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A little wholesome neglect, a little dis- men as painful products of our own cipline, plenty of play, and a fair chance time, but they have probably existed to be glad and sorry as the hours swing since the building of the tower of Baby, these things are not too much bel,
bel, - a nerve-racking piece of work to grant to childhood. That careful which gave peculiar scope to their encoddling which deprives a child of all ergies. delicate and strong emotions lest it be A woman whose every action is hursaddened, or excited, or alarmed, leaves ried, whose every hour is open to disit dangerously soft of fibre. Coleridge, turbance, whose every breath is drawn an unhappy little lad at school, was with superfluous emphasis, will talk lifted out of his own troubles by an ac- about the nervous strain under which quaintance with the heroic sorrows of she is living, as though dining out and the world. There is no page of history, paying the cook’s wages were the things however dark, there is no beautiful old which are breaking her down. The tale, however tragic, which does not remedy proposed for such 'strain' is impart some strength and some distinc- withdrawal from the healthy buffeting tion to the awakening mind. It is pos- of life, — not for three days, as Burke sible to overrate the superlative merits withdrew in order that he might read of insipidity as a mental and moral Evelina, and be rested and refreshed force in the development of youth. thereby; but long enough to permit of
There are people who surrender the notion that immunity from buffetthemselves without reserve to needlessings is a possible condition of existence, activities, who have a real affection of all errors, the most irretrievable. for telephones, and district messengers, It has been many centuries since and the importunities of their daily Marcus Aurelius observed the fretful mail. If they are women, they put disquiet of Rome, which must have special delivery stamps on letters which been strikingly like our fretful disquiet would lose nothing by a month's de- to-day, and proffered counsel, unheeded lay. If they are men, they exult in the then as now: "Take pleasure in one thought that they can be reached by thing and rest in it, passing from wireless telegraphy in mid-ocean. We one social act to another, thinking of are apt to think of these men and wo- God.'
THE LADY ABBESS
BY EMILY JAMES PUTNAM
Set a price on thy love. Thou canst not name
most useful for other purposes. A girl so much but I will give thee for thy love much should not be too intelligent or too more. - ANCREN RIWLE.
good or too highly differentiated in
ment she should be designed to fit the
а. fied for, let us say, the practice of medi- her daily food, and her chance of childcine, the brother has, besides the scien- ren, depend on her exerting sufficient tific motive, the economic motive. The charm to induce some man to assume ardent pursuit of his profession will, if the responsibility and expense of mainsuccessful, make him a rich man. His taining her for life, and that the qualsister, on the other hand, will never ities on which this charm depends are earn absolutely as much money as he, sometimes altogether unattainable by and relatively her earnings will be neg- a given woman, it is not surprising ligible in comparison with her income that exceptional women are willing to if she should marry a millionaire. But eliminate from their lives the whole if she be known to have committed question of marriage and of motherherself to the study of medicine her hood, for the sake of a free developchance of marrying a millionaire is ment, irrespective of its bearing on the practically eliminated.
other sex. Apart from the crude economic ques- Noinstitution in Europe has ever won tion, the things that most women mean for the lady the freedom of developwhen they speak of 'happiness,' that is, ment that she enjoyed in the convent love and children and the little repub- in the early days. The modern college lic of the home, depend upon the favor for women only feebly reproduces it, of men, and the qualities that win this since the college for women has arisen favor are not in general those that are at a time when colleges in general are
under a cloud. The lady abbess, on the appear. Her roots lie in a society that
. other hand, was part of the two great is pre-feudal, though feudalism played social forces of her time, feudalism and into her hand; and in a psychology that the Church. Great spiritual rewards is pre-Christian, though she ruled in and great worldly prizes were alike the name of Christ. within her grasp. She was treated as The worship of Demeter the motheran equal by the men of her class, as is goddess, which was one of the central
, witnessed by letters we still have from facts of Greek religious life, spread and popes and emperors to abbesses. She flourished in the west. Sicily, the granhad the stimulus of competition with ary of the ancient world, became natmen, in executive capacity, in scholar- urally in legend the scene of the rape ship, and in artistic production, since of Persephone and of the wanderings of her work was freely set before the gen- her mother, the giver of grain to men. eral public; but she was relieved by the The Romans adopted the worship of circumstances of her environment from this ancient hypostasis of woman's the ceaseless competition in common share in primitive culture, ranging it life of woman with woman for the favor beside the cult of their own Bona Dea, of the individual man. In the cloister of and indeed sometimes confusing the the great days, as on a small scale two. in the college for women to-day, women Catania was one of the places where were judged by one another, as men the great festivals of the Lesser and the are everywhere judged by one another, Greater Eleusinia were celebrated in for sterling qualities of head and heart spring and autumn with high devotion and character.
and with all the pomp of the rubric. The strongest argument against the The main features of the festivals were co-educational college is that the pre- everywhere the same; the carrying, on sence of the male brings in the fac- a cart through the streets, of the symtor of sexual selection, and the girl bolic pomegranate and poppy-seed, the who is elected to the class-office is not great procession walking with torches necessarily the ablest or the wisest, far into the night to typify the search or the kindest, — but the possessor of the goddess for her child, the mumof the longest eyelashes. The lady ming, the ringing of bells, the exhibidoes not often rise to the point of de- tion of the sacred veil, the mystic meal ciding against sex. The choice is a of bread for the initiate, and the mystic cruel one, and in the individual case pouring out of wine. At Catania, as the rewards of the ascetic course are Ovid tells us, these customary elements too small and too uncertain. At no of the feast were supplemented by a l other time than the aristocratic period horse-race. of the cloister have the rewards so Miss Eckenstein calls attention to preponderated as to carry her over in the description, given early in the last numbers.
century by the English traveler Blunt, In studying this interesting phenom- of the festival of Saint Agatha as he enon we must divest our minds of the saw it in Catania, -and, I may add, conventional picture of the nun. The as it is celebrated there to this day. It Little Sister of the Poor is the product begins with a horse-race, and its chief of a number of social motives that had event, next to the mass, is a great pronot begun to operate when the lady cession, lasting into the night, in which abbess came into being. In fact, her the participants carry torches and ring day is almost over when the Poor Clares bells as they follow a wagon which bears
the relics of the saint, among them her Church. Under pressure of popular veil and her breasts, torn off by her demand, every sacred place in heathenpersecutors. The saint has two festi- dom bade fair to have its saint, and vals yearly, one in the autumn and one many of these improvised saints were in the spring. It remains to point out gradually fitted out with legends and that though it is disputed whether the historical relations. It was not until breasts were or were not part of the the twelfth century that Rome felt that ancient ritual, they are a likely enough the process had gone far enough and symbol of exuberance. Also, ‘Agatha'. withdrew the power of canonization is the Greek word for 'Bona,' and does into her own hands. *** not occur as a proper name before the Although the German tribes were alappearance of the saint. But the Acta ready patriarchal in organization when Sanctorum knows all about Saint they came in contact with the Romans, Agatha, a Christian virgin and martyr they carried abundant evidence in their of Catania in the third century, and is traditions, their customs, and their able to give full details of her parentage cults, of an earlier social system. The and history, adding that her fame queen of saga and of history, the tribal spread at an early date into Italy and mother with her occult powers and her Greece.
status of priestess to goddesses who were The process here visible went on also tribal, the recognized existence of everywhere as Christianity spread in certain bodies of women outside the Europe. The places, the persons, and family, are all survivals of the motherthe ritual of heathen worship were age, with its primitive culture and sotaken in bodily by the new religion, cial organization. with a more or less successful effort at + With these various phenomena the assimilation. Not only the classic cults Church dealt in various ways: roughly of Greece and Rome, but the cruder we may say that the tribal goddess religions of the barbarians of the north, she used as a saint, the priestess she were to be conciliated. And in all of banned as a witch, the unattached these, classic and crude alike, the old woman she segregated under a somestatus of woman was abundantly re- what summary classification as either flected. A purely patriarchal religion nun or castaway. There seems to be would not serve; the Virgin and the no doubt that we must regard the imfemale saints became more and more mense popularity of the convent in necessary to bridge the chasm. It is Europe in early times as largely due to
+ not by accident that the festivals of the uneasiness of women under a pathe Virgin so often coincide with those triarchal régime. We think to-day of of heathen deities, for in the seventh the cloister as a refuge from the discentury Pope Sergius ordered that this - tracting liberty of secular life; it seems should be so, as a matter of policy. paradoxical, and yet it is apparently
In the long centuries needed for the true, that the women of early ChristenChristianizing of Europe, heathendom dom fled from the constraint of home reacted powerfully on the new faith. to the expansion of the cloister. Under Local saints everywhere are its work. In patriarchalism the problem of the unthe early days a saint needed not to be assigned woman becomes one of concanonized by Rome; it was necessary siderable perplexity to herself and to only that he should be entered in a local society. A stigma is attached to her,
a calendar, and the local calendar was in which acts as a deterrent to rebels in the hands of local dignitaries of the the ranks. The 'loose,' that is, the
unattached, woman is sharply marked gians, whom Clothair captured with off from the lady, so that the choice lies her brother on one of his raids into the between the constraints of social and eastern wilds. She was a person of economic dependence on the one hand, great spirit, and perfect personal courand social outlawry on the other. These age. She was the sort of woman (her considerations account for the fact that biographers say) who keeps her husthe nun of early northern Christianity band's dinner waiting while she visits was by no means a type of self-efface- the sick, and annoys him by her open ment, but was often a spirited and some preference for the society of learned times a lawless person; and that the clerks. When finally she made up her abbess was more generally than not a mind to leave her husband, she fastened woman of good birth, strong character, upon an unhappy prelate, Bishop Meand independent ways. Sometimes she dardus of Noyon, the dangerous task had tried marriage, sometimes she had of sealing her from the world. “If you condemned it without a trial. It offered refuse to consecrate me,' she said grim
little scope for the free development ly, 'a lamb will be lost to the flock.' T of women, but there were many women The Bishop quailed before the lamb,
insisting on free development. To such and Radegund entered the life at Poi
the convent was a godsend, and we tiers that gave play to her great powers +
may almost say that the lady abbess is of organization, diplomacy, and leaderthe successor of the saga heroine. ship. Her nuns were her true spiritual
Monasticism as the Eastern world children. practiced it was by no means congen
After her death, two rival claimial in general to the Frankish habit of ants for the office of abbess conmind. The worn-out races embraced it tended even with violence. Leubover as a refuge from the growing difficulties was the regularly appointed successor, of life with which they had no longer but Chrodield, daughter and cousin of energy to cope. The fresh races on the kings, heading a faction, attacked and other hand had an immense amount of put to flight the clerics who excomthe will-to-live to work off before they municated her party. Gregory of Tours in their turn should dwindle toward self- tells how Chrodield, having collected effacement, abnegation, and the meeker about her a band of murderers and vavirtues. The men among the Franks grants of all kinds, dwelt in open refelt no call to the cloister. There is no volt and ordered her followers to break record that any Frankish prince en- into the nunnery at night and forcibly tered a convent of his free will. For to bear off the abbess. But the abbess, men the world was too full of
oppor- who was suffering from a gouty foot, tunity. But maidens, wives, and wid- on hearing the noise of their approach, ows of the royal house joined religious asked to be carried before the shrine communities, not because they were of the Holy Ghost. The rebels rushed spiritually unlike their men, but be- in with swords and lances, and miscause they were like them. The im- taking in the dark the prioress for the pulse toward leadership which kept abbess, carried her off, disheveled and the men in the world sent the women stripped of her cloak. The bishops out of it.
were afraid to enter Poitiers, and the Radegund, founder of the convent nuns kept the district terrorized until of Poitiers, was fifth among the seven the king sent troops to reduce them. recognized wives of King Clothair. She Only after the soldiers had actually was a princess of the untamed Thurin- charged them, cutting them down with