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I gave satisfaction to all, and received the diploma of
the first degree. This by no means ended the excitement. The students of
the year were next examined. This examination continued for a week; after
which the diplomas were announced, when it was found that never before had
there been so many of the first degree, and so few of the third. Dr.
Schmidt then made it known that this was the result of my exertions, and I
was pronounced _a very capable woman_.

This acknowledgment having been made by the medical men present at the
examination, Dr. Schmidt thought it would be an easy matter to get me
installed into the position for which I had proved myself capable. But
such could not be the case in a government ruled by hypocrisy and
intrigue. To acknowledge the capability of a woman did not by any means
say that she was at liberty to hold a position in which she could exercise
this capability. German men are educated to be slaves to the government:
positive freedom is comprehended only by a few. They generally struggle
for a kind of negative freedom; namely, for themselves: for each man,
however much he may be inclined to show his subserviency to those superior
in rank, thinks himself the lord of creation; and, of course, regards
woman only as his appendage. How can this lord of creation, being a slave
himself, look upon the _free development_ and _demand of recognition_ of
his appendage otherwise than as a nonsense, or usurpation of his exclusive
rights? And among these lords of creation I heartily dislike that class
which not only yield to the influence brought upon them by government, but
who also possess an infinite amount of narrowness and vanity, united to as
infinite servility to money and position. There is not ink and paper
enough in all the world to write down the contempt I feel for men in whose
power it is to be free in thought and noble in action, and who act to the
contrary to feed their ambition or their purses. I have learned, perhaps,
too much of their spirit for my own good.

You can hardly believe what I experienced, in respect to intrigue, within
the few months following my examination. All the members of the medical
profession were unwilling that a woman should take her place on a level
with them. All the diplomatists became fearful that Dr. Schmidt intended
to advocate the question of "woman's rights;" one of them exclaiming one
evening, in the heat of discussion, "For Heaven's sake! the Berlin women
are already wiser than all the men of Prussia: what will become of us if
we allow them to manifest it?" I was almost forgotten in the five months
during which the question was debated: it became more than a matter of
personal intrigue. The real question at stake was, "How shall women be
educated, and what is their true sphere?" and this was discussed with more
energy and spirit than ever has been done here in America.

Scores of letters were written by Dr. Schmidt to convince the government
that a woman could really be competent to hold the position in question,
and that I had been pronounced so by the whole Faculty. The next objection
raised was that my father was known as holding revolutionary principles;
and to conquer this, cost a long discussion, with many interviews of the
officials with my father and Dr. Schmidt. The next thing urged was that I
was much _too young_; that it would be necessary, in the course of my
duties, to instruct the young men also; and that there was danger in our
thus being thrown together. In fact, this reason, read to me by Dr.
Schmidt from one of the letters written at this time (all of which are
still carefully preserved), runs thus: "To give this position to Miss M.
E. Zakrzewska is dangerous. She is a prepossessing young lady; and, from
coming in contact with so many gentlemen, must necessarily fall in love
with some one of them, and thus end her career." To this I have only to
reply, that I am sorry that I could not have found _one_ among them that
could have made me follow the suggestion. This objection however, seemed
for a while the most difficult to be met: for it was well known, that,
when a student myself, I had stood on the most friendly terms with my
fellow-students, and that they had often taken my part in little
disturbances that naturally came up in an establishment where no one was
permitted to enter or to leave without giving a reason, and where even my
private patients were sent away at the door because I did not know of
their coming, and could not announce to the doorkeeper the name and
residence of those who might possibly call.

That this difficulty was finally conquered, I have to thank the students
themselves. My relation with these young men was of the pleasantest kind.
They never seemed to think that I was not of their sex, but always treated
me like one of themselves. I knew of their studies and their amusements;
yes, even, of the mischievous pranks that they were planning both for
college and for social life. They often made me their confidante in their
private affairs, and were more anxious for my approval or forgiveness than
for that of their relatives. I learned, during this time, how great is the
friendly influence of a woman even upon fast-living and licentious young
men; and this has done more to convince me of the necessity that the two
sexes should live together from infancy, than all the theories and
arguments that are brought to convince the mass of this fact. As soon as
it became known among the students that my youth was the new objection,
they treated it in such a manner that the whole thing was transformed into
a ridiculous bugbear, growing out of the imagination of the _virtuous_
opposers.

Nothing now seemed left in the way of my attaining to the position; when
suddenly it dawned upon the mind of some that I was irreligious; that
neither my father nor my mother attended church; and that, under such
circumstances, I could not, of course, be a church-goer. Fortunately, I
had complied with the requirements of the law, and could therefore bring
my certificate of confirmation from one of the Protestant churches. By the
advice of Dr. Schmidt, I commenced to attend church regularly, and
continued until a little incident happened which I must relate here. One
Sunday, just after the sermon was over, I remembered that I had forgotten
to give instructions to the nurse in respect to a patient, and left the
church without waiting for the end of the service. The next morning, I was
summoned to answer to the charge of leaving the church at an improper
time. The inquisitor (who was one of those who had accused me of
irreligion), being vexed that I contradicted him by going to church
regularly, was anxious to make me confess that I did not care for the
service: but I saw through his policy as well as his hypocrisy, and simply
told him the truth; namely, that I had forgotten important business, and
therefore thought it excusable to leave as soon as the sermon was over.
Whether he sought to lure me on to further avowals, I know not: but,
whatever was his motive, he asked me, in reply, whether I believed that
he cared for the humdrum custom of church-going and whether I thought him
imbecile enough to consider this as any thing more than the means by which
to keep the masses in check; adding, that it was the duty of the
intelligent to make the affair respectable by setting the example of going
themselves; and that he only wished me to act on this principle, when all
accusations of irreligion would fall to the ground. I had always known
that this man was not my friend: but, when I heard this, I felt
disenchanted with the whole world; for I had never thought him more than a
hypocrite, whereas I found him the meanest of Jesuits, both in theory and
practice. I was thoroughly indignant; the more so, since I felt guilty
myself in going to church simply to please Dr. Schmidt. I do not remember
what answer I gave; but I know that my manners and words made it evident
that I considered him a villain. He never forgave me this, as all his
future acts proved to me: for, in his position of chief director of the
hospital, he had it in his power, more than any one else, to annoy me; and
that he did so, you will presently see.

The constant opposition and attendant excitement together with the
annoyances which my father, as civil officer, had to endure, made him
resolve to present a declaration to the government, that I should never,
with his consent, enter the position. He had become so tired of my efforts
to become a public character in my profession, that he suddenly conceived
the wish to have me married Now, take for a moment into consideration the
facts that I was but twenty-two years of age, full of sanguine enthusiasm
for my vocation, and strong in the friendship of Dr. Schmidt. He had
inspired me with the idea of a career different from the common routine of
domestic life. My mother, overcoming her repugnance to my entering my
profession, had been my best friend, encouraging me steadily; while my
father, yielding to the troubles that it involved, had become disgusted
with it, and wished me to abandon my career. He was stern, and would not
take back his word. I could do nothing without his consent; while Dr.
Schmidt had finally overcome all difficulties, and had the prospect of
victory if my father would but yield. A few weeks of this life were
sufficient to drive one mad, and I am sure that I was near becoming so. I
was resolved to run away from home or to kill myself while my father was
equally resolved to marry me to a man of whom I did not know the sight.
Matters finally came to a crisis through the illness of Dr. Schmidt,
whose health failed so rapidly, that it was thought dangerous to let him
be longer excited by the fear of not realizing his favorite scheme. Some
of his medical advisers influenced the government to appeal to my father
to withdraw his declaration; which, satisfied with the honor thus done
him, he did on the 1st of May, 1852. On the 15th of May, I received my
legal instalment to the position for which Dr. Schmidt had designed me.
The joy that I felt was great beyond expression.



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