Eighty Years And More; Reminiscences 1815-1897
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Part 1 out of 7

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Grenet and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team

[Illustration: Elizabeth Cady Stanton]




"Social science affirms that woman's place in society marks the level of






XI. SUSAN B. ANTHONY (_Continued_)


The Author, _Frontispiece_
Margaret Livingston Cady
Judge Daniel Cady
Henry Brewster Stanton
The Author and Daughter
The Author and Son
Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Smith Miller
Children and Grandchildren
The Author, Mrs. Blatch, and Nora
The Author, Mrs. Lawrence, and Robert Livingston Stanton




The psychical growth of a child is not influenced by days and years, but
by the impressions passing events make on its mind. What may prove a
sudden awakening to one, giving an impulse in a certain direction that
may last for years, may make no impression on another. People wonder why
the children of the same family differ so widely, though they have had
the same domestic discipline, the same school and church teaching, and
have grown up under the same influences and with the same environments.
As well wonder why lilies and lilacs in the same latitude are not all
alike in color and equally fragrant. Children differ as widely as these
in the primal elements of their physical and psychical life.

Who can estimate the power of antenatal influences, or the child's
surroundings in its earliest years, the effect of some passing word or
sight on one, that makes no impression on another? The unhappiness of
one child under a certain home discipline is not inconsistent with the
content of another under this same discipline. One, yearning for broader
freedom, is in a chronic condition of rebellion; the other, more easily
satisfied, quietly accepts the situation. Everything is seen from a
different standpoint; everything takes its color from the mind of the

I am moved to recall what I can of my early days, what I thought and
felt, that grown people may have a better understanding of children and
do more for their happiness and development. I see so much tyranny
exercised over children, even by well-disposed parents, and in so many
varied forms,--a tyranny to which these parents are themselves
insensible,--that I desire to paint my joys and sorrows in as vivid
colors as possible, in the hope that I may do something to defend the
weak from the strong. People never dream of all that is going on in the
little heads of the young, for few adults are given to introspection,
and those who are incapable of recalling their own feelings under
restraint and disappointment can have no appreciation of the sufferings
of children who can neither describe nor analyze what they feel. In
defending themselves against injustice they are as helpless as dumb
animals. What is insignificant to their elders is often to them a source
of great joy or sorrow.

With several generations of vigorous, enterprising ancestors behind me,
I commenced the struggle of life under favorable circumstances on the
12th day of November, 1815, the same year that my father, Daniel Cady, a
distinguished lawyer and judge in the State of New York, was elected to
Congress. Perhaps the excitement of a political campaign, in which my
mother took the deepest interest, may have had an influence on my
prenatal life and given me the strong desire that I have always felt to
participate in the rights and duties of government.

My father was a man of firm character and unimpeachable integrity, and
yet sensitive and modest to a painful degree. There were but two places
in which he felt at ease--in the courthouse and at his own fireside.
Though gentle and tender, he had such a dignified repose and reserve of
manner that, as children, we regarded him with fear rather than

My mother, Margaret Livingston, a tall, queenly looking woman, was
courageous, self-reliant, and at her ease under all circumstances and in
all places. She was the daughter of Colonel James Livingston, who took
an active part in the War of the Revolution.

Colonel Livingston was stationed at West Point when Arnold made the
attempt to betray that stronghold into the hands of the enemy. In the
absence of General Washington and his superior officer, he took the
responsibility of firing into the _Vulture_, a suspicious looking
British vessel that lay at anchor near the opposite bank of the Hudson
River. It was a fatal shot for Andre, the British spy, with whom Arnold
was then consummating his treason. Hit between wind and water, the
vessel spread her sails and hastened down the river, leaving Andre, with
his papers, to be captured while Arnold made his escape through the
lines, before his treason was suspected.

On General Washington's return to West Point, he sent for my grandfather
and reprimanded him for acting in so important a matter without orders,
thereby making himself liable to court-martial; but, after fully
impressing the young officer with the danger of such self-sufficiency on
ordinary occasions, he admitted that a most fortunate shot had been sent
into the _Vulture_, "for," he said, "we are in no condition just now to
defend ourselves against the British forces in New York, and the
capture of this spy has saved us."

My mother had the military idea of government, but her children, like
their grandfather, were disposed to assume the responsibility of their
own actions; thus the ancestral traits in mother and children modified,
in a measure, the dangerous tendencies in each.

Our parents were as kind, indulgent, and considerate as the Puritan
ideas of those days permitted, but fear, rather than love, of God and
parents alike, predominated. Add to this our timidity in our intercourse
with servants and teachers, our dread of the ever present devil, and the
reader will see that, under such conditions, nothing but strong
self-will and a good share of hope and mirthfulness could have saved an
ordinary child from becoming a mere nullity.

The first event engraved on my memory was the birth of a sister when I
was four years old. It was a cold morning in January when the brawny
Scotch nurse carried me to see the little stranger, whose advent was a
matter of intense interest to me for many weeks after. The large,
pleasant room with the white curtains and bright wood fire on the
hearth, where panada, catnip, and all kinds of little messes which we
were allowed to taste were kept warm, was the center of attraction for
the older children. I heard so many friends remark, "What a pity it is
she's a girl!" that I felt a kind of compassion for the little baby.
True, our family consisted of five girls and only one boy, but I did not
understand at that time that girls were considered an inferior order of

To form some idea of my surroundings at this time, imagine a two-story
white frame house with a hall through the middle, rooms on either side,
and a large back building with grounds on the side and rear, which
joined the garden of our good Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Simon
Hosack, of whom I shall have more to say in another chapter. Our
favorite resorts in the house were the garret and cellar. In the former
were barrels of hickory nuts, and, on a long shelf, large cakes of maple
sugar and all kinds of dried herbs and sweet flag; spinning wheels, a
number of small white cotton bags filled with bundles, marked in ink,
"silk," "cotton," "flannel," "calico," etc., as well as ancient
masculine and feminine costumes. Here we would crack the nuts, nibble
the sharp edges of the maple sugar, chew some favorite herb, play ball
with the bags, whirl the old spinning wheels, dress up in our ancestors'
clothes, and take a bird's-eye view of the surrounding country from an
enticing scuttle hole. This was forbidden ground; but, nevertheless, we
often went there on the sly, which only made the little escapades more

The cellar of our house was filled, in winter, with barrels of apples,
vegetables, salt meats, cider, butter, pounding barrels, washtubs, etc.,
offering admirable nooks for playing hide and seek. Two tallow candles
threw a faint light over the scene on certain occasions. This cellar was
on a level with a large kitchen where we played blind man's buff and
other games when the day's work was done. These two rooms are the center
of many of the merriest memories of my childhood days.

I can recall three colored men, Abraham, Peter, and Jacob, who acted as
menservants in our youth. In turn they would sometimes play on the banjo
for us to dance, taking real enjoyment in our games. They are all at
rest now with "Old Uncle Ned in the place where the good niggers go."
Our nurses, Lockey Danford, Polly Bell, Mary Dunn, and Cornelia
Nickeloy--peace to their ashes--were the only shadows on the gayety of
these winter evenings; for their chief delight was to hurry us off to
bed, that they might receive their beaux or make short calls in the
neighborhood. My memory of them is mingled with no sentiment of
gratitude or affection. In expressing their opinion of us in after
years, they said we were a very troublesome, obstinate, disobedient set
of children. I have no doubt we were in constant rebellion against their
petty tyranny. Abraham, Peter, and Jacob viewed us in a different light,
and I have the most pleasant recollections of their kind services.

In the winter, outside the house, we had the snow with which to build
statues and make forts, and huge piles of wood covered with ice, which
we called the Alps, so difficult were they of ascent and descent. There
we would climb up and down by the hour, if not interrupted, which,
however, was generally the case. It always seemed to me that, in the
height of our enthusiasm, we were invariably summoned to some
disagreeable duty, which would appear to show that thus early I keenly
enjoyed outdoor life. Theodore Tilton has thus described the place where
I was born: "Birthplace is secondary parentage, and transmits character.
Johnstown was more famous half a century ago than since; for then,
though small, it was a marked intellectual center; and now, though
large, it is an unmarked manufacturing town. Before the birth of
Elizabeth Cady it was the vice-ducal seat of Sir William Johnson, the
famous English negotiator with the Indians. During her girlhood it was
an arena for the intellectual wrestlings of Kent, Tompkins, Spencer,
Elisha Williams, and Abraham Van Vechten, who, as lawyers, were among
the chiefest of their time. It is now devoted mainly to the fabrication
of steel springs and buckskin gloves. So, like Wordsworth's early star,
it has faded into the light of common day. But Johnstown retains one of
its ancient splendors--a glory still fresh as at the foundation of the
world. Standing on its hills, one looks off upon a country of enameled
meadow lands, that melt away southward toward the Mohawk, and northward
to the base of those grand mountains which are 'God's monument over the
grave of John Brown.'"

Harold Frederic's novel, "In the Valley," contains many descriptions of
this region that are true to nature, as I remember the Mohawk Valley,
for I first knew it not so many years after the scenes which he lays
there. Before I was old enough to take in the glory of this scenery and
its classic associations, Johnstown was to me a gloomy-looking town. The
middle of the streets was paved with large cobblestones, over which the
farmer's wagons rattled from morning till night, while the sidewalks
were paved with very small cobblestones, over which we carefully picked
our way, so that free and graceful walking was out of the question. The
streets were lined with solemn poplar trees, from which small yellow
worms were continually dangling down. Next to the Prince of Darkness, I
feared these worms. They were harmless, but the sight of one made me
tremble. So many people shared in this feeling that the poplars were all
cut down and elms planted in their stead. The Johnstown academy and
churches were large square buildings, painted white, surrounded by these
same sombre poplars, each edifice having a doleful bell which seemed to
be ever tolling for school, funerals, church, or prayer meetings. Next
to the worms, those clanging bells filled me with the utmost dread; they
seemed like so many warnings of an eternal future. Visions of the
Inferno were strongly impressed on my childish imagination. It was
thought, in those days, that firm faith in hell and the devil was the
greatest help to virtue. It certainly made me very unhappy whenever my
mind dwelt on such teachings, and I have always had my doubts of the
virtue that is based on the fear of punishment.

Perhaps I may be pardoned a word devoted to my appearance in those days.
I have been told that I was a plump little girl, with very fair skin,
rosy cheeks, good features, dark-brown hair, and laughing blue eyes. A
student in my father's office, the late Henry Bayard of Delaware (an
uncle of our recent Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, Thomas F.
Bayard), told me one day, after conning my features carefully, that I
had one defect which he could remedy. "Your eyebrows should be darker
and heavier," said he, "and if you will let me shave them once or twice,
you will be much improved." I consented, and, slight as my eyebrows
were, they seemed to have had some expression, for the loss of them had
a most singular effect on my appearance. Everybody, including even the
operator, laughed at my odd-looking face, and I was in the depths of
humiliation during the period while my eyebrows were growing out again.
It is scarcely necessary for me to add that I never allowed the young
man to repeat the experiment, although strongly urged to do so.

I cannot recall how or when I conquered the alphabet, words in three
letters, the multiplication table, the points of the compass, the
chicken pox, whooping cough, measles, and scarlet fever. All these
unhappy incidents of childhood left but little impression on my mind. I
have, however, most pleasant memories of the good spinster, Maria Yost,
who patiently taught three generations of children the rudiments of the
English language, and introduced us to the pictures in "Murray's
Spelling-book," where Old Father Time, with his scythe, and the farmer
stoning the boys in his apple trees, gave rise in my mind to many
serious reflections. Miss Yost was plump and rosy, with fair hair, and
had a merry twinkle in her blue eyes, and she took us by very easy
stages through the old-fashioned school-books. The interesting Readers
children now have were unknown sixty years ago. We did not reach the
temple of knowledge by the flowery paths of ease in which our
descendants now walk.

I still have a perfect vision of myself and sisters, as we stood up in
the classes, with our toes at the cracks in the floor, all dressed alike
in bright red flannel, black alpaca aprons, and, around the neck, a
starched ruffle that, through a lack of skill on the part of either the
laundress or the nurse who sewed them in, proved a constant source of
discomfort to us. I have since seen full-grown men, under slighter
provocation than we endured, jerk off a collar, tear it in two, and
throw it to the winds, chased by the most soul-harrowing expletives. But
we were sternly rebuked for complaining, and if we ventured to introduce
our little fingers between the delicate skin and the irritating linen,
our hands were slapped and the ruffle readjusted a degree closer. Our
Sunday dresses were relieved with a black sprig and white aprons. We had
red cloaks, red hoods, red mittens, and red stockings. For one's self to
be all in red six months of the year was bad enough, but to have this
costume multiplied by three was indeed monotonous. I had such an
aversion to that color that I used to rebel regularly at the beginning
of each season when new dresses were purchased, until we finally passed
into an exquisite shade of blue. No words could do justice to my dislike
of those red dresses. My grandfather's detestation of the British
redcoats must have descended to me. My childhood's antipathy to wearing
red enabled me later to comprehend the feelings of a little niece, who
hated everything pea green, because she had once heard the saying, "neat
but not gaudy, as the devil said when he painted his tail pea green." So
when a friend brought her a cravat of that color she threw it on the
floor and burst into tears, saying, "I could not wear that, for it is
the color of the devil's tail." I sympathized with the child and had it
changed for the hue she liked. Although we cannot always understand the
ground for children's preferences, it is often well to heed them.

I am told that I was pensively looking out of the nursery window one
day, when Mary Dunn, the Scotch nurse, who was something of a
philosopher, and a stern Presbyterian, said: "Child, what are you
thinking about; are you planning some new form of mischief?" "No, Mary,"
I replied, "I was wondering why it was that everything we like to do is
a sin, and that everything we dislike is commanded by God or someone on
earth. I am so tired of that everlasting no! no! no! At school, at home,
everywhere it is _no_! Even at church all the commandments begin 'Thou
shalt not.' I suppose God will say 'no' to all we like in the next
world, just as you do here." Mary was dreadfully shocked at my
dissatisfaction with the things of time and prospective eternity, and
exhorted me to cultivate the virtues of obedience and humility.

I well remember the despair I felt in those years, as I took in the
whole situation, over the constant cribbing and crippling of a child's
life. I suppose I found fit language in which to express my thoughts,
for Mary Dunn told me, years after, how our discussion roused my sister
Margaret, who was an attentive listener. I must have set forth our
wrongs in clear, unmistakable terms; for Margaret exclaimed one day, "I
tell you what to do. Hereafter let us act as we choose, without asking."
"Then," said I, "we shall be punished." "Suppose we are," said she, "we
shall have had our fun at any rate, and that is better than to mind the
everlasting 'no' and not have any fun at all." Her logic seemed
unanswerable, so together we gradually acted on her suggestions. Having
less imagination than I, she took a common-sense view of life and
suffered nothing from anticipation of troubles, while my sorrows were
intensified fourfold by innumerable apprehensions of possible

Our nursery, a large room over a back building, had three barred windows
reaching nearly to the floor. Two of these opened on a gently slanting
roof over a veranda. In our night robes, on warm summer evenings we
could, by dint of skillful twisting and compressing, get out between the
bars, and there, snugly braced against the house, we would sit and enjoy
the moon and stars and what sounds might reach us from the streets,
while the nurse, gossiping at the back door, imagined we were safely

I have a confused memory of being often under punishment for what, in
those days, were called "tantrums." I suppose they were really
justifiable acts of rebellion against the tyranny of those in authority.
I have often listened since, with real satisfaction, to what some of our
friends had to say of the high-handed manner in which sister Margaret
and I defied all the transient orders and strict rules laid down for our
guidance. If we had observed them we might as well have been embalmed as
mummies, for all the pleasure and freedom we should have had in our
childhood. As very little was then done for the amusement of children,
happy were those who _conscientiously_ took the liberty of amusing

One charming feature of our village was a stream of water, called the
Cayadutta, which ran through the north end, in which it was our delight
to walk on the broad slate stones when the water was low, in order to
pick up pretty pebbles. These joys were also forbidden, though indulged
in as opportunity afforded, especially as sister Margaret's philosophy
was found to work successfully and we had finally risen above our
infantile fear of punishment.

Much of my freedom at this time was due to this sister, who afterward
became the wife of Colonel Duncan McMartin of Iowa. I can see her now,
hat in hand, her long curls flying in the wind, her nose slightly
retrousse, her large dark eyes flashing with glee, and her small
straight mouth so expressive of determination. Though two years my
junior, she was larger and stronger than I and more fearless and
self-reliant. She was always ready to start when any pleasure offered,
and, if I hesitated, she would give me a jerk and say, emphatically:
"Oh, come along!" and away we went.

About this time we entered the Johnstown Academy, where we made the
acquaintance of the daughters of the hotel keeper and the county
sheriff. They were a few years my senior, but, as I was ahead of them in
all my studies, the difference of age was somewhat equalized and we
became fast friends. This acquaintance opened to us two new sources of
enjoyment--the freedom of the hotel during "court week" (a great event
in village life) and the exploration of the county jail. Our Scotch
nurse had told us so many thrilling tales of castles, prisons, and
dungeons in the Old World that, to see the great keys and iron doors,
the handcuffs and chains, and the prisoners in their cells seemed like a
veritable visit to Mary's native land. We made frequent visits to the
jail and became deeply concerned about the fate of the prisoners, who
were greatly pleased with our expressions of sympathy and our gifts of
cake and candy. In time we became interested in the trials and sentences
of prisoners, and would go to the courthouse and listen to the
proceedings. Sometimes we would slip into the hotel where the judges and
lawyers dined, and help our little friend wait on table. The rushing of
servants to and fro, the calling of guests, the scolding of servants in
the kitchen, the banging of doors, the general hubbub, the noise and
clatter, were all idealized by me into one of those royal festivals Mary
so often described. To be allowed to carry plates of bread and butter,
pie and cheese I counted a high privilege. But more especially I enjoyed
listening to the conversations in regard to the probable fate of our
friends the prisoners in the jail. On one occasion I projected a few
remarks into a conversation between two lawyers, when one of them turned
abruptly to me and said, "Child, you'd better attend to your business;
bring me a glass of water." I replied indignantly, "I am not a servant;
I am here for fun."

In all these escapades we were followed by Peter, black as coal and six
feet in height. It seems to me now that his chief business was to
discover our whereabouts, get us home to dinner, and take us back to
school. Fortunately he was overflowing with curiosity and not averse to
lingering a while where anything of interest was to be seen or heard,
and, as we were deemed perfectly safe under his care, no questions were
asked when we got to the house, if we had been with him. He had a long
head and, through his diplomacy, we escaped much disagreeable
surveillance. Peter was very fond of attending court. All the lawyers
knew him, and wherever Peter went, the three little girls in his charge
went, too. Thus, with constant visits to the jail, courthouse, and my
father's office, I gleaned some idea of the danger of violating the law.

The great events of the year were the Christmas holidays, the Fourth of
July, and "general training," as the review of the county militia was
then called. The winter gala days are associated, in my memory, with
hanging up stockings and with turkeys, mince pies, sweet cider, and
sleighrides by moonlight. My earliest recollections of those happy days,
when schools were closed, books laid aside, and unusual liberties
allowed, center in that large cellar kitchen to which I have already
referred. There we spent many winter evenings in uninterrupted
enjoyment. A large fireplace with huge logs shed warmth and cheerfulness
around. In one corner sat Peter sawing his violin, while our youthful
neighbors danced with us and played blindman's buff almost every evening
during the vacation. The most interesting character in this game was a
black boy called Jacob (Peter's lieutenant), who made things lively for
us by always keeping one eye open--a wise precaution to guard himself
from danger, and to keep us on the jump. Hickory nuts, sweet cider, and
_olie-koeks_ (a Dutch name for a fried cake with raisins inside) were
our refreshments when there came a lull in the fun.

As St. Nicholas was supposed to come down the chimney, our stockings
were pinned on a broomstick, laid across two chairs in front of the
fireplace. We retired on Christmas Eve with the most pleasing
anticipations of what would be in our stockings next morning. The
thermometer in that latitude was often twenty degrees below zero, yet,
bright and early, we would run downstairs in our bare feet over the cold
floors to carry stockings, broom, etc., to the nursery. The gorgeous
presents that St. Nicholas now distributes show that he, too, has been
growing up with the country. The boys and girls of 1897 will laugh when
they hear of the contents of our stockings in 1823. There was a little
paper of candy, one of raisins, another, of nuts, a red apple, an
_olie-koek_, and a bright silver quarter of a dollar in the toe. If a
child had been guilty of any erratic performances during the year, which
was often my case, a long stick would protrude from the stocking; if
particularly good, an illustrated catechism or the New Testament would
appear, showing that the St. Nicholas of that time held decided views
on discipline and ethics.

During the day we would take a drive over the snow-clad hills and
valleys in a long red lumber sleigh. All the children it could hold made
the forests echo with their songs and laughter. The sleigh bells and
Peter's fine tenor voice added to the chorus seemed to chant, as we
passed, "Merry Christmas" to the farmers' children and to all we met on
the highway.

Returning home, we were allowed, as a great Christmas treat, to watch
all Peter's preparations for dinner. Attired in a white apron and
turban, holding in his hand a tin candlestick the size of a dinner
plate, containing a tallow candle, with stately step he marched into the
spacious cellar, with Jacob and three little girls dressed in red
flannel at his heels. As the farmers paid the interest on their
mortgages in barrels of pork, headcheese, poultry, eggs, and cider, the
cellars were well crowded for the winter, making the master of an
establishment quite indifferent to all questions of finance. We heard
nothing in those days of greenbacks, silver coinage, or a gold basis.
Laden with vegetables, butter, eggs, and a magnificent turkey, Peter and
his followers returned to the kitchen. There, seated on a big ironing
table, we watched the dressing and roasting of the bird in a tin oven in
front of the fire. Jacob peeled the vegetables, we all sang, and Peter
told us marvelous stories. For tea he made flapjacks, baked in a pan
with a long handle, which he turned by throwing the cake up and
skillfully catching it descending.

Peter was a devout Episcopalian and took great pleasure in helping the
young people decorate the church. He would take us with him and show us
how to make evergreen wreaths. Like Mary's lamb, where'er he went we
were sure to go. His love for us was unbounded and fully returned. He
was the only being, visible or invisible, of whom we had no fear. We
would go to divine service with Peter, Christmas morning and sit with
him by the door, in what was called "the negro pew." He was the only
colored member of the church and, after all the other communicants had
taken the sacrament, he went alone to the altar. Dressed in a new suit
of blue with gilt buttons, he looked like a prince, as, with head erect,
he walked up the aisle, the grandest specimen of manhood in the whole
congregation; and yet so strong was prejudice against color in 1823 that
no one would kneel beside him. On leaving us, on one of these occasions,
Peter told us all to sit still until he returned; but, no sooner had he
started, than the youngest of us slowly followed after him and seated
herself close beside him. As he came back, holding the child by the
hand, what a lesson it must have been to that prejudiced congregation!
The first time we entered the church together the sexton opened a white
man's pew for us, telling Peter to leave the Judge's children there.
"Oh," he said, "they will not stay there without me." But, as he could
not enter, we instinctively followed him to the negro pew.

Our next great fete was on the anniversary of the birthday of our
Republic. The festivities were numerous and protracted, beginning then,
as now, at midnight with bonfires and cannon; while the day was ushered
in with the ringing of bells, tremendous cannonading, and a continuous
popping of fire-crackers and torpedoes. Then a procession of soldiers
and citizens marched through the town, an oration was delivered, the
Declaration of Independence read, and a great dinner given in the open
air under the trees in the grounds of the old courthouse. Each toast was
announced with the booming of cannon. On these occasions Peter was in
his element, and showed us whatever he considered worth seeing; but I
cannot say that I enjoyed very much either "general training" or the
Fourth of July, for, in addition to my fear of cannon and torpedoes, my
sympathies were deeply touched by the sadness of our cook, whose drunken
father always cut antics in the streets on gala days, the central figure
in all the sports of the boys, much to the mortification of his worthy
daughter. She wept bitterly over her father's public exhibition of
himself, and told me in what a condition he would come home to his
family at night. I would gladly have stayed in with her all day, but the
fear of being called a coward compelled me to go through those trying
ordeals. As my nerves were all on the surface, no words can describe
what I suffered with those explosions, great and small, and my fears
lest King George and his minions should reappear among us. I thought
that, if he had done all the dreadful things stated in the Declaration
of '76, he might come again, burn our houses, and drive us all into the
street. Sir William Johnson's mansion of solid masonry, gloomy and
threatening, still stood in our neighborhood. I had seen the marks of
the Indian's tomahawk on the balustrades and heard of the bloody deeds
there enacted. For all the calamities of the nation I believed King
George responsible. At home and at school we were educated to hate the
English. When we remember that, every Fourth of July, the Declaration
was read with emphasis, and the orator of the day rounded all his
glowing periods with denunciations of the mother country, we need not
wonder at the national hatred of everything English. Our patriotism in
those early days was measured by our dislike of Great Britain.

In September occurred the great event, the review of the county militia,
popularly called "Training Day." Then everybody went to the race course
to see the troops and buy what the farmers had brought in their wagons.
There was a peculiar kind of gingerbread and molasses candy to which we
were treated on those occasions, associated in my mind to this day with
military reviews and standing armies.

Other pleasures were, roaming in the forests and sailing on the mill
pond. One day, when there were no boys at hand and several girls were
impatiently waiting for a sail on a raft, my sister and I volunteered to
man the expedition. We always acted on the assumption that what we had
seen done, we could do. Accordingly we all jumped on the raft, loosened
it from its moorings, and away we went with the current. Navigation on
that mill pond was performed with long poles, but, unfortunately, we
could not lift the poles, and we soon saw we were drifting toward the
dam. But we had the presence of mind to sit down and hold fast to the
raft. Fortunately, we went over right side up and gracefully glided down
the stream, until rescued by the ever watchful Peter. I did not hear the
last of that voyage for a long time. I was called the captain of the
expedition, and one of the boys wrote a composition, which he read in
school, describing the adventure and emphasizing the ignorance of the
laws of navigation shown by the officers in command. I shed tears many
times over that performance.



When I was eleven years old, two events occurred which changed
considerably the current of my life. My only brother, who had just
graduated from Union College, came home to die. A young man of great
talent and promise, he was the pride of my father's heart. We early felt
that this son filled a larger place in our father's affections and
future plans than the five daughters together. Well do I remember how
tenderly he watched my brother in his last illness, the sighs and tears
he gave vent to as he slowly walked up and down the hall, and, when the
last sad moment came, and we were all assembled to say farewell in the
silent chamber of death, how broken were his utterances as he knelt and
prayed for comfort and support. I still recall, too, going into the
large darkened parlor to see my brother, and finding the casket,
mirrors, and pictures all draped in white, and my father seated by his
side, pale and immovable. As he took no notice of me, after standing a
long while, I climbed upon his knee, when he mechanically put his arm
about me and, with my head resting against his beating heart, we both
sat in silence, he thinking of the wreck of all his hopes in the loss of
a dear son, and I wondering what could be said or done to fill the void
in his breast. At length he heaved a deep sigh and said: "Oh, my
daughter, I wish you were a boy!" Throwing my arms about his neck, I
replied: "I will try to be all my brother was."

CADY.] Then and there I resolved that I would not give so much time as
heretofore to play, but would study and strive to be at the head of all
my classes and thus delight my father's heart. All that day and far into
the night I pondered the problem of boyhood. I thought that the chief
thing to be done in order to equal boys was to be learned and
courageous. So I decided to study Greek and learn to manage a horse.
Having formed this conclusion I fell asleep. My resolutions, unlike many
such made at night, did not vanish with the coming light. I arose early
and hastened to put them into execution. They were resolutions never to
be forgotten--destined to mold my character anew. As soon as I was
dressed I hastened to our good pastor, Rev. Simon Hosack, who was always
early at work in his garden.

"Doctor," said I, "which do you like best, boys or girls?"

"Why, girls, to be sure; I would not give you for all the boys in

"My father," I replied, "prefers boys; he wishes I was one, and I intend
to be as near like one as possible. I am going to ride on horseback and
study Greek. Will you give me a Greek lesson now, doctor? I want to
begin at once."

"Yes, child," said he, throwing down his hoe, "come into my library and
we will begin without delay."

He entered fully into the feeling of suffering and sorrow which took
possession of me when I discovered that a girl weighed less in the scale
of being than a boy, and he praised my determination to prove the
contrary. The old grammar which he had studied in the University of
Glasgow was soon in my hands, and the Greek article was learned before

Then came the sad pageantry of death, the weeping of friends, the dark
rooms, the ghostly stillness, the exhortation to the living to prepare
for death, the solemn prayer, the mournful chant, the funeral cortege,
the solemn, tolling bell, the burial. How I suffered during those sad
days! What strange undefined fears of the unknown took possession of me!
For months afterward, at the twilight hour, I went with my father to the
new-made grave. Near it stood two tall poplar trees, against one of
which I leaned, while my father threw himself on the grave, with
outstretched arms, as if to embrace his child. At last the frosts and
storms of November came and threw a chilling barrier between the living
and the dead, and we went there no more.

During all this time I kept up my lessons at the parsonage and made
rapid progress. I surprised even my teacher, who thought me capable of
doing anything. I learned to drive, and to leap a fence and ditch on
horseback. I taxed every power, hoping some day to hear my father say:
"Well, a girl is as good as a boy, after all." But he never said it.
When the doctor came over to spend the evening with us, I would whisper
in his ear: "Tell my father how fast I get on," and he would tell him,
and was lavish in his praises. But my father only paced the room,
sighed, and showed that he wished I were a boy; and I, not knowing why
he felt thus, would hide my tears of vexation on the doctor's shoulder.

Soon after this I began to study Latin, Greek, and mathematics with a
class of boys in the Academy, many of whom were much older than I. For
three years one boy kept his place at the head of the class, and I
always stood next. Two prizes were offered in Greek. I strove for one
and took the second. How well I remember my joy in receiving that prize.
There was no sentiment of ambition, rivalry, or triumph over my
companions, nor feeling of satisfaction in receiving this honor in the
presence of those assembled on the day of the exhibition. One thought
alone filled my mind. "Now," said I, "my father will be satisfied with
me." So, as soon as we were dismissed, I ran down the hill, rushed
breathless into his office, laid the new Greek Testament, which was my
prize, on his table and exclaimed: "There, I got it!" He took up the
book, asked me some questions about the class, the teachers, the
spectators, and, evidently pleased, handed it back to me. Then, while I
stood looking and waiting for him to say something which would show that
he recognized the equality of the daughter with the son, he kissed me on
the forehead and exclaimed, with a sigh, "Ah, you should have been a

My joy was turned to sadness. I ran to my good doctor. He chased my
bitter tears away, and soothed me with unbounded praises and visions of
future success. He was then confined to the house with his last illness.
He asked me that day if I would like to have, when he was gone, the old
lexicon, Testament, and grammar that we had so often thumbed together.
"Yes, but I would rather have you stay," I replied, "for what can I do
when you are gone?" "Oh," said he tenderly, "I shall not be gone; my
spirit will still be with you, watching you in all life's struggles."
Noble, generous friend! He had but little on earth to bequeath to
anyone, but when the last scene in his life was ended, and his will was
opened, sure enough there was a clause saying: "My Greek lexicon,
Testament, and grammar, and four volumes of Scott's commentaries, I will
to Elizabeth Cady." I never look at these books without a feeling of
thankfulness that in childhood I was blessed with such a friend and

I can truly say, after an experience of seventy years, that all the
cares and anxieties, the trials and disappointments of my whole life,
are light, when balanced with my sufferings in childhood and youth from
the theological dogmas which I sincerely believed, and the gloom
connected with everything associated with the name of religion, the
church, the parsonage, the graveyard, and the solemn, tolling bell.
Everything connected with death was then rendered inexpressibly
dolorous. The body, covered with a black pall, was borne on the
shoulders of men; the mourners were in crape and walked with bowed
heads, while the neighbors who had tears to shed, did so copiously and
summoned up their saddest facial expressions. At the grave came the
sober warnings to the living and sometimes frightful prophesies as to
the state of the dead. All this pageantry of woe and visions of the
unknown land beyond the tomb, often haunted my midnight dreams and
shadowed the sunshine of my days. The parsonage, with its bare walls and
floors, its shriveled mistress and her blind sister, more like ghostly
shadows than human flesh and blood; the two black servants, racked with
rheumatism and odoriferous with a pungent oil they used in the vain hope
of making their weary limbs more supple; the aged parson buried in his
library in the midst of musty books and papers--all this only added to
the gloom of my surroundings. The church, which was bare, with no
furnace to warm us, no organ to gladden our hearts, no choir to lead our
songs of praise in harmony, was sadly lacking in all attractions for the
youthful mind. The preacher, shut up in an octagonal box high above our
heads, gave us sermons over an hour long, and the chorister, in a
similar box below him, intoned line after line of David's Psalms, while,
like a flock of sheep at the heels of their shepherd, the congregation,
without regard to time or tune, straggled after their leader.

Years later, the introduction of stoves, a violoncello, Wesley's hymns,
and a choir split the church in twain. These old Scotch Presbyterians
were opposed to all innovations that would afford their people paths of
flowery ease on the road to Heaven. So, when the thermometer was twenty
degrees below zero on the Johnstown Hills, four hundred feet above the
Mohawk Valley, we trudged along through the snow, foot-stoves in hand,
to the cold hospitalities of the "Lord's House," there to be chilled to
the very core by listening to sermons on "predestination,"
"justification by faith," and "eternal damnation."

To be restless, or to fall asleep under such solemn circumstances was a
sure evidence of total depravity, and of the machinations of the devil
striving to turn one's heart from God and his ordinances. As I was
guilty of these shortcomings and many more, I early believed myself a
veritable child of the Evil One, and suffered endless fears lest he
should come some night and claim me as his own. To me he was a personal,
ever-present reality, crouching in a dark corner of the nursery. Ah! how
many times I have stolen out of bed, and sat shivering on the stairs,
where the hall lamp and the sound of voices from the parlor would, in a
measure, mitigate my terror. Thanks to a vigorous constitution and
overflowing animal spirits, I was able to endure for years the strain of
these depressing influences, until my reasoning powers and common sense
triumphed at last over my imagination. The memory of my own suffering
has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with any of the
superstitions of the Christian religion. But there have been many
changes, even in my native town, since those dark days. Our old church
was turned into a mitten factory, and the pleasant hum of machinery and
the glad faces of men and women have chased the evil spirits to their
hiding places. One finds at Johnstown now, beautiful churches,
ornamented cemeteries, and cheerful men and women, quite emancipated
from the nonsense and terrors of the old theologies.

An important event in our family circle was the marriage of my oldest
sister, Tryphena, to Edward Bayard of Wilmington, Delaware. He was a
graduate of Union College, a classmate of my brother, and frequently
visited at my father's house. At the end of his college course, he came
with his brother Henry to study law in Johnstown. A quiet, retired
little village was thought to be a good place in which to sequester
young men bent on completing their education, as they were there safe
from the temptations and distracting influences of large cities. In
addition to this consideration, my father's reputation made his office a
desirable resort for students, who, furthermore, not only improved their
opportunities by reading Blackstone, Kent, and Story, but also by making
love to the Judge's daughters. We thus had the advantage of many
pleasant acquaintances from the leading families in the country, and, in
this way, it was that four of the sisters eventually selected most
worthy husbands.

Though only twenty-one years of age when married, Edward Bayard was a
tall, fully developed man, remarkably fine looking, with cultivated
literary taste and a profound knowledge of human nature. Warm and
affectionate, generous to a fault in giving and serving, he was soon a
great favorite in the family, and gradually filled the void made in all
our hearts by the loss of the brother and son.

My father was so fully occupied with the duties of his profession, which
often called him from home, and my mother so weary with the cares of a
large family, having had ten children, though only five survived at this
time, that they were quite willing to shift their burdens to younger
shoulders. Our eldest sister and her husband, therefore, soon became our
counselors and advisers. They selected our clothing, books, schools,
acquaintances, and directed our reading and amusements. Thus the reins
of domestic government, little by little, passed into their hands, and
the family arrangements were in a manner greatly improved in favor of
greater liberty for the children.

The advent of Edward and Henry Bayard was an inestimable blessing to us.
With them came an era of picnics, birthday parties, and endless
amusements; the buying of pictures, fairy books, musical instruments and
ponies, and frequent excursions with parties on horseback. Fresh from
college, they made our lessons in Latin, Greek, and mathematics so easy
that we studied with real pleasure and had more leisure for play. Henry
Bayard's chief pleasures were walking, riding, and playing all manner of
games, from jack-straws to chess, with the three younger sisters, and we
have often said that the three years he passed in Johnstown were the
most delightful of our girlhood.

Immediately after the death of my brother, a journey was planned to
visit our grandmother Cady, who lived in Canaan, Columbia County, about
twenty miles from Albany. My two younger sisters and myself had never
been outside of our own county before, and the very thought of a journey
roused our enthusiasm to the highest pitch. On a bright day in September
we started, packed in two carriages. We were wild with delight as we
drove down the Mohawk Valley, with its beautiful river and its many
bridges and ferryboats. When we reached Schenectady, the first city we
had ever seen, we stopped to dine at the old Given's Hotel, where we
broke loose from all the moorings of propriety on beholding the paper on
the dining-room wall, illustrating in brilliant colors the great events
in sacred history. There were the Patriarchs, with flowing beards and in
gorgeous attire; Abraham, offering up Isaac; Joseph, with his coat of
many colors, thrown into a pit by his brethren; Noah's ark on an ocean
of waters; Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; Rebecca at the well, and
Moses in the bulrushes. All these distinguished personages were familiar
to us, and to see them here for the first time in living colors, made
silence and eating impossible. We dashed around the room, calling to
each other: "Oh, Kate, look here!" "Oh, Madge, look there!" "See little
Moses!" "See the angels on Jacob's ladder!" Our exclamations could not
be kept within bounds. The guests were amused beyond description, while
my mother and elder sisters were equally mortified; but Mr. Bayard, who
appreciated our childish surprise and delight, smiled and said: "I'll
take them around and show them the pictures, and then they will be able
to dine," which we finally did.

On our way to Albany we were forced to listen to no end of dissertations
on manners, and severe criticisms on our behavior at the hotel, but we
were too happy and astonished with all we saw to take a subjective view
of ourselves. Even Peter in his new livery, who had not seen much more
than we had, while looking out of the corners of his eyes, maintained a
quiet dignity and conjured us "not to act as if we had just come out of
the woods and had never seen anything before." However, there are
conditions in the child soul in which repression is impossible, when the
mind takes in nothing but its own enjoyment, and when even the sense of
hearing is lost in that of sight. The whole party awoke to that fact at
last. Children are not actors. We never had experienced anything like
this journey, and how could we help being surprised and delighted?

When we drove into Albany, the first large city we had ever visited, we
exclaimed, "Why, it's general training, here!" We had acquired our ideas
of crowds from our country militia reviews. Fortunately, there was no
pictorial wall paper in the old City Hotel. But the decree had gone
forth that, on the remainder of the journey, our meals would be served
in a private room, with Peter to wait on us. This seemed like going back
to the nursery days and was very humiliating. But eating, even there,
was difficult, as we could hear the band from the old museum, and, as
our windows opened on the street, the continual panorama of people and
carriages passing by was quite as enticing as the Bible scenes in
Schenectady. In the evening we walked around to see the city lighted, to
look into the shop windows, and to visit the museum. The next morning we
started for Canaan, our enthusiasm still unabated, though strong hopes
were expressed that we would be toned down with the fatigues of the
first day's journey.

The large farm with its cattle, sheep, hens, ducks, turkeys, and geese;
its creamery, looms, and spinning wheel; its fruits and vegetables; the
drives among the grand old hills; the blessed old grandmother, and the
many aunts, uncles, and cousins to kiss, all this kept us still in a
whirlpool of excitement. Our joy bubbled over of itself; it was beyond
our control. After spending a delightful week at Canaan, we departed,
with an addition to our party, much to Peter's disgust, of a bright,
coal-black boy of fifteen summers. Peter kept grumbling that he had
children enough to look after already, but, as the boy was handsome and
intelligent, could read, write, play on the jewsharp and banjo, sing,
dance, and stand on his head, we were charmed with this new-found
treasure, who proved later to be a great family blessing. We were less
vivacious on the return trip. Whether this was due to Peter's untiring
efforts to keep us within bounds, or whether the novelty of the journey
was in a measure gone, it is difficult to determine, but we evidently
were not so buoyant and were duly complimented on our good behavior.

When we reached home and told our village companions what we had seen in
our extensive travels (just seventy miles from home) they were filled
with wonder, and we became heroines in their estimation. After this we
took frequent journeys to Saratoga, the Northern Lakes, Utica, and
Peterboro, but were never again so entirely swept from our feet as with
the biblical illustrations in the dining room of the old Given's Hotel.

As my father's office joined the house, I spent there much of my time,
when out of school, listening to the clients stating their cases,
talking with the students, and reading the laws in regard to woman. In
our Scotch neighborhood many men still retained the old feudal ideas of
women and property. Fathers, at their death, would will the bulk of
their property to the eldest son, with the proviso that the mother was
to have a home with him. Hence it was not unusual for the mother, who
had brought all the property into the family, to be made an unhappy
dependent on the bounty of an uncongenial daughter-in-law and a
dissipated son. The tears and complaints of the women who came to my
father for legal advice touched my heart and early drew my attention to
the injustice and cruelty of the laws. As the practice of the law was my
father's business, I could not exactly understand why he could not
alleviate the sufferings of these women. So, in order to enlighten me,
he would take down his books and show me the inexorable statutes. The
students, observing my interest, would amuse themselves by reading to me
all the worst laws they could find, over which I would laugh and cry by
turns. One Christmas morning I went into the office to show them, among
other of my presents, a new coral necklace and bracelets. They all
admired the jewelry and then began to tease me with hypothetical cases
of future ownership. "Now," said Henry Bayard, "if in due time you
should be my wife, those ornaments would be mine; I could take them and
lock them up, and you could never wear them except with my permission. I
could even exchange them for a box of cigars, and you could watch them
evaporate in smoke."

With this constant bantering from students and the sad complaints of the
women, my mind was sorely perplexed. So when, from time to time, my
attention was called to these odious laws, I would mark them with a
pencil, and becoming more and more convinced of the necessity of taking
some active measures against these unjust provisions, I resolved to
seize the first opportunity, when alone in the office, to cut every one
of them out of the books; supposing my father and his library were the
beginning and the end of the law. However, this mutilation of his
volumes was never accomplished, for dear old Flora Campbell, to whom I
confided my plan for the amelioration of the wrongs of my unhappy sex,
warned my father of what I proposed to do. Without letting me know that
he had discovered my secret, he explained to me one evening how laws
were made, the large number of lawyers and libraries there were all over
the State, and that if his library should burn up it would make no
difference in woman's condition. "When you are grown up, and able to
prepare a speech," said he, "you must go down to Albany and talk to the
legislators; tell them all you have seen in this office--the sufferings
of these Scotchwomen, robbed of their inheritance and left dependent on
their unworthy sons, and, if you can persuade them to pass new laws, the
old ones will be a dead letter." Thus was the future object of my life
foreshadowed and my duty plainly outlined by him who was most opposed
to my public career when, in due time, I entered upon it.

Until I was sixteen years old, I was a faithful student in the Johnstown
Academy with a class of boys. Though I was the only girl in the higher
classes of mathematics and the languages, yet, in our plays, all the
girls and boys mingled freely together. In running races, sliding
downhill, and snowballing, we made no distinction of sex. True, the boys
would carry the school books and pull the sleighs up hill for their
favorite girls, but equality was the general basis of our school
relations. I dare say the boys did not make their snowballs quite so
hard when pelting the girls, nor wash their faces with the same
vehemence as they did each other's, but there was no public evidence of
partiality. However, if any boy was too rough or took advantage of a
girl smaller than himself, he was promptly thrashed by his fellows.
There was an unwritten law and public sentiment in that little Academy
world that enabled us to study and play together with the greatest
freedom and harmony.

From the academy the boys of my class went to Union College at
Schenectady. When those with whom I had studied and contended for prizes
for five years came to bid me good-by, and I learned of the barrier that
prevented me from following in their footsteps--"no girls admitted
here"--my vexation and mortification knew no bounds. I remember, now,
how proud and handsome the boys looked in their new clothes, as they
jumped into the old stage coach and drove off, and how lonely I felt
when they were gone and I had nothing to do, for the plans for my future
were yet undetermined. Again I felt more keenly than ever the
humiliation of the distinctions made on the ground of sex.

My time was now occupied with riding on horseback, studying the game of
chess, and continually squabbling with the law students over the rights
of women. Something was always coming up in the experiences of everyday
life, or in the books we were reading, to give us fresh topics for
argument. They would read passages from the British classics quite as
aggravating as the laws. They delighted in extracts from Shakespeare,
especially from "The Taming of the Shrew," an admirable satire in itself
on the old common law of England. I hated Petruchio as if he were a real
man. Young Bayard would recite with unction the famous reply of Milton's
ideal woman to Adam: "God thy law, thou mine." The Bible, too, was
brought into requisition. In fact it seemed to me that every book taught
the "divinely ordained" headship of man; but my mind never yielded to
this popular heresy.



Mrs. Willard's Seminary at Troy was the fashionable school in my
girlhood, and in the winter of 1830, with upward of a hundred other
girls, I found myself an active participant in all the joys and sorrows
of that institution. When in family council it was decided to send me to
that intellectual Mecca, I did not receive the announcement with unmixed
satisfaction, as I had fixed my mind on Union College. The thought of a
school without boys, who had been to me such a stimulus both in study
and play, seemed to my imagination dreary and profitless.

The one remarkable feature of my journey to Troy was the railroad from
Schenectady to Albany, the first ever laid in this country. The manner
of ascending a high hill going out of the city would now strike
engineers as stupid to the last degree. The passenger cars were pulled
up by a train, loaded with stones, descending the hill. The more
rational way of tunneling through the hill or going around it had not
yet dawned on our Dutch ancestors. At every step of my journey to Troy I
felt that I was treading on my pride, and thus in a hopeless frame of
mind I began my boarding-school career. I had already studied everything
that was taught there except French, music, and dancing, so I devoted
myself to these accomplishments. As I had a good voice I enjoyed
singing, with a guitar accompaniment, and, having a good ear for time, I
appreciated the harmony in music and motion and took great delight in
dancing. The large house, the society of so many girls, the walks about
the city, the novelty of everything made the new life more enjoyable
than I had anticipated. To be sure I missed the boys, with whom I had
grown up, played with for years, and later measured my intellectual
powers with, but, as they became a novelty, there was new zest in
occasionally seeing them. After I had been there a short time, I heard a
call one day: "Heads out!" I ran with the rest and exclaimed, "What is
it?" expecting to see a giraffe or some other wonder from Barnum's
Museum. "Why, don't you see those boys?" said one. "Oh," I replied, "is
that all? I have seen boys all my life." When visiting family friends in
the city, we were in the way of making the acquaintance of their sons,
and as all social relations were strictly forbidden, there was a new
interest in seeing them. As they were not allowed to call upon us or
write notes, unless they were brothers or cousins, we had, in time, a
large number of kinsmen.

There was an intense interest to me now in writing notes, receiving
calls, and joining the young men in the streets for a walk, such as I
had never known when in constant association with them at school and in
our daily amusements. Shut up with girls, most of them older than
myself, I heard many subjects discussed of which I had never thought
before, and in a manner it were better I had never heard. The healthful
restraint always existing between boys and girls in conversation is apt
to be relaxed with either sex alone. In all my intimate association with
boys up to that period, I cannot recall one word or act for criticism,
but I cannot say the same of the girls during the three years I passed
at the seminary in Troy. My own experience proves to me that it is a
grave mistake to send boys and girls to separate institutions of
learning, especially at the most impressible age. The stimulus of sex
promotes alike a healthy condition of the intellectual and the moral
faculties and gives to both a development they never can acquire alone.

Mrs. Willard, having spent several months in Europe, did not return
until I had been at the seminary some time. I well remember her arrival,
and the joy with which she was greeted by the teachers and pupils who
had known her before. She was a splendid-looking woman, then in her
prime, and fully realized my idea of a queen. I doubt whether any royal
personage in the Old World could have received her worshipers with more
grace and dignity than did this far-famed daughter of the Republic. She
was one of the remarkable women of that period, and did a great
educational work for her sex. She gave free scholarships to a large
number of promising girls, fitting them for teachers, with a proviso
that, when the opportunity arose, they should, in turn, educate others.

I shall never forget one incident that occasioned me much unhappiness. I
had written a very amusing composition, describing my room. A friend
came in to see me just as I had finished it, and, as she asked me to
read it to her, I did so. She enjoyed it very much and proposed an
exchange. She said the rooms were all so nearly alike that, with a
little alteration, she could use it. Being very susceptible to flattery,
her praise of my production won a ready assent; but when I read her
platitudes I was sorry I had changed, and still more so in the

Those selected to prepare compositions read them before the whole
school. My friend's was received with great laughter and applause. The
one I read not only fell flat, but nearly prostrated me also. As soon as
I had finished, one of the young ladies left the room and, returning in
a few moments with her composition book, laid it before the teacher who
presided that day, showing her the same composition I had just read. I
was called up at once to explain, but was so amazed and confounded that
I could not speak, and I looked the personification of guilt. I saw at a
glance the contemptible position I occupied and felt as if the last day
had come, that I stood before the judgment seat and had heard the awful
sentence pronounced, "Depart ye wicked into everlasting punishment." How
I escaped from that scene to my own room I do not know. I was too
wretched for tears. I sat alone for a long time when a gentle tap
announced my betrayer. She put her arms around me affectionately and
kissed me again and again.

"Oh!" she said, "you are a hero. You went through that trying ordeal
like a soldier. I was so afraid, when you were pressed with questions,
that the whole truth would come out and I be forced to stand in your
place. I am not so brave as you; I could not endure it. Now that you are
through it and know how bitter a trial it is, promise that you will save
me from the same experience. You are so good and noble I know you will
not betray me."

In this supreme moment of misery and disgrace, her loving words and warm
embrace were like balm to my bruised soul and I readily promised all
she asked. The girl had penetrated the weak point in my character. I
loved flattery. Through that means she got my composition in the first
place, pledged me to silence in the second place, and so confused my
moral perceptions that I really thought it praiseworthy to shelter her
from what I had suffered. However, without betrayal on my part, the
trick came to light through the very means she took to make concealment
sure. After compositions were read they were handed over to a certain
teacher for criticism. Miss ---- had copied mine, and returned to me the
original. I had not copied hers, so the two were in the same
handwriting--one with my name outside and one with Miss ----'s.

As I stood well in school, both for scholarship and behavior, my sudden
fall from grace occasioned no end of discussion. So, as soon as the
teacher discovered the two compositions in Miss ----'s writing, she came
to me to inquire how I got one of Miss ----'s compositions. She said,
"Where is yours that you wrote for that day?"

Taking it from my portfolio, I replied, "Here it is."

She then asked, "Did you copy it from her book?"

I replied, "No; I wrote it myself."

"Then why did you not read your own?"

"We agreed to change," said I.

"Did you know that Miss ---- had copied that from the book of another
young lady?"

"No, not until I was accused of doing it myself before the whole

"Why did you not defend yourself on the spot?"

"I could not speak, neither did I know what to say."

"Why have you allowed yourself to remain in such a false position for a
whole week?"

"I do not know."

"Suppose I had not found this out, did you intend to keep silent?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Did Miss ---- ask you to do so?"


I had been a great favorite with this teacher, but she was so disgusted
with my stupidity, as she called my timidity, that she said:

"Really, my child, you have not acted in this matter as if you had
ordinary common sense."

So little do grown people, in familiar surroundings, appreciate the
confusion of a child's faculties, under new and trying experiences. When
poor Miss ----'s turn came to stand up before the whole school and take
the burden on her own shoulders she had so cunningly laid on mine, I
readily shed the tears for her I could not summon for myself. This was
my first sad lesson in human duplicity.

This episode, unfortunately, destroyed in a measure my confidence in my
companions and made me suspicious even of those who came to me with
appreciative words. Up to this time I had accepted all things as they
seemed on the surface. Now I began to wonder what lay behind the visible
conditions about me. Perhaps the experience was beneficial, as it is
quite necessary for a young girl, thrown wholly on herself for the first
time among strangers, to learn caution in all she says and does. The
atmosphere of home life, where all disguises and pretensions are thrown
off, is quite different from a large school of girls, with the petty
jealousies and antagonisms that arise in daily competition in their
dress, studies, accomplishments, and amusements.

The next happening in Troy that seriously influenced my character was
the advent of the Rev. Charles G. Finney, a pulpit orator, who, as a
terrifier of human souls, proved himself the equal of Savonarola. He
held a protracted meeting in the Rev. Dr. Beaman's church, which many of
my schoolmates attended. The result of six weeks of untiring effort on
the part of Mr. Finney and his confreres was one of those intense
revival seasons that swept over the city and through the seminary like
an epidemic, attacking in its worst form the most susceptible. Owing to
my gloomy Calvinistic training in the old Scotch Presbyterian church,
and my vivid imagination, I was one of the first victims. We attended
all the public services, beside the daily prayer and experience meetings
held in the seminary. Our studies, for the time, held a subordinate
place to the more important duty of saving our souls.

To state the idea of conversion and salvation as then understood, one
can readily see from our present standpoint that nothing could be more
puzzling and harrowing to the young mind. The revival fairly started,
the most excitable were soon on the anxious seat. There we learned the
total depravity of human nature and the sinner's awful danger of
everlasting punishment. This was enlarged upon until the most innocent
girl believed herself a monster of iniquity and felt certain of eternal
damnation. Then God's hatred of sin was emphasized and his
irreconcilable position toward the sinner so justified that one felt
like a miserable, helpless, forsaken worm of the dust in trying to
approach him, even in prayer.

Having brought you into a condition of profound humility, the only
cardinal virtue for one under conviction, in the depths of your despair
you were told that it required no herculean effort on your part to be
transformed into an angel, to be reconciled to God, to escape endless
perdition. The way to salvation was short and simple. We had naught to
do but to repent and believe and give our hearts to Jesus, who was ever
ready to receive them. How to do all this was the puzzling question.
Talking with Dr. Finney one day, I said:

"I cannot understand what I am to do. If you should tell me to go to the
top of the church steeple and jump off, I would readily do it, if
thereby I could save my soul; but I do not know how to go to Jesus."

"Repent and believe," said he, "that is all you have to do to be happy
here and hereafter."

"I am very sorry," I replied, "for all the evil I have done, and I
believe all you tell me, and the more sincerely I believe, the more
unhappy I am."

With the natural reaction from despair to hope many of us imagined
ourselves converted, prayed and gave our experiences in the meetings,
and at times rejoiced in the thought that we were Christians--chosen
children of God--rather than sinners and outcasts.

But Dr. Finney's terrible anathemas on the depravity and deceitfulness
of the human heart soon shortened our newborn hopes. His appearance in
the pulpit on these memorable occasions is indelibly impressed on my
mind. I can see him now, his great eyes rolling around the congregation
and his arms flying about in the air like those of a windmill. One
evening he described hell and the devil and the long procession of
sinners being swept down the rapids, about to make the awful plunge
into the burning depths of liquid fire below, and the rejoicing hosts in
the inferno coming up to meet them with the shouts of the devils echoing
through the vaulted arches. He suddenly halted, and, pointing his index
finger at the supposed procession, he exclaimed:

"There, do you not see them!"

I was wrought up to such a pitch that I actually jumped up and gazed in
the direction to which he pointed, while the picture glowed before my
eyes and remained with me for months afterward. I cannot forbear saying
that, although high respect is due to the intellectual, moral, and
spiritual gifts of the venerable ex-president of Oberlin College, such
preaching worked incalculable harm to the very souls he sought to save.
Fear of the judgment seized my soul. Visions of the lost haunted my
dreams. Mental anguish prostrated my health. Dethronement of my reason
was apprehended by friends. But he was sincere, so peace to his ashes!
Returning home, I often at night roused my father from his slumbers to
pray for me, lest I should be cast into the bottomless pit before

To change the current of my thoughts, a trip was planned to Niagara, and
it was decided that the subject of religion was to be tabooed
altogether. Accordingly our party, consisting of my sister, her husband,
my father and myself, started in our private carriage, and for six weeks
I heard nothing on the subject. About this time Gall and Spurzheim
published their works on phrenology, followed by Combe's "Constitution
of Man," his "Moral Philosophy," and many other liberal works, all so
rational and opposed to the old theologies that they produced a profound
impression on my brother-in-law's mind. As we had these books with us,
reading and discussing by the way, we all became deeply interested in
the new ideas. Thus, after many months of weary wandering in the
intellectual labyrinth of "The Fall of Man," "Original Sin," "Total
Depravity," "God's Wrath," "Satan's Triumph," "The Crucifixion," "The
Atonement," and "Salvation by Faith," I found my way out of the darkness
into the clear sunlight of Truth. My religious superstitions gave place
to rational ideas based on scientific facts, and in proportion, as I
looked at everything from a new standpoint, I grew more and more happy,
day by day. Thus, with a delightful journey in the month of June, an
entire change in my course of reading and the current of my thoughts, my
mind was restored to its normal condition. I view it as one of the
greatest crimes to shadow the minds of the young with these gloomy
superstitions; and with fears of the unknown and the unknowable to
poison all their joy in life.

After the restraints of childhood at home and in school, what a period
of irrepressible joy and freedom comes to us in girlhood with the first
taste of liberty. Then is our individuality in a measure recognized and
our feelings and opinions consulted; then we decide where and when we
will come and go, what we will eat, drink, wear, and do. To suit one's
own fancy in clothes, to buy what one likes, and wear what one chooses
is a great privilege to most young people. To go out at pleasure, to
walk, to ride, to drive, with no one to say us nay or question our right
to liberty, this is indeed like a birth into a new world of happiness
and freedom. This is the period, too, when the emotions rule us, and we
idealize everything in life; when love and hope make the present an
ecstasy and the future bright with anticipation.

Then comes that dream of bliss that for weeks and months throws a halo
of glory round the most ordinary characters in every-day life, holding
the strongest and most common-sense young men and women in a thraldom
from which few mortals escape. The period when love, in soft silver
tones, whispers his first words of adoration, painting our graces and
virtues day by day in living colors in poetry and prose, stealthily
punctuated ever and anon with a kiss or fond embrace. What dignity it
adds to a young girl's estimate of herself when some strong man makes
her feel that in her hands rest his future peace and happiness! Though
these seasons of intoxication may come once to all, yet they are seldom
repeated. How often in after life we long for one more such rapturous
dream of bliss, one more season of supreme human love and passion!

After leaving school, until my marriage, I had the most pleasant years
of my girlhood. With frequent visits to a large circle of friends and
relatives in various towns and cities, the monotony of home life was
sufficiently broken to make our simple country pleasures always
delightful and enjoyable. An entirely new life now opened to me. The old
bondage of fear of the visible and the invisible was broken and, no
longer subject to absolute authority, I rejoiced in the dawn of a new
day of freedom in thought and action.

My brother-in-law, Edward Bayard, ten years my senior, was an
inestimable blessing to me at this time, especially as my mind was just
then opening to the consideration of all the varied problems of life. To
me and my sisters he was a companion in all our amusements, a teacher
in the higher departments of knowledge, and a counselor in all our
youthful trials and disappointments. He was of a metaphysical turn of
mind, and in the pursuit of truth was in no way trammeled by popular
superstitions. He took nothing for granted and, like Socrates, went
about asking questions. Nothing pleased him more than to get a bevy of
bright young girls about him and teach them how to think clearly and
reason logically.

One great advantage of the years my sisters and myself spent at the Troy
Seminary was the large number of pleasant acquaintances we made there,
many of which ripened into lifelong friendships. From time to time many
of our classmates visited us, and all alike enjoyed the intellectual
fencing in which my brother-in-law drilled them. He discoursed with us
on law, philosophy, political economy, history, and poetry, and together
we read novels without number. The long winter evenings thus passed
pleasantly, Mr. Bayard alternately talking and reading aloud Scott,
Bulwer, James, Cooper, and Dickens, whose works were just then coming
out in numbers from week to week, always leaving us in suspense at the
most critical point of the story. Our readings were varied with
recitations, music, dancing, and games.

As we all enjoyed brisk exercise, even with the thermometer below zero,
we took long walks and sleighrides during the day, and thus the winter
months glided quickly by, while the glorious summer on those blue hills
was a period of unmixed enjoyment. At this season we arose at five in
the morning for a long ride on horseback through the beautiful Mohawk
Valley and over the surrounding hills. Every road and lane in that
region was as familiar to us and our ponies, as were the trees to the
squirrels we frightened as we cantered by their favorite resorts.

Part of the time Margaret Christie, a young girl of Scotch descent, was
a member of our family circle. She taught us French, music, and dancing.
Our days were too short for all we had to do, for our time was not
wholly given to pleasure. We were required to keep our rooms in order,
mend and make our clothes, and do our own ironing. The latter was one of
my mother's politic requirements, to make our laundry lists as short as

Ironing on hot days in summer was a sore trial to all of us; but Miss
Christie, being of an inventive turn of mind, soon taught us a short way
out of it. She folded and smoothed her undergarments with her hands and
then sat on them for a specified time. We all followed her example and
thus utilized the hours devoted to our French lessons and, while reading
"Corinne" and "Telemaque," in this primitive style we ironed our
clothes. But for dresses, collars and cuffs, and pocket handkerchiefs,
we were compelled to wield the hot iron, hence with these articles we
used all due economy, and my mother's object was thus accomplished.

As I had become sufficiently philosophical to talk over my religious
experiences calmly with my classmates who had been with me through the
Finney revival meetings, we all came to the same conclusion--that we had
passed through no remarkable change and that we had not been born again,
as they say, for we found our tastes and enjoyments the same as ever. My
brother-in-law explained to us the nature of the delusion we had all
experienced, the physical conditions, the mental processes, the church
machinery by which such excitements are worked up, and the impositions
to which credulous minds are necessarily subjected. As we had all been
through that period of depression and humiliation, and had been
oppressed at times with the feeling that all our professions were arrant
hypocrisy and that our last state was worse than our first, he helped us
to understand these workings of the human mind and reconciled us to the
more rational condition in which we now found ourselves. He never grew
weary of expounding principles to us and dissipating the fogs and mists
that gather over young minds educated in an atmosphere of superstition.

We had a constant source of amusement and vexation in the students in my
father's office. A succession of them was always coming fresh from
college and full of conceit. Aching to try their powers of debate on
graduates from the Troy Seminary, they politely questioned all our
theories and assertions. However, with my brother-in-law's training in
analysis and logic, we were a match for any of them. Nothing pleased me
better than a long argument with them on woman's equality, which I tried
to prove by a diligent study of the books they read and the games they
played. I confess that I did not study so much for a love of the truth
or my own development, in these days, as to make those young men
recognize my equality. I soon noticed that, after losing a few games of
chess, my opponent talked less of masculine superiority. Sister Madge
would occasionally rush to the defense with an emphatic "Fudge for these
laws, all made by men! I'll never obey one of them. And as to the
students with their impertinent talk of superiority, all they need is
such a shaking up as I gave the most disagreeable one yesterday. I
invited him to take a ride on horseback. He accepted promptly, and said
he would be most happy to go. Accordingly I told Peter to saddle the
toughest-mouthed, hardest-trotting carriage horse in the stable. Mounted
on my swift pony, I took a ten-mile canter as fast as I could go, with
that superior being at my heels calling, as he found breath, for me to
stop, which I did at last and left him in the hands of Peter, half dead
at his hotel, where he will be laid out, with all his marvelous
masculine virtues, for a week at least. Now do not waste your arguments
on these prigs from Union College. Take each, in turn, the ten-miles'
circuit on 'Old Boney' and they'll have no breath left to prate of
woman's inferiority. You might argue with them all day, and you could
not make them feel so small as I made that popinjay feel in one hour. I
knew 'Old Boney' would keep up with me, if he died for it, and that my
escort could neither stop nor dismount, except by throwing himself from
the saddle."

"Oh, Madge!" I exclaimed; "what will you say when he meets you again?"

"If he complains, I will say 'the next time you ride see that you have a
curb bit before starting.' Surely, a man ought to know what is necessary
to manage a horse, and not expect a woman to tell him."

Our lives were still further varied and intensified by the usual number
of flirtations, so called, more or less lasting or evanescent, from all
of which I emerged, as from my religious experiences, in a more rational
frame of mind. We had been too much in the society of boys and young
gentlemen, and knew too well their real character, to idealize the sex
in general. In addition to our own observations, we had the advantage
of our brother-in-law's wisdom. Wishing to save us as long as possible
from all matrimonial entanglements, he was continually unveiling those
with whom he associated, and so critically portraying their intellectual
and moral condition that it was quite impossible, in our most worshipful
moods, to make gods of any of the sons of Adam.

However, in spite of all our own experiences and of all the warning
words of wisdom from those who had seen life in its many phases, we
entered the charmed circle at last, all but one marrying into the legal
profession, with its odious statute laws and infamous decisions. And
this, after reading Blackstone, Kent, and Story, and thoroughly
understanding the status of the wife under the old common law of
England, which was in force at that time in most of the States of the



The year, with us, was never considered complete without a visit to
Peterboro, N.Y., the home of Gerrit Smith. Though he was a reformer and
was very radical in many of his ideas, yet, being a man of broad
sympathies, culture, wealth, and position, he drew around him many
friends of the most conservative opinions. He was a man of fine
presence, rare physical beauty, most affable and courteous in manner,
and his hospitalities were generous to an extreme, and dispensed to all
classes of society.

Every year representatives from the Oneida tribe of Indians visited him.
His father had early purchased of them large tracts of land, and there
was a tradition among them that, as an equivalent for the good bargains
of the father, they had a right to the son's hospitality, with annual
gifts of clothing and provisions. The slaves, too, had heard of Gerrit
Smith, the abolitionist, and of Peterboro as one of the safe points _en
route_ for Canada. His mansion was, in fact, one of the stations on the
"underground railroad" for slaves escaping from bondage. Hence they,
too, felt that they had a right to a place under his protecting roof. On
such occasions the barn and the kitchen floor were utilized as chambers
for the black man from the southern plantation and the red man from his
home in the forest.

The spacious home was always enlivened with choice society from every
part of the country. There one would meet members of the families of the
old Dutch aristocracy, the Van Rensselaers, the Van Vechtens, the
Schuylers, the Livingstons, the Bleeckers, the Brinkerhoffs, the Ten
Eycks, the Millers, the Seymours, the Cochranes, the Biddles, the
Barclays, the Wendells, and many others.

As the lady of the house, Ann Carroll Fitzhugh, was the daughter of a
wealthy slaveholder of Maryland, many agreeable Southerners were often
among the guests. Our immediate family relatives were well represented
by General John Cochrane and his sisters, General Baird and his wife
from West Point, the Fitzhughs from Oswego and Geneseo, the Backuses and
Tallmans from Rochester, and the Swifts from Geneva. Here one was sure
to meet scholars, philosophers, philanthropists, judges, bishops,
clergymen, and statesmen.

Judge Alfred Conkling, the father of Roscoe Conkling, was, in his late
years, frequently seen at Peterboro. Tall and stately, after all life's
troubled scenes, financial losses and domestic sorrows, he used to say
there was no spot on earth that seemed so like his idea of Paradise. The
proud, reserved judge was unaccustomed to manifestations of affection
and tender interest in his behalf, and when Gerrit, taking him by both
hands would, in his softest tones say, "Good-morning," and inquire how
he had slept and what he would like to do that day, and Nancy would
greet him with equal warmth and pin a little bunch of roses in his
buttonhole, I have seen the tears in his eyes. Their warm sympathies and
sweet simplicity of manner melted the sternest natures and made the most
reserved amiable. There never was such an atmosphere of love and peace,
of freedom and good cheer, in any other home I visited. And this was the
universal testimony of those who were guests at Peterboro. To go
anywhere else, after a visit there, was like coming down from the divine
heights into the valley of humiliation.

How changed from the early days when, as strict Presbyterians, they
believed in all the doctrines of Calvin! Then, an indefinite gloom
pervaded their home. Their consciences were diseased. They attached such
undue importance to forms that they went through three kinds of baptism.
At one time Nancy would read nothing but the Bible, sing nothing but
hymns, and play only sacred music. She felt guilty if she talked on any
subject except religion. She was, in all respects, a fitting mate for
her attractive husband. Exquisitely refined in feeling and manner,
beautiful in face and form, earnest and sincere, she sympathized with
him in all his ideas of religion and reform. Together they passed
through every stage of theological experience, from the uncertain ground
of superstition and speculation to the solid foundation of science and
reason. The position of the Church in the anti-slavery conflict, opening
as it did all questions of ecclesiastical authority, Bible
interpretation, and church discipline, awakened them to new thought and
broader views on religious subjects, and eventually emancipated them
entirely from the old dogmas and formalities of their faith, and lifted
them into the cheerful atmosphere in which they passed the remainder of
their lives. Their only daughter, Elizabeth, added greatly to the
attractions of the home circle, as she drew many young people round her.
Beside her personal charm she was the heiress of a vast estate and had
many admirers. The favored one was Charles Dudley Miller of Utica,
nephew of Mrs. Blandina Bleecker Dudley, founder of the Albany
Observatory. At the close of his college life Mr. Miller had not only
mastered the languages, mathematics, rhetoric, and logic, but had
learned the secret windings of the human heart. He understood the art of

These were the times when the anti-slavery question was up for hot
discussion. In all the neighboring towns conventions were held in which
James G. Birney, a Southern gentleman who had emancipated his slaves,
Charles Stuart of Scotland, and George Thompson of England, Garrison,
Phillips, May, Beriah Greene, Foster, Abby Kelly, Lucretia Mott,
Douglass, and others took part. Here, too, John Brown, Sanborn, Morton,
and Frederick Douglass met to talk over that fatal movement on Harper's
Ferry. On the question of temperance, also, the people were in a
ferment. Dr. Cheever's pamphlet, "Deacon Giles' Distillery," was
scattered far and wide, and, as he was sued for libel, the question was
discussed in the courts as well as at every fireside. Then came the
Father Matthew and Washingtonian movements, and the position of the
Church on these questions intensified and embittered the conflict. This
brought the Cheevers, the Pierponts, the Delevans, the Nortons, and
their charming wives to Peterboro. It was with such company and varied
discussions on every possible phase of political, religious, and social
life that I spent weeks every year. Gerrit Smith was cool and calm in
debate, and, as he was armed at all points on these subjects, he could
afford to be patient and fair with an opponent, whether on the platform
or at the fireside. These rousing arguments at Peterboro made social
life seem tame and profitless elsewhere, and the youngest of us felt
that the conclusions reached in this school of philosophy were not to be
questioned. The sisters of General Cochrane, in disputes with their
Dutch cousins in Schenectady and Albany, would end all controversy by
saying, "This question was fully discussed at Peterboro, and settled."

The youngsters frequently put the lessons of freedom and individual
rights they heard so much of into practice, and relieved their brains
from the constant strain of argument on first principles, by the wildest
hilarity in dancing, all kinds of games, and practical jokes carried
beyond all bounds of propriety. These romps generally took place at Mr.
Miller's. He used to say facetiously, that they talked a good deal about
liberty over the way, but he kept the goddess under his roof. One
memorable occasion in which our enthusiasm was kept at white heat for
two hours I must try to describe, though words cannot do it justice, as
it was pre-eminently a spectacular performance. The imagination even
cannot do justice to the limp, woe-begone appearance of the actors in
the closing scene. These romps were conducted on a purely democratic
basis, without regard to color, sex, or previous condition of servitude.

It was rather a cold day in the month of March, when "Cousin Charley,"
as we called Mr. Miller, was superintending some men who were laying a
plank walk in the rear of his premises. Some half dozen of us were
invited to an early tea at good Deacon Huntington's. Immediately after
dinner, Miss Fitzhugh and Miss Van Schaack decided to take a nap, that
they might appear as brilliant as possible during the evening. That they
might not be late, as they invariably were, Cousin Lizzie and I decided
to rouse them in good season with a generous sprinkling of cold water.
In vain they struggled to keep the blankets around them; with equal
force we pulled them away, and, whenever a stray finger or toe appeared,
we brought fresh batteries to bear, until they saw that passive
resistance must give place to active hostility. We were armed with two
watering pots. They armed themselves with two large-sized syringes used
for showering potato bugs. With these weapons they gave us chase
downstairs. We ran into a closet and held the door shut. They quietly
waited our forthcoming. As soon as we opened the door to peep out, Miss
Fitzhugh, who was large and strong, pulled it wide open and showered us
with a vengeance. Then they fled into a large pantry where stood several
pans of milk.

At this stage Cousin Charley, hearing the rumpus, came to our
assistance. He locked them in the pantry and returned to his work,
whereupon they opened the window and showered him with milk, while he,
in turn, pelted them with wet clothes, soaking in tubs near by. As they
were thinly clad, wet to the skin, and the cold March wind blew round
them (we were all in fatigue costume in starting) they implored us to
let them out, which we did, and, in return for our kindness, they gave
us a broadside of milk in our faces. Cousin Lizzie and I fled to the
dark closet, where they locked us in. After long, weary waiting they
came to offer us terms of capitulation. Lizzie agreed to fill their guns
with milk, and give them our watering pots full of water, and I agreed
to call Cousin Charley under my window until they emptied the contents
of guns and pots on his head. My room was on the first floor, and Miss
Fitzhugh's immediately overhead. On these terms we accepted our freedom.
Accordingly, I gently raised the window and called Charley
confidentially within whispering distance, when down came a shower of
water. As he stepped back to look up and see whence it came, and who
made the attack, a stream of milk hit him on the forehead, his heels
struck a plank, and he fell backward, to all appearance knocked down
with a stream of milk. His humiliation was received with shouts of
derisive laughter, and even the carpenters at work laid down their
hammers and joined in the chorus; but his revenge was swift and capped
the climax. Cold and wet as we all were, and completely tired out, we
commenced to disrobe and get ready for the tea party. Unfortunately I
had forgotten to lock my door, and in walked Cousin Charley with a quart
bottle of liquid blacking, which he prepared to empty on my devoted
head. I begged so eloquently and trembled so at the idea of being dyed
black, that he said he would let me off on one condition, and that was
to get him, by some means, into Miss Fitzhugh's room. So I ran screaming
up the stairs, as if hotly pursued by the enemy, and begged her to let
me in. She cautiously opened the door, but when she saw Charley behind
me she tried to force it shut. However, he was too quick for her. He had
one leg and arm in; but, at that stage of her toilet, to let him in was
impossible, and there they stood, equally strong, firmly braced, she on
one side of the door and he on the other. But the blacking he was
determined she should have; so, gauging her probable position, with one
desperate effort he squeezed in a little farther and, raising the
bottle, he poured the contents on her head. The blacking went streaming
down over her face, white robe, and person, and left her looking more
like a bronze fury than one of Eve's most charming daughters. A yard or
more of the carpet was ruined, the wallpaper and bedclothes spattered,
and the poor victim was unfit to be seen for a week at least. Charley
had a good excuse for his extreme measures, for, as we all by turn
played our tricks on him, it was necessary to keep us in some fear of
punishment. This was but one of the many outrageous pranks we
perpetrated on each other. To see us a few hours later, all absorbed in
an anti-slavery or temperance convention, or dressed in our best, in
high discourse with the philosophers, one would never think we could
have been guilty of such consummate follies. It was, however, but the
natural reaction from the general serious trend of our thoughts.

It was in Peterboro, too, that I first met one who was then considered
the most eloquent and impassioned orator on the anti-slavery platform,
Henry B. Stanton. He had come over from Utica with Alvin Stewart's
beautiful daughter, to whom report said he was engaged; but, as she soon
after married Luther R. Marsh, there was a mistake somewhere. However,
the rumor had its advantages. Regarding him as not in the matrimonial
market, we were all much more free and easy in our manners with him than
we would otherwise have been. A series of anti-slavery conventions was
being held in Madison County, and there I had the pleasure of hearing
him for the first time. As I had a passion for oratory, I was deeply
impressed with his power. He was not so smooth and eloquent as Phillips,
but he could make his audience both laugh and cry; the latter, Phillips
himself said he never could do. Mr. Stanton was then in his prime, a
fine-looking, affable young man, with remarkable conversational talent,
and was ten years my senior, with the advantage that number of years
necessarily gives.

Two carriage-loads of ladies and gentlemen drove off every morning,
sometimes ten miles, to one of these conventions, returning late at
night. I shall never forget those charming drives over the hills in
Madison County, the bright autumnal days, and the bewitching moonlight
nights. The enthusiasm of the people in these great meetings, the
thrilling oratory, and lucid arguments of the speakers, all conspired to
make these days memorable as among the most charming in my life. It
seemed to me that I never had so much happiness crowded into one short
month. I had become interested in the anti-slavery and temperance
questions, and was deeply impressed with the appeals and arguments. I
felt a new inspiration in life and was enthused with new ideas of
individual rights and the basic principles of government, for the
anti-slavery platform was the best school the American people ever had
on which to learn republican principles and ethics. These conventions
and the discussions at my cousin's fireside I count among the great
blessings of my life.

One morning, as we came out from breakfast, Mr. Stanton joined me on the
piazza, where I was walking up and down enjoying the balmy air and the
beauty of the foliage. "As we have no conventions," said he, "on hand,
what do you say to a ride on horseback this morning?" I readily accepted
the suggestion, ordered the horses, put on my habit, and away we went.
The roads were fine and we took a long ride. As we were returning home
we stopped often to admire the scenery and, perchance, each other. When
walking slowly through a beautiful grove, he laid his hand on the horn
of the saddle and, to my surprise, made one of those charming
revelations of human feeling which brave knights have always found
eloquent words to utter, and to which fair ladies have always listened
with mingled emotions of pleasure and astonishment.

One outcome of those glorious days of October, 1839, was a marriage, in
Johnstown, the 10th day of May, 1840, and a voyage to the Old World.

Six weeks of that charming autumn, ending in the Indian summer with its
peculiarly hazy atmosphere, I lingered in Peterboro. It seems in
retrospect like a beautiful dream. A succession of guests was constantly
coming and going, and I still remember the daily drives over those grand
old hills crowned with trees now gorgeous in rich colors, the more
charming because we knew the time was short before the cold winds of
November would change all.

The early setting sun warned us that the shortening days must soon end
our twilight drives, and the moonlight nights were too chilly to linger
long in the rustic arbors or shady nooks outside. With the peculiar
charm of this season of the year there is always a touch of sadness in
nature, and it seemed doubly so to me, as my engagement was not one of
unmixed joy and satisfaction. Among all conservative families there was
a strong aversion to abolitionists and the whole anti-slavery movement.
Alone with Cousin Gerrit in his library he warned me, in deep, solemn
tones, while strongly eulogizing my lover, that my father would never
consent to my marriage with an abolitionist. He felt in duty bound, as
my engagement had occurred under his roof, to free himself from all
responsibility by giving me a long dissertation on love, friendship,
marriage, and all the pitfalls for the unwary, who, without due
consideration, formed matrimonial relations. The general principles laid
down in this interview did not strike my youthful mind so forcibly as
the suggestion that it was better to announce my engagement by letter
than to wait until I returned home, as thus I might draw the hottest
fire while still in safe harbor, where Cousin Gerrit could help me
defend the weak points in my position. So I lingered at Peterboro to
prolong the dream of happiness and postpone the conflict I feared to

But the Judge understood the advantage of our position as well as we
did, and wasted no ammunition on us. Being even more indignant at my
cousin than at me, he quietly waited until I returned home, when I
passed through the ordeal of another interview, with another
dissertation on domestic relations from a financial standpoint. These
were two of the most bewildering interviews I ever had. They succeeded
in making me feel that the step I proposed to take was the most
momentous and far-reaching in its consequences of any in this mortal
life. Heretofore my apprehensions had all been of death and eternity;
now life itself was filled with fears and anxiety as to the
possibilities of the future. Thus these two noble men, who would have
done anything for my happiness, actually overweighted my conscience and
turned the sweetest dream of my life into a tragedy. How little strong
men, with their logic, sophistry, and hypothetical examples, appreciate
the violence they inflict on the tender sensibilities of a woman's
heart, in trying to subjugate her to their will! The love of protecting
too often degenerates into downright tyranny. Fortunately all these
sombre pictures of a possible future were thrown into the background by
the tender missives every post brought me, in which the brilliant
word-painting of one of the most eloquent pens of this generation made
the future for us both, as bright and beautiful as Spring with her
verdure and blossoms of promise.

However, many things were always transpiring at Peterboro to turn one's
thoughts and rouse new interest in humanity at large. One day, as a bevy
of us girls were singing and chattering in the parlor, Cousin Gerrit
entered and, in mysterious tones, said: "I have a most important secret
to tell you, which you must keep to yourselves religiously for
twenty-four hours."

We readily pledged ourselves in the most solemn manner, individually and

"Now," said he, "follow me to the third story."

This we did, wondering what the secret could be. At last, opening a
door, he ushered us into a large room, in the center of which sat a
beautiful quadroon girl, about eighteen years of age. Addressing her, he

"Harriet, I have brought all my young cousins to see you. I want you to
make good abolitionists of them by telling them the history of your
life--what you have seen and suffered in slavery."

Turning to us he said:

"Harriet has just escaped from her master, who is visiting in Syracuse,
and is on her way to Canada. She will start this evening and you may
never have another opportunity of seeing a slave girl face to face, so
ask her all you care to know of the system of slavery."

For two hours we listened to the sad story of her childhood and youth,
separated from all her family and sold for her beauty in a New Orleans
market when but fourteen years of age. The details of her story I need
not repeat. The fate of such girls is too well known to need rehearsal.
We all wept together as she talked, and, when Cousin Gerrit returned to
summon us away, we needed no further education to make us earnest

Dressed as a Quakeress, Harriet started at twilight with one of Mr.
Smith's faithful clerks in a carriage for Oswego, there to cross the
lake to Canada. The next day her master and the marshals from Syracuse
were on her track in Peterboro, and traced her to Mr. Smith's premises.
He was quite gracious in receiving them, and, while assuring them that
there was no slave there, he said that they were at liberty to make a
thorough search of the house and grounds. He invited them to stay and
dine and kept them talking as long as possible, as every hour helped
Harriet to get beyond their reach; for, although she had eighteen hours
the start of them, yet we feared some accident might have delayed her.
The master was evidently a gentleman, for, on Mr. Smith's assurance that
Harriet was not there, he made no search, feeling that they could not do
so without appearing to doubt his word. He was evidently surprised to
find an abolitionist so courteous and affable, and it was interesting to
hear them in conversation, at dinner, calmly discussing the problem of
slavery, while public sentiment was at white heat on the question. They
shook hands warmly at parting and expressed an equal interest in the
final adjustment of that national difficulty.

In due time the clerk returned with the good news that Harriet was safe
with friends in a good situation in Canada. Mr. Smith then published an
open letter to the master in the New York _Tribune_, saying "that he
would no doubt rejoice to know that his slave Harriet, in whose fate he
felt so deep an interest, was now a free woman, safe under the shadow of
the British throne. I had the honor of entertaining her under my roof,
sending her in my carriage to Lake Ontario, just eighteen hours before
your arrival: hence my willingness to have you search my premises."

Like the varied combinations of the kaleidoscope, the scenes in our
social life at Peterboro were continually changing from grave to gay.
Some years later we had a most hilarious occasion at the marriage of
Mary Cochrane, sister of General John Cochrane, to Chapman Biddle, of
Philadelphia. The festivities, which were kept up for three days,
involved most elaborate preparations for breakfasts, dinners, etc.,
there being no Delmonico's in that remote part of the country. It was
decided in family council that we had sufficient culinary talent under
the roof to prepare the entire _menu_ of substantials and delicacies,
from soup and salmon to cakes and creams. So, gifted ladies and
gentlemen were impressed into the service. The Fitzhughs all had a
natural talent for cooking, and chief among them was Isabella, wife of a
naval officer,--Lieutenant Swift of Geneva,--who had made a profound
study of all the authorities from Archestratus, a poet in Syracuse, the
most famous cook among the Greeks, down to our own Miss Leslie.
Accordingly she was elected manager of the occasion, and to each one was
assigned the specialty in which she claimed to excel. Those who had no
specialty were assistants to those who had. In this humble
office--"assistant at large"--I labored throughout.

Cooking is a high art. A wise Egyptian said, long ago: "The degree of
taste and skill manifested by a nation in the preparation of food may be
regarded as to a very considerable extent proportioned to its culture
and refinement." In early times men, only, were deemed capable of
handling fire, whether at the altar or the hearthstone. We read in the
Scriptures that Abraham prepared cakes of fine meal and a calf tender
and good, which, with butter and milk, he set before the three angels in
the plains of Mamre. We are told, too, of the chief butler and chief
baker as officers in the household of King Pharaoh. I would like to call
the attention of my readers to the dignity of this profession, which
some young women affect to despise. The fact that angels eat, shows that
we may be called upon in the next sphere to cook even for cherubim and
seraphim. How important, then, to cultivate one's gifts in that

With such facts before us, we stirred and pounded, whipped and ground,
coaxed the delicate meats from crabs and lobsters and the succulent peas
from the pods, and grated corn and cocoanut with the same cheerfulness
and devotion that we played Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words" on the
piano, the Spanish Fandango on our guitars, or danced the minuet, polka,
lancers, or Virginia reel.

During the day of the wedding, every stage coach was crowded with guests
from the North, South, East, and West, and, as the twilight deepened,
carriages began to roll in with neighbors and friends living at short
distances, until the house and grounds were full. A son of Bishop Coxe,
who married the tall and stately sister of Roscoe Conkling, performed
the ceremony. The beautiful young bride was given away by her Uncle
Gerrit. The congratulations, the feast, and all went off with fitting
decorum in the usual way. The best proof of the excellence of our viands
was that they were all speedily swept from mortal view, and every
housewife wanted a recipe for something.

As the grand dinner was to come off the next day, our thoughts now
turned in that direction. The responsibility rested heavily on the heads
of the chief actors, and they reported troubled dreams and unduly early
rising. Dear Belle Swift was up in season and her white soup stood
serenely in a tin pan, on an upper shelf, before the town clock struck
seven. If it had not taken that position so early, it might have been
incorporated with higher forms of life than that into which it
eventually fell. Another artist was also on the wing early, and in
pursuit of a tin pan in which to hide her precious compound, she
unwittingly seized this one, and the rich white soup rolled down her
raven locks like the oil on Aaron's beard, and enveloped her in a veil
of filmy whiteness. I heard the splash and the exclamation of surprise
and entered the butler's pantry just in time to see the heiress of the
Smith estate standing like a statue, tin pan in hand, soup in her curls,
her eyebrows and eyelashes,--collar, cuffs, and morning dress
saturated,--and Belle, at a little distance, looking at her and the soup
on the floor with surprise and disgust depicted on every feature. The
tableau was inexpressibly comical, and I could not help laughing
outright; whereupon Belle turned on me, and, with indignant tones, said,
"If you had been up since four o'clock making that soup you would not
stand there like a laughing monkey, without the least feeling of pity!"
Poor Lizzie was very sorry, and would have shed tears, but they could
not penetrate that film of soup. I tried to apologize, but could only
laugh the more when I saw Belle crying and Lizzie standing as if hoping
that the soup might be scraped off her and gathered from the floor and
made to do duty on the occasion.

After breakfast, ladies and gentlemen, alike in white aprons, crowded
into the dining room and kitchen, each to perform the allotted task.
George Biddle of Philadelphia and John B. Miller of Utica, in holiday
spirits, were irrepressible--everywhere at the same moment, helping or
hindering as the case might be. Dear Belle, having only partially
recovered from the white-soup catastrophe, called Mr. Biddle to hold the
ice-cream freezer while she poured in the luscious compound she had just
prepared. He held it up without resting it on anything, while Belle
slowly poured in the cream. As the freezer had no indentations round the
top or rim to brace the thumbs and fingers, when it grew suddenly
heavier his hands slipped and down went the whole thing, spattering poor
Belle and spoiling a beautiful pair of gaiters in which, as she had very
pretty feet, she took a laudable pride. In another corner sat Wealthea
Backus, grating some cocoanut. While struggling in that operation, John
Miller, feeling hilarious, was annoying her in divers ways; at length
she drew the grater across his nose, gently, as she intended, but alas!
she took the skin off, and John's beauty, for the remainder of the
festivities, was marred with a black patch on that prominent feature.
One can readily imagine the fun that must have transpired where so many
amateur cooks were at work round one table, with all manner of culinary
tools and ingredients.

As assistant-at-large I was summoned to the cellar, where Mrs. Cornelia
Barclay of New York was evolving from a pan of flour and water that
miracle in the pie department called puff paste. This, it seems, can
only be accomplished where the thermometer is below forty, and near a
refrigerator where the compound can be kept cold until ready to be
popped into the oven. No jokes or nonsense here. With queenly dignity
the flour and water were gently compressed. Here one hand must not know
what the other doeth. Bits of butter must be so deftly introduced that
even the rolling pin may be unconscious of its work. As the artist gave
the last touch to an exquisite lemon pie, with a mingled expression of
pride and satisfaction on her classic features, she ordered me to bear
it to the oven. In the transit I met Madam Belle. "Don't let that fall,"
she said sneeringly. Fortunately I did not, and returned in triumph to
transport another. I was then summoned to a consultation with the
committee on toasts, consisting of James Cochrane, John Miller, and
myself. Mr. Miller had one for each guest already written, all of which
we accepted and pronounced very good.

Strange to say, a most excellent dinner emerged from all this uproar and
confusion. The table, with its silver, china, flowers, and rich viands,
the guests in satins, velvets, jewels, soft laces, and bright cravats,
together reflecting all the colors of the prism, looked as beautiful as
the rainbow after a thunderstorm.

Twenty years ago I made my last sad visit to that spot so rich with
pleasant memories of bygone days. A few relatives and family friends
gathered there to pay the last tokens of respect to our noble cousin.
It was on one of the coldest days of gray December that we laid him in
the frozen earth, to be seen no more. He died from a stroke of apoplexy
in New York city, at the home of his niece, Mrs. Ellen Cochrane Walter,
whose mother was Mr. Smith's only sister. The journey from New York to
Peterboro was cold and dreary, and climbing the hills from Canastota in
an open sleigh, nine hundred feet above the valley, with the thermometer
below zero, before sunrise, made all nature look as sombre as the sad
errand on which we came.

Outside the mansion everything in its wintry garb was cold and still,
and all within was silent as the grave. The central figure, the light
and joy of that home, had vanished forever. He who had welcomed us on
that threshold for half a century would welcome us no more. We did what
we could to dissipate the gloom that settled on us all. We did not
intensify our grief by darkening the house and covering ourselves with
black crape, but wore our accustomed dresses of chastened colors and
opened all the blinds that the glad sunshine might stream in. We hung
the apartment where the casket stood with wreaths of evergreens, and
overhead we wove his favorite mottoes in living letters, "Equal rights
for all!" "Rescue Cuba now!" The religious services were short and
simple; the Unitarian clergyman from Syracuse made a few remarks, the
children from the orphan asylum, in which he was deeply interested, sang
an appropriate hymn, and around the grave stood representatives of the
Biddles, the Dixwells, the Sedgwicks, the Barclays, and Stantons, and
three generations of his immediate family. With a few appropriate words
from General John Cochrane we left our beloved kinsman alone in his
last resting place. Two months later, on his birthday, his wife, Ann
Carroll Fitzhugh, passed away and was laid by his side. Theirs was a
remarkably happy union of over half a century, and they were soon
reunited in the life eternal.



My engagement was a season of doubt and conflict--doubt as to the wisdom
of changing a girlhood of freedom and enjoyment for I knew not what, and
conflict because the step I proposed was in opposition to the wishes of


Back to Full Books