Caroline M. Morse, editor
JANE CUNNINGHAM CROLY "JENNY JUNE"
Memories of Jane Cunningham Croly "Jenny June"
TO THE GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS IN AMERICA THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
THE WOMAN'S PRESS CLUB
OF NEW YORK CITY
On January 6, 1902, a Memorial Meeting was called by Sorosis jointly with the Woman's Press Club of New York City, and a month later the Press Club formally authorized the preparation of a Memorial Book to its Founder and continuous President to the day of her death, Jane Cunningham Croly.
In addition to a biographical sketch to be prepared by her brother, the Rev. John Cunningham, this book, so it was planned, should contain such letters, or excerpts from letters, as would illustrate her lovable personality and her life philosophy.
A Committee of Publication was appointed, consisting of Mrs. Caroline M. Morse, Chairman, Mrs. Mary Coffin Johnson, Mrs. Haryot Holt Dey, Mrs. Miriam Mason Greeley, Miss Anna Warren Story and Mrs. Margaret W. Ravenhill. These began their work by sending a printed slip to club members and to Mrs. Croly's known intimates, asking for her letters. But the response came almost without variation: "My letters from Mrs. Croly are of too personal a nature for publication." A few, however, were freely offered, and these it was decided should be used, depending for the bulk of the Memorial upon copious extracts from Mrs. Croly's "History of the Woman's Club Movement in America," from her editorial work on The Cycle, and from her miscellaneous writings. To this characteristic material her long cherished friends, Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus B. Wakeman, added an account of the "Positivist Episode," that objective point in her career, with which her husband was closely identified.
With these are: Mrs. Croly's Club Life, a sketch by Mrs. Haryot Holt Dey; the Sorosis-Press Club Memorial Meeting; the Resolutions of the Woman's Press Club of New York City, the General Federation of Clubs, and the Society of American Women in London; tributes from London clubwomen; Essays and Addresses; Letters and Stray Leaves and Notes, written by Mrs. Croly; tributes from many of her friends, and my own recollections.
CAROLINE M. MORSE, Chairman.
"JENNY JUNE."—Ethel Morse
A BROTHER'S MEMORIES.—John Cunningham, D.D.
SOROSIS-PRESS CLUB MEMORIAL MEETING ADDRESSES: Dimies T.S. Denison Charlotte B. Wilbour Phebe A. Hanaford Orlena A. Zabriskie Carrie Louise Griffin Cynthia Westover Alden May Riley Smith Fanny Hallock Carpenter
RESOLUTIONS AND TRIBUTES FROM CLUBS: Resolutions of the New York State Federation From the Croly Memorial Fund of the Pioneer Club of London
THE POSITIVIST EPISODE.—Thaddeus B. Wakeman
MRS. CROLY'S CLUB LIFE.—Haryot Holt Dey
ESSAYS AND ADDRESSES BY JANE CUNNINGHAM CROLY: Beginnings of Organization The Moral Awakening The Advantages of a General Federation of Women's Clubs The Clubwoman The New Life The Days That Are A People's Church
NOTES, LETTERS, AND STRAY LEAVES.—Jane Cunningham Croly
THE TRIBUTES OF FRIENDS: Miriam Mason Greeley Marie Etienne Burns Izora Chandler Janie C.P. Jones Catherine Weed Barnes Ward Sara J. Lippincott—"Grace Greenwood" Jennie de la M. Lozier Genie H. Rosenfeld S.A. Lattimore Ellen M. Staples Margaret W. Ravenhill T.C. Evans St. Clair McKelway Laura Sedgwick Collins Mary Coffin Johnson Caroline M. Morse Ella Wheeler Wilcox
JANE CUNNINGHAM CROLY (JENNY JUNE) AT THE AGE OF 61
MRS. CROLY AT THE AGE OF 40 (ABOUT THE TIME SOROSIS WAS INAUGURATED)
FACSIMILE OF RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE WOMAN'S PRESS CLUB OF NEW YORK, JANUARY 11, 1902
FACSIMILE OF RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN WOMEN IN LONDON, MARCH 24, 1902
DAVID GOODMAN CROLY
FACSIMILE OF A PORTION OF A LETTER WRITTEN BY MRS. CROLY, OCTOBER, 1900
MRS. CROLY AT THE AGE OF 18
The South Wind blows across the harrowed fields, And lo! the young grain springs to happy birth; His warm breath lingers where the granite shields Intruding flowers, and the responsive Earth Impartially her varied harvest yields. Through long ensuing months with tender mirth The South Wind laughs, rejoicing in the worth Of the impellent energies he wields.
Within our minds the memory of a Name Will move, and fires of inspiration that burned low Among dead embers break in quickening flame; Flowers of the soul, grain of the heart shall grow, And burgeoned promises shall bravely blow Beneath the sunny influence of Her fame.
A Brother's Memories
By John Cunningham, D.D.
The most interesting and potent fact within the range of human knowledge is personality, and in the person of Jane Cunningham Croly (Jenny June) a potency was apparent which has affected the social life of more women, perhaps, than any other single controlling factor of the same period.
Jane Cunningham was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, December 19, 1829. She was the fourth child of Joseph H. and Jane Cunningham, and though small in stature and delicate in organism, was full of vivacity, and abounding in natural intelligence. Her rich brown hair, blue eyes and clear complexion proclaimed her of Anglo-Saxon origin. She was the idol of her parents and the admiration of her school teachers. Her comradeship with her father began early in life and was continued to the time of his death. The family came to the United States in 1841, making their home at first in Poughkeepsie, and afterwards in or near Wappinger's Falls, where the father bought a large building-lot and erected a neat and commodious house, which remained in the possession of the family until sold by Mrs. Cunningham after the death of her husband. The lot was soon converted into a garden by its owner who tilled it with the spade and allowed no plough to be used in his little Eden. It was characteristic of his generous spirit, too, that none of the surplus product was ever sold, but was freely given to less favored neighbors. Happy years were spent by Mr. Cunningham in his shop, in his garden, with his books, and in visiting his daughter Jennie in New York after her marriage when she became established there. It was as nearly an ideal life as a modest man could desire. He lived respected by the best people in the community, and died in peace, with his children around him.
As I remember my sister in early life, the sunniness of her nature is the first and prevailing characteristic that I call to mind; occasional moods of reverie bordering on melancholy only made brighter the habitual radiance and buoyancy of a nature that diffused happiness all around her. She was a perfectly healthy girl in mind and body. A sound mind in a sound body was her noble heritage. She was always extremely temperate in food and drink, fastidious in all her tastes and personal habits, indulgent never beyond the dictates of perfect simplicity and sobriety. Proficient in all branches of housekeeping, her apparel was mostly of her own making. Good literature was a passion with her, and while never an omnivorous reader, she had a natural instinct for the best in language. A spirit of indomitable independence, courage and persistence in purpose characterized her from childhood. She must think her own thoughts, and mark out and follow her own path. Suffering from a degree of physical timidity that at times caused her much pain, she possessed a spirit that sometimes seemed to border on audacity in the assertion and maintenance of her own convictions. From childhood she developed a personality which charmed all with whom she came in contact. Persons of both sexes, young and old, the sober and the gay, alike fell under the influence of her magnetic power. Living for a time in the family of her brother, to whom she proffered her services as housekeeper when he was pastor of a Union church in Worcester County, Mass., she drew to her all sorts of people by the brightness and charm of her personality. Self-forgetful and genuine, interested in all about her, she lived only to serve others, valuing lightly all that she did. Here it was that her remarkable capacity for journalism first developed itself. One of the means by which she interested the community was the public reading of a semi-monthly paper, every line of which was written by herself and a fellow worker. The reading of that paper every fortnight, to an audience that crowded the church, was an event in her history.
Jennie was no dreamer. She was no speculative theorist spinning impossible things out of the cobwebs of her brain. She was no Hypatia striving to restore the gods of the past, revelling in a brilliant cloudland of symbolisms and affinities. If she was caught in the mist at any time, she soon came out of it and found her footing in the practical realities of daily life. Never over-reverential, she never called in question the deeper realities of soul-life. She was no ascetic: she would have made a poor nun. But she was a born preacher if by preaching is meant the annunciation of a gospel to those who need it. Jennie was always an ardent devotee of her sex, and whatever else she believed in, she certainly believed in women, their instincts and capacities.
In the year 1856, on February 14th, St. Valentine's Day, my sister Jennie was married to David G. Croly, a reporter for the New York Herald, and they began life in the city on his meagre salary of fourteen dollars a week. The gifted young wife, however, soon found work for herself on the World, the Tribune, the Times, Noah's Sunday Times and the Messenger. The first money she received for writing was in return for an article published in the New York Tribune. Their joint career in metropolitan journalism was interrupted however by a short term of residence in Rockford, Illinois, where Mr. Croly was invited to become editor of the Rockford Register, then owned by William Gore King, the husband of our sister Mary A. Cunningham. Mr. Croly was aided in the editorial management by his wife, and while the work was agreeable and successful, it was due to Mrs. Croly's ardent desire for a larger field, that at the end of a year they decided to return to New York. The results for both abundantly justified the change. As managing editor of the daily World for a number of years, afterwards of the New York Graphic, and later of the Real Estate Record and Guide, Mr. Croly won an honorable position in New York journalism. He was a conservative democrat of the strictest sort, a radical in religion, and had but little appreciation of the deeper forces at work in society and in national life. But he was able and honest, and enjoyed the respect of his fellow-craftsmen.
"Jenny June" was a person of very different mental and moral mould. Her work soon revealed a new, fresh, vigorous force in journalism. An examination of her editorial contributions to the Sunday Times from March to December, 1861, suggests her mental vivacity, vigor, breadth of view, and uniform clearness and power of expression. The title of the whole series is unpretentious enough: "Parlor and Sidewalk Gossip." All through her journalistic career similar qualities of originality characterized her pen. She was editor of Demorest's magazine for twenty-seven years, and was both editor and owner of Godey's magazine and The Home-Maker. The Cycle was her own creation and property. In each of these publications the dominating thoughts are those which make for social elevation, the honor of womanhood and home comfort and happiness. In addition to this editorial work she was a regular contributor to several leading newspapers in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Baltimore and other cities. She inaugurated the system of syndicate correspondence, and was the author of several books—"For Better, For Worse"; "Talks on Women's Topics"; "Thrown on Her Own Resources"; three manuals; and "The History of the Woman's Club Movement," a large volume of nearly twelve hundred pages.
During the most active years of my sister's literary life, she had also the care of a large household, and her home was always bright and hospitable. The Croly Sunday evening receptions were one of the social features of New York City.
Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Croly. Minnie, the eldest, was happily married to Lieutenant Roper of the U. S. Navy; her early death was a grief hard to bear. The second child, a boy, died in infancy. The surviving children are: Herbert G. Croly, a man of letters in New York City; Vida Croly Sidney, the wife of the English playwright, Frederick Sidney, lives in London; and Alice Gary Mathot, the wife of a New York lawyer, William F. Mathot, resides in Brooklyn Hills, Long Island.
Mrs. Croly, one of the founders of Sorosis, perhaps the most noted woman's club in existence, was its President for many years, and its Honorary President at the time of her death. The cause which led to the founding of Sorosis is an open secret. Women were ignored at the Charles Dickens reception; this was not to be tolerated, and in consequence of this affront Sorosis came into being, an effectual protest against any similar indifference in all time to come. Of the growth of the club movement in the United States, in Great Britain, France, Russia, and in far-off India, I do not propose to enter into detail. Suffice it to say that it is one of the marvels of the modern social and intellectual life of women.
What was the secret of Jenny June's charm and power? Not scholarship—let this be said in all sincerity. How greatly she appreciated the scholar's advantages was well known to her intimate friends. But these advantages did not belong to her. Nor did it consist in inherited social rank or wealth; her earnings by her pen were large, but her patrimony was small. It should have been said before, that she received the degree of Doctor of Literature from Rutgers Women's College, and was appointed to a new chair of Journalism and Literature in that institution. She was also a lecturer in other women's schools of the first rank.
Nor did Jenny June pattern her work according to the advice or after the example of any one man or woman. There was no example by which she could be guided. Woman was a new factor in journalism, and Jenny June was a new woman, a new creation, if I may so speak, fashioned after the type of woman in the beginning, when God created man and woman in His own image. I cannot too fully emphasize the fact that she was a new and original personality in journalism. No one understood this better than her husband. In matters of detail his counsel was of value to her, but the spirit and character of her work were her own; and happily for her and for womankind she could never be diverted from her chosen path. This, indeed, was one chief secret of her success. She was unalterably true to her divine womanly ideals of woman's nature, place in society and redemptive work. I say redemptive work, for it was one of her deepest convictions that woman's function, was to be the saving salt of all life. Sorosis was founded upon this idea;—not a literary club merely or mainly; not a political, social or religious club; but one founded on womanhood, on the divine nature of women of every class and degree.
Jenny June's recognition of this vital truth brought her into sympathy with a world-wide movement. The new woman is no monstrosity, no sporadic creature born of intellectual fermentation and unrest, but the rise and development of a better, nobler type of womanhood the world over. Jenny June's eminent distinction was that she was a leader in this movement. It made her what her husband once said in my hearing: "a wonderful woman." Of course there was the capacity for bursts of feeling on occasion, which those who knew her best seldom cared to provoke. "I am not an amiable woman," she once said to the writer. Radiant as she was, there was a volcanic force in her nature which could be terrific against folly, frivolity and wrong.
Thousands of gifted women are now making themselves heard in poetry, dissertation, fiction and journalism because Jenny June opened the path for them. Womanhood was her watchword, and God, duty, faith and hope the springs of her life. It may surprise even those who knew her well to learn that her physical timidity was great, and at times painful. But her moral and intellectual courage impelled her at times almost to the verge of audacity, and was held under restraint only by conscience and good sense. Humor and wit can hardly be said to have been marked traits in her mentality. There was something delphic and oracular often in her familiar conversation. Sentimentalism had no place in her nature, her reading or literary work. A soul full of healthy and noble sentiment left no room for sentimentalism.
Was Jenny June a genius? Well, if a boundless capacity for good original work is genius, then she was a genius. Magnanimity was a marked trait in her character. Envy or jealousy of the gifts of another were foreign to her. Love of nature, and especially of fine trees, was one of her most noticeable characteristics. "There will be trees in my heaven," she once said to the writer. But works of art, of the chisel, the brush, the pencil and the loom were her delight. She loved the city, its crowding humanity, its stores and its galleries. She loved London even more than New York. Continental travel was her chief pleasure and diversion. A long period of physical suffering, caused by an accident, cast a cloud over the last years of my sister's honorable life. She sought relief from pain and weakness, at Ambleside in Derbyshire, England, and at a celebrated cure in Switzerland, but was only partially successful. The final release came on December 23, 1901, and her remains were laid by the side of her husband in the cemetery at Lakewood, New Jersey.
Noble Jenny June! Shall we ever see her like again!
Sorosis-Press Club Memorial Meeting
A memorial meeting, called by Sorosis jointly with the Woman's Press Club, was held at the Waldorf-Astoria on January 6, 1902, a fortnight after the death of Mrs. Croly. It was attended not alone by the members of these two clubs but also by representatives from every woman's club in New York and the vicinity. Letters from many clubs belonging to the General Federation were read, and from the secretary's report of the meeting have been gathered the following tributes of notable clubwomen to the beloved founder of both clubs.
Address by Dimies T.S. Denison, President of Sorosis
We have met this afternoon to pay a loving tribute to one of the departed of Sorosis, who was for many years its President, and for years its Honorary President.
The loss is not ours alone, for our sorrow is shared by all clubwomen, from Australia around the world to Alaska. Her position will always remain unique. Whenever there comes a time for a great movement there has always been a leader. The Revolution had its Washington; the abolition of slavery its Lincoln; and so, when the time came for such a movement among women, there were also leaders. Mrs. Croly remained, throughout her life, an advocate of everything which was for the betterment of women, and she died in the heart of the movement.
Her perception of the value of unity, of the advantage of organized effort, was remarkable. Perhaps the generations beyond ours will think of her most in that quality, but the women of our time will remember her, as they loved her, for her ready sympathy and her unfailing helpfulness to all women. Though departed, she is still with us, and the beauty of her life remains, in that its influence is imperative.
Mrs. Croly had that particular sense of fellowship among women most unusual. If you will stop to think, in our language you will find that there are no words to express that thought, except those that are masculine—fellowship, brotherhood, fraternity. Mrs. Croly, perhaps more than any other woman in the world, had the sense of what fellowship or fraternity meant in women, and although she sometimes may have been called an idealist or sentimentalist, it is recognized by many women that this thought must be abiding, for in a federation it is the spirit that is current through it that keeps the federation alive.
The last afternoon it was my privilege to be with Mrs. Croly we had a long talk, and it seems to me, in looking back, that Mrs. Croly was then leaving a message with me for all clubwomen. I never heard her speak so eloquently. We talked of some of the problems of the General Federation—its possible disruption. Mrs. Croly said: "It does not matter; if anything happens that the General Federation should be disrupted, another will be formed at once." She had absolute faith, if not in a Divine Providence, that there was a possibility it was part of the human scheme of development that must be carried on through the Divine Will. So, if she left any message for the General Federation, it was this: that whatever our personal opinions are, whatever we think of any question, we are to think first of the life of the General Federation; because in it is the great thought of the fellowship and fraternity among women that is to bring us closer and closer to the millennium.
Address by Charlotte B. Wilbour
When a soul that has worn out its frail body in the work of the world crosses the threshold of eternity, the darkness that gathers around our hearts has in it a relief of light. Nature has suffered no violence; the power of the body has been exhausted in good service, and the tired spirit is set free from the encasement that can no longer serve it. A fond look backward, a hopeful look forward, and the portals close with our benediction.
"A life that dares send A challenge to the end, And, when it comes, say 'Welcome, friend,'"
inspires the wish that we may so fill the measure of our days with usefulness.
The departure of such a spirit would be fittingly commemorated by the grand marches of Chopin and Beethoven, or the majestic requiems of Mozart, rather than by our simple words. And yet they are our hearts' testimony to her in whose name we are assembled and, let us hope, made worthy. To us who believe that life reels not back from the white charger of Death towards the gulf of inanity and oblivion, there is a vivid realization that our words may be spoken to the conscious spirit; and we desire that, in the sacred name of truth, and with the love that comprehends and overcomes, we may speak simply as "soul to soul."
One of the most beautiful lessons I have learned of death is that after the departure of a friend, or even of an acquaintance, our memories retain and cherish their best and noblest qualities and deeds. We repeat their finest words and recount their generous works. The sunshine falls clear on their virtues, and the shadow lies kindly on their faults. It exalts our nature that our minds elect only the lovely and beautiful characteristics of the lost friend. This sublime power in us breaks the force of the bitter criticism of the obituary, the eulogy, and the epitaph—that they are false notes in a hymn of praise. And to us yet living, there is sweet comfort in the thought that our best and higher selves shall remain with those we love and honor. And so shall the good we do live after us. These purified remembrances are links of the chain that binds the humblest to the highest.
In my early womanhood I knew our honored president, a fair, happy, healthy, active English woman; and she appeared to me (sobered by the loss of most of my family) to rejoice in a fulness of life. We were maidens, and her interests and activities were in domestic and social life. I have not lost the fresh memory of her in those days.
She was our president for ten years, and afterwards our honorary president. The activity of her life has made the deepest impression upon me. Every member of our association and of sister associations will agree with me, that never a woman brought a more cheerful and willing spirit to her official duties than did she. She rejoiced in her place, delighted in her privilege, and fully enjoyed the recognition and good fellowship of other clubs. This cheerful service, rendered for years, made her widely known in the club world. She responded to personal influence and suggestions made directly to her. She was most receptive to practical ideas, and adopted methods readily, and her liberal service brought to her just recompense.
For years it required sacrifice on her part to attend the regular meetings of Sorosis, for she had daily occupation, and a lost day must be redeemed. But when an officer she made the sacrifice cheerfully. She was social and hospitable. Freely her house was given to us for lectures, receptions to distinguished guests and business meetings. For years the Positivists held their meetings at her home. She found her pleasure in pleasing, and in helping others gave herself joy. She loved her work for clubs, and you will remember that she had several business enterprises connected with them, during the years that she was an active clubwoman.
I was in this country while she was preparing her history of clubs (not the history of Sorosis), and she brought the interest and enthusiasm of a young woman to the work; with a satisfied pride she showed me the material she had collected for the history. Nothing else to her mind was more important, or to be thought of until that was accomplished. I believe that her usefulness to clubs has been commensurate with the interest and gratification she had in the service.
During the years of our acquaintance our intercourse was genial and concordant, and the results of our early work in Sorosis cannot equal the sweet satisfaction that came with its performance.
In the early life of the club many of us were young mothers, and our domestic duties had strong claims upon us, and one prominent thought in connection with the formation of Sorosis was that the attention of a large class of thinking women, directed in concert towards important domestic and social questions, could be secured; and, while the character of the club should be pre-eminently social, we hoped to quietly bring in important reforms, or at least some effective action on these questions, and, above all, to secure an intelligent social intercourse without increasing our domestic duties and responsibilities. Have we not accomplished this?
As the smallest consoling thought is greater than the most eloquent expression of sorrow, so do we find some consolation in the fact that fate was kind to our friend, and led her away when she could no longer enjoy life, and that she went while with us whose hearts were warm with an active sympathy and tender helpfulness.
Our kind purpose to her name lifts our acts above criticism, and fortifies them by our love and worthiness of intention. Let us live to live forever—so shall we never fear death; let our warm human love be the prophet of a union for greater benefits; and let us have faith in the love that lives in human bosoms still:
"Lives to renovate our earth From the bondage of its birth, And the long arrears of ill."
Address by the Rev. Phebe A. Hanaford, Vice-President of the Woman's Press Club of New York City
I am requested to speak of the excellent work done by its departed president, in and for the Woman's Press Club of New York City. To others is assigned the testimony in reference to the career and work of our departed president as a press woman, and her place in literature.
We are not here to analyze her character, or to chronicle her work. Nor are we here to dwell on those biographical details which belong to the pen rather than the voice; to the book and the reader rather than the address and the hearer. We are here to testify our regard for one whose busy pen is laid aside, but whose example of industry we may well imitate; though in the journalistic field the women of to-day will never have opportunity to emulate her perseverance and fearlessness, since her entrance in times long gone by on this untrodden path bore an important part in opening the way and obtaining results for women with whom the pen to-day is a power.
Mrs. Croly was the founder of this club in 1889, and for twelve years and to the day of her death, its only president. It started (as she tells us in the large quarto volume relating to clubs—which was the closing, if not the crowning, effort of her busy pen) with an invitation sent out by herself in November, 1889, to forty women, a number of whom were then engaged upon the press in New York City, to meet at her residence, and consider the advisability of forming a Woman's Press Club. It was eminently fitting that one who had been stirred in former years by the absence of social recognition in journalism as within woman's province, on the part of the men of the press, and moved to take a prominent part in the formation of Sorosis, should organize a club of women writers—women journalists especially—which should be known everywhere as distinctly a Woman's Press Club.
The response to her call was most gratifying. Her ability as an organizer, and her social qualities which could attract and hold women together in strong bonds of mutual esteem and fellowship, were again evident, and on November 19, 1889, the organization was effected and a provisional constitution adopted.
At first the literary features of the new club were considered secondary to the social and beneficiary, but gradually they grew to their present importance.
In its early days, like most clubs this one was migratory, and its work incidental. Gradually it came to have a more permanent home, and its monthly programmes which, as Mrs. Croly herself stated, "are more in the form of a symposium than of a question for debate," came to be so attractive and varied, and in every way so excellent, that they are often declared to be unsurpassed in interest by any woman's club. This was a matter of exceeding satisfaction to its founder, who saw the club grow from its membership of fifty-two to two hundred. She was never weary of recounting its successes, literary, musical, artistic and social. The Press Club was her joy and pride from its organization to the very day when she last met with its members, devoting on that day her failing strength to a cause that was beyond expression dear to her heart. I think I shall only be saying very feebly what the members of the club, especially those who have been members from its organization, now feel—that they regard her presence with them on the recent day of installation of new officers as a benediction, though they little knew that in her feebleness she was bidding them a loving farewell. When the news of her departure reached them it was received with surprise and deep sorrow. By prompt action the officers at once came together, and immediate measures were taken for appropriate expression of the Press Club's loyalty and love.
Its members are here to-day not only to express their own high regard for their departed founder and president, but also to unite with Sorosis, the London Pioneer Club, and other clubs in the State Federation, who, by their presence, speech, or song, indicate the sympathy they have with those who will hold in fadeless remembrance their ascended president, who has learned ere this, that
"Life is ever Lord of Death, And Love can never lose its own."
As members of the club she, who has now passed into the eternal light, founded may we seek earnestly to walk in the light of Truth, strenuous for that more than royal liberty of conscience, which means liberty under righteous law and seeking for the Unity which obeys the Golden Rule, and thus binds heart to heart. So shall the Woman's Press Club of New York City truly honor the memory of its founder and first president, Jane Cunningham Croly.
Address by Orlena A. Zabriskie, President of the New York Federation
That the New York State Federation should be called upon to attest its love, devotion, and admiration for Mrs. Croly and her wonderful work among women, is a privilege we appreciate, and I shall try in a few simple, honest words, to explain a little of what her influence has been to the New York State Federation. We all know she was an organizer and founder, but it is well to repeat those words, although I think there is little danger that we shall ever forget them. From all over the State have come messages to me from different members of the federation, expressing their love and obligation to Mrs. Croly for what she has done for them individually, and for the State. One letter said:
"I shall think of her always as that lovely, sweet-tempered woman who, under the most trying circumstances, never lost her temper, or felt she was at all aggrieved. She took it in the right way, and was just as lovely and kind at the close as at the beginning."
I saw her at Friendship, a little town in the northwestern part of the State, before the meeting at Buffalo, and there we had a long talk about matters of Federation interest. She gave me some good advice in her own gentle way, that I shall never forget, and I am only too glad to have this opportunity of saying it helped me to carry through that convention as I could not have done otherwise.
What was the secret of her power as an organizer? I think this—she saw the little spark of good in each woman, every woman she came in contact with, and even in those she did not come in personal contact with. She knew it was there and she had the ability to call it forth, and that magnetic influence drew them together, so that they realized that they could do more in large numbers than they could as individuals. Knowing our power, she urged and encouraged us to do our best. When with her we did not feel as though we had a "specked" side. I think it was just that that gave her power and influence in the clubs she founded, to make them live and be a greater power than ever they could have been without her memory and example set before them.
She has done good work, and started us on a task that she saw had practical possibilities, and now we can carry out those ideas of hers, and give them force in years to come. It may take a long time, but we will keep on being patient, cheerful, kind-hearted, and considerate, as she was. Let us therefore be grateful we had her as long as we did. She was for us a grand inheritance, and let us appreciate it.
Address by Carrie Louise Griffin, President of the Society of American Women in London
If I could only command that physical self as I would like to, I would tell you how grateful I am to be privileged to speak, and how much I think we have to be thankful for to-day, in the life of our dear one, which was given us.
I am new in this club, and, as most of you know, my friendship with Mrs. Croly is not yet three years old, but I have been singularly privileged and honored in loving her, and in the love which she gave me.
She came into my life (I must be just a little personal for a moment) as our first luncheon, in our little Society of American Women in London, was about to be given. The president of Sorosis had written to London saying: "Do you know that Mrs. Croly and Mrs. Glynes are to be in London, and I think they would help you?" Bless her, and Mrs. Croly: she came as a benediction to the few of us who were then novices in what we were doing. I can never tell you what a benefit she was to us in the difficult work we had undertaken. You have given me exceptional privileges in coming among you, and I am grateful for the help you have been to me, but I would say to you—and you have given me this privilege—I have never met a woman who seemed to have recognized the birthright in women as the birthright in men, to create that link which binds our powers to our intellect. It seems to me that it was with Mrs. Croly as it was with our late Majesty, Queen Victoria, that she was an influence, perhaps, rather than a power. She conceived great ideas and passed them on for the executive work of others to fulfil. I can assure you she was everything to us. Her English birth gave her an instinctive insight into English character. English women seemed to know and understand her, as she knew and understood them, and there has been no finer link between the women of America and the women of the Old World than Mrs. Croly. It was my privilege to be with her personally a great deal while in London, not only when she stayed in my own house, but when I have gone back and forth with her as her guide to the many functions we attended together. We can all be proud of her. Wherever she went she was not only hailed as the pioneer woman, but also as one who did honor and credit to the name of American womanhood, for, although born in England, she still claimed that she was an American woman, as you know.
I shall never forget a little picture she gave of herself one day. She told us of her life in her home in a little town in the north of England. Her father was a Unitarian, and often had classes in his house for teaching the working people. His views, as you may imagine, were quite contrary to the views of the orthodox Church of England, and the people there rebelled, stoned the house, and wanted to turn them out of the town. The mother said to the father: "I wish you would take little Jennie by the hand, in her white frock, and lead her out to the people; perhaps when they see her they will not throw stones." That was her earliest memory of that little English town. Later, I believe, they left in the night and came to America, in order that they might live out the courage of their faith.
At our luncheon Mrs. Croly said: "I want English and American women to love each other. I remember with pride and honor my English birth. I can see my little room now—a small room with a lattice window over which the roses grew, and as I stood at the window on tiptoe, I could look into the old-fashioned garden below. I stood on an old chest. In the winter my summer frocks were kept there, and in the summer my red woollen dress. I loved it; it was beautiful, and it made me love England. When I am in England and I hear anything not quite kind about America, I am sorry and my heart aches, and if, when I am in America, I hear something not quite kind about England, my heart aches again, because I love it all."
In talking with Mrs. Croly, she said to me, "I hope some day you will come to a General Federation." Quoting Matthew Arnold, she said: "If ever the world sees a time when women shall come together, purely and simply for the benefit and good of mankind, it will be a power such as the world has never known." And she said, "There you will find it." We had talked about it and looked forward to seeing it together, but that will never be. It was her hope and dream that there should be such a General Federation of clubs as to bring in the women of the Old World with the Federation of Clubs in the New, that we might stand hand in hand together. She said to me, "I think you are narrow in your society—its members are only Americans." We have often talked this over, and have decided that in order to strengthen our centre we must keep it, at present, to American woman; but it may be possible to have an associate membership—the thin edge of the wedge looking toward the realization of her dreams.
Address by Cynthia Westover Alden, Vice-President of the Women's Press Club, and President of the International Sunshine Society
Mrs. Croly has left us. Yet I cannot think of her work as ended, of her mission as closed. You may go over every line she ever wrote, you may recall with, microscopic exactness every word she ever spoke, without finding one single grain of bitterness towards any human creature. Her active life was such as must find the ripe continuance of its activity in the better country whither she has preceded us. I feel that there is no hyperbole in applying to her memory the striking words of Lowell's Elegy on Dr. Channing:
"I do not come to weep above thy pall And mourn the dying-out of noble powers; The poet's clearer eye should see in all Earth's seeming woe, seed of immortal flowers.
"No power can die that ever wrought for truth; Thereby a law of Nature it became, And lives unwithered in its blithesome youth, When he who called it forth is but a name.
"Therefore I cannot think thee wholly gone; The better part of thee is with us still; Thy soul its hampering clay aside hath thrown, And only freer wrestles with the ill.
"Thou art not idle; in thy higher sphere Thy spirit bends itself to loving tasks, And strength to perfect what it dreamed of here Is all the crown and glory that it asks."
The women of America owe much to Jenny June. By example she showed them that the career of letters was open to them. Her style, cheerful and vivid, sometimes epigrammatic, always entertaining, was her own. It could not be copied, it could not be imitated, it stood by itself; her career, filled with a large measure of the courage of her success, belonged in the broadest sense to women as women. How many worthy ambitions that career has stimulated to fruition we know not, and never shall know. One thing, however, is certain—that if you deduct from the literature of America the names of women who have followed Mrs. Croly's example and have been cheered by the fact that she did not fall by the wayside, you leave a void that never could be filled. How consciously they have been affected by Mrs. Croly's blazing path I cannot tell; but the influence has been none the less real and none the less powerful.
Woman's battle for literary recognition will not have to be fought over again: it belongs to the past. The old contempt of editors and publishers, aye, and of readers as well, has gone to join slavery and polygamy and human sacrifices in the chamber of horrors. But we can never forget the woman who braved that contempt, and faced it down by achievement that could not be ignored. Mrs. Croly belonged to the period of that early struggle. In her sweetness of temper she lent to its very asperities the charm of a tournament, overcoming evil with good, and triumphing at last over prejudice which thousands of women had feared to face. We loved her for herself. We are sad in spite of ourselves that she has gone. But we shall only remember her as one of the greatest benefactors of woman in literature; one of the most delightful of all the delightful characters that we have ever known.
"This laurel leaf I cast upon thy bier; Let worthier hands than these thy wreath entwine; Upon thy hearse I shed no useless tear— For us weep rather thou, in calm divine."
In the Silence
By May Riley Smith
They are out of the chaos of living, The wreck and debris of the years; They have passed from the struggle and striving, They have drained their goblet of tears. They have ceased one by one from their labors, So we clothed them in garments of rest, And they entered the chamber of silence;— God do for them now what is best!
We saw not the lift of the curtain, Nor heard the invisible door, As they passed where life's problems uncertain Will follow and burthen no more. We lingered and wept on the threshold— The threshold each mortal must cross,— Then we laid a new wreath down upon it, To mark a new sorrow and loss.
Then back to our separate places A little more lonely we creep, A little more care in our faces, The wrinkles a little more deep. And we stagger, ah, God, how we stagger As we lift the old load to our back! A little more lonely to carry Because of the comrade we lack.
But into our lives whether chidden Or welcome, God's comforters come; His sunshine waits not to be bidden, His stars,—they are always at home. His mornings are faithful,—His evenings Allay the day's fever and fret; And night—kind physician—entreats us To slumber and dream and forget.
O Spirit of infinite kindness And gentleness passing all speech! Forgive when we miss in our blindness The comforting hand them dost reach. Thou sendest the Spring on Thine errand To soften the grief of the world; For us is the calm of the mountain, For us is the rose-leaf uncurled.
Thou art tenderer, too, than a mother, In the wonderful Book it is said; O Pillow of Comfort! What other So softly could cradle my head? And though Thou hast darkened the portal That leads where our vanished ones be; We lean on our faith in Thy goodness, And leave them to silence and Thee.
By Fanny Hallock Carpenter
A beautiful soul has journeyed Out from the Now into Then. Her voice echoes back to us, waiting, The sound of the great Amen.
Her life was a song so winsome It sung itself night and day Into the hearts of the people Who met her along the way.
Her life was a flower so fragrant That every one passing her, knew By the perfume from it exhaling, The love out of which it grew.
Her life was a book so vivid That all, though running, could read The story of earnest endeavor Written for woman's need.
Her life was a light whose radiance Brightened all woman-kind, As sunshine wakens the flowers, Or genius illumines the mind.
Her life was a poem so tender It thrilled with its cadence sweet Many a life prosaic, Which caught up the rhythmic beat.
Her life was a bell whose ringing Gave no uncertain sound, Its chiming rang out to the nations And girdled the world around.
Her life was a deed so holy, So noble, so brave, so true, That it set all womanhood noting The good one woman could do.
Her life was a brook, that swelling Grew to a river wide, That freshened the souls of the many Touched by its flowing tide.
The song has trilled into silence, The flower is faded and gone, The book's strong story is ended, The light is lost in the dawn.
The poem's sweet rhythm is ended, The chiming has ceased to be, The deed is fully accomplished, The river has joined the sea.
She dropped the pebble whose ripples To the shores of all time shall extend, She has spoken the word into ether Whose sound-waves never shall end.
She has started a light on its journey Out into limitless space, She has written a thought for women Eternity cannot erase.
A wonderful soul has journeyed Out from the Now into Then, Her voice echoes back to us, waiting, The sound of the great Amen.
Resolutions and Tributes From Clubs
Resolutions of the New York State Federation of Women's Clubs
Mrs. Jane Cunningham Croly
We have tenderly laid away to rest our beloved honorary president, Jane Cunningham Croly, to sleep the blessed sleep that knows no waking in this toilsome, troublous world.
Her gentle soul is at peace, her personal work is accomplished, her useful life is ended. She has been taken from further pain and further labor, to that existence where all is perfect peace, perfect rest, perfect rhythm.
We wish to place upon our records, therefore, our appreciation of the fact, that this New York State Federation of Women's Clubs has suffered such a loss as can come but once to any, a loss like that of a loving mother to an affectionate child.
We shall miss her at our meetings, at our larger gatherings, and at our conventions.
We shall hold her, and the desires of her heart in relation to us, in loving and constant memory.
And we purpose to take up her work, where she laid it down, and carry it on with the same unselfish aims, high ideals, and unremitting patience with which she labored, until we shall reach the goal upon which her farseeing eyes were fastened, and her great heart was set.
FANNY HALLOCK CARPENTER. February 13, 1902.
The Croly Memorial Fund of the Pioneer Club of London
First Annual Report
In July, 1900, a fund was raised by the exertions of Mrs. E.S. Willard, to present a life membership of the Pioneer Club to Mrs. Jane Cunningham Croly, known to all who are interested in woman's work as "Jenny June."
Mrs. Croly had a special claim to this distinction, for she was the originator of women's clubs. The first woman's club was founded by her in New York, March, 1868, under the name of "Sorosis." The example was quickly followed elsewhere, and when, in 1889, Sorosis, to celebrate its majority, called a convention of women's clubs, ninety-seven were known to exist in the United States. This convention led to a Federation with biennial meetings. In 1896, the Federation included one thousand four hundred and twenty-five dubs. The Pioneer is the only English woman's club which belongs to the Federation.
Mrs. Croly's activities were not confined to clubs, although up to the time of her death the movement owed much to her wisdom and energy. She was a journalist, a writer, an admirable critic, and all her life a devoted worker for every movement that could raise the position of women.
She was a dear and valued friend of Mrs. Marsingberd, the president and founder of this club. It was a recognition of their unity of spirit and purpose that made the response of this club so ready that the only life-membership as yet presented, was offered to Mrs. Croly. She was deeply gratified, but unfortunately did not live long enough to enjoy a privilege which she highly esteemed. Her useful, loving, laborious life ended in December, 1901. But she had been among us from time to time. Her interest in us never flagged, and we prize some tokens of her regard. Nor shall we soon forget the stirring words she addressed to us on two occasions, pointing out the opportunities which our association gave for useful work and sympathy.
When the life-membership fee had been paid, some money still remained, and when the question arose as to what should be done with it, Lady Hamilton made the valuable suggestion that it should be used as the foundation of a fund to be called "The Mrs. Croly Memorial Fund," to be applied in sisterly loving kindness to such cases as might arise within the club, where urgent material help was needed. This suggestion was heartily welcomed by a small provisional meeting called by Mrs. E.S. Willard, October 15, 1902, when preliminary steps were taken. At a second meeting, November 25, a definite constitution was formed for the administration of the fund.
It is hoped that the members of the Pioneer Club will do all they can to support this fund, for it is an effort to give some tangible expression to the principles which governed the lives of both Mrs. Croly and our own president. They always unselfishly tried to give loving help to sister women.
January 27, 1903.
The Positivist Episode
By Thaddeus B. Wakeman
"The Positivist Episode was a positive factor in my life."—MRS. CROLY.
Those were bright, sunny, happy, idyllic, and fruitful days of the Positivist Episode, when the first of the two following letters which my wife and I now contribute to the "Memories of Mrs. Croly," were written. That episode, of which these letters represent the beginning, and the end throws an explaining light not only over the life of her whom this memorial is to honor, but over that of her husband, who passed to the higher life in 1889; and largely also over the lives of others more or less associated with, or affected by, the introduction of the study and culture of Positivism into America, of which they may be regarded as the chief promoters.
Yes, as friends of Mrs. Croly and of those dear to her, we may well recall, as she often did, this Positivist Episode as among the pleasantest of her—and may we not also add of ours?—earthly days. The first letter shows the movement well under way, when meetings had begun to be held, and visits to be made to the homes of those deeply interested. Never shall we forget the first of those visits made by Mrs. Croly to our then "almost out of town" home in 116th street, where our house, pleasantly overlooking the East River, was clothed with trees and vines. The Catawbas on a large trellis, trained in stories with upright canes, excited her admiration, and she assured us that she had "never seen nor eaten anybody's grapes with such delight." Naturally, a basket or two of grapes soon followed to her home away down and over to the other side of town at number 19 Bank street. Thus the "vines" and "fruit" referred to in her letter are explained; and with them was thus associated in holy sympathy her love with ours of "the kindly fruits of the earth." Mr. Croly also referred to gifts of this kind in the New York World—thirty varieties of grapes raised under and in proof of the "law of correlation, expounded by the raiser as the law which held us of the world together."
But when our turn came as Positivist students to visit at their home, we found the cosey parlors well filled with the higher samples and fruits of human culture and intellect. Mrs. Croly's social position, sustained by the ability of Mr. Croly and his prominence as managing editor of the New York World, and afterwards of the Graphic, enabled her to call together the leaders, and many interested in the then (and now?) two leading schools of scientific and constructive thought; the Positivist school of Augusta Comte, represented by Henry Edgar and partly also by Mr. Croly and others; and also in contrast therewith, the Synthetic Philosophy of Herbert Spencer, represented by Edward L. Youmans, John Fiske and others. Nor were there wanting those who, like the present writer, would combine those two schools, and more, into the scientific and republican growth of our newer world and life in America.
The initiative of these meetings was a course of lectures procured by Mr. Croly, to be delivered by Mr. Edgar at De Garmo Hall early in 1868. Out of the interest thus excited, Mr. and Mrs. Croly called around them the elements above referred to, including, among miscellaneous attendants, perhaps a hundred earnest students of Positivism and of the higher religious and scientific philosophies. The meetings were not always held at the homes mentioned, but at the home of Mr. Courtlandt Palmer and of other participants. All the parties named, and many others, took part in the discussions of this unorganized circle, until its name and influence reached and interested generally the thinkers of the city. This interest, as the years rolled on, resulted in or influenced the forming of many societies, among which were a Positivist Society, the Society of Humanity, the New York and Manhattan Liberal Clubs, the Philosophic Society of Brooklyn, the Nineteenth Century Club, the Goethe Society, and indirectly a Dante Society and several others. All of the clubs and societies of women with which Mrs. Croly and her work have been associated may be thus included. Certain it is that this "positive factor" in her life was the source from which the new, altruistic inspiration originally came which made her finally recognized as the "Mother of Women's Clubs" and of their beneficent influences—the new life, light, and hope of women, of which they are the beginning.
Nor less should be said for the literature that has sprung from the same source. It began with the "Positivist's Calendar," by Mr. Edgar, and Professor Youmans's admirable collection of articles, and the introduction, on "Correlation" of the physical and other forces, published by Appleton, and never to be outgrown. Then Professor Fiske published in the New York World his able series of lectures on the "Positive Philosophy," which some think he weakened by turning into the "Cosmic Philosophy." Then (for further details are not in place here) Mr. and Mrs. Croly and Mr. Bell and most of us went into literature in some way, to an extent that made quite a library, now mostly lost or forgotten. Would that I could "lend continuance to the time" of those disputants, and show why and how they drifted apart instead of together! For the shadow of oblivion seems to be creeping over all; and against that I, as the last survivor, seem to be their only and yet their helpless protector. Yet we can now see, as they mostly did not, that their divergence was really a "differentiation process," leading each to a higher integration of truth.
Thus, what I cannot do for each, the volunteer seeding of time is doing silently for all, though they noticed not the good seed they scattered. For instance, Mr. Croly wished these words to be placed over his grave: "I meant well, tried a little, failed much." He saw not that the sound seed of which he was a real and great sower, were his well-meant and effective efforts to bring Positivism, as the sum and synthesis of science and humanity, before all thoughtful American people, as the real religion and basis of their modern life. That view of life was then new, but now it is replacing or changing all dogmatic or supernatural religions. In a word, modern scientific thought is becoming practical, constructive, and positive in religion; directed more and more toward advantages in the human future on this earth. The real basis of sentiment is the new science of Sociology and the new sense of altruism—first named by Auguste Comte and first brought to the American people in and by this "Positivist Episode."
It is by the up-coming of such seed as was then sown, that the old issues and their old world have been replaced by the new; which we should gratefully inherit from those sowers. It is said that they seemed to look upon much of their life as failure because they did not see the harvest in their day as the direct result of their hands. How strange that the faith of evolution did not give them the "after sight" which is the crown and reward of those who "mean well," and who "work and hope!"
To Mrs. Croly did come not only the well-wishing and the patient labor, but also a foretaste of her reward. Her days were extended until her purposes fulfilled met the gratitude of her successors. Even "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," referred to in her last letter to us, were warded off by the human providence which, in her own words, "realizes the eternal goodness of the perfection of the order which governs the universe."
Thus her friendships with the many she loved and served have closed with unalloyed satisfaction—to me and mine a sincere friend for more than thirty years! And no words come that I might wish unsaid unless these: "Be careful now, for I have told more than one that you are my god-father!"
From Mrs. Croly to Mr. Wakeman
19 BANK STREET, NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 1870.
My dear Mr. Wakeman:
Thank you very much for allowing us to share so largely in the luxuries of your pleasant home, and in the rewards of your labor. The grapes were a great treat to us, and we have enjoyed them exceedingly. The variety is wonderful; and the difference in the flavors, each one being perfect in itself, constantly excited our admiration.
I hope by this time your term of bachelorhood is at an end, and that Mrs. Wakeman and the children are with you. If she has arrived, please convey to her my acknowledgments for the card she left for me, and say how much I regretted not seeing her. Please also to remind her that next Monday (first Monday in October) is the meeting of Sorosis, and that I shall expect to find her at Delmonico's, corner of 14th Street and Fifth Avenue, at 1 P.M., as my guest. She can walk straight upstairs, and a waiter will send in her name to me, so that she need not enter alone; or she can arrive a little earlier (I am always there early) and see the ladies as they come.
As I have not many occasions for writing notes to you, Mr. Wakeman, I desire to say to you, with the deliberation with which one puts pen to paper, that I am thankful for having known so true a man, and happy that my husband can count him friend. One thing done is worth many words spoken, yet I am doubly glad when words and acts walk harmoniously together.
Always your obliged friend, J.C. CROLY.
From Mrs. Croly to Mrs. Wakeman
7 BENTRICT TERRACE, REGENT'S PARK, N.W., LONDON, December 24, 1900.
MY DEAR OLD FRIEND:
I am sure that you have thought many times that I was forgetful and ungrateful, but indeed the first part of the indictment cannot be laid to my charge. I never forget you, and if I have not written, it is because I have suffered and enjoyed many things during the past two years, and have permanently lost the power of rapid movement, or of doing anything under great stress and pressure.
But now that this wonderful year is ending, this Sabbath of the centuries, I feel that I must at least send my love and unforgetness to you; also my hope that you are finding on the other side of the continent of North America, compensation for all that you left behind in the east, and greater promise for the future.
For all that I have gained for some years past I have to thank my losses. Chief among my gains is, I hope, a little realization of eternal goodness; of the perfection of the order which governs the universe, and the relation of every separate atom to the Divine Unity of the whole. I know Goethe proclaimed it a hundred years ago; but every separate part has to grow to its knowledge for itself.
I wonder how you are spending Christmas. This year seems to me so remarkable that it is a privilege to live in it. I am trying to use its last days as if they were mine, in doing the things I should be most sorry to leave undone.
I expect to return home soon—that is, in a few months. Or rather, as I have no home now, and a trustee has lost the money I had saved and entrusted to him in making provision for my old age, I shall only try to find a corner to rest in.
I hope you have been dealt with more kindly in body and estate. Please remember that I never forget the union of the spirit we once enjoyed—that the Positivist Episode was a positive factor in my life, and that I shall always recall Mr. Wakeman as my chief helper in it.
With love to you and yours, I am unforgettingly, J.C. CROLY.
(It has seemed pertinent and interesting as bearing upon the "Positivist Episode" to here insert extracts from testimonials to Mr. Croly published in the memorial issued at the time of his death in May, 1889.)
From a Testimonial to Mr. Croly, by T.B. Wakeman
David G. Croly must not be forgotten. He rendered our country an invaluable service, not yet recognized. He was the man who planted Positivism in America. The many who have felt, the thousands who hereafter will feel its influence for good, should learn to bless, and to teach others to bless and continue his memory and influence.
In 1867-68 he began his great work. Henry Edgar had the seed from Comte direct, and then tried to sow it in a course of lectures given in a hall chiefly paid for by Mr. Croly. But the seed would not take. After Edgar had gone, the sturdy brain and hand of D.G. Croly took the matter in charge and actually made the growth start. Then the World, with him at its head, evoked and published John Fiske's "Lectures on Positivism," far better in their first shape than when pared and cooked over into the "Cosmic Philosophy." Then came the "Modern Thinker" and "Positive Primer." Then Dr. McCosh came out, in reply, with his volume on "Positivism and Christianity." Then Positivist Societies and Liberal Clubs, one after another, were formed and some continue, whence John Elderkin, Henry Evans, James D. Bell, the writer of these lines, and not a few others commenced to ray out the new light, which never has been, and never will be extinguished. By the aid of that light let a distant posterity read with gratitude the names of David G. and Jane Cunningham Croly, for without them I know it would not have been.
From a Testimonial by Herbert D. Croly
... I should like to relate one incident in the history of my father's relations with myself—an incident which was eminently characteristic of certain aspects of his nature.
From my earliest years it was his endeavor to teach me to understand and believe in the religion of Auguste Comte. One of my first recollections is that of an excursion to Central Park on one bright Sunday afternoon in the spring; there, sitting under the trees, he talked to me on the theme which lay always nearest his heart—that of the solidarity of mankind. There never, indeed, was a time throughout my whole youth, when we were alone together, that he did not return to the same text and impress upon me that a selfish life was no life at all, that "no man liveth for himself, that no man dieth for himself." His teachings were as largely negative as positive. While never, perhaps, understanding the Christian religion as a man with a weaker faith in the truth of his own convictions might have understood it, his attitude was one, I judge, of sympathetic scepticism. He was always endeavoring to impress upon me that, while there must necessarily have been something great and good in a faith that had been the inspiration of so many souls, and comfort of mankind through so many centuries, yet at the same time it was incomplete; that very often the followers of Christ gave more to the doctrine than they received from it; and that the teaching of Auguste Comte supplied what was lacking in the teaching of Jesus Christ. His desire to impress upon me a belief which he held himself with all the force of religious conviction led him to attempt explanations which the mind of a child could neither grasp nor retain. He even discussed, for my benefit, theoretical questions as to the existence and nature of the Supreme Being; discussions, of course, that I could so little understand that it was like pouring water on a flat board. It was simply the fulness of his belief that led him to do this. His desire was that, surrounded as I was by people who burnt their candles at the altars of the Christian faith, I should have full opportunity to compare the Positivist Grand Etre with the Christian Cross. Under such instruction it was not strange that in time I dropped insensibly into his mode of thinking, or, more correctly, into his mode of believing.
While I was at college I was surrounded by other influences, and while retaining everything that was positive and constructive in his teaching, I dropped the negative cloth in which it was shrouded. My change in opinion was a bitter disappointment to him, as several letters which he wrote at the time testify. But intense as was his disappointment, it never took the form of a reproach. This is very remarkable when we consider what an essential part of his character his beliefs constituted. Here was an end, for which he had striven through many years, failing at the very time when it should have become most fruitful. And his disappointment must have been all the more severe because he exaggerated the differences that existed between us. It was his opinion that his negative opinions were necessarily connected with those which were positive; and that it was impossible truly to hold the one without the other. Yet, as I said, his disappointment never took the form of a reproach. "It is your right; nay, it is even your duty," he used continually to say, "to work your own salvation. It has turned out to be different from mine. Well, then, mine is the loss."
From an abstract point of view it may not seem to be so much of a virtue that a father should consider his son's intellectual honesty to be of more importance than his own opinions. But I am not writing from an abstract point of view. We are all but children of the earth; not good, but simply better than the bad. So it was with David G. Croly. His opinions, crystallized by the opposition which they met on every side, were so very much the truth to him that he wished his son to perceive them clearly and cherish them as devoutly as he did. That wish became impossible of fulfilment. Part of his life-work had failed. "Mine is the loss."
From Mr. Croly to His Son Herbert at College
LOTOS CLUB, Oct. 31, 1886.
My Dear Boy—You said something about the divergence between my ideas and those of the philosophers whose works you are reading at college. Let me beg of you to form your own judgment on all the higher themes—religion included—without any reference to what I may have said. All I ask is that you keep your mind open and unpredisposed. In the language of the Scripture, "prove all things and hold fast to that which is good." Be careful and do not allow first impressions to influence your maturer judgment. You say you are reading the controversy between Spencer and Harrison on religion. In doing so keep in mind the fact that Spencer's matter was revised, while that of Harrison was not; and that upon the latter's protest the work was withdrawn in England.
I wish during your college year that you would read:
(1) Miss Martineau's translation of Comte's "Positive Philosophy." (2) Mill's Estimate of Comte's Life and Works. (3) Bridges's Reply to Mill. (4) All of Frederic Harrison's writings that you can find. (5) All of Herbert Spencer's works that are not technical. (6) John Fiske's works. (7) The works of the English Positivists, such as Congreve, Bridges and Beasley.
By noticing the dates I think you will find that Spencer appropriates a great deal from Comte and that he tries to shirk the obligation. It would be well to read the latter's "General View of Positivism" further along.
My dear son, I shall die happy if I know that you are an earnest student of philosophic themes.
Do cultivate all the religious emotions, reverence, awe, and aspiration, if for no better reason than as a means of self-culture. Educate, train every side of your mental and emotional nature. Read poetry and learn the secret of tears and ecstacy. Go to Catholic and Episcopal churches and surrender yourself to the inspiration of soul-inspiring religious music.
Ever your affectionate FATHER.
From a Testimonial by Edmund Clarence Stedman
My intimacy with Mr. Croly began in 1860, when we were together upon the editorial staff of the New York World. We had many notions, socialistic and otherwise, in common. With these, however, we did not venture to imperil the circulation of that conservative newspaper. He was City Editor, and knew his business. I was struck by the activity of his mind, and his combination of shrewd executive ability with inventive skill. I found him a staunch friend, loyal to his allies, helpful to his subordinates; moreover, a man of strong convictions—which he asserted with a fine dogmatism; an idealist withal, quite unhampered by reverence for conventional usage and opinion. Absolute mental honesty was his chief characteristic.
He was a humanitarian, in the Positivist sense of the word. All his aspirations were for the future glory and happiness of the human race. Faith in the reign of law, and a prophetic certainty of man's elevation—these were his religion. As a thinker and talker he certainly was of the same breed with Tennyson's poet, who
"Sings of what the world will be When the years have died away."
He bore good fortune and adversity with an equal mind, and he displayed stoical courage throughout prolonged illness of a most depressing type.
Others will add to your own feeling statement of his varied labors. But let me say that, whether our paths came together or diverged, I always thought of him as in every sense a comrade. His loss makes the lessening roll of those with whom I touched elbows in the old newspaper days seem ominously faded.
EDMUND C. STEDMAN.
From a Testimonial by J.D. Bell
Mr. Croly was a great journalist. He was not a great editorial writer, but he was a great editor. He had the true executive temper and power—that is, the ability to obtain from others the work that was in them. He never made the mistake of endeavoring to do everything himself. He was just, as well as generous to his subordinates, and many of the younger journalists have reason to remember his kindness to them. In any company in which he was thrown he was sure to attract attention, and there were very few companies in which he did not take the leading part by virtue of his ability and not of his self-assertion. He never used tobacco in any form, and was otherwise a strictly temperate man. In his utterances he was often very radical, but in practice he was always thoroughly conservative.
His social predilections led him to study the writings of Auguste Comte. He accepted his doctrines and endeavored to popularize them in writings and meetings, but with very limited success. Indeed, he often said that while intellectually Positivism was in the air, as a social doctrine it was too far in advance of the present age to become popular.
He was essentially a family man and loved his home and household. During the greater part of his married life, however, the exacting editorial duties and literary labors of himself and his wife prevented them from enjoying the society of the home circle to the extent that each desired. Here, as in so many other cases, the individual was sacrificed for the benefit of the public.
From a Testimonial by St. Clair McKelway
... David G. Croly's personality was always healthy and hopeful. He commended with justice, he censured with consideration, he changed or cut out your copy with regard exclusively to the increased value of the article for newspaper purposes. The staff was like a large family under him. Every one's equal rights were regarded, every one's special talents were stimulated, every one's peculiar fads or foibles were genially borne with. Officially he had no favorites. Personally he chose his friends among the staff as freely as he would do among outsiders. The unrecorded kindnesses of the man were fragrant and not few. To newcomers he would intimate what were the prejudices or susceptibilities or limitations of those among whom they were cast. He would be just as careful to see that the old standbys did not make things rough or unfair for the newcomers. He had little respect for the gifts or views that could not be made interconvertible with newspaper results. He took a public view of party questions and rarely a personal view of any questions. Between what he thought and wished as an iconoclast, a reformer, or a reconstructor of foundations and what he was intrusted to say as an editor, he drew the line sharp and clear. While, as I have remarked, he was rarely a writer with his own hand, the articles which he suggested or poured into or pulled out of others were made so eminently characteristic of himself that they were stamped with his quality as truly as if he had written them himself. He was very proud of the success of the men in after life who started on their newspaper careers under him. He followed them with good wishes always, he spoke strong words for them when, where, and to whom they little suspected, and he rightly regarded their success as a vindication of his own prescience in having set them on their way, and also as a gratification not merely to his confidence in his own opinion concerning them, but to the wishes of his unselfish heart in desiring that they should take the pinnacles of achievement in whatsoever field of newspaper work inclination, necessity, opportunity or destiny marked out before them.
ST. CLAIR MCKELWAY. The Eagle Office, Brooklyn, May 14, 1889.
From a Testimonial by John Elderkin
David G. Croly was a strong man. He was strong in his convictions, his honesty, and his capacity to meet all the requirements of life in the most populous, enterprising, and brilliant city of the continent. His strength begot independence, and he was before all else independent in the formation and expression of his views, both on public affairs and those which are more personal and philosophical. He never apologized for his opinions, and his life needs no apology. His mind dwelt on that side of every question which involved the interest and welfare of the whole mass of mankind, and his religious philosophy was pure Humanitarianism. His reverence for Comte was the result of his intellectual conviction that in his altruistic teaching was to be found the only remedy for the wrongs and sufferings of the world.
In personal intercourse Mr. Croly was suggestive, inspiring and encouraging. It was always with a slight shock to preconceived notions and prejudices that one listened to his comments on any current movement or event, for he was sure to take an original and characteristic view which could not be calculated.
From Mrs. Croly's Contribution to Her Husband's Memorial
Mr. Croly was in his twenty-seventh year when I first knew him, but as yet had made no mark in journalism. He had not found his place in it. He was employed as City Editor of the New York Herald—a position which had not then developed the importance which attaches to it to-day—and his duties consisted mainly of making out the "slate" for the staff of reporters, and doing such reportorial work as it was the province and habit of the City Editor to perform. This afforded little scope for a man of Mr. Croly's latent power; and his dissatisfaction and desire to find a new field was the cause of our going West within three years after our marriage and starting a daily paper in a Western town. Had the town been larger the story would have been different. As it was, we spent our money, not without result; for Mr. Croly discovered that his forte was not execution, but direction, and that his fertility of brain only needed a sufficiently wide field to develop powers capable of greater expansion.
He was the most utterly destitute of the mechanical or "doing" faculty of any man I ever saw, and never used his own hands if he could possibly help it. But ideas flowed freely upon all subjects in which he was interested, and he distributed them as freely, knowing that the reservoir though forever emptied was always full. This amazing fertility was in some respects a detriment, for it led him into too many projects, and made him careless whom he enriched, while his dislike of the mechanism of his work made profit for others at his expense. I know no other journalist in New York City, during my own journalistic career of thirty-three years, who has made so many and such diverse publications, or put so much originality and force into the detail of his work. The World, and particularly the Sunday World, which was the foundation of the Sunday newspaper, the New York illustrated Graphic, the Round Table, and other journals were built up by his energy, and owed their most striking and successful features to his suggestiveness. He was particularly unselfish in his estimate of other men and his appreciation of their work. He was as proud of discovering the good qualities of a man on his staff as a miner of finding a nugget, and never wearied of expatiating upon them. Indeed, he did this more than once to his own disadvantage, thus furnishing an instrument to treachery.
I am sure the "boys" of the old World staff, St. Clair McKelway, A.C. Wheeler ("Nym Crinkle"), T.E. Wilson, H.G. Crickmore, Montgomery Schuyler, E.C. Stedman, and others, will look back with a little sigh for the "old times," and for the generous recognition they received from one who was never at a loss for a subject, or for the treatment of a topic, and was always a good comrade and heart and soul sympathizer in their work, its trials and its achievements.
A chief quality with Mr. Croly was faithfulness to the interests he served. This was put to some severe tests; but they could not be called temptations, for disloyalty did not present itself as a possibility to him. His faults were those of a nervous temperament, combined with great intellectual force and a strength of feeling which in some directions and under certain circumstances became prejudice. He could never, in any case, be made to run a machine. He hated the obvious way of saying or doing a thing. He cultivated the "unexpected" almost to a fault, and always gave a touch of originality even to the commonplace. His pessimistic and unhopeful temperament was doubtless due to inherent and hereditary bodily weakness, and to the lack of muscular cultivation in his youth, which might have modified inherent tendencies. His mental lack was form not force; and he had enough original elemental ideas to have supplied a dozen men. In that respect he was superior to every other journalist I have ever known—not excepting Horace Greeley, Henry J. Raymond and Frederick Hudson.
But the time has gone by for ideas. It is not that they are a drug in the market, but that there is no market for them. To-day is the apotheosis of the commonplace, the iteration of the cries of the street, the gabble of the sidewalk, and the gossip of the tea-table; neither originality nor force is needed for such journalism as this, and they may therefore well rest to the music of the pines.
One of the strongest influences in Mr. Croly's life was his acquaintance with the Positivist movement in England, and his interest in the works of Auguste Comte. Up to this time he had experienced none of the undoubted benefit which accrues to every man and woman from the possession of an ideal standard, and settled convictions which inspire or take the place of religious aspiration. Positivism did all this for Mr. Croly, so far as anything could, and he became one of its most eager and devoted adherents.
Mr. T.B. Wakeman, himself one of the earliest and most able leaders, credits Mr. Croly with being the "father" of the movement in this country, and in fact he was the first to make known that any representative of Positivist ideas existed in America. He invited and paid for the first lecture ever delivered in New York City upon the subject; it was given by Mr. Edgar, an unknown "apostle," in a little hall (De Garmo) on the corner of 14th street and Fifth avenue, on a certain Sunday some twenty or more years ago. The result of the lecture was that a dozen people formed a little society and engaged Mr. Edgar to give them a series of Sunday talks on the practical bearings of the religion of humanity. Mr. Edgar was not in himself an interesting exponent of his ideas, but his message inculcated duty, love to man, a life open and free from concealments, the possession of personal gifts or acquired property as trusts to be used for the good of others, and the recognition of value in all that has been and is.
These ideas became more or less an actuating principle. They brought together a circle of men and women of the best quality, who endeavored to live up to their standard, and by work and daily life, rather than by active propagandism, to crystallize opinions into a vital force. For several years the regular meetings were held at our house, the "festivals" of the year being often given at the residences of other members of the society—Mr. T.B. Wakeman, or Mr. Courtlandt Palmer. There is still an "old guard" left, of as good, brave, and unselfish men and women as ever walked on this earth, and though some differed from. Mr. Croly, and from each other on some points, yet they all knew and acknowledged that he brought to them the beginning of the best inspiration of their lives.
Mr. Croly's latest expressed wish was that all the usual forms should be disregarded in the event of his death, except the simplest service and the presence of flowers. "If any one thinks enough of me," he said, "to bring me flowers, let them; but have no elaborate mourning, and bury me close to the earth, near the pines, and facing the sea." The legend he left for his grave-stone was: "I meant well, tried a little, failed much." But this will not be the verdict of those who came under the influence of his strong and many-sided personality.
Mrs. Croly's Club Life
By Haryot Holt Dey
There is a pleasant and not irrational fancy in the mind of the writer that somewhere in space there exists the abiding-place of ideas, and that as fast as earth-dwellers are ready for them they are released. Like a bird the idea takes flight and seeks a home in the brain of some one who is singled out to forward and exploit it for the benefit of humanity. Thenceforward, that person becomes the apostle of the idea. "We are not in the possession of our ideas," says Heine, "but are possessed by them; they master us and force us into the arena where like gladiators we must fight for them." But it is only to the elect that great ideas are assigned, one who either through heredity or by special development is qualified to carry the message. This fanciful reasoning applies admirably to the idea for women's clubs—organizations for women—and in its selection of Jenny June it made no mistake in the character of its agent.
The first woman's club was organized in March, 1868, and was the outcome of feminine protest, because women were barred from the reception and banquet tendered to Charles Dickens by the Press Club of New York City. Among those who applied for tickets on equal grounds with men was Mrs. Croly, then an active, recognized force in journalism, and when the idea of a woman's club took possession of her she had become the most indignant and spirited woman ever locked out of a banquet hall.
Forty years ago it required courage for a woman to step aside from the ranks of conservatism and organize a woman's club; it was regarded as a side issue of "woman's rights," a movement then in grave disrepute. But Mrs. Croly had dared untrodden paths once before when she stepped into the field of journalism, and her experience there had developed self-confidence. She had been writing for women for many years, and through her mission had acquired instinctive knowledge of their needs; and so when the affront was put upon her by her male colleagues of the press she conceived the idea of a club for women. It should be one that would manage its own affairs, represent as far as possible the active interests of women, and create a bond of fellowship between them, which many women as well as men thought at that time would be impossible of accomplishment. Mrs. Croly wrote in her "History of Clubs" thirty years later: "At this period no one of those connected with the undertaking had ever heard of a woman's club, or of any secular organization composed entirely of women for the purpose of bringing all kinds of women together to work out their objects in their own way." And then again: "When the history of the nineteenth century comes to be written women will appear as organizers and leaders of great organized movements among their own sex for the first time in the history of the world."
"The originator specially disavowed any specific object, only asking for a representative woman's organization based on perfectly equal terms in which women might acquire methods, learn how to work together for general objects, not for charity or a propaganda."
"This declaration of principles was the cause of much abusive criticism, as well as failure to obtain aid and sympathy. Had Sorosis started to do any one thing, from building an asylum for aged and indigent 'females' to supplying the natives of Timbuctoo with pocket handkerchiefs, it would have found a public already made. But its attitude was frankly ignorant and inquiring. It laid no claims to wisdom or knowledge that could be of any use to anybody. It simply felt the stirring of an intense desire that women should come together—all together, not from one church, or one neighborhood, or one walk of life, but from all quarters, and take counsel together, find the cause of separations and failures, of ignorance and wrong-doing, and try to discover better ways, more intelligent methods."
Under this banner Sorosis was launched. Alice Cary was its first president. The story of Sorosis from the beginning is a very interesting one; from the view-point of the press its doings and sayings and business affairs generally have always afforded subject-matter for comment and conjecture. Of its early days Mrs. Croly wrote: "The social events of the first year were memorable, for they were the first of their kind, and practically changed the custom of confining public dinner-giving to men. The first was offered as an amende honorable on the part of the New York Press Club, and consisted of a 'breakfast' to which the Press Club invited Sorosis, but did not invite it to speak or do anything but sit still and eat, and be talked and sung to. The second was a 'tea' given by Sorosis to the Press Club at which it reversed the order, furnishing all the speakers and allowing the men no chance, not even to respond to their own toast. The third was a 'dinner,'—the brightest and best of the whole—at which the ladies and gentlemen each paid their own way and shared equally the honors and responsibilities." This is said to be the first public dinner at which men and women ever sat down on equal terms. A report of it in a daily newspaper closed as follows: "The entire affair was one of the most delightful events of the season, and will long be held in pleasantest memory by all who had the honor to participate in it. We believe we violate no secret when we say that the gentlemen were most agreeably surprised to find their rival club composed of charming women, representing the best aristocracy of the metropolis, an aristocracy of sterling good sense, earnest thought, aspiration and progressive intellect, with no perceptible taint of strong-mindedness."
The growth and expansion of Sorosis were watched by Mrs. Croly with the same eager interest with which a mother contemplates the development of a child, not knowing just how its character will shape, guarding it always with love, for a potential force in its directing. It was her spirit that steered it over rough places; that brought harmony out of discord; that inspired, soothed, provided wise counsel, and that many times sacrificed personal feelings for the good of the whole. To do this required mental qualities of a high order—courage, foresight, judgment, and not a little of the martyr spirit. Women had never organized before, and the conditions to be met and the problems to be solved stood absolutely alone, with no precedent to build upon or decide even the simplest question. What firmness was required in the leader at that time, when, for example, women who had been her staunchest allies deserted the ranks because they could not select the club name! It was a firm hand that kept the unorganized body from going to pieces on the rocks of dissension, and it was at that time that the leader proved her inalienable right to her title. She had led women into the field of journalism, and now she was leading them into organization. Clubs began to form in all parts of the country, and when Sorosis arrived at its twenty-first birthday, it was Mrs. Croly's idea that they should all come together, and when the invitation was issued they came. Thus was formed the General Federation of Women's Clubs. At present there are 800,000 women belonging to that federation; each State has its own federation, New York forming first, at Mrs. Croly's suggestion, and now containing 32,000 enrolled members. The General Federation was formed in 1889. The writer recalls the triumph in Mrs. Croly's tone when she replied to the appeal of a man who came to her to beg to be given the names of the women belonging to the federation. "If you choose to send a woman to copy the names," she said, "you may do so, but it will take her more than a week." And the General Federation was less than three years old at the time.