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Full text of "Sadie Knowland Coe : a chapter in a life : October 9, 1864-August 24, 1905"

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S>adie 








BANCROFT 
LIBRARY 

O 

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 



A CHAPTER IN A LIFE 



OCTOBER 9, 1864 
AUGUST 24, 1905 




PRIVATELY PRINTED 
MCMVI 



ALAMEDA 1864-1885 

BOSTON 1885-1887 

LOS ANGELES .... 1888-1890 

BERLIN 1890-1893 

EVANSTON 1893-1905 

ALAMEDA .... July-August, 1905 



ALAMEDA 

1864-1885 



f^TjHEREFORE to whom turn I but to thee, the 
M ineffable Name ? 

Builder and maker, thou, of houses not made with 

hands ! 
What, have fear of change from thee who art ever the 

same? 
Doubt that thy power can Jill the heart that thy power 

expands ? 
There shall never be one lost good ! What was, shall 

live as before; 

The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound ; 
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good 

more ; 
On the earth the broken arcs y in heaven a perfect round. 

All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall 

exist ; 
Not its semblance, but itself ; no beauty, nor good, nor 

power 
WJiose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the 

melodist 
When eternity affirms the conception of an hour. 

Robert Browning. 

f r rjHROUGH love to light ! Oh, wonderful the way 
t That leads from darkness to tfie perfect day ! 
From darkness and from sorrotv of the night 
To morning that comes singing o'er the sea. 
Through love to light ! through light, God, to Thee, 
Who art the love of love, the eternal light of light ! 

Richard Watson Oilder. 



JOSEPH KNOWLAND, a native 
of the City of New York, but reared 
at Southampton, Long Island, 
migrated to California in 1855. Eight 
years later, from her native town of Bing- 
ham, Maine, Miss Hannah B. Russell also 
migrated to the Golden State. Both went 
by way of the Isthmus of Panama, a tedi 
ous route, and beset with hardships and 
dangers. These two married, and their 
first child was Sadie E., who was born 
in San Francisco, October 9, 1864. In 
1872 the family residence was changed to 
Alameda, a suburb of San F*antdsCy 
where it has since remained. * 

The parents brought with them froxil V ;\ i " 
their eastern homes not only the vigor of 
the pioneer but also, what was less com 
mon in the new El Dorado, training and 
habits of a scrupulous kind. On the 
mother's side, along with the blood of two 
[9] 



MEMOIR 

Massachusetts soldiers of the Revolution, 1 
there had descended the typical New 
England seriousness, and on both sides 
the Puritan tradition was strong. Both 
parents feared God, gave themselves to 
active service in the church, and lived 
lives of simplicity and neighborly 
helpfulness. 

Thus it was that the daughter came by 
the solidity and serious-mindedness that 
characterized her whole life. A certain 
intensity of temperament that she in 
herited from her father prevented her 
from fully sharing the even calm of the 
mother's faith, but it added emphasis to 
an unfailing spirit of reverence and obedi 
ence, and to a keen realization of the 
practical, active aspects of righteousness. 
The tone of her childhood was serious 

,-r-vtQo' serious, one of her teachers once 
remarked. , Yet she had two blessings that 

'' are , forking in many a more careless girl 
hood. With her mother she enjoyed an 
exquisite bosom-companionship, more inti- 

1 Joseph Russell and Calvin Russell. By virtue of this 
descent, Mrs. Coe became, in 1887, a member of the Fort 
Dearborn Chapter of the Daughters of the American 
Revolution. 

[10] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

mate, more constant, more lasting than 
any other instance of it that I have ever 
known. On the other hand, from close 
association with her father, whose un 
bounded energy and strict integrity were 
gaining for him a high standing among 
business men, she formed habits of punc 
tuality, system, accuracy, and business 
honor. 

In her sixteenth year, following an ex 
perience that she was taught to regard as 
conversion, she became a member of the 
First Methodist Episcopal Church of 
Alameda. This experience was a simple 
outburst of emotion uncomplicated by any 
dramatic features. As she grew to ma 
turity, though she did not lose respect for 
it, she ceased to regard it as a decisive 
event. Obviously it was only one expres 
sion of a growing religious life that had 
been nurtured in the home and the church 
from the beginning. 

Following the custom of her parents, 
she assumed a share of church work. She 
did it spontaneously and as a matter of 
course, and her willingness made her share 
a large one. Through nearly the whole 
[11] 



MEMOIR 

of her teens she was the organist of the 
church and the Sunday school. For several 
years she was a teacher in the Sunday 
school. In the social affairs of the church 
she was a natural leader, and she was 
prominent in organizing and carrying on 
a church literary society. She was like 
wise one of the organizers and active 
workers of the Alameda Flower Mission, 
a society of young women that ministered 
to the sick by means of California's flower- 
treasures. 

Of her abundant good works a pastor 
who came to her girlhood church some 
five years after she had married and moved 
away from Alameda says : 

" It is no risk to say that she was the best known 
and most highly esteemed young woman in Ala 
meda. When she went east to complete her edu 
cation the people, without respect to denomination, 
gave her a memorable farewell reception and made 
her a handsome and costly present. She had been 
the presiding and inspiring spirit of the Alameda 
Flower Mission. There were few sorrowing hearts 
in Alameda who did not feel the gentle touch of 
her kindly ministrations. Girl that she was in 
years, she was always in the right place at the 
right time. Organist, Sunday-school teacher, at 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

the head of nearly every good work in the church 
and in the community, she became a recognized 
moral power in Alameda. Though absent nearly 
seventeen years, the long after-glow of her beauti 
ful Christian life is still remembered. She loved 
Alameda, and Alameda never forgot her. If she 
could have chosen the place of her departure it 
could have been no more ideal."" 1 

Her formal schooling was had in the 
grammar schools and the high school in 
Alameda. But with her piano lessons, 
which began at the age of nine, there 
entered into her life what was destined to 
become the chief instrument for the train 
ing of her powers. Her lessons began as 
they do with most girls whose mothers 
value music as an accomplishment. But 
when, after a time, she was placed with 
Ernst Hartmann of San Francisco, not 
only did music become a passion with her, 
but signs of decided talent also began to 
appear. Hartmann, a product of the 
Kullak school, was a real musician and a 
real teacher. He was a rigorous train 
ing-master, but he was more than that ; 
he developed the pupil's musical sense, 

i Editorial by Rev. F. D. Bovardin the California Christian 
Advocate, August 31, 1905. 

[13] 



MEMOIR 

communicated his own high artistic ideals, 
and inspired to personal endeavor. Mrs. 
Coe was obliged to learn in later years 
how great a part muscular relaxation 
has in effective piano technic, but she 
never ceased to hold Hartmann in grateful 
remembrance. 

It is needless to dwell upon her early 
and growing local prominence as a player. 
There came a time when the applause of 
neighbors and musical leadership in the 
home community seemed only steps toward 
higher effectiveness and severer stand 
ards. The need for a larger life became 
imperative. 

No one then guessed what powers were 
struggling for self-utterance. To all ap 
pearances she was simply a young woman 
of popular social qualities and refined tastes 
who played the piano exceptionally well 
and was favorably situated for attaining 
the general cultural and social ends that 
commonly satisfy. But she felt suffocated. 
Dimly she knew that there was a wider 
sphere for her, and she clearly saw that 
music was the door of entrance to it. 

At first music-study in Germany was 
[14] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

contemplated and almost decided upon. 
But parental instinct had to be com 
promised with, and so Boston was selected 
instead, and the autumn of 1885 finds her 
joyously breathing the fine musical, liter 
ary, and artistic air of that old metropolis 
of culture. 



[15] 



BOSTON 

1885-1887 



HE face of all the world is changed, I think, 
Since Jirst I heard the footsteps of thy soul 
Move still, oh, still, beside me. 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 



HOW often have we said to each 
other that it seemed impossible 
that we were ever strangers ! 
Yet, as far as chronologies are true, we 
met for the first time in Boston in the 
spring of 1886. I was then a student of 
theology, with no other expectation than 
a life in the pastorate. Through a mutual 
friend, a former resident of Alameda, I 
was introduced to Miss Knowland. How 
vivid is the incident at this moment ! 

She was absorbed in work. Carl Baer- 
man was her teacher of piano, and John W. 
Tufts her teacher of theory and composi 
tion both of them musicians and teachers 
of high rank. With both she did the 
most painstaking work, unsparing of rou 
tine and detail. Without drawing any 
contrast between the two teachers, it may 
be said that Mr. Tufts discovered her per 
sonality and bestowed on her a friendly 
interest that won her lifelong gratitude. 
[19] 



MEMOIR 

Though she was a private pupil, with no 
formal curriculum to follow, she conceived 
music-study in no narrow or perfunctory 
way. She not only gave herself to the 
hearing of much music, but she also read 
and reflected upon musical subjects. In 
her Boston note-book I find evidence of 
a wide range of interest. Here are notes 
on the various periods of musical history, 
the characteristics of different composers 
and the qualities of their particular com 
positions, musical instruments, and various 
kinds and aspects of music. There are 
quotations, also, from the lives of the 
composers and from books on musical 
history and criticism. 

With characteristic enterprise, she was 
studying also the historical and literary 
landmarks of Boston and its vicinity, read 
ing the best of our English and American 
literature, and getting acquainted with 
Boston's art- treasures. Her first summer 
vacation finds her enjoying the quaint 
sights and sounds of old Nantucket Island ; 
the winter sees her presiding at the piano 
at religious meetings for the neglected 
classes in the North End of Boston. Thus, 
[20] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

around music-study as a nucleus, there 
grew an aspiring and many-sided life. 

It is pleasant to recall the zest with 
which she seized upon her opportunities. 
The much-longed-for larger world was 
opening to her. It was a world, too, 
of fun and frolic with her music-student 
associates, as well as of ambition-arousing 
privilege. A long-forgotten parody and 
cartoon that had their origin in a trio of 
young ladies, of whom she was one, is a 
pleasant reminder of the relaxations that 
gave equipoise to her earnest life. 

She was not more energetic and viva 
cious than she was simple and sincere. 
One could never encounter her except 
upon a plane of high purpose. 

Tennyson, Browning, and the American 
writers especially Emerson who have 
made of Boston and Concord America's 
great literary shrines ; Beethoven, Mendels 
sohn, Schubert, and Schumann these 
formed the environment in which our 
acquaintance grew. 

In the spring of 1887 a young man 
delivered his graduating "oration" in a 
state of dazed insensibility to his subject 
[21] 



MEMOIR 

and to all the scholastic aspects of the 
occasion. He was alive to only one thing : 
in the vast audience that filled old Tremont 
Temple there sat one who had just spoken 
a word that was for him a word of destiny. 
Guided by the advice of my professors, 
I had shaped my studies with reference 
to the profession of teaching. But now 
came an urgent call to missionary service 
in China, and the whole problem of life's 
work had to be reopened. All her habits 
and tastes, all her training and musical 
ambition, made against toleration of such 
an idea as living in China. Yet she only 
expressed her natural bent and her great 
est natural gift, as I know from her whole 
subsequent life, when she refused to re 
gard even China as an obstacle. Though 
the call of duty was not China- ward, after 
all, still what I had to offer her was not 
attractive from any worldly point of view. 
To forego a prospect of ease, of unre 
stricted cultural advantages, and of social 
opportunity in order to share an obscure, 
laborious, uncertain career with one who 
was beginning at the bottom of a badly 
underpaid profession this was a prospect 
[22] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

that might well have awakened her friends' 
anxiety. That she could unfalteringly 
make such a decision is enough to humble 
and exalt for a lifetime the lover who 
received the gift. 

Together with her mother, brother, and 
sister, she spent the summer of 1887 among 
the scenes and the friends of her mother's 
girlhood in Maine. Then, until about the 
holidays, she was again at work with her 
music at Boston. Her return to Alameda 
at the holiday season marks a period in her 
development. Her piano execution has 
grown firmer, the history and theory of 
music have been opened to her, and her 
whole aesthetic horizon has been enlarged. 
She signalizes the home-coming by giving 
a public recital which brings her no little 
honor from her townspeople. 

As to the future, ah ! what but love 
is strong enough to dare so much ? 



[23] 



LOS ANGELES 

1888-1890 



w 



E knew that a bar was broken between 
Life and life ; we were mixed at last 
In spite of the mortal screen. 

Robert Browning. 



S 



HINE! Shine! Shine! 
Pour down your warmth, great sun ! 
While we bask, we two together. 



D 



Two together ! 

Winds blow south, or winds blwv north, 
Day come white, or night come black, 
Home, or rivers and mountains from home, 
Singing all time, minding no time, 
While we two keep together. 

Walt Whitman. 

OES the road wind uphill all the way ? 

Yes, to the very end. 

Will the day's journey take the whole long day ? 
From morn to night, my friend. 

Christina Georgina Rossetti. 



EARLY in the summer of 1888 I 
accepted a humble post in the 
University of Southern California 
at Los Angeles, and she consented to 
share my life there from the start. We 
were married at the home of her parents 
in Alameda, September 3, in the presence 
of relatives and a few friends. The offici 
ating clergyman was an old friend of the 
family, the Rev. Robert Bentley, D.D. 
He was an alumnus of Northwestern, and 
Mrs. Bentley is also an alumnus through 
graduation from the old Female College 
that became many years ago a part of the 
University. 1 

After enduring the discomforts of board 
ing for most of the first college year, we 
had the joy of building a little nest of 
our own, a six-room cottage of a type then 

1 At the alumni reunion of 1905 it was my pleasure to 
discover Mrs. Bentley in the procession. Dr. Bentley passed 
into the unseen several years ago. 

[27] 



MEMOIR 

everywhere to be seen in Los Angeles. 
At last we had our own fireside, our own 
flower-garden, and the exquisite sense of 
proprietorship in a home. What a joy it 
was to have a place for our friends about 
our own open fire ! 

The topics of conversation were not 
always of a cheer-bringing sort. For the 
college with which I was connected was 
then mostly raw edges, and the financial 
management was wretched. Aside from 
the pleasure of helping to develop our 
students, the chief comfort of the official 
situation was a fellowship between the 
professors that was made all the deeper 
by the discouraging conditions. All in 
all, the two years that Mrs. Coe and I 
spent in Los Angeles seemed to us in 
after-years to have been a time of test 
ing and preparation. We were not tried 
more than others, we simply bore our 
share of the general discomfort. Fortu 
nately, the cost of living was still low, 
so that we were more than able to meet 
expenses from the start. Our professional 
aims also were steadily furthered from the 
first. Best of all, the pressure of hard 
[28] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

conditions made only so much the firmer 
the personal relations between one and 
one that are the foundation of happy 
home life. 

During the first season she devoted her 
self to piano practice and playing. By the 
spring of 1889 she had won recognition, 
and the piano department of the institu 
tion was offered to her. We had reason 
to believe that one cause of this offer 
was the profound impression made by her 
playing upon a large college audience. 

What the position was to amount to 
depended on her own efforts and manage 
ment. She had entire charge of both the 
musical and the business sides of the de 
partment. Then began to appear her 
power both as a teacher and as an admin 
istrator. In spite of adverse conditions 
growing out of the past of the department, 
pupils flocked to her until her time was 
full. At the end of the year, after she 
had turned over to the institution its 
liberal proportion of the returns, she had 
the satisfaction of having earned an in 
come almost equal to her husband's salary. 
She more than earned it, for she put into 
[29] 



her occupation not only skill, but also 
heart and conscience that are above price. 
She laid stress upon musical theory and 
history, both of which she taught in con 
nection with piano. She went to great 
pains to procure the necessary material 
for such teaching, among other things 
raising money herself for the founding of 
a library of works on music. The effect 
iveness of her teaching was cordially rec 
ognized at the time, and several years 
later two of her Los Angeles pupils fol 
lowed her to Evanston. 

She had found a calling, a profession. 
For years she had hoped for it, and this 
is a part of the explanation of her long, 
severe self-discipline. We had married 
with a mutual understanding of her am 
bition, and neither of us ever for a moment 
regretted it. To work side by side in our 
respective professions seemed to us to 
be at once destiny and duty and highest 
happiness. The year that confirmed her 
hopes by demonstrating her ability to 
succeed in the musical profession has al 
ways been to me a joyful memory in spite 
of the discomforts to which I have referred. 
[30] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

Before the year was over both of us 
were longing for opportunity for foreign 
study. We hesitated to embark on such 
.an enterprise with our slender capital, 
however, until one day a day of never- 
to-be-forgotten joy word came that I 
had been appointed to a travelling fellow 
ship of Boston University. The home 
was favorably disposed of, and after a visit 
in Alameda we turned our faces toward 
Germany, the Mecca of the student. 



[31] 



BERLIN 

1890-1893 



if we still ride on, we two, 
With life forever old yet new, 
Changed not in kind bid in degree, 
The instant made eternity, 
And heaven just prove that I and she 
Ride, ride together, forever ride ? 

Robert Browning. 



WHAT better landing-place for 
untravelled travellers than 
Holland? Here, early in 
August, 1890, we find ourselves almost 
intoxicated with our first and freshest 
experiences of the Old World. After a 
little tour of the land of dikes, we settle 
down for a few weeks in Gottingen before 
beginning work in Berlin. Before me 
lies a note-book in which Mrs. Coe kept 
a fairly complete record of impressions 
and events for the first several months 
in Europe. It shows, not less clearly 
than my own memory, how sharp were 
the eyes, how studious the mind, how 
genial the humor with which she en 
countered her new experiences. 

A month or so of piano practice and 
German grammar, a visit to the Passion 
Play at Oberammergau (how rich it was 
in new impressions !), and then Berlin, 
the treasure-house of opportunity ! There 
[35] 



MEMOIR 

was no limit to the enthusiasm with which 
she went at her work. Her primary ob 
ject was to study piano with Professor 
Heinrich Barth. If she could secure ad 
mission to the Royal College of Music 
(Konigliche Hochschule fur Musik) she 
could have the desired piano lessons and 
many other advantages at slight expense. 
Barth, after privately testing her playing, 
her ear, and her knowledge of harmony, 
advised her to apply for admission. Un 
successful in her first effort, she worked 
privately with Professor Barth until 
Easter, when she secured the desired 
privilege. Her description of the unsuc 
cessful examination is worth giving in the 
words of her note-book. 

"Yesterday, October 1, went through ordeal 
of examination at Hochschule. Went at 9 A. M. 
Found crowd of applicants in all stages of nervous 
ness girls with one parent, some flanked by both 
parents, others supported by friends. Girls had 
taken their gloves off; some were nervously 
wriggling the fingers. List of names in hall ; my 
number, 49. Grew faint and nervous ; went out 
on piazza.. Barth came along nonchalantly smok 
ing cigar as if it were an everyday occurrence, saw 
me, came and shook hands cordially. Told him 
[36] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

my number was 49, when he told me I might as 
well go home and return at 12, as my turn would 
not come until after that time. Returned at 12. 
Found the girls who were still to play looking 
more distracted than they did at 9. Some seemed 
to be in tears. My courage gradually oozed out 
at my finger ends. There was a pause then of 
half an hour. At 12 : 45 the examination went 
on, beginning with number 41. Large waiting- 
room ; applicants with parents and friends. Many 
stood waiting their turn in little entry outside of 
music room where examination was being held. 
Two were admitted at a time, so that there might 
be no waits between. Finally it came turn of 48 
and 49. 48 was a young American or English 
man with a wonderful execution. While he played 
I sat near the door, feeling as if I were waiting 
my turn to have a tooth pulled. The young man 
played with his notes, as, to my great surprise, 
many others did, and when he had finished he 
was mercilessly stood in a corner while the pro 
fessors threw chords at him, that is, whacked them 
on the piano and asked him what they were. Poor 
fellow ! He looked utterly crushed, as I felt when 
it came my turn to be put through the same 
process, arid I failed in it as gloriously as he did. 
He was told to come Friday, at 1 P. M., which is 
said to mean that you are admitted, and my turn 
had come. The seven piano professors sat around 
a table, with pens, ink, and paper before them. 
When I went in, Barth turned, bowed, and 
smiled in a reassuring way. Professor, evidently 
[37] 



MEMOIR 

the director of department, pleasantly motioned 
me to the piano. On the way was stopped by 
having this question thrown at me in German by 
one of the professors. ' How do you pronounce 
your name ? ' l Did not understand at first. Ques 
tion was repeated. Then I replied in English. 
Professor (in German) in a very belligerent tone : 
' You speak no German at all ? ' 'I speak a little.' 
* But ' interrupting ' don't you know that we 
speak only German here?' 'I do understand 
some German and am studying ' here a sneering 
'Humph' 'and am sure that in two or three 
weeks I shall understand well.' Upon which I 
was greeted with a scornful laugh of derision in 
which several of the other inquisitors no, I 
mean the professors joined. This added insult 
to injury. Turned my back on the whole lot and 
went to the piano. There were two grands 
Steinways, by the way. Steinway has a factory 
in Hamburg (?) and his pianos here are called 
' Steinweg.' I played same sonata which I played 
for Earth was allowed to play a small part of 
each movement. Then my ear was tested. Barth 
struck chord and said, 'Major or minor?' I 
managed to perceive that it was minor, and said 
so, but when I was asked to tell to which key it 
belonged, I could n't have done it if my life had 
depended upon it, I was so completely unnerved 
and utterly unable to think. This part of the 



1 Germans always had trouble with our name. They 
took it to be either Koh-eh or Koh. 

[38] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

examination was not continued, and I was also 
told to come on Friday at 1 o'clock. Test is 
really the playing. The whole ordeal is terrible ! 
Am not surprised that so few Americans attempt 
it. Girls came out looking utterly unnerved and 
exhausted. I suffered for hours afterwards with 
a severe nervous headache." 

It appears that only about a third of 
those who took the examination at this 
time secured admission, and that scarcely 
one of the several American applicants, if 
any at all, was of the fortunate number. 

Mrs. Coe plunged at once into private 
lessons with Professor Barth. The rate 
at which she worked may be gathered 
from a note that recites the material that 
she traversed in the first eleven or twelve 
lessons. In addition to abundant technical 
studies, she had worked up Bach's G minor 
Fantasie ; Schubert's Impromptu, op. 142, 
no. 4 ; Henselt's Berceuse ; six of Bach's 
Inventions, and two Beethoven sonatas, 
op. 10, no. 2, and op. 14, no. 2. As it 
was her custom to play her pieces from 
memory the first time she appeared with 
them, it is not improbable that all the 
compositions in this list were memorized. 
[39] 



MEMOIR 

Of Professor Earth's courtesy and 
kindliness her notes repeatedly speak. 
Yet the severity of his methods is well 
known. It seems that he made a distinc 
tion between pupils. Those who pursued 
music simply as an accomplishment were 
handled with relative gentleness, but those 
who named professional aims, as she did, 
were given the tonic of harsh experience. 
Many were the tales of suffering told by 
his pupils. But for the fruits of this 
method, a well-established technic, Mrs. 
Coe never ceased to be grateful to her 
teacher. The details of this technic are, 
of course, beyond my ken, but I know 
that she learned how to play for any 
length of time without muscular weari 
ness, that the secret of this lies, in general, 
in the complete relaxation of each muscle 
except at the instant of using it, and 
that this method prevents the harshness of 
tone that characterized the old-fashioned 
technic of raised, hammer-like fingers and 
stiff wrist and arm. 

The second examination at the Hoch- 
schule went happily, and now, in addition 
to lessons with Barth, she was expected 
[40] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

to study history of music, theory, and 
ensemble playing. But she was already 
so far advanced in history that Professor 
Spitta excused her from that subject. 
She was promptly put into one of Pro 
fessor Succo's advanced classes in theory, 
and in Professor Bargiel's ensemble class 
she quickly gained recognition. The en 
semble lessons were, indeed, among the 
happiest of her experiences in the school. 

With Frau Steinmann, mother of Pro 
fessor Earth, and with Professor and Mrs. 
Succo, there sprung up a warm personal 
friendship. Professor Succo's interest in 
her began in appreciation of her work 
in theory, harmony, and composition, but 
it grew into appreciation of her whole 
personality. She became a glad guest at 
his home, and until his death it was her 
delight to send and receive letters and 
holiday tokens. 

How she revelled in concert and opera ! 
Von Biilow was then conductor of the 
Philharmonic Orchestra ; Joachim's quar 
tette and Earth's trio were offering the 
acme of chamber music ; the Royal Opera 
was brilliant, particularly in the Wagnerian 
[41] 



works. Her joy in them all was not less, 
but greater, because of the solid purpose 
with which she listened. The profound 
emotional effect that music produced upon 
her did not deter her from studying, even 
as she enjoyed. Both her notes and her 
remembered conversations testify to this, 
and here, it seems to me, is to be found 
the clue to the unusual breadth of musical 
interest and appreciation that she dis 
played in subsequent years. 

She was nearer right than the piano 
professor guessed when she said that in 
two or three weeks she thought she should 
understand German in her lessons. She 
was not unacquainted with the elements of 
the language when she first went abroad, 
and she continued to study it in the con 
ventional fashion after she reached Ger 
many. But her musical ear and her 
extraordinarily rapid perception enabled 
her to outstrip, in hearing and in speech, 
every other student of German known to 
me. She acquired the language as a child 
acquires it. This implies, of course, only 
gradual approximation to grammatical 
exactness, but meantime there was a re- 
[42] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

markably fluent use of the idiom. " Frau 
Coe, where did you learn that idiom ? " 
her German friends asked again and again, 
and the answer was that she had simply 
picked it up from conversations to which 
she had listened. 

So passed rapidly away her first season 
in Berlin. Witli the coming of summer, 
the mail brought me an unexpected call to 
Northwestern University. I had hoped 
to spend at least one year more in Ger 
many, but the proffered chair accorded so 
well with my desires that I said to Mrs. 
Coe, " I will go, but you must remain 
and finish your work. I will return each 
summer. " It was my own first thought, but 
my second thought and all my thoughts 
have approved that decision. Neither of 
us could have endured the separation for 
any light reason. But, assuming that each 
had an individual talent and an individual 
work to do, we knew that we could afford 
the personal cost of the best preparation 
that was available to either one. 

That summer, 1891, we spent together 
in a long tour of Germany. Upon my 
return the following summer we travelled 
[43] 



in Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, and in 
the summer of 1 893 we journeyed north 
ward to Denmark, Norway, the North 
Cape, Scotland, and England. The 
autumn of that year finds us together in 
Evanston with no more long separations 
except one before us. 

The second and third seasons in Berlin 
had been passed as agreeably as the cir 
cumstances permitted. In the Pension 
of Fraulein Kirstein she formed pleasant 
friendships, not least that of the Fraulein 
herself. Journeys to Paris and Dresden 
and study of the great art museums re 
lieved the routine of duty. After two 
seasons with Barth, she turned, for the 
sake of variety on the musical, as distin 
guished from the technical, side of playing, 
to Moritz Moskowski, who at that time 
resided in Berlin. She greatly enjoyed 
his teaching and many of his personal 
ways. One of her letters paints a picture 
of how, in the midst of a lesson, the barber 
was announced. Moskowski excused him 
self, was gone only a few minutes, and 
then returned with a fleck of lather on 
his ear ! When he was absent from town 
[44] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

on a concert tour, she took the oppor 
tunity to "widen her acquaintance with 
men and methods by studying for a while 
with Jedliczka, who was then just begin 
ning to acquire his fame as a teacher. 

Her letters, not only at this time, but 
from the first one that my eyes ever rested 
upon, had a concreteness, vivacity, and 
humor all their own. It was the artistic 
temperament, I doubt not, finding ex 
pression for itself in spite of the general 
decay of the fine art of letter-writing. 
Several years ago we held a consultation 
as to what should be done with our letters 
hers and mine of which there was 
a large accumulation. The consultation 
was occasioned by our reading the pub 
lished letters of Mr. and Mrs. Browning. 
Though we had no fear of attaining a like 
fame, we asked ourselves whether we were 
willing that anyone else should ever see 
that which we had written only for each 
other's eyes. Both masses of letters went 
into the furnace. 

In addition to the ordinary fruits of 
travel, she brings back to the home-land 
firm, well-rounded, independent musician- 
[45] 



MEMOIR 

ship. As far as I know, she never enter 
tained a hope of becoming a piano virtuoso. 
Her ambition had always been directed 
primarily toward teaching. But teaching 
meant very much more to her than " giv 
ing lessons." She held that a piano teacher 
should be, ordinarily, an artist if not a 
virtuoso, and her three years in Germany 
had equipped her for maintaining this 
standard. Her technical method was up 
to the most modern ideas, and her own ex 
ecution was brilliant. Her acquaintance 
with the. literature of music was wide, and 
in the analysis and interpretation of that 
literature she had both intellectual insight 
and sound musical sense. 

The student days are over, and now 
she determines to establish a private studio 
where she may work out her ideas un 
hampered by scholastic traditions or ad 
ministrative machinery. 1 

1 In fairness to Mrs. Coe it is necessary to say that 
throughout this story I am giving my own impressions, not 
her opinions. I have not sufficient knowledge of music to 
justify an attempt to reproduce her points of view, much 
as I would like to do it here and there. All that I can do is 
to paint the thing as I see it from my musically untechnical 
point of view. 

[46] 



EVANSTON 

1893-1905 



71 /IT Y own, see where the years conduct ! 
I ft At first 'twas something our two souls 
Should mix as mists do : each is sucked 
Into each now ; on, the new stream rolls, 
Whatever rocks obstruct. 

Think, when our one soul understands 

The great Word which makes all things new 

When earth breaks up and Heaven expands 
How will the change strike me and you 

In the House not made with hands ? 

Oh, I must feel your brain prompt mine, 

Your heart anticipate my heart, 
You must be just before, in fine, 

See and make me see, for your part, 
New depths of the Divine ! 

Robert Browning. 



IN spite of setbacks to health incident 
to the change to Evanston's stimulat 
ing climate, she was able, during her 
first season, that of 1893-94, to do consider 
able playing and to gather a larger class 
of pupils than one could have expected. 
Already a good basis was laid for financial 
success, and there was eveiy prospect that 
her enterprise would develop according to 
her hopes. 

But to carry out her plan of private 
work would have involved the diversion 
of patronage from the University School 
of Music, which was then small and weak 
and struggling against adverse conditions. 
She was asked to transfer her work to the 
School. My relation to the University 
gave force to strong persuasives that came 
from official circles. Reluctantly she con 
sented, sacrificing cherished plans rather 
than create complications of unknown 
degrees of discomfort to all concerned. 
[49] 



MEMOIR 

Her contribution to the upbuilding of a 
school of music in Evanston can be appre 
ciated only by one who understands what 
details of labor and sacrifice are demanded 
by any such enterprise. She carried 
into the School a good-sized class of 
pupils ; because the School lacked space, 
being then housed as an interloper in 
Woman's Hall, she taught her pupils in 
her own home for nearly three years with 
out compensation for rental ; she carried 
the name of the School into large circles 
through her outside activities ; she labored 
loyally, indefatigably, skilfully, with her 
pupils, in the recitals, and wherever there 
was opportunity to help build up the 
institution. 

Little or nothing had been done with 
history of music ; she took up the subject 
and made it a living, organic part of the 
course of study. At first she taught the 
subject for the love of it, receiving no 
compensation whatever. There was no 
musical library or any systematic plan 
for purchasing books on music for the 
general University library ; she assumed 
that care also, making up the purchasing- 
[50] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

lists from time to time, and securing 
the transfer to Music Hall of the works 
that were most in demand. The pov 
erty of musical periodicals she alleviated 
by regularly turning over some or all 
of her own. She helped on everything 
that made for broad policy and high 
standards. The string quartette in its 
long struggle for existence found in her a 
staunch supporter. She was the first to 
advocate the requirement of literary stand 
ards and studies in connection with music, 
and she never wavered in her allegiance to 
that principle. She stood against permit 
ting students to evade standards as defined 
in the published curriculum. She resisted 
the temptation (that comes, no doubt, to 
all struggling schools of this class) to ac 
commodate or administer standards in the 
interest of large student-lists and large 
financial returns. To stand thus in abso 
lute sincerity for one's art and for edu 
cational principle in schools of music that 
are entirely dependent upon income from 
tuition fees is never easy or without its 
cost. 

Her teaching met almost instant recog- 
[51] 



nition, and before long the lesson hours of 
pupils were encroaching upon her precious 
practice. Yet she found time not only 
to teach, but also to play, to read widely 
in musical history, biography, and criticism, 
to conduct musical courses for women's 
clubs, write lectures, give lecture-recitals, 
write for the press, and finally to compose. 
The amount of work that she turned off 
from 1894 on may fairly be called pro 
digious. It was a wonder to me day by 
day, and the wonder increases now that I 
contemplate the period as a whole. Often 
I feared for her health, but my attempted 
warnings were met by the stubborn fact 
of obvious and increasing robustness of 
health. From a girlhood and youth 
somewhat inclined to frailty, she rose in 
her mature womanhood to such abound 
ing vigor as one rarely sees, even in this 
era of healthy women. 

She was an instinctively good teacher. 
Exacting in the fundamentals of technic, 
yet always insisting that skill should be 
only a means for expressing an intelligent 
musical sense ; always going back from 
symptoms to causes, and forward from 
[52] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

principles to rules and methods ; unweary- 
ingly fond of young life and of seeing it 
grow ; consulting her pupils' interests first 
and her own last, and never failing to see 
that genuine accomplishments must have 
their root in a worthy personality and bear 
fruit in the enlargement of true life she 
was far removed from everything merely 
perfunctory, mechanical, or narrowly pro 
fessional. Again and again she remarked 
that such or such a pupil could play if she 
only had personality, or moral earnestness, 
or life-experience enough. Thus it was 
that she took an interest in the whole life- 
course of her pupils, and not merely in 
their music ; thus it was that she became 
a vitalizing force in their personality. She 
never shrank from being known as a severe 
teacher, however, for she knew the cost of 
genuine success and how alone strong 
personality is attained. A part of her 
reward she was able to enjoy as she went 
along. She saw an unusual number of 
her pupils blossom into able players ; she 
felt the love of a great number of sincere 
hearts ; best of all, she saw character un 
fold through music study. Some of the 
[53] ' 



MEMOIR 

parents of her pupils saw what was happen 
ing. One of her last joys on earth was to 
receive from such a parent a letter filled 
with appreciation of this broad educational 
effect of her work. 

The freshness of her teaching was due, 
in a measure, to her lifelong habit of 
searching for new material. She was not 
satisfied with any stereotyped series of 
student pieces and programmes. I believe 
that it is not too much to say that she was 
acquainted with the whole vast range of 
serious compositions for the piano, and 
that she kept fully abreast of new works 
in this field by indefatigable search. 

Students who were struggling with the 
problem of meagre resources, whether they 
were her own pupils or not, found practi 
cal sympathy. She obtained opportunities 
for employment for them, and there was 
rarely, if ever, a year that she did not carry 
at least one free pupil on her teaching-list. 
This continued even after she began to be 
paid a fixed salary ; it was not the School, 
but the teacher upon whom the cost of 
free lessons fell. Into the struggles of 
these young persons she entered with a 
[54] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

royal heart. One of them writes, " I have 
lost the best friend I shall ever have." 

Her playing during these years showed 
both an increasing range of musical feeling 
and a maturing control of the means of 
expression. There was a time when play 
ing consisted in the neat, rippling, velvety 
rendition of pieces, but she transcended 
this when, partly through the broadening 
of her technic, but largely through a study 
of Wagner that started in Germany and 
continued to the end, she came to realize 
the deep relation of music to life. Inci 
dentally, the attitude toward Wagner 
manifested in the School of Music now as 
compared with the attitude ten or twelve 
years ago is worthy of comment. Then 
Mrs. Coe was alone in recognizing the 
great significance of Wagner's work ; to 
day all that she then contended for is 
assumed as a matter of course. The influ 
ence of the Wagnerian movement upon 
her was profound. It changed her whole 
musical horizon and opened a new world 
of musical realities. I base this statement 
solely on my own observation of her de 
velopment, for, as far as I know, she never 
[55] 



MEMOIR 

attempted a self-analysis. I cannot better 
describe my impression than by saying 
that music became for her more and more 
an essentially dramatic expression of hu 
man feeling. It took on more of movement 
and action, and it strove for organization 
and unity and climax. 

This, I think, is the explanation of her 
tendency away from the more conven 
tional " pieces " toward ensemble playing 
and toward the relatively free compositions 
of the modern schools. Without losing 
appreciation for the classically regular 
forms, she took an absorbing interest in 
other types. She was the means of intro 
ducing not a few fresh works, some of 
them heard here for the first time in the 
West. One of her note-books contains 
the following quotation, which seems to 
give a clue to her own thought : " Music 
is pre-eminently the art of the nineteenth 
century because it is in a supreme manner 
responsive to the emotional wants, the 
mixed aspirations, and the passionate self- 
consciousness of the age." 

This growth in the meaning of music 
was reflected in her playing. The dra- 
[56] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

matic sense of which I have spoken put 
into her interpretations intense lights and 
shadows too intense for some eyes, per 
haps, yet always what the eyes of her 
own brilliant imagination really saw in 
the composition. It made correspond 
ingly heavy demands of a technical sort. 
The minute and patient care with which 
she worked up every little detail of a com 
position, and then put all the parts to 
gether into an organic whole, is a part of 
the explanation of a certain mastery of the 
instrument that was often commented 
upon. To me, and in some measure to 
her, there was a pathetic side to all this 
because of the merely temporal character 
of executive musical art. To spend weeks, 
sometimes months, in rounding off one's 
execution of a composition, and then, 
after a public appearance or two, to have 
nothing to show for the work this is 
the musician's fate. The waves of the 
ocean will go on rolling, but where are 
the waves of yesterday? 

Her catholicity of taste, her feeling for 
the human life-forces in music, gave vital 
ity to her history-teaching. The history of 
[57] 



MEMOIR 

music was to her, not a set of dry annals, 
but an entering into the enjoyment of 
music in all its stages and forms. Every 
thing was concrete, and in a sense modern. 
By song, by instrumental rendition, by 
the exhibition of instruments, by charts 
and pictures and story, the wealth of her 
imagination was conveyed to her hearers. 
No wonder that her course grew in popu 
larity, had to be extended, and was finally 
supplemented by a second course. 

The culminating point each year, and 
one of her favorite subjects for lecture- 
recitals, was the Wagner operas and music 
dramas, which she analyzed from the score. 
Upon these she lavished labor year after 
year, never ceasing to work out new 
points and to read the new literature of 
the subject. And this is only typical of 
the enthusiasm with which she ransacked 
many a phase . of music history. The 
manuscript notes of her lectures, besides 
treating of various periods and composers, 
the various musical forms and instruments, 
and the analysis of Wagner's works, in 
clude several special topics, such as " Pro 
gramme Music, or Music as a Language/' 
[58] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

" Colonial Music in America and Amer 
ica's National Songs," " Primitive Music," 
and " Music of the American Indians." 
The large attention that she ultimately 
gave to Indian music grew directly out of 
a general historical interest. She delved 
into the music of the Asiatic peoples and 
the African tribes also, but no early music 
attracted her as did that of our American 
aborigines. 

It was natural that her enthusiasm for 
music as culture-material should far over 
step the bounds of the School of Music. 
Soon after her return from Germany she 
gave a short series of lecture-recitals at 
several hospitable homes. Later the 
Evanston Orchestral Club engaged her 
for a course on Wagner and the Music 
Dramas. Then she took the lead in the 
music work of the Evanston Woman's 
Club for four seasons. During the season 
of 1898-99 she gave a course of illustrated 
lectures on selected topics. The follow 
ing season she organized a series of studies 
and programmes on " Woman in Composi 
tion." The third series was "American 
Composers," and the fourth season wit- 
[59] 



MEMOIR 

nessed an extended study of the periods 
of musical history. For the various pro 
grammes, besides frequently participating 
herself, she secured speakers, singers, and 
players, and in many cases she went for 
material directly to the composer con 
cerned. That every programme was 
carried out without a hitch is due to her 
unlimited capacity for detail. What this 
implies no one can understand who has 
not tried to carry through some correspond 
ing scheme of popular culture. As to the 
broadly cultural influence of such activ 
ities, one of our foremost American com 
posers said, " I do not hesitate to give my 
belief that the most efficient factor for 
music in America now is just that done 
by those clubs, chiefly, naturally, in the 
Middle West, although there has been a 
surprising and healthful growth in the 
same direction about here." 

These and other successes led to an 
appointment for two years as chairman 
of the music department of the Illinois 
Federation of Women's Clubs. At the 
annual meeting of this association at 
Decatur in 1901 she gave an illustrated 
[60] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

lecture-recital on " The Music of the 
American Indians." She also took steps 
toward a scheme for popular musical cul 
ture by means of travelling libraries. Two 
or three such libraries were actually gotten 
together with funds contributed by a lady 
of means, but for some reason the circula 
tion of them (which was not in Mrs. Coe's 
hands) lagged and was finally given up. 

Two courses of Wagner lecture-recitals 
were given before the Rogers Park 
Woman's Club. At the Chicago South 
Side Club, Wilmette, Edgewater, Cham 
paign, Canton, San Francisco, single 
lecture-recitals were given. This is not 
a complete list, but it is sufficient to 
indicate the growth of her influence. The 
response to her lecture-recitals was un 
equivocally hearty. The reason was that 
she had a real message, that her spirit was 
that of sharing with others the treasures 
that she had found, and that she was able 
to present a rich body of material with 
extraordinary clearness. 

The lucidity with which she wrote and 
spoke was no happy accident of expression ; 
it was the outshining of a penetrating and 
[61] 



MEMOIR 

orderly intellect. In her case fulness of 
feeling and of intuition were no obstacle 
to intellectuality. To whatever subject 
she turned her attention, whether music, 
or business, or religion, or domestic econ 
omy, she exhibited a keenness of analysis 
that was ever a fresh wonder to me. Time 
and again I have been almost envious of 
her ability to see to the heart of a problem 
at a glance, and to discover fresh foci for 
the rational organization of facts. This 
was rarely a jumping at conclusions ; it 
was rational insight. In criticism she was 
sharp as a Toledo blade, yet her predom 
inant tendency was nevertheless affirma 
tive and constructive. All this appeared 
in her musical work as a habit of seizing 
upon the salient point and gathering about 
it fact and illustration and exposition until 
what she wished to teach seemed almost 
self-evident. 

Her imagination was exceedingly fertile. 
Now and then there bubbled forth in the 
presence of her intimate friends such ex 
quisite mimicry as made one wonder what 
would have happened if her attention had 
been turned to the stage instead of the 
[62] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

piano. She constructed plots for novels 
that, if her powers had matured in that 
direction, might well have brought her 
fame as an author. For several years she 
dreamed of a future when she should be 
able to express in literary or musical form 
what she felt within her. It was doubt 
less the manifold demands of her imme 
diate situation that postponed for a long 
time the exercise of a talent for composi 
tion which Professor Succo had clearly 
recognized. Sooner or later, it is safe to 
say, her exuberant imagination was certain 
to express itself in original work. 

The " Melodrama of Hiawatha " was a 
preliminary and partial utterance of this 
inner wealth. The subject and the form 
are easily accounted for. On a number of 
occasions in different states she had played 
the piano part of Richard Strauss' melo 
drama of " Enoch Arden," the lines being 
rendered by Mrs. Isabel Garghill Beecher. 
This started Mrs. Coe's interest in the 
melodrama as a mode of musical expres 
sion. She procured various compositions 
of the sort, and one of them, " Bergliot," 
the beautifully tragic composition by 
[63] 



MEMOIR 

Grieg, with words by Bjornsen, was given 
before the University Union, with Pro 
fessor J. Scott Clark as reader. Mean 
time her studies of primitive music had 
made her acquainted with the entire cycle 
of American Indian melodies collected by 
Mr. J. C. Fillmore, Miss Alice C. Fletcher, 
and others. For years, also, she had fol 
lowed the discussions as to the possibility 
of a distinctively American music based 
on folk-material, whether Negro, Indian, 
or other. She was actively interested in 
the work of Mr. Arthur Farwell and the 
Wa-Wan Press, and in every effort to 
make use of the Indian melodies. Rarely 
did these melodies seem to her to be 
developed in the spirit of the life-types 
out of which they sprung. The melo 
dramatic form, however, with a story of 
Indian life as text, and with Indian 
melodies as the basis of the music, seemed 
to be worth trying. 

She turned to Longfellow's " Song of 
Hiawatha " for such a story, and by weav 
ing together the parts that deal with 
the childhood, youth, and courtship of 
Hiawatha, and with the death of Minne- 
[64] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

haha, she was able to secure movement 
and unity, with adequate emotional con 
trasts, and with a true climax for the 
whole. From her collection of Indian 
material she sifted out a set of melodies 
that had, in their original use, substantially 
the same emotional value as the various 
personages and events of the story. A 
Cherokee cradle song fitted the infancy 
of Hiawatha, an Omaha warrior song his 
manhood. A war-dance served the cele 
bration when he killed his first deer. 
There was a love-song for the courtship, 
a ghost-dance for the famine, and so on 
through the list of a dozen themes. 
For Minnehaha, however, no appropriate 
theme could be found. Indian song cel 
ebrates war and warriors, it celebrates 
love, but apparently it does not celebrate 
woman. The Minnehaha theme, accord 
ingly originated with Mrs. Coe. 

When she came to develop this material, 
she sought by all means to preserve a true 
sense of every situation. So she retained 
the peculiar Indian rhythms, accenting 
them in the bass as the drum accents 
them in Indian song, and she deliberately 
[65] 



MEMOIR 

restrained the impulse to complex develop 
ments of the themes. She believed that 
relatively simple elaboration, even with 
considerable repetition, was more conso 
nant with her purpose to represent simple, 
primitive emotions. Of course these emo 
tions are idealized in the poem and in the 
musical setting ; they take on a broadly 
human aspect ; but is not the discovery 
of the universally human in a particular 
time or people the truest discovery of 
what that time or people really is ? 

After several months of work upon the 
melodrama, a first draught of the manu 
script was completed near the end of June, 
1903. Mrs. Coe regarded the undertak 
ing at this stage as entirely experimental 
and problematical. She was encouraged, 
however, by the impressions of friends for 
whom she played the piano part, and later 
by a preliminary trial of the entire work 
with Mrs. Isabel Garghill Beecher, who 
met Mrs. Coe in Cambridge for this pur 
pose, and to whom the published work 
was afterward dedicated. After slight 
rehearsing, Mrs. Coe and Mrs. Beecher 
rendered the melodrama before Miss Alice 
[66] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

Longfellow, daughter of the poet, and 
before Mr. Arthur Foote, for whose 
musical judgment Mrs. Coe was most 
desirous. His approval and encourage 
ment of a work so opposed in method to 
his own compositions finally gave her 
courage to decide upon making the melo 
drama public. 

With Mrs. Coe at the piano and Miss 
May Neal as reader, it was first presented 
before the Evanston Woman's Club, No 
vember 3, 1903. On December 11 they 
presented it before the University Union 
and a number of invited guests at the 
residence of Prof. J. Scott Clark. On the 
twenty-seventh of the following February, 
the anniversary of Longfellow's birth, they 
rendered it in the afternoon before some 
hundreds of school children at Music Hall, 
and in the evening before a crowded public 
audience at the home of Mr. and Mrs. 
James A. Patten. These two recitals 
were under the auspices of the students' 
lecture committee. Subsequent perform 
ances, with Mrs. Lida Scott Brown as 
reader, were as follows : Ravenswood, 
March 7, 1904 ; Rogers Park, March 29 ; 
[67] 



MEMOIR 

Wilmette, October 5 all these under 
the auspices of women's clubs ; Artists' 
Recital at the School of Music, February 
16, 1905. An engagement was secured 
to give it in the great auditorium at 
Chautauqua, N. Y., in the summer of 1904, 
but an attack of insomnia compelled Mrs. 
Coe to cancel all engagements for that 



summer. 1 



A heartier response than the " Hia 
watha " received from its audiences could 
not well be imagined. After allowing for 
the disposition to pay a compliment to the 
composer, or merely to admire a clever 
piece of work, one saw too many signs of 
emotion to permit a doubt that the deeps 
had been stirred in a manner out of the 
usual. The auditors saw in the poem 
what they had never seen before; they 
felt in the story depths of human meaning 
that reading and hearing it without the 
music had never revealed. The musical 
setting had proved its power. This was 
true with every audience of adults. How 

1 This was a great disappointment to her, because it pre 
vented the wider hearing of the " Hiawatha," which she 
greatly desired, and a similar wider hearing for six lecture- 
recitals that were included in the Chautauqua engagement. 

[68] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

far the school children entered into this 
spirit Mrs. Coe was uncertain. She had 
hoped to make the composition a useful 
adjunct to the teaching of American 
history and literature in the schools, but 
she never had adequate opportunity to 
satisfy her own mind as to the feasibility 
of this project. Whether childhood, which 
takes such delight in the Hiawatha of 
story and picture, could take in also the 
emotional meaning of the music remained 
an unsolved problem. 

The cordiality with which the melo 
drama was received in her home city, and 
the growing interest that was there mani 
fested in its successive presentations, con 
stituted one of the greatest satisfactions 
of her entire professional career. For 
once a prophet received honor in his own 
country. The climax was reached in the 
rendition at the School of Music, when 
the hall was overfilled and many scores 
of would-be auditors had to be turned 
away. This was her last appearance 
before a public audience. 

A few of her friends know how her soul 
found an outlet in this work. She felt 
[69] 



MEMOIR 

intensely every incident ; there was not a 
line or a phrase to which her imagination 
did not add light and life. The closing 
scene, which is the climax of the whole, 
Hiawatha's declaration of faith, 

" Soon my task will be completed, 
Soon your footsteps I shall follow 
To the Islands of the Blessed, 
To the Kingdom of Ponemah, 
To the Land of the Hereafter ! " 

was her own religious self-expression. She 
felt the pain of the famine and the fever, 
the sorrow of the bereft husband-lover, 
but she felt most of all the grand sweep 
of faith which she put into the magnificent 
closing chords. 

During this period of renditions from 
the manuscript she continued to revise the 
composition until at last she felt that it 
was ready for publication. It was issued 
from the press of the Clayton F. Summy 
Company early in August, 1905. Just 
before the long shadows fell upon her 
earthly life, she had the great pleasure 
of seeing it in this, its final and completed 
form. What its future is to be is a matter 
of surmise. But in any case, whether the 
[70] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

melodrama is to live in a large or a narrow 
place, it has already justified its existence 
as an expression of her own self and as an 
awakener of noble sentiment in others. 

All that I have now described of her 
Evanston career was crowded into a period 
of less than twelve years. The high plane 
of her interests, and the range, amount, and 
uniform thoroughness of her activities are 
an index of splendid talent. It did not go 
altogether without recognition. In 1901 
her official rank in the School of Music 
was advanced from that of instructor to 
that of professor, her chair being desig 
nated as Piano and Musical History. 1 
She could not be unaware of the cordiality 
with which her playing, her lecture-recitals, 
and her other enterprises were received. 
The love of her old pupils, and the grati 
tude of many other persons, especially in 
women's clubs, to whom she had opened 

1 The tangible rewards were always moderate. For six 
years her compensation from the School of Music, which 
amounted to two-thirds of the tuition fees of her pupils, 
ranged from a little less than $1500 a year to almost $1850. 
During the last five years she received a fixed salary, the 
maximum of which was, in round numbers, $1925. Her 
outside engagements added something to her income each 
year, but never much beyond $200. 



MEMOIR 

new vistas into the world of tonal beauty, 
gave her exquisite pleasure. 

Yet few persons, if any, have been in a 
position to understand and estimate her 
work as a whole. Even now it would be 
hard to say how much she contributed to 
the uplift of individual life through music 
in the case of her hundreds of pupils ; to 
the development of a worthy school of 
music ; to the spread of sound methods 
and ideals through pupils who have become 
teachers ; to the broadening and populariz 
ing of musical culture in Evanston and 
the Middle West ; and, through the still 
problematical career of the " Melodrama 
of Hiawatha," to the aesthetic pleasure of 
a yet wider public. But it is easy to see 
that she had a mission, and that she accom 
plished that whereunto she was sent. 

The comfortable ease of those who shine 
by reflected light, or of those who traverse 
a prescribed orbit, was not for her. Her 
talent was too conspicuous, and she had 
too keen a conscience for the quality of 
her work and the obligations of her station. 
She bore her share of the pains by which 
alone ideal standards are kept out of the 
[72] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

dust. They were the pains of a large and 
generous nature, though one endowed, as 
only such natures can be, with the finest 
sense of justice. Never seeking any pro 
fessional consideration on the ground of 
her sex, she nevertheless encountered a few 
a very few male musicians who were 
unable to reach a similar professional 
standard. Of the sorrows of Art in a 
commercial age, with its individualism and 
its blind worship of mechanical process, 
she had inevitably to learn. What fell to 
her to bear as an individual she accepted 
with patience and with the magnanimity 
that overlooks everything except to do 
good to all. Yet she had the courage 
never to compromise her art, and when, 
for example, a mechanical device com 
manded her to surrender the proper func 
tions of a teacher, she never for an instant 
flinched. 

Though she was self-sacrificingly loyal 
to the School of Music, her original ideal 
of teaching under conditions that would 
permit the free outworking of her concep 
tions never lost its attractiveness. One 
event after another carried her mind back 
[73] 



MEMOIR 

to the old hope. It is not improper for 
me to confess that for several years nothing 
but considerations growing out of my own 
relation to the University prevented her 
from returning to her original plan. These 
considerations I never pressed upon her ; 
indeed, they seemed much less serious to 
me than they did to her. But at last the 
time for such action seemed ripe, and in 
the spring of 1905, against the protest of 
the head of the School, she insisted upon 
being released in the following June. 

For several years students of the College 
of Liberal Arts had been permitted to 
attend her classes in the history of music 
and to obtain college credit therefor. 1 In 
order that this privilege might be continued 
and extended, the trustees now appointed 
Mrs. Coe as Lecturer on Musical JEs- 
thetics in the College of Liberal Arts. 
The duties of her new position were to 
give a two-hour course, abundantly illus 
trated, and the compensation was to be 
$500 a year. This appointment gave her 

1 On one occasion two college students entered her class 
under the impression that it was a " snap." Their amaze 
ment when they found that they had " flunked " was one of 
the humors of a conscientious teacher's life. 

[74] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

great satisfaction on many accounts, not 
least of which was the fact that it was 
made with a full understanding that she 
was to be free to carry on her piano work 
in such manner as she saw fit. 

Plans for the new enterprise were im 
mediately begun. A partnership was 
formed with Miss Tina Mae Haines, the 
well-known organist and teacher, tempo 
rary quarters were rented, and many de 
tails were worked out. A year's leave of 
absence having been granted to me, Mrs. 
Coe and I determined to spend the year 
1905-06 in Europe. There she intended 
to get into touch with various teachers and 
institutions for a study of present-day 
movements in music and music-teaching. 
She had also designs, of which I shall 
presently speak, for further publishing. 
Meantime students in encouraging num 
bers announced their intention of entering 
her classes upon her return. There was 
every indication that within a relatively 
short time a high-grade private school 
would be in thrifty operation. 

What time would have brought in the 
way of original work if life and health had 
[75] 



MEMOIR 

been continued can only be guessed with 
more or less approximation to probability. 
She had distinctly formulated, even to 
many details, plans for two publications 
which it is easy to think that she would 
have carried to a successful issue. The 
first was to be a monograph on " Wagner's 
Heroines." She had already gone far into 
the literature of this subject, and she had 
given one or two lecture-recitals upon it. 
Her purpose, as I gathered it from her 
conversation, was not only to work out 
a group of interesting studies in person 
ality, but also to make these studies a 
new mode of approach to Wagner's whole 
philosophy of life and art. This study, 
which was not expected to result in a 
large volume, she hoped to have well 
along toward publication before her re 
turn from Europe. 

The other project was nothing less am 
bitious than an opera. The plot was to 
be based upon the present relations be 
tween the American Indian and our 
Caucasian civilization ; the music was to 
be in part a development of Indian ma 
terial. Off and on for perhaps three 
[76] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

years she had talked of the structure of 
the plot. The scene was to shift from 
an Indian reservation to one of the oldest 
seats of American culture, and back again ; 
the hero was to be a young Indian for 
whom a life-tragedy was to grow out of 
an inner conflict between the two stages 
of culture which he should experience 
within himself. It is needless to mention 
details of the story. They were so far 
wrought out in her conception that the 
whole seems now as if I had read it in 
completed form. As far as either of us 
ever learned, this plan is unique. It cer 
tainly appears to offer extraordinary op 
portunity for fresh dramatic and musical 
effects. 

I have spoken thus far of her profes 
sional doings and plannings. They truly 
reveal her, yet only in part, and how 
inadequately ! Now that the end of this 
narrative is in sight, I realize that what 
I most desire to tell will remain unsaid ; 
the greatest thing that she was and the 
greatest thing that she did consist in 
something that no one could learn except 
by being continually in her presence. 
[77] 



MEMOIR 

Only a few hints of her more personal 
and private life may be set down ; the 
rest must abide where it is already lodged 
in the hearts of the few who entered the 
inner sanctuary. 

The first year of our residence in Evans- 
ton we lived in rooms, and then once 
more we had a home. During the summer 
of 1894 we built, and when college opened 
we had a house and a debt, but little 
more ! She felt the burden of being in 
debt even more than I did, and the 
economies that she practised are as great 
a marvel to me now as they were then. 
But no sacrifice seemed too great if we 
could only have a nest of our very own. 
This was her foremost feeling. But she 
needed also a music-room she needed 
a larger and better one than our means 
could buy ; but by adopting a radical 
building plan (her own conception), we 
were able to utilize the floor space so as 
to seat, on some occasions, as many as a 
hundred persons. 

Another motive also underlay this plan : 
we desired to make our home useful to 
the students. I had a feeling, which she 
[78] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

heartily shared, that something could be 
done for the religious and moral life by 
providing one open home for students 
on Sunday afternoons during the indoor- 
period of winter. The music-room was 
religiously consecrated to this purpose, 
and when the meetings began she threw 
herself into the enterprise with all her 
heart. To her was due, in very large 
measure, the social atmosphere that made 
our conversazioni, as we have had reason 
to know, occasions of heart-warming as 
well as of moral reflectiveness. After 
two seasons the conversazioni were super 
seded by a regular Sunday mass-meeting, 
in some of the University's halls, addressed 
by prominent speakers. But our home 
never ceased to seem to her to be a gift 
in trust for others, and it was her pleasure 
frequently to invite larger or smaller 
groups of students of the College or 
the School of Music, or both, to spend 
an evening around our fire, or to dine 
with us. This was most often the case 
at the Thanksgiving and holiday seasons. 
Again and again the house was opened 
for all who chose to come. Her planning 
[79] 



MEMOIR 

for these occasions was minute, and her 
pleasure in the happiness of our guests 
was as deep as it was unselfish. 

Many musical recitals which w r ere in 
tended for our home, and would have 
been given there if she had gone on with 
private teaching, were transferred to the 
School of Music. Yet the music-room 
witnessed a varied series of musical events. 
One of the last of them, and possibly the 
most pleasurable of all to her, was a re 
ception in honor of Mr. Arthur Foote, 
who was gracious enough to render several 
of his own compositions. 

Here she practised, studied, wrote, 
composed ; and here, as nowhere else ex 
cept in the homes of two or three of our 
friends, music became for her a free self- 
disclosure, like conversation. For me, 
and I think for some of our friends, music 
here acquired meanings rich and varied, 
meanings that entered into life as a part 
of it, even though the analytical aspects 
that were an open book to her were 
only dimly apprehended by us. The 
hunger of my ear these days apprises me 
how life came to be lived in tone, and 
[80] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

how thereby life was raised to a higher 
plane. 

Not too rapidly, but surely, she found 
true friends of her mind and heart fire 
side friends who understood her, rainy- 
day friends who lined all her clouds with 
silver to whom she clung with passion 
ate loyalty to the day of her death. Ex 
tremely sensitive to the attitudes of others 
toward her, having the keenest insight 
(commonly called intuitive) into the 
minds of others, blessed with intense likes 
and dislikes, she yet had the self-control 
that makes enemies few, and the warmth 
of loyalty that preserves friendships once 
made. Though she enjoyed general 
society, and was not unadapted to its de 
mands, her growing professional work grad 
ually decreased the frequency with which 
she participated in large social functions. 
But all the more she "grappled to the soul" 
a group of friends whose affection she had 
proved. Our home on University Place 
came to be linked by indissoluble bonds 
with other homes, here and there, and 
thus to its other eternal sanctities was 
added that of friendships that cannot die. 
[81] 



MEMOIR 

It was often asked how she could carry 
on her professional pursuits and still be 
the good housekeeper that everything 
about our home proved her to be. How 
could she keep everything so clean, orderly, 
tasteful ; how could she make so much 
of the little with which we had to do ; 
what kept the household machinery so 
regular and free from friction ? Precisely 
the executive qualities that made her pro 
fessional work so effective a comprehen 
sive and orderly mind, attention to detail, 
quick perception, courage to put well- 
defined responsibilities upon others and 
then take her own hands off; above all 
a spirit of fairness and dignified sympathy 
that enabled her to keep her hired helpers 
year after year and to entrust to them 
almost the whole routine of household 
management. She brought out the best 
in a servant very much as she did in her 
pupils, by a faith that stimulated to one's 
best, and tolerance of the defects of 
one's best. 

She was a home-maker ! It is fitting 
that I, who have said so much of her 
music, should praise also the skilled 
[82] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

housewifery of which I have enjoyed the 
blessings these many years. In 1900, 
without her suspecting my intention, I 
dedicated my first book to her in the 
words of Lowell : 

" 'T was nothing that I can phrase, 
But the whole dumb dwelling grew conscious, 
And put on her looks and ways." 

The first copy that came from the press 
was specially bound for her, and therein 
she found a hint of how she herself and 
our home had gone into all my work. I 
cannot now think of better words in which 
to tell what our home has been like, but 
the source of them, " The Dead House," 
assumes a new meaning. 

She was fond of literature, and it was 
a custom of ours to read aloud to each 
other. In this way we traversed together 
not a little poetry, essays, fiction, and 
biography. In current fiction she read 
more widely than I, and then she per 
mitted me to see, through her eyes, some 
of the ongoings of the literary world. 

Not less did she love nature. The 
Vogelweide, as she christened that home 
of meadow-larks, the field opposite the 
[83] 



MEMOIR 

north campus ; the lake shore ; the woods 
to the north, with their spring flowers ; 
the mountains that we visited in summer 
- all brought her a message. In connec 
tion with our annual vacation-visit to her 
people (omitted by her only twice, when 
we visited the White Mountains and some 
of the Wisconsin lakes), we found oppor 
tunities for outings in the forests and 
mountains of the wondrous West. In 
Colorado, in the Lake Tahoe region of 
the Sierra Nevada, in the Shasta region, 
at Los Gatos and Pacific Grove, in the 
forests of Oregon, in the Canadian Rockies, 
she found healing of the spirit and deep 
joy. After gazing in rapt absorption at 
some mountain landscape, she would turn 
and say, " The annoyances of life are not 
as large as they seem, after all." In the 
summer of 1904, while she was at Ala- 
meda, she suffered from an obstinate at 
tack of insomnia, the only incident of the 
kind in her life. After all skilled treat 
ment failed, we fled to the Sierra Nevada. 
We knew that high altitudes are not 
ordinarily prescribed for insomnia, but 
we had faith that the mental effect of 
[84] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

mountain scenery would more than 
counterbalance the tendency to nerve- 
stimulation. Tenting in a great canon, 
with mighty crags and peaks around her, 
with wildflowers rioting at her feet, and 
a clear-voiced brooklet singing to her of 
sleep, she found rest. Of all that we 
read together at that time she enjoyed 
most of all the stately references to 
mountains that we found in the Bible 
the mountains that are round about 
Jerusalem, the mountains toward which 
the Psalmist lifted up his eyes, and all 
the others. From that time these were 
among her favorite passages in the Bible. 
As the years wore on her delight in simple, 
close contact with nature increased. She 
acquired a fondness for tenting that made 
a hotel room seem stale and confining. 
Her tramps in the mountains grew longer. 
No one could enter with more child-like 
zest into the joys of camp-fires at night, 
and fishing excursions by day, with their 
epicurean cooking at luncheon-time. She 
was beginning to learn the gentle art of 
fly-casting for trout. 

Her conversations and letters were 
[85] 



MEMOIR 

lighted up by a rich humor. No one 
enjoyed a good story more than she did, 
and few persons whom I have known 
could tell a story as well. She had a 
fund of anecdotes, and whatever she 
touched, whether it was one of the com 
mon details of life or one of its larger 
problems, she was always likely to discover 
a humorous angle of vision. 

On the other hand, nothing was more 
characteristic than a certain deep con 
scientiousness that compelled her to meet 
all the events of life on a plane of moral 
earnestness. Impulsive she was, splen 
didly so. She would take in a situation 
in a flash, and her great heart would surge 
with admiration or wrath, with indigna 
tion or pity, with disappointment or hope ; 
but from girlhood her training had tended 
to the postponement of action until the 
second thought came. That thought was 
sure to be one of kindness, one in which 
her responsibility was taken seriously. 
Duplicity and insincerity she could not 
abide, and these are the only faults 
toward which she was uncompromisingly 
severe. She was herself the heart of 
[86] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

honor and discretion. She could keep 
a secret, and she carried locked fast to 
the end many a dangerous confidence. 
I have already referred to a keen sense 
of justice that was only the obverse side 
of a large generosity. She was not only 
too just to invade the rights of others 
herself; she was too just to hold a grudge, 
and the meanest person with whom she 
ever had to do could count on her help 
if he were unjustly attacked. 

Her predominant attitude toward life 
was a constructive one. It was the atti 
tude of religion as a practical purpose and 
activity. I believe that I am the only 
person to whom she ever fully confided 
the facts of her religious development in 
her mature years. They are full of in 
terest, for in her own decidedly individual 
way she experienced the whole stress of 
present-day religious reconstruction. She 
was profoundly unsatisfied by conventional 
modes of church life, by forms of public 
worship, by much of that which gives it 
self forth as the way of life. She thirsted 
for a reality that she did not always ex 
perience in what was offered to her. For 
[87] 



MEMOIR 

a time she questioned much. With the 
exception of the future life, of which 
she never doubted, all the essentials of 
Christian belief went at one time or an 
other into the crucible. The doubt arose 
invariably out of an immediate practical 
issue, never out of analysis of historical 
doctrines. For such analysis she had no 
taste. Nevertheless, her doubt usually 
culminated precisely where the theological 
difficulties of our day have been most in 
tense. With a flash of wit, or in a word 
of twilight musing, she would lay open 
a commonplace fact so as to show at its 
core the characteristic issues of our age. 
I remember coming home from church 
one Sunday silently revolving in my mind 
certain high philosophical considerations 
relating to the sermon that we had just 
listened to, when she suddenly broke out 
with a remark on life as it actually is that 
in a sentence projected the whole problem 
and the whole drift of the sermon before 
the mind. 

It was fascinating to witness these 
insight-flashes of a mind utterly unversed 
in theological lore and method. They 
[88] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

were absolutely fearless. She dared to 
face the worst possibilities, though for 
her, with her vigorous sense of life, the 
values at stake were the greatest. 

Little by little, with occasional periods 
of depression, she regained a constructive 
position. To say how she won it would 
be to write a history of our own times. 
Partly through nature came the larger 
hope, but more through a growing realiza 
tion of the laws of life as she experienced 
them in her efforts to make life more 
ideal. Time and again she would sum 
up a series of events with the remark 
that, after all, this or that principle that 
Jesus taught is the only one that really 
works. Without philosophizing about it, 
she seemed to reach a realization that the 
highest in our human life may safely be 
taken as an index of what lies above and 
underneath our life. In particular, her 
own perennial impulse to communicate 
ideal values to other lives seemed to gather 
strength to reach up through the clouds 
to its source in God. Certain it is that 
her daily work became in a fully conscious 
way the service of God. She responded, 
[89] 



MEMOIR 

how thankfully, to sermons that illumi 
nated the daily life with hope and faith 
and love. All sincere religion appealed 
to her, whether or not she could adopt 
its modes of expression. For her, re 
ligious expression in words was almost 
impossible, but helpful conduct toward 
others, particularly in everyday relations, 
took the place of words. She lived out 
this spirit in her home, and toward any 
who needed her there went out sympathy 
and cheer and help. Thus, after a time, 
she realized a reconstructed faith. All 
the values of her girlhood religion with 
stood the crucible and came out as gold 
tried in the fire ; and when a new and 
final test, which many regard as the most 
severe of all, met her, her faith shone, as 
we shall see, with undimmed lustre. 

Of her glorious capacity for affection, 
how can I speak without profanation, yet 
how can I be silent? All the prismatic 
rays of a brilliant mind and an ardent 
temperament focussed in her heart-life. 
Impetuous as the magnetic needle when 
it seeks its pole, and not less constant, 
was her affection. In her home, as no- 
[90] 





SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

where else, the wealth of her personality 
spent itself forth as California's summer 
sun glows down upon the mountains. It 
was such a self-giving and self-forgetting 
as makes credible the love of God wherein 
all meaning is. The object upon which 
such affection is lavished can never hence 
forth become poor. Time and death and 
eternity have found their meaning for 
him, and that meaning is good. Death 
cannot rob him, because the love that 
makes separation so tragic is itself the 
realization of things hoped for, the evi 
dence of things not seen. The very in 
tensity of the suffering is evidence that 
death is swallowed up in victory. 



[91] 



ALAMEDA 

July -August, 1905 



I 



'S this the end of all my care ? 



Is this the end ? Is this the end ? 

Alfred Tennyson. 

f Iff HA T is excellent, 

fry As God lives, is permanent ; 

Hearts are dust, heart's loves remain ; 
Heart's love will meet tkee again. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson. 



S 



'HE is not dead. 

Jesus. 



^* y/LL all at once beyond the will 
i I hear a wizard music roll, 

And thro' a lattice on the soul 
Looks thy fair face and makes it still. 

Alfred Tennyson. 



THE expected year in Europe meant 
only a little less to her than did 
the first opportunity for foreign 
study. Her plans were definite and full. 
Two of her advanced pupils were to ac 
company us, and they were to be placed 
in Berlin for the winter after a visit to 
the Wagner festival at Munich. She was 
then to spend a considerable part of the 
season in Paris. Passage to Europe was 
engaged for August 30 from New York. 
Between commencement and that time 
we were to pass nine or ten days in the 
Sierra Nevada, and then she was to visit 
her people in Alameda, leaving me for 
a little longer in the mountains. 

Her brother and his family met us in 
the Sierra, and with them and other 
friends she spent delightful days. There 
were walks, and drives, and picnics, and 
quiet hours in the hammock. Early in 
July she went on to Alameda, and I 
[95] 



MEMOIR 

followed her thither on the 4th of August. 
I found her not quite well. She had had 
an attack of ptomaine poisoning following 
the eating of shrimps at San Francisco 
on the first day of that month. Appar 
ently she was recovering from the attack, 
but in a day or two she became worse, 
and for a week she was very ill. Between 
the 13th and the 20th, however, convales 
cence was so rapid that the attending 
physician had no scruples against her start 
ing for the East, in accordance with our 
programme, on the 22d. On the 20th 
she began to suffer with what appeared 
to be colic. No alarming symptoms ap 
peared until late the following afternoon. 
Early the next morning, after a night of 
terrible suffering, it was for the first time 
clear that a stoppage of the intestine 
existed. She was immediately removed 
to Ward's sanatorium in San Francisco, 
where Dr. J. W. Ward operated the same 
day for the relief of the stoppage. He 
found the cause of it to be a cancer, 
evidently of long standing. Perforation 
and blood-poisoning had already occurred. 
The possibility of saving her was only a 
[96] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

chance in a thousand, but it was seized 
upon and a fight for her life was made. 
The difficulties were enormous. But 
resection was successfully accomplished, 
and the blood poisoning was somewhat 
checked. Undoubtedly the operation 
prolonged her life, but just before six 
o'clock on the morning of the 24th, thirty- 
six hours after the operation, the poison 
stilled the beating of her heart. 

The medical aspects of the case are 
most strange. "Doctor," said the sur 
geon to the attending physician when 
the truth was revealed by the operation, 
" it 's impossible, but there it is ! " Of 
the fact of cancer there is no doubt, for 
the diagnosis was subsequently confirmed 
by bacteriological examination. The 
disease had been present, without doubt, 
for many months, yet no symptom of 
any chronic or organic disorder had ever 
shown itself. Every incident that can 
now be regarded as possibly connected 
with the disease had been fully accounted 
for. She had shown more fatigue than 
usual toward the end of the college year, 
but it was fully explainable by the mental 
[97] 



MEMOIR 

strain connected with her resignation from 
the School of Music. She had suffered 
from a gastric disturbance for a few hours, 
but this also was completely explained 
by the immediate circumstances. The 
ptomaine poisoning that preceded her last 
illness seems only to have been rendered 
more stubborn by the diseased condition 
of the tissues. All that is possible to 
medical and surgical science and skill was 
done at the first indicated moment, but 
that moment was too late. 

Of the personal side of her life from 
August 4 to August 24 I must speak, 
in order that her friends may know how 
she met these fiery trials. They revealed, 
not weakness, but strength. Though she 
was always sensitive in the highest degree 
to all pain stimuli, day after day she bore 
intense suffering with unwavering courage 
and high spirit. I can say this with full 
knowledge of the facts, for it was my 
privilege to nurse her day and night until 
she entered her room at the hospital. 
Cheerful, uncomplaining, thoughtful of 
others, foresighted, affectionate always, 
[98] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

even indulging her irrepressible fondness 
for humor, she shed a glory upon those 
days that transfigures their tragic pathos. 

The abrupt announcement of the neces 
sity for an operation caused her to shrink, 
but only for a very few moments. Then 
the strength of her nature showed itself. 
A number of years ago, when we were 
travelling by stage in Oregon, our road 
brought us to a ravine where the bridge 
was down and our only chance of crossing 
lay in several lengths of plank only a foot 
wide. She had always had extreme fear 
of high places, yet, after surveying the 
situation, she calmly told me to take her 
hand and lead the way across. Until 
that instant I could not have believed 
her capable of it, yet she made the peril 
ous passage with utter steadiness. She 
had always had a horror of operations, 
but now she placed her hand in that of 
the great Guide and Helper and went 
forward as steadily as if she were merely 
undertaking an unusual piece of work. 
She made ready with her characteristic 
attention to details, was interestedly ob 
servant of all the preparations, talked 
[99] 



MEMOIR 

frankly and fearlessly of the extreme 
danger that lay ahead. The faith that 
had sustained her in the work of life now 
went with her in her peril and suffering. 

After the operation, which was of ex 
treme severity, though she was weak she 
was still in possession of her mental powers 
with all their individuality. Patient, 
practical, thoughtful of the nurse, still 
seeing the humorous side of things, con 
stantly striving to make the situation 
easier for her loved ones, she was her very 
self. 

We could not take the risk of exciting 
her by explaining her condition, yet toward 
the end she knew by inference from the 
activities of the surgeon and the nurses 
that her life was the prize for which a 
persistent fight was being made. To the 
sentiment that we w r ere in the hands of 
God, and that He would do all things 
well, she responded with the smiling trust 
of a child that nestles against its mother's 
breast. Even in the last hours she was 
so fully herself that, when something that 
she desired had to be denied, I did not 
hesitate to reply in the appropriate words 
[100] 



SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

of a humorous story that we had recently 
enjoyed together. She took in all the 
humor, and she made the application in 
her characteristic way. The end came 
peacefully just as morning broke. 

No, not the end ! Only the close of 
a chapter in her life! With suppressed 
protest this story has conformed to usage 
by saying how often "she was.' 5 ; . : I|f. 
it is given to us to discriminate the seen)- , 
ing from the real at all, a rich personality 
like hers cannot be mere transitory seem 
ing. To have known her very soul for 
seventeen years is enough to make one 
certain that death cannot reach her. 

The funeral was held at the home of 
her parents on the 25th of August at 
two o'clock. There were present about 
seventy-five invited guests, largely her 
friends of other days. The service was 
in charge of the Rev. Charles R. Brown, 
pastor of the First Congregational Church 
of Oakland, a friend of both of us in the 
old Boston days. In accordance with a 
special request, the service was a brief 
one. The hymns, " Lead, Kindly Light " 
and " Sweet is Thy Mercy, Lord," were 
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MEMOIR 

sung by the quartette of Mr. Brown's 
church, Mrs. Grace Davis Northrup, so 
prano, Mrs. Lena Carroll Nicholson, con 
tralto, Mr. Henry L. Perry, bass, and 
Mr. Chester Rosekrans, tenor. Mr. 
Brown's address follows : 

" This event we call death is never referred to 
in the; New Testament as in any sense a finality, 
hup always as an experience in life. It is repre 
sented under many different figures, some of which 
"f recall to" your minds to-day. 

" Death is called a sleep. When Lazarus died 
Jesus said, 'Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep. 
I go that I may awake him out of his sleep. 1 
Death was a sleep which came at the end of a 
long day of life, when the body, wearied by disease, 
it might be, or by old age, lost itself in sleep. It 
was a sleep out of which there was to come an 
awakening to a brighter, longer, fairer day. It 
was thus that Jesus spoke of death as a sleep. 

"He also spoke of death as a 'going out." 1 
When Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration 
with his three disciples, Peter and James and John, 
his companions spoke with Him of ' the decease 
which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. 1 The 
word used for 'decease 1 was the word 'exodus, 1 
the going out. It had reference to an experience 
in the life of the ancient Hebrew nation, when the 
Israelites, suffering under the bondage and the 
varied limitations of their life in Egypt, accom- 
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SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

plished an exodus they went out into the broader, 
freer life of the steppes and then on into the 
larger and more joyous opportunities of the land 
of promise. 

" Death is an exodus, a going out from what 
ever bondage we may suffer here because of the 
physical order in which we live, into the finer 
opportunities of the land of promise. 

"There is yet another figure used by St. Paul 
which I have always loved. He was fond of the 
sea. In his missionary labors he had made many 
voyages around the Mediterranean. He had been 
shipwrecked, spending a day and a night in the 
deep. He had come into close contact with the 
sailors and out of all this experience he had brought 
many nautical terms which now and then he used 
in the expression of spiritual truth. 

" Near the close of his life, when he was not an 
old man, but worn by the many hardships of his 
active service, he wrote from his prison in Rome 
to his young friend Timothy the last letter of 
which we have any record. ' I have fought a 
good fight,' he says. ' I have kept the faith ; I 
have finished my course. The time of my depar 
ture is at hand. 1 And the word he uses for * de 
parture' means literally 'the unmooring.' 'The 
time of my unmooring is at hand.' He thought 
of himself as a ship tied at the dock, fretting and 
chafing its sides against the wharf, dreaming ever 
of the open sea. By and by, when in the purpose 
of the master the hour for departure arrived, there 
came an unmooring, a casting off of all the cables, 
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MEMOIR 

and the setting forth on the wide sea to the haven 
beyond. 

" Death is an unmooring, a cutting loose from 
things which have held us here, a casting off of 
cables which may have grown inexpressibly dear, 
holding us as they do to this earthly situation. 
But when death comes, it is not in any sense the 
end of life, but rather the beginning of a vast 
voyage on an open sea to the appointed haven 
beyond. 

"Death then is a sleep, a going out, an un 
mooring. When we thus think of it in the terms 
and in the spirit of the New Testament it seems 
no longer a finality, but a supreme experience in 
every way preparatory to the larger things that 
lie further on. In this firm assurance we find our 
comfort when at hours like this we come to mourn 
the loss of those whom we have loved. 

" It would be altogether superfluous for me to 
stand here to utter extended words of eulogy in 
regard to our dear friend Mrs. Coe. We are 
all here because we knew her, and because appre 
ciation, esteem, and love have filled our hearts. 
She was strong, sane, well-poised, unselfish, finding 
ever her greatest joy not in being ministered unto, 
but in ministering unto others, tender-hearted, 
as every true woman must be to be true. How 
nobly and beautifully these qualities were em 
bodied in the life we knew ! 

"She was by extraordinary natural endowment, 
by wide and varied training, and by demonstrated 
efficiency a teacher, a great teacher. She was not 
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SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

only a teacher of music, her chosen instrument in 
the accomplishment of her work, but a teacher of 
the higher, finer values in life. It was her office 
to aid in the unfolding, the maturing, and the 
enrichment of personality, and music was her 
appointed instrument to that high end. She 
wrought not only in the world of tone, but in 
the world of spirit. 

"She was a musician in her own right not 
only a skilled performer of the melodies and 
harmonies of others, but a creator of melody and 
harmony herself. While she lived and worked 
in this sense-world the tones were but as symbols 
of deeper spiritual values, and with them she 
sought to bring out the deeper meanings of life's 
aspirations, to the end that ' there might be one 
music as before, but vaster. 1 

" She was a daughter, and how she was endeared 
to this household ! How they all rejoiced in the 
splendid success which she achieved ! How they 
welcomed her home coming ! How they were 
blessed and enriched in her sweet companionship ! 
How it seemed to them as if all the stars had 
fallen out of the sky when the sad news came 
that she was gone ! She nobly fulfilled all that 
was beautiful in that word 'daughter. 1 

"She was a wife, and upon one heart most 
heavily of all there falls a sense of deep disappoint 
ment and irreparable loss, now that she is i*emoved 
from us. George Albert Coe and Sadie Knowland 
knew and served God when their lives lay apart. 
Then the paths drew near, blended, and became 
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MEMOIR 

one path where they walked side by side, working 
together, living together, loving each other, mak 
ing their contribution of clear thought and noble 
harmony, that the world about them might have 
life and have it more abundantly. And now 
again the paths have drawn apart, yet not far 
apart, and not apart at all except to our mortal 
eyes. In spirit and in purpose their work is still 
one. The kingdom is one, though some citizens 
toil here and some there. The great task is 
one, though some labor in one abiding-place and 
some in another of the Father's House. The 
unfolding, the maturing, the enriching of person 
ality does not end at death, and there is still and 
ever the same necessity for that noble service to 
be rendered under the eye of God. The paths 
may lie apart for a season, but the work, as well 
as the spirit and purpose of their lives, is forever 
one. 

"Thus in these great assurances gathered to 
our hearts out of God's word to men, and in the 
great anticipations which rise before us when we 
rest upon the integrity of those plans with which 
we have already learned in some measure to co 
operate, we find our comfort! 

" ' Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me ! 
And may there be no moaning of the bar, when 

I put out to sea, 
But such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full 

for sound and foam 

When that which drew from out the ocean deep, 
turns again home. 
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SADIE KNOWLAND COE 

" ' Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark ! 
And may there be no sadness of farewell when 

I embark : 
For tho' from out our bourne of time and place 

the flood may bear me far, 

I hope to see my Pilot face to face when I have 
crost the bar.' " 

By a strange and comforting coinci 
dence, three of my old Boston student- 
friends, in addition to Mr. Brown, were 
present. They are the Rev. Arthur H. 
Briggs, the Rev. Edward P. Dennett, and 
the Rev. Francis M. Larkin. Mr. Briggs 
and Mr. Larkin had known Mrs. Coe 
when she was still Miss Knowland, and 
Mr. Dennett had married one of her most 
intimate girl friends. These three, to 
gether with Mr. W. F. Minium, a North 
western alumnus, whose wife had studied 
with Mrs. Coe in Evanston, Mr. Joseph 
Forderer, an old friend of the family, and 
Mr. W. K. Scott, who had been one of 
our merry party in the mountains a few 
days before, served as pall-bearers. 

In her days of health Mrs. Coe had 

expressed to me and also to her mother 

a preference for cremation. Accordingly, 

what was mortal of her was committed to 

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MEMOIR 

the purifying heat at the beautiful Oak 
land crematory. , In due time a perma 
nent resting-place will be provided for 
her ashes. 

How do I love thee ? Let me count the ways. 

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 

For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace. 

I love thee to the level of everyday's 

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. 

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right ; 

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise ; 

I love thee with the passion put to use 

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith ; 

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 

With my lost saints I love thee with the breath, 

Smiles, tears, of all my life ! and, if God choose 

I shall but love thee better after death. 

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING. 



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