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Dear Mary, shall I attempt to describe to you the feeling that
over-powered me on the receipt of these tidings? If I did, you never could
feel it with me: for I could not picture in words the joy that I felt at
the prospect of beholding again the mother whom I loved beyond all
expression, and who was my friend besides; for we really never thought of
each other in our relation of mother and child, but as two who were bound
together as friends in thought and in feeling. No: I cannot give you a
description of this, especially as it was mingled with the fear that I
might not have the means to go to greet her in New York before another ten
months were over. Day and night, night and day, she was in my mind; and,
from the time that I had a right to expect her arrival, I counted the
hours from morning until noon, and from noon until night, when the
telegraph office would be closed. At length, on the 18th of September, the
despatch came,--not to me, but to my friend Mr. Mayo,--bearing the words,
"Tell Marie that she must calmly and quietly receive the news that our
good mother sleeps at the bottom of the ocean, which serves as her
monument and her grave." Mary, this is the most trying passage that I have
to write in this sketch of my life; and you must not think me weak that
tears blot the words as I write. My mother fell a victim to sea-sickness
which brought on a violent hemorrhage, that exhausted the sources of life.
She died three weeks before the vessel reached the port; and my two
sisters (the one seventeen and the other nine years of age) chose rather
to have her lowered on the Banks of Newfoundland, than bring to us a
corpse instead of the living. They were right; and the great ocean seems
to me her fitting monument.

Of course, upon the receipt of these tidings, I could remain no longer in
Cleveland, but took my last money, and went to New York to stay for a
while with my afflicted brother and sisters. The journey was very
beneficial to me; for, without it, I should not have been able to go
through my winter's study. During my stay in New York, I often visited Dr.
Elizabeth Blackwell, and learned that the little dispensary was closed
because her practice prevented her from attending it regularly; but that,
during my absence, she had been trying to interest some wealthy friends
in the collection of money, to enable us, after my return in the spring,
to commence again upon a little larger scale. To effect this, she proposed
to hold a fair during the winter after my return; and we concluded that
the first meeting for this purpose should be held during my visit in New
York. She succeeded in calling together a few friends at her house, who
determined to form a nucleus for a Fair Association for the purpose of
raising money for the New-York Infirmary.

I made a visit of a few days to Boston, and then returned again to
Cleveland. The winter passed in very much the same manner as the first,
with the difference that I spoke better English, and visited many friends
whom I had made during the preceding year. In the spring of 1856, I
graduated. Shortly after commencement, the Dean of the College (Dr.
Delamater) called upon me at the house of a friend with whom I was staying
on a visit. A call from this venerable gentleman was a thing so unusual,
that numberless conjectures as to what this visit might mean flitted
through my brain on my way to the parlor. He received me, as usual,
paternally; wished me a thousand blessings; and handed back to me the note
for one hundred and twenty dollars, payable in two years, which I had
given for the lecture-fees; telling me, that, in the meeting of the
Faculty after graduating-day it was proposed by one of the professors to
return the note to me as a gift; to which those present cheerfully gave a
unanimous vote, adding their wishes for my success, and appointing Dr.
Delamater as their delegate to inform me of the proceedings. This was a
glorious beginning, for which I am more than thankful, and for which I was
especially so at that time, when I had barely money enough to return to
New York, with very small prospects of getting means wherewith to commence
practice. The mention of this fact might be thought indiscreet by the
Faculty in Cleveland, were they still so organized as to admit women;
which, I am sorry to say, is no longer the case; though they give as their
reason, that women at present have their own medical colleges, and,
consequently, have no longer need of theirs.

Before I quit the subject of the Cleveland College I must mention a fact,
which may serve as an argument against the belief that the sexes cannot
study together without exerting an injurious effect upon each other.
During the last winter of my study, there was such emulation in respect to
the graduating honors among the candidates for graduation comprising
thirty-eight male and four female students, that all studied more closely
than they had ever done before--the men not wishing to be excelled by the
women, nor the women by the men; and one of the professors afterwards told
me, that whereas it was usually a difficult thing to decide upon the three
best theses to be read publicly at the commencement, since all were more
or less indifferently written, this year the theses were all so good, that
it was necessary, to avoid doing absolute injustice, to select thirteen
from which parts should be read. Does not this prove that the stimulus of
the one sex upon the other would act rather favorably than otherwise upon
the profession? and would not the very best tonic that could be given to
the individual be to pique his _amour propre_ by the danger of being
excelled by one of the opposite sex? Is not this natural? and would not
this be the best and the surest reformation of humanity and its social
condition, if left free to work out its own development?

On the day following the visit of Dr. Delamater, I received a letter from
my brother-in-law, in which he told me that his business compelled him to
go to Europe for half a year; and that he had, therefore, made
arrangements for me to procure money, in case that I should need it to
commence my practice. He said that he intended to assist me afterwards;
but that, as he thought it best for my sister (his wife) to live out of
New York during his absence, he was willing to lend me as much money as I
required until his return. I accepted his offer with infinite pleasure;
for it was another instance of real friendship. He was by no means a rich
man, but was simply in the employ of a large importing house.

With these prospects I left Cleveland. Immediately after my arrival in New
York, I began to look out for a suitable office; consulting Dr. Elizabeth
Blackwell, with whom I had maintained a constant correspondence, in regard
to location. I soon found that I could not obtain a respectable room
without paying an exorbitant price. Some were afraid to let an office to a
female physician, lest she might turn out a spiritual medium, clairvoyant
hydropathist, &c.; others, who believed me when I told them that I had a
diploma from a regular school, and should never practise contrary to its
requirements, inquired to what religious denomination I belonged, and
whether I had a private fortune, or intended to support myself by my
practice; while the third class, who asked no questions at all, demanded
three dollars a day for a back parlor alone, without the privilege of
putting a sign on the house or the door. Now, all this may be very
aggravating, when it is absolutely necessary that one should have a place
upon which to put a sign to let the world know that she is ready to try
her skill upon suffering humanity; but it has such a strongly ludicrous
side, that I could not be provoked, in spite of all the fatigue and
disappointment of wandering over the city, when, with aching limbs, I
commenced the search afresh each morning, with the same prospect of
success. I finally gave up looking for a room, and accepted Dr. Elizabeth
Blackwell's offer; to occupy her back parlor (the front one serving as her
own office); of which I took possession on the 17th of April.

Meanwhile, I had regularly attended the Thursday fair-meetings; wondering
how persons could afford to meet to so little purpose. There was scarcely
any life in these gatherings; and, when I saw ladies come week after week
to resume the knitting of a baby's stocking (which was always laid aside
again in an hour or two, without any marked progress), I began to doubt
whether the sale of these articles would ever bring ten thousand cents,
instead of the ten thousand dollars which it was proposed at the first
meeting to raise in order to buy a house. I used to say on Wednesday,
"To-morrow we have our fair-meeting. I wonder whether there will be, as
usual, two and a half persons present, or three and three-quarters."

I grew at length heartily sick of this kind of effort, and set about
speculating what better could be done. The idea occurred to me to go from
house to house, and ask for a dime at each, which, if given, would amount
to ten dollars a day; and, with the money thus collected daily for half a
year, to establish a nucleus hospital, which, as a fixed fact, should
stimulate its friends to further assistance.

I took my note-book, and wrote out the whole plan, and also calculated the
expenses of such a miniature hospital as I proposed; including furniture
beds, household utensils; every thing, in short, that was necessary in
such an institution. With this book, which I still have in my possession,
I went one evening into Dr. Blackwell's parlor, and, seating myself, told
her that _I_ could not work any longer for the fair in the way that the
ladies were doing; and then read my plan to her, which I advocated long
and earnestly. She finally agreed with me that it would be better
speedily to establish a small hospital than to wait for the large sum that
had been proposed; though she did not approve of the scheme of the dime
collection, fearing that I would not only meet with great annoyances, but
would also injure my health in the effort.



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