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When men and women
go everywhere together, the sights they dare not see together will no
longer exist.

Fair and serene will rise before them all heights of possible attainment;
and, looking off over the valleys of human endeavor together, they will
clear the forest, drain the morass, and improve the interval stirred by a
common impulse.

When neither has any thing to hide from the other, no social duty will
seem too difficult to be undertaken; and, when the interest of each sex is
to secure the purity of the other, neither religion nor humanity need
despair of the result.

It was while fully absorbed in thoughts and purposes like these, that, in
the autumn of 1856, I first saw Marie Zakrzewska.[1] During a short visit
to Boston (for she was then resident in New York), a friend brought her
before a physiological institute, and she addressed its members.

She spoke to them of her experience in the hospital at Berlin, and showed
that the most sinning, suffering woman never passed beyond the reach of a
woman's sympathy and help. She had not, at that time, thoroughly mastered
the English language; though it was quite evident that she was fluent,
even to eloquence, in German. Now and then, a word failed her; and, with a
sort of indignant contempt at the emergency, she forced unaccustomed words
to do her service, with an adroitness and determination that I never saw
equalled. I got from it a new revelation of the power of the English
language. She illustrated her noble and nervous thoughts with incidents
from her own experience one of which was told in a manner which impressed
it for ever on my consciousness.

"Soon after I entered the hospital," said Marie, "the nurse called me to a
ward where sixteen of the most forlorn objects had begun to fight with
each other. The inspector and the young physicians had been called to
them, but dared not enter the _mle_. When I arrived, pillows, chairs,
foot-stools and vessels had deserted their usual places; and one stout
little woman, with rolling eyes and tangled hair, lifted a vessel of
slops, which she threatened to throw all over me, as she exclaimed, 'Don't
dare to come here, you green young thing!'

"I went quietly towards her, saying gently, 'Be ashamed, my dear woman, of
your fury.'

"Her hands dropped. Seizing me by the shoulder she exclaimed, 'You don't
mean that you look on me as a woman?'

"'How else?' I answered; while she retreated to her bed, all the rest
standing in the attitudes into which passion had thrown them.

"'Arrange your beds,' I said; 'and in fifteen minutes let me return, and
find every thing right.' When I returned, all was as I had desired; every
woman standing at her bedside. The short woman was missing; but, bending
on each a friendly glance, I passed through the ward, which never gave me
any more trouble.

"When, late at night, I entered my room, it was fragrant with violets. A
green wreath surrounded an old Bible, and a little bouquet rested upon
it. I did not pause to speculate over this sentimentality, but threw
myself weary upon the bed; when a light tap at the door startled me. The
short woman entered; and humbling herself on the floor, since she would
not sit in my presence entreated to be heard.

"'You called me a woman,' she said, 'and you pity us. Others call us by
the name the world gives us. You would help us, if help were possible. All
the girls love you, and are ashamed before you; and therefore _I_ hate
you--no: I will not hate you any longer. There was a time when I might
have been saved,--I and Joanna and Margaret and Louise. We were not bad.
Listen to me. If _you_ say there is any hope, I will yet be an honest
woman.'

"She had had respectable parents; and, when twenty years old, was deserted
by her lover, who left her three months pregnant. Otherwise kind, her
family perpetually reproached her with her disgrace, and threatened to
send her away. At last, she fled to Berlin; keeping herself from utter
starvation, by needlework. In the hospital to which she went for
confinement, she took the small-pox. When she came out, with her baby in
her arms, her face was covered with red blotches. Not even the lowest
refuge was open to her, her appearance was so frightful. With her baby
dragging at her empty breast, she wandered through the streets. An old hag
took pity on both; and, carefully nursed till health returned, her good
humor and native wit made those about her forget her ugly face. She was in
a brothel, where she soon took the lead. Her child died, and she once more
attempted to earn her living as a seamstress. She was saved from
starvation only by her employer, who received her as his mistress. Now her
luck changed: she suffered all a woman could; handled poison and the
firebrand. 'I thought of stealing,' she said, 'only as an amusement: it
was not exciting enough for a trade.'. She found herself in prison; and
was amused to be punished for a trifle, when nobody suspected her crime.
It was horrible to listen to these details; more horrible to witness her
first repentance.

"When I thanked her for her violets, she kissed my hands, and promised to
be good.

"While she remained in the hospital, I took her as my servant, and trusted
every thing to her; and, when finally discharged, she went out to service.
She wished to come with me to America. I could not bring her; but she
followed, and, when I was in Cleveland, inquired for me in New York."

It will be impossible, for those who have not heard such stories from the
lips and in the dens of the sufferers, to feel as I felt when this dropped
from the pure lips of the lecturer. For the first time I saw a woman who
knew what I knew, felt what I felt, and was strong in purpose and power to
accomplish our common aim,--the uplifting of the fallen, the employment of
the idle, and the purification of society.

I needed no farther introduction to Marie Zakrzewska. I knew nothing of
her previous history or condition; but when I looked upon her clear, broad
forehead, I saw "Faithful unto death" bound across it like a phylactery. I
did not know how many years she had studied; but I saw thoroughness
ingrained into her very muscle. I asked no questions of the clear, strong
gaze that pierced the assembly; but I felt very sure that it could be as
tender as it was keen. For the first time I saw a woman in a public
position, about whom I felt thoroughly at ease; competent to all she had
undertaken, and who had undertaken nothing whose full relations to her sex
and society she did not understand.

I thanked God for the sight, and very little thought that I should see
her again. She came once more, and we helped her to establish the Women's
Infirmary in New York; again, and we installed her as Resident Physician
in the New-England Female Medical College.

I had never felt any special interest in this college. I was willing it
should exist as one of the half-way measures of which I have spoken,--like
the reading-room in New York; but I was bent on opening the colleges which
already existed to women, and I left it to others to nurse the young life
of this. The first medical men, I felt assured, would never, in the
present state of public opinion, take an interest in a _female_ college;
and I desired, above all things, to protect women from second-rate
instruction.

But, when Marie Zakrzewska took up her residence in Springfield Street, it
was impossible to feel indifferent. Here was a woman born to inspire
faith; meeting all men as her equals till they proved themselves superior;
capable of spreading a contagious fondness for the study of medicine, as
Dr. Black once kindled a chemical enthusiasm in Edinburgh.

Often did I ponder her past life, which had left significant lines on
face and form. We met seldom,--always with perfect trust. Whatever I might
have to say, I should have felt sure of being understood, if I had not
seen her for six months; nor could she have failed to find a welcome in my
heart for any words of hers.

Then I heard the course of lectures which she delivered to ladies in the
spring of 1860. For the first time, I heard a woman speak of scientific
subjects in a way that satisfied me; nor should I have blushed to find
scientific men among her audience. I had felt, from the first, that her
life might do what my words never could: namely, inspire women with faith
to try their own experiments; give them a dignity, which should refuse to
look forward to marriage as an end, while it would lead them to accept it
gladly as a providential help. I did not fear that she would be untrue to
her vocation, or easily forsake it for a more domestic sphere. She had not
entered it, I could see, without measuring her own purpose and its use.

It was with such feelings, and such knowledge of Marie, that in a private
conversation, last summer with Miss Mary L. Booth of New York, I heard
with undisguised pleasure that she had in her possession an autobiography
of her friend, in the form of a letter. I really longed to get possession
of that letter so intensely, that I dared not ask to see it: but I urged
Miss Booth to get consent to its publication; "for," I said, "no single
thing will help my work, I am convinced, so much."

"I look forward to its publication," she replied, "with great delight: it
will be the sole labor of love, of my literary life. But neither you nor I
believe in reputations which death and posterity have not confirmed. What
reasons could I urge to Marie for its present publication?"

"The good of her own sex," I replied, "and a better knowledge of the
intimate relations existing between free labor and a pure society. I know
nothing of our friend's early circumstances; but I cannot be mistaken in
the imprint they have left. This is one of those rare cases, in which a
life may belong to the public before it has closed."

I returned to Boston. Later in the season, Miss Booth visited Dr.
Zakrzewska. Imagine my surprise when she came to me one day, and laid
before me the coveted manuscript. "It is yours," she said, "to publish if
you choose. I have got Marie's consent.



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