Letter from Emily Davies to Robert Seeley concerning women's higher education
14 January 1869
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17 Cunningham Place, N.W.
January 14th 1869
Dear Mr Seeley
I pointed out to Mr Kirby
at the meeting that the report
contained nothing explanatory,
especially [to] as to the teaching
of History. He said that was
esoteric, and we had better say
nothing about it at present.
I don't quite agree with him.
I think an explanation would
be more enticing than the bare
statement about subjects and
certificates, and would make students
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eager to come. It would I suppose
lay us open to attacks, but that
might not be an altogether bad
thing. Perhaps I had better see
what the others think, and let
you know. It occurred to me some
time ago that perhaps you would
be good enough to give a Lecture
to the Schoolmistresses on the general
question, which should not only
explain the College course but
instruct teachers as to what they
had better do with the girls by
way of preparation. I think this
would be very useful, but I was
afraid it might be making too
much of a demand upon you.
In any case I should think we
ought to have an understanding with
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the Executive Committee, as we
could not very well be saying
this means so and so, without their
I think I might be able to agree
with all that you say in favour
of our setting up a new attestation,
(we do agree about the education)
if I could persuade myself that
we are likely to have the sort of
influence you seem to expect.
Has it every been known in the
history of mankind that men have
followed any good example set
by women? It seems to me that
whatever results we obtained, there
would always be the rejoinder.
Yes, your method suits the female
mind, or character, or sphere. As the
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Pall Mall would say: "It froters (sic) the
imagination and sympathetic faculties
which are the glory of women". Therefore
It is unsuitable for men.
I am rejoicing in the belief, I hope
it is not a delusion? that the
Conservative Cambridge graduates
will get all the advantages of the
progressive system, which they are to
share, with a little useless knowledge
thrown in – as I suppose the Poll does
not demand much of the matter
which is only useful to lexicographers.
I don't much mind being called
stationary, tho' to the untaught mind
the name would seem more appropriate
to the upholders of the traditional
female mind theories. I only hope the
Cambridge Conservatives will see that
giving us Degrees is part of their
Ever yours truly