Before the Conference:
Johanna W A Naber in De Amsterdammer 4 March (weekly paper).
Mrs. Ch P.G's portrait, her gifts as a speaker, her success in Berlin, Women and Economics, standard work on the women's movement centering in the demand of freedom for woman that she may become a better mother. Economic independence and citizenship must bring great changes in the care for children and housework. Some ideas too American for us Dutch people, but all should go and hear Mrs. G 7 March. "The Home and the World" must be of greatest interest to all, as, after a historical survey, it is going to give an explanation how, in our days of division of labour, we can no longer be contented with dilettantism in the training of children and the cooking of our food. Mrs. G [is] as great a reformer as her great-aunt H.B.S.[Harriet Beecher Stowe]
Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant 20 Febr. (daily paper with largest circulation, Liberal) Our London Correspondent writes: I have to hear Mrs. P.G. not only because she is indeed an interesting woman, but also because she is going to speak in Holland, Berlin and Paris. At the London Congress of 1899, she was already a celebrity, and Woman and Econ[omics] made her still more so. Her change of name has not modified her daring ideas. What strikes Mrs. G in England is its moral and material decay. She attributes it to the wrong education of the children. She is for gradual abolishment of the home, for greater freedom of husband and wife, and for the adoption of the children by the state. The modern woman who, by the way, according to Mrs. G is neither physically nor spiritually a match for the man--should make herself more and more independent of him, as well before as after marriage. In the animal kingdom the human female, she declares, is the only creature which is permanently dependent on the male for housing and food. This brings woman to all kinds of base and always unprofitable duties.
She does her work badly and thus neglects higher social ideals. This must be changed by cooperation, of which Mrs. G gives many instances.
In ordinary intercourse Mrs. G does not at all look a revolutionist. She is tall, rather slender, her clear eyes sparkle with wit. Her somewhat sharp features, which denote energy and sagacity, are not easily forgotten again. Her delivery is conspicuous for pith and boldness, which sometimes verges on independence; sarcastic in her irony, her command of the language as admirable as her power of expression and artistic form.
Algemeen Handelsblad (our best-known daily paper, Liberal) 4 March. Announcement that Mrs. P.G. who is coming to give a lecture on March 7th is the author of W[omen] & Ec[onomics] and of Conc[erning] Ch[ildren] both of which have been translated into Dutch and reviewed in this paper. Bold and daring ideas.
(A good condensed review of the quintessence of both books without the touch of irony, perceptible in the preceding article in the Rotterdamische Courant. A quotation from the last chapter of W. & Econ. The author celebrated as lecturer too. Gold Medal, hon. Member of the Fabian Soc[iety]. Attractive person, full of humour. "We trust that her conference will be very interesting, perhaps it will excite controversy, but at any rate it will offer matter for thought."(probably written by Mr. Israels, who is a feminist and one of the editors)
Shortened accounts of the originals added here.
After the Conference:
(Beginning and end of the report translated, rendering of the lecture itself omitted.)
Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, March 8th 1905
Mrs. Ch. P.G. from America, known in our country by five of her works, W of Econ. And Conc. Ch., lectured this evening, before a large audience, chiefly composed of ladies, on the ideals which she cherishes respecting the subjects that form the titles of the said works. So great was the concourse of hearers, that many had to be refused admission to Eensgezindheid.[A] Mrs. P.G. is a tall woman with attractive, regular features and a pair of dark, earnest eyes. Calmly and empathetically, but with a smile on her well-made lips, she defends the opinions which are dear to her, but which were also opposed in this assembly. In the discussion, it was suggested that the father might possibly have a good influence on the education of the children. Mrs. P.G. thought this might be the case, when occasionally the father is better educated than his wife. But in the working classes that influence cannot be great. Here the speaker emphasized that the raising of the children; not by the mother but by special nurses, is not in reality so strange and novel an idea. Even the family physician calls in the help of a specialist. And moreover the parents do not think themselves competent to give school-teaching to their children as they grow up. But as for the case of the infant, although an individual far more important than a school-boy they suppose they are capable enough for that. Another debater opposed Athens to Sparta. The Spartan children were educated by the state, the Athenians in the family. And therefore Athens was more highly civilized than Sparta was. To this the lecturer answered that in Sp[arta] the children were the absolute property of the state. And her ideas were not so far-reaching as that. The conference ended with loud applause. Dr. Aletta H Jacobs introduced Mrs. G to the audience and thanked her for her lecture.
De Telegraaf (second-rate daily paper. Liberal.) March 7th.
Ch P. G., the celebrated American who, by her lectures in London at the Berlin congress and elsewhere has drawn the attention
of the old world, held a conference yesterday, which had excited so great an interest, that the room in Eensgezindheid proved too small to contain all the hearers, mostly ladies. Mrs. P.G. is not what you call a beauty, but she decidedly makes an impression, and the moment she begins to speak she captivates the audience by her way of delivery. Her English has the American accent but it is pronounced with great clearness and is so simple that it is easily understood by all. . . Mrs. G's speech got loud applause. Some assistants availed themselves of the opportunity to put questions. So f.i. somebody asked whether the individuality would not be lost under the speaker's system. The answer was that it is very common for a mother to believe her own Johnny very different from other children, whereas the teacher will tell you that Johnny is quite an ordinary boy. Mrs. G. does not think the individuality would greatly suffer by a realisation of her ideals, but would on the contrary be promoted. When one of the ladies asked, whether the husband might not assist the wife more in the education of the children, the speaker answered that this might certainly be the case if the husband was a doctor. She recalled the time when children were wrapt up in thick bandages. When the child had been fed, it naturally felt oppression and began to cry. Then mama fell to rocking it, and papa rocked it too, and when it was obstinate enough to be not yet quiet, it was given medicine, because it was crampy. The assistance of the husband in this case does not seem sufficient to the speaker. The more so as he has other occupations of his own. The education of the baby is more important than that of the boys and girls for whose benefit we have schools, and so it is essential that we should provide for it. One of the assistants alluded to Sparta and Athens; in the former the children were educated by the State, in the latter they were not and there arts and sciences flourished. Mrs. G. answered that the Spartans intended to break the family ties, which is not in the least her ideal. She does not propose to draw the children away from the home all day long. And if people say that this creates the possibility that the child may come to love the teacher better than the mother, why then the mother has to consider that it is after all, her own fault.
Algemeen Handlesblad March 8th.
In a crowded room--tickets no more to be had--filled for 98% with women, Mrs. P.G. held in Eensgezindheid her first and for the time only conference in Amsterdam. After a short introduction by Mrs. A.H. Jacobs, who presented her to the audience, Mrs. G. stepped forth. Her tall, proud stature stood very simple and easy beside the table on which her left hand leant lightly now and then; her dark complexion and versatile features, a face which is imposing when it looks earnest and very charming when it smiles, would attract attention anywhere. She wore a simple, tasteful reform-dress in no way peculiar, and had some roses stuck on her breast. She spoke without any paper or notes, very slowly and distinctly, with easy and ample gestures which really helped as explication of the speaker's meaning. There was humor in her speech and something very captivating in the way she smiled when the public was amused. There was perfect ease in her manner and not a whit of offensiveness or affectation. What she said she must clearly have often repeated; she was thoroughly master of her subject, but she treated it in a fresh, spontaneous way.
A hearty applause thanked the speaker. Some assistants availed themselves of the opportunity to ask questions. Miss K asked whether there was no connection perceptible between cooperation and the women's movement. Mrs. G. did not see that connection. Another lady asked if the childrens' individuality would not run the risk of being lost in their common education, which Mrs. G. denied, because after the working hours the children would be with their mother again, and the mothers would be more differentiated than before by their individual work. A third debater thought that the husband might help the wife in the training of the children, but Mrs. G. thought that the father has already done enough. Nor did she expect good results from the training of all women as nurses. Her ideas, she said in answer to another question, have not yet been realized in America, even less than here; she alluded evidently to Miss Boddaert's Home for School-children. The remark that the Spartans with
their collective education had not nearly advanced as far in civilisation and art as the Athenians with their individual education, was answered by Mrs. G. by alleging that Sparta gave too severe an education, entirely separated from the home. And being asked whether the child would not be estranged from the mother and get to love the teachers more, she answered that, if a mother cannot manage in spite of everything to retain her child's love, she has no right to it: "Why should she?" said Mrs. G. in her simple, tart manner. After Mrs. Aletta Jacobs had thanked the speaker and expressed a wish to see her again, the meeting closed.
Evolutie (Mrs. Drucker's fortnightly women's paper. The best women's press-organ in Holland, our sentinel and defensor, but with less than 200 readers) 15 March 1905
There was a crowd 7 March at Eensgezindheid who had come to hear the Apostle of the modern women's movement, Mrs. P.G. Full was the was room and full the ante-room where there was a throng of people without tickets hoping against hope to obtain a seat. At eight o'clock the speaker, accompanied by the Committee appeared on the platform. To us, who knew Mrs. G. since the Berlin congress, there was in her whole appearance and demeanour an air of fatigue, of intense sadness, which threw a cloud over her innate, irrepressible love of fun. Did her subject not occupy her whole mind and were her thoughts absent? Or did she feel shy of the Dutch public, to which she was a stranger and which is always represented abroad as particularly conservative? Mrs. Dr. A. J. opened the meeting on behalf of the Committee and presented to the audience Mrs. P.G., a celebrated speaker from America author of the famous work W. & Econ., translated into nine languages, and Conc. Ch., translated into Dutch by M.K., a relative of one of the most celebrated women in the world, H[arriet] B[eecher] S[towe].
The debate was rather unimportant, yet Mrs. G. found a chance of remarking that if the child's affection should be stronger for another person than the mother, that would be a proof that the other person knew better how to treat her child than she did herself. At any rate the child would be guarded against the concerted overbearing that makes the mother see in her John an oracle, whereas the teacher knowing a lot of Johns, only sees in him an ordinary child that is to be a man some day.
Het Volk (Social-democratic daily paper) 9 March 1905
Yesterday night the famous feminist Ch. P.G. held a conference in Eensgezindheid. Her subject was The Home and the World. Long before 8 o'clock the room was crowded with a very aristocratic audience of ladies, the flower of our feminists. Mrs. A.J. welcomed the American speaker. This lady, an elegant person, pleasant to hear and to see, held an hour's talk about feminism. This superficial speech cannot be called more than a "causerie", and it seems to me that even the organisers must have been somewhat disappointed, when the close came. Mrs. G. reviewed briefly how in the olden time women did all the work and men only did the hunting and fighting. From this she concluded, that, by nature, woman is the labouring force and man is not. Later on man took over the task and he did it much better, as he had only one trade to exercise, which he learnt through the ages, in all perfection. However woman is the being that was destined for work. Nowadays she remains at home and does some work. A world, ruled by women only, would not be perfect, neither is a society of men only. Nowadays all men are born from persons who may well be called housekeepers, servants, for that is what nearly all women are at this moment. If all men were cooks, footmen or the like, that were certainly no better. She wants woman and man to be more human, not woman to be manly nor man to be womanly. The anti's always say that the world is hard and cold, but the home pleasant, warm and soft. This may not be changed. The speaker only wants to make that home better and not inferior. This may be accomplished according to her, if every woman has a profession, lives in the world and not between her four walls alone. But who then is to take care of the child? There is no need of the mother being there. Annually, thousands of children die notwithstanding the mother's taking care of them. Clearly the mother's care is not all-sufficient yet. And the cooking? Neither in that trade satisfactory progress seems to have been made in spite of the number of housekeepers, for how often the food is still badly prepared? And so, neither for the children (the speaker proposes ideal homes for children), nor for the housekeeping the wife is required to remain at the home, at least, if she does not make that her profession.
Thus the wife is at liberty to take an interest in social life. We are inclined to believe that Mrs. G. knew she addressed an aristocratic Amsterdam audience. For it seems incredible that a woman of knowledge and study like her should treat this question so superficially and only consider one side of it, viz. that of bourgeois-life. It was a lecture for ladies, only meant for bourgeois-families. Of the work men's families not a word was said. But even as a feministic speech it was insufficient. To be sure, there were many witty remarks and hearty laughs. But in vain we have waited for an explanation of the economical causes which have awakened women. We are not sure if we understood aright, but we believe to have heard from the president that Mrs. G. descends from the same family as H[arriet] B[eecher] S[towe], the celebrated author of U[ncle] T[om]'s C[abin]. If so, she has not inherited the democratic spirit, the love and the sense of justice which characterized this woman.
(translated verbally from the official organ of the Soc. Dem. party in Holland, as written by the correspondent who is appointed by the editor to give accounts of all concerning the Women's Movement.)
Dear Mrs. Gilman, at last I send you the promised accounts. I hope you will not be angry at the long delay, but I had so much else to do. There is one more paper, Belang en Recht, which gave a short notice; but I could not get it to send it with the rest. It was full of praise for you, but, as the editor is under strong Socialist influence, she remarks that you did not pay attention to the fact that 99% of the children born of cigar-factory workers die in their first year,--as if that would account for the high infant death-rate in a country where only 2% of the women in all are wage-workers! You will see how the socialists here stand with respect to the economic independence of women, and how they feel bound to revile anything that is said by our pioneers. That makes the misery of my life, for my best friend is a Soc. democrat and my sympathies are all that way; only I will never join a party that is against the emancipation of women.
With kindest regards, yours, Martina G. Kramers
Rotterdam, 92 Kreiskade, 9 May 1905
A. Eensgezindheid was the name of a building at Spui 12 in Amsterdam. It means: Unanimity. The building dated from 1837 and contained rooms which could be hired for speeches and meetings.
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