As to just what the difference between the strength and activity of the masculine and feminine intellect is, we do not propose to say. As to whether the power of the brain is in proportion to the strength of the body, or to its own weight, the fact is, we don’t know. But the news that comes from Cornell, and the last term work in the Senior Prep. and Freshman classes of Hanover are sufficient for some observations.
First: we observe that the question which has so long agitated the mind of so many strong men, “whether young ladies are capable of pursuing the same course of study as young men,” is fast being solved. However broad the chasm may have been between male and female brains, the young ladies are fast bridging it, and the opposers of co-education are fast being driven behind the ramparts of the impropriety of the association of the two sexes in college.
Here they may think they have a safe retreat, but we doubt it, because Western Reserve has lately had this very bulwark tumbled down on them. It seems that the trustees of that institution so keenly appreciated the need of this reforming element around them that they put it there against the wishes of students and faculty. That it is refining to both sexes for them to be associated together none should deny, and the apprehensions of too great intimacy from such association seem to us groundless. It is a noticeable fact that male are far more immoral and female seminaries far more giddy, than where the two are together in a mixed school. When we see male and female schools existing apart in the same town with no other reason than the one referred to for their separate existence we are made to remember the ancient custom of worship, when they had a partition wall between the two sexes.
What a hard time the preachers of that age would have had to get attention if there were any cracks in those walls!
What a hard time
the principles [sic] of those two schools have to-day to keep their students
separated! But they say they are paid for all their trouble in seeing the
maidenly blushes of the young misses, who have lost not a whit of their
original modesty. We have heard of a teacher in a female seminary who,
(as the little innocents filed by on Sunday morn, telling yarns as to their
whereabouts the day before, that would make “Irony” blush,) enthusiastically
exclaimed, “Your blushes doubly repay me for my trouble in watching you!”
No doubt it did. It was our pleasure during the holidays to get a little
information as to the relations of two such schools, in a town of a neighboring
state. My informant said, “we all go to church on Sunday, (but she didn’t
say whether there was a partition), we are not allowed to speak to the
boys, if professor is looking at us, but we have to run the gauntlet.”
What’s that? exclaimed I, almost frightened about her safety. “Be calm
and she and I will explain.”
The boys always get out first and they station themselves down the walk to the number of hundred and fifty, and ten of course we have to walk by. It’s a little embarrassing at first but then we soon get so we like it.
When I told her that our girls went through the basement to avoid passing the boys on the steps, she sighed and looked skeptical, and said that if she didn’t know my mother so well she wouldn’t believe it. I afterward spoke to her mother about sending her to Hanover, but she was opposed to co-education.
It may be well to append to this article, the professed position of Hanover College upon co-education. The purpose of admitting ladies into the college was to extend to them the opportunities which are here afforded for obtaining an education. There are many ladies in the immediate county who can take advantage of our college opportunities, and who would not wish to go further from home, on account of expense and disadvantage of distance, but yet can come here. More than this reason, few ladies’ schools in the west are of as high a standard as should be accessible to ladies. There were none of the common theoretical doctrines of coeducation considered when these doors were thrown open to it. There are, indeed, certain advantages arising to both sexes in their being placed on an equality. A modifying of boisterous manners and, it may be, a better moral tone in general, although Hanover never was known as anything else than a moral place.
There never was a time, and there never will be a time, when a class of comparative rowdies—noisy, scampish boys—will not be found here as elsewhere; the fact of ladies’ presence may tone these down in some degrees; but the reason for admitting ladies is the reason first given, i.e. greater educational advantages to them. As to the lack of ability of women, it possibly did not enter the head of anyone who was concerned with admitting them here, at least, not into the heads of the modernized ones in authority.