G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Influential friends of my father secured her the election; and
she was admitted to the school in 1839, I being at that time ten years of

The education of midwives for Berlin requires a two years' course of
study, during six months of which they are obliged to reside in the
hospital, to receive instructions from the professors together with the
male students. My mother went there in the summer of 1840. I went to stay
at the house of an aunt, who wished my company; and the rest of the
children were put out to board together.

In a few weeks, my eyes became affected with weakness, so that I could
neither read nor write; and I begged my mother to let me stay with her in
the hospital. She applied for permission to the director, and received a
favorable answer. I was placed under the care of one of the physicians
(Dr. Müller), who took a great fancy to me, and made me go with him
wherever he went while engaged in the hospital. My eyes being bandaged, he
led me by the hand, calling me his "little blind doctor." In this way I
was constantly with him, hearing all his questions and directions, which
impressed themselves the more strongly on my mind from the fact that I
could not see, but had to gain all my knowledge through hearing alone.

One afternoon, when I had taken the bandage off my eyes for the first
time, Dr. Muller told me that there was a corpse of a young man to be seen
in the dead-house, that had turned completely green in consequence of
poison that he had eaten. I went there after my rounds with him: but
finding the room filled with relatives, who were busily engaged in
adorning the body with flowers, I thought that I would not disturb them,
but would wait until they had gone before I looked at it; and went
meanwhile through the adjoining rooms. These were all freshly painted. The
dissecting-tables, with the necessary apparatus, stood in the centre;
while the bodies, clad in white gowns, were ranged on boards along the
walls. I examined every thing; came back, and looked to my heart's content
at the poisoned young man, without noticing that not only the relatives
had left, but that the prosector had also gone away, after locking up the
whole building I then went a second time to the other rooms, and looked
again at every thing there; and at last, when it became dark and I could
not leave the house, sat down upon the floor, and went to sleep, after
knocking for half an hour at the door, in the hope that some passer might

My mother, who knew that I had gone with Dr. Müller, did not trouble
herself about me until nine o'clock, when she grew uneasy at my stay; and,
thinking that he might have taken me to his rooms, went there in search of
me, but found that he was out, and that the doors were locked. She then
inquired of the people in the house whether they knew any thing about me,
and was told that they had last seen me going into the dead-house. Alarmed
at this intelligence, my mother hastened to the prosector, who unwillingly
went with her to the park in which the dead-house stood, assuring her all
the way that I could not possibly be there; when, on opening the door, he
saw me sitting close by, on the floor, fast asleep.

In a few days after this adventure, I recovered the use of my eyes. As it
was at this time the summer vacation, in which I had no school-tasks, I
asked Dr. Müller for some books to read. He inquired what kind of books I
wanted. I told him, "Books about history;" upon which he gave me two huge
volumes,--The "History of Midwifery" and the "History of Surgery." Both
were so interesting that I read them through during the six weeks of
vacation; which occupied me so closely that even my friend Dr. Müller
could not lay hold of me when he went his morning and evening rounds. From
this time I date my study of medicine; for, though I did not continue to
read upon the subject, I was instructed in the no less important branch of
psychology by a new teacher, whom I found on my return to school at the
close of the summer vacation.

To explain better how my mind was prepared for such teaching, I must go
back to my position in school. In both schools that I attended, I was
praised for my punctuality, industry, and quick perception. Beloved I was
in neither: on the contrary, I was made the target for all the impudent
jokes of my fellow-pupils; ample material for which was furnished in the
carelessness with which my hair and dress were usually arranged; these
being left to the charge of a servant, who troubled herself very little
about how I looked, provided that I was whole and clean. The truth was, I
often presented a ridiculous appearance; and once I could not help
laughing heartily at myself, on seeing my own face by accident in a
glass, with one braid of hair commencing over the right eye, and the other
over the left ear. I quietly hung a map over the glass to hide the
ludicrous picture, and continued my studies; and most likely appeared in
the same style the next day. My face, besides, was neither handsome, nor
even prepossessing; a large nose overshadowing the undeveloped features:
and I was ridiculed for my ugliness, both in school and at home, where an
aunt of mine, who disliked me exceedingly, always said, in describing
plain people, "Almost as ugly as Marie."

Another cause arose to render my position at school still more
intolerable. In consequence of the loss of his position in the army, my
father could no longer afford to pay my school-bills; and was about, in
consequence, to remove me from school; when the principal offered to
retain me without pay, although she disliked me, and did not hesitate to
show it, any more than to tell me, whenever I offended her, that she would
never keep so ugly and naughty a child _without being paid for it_, were
it not for the sake of so noble a father.

These conditions and harsh judgments made me a philosopher. I heard myself
called obstinate and wilful, only because I believed myself in the right,
and persisted in it. I felt that I was not maliciously disposed towards
any one, but wished well to all; and I offered my services not only
willingly, but cheerfully, wherever they could be of the least use; and
saw them accepted, and even demanded, by those who could not dispense with
them, though they shunned and ridiculed me the same as before. I felt that
they only sought me when they needed me: this made me shrink still more
from their companionship; and, when my sister did not walk home from
school with me, I invariably went alone.

The idea that I might not wish to attach myself to playmates of this sort
never occurred to any one; but I was constantly reproached with having no
friends among my schoolfellows, and was told that no one could love so
disagreeable and repelling a child. This was a severe blow to my
affectionate nature; but I bore it calmly, consoling myself with the
thought that they were wrong,--that they did not understand me,--and that
the time would come, when they would learn that a great, warm heart was
concealed beneath the so-called repulsive exterior. But, however soothing
all this was for the time, a feeling of bitterness grew up within me. I
began to be provoked at my ugliness, which I believed to be excessive. I
speculated why parents so kind and good as mine should be deprived of
their means of support, merely because my father would not consent to
endure wrong and imposition. I was indignant at being told, that it was
only for my father's sake that I was retained in a school where I tried to
do my best, and where I always won the highest prizes; and I could not see
why, at home, I should be forced to do housework when I wanted to read,
while my brother, who wished to work, was compelled to study. When I
complained of this last grievance, I was told that I was a girl, and never
could learn much, but was only fit to become a housekeeper. All these
things threw me upon my own resources, and taught me to make the most of
every opportunity, custom and habit to the contrary notwithstanding.

It was at this juncture that I found, on my return to school, the
psychologic instructor of whom I have spoken, in a newly engaged teacher
of history, geography, and arithmetic; all of which were my favorite
studies. With this man I formed a most peculiar friendship: he being
twenty years older than myself, and in every respect a highly educated
man; I, a child of twelve, neglected in every thing except in my
common-school education. He began by calling my attention to the
carelessness of my dress and the rudeness of my manners, and was the first
one who ever spoke kindly to me on the subject. I told him all my
thoughts; that I did not mean to be disagreeable, but that every one
thought that I could not be otherwise; that I was convinced that I was
good enough at heart; and that I had at last resigned myself to my
position, as something that could not be helped. My new friend lectured me
on the necessity of attracting others by an agreeable exterior and
courteous manners; and proved to me that I had unconsciously repelled them
by my carelessness, even when trying the most to please. His words made a
deep impression on me. I thanked him for every reproach, and strove to do
my best to gain his approbation. Henceforth my hair was always carefully
combed, my dress nicely arranged, and my collar in its place; and, as I
always won the first prizes in the school, two of the other teachers soon
grew friendly towards me, and began to manifest their preference quite
strongly. In a few months I became a different being. The bitterness that
had been growing up within me gradually disappeared; and I began to have
confidence in myself, and to try to win the companionship of the other
children. But a sudden change took place in my schoolmates, who grew
envious of the preference shown me by the teachers. Since they could no
longer ridicule me for the carelessness of my dress, they now began to
reproach me for my vanity, and to call me a coquette, who only thought of
pleasing through appearances. This blow was altogether too hard for me to

Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | Next |

U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.