The Story of a Pioneer
Anna Howard Shaw

Part 2 out of 6

Dr. Peck smiled at me. ``Have you ever tried?''
he asked.

I started to assure him vehemently that I never
had. Then, as if Time had thrown a picture on a
screen before me, I saw myself as a little girl preach-
ing alone in the forest, as I had so often preached
to a congregation of listening trees. I qualified my

``Never,'' I said, ``to human beings.''

Dr. Peck smiled again. ``Well,'' he told me,
``the door is open. Enter or not, as you wish.''

He left the house, but I remained to discuss his
overwhelming proposition with Miss Foot. A sud-
den sobering thought had come to me.

``But,'' I exclaimed, ``I've never been converted.
How can I preach to any one?''

We both had the old-time idea of conversion, which
now seems so mistaken. We thought one had to
struggle with sin and with the Lord until at last the
heart opened, doubts were dispersed, and the light
poured in. Miss Foot could only advise me to
put the matter before the Lord, to wrestle and to
pray; and thereafter, for hours at a time, she worked
and prayed with me, alternately urging, pleading,
instructing, and sending up petitions in my behalf.
Our last session was a dramatic one, which took up
the entire night. Long before it was over we were
both worn out; but toward morning, either from
exhaustion of body or exaltation of soul, I seemed
to see the light, and it made me very happy. With
all my heart I wanted to preach, and I believed that
now at last I had my call. The following day we
sent word to Dr. Peck that I would preach the ser-
mon at Ashton as he had asked, but we urged him to
say nothing of the matter for the present, and Miss
Foot and I also kept the secret locked in our breasts.
I knew only too well what view my family and my
friends would take of such a step and of me. To
them it would mean nothing short of personal dis-
grace and a blotted page in the Shaw record.

I had six weeks in which to prepare my sermon,
and I gave it most of my waking hours as well as
those in which I should have been asleep. I took
for my text: ``And as Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be
lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should
not perish, but have eternal life.''

It was not until three days before I preached the
sermon that I found courage to confide my purpose
to my sister Mary, and if I had confessed my inten-
tion to commit a capital crime she could not have
been more disturbed. We two had always been very
close, and the death of Eleanor, to whom we were
both devoted, had drawn us even nearer to each
other. Now Mary's tears and prayers wrung my
heart and shook my resolution. But, after all, she
was asking me to give up my whole future, to close
my ears to my call, and I felt that I could not do
it. My decision caused an estrangement between
us which lasted for years. On the day preceding
the delivery of my sermon I left for Ashton on the
afternoon train; and in the same car, but as far
away from me as she could get, Mary sat alone and
wept throughout the journey. She was going to
my mother, but she did not speak to me; and I,
for my part, facing both alienation from her and the
ordeal before me, found my one comfort in Lucy
Foot's presence and understanding sympathy.

There was no church in Ashton, so I preached
my sermon in its one little school-house, which was
filled with a curious crowd, eager to look at and hear
the girl who was defying all conventions by getting
out of the pew and into the pulpit. There was
much whispering and suppressed excitement before
I began, but when I gave out my text silence fell
upon the room, and from that moment until I had
finished my hearers listened quietly. A kerosene-
lamp stood on a stand at my elbow, and as I preached
I trembled so violently that the oil shook in its glass
globe; but I finished without breaking down, and
at the end Dr. Peck, who had his own reasons for
nervousness, handsomely assured me that my first
sermon was better than his maiden effort had been.
It was evidently not a failure, for the next day he
invited me to follow him around in his circuit, which
included thirty-six appointments; he wished me to
preach in each of the thirty-six places, as it was de-
sirable to let the various ministers hear and know
me before I applied for my license as a local preacher.

The sermon also had another result, less gratify-
ing. It brought out, on the following morning, the
first notice of me ever printed in a newspaper.
This was instigated by my brother-in-law, and it
was brief but pointed. It read:

A young girl named Anna Shaw, seventeen years old,[1]
preached at Ashton yesterday. Her real friends deprecate the
course she is pursuing.

[1] A misstatement by the brother-in-law. Dr. Shaw was at this
time twenty-three years old.--E. J.

The little notice had something of the effect of
a lighted match applied to gunpowder. An ex-
plosion of public sentiment followed it, the entire
community arose in consternation, and I became a
bone of contention over which friends and strangers
alike wrangled until they wore themselves out.
The members of my family, meeting in solemn
council, sent for me, and I responded. They had
a proposition to make, and they lost no time in put-
ting it before me. If I gave up my preaching they
would send me to college and pay for my entire
course. They suggested Ann Arbor, and Ann Arbor
tempted me sorely; but to descend from the pulpit
I had at last entered--the pulpit I had visualized
in all my childish dreams--was not to be considered.
We had a long evening together, and it was a very
unhappy one. At the end of it I was given twenty-
four hours in which to decide whether I would choose
my people and college, or my pulpit and the arctic
loneliness of a life that held no family-circle. It
did not require twenty-four hours of reflection to
convince me that I must go my solitary way.

That year I preached thirty-six times, at each of
the presiding elder's appointments; and the follow-
ing spring, at the annual Methodist Conference of
our district, held at Big Rapids, my name was pre-
sented to the assembled ministers as that of a can-
didate for a license to preach. There was unusual
interest in the result, and my father was among those
who came to the Conference to see the vote taken.
During these Conferences a minister voted affirma-
tively on a question by holding up his hand, and
negatively by failing to do so. When the question
of my license came up the majority of the ministers
voted by raising both hands, and in the pleasant
excitement which followed my father slipped away.
Those who saw him told me he looked pleased; but
he sent me no message showing a change of view-
point, and the gulf between the family and its black
sheep remained unbridged. Though the warmth of
Mary's love for me had become a memory, the
warmth of her hearthstone was still offered me. I
accepted it, perforce, and we lived together like
shadows of what we had been. Two friends alone
of all I had made stood by me without qualification
--Miss Foot and Clara Osborn, the latter my
``chum'' at Big Rapids and a dweller in my heart
to this day.

In the mean time my preaching had not inter-
fered with my studies. I was working day and night,
but life was very difficult; for among my school-
mates, too, there were doubts and much head-shaking
over this choice of a career. I needed the sound of
friendly voices, for I was very lonely; and suddenly,
when the pressure from all sides was strongest and
I was going down physically under it, a voice was
raised that I had never dared to dream would speak
for me. Mary A. Livermore came to Big Rapids,
and as she was then at the height of her career, the
entire countryside poured in to hear her. Far back
in the crowded hall I sat alone and listened to her,
thrilled by the lecture and tremulous with the hope
of meeting the lecturer. When she had finished
speaking I joined the throng that surged forward
from the body of the hall, and as I reached her and
felt the grasp of her friendly hand I had a sudden
conviction that the meeting was an epoch in my life.
I was right. Some one in the circle around us told
her that I wanted to preach, and that I was meeting
tremendous opposition. She was interested at once.
She looked at me with quickening sympathy, and
then, suddenly putting an arm around me, drew me
close to her side.

``My dear,'' she said, quietly, ``if you want to
preach, go on and preach. Don't let anybody stop
you. No matter what people say, don't let them
stop you!''

For a moment I was too overcome to answer her.
These were almost my first encouraging words, and
the morning stars singing together could not have
made sweeter music for my ears. Before I could
recover a woman within hearing spoke up.

``Oh, Mrs. Livermore,'' she exclaimed, ``don't say
that to her! We're all trying to stop her. Her peo-
ple are wretched over the whole thing. And don't
you see how ill she is? She has one foot in the grave
and the other almost there!''

Mrs. Livermore turned upon me a long and deeply
thoughtful look. ``Yes,'' she said at last, ``I see she
has. But it is better that she should die doing the
thing she wants to do than that she should die
because she can't do it.''

Her words were a tonic which restored my voice.
``So they think I'm going to die!'' I cried. ``Well,
I'm not! I'm going to live and preach!''

I have always felt since then that without the
inspiration of Mrs. Livermore's encouragement I
might not have continued my fight. Her sanction
was a shield, however, from which the criticisms of
the world fell back. Fate's more friendly interest
in my affairs that year was shown by the fact that
she sent Mrs. Livermore into my life before I had
met Anna Dickinson. Miss Dickinson came to us
toward spring and lectured on Joan of Arc. Never
before or since have I been more deeply moved by a
speaker. When she had finished her address I made
my happy way to the front of the hall with the others
who wished to meet the distinguished guest. It
was our local manager who introduced me, and he
said, ``This is our Anna Shaw. She is going to be
a lecturer, too.''

I looked up at the brilliant Miss Dickinson with
the trustfulness of youth in my eyes. I remem-
bered Mrs. Livermore and I thought all great wom-
en were like her, but I was now to experience a bitter
disillusionment. Miss Dickinson barely touched
the tips of my fingers as she looked indifferently
past the side of my face. ``Ah,'' she said, icily,
and turned away. In later years I learned how
impossible it is for a public speaker to leave a
gracious impression on every life that for a moment
touches her own; but I have never ceased to be
thankful that I met Mrs. Livermore before I met
Miss Dickinson at the crisis in my career.

In the autumn of 1873 I entered Albion College,
in Albion, Michigan. I was twenty-five years of
age, but I looked much younger--probably not more
than eighteen to the casual glance. Though I had
made every effort to save money, I had not been
successful, for my expenses constantly outran my
little income, and my position as preacher made it
necessary for me to have a suitable wardrobe.
When the time came to enter college I had exactly
eighteen dollars in the world, and I started for
Albion with this amount in my purse and without
the slightest notion of how I was to add to it. The
money problem so pressed upon me, in fact, that
when I reached my destination at midnight and dis-
covered that it would cost fifty cents to ride from
the station to the college, I saved that amount by
walking the entire distance on the railroad tracks,
while my imagination busied itself pleasantly with
pictures of the engine that might be thundering upon
me in the rear. I had chosen Albion because Miss
Foot had been educated there, and I was encouraged
by an incident that happened the morning after my
arrival. I was on the campus, walking toward the
main building, when I saw a big copper penny lying
on the ground, and, on picking it up, I discovered
that it bore the year of my birth. That seemed a
good omen, and it was emphatically underlined by
the finding of two exactly similar pennies within a
week. Though there have been days since then
when I was sorely tempted to spend them, I have
those three pennies still, and I confess to a certain
comfort in their possession!

As I had not completed my high-school course,
my first days at Albion were spent in strenuous prep-
aration for the entrance examinations; and one morn-
ing, as I was crossing the campus with a History
of the United States tucked coyly under my arm,
I met the president of the college, Dr. Josclyn. He
stopped for a word of greeting, during which I be-
trayed the fact that I had never studied United
States history. Dr. Josclyn at once invited me into
his office with, I am quite sure, the purpose of ex-
plaining as kindly as he could that my preparation
for college was insufficient. As an opening to the
subject he began to talk of history, and we talked
and talked on, while unheeded hours were born and
died. We discussed the history of the United States,
the governments of the world, the causes which led
to the influence of one nation on another, the philo-
sophical basis of the different national movements
westward, and the like. It was the longest and by
far the most interesting talk I have ever had with
a highly educated man, and during it I could actually
feel my brain expand. When I rose to go President
Josclyn stopped me.

``I have something to give you,'' he said, and he
wrote a few words on a slip of paper and handed
the slip to me. When, on reaching the dormitory,
I opened it, I found that the president had passed
me in the history of the entire college course! This,
moreover, was not the only pleasant result of our
interview, for within a few weeks President and Mrs.
Josclyn, whose daughter had recently died, invited
me to board with them, and I made my home with
them during my first year at Albion.

My triumph in history was followed by the swift
and chastening discovery that I was behind my as-
sociates in several other branches. Owing to my
father's early help, I was well up in mathematics,
but I had much to learn of philosophy and the
languages, and to these I devoted many midnight

Naturally, I soon plunged into speaking, and my
first public speech at college was a defense of Xan-
tippe. I have always felt that the poor lady was
greatly abused, and that Socrates deserved all he
received from her, and more. I was glad to put
myself on record as her champion, and my fellow-
students must soon have felt that my admiration
for Xantippe was based on similarities of tempera-
ment, for within a few months I was leading the first
college revolt against the authority of the men

Albion was a coeducational institution, and the
brightest jewels in its crown were its three literary
societies--the first composed of men alone, the sec-
ond of women alone, and the third of men and
women together. Each of the societies made friend-
ly advances to new students, and for some time I
hesitated on the brink of the new joys they offered,
uncertain which to choose. A representative of the
mixed society, who was putting its claims before
me, unconsciously helped me to make up my mind.

``Women,'' he pompously assured me, ``need to be
associated with men, because they don't know how
to manage meetings.''

On the instant the needle of decision swung around
to the women's society and remained there, fixed.

``If they don't,'' I told the pompous young man,
``it's high time they learned. I shall join the women,
and we'll master the art.''

I did join the women's society, and I had not been
a member very long before I discovered that when
there was an advantage of any kind to be secured
the men invariably got it. While I was brooding
somberly upon this wrong an opportunity came to
make a formal and effective protest against the
men's high-handed methods. The Quinquennial re-
union of all the societies was about to be held, and
the special feature of this festivity was always an
oration. The simple method of selecting the orator
which had formerly prevailed had been for the
young men to decide upon the speaker and then an-
nounce his name to the women, who humbly con-
firmed it. On this occasion, however, when the
name came in to us, I sent a message to our brother
society to the effect that we, too, intended to make
a nomination and to send in a name.

At such unprecedented behavior the entire stu-
dent body arose in excitement, which, among the
girls, was combined with equal parts of exhilaration
and awe. The men refused to consider our nominee,
and as a friendly compromise we suggested that we
have a joint meeting of all the societies and elect
the speaker at this gathering; but this plan also
the men at first refused, giving in only after weeks
of argument, during which no one had time for
the calmer pleasures of study. When the joint
meeting was finally held, nothing was accomplished;
we girls had one more member than the boys had,
and we promptly re-elected our candidate, who was
as promptly declined by the boys. Two of our girls
were engaged to two of the boys, and it was secretly
planned by our brother society that during a second
joint meeting these two men should take the girls
out for a drive and then slip back to vote, leaving
the girls at some point sufficiently remote from col-
lege. We discovered the plot, however, in time to
thwart it, and at last, when nothing but the un-
precedented tie-up had been discussed for months,
the boys suddenly gave up their candidate and
nominated me for orator.

This was not at all what I wanted, and I immedi-
ately declined to serve. We girls then nominated
the young man who had been first choice of our
brother society, but he haughtily refused to accept
the compliment. The reunion was only a fortnight
away, and the programme had not been printed, so
now the president took the situation in hand and
peremptorily ordered me to accept the nomination
or be suspended. This was a wholly unexpected
boomerang. I had wished to make a good fight for
equal rights for the girls, and to impress the boys
with the fact of our existence as a society; but I
had not desired to set the entire student body by
the ears nor to be forced to prepare and deliver an
oration at the eleventh hour. Moreover, I had no
suitable gown to wear on so important an occasion.
One of my classmates, however, secretly wrote to
my sister, describing my blushing honors and ex-
plaining my need, and my family rallied to the call.
My father bought the material, and my mother and
Mary paid for the making of the gown. It was a
white alpaca creation, trimmed with satin, and the
consciousness that it was extremely becoming sus-
tained me greatly during the mental agony of pre-
paring and delivering my oration. To my family
that oration was the redeeming episode of my early
career. For the moment it almost made them for-
get my crime of preaching.

My original fund of eighteen dollars was now
supplemented by the proceeds of a series of lectures
I gave on temperance. The temperance women were
not yet organized, but they had their speakers, and
I was occasionally paid five dollars to hold forth
for an hour or two in the little country school-houses
of our region. As a licensed preacher I had no
tuition fees to pay at college; but my board, in the
home of the president and his wife, was costing me
four dollars a week, and this was the limit of my
expenses, as I did my own laundry-work. During
my first college year the amount I paid for amuse-
ment was exactly fifty cents; that went for a lec-
ture. The mental strain of the whole experience
was rather severe, for I never knew how much I
would be able to earn; and I was beginning to feel
the effects of this when Christmas came and brought
with it a gift of ninety-two dollars, which Miss Foot
had collected among my Big Rapids friends. That,
with what I could earn, carried me through the

The following spring our brother James, who
was now living in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, invited
my sister Mary and me to spend the summer
with him, and Mary and I finally dug a grave for
our little hatchet and went East together with
something of our old-time joy in each other's so-
ciety. We reached St. Johnsbury one Saturday,
and within an hour of our arrival learned that my
brother had arranged for me to preach in a local
church the following day. That threatened to spoil
the visit for Mary and even to disinter the hatchet!
At first she positively refused to go to hear me, but
after a few hours of reflection she announced gloom-
ily that if she did not go I would not have my hair
arranged properly or get my hat on straight. Moved
by this conviction, she joined the family parade to
the church, and later, in the sacristy, she pulled me
about and pinned me up to her heart's content.
Then, reluctantly, she went into the church and
heard me preach. She offered no tributes after our
return to the house, but her protests ceased from
that time, and we gave each other the love and
understanding which had marked our girlhood days.
The change made me very happy; for Mary was the
salt of the earth, and next only to my longing for
my mother, I had longed for her in the years of our

Every Sunday that summer I preached in or near
St. Johnsbury, and toward autumn we had a big
meeting which the ministers of all the surrounding
churches attended. I was asked to preach the ser-
mon--a high compliment--and I chose that impor-
tant day to make a mistake in quoting a passage
from Scripture. I asked, ``Can the Ethiopian change
his spots or the leopard his skin?'' I realized at
once that I had transposed the words, and no doubt
a look of horror dawned in my eyes; but I went on
without correcting myself and without the slightest
pause. Later, one of the ministers congratulated
me on this presence of mind.

``If you had corrected yourself,'' he said, ``all the
young people would have been giggling yet over
the spotted nigger. Keep to your rule of going
right ahead!''

At the end of the summer the various churches
in which I had preached gave me a beautiful gold
watch and one hundred dollars in money, and with
an exceedingly light heart I went back to college
to begin my second year of work.

From that time life was less complex. I had
enough temperance-work and preaching in the
country school-houses and churches to pay my col-
lege expenses, and, now that my financial anxieties
were relieved, my health steadily improved. Sev-
eral times I preached to the Indians, and these
occasions were among the most interesting of my
experiences. The squaws invariably brought their
babies with them, but they had a simple and effective
method of relieving themselves of the care of the
infants as soon as they reached the church. The
papooses, who were strapped to their boards, were
hung like a garment on the back wall of the building
by a hole in the top of the board, which projected
above their heads. Each papoose usually had a
bit of fat pork tied to the end of a string fastened
to its wrist, and with these sources of nourishment
the infants occupied themselves pleasantly while
the sermon was in progress. Frequently the pork
slipped down the throat of the papoose, but the
struggle of the child and the jerking of its hands
in the strangulation that followed pulled the piece
safely out again. As I faced the congregation I also
faced the papooses, to whom the indifferent backs
of their mothers were presented; it seemed to me
there was never a time when some papoose was not
choking, but no matter how much excitement or
discomfort was going on among the babies, not one
squaw turned her head to look back at them. In
that assemblage the emotions were not allowed to
interrupt the calm intellectual enjoyment of the

My most dramatic experience during this period
occurred in the summer of 1874, when I went to a
Northern lumber-camp to preach in the pulpit of a
minister who was away on his honeymoon. The
stage took me within twenty-two miles of my desti-
nation, to a place called Seberwing. To my dismay,
however, when I arrived at Seberwing, Saturday
evening, I found that the rest of the journey lay
through a dense woods, and that I could reach my
pulpit in time the next morning only by having some
one drive me through the woods that night. It was
not a pleasant prospect, for I had heard appalling
tales of the stockades in this region and of the
women who were kept prisoners there. But to miss
the engagement was not to be thought of, and when,
after I had made several vain efforts to find a driver,
a man appeared in a two-seated wagon and offered
to take me to my destination, I felt that I had to go
with him, though I did not like his appearance.
He was a huge, muscular person, with a protruding
jaw and a singularly evasive eye; but I reflected
that his forbidding expression might be due, in part
at least, to the prospect of the long night drive
through the woods, to which possibly he objected
as much as I did.

It was already growing dark when we started,
and within a few moments we were out of the little
settlement and entering the woods. With me I had
a revolver I had long since learned to use, but which
I very rarely carried. I had hesitated to bring it
now--had even left home without it; and then, im-
pelled by some impulse I never afterward ceased
to bless, had returned for it and dropped it into
my hand-bag.

I sat on the back seat of the wagon, directly
behind the driver, and for a time, as we entered
the darkening woods, his great shoulders blotted out
all perspective as he drove on in stolid silence.
Then, little by little, they disappeared like a rapidly
fading negative. The woods were filled with Norway
pines, hemlocks, spruce, and tamaracks-great,
somber trees that must have shut out the light even
on the brightest days. To-night the heavens held
no lamps aloft to guide us, and soon the darkness
folded around us like a garment. I could see neither
the driver nor his horses. I could hear only the
sibilant whisper of the trees and the creak of our
slow wheels in the rough forest road.

Suddenly the driver began to talk, and at first
I was glad to hear the reassuring human tones, for
the experience had begun to seem like a bad dream.
I replied readily, and at once regretted that I had
done so, for the man's choice of topics was most
unpleasant. He began to tell me stories of the
stockades--grim stories with horrible details, re-
peated so fully and with such gusto that I soon
realized he was deliberately affronting my ears.
I checked him and told him I could not listen to
such talk.

He replied with a series of oaths and shocking
vulgarities, stopping his horses that he might turn
and fling the words into my face. He ended by
snarling that I must think him a fool to imagine
he did not know the kind of woman I was. What
was I doing in that rough country, he demanded,
and why was I alone with him in those black woods
at night?

Though my heart missed a beat just then, I tried
to answer him calmly.

``You know perfectly well who I am,'' I reminded
him. ``And you understand that I am making this
journey to-night because I am to preach to-morrow
morning and there is no other way to keep my

He uttered a laugh which was a most unpleasant

``Well,'' he said, coolly, ``I'm damned if I'll take
you. I've got you here, and I'm going to keep you

I slipped my hand into the satchel in my lap, and
it touched my revolver. No touch of human fingers
ever brought such comfort. With a deep breath
of thanksgiving I drew it out and cocked it, and
as I did so he recognized the sudden click.

``Here! What have you got there?'' he snapped.

``I have a revolver,'' I replied, as steadily as I
could. ``And it is cocked and aimed straight at
your back. Now drive on. If you stop again, or
speak, I'll shoot you.''

For an instant or two he blustered.

``By God,'' he cried, ``you wouldn't dare.''

``Wouldn't I?'' I asked. ``Try me by speaking
just once more.''

Even as I spoke I felt my hair rise on my scalp
with the horror of the moment, which seemed worse
than any nightmare a woman could experience.
But the man was conquered by the knowledge of
the waiting, willing weapon just behind him. He
laid his whip savagely on the backs of his horses
and they responded with a leap that almost knocked
me out of the wagon.

The rest of the night was a black terror I shall
never forget. He did not speak again, nor stop,
but I dared not relax my caution for an instant.
Hour after hour crawled toward day, and still I
sat in the unpierced darkness, the revolver ready.
I knew he was inwardly raging, and that at any
instant he might make a sudden jump and try to
get the revolver away from me. I decided that
at his slightest movement I must shoot. But dawn
came at last, and just as its bluish light touched
the dark tips of the pines we drove up to the log
hotel in the settlement that was our destination.
Here my driver spoke.

``Get down,'' he said, gruffly. ``This is the place.''

I sat still. Even yet I dared not trust him.
Moreover, I was so stiff after my vigil that I was
not sure I could move.

``You get down,'' I directed, ``and wake up the
landlord. Bring him out here.''

He sullenly obeyed and aroused the hotel-owner,
and when the latter appeared I climbed out of the
wagon with some effort but without explanation.
That morning I preached in my friend's pulpit as I
had promised to do, and the rough building was
packed to its doors with lumbermen who had come
in from the neighboring camp. Their appearance
caused great surprise, as they had never attended
a service before. They formed a most picturesque
congregation, for they all wore brilliant lumber-camp
clothing--blue or red shirts with yellow scarfs
twisted around their waists, and gay-colored jackets
and logging-caps. There were forty or fifty of
them, and when we took up our collection they
responded with much liberality and cheerful shouts
to one another.

``Put in fifty cents!'' they yelled across the church.
``Give her a dollar!''

The collection was the largest that had been taken
up in the history of the settlement, but I soon
learned that it was not the spiritual comfort I
offered which had appealed to the lumber-men.
My driver of the night before, who was one of their
number, had told his pals of his experience, and the
whole camp had poured into town to see the woman
minister who carried a revolver.

``Her sermon?'' said one of them to my landlord,
after the meeting. ``Huh! I dunno what she
preached. But, say, don't make no mistake about
one thing: the little preacher has sure got grit!''



When I returned to Albion College in the
autumn of 1875 I brought with me a problem
which tormented me during my waking hours and
chattered on my pillow at night. Should I devote
two more years of my vanishing youth to the com-
pletion of my college course, or, instead, go at once
to Boston University, enter upon my theological
studies, take my degree, and be about my Father's

I was now twenty-seven years old, and I had been
a licensed preacher for three years. My reputation
in the Northwest was growing, and by sermons and
lectures I could certainly earn enough to pay the
expenses of the full college course. On the other
hand, Boston was a new world. There I would be
alone and practically penniless, and the oppor-
tunities for work might be limited. Quite possibly
in my final two years at Albion I could even save
enough money to make the experience in Boston
less difficult, and the clear common sense I had
inherited from my mother reminded me that in
this course lay wisdom. Possibly it was some in-
heritance from my visionary father which made
me, at the end of three months, waive these sage
reflections, pack my few possessions, and start for
Boston, where I entered the theological school of
the university in February, 1876.

It was an instance of stepping off a solid plank
and into space; and though there is exhilaration
in the sensation, as I discovered then and at later
crises in life when I did the same thing, there was
also an amount of subsequent discomfort for which
even my lively imagination had not prepared me.
I went through some grim months in Boston--
months during which I learned what it was to go
to bed cold and hungry, to wake up cold and hungry,
and to have no knowledge of how long these con-
ditions might continue. But not more than once or
twice during the struggle there, and then only for
an hour or two in the physical and mental depression
attending malnutrition, did I regret coming. At
that period of my life I believed that the Lord had
my small personal affairs very much on His mind.
If I starved and froze it was His test of my worthi-
ness for the ministry, and if He had really chosen
me for one of His servants, He would see me through.
The faith that sustained me then has still a place
in my life, and existence without it would be an
infinitely more dreary affair than it is. But I admit
that I now call upon the Lord less often and less
imperatively than I did before the stern years taught
me my unimportance in the great scheme of things.

My class at the theological school was composed
of forty-two young men and my unworthy self, and
before I had been a member of it an hour I realized
that women theologians paid heavily for the privilege
of being women. The young men of my class who
were licensed preachers were given free accommo-
dations in the dormitory, and their board, at a club
formed for their assistance, cost each of them only
one dollar and twenty-five cents a week. For me
no such kindly provision was made. I was not
allowed a place in the dormitory, but instead was
given two dollars a week to pay the rent of a room
outside. Neither was I admitted to the economical
comforts of the club, but fed myself according to
my income, a plan which worked admirably when
there was an income, but left an obvious void when
there was not.

With characteristic optimism, however, I hired a
little attic room on Tremont Street and established
myself therein. In lieu of a window the room
offered a pale skylight to the February storms, and
there was neither heat in it nor running water;
but its possession gave me a pleasant sense of
proprietorship, and the whole experience seemed a
high adventure. I at once sought opportunities to
preach and lecture, but these were even rarer than
firelight and food. In Albion I had been practically
the only licensed preacher available for substitute
and special work. In Boston University's three
theological classes there were a hundred men, each
snatching eagerly at the slightest possibility of
employment; and when, despite this competition,
I received and responded to an invitation to preach,
I never knew whether I was to be paid for my services
in cash or in compliments. If, by a happy chance,
the compensation came in cash, the amount was
rarely more than five dollars, and never more than
ten. There was no help in sight from my family,
whose early opposition to my career as a minister
had hotly flamed forth again when I started East.
I lived, therefore, on milk and crackers, and for
weeks at a time my hunger was never wholly satis-
fied. In my home in the wilderness I had often
heard the wolves prowling around our door at night.
Now, in Boston, I heard them even at high noon.

There is a special and almost indescribable de-
pression attending such conditions. No one who
has not experienced the combination of continued
cold, hunger, and loneliness in a great, strange,
indifferent city can realize how it undermines the
victim's nerves and even tears at the moral fiber.
The self-humiliation I experienced was also intense.
I had worked my way in the Northwest; why could
I not work my way in Boston? Was there, per-
haps, some lack in me and in my courage? Again
and again these questions rose in my mind and
poisoned my self-confidence. The one comfort I
had in those black days was the knowledge that no
one suspected the depth of the abyss in which I
dwelt. We were all struggling; to the indifferent
glance--and all glances were indifferent--my struggle
was no worse than that of my classmates whose
rooms and frugal meals were given them.

After a few months of this existence I was almost
ready to believe that the Lord's work for me lay
outside of the ministry, and while this fear was
gripping me a serious crisis came in my financial
affairs. The day dawned when I had not a cent,
nor any prospect of earning one. My stock of
provisions consisted of a box of biscuit, and my
courage was flowing from me like blood from an
opened vein. Then came one of the quick turns
of the wheel of chance which make for optimism.
Late in the afternoon I was asked to do a week of
revival work with a minister in a local church, and
when I accepted his invitation I mentally resolved
to let that week decide my fate. My shoes had
burst open at the sides; for lack of car-fare I had
to walk to and from the scene of my meetings, though
I had barely strength for the effort. If my week
of work brought me enough to buy a pair of cheap
shoes and feed me for a few days I would, I decided,
continue my theological course. If it did not, I
would give up the fight.

Never have I worked harder or better than during
those seven days, when I put into the effort not
only my heart and soul, but the last flame of my
dying vitality, We had a rousing revival--one of
the good old-time affairs when the mourners' benches
were constantly filled and the air resounded with
alleluias. The excitement and our success, mildly
aided by the box of biscuit, sustained me through the
week, and not until the last night did I realize how
much of me had gone into this final desperate charge
of mine. Then, the service over and the people
departed, I sank, weak and trembling, into a chair,
trying to pull myself together before hearing my
fate in the good-night words of the minister I had
assisted. When he came to me and began to com-
pliment me on the work I had done, I could not
rise. I sat still and listened with downcast eyes,
afraid to lift them lest he read in them something
of my need and panic in this moment when my whole
future seemed at stake.

At first his words rolled around the empty church
as if they were trying to get away from me, but
at last I began to catch them. I was, it seemed,
a most desirable helper. It had been a privilege
and a pleasure to be associated with me. Beyond
doubt, I would go far in my career. He heartily
wished that he could reward me adequately. I
deserved fifty dollars.

My tired heart fluttered at this. Probably my
empty stomach fluttered, too; but in the next
moment something seemed to catch my throat and
stop my breath. For it appeared that, notwith-
standing the enthusiasm and the spiritual uplift
of the week, the collections had been very disap-
pointing and the expenses unusually heavy. He
could not give me fifty dollars. He could not give
me anything at all. He thanked me warmly and
wished me good night.

I managed to answer him and to get to my feet,
but that journey down the aisle from my chair to
the church door was the longest journey I have ever
made. During it I felt not only the heart-sick
disappointment of the moment, but the cumulative
unhappiness of the years to come. I was friend-
less, penniless, and starving, but it was not of these
conditions that I thought then. The one over-
whelming fact was that I had been weighed and
found wanting. I was not worthy.

I stumbled along, passing blindly a woman who
stood on the street near the church entrance. She
stopped me, timidly, and held out her hand. Then
suddenly she put her arms around me and wept.
She was an old lady, and I did not know her, but it
seemed fitting that she should cry just then, as it
would have seemed fitting to me if at that black
moment all the people on the earth had broken into
sudden wailing.

``Oh, Miss Shaw,'' she said, ``I'm the happiest
woman in the world, and I owe my happiness to
you. To-night you have converted my grandson.
He's all I have left, but he has been a wild boy,
and I've prayed over him for years. Hereafter he
is going to lead a different life. He has just given
me his promise on his knees.''

Her hand fumbled in her purse.

``I am a poor woman,'' she went on, ``but I have
enough, and I want to make you a little present.
I know how hard life is for you young students.''

She pressed a bill into my fingers. ``It's very
little,'' she said, humbly; ``it is only five dollars.''

I laughed, and in that exultant moment I seemed
to hear life laughing with me. With the passing
of the bill from her hand to mine existence had
become a new experience, wonderful and beautiful.

``It's the biggest gift I have ever had,'' I told her.
``This little bill is big enough to carry my future
on its back!''

I had a good meal that night, and I bought the
shoes the next morning. Infinitely more sustaining
than the food, however, was the conviction that
the Lord was with me and had given me a sign of
His approval. The experience was the turning-
point of my theological career. When the money
was gone I succeeded in obtaining more work from
time to time--and though the grind was still cruelly
hard, I never again lost hope. The theological school
was on Bromfield Street, and we students climbed
three flights of stairs to reach our class-rooms.
Through lack of proper food I had become too
weak to ascend these stairs without sitting down
once or twice to rest, and within a month after my
experience with the appreciative grandmother I
was discovered during one of these resting periods
by Mrs. Barrett, the superintendent of the Woman's
Foreign Missionary Society, which had offices in
our building. She stopped, looked me over, and
then invited me into her room, where she asked
me if I felt ill. I assured her that I did not. She
asked a great many additional questions and, little
by little, under the womanly sympathy of them,
my reserve broke down and she finally got at the
truth, which until that hour I had succeeded in
concealing. She let me leave without much com-
ment, but the next day she again invited me into
her office and came directly to the purpose of the

``Miss Shaw,'' she said, ``I have been talking to a
friend of mine about you, and she would like to
make a bargain with you. She thinks you are work-
ing too hard. She will pay you three dollars and
a half a week for the rest of this school year if
you will promise to give up your preaching. She
wants you to rest, study, and take care of your

I asked the name of my unknown friend, but
Mrs. Barrett said that was to remain a secret. She
had been given a check for seventy-eight dollars,
and from this, she explained, my allowance would
be paid in weekly instalments. I took the money
very gratefully, and a few years later I returned
the amount to the Missionary Society; but I never
learned the identity of my benefactor. Her three
dollars and a half a week, added to the weekly two
dollars I was allowed for room rent, at once solved
the problem of living; and now that meal-hours
had a meaning in my life, my health improved and
my horizon brightened. I spent most of my evenings
in study, and my Sundays in the churches of Phil-
lips Brooks and James Freeman Clark, my favorite
ministers. Also, I joined the university's praying-
band of students, and took part in the missionary-
work among the women of the streets. I had never
forgotten my early friend in Lawrence, the beautiful
``mysterious lady'' who had loved me as a child,
and, in memory of her, I set earnestly about the
effort to help unfortunates of her class. I went
into the homes of these women, followed them to
the streets and the dance-halls, talked to them,
prayed with them, and made friends among them.
Some of them I was able to help, but many were
beyond help; and I soon learned that the effective
work in that field is the work which is done for
women before, not after, they have fallen.

During my vacation in the summer of 1876 I went
to Cape Cod and earned my expenses by substituting
in local pulpits. Here, at East Dennis, I formed the
friendship which brought me at once the greatest
happiness and the deepest sorrow of that period of
my life. My new friend was a widow whose name
was Persis Addy, and she was also the daughter of
Captain Prince Crowell, then the most prominent
man in the Cape Cod community--a bank president,
a railroad director, and a citizen of wealth, as wealth
was rated in those days. When I returned to the
theological school in the autumn Mrs. Addy came
to Boston with me, and from that time until her
death, two years later, we lived together. She was
immensely interested in my work, and the friendly
part she took in it diverted her mind from the be-
reavement over which she had brooded for years,
while to me her coming opened windows into a new
world. I was no longer lonely; and though in my
life with her I paid my way to the extent of my
small income, she gave me my first experience of an
existence in which comfort and culture, recreation,
and leisurely reading were cheerful commonplaces.
For the first time I had some one to come home to,
some one to confide in, some one to talk to, listen
to, and love. We read together and went to con-
certs together; and it was during this winter that I
attended my first theatrical performance. The star
was Mary Anderson, in ``Pygmalion and Galatea,''
and play and player charmed me so utterly that I
saw them every night that week, sitting high in the
gallery and enjoying to the utmost the unfolding of
this new delight. It was so glowing a pleasure that
I longed to make some return to the giver of it; but
not until many years afterward, when I met Ma-
dame Navarro in London, was I able to tell her
what the experience had been and to thank her
for it.

I did not long enjoy the glimpses into my new
world, for soon, and most tragically, it was closed
to me. In the spring following our first Boston
winter together Mrs. Addy and I went to Hingham,
Massachusetts, where I had been appointed tempo-
rary pastor of the Methodist Church. There Mrs.
Addy was taken ill, and as she grew steadily worse
we returned to Boston to live near the best availa-
ble physicians, who for months theorized over her
malady without being able to diagnose it. At last
her father, Captain Crowell, sent to Paris for Dr.
Brown-Sequard, then the most distinguished special-
ist of his day, and Dr. Brown-Sequard, when he
arrived and examined his patient, discovered that
she had a tumor on the brain. She had had a great
shock in her life--the tragic death of her husband
at sea during their wedding tour around the world--
and it was believed that her disease dated from that
time. Nothing could be done for her, and she failed
daily during our second year together, and died in
March, 1878, just before I finished my theological
course and while I was still temporary pastor of the
church at Hingham. Every moment I could take
from my parish and my studies I spent with her, and
those were sorrowful months. In her poor, tortured
brain the idea formed that I, not she, was the sick
person in our family of two, and when we were at
home together she insisted that I must lie down and
let her nurse me; then for hours she brooded over
me, trying to relieve the agony she believed I was
experiencing. When at last she was at peace her
father and I took her home to Cape Cod and laid
her in the graveyard of the little church where we
had met at the beginning of our brief and beautiful
friendship; and the subsequent loneliness I felt
was far greater than any I had ever suffered in the
past, for now I had learned the meaning of com-

Three months after Mrs. Addy's death I grad-
uated. She had planned to take me abroad, and
during our first winter together we had spent count-
less hours talking and dreaming of our European
wanderings. When she found that she must die she
made her will and left me fifteen hundred dollars
for the visit to Europe, insisting that I must carry
out the plan we had made; and during her conscious
periods she constantly talked of this and made me
promise that I would go. After her death it seemed
to me that to go without her was impossible. Every-
thing of beauty I looked upon would hold memories
of her, keeping fresh my sorrow and emphasizing
my loneliness; but it was her last expressed desire
that I should go, and I went.

First, however, I had graduated--clad in a brand-
new black silk gown, and with five dollars in my
pocket, which I kept there during the graduation
exercises. I felt a special satisfaction in the pos-
session of that money, for, notwithstanding the
handicap of being a woman, I was said to be the
only member of my class who had worked during
the entire course, graduated free from debt, and
had a new outfit as well as a few dollars in cash.

I graduated without any special honors. Pos-
sibly I might have won some if I had made the effort,
but my graduation year, as I have just explained,
had been very difficult. As it was, I was merely a
good average student, feeling my isolation as the
only woman in my class, but certainly not spurring
on my men associates by the display of any brilliant
gifts. Naturally, I missed a great deal of class
fellowship and class support, and throughout my
entire course I rarely entered my class-room with-
out the abysmal conviction that I was not really
wanted there. But some of the men were good-
humoredly cordial, and several of them are among
my friends to-day. Between myself and my family
there still existed the breach I had created when
I began to preach. With the exception of Mary and
James, my people openly regarded me, during my
theological course, as a dweller in outer darkness,
and even my mother's love was clouded by what
she felt to be my deliberate and persistent flouting
of her wishes.

Toward the end of my university experience, how-
ever, an incident occurred which apparently changed
my mother's viewpoint. She was now living with
my sister Mary, in Big Rapids, Michigan, and, on
the occasion of one of my rare and brief visits to
them I was invited to preach in the local church.
Here, for the first time, my mother heard me.
Dutifully escorted by one of my brothers, she at-
tended church that morning in a state of shivering
nervousness. I do not know what she expected me
to do or say, but toward the end of the sermon it
became clear that I had not justified her fears.
The look of intense apprehension left her eyes, her
features relaxed into placidity, and later in the day
she paid me the highest compliment I had yet re-
ceived from a member of my family.

``I liked the sermon very much,'' she peacefully
told my brother. ``Anna didn't say anything about
hell, or about anything else!''

When we laughed at this handsome tribute, she
hastened to qualify it.

``What I mean,'' she explained, ``is that Anna
didn't say anything objectionable in the pulpit!''
And with this recognition I was content.

Between the death of my friend and my departure
for Europe I buried myself in the work of the uni-
versity and of my little church; and as if in answer
to the call of my need, Mary E. Livermore, who had
given me the first professional encouragement I
had ever received, re-entered my life. Her husband,
like myself, was pastor of a church in Hingham, and
whenever his finances grew low, or there was need
of a fund for some special purpose--conditions that
usually exist in a small church--his brilliant wife
came to his assistance and raised the money, while
her husband retired modestly to the background
and regarded her with adoring eyes. On one of
these occasions, I remember, when she entered the
pulpit to preach her sermon, she dropped her bon-
net and coat on an unoccupied chair. A little later
there was need of this chair, and Mr. Livermore,
who sat under the pulpit, leaned forward, picked up
the garments, and, without the least trace of self-
consciousness, held them in his lap throughout the
sermon. One of the members of the church, who
appeared to be irritated by the incident, later spoke
of it to him and added, sardonically, ``How does it
feel to be merely `Mrs. Livermore's husband'?''

In reply Mr. Livermore flashed on him one of his
charming smiles. ``Why, I'm very proud of it,''
he said, with the utmost cheerfulness. ``You see,
I'm the only man in the world who has that dis-

They were a charming couple, the Livermores,
and they deserved far more than they received from
a world to which they gave so freely and so richly.
To me, as to others, they were more than kind; and
I never recall them without a deep feeling of grati-
tude and an equally deep sense of loss in their passing.

It was during this period, also, that I met Frances
E. Willard. There was a great Moody revival in
progress in Boston, and Miss Willard was the right-
hand assistant of Mr. Moody. To her that revival
must have been marked with a star, for during it
she met for the first time Miss Anna Gordon, who
became her life-long friend and her biographer.
The meetings also laid the foundation of our friend-
ship, and for many years Miss Willard and I were
closely associated in work and affection.

On the second or third night of the revival, dur-
ing one of the ``mixed meetings,'' attended by both
women and men, Mr. Moody invited those who were
willing to talk to sinners to come to the front. I
went down the aisle with others, and found a seat
near Miss Willard, to whom I was then introduced
by some one who knew us both. I wore my hair
short in those days, and I had a little fur cap on my
head. Though I had been preaching for several
years, I looked absurdly young--far too young, it
soon became evident, to interest Mr. Moody. He
was already moving about among the men and
women who had responded to his invitation, and
one by one he invited them to speak, passing me
each time until at last I was left alone. Then he
took pity on me and came to my side to whisper
kindly that I had misunderstood his invitation.
He did not want young girls to talk to his people,
he said, but mature women with worldly experi-
ence. He advised me to go home to my mother,
adding, to soften the blow, that some time in the
future when there were young girls at the meeting
I could come and talk to them.

I made no explanations to him, but started to
leave, and Miss Willard, who saw me departing, fol-
lowed and stopped me. She asked why I was going,
and I told her that Mr. Moody had sent me home
to grow. Frances Willard had a keen sense of humor,
and she enjoyed the joke so thoroughly that she
finally convinced me it was amusing, though at first
the humor of it had escaped me. She took me back
to Mr. Moody and explained the situation to him,
and he apologized and put me to work. He said
he had thought I was about sixteen. After that I
occasionally helped him in the intervals of my other

The time had come to follow Mrs. Addy's wishes
and go to Europe, and I sailed in the month of
June following my graduation, and traveled for three
months with a party of tourists under the direction
of Eben Tourgee, of the Boston Conservatory of
Music. We landed in Glasgow, and from there
went to England, Belgium, Holland, Germany,
France, and last of all to Italy. Our company in-
cluded many clergymen and a never-to-be-forgotten
widow whose light-hearted attitude toward the mem-
ory of her departed spouse furnished the comedy
of our first voyage. It became a pet diversion to
ask her if her husband still lived, for she always
answered the question in the same mournful words,
and with the same manner of irrepressible gaiety.

``Oh no!'' she would chirp. ``My dear departed
has been in our Heavenly Father's house for the
past eight years!''

At its best, the vacation without my friend was
tragically incomplete, and only a few of its incidents
stand out with clearness across the forty-six years
that have passed since then. One morning, I re-
member, I preached an impromptu sermon in the
Castle of Heidelberg before a large gathering; and
a little later, in Genoa, I preached a very different
sermon to a wholly different congregation. There
was a gospel-ship in the harbor, and one Saturday
the pastor of it came ashore to ask if some American
clergyman in our party would preach on his ship
the next morning. He was an old-time, orthodox
Presbyterian, and from the tips of his broad-soled
shoes to the severe part in the hair above his sancti-
monious brow he looked the type. I was not pres-
sent when he called at our hotel, and my absence
gave my fellow-clergymen an opportunity to play a
joke on the gentleman from the gospel-ship. They
assured him that ``Dr. Shaw'' would preach for him,
and the pastor returned to his post greatly pleased.
When they told me of his invitation, however, they
did not add that they had neglected to tell him Dr.
Shaw was a woman, and I was greatly elated by
the compliment I thought had been paid me.

Our entire party of thirty went out to the gospel-
ship the next morning, and when the pastor came
to meet us, lank and forbidding, his austere lips vainly
trying to curve into a smile of welcome, they intro-
duced me to him as the minister who was to deliver
the sermon. He had just taken my hand; he
dropped it as if it had burned his own. For a mo-
ment he had no words to meet the crisis. Then he
stuttered something to the effect that the situation
was impossible that his men would not listen to
a woman, that they would mob her, that it would
be blasphemous for a woman to preach. My asso-
ciates, who had so light-heartedly let me in for this
unpleasant experience, now realized that they must
see me through it. They persuaded him to allow
me to preach the sermon.

With deep reluctance the pastor finally accepted
me and the situation; but when the moment came
to introduce me, he devoted most of his time to
heartfelt apologies for my presence. He explained
to the sailors that I was a woman, and fervidly
assured them that he himself was not responsible
for my appearance there. With every word he ut-
tered he put a brick in the wall he was building be-
tween me and the crew, until at last I felt that I
could never get past it. I was very unhappy, very
lonely, very homesick; and suddenly the thought
came to me that these men, notwithstanding their
sullen eyes and forbidding faces, might be lonely
and homesick, too. I decided to talk to them as a
woman and not as a minister, and I came down from
the pulpit and faced them on their own level, look-
ing them over and mentally selecting the hardest
specimens of the lot as the special objects of my
appeal. One old fellow, who looked like a pirate
with his red-rimmed eyes, weather-beaten skin, and
fimbriated face, grinned up at me in such sardonic
challenge that I walked directly in front of him and
began to speak. I said:

``My friends, I hope you will forget everything
Dr. Blank has just said. It is true that I am a
minister, and that I came here to preach. But now
I do not intend to preach--only to have a friendly
talk, on a text which is not in the Bible. I am very
far from home, and I feel as homesick as some of
you men look. So my text is, `Blessed are the home-
sick, for they shall go home.' ''

In my summers at Cape Cod I had learned some-
thing about sailors. I knew that in the inprepos-
sessing congregation before me there were many
boys who had run away from home, and men who
had left home because of family troubles. I talked
to the young men first, to those who had forgotten
their mothers and thought their mothers had for-
gotten them, and I told of my experiences with
waiting, heavy-hearted mothers who had sons at
sea. Some heads went down at that, and here and
there I saw a boy gulp, but the old fellow I was par-
ticularly anxious to move still grinned up at me like
a malicious monkey. Then I talked of the sailor's
wife, and of her double burden of homemaking and
anxiety, and soon I could pick out some of the hus-
bands by their softened faces. But still my old
man grinned and squinted. Last of all I described
the whalers who were absent from home for years,
and who came back to find their children and their
grandchildren waiting for them. I told how I had
seen them, in our New England coast towns, covered,
as a ship is covered with barnacles, by grandchildren
who rode on their shoulders and sat astride of their
necks as they walked down the village streets. And
now at last the sneer left my old man's loose lips.
He had grandchildren somewhere. He twisted un-
easily in his seat, coughed, and finally took out a big
red handkerchief and wiped his eyes. The episode
encouraged me.

``When I came here,'' I added, ``I intended to
preach a sermon on `The Heavenly Vision.' Now I
want to give you a glimpse of that in addition to
the vision we have had of home.''

I ended with a bit of the sermon and a prayer,
and when I raised my head the old man of the sar-
donic grin was standing before me.

``Missus,'' he said in a husky whisper, ``I'd like
to shake your hand.''

I took his hard old fist, and then, seeing that
many of the other sailors were beginning to move
hospitably but shyly toward me, I said:

``I would like to shake hands with every man

At the words they surged forward, and the affair
became a reception, during which I shook hands
with every sailor of my congregation. The next day
my hand was swollen out of shape, for the sailors had
gripped it as if they were hauling on a hawser; but
the experience was worth the discomfort. The best
moment of the morning came, however, when the
pastor of the ship faced me, goggle-eyed and mar-

``I wouldn't have believed it,'' was all he could
say. ``I thought the men would mob you.''

``Why should they mob me?'' I wanted to know.

``Why,'' he stammered, ``because the thing is so

``Well,'' I said, ``if it is unnatural for women to
talk to men, we have been living in an unnatural
world for a long time. Moreover, if it is unnatural,
why did Jesus send a woman out as the first preach-

He waived a discussion of that question by invit-
ing us all to his cabin to drink wine with him--and
as we were ``total abstainers,'' it seemed as un-
natural to us to have him offer us wine as a woman's
preaching had seemed to him.

The next European incident on which memory
throws a high-light was our audience with Pope
Leo XIII. As there were several distinguished
Americans in our party, a private audience was ar-
ranged for us, and for days before the time appointed
we nervously rehearsed the etiquette of the oc-
casion. When we reached the Vatican we were
marched between rows of Swiss Guards to the
Throne Room, only to learn there that we were to
be received in the Tapestry Room. Here we found
a very impressive assemblage of cardinals and
Vatican officials, and while we were still lost in the
beauty of the picture they made against the room's
superb background, the approach of the Pope was
announced. Every one immediately knelt, except a
few persons who tried to show their democracy by
standing; but I am sure that even these individuals
felt a thrill when the slight, exquisite figure appeared
at the door and gave us a general benediction. Then
the Pope passed slowly down the line, offering his
hand to each of us, and radiating a charm so gracious
and so human that few failed to respond to the
appeal of his engaging personality. There was
nothing fleshly about Leo XIII. His body was so
frail, so wraithlike, that one almost expected to see
through it the magnificent tapestries on the walls.
But from the moment he appeared every eye clung
to him, every thought was concentrated upon him.
This effect I think he would have produced even if
he had come among us unrecognized, for through
the thin shell that housed it shone the steady flame
of a wonderful spirit.

I had previously remarked to my friends that
kissing the Pope's ring after so many other lips had
touched it did not appeal to me as hygienic, and that
I intended to kiss his hand instead. When my op-
portunity came I kept my word; but after I had
kissed the venerable hand I remained kneeling for
an instant with bowed head, a little aghast at my
daring. The gentle Father thought, however, that
I was waiting for a special blessing. He gave it to
me gravely and passed on, and I devoted the next
few hours to ungodly crowing over the associ-
ates who had received no such individual atten-

In Venice we attended the great fete celebrating
the first visit of King Humbert and Queen Mar-
gherita. It was also the first time Venice had en-
tertained a queen since the Italian union, and the
sea-queen of the Adriatic outdid herself in the gor-
geousness and the beauty of her preparations. The
Grand Canal was like a flowing rainbow, reflecting
the brilliant decorations on every side, and at night
the moonlight, the music, the chiming church-bells,
the colored lanterns, the gay voices, the lapping
waters against the sides of countless gondolas made
the experience seem like a dream of a new and un-
believably beautiful world. Forty thousand per-
sons were gathered in the Square of St. Mark and
in front of the Palace, and I recall a pretty incident
in which the gracious Queen and a little street
urchin figured. The small, ragged boy had crept
as close to the royal balcony as he dared, and then,
unobserved, had climbed up one of its pillars. At
the moment when a sudden hush had fallen on the
crowd this infant, overcome by patriotism and a
glimpse of the royal lady on the balcony above him,
suddenly piped up shrilly in the silence. `` Long live
the Queen!'' he cried. ``Long live the Queen!''

The gracious Margherita heard the childish voice,
and, amused and interested, leaned over the bal-
cony to see where it came from. What she saw
doubtless touched the mother-heart in her. She
caught the eye of the tattered urchin clinging to the
pillar, and radiantly smiled on him. Then, prob-
ably thinking that the King was absorbing the at-
tention of the great assemblage, she indulged in a
little diversion. Leaning far forward, she kissed the
tip of her lace handkerchief and swept it caressingly
across the boy's brown cheek, smiling down at him
as unconsciously as if she and the enraptured young-
ster were alone together in the world. The next
instant she had straightened up and flushed, for the
watchful crowd had seen the episode and was wild
with enthusiasm. For ten minutes the people
cheered the Queen without ceasing, and for the next
few days they talked of little but the spontaneous,
girlish action which had delighted them all.

One more sentimental record, and I shall have
reached another mile-stone. As I have said, my
friend Mrs. Addy left me in her will fifteen hundred
dollars for my visit to Europe, and before I sailed
her father, who was one of the best friends I have
ever had, made a characteristically kind proposition
in connection with the little fund. Instead of giving
me the money, he gave me two railroad bonds, one
for one thousand dollars, the other for five hundred
dollars, and each drawing seven per cent. interest.
He suggested that I deposit these bonds in the bank
of which he was president, and borrow from the
bank the money to go abroad. Then, when I re-
turned and went into my new parish, I could use
some of my salary every month toward repaying
the loan. These monthly payments, he explained,
could be as small as I wished, but each month the
interest on the amount I paid would cease. I glad-
ly took his advice and borrowed seven hundred
dollars. After I returned from Europe I repaid the
loan in monthly instalments, and eventually got my
bonds, which I still own. They will mature in 1916.
I have had one hundred and five dollars a year from
them, in interest, ever since I received them in 1878
--more than twice as much interest as their face
value--and every time I have gone abroad I have
used this interest toward paying my passage. Thus
my friend has had a share in each of the many visits
I have made to Europe, and in all of them her
memory has been vividly with me.

With my return from Europe my real career as
a minister began. The year in the pulpit at Hing-
ham had been merely tentative, and though I had
succeeded in building up the church membership to
four times what it had been when I took charge, I
was not reappointed. I had paid off a small church
debt, and had had the building repaired, painted, and
carpeted. Now that it was out of its difficulties it
offered some advantages to the occupant of its pul-
pit, and of these my successor, a man, received the
benefit. I, however, had small ground for com-
plaint, for I was at once offered and accepted the
pastorate of a church at East Dennis, Cape Cod.
Here I went in October, 1878, and here I spent seven
of the most interesting years of my life.



On my return from Europe, as I have said, I
took up immediately and most buoyantly the
work of my new parish. My previous occupation
of various pulpits, whether long or short, had always
been in the role of a substitute. Now, for the first
time, I had a church of my own, and was to stand
or fall by the record made in it. The ink was barely
dry on my diploma from the Boston Theological
School, and, as it happened, the little church to
which I was called was in the hands of two warring
factions, whose battles furnished the most fervid
interest of the Cape Cod community. But my in-
experience disturbed me not at all, and I was bliss-
fully ignorant of the division in the congregation.
So I entered my new field as trustfully as a child
enters a garden; and though I was in trouble from
the beginning, and resigned three times in startling
succession, I ended by remaining seven years.

My appointment did not cause even a lull in the
warfare among my parishioners. Before I had
crossed the threshold of my church I was made to
realize that I was shepherd of a divided flock.
Exactly what had caused the original breach I never
learned; but it had widened with time, until it
seemed that no peacemaker could build a bridge
large enough to span it. As soon as I arrived in
East Dennis each faction tried to pour into my ears
its bitter criticisms of the other, but I made and
consistently followed the safe rule of refusing to
listen to either side, I announced publicly that I
would hear no verbal charges whatever, but that if
my two flocks would state their troubles in writing
I would call a board meeting to discuss and pass
upon them. This they both resolutely refused to
do (it was apparently the first time they had ever
agreed on any point); and as I steadily declined
to listen to complaints, they devised an original
method of putting them before me.

During the regular Thursday-night prayer-meet-
ing, held about two weeks after my arrival, and at
which, of course, I presided, they voiced their diffi-
culties in public prayer, loudly and urgently calling
upon the Lord to pardon such and such a liar, men-
tioning the gentleman by name, and such and such
a slanderer, whose name was also submitted. By
the time the prayers were ended there were few un-
tarnished reputations in the congregation, and I
knew, perforce, what both sides had to say.

The following Thursday night they did the same
thing, filling their prayers with intimate and sur-
prising details of one another's history, and I en-
dured the situation solely because I did not know
how to meet it. I was still young, and my theo-
logical course had set no guide-posts on roads as
new as these. To interfere with souls in their com-
munion with God seemed impossible; to let them
continue to utter personal attacks in church, under
cover of prayer, was equally impossible. Any course I
could follow seemed to lead away from my new parish,
yet both duty and pride made prompt action neces-
sary. By the time we gathered for the third prayer-
meeting I had decided what to do, and before the
services began I rose and addressed my erring chil-
dren. I explained that the character of the prayers
at our recent meetings was making us the laughing-
stock of the community, that unbelievers were
ridiculing our religion, and that the discipline of
the church was being wrecked; and I ended with
these words, each of which I had carefully weighed:

``Now one of two things must happen. Either
you will stop this kind of praying, or you will re-
main away from our meetings. We will hold prayer-
meetings on another night, and I shall refuse ad-
mission to any among you who bring personal criti-
cisms into your public prayers.''

As I had expected it to do, the announcement
created an immediate uproar. Both factions sprang
to their feet, trying to talk at once. The storm
raged until I dismissed the congregation, telling the
members that their conduct was an insult to the
Lord, and that I would not listen to either their
protests or their prayers. They went unwillingly,
but they went; and the excitement the next day
raised the sick from their beds to talk of it, and
swept the length and breadth of Cape Cod. The
following Sunday the little church held the largest
attendance in its history. Seemingly, every man
and woman in town had come to hear what more
I would say about the trouble, but I ignored the
whole matter. I preached the sermon I had pre-
pared, the subject of which was as remote from
church quarrels as our atmosphere was remote from
peace, and my congregation dispersed with expres-
sions of such artless disappointment that it was all
I could do to preserve a dignified gravity.

That night, however, the war was brought into
my camp. At the evening meeting the leader of one
of the factions rose to his feet with the obvious pur-
pose of starting trouble. He was a retired sea-cap-
tain, of the ruthless type that knocks a man down
with a belaying-pin, and he made his attack on me
in a characteristically ``straight from the shoulder''
fashion. He began with the proposition that my
morning sermon had been ``entirely contrary to the
Scriptures,'' and for ten minutes he quoted and mis-
quoted me, hammering in his points. I let him go
on without interruption. Then he added:

``And this gal comes to this church and under-
takes to tell us how we shall pray. That's a high-
handed measure, and I, for one, ain't goin' to stand
it. I want to say right here that I shall pray as I
like, when I like, and where I like. I have prayed
in this heavenly way for fifty years before that gal
was born, and she can't dictate to me now!''

By this time the whole congregation was aroused,
and cries of ``Sit down!'' ``Sit down!'' came from
every side of the church. It was a hard moment,
but I was able to rise with some show of dignity.
I was hurt through and through, but my fighting
blood was stirring.

``No,'' I said, ``Captain Sears has the floor. Let
him say now all he wishes to say, for it is the last
time he will ever speak at one of our meetings.''

Captain Sears, whose exertions had already made
him apoplectic, turned a darker purple. ``What's
that?'' he shouted. ``What d'ye mean?''

``I mean,'' I replied, ``that I do not intend to
allow you or anybody else to interfere with my
meetings. You are a sea-captain. What would
you do to me if I came on board your ship and
started a mutiny in your crew, or tried to give you

Captain Sears did not reply. He stood still, with
his legs far apart and braced, as he always stood
when talking, but his eyes shifted a little. I answered
my own question.

``You would put me ashore or in irons,'' I re-
minded him. ``Now, Captain Sears, I intend to
put you ashore. I am the master of this ship. I
have set my course, and I mean to follow it. If
you rebel, either you will get out or I will. But
until the board asks for my resignation, I am in

As it happened, I had put my ultimatum in the
one form the old man could understand. He sat
down without a word and stared at me. We sang
the Doxology, and I dismissed the meeting. Again
we had omitted prayers. The next day Captain
Sears sent me a letter recalling his subscription tow-
ard the support of the church; and for weeks he
remained away from our services, returning under
conditions I will mention later. Even at the time,
however, his attack helped rather than hurt me.
At the regular meeting the following Thursday
night no personal criticisms were included in the
prayers, and eventually we had peace. But many
battles were lost and won before that happy day

Captain Sears's vacant place among us was
promptly taken by another captain in East Dennis,
whose name was also Sears. A few days after my
encounter with the first captain I met the second on
the street. He had never come to church, and I
stopped and invited him to do so. He replied with
simple candor.

``I ain't comin','' he told me. ``There ain't no
gal that can teach me nothin'.''

``Perhaps you are wrong, Captain Sears,'' I re-
plied. ``I might teach you something.''

``What?'' demanded the captain, with chilling

``Oh,'' I said, cheerfully, ``let us say tolerance, for
one thing.''

``Humph!'' muttered the old man. ``The Lord
don't want none of your tolerance, and neither
do I.''

I laughed. ``He doesn't object to tolerance,'' I
said. ``Come to church. You can talk, too; and
the Lord will listen to us both.''

To my surprise, the captain came the following
Sunday, and during the seven years I remained in
the church he was one of my strongest supporters
and friends. I needed friends, for my second battle
was not slow in following my first. There was, in-
deed, barely time between in which to care for the

We had in East Dennis what was known as the
``Free Religious Group,'' and when some of the
members of my congregation were not wrangling
among themselves, they were usually locking horns
with this group. For years, I was told, one of the
prime diversions of the ``Free Religious'' faction
was to have a dance in our town hall on the night
when we were using it for our annual church fair.
The rules of the church positively prohibited danc-
ing, so the worldly group took peculiar pleasure in
attending the fair, and during the evening in getting
up a dance and whirling about among us, to the
horror of our members. Then they spent the re-
mainder of the year boasting of the achievement.
It came to my ears that they had decided to follow
this pleasing programme at our Christmas church
celebration, so I called the church trustees together
and put the situation to them.

``We must either enforce our discipline,'' I said,
``or give it up. Personally I do not object to danc-
ing, but, as the church has ruled against it, I intend
to uphold the church. To allow these people to
make us ridiculous year after year is impossible.
Let us either tell them that they may dance or that
they may not dance; but whatever we tell them,
let us make them obey our ruling.''

The trustees were shocked at the mere suggestion
of letting them dance.

``Very well,'' I ended. ``Then they shall not
dance. That is understood.''

Captain Crowell, the father of my dead friend
Mrs. Addy, and himself my best man friend, was a
strong supporter of the Free Religious Group.
When its members raced to him with the news that
I had said they could not dance at the church's
Christmas party, Captain Crowell laughed good-
humoredly and told them to dance as much as they
pleased, cheerfully adding that he would get them
out of any trouble they got into. Knowing my
friendship for him, and that I even owed my church
appointment to him, the Free Religious people
were certain that I would never take issue with him
on dancing or on any other point. They made all
their preparations for the dance, therefore, with
entire confidence, and boasted that the affair would
be the gayest they had ever arranged. My people
began to look at me with sympathy, and for a time
I felt very sorry for myself. It seemed sufficiently
clear that ``the gal'' was to have more trouble.

On the night of the party things went badly from
the first. There was an evident intention among
the worst of the Free Religious Group to embarrass
us at every turn. We opened the exercises with the
Lord's Prayer, which this element loudly applauded.
A live kitten was hung high on the Christmas tree,
where it squalled mournfully beyond reach of
rescue, and the young men of the outside group
threw cake at one another across the hall. Finally
tiring of these innocent diversions, they began to
prepare for their dance, and I protested. The
spokesman of the group waved me to one side.

``Captain Crowell said we could,'' he remarked,

``Captain Crowell,'' I replied, ``has no authority
whatever in this matter. The church trustees have
decided that you cannot dance here, and I intend
to enforce their ruling.''

It was interesting to observe how rapidly the
men of my congregation disappeared from that hall.
Like shadows they crept along the walls and vanished
through the doors. But the preparations for the
dance went merrily on. I walked to the middle of
the room and raised my voice. I was always listened
to, for my hearers always had the hope, usually
realized, that I was about to get into more trouble.

``You are determined to dance,'' I began. ``I
cannot keep you from doing so. But I can and will
make you regret that you have done so. The law
of the State of Massachusetts is very definite in re-
gard to religious meetings and religious gatherings.
This hall was engaged and paid for by the Wesleyan
Methodist Church, of which I am pastor, and we
have full control of it to-night. Every man and
woman who interrupts our exercises by attempting
to dance, or by creating a disturbance of any kind,
will be arrested to-morrow morning.''

Surprise at first, then consternation, swept through
the ranks of the Free Religious Group. They denied
the existence of such a law as I had mentioned, and
I promptly read it aloud to them. The leaders went
off into a corner and consulted. By this time not
one man in my parish was left in the hall. As a
result of the consultation in the corner, a committee
of the would-be dancers came to me and suggested
a compromise.

``Will you agree to arrest the men only?'' they
wanted to know.

``No,'' I declared. ``On the contrary, I shall have
the women arrested first! For the women ought to
be standing with me now in the support of law and
order, instead of siding with the hoodlum element
you represent.''

That settled it. No girl or woman dared to go
on the dancing-floor, and no man cared to revolve
merrily by himself. A whisper went round, how-
ever, that the dance would begin when I had left.
When the clock struck twelve, at which hour, ac-
cording to the town rule, the hall had to be closed,
I was the last person to leave it. Then I locked the
door myself, and carried the key away with me.
There had been no Free Religious dance that night.

On the following Sunday morning the attendance
at my church broke all previous records. Every
seat was occupied and every aisle was filled. Men
and women came from surrounding towns, and
strange horses were tied to all the fences in East
Dennis. Every person in that church was looking
for excitement, and this time my congregation got
what it expected. Before I began my sermon I
read my resignation, to take effect at the discretion
of the trustees. Then, as it was presumably my
last chance to tell the people and the place what I
thought of them, I spent an hour and a half in fer-
vidly doing so. In my study of English I had ac-
quired a fairly large vocabulary. I think I used it
all that morning--certainly I tried to. If ever an
erring congregation and community saw themselves
as they really were, mine did on that occasion. I
was heartsick, discouraged, and full of resentment
and indignation, which until then had been pent
up. Under the arraignment my people writhed
and squirmed. I ended:

``What I am saying hurts you, but in your hearts
you know you deserve every word of it. It is high
time you saw yourselves as you are--a disgrace to
the religion you profess and to the community you
live in.''

I was not sure the congregation would let me
finish, but it did. My hearers seemed torn by
conflicting sentiments, in which anger and curios-
ity led opposing sides. Many of them left the
church in a white fury, but others--more than I had
expected--remained to speak to me and assure me
of their sympathy. Once on the streets, different
groups formed and mingled, and all day the little
town rocked with arguments for and against ``the gal.''

Night brought another surprisingly large attend-
ance. I expected more trouble, and I faced it with
difficulty, for I was very tired. Just as I took my
place in the pulpit, Captain Sears entered the church
and walked down the aisle--the Captain Sears who
had left us at my invitation some weeks before
and had not since attended a church service. I was
sure he was there to make another attack on me
while I was down, and, expecting the worst, I
wearily gave him his opportunity. The big old fel-
low stood up, braced himself on legs far apart, as
if he were standing on a slippery deck during a high
sea, and gave the congregation its biggest surprise
of the year.

He said he had come to make a confession. He
had been angry with ``the gal'' in the past, as they
all knew. But he had heard about the sermon she
had preached that morning, and this time she was
right. It was high time quarreling and backbiting
were stopped. They had been going on too long,
and no good could come of them. Moreover, in
all the years he had been a member of that congre-
gation he had never until now seen the pulpit oc-
cupied by a minister with enough backbone to up-
hold the discipline of the church. ``I've come here
to say I'm with the gal,'' he ended. ``Put me down
for my original subscription and ten dollars extra!''

So we had the old man back again. He was a
tower of strength, and he stood by me faithfully
until he died. The trustees would not accept my
resignation (indeed, they refused to consider it at all),
and the congregation, when it had thought things
over, apparently decided that there might be worse
things in the pulpit than ``the gal.'' It was even
known to brag of what it called my ``spunk,'' and
perhaps it was this quality, rather than any other,
which I most needed in that particular parish at
that time. As for me, when the fight was over I
dropped it from my mind, and it had not entered
my thoughts for years, until I began to summon
these memories.

At the end of my first six months in East Dennis
I was asked to take on, also, the temporary charge
of the Congregational Church at Dennis, two miles
and a half away. I agreed to do this until a per-
manent pastor could be found, on condition that I
should preach at Dennis on Sunday afternoons, using


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