special and 
weighty responsibility which rests upon it to watch 
over the cradle of the race ; to see that human beings 
are well born, well nourished, and well educated. 


The onward impulse to this great work would seem 
to be especially incumbent upon women physicians, 
who for the first time are beginning to realise the 
all-important character of parentage in its influence 
upon the adult as well as on the child — i.e. on the 

To every woman, as well as to every man, the 
responsible function of parentage is delegated. Our 
nature is dwarfed or degraded if the growth 
which should be attained by the exercise of parent- 
age, directly or potentially, be either avoided or 

The physician knows that the natural family 
group is the first essential element of a progressive 
society. The degeneration of that element by the 
degradation of either of its two essential factors, the 
man or the woman, begins the ruin of a State. 

It is a source of deep gratitude in a long medical 
life to have been enabled by physiological knowledge, 
as well as experience, to perceive the true point of 
view from which the special nature of man and 
woman must be regarded. It is well worth the 
efforts of a lifetime to have attained knowledge 
which justifies an attack on the root of all evil — viz. 
the deadly atheism which asserts that because forms 
of evil have always existed in society, therefore they 
must always exist; and that the attainment of a 
high ideal is a hopeless chimera. 

The study of human nature by women as well 
as men commences that new and hopeful era of 
the intelligent co-operation of the sexes through 


which alone real progress can be attained and 
secured. We may look forward with hope to the 
future influence of Christian women physicians, 
when with sympathy and reverence guiding intel- 
lectual activity they learn to apply the vital prin- 
ciples of their Great Master to every method and 
practice of the heaUng art. 



The following letter, lately published in the New York 
* Church Union ' by a well-known physician of New 
York, is interesting as the testimony of a gentleman who 
was a fellow- student in the Geneva Medical College. 

The Medical Co-education of the Sexes, By Stephen 

Smith, M.D. 

Medical circles were recently entertained by a sym- 
posium of prominent physicians discussing the propriety 
of the medical co-education of the sexes. All of the 
writers were opposed to the suggestion; some, notably 
Dr. Weir Mitchell, of Philadelphia, expressed the utmost 
disgust at the proposition. It happened to me to have 
witnessed the first instance of the co-education of medical 
students of both sexes in this country, and the results 
quite upset the theories of these gentlemen. 

The first course of medical lectures which I attended 
was in a medical college in the interior of this State 
in 1847-48. The class, numbering about 150 students, 
was composed largely of young men from the neighbour- 
ing towns. They were rude, boisterous, and riotous 
beyond comparison. On several occasions the residents 
of the neighbourhood sent written protests to the faculty, 
threatening to have the college indicted as a nuisance if 


the disturbance did not cease. During lectures it was 
often almost impossible to hear the professors, owing to 
the confusion. 

Some weeks after the course began the dean ap- 
peared before the class with a letter in his hand, which 
he craved the indulgence of the students to be allowed to 
read. Anticipation was extreme when he announced that 
it contained the most extraordinary request which had 
ever been made to the faculty. The letter was written 
by a physician of Philadelphia, who requested the faculty 
to admit as a student a lady who was studying medicine 
in his ofl&ce. He stated that she had been refused ad- 
mission by several medical colleges, but, as this institu- 
tion was in the country, he thought it more likely to be 
free from prejudice against a woman medical student. 
The dean stated that the faculty had taken action on the 
communication, and directed him to report their conclu- 
sion to the class. The faculty decided to leave the matter 
in the hands of the class, with this understanding — that 
if any single student objected to her admission, a negative 
reply would be returned. It subsequently appeared that 
the faculty did not intend to admit her, but wished to 
escape direct refusal by referring the question to the 
class, with a proviso which, it was believed, would neces- 
sarily exclude her. 

But the whole affair assumed the most ludicrous 
aspect to the class, and the announcement was received 
with the most uproarious demonstrations of favour. A 
meeting was called for the evening, which was attended 
by every member. The resolution approving the admis- 
sion of the lady was sustained by a number of the most 
extravagant speeches, which were enthusiastically cheered. 
The vote was finally taken, with what seemed to be one 
unanimous yell, * Yea ! ' When the negative vote was 
called, a single voice was heard uttering a timid ' No.' 


The scene that followed passes description. A general 
rush was made for the corner of the room which emitted 
the voice, and the recalcitrant member was only too glad 
to acknowledge his error and record his vote in the 
affirmative. The faculty received the decision of the 
class with evident disfavour, and returned an answer 
admitting the lady student. Two weeks or more elapsed, 
and as the lady student did not appear, the incident of 
her application was quite forgotten, and the class con- 
tinued in its riotous career. One morning, all unex- 
pectedly, a lady entered the lecture-room with the 
professor; she was quite small of stature, plainly dressed, 
appeared diffident and retiring, but had a firm and deter- 
mined expression of face. Her entrance into that Bedlam 
of confusion acted like magic upon every student. Each 
hurriedly sought his seat, and the most absolute silence 
prevailed. For the first time a lecture was given without 
the slightest interruption, and every word could be heard 
as distinctly as it would if there had been but a single 
person in the room. The sudden transformation of this 
class from a band of lawless desperadoes to gentlemen, 
by the mere presence of a lady, proved to be permanent 
in its effects. A more orderly class of medical students 
was never seen than this, and it continued to be to the 
close of the term. 

The real test of the influence of a woman upon the 
conduct and character of a man in co-education was 
developed when the Professor of Anatomy came to that 
part of his course which required demonstrations that 
he beheved should be witnessed only by men. The pro- 
fessor was a rollicking, jovial man, who constantly inter- 
spersed his lectures with witty remarks and funny anec- 
dotes. Nor did he study to have his language chaste, or 
the- moral of his stories pure and elevating. In fact, 
vulgarity and profanity formed a large part of his ordinary 



lectures ; and especially was this true of the lectures on 
the branch of anatomy above mentioned. On this 
account, chiefly, he was exceedingly popular with his 
class; and during his lectures stamping, clapping, and 
cheering were the principal employments of the students. 
One morning our lady student was missed at the 
lecture on anatomy, and the professor entered the room 
evidently labouring under great excitement. He stated 
that he had a communication to make to the class which 
demanded the most serious consideration. He then 
explained that he bad thought it highly improper that 
the lady student should attend certain lectures specially 
adapted for men, and as he was approaching that 
subject he had frankly advised her to absent herself, in a 
letter which he read. He dwelt upon the indeUcacy of 
the subject, the embarrassment under which he should 
labour if a lady were present, and the injustice which 
would be done to the class by the imperfect manner in 
which he should be obhged to demonstrate the subject. 
He closed by offering her abundant private opportunities 
for study and dissection. He then read her reply. It 
was gracefully written, and showed a full appreciation of 
his embarrassing position, when viewed from the low 
standpoint of impure and unchaste sentiments. But she 
could not conceive of a medical man whose mind was 
not so elevated and purified by the study of the science 
of anatomy that such sentiments would for a moment 
influence him. Coming to the practical question of her 
attendance upon these lectures, she stated that if the 
professor would really be embarrassed by the presence of 
a lady on the first tier of seats, she would take her seat 
on the upper tier ; and she trusted that his interest in his 
subject would lead him to entirely forget the presence of 
student No. 130 — her registered number. At the close 
of the letter the professor acknowledged the justice of the 


rebuke which he had received, and declared that a lady 
who was animated by such elevated views of her profes- 
sion was entitled to every possible encouragement which 
the class or faculty could give. He then opened the 
door and she entered, only to receive an ovation of the 
most overwhelming character. The lectures on anatomy 
proceeded in regular order to their conclusion; and it 
was the universal testimony of the oldest students that 
they had never listened to such a complete and thorough 

At the close of the term our lady student came up 
for examination for graduation, and took rank with the 
best students of the class. As this was the first instance 
of the granting of a medical diploma to a woman in this 
country, so far as the faculty had information, there was 
at first some hesitation about conferring the degree. 
But it was finally determined to take the novel step, and 
in the honour list of the roll of graduates for that year 
appears the name, Dr, Elizabeth Blackwell. 

Church Union. 

New York, 1892. 


An M.D. in a Gown 

[The * Medical Times ' of the 21st ult. contains a full, 
true, and particular account of the admission of a young 
lady, Miss Elizabeth Blackwell, by the General Medical 
College, in the State of New York, to a physician's degree. 
Miss Blackwell had duly attended lectures at the college, 
and received a formal diploma, imder the title of * Domina,' 
which was the only feminine that the Senate could find 
for Doctor. * Punch * really thinks this is a case for a copy 

8 2 


of verses, which he accordingly subjoins, in honour of the 

fair M.D.] 

Not always is the warrior male, 

Nor masculine the sailor ; 
We all know Zaragossa's tale. 

We've all heard * Billy Taylor ; ' 
Bat far a nobler heroine, she 

Who won the palm of knowledge, 
And took a Medical Degree, 

By study at her College. 

They talk about the gentler sex 

Mankind in sickness tending, 
And o'er the patient's conch their necks 

Solicitously bending ; 
But what avails solicitude 

In fever or in phthisic, 
If lovely woman 's not imbued 

With one idea of physic ? 

Young ladies all, of every clime. 

Especially of Britain, 
Who wholly occupy your time 

In novels or in knitting. 
Whose highest skill is but to play. 

Sing, dance, or French to clack well. 
Reflect on the example, pray. 

Of excellent Miss Blackwell ! 

Think, if you had a brother ill, 

A husband, or a lover. 
And could prescribe the draught or pill 

Whereby he might recover ; 
How much more useful this would be. 

Oh, sister, wife, or daughter I 
Than merely handing him beef-tea. 

Gruel, or toast -and-water. 

Ye bachelors about to wed 

In youth's unthinking hey-day, 
Who look upon a furnish'd head 

As horrid for a lady, 


Who*d call a female doctor * blue ; * 
You'd spare your sneers, I rather 

Think, my young fellows, if you knew 
What physic costs a father I 

How much more blest were married life 

To men of small condition. 
If every one could have his wife 

For family physician ; 
His nursery kept from ailments free, 

By proper regulation, 
And for advice his only fee 

A thankful salutation. 

For Doctrix Blackwell — that's the way 

To dub in rightful gender — 
In her profession, ever may 

Prosperity attend her ! 
' Punch ' a gold-handled parasol 

Suggests for presentation 
To one so well deserving all 

Esteem and admiration. 



First Anmml Beport of the New York Dispensary for 
Poor Women and Children, 1855 

The design of this institution is to give to poor women 
an opportunity of consulting physicians of their own sex. 
The existing charities of our city regard the employment 
of women as physicians as an experiment, the success of 
which has not yet been suJB&ciently proved to admit 
of cordial co-operation. It was therefore necessary to 
form a separate institution which should furnish to poor 
women the medical aid which they could not obtain else- 

The following gentlemen cordially consented to act as 


trustees of the proposed institution: Messrs. Butler, 
White, Haydock, Sedgwick, ColMns, Field, Draper, 
Greeley, West, Harris, Foster, Eaymond, Flanders, Dana, 
Manning, Spring, Bowne. Consulting physicians, Drs. 
Kissam, Parker, Cammann, Taylor. Attending physician, 
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. 

Messrs. Sedgwick and Butler kindly procured an Act 
of Incorporation. A meeting for organisation was held 
on January 30, 1854. A constitution and bylaws were 
adopted, and the following members were appointed an 
Executive Committee to transact the business for the 
year : Stacy B. Collins, Eichard H. Bowne, Charles A. 
Dana, EMzabeth Blackwell, Charles Foster. 

The Eleventh Ward was chosen as the location for 
the dispensary, it being destitute of medical charity, 
while possessing a densely crowded poor population. 
The necessary rooms were found in Seventh Street, near 
Tompkins Square, and were ready for the reception of 
patients in the month of March. The dispensary has 
been regularly opened through the year, on Monday, 
Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, at 3 o'clock. Over 
200 poor women have received medical aid. All 
these women have gratefully acknowledged the help 
afforded them, and several of the most destitute have 
tendered their few pence as an offering to the institution. 

With all these patients, the necessity of cleanhness, 
ventilation, and judicious diet has been strongly urged, 
and in many cases the advice has been followed, at any 
rate for a time. A word of counsel or information, too, 
has often been given to the destitute widow or friendless 
girl who was seeking work as well as health ; the best 
methods of seeking employment have been pointed out, 
suitable charities occasionally recommended, and pecu- 
niary aid sometimes rendered. 

Since the double distress of commercial pressure and 


severe weather have weighed so heavily on the poor, 
raany cases of extreme destitution have come to the 
dispensary. These have been chiefly emigrants, mostly 
Germans, without friends or money, and ignorant of the 
language. Several famiHes have .been visited where some 
member was sick, and found utterly destitute, suffering 
from hunger, and though honest and industrious, dis,- 
appointed in every effort to obtain work. To such families 
a Httle help with money, generally in the form of a loan 
till work could be procured, has proved invaluable, and a 
small poor fund placed by some friends in the hands of 
the attending physician, for this special object, has saved 
several worthy families from despair and impending 

The dispensary has been removed since January 1, 
1855, to No. 150 Third Street, betweeai Avenues A and B, 
opposite the large CathoHc church ; all persons who are 
interested in its objects are cordially invited to call there. 
It will be open as heretofore from 3 to 5 o*clock on 
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. Poor 
women and children may be sent from any part of the 
city to receive the medical aid of the dispensary, it being 
free to all. 

This institution was commenced by the subscriptions 
of a few friends ; its expenses have been kept within its 
means, but the power of doing good has necessarily been 
limited by the smallness of its funds. It is found desir- 
able to enlarge its operations, and place it on a permanent 
basis. For this purpose, the trustees wish to raise the 
sum of 5,000 doUars, and contributions are earnestly 
sohcited. The following members are appointed to re- 
ceive contributions : 

Stacy B. Collins, 155 Bleecfcer Street, 

Kobert Haydock, 46 Broadway, 

Elizabeth Blackwell, 79 East Fifteenth Street. 


The amount raised will be invested as a permanent 
fund for the institution. It is the hope of the founders of 
this charity to make it eventually a hospital for women 
and a school for the education of nurses. 

The books of the dispensary are always open to the 
inspection of members, on appUcation to the attending 

New York : February 8, 1855. 



The following addresses and publications indicate that 
* search after righteousness * which has occupied later life 
in England. 

How to Jceep a Household in Health; given at the Working 
Women's College, 1870. 

Medicine and Morality^ 1881 ; in the * Modem Review.' 

Rescue Work in relation to Vice and Disease, 1881 ; before 
Mrs. Meredith's Society. 

Christian Socialism, 1882. 

Wrong and Right Methods of dealing with Social Evil, based 
on Parliamentary Evidence, 1883. 

On the Decay of Municipal Representative Qovernw,ent : a 
Personal Experience in Hastings, 1885. 

Purchase of Women a Great Economic Blunder, 1886. 

Criticism, of Gronlund's Co-operative Commonwealth; given 
before the Fellowship of the New Life, 1888. 

A Medical Treatise on the Corruption of Neo-Malthusianism, 


Christian Duty in regard to Vice ; a letter to the International 
Congress, 1889. 

Christianity a Battle, not a Drea/m ; given before the Christo- 
Theosophical Society. 

Erroneous Method in Medical Eddccation; Counsel to the 
Medical College of the New York Infirmary, 1892. 


The Moral Education of the Young, (Longmans, Green, & 

The Human Element in Sex ; a Medical Work* (J« & A. 

Christianity in Medicine ; published in * Things to Come.* 
(EUiot Stock.) 

The Influence of Women in Medicine ; an Address to the 
Graduates of the London School of Medicine for Women. 
(Bell & Sons.) 

Why Hygienic Congresses fail, (Bell & Sons.) 

The Religion of Health ; republished by the M. R. Union, 
2 Leinster Place, W. 



April, 1891 






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69 DittRramB. Is. «i7. 1«. OJ- 







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NOV 12 1991